DIY Kid’s Swimsuit Alteration: No More Falling Straps!

IMAG0420_1So, I’m not sure what clothing manufacturers are thinking, but McKenzie’s straps always fall off her shoulders: tank tops, swimsuits, dresses, etc. She doesn’t have super-broad shoulders, but I think she’s a pretty normal-sized kid. Am I alone here? Either way, I don’t like it. I prefer to keep my 4-year-old’s chest completely covered, thank you very much.

Anyway, as I mentioned in this post, we’ve been going to the YMCA lately for swimming. Last summer, I had actually tied dental floss in the middle to keep her straps from falling off (see above)! I was sick of it. Sooooo, today I decided to alter the shoulder straps (ie: cut & re-sewed them…just a needle & thread). I am SO pleased with the end-result. They stay perfectly and don’t fall off…it worked so well that I had to share!

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The “after.” The straps were originally two inches out to either side.

In the future maybe I’ll just look for halter swim suits, but if you have the same problem with your daughter’s clothes, I highly recommend this simple fix. =)

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“Masking Tape Racetrack” & Some Other Things

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McKenzie doesn’t have school (4K) on Mondays, and I can never figure out what to do during the day. The Children’s Museum is closed on Mondays. It’s snowy and crappy outside. What do I DO? Urgh. I’ve been taking her to the mall (across the street) to play on the kiddie playground inside. It feels so…trashy. Anyway, I remembered seeing this idea on Pinterest (don’t know where), and decided to give it a shot. The “Masking Tape Racetrack” was a hit! Hours of entertainment with her MatchBox cars. Tomorrow we’re going to build a town with her wooden blocks and set up some train tracks nearby. She can entertain herself with imagination play for hours. =) *Note: I used regular masking tape & a black Sharpie marker…I triple checked and it did NOT bleed through. And it’s super easy to peel off!*

6 Other Things in My Day:

  1. A moment of nervousness: We had Part I of our “First Trimester Screen” for Baby #2 this morning. Just some blood-work and informational stuff. It made me nervous though. Just thinking something could be wrong with the baby. Ya know? When I was pregnant with McKenzie, one of the blood tests came back showing a higher risk for Down Syndrome (her odds were 1/180…which was very high for being age 21 at the time). We opted not to have the CVS or Amniocentesis done with her, but I was nervous the whole time. The first thing I asked when she was born was, “Is she okay?” Of course, she was fine. But if one of the tests is flagged this time around, I might opt for the CVS or Amnio simply to have the peace of mind. Hopefully it’s a non-issue.
  2. A moment of disappointment: At the aforementioned appointment, they dashed my hopes of finding out the sex at the ultrasound on March 7th. BOO! I hear there’s a private ultrasound center that will do it for like $65, so maybe it’s worth it? I know it’s still early, but I really want to know before Jon leaves (if we can). Did anyone have accurate results early? =/
  3. A moment of hilariousness: Today we saw a homeless man walking down the road while we were driving by our local grocery store, and McKenzie said, “Look Momma, I think it’s a ZOMBIE!” Oh. My. God. I laughed SO HARD! [[She was dead serious though…so we had a long talk about homelessness, mental health, and addiction. And yes, I really did that with my 4-year-old (with age-appropriate dialogue, of course). I firmly believe honesty is the best policy, and sheltering her will only make her naïve. It was an excellent “teachable moment” and I don’t think it’s ever to early to start reinforcing the dangers of drugs and alcohol. She’s gonna be a realist!]]
  4. A moment of elation: Vincenzo is GONE! Hellz-to-the-YEAH! I confirmed with property management that his sister removed him from the premises on Saturday. It’s so much quieter already. And his name is gone from the mailbox and everything! Woo! It made me a little giddy. ;)
  5. An update:  Cali’s tail is completely healed! The tip is growing hair, and it almost looks normal again…even though half is shaved. (That’s what she said! Haha.) Anyhow, it doesn’t look too weird either…I guess her tail was super-long, because two inches is barely noticeable. =)
  6. A future post: I know it’s long overdue, but my next post will be about my awesome new stroller, although I don’t physically have it in my possession yet. And don’t worry, I didn’t pay full price…not even close. I’ll let ya know how I pulled that off, too. ;) And I’ll explain my emotionally-motivated rationale for choosing this particular stroller in the first place (other than the fact it’s the Rolls Royce of strollers). Have a great week, everyone!

