How to make your own pillow that folds into a pet


First it was Betty Crocker Bake 'n Fill.  Then it was Snuggies. This year's ridiculously overly-simplistic but over-priced and over-marketed item  requested on the Christmas wish list is Pillow Pets.  (I'm surprised I haven't heard about the Big Top Cupcake set this year!)

If you are like me you're probably thinking there's gotta be a way for me to make a stupid pillow with a head.

Fortunately for us there are lots of talented folks out there who have already figured out how and are willing to share their ideas. And here they are...

Twelve Crafts Till Christmas offers a tutorial for utterly adorable entirely handmade Pillow Buddies (part 1 and part 2) including the head and tail. She makes it look easy!

All Things Shea provides instructions for a notquiteapillowpet made by sewing a pillow but using a stuffed animal (like one from the dollar store or an old one lying about) for the head and tail.

Jen Goode provides inspiration and ideas for the cutest Bed Bugs pillow friends you could ever find!  These are imaginative and crafted entirely by hand, including fanciful faces, wings, and legs.

TeachNdahood at Instructables shows the steps for creating a knock off pillow pet using a specific animal form, in this case a horse.

Kids crafts for winter holidays: Stars, Cookies, Peg Dolls

A virtual trip to the Natural Kids Store has inspired me to start thinking about winter crafts with the kids. All the handcrafted felt and wool, hardcarved wood, handpainted treasures are so beautiful.  The colors are so inspirational and remind me of my current favorite "grass roots" color pallete designed to invoke all things handmade.


Craft Ideas has many different FREE easy patterns for colorful folded stars here and here.  Even more sophisticated versions can be purchased from Harvest Moon by Hand's etsy shop and they are gorgeous!!!!

Zencrafting has taken a twist on folded stars by providing FREE patterns of how to make savory origami stars from fabric origami stars as well as the more traditional paper origami stars.  Check out her Etsy shop for more offerings. She also has a beautiful free calendar you can download and enjoy immediately.


These scrumptious felt cookies are available from Harvest Moon by Hand's etsy shop. Perhaps they'll also inspire additional creative crafting with the kids.

I love felt food!!!


Small sampling of felt food from Bug Bites Play Food


I'm continuing my delight with peg dolls and hope to make some this year with my daughter and niece. 

Having recently been to a teen dance troup performance I was enthralled with this "tiny dancer" from the amazing artist at Pretty Ditty.

Isn't this just serene? It's even more cool to realize it is made just special for her daughter.


Adorable FREE pattern for peg cottage from Grace Violet


How to mix "oops" paint for a desired color: Colorful Journeys with Math

This lovely colorful journey began with 3 gallons of fabulous fence and porch "oops" paint.

Oh my! I tried them out and they covered raw wood fabulously with one coat!!!  What a steal at $5/gallon!!  I think this is among the most expensive paint sold at Big Orange Box Store. 

I envisioned painting our fence, our new wood playset (thank you freecycle!), the raised garden bed posts, the grape arbor.....

As much as I love bright colors, these cool hues are not compatible with our exterior (or friendly relationships with neighbors.) But apparently someone did use this color on their ranch.
I need a warm tone. I need boring beige or beige-ish. 

A green undertone is fine.  After all, we have a Brady Bunch era house.  Everything inside and out has an olive green undertone.

I pondered the equation:

2 gal of robin's egg blue + 1 gal of tea green + ? = beige

So I went on a mathematical hunt for answers

I love that qualitative things like colors and music can be reduced to quantitative numeric attributes!!

Get Box Store Help.  One completely non-math alternative is to go to the box store and see if they will re-tint the oops paint. I recommend doing it on a slow weekday when folks are more likely to be bored!

I did ask to re-tint it when I bought the paint, but the clerk said the oops paint cans are already filled to the rim and there is no more room to add additional tint. (I guess the stores re-tint the paint that people return so that customers cannot just go and "re-purchase" their same color paint at oops prices. I never would have thought about that.)

If I were to go into the store and purchase one of their 5 gallon buckets, they might be willing to mix my 3 gallons of oops paint (showing their store brand label) with their colorant.

