Category Archives: Parenting

Making Hearts for Grandma and Grandpa

The new year has me in constant conflict with myself. At least my organization self versus my reduce-reuse-recycle self. I was off to a great start with some long overdue organizing goals, which resulted in cleaning out our closets, storage room, office, kitchen drawers and cabinets, etc., and donating or tossing a lot of the excess items we’ve accumulated over the years.

I also found myself collecting items that should have immediately gone in the recycling bin (think: empty yogurt containers and jam jars).  I had high expectations of spending the cold winter months doing art projects with my toddler son, so I took the garbage and placed it in my newly organized cabinets instead of the recycling bin.  Fortunately, my parents were planning a trip to visit us the weekend before Valentine’s Day and this was the perfect excuse to break out the art supplies and surprise them with a Valentine made by their toddler grandson.

We got to work by gathering our supplies:

  • Non-toxic tempera paint
  • Card stock in Alister’s choice of pink, purple, and red
  • Empty toilet paper rolls*
  • Yogurt container lids*

*I am giving myself bonus points for this project since we found new uses for two garbage-worthy items.

To make the heart-shaped stamp, you take an empty toilet paper roll and flatten it into a rectangle. Then, gently release the roll and flip one of the folded sides so it is now slightly pointing inward. Boom, you have yourself a heart stamp. Make any necessary adjustments you wish until it looks like a heart.

After that, take any colors you wish to use and pour a small amount into whichever paint tray you choose. We use old yogurt container lids and they work like a charm. This is also a great opportunity to let your child mix different colors. In keeping with the Valentine theme, we used three lids – one for red, one for white, and one for Alister to explore and make his very own pink.

Red + white = pink!

Now it’s time to paint! Take your heart stamp and place it into the paint to lightly coat the heart-shaped end. Now, stamp it all over your paper until it runs low and return it to the tray to re-coat or try another color. You can also flip it to the other end for another color if you want to keep them separate.

Heart stamping fun

This craft is perfect for small children. It is easy to execute. The mess is contained. And there is a small educational element as they mix two colors of paint to make a new color.

Heart stamping fun

Hope you have as much fun as we did! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Heart stamped Valentine

 

Blueberries for Al – blueberry picking & blueberry muffins

Blueberries for Sal

Blueberries for Sal.  What a great summertime read.  We received the book from one of my dear friends, Suzanne, before Alister was born.  Beautifully illustrated, it tells the story of a mother taking her child to pick blueberries at the same time and place that a mother bear takes her cub.  After a slight mix-up between mother and child, it has a happy ending with Sal and mother back in the kitchen canning blueberries.  We love the book, and there is no better time to read it than during blueberry season in the summer.

Having already given us the book, Suzanne surprised us again a couple of months after Alister was born.  She stopped by to drop off fresh blueberries right out of the patch.  They were the best blueberries I had ever tasted and I was determined to figure out the secret.  Turns out, it wasn’t much of a secret at all – she hand-picked them from a pick-your-own orchard in the area.

Well a year later, we found ourselves introducing Alister to the deliciousness of blueberries and it was love at first bite.  He cannot get enough of them, and so they have become a key ingredient in every meal he eats.  We’re thrilled that his treat of choice is an antioxidant and fiber-rich treat, but we also knew that blueberry season would soon come to an end.   But did it have to?  If we stocked up while they were in season, then we could find a way to surprise our little buddy and sneak his favorite food back into his life throughout the Fall and Winter.

Remembering the delicious blueberries Suzanne gave us, we were inspired to do the same.  We decided to try the same orchard/berry farm that Suzanne visited – Butler’s Orchard – even though we debated going back to the same place we picked apples and pumpkins last Fall.    And what better weekend than this past weekend?  The temperature dropped about 30 degrees from the previous week.  And to make the deal a little sweeter, it was the final weekend for blueberry picking at Butler’s Orchard,  but it was the first weekend for blackberry picking!

Here is a look at our blueberry picking adventure.  Get ready to start SALivating!

Blueberries!

A lovely day for picking berries.  Mid-seventies, a few clouds, and very little humidity, unlike the swamp we are accustomed to around the DC area.

