Monday, April 30, 2012

Mesmerized Monday - Crafting with the Kiddos

Summer will soon be here. With summer brings a lot more time for arts and crafts. Here are some crafty ideas that got me mesmerized.

For the Love of Reading:

Every night my husband reads my kids a poem or three just as we're saying 'goodnight'. The kids LOVE this part of our bedtime routine and we love that they're so excited about poetry. 

Right now we're reading poems from Shel Silverstein's "Everything On It". We've already completed "Where the Sidewalk Ends" and "A Light in the Attic" multiple times. Next on the list is "Falling Up". 


 
Images & Idea: Come Together Kids

When I saw these bookmarks I knew my family had to make them. Laura at Come Together Kids has a great tutorial on how to make them. What a great rainy day project!

Organization:

I am still in love with my clear shoe organizer turned craft centre seen here. The kids have really responded to it and now know exactly where to go to find the supplies they need when they get inspired to start making something.

That being said, it is still helpful to have table-top organization for your supplies. This idea is so simple. Use a large muffin tin and plastic cups to keep supplies at hand while you work. I love how the clear cups really allow you to see your materials.




                          
Images & Idea: Family Fun

By using magnetic sheeting (sold at craft stores) on the bottom of the cups, they become more stable and tip-resistant.

ABCs and 123's:

How cute is this, turning your handprints into your an ABC gallery . This would be a really fun group project to do with friends or one that you can work on by yourself over a few days/weeks. 

Images & Ideas: E is for Explore


While you're at it, why not create a handprint calendar too?


Don't you think the grandparents would LOVE this calendar next year? Simply take a photo of each month. Take them to your local photo lab (or online lab) and ask them to make a calendar. So simple.

Rock, Scissors, Paper - not quite:


This is the perfect project for the cottage. Gather yourself some similar sized river rocks, grab the paint and let's get started.


At the Joann website you can download their complete instructions but I have a modified version here.

Materials Needed:

  • 10 large flat river rocks
  • Tempra paint in yellow, red, green, black, white
  • 2 Paintbrushes -a flat brush for the main colours and a fine brush for details
  • 8x10 Photo frame for Tic Tac Toe Board
  • 1 piece of black paper
  • White or metallic marker
  • ruler

Directions:

  1. Paint 5 rocks red and 5 rocks green. Apply several coats for good coverage allowing paint to dry between coats.
  2. Paint the black areas on the ladybugs for definition. Paint the black head and stripes on the caterpillars.
  3. Paint yellow caterpillar feet and black ladybug spots.
  4. Use the handle end of a paintbrush to dot on white eyes. When dry, dot on black pupils.
  5. Using a white or metallic marker, draw the tic-tac-toe grid on your black paper.
  6. Insert black paper into your picture frame.
* To make the bugs hold up even better, you might like to add a coat of shellac when they are dry.
I hope I have inspired you to get crafty this summer. Until next Monday...

Monday, April 23, 2012

Old T-shirt New Life - The Almost No-sew T-shirt Tote

In part 2 of the Old T-shirt New Life series we've got another fun idea, the T-shirt Tote Bag.

This project is perfect for an old t-shirt that you (or someone else) love but that never gets worn. Whether the t-shirt is now too big, too small or perhaps has a small stain, grab it, your scissors, and a dinner plate. You are ready to create your own t-shirt tote.

What is extra great about this project is that it is almost no-sew (okay, you have to sew a straight line but that’s it!) and really quick to make. Seriously, even if you are a total beginner, you can make this. In fact, I said before you need to be able to sew a straight line but the truth is, no one can see your seam so it doesn't even have to be straight. Trust me.

Step 1:

First, lay your t-shirt flat.



Step 2:

Cut along the arm seams and remove both the sleeves. Note - cut on the side of the seam that will be removed, this leaves a clean, reinforced seam where it had been attached.


I tried both pinking shears (because they were sitting on the table after I just got them sharpened) and regular shears. I definitely liked the regular shears better and re-trimmed the second sleeve.


Step 3:

Place your dinner plate at the neck of the t-shirt so that you have about 2" of fabric showing on each side. These will become your handles. My plate was almost perfectly centered with one half off the shirt and one half on the shirt.



