Friday, December 30, 2011

Meet Marina!

This Christmas I thought very seriously about introducing an American Girl doll to our family.  I know that it can be quite the investment, so I was reluctant to get us started with one of the dolls because my daughter has never been much of a doll kind of girl.  She has an older brother, so she is more of a tomboy.  She loves Beyblades, Pokemon, ninjas, swords, playing battle, video games, her favorite play set is Batman ... you see where we are going here.  She does, however, love her stuffed animals.  She will play pretend with them, cook them meals in her kitchen, feed them plastic meals, organize tea parties with Winnie the Pooh, mend boo-boo's on her Care Bears, and sleeps with her Peaco Ugly Doll every night.  (We love our Ugly Dolls!)  I feel like there is a way to tap into her girly side and find a little doll she will love.  I don't know, I just feel every girl needs a dolly to dress up and love.  I was a tomboy, too, but I had two special dolls, Sally and Patsy that were my mothers dolls and I loved to play pretend with them, be their Mommy, dress them up, put them to bed in their little bunk beds.  I wish I still had those dolls to pass on to her, but sadly they were lost in a fire.  I decided against American Girl, just because more than likely it will be a flop.  I don't mind if she doesn't love something, but not at those prices ;).

One day I was at Joann (I know, big shocker, right?!) and was browsing through eyeballs :) and I came across the sweetest little fabric doll, all naked and alone, nothing but pig tails, shoes, and a sweet little face begging me to give her a home and some CLOTHES, for heavens sake!  She was perfect for Aubrey and at $2, it really didn't matter if it was a flop or not.

I tried very hard to get around to making a cute dress for her doll to be wearing when she opened her, but I was working on getting everything finished in time for Christmas Morning up until 2am, and there just wasn't enough time.  No worry, though.  Aubrey loves to be a bossy betty, so I figured she might enjoy picking out fabric for her dress, and telling me what to make.  It didn't take too long for her to want to cash in on that promise.  Later in the afternoon on Christmas Day I pulled out my bin of felt and told her to pick any colors she wanted for her dress.  She decided she wanted a red and white, so she could have a Christmas dress.  I sketched out a little jumper design on paper and asked her to tell me how she wanted the dress to look, where should it be white, or red, etc.  I got to work cutting and sewing and I have to say, I impressed myself.  I didn't have a pattern and I had no idea if I could even make it happen, but less than an hour later ... Viola!  Our new little doll has a dress!

Now she's looking pretty good and feeling a little more love, but she still needs a name.  I ask Aubrey to give her a name and she tells me to name her.  I tell her I think she should be named Penny.  Penny Lane.  Aubrey gives me a look like - nice try Mom, but that's not it.  I ask her again what she wants to name her and she resends the invitation for me to name her, so again, I say Penny Lane.  And again I receive a look.  I try to ask her to name her, but again, she wants me to do it.  I tell her I need some time to think.  Then she gets the sweetest little smile on her face, with her hands folded under her chin, starts bouncing a little on her toes, and whispers loudly to Pops (who is right next to me), "I hope she picks Marina, I hope, I hope, I hope she picks Marina!"  
Lol ... "How about Marina!" 


Here is my little cutie with her new doll, Marina.  I love the name she picked.  I couldn't figure out how she came up with such a beautiful name on her own.  It wasn't until a few days later we were watching The Fresh Beat Band that it clicked.  Marina is the redhead in the show, who she loves.  I thought that was pretty smart!

(As you can see, Aubrey is sporting her new Pokemon shirt - made by me.  Told you she was a tomboy!  Loves her some Pokemon!)

Aubrey liked her dress, but typical Aubrey - loves to find a negative.  She told me that the dress is too long and it makes her look like a mom.  Well, ok ... you're WELCOME!  As much as her little attitude irritates me, I do love that she has an opinion about what she likes and doesn't like.  She's going to make a great designer someday!  Within a minute of putting her new dress on, Aubrey informed me that she is going to need a summer dress .... that is shorter.  For a little girl.  It has to have rainbow flowers all over it and blue in the background.

I'll get right on it.  

