Baby Hack

So Ali Does It has never been a parenting/mommy blog, and it’s not my intention to become one. For one thing, I know nothing about parenting. I am totally winging it. But I do have a kid now, and sometimes things come up that are useful for me because I have a kid, so you’ll see them on the blog. But I’ll try not to overload you too much with that stuff.

For various reasons, we don’t have a change table in LongJohn’s room and we change him on the floor. This was our setup for a while, with a portable change pad overtop a mattress pad, with a burp cloth added for softness. Ghetto, I know, but it worked. Except that when LongJohn peed on me (he is a boy after all), the pee would run up his back and into his hair and I didn’t like that overly much.

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I have this dog bed left over from back when we were doing Gren’s rehab training – it never really suited our purposes so we didn’t use it, and it was just kicking around. It has a nonskid backing and is nice and cushy without being too soft. Plus it washes well in the machine. Perfect.

Change Mat Hack 1

I cut it in half.

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And used some of my grosgrain ribbon to finish the raw edge on both sides.

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Don’t judge my stitchery. I’m not even sorry to be bad at sewing.

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Then I grabbed some vinyl leftover from way back when I made lunchbags (yeah, that was a long time ago). LongJohn helped me cut it out (you can see how long this project took me by how much he grows in the photos in this post).

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I hemmed along two sides of it, because LongJohn is really kicky and I didn’t want him to cut himself on the sharp edge.

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And I attached snaps to all four corners of the vinyl and then the underside of the mat.

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Then I snapped it on and here we go! The vinyl ends where the baby’s shoulders go, preventing pee from getting into the hair, which is key. The vinyl itself is easily wipeable, and unsnaps so you can put the mat in the washing machine. Because the snaps are on the underside of the mat, there’s no chance that tiny fingers can find them to undo them. The other mat I finished the edge and I used it as a playmat for LongJohn until he outgrew it.

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There’s LongJohn in situ to give you an idea of what it looks like in action. This was taken so long ago that now his legs extend far past the mat – but it still works great!

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Modding the Mom Hat

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I hope you all enjoyed your Canada Day/Independence Day long weekend! And if you didn’t get to celebrate a national holiday this weekend then I hope at least it was sunny where you were. Speaking of sun, I bought this hat at IKEA last summer for 99 cents. It is great to wear to baseball games to protect my pasty white skin.

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Now I’ve discovered that it’s also a fantastic wearable parasol for LongJohn (so named because he’s a lanky albatross like his dad) when I’m wearing him out and about.

MomHat 1

The problem is that in a good breeze the parasol becomes a parasail and I lose the darned thing. It’s very hard to chase down a hat while wearing a baby. So I need to make some modifications to keep the thing on my head, and while I do that, I might as well have some fun with it, right? With that in mind, I dug out a huge pink grosgrain ribbon.

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I cut it to match the band around the hat. I set that aside for the moment.

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Then I took two more pieces and wove them into the inside of the band, for straps to tie coquettishly around my chin. I felt very much like a Jane Austen character, dressing a bonnet, while I was doing this.

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Tied off the ends to prevent fraying.

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And then decided I needed a feather in my cap.

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And because it was Pride Week in Toronto (Ottawa’s isn’t until August and it’s much more low key), I decided to put a rainbow of feathers in my cap.

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I wound them together with some wire.

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Used a bit of hot glue to ensure they stayed that way.

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Then wove the wire end into the hat to fix the feathers in place.

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And I managed to do all of this while still wearing LongJohn.

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Then I glued the first piece of ribbon around the band, leaving room for the hat to expand as it gets squashed on my head.

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And I took another piece of grosgrain, this one in black, and fashioned a rosette out of it.

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The rosette fit nicely on top of the feathers, hiding the wire machinations.

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Tada, my Mom Hat that I can wear with Pride!

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A Simple Guest Book

Guestbook 21We’re having a bit of a shindig in a couple weeks to celebrate my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary and Atlas recommended that we set up a guest book for attendees to reminisce in written form. The problem is that most guest books you find in stores are like fifty bucks and they also contain about four hundred more pages than you really need. Then the people who receive the book don’t know what to do with this half-empty journal they have. Guestbook 2

So I thought I’d make a smaller version by hand for the occasion, just a couple dozen large pages for people to scrawl their congratulations, and then it will be a slim little volume that can be tucked away with the wedding album once the day is over.