Blueberries as far as the eye could see.

The blueberries were ripe and delicious for picking.  To think we were concerned there wouldn’t be any left!  I assure you our containers were overflowing.

Blueberries

See any similarities?  Even the same disheveled hairstyle.  Alister had just as much fun squishing the blueberries as he had devouring them.

Blueberries for Al

Blueberries for Al

Blueberries for Sal

Blueberries for Sal

After we realized Alister was having a little too much fun squishing the blueberries we picked, we gave him his own container and filled it with about a dozen berries instead of the hundred he was trying to smash.  This seemed to entertain him for awhile.  Well, at least for a few minutes while the dozen berries made their way from the container to his belly.  Just as Sal did in the book, Alister took a few berries, dropped them into his container, and then ate them.  Ku-plink, ku-plank, ku-plunk.

Blueberries for Al

When we were done with the blueberries, we made our way over to the blackberries that were just beginning to ripen.  You can see it was still early in the season, but I managed to fill a couple of containers with plump blackberries.

Blackberries

After we finished picking blackberries, we headed home and started making grand plans for our fresh picked fruit.  Pies, crisps, ice cream, smoothies.  We thought of it all.  However, over the past few days, we have enjoyed eating them in their natural form.  No added sugar necessary.  Here is Alister taking advantage of the summer’s bounty, once again.

Blueberries for Al

And once again.  Nom nom nom.

Blueberries for Al

Despite my good intentions to enjoy them in their purest form, it just so happened that our new next door neighbors moved in that day.  What a perfect excuse to use some blueberries in a baked good (and then give it away so I do not devour it myself).  After a quick google for the best blueberry muffins, I came across the following recipe that resulted in light, fluffy, almost cupcake-like blueberry muffins.   If you are looking for a blueberry muffin that is a little on the sweeter side (for my taste) and received rave reviews online, here you go:

BLUEBERRY MUFFINS – recipe found here and listed below.

Blueberry Muffins

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup butter or 1/2 cup margarine, at room temp
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries or 2 1/2 cups frozen blueberries

For Topping

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, mixed with
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 375°.
  2. Grease 18 regular-size muffin cups (or 12 large size muffins).
  3. In bowl, mix butter until creamy.  Add sugar and beat until pale and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each.
  5. Beat in vanilla, baking powder and salt.
  6. With spoon, fold in half of flour then half of milk into batter; repeat.
  7. Fold in blueberries.
  8. Spoon into muffin cups and sprinkle topping onto each muffin.
  9. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and springy to touch.

We All Live In A Yellow Submarine – Alister’s First Birthday

It’s hard to believe that it has been a year since we welcomed our bundle of joy into our lives. It is true what they say that there is nothing more exhausting and rewarding than having a baby.

Alister - New Born
Of course, no one ever told me that part of the deal was singing Yellow Submarine at least once per day for an entire year.  But can you blame us?  The moment we sang it to him, he started smiling.  And from that moment on, whenever he was fussy or resisted to eat, all we had to do was belt out the first line of the song and he was back to his happy self.  Alister has picked up quite the dancing moves over the year as well, and when we chime in with lyrics from his favorite song, he stops what he is doing and starts swaying along with surprising rhythm.  It was only fitting that his first birthday celebration focus on his favorite song.

After scouring all things Yellow Submarine, Yellow Party, and First Birthday on Pinterest, I narrowed my projects down to a few reasonable tasks.  From here on out, they are appropriately referred to as my naptime projects, because each project was started and finished or at least substantially complete during a weekend nap.  So much for “sleep when the baby sleeps.”

YELLOW SUBMARINE CUT-OUT PHOTO PROP

My first project allowed me to recycle the giant box that carried Alister’s new big-boy car seat.  The added bonus was that  I was able to take advantage of a beautiful Spring day.  Inspired by Yellow Submarine photo-shoot props, I was determined to make one of my own.  Sure it was not an exact replica of the album artwork, but with the bold colors and obvious Submarine shape, who would know?

