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Archive for May, 2011

Today I decided to try out making a floral hair accessory as another trial run for a potential MOPS project.  I had bought some spring floral stems at a 75% off sale at Michael’s – so about $0.50 each – and I thought that with a few modifications they would make a super-cute barrette.

I rummaged around in my bathroom until I found this sad, worn, and tarnished hair clip:

Yay for recycling!  This can be a good way to give old items some new life.

It’s really up to the individual crafter what style of hair barrette to use for this project.  I know craft stores generally stock barrette bases with the other jewelry-making supplies.  I opted for a smaller size barrette because that was what I had on hand.  Smaller barrettes will work better for single, small flowers, while a larger barette will give you space to play with arranging multiple flowers or to use larger silk flowers like roses.

I was really inspired by this post at Salty Pineapple on modifying floral stems into layered fabric flower masterpieces.

I selected a couple of inexpensive floral stems that I liked and that had complimentary colors:

From those stems, I removed a couple of individual flowers, being careful to remove all plastic stems from the petals:

Then, I layered the flowers the way I liked and secured the layers together with a flower-shaped brad in the middle:

I cut a small piece of white ribbon to match the length of my barrette and cut the ends at an angle to prevent fraying.  I then heated my glue gun to low and attached the ribbon to the metal barrette.  I decided to use a low setting because the ribbon is fairly delicate.  After some trial and error, I discovered that it worked best to place a small amount of glue on one end of the barrette and attach the ribbon at that spot.  I then continued alternately applying glue and smoothing the ribbon along the barrette.  I found that if I applied too much glue all at once, it dried before I could get my ribbon attached.  Working in segments produced a much nicer and more secure result.

After the ribbon was dry, I applied a small amount of hot glue to the back of my flower and adhered it to the ribbon on my barrette.  Here is the finished project:

All in all, this project took 15 minutes or less and resulted in a cute bow that any little (or big!) girl would be excited to wear!

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I decided to get in on the marble magnet craze and make some for myself.  After reading a couple of different tutorials around the web, I thought that this looked like a good craft to try for our MOPS group next year.  Really, I just wanted to find an excuse to buy some Mod Podge and play.

I primarily used the tutorial at Frugal Girls.  There’s also a good tutorial at not martha, although she uses a different adhesive.  I’m sure there are tons of other tutorials for this project on the internet, but I thought I would share what I did and learned in the process of trying out this project.

This is an incredibly easy and inexpensive project to do.  Here is the supply list:

  • Flat, round marbles – usually stocked with the floral supplies.  I found a bag of 20-25 clear marbles at the dollar store.  Craft stores also carry these, but they may be more expensive there.
  • 1/2″ or 3/4″ round magnets (depending on the size of your marbles) – I bought mine at the hardware store, but I found them to be cheaper at Michael’s.
  • Scrapbooking paper scraps, magazine clippings, stamped paper – whatever you want to use as the background for the magnet.  Small, bright prints and pictures work best – especially images and prints with high contrast, although it depends on the look you want.  Photo paper does not work well with the Mod Podge, but another type of adhesive may work better.
  • Mod Podge – I used matte, but glossy would also work.  The large 16-ounce jars run about $10 regular price at our local crafting stores, so around $6 with the usual 40% off coupon.  Smaller jars are naturally cheaper.
  • Glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Foam brush

These are generally the steps that I followed to create my marble magnets:

  1. Select the paper you wish to use as the background for your magnet.  Lay the marble on the paper and center over the design as you want it to appear on the finished magnet. 
  2. Use a pencil to trace the shape of the marble onto the paper.  Cut slightly inside the lines.  Trim down your paper as needed to fit the shape of the marble.  It doesn’t really matter if the edges of your paper are perfectly round because you won’t really be able to see them from the front of the magnet.  As I made several, I found it was just as easy to hold the marble and paper together and cut free-hand around the perimeter. 
  3. Apply a thin coat of Mod Podge to the flat side of the marble.  This is about how much I applied:
  4. Adhere the right side of your paper circle to the marble, adjusting the paper to the orientation you prefer while wet.  Wipe up any excess Mod Podge on the marble.  It’s okay if a little bit dries on there – it’s pretty easy to scrape off with a fingernail.
  5. Allow the marble to dry before attaching the magnet.  I found that it generally took around 10 minutes for the paper to be set enough to glue on the magnet.  Without time constraints, it’s probably preferable to allow the marble to dry for 20 to 30 minutes.
  6. Using a glue gun set to “hot,” attach the magnet to the back of the marble.  Allow ample time for the glue to harden before using your new magnet. 

