Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Homemade Birthday Gifts

My sister's kids have their birthdays on the 22nd and 25th of December.  I know. Great timing. And I sort of started a tradition for myself of making their birthday gifts, since we usually buy their Christmas ones. And this year was no exception! For the big 6 (!) year old, I found this Geologist Kit idea on Pintrest. I sewed up a vest and freezer stencilled his name on the front and 'Jr. Geologist' on the back:

To go with the vest, Ashton and I put together a rock collection box for him:

and filled it with special rocks from Scholar's Choice, as well as a magnifying glass:

He has a rock collection already which he can add to this.  If I remember correctly, the rocks are (clockwise) assorted treasure rocks, an obsidian arrowhead, a geode which he can break open, agate, peacock ore, and pyrite (fool's gold) As you can see most of these came with little slips of paper describing them.  Educational AND fun!

For the 3 year old (who is singing happy birthday around the Christmas tree and trying to blow out the lights - poor girl!) I sewed up a dress using Burda #9740 and some funky Ikea fabric.  I've been hesitant to try out any of their fabric since it seems so heavy, but once washed it's like a lightweight denim.

And since no 3-year-old gets all that excited about clothes, I whipped up a little crocheted bunny to go with it (using this pattern)

I think I have more fun coming up with and making their gifts than they have receiving them!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Peg dolls

After seeing Simple Simon & Co 's post showing off the peg dolls made for her son I fell in LOVE! Not that I particularly love Star Wars or Harry Potter, but I thought these little hand painted dolls were the cutest thing EVER!  And since my nephew is developing an obsession with Star Wars, I thought I'd throw some together to go with the Christmas gifts.  Some for the never-watched-the-movies Star Wars obsessed nephew, some for the almost-3-year-old niece, and some for Ashton, who caught me making them:

Aren't they fun? Here's the princesses: Ariel, Aurora, Belle, Snow White and Cinderella. Not sure how well she knows the characters, but she's already started a collection of Calico Critters (aka MapleTown - remember them?) so I didn't really want to do a dollhouse family.

Here's the Star Wars guys: Stormtrooper, Yoda, C3PO, R2D2, Darth Vadar, Luke, Han Solo and Princess Leia (I've never actually watched the movies start to finish, but I think these are the 'main' characters, right?)

And Ashton's: a knight, cowboy, superhero, pirate, Robin Hood and construction worker.  I did these while he was in bed, and wrapped them pretty cleverly I think, but he's still saying 'Oh! These are my superhero guys!'  The kid knows exactly what he's getting for Christmas.  Not sure if that's good or bad...

All of them are painted with acrylic paint (not the faces) and coated with polyurethane for durability. Aren't they CUUUUTE?!?!

Glycerin toy soap

Yet another Christmas idea! This summer at the St. Albert market, I came across a vendor selling various bath products including clear glycerin soap with toys inside.  Ashton picked out a car:

and I was amazed at how it motivated him to wash his hands after every bathroom use.  He took it in the bathtub once, but for the rest just used it for hand washing.  Well, the car is now excavated, so I thought I'd make him another one.  And the rest of the nieces and nephews too.  After all, how hard could it be?

Turns out, it could be pretty hard if one doesn't know what they are doing.

I picked up some soap with glycerin as one of the ingredients, thinking that 'this'll be a cinch! just melt it down, pour it in a container and there you go!' I had read somewhere that you can melt down soap in the microwave.  One bar got burnt that way.  Burnt soap, who knew? Alright then, no microwave.  I'll just grate it down and melt it on the stove like I do when making laundry detergent.  Not as much water though, we want it to still be solid. Nope. After gingerly adding more and more water, I wasn't getting any melting, just lumpy chunks (or is it chunky lumps?).

Hmm...this is going to take some googling.  So after coming to grip with the fact that this might take a bit more effort than first thought, I began my search.  Found a couple great websites on soap making, learnt some soap making terms, and I was back on track. (The websites I found most helpful for this project are here and here.)

