Homemade Children’s Birthday Card

All through college and plus some years, I watched a family of three girls. The youngest and I spent beaucoup de temps together! I always called her my best little friend- because she was. For six years, I saw her more than I saw anyone else in my life. As she gets older, I can’t help but hold a very special and irreplaceable spot in my heart for her. She’s quirky, and talented, sweet and hilarious. There is no one quite like her. And as she turns another year older, I had to sit down and make her a special card. After all the time we spent doing arts and crafts, I know she will appreciate this homemade card.happy bday cardinside happy bday card

Watching the little ones we’ve helped raise is bittersweet. Unfortunately, they can’t stay two forever. I know because I’ve asked them to & no matter how much both parties want it, it’s impossible. But seeing what amazing people they are becoming aids the process.  And as they grow older, we must remind them of how much magic and love they have brought to our lives as the caregivers. It’s the least we can do for all they’ve done for us.

Happy Monday.

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Two Projects in One Day

We are constantly moving and changing things in our apartment in an attempt to get it exactly how we want. Don’t get me wrong, we love our apartment very much, but we also love change and home improvement projects.  

The hardest part about our apartment is that we have an open layout except for the kitchen, which is teeny tiny and tucked away.  Since we plan on staying here for awhile longer, we have been doing a bit of nesting these days. It’s exciting for me that Sean is just as motivated as I am about this!

 Last Sunday, after a trip to Ace Harware, we came home with lots of supplies and ideas for organizing and revamping our kitchen and dining room. Sean got to work on the kitchen and I focused on the dining room– conquer and divide! 

So here is what we came up with:
A new look for the dining room nook.

One side of dresserdresser knobs downwardtop of dresserFav dresser

And elsewhere in the apartment, here is the quick solution Sean designed for our overloaded pots and pan cupboard:

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Of course it’s supposed to have more dishes hanging on it, but of course they’re dirty in the sink and not being displayed. But overall, not bad for an afternoon at home! Is this never-ending winter getting you in the nesting mood as well?

Make Your Own Library Due Date Cards

Libraries used to have due date cards. I remember them. Do you? Once you found the book you wanted to check out, the librarian would stamp the due date on the little card to  remind you when to return it. Next, she would stick the card into a pocket, which was stuck to the inside cover, then close the book and hand it back to you. It was a small process, but after she closed the book and slid it back to you, she would always smile and say something kind about you & reading. These moments are deeply seeded in my childhood memory bank. They are also a part of my older sister’s memory bank as well, and try as we might we can’t understand why they ever stopped using those little due date cards!

While I have mentioned that my twin sister is pregnant, I haven’t yet mentioned that my older sister, Sarah, is also due to have her first baby in April! Yes, we are quite busy and no, I am not expecting!! After the fun that I had making my twin’s baby shower invitations, I volunteered to make my older sister’s invites as well.  She is having a baby book  themed party, so I knew immediately that I would attempt to incorporate the due date cards into the invitations, somehow, someway!

I will be sharing the entire invitation later this week, but for today, I thought I would share a DIY tutorial on how to make the library due date cards and pockets.

The first thing I did was scour on-line for templates to use. I wanted to figure out how to make the pockets. I knew they would be similar to the envelopes I had made before, and I was right. After looking at a few different options, I printed off this due date pocket template. I traced it, then cut out my own, making it slightly larger than the original template because I knew my cards were not going to be the same size as the ones they had on this site. The only reason I didn’t use this site’s due date cards was because I wanted a more authentic typewriter font.

pocket 1

For the pockets, I decided that I would use recycled children book pages that I had in my collection. I had wondered what I would do with all those dinosaur pages and was excited to finally give them a purpose. All I had to do was trace my template onto the pages, cut, fold and glue the ides together.

pocket 2

Then, all I had to do was make my library due date cards. After looking at some online I found this one to download and alter. I altered a few things on this card, like the wording for each section, as well as the lines because I wanted them to be thicker in order to show a better contrast. I typed in the basic information of the shower, like the place & time, in Courier New to give it the effect of typewriter. The rest of the information will be elsewhere on the invitation.

finished card and pocket angledThen, I was done. It was exciting to pop the cards in the pocket and then pull them out again! I hope everyone else will feel the same nostalgic satisfaction when they get the invites in the mail.

finished card and pocket 2

Lyric Flower Pot

Some season’s back, Sean & I went to a May concert. As she started singing a cover of Van Morrison’s Crazy Love, a moment of unknown peace overcame me. And with each line she sang every ounce of hesitation or doubt I had was quickly filtered from my life, leaving only joy in its wake. I felt cleansed from all the hurt in my past and renewed by the man standing behind me.  Since then, every time I hear this song I find myself back at Founders, wrapped in Sean’s arms feeling loved- so loved.

I wanted to do something with the lyrics of this song for a long time, but I was never sure just what. Then last summer, Sean ventured to India for six weeks with his brother. Naively I volunteered to watch his plants, but didn’t quite realize just how many he had until my bedroom was overtaken by green from every side- even my ceiling was hanging with vines! Feeling quite beside myself and lonely one afternoon, I grabbed the nearest pot to me and started painting the first thing that came to my mind– I started painting the anthem to our crazy love.

new-flower pot 1

 Like most of the projects that I do, this lyric flower pot was very simple. I definitely wasn’t focused on doing it perfectly. I was doing it for therapy. I thought about going back and touching up certain letters to make the paint more even, but in the end I decided not to. Everytime I look at this pot I remember how close I felt to Sean even though he was so far away from me. This pot also serves as an important personal reminder that one cannot dwell when on loneliness. The best way to come out of a pit is always to climb– and I chose to use art as my ladder.

new-flower pot 3

All of the other plant pots Sean & I have are varying shades of blue, so aesthetically I love that I used blue paint. It fits well in our home.  And now that Sean is back to stay, it’s great having this piece as a souvenir of our strength.

new-flower pot 2

My world is better because of music and art, and I love taking the opportunity to combine the two!

