Sunday, January 29, 2012

* Valentine's Day Craft: Re-Cycled Card Basket

Here's a fun project from my archives to help you recycle 
those Valentine's Day cards that will be arriving shortly.

Last year, we recycled some of our favorite  
Valentine's Day Cards into a card basket/bowl of our own!

To start, I printed out a template I found here
I traced it onto a piece of manilla file folder (sturdier for multiple tracings).

They also have great directions--
that I should have followed instead of just winging it.

You'll need 14 cards for this project
(or kid drawings on cardstock!)

You'll trace 12 "side" pieces 
and 2 "bottom" pieces. 

They used white glue and I didn't --
my life would have been easier if I had tacked mine
together with a dab of glue. 

My pieces kept slipping around and that wasn't 
fun during the sewing part. 

You'll use a hole punch to punch holes evenly
around the edges of each piece and yarn 
(or embroidery thread) with a fat embroidery needle
to sew the basket together.

Here's the bottom.
Like I said, should have followed the directions --
this is not the best sewing job!

Side View.... (I'll just say the kid's sewed it, not their incompetent mother)

It does make a handy little bowl to hold your treasures!

Happy Re-Cycled Crafting!

Pink and Green Mama

Thursday, January 26, 2012

* Valentine's Day Themed Sensory Rice Box With Scented Pink Rice

"C" and I were inspired by all of the cute 
Pink (her favorite color) and Red Valentine Displays
at Target this week and decided we should make a 
Valentine-themed sensory box!

We made a quick batch of pink rice
I used Gel Food Coloring for the first time and the color is fantastic!
I am a convert. 
We also used Rubbing Alcohol instead of our usual hand sanitizer gel method
and it blended the colors really nicely and dried more quickly. 
(We used one big bag of white rice from Walmart for this box)

I also added a few drops of Lavender essential oil this time
and the rice smells wonderful,
it also makes your hands smell nice after you've been playing in it!

For this batch we used (1) 5lb. bag of white long grain rice.
I put it in a big mixing bowl and squeezed in a drizzle of red gel food coloring.
Then, I tossed in a little bit of rubbing alcohol, 
probably a capful or two. 
Then we stirred it up with a big mixing spoon.
Keep adding bits of food coloring and a little alcohol 
(to distribute it and make it soak into the rice)
until you have the color you want. 

NOTE: As you stir and the color "develops" it will get a bit darker and richer
so if you're going for lighter colors take your time and give it a minute
before you add more color!

You can also dye uncooked pasta/noodles this same way for other projects.

We added three clear heart boxes from the Dollar Spot at Target,
they're fun to use as boxes to sort into-
they'll be great for our light table too!

We also picked up some smaller pink and red mini heart boxes 
and pink heart shaped "gems" all from Target Dollar spot.
So for $4, we got all of these fun new goodies for our box.

"C" made me boxes of valentine candy all afternoon. 

I also added our mini metal mail box from last Valentine's day,
a set of red measuring spoons from our kitchen (Dollar Tree)
a red funnel, and an ice cream scoop. 

See those cute little paper hearts? 
Those are from little toothpick toppers, the kind that come with 
co-ordinating cupcake liners. 
We picked them up at Dollar Tree last week. 
We use them to make lunches and snacks "fancy" 
After we eat with them, I snap off the tops 
(without any pokey or sharp parts sticking out)
and toss them into our sensory boxes. 

I almost forgot, they had this cute silicone heart pan in the 
Dollar Spot at Target too!  (So I guess I spend $5)
Fun for counting and sorting heart gems and little toothpick toppers. 

"C" playing with her Valentine box in the playroom,
waiting for big sister to get home from school and join in the fun! 

Happy Valentine Play! 

Pink and Green Mama

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

* Kid-Friendly Spaces and Toy Storage Solutions In Our Home

I am really enjoying my online Playful Learning Spaces e-class with the 
lovely and talented, Mariah Bruehl 
(you might know her from a fun little blog and book called Playful Learning)

I recently shared some of the successful kid-friendly spaces in our home
on our class' Flickr page
and thought you might find some inspiration in them as well! 
(Warning: Get ready for a photo heavy and wordy post!)

