Decorative Key Holder

We had a key holder in our last house, but it was screwed into the wall, so was left as part of the purchaser’s agreement.  So, I had been without a key holder for almost two years.  I didn’t loose my keys THAT often because I carved out a little space on the top shelf of the closet, but it definitely wasn’t as convenient as a key holder.  Luckily, I joined Pinterest, and found a great idea for an easy, inexpensive and unique key holder.  It was one of those Pinterest posts that didn’t actually link to anything, so I’m going to do a short tutorial here.

Materials

  • 7″x5″ art canvas
  • small screw in hooks
  • cotton fabric
  • staple gun
  • two large head nails
  • hammer

Instructions

  1. Cut the fabric into a rectangle about 3″ wider and 3″ higher than your art canvas
  2. Centre the fabric on the canvas, flip the canvas over and fold the extra fabric to the back of your canvas.
  3. Use a staple gun to secure the fabric to the canvas.
  4. Screw in 4 small hooks to the bottom of your canvas.  The wood used to make the canvas should be soft enough to allow you to do this by hand.
  5. Hammer the two nails into the wall  wide enough apart to support the two top corners of the canvas.  As you can see, they were a little too close together on my first try 😉
  6. Hang your new key holder, and enjoy always* know where your keys are.

*well, almost always

Cocktail Umbrella Birthday Wreath

My son’s fifth birthday is a little over a week away (and his birthday party  a little under a week away…), so we have been busily crafting up decoration and party favours.  My next few posts are all going to be party related, although most of the ideas aren’t really exclusive to birthdays.  This wreath, for example, is not birthday related unless you add the age in the middle as I have done.

My son’s preschool invited students from the local university to come and do a segment on colour theory.  My son loved the activities and was really taken with colours and colour mixing.  When it came time to decide on a birthday cake, he chose one that was very colourful and rainbowesque, without being rainbow girly.  I decided to have a rainbow colour themed birthday, but not have the rainbows.  Instead I’ve mostly stuck to stars and shooting stars in rainbow colours.  With that in mind, I browsed Pinterest for rainbow wreaths and came up with quite a few really nice ones.  My son then got to pick his favorite, and he picked the cocktail umbrella on from Family Chic.  It may be a little too girly for some boys’/men’s taste, but whatever.

Here’s what I used for mine:

  • a 10″ grapevine wreath
  • two packs of parasol picks (aka cocktail umbrellas)
  • fishing line
  • nylon thread
  • printed 5 on cardstock

Here’s how I made it:

  1. open up the parasols and stick them into the wreath.  Yes, it’s that simple.  I used 28 to cover my wreath.  I didn’t do anything to secure them in place.  The picks go all the way through the wreath and stick out the other side, so I was worried that when I put the wreath against the door, they would all get pushed out.  Luckily they don’t, so I didn’t have to do anything to keep them in place.
  2. I thread a piece of fishing line through the metal hoop that came on the wreath to hand the wreath on the door.  I thought of doing a fancy ribbon, but since it’s for a boy’s birthday I decided a big fancy bow wasn’t quite right.
  3. I then printed off a number 5 onto card stock.  I let Danny choose from all my digital scrapbooking kits and he liked the plaid 5 from the Primary Grunge kit by A Work in Progress.  I cut out the five and used a needle to thread a piece of nylon thread through the card stock.  I then tied the other end of the thread through one of the vines, and voilà, a 5 that is magically hanging in the middle of the wreath.

Cute Hand Print Penguin

Hand Print Penguin CraftI got this idea from a recent Kindermusik class.  I thought it was too cute to pass up.  I did this craft with my 2 year old, and it was a really good fit for her skill.

What you need:

  • 1 piece black construction paper
  • 1 piece white construction paper
  • scrap of orange construction paper
  • glue stick
  • tacky glue
  • 2 googly eyes
  • pencil
  • scissors

How to make it:

  1. Place your hand with fingers closed on the piece of black construction paper.  Trace around your hand with a pencil. Cut along your pencil line.  This will be the body for the penguin.
  2. Place your child’s hand with fingers closed on the piece of black construction paper.  Trace around his/her hand with a pencil.  Cut along your pencil line.  Repeat this step to make two wings for your penguin.
  3. Trace your child’s closed hand on the white construction paper and cut out.  This will be the penguin’s tummy.
  4. Cut out an orange triangle for the beak.
  5. Using the glue stick, glue the wings, tummy and beak in place.  I let my daughter go wild with the glue stick, and then helped her place the parts to make it look like a penguin.
  6. Use the tacky glue to add the eyes.  I put down the dabs of glue and let Anna place the eyes.

