In DIY, Silhouette on
February 22, 2018

DIY Letterboard Paper Letters

 

I love my $10 letterboard from WalMart. It’s made by Leisure Arts and can be found in the craft aisles. I recently used it at my son’s 5th birthday party and wondered if I could make the title of the sign stand out a little more by creating larger DIY letterboard paper letters. Turns out you can if you have a paper cutting machine like the Silhouette or Cricut.

For this project, I used basic cardstock. Below are instructions for the Silhouette CAMEO.

  • In Silhouette Studio (the design software), create your text and adjust the text in terms of height and width as needed.
  • For words using non-script fonts, reduce the “Character Spacing” from the “Text Style” panel so that your letters slightly touch each other (see the words “rules” and “of” in my picture above). Then, with your word selected, right-click to “Release Compound Path” followed by another right click to “Ungroup.” Now, each letter should be unique/separate from the other letters. You may need to manually move certain letters to overlap the adjacent letter.
  • Once all the letters slightly overlap, choose “Weld” from the Modify panel. You should now have one “piece” of text.
  • Next, we are going to make the little tabs that stick into the letterboard. These tabs secure the letters/words to the letterboard.
    • Draw a rounded rectangle that is 0.15in tall by however wide you need it. Width is determined by where you overlap the rounded rectangle with the base of letters. For instance, I placed a wide rounded rectangle under the letters “L” and “E” in the word “Rules” and the a narrower pair under the letter “R” in the same word. See pink boxes in screenshot below.
    • Once you have your rounded rectangles placed AND overlapping the letters, the next step is to “Weld” them to create the tabs.
  • Last step is easy, simply fold so that the tab creates a 90 degree angle with your paper letters/words. Stick it into your letterboard and you’ve got some cool looking customized letterboard paper letters!

Now that you have the steps, the DIY/customization possibilities are endless!! You could even use fun/colorful cardstock and really give your letterboard some pizzazz!!

 

In DIY, Freebies, Graphic Design, Holidays on
February 16, 2018

Happy Chinese New Year 2018! (FREEBIE!)

 

Xīn Nián Kuài Lè! Happy Chinese New Year friends! It’s the Year of the Dog!

As an ABC (American Born Chinese), I love sharing my heritage with my non-Asian friends and now that I’m a parent, I want to definitely pass down the cultural traditions to my half-Chinese kiddos.

I think it’s safe to say every Chinese kid always looked forward to getting red envelopes! These envelopes were filled with money, usually LOTS of money! I didn’t really get allowance growing up so you can imagine how excited I got when I received red envelopes from my parents and other adult family members! So, I decided to make a red envelope printable so YOU TOO can get excited! Unless you live near an Asian market, it’s a little hard to find these envelopes but now you can print them from your home!

Download this FREEBIE that comes in two color options by clicking here. Happy Chinese New Year! 🙂

In DIY, Freebies, Holidays on
February 11, 2018

Love Letters to Kids [FREEBIE!]

 

Three days until Valentine’s Day! Last week, we prepped preschool Valentine’s and for the past couple days, I decided (for some reason…darn you Pinterest!) it would be fun to make themed meals on Valentine’s Day. Just breakfast and dinner so I’m not crazy, right?! I’m picturing heart-shaped toast with nutella and banana slices, bacon (who doesn’t love bacon?!), pink-colored milk, and strawberry yogurt with red/pink sprinkles. And we’ll end the day with a heart-shaped pizza, steamed green beans (a veggie my kids LOVE!), and cutout sugar cookies for dessert! All ideas at the moment…let’s see if I can execute! Ha!

Amidst all the ideas and planning, I did think of one craft that is probably the most important for the holiday of love. I have a 5-year-old who has taught me (and continues to teach me) quite a bit in my journey of motherhood. I have learned that my words are powerful. They can hurt (when this mama loses it) or they can build up, heal, and comfort. I know that, for myself, I remember specific words my parents or other grown ups have said to me at a young age and how crazy I carry those words into adulthood. So, what I realize is that at the end of the (lonnnnnng) day, I pray my children remember the loving, meaningful words I say to them that let them know they are loved, known, and seen.

