Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wednesday What's Up: Custom Baby Gifts

What has the HappyLittleMonkey been up to lately? Here are pics of some of the custom baby gift items I have sent out.

Wouldn't it make you feel special to receive one of these gifts?

Swaddling Blanket Set and Personalized Organic Bib (two thread colors)

Appliqued Newborn Gift Set- Elephant Theme

Appliqued Monkey Swaddling Blanket and Burp Cloth Sets (for twins)

Personalized Organic Bib (two thread colors)

Newborn Gift Set (Personalized Swaddling Blanket, Organic Cotton Bib, and Burp Cloth)

Swaddling Blanket and Appliqued Burp Cloth

Diaper Cake (send in lieu of flowers!)

For more gift ideas, please check out the shop online or email me at happylittlemonkey (at) comcast (dot) net for assistance creating the perfect gift set.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, June 27, 2011

'I Made It' Monday: No Sew Fairy Wings

I first made these wings last week, but they came out so cute that I decided to recreate them for you today. Besides being cute, our daughter loves them! There are no wires to get poked with, no pantyhose like material to get a hole in, and they gracefully flap when she moves.

Without further ado, I present the no sew fairy wings!

Here is what you will need:
18" Mesh Tulle (this is the tulle with wider holes)
16" Traditional Tulle (much smaller holes)
24" of ribbon (I used 1.5" wide Offray ribbon)
24" of skinny elastic (I used 1/8th inch elastic)
Rotary Cutter (optional- you can substitute scissors)
Clothespin or Other Clip

The hardest part of making these wings is picking what colors you want the tulle to be. This pair is going to be light pink (mesh tulle) and bright pink (traditional tulle). When you pick out your tulle at the store, you could very easily make this a "No Sew AND No Cut" project by having the clerk cut the tulle to the needed lengths. Then, all you have to do at home is assemble.

Gather your materials and here is how to make them:

1. Make all of your cuts.
Cut the tulle, ribbon, and elastic to the lengths specified above.
Tulle can be a little unruly to cut because it slips and slides, so just do your best. I like to line it up and lay it as flat as possible and then hold it down with a ruler so I can use my rotary cutter to get a somewhat straight cut.

2. Assemble the ribbon/elastic portion.
Get the elastic. Put the ends together and tie a knot in it.
Take your elastic circle and line up the middle of the elastic loop with the middle of the ribbon.
Tie the elastic around the ribbon (see pic- I like to hide the knot on the elastic in the knot with the ribbon. You are doing this so your little fairy doesn't pull the elastic out when she puts the wings on).
Set the ribbon/elastic to the side.

3. Folding the tulle.
Lay out your mesh tulle and then lay the traditional tulle on top.
Fold the tulle in half, with the traditional tulle sandwiched between the mesh tulle (the traditional tulle will probably be a little shorter than the mesh tulle. Don't worry, it will look great when you are done).
Fan fold or gather the tulle in about 1" folds, back and forth until you have folded/gathered the whole thing.
Use your clothespin/clip to hold the folded tulle together so you can get your ribbon (If you have a 4 year old helper, you can ask them to hold it while you get the ribbon.)

4. Finishing the wings.
Find the middle of your wings and move your clothespin to mark the center. This is where you will be tying the ribbon and elastic you assembled earlier. (I lay mine back on the ruler and use the ruler as a guide).
Lay the tulle bundle on the ribbon/elastic, making sure the elastic bands go out to different sides.
Tie the ribbon around the bundle and make a bow.
Trim the ends of the ribbon to your liking.
Ta da! No Sew Fairy Wings

Now, find your fairy-child and watch how they fly! It always warms my heart to see the kids enjoying things I create for them.

Total Cost: Less than $5 (not counting tools- scissors, ruler, etc)
Time to Make: About 10 minutes after you get the materials together


Additional Notes:

By using a small amount of heat, you can seal the ends of the ribbons to prevent fraying. I take a lighter and run it back and forth along the cut edge of the ribbon. Be careful not to hold it too close or you will blacken the ends of the ribbon. If this happens, just trim it off and try again.

My thoughts when brainstorming about this project:
- 18" on the mesh tulle is just enough to stick out from around her shoulders
- 16" on the traditional tulle leaves a little bit of a gap between the two colors so it creates a bit of a silhouette
- You could easily make the wings bigger or smaller depending on the look your fairy wants.
- The mesh tulle is thicker and stands up on its own so it helps to provide structure to the wings
- Store bought wings typically have metal or wire to hold the up, which I think can be a little dangerous. These wings are totally flexible.
- If you have a fast flying fairy, then you already know how likely it is that you will quickly need to need repair or replace metal wings because the easily get holes. Tulle is somewhat forgiving and because these are bunched a hole could more easily be disguised. Tulle is also very inexpensive.
- I created these for a little Fairy and Pirates Tea Party we had with a few friends. They were easy enough to make for each girl and they took them home as a gift.


