Friday, November 20, 2009

Shop Swap & Blog Partner: KeriAnne of Crafted by Design

Several months ago, I signed up the Shop Swap & Blog event, where bloggers with online stores traded wares and wrote up posts about the fantastic things they received from each other. I have to apologize to my partners for not writing up their posts sooner!

The first of my partners is KeriAnne, a mother of five who runs her business, Crafted By Design, with the help of her husband and kids. They make and sell lots of different crafts through their Etsy shop, including baby and toddler headbands, notebooks, crocheted caps, children's aprons, lovely jewelry, baby slings, homemade holiday cards, and turned wood pen and pencil sets!

I was lucky enough to get not one, but two amazing items from KeriAnne. The first is an adorable hot pink and black crocheted cap that actually fits both of my daughters. It is made of the softest yarn; I wish I had one in my size!

The second is a fantastic little black, hot pink, and silver clutch for mama! It is made from the same beautiful, soft yarn that the cap is made of, but it also had some silver running through it. So cute!

KeriAnne also has a blog--also called Crafted by Design--where she hosts give-aways and features items and shops that she loves.

Thanks for the goodies KeriAnne!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sugared Pears

I was inspired by this project from Martha Stewart to make some faux sugared pears for my Brown Paper Package Exchange partner to display in her home during the holidays. They turned out stunning (I wish the pictures did them justice) and were fairly easy to make, but dear Martha doesn't give many directions for how to make them. So here are some tips to make this quick project even easier.
  • I used Elmer's Gel Glue because I read on some website that it works well with glitter. I wouldn't recommend it! Just use regular old white Elmer's or any white craft glue that dries clear. And water is down just a smidge to make it go on smoother.
  • Don't use a cheap brush. It might seem like a waste to use a nice paint brush on glue and fake pears, but it's better than picking stray bristles out of the wet glue once you start.
  • Get all of your materials ready before you start. Once you start on a pear, it is pretty hard to set it down without getting glitter everywhere, and you might never again be able to get a good grip on your fruit!
  • I tied some kitchen twine to the stem of each pear before I started, then used the twine to hang the finished pears from the shower rod in my downstairs bathroom while they dried. When they were dry, I just untied them from the shower rod and took the twine off the stems.
  • After much experimentation, I found that working from the bottom up gives the best results. Get a really good grip on the top third of the pear, then glue and glitter as much of it as you can without moving your hand. Then hold the pear by the stem to finish the top part.
  • Sprinkling the glitter with a spoon looks nice. So does gently pressing the gluey pear into the glitter.
  • Put your glue and glitter into disposable paper bowls. When you're finished, you can just throw away the bowl with the glue in it. And you can gently fold the glitter bowl in half and easily pour the leftover glitter back into the bottle.
  • Touch-ups don't look right, so just do it right the first time!
  • Do spray the dry, finished pears with polyurethane spray.
  • The directions for making the ombre glittered bells on the cover of this December's MSL are wonderful. Take a look at them.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Easy Patchwork Scarf Tutorial

Someone special will be getting this lovely patchwork scarf in the mail soon! I was lying in bed one night having a hard time coming up with something to make for my partner for the Brown Paper Package Exchange. I had thought of and said no to a million different ideas, when finally something hit me like a thunderbolt. A patchwork scarf. I wanted to keep it simple and chic, so I avoided really cutesy prints, insanely bright colors, and an overabundance of fabrics stitched together. A few strips of fabric here, some taupe flannel there, and boom! A lovely, cozy, handmade scarf. If you'd like to make one too, keep reading!

Easy Patchwork Scarf
This scarf is a great way to use up scraps!

  • background fabric, cut into the following pieces: two 4 x 6.5" pieces; four 2 x 6.5" pieces; three 12 x 6.5" pieces
  • six strips of accent fabric in coordinating colors, each cut to 3 x 6.5"
  • flannel for the back, measuring 63 x 6.5" total (I bought 1/2 yard of flannel and pieced together two 31.5 x 6.5" pieces.)
  • thread
  • sewing machine

