Sunday, July 2, 2017

DIY Dry Erase Table [educational: shapes, letters, numbers & story telling]

Confession time:  I am *obsessed* with dry erase products.  I have a several foot wide dry erase board in my craft room (which I used daily in college), I've purchased 5 dry erase learning to write books for my son, I've created dry erase reminder boards and dry erase party decor.  I would love to paint a portion of my wall dry erase to use as a large calendar but I'm still getting the details worked out in my head.  It goes without saying that I love this stuff.

[Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.  I have received free product from Rustoleum upon my request in exchange for a DIY and honest review of the product.  All opinions are my own and are entirely my personal experience with the product. I do not endorse any product that I do not personally use and believe in. )

Why do I love it?
For starters, it's much better for you than chalk.  Whether you have respiratory problems (like asthma) or not- it's never fun breathing in all that chalk dust.  Yuck.  It's also cleaner.  Chalk boards always have leftover residue after being wiped down, the eraser gets dusty and the chalk itself is a mess - especially when you accidentally step on it. Yes, there are chalk markers but I haven't found one that I like yet.  Dry erase boards are clean, give a much crisper appearance and since they use markers, there is no accidental mess (unless your kid takes the lid off!)  Plus, coloring with all the bright colors of dry erase markers is just fun.   It's like those adult coloring books but re-usable!

That's why I am SO EXCITED to share today's craft project with you.  I've been meaning to get this done for a very long time and life kept getting in the way.  Now that it's done I wish I wouldn't have waited so long.  It's everything I imagined and more and my son is absolutely crazy about it.

Here's what you'll need:
- children's table & chairs (we got ours from a yard sale!)
- colored paint (for the non-dry erase parts)
- white paint
Rustoleum CLEAR dry erase paint
- basic sanding and painting tools
- vinyl, transfer tape and a cutting machine (Silhouette) or stencils

Let's get started:
First clean off your table and chairs and prep them for paint as needed.  If you are using a dark color of paint, don't worry about small marks because they will get covered.  Our table and chairs had some pen marks from the previous owners:

Now paint, paint, paint!  You'll want to cover all surfaces in your colored paint- even the top which appears white when finished.  This is because your "stenciled" area shows through and you'll want it to match the rest of the set.

If your little one is interested- get him or her in on the action!  Paint can always wash off (well... maybe wear old clothes...) and they will have a blast being involved with this project.

{He is proudly showing off the paint on his hands to both me and his mamaw}

Let dry and repeat with as many coats as you feel necessary.  We only painted one coat and it looks great but we also used a pretty dark color.

Sand and Stencil!
After your paint is all dried, lightly sand the top of the table to prep it for the next layer of paint.  Be careful not to take off the colored paint that you just applied!  This just gives it a little more texture to help the paint stick better since it's going on top of other paint.

{Such a good little helper}

Creating the stencil is the hardest part (and it's not so bad!)  Decide what you want your design to be.  I chose to have the letters of the alphabet plus numbers 0-9 going around the edge of the table with shapes scattered around the middle.  In Silhouette Studio I created a circle shape with my letters and numbers evenly spaced (trial and error) and then expanded the size until the bottoms of the letters fit just around the outside of the table (measure your table).

Next, duplicate your circle multiple times and rotate it so that you can get every letter/number on the cutting mat.  If this is easier to do cutting one row at a time that's fine- this just saves you some vinyl and time!  YOU MUST make it a circle first or else your letters will not curve around the table correctly.

After everything is cut, weed out your vinyl pieces.

Before attaching the vinyl, lay out your pieces where you would like them to be.  This will save you from any surprises at the end (like finding out that you don't have enough room for X,Y, and Z!)

If everything looks good, use transfer tape to put the vinyl onto your table.

Continue all around your table until all pieces are on.  Go back through and press down the vinyl as tightly as you can so that your next layer of paint doesn't bleed.

Next up: White Paint!
Once all your vinyl is attached (don't leave any transfer paper on!) get your white paint ready.  Paint over the entire top of the table (including vinyl).  For a little extra "something" tape off the legs of the table and chairs and dip them into the paint for a bit of contrast color.  I also chose to paint the back of their chairs white (and later, dry erase) so that the kids could write their names on the them.

Dipping the legs gives a sharper, cleaner look and takes much less effort than painting!

It took a few coats of white paint to cover the grey.  Use your judgement to decide what works best with your chosen color.  Once the paint is dry enough that it wont bleed, carefully pull up your pieces of vinyl.  I suggest using a pin or needle if you can't get a hold of the small pieces without scratching the paint.  I would try this before the paint is entirely dried though to also reduce the risk of it pulling off more than the stencil.  

