Monday, April 14, 2014

170) Sticker Resist Dyed Eggs

I was just contemplating what kind of eggs we should dye this week for Easter and remembered that I never shared the eggs we did last year. Honestly I am thinking we might do the same thing this year because they were fun to make and turned out so cool.

We started by hard boiling a dozen white eggs, then when they were cool to the touch, I gave each of the girls a few pages of reinforcement stickers. Which bring back a wave of memories from middle school, but that's a blog post for another day. The girls covered the eggs with stickers and I helped, making sure the stickers where fully smoothed onto the eggs. We then filled a few containers of colored dye, I actually think we just used one of those kits that you get at the store. However since it is over a year since we did it my memory is a little foggy, I guess that's what I get for waiting so long to write about this. 

After letting the eggs sit in one color we took the eggs out, let them dry a little and removed the stickers. We played around with layering the colors, adding more stickers and placing the eggs into a different color. Some of the stickers came off after a while but that just seemed to add to the effect.

 When we were all done we removed all the stickers and let the eggs dry. The layered colors and round sticker outlines turned out beautifully. The girls also played around with drawing on the eggs in crayon before dipping into the dye. Another technique I hope we get to explore again this year, but check back next year for more on that one.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

169) Tea Scented Play Dough

To say this winter has been brutal would be a giant understatement. We have had every kind of precipitation and weeks upon weeks of freezing temps. I know that I always complain about the winter weather on this blog but this winter most definitely takes the cake. My saving grace this winter has really been play dough. It is something both the Bee and Bean can always agree on, they can almost always play nicely together (at least for a while) and there are endless play dough possibilities. 

On one of our many snow days, the girls woke up needing something new and I woke up needing a warm cup with a little caffeine. Combining a cup of hot tea with play dough seems like the perfect combinations for this winter. Not to mention that we have made a lot of batches of play dough this winter so something a little different was a nice change. I originally read about tea infused play dough a few years ago and have been wanting to try it for a long time, but just finally got around to it. We started by getting out a bunch of tea bags, I am a fan of a good cup of tea so we had plenty to choose from. The girls selected three types of tea, a chai, a passion fruit and an earl gray.

We started by brewing each of the three tea bags in a cup of hot water. The girls liked smelling each one and picking their favorites. While the tea was steeping I started to mix the play dough. I used our regular recipe but halved it since I was making 3 different flavors. 
1 cup of flour
1/2 cup of salt
1 tablespoon of oil
2 teaspoons of cream of tartar 

I mixed all the ingredients in a saucepan and then added one cup of the steeped tea to the pot. I mixed all the ingredients over high heat until they came together to form the dough, about 5 minutes. After the dough formed a ball I dumped it out on the counter to cool and kneaded the dough once it was cool to the touch. After fully cooling I turned the first batch of chai play dough over to the girls and started the next two batches using the same recipe. 

We didn't add any food coloring to the chai or passion fruit play doughs the teas had a nice pinkish color and didn't need any color. The Earl Gray didn't really have a color so the girls decided they wanted to add yellow food coloring to that batch. The Bee explained to me that the tea smelled yellow, a fascinating statement that made me think that matching colors to smells could be a fun experiment for another day.

Over time the three batches of play dough got mashed together but the delicious tea smell held strong making the play dough fun to play with for a few weeks. We stored the dough in a plastic bag when not in use and it has lasted a good while, seen plenty of use and been a huge savior on all these cold, snowy afternoons.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

168) Cardboard Tube Heart Printing

I have never been a fan of winter, but this winter has been particularly brutal. Record breaking cold temperatures, freezing precipitation of every kind, winter colds and a new baby means we have spent more time inside this winter then ever before. In order to control the craziness of cabin fever we have been doing lots and lots of projects lately. Good for this blog, not so good for the cleanliness and organization of my house. While we already have one Valentines project, our Play Dough Valentines, underway, I saw this very easy heart printing on Pinterest and thought we would give it a shot. 

