Lost in Cyberspace

Okay, so this post is a little off the beaten path, I know. But I feel like I really need to reach out.

Do you know what I found this morning, by accident?


Isn't it ADORABLE??!! It's a tute for a felt stocking Christmas Advent Calendar by Cindy at Skip To My Lou. Cindy has wonderful stuff on her site and I can spend way too much time there, but this post was from 2008!!!! At my worst, I don't typically spend THAT much time there.

And I also found this...

This one was from Maya Made, another place to get lost in. Christmas, candy, crafts, and recycling -- what more could a girl want? But this post was also from 2008!

If I hadn't stumbled on these by accident, I doubt I would have ever found them. How sad is that!

Now, to be fair, it DID come up in the 1,200,000 links under Google images, sort of, at least this image did...

... not that it's particularly appealing amongst all the rest, or even obvious what it is.

But so did this...
And this...

And ... well, no. I'm not going to post a link to a picture of a mostly naked man with a little gift wrap in the appropriate area, on a website that's aimed toward children and crafts. You can google that yourself if you'd like -- just search images for "advent calendar."

Please don't misunderstand my point -- I'm not knocking Google! I spend way too much time there too. (Which might explain why my chair seat is getting smaller all the time ...) But, it's just not filtered and not always appropriate for children and the images may or may not be helpful and the links are duplicated or missed altogether and there's too much for sale when I'm looking to "make" and ... well, let me just say that there are issues.

The bottom line is that I don't want these links that I love to get lost or overlooked, or grouped in with some almost naked pictures (or worse!) when I go looking for it later. And I'm heartbroken over the ones that I haven't "accidentally" found, or haven't found because I haven't paged back to 2008.

I'm afraid they're going to be LOST IN CYBERSPACE!!!!

It would be different, too, if blogger or wordpress had a tag search that would cross blog boundaries. That might help, but also be a little dangerous and unmanageable (re: or worse!). And the fact is that they don't have one. So even if I had already found and loved Skip to My Lou, what if I hadn't yet discovered Maya Made?

So I'm reaching out to you to help me. I need your tutorial links. Old, new, and everything in between! Don't let your fabulous links get swallowed by Cyberspace! And it doesn't even have to be your link -- you can even link up someone else. As long as it's a tute (not just something for sale) that's craft related and not inappropriate for a children's site, then link it up!

Done a link party before? It's that simple. Just click here. And your efforts won't be lost in a couple weeks just because your link-up rolls off the front page.

Then check it out here.

Want to see what you would currently find at Childmade under advent calendars? Click here. I can assure you that you won't find any half-naked pictures.

And if you link-up, you might even be featured in my weekly top-10, my weekly newsletter, or on the website scrolling gallery. What could it hurt to try?

And btw, I love to hear from you. Comments are the icing on my cake. I'm not a big corporation -- I'm one person. I WILL HEAR YOU. I love input on what I can do to improve my site, or what sort of links you would be looking for. I can't always manage to do it, but I will certainly consider it.

Recycled Bookcovers

Does anyone else remember these?

Making bookcovers out of paper shopping bags?

It's all my mom ever did when I was a kid. Of course, we didn't have the stretchy fabric ones that you can purchase now. But even though those are fairly cheap and certainly easy, I don't think they protect the book as well. And that's really the purpose of the bookcover, right?

So, just in case you never knew how, or can't remember, or are too young and simply never did it, I thought I'd do a quick tutorial today on how to do book covers out of paper shopping bags.

You'll need a paper shopping bag, scissors, and tape, and the text book you need to cover.

Begin by "flattening the shopping bag." Cut a seam from the top to bottom on one side. It doesn't really matter where unless you're trying to salvage some printing on the bag. If it's a cool design or a "noteworthy" shop, you might want the printing to be visible when finished. Otherwise, you would typically put the printing on the inside of the bookcover.

Next, remove the bottom rectangle of the bag.

Now you should have a flat piece of paper to work with. If there's printing on the bag, decide if you want it visible or not. If not, place the paper print-side-up.

The paper bag is going to wrap around the book longways. Begin by aligning the book in the center of the flattened paper bag. At the bottom edge of the book, fold in a section along the full length of one edge (long side.) A regular-sized shopping bag will allow you about 3 inches for the fold. After the fold is made, realign the book at the crease, leaving about 1/4" excess.

Next, fold back the paper against the top edge of the book and crease, providing a fold guideline. Remove the book and fold in a section along the full length of the top edge (long side,) parallel to the fold you made on the opposite side.

