Monday, April 30, 2012

Shrinky Bracelet

If you grew up in the 80's, like I did, you're probably already familiar with the awesomeness that is Shrinky Dinks...but did you know that you can still buy Shrinky Dinks? Yep, they're still out there - in craft stores, hobby shops, and even on Amazon. But you don't have to buy a Shrinky Dink kit to have all the fun. Just look for #6 plastic containers and you can make your own!

There is a great tutorial on Instructables (courtesy of Dabbled) with all the instructions for making your own shrinky projects from #6 plastic containers, so I won't go into too much detail here. Most of this post is actually about turning these awesome little pieces of plastic into a sweet bracelet (and bonus pendant) to give to mom for Mother's Day. (Attention Dads: This project involves permanent markers, melting plastic, and tools...and your kids will think it's totally cool.) 

1. Find a #6 plastic container (the one I used was from our grocery store bakery) and wash it in warm soapy water. Make sure to remove any stickers or sticky residue and dry thoroughly.

2. Cut out a flat piece of plastic and draw your design on it using permanent markers. I had Abe scribble on the plastic before cutting it into smaller shapes, but you could cut out the shapes first if your little artist is able to work on such a tiny canvas. Note: Dark colors will appear black after shrinking so use those sparingly!

3. Cut plastic into smaller pieces (mine were 1½ by 1¾ inches before shrinking), and use a standard hole punch to make a hole in each corner. 

4. Using scissors or a nail clipper, trim the corners to make rounded edges. You may be able to sand down the edges after baking, but you won't be able to cut them with scissors anymore and they will be sharp!

5. Preheat your oven to 350⁰ F and bake the plastic pieces on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for a few minutes. They should begin to curl after about 30 seconds. Just watch them. They'll curl up a couple times and eventually flatten out. Once they're flat they're done shrinking.

6. Remove from oven and let cool. Once the pieces are cool you can coat them with a protective finish if you want. (See Dot's instructions for more information about that.)

7. Attach the beads to each other using 6 mm jump rings (available at most craft stores).

Use a pair of pliers to open the rings. Insert open end into hole on bead, attach to ring on next bead, and clamp shut. I used two links between each bead.

8. Add additional rings if necessary to fit your wrist and attach a lobster clasp for closure.

Surprise mom with a priceless piece of jewelry made by her little artists! 

I was also able to make a pendant from a long, skinny piece I had left over after cutting apart the "beads" for the bracelet. Just punch a hole in the top, add a jump ring after baking, and attach to a cord or chain.

Cute, right? I may start wearing it every day!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Spin Art

Last week we had one of those miserable rainy winter days..."too wet to go out and too cold to play ball" we stayed inside and made spin art for the wall! I pinned this salad spinner art project months ago, so I'm happy we finally got around to trying it out.

We used a $2.99 salad spinner from Ikea - can't beat that for cheap! (My salad spinner doesn't have any drainage holes on the bottom so this was actually a fairly clean project, but if your spinner has drainage holes, be sure to put it on a cookie sheet or something that will contain the mess!) 

Cut a piece of paper to fit the bottom of your spinner (stick it to the spinner basket with a piece of rolled up tape to prevent the paper from shifting around while spinning), pour in some paint, and give it a spin!

Abe loved spinning it! Never seen him giggle so much over a painting project before. He loves to spin though...sitting in desk chairs, while dancing, playing least this kind of spinning doesn't make me dizzy.

He's a little young to understand the whole concept of primary and secondary colors but, just for fun, we experimented with mixing primary colors to see what we ended up with when they got mixed together. Great project for preschoolers! (And yes, his cardboard house doubles as a drying rack for art projects. Convenient, eh?)

The paint we were using was pretty thin so we didn't get any awesome results, but we had fun and I was able to use a few of the pieces to make Abe a nameplate for his bedroom door. I half expected him to tear it down by the end of the day, but it's been up for almost a week now and he hasn't touched it. I guess he's finally learning to recognize a masterpiece...and probably wondering why I didn't put a velvet rope in front of it. ;-)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Plant Markers

Yesterday Abe and I planted a bunch of seeds in the vegetable garden. It's about a month early for planting up here, but I'm hoping the weather will stay nice so we can have a long growing season. Given my luck though, it will probably snow tomorrow...

Illustrated plant markers for the vegetable garden.

I made these illustrated plant markers for the garden using the plain white ones I got from the Easter bunny, and my trusty set of Sharpies. Aren't they sweet? Now I just need my garden to grow!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring Break

Sometimes you just need to take a little time off to play...

See you next week!

Oh, and if you want to know how to make an animated gif like the one above, check out this tutorial at Hank & Hunt.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Happy Easter!

I hope everyone had a happy Easter! We spent most of the day at grandma's house, although we did wake up early enough to find some Easter goodies at home before heading off to church.

Most of the eggs either had a few small pieces of candy or little toys in them. Abe really liked the sparkly puff balls he found in one egg. 