I started with some basic supplies: coloured cardstock for the interior pages and patterned cardstock for the exterior, a paper cutter, hole punch, ribbon, washi tape, and a decorative punch for the corners. Obligatory corgi butt in photo as well.

Guestbook 1The pastel cardstock I had was already 8″ x 8″ so I left that as is. Guestbook 3

After I’d gotten everything sorted the way I wanted it, Gren came over to take a closer look.

Guestbook 4Then he got tired so he had to lie down. Guestbook 5

Then I told him to move because he was lying on my stuff.

Guestbook 6So he flattened out further. Because he’s kind of a jerk. Guestbook 7

In the end, *I* moved and started punching holes in the pastel cardstock.

Guestbook 8Then I decided on a cover (conveniently this paper is double-sided so the opposite page has a complementary pattern as well). Guestbook 9

I wove the interior pages together with a piece of ribbon and tied it off in the centre.

Guestbook 10Added my cover pages, which were cut slightly larger than the interior, and a spine made of the opposite page of the cover. Guestbook 11

Then I started taping everything together with the washi tape. I chose the tape because it was partly transparent, but with enough colour so you’d notice it.

Guestbook 13I folded back the pages of the interior just to get them more flexible for use. Guestbook 14

And then shoved the interior pages into the exterior cover. I made a hole in the spine for the ends of my ribbon, which I tied in a bow on the outside.

Guestbook 15Then I continued my taping. Guestbook 16

It looks a little messier on the inside but it did the trick.

Guestbook 17Guestbook 18

Guestbook 19I punched the corners of all the pages to make them pretty. Guestbook 22

And added a few rubber stamped flowers to match the theme of the party.

Guestbook 23Tada. Guestbook 20

Matchbox Gifts

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My mother is absolutely obsessed with match boxes and the things you can put in them, so I kind of had a lightbulb moment when trying to figure out a present for her birthday last week (normally I handle the cake but this year my dad insisted that he had it under control). If you have a mother with a similar fetish, maybe this will work out for you for a nice Mother’s Day present.

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For my mother’s wee giftie, it was just a silly little thing: I decided to give her MAGIC BEANS. But instead of magic beans it was actual bean seeds that she could plant shortly in the garden. And then we could eat the beans. I also gave her some rosemary seeds because I killed her rosemary tree while she was in Florida.

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I love these little tiny glass jars you can get at the dollar store.

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Don’t worry, I DID label all the little jars.

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I decided to make a matchbox from scratch so I could ensure it was the right size to fit my beans. In order to do that I downloaded a template from the internet. I cut it out and used scrapbook paper (it’s a decently stiff cardstock) for my boxes.

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I used a craft knife to get things exact, but it’s a pretty easy template to cut out.

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Then a little bit of strategic adhesion with craft glue.

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And the beans, they fit! They’re a little loose though.

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So I padded the bottoms of the boxes with a bit of felt.

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I broke this photo. It’s okay, though, because it wasn’t a very good one anyway.

 

Then tied up both boxes with pretty ribbon to give to my favourite mother!

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Match boxes (even custom-made ones) are a great creative way to package up smaller gifts of jewelry or what-have-you. Keep that in mind the next time you’re doing some complex wrapping and you don’t have a perfect box to hand.

Buckle Book

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Here’s another pair of presents I made for Rosa and General Zod at Christmas (they’re only four months apart in age so I can get away with getting them the same thing for a while). It’s a good little distraction to take along with you in the car or at the doctor’s office or wherever you have to sit in one place for a while.

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You will need some fabric for the inside of your little book and some for the outside. I used a quilted red cotton (from the Pie’s caddy) as the interior and a thick denim for the cover. I originally planned to use velcro to keep the book closed, which is why it’s in this shot, but I ended up going in a different direction.

Buckle Book 2

You will also need assorted notions for sticking inside the book: zippers, ribbon, beads, buckles, snaps, and I even picked up a jewelry chain I thought might be of interest. Some of this stuff I picked up at the dollar store and other bits I scavenged from my mother’s sewing room.

