Marbleized Salt Dough Valentines

Marbleized Salt Dough Hearts

Marbleized Salt Dough Hearts

Like many other parts of the country, we have been snowed in for the last several days.  Suffering from a serious case of cabin fever, little man and I were looking for something to entertain us all day.  As a bonus, we were hoping to get his Valentine’s gifts done at the same time.  We were inspired by Jean Van’t Hull at www.theartfulparent.com who has several wonderful posts about salt dough ornaments.  If you have never checked out her blog, you should!  She is so creative and has lots of fun art projects to try with your children.

We have made salt dough before and love the texture.  Little man loved the idea of adding beads to the salt dough.  See Lacey Salt Dough Ornaments at  http://www.artfulparent.com/2011/12/punched-salt-dough-ornaments-beaded-ones-too.html.  However, I was concerned about the smell of melting plastic in the oven, especially since it was too cold outside to open the windows and doors.  I had been wanting to try adding food coloring to the dough and thought this would be as good a time as any.

I used the basic salt dough recipe of 4 cups flour, 1 cup salt and 1 1/2 cups water.  Little man then squirted in quite a bit of the Wilton’s gel food color in magenta.  The color is beautiful!  The color did not work into the dough smoothly, despite a lot of kneading.

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Little man loved the color contrast between the white and the pink and wanted to roll out it.  He just loves to use his crocodile rolling-pin and could not wait for any more kneading.  When we did, the marbling was just beautiful!  A happy accident.

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We cut out the hearts with a heart-shaped sandwich cutter and then used a straw to punch out holes in the top.

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We then baked the salt dough ornaments at 225 degrees Farenheit for about 3 hours.  Once they were cool, I wrote a short message, who it was from, and the year on the back in Sharpie.

Little man and I then got busy with the Modge Podge.  We used the extreme glitter version as it is so sparkly and perfect for Valentine’s Day.

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Once the Modge Podge was dry, I got little man to help me cut yarn for the hangers.  Although the yarn is pretty, little man could not thread the yarn through the holes in the ornaments on his own.  He also wanted to add pony beads for decoration.  So we decided to do some with pipe cleaners which he could easily thread through the holes and add beads for decoration.  I just LOVE how they turned out!  Hope his friends and family will too.

Girl Scout Leader Ideas

I am the leader of a Brownie Girl Scout Troop in Oregon.  We like to have fun and I am always looking for new ideas.  I love to pin ideas for service projects, crafts, badges, games, ceremonies and just for fun.  I would love to share them with you.

My Pinterest board is called girl scout fun:

Pirate Play with How I Became A Pirate

Pirate Play inspired by How I Became a Pirate

Pirate Play inspired by How I Became a Pirate

Ahoy, landlubbers!  My three-year old has an obsession with all things pirate.  He is just starting to get into pretend play and loves books and crafts.  To spark his play, I set up an invitation to play that included the book, How I Became a Pirate by David Shannon.

Since it was cold and windy out, I set our treasure hunt inside.  This would be awesome to do outside as well as I would have loved to have included digging as part of our treasure hunt.  I had the kids start at our teepee (I made this for my little guy for Christmas.  Please watch for a post about how to build your own).  In this invitation to play, I put out a pirate hat, foam cutlass, telescope, stuffed parrot, flashlight, rolled up treasure map, and the book How I Became a Pirate.  I called little man and big sis in and our pirate adventure began.  I started by reading the story to them while they were peeking out of the teepee.  Once the story was over, they divvied up the pirate gear, opened the treasure map and got started.  Big sis took the lead in interpreting the treasure map.  To keep them busy and work on balance and gross motor skills, I had them go upstairs, roll over a large exercise ball, crawl across our bed, walk on our fireplace hearth and slide down the stairs.  What fun!!

Pirate Play

The treasure was hidden under our dining room table and consisted of organic lollipops and foam stampers with dolphins, footprints, palm trees, and a sun.  The kids quickly popped the lollipops in their mouths and ran to the kitchen table where I had set out paper and large stamp pads and markers so they could get busy creating a pirate scene.