I have found that having kid-friendly, proportional, 
accessible and organized spaces
make our home run much more smoothly.

I'll start your tour with our Play Room. 

Our formal "dining room" is our playroom. 

Along the wall in our playroom I assembled book cases from Staples office store 
and used paper covered foam core to color the back of each shelf. 
You could also use cute wrapping paper. 

Toys are in square (photo labeled) bins from Target.

The wire along the duct work is from Ikea and the flash cards

These are the laminated photo labels I have tied onto each bin with bits of ribbon. 
The labels are made with Scotch Brand self laminating pouches 
from the office supply area at Walmart/Target/Kmart. 

This bin holds Playmobil sets.

This bin holds our puppets.

Everything is labeled with photos
so kids, friends, and babysitters know how to clean up quickly.
Everything has it's own place or home, just like a classroom.

Here are some skinny plastic bins 
we use to store various toys and light table materials. 
I may add some photo labels 
but the girls like seeing through the bins to know what they're getting out.

Wooden blocks in a sturdy basket at kid (floor) level in the playroom.

The dress up clothes are in the rotating stand 
to the left of the Ikea bookcase.
I found the dress up stand online many years ago. 

We have curtains (Pottery Barn, discontinued) hanging to provide privacy 
from our kitchen eating area at night 
and make a fun background for plays and puppet shows.

Here is a corner in our Family Room.

This is our "block corner" it has Duplos, Legos, Wooden Blocks, 
and small wooden toys for building "Lands" 

The boom box is for our "Listening Center" 
with headphones, books and CDs/Tapes in the small basket in the corner.

The listening center books are on the right hand upper shelf. 
The left hand upper shelf holds Legos and a binder with lego instructions/ideas. 
The lower left shelf holds my daughter's rock collection 
and the wooden crate holds more of their seashell and nature collection.

Here is the post I wrote about her Rock Collection.

Another view of the "block corner"

This is a small vertical Closet Maid unit from Target 
that we have laying on it's side behind our couch in our family room. 
The square storage bins (also from Target) hold toys and puzzles, 
the table is great for drink glasses, snacks, and remote controls while watching TV.

Now we'll go upstairs and visit C's Room.

This is our 4 year old daughter, C's room. 

She has access to her books, 
toys are stored in the lower cabinets with doors, 
a small play kitchen on the right wall,
 and a small (kid-size) table and chairs 
that she uses for coloring and having tea parties with her stuffed animals.

The table is an awful Disney Princess table set we got at Kmart 
a few years ago, I was going to repaint it but then I put the cute table cloth 
on it and it's MUCH better (and I didn't have to paint!)

You can see the corner of her "sticker board" collection hanging on her door.
It's a piece of foam core hanging from a ribbon that she is 
allowed to stick on any stickers she gets from school, doctor's appointments, etc.

C's book nook. 
This is her little reading corner in her room. 
She enjoys sitting in her little chair and flipping through books. 
We select 4-5 books to read together every night at bedtime as well. 
The doll house book case came from Target a few years ago, 
square bins are Closet Maid also form Target, 
the tiny toile arm chair was a first birthday gift to my oldest daughter 8 years ago. 

Close-up of the shelves in my daughter's room. 
The bins are nice for paperback scholastic books. 

They aren't in a specific order but we do keep some books together, 
for example all of the Maisy Books, Curious George, Eric Carle, etc. are together. 
I'll put other groupings together too: halloween books in one stack, winter-theme, etc. 

She does flip through them easily because they're all facing the same direction 
it's easier to see the covers than looking at spines on a shelf since she's not reading yet. 


C's books are arranged by color.

Here is E's room. 

There are built in book cases in E's room (age almost 9). 
Some of my art books are in here because we don't have anywhere else to store them 
(her room used to be our guest room) 
I added the bins for her to store stuffed animals, coloring books, 
knitting supplies, and various papers. 
The square bins are Closet Maid from Target/Walmart. 
The "dotty" plastic bins were from Target's Dollar bin section last spring.
That's our homemade Fairy House on the floor in front of the bookcase.

E's Desk.
This is a desk we rescued out of our neighbor's trash a few years ago. 
We gave it a makeover with white and purple spray paint. 
The mini shelf with the little bins is "Closet Maid" from Target. 
She sits here to draw her fashion sketches, fold Origami, 
and draw cartoons in the morning and after school. 