But if you want to experience the thrill of the chase and the lure of a challenge.....
Do it Yourself. I'm sure real designers have all sorts of fantastic software tools for this color formula stuff, but I used my trusty old microsoft paint program. Here are the steps I used:

(1) Visually identify the colors. Using the custom color editor I moved the cursor around the rainbow of colors until I found colors that, to my eye, appeared similar to the gallons of paint in the garage.   I picked out these colors to represent the robin's egg blue and green tea colors of oops paint. I also picked out the beige color I was trying to replicate

 Oops paint

 Oops paint


 Hopeful end result for Oops paint!

(2) Obtain RGB values for the colors. Those colors have numeric attributes of hue, saturation, luminosity. More useful are the numbers that show how much red, green and blue are present on a scale from 0 to 255.  The three red, green, and blue numbers in sequence define the RGB value for your color.

R: 151   Hue: 120           R: 202   Hue: 54       R: 194   Hue: 40
G: 255   Sat: 240            G: 245   Sat: 207      G: 194   Sat: 80
B: 255   Lum: 191           B: 122   Lum: 173    B: 133    Lum: 154

(3) Convert RGB values to Hexadecimal (hex) values.  Every combination of RGB colors can also be represented by a hexadecimal value which works on a base 16 system (instead of base 10 like a decimal system.)  By entering the RGB values a calculator will provide the hexadecimal number that also identifies the color.  The hex numbers are sometimes represented without the "#."

Hex: #CAF57A              Hex: #97FFF            Hex: #C2C285

(4) Find out what color the oops paint make when mixed.  If you only have one color of oops paint to start with, then you can skip this step! Using the color combiner I added 1 part green with 2 parts blue by doing the addition in two steps:

Green #CAF57A + Blue #97FFF  = New Color: #A0FAD4

New Color: #A0FAD4 + Blue #97FFF   = New Color #9CFDEA

(5) Experiment combining new colors with the oops paint to find the best color to add for your desired result. Okay, this would be so much easier if there was a "color subtraction tool" to go along with the color combiner tool!  Then I could have input "#C2C285 (beige) minus #9CFDEA (oops mixture) results in the color I need to add!

I didn't find one, soooo, I just experimented many many times continuing to use the color combination tool. 

Knowing that I needed to go on the opposite side of the color wheel to make beige, I knew that I would likely need something in the orange color family to add to my blue-green mixture. I looked at an html color chart to find the hex codes for various orange colors.  Then I plugged them into the color combination tool with the hex code for my final "oops mixture."  These are some of the more successful combinations.

    oops mixture        +       orange hue    =       beige-ish outcome

     (1)  #9CFDEA        +     #FF6600        =           #CEB275

      (2)  #9CFDEA      +    #FF7700     =       #CEBA75


          (3) #9CFDEA     +      #CC7711        =        #B4BA7E

6)  Keep an eye out for orange (or red and yellow) oops paint!  I'll be visiting the big box stores to score some more oops paint. The funny thing is that I saw a gallon of bright orange awhile back and wondered who in the world would want to buy that.  Now I know :-)

Trendy "Grass Roots" Color Palette

Here is a beautiful color palette (created by a Pantone user) that takes its cues from nature. It's earthy, yet colorful.  It's vibrant, yet livable in an interior environment.

It's potentially a good compromise for the occupants of our household. We all like earthy colors, but some of us gravitate toward summer brights while others of us are drawn to the muted tones.

Hex numbers for the colors (left to right) are as follows:


See for lots of interesting tools for selecting color palettes, combining colors, converting hex numbers to RGB numbers, and lots more!!


Help for the mom who forgets food is cooking on the stove

I'm a distracted mom.  I am NOT one of those Super Moms who can multi-task.  I was born to one, but I'm not one myself. 

That's why I get such a chuckle out of distracted-mother-author Carol Barnier's books like "How to Get your Kid off the Refrigerator and on to Learning" and "If I'm diapering the watermelon then where did I put the baby?" 

By the way, in addition to her blog she also has a fabulous website Where Highly Distractible People are Celebrated, Encouraged and Empowered. Oh. But I digress.  See what I mean?

Anyone who knows me knows that I am also culinarily-challenged!   I'm afraid of being turned into "What Not to Wear" AND "Worst Cooks in America." But again, I digress.

If I have to apply heat to anything or use a sharp utensil you better get out of the kitchen!!  I need total concentration.  Cooking is equivalent to doing brain surgery in my world.

So I was really happy to find this cookbook "Hands-Off Cooking: Low-Supervision, High-Flavor Meals for Busy People" by Ann Martin Rolke.

