I'm so please with how this year's Valentine's Day cards turned out. Best of all so is the Chickpea and she is really looking forward to giving them out to all of her buddies tomorrow. She had such a good time making them and they kept her busy for nearly an hour of fun filled yet focused time. These cards are brilliantly easy because we found 4" cardstock hearts that had a peel off sticky side. Add pre-cut squares of tissue paper and you get pretty little mosaic hearts. I then stamped them with a few little words on front. On the back she wrote her friend's names and we attached a little heart shaped notepad.
I don't think I've ever written about one of our favorite kid's crafting books, Every Day is a Holiday by Heidi Kenney of My Paper Crane. The Chickpea and I like to just sit down and flip through the pages for inspiration and a few giggles. There are some really adorable projects in here, conveniently organized by month if you're looking for a now project or planning ahead. Above is a star decoration we made for her room with tissue paper balls based on the hat project on the cover.
Are there any kid crafting books or sites in particular that you love?
We gave each of the Chickpea's teachers a little homemade holiday gift this year. We made vanilla extract a few months back and then made some vanilla sugar - general recipe here. I also stopped by Miette, one of our favorite bakeries, and picked up little packages of walnut shortbread cookies. We bundled everything up in these sweet muslin bags that we stamped and punched out little tags with a message for each teacher.
While they aren't strictly made by the kiddo she helped in every part of the process and they were made over many days of crafting. It really helped to spread things out over several days.
We packed up a few more of these for friends. We'll be making another batch of this killer fudge from Martha. I made some for a Christmas party and I'm totally adicted to this easy confection.
Despite my lack of posting we've actually had a lot of crafting going on here. With a 17 month old cruzing around the house this year we only put up the non-breakable ornament on the tree. While the little distructor was napping her sister and I made ornaments with salt dough. It was a first for me and the results were really satisfying.
We rolled out several batches to cut up. More than I was really expecting.
After they were baked we painted them with our new glitter paint. Who doesn't like glitter on a tree. I think they are adorable and I'd love to make some garlands out of them next year. There is something satisfying about making decorations that are not meant to be permanent. Try it out, here's the recipe.
1 cup salt
2 cups flour
1 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Mix salt and flour in a bowl. Stir in water and oil little at a time. Next knead with your hands until you get smooth clay like dough.
Roll your dough about 1/4 inch thick and cut out your shapes with cookie cutter. Poke a hole with a wooden skewer for hanging.
Put your shapes onto an a cookie sheet with parchment and bake at 300 degrees for 1-2 hours until hard. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
Once dry paint with water based paints, glue, glitter etc.
I had an idea of doing a large piece of art with the alphabet after doing these small scale watercolor pieces with my daughter's preschool. There are so many beautiful renderings of the alphabet for sale but really it's such an easy concept to do at home. I'm really please with how it turned out and I'm sure we'll enjoy it for a long time. And what I really like is that it's kid art that doesn't really look like kid art.
So here's how we made it. With a pencil I blocked out a grid of roughly 25, 5x4" boxes on a piece of watercolor paper I had. I also made sure the overall piece would fit into an old IKEA matted frame I had sitting in the garage. I used a set of 4" repositionable vinyl letters to set up the letters in the grid, sticking them down really well. I had an old pallet of gouache paint with a nice range of color in it so we just used that. And away me and my daughter painted over every inch of the paper. While I tried to limit the number of colors we were working with for simplicity, she mixed a few new ones and it turned out beautifully.
While I was thinking about thing I could make the Babe for her first birthday I came across this adroable pillow. I just love that you can pick the child's skin tone, hair color and style, eye color and pillow color, even his/her expression. I think I'll need to stash this idea away for the holidays.
I'm just wrapping up the last few details for the Chickpea's 4th birthday party this Saturday. Her actual birthday is tomorrow and she is just beside herself with anticipation, even though I've been trying not to build it up. My how time flies, she's such a big girl now.
She didn't have any requests for her party except chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting (can do little one - Mama always has chocolate covered). So I came across this great etsy shop, Hey YoYo. They have adorable vintage inspired party supplies. I now have an instant and afordable party, vagely circus like. We'll be making popcorn, drinking lemonaid, jumping in a boucy house and perhaps grilling some hot dogs if the sun comes out. I'm a big advocate of grown up food and libations for weary parents at kid parties.
I know we'll have fun but here's hoping for sunshine too!
