Make a Family Photo Board Book

How to easily make a children's board book- perfect for learning family names!Reading is kind of a big deal at our house, but as much as we value books, we love family most of all! I remember seeing this family photo board book idea on A Cup of Jo and thinking I would love to try making something like that for our kiddo. It turned out to be a great project that Lucy just loves! We enjoy looking at each page and watching her point at the faces when we call out the names. Pretty soon she'll be spelling the names, and then you know what comes next.... Ivy League college applications!

After a couple of tries, I figured out a quick and easy way to make this board book using common crafting tools and supplies. It looks pretty nice, and I think it'll hold up well too! Check out the simple instructions below.

How to easily make a children's board book- perfect for learning family names!Supplies:
-chipboard
-5" x 5" photos & cover images printed onto matte/luster photo paper (I used Canon luster photo paper.)
-spray mount (permanent)
-X-acto blade replacements
-duct tape or clear packaging tape

Tools:
-cutting mat
-steel ruler
-X-Acto blade

How to easily make a children's board book- perfect for learning family names!Step One: Cut 5" x 5" pieces of chipboard. It's important that each size is exact, or your final pages will be a little wonky. But if you don't mind the wonkiness, then I don't mind, and I doubt your toddler will mind either. Not all people need to be perfectionists!

Step Two: Cut your photos to the same size as your chipboard squares— 5" x 5". I printed two 5" x 5" photos with names on them onto each sheet of photo paper, and then trimmed them down to their exact size.

If you don't have a printer at home, you can take your 8.5" x 11" files to a copy store, or go to a drug store to get 5" x 7" photos printed, and then cut them down to size when you get home. It is important that your paper be photo quality though, so it can hold up to being handled frequently. Also— if you don't have software to add names to the photos, you can use a Sharpie paint pen to add white or black writing on the photos.

How to easily make a children's board book- perfect for learning family names!Step Three: Use duct tape or packaging tape* to connect each page together. Leave a tiny bit of space between each page for the thickness of the photos that you'll adhere to them. Carefully trim away the excess tape with an X-Acto blade.

*For the first book I made, I used duct tape for this step, but I wasn't happy with how thick the tape was, so for the second book, I used clear packaging tape and found I liked how it turned out much better.

How to easily make a children's board book- perfect for learning family names!At this point, check to make sure you have enough chipboard pages for each photo you plan to put inside the book. Don't forget to add photos of family pets!

How to easily make a children's board book- perfect for learning family names!Step Four: Arrange your photos onto a clean, disposable surface* and spray with an even coat of adhesive. Make sure the back of each photo is evenly coated (all the way to the edges), but try not to use too much adhesive or it will build up under the paper and goop will ooze out the sides of the page.

Carefully match up the corners of your photo to the corners of the chipboard piece it's going on. Starting at the outer edge of the paper, smooth the paper onto the chipboard with the back of your hand. For aesthetic purposes, I think it's more important that the outer edges of the photos match up with the chipboard than for the inner edges to meet up. If you cut them perfectly to size, it won't matter– it'll be a perfect fit!

*Do not lay new photos onto a backdrop that has already been used, or it will get adhesive onto the front of your photos.

How to easily make a children's board book- perfect for learning family names!Step Five: Once all of the pages have been filled with photos, it's time to add the book's binding tape. I used white duct tape for this because it matches the background of the cover photo I used. Simply smooth the tape onto the front cover alongside the binding, then smooth it onto the edge of the binding, and then onto the back of the book. Trim away the excess tape.

How to easily make a children's board book- perfect for learning family names!Step Six: Spray adhesive onto the back of the cover photos just as you did the inside photos, and put them in place, smoothing from the outside in.

Note about adhesive: When I first attempted this project, I tried using Mod Podge to affix each image to the chipboard, but it was wrinkling my photos and warping the chipboard— not to mention it took forever waiting for each spread to dry before continuing to the next one! I considered using an ATG gun (basically just double-sided tape), glue dots, or rubber cement, but in the end, spray adhesive won out because of it's durability. Spray mount, though less forgiving when placing each image, worked like a dream! I know from past experience with Scotch's Super 77 Spray Adhesive that it holds very well over time when the appropriate amount is used. (Do not— I repeat DO NOT cut corners when it comes to buying quality spray adhesive! It's not worth it!) The luster finish of the photo paper I used protects the images from sticky hands and will hopefully last for a long time!

