3rd birthday bonanza planning

Kaylee will be 3 in August! That means another excuse to plan a party…and planning is in high gear. This time around we’re throwing a pony party. I decided on the vintage cowgirl theme after stumbling across Alexander Henry’s Pin Ups From The Hip line:

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I’m totally not into cowgirls, or pin-ups, but I fell in love at first sight.

I’ve spent the past month scouring Pinterest for everything I could find related to cowgirl, western, and pony parties and I am just about done sorting out all the details. I have several projects on my to-do list over the next two months, including making 6 stick ponies for the party girl and her friends.

I just finished up the invitations last week and I’m pretty happy with how they turned out. (I shot the pictures on my phone, sorry in advance.)

There are three pieces in the envelope. The invitation itself (created in Publisher, inspired by this and this), a personalized “Wanted” poster with the invitee’s picture, and a  ticket for pony rides (based on a template I found on Office.com for Word).

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Here is what it looks like assembled, wrapped in a bit of burlap and twine.

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A close-up of the ticket. I added a picture of Kaylee and Scott that was taken last fall. She rode that pony at least 5 times that day and we had to pry her away, crying, when it was time to leave. Kaylee’s love of ponies is the whole reason for the theme of this party. I wanted to give her the gift of some pony time without the huge lines. Booking the ponies for the party was the first thing on my to-do list, and while I’ll admit it’s a bit extravagant for a 3 year old’s birthday party, it was actually not out-of-this world expensive. My hope was adding a ticket to the invitation would let the other kids get excited about it as well.

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I had originally planned to make a wanted poster of Kaylee for the invitation but I ended up liking the vintage cowgirl design more. I still wanted to include the idea somewhere though, and as a last minute addition, decided to create personalized wanted posters for each of the kids. Luckily people overshare on Facebook, so getting the pictures of each kid was easy. I ran some filters on them in Photoshop to make them look more like drawings then pasted them into Word to add the text. I used Rosewood Std Regular and Giddyup Std fonts to add flare. They read:

WANTED
the notorious “name” ‘the kid’ known accomplice of Kaylee ‘spitfire’ Ryan
Reward
grub, games, & goodies

Aging the paper went pretty well. First, I printed the posters on regular 8.5×11 white copy paper, two per sheet, then cut them apart and roughed up the edges. I worked with them one at a time once they were cut apart.

First, I crumpled the printed paper into a ball and put it into a cup of water along with a tea bag. I experimented with soak time, and ended up liking the stain at the end of 30 minutes the best. After soaking, I squeezed the ball to get the excess tea water out, then carefully unraveled the ball. This was the most challenging part. The wet paper is really weak and tears VERY easily. This can add to the effect, or ruin the whole thing if you rip up a key part of the picture.

After unballing, I placed the wet paper between two dry sheets of paper and put a heavy book on top. This draws out the extra water and presses the poster flat. I had to change the paper twice during the process. It took about 2 hours for the posters to completely dry.

I plan to make 8×10 versions to hang up at the party.

(note: I was working with sheets printed on a laser printer. If you decide to try this and only have access to an inkjet printer you’ll need to stain your paper first, then iron it, then send it through the printer otherwise your ink may run off the page.)

I had a lot of fun putting these invitations together and I’m looking forward to sending them out soon.

[ Here’s a Word template for the wanted poster if you’d like to use it Wanted TEMPLATE. You’ll need Microsoft Word, Rosewood Std Regular font, and Giddyup Std font to make it work. ]

crafts: felt bacon and eggs

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Kaylee LOVES bacon and eggs so it seemed appropriate that she have a set for her play kitchen. There are a lot of free tutorials online, but I followed the one by Wee Folk Art (available here). I liked their crinkly bacon design.

It went together fairly quickly. I was able to finish it up over two naptimes. If I had to do it over again I would have taken the size of Kaylee’s pans into consideration since my versions are too large to fit nicely while ‘cooking’. She doesn’t seem to mind though.

crafts: charlie’s baby quilt

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I have made a bit more progress on Charlie’s quilt. The top is all sewn together, now I just have to trim, add the back, quilt it, then bind…so really I’m not at all close to being done but, it’s nice to have it looking like something more than a bunch of squares lying about.

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It all started with this inspiration fabric, which I’ll use for the back. Now that Kaylee is back in daycare I might have some time to finish up before I go back to work.

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Charlie is one month old already….it goes so fast!

Crafts: Burp cloths for the baby

attwyburp01 With the semester coming to a close I finally have a bit more time to get to my growing pile of sewing projects for the baby. I whipped up a few burp clothes from the leftover fabric from his quilt. I didn’t use a pattern, just cut some strips of fabric, folded the edges under, ironed and stitched to the diapers.

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I made a few before Kaylee was born too and they were the best things ever. We’re still using them as changing pads, to mop up spills, wipe dirty hands and faces, and even snuggle with. They make great dolly blankets too.

This time around I used a different diaper, and I haven’t washed them yet so I can’t attest to shrinkage or absorbancy, but they feel really nice. Kaylee’s were made from Gerber diapers, but they are a lot more expensive now than they once were and pretty difficult to find in the stores. Instead, I ordered OsoCozy Indian Prefolds online, and while they are a bit smaller, I think they will do just fine. I also added little loops of ribbon thinking I might want to attach them to something (stroller, car seat, purse) with rings…or not…but the option is there.

