A little Christmas tour...

Welcome to my little Christmas tour.  This year we don't have a ton of decorations up because we have a toddler.  Toddler=Broken ornaments and unwrapped presents.  So everything we put out is hard to break or too big to throw.  Our living room has our "traditional tree" that we went and cut down all by ourselves.  For the past few years we've done a Japanese themed tree since we lived there for 6 years.  All of the ornaments are hand made and took FOREVER.  The skirt is this one from Pottery barn.  

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Gingerbread houses for lazy people...

I don't know when we started our gingerbread house tradition.  The one that doesn't involve any actual gingerbread.  Probably right after we got married because I didn't know how to make gingerbread or regular bread for that matter.  Anyway super easy and super fun.  The best part about it is that you can buy all the stuff and then suddenly decide it's the perfect time for gingerbread houses.  No cooking or preparing before hand.

We do ours with graham crackers and store bought frosting-you could make homemade too!  Then just buy various kinds of candy, M&M's, licorice, candy canes, gum drops and decorate away.  We cover cardboard with tin foil for our base and take little sandwich bags, fill with frosting and then cut one corner off to use as your piping bag.

Fun, easy.  The kids weren't hungry when it was time for dinner after finishing their houses.  Weird.  We did have some actual gingerbread this year.  Store bought gingerbread cookies live in our houses!

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The Water4Christmas Etsy shop is OPEN starting today.  So go BUY SOMETHING!  The great thing is that you get to buy something adorable from Etsy AND you get to help build wells in Africa.  I was so excited when I first heard about this project because I love helping people and I love crafting.  100% of the profits from the Etsy shop go to give clean water solutions to villages in Liberia.

I made 5 minky baby blankets.  They are about 30"x30" and Ellie's favorite type of blanket.  They have soft minky dot on one side and beautiful designer fabric on the other.  

My husband also helped me make 4 beautiful wooden doll cradles with ADORABLE matching pillows and blankets.  We originally got the Doll cradle pattern from Etsy to make Ellie's christmas present but then got permission from the seller to make some cradles for charity.  The cradles turned out WAY cute.  I seriously want to keep them all.  

So get Shopping!  

Updated with links! 


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Satin fabric hair flowers...

So on my Thanksgiving vacation I learned how to make adorable satin hair flowers.  When I explained to the lady at the Utah fabric store what I was trying to make she acted like EVERYBODY but me knew how to make satin hair flowers already.  I feel crafty until I visit Utah and then I just feel incompetent.  It's like the craftiest place on earth.  Also VERY snowy, which made my kids super happy.  Especially our toddler who had never even seen snow!  On to the hair flowers.

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Salt dough ornaments...

Salt dough
2 cups flour
1 cup regular salt
1 cup water

Mix like you would sugar cookies in the mixer than roll out and cut into cute shapes with cookie cutters. Poke hole with a toothpick if you want to hang as ornament.  Bake at 220 degrees for about two hours.  Paint and glitter as desired.  Enjoy!

Salt dough crafts are one of my favorite crafts to do with my kids.  We do them all year round whenever the kids want something fast to paint but Christmas ornaments are my favorite!  The year we moved to Japan we had to make ALL our Christmas ornaments out of salt dough since I accidently put all our Christmas stuff in storage.  But the tree was still way cute.  I write the kids name and year on the back of the ornament.  We even have one from 1985 when my husband was 6!  They are cheap, cute
and fun!

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Quick princess costume for toddler

So I was a total slacker Mom when it came to Halloween costumes this year.  I didn't spend hours sewing and hot gluing instead I made the boys all dig through our giant box of boy costumes.  But that left E without a costume since she didn't have any desire to be a cowboy or Star wars character.  So I whipped up a little princess costume.  So easy.  Quick too.  I've learned my lesson in the past after spending hours making adorable toddler costumes and then ending up with a toddler screaming on the floor refusing to be a puppy.  Don't invest too much time in 2 year olds costumes!

