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Build-A-Bear Box Dollhouse

*NOTE: We no longer shop at Build-A-Bear and I’m sure there are other moms who don’t as well. You can always ask friends for their box if their kids don’t want it and you still want to make the project. (:

     Any of you moms who have gone to Build-A-Bear Workshop, know you usually come home with a big cardboard box, which they refer to as a “house” for child’s your new stuffed friend. This box is cute for your child’s new friend to travel home in, but once home the new stuffed friend is removed and usually the box is forgotten about. My daughter would play with her box for a day, maybe two, then it didn’t have a use anymore. It ends up in trash or recycling (hopefully). I have felt bad that the boxes are getting wasted in massive quantities, and that’s when I came up with a fun idea – make a dollhouse out of it!

     This is simple, it doesn’t take much time at all, but you have the freedom to make it as detailed or simple as you like. You can add another floor with extra cardboard, put two Build-A-Bear boxes together to “add on an addition,” you can add wooden dollhouse furniture, whatever your child will love. I have been blessed with a daughter who adores the things I make for her, and she never notices when it doesn’t look professionally made. She quickly loses interest in fancy store bought toys, but always finds ways to play with the more simple toys, and the homemade toys. I am going to share with you how I made our dollhouse and you can add and change anything you like. We plan to take a trip to the craft store soon to pick up some cute little wooden furniture for her dolls to have in their new house.

          First step, tape down the bottom flaps inside. It doesn’t really matter how it looks when you tape it, you’re going to cover it up. I used clear packaging tape. I taped them down enough to stay down. You can also add some extra tape on the bottom on the outside of the box as well.

     Next, use a knife (be careful!) to cut out a bigger area for the door. You want the opening to be big enough for your child to see inside and reach their hands inside. Only cut 3 sides so that the door stays attached and can swing open. Once you’re done, take clear tape again and tape the little door that the store had pre-cut, and tape it shut. This way it’s now part of the big door and doesn’t get in the way. This door does not need to be cut perfectly and evenly. Children do not see what we consider to be flaws!

     Next, I added a doorknob. I found a piece of some plastic thing that had a round piece sticking out that was perfect to put into the door. I glued on a multi-colored puff ball for the knob. You can use whatever you like for your doorknob. My daughter likes the puff balls and it’s soft to touch. Just make sure it’s something they can grab to pull open the door.

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     Next, add “carpet.” I used some old fabric I had leftover. I put the box on top of the fabric, traced around it, cut it out, and used a glue stick to glue it in. You can use other types of glue if you prefer, I used what was handy. Again, this does not need to be perfect. However, if you want you can sew the edges or add embellishments if you like.

     Next, add little curtains. Again, this was very simply done. I had two little windows, one on each side. So I took a piece of fabric from the same big piece, estimated how much I’d need and cut. I then bunched it up in a few spots to give it that “curtain ruffle” kind of look. I glued it on a little above the window. You can do long curtains if you like, but I wanted to get as much light in the box as possible. Again, these don’t need to be perfect, and you can add whatever you like to them.

     Next, add a picture. Now, this can be a picture of your family, of your child, a cut out from a magazine, one of your child’s drawings, or those included pictures you get in a new picture frame. You can make more than one as well! I took a picture, added a paper frame, and then added sparkly puff balls to it. You can add glitter, little gems, shells, buttons, etc. to your frame. You can even make a wooden frame from popsicle sticks or something else. Again, you do what works for you!

image

     Next, I added a wall flower vase. I had this little flower in my mixed items box and no use for it until now. I took the lid from a small marker that had dried out, and I glued it to the wall of the box near my picture. You can add yours anywhere and use any kind of flowers.

