Fall front porch

My DIY wreath, which had such potential to change with the seasons and be a happy, holiday-appropriate fixture of our front door, is finally living up to its potential! Last year I attempted to update it for fall and then for Christmas, but both were fairly sad attempts. I am pleased with this round though.

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Our entire front porch got a tiny bit festive for fall.

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See the neighborhood watchman?

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I just tucked some fake leaves behind fall-colored felt flowers that are attached with bobbi pins.

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Our previous doormat lasted five years — and by lasted I mean it lay there for five years. It probably should have been replaced much sooner, but this find was worth the wait. It ties our blue door trim in with the fall colors.

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Corban helped us pick our family of pumpkins from Cozy Nook Farm’s pumpkin patch. They aren’t quite to scale.

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We learned the hard way that mums apparently require sunlight. Or at least that’s why I’m guessing ours died and our neighbors’ across the street are thriving.

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Happy fall! Although now it’s pretty much time to change over to Christmas decor. I’ll share that as soon as I get it up!

My mini mouse (an easy DIY costume)

My mom made almost all of the Halloween costumes I can remember from my childhood. Bride, witch, Barbie doll, Grinch (my brother)… she found patterns to sew, and when there was no pattern she made up her own. I didn’t realize at the time just how much work it was, but I loved every Halloween costume and went all out with it every year through high school, and even college (though by then I was putting together my own costumes).

I would love to do the same for my kids, but this year I found myself browsing Pinterest with less than one week until trick-or-treating, still undecided about Corban’s and Mara’s costumes. At that point, it had to be something simple if it was going to be homemade.

Then I found a pair of mouse ears from my sophomore year of college, when two friends and I dressed up as the three blind mice.

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(I forgot how un-mouse-like that costume actually was…)

Bingo! It would be easy to make him a simple mouse costume, and Mara could even be a cat.

It only took one (long) naptime to make this costume, and I didn’t have to buy anything at all!

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Here’s what I used:

Gray sweatshirt or jacket (light gray is best, but I used what we had)
Gray sweatpants
Two 8 1/2 x 11-inch sheets light pink felt
One 8 1/2 x 11-inch sheet gray felt
Needle and thread
EyelinerMouse ears

I cut one sheet of the pink felt to make the pink belly, and sewed it onto Corban’s gray fleece jacket using only a handful of single stitches spaced a few inches apart. I wanted to be able to easily remove it after Halloween without any damage to the jacket.

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I just pulled it over his head to put it on him come trick-or-treat time.

I decided to make mouse paw mittens, which aren’t really essential to the costume, but ended up being my favorite part. If you have gray mittens, you can just sew the pink paws onto them instead of making the mittens themselves, but for some reason I find that hand stitching a pair of mittens is less stressful than going out shopping to find a pair.

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I used Corban’s mittens as a pattern and cut a mitten shape about 1/4-inch larger than them. Then for each mitten I hand sewed two pieces of mitten-shaped felt together. If you have a sewing machine this will only take a minute, but it took me a couple episodes of “The Mindy Project.”

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I turned the stitched mittens inside out and prayed that they would fit Corban (he was still sleeping). Then I cut a few rough circles of pink felt and stitched them onto the palms of the mittens.

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Lastly, the tail. For this, I just hot-glued some pink felt into a roll, including in the middle of the roll a thin piece of wire we had lying around. I ended up making the tail way too long (this is what happens when your child is not in your range of vision — you forget how short he is!) so I pinned it pretty high up inside the back of his jacket once he was wearing it.

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For the nose and whiskers, first I tested out some homemade, all natural face paint by mixing a little bit of baby lotion with cocoa powder (for brown) and frozen raspberries (for pink). I did not want to put face paint on my babies for fear of exposing their gentle skin to potentially dangerous chemicals.

The homemade face paint was a giant fail! If there were a natural way to make black face paint, that would be one thing, but the brown just looked like chocolate (or you-know-what) on my face when I tested it. The pink actually turned out OK, but I don’t think it would have lasted very long on Corban’s or Mara’s noses.

