DIY Christmas Gifts

First of all, I hope everyone is having a happy holiday season. We had fun visiting with family, eating good food, and indulging in too many sweets. It was nice to spend the day of Christmas at home, just the 3 of us, opening gifts slowly and lounging around in our pajamas.

Now that Christmas has passed and gifts have been opened, I thought I would share some of the things I made for people. Everyone got a tin of cookies which included molasses ginger cookies, Christmas blondies, and peanut butter blossoms. I also added some mini Reeses and peppermints.

I decided to be brave and attempt some new projects. I think I was fairly successful in making sriracha salt(http://dearhandmadelife.com/make-sriracha-salt/), lemon rosemary salt(http://thecafesucrefarine.com/2012/08/lemon-rosemary-sea-salt/), and sugar scrubs. However, I did fail to get my homemade body butter to the right consistency. I’m wondering if I bought the wrong kind of coconut oil or cocoa butter. I’m happy with what I did accomplish though!

For Jack, who is now 2 years old, I made two presents. The first is a book with pictures and the names of everyone in our family. Even though Jack cannot read yet, I thought he would enjoy looking at everyone’s faces. I made sure to laminate it because he is still rough with non-board books. 

It was fairly simple to do. I had pictures printed, then adhered them to colored paper with scrapbook tape. I used stamps to label each person with their name. The local copy place was able to laminate the pages, which I then hole-punched and used two binder rings to bind.

The other gift that I made for Jack is a matching game. This only required wooden square tiles, colorful paper, and modge podge. I bought a small drawstring bag to keep it in. I did 6 pairs: red hearts, orange bears, yellow stars, green turtles, blue trucks, and purple flowers. Even if he can’t match them right away, I figured we could still name the shapes and colors. Here it is completed:

One thing I would do differently about this project is: make sure to erase any pencil marks from drawing out the shapes. I noticed with especially the lighter paper, the pencil marks on the back showed through once I got it wet with the modge podge.
I had a spare wooden tile and used it to make an ornament for my work’s secret Santa ornament exchange. I again used modge podge and colored paper. I added a ribbon to hang it with some glue. My coworker loved it!

Anyway, I hope everyone has a happy New Years!

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Current Projects

I thought I would share some of what I have been working on lately. First of all, I have submitted Jack’s adventure story to its second publisher. Hopefully they will be interested! It seems the standard now for publishers to say, wait 4 months, and, if you don’t hear from us, then we aren’t interested. It’s a shame that I have to wait until October before submitting it elsewhere.

I’m currently brainstorming a second Jack adventure story. I also have an idea to write and illustrate a children’s picture book. I would like to use Jack as my model for the illustrations, so I’ve been practicing sketching him from pictures.

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In other news, Jack is still cute as ever!

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SuperJack!

Sunday was a rainy day here, so I spent the morning making a cape for Jack. He enjoyed it when I measured him with my  measuring tape. He kept wanting me to measure him again. Jack’s favorite stuffed animal is a bear dressed as Batman, so I thought it would be fun if he matched his bear.

I bought a yard of blue fabric and a yard of superhero patterned fabric. I had a lot extra though! I used blue thread, my sewing machine, scissors, measuring tape, pins, velcro, and a white colored pencil. I took rough measurements of Jack and planned for a half inch seam.

I layed out the patterned fabric good side up and spread the blue fabric on top. I folded them in half and drew out the cape with the white colored pencil. It took some adjusting, but eventually I was happy with how it looked and cut it out.

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With the good sides on the inside, I pinned them together and sewed half an inch in around the edges leaving a few inches open on the bottom. I used that hole to turn it inside out. I then sewed around the edge again a little closer to the edge and added the velcro. The cape can also be worn in reverse!

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It needs to be ironed, but I was too excited for him to try it on. Here is Jack enjoying his new cape:

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Flowerpot Craft

Jack helped me decorate a flowerpot for my grandmother’s 80th birthday. She had a surprise party this past weekend.

I really wasn’t sure what to get for her, so I decided something personalized would be best. I googled images of footprint crafts to do with little ones. In my experience, footprints have been easier to do with Jack than handprints. He always wants to close his hand when I put it on the paper. The footprints are also easiest to do when he is in his high chair so he cannot grab his paint-covered feet with his hands or run off. Here is my willing participant with some snacks to keep him happy:

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I started by painting the flowerpot blue for the sky and the base green for the grass. It took 2 coats. I used regular craft paint. I also set them on top of cans while I painted so they didn’t stick to the newspaper that I laid out underneath.

I did one yellow footprint for a bumblebee one day, then both feet had red and orange for a butterfly the next day. I thought it best to space them out over a couple of days so the pot would be easier to handle and my toddler would be less likely to get annoyed with me.