For starters, I sketched a very loose outline of a Yellow Submarine photo I saw online on the backside of the expanded box, making a point of maximizing the cardboard area.  Next, I got out my heavy duty scissors, which I’m pretty sure are supposed to cut metal, and started cutting out the holes I traced from a serving plate.

Sketch and cut

Three holes later and the hard work was done.  Cut the peep holes

Next, I started filling in the lines with similar colors.  It may not have been a perfect match, but once I added the yellow, it really started to resemble the Yellow Submarine I had in mind.

Paint and paint.

I considered cutting around the outside of the submarine, but Justin convinced me to paint the background blue.  Not only was this a lot easier than cutting through thick cardboard, but it really helped making the submarine pop.  Also, it allowed me to use some leftover blue paint we had from remodeling our bedroom, so I felt like I was recycling the paint instead of tossing it.  How appropriate given Earth Day was just around the corner.

Finishing touches

If I were to do this over, I would have moved the holes a little higher on the cardboard.  I did not think that through and when all was said and done, I wasn’t quite sure how people would pop their head through without lying on the ground.  Fortunately, I had blue tissue paper at home, so I draped it over a card table and propped the cut out on top of it.  The little ones could just pop behind there while we took their photos.Say cheese!

Unfortunately, I do not have Alister’s photo to share right now, but I will post that at another time.

FIRST YEAR FLAG BANNER

What I lack in Alister Yellow Submarine photos, I make up for in the flag banner.  This was my personal highlight of the decorations for obvious reasons.  What do I love more than one photo of Alister?  Twelve photos.

 I do not even remember how I stumbled upon this blog post, but I am so happy I did.  It was exactly what I was looking for to showcase Alister’s monthly onesie photos while decorating with a yellow banner.  I printed out 4×6 copies of Alister’s monthly photos onto regular computer paper and followed the directions and the template for measuring and cutting out flags.  Once the flags were cut, I  measured one of the photos onto the center of the flag and cut around it.  Then, as recommended in the post, I used the photo to trace the shape for all other photos.   I did the same with the yellow and white diagonal striped card stock, which I used in between each of the photos.

Cut and paste

Once the cutting was complete, I simply used a glue stick to attach all the pieces.  Then I punched holes in the corners of each flag and wove a yellow ribbon to attach them.  It was a perfect decoration to hang in our living room where most guests would congregate.

12 mos of Alister

Here is another close up shot of the banner.
A close-up

 PARTY HATS

 In the hustle and bustle of looking up all things first birthday party, I must have stumbled upon this post about DIY party hats.  Not only does it share a few ideas for decorating hats, but it provides you with a printable template for tracing and cutting your own hats.  I traced the template onto pale yellow cardstock (with the exception of one bright yellow piece for Alister).  Then I simply connected the pieces, forming a cone shape, and taped the interior to prevent it from flying open.  Next came the fun part.  I had a few leftover tissue paper balls after making large ones to hang from the ceiling.  I attached the balls  to resemble yellow flowers for some of the hats.  For the others, I got out my new hole punch toys and went to work cutting and pasting.

Cut and decorate

It was another great accent to the corner of the room for the little kids who attended.  I hadn’t thought about this at the time, but the kids (or the parents of the kids) ended up writing their names on the circle attachment to the front of the hats.  So it ended up doubling as name tags for the little ones.  Also, to make it a little more enjoyable for them, I hid a bottle of bubbles under each hat.  Who doesn’t love bubbles?Put on your party hats!

Here is Alister in his one-of-a-kind, made-by-mommy birthday hat ready to try his first bite of cake!The Birthday Boy

PARTY DECORATIONS

In no particular order, here is a look at some of the other decorations we had scattered around the house.

Come aboard our Yellow Submarine!

Front Door Sign

 A room with a view.  A very yellow view.  Also a look at my very first attempt at making tissue paper balls.  Not perfect, but not bad.

