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So Long, Farewell

23 Jun

My good friend Kelly is moving. Not down the street or even to another town, but to another state. Sure it’s a neighboring state, but one that is six hours away.

Kel and her husband have three boys; it seems so cruel to take away some of the Bird’s role models and playmates, doesn’t it? She should be forced to stay, right?

Sadly, the moving van comes today and on Tuesday morning the family will follow. I waited as long as I could to give her this gift in the hope that they would change their minds. Alas, it seems to be a done deal.

Next week they will add Charlotte, NC to to the list of cities where they have made their home. *sigh*

As for how I made the sign, it’s pretty simple. A basic knowledge of Photoshop helps, but I think you could modify this idea without it.

Family Journey Art

You Need:

  • picture frame, possibbly an uncut photo mat as well
  • paper cutter, scissors or x-axcto knife
  • photo prints of your cities

Directions:

Decide what size you need your images to be and what kind of frame you need. This part is hard for me to help you plan since the number of cities and frame sizes could vary wildly. But, for sake of simplicity, I had three cities to highlight so I decided on prints that ended up being 5 x 6 once trimmed (printed on 5 x 7 and cut an inch off).

Visit the watercolor section of the Stamen maps website and enter a location. In the example below, I entered Ocean City, Md – my hometown. Play with the size and perspective until you get want you want, then click on IMAGE in the top right corner. Choose your size. I made my cities square, but other dimensions may work for your needs (especially if you don’t use Photoshop). I also downloaded them in the highest pixels measurements so that  they were easier to work with in Photoshop. It’s a lot easier to make something smaller than bigger.  So in the example below you’re seeing 500 x 500 but when I made the images I actually used for Kelly’s print I used 2000 x 20000.

Using Photoshop, I created a new canvas – 5 x 7 at 300 dpi. I opened my city images and sized them to fit with equal border at the top, left and right. There was more white space at the bottom where I typeset the name of the city. Each city name is written in the same font, but a different color. All of those colors were chosen from the watercolor maps. The font is EcuyerDAX and it’s free.

I saved the images as jpgs and had them printed at the drug store. Once home, I trimmed off one inch of white space from the bottom of the 5 x 7 prints and using double sided tape carefully mounted them on an uncut piece of photo matting material. Then I just had to pop them in the frame.

If you are not a Photoshop user, I suggest making your map in 4×6 or 5×7 photo ratio and simply sending it to print without the city name label. Buy a collage frame that has the right number of opening and insert your pictures. If you want to label the locations, think of a way to do so on the photo mat.

That’s it. Pretty easy, right? Here’s a closer look at the three cities in the piece I made for Kelly.

Do you have any friends packing up and moving away? How have you marked their departure?

Flag Day Printables

14 Jun

Don happens to share his birthday with the most important of the lesser known American holidays – Flag Day. Every year, I get to throw a big party for his birthday as long as I bill it as a Flag Day party.

Basically this means decorating for the Fourth of July a few weeks early and serving lots of red, white and blue foods.

This year I made two new pieces of decor I thought I would share with you.

Our front door will be adorned with this little sign (minus the Sweet Little Nest logo at the bottom):

I had it printed on poster board at Costco, but it occurs to me that it won’t be weather resistant. If I like the way it looks, maybe I will make a slightly smaller version next year and put it in a frame on the door.

I also had this sign printed on poster board. This one will be placed inside the house right next to doors that lead out to the patio.

I’m into the chalkboard backgrounds lately as you may have gathered from the Bird’s monthly photo projects.

Here is what the images look like without the Sweet Little Nest logos:

If you’d like to print your own signs for Flag Day or Independence Day, here are the files you need:

If you print them at home, you should be able to print on whatever size paper you have handy.

DIY Air Freshener Made with Coffee Grounds*

26 Mar

The Bird’s nursery has one of those odor trapper diaper pails that does an okay job of keeping the room from smelling like a public toilet … but it’s never as fresh as I want. It always smells vaguely of baby pee (better than the alternative, I suppose). I bought one of those plug-in liquid air fresheners, but the scent (while pleasant enough) was just too strong.

