Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Grandmas and Quilts Just Go Together

I love, love, love my grandma!  She lives in West Virginia and I'm in California.  She's super feisty and is always doing something!  She is always on the go, keeping busy, doing things an 89 year old shouldn't.  She even travels to CA a couple of times a year to visit with our family. She just had her 89th birthday and unfortunately she wasn't feeling very well.  She has a very bad back and will need to rest a bit.  I wanted to send her something special as an early Christmas gift that she would be able to use while she recovered.  

My own mom has been crazy busy making beautiful quilts for all six grandkids.  She always makes each kiddo something special for Christmas.  This year she went a little nuts and bit off quite a bit.  However, as of 2 days ago, she is finished with all of them!  Not only did she make each of the grandkids a special quilt, each quilt is made specifically with each childs' interest in mind.  So for my three kids she made an owl themed quilt for my daughter, a puppy themed quilt for my oldest son and an elephant themed quilt for my little one...all of these things are their FAVORITES!  I've been hearing about these quilts for months.  She's been telling me all of the details and texting me photos of everything.  I decided that it would be fun for me to attempt to make one of them for my grandma too!  I didn't want to bother my mom since she already had her hands full (even though I know she wouldn't consider it a bother) so I decided to try to make one on my own.  And guess what!  I totally did it and it's super cute!!!  I used this pattern ~ McCalls Crafts 3901.  

I am just an OK sewer.  But I have been branching out and I've surprised myself at what I am actually able to do.  I stick to basics but this quilt actually is very basic.  It's a ton of cutting, sewing straight lines and clipping a bunch of seams.  

Friday, November 30, 2012

DIY Homework Station

A few months ago I realized that I would not only have a first grader doing homework but I would also have a Kindergartener who needed a homework space too.  I wanted to create an area for my kids to do their homework without the distraction of the t.v. or toys.  I also really wanted to stop using our kitchen table as a desk!  I searched Pinterest to see what fabulous ideas other families had done.  Most of them were out of my budget and above my skill level but I knew I could come up with something...and I wanted it to be easy and cheap.  

Our house has a niche at the top of the stairs that I believe is supposed to have a built in desk.  Since I couldn't afford a real built in, I decided to make a faux built in instead.  

And here it is...

The double door cabinet is a computer desk we purchased from Cost Plus World Market about 8 years ago.  I found two $20 bookshelves at Target.  I placed the computer desk at the far right and the small bookshelves all the way to the left against the other wall of the niche.  My husband went to the lumber store and bought a big piece of MDF.  (Unfortunately he tore his bicep picking up this huge piece of wood....but that's a whole different story.  And one I'll never get to live down.)  After his trip to urgent care, my awesome (and injured) husband made two cuts on the MDF.  He cut the depth so that the top would slightly hang over the computer desk.  And he cut the length the exact length of the niche.  Then he just placed the MDF right on top of the computer desk and bookshelves.  It's wedged in between the walls really tightly too.

Here is a close up of the two bookshelves I picked up at Target (terrible photo, I know).  They were in the closet organizing section.

This is a shot showing the left side so you can see the niche.
Next, I took the kids to Michaels and let them pick out scrapbook paper that they liked.  They chose this greenish, blue paper because it has maps and birds on it.  I tore the paper into a bunch of strips and pieces and Mod Podged the pieces right on top of the MDF.  It's not exactly what I would have chosen but the kids like it and I wanted it to be a place they wanted to spend a lot of time.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Holiday Pinterest Party!

 I'm sure you know by now that I am kind of in love with Pinterest!  I'm convinced it's one of the best things ever created!  Not only do I pin a ton of things....get this....I ACTUALLY do them!  Sure I pin things for my imaginary home that I will never be able to afford, awesome recipes I'm not qualified to make and my new exercise plan that will have me back to my pre-baby weight in just two weeks,  but I also pin things that I have every intention of doing.  And I do! 

I began pinning a bunch of adorable Christmas crafts and decided it would be fun to have some of my  Pinterest obsessed girlfriends come over and make them together.  I wanted to get us all in the holiday spirit so I got my mom on board and we planned a holiday Pinterest Party!

And here it is...

