Fun Friday – Crayon and Sandpaper Iron-On Transfers

I am notoriously bad at crafts.  I think Pinterest is the devil because my crafts NEVER turn out the way they should, regardless of how easy someone claims the project is.  As such, I have just about given up trying homemade things lately.pinterest 2

However, I discovered a website (The Crafty Collaborative) that features several daring women who try out various crafts and recipes and then let you know the honest scoop on how “easy” they really are!  You get pros and cons from multiple ladies who are testing out the same craft so you know if it really is something worth trying!  I appreciate this on so many levels!

Their most recent art project was making a homemade iron-on design using only sandpaper and crayons!  This looked like a legitimate project to me and the ladies all testified that it was, so my kids and I sat down to attempt it too.

*To try this yourself, you will need the following items:

  • Crayons (old crayons would work great because they will get worn down on the sandpaper)
  • Sandpaper
  • An Iron
  • Paper Towels
  • A plain t-shirt, tote bag, pillowcase, etc. that you can put a decal on

I love that the materials for this project are all things that you probably have just lying around the house!  Cheap and easy? YES, PLEASE!

The kids sat down and colored a design on their individual sheets of sandpaper (we used the thin grit so it was easier to color on).

I forgot to take a picture of their pictures before I ironed, but you can see how well the sandpaper held on the colors even after transferring

I forgot to take a picture of their pictures before I ironed, but you can see how well the sandpaper held on the colors even after transferring

When they were finished, I flipped the paper over, lined it up on an old white t-shirt, and ironed it on.  It only took about 5 seconds to get the picture on the t-shirt!  Then, I put a paper towel over the t-shirt picture and ironed a few times to get the excess wax off.

A specially designed t-shirt in just 5 seconds!

A specially designed t-shirt in just 5 seconds!

Voila; new art shirts for school (we purposely tested this out on daddy’s old t-shirts because they would be used for messy art projects anyway and I was still a little skeptical of the outcome, given my history of crafting).

showing off their shirts

showing off their shirts

You do have to push down on the crayons a little harder than usual to make sure that the picture is really bright on the sandpaper or the picture will be faint (notice that my son’s shirt is not nearly as bright in certain spots because he didn’t color as hard).

And, if you want to put any words or numbers in the picture, you have to remember to write them backwards on the paper or they will show up backwards on the shirt.  My son forgot that rule and had to adjust his picture accordingly (BUT MOM, HOW DO YOU DRAW A FOOTBALL PLAYER WITHOUT THEIR NAME AND JERSEY NUMBER?! – a question that should have been asked before he started drawing seeing as though I only had 2 pieces of sandpaper at that time), which is why his looks a little wonky – he tried to turn the numbers/letters he drew into helmets on a football field, but he gets his artistic ability from his mama so it is what it is.

The whole point of my rambling is that the project was SO simple and required very little preparation, no specialty tools, little to no money, and very little work on my part – HOORAY!  pinterest 1It is definitely something that I would recommend trying with your kids the next time they get “bored” or if you need a cute gift for a grandparent or family member.

Thanks The Crafty Collaborative for reviewing this fun idea so that I was brave enough to try it myself!

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Summer Camp Recycled Crafts – Part 2

As promised in Part 1, I’ve got a few more “green” crafts from Summer Camp to share with you and here they are!

  • Fabric CD Coasters – At the same local shop we found the old VHS cases (The fantastic Sharing Tree if you live in the Tallahassee area – you can fill a huge tote bag full of scrap/recycled materials for only $5!), we also found bulk used CDs and Fabric Sample booklets.  We used these materials to create fun coasters for the kids to give as gifts.  You simply trace the CD onto the fabric with chalk or a pencil, cut it out, glue it on one side of the CD and cover the fabric with Mod Podge to seal it.  We used small pieces of Duct Tape to cover the hole in the back just to guarantee the liquid wouldn’t seep through there and we placed little foam pieces on the back to raise the coasters off of the table a little.  So easy and with so many fabric choices available (even from old shower curtains, drapes, towels, etc., that you have lying around the house), the possibilities are endless if you want to match them to your home decor or create as a gift!
We used all different types of material (from thin satin and gingham to very thick, almost carpet-like fabric)

We used all different types of material (from thin satin and gingham to very thick, almost carpet-like fabric)  These were still wet with glue, but they dried solid and work GREAT!