Then I saw this great idea on Pinterest. While I was thinking about a container, I noticed that Don was sprinkling coffee grounds in the diaper pail in the The Bird’s room. Coffee grounds are a natural odor neutralizer. Great idea, Don.

You Will Need:

  • Coffee grounds, dried well (as not to promote mold)
  • Small tin container
  • Small piece of breathable fabric like tullle
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Glue or double sides tape

Instructions:

My container had a plastic insert for the lid so I popped it out. If yours has an all metal lid, you will need a rubber band and a ribbon.

Cut your scrapbook paper into a strip that will fit around your tin. Attach to tin with double-sided tape or glue.

Fill your tin with coffee grounds.

Place small piece of fabric over the top of the tin. If your lid was all metal, secure the fabric in place with a rubber band and top with a ribbon. If you had a lid with a plastic insert, put the lid without the plastic on top of the fabric.

That’s it. Give the tin a shake when the air is a little stale. Refill with fresh grounds from time to time.

* I realized that shoving a DIY tutorial onto the end of a post largely not about air fresheners demonstrated poor organizational technique, so you may have already read this trick in its original location.

Making Progress in the Nursery

18 Mar

So … remember back  in December when Don and I became parents with 12 hours notice? Yeah, it’s kind-of hard to forget. Anyway, we didn’t have much of nursery to speak of then. We had a room that had been painted yellow with a nice light fixture. Oh – and I stenciled some walls. But that was pretty much the extent of it.

Fast forward three months and I’d say the nursery is about 90 percent done.

Here’s a rough outline of work needed in the room:

  • Get a crib
  • Copy this look for a shelf / changing table
  • Decide if more stencil is needed on additional walls
  • Make custom roman blinds
  • Sew some pillow covers
  • Buy a rug
  • Get some containers for blankets, toys and dirty clothes
  • Make some custom art
  • Figure out the best way to use the walk-in closet as baby storage and a linen closet
  • Remove baseboards around bed in order to make the trundle bed flush against the wall (and in order to be able to close the closet door)
  • Find a storage unit for under the crib since this one is no longer available


And here’s a look at where we are:

  • Get a crib
  • Copy this look for a shelf / changing table
  • Decide if more stencil is needed on additional walls (The answer was, “yes.”)
  • Make custom roman blinds  (Still need to add black-out lining)
  • Sew some pillow covers
  • Buy a rug
  • Get some containers for blankets, toys and dirty clothes
  • Make some custom art (We ended up with one typography print mounted on wood, one piece of paper art mounted on canvas, a tissue paper pom pom piece, a scrapbook paper baby bunting / flag banner and a couple of smaller items)
  • Figure out the best way to use the walk-in closet as baby storage and a linen closet
  • Remove baseboards around bed in order to make the trundle bed flush against the wall (and in order to be able to close the closet door)
  • Find a storage unit for under the crib since this one is no longer available

In this picture you can see a whole bunch of projects:

Three of our large custom art projects are visible in this picture (the typography print, the paper on canvas piece, the pom poms), one of our mini projects (a tin air freshener), a large yellow and gray clothes basket and my homemade air freshener. You can also see a huge basket of baby clothes that need to be laundered.

I will write up tutorials for these projects in more detail, but here’s a quick one for now.

Homemade Air Freshener 

I saw this great idea on Pinterest. While I was thinking about a container, I noticed that Don was sprinkling coffee grounds in the diaper pail in the The Bird’s room. Coffee grounds are a natural odor neutralizer. Great idea, Don.

You Will Need:

  • Coffee grounds, dried well (as not to promote mold)
  • Small tin container
  • Small piece of breathable fabric like tullle
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Glue or double sides tape

Instructions:

My container had a plastic insert for the lid so I popped it out. If yours has an all metal lid, you will need a rubber band and a ribbon.

Cut your scrapbook paper into a strip that will fit around your tin. Attach to tin with double-sided tape or glue.

Fill your tin with coffee grounds.

Place small piece of fabric over the top of the tin. If your lid was all metal, secure the fabric in place with a rubber band and top with a ribbon. If you had a lid with a plastic insert, put the lid without the plastic on top of the fabric.

