Wednesday, February 27, 2013

DIY Memo Board

WOOT WOOT!  It's Pinterest Challenge time!  The folks over at Young House LoveBower Power Blog, The Remodeled Life, and Decor and the Dog are hosting yet another Pinterest Challenge - and I just had to join in on the fun because I love those guys and I love Pinterest too!  
Here's how it goes - pin something great then DO IT and put your own spin on it!
I've been a little slacker-ish in the DIY category lately (chalk it up to extra mopping & laundry that comes with potty training), but I wanted to hop straight back on the hobby horse.  There are tons of ideas I have for the house, but since half of them need to be done in the kitchen (which would be much improved by a can of gasoline and a book of matches), I decided to do a project for my current favorite room in the house - the Big Girl Bedroom!
So here goes - the pin - there are a lot of these out there on Pinterest, but this one caught my eye - probably because of the frame:
{pinterest source}
Basically, it's a memo board.  You can stick pictures, cards, postcards, whatever, behind the ribbons to display them.  I prefer this for a young kid to a bulletin board because I don't love the idea of tacks.  I had thought of a magnet board, but I like the softness of adding a textile to the room rather than just stenciling something on metal.'s what I used:
  • Frame (Target) = $17 <==  I suppose I could have found a better deal or thrifted one, but I didn't have time!
  • Fabric (had it) = $0
  • Batting (had it) = $0
  • Ribbon = $2 (clearance)
  • Buttons (had 'em) = $0
  • Foam board = $1.50
  • Craft tape = $3
First thing's first - cut down the foam board to the size you need.  Simple enough, I just popped the glass out of the frame and traced it onto my foam board.  I cut it with scissors, but it would have been easier if I could have located my craft knife (where is that thing??)
I put it in the frame to check the size.  Better safe than sorry.  I actually had to trim it a bit more, which is a good call because there's going to be some fabric and whatnot going on this guy.
I also cut a piece of batting (like for a quilt) in the same size.  

 I trimmed my fabric about 4 inches bigger on each side (after ironing it, of course).  
Now comes the fun part - put it all together!
I lay the fabric on a table, wrong side up.  I put the batting in the middle (carefully making sure my zig-zags were straight) and I put the foam board on top of that.  I used tape to secure everything - I pulled the fabric tight on 2 sides and taped it down with clear packing tape.  Then I taped the other 2 sides and the corners.  
Next step was the ribbons.  I sorta "dry fit" them by laying things out on top and used some straight pins to hold them in place on the edges while I taped on the back.  Smarties can use things like rulers and protractors to get the ribbons parallel, square, or even. I just eyeballed it.  I secured the ribbons on the back with more packing tape and pulled out the pins. 
I flipped the board over and used plain old thread and a sturdy needle to attach buttons at each cross of the ribbons.  This was a bit tedious and I'm not sure how well they'll hold, but I'm not sure of a better way.  
As a finishing touch, I used craft tape to jazz up the edge of the frame - hot pink with white polka dots!
I hung it with some handy dandy Command Adhesive picture hanging strips.  Super fast and easy!
And here's the finished product!
She LOVES it!
Check out some of my previous Pinterest Challenge posts!

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Toys are for KIDS

Now this is a home & family blog, but every once in a while, something comes up that I feel the need to comment on.  And here we are.  

Toys are for kids.

This past week there was a news article online about how NERF would soon begin producing toys for girls.  Pink bows that shoot little foam arrows.  And isn't this great because now GIRLS can have what was once a BOYS toy.  Now some feminists may stand up and shout HOORAY for girls because now they are included.  I ask why wouldn't you buy your child a NERF toy before?  Are girls only allowed pink & purple toys?  Are toys that are blue, yellow and black solely a boy's domain?   

Read about "NERF for girls" here 

The article I read talked about the increasing popularity of archery among girls and cited popular culture such as Disney's Brave and The Hunger Games as places with strong female characters who use a bow and arrow - but I ask you this:  Did Katniss or Merida carry a PINK BOW AND ARROW????  NOOOOOOOO!  

We have seen this before.  It's been less than 2 years since LEGO introduced "LEGO Friends" - which is basically a line of pinked up LEGOs where the minifig "people" have boobs and long hair.  I was appalled when I saw them and promised myself that I would not be buying them.  But my daughter has fallen prey to the "for girls" marketing and asked Santa.  And Santa delivers.  

