Friday, February 26, 2010

Timeless Calendar

Don't be fooled by the calendar.  There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. ~Charles Richards
I used to buy calendars based on its aesthetics--cover and inside pages.  Now I purchase them for practical reasons. I kept most of my old calendars because I liked the design thinking it can be reused for another year.  I never did.
All the while, I didn't want to throw them out.  They're quality-made. So, here's one solution I came up with: Use it as a photo book. Why not?  It's so easy.  Potpourri of photos I've received from friends over the years, insignificant but memorable pieces of paper, ie. ticket stubs, fortune from the cookie, stickers, etc., filled the pages of this 2000 Made In China desktop calendar.  I have another one, Hecho En Mexico, somewhere.  Now if I can only find it. Here's a work in progress:
One of the reasons I chose this calendar was because of the vintage images and it's Chinese (my kids love looking at the old stuff--just so cool.)  This project is an instant memory-jogger.  The kids on this page alone are all grown-up now.  Youngest baby is now in high school.  Can you believe that?
To start off, I just picked random photos that used to be in our bulletin board.  There's no planning or designing needed for this so-simple project.  I just cropped the image to fit in each page and glued them in.  It's that easy.
Now, doesn't she fit in this page?
Totoro is one of our all-time favorite animation but I know my kids will grow out of it sooner or later.  And they sure did but when they see this toy tag, flashbacks are a-rollin'.  
I met these 2 families (below) when I went on a short-term mission in France in '87.  And guess what? we're still friends.  We kept in touch via letters before emails and the Facebook era.  Now we're all in FB!  So fun to see/hear how their families are growing.
I cover inappropriate images (if any) & show the ones worth keeping on the calendar side. (See me with my short, red hair below?  Pretty rad, huh =.)
There you have it--a homemade coffee table book.  You can be elaborate by adding ribbons, scrap paper, etc. to each page.  But my motto is, "Keep it simple and useful."
Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. ~Psalm 90:12

Thursday, February 18, 2010

BABY LOVE {one}: Initial Love

A baby is an angel whose wings decrease as his legs increase. ~Mark  Twain
One of my favorite things to do is chain stitching.  It's so easy and so portable.  I can bring this project anywhere.  I don't do it as much since I got into knitting (scarves--that's all I can do) but embroidery on baby onesies are even easier.  I've recently just pick it up again.

Here, I chain stitched the baby's initial.  Done in less than half an hour if you're not distracted. 

My 13 year-old artist drew me an owl that I resized and printed on iron-on transfer paper and it looked even sweeter on the shirt than on paper.  They make perfect gifts.  Later when they outgrow the shirts, you can cut the images and use them as appliqué for a bigger shirt.

Another set of baby onesies: J & Heart

This one is for a little baby boy named Valentino.  Because Valentine's Day was around the corner, I had a play of image with his name.  What do you think?
So, so simple and so fun.  So go and get some onesies (t-shirts or sweatshirt) and surprise a little or big kid.  Happy Stitchin'.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Pretty kNEAT...

Take your needle, my child, 
and work at your pattern;
It will come out a rose by and by.  
Life is like that - 
one stitch at a time taken patiently 
and the pattern will come out 
all right like the embroidery. 
~Oliver Wendell Holmes
My 11 yo made her own cool beanie,

A sweet little purse for a sweet little cousin, 
A nice warm scarf for a cute little girl (with a secret message knitted in it)
A dainty bracelet for another little friend,
And a wrap-around shawl for her favorite aunt.

  Her little cousin modeled it. (Auntie was not available to be photographed =.)
This past Christmas, she decided to make her own gifts rather than Mommy buying them for her and not knowing what she's giving.  "Next year, I'm starting in July," she exclaimed after realizing she couldn't do all the projects she excitedly wanted to make.
She thoroughly enjoyed making them but was so exhausted and was stressing out by Christmas Eve =.)  She learned a very important lesson that...
  She actually started making some gifts already today, Presidents' Day!  Never too early to start.

Friday, February 12, 2010

ORANGE you glad?

"If junk food is the devil, then a sweet orange is as scripture." ~Audrey Foris

Here's a super simple and healthy Valentine treat idea for my son's 3rd grade class.  This was literally a last minute project.

Went to Trader Joe's to buy a pack of tangerines.

I used left-over netting & ribbons from previous projects to wrap each fruit.  I have to keep telling the kids NOT to take any from the batch.  They're so yummy.

My son wrote a personal Valentine note--nothing mushy.  I suggested something like, "You're such a Cutie." 'NO way!" was his instant reply.  Made enough copies on recycled paper.

We wrapped a big orange for his teacher.

Tada! Done in one sitting. Ready to give away.  Simple & healthy.

"Orange you glad we're in the same class?" Vday 2010
You can use this idea for Chinese New Year, too.
Gung Hay Fat Choy • Year of the Tiger

Thursday, February 11, 2010

SOMETHING RED...

"Children will not remember you for the material things you provided but for the feeling that you cherished them." ~Richard L. Evans

Six years ago, we had a Red Party for my son's 2nd birthday. Everything was red.  From our invitation to our food: watermelon, lasagna, fruit punch. We had a lot of red items so it was easy to plan. For favors, we put together MY RED BOOK. I had my 2 older girls (then 7 & almost 5 years old) draw pictures of anything naturally red.  They did most of the work.  I just assembled them.

They had a great time brainstorming and drawing simple images that came in red.

Like a crab (when it's cook, of course.)

A Robin (ever heard of the book, The Round Robin?)

Photocopy on 8.5x11 white paper.  Believe it or not, I did not have any working computer at that time.  I overworked 2 iMacs but we had a copier that still works to this day. Cut in 1/4s, punch holes and assemble with brads.

Add any stickers that come in red (like these ladybugs)

You can use a red construction paper for front and back cover.

My girls handwrote about a dozen title pages.  I saved a couple of these books.  I think I only need one now.  So, I'm sending a copy to a new little friend of ours.

You can make these fun booklets in any color.  You can have a MY BLUE BOOK, MY GREEN BOOK, MY YELLOW BOOK, etc.  And it doesn't have to be hand drawn.  They can be photographs from magazines.  It's a great learning tool.  Inexpensive, interactive, interpersonal.  What else can you ask for?  Have fun creating with your little pumpkins.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

From Sweats to Something Useful

We live in a disposable society. It's easier to throw things out than to fix them. We even give it a name - we call it recycling. ~Neil LaBute

What do you do with torn sweatpants and old sweatshirts? Most of us use them as rags or just throw them out. Well, I have plenty to throw away if that's the case.

Instead of throwing them out , I made them into something useful and so easy to make potholders.  I tell you, it's faster than looming them.  I still have the kids' potholder looming kits.

First, cut off material to desired size from old sweatpants and/or shirts.  This was the girls' pants that Diego inherited that just didn't stand his activeness.
Then I sewed zigzag stitches all across 2 layers of sweat materials for thickness.  Choose any color of thread.  I was too lazy to change the thread to make it colorful.  I just want to get it done fast.
Then I took two of these loom materials from my kids' potholder kits.  You must have some somewhere, right?  If not, you can easily make one or go without them.
Quickly stitched them to the layered sweats.  They stay longer on the kitchen hooks.
No need to make things fancy...just stitch things together but neatly cut off any excess thread or frays.
Voila! A potholder in less than 15 minutes or so.  I made enough to last till the next wash.  So easy, fast, creative and no wasted materials. 
When you find some time and feeling creative, this could be one of your projects.  Of course, there's always some other things to do!  But if these potholders will make me a better cook, hey why not make more =.)  Happy cookin', y'all.