A Birthday Party for My Sweet Boy

Posted by on Mar 27, 2012 | 7 comments

My son, Jack, is 3.

Pardon me while I pause and soak that in…

What is it about 3?  I was just saying to my mom that it seems like 3 is a big birthday.  With both my oldest, and now Jack, they seem to flip a switch and all of a sudden they are their own person with their own quirks.  Jack is blooming into his own little self, and it’s fascinating to watch.  He is a super sweet little boy, and is also becoming more OF a boy each day.

So let me start this series by just saying (and perhaps emphasizing) this:

I am usually not a party person.

When I say that, I mean that I do not usually get into the perfection aspect of parties that you can easily get swept into.  I think it’s totally fine for people to throw a Pinterest-worthy party, as evidenced by the fact that this one *might* (or might not) qualify as semi-Pinterest worthy.  Up until now, though, I never thought I’d even want to venture forth and try one.  Now that I am not getting paid to do the work I love (being home with my kids), I thought it would be fun to put some effort into a party and see if it feels “worth it” in the end.  Today I’m just going to give you some highlights, and then in upcoming posts I’m going to give you all the deets on where I got my ideas (hellllo- Pinterest {okay maybe some were just my own}), what I liked/didn’t like in the end, etc.

I need to send a big thank you to my friend and fellow blogger, Tonya of Create-Celebrate-Explore.   Tonya is an amazing woman, and she takes amazing pictures.  She so nicely sent me many of the photos she took at the party.  If you see a picture that says, “Thank you, Tonya” on it, she took it and I cannot take credit.  I did just get a new camera, but at this party I had not received it yet, so PicMonkey (something I also found through Tonya) is helping me out, too.

Onto the photos.  These are just highlights- more to come!

Invitations were from Shutterfly.

Birthday Balloon Wreath

(this will be a family tradition for us now)

Streamers- these were really fun to make!  More on them soon…

We had a Scavenger Hunt for the kids- it was super cute.

Cupcakes are always easiest, and…

Candy pops, to boot!

Lastly, balloons.  Ah, how my little boy loves balloons!

See you tomorrow when I’ll start spilling sources, how-tos, and more!


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Operation Organization: Pouches for Toys

Posted by on Mar 21, 2012 | 2 comments

I fit some sewing in a few weeks ago and am so happy with what I ended up with.  My kids had a few toys that needed to be contained.  Some blocks that needed a better/cuter home than a Ziploc bag, and Connectagons from my mom at Christmas time.

I knew just where to go for what I needed.  My friend Kari’s blog, Handmade Mommy, has a lovely tutorial on fishing reel drawstring bags.  I thought they’d be perfect for the kids because they are easy to open and shut, and you can make them whatever size you need.  Here’s my final product:

Aren’t they cute?  I lined the inside with white flannel just to keep them a bit thicker and sturdy.

These blocks look so much better in a cute bag, don’t you think?

Thanks so much for the tutorial, Kari!

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Operation Organization: Art Station

Posted by on Feb 10, 2012 | Comments Off on Operation Organization: Art Station

I realize that this is not rocket science.  It’s a simple plastic bin with labels.  But I LOVE to see how other people organize their crap, so I thought I’d share what I did in this situation.

I was going absolutely bonkers.  For reals.

As I mentioned in my recent post about Anna’s mail slot, she is a very creative little girl.  She comes up with crazy Tinker-Toy creations, she builds amazing things with blocks (engineer, architect perhaps?), and loves, loves, loves to draw.  She loves art so much that I have to throw things away on the sly, lest our house become a fire hazard of paper.   I’m still working on a system to determine what stays and what goes, but what was more pressing was how to contain her supplies and her completed work.

I mention in my “About Nat” page that I am a practical crafter.  While I LOVE looking at DIY art stations with cute, color coordinated tubs, repurposed antique holders and such, that is not me.  If I put a lot of energy into something that is likely to get used, abused and tired, it will make me mad/frustrated/annoyed if it doesn’t hold up, stay perfect and pristine.  So with something like this, I like to go with easy, plastic bins from Wal-Mart.

I think this thing cost about $17.  I may get another when Jack gets more into art, but right now I’m lucky if I can keep up with the sticker trail he leaves all over our house.  He has one coloring book right now.  That’s all he needs.

What I like about this thing is it can only hold so much, so every once in a while I go through and downsize to prevent further insanity.