We went a step further to turn this into a Father’s Day card.  We glued the penguin to a blue piece of construction paper that had been folded in half.  We added “Happy Father’s Day” and my daughter added some doodles to turn it into a Father’s Day card.

Quick & Easy Popsicle Stick Puppets

My son has been playing “puppets” with things that aren’t really puppets for a few days, so yesterday I suggested we make some puppets of people that he knows.  We didn’t have a lot of time to make complicated puppets, so we made these ones that are really easy and fast.

Here’s what you need:

  • constructions paper
  • something round to trace
  • pencil/markers/pens
  • scissors
  • glue
  • Popsicle sticks
  • yarn scraps

Here’s how to make them:

  1. Fold your paper in half.
  2. Place your “circle” (we used the bottom of a large glass) on the paper and trace.
  3. Cut out your circle through both layers.  This gives you two identical circles (and blew my 4 year old’s mind): one for the face and one for the back of the head.
  4. Draw your face on one of the circles.
  5. Put glue all the way around the edge of the other circle.  Attach cut pieces of yarn for hair and attach the popsicle stick.  These get sandwiched between the two circles.
  6. Press the face piece down on top of the popsicle, hair and back piece.

Voila! You can now enjoy endless hours of puppet shows 🙂

Butterfly Mobile

This craft got five stars from both my kids, and as usual, it’s not quite what I had in mind when I started.  However, the end result was more awe inspiring than the original would have been.

This craft really started with a buy one get one for a penny sale on craft foam at Micheal’s.  I decided instead of buying a second pack of regular foam I would buy a pack of pre-cut butterflies.  Once I got them home I sort of regretted the buy because I thought a few might be fun, but it was going to get boring decorating a whole stack of butterflies.  So the butterfly foam pack has been sitting in my craft closet for a few months and I had been mulling over the idea of doing a mobile with some of them to at least deplete the stack .  Yesterday when Danny wanted to craft he spotted them and asked to make some butterflies.  I sold him on the mobile idea and we started to decorate.  We actually had lots of fun and between the three of us we decorated 11 butterflies!  I had planned on dismantling his planetary mobile that we made a few months ago and replacing the planets and stars with butterflies, but as I was laying them out to dry on the dining room table, I looked up and realized that our light fixture would make a really great mobile base.  My son was more than thrilled to have his work on display in such a high traffic area of our house 🙂  It does add a certain je ne sais quoi to the ambiance in our dinning room (and by je ne sais quoi, I literally mean I don’t know).  My husband claims that he know exactly what it adds, and judging by his tone it wasn’t all good… Oh well, he’ll just have to get used to it.  I suspect having a mobile in our dining room is going to be a recurring project idea 🙂

Okay, so here’s what we used to make this mobile (so many substitutions are possible, so just use what you have!)

  • pre-cut craft foam butterflies
  • peel and stick craft foam flowers
  • peel and stick sparkly craft foam (I cut it into small rectangles)
  • Crayola pip squeaks glitter pens
  • Elmers Shimmer and Shine art glaze
  • crochet thread
  • darning needle (a.k.a yarn needle)

And here’s how we made them:

  1. Gather all your supplies and decorate the butterflies.  The kids don’t need a lot of help with this one, so I decorated some butterflies as well.  I found that my decorating gave the kids ideas for how they could decorate theirs.
  2. Thread your needle with crochet thread and use the needle to pierce the foam butterflies.
  3. Tie crochet thread to your mobile base (in this case my light fixture).

NOTE: After I hung them all up I realized that we could have let them dry completely and decorated the other side as well before hanging them.  We may do that next time, although the effect is still quite impressive with only one side decorated.

Craft Foam Art Frame

This is another craft that we did after my son watched an episode of Artzooka!.  The episode showed how you can change the look of the same picture by adding different backgrounds and different frames.  My son just picked up the idea of making a frame for his picture, so we didn’t photocopy his drawing to make multiple frames/backgrounds.  The instructions for this particular craft can be found here, but it doesn’t give instructions on how to make a frame, it just gives suggestions on what to use and how to decorate.