Since I really wanted him to eat something besides candy for breakfast, I "hid" an egg filled with cereal on his highchair tray. It worked! He ate breakfast before we left and was content and snuggley during mass. 

Oh, and in case anyone's wondering...for Abe's Easter basket, I picked up a plain basket at Joann Fabrics and wrapped a polka ribbon around the rim to dress it up. Then I ran a couple sheets of green tissue paper through my shredder to make the grass. It's still sitting in the living room and he digs through it every morning looking for goodies. After checking all the eggs and finding that they're empty, he brings them to me and (just like he did with our empty advent boxes) asks for "cee-rawl" or candy.

So after a couple major blow-outs where I got Abe all dressed up for church (first at his baptism and again at a funeral, possibly a wedding too but I can't remember anymore), and his outfit ended up destroyed before anyone even got to see it, I decided not to push my luck and stopped buying nice outfits for special occasions. So for Easter, I put together this outfit which consists of a sweater he got for Christmas, a navy blue polo onesie I bought on sale, and a pair of hand-me-down pants. I had pulled out a pair of brown leather dress shoes for Abe to wear, and left Noah to get him ready while I got dressed. As I was brushing my hair in the bathroom I could hear Noah saying “Let’s put on your fancy shoes.” Then I heard Abe whine, “No. Other fancy shoes!” followed by Noah saying “no” a couple times and more whining/crying from Abe. A few seconds later the bathroom door slowly opens and there’s Abe, with tears in his eyes, holding his new tennis shoes. I decided they were fancy (and clean) enough to wear to church, and I must admit…he looked pretty darn cute! (Not to mention the gray and yellow shoes look way better with those pants than brown leather ever could!) So yeah, I'm the mom who let's her kid wear tennis shoes on dressy occasions... 

Last year we still had snow on the ground at this point in April, so it was nice that the day was sunny and relatively warm. No one wants to hunt for Easter eggs in the snow!

By the way, our spring link up is still open. Stop by before Friday to share your Easter projects!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Watercolor Painting with Leftover Egg Dye

Not many art projects can beat dyeing Easter eggs, but once the fun is over that leftover dye can still be put to good use...

I set Abe up with a piece of watercolor paper, some leftover dye, and a bunch of different utensils to work with. He loved using the old medicine droppers to squirt color on the paper!

Here's his finished masterpiece before I picked it up and all the colors ran together. Ugh. Sometimes it helps to plan ahead... His highchair has a removable tray that snaps onto this one. Next time I'll have to remember to use that so I can pop it off and move his artwork without messing everything up! 

Once the dye was dry, I cut out egg shapes from some of the sections that weren't completely ruined and made an Easter egg mobile. Abe loves eggs so these may stay up well beyond Easter!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Dyeing Easter Eggs

Abe and I dyed a few more eggs using this recipe for making dye with food coloring.

I wish I had mixed up a batch of orange and purple (since those are the two colors he is constantly talking about), but I figured dipping an egg in yellow and then red would result in orange, and red + blue would make purple. See the picture at the end to see how well that worked out...

Is there anything better than a craft project that involves colored water and EGGS?! 

He was having so much fun I couldn't resist making a video...

Usually he stops to say "movie" about 10 times whenever I take out the video camera. I guess he was too focused on his eggs to notice what I was doing.

The "orange" egg is the redish one on the right. The purple egg worked out alright, but the pink showed through quite a bit. They sure look different from the naturally dyed eggs I made the other day. Abe's masterpiece is the speckled yellow, pink, and green number in the back row. It was so smashed up I had to throw it out, but he sure had fun making it! 

How does your garden grow?

We had an unusually warm winter this year, which has led to an early (and hot) spring. Plants that normally don't poke up until mid-April are here and getting ready to bloom! 

I transplanted these Siberian Squill, that I found growing behind our garage, to a sunny spot under the apple tree. After taking this picture I went to check on another garden in the back corner of the yard. A minute later I heard Abe behind me saying "Mama. Tank eww. Tank eww, Mama." When I turned around he handed me this...

...the first flower he ever picked for me! So sweet. Of course I thanked him and gave him hugs and kisses, so naturally by the end of the day I ended up with this...

...the heads picked off of all the flowers in the garden. Oh well, at least he didn't eat the leaves as well. Bunnies are far less considerate! 

Other plants coming up around the yard include...


Russian Sage



Citrus Mint


Creeping Thyme



Sweet Pea

Abe and I planted some lettuce and sweet peas in the garden a few weeks back. The lettuce came up three days later, and now we have a bunch of peas poking up as well. My pea vines always wither and die before I get any peas so I'm hoping this yer will be different...although it's been so warm, I probably should have planted them in January!


See more on my sad little peony here. It's looking robust and healthy this year, although I had to dig it out a bit last year because it didn't bloom. Hopefully I'll get some of those crazy gorgeous flowers again this year!



Tulips! My favorite.

See some garden photos from previous years herehere, and here. Does anyone else get as excited about stuff poking out of the ground as I do? I seem to photograph it every year!