Continuing A Christmas Tradition

Christmas Tradition: Painted Birdhouse
Last year, I thought it would be nice to start a family Christmas tradition, since it was our first year living away from home. Froo & Boo painted a lovely birdhouse together, that we had on display on our fireplace mantle. I was looking forward to creating a cute neighbourhood of birdhouses.

As we were unpacking our Christmas decorations this year, I misplaced the birdhouse. I panicked. Because let’s face it, a tradition isn’t a tradition unless it’s repeated the following year. If lost, I would feel responsible for the loss of something that could have been, 20 years later, telling stories about each and every birdhouse… Who knew I could be so sentimental? Luckily, I found it a week later, hidden behind some cleaning supplies in the garage.

I should have been ecstatic, but I was a little disappointed–the birdhouse had discoloured to an icky taupe. I’m pretty sure the glitter paint was the culprit. Undeterred, Froo & Boo repainted the birdhouse with white acrylic paint. Afterwards, we sprinkled white fine glitter on top, which stuck to the wet paint. Much better.
Christmas Tradition: Painted Birdhouse
Since I wasn’t sure if we’d continue this tradition, I didn’t purchase a birdhouse this year. Instead, we repainted the tiny birdhouses that Froo & Boo painted last year. They had been sitting on top of the fridge this whole time. I thought it would be simple, yet festive to paint monochromatic birdhouses, with the same colour of fine glitter. The birdhouses have a layer of mod podge, to seal in the glitter.
Christmas Tradition: Painted Birdhouse
I remembered to date the birdhouses again this year:
Christmas Tradition: Painted Birdhouse
Time to decorate!
Christmas Tradition: Painted Birdhouse
Christmas Tradition: Painted Birdhouse
Froo & I went to watch a performance of the Nutcracker together yesterday. She insisted on getting a nutcracker of her own. I tried to convince her to get the red one, but she chose this one and named him Lucas. He matches our Christmas decor.
Christmas Tradition: Painted Birdhouse
I taped a piece of thread to the ceiling, for the Santa helicopter ornament to fly over the big birdhouse. Boo broke one of the propellers, but a bit of E6000 glue worked wonders.
Christmas Tradition: Painted Birdhouse
Truthfully, if the kids remember this year’s birdhouses, they might remember that mommy lost her patience when there was white paint all over the kitchen table, Boo’s face and art smock. Oh the mess!
Christmas Tradition: Painted Birdhouse
What I want the kids to remember about the day we painted the birdhouses this year? The evening we spent at the local ice rink where Froo & Boo take lessons, huddled together, watching young figure skaters grace the ice, some not-so-gracefully. There is nothing quite as heartwarming as the anticipation and hope for each skater to nail their jump and the positive encouragement whether or not they do. It was the coldest we have ever been in California. Froo went to sleep that night wearing 2 pairs of socks. Boo ate Nerds from the candy claw machine. They still make those??

I guess that’s why I want to create a family tradition–to have a visual reminder of how we spent our Christmas each year. Together as a family. Making time for each other. Besides, I have a terrible memory and I’d hate to forget these fleeting moments with Froo & Boo.
A Froo & Boo Christmas Tradition
While writing this post, I came up with the most brilliant idea. Together with the hubs, I think we’ll write love notes and memories from our Christmas, roll them up tightly into tiny scrolls and pop them into the opening of the birdhouse. That way, we can shake them out in the future and be reminded of the love we share. xoxo.
Christmas Tradition: Painted Birdhouse

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Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father's Day!
The hubs is a difficult person to give gifts to. There are many reasons, of which I am sure are common among most men, but the main reason is that he doesn’t want me to “waste” money on him, insisting he doesn’t need anything and has everything he wants. What he doesn’t realize is that it puts more pressure on me to give him a meaningful gift and robs me the joy of giving gifts (because it really does make me happy). He is slowly learning to graciously accept gifts, especially when the kids are involved.

