Friday, November 30, 2012

Weekly Photo Wrap-Up: Santa Claus is Comin'

Christmas is in full swing in our town. The weekend after Thanksgiving was over, it seems everyone has gotten in the Christmas spirit. Tons of houses in our neighborhood are decked out in Christmas lights, stores are playing carols over the speakers, and everyone is rushing around doing their Christmas shopping. This year, I got my act together and finished my shopping right before Thanksgiving. Most of my motivation came from wanting to avoid the crowds of holiday shoppers, but what I really wanted is to relax and actually enjoy the holiday season so that I can more appreciate moments like this one:

My daughter met Santa Claus and absolutely loved him! I actually had to tear her away because she was talking his ear off :) It isn't the first time she's sat on Santa's lap, but it's the first year that she's actually understood the concept of Santa Claus. I know a lot of families don't do the "Santa Claus thing," but I grew up with fond memories of Santa and the magic that he adds to the season, and my husband and I plan on continuing the tradition. Connor, on the other hand, wasn't too excited about the idea of sitting on a stranger's lap, even if he did offer gummies. That's probably a good fear to have ;)

So what did Haley ask for? My Little Ponies. I'm glad she's making it manageable for Santa this year!
1. Talking to Santa 2. Giant gingerbread house
3. Haley riding the train 4. Connor riding the train

In addition to meeting Santa, we also got peppermint milkshakes and went on a drive to see Christmas lights around the area a few nights ago. Every house, no matter how little or how many lights they had up, got an excited gasp from my kids. It's amazing to me that so many people have already decorated their houses! Pittsburgh is such a festive, family friendly town, and I'm so proud to be part of it. It's so refreshing to live in a town that really comes together to celebrate the holidays in a big way.

Don't forget, our Stuff Your Stockings handmade gift series starts up Monday with some great guest posters! We have some wonderful handmade ideas to share with you for the holidays.

Here's what else we did this week:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Announcing a Holiday Series: Stuff Your Stockings!

Shannon and I have been keeping a little secret around here. We've teamed up with some of our favorite bloggers to bring you an upcoming holiday series called Stuff Your Stockings! From December 3-7th, Shannon and I, along with our wonderful guest bloggers, will be sharing a new handmade gift idea each day for different categories of people: kids, men, women, etc. so that you'll have some fun handmade gifts to give all of your loved ones this Christmas season.

We're so excited to welcome the following extremely talented ladies to our blog next week:

Between the 5 of us, you're sure to find a great project for someone on your list. So put that Furby back on the shelf, grab your craft supplies and join us next week for some great DIY projects to celebrate a handmade holiday!

Knight Party: How to Make a Knight's Tunic

If you're going to throw a medieval knight party, you have to have the traditional knightly garb, right? I mean, what is a knight without his tunic? Unfortunately, even little knights have expensive clothes. I hunted around the internet and found several outfits that were really great, but not so great on my budget. Rather than buying an expensive costume from a store, I dug into my fleece stash and came up with this awesome tunic. Why fleece? Mainly because the edges don't fray, so that meant no hemming for me and one less thing to worry about :)

Connor's been going through this stage where he sees his sister putting on princess dresses and little heels and wants to do the same, but of course my husband wants none of that. I'm hoping this little tunic will become one of his new favorite dress up outfits!

SUPPLIES: shirt to use as a template, paper for your pattern, fleece for the main fabric, 1 sheet of white felt, leather scraps, sewing machine and supplies.

Making Your Pattern:
ONE: fold your template shirt in half and place it on the edge of your paper. Trace around your shirt with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, and be sure to make the bottom longer (a little above the knees.)
TWO: cut out your template.
THREE: fold your fleece in half, right sides together. Place your pattern on the fold and trace around with chalk or disappearing ink marker.
FOUR: cut out and unfold your fabric. This is your back piece. Repeat to get your front piece but cut the neckline lower for the front.

FIVE: cut out a cross from some felt. Pin to the front of the tunic and sew around the edges to attach.
SIX: on the bottom of your tunic, find the middle and draw a line several inches long.
SEVEN: cut a slit as shown in the picture above, making sure to round the corners on the bottom.
EIGHT: pin the shoulders and sides together and sew the sides and shoulders only to attach.

