Friday, September 12, 2014

DIY Disney Autograph/Scrapbook

It's crafty time! After discussing the Disney trip with my partner in crime I was worried that Roo would feel left out because Boo has an autograph book and always has it signed. My family has never done the autograph thing, but with everything being so match-y and even for our birthday princesses I decided she should have something. I decided as long as I didn't spend any money on it it would be a nice way to de-stress.

Cardstock Supplies


  • Thin Cardboard (ex: cereal box, shirt box, etc)
  • Card Stock in a variety of colors
  • Scrapbooking paper
  • Glue Stick
  • Crop-a-dile/hole punch
  • Disney Embellishments (Stickers, Paper, Pictures of Characters, etc)
  • Scissors
  • Glitter Pens/glitter
  • Ribbon
  • Metal Rings
Front Cover Front Cover Inside

I plucked a silver shirt box from our recycle bin for the cover. Mike helped me cut two even sized rectangle pieces about 6x8in. I wanted mine a little larger than the standard autograph books because I wanted to be able to add photos, tickets, etc after the trip. Once we had these two silver rectangle cover pieces Mike suggested we emboss it. We printed an image of Minnie Mouse's head (just the outline) and then laid the paper over the silver side. Pressing down very firmly with a pencil we traced Minnie. Viola! Super simple.

Next, I flipped the cover over and cut a piece of scrapbook paper to glue over top of the cardboard. I chose a silver sparkly piece of paper because I wanted to create the bibbidi bobbidi boo moment. After I had my magic sparkly background I added a Cinderella sticker in the corner. Next, I drew a pumpkin on orange paper. I traced a large circle and wrote "Princess Riley's Birthday Adventure 2014" then I erased some of the edges and made them more pumpkin-shaped. I used paper with a subtle texture and drew lines with colored pencils and markers. After I had my pumpkin I used my Martha Steward vine cutter and green paper to make pumpkin vines. I placed the pumpkin in the top corner and then make vines shooting out in all directions as if the pumpkin were caught in the moment right before it became the carriage.

Back Cover Back Cover Inside

I kept the back cover super simple. I just put a Tinkerbell sticker in the center and a "Disney Memories" sticker beneath that. These are all things I had laying around, a lot of people have given me their excess craft supplies especially Disney themed (and I soooooo appreciate them). If you're not as fortunate as I am most of the background paper and stickers are available at any craft store or even Amazon. Then I flipped it over and covered the ugly cardboard inside with this adorable rainbow Mickey silhouette paper. It didn't line up exactly right so I added some chocolate brown ribbon on either side. I'm so in love with that paper!

Vintage Mickey Page Royal Ball

With covers down it was time to make pages. I traced the cover onto solid card stock and cut ten pages. Next I embellished each page with stickers, background paper, ribbon, glitter. I just choice themes for each page based on my craft supplies. I have a vintage fab five page, a Snow White and the seven dwarfs page, a Cinderella's castle page, a mad tea party page, and an under the sea page to name a few. When adding glitter I made sure I stuck to one area so it wouldn't cause bumps in signatures. Feel free to embellish front and back I did for a few of mine. As I finished pages I laid them under a heavy book to dry (unless they had wet glitter). When I couldn't find the exact thing I wanted a picture of/sticker for I did a Google image search and printed it out. One of my favorite pages I made has a princess group shot that I printed that includes Aurora in the now rare blue dress (my favorite!). Remember to steer clear of putting anything to close to the left edge where you need to punch your holes.

Hole Punch Template Holes

Now for me, deciding the order of the pages was tricky. When I cut my card stock I split up the colors neatly, but when embellishing the pages I'd changed the which pages should be together. I cleared my table of craft supplies and moved the pages around and around until I was happy. Next, I used a scrap piece of cardboard and measured the left side of a page against it, marking "X"s for my three holes. Then I used my template and crop-a-dile to punch holes in the covers and pages.

Once all the holes were punched I had to put each ring through one page at a time. I got the smallest size, thinking there would be less wear and tear, but if your planning to continue adding pages the larger size rings are probably faster to put on. Once each ring was closed I gently tested turning pages. My holes turned out to be a bit to far in so I trimmed the edge (again leave yourself that margin, just in case). Once the pages turned freely, I chose some red ribbon with white polka dots a la Minnie and cut three strips. You just need enough to tie little knots, they don't need to be even. I tied a ribbon around each ring. Ta-da!

Page Test Finished

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

DIY Disney Shirts

I decided the girls needed special shirts. Princess birthday trip shirts and they could be the gift they open to reveal the trip. Mike decided I needed to learn how to silk screen my own shirts and bought the supplies which gave us some fun options. After a brief tutorial on how screen printing works, I knew we needed Cinderella's silhouette. I wanted it to be clear it was their birthdays and we already had their names in fun princess font too. Ready, set, shirts...