So I went the eyeliner route instead. I’m sure there are chemicals I don’t want to know about in eyeliner, but I just told myself since it’s made to be applied near one of our most sensitive areas (the eyes) it can’t be that bad on baby cheeks and noses.

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My little kitten wore cat ears we already had, a black onesie, black tights and a small boa tail.

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Trick-or-treating was on Sunday in our city (I know, the Milwaukee area is weird and every city has its own trick-or-treat day and time, which is often not on Halloween). We went with friends who have two toddler girls and it was such a blast watching the little ones scramble up to each door on our street and reach their mittened little hands into bowl after bowl full of candy.

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Corban also helped me carve our big pumpkin that afternoon.

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It all reminds me once again what a fun age he is at.

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Your turn: What are your little ones being for Halloween? Or what were you as a toddler? Toddler Halloween is the cutest!

Valentine’s Day DIY goodies

My mom was a Pinterest mom long before Pinterest (or even the Internet) was around. She always made Valentine’s Day extra special with a craft or handmade gift. In first grade I had the COOLEST valentine card box for school (remember making those?) My mom helped me make a candy heart house with a slot for valentines (think gingerbread house but with conversation hearts). That thing would totally be all over Pinterest these days.

Last February I was on maternity leave and in total nesting mode, so I made several DIY goodies. They’re no conversation heart gingerbread house, but still kind of fun and festive.

3-D “I love you” Valentine – tutorial here.

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Valentine’s Day wreath (which easily converts for any season) – tutorial here.

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[My wreath remained in Valentine’s mode until about October. Then it had a brief stint in fall mode, and it’s currently still in Christmas colors. Oops. Time to make it pretty in pink again!]

2-ingredient strawberry fudge. I made it last year but never wrote about it. It’s just a bag of white chocolate chips melted with a container of strawberry frosting stirred in (I made a batch with cherry frosting too and liked it even better). I topped mine with mini M&Ms. It’s sickeningly sweet, but strangely addictive. Recipe is from this blog post.

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I’ll keep you posted if I get ambitious and do anything cutesy for Valentine’s Day this year. Right now, though, I’m in Groundhog Day mode. Yup. We are having a little gathering Saturday to celebrate Peter’s favorite movie and the holiday behind it. Groundhog cookies, here I come.

How to DIY a first birthday shirt (no sewing machine required)

Ah, the first birthday shirt. Yes, this is a thing.

I found some extremely cute “one.” shirts on etsy… for $32. I mean, I know the photos will last a lifetime, but I wasn’t going to spend that much on a one-time-use shirt for C.

So, instead, I bought a shirt from Walmart for $3.50, cut letters out of old T-shirts of mine (that I recently cleared out of my closet and stuffed in bags for random future projects) and spent 3 episodes of “Parenthood” and 2 episodes of “New Girl” creating this:

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No sewing machine required! Here’s how it’s done.

STEP 1: Start with a solid-colored baby T-shirt. The sleeves are a little short on this one, but it was $3.33… so, yeah.

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STEP 2: Find some old T-shirts (or shorts) in colors and textures you like. I went with colors that matched his party theme.

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STEP 3: Carefully draw and cut out the letters. Use sharp scissors. Print out the letters in a font you like and trace them onto the fabric if you need to. I freehanded it and used lots of little snips with my favorite dollar store scissors (seriously, very sharp) to smooth everything out.

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STEP 4: Pin the letters in place and carefully hand stitch around the letters’ outlines. Adjust placement as necessary, and check often to make sure your letters stay lined up. The stitches don’t have to be super tight.

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That’s it! Very straightforward. Just be sure to have some good shows on the DVR to keep you entertained.

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Corban tolerated loved it!

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Party planning tips [and a paper airplane-themed first birthday party]

The end of the year was crazy, and I have a feeling Decembers will get even crazier in the years to come. It started with birthday party prep, then Christmas prep, then Christmas travel. January has been much more relaxed so far, yet somehow Corban is already 13 months old and I’m just now sitting down to share his first birthday party.

I’m no party hosting expert, but I do enjoy planning a good little fiesta. Here is an assortment of things I learned while planning Corban’s first birthday party.