     Next add a light of some sort. I decided to try a hanging light. I used a small plastic cup, the kind they give samples in at the stores. I poked a hole in the middle big enough for a thin piece of wrapping ribbon left over from a present. I traced the bottom of the cup on a piece of green paper to make the top part you see, and I poked a hole in the middle of that as well, then glued it onto the bottom of the cup. I tied a small knot on the end of the ribbon, measured how long I wanted it to hang, then I put the ribbon through the holes. Again, I traced the bottom of the cup but this time on a piece of yellow foam, to use for light. I glued that on the inside of the bottom of the cup, covering the ribbon knot. I cut out other small strips of foam to make beams of light. I used all scrap foam for this, I like to try and use up as much of our leftover craft scraps as possible. Once I was done gluing the little beams of light to the inside of the cup, I hung it from the middle of the box handle on the top. Now, the other handle has a cardboard piece that goes under the 1st handle. So I just cut a line down the middle of that cardboard piece so when you put the two handles together, and go to tuck that cardboard piece under to connect the handles, the ribbon for the light stays in the middle of the handles and doesn’t get pulled to the side.

     Next, I added a mailbox. We had a small metal mailbox for stamps that wasn’t really being used much. I took 3 popsicle sticks, glued and taped them together to make my stand thick, then sanded down the tops of them to make them flat, and attached the mailbox on top. I taped the mailbox to the dollhouse just to keep it in place. It’s a cute thing to add because I plan to make little felt “mail” for her to send to her dolls.

     That was the end of my work on it for the night. We will add furniture when she wants, and maybe some embellishments if she chooses. The great part about these boxes is that they are white with just the outlines of pictures on them, so to create the outside design of the dollhouse just let your child color it! This way they can add to their doll’s home and make it look how they like. It’s fun for them to take part in the creating process. (: Once the coloring is done you can add glitter or glitter glue, stickers, gems, any embellishments you want to add. It’s such a nice use for the box because it has a handle, which means this dollhouse is easy to carry and take with you. You don’t have to pay a lot to create it, which is great on your wallet! And the best part of all is that your child will enjoy it! They can use it will dolls, stuffed animals, little plastic animals, whatever they want. (:

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Weekly Links

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To My New Girlfriends
Holy Guacamole!
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Encouraging passionate learners … even when it’s not your thing
Why Learning Leads to Happiness
5 Ways To Breathe in a Breathless World
How to Work From Home Without Losing Your Mind

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Homemade Felt Horse

My daughter loves all things horses. As I was going through old emails to clean out my newsletter folder (yikes!) I found an email showing an activity involving sewing buttons on a felt pillow for children to practice doing buttons. Now I feel it is very valuable for children to learn tasks like that, but I think it’s a bit silly to waste materials when you can just give them a button up shirt on a hanger and let them practice. My daughter learned how to use buttons by doing it herself on her clothing. She’s gotten faster at in in time and I saved on materials. I like some of the Montessori concepts, but some of them can be accomplished with items already in the home. For the green me that is super important because I don’t like to waste things. So I decided just to make her a felt animal, and horse was the first option that came to mind. I found a picture of a horse online with a good body shape for tracing, printed out the picture and then cut out the horse.

Start with a picture cut out to trace

Next up I asked my daughter what colors she wanted her horse. She chose pink for one side and yellow for the other. So I laid my horse paper on the pink felt and traced it with the head facing right (I took the picture above before switching it around), and then traced it on the yellow paper with the head facing left. This way I could put the sides with ink on them from tracing facing each other on the inside.

Pick your first color of felt to trace it on

After I had traced the horse on each piece of felt I cut them out. I put them together with the inked side facing in and trimmed any areas I needed to so they would match almost perfectly.

After tracing I cut out each piece

I picked out green and yellow thread, my daughter’s two favorite colors, and did a little of each while sewing the horse up. I didn’t do anything fancy, and I sewed it all by hand. I prefer to sew some of her projects that way because I enjoy sitting down and spending time relaxing while I sew. She sat next to me doing school work – domestic bliss!

For the second piece make sure to trace facing the opposite direction!

Since I didn’t have any fluff on hand for stuff the horse, I improvised. I took some old sock and cut them into strips and squares to use for stuffing. It didn’t really need to be super soft since she’s going to play pretend with it more that cuddle with it. I used two of the ankle socks for women. They worked out nicely and I love reusing things!

