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Archive for the ‘Crafty Crafts’ Category

One of the great things about having a summer birthday party is you can celebrate outside.

This year, along with ol’ faithful slip n’ slide and climbing frame/swing set, we created a carnival of sorts for our Miss S.

We made a Fish Pond that took on a life of its own once the big sisters (Miss Q and her friends) got ahold of the operation.  They had a blast fishing for shells and gummy whales.  Though Uncle M and Auntie C threw an occasional wrench in the young anglers’ plans with a Cheezie or pretzel from the food table… not to mention the occasional smelly shoe compliments of my husband.

Watch out for Smelly Shoes!

I made a Kissing Booth with four jars filled with Hershey Kisses.  Whomever guessed the number of Kisses in the jar won the jar of chocolate.  What every mum wants their child to win after a sugar filled afternoon.  Insert my devil horns here.

When we were making the sign for the Kissing Booth I put lipstick on Miss Q and Miss S and had them kiss the sign.  Yes, I know after declaring chap-stick the gateway to all things make-up here is the pot calling the kettle black…  However, I believe I stumbled upon the remedy for Miss S’s thumb sucking: once the lipstick was applied Miss S didn’t want to put her thumb in her mouth for fear of messing up her lips.

For the record: I don’t think her thumb sucking is a problem yet, and I will NOT be using this solution for fear Toddlers and Tiaras will be next.  Also for the record, Miss Q chose red lipstick, Miss S chose pink; Miss Q had no qualms about leaving a rouge smear on unsuspecting hands, cheeks and elbows.

My husband also made a water balloon toss that doubled as a photo booth for the littles. He drew a monkey head on cardboard and then cut a hole out where the face should be.  The kids posed for pictures in the head and then my husband stuck his head through the hole and had the kids throw water balloons at his face.  Great fun and no, officer safety did not consult a WHIMIS sheet nor did he wear goggles.

Miss S wanted a monkey cake “just like you made me last year.”  I don’t know why I couldn’t comply with that request, maybe it is the artist in me who needs to be challenged, or maybe it was because last years giant monkey, though delicious, was pretty labour intensive with all the cutting and icing.  Regardless this is what she ended up with:

This was the only angle Miss Monkey could be cropped at without showing birthday kids. Anyways, she was delish.

An equally intensive monkey – I really want to say I didn’t spend 2.5 hours sculpting her out of gum paste, but I did.  I had to tint the paste if that makes 2.5 hours sound better.  Also, this was supposed to be a monkey wearing a beautiful tutu, not a monkey on a giant cupcake.  You be the judge.

And not to be outdone.  Here is the magnificent beast who pulled us through town on Miss S’s actual birthday:

King!

I LOVE three-year-olds!

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Here on the West Coast in June, the big decision of the morning always seems to be shorts or no shorts.  Sure it could be sunny when you wake, the clouds light and lined with a pinky hue; but by midday, the old mariner’s warning of:  Red sky in the morning sailors take warning, red sky at night, sailors’ delight, will most likely come to fruition.

So, for those days, when you just can’t muster the strength to puddle jump in your Birkenstocks, here is a handy indoor project that will take minimal effort, and have maximum results – i.e. the littles will be occupied for hours.  I call it Starry Castle, but you can invent your own name.

STARRY CASTLE

Clearly not showing the very cool glowing effect, but trust me, the kiddies will think they’ve been transported somewhere magical.

Materials Needed:

  • Dining room table, or kitchen table
  • Glow in the Dark Stars
  • Masking Tape
  • Tablecloths or Bedsheets (to make it dark)
  • Maybe one or two heavy books to secure tablecloths
  • Children with imaginations

To Make:

  • Tape glow in the dark stars to underside of dining room table
  • Drape table with tablecloths to make dark
  • Place heavy objects on top of tablecloths to hold them in place while the littles slide in and out of castle.

Enjoy!  Oh, and if you have a dinner party, no need to clean up – your guests will be none-the-wiser, and may even enjoy the heavy books as centerpieces.

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Miss C is still on the road to recovery, with a lovely bark-cough that crops up when she: wakes, sleeps, breathes cold air, lies on her back…  But she is in good spirits and working on sitting by herself, rolling over, cutting her second tooth, and chanting, “Dadadadada.”   Um, who just spent 6 days at the hospital with her?

