CrafterDay Saturday–Roll-Up Play Kitchen Tutorial

I’ve had this project in mind for ages, and finally HAD to make it. I had casually mentioned to Anneliese one day that I was going to make her a stove. Every day after that, she would tell me as she played with her toys, “Mama make stove!”

So… she knows how to get me moving. It still took me a while, doing the sewing in quiet stolen moments here and there, but now it’s finished and she LOVES it.

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This stove is basically a mini-quilt, and includes ties for rolling and storing, or for throwing in a bag to take to grandparents’ houses, the front yard, or wherever your little chef wants to cook up a storm!

No, it isn’t realistic (anyone have a floral stove??). The knobs don’t turn, and the burners don’t glow. But this is a place where realism isn’t necessary. Our kids can exercise their imaginations, and practice their (novice) culinary skills at the same time. You should see my daughter jiggling veggies in a pan as she sautes them!

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In case you’d like to make a fabric stove for your little one, I’ve made a step-by-step tutorial! I hope it helps you!


1. Find some fabric for the burners and knobs. Trace some circles onto the wrong side of the fabrics, using a water-soluble pen or chalk. I made one of the burners smaller, for a simmer burner. But yours can be all the same size if you want.

2. Iron on some wonder under fusible web. Not the interfacing that is only fusible on one side… but the web, which is just like ironing on a layer of glue. (My iron really is pink.)

3. Remove the paper backing from the web, and cut out your shapes. (You’ll be able to see your trace lines through the web.)


4. Arrange your burners and knobs onto a rectangle of another fabric, which will be your stovetop.

5. Being careful not to move them from their positions, iron the circles into place, following the directions on the Wonder Under.

6. Using embroidery thread, blanket stitch around the edges of the circles. This is optional, but will make it more attractive (in my opinion) and sturdier when you wash it.


7. Also optional, at this point you can add more embellishment. I used a chain stitch to make swirls on the burners, and sewed buttons onto the knobs.


8. Layer your stovetop with some batting and backing, the same size or a bit bigger (you can trim later).

9. Quilt your layers however you’d like. I’m not really a quilter, so I just made little x’s on the top, and tied off the threads on the bottom using a square knot. I know my mom had quilts that were made like this when I was a kid, and I always thought they were neat. I left about 1/4 inch of the thread on each knot.


10. Add binding to the edges, and be sure to sew in a couple of strips (binding which was sewn closed, or ribbons, twill tape, or anything really) for rolling up the stovetop.


11. Now you can roll it up and tie! Add a couple of wooden spoons under the bow, and you have yourself a self-wrapping gift!


12. The most important step — play!


I hope you and your little ones enjoy your mini-quilt stovetop!

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Crafterday Saturday @ Joyful Abode

10 Tips for a Fab Photo Book


It’s easy to take hundreds, no, THOUSANDS, of digital photos. You’ve probably got at least an 8 GB memory card in your “real” camera, so you don’t have to worry about filling it up, and your phone’s built-in camera probably rivals most stand-alone point & shoot cameras available these days — and it’s almost always on your person. But these thousands of photos aren’t doing any good sitting on your hard drive, your camera’s memory card, or your phone. If you’re truly “capturing a memory” the point is to later…relive that memory. Am I right?

And no one seems to curl up with their loved ones in front of a computer monitor to laugh about that hilarious Halloween costume Aunt Madge wore 10 years ago, or to “awww” over their kindergarten graduation photos. Books are a much better medium for this.

You could scrapbook, printing out individual photos and storing them in files labeled by event and date, then scouring stores for the perfect papers, embellishments, and archival glue (and spending a fortune in the process), then blocking out time to painstakingly crop, round corners, arrange, and glue… and maybe in 3 hours you’ll have a beautiful 2-page spread about how Johnny lost his first tooth.

