Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pom Pom Garland


Hey Y'all!  So, I've been absent lately.  Sorry! (for the 3 readers that probably noticed, that is!)  I've been busy with Thanksgiving, my birthday, fulfilling lots of etsy orders, crafting, and, to be totally honest, I just haven't felt like writing.  And I promise that you don't want to read what I write when I don't feel like writing. But, I'm back to share this cute little craft I've been working on while watching tv at night.  

Every year at Christmas time, we hang the stockings on the mantel above the fireplace.  And then I take them off.  I have to take them off, because we actually use our fireplace, and it gets too hot for our stockings to be hanging in front of them.  So this year, I decided to make garland that can be there all the time, and I'll hang our stockings up Christmas Eve.  
Our mantel is huge.  About 14 feet long.  It covers the fireplace, the tv, and our entertainment stuff.  So this project took me several nights of watching tv (the entire second season of The Walking Dead, to be exact) but hopefully won't take you as long, especially if you have a normal size mantel.  But it's not like it's hard work, or even tedious.  Just time consuming.  

Start off by making a ton of pom poms.  Here's how: 

First, you cut out two identical circles out of cardboard.  The bigger the circle, the bigger the pom pom.  
Then, you put the circles together and wrap yarn around it.  Make sure the ends are facing out, not inside the circle.  I used three pieces of yarn put together to help speed up the process.  Each piece of yarn was probably about 3 or 4 yards long. 

Keep wrapping it around until the circle is completely covered.  The more you wrap, the bigger and fuller your pom will be.
Here's the somewhat tricky part.  (Especially when you only have two hands and need to take a picture too!)  Cut the yarn along the outside.  You'll have to keep your hands on the inside where you've cut to keep it from falling everywhere. 
Once it's cut, slide a long piece of yarn between the two circles and tie it very tight.  Double knot it. 

You'll have some random long pieces so you'll need to give it a bit of a hair cut.  Fluff it up too. 


Once you have all the pom poms you'll need,
Take a needle and yarn and thread it through each one.  (Note the cute baby in the background.  He's not a necessary step in this process, but he makes everything more fun!)


I think this could also double as a really cute caterpillar!
Then I used some 3M removable clear plastic hooks, stuck them on the underside of the mantel, and hung the garland, spacing out the pom poms as needed. 

I think it's a fun, simple little project. 
I kind of love that it looks homemade and isn't perfect.
I still need to add a ton of Christmas decorations to the mantel, and the rest of the house, but I'll get there. 
"Seymour", our Elf on the Shelf even helped!
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

3

You guys are probably going to think I'm really weird, but whatever.  Somehow I figured out that for 3 days this week, I'll be 33, Eric will be 33, Jackson will be 3 and Gavin will be 3 months.  From November 25th (my birthday, when I turn 33) to November 28, (when Gavin turns 4 months).  I feel like we need to do something about it.  Like, go to Vegas and put it all on 3.  ("all" being, about $15)  What do you guys think?  What could we do?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mile High Momday: Traveling with young children

Air travel is a royal pain, no matter who you are flying with, but with young children, it's an anxiety attack just waiting to happen.  In Jackson's 41 months of life, he has been on an airplane over 20 times.  Gavin is three months old and has been on an airplane twice.  Air travel is one of the major downfalls of moving far away from your family.  I'm certainly no expert on air travel with kids, but I feel like I've done it enough to offer up some suggestions and also share my mistakes.
Gavin's first flight at two months
Traveling with babies
In my experience, babies are a piece of cake to travel with.  (It's the toddler that gives me hives.)  They are really just like an extra carry on, just make sure you have plenty of bottles if you bottle feed, and pacifiers, if you use those.  If you are nursing, even better.  Less stuff to carry.  I also always bring plenty of diapers, wipes and burp cloths, a change of clothes for baby, and some Tylenol, just in case.  (When Jackson was a baby, he spiked a scary high fever, mid air.  I was so thankful that I packed the Tylenol!)  I've learned to skip the stroller, and just wear the baby.  When the baby is a little bigger (too big to carry the whole time, but too small to walk on his own) I'll probably bring a small stroller again.  For us formula moms I buy a bottle of room temperature water once I'm past security, and make sure I have WAY more than enough formula to last the whole airplane ride.  You don't want to be stuck on the runway for hours and run out of formula! If you have an infant car seat waiting for you wherever you are traveling to, then leave your car seat at home, if not, check it with your bags. It's free with all airlines. 

