Farm mats and Superheroes and Felt boards oh my!

I’ve been busy in my craft room. After a tough couple days of resting from oral surgery last week, I jumped right back in to the craft room, eager to start  making again.

I finished a whole bunch of machine-made travel felt mats for some fabulous mama friends.
felt mats

travel felt mats

And I sent off these lovely Little Women to a book loving friend.
little women

on the book

And I finished and fell in love with this darling custom order for a “Farm” play mat and farmer peg doll.
noras farm mat
pigsIt was so much fun dressing the mat up with Ellie’s wooden toys while she napped.  I think if she would have seen the set up, the play mats would never reach their intended owners.
vegetable patch

Everything was completely handsewn on this mat. I had to figure out how to make the vegetable garden piece by piece. I think it turned out pretty cute.
farmer

I loved how the farm mat turned out so much, I ended up making Ellie one for her birthday.
ellies farm mat
so cute

I’m still working on making a bee hive (in the back there). I bought those bees awhile back after falling in love with them on Etsy and now I have a mat to add them to.

And last but not least, the latest mat I finished for a friend…
superhero matA superhero mat!
When a friend asked if I could make her son a few super hero peg dolls, she also thought it would be fun to have some type of play mat to go with them. I wanted to make something simple and very open-ended. Something fun and bright, like the dolls themselves and something you could add other toys too to create a full playscape. This was surprisingly (since I’m more the “farm play mat” type), a lot of fun to come up with and I’m hoping will be perfect for an active little boy to play with. Heck, Ellie saw a little bit of the mat and was pawing at it herself. I may be making a little superhero mat for her as well. 😉

spider web

the whole set

It’s been so much fun making these custom mats and peg doll sets as well as putting together the felt boards (even though my machine stitching skills are in need of a lot of work versus my hand stitching skills). I love having this kind of creative outlet. Plus, it makes me happy to create things for children, especially my own.

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Tree Block Fun

So I’ve had it in my mind to buy Ellie some tree blocks for her birthday this year. I had seen a few sets online and although they were rather pricey, I loved the look and thought of her building with earthy tree blocks and so I thought I would buy them. Something kept me from doing it though. And then our neighbor’s tree lost a large branch in a wind storm a few weeks ago. The branch had the most beautiful bark and I had it in my head to maybe make our own. I had my Dad drag the large branch over to our yard and there it sat for another week. We rent our house and with it comes a weekly gardening service to trim trees and mow the lawn. Well, the gardeners were here a couple of weeks ago and decided they would cut that large branch down to smaller chunks and take it away with them. I stopped them before they loaded the smaller logs up in their truck. “Wait, I’m saving that!” I ran out to them! I think they thought I was nuts but I was thankful they cut it into log sized pieces. Well, that very same week, I stumbled upon this post by Dawn about making your own tree blocks and it really inspired me that I could do this and make Ellie her own tree blocks. With some help from my strong husband and his wood working tools, we worked together to cut up some smaller block like sizes for Ellie and then I spent the next day or so, sanding the edges on each piece and finishing them with a bit of beeswax and jojoba oil to make them shine. They turned out lovely and it was almost therapeutic, sanding and waxing into the wee hours of the night after Ellie went to sleep.
I saved myself a lot of money by making these myself and even though it was a process, it was a fulfilling process, that I thoroughly enjoyed. (As you can see, I couldn’t wait for Ellie’s birthday to give them to her).
tree block 1

waxed

sanding

waxing all

blocks

building

 

Things I’m Grateful For

For the second year in a row now, one of my oldest and dearest friend’s and I are practicing a gratitude ritual. We email each other every Friday with three single lines. Three things we are each grateful for. When I first approached her with the idea I felt a bit silly. I had read how practicing a gratitude journal or something along those lines was good for maintaining a healthy, balanced life. But saying these things to another person felt weird, like I was bragging or showing off. But as soon as we got started, I loved it. It never feels like bragging, in fact, it feels humble to reflect on the things I have to be grateful for each week. It also brings a smile to my face and warmth to my heart to read my friend’s gratitude list each week. I feel honored knowing some of her most treasured moments and it brings even more gratitude to my life. I’m grateful for the weekly reminders to be fully present in this life. So with this in mind, I thought I’d express some gratitudes here for the month of June. You are welcome to play along too. I’d love to hear or see what you’re grateful for this month too. Link up or leave a comment with your gratitudes.

