Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Owl Ornament

Like many, I am becoming owl obsessed.  They are all over Pintrest, made out of clay, fabric, and even cake, and they are all so cute

This little guy is one of my favorites.  It is a quick project that can be made in any size so it is a great way to use up scraps of fabric.  I have a parliament of these little guys just waiting for their chance to adorn many Christmas presents.

At some point I checked out a tutorial on how to make him. Unfortunately I didn't bookmark the site and am unable to give proper credit to the originator of this idea.  If you know where it originally came from please let me know, in the mean time here is my tutorial on how to make this little guy.


  • 2 pieces of fabric, they should be the same size
  • Felt, for eyes and beak
  • Stuffing (Poly Fil)
  • Place right sides of fabric together. Fold in half and cut a cone or teardrop shape.  The teardrop shapes will make a squat fat owl, while the cone will make a skinnier shape.

  • With wrong sides together sew the edges together, leaving the bottom open.  Turn right side out.   With the stitch setting set to the longest length run a row of stitching around the base.  Be sure to leave long thread tails, as you will use these to gather the fabric.  

  • Add Poly Fil. 

  • Carefully pull thread tails to close the bottom.

  •  Cut a circle of felt that is just slightly smaller than the base of the owl.  Hand stitch to attach. 

  • Fold top of cone over and stitch down.

  • Add eyes and beak.  For his eyes and beak you can use felt, beads or scraps of fabric.  For this guy I used fabric scraps that had iron-on adhesive on the back.  I just gently ironed it on then stitched around the eyes.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Turkey Hands

The kids and I have been making these little guys every year since my son was 2.  They make a great centerpiece on the Thanksgiving table and are a nice memory of what we are thankful for each year.  

  • Brown foam sheets
  • Orange foam sheets
  • Feathers
  • Small Styrofoam balls
  • Brown paint
  • Gold glitter glue
  • Googly eyes

With the brown paint, paint the Styrofoam ball, some years I have added some glitter to the brown paint for a more funky turkey.  This year the kids rolled the balls in small bowls, but they can easily be painted using foam brushes.

While the Styrofoam dries trace child's hand onto foam, then cut.  Glue feathers onto fingers of the foam hand.  Make a small slit in Styrofoam ball.  Run a small bead of glue along the base of the hand, then slide into the slit in the ball.  

Cut orange foam into the shape of feet, or just a circle, and attach to the styrofoam ball.  Add googly eyes and beak. 

On the back of our turkeys we write what the child is thankful for.  

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mug Rugs

If you have scrap fabric here is a great way to use it up and make some holiday gifts.  I am making a bunch to give to the kids' teachers, our neighbors and some of my girlfriends.  You can give one with a mug and a few cookies tucked inside or you can give a collection of mug rugs.  I am going to have each kid make one for the grandparents.  This is especially entertaining to me because most of the fabric we are using came from my Mom who cleaned out her fabric stash and gave it on to my oldest daughter as a birthday present.

I have been making my rugs approximately 6x10, but the size can easily be adjusted.  The design options are endless.  Recently I  have been making Christmas themed pictures, but you can do anything.  I like looking through my kids coloring books for simple images.  Coloring books provide a nice breakdown of the image and are great for copying.

Mug are a great beginner quilter project.  You have the opportunity to practice many quilting and applique techniques without having to invest a lot of time and fabric into a larger project.  The end result is a wonderful piece that can be done in an afternoon.

Applique Mug Rug

  • Assorted fabric scraps
  • 2 larger pieces of fabric, approximately 6x10  
  • Light weight fusible interfacing
  • Thin cotton batting
  • Iron fusible interfacing to the back of fabric scraps.  You can either cut your fabric into the desired shape then iron on the interfacing or you can adhere the interfacing, then cut the shapes.  

  • Arrange fabric pieces onto the front of one of the 6x10 pieces of fabric.  This is the time to have fun, cut a variety of shapes in different fabrics and layer the pieces to give texture and detail.  
  • Once you are happy with the arrangement iron the fabric into place.  

  • Stitch pieces into place.  Again this is the time to have fun and to add detail.  The pieces can be stitched along the edges or different stitch types can be used to add design. 
  • Sandwich top, batting and backing.  Keeping the backing and batting slightly larger than the top pin all three layers together.  
  • Quilt three layers together.  Choose a quilt pattern that will help enhance your image, stitch in the ditch, stipple, break out the fancy stitch settings you never use - the choice is yours!

  • Trim edges and add binding.   

Indian Corn

Maggie had a play date yesterday and the girls were having a hard time getting into a good playing groove.  I left them alone for a a bit and they played side by side each doing her own thing.  When they got bored with that they began fighting and getting upset that the other wouldn't do what she wanted.   Even though I try not to interfere too much with play dates I could tell the girls need some help figuring it out.

