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Step Seven: A Brand New Desk

I had a really difficult time figuring out what to get J for Christmas this year.  Last year with did a kitchen theme:  Hubby made a DIY kitchen and I painted it (you can see it here) and then went crazy buying food, pots, pans, etc.  At the time she wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about it, but she’s gotten a ton of use out of it the last year.  Although I do admit that she would’ve gotten even more use out of it if she’d received it the year before instead.  But that’s okay…she uses it and that’s all that matters!

But this year I was at a complete loss.  She has a bike and a scooter.  She was obsessed with Barbies last year, but hasn’t played with them much the past few months.  I’m really strict on TV so there wasn’t even a question about giving her something like that for her room.  She rarely plays with her LeapPad.  Even dress up clothes have been on a decline since she started school.  For all of November I fretted about what to do.  Although I could just give her a bunch of random small things, that’s not how I like to do Christmas.  I’d rather do one big present and get small presents that tie back to the big present, with maybe a random extra thing or two.

I finally decided on a desk.  Arts and crafts are really the only thing that she’s consistently been doing since starting school.  And although we have our Art Activity Center and she has a craft table and a whole bunch of craft supplies downstairs, C is also starting to really get into it.  And by that I mean eating markers, crayons, chalk, paint…basically anything he can get his hands on.  As a result her stuff is ruined.  So I figured we could get her a desk to go in her room that can be used for arts and crafts now and then homework in the future.  I could get her a whole bunch of new supplies which would be kept in her room, away from wandering hands (and mouth).  I knew it wasn’t something she was going to be really excited about upon receiving, but, like the kitchen, she would love it in the long run.

After discussing it with Hubby, we decided he would make it.  Then J and I could paint it together during Christmas break.  I searched and searched on Pinterest, finally deciding this one was the one I liked the best.  No drawers, which I think only leads to clutter.  Not too big, not too small.  The one thing I didn’t like about it was the storage on each side.  Although great for holding books (so it’ll work well in the future), the art supply problem was going to be a bit harder to solve.  So Hubby designed one himself instead.  The left side is just the two legs holding it up and the right side has a small bookcase attached underneath with three shelves.  Which will be great for holding anything and everything!

We headed to the DC Ikea to get a chair for the desk.  While there I picked up two packs of these storage containers for her art supplies.  I also ended up getting two bigger ones from Dollar Tree.  Over the next month I bought her new markers (regular, skinny and stamping), paints and paint brushes, puffy paints, crayons (regular, metallic and glitter), glue, wasabi tape (which I found a terrific deal here on Amazon!), glitter pens, construction paper, a sketch book, a Melissa and Doug scratch pad (which was her favorite), a giant coloring book and a 12 pack of craft scissors.  I actually ended up getting a bunch of the supplies from IKEA…seriously, I love that place.

I made labels for each of the containers but they didn’t stay on very well for some reason…  diy-desk-14That’s alright, I already know there’s no way she’s going to put everything back where it’s supposed to go anyway.  And then my OCD will kick in and once a week I’ll have to go in and re-sort everything.

In the meantime Hubby got to work on the desk.  She saw it at each stage, but never really seemed to be interested in it.  No surprise there.  He finished it right before Christmas, which was perfect timing.  We stuck a bow on it and left it in the garage for her to find the next day. diy-desk-11Unsurprisingly she didn’t really understand what it was for.  At least this time we expected this reaction (unlike with the kitchen) and were well prepared for it.  I just told her that once we painted it and got it up in her room she’d get it.  She loved all of the new art supplies at least!

The next day we started painting.  First, the primer. diy-desk-12Needless to say this step didn’t really entertain her much.  She did stick with it for quite awhile before abandoning me to finish it and go in the house to play.  I can’t blame the kid…I find painting therapeutic, but even I get sick of it by the end.

Then we discussed what exactly we were going to do with it.  I figured we’d paint the majority of it one color and then do something different to the top.  I had pinned a few ideas I thought she might like:  this one, this one and this one.  She wasn’t too enthusiastic about any of them, however.  She suggested circles, which somehow led to us talking about a huge rainbow.  Then she said she could add clouds and a sun and rain, and I suggested we do a big scene:  she could make a house with the family in front and do whatever she wanted in the sky.  She loved that idea!  And so did I!  Then every year or two we can just swipe a new layer of paint on the top and she can make a whole new mural.  That kid is absolutely brilliant.

We headed to Walmart to pick out a color for the rest of the desk.  Originally she wanted to do one of the metallic colors that Disney makes.  Turned out that they can’t do those at the Walmart we were at (um, so then why do you have a giant display promoting the colors then??) so she had to pick something else.  I was braced for a fit, but she actually didn’t seem to care.  She must not have been completely sold on it then…that’s the only explanation I can come up with!  Instead she choose “Sully’s Fur”, which was a light teal.  I thought it was an excellent choice.

Originally I was only going to buy a sample size of whatever color she decided on since that would be plenty to paint her desk.  But since she’s getting a brand new room (C will take over all of her furniture) when we move to Kansas in 6 months I figured I’d get a pint instead so we can paint her dresser, bed and (fingers crossed on this one…) new dress-up closet to match.  I’m so smart.

After priming I got to work taping everything off.  I decided we’d do all of the desk teal except the top and the 3 sides of the bookshelves.  We left the top with just the white primer and I painted each of the shelves (minus the bottom) white.  diy-desk-9diy-desk-7diy-desk-8She helped some with the first coat of teal.  Then I did the second coat of teal and both coats of white all on my own.

Then we were ready for our mural!  I started off by tearing off a sheet of our roll paper the size of the desk and had her draw exactly what she wanted it to look like.  That way there wouldn’t be any issues later.  She decided she wanted to go with a snow scene.  I drew a wavy line on the bottom and we painted that white and then the sky blue. diy-desk-1I have a ton of glitter acrylic paint so I asked if she wanted to make it sparkly.  The answer was obviously “YES!!!!!!!!!!“.  We used sparkly blue for the sky and sparkly silver on the snow.  I do have to admit it looked really cool, especially on the snow.diy-desk-10 diy-desk-3Then I held up her drawing while she copied it onto the desk with a pencil.    diy-desk-5Then she stood there and told me what color paint she wanted everything while I did the actual painting.  I could tell she was disappointed that she couldn’t paint it herself, but I knew if she did it was going to turn out disastrous.  I tried to explain to her that it’s really hard to paint something like this, but she didn’t really understand.  Until I let her decorate the dresses and make the crowns herself.  She wasn’t happy with the way a lot of them turned out and had me go back and fix them.  After that I think she understood.