We asked each guest to bring an appetizer or dessert they saw on Pinterest.  I made cupcakes (using a baking technique I found on Pinterest) and I also made Potato Cheese Soup in the crock pot.  And yes, the recipe was from Pinterest.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Too Stuffy For Me...Part 2!

My photo wall in my former living room/dining room...soon to be craft room/game room,  make over is complete and I love it!  

My original idea was to use canvas prints.  However, I quickly learned that I'd either have to win the lottery to afford that or I'd have to alter my plan a bit.  I chose to switch things up since there is no hope of me winning something I don't play.

Here's what I came up with!

It wasn't a difficult process but there is no way I could have done it without my husband's and dad's help (a huge thank you and 'I love you' to both of them).  I started off choosing photos I wanted to use.  I chose all photos that I'd taken rather than using professional pictures.  I want this entire space to feel casual and comfortable so I thought snapshots and home photos would be a good way to go.  I used old photos I'd taken with my DLSR as well as pictures from my iphone and Instagram.  I added filters to many of these photos so they'd be a little more artsy.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Birthday Filled With Memories

My dad's birthday is in November and he is so hard to shop for!  Seriously, it's near impossible to find the perfect gift for him.  I always feel bad because I end up getting him some kind of gift certificate to a restaurant or the movies.  Sure, he likes the gift certificate and he enjoys using it.  It just never seems special or personal.  This year I decided to check around on Pinterest (my favorite place) to see if I would be able to find something unique.  And boy did I ever!  Thanks to "Nothing But Bonfires" blog, I was able to give my dad a gift that I think he truly loved and was excited about.  

Check out the post I used for my inspiration...

And here it is!  My dad's gift!  It doesn't look like much, but it really is special.  This stack of envelopes contains letters and birthday wishes from every person my dad knows and has known over the years.  It has letters from acquaintances he only slightly knows to friends he's had for over 50 years...some of which he's lost contact with.  I sent a simple email (most of which was borrowed directly from Nothing But Bonfires) that stated my dad was having a birthday and I wanted everyone to write him a birthday wish or a special memory they have of him.   Here is the letter I emailed and posted to friends on Facebook.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Art & Owls Party...Part 2

So the first Art & Owls post showed the set up.  Now here are some action shots from the party!

When the guests arrived they headed to the backyard where they colored a mural.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Art & Owls Party...Part 1

My daughter's Art & Owls birthday party was a success!  She loved it, the guests loved it and I didn't go broke throwing it!  Yay!  

This post is going to focus on the set up of the party.  The next post will show actual party photos of the kids and the activities.  

Here is my little sweetie next to her cake.  Since she keeps getting taller but no bigger around this owl jumper I made her for preschool (2 years ago) still fits!  It was perfect for the party!

Here is the main party table.  I recycled most of the decor from previous parties.  I did buy plates, napkins, etc, but all of the hanging decorations are pieces I bought or made in years past.  Luckily for me, the girl loves pink so I have a ton of reusable decor.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Owl Stuffy Success!

Well, my daughter's owl stuffy was a huge success!  

She opened it up, took one look...

and proceeded to fall in love. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Owl Cake!

We just had my daughter's Owl & Art party so it's time to start posting some pictures!  Here is how the cake turned out!

This cake is made with 4 eight inch round cakes stacked together with chocolate buttercream in between.  The layers were yellow and chocolate.  The outside of the cake is frosted in buttercream.

Homemade Halloween

The costumes are done and the kids wore them to school on Friday!  Yay!

We ended up with a "silly monster with lots of eyeballs", a Care Bear and an Angry Bird.  

Friday, September 28, 2012

Too Stuffy for Me! Part 1

This is the first house we have ever owned that has formal living and dining rooms.  To me they are completely unnecessary and a total waste of space.  We are not formal people and have in fact NEVER eaten dinner in our formal dining room...and we've lived in our house for 4 years!  I'm on a mission to reinvent these rooms and turn them into something that will work for our family.  I've gotten started but it will definitely be a work in progress...

Here is what our formal living room used to look like.  I never really knew what to do with the space and I guess I thought it needed to be somewhat fancy.  It's SO not us!  