But if you spend so long documenting each little moment, how are you going to make new memories? In 10 years will you be making scrapbook pages about organizing your scrapbooking room? About how you learned to set eyelets and chalk edges of precision-ripped mulberry paper? About how you made that gorgeous “Johnny’s first visit from the tooth fairy!” page?

Personally, I think there are better ways to use that time (and money).

There are many companies out there now that will let you digitally create a photo book, and then print and professionally bind it and send it to you. This post isn’t about the different companies. But there are lots. Some let you control every minute aspect of layout. Others have a “make the book for me!” option, where all you do is upload your photos and suddenly they’re arranged in a book, complete with backgrounds, borders, and a consistent color scheme. There’s everything in between, too.

And these are books that will take up MUCH less space than scrapbooks, be much more fun to look through than computer files, and — in the case of disaster (fire, flood, a toddler who tears pages or colors with sharpie) — can be printed again and again.

Are you convinced yet? It’s time to move to digitally-created photo books.

Here are 10 tips to help you get started.

1. Narrow it down.

A while ago, I asked on twitter, “How often do you go through your digital photos and delete the not-as-good ones?” Guess what. Some people NEVER delete a single photo. Other people keep up with it regularly. For some people, deleting not-as-good photos means saving the top 4 photos from any event. For others, it means narrowing down 2000 photos to 200.

Whatever your version is, DO IT. You’re never going to enjoy 400 photos of your baby sleeping on a blanket. But 3 or 4 with different facial expressions might be worth keeping.

2. Decide on your book’s “theme.”

Will you be making a family “yearbook” with your photos in roughly-chronological order? Or a more focused book, like one all about your trip to New Zealand? Maybe you’ll make one that has a theme, like “Jamie’s School Field Trips” or “A Year of Breakfasts.” All you have to do is decide. Pick ONE. Start there. You can do ALL the others later. But just choose which one you’re going to do FIRST. That’s how you start this journey.

3. Binding matters.

Make sure you can label your book’s spine. Most companies allow this, but some types of books (often soft-cover) don’t have this option. But when your books are on a shelf together, you want to be able to pull out the one you want to flip through. Label it in a way that will remind you what’s inside.


4. A killer cover.

Choose some stand-out photos for your cover. This is what will show when the book is sitting on the coffee table. Hopefully it’ll invite visitors or family members to pick it up and flip through the pages. Make it count.


5. Highlight your favorites.

You’ll want to include lots of pictures to tell stories, or show the details of events or gatherings, but for the photos you really LOVE on their own, allow them to shine. Give them a full-page spread and you can linger over them when you are revisiting your book.


6. Don’t get long-winded.

While you do want to share your experiences, memories, and stories… no one — including you — will want to look through 15 pages of Christmas Day. It’s okay to cram a bunch of pictures onto a few pages, if you want. Just make sure you’ve narrowed it down (Tip 1) so you don’t end up with 40 pictures of Suzie smiling and holding up a different gift.


7. Include what YOU want to remember.

As I was making these books, I thought a few times, “How silly — who would want to look at a picture of ___?” But if the answer is “I would.” that’s reason enough. On the spread below, you can see I included a photo of Anneliese’s video baby monitor — which has since been replaced by my homemade iPhone video baby monitor.

I remember the first nights she started in her bed, and how I would stare at the monitor, watching her sleep, almost afraid to fall asleep myself. I remember MISSING her while she was in the next room. I remember opening my eyes in the middle of the night because of the tiniest sound, just to check on her. Also? I think it’ll be fun to look at our clunky old technology in 35 years.

I also included before and after pictures of room makeovers, “tours” of rooms, and so forth. As a military family, we’ve moved a lot, and it’s fun to look back on old houses of ours.


8. Treat photo series as one.

If you have a collection of a few very similar photos, don’t feel like you have to just choose one. If they’re different enough to enjoy each one, go ahead an put them all in. Just make sure they look good in the book. This is similar to Tip 5 — Highlight your favorites. Feel free to take an entire page, or 2-page spread to include a photo series. Don’t scatter them among other photos across several pages. Arrange the photos so they relate to each other and your eye can flow through them easily.


