DIY Baby Mobile

As I have mentioned in previous posts, my sister recently had a little boy – the first grandchild/niece/nephew in the family! It has been an exciting year and a bit watching her pregnancy and getting to meet my favourite person in the whole world. Nephew J is 7 months old now and absolutely the light of everyone’s lives.

My sister and her husband didn’t find out the gender of the baby before birth, so when it came time to make something personal for her baby shower, I had a hard time choosing what to do. I settled on making a baby mobile with bright colours which could be swapped out if necessary/desired.

In my many hours looking on Pinterest and Google for ideas, I stumbled on a picture of felt balls, which I felt could suit my needs. They look like this:

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They are extremely simple to make (about 2 hours for the whole mobile craft) and look gorgeous!

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You’ll need:

– 10 sheets of felt (2 each of five colours), 9 x 12 inches
– Two objects which can trace a circle onto your felt
– Twine
– Needle and thread
– Embroidery hoop – I used one that was 14 inches

How to:

1) Trace and cut nine circles per size for each colour – I used cups which were 2.5 inches and 3 1/8 inches in diameter and found that this fit perfectly on the felt I purchased. If you would like to increase the size of the felt balls, you will likely need to purchase more felt.

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2) Thread and knot your needle

3) Fold two circles in half, and then in half again

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4) Place one folded “petal” on each side of another one of your felt circles and put a few stitches in the corner of the petal/middle of the circle

5) Repeat until all 8 petals have been placed on the ninth circle

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6) Fluff the felt outwards in order to form the desired shape

7) Repeat with all ten felt balls

8) Cut 5 pieces of the desired length of twine for your mobile

9) Tie knots at the bottom of the twine and in the spot where you would like your second ball to be placed

10) Place the knots in the centre of each ball and stitch around it to secure

11) Tie four of the five strands of twine evenly to the embroidery circle – ensure that it balances!

12) Cut two more pieces of twine and tie them so that they form a perfect cross – hang the final set of felt balls where they intersect in the middle

13) Cut one more piece of twine and tie it overhead as a “hanger”. Use your discretion for the length of this piece and ensure it balances prior to knotting them to the embroidery circle.

14) Voila! You’re done!

Maybe Martha’s notes

– If you would like to make these felt balls for other purposes (I’m making a garland for an upcoming party!), you can speed up the process by using hot glue to attach the petals. I am quicker with a needle and thread, so have a feeling I will stick with that but I know there are a number of hot glue gun whizzes!

– In addition to preferring needle and thread, I felt it was important to sew the ones that I made as they are going over baby’s crib. I have a lot more faith in  numerous stitches than I do in the glue (though I’m sure both would be fine).

– My sister loved the mobile, but once they had the boy and had decorated the nursery, she asked if I could change the colours of the felt balls and also the embroidery circle. They have all mahogany in the baby’s room, so I lightly sanded the embroidery circle and stained it over two days. This was very easy to do and makes the craft even more versatile as it can really go into any room!

I hope you had a wonderful weekend and have a very happy week 🙂

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Chai Spice Cookies

I am a big fan of trying new recipes and when making savoury recipes, I enjoy making small adjustments here and there to create something unique. When it comes to baking, however, I have found it hard to shake the thought that without following a specific recipe, it simply won’t turn out well.

That changed the day that I stumbled on Chai Spice Baking Blend on a recent trip to Calgary.

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I purchased it immediately (along with about $70 more worth of delicious spices which have since become staples in my cooking repertoire) and daydreamed about all of the possibilities. So far, I have used it in a cocktail, on top of a latte and in the following cookie recipe. I don’t think it is too much of an exaggeration to say that it would be good in almost everything, but I’ll let you know if I discover otherwise.

Having decided that the spice would be perfect for cookies, I purchased a few fun ingredients to experiment with and began. I’m lucky enough to say the first round turned out almost perfectly!

Chai Spice Cookies

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup and 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chai baking spice (I found this recipe for homemade chai spice if you can’t find a pre-mixed spice like the one I mentioned above)
Optional: bakers choice of 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips, Skor bits or walnuts (or all of the above!)

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350° and prep two baking trays by covering them with parchment pape

2) Cream together butter, sugar and brown sugar

3) Mix in egg and vanilla

4) Add remaining dry ingredients and stir until blended

5) Blend in your choice of addition, or keep them plain

6) Gather one inch “balls” of dough (mine are rarely perfect balls and more so lumps of dough that are about one inch) and place on the baking sheets

7) Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until you notice a slight browning of the edges/bottom

Maybe Martha’s advice on additions

Based on the taste test conducted in the office, there is no definitive answer as to which addition is the best. I found that the taste of the walnuts were somewhat drowned out by the spice in the cookies. While they provided some crunch, they weren’t all together necessary for flavour. The white chocolate chips and Skor were a little more pronounced in taste but the spice overwhelmed these as well.

I did make some cookies that included all three additions and found that they were a delicious mix of flavour. That said, the winner for me were the plain chai spice cookies. They were interesting and had layers of flavour that were the perfect addition to afternoon tea or coffee without needing all of the other stuff in there.

I hope you enjoy the cookies!

