Friday, February 17, 2012

Time to say goodbye.

"To everything there is a season..."
Ecclesiastes 3:1 

  After much thinking and praying - and yes, agonizing - I have decided to bid blogging goodbye and this is, sadly, my last post here on Joyful Mama's Place. Writing here these past two years has been such a lovely experience and a very fun hobby.  But being an 'all or nothing kind of girl', the blog has just been taking up too much of my time and energy, and even when I wasn't posting much, I'm afraid I had gotten into the habit of looking at too much of my life as potential  blog posts! I would much rather spend that time and energy on things with more eternal value.

    Thank you so much for every one of you who read my ramblings these past two years, and especially to everyone who took the time to comment and told me that you enjoyed my posts - your comments were always a treat!

   I will not be deleting the blog, so feel free to return to the archives if you ever need some inspiration! And who knows, maybe in a year or so I may even try to take up the reigns again...

   I continue to have fun with my sweet children daily and I delight in their development and beautiful personalities. Hopefully leaving the blog - and cutting down on computer time in general - will free up even more time to spend with them and with my darling husband!

"The Lord bless and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you
and give you peace."
Numbers 6:25-26

Yours joyfully,

A Joyful Mama

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pinterest Inspired Projects Day 6: Dragon Tails

 Did I ever tell you about the day the doctor told me that our second child was a boy?? I was 16 weeks pregnant, and convinced it was another little girl, because....

 1.) that's what the doctor said it looked like at my 12 week visit, and

 2.) why on earth would God ever entrust ME with a boy?!

          I am the eldest of four GIRLS. 

In a family of 15 cousins, there were only 4 boys, and I never really took too much notice of them, but oh, all of us GIRLS were so close! 

And my firstborn was a GIRL, and it was wonderful

    So when the doctor went a little pale and admitted that he had made a mistake on the previous scan, I broke down and bawled, sobbing: "But I can't even catch a ball! What is going to become of him????"

In love with my little guy, 7 weeks old

   I am happy to say that when the shock eventually wore off, I became quite taken with the idea of having a son, and oh, then they placed that little guy in my arms...and I was smitten!! And I am not in the least bit shy about the fact he has me firmly wrapped around his little finger!


    That doesn't mean the boy-thing always comes naturally to me, and this has become quite evident in matters surrounding our dress-up box! My construction-loving, tough-as-nails little Big Man would all too often emerge from his sister's room decked out in a tutu, handbag over the shoulder, and his fireman hat! It had just never occurred to me that boys also need dress-up clothes! *blush*

Pinterest to the rescue! I've just recently started a Dress-up board and I'm glad to say that it contains roughly equal numbers of girl AND boy outfits that I hope to make for my team! And the first one I tried my hand at?


  There is a fantastic step-by-step tutorial for these on Tatertots and Jello. The directions were clear and very simple to sew - I think the whole thing took me just under an hour from cutting the fabric to tying it around Arrow's hips. 

(For you local ladies, I've found it really worthwhile buying a measuring tape with inches on one side and centimeters on the other - it's very handy when doing projects like this one by American bloggers. I don't even try to convert, but just simply follow their directions using inches.)

Arrow just recently discovered dinosaurs, so we called this a dinosaur tail, and he had great fun chasing his sister around the garden making deep, growly, super-scary dinosaur sounds!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pinterest Inspired Projects Day 5 :DIY Cloth Nappies

If I told you that I recently had the joy of meeting an old friend again online, you might think I was talking about someone I found on Facebook maybe? Well, no. The 'friend' in question was actually a tutorial for making cloth nappies that I used almost four years ago when I sewed my first batch of cloth nappies for my then three month-old baby Sweetpea!

I remember really liking the idea of soft, 100% cotton nappies on that sweet little baby bum, as opposed to the paper-and-plastic variety filled with all kinds of chemicals. So one Saturday afternoon I googled 'cloth diaper tutorials', found a few, and, using an old bed sheet and and old towel, made three nappies using different tutorials. One was too narrow between the legs, and the other one had a removable soaker pad, which was just too much trouble.