How to easily make a children's board book- perfect for learning family names!How to easily make a children's board book- perfect for learning family names!Once I figured out the best method to use for making this board book, it was really easy and surprisingly quick! Taking the time to accurately cut each page was the bulk of the work involved, but it goes much better when you frequently change your X-Acto blade. Cutting chipboard will dull a blade pretty quickly.

How to easily make a children's board book- perfect for learning family names!How to easily make a children's board book- perfect for learning family names!How to easily make a children's board book- perfect for learning family names!How to easily make a children's board book- perfect for learning family names!This board book was a fun little project, and simple enough that I know I will do it again soon. I think the next book I make will include photos of Lucy's favorite places and favorite things. She'll be spelling I-C-E--C-R-E-A-M in no time! -Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Stella and Valentine of the Signature Collection and Pearl from the Fresh Collection.

Pinocchio Themed Family Costume

Pinocchio Family Costume (click through for tutorial
In keeping with our yearly Halloween tradition, I've spent the last few weeks brainstorming a solid theme for our family costumes. After feeling entirely proud and satisfied with my picks over the last two years, finding a strong theme ended up being quite challenging! Pinocchio won my heart this year, and I'm happy to report that everyone in the family was just as excited as years past! Let me introduce you to the Blue Fairy, Figaro the cat, little Pinocchio, and Geppetto.  :)

Darling Pinocchio costumeLet's get down to the DIY, starting with our star: Pinocchio. This costume was very simple to throw together. Here's what you will need:

DIY Pinocchio CostumePinocchio Shorts: I started with some red leggings and cut the legs off. I hemmed the cut part (or you can leave it raw if you want, it won't really fray). I bought some red ribbon for the suspender straps and sewed that on, and then measured Poesy's shoulders to properly place the buttons. The last detail was adding the trim to the sides of the shorts. I glued those on with Tacky Glue and sewed the top and bottom so the trim would be extra secure. 

Collar for DIY Pinocchio CostumePinocchio Collar: For the collar, I measured Poesy's neck and cut a collar shape from felt. I cut two rectangles of blue fabric, sewed them both into tubes, and then attached them to each side of the collar ends. I did it this way because I knew there would be many layers along her neck and shoulders, so I was trying to keep the costume as comfy as possible. The very last step was cutting a simple vest from felt. For costumes, you really can't beat the simplicity of felt!

Blue fairy costume (Pinocchio)The Blue Fairy costume was simpler than expected. I looked around for an existing dress that I could just alter, but no dice on short notice. The next step was to find the perfect fabric, and you can't really beat shimmery baby blue crushed velvet! Here are the steps for the dress: 

DIY Fairy Costume
Blue Fairy Costume tutorial
Blue Fairy Dress (top): The first step to creating this dress is to pick an existing dress that fits well. Trace around the top portion of the dress (plus 1/2" all the way around for hemming purposes). Sew the bodice and measure the armholes. Measure out your sleeves to fit the armholes and pin in place. Stitch those in place with your machine (or by hand sewing), and flip rightside out. 

Blue Fairy Dress (bottom): To finish out the bottom, trace around the bottom of your existing dress (plus 1/2" all the way down) with your added inches for length. Stitch the sides up with your sewing machine and finish the waist using the same method as this tutorial.

I kept the top portion and the bottom portion unattached and simply tucked the top into the skirt. It seemed to work out nicely.

Figaro the CatLast but not least, the cat costume! Here's how I made the Figaro top: 

DIY Cat JacketFigaro the Cat Jacket (front): The simplest way I found to create a pattern for a fur jacket like this is to fold your fabric in half and have the person who will be wearing it just lay down on the fur. Trace around the person (arms and all) and cut out the shape. Stitch up the outside and inside of the arms, shoulders, and sides. Add a little white fur embellishment to the middle.

DIY Cat Costume (back)Figaro the Cat Jacket (back): After you get the general shape stitched up, cut straight down the middle of the back. Add ties (as shown above) to the back for a simple way to open and close the jacket.

The cat ears are from this tutorial

Love this-- Pinocchio and the Blue Fairy (click through for costume tutorials)So precious-- Figaro and PinocchioLove this Pinocchio themed family costume


Little Pinocchio
Magical family costume
Pinocchio!Love this-- Pinocchio and the blue fairyPinocchio family costume-- so cute!

Figaro and Pinocchio-- family costume idea
This Pinocchio themed family costume is the best!I truly love homemade costumes and this one might be stealing the slot for most favorite so far. Piecing together things from your closet along with handmade items can be so whimsical! I definitely can't wait to wear these to a Halloween party this year.