 

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1) Choose a theme – or at least a color scheme – and let that guide the rest of your planning. When it comes to parties (and, well, anything creative) I get easily swept up in brainstorming. This is good, up until a certain point, when it becomes overwhelming. There are SO many cute ideas out there (if Pinterest had existed when I was planning our wedding, I think my brain would have exploded into a million vintage farmhouse-inspired pieces) so it helps to have some focus. A cute invitation design inspired my original theme idea and color scheme – airplanes; sky blue and red. Then after Pinteresting it up, I found this stamp and decided paper airplanes are even cuter and easier to pull off.

The paper airplane theme gave me good direction for decorations (hello? Paper airplanes everywhere!), activities (decorating paper airplanes), snacks (peanuts and pretzels) and little details (signs like “in-flight beverages” by the drinks, which of course included ginger ale).

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Simply using colors as a theme works well too. Light blue tablecloths, red plates and silverware, light blue decorations — it pulls the room together without much effort.

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2) E-invitations can be just as cute as paper invites. I love (LOVE) paper and also am a big fan of sending (and receiving) mail. But I wanted to keep this party fairly low key, so a mailed invitation seemed inappropriate. There are quite a few sites out there for sending e-invitations, and some of them have really nice invite designs. I fell in love with Paperless Post, which may be the next best thing to mailing custom invitations. Their designs are exquisite, with details right down to envelope liners. It’s not free, but it costs far less than mailing invitations, and for this party it perfectly accomplished my goal of sending a formal invitation in a casual way.

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3) Grocery store cakes can be just as cute as bakery cakes. Although I love to bake and decorate cakes, this party called for something a bit larger. I checked out a few local bakeries and was not too excited about the prices. While doing some shopping at a Pick N Save near our house I decided to inquire about their cakes, and ended up having a great conversation with the store’s cake decorator. She was young and seemed to really understand what I was looking for. I tasted their frosting (their buttercream doesn’t use real butter so I opted for the whipped cream frosting, which is pretty good) and went over all the details of the design I was envisioning. It helped to pull up some photos on my phone of cakes I had pinned. The result was an awesome cake for $33.99 (half sheet with a layer of chocolate buttercream filling).

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I made Corban his own layer cake (using Pyrex storage containers as baking pans) using this recipe.

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Bottom line, find the right grocery store cake decorator and you can have a fancy looking cake without the fancy pricetag.

4) Have an activity for kids, but don’t expect them to do it. We only had a handful of kids at Corban’s party, but I wanted to have a little something to keep them entertained so their parents wouldn’t have to worry about them. Folding paper airplanes seemed like an easy, appropriate craft (supplies needed: paper. (Actually, I found an old book with 20 different paper airplane tutorials that I had as a kid, so I put that out too)). I picked up some stickers from the dollar store so they could decorate them even if they weren’t interested in flying them.

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But the activity I was excited about was a paper airplane test course. I hung a hoop (embroidery hoop, actually) from the ceiling with the idea that kids (or adults) could test their paper airplane creations and try to fly them through the hoop.

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As it turns out, having a hoop hanging from the ceiling and a bunch of balloons on the floor is confusing. It turned into more of a basketball hoop. A paper airplane or two was made and decorated, but I didn’t see any flying. Actually, Corban’s birthday gift from us, a mini indoor jungle gym, was the exciting thing to play with that afternoon. That and balloons. And that was totally fine. It’s good to have a little something planned for the kids even if it’s not a kid-centric party, but don’t spend lots of time or money on it because they’re usually just as happy playing with whatever.

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5) Play with Pandora. Every party needs some music in the background. Pandora iPhone app + borrowed iPod speakers was my super simple plan for that. I spent a couple days tweaking a Pandora station specifically for the party while listening to it at work. The mix of pop, country, contemporary Christian and Christmas music worked out just fine and took no extra time to plan.

