Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Valentine's Day Gift Ideas

Are you looking for a great gift for your little Valentine?

Check out the customizable tea and cookie sets listed at MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM, its my shop where I list things for the bigger little kids (capes, tea sets, cookies, hair accessories, and more).

Hot out of the oven and added to the store:  Heart-Shaped Frosted Cookies with White Sprinkles!  These are just in time for Valentine's Day and come in pink or red.  They are the perfect gift- sugar-free, fat-free, gluten-free, and calorie-free!

NEW! Heart-Shaped Frosted Cookies
Check them and all of the other pieces out online.

Play Tea Bags
Assortment of Play Cookies
We can even make Kids' Table Tablecloths to complete your tea parties.

Tea Party on a Custom Kids' Table Tablecloth
For even more information on my tea and cookie sets, please see this post: Gift Giving Made Easy: For the Love of Tea Parties.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, January 23, 2012

New Pants: A Slight Change to the Ruffled Pant

Caroline finally has a new pair of handmade pants!
Caroline dancing on the dock 
I am pretty sure that I am either genetically programmed or at least conditioned to believe that I have to make the kids a new outfit for the holidays, so of course I did make them Christmas clothes.  However, clothes for 'no good reason' have been on my to do list, but haven't gotten 'to done.' (A 'for no good reason" day is like when I worked in an office and flowers would show up on a Wednesday, just because it was Wednesday.   That's a 'no good reason' type of day.)  Anyway, I have wanted to make something that wasn't for a holiday for the kids, but just haven't had time because we have been wayyy too busy.

Sewing for my kids is really enjoyable to me, especially since my daughter loves it so very much!  I keep meaning to record her reactions but am usually too busy collecting my mommy paycheck and soaking up the very moment I present Caroline with a new something I created.  The "You made this for me!?!" and the big hug followed by "Thanks, Mommy!" is so totally worth it every time.

Over the last couple of months I have had such big sewing plans for kids' clothes that I have even cut out several things so they were ready if an "extra" hour became available that I could use to sew.  Then, my husband's side of the family had a get together this past weekend.  Perfect, a deadline!  I just HAD to get a new something made for her.  Besides, Miss Mermaid and her daughters would be there and surely there would be some fun opportunities for pics!
Caroline and Miss Mermaid's Daughter
After combing through my collection of patterns and fabric, since what I already had cut just wouldn't do, I decided that since time wasn't on my side I would go with my trusted friend, the ruffled pants pattern.  Ruffled pants and I go way back at this point so I knew I could get these done with minimal hiccups.

The pants
Ruffled pants being, well, just ruffled pants that I have already made her a dozen pairs of, I wanted to do something a little different.  My style preferences are fairly classic, so I didn't want anything too drastic. (Besides, I didn't have any fabrics that matched well enough to add funky pockets or patches.) As I was attaching the second ruffle, I finally decided we needed a little more gathering. You may notice that they are a little scrunchy at the bottom of each pant leg.  I used the seam allowance as a little pocket to sew elastic into.  This made the fabric gather up a little on each leg, and it came out great!

Do you have a great "stand by" pattern you turn to when you just need to sew?  If so, what is it?

Have you altered the traditional ruffled pants?  If so, what have you done to them?

Well, the upcoming holiday wasn't totally left out.  The "Sweet" Conversation Heart hair clippie in Caroline's hair was also created this past weekend, just in time for Valentine's Day.  They will be available at MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM and locals can stop by Rinse & Repeat- Kids' Salon later this week to pick some up too!   (More colors are coming)

Valentine's Hair Clips

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fun with "Junk": Inpsired by Some Friends

There are these two fun gals I know who LOVE to take old stuff and make it into new, fun stuff.  They are pretty awesome, and all to often make me think "I can do that" or worse "I HAVE to do that."  Lately, they have both been crafty crazies and it seems like every. time. I. turn. around. they are tackling another one of their great ideas, transforming some glorious piece of yesterday into an awesome item in their home.

Who are these masters of disaster?  Enter Suzi from Purpose ReDesign has just picked her keyboard back up to share some of her home projects with the great WorldWideWeb, and Ashley from Goodwillionaire who has been rockin the thrifty scene for quite some time and recently has earned top honors on my husband's list of people who inspire me to do bad things (like go out and acquire other people's things).   The antics of these two ladies were all I needed to result in my encounter with this awesome piece and bring it home.

It was labeled "Gossip Chair" and I found it at a local store called "GoodFinds," a place I had to check out after reading Suzi's last post.  This store is chock full of good stuff just waiting for a new home.  Despite the ragged looking bandana covering the seat and slightly shabby paint job, I had a feeling this would quickly become my four-year olds favorite resting spot.  (Her newest past-time is pretend talking on the phone, and she will do this for minutes on end, a pretty long time for a four-year old)

Knowing myself and the number of projects I have piled up, like this other awesome table for my playroom that Ashley "made me" buy, I didn't let this one sit still very long.  I quickly dug through my fabric stash and settled on one with retro looking birds.  Then, the fun stuff began.

A few washdowns with a healthy dosing of lysol and the paint still looked shabby, and not the shabby-chic kindof shabby either.  So, outside we went to the handheld electric sander and my magic eraser.  Before long, we had the finish looking better and just needed to recover the seat pad.

(Caroline took this fun picture)
The finished Gossip Chair is now resting in our entryway and has already been the perfect place for quite a few conversations.  I even caught her lecturing her brother on how she is on a very important phone call and would appreciate if he would play quieter.  I'm still laughing that she handled him gently and didn't just yell!

Chair seat recover details:

Chair seats that simply screw onto the frame and probably one of the easiest things to recover, as I reminded by Suzi's post where she uses the same techniques to cover a shelf for a coffee table.

