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My girl had a birthday and to celebrate we went to a local nature center with a bunch of her friends.  It was a wonderful time and in the interest of keeping with the nature/eco-friendly theme, we made all of the party favors and decorations.

For the favors, I had a swatch book from Paper Source and decided to use it to make little tiny sketch books for our nature walk.  To do this,  I used a paper-cutter to take off the top inch (approximately), which left me with a rectangle of the nice card stock.  I cut regular printer paper slightly smaller than the card stock and put three pieces with each “cover”.  I folded the layers of paper in half and stitched with an old needle down the center.  To make the little books a bit more exciting, I carved a stamp and we used a shiny silver ink.  (We used the stamp on thank you notes as well.)

Birthday Party Favors

For the garland, I had hoped to sew the scraps together from the swatch book, but for some reason my sewing machine didn’t think that was a good idea.  Everything kept getting tangled up so we laid all of the scraps out on the table and glued them to a piece of yarn instead.  This actually worked out better — Eleanor was able to help me put dots of glue on the paper, which she thoroughly enjoyed.  The result was sort of whimsical and lovely, definitely very colorful.

Birthday Garland - Failed Attempt

Birthday Garland

Birthday Garland

I should have taken some pictures of the garland hanging at the party, but you will just have to imagine it.  Instead I will leave you with a picture of the cupcakes — I used a chocolate whipped cream (2/3 cup chocolate chips + 1 quart heavy cream, melted together in a saucepan, then refrigerated, then whipped like regular whipping cream) for the frosting, delicious.  And, yes, those are Skittles in the shape of smiley faces, as per the request of the birthday girl.

Cupcakes

I don’t know how it happened, but somehow we all became addicted to stamps and stamping around this house. I have always wanted to try stamp carving and I think after seeing tutorials like this here, and stamps like these for sale here, and more recently an inspiring collection of handmade stamps here, it just sort of happened. I bought a Speedball Lino Cutter Assortment — a really cool carving tool with different carving attachments that can be stored in the handle — and some of the plastic stuff to carve (I really have no idea what it is exactly). And, I must say that it is such fun. It is quick to carve small stamps (for the instant gratification fix) and always fun to see how it comes out when you press the stamp to the ink pad pad and then to the paper. The next step in the process is to try letterboxing, a fun adventure in treasure hunting I learned about from my friends Brad and Tia.  So, anyway, here are a few from the growing collection in our home…

Three banded armadillo carved for my own little armadillo.  (I used this picture here as inspiration, also check out the other picture of the armadillo uncurling — it is amazing, I just didn’t think it would make a good stamp.):
Stamps

A little tree, because nature always makes the most beautiful patterns:
Stamps

And, finally, a print from a stamp carved from a drawing Eleanor made. I just carved where she made lines. She thought it was fabulous.
Stamps

They were not actually belated in the making, just in the blogging.  For Eleanor’s classmates, we did some simple gluing of hearts and some stamping.  We have been really into stamping around here lately (more on that later), and since Eleanor cannot write her name yet, the easiest way to sign her cards was to stamp the letters on.  She did get weary of doing it (turns out “Eleanor” is a pretty long name for a three year old) but we broke the stamping up into several days and I helped her a bit.  We attached the hearts to these adorable little pots with seeds that I found at Target in the dollar bin.  I do hope they grow — the one we kept hasn’t done much yet.

Valentines

Another Valentine’s Day project we did was for Vince.  Eleanor and I took inspiration from Jean over at The Artful Parent and did stained glass with waxed paper and grated crayons.  This is something I have done before but the clever part was cutting the melted waxed paper into hearts and hanging them up.  We hung them in the front window so Daddy could see them when he came home from work.  I think it was a bit dark on Valentines evening but they are still hanging, so we get to enjoy them as the days grow longer.  (Actually, they are down now.) I had no idea how to photograph them with the bright light outside, so sorry about the crappy pictures. I really should take a digital photography class.

Valentines

Valentines

Holy cow.  I started this post on February 25!  What is my problem?!  Anyway, maybe one of these days I will get back in the swing of things.  Ideally, I would post at least one thing per week. Maybe that can be my St. Patrick’s Day resolution.

In a valiant attempt to become more organized, I recently started a delicious account (if that is what you call it) and so far, it is fun and also rather useful.  The basic concept is: you bookmark and tag sites that interest you, which makes finding things easier.  I am sure there is more to it, but that is how I am using it right now.  A post on Simple Mom about meal planning gave me the push I needed to start my list.  Needless to say, I have started gathering recipes but I have also been gathering little projects and tutorials that I have seen around and want to do.  So here are a few things on my To Do List:

Fabric Dollhouse at UK lass in US.  This is number one on my list right now.  I just have to get to the craft store and get some of that plastic mesh stuff.  I hope I am able to pull it off, the dollhouse and barn that she made are just fantastic.  I’m thinking it would be the perfect car toy for a long trip, which we actually have coming up!

I Spy Mini Quilts at Makes and Takes.  These look like fun and I think they would make super baby gifts.

Block Prints from this great tutorial at Lizzy House.  I am not entirely sure why I cannot seem to stick to one kind of art form or craft, but alas, I desperately want to try this.

Sally the Eco Angel at Knitty.  I really have not had any success with knitting but this cute Sally really makes me want to give it one more shot.  I mean, come on, she is wearing bloomers and a dress with wings!  I have had this page bookmarked, and now delicious-ed (?), for a long, LONG time but I am not sure that it will ever make it off my to do list.  Anyway, if I post it here it might pressure me in to giving it a shot.  Or not.  We will see.

I have been on a total book and blog binge lately.  There are so many amazing people out there writing about what they enjoy doing, it is kind of addictive.  I already mentioned the books by Amy Karol and Amanada Soule (here and here), and both of those ladies also have blogs (here and here respectively), which makes for additional interesting reading almost daily.  And, they both have children so it is nice to see what they are doing for and with their kids. 

So, the book of the day is Lotta Jansdotter’s Lotta Prints (she has a blog too, not one that I have explored though).  I want to try every project in here but I started with something relatively easy and light on specialized materials: printing leaves onto fabric.  I plucked a few ferns from our front yard and spread out all over the floor and washing machine with an old pillowcase to practice on.  I mixed two colors of paint, green and gold, to get the subtly sparkly green. It was SO much fun, I couldn’t stop and totally missed my bedtime.  The results were pretty darn good, though the photography  on wrinkly fabric isn’t so hot:

Leaf Print 

Then I was left with the conundrum, what to do with the prints?  Again, lots of ideas.  Here is how the first one turned out.  I would have liked to get a shot of it on, but my uncooperative model has not wanted to even try it on yet, no matter how cool I try and make it seem. 

Leaf Print

Leaf Print

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