9. Don’t feel pressured to use text.

Do what you want! If you’re not a journaler, you don’t have to have an explanation of every picture (and we all know a picture is worth 1000 words, and redundancy is …well…repetitive). You can use text to mark the beginnings of months, title memorable events, or signify special days if you’d like. You can include a favorite family recipe alongside your Thanksgiving photos, or chronicle memories you don’t want to forget, in great detail. It’s up to you. But don’t feel like you HAVE to write anything, if you don’t want to. It’ll only hold you back.


10. Just do it.

Instead of planning every detail of every photo book you ever hope to make, painstakingly researching every book printing company, and fretting over how to proceed, just do it. Did you see a Groupon for a great photo book deal? Snag it and use it. Has a company sent you a promotional email or postcard, awarding you a free 20-page book? Go ahead and pop some of your favorite recent pictures into a premade template. A few dollars in shipping and you’ll have a fun book to look through! Even if it’s not perfect, it’s better than having your photos rotting on your hard drive, forgotten.


Craft Area in the Laundry Room

The houses here on base NAS Lemoore have so much storage space. I love it! I decided to turn the empty half of the laundry room into a craft area a while back, instead of just using it to store rubbermaid bins of holiday decorations or something. I planned out the shelving and desk, and my husband and I picked up all the goodies to make it a reality.

All of my fabric is organized on comic book boards by type and then by color.

The boxes are from IKEA, and I love how they give the area a uniform look…


…and since I’m a “dabbler” (I like to do a little bit of a lot of different crafts), I love the narrow boxes to organize different materials, or projects I’m in the middle of.


How do you organize your craft area?

And more importantly, when do you find the time to craft? That’s the one I need to work on more…

Matryoshka Curtains and Custom Laundry Basket Liner

Aaaaages and ages ago, Urban Outfitters used to make “tapestries” which were really like awesome hemmed pieces of huge fabric. They still make “tapestries” but now instead of being like regular printed fabric (with a smaller pattern), they mostly have one giant panel printed on them.

I wish they still made them the old way. Because this is one of the ones they had… and I bought it, not knowing exactly what I would use it for. Until I decided it would make fantastic curtains in my little girl’s room.

They were SO easy to make, since I mostly just cut the fabric in half and cut it to length, then hemmed the cut edges.


I had a bit leftover from cutting the panels to the right length, so I decided to make a liner for Anneliese’s laundry basket. It had been bugging me for a while that there was no way to wash the (attached) fabric on the inside of the basket. So a removable liner was an easy solution.

Basically, for the inside, I traced the bottom of the basket and cut an oval to match, then made 2 rectangles and sewed them to the bottom. Since the basket’s sides don’t go straight up and down, I pinned the side seams with the liner in the basket, inside-out. So when I sewed them, it fit perfectly.



After that, all I had to do was sew on the Matryoshka panels and some twill tape to tie bows with, and I had the perfect laundry basket liner for Anneliese’s bedroom.


Table and Curtains and Chairs, Oh My!

In an effort to brighten up the kitchen and dining room, I decided to bring in yellow and white, and trade our dark dining furniture for something lighter. We sold our dark wooden table (which was wonderful, but very big in our space here) and got this light-colored one from Ikea (and the place mats are from Ikea too).

Then I hit the sewing machine. I made some giant rectangles out of my yellow and white fabric (from, and lined them with white flat sheets from wal-mart.


I hung them on the curtain rod using these, which just make it SO easy to make your own curtains.


Yay! Brightness!


I also got chevron fabric at, and used it to make some simple half-curtains for above the sink and the small window in the dining area.


When the curtains were finished, I needed to re-cover the chair cushions. These are so easy it’s ridiculous. I un-screwed the seats and pried up the old fabric (so long, Jessica Jones)…


…it was lovely having you in my dining room. But it’s time to move on.