Here's what it looks like after all the vinyl is removed:

Dry-Erase Paint:
Now is the part that makes this table extra special.  Grab your Rustoleum dry erase paint (make sure you bought CLEAR.  If you bought white it will cover all the stenciling you just did).  Read the instructions and follow carefully.  It's simple but you don't want to waste time once it is mixed.

I love that they made the can for Part B large enough to mix both parts together without getting another container.  It made this job much easier and cleaner!  When your white paint is entirely dried, simply pour, mix and roll the dry erase paint over the top of your table and on the chair backs.

I was worried about working with a 2-Part paint but it was so easy! Literally pour, mix and roll.  I also didn't come close to using all of it (and it sets up in 90 minutes so if you don't use it you lose it).  Next time I work with this product I am going to have several projects lined up so that I get the most use out of it.

Note: DO listen when they say that you can paint again after 60 minutes and no more than 90.  I tried to paint another layer in just over 90 minutes and the mixture was no longer smooth and creamy but thicker and tacky.  One layer works great on the table but I wish I would have paid better attention and done an extra one for good measure.  

Although it is clear, you will be able to see a shiny texture on the top of your painted surface.

Final Step: Enjoy!
Per the instructions, allow 3 days before marking on the dry-erase paint.  It's hard to be patient but do it!  I didn't even move the table into the playroom until day 4 just to be safe.  The verdict: WE LOVE IT. 

Here's a breakdown of the types of designs I included on the table and how it targets different areas of learning:

1. Letters
2. Numbers
3. Shapes for tracing & expanding upon
4. Shapes & Free space for storytelling and making connections

I included both uppercase and lowercase letters so that my kids could practice tracing their letters.  This also lends itself to learning sounds (see point #4)

Similarly to #1, children can practice tracing their numbers and counting in order.

Shapes for Tracing and Expanding Upon
Include a variety of shapes (some basic some more fun like flowers and clouds) so that your child can learn by tracing.  They also can use their imagination to create different objects from the shapes.  For example: A triangle could be an ice-cream cone, a piece of pizza or a tee-pee.  A circle can be a baseball or part of a snowman. etc.  The possibilities are endless and I love that. I want my children to see something and think "what can I do with this today"?

{okay, I actually drew the robot but he was giving me instructions! This table is fun for moms too!}

Storytelling and Making Connections
Similarly to #3, encourage your child to use the shapes to build a story. For example: I started drawing raindrops coming from the cloud.  My son told me to put an umbrella, then created a story about the man under the umbrella.  As he spoke, I drew along.  They can draw along too.

There is also plenty of free space for children to draw whatever they want.  Use this to help them make connections.  My son wanted me to draw a ladder as I was doodling.  After drawing it we talked about the letter "L" and the sound it made.  Then I had him find the letter "L".  After doing so, I drew a circle around it and connected the two.  This creates a visual and gets him involved in the learning process.

He has fun and I like watching him use his imagination and learn more about his letters.  It's a win-win.

Here's what the table and chairs look like from afar.  You can also see how I painted the backs of the chairs with the white paint and dry erase paint.

One final note: For long life of your table and chairs, try to erase the drawings at the end of the session.  I have found that it comes off easily with a paper towel or tissue but if left on for longer does leave a faint line.  I have also found that red/pink/purple leaves marks more than black.  I have not used a dry-erase cleaner on it yet. Only a dry paper towel.

That's it!
Thanks for sticking with me. I love tutorial posts but I wanted to be thorough which means long (aaaand I'm probably a little chatter box too).  I can't wait to see your finished projects so please share them with me on our facebook page

Happy Imagining and as always,

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Hello my Friends

For those visiting the blog for the first time (or for those of you wondering where in the world I have been) here's the answer in 3 photos:

1. One very active and busy toddler.
2. One sweet little 4 month old.
3. One exciting and growing small business.

At least once a week (sometimes more) I long to blog.  It's that relaxing and rewarding thing that keeps me feeling like myself (that and scrapbooking!)  Some moms have to find time to exercise by themselves, some need time with adult friends... I just want to blog.  But blogging takes time.  It takes time to get craft supplies, come up with ideas, actually make the craft, edit photos and write a post.  And honestly- right now I just don't have that time.  So for the time being I've found other ways to try and relax that don't take up so much time. 

