Archive for the ‘ Crafts ’ Category

Kit Chase’s New Book, Her Etsy Shop and Free Printable Paper Dolls!

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Kit Chase! One of the sweetest Etsy artists ever writes about her new children’s book that Publisher’s Weekly loves and also about her awesome Etsy shop. She even created exclusive paper dolls for all of us to print at home at the end of this post. (See a special offer as well.)

“My husband, Adam, and I own and operate the Etsy shop, Trafalgar’s Square, where we sell my hand-painted designs as prints, wall decals, and, soon-to-be-released greeting cards. Adam does all the operating (printing, packaging, shipping and communication), and I get the fun job of coming up with new designs and illustrations. My work on Etsy caught the attention of both my agent and editor—both of whom reached out to me separately through the site—and ultimately led to my first picture book contract.

Oliver’s Tree is my first picture book (it will be in stores March 20 of this year!). When I first started work on the story idea, we had two little girls with a third baby girl getting ready to join the party. We had just moved from a teeny, cramped apartment into a little house with an enormous yard and a tree. What a tree! With gnarled, low-hanging branches and big, shady leaves, that tree became the children’s favorite friend. As I watched my girls trying to climb it “all by themselfs,” it reminded me of my own childhood of thwarted tree-climbing attempts. Standing on tip-toe at the foot of the tree, hugging the trunk, and waiting expectantly for something magical to happen that would send me high up into the branches.  Or just waiting there with arms stretched, looking expectantly up. And waiting. Or, the inevitable, actual tree-climbing attempt, that ended with me sliding down the rough bark on scraping hands and knees. That tree brought it all back to me. So, when it came time to write a children’s story, it of course had to be about three friends, and what better play-thing for them to have than a tree?

With three little girls all under 7 (and as I write this, yet another baby girl on the way—maybe we should start a water polo team?), and writing and illustrating books, all on top of dreaming up new illustrations for the shop, things have a tendency to range on the side of um…shall we say crazy-fun? Most of the time, it feels like we’re running something like Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Tea Party in Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s upside down house. The wee hours of the morning are my greatest ally. Laundry is my nemesis. I do a lot of brainstorming for my books and illustrations while watching my children play and interact with one another, and I do most of my sketching in the car when we go on family outings. Not exactly a traditional lifestyle, but it’s definitely stimulating. And jolly.     
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past few years, it’s: Save the spotless-house-look for Pinterest and photo shoots. As a parent, you’re in the middle of the biggest creative process of your life, creating and shaping a real, live person and helping them reach their potential. Real life is pretty messy, and as any artist will tell you, creating a work of art is never a pretty sight. But the end result of creating art or children makes the creative chaos so worth it. Besides, you can always tidy up once your little art project is asleep.” readers get an exclusive discount code for 15 percent off entire purchase from   Enter coupon code PARENTS at checkout to receive the discount.  The code expires April 21, 2014.
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Stuck at Home with Kids? Try This Cute Craft from ‘Yellow Owl’s Little Prints’

Monday, December 30th, 2013

As a new mom herself, author Christine Schmidt wrote a beautiful little book called Yellow Owl’s Little Prints: Stamp, Stencil and Print Projects to Make for Kids. She believes everyone should be able to create cute crafts.

Doing fun little projects is especially important and rewarding when you’re stuck home with the kids. (You know, not stuck–it’s just that these holiday breaks are long! Here are a few more crafts from Parents editors.) Christine came up with ideas that don’t require a lot of equipment or time to achieve but are still covetable. Readers will learn skills such as carving a personalized stamp that can be used on stationery, baby blankets, tote bags or bed linens; painting a rug to perfectly match their child’s bedroom décor; and making a keepsake box that will become a family heirloom.

Christine (left) says these are great for baby showers, too. Here’s one she says you can start on right now:

Alphabet Block Rubbing

Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Love: Spelling our kid’s name or a favorite quote with a simple technique that anybody can master.

Set of wooden alphabet blocks
Large rubber band or elastic tie
9″ x 12″ sheet of vellum
Colored pencils

1. Arrange alphabet blocks face up to spell out the word or name.
2. Rotate extra blocks so the flat side is up and place them around the perimeter of the word.
3. Secure the blocks together with a rubber band.
4. Place vellum over the blocks. Put on hand on the blocks to secure the paper to the blocks. Use a colored pencil in the other hand to rub the raised surface of the blocks.
5. Repeat steps 1 to 4 as needed for additional words or names. Align the paper below the first line and rub with the nib of a colored pencil.


Upcycled Bumblebee Craft: How-To Video
Upcycled Bumblebee Craft: How-To Video
Upcycled Bumblebee Craft: How-To Video

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‘Fold Me Up,’ Satisfies Your Need for Paper Fortune Tellers–and Gives You a Good One for Free!

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Were you obsessed with making and playing with paper fortune tellers when you were a kid? Did your fifth grade teacher send you into the hallway because you made a whole bunch and passed them out to your class during reading time? Oh, that was me.

