Monday, August 30, 2010

I'm gonna have to face it...

my girls are going back to school ;(

I know this is late for many of you, but you can always use this idea for a teacher appreciation gift, too. I just couldn't do it any earlier--I am in denial--and school doesn't begin until next week for us. I have loved having my older girls home this summer to help entertain my younger daughter.

Each year, I send my children to school with a small gift for their teachers. I want the initial impression to be a good one and a small gift helps the teacher know right off that I am here and willing to support her/him any way I can.

This is one of my favorite gifts to send in because it just looks like fall and back to school to me. Also, if you don't want to make caramel apples, you have several apples on hand, some candy that will save for anytime, and a basket that is good for something. In other words, one way or the other, the gift will probably be used!

Here's what you need:

*bushel basket**
*5 apples
*individually wrapped caramel candies
  (about 50 or a 14 oz. package)
*5 craft sticks
*recipe (printable HERE)
*card (printable HERE)
*tissue paper

*I found bushel baskets at Hobby Lobby this year and bought the smallest size. It holds 5 apples perfectly. In the past, I have found these at the Dollar Store. Don't ask me why I didn't buy 17 or 18 of them when I saw them there! You can bet I checked about 10 times this year! I finally gave in and bought them at HL.

Putting this together is self-explanatory. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here you go:

The card with a message to the teacher has a recipe for making caramel apples attached to the back. You can print those out together on white cardstock HERE. I clipped them together with a paperclip for that school-looking touch.

My recipe came from the back of the package of Kraft caramels and can be found here if you want just the recipe.

So simple, but sends a great message to the teacher.
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I'm linking to THESE link parties.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


I'm showing off

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Have you seen it yet?

You know what I mean don't you?
Christmas is starting to appear in the stores!
Hard to believe, isn't it?

I used to feel completely annoyed that stores started advertising Christmas so early. It's not like the stores care whether or not we are enjoying the spirit of Christmas longer; all they want is for us to spend, spend, spend.

Then came the time when I lived in West Africa. Christmas arrived in the store (that's one store, mind you) about 4 days before Christmas. I was so sad. It was hot and it felt like the middle of summer. My children spent their first Christmas in a place that didn't even know what Christmas was supposed to look like as far as I was concerned. I decided right then that I was not going to complain about how early Christmas arrives to stores in the US when I returned. I would just enjoy!

So, yes, my children have not even returned to school this year yet, but we are beginning to see Christmas decorations and gifts on the shelves of some stores. And, we are happy! I am grateful to be here and to enjoy the season--even if it is starting in August. I am choosing to let it remind me to get going on the gifts that I would like to make for my friends and family members and to enjoy the season of giving for a long (long!) time.

And, now for the 25th of the month Christmas reminder...I've been watching for gift ideas that I want to use this year and I have found some amazing ones. These are two of my all-time faves:

Elizabeth at Twelve Crafts Till Christmas (don't you love that??)
came up with THIS adorable idea:
Incredible! Almost makes me want to have another baby just to have a monogram taggie in my home. Actually, I will be happy to just gift this one!

Amberlee over at Giver's Log shared THIS amazing idea (among many others!):
These personalized game pieces are definitely on my list of handmade gifts to make for my own children. No question about which piece belongs to which person and no fighting over which color each person gets!

Both of these bloggers have tons and tons of pretty amazing ideas. Some people just ooze creativity and I love to soak it all up! Go visit their blogs and enjoy--but don't forget to have your Christmas lists ready so you can take notes on what to make and give. There are so many fun ideas you won't know where to begin!

These ideas have been added to my Christmas Linky. You can find it in the menu bar. Do you have a fun idea for a Christmas gift? Please share!
Go HERE to link up!
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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Run, Don't Walk!