Two days later, I tried to see what fabric I had in my bin that would fit her request.  This was the closest I could get.  It's summery, blue, floral.  No rainbow flowers, but at least I can pinpoint what she will complain about when it is finished, which is helpful for me :).

Here is the finished product!  Marina is ready for Hawaii in her short, summer, blue, floral dress!

I just started working on a sleeping bag for her, so she can go on trips and go camping with us this year.  And if she has a sleeping bag, she's going to need some PJ's!  

Their dad is convinced that this is more a present for me, than for her.  

I see it as a fun way for us to play and work together, while nurturing the little designer, artist, visionary in her and giving her a more constructive way to boss me around and voice her opinions, likes, and dislikes.  

If anything, Marina has been really good for practicing my free hand pattern making skills.  I am pretty impressed that I was able to make a jumper without any pattern, just based on my memory and experience making them for Aubrey.  The skill it takes to make a little outfit for her is going to translate into making outfits for me, so I'm pretty happy about all the time and effort put into making her little outfits and accessories for her new doll, Marina.

Periodically, as Aubrey and I design and make new outfits and accessories for Marina, I will share them on here!  

I also wanted to share a little friend I made for my fur baby.  As I mentioned above, we all love our Ugly Dolls.  Everyone in the family has one ... except Mississippi, our dog.  Poor Mississippi misses her cat buddy, Tomas.  I thought it might be nice if Mississippi had an Ugly Cat to keep her company when are away.  Here is Mississippi and her new Ugly Cat doll made by Mom :).  Now someone can stare at her as much as she stares at me.  

Have fun gearing up for the New Year!  I need to start looking for some fun ideas to ring in the New Year with the kids.  This is the first year we are going to see if they can make it to midnight.  In the past years we have been able to fake it by watching the ball drop on the east coast (maniacal laughter), but this year Bayne is too smart for that kind of trickery.  

Does anyone have any fun ideas for the kids for New Years?  Feel free to share!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Holiday Fun and New Traditions!

I hope everyone had a very fantastic holiday filled with laughter and love.  We had a great Christmas in our house.  I'm still trying to organize my apartment to accommodate all our new, wonderful additions we were so blessed to receive.  It's been a lot of work, but one by one I am re-organizing all our rooms.  I know it will feel great once it's finished.

I wanted to share a fun little activity we did during our Christmas clean up.  I found this activity on Pinterest.  It is more for younger toddlers, but it looked so fun I couldn't help myself.

It's a "Tunnel of Lights" made by punching a bunch of holes in a cardboard box and inserting the lights through the holes.  I just stabbed the box a bunch of times with a large nail ... think Dexter.  It was a fun little farewell to the last of the big boxes and holiday decor in our house for another year.  I think I had as much fun in the box as they did!

 I know a lot of families out there added the new Elf on a Shelf tradition to their homes.  I thought it was pretty cute and enjoyed watching all the things other people were doing with their elf.  We did not get an elf, but it got my wheels spinning.  I had a bunch of white furry fabric and some plastic eyeballs.  Aubrey also had a dream of throwing snowballs on Christmas morning and my son is completely ninja obsessed at the moment.  And when he is obsessed, so is Aubrey.  It all came together and a new Christmas tradition was born.

Meet the Ninja Snowballs!

These fuzzy little guys are so cute.  We ended up wrapping them each separately with a note that says, "I am a ninja snowball.  Throw me at someone!"  Next year, I doubt they will need a note ;).  I make sure to hand one out to each person in the family, so we all get a chance.  There is one that is bigger than the other three.  It was fun!  There were random snowball fights every day until I packed them up for next year.  No one was too happy about that.  I guess that means they were a success!

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Few Fun Festive Crafts! There's still time!

This year we have done a lot of homemade crafts for gifts and decorations.  I always have loved doing homemade crafts for gifts and holiday decor, but this year I've taken it to a whole new level.

I just wanted to share a couple fun decorations the kids and I have done for our home.  I will share a few of the fun gifts we made for the neighbors and friends soon.  I'd show you today, but I might spoil the surprise for someone ;).

