Friday, January 30, 2015

Twisteezwire Critters

I was browsing the Twisteezwire website while writing up my review of their Mask Kit when their Puzzle Piece Bug tutorial caught my eye. I'm always on the lookout for fun crafts using puzzle pieces! (You may recall the ridiculous situation with a puzzle purchase awhile back that resulted in me having a large stash of useless puzzle pieces.) I showed the tutorial to Trevor and he was totally onboard with the idea of making puzzle piece Twisteezwire bugs. 

We each started by choosing a puzzle piece and a Twisteezwire. We followed the steps to make three sets of legs to create a basic insect. We continued with the antenna. Then we used Glue Dots to attach googly eyes. With the basic technique mastered, we were able to use our own creativity to make some totally cute (if I do say so myself!) critters. Introducing....

Dot, the Ladybug
(by Cindy)

To make Dot, you need a red puzzle piece, 3 Twisteezwires (red, black, and white), six red beads, two googly eyes, glue dots, six black sequins, glue, and wax paper. Make a basic bug with the puzzle piece, red legs, and black antenna. Slide a bead about 1/2 inch up each leg and twist to secure. Add eyes. Create wings by looping the white wire, sliding it through a set of legs on the underside of Dot, then forming another loop. Tear two small pieces of wax paper that are slightly larger than the loops. Put glue on the back of the loops, then attach the wax paper. Let the glue dry completely, then trim the excess wax paper away from the loops. Glue the sequins to Dot's back.

Buggy, the Bug
(by Trevor)

To make Buggy, you need an orange puzzle piece, two Twisteezwires (green and orange), six orange buttons, two googly eyes, and glue dots. Make a basic bug with oversize antenna. Thread each leg through the button holes, then twist to secure. Add eyes.  

Chesapeake, the Blue Crab
(by Cindy)

To make Chesapeake, you need a neutral-colored puzzle piece, Twisteezwire (blue and black), eight blue beads, two black beads, glue dots and googly eyes. Start by making a basic bug. Add a bead to each of the middle and back legs, twisting to secure. Add two beads each to the front two legs to form claws. Cut a small length of black wire for the eye stalks and attach like you would antenna. Glue googly eyes in place.

Spinner, the Spider
(by Trevor)

To make Spinner, you need a neutral puzzle piece, tan Twisteezwire, a large black pom pom, a medium black pom pom, glue, glue dots, and googly eyes. Begin by cutting the tan Twisteezwire into fourths, not thirds like usual. Attach the first three sets of legs as usual, and add the final set of legs opposite the third set, using the same technique. Bend up the end of each leg slightly to allow Spinner to balance. Glue the large pom pom onto the back of the puzzle piece and the medium pom pom onto the front. Use glue dots to attach the googly eyes to the face.


What do you think? Any favorites? Trevor are already talking about the next set of critters we're going to make!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Little Passports 50 States Album - Update

Aunt Teri renewed Trevor's subscription to Little Passports for Christmas (hurray!). I'd already decided that if she didn't, we would. It's so much fun. Trevor loves it. Me too.

He's had the subscription for just over a year now, which means he's about halfway through the 50 states (2 states per month). The Florida packet arrived recently, which meant he was able to complete another page in his 50 States Album!

During our epic Canada and New England trip last fall, Trevor visited four states for the first time (Maine, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey), bringing the total number of states he's visited to 11. Not bad for 8 years old! Of the four new states, he's received the Little Passports kit for three of them so far. As you can see, he is doing his own journaling now.

We're planning a summer visit to see friends that will take us to two more states. Both are states Trevor has already learned about through Little Passports, so he is especially excited. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Revisiting the Paper Quilts from the Cursive Project

Trevor and I received the coolest gifts recently from Jonna, Godmother (and Friend) Extraordinaire! Each of us received a soft, cylindrical present that looked a little bit like she'd wrapped a half-used roll of paper towels. We opened them simultaneously, as neither of us wanted our surprise ruined by seeing the other's first. 

Here's what I unwrapped:

And here's Trevor's:

We both recognized them instantly. They are fabric versions of the paper quilts that Trevor and I designed back in August! Here are our paper quilts; read more about them by clicking the link.

Thanks again, Jonna, for such a thoughtful gift! We love them!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

2015 Pinewood Derby

Last weekend was the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. I always love seeing what Trevor dreams up. I was expecting an animal, since he made a mouse car in 2013 and a dragon car in 2014. Nope. This time it was a spaceship.

He sketched it out and made the cuts with help from my dad during our Christmas visit. He painted and decorated it on his own, then Steve helped him add the wheels and adjust the weight. Here's a different view:

Unfortunately, Trevor's spaceship was significantly slower than the real thing. The spaceship was out of the competition very early, which has been a common theme for Trevor over the years. Good thing he doesn't care. He's much more excited to build and decorate a cool car than a fast one. And he loves cheering on his friends who do design the fast cars.

As usual, Trevor will enter his car in the county fair. The cars are judged on appearance and he has always done very well. Hopefully the judges agree with us all that Trevor's 2015 Pinewood Derby car is out of this world!

