May 31, 2010

Painting with wildflowers

A visit over lunch with a friend bearing gifts this weekend, followed by an evening walk through our neighborhood field, and we were set for this really, REALLY fun project - painting with wildflowers!!! 








Delaney invited her little neighbor friend over to join us for the wildflower painting party.  The girls each made a packet of absolutely lovely
notecards. And that Crafty Chica paint is so bright and cheery, from the official Crafty Chica color palette! I even watered it down to make a cross between regular paint and watercolors, and it was still vivid with excellent coverage - a little bit went a looooooooong way - LOVE IT! {Thanks again, Andee!}

Our inspiration for this project came in part due to Delaney's recent 
budding interest in poetry and a classic Margaret Wise Brown book - The Friendly Book:

I LIKE STARS

Yellow stars
Green stars
Red stars
Blue stars
I like stars
Far stars
Quiet stars
Bright stars
Light stars
I like stars
A star that is shooting across the dark sky
A star that is shining right straight in your eye
I like stars.


Delaney came up with a few friendly poems of her own, one about clouds, another about animals, and this one:


I LIKE FAIRIES

Regular fairies
Tooth fairies
Temporary fairies
Permanent fairies
I like fairies
Magic fairies
Hunting fairies
Garden fairies
Water fairies
I like fairies
Fairies that take my teeth and keep them
Garden fairies that make plants grow like magic
Water fairies putting dew drops on spider webs
I like fairies.

After writing friendly poems, while tucking Delaney into bed and making plans for our day ahead, she said she hoped we'd get to do some fairy painting. I asked her to tell me how fairies paint, and she said, in her kindest
c'mon mom, you should know this tone, that fairies paint with flowers from their fields.


The Friendly Book, fairy poems, fields of wildflowers, and great friends - that is how painting with wildflowers came to be! 

May 29, 2010

Florist on wheels

I'm LOVING our new-to-us Joovy Caboose ultralight tandem stroller with the jump seat! It has been a great way to get out for walks with both kids on sunny, Spring days. Liam loves taking in the big, bright world from the front seat, and Delaney enjoys the bench seat in the back where she can jump on and off at will. I'm hoping the novelty of the jump seat will wear off soon so she'll start walking with me again and just use the seat for when she needs to stop and rest her legs along the way. But so far, she's along for the free ride and loves facing me while we walk, chatting my ear off the entire time!

I thought the neoprene parent organizer across the handle bar was especially handy for traveling light with essentials, but it has quickly been taken over by this little florist I know who LOVES to stop and smell pick the flowers along the way. (The roomy compartments intended for keys, electronics and water bottles make great vases for transport!) We're fortunate enough to have this amazing field adjacent to our street full of wildflowers, so we've negotiated that first we walk the big loop, then we end at the field for flower picking.





Our neighbor friend joined us in the field tonight helping us pick enough flowers to fill two vases! We totally would have shared, but we're inviting her over tomorrow after lunch to do some flower art with us. I've been saving up a list of must-try nature projects, just waiting for spring and all the blooms. Besides parting with our bouquets so quickly (luckily there's plenty more where they came from!), the hard part will be picking which project to try first.



May 28, 2010

Preschooler pointillism

Delaney and I had fun going on a hunt around the house for objects that would make dots. We started with q-tips, which I saw suggested on sites like this one for introducing pointillism to young children.





We  branched out into using the rims of objects for circling around dots...


And filling in with more dots...



Here's a more detailed approach to introducing pointillism - we'll definitely have to try shading the primary colors next time and provide a simple image to paint in with dots.

I stumbled upon this short youtube video clip - fantastic idea to combine pointillism with peppy music as a great way to pick up the pace and fill up the paper before petering out. When I showed it to Delaney, she squealed "DOT DANCING!" We totally have to try that!

Here are a couple of books that pair perfectly with this project, The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds and Katie's Sunday Afternoon by James Mayhew. The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds has a companion website with great activity ideas, and Mayhew has an entire series dedicated to introducing children to famous works of art through the rich and adventurous imagination of young Katie.


 

May 24, 2010

Baby clothes into big girl quilt

What a lucky, love-filled day! It started with BOTH kiddos sleeping in until 9 am - that NEVER happens anymore with a baby in the house. Love him dearly, early riser and all, but miss sleeping in and love any extra ZZzzz's he's willing to gift me!

