Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!
From our family to yours, wishing you the merriest Christmas! We have been enjoying our time in Vancouver this past week, despite the cold winter rain & snow. I love being home with family–it’s such a blessing to be surrounded by loved ones and I’m thankful beyond words that I can celebrate this time of year with them.

It’s my first time having to “come home” for the holidays, so it’s been a very new experience for us. For instance, I thought it would be ok if Santa left gifts for Froo & Boo in their stockings back in San Mateo, but I realized that Froo would be very disappointed if Santa didn’t visit her in Vancouver. So we quickly improvised on stockings for Froo & Boo–hopefully, Santa received the last-minute letter that Froo wrote him!

My feet are a little cold tonight.
stocking

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Froo makes her own handmade gifts

Froo makes her own handmade gifts
While I was making fabric covered button hair ties and magnets last week, Froo declared that she wanted to make Christmas presents, too. She was playing with her big bucket of beads and came up with the idea of making bracelets for her friends. So while we were at Michael’s buying a birdhouse, we also picked up a package of beads. I made sure they had large holes for easier threading. I pulled out some jewelry making supplies and we were quickly turning out handmade gifts for her friends.
Bracelet Making Supplies
Supplies:

  1. Beads
  2. Crimp beads *
  3. Crimping tool *
  4. Scissors
  5. Tape – I used washi taped
  6. Stretch jewelry cord

* If you don’t have crimp beads and a crimping tool, you can simply knot the stretch jewelry cord following these instructions.
Bracelet Making Supplies
Instructions:

  1. Cut a length of the stretch cord the circumference of your child’s wrist + 2 inches extra
  2. Stick a piece of tape at the end of the cord
  3. String beads
  4. Insert one crimp bead through one end of the cord, insert the other end of the cord through the crimp bead and pull both ends until all the beads are touching, but not too tight
  5. Use the crimping tool, as per instructions
  6. Cut loose ends of the cord

Froo makes her own handmade gifts
An adult will need to assist with steps 4-6. Simple. But here’s the amazing thing about simple things: there is much to learn from the simple things in life. While Froo was making bracelets, I inadvertently discovered that she was learning real-life math skills. First, there is counting the number of beads. Second, there is the discovery of making a pattern, which helps with problem-solving and making predictions. Third, there is shape recognition. The set of beads we had included butterflies, hearts and stars. Putting it altogether, we discovered that we can make patterns with just colours, or shapes or both. I could draw a Venn diagram and we could separate bracelets afterwards! Which would be forth, classification. If I wanted to get super nerdy, we could count the number of colours and the number of shapes with a set number of beads to figure out how many possible outcomes there would be. Possible fifth, statistics.

Anyhoo, before I get too excited about turning every activity into a “teachable moment”, here’s Froo modelling a couple of the bracelets she made. Her bunny is a gift from Santa for her first Christmas. She loves that bunny.
Froo makes her own handmade gifts
Froo made some bracelets before we left for her preschool friends in San Mateo. I packed up all of the supplies to make some in Vancouver for her friends here. A nice mommy & me activity to do while Boo naps. We wrapped them in small envelopes and used wired tinsel garland to wrap around the envelope. Washi tape was used to seal the envelope. I also wrapped the fabric button hair ties and magnets this way.
Froo makes her own handmade gifts
It snowed last night! This morning Froo & Boo were excited about going out in the snow, but it had melted by the time we went out. There was still snow in Burnaby at my parents’ house when we went by for dinner, so Boo got to walk in snow for the first time in his life. Last year, he was bundled up in a brown teddy bear suit all winter. A photo of Boo & me at the Stanley Park train last December. I made a hooded cover for my ergo carrier that was made of a waterproof nylon cover, lined with fuzzy fleece. I think he was still cold. Brrrr…
Boo & me at the Stanley Park train

Starting a Christmas tradition

A Froo & Boo Christmas Tradition
Now that Froo is 4 years old, she is starting to form very specific ideas on what Christmas should “look” like. I prefer a simple decor, so we just decorate the Christmas tree until it is covered with ornaments–all shades of turquoise, blue and silver. This year, I decided that we would start a family tradition: painted birdhouses. I saw the cutest ones on sale at Michael’s and Froo & Boo had so much fun painting mini birdhouses a couple of months ago–I thought it would be a fun way to decorate the fireplace mantle.

