Friday, February 27

The Scrambled States of America

This is one of our favorite books. So fun and surprisingly educational. I've shared our experience with this book over at Blissful Kids today. Come and see!

Wednesday, February 25

Child-directed cutting exercise

My daughter initiated this project the other day and I was happy to follow along with her. She requested some of my colored paper, markers, and scissors. Her idea was to draw a window or X shape onto the full-size sheet of paper; then, follow the lines with scissors and cut through the X. I suggested she put the pieces together like a puzzle. This part was more difficult for her versus my son as her cutting skills are more advanced and her pieces were more similar in shape.
After cutting the full-size paper into quarters, she proceeded to draw another window on one of the 4 squares and cut along those lines, while directing me to do the same. She continued drawing windows and cutting squares until the smallest was less than 1/2" big.
Lastly, we got out a glue stick and glued the pieces together, starting with the biggest square and layering each smaller square on top.
Such a simple project, but so wonderful that it was her idea. It was a refreshing change to have my daughter leading me in a craft project.

Monday, February 23

Kid-stuffed crescents

That's crescent rolls stuffed by kids, not stuffed with kids-a fun and relatively healthy snack time activity.
When I suggest a food-related activity for my kids, if it's not cookies or other sweet food, I try to make sure it has some novel elements to it. For instance, I don't think my kids have ever seen a package of crescent rolls so I knew this had the novelty factor working for us. Communal bowls of food are outside of routine and therefore fun, and finally the creative license allowed in making these snacks followed by some rolling action made this a winner.
I recently purchased a can of Pillsbury crescents to have on hand for this project. Today we needed an activity (and a snack) so I scrambled up some eggs with frozen hash browns, pulled out some leftover cooked broccoli, shredded cheese, and a little bowl of jelly. The kids and I pulled apart the rolls and placed them on a baking sheet, they spooned on the fillings of their choice and rolled them up. While I baked the stuffed rolls, the kids actually sat at the table and ate the remaining stuffing ingredients (!). Yes, they spooned some jelly straight from the bowl into their mouth, but I figured I could let that slide since they were also finishing off the broccoli and eggs.
When the rolls were finished, we all (with slight exceptions, as jelly and broccoli combined are not terrible in small doses), enjoyed eating them.

Friday, February 20

Hanging photo display

Every once in a while I have this need to make something specific and this morning was one of those whiles. I constructed this simple photo display using materials I had on hand: computer-printed photos, cardstock (optional), laminating sheet (optional), tin can lids, ribbon, double stick tape, scissors and/or circle cutter. Oh, and a power drill. I cut and laminated photos (backed with yellow cardstock) to fit some lids from the recycling bin. I drilled some holes at the top and bottom of each lid and threaded an 1/8" ribbon through (with the ribbon behind the lid). Lastly, I stuck the photos in and hung it from a little nail.

Related: Some time ago, I shared a little tutorial for making single photo magnets with can lids.

And just FYI, in case it makes any of you feel any better...things do go pretty much to pot in our home if I take time to work on a project by myself without first having a plan for keeping the kids occupied. This morning I had no plan. I never learn.

Also today, catch me at Blissful Kids. I'm guest posting with our faithful granola recipe.
They have some very talented and creative contributors at Blissful Kids. It's a great resource for playful and educational activities to do with your children. Check it out!

Thursday, February 19

Vintage metal child's chair

I found this little green chair at a thrift shop one time and fell in love with it. Way before I had kids. Then, surprisingly, my mom and I found a red version at a shop near her house. Of course, she had to have it.
These little chairs have a lot going for them. They're cute (a must, right?), sturdy yet lightweight, they have that unique vintage charm, and are the perfect size for wee ones. Fun and functional.

Friday, February 13

Mini Icebox cookies

I noticed multiple posts about old-fashioned icebox cookies and cakes recently, just as I was preparing some for a friend's baby shower. I'm always surprised when that happens even though it seems to happen often.
Today I have a post up at Blissful Kids on making miniature icebox cookies. Perfect for a child's Valentine party, or if too late for that, for you and your family to enjoy over the weekend.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 12

Red and blue, I still love you

I was directed to a lovely blog yesterday and found yet another person, or several if you read the comments, enamored by the red and blue (light blue/turquoise/teal) color combo. I have been a member of this admiring group for some time and after reading that post was prompted to capture a sample of my red and blue on camera.
Thanks again, Jess, for the pretty banner.

Wednesday, February 11

Valentine fingerprints and chocolate lollipops

My daughter is attending a Valentine party for the little girls in her preschool-homeschool co-op today and needed a card and treat for each girl. Due to my natural inclination to procrastinate, we needed something quick and easy. But cute, of course.
We ended up making these fingerprint heart cards and chocolate lollipops. She tired out before finishing writing the whopping 8 cards (I know, she's 4), so these are a combination of her words and mine. All her fingerprints. I got the idea for the cards after seeing these on The Crafty Crow. I don't have any stamp pads, so we just colored her fingertip with washable marker. Easy clean up!

For the lollipops, we used this Wilton mold. I guess I did plan that part in advance. I purchased the mold and some candy melts a couple weeks ago at Michael's. I heated up the candy, poured it into squeeze bottles, then let my kids fill the molds. All you do after that is add the lollipop sticks and refrigerate to firm up. Quick!

