Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cardboard playhouse v2.0

The original v1.0 play house is still in the living room, but has been joined by this humongous house.  This beauty was created out of two HUGE boxes.  A friend of mine with a truck delivered them after her neighbor tossed them out.  This is what you get when your sectional sofa comes in a box.  I was in heaven with these.

I started to put it together with duct tape, but it was proving too fidly.  I was rescued with the discovery of these handy little things called "Makedo" which I got at the gift shop of the local Children's Museum.  They are basically little reuseable pins that hold cardboard together (see all the little blue dots).  There are hinges too. They saved me hours of work and probably about four roles of duct tape.  I think I might be in love.

The kiddo actually goes INTO this house to play.  I think she dind't play in v1.0 because she didn't much care for ducking through the door.  Now, no ducking needed.  Not yet anyway.  And all three of us can fit in there together!

I might have come up with some "instructions" but I figure that two humongous sofa boxes are a pretty rare thing to come by.

Sitting in her cardboard armchair next to her cardboard book bin reading her ... board book.

A better view of that book bin and the armchair.  These I could give instructions on how to replicate.  It's easy and just uses one small piece of cardboard and one cardboard box.  Of course, it helps if you have a monstrous cardboard mansion to put them in.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Velvet Patchwork Puzzle Balls

In the interest of posting about things MONTHS after I make them... here is a fun little Xmas present I made for the little one just a day or two before the big day. These are the first two balls from the book "patchwork puzzle balls" by jinny beyer (you can see the cover under the balls in one of the photos). I made them with velvet from this HUGE box of velvet scraps I bought at a yard sale from a lady who had been collecting remnants for years to use "in a special project." I like to think she would approve of these.

The patterns and instructions were easy and straightforward, although the thickness and fuzziness of the felt did add to the difficulty in machine sewing them together (and got lint EVERYWHERE). I've included a complete but inside out pic so you can see the madness. Because of the thickness of the material I did have to leave a larger opening to be able to turn it right side out.

In an effort to use only what was on hand, I stuffed these with some pretty heinous novelty yarn that accidentally invaded my stash, and it actually worked very well. However, be warned you need A LOT of heinous novelty yarn to get the ball to be FULL and it is a bit tricky to get it all in there. I have yet to use the recommended cotton stuffing... So I can't say if that is any different.  The ball in the picture below looks pretty full doesn't it?  Right, well, that whole ball of novelty yarn next to it pretty much went in as well.  And I understand why.  A few months later and it almost feels a bit squishy, almost like I need to rip out a seam and put in some more yarn.  You definitly need to stuff with something that doesn't have any spring in its step if you want these to feel more like "balls" than stuffed animals, and if you want them to hold their round shape for more than 30 seconds.

Most importantly, they turned out just as nice as I hoped they would and the kiddo seems to really like them!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cardboard playhouse v1.0

This is a project from shortly after Christmas.  One store decided to use this box from a fancy set of chairs to ship us an order.  The best part is that it's very thick and much sturdier than regular cardboard boxes, and perfect for making into houses.  So this:

Became this:

To make the top "roof" for the house I took the four top flaps and cut triangles out of the edges of each one and then taped the cut edges together to form the sides of the roof.  I cut a door out of one side and a hole in the other the size of another large box.  the scrap from the box side was cut to the size of the hole on the top of the roof to finish it off. Another box was taped to the side to make it bigger.  Windows were cut and everything was fastened together with duct tape.

Ducks liked it OK but didn't like that she has to duck or crawl to get in.  She is still a little young yet to fully understand play houses, but had fun playing peekaboo in the windows.

At the very least, it took a month or two after Christmas to get all the cardboard into our recycling bin, so this is a good way to keep it lying arounf the house without your living room look like a cardboard storage warehouse.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Child's Abstract Wall Mural

I'd been contemplating a large mural on one side of my child's room since... well... since we decided it was going to be the child's room before we ever even decided to have a baby.  I eventually picked colors for the room (lime green, teal, yellow, orange, and added magenta to the mix when I couldn't find an orange paint in the brand I was buying that matched the orange in the rug and I had one drawer left on the chest of drawers to paint).

Then, while doodling, inspiration struck.  Despite all the other ideas I'd been very carefully mocking up for months, this little doodle WAS THE ANSWER and it simply HAD TO become my wall mural right away.  The urge was overpowering.  Thankfully all it was going to take was an afternoon and way way way too much blue painters tape.  It was so simple I could even wing it and just go.  No measuring, no plotting, no scheming, no carefully drawing first with a pencil, just put tape on the wall, fix up the corners with an xacto, and paint.  Glorious.

