New Bedroom Hideout: Kura Bed Into Fort

Jax got a new bed last weekend and after a quick sewing project, it is now also a secret hide-out!


Ingredients:


Bed: IKEA Kura
We weren’t fans of the blue, so we built it with the white side of the boards showing.

Fabric: IKEA Vitaminer Rand, 100% cotton

Curtains are attached to the bed with Velcro Décor Tape

Basic Construction:

1. First I hemmed the bottom of the entire piece of fabric I used. This helps insure that the stripes will line up, since the bottom seam will be identical on all curtains made from the fabric piece. Next, I held the fabric up to the bed and decided where I’d like it to hang, and marked what would be the top of the fort curtains. Adding 2 inches for the top seam allowance, I cut the whole strip of the fabric so it was even in height.

2. I measured the length of the bed (75 inches), divided by 2 (37.5 inches) and added a 1/2-inch seam allowance for each side, which meant I needed two panels 38.5 inches wide. I measured and cut two such panels from my hemmed piece and sewed the side seams. Ironing before pinning and sewing makes this process go smoothly.

3. I sewed a 1-inch seam into the top of the piece (the red band in the photo below) and then pinned a strip of velcro (the soft side) along the entire top seam on the right side of the curtain. I sewed the Velcro to the fabric along each edge of the Velcro, including vertically at the ends (picture one big, long, rectangular seam on top of the Velcro).

4. After wiping down the wood, I attached the self-adhesive side of the Velcro in a strip onto the inside of the bed frame.

5. Voilà, the two curtains attached to the bed using the Velcro strips. I somehow ended up a couple inches short (I say 1/2-inch seam allowances and then don’t actually measure) but I find it doesn’t matter at all. You can play around with the curtain placement and keep them open by stuffing the corners into a space you make with a finger in the Velcro (my method) or by wrapping it around the top frame a few times (which looks more like a valance).

In action!

6. Finally, I feel compelled to note that the top of the bed is completely open and we remove the curtains entirely at bedtime. Jax is a pretty calm sleeper, but you never know if there could be some sort of entanglement risk at just 19 months…

The beauty of this project is that it is inexpensive, easy, quick, and open to interpretation. You could add appliqué elements to make it look like a castle or a fruit stand, change striped curtains for starry blue ones, or get the child involved in making it into any kind of structure he imagines. My sister even had the idea of suspending several yards of fabric from the ceiling and around a hoola hoop, to make it into a circus tent. As time goes on, we are sure to play around with some other ideas for Jax’s bed. In the mean time, we’ll be playing in our new striped fort.

Sheep to Shawl Festival

Yesterday Jax and I went with friends Amanda and baby Grace to the annual Sheep to Shawl festival in Sleepy Hollow. It’s an event held at Philipsburg Manor, a 17th-century Dutch farm which now serves as a living museum, with a working mill, cows and sheep, and costumed tour guides who are actually really quite fun to speak with.

The first stop was the all-important sheering of the sheep demonstration. The 17th-century trimming scissors made us a little nervous, but this woolly sheep got his winter coat removed without any harm.

The last time we went to Philipsburg Manor the cows were all inside, so it was fun to see them grazing in the field.

The sheep herding demonstration was one of the most exciting for Jax.

“Dog. Doooooog.”

Next up was spinning: I learned in chatting with this guide that we’d only see knitting and weaving in the 17th century, as crochet hadn’t been invented yet: Crochet arrived in the States in the mid-19th-century and it had only been developed in late-18th-century France.

The dying of the wool was done in boiling water over this open flame.

On the left, onion skins are dying the wool a bright yellow. On the right is a deep red produced by tree bark.

We took a quick stop into the mill.

Weaving demonstration

The guests of honor! Jax was so excited to look into the barn and see these guys. He kept shouting “baaaa!”

Then one sheep stuck his head out and yelled “baaa!” back. I don’t know if Jax ever thought that would be coming.

A tour of the stable

The walk back

Easy Coconut Birds’ Nest Cookies

My mom makes these cookies around Christmas time, but I thought they’d be lovely for spring as well. The combination of the sweet coconut nest and the bitter chocolate center is one of my most delicious memories from childhood.

With only four ingredients and no baking time, these birds’ nest cookies are an easy treat to prepare in a flash. And because they don’t involve any raw eggs but do allow you do get your hands messy, it’s a toddler-friendly kitchen project, too.

~Ingredients~
1 bag coconut, 14 oz or about 5 cups
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup (1/2 of an 11.5-oz bag) bitter dark chocolate chips (the less sweet the better to balance out the sugary nests ?? I used Ghirardelli 60% Cocao Baking Chips, but feel free to go even darker!)

