Friday, June 29, 2012

Homemade Salt Glitter

Glitter makes everything better!

With that mantra, it's a bit distressing when my craft cupboard runs bare and there are no sparkles to be found anywhere.  When that happens, I resort to making colored salt to use in place of glitter.  It twinkles and gives your crafts a bit of shimmer without breaking the bank.

Here is how I make homemade glitter:

First, put the desired amount of salt in a baggie.

Second, add a drop or two of liquid watercolor or food coloring.  I prefer watercolor, but that is only because it is washable.

Third, seal the bag and knead the salt and coloring together.  Do this until the coloring is evenly distributed.

Finally- create!  We used this batch for 3D Firework Art!

3D Firework Art

It's that time of year again-  when booms echo and flashes of color fill the night sky.

I knew it had arrived when the firework ads came tucked inside the local paper.  These innocent pieces of advertisement are eye candy for the little pyros I call children. Coupons, BOGO's, and more laying there for the children to ogle.  They sit and meticuosly plan how they are going to spend their pennies and saved money.  The boys know every price from memory and know exactly which tent houses the cheapest sparklers or artillery shells.

Okay, I know I should be thankful they are using their minds to calculate and read... 

However, this momma has a short fuse and doesn't want to imagine the final cost of these "so-called" bargains.  Years ago, the food program my daycare uses provided a fun craft in their monthly newsletter.  This is one of the most fun Fourth of July crafts I have stumbled upon.  It keeps the pyros in the family happy and allows me one hour where I don't have to hear pleas to buy more parachutes.

To make 3D Firework Art you will need a few items.  Although, due to dire craft supply shortage, we had to get creative by making an alternative to glitter using salt.  Get creative and let your little ones create their ideal firework display minus the booms and high costs.

Here is what you will need:
  • black construction paper
  • glue
  • glitter or glitter glue (we used homemade salt glitter-  you can find out how to make it here)
  • squares of tinfoil or colored pieces of tissue paper
  • pencil

Here is how you make 3D fireworks:
  • On your black paper, use glue to draw shoots and explosions in the night sky.
  • Sprinkle glitter over the glue and shake off the excess.

  • Now it's time to add your 3D stars and blooms.  Take your pencil and place the square of paper around the eraser.  Pinch around the end and press it onto a dab of glue.  Carefully, remove the pencil and VOILA! 

  • Let the paper dry and display.

How do you like to celebrate the Fourth?  This is what I probably will face:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Coffee Filter Butterflies

It was HOT!  So hot that the a/c hadn't stopped running and the children balked at the thought of going outside.  I had implimented a $1 fine for every person who left a door open and the masses started to complain.  Tempers started to flare and all the Curious George episodes on the DVR had been viewed.  By then, the temps pushed over 100 and we were in serious need of some cool fun.  I wasn't about to brave the sizzling concrete and crowded swimming pool, so I decided to crack out an old stand-by craft. 

I wanted to show the children how colors are mixed with primary colors.  I had the wee beasties form dots with markers on coffee filters.  Next, we added a drop or two of water.  As the water spread across the filter, the color broke down.  Now, they were able to see the the individual colors that comprised the original dot. 

Technically, this worked. 

However, two year olds are not interested in color spectrums or dissecting the formula for plum markers.  I demonstrated a few for the older boys and handed over the water.  They all created beautiful "stained glass" images.  The children enjoyed mixing new colors and getting their designs to run together. I did try to keep the patterns symmetrical, by having them only color one side.  

When completed, the butterflies flitter about and catch the sunlight.  To make these fun butterflies, here are the items you will need:

  • Coffee Filters
  • Markers
  • Water
  • Droppers or small sticks to "drop" water
  • Bobby pins-  but a lot of people use old fashioned clothes "pins"
  • String

Here is how we made our colorful friends:
  • Take your markers to draw or dot on one side of the coffee filter.  I folded the filters in half to create "hemispheres" and let the children choose which one to decorate when it was unfolded. 
  • Drop water on the colored side.
  • Fold over the clean side and press down.  The colors should transfer and duplicate the same design. Butterflies are symmetrical after all!  LOL
  • Unfold the filter and let dry.
  • When the filters are dry-  scrunch up or accordion fold the filters in the middle.  You are creating the butterfly's wings.
  • Slide a bobby pin down the middle.  I personally prefer bobby pins, because they are cheaper and sleeker than the traditional clothes pin. Use whatever you have on hand and prefer.
  • For large butterflies, use two coffee filters.  For small critters, use only one.
  • Finally, attach a piece of string and hang.

What did you make today?  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Last Minute Wedding Centerpieces

It's June and that means weddings...  A LOT of weddings.

