At one time I had 2 criteria for making things:  1.  It must be useful and 2. It must be cute.  Well now that I have a very smart, very cool kid, “useful” has a whole new meaning.  Last week what I needed, and I mean  NEEDED, was trees.  Of the small sort.  Diorama sized.  I’ve tried and failed at making great trees on several occasions, but this time I really meant business.  So I came up with a pretty hearty, long lasting solution for anyone out there who just must have trees for their diorama or fairy cottage or toddler small world play.  I did this tutorial during nap time, so my blurry, discolored, step by step pictures are missing a step or two, but hopefully the directions are pretty straight forward and you’ll figure out what to do.  These trees stand up straight, let me tell you.  They’re super versatile and inexpensive to make.  And guess what.  My little person loves them!

 

DIY Tree Graphic

Materials:

– Fake foliage (the smaller the leaves the better)

– Cardboard (got mine from a diaper box)

– Round wooden wheels (small tree cookies with holes drilled into them would also work really well).

– Green, brown, or sand-colored felt, depending on your “scene”

– A glue gun.

– Wire snippers.  They will make your life easier.  Get some at the dollar store if you don’t have any.

How To Trees 1

 

Step 1.

Cut your cardboard into about 5″ squares.  Hot glue your wooden disks onto the center of the cardboard, preferably on the side that has the picture/words on it.  Do not cut your felt yet.

Step 2. 

Make hot glue strands in a radiating pattern from the center out, and make sure to get glue on the top of the disk.  Do about half of the cardboard square at a time. Place the felt over the cardboard, and use both hands to apply it good and wrinkly.  This is what will make the tree’s roots.  I promise that it makes for a much more natural looking set up in the end.  Do the other half.

How To Trees Step 2

Step 3.

Turn the cardboard over and cut the felt in an organic pattern, well away from the edge of the cardboard.  (I tried a few trees where I actually cut the cardboard in a wavy form and it was more trouble than it was worth, plus it made the trees a bit more wobbly).

How To Trees Step 3

Step 4.

Using an awl, or exact, or sharp scissors, poke a hole in the top of the wood disk.  Snip off a tree sized bunch of leaves from your fake foliage.  Stick the tip of the hot glue un into the hole and fill about half way.  Insert the foliage into the disk and hold upright until the glue sets.  Voila!  That’s it.  You just made a tree!  There are so many ways to customize this.

How To Trees Forest

You know that you’ve found the right career path when you take a 2 year break from your job and the only thing you want to do during that 2 years is get back on your original path.  Being a mom has been a beautiful, wonderful challenge.  I’m sure that some moms find it easier than I did to be crafty while caring for an infant, but for me, my crafty life pretty much skidded to a halt when our little one came along.  Every project was a struggle, plus I had the bonus fun of being in the middle of a really intense construction project that displaced all of my furniture.  It took a while to bounce back from the double shock of shifting focus to the needs of a baby and living amongst boxes and a chaos of furniture.

 

And clearly I got to a point where I just couldn’t juggle writing this blog with living my life.  So I took a break. What did I do during that break?  Ohh, not much, just opened up a brick and mortar shop, taught a bunch of crafty classes, made a bunch of friends, and watched my infant turn into an amazing toddler who talked almost as much and as clearly as I do by his 2nd birthday.   I have had a heck of a year, folks.  I’m sure that I will one day share all the details of how and why I opened my shop, and how and why I ultimately decided to close it up after a year, but for now I just want to say AHHHH,  it feels so good to be back in my studio and back at this blog once again.  I’ve missed it more than words can say. And I’ve got a tutorial coming for you.  Cos I’m jumping right back in where I left off.

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Dreaming up a busy board

posted on May 22, 2013

I’m building a busy board this week! What is a busy board? It is a place for busy little hands and minds to occupy themselves while practicing motor skills. You can buy plastic, blinky lights versions at Walmart or Target, and you can pretty easily make your own with latches, locks, knobs, etc. You can also buy semi homemade versions on Etsy. I, of course, am opting to make my own. I want something for G that will not just entertain him now. My goal is for his toys to last a really long time and have open ended use. Which is why I can’t JUST make a busy board. Nope. It has to have some fuel for the imagination. Gaspar’s busy board will be a combination of fun things to manipulate and spin plus a spaceship control center for later on when his imagination kicks in. Take a look at my inspiration.

Isnt it adorable? This is my manipulation/ function inspiration. It has a bell, buttons, magnifying glass, wheel, spinning things, shiny things, so many elements for busy hands! (Click on any photo to visit the source).

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So that is my function inspiration. My design inspiration comes from old control panels. Like the ones you’d find in a Soviet rocket ship. Or a submarine. Or a zeppelin. Feast your eyes.

