Monthly Archives: June 2013

Make Your Own Picture Frames

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I’m not crafty. But I am creative. I rely on craft stores for materials I need to work with my daughter on projects. Often we go with a specific vision in mind. Sometimes we simply browse and let our creative juices be stirred by what we find.

I used to feel badly about not being a crafty mom. I believed I was letting my child down. Keeping her from having fun experiences the kids of moms who are crafty get to have.

But I have learned all I really need to do is provide the encouragement and materials she needs to express her own creativity.

It’s not necessarily about ME coming up with ideas and manufacturing opportunities to craft. It’s about MY CHILD using her imagination and having the opportunity to express her creativity. That’s how the magic truly happens.

When the three kids down the street from us had to move, my daughter wanted to give them a special gift. Something to help them remember her and the good times they had shared.

We headed off to the store, where we found a foam picture frame kit from that came with a set of frames, adhesive letters and designs in bright colors. She loved them.

As soon as we got home, she went right to work. With my help, she spelled out each child’s name. Then she embellished the frames with fun shapes and designs. She made sure to use her friends’ favorite colors.

Next we went on the computer together, and she selected photos of her with each child. Daddy helped print them out and attach them to the frames. Our (now former) neighbors loved them.

Since then, she has made photo frames for other friends, for teachers and for family members. They are always well received. She’s also made some for her own room, to display photos of her favorite people:

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It’s cheap, easy and fun. My three top rules for anything crafty.

You can buy felt, foam or wood ones from your local craft store. They come with kits, or you can work with materials you have. Glitter glue and metallic marker would work great on the foam. You child could paint a wood frame.

We are also big fans of visiting a local pottery studio to paint one-of-a-kind personalized ceramic gifts. Here’s a photo frame my daughter made for my husband:

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Check out Moonfrye contributor Kimberly Muller’s awesome handmade frame! And Soleil has a great idea for displaying your favorite family photos, no frames required! The possibilities are truly endless to capture a memory in a personalized way.

DIY Tutorial: Sew Curtains Fast and Easy!

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If you haven’t done a whole lot of sewing, you should sew curtains. It’s one of the easiest home décor projects, and it’s a great way to use up some extra fabric you’ve got lying around!

I whipped up a cute café style curtain for our bathroom recently, and was pretty amazed at how fast and easy the project came together.

You’ll need:

  • A piece of fabric large enough to cover your window (plus a few inches on each side)
  • A café curtain rod
  • Sewing machine

How to Sew Curtains:

  1. Install your curtain rod at the height you’d like per manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Draw a rectangle on your scrap paper to represent your window. This’ll be your rough road map to curtain cuteness. Measure your actual window, and write the dimensions on each side of the window sketch.
  3. Next, figure out how full you’d like your curtain to be. If you want something straight up and down, don’t add any extra to the width measurement yet. I added 3” to my width at this point so my café curtain would have just a little bit of oomph to it.
  4. Now you’ll need to add 1/2 “ to each side of the fabric for finishing the edges. At this point, you should have a new width that’s the width of window + fullness if desired + 1” total for finishing.
  5. Next, figure out how long you’d like your curtain to be.  Measure from the bottom of your curtain rod to where the curtain will end.
  6. Add 2” to the top of that measurement for the loop the curtain rod will go through, and add 2” to the bottom of that measurement for finishing the bottom edge. Write that number down on your sketch.
  7. Notice how we haven’t even touched the sewing machine yet? Measure twice and cut once, my friend. Now go back and double check all of your measurements and make sure they’re correct!
  8. Cut your fabric to size. Iron it. If you think you might get confused which way is up, pick a spot that’s inconspicuous on the wrong side of the fabric, and mark it with a pen where the top is.
  9. Fold over the left and right edges ¼”, and fold them over again ¼”. Pin em in place. Press with an iron to get a nice crisp edge, and sew shut all the way from the top to bottom.
  10. Next, fold over the top 1/2”, and again 1.5”. Pin in place. Before pressing, double check that your curtain rod will pass through the large tunnel of fabric you’re creating at the top of the curtain. If it fits, you’re good to go. Press the folds, and sew along the fold that’s furthest away from the top of the curtain. (You want to make sure you’re not sewing that tunnel of fabric shut!)
  11. Now hang your almost-finished curtain on the curtain rod in the window. It looks great! Except for that raw edge along the bottom. While it’s hanging, fold up the fabric ½”, and again another ½”. Pin it in place. Make sure that length looks good – do you want to trim it and make it a little shorter? Now’s the time. When you’ve got the length looking good, remove the curtain from the curtain rod, and press the folds on the bottom. Sew along the fold furthest away from the bottom, and then again ¼” below that seam. That little double stitch just looks cool – you can omit it if you’re looking to save a few minutes.
  12. Hang your curtains and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
  13. Sew curtains for the rest of your house!

