Friday, October 26, 2012

Last Minute Kid and Family Halloween Costumes

Here is a roundup of some easy, fun Halloween costumes. Most of these can be made last minute so you still have plenty of time. After all, last minute is 10 p.m. on October 30th, right?

Mama and Baby Zebra and Zookeeper
So this one probably required the most legwork, but you could easily get some faux fur and just stick it to a black sweatsuit for both mama and baby.  The baby zebra was found at a consignment shop for less than $10.  The dress for mama zebra I found at a consignment shop.  I found the hat and gloves at Target and the legwarmers were either from Target or a Halloween shop.  The zookeeper was super simple with brown pants, khaki shirt and hat.  We covered the logo on the hat with a made up zoo logo and put on a zookeeper name tag.  It was fun and we got TONS of compliments.  I think it was pretty cute if I do say so myself.

zebra love

No Sew Spider and Web - great for baby wearing!
I knew I'd be wearing my 2-month-old last year so it didn't make much sense to put her in a costume that no one would ever see.  So this costume was perfect.  We got SOOOO many complements.  I bought a white sheet at the Goodwill Outlet Center, which means I paid maybe 25 cents for it!  I cut it so it wouldn't drag on the ground and then cut a head hole in the middle.  I didn't bother to hem it or sew around the head hole.  Then I laid it on the floor and used a large tip sharpie to draw the web.  I cut a black oval out of felt for the spider body and simply pinned it to the sheet in the appropriate spot.  I gathered some long socks in fun coordinating prints (you could do all black of course but I like the whimsy of the prints) and stuffed them with some cheap stuffing.  Then pinned each end where I wanted them on the sheet.  I found a black kids hat for $1 at Target and cut out some white circles out of felt and some smaller black felt circles for the eyes.  I glued the eyes to the hat using fabric glue.  She wore the hat backwards.  We were both warm and everyone loved the costume.

Leon loves the ocean and when we discovered Jonathan Bird's Blue World on PBS he was hooked.  We even ordered the DVD of season 3.  He was torn between being a garbage man again or a diver.  We both ended up having a lot of fun with this costume.  We had purchased a wet suit (aka sunsuit) for his birthday and he wore that with pants and long sleeves underneath.  I again perused the Goodwill Outlet Center and was thrilled to find the perfect vacuum tube and a cool looking gauge that was attached to a blue tube.  Then I sprayed a large Gatorade bottle with flat black spray paint.  I attached the vacuum tube to the Gatorade bottle with black electrical tape.  I then attached it to a small backpack using the backpack's straps, but you could easily tape it with the electrical tape or attach some straps right to the bottle.  I also bought him a swim cap, but he only wore it a little (I think it pulled on his long hair) and he had goggles (not sure why they are not in the picture).  I attached the "air gauge" to the front of the vacuum tube using the black electrical tape.  I also cut out flippers with black felt and secured them to his shoes with electrical tape.

Strong man/french painter 
This was super easy.  I picked up a men's t-shirt at Goodwill and cut the shape I wanted out of the neck.  Then I cut up the sides and sewed them back smaller to fit him like a jumper.  I sewed legs into the bottom of the shirt and padded his arms with stuffing.  He had dumbbell, which we made by painting a wrapping paper tube black and then taping 2 black balloons to each end with electrical tape.  He didn't carry it around much.  It inhibited his worldly exploration.

Baby Yoda
I sewed the hat out of fleece.  I basically cut the ear shape (yes, I realize they are a little long, but they are still so cute!) and traced a regular hat that fit him.  Then I placed the right sides of the hat together with the ears in between and sewed it all up.  When I turned it right side out it was done.  I think I hemmed the bottom.  I then took a girls t-shirt, size 6), cut it down the middle and wrapped it across his front so it looks kind of robe-esk.  I pinned it in place.  E-Z!

Garbage man and trash and recycling
Here's another no sew costume.  Our son loves all things waste management.  You can read more about his beautiful relationship with out former garbage man (who became our dear friend) here.  He was so excited about this costume.  I knew it had to be perfect.  Our garbage man, Harold, had given him a set of their gloves and the coolest official Waste Pro hat.  I purchased a t-shirt similar to the color our company wears and the used an iron on transfer to add the logo to the front and back.  I used strips of duct tape to make the reflective strips.  I picked up two pillowcases, one black, one blue, from a local fabric outlet and again used iron on transfers to add to recycling symbol and a trash symbol.  He used those as his treat bags.  My husband went as recycling and I went as trash.  As you can see we basically just put bags on us and then stuck trash and recycling to the bags.  It was simple and fun.  Before he started kindergarten he wore his costume every trash day.