In the first picture is my fast-growing fairy, Caroline! She is sipping her pink fairy tea which I am sure helped her to fly. Her flower headpiece is simply a flower lei, folded in half. The adorable tulle skirt was a gift and is one of her faves.

Other 'I Made It' Post:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Doula Day: What is a Doula and more!

"Doula Day" is going to be a series of informational posts on doulas which will include interviews, guest posts, and more, in partnership with the Tallahassee Doula Co-op. These posts are intended to help share information on the services provided by doulas and spread the word about their availability. You can search for information on these and other doulas in your area, on the web and through your local friends.

As I mentioned in the previous post, To Doula or Not to Doula, I have learned so much about doulas in the last few months and want to help spread the word about their great work. I have not personally used one for our births, but I am convinced that their assistance would have been so helpful with first two birth experiences. If we do decide to try for number three, we will be searching for a doula ourselves.

My first doula post was so popular that I asked the Tallahassee Doula Co-op if they would like to work with me to help share some more information on doulas, and they graciously agreed.

Lindsey Morrow, with Mothers Rising Birth Services, and Co-owner of the Co-op, was eager to provide answers to the following questions I asked:

What is the Tallahassee Doula Co-op?
The Tallahassee Doula Co-op is a progressive group of doulas actively involved in Tallahassee’s birth community.

How did you get started?
A year ago I saw a great need for other doulas to support each other, to educate the public about birth options and to help spread the word about birth related events. Basically, I was doulaing alone and I had nobody to rely on if, God forbid, I couldn’t make it to a birth. I mean, what if I got into a car accident or my son got sick? I couldn’t just leave my clients. Even if I never even used a backup, I felt like by just having one I would feel less stress. Also, I wanted to increase the marketing in Tallahassee so that people would know what a doula even was! I was not motivated to continue by myself, and I saw strength in numbers. So, I asked a few of my doula friends if they were interested in creating a co-op with me and they said yes!

Can you say, in as few words as possible, what it is that you hope a mom-to-be would get out of having a doula?
I hope that each woman that hires a doula would feel supported and heard as she navigates through her experience and makes decisions. I hope that she would never be alone when she needs support. I hope that her doula would assist her partner in finding new ways to physically and emotionally support her. A doula can be a constant voice of hope and strength as the mom-to-be moves through the intensity and rawness of her experience.

What does it take to be able to call yourself a doula?
A doula completes a training program that consists of lots and lots of reading and hands on practice – and there are many ways to do this. There are national organizations like DONA or Birthing From Within that train doulas (which each person in our co-op has completed). The first few births we complete are usually free which helps us quickly complete our training.

Are there different levels of doula certification?
No, not really. But a good doula never stops learning and growing. Our co-op is committed to continuing our education – whether becoming a lactation consultant, learning about optimal fetal positioning, or teaching childbirth classes. In fact, we hope to expand and grow our co-op so that we can keep growing and changing along with our mamas.

How can people learn about doulas available in their area?
Google is a good place to start. A lot of people find us through google searches and Also, word of mouth is pretty powerful. Most women find out what a doula is and how they can find a doula through friends. If those don’t work, try the DONA and Birthing From Within websites. You can search for their doulas in your area.

The Tallahassee Doula Co-op also hosts opportunities to meet their doulas at Speed Dating events. These fun events give moms-to-be the opportunity to meet several doulas in a casual setting. If you are pregnant and even mildly considering a doula, you may want to mark your calendar for July 16th, from 6:00 pm-8:00 pm at Learning Express Toys. More information is available on the Co-op's web site.

Thank you, Lindsey, for answering these questions and I look forward to hearing more from you and the Co-op!


The information provided in this post came from Lindsey Morrow in response to questions provided by me.

Lindsey, a Birthing From Within mentor and doula, is owner of Mother Rising Birth Services. She has been a doula since 2007 and began teaching Birthing From Within childbirth classes at the Birth Cottage in 2010. She enjoys serving Tallahassee and its surrounding areas by offering physical, educational, and emotional support to women and their families during the childbearing year. She believes that every woman can experience pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood not only as transformative, but also as a time when women can unlock new found strength in themselves. Lindsey is wife to Matt and mama to Gabriel who was born at The Birth Cottage in 2009. In the spare time she scrapes together, she writes on her blog, crochets, and enjoys outdoor activities (in any season but summer).