Yellow

The cake table was full of yellow treats before we brought out the cake.  With Easter just a few weeks before his birthday, it was the perfect time of year to find yellow-colored treats in the store.  Yellow Peeps, Reeses Eggs, pretzel rods dipped in yellow melting chocolate leftover from the favors (more on that below), yellow M&Ms, Lemonheads.  And of course a lemon and daisy centerpiece.Yellow Table Decorations

The drink stand focused on yellow drinks as well.  From left to right:

  • Pineapple Sangria – recipe here – doubled the ingredients and used 3L of wine
  • Lemonade – good old fashioned Country Time mix with lots of lemon slices
  • Adult Lemonade – 3-4 parts lemonade, 1 part vodka, 1 part seltzer water
  • In the back are two bowls full of lemon slices and pineapples to accompany the drinks.

Yellow Drinks

We couldn’t let the guests go hungry, so keeping with the theme, we put up a Design Your Own Yellow Submarine (sandwich) Bar.  From left to right:

  • Turkey Meatballs – doubled the recipe seen here
  • Beef and Sausage Meatballs – doubled the recipe seen here
  • Italian Rolls
  • Turkey and Ham
  • Cheese, Tomatoes, Onions, and Lettuce
  • And unrelated to the design-your-own-submarine theme, but still keeping with yellow, there is my favorite corn salsa recipe, a simple onion dip, and another bowl of pineapple chunks.

Submarine Bar

Here is the birthday boy not too happy with his birthday hat that slid onto his face.  I didn’t bother too much with his high chair since there was a small window between lunch and the start of the party, but I managed to string some yellow balloons to the back and hang some crepe paper along with a little “ONE” sign from the tray.
Cake Time!

Once that hat came off, he was ready for anything.  And by “anything,” I mean staring down a tiny piece of cake until we forced him to smash his hands in it.  So much for a cake smash photo.  Justin just looked at him and said, “you are your Mother’s child” as he did not get a single speck of food on him.  
Hmmm, I only trust Cheerios.

FAVORS

Even if they had enough sugar to last the year, we couldn’t send the guests away empty handed.  Recommended by a pin I had previously seen when used as a cupcake topper, I purchased a Yellow Submarine ice cube tray from Amazon along with more than enough packages of Wilton yellow melting chocolate, hence the pretzel rods previously mentioned, and got to work.  After sixty seconds in the microwave at reduced power, I poured the melted chocolate into the ice cube tray to cool at room temperature for about twenty minutes.  With only nine molds in the tray, I finished this project over the course of the day.
Melt the chocolate

I placed three chocolates in a cellophane bag, tied it with a yellow ribbon and placed it in a white basket I filled with yellow grass I picked up after the Easter rush.Thanks for coming!

Once the last of the guests were gone, our little buddy finally relaxed and enjoyed a piece of cake.  With a spoon.Sneaking secondsWell, I think that about wraps up Alister’s First Birthday party!  We had a wonderful time celebrating his first year with our friends and family.  Here’s looking forward to another memorable year with this amazing addition to our lives.

Making the Holidays Merry and Bright – DIY Baby’s First Christmas Photo Shoot

Now that January is coming to a close and we finally packed away the last of our holiday decorations, I began reminiscing on the highlights of this past holiday season.  Without a doubt, the most memorable experience was watching Alister as he experienced the whole season for the first time.  From the Christmas tree to lighting the menorah to the countless hours watching me bake in the kitchen.  And of course there was the regular stream of presents that continued to appear throughout the entire month of December.  Santa (Alister’s grandparents, aunts and uncles, and parents’ friends) treated this first-timer quite well this season.  Of course, when it comes to Alister, the wrapping paper provided enough joy let alone what the box contained!  Each present was truly the gift that keeps on giving.

Okay, so rather than spend the entire post discussing every “first” Alister experienced last month (that’s what his untouched baby book is for), I will focus on one of the more enjoyable times I had with him.   Inspired by a number of pins on Pinterest, I staged an amateur photo shoot for Alister’s first Christmas card. (Can you call it a photo shoot if it lasts 10 minutes?)  Well, we were so pleased with the results, particularly since I have no photography skills, I wanted to share a quick “how-to” for creating a similar scene with items you have around the house.

Step 1Find the location.  Given that it is winter and we have very little direct sunlight facing our home, we opted for the room that received some sunlight in the morning.