And then just stapled on the new fabric. Simple!


I covered two chair seats with each fabric.


(Oh yeah, this is when I was still pregnant. Sorry, y’all… so behind on blogging this stuff.)


And then one weekend, my sweet husband spray painted the chairs white. He did NOT want to. Men have a gene that makes them morally opposed to painting wood. But he did it. And then admitted it looked pretty great and cheerful in there. And it does.

I LOVE my new bright dining room.

Another Nesting Project– Craft Area

I haven’t finished the bath mat yet. It’s still in the same shape as when I posted about it. But I’m simultaneously trying to get the craft area in the laundry room under control.

Craft area in the laundry room? Yeah… I’m SUPER lucky. In the office, I have a sewing table set up, but for other crafts, my husband put up these shelves in the laundry room for me. I store my fabric and notions in here too (while sewing TOOLS are in my sewing area), and I have a desktop where I can decoupage or hot glue without worrying about making a little mess.


But it’s kind of unusable if it looks like a tornado whipped through it… and that’s how it’s been the last few months. I would take out fabric for a project, or a tool I needed, and by the time I finished the project, everything just ended up piled on the desk in there… and things escalated from there. So I’m beating it into submission.


I’ve gotten all my fabric back where it belongs, reorganized a few things and labeled some boxes properly, and gotten rid of some extraneous stuff… and it’s looking a lot better already. NOT finished yet, but getting there. And it’s making me more excited for projects again. It’s hard to be inspired in a space that is messy or unusable.


Current Project–Bath Mat

As part of my nesting/reorganizing projects, I bought new towels for both bathrooms. The others were from when I was in college, and some from when The Guy and I first got married. Getting a bit old… And I was tired of the color.

I decided to do Anneliese’s bathroom in her “signature” color combo, yellow, turquoisey/aqua, and white. I don’t really want it to be too themey/kiddy, because it’s also the hall/guest bathroom, but I want it to be whimsical and fun.


Well her towels and wash cloths are her aqua color, and I have yellow hand towels, and was GOING to buy a yellow bath mat to match, but Target discontinued or stopped carrying the matching yellow mat! So instead, I bought a big yellow towel to sew into a bath mat.


And then I decided to add some interest to it by making some crocheted motifs to stitch on. I’ve been working on the crocheted parts for the last 3 days, really without a plan… just sort of going where they took me.


…and this is what I ended up with. I need to weave in the ends and sew the pieces on, but this is the general idea. Also, the mat isn’t really a wonky shape like that; that’s just the angle of the picture making it look that way. It’s really a rectangle, I swear.


Do you have any tips for decorating bathrooms (without painting/changing fixtures)? I always feel kind of at a loss about what to do in them.

Décor-wise, I mean.

How to Store Little Girls’ Headbands and Hair Clips


My little girl has lots of “hair things” and for a while, I just had them in a drawer in her dresser. But that’s not exactly the ideal storage solution… things get buried and you forget they’re there, or you KNOW there is a hair clip to match this outfit, but can’t find it, or headbands get tangled…

Enter: my storage solutions.

The first one is a quick and easy DIY project. Depending on how many hair clips your child has, and how long her name is, you can get wooden letters for her first initial, monogram (what I did), or spell her entire name (which would be crazy with Anneliese!).

I got these white wooden letters at Michael’s, and also picked up some aqua and yellow acrylic craft paint to decorate them with.

You’ll also need lengths of ribbon (I used grosgrain ribbon, and layered a .5” ribbon on top of a 1.5” ribbon, just for some interest.

And for the bottom of each ribbon, you’ll want another wooden shape, to cover the edge, give a “finished” look, and weigh down the ribbon a little bit (which was helpful when my daughter had just a few hair clips).

All you need to do is hot glue your ribbon to the back-center of each letter, and hot glue the smaller wooden shapes to the bottom of each one.

I hung my daughter’s on her sliding closet door with Command Strips, which were easy to install (if you can even call it installation) and won’t damage the door when we need to remove them.


