Category Archives: DIY & Crafts

Organic Grassfed Beef Tallow for Skincare

organic-tallow-balm-grass-fed-orange-bergamot-noelles-naturalsAbout a year ago we ventured into the world of Nourishing Traditions and the wonderful high fat diet they propose. I’ve lost weight, my energy is up, and we feel fantastic. I’ve played around with lots of different fats to cook with: Grass fed butter, duck fat, ghee, beef tallow.

But when a friend recently asked if I had gotten into beef tallow as a skin care product I was a little surprised. I mean I’ll eat it, but not sure I wanted to put it on my skin. But it does make sense. Technically all the skincare products I make are edible.

erin-brockovich-trihalomethanes-pinellas-county-water-homemakerchic.comSo when our family was hit with a terrible bout of dry skin (thanks to the Pinellas County water system for the delicious chemicals they recently dumped in our water), I turned to something different when Shea butter was no longer doing the trick.

I hit the lab to formulate a Tallow balm that would be good for our whole family (and yours too!). This stuff is fantastic for any skin ailment you can think of, from dry skin and eczema, diaper rash, acne, aging facial skin, scars, sunburn, psoriasis, dermatitis, or even stretch marks (which is quite appealing since I am 7 months pregnant with baby number 3 as I type.) You name it, this stuff is for it!

Tallow is actually a very old fashioned skin care ingredient. Animal fats used to be as much a part of skin care regimens as they were a part of old fashioned diets. But the move away from animal fats in cooking, in exchange for vegetable oils, also included its exclusion from use in skin products. In fact, up until it’s recent resurgence in popularity you would have been hard pressed to find any skin care products with animal fats at all. But thankfully organizations like the Weston A. Price foundation are doing a fantastic job of educating the public on the benefits of animal fats consumed both internally and externally.

I’m here to say that FAT IS BACK!

I began researching Tallow balm and its benefits and I was so very pleasantly surprised to find this amazing ingredient to add to my products!

According to Sally Fallon of the Weston A. Price foundation, science backs up the use of Tallow for human skin…

Modern-day research confirms the traditional wisdom of our ancestors. From biology, we know that the cell membrane is made up primarily of fatty acids, a double layer, to be exact. Saturated fats constitute at least 50 percent of the cell membrane. Since saturated fats tend to be more solid than unsaturated fats at a given temperature, they help give the cell membrane its necessary stiffness and integrity for proper function. The monounsaturated fats, while not as “solid” as the saturated fats, are more so than the polyunsaturated fats which are also present in the cell membrane in their own proper proportion, although the modern diet leads to a disproportionate amount of the polyunsaturates. Healthy, “toned” skin cells with sufficient saturated and monounsaturated fats would undoubtedly make for healthy, toned skin. Interestingly, tallow fat is typically 50 to 55 percent saturated, just like our cell membranes, with almost all of the rest being monounsaturated, so it makes sense that it would be helpful for skin health and compatible with our cell biology.”

Now its important to talk a little about what exactly Tallow is, how its made, and the best sources for it.

When it comes to our skin we want to be wise about what we’re absorbing. We know that its our largest organ, so we wouldn’t want to put anything on our skin that we wouldn’t want to consume internally. Our skin is literally drinking every cream, lotion, or balm we put on it. So avoiding toxins and chemicals in skin care products is just as important as avoiding toxins in our foods.

So when we look at the fat of an animal, especially for the purposes of putting on our skin, it is important to look at what kind of toxins may or may not be stored in that fat.

So only the fat from cows raised on organic farms, and fed grass fed diets will be appropriate for use on the skin. Studies show that the fats and milk from grass fed cows have four times the vitamin E of grain-fed cows. Extra vitamin E for my skin? Yes please!

The process of making tallow can be grueling. It involves finding reputable beef fat (called suet), chopping said suet (and no not in a System of a Down sort of way), then cooking down or rendering the fat until all the liquid fat has separated from the fried fat pieces, also called “cracklins” if you’re in the south (which I am). That liquid fat is then strained and cooled and the remaining substance is a velvety smooth, ivory white, waxy sort of hard butter that is mild in scent, but slightly nutty. Its not exactly “beefy” but there is a subtle aroma that isn’t exactly sweet. 

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Since we’ve moved away from the farm days of preparing our own foods I think most modern homemakers would shy away from this process (current company included.) So I buy mine ready rendered.

