Sunday, April 29, 2012

Maxi Dress and Baby Birds!

     I first heard about the release of the Emmaline Dress pattern from Violette Field Threads when it was announced on their Facebook page.  I fell in love instantly and had to try it.  I ordered the fabric (same as in the pattern picture I saw, it was too pretty and I just had to have one like that for Scarlett) immediately and knocked it out this weekend.  The pattern was really easy to read and I can't wait to get started on some of the others that I picked up in the pattern bundle.

     I just had to get her dressed up and get some "action shots".  :)
Hamming it up.

Back of the dress.  (Checking out the chickens hiding in the zucchini.)

     Also, do you remember those eggs I posted a picture of in an earlier post?  They hatched!  We've got baby birds!  Three of the four eggs hatched.  They're so cute.


     With the baby birds hatching, the weather heating up (sometimes TOO hot), and the garden starting to produce baby zucchini... I can't help but get excited about the upcoming summer!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Brown Bear, Brown Bear Giveaway Winner Announced!

     A big "Congratulations" to Meredith M. for winning the "Brown Bear, Brown Bear Book and Burp Cloth Giveaway"!  An e-mail has been sent to you to get the shipping details.  :)

      I want to thank everyone who participated and stopped by the blog and Etsy store.  You guys are fantastic!

      Keep an eye on the blog.  With Spring in full-swing, we've had a lot of exciting stuff happening in the garden.  I've got another giveaway planned in the very near future to help celebrate it!

Monday, April 16, 2012

"Grouchy Ladybug" Burp Cloths and Spice Rack Button Organizer.

   I believe I have a button problem.  Whenever I see buttons on sale, something "pings" in my brain and I'm instantly drawn in.  My button collection has gotten completely out of control and while looking for some worthy buttons today, I decided to get it semi-organized... rather than just relying on a Rubbermaid tub of button chaos.

     Thankfully, this was a project that the kids were THRILLED to help me tackle.  Playing with buttons?  Sold.

    I've had this spice rack for years.  It's just been sitting empty forever because I knew that it would be used sometime, but I just kept overlooking it.  Not today!  I cleaned it up really nice and the kids and I were able to bring a semblance of order to my button box.  Still not completely done, but we're well on our way.   Perfect use for an old spice rack.

Spinning Spice Rack turned "Button Organizer"

    Also, my husband was a huge help yesterday and took the kids for a few hours while I had a big of time to myself.  I was able to finish off another set of burp cloths for the baby and now just have a few more left to go.  (Honestly, can you ever have enough burp cloths?  I don't think so, so I'm stocking up bigtime!)

    "Grouchy Ladybug" burp cloths.

     Don't you love it when you get uninterrupted sewing time?  :)

     Last, but not least, we had a big surprise this morning when I was watering my impatiens and discovered...

     I love little surprises that pop out of the blue like that.  I accidentally scared Mama bird away before I realized there was something else in my hanging planter while I was watering.  However, she came back right after I left.  The kids are thrilled and I can't wait to figure out what kind of birds they are and to see the babies when they hatch.  We had this happen last year at our other house and got to watch the baby birds hatch, grow, and eventually move on.  So excited to get to do it again! 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Freezer Paper Stenciling on Shirts

  My friend, Ashley, over at There is No Place Like Homemade has a great tutorial for using freezer paper stencils to paint on shirts.  I loved the way her Star Wars shirts turned out and wanted to give it a shot with shirts for my own kids.

    I think they turned out pretty decent!  Still have to heat-fix the paint in place, but this is how they looked this morning after peeling off the freezer paper stencil.

     Still have a little more work to do in order to finish them up, but I'd say that this was probably one of my favorite projects I've done recently!  Scarlett's birthday is coming up, so the Tinkerbell shirt will be for her party.  Going to hot-fix some rhinestones on there to "bling" it up for her.  Also, have to make one more shirt for Kai (aside from his ninja and dino shirt seen here), and two more for Cam (who got the Harry Potter shirt).  One quick word of advice.... when picking out a shirt, keep in mind that dark colors = a lot more coats of paint needed.  That Harry Potter shirt took about 5 coats of paint.  Also, the intricate wording of the Harry Potter shirt meant that I had to be super careful to make sure that every little crevice was not forgotten. 

     I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out the freezer paper stencils, which helped reduce cutting time and allowed me to get a lot of painting done in a short amount of time.  The Tinkerbell silhouette had to be completely reworked in the Silhoutte software and was probably my biggest holdup.  Even with the Tinkerbell issues, it was still a super-fun project and I highly recommend it!

Friday, April 13, 2012

"Brown Bear, Brown Bear" Book and Burp Cloth Set Giveaway!

********Contest Ended- Congratulations, Meredith!********

     Since I've been busy whipping up a bunch of baby stuff, I thought it would be fun to do a baby-themed giveaway!  At our house, the Eric Carle books are a huge hit and one of our favorites is "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?"