Curious about Lego Friends - see here

Another great example is "engineering" toys.  It's a well established fact that there have always been more boys than girls who show interest in engineering, math and science.  One line of thinking is that toys "for girlls" don't play on those strengths and by the time kids get to school, boys have an advantage.  So one company (or person, I don't really know) has invented a toy "for girls".  Guess what.  It's pink.  With cutsey ribbons & figurines. There is really nothing wrong with this toy - other than at first glance it seems a bit pricey and limited in functionality (but it's not even "out" yet, so what do I know).  My bigger issue is this - what's wrong with getting your daughter some k'nex?  Legos? How about Lincoln Logs - would you buy them for your daughter if they were "Pink'n Logs"??  

Check out Goldie Blox here - 

As an alternative - how about this?  Is there anything about this that says it's for boys only?  

And available now on Amazon  

So there are pink toys, what's the big deal?  I'll tell you what the big deal is.   

Anyone with girls & boys may overspend on 2 sets of gear and toys.  Pink pack & plays, strollers & car seats that "can't" be passed down.  Waste of money.  I had a girl first and mostly avoided being pinked out on major purchases, but I did fall victim to the trend later on. 

Does too much pink stunt development?  I have no proof of this, but if all your kids toys are pink, how will they learn colors?   Seriously.  I've seen pinked out toys of all sorts - pink doctor kits, pink stuffed puppies, pink sorting blocks. 

The problem with all this nonsense isn't that girls only want pink, it's that parents feel like they need to cater to the pinkness to appeal to girls and it just isn't true.  Does an infant girl really have a preference for pink?  And would a little girl really turn down toys in a rainbow of colors when they are older?  I think not.  It is a self fulfilling prophecy I think - the more your pink up your girl, the more she may grow to feel that only pink will do and maybe that if it's not pink, purple, or bejeweled, that it's not "for her".  

Maybe I've got unrealistic expectations - that my daughter will get to decide what she likes.  That her world will not be defined by a color or by ruffles and bows.  

And you know what?  It's not just about the girls - it's about the boys too!  I want my boy to grow up in a world where he can play with "girls toys" too!  He should be free to play in a plastic kitchen, cuddle a baby doll, or even play dress up.  I want him to view girls as kids first rather than some strange pink version of himself.  If we color all girls as pink and all boys as blue, then we're limiting them.  We're segregating genders for no good reason at a very young age.

The world is full of powerful cultural influences to define gender roles.  It's nearly impossible to avoid it, and I'm not suggesting that we should, but I do think we should strive to have our children free to decide what they like, how they like to play, and to explore their world without a pink or blue filter.

For what it's worth - my big girl spends more time playing with the "gender neutral" Duplos than with her pastel LEGO Friends, her bow & arrow set is brown, and her favorite color is orange.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Trials of Toddlerhood

I figured now was as good a time as any to pop onto the blog to address where I have been and why there have been so few posts.  Well, I hate to blame my children for my problems, but what's a girl to do?  My son, Chris, is 2.  He's a tough 2 and as his mom, I've been quite challenged lately.

It's not a simple thing.  Due to potty training issues (and some serious clean-ups that come along with it) we have basically given up on a daily nap.  So there goes my 2 hour window for productivity each day.  He's a curious kid and requires pretty close supervision or else we're left with messes to clean up.  I think he might be a wizard with the way he's able to come up with a marker or crayon out of thin air to "tag" walls.  

I don't want to get into it too much because the last thing a person needs is a permanent internet record of all their toddler shenanigans.  But suffice it to say, mommying a little guy takes up a lot more of my "free time" lately and so I just haven't had the time I really want to spend on the household stuff.

I'm hoping it won't last though.  I miss crafting, DIYing, and working to make our home better.


