Alpha Mom » Ellen Luckett Baker parenting and pregnancy opinions and information Thu, 13 Aug 2015 17:13:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Lunchbox Napkins for Back-to-School Thu, 18 Aug 2011 14:04:04 +0000

Each year I make my kids new napkins for their lunchboxes. In addition to being more eco-friendly, I have to admit that I love to make cute patterned napkins to add something special to their lunch away from home. This is an incredibly simple project and a great one for beginning sewers.

My napkins keep getting bigger every year as the kids grow, so this year I made 12″ squares for my 6-year-old and 8-year-old, but you can make them any size. These have simple folded corners, but as you become more advanced in your sewing, you can learn to make mitered corners for a professional finish. You could make these extra fun by hand embroidering or stamping the days of the week, initials, or a name.

Supplies (for six napkins):

  • 1 yard cotton fabric
  • iron
  • scissors
  • ruler
  • sewing machine
  • matching thread
  1. Cut the fabric into 13″ squares.
  2. Next, fold and press opposite edges of the square by 1/4″ towards the wrong side of the fabric. Fold and press again again by 1/2″ and sew a straight stitch 3/8″ from the edge of the fold on the right side of the fabric on each of the opposite sides of the fabric square, sewing from edge to edge.
  3. Once you have sewn down two opposite sides, take the fabric back to the ironing board and press and fold again on the two remaining raw edges. Sew along these sides as well, forming folded corners on the back side.

For more fun and simple sewing projects, check out Ellen’s new instructional book 1, 2, 3 Sew.

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Pixel Painting Thu, 21 Jul 2011 12:52:48 +0000

I’m loving all the pixel designs that have been everywhere lately, so decided to try a pixel project with my daughter. It’s a great way to learn about color mixing, have a messy fun time and make something really cool all at once.

We used fabric and I made a tote bag, but you could try this project on wood, canvas, a ready-made tote bag or any number of other options. All you’ll need is acrylic paint and a sponge.

I cut the sponges into 1″ cubes and drew a grid on the fabric with a water-soluble marker. Then I helped my daughter mix up the paints and got stamping. To complete the project with my six-year-old, it did take some supervision and a bit of patience, but it was totally doable and she was so proud of herself when it was all finished.

Just click on the images below and print if you need a starting point, but really, you can just come up with imaginary pixels by painting varying shades of the same color next to one another.


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Tiny Vinyl for Father’s Day Thu, 16 Jun 2011 14:11:25 +0000

Father's Day Craft Vinyl Record

Here’s a small project for the audiophile dad – tiny vinyl records! We used shrinky dinks and paint to make this simple and fun craft for Father’s Day. I’ve supplied you with a printable template to get the dimensions just right. You could make this in your own style with personalized songs and album art as we’ve done here. Include it with a gift certificate to a record store or iTunes.

You’ll need shiny clear shrinky dink plastic, black acrylic paint and paintbrush, sharp scissors, fine grit sand paper, sticker paper, card stock, a mini hole punch (1/8″), and a glue stick.

First, cut the shrink plastic according to the template, cutting a center hole by carefully inserting the scissors into the center to form an “x”, then cutting out the small circle (an adult should do this part). Next, paint the plastic with the black acrylic paint. To make the paint brushstrokes look like grooves on the record, have the kids pull the paintbrush around in circles. Allow this to dry completely, then bake the shrinking plastic according to the package instructions.

After the plastic is cooled, you may want to sand around the edges to make sure you have a nice smooth circle. Then cut out the templates (see link above) for the album cover (on card stock) and label (on sticker paper) and have the kids decorate them or write a message. Cut out the label, poke a hole in the center with the mini hole punch and adhere it to the record. Cut out the album cover and fold the outer flaps, apply glue and put it together.

Now you have a dollhouse-sized record! Now all you need is a miniature record player.

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DIY Flower Hair Clips for May Thu, 19 May 2011 13:59:44 +0000

April showers bring May flowers — flower hair clips in this case. This is a quick low-sew project that you can make for your favorite little girl. With just some scrap fabric and a hair clip, you can make a simple, stylish accessory that any girl would adore.