  • Cereal Box Collages – We cut the front and back cardboard pieces from recycled cereal boxes to use as a mat for creating a collage.  We then let the kids create a theme by using old magazines as inspiration.  The children used animals, fun shaped letters, and other things to create theirs.  This could be a totally free craft to create on a rainy day if you have old magazines, a cereal box (or even a shoe box or mailing box or the back of an old book that is falling apart) and some glue!

    My son decided to go through the magazines and find ads from different products that he recognized and creating a collage of those.

    My son decided to go through the magazines and find ads from different products that he recognized and create a collage of those – ANY theme would work.

  • Cupcake Liner and Egg Carton “Flower Garden” – For the end of the week luncheon centerpieces the second week of camp, we let the younger kids make “flowers” out of cupcake liners, popsicle sticks, and other tiny odds and ends.  We then placed their flowers into egg cartons which they painted green to resemble a patch of grass.  It was really interesting to watch some kids really decorate the inside of their flowers, while others were content to just glue a single button or pom-pom inside and call it a day.  In the end, it was a simple project but also a colorful one that the kids enjoyed.

    Our little "gardens"

    Our little “gardens”

  •  Crystal Light Find-It Game –  I have done this craft with my own kids (as seen in this post) and they had a blast so when we realized that we had enough random materials to let the pre-K and Kindergarten kids make this, we ran with this adapted version.  Instead of soda bottles, we used empty Crystal Light containers that were donated to our class.  We also had a small package of birdseed so we used that instead of rice.  Turns out, both containers and both “filler” items work just fine.  You simply fill the container 3/4 of the way with whatever filler you choose, add random “treasures” (such as lego pieces, foam cutouts, buttons, beads, Barbie shoes, etc. – whatever items will fit in the container) to the top of the filler, seal it with either glue or duct tape, as shown in the picture below, and shake it up good so that the items are mixed into the filler.  *Remember to make a list of the items you will be searching for, just so you don’t forget!*  Now the kids have a game for the house or on the go!
    The birdseed and items to find (pre-shaking)

    The birdseed and items to find (pre-shaking) 

    find it 2

    Our finished product (minus the clue card)

Pet Rocks – As an extra time filler, we brought back the 70’s fad, pet rocks!  All you need is paint, little googly eyes, yarn or confetti and rocks from your yard or garden.  Surprisingly, even the older kids seemed to like this.

I was told that these pet rocks were modeled after the monsters in "Monsters Inc." :)  Very creative.

I was told that these pet rocks were modeled after the monsters in “Monsters Inc.” 🙂 Very creative.

During the camp we also used the fabric samples to create bookmarks and decorative binder clips (although I failed to get a shot of those).  We really enjoyed finding new ways to use left over materials and recycled materials.  Not only did it make crafting less expensive, it allowed us to repurpose items that you might not think could be repurposed.

Thanks again to everyone who helped me with ideas in my original post and I hope you are inspired to try a few of these projects yourself!

Summer Camp Recycled Crafts – Part I

I have been MIA for the last two weeks or so thanks to my exhausting job as an assistant arts and crafts teacher at a local camp.

I’m happy to report that the kids, including older boys, loved the crafts – many of which came from the ideas y’all sent me earlier this year – and I really wanted to share them with you because if I was able to help kids accomplish these projects (in the midst of dealing with inept babysitters for Big Trouble), ANYONE can do it and it might give you some cool projects to attempt during the long Summer months when moms can start going crazy!

Get ready for a huge photo dump (which is why this will be in 2 parts).  Disclaimer – the photos aren’t fantastic because I was frantically trying to remember to catch the finished projects with my lousy phone in between cleaning up and helping kids, but you’ll still get the gist.

  • Button Bowls (I did a separate post about these when I was testing it out at home if you want directions, but it’s super easy, only slightly messy – unless you are doing it with 10 kids at camp – and only involves a balloon, buttons and glue/mod podge)!
button bowls!

button bowls!

