Quiet Book Peek-a-Boo Page
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Quiet Books Really ARE Addicting!!

We went on a family vacation to Virginia Beach this past summer.  And by “family” vacation I mean myself, Hubby, J and C, plus my sister, my two best friends and their families.  I brought along J’s ABC quiet book since that’s exactly the type of occasion for which it’s meant.  Amanda flipped through it and loved it.  Since I adore compliments and was thrilled with her praise, I told her that I would make one for her 1 year old son for Christmas this year.  I figured it was the perfect idea–I could just continue to give him pages for Christmases and birthdays each year!  She was super excited and immediately started a Pinterest board with the ideas she liked.  This was back in July so I had some other projects on my plate to get done first, but I’m finally starting it now.  And the advantage for you is that I can take step-by-step pictures and remember exactly what I did.  Unlike when I eventually get around to posting the pages from the other two quiet books I’ve made.  And since this is for someone else (and I’ve given myself plenty of time to complete it, haha!) I’m taking my time and not just throwing it together because I’m so excited for the finished project.  Plus with some of the repeat pages that were in J’s book I can take all of the things I learned not to do and apply them!  I’m really pleased with my results so far.

So this is the first page I worked on:  the Peek-a-Boo house.

Peek-a-boo-quiet-book-page

This is almost an exact replica of the one in J’s ABC Quiet Book.  It’s a very simple concept and I think it’ll be perfect for a 1 year old.  There are six flaps that open (the 4 windows, the door and the chimney) to reveal family photos.  I added the moon and stars to complete the night scene.

I started with the background.

Peek-a-boo-quiet-book-page

The grass is a sheer fabric, kind of like a tulle maybe?  I don’t know, I’m not a fabric expert by any means.  Since I’m obsessed with quiet books I always go through the scrap fabric bins at JoAnn’s and pick out anything that might come in handy.  I figured this would be a great texture for a toddler.  Then because the shade of green combined with the sheerness looked like grass at night (just nod your head) I decided to make it nighttime.  I have a black fabric that’s stretchy and has lines on it (geez Louise I’m really going to have to start researching fabric types if I keep this blog up!!) which works well with trying to go with different textures.

Next I started on the house.  First I cut out a square for the house and triangle for the roof.  I have a ton of scrap fabric, so I opted to use that instead of felt.  To make the lines straight (since I can’t cut in a straight line to save my life) and to prevent fraying I folded the edges down and ironed them flat.  I didn’t bother to sew them down since I would eventually be sewing it down to the background piece.  Didn’t want to do any extra work!

Peek-a-boo-quiet-book-page

I did the same with the triangle, which is why it’s not exactly straight on the finished project.  It was impossible to fold it so the angles would match and at the end of the day this is for a 1 year old.  I somehow doubt he’ll care.  It’s close enough for government work, right?

After I ironed the edges down I flipped both pieces over and figured out how I wanted the house to look.  I grabbed 5 different colors of felt from my insane felt collection.  I cut 2 matching rectangles out of 3 of the colors for the windows, 1 rectangle for the door and 1 for the chimney.  Next I arranged the pieces where they were going on the house and cut out matching rectangles of vinyl for each opening.

I then sewed each piece of vinyl down.  Except for the chimney.

Peek-a-boo-quiet-book-page

I’ve had experience sewing vinyl on several of J’s quiet book pages and I know it’s a b*tch to work with.  Technically you shouldn’t put pins in it because it’ll leave holes, but I do it anyway.  The holes are minuscule and, once again, this is a book for kids.  It’s fine.  I don’t know why I have such a difficult time sewing vinyl down straight.  I don’t know if it’s because I don’t cut it straight to begin with or if it shifts while I’m sewing since it sticks to the presser foot or what.  I made sure to go nice and slowly this time, though, and it made a world of difference.  They all turned out fairly straight!  Obviously only sew it on 3 sides, leaving the top open to slide in photos.

Next I added the shutters.  I made sure to line them up so they met in the middle without any gaps and then straightened them.  I sewed each one on, making sure to sew it twice so the stitch is nice and reinforced. I did all of the pieces except the chimney.  Before I sewed the door down I grabbed a button out of my stash and hand sewed it on the front for the door knob.  Puffy paint would have worked as well, but I like the button.

