Do It Yourself

Super Sized Pop-Up Valentine’s Day Card

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So if you haven’t guessed (you know by my blog name and all) we love Kev over in these parts somethin’ fierce. We are 3 lucky ladies and with Valentine’s Day around the corner, we wanted to make an extra special card for him. What better way to show someone how much you love them then by making them a super sized card? I wanted to make it a pop-up card as well because why not right? Let’s add all the fun into one giant card.

Anyway, I teamed up with Canon USA again this month to create this cute super sized pop -up card. The girls were so excited about the idea. Pop-up books are their favorite right now. Our poor Peter Rabbit pop-up book has seen better days though. Rowan thought it was hilarious when I told her it was going to be a pop-up picture of her.

Let’s get started!

Materials:

Canon PIXMA iP8720
2 pieces of white poster board
string
white Glue
a bit of cardboard
paint
hot glue
sweet potato
paint brushes

Directions:

1. Take pictures of yourself or your kids for the card. It helps to take the pictures on a white background. You’ll want to pose your hands in a way that makes it look like you are holding something.

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2. It’s awesome having a large format printer so you don’t always have to print at the standard 8.5″x11″. Using our PIXMA iP8720 we were able to print the pictures of the girls at 13″x17″. Hello super sized cards!!

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3. Cut your figures out of the paper and glue a piece of cardboard to the backside. This will help the photos to stand up straight in the card.

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4. Fold a large white sheet of poster board in half, this will be your ‘card”. Decide where you want your figure to stand in the card. With a pen mark on the folded edge of the paper. Cut two notches (about 1.5 inches in length and about 2 inches apart) along the folded edge of the paper. You will have to do this for each of your figures.

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5. Open the card half way. Use your fingers to push the flap of paper into the card so that the flap lies between the two layers of the paper. When you open the card, a box-like shape or step will pop up at you.

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6. Hot glue your figures to the front of these box shapes. To complete the card you will fold another piece of poster board in half and glue this to the outside of the card. This creates a finished backing for the card and adds some support and strength to the card.

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7. Now you can decorate your card anyway you’d like. I decided to cut out some sweet potato stamps and let Rowan stamp patterns onto the card. We made a heart, an X and a dot. We also cut out some gold letters to create a banner that we strung between the girls that said “WE LOVE YOU”. I glued dowels to their hands and tied the string to the top.

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8. The messier you get the better! Have fun and remember whoever you are going to give it to is going to love it no matter what!

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xoxoxo

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

p.s. Just in case any of you were in the market for a new printer… There is a promo until Feb. 14th for $50 off the Canon PIXMA iP8720 and $5 off the Canon SELPHY CP910.

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Make Your Own Photo Accent Pillows

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Over the past few months I’ve been slowly redecorating our room. Ever since we moved into the house (2 years ago) it honestly never really got finished. The kid’s rooms always took priority. We did paint it in a mad dash before Finley was born but that was about it. I love our room. It has vaulted ceilings, lots of space and pretty morning light. I love the idea of your bedroom feeling like a little retreat. Anyway, i’ve been buying a few items here and there to create a more finished feel. Mostly plants. I’ve wanted to keep everything bright and light feeling. Lots of white and neutrals. Our bed was feeling a little sterile though. That’s when I came up with the idea of creating some fun accent pillows for the bed with some cute personal touches.

I teamed up with Canon USA to make these pillows come to life! I was planning on just printing onto some transfer paper BUT did you know you can print right onto fabric from your printer?? How cool and convenient is that?! All you need is freezer paper. I was totally jumping up and down when it worked.

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Materials needed:

Muslin
Freezer paper
Scissors
Rotary cutter
Yarn
Embroidery floss
Fabric/felt
Batting/pillow forms
Kids drawings
Craft paint (optional)
Pixma MG7520 Printer

Directions:

1. Cut a piece of freezer paper to 8.5×11″ (or whatever size your printer prints). Iron the freezer paper to a piece of muslin that is slightly bigger than 8.5×11″. That way you can trim it exactly to the size of the freezer paper after you iron it. You want the edges to be lined up perfect so that it will feed through the printer right. The freezer paper gives the fabric some “weight” to be pulled through the printer. Make as many fabric/freezer paper sheets as you want photos printed. I ended up making 3 – 8.5×11″ sheets to use in the printer.