I started with simple labels on the drawers.  From top to bottom they read:

  • All done!
  • Not done & Blank Paper
  • Coloring Books & Stickers
  • Art Supplies
  • Activity Books

The labels however, did not stick to the plastic bins- they kept curling up.  So I sliced up a scrap of paper and stuck them to the paper.  Then I used some adhesive squares to stick them to the drawers, and now they stay nice and flat.

The art supply drawer is great:

The kids can pull out a tub (Target $1 section- they always have these) of crayons or markers, take them to the table, and then put them away easily (in theory).  Or, in reality, when it’s time for dinner, it doesn’t take me forever to get their crap out of the way. 😉

I’m sure there are cuter ways to do this- if you have one, please do show me.  If I see something too cute to resist I may do something different, but for now, plastic bins rule this particular roost.



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Anna’s Mail Slot

Posted by on Feb 8, 2012 | Comments Off on Anna’s Mail Slot

My daughter, Anna, loves two things:  art and mail.  She’s a very creative little soul, and she likes nothing more than the thought of sending one of her creations to someone far away, whether it’s a friend in town or her cousin, Paul, in Kansas.

We were getting to the point where I needed to have a system for her because she would give me a piece of paper and tell me it needed to be mailed to (insert name here).  I’d set it down, and then days later she’d ask if I sent the paper, and I’d have no idea which one she meant.  So I whipped up this little mail slot and stuck it on the side of her art station, which I’ll talk about more later.  I love it because it works AND it doesn’t take up a lot of space.  Would a little mailbox be cuter?  Yes.  Would it get lost, in the way, trampled and tripped on, too?  Yes.

Now, when she has something to send, she gets to stick it in her mail slot, and I can ask her who it’s supposed to go to when I get mail ready to send.  You’ll see in the photo on the right she’s stuck in a special drawing for someone. :)

I’d like to say this is a tutorial, but I came up with it so fast that I didn’t take totally detailed pictures.  The light is very wonky, too- it was too hot to have the kitchen shades up (in January!) so the light is very yellow.  Better to have weird lighting than no lighting at all…

You will need:

  • three sheets of 12×12 scrapbook paper (ignore my four sheets there- I had one extra).  I went with traditional red, white, and blue to mimic our postal service, but you could make them whatever color you like.  (I really wanted to find some air mail paper but had no luck.)
  • You could easily do this with glue or a glue stick, but I found zips adhesive strips to be super fast and less messy in this case.
  • I also used adhesive squares.
  • Some decorative letters are also nice, but not necessary.

Take the paper that you are going to use as the front of the slot and cut it in half diagonally as shown below.  I used a ruler to eyeball it because it won’t fit in my paper cutter.  Do NOT paste them together yet.

With your trim color, cut yourself five (not four as shown below- see?  Horrible tutorial!) 1-inch strips, and fold them in half.  Crease them so that they are folded very precisely.

If you’re using a glue stick you’ll take the diagonal edge of one of your triangles- the edge that will go where the mail will enter the slot.  This will be the covered-up edge, so you don’t need to cover the whole edge.  I would probably apply the glue to the white strip (nice and thick) and then press down. Let dry, flip it over, and glue the other side of the white strip down.

For the zips, you can see I cut a length just a bit shorter than the white and then pressed it down.  Turn over, repeat.

Either way, trim the extra off after it’s set.

This is what you end up with:

Now you can adhere the blue/front pieces together at the bottom.

Put your red/back piece behind the blue/front pieces that are now glued together.  Use your remaining white strips to trim the bottom and sides.  You will have to trim here and there to make it all flush at the corners.  This is where the zips came in super handy, but if you don’t have them, I’m sure glue will work fine.  Just be sure to use a heavy-duty glue in case your kid wants to send lots of mail. :)

Stick some letters on if you want/have them,  and you’re done!  Anna loves having this, and it has taken one more thing off the counter.

Do you want some fun mail?  I have about a bazillion pieces of art I could send you….


Today I’m sharing on:


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Felt Obsession

Posted by on Jan 3, 2012 | Comments Off on Felt Obsession

This project was a little toooo fun for me.  And for my mom.

Did you play with these when you were little?  If you’re a child of the mid- to late-70s, you may have.  They are flat, sort of like a glorified paper doll/Flat Stanley.

