Thursday, September 18, 2008

Transforming a child's rocker

Three years ago when we moved here, a lady from church gave us this little rocker for our children. Her grandchildren had outgrown it and she thought our kids might get some more use out of it. Of course, my kids thought this was the neatest thing.


There was one problem - it didn't match any room in my house. Not one! So it got shoved into corners here and there as we rearranged rooms.

Then my husband got the idea for me to re-cover the cushions in John Deere fabric leftover from the quilt, so it would match our son's room. That's a great idea ... but when was I going to get the time to do it?

Well, since I had the sewing machine out today and had just finished sewing all the hems to my daughter's tent that I had pinned last night, my husband figured I must be done sewing tents for the day. :) So he brought this out and said, "Sometime maybe you could do this chair." I knew that meant, "Could you please do it now? Pretty please?" And since he was so kind in helping out around the house while I did it, well, I went ahead and did it! It was a piece of cake.

I also sewed that little pillow on it, as well as a (much) larger pillow for my son's bed.

So, what do you think? A huge improvement, right? It will look great in his room now, and we just made some room for it last night.

Oh, but wait. My sister would know I wasn't "telling all" if I didn't tell you that I was ready to throw away my sewing machine until around 2:00 this afternoon. You see, somehow the bobbin casing [the black plastic part that actually holds the bobbin] had come out last night when I tried to sew on that Velcro.

Would you believe that I have misplaced the manual for my sewing machine? It's probably in a box at my parents' house - a box I have not touched in the nearly six years I've been married. As a result, I had no visuals of how to put it back in. I'm mostly a visual and hands-on learner. So I messed with it for hours trying to force it into a spot it was never meant to go into.

To make a long story short, I called my sister and quizzed her at length about what hers looks like (it's somewhat similar to my machine). Fortunately she mentioned just the right things, and I was finally able to get it back in working order, with some help from my husband. I have the best sister (and husband)!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

2008 Christmas Project #1: Pajamas - Done!

As I mentioned yesterday, I didn't have to do much to these today other than put in zippers and sew necklines and casings. The kids saw them (thank goodness they have poor memories when it comes to these things) and wanted to try them on. They are so unbelievably cute!!
I had these mostly done last year when I bruised the bone in my foot and was put out of commission until after Christmas, so I really wanted to get them done this year - while the kids can still fit them. These will be their matching Christmas Eve pajamas.

My sister gave me the idea of using a flannel sheet to make them. A friend gave me several flannel sheets that had some paint on them here and there. I was able to make both of these from one fitted sheet (with the elastic taken out), even working around the paint spots. I have the flat sheet yet, and I might just make next year's Christmas pajamas out of that.

My second project for Christmas this year is the kids' tents. I was able to cut them out and get started on the sewing of my daughter's tent tonight. My sewing machine didn't like the Velcro very well, so I have to look up online how to put my bobbin casing back into the sewing machine ... And I think I'm going to forget any Velcro closures for now!

I was pretty surprised, though, at how easy these tents are. The hardest part is making the pattern (there are complete, detailed instructions in the book) and cutting them out. The rest is basic hemming and making seams.

If I get enough done tomorrow, I might post a preliminary sneak peek. I'll have to wait until I pick up the PVC pipes to post final pictures (probably later in the week), but I promise I'll do it as soon as I can. I'm pretty excited about them!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Christmas planning

I've noticed I'm not the only one in blogosphere that's thinking ahead to Christmas, as you'll see by the links below.

I stumbled upon The Houseworks Holiday Plan at Organized Christmas. It's free, has lots of helpful printables, and it takes you from the first week of September through New Year's. Go check it out - you can thank me later! :)

This past week was "Calendar and Creativity Week," and I've been inspired to clean up my craft space (i.e. my scrapbook room) and look into some projects I'd like to make for Christmas.

With all of that looking, of course I ran across gobs of great ideas whose instructions are free for the using on the good old Internet. So, without any further ado, here are some of the best ideas I found for homemade Christmas gifts ...