 But the third was just right!! 

Sweetpea wore those cloth nappies until she was toilet trained. And then ArrowBoy arrived and he wore them, and they would have even seen little Baby Rosebud through, if it hadn't had been that I met a lady who had fallen on hard times and needed them more than we did.

But then one day just after Rosebud's birth, that same tutorial found its way onto my Pinterest page, and we were happily reunited!! The result was a fresh batch of cotton nappies for our sweet baby girl!

To make these I use flannel for the outside and a stretch knit for the inside (what we call 'tracksuiting' here in SA!) I buy my fabric at shops that sell large off-cuts by weight. For the soaker pads that are sewn inside, I use either old towels or old toweling nappies (ask a few friends to keep their old towels for you when they clear out their linen cupboards!) The soaker pads are basically 3 layers of towelling which I sew together using my overlocker/serger, and which then get sewn onto the inside of the nappy.

The tutorial I used, and most others you can find on the Internet, shows you how to sew on velcro to fasten the nappies with. But because we had used our nappies so much, I found that the velcro eventually got so worn that I had to replace it - a real pain!. So this time around I adjusted the pattern a bit and used toweling patches that I sewed onto the outside of the nappy, so that I could use a Snappy fastener to keep it all together! I just cut the patches from a piece of toweling, overlocked the edges, and then sewed them onto the flannel.

A nice, snug fit!

* I find that 24 nappies is a good number to have

* I buy thin, inexpensive nappy liners that I put in the nappy before putting on baby. This reduces soiling, and they can be flushed.

* Waterproof pants fit nicely over the nappy to keep baby's clothes dry.

*  I have a large plastic bin with a flip-up lid next to the changing table. Soiled and wet nappies go in there until they are ready to be washed. I soak dirty nappies in hot water with a scoop of SterriNappi, and then launder as usual. 

The tutorial I use can be found here.
It is featured on a website called Diaper - click here to visit this site, which has many, many FREE tutorials for just about any style of nappy you can imagine, including cloth menstrual pads. 

There is a brilliant post called Diaper Sewing 101 on Sew, Mama, Sew. If you consider using cloth nappies at all, this will be a good place to start reading!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pinterest Inspired Projects Day 4 : A rainbow of hearts!

  One of my favourite pictures on my Pinterest Valentine's Day board, is one of a 'forest' of felt hearts-on-sticks. You can see the original post here - this crafty lady sewed up a bunch of brightly coloured felt hearts, stuffed them with a little polyfill, and used a glue gun to attach then to wooden dowels. I didn't like the idea of gluing them to the sticks, as this would give them a distinct front and back. But my sweet friend Georgia from Love and Lollipops recently made heart pencil toppers where she left a little opening at the bottom of the heart to push the pencil into. So I combined the two ideas and now have a pretty rainbow of hearts brightening our dining room!

Why not whip up a batch of these to brighten your rooms during this month of love?!

You will need:

Scraps of felt in any colours you like
Needle and embroidery thread
Wooden skewers (I used kebab sticks)

1. Cut a heart shape out of card.

2. Using the pattern, cut two felt hearts of every colour you are using.

3. Starting just a little above the bottom of the heart, sew the two pieces together using blanket stitch. Do not work all the way around, but stop just a few millimeters before the bottom, thus leaving an opening for your skewer to fit through.

4. Pop onto the skewers.

5. Collect a few empty glass jars and arrange your hearts inside. You may now decide to trim some of your skewers to make them shorter, or keep them all the same length. Have fun arranging them on your windowsill...or kitchen table...or surprise your children with a bouquet of hearts on their bedside tables!!

I had such a LOVE-ly time making these hearts! It was a lazy Friday afternoon, and we worked on the living room floor where Baby Rosebud could watch us sew all the pretty colours. The older two wanted to join in, so I gave them a needle and thread and cut them a set of their own hearts to sew. They did so well!! Here is Sweetpea's version - she used an overhand stitch!

