From Craft projects

Thoughts on Year Six and Tiny Turkey Art

I miss blogging.  More than that, I miss the “back in the old days” blogging when the email notifications about new comments on my latest post energized me and I could count on two hands the number of blogs I followed—and commented on—religiously.  Now that email notification in my inbox is most likely a spam comment and the number of blogs I can follow is endless.  Pair that with two kids under age four and a busier-than-ever job and, well, I’ve simply lost touch with current-day blogging.

I’ve been blogging since 2009—before business pages for Facebook, before smartphones, before Pinterest. (Gosh, I suddenly feel old.) So much has changed in blogging and I haven’t quite kept pace, which, for a competitive person like me, is hard to swallow. I’ve yet to reconcile the two bloggers in me.  On one hand, I want to blog like it’s 2009 with little regard for stats, pins or likes.  On the other hand, I want to be in the blogging game.  

While I’m still trying to figure out how blogging fits into my life today, I’ve decided the sixth annual Dare to DIY Challenge (sixth!) is the perfect reason to come out of hiding.  After all, it was Kim at NewlyWoodwards’s original Dare to DIY party in 2009 that drew me into the blogging community and created lasting friendships.  I’ve managed to participate in each of the first five years and I’m looking forward to more of the same this year.

And that, my friends, would explain why I was making tiny paper turkeys this weekend.

How about that segue?

Chris wanted to know why I was “making Origami.”  I told him that small paper fans didn’t exactly qualify as Origami, but I was folding paper so he kind of wins.

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Foxy Friend Valentine Dolls

I have to admit that when I first found a tutorial to make these adorable fox plush dolls, I wondered if it would be too weird if I made a bunch to just hang out in different spots in our house.  They’re just so cute and welcoming.

Unless you look a little too long at their doll eyes.  Then they’re just weird.  But I digress.

Instead of making them for myself, I decided to whip up a few foxy friends as Valentine’s Day presents for my two boy-o-boys.  That’s a good cover, right?  I’m making these for the kids.

By the way, I’m pretty sure that if you asked a fox what he really says these days, it wouldn’t be “hatee-hatee-hatee-ho!”**  Instead, he’d reply with a sigh and an eye roll by saying, “please, isn’t there another woodland animal that is, like, so on trend now?”  Yes, Mr. Fox, I’m sure there is.  But I live on the edge of the Earth in Maine where trends arrive a year late thankyouverymuch, so you’re here to stay.

**in case this blog post stands the test of time and in the year 2025 someone is wondering what this “hatee-hatee-ho” business is all about, just Google “what does the fox say video.”  If Google even exists then.

Using this well-written and photographed tutorial on A Beautiful Mess, I made these little lovies in less than two hours.  I decided to go with a circle belly patch, plus some hearts, making them a bit unique.  As for fabric, I opted for some soft red cotton and then comfy jersey material for the snout and hearts.  That pretty blue is actually a super soft corduroy. It was just a matter of cutting a few pieces and stitching them together.

I even embellished the back, just a bit.  The crooked zig-zag stiching adds some charm, don’t you think!?

Back to the creepy doll eyes for a quick sec.  These were easy to find at my local fabric store and were just over a dollar for three sets of eyes.  They have a snap/lock mechanism on the back, so you lock them on before you sew the front and back together.  Once it’s stuffed, you can’t even tell there are doll eye screws and bolts in there, and then it’s super safe for the littles.

To get the eyes nice and symmetrical, I folded the front piece of fabric in half and cut a small slit through the two layers so that everything lined up nicely.  A fox doll with crooked creepy doll eyes would be super weird.

While I’m talking about plush dolls for Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d show you the sweet little Valentine’s Day pillow that my mom made for me when I was une petite fille.

Sweet, right?  I’m not sure my boys will hold the same sentimental value in their little fox dolls, but who knows!  Even if they don’t keep them forever, I might…

Are you making any Valentine’s Day projects for yourself your kids or someone special?  And are you totally over the fox trend, or still hanging on like me?  Even if you’re not into the fox look, I’m betting this tutorial could be super versatile and could be adapted to make a dog, cat or other animal.  Hmmm…now I’m thinking the possibilities are endless…

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Handmade gift idea: Chicken Bean Bags

If you have some kids on your Christmas shopping list this year and you’d like to do something homemade, I have just the thing for you: Chicken Bean Bags.  Because every kid needs some toss-able chickens, right?