This year our boys are going as Fred and Shaggy and our neighbor girls will be Velma and Daphne.  It should be a lot of fun.  Here are a few other fun ideas I've come across:

I LOVE this Box of raisins - from Bear Rabbit Bear Crafts
This Target costume from Family Fun is simple and cute
Here's a fun voodoo doll posted on the forum
Try a cheap and easy paper doll like this one here
Here are five fun ideas - the gore unzipped is both incredibly gross and intriguing

Enjoy and good luck.  Most importantly, have fun with it and let you creativity flow.  What last minute costumes have you come up with?

The Shabby Nest

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What I LOVE About Kindergarten

I like kindergarten for so many reasons.  It has opened up my son's world in wonderful new ways.  He sometimes spends hours drawing compared to probably two hours in the past year (I'm not exaggerating).  It wasn't his thing and I didn't push it.  He excels in other areas like sports, his love of nature and his amazing ability to be empathetic beyond his years.  Now he is reading simple books, which is amazing and empowering.  And he uses the time on our drive to school to practice his writing.  It's all so great and his school and teachers are the best.

But what I LOVE about kindergarten is when our eyes first meet as he emerges from the glass doors at the end of the day and makes a beeline to where I wait to help him into the car.  His smile starts as a smirk, but by the time he jumps (literally) into my arms, as he does everyday, it's a blinding show of happy teeth.  I love that he lets me hold him as long as I like.  He stays nestled in my neck until I pull him back just enough to see his shining brown eyes and ask about his day.  I love that for that moment he is my baby and only mine.  We stand wrapped in each other's love in the rush of the school car line, but no one seems to mind, or if they do I am so wrapped up in the the way his hair smells like a pleasant mix of shampoo and the outdoors and his curls feel tangled and bouncy from the busy day of a kindergartner that I do not notice.  Each day I swear he is heavier than the day before and I'm reminded that one day he will be "too big" to jump into my arms in such a carefree public display of affection.

Reading, writing, math and music are all important and I'm thankful that my baby is getting a great education. But what I LOVE about kindergarten is that at the end of every day he is back in my arms right where he belongs and for those few moments all is right with the world.

This post was inspired by and is in memory of Super Ty, aka Ty Louis Campbell 10/4/2007 - 10/17/2012.  

Friday, October 12, 2012

Receiving Blanket Photo Album Tutorial

Receiving blanket photo album

My baby girl turned one in August.  1. ONE!  For real.  She's been a perfect addition to our family and her big brothers adore her.  A few weeks before her birthday Leon told me that he wanted to make her a photo album with pictures of our family.  Ada loves to look at pictures of faces so I thought this was a great idea.  It's so like Leon to know exactly what a loved one would like.  He is extremely thoughtful and empathetic.

Well, I dropped the ball.  I completely forgot about his photo album idea until he asked about it the day before her birthday. It was important to him and I've been trying to instill in him the value of homemade gifts so I wanted to make it happen. (You can read about more of our homemade gifts here.)  So, while the other kids napped we got to work.  Thankfully, when he first mentioned the idea I daydreamed up some plans.  Despite my persistent baby brain, I was able to quickly recall my original thoughts and our project was on.  Now I'll share it with you.

What you'll need:
Flannel receiving blankets in fun, coordinating prints.  I used 4 different blankets, but had lots left over. (I have a ton of these saved up)
Vinyl (I used the packages that sheets and comforters come in which made it free - yay!)

Decide on a size for your album.  This will largely depend on what size photos you want to use, 3x5, 4x6, 5x7, etc. I decided on 4x6 because that's what I had the most of.  I found a book that looked good with the photo in the middle.  It had just enough fabric on all sides keeping in mind the vinyl will be cut an inch larger than the photo to allow for sewing.  So, if your photo is 4x6 you'll need to cut your vinyl to be 5x7.

I was nursing in this photo and while I think it's beautiful it's not essential to the tutorial ;)

Lay your book on your receiving blankets and use an invisible marker or chalk, to create your pattern (you can also make a pattern on paper, but this is so simple that I opted not to).  I let my son do almost everything for this project.  It's very forgiving so let them at it.

Fold the outer edge over on the fold line so that the fabric is doubled.  Make sure that the orientation of the fabric is the way you want it before you cut.  Cut on the line, but do not cut the fold line.  It should look like the picture below.

When opened it will look like this.

I let my son experiment with the rotary cutter and scissors.  We were both more comfortable with the scissors.  You know the ability of your child so you be the judge and it goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway, supervise your children during this project, especially when sharp objects are involved.  

Using the first one as a pattern trace and cut out three additional pieces (or however many you want).  I used 4 coordinating patterned blankets for each piece, but you can cut your pieces from the same blanket if you prefer and have enough fabric.  His edge is uneven, but because we will be creating fringe on the edges it won't be noticeable.

