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Monday, November 25th, 2013
It is, quite literally, a once on a lifetime moment (unless scientists finally resolve that whole mortality): Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, two very wonderful events, happening simultaneously. The next time that the first day of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving will be in 79,043 years. So, of course, this confluence has its own name: Thanksgivukkah.
At our house, we’re extra-super excited, because Thanksgiving/Hanukkah Eve, the night we light the first candle, is also my oldest daughter’s seventh birthday. Happiness abounds! Of course, she’s doubly thrilled because of the multiplicity of presents this brings. (Among the things I am thankful for this year: Thanksgiving is not a present-giving holiday.)
How to celebrate? Buzzfeed’s got a mouth-watering Thanksgivukkah menu, for starters, and this Thanksgivukkah Pinterest board can keep you occupied for hours. Here on Parents.com you can find these fun Hanukkah crafts and recipes, and a wealth of activities, crafts, and recipes for Thanksgiving. And don’t miss these Thanksgiving printables.
Personally, the double holiday doesn’t affect my family much–we’ll celebrate both as we always do. But I much prefer the mash-up of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah to the more routine lumping together of Christmas and Hanukkah. Giving thanks–for the miracles in our lives and the freedoms we enjoy–are central themes of Hanukkah, and of course, Thanksgiving. So perhaps the best celebration we can have on this day is to enjoy ourselves and take the message of these holidays seriously by giving thanks for all the blessings in our lives. I know that’s what I will be doing.
Still looking for great holiday-weekend activities? Find great around-the-house crafts.
How to Make a Thanksgiving Centerpiece
Image: candle and pumpkins via Shutterstock
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Monday, November 18th, 2013
DIY crafter Alison Caporimo recently released her first book, Instacraft, about fun and simple projects for adorable gifts and décor. We received permission to showcase four crafts from the book on Goodyblog. Come back each Monday (11/4, 11/11, 11/18, 11/25) to see which creations we feature next.
“Have left over blueberries in the fridge? Let’s make something of them!” Alison says.
3 cups water
1 cup blueberries
1. Pour water into a pot and heat over a high flame until boiling.
2. Stir in blueberries and smash with a spoon or potato masher. Mix well and allow to cool slightly until lukewarm.
3. Dip card stock into dyed water and allow to dry completely before using. (Experiment with dipping times and angles.)
Alison’s extra tips for Parents readers:
- Swap it: Instead of blueberries, try beets, blackberries, tea, or turmeric spice.
- Challenge your kids to count and measure the ingredients before you get started.
- Explore and investigate! The color of your dye is true to what it looks like in the pot, so experiment with your measurements to create different shades.
- To let stationery dry without disturbing the dye, secure the card stock to a wire hanger with clothespins.
For more ideas from Alison Caporimo, follow her on Twitter.
Text adapted from Instacraft, with permission from Ulysses Press. Copyright 2013. All images by Meera Lee Patel.
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Crafts, GoodyBlog, Time for Fun
Tuesday, October 1st, 2013
October is finally here! I wait for this month all year around. Our family’s annual pumpkin-picking trip is approaching, as are our haunted-house and corn-maze trips. We love our traditions. But after years of doing the same things, I wanted to try something new. So I brainstormed and asked around for unique Halloween traditions, and I couldn’t keep these ideas to myself. Here are the top 5 new Halloween traditions that my friends, family, and I have come up with:
1. Pumpkin Painting Party
Gather your crafty kids for an afternoon of pumpkin art. Mini pumpkins are perfect for little hands to paint, and your guests can take them home as favors.
Add a movie: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
2. Witches Brew Party
Give each of your culinary creators a bowl and the following ingredients to choose from:
Black Shoestring Licorice
Watch them create and name their own witches brew.