Step 2 – Set the stage.  We already had a white blanket on the bed in the room, so that helped set the scene.  To make it feel wintry, we draped white towels over the dark wood headboard of the bed and wrapped a couple of strings of white Christmas lights around the headboard.  Surprisingly, everything stayed put with little effort and no tape.  We placed Alister clad only in a diaper and polar bear hat on the blanket.  To provide him some warmth on a chilly December morning, as well as some decency, we draped one of his white baby blankets over his lap.

Set the stage and distract the baby

Step 3 – Distract the subject.  The oversized hat, a gift from his Aunt Rachel and Uncle Adam, was a perfect distraction for the photo shoot.

A hat makes a great distraction

Step 4 – Who turned out the lights?  Doh.  Too much distraction.  It was time to save the baby from the dark and move onto the next step.Alister 0, Hat 1

Step 5 – Point and shoot.  After several minutes of trying to compete with the hat for Alister’s attention, he looked directly at me.  When that happens, do not hesitate.  Take. The. Photo.  Then, trick yourself into thinking you will take another round of  photos in the future when baby is in a better of mood.  Knowing deep down inside that day will never come.

Take the shot!

Step 6 – Get your Picasa on.  Time to make that amateur photo look less amateur-ish.  I do not claim to know what I’m talking about when it comes to photography, but I know that a little click of a button in Picasa took my photo from looking decent to another level.  Using the Cross Process function under the green tab in Picasa (see the lower left corner option?), provided a cross processed finish by softening the photo yet brightening the lights.  It is probably not the ideal effect I would have selected for a regular, framed photo, but it was perfect for the Christmas card feel I was trying to achieve.  Also, this feature helped create artificial lighting where I needed it.

With a little help from Picasa

Step 7 – Show off.  Once the photo shoot and touch-up are complete, I added a holiday phrase to the photo.  Then, the only thing left to do was find a photo card company, which seem to be everywhere these days, and order dozens upon dozens to share with family and friends.

Merry and Bright!

Here’s a look at the finished product!

Merry and Bright!

One Month, Two Month, Red Month, Blue Month – DIY Monthly Onesies

When I was pregnant with Alister, a friend told me about a baby shower gift her sister received that consisted of 12 onesies, one for each month of the first year.  A month or so later, I welcomed Alister into the world and as his first month came to a close, I thought back to how I loved the monthly onesie idea.

I started searching for monthly onesies to purchase online, and I stumbled across free printables allowing me to make the onesies myself.  Requiring only cutting and ironing skills, I thought I could tackle this project.  The printable allowed you to print the decals onto stickers, but I liked the look of the onesies from the blog behind the free printable, so I went ahead and purchased the following supplies to complete the iron-on onesies:

  • Iron-on printer paper – Staples
  • Color printer ink (only because it was running low on our printer) – Staples
  • 3-4 pack white onesies (NB, 3M, 6M, 9M) – Target

First, I printed the printable onto the iron-on printer paper.  The printable provided different colors as well as the mirror-image of the print to accommodate iron-on paper.  The printable is also set up to give you four months per page, so this only required three pages of iron-on paper.

Next, I cut around the circles of each image allowing a sliver of white paper to remain around the object.

Now for the ironing.  I placed a pillowcase on the ironing board and ran the hot iron over it for about 20 seconds.  Then I placed the new, clean white onesie on the pillowcase with the front side up and ran the hot iron over the onesie for about 20-30 seconds.  Finally, I grabbed the monthly circle and placed it face down on the front of the onesie, trying to place it in the chest/belly region.  I ran the iron over the paper, back and forth, for about 30-45 seconds.

When I was finished ironing, I took the hot onesie off the ironing board to expedite the cooling process.  About five to 10 minutes later, the onesie had cooled and I could peel the paper away, leaving a bright image behind.

Now it was time to dress my little buddy in his new onesie for his monthly photoshoot!  Here’s our little Zoolander at six months…

Two side notes:

(1) So far, I tend to wash the onesies before ironing on the image and Alister only wears the onesie for the photos.  That said, I do not know if the ink bleeds when you throw it into the wash after wearing it.  I’m sure there is a clever way to secure the ink so it does not bleed, but I have not tried it out myself.