I used two toilet paper tubes (one for each of the girls) and pinched one end together to form the bottom of the heart and pinched the middle of the top together to form the top of the heart. I then used our good old metal trays and squeezed in a little red and purple washable tempera. I got out a few large sheets of white paper and let the girls stamp to the hearts content. This is the kind of project I love on an impromptu snow/sick day. It took no prior planning, less then 5 minutes to set up and the girls spent a good 20 minutes happily printing.

Once they had finished printing we left the papers to dry. The next day we used a large heart shaped paper punch (though you could also just cut hearts out with scissors) to cut out a bunch of hearts for the girls to use for the class valentines. The Bee has been all about writing this year and has been working every day to write a Valentine for each of the kids in her class. The Bean is a little less concerned with Valentines day, so I have been writing the names of her classmates on the hearts for her but love that she made the artwork on the front.

If you are looking for some more Valentine ideas here are some Valentine projects we have done in the past:
Play dough Valentines
DIY Doily Heart Printed Shirt
Play Dough Printing
Contact Paper and Glitter Valentines
Borax Crystal Hearts
Needle Felted Heart Sweater
Valentines Station
Oil and Paper Heart Garland
Valentine's Doily Printing

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

167) Coffee Filter Snowflake Window

Over the last few winters we have tried paper snowflakes several times. The first year we tried the Bee was fascinated but not able to cut them herself, so she got quickly frustrated. Last year she was able to cut them but not able to cut the intricate designs she wanted. This year she was finally able to cut the intricate designs she wanted and she was hooked. She loved cutting the snowflakes and spent the longest time cutting different designs each one getting more and more complicated. The Bean on the other hand had no interest in cutting snowflakes, she wasn't able to cut the designs and it didn't bother her in the least. Funny how different they are sometimes. She was however thrilled to paint the snowflakes so they made a great pair. After spending so much time at home this winter the bickering has been pretty bad so to have a project where everyone happily worked together was amazingly nice. 

We started our snowflakes on sort  of a whim, really my attempt to redirect the bickering came out as a suggestion to make snowflakes without much forethought. So when I went to the cabinet to get out some coffee filters to make our snowflakes, I was a little surprised  to find that we only had recycled unbleached coffee filters. Coffee filters are the best for making snowflakes since they are already the perfect round shape and thin and easy to fold and cut.  Fortunately the girls didn't seam to care, and once painted they looked so beautiful it didn't matter. To make the snowflakes we started by folding the coffee filters in half and half again and half again until we had a small triangle. We then cut triangles, half circles and lines into the triangle. This tutorial is really helpful if you are looking for snowflake ideas.

After we finished cutting, or really as the Bee was cutting, the Bean painted the snowflakes with liquid watercolors. We used blues and purples to give the snowflakes a wintery feel and the coffee filter sucks the paint up and blends the colors beautifully.

We worked on the snowflakes for two afternoons in a row and then had so many we needed to do something with them. My friend Genie has a beautiful snowflake garland at her house, so at first I thought we might try and make one of those, but then I remembered these beautiful window displays I had seen on the Artful Parent a while ago. So I found some contact paper, we only had white, and taped a large piece of white contact paper sticky side up onto the table. The girls and I then placed the snowflakes onto the contact paper, carefully smoothing them out with our fingers. In some places the girls overlapped the snowflakes and even included some that we never finished painting. When all the snowflakes were on we took the contact paper off the table and smoothed the sticky side onto the glass of our front storm door. 

The finished mural looks so nice! It adds such a fun color on a gray winter day. I think maybe we will try and make some coffee filter hearts for Valentines next...

Monday, January 6, 2014

165) Playdough Valentines

With New Years over my kids have already moved on to the next holiday, Valentine's Day. The girls have already been talking about what kind of Valentines they want to make and give to their classmates this year. Which brings me to the dilemma I face every year at this time, to give candy with the Valentines or not to give candy. My Kids of course want to give candy, because like every other kid they love candy. And while I don't mind my kids having the occasional piece of candy I hate to be that parent that hands it out to all the other kids. So this year I came up with what will hopefully be an option that will keep me happy and them happy, play dough valentines!