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2. With our PIXMA MG7520 printer I was able to print the photos right on the muslin/freezer paper sheets I created. I printed 2 b&w photos and then I even scanned a piece of Rowan’s artwork using the scanner on the printer. It made the coolest pattern fabric when it printed. Make sure you load your fabric paper the right way. You want to make sure the photos print on the fabric side NOT the freezer paper side.

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3. When everything is printed, peel off the freezer paper back and discard. You will now be left with the printed fabric. The world is your oyster! I’m going to make pillows with mine. How cute would little patches for your kids jeans be?

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4. Here comes the extra fun part! Since I wanted pillows bigger than 8.5×11″ I was able to get creative and think of some fun ways to design the pillows. For the first one I cut 1.5″ strips of fabric to sew around the square picture. I sewed the checkered strips first, then added the polka dot fabric creating 2 borders to enlarge the front of the pillow. You will also need to cut out a backside piece of fabric for the pillow.

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5. Before you sew the pillow together add any embroidery/details (buttons, paint, etc…) that you want to the pillow. I decided to stitch the words “sweet dreams” onto the front. After you finish, pin right sides together and sew the edges of your pillow together. Leaving a small opening at the bottom to turn and stuff.

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6. To finish it off I added some tassels to the corners of my pillow and then stuffed it full of batting. Hand sew the opening closed at the bottom when you’re done. You can really have a lot of fun coming up with your own pillow ideas. The possibilities are endless!!

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Crafts With Kids | Christmas Watercolor Cards

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This is the simplest trick in the book, but it makes the cutest Christmas cards your kiddo can send to their friends and family. I remember watercoloring with rubber cement all the time when I was little but I totally forgot about it till the other day. Anyway, you can create a ton of cards quite quickly. All with their own unique look. Perfect even for small kids- let them just have at it!! Whatever you painted underneath will show through no matter how crazy their paint job is. Older kids could of course paint with the rubber cement themselves. I painted the scenes first for Rowan because it’s little tricky to see what you’re painting.

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Materials:

watercolors (exact ones here)
paint brushes
rubber cement
glitter (optional)
Watercolor paper (we used this brand)

Directions:

1. Think of simple, christmasy designs to paint on the paper. You really are painting with invisible ink (so to speak) so the more detailed you get, the harder it will be to remember where or what you painted last. Apply a thick coat to the front side of the watercolor paper. Watercolors absorb differently to the front and back of the paper. The front is where it’s at. The overall outcome will not work as well if you use the wrong side of the paper (in our experience).

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2. Let the rubber cement dry.

3. I explained and tried to show Rowan the pictures that I painted. Then I just let her go to town with her own ideas of how to paint the cards. You can also let your kid sprinkle glitter on the cards while the paint is wet. Glitter and I have a love hate relationship. It comes out only on special occasions. hahahaha.

4. Done! Let your kids write special notes on the inside and deliver before Christmas.

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Clean Eats | Dark Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Coconut Bites

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I think the most common kind of question we get since we decided to eat a less processed, more whole food diet is about having sweets. I think when people hear whole/clean food they think we’re only eating twigs and berries. And yes, we do eat a lot of produce but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for sweets. We’re just more selective over what sweets we eat. After eating better quality, made from scratch goodies, eating say a “insert favorite candy bar here” seriously tastes like plastic. The store bought candy has no flavor in comparison. These chocolate bites are the most amazing thing ever. I crave them like no ones business. They’re so delicious and rich that one or two totally satisfies a craving. Super simple to make and the ingredients can’t be beat.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup good quality dark chocolate chips (we like to use this kind)
1/2 cup organic peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
1/3 cup grade B maple syrup
3 tbsp. of cocoa powder (we like this kind)
1 tsp. vanilla
A pinch of sea salt if your peanut butter is not salted
1 1/4 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut (plus more for rolling in at the end)

Directions:
1. In medium pot, over medium low, melt chocolate, pb, syrup, cocoa, vanilla and sea salt. As it melts together and heats up it will become think and hard to stir. Remove from heat and stir in the coconut.
2. The mixture will be thick. Let it cool down. Then, using your hands form small balls. You can roll each ball in shredded coconut to give them a finished, festive look. They are good with or without this final step. Up to you.
3. Refrigerate for at least 20 mins before serving.

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Recipe adapted from here.