Car seats
This is the most important piece of advice I can offer when traveling with a toddler.  Bring your car seat on the plane with you!  First of all, it's safer.  It's not required by law, but I strongly suggest it and here's why.  My son knows exactly what to expect and how to behave in his car seat.   He knows that you just sit there.  You can't get up and move around.  When he is in an airplane seat, with no car seat, he wants to get up and move around.  Even when, no, especially when, the fasten seat belt sign is on.  I've had him sit on my lap, he wants to get up.  I've had him in his own seat with the airplane seat belt on, he wants to get up.  In his car seat?  He sits.  I bought a car seat bag with wheels at Babies-R-Us like this one.  It has really helped to get around the airport.  The only behavior issues I've had with him on a plane were when we didn't buy a seat and put his car seat in it.  Speaking of buying a seat....

To buy a seat or not to buy a seat
Until they turn 2, your child can travel for free as a lap child.  You can purchase a seat for them, but it's not required.  After their 2nd birthday, you have no choice. And you pay full price.  We fully used "kids fly free until 2" to our advantage.  But we were still able to use our car seat tactic several times, without buying a seat.  When you check in, if the flight isn't fully booked, you can ask to be seated next to an empty seat, and they will let you put the car seat there.  They will probably make you wait until the last minute before they tell you it's okay, meaning that you'll have to carry the car seat all the way to the gate.  And there is a chance they won't give you a seat, so you'll have to gate check the car seat. I think it's worth lugging the seat all the way to the gate for a chance to have them in their car seat for the trip. 

Gate Passes
If you are traveling alone with young kids, I suggest asking your airline for a gate pass.  When you check in, you can ask for a pass for someone to go all the way to the gate with you.  They will only do this if the security level is low.  The person helping you will need to show ID at security, and about half the time I ask for a gate pass, they give me attitude about it.  But that's what gate passes are for, and it's a tremendous help to me, so I can deal with a little bit of attitude.

Try to not have layovers
You might think that a couple, shorter flights would be better than one big long flight.  But in my experience, that's not the case.  The hardest part is getting on and off the plane, so you want to do that as few times as possible. 

When to travel
You also might think that traveling late at night is best because then your child will sleep, but my experience has taught me to travel during the day, when you child is in a good mood.  When we have traveled at night, not only does my toddler not sleep because he's in a new place, doing new things, but he's also in a really foul mood.  Not a good combo. 

What to bring
In a word, everything.  I'm all about packing light and easy, but when you're traveling with a toddler, you don't want to run out of things to do or eat.  I try to pack a lot of different kinds of snacks, and buy a container of milk after security.  (You can actually go through security with a liquid when traveling with children, they will just have to test it.  I find it easier to just buy a new one.)  You're definitely going to want something to drink during take off and landing to help their ears pop.  You don't want to wait for them to serve beverages to get your little one a drink.  If your toddler still has a pacifier, definitely have it ready on the plane too.  Suckers can work instead of drinks of pacifiers too. 
 
As far as activities, one of my number one things to look for in an airline is if they have tv's.  The airline we usually fly has tv's on the back of every seat.  I have a pair of kid headphones that Jackson wears, and that will keep him happy for much of the trip.  It's the best $6 you will ever spend.  

I also make sure to have small things to keep his attention, in case he doesn't want tv.  Jackson isn't really into coloring, so I don't bring crayons, but he loves matchbox cars and planes, so I bring lots of those.  Books and small puzzles are fun too.  He is REALLY into airplanes and how they work, so he honestly spends most of his time talking about different parts of the plane, how they work, the different workers on the plane and what they do.  (He knows about the fuselage, cockpit, wings, tail and wheels and some basics on how the plane flies using thrust and lift and stuff I don't understand.  Like I said, he has an exceptional interest in planes and a daddy who has an exceptional knowledge of planes.)  His constant talking about planes usually keeps his neighbors entertained too.  (Except when, like on our last trip home, he saw the red light on the wing blinking and yelled out "The wings on fire!  We're going to crash!" His neighbors didn't appreciate that one.)  I think his interest in planes really helps us have good flights with him.  If your kiddo isn't as interested as my son, I think at least talking with them about the plane and what to expect and the behavior your expect out of them is a start before getting on the plane.  We usually start at least a week out, letting him know that we are going on a plane ride and talking about what to expect and the behavior we want from him.  (There are some cartoons and kid's shows about going on plane trips that might be helpful too)