The temperatures around here lately have been very cold, that combined with the new little brother means we have been spending a lot of time at home and a lot of time playing play dough. The other day we made a new batch of our favorite snow play dough, a white play dough with glitter and peppermint extract. While we were playing with the snow play dough and talking valentines, I started thinking about making heart play dough to give all the friends. We used our snow play dough and an additional batch of red play dough made using my favorite recipe:
                                                                                                     2 cups of flour

1 cup of salt
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil 
1 cup of warm water with red food coloring

We started by taking the red play dough and rolling it into a thick worm. I then took a clay tool, although you could use a knife or even a pencil, to push a trench into the top of the worm. I found that making the trench pretty deep seems to work best. I then took the opposite side of the worm and pinched it into a point all along the bottom. So that when I was finished I had a long heart shaped worm. Next the girls helped me to flatten the white snow dough into a pancake. I then carefully wrapped the white play dough around the red heart worm, starting by pushing one end of the pancake into the trench of the heart. I rolled the white play dough until it fully covered the red and then pinched the roll shut. Finally I used a string to cut the roll into 1 1/2 inch pieces. When I cut into the play dough we were delighted to see a perfect heart in the middle. I then took each piece and placed it into a small plastic container. I bought the containers at the dollar store but any small Tupperware type container would work. We made a few containers and I am hoping to make more over the next few weeks so that the girls can each take them to give to their friends at preschool on Valentines Day. I was thinking of maybe getting tags so that the Bean can draw a picture and the Bee can write her friends names to personalize them a bit.  I will try and share a picture of the finished outcome as we get closer to Valentines Day.

Friday, January 3, 2014

164) Snow Ice Cream

Over the last few years I have seen a lot of recipes for snow ice cream on the Internet. I always want to try them but we honestly haven't had a lot of snow. This winter we have finally had some. The girls and I were excited to give the recipe a shot. I started by taking a large bowl and placing it outside on our steps soon after the snow started. A few hours later we had a good bowl full of snow. We brought the snow in and added one can of sweetened condensed milk and a little vanilla. That was it, so simple that the girls really did all the work. They loved mixing everything together and they especially loved eating it.  I think next time we will add a little chocolate syrup to make it even more decadent, because really isn't that what snow days are for.

Monday, December 30, 2013

43) it's oh so quiet and peaceful until...

It has been a while since I have had a chance to write a post, mostly because I am a terrible one handed typer.  Over the last weeks I have spent most of my time holding a baby while trying to keep up with the Bee and Bean. Leaving very little time for much of anything else. The new little brother arrived in the middle of October and his two big sisters have been smitten with him since. He is fortunately a pretty nice little guy who seems happy to go with the flow. A good thing given that he doesn't have much of a choice. His sisters smother him in kisses and germs, he has already had two colds, which our pediatrician assures me will mean he will have a great immune system built up by Kindergarten. Life with three has been hectic, in a good way. Currently our house is a mess, showering is one of those occasional things, and the laundry, oh the laundry. But at the end of the day when I see the three of them together it makes it all worth it. I know someday I will sleep again, someday I will have a clean house and someday I will shower whenever I want for as long as I want. I am sure when that someday arrives I will look back and miss these chaotic days with little ones.
We are all finally starting to settle into our new routines and I am finally finding a little time to get back to things like this blog and the shop. I reopened the shop in November after taking a few weeks off, just listing the crayons I had in stock. I am hoping to start getting back to custom orders, favors and wholesale in the next few weeks. Although I am sure to be a little slower for a while. I am also hoping to get back to this blog a little more. I miss writing here and having this creative outlet. We have been working on lots of fun projects lately that I hope to find the time to write about soon. In the meantime I hope everyone has had a good holiday season and I hope to see more of you all in the new year!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