~Directions~
In a large bowl, combine coconut and powdered sugar with a large wooden spoon.
Melt the butter and drizzle over the coconut mixture. Mix to combine.

Using a teaspoon as a scoop, form 1-inch balls of the mixture in your hands, lay on a cookie sheet, and while still holding with two fingers on the outside, poke your finger into the center to create a little crater for the chocolate. They’ll feel crumbly, but they will hold together once they’ve sat for a bit.

Once they are all laid out, melt the chocolate over low heat, stirring until fully melted and smooth. Using a teaspoon, drip the mealted chocolate into the center holes to fill.

Let the centers harden about 30 minutes, and then store in the fridge until ready to eat.

This recipe yielded 30 nests. Three days later, we are still enjoying them!

Poisson d’avril!

I love that in France the fish is the symbol of April Fool’s day. Back in high school my French teacher went all out (as she did every day, for that matter), sneakily taping a paper fish to someone’s back and seeing if they caught it before class was over. During our time living in France, I noticed that a lot of the Easter/spring candies were in the shape of fish in addition to eggs and bells. I wonder if the symbols all became associated with Easter, or if the fish takes on new meaning for the Christian holiday (fish on Friday during Lent perhaps?). In any case, I have fully embraced the fish as our springtime emblem.

With fusible interfacing and an iron, it took me about 5 minutes to enbellish this shirt last night. I was going to zigzag stitch around the borders of each fish, but I’ve got job applications to write and a chapter to finish, so this will do for now!

Pause for quick photo…and…he’s off!

Because Jax loves fish and all things water, I thought I’d perfect my recycled crayons method using an ice cube mold we picked up at IKEA. Now, the tray said “for water only” but I thought it would still work well for crayon melting since the oven is only set to “warm” for this project. I had tried this with a heart mold for Valentine’s day but neglected to grease the mold first, so I thought that would solve my problems this time.

The greased mold with broken crayon bits

After 10 minutes, they started to melt, but I soon noticed the bowing of the tray was going to pose a problem…

Some spillage, but using the potholders to weigh down the sides, I straightened out the mold and let the crayons cool and harden this way.

And then the removal: disaster as I carefully popped the fish out. Only two fish survived with tails (out of twelve).

The mold didn’t fare any better with the greasing, either. Oh well. We can always remelt and try again with a different mold. In the mean time, we still have some fun multi-colored ovals to color with!

Happy April Fool’s Day!

18 Months

Last Wednesday Jax was 18 months old! He is really becoming a little boy now, with more words than I can count and a little big personality that loves to joke around.

We wanted to celebrate the occasion at our favorite baby- and kid-friendly restaurant, Wobble Café, but alas, they are closed Wednesday evenings. After bouncing off their door, we thought we’d head up to an Indian restaurant we had been wanting to try. A couple wrong turns later and we remembered a diner we have also wanted to check out. We have been lovingly calling it the “Nuclear Diner” since it’s just down the road from Indian Point, a nuclear power plant we are in denial about living so close to. What a pleasant surprise inside, though: a really friendly staff, great prices (even as far as diners go), and best of all, a big toy train! running around the middle. Perfect.

The all-important coloring placemat

Noodles and Meatballs: I can eat by myself!

This is my favorite: Jax makes this silly face to get huge laughs from us.

A new favorite pastime at the table is playing with ice.

The train! Choo choo!

Some favorite tunes

About a year ago, Amazon had a special deal: 100 kids songs for 99 cents. I thought, “how bad can they be?” and decided it was worth a buck to find out. The answer? very bad: dorky karaoke-esque background music accompanying a kid’s choir butchering classics like “Little Miss Muffet.” I knew there was better kid’s music out there, but it took recommendations from fellow parents and friends and a bit of luck to find it. Here are some of our favorites:

We discovered this catchy rendition of the ABC song thanks to our friend Corry.

We have CD’s of local rock star Big Jeff on repeat in the car. His style is reminiscent of everything from Ween or The Beatles (think “Strawberry Fields”) to ska and hard rock. Jax is a huge fan (and his parents are too).

Big Jeff I

Big Jeff II

This heart-breakingly sweet lullaby is by Renee and Jeremy, found via our friend Curran.

It’s a Big World

There are also some awesome CD’s that have been given to us:

Jazz for Kids: Sing, Clap, Wriggle and Shake (Thanks, Abby!)

French Playground (Thanks again, Abby!)

Down at the Sea Hotel (Thanks, Mom and Dad – and love that Lucy Kaplansky autographed it, too!)

They Might Be Giants has a bunch of kid stuff, too (Thanks for the recommendation, Andrea!):

So what about you? Do you have any kid or kid-friendly favorites?