Saturday, December 31, 2011

Family Tree Art

For Christmas this year, I decided to make family tree pedigree charts for my parents and my in-laws. My inspiration was from THIS amazing website. This is how they turned out:
I used the names of my ancestors to form a tree shape! This version does look a little funky because I blocked out some names so that I would feel comfortable sharing on the internet. But I think you still get the idea.

I can't give you a step-by-step tutorial, but here are some general instructions if you would like to attempt a project like this:

1. I gathered all the names for my chart. Here are some websites that might help you: Family Search, Ancestry, or Roots Web. This step might require calling grandparents or other relatives.

2. I typed each name into Photoshop and warped the text to make the names look like branches. To warp text, click on the tab LAYER, scroll down to the word TYPE, and click on WARP TEXT. Then you can choose what shape you want to warp the text to. I chose to do all of the names using the ARCH setting and I just made some arch up and some arch down. This gave me the best results.

3. I created a leaf graphic (look in the custom shapes or download clip art) and added one to the end of each name wherever I could fit them.

4. I downloaded a digital scrapbooking paper that I liked and used it as my background. Then when I went to have it printed, I didn't like the look of the background. So I ended up using sand colored watercolor paper cut to the right size. It look much classier that way.

I printed mine out 11x14 and wouldn't recommend going any smaller. The names get really small and hard to read. In fact, bigger would definitely be better. I also framed them before giving them as gifts.

Hope that helps get you started! And if you don't want to make it yourself, you could always have one made up for you HERE.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

PVC Playhouses

I am excited to show you this project today. For Christmas, I decided to make playhouses for my kids. I saw this and this on Pinterest and they really got my juices flowing. Here are the results:




They are fabric playhouses over a frame made of PVC pipe! How cool is that?!

Just ignore the wrinkly fabric...they had to be hidden away to keep them a surprise for Christmas morning and I haven't gotten around to ironing them yet.

I made them a custom size so they would fit over my kids' toddler beds. We live in an apartment and don't have any other place big enough for them. Plus what kid doesn't want a playhouse fort over their bed?!

The PVC and connections for BOTH playhouses cost $50. And a bonus is that it's easy to take the frame apart for storage or transportation.

Here's a view of the roof from inside the playhouse:I used sheets for the playhouse coverings. I needed two matching sheets for the walls and one coordinating sheet for the roof for each house. I got the pink set (full sized) for $1 on clearance at Walmart (a big score, I know!), and the rest of the sheets from thrift stores on their $1 deal days. The total for all the fabric for BOTH houses was $6. I totally scored on this one. It can be really tough to find matching sheets at a thrift store, but I am here to tell you it can be done!

I used scraps of fabric I already had for the little details, and I spent about $1 on clear vinyl for the windows (don't skip the clear vinyl...it's one of my kids' favorite parts!)

That puts the total for two playhouses to $57. I am very pleased with that!

The hardest part of this project was measuring and making the fabric coverings fit the frame right. The triangle pieces on each end were such a pain! I had to pin, sew, pick it all out, pin again, sew again, etc. until they looked decent. They aren't perfect, but I tell you what, the kids don't care. They LOVE their forts! They were the hit of Christmas for sure.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top Ten Projects of 2011

Today I am linking up with Southern Hospitality's Top Projects of 2011 Party! Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order:


Looking forward to more great projects in 2012!

Gift Idea: Family Home Evening Chart and Lesson Binder

Here's a fun and different gift idea for the mother of a young family. If you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, then you know what a challenge it can be to come up with a good lesson for Family Home Evening each week. I thought my sister would enjoy having a little help, so I put together a binder full of FHE lesson plans complete with a song, lesson, activity and sometimes even a coordinating treat. The binder includes:

story board characters all cut out, colored and laminated,
games stored neatly in envelopes and all ready to go,
visual aids for the lessons,
and all sorts of coloring pages and activities.

I also gave her an FHE chart. Originally I was going to make one, but I found one at Deseret Book on sale and couldn't resist the ease of buying vs. making.

I pulled a lot of the material from this awesome blog. Emilie deserves a medal in my opinion. Her lesson plans are awesome! And she provides great printables and links to coordinating games from The Friend magazine. There are many other great resources available on the Internet if you search for them.

My sister seemed to like the gift and I feel good knowing the next time it's 5:00 on Monday night, she'll have a resource to help her and her family have a great time together.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Nazareth to Bethlehem: A Felt Advent Calendar

While visiting home for Christmas, I finally remembered to take pictures of my mom's advent calendar. She made it at a church craft day years ago and I just love it! The whole thing is made of felt with gold ribbon on the top and bottom edge and a dowel at the top. And the felt is glued on, not sewn! This project would come together really quickly if you want to try to replicate it.
Each day Mary and Joseph move one step closer to Bethlehem.