Our work in progress!diy-desk-4And the final product!  How could I not love it…snowy, sunny, rainy, rainbow all at once with us in fancy clothing, crowns and wands while Santa drops off presents.  Does that scream 5 year old imagination or what?!
diy-desk-6Hubby sprayed it down with the same acrylic sealer we used on the Stepping Stones.  After we let it dry for a looong time (seriously that stuff is potent!) he carried it up to her room.  “She” (aka I) organized all of the art supplies on there, and that’s it!  diy-desk-13My friend Amanda got her some paint-your-own Elsa and Anna ceramic figurines for Christmas so that was her very first project on the desk. It’s been in her room for about a week now and she’s gotten plenty of use out of it, so I’m very happy with our decision to do a desk.  Might not be the most glamorous gift, but it’s definitely going to be used.

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Step six: DIY Stepping Stones for the Grandparents

To go along with our Snowman Ornaments we decided to send handmade stepping stones.  This is a great gift because we can continue to give one every year if we want to…or really any year that we can’t think of a great handmade gift from the grandkids.  Last year we gave these awesome bird baths to everyone and originally I was thinking we could do a birdhouse to go with it this year, but it just seemed too difficult to mail.  We’ll save that idea for when the grandparents actually make it out to visit us for the holidays…which means never, haha.  Don’t even get me started on that category.  Apparently roads only go one way…

But anyway, the stepping stones.  I did a search on Pinterest (obviously) for some ideas.  After going through numerous sites I found this one to be the most helpful.  There are specific instructions, tips for each step and tons and tons of example stones.  I highly recommend thoroughly reading the article if you’re looking to make one yourself!

I made my list of supplies:

  • Mold.  I purchased either an 8 or 9 inch circle mold from Hobby Lobby.  It was only $4 but it turned out to be the most expensive thing I purchased that day, so I was able to use a 40% off coupon for it.
  • Concrete.  After reading the tips on the above website I decided on a sand/concrete mixture.  Turned out Lowes didn’t sell it, so I had to hit up Home Depot for it.  And of course the smallest bag they had was 60 lb.  Which I would like to say that I pulled it off of the shelf, put it on the cart and pulled it out of the cart and into my car all on my own at 7 months pregnant.  I kick ass.  It was cheaper in the store, so it was actually only $4.
  • Marbles.  We have a ton of glass marbles that I was planning on using for this project, but it turned out they were too big for what I wanted to do.  So I ended up purchasing two bags of small ball marbles from Michaels.  Each at a separate time, so each at $3 with a 40% off coupon.
  • Green Gems.  After the original idea I had to decorate the stones looked like crap I had to go in a new direction.  So I picked up some “crushed glass with glitter” (except mine was green) from Hobby Lobby for $4, once again with a 40% off coupon.
  • Spray paint sealer.  I had a hard time deciding what to buy.  They had clay pot sealers, but that sounded like it was more to keep the soil and water in a pot.  Then there was a UV one, but it didn’t say anything about water.  So finally I went with Krylon Acrylic Crystal Clear because it said it was moisture resistant.  I’ll let you know the results, haha!  It was around $10, minus yet another 40% off Michael’s coupon

And that’s it!  In total I spent about $18 for all 4 sets of grandparents (of course that doesn’t count shipping costs since 3/4 sets of grandparents are worthless…).  And the mold is still reusable and we have a ton of concrete and sealer leftover.  Now that’s how much we should be spending on Christmas!

I knew I wanted to put the kids’ handprints in there so it was just a matter of deciding on the design.  I didn’t want to do just plain handprints…I think that looks boring.  I thought we could put the handprints in a flower shape and then push different colored marbles in the impressions to make colorful flowers.  We did that with the first mold and it did not look good.  We just pitched that stone after it dried and went back to the drawing board.

I decided to try again with the flower idea, but this time painting the handprints instead of using marbles.  I used the green gems from Hobby Lobby for the stems and then wrote 2015 in the marble balls on the top.  They turned out much better.  And then since we used regular acrylic paint I picked up a can of sealer to hopefully keep it from fading/washing away.

So this is how we made the molds:

  1. Mix the concrete.  Hubby did this part.  He didn’t use any measurements, so each time he mixed it the consistency was completely different.  Two of the times he made it he had to get some paper towels to soak up some of the water because it was so liquidy that the handprints were just disappearing.  Now if this was me I would’ve measured the powder and the water the first time so I knew how much to use, but hey, to each their own!
  2. Add paint if coloring the stone.  I had half a jar of a sample size red paint that we used on the first (well, technically second) stone we made.  I really like the color of it and if I would’ve had more paint we would’ve colored the other ones too.  It adds to it nicely.  I wasn’t going to purchase paint specifically for this, though.
  3. Pour into the mold and let sit for 30-60 minutes.  Some of the watery ones we actually let sit for closer to two hours instead… diy-stepping-stone-5
  4. Handprints!  C had a blast with the handprints.  He laughed hysterically every time Hubby pushed his hands in.  It took two of us to get his–Hubby to hold his hands down and make sure he didn’t grab a handful of concrete and eat it (which is what he was trying to do) while I spun the mold in a circle to get the flower shape.  We did his first and then J had whatever room was left. diy-stepping-stone-4 diy-stepping-stone-2 diy-stepping-stone-3
  5. Decorate.  After Hubby took C away (usually straight into the bathtub) J and I pushed in the marbles.  The gems looked nice but since they were so small quite a few of them didn’t get pushed in enough and fell out after it finished drying.  Fortunately we used so many of them that you couldn’t tell some had disappeared.  We used the green gems for the stem/leaves and for “grass” along the bottom.  We pushed the red and blue balls in the top to form 2015. diy-stepping-stone-1
  6. Let it sit for at least 3 days. diy-stepping-stone-9
  7. Take it out.  The concrete slipped right out of the mold! diy-stepping-stone-10
  8. Paint!  I painted C’s handprints and J did hers. diy-stepping-stone-11
  9. Let dry for 24 hours.  Then Hubby sprayed it with the sealer.  At this point we were a little short on time so he actually sprayed all of them at once.  3 hours later we wrapped them in bubble wrap and loaded them into the flat rate Priority boxes to be shipped the next day.  They arrived Christmas Eve…was that great timing or what?!  Although they definitely should’ve aired out a little longer before being packed away.  They sat in my car in the boxes overnight and when I got in to drive to the post office I think I got a little high during the 3 minute drive.  That stuff was strong!

