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My heart exploded with happiness when my three-year-old daughter said, “I want to ‘crapbook!”

I had sent Jennifer McGuire an email telling her a funny story about how V avidly watches her videos and how much she’d been paying attention and learning from them.  She replied by saying that my note made her day–and added that she would love to send my daughter some crafting supplies!!  I was floored.

I was floored again when I opened the package Jennifer sent.  It was stuffed with gorgeous embellishments, a few small stamp sets, and even a 6×6 paper pad!  My daughter was absolutely thrilled as she looked through everything, and I think it just fueled her excitement when I told her that we were going to make a box for just her craft supplies.  (And yes, I promised never to use them myself without V’s explicit permission!)

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The first thing we did when we got down to the craft room was to make a thank-you card for Jennifer.  V chose aqua blue ink (it’s her favorite color) to stamp the robot, and added washi tape to decorate.  She was reluctant to add more embellishments–I think V didn’t want to use them all up (apparently craft hoarding tendencies are inherent, or at least inherited, ha!). I persuaded her to add rhinestones only after I got out some of my own for her to use (ha!).

Thank you card for Jennifer

Inside, I wrote, “thank you” and “Vivian” for you to trace.  I added my own note later.

Thank you card for Jennifer

Thank you card for Jennifer

And then she wanted to scrapbook!!

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I flew upstairs to print a photo.  V chose all of her supplies throughout the process.  I was in charge of adhesive and tearing strips of washi tape, but V placed and stuck down everything herself.  Look at that layering!!  When V decided to add a star clip, and I helped her to slide it on.  For the journaling, I wrote down what V answered when I asked her to tell me about what was going on in the pictures.  We added chipboard letters for a title.  V helped me to spell it (“What letter makes a “k” sound?”), and I arranged the letters in order on the table so that V could place them onto the layout once I’d added adhesive to the back.  When V decided to add some sequins, I was stumped for a moment about how we were going to deal with 3-year old fingers handling miniscule pieces coated with liquid adhesive!   But then I realized that she could make a dot with a pencil, and I could place the sequins for her.  Last of all, V stamped the date of the photos.

Vivian's first scrapbook page

Vivian's first scrapbook page

Vivian's first scrapbook page

I tried really hard to let my daughter do all the decision making for the design without making too many suggestions.  She did the vast majority of the work, and I am so proud of her resulting layout!  I am so exhilarated that V is interested in a hobby that I love so much!  In fact, for Easter, she received an 8×8 album in her Easter basket, as well as a pair of rounded-tip scissors, and we’ve made a couple more pages to add to her album already!

Ever since she was much smaller, I have watched scrapbooking and card-making videos with my daughter at lunchtime.  It gave me a bit of a break from talking so that I could eat, and it was entertainment for both of us.  V has absorbed a lot of technique just by watching (she actually attempts to apply the techniques when she watercolors and stamps!).  Recently, we watched a video by Jennifer McGuire that shows a technique for coloring stamped and embossed images with pigment inks.  You use your finger to apply and blend the colors…and as I watched the video with V, I realized that I had everything I needed for us to try it ourselves.

The next chance I got, I stamped and embossed a number of images that lent themselves to coloring.  A little bit later, V and I sat down at the table with my collection of pigment inks and we “finger colored!”

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I didn’t have any particular project in mind, but I knew that I could make some cards in the future with the colored pieces.  I just had a great time coloring with my girl!

Shortly afterward, a friend of mine had a birthday, and it was the perfect opportunity to use one of my colored images on a card.

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I’ve had this “engraved flower” stamp from Hero Arts for a number of years now, and until now I didn’t have a way to color it that met my satisfaction!  I love this technique: it gave me the beautiful blending I hoped for without me having to buy expensive markers or other supplies.  Hooray!

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I finished off this simple design with a doily (how could I resist!) and a little bow made from crochet thread.

I’m continuing our challenge from 2013 and 2014 to make at least one new recipe from some of our newer cookbooks each month.  There’s a category on the blog for these posts called “recipe review 2015.”

