Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Custom Built-In and Cushion

Our 7 year old needed a better system for storage and use of space in his room. I measured and sketched what I thought would work best, and my Father-In-Law built this amazing piece and installed it while we were on vacation.  It is so much more than I dreamed, and he even included a secret compartment for our spy-obsessed little guy.
I bought a piece of foam and covered it in gray duck canvas, because the fabric I wanted was $60/yard. I used the same method I did with my dining room chairs to create "subway art" word art. Now, it's a perfect match for his NYC themed room, and it cost less than $25 (with coupons)  to make the custom cushion for the reading nook.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Elf on the Shelf Ideas and Printable Links

If you are a Pinner, then you may have seen some of these ideas, but I hope that I have some new ones to share and some helpful links to free printables for you!  (I have several more, but I need to pull them from my SD card.  A second post may be in order.)

***Update: Check out our coffee cup and newspaper free printables, too! (Not pictured below.)***

The Elf Photo Booth has endless options.  Different backgrounds, locations, printed photos, iPad/tablet photos, different props, different "friends" (living or dolls), etc.  Here, we used the free printables from Living Locurto, a sparkly piece of cardstock from a craft store, and an iPad.  (I also try to make lunches to match the elf's hiding spot if the kids find him early enough in the morning before it's time to leave for school.  It's in a Laptop Lunchbox.)

Maybe you have a few hiding places for your elf, but with all of his other antics, you want to add a little something on days where he's hanging around.  Elf Jokes (3 printables) by Over the Big Moon make hanging out in a stocking or dangling from a sleigh bell even more entertaining.

Christmas stockings are one of our favorite family traditions.  I have made all of the stockings for our extended family, and our elf, Buddy Kringle was feeling a little left out.  He was found making his own with miniature spools of thread and scraps from our stockings.  He did a pretty good job!  His stocking hangs perfectly from the "loop" at the top of the "O" in our "NOEL*" stocking hooks.
As Christians, it is important to us that our children remember what the true meaning of Christmas is, and our elf, Buddy Kringle, agreed.  He donned a felt scarf (super easy and no sewing required: cut a strip of felt and then snip the ends into fringe) and joined our nativity scene to lovingly hold baby Jesus. 

Our three-year-old son touched our elf, and we needed some magic FAST!  Fortunately, Over the Big Moon had already created a printable Magical Recovery Kit.  I took some white felt and created a bed (on a piece of cardboard, a sheet, and a pillow.  I snipped a small piece from a washcloth to create one that was elf-sized, and our elf decided that the front porch wasn't really going to work for our family, so he arrived in the fireplace with his kit.  I decided that his elf friends would really be worried about him, and they delivered a bunch of elf-sized get well soon cards (through the chimney) at some point during the day.  I didn't write in them, but I'm happy to share the file I made to print these.  (I just used images from free printable cards online and made 1 page of mini cards.)

Here he is feeling much better and break dancing at his very own street party in our Christmas village.  (The disco balls are ornaments from Hobby Lobby.  They came in a package of 6.)
We had an unusually warm day this month, so Buddy Kringle made a joke about it.  He borrowed an Adirondack chair from our daughter's dollhouse, our son's sunglasses, some aluminum foil and a drink umbrella from my pantry, sand from the sandbox, and our sunscreen.  He tossed that super easy felt scarf to the ground and enjoyed sunbathing.
 With 3 kids, our elf was not allowed to take over a sink in our home without the risk of losing his fishing pond.  He found a glass bowl that worked perfectly.  He perched on one of my small decorative trunks and used a chopstick and thread to fish.
 Here was the matching lunch in a Laptop Lunchbox.  I used a gingerbread cookie cutter, fruit leather that I hand cut and a pretzel stick.
Maybe you have a winter magazine that your elf would like to read?  I miniaturized this winter issue of Bliss Bridal Magazine.  My event planning team and I did the cover and cover spread for this issue, so our elf really needed to check it out.  (Note that the color from my home printer doesn't do the real magazine justice.)

Buddy Kringle put on some mouse ears and looked through the autograph books from our trip to Disney World a few weeks ago.

The (Cheerio) elf doughnuts were definitely a favorite.  I created "Mrs. Claus's Crullers" and boxes to go with them.  They needed a little bit of work, but they were cute, and it was the perfect excuse to get doughnuts for a weekend treat for the kids.  We have updated the doughnut boxes and have created a FREE download for Elf Donut Boxes!

Buddy Kringle decided to roast marshmallows on toothpicks over tealights.  He got a little carried away with how many he needed to roast.

I am creating more free printables, so come back to check on ELF on the Shelf posts!