Give them a job

I always have Jackson pack his carry on.  (Of course, I go through and add what I think he'll need) Then I put him in charge of carrying his own carry on.  He takes the job very seriously and keeps him from getting distracted at the airport.

ID
As far as having an ID for your child, I can tell you that you should definitely have a birth certificate, or SOMETHING.  (We have a passport for Jackson)  Although I have never been asked for ID for either child, I have friends who haven't brought anything and were told they couldn't board the plane.  So bring something.  
 
Medicine
Like I said in the baby section, I always bring Tylenol or Motrin for both kids (and myself).  It's just a good idea in case their ears bother them or they spike a fever or whatever could happen up there.  Some people have suggested giving their kids Benadryl.  I don't suggest it.  We gave it to Jackson when he was 10 months old on our trip to Hawaii and here's what happened:
 
He cried until we took him out of the car seat

He sat on our laps for 5 hours, exhausted, but wired from the Benadryl.
So tired he can't see straight.





He fell asleep as we were landing.  Literally, when the wheels touched down.

   































































































































































































































As you can see the Benadryl had the opposite effect on him.  We even tried it out at home before and he went to sleep.  But for whatever reason, on the airplane, it made him hyper and tired at the same time.  Not good.

Traveling with young kids is very stressful.  I've been the annoyed passenger, as well as the annoying passenger with a screaming kid.  All we can do is our best.  And if your child isn't behaving, just take a deep breath (and maybe a strong drink) and realize that you'll probably never see these people again!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanks, but no thanks

I know I'm going to piss off a lot of Grandmas and good ol' fashion southern and midwestern ladies with this one.  But, I'm just going to say it.  

I think thank you cards are stupid!  (You can unclench now)

I KNOW!  I know.  It's the "right" thing to do.  If someone takes the time to get you a gift or do something nice for you, the least you can do is formally thank them in writing.  But I also feel that getting some sort of form letter type thank you card that I know they sent to a million other people and only changed the name and the gift, and only did it because they would feel bad if they didn't do it, doesn't feel genuine anyway.  And even those that are genuine don't make me feel any better about a gift I gave or something I did for them.  If I give someone a gift or do something nice for someone, it's because I want to.  Not because I want a thank you out of the deal.  To be honest, we went to probably 15 different birthday parties this summer.  I have NO IDEA who I got thank you cards from and who I didn't.  I've heard so many women (because I've never actually gotten a thank you card from a man alone, it's always the woman) complain or feel stress about sending thank you's.  It's an unnecessary stress.  You said thank you at the party.  I'm fine with that.  And besides, I suck at sending them.  Seriously, so bad.  

And I honestly don't think that makes people more or less grateful for the gifts.  You are either thankful and like it, or you aren't.  The thank you card in no way reflects your true feelings on the gift.  People send thank you's even when they hate the gift.    

Dear Great Aunt Bertha,
              Thank you so much for the pink Winnie-The-Pooh baby blanket.  My baby boy Gavin looks so cute wrapped in it.  Hope your hemorrhoid surgery goes well.   Miss you!

Love, 
Michele

This is, of course, happens only after Great Aunt Bertha asked your mom to ask you if you "got the present".  (code for: "I haven't gotten a thank you card yet.....I'm keeping track!" while shaking her finger)

So, here's my new deal.  If you are really thankful, you can just tell me "thanks".  I'll believe you.  You can thank me in person, you can send me a card, you can call me, or text, or email, or facebook.  Or, you can not thank me at all.  I probably won't notice if I don't get a thanks, to be honest.  I'm not saying I'll never send thank you cards out again.  I probably will.  I will still try.  Or still feel guilty for not sending them.  