You can check out our family costumes from last year and the year before right here and here! xo. Katie

Credits // Author: Katie Shelton. Photography: Janae Hardy and Katie Shelton. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

Try This: Chocolate (Monster) Bowls

Monster chocolate bowls!I have been wanting to try out the whole chocolate-bowls-made-by-balloons thing for a while now. I read through a few different articles on it (see here and here or just type "chocolate bowls" into Pinterest and see what you get). And with Halloween coming up, I thought this would be a perfect time. There's already too much sugar floating around my life as is, so why not add a little more?

Chocolate bowlsI added green food dye to white chocolate, and then added candy eyes to create "monster" chocolate bowls. Although, I think they also kind of look like Kermit the Frog too. :)

Also, I can't add googly eyes to something without thinking of that Christopher Walken SNL sketch. Have you seen that? It makes me laugh. Every. Time.

Balloons and eyeballsSupplies:
-balloons
-candy eyes
-11 oz white chocolate chips
-1 tablespoon oil
-1/2 teaspoon green food dye

This probably goes without saying, but if you are allergic to latex or balloons, do not try this. That could be very hazardous to your health. Or if you're allergic to googly eyes, again, not a great treat for you. 

Prepping for chocolate bowlsFirst blow up the balloons. Keep them on the small side. Find a microwave safe bowl that the balloons fit in well. This is what you'll melt the chocolate in.

Super easy halloween decorMelt the chocolate, oil, and food dye in the microwave on high for 30 seconds. Then give it a stir. Then microwave again for 30 seconds, and stir. Repeat until it's melted. This ensures that you won't overcook the chocolate.

Dip the balloon in the melted chocolate. I let my chocolate cool for about a minute before trying this, and I didn't have any balloons pop. I noticed that the chocolate didn't cover the balloons as much as I would have liked, so I used a spoon to smooth it along the bottom of the balloon. After dipping, place the chocolate-covered balloon on a sheet of wax paper, and add googly eyes.

How to make chocolate bowls Half the tutorials I read on these recommended you use non-stick cooking spray, while others didn't mention it at all. So I tried spraying two of the four balloons I dipped. I lightly sprayed the bottom with non-stick cooking spray before dipping into the chocolate. 

I found that using the non-stick spray made it harder for the chocolate to stick to the balloon, and it didn't peel off any better after the chocolate set than the balloons without non-stick spray. So, my verdict is skip the spray. You don't need it.

Remove the balloonWith the amount of chocolate I melted, I probably could have dipped five balloons total. The bowls turned out to be around the size of a standard cereal bowl. So, if you use water balloons (as opposed to regular balloons like I used), you could probably make more than five with this amount of chocolate.

Once the chocolate set and felt hard to the touch (about 3 hours left out at room temperature), I gently pulled the top of the balloons between two fingers and used scissors to snip a small hole. I then let the air out slowly, allowing the balloon to gently pull away from the edges. 

It was a cold day when I made these, so my chocolate set pretty easily. If you find that your chocolate isn't setting, you can pop these in the refrigerator or freezer for a while. It's good to make them on wax paper or a cookie sheet so you can easily move them if needed.

How to make chocolate bowls"It's not easy being green..."

Easy chocolate bowlsYou can fill these with candy or ice cream. Serve your sugar in more sugar. :) These are certainly decadent but really fun to make. Glad I gave them a try. Thanks for letting me share! xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

DIY Colorful Epoxy-Topped Desk

Office desk w: color infused epoxy top (click for more details)     A few months ago, we all moved from our community table to upstairs (we posted about it here and here), which created a need for more office furniture. Elsie asked me to build her a desk. I said I would, but I didn't tell her what kind. I wanted it to be a surprise. I knew I wanted it to be bright and colorful, and I wanted to use colored resin. This post isn't really how I built the desk, but how I created the resin part. You can do this to an existing desk you want to remodel/update. For about 80 bucks, you can dramatically change the look of a table or desk! And it's so fun to do!

I had so much fun doing this project (another favorite.) I think Elsie likes it too.

Supplies:
-epoxy coating (I used this.)
-interior gloss paint (I used Valspar)
-painter's tape
-wood shims (or something to adjust the levelness of the surface)
-thin wood strips (you don't need anymore than 1/4" x 1/8") I used ripped 1/8" ply, but even balsa wood would work, which can be cut with a utility knife!

