Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a very merry Christmas, from our family to yours!


I'll be taking next week off from blogging, so I'll see you in 2017. Best wishes for a safe, happy and healthy holiday season.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Microwave Popcorn Penguin Gift Card Holder

We're giving gift cards to some of our friends and family for Christmas. So, of course, we had to come up with a fun way to wrap them. This adorable penguin is made of a package of microwave popcorn and is clutching the wrapped gift card. 


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Microwave Popcorn Penguin Gift Card Holder

Materials: 

  • package of microwave popcorn
  • construction paper or cardstock (black, white and yellow)
  • scissors
  • circle punch
  • black pen
  • adhesive
  • gift card
  • wrapping paper
  • curling ribbon

Instructions: 


1. Cut the black construction paper so that it wraps around the popcorn with a small amount of overlap. Use the scraps of black to cut two wings, each shaped like a rounded triangle. Cut a half-oval of white construction paper for the tummy. Punch two white circles and fill in pupils with the pen. Cut a rounded triangle from yellow to make the beak.


2. Wrap the black construction paper around the popcorn and glue it in place. Add the white tummy, the beak, and the eyes as shown in the photo. 


3. Wrap the gift card with wrapping paper. 


 4. Add a ribbon to the wrapped gift card, then adhere it to the penguin's tummy. Glue the tips of the wings on top of the gift, then wrap each wing around the side of the penguin. Adhere them to the penguin's back.


Not only is this great fun for Christmas gift cards, but it works well for winter birthdays, too. Just choose a festive birthday gift wrap and coordinating ribbon.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Woven Christmas Tree Ornament

I just finished a woven Christmas tree ornament, made completely from yarn. I'm really proud of it because it took a heck of a lot of effort to figure out how to do it! 




Kathy's project uses a paper plate to weave a fun Christmas tree using yarn scraps. It's a wonderful project for young children. You can see examples made by her 1st graders on her site

I was determined to figure out a way to remove the tree from the paper plate loom (without having the tree fall apart, of course) so that I could hang it on the Christmas tree. It took a bit of trial and error, but mission accomplished! 

I started by following Kathy's detailed directions to create a loom and weave the tree. That brought me to here:


I used a piece of brown yarn to weave six rows across just the center four green warp yarns, then tied it off. 


I turned over the plate and snipped the warp yarns. 


I carefully removed the top part of the tree from the paper plate loom. The part Kathy used as a hanger came off....


... so I cut a small piece and tied the top securely. 


The ends of that piece became the hanger when I tied them together. I trimmed the warp pieces short. 


To remove the base of the tree from the loom, I removed two warp pieces at a time and knotted them together securely. 


Trim the ends as close to the knots as you can.

I used yellow yarn to finger crochet a 'star' for the top of my tree. (I learned how to do finger crochet from Yarn Whimsies for the Holidays and I absolutely love it!) After making a quick string of crochet, I tied it off, then tied it to the tree. This blocked the trimmed warp pieces from being seen. I cut a tiny piece of yellow and pushed it into the center so that my star would be filled in rather than hollow. 


Then I cut little bits from colorful yarn scraps. 


I used a toothpick to push the yarn into the weaving. No glue in this project!


 Here's my finished woven Christmas tree ornament, hanging on the tree at night.


All the yarn in this project, except the brown, was given to me by Premier Yarns. You may recognize the greens of the tree from the coaster and trivet project. The blue was left over from my knitted beanie. The white and red are both from the patriotic kumihimo bracelets the Cub Scouts made. Thanks again, Premier!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

No-Sew Ice Skate Ornament

When I was very young, someone made me a felt ornament that has hung on my tree for the past 38+ years. It's a pair of green ice skates, with paperclip blades. Their sewn-on laces are connected, so you hang them on the tree by draping the two skates over a branch. I like them a lot, but I wish they were white. Green ice skates aren't very common and they don't stand out against the Christmas tree.

Trevor has now been taking ice skating lessons for just under two years. (He can skate circles, literally, around his mother.) Trevor's skates are black. How fun to make ice skate ornaments that are white for me and black for Trevor! I decided to do some experimenting to come up with a kid-friendly, no-sew version. Here's what I made:


Felt Ice Skate Ornament

What You Need:


  • paper clip
  • wire cutters
  • felt
  • scissors
  • cotton ball
  • craft glue
  • binder clips
  • grey Sharpie
  • grey embroidery floss

How To Make It:


  • Use the wire cutters to snip the paperclip into two parts. The larger segment will be the blade and the smaller segment, opened up, will be the hanger. Set both pieces aside.
  • Fold the piece of felt. Imagine the back of the skate (where your calf would be) sitting on the fold. Cut out a stocking shape, but do not cut the fold. Unfold the felt.
  • Pull apart the cotton ball and add pieces to one side of the skate. 