  • Yarn Wine Bottle Vase – We used empty wine bottles, a bit of yarn, and glue to create beautifully unique vases which were used as centerpieces for a luncheon on the last day of camp.  (We also had the kids make tissue paper flowers to put in them but of course I forgot to take a picture of those).  This was a great project for the older kids, 3rd grade and up, because after we tied the top part of the ribbon onto the lip of the bottle, they just painted small portions with glue and started wrapping the yarn.  Occasionally, the yarn would slide down, but it was very easy to just push it back up tightly, even if you decided to use different color yarns and had to tie on another piece.
I actually made this one myself out of one roll of green yarn that changed shades every few feet.

I actually made this one myself out of one roll of green yarn that changed shades every few feet.

  • Toilet Paper Roll Owl – Since owls have been on trend recently, we made cute owls out of toilet paper rolls, leaves, feathers, markers, googly eyes and a few other crafty odds and ends.
This little guy lost a feather wing on the way home, but he still has his leaf wing and nose.

This little guy lost a feather wing on the way home, but he still has his leaf wing and nose.

  • VHS Pencil/Treasure Boxes – When looking around for “green” art supplies, we came across a small store that had a stash of old, clear VHS tape boxes.  We thought they would be perfect and easy for the kids to decorate as a “if I finish early” project.
Each kid used Sharpies to decorate their box however they wished

Each kid used Sharpies to decorate their box however they wished

  • Matisse-inspired Name Art In my original recycled crafts blog, one of my art teacher friends offered this idea as she had done it with some of her older students in her class this year.  We loved this inspiration, but some of the kids were too small to be able to cut cool letters out of paper so we tweaked the idea a little and wrote each kid’s name on a thick mat board and gave them numerous craft supplies (such as broken crayons, pom poms, buttons, beads, feathers, googly eyes, tissue paper, confetti, etc.) to be used to create their own special work of art.
some turned out better than others, but each kid LOVED this project.

some turned out better than others, but each kid LOVED this project.

  • Tile Trivets – This was another time filler project, but the kids really enjoyed it and many of them made them as gifts for Father’s Day.  We just purchased tiles in bulk from Home Depot and let the kids decorate them with Sharpies.  Then, when they were finished, we applied a light sealant over them so that the artwork won’t come off if they have to wash them.  We also added a few small squares of foam squares to the bottom to make sure they wouldn’t scratch any tables or countertops.
If you look closely, you will see a few with hands on them as we traced the hands of the Pre-K and K kids for their parents because you know they have such cute and tiny hands right now!

If you look closely, you will see a few tiles with decorated hands on them.  We traced the hands of the Pre-K and K kids for their parents because you know they have such cute and tiny hands right now!

some of the kids took the "art" part very seriously and came up with some really cool drawings and ideas.

some of the kids took the “art” part very seriously and came up with some really cool drawings and ideas.

  • Potholders – This craft should look very familiar to most of you because it has been around for a long time.  We purchased some inexpensive plastic looms from Hobby Lobby and ordered the already cut pieces of stretchy fabric for the kids to weave potholders out of.  This wasn’t particularly “green” but the original idea was to use old tshirts and socks, cut in the same fashion as the strips we bought, to create the potholders.  We ran out of prep time, but that is definitely a way to create a “green” potholder!
not fancy, but does the job

not fancy, but does the job

These are just a few of the crafts that we did over the past 2 weeks and I will have a few more to share later on in the week.  I hope you are inspired by these projects enough to want to try creating your own masterpieces with your kids! 🙂

Wordless Wednesday – Pencil Vases For Teachers

We'll be replacing the flowers with fuller bouquets and adding a personal card from each kid, but this is what we went with for the school teachers this year :)

We’ll be replacing the flowers with fuller bouquets and adding a personal card from each kid using the flower clothespins on the front, but this is what we went with for the school teachers this year.  With the exception of one stubborn pencil that is refusing to fully stick to the glass, I think they turned out pretty well  🙂

Button Bowl (Pinterest DIY Semi-Success)

This past weekend, the kids and I decided to try out one of the crafts that I posted about on my recycled crafts blog party post to see if it was really doable for the Summer Camp crowd.  I had all of the supplies on hand (or at least worthy enough versions of the supplies) so we got them all out and sat down to create our masterpiece.

As it turns out, this is a pretty easy craft to make (I am about to share the instructions for you to try); but, having said that, please know that I had four extra “helping” hands and a toddler who was doing his best to steal the buttons and roll in the glue every 10 seconds so our final outcome wasn’t as pristine as I had hoped.  It did come out in one piece though and after so many epic failures from Pinterest, I have to mark this one in the “success” column.