May February find you all running towards your own crazy loves like a river strong….

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!

Attack of the Plastic Bags- Simple Storage Solutions & More

Once upon a time there was a girl. The girl lived in an apartment. And the apartment had a kitchen, a very, very small kitchen. And in that very, very small kitchen there were lots of things. Some might say too many things.  Too many papers. Too many plastic bags. Too many notes. Too many containers. Too many too manies! So she took some of her too manies and filled them up with her other too manies and suddenly she could see her cupboards again! And she was happy- very, very happy.

My Problem? Too Many Plastic Bags! I’m sure everyone has this problem. At least, I like to think everyone has this problem.

The World’s Problem? Do you know how many plastic bags are going into landfills each year? You’ll be surprised at what you find once you start digging around.

Step One: The best way I have found to remedy the immediate, face-value situation is by reusing an oatmeal container. I simply cut a “x” shape in the lid of the container.

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I then, not so eloquently, shoved every last plastic bag I had inside the oatmeal container and put the lid on. I half expected it to pop up like a Jack-in-the-box, but thankfully it did no such thing..  I could not believe how little space these bags would actually take up once contained in a small area! For months I have been stressing about them falling out of cupboards, having to pick them up and constantly moving them from one space to another. I feel silly and slovenly for not thinking of it sooner.  It was definitely one of those “why didn’t I think of that sooner” moments in life. Shouts of Joy to solutions when they finally find you! 
019 Since I made this little container about two months ago, I have not had one single stray bag in my kitchen. Mostly, it is because of the re-used oatmeal container, but also it is because of the new system I have in place for my re-usable bags.

Step 2: I put a basket in my car. Inside my basket I put all of my re-usable bags. Once I bring the bags back inside my home & put away my groceries, I hang them on the doorknob of my front door. This way, the next time I leave, I grab them on my way out, throw them in the basket in the backseat of my car and never have to see them until I use them again.

I know this sounds ridiculously simple.  But in all honesty, by not making room for my reusable bags in my kitchen, by not hanging them in a closet or tossing them in a heap with my old plastic bags, I have made myself accountable for their well-being. And in a bigger light this self-accountability has forced me to make sustainability a bigger priority at home. In our home we are blessed enough to not need new bags every time we go to the grocery store–clearly we already have enough. In general reusing other bags at the grocery store follows my rule of thumb that “if it’s already out there and in working condition, why buy something new to throw into a landfill?”  

This month, I have challenged myself and Sean to not go grocery shopping, unless we have our bags with us. I am really hoping that through these two simple steps, I have made it impossible for us to go fail this challenge. And I know it isn’t much, this vow to give up my plastic bag hoarding, but it’s the least I can do in the grand scheme of things.  What kind of changes are you making this month to help your eggs grow up healthy and strong?

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!

Homemade Playdough

When the going gets tough, the nanny makes homemade playdough. Isn’t that how that phrase goes?

In all seriousness though, homemade playdough is my trick to cure any morning sass, tantrums, boredom, sadness &/or bad attitudes.

Working with two 2-year olds it was no surprise to me that the homemade playdough would be the first activity to go from the Rainy Day Box.  While we normally make our own homemade playdough, there was something exciting and much easier this time around. Perhaps it’s because mason jars are much easier to pour out than measuring cups & tablespoons; or perhaps it was because I put vanishing Kool-aid in the mix, so when we added water it magically turned pink.  But whatever the root of the excitement, I’ll TAKE IT! They were entertained and happy (edit: VERY happy) for over an hour.
Paydough jarsIn the jars I added: 1 package Vanishing Koolaid, 3 cups flour, 1 1/2 cup salt, &  6 tbsp cream of tarter. I was sure to make little labels with directions, just in case I wasn’t the one to make it.

Playdough jars II

On the morning that the kids wanted to make the playdough, they poured the ingredients from the jar into a pan. I made extra sure to build suspense as they smelled the ingredients and guessed what color it would turn! We then added 3 tbsp oil and 3 cups of water and watched the magic! I cooked the playdough on the stove over medium heat until it formed a round ball, let it cool on the counter and then handed it over!

If you’ve never tried homemade playdough, I highly recommend it! It’s so much fun to make and watch the kids create their own masterpieces.

Try it out & have fun!

Making Homemade Greeting Cards

I have a very special friend who is currently in the peace corps some too many hundred of thousands of miles away.  Since he hasn’t been here to roam our favorite stomping grounds and gossip with, we have become pen pals; passing our secrets with ink now.011

Corresponding is lovely. There is no other way to put it. I love getting letters. I love lining up all the stamps to send letters. I love reading about his life. I love venting about my own. Everything about it is perfect for our friendship!

As a result of this pen paling, I have decided to venture into the realm of creating cards & stationary. I’m only just beginning, but I can’t wait to see where it leads.

Hello Greeting Card up closeOld friend greeting card

I can’t wait to send these out to my old friend! Even more, I can’t wait to see what I get in return! 
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When’s the last time you got a letter in the mail? Do you have any great card-making tips?