  • White Shirts (I got mine at Target for $4 they had little bows on one shoulder)
  • Silk Screening Kit or alternately this technique with freezer paper
  • Screen Printing Ink
  • Transparency Film
  • T-shirt Transfer Paper
  • Images you want to use & Photo editing software (we used Paintshop Pro)
  • A Birthday Girl or Two!


Film & Transfer Front Design

I chose the silhouette of Cinderella holding up her gown on either side to admire it. It's a great shape and totally appropriate for some little girls getting princess make-overs via fairy godmothers. I used Paintshop to make a transparent background for the silhouette. We decided to add Cinderella's mice carrying a birthday cake across the bottom. After lots of image searches I gave Mike a few good images of Cinderella's little friends and a birthday cake. He edited out the mice in appropriate positions for cake carrying and pieced together the images for the front and back of the shirt. After all that editing, Mike cut the shape of the mice running by out of the silhouette. First, he made a layer that was just the mice with contrast adjusted all the way to white with the silhouette behind them (for the transparency). Then he made a second image with just the mice in regular color for the t-shirt transfer paper.

On the back of the shirt we had each girl's name in princess font on the top and then Gus Gus holding a match next to a piece of cake with a "5" candle (that he put in backwards, oh Gus Gus). Everything except Cinderella is going to be an iron on transfer. We wanted to avoid doing the whole shirt as an iron on because they don't allow the cotton to breathe and it gets hot. Plus, silk screening, Yay! We decided to do Cinderella in a blue gradient, but I've seen lots of folks choose hot pink and it's adorable.

Print your silhouette on your transparency film. Don't forget to take the film out before you do any day to day printing. Then make a page of all your iron-on elements in Paintshop. Don't forget to reverse them so they will face the right way on the shirt! Print them out on your t-shirt transfer paper.

Gus Gus Cake Princess Font

Making Them

First, paint a thin layer of photo emulsion on both sides of the silk screen. Allow that to dry in complete darkness overnight.

Next, cut out you're iron-on elements with as little white around them as possible. I recommend tiny sewing scissors for small details. Do not cut them apart. Leave them connected so that they are all in the same positions relative to each other. Iron on following the t-shirt transfer paper instructions. You can look at your Cinderella on the transparency as a guide to show you where to put the mice on the front of the shirt.

Then lay the transparency film on top so that the mice match their outlines and leave in strong direct light (sunlight, strong incandescent lamp, etc). The brighter the light source the shorter the time it takes. We used my Ott lamp and it took about an hour, direct mid day sunlight would have taken 25min or so. During this process the photo emulsion exposed to light is bonded together into a plastic-y substance and the emulsion shaded by the transparency film remains more chalk-like. Wash everything you can off the screen this creates your negative space. Prepare your shirt by putting something flat and smooth (not bumpy like cardboard) in between the layers of your shirt. Use something that will wipe clean if it gets inky. Mike recommends particle board.

I got four shirts, just in case and I recommend doing a test run if this is your first time. Next, place your shirt underneath the screen. Arrange your paint along one edge and then squeegee across your stencil. We used Speedball screen printing ink. We did had the paint so it went from lighter blue into darker blue towards the bottom of the gown. We mixed and marbled the inks ourselves into two cups. One with more of the darker color, the other with more of the lighter and poured them out into two blobs on paper plates. That way the paint would marble itself. Allow the shirt to dry completely.

Give them to the Birthday Princesses

Finished Front Princess Font


Smiles & Shock Hugs

The moms are excited too!!


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Happy Anti-Bionic-Aversary

AHHHH Creepy Smile
Bag of Parts

All that horrible metal came out of my back one year ago today, September 9th. I've survived a lot, but the back surgeries are still a pretty raw nerve so I'll keep this short and sweet. Woo-hoo, 365 days of no metal in my spine! I wish I could say it was a pain free year, not even close, but it was totally the right call. Healing is such a long process. I still have the bag of screws and rods. I've been encouraged to make some kind of art piece with it, but even a year later I'm not there yet. Someday, I'll either make something beautiful out of all that ugly metal or I'll throw it away, but not today. It's just a reminder that you have to "just keep swimming."

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Somebody's "A Whole Hand" Years Old

Roo Cupcakes Presents

This year in lieu of my usual theme-a-poloza in honor of her birth I told Roo I'd take her on a birthday adventure. I brought Frozen pull apart cupcakes to school. I also made a special balloon run to surprise her before the class "party" (more Frozen, of course). Since we didn't have an official party theme I wanted her birthday shirt to be something not to fussy. Something fun rather than super girly. So I got "If you (picture of a mustache) I'm five!" from little hipster tees on Etsy. The crown with the sparkly 5 came out of a birthday card from grandparents, when your birthday's so early in the school year teachers rarely have it together enough to have a crown for you and for Roo that would be unacceptable.