These fabric flowers would also work well as a brooch or bracelet, or they could easily be added as an embellishment to any sewing project, but be aware that you have raw edges here, so they will fray over time. You’ll want to use a thin fabric that is a solid or patterned on both sides. For my project, I used some of my favorite Liberty of London Tana Lawn fabric scraps. Linen would also work well, but the edges will fray more quickly.


  • fabric scraps
  • felt scrap
  • hair clip
  • sewing machine
  • thread
  • hot glue gun

First, cut the fabric into 8 circles. My circles were 2 3/4″, but you can find any circular object at home and trace around it to get a perfect circle. Cut a coordinating piece of felt to approximately 3/4″ width by 4″ length (the exact width will depend on the type of hair clip you use).

Then fold each circle in half and then half again, as shown above. Press in place.

Next, take your felt and circles over to the sewing machine. Place the folded circles on the center as shown on the image above, left. Two circles will be stacked on top of one another in each section. Then slide the assembled pieces under the presser foot and stitch a small rectangle to hold them in place, being sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitches.

Turn the flower over to the backside and place the hair clip in the center. Add a bit of hot glue to the edge of the felt and fold over the other end so that it wraps around the clip. Allow the glue to dry and trim the excess felt. Alternately, you could hand stitch at this step, but glue works well with felt and makes a secure fit.

And finally, press each circle open, using the steam setting on your iron to fluff up the flower. All set to go. Happy May!

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Paper Globes for Earth Day Thu, 21 Apr 2011 14:54:46 +0000

To celebrate Earth Day tomorrow, the best thing you could do is nothing. Make no waste, don’t drive a car, don’t turn on the lights, don’t flush the toilet, don’t eat! OK, if that’s not practical, how about a recycled paper craft that you can do with the kiddos? But really, you could just cut back on the other things too.

This simple and fast project will make spinning globes that you can use as decoration for parties or year-round. You could use a different shaped hole punch to create a different look — butterflies, hearts, stars, etc. We used paper from the recycling bin by my desk that had been accumulating for about a week. Because I’ve been working on some design projects we were able to find lots of colorful papers to make about seven paper globes. Here are the instructions.


-office paper, envelopes, newspaper, etc.

-circular hole punch (mine was 2 1/2″)


-needle and thread

-glue stick

1. Have the kids cut out circles with the hole punch. We used about 15 circles per globe.

2. Fold the circles in half down the center.

3. Staple in place.

4. Fold circles in all directions.

5. Insert the needle through a staple, then leave a few inches and repeat with the next globe. Repeat until you have strung all the globes onto the thread.

6. Using the glue stick, glue the circle with the staple through it to hide the staple and secure the thread. Repeat for the circle on the back side of the staple.

I added a wooden bead to the bottom, but you could tie on anything to weigh it down. Hang and spin. Happy Earth Day!

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Spring Craft: Make Paper Daffodils Fri, 18 Mar 2011 13:18:18 +0000

Spring Paper Daffodils

There’s nothing that reminds me of Spring more than daffodils, but sadly ours have already come and gone early this year. With the first day of Spring coming up I thought we’d make some simple paper daffodils to brighten the house. I think this would make a great craft project for a birthday party because it’s relatively simple with no mess.

All you’ll need is paper of varying yellow shades, scissors, a glue stick and a pipe cleaner. Follow the instructions below:

1. Start with a 4″ square of paper.

2. Fold in half diagonally.

3. Fold in half diagonally again.

4. And one more time.

5. Cut into a petal shape and snip a hole in the tip. Open to reveal the petals.

6. Now cut the center circle to 2 1/2″.

7. Cut this circle in half.

8. With the glue stick, apply glue to one side of an edge.

9. Shape the half-circle into a cone.

10. Fold down one end of the pipe cleaner.

11. Apply some glue to the center of the flower.

12. Assemble by putting the cone into the flower opening, then putting the pipe cleaner through this hole, securing with the pipe cleaner.

Happy Spring!

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Presidents’ Day Craft: Kid Coins Thu, 17 Feb 2011 14:13:44 +0000

Presidents' Day Craft

After explaining to my children what Presidents’ Day is all about and looking at presidents on our coins, we decided to try a shrinky dink project to make our own currency! This is an incredibly simple 10-minute project perfect for any day. My six-year-old daughter decided that she should be worth $10 (and have pink hair).

