Archive for the ‘ Must Read ’ Category

Valentine’s Day :: Heart Magnets

Monday, January 14th, 2013

As January progresses and our outside world becomes a icy, crystallized, study in white, I love to begin thinking about the season of bright, cheery colors.  Valentine’s Day is a month away, which means that it might be time to begin to consider how you and your children will send hearts into the world.

In honor of one of my favorite holidays, I’ll post four more Valentine’s Day projects in the coming weeks.  Be sure to stop by and check them out!

Heart Magnets


wooden circles 1″ or 1 1/2″ wide
heart stamp (carving block and carving tool if you plan to carve it yourself)
acrylic paint
hot glue gun

How To:

1. Find a nice heart stamp*.

2.Coat the heart stamp with a thin layer of acrylic paint and stamp the wooden circles.

3. Once the circles are fully dry, glue the magnets on the back with the hot glue gun.

4. Be sure to quickly wash the acrylic paint off the stamp, so it can be used again and again.

*   If you’ve never carved stamps before, and feel inspired to try, this would be a great first carving project. You’ll need a linoleum cutter and some sort of carving block material. My goodness, the heart shape is so simple and small, you could even use some sort of rubber eraser that is laying around the house. Using a pencil, ask child to draw the heart shape on a piece of paper. When she is happy with her shape, turn it face down onto the carving material and scrape/rub it with your fingernail. This will transfer the image onto the carving material. Use your linoleum cutter to carve away the negative space, and the wee heart will be complete.

Happy heart making!

xo emily

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Fun With Clay!

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

At our house, playtime with clay typically amounts to tiny pinch pots, pretend food, and, occasionally,  pretend eggs.   The other day, we added flexible clay molds to the mix, and we couldn’t stop making all sorts of cute little critters and shapes.  My favorite is the fern,  my eight-year-old daughter’s favorite is the butterfly, and my five-year-old opted for the pinch pot standby.

We used white air dry clay and a plastic sculpting tool for cleaning up the designs.  There is something so nice about crisp, white clay!  Our creations have been brightening the center of our table since we made them, and we all agree that they are charming.  You can give them as little love gifts, display them in a dish, or paint them on a rainy day.

These are the molds that we experimented with, but there are plenty of fun sets floating around the internet.  Perhaps, snowflakes will be next on our list?

xo emily

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A Family Art Box for the New Year

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Happy New Year, lovely friends!  I hope that your 2013 will be joyful and sparkly.

Are you entering 2013 with lots of brand new art and craft supplies?  I suggest starting off the new year with a tidy, creative, portable art box with a variety of tools and supplies. This convenient collection will encourage children to write notes, draw, label, doodle, and experiment with colors and shapes.

This is the craft box that lives on our kitchen table.   I tend to clean it out every few months to keep it fresh in hopes that the children feel they can count on finding what they need for their everyday creative pursuits.   Sometimes I find it in another part of the house (in front of the wood stove is a favorite spot!) and we do move it when we have dinner guests, but most often it is reliably right there next to our stack of cloth napkins. I often use it to write grocery lists and our two little ones write us love notes and draw pictures for friends.

The key to an inspiring craft box is stocking it with a variety of satisfying, multipurpose materials.  The following is a suggested list, which you should absolutely tweak based on your family’s interests.

1. nice quality colored pencils (these will last a long time)

2. colorful art markers

3. 2 thin, black art markers for writing

4. pencils

5. watercolor pencils

6. gel pens (neon and sparkle!)

7. compact scissors

8. glue stick

9. small notebooks

10. blank tags & tickets

11. mini stamp pad with mini stamps

**I purchased the box at Magic Cabin

This sort of thing would also make a creative birthday gift!

Have fun!

xo emily


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Colorful Macaroni Necklaces: Winter Break Fun

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Once you’ve driven all of the miles, eaten lots of pie, watched the candles dance, given beautiful gifts, and hummed all of the familiar tunes, you might take a deep breath and settle down with your family for some quiet fun. If this is the case, this updated version of the traditional macaroni necklace is a lovely family activity for both the very young and the very old (and everyone in between). You can all talk about how far macaroni necklaces have come while sipping hot chocolate and munching on popcorn. Consider inviting your children to help you dye the macaroni; it will make them even more excited to string them up later on.

You will need:
macaroni in interesting shapes
food dye
rubbing alcohol
paper towels
baking sheets
plastic bags (optional)

How to dye the pasta:

1. In a bowl, mix a 1/2 cup (approximately) of rubbing alcohol with some food dye. Stir.
2. Dump a bunch of macaroni into the bowl. Stir until fully coated. If you want to make the process a bit easier, use a plastic bag instead of the bowl and shake and mush with your hands. It will help distribute the dye. And, hey, children love smushing and mushing!
3. Cover the baking sheets with one layer of paper towel. Use a spoon to lay the dyed pasta onto the baking sheet. Let dry overnight.

1. Cut the yarn into 18″ pieces (approximate).
2. Tie a bead onto the end as an anchor, which will prevent the macaroni from slipping off the end.

3. Tape the ends of the strings, which will make it easier for little hands to thread the yarn through the macaroni beads.
4. Present the prepared string and bowls of colorful macaroni to a bunch of children and watch them create.

5. Make your own.

(This is one I made two years ago)

Happy family gathering to all!

xo emily


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Sparkle Star Garland

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

This simple star garland will make your home quietly sparkle. It is easy to make and can be saved and hung year after year. Children can help paint, cut, and thread (wear a thimble!), and they’ll feel extra proud to be a part of making the house fancy for the holidays. For me, the combination of package paper and gold glitter paint produces nice, subdued, DIY cheer.

Brown paper bag
Gold or silver glitter paint (I used FolkArt Extreme Glitter)
Star template (hand-drawn is fine)
Mini pompoms

1. Cut open the paper bag and paint the plain side with the glitter. For this garland, I used paint that is just gold glitter rather than paint that was an actual gold color with glitter. This makes the stars a bit more subtle. If you are looking for something a bit more punchy, then I think gold paint with a coating of glitter paint would be great. I was inspired by my friend Catherine’s garland, and she used gold paint.

2. Once it is dry, draw stars on the non-painted side, and then cut them out.

3. Gather pompoms, stars, thread and needle in preparation for stringing.

4. Thread the needle with thread (no need for a knot). First thread a pompom, then a star, then another pompom…in that order until all are threaded and you’ve ended with a pompom.
*Notes on threading the stars:  So they won’t flip forward, thread a little bit above the center of the star. Place the needle into the front of the star and then out through the back in order to hide the thread behind the star.

5.  Spread the garland on the floor, glitter side down, and space the stars and pompoms as you’d like them to hang. Place tape or little dots of glue on the backsides of the stars to keep the thread in place. Be sure to leave 12 inches on each end for hanging.

We hung ours on the bricks, high over our wood stove. If you hang it near a string of twinkle lights, the gold stars will shimmer in the glow of the twinkles.



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