March 19, 2015

DIY bird watching kit for kids

I haven't posted anything in a very long because, well, frankly ....I haven't sewn anything ...but also because I focused on my other blog: Non Toy Gifts. I don't seem to be able to handle more than one blog at a time. Thank you for not giving up on Just Chic and still following it. I'm grateful for your interest.

I started Non Toy Gifts as a local blog but just opened it to everybody, that is everybody who is interested in gifting more than toys to their kids. The blog's purpose is to make your life easier when it comes to looking for gifts for kids. Finding gifts for kids made easy - that's the logo. Interested? Then, please stop by, take a look and spread the word if you like what you see.

I post about toy alternative gift ideas, creators of such gifts and DIY gifts you can create on your own. My last project was a bird watching kit I put together for a 6 year old boy.

Read more about it here.

December 10, 2014

Baby's month-by-month photos

When my oldest was a baby we used to send a photo of him to grandparents every month and I would also add a copy to his journal (I started a journal the day I found out I was pregnant and continued writing after the baby was born. )
I wanted to do the same for my youngest but just a bit different so decided to follow many examples seen online and take the pictures at the same place each month. I created 12 felt numbers for the baby's age and tried to match their colors with Eric's outfits. The last 4 photos of the series were really hard to take as Eric is very energetic and moves a lot. I would place him on the armchair and by the time I took a step back he was already down on the floor.
The blanket in the photos was given to him by his godparents so we thought it would make a nice memory to include it.

Once my oldest started being interested in numbers, I could reuse the felt stuffed numbers while trying to teach him to count.

December 5, 2014

Birthday gift: reading nook under the staircase

"Victor is a great reader!" My mom was intrigued by my statement. How can her grandson be a great reader when he recently turned only 3? Ok, he may not be able to read on his own yet but this doesn't make him less of a reader (for his age): he loves being read to, enjoys spending time looking through his books and checking them out at the library -this may be mainly because he likes passing all the materials under the scanner. There was one time when he didn't want to return one book at the library and I had to take him to the store and replace it. (It was "Green eggs and ham" by Dr. Seuss).

Considering all these, my hubby and I decided to make a reading nook for Victor as his birthday gift. We even had the perfect place for it: the basement, under the staircase. We started planning, sewing (I sewed the cushion and pillows myself) and buying all the necessary things (lights, book shelves aka IKEA spice rakes, magnetic boards and letters, photo frames) weeks before his birthday but couldn't put everything together until the night before.

Now that it's cold outside the kids spend more time in the basement and would have seen that there was something going on. We didn't want to spoil the surprise.

After he came from pre-school that morning we were able to show it to him and boy, was he surprised! The books are either received as gifts from his friends (we asked his birthday party guests to bring books) or bought by me from the Half Price Book sale.

 Victor loves his place under the staircase, he goes there either to read his books and magazines or play with the light (turning it on and off seems like a big entertainment for both my boys these days).

You can find here a list of 60+ non-toy gifts for kids.

November 3, 2014

Non-Toy Gifts for Kids

My friend Marv and I are the authors of a new blog created for the parents and kids of the Twin Cities, MN. Just like me, Marv is a stay-at-home mom of 2 little kids: a little boy who just turned one, and his 4-year old sister.

During our play dates we get to chit chat about all sorts of aspects of our everyday lives, just like any other moms do. We share tips and tricks about potty training and making our kids eat more veggies, talk about our oldest's pre-schools, complain about the huge number of toys our kids have and how they both still want to play with the exact same toy at the same time, etc.

The idea of the blog NON-TOY GIFTS came once we started thinking of toy-alternative gifts for our children. When we had this impressive list of 60 non-toy presents, we thought it was a good idea to share it with other parents living in the Twin Cities. Although some are local gifts, like Family Theater Membership to the Stepping Stone Theater, Train Rides in Duluth or books from the Red Balloon in St Paul or Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis, parents from anywhere can check out the blog to find interesting ideas.

We also made available a list of 25+ local freebies and activities for  children: gifts they  can receive for free on their birthday, treats to enjoy year round and events and activities the kids can attend for free. 

If you're looking for a place to celebrate your kids' birthday, all you have to do is go through our list of 40+ party venues.  There are so many in the Twin Cities and we try to put them all together in one place.
We created Non-Toy Gifts for all the parents in the Minneapolis and Saint Paul area, one place to go to when it comes to celebrating our kids and finding new ways in building them wonderful childhood memories. We hope that Minnesotan parents will find it resourceful and share their own ideas on non-toy gifts and experiences about the party venues they have used for their kids.
All the links  we provide on the blog are purely for information purpose.  We have no intention in promoting any businesses or services. We wished useful information like we've gathered, consolidated and put in one place, was available to us when we first became parents and that's the whole idea about this blog - to share this information with the Minnesotan parents like us.