Buckle Book 1

I strung some plastic pony beads onto some narrow ribbon.

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I realized after I planned everything out that I had red zippers on a red background, which wasn’t particularly appealing, so I grabbed a contrasting cotton to slide in underneath.

Buckle Book 3

So this is everything laid out as I want it in my “book” (which is more like a scroll, if we’re being honest).

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Now it’s just a matter of pinning.

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And sewing it all into place. Make sure you sew it on securely – toddlers can destroy pretty much anything.

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Time to put a backing on it. This is a general idea of how it will roll up.

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There was more pinning, and more sewing. I even mitred the corners, which I learned how to do a few Christmases back.

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Then I added on a wide grosgrain ribbon that would tie it shut and was also long enough that you can tie it around a chair back or car seat so it doesn’t go anywhere.

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Here’s the ribbon loop.

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The finished interior’s got zippy zippers.

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And slide-y beads.

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And slinky chains and clicky buckles.

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And snappy snaps.

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And all wrapped up!

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Coordinating My Crafty Crap: The Ribbon Box

The Pie and I are in the market for a house.  Whee, I know, very exciting.  We haven’t yet found said house, however, and thusly we are still essentially living out of boxes in two rooms in the upper corner of my parents’ house.  Because it’s probably going to be a while until we find this unicorn of a house, I think it’s probably time I did a little unpacking.

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So this:

Ribbon Box 1

That’s the shelf upon which I am currently storing the piles of art and office supplies that I shoved into boxes back in August of 2013.  This shelf is also home to part of our board game collection.  So it’s haphazard and it’s ugly and I spend a good part of my crafty time digging through those large boxes trying to find the one thing I want and overlooking all the other great stuff I could also use, simply because I don’t see it.  Hence my new project of Coordinating My Crafty Crap 2014.  I’m not looking for a final matchy-matchy Pinterest-worthy organizational system for all my junk, but if I’m going to be here for a while yet I want to be able to sort out my garbage so I can see it and find it when I need it.  That’s the kind of organizational person I am: everything in its logical place.  It doesn’t have to be pretty, but it has to make sense to the person doing the organizing.  It’s going to be an ongoing project for me, as I try to figure out a system that works for me.

Today, we are taking baby steps, and attacking my ribbon “box.”  I put that in quotations because the last time I had a designated ribbon box it was so full it actually burst at the seams.  Then I moved, so in the interim the ribbons have all been tangled up in one of those cardboard boxes.  Well, today we are going to change that.  This is my ribbon collection.  Appalling, I know.

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There’s a bunch of stuff in there that isn’t even ribbon, like rick rack and bias binding.  And washi tape.  Tape goes in another box entirely, bub.

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But I do have a large number of ribbon scraps that I have saved off presents and packages and I hate to throw them away (because I ALWAYS come up with a use for them).

I’ve seen a number of projects where crafters use dowels to line up their spools of ribbon in baskets with convenient holes and everything is very Martha Stewart hunky-dory.  But most of my ribbons are not on spools and I don’t have any fancy pants baskets.  I do, however, have this lovely sturdy box, which held some of the accessories to a set of gaming headphones I gave the Pie as a wedding present.

Ribbon Box 2

I’ve kept the box because a) it’s lovely and sturdy and b) it has this shockingly fantastic orange interior.

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And then I also have a tube full of wooden dowels, which I picked up on sale at Michaels forever and a half ago.

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The dowels are ever-so-slightly longer than the box is wide.

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My plan is to cut them down so that they are flush with the inside edge of the box, meaning that I can put all my ribbons inside and still be able to shut the lid.

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So I carefully measured the dowel and used a teeny tiny hacksaw I found in my dad’s garage to trim them up.  I have since kidnapped said teeny tiny hacksaw and adopted it as my own.  I love tiny tools, and my dad’s hands are huge.  I don’t even know why he has it.

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Anyway, then I measured out where I wanted the dowels to go on the box.

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And used my teeny tiny hacksaw to cut down just to the level I wanted, which was about halfway (conveniently it was also where the double black layer started).