     The prizes for this giveaway are a "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" board book and a set of 3 burp cloths.  The burp cloths are made with 100% cotton fabric that is sewn onto Gerber pre-folded 3-ply birdseye cloth diapers.  The fabric embellishment extends down the middle of the cloth diaper, leaving white areas on either side for additional coverage for burpy babies.

Photo showing the embellished fabric-covered middle of the cloths.

       The giveaway starts today and ends midnight on the 23rd.  See, there actually are some good things that start on Friday the 13th.  ;)  Open to US and Canada.

Baby Blankets Galore!

     I've been working on a lot of baby stuff recently to get ready for the newest addition to our household.  Of course, after my last child, I had given all the baby stuff away thinking that we were done.  (Go figure.  Isn't that how it always goes?)  Been scrambling to catch up and wanted to start off with some baby blankets.

     The first one I made:

    This was in case the baby was a girl.  Used 100% cotton for the top part, and then a fuzzy material found in the "minky" aisle for the fluffy underside.  Also, my new labels came in!  Was so excited to have those arrive and couldn't wait to start attaching them to everything.  :)

    This was before I opted for an elective ultrasound to find out the sex of the baby.  That's when we found out that we were actually having a BOY!  Yay!  Another excuse to start whipping up different blankets.  I gave the fuzzy blanket to my daughter after she saw it folded and tucked away in my closet and started petting it like it was a fuzzy animal.  Looks pretty on her new toddler bed.  For once, she actually made her bed this morning.  (Knock me over with a feather!)

    Anyway, onward to the boy blankets:

     Both are lightweight blankets with 100% cotton top and soft flannel underside.  They were both super quick and easy projects and a great way to make the kids' naptime really productive.

    Finally, on my list of baby "done"s, is my first knitted project.  To those out there who knit on a regular basis, I salute you.  This was my first knitting project and seemed to take FOREVER.  Used two strands of yarn to knit with and it still took me four days to complete a single washcloth.  Still have two more to go.

     Currently working on knocking out a few more burp cloths.  Definitely in full-on "nesting" mode.

    Keep an eye on the blog, I've got a giveaway or two in the works.  Will be posting in the next week or so. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Grow Boxes, DIY Mason Bee House, and Chickens... Oh My!

      I love Spring!  Last week was Spring Break and I was able to get a lot done.  Travis also got back and was able to help me move the dirt that I needed, so we're all set and ready for the growing season!

     "Life's a garden, dig it."  -Joe Dirt

     This year, instead of doing raised beds (we moved into a rental house and I really didn't want to mess up the great lawn that they had put in), I decided to go with a container garden.  I set up the Grow Boxes (the ones found at The Garden Patch) in March, but because Travis was gone and I'm pregnant, I waited to fill them with dirt until he was able to come home and help.  This past Friday, I filled up the boxes and got all the plants in. 

     I purchased the big bags of potting mix (2.5 cu feet each) and one bag will fill up 2 boxes.  You have to fill them as full as possible, saturate the potting mix, fill again (if needed), and then put your fertilizer pad/cover on top.

     This is how they turned out:

Close-up of the Grow Box.  (Additional fasteners added.  Explained below.)

     As far as the initial setup, it really wasn't hard at all. It took awhile because I did all ten at once, but the steps are clearly laid out in the directions. 

     Regarding plants and garden layout, I had drawn out a plan ahead of time before even setting it all up.  The instructions let you know how many plants you can fit per box, so I wrote down a list of what I wanted, figured where I wanted it to go, and then bought the plants I had planned on at the same time I picked up the dirt.

     I will say that one "con" of the Grow Box has got to be the spikes they give you to hold down the fertilizer pads.  They just will not cut it.  When you plant your plants, you have to cut into the pad to get the plant under its designated "number".  (Explained in the directions.  The numbers ensure proper spacing of your plants if you plant multiple ones in a box.)  If you use the spikes included... some of which were missing when I originally set up my Grow Boxes.... they just won't be enough and the fertilizer cover will curl up and just not stay in place.  To fix this, I purchased "fabric and garden staples" that you can find in the landscape fabric section of a home improvement store.  These "u-shaped" pins work great for tacking down the fertilizer cover.  No issues after that.

     It's only been a few days and I can already see that the plants have grown a bit.  They're going to be huge if they continue like this.

     Oh, speaking of "huge", my son brought home a "Mega Cabbage" from school.  Bonnie plants has a scholarship program for 3rd graders, that whomever grows the largest mega cabbage in the state will earn a $1,000 scholarship.  We're going to give it a shot. 

Here was the cabbage last Wednesday...

And here it was today....

     Somehow, I don't think the pot is going to be big enough.  Maybe a kiddie swimming pool?  Agh!