I'm working on some art projects for the preschool kids as we plan a fundraiser in June. Testing some out with the Chickpea. These initial watercolors turned out really well and were just the right speed for the kiddo. Any other suggestions?
photo by Kukubee
Awhile back I wrote a post on the lack of picture books with strong female characters to read with my own little girl. I'm still wishing there were more out there but here is a list of the ones we have found on our search for books that are about capable, inquisitive, brave, thoughtful, smart, adventurous girls. I truly appreciate books that we can read together that get my daughter asking questions and inspired about opportunities for adventure. What I like even more are the ones that don't try too hard to flip or assert particular gender rolls but just read with ease as a strong story.
Have any suggestions for us, please let me know! Pass this list on to other parents if you like!
Part 1 List
A little gift for one of our littlest friends who is celebrating her 1st birthday next week (sorry to ruin the surprise -- it's going in the mail tomorrow). I can't believe how fast a year can fly by -- I understand why all parents say that now.
This is made with mostly scraps of watercolor paper that have remnants of little splashes of color made by my 3 year old. What a difference thick high quality paper makes to a project. I punched them out and sewed them to a piece of grosgrain ribbon, then placed sparkly little gilded letters on. I think it's sweet and hopefully timeless as fickle little girls go.
I still have a bunch of punched circles left so I'll make a Valentine's Day garland with a little message of love to boot!
There is a great article over at the NY Times about weather to stash or toss children's art: Mom, You're One Tough Art Critic. My nearly 4-year-old daughter isn't that prolific and a fair amount do end up in the recycling but it hasn't been much of an issue for us yet. I edit them and have a stack that I wish a I had dated better. She doesn't seem too tied to them either. I'm sure this will come up more in the coming years but I always like hearing what other poeple's thoughts and solutions are for their child's art. What do you do? I'm of the school that process is more important than final product but you know I'd love some great pieces to treasure!
Check out the other article, Reclaiming Your Refrigerator, for some solutions. I like the Li'l Davinci frames but man, they are expensive and I'm sure it would be easy to tweek some Ikea frames with your own hinges. Some simple twine and clothes pins makes a lovely rotating option too.
I wanted to share the silhoettes of the girls that I made for their Great Grandmother for Christmas this year. (Pardon the terrible photos) I've had these reclaimed wood picture frames for ages but I haven't ever had the right image to put in them. So I took pictures of the girls that were backlit for ease,removed the background and filled their profile with black in Photoshop, added their names and birthdates, then printed them out on a handmade paper. I'm really pleased with how they turned out and they will look perfect once I find the time to hang them. The baby looks a bit like a blob (a cute one at that) but what a sweet treasure for them if I do these every Christmas and they can see how they grow and change. Grandma loved them and wants to frame them in swirly gold like the ones she has hanging of relatives long ago.
It's hard to find baseball hats for little girls. Especially ones that aren't blazen with logos. I'm always on the look out. I scored this cute one at the thrift store for littel Apple, for $4 from Flipsade Hats. Besides cute, it's reversable which is excellent in my book. I've always been daunted by making hats but I totally think I could do it after seeing this one. And it uses such little fabric it would be a great way to use up scraps.
Her big sister is sporting this one from San Diego Hat Co. this winter.
I saw these adorable photo print pillows a while back, and filed them in my "that-would-be-a-good-project" mental notebook. So the other day I snapped a photo of the cat, tweaked the color in PhotoShop, printed it out on photo transfer paper and ironed it on, then sewed it to a piece of flanel and stuffed him up like a nice little pillow. I think it's totally cute and completely less maintnenace than the real thing. Now I've just got to get a shot of the other cat while she's not hiding in the closet or running away from a child. The Chickpea is going to love finding this under the tree. They'd make great gifts for chidren's birthdays etc. I've even seen them as dolls made up from photos of family members.
A while back I saw a beautiful simple bird image posted on someone's blog (wish I could remember where). When I read about it I was happy to find that it was a collaboration between her (pen) and her young son (watercolor). A great idea to explore.
When Chickpea ventures into making art I try to stand back and let her do her thing. But she often wants me to play too and I try my best not to influence her art making or make her question herself in any way. Children are more interested in the process rather than the final product, as they should be. As an adult and one schooled at a fine art college, I'm more often interested in the final product. Gee, what would this look like framed on a wall? I need remind myself to stand back and just reflect on the making part - there are no failures just successes.
So I try to surprise her every once and a while with a new art project. The other day I pulled out some vintage accounting journals I had stashed away, pencils, paint and apples from the garden. The bottoms of our paint pots were looking muddy from all the mixing but it was a pretty color pallet. We took turns stamping the cut apples and drawing on them when they were dry.