This morning, the hubs took Froo & Boo to our local doughnut shop for breakfast doughnuts. He usually takes them on the weekend, to give me a bit more time to sleep-in. The last time the hubs went, he told me that the doughnut man said, “see you next week!” I panicked, worried that we were eating too many delightful fried puffs of dough. So I put a stop to the weekly weekend doughnuts. The hubs was sad because he felt like he broke a promise with the doughnut man–who is so nice and gives Froo & Boo free doughnut holes for the car ride home. For Father’s Day, I decided the hubs should mend his relationship with the doughnut man.
Doughnuts for Father's Day
Doughnuts for Father's Day Doughnuts for Father's Day
While my family was out, I made coffee and cleared the surface of the fridge to make room for the hubs’ gift.
Coffee & Doughnuts for Father's Day
Ta da! Shrinky Dinks photo magnets. The hubs likes to collect magnets on our travels, so I thought a couple of personalized magnets would be extra special. The idea was based on this pin, but I came up with my own variation, since the hubs never wears neckties.
Father's Day Shrinky Dinks Magnets Father's Day Shrinky Dinks Magnets
Froo also made her daddy a princess-themed card:
Father's Day Shrinky Dinks Magnets
This was my 2nd attempt at Shrinky Dinks (you can read about my first attempt here)–they turned out much better this time. I left them in the oven for a full 6 minutes before pulling them out and flattening them down with a spatula. They pop out a bit more on Froo’s pink magnet board:
Father's Day Shrinky Dinks Magnets
Since the Shrinky Dinks sheet is printed using an inkjet printer, I tried to fill up my entire sheet before printing and made a couple of square photo magnets of the hubs birthday several weeks ago and small keychains. The circles started off at around 1.5″ in diameter, but ended up a mere 1/2″ circle. Very tiny–just like Froo & Boo when they were newborns:
Father's Day Shrinky Dinks Keychains
Father's Day Shrinky Dinks Keychains
I used Photoshop to edit my photos and add text–making it much easier than writing out my message on paper. I erased the background around each of our heads, but it wasn’t necessary to get it really fine since they were cut out afterwards. A screenshot of my layout on a letter size document at 300 pixels/inch:
Shinky Dinks Photoshop Layout
It’s important to lighten the photos drastically. You can see how the washed out photos in the before photo results in normal looking colours in the after photo:
Shrinky Dinks - Before Shrinky Dinks - After
A HUGE Happy Father’s Day to my dad (Haboji) and my dad-in-law (Yeye)! We love you so much! Froo & Boo are incredibly lucky to have you both in their lives.

Froo & Boo are excited to have their daddy at home, after he spent an entire week in Las Vegas for a nerd conference. I am relieved and thankful that he is home–these 2 boogers require oodles of energy! I hope you have a very Happy Father’s Day!
Froo & Boo Father's Day

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

Sweet Photo Advent Calendar Tutorial (0 Calories!)

Disneyland
It has been a busy weekend! The Froo & Boo family spent American Thanksgiving at Disneyland in Anaheim. It was my first time at the original Disneyland. I’ve been to Disneyland in Paris and Tokyo–years ago, long before I developed my coffee addiction. It was my first time at Disneyland with kids. Froo & Boo were awesome! They enjoyed the characters, sights and rides–all without a single meltdown. The hubs & I are utterly exhausted. I am running a major sleep deficit–must budget more time to sleep. But there are handmade Christmas gifts to be made. What to do?

This is the one photo of Boo with the Perry the Platypus stuffy that we bought him before he dropped it on the ground 10 minutes later, nowhere to be found. We checked the Lost & Found office to see if anyone had turned it in. I filled out a form, without a hope of seeing Perry again.
Perry the Platypus as Agent P
This afternoon, I received this in the mail:
Perry the Platypus
Yay Disney!

Now for my photo advent calendar. I do paper crafts, too. I used to make really detailed cards and scrapbooks. Now I prefer the quick and easy crafts that I can do with Froo. So I decided to make an advent calendar that Froo could help me make. I realize that this tutorial is a little late, but seriously, where did the month go??

