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Ladybug Quiet Book Page

The next quiet book page I made for Nolan’s Christmas present was the Ladybug page.  It’s a super simple page that’s also very popular–it’s all over the internet.  I decided to do one similar to this one, with a black zipper and snaps sewn on the backs of the spots.

I started off by cutting all of my pieces.  I have a ton of red costume fabric leftover from J’s Snow White Cape that I made for her last Halloween.  It’s not the most ideal fabric to work with, but it’s the only thing I had in plain red so it would have to do.  I cut out two half circles.  I cut another half circle out of a scrap of regular black cotton for the head and then seven circles from black felt for the spots.  quiet-book-ladybug-page-1I decided on 7 because I have a package of assorted sized snaps from a previous project and 7 was the most I had in the same size.  I figured it’d be too confusing if the snaps were different sizes.snapsI just eyeballed all of the pieces and I think the sizing actually turned out pretty well.  That definitely could’ve gone another way, hahaha!

I started off by hand sewing the snaps onto the red fabric and black felt dots.  
quiet-book-ladybug-page-8quiet-book-ladybug-page-3I absolutely despise hand sewing.  I was tempted to just use velcro instead, but I know it’s good for kids to learn the snaps–it helps with fine motor skills.  And I really hate using snaps.  The previous project I used them on was a Seasons page for J’s quiet book and I sewed a crapload of them on before I realized that I did them backwards–I put the bottom piece on the top and vice versa.  And then if I remember correctly (it was so traumatizing for me that I think I blocked it out) I sewed them on the wrong way on the Seasons pieces; instead of poking that part that sticks out into the fabric, I sewed it facing out.  Goosebumps just remembering that.  I think there were quite a few tears shed those days…

On the plus side that meant that I double-checked everything before I sewed it down.  And again after I sewed it down.  And again before I did the next snap.  Etc.  And I’m happy to say that I learned my lesson really well last time and I had zero problems with it this time!  Minus it being boring and time-consuming, of course.

I picked up a 7 inch black zipper from Joann’s and sewed it on.  I used my cheating method, as always.  I simply fold the raw edge of the fabric in about 1/4 inch and sew it as close as I can to the zipper.  Then repeat for the other side.quiet-book-ladybug-page-2Next I figured out where exactly I wanted the ladybug to go and sewed the black head down.  Since I was using fabric and not felt, I made sure use a zigzag stitch instead of a straight stitch to help with the fraying. I sewed it along the bottom and around the curve.  quiet-book-ladybug-page-4Then the ladybug, once again with a zigzag stitch. quiet-book-ladybug-page-5I added some googly eyes and twisted a pipe cleaner around my finger for antenna.  I hot glued them down.  quiet-book-ladybug-page-6And that’s it!  The dots are kept inside of the ladybug when not in use and then snap on to make her look beautiful.  Easy peasy! quiet-book-ladybug-page-10quiet-book-ladybug-page-9

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New set of Quiet Book Pages for Nolan: Matching Balloons

I’m seriously loving giving my fake nephew quiet book pages for his birthday and Christmas every year.  It takes the guesswork out of figuring out what to get him.  And, since I already have most of the materials on hand, it’s super cheap too.  I’m all about DIY gifts for people this year.  That or gift cards.  Keep it simple man!

I decided to give him 4 new pages:  match-the-colors balloon, doctor’s, Wheels on the Bus and ladybug.  I started with the one that I definitely already had everything on hand for:  match-the-colors.

I made a very similar page in J’s original quiet book so I already knew exactly what I wanted to do.  quiet-book-match-the-colors-balloon-page-originalAnd, amazingly enough, this page actually turned out well the first time around so there weren’t any adjustments to be made!  Seeings as almost all of her quiet book pages need to be revamped, that’s truly a miracle.

I started with the pocket.  Every year (okay last year was the first year, but I plan on it being a tradition!) I make the kids matching Christmas pjs.  I ended up with a ton of leftover fabric that I have absolutely zero use for, so I figured that I would make the balloon pocket out red reindeer fabric.  Even though it makes absolutely no sense.

I made the pocket the same way as always:  cut a rectangle that’s extremely uneven, fold the raw edges in to make it slightly more even, sew the top edge down, pin it onto the fabric and sew the other three sides on.  I sewed it onto the bottom right corner.

Next I pulled out my box o ribbon (super organized isn’t it?!) and my bags upon bags of felt.  box-of-ribbonbags-of-felt-scrapsI picked out 7 colors that I had some of both of:  black, green, yellow, purple, blue, red and pink.  I cut 7 different shapes out of each color felt:  rectangle, triangle, crescent moon, heart, diamond, square and oval.  I made a rough layout with the ribbon to make sure I was spacing everything well enough and then got to work.  Super easy, but veerrrrrrrry tedious.

I started with the red.  I sewed the ribbon down (this one tucked behind the pocket so I just cut two pieces out and then lined it up so it looked like it was all one long piece) and then put the soft side of white velcro on top of the ribbon.  I sewed the scratchy piece onto the back of the red square. quiet-book-match-the-colors-balloon-page-1Green was next.quiet-book-match-the-colors-balloon-page-3

Followed by yellow, and then black.quiet-book-match-the-colors-balloon-page-4Then green and purple.quiet-book-match-the-colors-balloon-page-5

And finally, pink.quiet-book-match-the-colors-balloon-page-6I used white velcro for all of the shapes but when I sewed it down I made sure to use the color of the matching shape.  quiet-book-match-the-colors-balloon-page-thread-2 quiet-book-match-the-colors-balloon-page-thread-1

Now I thought it was pretty simple:  pick a shape, follow its matching ribbon and put it on the piece of velcro with the corresponding color.  When J was younger she didn’t really understand, however.  She would get confused as to where to put certain pieces.  I think that’s because sometimes I used ribbon that was two different colors (like for brown the ribbon was actually brown and blue).  I’m going to tell Amanda that Nolan doesn’t get it she can trace the shapes with a marker to make it easier to figure out.  I didn’t want to do that though because once he gets a bit older that makes it really simple.

And that’s it!quiet-book-match-the-colors-balloon-page-finished-2 quiet-book-match-the-colors-balloon-page-finished-1

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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.