Add a movie: Matilda
3. Harry Potter Party
Have your guests come dressed as their favorite witch or wizard. Supply the following and help them decorate their own broomstick and wizard hat:
Pencils, Markers, Crayons
Add a movie: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
4. Scare Games
It’s not too cold for the outdoors yet! Get the kids outside for Monsters University inspired Scare Games. Adult referees can dress in costume, and the kids can compete in potato sack races, tug-o-war, and hula hoop contests. Award candy bag prizes to the winners, and end the day at home with a big pot of pumpkin soup.
Add a movie: Monsters Inc., or Monsters University after the October 29th DVD release date.
5. Spooky Sleepover
Get out your pumpkin pajamas for a halloween themed sleepover. Roast pumpkin seeds, make s’mores and swap scary stories deep into the night. Add to the fun with a Halloween craft like this adorable paper owl.
Add a movie: Monster House
For more Halloween ideas visit our 100 Days of Holidays page.
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Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013
Last weekend, I took my daughter, her cousin, and two friends to check out the Crayola Experience in Easton, Pennsylvania, about an hour north of Philadelphia and 90 minutes or so from New York City. Formerly known as The Crayola Factory, the children’s museum-like space closed its doors last winter for a complete makeover. The once-snoozy story about how crayons are made got an animated twist, a two-story play structure was constructed, and the arts and crafts became way cooler.
Our group loved the machines that molded a crayon into a shape—like a heart or a fish—and the ones where crayons are melted and spun to create funky spin-art designs shown in the picture. (For the record, the Crayola Experience supplied the image, but our “non-professional” versions looked almost as good.)
The kids also enjoyed drawing a picture and then turning it into a puzzle, doodling on glow-in-the-dark boards mounted to the wall (I want one for my family room), and personalizing a crayon label. Call me dorky, but I couldn’t resist making Parents Magazine Pink and Goodyblog Green to take home. We ran out of time to do the Coloring Page Photobooth (where kids get an image of themselves to color) and Modeling Madness (featuring Model Magic), but they looked cool.
While my crafting foursome ranged in age from 8 to 11, I think the “sweet spot” for visiting the Crayola Experience is 5 to 9, though kids from age 2 to 12 would certainly enjoy it. After five hours, each of the girls left with a bag stuffed with their creations as well as free crayons and markers. Sound like fun? The Crayola Experience is offering Parents an exclusive discount of $4 off each admission if you buy tickets by August 23, 2013 using this link. With the discount, tickets cost $11.99 for visitors age 2 and up. Kids 1 and under are free. Maybe I’ll see you there. My daughter and her friends are already asking to visit again!
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Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013
I’m a big fan of Martha Stewart and I like to think she’s my crafty kindred spirit. Not only do we both love to bake and make DIY projects, but we’re both also alumnas of Barnard College. When I was offered the opportunity to interview her over the phone about her latest how-to book, “Martha Stewart’s Favorite Crafts for Kids,” I was really excited! I found Martha to be a funny and engaging person — and she spoke openly about some bygone handcrafting skills that are slowly disappearing.
Some of these skills include sewing, knitting, crocheting, embroidering, hemming, measuring hats, setting collars, making the back of shirts, gathering a ruffle, and tatting. Even though I consider myself crafty with other little-known skills like quilling and heat embossing, I could check off only two of the skills she mentioned (sewing and and knitting), but even they’re basic at best (I never mastered a sewing machine). And I had no clue what tatting was (turns out, it’s the process of making lace by hand using loops and knots…not the process of making tattoos). While knitting has seen a revival in the past decade and sites like Etsy.com and Folksy.com show there are communities focused on artisanal products, most handcrafting skills are not commonly used. While I can certainly learn these skills in short-term group classes, they often come with a hefty price tag.
Skills that are fading away can be more than ones related to handcrafting — they can be any specific ones that were once popular or common but have now disappeared (or are in the process of disappearing). An article in the February issue of Parents magazine (“Skills of Tomorrow“) focused on how old-school educational skills (cursive writing, library research, and analog time-telling) are now being replaced by new-school skills (keyboarding, online research, and digital time-telling).