I also don't want to put blogging (which I make almost no income from) ahead of our business which I am working hard to grow.  I am passionate about both so the one that helps better the lives of my children is taking precedent.  And obviously it isn't coming before time with my children.

But I do miss you my friends.  I miss sharing my crafty adventures with you and hearing from you.  So... here's a peek into what's going on in our business right now.  It's not a DIY tutorial or some clever decorating idea but it is a peek into my life and for those of you who care- I still want to hear from you.  Feel free to tell me what you love (what you hate) and what you'd like to see.  Feel free to share any parenting tips for mom-ing with two or share your favorite summer fun ideas for kids.  I promise... I'm coming back to blogging but until then- let's stay friends.

So here's what we've been working on recently:

First up- Barefoot sandals and matching headbands.

We LOVE barefoot sandals because taking shoes on and off a non-walking infant every diaper change is ridiculous.  Plus... they are just totally cute.  See them in our Etsy shop.

Next up- Bows, Bows, Bows.

 Get them here

We sell sets of 3 coordinating bows that will match a variety of outfits and styles.  Every bow is on a nylon headband which fits size newborn-adult (really!)

We also have a felt flower collection as well...

get them here

We're super into these now that we have a little girl to dress up.  She seems to like it though...

I love all the textures in our bow collections and we think you will too (here's a good time to let me know your opinions!)

And last but not least:  Mommy & Me shirts!

All designs are available in black or white shirts (and you can get more than one toddler/kids shirt if you want).  #funnycauseitstrue am I right?  You can see the deets on them in our etsy shop as well.

If you don't already follow us on facebook or Instagram, you really should.  I share all sorts of adorable pictures of the kids and who doesn't love cute kiddos?

Seriously though.

Anyways, sorry for no crafty stuff today but I'd still love to hear from you.  Whether it's input about our products or advice on the parenting part of my life- I want to hear from you.  Here on the blog, via facebook or Instagram- let's chat!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Fun, New & Easy Baby Shower Activities that Both Mom & Guests Will Love!

Spring is here and that means the flowers are budding, baby animals are being born and yes- baby showers.  Uh... that's human baby showers.  I've been a part of many of these over the last few years (3 of my own) and we are having one for my best friend this summer.  For those of you planning one as well, I've created a list of activities for you to incorporate into your next shower.

Here's the thing.  They aren't lame.  No standard, boring, play-at-every-shower-even-though-no one-likes-it games.  Nope.  None of that nonsense here.

Instead, these are "crafty" activities (that can be done by even the least crafty of people) that are both fun for the guests and provide the mom-to-be and baby with treasured keepsakes.

I wrote this post as a guest blogger for Angelcare, so head over to their blog The Peaceful Parent to read all about the ideas and how to execute them in your next baby shower! (Psst... I'm only showing 2 of the 4 ideas in the picture below.  You have to read the post to find out the others. And trust me... you want to!)

Monday, April 3, 2017

DIY Mermaid Tail Craft Kit!

As I scrolled through the million zillion photos on my phone I stumbled across a few that I took at Christmas that I want to share with you.  Let me make one quick disclaimer though- these were taken very late into the evening and it's not my best photography work.  My "model" (my son) was asleep and I really just wanted to get everything wrapped and ready for Christmas.  Looking back I still can't believe I laid everything on yellow tissue paper when taking a photo in our very yellow lighted room.

Oh well- I'm sharing the idea with you, not the pictures.  Check out my older posts for better photos!

Here's the backstory: I have twin 5 year old nieces who are into mermaids, fairies and crafty stuff.  I had planned on buying them some of those mermaid tail blankets but being the crazy crafting lady that I am- I decided to let them get crafty too!  So I took a trip to the fabric store, bought some fabric and craft accessories and got to work:

You will need:
-solid fleece large enough to cover both legs and up the waist a little.  (Remember it needs to wrap around you)
-printed fleece for the fins.  Again, remember that it is double sided.

-batting for inside the fins.  Batting can get super expensive so just go with the cheapest kind you can find in the thickness you want.
-crafting accessories like pom pom balls, sequin, buttons, fabric paint or other remnants of fabric.
-thread to match your fabric.

[Part 1- Making the blanket]

Sorry I don't have a pattern for you but it's so easy you don't need one.  Take a solid piece of fleece and fold it in half.  Slide your legs inside of it and using pins or tape make an "outline" around your legs.  This will not only get it the size you need but it also helps create that fitted mermaid tail shape.  Next, cut it out.

For the fins, simply mark off the shape you want with tape or pins and cut.

