I loved an entire series of photos I took of Dylan on his birthday last month. Trying to pick one or two became challenging so I settled on 6. I love how they capture his personality. Dylan is a very happy child who laughs a lot (much like his mother!).

Here's a "behind the scenes" glimpse at what was making him laugh - watching his father and his grandparents' dog, Tia, wrestle a toy. :)

Supplies: Simply Tiffany Studios 52 Thursday Templates Template No 22; Sara Schmutz's School Is In papers; Deena Rutter's Whole Lotta Love kit; Sketch Rockwell & Myriad Pro fonts.


Sidewalk Painting

Dylan & I had a great time mixing up some sidewalk paint using corn starch, food coloring & water thanks to directions from Pink and Green Mama blog. There are no specific measurements - just mix the 3. I second her suggestion of combining the corn starch and food coloring in a muffin tin, carry outside, and then add water. Keeps the mess outside! Very simple project and lots of fun. It kept Dylan entertained for about 30 minutes which is huge for any craft project so we'll definitely be doing this again.

Our paints mid-use ... a little mixed up but still fun!

Focused on painting.

Our completed artwork.


Cars Pillowcase

Dylan finally got his own pillow a few months ago in a last minute, anything to get the child to go to sleep in his own bed moment (he never sleeps in our bed but wanted to lay there with his head on my pillow so I offered to give him his own). I wanted to get him a special pillowcase for it. Something fun and all his own. I looked for a Cars sheet set thinking it could be part of our switch from crib to toddler bed. But most came with a comforter (which we don't need) and he's still very happy in his crib & doesn't use a top sheet so no need to buy the full set. Instead, I pulled two fabrics from my stash and bought a third from Etsy to make him his own special Cars pillowcase. He loves it which makes this mama very happy. :)

In his crib with his Seahorse & Cars blanket (not exactly a match but he's happy!)
Detail of the fabrics

Supplies: cotton fabrics; Coats & Clark threads; pillowcase pattern from AllPeopleQuilt.com - Pattern 15.


Nursery Rhymes kit

It's new release day at Design House Digital and Sara Schmutz has a gorgeous new kit available called Nursery Rhymes. Get it today at 30% off. The full kit contains 36 papers, 2 alphabets, and 25 elements. Although you could use it for a number of different page themes beyond baby, I used to as an opportunity to dig back two years into my digital photos and scrap about Dylan's early days. :)

My sweet sleeping baby at 9 days old ...

Supplies - Sweet Dreams: Sara Schmutz's Nursery Rhymes and Summer Picnic (stitching only) kits; Commercial Script and Janda Everyday Casual fonts. Based on sketch by Kelly Purkey - September Super Sketches. The gray border around page is for viewing on web only.

First visits with his paternal great grandparents and how he came to get his middle name of 'Walter' ...

Supplies - W: Sara Schmutz's Nursery Rhymes kit; Century Old Style font.


Edible Paints

Last week I attempted making edible paints. Anything with "edible" in it is good to me so I don't have to worry about either child putting it into their mouth. And anything with "paint" in it is good to Dylan who gets so very excited when he hears that word.

The paint was made up of water, cornstarch and food coloring. The recipe I used came from The Imagination Tree:
Mix 2 cups of cornstarch and 1 cup of cold water together in a large bowl. Bring 4-1/2 cups of water to a boil. Pour in the boiling water one cup at a time into the cold mixture and stir well. Separate into small containers and add liquid food coloring.
It worked well although it made way too much for us (I tried to keep the leftover to use later but it was a bit gross after a couple of days and resulted in a science experiment - yikes!). So if you're doing it for a smaller group, I highly recommend making only 1/3-1/2 the recipe. That said, we had a great time.

One of the things Dylan loves about painting is using the brushes. This time it was a finger painting project (the paint was too thick in my opinion to mess with brushes). The texture and lack of brushes seemed to throw him off a bit at first.

Lily was quite intrigued by the entire thing. She had a good time squishing it through her fingers and smashing it on the paper.

Since I expected this to be messy and the weather was nice, we did our painting outdoors. Dylan sat at his Little Tikes picnic table wearing his art smock. And I put Lily in her Bapron in Dylan's booster seat behind him in the shade. This gave them each their own space to do their art and still interact. Dylan seemed to have the most fun grabbing more paint and putting it on Lily's paper for her to spread.

The texture began to get to Dylan though - he wanted it off his hands.

I set the camera aside and grabbed a piece of paper to give it a shot myself hoping to encourage him a bit more. It worked for a while. Truthfully, I found the texture kind of fun and might just have to make some to play with during their naps one day. ;)

Our completed masterpieces (top - Dylan, bottom - mine, right - Lily):



Another Pinterest inspired project, I found a link to the tutorial for making Baprons (baby aprons). I'm trying to get my niece involved in some of our art projects and thought she needed a little apron to help protect her clothes. I thought about making her something similar to Dylan's art smock, but it would definitely need to be smaller. When I saw the Bapron tutorial, I knew I found a winner. The idea was so cute, I decided to make a second one for Lily's little buddy, Hayes.

Front with colorful cotton prints
Back with soft flannel
Checking each other out in their new Baprons. Adorable!