Monday, June 20, 2011

'I Made It' Monday: Let Summer (Pre)School Begin!

It is "summer vacation" for us, which means that instead of going to preschool for 9+ hours a week our now four year old daughter is home, all the time. I love her to bits, but she is busy. She and her two and a half year old brother can get a little stir crazy in their daily attempts to wear me out. This summer, though, I am trying to persevere by finding the right combination of structured (activities and outings) vs unstructured (time they can play with their toys, and mommy can too) time!

Overall, we are enjoying not being on someone else’s schedule and with the help of friends, we are filling our time quite nicely. I see when a week of summer camp fun may be neccessary around mid-July, in the meantime, I am trying to avoid being on a daily camp schedule.

As part of our structured time, and in my attempt to fulfill my need to teach my kids, I am trying to continue the kids' concrete learning- letters, numbers, and maybe even reading a word or two.

Today, I channeled the teaching career path I was supposed to take (at least that is what the nuns told me I should do when I grew up) and find some ways to help her learn how to write her ABCs and I arrived at a project that was hatched a few days ago. Here is how it started...

On Friday, I walked past a mini-laminator at a warehouse store. Well, almost walked past it. I love little gadgets that can inspire new crafts (as if I need more options), and just had to justify this nifty new toy to add to my collection. After a couple circles around the aisle I began channeling that inner teacher and it hit me- laminated worksheets!

As background, Caroline (the oldest kid) has been showing me letters she has drawn with such pride lately. She recognizes the letters and wants very badly to be able to write them all. I have been trying to encourage her to practice. However, I get a little bored drawing dots and she really wants to practice “on her own” instead of with me helping her. Therefore, by printing and laminating the sheets, she can trace and draw over them with a dry erase marker or crayons, show me, and then wipe them clean to use over and over.

I’m sure you can already guess, I bought the laminator.

Here is what we used for the project:

6 sheets of 26 lbs White Paper

3- 3 MIL Laminator Pockets

1- Personal Laminating Machine (I picked mine up at Costco for under $20 and it included 100 laminating packets in three sizes)

1- Dry erase marker

Web resource: First-School Preschool Activities and Crafts

After we found the web site, the whole project, took my helper and I about 10 minutes to complete.

Here is what we did:

First, we hit the internet and found this great resource, First-School Preschool Activities and Crafts, and found the "handwriting" section. (I have bookmarked this web site for the next time I need to feel like a Super-Mom)

Second, we picked out and printed these sheets:

1. All Letters Practice Sheet, Back to School theme, different themes are available (Print 1)

2. Preschool Blank Practice Sheet (Print 2 Portrait, 1 Landscape)

3. Number Train (Print 1)

4. Story Paper (Print 1)

Printing Notes: Initially, I printed each on its own sheet of paper and then matched them up when I put them through the laminator. If you use a slightly thicker paper (I used 26 lbs, and typical copy paper is 20 lbs), you can print front-back and barely tell what is on the opposite side. The laminator instruction manual warns that if you use paper that is too thick, it may not properly seal on the edges.

Third, we paired a blank practice sheet with each activity sheet, put them in a laminating sheet pocket and ran them through the machine. These are the pairings I did because I wanted her to have a somewhat blank side to each sheet (pictured below).

Pair 1: Letters- Blank Practice Sheet (Portrait)

Pair 2: Number Train- Blank Practice Sheet (Landscape)

Pair 3: Story Paper- Blank Practice Sheet (Portrait)

So far, she loves them and has been practicing her letters for a little while now. The project went fast enough, less than 10 minutes from printing to laminating, to keep her four year old attention span until the first sheet was ready for her to use.

I need to go get some fun colored dry erase markers! Next, find some sheets the two and a half year old will enjoy.

I'm sure we will find many more uses for this laminator- pictures, bookmarks, signage for my craft fair booth, placemats, leaf pressing!

What projects will you make with yours?

Happy creating and learning!

Here are some pictures of the laminating steps (very easy):

1. Load your printed sheets

2. Line the folded edge of the laminating pocket up with the machine (helps reduce bubbles)

3. Feed the pocket into the machine and watch it roll through

You could do this without the laminator by printing out multiple sheets and taking them to one of many places like Office Depot and Kinko’s that now offer laminating services, although you may get a better deal from a local print shop in your area. You could also just keep printing off these worksheets from the site. There are so many available.