RoyalBaloo has a whole set of free printables, too!
What mischief is your elf into?  Feel free to link up!  Please feel free to share, pin, or blog about this, but always link back to our blog and not the individual download links.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012

DIY Ribbon Rack

Like many of you, I have a ton of ribbon, and I had long ago exceeded what would fit in a large basket + a box ribbon dispenser + a ribbon shelf + empty nooks in my craft space.  It was out of control and no longer manageable.  I took measurements of my "dead space" between a window and a shelving unit, e-mailed pictures of ribbon racks that I liked, and collected spools of different sizes with different hole sizes, too.  I shared all of it with my fabulous Father-in-Law, and this is what I received!
It has 10 rods with some additional dowels in two sizes, and it fits perfectly in that empty space!  
Now, to reorganize all of my fabric, scrapbook paper, or add a proper wrapping station (that has also exceeded it's original space with its own level of ridiculousness)!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bento: Happy November!

It's November (and the end of the spooky creepy lunches). This Laptop Lunch box has the sandwich box with a honey-wheat bread sandwich adorned with fall picks from AllThingsForSale.com and fruit leather leaves using a small cookie cutter that I've had for.ev.er.  The top right compartment holds dried young coconut with more picks, and the bottom right is filled with an assortment of yogurt-covered raisins and, yes, more picks.  Happy fall!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bento: Happy Halloween!

Today's Halloween lunch is in the traditional Laptop Lunch box.  The top left compartment holds parsley sprigs "grass" for the fingers made of Hebrew National hot dogs that were scored and a fingernail bed carved out before boiling.  This helps the "knuckles" open and look more realistic.  The onion slice was also boiled with the hot dogs to get the translucent look I wanted, and they were adhered with ketchup.  The boiled egg eye is adorned with a ring from AllThingsForSale.com.  The bottom left container holds the mummy hot dog bun cut in half for the halved hot dog, a container of ketchup blood, and a set of creepy eyes (a ring) from ATFS.  An apple with a leaf pick (from ATFS) has been converted to a Jack-o-lantern with the assistance of small knife to carve holes and dried pineapple to fill each hole.  Toasted pumpkin seeds were a must for today, too.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

DIY Disney Autograph Book

We are gearing up for our Disney trip in a couple of weeks, and I've been busy getting fun things together for the trip.  When we went the first time 4 years ago (with our now 7-year-old), we had no idea.... I had read, researched, asked friends, but nothing truly prepared me.  We learned a great deal on that trip, and I fully intend to implement all that I learned this time as we travel with not ONE but THREE children to Disney.
This particular tip is about "the autograph book."  I didn't know anything about the book at all when we went the first time. You can buy the little ones at Disney (4 years ago, they were about $6-$7), and they work fine.  However, I also some incredibly cute ones while we were there as well.  Some were adorned with ribbons, stickers, rhinestones, etc.  I began searching on Etsy, and although there are some fabulous options, and they are time consuming to make, I simply can't justify $40+ per child for an autograph book.  It had better be fully customized with all of their personal images for that price, right?  That's when it hit me, and here is my own DIY solution.

**Disclaimer: These are not for sale. I made these using my home printer for my family's personal use only.**

I knew I wanted something that was:
  • sturdy enough to stand up to being beaten up in a backpack for a week.
  • customized for each child's personal images.
  • large enough to be able to see the pictures and have enough space for the characters to sign.
  • small enough to fit 3 in a backpack.
  • easily identifiable for each child.
  • nice enough to use as a scrapbook upon our return.
  • helpful in finding the characters our children most wanted to see while at each park.
While they are not perfect, we are all very happy with the results, and the kids have been going through their books talking about the characters already!  It's been a great tool to help get even our 3 year old twins excited about something that they do not yet fully understand.