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I mean, a control panel would come in handy for a ten year old, am I right? I’m having SO MUCH FUN with this! I’ve been digging through every drawer and box for things that can be something else. Here are two of my test runs- oh, and these are reference shots before I cleaned up my mess at the end of the day, so they’re rough and incomplete. But you get the idea.

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Almost everything so far has come from the junk drawer or the basement. I did make a couple of purchases, and so far I’ve spent less than $12. I bought a red calculator for a buck, and a meat thermometer for three bucks, but my biggest splurge was this set of faux vintage dials and gauges from Pork Chop Show on Etsy. I think they are genius and so perfect for this project! Now I just await my dials and then my control panel can finally come together!

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Mini Tutorial: Sleepyhead Headband

posted on May 21, 2013

Happy Tuesday everyone! Here’s a quickie for your morning bed head. I use my headband to hold my hair back when I wash my face, but this cutie is way stylin’ for wearing out of the house as well. I listed single fold bias tape in the materials, but if all you have is double fold you can just iron the center fold open, which is what I did. Enjoy!

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Baby Jungle Gym, Polly Danger Style

posted on May 16, 2013

I love living in Oregon. Like most people who move here from somewhere else, there are so many things I love about it that I’m willing to put up with 6 or more months of gloom and drizzle. When Gaspar was a widdle bitty baby (you know, like 3 months ago) it was nice to cuddle all day in bed or on the couch and kind of ignore the cold outside. And then overnight (actually over one week) he became a 5 month old toddler. He went from crawling to sitting up to standing almost instantly. And suddenly cuddling on the couch was a thing of the past. Suddenly I had this very mobile little person who wanted to go everywhere and climb on everything and do everything and it hasn’t stopped since. So cold weather got way less fun.

There are apparently indoor play spaces for kids here, but after tons of research I still haven’t felt comfortable taking him to any of them. They’re for toddlers, and Gaspar may be very active, but he’s not ready to get thrown in with big kids. So I started working on a play space of my own. A crawl tunnel, throw pouf, and a playpen makeover later, and I have a collapsable baby jungle gym that works amazingly well indoors as well as out. The other day I set up the whole shebang outside under a pop up canopy so that Gaspar could play while I did some gardening.


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Pack n play turned toddler lounge
I saw, and pinned, this interesting play pen mod, but I didn’t see a reason to cut up a perfectly good playpen. Until. Our precious, precious dog, Jojo, peed on the pack n play. So thanks to Jojo’s inability to see anything as off limits for pee we now have a really cool play nook lounge. And Gaspar really likes it! It’s the perfect height for climbing into and hanging onto.

How to:
1. Acquire a pack n play that you don’t mind modifying, or let your dog pee on your current pack n play.
2. Set up the pack n play and carefully cut the mesh out of one side. Get all the loose threads too.
3. Cover the mat with fun fabric and add pillows. I used a vinyl tablecloth since this is currently an outdoor set up (and also because I couldn’t entirely get the dog pee out of the mat- shhh don’t tell).
4. Attach the mobile, if you have it, and cover with a curtain. If you don’t have the detachable mobile then improvise. Some yarn attached in an X over the playpen would work fine. Also, I attached the curtain with binder clips because G was wiggling the fabric a lot.
That’s it! It’s one of the easier and more satisfying scissors-related makeovers I’ve ever done.

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Water-resistant picnic blanket
I made this bad boy early in spring so I could get us outside and in the semi sunshine when the grass was still kinda wet all the time. Water resistant picnic blankets are kinda pricey and never really that cute, so here’s a super cheap and super cute way to make your own (remember, I did this with a super active munchkin and few hours of sleep, so it’s totally doable for you too!

What you need:
– large vinyl table cloth (got mine at Walmart for $3.49 or something) get the biggest one you can find.
– cute vintage sheet.

Step 1.
Put baby in a pack n play, swing, etc. Put dogs outside. Maybe roll up the rug.
Lay the table cloth right on the floor, right side up. Lay the sheet on top, right side down. So, right sides are facing each other.

Step 2.
Pin together. The layers won’t match up exactly, but that’s okay. Pin anyway. Trim off the extra vinyl, or sheet, whichever has extra. Flip the whole thing over and check the back.

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Step 3.
Stitch all the way around, leaving a 12″ opening. Trim corners close to the seam. Then turn the whole thing inside out. At this point I would normally tell you to press the edges, but since we’re working with vinyl we’ll skip it this time.

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Step 4.
To be honest, I haven’t gotten to step 4. The weather got really nice and I just didn’t have time for silly things like top stitching. I just needed a picnic blanket quick! But for you, dear friends, nothing but the best. Just go ahead and stitch a top seam, trying to press the edges with your fingers as you go.