And that’s it!  I think they turned out pretty cute.  We made 5 total:  four for the grandparents and one for ourselves.  diy-stepping-stone-8diy-stepping-stone-6 diy-stepping-stone-7 The top one is the first one we made, as I’m sure you can tell.  That was before I purchased the smaller beads for the year and decided to stick with the green gems for the stem as well as the grass.  It’s also the one we poured the red paint into, so at least that part turned out well!

I don’t have a picture of the fourth one we made, for my parents, because they came down to visit us for the holidays so I didn’t have to ship theirs.  Which meant we just barely finished it in time and I didn’t even think about snapping a quick photo beforehand.

Hubby’s dad said “Oh that’s too nice for people to step on; I think I’m going to build something to display it on the porch!”, which I thought was pretty neat.  And then he followed that up by asking “Are those the grandkids’ handprints on there?”  No, Gary, they’re the kids down the street.  Sigh.

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Step five: DIY Fort Kit for my brothers

I have two younger brothers, currently 7 and 9.  Technically they’re not related to me but it’s a long story and for all intents and purposes, they are.  I absolutely hate buying them presents for Christmas because it’s impossible to find something.  First, they’re ridiculously spoiled.  The amount of crap they have is astounding.  Second, they destroy everything.  Third, they don’t do anything except play video games anyway.  Nothing irritates me more than spending money on something that isn’t going to get used.  Last year I came up with a brilliant (and super cheap) idea:  DIY Marshmallow Guns.  I have no idea what tutorial I used but I don’t think it matters…they’re all pretty simple.  We spent less than $5 on both of them and although I doubt they were used at all after Christmas morning, I’m totally fine with it for that price!

I scoured Pinterest and the internet for another DIY idea for this year.  I never realized how difficult it is to find stuff like that for boys that age!  Everything just seemed dumb.  Finally I stumbled on DIY Fort Kits.  I was on the fence about whether or not it would be used, but I never found a better idea so a Fort Kit it is!

I checked out just about all of the tutorials on the general Pinterest search above.  I followed Pie Birds‘ tutorial the closest, but pulled ideas from other random ones that I added to it.

I made my list:

**2 twin flat sheets
**rope
**flash light
**clamps
**glow sticks
**clothes pins
**suction cups
**grosgrain ribbon for the ties 140 in

Everything was super simple to find except the sheets.  I bought all of it minus the ribbon and sheets from the Dollar Tree…best store ever!  I took it all of the original packaging and put it in some plain ziplock bags.  diy-fort-kit-8I picked the ribbon up from either Hobby Lobby or Joann’s…I can’t remember for sure now.  It was just two rolls of plain white grosgrain ribbon.  Which I don’t know why I had 140 inches put down…I didn’t even end up using all of one roll!  Darn, could’ve saved myself $3…

I looked everywhere for cheap sheets.  Walmart, Target, Ross, Marshalls, Goodwill and 3 local thrift shops.  They were all so expensive!!  I mean come on Goodwill, who pays $5 for a used single twin sheet?!  I finally struck gold at Big Lots and found a set of sheets on clearance for $7.  And not just any sheets…CAMO!  Perfect!!

Although flat sheets work so much better I decided that the fitted sheet would do.  Especially since I’m not even sure if they’re going to actually use this kit beyond the first day.  At first I was going to trim all around it, getting rid of the fitted part then folding the raw edges in and hemming it.  I decided that was entirely too much work.  Especially since I don’t understand why the fitted sheet won’t work, especially if you pull it tight.

First I cut the ribbon.  I cut 6 pieces that were approximately 12 inches long.  I folded them in half and then pinned them onto the fitted sheet.diy-fort-kit-2I sewed them on.  I used a straight stitch back and forth across the top (at the end of the sheet) about 6 times to make sure it would hold.  Then I zigzagged the other 3 sides to help keep the ribbon from fraying. diy-fort-kit-3I put one on each “corner” and one in the middle of each of the long sides.diy-fort-kit-1Done.  In my search I found two ways to attach the ribbon:  either in a loop, like I used above, or with two open ends so they can be tied.  I had no idea which way would work better so I decided to make one sheet with loops and the other with ties.  So for the flat sheet I cut 8 pieces of ribbon, this time about 20 inches each.  I folded each piece into a V shape and pinned it on.  I sewed them the same way as above:  a straight stitch a whole bunch of times along the edge of the sheet and then a zigzag for the other three sides.  diy-fort-kit-5I sewed one onto each corner and then one in the middle of each of the 4 sides.diy-fort-kit-4I had also seen a tip somewhere along the way that if you fold the corners in and sew them down it makes an opening for the rope to slide through.  I decided to do that as well.  Why not?diy-fort-kit-6Since this was a complete sheet set it also included a pillow.  I debated for a few minutes and then decided I mine as well use that too.  I cut it open on three sides so it was as big as possible, folded the edges in and sewed them closed. Then I cut four more pieces of ribbon, looped them like I did for the fitted sheet, placed them in the middle of each of the four sides and then folded the corners in like I did on the flat sheet for the rope to slide through.diy-fort-kit-7Sheets were done!  Now I just needed a bag.  Fortunately I’ve made a ton of those peek-a-boo storage bags for kids toys a couple years back so I already knew exactly how to make one (someday I’ll do a post on those.  Maybe).  It was even easier to make this bag though since it didn’t need a window.  I went through my fabric file and picked out a camo print.  I unfolded it and set all of my supplies on it to see how big I needed to make it. I made sure to cut it plenty big.  Of course I have no idea what the dimensions are.diy-fort-kit-9Then I took all of the stuff off, folded it in half (right sides together) and sewed the side and bottom edges.  It looked like a gigantic pillowcase.diy-fort-kit-13The downside to using this fabric was it turned out it was a jersey knit.  Which meant it folded up on me.  A lot.  And I was entirely too lazy to pull out my iron to make life easier.  See, this is why everything I sew turns out half-assed!  I mean it would’ve taken me 2 minutes to pull out my iron, plug it in, wait for it to get hot and then use it.  Lazy, lazy, lazy.

