Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Simple Organizational Tool- Part 2 (The Kid Version)

Well, I kind of cheated on this post because I basically modified this previous post from my mom and made it kid-friendly. I am probably the biggest list-maker in the universe. I make lists all the time. It keeps me sane. But then all of the little odds and ends pieces of paper, sticky notes, napkins, envelopes, that I find around the house with lists on them start to drive me insane again.

So I finally decided to make list like my mom's-- one that I could tailor to my own needs and daily work. One that I could wipe clean and change up as I needed. As I was purchasing an 8x10 picture frame to make my list, I decided to make one for my 3-year old as well. She likes to be involved with the things that I am doing; so I thought she would like to have a list of her own.

Here's what I did:

I bought the 2 cheapest yet decent-looking 8x10 frames that Target had on their shelves.

I then purchased a pack of new, dry-erase markers (that include a pink marker--a must for my little girl).

Then, I typed out a list of what my little girl's day looks like and added some hearts and images that would help her know what the words said. 

As you can see, she had a blast drawing pictures:

Then I found some fun interactive coloring pages on crayola.com that I could put in the frame during her quiet time. That way, she can color pictures and do activities in an "erasable" way. Essentially, the 8x10 frame has become a dry-erase activity center for my 3-year old.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Lace-trimmed Denim Baby Jumper

Several weeks ago I saw a picture of a darling baby jumper that someone had "gussied up" by sewing rows and rows of gathered lace on the skirt. I thought, "This is adorable. I need to remember it."

denim vintage linen and lace flower girl by VintageBabyLace, $65.00
I probably would have promptly forgotten about it except that the very next day I found this denim baby jumper in a resale shop. I snatched it up to see what I could do:

The picture I saw used different colors and styles of lace, but  because I didn't want to spend a lot of money to buy new lace for a 25 cent jumper--especially when I didn't know how it would turn out--I just used some white lace that I already had:

Using a ruler, I measured up from the bottom of the hem and marked a sewing line all the way around the skirt making sure that the ruffled bottom of the lace would hang below the bottom of the skirt:

Starting at one of the side seams, I tucked under the raw edge of the lace and, using a zigzag stitch, sewed it along the line I had marked:

When I got close to the side seam where I had started, I cut the lace, leaving enough extra to tuck under the raw edge as I finished sewing that row. I repeated the process for the next layer, making sure that I measured so that the bottom of the second row of lace covered the top of first row:

I continued up the skirt, adjusting the distance between the rows as I got closer to the top to make sure that there wasn't a strange gap at the end.

If I make another one, I will sew the the rows of lace closer together because I like the fuller look of the darling one I saw originally. I was cautious because I didn't want to run out of lace. I wish I could tell you how much lace you will need, but that will depend on the size of the jumper, the fullness of the skirt, the width of the lace you use, and how close together you choose to sew your rows. You can use less lace and create a different look by alternating your lace with rows of gathered fabric like this one I found on Etsy:

10% Off, Use Code "SUMMER" Ruffled Baby Denim Overall Jumper     Upcycled   6-9 months  Matching Headband

I sewed the last row of lace just under the bib portion of the jumper:

I can't wait to see it on my newest little model!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Strawberry Freezer Jam

The distressing thing about being a mother is the realization that mothers are supposed to know everything. I know this because my mother knew everything when I was growing up, especially all things relating to food. My mother-in-law knows everything, too: how to make the perfect roast, the perfect gravy, the perfect chocolate drop cookies, and the perfect strawberry-peach jam.

In fact, my hubbie and I have had a few conversations about our mothers' jams. I'd talk about how wonderful my mother's strawberry jam was, and he'd add that his mother's strawberry-peach jam was the best jam ever (which implies it is superior to the peach-less jam of my childhood). We'd carry on about the sweet, flavorful, deliciousness of these jams for a while, trying to one-up each other in our profuse praise.

Then a few weeks ago, as I was bragging to my mother about the cartons of strawberries on sale for $1, she immediately asked if I got enough to make jam. Shoot. I blew it. Mothers should know that $1/lb strawberries mean that it's time to make jam, and I totally missed my chance. I was pretty chagrined.

Nonetheless, the very next week, these sweet berries were on sale at a different store for the very same price, and I promptly bought 4 lbs! As I know nothing about jam making, I called up the source of wisdom to ask her to share her secret recipe, and now I'm going to share it with all of you.
Our phone conversation went something like this:

Me: Great news! I found some more cheap strawberries and am going to make some of your fabulous jam!

Mom: Oh good! I'm glad you were able to find another great sale.

Me: Me too. Would you mind sending me your recipe when you have the chance?

Mom: Oh, just look on the back of the pectin box, dear. It will tell you what you need to do.

Me: No, you don't understand. I want to make your special version of strawberry jam.

Mom: Yes, yes. Just follow the directions on the back of the pectin box like I always do. It will be delicious.

Me: (stunned silence.)

Are you serious?!? All this time, all that arguing with my husband, and your recipe is from the box??? I couldn't believe it. Yet now that I've made the jam, I can. And you know what? It is still incredibly good. Amazingly delicious and ridiculously easy. So this is a post to demonstrate that you, too, can make absurdly easy strawberry jam.

