Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hanging Hearts

This was an incredibly simple craft. All it involves are some paper hearts and your sewing machine. I had a crazy amount of paper hearts from a time I went a little nuts with the diecut machines at the scrapbooking store awhile ago. I was partially inspired by my hanging cotton ball snowflakes. Here is what I came up with:
If you don't already happen to have an abundance of pre-made hearts you can cut them yourself, or your local scrapbooking store most likely has diecut machines you can use for a small price (or some places they only charge you the cost of the paper).
To make these, just sew down the center of the heart and at the end, lift up the foot and needle, pull the thread to your desired length, then start a new heart. All my heart placements and thread length were random, so no measuring needed.
Once you have a string of hearts you will need to trim one of the threads (the bobbin one, it picked up more slack when I made this and didn't look right when I hung it). It helps to use two different thread colors so you don't trim off the wrong thread.
It took me about 20 minutes to sew all of these so it goes really fast. Just hang them anywhere you like, I think they look especially cute hanging in a window. I suppose if you don't own a sewing machine you can just tape the hearts to a length of thread and achieve a similar look.

I have two packs of these paper hearts from Creative Memories that are just itching to find a new home. With one pack you will get more than enough hearts to create this craft (the only size not in this pack that I used is the smallest heart). The first two lucky ladies to request one in the comments section will receive a pack of hearts. Any takers?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

How not to paint a wooden mailbox

As I painted this I kept coming up with ideas on how it would be easier, after I had just done it the hard way. So this will be more of a 'how NOT' to instead of a 'how to.' ;)
I've had my eye on this wooden mailbox at Joann for a long time now (retail $7.99, but I used my 40% coupon so it ended up being about $5), I knew I had to have it for a Valentine's Day decoration. My husband's mother is way into decorating for every holiday/season and it is from her that I truly got into it myself. It is from her that I got the tradition of everyone in the family decorating some kind of bag/box to be their Valentine's mailbox. Then everyone can make cards for one another and/or deliver treats to their 'mailbox' on Valentine's day.
This is them making their mailboxes last year
My original idea was to get 4 of these mailboxes, one for each one in our family, and to let everyone paint it themselves to replace the paper bag idea. However, I started to worry that my boys might not be happy with the paint job they did this year in another 5 years. Anyway, I ended up with one mailbox that I painted myself to be a decoration.

First I removed the flag, then started taping. If you have the blue painting tape on hand, use that by all means. Masking tape just barely does the job. What I wish I had done, was paint the whole body the lighter color pink, THEN tape just once to paint the darker pink
You can see I chose to do it the hard way.
To write our last name on the mailbox I just chose a font I liked, increased it to the desired size, printed it, and then cut it out. Then I taped it to the box, traced it, and then spent a LONG time very carefully painting it. It was at this point that I started to think of ModPodge. It would have been so much easier to modpodge the letters right onto the box. If you have a cricut (which I do! and I still didn't even think to use it), you can just cut the desired letters out on carstock and then modpodge those babies right on. It would be so much easier.
After I had it all painted I realized there was something bothering me about my color scheme - I had recreated a Victoria Secret bag. They are pink striped, just like this, with black lettering. Nice. If I had to do it over again, I would choose two red tones instead of pink.
That little cupid guy is just a diecut I had that I traced on and then painted. Over the next few weeks I will sneak little treats/crafts/goodies into the mailbox and then put the flag up for my guys to discover.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Chunky Crayons

I have seen recycled crayons like this on Etsy, though making them yourself for free is so easy and fun. If you're like me, then you have mountains of well-used and broken crayons lying around.

You'll need:

Cooking spray
Muffin tin

Just peel the paper off the crayons and break them up. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and then arrange the broken crayons into the tins however you like. Mix and match to create new colors.
Preheat your oven to 275 degrees and melt for 7-8 minutes. Once melted, CAREFULLY remove them from the oven (you do not want to clean up melted crayon wax).
If you'd like, take a tooth pick and swirl the colors a bit. Allow to cool before removing from the tin. Some of the colors look like they completely mixed, though you will have a surprise when you pop them out. Getting them out wasn't too hard, though some needed a little coaxing.
Aren't those the coolest? My boys were ooohing and ahhing every time one popped out.
I'd say these crayons worked better for the big coloring pages like these ones, since without a pointed end like regular crayons, your accuracy isn't as good. The boys had a lot of fun coloring with them and loved seeing how the colors mixed. We will definitely be doing this again.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Paper Snowflakes

