Sara Feulner, Author at Loanables - Page 2 of 2

About Sara Feulner

A lifelong entrepreneur and start up junkie, Sara loves technology, culture, ideas, and people! Prior to her current quest to raise 4 young children to be creative risk takers, Sara studied at Harvard Business School and lived and worked both in Austin and Internationally building great teams and great Companies.


View all posts by Sara Feulner

Making the Most of Your Backyard

When reading through my Facebook feed the other day, I came across the following request for recommendations: “So in love with our little back yard and dying to get some use out of it. Any suggestions for fun backyard games for a smaller yard? (other than beer pong, that is :-)”  
 
As a brainstorm loving, creative, idea person, I could barely control myself.  The options were endless.  My first thought was “Armadillo washers – I LOVE a good game of washers.  It’s social and competitive and VERY Texas.”  But the more I thought about it, the ideas kept flowing: “What about Giant Jenga?  I have been wanting to play a game of Jenga with my kids and Giant Jenga looks like twice the fun!  And, there’s always horseshoes and croquet – oldies but goodies in my mind.  And, I saw this really cool Giant Connect Four game on Amazon the other day – that looks fun.”  And the brainstorm in my head went on
 
This morning I woke up with a new view on this whole backyard dilemma.  Why pick one thing (or even two)?  Why not have a rotating backyard “play station”?  Rather than buying one game that you can get tired of after a while, you could rent one for a day or a week and then trade it in and rent another?  Or, have a standing backyard game night with friends or neighbors and rent a new game each time.  From experience I know that games get played with a lot at first but then the excitement wanes and they fall by the wayside.  This way you wouldn’t have a bunch of unused stuff laying around.  Plus, I would personally enjoy my backyard MORE if there was something new to play on a regular basis.  
 giant jengaI looked on loanables.com for some ideas that I could share with my Facebook friend and the options were endless.  I saw the Giant Jenga and Giant Connect Four I had been thinking of but there was also Giant Chess, Ladder Golf, and a ton of really great inflatable games (how cool does Inflatable Simon Says sound?) that I would love to try out.  They even have bundles which included more than one game which would be so great for a party.  There are enough choices to have a new one every week all summer or every month all year and I am sure they would add more if people requested them (giant scrabble perhaps?).  I got so excited about what I found that I started to think about my own backyard and how I could try out some of these games by renting them.  
Bean Bag Toss GameSo, if you are looking for a way to make the best of your backyard or looking for some new games to play with your family or friends, maybe renting is the way to go,  I am on to my next brainstorm – Saturday afternoon backyard party themes – food, drinks, and games.  I can’t wait – I am thinking “Old Fashioned Family BBQ” or “Board Games are Bigger in Texas” or “Family Olympics” and if my kids are away at a friend’s one Saturday I am not counting out “Just Like in our College Days” complete with Beer Pong!

How to Make Bean Bags

DIY Bean Bags

During the summer months, I am always looking for creative things to do with my kids that will not only keep them busy for an hour but will give them weeks of happiness and entertainment.  So many of our summer craft projects end up in a pile of “completed work” or as a temporary decoration for the refrigerator so I am always excited when I find a project that doubles as a toy!

Last summer, I decided to make bean bags with my kids and they were a HUGE hit! Not only are they great for playing corn hole, you can make up games throwing them in empty cardboard boxes, have a bean bag fight, and the list goes on.  Plus, they are SUPER easy to make (with a little help for young kids) and really cute – you can even give them as homemade gifts.
Materials
  1. Fabric – I used scraps of lightweight canvas and made 3” x 6” bean bags (so you would need 2 3” x 6” pieces for each bag).  If you don’t have fabric scraps, an old pair of jeans works great!
  2. Thread
  3. Sewing pins
  4. Dried beans (I used dried pinto beans because that’s what I had)
  5. OPTIONAL: sewing machine or serger (I think kids love to use a sewing machine and it makes the project move faster so you can get more bean bags during their attention span)
  6. OPTIONAL: cutting mat and rotary cutter (Makes it a lot faster and easier)
Instructions
  1. Cut out your beanbag front and back 3”x6” using a rotary cutter and mat (parental help needed).  If you want to try this out and don’t own one, you can always rent one here.  You can always draw a rectangle on your fabric with a sharpie or pencil and cut it out using scissors.
  2. Put the wrong sides of the front and back pieces together and sew around the edges of 3 sides leaving one of the short sides open.  You can either use an overlock stitch on a serger or a zig zag stitch on a regular sewing machine (available for rent here).  I let my kids sit on my lap and do the sewing which they thought was a lot of fun!
  3. Fill the bag with beans through the open end.
  4. Pin the open side closed using sewing pins.
  5. Sew across the open side to close the beanbag using a serger or a zig zag stitch.  If you use a serger you need to be careful to take out the pins before sewing.
  6. Play!  My kids are still playing with these a year later.  We even rented a Corn hole game (available here) when we had some friends over recently and my kids loved playing with (and showing off) their own homemade bean bags!
corn hole set

A Great Preschool Party Theme!

