August 31, 2016

Rug Expedition

Having sent both of my boys back to school this week, I am trying to establish a new routine here at home. I've been working on projects that have been put aside for years (hello basement floor cluttered with nuts, bolts and tools!), decluttering, and making things more efficient for our family. I'm lucky to have this time for myself and our home, before I start the process of heading back to work.

Our living room has been the focus of much of my attention.  I moved a lot of the toys upstairs which left some space for a homework area. My third grader will be needing a spot to work, so this space will have a desk and comfortable (but not too comfortable) chair.
 For the moment, it's been used as a reading nook, as the desk is backordered until later in September.
There are still a few open-ended toys in this spot, like blocks and magnet tiles stored in baskets and bins.  One major addition to the space is a new area rug from Rug Expedition.
It's a faux silk rug, on the thin side but very plush and comfortable underfoot.  The boys enjoy lying on it when setting up blocks for their toy cars.  I admit I've had to tell my eldest multiple times that he cannot have the rug in his bedroom, he's that enamored of its soft feel.
The rug is a classic one from KAS in a slate blue Damask pattern.  The blue is such a great tone, and I think the variations in the pattern will prohibit dirt and stains from showing up too much (what can I say, life with two boys).
 I think it will wear well in the years to come.  I'll post some more pics when that desk finally arrives.
In the meantime, consider checking out Rug Expedition. They're a small, family-owned company that would be delighted to have your business.
Disclosure: I received an area rug from Rug Expedition.com in exchange for an honest review of the product.  All opinions are my own.

October 14, 2014

Make a Personalized Trick or Treat Bucket

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Halloween.  I love to cover my house in pumpkins, skulls and all other things spooky.  The fall tends to reignite my desire to craft, so naturally I make a few new things for Halloween each year.

This weekend I decorated buckets for my sons for Halloween.  Over the years, we've most used bags, but I love the look and durability of a bucket.
When Jam Paper contacted me recently about partnering with them on a fall-themed craft, I knew just what I wanted to make.  Fortunately, they sell reasonably priced and beautiful colored buckets (along with a huge variety of paper supplies, of course) which are perfect not just for trick or treating, but for so many other things.
I started with two of their large colored buckets, one green, one black, as well as a few packages of colored gift label stickers.  I also chose a sheet of letter stickers to personalize the buckets with my sons' names.
I needed a pair of scissors and some yellow grosgrain ribbon for extra decoration too.

This was an easy craft to make, especially that you're essentially just creating a collage with the colored stickers.  I started on the Frankenstein bucket and made some jagged purple hair for my monster using the purple Jam Gift Label Stickers.
I determined that I'd need 4 to go across the front of the bucket horizontally, and then I make a jagged "hair line" along the bottom edge of the stickers.
It was as simple as peeling off the back of the sticker and lining the stickers up along the bucket rim to create Frank's hair.
You actually don't notice the seam in person; it's just noticeable here due to where the light was hitting it.

Continue making Frankenstein's face in the same manner, cutting some zigzag black pieces for the eyebrows and mouth, maybe orange and black for the eyes.
Then I stuck on the face.  In the case of this monster, I think the simpler the better when it comes to designing the face.
I did put a few spooky words like "boo!" and "eek!" along the sides of the head, and some letter "t's" made nice Frankenstein bolts.
I added my son's name on the back too, by cutting out a tombstone shaped sticker and adding RIP plus his name under it.
For the black bucket, I wanted to make it resemble one of those vintage black cat designs.  I used the same technique of cutting out pieces to create a cat face.
Green eyes,
an orange nose and a jagged orange mouth (made from two long strips of sticker pieced together)
and some purple ears and whiskers.  I added some white accents around the eyes, ears, and between the nose and mouth with white label stickers.
To add a bit more flair, I tied some strands of grosgrain ribbon on the bucket handles at each side.
I think they look adorable!  They'll be a great way to hold treats on Halloween night.
I happened to have some extra large glow-in-the-dark stickers lying around, so I used them to add my younger son's name on the back of his bucket.
The possibilities are endless for decorating these buckets, and because you can peel/wash off the stickers (they're sturdy, but still are removable) you could use this bucket throughout the year or change out the design each Halloween.

You can find more craft ideas on Jam Paper's blog, as well as on their Facebook and Pinterest pages.
Disclosure: I received sample products from Jam Paper and Envelope to facilitate the making of this project.  All opinions and ideas here are my own.

