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Monday, December 12, 2011

How to Wear Pregnant Lady Out

I suppose it doesn't take a lot to wear a pregnant lady out. But I've been enjoying so much more energy these days (second trimester, I love you!) that I wonder if this would have worn even Lance Armstrong out.

I go to a playgroup every Thursday morning at 8:30 am. That's early, I know, but we started in the summer when you would spontaneously combust if you were out doors after 10 am. We usually meet at the park. Given the chilly weather lately, coupled with the holiday season being in full swing, I thought it would be fun this past Thursday to take a break from the park and meet at my house to decorate Christmas cookies.

Usually about 5 or 6 of us plus kids will show up to the playgroup. But this week everyone came out! We had 12 moms and 12 toddlers running, sometimes crying, playing, crafting and decorating all over my house! I loved it and from what I could tell, fun was had by all. But, let me tell you, it took me a good two days to recover from this little shin dig. It's not that it was difficult to prepare; all I did was bake some cookies. And the mess afterward was surprisingly less than you might think given the combination of toddlers, icing and sprinkles (though the more I looked around my dining room, the more icing smears I detected!). Nevertheless, the hustle and bustle required several naps to recover.

John before the party started. He still has a cookie in his mouth and he's signing "more."

Decorating snowmen with stickers.

Target has these really great snowmen decorating packages. The snowmen and stickers are foam. Since everyone couldn't decorate cookies at the same time, I was looking for something else that the kids could do that would be simple, cheap and not make an intractable mess. This was the answer! The package cost $5 and stickers are self-explanatory. They did get everywhere but they were perfectly easy to sweep up!


As you can see, some children (ahem, my own) did not quite catch on to the finer points of cookie decorating. But all quickly became proficient at the cookie eating involved! Some of the older ones did enjoy the decorating. One little 2 year old spent at least 15 minutes painstakingly decorating his cookie bite-by-bite.

John did not make it out of his pajamas for the duration of the party. When you expect people at your house at 8:30 am, some things just don't get done! The toilets were clean and the cookies were done! That's what's important!

I used this recipe from i am baker for the sugar cookies and icing. Delicious. I love that blog.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Counting Petal Page



A little about me: I am Leslie, I have a blog called, creatively, peterandleslie.blogspot.com. Peter, being my husband. Our son, John, is 18 months and we are expecting another baby in April.

I was excited to participate in the quiet book swap because it is such a cute idea. But also because I've been wanting to learn and grow in craftiness (like, arts and crafts, not deception!). I have a sewing machine which I have used but, until recently, was not very comfortable with. I thought that doing this would give me a goal and force me to overcome at least part of the learning curve that I had been using as an excuse for not doing more sewing projects. I'm definitely glad I did it because I do feel much more comfortable with my machine. I can thread it now without having to read the step-by-step instructions each time! I'm by no means an expert (I even attempted to sew on the velcro sticky dots which is a no no!) but I've got the confidence to try more projects. Not to mention, I've got 18 other adorable pages coming my way!

I will say that a good motto for doing something like this is: "Don't forget: it's for 18 month-olds." Meaning, details like perfectly straight seems will not necessarily be appreciated by the target audience. So, have fun!

Materials:
2.5 yards Pellon Peltex 70 ultra firm stabilizer
Pages of stiffened felt: orange (2), light blue (2), yellow (1), green (1)
Sticky velcro dots from Hobby Lobby 75/pack (2) and 15/pack (1)
Miscellaneous: thread, sharpies

Inspiration:
Serving Pink Lemonade
I used the template from this blog, deviating very little. I modified her instructions in that I didn't fuse the felt pieces onto the pellon; I only sewed them. I don't know if fusing would add stability or some other benefit. With 20 pages to make, I was going for the most streamlined process I could manage! I also wrote the numbers onto the flower petals rather than fusing on felt numbers. Again, with 20 pages, I thought that cutting out the numbers for all those petals (160 in all!) would be prohibitively time consuming.

Assembly:

1. Cut the Pellon into 20 8.5 X10 sheets.

2. Trace the individual template pieces (flower petals, stem, flower pot and flower center) onto the stiffened felt and cut out.

3. Sew flower pot, stem and center of flower onto Pellon. The flower pot functions as a pocket, so leave the top open only sewing around the sides and bottom.

4. Trace flower petals around flower center with sharpie

5. Apply velcro sticky dots to each flower petal (soft side of velcro) and within each traced flower petal (rough side of velcro).

6. Write numbers 1-8 on each petal

6. Voila! Finis!

I didn't document the assembly process but here is a picture of the finished product where you can see all the components.

Lessons learned:
Overall, you can't go very wrong with this (I don't think! I'm open to feedback from the other quiet book swappers who might have critiques of my page!). But it would be ideal to use sew-on velcro as the stick-on kind will not hold up very well long-term. I intend to reinforce mine by hand stitching each one on. Had I had more time (much more time!) and resources, I would have used the sew-on velcro. But as it was, that would have been too time consuming and more expensive than the sticky dots.

Since I live out of town, I didn't get to go to the swap in person but I'm looking forward to seeing everyone else's work. Here's to (hopefully) many quiet minutes of quiet, well-behaved children exploring their quiet books!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Quiet Book Swap

I recently participated in a quiet book swap. Here is an explanation of what a quiet book is and here is an explanation of a quiet book swap.

The swap was coordinated by Laura, a blog-friend that I went to A&M with. She asked each of the participants to write a blog post about the making of our quiet book page. Each day she'll be posting on her blog one of those entries which will detail a different page and how it was constructed. There will be 18 in all, plus a post about the cover. It will be kind of like a tutorial for making your own if you ever wanted to do so.

I thought this was a great idea. You'd have to ask Laura how difficult it was to coordinate but if you're inclined, it would be a fun project to do with friends!

I'll post the entry I wrote about my page here tomorrow.

Just so you know, making one of these does require some equipment. Most pages required sewing. But, if you can get your hands on a machine, this is very doable. Another of my friends who participated had never sewn before. She borrowed her mother in law's machine and made an adorable page with a puppy on it!

Also, if you have a baby who's not quite of age to appreciate the activities on these pages, that doesn't mean it's too early to make one if you want to. I've realized that crafty projects like this are much easier before children get mobile! Of course, you can still do them after the kids begin running around like crazy. It just means you just have to carve out time during naps or after bed time. I still try very diligently to nap when the baby naps! So take advantage of the time when you can sit the kids in one place and they can't toddle away to Timbuktu while your head is turned for a split second!