Peace, Love & Preschool

My kids’ preschool has a family day every year where families can go and see their children’s artwork, have lunch, and socialize with their kids’ friends and their families.  This year, I was put in charge of Family Day and while it was a lot of work, it turned out great and I am already looking forward to chairing next year’s event.  I thought our theme was adorable and easy; so, the whole event is begging to be replicated!  Here’s what we did:
First, we came up with a theme.  Given the times, we went with Peace, Love, and Preschool (insert the name of the school here).  We decided to go with peace signs, bright colors, and 60’s garb.  We quickly had some invitations mocked up inviting all of the families to come, bring a picnic blanket (think 60’s music festivals), and enjoy the day.
Next, we broke into 3 committees: food, entertainment, and decorations and let the creative juices of each committee flow.
 
Food – being in Austin, we decided to stick with Food Trucks.  Since we weren’t offering tables or chairs, we went with food you could eat standing up – Corn Dogs, Funnel Cakes, and Sno-cones.  We used:
Hands Off My Funnel Cake and Kona Ice.  They both drove their trailers right into the preschool parking lot and set up shop. These are both really affordable options for a school sponsored event OR if you are asking everyone to pay for their own food.
We also offered bottled water and Lemonade which we served in dispensers like the ones here.
 
Entertainment:
– Face Painters and Balloon Artists – we hired 2 of each to keep the kids happy and entertained.  We used Epic Entertainment and they were great!  My girls ended up with the fanciest balloon animals I have ever seen – hard to part with when they pop but really fun to play with!
– Spin Art – we bought some spin art machines like these and cut our own paper to size (although you could easily buy it).  We added a clothes line and clothes pins to hang the art around the party to dry.  It was really cute!
– Kids Karaoke – We set up a stage out of wooden crates on the playground and hooked the karaoke machine (rentable here) up to a kids dance mix.  We also bought props for the kids – Inflatable GuitarsGlitter Microphones, SunglassesNecklaces, and some hippie vests we made out of paper bags and then let the kids decorate (here’s how).  This activity was a hit.  The kids loved it!
Decorations – we had an amazing decorations committee and we ended up with:
– Event T-shirts which we sold before and at the event itself.  At my house, we have to “doctor” all of our outfits to make them as girly as possible so the shoulder ribbons are definitely an add-on.
– A “photo booth” VW bus made out of a large piece of white corrugated cardboard sheets from Office Depot.  We duct taped it to kids chairs which acted as both a stand and as something for the kids to stand on while we took their pictures.
– Cardboard Peace Signs Decorated with plastic flowers.  There are tons of ideas for this on Pinterest – here’s a cute one
– LOTS of balloons – Both Tie Dye and White balloons with daisies on the ribbons – something like these but substitute your favorite hippie flower
– And a few other things we picked up on Amazon like these.hippie decorations
Of course we also brought in a few folding tables and chairs for the face painters, spin art, and lemonade – you can rent those on loanables.com here and here.  It was great art and great company.  The party was a HUGE success!

How to Make a T-Shirt Quilt

If you have a closet full of old t-shirts that you never wear but you just can’t bring yourself to throw away, why not make them into a t-shirt quilt?  T-shirt quilts are the number one thing people ask me to make for them or want to know how to make themselves.  Let me tell you – they are SO easy.  Even if you are a beginning sewist you can easily turn your t-shirts into a work of art because you only have to sew in a straight line (or semi-straight – swervy seams just add character to your masterpiece).

Here’s what you need:

– T-shirts – I have made quilts that have anywhere from 9 to 30 t-shirts so pull out what you have.

– A large cardboard box (Optional) – to make a template for your t-shirt design

– Fusible fabric stabilizer –  Pellon 820 Quilter’s Grid and 821 Quilter’s Grid On-Point are great choices because they have grid lines that help with layout and construction – if you are a beginner these are for you!

