Fall Crafts

28 11 2010

With the leaves gone from the trees and the snow starting to fall, we are officially moving into winter, and I’m putting away our fall decorations.  I have never been one to decorate for seasons, but I have to admit that it was fun to come up with these projects and the house looks nice with them up, so we’ll probably do similar activities in the future.  Our first project we started in October and finally finished about a month later.  It was a three-part activity:


First, we colored coffee filters with fall-colored watercolors.  Then, later (much, much later, weeks, maybe?), we cut up the coffee filters to to make our “dry leaves”.  I thought it would be good cutting practice for BB, but he was really struggling with it and got bored quickly, so I did a lot of the cutting myself.  Then our dry leaves got to hang out for a while until we finally got to the last part, making a tree on contact paper:


That part was easy and BB really got into it.  I cut out a tree trunk, placed it on the sticky side of contact paper, and we added our leaves.  The end result was a very cheerful window hanging!

I saw various leaf garlands floating around the internet and decided to give it a try.  We picked up leaves on a walk around the neighborhood and I ironed them in between wax paper (more ironing than I’ve done in months), which flattened them and theoretically gave them a bit of a protective coating.  Then I braided some yarn and BB and I stuck the leaves into the braid and secured them with a dab of glue.  All in all, it was a TON of work.  Braiding yards of yarn is not as easy as it sounds, and hot glue would have been much better, but not with a 3 year old around.  Also, the leaves were really brittle, so it was hard for him to do without breaking them.  So, not a really fun kid project, but I really liked how it looks. 


Last but not least, we made these goofy little turkeys for thanksgiving. 


BB named his “Gus the firefly” and his eyes repeatedly fell off (he has one eye missing here). 

I am hoping to be more intentional (and organized) about the projects we do from now on so in true Type A form, I am making a list.  Haha!  We’ll see how that goes.  It can’t be much worse than our random approach these last few months!


Travel Crafts — Part 3, the final chapter

30 05 2010

Our trip is almost upon us, and I am happy to say I finished up one last little travel goodie!   Although I don’t watch reality TV much, I love the blog So You Think You’re Crafty, which is kind of like, well, any of the reality shows it sounds like.  People compete every week, readers vote on a favorite, and someone is booted.  Last round there was this super cool travel book that I thought would be great entertainment for a car ride, or in a restaurant.  It has a page for a dress-up doll, tic-tac-toe, and coloring.  I felt the need to modify it (no pun intended), since BB doesn’t know how to play tic-tac-toe, and besides, there’s nobody for him to play with even if he did.  And, maybe it’s gender-biased of me, but I didn’t think he’d be that into dressing a doll either.  The page with crayons is fabulous, so that stayed, modified only to fit the size paper I had.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have time for all the nice details shown in the original project.  This was hastily done!  Maybe, if BB likes it, I can go back and modify it later.  Without further ado:

Mix-n match faces

The right-hand page is a blank face with velcro, where hair, eyes, and a mouth can stick.  Then I made three of each, for, oh gosh, I don’t remember how to figure it, but a lot of possible combinations.


The pad was just a little too big, but by the time I realized it, it was too late.  The crayons were all floating around in my diaper bag; they are from the cracker barrel, red robin, and denny’s, and luckily I had a whole rainbow’s worth!  The book has a velcro closure, and it’s about 6″x8″, so it’s nice and compact.  I just hope it’s fun too!  We have many, many hours in the car tomorrow…

As a bonus, I kept up the Science Friday theme, and we built boats out of aluminum foil.  This was an activity I did in physical science classes, back when I taught high school, and it was always a lot of fun, but I learned a few things this time:

  • The boats make good water scoops
  • Those beads I got to load up the boats and see how much they could hold are so light they almost float — not good for this purpose!
  • A tub of water is more fun as a car wash than as a science experiment.  Oh, well.

Building boats? Not so much.

After LB’s nap, we went over to Wild Wings to see the birds… that’s more on BB’s level.  It’s been a long time since we last went (ie. since the weather was nice, probably last fall), and he’s a lot more interested in them now. They have birds of prey–owls, eagles, hawks, and more–that are unable to return to the wild, along with some educational materials like these posters.  The thing on the left is a bald eagle nest… did you know they can weigh more than a ton?  I didn’t.  It’s probably more educational for me than for BB!