And to everyone that has ever gotten me anything or done anything nice for me and I didn't get you a card?  Thank you.  Seriously.  I loved it. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

DIY Glass Etching

I know what you're thinking.  "Glass etching, Michele?  Really?  Isn't that for, like robots with lasers or something?"  It's really not too difficult though, especially now that I've already made all of the mistakes for you!  Up until yesterday, I didn't realize how easy it actually was to etch glass.  

It started off with an oil bottle at Walmart for $3, that was just plain glass.  I thought I'd use it to keep my dish soap in, so I could keep it out on the counter.  But plain glass?  That's kind of boring.  So I decided to change it up, ever so subtly.  Here's what I did to etch my own drawing into this glass bottle.  

I have a plate that hangs on my kitchen wall.  I love the look of this plate and wanted to replicate the general idea on my bottle.  So I cut a piece of vinyl that I got at Hobby Lobby.  (It came in a big roll, near the Cricut stuff) and drew my vine/leaf looking picture right on the vinyl.  Then I taped the vinyl to a self healing mat and cut away my picture with an exacto knife. 
Then I took the backing off of the vinyl and placed it on my glass bottle.  Make sure you really press it down good and there aren't any bubbles.  Especially near the edges where the etching will be.    
I took the glass etching cream...
I used Armour Etch from Hobby Lobby.

...and applied it liberally with a paintbrush to the vinyl, where the glass was showing through.   Be careful with this step.  This actually etches the glass, it's NOT paint.  And it WILL etch wherever the cream is. Then I set the timer for 20  minutes and waited. (The directions on the bottle said 5 minutes, but I felt like after 5 minutes on my test piece the stuff barely scratched the surface....no pun intended....so I left it on for a while longer)
When the 20 minutes was up, I rinsed the cream off and peeled off the vinyl.  
 Tada!  It's definitely subtle and understated, but I still think it turned out pretty good.  
 
 
Here it is with the dish soap in it. 
For the other project I did, I got a plain glass plate to make a holiday cookie plate.  I got a set of big letter stencils and a snowflake shaped hole puncher. 

My lovely assistant.  He's cute and all, but this really isn't a kid friendly craft, so I did it when he was sleeping.

Here's the part where I tell you what NOT to do.  DON'T try to just tape the stencil to the plate and put the etching cream on.  Your etching cream WILL seep through the stencil and look terrible.  

 
Here is what you CAN do.  If you have a Cricut machine (which I don't) you can use it to cut your vinyl in any letter or shape or whatever picture that amazing machine can make.  This would definitely be the preferred choice.  But for those of us unfortunate folk that don't have fancy machines, there are a couple other options.  You can either put your stencil on your vinyl and exacto knife trace it to make a vinyl stencil.  (Like I did on the soap bottle)

In hind sight, I should have reversed the stencil.  This "B" would only go on the top of the plate, and I am doing the etching from the bottom of the plate.
OR, you can use some spray adhesive and spray the stencil to stick it to the plate.

I used Tree House spray adhesive from Hobby Lobby.
Make sure you read the directions on your adhesive.  This one said to spray just one surface for a more temporary placement.  In this case I sprayed the stencil, NOT the plate.  If you spray both you'll run the risk of the stencil not coming off and you'd have a hot mess on on your plate. 


I did my stencil on the back side of the plate.  I didn't want to compromise the integrity of the top of the plate, even though I'll probably just use it for cookies.  I sprayed the stencil with the adhesive, let it sit for 1 minutes (like the directions said) then put it on the plate and made sure I really pushed down on all of the edges to keep the cream from bleeding. 

Then I cut out all of my snowflakes with my hole punch.  I cut it right out of the vinyl.
 And put a ton of those on the plate too.  Really making sure to push it down to the glass.  This was the most tedious process of this project.
 Then I apply the etching cream and wait 20 minutes.  (By the time I finished applying the cream to all of the little snowflakes, the cream had been sitting on the letter B for probably 10 minutes already.  It's okay though.  It turned out even.)
 Then I rinsed and took off all of the vinyl and the stencil.  The vinyl I threw away, but you can definitely reuse that stencil. I used some Goo Gone to get the adhesive off.  
 And there you have it....
 It was tough getting a good picture, because it is so reflective.  Here it is in less light.