Snowflake Garland and Coffee Filter Snowflake How To

Coffee Filter Snowflake How ToSnowflake Garland

So the weather outside our house is not yet a winter wonderland.  To get in the holiday spirit, I set up a snowflake crafting invitation for the kids after school recently.  I thought the kids would make a few and we would hang them on the windows to make us think of snow.  But all three kids (even our 13-year-old) started cutting out snowflakes and just kept cutting until we had a large pile of beautiful snowflakes.  We had so many snowflakes that we made this fun snowflake garland for the mantle.  I simply taped the snowflakes to a piece of white yarn and hung them up.  The nice thing about the snowflakes is that they do not need to come down after Christmas but can continue to decorate the house for as long as they keep making us smile.

Coffee Filter Snowflake How To

There are so many different ways to make a snowflake.  Our favorite way is to use coffee filters.  The coffee filters are already round and the paper is nice and thin which makes them easy to fold and cut (even with blunted kid’s scissors).  Simply fold the coffee filters in half, and then in half again and again, until you get a thin elongated triangle.  Then, you cut shapes such as triangles, hearts, waves and half circles around all of the edges and the tip.  Open and enjoy!

Next up, my daughter wants to paint the snowflakes so they look like the ones in Keat’s Snowy Day.  I think we will try using eye-droppers to drop liquid watercolors onto the coffee filters to make a tie-dye effect and then cut out the snowflakes.  My kids just love liquid watercolors and the eye-droppers are a good way for my little one to work on his fine motor skills.  I will be sure to post the results.

How do you make your snowflakes?

Easy Felt Gingerbread Couple Ornaments – Too Pretty to Eat

Easy Felt Gingerbread CoupleGingerbread cookies are a Christmas favorite at our house.  Not only do they smell and taste great, but they are so much fun to decorate.  When the kids and I saw an idea to make gingerbread people out of felt in the December 2013 issue of Parenting magazine, we knew we had to try it.  How exciting to know that our felt gingerbread family would not be devoured before our decorating handiwork was admired.

Felt Gingerbread Ornaments

Instead of making dough, we dug out our stash of felt and got started creating.  To make the ornaments, we traced the outline of our girl and boy gingerbread cookie cutters and cut out two for each ornament.  Then, the little nuts got busy bringing out the decorating supplies.  Before I knew it, we had a table covered with ribbon, buttons, sequins, jewels, feather boas, puff balls, felt, faux fur and more.  We used Elmer’s glue all or a needle and thread to attach the decorations to the front.  Once the front was decorated, we used embroidery thread on a large embroidery needle to make a whipstich around the edges.  We started at the neck and sewed around the bottom and back up to the neck and then stuffed the body with batting then finished stitching the head.  I just love all of the fancy hats and outfits the kids came up with for their gingerbread people.  We have several more in progress including a nut fairy and Santa’s little helper.  I cannot wait to see them when they are finished.

The Diva and her Dashing Husband

The Diva and her Dashing Husband

Cute Handprint Christmas Tree Plates for around $1

Handprint Christmas Tree plate 3

A perfect holiday gift for grandparents or a great keepsake, these handprint Christmas tree plates cost around $1 each to make.  My three little nuts and I had a great time making these cute and easy plates as gifts.  (We made one to keep for ourselves too!)

Supplies needed:

  1. Red charger – we found ours for under $1 at Michael’s
  2. Craft paints in Christmas colors – we like Ceramacoat or Folk Art
  3. Medium paintbrush or foam brush
  4. White paint pen
  5. Modge Podge Extreme Glitter (you can use matte as well but my daughter LOVES glitter)
  6. Clear spray sealant (optional)

How to make: 

1.  The handprint tree is made of 3 handprints layered one on top top of the other to give a layered effect.  (I have 3 children so we used the oldest’s hand as the bottom, the middle child’s hand as the center and the youngest as the top of the Christmas tree.  However, you can do this project with one child or even two.)  For the bottom of the tree, paint the child’s hand green and press down on the charger with fingertips close to the rim of the plate.  Wait for the handprint to dry.

2.  The next handprint forms the center of the tree.  Paint the child’s hand green and place slightly above the first handprint and press down on the plate.  This will  create a layered effect.  Wait for the handprint to dry.  We painted my middle child’s hand a slightly lighter green (I just mixed in some yellow with the Christmas tree green) so that it would be easier to see the distinction between the handprints.

