My daughter just started preschool at the end of last school cycle and she loves it. She loves having a backpack and a packed lunch. I have very fond memories of the little notes my mom would leave for me in my lunch box. Since my daughter’s only 4 and can’t read, for awhile I was having a ton of fun decorating her lunch bags with Sharpie doodles…
But being a bit of a pseudo-hippie, it bothered me a little, throwing so many bags away every day. I mean, I’m not super hardcore, but when I notice ways I’m being wasteful, I try my best to find ways that might be a little better and aren’t TERRIBLY inconvenient. We used cloth diapers when she was little, we use cloth grocery bags (when we don’t forget to take them into the store), so why not whip up a few quick reuseable bags?
When I looked around online, there were a great many DIY options, several of which seemed quite complicated for an amateur like myself, with zippers and pulltabs and fancy fabric and such….except for one: this tutorial from Rhinestone Beagle. Our local fabric department didn’t have any of the fancy nylons I had seen in some DIYs, but they did have very inexpensive fusible vinyl, which is SUPER easy to use. You iron it on, and boom–whatever you’re making is water resistant. So that was good. Secondly, I’m not good with zippers, but I can sloppily fake some velcro like no one’s business, so score another point for this tutorial. Thirdly, I worried that certain opening fasteners would be difficult for my kid to open at lunchtime, so if I wasn’t fancy enough to put in my own zippers, I wanted one that folded over a bit. And lastly: I felt a little like I was taking the easy way out, not being able to doodle something new with every lunch. (I felt I had to live up to things like this)…I compromised by going with a plain fabric, so I could doodle some monster faces on the bags (with Sharpies, of course. …They should sponsor me).
And there you go! Personalized lunch bags!
Now, in hindsight, they’re a BIT small.
…Okay, they’re tiny. The sizes I had seen online just seemed so HUGE, so I sort of winged it and made them smaller. But I can fit a cookie or two in there, or a couple of small strawberries. But just for giggles, I decided to try a few of the fancy ones. I found a shop on Etsy called Cute Little Bugs, who seemed to have the best quality & the best deal. Zippers, nylon liner, cute fabric, and even a little tag for you to write your kid’s name on it. Super cute. And they’re not tiny at all.
So, as my daughter gets ready for her second year of Pre-K, I think I’m going to have to look into trying again to make some more baggies of my own–this time human-sized. That can fit actual food inside. The point is, I want to make lunch a little special for my kid. And there’s always room for some creativity!
For awhile, my neighbor friend had a very aggressive Craigslist furniture habit. So when I asked her advice on finding a big wooden dresser for my daughter’s room, I was thrilled when she brought me to her garage to pick one out. Twenty bucks later, I was the happy owner of a huge (but quite plain) dresser.
My neighbor was crafty enough to sand her furniture finds down, prime them and repaint, but with a little kid at home and a deployed husband at the time, I didn’t have time or patience for all that.
Instead, I took the hardware off (super easy to do–just unscrew from the inside drawers). I got some scrapbook paper from the craft store, and for mine, I wanted to pick some thin, more intricate paper. Gold isn’t really my color, but it’s what they had the most of at the store. And with a big ol’ jar of Mod Podge and an XActo knife, I pasted down the paper to each panel.
If you’ve never used Mod Podge, it’s super easy. It looks like glue. You glop it down with a paintbrush on your object (the dresser), place your paper down, and saturate the paper with Mod Podge on top. It gets bubbly sometimes, but if you smooth as you go, they usually fix themselves. The glue consistency dries clear (or shiny, if you get the gloss version), and your paper is sealed down. Fun & easy!
All in all, the goldish colors I chose ended up looking very vintage and awesome.
Since I was solo with my kid at the time, I only did a single drawer or two a night, so it took a few days, but what an easy way to dress up a dresser! I love Mod Podge. I thought maybe some old comic book pages would look awesome later down the road on her nightstand…
Our kid likes to draw a lot. I mean a LOT.
