Our State Storyboard:: Summer

Each season, I try to change our state storyboard to reflect our current days. How happy I am to see sand & dunes from our first trip to the beach, instead of snow drifts hanging on our storyboard these days! state board 1state board 2state board 3This is the first time that I have used clothes pins to attach pictures. What have I been waiting for? They make it much easier to rearrange photos as I get more developed. And guiltily I admit, I always try to make things as easy for myself as humanly possible.

I love that our storyboard is something people always comment on when they come over.  Having conversation pieces throughout your space helps define areas and make the environment more welcoming, more homey to guest. When people come over and see the state storyboard, they can immediately see who we are and what we enjoy. The board tells the story of our *insert gushy adjective here*life in Michigan. And that story, I have to admit is everything to us.

I wonder what our board will look like next year at this time? How will life be different? Or the same? I can’t wait to see.

Baby Shower Invitations Take TWO

Now that the shower is over, I can post the invites I sent out for my older sister’s baby shower! By far, these were more challenging than the invitations I made for my twin sister’s baby shower. But even with all the hours and mistakes and fixes and learning experiences, they were totally worth it! After all, what wouldn’t we do for our sisters? Plus, I wasn’t actually involved in planning anything else for the shower, so I was able to dedicate a lot of time into this project until they were just perfect!

The invitations were done on varying pieces of scrap book paper. I also inserted the library due date card with the shower information on the inside. I wanted the invites to look as bookish as possible, and by the time I was finished they definitely were!

Paper ChoicesCut in halffinished card and pocket angledBottom of inviteFull Invite Sarah's Shower

The most important thing was that my sister loved them! She’s already put the one I mailed her into his baby book! I can’t wait for him to grow up big and healthy so we can make our own arts and crafts projects together!

Handmade Baby Shower Invitations

I’ve been meaning to post these for sometime– here are the handmade invitations (& steps) that I created for my sister’s baby shower.  Enjoy!006

1.Choose a color & pattern pallet to use. We are doing a yellow & grey theme for the shower, so I wanted to use all types of patterns using at least one or both of those colors. I was okay with having different patterns for the invitations.

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2. Choose a design layout. I knew originally that I wanted a stork on the card. We call my sister, Bird, so I had to put some kind of bird on the invite itself.  And what’s a more appropriate bird than a stork?? I tried different designs for days and in the end, I liked this one the best. So, I quartered a piece of 8×10 white paper and drew my final design on one of the quarters.

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Trace Invitation

3. I traced by design onto vellum paper. I thought about scanning and printing them each, but in the end I decided to do them all by hand. There was something really exciting about knowing every invitation I sent out was unique and made just for the recipient. Tie papers together

4. Put the cards together.  Next, I punched a hole in the vellum & the pattern patter and tied them together with twine.

And that’s all it took, folks!  Completed Invitation

I was really proud of the invitations when they were completed! They were just what I had envisioned. Without a doubt, I would do invitations this way again; simply because it was so methodical just trace, punch, tie. Trace, punch, tie.  Trace, punch, tie.  It was time-consuming, but thoughtfulness always trumps time! And, in the end, when my sister called and said how much she loved them, that was all that mattered!

Have you ever created handmade invitations before? What did you do?

From Pinterest to Reality: Project #2// Handmade Envelopes

Envelopes made from maps kept  popping up on my Pinterest.  They were everywhere! Clearly it was a sign: Danielle, you should make us.  I tried to figure out who pioneered the making of these handmade envelopes, but sadly I was unable to find their mama. Left to forge my own trail, I couldn’t believe how simple it was to create handmade envelopes.  Instead of using maps, I decided to use the old magazines my grandma gave me. I was excited to have another reason to up-cycle these cool vintage papers!  EnvelopesHere is what I did to create my Handmade Envelopes:Step Two1. My papers were relatively small, so I decided to tape two pieces together in order to make one larger envelope.

Trace old Envelope2. Since I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing, I found an old envelope to use as a template. After taking it apart, I simply traced it onto the papers.

Fold Sides

3.I then cut it out and folded my three sides.

Completed

4. To finish, I taped down my sides!

Finished Evnvelope Front

And voila!

Side note: In order to hold down the last flap I am planning to use some monogrammed stickers that I have deep in my craft bin.

 Finished Envelope Back

These envelopes literally took me just a few minutes to make.  Figuring out the logistics on my first envelope was really the only tricky party. After that, it was a smooth operation.

I’m really pleased with the vintage feel they have. I’m also happy that I decided to use a wider tape to connect my two pages. It’s surprisingly sturdy & I don’t have to worry about things falling through the gaps when I send them with Mr. Postman.

Multiple Envelopes

I’m pumped that I have one less thing to buy at the store! Now all I have to do is insert my cute stationary & off they go! I can’t wait to send out my first letter this week!

Another Rainy Day Activity: Make Your Own Board Game

When the older kids I watch have a day off from school, one of the first things they ask to do is make a board game.  Of course, I have to agree. 