My sewing group met this morning, and surprised me with a little birthday celebration! Remember my cloth diapering contemplations? They helped make it an easy decision with a generous gift certificate to Simple Cloth - our local go-to shop for cloth diapering. I'd actually purchased a few sets of cloth diapers from there last week to test drive, and things have been going well, so I had been planning to purchase a few more at payday. Looks like I'll get to shop this week, and again next! Thanks sewing circle friends, you're the best!

Next, I received the phone call I've been waiting for all weekend... my baby clothes turned big girl quilt (aka labor of love) was ready to pick up! It was so very thrilling to get it back completed. Delaney was just as excited as I, can you tell? 


I had the Ikea curtains I used for Delaney's nursery tucked away for something special. This was it! The bright, fun colors from the curtains made a great binding, coordinating well with the colorful baby clothing charms. And see the little pink paisley pocket square? Delaney decided it's for love notes, and has already slipped a few inside.




Delaney wanted to pretend to be asleep for this picture. I love her so!


After we got back from the longarm quilter, the mailman rang the bell with a package just for me! My sister in law sent me a belated (with good reason!) birthday gift - she had to take a few players down in the final seconds of a cut-throat eBay auction that ended a few days after my birthday to secure this very cool, well-worth-the-wait-present.... a Cathrineholm bowl, to add to my budding collection - thanks CA, I absolutely love it! 


This is how we finished our day - a storytime slumber party, to enjoy our new blanket and bowl together before saying goodnight to this great day! And a few lottery tickets in my pocket, because that's how I'm feeling right now - really lucky!




5/27/10 EDIT: I've received a few questions about my baby clothes quilt and wanted to include my replies here as it may help others too! 


1) Yes, some of the charms in my quilt are squares instead of rectangles. On a few of my daughter's outfits, the design that I wanted to isolate and include in the quilt were square in size, so for those pieces, I simply made the dimensions the size of two rectangles and pieced it whole in place of two rectangles in the strip. One hint I have for this is to include the same number of squares in each column so the stack of coins are all the same length because you're short a seam allowance for every square you use and it will be obvious at the bottom of the stack if you don't short each row the same.


2) Yes, I used some stretchy knits in the quilt - I backed these with a light iron-on interfacing and this really did wonders in stabilizing them to line up square and stay put with the other less fussy fabrics.


3) I used approximately 40 articles of clothing to come up with the variety and combination of charms, everything from dresses to jammies to bibs and bloomers!


4) My sewing experience is beginner and I've never made a quilt before. This was a perfect pattern for a first time quilting experience. It took me a day to cut all the charms and iron on interfacing and another half day or so to sew the coin strips and piece it all together. And as I shared, I did not do the quilting and binding, but had a local long arm do that for me as I did not want to risk ruining it since the fabric is non-replaceable. I will definitely try a complete quilt myself with less sentimental material, but have an inkling that I'm going to be all about the design of the quilt and piecing it than the finishing.


5) I'd love to see yours if you make one too! 

May 21, 2010

Winner

Look at that grip and panic written all over his adorable little face! Liam's looking a little worried that I'm giving away his wonky play squares... little does he know that his are safe, I made a duplicate set. Just have to finish the last two squares, with crinkle based on the winner's comment:





Tracy said... What a great idea! My 9 month old LOVES touching crinkly things.





Congratulations Tracy! I'll email you to confirm the crinkle, and get your mailing address. I hope your little one loves this toy as much as mine does!


May 20, 2010

Homemade baby wipes recipe

I'm considering cloth diapering - not a baby step by any means in my world. I still have research to do before I make that leap, including a visit to this incredible cloth diapering shop that, lucky for us, is right here locally, but lucky for non-locals, offers online shopping, the best products available, free shipping (orders over $50) and excellent customer service! In the meantime, after learning that it takes a baby wipe 50,000 years to decompose (really??!), I thought this was one item that I COULD easily make a switch to something more environmentally friendly, and after looking at options, discovered that making your own wipes is not only gentler for baby and the environment, but easier on the pocketbook as well! Besides the long term consequences of using wipes (taking 500 generations to decompose!) the short term consequences of traditional disposable wipes include chemicals that can irritate sensitive skin and make diaper rashes worse, such as alcohol, perfume, chlorine and dioxin. Or even absorb into the skin, especially skin that is more prone to outbreaks due to the chemicals - NO THANK YOU! By making my own wipes, I control the ingredients used for the wipe solution while easing my conscious. I tried this basic recipe - it makes enough solution for turning an entire roll of paper towels into wipes - and it works great.
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 TB food-grade oil (I use coconut oil*)
  • 2 TB organic baby wash (I use California Baby, Super Sensitive Skin formula)
*Coconut oil is naturally antibacterial and antifungal - it is also an excellent moisturizer so leaving on skin without rinsing is good for baby's bottom! And, it smells GREAT! Next time I'm going to try omitting the baby wash - I think the coconut oil's properties are sufficient to do the job, and because soaps should be rinsed off skin, I don't want to leave any residue on my baby's skin that may have the potential to cause a rash.