Here is a fun craft you can do with the kids that might help them get out of your hair for a few minutes.  It is a printable nativity scene that the kids can color and cut out and then you glue the pieces onto toilet paper rolls.  I have been saving our empty rolls for a while now, but it won't take much more than a paper towel roll and a few toilet paper rolls.

Here is how ours came out:

Here is the link to the printable nativity scene and the instructions - Nativity Scene Printable

For myself, I found this adorable craft, make your own mistletoe kissing ball.  I had all the ingredients laying around, so I had to do it.  I am always looking for an excuse to cover my kids in kisses and I had a feeling this would be fun for both kids to AVOID getting kissed by one another.  Boy, was I right!  Daily, they are either standing under it and taunting the other person to come and kiss them and then running away or one is trying to drag the other underneath it.  Then there are those precious moments when they both find themselves under there together and cover one another with kisses.  Plus, I have been getting so much extra love and kisses from both of them,  I might leave it up all year long. :)  Here is my mistletoe:

Here is the link to the pattern - Mistletoe Kissing Ball Tutorial
The only suggestions I would like to add to the tutorial are:
1) When you cut the wavy lines between the two green rectangles, don't be afraid to go close to the edges.  I would leave only a half and inch to an inch of space.  I didn't cut mine too deep and it left me with a huge center when I glued the two halves together that was hard to fluff out and make it look full.
2) When you glue the two centers together, glue the ribbon in between the two halves of mistletoe.  I glued mine on top and after finishing, I think it would have been best to glue it in the center for extra support.

Then I have a couple special decorations that I have added to our tradition.  My cat of 15 years, Tomas, passed away in August.  I find myself missing her a lot this time of year.  She has always had her own stocking, a Christmas ornament for the tree, a special Christmas frame with a sweet kitten picture of her in her Christmas scarf, her Christmas scarf, and another little Christmas holly piece I used to put on her for "fun" torture.  As I pulled each piece out of the Christmas box it made me miss her that much more.  I am at peace with her parting because she was very ill and had lived a long happy life, and died peacefully and perfectly, but it doesn't stop me from loving her and missing her sweet face, her warmth, and her company on these cold winter nights.  I found a couple ways to honor her memory and keep her alive in spirit in our home each Christmas.

My Tomas statue that my mom bought me for my birthday after Tomas passed away.  Now my "Tomas" can still wear her scarf each and every year :).  This makes me very happy and comforts me.  Even our dog, Mississippi, stopped to take a long sniff ... I think she may miss Tomas the most.

This is a sign I had made for my garden.  I started creating this "safe space" on the patio for Tomas just before she passed away.  She loved being outside, but we are on a very busy road.  The garden is sparse right now because it's winter, but I hope it will be in full bloom with herbs this spring and my "Tomas" will be able to hang in the shade in spirit and enjoy the fresh air.  I decided to hang the other christmas piece I loved to dress her up torture with every year on this sign.

I hope you all are staying warm and are all finished with your shopping and are ready to enjoy the festivities, food, family and fun!!!  Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

It SNOWED!!!! California Style!

The kids have been dying to visit the snow this year.  Aubrey, my youngest, is convinced that when she wakes up on Christmas Day it will be snowing and she's going to go outside and make a snowman and throw snowballs after opening her presents.  I've been trying to explain to her that, short of a miracle, it's probably not going to happen!  Lucky for her, she has a creative Mom whose mind is always planning the next fun way I can take a shot making her dreams come true.  In this case, I couldn't get her real snow, but here is my fun take on bring some fake snow to her!

In other news .... I cleaned out all my old bill stubs from the last year and got them all nicely shredded and ready for recycling! ;0)

My homies chillin' in the snow!

My Little Snowman :)

I'm trying out a new Ice Princess hair-do

My buddy catching up on some reading in his igloo.

The kids have been having fun all evening throwing snowballs at each other, making snowmen, and snow angels.  I didn't have the heart to sweep it all up tonight.  They can play for one more day, but then I predict a warm front is going to move through sometime tomorrow afternoon and melt the snow away into the recycling bin.  