Next I made a casing for the rope at the top.  This is where the jersey knit really irritated me.  Normally I would fold the top edge down about a 1/4 inch and then fold it again to make sure that all of the raw edges are hidden, but that was impossible this time.  So I just folded it down once and then zigzagged it instead.  diy-fort-kit-14I left an opening about an inch wide about halfway on the front for the drawstring.  diy-fort-kit-15Then I picked out some string.  When a fabric store near me in Canada was going out of business I made sure to stock up on drawstring in a major way since I was making a ton of those peek a boo bags.  Which meant that I had a bunch of options.  I went with beige.  I attached a safety pin onto the end to make threading easier and then pulled it through the bag.  Normally I would attach the other end to the bag to make sure it didn’t get lost along the way, but I made the string so long that there wasn’t any fear of that.  I have absolutely no idea how long I cut the string.  Maybe about twice the width of the bag?  I just know it ended up being barely enough.  diy-fort-kit-17diy-fort-kit-16And that was it!  The bag was finished! diy-fort-kit-18Turned out that for once in my life I drastically overmeasured!  Once it’s all in there and closed the bag is only about half full.  Which I’m perfectly fine with.  Always better too large than too small!

I made a tag in my Silhouette program, printed it on regular printer paper and then laminated it using my awesome laminator.  I punched a hole in it and attached it onto the bag.  There we go, a Christmas present for two boys for less than $15 that’s original.  It may or may not get used, but whatever!  And I love this idea so much that I think as J and C get older we’ll be giving it to their friends as birthday gifts!  Another win! diy-fort-kit-19

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Step four: a new Cinderella dress. Obviously.

J has a Cinderella dress.  There was a woman selling 7 dressup dresses for $7 on one of the local yard sale FB sites (seriously, best invention ever!  I LOVE stalking those pages!) about 2 years ago which was when J was just starting to get into her dress up phase in a big way.  The Cinderella dress was a homemade one and its condition was already “gently” used (not that I’m complaining.  It was a dollar).  She absolutely adored that dress and wore it allllllllllll the time.  Although I’ve patched it up several times, it’s now beyond fixing.  There are holes all over the actual dress and it’s filthy.  That’s okay…I got my money’s worth…several times over!js-original-cinderella-dressWhen the latest Cinderella movie came out J and I went to see it.  It was her first experience in the movie theater and she absolutely adored the movie.  Even if she did come out of thinking that “courageous” meant “pretty”.  She adored the blue dress, like I’m sure every other girl out there, and said she wanted one.  So I decided I was going to make her one for Christmas.

First step:  research.  I pinned 3 DIY dresses from Pinterest that seemed to fit the bill:  this one, this one and this one.

I made a list of supplies:

*4 yards of blue tulle—sparkly would be a bonus
*3 yards of purple tulle
*blue zipper 7 in
*blue thread
*1 1/2 yards blue shiny fabric

Then I hit the stores.  I was trying to do this for as cheap as possible.  I ended up getting my tulle from Walmart for 97 cents/yard, the thread, zipper and costume satin from Joann’s on three separate occasions so I could use a 40% off coupon each time.  I also found some blue sparkly tulle at Joann’s.  I only bought half a yard of it…it was nearly $3 a yard and I figured I could just do one layer on the skirt to give it the necessary sparkles since I couldn’t find sparkly tulle for cheap anywhere.

Finally I got to work.  I read through all three tutorials to decide exactly how I wanted to make the dress.  I used Made for Mermaids the most.  I referred to Kiki & Company for the butterflies.  And I didn’t end up using the third one at all.

As usual, refer to the original blog for specific directions.  Read mine to know what not to do 😉

I started off by printing her awesome free pattern and cutting out my bodice pieces. diy-cinderella-dress-1I sewed them together as instructed:  each side piece to the front center; one for the lining and one for the front.  diy-cinderella-dress-2Then I added one back piece to each side.diy-cinderella-dress-3The straps were next.  I folded them in half and sewed the long edges, leaving the short ends open.  
diy-cinderella-dress-4I trimmed and flipped right side out. diy-cinderella-dress-5Then I put the straps in between the lining and front piece and sewed the two bodice pieces together all along the top.diy-cinderella-dress-6diy-cinderella-dress-7And then I realized my first mistake:  one of the straps was twisted.  diy-cinderella-dress-8So I had to rip the seam out and resew it, making sure that I pinned it the correct way this time.  After I flipped the bodice right side out I saw that my front piece and lining didn’t exactly match up along the straps.  Mistake number two!diy-cinderella-dress-9diy-cinderella-dress-10This one was very easily fixed, however.  I just folded the outer piece in to hide the raw edge and then sewed it down like that.  diy-cinderella-dress-11Then I went through and top stitched the entire bodice as instructed, so you couldn’t even tell my mistake there.  Score one for me!

Now for the tulle on the bodice.  I read through Made for Mermaids’ instructions about 10 times and then switched over to Kiki & Company but still didn’t understand exactly what I was supposed to do.  So I made it up.

One change I already knew I wanted to make was that I wanted to take Kiki & Company’s idea and use both the blue and purple tulle in the top.  That was a simple adjustment.