Realign the book. The folds should match the size of the book with a little room to spare. It's better to have a little too much room than too little, so adjust as necessary.

Fold the paper over the spine of the book, leaving about 3 inches of excess paper past the right edge of the bookcover.

Lift the cover of the book and fold under the excess length.

Trim the opposite end of the paper to about 3 inches past the edge of the book.

Tighten the paper around the book from the front to the back, then fold over the excess paper on the back cover.

Next, open the book and insert the front cover into the pocket created when you folded over the paper.

Close the front cover and repeat with the back.

The cover should fit snugly and be secured in place by the pocket folds. For additional support, use some tape to secure the folds in place.

And the last thing to do is label and decorate the cover! If it wears out before the school year is over, just grab another bag from the grocery store and whip up another one. It's a great way to recycle, encourage the artistic talents, and protect a school textbook all at one time. And best of all, it's FREE!

And be sure to check out the endless list of inspirational ideas at my home page childmade.com.

I'll be linking to some of the fabulous link parties listed on the right sidebar ... but really, that's a LOT of parties! I probably won't get to them all, but you should stop in and visit a few yourself. While you're at it, stop by my home page and add a few links there too!

And the WINNER is.....

(drumroll please....)


Comment #2 was left by Staci from Craftify It!

(Cute blog, BTW!)

Staci said: I'm a new follower! Loving your site! I think your ice cream tutorial is ADORABLE! (My suggestion for your 300 follower giveaway) I'm so impressed with your embroidering!

Love the FAMILY BLOCKS...crossing my fingers to win!:)

Maybe crossing your fingers DOES work afterall!

So I have a winner, a new follower and a target for my next give-away -- the Ice Cream Chore Chart.

So keep watch and when I reach 300 followers, I'll be hosting another give-away. Also, I'll do a post shortly to feature what Staci decided on her colors for her Family Photo block.

Thanks to everyone that entered! And many thanks to random.org for helping pick the winner!

While you're here, be sure to check out the endless list of inspirational ideas at my home page childmade.com.


It's official! I've opened my Shop! Check it out!

It's still under construction as I add products, but many products are already available. I've had a lot of requests for the Ice Cream Cone Chore Chart, the Veggie Garden Chore Chart, and the Burger Chore Chart, so I'm starting with those. If you don't see the items you're wanting right away, just check back in a couple of days. I'm adding items as fast as I can.

I'll also be offering the custom embroidered letters that I use for the Personalized Photo Blocks.

So get your list together and order early for Christmas. If your child loves the chore charts as much as mine does, you'll wish you had done it sooner!

And be sure to check out the endless list of inspirational ideas at my home page childmade.com.

Veggie Garden Chore Chart

Okay, just so you know, I am NOT all about chores. It appears, though, that my creativity currently IS all about making chore charts. Frankly, though, I really think it's just for lack of direction. With the Fourth of July over and fall not here yet, August is just a really dry month (no pun intended) for creative focus. But fall will be here soon, and school starts in just a couple of weeks, so it won't be long now before the creative juices will be gathering with intention. In the meantime, another chore chart...

... and this one is a wonderful little vegetable garden!

I had so much fun putting this together! It was one of my most difficult (having to draw out and digitize all the designs) but also one of the most rewarding. Even if my son doesn't think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread, I had such a great time that I won't even care. Plus, I think this would make a great activity by itself, without the related chores. Follow along and I think you'll agree.

The first thing I did was draw out a variety of vegetables and digitize them for my embroidery machine. Having learned previously from my Ice Cream Chore Chart, I opted to use a printed cotton for the background color and stitch the shape of the vegetable.

I backed the designs with a stiff white fabric, gluing the outline on the sides and top of the design, but leaving the bottom and center loose. When it was dry, I trimmed the designs to within about 1/8" of the stitching. I still need to apply some anti-fray to the edges.

Next, I opened the bottom ...

... and inserted a popsicle stick, gluing it in place.

I made a pumpkin, watermelon, radishes and beets, ...

... asparagus, turnips, carrots, and tomatoes, ...

... lettuce, cellery, and corn. I still need to do eggplant, onions, and yellow squash, and maybe some mushrooms, broccoli and cauliflower. The variety in shape and color makes the finished product really bright and cheery.

The next step was to prepare the garden. There are any number of ways to do this, and if you put one together, I would love to see yours (I'll even feature a link-up!) I wanted mine for the wall, but it could also be done in a desktop version. I had originally planned on having it be just fabric, but I was shocked at the way the popsicle sticks snagged into the fabric, even though they felt perfectly smooth to the touch . I even tried sanding mine without any real success. Perhaps it would help if they were varnished. Anyway, keep that in mind if you give this a try.