I take photos of all of them, because I’m so fascinated by them. I love watching her skills develop, and love seeing how her mind thinks, how she can see something and observe how it’s done, and sort of meld that with her own work.
Through all my scouring the internet, I’ve seen lots and lots of ideas of what to DO with all these doodles, and I’ve done quite a few of them. We have bulletin boards where we’ve pinned some of our favorites. We have some in changeable frames. I’ve had strings with doodles clipped to them with clothespins. My mother uses the photos of doodles in the backgrounds when she makes a digital photo album. I’ve heard of people making books full of kid doodles.
I wanted a way to show them as a decorative piece in the house; a way we could enjoy them in an awesome way while putting all those doodles to good use.
So I got some laminate paper, stuck them on there to keep ’em safe, punched some holes in them, and strung them from eachother. We hung them in her bedroom window, and I think they turned out lovely!
Our daughter went through a Shrinky-Dink period for a few weeks, where she created TONS of Shrinky Dink doodles. What to do? Why, same thing, of course! Strung up little doodles look like lovely little wind chimes hanging in our kitchen windows! With Shrinkies, you have to either punch the holes before you shrink them in the oven, or spend some quality time with your Dremel and a tiny drill bit….
So what do you do with all your kid doodles?
I’m an army brat. I grew up around the army. Later, I did about 4 years in the army, where I met my husband. I am army wife. Now I’m an army mom. I’ve been all over the place with my family, and wanted a way to show all the places we’ve been. For years, I’ve seen the plaques with pendant boards hanging down, listing each duty station (like this), but I wanted to see if I could do something a little different.
My husband & I met when we were both stationed in Hawaii. We got married there, and when I got out, I worked as a photo editor/graphic artist for King Digital in Honolulu. The photo paper they used came on these large thick cardboard “toilet paper roll” tubes, which they sent out for recycling. Before we PCSd, I was able to get a few of them to take with me. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with them at the time, but they were calling my name. They looked REALLY fun to paint on.
I decided to make each tube a sort of painted collage of the things we had done at each duty station, the things we remembered most about it. My husband and I have fun trying to choose what will go on each tube. I started with one for Oklahoma (where I was born) and one for Ohio (where he’s from).
We’ve got a good collection going! Only now….I can’t seem to find the “toilet paper roll” tubes anymore! I’ve run out! I have a couple of smaller ones, but none like these. I was even the crazy lady, asking for them at Wal-Mart’s photo lab. I can’t seem to find any anywhere!
So I’m going to keep looking. I’m running behind, though, since I try to do one after we leave each duty station. We left Alaska several months ago…so we’re due for a new tube! In the meantime, share your stories! If you’re a family that moves around a lot, is there a special way you commemorate your duty stations, or the places you’ve lived? Do you frame a photo? Make a list of license plates? I’d love to hear your ideas!
My mother once found hand painted wooden jingle figures in the Czech Republic that were absolutely BEAUTIFUL. Years later, when I tried to find my own blank ones, all I could find were blanks of the Russian stacking dolls (which are also fun to paint, by the way). But these don’t open, and when you shake them, they JINGLE!!
After days of calling several Russian art dealers (never mind the difficulty of explaining what they WERE), I finally found someone I could buy a few from. I thought they’d be fun to do portrait orders on at local craft shows. Well, the time put into them was more than a craft show crowd was willing to pay, and the idea just fizzled.
So now I do my own things with them! This is King Arthur, King of all Britons, and his faithful sidekick, Patsy.
I’ve done Santas, animals, wookies and celebrities, but these guys are my favorite. If you’re not up to the task of going through the trouble of calling all over the world to find jingle dolls, there are nice alternatives at your local craft store–little paper mâché eggs, pressed cardboard shapes and wooden boxes. You could draw on them, paint, even mod podge little printed photos of family and paint on top if you’re feeling crafty. They make great gifts!