Channeling my inner southern belle, one checklist at a time...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Decorative Pinwheels Tutorial

    Paper pinwheels are so fun to make!  It's a craft that I can accomplish in 15 minutes, clean up included.  I like quick projects because I feel like I have accomplished something in a short amount of time!  And then I can admire my work over a cup of coffee and Gilmore Girls reruns.

    Pinwheels are a really great way to add a pop of color without spending a fortune.  If you can catch a sale, you will spend less than $.25 a piece.  That's amazing and when you see how easy they are, you'll be making them just for fun!

    One 12X12 piece of scrapbook paper will make 4 large pinwheels.  I like to use 2 contrasting sheets of paper, but a single piece will still make a beautiful pinwheel.  For this tutorial, I will assume that you are using 2 sheets.  I’ll call them Paper A and Paper B, as if I needed to make this anymore confusing.  Before you get started, go ahead and plug in your glue gun in case you need it to finish off your pinwheel.

Divide into 4 equal parts.
    Divide Paper A into 4 equal parts (Or roughly equal if, like me, you prefer to “eyeball it”) from the back side so your pencil marks won’t show on the finished product.  Just make sure that you match the back sides of both sheets of paper while cutting (that comes next) so the squares match.

    See how I have the back sides facing each other?  Now you may cut.

Match back sides together.

Cut each corner toward the
center of the square.
    Ok, now that you have 4 smaller squares (well, 8 really), pick up one set of small squares.  Mark the center of one piece.  This mark won’t show when we’re finished.  However, the piece of paper that you’ve chosen to mark will be on the inside of your finished pinwheel.  Let’s call this one Paper A.  Again, with the back sides together, cut from each corner into the center of the paper square, stopping about 1 inch from the center.  This is soooo not an exact science.  In fact, I encourage you NOT to measure during this craft.  Now, don’t you feel liberated?

    Now, there are a couple of ways to fasten your pinwheel.  You can use hot glue to hold it together and add a cute button as the bling.  Or you can use a paper fastener and a hole punch.  I'm going to show you the glue gun method because that's how I made this one.  However, if you have a fastener (there are really cute options from Paper Studio) and a hole punch, you will follow the same step.  Just omit the glue and hold your pieces tightly while you punch a hole.  

Glue wrong sides together to stabilize the pinwheel.
    Fold back Paper A to expose the center of the paper.  Put a small dot of glue in between your papers at the center to hold the wrong sides together.  This just stabilizes your pinwheel so that it lays more nicely when you're finished.  Lay your paper down with side A facing up.  Bring down one corner of both papers to the center mark.  Secure it with a dot of glue.  Continue in this fashion until all four corners are glued to the center.  You're almost finished!  Just hot glue your cute button or bling of choice to the center.  Add a dowel rod to the back if you please.  I was using mine for a diaper cake accent so I didn't need the dowel.  Voila!  Next please.






Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Diaper Cake Tutorial

    I know there are lots of diaper cake tutorials out there on the world wide web, but I like to think that mine is special.  It's also the cutest and smartest and, generally speaking, the best.  Wait, that's my kids.  Well, maybe this is not the best or smartest diaper cake tutorial but you're here and that's something, right?

   The first step to an amazing diaper cake is deciding what kind you want to make.  Yes, there are many different styles:  Classy, cutesy, cake-like, etc.  I prefer a combination of classy and cake-like.  Now, I'm not knocking cutesy but I'm much more comfortable designing something sophisticated with a whimsical touch. If you think that sounds like yourself, please continue.  If not, the foundation for all types of diaper cakes are basically the same.  You can choose to follow your own drummer at any point. 

Before you begin, you will need these supplies:

        A case of diapers (I prefer size 1)
        A heavy cardboard tube (wrapping paper, shipping tube)
                or something cylindrical for support
        Some rubber bands
        Fabric to cover 
        Ribbon or fabric to decorate
        Straight pins
        Buttons, flowers or some other decoration

    Now that you have returned from your mad dash to the craft store (was that just me?), let's get started.

Step 1
1.  Starting with your cardboard tube, begin tightly wrapping 6 or 7 diapers around one end of the tube.  Overlap the diapers so you are building the circumference.  This begins the foundation for your bottom tier.  Secure with 2 rubber bands.  Don't ask. Just do it.