That’s it. Give the tin a shake when the air is a little stale. Refill with fresh grounds from time to time.

DIY Nursery or Holiday Bunting Banners

27 Jan

My current obsession is making paper banners for the house. Remember when I posted my inspiration board for the nursery way back before we even knew about our little man? Here it is again:

Nursery Inspiration

See number 10 there? That’s a Baby Bunting Banner from this Etsy shop. I just loved it. We registered for it using Amazon universal registry / wish list option, but no one bought it. No matter. I’m all kinds of crafty so I decided to make one myself. But, time being somewhat limited these days and with the nursery only partially done, I decided it would be faster and easier to make a banner from scrapbook paper.

Here’s my banner:

Holy moly! It was so easy that I knocked out two more for Valentine’s Day.



Now for the fun part. I made three easy templates so that you can make your own.

You will need:

  • Scrapbook Paper
  • Ribbon
  • Scissors
  •  Template of your desired size*

You might need:

  • A hole puncher
  • High quality, clear craft glue
  • Thin piece of cardboard or card stock
  • Letter stencils
  • Markers

Here’s what you do:
  1. Choose your template from the three options provided (or make your own)
  2. Print onto a regular sheet of paper.
  3. Cut along the lines so that you have the shape you want to make on thin printer paper. If you would like to make a sturdier template, trace your cutout on a thicker sheet of paper or even some thin cardboard and then cut that out.
  4. Using either the thin cutout you made with printer paper or your sturdier template, trace your shape with a pencil on the back on of the scrapbook paper you want to use. If you are using 8.5 x 11 inch paper for the 8.5 inch two-pointed flag you only need trace the mid line and the two triangular points since the template is one half of the sheet of paper. Same holds true for the smaller templates if you are using the papers from one of those mini-cardstock books (4.5 and 6.5 inches).
  5. Carefully cut out your shape on the scrapbook paper. Repeat until you have as many flags done as you would like.
  6. The triangle flags look great as is, but the two-pointed flags are meant to have something else on them. I cut out little hearts for the smaller banner and glued them on. I used a ABC letter stencil to trace the words “Be Mine” onto the burlap-looking banner and then colored it in with a red marker.
  7. Decide how to string your banner. I glued the nursery banner to some white pom pom ribbon and the fireplace banner to orange rick rack. The Be Mine Banner has two small holes punched in each corner and is then threaded with very thin red ribbon.
  8. Hang on wall. Stand back. Admire.
That’s it! See how easy?
* Here are the templates
  1. 8.5 inch two-pointed flag (half of of 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper)
  2. 4.5 inch two-pointed flag (half of one 4.5 x 6.5 sheet of paper – the kind you buy in a mini cardstock book at the craft store)
  3. 4.5 inch triangular flag

If you have the time and patience, you can also make these with fabric – sew or no-sew versions. I might remake the one for the nursery eventually, but this does the trick for now.
If you make one, share a picture with me, won’t you?

Stenciling a Wall

12 Nov

Well, I did it. I Made a Move on That Room.

And, as you know from my last mini-post, I added a pretty major element to the room. I stenciled some walls.

What? That wasn’t on my inspiration board.

Nursery Inspiration

See? No stencils whatsoever. But even when I put this board together I was thinking about it. In fact, when I posted the link on Facebook I went so far as to ask if anyone had stenciled a whole wall.

Working up my courage to do it was pretty hard, I have to say. Sure, it’s just paint. But if I didn’t like it, repainting would involve sanding the walls to smooth out the extra layer of paint on the stencil and then repainting with Light Yellow. I dreaded the thought of that so I knew I’d have to love it if I went forward with this project.

A few weeks back I looked at the full wall stencils in AC Moore and there were a couple I liked. After I posted my inspiration board, I decided to go for the stencil.

Here’s the first one I bought (yes, I said first one):

I really like the graphic design. A lot. But something just didn’t see quite right about it.

While I was at the store, I also picked up this little stencil for just $4.

I loved the spirals, and they definitely matched the inspiration board better – but they were too small. It’s hard to tell without any perspective, but the largest of these spiral is about the side of a saucer. I was hoping for the largest to be nearly dinner plate sized.