Well, even if these bean bags are not the most sought after gift, they sure are cute.  I made these a few weeks ago for my nephew’s third birthday and they are perfect to link up to the Dare to DIY Homemade Gift Challenge!

I gave my birds some super cute tail feathers because, well, why not?  Actually, you might recognize the trim from Ike’s robot costume, and the fabric is from leftover squares from Lincoln’s quilt.  I’m all about using up those scraps leftover from other projects!  Plus, I like the idea of non-traditional chicken colors—helps build the imagination, don’t you think? (I’m not a child development expert, though, so don’t take my word for it.)

These are super easy to make if you have beginner sewing skills.  You essentially cut and sew two squares together, inserting the beak and other chicken parts into the seam before sewing.  Then you fill the chicken with rice and a small amount of polyfil before closing up the last seam.

You can see a full tutorial here (the pictures are so good and the instructions are clear, so there was no need for me to repeat the tutorial here!)  My chickens look a bit more complex because my fabric squares were made of two triangles, since they were left over from a quilt project.  And I added the “tail feathers” to the back (which made for a very easy way to close the last seam).

I’m planning to whip up another set for Ike’s stocking since he seemed to like them.  What do you think?  Any kids on your list that could use some chickens?  Oh, and if you’re looking for homemade gift inspiration, head on over to visit Michelle at Decor and the Dog for lots of inspiration at the Dare to DIY Homemade Gift link party!

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Thanksgiving Pennant Banner

I don’t know about you, but I’m a big believer in holding off on Christmas until Thanksgiving is over, so while many bloggers are trimming their trees, I’m savoring fall for one more week.  Okay, six days, but who’s counting?

Thanksgiving isn’t one of those holidays that lends itself to decorating, but each year for the past four years I’ve been inspired to do a little something special thanks to the Dare to DIY blog party series started by Kim at NewlyWoodwards and now co-hosted by Michelle, Cassie and Rachel.  And since I had so much fun with my Halloween garland that I decided to do something similar on our hallway shelves for Thanksgiving by making a pennant banner out of burlap.

If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you’ll know that I use our hallway shelves as a mantle, changing up the styling for each season.  The pennant banner adds a little something, don’t you think?

The colors happen to coordinate with the turkey wall hanging I made last year which is just around the corner from these shelves on the pantry door (or the “dog food door” as Ike calls it.)

This was, perhaps, the easiest project I’ve done in a long time, taking a total of 30 minutes.

First I created a triangle pattern and cut out 12 burlap pieces (I had the burlap on hand from our fall porch decorating).  Then I trimmed the pattern and cut four pieces out of three coordinating fabrics.  I used pinking shears to give the fabric a finished look without any effort.

I didn’t bother attaching the fabric to the burlap, I simply used a zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine to connect the burlap, fabric and yarn.

Easy peasy Thanksgiving banner.

If you need some ideas for last minute Thanksgiving decorating, be sure to check out my projects from previous years like my give thanks jars, thanks wreath or turkey wall hanging.  Or, just head over to Primitive and Proper to see the other projects linked up to the Dare to DIY party this week!

And if you want to join in on the fun for the next few weeks, here is the Dare to DIY schedule.

Here’s to a crafty holiday season!

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Toddler Robot Costume

I know that Halloween is, like, so last week, but I’ve got a costume to share.  Allow me to introduce to you our little black robot.

I really, really meant to post this before Halloween…you know, when someone might have actually had time to be inspired and make their own version.  But I’ve had dozens of people contact me or pin Ike’s brown cow costume from last year, so I am quite certain this might be useful to someone in the future.

Speaking of inspiration, I had plenty of it when making this costume.  A few weeks ago I shared my inspiration for the robot look I was hoping to achieve.  Because Ike has a Halloween party at daycare during the day, I wanted a robot costume that was easy to transport, put on and wear for a few hours at a time.  This led to the idea of a “sweatshirt” type top with robot panels sewed and glued into place.

I truly made this up as I went along, so I’m sorry to say I don’t have a proper tutorial. But, I am confident that event the most moderately crafty person could figure this one out!

For the base, I used store-bought black fleece pants and a bright-colored striped thermal shirt.  I made the black pullover using heavy fleece fabric, but you could easily just use an existing sweatshirt (cutting off the arms, or leaving them.)

