Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lullaby Paints - Primer, Wall Paint and Wood Paint

Lullaby Paints' Wood Paint, Wall Paint and Wall Primer in its unique packaging

A few years ago, when we first bought our house, I went to one of the big home improvement chains to buy paint for our master closet.  The previous owner's kids had scribbled with marker all over the walls and we wanted a fresh coat of paint to cover their abstract art.

At the time, I was aware of VOCs and wanted to get a Zero VOC paint.  An employee in the paint department told me that there was no difference between Zero VOC paint and Low VOC paint.  Since the chain didn't carry any paint cans marked Zero VOC, I trusted her, and bought one of their Low VOC paints instead, (This same woman also convinced me that a dark brown paint was the only one that would cover marker on the walls and led to the creation of what our friends will forever call, "the poop closet," so clearly I have a lot to thank her for).

We hadn't moved into the house yet so I went there and diligently painted the walls the color of feces over several days.  Even with a mask on and a window open, letting in the crisp November air, my head was throbbing from the paint fumes and it took well over a month to dissipate.  I wasn't pregnant with my first child yet, and like I said, we weren't living in the house, so I take some solace in that when I look back on the toxin-filled experience.

Four years and two kids later, when it came time to paint our basement, I knew I wasn't going to be fooled again.  I did my research and found three companies offering Zero VOC paints.  Two were available locally and one was only available online in my state, and that was the paint for us: Lullaby Paints.

This Zero VOC paint has a smell to it but it isn't the normal VOC-filled fumes and it doesn't smell as strong as even Crayola paints.  And after application I didn't notice any smell from the primer, and just a slight smell, like I mentioned, less apparent than Crayola's acrylic paints, the day the walls and ceiling were painted but it was gone within a few hours and smelled nothing like the highly chemical smell of regular wall paint.

Here are the ingredients:

The word "vinyl" is in there, and I normally avoid anything vinyl because that generally means phthalates.  But according to this website, polyvinyl acetate dispensers do not contain phthalates.  And Lullaby Paint's blog post on how to choose safe nursery paints lists all the toxins normal paints contain that theirs do not, and phthalates are on that list as well.

"Conventional paints contain a host of VOCs, leading to indoor air pollution levels up to 1,000 times higher than outdoors. From carcinogens to neurotoxicants, here’s a roster of super-toxic nasties you’ll find: terpenes, formaldehyde, acrolein, phthalates, glycol, toluene, methylene chloride, styrene, trichloroethylene, xylenes, and benzene. None of these belong in a baby nursery!"

Lullaby Paints are just available in a few stores and none was in my area so we had to pick the colors online.  I was a little nervous about that but Lullaby Paints will send you paint color cards to find the color you want.  I'm glad we got that because the whites were very different on the color card than how they looked on my computer screen.  You can also order sample pouches for a few dollars.  We finally picked our colors, placed our large order of primer, wall paint, wood paint and chalkboard paint, and within a few days the paint was on our porch.

The paint does come in a lot of packaging.  Because it is in pouches instead of cans, (something that makes disposal way more eco-friendly), it arrived safely nestled in boxes inside of boxes that were filled with packaging peanuts.  I came up with a great way to upcycle the boxes though and will be posting that next week.

Our painters were totally taken aback by the fact that the paint was in pouches.  Lullaby Paints' website helps you figure out exactly how much to order, as a little can go a long way thanks to their industry leading coverage.

Our painters did complain that the paint was too thin.  Since I don't paint homes very often, I can't confirm or deny that gripe, and I don't know how well they followed the directions.  They did, however, thank me in the end.  They said they have been painting for years but had never ever used paint that had no smell to it.

Yes, it is more expensive than VOC paints.  But I wanted something as non-toxic as wall paint can get.  And the good news is, if you're painting a large area like we did, Lullaby Paints does offer a coupon code for orders over a certain amount. Just contact their customer service and they will give it to you if it hasn't expired.

In the end, I'm glad we went with this paint.  I only wish it was available in stores in all states so more people would be exposed to it, and so that the company could cut down on packaging because it wouldn't need to be shipped.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for posts on making a chalkboard wall with Lullaby Paints' Chalkboard Paint, making small chalkboards with their paint, how to make a chalkboard paint birch tree mural (pictured below), chalkboard stairs, other chalkboard paint crafts, (can you tell we liked their chalkboard paint?), and the upcycle project mentioned earlier with Lullaby Paints' boxes.

Check back every Monday and Thursday for new posts.  

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Our chalkboard wall and birch tree mural, using Lullaby Paints

Sunday, October 26, 2014

DIY Toys: Felt Phone #2

I had made this red phone for my oldest last year and decided to make another one for my youngest this year.

First I cut a large yellow rectangle out for the phone and then a smaller black rectangle out for the display.

I then cut out the following pieces for the keys and the clock display and sewed them onto the black triangle with running stitches.

I then sewed the black rectangle onto the right side of the yellow one with a running stitch.

I then folded the yellow rectangle and sewed the three open edges shut with a blanket stitch.

Finally, I took a black Sharpie Stained marker and drew the digits on and the phone was done!

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Diwali Snack

 I made an easy Diwali snack for my son out of apples, cheese and tangerines.
For the lamps, I just cut circular slices off apples like this:
And then cut the circles in half.
And then for the first lamp, I cut a flame out of cheese:

For the second lamp, I just used a small tangerine slice.


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Sunday, October 19, 2014

DIY India Playmat

Here is a play mat I made out of old scraps of felt and shirts.  We call it the "India play mat" and it is fairly easy to make and is a great DIY gift for Diwali.