They are called “Twigs and Wigs” dolls, and after a little research I found that they are not made anymore, so I have officially dubbed them “cool retro dolls.”  We had 3, perhaps because I am one of three {awesome} girls.  My sisters and I wore them out!  They came with felt clothes that were uber-easy to put on and take off, which is one reason we loved them so much.  After a visit last winter where Anna played with the old, tired clothes, my mom and I decided to give them a new wardrobe and then give them to Anna at Christmas.  We started during my parents’ visit in late-September, but I finished them up just before we left for Christmas.  Before I go on, check it out- they even had a patent number and everything- aren’t they official?

Felt is addictive.  Not as addictive as Pinterest, but pretty addictive.  It’s so easy to work with, sews nicely, and just feels yummy under your fingers.  We used the old hair-do’s and clothes to make templates, but then I tried to add some new flare to the clothes.  The following pictures are not everything we made, but a nice sampling:

(not so happy with the hat, but Anna loves it)

(the rainbow shirt is my favorite)

Here a few dolls dressed and ready for action:

To keep everything together I also made a little bag with a divider in it so she can put them all away when she’s done (in theory, of course).

She’s played with them several times since Christmas- she loves them.

(Side note:  can anyone tell me when the “I can’t smile for the camera” phase ends?  And yes, that’s my arm tickling her, trying to get her to smile a natural smile…)

Linking up to:

Today’s Creative Blog

Todays Creative Blog

Ta-Da Tuesday @ Mommy By Day, Crafter By Night


Hookin’ Up with HoH!



Fingerprints on the Fridge

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Christmas Week: Some Decorations {and a FAIL}

Posted by on Dec 15, 2011 | 1 comment

Today I thought I’d share with you a few random things I am loving.  I will also show you a Crafting Crazy fail.  Woo hoo!

Let’s start with the cute stuff.

Have you seen these at Target?

 If you missed them this year, and you have a pre-K kid, be sure to get them next year.  I snatched some up and somehow got them home without Anna seeing them.  Everyone once in a while over the last few weeks when I need to keep her occupied, I have pulled out one of these.  Next year I will grab every single one- at $2 each, they are a deal.  They really work fine motor skills, but are also fun.  And the pictures make it easy for the kids- they just refer to it to see what to do.  Here’s Anna’s handiwork:

We also did snowmen and penguins.  They are super cute.  Anna insists that they be together on the tree so they don’t get lonely.  Cuteness.

Do you have any favorite Christmas decorations?  I asked Michael what his favorite was, and he told me this story of a paper mache nativity scene that he loved growing up because you could take the gifts out of the three wise men’s hands and put them back.  You had to be there, but it was super funny.

My aunt sent me this little guy several years ago and I still look forward to finding him a spot every year.  This year he’s on our shelf in the kitchen.  I love that his little legs dangle, all the buttons…

…but I especially love his little painted face.  So cute!

And just in case you think my house is spotless or perfect, check out what’s keeping him company.  This shelf is almost always a mess.

And here we are at the Craft Fail. Get ready to laugh…

So, Anna loves crafts.  She loves to draw.  She loves to make stuff.  It’s hard to keep up with her sometimes.  I bought her these fuzz balls for her birthday.  Her birthday is in May.  Whoops.  I’ve been putting her off since then because I wasn’t really sure what to do with the fuzz balls.  I decided to give this a shot, and while I think the concept could work, I need to rethink my supplies and technique a huge tad.  Not a wee tad- a HUGE tad.

Here’s how it went:

Gather fuzz balls and a four-year-old.  Be sure you shove your hand in a basket full of fuzz balls- it’s so nice!  (Heh.)  No really, they are soooo soft.

As you can see above, I had Anna find all the green, red and white ones.  There were a lot.


Below you can see our progress.  We selected the largest styrofoam tree form- probably my biggest mistake.  I painted the glue on and then Anna would stick them on.  We set it on wax paper to keep the glue off the table, and I was hoping once all was dry it would just peel off.


Here’s the problem:  we ran out of Christmas colors.  So instead of a cute, fuzzy Christmas tree we have a psychedelic fuzz ball mess.  I also need to look into getting one size.  This thing is a nightmare to look at.  I kind of want to cry looking at it.  The real kicker, though, is that Anna LOVES it.  I don’t have the heart to get rid of it.  I’m tempted to take all the fuzz balls off and start over.  Who knows.  At least Anna likes it.  :)



Tomorrow I have one more thing to share before the holidays and then I’m taking a 2-week break from blogland.  Can’t wait to come back with more fun stuff!


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