Crafts With Kids | A Photo Diary

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Did you know that Kev and I fell head over heels for each other in book making class in art school? So nerdy, right? Needless to say, I’m kind of obsessed with making handmade books. There is something so fun about making a book and binding it together. When I was first pregnant with Rowan I couldn’t wait until the day we could make cute little books together filled with her drawings and stories. For Rowan’s birthday this year we got her a camera. It’s waterproof and shock proof making it perfect for a 4 year old. She was showing so much interest in taking pictures with our phones, we wanted to help foster that creative spirit. She takes her little camera everywhere! One particular day a few weeks ago, we were walking around one of our favorite cities around us and I told Rowan she should document our time out and about. Then we came up with the idea that we could make her very first photo diary book… “The Photo Book of Troy, NY” captured by Rowan Winter Richardson.

She was in!

We teamed up with Canon USA to create this super cute photo book. A lot of the actual book making was done by me, obviously, but the photos, drawings and words are all her own. You could make so many variety of books with photos you print out. The possibilities are endless!!!

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Materials:
Matboard
Xacto knife
glue
roll of kraft paper
markers
cardstock
patterned paper
ruler
thread
drill
needle

Directions:
1. Collect photos of whatever you’d like. I chose all the photos Rowan took on our outing and laid them out in photoshop. I designed each an 8.5″ x 11″ page so 2 photos would fit and print together. We haven’t had a printer in our house since we were first married. I will admit that I can’t imagine not having one now. Our PIXMA MG7520 printer is so simple to use and it’s been so fun to just come up with projects on a whim that use photos without having to go to Staples to get things printed out. I love the connivence and great quality!

2. Print all your photos. I planned to fold each page in half and trim all the white space around the photos. About 3/4″ of the left see of your page will be covered by the binding. Make sure you plan accordingly so something important isn’t being covered up.

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3. Once all your pictures are trimmed, measure the length and height of the page. This will give you the dimensions of what your covers should be.

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4. Say your pages are 4″ x 3″. You will cut 2 covers (front and back) from the mat board that will be 4″ x 3″. To make it so the covers can open easily I made what is called a stab binding. On each of your covers you will cut off the last 3/4″. This will create the binding. You will now have 2 pieces for each the front and back covers measuring 3/4″ x 3″ and 3.25″ x 3″. Trim those last pieces to be 3″ x 3″. This will allow for the .25″ gap to allow the book cover to open while still being the same measurements of the pages. See picture below.

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5. Have your little one color whatever they would like on some kraft paper. Patterns, scribbles, pictures, whatever their little hearts desire. You will use this to cover the matboard making the front and back covers. Trim down the paper so there is about an 1.5″ extra around the matboard.

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6. Glue down the matboard to kraft paper (you could really use any paper you wanted to make the covers). Align the binding piece creating .25″ gap between the 2 pieces. Glue corners first by folding them in, then glue the sides.

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7. Cut some end paper to cover the inside of the matboard. Trim them to be just a tad smaller than the size of the covers. Glue them in place.

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8. Measure across the binding every half inch and make a mark. Clamp your whole book together. Drill holes through each of the marks all the way through the book. Keep the book clamped the entire time.

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9. Through the holes sew your binding together. Tie the ends together and your book it done! You can now take off the clamp.

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10. I had Rowan come up with captions for each of her photos and she wrote them on the opposite page of the picture. What a special little keepsake for them. Make sure you date the book so years from now you know when exactly they made it!

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We plan on continuing making tons of “Rowan’s Photo Books” as she takes more pictures with her camera. She is so proud of them! She made sure she brought it with us this week to show all her Grandparents. She has little stories about each picture. So cute!!!

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For more detailed steps on how to make a Japanese stab binding check out these sites: Design Sponge and How Did You Make This?

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Simple and Fun Advent Calendar

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I will admit that every year I have high hopes for a great Advent calendar. Last year I never got around to making one and the year before that I was hugely pregnant and motivation was loooow. My sweet, sweet friend sent one in the mail to Rowan that she made (there were lots of tears when I opened that package- she is the best!) The year before that I made one but honestly didn’t finish sewing all 25 houses. I had them all cut out but not all made it on the branch. This year I was determined to make something…Anything! I decided against gifts, wanting to be focused more on family activities and service projects. I came up with a list of 24 things and also added a Bible reading for each day as well. I wanted to make sure we focused on why we personally celebrate Christmas and not just focused on gifts and being “good” for presents.

I printed out each day’s Bible reading and activity and cut them down to size. I also ran some kraft paper through the printer to print out the daily numbers. I made all the squares 4.25″ x 4.25″ and then sewed the edges together with that day’s activities inside. I strung all the numbers on some branches I had found on a walk in the woods last week and hung them up on the wall. Rowan couldn’t wait to open the first one today. Our first activity is making Christmas cards for our friends near and far. She loves sending mail!!

