Category Archives: Creations

Happy Independence Day, U.S.A.

FotorCreatedI love the 4th of July.  Combine that with a cloudy, rainy day yesterday and it called for a day of festive craftiness.

1. Stenciling stars and fireworks with sidewalk chalk.  With the intermittent rain, we chose to do this under the eaves of our front walk.

2. A paint by numbers American flag.  Once the paint was dry, she added a texture element with matching tissue pieces. She loves to wrap the tissue around the tip of an eraser and stick it on with glue.

For those of you who live here in the U.S., we wish you a safe and happy holiday!

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Artwork with Kids: Exploring Pointillism

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One of my favorite paintings is A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat. It’s a large painting housed in the Art Institute of Chicago. The painting technique he uses is called pointillism or, in the case of a 5-year-old, dot paint.

As a fun way to introduce kids to the technique of pointillism and, let’s face it, fun with Q-tips, I found this great activity at Inner Child Fun. I set out the paints, brushes, Q-tips, paper and glue. I briefly explained the project and let her go on her way.

_DSC4446First, she used some scrap paper of various colors and glued them to the base sheet.  Then she used both the tips of paint brushes and Q-tips to create her dots.  Q-tips were her favorite tool because “they make big dots”.  I even sat down with her and created by own – I can’t resist a little afternoon of painting.

_DSC4452I really enjoyed watching her creative juices flow with her use of various colors and patterns, and, most importantly, she had a blast with this fun, simple project. Now it holds center position in her bedroom artwork display.

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A masterpiece

_DSC4418This is the spot where she would go each day after school for an entire week.  Sometimes daddy and I would join her to contribute to the mural, but mostly it was her masterpiece.  Had she been given the opportunity, we would have had a completely redesigned patio floor that would have made Gustav Klimt proud.

But the not-so-funny thing about chalk is it washes away.  When the time came to wash down the patio furniture, my little Gustav’s work went right along with the dust and dirt.  There were tears and exclamations of, “But I worked so hard on that!” I explained that the great thing about chalk art is you get to wipe the slate clean and start a new masterpiece.  In truth, her statement stabbed at my heart and my words were only a facade to hide that fact.  She did, indeed, work very hard on it, and in her mind, it wasn’t just the color that was washed away – it was her time, her efforts, her pride in her work. It was something she looked forward to coming home to every day.  I wish I would have seen that before I turned the nozzle on the hose, but as with chalk art, we’ll do it different next time.

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An Egg-ceptional Arrangement

Years ago, when we were newly engaged and living in our condo, I was feeling a bit nostalgic and decided to make our very own Easter egg tree – similar to the one I had growing up.  I bought ribbons, hot glue and paints and made a day of it at our kitchen table.  Some were hand-painted, some were just dyed and decorated with ribbon.  I thought they turned out lovely and I felt quite proud of displaying this little tradition in my very own home.  They decorated our dining room table during the Easter season for the next couple years, then…mysteriously, the eggs disappeared.  I have no idea where they went, if they got tossed in the move to our house, or if they are tucked away in the abyss known as our attic.  Given the time and energy it took to complete those eggs, I tried other, less taxing ideas like the yarn eggs a couple years ago, but nothing came close to replacing those originals.

Now, with a creative 4.5 year old in tow, I thought this year might just be the year to reinvent this project.  I mean, the only thing better than the original is the original with an added preschool pizzazz.

_DSC3820Breaking out the original paints (just added water to “freshen” them up a bit), the hot glue gun, ribbons, coloring kit and flower stick-ons courtesy of Gigi’s Christmas craft box, we were ready to get to work.

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STEP 1: I poked and blew out the eggs, drying them off thoroughly with a paper towel.
STEP 2:  D helped dye the eggs with the egg dying kit bought at the grocery.
STEP 3: Once dried, we hand painted the eggs (given their fragility, not one was broken in the process – amazing!).
STEP 4: Once dried, we picked out the flowers and ribbon to be glued on each one; I handled all the gluing (for obvious reasons) and ribbon selection.

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We made quite a team and I loved seeing the excitement on her face when she got to hang the eggs on the tree – a look of well-deserved pride, most certainly.  And I love having this display back again in our home.

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Handmade Valentine’s Soap

_DSC3629I had no idea how easy it is to make homemade soap until I read a great post over at Gluesticks. I decided to give it a go and make heart shaped soaps for my daughter’s pre-K class Valentine’s party.  The most difficult part for me was choosing the fragrance because it had to work for the young noses of both boys and girls.  After all, I was going against the lollipop grain and having her give out hand soap…yep, I’m that mom.

