gifts for friends

rowan's no-sew felt quiet book

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Add a little bit of body text (1) I'm very picky about felt projects.  There are so many felt projects out there that look too crafty or not well thought out.  Not that I'm a felt snob but if I'm going to use felt for something I want the project to maintain high quality and craftsmanship.  This may be why this felt quiet book took so long to finish; I would start a page and a week later totally change it because it looked too cheesy.  (Do you creative people know where I'm coming from??)

I remember putting a lot of time and love into Annabelle and Ainsleigh's special personalized soft books when they were young.  They treasured them.  Rowan somehow missed out on getting one of those, still doesn't have a baby book filled out, nor has a first year photo album like his sister have.

It has been a really satisfying feeling putting the finishing touches on his felt quiet book, though, and having him on my lap this past Sunday playing with it for the first time.

I hope my felt page designs and tips give you the confidence to make your own no-sew felt quiet book.  Come and see...

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Why no-sew?

I wanted to put more emphasis into the details of each page of this felt book and not be constrained to the machine.  That is the advantage to working with felt: you can cut felt without needing to finish off edges.  I decided to do absolutely no sewing (except the binding) so the entire book would be consistent in terms of tension/stretch on each page of the book.  

Hot glue is the key for this whole project.

For the quiet book, all you need is different colors of felt (I used both craft + wool felt), sharp fabric scissors, metal snaps (for closure) , and hot glue gun + glue stick refills.

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 {The winter scene activity: 3 snowmen, rainy day gear, sneakers, small pieces for buttons + noses, hats, arms, and cold weather gear.  This activity page has the smallest pieces on it.}

 

Tip: To make your felt book project even easier, buy a precut package of craft felt sheets at any fabric or craft store.  These felt sheets (usually around 10" x 13" sheets) can be used as your book's pages--no need to cut felt pieces into pages.

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 {The summer scene activity: the beach scene!  All of the elements from our beach trips like seagulls, a crab, bucket with sand, shovel, sandcastles, puddle, little boy + his beach ball, and clouds.}

 

Tip: Glue down the basic backdrop of your felt play scenes onto your felt sheets.  This makes it easy for a child to build onto the scene with the moveable felt pieces and not have to remember what the scene is supposed to be.  In the beach scene, I hot glued the ocean, sand, sun, and birds.  Rowan simple adds to the scene with extra details in his play.

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{The create-a-face activity: there are multiple hair styles, eyes, glasses, noses, lips, a beard + mustache, crown, and bows.}

Tip: Play around with your felt pages in terms of vertical and horizontal layout.  I liked my face activity vertical so there was room enough for the beard, bow tie, and tall hair.

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{The favorite foods plate activity: fruits, vegetables, chicken leg, eggs + sausage, BACON, dark chocolate, gingerbread cookie, hot cocoa, ice water, and utensils.}

Tip: When making a narrow felt piece, hot glue a felt detail onto the piece to make it more sturdy and less flimsy, like my utensils.

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{The loadable dump truck activity:  add the truck's wheels and load the truck (which really is a pocket) with either rocks or shapes.}

Tip: Make your felt pages more realistic by adding depth.  You add depth by hot gluing another layer onto the base felt piece, like the outer piece with cut-out squares I added to the dump truck.

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{The birthday ice cream shop activity: load your bowl or cone with your favorite scoops of ice cream!  Don't forget the celebration balloons.}

Tip: Add glitter, ric rac, beads, and other decorations to create a 3D effect.  I added hot glue + glitter to some of the ice cream scoops to create the drizzled topping effect on the ice cream.

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 Where do I store all of the felt pieces?

After you've created each felt page and its pieces, cut out large felt pockets, one per activity page.  Hot glue the sides and bottom of each pocket onto the back of each activity page (excluding the last activity page--it won't need a pocket on its' back).

Fill each pocket with the coordinating pieces for the activity page that the pocket faces.  That means the first activity page's felt pieces will be stored in a pocket you secure to the inside of the book's cover.

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How do I bind + close the book?

You have two options for binding your book.  I chose the easiest which was using my sewing machine.  I know this is a no-sew book but if you can machine sew the binding it will be your quickest, easiest option.