163) Secret Messages

The last few months, especially since the start of Kindergarten, the Bee has been really into writing. It seems to all be clicking for her, the letters, the sounds they make, how they can form words. It is so fascinating to watch as she starts to piece it all together and I can't help but be in total amazement at every new thing she learns. As a result of her new love, she is writing all the time. I find little notes and drawings all over the house, in her school bag and on any piece of paper that might be left around.  So a few weeks ago when she asked if we could try to write secret messages, I couldn't say no. The secret messages idea came from a book I had long before she was born called Loo-Loo, Boo and Art You Can Do by Denis Roche. I don't even remember where I got this book but it is filled with fun and simple art activities and she loves it. Often, oddly requesting to read it at bedtime although it is not really the kind of book you would think of as bedtime reading.

The secret messages are pretty simple, all you need is white paper, white crayons and any kind of watercolor paint. One person secretly draws or writes on the white paper in white crayons, then gives the paper to the other person. The other person then needs to paint over the crayon with watercolors to reveal the secret message. We did a bunch of these sometimes I would write the message, sometimes the Bee would write something or draw a picture. The fun part was watching the message appear, every time both girls would seem totally surprised by the image, even if it was something they had drawn themselves. The Bean like the secret messages too, mostly just painting the paper to reveal the messages, she was highly opposed to drawing with just the white crayons. So she got out all the colors and worked on her own oil resists. With Halloween coming up I was thinking this could be a cool, spooky craft or even a fun group project. Either way it is something we will surely be doing again.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

85) Loch Raven Reservoir

When I was a younger I used to love to go to Loch Raven Reservoir, but somehow had totally forgotten about it, until my Instagram friend and blog writer (This Suburban Life) posted some photos of her kids there. Her beautiful photos reminded me and for a long time the reservoir was on my list of places I wanted to take the girls. We finally got there this summer. Loch Raven Reservoir is located just north of Towson and can be accessed from either Dulaney Valley Road or Cromwell Bridge Road.The reservoir actually supplies water to Baltimore city (and part of Baltimore County), one of those random facts I learned somewhere along the way which led to a fascinating conversation with the girls about how water comes to our house. It was one of those conversations that made me feel like they should have a special college to prepare parents to answer the many questions that their kids ask that they have no answers too and really thankful for Wikipedia.  
There is a lot to do in the park including skeet shooting, fishing and hiking trails, but we really liked the small beach near the Dulaney Valley entrance to the park. The beach isn't a swimming beach, in fact I don't think you are allowed to swim at all in the reservoir, but a perfect place to check out the water, skip stones and visit the many, many geese. The little beach area is also the perfect place for a picnic or to enjoy some ice cream from Priegal Creamery which is just a few minutes away. I am hoping to go back in the next few weeks when the leaves really start to change, I think it will be the perfect place for a Fall picnic.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

90) Rubber Duck Wash

The last few days here we have been enjoying some indian summer weather. Well I say enjoying, the Bee and Bean have been enjoying the warm afternoons. My ankles on the other hand will be delighted when the temperatures return to the 70's. This afternoon has been particularly hot. Hot enough for even some of the local schools to close early. So to cool off we have spent most of the afternoon having a rubber duck wash, one of the Bean's favorite things to do on a hot day. We randomly have a large collection of rubber ducks, and even more randomly get a lot of use out of them. They play in the bathtub in the winter and outside in gutter races when it is warmer. Today they have been happily floating in our big red water table, filled with some cool water, a little soap and a few sponges. The Bean has been busy washing and scrubbing the little ducks clean. While we have used our ducks, any rubber bath toy, squirter or even plastic doll would be fun and if you don't have a water table any large plastic bin would work. So while tomorrow we are supposed to see a return to Fall weather, it has been nice to have one more hot afternoon to play in the water, even if my ankles don't love it.