I have to admit, that after snuggling with one child in the quiet of isolation, it was a shock to my ears to hear how loud our house actually was with three cherub faces demanding my undivided attention.

So with all things hospital behind us, and the first day of spring upon us, it was time for the sparkles to make their appearance.  Nothing entertains Miss Q and Miss S like good old fashioned paint and glitter.

Before we get to the craft, I’ll tell you about a funny thing that happened yesterday on the way to spring.  We, the City of Gardens, with our flower count freshly in the can, had rain, hail, snow and wind.  Sunshine, robins and slurpees were no where to be found.  So we had to make our own magic with this dandy of a craft I’ll call TuLiPs.

DiRecTioNs:

Eggs Carton - remove eggs or ask your friends who raise chickens if they can spot you one. We had an empty carton, otherwise, someone's husband might have been grumpy to find 12 eggs rolling around in the fridge.

Cut.

Cut out the cup part of the carton. These will be the flower heads. Note: you will have to give them a trim to make them look more floral.

Paint.

Get your child(ren) to decorate the cups any way they'd like. Miss Q and Miss S chose red and yellow paint and sparkles galore.


Voilà

Thread pipe cleaners through the center of the egg cups once they've completely dried. We had to wait an extra day to do this step. To secure the pipe cleaner, we used a bead - stylish and functional.

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Miss Q turned 5 last week.  On the weekend she had her princess/fairy/Fancy Nancy/twoonie/save the baby pandas party with four of her friends at our house.

It was so cute watching her guests arrive dressed to the nines in their best jewels and fanciest dresses.  Miss Q was beside herself with joy.  The squeals filling our house were magical.

Here are some snapshots from the grand soirée.

A cake fit for a 5-year-old princess.

The cake was not her first choice as it was, “Too big.”  I think she wanted me to make her a cat cake again.

Rainbow!

With thanks to Pinterest for the rainbow inspiration.  If you haven’t been to Pinterest, visit cautiously, you might get sucked in.

Marshmallow Pops - Yummy!

These are super easy to make and waaaay cheaper than buying them at your local coffee shop.  Today I saw them for $1.95 per sucker.  Sheesh.  All you need is a bag of meltable chocolate – I used vanilla flavoured Wilton’s candy melts, some sticks and sprinkles.

  • Melt the candy melts in the microwave (as per the directions on the bag) – I used the entire bag in a 4 cup measuring cup.
  • Dip the stick into the chocolate.
  • Insert stick into the marshmallow and let the chocolate harden.
  • Once chocolate is hardened (this will prevent the marshmallow from slipping off the stick) dip/roll the marshmallow into the chocolate until coated.
  • Roll coated marshmallow into sprinkles, or sprinkle sprinkles onto coated marshmallow – which ever you find easiest.
  • Place coated marshmallow onto a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper and let harden in the fridge.
  • Before serving, bring pops out of the fridge to soften.

They decorated flower pots as their take-home souvenir.  My in-laws acted as garden gnomes and potted the flowers on the balcony while the girls played.  Thankfully it was a sunny day.

Button Daisies - the only flowers we could find for early February.

Miss Q's and Miss S's pots.

Miss Q really wanted to save the baby pandas this birthday.  Yes, she’s completely figured out the WWF… if she saves a baby animal, she gets a stuffy.  But seriously, she really wanted to save an animal and help protect its habitat.  So her guests brought her a twoonie for the baby pandas and a twoonie for her to spend.

After saving the baby pandas, with $14.00 burning a hole in her pocket, we went to Michaels.

For her first ever shopping trip, it was easy-peasy.  She bought a clay easter bunny that has beautiful flowers painted on it and a butterfly on its back, and a baby unicorn.  Life couldn’t be better!

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I hate birds.  I hate their oily feathers, pointed beaks and beady eyes.  I hate their scratchy claws, unpredictable nature and over all fickleness: if their young smell like humans, how can they leave them to die, but have no problem consuming food prepared by or half-eaten by said humans?

Don’t get me wrong.  I enjoy watching birds fly away from me, and watching them through webcams as they nest. And I do like hummingbirds, when they’re at the feeders and we’re separated by glass.

I do not enjoy birds landing on me, or having my picture taken with them, or hearing the stories of how my husband’s family adopted a baby quail and it used to ride on his mum’s head. (Shiver.)