Today’s FREEBIE is a very easy craft involving just a printer, pen, scissors, and tape…things we have in our home so no excuses for not doing this craft! Download the fill-in-the-blank love letter printable by clicking here, follow the simple instructions on the printable, and let’s fill our kids’ love tanks to the brim!

 

 

In DIY, Freebies, Holidays on
February 7, 2018

Classroom Valentine’s Card Printable [FREEBIE!]

 

Valentine’s Day is around the corner and if you’re a parent, you probably will have to prepare classroom valentine’s cards this or next week. I prefer non-candy goodies because let’s be real, my 5-year-old has plenty of energy and we don’t need to add to it. Plus, we just got rid of a big stash of Halloween candy!

These cute temporary tattoo packs from Target caught my eye and I thought putting them onto a card is a simple way to fancy it up.

You can download this FREEBIE printable card by clicking here. There are four cards per 8.5in x 11in sheet.

All you need is:

  • Color printer (or send to your local print store like Staples, Kinko’s)
  • Temporary tattoos from Target (check Valentine’s section. These come in a box of 20 packs)
  • Hot glue gun (or regular glue is fine. It will just dry slower)
  • Pen

Simply follow the instructions on the bottom right of the printable and you’ve got an eye-catching valentine’s goody that kids will “ink” is so cool! Get it?? Har har, I have a thing with puns so #sorrynotsorry

 

In Birthday, DIY, Parties on
February 3, 2018

Royal Icing Sugar Cookies

 

For years (heck, maybe even a decade!), I have wanted to take a cookie decorating class. What can I say? I’m a crafting nomad, always desiring to learn new crafts and techniques. And if it involves food, yes please!

Ethan’s 5th birthday party was the perfect reason to make some royal icing cookies! I already bought an “E” cookie cutter from his 3rd birthday party and recently picked up a “5” cookie cutter. The ones from Sur La Table are a good size (about 5in.) and are only $1.50 each!

 

 

Wanna know a secret? While I would love to make cookies from scratch, sometimes it’s just too much work, especially when you can buy cookie mix that taste pretty darn good! My go-to mix is Betty Crocker’s Sugar Cookie Mix. All you need to add is butter, egg, and flour (for cutout cookies), all of which is always stocked in my fridge/pantry. After you make the mix, I do recommend taking two extra steps:

  1. Chill the dough in the fridge for about 30 mins.
  2. When rolling out the dough, sprinkle flour on your flat surface and rolling pin. This cookie mix dough can be sticky.

I waited a day to decorate the sugar cookies so that I wasn’t spending half the day in the kitchen. Mama’s got to be strategic with her time (read: no way my kids would play nicely and quietly for that long)! If you are using the Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix, I recommend using this royal icing recipe as it was the perfect amount for the number of cookies made. NOTE: I didn’t use the Domino’s brand of confectioners sugar, just whatever I had in my pantry.

When it came to decorating, the following supplies were purchased from my local craft store, Michaels:

  • Wilton disposable decorating bag
  • Wilton decorating coupler set
  • Wilton No. 3 tip
  • Wilton gel food coloring (I recommend this over the watery kind. I used two colors: Moss Green and Black)
  • Brand new soft bristle flat paintbrush (for the buffalo check pattern on the letter E cookies)

Other supplies I used:

  • Spray bottle (the best way to control the viscosity of the icing)
  • Toothpick (to mix the icing after using the flooding technique. Here’s a youtube video tutorial in case you’re a visual person like me!)

 

I was quite pleased how the cookies turned out! It was easier than I had imagined. And I had a lot of fun making them AND eating them!! 🙂

 

In DIY, Freebies, Parties, Silhouette on
February 2, 2018

Olympics Pennant Flags [FREEBIE]

 

In one week, the Winter 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang will commence and I couldn’t be more excited! I grew up glued to the screen admiring Kristi Yamaguchi, Michelle Kwan, Tara Lipinski gracefully dance across the ice during the Winter Olympics. And I watched live the nail-biting Kerri Strug performance at the 1996 Summer Olympics. I’m pretty sure I shed tears and then declared I would become an Olympic gymnast like every other girl in the world.

