Monday, February 23, 2009

Election Day

I find it kind of Ironic that I spent 4 years studying Poli. Sci. yet feel complete and utter apathy towards our recent elections... can't stand hearing anything even remotely related to politics... that said I fulfilled my civil duty and voted... but what was really on my mind was a fun relaxing day with my family. We originally thought we'd go out and maybe have a picnic but the weather had other plans and ours were rained in.... That's when I turned my attention to a piece of "junk" I'd found the previous week...

While out walking with my daughter, a skeleton of a dolly cradle caught my eye and I thought I might be able to breathe some life into it... after all I've been thinking about getting my daughter one for awhile, she's just getting into the pretend/mothering/dolly liking stage.

This is what it looked like when I first brought it home.... no, not very impressive.... I agree

It definitely needed a coat of paint and I needed to make a base out of something. I decided to use some model cardboard I had lying around the house from old school projects. I cut two identical pieces and stapled them to the bottom of the frame with a staple gun. DH helped cut two pieces of scrap wood for reinforcement and nailed them in on top of the board. Next I painted the whole thing with two and a half coats of white paint.

No dolly cradle is complete without a mattress and bedding! so while the bed was drying I took to my sewing machine to make some custom made doll bedding. For a mattress I cut out a thin piece of foam a friend had saved for my creative purposes... and slip covered it in some pink with white polka dot flannel material salvaged from old pajamas. I used the same polka dot flannel to make a small pillow, stuffed with fiberfill and as the top side of the duvet. To add some more colour to the bedding I backed the duvet in some light blue striped cotton. For the front I added a scrap of vintage Ikea fabric and some ribbon trim, and a fabric heart (a freebie from a recent ebay fabric purchase). Easy peasy! all that during naptime!

Needless to say my daughter was delighted though she mistakenly thought the bed was for her.... I have had to remind her several times since that "this" bed is for the dollies.... and that she has her own... otherwise it's a great addition to our playroom and sparked a whole new game, tuck a doll in, rub her tummy and sing Numi Numi (never heard of Numi Numi? check it out here) till she falls a sleep, then walk around shushing everyone because "dolly's sleeping!!

Dolly hasn't commented but she appears rather comfortable...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A table for two

For my daughters first birthday I wanted to get her "toddler" presents that would take her into her second year and beyond so I suggested my parents get her a wooden table and chair set. They got her the Ikea Latt set which I'm sure many of you either own or have seen and contemplated buying. Ikea is a fantastic source of well designed and affordable children's furniture and decor, but things tend to be rather generic and instantly recognizable. That's why I love Ikea Hacker as a constant source of inspiration for what can be achieved using Ikea products and a little out of the box thinking. With that in mind I wanted to personalize our latt set and make it toddler crayon scribble proof. The Latt tabletop and chair seats are made of fiberboard and painted white, they claim to be wipeable but white and a box of crayolas don't mix very well and I didn't want to have to scrub it down everyday....

So I thought why not "reupholster" the top and and chairs with some cheery wipeable laminate.

To start I wanted to treat the wood, but am wary of using shellac or varnish on kids stuff because of the VOC's... so I decided to give it a little oil treatment using some natural olive lamp oil. I used a clean dry cloth to rub in the oil, two coats with a couple hours to let the oil absorb a little, which brought out a really nice sheen to the beech wood....

Next step was to "reupholster" the surfaces. I removed the table top and seats and covered them in laminated fabric (similar to oilcloth, a lot thinner though....). I used half a yard of Michael Miller Green Dandy Damask Laminate cotton. Half a yard was just enough, so your pieces need to be exact... pulled all corners taught and secured it with some double sided tape (do you see a recurring theme here?...) slid the top and seats back in, and voila!

I'm very happy with the finished product, the set really holds in own now and I love how nice and bright it looks, what do you think?

Zara Home Kids

Let me start by saying that I LOVE Zara! On many occasions I can be spotted wearing head to toe Zara, I love it for me, for my daughter, my hubby and I especially love Zara Home. Their catalogues are always superbly presented and I wish I could move into some of the sets! Unfortunately Zara Home has yet to reach our shores.... a fact that's hasn't prevented me from drooling over their catalogs though... If you dream it, it will come right?

Anyway every couple of months I check in on them to see if their new catalogue is out and lo amd behold Spring/Summer 2009 is here. Below are some of the highlights from their kids line.

I'm really having a thing for elephants and valises lately....

Love the painted crib!

I want a quilt like that....

Fab colour!

So when do I move in?

Not too hard to tell I've got a little girl eh?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


It's no surprise that kids love music and my daughter is no exception, she just loves making noise! of any kind; bells, maracas, wooden balls banged repeatedly (on my nice Ikea desk...) xylophone, drumsticks (curteousy of her DF), tamborine, pots and pans, wooden spoons, the works... at any given time walking by our house especially during meal prep time it might sound as if someone was auditioning for stomp! or Mayumana! and I guess that's what gets me through those sometimes window shattering sounds, who knows maybe oneday I'll be the proud mother of a performer/musician extraodinaire! oh yeah and a couple minutes of "peace" and "quiet"... we mothers really are strange creatures...