I cut a 20×54 inch rectangle each of the light blue and purple and folded them in half.  I only used one layer of the sparkly blue, so it was only about 26 inches.  diy-cinderella-dress-12Then I layered them so sparkly blue was on the inside and purple on the outside.diy-cinderella-dress-13I sewed along the long bottom edge. diy-cinderella-dress-14And then found the halfway point in both the bodice and the tulle and attached them together. diy-cinderella-dress-15I went back and forth about 15 times just to make sure it was going to stay put!  Then I squeezed the ends together as small as I could and sewed them down on each side.
diy-cinderella-dress-16The result is very unfinished.  But it’s tulle so it’s not going to fray.  It’s fine.  I’m serious, I’m such a dunce when it comes to reading simple instructions!  I’m sure everyone else understood exactly what Made for Mermaids was talking about, but not me.  I still don’t get it.  Of course part of my problem was that my tulle wasn’t as long as it should be–it should’ve extended past the bodice.  And then the ends would’ve been tucked inside the bodice.  But it’s fine.

Time to finish up the bodice.  I sewed each side closed.diy-cinderella-dress-17Then added the zipper.  I don’t like using velcro on dress-up dresses.  Although J needs help getting the zippered dresses on and off, I find that velcro loses its stickiness after awhile and then my life just becomes “Mama, fix my dress” 800,000 times a day.  It happened to both her Merida and Snow White dresses and I vowed no more velcro. So I installed my zipper using my cheating method found in my Glinda tutorial.  diy-cinderella-dress-18See how the tulle doesn’t reach the zipper?  So much for cutting it long enough and making sure that I found the halfway mark, hahahaha!  Good thing J will never notice.

And there we go, bodice is finished!

Time for the skirt.  I cut two pieces, 24 in by the width of my fabric.  Which I want to say was 54 inches, but can’t remember for sure now.  I followed Made for Mermaids’ instructions and cut the front piece at a diagonal so the front bodice would be pointed.

diy-cinderella-dress-19I sewed the two long ends together, flipped it right side out and gathered the top.  I also use a cheating method for gathering, which again you can read about in my Glinda tutorial.  I had to gather it about 3 times until it was small enough to fit the bodice.  And even then I think it ended up being a shade too large.diy-cinderella-dress-22Then I had J try it on.  I needed to make sure that I wasn’t going to make the same mistake with the Glinda dress and have it be too long.  The poor kid tripped about 68 times on Halloween night in that costume.  I’ve hemmed it since then, but still not enough because she has to hold it up when she walks.  I waited until she got home from school and had her close her eyes since it was a surprise.diy-cinderella-dress-20And thank goodness I had her try it on!  Look how long it is!!!!  Obviously my 5 year old isn’t nearly as tall as Made for Mermaids’ is.  I went ahead and trimmed about 3 inches off of the bottom, then folded the bottom edge under twice (taking off about another inch) and hemmed it.  diy-cinderella-dress-23Time for the tulle.  This was ALL wrong, so don’t do this.  First I took the sparkly blue piece since it was the smallest.  I put it around my waist to make sure it would be wide enough for J, which it was.  Then I took the light blue, folded it so it was about the size of the sparkly one and then kept on folding it over and over and over again until I was out.  I repeated with the purple.diy-cinderella-dress-24

I sewed them together along both short edges.  
diy-cinderella-dress-25This part took forever.  I had to readjust the tulle about 68 times, folding and refolding.  Which is why I was even more pissed than I normally would have been that this all ended up being a colossal waste of time.  It took me an entire nap time to do this part, and it all ended up being in vain.  I discovered my mistake when I went to put the tulle inside of the skirt and it wouldn’t fit.  Because the bottom part of the skirt is about 10 times wider than the gathered top…DUH!!!!!!!!!  I can’t even describe to you how upset I was at my stupidity.  Or how difficult it is to seam rip tulle.  Which was my next step.

Then I started again.  This time I laid out my tulle, put the dress lining on top and figured out how wide it had to be to completely cover the bottom.DIY Cinderella Dress 26The bad part was that I didn’t have enough sparkly blue to go around the entire thing.  On the plus side, the sparkly tulle was on the inside of the top sash, which meant that it was going to be on the inside of the skirt as well.  And between all the layers of tulle and the lining you really couldn’t tell unless you looked very closely that only half of the dress was sparkly.  I decided just to make sure the sparkly half went in the front.

I folded it all over and over and over again until it was lined up nice and neatly.  And the right width this time.
diy-cinderella-dress-27I had to sew it together in three spots to ensure the blue sparkly wasn’t going anywhere:  once on each end and then the two remaining pieces together to form the skirt.
diy-cinderella-dress-28diy-cinderella-dress-29diy-cinderella-dress-30Then I gathered it.  Obviously I did a stellar job of lining the different colors up.  diy-cinderella-dress-31

I’m serious, I have a newfound hatred for tulle after making this dress.  I despise it.  With a passion.

Then I tucked the bodice inside of the skirt tulle (right sides together) and the tulle inside the lining.  I pinned that sucker about 68 times and then sewed it all down.  This is me, which means it took me about 6 attempts before I finally deemed it good enough.  I did an awful job of making sure all three were lined up well enough and there were a bunch of pockets where there were holes or the bodice lining poked out or you could see the seam where I sewed the tulle pieces together.  And then it was not in a straight line going all around.  The first time I completely ripped all of the seams out and started from scratch.  The other 5 times I just ripped the trouble areas.  Finally I decided it was straight enough.  I trimmed the inside edges close to the seam and then zigzagged the entire way around to finish it.diy-cinderella-dress-32And then the dress was basically finished! diy-cinderella-dress-33diy-cinderella-dress-34See the line on the tulle on the left side of the bottom picture?  That was one of my trouble areas.  It’s because I didn’t line the tulle up well enough when I sewed it together originally and that part dipped down farther than the rest of it.  I fixed it as best as I could, but I couldn’t put it up any higher without the skirt being a lot shorter on the bottom.  Plus side?  It’s on the back.  And not very noticeable.