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Recipe: Skillet Jambalaya from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2013, (page 59)

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  • when did we make this? Wednesday, April 1, 2015, for supper.
  • did we change anything?  Nope.
  • what did we like?  Husband loved it! Even though it took a long time to make this recipe, it really was very simple to execute.  I liked it well enough–especially the shrimp.  I even tried the andouille sausage (and if you know me, you know that’s a big deal, because sausage is on my no-thanks list), and I thought it was decent (if it weren’t so hot, I actually would have liked it).  
  • what didn’t we like?  Our rice didn’t get cooked through, so it was kind of crunchy.  Not sure how this happened, but I will definitely make sure it gets more done the next time!
  • will we make it again (any changes in the future)?  I know Husband loved this meal, so I’ll definitely make it again for him in the future.

 

I’m continuing our challenge from 2013 and 2014 to make at least one new recipe from some of our newer cookbooks each month.  There’s a category on the blog for these posts called “recipe review 2015.”

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Recipe: Spring Vegetable Pasta from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2013, (pages 249-250)

ATK Spring Vegetable Pasta

(photo from before we added our own Parmesan)

  • when did we make this? Monday, March 30, 2015, for supper.  Asparagus is in season!!
  • did we change anything? I halved the recipe, and I used medium/small shells because I didn’t have campanelle.  I also used chicken stock because I didn’t have vegetable stock on hand.
  • what did we like?  The flavors are fresh and incredible.  Truly like spring in a bowl!  I also loved the new technique for cooking the pasta, and the fact that the asparagus ends and leek tops were used to enrich the stock– it felt like I was really using up that produce (Don’t you hate feeling like you’re throwing so much away normally?).  
  • what didn’t we like?  Nothing :)
  • will we make it again (any changes in the future)?   YES!  This is going to be on my mind whenever asparagus comes into season.

 

I dipped my toe back into paper-crafting to make this card!  I haven’t done much with my paper supplies recently (what with the quilt and the backpack…), but when a scrapbook-y friend of mine had a birthday coming up, I knew I wanted to try and make her a handmade card.  It took me longer than it should have because I am so out of practice, but I think it turned out pretty nice :)  Now I am itching to get my hands into scrapbook layouts again, even more!!

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I hope she liked it!

The card is made of bits and pieces from my stash–including a doily!  The striped decorative tape is from Bella Boulevard, the polka dot tape is from Michaels (Recollections brand, I think), the pearls are from Queen and Co., and the stamp is Jillibean Soup.  

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Our family recently took a trip that meant we were in a plane for several hours.  I wanted to have plenty to keep our three-year-old busy.

It started out because I wanted her to have a little booklet to color in and stick stickers…a store-bought notebook would have been sufficient!  But as I thought about it, the idea expanded (of course!)!  I was out doing some errands and saw some items that were branded with some of V’s favorite characters. It popped into my mind to include some coloring pages, and then my mind was off and running.

I decided to share a little tutorial for making one of these booklets.  It is designed to hold 8.5″ x 11″ sheets folded in half.

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You will need:

  • Your 8.5″ x 11″ inserts: two “pages” on each side of a landscape-oriented sheet
  • Sturdy cardstock cut to 12″x9″ for inner cover
  • Patterned paper cut to 11.5″x8.5″ for outer cover
  • Strong adhesive
  • Sewing machine
  • Ruler and pencil
  • Additional cardstock/patterned paper for pocket (optional)
  • Corner rounder (optional)
  • Embellishments (optional)

(I was making this book late at night and decided at the last minute to record the steps for a tutorial, so please excuse the poorly white-balanced photos.  I did my best to correct the color, but I think they convey the steps nonetheless.)

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1.  Gather the pages into sections.

My booklet includes five sections: two sections of coloring pages: the .pdf file with the princesses is found HERE, and I found the character coloring sheets by doing an image search on “[character] free coloring pages.”  To get these .jpg images two to a page, I imported the single images into Lightroom, ran them through a printing preset I created and printed them to (.jpg) files.  Then in Windows Explorer, I selected all of the resulting files and printed them together, selecting duplex printing with the “stapling on the short side.”  Hopefully that makes sense if you want to attempt something similar.  (I include it here mostly for my own future reference).

I also made two sections of plain paper and one section of lined paper so my girl can practice writing letters.

Fold the 8.5″x11″ pages in half, short sides together.  I have heard this called a “hamburger” style fold.

2.  Round the corners of the cover pieces (optional). 

I decided that the booklet might stay tidier-looking if there weren’t pointy corners to smoosh.

