Children Tutorials

buttons as gifts: for boys


I was really relieved to come up with a button gift for our boy-friends--the little boys, daddies, uncles, teachers, and friends that we love.

The first button gift: cuff links.

Cuff links for a man are like earrings for a woman.  It is their only real coordinating piece they can wear that is the most like jewelry to women.

Bobby wears cuff links every Sunday to church.  He only has a few pair but boy are they expensive.  (I guess he could say that about women's jewelry!)  We made ours for him for about 50 cents a pair.

We made neutral, nicely textured cuff links out of wool and other blends of fabric we had.

Cut your scrap of fabric, use your covering button tool to cover the button, and then you are ready for the cuff link itself.  Make sure you use the flat backed button for this project.

We bought our cuff links at Cover Button City.   They sell silver plated cuff links that are beautiful and solid.

With your strong adhesive (we use Krazy Glue), glue your flat backed covered button onto the gluepad of the cuff link.

That simple.

Variations on the homemade cuff link:

  • draw a small design or have your child draw a design with fabric markers on white fabric and use that fabric to create the covered button
  • try wild fabrics for the buttons of the cuff links for zany personalities
  • experiment with different fabrics: silks, satins, wools, linen and so on

The second button gift for boys are tie tacks.

I love seeing little boys with miniature ties especially when they are wearing a tie tack.  (To think that someday little Rowan with wear a tie!)

Cover a flat backed button with your favorite fabric and then adhere it to a tie tack  with a clutch back.  They'll be a hit!  That simple.

You can see how different tie tacks look on the same tie:




Then package them.  I like simple best.  "Hi.  I'm a tie tack."  That works for me.

I like this 3/4 inch button size for children's tie tacks.  You can use the same size button or a larger one for a men's tie tack.

I have one last button gift for next week where I'll show you what we did for the homemade jewelry card.  I'd love to hear what you might be scheming for Christmas gift giving.

This morning I'll be doing Caroline's hair for her part as an angel in the Nutcracker.  I'm told it takes 3 hours to do--and this is just a practice run of the hair.   This is just the beginning.  Real rehearsal start next week.

Happy weekend, friends!

the sleepy time gal

buttons as gifts: for girls


Covering buttons is extremely addicting.

It all started with these fabric covered buttons for hair elastics for my girls.  We still use them everyday.

I thought covering buttons would be the perfect Christmas gift solution for the many nieces and nephews and little friends.  If only I could try something new.  And we did, quite excitedly.  Here's the first in the series of button gifting for everyone on your list...

So, you already know about covering buttons for hair elastics.  All you need to cover a button is a metal button, the metal button backing, and a button tool to snap the fabric snugly around the button.  To make our many hair elastics I bought this $5 PDF tutorial to learn the simple trick to connecting the covered button to the hair elastic.  Definitely worth buying.

(I get my standard metal buttons and the tool from Sunbeam Button Supplies for really cheap.)

Why not throw a few hair elastics in a set with a matching ring for a special little friend?  That's just what we did.

All little girls love matchy matchy.  This is a perfect gift-- something for their hair and something for their little ring finger.  The sky is the limit when you try out different fabrics for the set.  Some rings can be frilly while others can be made a bit more grown up.  It all depends on the fabric you choose!

And some rings can be just for grown ups.  For friends and sisters and everyone in between that likes a bit of style.  (I love this ring!)

 The process is simple for a button covered ring.

1. Cover a standard metal button with your scrap of fabric using the instructions of your button covering tool.  (You pretty much just snap the fabric around the two button pieces with the rubber tool. )

   Use flat backed buttons for this project compared to the buttons for the hair elastics.  It will make it much easier to simply adhere the ring flush with the button.  You can find flat backed metal buttons at many etsy shops.  (These are ours.)