They stick to the felt with the scratchy side of the Velcro. They are also lined with fusible webbing to make them stiffer.


The other ladies at the craft day wrote their numbers on, but my mom cut hers from felt instead. I like that so much better! I'll be sharing a tutorial on how to cut out nice numbers from felt sometime soon.

On Christmas Day, Mary and Joseph finally make it to the stable...

and Baby Jesus is laid in his manger.

Guess what? I now have a free pattern you can print to make your very own calendar! I even wrote out the instructions! Yippee! What are you waiting for?! CLICK HERE to see the pattern and get started!

How To Make A Felt Picture Book Part 1

There may be better ways to do it, but I thought I'd share how I go about putting a felt book together.

Step 1: Draw the image (or print out clip art) you would like to use. Make sure it is the right size to fit the pages it will be attached to.

Step 2: Begin cutting out parts of the picture to use as pattern pieces. I use clear tape to hold the paper to the felt so it doesn't move around while I'm cutting.

Note that if it's a piece that needs to go under something else, you'll need to cut extra felt around some of the edges. See how I cut extra around Ariel's head so it would stay under her hair?


In the photo below you can see how I have all the pieces cut out (except for the sea shells) and how I cut the paper to make the pattern. Pretty much any time you need a new height or color, you need a separate piece. So the arms and head are the same color, but they are three different pieces. And the band around her waist is higher so it's a separate piece. Make sense?

Step 3: Stitch your picture to the background page! I have found that contrasting stitching adds so much to even a simple shape. I don't use any kind of adhesive or fusible webbing. I just hold it in place and stitch, but you could certainly try fusible webbing if you're worried about pieces moving around. I also don't always use embroidery thread (because it's more expensive and I already have regular thread on hand in multiple colors). To make eyes, I just pull the thread up from the back, tie several knots and the put the needle back through the page. And just an FYI...googly eyes do not last in books like these. Kids pick them off every time without fail!

Hope that helps give you an idea of how to make a book like this. If you need clarification (I think I would if I read this post. ha), leave a comment and I'll try to help!

Part 2 will show you how to bind the book, so check back soon!


To see the finished book, click here.
To see a boyish book, click here or here.

Boyish Felt Name Book

Another Christmas present, this time for my nephew!







Click here to learn how to make a felt book.
Click here to see a girly felt book.
Click here to see another boyish felt book.

Girly Felt Name Book

I finally get to post some of the Christmas presents I've been working on over the last few months. First up is a felt name book I made for my niece. Each page is a letter in her name and a picture that starts with that letter. It's a mixture of hand-stitching and machine stitching.


Don't you just love this polka dot felt? I found it at Hobby Lobby. They have the widest selection of felt around and it's cheaper too!


Click here for a tutorial on how to make felt books.
Click here and here to see boyish felt books.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! We're at Grandma's house and having a grand old time. We've been baking, shopping, playing games, staying up late talking, building gingerbread houses, watching Christmas movies, wrapping presents, singing carols, and shopping some more.


Can't wait for the big day tomorrow!

Check back soon... I'll finally be able to post all the handmade Christmas gifts I've been working on!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Favorite Four-Ingredient Quick Dinner

Who is feeling the Christmas rush? I sure am! I am doing mostly handmade gifts this year and I did not start early enough! I've got so much to do and so little time! EEK!

Since it seems everyone is busy this time of year, I thought I'd share my favorite quick dinner. It takes four ingredients and is ready in the time it takes to cook pasta. My favorite part about this dinner is that it's easy to keep all the ingredients on hand for a dinner emergency.

I ususally buy chicken when the big packages go on sale for a good price. Then I dump the whole package in the crockpot with an onion, cook for 5-6 hours until chicken is done, and freeze individual breasts. Then I always have cooked chicken ready for recipes like this one.




Italian Chicken and Pasta with Vegetables

2 cooked chicken breasts or 2 cups diced ham or whatever you have on hand
1 bag frozen California-style vegetables
16 oz. pasta of your choice (I prefer thicker varieties like penne or shells)
italian dressing

Start water boiling and cook pasta. Cook vegetables in microwave according to package directions. When the pasta is done, toss in vegetables and meat. Add enough italian dressing to coat everything and you've got yourself a delicious, nutritious dinner!If you have more time and less ingredients, you could try making your Italian dressing from scratch. Here's my favorite recipe:



Seasoning Mix:

1 TBSP garlic salt

1 TBSP onion powder

1 TBSP sugar

2 TBSP oregano

1 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp thyme

1 tsp basil

1 tsp parsley

1/4 tsp celery salt

2 TBSP salt


Mix dry seasonings together. Store in an airtight container until you're ready to make dressing.


Dressing:

1/4 cup vinegar

2/3 cup olive oil

2 TBSP water

2 TBSP dry seasonings mix


Whisk all ingredients together before serving.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

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