I’ve already made these with my kids, and now a new book takes the whole fortune teller phenomenom, also known as cootie catchers, to colorful and epic new levels. The book Fold Me Up: 100 Paper Fortune-Tellers for Life’s Pressing Questions by Michelle Taute might be for grown ups, but the kids and I made a few together anyway. We giggled. You’ll find fortune tellers that help you decide whether to have another cocktail and make important decisions based on what Mr. T would do. (Mr. T from a show called The A Team–you know that, right?)

Below, the authors created a custom fortune teller just for readers. It’s called, Have You Lost It? I already know the answer to this question, but I’m going to print this out (see below) and play with it anyway. Why spend my morning working when I can solve all of my problems while having fun?



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Never Be Bored Again: Have Serious Fun with the Book ‘Unbored’

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Today’s a cold and rainy day where I live. I’ve got plenty to do, I just don’t plan on doing it. Instead, I’m loving a brand new book called Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun. It’s got a great message, “Use the world, or let the world use you.” I’m down with that.

The authors, Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen, show us that we can always be up to something. We just need to take time to goof off, craft, play games and prank each other. Forget tutoring and extra homework. Instead, use your hands and brains (and old batteries) with your kids to feel feel instantly happier and more connected.

This is the ultimate craft and curiosity book. The illustrations are vivid, funny and, best of all, super clear. Have you ever heard of “The Game?” Oh boy, I wish I hadn’t read about that one. Unbored also talks about how to roughhouse in the section called “Rules of Combat.” And you know that crazy You Tube video with the exploding Coke and Mentos? (I posted it on the next page.) Unbored tells you exactly how to repeat the explosive experiment at home with your kids. (Outside, preferably near a water hose.) The balancing poses for two people, called “Circus Tricks,” will keep my young children busy for hours this weekend.

From recycling old things to learning how to curse without cursing, this is the coolest activity book for all ages I’ve seen in a long time. Build a tipi or an igloo. Giggle while you short sheet someone’s bed. Fix your bike and make a secret book safe. Unbored includes 344 pages of seriously fun stuff to do.

The kids will love the activities–younger ones need supervision but older ones can take this book and run. Mine will just have to pry Unbored away from me first. After all, I may short sheet their beds, but I don’t want them to figure out how to do it to me! (more…)

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October 2: Best Book Day of the Year

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Happy birthday to lots of books! More will come out today than any other day this year. Publisher’s Weekly is calling it The Best Book Day of 2012. I’m just thinking it might be a good day to go shopping–there are so many great picks to choose from. Here are my favorites for October 2:

The End of Your Life Book Club 
by Will Schwable
When the author’s mother Mary Ann Schwable was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in 2007, the family was devastated. This mother and son duo–two avid and accomplished book lovers–came up with a coping mechanism: They decided to form a book club. Over chemo treatments and long afternoons together, they read everything from Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns to John Updike’s My Father’s Tears. Their discussions became bigger than the fiction–they talked about life and death. I hear this book is “astonishing” and “inspiring.” Even though it’s sad, it might help readers come to understand their own relationships with their aging parents.

Craft-a-Day: 365 Simple Handmade Projects
by Sarah Goldschadt
Some books arrive on my front porch, and I can’t stop staring at them because they’re so beautiful. (And my kids love to take off with the prettiest ones–this was in my 6-year-old’s bedroom.) Talk about an artful pleasure. The author offers a year’s worth of adorable little projects that will bring friends and family together while they have some fun. I especially like the Ladybug Card and the Candle Topper for cupcakes. Goldschadt offers a crafters paradise for all skill levels.

The Bro Code for Parents: What to Expect When You’re Awesome
by Barney Stinson–as in the Barney from How I Met Your Mother–with Matt Kuhn
If you’re looking for an irreverent book about the perils of parenting, or if you’re a big How I Met Your Mother fan, this one’s for you. ‘Stinson’ writes: “Congratulations! You’re about to have a kid? Well, Bro, you might be asking yourself a series of important questions: Will I ever be able to do awesome things again? Will I be able to afford this? Can I ever have sex again? Will I be a good parent? Am I able to love my own child as much as I love my own life? Can I ever have sex again?! Well, the answer to all of these questions is a rock solid no. But just because your life is now a petrifying turd on the canvas of life doesn’t mean your kid has to be as lame as you’re about to become.” This book advises that South Park is a great show for children. Ha!

Calm the Crying: The Secret Baby Language That Reveals the Hidden Meaning Behind an Infant’s Cry
by Priscilla Dunstan
Dunstan, an Australian parenting expert, deciphers your baby’s sounds to help you cope with those first three months. If your baby says, “Eairh,” she really means, “I have gas.” Her body will be rigid, and she will tend to make sudden, jerky movements with her chin up. Dunstan’s advice covers everything from feeding properly to figuring out the exact moment to put the baby to bed. New mothers will appreciate the specific tips that are tailored to their needs.

Today is a great day to buy a book, read a book or wish the kids would pipe down so you could at least contemplate a book. I’ll definitely be doing all of the above this afternoon.

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