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DVD Organization

Back in the day, I was obsessed with owning my favourite movies and TV shows on DVD. I still remember asking for the first Harry Potter DVD for Christmas and being completely thrilled that my parents had bought it for me…and spent $30 to give me the privilege of being able to watch my favourite movie four times per week (which I’m pretty sure I did). I amassed a large collection over the years, but I have recently found other things that I like to buy which I felt I could use the space for. Purses, shoes, my new KitchenAid stand mixer (!!!!!)…all of these things warrant the space my DVDs once held now that I am an “adult” (or so they call me).

Before I get into details, take a look at this before and after…

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I figured the best way store them was to get as many DVDs in as small a space as possible and I recalled that I always used to store my CDs in various CD “books”. However, the dedicated books for DVD storage are expensive and (usually) unattractive. So I decided to make my own!

I bought 1 inch binders with reinforced rings. I found that reinforced rings made the binders a slight bit more expensive (less than a dollar more per binder), but more functional given the weight that ends up on the rings. I also bought a full pad of scrapbook paper with attractive designs that fit my aesthetic. Finally, I bought DVD inserts to go in the binders.

When I had the idea for the project, I was still looking for a job and as such, was quite sensitive to cost. In short, this means that I started this project a year ago and just finished it on Tuesday after finally deciding that it was worth the money. The other implication of this is that I had a lot of time to research and get exactly what I wanted. I finally settled on purchasing these DVD sheets. They were not overly expensive compared to other options (only $25 for sheets with room for 200 DVDs) and also had the DVDs set in to the edge of the sheet. This means that the sheets won’t stick out the side of the binder, which helps keep it attractive on shelves.

The only actual crafting which needed to take place was creating the covers for the binders. The binders I purchased had a plastic overlay, meaning that I could alter the cover and side as I chose. I used the scrapbooking paper and cut it down to size.

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For a one inch binder, I measured 11.3 inches x 10 inches for the front cover and 1.3 inches x 11.3 inches for the side. Conveniently, 1.3 inches was exactly the width of my ruler which made measuring the side quite easy. Before you think that’s a typo, the 1 inch designation refers to the rings inside the binder, making the outside side of the binder over 1 inch (it caught me off guard as well!)

After creating my covers, I took a walk down memory lane and organized my DVD collection (alphabetically for my sanity).

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One Tree Hill was often a study distraction for me in university

I would recommend not putting more than 6 sheets in each 1 inch binder. This number can obviously be increased with larger binders, but I found that 6 sheets was the maximum for the width of the binder and the weight of the DVDs.

I was quite pleased with the end result.

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Much cuter and much less space – they easily fit on my bookshelf! I have also made two more binders with a 2 inch width to organize my bills and my recipes. All in all, a very successful craft!

Now to figure out what fun things I can do with those empty DVD cases…

….No, but for real this time

Oopsies. I guess I let it slip again. I’ll get the hang of this whole “regular posting” thing soon, I promise!

A new year and a new me! That’s what I say to myself every December 29-31 of a year. And then January 1 rolls around, and I head to McDonald’s to soothe my (hungover) soul and immediately berate myself for my delicious and yet exceedingly sub-par choice in food for the first day of the new me.

No longer!

One thing that I know is that true change is a long process. I have been reading a lot of blogs and posts surrounding lifestyle changes and how to accomplish things that you have set out to do, and one thing that stuck out to me was the idea that it isn’t motivation that allows you to make changes (it is fleeting and once your motivation is gone, your changes go with it), but instead it is all about dedication and discipline.

That is what I hope to base 2015 around. I want to find a way to make myself more disciplined and dedicated to my goals, while at the same time balancing a fun and exciting life. For example, I find joy in cooking and baking and strongly believe that eating delicious foods is one of life’s most pure and delightful experiences. I refuse to buy into the notion that I can’t accomplish my fitness and health goals without giving up these things. What I hope to accomplish, with those two fancy “d” words, is understanding how to work these passions into a healthy lifestyle and reach my goals while maintaining that all important balance.

In the same way, I hope to push myself to work on the book I started so many years ago, become better at this whole blogging thing, learn how to use my fun new DSLR camera (Merry Christmas to me! Love, me…and the amazing sale at Walmart) and keep having fun.

I feel a little trite writing all of this down, especially after declaring “No longer!” to my concept of a new year and a new me. To be honest, I’m not even sure if the whole post will make sense to anyone who may read this; I’m pretty sure it’s just a lot of words to describe conflicting ideals that I have somehow made into one overarching, non-sensical goal.

I suppose the conclusion that I have come to is that this change will not happen overnight. For the first time, I am not setting specific “resolutions” that I can check off on December 31, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. Instead, I have examined what I want to accomplish in my the next little while (not specifically in the next 12 months) and how I can begin accomplishing it. I’m going to work at it all slowly and my only hope is that on December 31, 2015 at 11:59 p.m., I can look at the past 12 months and recognize positive changes that I have made and be able to say “I am truly happy with my progress.”

So here is to 2015…onwards, upwards and no regrets! Because let’s be real…that New Year’s Day McDonald’s was delicious and necessary to my existence after the celebration that ended 2014 and it also wasn’t anything that a few extra trips to the gym can’t help. It may not be discipline, but at least it’s dedication…and a start.