What’s in a background?

My photography business has been (understandably) slower in the winter, so it’s wayyyy fun to get out and play around with McKenzie & my camera. I miss it! I posted these photos about making a wall-collage with the same pose for every season, which I think is a ridiculously fun idea. Funny thing is, I took the winter photo on the 2nd floor deck of our condo…who would’ve thought?

Surely if you are an experienced portrait photographer (or a photographer in general) you understand the importance of “framing,” but I’m just posting this to illustrate that backgrounds don’t have to be fancy! I only use natural light, meaning I don’t even have a studio. So be creative! Here’s an example:

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And since I’m missing my photography, here is another pretty winter one that I took on our snow day…this tree actually broke in half from the weight of the snow the night after I took this photo. IMG_0672 copy

Cuteness for Every Season

I’ve been planning a seasonal collage of McKenzie for our hallway, and I’ve got 3 out of 4 photos now! I took the winter one today since we have some fresh snow. I think it’s so fun! Maybe I’ll start doing 1 every month so I can make a calendar next year. Just thought I’d share…I can’t wait to order the 8×10’s so her adorableness can adorn our hallway. It will be super-easy to replace one every 3 or 4 months, nothing too crazy. =) Any ideas for spring? I was thinking something with Tulips maybe…? Or maybe in a puddle? I’m sorta drawing a blank…

McKenzieCollageOh. And FYI: Netflix currently has Pocahontas, The Aristocats, and Fox & the Hound! Some of my favorite kids movies (thanks for the tip Jesse)! I LOVE the songs in Pocahontas.

DIY Christmas Tree Preservative

christmastreeThere is something to be said about real trees…they’re unbeatable if you ask me. First, there’s the search for the perfect tree. Then, the decorating. And the smell…there’s just no comparison!

Unfortunately, there’s always the vacuuming. Urgh. BUT with the help of a simple recipe I found for a DIY Tree Preservative, you can extend the life & health of your tree by several weeks! It’s pretty easy, and with 3 simple ingredients (that you probably already have in your home) you can have it ready in no time. Ultimately, it will be wayyy cheaper than buying the store-bought kind. And for me, anything that minimizes vacuuming is a must.

You’ll need:

  • 1 quart warm water
  • ½ cup light corn syrup (nutrients)
  • 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach (prevents fungal & bacterial growth)

Instructions:

  • Simply mix the 3 ingredients and top-off your tree daily! It has definitely helped our tree so far. I highly recommend it!

Also, a special thank you to anyone who has pinned my Elf on the Shelf Mod-Tutuorial! And please be sure to “like” Life So Lovely on Facebook to receive updates of new posts. =)

“Elf on the Shelf” Mod in 6 Easy Steps

IMG_0318I was so excited to run out and get “Elf on the Shelf” this year, I knew McKenzie would love it. At $29.99 it was a little overpriced if you ask me…but I figured we will use it for several years, so I considered it an investment. We named him Edwin “Eddie” the Elf.