For the seamstress

  • If I had a dog (or cat), I’d be sewing this pet bed!
  • Why buy a grocery bag dispenser when it’s so easy to make your own? I’m thinking about making a few of these for gifts, if I get the chance. (Ours is in desperate need of a replacement, too!)
  • Here’s a nice heating pad that’s cheap and easy to sew.
  • Make some headbands for the girls on your list.
  • I always wanted one of those roll-up cases for my crochet hooks, but I didn’t want to spend the money for them. Now (if I ever again find my large collection of crochet hooks) I can make my own!
  • Here’s a cute apron for kids who like to help out in the kitchen.
  • Do you know a little boy who likes to be a super hero? This cape would be a perfect, easy, inexpensive gift!
  • Here's a great gift idea for kids who like to color on the go.
  • I’ll have to convert the metric to our measurements, but this notebook and pencil holder is a project after my own heart! If I get any extra time on my hands, I’ll probably be trying a few of these.
  • Did you ever want a customized wallet? This might be fun!
  • Do you know any mother who couldn’t use one of these backseat organizers? Here’s one you can make yourself. The bonus: use any fabric you want to personalize your vehicle!
Other craft-type gifts

  • This soap dispenser is the perfect gift for a friend who decorates country-style (or yourself, if you decorate country-style)!
  • Here's a great idea for a recipe card holder– decorate to your heart’s content!
  • Wool dryer balls? I’d never heard of them before, but if using them means I don’t need any more fabric softener, I’m interested!
  • I need to make a hair bow holder like this! The one I’m using for my daughter can’t hold all the bows, and it’s not nearly as decorative.
  • And if you don’t already have an overflowing boatload of hair bows, here's how you can make some more!
  • Learn how to make a beautiful etched glass canister– with no etching involved!
  • Here’s a card portfolio that looks pretty easy. If you’re not the cardmaking type, you could put a gift of pretty storebought (or computer-designed) stationery inside!


And just in case you need to make identical gifts for gobs of people, check out these decorated water bottles!

Are you inspired yet? I wish I could share two other links with you, but I can't find the exact same thing online. I found them in Singer's Quick & Easy Sewing Projects book that I picked up at a thrift store.

The first is a children's teepee. It's something like this, but a lot easier! My kids are forever making tents out of my furniture, so I'd like to make these for them and eliminate a lot of the mess!

The second is a child's bath poncho, made from large bath towels. It's something like this, but the book's instructions make a puppy poncho.

So ... have you thought yet about Christmas? Are you working on making anything yet? I'd love to hear about it if you are!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Some great ideas you might like ...

It has been awhile since I did a "link round-up," and since nothing spectacular happened today, I thought I'd post this:

First of all, some craft-type projects:



  • Here's a project that takes decorated candles to the next level. Isn’t she good?!

  • A composition book someone else did. I love the concept of a reading journal for a young child! Wouldn’t it be neat to look back and know how old you were when you read certain books? (I distinctly remember reading the unabridged version of Black Beauty several times when I was in 3rd grade.)

  • We don't "do" Halloween at our house, but this is a cute idea that could easily be adapted to any holiday!

  • Here's a cute homemade gift idea for any of the winter holidays. This would also make a great hostess gift!

And lastly, here's a great idea for those of us who like to over-organize our holidays!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Our homeschool room

As promised, here are the pictures of our combination homeschool/guest room. We didn't originally have the furniture configured this way. My husband got the idea to move all the "guest room" furniture to one half of the room and all the "homeschool" furniture to the other half. The result was absolutely perfect!

Here is the desk where my son sits (I need to remember a step stool to put under his feet):

This is to the right of the desk. I got the alphabet train, calendar and weather charts from Dollar Tree. The dresser (that previously held nothing but air for the 99% of the year that we didn't have week-long guests) now holds art supplies, math manipulatives, and flashcards.


I don't have a traditional chalkboard or whiteboard yet, so we're using this Little Tikes easel, which has a green chalkboard on the other side. I'll eventually have to do something different, though, because it's really hard to write on the chalkboard.


I put this construction-zone ("Learning Zone") bulletin board border around the door because my son loves all things construction. I got the border from Dollar Tree.


And here is the other side of the room, designated for guest room "stuff":


And before I go, let me point out one more awesome feature of this room - the slanted ceilings. I needed to make my own number chart since this one was missing from the packet I bought secondhand. Rather than buy a piece of posterboard and draw something, I decided to use what I already had - a bunch of cute cutouts and bulletin board numbers (all from Dollar Tree) - and make a "chart" directly on that slanted ceiling. It worked great!

These pictures don't include the bookshelf that my husband found at the thrift store for $2 yesterday - when he dropped off a bunch of donations. We had just talked the night before about keeping our eyes out for a good deal on a bookshelf since I have a lot of books in the homeschool room. Talk about a fast answer to prayer!

Homeschooling: First day of kindergarten!

