Monday, July 25, 2016

DIY Outdoor Chalkboard

My husband and I are starting the slow process of turning our backyard into the outdoor living space/playspace that our family needs/wants. And when I say slowly, I mean slowly. There are so many things that keep cutting in line for our attention and money. One of the big things that cut in line was getting new concrete poured for our driveway, garage and sidewalks. I liked to call it our country gravel road, it was in pretty poor shape. To go along with all of that we wanted a new outdoor shed to store all of our stuff, specially in the winter. In the process of getting the new shed into the backyard, and over the day old concrete, we had to use large pieces of plywood to protect the concrete. With this leftover plywood just looking for a new purpose we decided to create an outdoor chalkboard for our kids!

This project was fairly simple. We set up the plywood on some stands in the basement so it would be out of the way but have a safe place while the layers of paint cured. First up I sealed the wood with a outdoor primer on the front and back and let that dry for the recommended time, and then some! Up next came multiple layers of outdoor chalkboard paint that we picked up from the local home improvement store. My husband screwed two hooks to the back of the board and hung it on the fence. That was it!!

The chalkboard has been outside for some pretty vicious weather and is still in great shape, no warping. The rain actually cleans off the chalkboard which is super nice. The only downside is that we don’t have a storage place for the chalk next to the chalkboard.

Written by: Shawna



Thursday, July 21, 2016

Learning To Draw A Giraffe With Art For Kids Hub

Our book this month is “Giraffes Can’t Dance”. Compared with last month’s writing a fractured fairytale activity, I struggled to think of one that revolved around the book for this month. I finally decided to use the main character, Gerald the Giraffe, as my inspiration.
I’ve been trying to focus Emily on drawing actual things instead of abstract art :) The tool that has helped the most in making it interesting and fun is Rob’s website Art For Kids Hub. I found his site through YouTube when I was researching a technique called watercolor resist for our project for the book “Guess How Much I Love You” and I’ve been hooked ever since. Right now we utilize his step-by-step videos on how to draw, and luckily enough he had one about giraffes that can be found here, and it’s free. Little E’s giraffe is the one in her right hand, and the one I drew is in her left hand.

We are members to his website too, which gives us access to his printables, amongst other things. Rob is really responsive, so if you have any questions or requests don’t be afraid to send him an email. He actually downloaded the giraffe printable for me onto the members page which was amazing!  It allowed Little E to trace the lines before we did the video. If you think this might be something you’d like you can get more information about becoming a member here. I would like to mention that I am in no way being compensated for this post nor was I contacted about writing this post featuring Art Hub For Kids, I just really love the website! It’s been a lifesaver when I am trying to get dinner made, I put on one of the drawing videos for Little E and that keeps her happy while I cook.

I hope you enjoy this activity!

Written by: Shawna

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

V-Neck Dress from Sew Chic Kids

My project this month for “Sewing Japan with Mie” is the V-Neck Dress from “Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids” by Ruriko Yamada.The dress turned out so wonderful and was a joy to sew.

The horse fabric is from Art Gallery and is part of the Anna Elise line and this print is called Encolureful and Pretty, just like my little girl! The bodice fabric and thin bias tape (for the tie) is from JoAnn and the Swiss Edging is from Martha Pullen.

The sewing fairies were looking out for me with this dress, so many things could have gone wrong but every obstacle I faced had a solution and this dress was a joy to sew. To start this dress, as designed, does not have a lined bodice, and uses the lace trim as the raw edge finish for the neckline and armscye. To be able to line the bodice I had to add seam allowances to all the edges of the pattern pieces (except for the foldline on the front piece). I also added seam allowance to all the edges of the skirt pieces (again except for the foldline).

I was slightly short of fabric at the bottom of the skirt. To compensate for this I used the bodice fabric to create little triangles at the bottom of the hem, and trimmed with lace.

Next I decided to add a tie using some thin double fold bias tape. I am still traumatized from turning the straps of the Ice Cream Dress and had no ambition to make some!