Simple sew the pages together with a seam and then sandwich the pages into the cover and sew one more seam.

Handsewing option:

If you don't have a sewing machine, simply hand sew the binding to create a strong binding.  I do not recommend using hot glue for the binding.

Closure:

Add a few metal snaps to the cover flap for closing the book.  Follow the no-sew snap instructions which will require a hammer.  A few snaps will do the trick.

 

 

 

I hope you make a no-sew felt quiet book.  Make pages based on activities and themes that your child/grandchild loves.  Rowan's favorite pages are the dump truck and food pages, of course.

 

Which page was your favorite??

 

the sleepy time gal

imitation

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{Caroline's incredible felt doll + clothes closet board for a friend's birthday party this past weekend.  She imitated my concept of Rowan's felt book and created the coolest gift.  Doll (in underwear) on the front, liftable closet door for two dresses and 3 fillable drawers for tops, bottoms, and shoes.}

Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.  

Salvador Dali 

There has been a lot of imitation happening in our home.  This is a sign to me in my little world of mothering and family life that life/unschooling is good, young minds are creating/problem solving, and my kids' understanding of the world around them is expanding. Page 1

{My on-call hand-mixing girl, Annabelle.  After initially fearing the mixer, she now loves the process, the steady control she has to maintain, and conquering a skill some of her sisters refuse to try.}

When kids imitate something inspiring that they see, they are driven by the thrill of trying something new and the satisfaction of physically understanding their world in an intimate way.  Children are driven by imitation.  It drives so much learning and development.  It is the most natural process of learning for children and adults alike.

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And before you get tired of hearing about Rowan's quiet felt book,  I'm pretty excited to show you his book tomorrow.  I'll also include my tips for creating your own no-sew felt quiet book.

Happy Monday!

 

the sleepy time gal

meet little miss, her playable pillow + wardrobe

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Meet the happiest pillow on the block.

She's soft and huggable and quite fashionable.  Ainsleigh chose this adorable project for their young friend turning three.  I haven't made any dolls recently since Rowan's birthday doll last fall so was excited about familiar and unfamiliar steps that this project required.

The pattern is from one of my favorite sewing books [amazon_link id="1584798580" target="_blank" ]Wee Wonderfuls: 24 Dolls to Sew + Love.[/amazon_link]  I've made many dolls from this book for my kids, their cousins, and some of their friends over the years and the concept of a felt doll sewn onto a pillow (with a pocket to hold the doll's dress-up clothes) sounded like the cutest gift for a beloved little friend.

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It started with sewing a soft fleece pillow with the doll's felt body and hair sewn to the front of the pillow.  (The twins cut out the patterns and felt.)  I spent a quiet, early morning huddled around my space heater in the basement carefully embroidering the doll's face and split embroidering her hair.

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The best, most surprising part of the little pillow is the elastic pocket in the back.  I chose a vibrant, colorful fabric that would accentuate all of the colors in the doll's clothing.

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Once the pillow was sewn, it was time to meticulously trace and cut out all of the doll's outfits first on felt and then on fabric.  (That was more time consuming than I expected.  Isn't that how special projects always turn out??)

Here is Little Miss' raincoat, rain hat + boots.

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Party dresses, bobby socks, a linen top, cords, pajamas and variety of tops were simply edgestitched to the felt and embellished with ribbon, fabric marker, or applique.

My favorites are her pajamas + gathered pink party dress.  I'd like the dress in my size. Page 1

It was no surprise to me that after Little Miss' pillow + clothes were finished my Annabelle and Ainsleigh were not only over-the-top proud that they helped make it but were over-the-top excited giving it to their little friend at her birthday party.  I mean, over-the-top.  Including Rowan.

 

I've been going back and forth if I should commit to making two Little Miss pillows for A + A's upcoming spring birthday.  I can just see them spending hours up in their bedroom switching out outfits and adding the best dialogue to their pillow dolls.  It sounds so nice right now but I think I'm going to take a break from meticulous cutting/sewing for a bit. ;)

 

the sleepy time gal

the homemade 5 minute journal

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IMG_0643 I recently received a request from one of my blog readers for a meaningful birthday gift idea for her friends turning 30 this year.  The one gift that stood out to me to share was the one very simple but empowering gift we gave to friends and family for Christmas: a homemade 5 Minute Journal.