We ordered the sofa and chair from a furniture store and didn't like them the day they arrived.  We kept them anyway (dumb, I know).  I do like all of the tables because they are casual and rustic.  I ended up painting an accent wall with swirls to jazz it up.  And I hung silk curtains.  It's an OK room, but nothing special and definitely not representative of who we are as a family.  

This is the dining room which is opposite the living room.  I have always loved this dining room table and chairs.  My husband and I bought it on our honeymoon.  I thought we'd keep it forever and pass it on to our children.  But now, I'm over it.  We are a 5 member family and this table only seats 4 people.  Obviously it doesn't work for us either.  

I decided it was time to begin slowly changing the rooms to make them spaces we want to spend time in rather than rooms we just walk by (not to mention dust and vacuum).

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Owl Stuffy

When I was a kid my mom constantly made me gifts. I still have them and have passed them on to my daughter who now plays with them.  For my daughter's birthday I thought it would be fun to attempt a stuffed owl for her.  She's been in love with owls since she was one!  Since her birthday theme is an owl theme this was the perfect opportunity to try to make her something special.  

Here's what I did...

I drew a picture of an owl using the back of some wrapping paper.

I cut out a front and a back.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Owly Party Favors

I've been very busy!  15 little owl party favors completed!

Here's what I did...

I drew a simple picture of an owl and cut it out to use as a pattern.  Then I placed the pattern pieces on my fabrics and cut them out.  I stitched the wings on first (using a zig-zag stitch), then stitched fleece and felt on for the eyes.  I  hand sewed the buttons on the eyes. Next I put them right sides together and stitched around them leaving an opening at the bottom to turn them.  I filled them with stuffing and hand stitched them closed.  They were really easy to do but making this many was a job!

My pattern consisted of...
* 1 front and 1 back body shape (corduroy, velvet, heavy fabrics)
* 2 wings (cotton)
* 2 fleece circles for eyes (white)
* 2 felt circles for eyes (any color)
* 1 triangle nose (cotton)

I used ALL scrap fabrics to make these little cuties.  All of the fabrics are left overs from outfits I made my daughter or stockings and quiet books I've made over the years.  I had a ton of stuffing too.  The only thing I had to purchase was a $3 bag of buttons for the eyes.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Artsy Owl Printables

My daughter's "Art & Owls" party is coming up next month.  As you know by now I try to make as many party elements as possible and I try to be as cheap as possible too.  I attempted to make all of the printables for the party this time.  I know they are nowhere near as good as something you can order online but I wanted to try for myself.  I don't have a fancy program or even know how to use one.  I used my regular word program and created text boxes that I was able to "fill in" with patterns and outlines as well.  I found the free owl clip art by searching around on Google.  Here are some of the things I came up with...Amateur yes....but my daughter likes them a lot, so I'm ok with it.

This is what I came up with for the invites.  My daughter Keely was the one who picked the colors as well as the designs for the backgrounds.  All of the fonts were downloaded for FREE through links I found on Pinterest.  I used these colors, backgrounds, and the owl clip art throughout all of the printables.  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Happy, Little Angry Bird

Halloween is just around the corner so I got a jump start on making my kiddo's costumes.  My little one loves "Angry, Angry Birds" and asked to be the blue bird.  Thanks to pinterest and I was able to get inspiration for this adorable costume.  

Essentially this Angry Bird costume is made of 2 large pillows and 2 small pillows.  The large "pillows" are attached with straps.  I fumbled along through this little project but overall it turned out pretty cute and my little one LOVES it!  I was hoping my other son would be an Angry Bird too because I have all of the kinks worked out now and I know I can do it better...but no luck.  He's going to be a "silly monster".

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Owly Sneaky Peaky

Time to break out the sewing machine again!  

Here's a sneaky peaky at another little owl project for my daughter's birthday.  I'm making each kiddo a little stuffed owl using scrap fabrics!  So far this project hasn't cost me a penny!  Since I'm starting early I don't have an exact idea of how many kids will be coming.  I am making 17 and assuming I'll have a few less kids than that.  I'll post pics when they are complete!  Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Guess WHO is planning a party!