6) If you request no gifts, some people will still bring gifts, and that’s OK. We asked guests not to bring gifts because this party wasn’t really about Corban. It was about us getting together with friends, family and those who have loved Corban and supported us during our first year as parents. Our family, of course, still brought gifts, and a handful of other guests too. Some people just like to give gifts. I have trouble remembering this, but the appropriate response is “Thank you!” — not, “You shouldn’t have!” or “You weren’t supposed to!” We waited until after the party to help Corban open his presents. Opening them during the party would have just been awkward for those who honored our wishes.

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7) Hang decorations from the ceiling. Even if you’re decorations aren’t paper airplanes, hanging decorations go far in making your house look festive. I also like these pinwheels and your (now) standard tissue balls (the smaller ones look the best).

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8) The Dollar Store is a party mecca. My local Dollar Tree is my go-to place for goodie bag items (I didn’t do that for this party though), colored paper plates/utensils/tablecloths and other miscellaneous supplies. They have tons of glassware and foil balloons, too. One word of advice though: take into account quantity when shopping there. For example, their plastic silverware isn’t always cheaper per utensil (and while we’re on the subject, it’s not very high quality either – works fine for cake, though). I think that’s how they make money — some things are overpriced and others are underpriced. It takes a little experience to find the best deals.

9) Everyone loves a good photo montage. The most time-consuming part of planning this party was creating the photo album of Corban’s first year that I wanted to have displayed at the shindig. It was worth it, though, to have the completed book out for guests to peruse. I used Shutterfly because I already had a lot of photos uploaded there, but there are tons of sites that can help you create a digital scrapbook. This is also the time to put together the month-by-month photo montage you’ve been plotting all year. I took a giant frame I had bought years ago and never filled, chose a photo for each month of Corban’s first year, used Picasa to add text to the image and had prints made of the photos. Also a great opportunity to check out the familial resemblance between you and your kid by displaying some old photos of yourself.

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Peter as a toddler!

Peter as a toddler!

10) If you’re design-minded, there are free programs that can help you create logos and custom printed items for your party. I used Inkscape, which is pretty easy to pick up on if you’re familiar with Adobe Illustrator. It let me easily design things like this banner and the food tags.

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11) You can DIY a custom shirt for the birthday boy or girl for about $3.50. Expensive etsy shirts be darned! Tutorial coming tomorrow.

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12) A mini candy bar is a visually appealing way to add some extra sweets to your table without much work. I picked up some cool glassware at Goodwill, bought a few different candies in our color scheme (worked out well that Christmas M&Ms were out) and voila. I want to do this for every party from now on!

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It was kind of crunched in the windowsill.

Phew. So that was Corban’s first birthday party. I had a blast planning it, and was so happy we could share the day with friends and family who love Corban (almost) as much as we do.

Any fun birthday party themes (kid or adult) that you’ve attended or planned? Do share!

Coming soon: 13-month update, already late!

How to make yarn balloon pendants

In tomorrow’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, in honor of Mother’s Day, I have a short story on how Corban’s nursery came together. Look, it’s posted online right now if you want to read it!

So, there it is. The nursery:

I’ll write more about it in a few upcoming posts, but right now I want to share how to make the yarn balloon pendants hanging over the crib. If you remember from my inspiration board, I loved the idea of hanging paper lanterns over the crib. Then I saw balloon-shaped yarn party decorations on Pinterest, and realized they would fit perfectly with the print of an elephant being whisked away by balloons that I had already hung.

They seemed easy enough to make, so I decided to go for it. Here’s what I did:

STEP 1: Stir together an approximately 50/50 mixture of glue and water. Regular old Elmer’s works fine. You can also get by with a little more water than glue. No real need to measure it.

STEP 2: Cut about 30 to 40 3- to 5-foot pieces of yarn.

STEP 3: Blow up a balloon to your desired size and suspend it somewhere where you can get a little messy. I found that the easiest way to suspend the balloon was to pierce through the tip with a wire hanger and hang it on a rack in the laundry room.

Looking back, it might have been easier to use a safety pin instead of a wire hanger. You will also want to put some newspaper or a dropcloth underneath to catch drips.

STEP 4: Dip a piece of yarn entirely into the glue mixture. Wring it between your fingers to remove excess glue as you lift it out. Hold one end of the string at the the tip of the balloon and carefully wrap the yarn around the balloon in a random pattern. Tuck the other end of the yarn under or around itself to keep it on the balloon.