Here are the supplies you’ll need:

  • A 12″x12″ photo (crop a photo into a square, or use an Instagram photo and send it online to Costco.com, pick it up 2 hours later for only $2.99!)
  • A 12″x12″ cardstock scrapbook size piece of paper
  • A ruler & level
  • Acid-free photo safe glue stick
  • Scissors or paper cutter
  • Wall mounting putty
  • Stamping ink pads (I used red & white)
  • Pencils with erasers on the end
  • Number stamps (I got mine at Target from the Curiosity Shoppe line)

Photo Advent Calendar Supplies
Step 1
Draw gridlines using a light pencil on the scrapbook paper. Since there are 25 days to Christmas, you’ll need 5 columns x 5 rows of equal width and height. That works out to 2.4 inches, or roughly 6 cm. After drawing your gridline, stamp your numbers from right-to-left using the red ink. Follow the diagram below:
Photo Advent Calendar
I stamped it the wrong way and got terrible results. I’m fine with it since we are leaving for Vancouver on the 15th and will not get to complete our advent calendar anyways. So I am leaving it up with the complete photo showing.

Step 2
Using the eraser on the end of the pencil, stamp the ink pad gently and fill your page with confetti dots. Froo is a lefty.
Photo Advent Calendar
Step 3
Glue your photo to the back of the scrapbook page. Using your scissors or paper cutter, cut along the gridlines. Then using the wall mounting putty, place each number square on the wall. (I bought the Staples brand, which I find to be super sticky. I usually use the blue one, which I much prefer, but I couldn’t find it.) Use the level to make sure your pieces are not crooked. Optional: create a mini bunting by cutting tiny triangles out of washi tape. It is safe on walls and easy to remove.
Photo Advent Calendar
Step 4
Here is the fun part–turn over one square every day until you reach the 25th of December. Your picture should slowly start to reveal itself. This would be a really fun surprise for Froo & Boo if they hadn’t seen the original photo to begin with. And that’s it! A quick and easy advent calendar without all the sugary sweets.
Photo Advent Calendar
The countdown is on. I cannot believe we are quickly approaching Christmas! I am used to having Canadian Thanksgiving at the beginning of October, with oodles of time until Christmas. I am feeling very rushed, especially since we are going home for the holidays!

Airplane Activities

I’ve been doing a lot of Internet research on how to keep toddlers entertained on an airplane. I just need to be prepared–if I had 0.01% of the energy that Boo has, I could do it all. Unfortunately, I operate on a pretty low-energy basis and require a lot of coffee to get through the day. One of the things that I’ve learned from my research is to buy triangular crayons so they won’t roll off the tray. Brilliant!

This afternoon, I sewed up this envelope pouch for Froo. The ribbon is really long and wraps around twice before looping around the button.

On the other side, I added an appliqué using Appleville fabric designed by Suzy Ultman. It’s a fun print–this one is a panel print with rectangles of various sizes and designs. If you look closely, I stitched together 2 rectangles to complete the picture.

Inside of the envelope pouch holds everything Froo needs to make greeting cards. The paper pad is from Target. Each piece can be folded in half, then decorated with crayons, stickers, self-inking rubber stamps and washi tape. I added a glue stick in case we need to make envelopes as well. Froo loves to send letters and cards, so this way, she can make cards for everyone we will see when we arrive in Vancouver. The Hello Kitty paint book is from Jo-Ann. A bit of water will turn the colours on the bottom of each sheet into paint. I packed a water-filled paint brush pen in the envelope pouch.

Boo no longer eats crayons. Woo hoo! But now he is into colouring everything, including walls. Boo hoo. I hope he enjoys the activities, too. Otherwise, I packed a whole bunch of snacks for him. Another tip for toddlers who think running away from you is a game: rubber boots. I just bought Boo a pair of rubber boots and the first time he wore them, he couldn’t move because he didn’t know how to walk it them. He hasn’t worn them since, but I plan to put them on him when we go to the airport so he’ll stay put. We’ll see!