Even though it would be my worst nightmare, I still laugh at my evilest birding moment, when I locked my friend out of the car and threw breadcrumbs at her from a slit in my window.  As the seagulls swarmed, I was safe in the car, trying to see through my tears of laughter; she was outside screaming (through laughter) to be let in.  Sorry, No Sugar Mama.  It’s a wonder we’re still friends.

With the spirit of Christmas alive and well in our house, I wanted a craft that Miss Q and Miss S could tackle; one that would help them learn about giving unto others.

My parameters were: the craft had to be easy (read: completed in under an hour); it had to be cheap; and it couldn’t involve the stove, or any dangerous objects for that matter; and it had to be simple enough for the girls to help out with.

Enter BIRDSEED ORNAMENTS.

The Playmobile Advent calendar pony pulls the bird seed to the table. (Yes, that's a face mask from the hospital; and yes, this craft may be the pot calling the kettle black.)

For beautiful pictures and the complete tutorial, click here for Salt Water Kid’s Blog.

For our experience, read on:

Not Martha's pristine workspace.

Ingredients You’ll Need:

3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup water

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

3 tbsp. corn syrup

4 cups birdseed

molds (muffin tin, cookie cutters, etc.)

nonstick spray

drinking straws

waxed or parchment paper

ribbon/twine

The mound of cookie cutters as chosen by Miss Q and Miss S. This recipe fills about 12 cutters at a time, but be careful with which shapes you choose, the moose for example, became a cow because his antlers didn't come of the mold.

STEPS

  1. Dissolve gelatin into water and mix.
  2. Mix together gelatin water, flour, and corn syrup.  Make sure it’s mixed well.
  3. Add birdseed and mix again.
  4. Grease mold(s) with cooking spray, lay on a cookie sheet and spoon the birdseed mixture into each mold. Pack it down, so that the top’s smooth.
  5. Poke straws into the molds.  Make sure they go all the way through.
  6. Let them dry for about 3 to 4 hours… yes, this is where the craft doesn’t fit the hour long pre-reque, but as you don’t have to think about them for 3 to 4 hours, it’s still a cinch.
  7. Take straws out and then carefully slide birdseed ornament from mold… this is where some of our shapes bit the dust.  If that happens, you can re-use the bits in another batch – just crumble them up again.
  8. Flip the birdseed ornaments so the bottoms are now the tops and leave to dry on either wax or parchment paper overnight.
  9. Carefully thread the ribbon or twine through the holes and voilà.

Bonus: By giving away these ornaments to friends and family, the birds will flock to their backyards, not yours 🙂

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Magical Moments

With the goal of filling Miss Q and Miss S’s days with magic and fun; all the while resting myself, here are three things that have captured their interest and kept them busy for hours.

1.   MAGIC POTIONS

To make you’ll need: finger paint, dish soap and sprinkles.

You’ll also probably want: towels and a garden hose (if outside).  If inside, the clean-up is much more painful, and will probably include giving your littles a bath.

Just a touch of sprinkles.

We took the ingredients onto the balcony in order to soak in the last rays of summer, and minimize the clean-up process.

Miss Q and Miss S went wild with the ingredients.  Anything goes when you’re making potions.

They created magic spells, painted themselves, painted each other, and swabbed the deck with the face clothes I’d brought out.

It was a pity to wash the beautiful shades of rainbow sparkles off the deck when they were finished.

2.  CAVE OF STARS

Cave

I wish I could claim this idea for my own, but alas, I admit, this activity is stolen from my new favourite mum blog: A Magical Childhood

The directions to making this project can be found at: http://playathomemom3.blogspot.com/2011/06/cave-of-stars.html

All that being said, when I saw this project, I knew my littles would love it.  Of course, the first problem was finding the Christmas lights, and the second problem was finding a box.

Fortunately, my husband located the indoor Christmas lights.

The box proved a bit more tricky as we didn’t have any in our house, and I didn’t want to cruise the city begging for boxes (a) because of time; and (b) because of germs.

Naturally, if I was a good wife, I would have raced to the nearest big box store and purchased a large TV so my husband could watch hockey on a bigger stage and my littles would have a box… though I think the result would be a long narrow box, thus defeating the purpose.