Today was our first day of school! I shouldn't have been surprised when my son woke up an hour earlier than usual and insisted we get up - NOW! Unfortunately, he went to bed an hour later than usual the night before.

Needless to say, I had one very cranky child on my hands. He was determined not to be happy until we were seated in our schoolroom and ready to go. So this is the first happy picture of him all morning. But hey - he's really happy, so I guess it was worth the wait!



My daughter spent the morning in the schoolroom with us since my husband had to do some calling this morning. (His plan is to watch her for me while my son and I homeschool. We shall see ...) She was the typical 2-year-old, pestering for snacks, jumping off the bed, turning her table and chair over ... But she seemed to enjoy herself and actually participated with a few of the songs and actions.



And here is my right-hander trying his best to stay in the lines while coloring left-handed. I tried to show him how to hold the crayon with his right hand, since the doctor said he could write. For some reason, he didn't "get it" until later in the morning. Better late than never!



Speaking of "better late than never," what do you think showed up at our doorstep an hour after we had finished homeschooling for the day? Yep, you guessed it - the homeschool books I had been waiting on. I was relieved that the delivery didn't take the extra week that had been projected!

Tomorrow I'll share pictures of our homeschool/guest room.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Good deals and roses, too!

Today didn't go anything like I had planned, but I guess that's okay now and then.

First of all, I took my son to the doctor hoping to get his cast off. But no, it needs another two weeks or so. They didn't even give him a shorter cast like they had said last time. Oh well! It's probably for the best anyway.

Then we stopped by Michael's on the way home because I had been told that some of their summer merchandise was 90% off a few days ago. I wasn't expecting much because not many good deals last at those prices, but here's what I got for under $10:



  • 10 kits to decorate plain birdhouses (for Cousin Camp next year) - $0.19 each
  • 1 pkg clear swirl stamps, larger than what I already have - $3.00 (not on 90% clearance, but still a good deal)
  • a decorative box for gift-giving - $0.49 (ditto)
  • a spool of ribbon that looks just like a road, for my little boy cards - $1.00 (another ditto on the price)
  • 4 sheets grape rub-ons - $0.09 each (These should match my sister-in-law's kitchen, so I'll have to think of something to make her for Christmas.)
  • 3 tall lavendar pillar candles - $0.25 each (I needed some pillar candles to go with some gifts, so this was perfect timing!)
  • 2 wooden "paper doll"-style magnetic doll sets - $0.39 each (Designed to be colored and then played with, they have markers and a paint pen included with each doll and 3 sets of clothing. These are going into the Cousin Camp prize box for next year!)




Then I got home and found these beautiful roses on my dining room table, courtesy of my Secret Sister. It was a belated birthday gift. Aren't they gorgeous?!



In the end, I wasn't able to start homeschooling today. My books didn't come and I didn't feel prepared enough to start without them. So I spent the rest of the day getting the homeschooling room/guest room in order for school tomorrow, as well as planning alternative plans until my school books get here.

So school starts tomorrow, bright and somewhat-early. I'll have a full report tomorrow!

Monday, September 1, 2008

New-to-Kindergarten Gift

We're spending the day with a fellow pastor and family today. Since their daughter is just one day older (or is it younger?) than my son, and since they are also beginning homeschooling this year, I decided to take a little "new to kindergarten" gift along for her.

Thanks to those wonderful school supply sales, my out of pocket for this gift was next to nothing. But it's something my son would love, and if I have her pegged right, she should love it, too. :) Not only that, she starts school tomorrow, just like I'm planning with my son. (So long as our book order makes it before the afternoon.)

First of all, I decorated a composition book with her first initial on it. It's not the fanciest composition book I've ever made, but I liked it and it worked for the time frame I had. I was going to add some of that gingham ribbon to the spine, but it wouldn't stick. Oh well!



Then I decorated a spiral-bound notebook using a picture from a doll catalog and her name printed on the computer. She loves her dolls like my little girl does, so she should really like this, too!



And here's the final gift all packaged and ready to go:



Contents: a decorated composition book, decorated spiral-bound notebook, pencils, colored pencils, washable markers, crayons, pencil cap erasers and glue - all in the perfect matching "basket" that I picked up this last week for $0.30.

I thought about rolling the pencils in glue and then in glitter, but I wasn't sure how that would affect the sharpening process. I'll have to see what I can find out about that because it would sure jazz up those $0.10 pencil packs I got at Staples!!

I hope you had a relaxing and enjoyable Labor Day!