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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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.

put a bird on it! DIY origami lamp and mobile

Are you ready for more of my baby room crafty craziness? Here it comes!

Origami has long been a hobby of mine, at least since high school. I find it repetitive, mindless, and relaxing, a great project to do with my hands while I watch TV. One year, while unemployed, I made a ton of origami Christmas ornaments, and was sure glad to have them as unbreakable ornaments this year when I first encountered the combo of Tinycat+Christmas tree. I knew I wanted to do something origami-related for Etta and Claire’s room, and after my success making an origami crane-covered lampshade for my friend Naomi, I decided to DIY another origami crane lamp. Consider this a bit of an origami crane lamp tutorial.

First: you need a LOT of origami cranes. Obviously this varies depending on lampshade size, but I’d say at least 200, maybe more. (If you don’t know how to fold a crane, I highly recommend YouTube. It’s so much easier when you can watch someone’s hands actually folding instead of trying to decipher diagrams.)

A lot of evenings were spent in the recliner with Tinycat folding cranes. He wasn't very helpful, but he sure is snuggly!

I folded enough cranes to fill this bag, then got started and realized I needed about 50 more. This is why it's helpful to have more paper than you use, so if you fold more, they'll still match the rest of the group.

Then, hot-glue the cranes to your lamp all haphazard like.

I’m really proud of how the lamp turned out, and particularly in love with the cute turquoise base we scored on sale at Target for about $20. Here’s what it looks like in the girls’ room:

In the end, I actually had some cranes left, so I started thinking about what I could do with them and realized they’d be perfect for a mobile. I bought some small grapevine wreaths from Hobby Lobby for $4 each to use as the base of the mobile, and picked up a $3 spool of crochet thread to string the cranes on. Other than that, I already had ribbon, cranes, and beads, so this ended up a very cheap project! I learned while making crane ornaments that a bead under the cranes keeps the knots in the string from pulling through the fragile paper, and I used a large needle to string the cranes onto the thread. I’m really proud of my finished mobiles and can’t wait to see them hanging over the cribs! (That will be a project for Jon. I have a feeling I should avoid ladders.)

Just for the heck of it, I decided to see if anyone on Etsy was selling anything similar. I told Jon, “I bet people would pay $30 for these!” Sure enough, the one origami crane mobile seller I found was selling hers for $28 apiece, and they didn’t even have cute nests/wreaths, just plain old hoops! Not bad for something made largely of things I already had!

DIY cat bed

Now that Tinycat is staying, I decided he needed a nicer bed than a folded up beach towel. To the folks wondering, “how do you get your cat to sleep on a designated bed in the first place?” the answer is, he sleeps locked in the bathroom off of our bedroom, so he basically sleeps on the softest thing in there.

I started looking at cat beds online, but they were all kind of boring, slightly ugly, and $20-$30.

I wanted something cuter, and with my rudimentary sewing skills, figured I could make something decent for less than $30. I went to Hobby Lobby and assembled the following supplies:

Foam square: $4.89 (on sale, regularly $6.99), 1 yard of fabric: $8.99, 1 spool of matching thread: $.99, zipper: $2.29. Grand total: $17.16.

Then I basically laid the foam down on the fabric and cut around it, leaving about half an inch on each side as a seam allowance. I did this for each side of the cushion. For one of the long sides, I cut double the seam allowance to allow for the zipper to be installed, because I wanted the cover to be removable so I can wash it. I installed a zipper in the middle of the long sides, sewed the sides together end to end, leaving one side unsewn, and then started attaching the sides to the top, working my way around until all the sides were sewn on, and then sewing the last corner. Then I sewed the bottom on, turned it right side out (thanks to the zipper, this was possible), and put it on the cushion. I made sure to finish all my seams nicely so that they won’t unravel in the wash.

This is the final result (related: it’s hard to photograph a cat on his cute new bed when all he wants to do is eat the bed):

Crazy cat in action.

View of the zipper side.

It’s not perfect at the corners, and the fit could be slightly tighter, but overall I’m pretty proud. Also, notice how it matches those pillows on our bed? When it’s not eleventy billion degrees, that’s also what our duvet cover looks like, so Tinycat’s bed looks like a mini version of ours. So cute I could die.

I could be convinced to make one of these again for someone I loved for compensation or a Christmas gift, and if that happens, I’ll try to take some step by step photos so this post is more helpful.

i love lamp

One of my BFF’s (technically half of our BCFFL (Best Couple Friends 4 Lyfe)) is having a BABY GIRL!!!  We’re very excited for our friends, and I fully intend to be this kid’s Crazy Aunt Sarah.  My friend is a really awesome, creative, crafty, thrifting queen, so I knew I really had to step it up in the gift department.  You can check out her awesome Etsy shop of vintage treasures, if you want!