2. Using a strong adhesive (we use Krazy Glue found at any craft store), adhere the flat back of the covered button to an adjustable ring with glue pad.  Since the rings are adjustable, rings can be made for kids and adults alike!  Once the glue dries (follow adhesive instructions) they are ready to be mounted into the ring slot of a homemade jewelry card.

(After comparing prices, Cover Button City and Sunbeam Button Supplies  have the best prices on etsy for all of our button supplies.  That includes the button supplies needed for our other button projects to be revealed tomorrow.  And they had speedy service if you're looking to make some button gifts before the holidays.)

Presentation is so much fun with these adorable rings.  Be creative with text, fonts, handwriting, and so on.  I chose no text on the jewelry cards for the adult rings.  It made the ring stand out as a piece of art--something that needed no words.

(More details on how to make ring slots and homemade jewelry cards tomorrow.)

It is such an exciting little set to give.  The sets that aren't already assigned to a specific niece or little girl friend will be thrown into a basket.  Then when one of my girls remembers she wants to give something to so and so, she can simply pull something special and colorful and homemade out of the basket for a friend.

What girl wouldn't love a set?  Or a simple ring on its own?

 I love how colorful the sets are.  The sets can be added to by more elastics and rings if you wish.   And have your kids help make the sets and put them together.  They can help cut fabric, snap the buttons together (they love seeing it turn into a covered button!), and assemble sets for their cousins, friends, and teachers.

I can't wait to give them away.

Now for tomorrow: buttons for boys and men.

the sleepy time gal

homemade chamomile baby powder


I find these photos of the completed powder in a jar on Rowan's rug quite interesting.  I shot the photos a few hours before my water broke almost two weeks ago.  The powder and these little animals (a friend made) sat in this exact spot for a week until I returned to this space, but with Rowan in arms.

I've heard from some of you readers about your interest in a boy's baby powder since I shared the more feminine lavender baby powder I used on my twin girls as babies.  This powder I made just for little Rowan because I knew the fragrance would be more masculine.  It has a beautiful fragrance of chamomile-- and if you want a twist simply use orange essential oil instead of the roman chamomile oil along with the chamomile powder.

For the base ingredients to my body care products I make I like ordering from the company Mountain Rose Herbs.   And I use Young Living's therapeutic grade essential oils for my recipes and for our family's daily needs.  With that, here is the very simple recipe:

homemade chamomile baby powder

1 1/2 arrowroot

1/2 cup baking soda

1/2 cup chamomile very finely powdered

1/2 cup cornstarch

2o drops roman chamomile (use less for a less intense fragrance) or sweet orange essential oil

(Recipe from [amazon_link id="1580176763" target="_blank" ]Organic Body Care Recipes[/amazon_link] by Stephanie Tourles)


Combine all ingredients except the essential oil in a large bowl.  Stir slowly with a whisk.

Using a mortar and pestle, combine the essential oil drop by drop with 6 or 7 tablespoons of powder until the oil is absorbed.  Add this oil mixture to the remaining powder and whisk the mixture slowly.

 Store powder in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for 3 days to allow scent of the essential oil and flowers to permeate the mixture.

I like storing my homemade powders in glass jars with a little decorative fabric scrap around the mouth of the jar.  In practical terms, I use my homemade shaker top to shake out the right amount each time.

Homemade powder scented with beautiful flowers and essential oils is such a luxury.  I'm excited to try Rowan's powder out on him.  Right now he's in my arms after just getting back from the hospital for his frenulum clipping (tongue tie).  He's nursing again and well.  I'm just happy it is done with hopes for a happier nurser.


And he's falling asleep...


Hope your week is off to a wonderful start.

the sleepy time gal

patterns and colors: the big girls' made-over bedroom


From the time I spray painted Johanna’s hand-me-down bedframe to making her quilt bedspread, I’ve been itching to pull their more “grown-up” bedroom together. I’ve literally had the hanging of Caroline’s big painting on my task list for almost a year. Their room has been one of those postponed projects for this reason or that. Hopefully I’m not the only mother familiar with those…

I love redecorating my home. I love reusing what I already have around the house. So I never quite know what the outcome will be to a room when I start gathering things from here and there and putting them together in a new way, for a new space.

