Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Coffee Filter Butterflies

I'm always looking for really easy craft projects for Sadie to do. She likes to paint and color and do all of that, but for whatever reason, I like to have a finished product. Note to self: it's not the product, it's the process. Must. Work. On. That. Anyways, I found a really easy and fun way to make a butterfly out of coffee filters from a really great tutorial on Sycamore Stirrings here. The kids loved it, especially spraying the coffee filters with water and watching the colors bleed. It was too cool and easy enough for the Sadester. Our very small butterfly garden:

Monday, June 23, 2008

Freezer Paper Stenciling

It seems that I caught the bug that is floating around the blogging world. I finally dug out some old t-shirts and tried freezer paper stenciling. I must say that it is a very satisfying craft. It's quick and easy, but looks like you worked harder than you actually did. I did not buy fabric paint because I couldn't find any, not that I was looking hard, I had two little helpers at the craft store and they kept grabbing everything off of the shelves so I found the closest thing I could and got the rock out of dodge. Instead I used a medium that converts acrlyic paint to fabric paint and it seems to be holding up on our t-shirts just fine, though I can't speak for the quality of fabric paint. For a summary of instructions visit Amy at Angry Chicken here. I found most of my stencils by googling specific images and using clipart.

By request, Eli's purple triceratops:

Sadie's bird and tree: My I'm-not-so-impressed-by-this-one t-shirt:
A gift for a birthday:

Monday, June 16, 2008

How To Make A Felt/Flannel Board

This is a picture of the felt board I made for my kids for Christmas. It's a large size about 17" x 23". Because we are going on a long, long car ride, I decided to make a travel felt board so the kids have something to do besides saying "Are we there yet?". This tutorial is for making a small felt board, but the same principles apply for making a larger one, only the larger size is much easier to make.
  • one bulletin/cork board with a frame in whatever size you'd like (I'm using a small chalkboard)
  • solid color felt (you can also use flannel), preferrably with a wool/polyester blend that you find on the bolts in the fabric store cut to about the size of the bulletin board you will be using
  • scissors
  • butter knife

1. Cut the felt so it is about the same size as the frame of your bulletin board. You will want to have extra because inevitably it will go in crooked and you don't want to be short sided.

2. With the butter knife, start to push the felt in-between the cork and the frame. It will be a tight squeeze, so it will stay in place nicely. You will need to smooth the felt and trim the excess as you go.

Voila! That's it. It's that easy. It will take you all of 5 minutes to make!

Notes on felt board pieces: You can always make your own felt board pieces using craft felt cut to the shapes desired. However, this is very very time consuming especially if you want to do something like Goldilocks and The Three Bears. I have cut out my own very simple shapes (cars, trees) and I have not been happy with the results. It was easier for me to get a few books on felt board activities from the library, copy the pictures onto cardstock, color them (or have the kids color them) and attach the felt to the back of the pictures. Here are a couple that I used: Felt Board Fun For Everyday and Holidays, and Felt Board Fingerplays. However, the kids like to create their own creatures using basic shapes which are really easy to cut out.

To see another idea on traveling felt boards using cardboard boxes visit Plum Pudding.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Going On Vacation

I just wanted to let you know that we are going on vacation for the next 18 days. We are driving to North Dakota to see our family. Posts may be really slow, but I promise that the felt board tutorial is scheduled to show up on Monday and I'll try to sneak one in here and there. Wish us luck on a 1,000 mile road trip with an almost three year old and a 19 month old!
Photo courtesy of Dusty Davis

Felt Board Animals

Yesterday I mentioned how easy it is to think of activities from Lois Ehlert's books. Her newly released book Oodles of Animals has colorful collage illustrations with the animals made up of simple shapes accompanied with a short poem about each animal. The animals range from insects to frogs, alligators to birds, bears to lizards. Here are some of the insects:
I decided it would be fun to cut out basic shapes for the kids to design animals with. I used craft felt, my pinking shears and scissors to cut out various shapes in many sizes and colors. Here are some of the animals they came up with:
Don't have a felt board? You can always use paper. Or you can stop back later this week and I'll show you how to make your own felt board!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Author Of the Week: Lois Ehlert

Lois Ehlert is an award-winning author/illustrator with many books under her belt. She is known for her bright, bold collage style illustrations. You might recognize her artwork in the popular children's book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. She is also a noted author in her own right with sweet, simple and often rhyming text that matches each of her colorful collages perfectly.