October 21, 2014

Curious George and The Man With The Yellow Hat pumpinks

Curious George is one of my boys' favorite characters. My 16-month old baby (we still refer to him as a baby) can say up to 20 words and George is one of them - this is to get you an idea how much George is part of our lives. We watch the TV series and read books about the little curious monkey.
So when pumpkin painting time came (to continue the tradition I started last year with the Minion pumpkins), it was a no-brainer: Curious George and the Man with the Yellow Hat. This is in fact the Halloween theme for this year: pumpkins and costumes. 
The day I finished painting the pumpkins and took them outside, it was such a windy day and I was afraid the Man with the Yellow Hat would loose his hat. I had glued it to his head and managed to do a pretty good job as it stuck to the pumpkin despite the wind. Little had I worried about the real enemies: kids can be more destructive than nature. When my boys came out of the house, first thing Victor did was to pull out the hat.

September 23, 2014

men's shirt into boy pants

When he last came to visit us, my dad left behind a shirt. (He didn't forget it, just decided not to take it back) The shirt became immediately part of my refashion stash, waiting its turn for a second chance. 
 I used the comfy pants pattern in "Sewing for boys" book (same as in the blue pants ) to make this new pair of pants for Victor. Easy to sew and my little guy seems very comfortable in them - what else to ask for? 
 The shirt pocket, which I decided to place in front of the pants and not the back, proved to be a great hit for my little rock collector. The rocks he finds and decides to keep vary in size from pretty small to rather big and they all fit in. Besides, when you have a little brother, you want to make sure he doesn't lay hands on your belongings and what better place to keep them than a nice big pocket?

August 6, 2014

old jeans skirt reinvented

When I got tired of my old jeans skirt I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. The inspiration came from this bohemian jeans skirt found on etsy. 
Belles Roses bohemian jean skirt Renaissance Denim Couture long flowy boho gypsy faerie Made to Order
Though I felt very much tempted by the floor length I also wanted a knee skirt. With just a bit more than a yard of fabric I managed to transformed my old skirt into this neat skirt.

Curious about what I used to make the blue pattern at the bottom of the skirt? If you read this blog it means that you also like sewing and that you handle it quite often: thread spool.

July 15, 2014

The blue elephant shirt aka dr Seuss shirt

Our first mini-vacation as a family of four was a weekend spent at a goat farm. I was nervous about the sleeping arrangements, which proved indeed to be a bit of a problem, as the boys only wanted to sleep with me (so I ended up sleeping with both of them while Dan had the other bed to himself. Not fair!) and they kept each other up until late at night, but apart from that, we had a great time enjoying the calm and quiet country side and the playful goats. Victor couldn't get enough of feeding the goats and had a hard time leaving. We promised him we'd see more goats at the ZOO so the minute we pulled the car into the garage he asked to go to the ZOO.

We did go to the ZOO, though not that very day, and he was excited to see the animals (and the mountain goat) but not as much as pushing around his stroller. I'm not sure what it is about pushing around toys or strollers or anything that can roll but it tops any other activity. He showed an interest in the seal but didn't even glance at the zebra or elephant. Had the elephant been blue (like the ones on his new shirt) he might have stood a chance of being noticed.

 Once I was done sewing this shirt, I hung it in Victor's closet, among his other clothes. He noticed it right away and wanted to wear it the same day. -what better compliment! :)

July 1, 2014

Toddler activity: felt numbers

These felt numbers were of great help to Victor a few months back, when he started showing interest in counting. It was a 2-in-1 challenge: identifying numbers and colors.

They are pretty large and stuffed, different from the felt letters.

Victor's counting went thru different stages: English counting was a favorite at the beginning (though he would always pronounce 7 in Romanian) but now he can easily switch from one language to another while counting and he even amazed me one day when I heard him say: "uno dos tres cuatro" (he learns Spanish at daycare).

I rotate the toys and although I try to do it on a regular basis, that's the last thing on my mind, so Victor hasn't played with the numbers in a very long time. I wonder if he would still show an interest in them.
If not, they will get their second chance once Eric is old enough.

April 30, 2014

Toddler activity : felt letters

My 2-year old son is into colors, numbers and letters and we look for any opportunity to help him develop his new recognition abilities. We try to make it fun through games, foam letters and numbers for bath time and felt letters and numbers made by myself.
Growing up in a bilingual environment can be challenging for a little guy. We speak Romanian at home but he's equally exposed to English through all the books we read to him, visits at the library and our international friends.  
There are things, like the alphabet, that we prefer to teach him in English so it won't get too confusing. The Romanian alphabet has the same letters as the English one but some are pronounced differently.
This is how it originally looked like but as his little brother kept pulling the letters down I decided to place them out of the baby's reach.
 Both the board and letters are made from felt as felt sticks to felt. As for how to attach the board to the wall, I used Command Strips but you can also try pins. (I wanted not to damage the wall in any way)
I haven't put out all the letters yet, just the ones that Victor can identify so far. (enough to be able to spell his name)

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