My friend and I looking cute on the Subway, sharing some tunes, on Jon's big 30th Birthday in NYC trip.

Ultimately inspiration struck in the form of this origami lamp from Sweet Sweet Life, which I think I originally found via Apartment Therapy’s Ohdeedoh.

image via Sweet Sweet Life.

That lamp was inspired by a lamp that costs over $210.  And I thought, I have origami skills! I could do that! $200+ is ridiculous! Though I’ve been into origami for a while, I really honed my skills when I got laid off in October of 2008 and decided to use my abundant free time crafting origami Christmas ornaments.

The great origami Christmas ornament project of 2008. I made garlands out of tiny boxes, ornaments out of cranes...

...and origami ball ornaments.

Of course, I wouldn’t just make a giant origami lamp for someone’s nursery without asking, but I remembered my friend liking the lamp when I posted about it on Facebook.  So I shot her a quick note and asked if she’d be interested in an origami lamp for the baby’s nursery, and she said sure! I inquired about the color scheme: “i’m planning on doing olive green, lime green, fuschia, light pink, lemon drop yellow and lots of wood grains, burlap and galvanized steel (like those buckets)… if that helps”

So I headed off to Hobby Lobby, where, to my luck, scrapbooking paper was on sale for half off! I selected a variety of large squares, which are normally $0.59 apiece, in the colors she had mentioned, supplementing with traditional origami paper in coordinating colors.  After that came the folding. Holy crap, what a lot of folding.  I’d say it takes about 250 cranes to cover a typical lamp shade.  Luckily, it’s an activity you can do in front of the TV, and luckily for me, Jon knows how to fold cranes, and he helped me with my folding load.  Still, I’d say it was about 12 hours of folding…so THAT’S why they cost over $200.  You can follow this tutorial video to learn how to fold an origami crane.

A big pile of cranes, ready to be hot-glued onto a lampshade from Target.

I applied the cranes to the lamp with a hot-glue gun, which took about 4 hours, during which time I watched “The West Wing” on my laptop– I’m newly hooked on the show, having missed it when it originally aired.

I'm going to let my friend choose whether to use this as a hanging lamp or on a standing lamp, so I put the shade on one of my lamps to show off the finished product.

Here's what it looks like with the light on.

Closeup of the cranes on the lamp. As you can see, I managed to find paper that actually looked like burlap and wood grain. I think I did a pretty good job coordinating with my friend's color scheme!

So, there you have it. The Coolest Lamp in the World. The World’s Most Ambitious Origami Lamp Project!  All you need is: a lamp shade, a glue gun, enough paper for around 250 cranes, and a crapload of free time.

celebrate independence

So, tomorrow is Independence Day, and I figured, what better way to support independence than to support an independent artist?  Especially in this economy, supporting small business owners is downright patriotic.  So…. I indulged my Etsy browsing hobby and came up with a few things that seem apt for the 4th of July holiday weekend.  Check ’em out!

I almost wish I had a kid so I could make him wear that onesie on Saturday. How cute is that?  Like a lil baby politician! $11 by rocknrags.

I live in dresses in the summertime.  I’m really wishing I had this one to wear on Saturday.  $60 by wingandwendy.

Even more than the sundress though, I wish I had this suit for hanging out on the beach (or on a lake!) on the Fourth of July.  SO cute. By FablesbyBarrie.

I have a thing for old barns, so I love this photo.  $35 by buckscountyframes.

I sorta want this letterpress print for my kitchen RIGHT NOW.  $12 by cindytomczykart.

Sailor Tote! By banyanhippo, whom I’ve bought from– quality bags, and quick shipping all the way from Turkey! $27.

If you’re more of a small purse gal, this one is adorable.  $28 by nonsuch.

Letterpress print, $10 from letterpress.

I’m not cool enough to know who Minus the Bear is, but this is a great poster. $30 by SleepOp.

Print by YeeHawIndustries, $25.

OMG OBAMA BIDEN FINGER PUPPETS.  Is it weird to like these SO MUCH?  The seller, mullishmuse, has lots of other awesome finger puppets as well. $16.

I’ll take this vintage pitcher full of lemonade, plz. $14 from CsRetroChicBoutique.

States United poster.  Wish I could afford it.  $75 by beauchamping.

Cute necklace, $18 by BRadleyBB.