How it works? Collectively, or alone (depending on how everyone is getting along) I ask them to design a game for me to play with them.  They decide the rules. They decide the layout. They decide the colors and the pieces. They decide EVERYTHING! I sit back and watch it all go on, trying to intervene… never.

How long it takes? This is one of the most time consuming projects I know. Typically every child I have ever done this with stays occupied anywhere from one to four (yes!) hours!

Twists? Sometimes in the summer, we use sidewalk chalk outside to draw a board, then use ourselves as the pieces that move around the board. Don’t forget your sun block!

Materials? This project always leads us to one place: the recycling bin. The kids love making cards, boards, pieces, dice, spinners, you name it! from old homework assignments, boxes, marker caps, etc.  It’s fun to see just how many things they want to upcycle with, rather than use new.

Example: The first time we did this activity we found an old posterboard from last year’s secience project and we completely covered it with duct tape. This was a bit tricky and I offered to help for the beginning stages. Since this first time, however, they have found other ways to make boards without my help.

Here is a board they made the other day…

Make your own board game

Lessons Learned?

#1: It’s best to write down all our directions BEFORE we start playing.  It’s easy to make a few tweeks here & there until it’s perfect, but it’s always best to start with some general guidelines. Also, it’s a great way to start organized, focused and get them to write without realizing it!

#2: Some ideas for our board games are best kept a secret. No one likes when their games turn out exactly the same, afterall.

#3: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Wait, didn’t Thumper say that on Bambi? Either way, it also applies to making board games, too!

#4: Even if we never get a chance to play our games because it takes the whole afternoon and then Mom and Dad come home, that’s okay, too. Most of the fun is creating— and there will always be another afternoon to play!

From Pinterest to Reality: Project #1// Design Your Own Tea-Pot

I saw on Pinterest that you can design your own coffee mugs simply by using Sharpie markers.  All of the designs I saw on Pinterest looked so cute & easy that I just had to give it a try myself.  Sean recently started making a lot of loose leaf teas; selling some & giving it awa,y as well.  It was by chance that I saw this plain white tea-pot on clearance at Target. But, once I laid eyes on it I knew that it just had to be my guinea pig for this project.

Tea Pot and CupsThe first thing I did was wash the exterior of the ceramic mugs & tea-pot.  While they were drying I preheated my oven to 350 degrees.Teap PotsThen, I started designing! This was the fun part, of course. Mig FinishedThe tea-pot was much more fun for me to design than the mugs themselves. I liked that there was a bigger space to fill. I also really like the contrast of the black on white. It was so bold and easy to see. I really appreciate the whimsical feel of the roots. It’s fun to look at the tree and realize that the roots are the main focus, not the branches. As trees are very trendy these days, it’s fun to see one that is a bit more non-traditional. Tea Pot COmpletedOne thing I didn’t want was cups that matched exactly. I wanted them to look like a set and have similar traits that brought them together (hence the “World Tea Tree Company” on the handle), but with different fronts.  I decided on two phrases: “More tea, please” and “I love tea with honey”.  I really enjoyed that the cups were able to stand on their own, but also still look like a set when put next to one another.Tea pot and mugs finishedOnce I had my designs done, I put them in the oven to bake for 30 minutes.

Finished Tea PotThis was such an easy project! I can definitely see myself giving these away in all sorts occasions for all sorts of people. Thank you, Pinterest! It’s so inspiring to see a project and think “hey, I can do that, too!” It’s even more inspiring to do that project and know that you did do it and you can do it again!

Rainy Day Crafts for Children

As a nanny of many, many years, I know how hard it is when the weather is poor and everyone is trapped indoors for the day. It’s hard on the kids who have too much energy to be trapped inside and it’s hard on the caregiver, who has to think of ideas to keep them busy and out of trouble.  Luckily I have come up with a box that is filled with rainy day crafts for children that can combat any “I’mmmm boooored” comments that are sure to come your way!

This Christmas, for the family I watched, with a ten year old, eight year old, and twin two-year olds, I put together a box of random items and labeled it “Save It For a Rainy (or Snowy) Day”. After they opened it, the ever-entertaining ten-year old pointed out that it was “the most random box he had ever seen”. Which made us all laugh, because really, he was right. It was random. And it didn’t make much sense in the moment. But the randomness was intentional, and soon he would discover the reason behind his nanny’s madness. But, it would take a rainy day, trapped in the house for them to truly appreciate this box of rainy day crafts for children. Rainy Day Crafts for Children

Included in the box were: markers, pipe cleaners, play dough, paints, paper, muffin mixes, cake mix, popcorn and glue sticks.