Birthday season is fast approaching!  Yes, I said birthday season!  All three of my kids' birthdays are coming up (not to mention Christmas).  I am officially in party planning mode.  I always start early and I try to make as much as possible at home as well as spend as little money as possible.
My daughter has decided she wants to combine her two favorite things together for her theme....Art and Owls.  She has been obsessed with owls since she was a baby and this will actually be her second birthday party with an owl theme.  She also is quite a little artist.  We are going to fuse the two together to create a party that screams Keely!  

I'm still in the beginning stages but thanks to pinterest, I have already found a ton of cute ideas to incorporate.  These little owl bags are going to hold the party favors.  They were completely made with materials I already had around the house and only took a few minutes to make.  My daughter even helped me, which makes it really fun for both of us.  

Monday, July 30, 2012

My Photo Book Process

My last post showed the photo books I make to remember my kids' childhoods.  Because I make at least 3 books a year I've had to come up with an organization process.  I've been making these books for seven years and have been known to become overwhelmed by them.  Now that I've made so many, I have a process that works for me.  Hopefully you can take some of my elements and come up with a way to organize your photos so that you can make photo books too!

I use a MacBook Pro and this is what my iphoto screen looks like.  I take a ton of photos; more than most people I know.  I keep an "album" (similar to a folder) for every month.  

Friday, July 27, 2012

Photographic Memories

Sometimes it seems like my life is flying by.  I can't believe that I am about to have two of my three children attending grade school.  I'll have a Kindergartener and a First Grader (plus a wild 3 year old)!  From the minute I had my daughter I felt like I wanted to remember every single moment.  I wanted to soak her up and never forget a single second. I felt that way about all of my kids.  I knew I had to find a way to recall as much as possible; a way to remember as much of their childhoods as I possibly could.  

I originally thought I'd use baby books to keep a record of my kiddos' childhoods.  It was overwhelming though.  I had to print photos out and glue them in the baby book, remember to get the baby book out and find the right page when a "milestone" took place, and remember to watch for specific milestones that were already mentioned in the book (otherwise that particular section would remain blank). 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pirate Posters!

Arrr Matey!

In my last post I showed wanted posters that I made for my son's second birthday.  They were so popular with the kids I decided to make a different version of them for my son's pirate party a couple years later.   I used the same technique as in my last post but this time I added a couple extra steps to make them even more "real" looking.

Monday, July 23, 2012


When my son Cash turned 2, he had a cowboy themed birthday party.  I like to find ways for the decorations & favors to be personal for our guests so I decided to make wanted posters for everybody.  They were a hit.  Every kiddo and grown up had wanted posters that were personalized just for them.  It was so fun choosing what their crimes and cowboy names were!  And it made a great party favor too!

I started with tan colored card stock and my word program.  I made a template to start with so I only had to change a few things as I did each poster.  I used a black and white photo of each person on their poster too.  I was able to find a photo of every person saved on my computer but you can also have friends text you photos of their kids if you are missing any. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Giving Back

"There is no such thing as a small act of kindness."  Marjorie Pay Hinckley

I'm such a blessed person.  I love my life.  I have so much to be thankful for.  Sure, I have struggles like everyone else and I do have things in my life that truly make my heart ache.  But I know that no matter how bad things in my little bubble are, there are countless others who carry many more burdens than I ever will.  Others who need to smile.  Others who need help and support...maybe even from someone like me.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Take on a Buttercream Cowgirl Cake

Here's my take on a cowgirl cake made with buttercream.  
I made a 3 layer, 10 inch, bottom cake and frosted it (smooth) in pink buttercream.  Then I piped on black and white paisley designs to look like a bandanna.  I made a separate 3 tier, 6 inch cake and frosted it in white buttercream.  Then I used canned chocolate frosting to make the cow spots.  Before frosting the cakes I added a little homemade simple syrup to each layer to keep it moist.  I also used my candy molds to make pink and white chocolate boots to place around the cake.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bath Towel Solution!

3 kids + 3 bath towels = one big mess! 

Our old system for hanging bath towels was to hang towels on the closet doorknob.  It didn't work for many reasons...

#1.  Three towels didn't fit properly.
#2. The bottom towel never got dry.
#3. My kids didn't like hanging their towels so they wound up on the floor.

