Category Archives: birthdays

A knights and dragons birthday

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Worth turned six in February. He requested a “knights and dragons” birthday.worthInspired by Pinterest, I cut flames from a sheet of red poster board. Stuck to the door with painter’s tape, it became an opportunity for Worth’s guests to “breathe fire” and get their photos taken.

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Worth wanted a dragon hat, so I used a basic hat pattern to sew a black hat from fleece, then added fleece ears and spikes and some greenish-yellow felt eyes. Worth has worn his Toothless-inspired hat in both cold and warm places (like to bed) quite frequently since I made it, so I felt good about his its reception. dragon-cake

My mother totally outdid herself with an enormous, amazing dragon cake!cannonballs

And what’s a knights and dragons party without some castle-storming food? Or something. I also cut shields out of cardboard and spray-painted them silver, then let Worth’s friends decorate them with paint as a party activity. I thought these turned out cute but I somehow never managed to get a photograph of them.

Notice my oldest daughter (above) is wearing a tiara. Apparently she felt that her role at a knights-and-dragons party should be royal princess, subtly outranking Sir Worth at his own event. We did manage to talk her down to lady-in-waiting, however, with the help of paid duties involving the herding of six-year-old boys and shield paint cleanup. Shew!

Daphne’s Second Birthday

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How can this sweet baby be two already? My forever baby (because she’s the last) isn’t technically a baby anymore, but when my husband suggested I should stop calling her that I just rolled my eyes. I hope I’m lucky enough to be calling her my baby when she’s a mother herself. She had an ice cream-themed birthday party to reflect her great love of that dessert, which she calls “ceam.” Her dress is made from New Look 6796 out of fabric from the Kanvas What’s the Scoop line. Her big sister made her the matching cape (who doesn’t need a cape to go with her birthday dress?) and I crocheted the hat. I couldn’t find a hat pattern that looked like ice cream, so I used the Lion Brand Cone Hat pattern and then did a headband of crocodile stitches and sewed it to the brim. I think people could tell what it was supposed to be, and she loves it, which is most important anyway. Happy birthday my Daphne!

Our apple birthday party

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apple-dress birthday-dress daphbirthday2 daph-cake1 daph-cake3.The baby turned 1! Her apple birthday party was on a beautiful fall day, and Daphne heartily approved of the cake her Nana made. I made her dress from an Anna Maria Horner pattern in the book Handmade Beginnings. The skirt fabric is Timeless Treasures Kids Apple Orchard, and I bought the embroidery pattern for the front panel from here. The dress was sweet by itself, and over a red Kickee Pants union suit to make it warmer on the “crisp” (pun intended) day of her actual party. I love fall colors on this baby, and I plan to enjoy this dress on her long after the leftover cake is gone.

Cupcakes and t-shirts

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monkeysToday’s post is about birthdays and half-birthdays too. In our family we celebrate six-month birthdays with cupcakes, as was the tradition in my family growing up.  For Worth’s half-birthday we made Pinterest-inspired monkey cupcakes with chocolate frosting, vanilla wafers, white chocolate chips, and piped dark-brown frosting. My kids had a great time decorating these, and they were simple enough that the 4-and-a-half-year-old boy of honor could fully participate.

apple-cupcakeDorothy wanted un-decorated cupcakes that we could upend over some clipart of the Wicked Witch’s feet (see my photo on Instagram) to make the cakes look like houses that fell on the witch. Fun! We’d just been on a field trip to an apple orchard, and I was still working my way through the huge bag of apples I bought, so I made apple cupcakes with caramel icing. The apple cake recipe I used calls for shredded apple, so there is a nice apple flavor without the chunks that end up mealy or tough in some apple cake recipes. I substituted pie spice for the cinnamon, and the moist consistency of the cake made perfect cupcakes that don’t fall apart when you eat them and peel away from the paper easily. Go and make these cupcakes this afternoon–seriously, they are so good. And the cakes would have made a perfectly nice dessert or snack without frosting, but of course for us they were meant to be cupcakes, so they really had to have frosting. I used this caramel frosting recipe and it was just right, Caramel frosting over apple cupcakes–yum.

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Amid our half birthday celebrating at home, Worth got invited to the birthday party of some friends. The kids were having a space-themed party so I made them embroidered comet t-shirts. Some of my favorite free embroidery designs are the retired sets at Bunnycup Embroidery. I used a design from the Stars N Stripes set, but rotated it to look like a falling star or comet. I like to do embroidered shirts like these, where the embroidery is done on a fabric panel that is then fused and sewn to the shirt, rather than directly on the shirt. That way I don’t have to deal with embroidering on stretchy knit, and the itchy back of the designs is not up against the wearer’s chest. I think the children liked their shirts.