And thus you have Tallow. It is a beautifully smooth substance.

So now that its in this lovely form how do we get the balm?

A couple of things to consider:

  1. Tallow is a bit firm on its own and can be difficult to spread.
  2. It does have a very light subtle aroma that may not be appealing to everyone.

So I decided to invite some of our plant friends to the party. Yes animal fats are awesome but let’s not forget our wonderful plant based buddies that have been a mainstay in skincare for just as long. I wanted to use something naturally very fragrant without having to add a TON of essential oils. Don’t get me wrong, EO’s are my jam, but they can sometimes irritate certain skin types, so I wanted to be careful. I added just 1-2 drops of Bergamot oil per jar. But I still wanted more scent (without going EO crazy).

Enter Orange Butter. Being a Florida girl I am partial to the wonderfully refreshing aroma of ripe, juicy, florida oranges so this ingredient makes me very happy. It smells fantastic! The one I use is derived from Orange Peel oil and Orange Peel Wax (blended with almond oil), specifically from the Florida area, and is made by cold pressing Orange peel to get the oil. Orange Peel Oil contains Limonene, which is a very effective free radical scavenger. It also has a cleansing and toning effect on skin that can improve oily skin and acne problems. Also contained in Orange Butter is Orange Peel Wax which contains a high level of Bioflavonoids (polyphenols). Bioflavonoids have anti-cellulite, anti-inflammatory, and many other protective benefits for skin.

So that solves the aroma issue, with the added benefit of tons of pro skin factors.

Now for the texture. Welcome to the stage Olive Oil. Olive oil has been used for millenia, with skincare usage going as far back as the Ancient Egyptians and Ancient Greeks. It has excellent skin benefits (including MORE polyphenols) and its liquid state adds a wonderful softness to the harder waxy tallow.

When melted down and blended together, these 3 all-star ingredients make a powerful skin moisturizing trio. I’m so excited for you to try it! As always if you love the idea of the DIY thing but just don’t have the time (or desire to render beef fat) you can buy this magical stuff ready made in my Etsy shop!

Special thanks to SKS Bottle for the fantastic glass jars. They seriously have every type of jar or bottle you can think up and these adorable dome jars were just perfect for this balm. A little goes a long way with this stuff so a giant jar wasn’t necessary, these 4oz jars were just right.

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DIY Toddler Training Underwear

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Well I now live in the wonderful world of potty training a toddler. About a month ago my saint of a mother kept my 2 year old for 2 days and got him well on the path to potty-land. thomas-the-train-toddler-underwearHe is doing really well and goes peepee in the potty about 75% of the time, but he hasn’t yet learned to let me know before he has to go. I just have to take him to the potty every 45 minutes. He willingly goes when I take him, but sometimes I get busy with the baby, or making dinner, or I just plain forget. And then we have accidents. He is very good at announcing that he has gone (or is going) peepee, so sometimes I can catch him in the middle of it and rush him to the potty. We have about 10 or so pairs of adorable little tiny toddler boy undies, but they are so thin that we had little puddles of pee on the floor.

 

  • Disney Toddler Boys' Mickey 3 Pack Training Pant, Assorted, 3T I found these great toddler trainers on Amazon. They do have a little padding which helps with small accidents if I catch him in time, but they weren’t incredibly absorbent and we still had soaking through his pants. They are also not cheap. They run about $5.50 a pair compared with $1.35 a pair for the regular toddler underwear. You can also find many cloth diaper brands offering toddler training pants for as much as $20 a pair. Although I’m sure they’re quality products, its just not really something I wanted to spend.

make-toddler-trainers-out-of-boy-underwearSince I have recently switched from pocket cloth diapers to All-in-ones for my youngest baby who is in diapers, I have a lot of extra charcoal bamboo inserts lying around that I’m not using. So I decided to utilize that little pocket in the little boy undies to make my own toddler trainers! The charcoal bamboo inserts are $2.50 a piece new, but 1 insert will make 4-6 pairs of trainers and I already had them on hand so they were no extra cost. You could really use any cloth diaper inserts including microfiber (which are cheaper at around $1 each) or regular bamboo (around $2.15 a piece). I don’t recommend hemp because it is slower to absorb which wouldn’t work well for this purpose. Or if you’re really on a budget you could also use a cut up piece of a microfiber cleaning cloth. As long as its not touching the skin directly. Amazon sells a 12 pack for $10.50 and you can use the rest to wash your car or clean your floors! Boom! These are pretty thin so you will want to tri-fold your piece for enough thickness that it will absorb accidents well.