Initially, I was a little surprised that he wasn’t more pose-able…he kept falling off the shelves I would put him on, so I googled a quick solution: Elf on the Shelf Hack. You simply add some wires, velcro, and magnets! I ran to Michael’s craft store and bought the supplies right away. After the modifications, he can now bend, hang, and climb to his heart’s desire! And I even gave him little feet, ’cause I though he looked a little weird with stick legs. Anyhow…

You’ll need:

  • White velcro
  • 16 gauge wire (I found it at Michael’s in the bead aisle)
  • Magnets
  • Needle & white/red thread
  • Glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Pliers/wire cutter
  • Stitch ripper (I don’t have one, so I used a pin to pull out the stitches, then a scissors to cut them free)IMG_0288IMG_0272

Steps:

  1. Step 1: First, snip the thread connecting the hands. Then, gently rip 2 stitches from the end of your Elf’s hands…or enough to fit the wire. This was pretty easy and I didn’t have any issues. Start heating your glue gun for the velcro in Step 5.
  2. Step 2: Measure the wire to the size of his arm, adding about an inch so you can curl the wire ends over (you don’t want it to poke through!). Then measure another piece of equally sized wire and wind them together. This makes him/her stronger.IMG_0305IMG_0301
  3. Step 3: Fold the ends of the wire to the exact length of the arms, and insert the wire into your Elf’s arm. Be sure to get it all the way to the end. There are circular tubes in the arm…try to get the wire to go through them. It was tricky, but I managed after persistent wiggling. Then sew him up! (Be sure to use matching thread, and use whatever stitch you think looks best.)
  4. Step 4: Repeat steps 1-3 with other arm & then the legs.IMG_0307IMG_0308
  5. Step 5: Next, you will add velcro to the bottom sides of your Elf’s hands. First, cut the pieces to size and use your glue gun to secure the velcro on both hands. This will make the elf easier to hang on things! (Be sure to use the different sides of velcro so they stick.) The velcro option is great…you can use it to have him display clever little notes! The possibilities are endless.IMG_0309
  6. Step 6: Get your magnets ready and cut velcro to size. Again, be sure to use opposite types of velcro. Also, ensure you are not using the sides of the magnets that stick together. I love the magnet option, because now he can “chill” on the refrigerator (get it? haha), but they’re still removable. That’s it! You’re done!IMG_0313

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    Now he has feet!

This project was super-simple. I have very little sewing experience, but I pulled it off just fine! Feel free to share with me if you do the project too, I can’t wait to see how yours will turn out! What a fun little tradition “Eddie” will be. =) Pin away, y’all! And be sure to “like” Life So Lovely on Facebook to receive updates of new posts in your newsfeed. ;) Oh, and I also did a pretty rad tutorial for a DIY Christmas Tree Preservative, or if you have younger kids check out my post on 10 Awesome Holiday Gift Ideas for Preschoolers/Kindergarteners.

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How to create a custom Facebook “cover photo.”

In my last post, I mentioned how I create custom Facebook “cover photos” for my photography clients. I’m going to give you the step-by-step that I use in Adobe Photoshop (CS5) if you’d like to create one for yourself! Here’s how:

  • Step 1: Find 4 vertically-oriented photos (or 1 horizontal, 2 vertical) that you feel reflect you, your family, or your interests!
  • Step 2: Open Adobe Photoshop. To begin, go to FILE>NEW.
  • Step 3: Name your new project, and set the width to 851 pixels, height to 315 pixels, and the resolution to 300 pixels/inch.
  • Step 4: Now you’re ready to insert the photos! FILE>PLACE. Hit enter (return) to place the photo. Repeat with the other 3 photos, and arrange as desired.
  • Step 5: If the photos don’t perfectly fill the new project, adjust some of the photos to make them wider. Do this by going to EDIT>FREE TRANSFORM. Transform 2 photos so it doesn’t distort the images too much. Once you have the photos properly placed and inserted, make sure you like how it looks! You’re done!
  • Step 6: FILE>SAVE AS…Now save wherever you want! Just be sure to save the format as .jpeg. Upload as your new FB Cover Photo, and voila! You’re done…wasn’t that easy?! Let me know how it works, or if you have any questions! =)

Starting a New Family Tradition & An Easy Pumpkin Seed Recipe

Can you believe McKenzie is four and we’ve never carved pumpkins? We’ve done the whole pumpkin-picking-&-hayride-on-a-farm thing, but we’ve never actually gotten around to carving the pumpkins…until now. Didn’t they turn out cute?