At home. I practiced the painting and tested some colors on a piece of wall board left over from our renovation. I used the small spiral piece and a Greek key stencil I had left from a different project. I didn’t want to use the the full wall stencil because I still wasn’t sold on it and it cost $20.

The next weekend, I returned to AC Moore and decided to walk back down the stencil aisle. There, tucked behind an animal print stencil, I found this:

It’s the same pattern as the small border on a larger scale. The largest spiral is much, much bigger.

Woo hoo! I had some stenciling to do.

On the way home, I stopped by Benjamin Moore and had their color expert helped me pick out a nice grey to go with my Light Yellow wall. We settled on Marilyn’s Dress.

Back at home I did one more test on the wall board and I was ready to go. This was around 9 p.m. on a Saturday night. Yeah, I’m fun like that.

I gathered my supplies – a sample quart of Marilyn’s dress, a super smooth foam paint roller, paper towels, painter’s tape and floor protection (newspaper). I started by putting tape over the baseboards and outlet covers.

Protecting the outlets and the baseboards.

Then I took several deep breaths. Really, several dozen deep breaths. Maybe 100. Seriously, this part lasted for a while.

Finally I taped the stencil into place.

Tape the stencil into place

Oh – before we took the picture above where I am actually taping the stencil, we took this one for the son of a friend of Don’s.

Casey is helpful.

Isn’t he cute? I banished him from the room right after this picture was taken.

With the stencil in place, I covered my roller with paint and then wiped the excess on a paper towel. All the tutorials I read online stressed the importance of this step because the paint needs to be thin in order not to bleed outside of the stencil edges.

Rolling the excess paint onto a paper towel

Finally – gulp – finally it was time to actually apply the paint to the wall. More deep breathing ensued.

I did it! Paint goes onto the stencil, and the wall.

Then I carefully peeled back the stencil, and … I loved it!

The first stencil. Sorry it's so dark. Remember that it was about 10 p.m. by this time.

Here’s what it looked like after 4 stencils were applied. I turned them into a different direction each time to vary the pattern.

I shifted the stencil on all four of these to keep it looking somewhat random.

Here is that whole once it was done.

The first section is *nearly* done. See that small area to the right of the outlet? There was a small crack in the wall board that we need to fix before we can stencil it.

Here I am pleased with my progress.

Yay! I did it. I conquered the stencil.

Then I tackled the wall on the other side of the dormer.

Wall two is done.

And that’s it for now. We might add a few more star bursts in the room, but the half walls are the only two getting the all over treatment.

In the meantime, I’m holding on to the Moroccan stencil because I like it so much. Maybe I’ll use it in another room.

What do you think? Are you glad we went with the kaleidoscope pattern? Should I return the Moroccan pattern, or hold on to it for now?

Make a Move on that Room: Preview

3 Nov

Well, I did it. I Made Move on that Room. Here’s a little preview of what happened.

20121103-230059.jpg

Grey and Yellow Nursery

24 Oct

When we last left off, Don and I had been encouraged by our adoption specialist to “make a bucket list”. Yeah, she actually said that. Among the the activities that should go on said bucket list is decorating the nursery.

It’s funny, really, because both Don and I were sure they originally told us NOT to decorate the nursery. When I asked her about it, she clarified that now is a good time to decorate the nursery but if we find ourselves in a match before we get around to nursery decor then it’s suggested we wait until after the baby comes home.  It’s a precaution that they suggest in case of disruption. Apparently if you decorate the nursery with a specific baby in mind, it’s much more difficult to face the room after a disruption.

Of course, I’ve been thinking about what the nursery should look like for well over a year – partly because we’re excited to NEED a nursery and partly because when we remodeled the house last year we had to make a few decisions about that room. The wall color and the light fixture have been up for nearly a year now, but we’ve largely ignored the room since then. I wish it still looked that tidy, but we’ve used it for storage and other random junk so it’s a little purposeless right now. There’s an ironing board in the middle of the room, the bed is covered with towels we use for Casey that I don’t want to mix in with our own towels (it’s not that I don’t want his towels in with ours, but I don’t want Don to grab one of our nice towels to wipe down a muddy dog).  There are two pieces of furniture that aren’t nursery appropriate but that I don’t want to give away yet. And there’s a stack of art pieces destined for a gallery wall in the upstairs hallway.

