3.31.2011

Come visit us on Etsy!





DIY projects always look better in the magazine. Or on TV. Or on someone's blog. Always. The room makeover, the craft project, the reupholstered chair from the flea market. Kind of like it always tastes better when someone else cooks it.

So we decided to help everyone out.

Our repurposed puppet theaters are one-of-a-kind, made with materials and fabrics we already had at home. Thanks to the lovely Emily, these are actually sewn - no Stitch Witchery in sight - so they are sturdy and durable and will withstand years of puppet theater fun.

Come take a look!

Repurposed Playground on Etsy

3.29.2011

Make your own Puppet Theater

Inspired by a master sewer project I saw in a magazine years ago, I wondered if I could create something similar, only without sewing and without buying new fabric. I was determined to make it the repurposed way and being the lazy and impatient crafter that I am, with as little actual sewing as possible.






And viola...

I turned this cafe curtain, that belonged to my mom oodles of years ago, into an easy to hang, transport and store puppet theater.



Wondering how to?

Yes, it's easy. Yes, it is extremely time consuming. Yes, it requires serious attention to detail.

Supplies
Cafe curtain or full curtain panel (the one in your closet that was a design mistake)
Napkins, tea towels or fabric remnants
Fringe for top
Ribbon, yarn or shoelace to tie back stage curtians
Stitch Witchery (or other fabric binding adhesive)
Fabric scissors
Fabric pencil
Old shipping box, cardboard or poster board
Iron
Tension curtain rod

Tips + Tricks
1. By using an old curtain panel your project is half done. With finished edges all around, all you have to worry about it the cutting and attaching of the inside decoration.

2. Using a tension rod allows you to adjust the height to your growing child. If you are using a cafe curtain, their little feet will show at some point but that is okay! If you are using a longer curtain panel, when they are small the excess will gather at the bottom. That's okay too! You can make it shorter if you want but if you keep it long even an adult could partake in the fun as well.

3. Use napkins, tea towels and such for the stage curtains. Again, the finished edges on old linens means less work for you and we all have old linens in our house we no longer use but can't seem to part with!

4. Nothing needs to match! Layer pattern on pattern and color on color. The more vintage and hodgepodge the more authentic.

5. Let your little ones help! Not with the iron - but with the choice of fabrics and textiles, the type of fringe.

6. Even if you are only making one, take the time to cut out the pattern. It makes cutting your fabric that much easier.

7. Gift yourself a pair of fabric scissors and don't let anyone touch a piece of paper with them! Then hide them away.

8. Please pay attention to your hot iron - this is not a craft to do with your small children. They can enjoy the puppet theater when it's finished!

9. And remember, measure twice, cut once. Always.

Instructions
1. Choose your textiles. Look around the house - what isn't being used? You'll be amazed. You might even find a curtain that didn't work in your kitchen re-do still in its packaging at the bottom of your hallway closet. Perfect puppet theater material! Remnants of fabric work great for the stage curtains and old ribbon will do for the tie backs. You just to make sure the material you choose is wide enough for your door frame. It can be the exact width or wider - excess fabric will just create more depth and movement in your finished piece.

2. Cut out pattern for stage window. Cut a piece of cardboard that measures 18 in x 16 in.

3. Lay your theater base on table or floor, front side down and spread totally flat. Place window pattern 10 inches from the top of the piece of fabric and center it equally between the left and right edge. This will be different depending on the width of your fabric, so I can't give you an exact measurement.

4. Trace window pattern with a fabric pencil, on the back side of the fabric.

5. Now, cut.

6. Place theater base, front side down on your ironing board. Cut and place Stitch Witchery or your choice of binding tape along the edge of the cut out in the panel. If you are using the triangle fringe, do that first. Lay it over the top edge and adhere. Now layer stage curtains on top, with about 2-3 inches overlap on the edge. Layer your ribbon or tie about 12 inches from the top, as you will be attaching this as well. Slowly make your way around the window cut out with your iron and damp towel.

7. Flip curtain panel over and attach fringe at the top of the stage window.

8. Tie the ribbon in bows.

9. Measure your door frame and adjust the tension rod accordingly. Make it snug so it will withstand little hands tugging at the panel.

10. Simply thread the tension rod through the tabs or pocket of the curtain.

11. Hang!

12. Lights, camera, action!

3.24.2011







I bought this table at some flea market at some point and it managed to withstand a few moves. But it didn't withstand the water damage when I forgot to put a coaster under a large houseplant. And really, I should have just tossed it, but I held on to it because of the hexagonal shape of the table platform.

I had a vision.

On a trip to IKEA before Christmas I found 2 candle holders in a dark bronze shade and wondered if with some magic adhesive and a can of black gloss spray paint, my transformation would work.

Well, I think it did.

3.20.2011



And just like that, he turns 2.

I haven't been very good about keeping up a baby book. I thought that was supposed to happen with babies 2 and 3, but it seems my first little one won't have that perfectly completed baby book either. And I have been feeling really bad about it until I saw an inspired idea in last month's ReadyMade magazine about a travel journal/scrapbook and I realized I could add a bit of "bling" to the book I had already started and perhaps have something presentable.

I bought Niki McClure's baby journal because it was one of the first baby things I say when I was pregnant that was not blue or pink or full of ducks and bunnies. It is clever and her images inside are really quite magical.

I added some pictures and some letters and a lock of hair and lots and lots of my own words and memories.

And well, I finished it just in time for him turning 2.

3.19.2011

City blocks

































I found these blocks on etsy. I think I probably like them more for me than for the nugget.

