DIY chalkboard magnets crafting

So after I did my chalkboards (tutorial here), I had some very small offcuts of chalkboard stickyback vinyl just sitting around, looking sad and lonely. When I got another Amazon delivery, I finally had a box I could turn into these super-cute DIY chalkboard magnets!

If you want to make your own, you will need:

Chalkboard stickyback vinyl (UK Amazon) (US Amazon)

Some cardboard (the corrugated brown stuff works best)

Magnet tape (UK Amazon) (US Amazon)

Scissors

Chalkboard pens (UK Amazon) (US Amazon)

You can make the little chalkboards by following my easy DIY chalkboard tutorial. For magnets, make them small (2×3 inches or 5x7cm rectangles work perfectly but other shapes and sizes are also good).

Write a cute message on your tiny chalkboards. If you suck at calligraphy/lettering as much as I do, draw the outline of your chalkboard onto a piece of paper first and plan out where to place the letters. My first chalkboard worked perfectly first time and all the letters went exactly where I wanted. The second one took about 7 attempts of cleaning it off and starting again because I just kept messing it up. Drawing out a plan helped me a lot.

Let the chalkboards dry thoroughly before doing anything else with them. This should take about 5 minutes. I made a little door sign for my baby’s bedroom out of a slightly bigger piece at the same time (I’ve skewed the bottom line to the left slightly on the room sign as he is getting a brother or sister in 6 months’ time so I will want to change it to “little ones” but not yet):

Once you have the chalkboards ready, turn them over and cut 3-4 strips of magnet tape (you might want to use less but I like them to stick really well to the fridge when they’re holding up baby art). The magnet tape should be about 1cm smaller than the edge of the magnet. Peel back the protective film and stick the magnet tape onto the back of the chalkboards. Press down firmly.

Voila! You’re ready to put up some baby artwork. Or a shopping list. Or your favourite postcard. The sky is the limit!

You could even use these for gifts, although I will say I’m not 100% happy with the finish, because it scratches easily. To figure out how to make these into gifts, I will do some experimenting with varnish spray to see if it preserves the writing. However, the flipside of that is once the writing has been fixed to the chalkboard, there’s no option to wipe it off and change it to something else.

I loved making these chalkboard magnets for the versatility and they’re an easy way to bring a classy look to your refrigerator. I’m using mine to display baby art that my little one made with these Crayola Finger Paints (here in the US, in a bigger pack).

How to make recycled chalkboards (without paint)

This is a super-easy home recycling or upcycling project. I love this project because I have ADHD and chalkboards around the house help me keep track of things. This is really simple to make and you don’t need any specific crafting skill or equipment.

Do you have old cardboard boxes lying around? All you need to make a load of chalkboards are the following:

1. Some cardboard boxes.
2. This chalkboard Fablon stickyback plastic (you can write on it with chalk pens). Similar in the US here.
3. A pair of scissors

That is literally it.

How to make your chalkboards

Cut your cardboard down to the right size.

Place the cardboard on an unrolled length of Fablon. When cutting the Fablon, make sure to leave about 1-2cm around each side of your piece of cardboard so it can stick properly (I judge this with the squares on the backing paper).

Cut a diagonal line in each of the four corners of the Fablon to help it fold over onto the cardboard.

Now carefully remove the backing paper and line your card against it. Do a little at a time to avoid any air bubbles or creases and press it down moving toward the unfinished part of the chalkboard.

Last, fold the edges over, one at a time, and press them down. Cut any extra bits off.

Voila, you have a chalkboard. Now you can get some chalkboard pens and start drawing on them. The Chalkola chalkboard pens I use are here (or here in the US). To remove chalkboard pen ink from your chalkboard, use a wet cloth. The longer the paint is on the board, the more likely it is to stain.

You can also do the same project with whiteboard plastic, available here (or here in the US). The result is less pretty (IMO) but more functional for things like a classroom where you want to get feedback from your kids as part of your AfL strategy.

Level up your chalkboards: Make them magnetic!

Buy a sheet of sticky magnets, or magnet tape, and stick them to the back of your chalkboard. If it’s not sticking to your fridge very well, double the amount of magnet stickers/tape you are using (as a rule, the amount of magnet should be abut 5-10% of the size of the chalkboard).