While we worked, we told stories and laughed and I delighted in their questions and comments. And every time I look at these felt hearts, I cherish the memories of the time spent making them with my sweet, precious children. Truly a heartFELT project!! :-)

Linking this to

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pinterest Inspired Projects Day 3: Chair Envelopes

One of the most delicious joys in life for me is receiving a letter or a parcel in the mail.
And with 
Valentine's Day 
just around the corner,
 I thought it the perfect opportunity to share this joy with my children.
 But instead of letters in the mailbox, they'll be receiving little 
love notes from their Mama
in cute 
felt envelopes
tied to the backs of their chairs at the breakfast table! 

I was smitten with this idea from the moment I spotted it on Pinterest. From the picture I had seen I thought the pin might be for instructions on how to make your own, but it turned out that the one I saw was a store-bought one. It was featured on Blonde Designs Blog where Angie Gubler, a mother of two gorgeous little girls wrote: 

A few years ago, Pottery Barn Kids sold the most darling oversized felt envelopes that are meant to be affixed to a child's chair and filled with goodies on Valentine's Day. It seemed a waste to let the envelopes sit with nothing in them until February 14th. Hence, my husband and I decided last year, beginning on February 1st, to write little notes for our girls at night, leaving them in each of their envelopes. 

Isn't that just the sweetest idea?? 

Anyway, you KNOW how I love felt, and this really didn't look too complicated, so here's a special treat for you: I came up with a tutorial for making your own.


NOTE: Please do as I say, and not as I did - I took many of the pictures after the envelopes were nearly finished, so they are just a rough guide!

You will need:
* One piece of white felt (the size will depend on the size of the chair you use. See below.)
* A small scrap of red felt for the heart-shaped 'seal'
* Red embroidery thread
* A small piece of velcro
* Two pieces of red ribbon, each approximately 80cm long.
* A fabric marker

How to:

1. Measure your chair: Using a tape measure, measure the width of the back of the chair that you will be tying the envelope to. I made mine just slightly narrower than this measurement.

2. Now measure the height you want your envelope to be.

3. Draw he pattern: Using these measurements, draw a pattern onto paper. The length of your pattern will be twice the height of the envelope, plus 3/4's of the height (for the flap, which will be just a little shorter than the height of the envelope. I really hope this makes sense to you? Hope the picture helps!) Note: My completed envelope measures 19 x 32 cm, and the flap is 14 cm.

4. Pin your pattern to the white felt and cut the envelope out.

5. Sew on the velcro: Fold your envelope in the correct way and use a fabric marker to mark where your velcro needs to go. Now sew the rough part of the velcro to the inside of the flap, and the softer part to the outside of the envelope.

6. Add the decorative stitching:. Using your fabric marker, draw a faint guide on the bottom part of the envelope and using red embroidery thread, sew the lines as shown. For the lines on the flap, measure in about 1 cm from the edge and draw a faint line with your fabric marker to guide you.

7. Attach the seal: Cut 2 red heart shapes out of red felt.Stitch together using blanket stitch. Sew the heart onto the outside of the flap. (I made a smiley face for ArrowBoy as a more boy-friendly alternative to the heart)

8. Use your fabric marker to mark the place where the ribbons should go. Sew the ribbons in place on the back of the envelope. 

9. Stitch the sides of your envelope using either a straight stitch on your sewing machine, or a running stitch or even blanket stitch if you are choosing to stitch it by hand.

10. I trimmed the side edges of my envelopes with a sharp scissors. (I really, really want a pinking shears for projects like these, but for R442 I can feed my family for three days!!)

Now tie to the chairs and fill with sweet valentines! Voila! What pretty way in which to bless your little ones with affirmative and tender words! 