Begin sewing pieces together – I did it by hand

There were smaller areas such as the legs that were easier to stuff as I sewed, that way I wasn’t trying to fill them from one top opening. So I stuffed the legs and then sewed the tail, and I stuffed that as I sewed as well. And as I sewed up the back I stuffed the horses bottom and stomach. This just made it easier since I wasn’t using something like fluff, which is much more pliable.

Add stuffing as you go especially with smaller parts

This is the pink side of her horse, fully stuffed and all sewed up! She absolutely loved it! 🙂 I think my daughter prefers the toys I make her and her wooden toys over anything else. The yarn dolls I made for her get lots of use still.

Finished pink side 🙂

And this is the yellow side of the horse. I love how it turned out honestly, and it really wasn’t that hard. You just need two paper size pieces of felt, scissors, thread, a needle, stuffing and a print out of the animal shape you want to do. She’s already asked me to make her more animals so I’m looking forward to that! 🙂

Finished yellow side 🙂

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Weekly Links

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How To Make Yarn Dolls

Messy yarn dolls with hair
(picture from Google search)

Recently in one of my searches for fun homemade crafts to do with my daughter, I discovered a lovely pictures of yarn dolls. My daughter saw them and got so excited, asking me to please, please make her some 🙂 I looked online and found a lot of instructions for making them. I put together my own instructions with what I found, and I’m sharing it with you below.

Thick yarn doll
(picture from Google search)

To start with, you need any color of yarn, you can use different colors for different parts if you like, scissors, a piece of cardboard or a book. I used yarn that was a mixture of colors. The length of cardboard or book will the the length of your girl doll. With the boy doll you need something about 2 inches longer, because when you braid his legs you loose length. Here are some size guidelines: Large 16 1/2 inches, Medium 9 inches, Small 7 inches. Now for the yarn, I had no idea what kind of yarn to get. I ended up getting something thinner than usual so I had to wrap it a lot more times. I wrapped mine 100 times, and our dolls were good sized, but a little thin. With a thicker yarn you can wrap less or more, some instructions suggest wrapping it 200 times. This is up to you to decide how thick you want your dolls.

Put your string under the yarn to tie it off at the top
(picture from aokcorral.com)

You start by taking putting the cut side of the yarn at the top of your board/book. Wrap around it, so it is tucked under the pieces of yarn you are wrapping. Wrap the board as many times as you want for the thickness/thinness you want in your dolls. Once you are finished wrapping, cut the string and tuck it under the pieces you’ve wrapped, just like you did with the beginning piece. Cut another piece of yarn, about 10 inches long, and slide the piece under one side you have wrapped. Then pull the two ends together to tie a knot at the top of the board/book, holding all of the wrapped yarn. This will be the top bow for the girl doll, or you can make a loop to hang your dolls on, or just tie it off and cut it for the boy doll.

Remove yarn from board
(picture from littleaustinite.com)

And tie at neck to give doll a head
(picture from littleaustinite.com)

Carefully slip the yard off of the board/book. Cut another piece of yarn 10 inches long. This second piece will be used to make the head of the doll. You can make your doll’s head any size, most are usually 1-2 inches. You can make a head two ways: Just take the string, put it 1 inch below the tie on top, and tie it off to make the head. Or you can make a small ball of yarn to go in the middle of the area you are making for the head to give it more thickness and firmness. Once you’ve tied this knot, make it into another bow for the girl doll, or tie it off and cut it for the boy doll.

Take the cut piece and braid it
(picture from aokcorral.com)

Next you will make the arms. You can make your doll’s arms the same length as your doll or a little shorter. You want to wrap the board/book half the times you did for the body. This time tie the yarn off about 1 inch from the edge of the board. Cut about a half way from where you tied and the edge of the board. Remove the tied yarn. Divide the yarn into 3 sections and braid it to the bottom, tying it off about a 1/2 inch from the bottom. Now, if you want longer strands at the end, you can do so. Just tie the yarn on the board/book 1 inch above the edge, then cut at the edge, not above it, and when you are finished braiding it tie the end 1 inch from the bottom. The nice thing about these dolls is you can vary them however suits you! (With the girl doll, I cut the piece in half and tied off both ends to that I could use the other piece for the boy’s arms. This was much easier for me.)

