Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wednesday What's Up: Recent Orders

The last couple of week have been so busy with Back to School and custom orders. Items for bigger kids have been the theme. Please enjoy the following pictures of these custom monogrammed and appliqued items from HappyLittleMonkey and MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM.

Custom Outfit- Circle Letter Applique Shirt with Fruit Salad Skirt and Monogrammed Bloomers (MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM)
Matching Lime Slice Hair Clippies (MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM)
One- Color Monogrammed Kids' Tote Bag (MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM)
Butterfly Applique Shirt, Made to Match Tree Skirt (MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM)
Monkey Applique Shirt with Add On Bow (MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM)
SuperVan Appliqued T-Shirt, Custom Order, All letters available, Sizes 6 months- 6 (MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM)
Rainbow Applique on Romper, Custom Request to accompany a tutu for a child's first birthday (MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM)
Back to School, Custom Order- ABC Truck Applique on Shirt Provided by Customer
Back to School Custom Order- Chalkboard Applique on Shirt Provided by Customer
One color, Classic Scroll, Monogrammed Bloomers (HappyLittleMonkey and MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM), Available up to 4T
Owl Applique Shirt, Made to Match the Owl Skirt (MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM)
Owl Tank Top, Made to Match Owl Skirt (MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM)
Owl Clips (MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM)

These products and more can be found online at HappyLittleMonkey (focuses on pregnancy to age 1) or MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM (focuses on age 1 and up).

Monday, August 29, 2011

Photos on a Monday: First Day of School

Today, the powers that be have given me two sleeping kids. So, what have I done with this blessing? I have scrolled through pictures of them.

My oldest started PreK-4 last week and we are still adjusting to waking up early, being back on someone else's schedule, and the general structure that accompanies regimented punctuality.

So, while my kids rest, I review the highlights of milestones in their lives.

To all of you kids who have started the 2011-12 school year, good luck!


Friday, August 26, 2011

My Favorite Creation: Felt Board (Yep, 'I Made It')

Ok, well, my kids are actually my favorite creation, but this is a close second.

About two years ago, my husband and I made this felt board for the kids' playroom. Over time, it has evolved from just being a place the kids could become familiar with letters, colors, and shapes to our most recent "improv game" where we each pick an item and then someone has to tell a story using the items picked by the audience. The kids are even getting good at this game!

Recently I posted some pictures of my playroom re-org and I have had a few questions about this board, so I decided to share how we made it. It really requires minimal skill, but the possibilities are endless.

Here are the main materials:
1 piece of thin wood
Spray Glue
Felt the size of the wood (you can get this at Joann's or another craft show by the yard and it is 72" wide so one side of your board has to be less than 72" or you have to piece felt together)
Wooden Letters, Shapes, and Figures
Velcro with Sticky Tape Backing
Spray Paint

If you want to frame your board, you will also need:
Trim molding
Miter saw

We made this two years ago, so I don't have pictures of the creation process, but here is what we did.

Making the sturdy felt board:

1. Determine how big you want your board to be. And get your materials.
- I wanted this board to look like an old school chalkboard, so I used dark green felt and bought matte white spray paint for the letters so they would look like chalk.
- I bought the backing board at Home Depot and had an employee there cut it to the size I needed so I wouldn't have to do this later (also, it made it so the wood would fit in my van).
2. Get your spray glue, felt, board, and a helper person. Take them outside and create an elevated work surface. (We used two sawhorses and laid the board across them.)
3. Spray the glue all over the top of the board and don't be stingy. Good coverage and stickiness will help the felt stay attached to the board when the kids are manipulating the velcro backed pieces.
4. Give your helper one side of the felt and you take the other. Hold it rather flat and start on one corner of the board and lay the felt on the sticky board. You will want to gently press the felt onto the board, working from one corner out to the other three. If you get any bubbles or puckers, gently lift it back up, spray a little more glue and then continue pressing it down.
5. Trim the excess felt. If you are not going to make a frame, you want to leave a few inches around each side so you can flip the board over and glue the flaps onto the back. If you are going to frame it, then trim the felt close the edges.
6. Securely affix the board to the wall. We used drywall screws and anchors in each corner. This sucker is not going to fall off.

Making the frame:

I found it easiest to create the frame after the board was on the wall, and one side at a time.
1. Paint all of the pieces of your frame. We used really simple trim molding because it already had a cut out that I could use the butt it up to the frame.
2. When the paint is dry, line one piece up on the board, and mark the edges of your feltboard on the frame piece.
3. Take the piece with the marks and use a mitersaw to cut 45 degree angles at each corner.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for all four sides.
5. Nail the pieces to the wall. I used a trim nail-gun. You could use any small nails and a hammer if you don't have a nail-gun.
Making the letters:

Make sure you get thin, lightweight letters.
This may have been the hardest part of this project because I had to sort through all of the letters at Joann's until I found them all.
As an alternative, you could get more felt, print letters from your computer to use as stencils and cut them all out of felt. Felt sticks to felt, so you would be done after you cut them out.
1. Get your letters.
2. Then paint them whatever color(s) you want.
3. Cut the rough half of your sticky back velcro into about 1/2" pieces.
4. When the letters are dry, affix the velcro to the back of each letter.
Now, step back and admire your work. Then, take some great pictures of your kids using it and share them with me!

Here are some of the games we have played:

- Name spelling
- Match letters with shapes (What letter does airplane start with? "A." Then put the airplane next to the "A.")
- Group shapes by color
- Tell stories
-Recite nursery rhymes
- Improv story telling
What games would you play?

