MonthMarch 2013

Random Wall Stickers

When it came time to decorate my daughter’s room, I decided to go the easy route with vinyl stickers. (Ha, easy route!) I thought I’d make a random circle pattern border around the room. Being a designer, I knew it was important to “plan” my randomness. So I used painter’s tape to give myself an area to fill in with the circles. I used the bottom edge of the window as the line for the bottom and the width of the largest circles for the height. I cut the stickers all apart while still on the paper to layout my border. The I laid it all out with tape before I stuck them down. I spaced the large circles around the room and then back filled with the medium size circles. I used the smallest to make sure I was getting a good mix of colors. Planning was good because I found I needed twice as many stickers as I thought to get the effect I wanted. After I ordered the second bunch, I waited to stick the first ones in case the colors varied. Then I mixed the first bunch and second, just to make sure. (I’ve sure run into a lot of variations in print runs.) Luckily, they matched great!

Like all projects, I make mistakes … and learn something new: Vinyl stickers work best on matte paint. I had painted one wall a semi-gloss pink (because the hubby could only handle that much pink). The stickers were much harder to get stuck on that wall. (Yeah, if I’d read the fine print first …)

(Side note: To select the pink paint for the wall, I waited until my vinyl stickers arrived. Then I took the lighter pink sticker color and found a paint color that looked like a lighter shade of that same pink.)

I’m pleased with how it turned out. Though I’m waiting for the day I find my toddler in her crib with a vinyl circle in her hands! Ha!

My designer takeaway: Sometimes to be random takes a lot of planning.

Hosting a Baby “Sprinkle”

I recently hosted a baby shower, correction a “Sprinkle”, for a friend expecting her third. It was an excuse to have some design fun. In looking for a theme, she showed me the bedding she selected. It was an awesome pattern, lots of options. It had flowers and butterflies, patterns, light and dark pink, green, blue and brown. It was fabulous! So, I traced a section of it in illustrator. We used it to make invitations, thank you cards, game cards, and signs.

As the country is still having a helium shortage, I decided I wanted to decorate with those wonderful tissue paper balls I keep seeing. In a search online to purchase them, I found several tutorials for making them. Of course, I had to try! They were easy and fun to make! I picked up some dollar store packages of tissue with several different colors. I folded them, wrapped wire around the middle (making a loop with the ends to hang them), trimmed then tissue paper ends, and fluffed them. In the end, I made ten in various shades of pink, yellow, green and white. I made one large group and one small group of three. It instantly made the room feel festive. (Now, I’m saving them for another shower, and they’re hanging in my laundry area — the most exciting that area has ever been!)

In searching for games for this shower, I decided that since this is the third baby, we need some new shower games. Also, I knew that we’d have several older children present, and I wanted things that they might think were fun (or at least not gross). I asked around and dug deep online. My rule is three games for a shower/party. Here is what I selected:

Baby Relay: In this game, I made everyone divide into groups of three. I gave each group a baby doll, a cloth diaper, doll clothes and a blanket. The first person had to diaper the baby, the second had to dress the baby, and the third had to swaddle the baby. This was the first game we did because I wanted to get people interacting. It was fun and good for some laughs!

Baby Song Title: For this game, I selected ten songs with the word “baby” in the title (a mix of oldies, country, and hip hop). Guests had to listen to a bit of the song and guess the title. I was really worried that this would be too easy, but it was challenging enough. And it was pretty easy to set up. There are websites that list songs with “baby” in the title. I just used the song samples from, opened each song in a different tab before the party, and played each sample during the game. It worked really well, and I didn’t have to buy anything.

Baby Gift Bingo: While this one is not new, I think it’s a great way to keep guests interested while opening gifts. You give everyone a blank bingo card. They have to fill it out with things that they think the mom-to-be will get. As the mom opens the gifts, they cross things off until they get a Bingo. A nice thing that happened was that I had several prizes left. We played almost through the whole gift opening!

Other things we did:
– I made matching thank you notes for the new mom, and we had everyone address their own thank you envelope.
– I also set out some Sharpies and new born diapers. I told guests to leave the parents a note on a diaper for the first days of changing their new daughter. I hope it makes them smile in the wee hours of the morning.
– I used a “BABY” pretzel rod mold to make dipped pretzels, which I bagged and tagged as a thank you for guests as they left.

My designer takeaway: I hope that the more I do of something the better I get — using what worked previously and finding something new to keep it fresh.

Homemade Advent Calendar

This was a simple little project that my hubby and I did for our son. I heard about the idea on a podcast I listen to a few years ago, and I’ve seen similar things on Pinterest. This was one of those projects where I had big intentions, but when time ran short, it became super simple and was still a big hit. The concept is to turn a mini muffin pan into an advent calendar. It has the needed 24 spots, and conveniently we already had one. We decided to fill our son’s advent calendar with Legos. We have a big stash that we scored at a garage sale, and we’re slowly doling them out to him. My hubby gets big props for his part in the calendar. He spent a good amount of time selecting pieces that A) could fit together to make something cool, and B) fit in the muffin cups. This is truly the part that my son cared about.

My intentions for covering the muffin cups were to buy some magnetic sheets of paper, print out numbers and a background pattern, and trim them with my circle cutter. What actually came to be (the last night of November), was that I cut squares of scrapbook paper, wrote numbers on them, folded back a corner for easy removal, and stuck them to the pan with double-sided tape. My son loved it, and it was even a great lesson to practice counting.

My designer takeaway: Remember that the design isn’t the most important element. The design compliments the purpose, the function and, in this case, the timing. Timing is an important element of design. If it’s not ready when you need it, it doesn’t matter how great it looks.

Expanding My Knitting Knowledge

I started knitting the winter after I graduated with my master’s degree, while my hubby was still working on his MS. I was used to being insanely busy, but suddenly I had too much time on my hands. I learned with a friend from a kind lady at a church in the next town. She taught a group of us for free, and even shared her needles and yarn with us. I got hooked because it’s an easy activity to start and stop. It’s easy to do in the car, and, depending on the pattern, I can even do it while watching TV (and feel like less of a bum). I’ve slowly been learning different aspects, potholders to scarves, hats and gloves, blankets to socks… But this year, I have really stepped it up. I’m taking a “Feed Your Creativity” class by Kollage Yarns at a local shop. It’s really pushing me. I’ve done cables for the first time (cake — I can’t believe it took me so long), I’m reading all sorts of patterns (including charts), and I’m making clothing (a big step for me).

I’m really glad that I’m being pushed, but I can’t say that I love all the projects or yarns that we’re using. In the end, I hope to be more confident when I want to make something on my own. I hope to look at a pattern and think “I can do that.”

My designer takeway: Sometimes it’s more about the learning process than the final product.

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