Repeat with remainder of yarn pieces until you have reached your desired coverage of your balloon (like the one below on the left).

STEP 5: Let the yarn dry for at least 24 hours. I think I gave mine a good two days, or until it was completely dry on the bottom.

STEP 6: Carefully – carefully – poke your fingers between the holes of the yarn and push the balloon away from it. You’ll hear a crunching noise as the yarn becomes unglued from the balloon. Do this all over, in every nook and cranny, until you don’t hear much of the crunching noise anymore. You don’t want the yarn to stick to the balloon in this next step (I learned this the hard way when my first yarn sculpture completely collapsed in step 7. So sad!)

STEP 7: Use a thumbtack or pin to pop the balloon. Carefully extract the balloon pieces from the center of the yarn ball and remove it from the hanger.

STEP 8: Tie a piece of yarn tightly around the top of the balloon and hang it up!

I didn’t want to put holes in the ceiling so I used some 3M Command hooks to hang mine. The pendants haven’t come crashing down yet so I consider it a success (they’re super light so even if they did, they wouldn’t hurt Baby C!)

Unfortunately, my dark blue balloon suffered some damage from curious cat explorations when they were first hung. The cats have since lost interest, and I’ve lost motivation to re-do it, but there’s always the possibility that someday I’ll replace it. I’m also considering adding another couple to fill out the area a bit.

This project wasn’t too challenging, but it was a bit mundane wrapping string after string around the balloons. In the end, it was worth it since it works so perfectly in our nursery, but as you can tell I’m not overly enthusiastic about repeating the process anytime soon.

Stay tuned for some more nursery tidbits and DIY projects in the coming week.

From house to home, and a Valentine’s Day wreath

Of all the things that have changed since we brought Corban home from the hospital, perhaps the most unexpected is my relationship with our house.

In the almost three and a half years that we’ve lived here, I don’t think I ever truly took pleasure in our home until I started spending a lot more time in it while on maternity leave.

For 3+ years, I woke up every weekday morning, scrambled to get out the door to work, rushed to the gym or another activity after work, perhaps making a brief stop at home to cobble together some sort of dinner, and then came home to crash in bed and repeat it again the next day. On the weekends, I spent most of my time at home undertaking cleaning or yardwork tasks — clearing piles of clutter, dishes, laundry, papers, etc. that had accumulated during the week.

That’s an exaggeration, but the truth of it is that my time at home was more often than not a pit stop between time spent elsewhere, which made our house a dumping ground, and therefore a battleground on which I constantly struggled to undo the mess that inevitably creeps up when your home is more a storage facility than a sanctuary.

In theory, I cared about making our home the place I wanted it to be — painting various rooms, decorating for different holidays, updating a few things — but in reality, it didn’t bother me on a daily basis that it wasn’t. I didn’t spend enough time there to care if there were pictures on the walls, curtains on the windows or even a Christmas tree.

When my pregnancy-induced nesting instinct kicked in, I finally checked a few things off my to-do list of home improvements. You may have read about some of them. But I still was rushing around — more than ever, actually — and home was the place where I slept more than anything else.

But now that I’m not working, everything seems different.

My job is to feed a hungry little boy who at times ties me to the couch for seemingly hours on end (this is getting better, finally), and I’m finding that I finally have time to get joy out of our physical home. I spend time just being here, and I look around and remember why we bought this house. I delight in the lovely open floor plan with lots of light. I look at the pictures I finally placed in the frames hanging in our family room, and I think, “how nice!” I start to get crazy thoughts about decorating for Valentine’s Day. I have a whole new perspective now that I spend most of my time here.

Sure, I still struggle with laundry piles and dirty dishes and the like (and I admit I have an ongoing battle with clearing the clutter), but those war zones aren’t my focus all the time now. I must say, it feels really nice to get pleasure out of our home instead of battle it.

***

On that note, I did actually do a tiny bit of Valentine’s Day decorating. I was shocked that I even had the urge, but I guess this nesting thing is no joke, and it continues well after the baby is born.