We have a big family and a lot of close friends and without a party we wanted to make sure they didn't miss out on a chance to see the birthday girl on her special day. I skipped elaborate invites and sent a simple digital one letting everyone know which coffee shop we'd be hanging out in that morning and inviting them to swing by. We had a great morning, there was lots of love.

We also revealed that we'd be taking Miss Roo and her best-ie (whose birthday is 20 days later) to Disney. A princess-tastic birthday trip complete with princess make-overs and dinner in the castle! She was a bit overwhelmed at the time, but as the day wore on and it sunk in she got more and more excited.

Elsa Wishes

After nap I gave her the last two presents from Mom and Dad. Isn't she stunning in that Elsa dress? She decided to wear that for her dinner with the princesses, can you blame her? Wow. Totally worth the website stalking it took to get it and the months of secrecy while it hung in my closet waiting for the big day! She also got an Ariel bed tent, is there anything cooler than sleeping in a tent and your own bed at the same time? I think not. It was a great day for me too. No frantic cleaning, no huge party to orchestrate or clean up and tons of quality time with Roo. We just played with new toys and hung out. Then after dinner she donned new jammies and another birthday crown and I put five candles in the four leftover cupcakes from the day before. We sang and after a few tries she blew them out. I can't imagine what was left to wish for...

Friday, September 5, 2014

Mother's Intuition

It is real and it should be listened too. Most of the worst mom guilt I've suffered has been because I didn't listen to my gut. As a mother there are so many, many decisions. They all seem so important at the time (and some are). It's hard not to wonder if you're to emotional, to close to something, paranoid or down right crazy. You have to do the best with what you have at that moment. We're only human.

I think sometimes bad things happen to make you stronger or wise. Other times bad things happen to force you to move on. I would do anything for my children, the trouble is identifying the right "anything." I worried a lot about choosing the wrong thing for a long time, but there had been this wave of certainty for awhile. I enjoyed it and perhaps got a little to cozy. I trusted so much in what I was doing that when there was a problem (cue cartoon car brakes squealing) it really threw a wrench in the works.

While I suffered the seven stages of grief, with denial being a repeat offender, I wrestled with my intuition. I wrestled it black and blue. I got emotional and then emotional about being emotional. I racked my brain for a way to fix things. I would have done anything. I was at a complete loss. How was the situation so bad? How come I wasn't able to fix it? How come I didn't know what to do? I was a failure. A failure for putting my child in that situation, a failure for not being able to fix it, a failure for not knowing what to do know.

My relationships became strained with everyone in my house. The days dragged and focusing on anything else was very hard. I tried talking about it, writing about it, actively suggested solutions, being more present, being less present, giving more, doing more and finally I hit a wall. From my stunned position I looked up from flat on my back and saw things from a new perspective.

Air began filling my lungs and my intuition took the floor, citing all of my observations in neat little graphs and pie charts. There was an obvious answer, it just hurt. Could I afford to continue waiting? No. Could I do more? No. Could I do this? Yes, but...Ouch. What's the bottom line? The happiness and safety of my children. Can the biggest problem be solved? Not in time for me and my child. Darn grown up responsibility.

I've got a map now, but it is rough, scary terrain. Why didn't I do this sooner? Why didn't I have a plan B? Shame on me! Then I scurried around calling, talking, emailing, hoping and praying. Sick to my stomach and putting on a happy face for the kids. Just knowing it was time to find a way. There had to be a way to get my child back, to get my sanity back, to banish the daily fear and feel good about my decisions again.

I tried everything until something stuck and I stuck to it. I followed all the rules, showed due respect and marched bravely forward. I fought so hard for so long and now that I had an answer the fight was harder than ever. I did what I had to do and the immediate response wasn't happy. The secondary response wasn't either truthfully and nothing was easy. Then it was over which just left the letting go. Which is super hard and takes time. Maybe next time intuition is kind enough to call I'll pick up the darn phone!

As things slowly (but much faster than they went wrong) go back to normal, I know I did the right thing for my family. Every happy day since is is more appreciated than it would have been before. I'm filled gratitude and have the gift of a new perspective.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Blogging for Books: Just My Typo

Time for another book review? More humor is just the ticket.

Just My Typo
By: Drummond Moir

Book Cover

Who doesn't love a good typo? I am a chronic misspell-er/coma miss-er. I quite enjoyed this collection of typos. My favorite hands down is the misprint in a cookbook's souffle instructions warning to "avoid peeing the oven. It may compromise the flavor." These priceless misprints kept me chuckling for the duration. There is nothing funnier than someone trying to be incredibly serious and failing, in my opinion. I was surprised by the quantity and variety of the typos in the book. Everything from legal documents, cell phone auto corrects gone wrong to kid's homework answers.