Here’s what we did:

  1. Draw a  picture.
  2. Add a background (Danny chose to do those with purple marker).
  3. Tape your picture to cardboard.  I used a cheerios box that I cut out a little bigger than the drawing.
  4. Cut out pieces of craft foam to cover the cardboard border.  This is what made our frame.
  5. Glue the craft foam to the cardboard using a good tacky glue.  I have found that Aleene’s Super Thick Tacky Glue works really well for hard to hold items (craft foam, pipe cleaners, pom-pom’s etc.)
  6. Cut off the excess card board.
  7. Next came the part where this project went off the rails.  But, hey, that’s the fun when you do crafts with preschoolers.  We were now supposed to decorate the frame.  Danny asked for paints, so I got out the paints, and he proceeded to paint over his drawing…Then he asked to decorate the frame with foam flowers.  I pieced together the flower using three thin strips of craft foam and a lot of scotch tape.  I would put the tutorial up, but lets just say my way of making that flower wasn’t exactly an elegant solution.

I thought it was a shame that Danny painted over his cute self portrait, but my husband still gave it a place of honour on the office wall.  It was a fun project although I ended up doing more if it than I would have liked.  If Danny is still into crafts, we’ll try it again in a few years when he can help with the design and cutting.

Splatter Paintings

My 4 year old son loves the show Artzooka! on kids CBC, so we often try to do the crafts featured on the show.  Some of them require specialized materials or are geared for older kids, but we have had a lot of fun with many of the Arzooka! crafts.  One that we saw a few weeks ago was particularly suited to my son, as he had always raved about similar activities that he did at preschool.  I don’t find the Arzooka! website easy to navigate, so I haven’t linked to their instruction page for this.  I did a quick look and couldn’t find it, so it may not even be there.  Here’s how we did our splatter paintings:

Equipment:

  • small bottles of paint (we used of acrylic paint that we had left over from a previous small bottles of paintproject)
  • paper (we used 8-1/2 X 14 printer paper)
  • markers
  1. If you’re doing this with small children I would recommend folding your paper first.  That way the crease is already down the centre and your kids can “fold it” on their own after they’ve done their splattering.  I hadn’t pre-folded the first one, so once Danny had finished adding the paint he folded it on his own, but it wasn’t anywhere near the middle, so his painting didn’t really turn out.

2. Let your kid go wild with the paint bottles.  Simply squeeze paint out in crazy designs all over the paper.  It’s definitely more fun if you have more colours.  I was really surprised how many paintings we were able to do with just a few small bottles of paint.

3. Fold your paper in half and press down to smoosh the paint into a neat design.

4.  Unfold and admire your beautiful artwork!  Have fun deciding what each one looks like.

5.  Let your artwork dry. (We left them overnight)

6.  Get our your markers and add details like facial features or additional scenery to turn your abstract splatterings into actual pictures.  Here’s one that Danny turned into a bunny.  It’s really fun to see their imaginations go wild 🙂

I’ve only shown a few pieces here, but we’ve done this activity 4 times now and have produced over 20 pictures, all with 5 leftover bottles of acrylic paint.  One caution:  acrylic paint is NOT washable, so make sure that you have your painting bibs on!

Touch of Colour in Corel Paint Shop Pro X3

When I first started doing digital scrapbooking, I didn’t want to make an investment in software because I didn’t know if it was something I was going to do a lot of.  My husband found me a free program called Paint.net.  It is a neat little program that is basically built by the users.  I could do all the basic stuff, but it didn’t have any really fancy tools.  Things like adding a drop shadow would take 6 or 7 clicks whereas in a bought program you do it in two clicks.  After a year or so of using Paint.net, I decided that digital scrapbooking was something that I really enjoyed and was going to continue as a hobby.  Most digital scrapbookers at the time were using Adobe products (this was before the big boom of software specific for digital scrapbooking), but I decided to go with the equivalent product from Corel, as Corel is a Canadian company.  I figured I would be able to muddle my way through as I had with Paint.net.  I have managed, but I almost always have to “translate” adobe tutorials into paint shop language on my own.  I have decided to post paint shop tutorials here in case there is anyone else out there doing digital scrapbooking in paint shop 🙂

The first tutorial I have decided to do, is adding a touch of colour to a black and white photo.  I love this effect, but I find it only works on very select photos.  I don’t end up using it often, so I can never remember how to do it!  There are lots of tutorials for Adobe on how to do this, but I think at least half of them are not great ways.  Some of the tutorials basically put a black and white copy above a colour copy of the photo.  You then erase what you want in colour from the black and white copy.  The problem is, that if you erase just a smidge too much, the only way to correct is your undo button.  The way I’m going to show you gives you the option of re-painting to black and white.