– Iron

– Rotary Cutter and Rotary Mat – If you don’t own one, why not rent one from Loanables.com here?  Beware that you will probably decide it is something you can’t live without and end up purchasing one of your own.

– Fabric for borders (optional) and backing – the amount of fabric you need depends on the size of your finished quilt so you will need to figure out how you want your quilt to look and go from there.

– Batting – I like Natural Cotton batting – it stays put, is nice and flat and is easy to sew on!  Try Quilter’s Dream or Warm n Natural batting available at your local quilt shop or on Amazon.com here

– Sewing Machine – rentable on loanables.com here.

– Thread

– Sewing Needles

– Pins – quilting pins or safety pins

Making Your Quilt Top – Step By Step:

Step 1:

Lay out all your t-shirts and measure the largest design you want to include in your measuring tape.  Common sizes for your “squares’ range from 10” x 10” for children’s t-shirts up to 18” x 18”.  I often make a template that will cover the largest design and use it to cut out all of t-shirt designs.

Step 2:

Decide what size you want your quilt to be.  This will be dependent on how many shirts you want to use and how big your squares are.

Below are some standard quilt sizes (although your quilt can be any shape and size you want and it will still be perfect!)

– Crib – 42” x 72”

– Twin – 66” x 96”

– Double/full – 81” x 96”

– Queen – 90” x 102”

– Standard King – 108” x 102”

– California King – 102” x 110”

These dimensions can be made entirely out of t-shirts OR you can add sashing/borders between the shirts to get your desired length and width. (NOTE: I ALWAYS use borders – I think it adds to the quilt).

Step 3:

Cut the t-shirt fronts off of the t-shirt backs.  All you have to do is cut up the side seams and across the shoulders to free the shirt fronts from the shirt backs.  You can then use the designs on either the front or back or both!  I have even used little designs off of t-shirt sleeves as patches on my quilts OR I sew them together to make a larger square.

Step 4:

Cut squares out of your fusible fabric stabilizer the size of your desired t-shirt squares.  This is SO quick and easy if you cut them using a rotary cutter and mat.

Step 5:

Iron the fusible fabric stabilizer to the back of the t-shirt designs you want to use – be sure to center the design in the middle o the stabilizer.

Step 6:

Cut out your t-shirt designs around the edges of the fusible fabric stabilizer.  Again, this is VERY fast if you cut with your rotary cutter and mat.

Step 7:

Lay out your quilt top.  Make sure the t-shirt designs are where you want them to be and lay out your borders until you are happy.  If you are using borders, now is the time to cut your borders using your rotary cutter and mat OR, you can buy a Jelly Roll of fabric and use the strips as your quilt borders.

Step 8:

Pin the t-shirt design squares together directly or to a border.  I usually pin one, sew it, iron it, and then pin the next one on it.  Be careful ironing t-shirt designs as they may melt so make sure to use a low temperature iron.

Step 9:

Sew your shirts/borders together to make your quilt top.

Step 10:

Iron the whole quilt top so that it is really flat.

After you are done admiring your work, it’s time to construct the quilt back.  I often wait until the top is done to choose my backing fabric – I like patterned fabric on the back to pull all the colors from the front together.  Here is a quilt where I used  a great patterned fabric and the leftover shirt designs for the back.

To make the backing:

Step 1: Measure your quilt.  You will need to buy a piece of fabric at least as long as your quilt from top to bottom.  If your quilt is wider than 44” or 60” you will need double this.  There are some fancy ways to piece your back together using less fabric but for a first timer, I would go for 2xlength.

Step 2: Cut and piece your back together to be the same size as your quilt top.

Step 3: Iron your backing so that it is really flat.

Cutting the Batting:

Finally, cut your batting the same size as your quilt back.  I usually lay my batting out on the floor or a very large table and lay my quilt back on top of it.  I then cut around the quilt back using scissors or a rotary cutter.

Putting It All Together:

Now you are ready to assemble your quilt!  I have done this 2 ways – both are great – it just depends on the look you are going for.

The Flipping Method:

I love this method as it is easy and finishes the edges without having to “bind” the quilt.  To do this you should:

1 – Lay your batting out on the floor or a large table.

2 – Lay your quilt back face up on top of your batting so that the edges meet and are even.

3 – Lay your quilt top face down on top of your quilt back.

4 – Pin around the edges.