Another thing that I just couldn’t get to work was the point in the front.  I cut my skirt lining and tulle to a point as instructed, but it never emerged.  I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t gather the skirt enough?  Whatever, I don’t care.  She’ll never know the difference.

The top tulle sash bothered me a bit.  Since I didn’t sew it on properly you could see the line where I sewed the tulle together on the bottom.  diy-cinderella-dress-35Although I’m sure I could have hand stitched it closed (HA!  YEAH RIGHT!!!!) I opted for an easy out:  hot glue.  I tucked the ends under so I liked it and then put a few drops of hot glue on each side to hold it in place. diy-cinderella-dress-36Much better.

Finally, the butterflies.  I found a butterfly outline preloaded onto my Silhouette program so I made it what seemed to be a good size to go in the tulle.  I pasted 14 of the same size on there and then made one a lot bigger for the front of the sash.  I used the machine to cut them out of grey cardstock.  Then I followed Kiki & Company’s instructions and Modge Podged them several times.  I put a layer on the front, sprinkled some white glitter on them, waited until they dried, added another layer of Modge Podge, waited until they dried, did another layer, waited until they dried and then flipped them over and did one layer of Modge Podge on the back. diy-cinderella-dress-21Can you tell from looking at that photo that I’m not one of those moms with a severe glitter phobia?!  A little bit of that glitter is from the butterflies, but most of it is permanently lodged on the table from many, many, many past crafts.

I hot glued the big butterfly on the front.  diy-cinderella-dress-37I was planning on doing all of them, but I decided it would be best to wait until the dress was on J and then place them on.  I put them in a baggie and set them off to the side (hmmm, speaking of which…where did I put that bag??) for Christmas morning.  I am so excited for her to open this present.  I think she’s really going to love it!!!!!  It may not look nearly as nice or professional as my inspiration pins, but I don’t care.  I worked hard on it and although there are a few parts that I don’t like, all in all I’m thrilled with how it turned out.  Win! diy-cinderella-dress-39 diy-cinderella-dress-38

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Step three: DIY Hooded Towels.

I found these amazingly adorable hooded towels on Pinterest a year or two ago by Crazy Little Projects.  I fell in love with them immediately.  Not only are they super cheap and super cute, but, most importantly, they’re super easy.  I made J a duck towel for the bath and a shark towel for the beach about two years ago.  Last year for Nolan’s 1st birthday I made him either the dog or shark…I can’t remember now.  I want to say dog.

Since poor C is still using baby towels and J’s duck is looking a bit forlorn, I figured I’d make them each a towel for Christmas.  Although there are a ton of choices, it was super easy to decide on one for each:  Elmo for C and a Princess one for J.

I picked up my supplies:  a red bath towel and matching hand towel for Elmo from Target and a purple bath towel, matching hand towel and yellow hand towel for the Princess crown from Walmart.  There isn’t a particular reason I bought them at two different stores…just turned out Walmart didn’t have an appropriate shade of red for Elmo.  See, chalk it up to yet another reason why Target kicks Walmart’s butt!

Check out the Princess hooded towel tutorial on Crazy Little Projects’ blog for the clear and easy to understand directions.  I’m just going to give a quick synopsis and I’m sure it’ll be confusing since I can’t explain anything, haha.

Since the crown is a separate piece this one was a tad bit more “difficult” than the other towels I’ve made previously.  Which means not at all.  I started by cutting the yellow hand towel in half so the width was about 8.5 inches.diy-princess-hooded-towel-14Then I cut a crown shape from one of the halves.  Crazy Little Projects has a template if you want to use it.  I just eyeballed it.  I made the crown go the entire width of the towel (there were 4 spikes) and the tip of each spike was about halfway up the length of the towel. I laid the first one on top of the rest of the hand towel and cut out a carbon copy.  I matched them and sewed them together, leaving the finished edge of the towel open as instructed.  I flipped it right side out so the stitching was hidden.diy-princess-hooded-towel-15The jewels were next.  I scrounged up some sparkly purple scraps from a long ago project which worked perfectly.  Now Crazy Little Projects does it the smart way and has you use Heat n Bond on the back of the jewels and then attaches them using an appliqué stitch.  I didn’t bother.  Instead I cut out four diamonds and sewed them directly onto the crown with a zigzag stitch.  I’m sure it won’t last nearly as long but if there’s one thing you’ve learned about me by now it’s that I am L-A-Z-Y.diy-princess-hooded-towel-12diy-princess-hooded-towel-13Now time for the part I’ve done before:  making the hood.  I cut the purple hand towel in half the fat way and put half of it aside for a future project.  I folded the finished edge about 4 inches up and stitched it down.diy-princess-hooded-towel-11I folded the hand towel in half (so the folded part was on the outside) and zigzagged it on the back to form a hood.diy-princess-hooded-towel-9diy-princess-hooded-towel-10I flipped it right side out and then pinned the crown on.  I took Crazy Little Projects advice and took the hood into the bathroom so I could adjust the crown as needed.  Don’t I look nice 😉 diy-princess-hooded-towel-8I sewed the crown onto the hand towel along the bottom edge. Crazy Little Projects advises tucking the open edge of the crown in before sewing it down to hide the raw edges.  Since with mine the end of the crown is already a finished edge I didn’t bother folding it in.  It would’ve looked nicer, yes, but honestly I don’t think my machine could’ve gotten through all of those layers.  I recently broke a needle and was on my last one so I didn’t want to risk breaking this one and having to wait until I could make it to Joann’s to purchase replacements before finishing the towel.  It looks fine.diy-princess-hooded-towel-7Then it just needs to be attached to the towel!  First, Crazy Little Projects recommends folding the bath towel in 3-4 inches on each short side and sewing it down, which I did. diy-princess-hooded-towel-6Then you find the center of the towel by folding it in half and form a pleat that’s about an inch wide. diy-princess-hooded-towel-5Sew across it. diy-princess-hooded-towel-4Then take the hood, match the hood seam with the center of the pleat and pin together.  Make sure you match the right sides of the towel together.  Although as you’ll see in a minute for Elmo, it’s really not a big deal if you’re not paying attention and mess that part up.diy-princess-hooded-towel-3Sew the two towels together and voila, finished! diy-princess-hooded-towel-2 diy-princess-hooded-towel-1diy-hooded-princess-towel-21diy-hooded-princess-towel-20

The Elmo towel was even more straightforward than the last one and very similar to the towels I’ve already made.  Once again, refer to Crazy Little Projects Elmo tutorial for the complete (and better!) instructions. Especially since for some reason my camera did not like this shade of red and the photos are difficult to see.