If you love containers as much as I do, you will want to run to the nearest Dollar Store to see if they have these:

They weren't one dollar...they were only 50 cents each! Amazing! I can think of so many fun things to do with these. I will save my ideas until a little closer to Halloween, though. Apparently, these were left over from last year. Where was I last year? Maybe you have them already, but if not, go see if they are still available!
{Local readers: I nearly cleaned out the Warren/Central City Pkwy store. I left a few good ones and a few that were missing handles. I didn't see any at the Sheldon/Ford store. Yep, I checked! Good luck!}

Now, if you aren't ready to think about Halloween yet, I also found these in the dollar section at Target.
Lots of obvious things to do with these so I thought I needed a few on hand. $1 seemed expensive after my previous find, so I only got a few. Besides, we still have 3 weeks before school starts again and I am not looking forward to it!

I don't know if I am going to use these this year or not so you'll have to stay tuned. I think they might work better for a Teacher Appreciation gift in the spring.

Just thought I should keep you informed because I am nice like that.
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Monday, August 16, 2010

Sweet & Simple Bird Art

I have been organizing all of my want-to-do-this projects--you know the pages you rip out of magazines and the patterns or ideas you find here and there. The excitement of making these things loses its sizzle when it sits around too long, but can easily be renewed when it is "found" again. So, here's another Pottery Barn Kids knock-off.

The PB bird is made out of metal and is pretty large (24in x16in), but it looks like plain ol' scrapbook paper to me so that is the direction I took it. I also didn't care if it was magnetic--I don't really need another location for my children to stick their junk! So, I made a simple wall decoration that is smaller and just as sweet!

Mod Podge
distressing inks or chalks
foam core board
X-acto knife
bird pattern (fits on 8.5in x 11in paper)
picture hanger

[1] Trace the pattern onto the back of scrapbook paper and foam core board. Be sure to flip the pattern over for the scrapbook paper so that the design is on the top and turned the way you want it.

[2] Cut out the scrapbook paper just outside of your traced line.

[3] Cut out the foam core board just inside your traced line. This will ensure your foam core board is slightly smaller than your scrapbook paper so you don't have to trim the foam core board.

[4] Chalk or ink the edges of bird.

[5] Mod Podge bird to the foam core board. Let sit for about 15 minutes until dry.

[6] Mod Podge the entire surface of the bird. Let dry completely and repeat. I did this 3 times so I had a really thick coat of Mod Podge. This made the scrapbook paper seem more substantial. I used regular paper for one bird and it was kind of ripple-y. I think it is best to stick with cardstock.

[7] Tie a ribbon loosely around the neck of your bird.
[8] Hot glue a picture hanger (either a real one or a little loop of ribbon or string) to the back and hang it up.

I liked these so much I made several--they were so quick!

Sweet and simple!
That's the way I like it!

I'm linking to THESE parties.
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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Love it!

Susan sent me pictures of her triptych dolls - WOW! And you have to know how fast she made these...she emailed on Wednesday with a problem downloading the pattern and I finally got it figured out that afternoon. She had these darling pictures in my inbox by Thursday evening. She is speedy!

Susan also thought of other ideas for these little panelled pictures - like animals! How fun would that be for a child to play with? I think I am going to have to make some silly little animals because I love that idea! Can't you just see a giraffe on one side and an elephant on the other? I love the possibilities.

I think we are both a bit obsessed with this little craft! Anyone else feel the same?

Susan used 3 inch x 2 inch pre-cut wood available at Michaels. I think this is the perfect size to make some for your purse or diaper bag. Wouldn't silly combinations of these dolls or animals be a fun way to pass the time while waiting in the doctor's office or a long line at the grocery store?

I love them! So much fun!

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I've had some problems with access to the patterns I posted for the Triptych Dolls. Here they are individually-- see if this helps with access if you do not have a Google account.

Girl Head - Braids
Girl Head - Bob
Girl Torso
Girl Feet
Boy Head - Hat
Boy Head
Boy Torso
Boy Feet

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Snakes and Snails!