mama sun

Getting ready for the solstice this weekend, the official changing of the seasons!

cardsReceiving thoughtful cards from dear friends.
new peg dollsCrafting out the time to create, daily (The Little Prince Peg Doll and Mini Mat and my Miss Rumphius).

truck girlA well-rounded little one, who enjoys trucks and dinosaurs just as much as she likes Frozen.
peg walk

The daily surprise of who gets the coveted walk in the stroller.
june gardenA flourishing June garden
cloverAfternoon walks in the park
with this childWith this spunky kid.

readingGetting to watch these two spend time together.
gratefulOh, I am grateful indeed.

 

Ana meet Ellie

So Ellie got this adorable blue sweater from her Gramma a few weekends ago while we were in Santa Barbara for the Ocean Festival. Ellie hasn’t taken this sweater off in weeks. She wants to constantly wear her “Gramma sweater”, for naps, on walks in 70 degree weather. Ellie’s lucky we live so close to the beach breeze that’s been coming in every afternoon. Her sweater is getting lots of wear. Well, the other night it occurred to me that I hadn’t yet made an Ellie peg doll. The first thought that came to mind was how sweet a little Ellie peg doll with a blue sweater would be. And when I get ideas like this in my head, it’s hard to stop my hands from going to work.

meet ellie

Meet Ellie Peg Doll. She’s outfitted in the panda sleep shirt I made her months ago and her new bee pants she was handed down by her little buddy Summer (another piece of clothing she is coveting lately).

the sweaterAnd here she is adorned in her turquoise sweater. I used little scraps of wool felt to create the sweater, even including the white pockets she loves so much.

right view

left viewI added a little tiny button that I secured onto the sweater as well, for the finishing touch. I am rather taken with the whole thing myself.

Ellie seemed to be pretty impressed with the whole thing. She looked it over. She smiled at it and chatted with Ellie Peg doll and then when she tried to pull her hood over her head and realized I had sewn it down, she threw poor Ellie Peg Doll across the room and then proceeded to throw herself on the floor. (Note to self: when making replicas of my daughter in peg form, it is pertinent to replicate EVERY single detail, including a working hood. Thankfully, I only got the happy photos on camera). After we talked about her being upset because Ellie peg doll had no hood, I asked her if she would like to introduce Ellie Peg Doll to the rest of her wooden collection. And in cuteness overload, she marched right over to her table, picked up her good friend Ana (from Frozen of course) and the best of friends were made.
ellie meets ellie

look its elllie

its me!

ellies happy

me and her

reaching for her

ellie meet ana

talking

they were friends

A Birthday Busy Book

Okay, this post is going to be long, just to warn you…. I am nearly finished with Ellie’s Birthday Busy/Quiet book. I finished it way ahead of schedule (Ellie’s birthday isn’t till August), but I’m just so thrilled with how the whole thing came out, I have to share it with you early.
I’ve always wanted to make Ellie her own quiet book. (Some people refer to them as quiet books, some people call them busy books. I couldn’t fit “quiet” on the cover, so I went with busy book. Here is a more detailed description of what a busy book is, in case you had no idea what I am talking about. So, I had planned to make Ellie a busy book for her first Christmas but of course through all the nursing and the general new mothering happening (plus the 3 trips we took cross-country in her first year), making anything was pretty much out of the question. About six months ago, I felt like I was getting enough time after she went down for bed to start working on a busy book. I had been planning in my head for a while and I wanted the book to reflect Ellie’s likes as well as be something she could keep always and enjoy throughout her toddler-hood too.