So I decided to get my butt in gear and make a move on that room. I guess I was inspired by John and Sherry’s “Dude, Get on That Already,” projects over on Young House Love, though they started getting on that way back in January and I’m just starting to think about making my move.

So before I could bring myself to do the boring parts of the project, I decided some pretty inspiration would be in order. Here it is, my nursery inspiration.

Nursery Inspiration

1. Baby Crib Mobile by hingmade on Etsy

2. Hampton Bay Sadie Collection ceiling light from Home Depot

3. Yellow and grey owl from a whole bunch of places like this Etsy shop

4. Decorative Owl pillow by WhimsySweetWhimsy on Etsy

5. Handmade Botanic Gardens Grey Wool Rug on Overstock

6. That wall color we picked out a year ago, Light Yellow by Benjamin Moore

7. Gulliver crib in white from Ikea. I would have been skeptical of a crib from Ikea, but it has great reviews from Baby Bargains and real life owners.

8. Art project I made for the room. I smell future post!

9. Greyt / silver pillows I already made for the window seat in the room. The match the roman shades I made. Another future post?

10. Yellow dot and grey chevron fabric bunting from LittleFreeRadical on Etsy

Okay, no more delays. It’s time to Make a Move on That Room. This weekend, I own you.

Stock the Bar: A co-ed wedding shower

6 Jul

The agency-provided documents on preparing for a successful match instructed us to stay busy during the period of time we’re waiting.

Well, that hasn’t been an issue so far.

Right after we activated our crazy summer schedule kicked in. We had our annual Flag Day party one weekend and the very next weekend we hosted a co-ed bridal shower.

Our friends Kate and Ed are getting married in October and Don and I are both in the wedding party. Maid of Honor, Clare, and I planned a very cool Stock the Bar party for the happy couple who are both craft cocktail connoisseurs.

First, there was the Rickey bar.

Oh, Rickey. You're so fine.

 

What’s a Rickey? Well, I’m so glad you asked.

You're so fine you blow my mind.

 

We also featured other classic cocktails like Dark ‘N Stormys, Pimm’s Cups, Moscow Mules and fabulously dangerous gin punch.

As you can see on the Rickey bar sign above, there was a definite art deco vibe going on at this party. The black and white accents were hard to miss.

The bar was stocked at this Stock the Bar party.

 

Scattered around the party were these easy centerpieces – just an assortment of white flowers in liquor bottles.

Seven centerpieces made from pretty alcohol bottles

 

I love the way they turned out.

Adorning our mantle. Hey, isn't that a Nice Mirror back there?

 

Casey had a great time at the party, too.

Casey loves a good puppy den and will make one just about anywhere.

 

I’ve mentioned before that while I can rock party food and decor, planning party games is not my thing. Well, my losing streak might be over.

Kate and Ed love Cards Against Humanity, a party game billed as Apples to Apples for Horrible People.

**Warning: Before you click on the Cards Against Humanity link you should be aware that some of the responses are truly horrible.**

The guys who created Cards Against Humanity are so nice (not at all horrible) that they make the entire game available for free online (or you can buy a nice professional version of the game).

About a week before the shower, I had a great idea for the shower game. Cards Against Humanity: The Kate & Ed edition.

First, I printed out all the possible answers from the CAH website. I wrote the number “1″ on every card for the first sheet of answers, number “2″ on the second and so forth, and then cut each card out. In the end I had 23 answer packs each with 20 possible answers.

Then I created new questions pertinent to the situation. Questions included:

  • Until she married him, Kate had no idea Ed had a thing for ______________________.
  • Ed was sure to dress carefully for the wedding to avoid _______________________.
  • When  Kate pictured her wedding night, she couldn’t help but wonder about ____________________.
  • The thing that surprised Ed most about his honeymoon was _______________________.
  • Years later, when people spoke of Kate and Ed’s wedding, they always mentioned the ____________________.