After some serious sniff-testing, my daughter and I went with the orange and jasmine fragrances.  One of my favorite smells here in Arizona is the orange blossom tree in the spring time – clean, sweet and pure heaven – so that was our inspiration for this project.

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The first batch we made included the two fragrances, poppy seeds for an exfoliant and orange rind for an extra natural scent.  However, I thought it was a little much for 4-year-olds so we wrapped them up and gave those to her teachers and took it down a notch for the kiddos.  The girls received the orange jasmine soap with pink soap colorant swirled on one side with a tooth pick and the boys received the same but with green colorant.  The soaps were packaged in Valentine’s bags with a tag that says (idea came from here):

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Hands
kind hand
helping hands
CLEAN HANDS
caring hands
working hands
sharing hands
giving hands

As a reference, we made 23 bars of soaps total.  Here’s what you need for that quantity:

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Soap Base

You can find 2 lb. blocks of melt and pour soap base at craft stores like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. There are several types to choose from. For this project I used 4 lbs. of goat’s milk glycerine soap base.
Scents
Jasmine and Orange essential oils. I purchased the Jasmine oil at Sprouts and the Orange oil at Michael’s.
Coloring
As stated above, I used pink and green soap colorant and swirled it into the soap immediately after it was poured into the mold (note: soap begins to harden quickly once poured).
Add-Ins
The zest of 1 orange and 1 Tbsp poppy seeds for the teacher soaps (made 5 soaps total)

Supplies
Soap mold
I purchased my silicon mold on Amazon for $6.50, but you can find them at craft stores as well. Silicon molds are the easiest to use as the soaps just pop right out without any non-stick spray.
Glass measuring cup
Measuring spoons
Small spatula or large popsicle sticks
Baking Sheet

Cut your soap base into small cubes. I worked with 1 lb. at the time (half the block). Fill a glass measuring cup and microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until completely melted.  As a reference, 1 lb. of base filled 6 heart cups about 1/2-3/4 way full.
Add your scent a few drops at a time until your reach the desired potency.
Add your coloring and any add-ins.
Place soap mold on a baking sheet for easy transporting.
Pour soap into molds. Once you’ve poured your soap there may be some air bubbles – lightly spray with rubbing alcohol to remove them.
Let stand for 1 hour until completely set.   Carefully pop out of the mold.
Happy hand washing!

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A Fairy Garden

I’ve been excited to share with you the latest project T has been working on, and just recently finished, for a little 4 year old and her creative imagination.  The project was inspired by my mother-in-law who created the first oasis in her back garden to attract not only the mystical creatures, but the imaginations of her two granddaughters.

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It was hit with both girls and an opportunity for T to put his inherited creativity to work.  And so the concepting and multiple visits to Lowe’s and Home Depot ensued.  Using existing materials such as terra cotta pots and PVC pipes, T fashioned a beautiful garden with a fancy water feature.

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My mother-in-law is convinced we are conspiring to relocate some of the fairies, but in truth, it wouldn’t be the awesome garden it is without her handcrafted fairy furniture, stones, mirrors, plants, “pixie dust” and overall amazing idea.

D goes out every morning to see if the fairies visited overnight – the only evidence being pixie dust and rearranged furniture.  Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s fun for everyone in this house to see what the morning will bring.

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A Big Girl Bed

When we were kids, my sister and I would go off to church camp every summer for one week.  While we were making memories, my parents would pick a year to transition our rooms to “big girl” rooms.  Since my sister and I are five years apart, they happened at different times, and we didn’t know when it would happen.  We would just pick out the colors and bedspread at some point and they would do the rest.  What a great feeling to come home to – a new little space of our own.

That’s what happened yesterday for my daughter.  D and I went for a week to visit my parents in Washington (photos to come) and when we came home, her little space was transformed into a little girls room.  Thanks to my amazing husband and daddy, she got a new bed AND a pink room.

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The bed was handcrafted by T.  We knew about it and knew what it was going to look like, but he spent the entire week finishing it, painting it and installing it.  I have to say, it is one strong and durable bed.  He added a rack below to hold baskets that were previously taking up precious floor space.  I’m still amazed at how he can picture something in his head, draft the measurements and build it – especially something he’s never built before.  It turned out great, D loves it and it will remain a special piece of furniture for her.  Here are photos of the progress (into the wee hours of the night) and the finished product – sleeping girl and all…

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