I was in charge of decorations and catering recently for a family member's wedding.  In the beginning we had originally planned on 100 people attending so we made a handful of centerpieces for each table. We placed white lilies tucked in white square boxes with a black ribbon tied around the middle.  Inside we tucked small red flowers and attached one red butterfly.  They were beautiful!

On the night of the rehearsal the bride calculated a final tally for the guest list.  Our total headcount almost doubled and that required a lot more tables.  A LOT! 

I live in a small community and the nearest craft store or Wal-mart is almost an hour away.  We were in a bind and the only stores open were the local Dollar General and Bomgaars.  While the wedding party practiced at the Church, I dashed to the Dollar General to see what I could find to make more centerpieces.

I did have a few leftover ribbons and flowers, but nothing substantial.  What was a girl to do?  Luckily, God was smiling down on me and I was able to scrounge up about 10 more centerpieces.

Here is a list of what I found:
  • $1.00 wine goblets
  • $1.50 bags of red and black potpourri
  • $1.00 small white pillar candles
Here is what I did:
  • I overturned the wine glass and hot glued the pillar candle to the base.  This added height and made the candles more secure. 
  • Next, I tied a black ribbon around the candle about 3/4 of the way up.  This allowed the new centerpieces to be cohesive with the existing ones we already had made.
  • Finally, we added interesting pieces from the potpurri bag around the goblet.  A few candles had roses placed inside the goblet. 
The candles added ambiance and additional soft lighting for the reception.  Everyone commented on their elegance and didn't believe us that we found everything at the Dollar General!  These easy and reusable centerpieces could easily be adapted to fit other themes and colors.

For more frugal wedding ideas, be sure to check out Cents and Sensibilities:  A Frugal Companion For Planning A Wedding.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Banana Cookies

Today was the official first day of summer, but the skies were overcast and promising rain.  I had a house full of boys and Netflix decided to take a vacation, leaving them craving something to do.  Luckily, a neighbor had some over ripe bananas that needed to be used so she donated them to the cause.  The boys LOVE baking and I thought we would whip up something special.

Our palates are nearing banana bread overload, so I scrounged around for an old recipe I found in a church cookbook years ago.  The recipe reminds me of banana bread, but the texture is unique and offers us a new twist. 

These little cookies are the right size for small hands and they are so soft and sweet-  Perfect for a rainy day!

Here is what you will need:
  • 2-3 bananas mashed
  • 3/4 cup shortening (we used half butter/half shortening)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups flour

  • 6 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons milk
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups powder sugar
Here is what you do:
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease your cookie sheets.
  • Mix the bananas, shortening, brown sugar until creamy.

  • Add 1 egg, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 2 cups flour.   Mix well.
  • Drop a tablespoon of batter onto a greased cookie sheet.  They will spread as they cook, so I spaced them about 2 inches apart.

  • Bake them for about 8 minutes.  They will be soft-  not hard.  You will want to keep an eye on them to keep them from burning. 
  • Remove from oven and let cool.

  • Prepare the frosting:  Bring 6 tablespoons brown sugar, 4 tablespoons milk, and 4 tablespoons butter to a boil.  Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 2 cups powdered sugar.  Mix and let set for a few minutes before frosting the cookies.

  • Eat and Enjoy!

Do you have any fun ways to use old bananas?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Let's Have A "T" Party!

One of my favorite preschool activities is hosting a letter "Tt" party.  It's also one of our favorite ways to showcase the letter "Tt". 

Last week, the children and I hosted a picnic tea party in our yard.  We donned our old fashioned dresses and hats for the festivities.  It was a wonderful time and we even took a picture of our feast to enter in a contest.  It may be old school, but there is something magical about tea parties. 

Here are some ideas for hosting your "Tt" tea party:

  • Create invitations and have the children practice writing the letter "Tt's" on the front and their names inside.
  • Use real tea service-  the children love using "grown up" cups and silver.
  • Serve foods that begin with the letter "T".  Listed is a sampling of your delicacies:  tiny triangle tuna sandwiches, Tootsie rolls, tarts, tangerines, taffy, tiny hot dogs on a toothpick, tiramisu, tic tacs, etc.  Get creative! 
  • Serve sugar cubes to mix with their tea.  I am probably going to get a lot of slack for that comment, but the children ADORE taking "one lump or two" and stirring their drink.  It's not an everyday treat and makes this activity memorable.
  • Dress the part.  Have participants dress in their finest or furnish fancy dresses, ties, hats, and gloves for the children to don.
  • Teach them basic manners.  I know this doesn't follow the letter theme, but take every opportunity you can to emphasis social skills.
  • Play "fancy" music faintly in the background.  We have a CD of piano compositions and classical renditions we rely on.
  • Have fun! 

    Do you have any fun ideas to teach the letters of the alphabet?