Step 2
2.  Place the tube upright.  The diapers should easily form a support for the tube and be flush with the surface where you are working.  From here, you will roll diapers individually and add to the existing form.  Keep in place by stretching one of the rubber bands over each diaper you add to the "cake."  Continue adding the rolled diapers until you have 2 complete rows.    There should be a rubber band securing the inner row of diapers and one around each row on the bottom layer. 

Step 3
(I thought wax paper might photograph better because it's
reflective.  As you can see, I was wrong.) 
3.  Cut a piece of fabric to fit over the top and sides of this layer, cutting notches to slide over the center.  This will help stabilize the layers and look cleaner when your finished.  Slide 
a rubber band over the fabric and around the sides of the cake.  Tuck the edges underneath.  It's okay if it doesn't look smooth on the sides; they will be covered later.  You're ready for the next tier. 

Again with the wax paper.

4.  Repeat steps 1-3 for the middle tier, reducing the size by one row.  For the top tier, repeat steps 1 and 2, using only 3 diapers for the center.  With a utility knife or something less dangerous, cut the tube so that it is even with the top tier of diapers.  Repeat step 3, omitting the opening in the center.  Try to make the top as smooth as possible this time.  At this point, you should have something that looks very much like a 3-layer cake if you have lost your glasses and are wearing a pair from 9 years ago.  This is your basic diaper cake.  

Step 5: Press edges of fabric strip
toward center to hide raw edges.
5.  Next, we'll cover the outside of each layer with fabric.  This will show so it should coordinate with your ribbon and/or decorations.  Measure fabric with enough length to fit around each layer, plus 4 inches so the fabric will overlap.  Cut twice the width of the tier and fold each edge to meet in the middle.  Iron the fold for a crisp edge.   Now, find the most well rounded side of each tier and turn so they are aligned.  This is now the front of your cake, making the back side, well, the back.  Tightly wrap the white fabric around each tier and fasten with a straight pin in the back. 

6.  This is where you can get creative.  Use ribbon, fabric or whatever you have on hand to decorate your cake.  Cut to length +4 inches and fasten with a straight pin, just like the earlier fabric.  You know the drill.  You can match baby's room or a shower theme or do your own thing.  Accent with flowers (homemade or store bought), bows, trinkets, think outside the box.  I made a little stuffed whale from this tutorial at I (heart) naptime in a smaller version.

   There you have it.  A beautiful, sophisticated, delicious-looking but non-edible diaper cake.  It's always a show-stopper and fun to make.  Plus it's a great accent for the gift table.  Trust me, the hostess will thank you. 



Sunday, August 19, 2012

From the Womb to the World: A Mother's Intuition

    It goes by many names: gut instinct, sixth sense, mother's intuition to name a few.  As mothers, we're told to follow our instincts.  After all, we were biologically created to nurture and care for our babies.  There's something amazing about a mother's urge to soothe, feed and care for her baby as soon as it leaves the womb.  Our "gut" can even sense danger.  It's miraculous.
    So, why do we often stray from our intuition because it's the "right" thing to do?

    Releasing my "baby" into the big, new world of kindergarten has awakened some of those maternal instincts that I haven't felt years.  I am in a constant state of anxiety, and trying to appear calm so as not to upset her.  Mostly, I think I've done a pretty solid job of covering up my emotions.  I've also done a lot of clapping and high-pitched squeals when she shares something new about school.  It's a bit harder to smother the feelings when my little girl gives me a wide-eyed look and says, "Mommy, do you feel sad when you miss me?"  

    Oh, my heart almost breaks.

    And it's that moment that makes me wonder why I've put aside my protective instinct to send her off to fly.  

    With so much new found time on my hands, I've been pondering the mother-baby bond between birds.  Animal mothers have only their instincts to guide them.  They birth and attend to their young, purely drawing on natural urges.  Feeding, nurturing, and setting them free only when they sense the time is right.  They don't follow a set of rules from society or a government institution.  They don't get an arsenal of mail relating to school registration.

   Is it time to let my baby fly?  I don't know the answer just yet.  I am resentful that I have pushed her from the nest and now watch her struggle to make a way.  I think it's healthy for our children to have struggles, even to fail.  But I think this is bigger than that, more than a learning experience.  

    What would a mother bird do?