Lastly instead of a tie for the top closure I sewed on a loop and button.

I sewed the size 2, Little E wears a 4T. The bodice fit is spot on and fits nicely. 1 ½ inches had to be removed from the hem and I sewed a 1 inch double hem. The dress has quite an “A” shape to it, which made the hem a little tricky. I sewed a line of basting stitches on the second fold of the hem (through all layers but the right side of the dress, hope that makes sense). I gathered the fullness and distributed it throughout the hem and sewed the hem like normal than gave it a good press. I’m not sure where I got the idea from, but it worked fantastic.

Written by: Shawna

And here are the rest of the photos!!



Monday, July 18, 2016

Dinosaur Ice Fossil

Dinosaur Ice Fossil

By Angela

I don’t know about where you are from, but this summer has been a scorcher for us! My boys and I frequent to pool just about every day. Today, I thought I would add a fun activity to our outdoor water time.


A package of plastic dinosaurs (I found a 20 piece pack at Walmart for $3.00)

A large dish


Tools to carve at it

All I did was filled the large dish with water, had the boys lay the dinosaurs in the water, and threw it into the freezer! About 3 hours later, we had an awesome dinosaur ice sculpture to carve poolside!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Summer Fun Romper

I’ve owned the Mila Romper from Violette Field Threads since it was released and have been wanting to make it for just as long. First I bought some cat fabric, but instead made the Grace Dress. Than I bought some fabric from Robert Kaufman’s London Calling collection, however that got turned into a sundress for myself. Finally Dana Willard’s fabric collection with Art Gallery Fabrics was released and my local fabric store had it in stock. It’s called “Boardwalk Delight” and that speaks volumes here in New Jersey, summer and boardwalks go hand in hand here.

My daughter loves this romper, though it could have a lot to do with the fact that her favorite food is printed all over this dress, ice cream - so this dress has been dubbed the “Ice Cream Dress”.

This romper took some time to sew, probably around 12 hours - with an annoying large portion of it spent turning two very thin, interfaced straps. I think one strap took about an hour and the other around 2 hours. By the second strap I was getting so frustrated I’d work on it for a bit and than work on another part of the dress. Because of these straps I am now going to start looking into how to turn a tube with more ease and less frustration :) The dress also has shirring which is something I’ve never done before. Luckily that went well enough with no major catastrophes. The instructions are very good, and I didn’t get hung up or confused on any step. However, some steps are a little awkward and require slow sewing. Because of that this pattern, or the romper part of this pattern, wouldn’t be a good fit for an extreme beginning sewer.  

The romper came out fantastic and it is such a happy outfit. We were out walking around town and I could see people looking at Little E and they’d get a grin on their face - I’m going to say it was because of this adorable outfit. I used some gold buttons I had taken off of a sweater and some sparkly pink bows to embellish the front. In foresight I wish I would have added some kind of texture where the bodice meets the shorts, such as piping. The shorts portion of this romper are also fairly short too, with a 2 inch inseam.

The downside of this romper is that Little E has some troubles with the buttons when she has to use the restroom. The buttonholes are on the smaller side for the buttons which makes it a little more difficult, but if you have an independent little one that is potty trained maybe using snaps or extra large buttons would be more advantageous.

In all this is such a happy, tasty, sparkly summery outfit for my little girl!

Written by: Shawna

Monday, July 4, 2016

Outer Space Playdate

Outer Space Playdate:
Toilet paper rockets
Space Word Books
Astronaut helmets
Felt Solar System
Moon Crater Toss
Astronaut Training
Snack: Moon rice cakes
Extra Activity: Astronaut Food Taste Test