Inspired once again by Pinterest and saddened that our door was bare after finally taking down our Christmas wreath, I decided our front door could use a wreath for all seasons. I had a hankering to make one of those yarn wreaths that seem to be all the rage on the Internet these days, but create it in a way that I could update it for various holidays by switching out different colored felt flowers.

It’s a good thing I started this project mid-January, because wrapping yarn around an entire wreath is a time-consuming endeavor, and large chunks of free time are just not a part of my life right now. With spare minutes spent here and there wrapping, wrapping, wrapping white yarn around a wood wreath (still in the packaging — important to note!), I finished up last night. You could probably finish it while watching one or two episodes of “The Bachelor” if you don’t watch “The Bachelor” while nursing your infant.

My plain, white yarn wreath is a blank canvas for festive flowers. And festive felt flowers, as it turns out, are way easy to make!

I used this tutorial to make the roses, this one for the layered, bright pink flowers (except I cut circles instead of flower shapes) and this one for the fringy ones like the big red one. The bright pink ones were the most time consuming, but the roses and the fringy flowers (not sure how else to describe them) were a cinch. All you need is felt (24 cents a sheet a Michaels), scissors and a hot glue gun.

To make the flowers detachable, I used old bobbie pins (from my wedding day hairstyle, which had over 100 pins in it! I knew I was saving them for something) like this:

I bent the pins in two places for the small flowers and one for the larger flowers. The goal was to have a U-shape to hot glue onto the back of the flowers, with a tighter U-shape or simply the straight pin hovering slightly from the base. Pictures describe it better than words:

Then you can arrange the flowers on the wreath without gluing them permanently on. Just poke the bobbie pins through the yarn.

I hung it on our front door using ribbon…

…and tying the ribbon to a hook that was already on the back side of the door to hang holiday wreaths. A bow gives the inside of the door a little decoration and hides the hook.

I’m excited to make more felt flowers and transform the wreath for various seasons throughout the year. At least for a few days we’ll have some Valentine’s Day festivity though.

I ended up making a few too many roses, so the candles on our mantle got some dressing up for the season too.

Working folks, I’m curious to know, how much pleasure do you get out of your home? Are you like I was before maternity leave forced me to slow down? If so, how can you change that? That’s one thing I’ll be thinking about when I go back to work!

A fun valentine

I am a card-maker. I have been since elementary school. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve bought a greeting card since then (thank you cards are my exception since I go through so many of them).

A while back I saw this cutout for a valentine on Pinterest and fell in love, so last month in a burst of late-night energy after C fell asleep, I actually made it. (A+ for getting it done well before Valentine’s Day!)

The first step was to print out this guide (yeah, that page is in Chinese, or something). Then I put a piece of white paper over it and held it against my computer screen to lightly trace the design in pencil.

Easy part over. Now let me warn you, it is way harder than it looks to cut it out nicely! I ended up slicing a lot of it with the blade of a sharp pair of scissors rather than actually cutting.

Before you make any rash folds, like I did, study the picture and note that there are several spots where the paper will be folded. Again, not as easy as it looks!

After I glued it down to a piece of red construction paper, I just did a simple stamp design on the front.

The whole thing is not perfect, and I could probably do better now that I know how to get it right, but there’s no way I’m re-doing it now.

Still, I’m pretty excited to give it to my dear Valentine (whom I am assuming is not reading this). We don’t usually do much for Valentine’s Day, but I try to at least make him a card each year and write him a note.

Are you a card-maker or -buyer? I know some people love browsing the greeting card aisle, but I always get so overwhelmed! Making cards saves me that stress of picking out the perfect card.

The birth announcements

I’m a big snail mail person. I just love paper, letters, stamps and the printed word.

So even in this age when a baby’s birth is announced to the world via Facebook just hours – or even minutes – after he takes his first breath, I still wanted to mail out formal birth announcements.

Unlike choosing our wedding invitations, which took me hours of poring over every invitation in the gigantic bound books only to decide to design them myself, I instantly fell in love with this birth announcement from Tiny Prints before Corban was even born.