It took me almost 5 months to make. I followed no template. Everything was completely hand-sewn and free form. Here it is in all its glory… I present “Ellie’s Busy Book” ! (Can you tell I’m a little excited?!)

presenting the book

busy book

Most of the fabric I used, were ones that were already in my stash. It was neat using bits and pieces from other projects. Many of them I had used to make other children softie animals.

page one

Page One is a personal chalkboard. Ellie loves drawing with chalk outside and is just starting to enjoy coloring. I found some chalkboard fabric and made a little felt E in the top corner and a little pocket to hold the chalk in the bottom corner. It was one of the easier pages, but I love the soft purples to start out with.

E

oage 2 farmers market

Page 2 and 3 are the Farmers Market pages. We have visited the farmers market so many weekends with Ellie since she was born. It’s a place Jeff and I love. It was only natural for me to start with building some type of farmers market page. I created a large basket (kind of like the ones we carry to the market every weekend), so that Ellie can fill the basket with fruit and veggies she finds in the bins. I thought I’d make it a little educational as well by adding numbers  to the bins corresponding with

how many bits of produce are in each bin.
farmers market bin

Page 4 and 5 are the Banjo pages. As many of you who read this blog regularly know, the banjo is common talk around here. Daddy plays it every night and Ellie has always loved dancing to his music. We even got Ellie her very own stuffed banjo for Christmas this past year. I thought a banjo page would be fun for her. She will be able to strum the banjo strings on page 5 and page 4 is a photo of her dancing to Daddy playing some tunes (she’s also holding the Daddy banjo peg doll I made for Jeff’s birthday this year too).

banjo pages

daddy plays b

banjo page

Page 6 and 7 are the Kite pages. Ellie’s love of kites started when we put on the Mary Poppins song “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” many months ago. She wanted to hear the song over and over again. Then we bought her a little kite (and one for Daddy too) and we fly those kites pretty regularly around the park and the beach. It’s one of her favorite things to do. Page 6 is Ellie and Mama flying her kite for the first time on the beach near our home. Page 7 is a removable kite with ribbon tassels as well as removable shapes on the kite. Each are attached with snaps to encourage some fine motor work as well as exploring shapes and puzzles.

kite pages

 

mama and kite

shapes

Page eight and nine are the train pages. This was the most complicated of all the pages. Hand-sewing each piece of track down was a bit tedious, but it did come out pretty cute. Ellie is in a big train phase these days. We watch the train every Wednesday, she’s just started to really play with her wooden train set we found at the swap meet and Gramma and Grandpa have taken her on a train ride at the local mall several times too. She can’t get enough trains.

train page

She will be able to open the caboose there to find little felt Wizard of Oz people (I was a very big fan of WofO for many years and my mom got me a Wizard of Oz apron, that I wear regularly while cooking or painting. Ellie loves to point out each character. I thought having her own little set of characters would tickle her.
woo charecters

For the next two trains, I made little windows for Ellie to open and close. Inside are two of the three pigs (another story we tell often and enjoy).

pigs

The sock monkey train conductor comes off of his post as well. He’s attached by a snap for easy removal.

sock monkey train conductor

The last page is an Ellie fabric doll page. Kind of like her own personal paper doll kit. I printed out a photo of her on fabric paper, fashioned a “fabric doll” and made several different articles of clothing. In these photos I haven’t quite finished it yet, but Ellie will be able to attach the clothes to the “Ellie doll” with velcro. And everything fits into the little pocket closet.

doll page

 

clothes

I’m still working on putting together a few more outfits, but for the most part, it’s finished.

ellie doll

the clothes

On the inside flap before you close the book, I placed a fabric photo of Jeff and Ellie and I (taken by this incredible photographer). A little inscription for the birthday girl.

