super easy, no-candy valentines that will make your slacker butt look like a pinterest parent

I get that Boomers are like, OMG Millennial Parents And Their Special Snowflake Children. They see our birthday parties and class Valentines and think we’re a bunch of overachievers. And while I’ll cop to going a little overboard on birthday parties, my Valentine game only looks like it took me a ton of time. Our school has never let us bring candy or food items, and frankly, with food allergies what they are, I don’t really want to risk it. The good news is, party favors plus free printables that other overachieving parents make available online equals class Valentine’s win. I’ve made it even easier for you by rounding up some awesome options (if you can’t see the images in your RSS reader, click through to see embedded pins):

Every kid loves bubbles. Cute Valentine bubbles available via Target. You can get 16 for $3. Cheaper than a bag of candy.

I used this idea for Claire last year. Play Doh party pack available at Target for $6.

Mustaches are fun! Target even has Valentine mustaches, because of course they do. 16 for $3.

My kids love tiny things. They carry around purses full of them. Zoo animals via Amazon.

Also in the tiny things category: bugs! Bugs via Amazon.

Turns out bouncy balls look like planets. 12 bouncy balls for $3 at Target. Here’s an alternative bouncy ball printable.

I know my girls would love these heart glasses. 16 for $3 at Target.

Glow sticks are always fun. You can get 100 for under $9 on Amazon, with Prime shipping.

If your kid loves dinos, these are perfect. You can get 72 for $8 on Amazon Prime.

And if you hate the other parents in your kid’s class, give the kids kazoos. Almost as bad as giving a kid a whistle. 12 for $5 at Target.

And something for the teachers (I cleared these with my teacher sister):

We’re big Eos lip balm fans in our house. Plus they’re easy to find when blindly reaching into your purse. Or use any lip balm of your choice.

Just add hand soap or sanitizer.

Works with pretty much any Burt’s Bees product.

Just add nail polish.

Did you know you can gift Redbox gift codes via their website?

Always a crowd pleaser. Just make sure the card has enough on it for at least a grande drink.

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I’m already obsessing about Advent

Ideas for creating a Jesse Tree Advent Calendar | erniebufflo.comI’m the first to gripe about “Christmas Creep” and how people keep trying to make Christmas happen before its time, which, in my opinion, should absolutely never be before the day after Thanksgiving. (Mostly because Thanksgiving is one of my favorites.) However, I spent the last week obsessively working on finishing the Advent calendar I started making for the girls in 2013. It was a bit more than I could achieve when the girls were one, but now that they’re three, not only do I have more time to craft, I really think they’ll enjoy incorporating this tradition and get something out of it. And I’m writing about it now because if you start soon, you’ve got time to make one before Advent starts, too. But not if you have two one-year-olds — take it from me and take it easy on yourself.

Celebrating Advent has always been part of my family and faith tradition, a way to focus on the “reason for the season” as my dad loves to say. Growing up we had an Advent wreath and candles, and I remember doing family devotionals sent home by our church. Through friends, I heard about the Jesse Tree tradition, which uses the whole “out of the stump of Jesse” prophecy from Isaiah to tell the story of Jesus’s family tree through ornaments and a tree. Each ornament corresponds to a Bible Story about one of the members of Jesus’ family tree, so each day leading up to Christmas, you take out an ornament and read the corresponding scripture. One friend even hosted a Jesse Tree ornament party a few years back, where everybody was assigned one ornament and made enough for everyone, so each guest left with a complete set but only had to make one type of ornament — fun and efficient!

Ideas for creating a Jesse Tree Advent Calendar | erniebufflo.com

Ideas for creating a Jesse Tree Advent Calendar | erniebufflo.com

Lots of people put the ornaments on their actual Christmas tree or on a smaller table-top tree that they use just for the Jesse Tree. I had seen many beautiful felt and fabric Advent calendars, so that’s what I had in mind. I love the idea of making a normal Advent calendar slightly more scriptural, so I started looking for Jesse Tree Advent calendars. I wanted to make something that my family could use for years to come and remember fondly, so I bought a kit from an Etsy seller that included patterns, instructions, and all the supplies. My kit was $60, but it looks like my seller is no longer selling the kits, just fully handmade calendars for $390. While I love my kit, I can’t imagine having paid nearly 400 bucks for a completed calendar, though I know that it’s worth that with all the painstaking work that goes into it. So painstaking, in fact, that I modified my calendar– I used puffy paint on the felt to make the ornaments instead of hand-sewing tiny layers and appliques, and I machine-sewed the body of the calendar. I have come to accept that I am just not a fan of embroidering. It’s beautiful, but tedious and frustrating.