How did I make them?
I started by creating a template in Publisher (another program would work fine, but it was easiest for what I needed.)  I created an 8"x8" box with a text box in the top portion that was anchored to the page, leaving a margin for the binding (that Kinko's actually put in the wrong place - it was supposed to be on top!)  I also left a margin at the bottom for my "helpful in finding the characters" code.  The books are 8 1/2" x 9".  Even though with Kinko's binding error, they could have easily been 8 1/2 x 8 1/2.  They worked out in the end; I'm just glad I had not yet sewn the covers!
My kids and I made a list of characters that they wanted to meet/see at Disney.  (I used a couple of lists I found online of the current characters.)
Now for the fun (and most time consuming) part.  I have a ton of fonts on my computer.  a.ton.  Seriously, it's a sickness. I typed in the name of a character or group of characters at the top of each page and then changed the font style and color to match the movie/show.  I added pictures I found online of each picture to ensure that my 3 year olds would be able to find their pages on their own.  (We are in the middle of "I do it ALL BY MY.SELF.")  Then, I went through and added images to their individual books of them dressed up as their favorite characters during dress-up or Halloween or even themed birthday parties, or in my eldest son's case meeting the characters last time.
I found a guide online that tells you where to find the characters that have designated "stations" within the parks.  I then coded the bottom of each page with "E-    HS-   MK-   AK- " and listed the designated station in the appropriate park section.  If a park did NOT have a standard place for a specific character, I put an "X."  My goal is to ensure that we meet each child's favorite characters at each park, and I know that this will make that easier for us.
I left a couple of blank box pages at the end of the books for anyone else not pictured.
I printed them out on cardstock on our home printer (52 pages per book) and took them to Kinko's to have them cut, top page laminated, front frosted cover added, back black cover added, and spiral bound.
For the fabric covers...I had several ideas, and they had different pros and cons.  I considered creating a cover that when laid open (flat) the two sides were pockets that the frosted cover and black cover would slide into.  I could still do a ribbon to tie them closed, but it didn't protect the page corners at all from getting banged up in the backpack.  Instead, I chose to do one big (reversible) pocket.  (Yes, I'm anal enough that the bows and buttons are replicated on "right facing" fabric on the insides as well.)  When the side ribbon is untied, these "sleeves" slide off and "reverse" outside of the book.  On the inside, each book has 2 ribbons that are sewn in that have been tied onto the spiral binding of the books to keep them from falling away in the shuffle to and from each character.
Are you inspired?
I'd love to see YOUR solution for the Autograph Books!  In a few more years, I know I'll have an even better idea of what we want to do for ours.
Need to book?
If you haven't booked your Disney vacation yet, I would LOVE to help you!  I am an Authorized Disney Vacation planner (in addition to being a mom of 3 munchkins.)  You can check out my website or Facebook page to contact me.  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bento: Pumpkin Patch

It's Friday, which mean's it's a 3-lunch day in our house.  All 3 kids received a "pumpkin patch" lunch in  Laptop Lunch boxes. 
For the "big kid lunch," the sandwich box contains "pumpkin" carrot sticks and a jack-o-lantern apple with a pretzel stem and dried pineapple pieces in carved areas of the apple.  Mushrooms make the clouds over the pumpkin patch.  A sandwich cut into quarters is stacked into the 2 snack containers with fruit leather "toppers" with the pumpkin and the "negative" of the pumpkin cutout.  I also included a side of dressing for veggie dipping.
The "little people" lunches are packed in only the sandwich box from Laptop Lunch
The apple jack-o-lanterns were made as described above.  Oatmeal squares, crackers, cheddar cheese pumpkins, carrots, and a pumpkin fruit leather finish out these lunch boxes.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bento: Creepy

This is another simple Laptop Lunch and consists of a potato bread sandwich with eyeball pics, applesauce with cinnamon and a green hand pic, dried young coconut and craisins with an eyeball ring.  The compact silverware is by Sistema, but I don't remember where I picked them up - possibly the Container Store. The pics and rings are all from AllThingsForSale.com (during my recent shopping spree.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bento: Spider Web

This Laptop Lunch is comprised of the sandwich box with a sandwich on potato bread and a spider and web (from AllThingsForSale.com for $1.25), one snack box with lid with dried young coconut and a creepy hand pic (also from AllThingsForSale.com as part of a 5 piece set), and an individual applesauce cup.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bento: All Eyes on You

Again, Laptop Lunch times 3!
The top one consists of a sandwich on potato bread, Quaker oat square cereal, dried young coconut and craisins.
The bottom two for our 3 year olds contain carrots, 1/2 an apple, raisins, crackers, and cheddar cheese with Gogurts for snack time.
All of the eyes are rings from Allthingsforsale.com.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bento: Finger Sandwiches and Eyeballs

This simple Laptop Lunch consists of "finger sandwiches" on potato bread with finger pics, grapes with an eyeball ring, and a mini cupcake with an eyeball ring.  Our little dude was surprised to see a cupcake in his lunch, because that so rarely happens!  The pics and rings are all from AllThingsForSale.com (during my recent shopping spree.)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Bento: Halloween

Today is Laptop Lunch  times 3. is a sandwich on potato bread, dried young coconut, craisins, and tomatoes.  The decorative items - Frankenstein, bat & witch pics, and the witch and Frankenstein rings (yes, fun for even after lunch) are all from AllThingsForSale.com, and the silicone muffin cups are from World Market and our local grocery store.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bento: Gone Batty

All of my goodies arrived from AllThingsForSale.com, and I have fun new "toys" for the rest of the year. Today's Laptop Lunch is a sandwich on potato bread with a bat cutout (with an existing cookie cutter) and colored with Wilton Food Writers, dried young coconut, and grapes with bat pics.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bento: October

It's that time of year again!  I made the Pumpkin Maple & Cream Cheese Whoopie Pies again yesterday (still eggless for our middle child - maybe next year we can use eggs), and I made them small enough to fit into the Laptop Lunch containers.  YUM!