So here’s what you do:

DIY-toddler-training-pantsCut your insert into pieces. For 2T/3T sized undies I cut a piece that was about 2″x4″.

 

 

 

 

sew-your-own-toddler-training-underwear-insertsSew the open edges down. This is simple enough to do and does not require any advanced sewing skills. I used a zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine to quickly sew down the open edges. You could just sew a straight line. Make sure to back stitch so it holds up well in the wash. You could also hand stitch the open edges down.

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Stuff the undies with the tiny insert. 

Put the insert in the tiny little pocket opening in the front of the diaper. Note: Only “boy” underwear has the convenient little pocket. Now if you’re wanting to do this for little girls you can do a couple options. 1) Put “boy” underwear on her. Unless she is particularly inclined to wear princess undies, she won’t know the difference. 2) Sew the insert directly onto the panties. You can do this if you’re using a natural fiber insert. DO NOT put microfiber directly against a child’s skin. It is TOO absorbent and will pull moisture and oils from baby’s skin causing uncomfortable rashes and dryness.

Tada! For less than $2 a pair we have great accident protection and little buddy still feels like a big boy in his goofy undies! Win! To wash these just throw them in with your regular laundry (or cloth diapers). The inserts should agitate out on their own in the wash.

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Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract

vanilla-extract-homemakerchic.comSo, two Christmases ago, before I was the lucky mother of two children (and I had all sorts of free time), I decided to make all homemade gifts for my family. I made lovely gift baskets with lots of really cool homemade goodies including this glorious Vanilla Bean Extract. I couldn’t blog about it at the time because it would have spoiled the surprise for all my family. So I had big plans to blog about it in the fall of last year so my readers would have time to make this really thoughtful gift for their families in time for Christmas. Only I had a baby. So here we are in the last day of January 2016 and I’m not going to put it off anymore. Now you will have around 11 months to prepare to make Vanilla extract for everyone on your gift list. You could have a whole vanilla extract factory in that amount of time! Here’s how…

sks-bottle-amber-bottles-homemakerchic.com1) First you will need some dark amber bottles.

The dark color of the bottle keeps light out and preserves your finished product and helps it to last longer. SKS-bottle.com to the rescue! They have these lovely amber bottles that have the bonus of including tamper evident caps and pouring inserts that keep your vanilla beans from falling out every time you want extract. At less than $1.50 a piece for the 8 oz size (which by the way will hold enough vanilla extract to last your average home baker approximately a lifetime give or take) the price was definitely right! The 4 oz size are around $1 each. You just can’t find them any cheaper, I looked. I absolutely love the old fashioned look of these bottles.

2) Get some good quality vanilla beans.

For an 8 oz bottle you will need 7 beans per bottle.

I got mine from on Amazon. I got 1 pound of Madagascar Vanilla beans for $56.75. That’s over 100 beans. I looked and that price has gone up since I bought them, but you don’t need a whole pound. I got a bunch because I was making a lot of these for gifts and also using them for other projects (Homemade Kahlua!). If you’re only making a few of these you can get 25 beans for around $30.

3) Pick your poison.

You will need 1 cup 70 Proof Alcohol

Next you will need to decide if you want to make a bourbon vanilla or a vodka vanilla. Whether you use vodka or bourbon is up to you. Bourbon has more flavor than vodka and will yield a richer, deeper, final flavor. Vodka is a more neutral flavor and really lets the vanilla beans shine. Vodka is also less expensive if you’re trying to stay on a budget (Costco’s Kirkland brand is great!). You can also try light rum, I haven’t tried it but I read lots of reviews of people who loved it. Whichever you choose, avoid using alcohol with too high of an alcohol level as it can really break down the vanilla beans too much and it just won’t work right. 70 proof will do the trick.

4) Make the stuff.

Slice the beans in half and shove them down into your bottles. You can cut them into smaller pieces if you have a hard time fitting them in, but I liked the elegance of the long leggy beans.

Using a funnel, pour the alcohol into the bottle.

Press the white plastic strainer pieces firmly inside the openings of the bottles. (Sometimes they get hidden inside the caps if you can’t find them). Then affix the caps by pressing straight down firmly. If you’re having a hard time getting them on, try to twist gently to the right as you’re pressing down. Don’t twist too hard or you will break your tamper proof seal. It takes a little finesse but I love this feature. It makes them so finished and professional (especially if you wanted to sell these).