10 uses for your new chalkboards:

Write your weekly meal plan on a board and stick it to the fridge.

Have another chalkboard for your grocery list.

Make a beautiful sign welcoming people to your home.

Keep one empty for mindfulness – with a pack of chalkboard pens, you can doodle, draw or write down what’s bothering you then wash it away when you feel better.

Make a note of any important tasks you need to get done today and number them in order of importance (don’t overload it though). It’s really satisfying to wipe this board clean at the end of the day.

Give one to your child to entertain them. This is especially good as a high chair tray activity or a car activity that’s easy to clean up. Remember to get non-toxic chalks, and NEVER give children under 5 chalk pens.

Make tiny chalkboards for a doll’s house.

Frame postcard-sized chalkboards and write some inspirational messages on them. To make a frame, cut out a bigger piece of card so the inside edge is a little smaller than your chalkboard, and paint it white.

Use chalkboards to help organize your cleaning schedule by writing each cleaning task along with the date it was last done. When you clean that thing again, just wipe off the date and write the new one in! Stick this in the cleaning cupboard to keep it with your cleaning products.

Use chalkboards to help your child learn new words, you can draw a picture and ask them to tell you what it is, or to write the word under it, or give your child a word and ask them to draw it to tell you what it is.

What will you use your new chalkboards for? Let me know in the comments!

DIY your own baby vest extenders

My baby is huuuuge. He was born in the 98th percentile for length and has stayed there for the past 8 months. Vests… do not fit for very long. If this is your problem, you can either buy the next size up (which won’t fit around the tummy) or extend the ones you currently have. You can buy vest extenders but why buy what you can make?

vest extenders1

So here’s the quick and easy way to make your own vest extenders:

  1. Get a vest that you don’t mind cutting up. I chose a plain white one from a 6-9-month multi-pack and I want to extend 9-12 month vests.
  2. Check the poppers on the donor vest will work with at least most of the other vests you have. I had one vest from the US store Carter’s that didn’t have the same poppers as all my other vests so that one couldn’t be cut up to make a vest extender.
  3. Cut across the fabric in a straight line.
  4. Check you have both sides facing opposite directions (mine in the picture below is wrong although this will still fasten).
  5. Sew together using a good stitch such as blanket stitch or use a sewing machine.

diy vest extenders3

diy vest extenders2

Simple! Have you any tips for tall babies?

DIY No-Sew Montessori Toy

We’re starting a bit of Montessori right now, particularly in the way of getting Jellyfish to play with toys that show him how to sort, organize, or how things work. If you’ve looked into implementing Montessori in your playroom (or in our case, the square metre of floorspace in the living room where Jellyfish can play safely), you will know already that those toys are expensive. They are also not very versatile. So I am planning to make him some toys, and this is the first one I did.

I came across the idea of a posting toy, where it’s basically a cardboard box with a slot that kids can put objects in. Jellyfish isn’t really at that level, yet. So I flipped it around. Instead of posting things, he can pull them out. He loves opening things or taking them apart and he especially loves pulling all the tissues out of boxes if they’re left in his reach.

I originally thought play scarves could go into the box, but all the ones I’ve seen on Amazon are unreasonably expensive for what amounts to a few flimsy strips of fabric, and delivery is like end of June, by which time Jellyfish will be into something new, I’m sure. So I got an empty tissue box and some old baby vests that a) don’t fit him and b) have no other use. I can’t give these vests away because they are stained and no one wants stained second hand anything, and anyway the whole world is on lockdown so it’s hard to buy/sell/exchange preloved items.

tissue box toy3

Tissue box toy2

I cut the baby vests into squares. Pinking shears would have made a neater edge but we don’t have that luxury right now. Then I folded them into the tissue box so they would come back out again without him having to make much effort. It took like 5 minutes to make this toy so parenting effort = zero.

tissue box1

I have placed all the “tissues” inside the box and left it on his play mat. I can’t wait to see him playing with this in the morning! So they aren’t that filmy, flimsy scarf fabric that looks so shiny in all the baby sensory pics. I don’t know that he will care as long as he has a box full of things he can take apart. And in terms of sustainability, it has saved a tissue box and three stained baby vests from landfill. I am parenting like a boss tomorrow.