(2) I had good intentions of ironing on all the months to the age-appropriate onesie at the same time.  But when his first month birthday rolled around and I found myself scrambling to pull this together that day, I changed my plans and opted to do one month at a time.  In the end, I found I liked this method as it provided flexibility if Alister was too small or too big for the estimated size.

Hello!

Well it’s been about five years since I was a regular to the blogosphere, and the focus of this blog versus my last attempt is representative of all that has taken place over those years. 

Five years ago, I was living with my best friend just blocks from the Capitol building in Washington DC, where we were committed to capturing and mocking the adventures that took place in our young, single, “professional” lives.  If you wanted to read about twenty-somethings who worked a lot, played a lot, and slept very little, that was the blog for you.

Fast forward five years.  No longer single.  No longer living with my best friend on the Hill.  No longer thatyoungBut still embarking on life’s adventures.  This time with my two best buds – my husband and my son.  My husband, Justin, and I have been married two and a half years now, almost to the day.  And this past April, we welcomed a baby boy, Alister, who has quickly won over our hearts as well as all our free time. 

Over my three months of maternity leave, as exhausting as it was, it occurred to me that I had not taken three months “off” since summer vacation in middle or high school.  Even then, there was some sort of structure with dance or swimming practice or a summer job.  Despite being at the mercy of my newborn son’s needs, I found myself looking for little things I could do to feel a sense of accomplishment in what otherwise started to resemble a scene out of Groundhog Day.  Don’t get me wrong, I love, love, LOVE being a mother and I wouldn’t change it for the world, but it does not change my predisposed type-A nature (or what used to be type-A before I was spontaneously “okay” with having spit-up down my shirt and the living room full of baby bouncers and rockers). 

Coincidently, over this same three-month period, I decided to explore the Pinterest craze that I had avoided until then.  This seemed to open my eyes to all the ways I can waste time projects I can realistically complete while simultaneously learning to parent.  I started small by resolving to cook dinner more.  I had all but ignored the notion of cooking in the previous months as I became a self-proclaimed expert of preparing and consuming things using one-hand, namely smoothies.  Then I started baking a little more, which I realize is not the ideal project if you ever want to see your pre-maternity clothes again.  The next thing I know, I am packing Alister up in the car and taking regular trips to Michaels to pick up a few things.  All the while, I hesitantly tell Justin about each time I want to start a “Pinterest project” as he shares the same sentiment as Honest Toddler – “Spend less than 15 minutes a day on Pinterest. Use 14 of those minutes searching for new cake recipes. Bake that cake.”

Anyway, I do not see this search for projects going away anytime soon – (Justin, just think of all the cookies you get to try along the way!) – and I hope to share my experiences in baking, crafting, and parenting as I learn while I go.  If anything else, I’m sure this will just be one more medium to sneak in photos of Alister.

– Emily

P.S. A little about the name of my blog.  It was a nickname my parents gave me when I was little and with, well, short pockets.  My older sister was “Short Pockets #1,” I was “Short Pockets #2,” and my younger sister was “Short Pockets #3.”  See a trend?  So clever. 

For whatever reason, maybe it was something about being the middle child, but mine was the only one that really stuck. Now that I have a “short pockets” of my own, I thought it would be an appropriate title for this blog.

R-O-C-K in the nursery – DIY Decoupage Rocking Horse

Soon after I returned to work from maternity leave, one of my friends was getting ready to become a mother for the first time as well.  She and her husband decided to wait to find out the gender at the birth.  Exciting for them, I’m sure.  But much more difficult when looking for a gender-neutral gift other than a yellow or green onesie.

Then it hit me – what if I (gasp!) made her a gift?  Brilliant!  That’s exactly what I’ll do.  Wait a minute, what do I know how to make?  I really started to kick myself for never learning to crochet, but I was determined I would think of the perfect idea.

I had recently received a handcrafted bench for Alister from two of my best friends and I thought I could find something similar to craft for my friend.  So off to Michaels I went to find an unfinished bench or toychest I could paint and call it a day.  Well, as usual, my trip did not go exactly as planned.  Instead of finding the perfect bench or toy chest, I stumbled upon another child-friendly item.  A rocking horse!  You know what I’m talking about, the ones you breeze past when heading directly to pick up a frame at Michaels?  Yes, I suddenly became overwhelmed with the idea that every small child entering this world needed a rocking horse.  And not just any ordinary rocking horse.  A decoupaged rocking horse.