How big is a BB bird?

Travel Crafts — Part 2!

25 05 2010

Well, I did it!  I finished at least one more crafty project for our trip.  This is a travel high chair for LB.  I had seen this tutorial a while back on This Mama Makes Stuff, and finally had an opportunity to give it a try!

How it looks in the chair...

Insert baby, lift middle, velcro wings, and it's dinnertime!

I hope it will come in handy!  If nothing else, it is super cute.  🙂  Still more projects in mind, we’ll see if there’s time for them before we go…

Travel crafts–part 1 (?)

19 05 2010

In just over a week we are heading out on our first family vacation (or at least our first trip that isn’t to visit family).  We’re going to Montreal and Quebec City and we’re excited for the chance to experience a different culture so close to home.  BB has been telling all his teachers about our trip to Canada, so I think we’ll have a good time there, but the car ride has me a little more worried.  It’s only about 5 hours, so hopefully it won’t be too bad, but I have started working on some entertainment for the ride.  It’s been a long, long while since I worked on anything crafty, so I really enjoyed working on this.

A box of chocolates? No...

A little car village!

A farm, house, lake, playground, and of course, a parking lot!

A farm, house, lake, playground, and of course, a parking lot!

BB (like all little boys perhaps?) loves to play with cars, but in the car, it’s a little tricky.  I had read suggestions to use a cookie sheet and fridge magnets as something to play with in the car, but I’m not willing to sacrifice any cookie sheets for that job, so when I saw this tin, I thought it would be perfect.  I had already bought some mod podge that I was just itching to try out.  As you can see, I’m terrible at it.  No matter how I try, I am incapable of getting the paper to lie flat without ripples.  Oh well.  And I have the artistic skills of a 5 year old.  But I am hoping that’s enough to impress a 2 year old!  I found this On the Road Toob at Joann, and decided it would be perfect… I hot-glued little magnets on the undersides of all the little cars so they will stay in place in the car.  They’re a great size for this purpose; about half the size of most toy cars.  I saw a Farm Toob and so I added a barn to the scene, thinking I might go back to get it, to add some animals and people to the little village.  And, if time allows, I will add little fabric “bridges” so the cars can drive from one side to the other more easily.  Time has been in short supply lately, because LB has decided he is not into sleeping anymore.  So, I have some other projects in the works for our trip, and I am hoping to get them done (which is why this is tentatively part 1–I am hoping to follow with some more travel crafts).  More to come…?

5 minute card

28 04 2010

Happy Birthday, honey!

Today was my wonderful husband’s birthday, and being a procrastinator, I did not have a card for the occasion.  Making a simple card is about the easiest craft there is, so that’s what we did.  To say that either child helped in making this is a bit of a lie.  It’s a grownup craft, but a nice way to incorporate that precious artwork that is colorful and pretty but, you know, doesn’t actually look like anything.

While LB was napping, BB and I did some painting.  I painted flowers, while he just painted paper.  With colors.  If it was supposed to be something, neither one of us could tell.  To him, more colors = better, and I have to stop him before his page is uniformly brown.  Then during afternoon nap time, when both children are (theoretically) sleeping, I took a blank card, wrote Happy Birthday on it, cut out the letters with an exacto knife, then glued a piece of BB’s artwork (now dry) behind the open letters.  It’s a pretty effect, I think, and a nice way to make a card that’s “from” a child who is still too young to make a card on their own.  Watch out; if you are related to me, you will probably be receiving something like this for an occasion in the near future!

Happy Easter!

4 04 2010

More Easter crafts to share!  Having just discovered Google reader, I am inundated with Easter craft ideas daily, and BB is always up for a good craft.  The Crafty Crow was the inspiration behind all of these;  seriously, reading over that site will make you dizzy with ideas of things to try.