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pickles and Ice Cream

   I love to have parties.  I also love to plan and coordinate and, generally, be in charge.  So, when my brother- and sister-in-law, announced that they were having a baby, I immediately claimed rights to throwing the shower.  Of course, I offered my congratulations and said all the appropriate things first.  I think.  Anyway, I was super excited to spoil my niece-to-be before she was even born.  And really looking forward to months of planning the perfect party.

   Right away, my sister-in-law, Megan, suggested a pool party for their couples friends.  We both agreed that 7 months pregnant in the July heat was going to be no picnic.  Luckily, Jeremy and Megan have a beautiful pool conveniently located...in their backyard.  So, the location was set, along with a built-in theme.  I was a bit worried that in my "old" age, I could not plan a party for these cool youngsters.  But, I pressed on.  And received much help from two of Megan's  young (hooray) friends from college, Wanda and Crystal.

    Here's what we came up with ... A Pool Party BBQ Bash!
   (Please note, I am not a photographer, nor do I have a fancy camera.  These were all taken with my phone.)


Piggy bank (left); Party favors (center); Wishes for baby (right) from 

                                                Crystal made these adorable party favors.                                   So sweet!

    We chose a yellow and grey color scheme to match the nursery.  I love that any of the decorations could be used in the baby's room after the shower.  With a bbq theme, it seemed natural to use rustic decor to help things look a bit more casual.  Burlap runners toned down the white tablecloths and jute accents were a nice touch.

We used two drink dispensers to serve pink lemonade and sweet tea.  This beautiful ice bucket came from Target.  Drinks were served in Mason jars.  Wanda hand-painted baby Ella's initials.

    We designated a corner of the yard for opening gifts.  This conveniently placed them out of the way of stray splashes from the pool.  It also made for nice photos while they opened their gifts.  

This pretty bench was a great spot to open gifts (top left); My diaper cake was an accent for the gift table (right).

    For decorations around the pool, we hung colorful paper penants and baby pictures of Jeremy and Megan.  They were cut from scrapbook paper and strung on lengths of jute.

Baby pics of the parents-to-be were a great conversation piece (right).

Invitation from Whirlibird 
    There were so many great invitation options from Etsy, it was hard to choose one.   This is the lovely invitation that we decided on , which received many compliments from guests and the parents-to-be.  

Our menu was bbq inspired...

Pork bbq sliders w/homemade dill pickles
Country baked beans

It was delicious!  

    Instead of serving cake, we decided homemade ice cream was the perfect compliment to this cool (but hot) celebration.  We offered two flavors, strawberry swirl or mint with chocolate fudge, in a regular or chocolate-dipped waffle. (I sooo wish I had taken a picture but three hours of party got the best of me.)  It was the perfect way to wrap up the party.  What a great time!


*(recipe courtesy Dave Lieberman at Food Network 
**(recipe at Mel's Kitchen Cafe 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Too Much "To Do"

    It's list-making season at my house.  Lists for school supplies, grocery, things to do the day before school, things to do on the first day school.  I'm making lists of lists I still need to make.  With school starting tomorrow, there are clothes to be laid out and lunches to be packed.  Lots of papers to sign.  Really, I shouldn't even bother going to bed tonight.

    So, in the midst of all of this, I have escaped to a quiet corner of my house to start a blog.  (I blame it on my "flighty" tendencies.)  The left side of my brain likes to take a vacation when things become hectic.  These moments have given birth to some of my favorite creations.  I can become completely absorbed in the crafty moment and lose hours to the sewing machine or glue gun.  

    And, while I love to put in my ear buds and sew for days, I'm also crazy about doing crafts with my two precious daughters.  We have great "big girl" conversations, make up jokes, and learn patience along the way.  Sometimes our crafts are masterpiece creations; sometimes they aren't.  But when you're making art with a 7- and 5-year-old, you're always having fun.

   At some point, reality beckons.  I realize that if the laundry is going to get folded, I will need to fold it.  If we are going to have dinner tonight, I will have to cook it (or ask my sweet husband to cook).  If my daughter is going to have the homemade pop tarts I promised, I will need to make them.  Eventually, I will have to tackle that list.  

    I think I'll start a new one.


Hey, guys!  Here's a link to the poptart recipe I used.  It's delicious!  My kids agree!