December 17, 2014
by sarah
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Last minute gift ideas

Here are two last minute gift ideas. One crafty and the other techy.

1. My son is going to give to his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins MAGNETS. He simply drew pictures, I laminated them, we cut them out and stuck magnets to the back.  magnet2

2. READING RAINBOW app. Reading Rainbow started airing on PBS when I was 6. I have loved it ever since. Now there is an app. The app it free, but if you want unlimited access to all the books you have to pay a yearly fee.

While I am on the subject of apps I just found this link to other educational apps.

The 5 year old votes “ABC ninja” the best.

The 8 year old votes “King of Math” the best.

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December 17, 2014
by sarah
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Baby Doll Carrier

baby carrier3

When my third was very little and I carrier her everywhere my middle daughter wanted to carry her baby too. So I rigged up a baby carrier for her. That first carrier is now mostly held together with safety pins, so we decided 3 years later we needed to make new ones.

Baby Doll Carrier

Supplies

  • fabric – 2 pieces 12″x12″, 2 pieces 18″x4″, 2 pieces 36″x4″
  • sewing machine

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Directions

  1. Fold the 4 long pieces in half. Individuality sew them on the long side into tubes.
  2. Reverse the tubes. If you want to iron and sew around the edges to make a cleaner look feel free. baby carrier7
  3. Place one of the square 12″x12″ pieces on the table face up. Neatly fold up the tubes allowing about 3 inches to hang out of the folded pile.
  4. Place the two shorter tubes on the bottom right and left sides of the square. Place the long tubes on the right and left top side of the square.  Please refer to the picture.baby carrier5
  5. Place the other 12″x12″ square fabric face down on top of the tubes (straps) and other fabric square. Pin it all together.
  6. Sew around the edge of the square leaving a small part un- sewn to flip it inside out.
  7. Reverse. Finish up the part left un-sewn. Again if you want a neater finish sew around the outside edge of the square. baby carrier4

Check out Youtube for videos on how to tie a Mei Tai this one is pretty good. baby carrier1 baby carrier2

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December 16, 2014
by sarah
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Fudge #2

fudge

I have been preparing for teacher gifts, bus driver gifts, swim instructor gifts, yoga teacher gifts, mail person gifts, school holiday parties, and cookie swaps. As you know I love to experiment and challenge my self with recipes and patterns.  However with all that is going on these days preparing for the holidays I don’t have time to experiment. I have found this fudge recipe that it tasty and so easy!!

Fudge

Ingredients

  • 3 cups chocolate chips
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk

Directions

  1. Add the chocolate and condensed milk to the top of a double boiler.
  2. Melt and mix
  3. When combined pour into a greased 9×9 pan
  4. Let cool and refrigerated for at least an hour.

Here is Jenny’s Fudge #1.

 

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December 11, 2014
by jenny
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Pipe Cleaner Animals

This week we’ve been writing another chapter in the story of “craft stuff I have hoarded away in my house for a future project.”

While browsing Amazon for Christmas gift ideas, I came across this book [affiliate link]:

The reviews say that it’s pretty difficult to do and to find the supplies necessary. But aren’t those pups cute? My girls and I pulled out some pipe cleaners and googly eyes and had a go at online tutorials and youtube videos. They were frustratingly difficult to understand. At first, this put us off, but now it’s become a bit of a challenge to try to figure it out and pipe cleaner animals and flowers are being developed every day. While we haven’t pulled off those cute dogs, we are getting close and  are amassing quite the menagerie along the way.

A sampling:

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December 10, 2014
by jenny
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Ralph Masiello’s Drawing Books

My kids (and I) are all interested in drawing. As I’m sure is the case with most people, we struggle with getting what’s on the paper to look anything like what is in our brain. With some exception (mostly in subject matter), we aren’t actually that great at drawing. We are not innate artists. However, can naturally follow rules, develop patterns and spend long periods of quiet time working on something.

And that’s where drawing books come in. We have tried many drawing books. We find most “How to Draw” books frustrating and difficult to follow (even when intended for kids). We’ve given my kids drawing books for birthdays and Christmas for 6 years and have a bunch in the house and we get them out of the library often. We’ve enjoyed Ed Emberly books somewhat, never really got into them much. My daughter got D is for Doodle out of the library last month that was more fun than most books passing through here [these are all Amazon affiliate links, by the way.]

However over Thanksgiving vacation we started really using Ralph Masiello’s books. I know these are already popular with a lot of kids in our town from volunteering in school libraries. We’ve gotten them out of the library before, but just looked through and never really sat down with them because the final drawings seemed too complex and intimidating. Now that we have seriously given them a go, these are a new favorite in the house. There are easy step-by-step/line-by-line instructions for drawing pictures that are more basic than a simple cartoon frog. The final product is a complex line drawing that makes you feel like a good artist. My kids do still get frustrated when the hand doesn’t seem to do what the brain and eye want it to, but the end results comes out great (for us!)

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Here are a few of our drawings. My son, daughter and I drew the pictures, and then we traded them to be colored.  I think that helped the kids to not be so critical of their own drawing (both seeing the imperfections in someone else’s drawings and seeing their own drawings as a nice finished product – or maybe being able to blame someone else if they don’t like the way it looks.)