You may have heard of the original journal. The Five-Minute Journal is a beautifully bound book with simple morning and evening prompts that encourage deeper introspection, gratitude, hope, confidence, and analysis of your day.  And of course, it just takes a few minutes of your morning (three morning prompts to answer) and evening (two prompts) to fill in each day.

Although I highly recommend buying the journal for yourself, Bobby and I actually made our own homemade copies and have used them for some time.  We had created our own pages, Bobby designed the cover, and I sewed them (15 pages each) into books initially just for the two of us and Caroline.

When it came time over the holidays to brainstorm meaningful gift ideas for our parents, siblings, and friends, our homemade 5 minute journals (based on the bound original version) seemed more significant and lasting than anything money could buy.

 

This is what's inside our 5 Minute Journal:

For the morning portion of the page:

  • The day's date

 

  • I am grateful for...

1.

2.

3.

  • What would make today great?

1.

2.

3.

  • Daily affirmations.  I am... (list positive affirmations, self talk, etc.)

 

For the evening portion of the page:

  • 3 amazing things that happened today... 

1.

2.

3.

  • How could I have made today better?

 

(I'm not giving you my PDF of our pages since they are the original Five-Minute Journal's work.  If you are making your own journal for yourself or a friend, you could make it your own: add your favorite quotations, additional questions, etc.  The original version includes daily quotations or weekly challenges that we did not include in ours.)

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What has this journal done for me since using it daily?

  1. I am more grateful from having to start my morning and think about what is most important to me that particular day.
  2. I start my day with energy and excitement, fixed on the three most important things to do that day.
  3. I catch myself stopping in my tracks during the day to change my attitude, decision-making, or way of handling something based on something I've written in my journal and am wanting to be better at/overcome.
  4. I am finding greater success overcoming my weaknesses when "what could I have done better?" forces me to see my errors and, the next day, work harder on resolving them.
  5. I definitely prioritize my day better.
  6. I have much better quality time with my kids and husband.
  7. I make more time for myself.
  8. I treasure (and later record) the magical moments in my day, the things I never want to forget that I often used to forget.
  9. I have become more confident through writing my daily affirmations and working to believe them.

 

And the response from parents, siblings, and friends that have started using our homemade journals since Christmas has been quite incredible.  It has bettered everyone.

My own mother thanked me recently for the journal and said she hadn't journaled since the day I was born. Now she had been consistent in writing in her new journal since Christmas.

 

Try it.

Buy the original journal.  Make a simple one for yourself.  Make a stack to distribute to friends for the most meaningful gift you could give them this year. This simple journal can and will change how you live each day.  For me, writing in it each morning as the first first thing I do to start my day and the last thing before bed has helped me have a deeper commitment to living my life to its fullest.

 

the sleepy time gal

christmas for the birds: easy birdseed ornaments

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giving christmas to the birds (1)Good morning friends.

If you follow my blog you know we have a few kids, one in particular, that loves birds.

It just seemed perfect to turn our annual homeschooling Christmas party into a party for the winter birds.  (You can see our "Christmas for the Birds" Party here.)

We had a birdseed ornament station, popcorn + apple garland (stringing station, and an indoor spot for cutting out the kids' favorite watercolor winter birds to lace with ribbon.  One winter bird ornament for inside, two edible ornaments (or decorations) for outside.

IMG_9112 These birdseed ornaments are so easy to make and so fun too!  Kids love making them.  This is an especially great recipe for children with peanut allergies who cannot "ice" a pinecone in peanut butter and roll in birdseed.  (I did send kids home from the party with a tube of peanut butter to make the peanut butter-rolled pinecone ornaments.)

easy birdseed ornaments

1 envelope of gelatin

1/2 cup of water

3 TBSP corn syrup

3/4 cup flour

4 cups birdseed

 

a few plastic straws cut into short pieces

cooking spray

 

Combine everything except the birdseed and mix well.  Add birdseed and mix.  You should use the birdseed mixture within 30 minutes so it doesn't begin to set in the bowl.