First up, growing grass in eggs… sounds a little strange but was so cute, and mixes dirt and growing things, so I thought this was one to try.  At Rosy~Posy, they used wheatgrass, which I would have known if I had read carefully, but unfortunately I am a little ADD and I just skimmed the pictures and went out and bought grass seed (I had wheat at home!  Note to self: read directions.)  I saved up some carefully cracked eggshells, BB filled them with dirt (that was the fun part), and I added the grass seed after reading that it was coated with fungicide (Note to self: read packages).  Here they are:

They need a haircut already!

Next up: yarn eggs.  Wow, this sounded easy but I don’t know why.  Click this link to Make Monthly to see their beautiful eggs, and the instructions to make them.  I had visions of decorating our house with these lovely eggs.  But, it turns out that string dipped in liquid starch is slippery, and BB just could not wrap it around the balloon.  I made one, and had to cut him off, because he was just making a mess of liquid starch everywhere.  Here’s mine:

Oh look, you can see the grass eggs growing!

True to my word, I did some more egg dyeing after the kids were asleep.  Let’s face it, eggs are fragile craft substrates.  BB broke a few in the process of dyeing, and those were hard-boiled!  And I wanted some I could set out on the table as decoration, so I blew out the remaining half-dozen and set about seeing if I could make not only red, yellow, and blue eggs, but also orange, green, and purple.  Just for fun, because, you know, I’m crazy like that and who really likes to sleep anyway?  I learned something that should have been self-evident.  Blown-out eggs float.  This makes them really hard to immerse in dye.  I was going to leave them overnight to get some darker colors, but I couldn’t get the darn things down in the dye, so I let them float, rotated them, and let them float some more.  The verdict?  I thought the plant-based dyes did a great job of producing the whole spectrum.  Interestingly, the float-and-turn method resulted in uneven colors, sort of overlapping stripes of darker and paler shades, that in the end I thought was even prettier than the solid color.  I took way too many pictures; I am way too excited about my rainbow of eggs. Here they are:

See the bands of color?

The orange and yellow didn't have that effect, but the red did.

Gratuitous egg shots!

I realized after the fact…what’s the point in dyeing blown-out eggs with natural dyes?  There’s nothing inside to worry about like with hard-boiled eggs!  D’oh!  Well, it was a really fun project and I’d just file it away as a proof-of-principle experiment (or should I say egg-speriment, mwahahaha!).  Plant based dyes are clearly all that and a bag of chips, but next year if I am doing blown out eggs I will save myself some time (and lots of beet salad and red cabbage coleslaw) and use food dyes like the rest of the world.  Happy Easter all!

Wardrobe refashion–Stain removal the easy way?

2 04 2010

Do you have kids?  If you answered yes to that, then you have clothing with stains that will never come out.  Give up now and save yourself the trouble!  I found this great idea ages ago for salvaging those hopelessly stained clothes: paint over the stain!  So simple, and yet so brilliant.  I haven’t had time to sew much lately, so this was a quick little project that gave all the satisfaction of creating a new shirt.

The shirt in question?  This nice, simple shirt that fits and matches most of the pants BB has in his wardrobe.  I was heartbroken to learn that the GRANOLA BAR he drooled all over it was apparently something that does not come out in the wash.  (Bangs head in frustration.)

Before: see the granola-drool track?

So, what should have been a super quick project became sort of involved when I couldn’t find my freezer paper.  It’s a giant box, which tells you how out of control my sewing area had become.  After 2 days of organizing, I located the sneaky box of freezer paper and set to work.  I asked BB what animal he would like on his shirt, and he said enthusiastically, “A lobster!”  He loves lobsters and I think it will be a sad day when he learns the fate of the lobsters at Wegmans, who he loves to visit.  Anyway, I was aiming for “giraffe” because a long thin stain needs a long, thin animal to cover it, so this is an example of why you shouldn’t ask questions you already know the answer to.  I printed out a picture of a giraffe, scaled to cover the stain, cut it out, and set to painting.  And voila!

After: Stain? What stain?

Bits of the stain still peek out a little, but it’s not nearly as noticable as it was before.  As the temperatures start to go up here at last, I’m happy to put this shirt back into rotation!  There you have it, stain removal the easy way not-so-easy-but-still-pretty-quick-and-more-fun-than-scrubbing-with-Shout way!