Fast forward two decades later, I am not a gymnast nor an Olympian. But the spirit of Team USA is still strong within me and I wanted to make a fun craft for my kids to use to cheer on our American athletes. Last year, I discovered an amazing material that does not tear, fray, or fade called Oly*fun. It is also very easy to use with a cutting machine like a Silhouette or Cricut.

Materials used:

  • Oly*fun sheets in red, white, green, black, blue, and yellow. You could also use other materials like cardstock, felt, or fabric.
  • Craft glue (I highly recommend a precision tip glue such as Tombow Mono Multi Liquid Glue)
  • Hot glue gun
  • 3/16in. wooden dowel

Click here to download the FREEBIE cut file for the Silhouette machine.

 

I hope my kiddos will enjoy watching the Olympics as much as I did as a child. It is inspiring to see young athletes’ dreams coming true after years and years of hard work and dedication. It is a beautiful reminder of our world’s vibrant diversity and culture. Our family plans to attend the Summer Games of 2028 when it will be held in Los Angeles!

In Birthday, DIY, Graphic Design, Parties, Silhouette on
January 31, 2018

Camp Ethan (aka 5th Birthday Party)

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you probably saw little sneak peeks of Ethan’s 5th birthday party decor in posts and Instastories! Birthday party over the weekend was a success! Last year’s theme was dinosaurs and this year’s theme was camping/hiking/adventure/the great outdoors/all of the above! I like to do things more uniquely (I blame it on the only child syndrome) so I thought getting his friends together for a hike at his favorite hiking spot would be special and different. It’s always a gamble with a winter birthday but we sure lucked out! Weather was perfect! 75 degrees of beautiful sunshine!

 

 

As guests arrived at the trailhead, Ethan passed out little scavenger hunt snack bags to his buddies. This simple DIY project was created using a regular home printer and small kraft bags. You can certainly use colored bags to match party colors. I created the design/list with a design software program, loaded the paper bag one at a time, and sent it to my printer. I loved the little mountain graphic so much that I decided to make it his party “logo” and used it throughout the party decor. A great way to create visual cohesion!

The hike portion of his party was a little crazy with 15 kids, of which 8 were 4/5 year olds running WAY ahead of the group! Then you had the “me-do-it” two-year-olds wanting to walk the trail but at half the older kids’ pace. Fortunately, we all hiked the canyon part of the trail together and all the kids did great scaling the steep canyons! At the very top is a viewpoint overlooking a lagoon and ocean views in the distance. Totally worth the hike up! The kids LOVED it!

After the hike, we headed to the party space half a mile away for some pizza, small bites, and of course cupcakes! In a previous post, I shared about a DIY doormat I created to greet our arriving guests. Welcome happy campers!

The majority of the party design and decor was incorporated in the party space, which was the perfect size and layout for our group! The kids played in the main party room while the parents had the option of also hanging out in the adjacent lounge area.

As with all of my parties, I start my planning with a focal piece (aka the main party table). I was inspired by super cute camping style wrapping paper by Averie Lane that I spotted at a local makers market. I knew framing these sheets would help “fill” the table in both directions, horizontally and vertically. When I saw the black and white buffalo check pattern, I fell in love with it! It is on trend and immediately incorporated that pattern into the design palette. The party colors were: black, white, various shades of green, and brown.

 

 

Party planning can get expensive so if you can get some stuff for free, dooooo it! For example, in December when we bought our Christmas tree, I picked up leftover cut tree slices in various shapes and sizes. On our frequent neighborhood walks, I gathered pinecones. All of these were great pieces that brought a nature element to the party decor!