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Here is the list of our Advent activities…
Dec. 1st: Make Christmas cards for friends. Read 1 John 1:1-5
Dec. 2nd: Pancakes for dinner with whipped cream and berries. Read Isaiah 9:2-7
Dec. 3rd: Make salt dough ornaments. Read Isaiah 11:1-10
Dec. 4th: Call local food pantry and see what in particular they are in need of. Go shopping and donate. Read Jeremiah 33:14-16
Dec. 5th: Paint with special shaving cream sparkle paint. Create painted snowmen. Read Luke 1:5-10
Dec. 6th Make Gingerbread houses. Read Luke 1:11-17
Dec. 7th: Mommy and Rowan date to go Christmas shopping for Daddy and Finley. Read Luke 1:18-25
Dec. 8th: Work on doing special chores from now till Christmas to earn money to donate on Christmas Eve at church for local charity. Read Luke 1:26-38
Dec. 9th: After dinner let’s get our jammies on and head to Albany to drive through the lights at the park. Hot Chocolate is a must! Read Matthew 1:18-21
Dec. 10th: Make a special holiday card for the mailmen and leave it in the mailbox for him. Read Matthew 1:22-26
Dec. 11th: Make Borax snowflakes. Read Luke 1: 39-45
Dec. 12th: Christmas crafts with popsicle sticks! Read Luke 1:46-56
Dec. 13th: Make desserts for Ronald McDonald house. Bring over some new markers and coloring books as well. Read Luke 2:1-5
Dec. 14th Sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Read Luke 2: 6-7
Dec. 15th Stay up late watching Christmas movies. Read Luke 2:8-12
Dec. 16th Go through our closets and find clothes we can donate to local shelter. Read Luke 2:13-14
Dec. 17th: Bake and decorate gingerbread men. Read Luke 2:15-18
Dec. 18th: Make stitched ornaments for the tree. Read Luke 2:19-20
Dec. 19th: Sleepover in the living room by the Christmas tree. Read Micah 5:2-5
Dec. 20th: Ice Skating in Empire Plaza. Read Matthew 2:1-2
Dec. 21st: DISNEY PRINCESSES ON ICE!!! (shhhhh its a secret!- good thing Rowan can’t read) Read Matthew 2:3-6
Dec. 22nd: Picnic dinner on blankets by Christmas tree. Read Matthew 2:7-8
Dec. 23rd: Paint pinecones. Read Matthew 2:9-12
Dec. 24th: Make homemade marshmallows. Hot cocoa party at Meme’s house. Read John 1:14

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p.s. just because I think this is hilarious… Finley is totally buck naked from the waist down in these pictures. Oh the joys of potty training!!

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Crafts With Kids | Homemade Playdough Recipe

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My sister got Rowan the coolest book for her birthday. It’s loaded with tons of great ideas for Moms and kids. In a desperate moment last week to find something to entertain the girls, I grabbed the book looking for something we could do. Playdough!! My girls love play dough. I’ve never made it before and was super excited to try it out. We even juiced some beets, kale and used turmeric to naturally color the dough. I also added a few drops of essential oils and glitter and WOW!! it was a hit! The girls have had so much fun playing with it. At first I thought it was even too pretty to play with!

Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tbsp plain cooking oil
food coloring – if you’re using homemade colors, they should be added as water replacement. For example, if you’re using half a cup of color, you then will only need half a cup of water. I juiced kale, beets and then boiled some turmeric and used that instead of the water.
glitter
essential oils (your choice)

Directions:
1. Add flour, salt, water, cream of tartar, oil, and food color to a small pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring consistently.
2. After a couple of minutes you will notice the mixture starting to clump. It will get harder and harder to stir, eventually turning into one big lump.
3. Scoop the lump out onto a floured surface and knead all together. Press out flat and sprinkle with glitter. Knead together. Do the same with essential oils.
4. Bring out all the cookie cutters and have lots of fun! Keep in air tight containers when you are finished playing.

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diyplaydough^^I am still blown away by how beautiful the colors came out.

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*This recipe is from the Recipes for Play book by Rachel Sumner and Ruth Mitchener

Hi, I'm Jen!

Welcome to my personal lifestyle blog. It features topics such as motherhood, family life, fashion, cooking, and all sorts of adventures. I hope you enjoy what you find!


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