Monday, December 15, 2014

Crafting a happy Christmas.. :)

Oh what fun it is to find ways to spend good time and little money.. making gifts, keepsakes, and memories. :)

Here are a few of the ideas we tried this year..

*Simple infinity scarfs - using whatever thick material you have on hand (we found that plush velvet worked great).  Cut 6 inch strips of the fabric, at least 1 yard in length, then hand sew the 6 inch ends together.  Use hot glue to attach a fabric flower or decal to the scarf, and voila! ..a lovely home made infinity scarf to give away, or keep. :)

*Candy jars - in the spirit of recognizing the strengths of those that we love, and rewarding with a sweet treat...simply take a small cardboard bowl (available at any craft store, or make one from scrap pieces of cardboard), then use permanent markers to decorate it by writing compliments and positive character traits for the recipient.  Fill with whatever holiday candy that you know they will love. :)

*Sugar scrub - using a empty jar, combine 1/2 cup oil (coconut or olive work great), with 1 cup of sugar, and a few drops of essential oil.  Heat in the microwave just until the oil is warm enough to combine with the sugar (about 30 seconds).  Then mix together in the jar, seal with a festive ribbon, and you have a wonderful sugar scrub sure to please the skin, and the loving recipient of the gift.

*Shining stars - take an empty cereal box, and use cookie cutters to trace and cut out large star shapes.  Wrap the stars completely with foil.  Using sharpie markers, write your favorite bible verse on both sides of the star.  Then punch a hole in the top, attach a ribbon, and enjoy these sweet, shiny, homemade reminders of the real reason for the season. :)

*Family "photo" ornaments - instead of trying to achieve the perfect holiday photo of all faces (as if that ever happens anyway) it can be more fun for kids to hand draw a small picture of everyone in the family (stick figures work great).  Then using scrap pieces of cardboard (perhaps from an empty cereal box), tape on the hand drawn photos of the family, and decorate the edges of the cardboard to create a lovely festive frame. :)

Monday, October 20, 2014 :)

It's always lovely to carve out some mindful time with kids to have fun while focusing on creative ways to celebrate the new school year and the fall season. :)

These are a few fun and very simple projects to work on together…

1. Colorful reminder board; place fabric over top of an old cork board, secure the fabric with stables, hot glue, or whatever is on hand.  Use it as a colorful bulletin board to tack pictures, moment's, reminders, etc. :)

2. Validation book; cut out several small pieces of card stock, write a series of affirming messages to kids acknowledging their uniquely good qualities, interests, goals, etc. then punch holes in the cards and string together with ribbon to form a pocket sized book. School-aged kids have many self-esteem uplifting and depriving moments throughout their day, both socially and academically.  Having access to a validating touchstone throughout the day may boost their self-esteem and make these school related issues easier to cope with.

3. Easy picture frame; take the cardboard from an old cereal box, printed pictures, washy tape, stickers, and whatever else is on hand to create a sturdy and personalized poster to hang anywhere. :)

4. Washy tape pencil holder; Simply wash out an old soup can and peel off the wrapping.  Use washy tape to create a colorful holder for school supplies.

5. Teaching acknowledgment cards; fold a plain piece of paper in fourths.  Write a a simple message of gratitude on the front, and leave the insides blank.  Then print of several copies of this generic card.  When the moment presents itself to acknowledge the work of a special teacher simply finish the message on the inside of the card with a specific reference of gratitude for the work they do.  It is always nice to have these personalized cards on hand. :)

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Happiest 4th of July...

The warm weather, the family events, the patriotic spirit…so many opportunities to teach and share the joy with all the members of the family.

* After the season of "spring cleaning" has come and gone many items are ready to be tossed.  Consider converting old tank tops into patriotic beach worthy tote bags with just a few snips and stitches.  To make this craft simply turn the shirt inside out, cut 2 inch strips along the bottom and then tie them off to create a seam.  Then flip the shirt right side out and voila…simple, but useful, a new summer tote. :)  Use red, white, and blue fabric pens to create unique designs and decals for more patriotic craft.

Use the scraps from the project to create decorative hair ties by tying the material around a hair band.  Even the smallest hands enjoy making these cheap and easy, and cute hair ties to help celebrate the 4th of July and reduce the "throw away" pile. :)

* Take a walk and gather smooth rocks and sticks.  Use acrylic red, white, and blue paint to cover the sticks and rock, let them dry, and then arrange them on a piece of study cardboard. Use tacky glue (and plenty of it), to glue the rocks in place.  The colors and texture of the art create an interesting project that is simple for kids of all ages.  This might be our favorite new sibling craft. :)

* Use mud to create a patriotic poster….what kid doesn't enjoy playing in the dirt?? :) Use a piece of poster board, cardboard, or something that can be found around the house (like the inside of a cereal box), a large paintbrush, several scoops of dirt and some water to create your "dirt art."  If you desire to keep this project it is possible to let it dry completely, cover it with serran wrap, and place in a home made frame.

