Tag Archive | diy

Gifts for cold and creative kids

Every year I make something for the kids (and sometimes more people) and this year I was inspired by the fact that they tie blankets onto and around themselves, with various levels of “success” to be part of their games.  I read ages ago that giving kids things that can be used in games rather then specific use objects is better for their imaginations.  I posted about this a few weeks ago when I had just finished #1 and said I was excited to see how they liked them.  I also got an email asking how they liked them so here is the answer 🙂

(If you don’t recall or don’t want to click over, they are capes made from blankets that have a hood and a built-in tie/scarf.  They also have pockets for either hands or stuff.)

I knew when I made 3 identical capes they would be used in very not identical ways and I was not wrong.  In the crush of Christmas they were overlooked a little, but, I was rewarded when we got home when Zoe and Fiona were using them in an elaborate game.

Zoe was a bird in the game and she was using the hand pockets to make wings and loved running around the house.

Fiona was a hunter and tied her hood tight and wrapped the scarf around her whole body to make it a coat and she was trying to hide her sword (bird catching sword) when I made them pose for the picture.

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Niamh actually started using hers instead of a jacket and has worn it out to walk the dog more than once.  She ties a bow in a third perfectly valid, and very sweet, way to wear the cloak.img_4837

We also live in a cold state and our house is pretty tight but there are still cold spots and a wearable warm thing is a good idea so I made myself one too.  I find myself wearing it in the evening for reading time to give extra snuggle time while also keeping my phone safe in the pocket as we transition into bedtime.  So many of my outfits lack pockets…

If anyone wants the how-to on this let me know.  I used $3 blankets and they took me under 20min to make.  I have never seen this particular pattern online but it also isn’t all that unique a design so I may have just missed it.

I have used up my computer time for now so I must get back to the list of things to do (that may or may not include reading the book I finally got to start….)

 

 

 

 

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Suddenly Christmas is in 2 weeks

How does this happen to me every year?  I feel like there is ages to go and then suddenly it is crunch time.

I got the Christmas cards created, printed, address updated and printed, stamps and all in the mail.  I must say that Avery templates have gotten really good.  I used them to make super cute return address labels and they printed out so much easier than using the mail merge.

We have completed our holiday craft item.  I’m experimenting with essential oil sprays and settled on 2 – one full of anti bug stuff to repel anything crawly, and, the other is just good smelling and with the high alcohol content it is really good at taking the smell out of non-washable things.  We did a very scientific test – we took Lars’s riding gloves that are full of years worth of hand sweat and sprayed one and not the other and then got everyone who came over to do a sniff test.  I think we actually did it because while the experimental glove never exactly got to smell ‘good’ it no longer smelled bad and the control was found every time.  More credit to Avery for their printable templates.  I buy the labels and go online and super easily create the perfect size graphics.  I got the kids to do the drawings and I uploaded and tweaked them to fit and I’m happy with the results.

I’m in the middle of the sewing project for the kids.  This year I’m inspired by the fact that they constantly steal all the living room blankets and find ways to tie them onto themselves as capes or dresses or disguises…  I decided to make each of them a cloak with a hood out of a blanket BUT they have built-in scarf/tie to make them easy to keep on AND little hand pockets on the edge that can either be for better wing shape, or, putting things into.  I wish I had a loner kid to test the design, I can’t wait to give it to them!

 

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modeled by Good Girl Puppy who is about the same size as Fiona’s head and torso.  Note the paw pocket on the right. 

 

Decorations are on the scant side this year.  We put a bunch of them into storage and I don’t know where they are.  The 2 boxes we kept out did have some of the most important ornaments and there is enough to look festive overall.  It did hower prompt a Dad-joke.

Lars – “look there is a bare spot”

Me – “where, I thought we found enough to look pretty good”

Lars – “right here” lol

Me – eye roll and laugh, I do love a good bad joke.

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I’m glad the major projects are winding down and the decorations are all up (rather than in totes around the house waiting) so the house can get back to a mostly clean status.  I was reluctant to put up the tree given the ornament situation and that we are always away for actual Christmas.  However, all three kids have remarked on how much they love it and how magical it is that I’m glad we did it.  One bonus to not having our decorations – we had to go get new lights and we finally found a solution to our White v Color lights situation.  Target had lights that are BOTH!  and also LED so I don’t feel bad leaving them on for maximum magical moments.  Even being woken up by a 2am nosebleed is more magical when gently lit by a Christmas tree.

 

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color

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white

 

This is my last full week in MN for the year – next week is my birthday and then we take off for the holiday to return sometime near newyears (not totally planned).  I hope to do the gift rationalization where I go investigate my hidden stashes and see what I need to finish up.  That is my plan for the rest of today before kid time, just wanted to hop online to see how the blog world is doing.

Dress for cheap = cheap

We have all seen the super inexpensive sites with cute dresses or coats for unbelievable prices.  You know there is a catch.  There is always a catch….

When I saw this one though I was hooked.  It was the A-line, it was the cool top, and the real reason I forked over the price of 3 coffees was the fabric.  I wanted it for Christmas and it has been ages since I got a dress for an occasion so I took the risk.