I think it would be fun to make a lot of these “kid coins” to use as currency in your household. Say, each kid can earn coins for good behavior and spend them at the end of the week for special outings or other privileges. It’s great to have the kids invested in the process (so to speak).

All you need are shrinky dinks and colored pencils.

  1. First, cut a circle from the shrinky dink plastic. For our project we used a 2 1/2″ circular hole punch and ended up with a shape just larger than a quarter, so you can experiment with different sizes for your coins.
  2. Next, have your child draw a self-portrait with pencils. With an older child, this may be a good time to talk about profiles in portraiture. With my six-year-old, I just went for the straight-on image. If you are using any numbers or text, be sure to write them in mirror image so they will read correctly on the shiny side.
  3. And last, shrink the plastic according to the package instructions.

And in case you need a refresher, here are the presidents on our everyday coins. My daughter asked why there were no women on coins, and though I told her about Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea, it was pretty obvious who’s been in charge around here! Time to change that someday soon, I hope. But for now, enjoy your long weekend.

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Valentine’s Day Cards from Cupid Thu, 20 Jan 2011 17:35:57 +0000

I know Valentine’s Day is still a few weeks away, but they always seem to take forever at our house, so better to start early. Here’s a quick and simple printable card that your children can assemble on their own with just a few materials. Perfect for elementary kids who go through many, many pencils. And the pencils are a good alternative to candy.


  • card stock
  • scissors
  • hole punch
  • pipe cleaners (1 per card)
  • pencils
  1. Click here to download the card template and print it on card stock.
  2. Cut out each heart.
  3. Cut a pipe cleaner in half and twist one piece onto the end of the pencil. Repeat with the other pipe cleaner piece. to form the end of the “arrow”.
  4. With the hole punch, make a hole in the lower left and upper right corners of the heart. Now would be a good time to have your child sign his or her name to the back of the card.
  5. Poke the pencil through the front of the card, then bend the card until you can bring the pencil back out the second hole. Slide the card down until it’s around the center of the pencil.

All done! It should be noted that sharp pencils may not be appropriate for younger kids, but you could always use unsharpened pencils. And unfortunately there are quite a few songs about arrows, hearts and Cupid. Hopefully you won’t get any of them stuck in your head all day like I did. Sorry, maybe you will.

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Free Printable & Digital Holiday Cards Thu, 16 Dec 2010 14:52:49 +0000

Free Holiday Photo Card

If you’re like us, you haven’t finished your shopping, much less thought about holiday cards. Here are some easy photo cards that you can print out, or if you have some basic Photoshop skills you can customize the card and e-mail it to your friends. We have been taking the latter option for the past couple of years. Not only is it a more eco-friendly way to go, but it’s so much faster! I still mail a card to those few relatives who don’t regularly check e-mail.

I’ve made them with both “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Christmas”, so take your pick. Below are the printable versions with no background color. Simply download the .pdf file and print on white or ivory card stock, cut and add a 4″x6″ photo.

Photo Card Happy Holidays

Photo Card Merry Christmas

The digital images below can be saved and opened in Photoshop or other image-editing software for you to add your own photo. If using Photoshop, simply open a file below, add your 4″ x 6″ photo (resolution 72 pixels/inch), flatten the image and save for web. E-mail it to all your friends and family and your done. Or heck, you could just post it on facebook, twitpics or your blog these days. Do you really need to update people on what you’re doing these days? They probably know what you ate for lunch.

So, there’s an answer to your holiday cards for your high-tech or low-tech needs. (Only ‘Personal Use’ please). Happy Holidays!

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Blooming Holidays FREE Printable Gift Tags & Wine Bottle Hangers Fri, 03 Dec 2010 22:19:51 +0000

The holidays are upon us! Don’t go out in the cold to shop for holiday wrap, stay at home and print out these gift tags, small enclosure cards and wine bottle hangers. Simply print them on card stock, cut around the dotted lines and go! Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, or any other holiday, these cards will look beautiful adorning your packages.

Scroll down to the bottom for the downloadable .pdf files.

Click the links below to print out the files:

Christmas Flower Wine Bottle Hangers

Christmas Flower Circular Gift Tags

Christmas Flower Enclosure Cards

Snowflake Flower Wine Bottle Hangers

Snowflake Flower Circular Gift Tags

Snowflake Flower Enclosure Cards

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