I used this easy 
step-by-step tutorial I found on White House, Black Shutters to turn paper towels into baby wipes using the same wipe solution recipe above.

Measure 4 cups of sterilized water and 2 TB coconut oil into a saucepan. I use the water I've boiled for mixing formula, after it's cooled to room temperature. I don't think you want to heat the coconut oil at a boiling temperature, we're not cooking it, just heating it enough to dissolve. And, because you're transferring the wipe solution into a plastic container for storage, I don't want to use boiling water that may overheat the plastic and leech chemicals into the wipes, which pretty much defeats the purpose. Coconut oil has a very low melting point so it doesn't take much time or temperature. 




After cutting your paper roll in half with a non-serrated knife (otherwise you'll have lots of fuzzies in your wipe - yuck!), place inside 6-8 cup containers.


Fill each container with two cups of the wipe solution and SMOOSH until you can get the lid on snug - don't worry, they'll fit! Once the lid is on nice and tight, turn the containers upside down and wait at least five minutes!


After fully saturated, the paper core will easily remove from the center of the roll, followed by wipes that easily pull right out in a continuous chain - Ta-Da! Just like store bought, but oh, so much better!



As a family that uses cloth instead of paper napkins at mealtime, I realize that using paper towels for wipes may still be considered wasteful, and that reusable cloth wipes would be better for the environment. It's definitely another baby step I am thinking about taking. The Eco-Friendly Family has a comprehensive-without-being-too-overwhelming guide from the why use cloth wipes, to what materials work best, and how to make them DIY style, including a nice video tutorial that shows how to sew wipes with both a serger and a sewing machine. 


One step at a time.



May 16, 2010

May giveaway day

Play Squares for Baby
with velcro for stacking, and crinkle action inserts


Yay for May Giveaway Day at Sew, Mama, Sew!, one of my all-time favorite sewing blogs! From the best fabric selections to their frequent specials, free tutorials and active fan base that fuels the inspiration, I love this blog!

The May Giveway Day is such a great event - you have the opportunity to win tons of cool handmade goods, and meet the even cooler people that make them, and it's all FREE! I'm definitely in, determined to make time for sewing even though sleep and sunshine are also competing fiercely for my time these days.

So, I just saw this idea on Made by Joel - play squares for babies - and thought this was the perfect project to get me back in action - simple, satisfying, and definitely a fun toy for my boy! Look at him, getting so big, ready to play!



And since it's a quick and easy project, why not two, so I have an extra to give away to one of you!


So, the only twist I added in my version is using the lining from our empty raisin bran box to put a little crinkle action into a couple of the squares. I realize there's some debate about the use of any kind of plastic in a toy that will be chewed on by a baby. I feel that a food grade plastic is safer than other alternatives I've seen suggested (baby wipe package) and I think the reward outweighs any risk (Liam LOVES crinkly toys!) but you may disagree, so I have not yet finished two of the squares for the second set, and will let the winner decide if they prefer the crinkle action, or not.

I whipped these up quick, so they're a bit wonky. Let's just call it whimsy, intentional of course, k? The babies won't even notice, I promise.

Please forgive the less than flattering pictures - I'm getting organized for this event at 10pm, after kiddos are in bed, so my lighting is artificial - blah.



The giveaway will take place from now until 11:59 pm EST Thursday, May 20th. All you have to do for a chance to win these play squares for baby is leave a comment on this post - share your baby's name (love hearing all the baby names!) or something sweet, or silly about your baby, or more serious (solicited advice, like how to sneak in more sewing now that I'm a mama of two??). I'll choose a random winner, announced Friday morning.  Don't forget to leave your email address in the comments so I have a way to contact you! International entries are welcome. 

 

And definitely head over to Sew, Mama, Sew! - as of last Friday, there were well over 250 giveaway hosts, and growing! And if you're not a follower, go right now, get acquainted.