Then I positioned the house and roof on the background page.  Like I said earlier the triangle didn’t exactly turn out straight, so I pinned it down so it looked as best as it could.  Before I sewed them I figured out where the chimney was going to go and sewed down that vinyl and felt.  I only sewed it down on the bottom left corner so most of it opens.  That was something else I didn’t like about J’s Peek-a-Boo page–the chimney doesn’t open enough.  See, look at how much I’m learning from my (numerous) mistakes!

Almost finished!  All I had left to do was to sew the house and roof to the page and then add my embellishments.  I had a leftover circle from one of J’s quiet books so I sewed that down.  I also found some plush stars in my craft stash so I picked out all of the yellow ones and hot glued them to the page.  Ta-da, page 1 complete!

I was much happier with this page than the first one I made.  The only thing I would change about this one (at least so far) is the felt I used.  I just cut my pieces from scraps and some of them had the heat n bond from previous projects on the back.  I know from J’s page that when I sew the finished pages together and iron them flat that the heat n bond will stick to the vinyl.  It’ll still peel off just fine and it doesn’t do anything to the vinyl or felt, but it does bug me.  So another lesson learned!  Stay tuned for the next page!

DIY Art Activity Center
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The Art Activity Center. Which is about 75% finished.

Okay so this is one of my projects that J gets the most use out of!  It’s also one that isn’t quite finished yet, haha.  We just refer to it as our “Art Activity Center” for lack of a better term.

I saw this on Pinterest a long time ago and fell in love.

Pottery Barn Kids Schoolhouse Utility System

I mean, how cool is that??  My plan was to hang it on the wall in whatever room all of my craft stuff is, then J and I can work on “projects” at the same time!  Brilliant!

As you can imagine, they’re crazy expensive since they’re sold by Pottery Barn.  After searching around I found some good DIY posts on making your own (see here and here).  However, once I showed my finds to Hubby he told me absolutely not.  Something about in order to hang something that heavy it’d need to be anchored to the wall and that creates holes and we move a lot and always rent and yada yada yada.  At that point I tuned him out.  He suggested one of the easels you normally see–a whiteboard or paper on one side and chalkboard on the other; like this.  But I wanted three things so that wasn’t going to work.  I just like to be difficult.

So, we brainstormed together and came up with an idea that wouldn’t have to be anchored to the wall.  There are definitely some advantages to this system.  As I mentioned, we move.  A lot.  So having something that doesn’t need to be hung on the wall means:

a. No holes (that loud cheering you hear is Hubby celebrating one less hole to fill in)

b. It takes up a lot less space.  So regardless of what house we’re in or the setup of the rooms we can always find a home for it.  Having an art station hung on the wall means not only losing wall space, but also a big empty spot right in front of it so the kids can actually use them.  Plus you also need a home for all of the supplies that go with it.  Like now that I’m looking at the Pottery Barn picture, where is the kid standing to use this stuff?  On top of the shelving?  That doesn’t exactly seem safe.  Not to mention all the climbing up and down the kid is going to have to do–with paint covered hands!!  I mean, how is he getting to the bathroom to clean himself off without touching anything??

c. It’s portable.  In our last house we had it in my craft room originally and she never used it.  When we visited my in-laws house for Christmas that year they had an easel and she used it constantly during the 3 days we were there.  So after we got back to our house we moved it down to the living room and low and behold she was on it all the time.  So if we had hung it on the wall up there like I wanted to it would’ve been a lot more difficult to move to a new space, both because of the holes (gasp!) and finding enough space.  So Hubby was right.  Man I hate saying that!

So this is what we came up with.  And by “we”, I mean I told Hubby that I wanted something with paper, something with a chalkboard and something for felt.  Go.  He’s such a good sport.  He built a box that has a side for each of my requests.  Then I painted each one a different shade of blue with the paint we had leftover from my daughter’s bedroom suit.

This is the paper side (obviously).

Art-Activity-Center-paper

We bought the paper roll from IKEA and it fits perfectly.  Although I read somewhere that newspapers often have leftover rolls of paper that they’ll give you for free.  Of course I still haven’t gotten around to calling our local paper to see if that’s true.  Oh well, it’s not like the IKEA paper is all that expensive and there’s a ton on a roll.