I am always getting new ideas for things I can add to this board:

- Spray the initial piece of wood with metal/magnetic paint so the kids could also use magnets on it (honestly, old school magnetic things creep me out because kids put so many things in their mouth. My kids would only be allowed to use the Leap Frog type magnets on the board because they can't get the magnets off the back.)
- Another option to make the board also magnetic would be to apply the felt over a dry erase board or other metal sheet. Might be easier and cheaper than buying the specialty paint.
- Buy wooden squares and cover with chalkboard paint so the kids can insert letters as they need to spell new words. We are currently constrained to one of each letter in the words we can spell.
- Michaels usually carries the wooden items already painted and has recently started carrying a variety of felt sets and even a Dr. Seuss felt story set. As a warning, some of the sets have LOTS of pieces. I glued ours together so they wouldn't have as many pieces floating around.
- Iron on transfers. My kids love Disney characters, so I printed some images off the internet onto iron-on transfer paper and then applied them to felt. The kids like playing with these too.

Thank you for the moment to share our creation!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Florida Sales Tax Holiday: Qualified Products

Florida's 2011 Sales Tax Holiday is August 12-August 14, 2011, and I am so excited that so many HappyLittleMonkey and MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM products qualify!

Here is a sampling of what is available and each picture has a link above it to more like products that are also tax exempt.

What is included? This is from the Florida Department of Revenue:

Florida law directs that no sales tax or local option taxes (also known as discretionary sales surtax) will be collected on sales of clothing, footwear, and certain accessories selling for $75 or less, or on certain school supplies selling for $15 or less. This three-day tax exemption is in effect from 12:01 a.m. on Friday, August 12, 2011, through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, August 14, 2011.

Are you ready to get your shopping on? These products all qualify!

HappyLittleMonkey products focus on newborns to age 1.
MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM focuses on ages 1 and up.
For more information on the difference between HappyLittleMonkey and MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM, please visit the post HappyLittleMonkey has a sibling!

Please be sure to "like" HappyLittleMonkey on Facebook and to "Follow" this blog to get information on our adventures and the shops.
I am also on Twitter @HappyLtlMonkey.

As always, thank you for your support and it will be my pleasure to help you create the perfect item or gift.

Photo Fun: Blueberry Picking Pictures

We found an organic blueberry farm and went picking a few weeks back and I was just flipping through the pictures. Some of them were so adorable that I just had to share them.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"I Made It" Blueberry Jam, Tomato Sauce, and Pickles

Oh. My. Goodness. Canning is so much fun! You no longer have to be afraid and seriously, its like therapy.

I have tried out a few more recipes and learned some more too. Here is a picture of most of the results.

Tomato/Spaghetti Sauce

Whether you call is gravy or sauce, the result is the same- a big ole "YUM!"

For this adventure, my main consultant was How to Cook Like Your Grandmother. (Isn't that a great site name?) Drew included great pics and step by step of making and canning spaghetti sauce. For the most part, I followed the recipe. Initially, I added a couple garden fresh peppers, more garlic and a large can of tomato paste.

1. Start your sauce early in the day so you can smell the aroma all day long. It is so wonderful.
2. One cup of sugar makes a VERY sweet sauce. I had never used that much when I have made sauce before, but was trusting the recipe since sugar can be part of the preservation part. I really need to look into this more, because it was VERY sweet. We had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner with the sauce, and after dinner I added another can of tomato paste and some more garlic and seasoning to the sauce. Much better.
3. The immersion blender is so key. It make the sauce so nice.

Blueberry Jam

Ok, with this recipe, I learned trust. I used a recipe out of the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving for jam made from berries. It is a simple formula: 9 cups of crushed berries, 6 cups of sugar. Combine, heat, stir a lot, when it gets to the gelling point, remove from heat. This mixture just was not becoming jelly like I expected it to. I was practically crying that I had just turned 3 lbs of our fresh picked blueberries into syrup instead of jam. Not trusting the recipe, I cooked it a little more. My jam is much thicker than I would like it to be.

1. Trust the recipe.
2. I am pretty sure that this jam would have "set up" some more in the jar as it cooled. Nevertheless, it is still yummy on sandwiches and even better reheated just a bit and poured over cheesecake or ice cream.

Fermented Pickles

My pickles are done! In I Miss Harry Potter, So I'm Making My Own Magic: 'I Made It' I started making fermented pickles with the kids. Thanks to Alton Brown and his recipe, we now have pickles with some kick!

1. Pepper is very strong! We only used half of the red pepper flakes Alton suggested, and they still had some kick.
2. These pickles are salty and they make your mouth pucker a little.

Now I have a pantry stocked with extra yummy goodness that we made and I know what is in it! Bye bye high fructose corn syrup

Friday, August 5, 2011

What's Up? Photos of Recent Custom Orders and Gifts

Here are pictures of some of the custom orders I have been working on recently. As always, thank you for remembering HappyLittleMonkey and MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM for your baby and kid gift-giving.

Deluxe Designer Swaddling Blanket and Burp Cloth Cake

Monogrammed Bloomers (Available in 0-6 months through 4T)

Stacked Name Monogrammed Bloomers

Custom Boutique Pebbles Costume in Dark Khaki

Star Hair Clippies (These actually stay in!)

Monkey Hair Clippies

Personalized Applique Burp Cloth on new Knit Burp Cloths

Personalized Burp Cloths (Stacked Monograms)

These products and more can be found online at HappyLittleMonkey (focuses on pregnancy to age 1) or MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM (focuses on age 1 and up).