Rainy Day Craft Box

Some of the items in the box will complement one another. Some they will use individually. Some will take up a lot of time, while some will only burn a good thirty minutes. But all of it will inspire creativity. And all of it is something they can (mostly) do on their own (minus using the oven). My goal in any gift or activity I give to children is to foster creativity and spur autonomy. As a culture, I believe we do too much for our children. We have, in some cases, taken away their opportunity for original ideas. Personally, I make it a goal to encourage activities that allow children to act independently, because it is in those moments that they begin to form who they are and understand their limits. That is why I so strongly encourage every home to have a rainy day box. Pull it out, see what they can make. Give them an opportunity to show you who just who they are. Children, when allowed to do things independently always have a way of surprising themselves, as well as us.

As our friend the Cat in the Hat taught us: rainy days are not meant to get us down, but inspire us to play!

WednesDIY//Coasters from an Old Phone Book

This Christmas, I made Sean’s mom a set of coasters.  By the time I was finished, I was beyond surprised at how simple these DIY coasters were to make.  Since Sean’s mom is probably the best person I know at reusing things, I thought it only appropriate that her coasters were made from the pages of an old phone book.  Along with some scraps from my scrapbook paper for the shape of Michigan, these coasters were both DIY and sustainable, which made her extra happy.  This is definitely a project that I plan on doing again and again for other celebrations.

Coasters

  1. Using Modge Podge, I decoupaged the background I wanted onto the cork coasters. (I bought my cork coasters from a craft store, but could have just as easily cut my own design from a larger piece of cork board.)  I let this set for about twenty minutes. Although it dried quickly, it is important that the thin phone book pages have time to settle as well, this allows bubbles and creases to be minimized in the next step.Supplies for Coasters
  2. Once settled, I cut the shape of lower and upper peninsulas of Michigan from scrap paper. I decoupaged these over the phone book pages and let set for several hours.
  3. After the scrap book paper was settled I applied one layer of Modge Podge over the entire coaster. I let set until dried and then repeated this process three more times.  Depending on your materials, you may be able to do this step more or less.Finished Coasters
  4. Then I wrapped them up and gave them away! The best part of the whole process.

I hope you have as much fun with this project as I did.  Enjoy your Wednesday!

2013 Goals: 13 Things I Have Never Managed to Do

I have taken a blogging hiatus over the past two weeks, which while unfortunate, was needed in the face of sickness and traveling, visiting and holiday madness. One thing I have learned to do is juggle accordingly, and if I can’t do it all, then I have learned to focus on what MOST needs to be done. Unfortunately for me and my love of blogging, that meant I had to take a short break. But I am back, filled with new ideas and old ideas I’ve yet to share.

Excuses aside, I have been busy today with goal setting and brainstorming. I have decided that in 2013 I will do 13 things I have never done before. You know all of those moments when you sigh and say, “ugh, I have never done that before”? Well my life is filled with those moments and I am over it! So this year I will attempt 13 things I have never managed to do before and I can’t wait to share as I experience them. So here they are, all 13 of my Never-Have-I-Ever goals!

  1. Learn to use my grandma’s sewing machine that has been sitting in my closet. Specifically, I have been wanting to make pillows from old clothes and a quilt for my twin sister’s baby (due in March).
  2. Learn to cross stitch.
  3. Paint a piece of furniture yellow. I have always wanted to paint something yellow, but have forever been afraid of actually doing it!
  4. Create a dream catcher. For some time now, I have been pining over the idea of making a dream catcher from materials found in my parent’s backyard where I spent my childhood running around barefoot and wild. 
  5. Make 30 meals with Sean & keep accurate record of each- bad or good.
  6. Paint a picture on canvas.
  7. Read the 20 books on my book list.
  8. Run a race.
  9. Write a children’s book. While I have done this before, but it has been a long time and I am excited to try a different technique this time! 
  10. Record a song with Sean.
  11. Find 15 crafts on-line I have never done before and attempt my hand at them.
  12. Make a how-to-video on a craft I’ve created
  13. Keep up with my blog for an entire year. This is a big goal. I am the kind of person who becomes easily distracted and deterred. Sometimes it’s hard to think of things. Sometimes it’s easy to think of excuses. Sometimes it’s easy to give up; to feel like no one is reading, to question what is it all for? But if I persist, if I believe in myself, if I take pride in my talents and my writing abilities, THEN it will pay off. One year down the road, I will reassess, but until then, I am not allowed to doubt this venture. All I am allowed to do and to be is POSITIVE!

So there they are! The thirteen things I have never managed to do, but KNOW! BELIEVE! and feel CONFIDENT that I can do this year.  It is a year to surprise myself! And I am ready for the challenge; because above all else, this year is about learning: learning to look inward BEFORE I worry about outside opinions, learning to GROW as a writer, learning how to be a better photographer, learning how to reactive positively, before the negative can seep in; and best and most of all, learning to accept that everything I will be, is what I now know as “potential”. We create our own destinies, so let us all learn to always hope for the best in ourselves and to send the best energy we have to others, too.

What are your goals this 2013? Will you surprise yourself too?