So same thing.  Cut the hand towel in half the fat way, fold the finished edge up about 3 inches and sew it, fold the towel in half (with the finished edge on the inside) and zigzag down the back to form a hood. diy-elmo-hooded-towel-6 diy-elmo-hooded-towel-4Next cut out your face pieces.  I used regular fabric for the eyes and mouth and an orange towel for the nose (since that’s what I happened to have on hand).  I just eyeballed the pieces and am actually surprised at how well they turned out!  Usually circles are extremely difficult for me. diy-elmo-hooded-towel-9Once again Crazy Little Projects recommends ironing Heat n Bond to the back the pieces and sewing them on with an appliqué stitch.  And once again I ignored this advice and just zigzagged them on as is.  I’m sure they’ll be fine… diy-elmo-hooded-towel-8There was one step on here that I’ve never seen in her other tutorials before, including the princess one.  She instructs you to sew a line across the top of the triangle and then cut it where the seam is.  Not sure why, but not one to question experts I did as told. diy-elmo-hooded-towel-3Then I did the same things as above to the bath towel.  Folded each side in about 4 inches, sewed it together.  Folded it in half to find the middle, formed a pleat and sewed it down. diy-elmo-hooded-towel-7Matched the seam of the hood to the middle of the pleat in the bath towel and attached them together. And that’s it!diy-elmo-hooded-towel-1diy-hooded-elmo-towel-10Like I said I wasn’t paying attention to make sure the right sides were together with the Elmo towel so it turns out that the seams I sewed on each side of the bath towel are facing out, not in.  I actually made this exact same mistake on Nolan’s towel.  Fortunately unless you’re looking super closely you’d never even notice the mistake.  And even if it was an obvious mistake it’s not like a 20 month old is going to care.  He’s just going to be excited to see Elmo!  I can’t wait to give them their towels Christmas morning!

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Step two: DIY advent calendar and felt tree all in one. Because I like to combine things to make life easier.

Two Christmases ago I made an Advent Calendar (is that supposed to be capitalized?  I don’t think it is.) for J.  I made one out of mason jar lids shaped into a tree, similar to this one.  I hated it.  And that goes to show just how much I really disliked it, since J reminds me every time I say the word hate, “You’re not supposed to use that word.”.  I told her there are certain times when it is okay to use it, but you have to really mean it.  And in that case I do.  The lids fell out allllll the time.

But anyway, I went to hang it up this year when we got out the rest of our decorations but it was nowhere to be found.  I asked Hubby about it and he reminded me that I threw it away last Christmas.  Good for me…if I hadn’t have bit the bullet and just thrown it away then I would just continue to use it every year for convenience purposes.  So although I was a little peeved at myself for doing it, overall I was thrilled it was actually gone.

But that meant I needed a new calendar.  I searched and searched and searched and just couldn’t find anything that I liked.  I was seeing those felt Christmas trees all over the place that people recommend for toddlers so they don’t tear apart your real tree (ha, $20 says that never ever ever works.  How is that the same to a 2 year old?!) and I wondered if I could somehow combine the two.  I decided to give it a shot

I have a ton of felt from a fabric store closing awhile back so I cut a tree out of dark green and a trunk from dark brown. diy-felt-tree-and-present-advent-calendar-1I hot glued the trunk to the bottom of the tree and hung it on the wall using push pins.diy-felt-tree-and-present-advent-calendar-2Not only do I have yards and yards of felt but I also have a bunch of bags of felt scraps, along with a ton of sheets of felt.  bags-of-felt-scrapsSo I got to work cutting out circle “ornaments”–one from each color.  On one side I used a permanent marker to write the day’s Christmas activity.  Then, because my activities change each year I had to figure out a way to make the numbers different.  I didn’t want to have to cut out new felt ornaments every single year…I’m lazy!  So I decided to hot glue a piece of velcro on the other side of the ornament.  I could cut numbers out of felt, put velcro on the other side and BAM, easily change the number corresponding with each activity every year.

Except that after I wrote out all of the activities and glued on all of the velcro I decided I did not like that idea.  The velcro was getting stuck on the felt and tearing it apart.  Plus making numbers was going to be a pain in the butt.  I was going to have to use my Silhouette to cut them all out and then glue them on to square pieces of felt that had velcro on the back.  And you couldn’t read any of my activities–the Sharpies bled right into the felt.  Plus my handwriting is atrocious.  So I threw out the 12 ornaments and went back to the drawing board.

And then I had an epiphany:  presents!  There are presents under the tree!  I could make 3 big presents and put four small boxes on each one.  (I only do 12 days of activities, not the whole month of December like some people.  I don’t see how they have time to do something every day when their kids are in school!!!  I had a hard time picking short/easy activities for the one week that J’s still in school during the countdown!).  And that way if I decide in the future that I want to expand on the number of days all I need to do is make more big presents.  Love it!!!

So I got to work.  I picked out three colors of felt from my collection:  red, pink and gold.  I cut a large square out of each (which were only slightly crooked.  Go me!).  Then I picked 3 coordinating colors from my felt bags for the pockets:  yellow, pink and green.  I cut four small boxes of each color (which were slightly more crooked than the presents.  Whoops.).  diy-felt-tree-and-present-advent-calendar-4I went to my ribbon stash Box of Ribbonand picked out three matching ribbons:  yellow, pink and red.  I cut three pieces of each:  one to go horizontal, one vertical and one for the bow.  I hot glued the first two down, made a bow for the top and then glued that on. diy-felt-tree-and-present-advent-calendar-5Then I sewed all of the boxes on.  I could’ve used hot glue but I just don’t think it works as well.  Plus those glue strings that get everywhere drive me insane.diy-felt-tree-and-present-advent-calendar-6Man this project was flying it was so easy!  My last step was to get out my puffy paint stash and write the numbers on the boxes. DIY Felt Tree and Present Advent Calendar 7Now I meant to order them the other way (so 12 was in the upper left corner and then numbers would decrease) but I messed up on number one and didn’t care enough to do anything about it.  Still makes sense this way.  I set those aside to dry.