3.  Mark lines for stitching sections on the sturdy cardstock inner cover. 

First, mark the center line on the inner cover.  I also marked lines with 1/8″ spacing on either side of this line for the other four sections.  The extra lines aren’t strictly necessary, but I found that stitching the book was a bit easier and tidier when they were marked.

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4.  Stitch the page sections onto the sturdy cardstock.

Starting with the middle section, line up the fold and the line on the cardstock.  Using a basting stitch length and an old needle (paper dulls a good needle!), start and end just inside the edges of the pages.  This way the stitching will be entirely hidden by the outer cover.  Stitch the other sections by aligning them with the other lines.  Pull the thread ends toward the outside of the cover.  They will be covered in the next step.

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5.  Adhere the outer cover to the inner cover.

Add your strong adhesive across the thread ends (to make sure they don’t come undone) and to the FRONT cover only.

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Smooth the outer cover onto the inner cover, then fold the book closed, add adhesive to the back and wrap the outer cover to the back.

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6.  Add pocket(s).  (This idea was sparked by THIS post on the Gossamer Blue blog)

To make two pockets, I cut a 6″x7.5″ rectangle and cut it on the diagonal.  I scored and folded the 90* sides at 0.5″  and trimmed out the excess in the corners.  Add strong adhesive along the folded edges to adhere it inside one of the covers.  I found that it was tricky to slide extra paper into these pockets because it was catching on these edges, so I added a panel of paper to smooth out the back of the pocket.

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7.  Embellish the front of the book (optional).

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Here are some shots of the insides of the finished activity books.

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So, I’ve been wanting to make a backpack for my daughter for a while now.  Twice each week, we go to Bible study, and she was over-the-moon excited when I got out an old, old, old Jansport backpack of mine (middle school? High school?) for her to carry her things (“It’s like I’m going to school, Mommy!!”).  The problem is that it is so old that the seam allowances started to shred and were was catching in the zipper.  

I told myself that I would work on it once the quilt was finished.  But just as I finished the quilt top, I realized we had a plane trip coming up, and I wanted her to have a good bag for it.  

I thought about going an easier route and making a messenger bag, but the more I thought about it, the more I really wanted to do an actual backpack.  With a front pocket.  Zippers.  The whole shebang.  

Pinterest to the rescue: I found some fantastic tutorials!  I first found THIS cute one at “Crazy Little Projects,” which really helped me to visualize the steps for its construction. I loved that it was a lined bag, and I used her method for inserting the main zipper.  Reading the comments led me to another post, which linked to another series of posts starting HERE, at the Uniquety blog.  These posts added more details, including a front pocket, which I think makes the backpack look even more “store-bought.”  Bingo!  

It took some time for me to work out my pattern and fit all the pieces on my fabric.  All along, I’d intended to use an old pair of Husband’s jeans for the outer fabric, and it took almost every scrap of them to piece together the outer bag.  I also had a pair of shorts of mine that had a broken closure–is saved them because the pockets were just so cute.  I cut them up to make the front pocket (from the back pocket of the shorts) and add pockets to the gusset (smaller pockets from the front of the shorts).

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Of course, I had to embellish even further.  I broke out the embroidery attachment to my sewing machine to add a butterfly to the outside of the bag.  The denim pocket inside (sized to hold V’s Leap Pad) is embroidered with her name.  Just above the denim pocket is a zipper pocket to hold small items (like the game cartridges for the Leap Pad) safely.

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The lining of the bag is also repurposed fabric!  A number of years ago, I wrote a blog post about the buttonholer for my sewing machine for the Sew Mama Sew! blog.  They kindly sent me a yard of this beautiful cotton.  After a while, I got brave and cut into it to make a pajama top, but it was an unfortunate choice: the shape was totally unflattering.  I couldn’t bring myself to toss it, so I saved it… It was the perfect amount of fabric to line this bag and the pockets, and I used 3/4″ strips to make a fake piping to edge the outer bag.  

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Oh yeah, and I made a mistake when I put the outer gusset together, so I came up short by a few inches.  I inserted a quilted section of the orange fabric, which turned out even cuter in the end!

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I had all of the materials on hand except the zippers, webbing, and strap buckles.  I also purchased some threads for my machine embroidery.  I spent less than $12 for new supplies.

I am so incredibly proud of this backpack.  It was one of those projects that took over my brain and made me breathless with excitement as I developed the plan.  

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