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I used a box cutter to cut along the bottom.  It was easier.

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My first dowel in the first slot.  And the teeny tiny hacksaw.

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You see how it’s flush with the edge of the box?

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Okay so the second dowel, I had some form of brain fart in the measuring, and it came out crooked.  But I’m not that fussy. With all the ribbons on you can barely notice.

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Once all the dowels and slots were cut (I have five dowels in there) it was time to deal with the ribbon.  I wound it around the dowel and fastened it with a little piece of tape just to keep it in place until I needed it.

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This took me a LONG time.  I have a lot of ribbon to work with.

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It was fun to do the stretchy lacy stuff.  I strung everything on sorted vaguely by type: all the lace together, the grosgrain all on one dowel, etc.

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I’m quite pleased with the result, and the lid fits on just fine.  I will be honest with you here: not all my ribbon fit on the dowels.

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I probably could have cut the box differently to fit in a sixth one, but the loose ribbon I have left is all in larger amounts that is easier to deal with.

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I’ll probably also adorn the outside with something appropriate, but probably not until we’ve moved into a place where I can put it more permanently. One step at a time, right?

Ribbon Box 22

Rainbow Heart Wreath

Valentine's Wreath 17

So, half the reason I’m having people for dinner on Friday is to spend the night with friends and all that mushy crap.  The other half is so that I can go all out on decorations so that I have bloggable activities for you.  So I hope you’re happy.

I’m actually not super happy with how this turned out, so I might try to do it again soon.  But it was super easy, so it’s not like it’s going to be hard.

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I happened to be in possession of a few pads of pastel rainbow coloured scrapbook paper (a thin cardstock thickness).  And I am not a scrapbooker.  That is a little intense even for me.  I also have this fancy schmancy new paper cutter that I got for Christmas, because neither the Pie nor my parents will trust me with a guillotine paper cutter (which, I must point out, is ridiculous, because I used to use one for a living and never cut myself, but anyway …).  I also have a stapler.  Nothing fancy about it, save perhaps that it is pink.  I’d tell you that it belongs to the Pie but that would be a falsehood.  It’s mine.  My pink stapler.  SURPRISE.

Valentine's Wreath 1

*Ahem* Anyway.  Each sheet of paper was 8″ square so that made my life easy.

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I sliced it into 1″ wide strips — see how the sheet is double-sided with two different colours?  I like that.

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Anyway, fold each strip in half, like so.

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Then bring the ends in towards each other.  You can just fasten the ends and the heart looks a little bit more pretty, but it’s not as structurally strong.

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So I brought the ends all the way into the fold, gave it a pinch …

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… and stapled it all together.

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And did that a bunch of times.

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While Grenadier ignored me.

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Or pretended to ignore me.

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I did it with a few more pieces of paper, 8 hearts per colour.  Gren subtly got closer and closer.

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Until, like the secret cat he actually is, he was lying on my hearts.  Well, he’s always got my heart in any case.

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By the time I’d finished with all the colours, he’d gotten bored and gone away again.

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So now I had these hearts, 48 in total.

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Can I make a wreath with 48 hearts?  Yes, but it looks terrible. And is gigantic.

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So I started putting them together in chains, like this.  I used plain clear adhesive tape for this.

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Very festive.  I didn’t pay attention to which inside-outside hearts were where and I like the non-pattern-ness of it.  Is that a word?

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This is how I wanted it to look originally, and this is all taped together in a lovely fashion.

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However as soon as I lifted it, it immediately collapsed under its own weight. Quel dommage!

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So I did a more compact version that mirrored the shape of the wee paper hearts themselves.  And taped the crap out of it so it would stay in the shape I wanted it to.

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I think there’s a little bit too much tape showing pretty much everywhere and the wreath bears a strong resemblance to a pretzel but it’s a start.

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***EDIT: So I tried again, with the same number of hearts, but this time I stapled them so they looked more conventional.  Then I used a hole punch to make a way to string them onto fishing twine.

Heart Garland 1

Heart Garland 2

And now I have a garland.  I kind of like it.

Heart Garland 3

Heart Garland 4

Forgive the pictures. The dining room is the darkest room in the house.