Full disclosure: Today was actually a total washout as Jellyfish has 5 teeth coming in and he is in a lot of pain and crying. Today was a TV day and I justified it by putting on Octonauts in French dub because that’s then educational, right? Yeah, you can change the language on Netflix via the subtitle menu and it alleviates my guilt. But tomorrow will be epic. And if not, there is wine. Which is also French and therefore educational.

What random things keep your baby entertained?

Home made avocado face mask

One of the most fun things I did while I was in the US was to make my own avocado face mask. It was SUPER moisturizing and all you need are these things:

  1. Half an avocado (per face).
  2. One sprig of fresh rosemary (finely chopped)
  3. A hand blender, smoothie maker, full-size blender or food processor (any of these will work).

Method:

Open your avocado by cutting around it in a circle from top to bottom then from bottom to top. Twist the avocado, and pull it apart. You should now have two neat halves of avocado (no drama).

Scoop out the insides from half the avocado (ignore that big seed in the middle). Put it in a bowl, if you’re using a hand blender, or put it straight into the jug/container for your blender/smoothie maker/food processor.

Make sure that rosemary is finely chopped. You don’t need much of the stem. When it’s all chopped up, there should be about a big teaspoon’s worth. If not, you may need to chop up another sprig. I use scissors to chop herbs because they don’t seem to cut as easily with knives. Add it to the blender.

Blend the ingredients until they have formed a smooth, creamy paste. If your avocado was unripe, it won’t turn creamy, in which case, add about a tablespoon of coconut milk and blend it again. Luckily, if you put it on your face before you realize (like I did… the hazards of inventing recipes I guess) you always have another half an avocado to work with. 😉

 

Now it’s ready, apply to your face and leave for 10-15 minutes. I found cotton wool helped remove it. As well as eliminating dry areas, I also found this face mask really helped my skin with redness. This mask gets very messy, though, so make sure you’re not wearing anything that might stain with avocado, and I applied it with my fingers, and then I couldn’t take any pictures because the avocado got all over my nails so I couldn’t unlock my phone!!

 

 

Princess Leia Tutorial: Hair, Make-Up and costume from Episode IV: A New Hope.

Princess Leia Tutorial: Hair, Make-Up and costume from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
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Princess Leia tutorial end result.
Princess Leia tutorial from Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope end result. I promise I’m wearing the floor length skirt in this picture!!

Princess Leia from Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope. I was very tired after such a long tutorial so thought I'd rest my head!
Princess Leia from Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope. I was very tired after such a long tutorial so thought I’d rest my head!

A close up of Princess Leia's face and hair from the Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope tutorial video.
A close up of Princess Leia’s face and hair (mmm… cinnabons) from the Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope tutorial video.

So this is what I spent all day doing yesterday.
Total cost: £12.
2x hair extension ponytails from China £1.56 each (ish).
1x white polo neck top in size UK16 (USA 12), £3.50 (ish).
1x long white skirt in size “one size fits all” (tschah), £4.50 (ish).

If I did it again I’d buy a better skirt because this one had gaps that were too wide and there is no WAY that it would fit anyone bigger than a 10 (US6). Additionally, they listed it as white and it’s *blatantly* cream so it clashes a bit with the top. These things don’t show up in the photos (because the skirt doesn’t really show up in the photos. I am wearing it in every picture and throughout the video, and it’s floor length).

I am actually thinking of buying a better skirt, but I already bought that one, and it’s not worth paying the return postage because it’s going to be nearly as much as the skirt was.

I would also get a top in a size 18 instead of a 16 because the advice on buying baggy clothing was lacking and I was worried I’d be lost in the longer sleeves which was redundant thinking.

Oh well, I am still very proud of this cracking tutorial, so here’s the video of how I did it:

Link here for those like me who prefer to watch on Youtube (I hate it when I can’t click the “like” button on an embedded video): https://youtu.be/oj3dAp5uWaw

I’ve made some comedy videos of Princess Leia (because a 7 hour tutorial ought to be used for something longer than just the tutorial) doing random stuff, they will be on Youtube pretty soon.
I’ll link them when they’re up.