 

 

One of my crafting goals this year was to learn how to make and decorate with royal icing. I don’t normally make cookies without a reason so this was the perfect (and also a little risky) opportunity to try it! Luckily, they turned out pretty good! I used Wilton’s Moss Green gel food coloring for the #5 cookies. With leftover royal icing, I added little dots which created a fun textural look. To carry the buffalo check pattern, I painted horizontal and vertical stripes using Wilton’s Black gel food coloring mixed with vanilla extract. Pretty and tasty cookies! Check that one off my crafting bucket list!

 

 

For the kids’ table, I kept the decor simple because A) the kids will undoubtedly make a mess within 7.32 seconds of sitting down and B) we would be doing a craft later and didn’t want to crowd the table space. I had the light bulb idea of having my printer print animal tracks on a table runner (cut from a $1.50 Michaels’ kraft paper roll) but alas, I am just full of great ideas that just aren’t possible. Apparently my printer can only print sheets, not rolls. LAME. Well, I ain’t letting that stop me in my tracks (ha!), so I grabbed a Sharpie and black markers and colored in my own animal footprints! Take that HP Officejet printer!

 

 

Sometimes the simplest decor pieces are made with stuff already found at home! I saw these cute paper tents on Pinterest and with the help of my handy hot glue gun, I glued a piece of scrapbook paper to trimmed bamboo skewers. So simple and totally fits the theme!

I have two Tolsby frames from Ikea that is seen used all the time for events and weddings. It’s a great way to provide information like menu items or table numbers and pull in theme elements. In this case, I didn’t have anything important to share with the guests. They are kids 5 years old and under after all! And they can’t even read! Ha! I used the frames as a way to pull in theme colors and another excuse to repeat the logo.

 

 

Last but not least, the party favors! I try to focus on this piece a lot for kid parties primarily because it’s very common to get goodie bags with party store items that I end up throwing away after a month. Confession: I have thrown away some favors right after getting home from the party. T-shirt party favors is actually the first thing that popped to mind for Ethan’s party. I think it’s because it’s all I remember from going to tons of summer camps as a kid. Shirts are from Jiffyshirts.com, which has a great selection, the best pricing, and fast shipping! I will definitely use them again. My Silhouette CAMEO cut out the decals which I then ironed onto the shirts.

While the kids didn’t wear these during the party despite my husband’s request, we did pass these out as kids headed out from the party. Again, I reused the mountain logo with a little modification and added “Camp Ethan” in very tiny font on the side of the mountain. I’m hoping these will last for awhile until the kids outgrown them!

All in all, this might be my favorite birthday party I’ve thrown for my kids. Loved being outdoor with Ethan and his buddies! Happy 5th Birthday E!! We can’t wait to see all the awesome things you do this year!

 

In DIY, Home Decor, Silhouette on
January 29, 2018

Craft Night No. 2 – Word of the Year Wreath

 

Wow, my 2018 started off with a bang! This month has been full of new incredible experiences and I am now catching my breath from all the birthday celebrations for my 5-year-old. Yes, you read that right…plural…we had 5 straight days of singing happy birthday, from his preschool pals to a mariachi band at a local Mexican restaurant. I’m not quite sure how we are going to top this birthday!

Earlier this month, a sweet friend of mine opened up a beautiful store called Gather & Grace that is geared towards mothers and children offering children play and craft classes during the day, parenting support classes, and moms’ night out gatherings in the evening. Annnnd that brings us to Craft Night No. 2!

I don’t know about you but making AND keeping New Year resolutions is nearly impossible. It puts too much stress on what to do and not to do and feels like a set of rules. For the past two years, I have chosen to instead focus on a Word of the Year. 2016 was “Treasure” and 2017’s word was “Focus,” both of which really helped ground me, especially since I’m easily distracted with my wandering thoughts and ideas. Having a Word of the Year gave each year a purpose and meaning. So why not make a craft project that can be a beautiful reminder of our goals and hopes for the new year?

Hoops are all the rage right now so it was a no-brainer to incorporate that element! The ripped fabric strip is the perfect place to display the chosen Word, which was cut out of black matte heat transfer vinyl and ironed on. Lastly, add a trio of paper flowers as well as paper greenery in various shades of green (to create color variation) and you’ve turned a basic embroidery wooden hoop into a statement piece wreath!