     Alright, so in addition to the Grow Boxes and the mega cabbage, I wanted to put in a Mason Bee house.  Some of you may have heard about Colony Collapse Disorder and how it is negatively affecting honey bees.  Honey bees play a huge role in pollinating plants and with colonies disappearing at a rapid rate, pollination has become a serious issue in certain places.  I read an article about Mason Bees and how they are resistant to CCD.  These bees are also non-aggressive and fantastic pollinators, which makes them even more desirable in a garden environment. 

     I did a few Google searches and finally decided on a design that I wanted to go with.  In the end, I came up with this...

     It was really easy to do once I had all the stuff.  Remember, there are multiple ways to achieve the same goal.  Some of the stuff that I used is interchangable with something similar.  (For example, I used a circular saw and a jigsaw.  However, a table saw would have worked as well.  I used a drill with a long spade bit.  If you have a drill press, you could possibly use that.  Beware, I will be jealous of your drill press.  *laughs*)  I am still new to the whole wood-working thing, so if you know of a better way to achieve the same result, by all means... go for it!  Then let me know so I can use the tidbits in future projects.  ;)

Supplies You'll Need 
1- 2" x 6" x 8' board cut into 1' sections.  (This was the smallest size board they had and I only used half of it.  You'll still have a 4' section left when you're finished.)
1 small piece of thin plywood
1" thick dowel cut to 6" long
Circular saw (table saw or miter saw works too.  I also used a jigsaw for the plywood, but the circular or table would work instead if you wanted to use those.)
Drill with long 3/8" spade bit (Mine was 16" long)
Various sized drill bits (that are close to your nail and screw sizes but a tad smaller) will also come in handy, but I always just eyeball it.
Wood glue
4 Super-short nails (about 1")
2 Short nails (about 1 1/2")
8 Super-short screws (about 1")
2 long screws (about 3")
Tape measure
Parchment Paper
Protective Wood Stain and brush to apply it with

Step 1- Cut your 2" x 6" x 8' board so you have four 1' sections.  You'll still have half of your board left over, set it aside.

Getting ready to cut.

Step 2- Mark your holes.  I marked mine 1" apart with my tape measure and a pencil.  Drill through your four 1' sections of 2" x 6" boards width wise using your long 3/8" spade bit.
Step 3- Sand down any really rough areas.  Then, line the boards up the way you want them to be, put wood glue in between the boards, clamp them and let them sit. Once the baords are dry, then you can coat them with wood finish.  (When I did it, I did it backwards and made it harder than it had to be.  Instead, I finished certain areas of the boards, THEN glued them.  It still came out okay, but it would have been easier to finish them AFTER they had been glued.)  Don't worry if the tops are a little "off".  The roof will cover that up.  Just make sure that when you clamp them, the sides and bottoms are nicely lined up or it'll be wonky.

Step 4-  Nail wooden dowel onto the top, about 1/2" forward from the back edge.  Use the two short ( about 1 1/2") nails.  If you want to make it easier, drill a small hole through where you want the nails to be.  It'll make it easier to nail them in and help you keep your sanity.  Now, you can also line your holes with parchment paper.  Cut the parchment pieces so they stick out about 1" on the back side of the bee box.  My parchment papers were about 7" long (not exact... guesstimating works) and about 3" wide.  Roll the papers length-wise around a pencil and push the pencil into the hole.  Tapping the edges of the paper tube roll helps it to expand and the pencil will come out more easily.

Dowel and parchment paper in place

Side view of paper sticking out the back but flush in the front.

Step 5-  Cut a 7" x 15" piece of plywood for the back and a 7" x 8" piece for the sloping roof.  Fold the 1" long "tail" pieces of parchment paper down (make sure they're pointing down so any rain or debris that may sneak in any cracks or crevices will flow down and away), and then secure the back to the main bee box part by running 4 super short screws along the bottom (one into each board for added stability) a little off of the edge.  Then, run 4 more super short screws through the back along the top into each board.

Click to view larger.  (I'm sorry my "Paint" skills are atrocious.)

Step 6- In the last step, you will use your 4 super short nails to nail the roof to the top.  Two of the nails should be just behind the face of the box, and the other two should go into the dowel.  Use your two long screws to put it up on a fence or pole and you're done!

     Lastly in this post, my family and I headed over to Tractor Supply and came home with these little cuties.  (The chicks, not the kids.  As far as I know, Tractor Supply does not keep children in stock.)  :)

     I'm glad I got to practice on the Mason Bee house before I take on a chicken coop.  *whistles*  That's going to be an interesting one.  I'll let you guys know how it works out. 

    Oh, the chickens' names are Perry (after Perry the Platypus), Eva (from Wall-E), Ballerina (that's Scarlett's chicken), Wanda (Travis' choice), Bertha and Kiev (my two picks).  Fresh eggs in the future!  Yum.