The silver material on this costume is something I happened upon at our local fabric store.  It’s the lining for potholders!  It was less than $5 for a piece large enough to make a front, back and hat panel.

I sewed the silver fabric on and lined it with ribbon and metallic Ric-Rac, but you could easily glue it on.

I made the hat using leftover fleece, but again, you could purchase one to achieve the same look.  I measured Ike’s head and cut the pieces to fit.  I used blue felt to sew the rectangles that were stuffed with random pillow stuffing before inserting them into the seams of the hat.  Then I folded up the unfinished edge and hid it with more metallic Ric-Rac.  I used a Sharpie to free-hand the robot’s smile and then added the googly eyes for good measure.

I got the idea to put “Ike Bot” on the costume after seeing a picture of my friend Kelley’s son.  She used reflective mailbox letters on her son’s robot costume when he was three.  I had wooden letters on hand, so I just used some metallic paint to shine them up.

In the end, Ike was pretty thrilled with his costume, but it was touch and go for a while.  Those who follow me on Instagram (@domesticadventure) and Facebook have seen their fair share of this costume in progress and heard the reports that Ike was more than reluctant to actually wear his beloved robot costume.  But, sure enough, he gained the courage to try the costume on just the day before his Halloween party.

Success!

And because it’s far too easy to make things looks pretty and simple on blogs, Instagram and Facebook, you should know that in exchange for making this costume, I fed my child PB&J for dinner and skipped cleaning our toilets for more days weeks than I care to admit.  I call it selective prioritizing.

Hope you had a happy Halloween!

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Jack-o-lantern wall hanging {and some thoughts on traditions}

I’m getting just a little serious here on the blog today.  This post started out in my head like most do: “I made something this weekend and I’m going to share it with you—not because it’s amazing or original, but because it means something to me and it might inspire you, or mean something to you, too.”  But then I thought a bit more about why I made what I made last weekend.

I made a jack-o-lantern wall hanging even though I’m not exactly a wall hanging kind of girl.  Don’t get me wrong, my home will never be super sophisticated and well decorated for each season like a Pottery Barn catalog.  But still, I don’t usually envision my home filled with decorations like the one I’m showing you today.

Despite all of this,  I really, really had my heart set on making this jack-o-lantern to add to my holiday-themed wall hangings (see the Christmas tree and Thanksgiving versions).  And I think I figured out why.

From my own childhood I remember a few key decorations that were displayed as the seasons and holidays changed, and few key traditions—activities that I could anticipate and experience to help mark the time and the change in season.  Carving pumpkins.  Making applesauce.  Baking Thanksgiving pies. Cutting a Christmas tree.  Coloring Easter eggs.  Raking leaves.  Sliding down the hill in our front yard.

As a parent I now acknowledge that we sometimes work so hard to create special experiences for our kids to remember that we forget that it’s the every day things they will remember most.  Amidst the chaos and craziness of our daily lives, I want Ike and Lincoln to see and experience small and subtle things that will create a sense of anticipation and comfort throughout the year.

I want this simple jack-o-lantern wall hanging to help teach the boys the concepts and vocabulary of fall and Halloween at age two.  I want it to go relatively unnoticed by my too-cool-for-school kids at age 10, knowing they would miss it if it wasn’t there.  I want my kids to give an exaggerated eye roll when I hang this during their college fall breaks, even though they will be secretly happy for this small reminder of home and their childhood.  And someday I want my kids to hang this in their own home, just because it is tradition.

I know this is a lot of pressure to put on one small jack-o-lantern pieced together during the span of one afternoon nap, and I recognize that this piece is more likely to end up at Goodwill or in a dusty attic than in the home of my grandchildren someday.  I get that.  But it stands for something simple.  Something free.  Something I made.  Something that can follow us wherever we go and can fit with whatever we have—no matter how much or how little we have.  Something that will evoke memories of fall in our house.

Life is unpredictable and sometimes scary.  Jack-o-lantern wall hangings that come out every October like clockwork are predictable and nice.  Traditions may never be trending on Twitter or pinned on Pinterest, but they never go out of style.

Here’s to new traditions, even if they come in the form of  jack-o-lantern wall hangings.

What traditions are you starting with your family this year?

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