The thing I did not get at Michael's, however, was a set of lollipop bags. How else do you wrap these? After recently reading this post at Martha Stewart and this one at Zakka Life, I decided to use regular old plastic zip bags. I pulled out my sewing machine (already threaded with red, luckily) and stitched through a plastic bag to make several smaller candy bags. (Pay no attention to that heart shape there. Although, if you wanted to make a heart-shaped bag, I'd say create the same rectangle shape needed as usual, but curve the top. When you tie it around the lollipop it will look like a heart). After sewing the rectangles, I cut them out, pulled them over the lollipops and tied them off.
Ta da! Cute, quick, and easy.

P.S. I've used the candy melts for lollipops, truffles, and other molded candy recently and just can't get accustomed to that flavor. Any candy makers out there familiar with another chocolate used for candy that melts well and actually tastes good?

Friday, February 6

Valentine garlands

Technically, it's still Friday, and I said I'd post the last part of our Valentine garland sampler today. I'm counting the hanging apparatus, a red painted yardstick, as the finishing touch on this decorative display.
I do love an old yardstick, especially a painted one. I wiped this one down, painted it with my kids' washable red tempera, and coated it with acrylic gloss medium. I stuck a piece of sturdy velcro (white like our walls) to each end of the yardstick and the corresponding pieces of velcro to the top of an archway between our dining room and living room and pressed it into place. It was easy to slip the garland loops over the ends of the yardstick and I love that I can easily pull the whole thing down and add or rearrange hanging elements. I can see getting more use out of this system throughout the year.
Oh, and I did make one other decoration to hang with our garland. A three-sided paper heart. You could hang these individually or as garland. Cut three same-size hearts in same-color or coordinating papers. Score down the middle of the backside of each. Fold slightly, stick the backsides of the hearts together, making sure to stick in your fishing line or string before sticking down the third side.

Cereal box garland

My final garland this week is made from cardboard cereal boxes. I love the bold colors, graphics and unexpected quality of this garland. Nice to stray from the traditional pink and red combo, too. Detailed instructions for making your own are posted at Blissful Kids today.

Fabric Valentine garland

Another common, but always special, garland is a fabric heart garland. For mine, I created 3 different cardboard heart templates, traced them onto festive fabrics and cut them out. I placed each fabric heart on a piece of felt of the same size, sewed them together and pinked the edges. Lastly, I sewed the whole string (of 5 hearts) from top to bottom (or was it bottom to top?), leaving the thread long at the top for hanging. I put narrow strips of tissue paper in the gaps between the hearts when sewing to give the thread something to grab on to, then pulled out the paper when I finished.
Next up, a guest post at Blissful Kids and the final piece of our holiday garland sampler. 3 posts in one day! Does that help make up for going MIA during the months of December and January?

Wednesday, February 4

More Valentine hearts

Two for one today. Stuffed paper hearts and candy cane hearts.
First the stuffed heart:
We made it with patterned and solid paper, shredded paper, string/ribbon, and a hole punch. I cut out two hearts, one on the patterned paper above, and a second of the same size in solid red. I held the two hearts together and punched holes around the edge. I cut long lengths of 1/4" red satin ribbon and jute.
To lace it, I advise punching two side-by-side holes at the bottom and lacing it up like a shoe, with one half of the ribbon on each side of the heart. Then you can hang it by two ribbons which meet at your hook. I started and the top and worked my way around one side. Also okay, but then I had to tie it off at the top of the heart and string it up with the single ribbon left. Does that make any sense?
Whichever way you choose to lace it, stop part way around to stuff the heart. I let the kids help me shred paper in advance and then they helped stuff it into the heart. I tied it off and hung it up with our other garland.

Second, the candy cane hearts. I used this tutorial at Make and Takes for shaping the candy canes. Then I hung them each by their own ribbon, but grouped them together. Ours are hanging vertically, but I'm sure you could tie them together and hang them horizontally.

More from our Valentine heart garland sampler tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 3

Heart garland and Valentine worms

We've been making a variety of Valentine garlands here. Some the kids have been able to help with, like this one, and some I've made myself. I should be able to share one with you every day this week!
This garland is cute and very simple. We adapted the idea found here (via The Crafty Crow). My kids had so much fun making the Christmas pipe cleaner ornaments, I was sure they'd enjoy the Valentine hearts. They did pretty well at first, but I guess the heart shape was limiting. They were quickly on to making worms and caterpillars. Looking at them, I have to admit their worm families are more interesting than my hearts. Just not as obviously Valentine.

As a side note, I have to mention their process here. Every animal represented in this house is always labeled either a mommy, daddy, kid or baby. Same with the worms and caterpillars below. They had me cut the pipe cleaners so the mommy and daddy were longest, the kid was next and baby last. Age and height are popular and always interesting topics for them. Then they had me tie a ribbon around the families to keep them together. I think pipe cleaner and bead projects will be repeated here throughout the year.

Monday, February 2

Sledding, finally

Despite having an ample amount of snow, we haven't been sledding much this winter. While we enjoy sledding, we much prefer to do it when the kids enjoy it. Meaning, it needs to be above 20 or 30 degrees. We finally got our chance this past weekend, with a whopping 35 degrees, and went twice. Sledding sure is fun.
I have to say, our baby had that Randy thing going (from A Christmas story) the way she was bundled up. She couldn't walk up the hill by herself, nor could I carry her up without slipping, so she took several rides up flat on her back while I pulled the sled. Very entertaining to watch.