A couple days ago we made paper snowflakes in school and they were a lot of fun. I had all the paper precut into squares and folded so we'd be all ready. Then I gave the boys pencils so that they could design their snowflakes. This is the same route a lot of parents go with for carving pumpkins with little kids - letting them draw on the face they want, and leave the carving up to an adult. Much easier than letting your child wield a sharp object.
As you can see, they really tried to challenge my cutting skills with pretty intricate and crazy designs.
The boys really got into 'designing' their snowflakes. It was so cute to watch them watching me open up the snowflake to see how what they drew turned out. At one point Schooler said as I opened up one of his flakes "I designed that? I'm an artist!" Here is one of Thatcher's snowflakes. Unlike most days, he was wearing three shirts.
One of Schoo's snowflakes (he's only wearing 2 shirts):
Here's a tip for you folks to get nice flat snowflakes. All you'll need is an iron.
Once finished just turn your iron onto a low setting (without steam) and gently iron the snowflakes. They will flatten out really nicely and look better once you hang them.
Here's one of Schoo's, mine, and Thatcher's designs.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It's Snowing!

All these crafts have been turning our house into a winter wonderland and the boys have been loving it. Even though we live somewhere that gets a decent amount of snow and there is even some on the ground, we have the worst air quality in the nation. It is not advisable to go outside. It has been this way for awhile, and will probably stay this way for anotherwhile (I just made that word up).

So, to make winter more wonderlandish (instead of smoggish) we made it snow inside the house. We used cotton balls again and it was really simple. You can either just do white, but I had this idea to make pretty light blue and purple snowflakes mixed with the white. It didn't work out exactly like I imagined, but it was still fun to do.

In a small container place some water and food coloring and mix it up.
Maybe if I had put some vinegar in there as well the colors would have stayed better. Anyway. Dip the cotton balls into the colored water, gently squeeze, and place on a paper towel covered plate. It will look like this:
I put the plate on a heater vent overnight and this is what they looked like the next morning:
Again, not exactly like I had imagine, but no one around here minded. Using a long sewing needle and some thread we strung them up and taped them to the ceiling. String some up in groups of 3, 4, or 5 to vary the hanging length. Try to ignore the really ugly chandelier hanging in the middle.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Day 2 - Painting Snowmen

These wooden snowmen were one of my craft store clearance finds (I think around .60 a piece). They're normally not that expensive and craft stores carry a variety of shapes/styles all year round. It's not a very crafty craft on my part, but my boys love it and it keeps them entertained for about an hour. A whole hour. Of quiet painting. Did I mention the quiet?
Have you ever given your child a palette full of paint? If not, you must. Tape down some paper towels and let them have at it. Most of the fun in painting these things usually ends up in mixing the paint and creating new colors. These plastic palettes are usually around $1.
This guy could mix colors for hours. Some of the colors, according to him, that he made this time around were 'swamp green' and 'caramel brown.' He isn't just topless for painting. If you read my blog on a regular basis you'll notice he is shirtless in most pictures. He prefers it that way.
Here is Schooler's finished product:
After they dried I glued magnets to the back and we hung them on the fridge. Anyone else out there doing winter crafts with their kids? Come back tomorrow, I will have day 3 of winter crafts.

Friday, January 8, 2010

WinterWonderland, Day 1

For the next week or so the weather forecast is 30 degrees with smog/haze. Fantastic. Horrible for playing outside, but great for the winter unit we are doing in school right now. My boys love doing crafts and it is a great way to break up the day when both you and your kids are starting to go a little crazy being cooped up in the house.

If you are a sucker for sales then do not go to Joann or Michael's right now. You will go home will way too much stuff. I know this from personal experience. In my opinion Michael's had a way better selection of Christmas items on sale (80% off). But Christmas items were not what I was after. It works in my favor that even though winter has just begun really, all winter/snow related crafts go on sale after Christmas as well. Now is the time to stock up if you too are cooped up.

So today begins a flurry of winter related crafts for you and your tots. The first is a classic, and despite all my ramblings about craft store sales, it requires no purchases. That's right, it is the cotton ball snowman.
I did this last year too and my boys love it. All you need is a piece of paper, glue, and a bag of cotton balls. What I do is lightly draw the outline of a snowman so you will have a guide to follow as you glue. Also, jumbo cotton balls may be too big (like mine) so you can easily tear them in half and roll gently in your hand to reform into ball form.
Once all the cotton balls are glued on, let your tot draw on the stick arms, and cut the nose and hat out of construction paper. Simple and classic. This is a great craft, even for toddlers. Mom just needs to pipe the glue onto the snowman and then let your little one stick on the cotton balls.
Please ignore the messy hair and shirtlessness. I'm sure I was still wearing my pajamas. You would get lazy too if you homeschooled :)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Where have I been?

Christmas came and went so fast as usual. I did quite a few crafts with my boys but most of it failed to make an appearance here. Oops. Once I finished up Christmas orders for the old shop, and let the boys out on vacation from homeschooling my production level pretty much dropped. Oh well, here is a sneak peak at one of the many sweets I have ready for the shop - my conversation hearts. Also coming up, snow/winter crafts to do with your kids. Hope everyone had a great holiday season!