* Melted crayon sun-catcher.  Gather broken and nearly unusable red, white, and blue crayons.  Use a pencil sharpener to shave them into little pieces.  Then place them on a piece of wax paper in some sort of design, like an American flag?, or whatever you choose.  Then cover the design with another piece of fax paper and place a dry cloth on top of it.  Using a heated iron, slowly smooth over the surface unit the crayon has melted and blended into a creative and unique design.  Once it has cooled, trim the excess wax paper, use a hole punch and a ribbon to hang these fun and patriotic sun-catcher crafts.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy 2014!

It is the official start of a whole new year, and with that, the sense of renewal and hope.  The stressors of real life may be impossible to ignore, but turning the page on a new calendar offers the refreshing reminder for all of us that time keeps marching on...and we may as well enjoy the time we have, and make the most out of the moments we have, together. :)

Here are a few fun ways to reflect on the past year and to ring in the new one!

* Discuss the purpose of making New Years Resolutions.  Create a family resolution, write it on a piece of paper, then stash it inside a Christmas stocking not to be looked at again until the end of 2013. The next time the Christmas stockings gets hung again it will be fun to see how well the resolution was maintained!

* Cut a large circle out of paper or cardboard and draw lines across the center to divide it into a 12-segment "2013 clock," one segment for each month of the new year.  Each member of the family then writes a fun activity or personal goal they hope to accomplish in that month.  It is a fun way to generate inspiration for the new year, and to support each others goals.  Keep it stored in a handy location!

* Learn about the history and significance of New Years Day, and find fun ways to pay homage to your families own unique cultural heritage.

*Eat a good luck dinner!  Our German roots dictate that we eat pork and sour kraut on New Years Day.  The pork is because pigs tend to "root forward" with their snouts, symbolizing progress, and the sour kraut because the green cabbage symbolizes wealth in the new year.

Have fun, make it a great New Years day, and enjoy 2014..together!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Small projects, large laughs. :)

In our simple attempt to involve the kiddo's in preparations for our holiday celebrations, I am grateful to say that these cookies turned out pretty cute and quite tasty.  As easy as a project could be, this one only involved pre-made sugar cookie dough, a few m and m's (the little ones picked out the right colors for the eyes and nose), and a chocolate coated pretzel.  The process of getting the kids involved is the most rewarding experience of all.  Kids who participate regularly in making the holiday get togethers special and meaningful develop a more personal connection to the event and to the people who surround them.

There are unlimited ideas for ways to involve kids on the web but these are our favorite compilation of ideas from  Most of these ideas are cheap, easy, and have some impressive results. :)

Enjoy.  Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Thankful in November :)

Create a "thankful box" to collect grateful statements throughout the month of November.   Simply decorate an old shoe box or mailing box with paper, ribbon, stickers, designs, or whatever creative supplies that you have on hand. Throughout the month encourage family members to regularly drop notes into the box about what they are thankful for.  These notes can be simple, elaborate, or somewhere in between...there is so much to be thankful for. :)  On Thanksgiving empty the box and read the notes aloud for all to share.  These real life affirmations can be meaningful and memorable for all members of the family. :)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Getting rid of the leaves..and making it fun!

I have often wondered why it is important to clean up leaves before the first snowfall.  After minimal research I discovered a few very simple reasons.  Basically the last thing that anyone wants is a yard, gutter, or sidewalk full of partially decomposed, wet leaves.  Especially after feet of heavy snow pummel the ground for several months.  These partially decomposed leaves are difficult to mulch and make for very heavy trash bags.  Too much leftover leaf debris will also smother lawns and gardens making spring growth difficult or even impossible.  So, there you go.  The proof that this pesky fall chore is essential, despite how time consuming it can be.  Here are a few ways to make raking the leaves fun, and tackling those other necessary fall duties alongside your youngest family members. :)

* Raking leaves game; give older kids a rake and ask them to rake their name or other designs in the yard.  Be sure the gather the leaves they clear as they go.  Or, have kids race to see who can fill a bag of the leaves the fastest.  The winner gets an amazing a date night with parents or the privilege of choosing the next movie. :)

* Cleaning up the community; the same reality applies for leftover leaves that are not cleared away before the first snowfall.  Excess leaf debris can smother attempts for new spring growth in your favorite public areas.  Help keep these areas beautiful all year long by raking up these areas.  The lessons learned from this experience tackled alongside your kiddo's can be beneficial for all.  Having kids fill Halloween themed garbage bags in the shapes of pumpkins can boost the fun of all this raking. :)

Once all of the leaves are cleared there are many good uses for them;

* Create a keepsake craft by gluing the driest and most colorful leaves around the edges of a sturdy piece of construction paper.  Then glue a picture of the family raking up the leaves.  

* Use the dried leaves as colorful seasonal filler to line the bottom of a candle-holder.

Enjoy the loveliness and creativity of the fall season. :)