Here are some pictures of magnets I completed:

I really liked the pink paper, but the pattern is almost a little too subtle to be viewed from a distance.  Ultimately, I thought that the high contrast of the black & white paper worked the best for my refrigerator magnets.

A note of warning with images printed on photo paper: For some reason, the Mod Podge does not seem to want to dry and harden on coated photo paper with this project.  I tried a photo paper magnet, and it still looks like it hasn’t dried 24 hours later.  I’m still waiting to see if it will completely harden over time or if the coating on the paper is going to completely prevent the Mod Podge from hardening correctly.

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Over the past month, the pastor at our church has been doing a series on moving from insecurity in the world to security in Christ.  When I first heard the announcement about the series, I had a feeling that I would be challenged in some uncomfortable but positive ways.

Oh man.

I must confess, sometimes I feel like I should be the founder of a new group called “Insecure Individuals Anonymous.”   I could probably benefit from that 12-step program – especially the step in which you have to submit your life to a higher power.  I’ve realized that I have a difficult time with the idea of “let go and let God.”

Today’s sermon focused on the life of King Saul.  The book of I Samuel provides an account of how Saul came to be king of Israel.  Although God’s plan had not included placing a king over Israel, after much pleading from the Israelite people, God decided to give them a king.  He led Samuel, his prophet, to select Saul as the first king of the Israelites.

As the pastor pointed out, it only took about 7 verses for Saul to go from being appointed king of Israel to showing himself to be a very insecure person who had difficulty trusting in God’s plan.  At several points in the scriptures, Saul went against God’s plan because he was anxious or felt he knew better.  At one point he began erecting statues of himself – a misguided attempt to establish his own importance.  He became jealous when David came onto the scene and began showing him up.

After listening to and reading along with the account of Saul’s life, I was a bit horrified to see similarities between Saul and myself.  I know I sometimes become anxious and have difficulty waiting patiently on an answer from God about different situations in my life.  I have difficulty letting go of my own desire to control the direction of my life and letting God take me and use me in the ways He wants.  And it’s funny, during those times when I can let go and try to open myself to letting God use me to reach others, I feel the most at peace.  Now, that’s something to strive for more on a daily basis.

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Happy Memorial Day!

The Memorial Day weekend is officially in full swing!  I got the weekend started off nicely with a scrapbooking party with another mom I met through an online mommy group.  Nothing like some me-time to get in the holiday mood!  I think our big plans for the rest of the weekend include hiding out and becoming hermits.  I’m hoping to get some craft projects completed – maybe do a little sale shopping, too…

What are your plans for the weekend?

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I came across this article today on a new study being released next month that demonstrates a link between delayed use of prenatal vitamins and later risk of autism diagnosis.  Here is a link to the abstract for the article, set to appear in the journal Epidemiology:

http://journals.lww.com/epidem/Abstract/publishahead/Prenatal_Vitamins,_One_carbon_Metabolism_Gene.99561.aspx

This is an interesting direction for autism research.  Given the popularity of vitamin supplements and injections as a homeopathic treatment for autism, this study makes some interesting strides in attempting to understand what, if any, link exists between vitamin use and autism.

Researchers selected a sample of children diagnosed with autism between the ages of 2 and 5 and then selected a control population of same-aged children selected to match the original sample on certain demographic characteristics.  Mothers were asked to recall and report on their use of vitamins and other substances prenatally.  Researchers then used a logistic regression analysis to predict the odds of having an autism diagnosis based on mother’s report of her prenatal vitamin use and on genetic data.

Results from the study suggest that among women who carry certain genes associated with increased autism risk, delaying use of prenatal vitamins for as little as a month significantly increased the odds that their child developed autism.  This is an interesting finding given that most of us are aware of the importance of taking prenatal supplements containing folic acid to promote fetal neural development and prevent diseases like spina bifida.  Since the building blocks of the brain and nervous system begin to develop during that first month of gestation, it makes some sense to think that some of the nuances of development could have an impact on later development of autism.