Here's a pretty picture of one of Ann's recipes made and photographed by Elise, a blogger friend of the author. Doesn't this look yummy?!

Now THIS sounds like a book for a mom who burns pancakes and grilled cheese or makes mushy boxed mac and cheese because she forgets they are on the stove.

Feeding a crowd cheaply

Looking for "cheap ways to feed a crowd" ideas for our neighborhood picnic I ran across some interesting recipes that are outside the usual hot dogs, sloppy joes, spaghetti....

Easy Chick Pea Curry for a Crowd

Sweet Massaman Curry

Chicken and dumplings

Any other suggestions?!

Eye Candy for students, parents, and teachers frustrated with our model of education

You might think it is boring to sit and listen to someone talk about the perils of our current education system.  (I was prepared for that.) But I challenge you to watch this for 20 seconds and not get hooked into the rest of the 11 minute video!

THIS IS A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF THE POWER OF CREATIVE THINKING we want to encourage in our schools!!!!

"Mom, I have a handwashing problem"

Indeed you do, my darling daughter. I'm glad you realize it is a problem.  And now I know why I've had to refill the soap dispenser so frequently as of late.

Over the weekend I started settling into the realization that my 5 year old daughter is exhibiting common signs of an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).  I would not have thought it possible at this age, but a recent report from Science Daily indicates that children as young as 4 can have full-blown OCD.

It was an abrupt onset of symptoms. Two weeks ago she started complaining after brushing her teeth that she felt like she just hadn't brushed everywhere.  She brushed quite frequently. But that seemed okay. It was after each meal and snack throughout the day which seemed logical, especially since she became aware of some cavities that need filling.

But that behavior looks different in hindsight. This past week she started washing her hands a zillion times, complaining about germs and worrying about everything touching something "dirty."  (okay, yeah, I'm a germophobe but not like this!)  She started taking multiple showers and baths a day, crying if we didn't let her.  She started getting chapped hands.

I knew it crossed the line when she had a friend over yesterday and insisted (shrieked) that her friend must wash her hands (and rewash them) before touching things.  She tried her hardest to get everyone to go play outside so no one would touch things in the house.

She has been in nearly constant agony and distress.  Even sleep has not brought relief. She has been waking up sobbing.

Over the past several months she has said "I wish I was never born" which was alarming to me. 

I felt that way a lot as a child with a panic disorder. I've seen the terrorizing symptoms of panic and anxiety displayed in my firstborn with a sensory processing disorder.  And now I'm seeing the OCD in my second child.

I think back to when she was 3 and we would be late for soccer games because she couldn't get her socks and shin guards exactly even and would meltdown. 

I just figured she had mild sensory issues like her brother and was irritated by the clothing. But now I realize it was because of the lack of symmetry.

So she has only a few socks she would wear but mostly avoids them, choosing to wear boots or flip flops instead.

And she often begs to have her hair in pigtails like her cousin or other girls she observes.  But it's only a few minutes before a meltdown occurs.  She sobs that the pigtails are not even, no matter how many times I redo them. They never stay in for more than a few minutes before she is in complete agony.

My children are the fifth generation to deal with some level of "mental illness" related to anxiety disorders.  Anxiety and panic disorders can be traced at least back to my great grandmother. 

These issues have affected my grandmother; my father, all his siblings, at least one cousin; several of my cousins; and now my own children. At one point I counted that 50% of our descendants were affected in some way. I've learned of a family member diagnosed with schizophrenia.  And we've recently learned of a bi-polar diagnosis in my husband's family.

Some folks feel it is shameful to discuss or admit anyone is affected.  But not me.  It's not a moral failing. It's not anyone's "fault."  It's not because someone is weak.  It's just a medical issue.

RESOURCES: So the journey begins for another child. Here are some resources we'll be investigating.

Freeing Your Child from Obsessive-Compu​lsive Disorder: A Powerful, Practical Program for Parents of Children and Adolescents by Tamar Ellsas Chansky

What to Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming OCD (What-to-Do Guides for Kids) by Dawn Huebner

Talking Back to OCD: The Program That Helps Kids and Teens Say "No Way" -- and Parents Say "Way to Go" by John S. March MD

Health Journeys Help For Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder [Audio CD] - Belleruth Naparstek

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