Anyhow, here’s what we did!  Hope you get a chance to try it yourself (I’m sure yours will turn out much better).  These actually could make really cute gifts.

what we were aiming for

This was the example bowl – ours does not look like this

First, we gathered up the necessary supplies: a balloon, buttons, white glue, a paintbrush and a bowl.

the goods

the goods

Next, we blew the balloon up to a reasonable size, tied it and placed it in the bowl so that it would be balanced.

The balloon "bowl form"

The balloon “bowl form”

You’ll notice that I drew a line on it with a sharpie so that the kids knew where they were supposed to stop with the balloons (or start, however you want to look at it).

Then we used the paint brush to cover the part of the balloon that was above the line with glue.  APPLY LIBERALLY.  I cannot emphasize enough that the more glue, the better.  I actually took a picture of what the balloon looked like after we added the first layer of glue, but then quickly realized that you couldn’t see it in a picture because I used a white balloon like the genius that I am.  I recommend using a darker color so you can see how exactly where the glue is going.

Let that glue dry for 15-30 minutes, depending on how much glue you used.  As long as it is dry to the touch, you’re good.  Then add another layer of glue on top of the first layer.  This creates the base of your bowl and is what ultimately will help hold everything together.

Next, we started the fun part: adding the buttons!

buttons, buttons everywhere!

buttons, buttons everywhere!

As you can see, the kids chose buttons of different sizes (which will still work if that’s what you have laying around the house, but it’s not as easy to keep them in a straight line for purposes of the top of the bowl) and they didn’t plan any kind of color pattern but hey, they did it themselves and that’s what counts, right?  Just make sure that all of the buttons are touching for a more even look (and because it helps the glue adhere better – we had issues so learn from us).

We let these buttons dry overnight just to make sure they were on there good, but a few hours should do the trick if you have the time to glue them on and then come back.  Once the buttons are tightly glued on, you use the glue to paint over the buttons.  Again, the more glue, the better.  We used a sponge brush and found it somewhat difficult to get the glue in the spaces between the buttons so when we do this at the Summer Camp, we will be using regular paint brushes.  It is really important that the glue covers EVERYTHING including those spaces or the bowl will fall apart.

glue on top of the buttons

glue on top of the buttons

Once that glue dries, you repeat the “glue-over” process 1-2 more times, just to add those necessary extra layers of protection for the buttons.  Yes, this is a drawn out process because of the drying time, but it is very simple and the gluing only takes a few minutes each time so it’s a project you can do in between other tasks because you can walk away from it if you need to.

Finally, once all of the glue is dry, we sliced a small hole where the balloon was tied.  This slowly let the air out of the balloon without popping it, which allows the balloon to slowly pull itself away from the glue of the bowl without breaking the bowl.  You don’t have to do a thing until the balloon is completely peeled off.  You may have some jagged glue edges at the top if you weren’t careful about the glue around the base/where the buttons stop (my kids weren’t – SHOCKER) but I had no problem just slicing it off with some sharp scissors or exacto knife.

Our button bowl

Our button bowl

And there you have it.  A bowl made out of nothing but buttons and glue.  Obviously, the bowl isn’t made to be used for anything edible or heavy, but is sturdy enough to hold light things or for decorative use.  We loved this fun way to use old buttons (and some new ones because we didn’t quite have enough just from my sewing kit) and I hope you are inspired to create an even better version of this “green” craft!


Warning: Pinterest Can Be Hazardous To Your Mental Health

pinterestI’m not an artistic person.  I like to do arts and crafts but my skill level is comparable to my 3 kids (ages 7, 5 and 2).  When Pinterest first came out, I was in awe of all of the cool craft ideas for gifts and holidays and basically just everyday life.  Many of the crafts that had been pinned were done by normal people, not Martha Stewart, so this made me feel quite confident that I could also accomplish everything that I repinned to my boards.  Confidence was mine and everyone I knew was on a list to become a recipient of my great creations.