Almost 1 year

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happy-appleUnbelievably, it is time to get ready for a first birthday party. Wasn’t I just waiting impatiently for her, getting all those tiny little newborn handmades ready? But here she is, a big, sturdy, almost-toddler who moves of her own locomotion, calls me by name, and incessantly tries to eat the dog’s food. I’m planning a little apple-themed party for our family and a couple homeschool friends with toddlers who I think she can safely count as friends.

worriedI crocheted this sweet hat for her from this free pattern by Kay Meadors but made a little leaf from felt instead of crocheting one. I also made a little garland of felt apples to function as a party decoration, photo prop, and fall decoration in our kitchen.

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Daphne wasn’t feeling particularly smile-y when it was time to take her picture, and she’s too little to bribe with M&M’s so I settled on this sweet but semi-serious pose for the back of her invitation.

daphne-inviteThen I designed the front of her invitation in Photoshop with the help of the instructions on this blog.

Now we’re ready to party, except for this Mama trying to remember to not waste Daphne’s 11th month being nostalgic for the first 10. I won’t have more babies and I’m actually happy with that choice, but I do wish I could just keep one in the closet to snuggle on or sniff or nurse just when I want to. There is nothing like snuggling on your own sweet baby. I’ve been a lucky mama. And now I’ll focus on how lucky I am to hold her hand when she takes her wobbly steps; enjoy Worth as he takes in the world all new, amazed that everything around him is Covered in Words!; and be amazed at the poised and accomplished girl my big one is turning out to be. Lucky indeed.

The fox party

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And in real time, the fox party arrived shortly after our preparations–in blog time, it seems to have taken a bit longer! I carved a fox stamp using this very easy kit, then stamped our napkins and the children’s hands. I needle-felted the little fox from wool roving.

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Worth chose a snack mix at Target that he thought looked most authentically like fox food, which we supplemented with pretzel rods for their stick-like shape. The other needle-felted woodland animals I’d made for Worth’s baby mobile joined the fox as table decorations. I took the fox fabric left over from shirt and pressed the edges under to make a temporary table topper.

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I used the little fox graphic I designed for the invitation to decorate our cups. I printed them on cardstock in 1 inch circles, then used my 1-inch craft punch to cut them out, and we glued them to the cups.

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Worth was so excited to be turning “plain 4,” which is his designation for the age that comes right before 4-and-a-half.
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A cardboard banner declared our purpose.IMG_0837

And my printer and more cardstock got our china cabinet in on the action.

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Worth got his very own camera as a gift, which means I’ve now had hundreds of opportunities to see the world from Worth’s perspective. When I uploaded his photos to my computer and we browsed through them I found dozens of Worth selfies, a surprising number of very artistic snapshots of his plated meals, and a hefty collection of shots out the front of the car, including the back of my head and my arm, driving.case

And of course he needed a camera bag to fit the theme, so I made him a little padded pouch from the fox fabric. I think my boy’s transition to “plain 4” was a success.

Getting ready for a fox birthday

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Like many other kids, mine have fallen prey to that funny What Does the Fox Say video. Inspired by this love, Worth decided to have a fox-themed fourth birthday party. I made him this 70s-style shirt from a pattern in the book Sewing for Boys: 24 Projects to Make a Handmade Wardrobe. I wasn’t planning to sew snaps on the shirt since he intended to wear it open, and because brown snaps (plus shipping) were going to cost almost as much as I paid for the cute fox fabric, but the birthday boy complained, so (expensive) snaps were added subsequent to the picture-taking.
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I decided to make small gifts for Worth’s party guests instead of the usual little baggie of throw-away goodies. I sewed sleeves for standard composition books then ironed on fusible printer transfer paper circles with the kids’ names on them and a little fox I designed on the computer. The sleeves were easy to make and slip easily over the books, can be reused, and are appropriate for party guests of either gender, which is something I was going for. I’m not sure they were as exciting to take home as bags of candy and plastic frogs, but hopefully they will prove to be a more lasting and useful gift.
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This is the invitation I make for Worth’s party. I haven’t done much with computer graphic stuff in a while, and while I’m far from proficient or professional, I was pleased with how these turned out and was happy to test the waters in a crafty/homemade area outside my usual sphere. Worth certainly thought they looked fine because they contained a fox–his one requirement!

Gardening at Night

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dress-frontI made this dress from the “Pretty as a Picture” pattern in Anna Maria Horner’s book Handmade Beginnings. I made the 6-9 month size. I used an old blue sheet to provide the fabric for the “picture” panel, then embroidered flowers and the REM song reference, because of course my baby will be such an REM fan, right?

dress-backThis is the dress from the back; I left the panel empty. I liked this pattern; it was simple to follow and the front panel idea is fun and holds lots of possibilities. I was thinking it would be a cute way to showcase older sibling art made for the baby, either scanned in and printed on printable fabric, or done in permanent marker on a light fabric. I didn’t do the French seams called for inside the skirt because I was serging the skirt seams anyway, but otherwise I followed the pattern faithfully. I’m not sure what season it will be when my little one wears this size, but I felt like this dress could be worn as a layer in chilly weather or on it’s own in spring or summer.