Tools:
-
mixing containers (you'll need at least 3)

-something to spread epoxy (I just used folded paper)
-level
-sandpaper

Office desk w: color infused epoxy top - prepping for paint (click for more details)Office desk w: color infused epoxy top - prepping for paint (click for more details)Step One: I built the desk to fit the space Elsie had in her office. From this point on, you can do what I did to your piece that you want to modify. I painted a primer coat, then the gloss yellow. I applied 3 coats of yellow, sanding between each coat. I wanted this thing to be ultra glossy. I put spare blocks of wood under the legs so I could get a good pull of the brush all the way to the bottom of the leg. I hate when a little pool of paint forms against an edge or something. I want it to look perfecto!

Office desk w: color infused epoxy top - epoxy seperators (click for more details)Step Two. From here on, there are so many options and directions you could take. I wanted the desk top to have a separation of color with simple geometric shapes. That's where the strips of wood came into play. I glued the strips down with wood glue. You can make any pattern you want and use any color. Just those two elements give this project so much potential! I want to make another one! OK, so I glued the strips down, and when I did, there was some overhang, which I cut off after the glue dried.

Office desk w: color infused epoxy top - taping edge (click for more details)Office desk w: color infused epoxy top - taping edge (click for more details)Step Three: After I had the strips positioned and trimmed down and sanded, I carefully attached painter's tape around the perimeter of the desk top. This step creates a reservoir for the epoxy. The height doesn't really matter as long at it is above the wood strip. For the love of all that is good, make sure the tape is secure. You don't want epoxy to run through! Using tape with paintblock technology would be the best bet. I creased the corners of the tape so the epoxy would have a sharp corner when I took off the tape.

Office desk w: color infused epoxy top - pouring epoxy (click for more details)Office desk w: color infused epoxy top - pouring epoxy (click for more details)Office desk w: color infused epoxy top - pouring epoxy (click for more details)Step Four: At this point, you want to make sure your table is level. The ground must have been way off, because I had all kinds of shims stuck here and there to get the desk level. After this step, you will need to refrain from cutting anything in the vicinity of the desk. You want the area to be dust free so no particles fall onto the epoxy while it dries. Follow the directions that come with the epoxy. You may want to skimp on the stirring time. Don't do it! You'll be glad you spent the time to stir and mix correctly. Read the directions.  I stirred about a quart of epoxy at a time, so I had to do a couple for each color. To add color, all I did was stir in about a tablespoon of glossy interior Valspar (after I mixed and stirred the epoxy according to directions.) It was a total experimental move, but it worked. So there you go.

Office desk w: color infused epoxy top - mixing in paint (click for more details)Office desk w: color infused epoxy top - mixing in paint (click for more details)Office desk w: color infused epoxy top - mixing in paint (click for more details)The epoxy is self-leveling, meaning, if you just poured it over the flat surface and left it alone, it would spread before it dries. I helped it along by pushing the epoxy around with a folded piece of paper. That also helped it get into the corners. I also found that if I had to pour a couple of different mixtures of the same color, they mixed just fine, even if I didn't measure the exact same amount of color for each. I mixed and poured each color till the epoxy was level with the dividing wood strips. I used up all of the epoxy I had on hand, so I stopped there (Elsie wouldn't get off my back about the desk, so I was in a hurry to finish it. :)) If I had more epoxy on hand and a couple more days, I would have mixed one final batch without color and poured it over the entire top, just to make an extra smooth surface. But I love how it turned out. I think it has a lot of character and fits Elsie's taste pretty dang good.

Office desk w: color infused epoxy top - removing tape (click for more details)Once the epoxy dried, I waited till the next day, I removed the tape. I had the tiniest lip that formed where the epoxy slightly crept up the tape wall. I sanded it down (which also softened the sharp edge) with 320 grit sandpaper. Since this project, I've experimented with adding different India inks to epoxy, which has a totally different affect. Stay tuned for a project that features that. Better yet, try it out yourself! -Josh

Office-desk-w_-color-infused-epoxy-top-(click-for-more-details)Office-desk-w_-color-infused-epoxy-top-(click-for-more-details)Office-desk-w_-color-infused-epoxy-top-(click-for-more-details)Office-desk-w_-color-infused-epoxy-top-(click-for-more-details)Office-desk-w_-color-infused-epoxy-top-(click-for-more-details)Office-desk-w_-color-infused-epoxy-top-(click-for-more-details)Office-desk-w_-color-infused-epoxy-top-(click-for-more-details)

Credits // Author: Joshua Rhodes. Photography: Joshua and Sarah Rhodes and Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with petal from the Fresh Collection

Have a Sweater? Make a Pillow!