A few months in and many attempts later, I quickly realized that these projects really were not meant for me.  I managed to get a few things done and blamed the technique on my kids so people forgave the catastrophes.  But the more things I tried, the more frustrated I became because I finally became privy to the knowledge that the I am NOT Martha Stewart; I am not a member of her staff; I am not even on the same level as her beloved dogs – this was a tough thing to admit, but it had to happen eventually.  As such, I can’t even accomplish what the normal people on Pinterest can. Great.

As Valentine’s Day was approaching, I found myself being tugged back in the direction of Pinterest in search of the perfect homemade Valentine project to do with my kids.  I just knew that no other mother would buy Valentines this year, solely because Pinterest exists.  I found so many cute ideas and even made a board for them.  Then I had a PTSD flashback to last Valentine’s Day when “we” made little inchworm Valentines from a “simple” printable that I found where?  You guessed it, Pinterest.

It was a much bigger pain than I thought and I almost broke my hand (not joking, ripped a tendon in my wrist) punching a billion holes in cardstock.  What was I thinking when I even considered homemade valentines this year?!  Oh, I know; I saw all of the posts from all of my friends and their friends about the cute things they were making with their kids and of course I felt the pressure to “be a good mom” and keep up with the fantastic gifts that everyone else was making.  It’s so easy to feel that pressure, isn’t it?! Especially with wretched Pinterest making me feel so inferior.  Curse you, Pinterest!

Well, about the time that I would have started the process of making Valentines, everyone got sick and after that week-long germ fest, I just didn’t have it in me to do homemade.  So, I cautiously asked my kids if they would be ok with just buying cards this year (meanwhile I was praying fervently for the answer that I wanted).  They both quickly agreed to just give me ideas and let me find the closest thing while they were at school.  SERIOUSLY?!  I hit the jackpot!  That meant that I could just run in and run out (albeit with my 2-year-old in tow) and not have to wait 3 hours while they carefully examined every possible option 30 times.  My son wanted sports – DONE; my daughter wanted Barbie – DONE; and my baby immediately picked out the Muppets as soon as he laid eyes on the box.  Perfect.  I bought a bag of valentine-colored sixlets to add to their cards and we were set.

money well spent!

money well spent!

Naturally, the morning of Valentine’s Day, my son woke up sick – even more stress!!  So, his sister took his cards to his class and picked up his bag at the end of the day so he wouldn’t miss out completely.  As they sat down at our table that night to show me all of their cards, I held my breath.  I was positive that there would be so many cute homemade cards that other kids had made with their moms and I would feel that horrible wave of guilt, even though I knew the choice was right this year.  To my great surprise, the only people who made their Valentines were the teachers!  Sigh of relief!  I guess all of the other moms came to the same realization this year!

I will most likely try to make something next year (probably something “easy” from horrid Pinterest – ugh), but for now, I am very happy that this year, both my tendons and my sanity are still in tact!  Success!  Happy Valentine’s Day to ME!!!  (And to you too – hope yours was a little less stressful than mine!) 🙂pinterest 2

Operation Smile, Valentine’s Edition

I am reposting the link to our charitable blog below as we have updated our Operation Smile list to include several more sick children who would love to receive Valentine’s from you!  Please help us shower each one with cheerful cards! (If you have already started, please check the updated list for the new names and addresses!)

Thank you so much to everyone who has already said they will be participating!

Mikey’s Helping Place: Operation Smile, Valentine’s Edition

Craft Wars, Compliments of My (Bored) Creative Kids

About a month ago, I started running out of ideas for things to do with my 3 children over this very long Summer.  Coincidentally, it was right about that time that I discovered the show Craft Wars on TLC.  It’s the one that’s kind of like Project Runway but with weird art projects instead of clothing design. **Here’s where I feel the need to give my obligaTORI shout out to Tori Spelling for bringing this show to life and for inspiring me to come up with new ways to incorporate the name Tori into everyday words like she does with all of her branding.  (You’re welcome for the title of your next book, Tori)**

Anyhow, the show was an instant hit with my kids and we watched several episodes while they attempted to create their own similar masterpieces from our meager stash of art supplies.  (What? You don’t have a Michael’s Craft Closet like the contestants on the show?!  Um, no, but we do have what I like to call the Michael’s Craft Bucket and it seems to do the trick.)  The problems started arising when the kids ran out of episodes to watch and started coming to me for their ‘Pop Craft’ and ‘Master Craft’ challenges.  They weren’t looking for me to say, “here’s some popsicle sticks and glue, now go make a frame, kids.”  Oh, no.  That would have been too easy.  They wanted me to make weird requests like those on the show.