5 – Carefully pick your quilt up and sew around the edges leaving about an 18” opening.  I would allow about a 5/8” to 1” seam allowance – sometimes the edges are uneven so a slightly bigger seam allowance makes sure you catch all the edges and don’t have any holes in your seam.  If your sewing machine has a walking foot, it sometimes helps to use that to get the batting and quilt top and back through the machine evenly.

6 – Carefully flip your quilt right side out – the back should be on the back and the front on the front and the batting in between.

7 – Close the 18” opening by turning the seam allowance to the inside, pinning the opening closed and stitching close to the edge.

8 – Lay your quilt on the floor or table and pull it until it is really flat.

9 – Pin the layers together – I use a ton of pins…everywhere.

10 – Stitch through all of the quilt layers to hold them together.  I usually just stitch in the ditch (in between the shirts or between the border and shirts in a grid like pattern) so that your batting doesn’t move in between the front and back and your quilt stays together.  This also helps the designs pop out a bit.

The Sandwich Method:

This is a more traditional method with a binding.  It takes a little more work but it turns out beautifully.

1 – Lay your quilt back face down on a table or the floor

2 – Lay the batting down on top of the quilt back matching up the edges

3 – Lay the quilt top down on top of the batting face up so that you make a sandwich

4 – Pin the quilt all over to hold it together while you sew

5 – I usually sew around the edge about 1” from the edge of the fabric to hold everything in the sandwich

6 – Stitch in the ditch (in between the shirts or between the border and shirts in a grid like pattern).

7 – Add a binding to finish your quilt.  You can either make your own bias binding or buy pre-made binding from your local quilt shop or Amazon.com.

Here is a great step by step for binding a quilt on craftsy.com if you have never done a binding: binding a quilt

And that’s it!  I love to help people complete their projects so if you ever have questions, feel free to e-mail me at saraarizona2@gmail.com

Happy Quilting!

Confessions of a Pinterest Mom

I admit it…I’m hooked.  I love Pinterest and all the amazing ideas that come with it.  As a mom of 4 kids 6 and under, I especially love the kid stuff: decorating for kids, kid crafts, kid parties, … and the list goes on.  And I don’t stop at Pinterest, I love to create new things – pull themes from Google, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. together to pull off amazingly creative stuff.  And when I don’t have time to do it all, I come up with the ideas and I outsource it.  

Most recently, I focused all these efforts on throwing a 5th birthday party for my daughter.  I know she would have happily had a bounce house and a piñata and called it a day but that wouldn’t be nearly as fun would it?  So, we settled on a cookie decorating party and decided to have it at our “new” house – a future demo project that happens to be sitting empty.  It was a lot of work but anyone could pull this off…even if you’re not a Pinterest mom.  Here’s how:

What you need:

  • Tables and chairs – especially important if you don’t hold the party at home – available on loanables.com here
  • Party supplies – plates, napkins, cups, utensils, table cloths, happy birthday banner, etc.  in the theme of your choice – tons of choices on Amazon.  We used these rainbow unicorns
  • Piñata and loot – available at Party City or your local party supply store – I filled mine with rainbow starburst, dum dums, and mardi gras beads – all very cheap in bulk at Party City


  • Cookies and icing – this is where you can outsource – if you are in Austin, check out junebugandmoo.com – my friend Megan is amazing and made rainbow unicorn cookies with special sprinkles and icing in squeeze bottles for the kids to decorate.  The cookies were easy and adorable!  

     

     

  • Aprons – you can rent these, buy them or make them.  I bought aprons in rainbow colors and embroidered the kids’ names on them (you can totally do it without their names but I can sew so why not?).  Then I hung them on the wall as decoration.   
  • Glitter handled spoons – I made these following the instructions here: Making Glitter Spoons   or you can buy them on Etsy here. I also found some cute tags on Etsy from NecessiTees to tie around the spoons.  

  • Cake – I bought a plain cake from Whole Foods and topped it with some extra special cookies from JunebugandMoo.com

  • Food/Snacks/Drinks – available from your local grocery (or Costco where I buy everything!).  I put mine in some tin buckets and labeled them with chalk labels.

When the kids arrived at our party, they found their aprons and headed out to decorate some cookies on the patio.  After they were done and had had a snack, we hit the piñata, collected our treasures (you can use the apron pockets as collection bags), and finished up with some delicious cake.  The kids had a blast and I was a happy Pinterest mom since the whole thing was so darn cute.  I just wish I had taken a picture of all the kids in their party aprons!

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