Archive of ‘paper’ category

Write A Book :: Mini Makers Summer Fun Series

Write A Book! Mini Make's Summer Fun Series |a happy stitch

When my friend Carla from Small + Friendly asked me to join her Mini Maker’s Summer Fun series, she described it as ‘simple projects to combat the inevitable “I’m bored” syndrome’.  I jumped on board and immediately started to think of really elaborate projects that required lots of adult assistance. Yep.  Somehow missing the simple message.  And also forgetting parents want things kids can do on their own, for hours at a time.  After running through lots of very-involved ideas (ooh, what about…dried glue and tie-dye on a t-shirt! Or, windsocks made out of fabric scraps, paint and toilet rolls!).  I decided to run some of these ideas by C, who happened to be sitting happily on the porch writing a book. He looked up when I asked him, “what kind of activity do you think other kids like you want to do so they don’t get bored?” and before I could regale him with my ideas he said, “write books!”  It was so obvious and simple and easy and perfect!  So, this post is brought to you by my ever-astoundingly clever son.  Here is how to write your own story, provide hours of quiet fun, nurture creativity, build writing skills, drawing skills, and inspire a life-long love of books…all without any parent involvement! Can I get a Woot Woot!? (more…)

Backyard Art Camp :: Child-Led Art with Recycled Materials

Nurturing Creativity with Child-Led Art Projects

I am positively thrilled to announce the return of Backyard Art Camp!  Remember Backyard Art Camp from two years ago? The inimitable Jane from Buzzmills and I gathered together a group of bloggers who each created art projects for kids centering around famous artists.  It was SO MUCH FUN! And, we’ve been meaning to do it again.  As the dog days of summer approached we talked about it a little here and a little there. Finally Jane’s brilliant daughter came up with the idea of a Re-useum…that is an art gallery with art made of recycled materials! Genius!  So, in a kind of last minute, thrown-together way….I am happy to present Backyard Art Camp 2015, the Re-useum.  Along with Tara from Girl Like The Sea, Jane and I are spending this week showing off our projects, philosophies and all things recycled art projects for kids.  Be sure to check out Jane’s post from yesterday so you can bask in pure delight…she invited the whole neighborhood over and created a full-on recycled art gallery (a real RE-useum!)

Today, I’m talking about nurturing creativity with child-led art projects.  I feel a little bit silly discussing this, to be honest. I mean, it’s not like I am some expert on this stuff. (more…)

stamped thank you cards

Thank you for helping me grow! | hand-stamped thank you cards

At the beginning of this year, I put aside the sewing machine for a little while and picked up ink, paper and a rubber carving block.  I’d been thinking about how to say thank you in a meaningful way to some of the amazing people in the blogging world that I was feeling honored to have worked with.  Thank you for helping me grow! | hand-stamped thank you cards

I wasn’t sure what direction the whole project was going to go in but I wanted to make something handmade and heart-full.   (more…)

“love”-ly smoothie sippers!

lovely smoothie sippers | easiest way to decorate a straw on valentines day

It is almost Valentines Day!  The boys both had their classroom parties today and came home so excited about all the valentines they got.  All of which means tiny temporary tattoos and glossy pieces of paper are scattered all over every surface (because everything must be looked at in its entirety).  It also means our household has an additional six unsharpened pencils that I will promptly add to our junk drawer, which is mostly full of unsharpened pencils.  I swear pencils are this generations version of double bubble gum from…the supply seems endless as does its popularity as the completely safe gift nobody wants.

Our family, however, has one plan for Valentines day and it’s a big, celebratory breakfast.  We decided on our menu over dinner two nights ago.  The plan is that J will make a fruit salad with only red fruit (strawberries, watermelon, red grapes, etc.), I will make pancakes and my husband and C are making smoothies.  It’s going to be spectacular.  I decided to make some special straws for our smoothies and that is how these “love”ly smoothie sippers came to be.  It’s totally the easiest thing ever but here is how I made them, just in case.  (more…)

monster valentines day cards :: free printables

Guys! It’s my very first ever printable paper project!  Meet the Valentine Monsters!Monster Valentine Printables!