So I took the two remaining rocking horses on the shelf and began inspecting them as though they were fine gems.  In hindsight, I probably could have flipped a coin, but I opted for what I assumed would require slightly less sanding.

Now that I had my rocking horse picked out, there were only a few remaining supplies I needed to pick up (I had recently learned they were going with a safari-themed nursery in neutrals, so I had something to work with):

  • Unpainted, wooden rocking horse
  • Sandpaper
  • Acrylic paint – I played it safe with beige to complement the neutral-colored nursery
  • Mod Podge
  • Sponge brush
  • Scrapbook paper – I picked out a few yellow and green pattern pieces along with a single safari page I luckily stumbled upon
  • Scissors
  • Spray sealant – I used a non-toxic polyurethane

Now that I had my presumed supplies, I decided to research online in hopes of seeing a tutorial or at least a finished product.  As luck should have it, I stumbled upon Flip Flops All Year where she completed the exact idea for her niece.

After seeing the finished product and what appeared to be a relatively simple process, I took the horse and the sand paper and got to work.  I did not spend a lot of time sanding, just did a good once-over job, spending more time where there were obvious splinters and imperfections in the wood.

Next, I took out my sponge brush and applied two coats of the tan acrylic paint all over the horse, allowing it to dry whatever the recommended amount of time was for acrylic paint.  Who am I kidding?  Once I was done with one coat, I started the second to keep the process moving.

Here is a look after two coats of paint on the sanded, raw wood:

I decided to wait longer after applying the second coat of paint as the next step involved paper and glue.   This next step was probably my least fun part.  I did not have a very calculated process when it came to drawing and cutting out the shapes of scrapbook paper to fit the horse.  Instead, I took a piece of paper, traced the rough outline of the horse’s shape where I intended to glue it, and cut around it.  Then if it did not fit the shape when I was finished cutting, I continued making minor adjustments to the shape by eye-balling it until it was good to go.  I had a rough idea of how I wanted to lay out the scrapbook paper and coordinate the patterns across the horse, but it was really a trial-and-error approach that worked best for me.

After I cut out the pieces of scrapbook paper, I began the eagerly anticipated decoupage stage!  I know you can opt to apply Mod Podge directly to the horse and lay your paper down, but I had more success by applying Mod Podge to the backside of the scrapbook cutout and pressing it to the appropriate area on the horse.  Then I brushed a thin layer of Mod Podge over the top of each piece of paper.

If I learned anything about the decoupage rocking horse process, it is this – Less.  Is.  More.  Initially, I covered nearly every piece of the horse with different patterns and color of paper.  GAWDY!  I nearly scrapped the entire project and made an emergency run to Target to pick up the yellow or green onesies I tried to avoid in the first place.  Instead, I quickly pulled off the scrapbook paper that seemed excessive before they fully dried, sanded down the areas to remove some of the paper that already dried, and repainted the “fixed” areas.  It may not have been the world’s best cover up job, but it no longer required an immediate trip to the garbage.

Once the horse had been painted and decoupaged, I had reached the final step – time to seal the paint and paper with a topcoat to ensure years of a rockin’ good time.  Pun intended. Just a couple minutes of spraying a non-toxic polyurethane over the entire horse (outdoors!) and I had finished my last step.

The beauty of applying paper directly to your gift. No need for wrapping paper! Simply tie a bow around it.

I was pleasantly surprised with this entire process not to mention the finished product.  And when I gave it to my friend and she started to tear up, I knew it was worth the effort. Just an aside, she recently sent me a photo of her (now) two-month old daughter trying out the rocking horse for the first time.  It was definitely worth it.

MY LIMBO REALITY

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Simple Scratch Cooking

A Guide to Easy, Everyday Meals

wedding withdrawal

paper crafts & baked goods

The Sweet Life

baking, Boston, and the pursuit of happiness

The Honest Toddler

Juice. Crackers. TV.