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Ever notice how when you start cleaning out a drawer you somehow end up hanging curtains or rearranging your shoes like twenty minutes later? That’s what happened to me today. Sort of. Remember my cute chalkboard painted drawers? Yeah, we’ll those were the cleanest part of my office and now they are almost completely covered by boxes. Sometimes you have to make a mess to clean things up, am I right? Well, that’s what I tell myself as I’m working, because if I didn’t make these messes then nothing would get done.

I had to take down the wall bracket shelving that was on another wall so that I can put my new stock-holding shelves in. So that meant moving all the junk off of the shelves and putting it . . . elsewhere. But the good news is that I now have two extra bracket shelves, and one of them is going upstairs to make a linen closet, because in my weird house there is no linen closet. So lets recap. Boxes everywhere, shelves upstairs and downstairs, sunroom still full of junk we could probably get rid of. Office in progress. But progress is good.

Please tell me I’m not the only one with a chain reaction kind of cleaning going on. Please, please tell me what house-cleaning, projects and nonsense is going on in your house!

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You know how Pinterest can be a vacuum of gorgeous projects that just get compiled and never accomplished? Yeah, welI I don’t roll that way. I have attempted at least half of all of my Pinned recipes and projects, which you can follow HERE. Except maybe the gardening ones because I don’t own a castle with attached conservatory and three hundred acres of pastoral English countryside. But I digress.

In our funky house you have to walk through the office to get to the bathroom. Ever since our floor debacle we’ve had two rooms whose floors were still too wonky for wood or Pergo, so all winter we’ve walked over a plywood subfloor, thinking, okay, we’ll get to that eventually. And all winter and spring I’ve gotten antsier and antsier to get back to work in my office. Finally one day I said (pardon my French) “Frick eventually!” Except I didn’t say “Frick”. And I decided to paint the plywood subfloors. So I Pinned a bunch of cute floors. And then I realized that what I thought was a shortcut was actually a longcut. So we bought vinyl flooring that looks exactly like the Pergo we have in the other rooms and I installed it over the crooked floor in about 2 hours. It was SO easy. So. Now I have a semi decent floor. Now I have to cram 2 rooms worth of work and craft stuff into one room (the sunroom is another story, friends. I only have so much time to tell you the nonsense that goes on on this house).

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Okay, NOWWWW, I can tell you about the drawers. Sadly I have no Before pictures. Sometimes, when the conditions are right you just have to get knee deep in your project and if the camera is upstairs on the bed, well,oh well. Anyway. Our good friend and once-mailman, Glen, gave us these cute vintage drawers from his childhood bedroom- how adorable is that?! And they were wood. Glen is a wood purist. He can tell you what kind of wood anything is made of. He strips antique furniture of bad paint jobs and restores it. So, I have always wanted to paint these, but felt really compelled to leave them alone, for Glen’s sake.

But now that I have dark floors in my office the wood dressers just were not going to work. Plus, the danger of keeping things in drawers in a craft room is that you forget what is where, and if there is one place that I simply cannot stand for disorganization, it is my craft room. So I made the decision to paint the drawers. With chalkboard paint. I found a recipe. Dragged my furniture outside. And painted a drawer. Aaaaaannd the project screeched to a halt as I discovered that the paint was rolling into ribbons of gunk. So I stopped and retried the next day. And now I will share my variation on chalkboard paint. Oh yes, and the finished, very cute dressers.

chalkboard paint dressers, complete with mommy-friendly instructions

materials
– 1 tablespoon non-sanded grout
– 1/2 cup paint (I used latex, but I hear this works for acrylic as well)
– Sprinkle of water
– Stirring stick
– Paintbrush or roller (do not use a foam brush! )
*Note: This was enough to paint 8 drawer fronts with 2 coats of paint and a bit left over. I painted the outsides with plain paint.

Step 1
Set up a playpen, bouncer, or swing outside, in the shade, near your work station, but don’t put baby in it until Step 2!
Put your non-sanded grout into a clean yogurt tub or Tupperware you don’t mind throwing away. Sprinkle a bit of water* into the grout and mix into a creamy consistency. Get rid of all the lumps. Add the paint and mix well. Cover your container and use within 24 hours.

*This is the big difference between my trial and error and the recipes I’ve found elsewhere. Most blogs suggest just mixing the grout into the paint. Um, no. The grout is really fine and tough to mix in well. Adding the bit of water and mixing the grout first gets rid of lumps and helps it mix in uniformly with the paint.

Step 2
Feed baby. Put baby down to nap. Do whatever it takes to get the wee one to a happy place. Then, and only then, should you move on.
Paint your surface, adding as many coats as you normally would.

Step 3
Once your surface is dry, go ahead and rub it down with chalk completely. Wipe it off with a dry rag and repeat. And that’s it! You are ready to use your chalkboard paint!

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