I needed a better system so I searched Pinterest (my go to place for all things crafty) and found a few different towel hanging solutions.  I chose the bits and pieces I liked and came up with a simple and inexpensive solution to our towel debacle.

I turned this...

Into this!
Here's what I did...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Spring/Summer Window Decor

First of all, let me apologize for these pictures!  They are pretty bad, I know.  It was a very sunny day so no matter what I did, the window acted as a mirror.  I tried to blur out images of the parking lot but this is the best I could do with what I had to work with.

I did a really simple window painting display at my son's preschool and thought it could be something fun to do at home as well.  If you find yourself feeling crafty and want to jazz up your own windows, just grab some acrylic paints and get started.  This was super easy and didn't take long at all.  I painted on the inside of the window because I wanted it to last through the summer, but you could paint on the outside and just hose it off when you are tired of it.  

I usually draw my design out on butcher paper and tape it to the outside of the window to use as a guide.  I did this with the larger flowers so I knew where to place them but then I freehanded the rest in.
(This is a shot from inside.)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Very Sweet Thank You Treat

I love Pinterest...LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!  
I am so happy when it is gift giving time, I no longer have to agonize over an inexpensive, creative gift to give the people I love and appreciate.  Pinterest has examples of anything you can think of, plus a million things you never even imagined!  Anytime I see something I like, I just pin it to one of my boards and save it for later.  For an OCD brain like's genius!  

It's the end of the school year and I needed a fun thank you gift for my kids teachers.  Since I'm a teacher too I know the kinds of things they love.  And let me tell you, sweet treats and gift cards are always appreciated by every teacher!  I definitely wanted to find a creative way to say thank you to our teachers.  So, I searched Pinterest and I was NOT disappointed.  

Here's what I did... 

I bought a ton of candy bars and gum.  Not just any though...specific candy that was used to write a message to our favorite teachers.

Pinterest had several different messages to choose from.  I chose the sayings I liked, made a couple of my own and put them into the order I wanted.  

Here's the message I used...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cars Cake Tutorial

A lot of people have sent me questions about the construction cake I posted a few months ago.  This weekend I made a similar cake so I figured I'd turn it into a mini tutorial which may help.  

I am not a cake decorator.  I'm just a mom who likes to try to make cool cakes for my kiddos and their friends.  My way may not be the RIGHT way but it's the way that works for me.  Hopefully you can take some of the ideas here and tweak them to work for you. 

You can totally make this cake!  It's pretty simple!

This is the tip I used...the "grass tip".

Monday, April 23, 2012

Now I'm a Florist???

My daughter's school was hosting a Father-Daughter Dance and my girl was beyond exited to go on a real date with her daddy.  We wanted to make it special for her so we thought a corsage was just the thing she needed.  Little did I know, corsages are expensive!  I mean, really expensive...Like $45!
Since buying one was out of the question, I went to my local Albertsons and bought some flowers; 3 bunches for $12.  I chose baby roses, Baby Carnations & Baby's Breath.  All appropriate for my sweet six year old.  And all the right size for her tiny wrist. 

Albertsons was super awesome and gave me the little elastic wrist bands (made of sparkly hot pink sequins) for free!  JoAnn's also sells them for just a few dollars.  The only other things I purchased were a pack of floral wire ($2) and a spool of ribbon ($2). 

Here's what I did...
I found some tulle in my scrap fabric and cut an 8 inch square.  I folded it into fourths and rounded it so that when I opened it back up it was a circle.  I pinched the center and made a stem at the bottom.  Then I put some hot glue on the stem to hold the shape.  After it was dry, I cut off the excess stem and glued the tulle circle to the wrist band to use as my base.  You could easily skip this step if you didn't already have the fabric.

Next I took my ribbon and looped it back and forth until I had 4 to 5 loops on each side.  I used a piece of floral wire to secure the middle.  Then I glued it on top of the tulle (on the wrist band).  

I cut the flowers at the base and began hot gluing them on top of the ribbon and tulle.  I started with 2 of the Carnations since they were biggest.  Then I used the baby roses to cover the Carnation's stems.  I continued to add flowers until it looked full.  The final touch was adding the Baby's Breath.  I stuck small pieces in between the other flowers to fill in any holes.