5) Labels & Presentation

homemade-vanilla-extract-homemakerchic.comI really love these brown Kraft labels for various purposes. They just look so old fashioned and I love the way they turned out against the amber bottles. I used a font called Chocolate Box from 1001freefonts. I used round ones but in the future I might use something with a different shape like these. 

And these scalloped ones are really cute too! And these would be nice if you were using smaller bottles. 

And rustic twine is just a must in my opinion. I buy twine by the roll and use it for everything. I wrap gifts with it, tie gift tags on with it, I wrap pencils in it, hang pictures with it. Tie my hair back with it. I’m a big time twine fan. Adding a little to these bottles just totally makes it special.

Finally, leave the extract for at least 8 weeks (or more!), shaking the bottles once a week for good measure.  Enjoy!!

Citrus Splash Body Scrub – REVISITED

homemaker-chic-citrus-sugar-scrubSummer is on its way here and there’s no better time to revisit this refreshing citrus scrub. diy-sugar-scrub-homemakerchic-comA couple years ago I made up this recipe and used these charming jars from SKS bottle.

When I was asked to make some goodies to go in gift bags for a ladies retreat at our church I knew this scrub would be a hit. But there were a few things I needed to do differently this time.

Craftsy

First of all I wanted to use a jar with a plastic lid. Since metal and water are not best friends, I thought it would be better to use a completely waterproof jar for use in the shower. I landed on this 4oz plastic jar with a white dome lid. I like the look of the dome lid, it just looks like something you’d find in a cosmetics store and it really adds a nice professional touch to the finished product.

IMG_3128I also needed a water proof label. The paper tag label I used was nice for packaging, but once you took the ribbon off you might forget what was in the jar! (except you’d know exactly what it was when you opened it and smelled that delicious fruity aroma but I digress.) I had since made other scrubs and used these really cute Kraft paper labels, but they get wet in the shower and eventually peel off. So I found these fantastic plastic adhesive labels that you can print right from your standard printer. The clear labels made it look like I had the lids custom printed! They looked to clean and professional. This would be a good option if you wanted to sell your scrubs. These are Avery #22825 and you can download the template here.

30 scrubs later and we had lots of happy ladies with presumably VERY soft skin! sugar-scrubs-for-ladies-retreat-church-gift

So I hope you make this fun recipe and share with all your friends. Enjoy!

***FIND THE RECIPE HERE***

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How to Organize Your Craft Supplies with an Art Cart

Now that I’m a mom things have gotten super busy around here, from playdates, to nap time, to doing cloth diaper laundry, I don’t always get time to blog as often as I’d like. However, I know how much you rely on HomemakerChic for all your creative juicing needs (you do right?), so I’m not leaving you hanging. In the weeks that I’m not able to post, you’re going to be getting the super awesome joy of hearing from some dazzling friends of mine. I have some uber crafty and clever friends so you will not be disappointed one bit.
Today you’ll be hearing from my sweet friend Shawna, who is a talented photographer and blogger over at Perfection is My Enemy. We took a fun trip to IKEA recently to come up with a solution for her kid’s craft troubles. I had some adorable bottles that I got from SKS Bottle awhile ago. I had great plans for using them to organize my craft room but alas they were gathering dust, and that just wouldn’t do, so I offered them to Shawna and the kids with the ulterior motive of having her do a guest post (I’m so very sneaky). So without further adieux… Meet Shawna!
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As a homeschooling mom I’m always trying to think of good ways to get the kids’ creative juices flowing, especially since we just started a new school year. I want to keep the “I’m bored” comments at bay and the requests for screen time to a minimum as well as get some creative breaks into our school day.
Confession: I’m not a super crafty mom.
 I like the idea of crafts but I don’t ever actually do them.  
My daughter on the other hand is totally into them.  She would craft and draw or paint all day if she could.  The problem was that all of our crafting and art supplies were tucked neatly away into boxes where you couldn’t see them.  I prefer things put away, but I could see that the out of sight, out of mind mentality was a little too prevalent with this storage method.  I decided to get everything out in the open and in one place. I headed to Ikea where I got the Raskog kitchen cart (along with a few other things, how could I not!).  After a surprisingly easy assembly it was ready for our art supplies!  
 