It is here just in time to rescue you from a last-minute rush to the drug store to get school valentines.  (You know they will only have crappy cards left with tired, out-dated boy and girl orientations, anyway. And, if you are experiencing the same kind of icy/slushy/grey winter that we are, you don’t need another trip outside. Forget that!)  Print up these MONSTER VALENTINES and make everybody smile!  (more…)

Happenings at Home

Oh dear. I didn’t expect to be away from this space for over a week but it has been a while, hasn’t it? Thanks for all the kind words about my poison ivy, it has mostly cleared up.

It’s no excuse for my absence but we do have lots of exciting happenings at our house right now. The biggest is that we are heading on vacation to Ireland in a week! We leave the day  after school ends for C. (J is already done with preschool, which is lending itself to a real, true ‘summer’ feeling around here. He and I have already gone for pedicures, which are his favorite thing now.)

My husband’s extended family live in Ireland so we will be visiting lots of family in addition to the regular touristy stuff.  I think we all have that mix of insane excitement and mild trepidation that precedes a big trip.  It’s hard for us parents to get our heads around how our picky eaters will survive when faced with restricted food choices but surely we will be ok.  Right?  That aside, it’s our first international trip as a family of four and what better place to go to than the lush and green Ireland!  It’s going to be a true getaway.

We’ve also gone completely World Cup crazy.  Have you been watching the games? We are living and breathing World Cup 2014.  I’m not even a sports fan and I’m keeping track of who is playing who on every given day with genuine thrill about the whole event.  C & J both have these sticker albums that you fill with stickers of each player on every team, they get a pack of 7 stickers a day for an album with over 600 stickers…the albums fill sloooowly.  But, it’s all the boys want to talk about.  I was getting a little worried that they were too obsessive.  They are literally doing one of three things at any given moment: 1) watching one of the World Cup games, 2) pouring over their World Cup sticker albums and discussing teams or 3) playing soccer in the back yard for hours on end.  They have never slept so hard at the end of the day, their brains and bodies are facing pure exhaustion.  Parents are approaching me at the end of the school day to report their kids are coming home full of analysis of upcoming games, all information gleaned from my sons.  J wandered over to our neighbor’s house at 6:50 this morning to report yesterday’s scores in the USA game. Seriously, it’s obsessive.

I decided to stop worrying about future OCD and bring a little craft to the craziness.  So, on a quiet afternoon this weekend, I pulled some toilet paper rolls and egg crates out of a bin I keep in the basement and I cut out 24 little men in soccer uniforms.  My husband even helped make some of the faces because he is a great dad and great at drawing.  The plan was to make two soccer teams that the boys could decorate.

soccer players made out of TP rolls

We didn’t finish all 24 players but we all sat down together and made some toilet roll men for a good hour or so.  Team jerseys were invented as were referee jerseys and goal keeper colors decided.  The boys got excited about making fans and using the egg cartons as bleachers and, well, the ideas were grand and involved but the interest waned early.

Toilet Paper Roll Soccer Players for the World Cup 2014

And wouldn’t you know, the next afternoon J was building a castle and our soccer men had been reinvented as knights protecting the castle.  Finally! A non-World Cup related activity!  Never would have guessed at that result.

I’m hoping to squeeze in a tiny bit of sewing in between teaching my last class, preparing for vacation, caring for J and everything else that needs doing around here.  I’ve also made lots of clothing lately and hope to find some time to share all of it here before we are off next week. That’s what our summer looks like! Why does it feel like it’s already over? Is there a name for that phenomenon? Over before it started, I guess.