The supplies include: a wooden birdhouse, paint brushes or sponges and paint. We used 2 different types of Martha Stewart Crafts multi-surface paint: pearl paint in Mother of Pearl and glitter paint in Sugar Cube.
A Froo & Boo Christmas Tradition
Here are Froo & Boo painting the birdhouse. Since Froo is a lefty and Boo is a righty, I really should have them trading places–their brushes kept overlapping and their hands were a painted mess! With acrylic paint, it’s important to scrub it out of clothing right away so the paint doesn’t set into the fabric.
A Froo & Boo Christmas Tradition
Froo & Boo painted one coat of the pearl paint yesterday and one coat of the glitter paint this morning. The birdhouse could have used 2 coats of the pearl paint since there are uneven spots with the natural wood showing through. The glitter has a pale pink sheen to it, which I quite like. I especially like the goopiness of the paint globs that make the birdhouse look like it is covered in snow. But it’s still looking too bare–so time to decorate!
A Froo & Boo Christmas Tradition
I bought battery-operated tiny blue LED lights from Target. Since the lights are spaced out too far, I used clear twist ties to bring the lights closer together.
A Froo & Boo Christmas Tradition
Then I pulled some ornaments off the tree and made our very own little winter wonderland.
A Froo & Boo Christmas Tradition
We have a couple of these birds on our tree. I love the look and design aesthetics of birds, but they creep me out in real life. While decorating the mantle, I could hear a crow cawing through the fireplace, echoing up the chimney and it gave me the heebie jeebies. *shudder*
A Froo & Boo Christmas Tradition
Two years ago, the hubs & I went on a date and bought 4 wooden ornaments at the Vancouver Christmas Market. The market is based on the thousands of Christmas markets all over Germany. After graduating from university, I interned as a web designer in Switzerland and loved the atmosphere of the outdoor Christmas markets with traditional handmade goods, hot mulled wine, raclette (toasted cheese) and sausages. Last weekend, we went to the San Jose Christmas in the Park, thinking it would be similar. Um… not quite. It was a full-on carnival with funnel cakes and a ferris wheel. Interesting.
A Froo & Boo Christmas Tradition A Froo & Boo Christmas Tradition
Hopefully, this is a tradition that will continue on throughout the years. Just so we don’t forget, I wrote the date on the bottom of the birdhouse.
A Froo & Boo Christmas Tradition
Ooooh, in the evening, the lights catch flecks of the glitter, casting a sparkly glow. Christmas is a very special time of year, when hope is renewed and life is full–despite the darkest of nights. Little projects like this really fill me with love for my kids and wonder at the simple things that make them so happy.
A Froo & Boo Christmas Tradition

Quick handmade gift under $5!

Fabric Covered Buttons
I love making things, but here is my take on handmade gifts: they are often not worth the effort. Sounds harsh, but most often, it’s because they are really time-consuming and the materials/tools are usually expensive, making handmade gifts a true labour of love time & money. If only I had endless amounts of both, but alas, I have 2 kids and a small window in the evenings to create before I pass out for the night.