Leading a group of women through the exercise of finding their Word and showing them how to make their own wreath was incredibly fun and rewarding! Everyone left feeling so empowered not only in their Word but also in their crafting abilities. I truly believe we are ALL capable of being creative! I mean, we all played with scissors and glue as children right?! So it’s not that foreign as people might think/feel! Much of this craft was simply curling and manipulating paper petals/stems and gluing. The best part was assembling the pieces together and seeing how beautiful and unique each person’s wreath turned out! I hope their Words help make 2018 their best year yet!

 

 

In DIY, Home Decor, Silhouette on
January 18, 2018

DIY Door Mat Using Freezer Paper Stencil

Any crafter or just anyone have something on their (craft) bucket to-do list for over a year but never get around doing it? Yup, my hand is raised. I have had this project in mind for over a year and I finally got around to making it and LOVED how it turned out! Yay, go me! Time to celebrate with a ginormous slice of Trader Joe’s Chantilly Cream Vanilla Bean Mini Sheet Cake. Since I just mentioned it, have you guys had that cake? It is a-m-a-z-e-balls. Confession: I literally ate it straight out of the tray last time. This way, it was all mine. Hubs is not interested in sharing germs during crazy flu/cold season. #worksforme

Why do I often digress when I talk about food?? I truly think it’s the sixth love language.

So, back to my latest project! As usual, my projects are spurred on by a necessity or an event, which in this case is my son’s upcoming 5th birthday party! The theme is camping/great outdoors/hiking/adventure/all of the above. I tend to have a broad theme when it comes to party planning so that I’m not stuck to a specific design/look. It gives me the flexibility to create a general appearance than trying to achieve the perfect look. Because when you can’t achieve the perfect look, it just looks poorly done.

You might be wondering what my kiddo’s birthday party has to do with a DIY doormat. Well! We are first going on an outdoor adventure hiking a local trail/canyon and returning to an event space owned by one of my dear friends. Her shop opened just a few days ago and this themed doormat will hopefully help keep the dirt out of her beautiful store. Ya never know with a bunch of preschoolers!!

If you have been thinking about making a DIY doormat, DO IT! Trust me, I waited too long and now can’t wait to make more…except I personally don’t need to make more. The steps are easy and I’ll detail them below. It’s also super easy on the wallet. As of today, my local Ikea store was selling the TRAMPA doormat for $5.99 versus the regular price of $9.99. It took a lot of self-control to say NO to my FOMO(of a good deal) condition. I wanted to grab a bunch. I mean, they could be good Valentine’s Day gifts, right? 🤔

Wanna know how to make your OWN doormat?? Read on!

Here’s what you need:

  • Doormat
  • Outdoor acrylic paint in black (or whatever color you want)
  • Old artist round paintbrush. The older/stiff the bristles, the better. Some folks use stencil brushes like this one.
  • Freezer paper (trimmed to measure 12in x 24in)
  • Measuring tape
  • Silhouette CAMEO
  • Silhouette 12in x 24in cutting mat
  • Pins. I used corsage pins that I already had in my home.
  • Iron

For my particular project, I used Silhouette Design Store Design ID#146726 by Sophie Gallo. Isn’t her design just perfect for the occasion? Not to mention, the typography is so on point!

To make your own doormat, follow these steps:

  1. In Silhouette Studio, under Page Setup panel, edit your page size to 12in width and 24in length. Also select the appropriate cutting mat size (12in x 24in)
  2. Either create your own design or bring in a downloaded design. TIP: I suggest using a measuring tape to see roughly how large you want your design to be on the doormat.
  3. Resize your design as-needed in Silhouette Studio.
  4. Place your freezer paper down on the cutting mat (shiny side down). Press firmly throughout to make sure the paper is secured to the cutting mat.
  5. Send to Silhouette. Many swear by Blade Depth 1, Speed 3, and Force/Thickness 2. I think I had an older blade so I adjusted my cut settings to the following: Blade Depth 2, Speed 3, Force/Thickness 10. TIP: I highly suggest a Test Cut before cutting out your entire design.
  6. Once cut, carefully remove the freezer paper “stencil” from the cutting mat. For now, don’t worry about any loose pieces (aka the ones that go “inside” letters, such as A or O).
  7. Place the main stencil piece on top of your doormat where you would like it to be. Press down lightly with the palm of your hand. Freezer paper will lightly adhere to the doormat.
  8. Remove the loose pieces from cutting mat and place on top of the doormat in the appropriate spots.
  9. IMPORTANT STEP: Make sure you like how your stencil looks on your mat.
  10. With a hot iron, gently press down and the freezer paper will temporarily stick to the doormat. If you need to make any adjustments, simply lift, adjust, and iron again.
  11. For the tiny loose pieces, use pins to secure it to the mat. TIP: I suggest using at least two pins per loose piece.
  12. Now we paint! Place a large dollop of paint on a blank spot on your stencil. Don’t worry, paint won’t bleed through.
  13. Start dabbing paint over the stencil and be careful around the small pinned paper pieces. NOTE: do not paint/brush, DAB in a vertical motion. You can go over the same spot to get better paint coverage.
  14. When you’re done, while the paint is still wet, peel off the freezer paper stencil and you now see a beautiful, professional-looking, and customized doormat!

 

So now that you know how to make one, what would you put on YOUR doormat?

 

By /
In DIY, Home Decor on
January 1, 2018

Free Indeed

 

Hello 2018! I don’t know about you but I personally am excited for the next 365 days!

At the start of every new year, I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders. Not that any of my troubles have suddenly disappeared but I feel like life hit the reset button, which is especially needed after the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Last year was an incredible journey of self-discovery and self-trust. This year, I’m ready to hone in on the parts that matter most. The stuff that makes me smile from within and feel light and free.

Fittingly, the theme this year at MOPS International is Free Indeed. While I thought I had a lot of “free” time last year given my “sabbatical,” my time still became filled with obligations, to-do’s, etc. It took me awhile to realize that I am in charge of my freedom and saying “no” to certain things wasn’t enough. I needed to do specific things my heart longed for so that my soul could be physically/mentally/spiritually/emotionally nourished thus making me feel free.

Over the holidays, I had some down time (thanks to getting a head start with Christmas gifts!) and tried something new, something on my crafting bucket list if you will. It was originally supposed to be an ornament but I think I’ll keep it on my craft space’s vision wall. It will be a good reminder of how to live free indeed.

If you’re interested in making this, you totally should because it’s super easy and can be done while watching a movie.

Supplies Needed:

  • Embroidery Hoop
  • Embroidery Floss. I used DMC #3820 (gold) and #561 (seagreen). Colors chosen to match the MOPS’ Free Indeed theme colors.
  • White Fabric (cut a circular piece that is about 4in wider than the inner hoop’s diameter)
  • Needle
  • Scissors
  • Craft Felt. Any color you would like. It is used for the backside of the hoop for a clean look (aka to help hide all the messy threads). Cut a circular piece that is the same size as the inner embroidery hoop’s diameter
  • Glue Gun
  • Pencil
  • Embroidery Pattern. I created mine in Illustrator (set to same size as the inner embroidery hoop).

Here are the basic steps:

  1. Print out your embroidery pattern on regular copy paper.
  2. Place it under the fabric (centered) and lightly trace design onto fabric with a pencil.
  3. Center traced pattern fabric over inner embroidery hoop and secure outer embroider hoop around it.
  4. As you tighten the embroidery hoop screws, pull the fabric taut as necessary while ensuring design is still centered.
  5. Once tightened, you can begin sewing. For this project, I separated the embroidery floss and used one strand at a time.
  6. Once embroidery is complete, flip over the hoop and sew the excess fabric together. See this great blog post with pictures for clarification, specifically the 2nd and 3rd pictures.
  7. For the last step, I simply hot glue gun the circular felt piece over the cinched fabric. And that’s it!

 

What are you going to do this year to help you be free indeed? Whatever it is, it will be well worth it! You won’t regret it!

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