I’m a millennial, which means I’m part of the generation that relies heavily on technology (smartphones, computers, tablets) to communicate and to make life easier (like buying an embroidered pillow rather than making one). As technology keeps changing and expanding and our lifestyles keep getting faster and faster, there is certainly less focus on slowing down and taking time to create and make things with our hands. So all this got me thinking: What other skills are we losing or have we lost? Share with me your thoughts below!
Read More About Martha Stewart on Parents.com:
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Tuesday, March 19th, 2013
I never expected that at age 5, my daughter, Leli would be invited to be a keynote speaker and Young Entrepreneur Honoree at a scholarship luncheon in New York City.
It all started when my parents bought Leli the sewing machine that was on the top of her Christmas list, complete with “fabik” (fabric), her second request, and thread. Just two days after unwrapping it, she made nine pillows with button faces, fancy stitches, and mixed fabrics. Soon after, Leli’s Magical Stitches was born. (She came up with the name herself.)
To tell you the truth, I didn’t want her to have that sewing machine. Small hands, big needle – not the best combination; especially considering the fact that she still hadn’t even learned to tie her shoes. As we watched the instructional DVD together, I was quietly brainstorming strategies to deal with the frustration that I knew the sewing machine would inevitably cause; but after just one watch, Leli sat at that machine and sewed her first pillow.
After a week on the machine, Leli came up with pillow purses – two pillows stitched together on three sides with straps at the opening. Though I always insist on placing the buttons under the needle for safety, Leli doesn’t need my help with any part of the process.
I put pictures of Leli’s pillows on my personal Facebook and Instagram pages, and friends and family asked to buy them. People were sharing her pictures with everyone they knew, and since Christmas, Leli has received 100 pillow orders from friends, family, and a handful of people we’ve never met.
One of my family members shared Leli’s pictures with a member of an organization called The Old Field Planters, Inc., which provides scholarships to students with limited resources who are in pursuit of a college degree. They extended an invitation for Leli to be a Young Entrepreneur Honoree and keynote speaker at their annual scholarship award luncheon this weekend. She’s even been asked to sell her pillows at the event.
I couldn’t resist taking her to the garment district to rack up on fabric after receiving the exciting news. We also picked up three piggie banks, which we labeled “Save,” “Spend,” and “Share.” We plan to divide the money that she earns between the three – the savings for college, the spending for new materials and any treat that she might want, and once the sharing bank fills up, we will donate it to Prevent Child Abuse New York.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that my daughter has identified a passion at such a young age. I remember myself in elementary school telling my fourth grade teacher that I was going to be a journalist when I grew up. My picture in my middle school yearbook is captioned “Amanda Nesbot – wants to be a successful journalist,” and here I am today, a product of the same parents who bought Leli her first sewing machine, writing about her on Parents.com.
It scares me to think that if my parents hadn’t taken a chance and gotten Leli that sewing machine,I may have been the first person to make her doubt her own abilities by refusing to let her try at all. Leli, like all children, is free of the burdens adults carry around as mental roadblocks that inhibit them from dreaming big and pursing those goals. She taught me that my role as her mom is simply to shower her with support, and then sit back and watch her inspire the world.
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Friday, June 22nd, 2012
Crafting’s gone cool. Think beyond twee crocheted potholders and macramé plant hangers. Spurred on by Etsy and Pinterest, the new crop of crafters can seemingly make anything. And now they’ll be put to the test: DIY folks do battle in “Craft Wars,” premiering on TLC on Tuesday, June 26. Each week, three contestants will go scissor-to-scissor in creative challenges, and one will win $10,000. We chatted with host (and mom of 3!) Tori Spelling about the new show, and her advice for crafting with kids—especially her little artists, 5-year-old son Liam and daughters Stella and Hattie (ages 4 and 8 months).
Parents: Why this show, and why now? Do you think that crafting is trending?