Over their dresser I hung:

  • pretty mirrors I’ve had and never used for years (I’m still missing one somewhere)
  • glued ribbon to the back and hung so it appears they are actually holding the mirrors. Quite sly…
  • the girls beautiful flowers hung to dry

I love the simple, free decorating solution of hanging flowers.  So feminine and big girlish.

Caroline’s corner:

  • whimsical yard sale art in the corner
  • curtains made from fabric passed down from my Granny–they were actually twin sheets
  • her grand painting she made

And a new pillow that she and her sister are fighting over as to who will keep it on their bed. (I feel another pillow coming on…)

I used Sarah Jane’s Children at Play fabric with the coordinating Meadow Pink fabric backing for the little throw pillow.

Then there is Johanna’s side of the room…

  • her artwork in IKEA frames
  • drying flowers
  • a new poster I loved from the beach
  • that blue bedframe
  • and her new quilt, of course

There’s a little desk we’ve had in this space before that has returned. It is back with their homemade bulletin board, painted jar pencil holder, and, my favorite, a needlework piece of The Spirit of ’76, found at a yard sale for 50 cents! (Hello, colonial stuff!) I painted the old brown frame blue.

And the chapter book shelves with room time bag hook. This bookcase is reorganized by the girls every other day. Seriously.

There’s the tour! Lots of mixed colors and bold patterns all thrown into one space.

What do you think?? 

Too busy or just right?

the sleepy time gal


painted jar pencil holder


Hello Friday.  This week has been an interesting one for our family, thus not showing up yesterday in this space for this particular little tutorial.  Let's see, a combination of a sliced finger on my part (my exceedingly sharp bread knife is the culprit) and Bobby spraining his ankle pretty badly have presented us with a week of the one-handed mother (and left at that!) and a non-walking father.

I'm happy to report that our bodies are healing, I'm learning to shower and brush my teeth well with my left hand, and Bobby's sprain has gotten better as well.  Thank goodness. I was beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed with no one who could vacuum or do the hand washing around here.

On that note and the fact that my typing has gotten faster, leads me to this little project for the girls' bedroom desk: a painted jar pencil holder.

It is as simple as you can imagine: a painted-from-the-inside mason jar.  Do you remember these jars that sit above my kitchen counter?  It is the same concept.  Here goes:

painted jar pencil holder


1. Pour some craft paint into the bottom of a jar.

2. Slowly rotate the jar so the paint moves to cover the bottom, the sides and such, up to where you want the paint to stop.

3.  Add a second or third color inside the jar to the first to make things interesting.  You never know what the jar will turn out looking like with the mixture of colors!  We added yellow and a splash of green to Johanna's insistence of pink.

4.  Let the paint completely dry since a layer will develop at the bottom once you've finished rotating the paint around the inside of the jar.

This is fun for kids to do.  Although, my kids were excited for the first 10 seconds and then had moved on to something else.  I quite enjoyed rotating the paint and watching how the colored pattern changed.  It sure beat starting dinner.

5.  Embellish the jar!  If you want to add a bit of something more, cut some ribbon and hot glue it in the back of the jar.  There jar is a bit funky, wouldn't you agree?

Another great way to use up those glass jars and add something delightful in your home.  You could make one jar for pencils, another for markers, another for rulers, and on and on.  How colorful they would be lined up in different colors!

And in case you're wondering, yes, Johanna is eating one of our two carrots from our garden.  We were so proud of them--standing about 3 inches high-- and she let everyone in the house take a bite.

Now that you've seen the jar, I cant wait to show you the finished bedroom for Caroline and Johanna next week.  It was a definite exciting "check off the task list before baby comes" accomplishment for the mama.  So with that, happy weekend to you.

