I Blinked and Qwynn is Three!

 

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Qwynn’s birthday month is coming to an end and it’s still hard to believe we have a 3-year-old! The last few months have been a whirlwind of emotions and I’ve been savoring every moment (as proved by my lack of blog posts the last few months!)

Since starting in her new classroom this last September, I have been truly impressed with how Qwynn has grown and developed into such a fun, bright and independent young girl. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning, playing and having daily conversations with her. She’s spelling months from memory, LOVES counting and numbers, and her language has just flourished. She doesn’t even seem like a toddler to me anymore. She is a little girl. A true threenager!

We had such a wonderful time celebrating her 3rd birthday with friends and family in my soul city…Denver, CO. If you know me well, then you know when it comes to Qwynn’s birthday celebrations, I just can’t do simple. Flying on an airplane across the country couldn’t even keep me from creating a fabulous party to celebrate my beautiful daughter!

One disadvantage of a January birthday is that you always need an inside venue, and that can get pricey. We also needed a place to stay for a couple nights while we were in Denver.

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We were quite satisfied with our first Airbnb experience during our Chicago visit this last November, and decided to look into it for this trip, too. We were able to find a great apartment downtown with enough space for us, Tyson’s brother and two of our friends to stay and it was the perfect size to host Qwynn’s small party! WIN-WIN! (We did make sure this was okay with the Airbnb host before we booked it.)

When I asked Qwynn what kind of birthday party she wanted she said “white!” The first thought that came to mind was winter, and it ended up being one of my best ideas yet!! Plus, with her birthday just a few weeks after Christmas, I got almost everything on sale or clearance!

I managed to throw a wonderful winter themed birthday party for her, and I fit everything I needed into my small carry-on sized suitcase. Everything went so perfectly, I’ve even considered looking into starting a business for it…Party in a Suitcase!

Qwynn’s Destination Winter-Themed Birthday

One of my favorite things to make…The Banner! I am just a little doily obsessed, so I had to incorporate them into Qwynn’s banner. I love the elegance of paper doilies, mixed with the ruggedness of the burlap twine. Since we were in a rental, command hooks were perfect for hanging the banner.

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I used the stocking holders I refurbished from the Target Dollar Spot to hang snowflake lights (less than $10 on Amazon) and the banner I made for Qwynn’s party at school on the kitchen island.

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At Target, I also found white snowflake tins for 50 cents to hold the plasticware and burlap trees for $1.50 each, which I painted white for a snowy look.  I found clear candle holders at the 99 Cent Store across the street from our apartment and etched snowflakes on them for a little added decoration. I used glittery silver flameless candles from Party City to put inside them because I didn’t think it was a good idea to have open flames in a rental.

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These paper stars look like snowflakes and came from Target’s Christmas clearance ($4 for the large, $2 for the small.) Plus, they fold completely flat! I got a variety of balloons from Amazon and had them filled at Party City the day of the party.

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I made my own ballon weights using these cute tins from Target. I filled them with a rice, bean, and lentil mixture left over from the centerpieces from my dad’s birthday party, and then hot glued cotton balls to a piece of cardboard to make a lid. I got the burlap lace ribbon on Christmas clearance at Michaels and made the snowflake embellishment using card stock and my Cricut.

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I also got these snowflake ornaments on clearance at Michaels, and it just so happened the apartment had a tree to hang them on!

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I had known the apartment had a ton of windows, so I purchased a couple packs of suction cup hooks from the 99 Cent Store and hung paper snowflakes (Michaels clearance) using burlap twine.

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I’ve bought clay cake toppers for all of Qwynn’s birthdays and hope to keep up the tradition for years to come! This one came from the Etsy shop Hand Crafted Critters by Carly. She does amazing work and they are completely customizable!

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I bought the favor bags at Michaels (Christmas Clearance once again!) and filled them with winter-themed goodies I found on Amazon and yummy Annie’s fruit snacks.

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Overall, I couldn’t have been happier with how Qwynn’s party turned out and I look forward to creating even more magical parties in the future!

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Valerie Anne

Easy DIY Mermaid Costume

When Tyson’s brother first invited us to the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, I debated how much I wanted to get into it. I didn’t want to go all out, but I decided it might be fun to at least make Qwynn a simple costume. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money or a lot of time on it either, so I gave myself a $20 budget and headed to Michaels!

I knew that Michaels’ fabric selection was limited, but I was able to find 4 small squares of different green fabric designs. The problem is they didn’t have any fabric pieces large enough for the base of the mermaid skirt. I continued walking through the store and eventually came across the t-shirt section. Lightbulb!

What an inexpensive way to get a large piece of fabric! As I looked at the t-shirt more the vision just came to me—I turned it up side down and I now had a floor length skirt with a hemmed waist…essentially. I grabbed a light green small adult t-shirt and continued on. I found a piece of glittery pink felt that I thought would work perfectly for the seashell top. With my coupon (Michaels ALWAYS has coupons), my purchase total for everything was just under $10!

