Thursday, May 31, 2012

Free Printables Love

One of my favorite things about Pinterest is all of the free printables I find from blogs I previously didn't know existed (and many times, end up following). Oftentimes, I just get ideas and make my own rendition, but sometimes, the printables are perfect (in my humble opinion) as is.

My laundry room is one place in our home that I have not spent a ton of time decorating, yet I spend enough time in there, figured I should! I found this awesome printable from A Pop of Pretty and I couldn't have made it, or said it better myself :) I formatted it in Publisher to 8x10, printed it out, popped it in a black Ikea frame and voila: a print I love, to decorate a once bare wall of my laundry room. She also has a fantastic tutorial for making your own, but I loved this one she offered so much, I decided I'd rather spend the crafting time on other projects and take advantage of her generosity! Isn't this saying so perfectly true? LOVE IT.

I think this one from Three Little Monkeys studio will be my next laundry room free printable to hang.

I also found this Subway Family Rules free printable from Adventures of a Betty Crocker Wannabe and it is in our dining nook area. I had been looking at these for so long, trying to figure out the perfect words to use...and then I found this. I may have changed or added a couple things if I had taken the time to make it myself, but I truly love everything this sign says. And it took me all of 10 seconds for my printer to spit it out.

I found this free subway reading printable from Restless Risa and thought it was perfect for our playroom. It hangs above their reading area and fits quite perfectly.

There are so many more I have found (if you follow me on Pinterest, you already know!), some I have used, others I have drawn inspiration from, and others that are in queue to be used. 

Do you have any favorite free printables? I'd love to see what you have found too!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Re-purposing with Chalkboard Paint

When hubby and I bought our first house, we bought this framed art for our entry way. When we moved to our new house a little over a year ago, it really didn't fit well, and to be honest, I was sick of looking at it anyway. I always loved the frame so held onto it and eventually decided to re-purpose it and make it a chalkboard! It turned out great and was super easy!



Because this piece did not open well (Would have had to take the paper and hanger off the back to get into it), I decided to just paint the glass in the frame. I suppose you could tape off the frame, but since the frame was darker already, I just decided to wing it. (I used q-tips to clean up any paint that got on the frame before it dried).


After the first coat, I was wondering if it was going to turn out streaky looking, but I kept faith and kept on. I ended up doing 3 coats total. I'm not very patient, so I didn't exactly let the coats dry completely before moving onto the next one, but I did my best, and it turned out just fine. After the final coat, I rubbed chalk over the entire board to "season" it, as directed on the paint bottle.



Now I have a pretty awesome chalkboard that I need to find a home for around the house. I get so giddy seeing that I created something new that I love, out of something old that I was tired of. I have a feeling there will be many more chalkboard projects in the future for me.


What chalkboard paint projects have you done, or do you have some on the drawing boards? I'd love to hear about them!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rainbows & Racecars Birthday Party

A & G are 25 months apart, so their birthdays are just a month apart, almost to the day. I LOVE planning parties, but this year - and with A's permission, I decided to plan their parties together, rather than doing two separate ones. I am not sure if I will do this next year or any other year, but I do know that it worked well this year and was a lot of fun! Finding a theme that would work for opposite genders was a little tricky at first, but once I found Rainbows and Racecars I knew it would be awesome. So, with the help of pinterest, I got to work planning a super fun party for my 4yr old daughter and 2yr old son. Here it is:

FOOD: Cupcakes (of course), Oreo pops (trickier than I anticipated!), Rainbow jelly beans, Veggies & dip, "Spare tires" (chocolate mini donuts), Rainbow M&M cookies (thanks chips ahoy!), Rainbow goldfish, Chips, Rainbow fruit and marshmallow cream cheese dip, Sub sandwiches, Racecar cutout PB&Js, Cars juice boxes, "fuel up" water bottles, and punch (this punch is REALLY good, but I cut the sugar to 1 cup, or you could probably leave it out completely - it is already really sweet without it). 

FAVORS: A and I tied die cast cars onto mini swirl lollipops. I created some custom hang tags, cut them out, hole punched and we tied them on with red and purple curling ribbon. Easy peasy. 

DECOR: I kept it simple; racecar pendant banner, race table cloths, rainbow birthday banner (Target), some rainbow hangy things (no clue the correct term for these). I had the cupcake toppers and cupcake wrappers custom created by Modern Beautiful - they created a digital file and emailed it over to me and then I did all the printing, cutting, assembling. They were amazing to work with ~ they didn't have anything racecar but quickly whipped up exactly what I had in mind to go with their adorable chevron rainbow print - I highly recommend them if you are in need of some DIY birthday items. I downloaded my food cards for free from Vinnie Pearce and then typed the items in rainbow colors with text boxes before I printed them. I also adapted their free fuel up label and made my own water bottle labels with it. I used red and purple plates, napkins, utensils, and cups for that balance of themes.