I tried to indulge them with challenges such as make a toilet out of leftover wrapping paper and used gift cards or make a fully functional kitchen out of toothbrush holders and unused diapers, etc.  Luckily for me, my kids have great imaginations so they actually pretended they were able to accomplish these ridiculous artistic feats.  But, pretending only goes so far so when they finally asked me to let them make something real, they decided they should create some DIY office supplies for their Grandma’s new office.  Each child could have the same tools, but could choose their own specific supplies and their personal methods of decoration.  Much to my relief, they liked the idea.  So, we headed to the store and purchased some basic office supplies and took them home to see what embellishments we could find in our Michael’s Craft Bucket.

My daughter decided her theme would be SPARKLES because obviously nothing says, “I’m a professional” like sparkly office supplies.  She chose a tape dispenser, a calculator, highlighters, and a large painted clothes pin that could be used to hold a stack of papers together.  My son went down a more practical route and decided that he would use paperclips and scrapbook paper to create his supplies.  He chose a mousepad, binder clips, a pencil can and post-it notes.  We fired up our glue guns and we were ready.

My daughter and I kicked things off by hot gluing “jewels” around the items she chose (except for the highlighters, which we painted gold with garnet glitter on top to add our signature Seminole flair).  NOTE TO SELF: next time forget the glue gun and just get some glue dots so that no one, namely mom, gets burnt in the process.

Bejeweling is coming back

While I was busy burning myselfcreating jeweled masterpieces with my daughter, my son was creating paper clip chains to decorate the cup and an unused acrylic frame which he turned into a post-it holder.  (I have to hand it to him, he had an inventive way of incorporating his paper clips into the design while still having some leftovers to use as they were intended – too bad I’m still awful with a glue gun so there were definite visible glue strings; the judges would not be pleased).

Notice the intricate glue string detail around the paperclip post-it holder which I wisely decided to hide with “watery” background paper

A few burns later, “we” moved on to making tiny paper rolls to insert into our plain pens, followed by decoupaging similar papers onto the binders and mousepad.  I use the word “we” loosely here because the older kids eventually became deserters of our craft war, leaving my 21-month-old as my closest lieutenant.  I know it is hard to believe, but an almost 2-year-old is not the ideal soldier in times of war.

it doesn’t look like much, but just try to envision me fighting with my 21-month old about where exactly the glue is supposed to go (hint, not in the mouth or hair or on the tv or the couch…you get the picture)

So, as Commanding General of my troops, I pulled out the biggest weapon in my arsenal: chalkboard paint and some wooden letters we could turn into initial-style paperweights.  This was all it took to coerce my children into returning to battle.

the initials of my kids, chalkboard style (notice how they cleverly tested the chalk for Grandma to make sure it worked)

Not everything turned out quite as planned that day, and the kids did abandon me momentarily, leaving me to use my toes to attempt to encourage my toddler to go to sleep on the couch instead of eating glue while I finished on one foot, but all in all, we had fun playing out our version of Craft Wars.  It kept us busy for an entire day and I think Grandma enjoyed the fruits of our labor.  If only Tori Spelling could see us now!  I wonder which crafter she would choose?

Fun, Yet Practical Baby Gifts!

In previous posts I have mentioned my love of creating baby gifts out of practical items that every mother can use.  I have made items for craft shows and private parties, along with numerous personal parties for friends and family.  I don’t make a lot of money doing this, but it’s a fun escape from the craziness of mothering 3 little ones.

Recently, I have had a few people contact me for tips on putting together cakes and other baby goodies in original ways and I would love to share them with you.  The prices of most of the diaper cakes on the internet are ridiculous so if you are even the slightest bit crafty, you can absolutely make a fun, practical gift yourself for a fraction of the cost.  I am no professional designer, obviously, but I truly believe you can tell when someone’s heart goes into a project and that means a lot to people in this age of generic gift giving!  So, please feel free to use/tweak my ideas for your personal use and share pictures with me if you are inspired to create something magical!

diaper wreath for a hospital room door

  • Tip 1: If the person you are making the gift for has a baby registry, scour it early on in order to see if they have established a theme for their nursery because it will help you in deciding how to decorate.  The registry may also include specific items that the parents are looking for that fit the theme (such as rattles, bottles, pacifiers, etc.) and you can purchase those to use in/on your cake if you so desire.  You are purchasing from the registry while giving the gifts a unique twist so it’s a win-win.

    lady bug theme using items from a registry (including head bands, brush/comb, nail clippers, socks, etc.)