(I found First School online by a simple internet search. The laminator I picked was basically an impulse buy, and it works fine, but I have only laminated 4 pages!)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Do Monkeys Like Glam Spa Parties?

Do monkeys like glam?
Do monkeys like spa parties?
You bet!

HappyLittleMonkey joined with some of their favorite locals, Little Speckled Frog and Rinse & Repeat Kids Salon, to help make a little girl's party Glam Spa fabulous!

HLM Personalized Shirts and the Pink Princess Tablecloth helped set the party mood, which are now also available at MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM too.

(HERE IS THE LINK TO ENTER!) This week, Pizzazzerie is featuring this Glam Spa Party on their blog with a $150 Giveaway, which includes a Custom Personalized Shirt from HLM like one of the ones pictured or we can create one especially for your party!

MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM is for your growing kiddo, focusing on fun and functional items for kids over age 1. HappyLittleMonkey still carries the Premium Swaddling Blanket Sets, Blanket Purses, and a selection of items available at MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM.

This party was organized by Ivona Foster of Sugarsticks Parties.

Vendors and Credits
Party d├ęcor and styling: Sugarsticks Parties
Swanky Baby Vintage | Little Speckled Frog | Happy Little Monkey
Soap favors:
Efil Bath Collection
Lucy & Leo’s
Kerrigan Studios

Monday, June 6, 2011

To Doula or Not to Doula?

Ok, I am not pregnant. So, no suspense on the answer to that question.

I have, however, recently had many conversations with doulas and so wish I had known more about them four years ago. At one point or another during my first pregnancy, we probably heard the word "doula" and dismissed it as someone for people who are having babies in their home, without a doctor, and without drugs, so we didn't give it a second thought.

In the last few months, I have learned so much about doulas and how they can help from the great ladies at the Tallahassee Doula Co-op. They even host Doula Speed Dating events where you have the opportunity to meet several doulas and see if you connect with one of them or if you are even interested in using one.

Many of the opportunities to meet with these girls has been through Mom's Time Out Tallahassee, a group I helped start to help connect local moms with each other. The original idea for MTO was hatched by four local moms-in-business to get our friends together. MTO events are more than just a traditional craft show or market, being an opportunity to meet other local moms and to also learn about local resources, like the Tallahassee Doula Co-op.

Lindsey Morrow with the Tallahassee Doula Co-op posted today about the MTO Summer Festival held this past Saturday, equating the women they met at the event to "huntresses" looking for information. I think the post by Lindsey with Rising Birth Services is such a great overview of things to think about if you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant.

Whether this is your first pregnancy, second, third, or more, if you feel like you could be missing something or you just want to be more conscientious about your delivery, these great girls may be able to help.

In our world of getting the best this, and the quickest that, we are oh so willing to hire consultants to plan weddings and parties, to contract with a lobbyist or communications firm for our businesses, and to seek financial advisers. However, when we get pregnant and are going to have a baby, why don't we seek help from people trained to help us through having the best delivery experience we can? We get advice, some solicited and some not, from mom, family, friends, and it helps us to shape what we expect, but we may not know about all of the options and how to best make sure we are taken care of in the hospital.

For those of you who are like me, know that many of these girls want to help you with the right options for you, from epidural to not, from c-section to a home birth. They are there to support you. If you have already had pregnancies, especially difficult ones and are considering more kids, they may be able to help give you the support you need to go for it.

Take a chance and learn about them. You may just find yourself getting enough confidence to consider another one!

Resources I mentioned: Tallahassee Doula Co-op
Doulas from the Co-op:

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Team FEST Features HLM!

The last few weeks have been so busy for me, from HappyLittleMonkey, opening MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM, helping organize the Mom's Time Out Summer Festival, and then, I got a message that Team FEST was going to feature my shop on their blog for the June Giveaway! Check it!

Team FEST (Florida Etsy Street Team) is a group of Florida based Etsians, and an amazing group to boot. Boasting over 400 members and growing daily, this amazing online community of artists is as inspiring as it is helpful.

HappyLittleMonkey joined the team earlier this year and I love being able to connect with other people on Etsy.

You don't have to be a crafter to follow and support Team FEST. So, please, check out the post about HappyLittleMonkey and MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM on the Team FEST Blog.

I also want to give a shout out to these bloggers for also sharing this contest:
Tierra Sol Paz- photography, jewelry, papercrafts
Pen and Paperie- ink, paper, and cardmaker