If you don't want to sew, you could just cut the mountains and trees and grass and lake out of felt instead of fabric and place it on top of a larger piece of felt.  Or you could make the same play mat out of construction paper, poster board and glue.

I made a crow, parrot, monkey, cobra, cow, mouse and peacock out of felt for my kids to play with on the India play mat as well.  The animals are modeled off the ones in my Hindi/Marathi/Gujarati Book of Animals books so my older son also has fun matching them to the animals in those books.

This Thursday will be the last Diwali post for the year.  It's a couple Diwali lamp shaped snacks for kids or to serve at a Diwali party.
You can search this blog for "Diwali" or "India" to find more Diwali crafts and homemade gift ideas, including these.

Check back every Monday and Thursday for new posts.  Coming up in the next few weeks: Lullaby Paints wall paints, chalkboard paints, a chalkboard mural, DIY chalkboards, a cardboard box craft, more DIY toys, green toy recommendations, and more info on green products.
And if you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books and YA novel, and my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Homemade Costumes: Mouse or Rat

On Monday I showed you how to make a pig costume or Wilbur, from Charlotte's Web.  Today we are making Templeton the rat, my son's Halloween costume.

I didn't have his gray sweatpants handy but with gray pants the mouse/rat costume looks great! 

I bought a $9 hoodie from the girl's section at Kohl's and cut out the following shapes from gray felt for the ears and tail.  By folding the felt this way for the ears, I get four identical shapes, or two pairs of ears.

I then sewed pink circles onto the ears, sewed the gray circles closed using a blanket stitch, and sewed the ears to the hood.

Then I folded the triangular tail in half and sewed it closed using a blanket stitch, sewed the tail to the bottom back of the sweatshirt, and then drew pink lines on the rat's tail

That does it for my Halloween posts for this year.  Be sure to check in next week for more Diwali crafts and snacks.
Our Fall felt board

Check back every Monday and Thursday for new posts.  Coming up in the next few weeks: more DIY toys, green toy recommendations, and more info on green products.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Homemade Costumes: Pig

For my son's first Halloween, I made him a pig costume.  He was Wilbur from Charlotte's Web, and our dog was Charlotte thanks to an old spider costume we had bought her years earlier that she patiently wears for about ten seconds before shaking it off her body.

I bought a pink shirt, footie and hat set from Target's baby girl section for around $10.

Using pink fabric scraps, I cut out two pairs of triangles to serve as the ears, and sewed them to the pink hat.

I cut a strip out of the fabric and sewed the two ends together to make a snout.  I then cut out a circle for the end of the snout and sewed to black dots on it before sewing it onto one end of the cylinder.  I then sewed the other end of it to the hat.

Finally, I cut out a pair of spirals from the pink fabric and sewed it together to make a tail.  I sewed that to the butt of the pants.

I then took a black double thread and sewed a cobweb and the words "some pig" onto the torso.  The outfit already had a silver butterfly on its chest so I drew and sewed the web around it to make it look like the butterfly was in the cobweb.  If sewing isn't your thing, you can just use a Sharpie Stained fabric pen to draw the web and words on.

And since I'm all about re-using here (ahem, or lazy), we are re-using that costume on the baby this year and my older child will be Templeton.  So look back here Thursday for an easy rat costume.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Felt Krishna

Felt Hindu Gods make great Diwali gifts for young kids.  Here is how to make Krishna:

1.) Cut out the following felt pieces:

Note: the torso is in duplicate

2.) Using black thread doubled, sew two eyes and a mouth onto the front of the face, and red for the tikka.
3) Sew the two duplicate torso pieces together using a blanket or whip stitch.
4.) Fold the feet pieces in half and sew them together with a blanket or whip stitch.
5.) Sew the two yellow pants together using a blanket or whip stitch on the sides.  You will need to attach the torso at the waist to the pants and attach the feet at the points at the bottom of the pants.
6.) Use a running stitch to attach the hair to the back of the head.  
7.) Sew the yellow circle to the back of the hair and the triangle to the front to make the crown.
8.) Sew the three little pieces of green, yellow and blue, (in the upper left of the picture), to the front of the crown to make the peacock feather.
9.) Sew the two yellow bands to Krishna's wrists for his cuffs.
10.) To make the waist sash, sew the yellow piece, (pictured to the right of Krishna's waist), over the waist of the pants.  Then sew the three vertical scraps of felt (yellow, green and yellow) over the left side of the waist sash, at the smallest triangular point.
11.) Finally, sew the yellow sash diagonally over Krishna's right shoulder and you're all done!

Previous Indian Felt Characters (see pictures below):

For more Diwali themed posts and gift ideas, click here (pictures below):

Check back every Monday and Thursday for new posts.  Coming up in the next few weeks: more DIY toys, including an Indian themed play mat, green toy recommendations, Homemade Halloween Costumes, and more info on green products.

Follow me on Twitter @soups25

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Play Food Tutorial: Tea

I made quick, simple tea bags for my kids' play kitchen.
PlanToys tea set with a wool felt teabag
I cut the tea bags out of wool felt and then did a running stitch to create the borders.
I then cut out shapes for the labels and sewed them together.
Finally, I cut some ribbon and sewed the two pieces to either end of the ribbon.
Front and back view of the teabags
They just took a few minutes to make and my son loves them.  If you don't want to sew, you could always use a hot glue gun to attach the ribbon to the bag and the label.

To see my earlier play food tutorials, click here:

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