Halloween Costumes for Froo & Boo


This is what I see out of my kitchen window. Not from this perspective, of course. The way we see Skeletor is often in a frenzied flying state (it can get pretty windy here in the SF bay area). At night, it’s even spookier.

Our neighbours really like to decorate the little garden in the roundabout. Some fixtures are permanent, while most others rotate throughout the season. Yesterday afternoon, I took Froo & Boo out to take photos, since I had the help of my hubs to get their attention. Good thing, it’s raining pretty hard today–reminds me of Vancouver.

Boo’s costume is the one I made for him last year. It barely fits, but I think it makes him look more authentic as a garden gnome. His sweater is from this pattern, without the turtleneck. His hat is fleece and made up of 4 triangles. His beard is the soft and fuzzy backside of sweatshirt material and attaches to the hat with velcro pieces. I made him matching black booties, but they didn’t even fit him last year.

Froo’s been asking me to make her a mermaid costume for the longest time. I found this Martha Stewart tutorial that I thought would be quick and easy. Jo-Ann had the stretchy scale fabric that is perfect for this costume. Froo’s top is a tube top that is elasticized at the top with a velcro closure at the back. Froo decided she wanted flowers on her costume, so I cut flowers out of felt and she decorated them with glitter glue.

Here they are together:

Lately, she is into posing like her hip is the focal point and her neck is unhinged.

A detailed look at Froo’s skirt. Froo found the little broken shell in the sand box at the playground awhile ago and kept it in her jewelry box. While decorating the waistband, she ran to her room to find it and said it would be perfect for her costume. She is becoming more and more like her mommy.

The skirt tail is very full and sparkly. I used a hot glue gun to attach it to the skirt.

While I was making Froo’s purple top, my sewing machine broke (Pfaff expression 2.0–discontinued soon after I bought it). It breaks once every couple of months or so, causing all sorts of stress and trauma. But this time, I think I’ve pinpointed the problem. The top thread gets caught and has trouble passing over the bobbin, which makes the machine make a horrible sound, then causes major looping on the backside of the fabric. The loops are from the top thread, not the bobbin thread. The fix: clean the fuzzies from the machine, turn it off and turn it back on in several hours, start sewing slowly and it works again. I need to get my machine serviced. I’m not sure about warranties because I bought my machine in Canada and I am definitely not travelling with it!

I am going to be in Vancouver with Froo & Boo for the next week. The costumes are coming with us to celebrate my nephew’s 2nd birthday, which happens to fall on Halloween. We’ll also be meeting his newborn sister, which I am very excited about!

I took this picture of Boo in September, when I was considering if he could still be a gnome. My friend had a shirt once that read “gnomies are my homies”. Love it.

Playing with Shrinky Dinks


The gold clover on Froo’s Kate Middleton Military Coat fell off the bar pin after just 3 wears. I remember reading this post on How About Orange, so I decided to make a clover out of Shrinky Dinks. I went to Michael’s and found Shrinky Dinks that can be printed using an ink jet printer–on both sides! I couldn’t stop the ideas from spinning out of my mind.

Froo & Boo is a one-woman show, with one supportive and handsome investor (a shout-out to my hubs). I designed the logo, created the content and now I have PIPPA. Packaging is a huge aspect of branding, so I’ve been thinking of ways to create unique packaging that would enhance the Froo & Boo brand.

I wanted to see what tags made out of Shrinky Dinks would look and feel like. I’ve never used Shrinky Dinks before, so this was really new to me. I printed on both sides of the Shrinky Dinks page and used a couple of punches to make my tags. The packaging says that it reduces to 1/3 of the original size, but in the photo below, you can see that the Shrinky Dinks reduced to less than 1/4 of the actual size.

I had my face glued to the oven door watching the Shrinky Dinks. Then I started to get worried because my Shrinky Dinks looked like this:

I pulled them out of the oven and tried to straighten them out, but they were pretty stiff. So I did what I did whenever I had needed to learn something new. I went on YouTube. It turns out that they curl first, before they flatten out. I put them back in the oven in the hopes that they would continue to automagically shrink.