Children’s Book Covers as Art

reflection in the ace hotel

My husband and I recently returned from something unprecedented.  We hopped a train and headed into New York City without the kids for two whole nights.  It was an amazing feat and hadn’t been done in nearly seven years!  We indulged in afternoon beers, scrumptious oysters, explored nooks and crannies in the Lower East Side, ate one amazing meal after another, drank even more amazing drinks and meandered slowly through museums without any frantic, emergency trips to the bathroom or animated games of I Spy.  It was glorious.  (Don’t worry, the kids were with their grandparents and they enjoyed many new delights including their first taste of soda pop and ice cream bars for breakfast.  Thanks Grandma!)

We also visited The Strand bookstore for the first time.  I don’t know what took me so long to explore this incredible place!  If you’ve never been, it is absolutely worth a visit.  Especially if you have an interest in anything because The Strand will have the book about that topic that will blow your mind. Basically, everyone should see this place. (If you follow me on Instagram you already know about my trip and you also know about the wickedly naughty t-shirts at The Strand.)

I meandered over to the children’s section and asked the clerk if they had a books on the book cover art of children’s books.  There is little I love more than picture book art.  The emotions expressed in the drawings and the magic and saturated colors at the heart of children’s books are some of favorites.  I already have one book about book cover art but was hoping to find another.  Wouldn’t you know the clerk found me not one but two books about children’s illustration!  Both out of print and both around $10.  I was floored and so was she, frankly.  She was so excited for me I almost hugged her!

children's book art books

She also suggested I write another book that includes cover art beyond 1960. She was awesome. If she had suggested it, I would have started a collaboration with her.  She was seriously great and a fellow book lover.

My new books are so beautiful and I’ve admired them a whole awful lot since we got back from The City.

cover art book inside

It also reminded me that I never shared an easy, little project I did a while back to spruce up our walls.   Actually the word ‘project’ is a pretty fancy one for what I did, which is basically cut up some of my favorite book jackets and frame them (I know, it’s a little sacrilegious).

book cover framed as art.jpg

First of all, as soon as we get a new picture book in our house, I remove the book jacket and file it away. Sounds kind of silly but the book jackets just get ripped off the book or torn to bits anyway so I started saving them.

It was only natural they end up on the wall at some point.  And, I’m so pleased they did! Easy-peasy, happy wall art.

Book Jacket for children's art framed for the wall

The Valentine’s Day Countdown of Love

valentine's day countdown

Hello February!  It’s time for a countdown to love.

I’ve been sitting on the idea of an advent-like countdown to Valentine’s Day for a while.   The boys love our Christmas advent calendar so much and I love Valentine’s Day so I thought I’d combine the two loves.  I saw something on Pinterest (way back when) that used sewn paper hearts filled with candy as Vday cards.  Of course, the last thing we need around here is more candy.

Instead, I opted for different loving activities;  love the earth by picking up some trash, love a friend by telling them a joke, love the cat by giving her a treat,  love your ears and make up a song, etc.  The activities are really simple and easy to accomplish. I think one of the most involved activities is “love your tummy: make something sweet to eat”.  My intent is not to make life more complicated or hectic but to slip a small something loving into our day.

Ta-da the birth of the Valentine’s Day Countdown of Love!

Of course, I woke up this morning surprised to realize it was actually February 1st.  Seriously, where did January go?  Sheesh.  I quickly made this up this morning.  14 different paper hearts sewn together with love-based activities inside.

love messages for valentine's day countdown

Next, I rolled up and tucked the messages between two pieces of pretty origami paper and used a heart cookie cutter to trace a heart.

valentine's day countdown

valentine's day countdown

I used the traced heart marking as a guide for sewing the hearts together.  I love sewing on paper. Feels like I’m a sewist gone rogue.  So naughty.

valentine's day countdown

I made 13 hearts in regular origami paper and 1 in silver paper.  The boys get to trade off who opens the day’s heart to reveal the day’s activity but the silver heart is saved for the Valentine’s Day itself.

valentine's day countdown

The boys were definitely excited about ripping open the hearts and it took them a long bit of negotiating to decide who got to go first.  (Everything is a learning opportunity, isn’t it?  Even when mama is a little “done” with learning opportunities.)

valentine's day countdown Let the countdown begin!

valentine's day countdown

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