This is a tough area for me. Those years teaching Kindergarten paid off! I can actually draw a boy outline. I think these turned out cute--consider my lack of experience!

Now you can make
 boy Triptych Dolls!
Wouldn't these be darling in a baby or toddler's room?
Feel free to download them HERE  (with a Google Account) or HERE.

Leave a comment and tell me how these work for you!
(Feeling vulnerable about these boys. Can you tell?)

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Monday, August 9, 2010

It's a Trip!

Like many others, I love Pottery Barn. But, what gets me every time isn't the big stuff--a lot of companies carry similar items. It's the details that I love. I found some beautiful PB Kids artwork I love--it was the price I didn't love. The one I made, on the other hand, was very affordable! And, mine was customized to look like my children using colors and designs they got to pick. You've got to love that!

This is one decoration with two sides and lots of options.               

It's called a triptych and it reminds me of a game I played as a little girl. It looked so easy to make and I was mostly right. It took longer to make than I thought, but it wasn't difficult. I used plywood for the panels because my husband has a whole garage full of tools that he lives to use to make things for me. *hahahah* If you don't have access to that, this could easily be made from heavyweight posterboard or foam core board to give it some thickness. Be sure to pick something lightweight, though, since all three panels will hang from ribbons.

To make your own, you will need:

3 panels each 7x9 inches (1/4 inch plywood or other material)
sand paper
several sizes of paint brushes
pretty paper and cardstock
small hole punch (mine was 3/16)
PATTERN for girl (and now boy) dolls (customize the way you want it)
UPDATE: You need a Google account to access the patterns or go HERE to get them individually.
Mod Podge
skinny ribbon or cording

{1} Prepare your wood or other material. Be sure to sand your edges and both sides until they feel smooth. Dril 3/8 inch holes at the center top and center bottom of two panels and the center top of one panel.

{2} Holding your pattern up to a window or light source, trace the outline on the back side of the pattern using a pencil. Flip it over, place it on your wood, and trace your pattern again. Push pretty hard this time. Be careful to stay on the lines and your pencil markings from the back side of your pattern will transfer to the wood. Lightly fill in any lines that don't transfer.

Be sure that the pattern is traced all of the way to the top, bottom, or both top and bottom edges depending on which panel you are working on.

{3} Flip your panels over and do the same thing again with your second doll. Make a small mark somewhere on each panel so you keep the same panels in a set.

NOTE: When I made the pattern, I tried to make sure things lined up from one panel down to the next, but I didn't take into account what would happen when the panel is flipped (left to right) to mix up the dolls. In the end, the panels aren't close enough together for it to stand out, but there is a slight variation.

{4} Paint the backgrounds. I found it easiest to work on both sides simultanesouly so I had all of the painting done at one time. Just plan to work on it a little at a time so each side can dry as you go and you can flip them over to do the other side.

{5} Paint the parts you want painted. I made all of the clothes out of paper, but painted everything else. You can do this whatever way suits you best. I wanted my "girls" to look like rag dolls so that is the way I tried to paint them and kept everything very simple.

{6} Cut up your pattern pieces to make a template for your clothes. Be sure to flip the pattern face down if you trace it on the back of your paper. Again, the pieces aren't symmetrical from left to right so it will make a difference.

{7} Use Mod Podge to glue your paper pieces onto your panels. You should still have lines peeking through some of your paint to guide your way. Be sure to mark and punch the holes through your paper. (The holes aren't punched in this picture. Be warned--it looks like a belly button on each panel!)

{8} Add any details. I kept this very simple, but this is a good time to use a fine tipped Sharpie to add in lines, distressing ink or other details you might want.

{9} Mod Podge over both sides of the entire panel.

{10} Cut your ribbon into small pieces and thread through the holes. Tie each panel together with about a one inch gap and add a longer ribbon for the hanger.

And, you are done!
Now, you know I am all about girls over here, but I don't want to leave anyone out! This would also be great with a darling little boy on it.