So here goes:

  1. Open your photo and Save As so that you don’t accidentally lose your original photo. 
  2. Make sure your Layers Pallet is open.  To open your layers pallet, go to View -> Pallets -> Layers. opening layers palletYour layers pallet looks like this:layers pallet
  3. In your layers pallet, Right click on the background image and select Duplicate.duplicate background image
  4. Still working in your layers pallet, right click on the layer labelled “copy of background” and select New Adjustment Layer -> Channel Mixer.channel mixer adjustment layer
  5. In the Channel Mixer Box, select the Monochrome Box. This will change your layer to black and white.select monochrome
  6. In your layers pallet, right click on your new layer called Channel Mixer 1.  Select Merge -> Merge Down.merge adjustment layer
  7. In your layers pallet, right click on the layer called copy of background.  Select New Mask Layer -> Show All.show mask layer
  8. Make sure that black is selected as your foreground colour and white is selected as your background colour.  The easiest way to do this is to have your Materials Pallet open (refer to step 2 on how to open pallets) and select the “set to black and white” button.set to black and white
  9. Making sure that your Mask layer is selected in your layers pallet, choose your paint brush tool.paint brush tool
  10. Now you can start to paint.  Anything that you paint using a black paint brush will reveal the colour from the original image.  Anything that you paint using a white paint brush will change back to black and white.  Here is my finished product:
  11. This is how I put it into a layout using The Scrappy Kat’s kit Totally Flakey:

Child’s Reversibile Apron

If you have little sous-chefs in your kitchen, little aprons are a must!  I had a little apron that we got from a Kindermusik course which served my son very well.

Kindermusk Apron

However, my daughter now wants to help too, so I needed a second little apron.  I liked the fit of the Kindermusik apron, so I decided to use it as a template to make my new apron.  It had two pockets on the front that my kids didn’t use, so I decided to go pocket-less for my version.  I traced the outline of the original apron onto do-sew to make my pattern piece, but if you want to try this here are the measurements that I cut (i.e. including seam allowance):

  • width of bib: 8″ at the top, curve out gently to the full width of the skirt.
  • length of bib:8″
  • width of skirt: 17″
  • total length: 20″
  • width of ties:3″
  • length of ties: ~20″  the lengths varied because I cut them however I could to use the least amount of fabric.

This apron is really easy to make and is great for beginner sewers.  Here’s a quick tutorial on how to put it together.

1.  cut out two apron pieces.  I cut both pieces from the same fabric, but I think choosing two different fabrics would be cuter.  That way your little one basically gets two new aprons!

2. cut out four ties.

3.  Fold the ties in half lengthwise.  Press.  Fold each of the unfinished sides in towards that middle crease.  This is what you should end up with: Fold and press 4 ties4.  Fold up 3/8″ of one end of the tie and press inwards.  This is just so that the end of your tie doesn’t have any unfinished edges when you’re done.Fold down end of tie

5.  Sew open edge of ties shut using only 1/8″ seam allowance. 

6.  Sew all four ties onto one of your apron pieces as per pictures.

Waist tie placement

Neck tie placement

  I sewed back and forth a few times to make sure that the tie was going to be securely anchored.

7.  Place remaining apron piece right side down on your first piece and pin in place.  You are now going to sew all the way around the outside of your two pieces, leaving only a 3-4″ gap so that you can turn the apron right side out.  I left the gap on one of the sides of the apron skirt.

Leave 3-4" gap for turning the apron right side out

I used a 3/8″ seam allowance.  **Make sure you keep your ties in towards the centre of your pieces so that you don’t inadvertently sew them into your apron seams.

8.  If you are a beginner sewer, here is a quick tip on sewing 90 degree corners.  Sew straight down the side of the apron.  When your needle is 3/8″ from the bottom of your apron stop sewing.  If your needle is in the up position, turn the wheel on the side of your machine to put the needle in the down position.  Lift up your presser foot and rotate your piece 90 degrees.  Sew straight along the bottom of your apron.  Repeat at next corner to go up the other side.

Presser foot is up, needle is down. Now you can rotate your fabric 90 degrees.

9.  Turn your apron right side out and press your seams flat.

10.  Top stitch around the outside of the apron.  This will close the gap that was left for turning as well as giving it a professional finished look.

11. Enjoy the finished product!  I was so pleased with the first one, that I decided to make a second one for my son.

I’m still learning about my fancy camera, and I didn’t quite get the settings right for this photo.  The colours are really washed out 😦