Lucky for me, at least with musical instruments there are plenty of manufacturers that choose wood over plastic. Plan Toys (our go to brand for affordable wooden toys) has a whole line of kiddy instruments made from their signature organic rubberwood. We have their xylophone and we love it! Design wise it has a really nice bentwood skeleton and painted wooden keys (water based dyes) and I love the companies Green outlook. My only complaint would be the quality of the notes (yes I know very nit picky it just a toy!) but the notes don't compare to your run of the mill metal key tones... or maybe that's just what I'm used to.

We've also invested in some fab wooden maracas and a jingle stick bell instrument, we picked up at The Forest in the Rananim mall in Raanana. A magical store (if you can call it that) occupying a large area on the -1 parking level. The Forest transports you away to the land of fairies, gnomes, knights, pirates, fairytales, fables, and fantasy and is a true feast for the senses. The staff is always "in character" costumes, antics and accents be it fairies or pirates. It's a rich treasure trove of collectibles, decor, toys, vintage items, and great music from around the world. Well worth the trip IMHO that is if your in the country... for those of you based in the US or elsewhere I found these and these that even look like the same manufacturer to me...

The Forest

When we aren't making music on our own we really enjoy listening to anything by Putumayo Kids. They are a fantastic company curating and compiling childrens tunes from all cultures and countries. Our current favorite is the Animal Playground CD that has me dancing and singing along to the likes of No more Monkeys produced with caribean flare by Asheeba and the soulful song Eagles by Terri Hendrix. To get a taste you can visit their website and listen to samples and watch videos.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Reduce Reuse Recycle

The three "R"s have been literally branded into my long term memory by a certain science teacher in gradeschool... I honestly doubt I'll ever forget the phrase... it does however take a little more to consciously live by it though....

We are a family of juice drinkers and carton tetra packs pile up pretty quickly in our home, being bulky they take up a lot of room in the trash and are far from bio degradable... We've found a fun way to reuse almost all of the cartons by turning them into playroom building blocks/bricks etc. This tip should actually be credited to my mom, she was a daycare principal for many years... and we had a whole wall of milk carton blocks!

These blocks are light weight and great for making towers, building forts and igloos, giant dominos, indoor bowling, you name it! and best off they're free!

You can make them out of juice or milk cartons. Start by cutting off the angled top creating an open ended block. Once you've rinsed the cartons with soapy water (to prevent icky sour milk smells) and let them dry thoroughly, take two cartons and push one all the way into the other to create one block! If you're feeling especially creative you can paint them, wrap them with funky paper or your childs drawings, or try filling some with a handful of dry rice, beans, or pasta to make a percussion instrument!

Now all we have to do is find a way to reuse those discarded tops... I'm open to ideas.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Learning to Knit!

I've been talking about it for months, I even had a quickie lesson from a seasoned pro, after collecting a nice sized amount of needles and how to's including watching many "How to" videos just like the one below Design Momma is finally on her way to knitting something.... at least it sort of looks like it could be something...

How about you? go on give it a try!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Get em' while you can!

I've just received notice that Beata over at Rosehip is back in business with some more Babushka dolls. We unfortunately missed out on the fun last time around so if you want one don't hesitate and get them while they last!

These are some of the beauties that'll be on sale starting tom. Friday the 13th at 9:00 am (Pacific Time) in her etsy store.

I just love these gorgeous dolls the colours are so inspiring and happy. I've blogged in the past about the Matroyshka/Babushka doll craze here, seems they're turning up everywhere and the trend is still going strong.... even though I've promised my DH that our nursery is "done" and that I'm perfectly happy with it just as it is I'm sure we could find room for just one...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Some for you and some for me...

If someone were to ask me if I think my daughter is spoiled the question would be an enthusiastic YES! I have vowed to spoil her silly with all of our time and the best of our assets. I want her to have everything I didn't and then some. It's funny because before she was born my husband and I were pretty sure how we'd fall into the roles of good cop bad cop, me being the bad cop. In theory I have a very straightforward, nononsense, strict, combat parenting, take no prisoners attitude... it has all but melted in face of those deep gorgeous dancing brown eyes... argh! works everytime! How do we balance wanting to give our children our all without setting our selves up for a downward spiral as they get older?