In order to satisfy my germ-o-phobe side, and save some shekels, I hit up the local storage company and purchased two boxes.  (If you want to keep costs down just buy one box, or find one for free, but since we have two children, it was cheaper in the long run to buy two boxes.)  Total purchase = $8.00 – though in hind sight, I should have spent an extra twoonie and bought Miss Q a bigger box.

Animals enjoying a starry night.

I did wonder if there was a fire hazard component to Christmas lights lighting up a cardboard box, but since I set them up in our living room, I figured the parental supervision would keep the girlies safe from flames, and themselves.  (Miss S did try to put the cord in her mouth, go figure.)

So, throwing caution to the wind, I sat back and watched the littles imagine.  Priceless.

3.  GLOW STICKS

Again, I wish the idea was my own, but I’m poaching from something the girlies were given in a birthday party grab-bag.   (Thanks Mrs. A )

The idea is simple: buy glow sticks and let the kiddies use them.  (They’re über cheap and you can get them everywhere – especially this time of year.)

There’s something magical about glowy stuff, and the only dangers are well, choking (of course) and the glow liquid coming out – who among us hasn’t had a glowing mouth or cheeks because we chewed on the glow stick?  Just me?  Okay.

Sure, they aren’t exactly environmentally friendly, but turning a blind eye to that for a moment, the girls treasured them for hours.  It was a shame to see them lose their potency.  (Even trying to keep them alive in the freezer didn’t last.)

***

In the coming weeks and months I’m sure I’ll be falling back on some other tried and tested ways of keeping littles occupied, and maybe some not so tried and tested ways, so stay tuned 🙂

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Drowning In Art

Yellow on Orange, Green and Red.

Our house could double for the Louvre.  Thanks to preschool, Miss Q has filled our house with colour and design.

It started out slowly, with one or two paintings coming home a week, but by October 2010, the art work was coming home in twos and threes.

Then, I made a fatal error and used one of her paintings as wrapping paper – environmentally friendly: Non?

The look on Miss Q’s face said it all: I was cut off.

She refused to do any art until April 2011.  No, I’m not exaggerating.  It was a complete art freeze-out for almost 6 months.

Then, just like Willy Wonka’s factory, the art work suddenly started flowing.  Pictures of oceans, eggs, and a father’s day portrait of her dear ol’ dad were pumped out of preschool like she was channelling the spirit of Van Gogh.  (Her ears stayed attached.)

Treading carefully, for fear of another cold war, I used a door in the kitchen as a display case.  Piece after piece was taped, proudly on display for all who visited.  Miss Q was in heaven.


Ocean

When in her entire school career – maybe even her life career is she ever going to have the opportunity to be carefree with her art? 

The questions weighed heavily.  I didn’t want to stomp on her creative expression, but with the new school year looming, we had to make room for new art.

Selling the old art was out of the question… or was it?  Using them for wrapping presents or giving them away as gifts, was a no, Miss Q added during one of our conversations.  The only thing she was okay with was taking them off the door and putting them in a box.  She didn’t even want to pick her three favourite pieces and store them away.  “They’re all my favourites, Mum.”

I begrudgingly went along with that option, because it got last year’s art off our door, but I admit, I didn’t provide her with a box.  Instead, the art was taken downstairs in a pile and left on top of the freezer.  My secret evil mum plan was to recycle it piece by piece until the pile had “mysteriously” disappeared.

It was Miss Q’s preschool teacher, who gave me a brilliant idea – one I wish I could take full credit for, but alas, the idea belongs completely to Teacher G.  She suggested I take pictures of all of Miss Q’s art, and make a scrap book of them.  Once the pictures of the pictures were glued into the book, Miss Q could draw frames around them – making it her brag book of sorts.

This was the answer to my art pile prayers.

We modified the brag book a bit – Miss Q saw a photograph album at London Drugs (it was on sale), so we purchased that and stuck all her pictures in.  She didn’t get to draw frames around all her art pictures, but it did give her the opportunity to make it a tribute to her first year of preschool.

We put in a note from her teacher, a picture of the artist taken at school, and Miss Q added some extra pictures she’d drawn.  The end result was really lovely.

Now our little Monet has a reminder of her first year of school as seen through her art, and the ability to show off her portfolio.

As for the pile of original work sitting on our freezer?  I hate to admit, it’s still there.  Maybe by Christmas, she’ll be ready to use it for wrapping paper… or watch the pretty colours burn in the fireplace…  Surely Picasso’s mum knows my pain.

Red

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