Toilet Paper Rockets:
Toilet paper roll
Red and orange tissue paper strips
Gray or silver tissue paper or foil
Space stickers (stars, planets, NASA, U.S. flag, etc…)
Scissors and glue
Astronaut figurine
Clothes pins (1 per rocket)
Cardstock paper (I used gold glitter, but you can use anything that is relatively thick)
I started by prepping the toilet paper rolls for the kids. I cut a square hole on the top of the toilet paper roll for the astronaut to slide into. I then wrapped the toilet paper roll in foil or silver tissue paper and tucked the excess inside the ends of the roll. I also glued a triangle shaped cardstock cut out onto the bottom of the toilet paper as the rocket wings. I attached a clothes pin to the bottom of the rocket for gluing the tissue paper strips on as rocket fire.
Once all the kids got together, I had them assemble the rest. They glued the tissue paper strips inside the bottom end of the toilet paper roll as the rocket fire.

They painted the rockets, put stickers on them, and added their astronaut in. If you have a fan, have them put the finished product in front of it for the wind to pass through and blow the tissue paper around! I attached some string from one end of the pavilion to the other, where we were doing the playdate, and had the kids fly their rocket across the pavilion! They will love it!
Space Word Book:
Black construction paper (roughly 10 sheets)
Additional colorful construction paper
White chalk
Space stickers (stars, planets, etc…)
Glue and scissors
I assembled the books for the kids ahead of time. I put several sheets of black construction paper together and stapled it into a book. Next I came up with a variety of space words and wrote them one per page.  I cut out outlines of the space words using the construction paper.
When we all got together, the kids were able to put together their little space book. We wrote their names on the front and went page by page, gluing the construction paper cut outs and going over what each picture was. They added space stickers and anything else they wanted to decorate their book.
Astronaut Helmets:
Paper bags
White and black paint
Scissors and glue

These were so cute! I started by drawing an astronaut helmet outline on the front of each paper bag. Then I precut a viewing hole for the kids. I think painting the helmet white made it really pop when the kids wore it, but you can use white construction paper as well. The kids were able to decorate the helmet by writing their name, painting it, adding stickers, etc… Then we practice counting down from 10 to 1 and lifting off into outer space!
Felt Solar System:
Large piece of black felt (2’x3’ for example)
Several colorful pieces of felt (for planets and sun)
Fabric glue
Wooden dowel
I have been practicing the planets with my one and two year old and surprisingly they are really picking it up! So I made a hands-on solar system for them.

Start by cutting out your planets using the colorful pieces of felt. You may want to use an image online to model your planets design and size after. Use the fabric glue to attach rings on Saturn, for example, or a spot on Jupiter.
To hang it roll the top of your black felt piece around the wooden dowel and glue of sew it on. Tie your string around the ends of the dowel and hang on your wall with a tack.
Have your kids practice putting the planets in their order and going over their names!

Moon Space Toss:
Foil circular pan (I found a round serving pan at Walmart)
White sand
Gray or silver rocks (or you could use small aluminum foil balls)
Fill the foil circular pan with the white sand. Smooth it out as best as possible.
Make a line on the ground for the kids to stand behind. Have them toss the rocks at the pan to create their own moon craters!
Astronaut Training:
On a large piece of cement, draw out the layout below with some chalk. Have the kids put on their astronaut helmets, count down from 10 to 1 and start the obstacle course! Each station includes an activity to further their development as the next astronaut!
Colorful chalk
Hula hoop
Moon rocks (foil crumbled into a ball)
Small football
Snack: Moon Rice Cakes
Rice cake (any flavor, but preferably white in color)
Banana slices
Peanut butter
Optional: an American flag on a tooth pick
To assemble, lay the rice cake out on a baking sheet. Place about 3-4 banana slices and scatter several Cheerios on top to act as craters. You can leave the toppings as is on top or attach them with peanut butter as the glue. Finally top with your American flag tooth pick and serve!
Extra Activity:
Astronaut Food Taste Test:
My kids were a little too young for this, but it would be fun for kids maybe 4 and up. Buy some astronaut food, they have variety packs you can purchase on, and allow the kids to taste one type of food at a time. Have them guess the type of food! Maybe even have them wear their newly made astronaut helmets!