ACTIVITIES: Racecar and Rainbow coloring pages, and color your own wooden racecars - (I created "Color" and "Body Shop" signs in publisher to match the theme), ballpit, Rainbow Pinata , and of course with it being a nice day the swing set got plenty of play action.

{My little G man getting some help with his swing from the hubby}

{A taking a swing!}

Such a fun day and a fun party! I adore this theme and am a little sad it's over! I guess I'm off the hook for birthday planning for another year now. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Garage Organization

Organizing the garage never sounds like a fun task, but I knew it would not get done unless I made it my mission last Saturday. So hubby and I (he was even more excited about this...sense the sarcasm) dove into the mess of our garage shelves to try to put some order back into them. My goal was simple, as it is with any organizing project: a place for everything, and everything in it's place. It took a few hours but we got rid of a ton of stuff (from garbage, to "what IS that?", to garage sale items). There were tools strewn all over the place, kid toys in a bunch of different places, landscaping and paint supplies all over, and nothing had a good organized flow.

A few hours later, and everything has a place and a reason for being there. It may not look super pretty (it's still a garage after all), but it is organized. I needed something to organize smaller things, so just grabbed some boxes from my last Costco trip. Some day soon I would like to replace those with some clear plastic bins so we can see the contents better, but for now it works just fine.

We are lucky to have a large garage with extra shelving space and even a little secret room for storing luggage and such, but we also would like to install some ceiling storage at some point. What kind of garage organization have you done? I would love to hear about your projects and ideas.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Let It Be...

This project took a bit longer to complete than anticipated. Not because the project itself took a long time, but it took me a long time to decide on paint colors and letter design. So finally, I decided to stop over-thinking (if you have been following me, you know I struggle here!) and just decide on something - even if it is not the perfect choice. And in the end, I like it a lot.

Oh, and I chose the phrase "Let It Be" because I love the words, I love the song, and I need these words constantly reminding me to just let thing be, to not over-think, to let go of control, and just roll with the unplanned punches of life sometimes.

Here's how I did it:

1. I printed out some large black letters - I think they were 650 font. Then, I cut those out.
2. I picked scrapbook paper I liked, and traced the above black letters on to it. Then, I cut those out.
3. I painted the canvas. I couldn't find the color of blue I wanted, so I mixed a bright turquoise I already had, with a blue-grey color called Blue Jean. I painted 2 coats, including the edges and allowed a few hours between paint coats. (The color in the pictures looks quite a bit brighter than it does in person)

4. I figured out the placement of the letters and where I wanted them on the canvas. You could measure this for precision - I am too impatient though and prefer to eyeball.
5. Then I mod podged them on the canvas.
6. Once the letters were on, I  mod podged over the whole canvas and letters to finish it.
7. Let dry (this is is the stage where you look at it and think you just ruined the whole piece with mod podge - don't worry, it is supposed to look like that and dries clear.

**So if you look close in my finished piece, there are some streaks that did not dry clear on the middle right and I have no idea why. I am a veteran mod podger and have not had this happen before. If anyone can fill me in on what went wrong, or better yet, how to fix it - I would be thrilled :)

Pincushion Creations

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Organization: Recipe Binder

For far too long my recipe binder was nothing more than a huge stack of recipes in no particular order. This made it not only incredibly time consuming to find a recipe I was looking for, but the lack of organization also made it impossible to remember all the recipes I had. Meal planning was much more challenging as well. I should also mention I have a LOT of recipes, many tried and loved, and many that I want to try, but haven't yet.

It had been on my "to-do" list for at least a year to re-organize this mess. One thing about me (and it's not something I love) - I sometimes can get really caught up in over-thinking - trying to figure out exactly the perfect system, and instead, nothing ends up getting done. I have to very consciously make sure I don't get too stuck in that over-thinking process and just DO things sometimes, whether or not it is the perfect system. (Because an imperfect system is better than no system at all, right? This is what I tell myself!)

So I decided enough was enough and began tackling this project. It was an excellent decision.

1. First I decided I wanted a large 3 ring binder. I think it is a 3 inch - it was pretty much the biggest one they had. I picked lime green.
2. I picked a binder with the clear front covers because I knew I wanted to create a personalized cover and spine.
3. I created the cover and spine...didn't take me very long at all - I just used Publisher, nothing fancy here.
4. I figured out what sections I wanted  - again, I had to stop myself from over-thinking these and just decide :) My sections: Appetizers, Main Dishes, Crockpot, Sides/Salads, Snacks/Kid Food, Breakfast, Dessert/Drinks, and Miscellaneous (things like sweet and sour sauce, homemade pizza sauce, and jam recipes ended up here). I also purchased colored dividers with pockets on the front so that I could put recipes to try in the pocket for each section.