The white tube that holds the roll is removable so it’s simple to slide the paper off and on.The paper then slides under the top piece, over the wood backing and under the bottom piece.  The Hubby made it so the bottom piece of wood detaches on just one side to make it easier to slide the paper down.

Art-Activity-Center-Paper2 Art-Activity-Center-Paper3

And then when she’s finished with one masterpiece I simply have to slide the paper down and tear it off of the bottom edge, which is nice because it’s a clean, easy rip.  And voila!  Masterpiece complete!  She mostly uses markers but will occasionally pull out the paint.

Next is the chalkboard.

Art-Activity-Center-chalk

This one is my favorite because it’s both a chalkboard and magnet board.  Not that she’s ever actually put magnets on it (I don’t think I ever even told her it works that way as well, haha) but the option is there!  For this side Hubby mounted a galvanized metal sheet from Lowes (like this) and then built the sides around it.  Then I logged onto my favorite website, Amazon, and purchased some Chalkboard Paint by Rust-Oleum.  I painted several coats right onto the sheet.  I followed the advice from some of the reviewers and had absolutely no problem with the paint.  I also bought the Melissa & Doug Eraser and Chalk Bundle and she was ready to draw!  We’ve owned this for about 2 years now and as you can see it works great!

This side is the one that isn’t finished yet.

Art-Activity-Center-felt

Eventually I’m going to tack up a large piece of felt and then make a bunch of felt pieces so she’ll have a felt board.  Wow I said “felt” a lot of times in that sentence.  Anyway, that idea moved to the back burner when I discovered Quiet Books and became addicted to making pages for them.  But I really want to do this one soon!!  She loves all of the princess stories and we spend a good chunk of our day reenacting them, so I think it’d be neat to make a castle and have a different set for each princess story.  Now I just need to set aside the hours upon hours it’ll take me to do that…

And here’s the final side.

Art-Activity-Center-inside

As you can see, it’s open.  Originally I wanted to have a shelf or two built inside because it’d be an easy place to store all of the materials needed for the different sides.  I was worried that it was going to turn into a disaster area on top, and I was correct.  Look at that mess!!!  Drives me batty.

Art-Activity-Center-top

But I got vetoed on that idea (“That will make it too heavy. Blah blah blah.”).  So this is the side that is up against the wall and you can’t see it anyway.  I told him to leave it open like this that way I can do absolutely anything with it if an idea ever strikes.  Which it may have now that I’m just sitting here staring at it…  Maybe I could screw some hooks inside and hang up all of the little buckets there?  And maybe on one side Hubby could build a shelf that’s just wide enough to hold the paint containers?  Hmm, I’m going to talk to him about that tonight.  Stay tuned for a possible future post!

Aesthetically I still like the Pottery Barn ones ten times better.  They’re just so cute!  But the one Hubby built definitely has its advantages.  She loves it, and at the end of the day that’s all that really matters.  That and we don’t have any excess holes in the wall 😉

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Hola! No, I don’t speak Spanish. I just like saying hola.

Hi!  So you’re going to have to bear with me…I’m new to this whole blogging thing.  I do a lot of DIY projects for around the house and figured I’d start documenting it.  Mainly for myself (just in case I want to redo something or make it for someone else–that way I know what I did and whether or not it was any good, haha).  And it’s here just in case anyone else wants to learn from my one billion mistakes.  Or to look at my blog to feel better about themselves (“Wow, I can do 10 times better of a job than that!”).

Let me start off by saying that I’m a complete novice. At everything.  Blogging.  Crafting.  Sewing.  DIY.  Building.  Raising children.  Cleaning.  Cooking.  So this is definitely more of a trial-and-error type blog.  If you ever have suggestions for how I can make something look nicer or easier (especially easier!!!) please speak up!  I will not be offended.  I’ll be incredibly grateful for your advice.

The picture above pretty much sums up our family to a tee.