Hope you all are staying warm and finding ways to keep the kids happy and having fun this vacation!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Easy Way to Personalize Your Stockings

Just a quick fly by post.  I'm in the middle of last minute crafting craziness.  I haven't had much down time, but I wanted to share a cool thing I did to our plain old red and green stockings.

We have had these stockings for years.  Red for girls, green for boys.  I only see them once a year, so I've never felt the need for anything more fancy than that.  This year Bayne requested to have his name put on his.  Well, my little man has been very good this year, so I was happy to make that request happen.

I forgot to take before pictures of the stockings (I really need to get better about that!) and as usual, I only have my iPhone and not the best lighting, so the pictures aren't the best quality.  Here is the finished product!

Aubrey and Bayne

We don't have a fire place and I plan on painting this wall after the holidays, so I just nailed everything up there ... lol.  Gotta make due with what you have.

I messed mine up.  I thought it would be cool to put the names the other direction, since we were hanging them opposite the kids.  It worked for Mom, but when I tried to do Pops in the direction I did Mom I realized it would look backward and wrong.  Oh well, Mom has always been a little odd.

This is so easy to do and it doesn't require any sewing.  Just an iron and some scissors.  I used the computer to make a template for the letters.  I just went into Word and found a cool font and printed the letters I needed in a large size.

Then you trace the letters in reverse on the back of heat bond (pictured below).  Be sure to get the red, no- sew package.  Get a piece of felt, any color you choose (I used white) and iron the heat bond letters to the back of the felt.  After it cools, cut out the letters and peel off the paper backing and iron onto the stocking.
Red package of heat bond - no sew
And there you have it!  I now have a happy little boy and some cool upgraded personalized stockings I can use year after year.  And best of all ... there will be no arguing over whose stocking is whose ... peace on Earth, good will toward men.   Merry Christmas Everyone!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Advent Calendar

Everyone sees the Advent Calendars popping up in the stores around this time of year.  I remember them fondly.  Cute little cardboard Santa box with little flaps you can open up for a surprise 20 year old crappy piece of chocolate from God knows where.  Somewhere in the last 30 years the magic of them has worn off and left me with the reality of wondering how long that chocolate has actually been sitting inside those little cardboard flaps.  I mean, some of those Advent Calendars looks incredibly similar to the ones I had when I was a kid ... coincidence ..... maybe, but I'm not about to try it out on my kids.

I started looking for a cute Advent Calandar idea that I could make and stuff myself.  I stumbled upon the most adorable and EASY calendar at All Sorts, an amazing blog - and if you click on the link you will find a tutorial for this cute calendar!  Be warned, though, her sight is serious eye candy!  I got lost on her blog for hours.  Here is her cute little Advent Calendar made from felt, embroidery thread, buttons, and ribbon or fabric scraps.

She has hers hung beautifully in the background over the fireplace
I cannot take a very nice photo of mine with my little iPhone camera and poor lighting, not to mention I have no fireplace or fancy decor in my little humble apartment, but I will share my finished product anyway.  Just believe me when I say the look adorable in person :)!

I had to hang the high and above the sewing table, so little sneaky hands can't get into them when I am distracted.

I didn't want to pass out chocolate every day of the week or spoil them with toys each day and set a precedent for coming years.  I was going to do lego mini figures, but those can be expensive.  I had already purchased a bunch of stocking stuffers for the kids and one of them was these tiny little Pokemon figures I ordered off ebay from Japan.  My kids LOVE Pokemon and little figures seem to be all the rage these days.  I dug them out and they couldn't be more perfect.  There were exactly 48 and 2 fit just perfectly in the small envelopes (which I made a tiny bit wider than she did).  That way each day one kid is the first to stick their hand in the envelope and pick the first mystery Pokemon and then the other kid gets the other one.  It has been a big hit!  They have fun going to and looking up their characters in the Pokedex. 

Bayne's Pokemon

Aubrey's Pokemon
My next fun craft is to make shoe box scenes for the kids to play with their characters on.  I can't wait to see what we come up with.  I will share once we are finished.  

Happy Holidays!!!