Note:  Don't forget to add a few inches outside of your lines when cutting it out to account for seams and so the blanket isn't too fitted. 
*For a tutorial on how to do the whole project, check out Cut Now, Measure Later.  This is the basic idea I followed when making mine.

[Part 2- Making the craft kit]

Here's the part I really wanted to share with you.  Instead of just gifting the blankets (which are adorable by themselves) let them use their imagination to create their own custom mermaid tail!  When you wrap up the blankets, include things like pom pom balls, fabric paint and spare fabric for them to cut out their own shapes.

I went ahead and cut out some common shapes from fleece as well...

If you want to include glue in the kit, that's good too.  I figured the family already had some so I did not.  E6000 is an amazing super glue but hot glue would work well also.  I have not had great luck in the past with fabric glue on fleece.

[That's it!]
I love that this isn't just a great gift but also an activity for your kids to work on!  Plus- if they have extra materials they can craft again with it later.  Who else has a little mermaid-lover in their life?

Sunday, March 5, 2017

MAM Anti-Colic bottles {review}

If you follow us on facebook (if you don't, you really should) then you may have seen my announcement about how Target stores are now carrying the Anti-Colic bottles by MAM.  I really wanted to go into why I recommend these bottles so that you didn't just see the announcement and move on. So... from one mama to another- here's the low down on these bottles:

{Disclosure:  I have received free product from MAM for the purpose of this review.  However, all opinions are my own and I actually owned the vented base MAM  bottle prior to this review so I really do use and trust them!}

A little background on myself:
I have two kiddos- a son who is nearly 2.5 and a daughter that just turned a month old.  I am a very-pro-breastfeeding mama who is very careful about not doing anything that might jeopardize being able to breastfeed.  With my son I took 3 months FMLA after he was born and then went back to work for a few months before leaving again to become a stay at home mom.  During my time back at work I would pump and my mom (who watched him) would give him bottles.  We only used MAM bottles.   For the remainder of his bottle-using time, whenever someone else would watch him, he would drink from our MAM vented-base bottles.

Now that my daughter is a month old, I feel comfortable taking a few hours away to go on a "date" alone with my son.  Of course, we wanted to make sure that she would take a bottle before I left so we gave her the MAM anti-colic bottle a try and she took right off!

{Here's a good look at the front design of the bottles.  These new ones have 2 sides- one design and one to measure!}

Why MAM?
Mam was the first pacifier my son took and in turn the only pacifier he would take so I figured he would like the bottles as well.  MAM is also known for using it's patented silk nipple on it's bottles and pacifiers which 94% of babies accept and makes transitioning from breast to bottle easy because of the feel and "flat" shape. (Which, like I said was a BIG deal for me)

MAM bottles are also super easy to use.  They easily twist apart into 6 pieces which can be washed in the dishwasher, boiling water or by using MAM's 3 step self-sterilizing instructions. (psst.. the pacifiers also self sterilize in their container)

{So easy to use my toddler could help feed his baby sister.  And boy, was he SO proud to do so!}

Why use anti-colic?
Neither of my babies had trouble with colic.  They did however both have trouble with taking in too much air when they drank.  My son is a gulper- whether on the breast, bottle or even sippy cup- and my daughter although she doesn't mean to gulp has trouble keeping up with an active letdown while nursing.  Over time I have found positions and tricks that help with this but because my babies were used to drinking this way from the breast, I wanted to find a bottle that would lessen this problem if possible.  *Enter MAM anti-colic bottles*

MAM Anti-Colic bottles are made with a vented-base.  This means that the bottom of the bottle has holes that help regulate pressure which prevents air from getting gulped down into babe's tummy when s/he drinks.

(Above) How the vented base looks with the rubber part in.
(Below) How the vented base looks underneath the rubber.

These awesome bottles come in both 5 oz and 9 oz sizes (we have both and like them each for different uses) and a variety of colors/designs.  The gold bunnies and blue foxes are my favorites!

Like I said, these are the only bottles I have used with my children for the last 2.5 years and I personally recommend them to anyone.  I would like to say something that I don't love about them to balance out this review but honestly I love everything about them.  We are a huge MAM family and as an active breastfeeding proponent, I love MAM products.  Of course, you don't have to be a  breastfeeding mama to love these bottles (or a mom of a baby with colic) that's just a few of the reasons why I personally advocate for these.

...and hello, they are available at Target now!  I need to go back there anyways to shop for that summer swimsuit! (come on, warm weather!)  Okay... and we all know I'll probably come out of the store with a few additional items- darn you dollar bins! #dontjudgeme