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The good news is that the only thing I had to buy was the cart. Everything else I already had on hand! Plus, my lovely friend who writes this lovely blog donated a box of craft jars for me to use.  
I love that this cart has open trays.  You can see everything at a glance and you can’t knock anything off because of the deep sides. My absolute favorite thing is that we have a whole jar full of freshly sharpened pencils!  If you are like us then you know how hard it can be to find a pencil when it’s time to do an assignment and this has saved us many wasted minutes searching for them.  
The top tray has most of the items that we use on a daily basis like markers, crayons, glue, tape, scissors, and colored pencils (kept in the pencil box since we often take it with us places).  
 
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The middle shelf is reserved for paints and other craft supplies.  This is where the jars came in really handy.  I love that they have lids to keep all those beads and shells from spilling.  
 
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We also found other craft stuff we had forgotten we even had, so we added some thread and various fabric scraps and modeling clay in the wooden box.
 
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The third shelf is where we are keeping our paper supplies.  There are coloring books and paper pads and doodle books along with card stock and construction paper.  Originally we had the paper in a tray but it always ended up a mess so the loose leaf stuff like construction paper is now kept in that sturdy purple folder and seems to be working much better at staying neat.  
 
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The box was one of the original art boxes we had, but now it holds paper scraps and ribbon instead of all those bottles of paint!  Some things do need to be kept in a box in my opinion, but you could always opt for a see through box if you want everything truly out and in plain sight, I just wanted to use what I had on hand so I went with what I had.  
 
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My children have been crafting and creating art much more since we introduced the art cart so I would say it’s been a great success.  It also looks great!  And it’s on casters so if you did want to hide it out of the way for any reason, you can wheel it around easily. I hope you and your kids enjoy crafting much more this school year!
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About the Contributing Author:

Shawna is a wife, homeschooling mom, photographer, recovering perfectionst and writer of the blog Perfection is My Enemy

DIY Birdie Onesie

If you’re a mom, on Facebook, who has had a baby in the last few years, chances are you’ve heard of, or are in, some sort of Mom’s group. Well I’m in one too. Our group is seriously awesome. Its a bunch of girls from all over the country who happened to be pregnant at the same time and happened to join the most amazing group ever. Over the last year we’ve all grown so close. We’ve been there through the births of our children, though those early weeks of being up all night, and wondering if our baby will always be so needy. We’ve answered each other’s questions from “what-the-heck-is-this-rash?” questions, to “how do I keep from shooting my husband?” questions, and “does this dress make me look fat?” questions and everything in between! Some of us breastfeed, others use formula, some of us had magical unicorn hippie natural births, while others had c-sections. We’ve shared joys and losses, ups and downs, moments where we think we’re gonna lose it, and moments where we all just laugh at each other. We’re all different, but we all have something in common- we’re moms and we’re there for each other. Its been a beautiful thing to see how so many different women, from all over the country, from such vastly different backgrounds, can come together and support one another with virtually no drama. It really is a miracle.

So one of the things we like to do is send each other gifts! We do several gift exchanges a year. For our babies 6 month birthday I got paired up with a sweet momma with an absolutely darling little girl who loves birdies. Isn’t she just precious? I wanted to do a homemade gift and I had seen some super cute custom onesies on etsy that I knew I could totally DIY, and you can totally use scraps of fabric that you already have lying around. So here’s how you can make your own custom birdie onesie that makes an awesome homemade gift!

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Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Plain onesies
  • 2 complimentary fabric scraps.
  • Embroidery floss (various colors)
  • Sewing Needle
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Paper and Pencil
  • Iron on interfacing
  • A couple beads or a button (for the eye)

Start by getting your onesies. I got the Carter’s pastel set with the lace edges on Amazon. They are simple and sweet. Just what I was looking for.

black-baby-pink-birdie-mdNext, you’ll need a template. I just freehanded a birdie shape onto a piece of paper and cut it out. Or you can print out something like this

(I just did a simple google image search for “birdie vector”).

IMG_0507You’ll need three templates, one for the outside of the birdie, one for the beak and one for the wing. Again this is a simple enough design that you can easily freehand the template.

Trace your birdie, beak and wing onto your fabric. Then flip the templates backwards and trace them onto your interfacing. You will need to cut out two of the birdies from the interfacing (I’ll explain why later).

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IMG_0504Cut everything out. You’ll want to use a different fabric for each piece so you will have a nice contrast. Iron the facing onto the back of the large birdie piece and onto the wing and the beak. Peel the paper backing off the back.