I used my own Tutu Tutorial but used elastic instead of ribbon and then made a pretty princess hat with this tutorial from Skip to my Lou.  I made the hat a little bigger than she did because I wanted it to fit over her head.  I didn't worry about making the hat perfect either especially since I wasn't sure E would even wear it but the glitter on the crown won her over.  I also made the entire ensemble to match her rain boots that she LOVES and wears everywhere.  Success.  Now we just need to teach her to say "Trick or treat".  
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Mom cave tour...

Before.  Someone might have a craft and container problem.  Me?  

After.  Borrowed those curtains from the kitchen.  Need a longer desk for machines.  

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Playroom Chalkboard...

My kids LOVE a chalkboard.  Instant place to color!  I knew I wanted one in the playroom.  I also knew I wanted it big and CHEAP.  I like cheap.  So I went the DIY route.  Which at my house isn't really DIY.  It's more HYHDI (Have your husband do it).  But I painted and accessorized so I get credit too.

I think the whole chalkboard came to about $20 to $30 including the paint and liquid nails that we can still use on other projects.  We bought a sheet of hardboard (some people call it masonite) for about $10.  Then cut it down to 5'x3'.  Then bought regular molding for the sides that was about $15.  After cutting the hardboard I painted it with a few coats of chalkboard paint and then my husband miter cut the molding and used liquid nails to attach it the hardboard.  Some touch up paint and Wa-La.  Fun chalkboard.

Here is a great tutorial on how to cut molding if you want to DIY: Miter Cutting molding

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Cute pink play kitchen...

So for our toddler's birthday I really wanted a pink play kitchen for her. There was a really cute one at Pottery barn but it was like $800 for the whole set.  Cute inspiration kitchen.   Ouch.  Plus I knew I wanted a nice solid wood kitchen that we could keep forever and repaint whenever I get the whim.

So I found these plans:  Ana White kitchen plans.  And this gal who used the Ana White plans and added cute little curtains:  Crafty Chick kitchen with super cute curtains.  So those were our jumping off inspiration points and we changed a few things along the way to fit with the cute kitchen I had living in my head.  In total I think we spent about $200 including all the knobs, pulls, paint and curtain fabric and cute Ikea dishes/food.

It would be way easy to keep it closer to $100 if you just used cheaper wood.  The pink play kitchen is made entirely of pine with beadboard on the back.

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Pink Crib room tour...

Finally finished E's sweet toddler room.  So far she seems to love it and keeps pointing to all the pictures of her as a new baby and saying "Pretty baby".

E's chalkboard table.  Usually filled with lots of scribbles.  The table and chairs were already white.  I just added a couple of coats of black chalkboard paint on the tabletop and painted the chairs hot pink. 

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Airplane mobile...

Today I'm going to show you how I made the airplane mobile for the boys bedroom. It was way easy and they LOVE it.  

I just took two different sized embroidery hoops and spray painted the inside section from them.  The one that does not have the little screw thing in it.

Then I used a cute rainbow ribbon to hang it from the ceiling.  I weaved a bunch of fishing line between the hoops and through the middle of them to give something to hang the planes from.

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Easy Minky Receiving blanket tutorial...

My little girl LOVES minky fabric.  She has like 3 or 4 blankets made out of it and she insists on sleeping with them and dragging them all over the house.  They are kind of expensive to buy but SO easy to make.  For this blanket I used 1 yard of Michael Miller Kokeshi in pink and 1 yard of pink minky fabric.  The minky I bought came 60 inches wide so you could probably get 2 blankets out of a yard if you made them each 30x30.  I made my blanket 36x36 and used the extra minky for other projects.  Iron the printed fabric well before sewing.  It's not a good idea to iron the minky dot fabric because it will flatten the dots.

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Nursing cover tutorial...

Last year when I was pregnant with my daughter a friend pulled out one of these nursing cover type of things and then nursed her baby but could still see the baby.  She didn't even have to worry that the baby was going to suddenly rip the blanket off!  I thought it was a great idea especially when you live somewhere hot and sweltering like I do.  Then the baby won't be hot with a blanket on them and they are protected from the hot sun too.  I used this for a car seat cover sometimes too.  I decided to just figure out how to make my own since we don't have a store here in Japan that I can just pop in and buy one of these. 