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Note!  I have done some research on this topic, I’m not the first person to take a risk and so I learned from others that the sizes are very very very different.  I zoomed in on the size chart and found myself ordering an XL as that best correlated to my 6-8 American size.

I also know that shipping is slow but since I was seeing this two weeks before Thanksgiving I crossed my fingers and hoped it would arrive before Christmas travel.

  • It arrived yesterday, about a month later but in plenty of time
  • Right out of the package it needed an iron but otherwise, construction was decent.  Finished seams and the zipper worked.
  • Fabric was as cute as I hoped, very pleased with the print.

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The real test was fit.  I tried it on and it was both too big and too small at the same time.

I absolutely had to do some tailoring on the sides so I didn’t even bother taking a picture of it on me before I took out 2 inches on each side because instead of the hourglass shape in the model picture, mine was more of a cylinder with a pleated skirt.  Trimming in the sides did  make it better, I solved the ‘too big’ issue in just a few seams.

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black lines are where I pulled it in.

So here you see it.  It isn’t ‘bad’ but it sure isn’t good.img_4744

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Do you see where my hands are? They are on my natural waist, about where the skirt should be…  it isn’t.  It is two inches or more off and it makes the proportions of the top look wrong to me (and to the other people who saw it on me).  It looks frumpy and even if I carved out another inch or so to make it actually tight I can’t fix the length of my top.

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The second odd situation is the bust area.  I like the way the structure looks (still needs an iron) but it too high for my chest.  Ironically if I pull it down to be in the right spot for my chest then the waist is closer to correct but it is impossible to actually make it stay like that.  Maybe the shoulders are wrong?  If I added length to the shoulder then the armhole would be so big you could see my entire bra.  The armhole is actually the only thing that is about perfect.

I think the only way to salvage is to chop the top off and have a cute skirt with adorable fabric.  This is a test shot with the top folded down.  While I’m at it, I might shorten it a touch to be knee length instead of tea length but I’ll see about that later.  Since I’m cutting and sewing already I’ll probably add pockets.

In the end, I’ll end up with a skirt I can probably wear more frequently than once a year for Christmas but I’ll also have put in the time to make it happen.  I do like that it already has a zipper, that is my least favorite part and if someone said that they would do the zipper on a skirt for me for the price of 3 coffees I would absolutely do that.

I think I learned my lesson on internet cheap dresses.  Unless I’m looking at it for the fabric, it is not worth the price regardless how low it is.

Christmas is coming!

Every year I’ve tried to do a little something handmade for Christmas.  The kids have caught the bug and love to make things for people.  Sometimes the results are questionable … but I’ve found that I can really impact the quality of the product by providing good materials.  In fact, if you just give them good supplies and no guidance you sometimes get some really creative things.

The theory is – if they can string pasta on yarn, they can string pretty beads on a nice chord.  Understandably this is a choking hazard for little little kids but if you can trust them to not eat the goods, you can give them good things to work with.

I started with Oriental Trading Company online looking for some cool bits and pieces for them to create into gifts for teachers and friends.  Oriental Trading is my go-to, not just because they sponsored this post but because the prices are fantastic for the quality AND it isn’t the ‘same old stuff’ you find in the craft area of WalMart or Joanns.  By virtue of being online, they can have a million things for Christmas or charms for any hobby where a store has to limit what is on the shelves.  Niamh actually helped some this year and selected a cute bunch of snowflake charms, a winter mix of charms, and a solid style bracelet.  I supplemented with a specialized ‘teacher pack’ and per Zoe request something ‘with a dog and best friend’.

It all arrived and the kids could not contain themselves.  I had to hold them back from instant creation because we were about to eat Thanksgiving dinner and that is NOT the time to bust out the beads.  When things mellowed out the got to the organizing side of things, sorting out all the different things into our ‘upcycled’ craft organizer – egg crates.

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The rest I left up to them.  Niamh went classic with an arrangement of charms on a bracelet, she even made a custom on for her snow hating teacher.

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Fiona went a totally different way and used almost all large beads and then put the whole thing on a necklace and it looks pretty cool like a big pendant.

Niamh actually did way more on the bracelet, adding spacer beads etc but just in case her teacher is reading I’ll keep some details a surprise for Christmas!

I love that they feel confident that people will love what they create, I love helping build that confidence by giving them the tools to actually make quality things.  And by ‘make’ I mean like how I ‘make’ a cake from a nice packaged box and some eggs and water – There is no way I can make as good from scratch in as little time with as consistent results.

Jasmine!

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This year with all the extra work I’m doing I can’t handcraft each costume so step one was the thrift store for all 3 girls.  We scored on 2 (Amazon took care of 3) and here is my incredibly easy Jasmine costume.