Tutorial: Sew Curtains Fast and Easy

DIY 4th of July Streamer Wands

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The 4th of July is almost here! We love getting together with family and friends to celebrate Independence day…and, of course, we never miss an opportunity to create a special holiday craft! Make your 4th of July special with these sweet DIY streamer wands. Bonus: they’re safer (and last longer!) than traditional sparklers.

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What you will need:

1/4 ” wooden dowels

Red, white and blue ribbons

Eyehooks

Scissors

Bells

Instructions:

Step 1: Screw hook into one end of dowel.

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Step 2: Cut ribbons into 24-36″ lengths (depending on how long you want your streamers.)

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Step 3: Thread streamers through the eyehook.

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Step 4: Thread on your bell, using streamer ends to secure in a knot.

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Step 5: Celebrate away!

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Fond 4th Memories: Fireworks Not Included

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Photo credit

“Hey Ma, remember that time we had to leave the park because everyone was screaming?  I mean like really SCREAMING? Remember that Ma?”  Why yes, yes I do.  That was July 4th last year.  The triplets were three, our daughter was five, and our oldest fella was seven.  They were overtired, overheated, possibly dehydrated and likely malnourished.  Eight hours in and out of pools and parades with little sustenance beyond watermelon and popsicles will do that to a kid.  And then, boom!  Boom, BOOM, BOOM!!!!

Fireworks.  Who would do that to five tired tots in the name of independence?  We would.  And it seems they will never forget it. Never ever in their whole lives.

This is especially troubling to me because I adore July 4th.  I grew up in a town that has a stellar parade.  The type of parade that draws a crowd from all over the great Garden State but features floats from small-town elementary schools.  The type of parade that is SO good that the locals line the streets with their chairs the night before to secure a good viewing.  It’s a parade filled with marching bands, floats and fire trucks.  It’s a parade that I marched in as a kid and insist on dragging our kids to even as they whine that it’s too hot, too loud or even too boring — am I the only one with kids who are constantly bored?!

My Dad loves July 4th as much as I do.  I think of it as his day.  He grew up in the charming village where I was raised and shares many of the same memories.  I remember my uncles arriving with donuts for the little ones and big coolers of beer for the post-parade party.  They would come early in the morning for a party that lasted late into the evening.  My Dad would man the grill for hours and in fact, he still does.  After the parade, there is swimming and lunch and watermelon, possibly followed by more swimming, a nap by the pool or preparing for the evening’s grand event – you guessed it, fireworks.

My parents have the perfect location for the day — and the night.  Their house sits at the end of the parade route and caddy-corner to the park where the masses gather to watch the fireworks.  It is the Shangri-La of the 4th of July.  For me, the day is like Christmas, but better because even though we get to see family, friends and neighbors, there’s no pressure to buy gifts, bake cookies or dress up.  It is low-key, laid back and a day that I anticipate eagerly each year… and unfortunately, a day that our kids are now dreading!

I know they will outgrow their fear of fireworks and hope that one day they will look back on July 4th  as fondly as I do.  I hope they think “Wow.  What fun we had. How awesome it was to be there with Mom and Dad and Mima and Pop-Pop and aunts and uncles and cousins with all the flags and fireworks and fun.”  I hope they learn to appreciate freedom and independence in all of its forms.  Perhaps most of all, I hope they will put a chair out for me so I will always have a good spot to watch the parade!

