Monday, April 7, 2008

Decorating Babies' Bathroom

One delimma I faced when I was expecting my sons' was converting our guest bathroom into a bathroom for little boys. I had spent countless hours painting that bathroom one coat of grey primer and two coats of red so there was no way I was repainting it. My sons' bedroom is decorated in Alphabet Soup from Pottery Barn Kids, so I wanted the bathroom to coordinate. Unfortunately, that particular line of bedding only came with a bathmat and hand towel... no shower curtain (and no red in the bathmat either)! For the shower curtain, I bought a regular green gingham shower curtain from Pottery Barn Kids. I thought I would buy some extra window valances and put a valance over the shower curtain and get some red into the bathroom. But, of course, the window valances have every color in them other than red. My solution -- make a shower curtain valance using one of the crib sheets, line it with white fabric and trim it in red gingham. Actually, my mom did all of the sewing. I have aspirations of learning to sew but there are only so many hours in a day. For about $25 worth of fabric (most of that was the overpriced crib sheet), I had a shower curtain that I love.

To bring some more color (and red) into the room, I chose 4 of the animals that are on the quilts in my sons' bedroom and painted them on to artist canvases stretched over wood frames. The canvases and my acrylic paint set cost about $20 at my local craft store. I know they aren't perfect, but hey this is a kid's bathroom, not a museum. For my first attempt at painting, I'm pretty happy with them. And the most important thing is that I didn't have to repaint the whole bathroom...

Months of the Year Photo Frames

I can not take credit for any of this project. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law did all of the hard work.

When I was expecting my boys, I asked my mother-in-law if she could paint a picture frame for each month of the year. I wanted to hang them over the changing table and then put a picture in it each month that represented a special holiday or milestone that happened that month. The first four months of the year were pictures of me and my ever-expanding belly.

My mother-in-law is a fabulous artist and can paint anything so I bought wood frames for $1 each at the craft store and she did the rest. She painted each frame a base color, then painted items that are associated with each month and also painted a wood cut-out and glued it to the top center of each frame. My sister-in-law added the name of each month in the bottom center of each frame. The frames didn't come with glass so my mother-in-law put a piece of plastic sheeting into each frame. She also added a saw tooth hanger to the back of each frame.

Overall, I would say the project cost $20-25 dollars and I'm thrilled with the results. Everyone who sees my sons' rooms comments on the picture frames. I've seen these frames in catalogs for $320 for the set and I'm glad I got mine for a fraction of that cost!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Paper Purse

When I saw the wrapper purses at, I wanted to buy one for my friend for Christmas. But they were always out of stock so I was determined to learn how to make one. After looking at several pictures, I could not figure out if the rows were woven together or sewn together. There were lots of instructions on the web for making the paper chains but not for how to attach the chains.

And then I found this site! I'm so glad she was kind enough to post the instructions. I couldn't wait to save up enough candy wrappers or chip bags...but I do have a ton of catalogs around my house! And I'm glad I was able to save a couple from the landfill and turn them into something useful.

So I decided to use the colorful pages from catalogs laminated with clear contact paper to make my purse. I know... laminating each strip of paper was quite a chore, but there was no way I was going to take the time to make a purse and then have it fall apart the first time it got wet. The contact paper did make it thicker though, so sewing up the bottom of the purse wasn't that easy and didn't turn out as perfectly as I would have liked. But my friend loved the purse and that's all that matters. It took me forever to make so it ended up being a birthday present rather than a Christmas present.

Maybe next time (if I ever attempt this craft again) I will try a flat bottom purse. I've also read that some people use clear packing tape to laminate the paper strips -- now that sounds like a pain! I'm thinking that a purse made from newspaper would be pretty cool though.

Diaper Cake and Other Baby Shower Gift Ideas

One of my friends from work is expecting a baby so my co-workers and I decided to put together a bunch of items that all of our kids love. We thought this would be more personal than buying one big item off of the registry.

We bought some storage containers from the Land of Nod in her nursery colors -- red and lime. What a great deal -- only $9 - $12 a piece! Then each container had a theme. One had all of the medicine cabinet items you need on hand like infant Tylenol, PediaLyte, neosporin, etc. Another container had toys, rattles, teethers and books that our kids love. Another had sippy cups, bowls, spoons, bottle brush, etc. that we had found were better than the other brands. Another had a hand crocheted afghan I made from cotton yarn, SwaddleMe blankets (these are the greatest!), a Baby Einstein lullaby CD, Nuk pacifiers, etc. This way our friend received a ton of very useful gifts and benefited from our collective knowledge as mothers.

I also made her a diaper cake, but I didn't attach anything to it as all of the other goodies were already in the storage bins. The cake was really easy to make and only cost about $40 (I used coupons to buy the diapers). Here's how I made it:

80 Size 1 Pampers Swaddlers
30 Newborn Papers Swaddlers
3 bottles (what ever kind the mom-to-be registered for)
3 cardboard cake platters
lots of small rubber bands
9 very large rubber bands
sticky tack

I started building the cake from the bottom up. For the bottom tier I didn't have a cake platter on hand that was 14" in diameter so I cut one out of cardboard. Then I put some sticky tack on the bottom of a bottle and stuck it in the middle of the cardboard circle. Next I rolled up size 1 diapers and put a rubber band around each one. When I had enough rolled up diapers to go all the way around the bottle, I put a large rubber band around the entire ring of diapers to hold it in place. I repeated this step until I could no longer see the cardboard circle, which was four rings of size 1 diapers for the bottom tier.

I then made the second tier using a 10" diameter cake circle. I traced the outline of the bottle in the center of the cardboard and cut it out so that the cardboard would slide over the bottle that was in the center of the bottom tier. Then I put some sticky tack on the bottom of another bottle and stuck it to the bottle that was already part of the bottom tier. I used three rings of rolled up size 1 diapers for the second tier.

I made the top tier using a 6" diameter cake circle. Again, I traced the outline of the bottle in the center of the cardboard and cut it out so that this top tier would slide over the bottle that was in the second tier. I put some sticky tack on the bottom of a third bottle and stuck it to the bottle that was already part of the second tier. I used two rings of rolled up newborn diapers for this tier. You can still see the top of the third bottle sticking out of the top of the cake but this didn't bother me. I suppose you could make a bow or use a cute stuffed animal to try to conceal it if you wanted to.

Once the cake was assembled, I wrapped some pretty ribbon that was 2" wide around each tier and hot glued it in place. I then took artificial gerber daisies and pulled the flower off the stem and hot glued one flower in the center of the ribbon on each tier. You do have to be careful when pulling the flower off the stem because the whole flower can start falling apart if the stem is what was holding it together. This started happening to one of my daisies, so I just hot glued the layers of petals together in an inconspicuous place so no one would ever know.

I was pretty happy with how my cake turned out! The ribbon and the daisies were so my friend's style and it was a lot less expensive to make it myself than buy an already made cake. My method for making it may be a little different than other instructions I've seen on the web, but the cake was pretty sturdy and I made it using rubber bands and sticky tack I already had on hand.