As a *former* teacher, it's really hard to pick up one of her books and not instantly think of a fun activity to do after reading them. In fact, you may remember me planting a rainbow with my kids after reading Ehlert's book Planting A Rainbow. After reading Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables from A to Z a great activity would be to have a tasting of some of the more exotic vegetables she mentions. An obvious activity for Leaf Man is to make a person or animals out of leaves. Make vegetable soup with your garden's bounty after reading Growing Vegetable Soup. The ideas are endless. Tomorrow, I will show you an activity inspired by Ehlert's book Oodles of Animals.

Even if you don't have an activity in mind when you read Ehlert's books, they're enjoyable to read and even more enjoyable to look at.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Make Your Own Windsock Out of Recycled Materials

Here is a quick and easy craft project that uses things I guarantee you already have at your house. I'd like to thank Halo for being my model. My kids helped me make a windsock for my dad for his birthday. We hung it up outside to make sure that it worked. Halo saw it and everyday since she has begged me to help her make one. Today, I finally agreed. I think this would make one awesome Father's Day gift.

  • thick plastic bags (like garbage bags, not the thin grocery bags)

  • an empty juice or 2 liter soda bottle, rinsed well

  • yarn

  • scissors

  • duct-tape

  • hole punch
1. Cut your juice bottle into a ring about 4 inches tall.

2. Cut the plastic bags into streamers that measure about 2" x 18". You'll need about 6 strips.

3. Roll out the duct tape with the sticky side up, but don't cut it yet. Lay your plastic streamers colorful side down onto the bottom half of the tape leaving about 1/2 inch between streamers.

4. Line up the bottom of the plastic ring with the bottom of the tape that has the streamers and roll the ring along the tape making sure that there are enough streamers for the size of the bottle. If there are not enough streamers, add more. Cut the tape.

5. Roll out more tape sticky side up, do not cut. Line up the top of the plastic ring with the top of the tape and roll covering the entire ring. Cut the tape. (This step is purely decorative, if you can call duct tape decoration.)
6. Punch 3 holes in the plastic ring at the top of the windsock. Trying to place them an equal distance from each other.

7. Tie a string to each hole. Tie the strings together so it forms a tri-pod in the center of the windsock with a longer piece to tie the windsock up with. (Sorry I don't have a better picture of how I do this, but I think you get the gist.)

8. Hang up the windsock. Voila! One beautiful windsock for your family to enjoy.

Monday, June 9, 2008

More Randoms.

It seems like I have a lot of these random posts. Sorry. It's just my way of clearing my head which seems to be on overload a lot lately.First, I'd like to thank Lola for nominating me for an award. I'm so honored and am so happy that other people are out there reading my blog besides my mom and my friends. Not to say that I don't love my peeps, but it's just good to know that others appreciate me as well and actually do some of the stuff that I post about. Yea!! I'm supposed to nominate five other blogs and, well, I'm just so darn bad at that sort of stuff, plus most of the people I know have already received this award. Instead, I'm going to recommend that you look over on my "Just Met" links and stop by all these lovely, creative women's blogs. I promise that you will learn something new from each and every one of them.

Teacher/Mommy tip of the day: Eli has been really into his letters lately. **Warning: bragging is about to occur** We were sitting in the car and Eli was playing with his cup holder. Then he starts to say D-1-S-H-W-A-S-H-E-R-S-A-F-E. Needless to say, Dennis and I were floored. Today when we were playing with letters I realized that he was putting a lot of them upside down and backwards. So, I got out my trusty old Sharpie and added little black dots to the bottom front of all of the letters so he will know the correct directionality of the letter. Yes, I believe it's ok to accept approximations, but I think it's good for them to know the right way, too!!

A total random: Dennis and I have been getting Netflix for five years now and we were going to stop our account because we'd had Hairspray for three months and just couldn't find time to watch movies. Well, Eli was sick all weekend with a really high fever and we did Netflix Movies on Command for him. He watched movie after movie (not that I recommend this, but when your kid has a 104 temp, you just let him watch, sleep, watch, sleep...) all day long. It was great!! I think it's worth it for this alone. We don't have cable and we usually get movies from the library, but this way I don't have to drive to the library and pay a late fee! Again, why am I so slow to catch on to these things??

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Strawberries Part II

This recipe is not quite as healthy as the last, but is equally delicious. Give it a try, I promise that you will not be sorry.