Tori Spelling: I’ve been an avid crafter my whole life, but the whole crafting movement has definitely changed. It went from hobby to DIY home when the economy went down. People started to figure out how to redecorate their home or make a fashion statement by crafting everything yourself. It brought a lot of people with many different interests together to create. Creation is passion!
Parents: Are there any craft blogs on your bookmarks list?
TS: I love PSIMadeThis (by Erica Domesek, one of our judges on “Craft Wars”), Curbly, DesignSponge, TipJunkie, and HonestlyWTF. We also show great crafts and DIY craft projects on my website, EdiTORIal.
Parents: What kinds of craft projects do you make with your kids?
TS: We craft weekly as a family. We sit at my kids’ small craft table for hours creating cards, tags, presents, and jewelry, and we paint pottery and canvases. We get glitter everywhere and laugh through the whole thing. So fun!
Parents: How do you store or display your kids’ artwork or craft projects? Any fun alternatives to tacking them up on the fridge?
TS: They each get their own clear art storage box. Then I show off their work in mismatched lacquered frames and make a picture wall of their art projects mixed in with great black-and-white family photos. I also decoupaged a bunch of their artwork on top of a table. Every time we use it, we see their amazing creations.
Parents: Do you have a go-to crafting tool?
TS: Mini glue gun. And twine. I use twine on everything!
Parents: What are some easy craft supplies parents should keep stocked? Is there anything you think that parents should avoid?
TS: We love colored paper, stamps, ink pads, markers, glitter, and jeweled embellishments like stones, rhinestones, and grommets. Glue is messy. Try glue dots, instead!
Parents: Any advice for containing kiddie-craft messes?
TS: Do crafts on layered newspapers. When you’re finished, fold the newspapers and toss them away. Easy clean up!
Parents: Will contestants be crafting any kid-oriented projects on “Craft Wars?”
TS: Yes! They’ll make stuffed-animal pillows and playhouses made out of school supplies.
Parents: What other challenges can we look forward to this season?
TS: A birdhouse from a junk drawer and jewelry made from the wires inside a boom box!
Want to show off your kids’ creations? Download our Pocket Galley iPhone app.
Photos courtesy of TLC.
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Crafts, GoodyBlog, Time for Fun
Friday, May 11th, 2012
Mother’s Day is right around the corner, and if you’re still stuck on what do to for the special mom in your life, look no further than this week’s top pins! Check out our ideas for everything from delicious weekend dishes to sweet and simple gifts you can make with your kids.
Trying to find a way to sneak more vegetables into your children’s meals? The two cups of zucchini in this Blueberry Zucchini Bread make this a healthier alternative to regular muffins or breakfast pastries, and the 20-minute prep time means it’s easy to make ahead and enjoy all week long.
Whether you find an old-school photo booth at the local mall or use some family snapshots, this handmade bookmark is a great gift for the reader in your life. Simply glue the pictures to a piece of card stock and personalize the other side. We used the word “mother” in different languages, but you could try a handwritten note or a favorite memory from the previous year.
Have a complete gourmet lunch at home when you try this Chicken, Mozzarella and Basil Panini with a side of Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Chips. To save time, make the sandwich with leftovers from earlier in the week or pick up a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket. The chips are a great alternative to fried ones, and since they aren’t prepackaged you can season them however you want—we tried a sprinkling of sugar and cinnamon.
Creating custom-made art can be as easy as 1-2-3. First, cut out several equal-sized rectangles and write a single letter on each, making sure they’re easy enough to read in a photo. Next, pose your kids—or yourself!—holding each sign up for the camera. Finally, print out the pictures in black and white and arrange them in a frame so they spell out your message of love.
Any kid will tell you that everything tastes better when it’s on a stick. For this twist on the classic Root-Beer Float, just freeze a layer of soda in plastic molds or cups before topping it with softened vanilla ice cream. For a fancier popsicle, tilt the cups so the soda freezes at an angle before adding the final layer. Hide a maraschino cherry at the bottom for an extra surprise.
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