I feel a little disenchanted with some of my bento accessories, because we've been using them for 3 years now.  Some have disappeared.  I ordered some new ones last week at allthingsforsale.com, and I'm anxious to get them in!
In the meantime, a pumpkin, headstone, and witch cookie cutter helped dress up this last minute packed lunch.   Our seven year old has become persnickety about his lunches, and he loves that they're always "fun" in some regard, but he also makes requests about what is included.
Today's Laptop Lunch is a sandwich on potato bread, dried young coconut, craisins, a whoopie pie, and a peanut butter bar for snack time.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bento: Autumn

It's officially Fall!  Even though our 90+ degree days aren't giving us reprieve, a fall color scheme and an acorn found their way into this Laptop Lunch.  I found the acorn cookie cutter at a local craft store, and I used FooDoodler markers to draw on the acorn.  
After yesterday, the dried young coconut was a requirement by the lunch owner.  He said that the coconut was even better than dried pineapple, so I paired the two so he could further investigate.
Red grape tomatoes and yellow sunburst tomatoes fill the last compartment.
The little note is a free printable from ChefSolus.  I didn't have my camera out this morning, and snapped it with my phone, so it's not as easy to read here.  It says, "Fruits taste so sweet and yummy for your tummy. Have some for lunch!  Happy Lunch Time!"

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bento: APPLES!

This Laptop Lunch is comprised of the sandwich box and two snack boxes with lids.  
The left compartment has a Pink Lady apple cut into 8ths with the final 1/8th cut again in two in order for them to all fit.  Lemon juice or a citrus-based soda works well to keep them from turning brown before lunch.  I usually pour a bit on my cutting board or in a small bowl and just dip the individual pieces.  Half of a peanut butter and honey sandwich on potato bread is adorned with an apple cookie cutter cut-out and colored with Wilton Food Writer Edible Markers.  
The top right (green) compartment is filled with organic vanilla bean yogurt and a tablespoon of strawberry preserves swirled to be used as a dip for the apples or can be eaten with the Laptop Lunch spoon (far right compartment.)
The bottom right (purple) compartment has 2 silicone mini cupcake liners.  The top one has organic dried young coconut that we recently found at Costco.  Our son LOVES it.  loves.  He wants it for breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, and dessert.  The bottom liner has grape tomatoes with 1/3 of a toothpick as a "stem" to hold on fruit leather "leaves."  The leaves were made from the scraps remaining after creating the top two fruit leather apples.  I really need to find a small apple cookie cutter, because although it's not difficult to freehand an apple silhouette from fruit leather, it could be much easier.  
I realized after I sent this to school with my little guy that I forgot to include the apple eraser I had picked up for a few cents at Party City.  I guess another apple-themed lunch will be in store.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Bento: Lunch for 3

After a long couple of weeks, I made lunches last night so this morning was easier.  I used pieces of the Laptop Lunch system for all 3 lunches, some silicone cupcake liners, and a piece of silicone baran (grass.)  Sesame butter & honey sandwiches with animal crackers and fruit leather "suns" are the focal point.  Banana chips, blueberry yogurt covered raisins, and raisins finish out the remainder of the boxes.
The 3 year old twins are young enough that their entire lunch can fit in the sandwich size piece of the Laptop Lunch sets.  Our second grader will eat every bite in the full Laptop Lunchbox. 
How cute are the Stephen Joseph dinosaur and cupcake lunchboxes?  The Laptop Lunch system fits inside, which I absolutely love.  I had bought the duffel bags in the same design in a boutique in Fredericksburg, Texas, but when I realized that I could buy the lunchboxes, they became a necessity.  I bought them on Etsy from DeerPath Designs and saved myself the trouble of trying to figure out how to embroider them.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bento: Easy Fall Fruit Leather Leaves

After 2 weeks of my husband traveling, I don't feel greatly inspired with lunches. Some fruit leather and a few cookie cutters saved my day.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Birthday Party Camp Out

What happens when your kids want a "camp out" for their birthday, and you're a family that camps?  Well, it's taken literally.  What happens when the mom is also an event planner and can't seem to get her head around "just cupcakes" or S'mores while camping (and she's incredibly busy with a large wedding the weekend before)?  She turns to PrintMagic on Etsy a couple of months in advance, a local print shop (and a pair of scissors) in the weeks prior, and a well-stocked small bag by the week of the camping trip.  With 2 adults, 3 kids, and 2 boxers on a camping trip, there really isn't room for a full spread, but a few mini-muffins, some eggless cupcakes, some homemade caramel popcorn, and S'more kits worked wonders for the wilderness.
Favors consisted of a pouch and lanyard for each child to use while hiking.  Inside the pouches were crayons, pencils, notepads, magnifying glasses, and flashlights.