Good luck!

May 13, 2010

Poetry primers

After blogging yesterday on books and reading, I remembered a book I found some time ago while thrifting called "A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms" by Paul B. Janeczko. It's geared toward upper grade school children, so we're not quite there yet, but I loved skimming through it so bought it anyway, to tuck away for later. 

And I recently found this absolutely darling and delightful Haiku Baby board book recommended through another blog that I'm currently in line for at the library for Liam. It's a starting place, and look where it can lead to - Truckery Rhymes - so. Much. FUN!




Delaney's somewhere in the middle, past board books but probably not ready for the study of proper poetic constructs just yet. Another one by Janeczko, A Foot in the Mouth: Poems to Speak, Sing and Shout, looks like an excellent launching level for a preschooler. 


 




Here's my little 'haiku in a hurry'...


     a flooding of links
     poetry is pouring down
     pause and soak some in

May 12, 2010

Books + sunshine = simple pleasures

The blogosphere is FULL of so many fun, fabulous ideas for keeping the creativity flowing through our home, yet it can be overwhelming at times, especially when I find that I'm spending more time bouncing around blogs and bookmarking more ideas than we have the time to try. So today I decided we'd step back, keep it simple, and remember that sometimes doing next to nothing can be more fulfilling than taking on too much. With the sun out to greet us, Delaney and I headed out to the backyard with a blanket, pillow and a HUGE stack of books, and read the day away... well, all through Liam's naptime anyway. 





This book below reminded me of a recent post I came across - Ohdeedoh's 3 Books to Introduce Poetry to Children. I'd add this one to the list - Poems to Read to the Very Young by Josette Frank. It's full of thoroughly engaging, whimsical, rhyming delight! I'm sure I picked up this copy at a yard sale or such - it's a great vintage copy from the early 60's. Oh, speaking of vintage books - I just discovered this site and can't wait to explore more: vintage kids' books my kid loves




We've already started reading with Liam - you can never start too early! - and I was thrilled to find this list of five books to inspire boys, as well as this list of the best children's books to read as adults (with your children!) - they're all going on my Paperbackswap wish list!

With summer right around the corner, I'm looking forward to taking more of our favorite activities outside.

May 7, 2010

Mother's day roundup!

Here's a roundup with some of my favorite DIY mother's day gift ideas!

Gifts for the Gardener...

  


1. Plantable Seeded Paper Flowers by How Does She? are fun, functional and fabulous all in one! Givers Log has a seed tape version with packaging almost too pretty to open!
2. I hear Goodwill calling me to gather the items to make these pretty Garden Towers, via diyideas.com
3. DIY garden stepping stones by Z Recommends are a fun-for-the-entire-family project. Today's Mama has a mosaic style version, with a video tutorial and lovely Australian accent to guide you along.
4. Every gardener's hands could use a little pampering at the end of the day. Petit Elefant has a hands down best recipe for homemade sugar scrub, and best of all, you probably have all the ingredients you'll need on hand! House on Hill road shares another simple, sweet sugar scrub recipe.



Artful Gifts...
   
2. Turn a child's first drawings into embroidered bookmarks, by Soulemama.
3. Have fun painting cookies to make edible works of art, by Bake It Pretty.
4. Turn abundant children's art into candle holders via Cut Out and Keep.


Crafty, Custom Jewelry...
   

1. Create a precious
keepsake fingerprint pendant, by The Crafty Crow.

2. Make mini-me's of everyone near and dear to mom's heart, with this cool silhouette bracelet tutorial by The Crafty Chica.
3. I LOVE these dainty little fabric-swatch charms by Two Straight Lines! Use swatches of your child's clothing, or raid mom's or grandma's closet for some yesteryear flair. Or go a totally different route using your child's artwork or other pretty papers.
4. This sweet little bird necklace was made using shrinky dinks, by blogography. (The vintage bird graphic is a FREE download, courtesy of the Graphics Fairy!)


Handmade cards, for that extra special touch to any gift...

  

1. Make recycled magazine envelopes from the glossy pages of your favorite home and garden magazines, by Amazing Mae. 

2. How about magazine bows too, from How About Orange?
3. Learn to sew cards and envelopes, with lovely Linaloo. 
4. More sewing on paper with Lil Blue Boo - once you start, you just can't stop, but go ahead, make a stash - they'll never go out of style!
5. These scrappy notecards are as addictive as they are attractive, via made.