Supplies: Dino Dudes & Ring Dot by Michael Miller; pink floral unknown; light green cotton and white & brown solid flannel from JoAnn Fabrics; Coats & Clark threads.


Shoot and Edit: Bright & Colorful

Week 32: Bright & Colorful SOOC
I started this week's edit by adjusting the levels on the photo. Then used Lustrous Pop action from the CoffeeShop Blog to brighten. I actually had the image a bit brighter, but found the white too blinding! So I dulled it back a bit. Then added a vignette and used the Color Bar template also from the CoffeeShop Blog.

Week 32: Bright & Colorful edit w/ color bar

Join in the fun with Jill Samter Photography and Ramblings and Photos:


Custom Baby Banner

I love getting custom requests. Making any project is fun, but when you are asked by someone to make something specific - well, you know it's special. That's very true when it's for a new baby's nursery.

After seeing the birthday banner I created last month, a friend requested a banner with her son's name. The nursery has Caribbean colors and she picked 4 gorgeous batik fabrics for me to use.

Simple. Fun. I hope they enjoy it just as much as I enjoyed making it for them. :)

Supplies: batik cotton fabrics from Robert Kaufman and Hoffman Fabrics; white cotton unknown; Coats & Clark thread; Pellon Wonder Under; Sulky Tear-Easy Stabilizer; Wright's bias tape.


New Wheels

You know you're a mom when your "new wheels" excitement equals a new stroller! ;) In late June I saw a tweet from Kolcraft (@Kolcraft) regarding a chance to win their new Contours Optima Tandem Stroller. The contest was detailed on their blog here. Basically, each day during the contest you could tweet an entry that had to start with "Oh Optima how I love your ..." and include the hash tag #ContoursOptima.

I entered 3 times. On the final day of the contest, I sent this tweet:
Oh Optima how I love your sleek design. Walking w/you would be divine. The kids would cheer & I could finally tone my rear. #ContoursOptima
And, lucky me, that ended up being the winning tweet! To say I was shocked was an understatement.

I was still pinching myself when the box arrived on my doorstep! Now for those who missed why I need a double stroller - I watch my 10 month old niece during the week along with Dylan. We get out of the house quite regularly. Some days we do okay with her in Dylan's lightweight stroller and him on the buddy harness (yes, I proudly use one - I'm not willing to chance losing my child or worse). But there are times when I need to be able to push them both and this has been a blessing to all 3 of us.

Can you see the smile on his face?
The seats detach from the frame and, combined with the included universal car seat adapter (a second can be ordered), there are 6 different seating arrangements. Our favorite is both seats facing each other. This allows them to interact. With the previous tandem stroller we had, both seats only faced forward. Dylan was constantly turning to reach "baby" and hand her snacks or was getting frustrated when she leaned forward and pulled his hair. Now they both sit comfortably.

I like the padded grip, parent tray, large storage basket underneath (I can easily fit both their diaper bags with room leftover) and how smooth the stroller rides. It's so nice to be able to comfortably push & maneuver a stroller that seats two. We've taken it for a spin all over from the mall to 2+ mile walks down the greenway.

Padded grip and large parent tray with 2 cup holders
One of the other things I like is that this stroller is only 37 pounds making it nice and lightweight. It can be folded with both seats attached or one/both removed. I have found it simplest and easiest on my back to remove both seats, then fold the frame to place it in my car. This may sound tricky, but the seats detach so easily, I can quickly do it now and be on my way.

This literally just touches the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of other great details (the adjustable height canopies, different seat & footrest angles, 5-point harness on both seats, etc) and two stylish color schemes to choose from. Overall, I'm very pleased and think it's a wonderful product. Thanks again to Kolcraft for this great prize!

Note: The Contours Optima Tandem stroller was received free to me as a prize in a giveaway sponsored by Kolcraft. A review or otherwise was not required as part of my win. The opinions expressed within the review are my own.


Race Car Thank You Notes

To thank everyone after Dylan's Cars birthday party, we needed car themed thank you notes. I kept the design fairly simple using strips of printed checkered paper, red cardstock and a stamp. I also printed return address labels with Lightning McQueen on them just as I had done with the invites.

Supplies: Recollections white cards, cardstock & stamp; StazOn black ink; personal black & white checkered design; Avery clear address labels #18660; Lightning McQueen clip art; Comic Sans font.


Shoot and Edit: Bright & Colorful

Last week our playgroup attempted bubble painting. For whatever reason, the mixture (just store bought bubbles with food coloring added) did not want to make bubbles although it had worked perfectly the night before. Not all was lost though. Our toddlers had a grand time dripping, flicking & even sticking their hands in the mixture and adding it to the paper.

Week 32: Bright & Colorful SOOC
ISO 100, ss 1/250, f8.0

Join in the fun with Jill Samter Photography and Ramblings and Photos:


Fun Zone

Dylan and friends having fun at the Fun Zone in January. A big room full of toys - what could be better? Honestly, I think their only problem was figuring out what to play with first! :)

Supplies: Kate Teague's Just the Photos 2 template; Karla Dudley's Misfits 1 paper and Digi Essentials 2 & 8 kits; Miss Mint's Kindergarten Crafts & Twinkle Toes kits; Janda Everyday Casual font.