Ideas for creating a Jesse Tree Advent Calendar | erniebufflo.com

 

Ideas for creating a Jesse Tree Advent Calendar | erniebufflo.com

Still, I didn’t want to write about finishing this beautiful thing for my family and then be like, sorry, folks, good luck to ya. I found a few felt Advent calendar patterns that I think you could fairly easily adapt into Jesse Trees by swapping out the ornaments, either by making these felt ornaments, by trying one of these other kits, or by buying a set of alreadymade Jesse Tree ornaments. There are also lots of free tutorials for making felt Jesse Tree ornaments online.

Is a Jesse tree part of your holiday tradition? Do you celebrate Advent in other ways?

Easy DIY: The InstaFridge

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Check out my fridge, covered in pictures of my babies! You, too, can achieve such a cool (ha) fridge!

Here’s the deal: there are companies that will make you magnets out of your Instagrams (and lets be real, the best pictures any of us are taking these days are on Instagram), but they charge $15 bucks for 9 magnets, and they aren’t very big. Meanwhile, I was recently informed by a friend that Walgreens has a cool new app that, among other things, connects directly to your Instagram and prints 4×4 prints at your nearest store for you to pick up in just an hour or two. For 39 cents a pop. So, using my rudimentary math skills (aka a calculator, because I am an English and Poli Sci major, and math makes me cry), that’s $1.27 cheaper than the pre-made magnets per picture. The savings shrinks a tiny bit when you take the added step of turning the prints into DIY magnets, but bear with me:

Supplies:

1 sheet foam board, or, if you’re extra thrifty, 1 cardboard box

A bunch of Instagram prints

Photo Corners (like these, which are less than $5 for 250)

Craft magnets (Amazon sells bazillions for like a nickel each) + glue gun if you don’t get the magnets with adhesive backing

Scissors

Steps:

  1. Affix pictures to cardboard or foam board using photo corners
  2. Cut out squares
  3. Glue and/or affix the magnets to the back of said squares
  4. Stick all over your fridge
  5. Laugh at schmucks paying $1.20 more per magnet for their StickyGrams that look tiny and puny next to your awesome creations

The bonus of using the photo corners as opposed to gluing the pictures directly to the foam/card board is that you can easily change out the pictures and reuse the magnets over and over again! Which will work great for me as my whole fridge is pictures of the Bufflo Gals, and they tend to do this pesky growing up thing, which means I need to update the pictures regularly.

nursery progress and a lamp DIY

To me, one of the more fun things about being pregnant is fixing up a room for the babies. I knew from the start I wanted to avoid having a “theme.” None of the rest of my rooms have a theme, so why should the babies’ room look any different? I wanted their room to look like it belonged with the rest of the house, and I knew I had to work with the navy blue floral wallpaper that we renters can’t change. So my goal was to incorporate lots of color and lots of handmade touches to make a room that goes with the rest of our house. I figured I’d share some of my progress so far:

The cribs are actually the only “new” thing in the photo, and they’re BabyMod from Walmart. Cribs were a tough decision for me, because I originally really wanted bright red cribs, which apparently do not exist. Then I thought I’d paint unpainted cribs, which also do not exist, unless I want to pay a zillion dollars or drive 4 hours to the nearest IKEA, which, it turns out, didn’t have the unpainted ones in stock anyway. So we ended up with gray cribs that actually blend surprisingly well with the aforementioned wallpaper. The dresser we already had, and there are three smaller nightstands in the room that we also already had. Even the rug was something we already had.