Using your photo as a guide, cut out your vinyl pieces.  You will want to add an inch to the length and the width to allow room for sewing and to allow the photo to slide in.  So, if your photo is 4x6 you will cut your vinyl to 5x7, which is what I did.

If you cut four pieces it will make 8 pages including the front and back covers.  We chose to leave the inside of the front cover and one other page blank so we used 6 vinyl pieces. Sew the vinyl pieces to the flannel.  You can measure the make sure you are in the middle (or wherever you want to be) but we just eyeballed it. Remember, this is a kid-friendly project that happens to turn out super cute so don't get too stuck on making it perfect.  I used a zig-zag stitch about 1/4 inch from the edge of the vinyl.  The vinyl can be tricky to sew cause it can stick.  I'm sure there's lots of tricks out there, including putting a little corn starch on it.  I chose to loosen the pressure on the sewing machine foot and then I helped my son guide it through the machine at a mostly steady, even pace.

We then chose our layout.  Which piece we wanted for the cover, the inside cover, etc.  Lay them flat and pair them up.  I apologize, but I don't seem to have pictures of this part.  If you are using 4 pieces you will have two pairs.  Place them WRONG sides together.  So you will have two double sided rectangles.  Using a 1/2" seam allowance zig-zag stitch around the rectangles. Remember, you should be sewing on the RIGHT side of the fabric.  Once both rectangles are sewn together simply fold in half, iron the fold and sew a straight line down the middle to create your book.  
Now time for the finishing touch.  On the edges of the rectables, very carefully cut in towards your stitching all around the outside approximately every 1/2" or so to create the fringe.  I did this part so that my son wouldn't accidentally cut the seam.  Wet it or throw it through the wash and then dry on low heat or air fluff to give the fringe that messy shabby chic look.  Add your favorite pictures and you're done.  Seriously, my 5-year-old handled this like a pro.  I'm new to the whole tutorial thing so if you have questions just ask. 

This is the inside of the front cover and the first page.  We used fabric markers to personalize it.

Middle pages

 We used fabric markers to draw Ada a picture and write her a little note towards the back of the book.

Does she like her new photo album that her sweet, thoughtful brother made for her?  Yes indeed.  She plays with it all the time and it has held up wonderfully so far.  Obviously you'll want to take the pictures out before you wash it.

Ok.  I got a little photo happy there, but how could you not?  The cuteness is just too much.  I hope you enjoy making this as much as we did.  And please do contact me with any questions (or better ways of doing something - I'm no expert).  If you make one leave a comment letting me know with a link to your photos!!

I'm linking up to:
 The Humble Brag Link Party See Vanessa Craft

Kammy's Korner

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Necklace to Remember

So here it is.  My gift from my husband in honor of our first son starting kindergarten.  It is no secret that I have been lusting after this necklace for some time now.  Well, not really the necklace, but the pendant.  The owner of the wonderfully spectacular, drool-worthy Etsy shop Surfing Silver took my kindergartner's beautiful writing and turned it into a piece of jewelry I will treasure forever.  Do you see the E?  He occasionally gets carried away and adds an extra line in his E.  It's rare these days and I'm so glad he did it and it is now captured in this necklace because now I will always remember.  Even his M's have changed in the few weeks he's been practicing regularly at school.

My husband told me that the owner of Surfing Silver was great to work with and my husband was not an easy customer.  He did this last minute - no??? Shocking!  And then he tried to change from the words to a picture our son drew of a rose... but then hubby lost the picture.  Oh my.  So after much searching he went back to his original idea and she was kind and patient and easy to work with. He kept saying, "Isn't she great?" as if I had interacted with her myself.  But I can say with certainty that I hope my husband is a repeat customer.  I love it.  I cried.  On the verge of bawling my eyes out.  

I eventually plan to own many of these pendants (come on it's an easy gift for any occasion - it should make hubby's life so much easier) and want to put them on a bracelet to remind me of special moments in the life of our family and how blessed we are to have each other.  It will be like a super sentimental charm bracelet that I can add to for the rest of my life and hopefully it will include some pendants made by grandchildren.  Then when the time comes I can break it up and pass the appropriate pieces on to my children and their children.  If you've been following my blog you know I'm all about passing things on to my kids.  You can read about my hunt for the perfect china to pass on here. You may have read about the custom painting I had made for my hubby, but in case you missed it check out this post to see the incredible art work I purchased from Angela's Etsy shop, Bunni Garu

I highly recommend both of these gifts for any occasion, but especially the big things.  They would be great gifts for when your kids make their first communion, graduate high school, get married, have children of their own, etc.