I hung the 12 questions around the house with an envelope below each sign. As guests arrived they were given an answer pack and told to remember only their number. Then they just had to roam around the house choosing their best answer for each question and placing them in the envelopes below the questions.

I can’t remember all the winning combos, but here are a couple of possibilities:

  • Until she married him, Kate had no idea that Ed had a thing for soup that is too hot.
  • Ed was sure to dress carefull for the wedding to avoid peeing a little bit.
  • When Kate pictured her wedding night, she couldn’t help but wonder about the miracle of childbirth.
  • The thing that suprised Ed most about his honeymoon was all you can eat shrimp for $4.99.
  • Years later, when people spoke of Kate and Ed’s wedding, they always mentioned the Care Bear stare.

Later when Kate and Ed opened gifts, we read the questions and answers in between gifts. Kate and Ed picked the answer they liked best and announced the number written on the back. The owner of the most winning numbers got a bottle of gin.

I have never laughed so hard during a shower game. It’s a great option for people who aren’t likely to be into traditional shower games. If the CAH answers are a little too edgy for your crowd, just use the answers from Apples to Apples. It will be every bit as funny:

  • When Kate pictured her wedding night, she couldn’t help but wonder about Regis Philben.
  • Years later, when people spoke of Kate and Ed’s wedding, they always mentioned the charging rhinos.

Incidentally, both versions of the game work equally well for a baby shower:

  • Mama’s name did not expect to find ____________________ on the maternity ward.
    (CAH answer: A monkey smoking a cigar, A2A answer: Richard Simmons)
  • Some say the baby looks like mom. Some vote for dad. Most think the baby looks like ___________.
    (CAH answer: Brittany Spears at 55, A2A answer: Elvis Presley)

The last thing you need to know about Kate and Ed’s Stock the Bar party is that I made these whiskey caramels as the party favor gifts. They. Are. Amazing.

Seriously. You should go make some right now.

Have you thrown any showers lately? What games did you play?

Sweet Little Nest(laces)

18 Jun

Three Sweet Little Nest Necklaces - ready for presentation

Yes, I know we just celebrated Father’s Day … but I haven’t told you about the Mother’s Day gifts I made a loooong time ago. I have a whole bunch of new mom friends who are super busy being awesome moms and working full time so it took me a couple of months to get these presents distributed. I couldn’t really share the pictures before I had presented the gifts, you know? Actually, I still have one to give (Katy – pretend you didn’t see this post, okay?).

I saw this idea on, duh, Pinterest - the filing system for all that is awesome on the Interwebs. Tutorials abound: here and here.

They seemed like a great gift from the blogger behind SWEET LITTLE NEST, huh?

I really love how my first attempts turned out and I think I could get even better over time. The wire wrapping takes a little practice so the more you make, the better you’ll get.

The nest with three eggs was gifted to my friend Kelly, mom of three great boys (her youngest is about 6 weeks old)

The chains also came from Michael’s, though I think I will order something different if I decide I want to make some more (other than one here or there for new moms).

The single egg nests were given to my friends Jaimie and Katy. They both have infant sons as well.

On the back of the cards I stamped one of my signature birds (we used these birds on the bag of our Christmas cards, as well). While not a perfect match for our blog header, I think it gets the point across.

 

The reverse side of the gift tags was blank so I was able to stamp a little bird back there.



Speaking of Pinterest, I tried a few new recipes for a Flag Day party we had this weekend. Remember that on our list of family favorites for the adoption placement agency I said that my favorite tradition is hosting a backyard bash to welcome summer and Don’s birthday? Well, Don’s birthday falls on Flag Day so we always call this our Flag Day party and theme it red, white and blue. I wanted to make some themed desserts so I tried out this red, white and blue trifle from Skinny Taste.

This picture is a little dark. I guess I should have taken the photo outside like the one I found on Skinny Taste. At any rate, it tastes awesome. Two thumbs up.

I also made a version of Martha Stewart’s No Bake Cheesecake recipe. I made my mine in individual plastic cups, though. I really like the way they turned out. Maybe I will post the instructions in a future post since I shot some pictures along the way.

Hats off to these flag cupcakes.

So, how about you? Did you make any of your pins a reality over the weekend? How was Father’s Day?