tote-bagThis project was the only one I managed to photograph of a whole stack of tote bags I made a couple months ago. I bought several yards of a lightweight canvas and used the dimensions of a purchased tote bag that was hanging around here to guide me. I made totes for all the employees who work for my husband at his law firm, embroidering the firm logo on one side (thank you to Hanni at the Sweet as Lemon and Honey shop on Etsy for making the embroidery file!) and the employee’s name on the other. Then I made a couple child birthday gifts, one of which is shown, by doing the same tote bag but adding a child-appropriate embroidery bit and the birthday girl’s name. These were such nice, quick thank-you and birthday gifts that I’m sure I’m going to be reusing this idea again. The totes go together quickly and are always useful, no matter the recipient’s age.

 

A vroom vroom birthday

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And the actual birthday pants! My boy wanted a “vroom vroom” birthday. I made his pants out of a medium-weight blue stripe with the side panels and waistband made from this Boys Toys Cars Blue fabric. This is the same pattern as the pants in my last post, from the book Sewing for Boys. I made a simple applique for the blue t-shirt by cutting out an oval patch from the car fabric, fusing it on, then zig-zagging around it.

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This picture shows the cute waistband, as well as the adorable dinosaur headdress and mitts his Aunt Molly made for him.

car-cakeHere’s the birthday boy with his vroom vroom cake, baked and iced by my mom. He loved it. He’s trying to show us that he’s three, but he can’t get his cute little pinky finger to stay down! Now, a couple weeks out, he’s learned to hold that finger down while he’s giving us his age visual. Sweet boy.

A cupcake birthday

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My first baby turned six today! We’ve been celebrating for a week. We’d never before hosted a “friend” birthday party but we did this year. Such fun! I cut a cupcake shape from a cardboard box and Dorothy painted it. We staged this photo, then I used Photoshop to add words to the cupcake for her invitation. They looked sweet printed on metallic paper from Mpix and I made postcards from the same print with only the words “thank you” on the cupcake.

Dorothy chose a Michael Miller print with cupcakes for her birthday dress fabric and insisted that I use the same pattern (Simplicity 5704) I’d used for cousin Lila’s pony dress. I really was into the idea of making her birthday dress but I had computer problems two  weeks ago that prevented me from doing anything crafty since I basically spent all my free time for a week trying to buy a new hard drive, back up files, and act like I knew what I was doing. When the week of her birthday party arrived I hadn’t yet made her dress or the cupcake pajamas she also insisted she needed, given that the friend celebration was to occur in pajamas. I stayed up very late one night sewing the dress, was pleased with the result, then stayed up the next night making her pajamas based on a pair of pajama pants I took out of her drawer as I was tucking her in. The next morning she woke up and said, “oh mom, I forgot to tell you last night, but those pajama pants you took downstairs last night are way too big.” Oy. And the homemade pants were too, but I altered them a bit and they were still cute, if a bit bunchy.

The dress was darling on her but Dorothy may have been the most pleased with the new shoes her grandparents bought her. She fell in love with them on their birthday shopping trip and insisted that six was old enough to wear “high heels.” I’ll never tell her that I don’t really consider these girly little sandals to be high heels. She’s been clomping around the house in them like six-year-old royalty.

I purchased cupcake-themed goodies from Oriental Trading Company and the kids had a great time dividing the little rubber stamps, temporary tattoos and other cupcake ephemera into pink cellophane bags for the party. We invited nineteen children and all of them showed up. Dorothy declared herself a “party animal.” Indeed.

After surviving the adorable mob of small cupcake-eating girls in pastel pajamas on Friday night we hosted a more staid fete for our close family the next afternoon. Nana, at Dorothy’s request, made a sheet cake with a cupcake on it.

Many of our small party guests brought handmade cards. I hung some string on our mantel so we could display all her special birthday cards for a few days to fully appreciate them.

With all the parties over we’re getting back to our routine. Soon it will be time to make decisions about schooling for next year. Our homeschool routine is so cozy and laid back I think it might be hard to make a choice for “away” school (Dorothy’s term), no matter how fond we are of the options we’ve applied to. She’s begging to stay home, probably because she hates setting the alarm. (She gets that from me.) We’ll see. In the meantime my kindergartener is getting in plenty of relaxed time with our little cast of characters at home in the mornings and many great experiences in our afternoon activities out and about. She does Girl Scouts, soccer, gymnastics, Sunday School, ballet, and church choir. I always giggle a little inside when people express concern about homeschoolers getting enough socialization.

On a different subject, I made more new accent pillows for the sofa. I just can’t stop. I’m keeping all the old ones, of course, but changing them seasonally really seems to give great impact for little effort. This green and white Ikat print makes the whole room feel springy. Like cupcakes, you know, but without all that sugar.