The details are amazing - the weather wane, the awning, the red bricks. 

I have them on a shelf in the living room, within his reach and he hasn't touched them.

Go figure.

3.18.2011

A mudroom like Martha's...FINAL

BEFORE

Sort of.

Ok, well not really, but a girl can dream.

For now, it's a good start.

AFTER

To make the best use of space without drilling into the walls or buying any additional furniture, I used suction cup hooks on the side of the washer dryer.


SHOE RACK BEFORE










































































SHOE RACK AFTER






































I had pieces of inexpensive scrap plywood cut to the right size at our local hardware store, spray painted them gray and viola - extra shelving!


3.16.2011

The eCourse projects are done!

In the first week of the Playful Learning eCourse, we were asked to choose the areas of our house that we wanted to focus on. Not sure of what content we would cover throughout the course, I chose these 5 projects to keep me focused. Now, in the final week of the course (which I have totally enjoyed), I can say that I made great progress and I look forward to seeing how these spaces evolve and change with the needs of our ever changing little man.


Project 1
Window bench and toy storage

BEFORE

AFTER



I used the baskets I already had (which I bought for $1 each at Urban Ore in Berkeley), spray painted a 4th white and made the toy labels myself with black paper, chalk, laminating sheets and cable binders. I used Ed Emberely's Make a World book to draw the images.

As for the bench, I used two IKEA floor rugs, tied them together and stapled them onto the bench, on top of 5 seat cushions. The geometric blue pillows are from our trip to Bali before the nugget was born.

It doesn't always look this tidy, but it cleans up pretty well! And of course, I was thrilled when the nugget came down and saw the baskets and pointed straight at the helicopter label and said "helacoptor". I'd say, big success!

Project 2
Play kitchen

BEFORE

AFTER



I moved the play kitchen into his room, removed the loose silver frame, added an unused bath mat to catch any spilled water and reduced the amount of play things that accompanied the kitchen. That was the biggest lesson of all. I realized that too many pieces and options only make more mess and actually reduce the amount of time that he plays attentively.

I kept only the vintage pots and pans set with the kitchen in his room, plus the Plan Toy cut-able fruits and veggies.

I added some baking and cooking pieces to a box in the kitchen to be used when he helps to cook with me. The rest of the pieces I took outside, and created this...



It's still way too cold for mud pies and grass soup but this little nook right by the stairs is one of his favorite spots already. The white enamel container is actually from our wedding, which we used for lemonade throughout the weekend, so it makes me smile to see it is being reused here. I let it fill with rain water and then the nugget can get all the water he needs - all by himself.

Project 3
The train table

BEFORE

AFTER

"I never want to put the train tracks back together again!" I think those are the words that came out of my mouth at some point a few days before the eCourse began and they became my motivation. My first idea was to glue the whole tracks onto another top layer of wood, but I realized that would mean that when he is a bit older the tracks would not be available to play with. So instead, I glued the ramps together and then used heavy duty duct tape to keep the rest of the tracks together. I removed the bottom shelf so tall toys could fit underneath and then moved the table to the window to make a bit more room.

The storage piece on the bed is also from IKEA and gives him access to the trains when he is up early from his nap. Toddler playing in bed and not making noise for a 15 minutes - I lovely unexpected bonus!



Project 4
The booknook

BEFORE

AFTER


Project 5
An unused space upstairs

BEFORE

AFTER

3.15.2011

A space for me





There are 2 strange little spaces off the bedroom upstairs. Inspired by the need to have an extra space for the nugget to sleep if we ever need his room for an additional guest room, we decided to build a wall.

And believe it or not, over Christmas with a full house of guests, the nugget slept in the unfinished space and it worked just fantastically.

Then it just became empty space again.

Then it got filled with trains and cars, of course.







































And then, after a bit of thought and I a realization that our space upstairs gets to be a semi-kiddo free space, at least some of the time, I decided, to make it a space for me.

Here it is - my space to write and spread and leave a mess if I want to.

It has my favorite things - the birch trees were painted by my mother-in-law, the elephant vase is from France, the coral is from...i think i have to keep that classified, the orange desk accessories are a flea market find and the teal velvet curtains are on of the last remaining pieces of my last apartment as a single woman. So yes, this is my space and it makes me happy.

3.12.2011

Week 5: A bit more on nurturing the early scientist...






Breakfast time has turned into early morning birdwatching. The nugget has the best seat in the house.

He sees things we don't even see - the bird sitting high up in the branches of the dying tree and the cat lying in wait, hoping to catch something. And he watches. He watches it all.

By simply placing a bird feeder in front of the window, he learned the words: vogel (bird), baum (tree) and blau (blue, because of his favorite bluebird).

3.11.2011

Week 5: PL eCourse : For the love of science


I was so excited to learn that this week in the eCourse we would be looking at nature spaces and nooks and how to encourage a love of exploration and discovery. This one area that our nugget perhaps is teaching us (like so many things) because he is reminding us how interesting a leaf can be and a lady bug and a stick found on the sidewalk.

So it was easy to be inspired about creating a space to display and show things we have collected. And I had just the spot for it - another funky little cubby cove in our funky little rented house.

At first I wondered if I was crazy to put breakable shells and little ceramic saucers in his reach - but instantly he reminded me that he does what we do. I was gentle, so he was gentle. And attentive and interested. Pushing and poking on the different textures. Observing the differences in color. So yes, this may be my favorite unexpected space so far.





The Root Children is one of my all time favorite books. We only have the German version, which belonged to me when I was little, but after some snooping around I found that the wonderful series is also available in English. The illustration is incredible.