Cow Shirts

One of the local Chick-fil-A restaurants hosts a kids craft & story time each Thursday morning. Our playgroup happened to visit the day before the annual "Cow Appreciation Day" where customers dressed like a cow can get free food. Thus, the day's project was painting a cow t-shirt. All four toddlers were very serious about their painting. A few weeks later, we got the gang together for a group shot in their shirts. Of course, it was a challenge getting the entire "herd" together. ;) [That would be Dylan walking away from the others!]

Supplies: Simply Tiffany Studios 52 Thursday Templates Template No 23; Berylium font.


Painting Fun

I've been having lots of fun recently gathering crafty ideas on Pinterest that I can do with Dylan. As hot as it is, we need indoor activities to keep us occupied. Two of the ideas we've tried involve paint - Kool-Aid paining and Shake & Paint.

Dylan, Lily & I experimented with Kool-Aid painting a week before trying it with one of Dylan's friends. Although at 10 months, Lily isn't quite into brush to paper, she did manage a few strokes before the brush went to her mouth. I appreciated that our "paint" was just drink mix & water thus didn't have to worry about her tasting it minus the stain of red around her mouth. ;)

To make the "paint" - we mixed a package of Kool-Aid mix with 1 tbsp of hot water:

Dylan & his buddy, Grant, were serious about their painting ... at first. Moments later they were splattering it everywhere. I think only my kitchen ceiling missed getting hit. LOL

Because paint isn't just for brushes - you have to get your hands in it! The one warning about Kool-Aid painting, even after washing your hands, they will be temporarily stained:

But it's all worth it for fun with your friends and cool paintings. Here's what we created:

Then yesterday I was searching for another indoor project to do with Dylan & Lily when I came across Shake & Paint. It's an idea I had seen before but forgotten. Lily left before we started (I think she would have enjoyed rolling the can so we'll try again another day). Dylan helped me line up our supplies on the kitchen floor: paper, crayon bits, paint and a can (yes, that's the can I decorated for his birthday party!):

We rolled the paper inside of the formula can. Dropped in our crayon bits and squirted a bit of paint:

Then came the fun - securing the lid and shaking!

We peeked inside and found some colorful blobs on the paper:

We put the lid back on and tried rolling the can. This moved the crayon bits, and thus the paint, up higher onto the paper. After pulling out that sheet to dry (top right in photo below), we experimented further. We tried squirting the paint down the paper vs directly into the bottom. Dylan squirted a bit of paint (which equaled LOTS of paint as well as paint on floor - good thing it cleans up easy!). Our finished masterpieces:



Having fun with friends at the pool & splashground in late June:

Supplies: Gennifer Bursett's Toolbox Mist Vol. 1 & Favorite Things Alpha Collection; Karen Funk's Photo Frame Clusters Vol. 2; Janda Everyday Casual font.


Shoot and Edit: Sunset edit

Week 30: Sunset SOOC
I was a bit stumped on how to edit my photo this week until I read Rosie's steps at leavesandbloom photography. That inspired my starting point - adding a selective color layer & adjusting the black. From there I added a hue/saturation layer. Adjusted to my liking. Merged layers and cropped.

Overall, I'm still very happy with my SOOC shot but I do like the focus and more intense orange color in the edit.

Week 30: Sunset edit

Join in the fun with Jill Samter Photography and Ramblings and Photos:


Tall Iced

Yesterday, sitting in the drive thru at Starbucks, I realized that maybe we'd been in that same spot too many times. From the backseat I heard Dylan say, "tall iced." I confess, I laughed and then taught him to say "mocha." I guess next time he can place the order. ;)

Supplies: Paislee Press Press Plate No 2; Sara Schmutz's Star Spangled & Color Wheel Avocado papers; 2peas Grandpa & Janda Everyday Casual fonts.


Shoot and Edit: Sunset

After dinner last night, the boys & I headed to Lake Crabtree Park to play on the playground and walk down to the lake. It was the perfect spot for taking a few sunset shots. My favorite capture is this one with the sun reflecting in the lake and a plane making it's way in for a landing at RDU Airport.

Week 30: Sunset SOOC
ISO 100, ss 1/1000, f5.6

Join in the fun with Jill Samter Photography and Ramblings and Photos:


1st movie

Dylan's first movie at a theater over July 4th weekend. Even though the bright sun was causing him to look down, I love the photo of him pointing up at the poster. He was quite excited when he saw it and called out, "Cars!" :)

Supplies: Gennifer Bursett's Blueprint #8 template; Miss Mint Kindergarten Crafts & Traffic Jam kits; Ellie Lash's Detour kit; Sara Schmutz's Back to Basics bundle; Tiffany Tillman's Tears Set 1; Karen Funk's Claire & For the Boys kits; Pink Trike Design's Cozy papers & Kraft Fun Day elements; Karla Dudley's Digi Essentials 1 & 2; scan of movie ticket stub; Rhonna Farrer's Typeset alpha; Magneto & Just the Way You Are fonts.