IMG_0513Using a contrasting thread color, stitch the wing onto birdie. I made my stitches about 1/4 inch long, to give it a nice, old fashioned, homemade look.

Next, stitch a little eye onto your birdie. You can do this with a bead, or a cute little button. Or simply stitch a little circle or X to make an eye.

IMG_0516After you’ve stitched on the wing and the eye, lay your second piece of interfacing on the back of the birdie and iron it on, over the stitching. This will ensure that everything lays nice and flat on the onesie.

IMG_0518Now its time to sew the birdie to the onesie. Use a different color thread for even more adorable contrast. Be sure to only sew to the front layer of the onesie. Don’t be a ding-dong and sew through the whole thing. Lol, I believe you are smarter than this, but you never know. I’ve done much dumber things when sewing!

IMG_0527Now that your birdie is on, you can stitch on the beak, and make some little legs with yellow or orange stitching. So easy and super fun to make. You can get so creative with the colors and do all sorts of nice combinations. Make several for a sweet, homemade, baby shower or 1st birthday gift. Have fun and do send me pictures of your finished projects!

 

Valentine’s Day Kissing Booth Photo Prop

valentines-day-baby-photo-ideasHaving a sweet little boy is fun, especially when you get to dress him up in adorable outfits and take pictures of him! I can already see a montage of all of these awesome pictures being played to his chagrin at his wedding. He was super awesome earlier this week and took a nice long nap so I could get crafty and make this amazing Valentine’s Day Kissing Booth Photo Prop!

Some of you know that when you click on certain links on my blog (Like the SHOP button) and make purchases through Amazon.com I make a small profit. Well this year enough of you lovely people clicked to generate the funds needed to me to buy a fantastic new camera! Thank you readers!! You’re the best in the world. 🙂 This means no more iPhone photos and you will see the images on HomemakerChic drastically improve (especially as I learn how to actually use the thing!)

how-to-valentines-day-kissing-booth-photo-prop-babyThe kissing booth was ridiculously easy to make and cost around $20 since I had a couple of the items on hand.

Everything you need can be purchased at your local craft store.

  • 1 Wood Crate
  • 2 long thin pieces of wood (this could be yardsticks, long dowel rods, or you can find these at Lowe’s or Home Depot. I happened to have some extra scrap pieces laying around.)
  • 1 piece of wood, foam board, or cardboard around 12″x24″
  • 1 Chalkboard wall decal (or chalkboard paint)
  • 1 Cute Valentine’s Garland
  • A few tacks or nails
  • Some burlap

Assembly is pretty self explanatory. Just nail the long thin wood pieces to either the front or the back of the crate. You could do this a few different ways depending on your needs. photo-booth-kissingFor example you could stand the crate up on its side so it looks more like a “booth.” This would be good if you have a toddler or a baby who can sit up on his own. I needed the crate to be open so I could place Luke down in it since he doesn’t sit up on his own yet. You could also nail the sign to the front of the crate instead of to the back like in this photo. Or even to the sides.

I found a Chalkboard wall decal for around $8. You could also use Chalkboard paint. I also found a very thin piece of wood at Michael’s that worked perfectly and was just the right size for the decal, but you could use anything for this that is sturdy enough like foam board, or cardboard, or whatever else you have lying around. I hand wrote the kisses part with chalk. Try a few different fonts in your own hand, or use a stencil. I hot glued the board onto the long thin wood pieces.

I also hot glued the garland and the little Be My Valentine wood piece. I found the heart shaped wood piece in the same section as the crate. I just painted in the letters with a little red paint. You could leave that piece off or find something else just as cute. Finally I added the burlap to give it an old fashioned touch. I got a roll of burlap for $3 and just loosely looped it through the slats of the crate. Finally I stuck a couple rolled up blankets covered with a piece of red felt to keep Luke from falling over in the crate. If you have a red blanket that would be perfect.

Now for the photography. I just put the little booth out in my yard in the early afternoon when the natural lighting was nice. I made sure not to put him in direct sunlight, and used the AV aperture priority setting on my camera. It is NOT easy to get a baby to smile at just the right moment when there is no drool, or spit up, or a hand in the mouth. And when you finally get the right pose, your camera isn’t focused! This process is fun, but hard. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time, have another person with you to help wrangle the baby and make him smile while you are ready with the camera.

Happy Valentine’s Day friends! We love you all!