Check back tomorrow (not early, though!) for a pattern download
with a boy or two!

I'm linking HERE this week.
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Friday, August 6, 2010

Feeling Faint!

We have been gone all week and got back last night. This morning, I was kind of antsy to check out what has been going on in Blog Land, but had to take care of things first--groceries, laundry, piano lessons. It was so worth the wait! As I went through the winners of this week's challenge at the CSI Project, I saw something familiar:

Check it out. I think my heart stopped for a whole minute...

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Yellow Car!

My girls play a car game that I both love and hate. It's called "Yellow Car" and the object is to spot and count the yellow cars that you see while driving from one place to another.
The rules are pretty simple:

(1) Count all shades of yellow cars
(2) School busses don't count.
(3) When you see a yellow car you shout at the top of your lungs "YELLOW CAR. I have X number of yellow cars now!" (Just kidding! But, this is what my girls do.)
(4) Game starts over every time you get back into the car and go somewhere else.
(5) No trying to play when we aren't in the car.

We have had various scream fests discussions about whether or not certain vehicles count and if you can really count the yellow truck on our street that is ALWAYS parked in the same spot or other really-don't-matter details. In the end, the winner is the person who has the most yellow cars when we reach our destination.

This game is an easy way to distract children from those days when you run several errands and have to be in and out of the car a lot. My two-year-old loves this game, but always loses count of how many cars she has called. She usually just sticks with the number two.

I thought I would make the game a little more tactile and educational for the little people who like to play. And, it just may help my older girls to stop cheating forgetting what number they were on!

The instructions are long, but this is pretty easy!

Instructions for the Yellow Car Self-Contained Car Game:

You will need:
3  small pieces of fabric
Fimo clay
six 8 inch pieces ribbon
stiff interfacing
2 sided fusible interfacing (Heat N Bond Ultra or "HnB" in the instructions)
Patterns for numbers and flap (HERE)
small square of Velcro or Velcro dot (hook and loop)

CARS: Make a set of 6 cars. I used Fimo clay which is baked. The finished product is firm, but a little flexible--not brittle at all and the colors are fantastic. I used a play-do cutter for the basic shape and tweaked it as I went along. Every car is a bit different.

You will need to cut two vertical slits in the middle of your car shape before it is baked. This is where you will weave the ribbon through the shape. Be sure the slits are tall enough to accommodate the width of your ribbon and thick enough to be able to weave the ribbon through the slits.

Follow the instructions for your clay to bake your cars and let cool completely.

A note--you can use felt, fabric, or foam for these cars, but I wanted them to be chunky so a young child with developing fine motor skills could actually grasp them and slide them along the ribbon. You can, obviously, tailor this to meet your needs.

PREPARE FABRIC: Cut two pieces of fabric  and one piece of stiff fusible interfacing 7 inches wide by 13 inches long. One piece of fabric will be the outside and one will be the inside. For the interfacing, I used a scrap from another project so I can't remember exactly what it is, but I got it at JoAnn's in the section with all of the interfacing. It is really stiff--I used it for the brim of a bonnet if that gives you an idea of how stiff it is. It probably doesn't need to be quite this stiff or thick, but I like the way it worked.

Adhere the interfacing piece to the wrong side of the fabric designated for the inside of your game.

ELLIPSE for FLAP: Placing the pattern for the large ellipse underneath the HnB, trace the pattern onto the HnB paper. Adhere the HnB to a piece of fabric that is about 7 1/4 inches by 5 1/4 inches. Cut out the ellipse and then cut it in half the long way. Peel off the paper backing. (And, yes, I forgot to line my ellipse up on my fabric--oops!)

ELLIPSE for NUMBERS: Use the pattern to trace 6 small ellipses on HnB. Cut a piece of fabric that is slightly larger than that. Adhere HnB to fabric and cut out ellipses. Peel off paper backing. Set aside.