Have an old sweater? Make this cute skull pillow with it! (click through for tutorial)   One of my favorite things about Halloween (besides the candy of course) is the abundance of skull-adorned items that fill up the stores. I have an all-year-round attitude towards skulls, but it's fun to find and make new items "for Halloween" that I end up keeping out the rest of the year. The thing that I love about this project is that, not only does it involve cross stitching (which, as it turns out, is so fun), but it's also sweater upcycling as well since you use a knit-based material as the base of your pillow. This is actually the first time I've done anything cross stitch related, so if you haven't tried it yet either, this is the perfect project to start with. So don't throw out that old sweater because we're going to make something new out of it!

Have an old sweater? Make this cute skull pillow with it! (click through for tutorial)     We're so excited to team up with one of our favorite go-to stores in town, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores, on this post! They're kind of a dream partner for us, because, well, we go there all. the. time. We'll be working with them on a couple more posts this season, so stay tuned! Be sure you check out Joann.com if you don't have one in your town! 

Supplies:
-skull template (right click to download)
-thick white yarn
-plastic yarn needle
-black knit sweater
-fabric scissors
-plain black cotton fabric
-pillow stuffing

Have an old sweater? Make this cute skull pillow with it! (click through for tutorial)OK, so first print out your skull cross stitch template. The numbers tell you how many Xs are across each line and the skipped spaces are in parentheses. 

I put a foam core board inside my sweater so it would lay nice and flat while I worked, but a piece of cardboard would be fine too. The great thing about cross stitching is that you can make your design as big or as small as you want just by making each X bigger or smaller. I decided to start with one of the longest rows near the middle of the skull so I could keep each line straight and balanced in relation to that first line. Just get a long piece of yarn threaded through your yarn needle, knot the end, and come up from underneath the sweater so the starting knot is hidden on the back side.

To determine your X size, examine the weave of your knit and see if there are distinguishing marks you can use to measure your X size. For example, I had lots of vertical columns in my knit, so I made all my Xs two columns wide and then made sure they were all the same height.

Have an old sweater? Make this cute skull pillow with it! (click through for tutorial) Stitch the correct number of Xs across, and then move to the next row. Don't forget to move your starting point in or out a few spots as the pattern dictates. 

Have an old sweater? Make this cute skull pillow with it! (click through for tutorial)    When you get to the end of your yarn, tie a new piece on the underside and knot it close to the sweater. Re-thread the yarn and continue your pattern.

Have an old sweater? Make this cute skull pillow with it! (click through for tutorial)      There's probably a more correct way to cross stitch as far as where you go in and come out of your fabric to make the Xs, but that didn't seem to matter for this project. I just went in and out where it made the most sense and straightened the yarn with my fingers as needed. The back may look a bit messy, but that's OK :)

Have an old sweater? Make this cute skull pillow with it! (click through for tutorial)         Once your pattern is complete, knot the yarn on the underside and trim the string. Cut two pieces of plain black fabric that are your final pillow size with 1" added for a 1/2" seam allowance. (So my final pillow is 18" square, and I cut two pieces that are 19" square.) Flip your sweater inside out and center one of your cotton squares over your skull pattern and pin around the edge. This cotton will act as a backing for your sweater material. Repeat this step with the back half of your sweater and the other cotton square. 

Have an old sweater? Make this cute skull pillow with it! (click through for tutorial)          Cut your sweater up the side seams to separate the front from the back. Using a sewing machine, stitch 1/4" in from the outside edge of each of your cotton squares.

Have an old sweater? Make this cute skull pillow with it! (click through for tutorial)           Trim the excess sweater away from your cotton backing.

Have an old sweater? Make this cute skull pillow with it! (click through for tutorial)            Place the two pillow halves together (right sides facing each other) and pin around the edge. Sew together with a 1/2" seam allowance leaving a 5-6" opening to fill the pillow.

Have an old sweater? Make this cute skull pillow with it! (click through for tutorial)     Flip the pillow right side out, stuff the pillow until it's as full as you like, and sew the opening closed with a blind stitch. That's it!

Have an old sweater? Make this cute skull pillow with it! (click through for tutorial)  Have an old sweater? Make this cute skull pillow with it! (click through for tutorial)OK, if I'm being totally honest, I was so tempted to just leave the sweater untouched after the skull was sewn on because it looks so cute as a sweater as well. Buuut, then this wouldn't be a pillow project, now would it? Anyway, this turned out so well that I'm planning on making another skull sweater that stays a sweater so I can wear it out and about. I think cross stitching just made a new fan! xo. Laura

Credits// Author: Laura Gummerma, Photography: Laura Gummerman and Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with Stella from The Signature Collection

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