Another 4 minutes, then using paper to press and flatten the tags further–this is what I got:

The tags are double-sided.

I’m not sure if you can see it in the photos, but the tags shrunk with an angled slant. They turned into little parallelograms, like the Pink Pearl erasers I used in elementary school. I’m not sure if it’s because I took the Shrinky Dinks out of the oven early, then continued to bake them after they had cooled down, but all of the tags were slanted, so I don’t think it’s a coincidence. Also, some of the red print from the Trader Joe’s paper bag rubbed onto the backsides of the tags. What I like about them: they are super thick with a nice matte finish.

Although I had a lot of fun doing some R&D, I don’t think I will be using these cute little tags. I am thinking of using Shrinky Dinks in my next art project with Froo & Boo. Oh the possibilities!

A Birthday Quiet Book

Dress: Janie & Jack  /  Hairpin: H&M  /  Handmade Apron: “Girl’s World” by Paganelli  /  Fabric: Tula Pink

For Froo’s birthday, I decided that I would make her a quiet book. With an upcoming plane ride, I am only prepared to deal with disasters coming from Boo. Last week at Whole Foods, as I was reaching to grab something, Boo stood up from the front of the shopping cart and fell into the back of the shopping cart, right ontop of Froo. The seat belt was tightly fastened–I have no idea how he wormed out of it so quickly. I had both boogers crying their eyeballs out. I wanted to cry, too.

Anyhoo, I had a lot of fun making the quiet book! There are so many ideas from Pinterest, but I really wanted to make this one specific to Froo’s interests.

I started off with a plain black 2″ ring-binder, a non-standard 9″x6″ size that I found at Office Depot. It fits half of a felt sheet perfectly. (At 5 for $1, plus an additional 20% off at Michael’s–I bought 55 sheets! That would have been almost $30 in Canada at $0.49 each. Yikes!) I made a fabric cover based on this tutorial, but added an inside pocket and handles. The pocket is elasticized and expands at the bottom to fit felt letters. I made the felt letters by using Heat’n Bond Ultra Hold to fuse 2 pieces of felt together, then ran the felt through my die-cutting machine. I did this to make the felt letters thicker and also to indicate which side was up. I made extra vowels and commonly used consonants.

The front of the binder cover has a flannel patchwork piece to make the felt letters stick. I sew in a bit of corded elastic to wrap around the flower button on the front as a closure. The grey floral fabric is backed with a medium-weight fusible interfacing.

1st Page. This is a fun one. I created a curtain that opens up to reveal a stage. A girl and costumes are hidden in the pockets of the curtains that are held back with snaps. Backdrops are tucked away in the floorboards.

There are 4 different hair options, 3 dresses, a mermaid outfit and 2 scenes: the ocean and a castle. There are so many add-ons that I can think of to add to this page in the future. I started off using fabric glue, but it took a long time to dry and it didn’t adhere very well, so I ended up using a glue gun.

Pages 2 & 3. I like to call these pages “Girlie Monsters in the Closet.”

There are 5 monsters and 15 (+1 spare) googly eyeballs with eyelashes and pink eyeshadow. They are backed with the poky side of velcro.

Here is the page in action. Monsters are counted individually and eyeballs are placed on the monsters, the number of eyeballs corresponding to the number on the page. Counting happening in 2 different ways.

Page 4. This one is inspired by The Quiet Book Blog. I made my buttons a different colour to make it a matching exercise as well. The flowers are all tucked away in the flower vase. The vase was sewn with a decorative heart stitch using my sewing machine. I usually only use about 2-3 different stitches, so it was nice trying a different one.

Page 5. You’ve Got Mail! Froo loves sending and receiving mail. Sometimes she draws a picture for my hubs and me, folds it into an envelope, drops it into the mailbox and tells us we have mail. There is a lovely tutorial here.