It went so fast.  I mean, I already had all the paint (see the chest of drawers in the lower right hand corner of the finished picture, I'd already bought a quart of paint in all my colors and only used them for one each of those drawers), I already had the painters tape, I was going to be home all weekend.  I went into the room and started putting tape all over the wall.  I was really happy when my random application yeilded six vertical stripes since I didn't measure first and around stripe 4 got worried that I'd messed up and would have to make a really fat one or a really skinny one.  It ended up OK, although the one on the far right in the photo (the first one) is a bit thinner than the one on the far left (the last one). Then I trimmed up the corners of the tape where it counted (mostly the inside corners of each box).  And started slapping on the paint. Here it is in all it's painters tape glory, with three of the stripes painted in magenta.  The dark blue is the tape.

And, in all it's finished glory.  The stripes are lime green and magenta and the wall is sort of a pale teal (not quite tiffany blue, but sort of close to it).  The wall is a flat finish and the mural stripes are gloss.  It really makes them stick out even more.

I still have some more decorating and whatnot to do in her room, but the mural makes a HUGE difference.  Also, now she is a bit older and we've put the crib up against that wall instead of a couch.  It looks even better.  Maybe someday I will be "finished" with the room and will do a more complete "tour".  It is pretty awesome, and I'm hoping it's funky and graphic enough to stand the test of time.  One of my initial ideas was rocket ships and outer space but nixed it on the idea that a teenage girl might not want a room with a wall covered in magenta and lime green spaceships.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Swiss Chard Pancakes

Believe it or not, these pancakes are Delicious! You just have to disassociate "pancake" from the breakfast food it usually is. Think of it more like a savory flatbread. You with me? Ok.
I created this as a way to get a very tough to eat veggie like chard into a form my daughter could feed herself, but we all like them. They are an amazing match with roasted chicken and are particularly tasty topped with sour cream and maybe some diced up chives.

1 batch of pancake mix plus whatever ingredients your box wants you to add + a little extra mix
However much water your mix tells you to use.
4-5 leaves of chard (if you have a wimpy blender remove the stalks)
1/4 onion
1-2 cloves garlic
Whatever seasoning you want, I just used black pepper

Put the water and all the vegetables and seasoning in the blender and blend till it's green and soupy
Mix with pancake mix and other ingredients the mix calls for. Since the veggies release water, you will have to use a little bit of extra mix. Get it to the consistency you look for in a pancake batter.
Make pancakes as you usually would.

I like to measure so every pancake is the same size because I burn fewer that way. These are very tiny pancakes each made with just 1 tbsp of batter. Note the size of the onion in the picture, and that there are about 40 pancakes on a regular size dinner plate.

Mom note: these freeze and defrost in the toaster (or in the fridge overnight) absolutely fabulously with no discernable loss of texture or flavor. I plan to always make a nice big batch. The tiny ones go really easily into the baby's lunchbox too, and are easy for tiny fingers to manage (although I usually rip them into 4 pieces anyway).
No, they are not "hidden" vegetables, but my kid is not yet at the picky eater stage so we haven't had to have that battle yet and she eats these just fine. Plus, with only a couple teeth, this is the easiest way for her to eat chard!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Baby Surprise in Action

Here are some shots of the BabySurprise Jacket in action! I opted for mismatched bright orange buttons... Actually leftover from my baby shower decorations!! Tip: if you use mismatched buttons a button is easier to replace if you loose it and don't keep extras for every outfit lying around...

The hat was crazy simple and made from some bulky stash noro I lost the band for. All there is to it is a rectangle long enough to go around the head folded in half, then seamed together end to end and along one side. The "ears" are just the corners... Flat and off the head, this just looks like a garter stitch rectangle. I actually made it on a plane flight after realizing at THE LAST SECOND that we were leaving somewhere warm and going somewhere cold and my child did not have a warm hat.

Here's the kiddo getting a shoulder ride from her dad!

And experiencing cold wind for the first time in her little life.  She was delighted and laughed and put her arms up, this is one of the best shots I got of the emotion.

Here's a better look at that hat and the fun orange buttons. They really take the sweater from "nice" to "incredibly cute" in a split second.  I sewed them on with an orange and magenta verrigated cotton yarn, which also helps in the cute department.

While a hat could be knocked out in nothing flat... I am very glad I had realized a week earlier that she also did not have warm pants and knocked out a pair of worsted weight footed longgies... Details and photos to come in another post!