Edible Art: Whipped Cream Paint

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Over the next several weeks, I’m going to bring you all kinds of edible art activities. This one is a family favorite! It’s perfect for kids who love a good mess. For easy clean up, make sure to take this one outdoors. J I have done this activity before with store-bought whipped cream. This time I had a bunch of leftover whipped cream that needed to be used. I took the girls outside and they went to town! (Even the dog enjoyed some art!)

What you will need:

Whipped Cream (homemade or store bought)

Food Coloring

Containers (I used a muffin tin!)

Paint Brushes

Optional: box or other flat surface, covered with waxed paper

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 Instructions:

Divide the whipped cream into your containers. (If it seems to thick, add a bit of water or milk to thin it down.)

Add the food coloring and stir to combine.

Paint! (or taste!) This time, my girls just painted on the sidewalk. We have done this before using a cardboard box that was covered in waxed paper. It makes a flat, smooth surface for easy painting. It’s up to you!

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Use a hose to clean up the mess afterwards!

Changes

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We live in a very fast-paced world. It can be easy to get caught up in big and little changes, and expect our children to come along for the ride. But if we aren’t careful, things can get overwhelming for them very fast. I was reminded of this fact recently, when my family bought our first house and threw our children’s routines into upheaval.

We went from living in a tiny 2 bedroom apartment in a college residence hall to a beautifully remodeled house in a family-friendly neighborhood. It sounds like a dream come true, but it came with one major drawback: my husband couldn’t make the move with us. We knew that getting our kids out of a college environment was crucial, as was our need for more space. But part of my husband’s job description states that his on-campus apartment must be his primary residence. And so, we went from seeing him every day, throughout the day, to seeing him every 2-3 days. He can only spend the night with us once or twice a week.

I had a tough time adjusting to this new normal, but since i’m an adult I was able to power through and get on with our days. My children, however, didn’t possess that same ability to just power through.

Even though I knew that it would be a big change for them, at 1 and 3 years old I figured they wouldn’t really get that such a big change had occurred, and thus quickly accept that this was our life now. But I failed to realize just how challenging it would be and how much such a big change would affect them.

I’m ashamed to say that it took almost a full month of tantrums, tears, whining, clinginess, night wakings and early morning risings before I realized that things weren’t getting better. My kids weren’t adjusting as quickly and easily as I had thought (hoped) they would. It was time to take a step back. It finally dawned on me that they truly didn’t grasp the fact that this new house was our home now. They didn’t understand why their Daddy couldn’t see us every day like he used to. They were waiting for life to go back to the way it was before, and when it didn’t, they expressed their fears and emotions the only way they knew how, which created stress for all of us.

Once I acknowledged that the transition wasn’t going smoothly, I set about to make changes. My kids needed me to help them ease into this new life, and to do that I needed to give them 100% of my attention. I stopped blogging for a few weeks. I stopped cramming our days with errands, playdates and excursions. I stayed off of Facebook and Twitter for days at a time. I didn’t socialize much at all. Our days became all about playing together, cuddling, and exploring our new environment. We would sometimes go full days without interacting with anyone else.

Then, slowly but surely, I started noticing changes. The tantrums got shorter and less frequent. The whining eased up. We had a few playdates that didn’t make me want to pull my hair out because my children behaved so abominably. And then the biggest change of all occurred when they started sleeping through the night again and waking up at a more humane hour. (As in, not 5am after staying awake until well past 9 the night before.)

Things feel more settled now and my children, husband and I are happy again. And because of this process I learned a big lesson. Changes are inevitable in our children’s lives but sometimes things just move too fast. They need more time than adults to adjust and get used to new routines. And it’s our job as parents to slow things down for them, to help ease our children into their new normal. And once they’ve made the adjustment, things improve and life seems happier again. It’s good to finally feel settled!