I recently read an interesting article on Babble about the invasion of plastic toys that's taken over most child raising homes. Believe me when I say that I hate!! stress HATE!! when it looks like a fisher price bomb has gone off in your living room! can't stand any of that cheap, plasticy, battery operated, made in china crap! I have wholeheartedly embraced a green, handmade, wooden, montessori inspired vision of what playthings should keep my little one entertained and interested. That philosophy carries over into the sheer volume of stuff I'd like to own as well as its child minded display and accessibility. We are lucky to have a large room designated as the play room but I feel it's important for my daughter to have representation in every room in the house, even if it's just a shelf here or a box of toys there. That said I think it's just as easy to get caught up in the green, eco freindly, montessori, waldorf, european made craze as it is with regular plastic toys and whoa it'll cost you! I'm the first to argue that it's better to buy one quality long lasting toy then 10 cheap ones but heck what happens when you covet the whole lot? As my daughter grows and matures each day I'm learning the very true adage about having children being a fantastic way to revisit your own childhood and indulging your inner child!

Just the other day I took a How is your inner child quiz and my results were

Your Inner Child Is Angry

You're not an angry person.
But when you don't get your way, watch out.
Like a very manipulative kid, you will get what you want.
Even if it takes a little kicking and screaming .....

he he he temper temper now we now where she gets it from...

There are definitely purchases that I've made for her that have a whole lot of "for me" and "I, love it!" mixed in like this Mouse and House playset from Pottery Barn I scored on ebay recently. I'm very guilty of staying up til some ungodly hour of the night to ensure that this set became mine! umm I mean Baby L's... just couldn't resist the crafty handmade look of it, and it's even better in person!

I guess the trouble with spoiling is discerning who exactly am I spoiling....

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Recession, the mother of all invention?

It's no news that we're facing some rough times in economies the world over and there has been a lot of talk about how the design community will adjust itself. In recent years designers have lost sight of the functionality of design and have embraced excess and extravagance with open arms. The world has changed though and it's time for designers to align themselves. We must put our egos aside and start thinking about responsible, functional, environmentally friendly, and affordable Design within reach (pun intended) , that is within the reach of you and me. Do we really need sofa's that cost $15,000? Some tough questions are in order, what can we live without? How will this choice affect the environment? What are the alternatives? Is this socially responsible? If your reading this blog you're probably a parent, I can't help but think what the world will be like when our children grow up and how it's our responsibility to do now whatever we can to ensure a safe, healthy, and stable future for them.

Mies van der Rohe and his peers were some of the greatest visionaries of the modern era, designing for the every-man. Form Follows function, Less is more go their mantras. There is a lot to be learned and reborn, how can we use cutting edge technology, recycled materials, no frills design, and local talent to design what we need. Tough times and cutbacks don't necessarily spell depressing design... It specifically at times like these that innovation and pure genius are born, it's time to get those old thinking caps working, lets step outside of the box and address what needs reworking, what could be revisited and what has been overseen?

I'm excited to see what other designers will come up with! and I'm no exception necessity has got me asking myself what I can forgo and what I can make myself. Now more than ever I walk around with one eye on anything that might boast some curbside appeal, just yesterday I found a old wooden doll cradle that had seen better days and I'm very excited to breathe some new life into something that would have otherwise made it's way to a landfill... Can't wait to delight my little toddler with the finished product.

What about you? has your design aesthetic or philosophy evolved since the onset of the recession?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Itchy fingers, can't stop that feeling!

The past couple months have found me quite busy with school and everyday family life. Nonetheless I've had many often unsuppressable urges to craft, sew, diy, u-name-it! I don't know how other crafters are but I'm not known for my patience... maybe it's being an eighties child and growing up in the fast commercial paced age of more, more, more and faster, faster, faster! anyway when I get my mind set on a project of any kind I really like to accomplish it within a couple hours, maximum a day! I can't think of anything more frustraing then getting all geared up to start something only to find your missing some special glue, paint, tool, etc... Projects that require long drawn out steps are not for me and I generally adapt such type projects by ommitting some (in my opinion) unnecessary steps. Over the next couple of weeks I'll be highlighting some of my favorite recent projects such as a flag bunting, baby minky blanket, a wooden crate come kiddie bookshelf, a house pillow and other goodies so stay tuned!

A while ago while trying to clean up the front yard of our newly rented home I found an old corkboard leaning by the fence in a corner. My first instinct was to chuck it with the other heap of not so lovely debris left by previous tenants when the craftster in me took over and screamed I could DO something with THAT! and thought why not make one of those nifty fabric covered cork boards.

This is what it looked like before, ready for the dump... had some mildewy spots from being outdoors for so long, so i sanded it down a bit, a cleaned it as best I could.

Next I spray painted the frame with two coats of bronze spray paint I had lying around the house and put down some double sided tape (I LOVE that stuff!) to help secure the fabric. I cut the fabric, wallflower in grey by Amy Butler (one of my all time favs!) about a centimeter larger than the cork itself and gently pushed it under the frame with a flat metal ruler, very low tech...

And voila! the finished product! I love it! It now proudly hangs above my trusty old singer bringing light, colour, and inspiration to my zone. Since I was already in the "mood" I couldn't help myself and made some Button-Tacs from some vintage buttons glue gunned to some thumbtacs.

And I couldn't be happier with the results! Have been on the lookout for more boards ever since...

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