Here's what you need:

Something to hold five cups worth of finished product. Plastic containers are great for freezer jam, but I already had these glass jars on hand and wanted to make this jam experience as inexpensive as possible. I sanitized my jars by boiling them (or you can rinse your plastic containers in boiling water).

One box of pectin. Actually, I wished I'd purchased 2 boxes, but this was my first time and I had no idea what I was doing. As promised, the box has instructions for both freezer jams/jellies and cooked jams/jellies. My mom always made strawberry freezer jam. It has a softer set than cooked jam and is prepared in half the time. It is also crazy-good. Win-win-win.

One box of pectin needs 4 cups of strawberries or 2 cups of crushed strawberries. I basically bought twice as many strawberries as I needed (or half as much pectin, really; we're going through this jam super-fast!) 2 lbs of strawberries was ample.

So, remove the stems, thoroughly wash, and crush your strawberries!

My parents-in-law bought me this beautiful Cuisinart food processor which I used for the crushing.

Next, you need 4 cups of sugar. That's right, jam has twice as much sugar as fruit. Let's not dwell on that fact. Stir sugar into fruit and let stand 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Then, stir your pectin and 3/4 cup of water together in a saucepan. Bring to a boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Let boil one minute while you continue to stir. Then, remove from heat.

Add the pectin mixture to the fruit mixture and stir for 3 minutes until the sugar is dissolved and the jam is not grainy. Except a few sugar crystals will remain, which sounds like a few "grains" to me. Whatever.

Fill containers immediately, leaving 1/2 inch at the top for it to expand when frozen.

Cover and let stand for 24 hours or until set.

Oh-my-yum, that was easy. Slather onto delicious homemade bread like mama's artisan hazelnut bread.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Quiet Book: Magnet Board Page

The four of us are collaborating on making quiet books for our children/grandchildren. It has been fun looking at other people's ideas online as well as trying to come up with creative ideas of our own. Recently, I found a magnetic nativity scene at a thrift store,  and I thought how great it would be to have a magnet board page for our quiet books.

I began by cutting a rectangle of felt about an 1 1/2" smaller than my finished quiet book page would be. I centered it on the page and zigzagged it in place. Since it wouldn't be possible to turn this page right side out once the sheet metal is in place, it is important to either use it as a page by itself at the front or back of your quiet book, or sew it to the page that it will be back to back with at this point--before adding the metal--and turn it inside out.

Not long ago I purchased a thin sheet of metal at Home Depot for something else, and there was plenty left over for this project. But you can also buy smaller, prepackaged sheets at Hobby Lobby or other craft stores. I liked cutting my own because I was able to make it larger:

I cut my metal to size with tin snips--about an inch smaller than the felt--and rounded the corners to minimize poke-age potential:

Using E6000, I glued the metal sheet to the felt I had sewn onto my page. My concern about this project is that the edges of the metal might be hazardous. So I was especially careful to put the glue very near the edge of the metal and then push the edges hard into the felt. I bought magnet letters and numbers at the dollar store and will keep my eye out for other fun magnet sets for future use. (Be sure to keep in mind the age of your user; you don't want your magnets to be a choke hazard.)

I wanted a way to store the magnets that also provides a "skill" page. Here are two zipper options that can help little fingers learn how to zip and unzip while they use their magnets:

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Craft for Kids: Chicken that squawks

Yes, you read that title right. This chicken that is made from a plastic cup- it squawks. I never would have thought to blog about this activity that I recently did with my daughter and niece and nephew (and we read a book about chickens to go along with the craft)-- except that Laurel told me that she had never seen one of these treasures before:

For some reason, I thought everyone must know about the chickens that you make out of plastic cups, a bit of string, and a damp sponge that actually make a squawking noise. I made my first one in first or second grade...and it is about the only thing that I remember doing in school that year. It definitely made an impression. 

So here's what you do:

Squawking Cup Chicken Craft


- Large, red, plastic cup
- Embroidery floss
- a sponge (the ones you scrub your sink with--like one of these)
- orange flannel
- googly craft eyes
- a needle or safety pin


1. Poke a hole in the center of the bottom of the cup with a needle. The hole needs to be big enough to put the embroidery floss through, but small enough that the knotted floss won't slip through it. What was the bottom of the cup, is now the top of the chicken's head.

2. Cut off about a 12-inch piece of embroidery floss, tie a knot at one end, and thread the non-knotted end through the hole that you made. The knot will be at the top of the chicken's head, and the string will hang down through the cup and extend out the open bottom of the cup (or soon to be chicken).

3. Cut a square off the sponge (the square should be about an inch wide and long). Tie the sponge to the bottom of the string that is dangling from the cup.

4. That is it really. Now you can dress the chicken up. Give it a beak (with the orange flannel) and googly eyes and whatever else you dream up. But that is all there is to it. 

Now, how to make it squawk: You put water on the sponge. Wring out any excess water--you just want it damp. Hold the cup with one hand and hold the sponge (which should be attached to the string that is dangling from the cup) with your other hand. Now using your thumb and index finger to hold the sponge, press the sponge so that it sandwiches around the string above it, and jerk it down along the string. That is what makes the chicken squawk. And the kids love it! If that doesn't make sense, You can watch an example of it here. 

 Also, here are a couple of books with chickens as central characters that you could use with the craft: The Problem With Chickens and Little Peep