IMG_9133 (1) Spray the inside of the cookie cutters with cooking spray.  Scoop the birdseed mixture into each cookie cutter and pack down the birdseed.  Once the birdseed mixture is packed in and level, push a short straw into the top of the ornament.  Make sure the straw goes through to the backside of the ornament.

Let these ornaments sit and harden for an hour before sliding them out of the cookie cutter.  Remove the straw and let them harden for another few hours.

 

*The cookie cutter shapes that work the best for us are those with fewer jagged edges and that are less intricate.  The heart, star, and christmas tree cookie cutters were our favorite to use.  The cute gingerbread cookie cutter was a little delicate to use.  We lost one gingerbread head and one leg in the packaging process. IMG_9163

 

Once completely hardened, lace a ribbon through the hole and tie.  You've got yourself a beautiful birdseed ornament! (Or bird cookie, same thing. :) )

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Don't you love these beautiful watercolor winter bird ornaments??  The free printable can be found here.  We printed a few sets of the winter birds on cardstock for the party this week and to go on our neighbor's gifts...

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This year we decided our gift to our neighbors would be the gift of feeding our neighborhood birds.  

So the twins helped me package up a birdseed ornament (wrapped in parchment paper) and slide them inside a brown paper sack.   We taped down one of the cardstock bird ornaments with a simple "Christmas for the Birds, from the Shifflers" sticker I made with a sketched cardinal on it.

I'm pretty excited that we will be feeding our birds--as a neighborhood--all winter long.

 

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Now to get over my sickness to brave going caroling to each neighbor. :)

 

I'd love to hear if you try these birdseed ornaments.  They are so satisfying to whip up and make!

 

the sleepy time gal

making...

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Making...

  • Lots of ballerinas-- out of paper and wooden pegs
  • A new recipe (and testing it on myself  for possible gifting) of Lavender + Rose Gentle Cleanser from [amazon_link id="1580176763" target="_blank" ]Organic Body Care Recipes [/amazon_link]
  • Breakfast pumpkin pie (as we call it) but it's really a wonderful pumpkin custard we like for breakfast.   I use a combination of a little sprinkling of coconut sugar + stevia for the best sweetener flavor combination. I prefer to bake this recipe in a pie pan instead of little ramekins for ease.  Drizzle a little cream over each plated slice right out of the oven and you're ready for a seasonal + super healthy breakfast.
  • Homemade cards with candy canes taped on top and big letters "AINSLEIGH" and "ANNABELLE" written across the top
  • This season's tradition of gingerbread cookies, decorating, and eating them all with the girls in one sitting.  (Thankfully we halved her cookie recipe.)

 

What are you making in your home for the Christmas holiday right now?

 

the sleepy time gal

preparing for the cold: cold weather cream

COLD WEATHER I'm very curious what temperature it is in your neck of the woods.  It is in the teens this early morning here in PA.  I'm trying to make a mental list of who still needs warm winter hats and gloves and how I'll make due before we head out in the cold this morning.

 

We have arrived at that time of year when my knuckles get so dry and cracked and my twins begin complaining about their dry legs at night that I know it's winter recipe time.

I shared this recipe last year but it is so incredible I had to share it again.

If you don't have all of the ingredients make it with what you have.  Yesterday we made this winter's batch of cream with a friend and I used a blend of citrus essential oils instead of straight lemon oil since I was out.

It feels like a dream going on your skin and immediately turns from a solid state of cold cream into a smooth spreadable lotion once the warmth of your hands warms the coconut oil. IMG_3895

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(The Purification blend can be found here.  It is an excellent all around blend.)

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My label maker designed this year's tin. Thanks Caroline!

 

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And now everyone is lathering up daily.  Read my original post about how awesome this cream works on eczema and chapped baby cheeks as well.  Powerful stuff.

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Keep warm and hydrated out there, friends.  This is only the beginning. :)

 

 the sleepy time gal

apple printing kit

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apple Although I love food, treats from time to time, and sharing those experiences with my kids, culturally I think our giving of little gifts, favors, and rewards tend to be in the unhealthy, overly-sweet-treat category.  Just think about it-- what comes to your mind first when I say the words "party favors" or "prize" or "reward"?   I think of a cute wrapped extra large sugar cookie or bag of candy or coupon for an oversized bakery cupcake.