Split the yarn loop in the middle and slide the arms in
(picture from aokcorral.com)

Once you have finished the braid and tied the end off, find the middle and tie it off 1/2 inch from the middle on each side. Then cut the braid in the middle, between the two ties. Now you have 2 sets of arms – one for each doll. I feel this is a better way to do it because it saves you yarn and time, you only have to braid arms once. Now open up your doll in the middle of the yarn loops under her neck tie. Put the arms in that opening and close the yarn over them. Lift the doll’s arms up so you can tie under the arms tight enough so the arms don’t come out. Take another 10 inch piece of yarn, and tie it as close under the body with the arms as you can. For the girl doll make another bow, for the boy doll tie it and cut it close.

My finished girl doll!

Next cut the loops at the bottom of the doll’s body. If this is a girl doll – you’re done! She’s adorable and ready to be loved and played with. If you think her arms might not stay in well, you can always sew them to the back of her yarn body a little, same with the boy doll. Now, if you are making a boy doll you aren’t done yet. You need to split the bottom part of the body you just cut, into 2 equal sections. Braid each section, making 2 braided legs. Tie off the legs 1/2 inch from the bottom. Now – you’re done! You have successfully made a boy girl and a girl doll! 🙂

My finished girl and boy dolls!

Do not worry if your dolls aren’t perfect! Mine sure weren’t! But my daughter didn’t care one bit, she took them and happily played with them. These make wonderful gifts, and I feel they mean so much more because they were handmade. I feel anything you make has more value because you put your time, energy and love into something for another person. 🙂

Finished thick yarn dolls with hair
(picture from aokcorral.com)

You can make varieties of these dolls, making a girl doll with braided legs if you’d like, adding yarn hair, adding embellishments to the body, etc. These are created by you so add to them what you like!

I made our girl doll first and my daughter was beyond thrilled! 🙂 She absolutely adored her. When I made the boy doll, she spent the evening playing with the both of them continually. She truly enjoyed the dolls and still does! This is an awesome and simple handmade gift that is extra special because YOU made it just for them!

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A Mother’s Day Balcony Garden

     Part of my Mother’s Day present from my sweet little girl was to spend our afternoon planting seeds we got from from the store and our trip to the Botanic Gardens. I have to say – what a wonderful way to spend my day! 🙂

     We live upstairs, as you can tell from the picture, so we have to plant in containers. We don’t let that deter us though! We used pots we had from last year, plus glass vases we had in the house, and even the bottom of plastic gallon jugs. For us it’s reduce, reuse and then recycle. For our humidifier you have to buy distilled water and I have been looking for a good use for the jugs! This worked out nicely.

     My daughter has a responsibility/chore list to help her keep track of the things she needs to do to help around the house. Watering the plants has been on it, but until now we just had one plant – a palm tree in our living room. She was thrilled to add more plants for her to water! I even created a water sprinkler from a plastic water bottle I had picked up at church one day when I forgot my metal one & was extremely parched. Now it’s got a second use which makes both of us happy – she loves to water with it! 🙂

     The rose plant was part of my Mother’s Day gift from here. Below is a picture of all of it. She was such a sweet girl and picked these out on her own. The 2 carnations we got at church but she wanted them to be with the single rose she picked out for me because the color matched the dress I wore that day. 🙂 I had a very blessed day with a daughter I am so very thankful for!

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Weekly Links

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9 Essential Skills Kids Should Learn
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Stress: The Overlooked Toxin
Managing your wardrobe: pregnancy, post-partum and all those sizes in between

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New – Weekly Links

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I get tons of articles, posts and newsletters with great information I’d love to share so I’m going to start-up a Weekly Links  full of fun and informative links just for you! 🙂

8 Simple Ways To Live More Toxin Free This Spring
The Do’s and Don’ts of Backyard Composting
Make Your Own Mineral Veil
Too Many Choices??
Single Parent Wisdom
Four Heart-Stopping Myths on Drowning Every Responsible Parent Should Know
Lowest Common Denominator Mothering
7 Ways to Add More Veggies to Meals You’re Already Cooking
Bye Bye Binkie!
Looking for Love Like a Peasant

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