  • Lay out your fabric strips in the following order from left to right: 4" background, 3" accent, 2" background, 3" accent, 2" background, 3" accent, 12" background, 12" background, 12" background, 3" accent, 2" background, 3" accent, 2" background, 3" accent, 4" background. When you are done laying out the pieces, it will look like a long, skinny 70 x 6.5" rectangle.
  • Sew the pieces together in the order in which you've laid them out. Use 1/4" seams.
  • Once all of the pieces of the top are sewn together, flip it over and press your seams open.
  • Piece together the flannel for the back of the scarf using the same method as you used for the top. Press the seams open.
  • With the right sides together, pin the two sides of your scarf together so that all of the edges line up.
  • Using a 1/4" seam, sew the two sides of your scarf together. Leave about 4 inches open so that you can turn your scarf right-side-out.
  • Trim the corners and turn your scarf right-side-out. Use a knitting needle or other pointy object to make sure the corners are nice right angles.
  • Press your scarf. Make sure both fabrics are folded in at the opening.
  • Starting with the area you left open, top-stitch around the entire perimeter of the scarf fairly close to the edge. Mine is about 1/8".
  • Done!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Monstrously Fun Party!

A few months ago, I asked Addie what kind of birthday party she wanted this year, and she decided on a monster party. Addie's birthday is pretty close to Halloween, which would make that perfect for a monster party, except that her birthday is after Halloween. So, we tried to make our monster party very un-Halloweeny. Purples and greens, no ghosts or pumpkins, no spooky music. Just good old fashioned monster fun!

I made these invitations using my free trial of Adobe Illustrator, so I basically had no idea what I was doing! But I think they turned out pretty cute.

We danced to The Monster Mash and Purple People Eater. Addie is really into break dancing lately; she does great floor work!

I made coloring books for each of the kids by scanning all of the non-Halloween pictures in a $2 Halloween coloring book, and then printing them two-per-page and stapling the pages together. This kept them busy for a surprisingly long time!

After a dinner of pizza, salad, and green soda, we sang Happy Birthday to the birthday girl and ate the lovely purple and green monster cake.

Since this party was less than one week after Halloween, I didn't want to give bags full of candy to the guests as favors. And if the other children are anything like mine, they already have more cheap, tiny, throw-away toys than they need! Instead, I made them all monster t-shirts! And there were only 6 kids total, so it was easy and inexpensive.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Preschool Ocean Lesson

Last fall, when we started our co-op preschool, one of my first lessons was on the ocean. Unfortunately, it is the only lesson I didn't type up a lesson plan for, so I can't tell you every detail of our day like I can with other lessons. However, here's some of what we did:

Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef by Marianne Berkes (the artwork is seriously amazing!)

One Nighttime Sea by Deborah Lee Rose (more incredible artwork)

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

Octopus Oyster Hermit Crab Snail by Sara Anderson

Coloring Page
I couldn't find a coloring page I liked that was ocean-themed, so I drew one myself. That's why all the sea creatures have smiley faces! To view as a pdf, just click on the image or the label below and it will open in Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Ocean Coloring Page

Balloon Octopi from Kids Craft Weekly: involves stringing beads, cereal, or little bits of straws on long pieces of yarn, which a preschooler will do for hours!

Stuffed Construction Paper Fish: Fold a piece of construction paper in half. I let the kids choose what color they wanted. With the paper folded, cut out a basic fish shape; you should end up with two matching fish. Let the kids decorate their fish (both pieces) with glitter glue, crayons, paint, markers, stickers, etc. When they are done decorating, staple both pieces of paper together, staying close to the edge, and going all the way around the fish except for a gap large enough for a little hand to fit through. Let the children stuff their fish with fiber-fill or cotton balls, then staple the fish shut. Be sure to attach a google eye to each side of the fish.

Fishing Poles: Make fishing poles out of bamboo garden stakes (or sticks or dowels or whatever you have that will work for a pole) and string. Attach a magnet to the loose end of the string. I did this by cutting two pieces of adhesive magnetic strip to the same size and sandwiching the string between the sticky backs. Make small fish out of construction paper. Attach a paperclip to each fish. Let the kids fish! I made our fish different colors, and everybody had to try to get whatever color I called out, but there are a million different things you could do. Think of the fish as flash cards; you can do shapes, colors, ocean animals, etc.

One, two, three, four, five,
Once I caught a fish alive.
Six, seven, eight, nine, ten,
Then I let it go again.
Why did you let it go?
Because it bit my finger so.
Which finger did it bite?
This little finger on the right.

The Fishy Pokey from Everything Preschool
You put your right fin in, you put your right fin out,
You put your right fin in, and you shake it all about.
You do the fishy pokey and you turn yourself around.
That's what it's all about!
You get the idea. We just made things up, like "fishy lips" and "fishy eyes".