I didn't ask them what they wanted to do, I just told them I was going to get some paints out and was going to go make some Thanksgiving decorations, if they wanted to join me they could.  Maggie helped get the supplies out, but Cassidy didn't seem interested.  Once we sat down to work both girls joined in, I showed them what I thought we could do and everyone began working quietly.  After a few minutes I left the table, I was gone maybe 20 seconds when I heard a lot of giggling coming from the room.  I went to check on them to find them swirling the paint together.  Combing the beautiful orange and yellow with the brown, making a bowl of dull brown paint.

I didn't get as many ears of corn as I had hoped, but the activity definitely changed the tone of the play date, for the better.  It is always good to have a few projects ready to go.  Weather for a play date or just a regular day, having a little activity ready to go can often help get things back on track.

Indian Corn Banner

  • Paints - orange, yellow, red, brown
  • Construction paper - light brown or yellow and green  
  • Q-tips
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Yarn
Using the q-tips to make dots cover the light brown/yellow paper, let dry.  While paint is drying cut corn husk shapes out of the green paper.  Once the paint is dry cut out into the shape of an ear of corn.  Glue corn husks onto corn.  Punch hole in top of each ear of corn and thread onto yarn.  

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dot Paints

Ever since my earlier post on dot paints I have been thinking about them almost to the point of obsession and I have come to the realization that we use dot paints a lot.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Practicing letters and numbers,  I draw the letter and the kids go over the lines with the dot paints

Making dot to dot pictures

Doing addition and subtraction

Copying patterns

They are great in the car.  On long road trips print a map of where you are going, have the kids put dots down for where you stop or the route you take.
And of course they are great for playing BINGO

Wrapping Paper

We usually make our own wrapping paper, mostly because I can never remember to buy it and we don't ever seem to have enough or the right type on hand when it is needed.  I also like to have the kids make something and spend time thinking about the recipient.

One of our favorite ways to make wrapping paper is to use dot paints.  I love dot paints, they can be used to make such cool pictures and it is something all kids can use regardless of age or ability.  When doing wrapping paper I usually just role out a big sheet of paper and let them go at it.

As with any project sometimes the result is a beautiful piece of work while other times the results are less than what I had hoped for.  This past weekend each of the kids was invited to a birthday party - this was a first for us, to have all three kids at a different party at the same time.  Three parties plus three gifts equals lots of wrapping paper. Instead of having each kid make their own sheet of wrapping paper I decided to have them work together to make one big sheet of paper.  It was a beautiful fall day so we headed outside.  I rolled out one huge sheet of paper and set them to work.  I had big hopes for a nice piece of work that showed both individuality and cooperation, unfortunately that is not what I got.

About 2 minutes after starting my son had walked away because his sisters where not doing what he wanted.  The girls decided that it would be much more fun to stamp their feet and run up and down on the paper.  Now this type of creativity is great, but it didn't seem very thoughtful which is what I was trying to get them to focus on.  It was time to refocus.

I went back to working on smaller pieces of paper, one sheet for each gift.  I still wanted them to work together.  Each child got to be the leader for the paper that would be used on their gift.  That child got to choose 4 colors of paint and the rules for painting.  There had to be a pattern in how the paper was made, but it didn't matter what that pattern was.

For example the leader could:
make six dots, then everybody else did six dots.
make a circle, then everybody else did a circle
make dots on every side of the page, then everybody would follow
ask everybody to stamp on the dots she just made

It was fun to see what they came up with and how well each could explain the pattern and follow the pattern that was given.

The paper definitely looked like they made it, but it looked like they made it with a little bit of thought and care, which was the goal of the project.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon When You Take the North "Poll

I have been a fan of Melissa and Doug for about 6 year.  My love for their products occurred when we received one of their block puzzles as a baby gift after my son was born.  He was too little to use it, but we enjoyed it as room decor until he was old enough to use the puzzle.  

All of their products are beautifully and well made.  They can handle baby drool and big kid abuse.  I often get Melissa and Doug products as birthday gifts because they offer a lot of classic toys, toys that don't require batteries, but imagination.  I can always find a gift in a reasonable price range that both my kids and I are happy to give.  

Melissa & Doug want you to tell them which of their educational toys you think is the best! Just click on the image below to place your vote in the North "Poll!" You'll Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon** to use at just for voting!

So head on over to the North "Poll" and cast your vote.  

I had a tough time deciding how to vote.  I finally voted for the giraffe, I have been in love with him for about 3 years, but I was very tempted by the family dinner box of questions and you can never have enough blocks in the house.  But oh that giraffe is so cute I couldn't say no to him.  

Go vote! 

Monday, November 7, 2011


Please bear with me while I figure out what this new blog is.  I have ideas, but I haven't found a clear focus yet so these early posts will be a jumbled assortment.   I don't home school, but we do a lot of activities that I want to record.  I also want to record craft projects I am working on and that I am doing with the kids.  There is a lot of crossover between these areas as I am discovering my daughter learns best when she uses a variety of different mediums.

I am hoping to use this space as a place for me to reflect on what I am learning and what my kids are learning.  Whether it is a new craft technique or the ABC's I want to be able to look back and see where we started and where we are going.  Please share your thoughts and suggestions because those are what will help us grow.