5. I went through my huge stack of recipes and threw out any that didn't sound great to me, or that I had tried and didn't love. Then I made two stacks for each of my sections: recipes tried to file, and recipes to try.
6. Only recipes I have tried and love make it into the clear plastic sleeves in the section. The recipes to try go in the divider pocket for that section as mentioned above.

7. in the back inside pocket of the binder I put some printouts I had for popular recipe substitutes, measurement equivalents, and other useful cooking related info I wanted to keep.
8. In the front inside pocket, I placed recipes I plan to try very soon and want up front for me to remember to add to my meal plan.

I had visions of designing pretty labels for the tabs, but it came down to completing the project or that whole over-thinking thing again, and I decided that for now, my handwriting would work just fine. This may not be my end all system, and I may re-tweak it over time, but for now it is light years better than what I had been dealing with and I love having everything organized and easy to locate.

What system do you use to organize your recipes? I'd love to hear about them!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring has sprung at BabyCakes Creations

Check out the newest items in my shop! Come grab some spring for a special little girl's hair... or even your own :) And come like BabyCakes on facebook. When it reaches 250 likes (almost there!!), I will host a giveaway for a sweet fabric flower clip!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

10 things to do with a sick (young) kid

While I generally have very healthy kids, this winter has felt like one illness after another. Having sick kids is no fun, and the biggest reason for me is how sad it is to see their normally endless energy selves feeling so lethargic and icky. When my kids get sick, they get pretty spoiled (as they should when they are sick in my opinion), and I try to bring as much "fun" to the sick party as I can.

Here is an art project A and I did together today while she was sick at home. I wasn't sure we were going to get to it because she was pretty much glued to the couch all day, but she surprised me with some evening energy to move to the table for a little craft time. I was inspired by this. It provides a bright and cheerful piece on our playroom art wall and fitting for the first day of spring (even though it still feels like winter outside).

10 things to do with a sick (young) kid:

1. The obvious go-to - watch movies.
2. Build a fort. Snuggle and read books together in it by flashlight.
3. Make homemade playdough. Even though you have a huge bin of it already, because making your own is really cool to a kid (and pretty cool to me as an adult too).
4. Print out new coloring sheets and let them pick which ones. We like Disney, Sprout, and Nick Jr.
5. Have a pretend birthday party for a special doll or stuffed animal.
6. Sing silly songs together. Laughter heals all.
7. Build a "snuggle nest" (huge pile of blankets and pillows) and snuggle, sing together, read together, nap together, watch movies, etc.
8. Plan a special art project to do together. (see ours from today, above)
9. Play "Couch I Spy" - just like regular I Spy but from the comfort of the couch - if you can see a window you can include things outside too.
10. Talk. About everything, and nothing, and all the things you haven't taken the time to ask about or talk about during the normal hustle and bustle of healthy life.

What do you do with your kids to make sick days a little more fun? I would love to hear your ideas too!

Linked up to Linky Parties:
Pincushion Creations
Tip Junkie handmade projects

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Re-Purposed and Grown Up

A had a very girly, very pink baby nursery. When she started becoming more of a little girl, I re-did her room (adorable owl theme - and blue walls...I think I had enough of the pink). I sold and donated some of her nursery decor items but a few of them I held onto to re-purpose (even though I didn't know yet what for). This is one of those items I kept.

I loved this coat hanger in her nursery. I love what it said, and it just fit with the sweet pink theme that was going on in there. (I searched my computer files and could not find the before picture of this - not sure what happened to it. So I found this pic of the exact same  print. The only difference is mine didn't have a frame and it had hooks for a coat rack. But the design/saying/colors are identical.)

I had many ideas of what I wanted to do with this, but ultimately, I decided it needed a home in the playroom. Here is what I did to it:

Bright blue paint, white letters, some flower detail, and of course a little bling for her majesty. Screwed the hooks back on and voila! Easy enough.

I think it turned out cute. Fun and bright - and much more grown up (kid grown up...) than the sweet babyish decor it once was. And best of all, it serves a purpose! It is perfect for hanging up dress up clothes, and while it doesn't hold all of them (hence the bin below it), it highlights some of A's favorite dresses. I love functionality. Ultimately it was a little sad to cover up those sweet words, but I like knowing they are still under there and I LOVE that I was able to re-purpose something that no longer worked for us.

What items have you re-purposed? I'd love to hear about them!

Linked up to Linky Party:

Pincushion Creations

Monday, March 12, 2012

10 Reasons the Sock Bun has changed my life...and will change yours too!

One of my {many} favorite things about Pinterest are the amazing hair tutorials I find. I am generally a pretty low maintenance girl in the beauty department. The hubby will tell you it takes me forever (in guy time) to get ready {my hair takes a long time to dry and my waves need's out of my control!}, but I don't fuss with fancy hair styling on the average day, or wear much makeup. 