When I got home I searched through all my craft stuff to see what else I had that would be useful. I found some green ribbon left over from Qwynn’s first birthday. I also dug out Qwynn’s old pink sparkly skirt that was too small for her from the goodwill bag.

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Now usually when I decide to make something like this, I end up spending so much more money than if I would have just bought it already made. My projects also seem to take wayyyy longer than I anticipate. This project however was so easy, I was pleasantly surprised at how quick it went and how little I spent on it.

For the mermaid skirt, I started by putting the t-shirt on Qwynn and pinning the sides to get an approximate fit.

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I used the pins as a guide and drew my mermaid skirt shape.

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I do not own a sewing machine and I wouldn’t be able to use it even if I did. Luckily I have discovered a wonderful thing called sewing tape! It is about $5-6 at Michaels, but with a coupon you could easily get it down to $3-4. The only other thing you need is an iron. I used the iron-on tape to “sew” the sides of the skirt and the bottom hem.

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I was originally going to make the fins out of the t-shirt and continue the scales all the way down, but I discovered that would make the bottom too tight and impossible for Qwynn to walk, so I cut the fins off. Instead, I cut approximately 1-inch strips of the fabric and hot glued them to the bottom of the skirt, layering them to get a full look. This was a great solution because I didn’t need to be very exact in cutting the strips since I was okay with a more ragged look. And it didn’t take long to hot glue them on either.

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For the waist of the skirt I cut tiny slits in the collar ever two inches or so and thread the ribbon through it so I could tie it snug around Qwynn’s waist.

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The final step for the skirt was attaching the scales. I only covered the front to save time. I cut three different sized scales out of card stock to use as tracers for the fabric.

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Tracing and cutting the scales was by far the most tedious part of the project, so if you are not a control freak like I am ;-), I suggest recruiting help. I attached all the scales by using about two-inch pieces of sewing tape along the top of each one.

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For the seashell top, I used the sheer fabric from Qwynn’s old pink skirt, a small pink hair rubber band for the center, and shells cut from the pink felt. I attached the shells to the sheer fabric with hot glue.

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Qwynn already had a light-colored t-shirt to wear under the shell top which was the final piece to the costume. That, and a big smile! 🙂

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I am still so shocked at how smooth this project went and I am absolutely thrilled with how it turned out! Best of all, I came out way under my $20 budget!!

Valerie Anne

DIY Saturday: Cardboard Kitchen Center

I have been crafting and creating things since I can remember. Back in the day I was a Girl Scout, in 4H Club and I took art class until I graduated high school. Growing up, my dad’s philosophy was always “Why buy it if you can make it yourself?” I follow this philosophy a lot.

Most people know or have heard about NYC’s shoe-box-sized apartments. We are very blessed to have something a little bigger than a shoe box, but our apartment is already bursting at the seams. Everyone who has kids is aware of how much space they can take up.

So when Tyson’s parents asked what they could get Qwynn for her 2nd birthday, I had to think very carefully before giving them an answer. Qwynn LOVES playing in the kitchen center at school, but we definitely do not have enough room for a whole play kitchen in our apartment. I figured that even though we didn’t have space for the whole shebang, we could at least make room for a small kitchen set. So that’s what we told them to get her.

Of course, Qwynn’s favorite spot to play with her new kitchen set was on the floor. In our kitchen. While we are cooking dinner. Not ideal.

After tripping over her one too many times, I had to come up with a better option! Qwynn also received an easel for her birthday (don’t ask me how we found room for it, but I’m glad we did!), and the box it came in was the exact same size as our ottoman. Cue light bulb over my head!

Using the cardboard box, poster board left over from Qwynn’s birthday party, and craft paint from my craft box, I created the perfect solution. And the best part is, it slides perfectly behind our couch. Success!

Kid’s Tabletop Play Kitchen

Supplies:

– Large piece of cardboard
– Poster board (optional)
– Craft paint (or magic markers, colored pencils, etc.)

Steps:

1. Cut cardboard the size you would like for whatever table you would like it to fit on. I made this one to fit on our ottoman.

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2. If you are a Type-A person like myself and like things to be extremely neat looking, you can wrap the cardboard in poster board. This gave me a nice white blank canvas to paint on. But you could also paint or draw directly on the cardboard.

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3. Sketch out a counter, sink and stove top and use craft paint to paint your masterpiece. You could also use markers, colored pencils, crayons or even just a sharpie. If you do not have faith in your own drawing skills, you can Google image search “stove top graphics” and “kitchen sink graphics” to find images to copy or cut out and glue onto the cardboard.

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This has been an amazing alternative to having a store bought kitchen center! Plus, when we flip it over, we have a great surface for block play as well!

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Valerie Anne