Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Winter Felt Fun

I made a few felt snowflakes and a snowman for Z last night.  The snowflakes could be a bit better, but it's kind of hard to cut through so many layers of felt!

I used some white, black, light brown, and orange felt to make up the snowman.  She can put him together however she likes on her felt board.  I might try for a few more accessories today; like a stripey scarf or a snow lady-friend.  :)  All in all, it took me less than 15 minutes to make these toys. (Let's hope the cats don't eat them!  They are suckers for all things felt; so far they've attacked a felt chipmunk, a cupcake, and my St. Lucia's Day crown!)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

DIY Holiday Coloring Sheet

Our coloring station is in the entryway of our house.  It's a nice, big, flat area, and I tape old work posters of John's upside down to the floor for Zephyr to color on.  

Sometimes they rip,(like by the sled) but I just add some more tape and call it a day.

This is our current holiday one... I drew all the pictures with permanent marker, and labeled them.  :)  

The marker is nice because it doesn't smear or fade, despite coloring over it or walking on it.

I think it should last us at least a month!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Parent Product Picks: Food Storage

Sometimes you have leftovers.  Sometimes you want to store those leftovers.  Here are a few things that we are currently using at Casa de Craftycakewagon.

Glad Press-n- Seal Wrap: I love this stuff.  Whoever invented this is a genius!  Yeah, it's normally about $6/roll, way more than those crappy other plastic wraps, but it actually works.  If you are lucky, you can score a deal after the holidays and get discounted "holiday" wrap- who cares if it has candy canes on it? 
I'm not even sure who introduced me to this stuff; I think someone brought something to a party with this as a cover.  It actually keeps things inside of a container (within reason) and keeps food fresh.  You don't need a rubber band, or multiple attempts to use it, it's just like a giant sticker!  (Full disclosure: No one paid me to say this. I just really like it.)

In effort to use less plastic for storing food, I have obtained a few ceramic bowls with lids from places like TJ Maxx and Homegoods.  They are nice because they all seem to have vents in the lids for microwaving, and I know that chemicals are kept out of our food.  We also seem to go through an inordinate amount of Bonne Maman jam around here, so I've saved those jars for a while now.  They are good for storing small bits of leftovers or sauces, and sometimes almond bark.

Friday, November 7, 2014


It's finally done!! Let the tale of craziness, woe, and ultimately happiness commence!

You guys, this project? It took me over a month to complete.  I was inspired by this picture from a Jo-Ann's mailer.

I thought, "That seems like a lot of work, but do-able."  The funny thing was, they sent me on a wild goose chase for the "directions" on their website, only to find out that they used a pattern I already owned.

So, I set to work.  Despite the fact that Zizi was scared of the play tent at her auntie's house and didn't like the real tent that we pretended to "camp" in this summer, I persevered.  I found a variety of fabrics that I thought went well together in a rainbow fashion (some I already had, some I bought, like that great wood-grain flannel up there).  I cut them into strips and set to work.  I sewed them into one big piece of fabric, and got ready to cut.

But, I didn't read the pattern as well as I thought.  I assumed I needed 4 panels, but in fact I needed 6 of them.  I realized this AFTER I'd finished the 4th panel and was out of fabric.  I just refused to buy anything else for this project, so I used some muslin leftover from our wedding.

Honestly, I think it looks better this way!


The next part of my trouble started when actually configuring the pattern.  I was able to sew it together just fine, but then I realized that there was no way for the fabric to stay attached to the poles!  They used a very small casing for a thin ribbon to supposedly be tight enough to hold up the entire thing; i.e. might work for a picture, but not real life.  So, I got some rainbow ribbon and made little attachments to thread through the main ribbon holding it together.  (Kind of hard to explain, but you can see it up there.)  Then I got some fun battery-powered lights to use at night.  Z doesn't really like them, but she does like the teepee!

She will play inside of it, but she also likes to flop into a panel on the outside.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

Homemade Toys: Felt Leaves

Continuing with the homemade toy festival going on around here, I bring you, Felt Leaves!

You may remember the Felt Board that I made back in the spring with flowers, grass, and clouds.  The leaves can also be used with that, or thrown into the air with reckless abandon.  They float slower than paper, making the felt a bit more realistic for leaves.

Sharp scissors
Felt in Fall colors
Fine point permanent marker

This was really pretty easy.  I freehand cut out some leaf shapes, then drew on veins with my permanent marker.  I even tested to see if the marker would come off while it was still "wet"- and it was totally fine.  I did some ovalish leaves, pointy maples, and roundish oak leaves, in yellow, two shades of orange, and red.  I also made a little plastic bag for them, complete with a hanging ribbon, so that they can (theoretically at least) be cleaned up and hung on a hook.

We'll see if they ever make it back into the bag

Friday, September 26, 2014

Homemade Toys: Halloween Sensory Bottle

 John's been on vacation this week; we were supposed to go to the beach, but he has been sick, so it's been a stay-cation.  Suffice to say, we've been making a lot of fun toys with an extra pair of hands around.  Stay tuned for details on all of the projects below (and more!)

The teepee is finally finished! Even the dog likes it!
Felt leaves!