Usually at the holidays, I make a plate of goodies for each of my neighbors.  I was thinking of making these plates with the family's last name initial on them.  It might also be cute to etch something in a glass loaf pan and bake pumpkin bread in it and give that as a gift.  The possibilities are endless, really.  I keep looking around my house for more stuff I can etch!

P.S. I've had several requests for me to sell my wrap watch on my etsy site, so here it is! 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mile High Momday: Being Thankful

It's November.  Which means that it's almost Thanksgiving.  And as much as I love a good Thanksgiving meal, I'm pretty sure that the real point of Thanksgiving is to be thankful.  I'm not going to lie.  I've been having a pity party for myself lately.  I've been focusing more on the negative, which really isn't who I am.  So, I thought it might do me some good (and possibly YOU some good too) to take this month to focus on what I am thankful for.  Everything from really deep meaningful things (like family and friends) to somewhat petty things (like my awesome bed and Starbucks).  

I'll post once a week, with a week's worth of thanks. (In no particular order)

1. My kids. I mean, really.  They are amazingly incredible.  I couldn't ask for two more perfect children.  (And even when they aren't acting perfect, I still love them like crazy)

2. My husband.  He is a great provider and dad.

3. My friends.  I feel so lucky to have the good friends I do.  Especially lately.  There have been a few friends of mine that have been really supportive, even when I'm a hot mess.

4. My family.  I'm so lucky to have two sets of amazing family.  My biological family and my in-laws.  (BTW, I feel terrible for those women out there that don't get along with their in-laws, cause mine are awesome and supportive and everything your in-laws should be.  OMG, have you seen that "monster in-laws" show on A&E.  I can't even imagine!)

5. My bed.  I have the most comfortable bed ever.  Unfortunately, I don't get to spend nearly as much time in it as I would like.

6. My family's health.  My husband is having surgery this week, but fortunately, it's only on his knee.  Nothing life threatening. And we are all healthy, which is something I really am thankful for every single day.  

7. Starbucks.  Sometimes, that's the only thing that helps. 

P.S.  I have a DIY coming up that I wanted to get finished for today, but I'm not quite ready yet, so I'm posting this instead.  But keep your eyes peeled.  My DIY will make great gifts!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pumping

Now that cold weather is coming our way (okay, it's actually here already in Denver) it reminds me how much I hate pumping gas in the cold.  And it is made so much worse by the incessant questioning by the pump.

Pay at the pump or inside
pump

Are you a City Market Customer?
no

Credit or Debit?
Debit

Type your pin number
  
Car wash?
NO

Would you like a receipt? 
NO! 
 

OH-MY-GOD-I-JUST-WANT-TO-STOP-PUSHING-BUTTONS-AND-PUT-GAS-IN-MY-CAR!!!

BTW, this was my 200th post.  Very anti-climactic for such a big milestone, huh?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fall Pinterest Challenge

As you know, I'm slightly obsessed with Pinterest.  It's where I get a lot of inspiration for my projects.  A fun group of Pinterest loving bloggers have put out the challenge of finding something you love on Pinterest and actually making it.  Less pinning, more DOING!  If you like the DIY stuff I do on my blog, you should definitely check out the projects these ladies are doing too!

Here is Young House Love (Where I found the challenge and tons of other amazing stuff!  It's one of my favorite blogs)

And check out Power Bower Blog for a cool antique glass window.


And Erin at House of Earnest

Rocket ship and astronaut

I finally got my picture of Gavin in a pumpkin.  Inside.  With clothes on.  He actually seemed to enjoy it the second time around!

Halloween was great!  The weather was awesome and my little rocket ship and astronaut did a great job. 
I was a little worried about Jackson wearing his costume.  I had a hard time getting him to even try it on before Halloween night, but when it came time to trick-or-treat, he was all about it!  Poor punkin couldn't see out of it very well, and fell a couple times.  He even fell off someone's porch at one point, but he was such a trooper!
I made Gavin's costume out of a white snow suit.  I added some black duct tape and patches and it was done! It had bear ears on the hood, which I took off, and bear hands that went over the end of the sleeves.  I took those off too.  There are paw prints on the feet, which, I covered in black tape. 
It's really handy having a rocket scientist husband to give us actually mission patches.  (not astronaut missions, rocket ones...but still...)
I love those feet!


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