Step 4:

Take your pencil and trace along the edge of your dinner plate. The result will look like this. Cut along the line and you have now created the opening to the bag and your handles!



Step 5: (beginner)

Turn the t-shirt inside out and sew the bottom front and back of the t-shirt together to close up your bag. I suggest sewing it 2 or three times or once and then with a zig-zag stitch to reinforce the seam. (Please ignore the cut-outs in the photo - I forgot to take a photo of the shirt before I cut it - if you're wondering though, see below)



Step 5: (adventurous beginner to advanced)

Turn the t-shirt inside out and cut a 2" x 2" square out of the bottom two corners of your t-shirt. Sew the front and back of your t-shirt together (see note above about reinforcement). Now pull the corners of your cut-out squares together so that you've formed a diagonal line. Sew this together and you have now created gusset corners for your bag. This will give it a boxed bottom and allow it to sit better when filled. Again, reinforce these seams.



Step 6:

Turn your t-shirt back right side out and you are done. Voila, your very own recycled t-shirt tote! 





Your T-shirt Tote is perfect for the pool, beach, dance class, soccer, etc. If you use a large kids shirt or an adult shirt you will be shocked by how much they actually hold.

Now that you've made one, I bet you want to make more!



(To see Part 1 of our series, click here.)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Homework Hell-p

I have to admit something that is somewhat emotional , a little awkward, and totally embarrassing. This weekend both my husband and I were stumped by grade 2 math and in turn felt we narrowly escaped inflicting a possible life long fear of math in our daughter.
Knowing she was struggling a little with new concepts we sat down together to work through her homework. We had the best intentions. We're both took math through the end of high school, we competently manage our finances (heck, I manage to do our taxes) and I taught elementary school. This should be a cake walk. Somehow though when it came to 3-dimensional shapes, faces, vertices, and edges we just got plain confused. The crazy thing is, we both thought we knew what we were talking about.

All of a sudden memories of my parents complaining of the "new math" they were teaching us when we were kids came flooding back. A few minutes in and our conflicting ideas started to cause a fissure in our well laid plans. We were officially in homework hell.

Here we were thinking that by sitting down with our daughter to work through her homework we were going to give her confidence in her knowledge and send her off to school on Monday morning ready to take on anything that grade two could throw at her. Instead I feared we were showing our insecurities and making her worry even more. Fair enough. I mean, if your parents can't figure it out how the heck should someone in grade two????

Determined to turn around this quickly sinking ship we turned to the web for enlightenment. What we found was a vast number of websites that fell into one of two categories; amazingly helpful and clear or completely and utterly confusing and very stressful for us all.

It reminded me of the Shel Silverstein poem below. If only there were such a machine. We managed to get through it together and they must have had another lesson that week because she aced her test (no thanks to us) but it was a parenting moment I won't soon forget.

Where do you go for homework help?



Homework Machine

The Homework Machine , oh the Homework Machine,
Most perfect contraption that’s ever been seen.

Just put in your homework, then drop in a dime,
Snap on the switch, and in ten seconds time,

You homework comes out, quick and clean as can be.
Here it is – “nine plus four?” and the answer is “three”.

Three?
Oh me…

I guess it’s not as perfect
As I thought it would be.

By Shel Silverstein




Monday, April 16, 2012

Mesmerized Monday: DIY Bling

It seems that I am in a crafty mood again this week. My attention has been caught by some pretty creative jewellery that we can make ourselves. 

Building Blocks:

Everyone loves Lego and wearing your creation will make it even more fun. 

Image & Idea: Chez Beeper Bebe



Holly over at Chez Beeper Bebe has a fabulous tutorial for making these awesome rings. She actually put the pieces in a cello envelope with the instructions and gave them as Valentines. What a great idea. For very little money you can create your own amazing and ever-modifiable jewels. Download her instructions for rings and necklaces. I am envisioning a cuff link version for Father's Day!

Hair Bling:

I love these jewelled hair clips that are a very inexpensive version of Marc Jacob's very expensive hair clips. I think my daughter and her friends will love making and wearing these. With a little DIY fun you can make your own hair bling.