P.S.  Can I tell you that I still have knife-phobia these days??

the sleepy time gal


tutorial: powder shaker


This is the most random tutorial, isn't?  A powder shaker??

I was so giddy when the idea finally came to me because I've been stumped about how to get the right amount of powder into my hand.  And the powder shaker turns out to be pretty.  Even better than I was hoping.

Do you remember the homemade lavender baby powder I made for my girls last year?  It is such a dream to use.  Well, a friend is having her first girl and I thought she might enjoy the feminine fragrance and silkiness of the powder as much as I have for her little girl.  Lavender oil, crushed lavender petals--if you haven't tried making it, you'll be smitten and look for ways to use it yourself.

This is how I stored our powder which was nice, but you had to take off the cork and carefully eye the right amount of powder into your hand to then use.  Kind of a pain.  Especially when you're probably using it on a squirming child in front of you.  Timing is of the essence in these situations, wouldn't you agree??

I came up with a more practical, useful way to get the powder out: shaking it out!  As you can expect, the strip of burlap is where the powder shakes out.  Burlap has the perfect size holes for the powder to pass through.  The fabric lessens the powder flow and looks pretty.  And all inside a small mason jar!  So here goes:


a powder shaker


baby powder

small mason jar with screw-on lid

2  2 x 4 inch fabric scraps (cut with pinking shears)

1  2 x 4  inch burlap scrap

You want to sandwich the burlap scrap in between the two fabric scraps.  So sew the long side of the burlap and the long side of one fabric scrap together with less than 1/2 inch seam allowance.  Do the same on the other long side of the burlap to the other fabric scrap piece.

This is what you'll have above.  On the underside, trim closely to the burlap since the extra bulk will, in the end, make the twisting of the lid more difficult.

To keep the burlap from fraying, stitch a seam on both exposed ends of the burlap.

Now you're set to start screwing the lid on!  Lay the fabric/burlap piece onto the jar of powder.  Eye it so it is lays evenly all around. Now screw the lid on.

You now have a refillable powder shaker!!

If you've made the powder (and the recipe does make quite a bit), the powder in a shaker turns out to be a really nice baby gift.  I'm excited to make a different, less feminine baby powder later this month for little baby ____.  Still no name for him, but at least I'll be able to shake powder all the day long on his little bottom!

the sleepy time gal

rainbow shells


We got around to pulling out our drawstring treasure bags this weekend.  The shells from this summer's adventure to the beach were poured out onto the table.  The reality of swimming suits being packed up, water wings and sunscreen stored, hasn't hit the kids yet, but for me, painting the shells and folding up their treasure bags was like waving goodbye to a good friend called summer.

My children are absolutely thrilled to paint anything.   Ironically, we sat at this table at the end of summer last year (almost to the exact day), and painted rocks.  They were loved and played with outdoors as the days got a bit cooler and our time outdoors lengthened with September days.

I squirted out a rainbow of colors for each of my girls to use in following the curve of their shells for rainbows.  Some used the colors one at a time.  Others mixed them.  The results were each beautiful and unique in and of themselves.  I could have predicted, though, who would have mixed them all into one color.

On a side note, today is a holiday for us in the states.  A gloomy day outdoors, at that.  But weather never really does matter when husbands have time off and the regular ins and outs of the day are thrown out the window.

I'm pretty excited about this week on The Sleepy Time Gal.  I have some exciting decorating ideas to share and a unique but practical tutorial coming this week.

If your family is enjoying Labor Day today I hope it is a relaxing, perfect day for you all!


the sleepy time gal

room time totes


For a number of reasons--having a large family, choosing to homeschool, and liking order where it is possible--having a set time every afternoon for quiet is absolutely imperative for the mama.  And I should add, the kids as well.  Everyone knows what to do (most days) when it is "quiet time" and "room time" for the older girls who share a room.

In steps the "specific bag for the specific activity" project, one of my favorite simple sewing projects that always gets my kids focused and excited.