NUMBERS: Use the pattern to trace the numbers backwards onto the HnB. You can place your pattern underneath the HnB and hold it up to a window to be able to see the numbers through the HnB. Adhere to a small piece of felt. Cut around numbers. Set aside.

Putting it all together...

FLAP: Sew Velcro to outside on one side of the flap. I marked the center and then placed it a little below that point.

Place the fabric sides of the ellipse together (right sides together) and sew along the outside curve using a 1/2 inch seam. Do not sew the straight edge. It might be difficult to sew because the Heat N Bond tends to stick to the machine. I just added a piece of lightweight fusible (one side) interfacing to the pieces because it is soft and helps the fabric slide through better.
Snip along the curve close to the stitching being careful not cut through the stitching.

Trim seam allowance down to about 1/4 inch.

Turn the flap right side out and iron the seam smooth. The Heat N Bond will adhere the two sides together as well, so iron carefully. The Heat N Bond will make the flap a little stiffer and more durable. Then, sew the flap closed along the straight edge. Sew close to the edge. Set aside.

GAME BOARD: Use a pencil to make a mark 1/2 inch up from the bottom of the game board. Mark again every two inches starting at the first mark. You will have your starting mark and 6 more marks.

Sew your ribbons on by placing the ribbon at the marking and wrapping about 1/2 inch behind the game board. I sewed mine really carefully--going over the stitching line on the ribbon 2 or 3 times. By wrapping it around the game board, I am securing it again.
(This is upside down because I sewed the left-hand side first.)

This is what the back side will look like:

Thread the ribbon through the slits on the cars.

Sew down the right side of the ribbon. I just stretched it taut and eye-balled it to make it level, but you can mark it if you prefer. On this side, you only need to sew it down once because the number part will sew over it again and again to help hold it securely.

Iron the small ellipses to the game board at the end of the ribbon. Be sure to leave a space a little more than 1/2 inch from the edge for your seam.

Applique using a satin stitch or zigzag stitch around the small ellipses to help hold them securely. This isn't exactly my area of expertise, but it worked out okay--go slowly. Then, iron on the felt numbers in the center of the ellipses. Use a straight stitch to secure these to the ellipses. I just stitched in the middle of each number.

Sew the other half of the Velcro to the bottom of your outside fabric piece. Sew on the right side of the fabric. Make a mark 1/2 inch up from the bottom edge and sew close to the mark.

Put rights sides together and sew around three sides. The side you do not sew will be the top of the game board or the short edge that does not have the Velcro attached to it. Trim your corners. You should also trim your seam allowance to 1/4 inch after checking to make sure you have sewn it properly. I forgot to trim mine and it was fine--just a little thick.

Turn your game board right side out. Do this very slowly and carefully since it will be very stiff and it is kind of lumpy and awkward with all of those cars. Be careful you do not bend your cars or they will break! Once it is turned it will sit funny because of that stiff interfacing. Just iron the edges flat being careful not to get near the cars.

Fold the top edge in 1/2 inch and iron to hold it in place. Slide your flap in place being sure that it is inserted far enough to catch it completely when you sew (about 1/4 inch). The side with the Velcro should be on the same side as the cars. Sew along the edge to secure it using a 1/4 inch seam. Topstitch along the other sides in the same manner.
Sew a straight line across your game board in between the 3rd and 4th rows. You can measure to be sure it is centered. It should be 6 inches from the top and bottom. This will help your game fold over more easily.

Your game should fold over and can be held together with the Velcro. My flap is a little small (I corrected this for the pattern you are downloading) and I decided I should have added a small handle, but it works!

You are done! Here is the FRONT:


And, when it is put away, the SIDE:

There you go! A car game for short car rides because, let's face it, the majority of our car time is spent on frequent, short trips that we make every day.

And that's why you need the YELLOW CAR GAME in your car!

I am linking HERE this week!

And, I entered the challenge at The CSI Project also!

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