Monday, February 11, 2013

A Sad Story

Back in December, I joined a gym.  It's the swanky place in town with great amenities including CHILDCARE!!  There's pools, tennis courts,workout classes,  plus a spa!  Yeah, I haven't used any of that except the childcare, but I truly do enjoy my "me time" on the elliptical or the treadmill.  
Most of the fitness equipment has these snazzy built in TVs so you can catch up with Kardashians while you do your cardio, but I usually bring my little old skool iPod nano and listen to some tunes or an audiobook.  It's a 3rd gen, so it's square-ish with a little color screen and the round wheelie thing to change the volume.  It was so nice.  And I got it in 2009.  
Then this weekend I went on a violent laundry roundup.  I gathered and washed every stitch of clothing I could get my hands on.  I was proud of myself.  Truly.  Then it came time to fold.  And guess what I like to do when I'm folding.  That's right - tunes or audiobooks.  Guess what was missing.  Yep, little greenie (that's what I called it - my little green iPod nano).  
I searched for half a day and then it dawned on me.  I went down to the washer and grabbed my favorite hooded sweatshirt.  And that's where I found it.  Little greenie, the case popped off, the earbuds in a knot.  All clammy from being washed.  And now it smells like Tide.
I'm so sad :(  No iPod.  No audiobooks.  No tunes.
I've got it in a bag of rice, but I am not holding out much hope.
I suppose 4.5 years isn't a bad run for pocket electronics, but it was more than adequate and I wasn't planning on replacing it any time soon.  I guess plans change, right?  *sigh*
Does anyone have any stories about miraculous stories of small electronics surviving the spin cycle?? 


I got a *new* iPod Nano for Valentine's Day :)  It's so little and cute.  And PURPLE!  I call it "Wee Violet".  It has a built in pedometer & FM radio too.  


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Valentine's Day Wreath

Last year I did quite a few Valentiney things (and with V-day nearly a week away, there's still time, right??).  This year, I've been pretty busy with regular stuff.  Life with an older toddler requires a lot more mopping and vacuuming than it did last year.  I'm so glad we don't get many drop-in visitors because I'd have to turn off the lights and pretend nobody was home.
One thing I did want to do is give a try to one of the more popular DIY blog and Pinterest crafts:  
So here we go:
  • Foam wreath form - there were a variety of sizes and shapes at the craft store, pick whatever you like
  • Fabric for covering the wreath - I got a yard and a half and I have quite a bit left over
  • Fabric for embellishments - I chose some coordinating quilting fabric
  • Ribbon or Rickrack for embellishment
  • Pins - no sewing or glue!!!
I started off by tearing a few strips of the fabric.  I wanted to tear because I wanted the slightly frayed edge to show as I wrapped it.  And because I chose a chevron fabric I tore the fabric across (rather than down) to keep the pattern oriented the way I wanted it to.
I just started wrapping the fabric, making sure it overlapped a bit all around. I pinned the strip and started a new one right there.  I started each strips on the same side of the wreath so that side would be the back side.  I had to trim the strips short to make it work.  
Once you have your wreath covered, make some fabric flowers.  I checked out Pinterest for DIY fabric flowers to get some ideas of how one might make some.  I mainly used these two methods both of which involve cutting a bunch of circles of fabric.  
First off, to get a good circle I traced a cup onto some cardstock to make 2 different sizes of circles (for big and small flowers).  Then I layered the fabric and cut four circles at once.  
Method 1 - layer 3-4 circles, creating a fringe edge with scissors.  I used 3 big circles with one smaller one on top to create a nice fringey look.  I attached the flowers with a pin.  I didn't do pics here...sorry!
Method 2 - fold a circle in quarters and put it on a pin, repeat several time so that there are 3-4 ruffles attached to a pin.  Fold a circle in half and attach that to the pin.  Repeat several times.  Put a whole circle on the bottom.  Then attach it to the wreath.
Pin the flowers in as you go.  Rearrange however you like.
I used random little ruffles of fabric to fill in a few gaps, but that was it!
I hung the wreath on the door with some big rickrack and taped it to the top of the door.
Here's what I like about it -
  • It's pink for V-day but isn't covered with hearts, so it won't have to be pulled down right on Feb 15.
  • NO GLUE OR SEWING!  So all the materials can be re-used.  Look for version 2 of this wreath for spring/Easter time!
  • Quick and free-form.  With raw edges, perfection isn't critical here, making this a good project for crafting novices.
Happy Valentine's Day!

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Becoming Martha  *  Design, Dining & Diapers 


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