Early on, I decided moving our futon into the babies’ room made more sense than getting a glider, because this way, I could set the babies down on the couch, sit down in between them, and still feed them even if I were home alone. Also, the futon still functions as a place for guests to sleep, in case anyone wants to stay in a house of craziness, or for one of us to sleep in the room with the babies. It’s actually an espresso brown, I just have a sheet on it to protect it from Tinycat’s hair, since he likes to hang out in there.

To go on the futon, I made 4 throw pillow covers with fabric I happened to already have in my stash, that I think goes well with the rug:

And for Christmas, my dad made these four paintings to go on the wall: I think the animals are super cute, and he did a great job choosing colors that go with the other things in the room.

Now, while we’re not doing an animal theme, there will be some other animal touches, including some letterpress prints I already had around, and a vintage lamp my stepmom found at a flea market:

I immediately loved the little elephant, but knew I wanted to do something to spruce up his bland, faded shade. Initially, I thought of trying to cover the shade with the same fabric as the throw pillows, but since I’m making the girls an origami crane lamp like the one I made for my friend, I decided to incorporate the same origami paper I’m using for the cranes to make the two lamps “go” together. I cut each sheet of origami paper into 4 smaller squares and ModPodged them to the lampshade in a patchwork pattern. Then I glued some rickrack trim around the edges. I’m really proud of the results (though everything I ModPodge comes out a little wrinkly), and think the patterns of the paper echo the pattern of the wallpaper in a nice way:

I still need to figure out some sort of changing table/dresser, want to get an ottoman, need to hem curtains, and am planning to sew some crib skirts, among other things, but I’m pretty proud of how the babies’ room is looking so far. I don’t think it screams “baby” or “pretty pretty princess” but it’s still girly and fun and colorful. I can’t wait to get it finished!

i sewed my first dress!

About six months ago, I said to Jon while walking through Hobby Lobby, “I wish I could sew cute dresses.” I started sewing in June, and let me just say: CUTE DRESS ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED!

Because I’m still a beginner at sewing, I knew I needed to stick with cheap, solid fabric for my first dress attempt. No worrying about matching up prints or stripes, and no sorrow if I somehow botched it beyond repair. I was inspired by this yellow dress worn by Leelee Sobieski (source):

And also by this image I found on Pinterest, which I’m pretty sure is from  J.Crew catalog (source):

So I picked up Vogue 8723 and decided to tackle my first dress in yellow cotton.

I was a little nervous, as the dress would require me to sew my first ever darts, but I tackled them and they weren’t nearly as intimidating as I expected. It’s fully lined and features pockets and a back zip. I finished all my seams with french seams, so it’s nicely constructed. Jon helped me pin and fit my bodice, which was crucial– though I made the size indicated by my measurements, I probably ended up taking the bodice in by about 2 inches, mostly from the sides and back. Getting the shoulder straps right was also tricky, as I have scoliosis, which makes my shoulders crooked. You’ll probably notice that the straps don’t look symmetrical, but there’s no gaping in the back, which is what I was more worried about. All in all, I’m really proud!

I just might wear this dress every day, I’m so proud of it. And I think Tinycat approves:

not shopping, and a chambray skirt

Thanks to my “no shopping” post being featured on the WordPress homepage, a lot of new faces have showed up around here in the last two days! Welcome! Even though I said I wouldn’t be posting daily outfit photos, I will be occasionally sharing photos of items I’ve sewn, and possibly particularly interesting outfits remixed from items in my closet. Though seriously, I need to get a tripod and some self confidence, because I feel sublimely silly posing while my husband snaps photos with our 5 year old digital camera in my kitchen, home to the only bare wall I could find (I like art), while also trying to keep two large dogs from hopping into the picture (I was standing near their food bowls and it was almost dinner time, so they got rather excited).