In the meantime J and I got to work on some more decorations for the tree.  I cut some garland out of the colors she wanted diy-felt-tree-and-present-advent-calendar-3Which, by the way, it’s only been four days since we’ve made this tree and that crap falls off all the time.  It’s driving me insane.  I’m hoping now that there are some ornaments on there it’ll stay better.  If not it’s going in the garbage (pushed waaaaaaay down so J will never ever see it.).

I cut out some more ornaments and she decorated them with markers, glitter and felt pieces that I glued on for her.  I think they turned out cute! I had her pick out 12 to go in the boxes (to hang each day she “opens” a box) and then she hung the rest on the tree.diy-felt-tree-and-present-advent-calendar-9After the puffy paint dried I tucked the scraps of paper with the day’s activity and an ornament in each box.  Here are the twelve activities I chose this year:

  • Write and mail a letter to Santa
  • Open 1 present (that one’s for Christmas Eve)
  • See the Nutcracker Ballet
  • Make cards for your teachers and bus driver
  • Make an ornament for the tree
  • Make a Christmas craft
  • Watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  • Watch Charlie Brown Christmas
  • Pick 10 toys to donate
  • Make and decorate sugar cookies
  • Make a gingerbread house
  • Visit Santa

diy-felt-tree-and-present-advent-calendar-10Then I used a few more pushpins to hang the finished presents on the wall under the tree, and voila!  A new advent calendar that I adore!  Fingers crossed I feel the same way about this calendar in 15 days!diy-felt-tree-and-present-advent-calendar-8C has shown zero interest in “decorating” the tree (which I’m not surprised about in the least) but J is enjoying it.  Until he finally does spot it and tears it all down and she throws a giant fit.  Good times.

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Time to get Christmas started…First step: DIY Snowmen Handprint Ornaments for the Grandparents!

Two years ago I decided that I was going to do some type of handprint ornament for all of the grandparents every year as part of their Christmas gift.  The first year we did the Santa Claus handprint ornament out of salt dough with J and last year I did the Mistletoe footprint ornament with both J and C (instead of doing both feet for one child I just did one of each).  After doing some searching for this year’s homemade ornament I finally settled on the Snowman handprint, which I’m sure you’ve seen a million times.  I liked how this one used a regular ornament instead of salt dough…a bit different this year.  And also very easy to incorporate both kids’ handprints on the same one.  Now next year will be tricky since I’ll have three to squeeze on there!

This ornament was super simple.  I picked up a box of 4 clear ornaments for 50% off at Hobby Lobby.  diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-bulbI always make one for us too, but my choices were either a box of 4 or 8 so I picked up a lone clear plastic ornament from Walmart for 98 cents.  Since I ended up accidentally breaking one of the Hobby Lobby ones (I didn’t even realize they were made of glass!) I should’ve picked up the larger box since I had to go back to Walmart to get another one!  Figures…

The clear ones were the cheapest so I decided to pick up some blue paint to jazz them up a bit.  I found some Extreme Glitter that I thought would work nicely.  I covered all of the ornaments with the glitter paint and then hung them up off of colored pencils to dry for a day.  You could probably use egg cartons or lots of other things…that was just the first thing I spotted.blue-glitter-paint diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-painteddiy-snowman-handprint-ornament-dryingNext was the tricky part:  handprints.  I knew I wanted to do J’s on one side and C’s on the other.  I gathered the white acrylic paint, a paintbrush, the kids, and, most importantly, Hubby.  I did J’s 5 handprints first. diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-handprint-1C got really excited when he saw what was going on and held out his hand and whined the whole time I was doing J’s.  He just couldn’t wait for his turn…so he could do this:  DIY Snowman Handprint Ornament 12Even with Hubby holding him down the little sh*t still managed to eat some paint!  Seriously, this kid.  Getting his handprint was a struggle.  As you can see, they didn’t turn out nearly as nice as J’s.  I’m perfectly fine with it though…I think it helps give it character!  At the very least you can tell that pinning down an 19 month old and getting him to nicely place a handful of apparently scrumptious paint onto a ball is nearly impossible.diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-handprint-2I once again hung them up to dry.  Can you tell which ones are C’s??diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-drying-2I painted the bottom all white and connected the snowman with snowy hills.  This would’ve looked a bit better had J and C’s hands actually been parallel to one another on the ornament, haha.  Some of the “hills” were a steep incline instead…diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-bottom diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-snowdriftsI also attempted snowflakes at this time as well.  I dotted one of the ornaments with white paint, but didn’t like the way it looked.diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-snowflakesOf course when I tried to erase the snowflakes while the paint was still wet, I dropped it and discovered once it shattered all over the floor that it was made of glass.  So they sat there for almost two weeks before the next step–I wanted to pick up another ornament from Walmart before finishing the rest of them.  And I avoid Walmart like the plague so it took awhile to actually psych myself up to get there.

Once I had my fifth ornament and painted it blue, I decorated the other four.  I used different colored Sharpies to add eyes, a carrot nose, a smile, 3 buttons, a scarf and a top hat to each snowman. diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-snowmen-1 diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-snowmen-2

On the bottom I wrote the year, Merry Christmas and C’s name.  I’ll let J write her own name under her handprint.diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-bottom-2Finally I had J and C do their handprint one last time on the remaining ornament and then painted just J’s pointer finger and had her dot the snowflakes all over.  I think it turned out much better than the paintbrush. More child-like.diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-snowflake-fingerprints

That’s it!  Finished!  diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-finishedNotice how there’s only 4 ornaments in this photo?  That’s because the last one still doesn’t have any faces yet.  $20 says it’ll stay like that until 2 minutes before I put it in the box to be shipped to a grandparent…