Take off the extra fabric, trim any extra fabric from the original seat and safely remove any extra or dangerous hardware (this seat had a nail sticking out).

I used my seat as a template to cut my fabrics.
1. Cut two layers of quilters batting the same size as the top of the seat.
2. Spray glue the top of the seat and adhere the batting.
3. Lay the seat on top of your fabric.
4. Cut the fabric about 3" larger on each side than the seat.
5. Staple your fabric to the seat.  I fold each edge under so I am stapling through two layers (also it makes the finished underside look nicer, not that anyone but you will care).   I start in the middle of one side with the first staple, then staple the opposite side.  Then I go back and forth between the two sides to make sure I keep the fabric pulled equally and don't overstretch in any place.
6. Secure the seat back onto the frame.

To Suzi and Ashley, thank you for your posts that led me to take on this fun little project that keeps making me smile.

Go forth and find something to improve this weekend!

If you want to check out the crafty awesomeness, swing on over to visit Suzi's blog Purpose ReDesign and Ashley's blog Goodwillionaire.  These are two crafty fun mamas!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

First Birthday Party: Cupcake Theme!

I have been meaning to write about this FOREVER, so here goes...

As birthday parties go, I’m probably only going to make headlines with my own kids.  However, by the time I get done with a birthday party, I am pretty proud of it and love that I get to focus my creativity on doing something special for my kiddos.   

Turning One is such a big milestone, and in our house its a pretty big deal.  Besides that it means we all survived the first year, it also means that we can finally share one of our most favorite things in the world with our kid- cake!  Oh, yes, cake!  Cake that is loaded with sugar and then more sugar, decorated with sprinkles, and just beautiful.  
To us its a no brainer that the First Birthday Party theme should be Cupcakes. So, when you turn one under our roof, you get cupcakes, and lots of them!
Here are the highlights of our cupcake party:

1. Decorations. The Inflatable Cupcake!  I picked these up online (pink or blue) and we now have a pink and a blue one that get set up for each birthday.  It has become a tradition to take pictures by them each year to see how they have grown.  Besides, who doesn’t love a cupcake?  (If your dad doesn’t own a sign shop so that you can easily get a personalized sign made for your party, you are welcome to use my dad!  His shop is called InstaSIGN  and you can call his shop at (561)272-2323.)  

Our other decorations are the standard party decor, which I just think is sweet- streamers and balloons, as well as the giant homemade cupcake cake (made with a Wilton pan and pretty easy to make).
2. Cupcake Decorating.  A one-year old is really just fascinated by all the people around them and probably doesn’t have a clue about the whole thing.  However, the bigger kids at the party need something to do, so what did I come up with?  Cupcake decorating.  I had big plans of making all the parts from scratch- cupcakes, frosting, etc. I ran out of time, luckily, Publix saved the day by selling their undecorated cupcakes and frosting by the pound (genius!).  I set a table up with sprinkles, frosting, and other candy toppings and right before its time to sing, let the big kids decorate their own cupcakes.  

3. Other general activities.  Our party attendees have ranged in age from toddlers to teenagers, so we try to have a variety of activities.  At the first birthday we had lots of coloring sheets, crayons, bubbles, a ball pit, outside toys, horse shoes, and a birthday themed bean bag toss toy.

4. The Cupcake Toast!  This is my FAVORITE part.  For this party the cake is, of course, cupcakes.   We “tray” all of the cupcakes, put one candle in each one, light the candles and pass them out to all of the guests who hadn’t decorated their own cupcake.  Then its kindof like a Cupcake Toast while we sing.  At the end the guests blow out the candles and we can avoid putting fire in front of a one-year old.  It also helps that guests don’t just have to stand by idly while we waited for a one-year old to figure out what to do with his cake.  

So, there you have it, the basics of Our Cupcake First Birthday party.
Caroline turns 1

Other things we have learned:

- Get a cute bib!  We spent time picking out the perfect outfit to celebrate the big day, then when its time for cake (and pictures), you don't want a yucky old bib.  (I offer First Birthday bibs at the shop because I had such a hard time finding one when I wanted one four years ago.  Cupcake appliques are also available!)
- Smash cake- Use pastel colored frosting to avoid a technicolor kid.  
- Paper Items- It was so tempting to bring home plates, napkins, cups, etc with cupcakes on them. Instead, we opted for solid colored paper goods (pink and green for Caroline, blue and white for Jack).  Then we could use the extras after the party.  Also, you do not really need cake plates or utensils when you have cupcakes.  
- Take lots of pictures!  LOTS!  If you can ask a friend or family member to take pictures and video for you too, do it.  You won't regret that someone else is capturing the moment while you are spending time with your kiddo.  

Jack turns 1 (his sister helps!)

Do you have any great first birthday party tips?   I'd love to hear them!

(It has taken me two years to finally sit down and write about this party!  Hopefully it will take less time for me to post about our other party themes- Elmo, Cars, Princesses, Fairies and Pirates, and Angry Birds!)  

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

We hope that you sent 2011 on its merry way and are ready to welcome the potential of 2012.  Yes, that sounds a totally hokey, but c'mon, it is the beginning of a new year and if we can't be optimistic now, then the next twelve months are going to be verrrrrryyyy looooooonnnnng.  

We bid adieu to 2011 surrounded by family, which means a lot of travel for us since we live in three different parts of the great state of Florida (Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and Palm Beach County).  It was tons of fun and at times trying, but now we are preparing to settle back into the regularly scheduled program we call "life."  

From our family to yours, we wish you the best for 2012 and hope you have lots of happy (even when it seems crazy) to share!