(I just noticed their sample’s birthday is today!)

But, I thought, why pay their prices when I could probably design something similar and have it printed myself?

And so I did. I Photoshopped up my own version, ordered pretty envelopes and did a test print at Kinkos on cardstock I had found at Walmart.

There were only a few problems: their printing of the photo didn’t look that great, the cardstock wasn’t very sturdy, I would have had to cut each announcement out myself and it actually wasn’t going to save me very much money at all.

Fail.

(Tiny Prints version on the left, my version on the right)

So after all that, when Corban was a month old, I just decided to order the announcement from Tiny Prints. I found a coupon code that brought the price down, and I swooned for their awesome striped back on which you can add a second photo.

Of course, not one to keep things simple, I also had to go and buy some kraft paper labels to print the addresses on and therefore spend way too much time fighting with our printer to get them to print right… but I won’t bore you with the details of that.

So despite my early choosing of our birth announcement, they still didn’t get mailed out till Corban was six weeks old. Luckily, it was right before postage went up by one cent (the little things, right?) and I think people understand that things like formal announcements aren’t exactly the number one priority when you’re adjusting to life with a newborn.

In the end, I don’t care that it took me way longer than it should have to get these mailed. I love the way the whole package turned out. I would definitely recommend Tiny Prints for their really high quality printing and adorable designs. I was glad I had already ordered colored envelopes before I decided not to DIY the announcements, though, because these envelopes are much nicer than the ones that come with the cards. This picture shows a bit more accurate coloring:

Would you/did you send formal birth announcements or do you think Facebook pictures do the job just fine these days? I think despite Facebook, people really appreciate being mailed a picture like this!

Baby’s first Christmas ornament

Quite a while ago, I came across an easy-looking DIY baby’s first Christmas ornament on Pinterest.

[Side note: I’ve been a Pinterest junkie recently thanks to the Pinterest iPhone app and the necessity to stay awake while breastfeeding at night, so follow me and pin away, dear friends, so I have lots of new pins to stare at at 2 a.m.]

Anyway, the first Christmas ornament… I repinned it and filed it in the back of my brain as something that would be fun to do next Christmas, since our baby wasn’t likely to arrive until after Christmas this year.

Well, Corban had other plans, and luckily he made his debut early enough that I actually had time to make this little ornament with him and hang it on our tree.

[I also later added a tiny 2011 in white puffy paint along the side of the handprint.]

I made two more for both sets of grandparents and plan to keep the tradition up for our future babies too.

I also should note that I ended up making a total of five ornaments to get three decent handprints. Newborns do not like to spread their fingers and gently place them on a glass ball. They’re much more comfortable clawing at it. Thankfully the ornaments came in a pack of eight!

Here’s what you need to make your own:

  • Embossing ink (looks like a regular stamp pad – I bought mine at Michael’s)
  • Embossing powder
  • Glass ball ornament
  • Q-tips
  • A heat source like an embossing gun if you have one, or a toaster if you don’t (hair dryer is not hot enough)
  • Ribbon

Just ink your baby’s hand up (it helps to have two people – one holding the baby and keeping the inky hand away from his mouth and another working on the ornament) and attempt to get a clean print on the ornament. Could take a few tries if your babe is only a week or two old! Hold the ornament over a large sheet of paper or opened file folder and sprinkle the embossing powder over the handprint (you can save the excess powder that falls off – hence the sheet of paper or file folder to make it easier to pour back into the jar).

Clean up the handprint using Q-tips. Mine needed lots of clean up to make them look like normal hands. Then, if using a toaster as your heat source, turn it on its highest setting and hold the ornament about 1 inch over the top of the toaster, rotating to evenly emboss the entire print. Heat it just until the powder becomes raised and shiny – it only takes a minute or two total. Once it’s cooled, tie a pretty ribbon to the top of the ornament so it can hang on the tree. Add the year or the child’s name using fabric paint if you wish.

Sorry I didn’t write about this before Christmas, but I wanted to keep the gift a surprise for our parents. And, okay, I didn’t quite find the time to blog before the holiday. File it away for next year, though!