First, a bit about me.  I’m a 32 year old stay at home mom.  My absolute favorite activity is reading.  Unfortunately, I don’t set aside nearly as much time for that as I would like.  I love reading any kind of fiction, as long as it doesn’t make me think too much, haha.  Some of my favorite authors are Jodi Piccoult, Emily Giffin, Janet Evanovich, Stephen King and John Grisham just to name a few.  I also like to scrapbook.  And by that I mean I’m currently scrapbooking my daughter’s birth.  She just turned 4.  I like cooking as well.  I try to make as many things from scratch as I can–bread, tortillas, desserts, dinners, yogurt, fruit rollups, my dog’s food, etc.  I was doing really well until I had my son about 6 months ago.  Now it’s a bit more difficult to balance it all.  My other favorite pastime goes hand-in-hand with cooking:  eating.  I love food.  All kinds of food.  I’m willing to try anything.  Especially if it has a high sugar content.  I was “Happy” this Halloween.  I was actually supposed to be Sleepy, but I accidentally ironed the wrong name onto my dwarf hat.  And that right there is a prime example of me and my projects…they’re well-intentioned, but just don’t seem to go as planned most of the time.

I’ve been married to my (mostly) awesome husband for 9 years.  Jeff is in the Army so I’ve been fortunate to see a decent part of the country (and Canada!) since we average about 1 1/2 years in a place before it’s time to move on.  I love moving around.  We try to see, do, and experience as much as we can in the short time we have at each place and it’s been wonderful so far.  There are downsides as well, such as deployments, but we try to take it all in stride.  Although he’s wearing the “Grumpy” hat, he’s actually not that Grumpy.  Only when he’s in a job that he really doesn’t enjoy–like the two years we were in Ottawa.  He was pretty Grumpy the majority of the time.

My daughter J is 4.  Up until a few weeks ago she was the perfect angel.  Listened to everything I said, didn’t question me, so well-behaved!  Not anymore.  She’s finally in that pushing boundaries/establishing independence phase I kept on hearing about and it’s been horrible.  Seriously.  But fortunately she’s still an angel 75% of the time.  And at Pre-K 3 hours a day.  And has a “rest time” for an hour a day alone in her room.  And Dad is in charge of bedtime, which is definitely the most trying part of the day.  So I suppose I shouldn’t complain.  But don’t worry, I still will.  As you can see, she’s Snow White.  This is fitting because she is absolutely obsessed with any and all princesses (like most other female little girls.  Sigh.) and because she picked the costume and then we revolved what we were going to be around her.  Which, by the way, was only supposed to be the baby, but somehow the rest of us got suckered up into dressing up as well.

My son, C, was born in April 2014.  So I’ll let you do the math to figure out how old he currently is.  He is the happiest, most easy going baby ever.  Which is refreshing since his sister was the total opposite.  Although that makes me worry that he’ll be a holy terror from the age of 1 on…  Like I said, he was supposed to be “Happy” since it fits him to a tee.  But Sleepy was at least second-best since he is a great, great sleeper.  I’m so jealous.

We also have a 4 legged child, a St. Bernard named Jackson.  He’s 6 years old and finally starting to calm down.  I always thought Saints were lazy and slept all day, but not this one!  Up until we moved here 3 months ago, he was going to doggie day care twice a week and the dog park at least once a week just to keep him  us sane.  But we all love him to death and it’s impossible to imagine what life is going to be like without him some day.  Fortunately we don’t have to worry about that since he’s going to live to be 70.  And “Dopey” couldn’t sum him up any better–he’s lovable, goofy and not exactly the brightest bulb in the box…

So, the blog.  I try to keep busy.  I almost always have a project in the works (hence the little time I have for reading).  And my projects vary.  Sometimes it involves sewing–quiet books, halloween costumes, dog beds, mending things.  Soon I’m hoping to start sewing clothing for my kids.  Sometimes I focus on building/redoing stuff for the kids–an activity center, a to-do board, cardboard vehicles, toy box…you get the idea.  The big one that I’m going to tackle soon is making a play kitchen out of an old cart.  I’m sure you’ve seen the million projects like that out there.  It’s going to be my daughter’s Christmas present (fingers crossed).  I also like to cook so I usually have an made-from-scratch recipe I’m trying.

As you’ve read, I’ve already done quite a few projects.  My first few entries are probably going to just be pictures of old projects and anything I can remember while making it–what I used, how I did it, what I would change, what I loved.  And then hopefully as I start new projects I can begin to document everything from the beginning.  We’ll see…

Thanks for reading!!