  1. We got lucky at the store to find a women’s skirt in the right color and with gorgeous Indian beading.  I was really just looking for a skirt in the correct color and gauzy fabric so I think that even if you don’t find something beaded you can find something ‘right’img_4236.jpg I took some ribbon and stitched it onto the top to make two straps.  We were lucky that the fit was pretty good otherwise but my plan was to make a few tucks if it was too big.  The extra perk is that the length lets us get away with normal leggings, not poofy pants, and, since it is so pretty she doesn’t notice that it isn’t the belly showing style that Jasmine actually wears.  This works much better for a 5 year old.

2.  For the iconic hair, I got a simple black wig and some foldover elastic in the right color. It was easy to tie 3 spots to make just the right hairdo for Jasmine.  Foldover elastic is easier than ribbon since it won’t slip.

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3. The key to costumes is getting some details right and for Jasmine, the headband with the jewel is the most memorable.  I used Sculpey clay and got a pack of ‘gems’ that had a big one in the right blue.  The only trick I did was in order of operations;

  • make the round piece of clay and press the jewel into it to make an imprint.  Remove jewel and poke 4 holes in the imprint like buttonholes
  • bake Sculpey clay
  • sew the gold onto a length of foldover elastic, just like a button
  • glue gem into its spot, covering the sewing
  • position the headband onto the wig and pin/sewimg_4295

We tried to make the gold necklace and hoop earrings also out of Sculpey clay.  The earrings worked but I’m not sure they are worth it since the hair covers her ears and the clips hurt her after 10 min.  The necklace was a failure, broke in 5 min so we scratched that and just used the pretty chunky necklace in the right color (also a thrift find).

This entire thing had about 10min of hand sewing, some creative shopping, preschool level sculpting, and hot glue.  I won’t be winning any cosplay prizes but I think she captures the spirit of the princess and she loves it.  It cost about $15 total and I think she will actually wear the dress again and NOT look like a costume.

 

Week long weekend

Yesterday was Monday, my well-documented love of Monday persists.  It is the day to put things back together or start new things.  The kids happily went off to school because, for them, this is a 3 day week.  They have Thursday through Monday off for Minnesota’s best made up holiday – MEA (?) weekend.  It is a conference, I think, maybe hunting opens?  I’m not even sure but I am just glad that random school vacations don’t mean career limiting moves.

I’m cramming what I normally do all week into 3 days but I’m also plotting what we can all do together.  Sometimes they are fantastic at helping, sometimes I don’t get anything done.  We will have to see…  I can say my goal is to get all the winter and summer stuff swapped and maybe, just maybe, make it so a car could park in our garage.  Aim high you know.

The title works a little for last weekend too.  While not actually a week long, Lars left for an event in way far away South Dakota (11 hours and an entire time zone away) on Friday morning.  I had Friday solo and decided to take the opportunity to do one of the local hikes that I had been meaning to do for years.  There was a set of difficult people on facebook (politics.. ugh) so a few hours outside taking pictures of fall leaves was just what I needed.  I did try and do something responsible by replacing the lightbulbs in my laundry room fixture and I say try because while I did get them replaced I did it wrong and actually broke the fixture…  oops put that problem on the shelf for Monday…

My solo weekend was well planned to NOT be particularly solo.  Friday we had a long wished for sleepover with one of Zoe’s friends.  It was more work than it should have been, who thinks bringing logs from the backyard into the bedroom is a good idea? Saturday morning was not up to par for sleepover fun because we all had early things to do, she had a soccer game and we had a vote yes event.  The event went well, there was a great playground but don’t you know it Fiona fell and smashed her face.  Not the best exit queue but gets the others going. img_4243

The kids were a bit terrible with fighting on Saturday after we got home and my nerves were on edge from dealing with yahoo trolls on the internet, so I was a bit shouty and separated them all but had a light at the end of the tunnel – we had an afternoon outing planned with our old daycare friends.  They arrived after lunch and we all went out to the girlscout haunted camp event and it was really fun.  The kids pulled it together and were happy and cooperative and Jon is one of those friends that it feels like no time passes.  We left the camp due to rain but had been there for 4 hours already! They stayed for some pizza and it was a fun cap to the day.

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Sunday everyone actually slept in, making up a bit of sleepover sleep debt.  They also played together like it was their job.  So well that I called a friend to watch them so I could grocery shop because they didn’t want to leave their game.  I needed to tidy and shop because Lars’s cousin was coming to town and we have not seen her (in person) for 6 years or more.  Vacation Mom also saved the day by whisking in and talking them all swimming so I could get in a quick workout and finish the cleaning.  Everyone needs an extra mom friend on hand!  Lars got home just after his cousin arrived and the visit was fantastic. We got all the family info and played a game and had a lovely dinner.  She even showed us how to use snapchat, I can’t wait to totally figure it out but it really works well as a kid distractor. The kids were good and while they ducked a few of their standard Sunday chores I’ll take it for their generally great behavior.

It was a long 3 days, I needed my Monday yesterday.  Instead of just getting ahead though I decided it was time to fix all the lighting issues in the house.  That is a story for tomorrow where hopefully I have a happy ending to the saga but let’s just say if you want some customer service, just drop a giant fluorescent bulb in the store.