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Posted by on Dec 3, 2012 | 4 comments

Handmade Advent Calendars to Use Year After Year

Handmade Advent Calendars to Use Year After Year

Every year, I think I’d like to make an advent calendar to use year after year. I finally did, but just under the wire. I finished it Friday night, the last day of November. Katie got in on the action too and made one to hang on Saturday, the first day on the countdown to Christmas. Katie’s Upcycled Advent Calendar The goal for my Advent calendar was to use supplies I had on hand and spend as little money as possible. My inspiration came from pinterest using clothespins and small packages made out of paper. I had to buy the clothespins, but that was okay because I can find other uses for them after Advent. I wanted to secure the clothespins to a board, but I didn’t have a piece of scrap wood the right size, so I opted to use an empty picture frame and some string. To secure the string to the frame, I purchased 6 picture framing hooks from the hardware store for $.37/each. I followed an origami tutorial to...

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Posted by on Nov 16, 2012 | 0 comments

DIY Kids: Creating a Paint-by-Number Art Wall

DIY Kids: Creating a Paint-by-Number Art Wall

I couldn’t help but imagine a painting within the perfect frame on the girls’ bedroom door. So, I decided to make a paint-by-number design that they would enjoy doing themselves. Since their shared room has a lot of bird accents, I looked for some bird illustrations as inspiration, settling on the amazing artwork of Charley Harper. I’m pretty good at free-hand copying and his images are often made up of simple shapes, so I drew two birds on plain paper in pencil to start. I made them the exact size I would end up drawing on the door. Then, I decided on the colors and wrote a key with numbers for each color. I wrote the numbers in each section of the design, and voila, I had two paint-by-number pictures ready to go. I then painted the background of the door with white mixed with a blue sample paint I still had – the famous Benjamin Moore Laguna Blue that Katie used in her living room (to much acclaim,...

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Posted by on Sep 27, 2012 | 0 comments

DIY Kids: A Tree and Neighborhood Walk Journal

DIY Kids: A Tree and Neighborhood Walk Journal

When Ana was about four, I let her use my digital camera on a walk around the neighborhood with me and with her sister in the carrier. I loved seeing Ana’s perspective on the world through photography, and it was fun strolling together and talking about things like the trees, the houses, and our neighbor’s pets. This fall, I decided to do the same activity with Nadja, also age 4, and also make a journal to go along. We moseyed around the block while she paused and took photos of things she saw on the ground, on the sides of trees, in gardens, and the neighbor’s driveways. Another morning, she brought along a container and collected all kinds of objects along the way to school, including tree bark and ginkgo leaves. She drew some of the trees we saw after we identified them in a tree guide. She’ll paste those in her journal. We have a lot of sycamore trees in the neighborhood, so she was able to collect...

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Posted by on Aug 23, 2012 | 1 comment

DIY Kids: Decoupaging an IKEA Serving Tray

DIY Kids: Decoupaging an IKEA Serving Tray

It was a rainy Sunday and Ana was pacing around glumly, so I pulled out a project for her that I had thought of a while back. We have the popular IKEA Klack serving tray that’s as plain as can be. And Katie had given Ana this decorative paper with illustrations of resplendent “papillons” that she thought she’d like. We had contemplating decoupaging her dresser with the butterflies, but the IKEA tray seemed a perfect project for her too. It was quick to set up: Pull out the mod podge, some paint brushes and (optionally) a rubber brayer, and scissors. She cut out butterflies. She spread mod podge on the tray and the top of each butterfly, smoothing them down with a few rolls of the rubber brayer. If you don’t have a brayer, you can put one coat of mod podge on, wait for it to dry, and then layer another coat on. That method should prevent the paper from buckling. The thick paper we used didn’t pucker...

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Posted by on Aug 3, 2012 | 0 comments

DIY Kids: Beach Crafts

DIY Kids: Beach Crafts

During our beach vacation every year with family friends, we come prepared to do a few fun craft projects with the kids. Midday when it’s too hot to be outside and the kids are running wild indoors, we take over the dining room table and make some fun beach souvenirs. This year, we made rings, and shell-adorned letters – the first letter in each child’s name. For the first few days, the kids collected shells and the stray piece of beach glass, and then rinsed and dried them. For the rings, my friend Sara from Madison, WI, whose North Carolina beach house we stay in, had bought adjustable ring blanks to fit big and little fingers from an Etsy vendor. She also brought a glue gun and a few trinkets to use as “jewels” along with shells. Sara made a ring for herself with a pretty round shell. Liam made a funky rainbow ring. Ana combined a flat sparkly “gem” with a shell on top. Later we worked on...

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