Here is the yellow footprint for our bumblebee done with the toes pointing down:

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Next is the butterfly. The right foot is on the left side and the left foot is on the right side:

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Lastly, I added the details and sprayed it with a protective sealer.

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I put a jade plant inside. This was a great craft to do with Jack who hasn’t been able to use crayons yet without trying to eat them!

Crafting with Little Man

I love doing crafts, so I have been impatiently waiting for Jack to be able to join me. So far, he just wants to eat the crayons. I bought him a Crayola marker that only works on special paper. He seemed to enjoy that for a couple minutes, but had even more fun ripping up the paper regardless of the masking tape I used to stick it to the table.

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Either way, I know he’s still using his creativity and analyzing what’s in front of him with all 5 senses.

I found a site with some great toddler craft ideas! The site doesn’t seem to currently be working, but I believe it was called Wildflower Ramblings. It had a good list of crafts for 1 year olds including one we did to make a present for my mother’s birthday. I used clear contact paper and stuck it to the table with the sticky side facing up. I gave Jack a pile of different colored pieces of ribbon that I had cut in about 1 inch lengths. We also used some fabric scrapbook flowers. I let him stick them to the contact paper. When he was done, I added a paper heart and sealed it with a second sheet of contact paper. An iron helped to make an even better seal. I trimmed the excess and wrote a note on it with a sharpie. It was his first craft present!

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This was a great project for his age. I was surprised he did not try to eat any of the ribbons. He spent longer working on it than I expected. He would pick up a ribbon, examine it, wave it around, stick it on the contact paper, and peel it off to do it all over again. I love that we can do it again using different colored ribbons or other materials to stick on. Even better, there was no mess to wipe up!

Another activity we tried from that website was playing with pompoms and a muffin tin. He did put them in his mouth a couple times but spit them back out. I guess they didn’t taste very good.

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He liked dumping the pompoms out or taking them out one by one. He’s not as interested in putting things inside other things yet, only dumping out things and taking things apart. He’ll put a couple megablocks together but would rather take them all apart. This will be a good activity for us to keep doing together so he can work on that skill and, later on, sorting as well. For both projects, I pointed out the colors of the ribbons and the pompoms.

I’m really enjoying watching him closely examine everything and looking forward to the times when we can be drawing together side by side. For now, his serious expression as he holds up a pompom to look at closer is the greatest thing I could want to see.

Sentimental Gifts

First of all, Merry Christmas! We had a busy day visiting with family today. Jack was able (and more than willing) to unwrap presents this year. Last year, he pretty much slept through the holidays. He was excited to get a slide, a robot blanket, cars, a tricycle, and a wooden toy box made by my parents. My husband and I only got him a couple small things knowing he would be spoiled by everyone else. He’s become attached to a stuffed bear dressed as batman that my husband picked out. He enjoys chewing the bear’s snout. I think it helps relieve some of his teething (and boy are we teething!).

The present I have been working on for the past few months is a short adventure story in which he is the hero. I am currently finished writing the story, but I have been busy working on some illustrations to go along with it. The idea for the story came to me just after Jack was born. When I would sit in my gliding chair nursing him for hours, I would brainstorm little stories where he was the main character. I jotted down a brief outline, wrote a couple pages, then promptly forgot about the whole thing. It wasn’t until October that I picked it back up.

One of the ideas behind the story is that Jack becomes acquainted with people he will not be able to know in real life. Three of the characters that he befriends are based on three special people: my grandfather, my husband’s grandfather, and our dog Dusty. Both grandfathers had passed away the year before Jack was born. We had to put down our old yellow Labrador Dusty earlier this year before Jack was even crawling. I wish Jack could have known Dusty when he grew up. I imagine them playing fetch together and being best friends. In my story, Jack is six years old and has his dog Dusty by his side. On their adventure together, they meet many new friends, two of which are named after our grandfathers. Even though they are in animal form in the story, I tried to capture their personalities. I wish Jack had been able to meet them. By writing this story for Jack, he will get to know them in the book and become familiar with them in a way that he could not before.

During this time of year, when families gather to laugh, sing, and exchange sentimental memories, I give to my son the gift of a bigger family that he did not meet, but still can know. Merry Christmas everyone!

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We Have a Crib Chewer

The title says it all. A few weeks back, I discovered gnaw marks on Jack’s crib. He only has two teeth, but he sure figured out how to do some damage.

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I looked online for advice and found this great, easy solution. No sew crib rail cover! The only thing you need is a tape measure, scissors, and a couple yards of fleece. Luck was on my side, because Joanns was having a sale on all of their fleece. Here are some pictures of Jack ‘helping’ and our finished solution to his crib chewing problem.

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