Okay, since I live in hicksville central, there's no way I could get my hands on some 'melt and pour' soap supplies, and I wanted to get this done since we were going to visit some of the clan the next week, I visited the local Rexall and picked up some REAL glycerin soap.  The stuff that actually looks clear and can easily be scored with a fingernail.  Then a stop to the liquor store for some vodka (to use instead of water - although it could be used to ease frustrations too ;) I'm thankful that I had read something about melting down in a crockpot instead of on the gas stove, because it probably wouldn't even have crossed my mind that the alcohol fumes would ignite. I cut the soap into cubes, added a bit of vodka, and set the crockpot on low, stirring occasionally.  When I saw how easily this soap melted, I realized I probably could have gotten away without the vodka, but no chances were taken this time around!

Here's a pic of the supplies beforehand, minus the soap:

Lego men for the boys, little ponies for the girls and cheap dollar store containers for the moulds.

I poured a small amount of soap into the moulds and let it harden before adding the toys so they wouldn't sink to the bottom. When that had solidified I placed the toys, and poured the soap to cover them.  A couple hours later I could push the bottom of the containers and the soap just slid out!


Some of them are a little bubbly since I was almost running out of soap so I had to remelt the trimmed edges a few times.  Here's a side view, I don't like the definite line from the first pour, but what do you do?

I hope all the kids enjoy them! The kids that we visited last weekend seemed to, although the boys are a little older, so didn't have the patience to wait for their Lego men.  They decided to take a bath and dig them out instead! (And to tell you the truth, I kinda expected that :)

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Hand sewn felt doll

Yet ANOTHER idea from pintrest.  Found this link and I thought they were so gorgeous that I just had to make one.  I mean, don't they look simply amazing?

So I delved into my substantial stash of felt and got going!  I haven't hand sewed for awhile, but found it strangely rewarding...I could actually do other things at the same time!  Some things turned out a little wonky, but all in all I'm pretty pleased with it. Here's the pics:

She's so pretty - no name yet...Hmmmm

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Kids on the walls

No, my children are not climbing the walls, but I'm sure that will happen soon enough.  Remember those pics I took back in July? The ones I showed you here ? Well, they're finally up on the wall.

I printed the photos at McBain's on canvas.  The gallery wraps are pretty expensive, so I just got the canvas, then put them in some frames without glass.  The effect is pretty nice:

I also did the kids' silhouettes.  I took a photo of their profiles, then edited in photoshop and printed to transfer to a canvas board. They were then mounted on a plaque spray painted gloss black.  REALLY like these, but they'll have to be updated every once and awhile just like photos.  I think I took the photo of Olivia when she was about 4 months old, and I can really see the difference!

(and no, Olivia's head is not defomed, she got that extra bump from my dad...we like to call it her extra brains!)

Friday, November 04, 2011

Cat in the Hat twirly skirt

Sewing and crafting supplies all over the place. Olivia eating stray threads. House is a mess (okay, that last one is pretty normal) What does this all mean? Christmas crafting has begun! It might seem a little early, but I usually start planning in September.  That doesn't mean I go shopping them, but I write down a list of who will be receiving gifts, and decide what to get them.  And this year, that means MAKE for them! Some of the gifts will be store bought, but I'm trying to make as many as possible this year...I even convinced my side of the family to do a handmade/secondhand/recycled/upcycled/regifted Chinese gift exchange (those choices should cover everyone, right?)

My niece and nephew have birthdays on the 22nd and 25th of December, so instead of exchanging gifts on Christmas Eve (that used to be our tradition) we have Sinterklaas. That's a dutch tradition where gifts are exchanged on the 5th (or, in our case, whichever Saturday is closer)  Did you know Sinterklaas was the original Santa Claus?

So, anyways, I'll have lots of fun sewing and crafting stuff to show you over the upcoming weeks!  To start with, here's a skirt I made for David's niece, who looooves the Cat in the Hat!

  She's almost 2, but apparently more like a size 3/4...whoa!  Since I don't know exactly what size she is, I did a kind of drawstring waist so it will fit her for a long time (it even fits Ashton, although he didn't want me to take a picture.  I wonder why?)