I also managed to get all of the fabric cut for the baby’s quilt, I just need to find some time to start sewing. Maybe he’ll wait until I’m finished before he makes his appearance…but I won’t hold my breath 🙂

crafty gifts: baby sweater for the little guy

attwymichellesweater2 My very dear friend and knitter extraordinaire, Michelle,  surprised me last week with a lovely little sweater made in the baby’s honor. It’s so soft and snuggly in person and I just adore the little puppy buttons. I can’t wait to see little Rocco (her nickname for the baby) in it. It’s almost enough to inspire me to try my hand at the hobby again…almost.

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Crafts: Dying fabric

I’ve been going through Kaylee’s old clothes looking for things to pass down to the baby. She spent the first few months in side snap tees and onesies so it is working out pretty well. Sadly, although they looked perfect when I first packed them away, several of her clothes had some mysterious yellow spotting when I pulled them back out of storage. I decided to attempt to remedy the situation by dying them before running out and replacing what were otherwise great basic pieces that we loved the first time around. And, it worked out great! I bought the dye a while ago and put this project off because I was intimidated by the whole process and unsure if it would stain the kitchen sink (which is white…it left no noticable marks) or the washing machine (again, no trace at all on the washer or subsequent loads of laundry). Now our little boy has about 10 dark blue tees and onesies in an assortment of sizes. I even tried it on a pair of Old Navy socks that had dark soles (from going shoeless in the driveway) and it covered up the stains perfectly.

I was so anxious to get started that I began just after Kaylee went to sleep and forgot to change my shirt…my new favorite maternity shirt. The one I thought I’d never pull off (all those horizontal stripes across my prego belly) but have received several compliments on the two times I was able to wear it since it arrived. It used to look like this:

Needless to say it got a few spots on it as I was pouring the bucket of dye water down the drain so I just tossed it in the few inches of dye that were still left in the bucket in an attempt to remedy the situation. Much to my surprise, after just a few minutes it came out looking decent too. You can’t see the splatter marks anymore and I have a unique-ish shirt to wear.

I used powdered Rit dye in Royal Blue with the help of this tutorial website. It was a lot easier and less messy than I thought it would be. Totally worth it and I will definitely be doing more.

crafts: owl fox

I stumbled onto a diy tutorial for a plush fox on A Beautiful Mess a few weekends ago and thought it would be a perfect accent pillow for the chair in Kaylee’s room.

Somewhere along the way though, her fox turned into an owl…

Perhaps because of the short nose/beak, but mostly because I didn’t bother to refer back to the inspiration piece before forging ahead.

Anyway, the fabric is Amy Butler on the front and an old sweater from the Gap on the reverse. In retrospect i wish i put the face on the sweater instead. I had been looking for a project for that sweater for quite a while. I bought it several years ago on a whim. Love the color, it just doesn’t look good on me and while i almost wore it a few times, always ended up pulling it off at the last minute and tossing it back into the closet. So, sadly it has never been worn, but I haven’t been able to part with it either. Using it in this project was helpful. I had been wondering for a while if sewing cut up sweaters to cotton fabric would work, specifically for toys that might see a lot of wear and tear. The seams look sturdy though, and I added double seams in the curves by the ears just in case.

I made fabric covered buttons for the eyes and attached a felt heart to the bum with embroidery floss. Not exactly what I was going for, but not bad for a nap time project either.

crafts: ticket stub frame

Scott and I have spent a lot of time at the movies, it is our favorite cheapish date. I also have a compulsion to save every ticket stub from everything I attend and have accumulated quite a collection over the years of our relationship. They have been tucked away in a box on our mantel since we moved. When I stumbled across a ticket stub shadow box idea on Pinterest a while back I knew it would be perfect. Of course I didn’t repin it and now that I want to talk about it I’m having trouble locating the original site. The best I could find was an image that someone else pinned.  A prime example of some people’s problem with Pinterest. Oops.

I like this version because unlike other examples I have seen where every ticket is layed out just so, this one does not require a huge frame, fiddling with each ticket individually, and allows for practically unlimited additions without rearranging everything. I don’t really care that each ticket is not prominently displayed. I only want to capture the overall impression of this ‘hobby’ along with the passage of time the volume of stubs we have collected implies.

The inspiration piece had a slit in the top for adding additional stubs, a great plus, but I skipped that step because I was lazy and just wanted to get it on the wall. She also used paper as the background and printed up some words to go inside, giving it a more scrapbook feel. I just wrapped some fabric around the frame backing and attached it with double stick tape.

Tada! Oh, and the frame is from Ikea.

food: homemade vanilla extract

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I stumbled across a recipe for vanilla extract on the web last year and the idea has been milling around in the back of my mind ever since. When I saw this tiny jar at Michaels for $1 yesterday I knew it would be perfect for this project. I will say it’s not cheap, well I suppose it could be as cheap as you’re willing to be. I love a good vanilla extract, in fact I really feel it is the make-or-break ingredient for cookies, and most other recipes that call for it. I typically make a special trip up to The Spice House in Milwaukee once a year to pick some up. I prefer the Madagascar variety, but I happened to have a few Tahitian beans on hand from my last trip out there (I typically use the beans for to-die-for homemade vanilla custard, they’re not what I would consider cheap though at $14.95 for three beans).   In the bottle they went, along with enough vodka to fill the jar.

It didn’t look like much at first, and although recipes seem to vary, it should be ready in 6-8weeks with full maturation at around 6  months. A week later the liquid is brown rather than clear. Pretty impressive.

The recipe I used is from Baker Street. I like it because they noted that you need 1/3 cup of vodka per bean – useful info for smaller portions like mine. And the amazing thing about vanilla extract? You can refill the amount you use without adding more beans. Also, you can remove and dry the beans and add them to your sugar jar for vanilla flavored sugar.  For my next batch I’d like to make it with bourbon rather than vodka to see the difference in flavor.