inscription photo

inscription

the book

It was such a joy putting this book together for Ellie. I would sneak downstairs every night and whittle away at it while she slept. She’s never been a great sleeper so some nights I’d only get a few stitches in before she was calling for me again. But, I got it done. It feels so good to have completed something like this. Something she will hopefully love and cherish.

stitches

A Summer Play Mat

I’ve been sewing like crazy these past couple months. I have like 4 projects going all at the same time. The other day, Jeff came over to me and said, “how many projects are you doing?! You are dancing all over the place with needle thread, paint and sanding tools!” And it’s very true. Any time my busy child is sleeping, I go straight to work on a project. This week I was working hard to make Ellie a summer time play mat. I love the idea of a nature table (it was my pride and joy when I was a preschool teacher), but I also love the idea of having the nature we find, mingle with the toys we have out. And providing that seasonal aspect, the colors that summer time brings, the images summertime procures; I wanted to create something special for summertime play.

beach mat

I went about creating a beachy feel, with the different colors of an ocean blue as the centerpiece. I created rocks with luxurious wool felt, hoping to give a tide pool effect.

whole shebang

I made stepping-stones and a grassy area and then backed the whole thing with a funky and bright vintage tablecloth. And with a little help from Gerda Mueller’s Summer, I had a delightful back drop to bring it all together.
finished productAdd some great mermaid figures and some handmade peg people as well as some local beach wood and you’ve got yourself a summer play scape! Ellie loved it and as you can tell by all the photos and my blubbering, I kind of love it myself. In fact, I was going to present all of this to her on the solstice but I just couldn’t wait that long! This is California after all, and it’s felt like summer for quite a while already.

playing

I even whipped up a little starfish with some batik scraps I had left over. It adds some summer color to the tide pools don’t you think?
starfish

I love making these types of things for Ellie and now for other people’s children as well. I was a very imaginative child and loved creating special play spaces for my toys. I hope these play mats are simple enough to leave the play experiences up to the children but inspiring enough to expand and support imaginative play. I know it brings a smile to my face, every time I see Ellie playing at her table with the things I have made her. It is a joy to watch her play.

*I do have another summer time play mat complete with fabric tree stumps to enjoy in the shop. It has the same vintage backing but its a whole lot greener than this one. Perfect for a woodsy summer playscape. Check it out here.

 

22 Months and some odds and ends

Ellie is 22 months old today! We’re getting closer to 2, I can’t believe it. She’s definitely acting more like a two-year old and less like a baby these days. All of a sudden, she’s talking in full sentences (many of which we can’t understand just yet, but sentences and words oh my)! She’s also been busy really playing with her toys. She pretends to hide her peg dolls and animals and then they “run, run, run” all over the play mat. She loves anything to do with water; pouring it, drinking it, swimming in it. Once upon a time, we couldn’t get this child to take a bath and now she’s a water aficionado. She starts a swimming class with her Daddy at the end of the month. Something low-key, at our local city pool, where she’ll just be getting used to being in the water and learning some basic techniques. I’m hoping she will enjoy this time with her Dada as well as the swimming. The hour they are gone for swimming, Mama gets to enjoy some creative painting and crafting time, so as anxious as I am about Ellie doing a class with Daddy (away from me), I’m trying to see it more as a great way for them to connect and for me to get some Mama time in.
22months

Other things happening around these parts…

I just put a few new things in my Etsy shop! Some summertime inspired peg dolls and a lovely summer time play mat (that I really wanted to keep for myself,  I liked it so much) and I created a Snow Queen for my “Frozen” mats for those families who would rather have the original Hans Christen Anderson story instead of the Disney-fied version. Check them out here!

sea fairy

sun fairy

Snow Queen mat

snow queen

 

I’ve also been trying to fit in painting here and there. I’m desperately trying to catch up in this online class I’m taking. There’s a break this summer, so hopefully I’ll be able to keep up. It’s challenging and exciting and sometimes frustrating when my art doesn’t come out on paper the way I see it in my head, but I think that’s probably a good step to learning more and getting better.

class

What are you creating or up to these days?