If you are looking for drawing books for entertainment, holiday or birthday gifts for elementary age kids and up, you might want to leaf through some of Ralph Masiello’s books. The subjects are limited, but we’ve enjoyed them, and even the six year old found them all doable.

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December 8, 2014
by jenny
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Pomegranates

We had a Wegmans open up near us a couple of months ago. In our local Wegmans, the pomegranates are displayed in such a matter and in such a location that my daughter and I were intrigued to buy one on our first Wegmans visit. We’ve been buying them ever since.

We knew that pomegranates are marketed as a superfoods and are chock full of antioxidants. One of us was a fan of the pomegranate juice my husband used to use in his smoothies. I had seen and heard some tips on serving/eating pomegranates. I’d never actually brought one home or seen one prepared in person. Thankfully, as part of the pomegranate display, Wegmans provided a POM council pamphlet on how to choose, prepare and eat the fruit. We started out that using the pamphlet suggestions- choose a fruit that feels “heavy,” cut the top and bottom off, cut that in half, submerge in a bowl of water and break off the arils (juice and seed filled little pods).

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For eating them, I prefer take a handful of arils, throw them in my mouth, get all of the juice out and then spit the seeds out. But you can eat the seeds too, and we do sometimes. We started out eating a few arils at a time and eating the seeds, then the handful/spit method made it easier,  but now we are starting to eat the seeds more and more. The rest of my family kind of liked eating pomegranate, but didn’t much love the amount of work that goes into eating the fruit. My crew isn’t very adventurous when it comes to food (and my middle daughter doesn’t like any fruit), but everyone was willing to give it a try without coaxing.

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I have seen the video online of peeling a pomegranate like an orange, but I don’t think we have mastered in mouth seed management enough yet to use this method. We recently found out about “the wooden spoon trick.” There are many YouTube videos out there describing this, I just arbitrarily picked one of the shorter ones to embed below. The comments on these are often how awesome this trick is, and we agree. It makes prepping a pomegranate very easy! I recommend trying a pomegranate sometime. Besides the health benefit and good taste, you might get a kick out of being able to spit out the seeds when it’s not watermelon weather.

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December 3, 2014
by sarah
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Clothes pin dolls with tutu

clothes pin doll1

I discovered this post on Red Ted Art a couple weeks ago. I was excited to have the supplies we needed. This supply excitement has a flip side though. It means I am a pack rat and save everything. In my mind “I’ll find some project to do with this some day”- as I did on this rainy cold day!

Above is my little ladies and gent. This is great for 8 years and up to make an actual fairy / doll. However my 5 year old and 3 year old had a wonderful time painting the pins and I helped with the tutu. clothes pin doll2

I found that cereal box card board was the perfect stiffness. As you can see they make great tree ornaments and can also be used as dolls to play with. clothes pin doll3

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November 21, 2014
by sarah
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Flag bunting

flag bunting2

I have made a couple of these small flag buntings over the years. My littlest room has a sea life theme with fish and light houses and two ribbons of mini flags hung along the top of opposing walls. Last weekend I had a wonderful time helping celebrate a friend who is due to have a little boy in a couple weeks. She also is excited about the nautical theme. So I made and strung more small flags around her living room for her shower. I have left them with her to decorate the nursery.

Flag bunting

Supplies

  • Scraps of fabric cut into 2 inch triangles
  • ribbon
  • sewing machine
  • thread

Directions

Start sending the triangles through the sewing machine. Pause before you come to the corner of one triangle and line up the next one. The stitching will connect them.

The ribbon can be used in two ways. Either attached about a foot at each end of the finished stitched flags or if you have tons of ribbon actually sew the triangles onto the ribbon. The second way you can space the triangles apart a bit since the ribbon is connecting them in addition to the stitching.

flag bunting1

 

 

 

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November 18, 2014
by sarah
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Piñata

paper mache4

About 20 years ago I volunteered for an environmental organization called the Sierra Student Coalition. We campaigned to save Alaskan wildlife and California deserts, among other things. One of my favorite events was a rally against the North American Free Trade Agreement. The bottom line was NAFTA wasn’t looking out for environmental. So a large piñata was made to represent the earth. It was filled with fake money. A fellow student who had a similar build to Newt Gingrich put flour in his hair to make it grey. At the event he hit the piñata representing the idea that Newt’s NAFTA plan was killing the earth for money.

pinata

Fast forward twenty years to this past Saturday. One of the main priorities for my sons birthday party was a piñata. So we made one. Taking his lead it turned into a very similar earth piñata. This time it was filled with candy. The piñata fell from its support rope before it could be truly destroyed by the wiffle ball bat. I hope it just represented fun for a kid birthday party and not anything deeper.

paper mache3 paper mache2 paper mache1

Here are some tips to making your own:

  • Really big balloons can be found here.
  • Good flour glue recipe and tips on on this web site.
  • Make sure you have plenty of time. Like weeks before the event. It takes a long time to dry.
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