Linking this to ABC and 123's Show and Tell
It's Playtime on The Imagination Tree

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Pinterest Inspired Projects Day 2: Kermit the Frog Apples

One of my favourite 'go-to' boards on Pinterest is my Cute Food board - a quirky surprise at snack time is just the thing to make my little ones smile BIG!!
 So while the children went for a swim with their dad on a hot hot hot Sunday afternoon, I quickly whipped up two of these cuties as a fun little snack for when they got home!

Get the easy-to-follow instructions for
 Kermit's Green Apples with Peanut Butter Dip
and make snack-time a highlight for them today!!

Poor little guy's eyes were irritated by the chlorine
from the swimming pool, but he loved the surprise!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pinterest Inspiration Day 1: Glitter Shoes fit for a princess!!

    I couldn't think of a nicer way to kick off this series of posts than by sharing a super fun little project featuring heaps of glue and glitter - two of the most loved craft materials in our home!!

  It all started with a bit of prideful embarrassment on my side, to be honest. See, a while ago Sweetpea received a pair of silver/grey ballet pumps from a sweet friend of mine. They were gently-worn hand-me-downs and a size too big, so I was going to pack them away for a future winter's wearing (or quietly give them away), but my little girl fell in love with them on the spot and no amount of persuasion could tear them from her feet. I indulged her in the end and hoped that in a day or two she would tire of walking around in slightly-too-big-shoes. Mmmmm. Well. She didn't. And she insisted on wearing them everywhere we went. If it wasn't bad enough that they were too big, I also really do not like such dull colours on my girls. But she merrily went traipsing around in colourful  dresses, with these drab little pumps that made me cringe at the very sight of them...

  And then one evening I spotted a tutorial on Pinterest for making 
glitter shoes!

    There are quite a few tutorials for doing these all over the Web, so I read two or three and then rummaged through my craft drawers to see what colour glitter I could find. (It was 2 days before Christmas and I was not going to risk being trampled to death by over-zealous shoppers in a mall just for a little bottle of glitter, so we had to make do with what was in the house.) And what was in the house was P..P..P..P...PURPLE!!!

   I knew that if I ruined the grey pumps my daughter's heart would break, and being a little skeptical about this project (it just seemed too simple) I decided to try it on a pair of past-their-prime Mary Janes. And here, my friends, is the result:

      OK, so it's a really, really wild shade of purple, but oh boy, you cannot begin to imagine the squeals of delight from my four year-old when I presented her with these babies!! And if you want to win Mommy-of-the-Year too, here's how you go about it:

Step 1
Find a pair of scuffed-but-loved shoes.
I gave mine a quick once-over with sandpaper to give it a slightly rougher surface for the glue to cling to.

Step 2
Gather your supplies:
* Mod Podge / Deco Podge
* Glitter in a colour of your choice (you can also mix together few colours, like I did when I eventually painted the grey ballet pumps)
* A bowl for mixing (I lined mine with foil for easy clean-up)
* A paint brush

Step 3
Mix together the glitter and podge in the mixing bowl. I used about 3/4 of the bottle of glitter pictured above, and about 1/3 cup of podge.

Step 4
Apply the glitter-and-glue mix in thin layers.
The photo below shows Sweetpea's shoes after the first coat. I was still skeptical by this point, but after two more coats we were in Glitter Shoe Heaven, so just keep applying the glitter glue until you achieve the required effect. 

And so how DID the once drab little ballet pumps turn out?? Glad you asked!

Here they are after the final coat was applied:

Sparkly, yes, but lacking a little pizzazz. So I added a bow and a button...

And methinks Cinderella might be green with envy!! 

I was most surprised by how soft and flexible the shoes remained! And no, we have not had a single piece of glitter on the carpet. She's worn these everyday for over a month now, and if it hadn't been for the fact that she also climbs trees and kicks rocks with them, they still would have looked just as lovely!! Now, I saw some pumps in my own size at Ackermans the other day for next to nothing. What do you think of ruby red a la Dorothy?!!


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