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Little girls purse tutorial and Play Makeup...

Every girl needs a purse of her makeup!  So I saw this adorable tutorial for play makeup and thought it would make the perfect gift for a little girl.  But if you have makeup then you need a makeup pouch and of course you need a purse for the makeup pouch (my husband hates this kind of girl logic)

So I started by making the makeup.  Because when you are going to start making a little girls purse the most logical thing would be to mess with wet, smelly nail polish.  Right?  It was super easy.  I actually had to buy the containers since I did not have bunch laying around.  I got them at the 100 yen store which is like the Japanese dollar store.  But if the economy is bad it's like the Japanese $1.18 store because of the exchange rate.  Nice.

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Dresser Makeover

So our family is getting ready to move back to America this summer.  You know what that means?  It means that we have NO furniture for our four kids bedrooms.  When we moved here to Japan 6 years ago the government just gave us furniture to use instead of letting us bring any since it cost so much to ship it over here.  Which means that when we leave we have to give back everything and our poor kids will be sleeping on the floor and putting their clothes in laundry baskets.  Anyway since we have a few months I figured that I better start finding some furniture to redo for cheap instead of waiting until we move and add finding new dressers for kids onto the stress of getting a house and cars and moving.

I found this dresser set for my daughters bedroom a few weeks ago for cheap.  Plus it was all wood. Only problem is that it was icky.

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Tutu Tutorial...

I love tutus.  In fact I really wish that I could wear them to the grocery store with a tiara.  But I'm pretty sure people would gawk and stare.  At least more then they do already.

So this is what you will need. 1 roll of tulle.  I used a 100 yard roll of baby pink from papermart.com.  It's 6 inches wide.  Some ribbon (grosgrain because I find the satin too slippery) some scissors and something rectangle.

First start by measuring around the tutu recipients tummy.  I chose to do this while my recipient was distracted.

Then tie 2 knots.  One on each end where the ribbon meets.  You want to leave extra ribbon after the knots so you can tie the tutu onto the little girl when the tutu is finished.  I like to leave about 15 inches on each side.   It's better to have too much ribbon that you can cut off later then too little.

Then start rolling your tulle around your rectangle.  I chose this paper holder because it was about as long as I wanted the tutu.  Wrap around and around until you think you have enough tulle for your tutu. You can also find a more detailed tulle cutting tutorial here: Fast way to cut tulle

Then cut the tulle once.

Now tie your ribbon around the box.

I like my tutus super poofy.  I think that a girl can never have a poofy enough tutu.  So I take two pieces of the tulle and stack them on each other.  Then you fold the 2 pieces in half and push it underneath the ribbon so it looks like this.

Then take the bottom parts of the tulle and put it over the ribbon and through the little hole.

Then pull down until it's tight but not too tight.  You don't want to tear your tulle.

The very first piece I usually tie into a little knot so that it doesn't slide off over the knot in the ribbon.

Then repeat the same process but don't make a knot.  Now it should look like this.

Now repeat 800 or so times. Until your tutu looks like this!

So pretty!

Now tie the ends into a little bow.

Now go find your tutu recipient and show her the new fancy tutu she has.  Be jealous that you aren't
under the age of 6 and can get away with wearing a tutu and tiara to the grocery store.
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Fast, easy way to cut 6 inch tulle...

After 3 boys I finally had a girl last year.  One of the first things I decided to make her was a tutu.  Then I found out one of the ultimate tutu making truths.  As soon as one little girl has a tutu every little girl that you know is going to want one.  The tutu making is fast.  The tulle cutting was NOT.  I was measuring and cutting it each separately and it took FOREVER.  Then one day a lightbulb finally went off and I found something in my house to use as a template for cutting the tulle.

Now go walk around your house and find something rectangular that is the length plus about one inch as you want your tutu to be.

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