And...Yes that is her terrarium in the corner. 
Her pet garden snail "Tiny" lives in it, she's had him for 4 years. : )

This is on the other wall in E's room.
 Books and a few of her favorite collectibles on display. 
It's her own space to arrange as she wishes.
She is very tidy and likes everything in it's proper place (just like her mom!)

E's tall bookcase in her room.
One of my older daughter's bookcases in her room. 
She keeps most of her "reference" library on these shelves. 
It's her favorite book "genre". 
Her American Girl dolls and doll clothes are stored in the lower cabinet.

Let's go back downstairs to the Kitchen.

Kid dishes in our kitchen.
This is where I keep bowls and cups at "kid level" 
so the girls can get their own cups of water and snacks. 
This is in that little drawer under the ovens 
that is too small to use for much of anything.

They use glass dishes and cups too, 
but they're in a higher up cabinet that I get down for them. 
This is just for their own snacks and drinks for the girls and their friends 
to grab when they're playing or out in the yard.
It's an odd assortment of dishes from Ikea and Target.

This wall in our kitchen table eating area is where we display the kid's school art projects. 

I used old frames and bulletin board cork material to make a rotating gallery space. 
They are backed with foam core and 
I use thumbtacks or push pins to hold up the art work.

Here is our Art Studio.

When we moved into this house we decided to use 
our very large "formal" living room as our art studio space. 
The large cabinets along the wall are Ikea Kitchen Islands, 
they have nice deep drawers and shelves for art supplies. 
The little green table and stools are also from Ikea 
- the girls do most of their projects here. 

I re-arrange this space depending on what kind of project we're working on.
I have a big fold up picnic style table I set up in the middle of the room 
for art classes and camps. 

Watercolor Basket. 
I was inspired by Mariah and another classmate to move our watercolors to a basket 
so the girls have everything they need whenever they want to paint.
 I included two tablets of watercolor paper, 
a small roll of paper towels, paints, brushes, a glass jar (for water), 
a small and extra fine tip sharpie, a sharpened pencil 
and some water-soluble watercolor crayons and pencils.

The girls loved having easy access to the new watercolor basket
and jumped right in to creating with it!

Re-purposed Diaper Caddy = Portable Writing and Art Center
I converted our old diaper caddy from Pottery Barn
to hold markers, crayons, paper, etc.
Portable and easy for the girls to tote around wherever they need it.
Also great for homework time at the kitchen table. 

Click here to tour our Kid-Friendly Spaces
Backyard Makeover! 

I hope you enjoyed your tour of our kid-friendly play spaces!

Pink and Green Mama 

Monday, January 23, 2012

* Chinese New Year Paper Lantern Craft and Japanese Brush Painting Center

The girls and I decided to get crafty yesterday
and make some paper lanterns to decorate
our kitchen for Chinese New Year. 

It has been gross, gray, icy drizzle here for the past three days
so I apologize in advance for my too dark photos in our dark house. 

We started out by stamping sheets of red construction paper
with some leaf and vine shaped stamps with gold ink. 
Then we added some Do-A-Dot marker dots with red and yellow metallic ink
for a bit more contrast. 

Then, we folded the papers in half ("hot dog" style) 
and cut equally spaced slits (like fringe) along the folded edge.
We were careful not to cut all the way to the edge and left a paper "lip" 
Then, we just rolled them into cylinders, stapled at both ends,
punched in a couple of holes and strung them up with red string
by our kitchen table. 

Another too dark photo. 
We've had the lights on and the heat cranking for three days. 
The power bill should be awesome this month. 

I also set up this little surprise for the girls.
I love to leave little areas like this out for them to discover and play with.
They've both been visiting it and leaving little designs 
and notes for the past 24 hours. 

I set out our "Buddha Board"with a lovely ceramic tray,
bamboo brush, and a Sake cup with water. 
I also set out a Chinese New Year red envelope with a small note
that has the characters for Faith, Hope, and Love on a mini easel. 
Ours is the Japanese Brush Painting Set from 

Wishing you and your family a happy new lunar year.
May the Year of the Dragon be the best one yet!

Pink and Green Mama

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