Here are a couple of photos with detailed shots. I think I got the Chinese character horribly wrong and it might be upside down(?). My husband is Chinese-Canadian and I asked him to write the character for our last name. I love the Chinese tradition of gifting lucky red pockets of money–it somehow makes it special to receive money as a gift, no matter what the amount. I am Korean-Canadian and my parents gave us money as gifts too, but always in plain white envelopes. Lucky Froo got a red pocket with Hello Kitty on it for her birthday this year–thank you Mama & Yeye!

Page 6. This next page is for teaching Froo the colours of the rainbow in their proper order.

Page 7. Based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale, “The Princess and the Pea”. I read his (non-Disney adapted) collection a couple of years ago and felt that they were more like campfire ghost stories, rather than nursery stories. I explained the story to Froo and she didn’t get it. But she liked the stuffed pillow.

Page 8. This is the final page in Froo’s quiet book. It is a weaving page. All of the pages are sewn together and finished off with 3 small button holes to fit the 3-ring binder. It is completely stuffed!

Fewf! This is a long post. Lots of photos. Lots of fun. At first, Froo wasn’t sure about her new quiet book, it was the first thing she opened when she woke up on her birthday, but the next day, she said to me, “mommy, thank you for making me a book.” Then I had to help her get the mermaid’s bikini top on and I’m not sure how “quiet” this book is turning out to be.

My budding artists

Froo loves to do arts & crafts. Boo still eats crayons. My mom told me that I should get Boo to do more sit-down activities to focus his attention and to develop his fine motor skills. (What she really said: “Train him to use crayons so he won’t have ADHD in school.”)

We found these cute birdhouses in the $1 bin at Jo-Ann the last time we went. I think they look lovely in their natural state. Froo insisted that we paint them and put them in the backyard beside the birdbaths (bowls filled with water and leaves) that she put outside. So I told her we could paint them as soon as I made some art smocks. She’s been waiting patiently and now they are done.

The art smock pattern comes out of the “oliver + s little things to sew” book by Liesl Gibson. It is my favourite sewing book.

I’ve only made the explorer vests so far and they are worn almost everyday by Froo & Boo. I used fabric from the Sarah Jane “Children at Play” collection and lined the vests with fleece to make them nice and cozy. This next picture was taken in March 2012, in our old Burnaby home. I miss our floors.

The mornings in the Bay Area are quite chilly, so Froo & Boo wear the vests until they get dressed for the day.

The finished art smocks. It is surprisingly detailed for what seems a simple project. The seams are all encased French seams and everything is professionally finished. For both art smocks, I pulled out fabric from my clear tote bins and I had all the notions on hand. I think this means I have too much fabric.

The raglan sleeves were made with a Japanese Lecien print that was on sale at superbuzzy. I only bought half a yard of each colour, thinking I would use them in a future project. The next time I buy cute fabric to save for later, I think a minimum of 1 yard is required. I didn’t have quite enough for Froo’s pockets, so they were made from leftover fabric from her fly a kite quilt.

I still had second thoughts about using this fabric because I didn’t have quite enough for Froo’s sleeves, so the direction of the print on her smock is vertical, rather than horizontal, as on Boo’s. I don’t think Froo noticed, yet. That girl notices everything.

Boo’s art smock was made from a herringbone fabric that I used to make a Wiksten Tova dress. It is 100% cotton and much heavier than quilting fabric. It has a bit of sheen to it, adding texture and depth.

Froo’s fabric is from Moda Cross Weave. I bought a remnant at Peapod Fabrics in San Francisco after a day of exploring the California Academy of Sciences. Since it is woven with two colours, the fabric has almost an iridescent quality and it’s super soft.

I used leftover double-folded bias tape from the explorer vests for the neckline of the art smocks.

I made Boo’s in size small and Froo’s in size medium. They fit perfectly. Boo seemed to be really focused.

Froo was really happy to finally paint her birdhouse.

I think the focused concentration lasted for almost 5 minutes. Woo hoo! It can be done.