Images and Idea: Quiet Lion


Materials Needed:

  • polymer clay (FIMO)
  • bobby pins
  • rhinestones
  • paintbrush
  • small cookie cutters
  • clear lacquer
  • super glue and hot glue
  • pasta machine or a rolling pin

The Quiet Lion has amazing directions with lots of photos to keep you on track when making these clips. I'm smiling just picturing the sun reflecting off the rhinestones this summer. It is going to be a bright one!

Hanging Around:

These clay pendants are adorable. Imagine making your own custom ones to wear or give as gifts. This would be a really fun and memorable activity for a birthday party too! FIMO comes in a rainbow of colours so you are not limited to the cream she has used in the photo.

Image & Idea: WhiMSy-Girl



Materials Needed:

  • polymer clay (FIMO)
  • parchment paper
  • rolling pin
  • small round cookie cutter
  • items to embellish - i.e. alphabet stamps, doily, animal stamp, etc.

Nikki's tutorial at WhiMSy-Girl is really easy to follow and again has lots of photos to guide you. There are endless possibilities with this craft.

Popsicle Bracelets:

Can you believe that these beautiful bracelets are made from Popsicle sticks? 

Images & Idea: Craft Affection



On a hot summer's day when everyone has refreshed themselves with a popsicle, gather the sticks and you're off to the races. Okay, I love to recycle but even I would probably use new ones for this project. I might even try a few tongue depressors from work to make them in varied widths. 

Materials Needed:

  • popsicle sticks (the ones in the photo are wavy shaped craft sticks) - have extras
  • water
  • cup
  • modgepodge
  • scraps of scrapbook paper or wrapping paper
  • sandpaper
Tara at Craft Affection has clear instructions for making these. While they are fairly simple, there is a bit of finessing that needs to be done when bending and shaping the sticks in the cup. As she says "be patient and have fun!!! Use your imagination! The possibilities are endless!"

I hope I've inspired you to go out and try your hand at making your own jewellery. I can't wait to get started myself. Until next Monday...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Owl S'mores

Today is my daughter's class bake sale.  She was adament that we make Owl S'mores because she knew no one else would make them.



We first tried our hand at them back in November but this time we kicked it up a notch adding melted chocolate just to make them more 'smore-y'. 



I wish I had photos of the process but the truth is, I ran in from work, the kids and I threw them together, gobbled down dinner and were out the door to synchro so my camera didn't even cross my mind.  I'm sure many of you can relate.


Ingredients:

  • graham crackers (we used one sleeve which makes 32)
  • large marshmallows
  • melted chocolate (we used about 3/4 c. semi-sweet chips)
  • candy corn (Mike & Ikes work well too)
  • Smarties (M&M's work but aren't peanut free for school sales)

Directions:

  1. Melt chocolate over a double boiler. You don't need anything fancy, I used a cereal bowl and a pot.
  2. As the chocolate is melting cut 32 marshmallows in half with clean kitchen scissors.
  3. Spread chocolate on the graham cracker.
  4. Place two marshmallow halves near the top of the graham cracker.  A tip is to put the cut size up as it is sticky and holds the Smarties better.
  5. Place a Smartie on each marshmallow.  If their askew they actually look even better.
  6. Position the candy corn as a nose between the two marshmallows.
  7. Put in the microwave for about 5-10 seconds.  You'll have to watch it because every microwave is different.  Basically you want it to puff up a little but not too much that it overflows the graham cracker. 
  8. Let them cool and the chocolate harden before transporting.  If you're just eating them, go ahead.
*The microwaving step gives it the 'toasted' marshmallow feel and helps to hold in place the Smarties and Candy Corn.

They are so simple and really quite delicious. Try making some for your next get-together.  I promise they won't last long!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Old T-shirt - New Life: Part 1

We seem to have a lot of super huge t-shirts hanging around our house, you know, the kind you get when you participate in a charity run or attend a function. 

When I was cleaning out our storage room the other day I came across this one. 



My son, the hockey nut, immediately wanted it. He's five and the shirt is a men's XL. How to work it out? Then I had an idea. 