  • Tip 2: If you know the expectant mom very well, think about her own personal tastes and incorporate those into a gift.  I have done this for friends and family via the “pregnancy craving” route, which is why so many of my non-cake creations are still food items.  Some foods are easier made than others, but I’m convinced anything is possible if you have time to try!

    “sushi” made from layette items, diapers and washcloths

    “sub” made from blankets, diapers, washcloths and socks

    “lollipops” and “candy”

    fuzzy sock “cupcakes” (or “ice cream” if you add a spoon to the package) for the mommy

    diaper “cupcakes”

    If the personal tastes are of the non-edible nature (such as flowers or shoes), you can try to create something in that genre too.  I’ve always wanted to try to make a diaper jewelry set, just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

flowers made from a layette set

baby bootie made from diapers

  • Tip 3: Don’t forget the dad when creating the gift.  Everyone always oohs and aahs over the mommy and her growing belly, and rightfully so because it is no joke to be pregnant, but sometimes the dads get lost in the shuffle and it takes them a little longer to really get the feeling that they are about to become a parent!  I like to make a little daddy diaper kit that is silly, but funny, and helps the dad feel like part of the process too.  You can also get little bibs or clothing with sayings like, “I love daddy” or “daddy’s little helper” which you can include in the project in order to let the special guy know he is thought of as well.

    silly items included in the diaper changing kit (goggles, gloves, mask, tongs, diaper, wipes, powder, hand sanitizer, and diaper bag)

    all wrapped up with a cute poem (if you are interested in the wording of the poem, send me a message and I will get it to you)

  • Tip 4: If you can’t come up with a specific theme, there is nothing wrong with going down the traditional blue or pink path (or green/yellow if the gender is unknown).  It may seem less creative, but despite a lot of parents wanting to break down gender barriers, there’s only so many times you can deal with a stranger asking “how old is he?” when you have a brand new little girl – or vice versa.  Having a little pink or blue lying around can help avoid the mix up in the beginning when ALL babies look like little, wrinkly old men. (Be forewarned that some people are just dumb and still won’t get it, regardless of the obvious color scheme you present, but we’re going with the assumption that most humans will understand).

    twin “generic” cakes

  • Tip 5:Don’t use adhesive that will ruin any of the items that you are giving as gifts.  I have seen diaper cakes that are absolutely stunning in person, but they use so much glue/tape to hold it together that a lot of the diapers are ruined in the process.  This kind of defeats the purpose of giving diapers (or clothes or blankets, etc.) as it should be something that is easy to take apart and use immediately!  **8 oz. Bottles are the perfect item to place in the center of the diapers to hold cake tiers together with no adhesive.  Large cloth diaper pins (or safety pins) work well when you want to wrap a cute towel or sheet or blanket around something without destroying it.  The holes never show when you take the pin out and the items will stay in place.  Also, if you are wrapping up diapers individually in rolls, the little, clear plastic hair bands that you can find in packs of 500 at any store work FANTASTIC for holding the roll together and maintaining the integrity of the diaper at the same time.  Tying ribbon or tulle around the edges also helps to keep everything together during the transport of the gift and can also allow a safe surface to glue or tape tiny decorative items to, if need be!**

    everything is held together by hidden rubber bands, ribbon/tulle, and diaper pins!

  • Tip 6: Don’t overdo the decorations if you are making a cake!  It is so tempting to keep adding toy after toy and bottles and socks and all other sorts of goodies to the outside of the cake.  However, it’s difficult to attach all of these things in a permanent way and even if you can manage to do it, the cake starts looking really cluttered and overwhelmed.