Turn your tunic inside out and that's it! Again, since the tunic is made of fleece the edges won't fray, so I didn't bother hemming the bottom or finishing the neckline or armholes. For the belt, I simply cut a long strip of leather long enough to tie around his waist in a knot.

I made the tunic large on purpose so Connor could grow into it. It's really the perfect size for my almost 4-year-old, so hopefully it'll last him awhile. Layer a long sleeve gray shirt underneath to get more of an "armor" look. If it has a hood, even better! If you want to get really creative with everything, pair the outfit with some black leggings and boots. Since I had neither, gray pants and bare feet worked just fine for this little knight :)

Check out our link party page to see where we link up each week!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Knight Birthday Party: Invitations

For some strange reason, I've gotten it into my head that I have to make every birthday invitation for my kids' birthdays by hand instead of buying them from a store. I'm not sure where the notion came from, but for the past several birthdays, I go into a designing frenzy where I sit in front of my computer with a Diet Dr. Pepper and duke it out with Photoshop in an attempt to come up with the perfect themed invite. Just when I think I'm finished, the perfectionist in me comes out and I have to tweak this and that until my contacts dry out from lack of blinking and the rational side of me whispers "you should probably buy the invites from a store next year."

I'm sure that won't happen, but maybe by the time my daughter's birthday rolls around this March, I'll come back and re-read this post and remember how much time it takes to design an invite and why store-bought invites are a great idea. Maybe. Until that day comes I'll keep having fun making invites, and Connor's knight birthday party was no exception.

With the whole "medieval" theme in mind, I wanted the invite to have a worn look to it, so I Googled around and found a great free texture to use as the background. I then designed a shield in Photoshop using some free clipart, and added some wording using an Old English font. Not too hard (aside from all my perfectionist tendencies lol) From there, I printed it on card stock and ripped the edges to give it more of a "worn scroll feel."

I then rolled each invite like a scroll and tied it with ribbon.

Ta-dah! Lots of cute little scroll invites for Connor's knight party. They're a really fun change from handing out a traditional invite.

Check out our link party page to see where we link up each week!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

PARTY: Knight Birthday Party

This past weekend, we threw my "baby" a 2nd birthday party. It was bittersweet for me watching my little guy running around the house clutching a chocolate covered marshmallow pop, knowing that he's one step closer to being a big kid. He didn't seem to care though. He was too busy eating as many cupcakes and chocolate covered pretzels as he could (and he totally took advantage of that since it was his birthday and I let him eat pretty much anything he wanted :)

To celebrate his big day, we threw him a knight-themed party! I actually started planning his birthday in August because I didn't want to be caught by surprise and attempt to plan it all in a week this year (not that I do that often or anything ;) It paid off though, I didn't feel like I wanted to tear my hair out too much this past week.

As usual, I made all of the paper printables for this party. Between the banners, invites and toppers, I went through 2 new cartridges of blue and yellow ink (much to my husband's dismay.) I just have way too much fun tailoring everything to the exact theme of each party. Like this birthday banner for example. It was pretty simple to design in Photoshop (the knights were made using clipart). A few punched holes and some ribbon, and ta-dah, the perfect knight banner! I'm sure I'll be using it again for future birthdays.

We kept the food relatively simple. Since the party was in the evening, we offered 2 kinds of pasta with marinara sauce or meat sauce and salad. In addition to the main dish, we also offered a bunch of finger foods. The menu might have seemed a little random, but I wanted to incorporate some of Connor's favorite foods in the mix since it was his day after all. That meant working in marshmallows, pretzels, and french fries (I know, so healthy right?)

I covered the pretzel rods in chocolate and added blue sprinkles to mirror the theme. We also covered marshmallows in chocolate and dipped them into crushed graham crackers to make s'more pops. And of course, you can't have a party without cake. Shannon always makes the best cupcakes! She made mini cupcakes with 2 kinds of frosting: Nutella and cream cheese. 

In addition to cousins, I allowed my daughter to invite a few of her friends over for the party and had favor bags for everyone. For the adults, they got homemade Oreo truffles (cream cheese + double stuffed Golden Oreos covered in chocolate). These were placed in little baggies and stapled together with tags that I made with knights and initials on them. The kids each got bags full of toys, swords and candy.