And yes, I'm happy with the results. It makes me want to get out a big canvas and let her have a go at it. I think the key (like most things) is editing and limiting ourselves to a few art supplies to have the most fun.
Have you seen this new fabric play food from IKEA? We just picked some up the other day and I think they are totally adorable. The bacon cracks me up. I like the wooden food we have but the paint has been chipping and that doesn't make me too happy. Plus adding more variety to our wooden set is frankly too expensive. These are easy to stack with velcro, more portable and they don't make a crashing noise when the basket is dropped.
I've been wanting to make little memento boxes for the girls for a long time. These are simply a quick fix of stickers from Michael's. Little piles of letters, drawings, ultrasounds, hospital bracelets have collected around the house and I don't want to loose track of them. I figure these will make a good resting place and they can browse through them like little treasure chests when they get older. Perhaps they will fill up sooner than I think but I'll try to just keep the good stuff.
Any other suggestions for good kids music that adults can listen to with out going crazy? This one seems pretty cool. I have a pretty good Pandora mix that we play at the house when Mom and kiddos are home. When it's on it reminds me that music always creates a mood and it can help us bounce with a little more energy and playfulness. We're gearing up for an 8 hour car trip and I want to have some good tunes and books to listen to.I'm sure there are some real winners I don't know about.
I had no idea how popular the idea of bento lunch boxes are. I'm really not a fan of packing lunches but this raises the bar and looks like more fun for Mom & Dad. Ah, I smell a creative challenge. She has some serious inspiration here.
I totally want to give these a try. Probably more trouble than they are worth. I'm sensing a trip to Japan town for goodies...
I wanted to make my girls something to mark the point when they became sisters and to also give them both something special to snuggle made especially for them by Mommy. I looked at a bunch of patterns some of which I love below and decided to settle on a kitty pattern that I already had from this book (which is excellent in every way). I could have spent more time deciding on a pattern than actually sewing it! I tried using linen for the first time because it is so durable and classic. It was difficult to work with but I think it looks very sweet and highlights the details.
Chickpea's has rhinestone button eyes from an Anthropology sweater that I finally admitted I'd never wear again. I can sew some on Apple's kitty once she is old enough. Overall I'm happy with them. We'll see how well they are received or if they end up in the bottom of the stuffie basket. But I'm hoping they hold on to them for a long time.
Chickpea has been asking to make dog shaped cookies for weeks and weeks now. I'm not quite sure how she got that idea in her head but it was finally time to indulge it. Here is the recipe that I adapted in my usual quest to get a little nutrition into treats. I put half of this dough in the freezer for another rainy day and it made plenty. They were pretty yummy.Almond Sugar Cookies
Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg, baking powder, almond and vanilla extracts until combined. Stir in almond meal and flours until smooth. Divide and wrap dough in parchment and put in the fridge until cool and firm. Roll out on well floured board to 1/4 inch and cut with shapes. Bake on an ungreased sheet for 6-9 minutes at 350 degrees.
Cupcake kits via Meri Meri. These are such an easy and affordable ($12) way to build a little theme around a party without being over the top, plus the kids are going to love them. I adore the birds but Chickpea wants the kitties. There is also a pretty template for cupcake flags you can make yourself over at lovely designs.
Sidewalk chalk party favors via Mighty Girl. So brilliant, so affordable. I just bought a giant box at Target for $4. I'm mindful of not giving other kids crap that I wouldn't want in my house. Other ideas are play dough, bubbles, balls, seeds with pots, organic treats, art supplies, stickers....
Collaged birds on a stick via lovely designs. I love the idea of having a craft project for the kids to play with during a party, particularly when the weather can be unpredictable. These are so cute and again so easy, affordable and definitely special memento. I'm going to work something out here with my art supplies on hand, maybe paper kitties?
Crown tutorial via Curly Pops. I think I'm going to have to make a birthday crown like one of these that we can use over and over. there are a lot of tutorials on this and lots available at etsy. Maybe I'll use the same fabrics from the birthday bunting I made her last year which will also come out.
More fun ideas over at Martha Stewart for both indoor and outdoor kid parties. Ah, no licensed characters... thank you very much. I like the ideas over at Cookie Magazine too but they seem better for older kids. There is a darling flower themed birthday over at inchmark for all those spring girls. And the camellia pinata she re-made from a soccer ball pinata is very beautiful and resourceful.