First, I grabbed a cereal box from the recycle bin. I used a ruler to draw parallel lines at an angle on both sides.

Then I cut the sides and continued through the ends. When finished, I was left with two equal 4-sided "trays" that sat at an angle.

I flipped the box over and drew parallel lines inside about 2 inches apart. These lines represent the "rows" of the garden.

Next, I used a razor knife to cut slits out of the row. I made the slits about 1/4" wide, in varying lengths and varying positions to account for the fact that my veggies are different sizes and shapes. The slits needed to be wide enough to fit the popsicle sticks loosely, without being too wide such that the veggie would slip through.

I repeated this with all the rows. It's not important that this step look neat, as it won't be visible on the finished product. It's more important to focus on the size and alignment. I experimented a bit with the finished veggies to get the correct size and placement.

Next, I placed the second half of the cereal box inside the first one, matching the angle of the first box. I left a 1/2-inch gap between the two boxes and glued it in place. I didn't put any spacers between the two box parts, but would probably suggest it if your little one might be a little rough with the finished product.

The gap allows room for the popsicle sticks to fit through, while keeping them from flipping forward from the weight of the veggie, plus it gives the garden a 3-dimensional effect.

Hopefully you can tell from the pictures what this finished step should look like.

Next, I began covering the cardboard with various brown fabrics. I started at the top, wrapping the fabric around the top and sides, and stopping at the slits for the first row. This won't show on the finished product, and it's important to keep the slits clear.

The next step was to align another piece of fabric. I tried to just fold it over and glue it in place, but I found the fabric tended to crumple when I inserted the popsicle sticks. I addressed this problem by adding a strip of cardboard and folding the fabric over the cardboard before adding it to the garden.

I positioned the folded edge covering the slits, gluing the fabric in place just below the slits. (Be sure not to glue the fabric above the slits, or it will cut off the access.) Effectively, there's about 1/2" of "loose" fabric at the top, but it's supported by the piece of cardboard placed into the fold, and stabilized by gluing the fabric around the sides of the box. Then I trimmed the bottom of the fabric before the next row of slits.

I repeated this until the whole box was covered with mixed brown fabric, wrapping the last piece around the sides and bottom so that the cardboard is completely covered.

The popsicle stick is used for labeling the chore. I used a label maker, but you could also just write directly on the popsicle stick. Alternatively, if you put scotch tape on the popsicle stick, you can write on the scotch tape and just peel it off when you want to change it.

This idea would also be a great tool for other various learning activities, such as colors (the color of the veggie,) numbers (count the veggies,) or even the name of the veggie (reading and spelling.) And the garden theme helps kids to understand that food doesn't just magically appear at the grocery store. It's even a fun imagination activity without having any lesson at all.

I arranged the veggies into the garden by slipping the popsicle stick between the folds, through a slit in the row.

Next, I decided it needed a little picket fence. I cut down some square craft sticks and glued them together to make the fence.

I glued the fence to the bottom of the garden.

As a side note, you can also make it so that the veggies are inserted into the side too, you just need to plan for it (I glued my fabric down tightly so I couldn't.)

Then I made a little sign to hang on the fence, identifying it as Jake's garden.

I had a couple of mini tools in my massive pile of junk inventory, and even though I thought they were cute, I opted out and left the fence with just the sign

And that's my version! Isn't it cute?! I just love it!

Wouldn't it be cute with a couple of blackbirds?

Or maybe a scarecrow?

I'm going to start out the day with all the fruits and veggies in a jar or cup. Then as my son does a chore or service, he'll "plant" the veggie in his garden. As the day goes on, he'll be able to see the "fruit of his labor." Then at the end of the day, he can "harvest" his crop (pull the veggies from the garden,) bring it to market (to mom,) and sell it at the current market rate (get paid his allowance.)

If you try this tute, I would LOVE to see your version! It would be great to have a list of link-ups so others could benefit from your efforts. So let me know!

And while you're visiting, be sure to stop by and enter my give-away for a Custom Family Photo Block.

Be sure to check out the endless list of inspirational ideas at my home page childmade.com.

I'll be linking to some of the fabulous link parties listed on the right sidebar ... but really, that's a LOT of parties! I probably won't get to them all, but you should stop in and visit a few yourself.

While you're at it, stop by my home page and add a few links of your own!