I found this tutorial to make fabric covered buttons and thought it was a brilliant way to make handmade gifts for Froo & Boo’s little friends in Vancouver: hair ties for the girls, magnets for the boys. The supplies needed include: a fabric button covering kit, magnets, hair elastics, hot glue gun, and fabric scraps. I really like the Dritz button kit because there are 2 different options for the backs: flat ones and backs with shanks (loops).
Fabric Covered Buttons
I made my first set with the larger 1 1/8″ size buttons. Last year, I made some girlie versions of the drooly bib for my friends with baby girls with the panda print and had some leftover scraps. It’s a Japanese print by Lecien and there are some glitter accents on the print. I bought the pink with white hearts ages ago and can’t find it anywhere. I use it sparingly.
Fabric Covered Buttons
Recognize this next print? I am so happy when I can use even the smallest fabric scraps to create something pretty and useful. I think I might keep this pair.
Fabric Covered Buttons
I made this next batch with the smaller 7/8″ size buttons. Since they are smaller, they look great with tiny prints. When my last order arrived from fabric.com, I received 1 yard of the pink floral print (Tea Cakes Tea Rose Vanilla). I have no recollection of putting it in my shopping cart. Yikes.
Fabric Covered Buttons
This is a batch of fabric covered 7/8″ buttons with flat backs that I need to glue magnets to. The Dritz button kit includes a see-through template for cutting fabric so you know exactly where your print will be placed on the button. The fabric is a Japanese print by Puti de Pome that I bought on sale at superbuzzy.com awhile back. It’s a linen/cotton blend, so it’s a bit heavier and adds a really nice look and feel to the buttons. I love the bunnies!
Fabric Covered Buttons
The next print is called “Anchors Away”, by Dear Stella. Two summers ago, I was intent on making a navy dress with anchors all over it and contrasting white fabric covered buttons with navy anchors. I couldn’t decide on a size (still post-pregnancy weight to lose), so I never cut into the fabric. This past summer, J. Crew had a major nautical theme featuring anchors and I was hoping to have a nautical summer dress of my own. Nope. Now I’m wondering if I should even bother?
Fabric Covered Buttons
To wrap, I simply tied a piece of ribbon to a pair of hair ties. I will probably add a gift tag to it. I’m not sure how I am going to wrap the button magnets yet.
Fabric Covered Buttons
Here is Froo wearing a couple of the fabric covered button hair ties. To wear, I find that it’s much easier to hold onto the button and wrap the elastic around the ponytail, then hook the elastic around the button. It causes less tears.
Fabric Covered Buttons
It doesn’t get much easier than this! I’m working on another handmade gift, but I don’t think I will reveal that one until after Christmas–I don’t want to spoil the surprise. (I doubt Froo & Boo’s little friends are reading this post…) But it is quick and easy as well and can be given as a hostess gift anytime throughout the year.

Flashback Skinny Tees

Flashback Skinny Tee
I can see why the Flashback Skinny Tee is such a popular sewing pattern for kids–it’s an easy pattern to follow, it’s a quick project (2 shirts in 3 days! I am slow because of my Pinterest addiction…) and it uses very little fabric. (I blogged about the fabric here.) The finished tees are super comfortable and look freaking cute on Froo & Boo.

After decorating the Christmas tree, I found one box of lights that I didn’t use. So I thought it would help Froo & Boo to focus on the camera if they had something to play with.
Flashback Skinny Tee
Then inevitably, something goes awry.
Flashback Skinny Tee
So we moved over to the blank wall and tried again.
Flashback Skinny Tees
Flashback Skinny Tees
I especially LOVE how Boo’s tee turned out. I made it in size 2 and given that it’s a stretch knit, it fits him perfectly. After a trip through the washing machine, the fabric came out really soft. It was easy to sew through and it matches the navy blue ribbing. I tried to match the stripes at the sleeves, but as it turns out, you have to match the stripes at the armpits, not the shoulders. Oops. I sewed on a little whale applique that I had leftover from the Christmas present I made for Boo last year.
Flashback Skinny Tee
I used a tutorial from the purl bee to make Boo and my nephew a hooded towel. I am obsessed with the free iPhone app, LINE camera–it adds effects and graphics to photos that are really fun. There are so many options for customization!
Hooded Towel
Hooded Towel
The fabric for Froo’s tee is a poly-cotton blend and difficult to sew. My sewing machine kept eating the fabric at the beginning stitches, so I had to start about a 1/4 inch down the edge of my fabric. I added a cuff to the bottom of the shirt because I wanted it to look more like a sweatshirt than a pajama top. I took a gamble on the size and went up to size 5, but I should have made it in size 4, since the cuff adds another 2 inches to the hem. It’s a little long and not quite “skinny” enough, but Froo says she loves it nonetheless.
Flashback Skinny Tee detail
Here they are on their own:
Flashback Skinny TeeFlashback Skinny Tee
I am already planning a couple more Flashback Skinny Tees! They are so awesome. I usually find it hard to reuse a pattern, but I can see this one being used for a very long time. Even the hubs asked if I could make him one in his size!