He has a Toronto Maple Leaf's bear and likes to set up games between his stuffies. None of his other buddies have hockey jerseys though. Eureka, the plan was hatched and in less than an hour we had 2 more hockey playing stuffies.




It seems a shame to throw away these really good t-shirts. I'm going to see what other ones we have hanging around and see if we can't get him an entire team set of uniforms. As you can see, it was a HUGELY successful recycling project.



PS - The scraps I've cut up for rags so it is a win/win recycle project all around.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mesmerized Mondays - Week of April 2

It is the first Monday in April. This has got me thinking of Spring flowers. Here are some Spring ideas that got me mesmerized this week.

Handprint/Footprint Flowers:

This craft is so simple yet I am a sucker for anything with handprints (except my windows and glass table) because they show how big the kids are getting.


Image & Idea: Learning As We Grow

Materials Needed:

  • Large piece of paper
  • Washable Tempura paints – green + 3 -4 other colours
  • Paint brush
  • An old towel for cleanup

Instructions:

  1. Dip your child’s feet in the green paint. Place them on the paper in a “V” formation with heels touching. This forms the leaves for your flowers. Repeat for each flower you’d like. Wipe off their feet.
  2. Dip each of your child’s hands in a different coloured paint. Place their hands on the paper about 3” above their toes. This forms the flowers. Repeat for each flower you’d like. Wipe off their hands.
  3. Using green paint and the paint brush, draw stems to connect your flowers to your leaves.
  4. Embellish with some grass.

Flower Straws:

These are so cute and brighten up any drink but they would be fantastic at a Spring party. Why not turn this into a party craft and have each child create their own flower straw? It will be fun and will also help them keep track of their drink throughout the party!



Materials Needed:

  • Flower stencil or cookie cutter
  • Assorted card stock (a great way to use up scraps)
  • Green bendy straws
  • Glue stick
  • Hole punch

Instructions:

  1. Trace around your stencil or cookie cutter with a pencil.
  2. Cut out the flower shape.
  3. Cut out a smaller circle in a contrasting paper for the centre of the flower.
  4. Glue the center spot onto the flower.
  5. Punch a hole through the center of the flower.
  6. Gently push the through the flower until it is at the top of the bendy part.
  7. Bend the straw and the flower will stay there.

Blooming Flower Cupcakes:

These look far more impressive and difficult than they really are. Can you believe these gorgeous flowers are made from mini-marshmallows and sprinkles?!?



Materials Needed:

  • Baked cupcakes in your choice of flavour
  • Icing (white works best)
  • Bag of mini marshmallows
  • Colored decorative sugars, divided by color into little resealable sandwich baggies
  • Food scissors

Instructions:

  1. Cut each mini marshmallow in half on a diagonal. you will end up with 2 'petals' from each marshmallow.
  2. Place the 'petals' into a bag of decorative sugars, and give it a little shake. The sugars will only stick to the part of the marshmallow that was cut!
  3. Ice your cupcakes with a thin layer of icing which will act as your glue.
  4. Carefully place your marshmallow 'petals' onto your cupcakes starting on the outside and working your way to the middle.
Jaxofalltradesgave the tip that if you let your mashmallows 'rest' for a few minutes after cutting them, they will puff back up.


Fleece Flower Bracelets or Hair-ties:

Meg at Loven Stamps has a great video tutorial for making these really easy Fleece Flower Bracelets. She used a machine to cut out her shapes but you could easily make them yourself just using pinking shears and scissors.

Image & Idea: Loven Stamps

I think that they would be adorable on a hairband or substituting a hair elastic for the bracelet that she uses. I see a project for my daughter and I this coming weekend!

Materials Needed:

  • Fleece - one colour for flowers, green for leaves
  • Buttons
  • Hair Elastics or Bracelets
  • Hot Glue
  • Scissors/Pinking Shears

Directions:

I really suggest that you watch Meg's video instructions. It is a simple project but trying to write out the instructions makes it sound far more involved and difficult than it really is. 

So, this is what has me mesmerized this first Monday in April. Until next week...

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