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Verdict Is In... We LOVE Twisteezwire!

Before leaving for the Craft and Hobby Association trade show, I looked up all of the nominees for the 2015 Hot Products Award. I was most interested in the kids' crafts category. My pick for the winner (and Trevor's pick also) was the Twisteezwire Mask Kit. It looked so fun, equally appropriate and interesting for boys and girls, with tons of room for creativity. You can see a video about it here

On Saturday night when I returned to the hotel room after opening day on the CHA show floor, the first thing Trevor said was, "Did you get to see the Twisteezwire Mask Kit? Did it win?" I reminded him that the awards would be announced Sunday night (while I'd be at Disneyland with him) and that I wouldn't find out until Monday morning. On Sunday night, there were at least ten times that Trevor said something to the effect of, "I really hope the Twisteezwire Mask Kit wins! Can you get one for me when we get home?" That really says something if a kid who is at Disneyland is thinking about a craft project he wants to do at home!

As soon as the show floor opened on Monday morning, I zipped over to find out the winners of the Hot Products Awards. The Twisteezwire Mask Kit was a runner-up, but did not win. I was surprised how disappointed I was! I'd never used it and had only first learned about it four days earlier, but I was already 100% convinced that it was one of the coolest things to hit the kids' craft market in awhile. 

I went to the Twisteezwire booth to tell the exhibitor how disappointed both my son and I were that their mask kit did not win 1st place. We chatted a bit and after a little while, she asked how old my son was. I told her he was 8. She then did something I absolutely did not expect - she handed me a Mask Kit and said it was for him if I promised to review it on my blog. 

As you've probably noticed, I don't accept a lot of free products to review here. Most of the products I review are things I bought and loved and know that my readers would love too. I would feel terrible if I accepted something for free with a promise to review it and it was awful. Obviously, I would never say nice things about a product just because someone gave it to me, so I am very careful with what I promise. I'd done my research about the Twisteezwire Mask Kit and I knew I would love it. Trevor knew he would love it. I was completely confident that there was no chance my review would be less than glowing, so I accepted it. 

I snapped a few photos of some other Twisteezwire projects before leaving. Check out these cool glasses! 

I love the birthday cake. And the snowman!

These baskets are incredible!

I got back to the hotel room on Monday night before Steve and Trevor did. I hid the Mask Kit, waiting for them to return, certain that Trevor would ask if it won. Sure enough, it was the first thing he asked when he came through the door! I told him it did not and he was so disappointed. But his disappointment turned to euphoria when I pulled out the kit and handed it to him! He wanted to play with it then and there in the hotel room, at 9:00 pm, the night before we were leaving. Um, no. He wanted to play with it in the car on the drive home. Also no. 

After we got home, out of vacation mode, and back into our routine, I invited my 8 year old goddaughter Kylinn over to try the Mask Kit with Trevor. Before school was out, I opened the kit and took photographs of the contents. It includes a detailed instruction book, fifty 30" Twisteezwires, buttons, beads, feathers, markers, and dowels. Plus, the box itself becomes one of the supplies! You supply your own coat hangers and scissors. That's all you need. 

When I picked Trevor up from school, he was so excited he could hardly stand it. He was DYING to play with the Mask Kit. As soon as Kylinn arrived, I sat them both down and explained that they had a very important job: to play with the kit and let me know their honest opinions about it. I handed them the instruction booklet, which they studied carefully. 

Kylinn's wearing the ribbon barrettes I made for her! Tutorial here.

They were so intent on studying the instruction booklet that they didn't notice me taking their photos until the second-to-last page!

I put all the supplies on the kitchen table and they got right to work. I took this one photo of them getting started before I went upstairs to leave them alone. I really wanted to see what they would make on their own and whether the kit was truly appropriate for kids as young as 8.  

I could hear the kids chatting and giggling as they worked. They worked for exactly 90 minutes before they came and got me, both wearing their masks with the biggest smiles you've ever seen. I had them go outside where the light was better so I could take their photo. Kylinn proudly showed off her zebra mask. Trevor was equally proud of his rabbit mask.  

Both kids said that the kit was AWESOME! They said it was great for 8 year olds - not too easy and not too hard. They liked the way the box was one of the supplies. They thought it was really fun and that other kids would love it too. So there you go! The verdict is in... we LOVE the Twisteezwire Mask Kit!

It's really unusual that I don't do a craft alongside Trevor. I really wanted to make a mask, but I thought it was important to see what 8 year olds would make on their own without being influenced by something an adult made. While the kids ran around out back playing Zebra and Rabbit, I went back inside to clean up. I was delighted to see that there were still a lot of supplies left. Plenty for me to make my own mask the next time Trevor wants to play with the kit! 

I highly recommend the Twisteezwire Mask Kit for the 8+ crafter in your life! The only place I've found online that sells it (so far) is Museum Tour Toys. I'm hoping that Amazon and other major retailers will carry it soon. You can buy bundles of Twisteezwire, as well as see lessons and their amazing gallery on the Twisteezwire website. Expect to see more Twisteezwire projects from us in the near future!