Headbands create a different challenge. I’ve seen headband holders made of oatmeal canisters (which I think is a good idea for headbands with openings, like the harder plasticy ones), clotheslines with each headband pinned on with a clothes pin (cute, but what if you have more than 5 headbands?), and cup hooks usually on the bottom of a frame meant to hold the bows and clips (but you KNOW those little hooks would be overloaded with headbands very shortly).

I’m not sure when this idea popped into my head but I was SO excited about it when it did. This lets me see her headbands so I can find the right one, and I can easily pull it over the others and off the end… and, like the hair clip holder above, it takes up zero surface space on my daughter’s dresser or shelves!

It’s a hand towel rack, which I picked up at Lowe’s. Simple! It’s installed over the dresser, and holds lots of Anneliese’s headbands. There are a few that are wider or bulkier that I’ve put in one of her dresser drawers, but most of them are “out”  now, easily accessed, and pretty to look at!


I hope this post gave you some new ideas or helped you decide what to do with your daughter’s collection (or your own) of “hair pretties.”

If you enjoyed my ideas and pictures, please pass it on by clicking to share on facebook, twitter, G+, stumbleupon, or by pinning it on pinterest. Thanks so much!

Handmade Christmas–Part 7: Christmas Eve Nightgown

A lot of people I know have a pajama tradition for Christmas. Usually it’s a gift that each child can open on Christmas Eve — brand new exciting pajamas! I think most years my mom made my sisters and me matching pajamas, and I think the handmade-ness of it is kind of special. There’s nothing wrong with Old Navy “jingle jammies” at all, but I like the idea of something special no one else has, too.

I didn’t make PJs for Anneliese last year, but this year I repurposed a nightgown of my own that I haven’t been able to wear in a long time, and won’t be able to either (since it’s not breastfeeding friendly). The fabric is so pretty and soft, and I’m glad Anneliese can enjoy it.

I also cut up a camisole I had in the “for use as fabric” pile (I need to come up with a better storage system for upcycle-able stuff like that than a pile), to use for the sleeves and accents.

She is laughing here, I promise. Look at her cute chubby feet!


It’s not a perfect nightgown by any means (other than straight lines I’m kind of a sloppy seamstress), but it fits and it’s cute.


The nightgown I cut up already had the gathers under the bodice, so the new nightgown is nice and full.


And I made it extra-long because of all the growth-spurting Anneliese has been doing. Hopefully it’ll fit for a couple of months.


Anneliese explored the tree and looked at her presents, then went into her room to look at a book and get ready for bed.


The little flower is hand-sewn and hand-stitched onto the front, and the heart is blanket-stitched on by hand also.


A heart for my heart.


Stop and smell the roses.


Handmade Christmas–Part 6: Coloring Wallets

I decided to make a few of these little travel coloring clutches for Anneliese and some of her toddler friends. I thought they would be easy to throw into a diaper bag or stroller to take along anywhere you might need a little distraction. A doctor’s appointment or a trip to the DMV or whatever.

It’s pretty compact. See?


And when you open it up, there are slots for 8 mini colored pencils (which I got at Michael’s) or crayons.

The other side is one big pocket for storing coloring pages. I drew my own, scanned them in and printed them 4-to-a-page. If you do a google image search for “coloring pages” though, you’ll find lots of line drawings you can print out the same way. Simple!


The fabric I used is cotton flannel, and I fused together two pieces with Pellon Wonder Under, which is an iron-on fusible web.

I trimmed the short ends of the rectangle with pinking shears, then folded in the sides and ironed firmly, folded the whole thing in half and ironed the center crease.

A line of stitches 1/4” in from each of the longer sides, and I trimmed those sides with my pinking shears too.

After that, 7 more lines of stitching on the crayon/pencil side (evenly spaced of course), and the coloring wallet is ready for filling!


Ready for on-the-go coloring or gift-giving!