Pinterest has taught me to do some of the things I like, without all the high-maintenance work...shortcuts really. One of the best tutorials I have found is this sock bun tutorial (they are not all the same method - and this is not the sock bun curls method - which made me look like I stuck my finger in a light socket...not my best look. Maybe I need to give it one more try to rule out user error). I have also done the sock bun by keeping the sock unrolled and putting it over my ponytail like a tube, then rolling it from the top down - both ways work for me. It takes an otherwise skimpy sloppy potentially boring style and gives it lots of volume, with some sophistication and class. It can be as polished or as messy bed-head {see photo below!} as you want. It is awesome. And as dramatic as it sounds, it has truly been life-changing.

Here are 10 reasons why:

It is EASY. You can do this style in literally 30 seconds {once you have it mastered}.
2. It is awesome for trying to stretch hair an extra day between shampoos {the last stylist I saw said I should only be washing my hair 2-3 times per week! He said my hair would actually adjust and produce less oil. I'm not quite there, but I am trying to go longer stretches when I can}
3. It is great for a working mom who wants a quick polished style.
4. It is great for a stay-at-home mom who wants any style a quick way to feel pulled together.
5. It makes me feel like I have voluminous hair out of a magazine ad. I have to reach back and feel my bun several times per day in awe of it's size girth oh you know what I mean.
6. It is a fabulous way to recycle a sock that has lost it's mate.
7. I get lots of compliments on it. I love telling people there is a sock on my head and watching their faces.
8. You could get away with doing your hair the night before and would just need a few quick bobbypin touch-ups to it in the morning. {I have not tried this per say, but when I tried the disastrous sock bun curls, I noticed before I took the bun out how well it had stayed in place after sleeping on it all night}
9. It can multi-task - it's the "do" for all occasions. Kid's dance class, date night, girl's night, client meeting, job interview, trip to the zoo, lazy day, busy get the idea.
10. It is Pacific NW winter weather friendly. We live in a climate with lots of rain. My hair does fine in this when it is left to it's curly/wavy devices. But most of the time I prefer to straighten or curling iron it, which does not bode well on wet days. This style stays in place, doesn't frizz out, and feels more pulled together than a ponytail.

There you have it, my 10 reasons for loving the sock bun almost as much as nap time. Let me know if this works as good for you!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pinterest Crayon Art

If you are on pinterest, then I'm sure you have seen this or something like it a bazillion times by now. From the moment I saw it I knew I was going to make one for the playroom.

I gathered my supplies (crayons, canvas, glue gun, hair dryer) and got started.

I hot glued all my crayons on in a rainbow-ish order...

And then, I broke out the hair dryer. I gather my kids around for the show...and had no anticipation that it would take SO long! After 2 minutes, my almost 2yr old of course lost interest and ran off to something else. My almost 4yr old lasted about 15 minutes and then she got antsy too and was off to something more interesting. I envisioned this project with my kids, their little eyes in awe at the melting crayons... Instead, I was sitting by myself on the kitchen floor over a large piece of cardboard, holding a crayon canvas and a hair dryer for what felt like hours. 

First I didn't do it right - I didn't know there was a "right" way and none of the tutorials mentioned there was. Apparently I was supposed to just know this, so incase any of you are not experts at crayon melting I will share what I learned. First, do not put the hair dryer at an angle. This created splatter everywhere. I am ok with some of it, but I quickly realized that was the very messy way to proceed (turning the hair dryer on high vs. low makes this worse...I kind of knew that would happen but I was getting impatient). It also made the colors want to go off to the side and not straight down from the crayon. I figured this out quickly luckily. You want to aim it directly straight on at the crayon and hold it pretty much ON the crayons.  Holding it this close will also make it go MUCH MUCH MUCH faster. I think I was 30 minutes in before I discovered this and it made a world of difference. The other thing, I originally focused on the crayon tip. Don't do that. Focus a little lower than center of the crayon - it really made things flow better. 

I had started on the right side of my board and by the time I got to the left side I had the system down. So much so that I decided to try going back to the starting side and re-melt some of the crayon to make it look better. Well, that was a great idea...except my hair dyer quit. You can see where there is a tiny bit of white space between the drips and crayons on the purple and part of the blue...this is what I was trying to fix. I thought it had over heated, but nope, the crayon melt project ended up being a bit more expensive and cost me a hair dryer. Oh well, we got a fun piece for the playroom out of it. I love how it turned out and the kids had that awe in their eyes I had been hoping for finally... once it was done. I will not likely be doing this project again, but I am really glad I did it once. How many dripping crayon art canvases do you need anyway?