2012 Pumpkins: Daddy, Momma, McKenzie

So our new tradition is carving pumpkins while watching Hocus Pocus (albeit, it’s a little above McKenzie’s age group right now). Regardless, we had a blast. I think traditions make holidays so much more fun, don’t you? Do you have any fun traditions for Halloween?

Anyhow, of course we saved all the seeds and baked them…what a treat! If you don’t know the recipe:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Boil the pumpkin seeds with 1 tsp salt for 10 min.
  3. Spread seeds over a greased baking sheet and salt generously.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes (I like mine crispy.)

They were SO good…it tasted like popcorn…YUM. And it’s healthy too! Lots of fiber. ;)

DIY Chalkboard Tutorial

A fellow photographer (Megan at Megan Ramminger Photography) used some chalkboards in a recent photoshoot…and it turned out so cute! So of course I had to give it a try…after all, “imitation is the ultimate form of flattery.” Or so they say.

Anyway, I can’t believe how incredibly simple and inexpensive this project was! For around $20 (and that’s very conservative) I was able to make 5 chalkboards (3 are pictured)…and I would have made more if I had more frames! There was plenty of chalkboard paint left. Here are the materials & steps:

MATERIALS: 

  • Wooden picture frames (I found these at Goodwill for $1.99 each)
  • Chalkboard paint (I got mine at Home Depot, $9.79)
  • Newspaper (to avoid a mess!)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Hammer
  • Nails (and maybe a pliers & screwdriver to remove staples from the frames.)

Step-by-step:

  1. Open backing and remove photos or pictures from frames. The ones pictured had staples in them, so I used a flat screwdriver to pry them up and pliers to get them out. Keep cardboard backing for later use.
  2. Carefully take out glass and set it on the newspaper…start painting the glass! Be sure you have adequate ventilation.
  3. Do 3 coats, let dry completely between coats.
  4. Once dry, place glass back in the frames, followed by the cardboard, and reattach backing. If the previous photo was held in by staples, use 4 small nails and hammer in securely (see photo below). Be careful, thinner frames might crack, so be very gentle!
  5. And you’re done! According to the paint can, let the paint set for 3 days and then your new chalkboard is ready! Condition the surface of the chalkboard before use by rubbing the entire surface with the side of a piece of chalk. This will provide the best erasability.

I plan on using these chalkboards for my photography business, but the possibilities are endless! I also made one for McKenzie’s room, which is larger. I plan on making another one for our kitchen, too! Do you have any other ideas for a chalkboard? Gook luck!

Shop Smarter, Not Harder: Barbies on a Budget

McKenzie is currently on a Barbie kick. Which is completely fine…but who knew those things are so dang expensive?! It’s at least $10 for one. In order to save a little dough, I went to our local Goodwill to check out what they available. And I lucked out! Over the course of a couple weeks, I was able to find enough Barbies for great imagination play. And at only $1.99 each, they definitely didn’t break the bank. Since she’s only 4-years-old, McKenzie could care less if it’s thrifted…a new toy is a new toy!

Some of the Barbies were naked, so we went to Wal-Mart and got them some new clothes ($3.27/each)…but most of them came with an outfit. So for between $1.99-$5/each she has a new barbie clan. We even lucked out and found a Barbie car for $1.99!

Also, in order to keep them looking nice and prevent their hair from getting tangled, I always put their hair in ponytails right away. Everything pictured cost about $25 (including the new clothes), which is at least 50% off what we would’ve spent if we bought ‘em new. If you don’t have a big selection at your local thrift store, always check Craigslist and eBay! You never know what you’ll find.

Here’s another example, too: McKenzie had been asking for a guitar for weeks and I found this one at Goodwill for $1.99! And hey, you won’t feel bad if your kid(s) wrecks it, since you got such a great deal. =)