May 7, 2014

A Kids' Tinkering Kit

For Soren's birthday (over a month ago--this post is long overdue), I thought that turning six was a perfect time to give him his own tinkering kit, with "real" tools.
It would be a box of items that he will hopefully use for tinkering and building, especially that he is so drawn to that kind of creative play (um, Legos anyone?).
Here he is above, working in his "construction site."  Though you can't see them (they're buried or out of frame), he's repurposed a lot of old bricks, pipes and wood scraps to build tunnels and other things.  I had all intentions on taking him to the Maker Faire when it came to town last month, but unfortunately we had family obligations.

Speaking of family, I have fond memories of my Pap Pap and his barn/woodshop filled with all kinds of interesting and odd items that he used in carpentry and other projects.  It was always fascinating imagining what some of those items might be used for.   An old bicycle seat?  It could have make a fantastic head for a garden sculpture.

Though we don't have an extensive collection of oddities like my Pap Pap, I wanted to make a little tinkering kit that Soren would hopefully use for his own projects and creations.
We already had a set of kids tools, purchased at Home Depot a few years ago, so all we needed was a place to store them as well as some odds and ends to encourage tinkering.

I bought a toolbox online and decorated it with stickers I picked up at the Dollar Tree.
It's a roomy tool box, and sturdy too, as it's made of metal.  The top tray isn't too big, but it holds enough.

I also added a hand drill and drill bits, which is a safer way for him to make holes in wood and other materials (hopefully no furniture!).
I found a lot of other odds and ends at the dollar store, like zip ties, binder clips, and cotton string.
It's something that I'm sure we'll add to in the future, depending on things that interest him.

Here's a list of some of the items to get you started on putting together a tinkering box for kids
  • twine, jute or other strings with a variety of thicknesses
  • zip ties
  • wire
  • binder clips
  • tweezers 
  • padlocks
  • hammer
  • wrench
  • screwdrivers
  • pliers
  • hand drill and bits
  • tape measure 
  • scissors
  • bungee cords
  • apron
  • tapes of various weights and sizes (masking, invisible tape, duct tape)
  • ruler
  • sandpaper
  • plastic caps from bottles
  • balsa wood pieces
The list goes on and on, and of course your child's interests will determine what's in the box.  What might you add to this list?

And as for the box, you could get a fancy, sturdy tool box or just use a plastic tote, canvas bag, shoe box or other storage container.  The point is to have a go-to place for your child to find materials when inspiration calls.  I have hope that this tinkering kit will help my son re-imagine and remake his world!

March 28, 2014

Easter Goodies from Stubby Pencil Studio {Giveaway}

I'm sure if you're a regular reader here, you'll know that I used to be an art teacher, and therefore have a fondness for art supplies, both kid and adult oriented ones.  I also like to think of myself as ecologically-minded, so when there's a craft or art material that involves recycling or uses natural ingredients, I'm all for it.
Stubby Pencil Studio is an online store I discovered a few years back which offers quite a variety of eco-friendly art supplies and craft materials. The products are not only safe for the environment but for people as well, using ingredients like soy and beeswax (not petroleum), as well as 100% recycled paper sketchbooks (not virgin trees), and pencils made from sustainably harvested wood and recycled newspapers (not vibrant forests).
Kate, owner of Stubby Pencil writes:  "I started this arts and crafts supply store to bring the safest, highest quality art materials to other families. You see, when my twins were toddlers, I wanted them to enjoy arts and crafts, but I didn’t want them exposed to chemicals. I tried to buy toxic-free, quality art supplies and I really had to search. Once I found products I was confident enough to give my own kids, I realized other moms would want these safe products for their kids, too."
Not only are their products ethically made, but they're cute and colorful too.  Wouldn't these make great Easter basket stuffers? 
My boys especially like the crayon rocks, but I definitely need to pick up some Smencils for them too.  Browsing their website is like being a kid in an eye candy store.
Who knew that such things as eco-highlighters existed?
This finger puppet robot is pretty cool too (there's a mermaid available too!)
Mary's Softdough is always a hit, and it's made with natural ingredients
And if you're thoughts are set on Easter, this kit is really adorable
My 6 year old loves to paint wooden objects, so I know he'd love this.

One very lucky reader is going to win this adorable suitcase filled with art supplies, all ready to give as a springtime or Easter gift!
Please enter via the Rafflecopter widget below, and best of luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

March 21, 2014

A Delectable Shepherd's Pie

I'm sharing my recipe for shepherd's pie over at a local-to-me blog today.
Not only is it tasty, but it moves my previous post down on the page so you don't have to look at the nasty kombucha SCOBY again (my husband thanked me; kombucha gives him the creeps).

Have a great weekend!
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