These things can have their place in our sugar-coated society from time to time. But I'm all about starting a revolution to turn those expressions of love/thanks/pride ("little gifts") into more useful, meaningful gifts.  Gifts that last longer and teach our children and those around us that we can think beyond the sugar bowl.

 

This apple printing kit came about when my committee from church (that is over the young children) were planning our Fall Carnival for the kids.  Families were to bring treats/snacks to share and so we wanted our prizes for best costume + best decorated pumpkins to be something else.   Something not fleeting but memorable and fun.

This kit was my answer...

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Here's our apple printing kit.  I was pretty surprised and excited to bring one of these kits back home from our Fall Carnival since Rowan won best costume.  Way to go Swedish Chef!

 

Make and give this kit for:

  • a fall party favor
  • as a prize for a party game
  • a new neighbor that just moved in with kids
  • a teacher's gift
  • a child who just became a big brother/sister

 

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What you'll need to make an Apple Printing Kit:

  • one beautiful apple
  • one small basket (I picked mine up for $1.50 each on clearance at JoAnns)
  • shredded paper
  • 1-2 foam brushes (you can find them in a pack of four)
  • 1-2 colors of acrylic paint
  • one mini art pad (I found mine in the $2 bin at JoAnns)

 

Assemble the shredded paper in the basket.  Add all of the supplies so they are all visible in the basket.  Make a simple how-to label.

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Add the simple label and a bit of ribbon or strip of fabric to the basket and you're done!  You've got yourself a beautiful, creative gift that every child would love to receive.

I made two whole sets for exactly $10.  I think sets/kits like these are so fun to give because they encourage creativity, bonding (with the helping adult), and learning new skills.

 

Now go out and slice an apple to ink up!

 

 

 the sleepy time gal

summer cleansing sugar scrub

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Our summer cleansing sugar scrub recipe came about for two of my nieces' August birthdays.   Caroline has become interested in making things with our essential oils--lately her obsession is air fresheners for her bedroom--and so I thought we'd try something refreshing and fun for her cousins.

There are a few ways to make sugar scrubs but they always include sugar (of course) for the exfoliating factor and an oil for hydration.  I like that this recipe also has shredded soap in it as well for the 2-in-1 functionality for girls cleaning up in the shower while having fun scrubbing the sweetly scented sugar on them as well.

I think you'll love this recipe...

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summer cleansing sugar scrub

This summer cleansing sugar scrub has a very robust floral scent from floral and citrus oils and the optional pink rose powder.  It is absolutely incredible on the skin and leaves your body feeling refreshed, exfoliated, and hydrated.  

 

 

1/2 cup sesame oil (or other carrier oil of choice)

1 cup shredded soap

2 cups white granulated sugar

Combination of summer oils: Ylang Ylang Essential Oil (10 drops), Geranium Essential Oil (5 drops), Citrus Fresh Essential Oil (5 drops), Lemon Essential Oil (5 drops)

1-2 TBSP Pink Rose Powder (optional)

1 drop of pink food coloring (optional)

 

Mix sesame oil and shredded soap in a heat safe bowl.  Microwave in bursts of 20 seconds at a time and stir.  Continue until soap is mostly melted.  Add sugar and essential oils.

Put bowl of mixed sugar scrub in the freezer for at least an hour for the oil to solidify a bit.   Return the bowl to the counter, fluff up the sugar scrub with a fork, and spoon it into mini jars or a large air-tight glass jar.

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This is a really great summer activity to do with your kids.  It is simple, fast, and your kids can enjoy the fruits of their labors with their own little jar in the tub.  And don't forget!  There is soap in this beautiful scrub!  Kids can scrub up, enjoy the aromatherapeutic experience while washing up!

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And did I mention a jar of this summer scrub is awesome to give as a gift?  Label it, wrap it up in a bit of parchment, and tie off with a ribbon.

I hope you try it out before the summer is over!

 

 

Do you like using sugar scrubs?  What are your favorite scents??

 

the sleepy time gal