Working on decorations for Z's upcoming b-day
Halloween in a bottle!
Inspired by this post, I decided to make Z a Halloween Sensory Bottle.  I didn't have a fancy water bottle, and couldn't find those tiny spiders at any stores nearby, so I used what I had.  I think it turned out pretty well!

Water bottle- empty
Baby oil (so that the "webs" and halloween bits float slowly)
White yarn, cut into short lengths
Halloween confetti
Clear packing tape

Into a dry bottle, add your confetti and yarn. Fill with baby oil (Alert! This will use almost an entire bottle of baby oil, just so you know.). Seal.  The original author glues the bottle shut with super glue, but I used tape (since that's what we had).  I think it will stay closed just fine, but this activity should probably be supervised.  Shake it up!  Let your kid shake it up!  Be mesmerized by the things floating around.  :)  

I think next time, I will add a bit of glitter- because who doesn't like glitter?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

This is real life

Sometimes I don't get everything done.  Most of the time, probably.  

This is real life.

I've been trying to contain the plethora of toys everywhere by putting away a few sets of things that were driving me crazy.  It's sort of working.

Then the Bean wants to color.

This happens roughly 10 times a day.

I tape these re-used posters from J's work to the floor (because they're slippery!) and she can color to her heart's content for a few days on the same paper.  And it makes for a colorful entryway too.
Sometimes Minnie likes to help.

Sometimes the crayons run away from home. 

(Did I mention that they're washable crayons?  Really fabulous parenting choice by me, considering that she's already drawn on a leather chair, my side of the bed, and the front door. Everything came off with water!)

 Did you notice that there are 10' PVC pipes all over the living room too?  They're for a super secret project that I'm almost finished making.  For now, Z likes to pick them up and scream into them, surprising herself with the distance of sound every time. :) It's super cute.

I guess what I'm saying is, embrace the chaos.  And if not embrace, at least find the cute side of it!  (We won't talk about how many dishes are in the sink right now.)

Monday, September 8, 2014

New Crayons!

They won't look like this for long!

Who doesn't love new crayons?

It makes me happy that she loves drawing so much!

Sometimes we are so excited about crayons, we run out before bath time just to draw some more.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Parent Product Picks: Let's Get Cleaning!

Once in a while, I come across a product that is really awesome.  And since I didn't discover it before I became a parent, it becomes a Parent Product Pick.  Whether or not you actually need to have a child around to use it is subjective; but in general, I find that these things make life a lot easier, especially when you might have limited time to do household chores.

Parent Product Pick #1: Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Concentrate.

As you may be able to tell by my re-purposed container up there, I used to buy a lot of Method products. But now that I discovered this, no more!!  This stuff is concentrated, i.e. you add water to it to get it to the strength you need.  After doing copious amounts of math, I ascertained that I could add 2 Tablespoons of it to my entire container of water, and this was a relatively strong solution.  Cost? $7-$8.  Compared to Method? Those sell for 3/$7 on sale, but I've already refilled my bottles three times with the amount that's gone from the Mrs. Meyers.  At that rate, I expect this to refill at least 24 bottles before I'll need more.  It's good as a countertop cleaner, bathtub scrub, and general surface cleaner.  I don't know that I recommend it for mirrors, but really, I don't have any cleaner that does that very well.

Parent Product Pick #2: Seventh Generation Disinfecting Wipes

Sometimes you need to disinfect things.  Or you want to half-assedly clean the bathroom before guests come over.  Whatever, I won't judge you.  These wipes will do the trick!  And... no bleach!  Their active ingredient is thyme oil, which smells nice while killing germs.  I use them to clean off table tops, the fridge doors, door handles when people are sick, and yes, the aforementioned bathrooms sometimes.  The only thing that could be better about these is if they sold the refills in plastic baggie things like baby wipes.  The container is recyclable though, so I guess it's not so bad.

In short, I recommend both of these products! 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Adding Soap Bubbles to the Water Table

How did I never think of this before? Complete genius!!

Not only does she want to play with it a lot longer, the bubbles camouflage any leftover sand/dirt/tree bits in the water.  And? Soap keeps away the mosquitoes.  Win-win, I say!

 Not to mention that the constant agitation of the water by the sifters and waterfalls and whatnot makes MORE BUBBLES.

What kid doesn't want more bubbles?

 (*now with bonus bubbles!)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Painting With a Toddler (without losing your mind)

 Zephyr loves to color and paint, so we try to do something artsy at least once a week.  Here are a few steps for painting with a toddler, without covering your entire house in paint.  (If you have older kids too, hopefully they need less supervision than this!)

Set up the table and let her pick out some colors.  (We usually do 4 or 5.)

I cover her with a bib and a small blanket (that usually stays on to cover her pants).
I also use washable paint, just in case it manages to get on her clothes.

 We pick our first color, and I dip it into paint for her (so she doesn't tip it over everywhere).  After she finishes that color, I clean the brush in a cup of water, and dry it off on a paper towel before using the next color.  

Sometimes, Dad helps a little.

After she adds in all of the colors we've picked, I see if she wants to add any more.  Usually we are done.  Sometimes she tastes the paint (ick), but I try not to freak out about it too much.  At some point in time, I know that she'll be able to do a lot more herself, but for now this is how it goes!  We both have fun, and our house stays relatively un-painted.
This week's masterpieces!