I recommend it to anyone looking for a light read and few good laughs. Read it, then lend it to a friend long enough to forget some, then re-read it.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Bumps in the Road


This week didn't run as smoothly for the kids as last week. Nothing earth shattering, just not smooth. Isaac mistakenly went to the wrong class, but everybody has to do that once. He also took a spill off of his bike. You know how they say most accidents happen close to home? Yup, it was just up the block. He really enjoys ridding his bike to school. The independence has already done him good, I see him trying things on his own and taking responsibility more. When he came home Thursday he was obviously attempting to break the sound barrier (which is fine on an empty bike trail), but when he exited the trail into our neighborhood he didn't slow down. He went down the incline to fast, kicked the pedal backward to hard and derailed his bike chain. His bike flipped over, he tore his pants and skinned his knee.

He was shaken up, his pants are unsalvageable and his chain needed to be reattached, but otherwise he's fine. If Mike and I weren't 100% confident in his ability to get to and from school he wouldn't be ridding his bike. We know he can do this safely on his own. He's blessed to live so close to his school and have a bike trail from our neighborhood that runs part of the way to school. We live in a great neighborhood that's always abuzz with families walking to and from the elementary school and even though I don't know everyone's names, I know we all look out for each other's kids.

Once Isaac was cleaned up with Neosoporin on his scraps we had a serious talk about bike safety. I told him to think of it this way "You can drive 70mph down the highway for miles and miles, but when you hit the exit ramp if you don't slow your car down to 40mph you can hurt or kill someone or yourself." He fixed and tested his bike chain this morning by himself (and was beaming with pride). We discussed bike safety again this morning (with Mike this time) and made a concrete plan for where to meet us if it's raining to hard to bike home. I think that overturned bike and scrapped knee were a good reality check. I'm certainly proud of him for not giving up on ever ridding a bike again (as he would have in his younger days), but viewing it instead as a learning experience. I told him "It was caused by your bad decision, which is great news because it means you can prevent it from ever happening again." I don't think he realized how grown up he's becoming until he got a chance to dust himself off from that spill.


Miss Roo's week wasn't all sunshine and roses either. She was out of sorts most mornings this week. A fire drill during nap earlier in the week (thanks guys!) brought us the night of 100 meltdowns and threw off her schedule. She's been cranky, mean and not herself. Thursday morning was by far the worst. She refused to get up. Then she didn't want to get dressed and then her breakfast was all wrong. There were tears over the way I did her hair and not letting her bring toys to school. When we were ready to get in the car I had to enlist Mike to carry her kicking and complaining to her car seat because she wanted to play on the computer before school (that has NEVER been allowed for either kid). We chatted on the way to school and I tried all my usual tricks: made sure she had her listening ears on, asked her to throw bad attitude away, talked to her about all the fun things she was going to do, and even sang a song. When we got to school she had a fit in the parking lot (so embarrassing). I was sure she would get to her classroom and be all smiles (it had never failed before). Instead she had to be coaxed into the room for several minutes at which time she laid down on the floor and did her best Gandalf impression.

I hugged her and encouraged her to make good choices. I was completely certain that my leaving would inspire better behavior. For the most part she did alright from what I hear, but she had a bad note at the end of the day. It said "She had a lot of trouble cleaning up." That was a surprise because obviously she knows the drill and is usually a great helper. Then one of her friends told me she was crying during outside time. Riley claimed that she "missed Mommy." At the end of the school day on the playground? Nope, don't think so. One of her other friends chimed in that "It was because she said a bad word." The teacher in the room at the time wasn't the same teacher who had been on the playground with her, but she had heard about it. Roo and her buddy were trading silly insults "cheese buggers", etc and Roo apparently called out "ass". I imagine that it got quite a reaction from her friend and she repeated it to the delight/horror of her classmates. She was taken aside by the teacher who addressed how inappropriate the language was at which point Roo cried because she was afraid the teacher would tell me what she said.

Having gotten to the bottom of things I am certain she was overtired all day. I'm a little stunned that she used that word at all, but she was very rational about it on the way home. I suggested silly things to call our friends like "cotton headed ninny muggins" or "silly gilly gumble" and reminded her that no game that hurts someone's feelings is a good idea. That even if she didn't mean to hurt someone's feelings that's not a nice word and it isn't allowed at school. She chimed in saying "Yeah, no potty words at school." I explained that no one is allowed to use language like that at school not the parents, not the teachers, nobody. Then I asked her if she's ever heard a princess say that word. She hadn't and we agreed if princesses don't say it Roo shouldn't either.

Just like with her brother I wanted her to recognize her poor choices and then learn and move on. We didn't dwell on it after that conversation and I made a point of getting her to bed early that night. This morning she was herself again. Bubbly and reasonable (for an almost 5yr old). She promised to help clean up and only use nice words at school today.

To my independent, problem solving children: these are just bumps in the road, they won't be the last. I'm proud of you.