    I got a little carried away with this basketball-themed cake…

    …and it continued on to the back of the cake

    The good news is that a lot of the items that you will want to include can be hidden within the layers of the cake (onesies rolled up just like the diapers; fork/spoon sets  pressed into the center of a diaper and hidden with a nice pair of scratch mittens; the top of a bottle covered in a cute skull-cap, stuffed animal, or bath mitten, etc.).   When it comes to decorating, less is more; just remember to add a tag listing all of your ingredients so the recipient knows everything that is included!

  • plenty of hidden treasures, but in a subtle way

I hope these little tips and pictures will come in handy and I hope you are inspired to make your own fun baby creation.  It seems to always be baby season these days, no matter who you are, so it’s fun to mix things up for each shower you are invited to attend!  If I can help with any specific questions that I haven’t answered here, feel free to ask!

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Birthday Treats – Linking Up

What’s your favorite birthday party treat?

I’m so excited about this special post because I was invited to “link up” with my friends, Tami and Lauren, the creators of Side By Side Design, who are celebrating their 1-year blogging “birthday” this week!  The theme for the link-up is “favorite birthday party treats” so here’s a few ideas based on my favorite party treat: LOLLIPOPS!

FUN!

Since I attend/plan mostly kid parties and baby showers at this point in my life, the choice of lollipops should be no surprise.  But, I have noticed that even the adults that attend these shindigs seem to really enjoy the lollipops so I’m going with the idea that they are a universal treat.

My goal when I use the lollipops at parties is to incorporate them in a fun way, fitting of the theme of the party.  For example, at my daughter’s recent Alice In Wonderland Party, we made a lollipop mushroom (for the “who are you?” caterpillar/butterfly themed table) out of styrofoam and dumdums.  We used it as a centerpiece for one of the tables and for a party favor for the kids to add to their stash as the party ended – a win, win because Lord knows I didn’t want to bring 100 dumdums back home with me for my kids to fight over!

lollipop mushroom – you could tell the shape better in person, but you get the idea

As I said earlier, I have planned and have been asked to help with the planning of numerous baby showers over the last few years.  As a mom of three, with ages ranging from 1-6, I know what new moms need and don’t need, based purely on trial and error experience, so I like to go the practical route.

I started by making trusty old diaper cakes in an attempt to make practical baby gifts more exciting, but after a while, the diaper cake ran its course so I tried to get a little more creative with my gifts by making sandwiches, sushi, cupcakes, and, you guessed it, LOLLIPOPS, all out of baby supplies!  They’re fun gifts and very useful once unwrapped.

sadly, I’m not a great photographer, but here’s a glimpse at some of my early washcloth lollipops

Usually these types of crafts are reserved for the baby shower or a hospital gift once the baby is born, but a few years ago, a long-distance friend of mine was hosting a “Splish-Splash” (bath/pool) themed 1st birthday party for her son.  Since the majority of children attending were young babies, WAY too little to enjoy a real lollipop, she asked me to make the washcloth lollipops to display on the tables.  When the party was over, each child got to pick a washcloth “lollipop” and a rubber duck filled with child-friendly bubble bath, which he/she could then use at home!

**SIDENOTE, I also made a diaper/swim diaper cake with the duck theme as a present for the birthday boy (which she also displayed) and she said it REALLY came in handy as several of the babies soiled themselves immediately upon arriving at the party so she had plenty of backups and thus no pool contamination! :)**

who knew she would need the contents of this “cake” before the party even got started?!

Anyhow, the point to my ramblings about cute baby parties and practical necessities is that the lollipops (or cakes, sandwiches, sushi, etc.) don’t always have to be edible to be a treat and a way to incorporate fun into a party!  You can even make faux lollipops for adults as a housewarming gift or bridal shower gift by using dish towels and mixing spoons.  So much more fun than just wrapping them up!

Here are a few other easy lollipop ideas that I like for the future:

Another example of a fun, non-edible lollipop idea for a candy-land themed party!

alien spaceship lollipops, perhaps for my son’s upcoming space-themed party?

homemade flower bouquet with lollipop centers, perhaps for valentines?

There are so many ideas out there and these are just a few.  I hope you are inspired or at least amused and I hope you will check out the other ideas submitted to the Side By Side Design blog on their feature Friday!  I am all always interested to hear about exciting party planning ideas from others so please feel free to share your favorite treat ideas with me, too!

Special thanks to Tami and Lauren for inviting me to be a part of their link-up!

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