Just the other day I made one of these hooded towels for Chickpea. It
was super easy with 2 towels from Target plus a scrap of flannel. She
loves it and she'll be able to use it for quite awhile. I think it will
be my go to present for birthdays and such. The possible variations are endless.
What to do when you're in self imposed exile from childcare because of Slap Cheek during pregnancy? Why useless pick-me-up, guilt free shopping of course. I snagged this bag in a brand new Spring design from Orla minutes after I spotted it in the shop window. I'm saying I can justify it because I know it is such high quality it will last a lifetime. Plus, dang it is so cute and we're all allowed an impulse buy! I'm still kicking myself for not picking up the pieces she designed for Target a little while back.
Chickpea was head over heals picking out this Calico Critters set from the toy store. Frankly she hates the wooden dolls that came with her doll house and prefers these little animal families. I can't blame her, the wood ones are a little scary. She kept saying "Thank you Mommy. I'm so happy." and went down for nap clutching her baby kittens and their little plastic potty. (Thanks for the tip Nicole) Our lives are so full of generous hand-me-downs it's nice to remember what it's like to pick out something new you really want just for yourself.
A trip to the nursery for spring plants and a yummy lunch of Thai food with the hubby near campus made for a good day too.
I'm working on my snack repertoire for Chickpea. Seriously, this girl is growing... Every other minute for the last month she's saying either "I'm hungry" or "I'm tired". By 9am this morning she had eaten: a bowl of Cheerios with milk, half an English muffin, a glass of green juice, half a banana, a full graham cracker and half a yogurt. I don't think I could even do that if I tried. And afternoon snacks are serious around here. When I picked her up from school the other day she ate a bowl of cottage cheese, fruit leather and a whole carrot all at once. Did I mention she's not even 3? This appetite reminds me that satisfying hunger is an opportunity to fulfill nutrients, explore food diversity and broaden her pallet. And we're lucky we have a fairly adventurous eater here who is only turned off by potatoes and spicy food. I realize some kids have difficulty try things beyond toast, mac n' cheese and taquitos despite having food loving and happily cooking parents. They grow and tastes change, I know mine do. But food is about exploring, savoring, sharing and keeping our bodies healthy. It's a long journey to nurture and cultivate that sensibility within a child, perhaps one snack at a time.
Here's a little more food for thought...
When you've been puked on by your child before 7am you know you're in for a day of patience, compassion and just plain rolling with it. I found out late this evening that there were 5 kids out of her preschool with the stomach flu - poor kiddos. They were so looking forward to their V-day celebrations.
Inspired by the orange heart garland we bought at the art supply store yesterday, Chickpea and I set off to make some Valentine's Day decor (above) - that and veg out with some Pedialyte and Curious George.
We started out with plain old construction paper but then I though we should dig into some special papers I had stashed away for my collages. And the results were beautiful and so much more fun than I had expected. Here's to a better day tomorrow.
I've been meaning to do this crayon craft project with the Chickpea ever since I first read about it on Craft Apple. We inherited a bag of old broken crayons that still have good life but are a little ratty. Plus I think larger sized object fit differently in small hands and lend themselves to different explorations. So we gave them a try today on another rain filled day.
But we had fun and they turned out well. We're ready to bust out the paper and play with our new inventions now. I think if I do these again I might try using fewer colors and melting them in the microwave and pouring them into fun candy molds as was suggested on another site. But really the possibilities are endless - maybe we'll try soap next?
I just picked up this book with more classic crafting ideas for Chickpea and me after our pine cone fun. I like the fact that most projects in this book can be made from things that you'll find around the house or minimal items that can be purchased easily and don't need to be stored. They aren't overly complicated and don't need a whole lot of instruction or detail work that can often make kids feel frustrated or inadequate. I also like that is organized by season so we can welcome each one - or just save them for a rainy day. Some of the ideas are really basic and familiar but it's nice to have them all at your fingertips in one place.
Here are a few I'm eager to try:
We were in need of some thank you notes and I got the idea for these color your own cards over here. I found some black and white illustrations and threw them into PhotoShop and added the text for both thank you and happy birthday so we'd have some in hand. I printed them on card stock and the file is saved so we can print more or adjust the text later. On the back is my daughter's name and a space to write in her age. She has had a great time drawing on them but with so many people to thank we're doing them in small batches when the mood suits her. There is another similar idea over here for slightly older kids. I bet you could even make a gift set with pretty envelopes and a new set of crayons for another child. I'll definitely have to try that for an easy birthday gift.
Next up: Pizza Dough, and Chicken Tortilla Soup