Strawberry/Rhubarb Crisp
From Diana Parton, my next door neighbor growing up who made this every summer
  • 2 cups diced rhubarb
  • 2 cups diced strawberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup flour

1. Pre-heat over to 375 degrees.

2. Combine the first four ingredients (rhubarb through flour). Dump into a small 8 x 8 baking dish.

3. Combine brown sugar through flour. Sprinkle over strawberry/rhubarb mixture.

4. Bake for 40 minutes. Serve warm with ice-cream.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Strawberries Part I

We've got strawberries coming out of our ears in Columbus, Ohio. We've been eating them by the pint-full. We got a heaping basket in our CSA this morning so I decided to make something special with them instead of just clean them and pop them into my mouth. Which is, in my opinion, the best way to eat them. I made a strawberry vinaigrette and put it on this very tasty salad of lettuce (also from our CSA), blue-cheese, toasted pinenuts and fresh strawberry slices, but would be equally good over a spinach salad with fresh stawberries, goat cheese and roasted pecans.

Fresh Strawberry Vinaigrette
adapted from the May/June 2008 edition of World Ark
  • 1 cup fresh stawberries, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar (I just used the dark stuff, so it wasn't as pretty!)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

Place strawberries and honey into a blender and pulse until pureed. Add vinegar, salt and pepper, combine. Add olive oil through the lid in a small stream. Blend until combined.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Author of the Week: Byron Barton

Byron Barton is the author/illustrator of numerous children's books. Most of his books are geared toward the toddler/pre-school set as the text is very simple and the pictures are bright and bold with simple shapes and lines. As an extra bonus for those of us who have kids that are really hard on their books, most of them come in board-book form. He has a set of books about transportation vehicles that Eli totally digs and I love that I can get Sadie to sit and listen to The Three Bears or The Little Red Hen. He's a great author for us to go to right now as my kids are the perfect age for his books. He just might have the perfect book for your child too.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

And The Winner Is....

#6, Trish who said, "haha! Looks like you have plenty of contestants! Nothing like coffee and chocolate to bring out the smiles. :)".

Today's your lucky day. Go play the lottery, Trish. Send me your address and I'll get this sent out to you!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Leaf Rubbings

Let me explain to you a little bit about my neighborhood. I live in Campus Family Housing. In order to live in the two bedroom apartments you must have at least one child. All of the two bedroom apartments are in the same building condo style, so each apartment has an up and down stairs. There is a front step and a back porch. The porch sits on a big open courtyard facing another apartment building whose back porches also face the courtyard. Many of the families are not from the United States, but rather from Mexico, Turkey, Korea, China, Singapore, Argentina, South Africa, India, United Arab Emirates, and those are just the people I know. Most of the children are under the age of 10. What I'm trying to say is that our backyard is pretty much always one big gigantic multi-cultural playgroup that goes on for hours and hours. This means lots of fun for the kids all of the time. From time-to-time you might see a face of a neighbor, particularly the neighbor girls who love to do arts and crafts even when my two kids are not interested. Yesterday we were outside coloring with our very sweet neighbor. She loves to do crafts of all kinds. I love it when Eli and Sadie play with her because she is patient, kind and very creative with her play. She also loves to collect. She just happened to be collecting leaves and we just happened to have a box of crayons sitting outside, so we had an impromptu leaf rubbing activity. I haven't rubbed leaves for such a long time, I forgot how satisfying it is to see your leaf appear all magic-like in a matter of seconds.Materials:
  • paper
  • crayons with paper removed
  • leaves


Place a leaf on a hard, flat surface with the bumpiest side of the leaf facing up. Place a piece of paper over the leaf. With the crayon laying flat against the paper, rub the paper using a good amount of pressure. Voila! Your leaf will magically appear on your paper.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Random Give-Away

In honor of the final "A Post A Day In May", I am going to celebrate by having a random give-away. The winner will win my favorite vices: coffee and chocolate. You will receive one 100g bar of Le Noir Valrhona Chocolate and a one pound bag of India Monsooned Malabar coffee from Stauf's Coffee Roasters. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post by midnight Wednesday. I will have the Random Number Generator pick a number and I will announce the winner on Thursday. Anyone can enter. Don't feel like you can't enter because you're my mom, sister-in-law, cousin, best-friend, or husband (oh, wouldn't it be great if my husband won. I'd get to eat the chocolate.) because otherwise I probably will only have like four people enter. Good Luck!!