I thought I’d clarify a bit on what motivated the no-shopping challenge. I identify as a follower of Jesus, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how my consumerism lines up with that identity. I read Shane Claibourne’s Jesus for President with a book group at my church, and I’ve also been reading a lot of Pete Rollins. Basically, I think I undermine my statements about following Jesus and trying to love people like he loved when my dollars every day are a) going toward my own comfort instead of those in need, and b) are perpetuating a system of slavery and oppression in other parts of the world, where the poor are exploited just to make my clothes. And yet: there’s no other way to say this, I want to look cute. Yesterday, while out buying a must-have hair product, in an apparent act of self-torture, I wandered into Forever21, “just to look.” I saw about 20 things that I really wanted. “Wouldn’t that little dress be a great beach cover-up for my upcoming trip to Costa Rica?” I didn’t buy anything, but I realized what an addict I am. I can’t say that I’ll swear off buying clothes forever, and only buy from thrift stores or make my own, though that would probably be ideal. I can’t even say I’ll never buy something from Forever21 again. But I am going to spend the next several months abstaining from buying clothes (I have a feeling trips to Target are going to be torture! I also spotted a gray striped jersey dress there yesterday that I really wanted.),  and I hope to learn something from the experience.

One area I do hope to improve are my sewing skills. I am confident that I can learn to make a lot of the clothes that I want, for myself, for less money than I would spend in retail stores, and in the process, with confidence that my clothes weren’t made in a sweatshop. Now, when I want an item, if it looks “sewable,” I pin it to my Sewing Inspiration board on Pinterest. One thing I had been pinning a lot of lately was chambray skirts (click image to be taken to Pinterest page which links to original source):


So, armed with several skirts under my sewing belt, I decided this covetable item was something I could make myself. And sure enough, I followed this tutorial to make myself an adorable (if I do say so myself) chambray skirt:

I used a double layer of chambray for the skirt, to prevent sheerness and give the skirt more of the full look I was going for. I have to say, I think it turned out just as cute as several of the skirts I had pinned!

bag lady and baby blankets

You wouldn’t know it from my lack of posts around here, but I’ve been sewing up a storm! I’ve made a bunch of skirts and have now moved on to other fun, like reusable shopping bags. I’m of the opinion that you can never have too many reusable shopping bags. It lessens the odds that you will forget to take them to the store, because surely, out of the zillions, one will be left in your car, right?

My favorite shopping bags are Envirosax. They come in adorable colors and fold up into handy little pouches, and they hold as much stuff as four plastic grocery bags, without a risk of the bottom ripping out. Thanks to a 99 cent sale at Hobby Lobby, I scored a pattern, McCall’s 6130 that gives my trusty Envirosax a run for their money. And as a bonus, I finally found a use for the adorable apple printed cotton duck fabric that I just had to buy when it was on sale but found too stiff for clothes. The bags were pretty easy to make, and my only issues are that the small size bag is just way small. I’ll probably not make any of those again. And I might also find some way to line the bags or create a facing so I don’t have to apply bias tape to the handles. It looks nice, but it’s tedious. Overall, though, I think the bags are great, and I’m pretty proud of the way they turned out. I already got some more fabric and am planning on making a few sets to give away as Christmas gifts.

The shopping bag set, all folded up.

Medium sized bag, unfolded.

All three bags. The largest bag is about 14x14, similar in size to my Envirosax.

A few days ago, I discovered the awesomeness that is The Purl Bee, the inspiring how-to blog of Purl Soho, a knitting/sewing/quilting/embroidery shop in NYC that I’m now dreaming of visiting. I spent an entire afternoon just browsing through the site, pinning projects I want to try to my sewing inspiration board on Pinterest (another new obsession). One project I knew I wanted to try was the Cozy Quick Blankie, as I have a new nephew making his way into the world in September. The Purl Bee’s tutorial was easy to follow, and the only modification I made was to use flannel on one side instead of cotton knitted fleece, as my fabric store options around here don’t carry that sort of thing. The blankie went together in about an hour, and that’s only because I accidentally had the fabric wrong side out and noticed halfway through pinning it together and had to start over. This would be an easy project for a very beginning sewist. I’m really happy with the way the project turned out:

The blankie has printed cotton on one side and fuzzy flannel on the other. It measures 32x32.

The rickrack trim is what sold me on this blankie.

I think the little birdie fabric is super cute.