This time it is the Room Time Tote...

It needed to be simple, sturdy for carrying activity books and crayons and the likes, and easy to hang.

And of course, personalized.  I'll get to that later.  So here is an extremely simple tote you can make in less than an hour, embellishing included.

the room time tote

You'll need:

neutral sturdy canvas or duck cloth

decorative fabric to trim

wide velvet ribbon

embellishments--possibly shells or twigs


Cut two pieces of canvas roughly about 16" x 22 ''.

Take a long strip of your trim, press under on each of the four sides about 1/2 inch.  Pin onto one piece of the canvas right side up where you want it.  Stitch into place.

With right sides together, pin the pieces of canvas together, leaving the top unpinned.  Stitch all three sides 5/8 inch.  Now take the unstitched opening at the top and fold over 1/2 inch and press.  Fold over another 1/2 inch to 1 inch and press.

Now stitch the opening.

Turn the tote inside out and press.

Take your trim and decide how long you want the handles to be.  Our handles are both cut at about 12 inches a piece.  Fold over one end of your ribbon to cover the raw edge, tuck it into place inside the tote, and pin.  Do the same for the other side.

Now stitch the ribbon handle in place.  I like to sew a square around the wide ribbon and then an X in the middle to really make it secure for toting.

Now embellish over the handle stitch you just created.  Here, I broke a few pieces of backyard twigs and hot glued into place.

Or use seashells from the beach and hot glue into place.  The options are endless.  This is where it is fun to personalize the totes based on your child's interest.  I wanted to stick with the nuetral theme so kept with things found in nature.

And there you have it-- a room time tote!

Caroline and Johanna's totes hang at eye level so they can reach them when that magical time comes after lunch.  It is exciting for them to grab their bag, sit on their bed, and enjoy the much needed quiet and calm.

Some ideas for filling their room time totes (which need switching out from time to time) are:

  • coloring books
  • activity books (like these we still love)
  • crayons
  • stickerbooks
  • chapter books
  • blank paper and a clipboard
  • paper dolls

We've used these room time totes for some time now and changing them out with news things makes them that more exciting when it is time to sit down and enjoy their room time.  In case you were wondering, while they are doing that, I am in my room, totally collapsed in [amazon_link id="B0002E7DIQ" target="_blank" ]this[/amazon_link], enjoying my quiet time.  :)


the sleepy time gal

daily buckets


There are times when I tuck in my older girls at night that they remind me of something we were supposed to do that day.  Some book to have read.  Some project to have started, some activity they've been asking about for some time.  Although I'm so totally aware that I'm not superwoman, I still close their door at night frustrated that I forgot again and didn't plan four little girls' plans, hopes, desires and needs better.

Late one night I began to gather supplies of things they have asked about or I've wanted to do with each girl.  I put them all in a pile on the table and then remembered the little buckets I picked up at the beginning of the summer for eating outdoors.  (And s'mores.)

I wrote everyone's names on the buckets, including mine, and began to excitedly fill each bucket.  (More details below on what to fill them with.)

The daily buckets are there to 1) remind me or my child of something important that needs to be done that day.  2) to set aside specific activities I want to do with each child or that they would be excited to do on their own at a specific time.  And 3) act like a personal mailbox for each child to check each morning for lists, reminders, surprises and such.

So here's the approach to filling our Daily Buckets:

Daily Buckets

1.  Assign each child a bucket.  Keep it in the same place so they can check it daily.

2.  Every night or early morning, fill each bucket with:

  • Activities that child has been asking to do (i.e. special activity books, crafts, play things that only come out every once in a while.)  Since these are "daily" buckets, one thing is all that is necessary.  This is a great time to pull out the activities that are usually forgotten and actually highlight them.
  • Projects, assignments, and important things that have due dates for you or your child.  If it is in their bucket that day, they will understand it has a deadline.  This could be an unfinished birthday card your child needs to finish, filling out a form (like my hospital registration), returning a movie to the library, or even a list of household jobs for that specific child that day.
  • Specific experiences/activities you want to personally have with each child that day.  Putting special, short projects in each bucket per child acts as a reminder for the most important things you want to do with each child that day.  It might be a book to read to them,  a cookbook, something you want to teach them (tying shoelaces), or something you want to sit down and help them with.
  • Something important you don't want to forget about.  For my younger girls, their buckets are more simple.  For example, Ainsleigh's bucket held a few puppets and coloring pages from her church nursery class that I wanted her to share with the family before I recycled them.  It is a way to celebrate the child and their works without shuffling the papers around on the counter.  It really cuts down on counter clutter by distributing the responsibilities.

Here are some examples from the photo above of our buckets one random day:

Johanna-- Her colonial paper dolls that require my cutting them out for her to play with them.  Alphabet flashcards to read to her little sisters.

Ainsleigh-- Her church nursery colored handouts and puppets to share at family night.

Caroline-- Her loom that she has forgotten about and will be a happy to be reminded of.  Dry erase boards to practice some left-handed handwriting skills with mama.  A nature book for her to plan out a summer nature project.


Annabelle-- Our perpetual calendar that the girls take turns setting.  She and I would get to do it together and set it up on the bookcase for the day.

Mommy-- Hospital registration and baby onesies.  A reminder of a little project the girls and I wanted to do for an afternoon.

Because this is a daily ritual, I don't stress out over perfectly even buckets, the perfectly filled bucket, and such.  Some days a child will just have one item, other days, a few more.  The whole idea is that it keeps the ideas, projects, needs, fun, and learning in a reachable place that I can prepare before the start of a new day instead of forgetting and regretting.

As for my girls, it has become a special and exciting daily ritual.  The bucket activities sometimes fill up a free moment in the day, other times their contents are assigned by me, like Ainsleigh sharing her works in her bucket at family night.  There definitely is something exciting about them.  The girls come downstairs in the morning and peek in them, anticipating something new and different that day.  Sometimes they find a treat in their bucket, like little acorn faces for each of them.

The possibilities are endless. I'd like to start using the buckets for personal little reminders for my older girls, like packing for a day trip, so they can own it and take some responsibility for it.  And I'd like to leave reminders for family birthdays so that the bucket acts like a personal mailbox for them to check each morning, love notes included.

What would you put in your child's daily bucket today??

the sleepy time gal

summer collage


On our first weekday morning back to normal this week, we needed something new and exciting to start the week.  We took a lead from a library book we've been enjoying (and is so timely) called Miranda's Beach Day to experiment with collage.  The illustrator of the book creates all of the illustrations through collage.  We've loved figuring out some of her techniques together as we've read.  We've talked about the sand and crabs and waves we will see in a few days.  And, as it happens to Miranda, we've talked about the tide and how it has a habit of engulfing sand castles.

Making collages on a lazy summer morning is quite easy and pretty exciting for the eager-eyed kids watching as more and more "items" come out onto the table.

What to gather for summer collages:

  • scrapbook paper
  • scrap paper of any sort
  • origami paper
  • pom-poms
  • dried beans
  • cotton balls (perfect for making clouds!)
  • chipboard cut outs
  • ribbon
  • markers
  • stencils
  • glue stick for each child
  • scissors
  • dried noodles
  • buttons
  • any other small items that can be glued

You can let kids just start cutting and gluing or give them a specific theme.  Ours, of course, was the beach.  I loved seeing how the older girls used buttons and pom-poms for sand and crabs, cotton balls for clouds, and layered paper to create depth.  The more they experiment, the more they will figure out how to achieve the look and feel of something 3D.

Beyond collages, I've been slipping downstairs with bits and pieces of my time to work on a special beach project (for all the kids going to the beach this weekend) with this adorable fabric I told you about.  I just finished all six this morning!

Have your kids tried collage??

the sleepy time gal