There are several important caveats to keep in mind when thinking about this sort of study:

1. The findings rest heavily on the mothers’ ability to remember and accurately report on their prenatal vitamin use 2 to 5 years after the fact.  While some mothers may have a fabulous memory of their vitamin use, others may have difficulty remembering or may stretch the truth about their vitamin use to project a certain image of themselves.  These sorts of recall and report biases are problems that pervade most psychological research, but they are important to keep in mind.

2. While the results are statistically significant, the confidence intervals published in the study suggests that there was significant variation in the data.  In plainer English, this means that there was a lot of variety in the responses.  While there was a significant trend toward vitamin use predicting autism diagnosis, there were still some women who did not use vitamins and had a typically developing child while some women who religiously took their vitamins had a child with autism.

So, overall, this is a significant and interesting finding that is important to furthering our understanding of how to reduce risk for developing autism; however, further research is definitely needed to see if these results can be replicated in other samples to verify that this was not just a statistical anomaly.  Also, it would be interesting to see if there are certain vitamin deficiencies that are more associated with higher risk of autism than others.

On a separate note, though, I would encourage anyone to read these newspaper articles on scientific studies with a critical eye.  Scientific research is a long process and depends on multiple replications to establish fact.  Just because one study found a correlation does not mean that not taking vitamins at the beginning of your pregnancy caused your child’s autism.  It is only one piece of a much more complicated and incomplete picture of the development of autism.  The important take-away message is that, as always, taking prenatal vitamins as early as possible in the process is advisable.

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MOPS Crafts!

After finding out a couple of weeks ago that I am going to be the new Crafts Coordinator for my MOPS group, I’ve been busily researching ideas for our meetings next year.  This has been a great excuse to peruse the archives on some of my favorite crafting blogs as well as searching out new blogs for material.  Gotta love having a reason to waste hours trolling the internet!

I think this is going to be a really fun creative challenge.  The way our meetings are set up, we have approximately 30 minutes for crafts at the end of each meeting.  When you also factor in the fact that we have to plan for 20-25 moms to finish the craft in that time, it makes for some challenging constraints.  Plus, not all of our moms are very interested in craft time, so projects have to appeal to a wide range of skills and interests.

With all that in mind, I’ve started working on some trial runs of different craft ideas that I have found across the internet.  I have to say, I’m feeling pretty good about the crafts I’ve found so far!  I’m hoping to provide a wide variety of project ideas to keep our moms interested and engaged in craft time without alienating the non-crafty types.  I’m also looking forward to blogging about some of my trial runs here!

Stay posted!

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I came across an interesting article in the First 5 LA newsletter today.  The article was focused on how online social networking tools and sites can be beneficial to new parents who are feeling isolated.  Here is the link to take a look for yourself:

http://www.first5la.org/articles/feeding-and-tweeting-connecting-new-parents-online

I really appreciated that a respected group like First 5 was promoting the benefits of participation in online discussion groups and other networking sites.  I know that when I had my baby, I spent an inordinate amount of time on the Baby Center discussion forums, reading about other people who were facing the same issues and struggles I was facing.  Since I live far from my family of origin, and we didn’t have many friends in the area before having our child, going online was an easy way to make connections to others when it was otherwise hard to get out of the house.

I also appreciated how normal these online behaviors seemed when reading the article.  I know I have been a little hesitant to tell others that I participate in online discussion forums.  Somehow it still seems slightly socially unacceptable to socialize with virtual strangers online.  I worry that others will think that there’s something wrong with me if I have virtual friends instead of  or in addition to the real life kind.  Fortunately, I think that the growing popularity of social networking, online dating, and the like have really reduced the overall stigma of using the internet to socialize and connect with others.

Don’t get me wrong – I think that there is a balance to be struck between finding social support online and connecting with others in person.  One site that I really appreciate is The Mommies Network.  Rather than being just one site, they have formed a network of online discussion boards across the United States & abroad.  The idea is really neat – moms can go onto their local website to connect and discuss issues in a virtual space, but then they can also participate in real-life activities with the same moms.  It’s the best of both worlds – and what’s not to like about that?

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