3.  The third handprint makes the top of the tree.  Paint the child’s hand and place above the other two handprints, toward the top of the charger, leaving space to add a star at the top.  My little man could hardly wait for the paint to dry so he could have his turn.  We painted his hand a slightly lighter shade of green than his sisters (this step involved lots of giggling).

4.  When the handprints are dry, paint a yellow star at the top and then have the child or children dip their fingers into red, yellow and blue paint to make ornaments (other colors would work well too).  My kids really liked how the yellow looked like Christmas tree lights.

5.  Use a white paint pen to write your family name, Christmas and the year.

6.  Finally, use a foam brush to cover the chargers with  Modge Podge to seal the paint.  My daughter is all about glitter and sparkles so we used Modge Podge Extra Glitter to make the plates extra sparkly.  Matte finish Modge Podge would also look nice.  Since we plan to use our plate as decoration only, we did not spray on a clear sealant to further protect and waterproof them but this is an optional step you can do.

May all your Christmas crafting adventures be merry!

Painting to Achieve a New Look: Out with the Gold and in with the Pewter

A little over 9 years ago, my husband, Sean, and I bought a house in the towering trees outside of Portland, Oregon.  The house has crazy high ceilings and lots of angles due to the steep pitch of the roof. It also has lots of dark wood everywhere: floors, cabinets, trim, doors, stairwell and even on some of the ceilings.  We bought the house because it sits on an acre of Douglas fir and Cedar trees on the top of a hill that has not yet been cleared and developed.  We are fortunate to have lots of wildlife come through our yard including deer, grey squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, red-tailed hawks, and lots of small birds.  Outdoors is a little paradise on earth.  However, the house needed and still needs lots of work to make it a bright and beautiful home for our growing family.

front of house

Before we moved into the house, we decided to have a much-needed fresh coat of paint put on all of the ceilings to brighten it up.  We also had the walls of the entryway, family room and kitchen painted a beautiful gold color from Laura Ashley.  I was thinking liquid sunshine on the walls to chase away those gray Oregon days and the shadows on the walls from all the fantastic trees outside.  The gold was never right.  Somehow it always looked dirty, even with the sun shining on it, and it made the all of the wood look orange.  Yuck!  I had been pondering for a while (ok years is more like it) what to do to make the house brighter.  Should I paint all of the wood a shade of white?  What a huge job that would be and the wood is beautiful and real (not the particle board trim that you often get in newer homes today)!  Should we paint the walls a different color?  If so, what color?  Perhaps most importantly, since we do not have the money to have painters this time (the bid for the job was in the $4 to $5k range), could I paint it myself with all those soaring peaks?!?

After much pondering, I landed on grey as the perfect color to compliment the wood tones in the house.  I have been watching my HGTV and learned that grey should calm the orange tones of the wood and enhance it.  We were a little worried about whether grey walls would make it feel like it was overcast and rainy inside like it is outside in Oregon many months of the year.  We did NOT want that!  So, I decided to try a warm grey and cross my fingers.

A few weeks ago, while hubby was out-of-town, I decided to go for it.  I bought two paint sample can and brought them home.  I could hardly wait for nap time.  As soon as the little one was down, I whipped open the first can and got started painting.  The first sample was ok, but I was not loving it.  Then, I tried Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter.  It was gorgeous and I just could not stop painting.  I used absolutely every bit of the paint I could get out of the tiny sample can and covered one wall and part of the soffit in the kitchen by the cherry cabinets (which are staying as they are real cherry) and the countertops which we replaced with a beautiful solid surface from Granite Transformations.  Wow!!  This was it.  My little guy old woke up from his nap hungry and fussy and reality set in.  What have I done?  Now I was committed to continue painting unless I wanted to be stuck with a partly painted kitchen.  This might not have been too bad except that our house is so open I could not just paint the kitchen and be done.  It meant that I had to keep going and paint the family room, the brick fireplace and the dreaded entry.

Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter sample

Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter sample

I am so glad that I did!  Look at what it looks like now.  Just in time for the holidays.  Now to do something about the horrible lighting in the family room . . .

Before gold and after pewter.  Love the new color!

Before gold and after pewter. Love the new color!