And of course I had to make a knight's tunic for the birthday boy! It was actually a surprisingly simple project (I'll be sharing the DIY later this week.) I thought he'd hate it and refuse to wear it since he's a typical 2-year-old, but once I put it on him, he wouldn't take it off and actually cried when I made him take it off for his nap. It made me really happy to know know that he really liked something I made for him. Getting pictures of him in the tunic was another story though.

Happy 2nd birthday to my baby boy! I'll be sharing more projects related to the party later this week.

Check out our link party page to see where we link up each week!

Monday, November 26, 2012

CRAFT: Magnetic Advent Calendar

Whew! What a week it's been! I hope everyone's holiday was as crazy and fun as ours was! As fabulous as it was, though, I'm actually somewhat anxious to get back to work so I can rest. Isn't it sad when going to work becomes your relaxation time? Oh well.

I made this advent calendar for myself this weekend. If you haven't noticed, I love anything geometric. I love shapes... just plain, geometric shapes. The fun thing about this project is you can configure the shapes into anything you'd like! Oh, and candy is involved.  Here we go!  

What you will need: 
25 tiny cardboard boxes of any shape with lids included
Glue gun and glue
12" x 12"
piece of steel (I found mine at Home Depot with the radiator covers)
Super strong magnets (again, found at Home Depot)
12" x 12" wooden shadow box (found @ Michael's)
and CANDY, of course!

 First:  Paint your boxes white.  It took a few coats to get a good finish.
 Second:  Put some metallic paints in a muffin pain and use it to dip-paint your little boxes.  Make sure to quickly remove the lids so the paint doesn't seal the box and lid together.
 Third:  Paint numbers on your boxes with a tiny brush.
Fourth:  Glue your super magnets on the inside of the box.  This allows the magnet to be concealed and for the boxes to be flush against the steel.  Also, it keeps the magnets and boxes from pulling apart if the glue just happens to not hold.
Fifth:  Put candy inside!
Sixth:  Glue your steel sheet inside the shadow box.  It should only take one line of glue along what will be the top to hold the sheet in the frame.
Seventh:  Arrange your boxes in a fun design!

Eighth:  Display!

I can't wait to start counting down the days to Christmas!  I'm more excited about Christmas this year than I have been in a long time and I'm not even sure why!  Who needs a reason, though??  Not me!

Check out our link party page to see where we link up each week!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

CRAFT: DIY Rosette Tree

Why hello there!  This adorable little tree is actually the creation of Jen, but she's got her hands full this week planning Connor's 2nd birthday party, so I volunteered to re-create her masterpiece and put together the tutorial to share with all of you!  I just think this tree is so absolutely adorable.  And if I ever have an extra 50 gazillion hours, I might make an entire forest of these.

What you will need:
Card stock for the cone
Glue gun and glue
Pages of an old book

First:  Make yourself a template for the cones.  Ours was about 60 degrees from the point.  The wider the angle, the fatter your tree will be.

Second:  To get the paper to curl, I held it against the edge of a table, pressed my palm down and pulled.  It helped when actually gluing the cone together.

Third:  Glue the edges together.

Fourth:  Tear strips from the pages of books about 1.5 inches wide.  Fold them over until they are about .5 inches thick.

Fifth:  Beginning wrapping your strip.

Sixth:  To achieve the rosebud look, fold the strip like is shown in the bottom two photos.  This will give the illusion of separate pedals.

Seventh:  Stop and look at something cute after every 10 roses because you will want to quit the project if you don't.

Eighth:  Glue your rosettes onto the cone.  Keep them as close together as possible so you can't see the cone in between.

Ninth:  Keep doing it until you reach the top!

This is an incredible easy, but time consuming project!  Just keep patient because the outcome is absolutely adorable!

Below is the photo of the other trees we made for the Rosewood event.  We will be writing out tutorial for these in the next week or so.  Most of them are relatively easy compared to the rosettes!

We hope you all have an absolutely amazing Thanksgiving!  We know that we have so much to be thankful for.. and all of you are definitely on the list.  Our blog wouldn't be anything without our readers.  We hope we inspire you as much as you all inspire us.  So, THANK YOU for being so awesome.

Check out our link party page to see where we link up each week!
This project also linked up to DIY Show Off
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