  • Put craft glue all the way around the felt. Put the larger paperclip piece in place.


  • Fold the felt in half, trapping the paperclip inside. Adjust it if necessary, then hold it closed (binder clips work great for this). I didn't do it this way, but I recommend putting the hanger in at this point. Let the glue dry completely.  


  • Use the Sharpie to draw the laces onto the skate. (Imagine that the hanger is already glued in!) 


  • Tie a bow with a small piece of embroidery floss and glue it to the top of the laces. When it is dry, hang your ornament!  


I don't have Trevor's to show yet because he'll be making his today. His friend Avery is hosting a cookie decorating party today and her mom asked me to teach a craft while the cookies are baking. Since Avery and her brother also take skating lessons, this is the perfect craft! I'm bringing a variety of colors of felt, though Trevor has already announced that his ice skate ornament will be black.

It's been awhile since I've shared video of Trevor ice skating. This is from his recital last Thursday. He is the second shortest, in the red shirt and grey/black striped hat.

 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Buffalo Drawing

When our family visited the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque last month, both Trevor and I were so inspired by the art we saw. The museum had many gorgeous pieces on permanent display, plus a lobby exhibit of artwork by local children. We both really liked the animal-inspired artwork by the fifth graders at Santo Domingo School, particularly this buffalo:


... and this jackrabbit. 


I shared these photos with the students in Trevor's class during our most recent lesson about Native Americans. They served as inspiration for our own art. 

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Buffalo Drawing


Materials: 

  • white drawing paper
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • colored pencils or markers
  • brown construction paper
  • glue

What to Do:

  1. Draw a buffalo on the white paper. This site has excellent step-by-step instructions. 
  2. Cut out the buffalo. 
  3. Decorate the buffalo, either on the side with the drawing or on the blank side on the reverse.
  4. Glue the buffalo to the brown construction paper.



Here are a few of the buffalo projects made by Trevor's classmates. I love how different they all are:







This one is Trevor's. The four quadrants represent spring, summer, fall and winter.


Great job, fifth graders!

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Three Sisters: Cooking Iroquois-Inspired Succotash

This week, I got to share another of my favorite Native American recipes with Trevor's fifth grade class: succotash. This is a great recipe to make in the classroom because it is very forgiving and doesn't require too much tending or attention. Bonus points that the ingredients are pretty inexpensive and it's healthy!

I started the lesson with an explanation of The Three Sisters:
The Iroquois and other Natives planted beans, squash and corn together. These three plants are known as the Three Sisters. The strength of the sturdy corn stalks supports the twining beans. The shade of the spreading squash vines traps moisture for the other crops. The bean roots capture important nutrients needed by the corn. Each plant grows better when with its Sisters.

The Three Sisters are known to the Iroquois as the "sustainers of life" and are considered to be special gifts from the Creator. There are many legends about the Three Sisters. These Sisters should be planted together, eaten together and celebrated together.
Then we started the succotash. 



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Iroquois-Inspired Succotash 


                       3 slices of bacon*                          2 cups corn kernels
                       1 onion, chopped                          2 cups canned white beans
                       2 cups summer squash, cubed       1 cup water
                       salt and pepper


Chop the raw bacon into pieces and put them into a pot. Heat on high to render the fat. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the rest of the vegetables, stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil. Cover the pot.

Cook over low heat for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve. Makes approximately 8 cups of succotash.

*The Iroquois of the 1600's would have likely used bear meat or other wild game in their stew, not cured pork. Meat is not necessary in this recipe. If you prefer a vegetarian succotash, skip the bacon and use 2 T. vegetable oil to cook the onion. 

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While our succotash cooked, the kids worked in groups to share knowledge about Native tribes from different regions of the US. A third of the class studied the Iroquois of the northeastern woodlands, while the other groups learned about the Haida of Alaska and the Sioux of the Great Plains.


We watched this interesting slide show about the Haida. Then we did an art project inspired by the Sioux people of the Great Plains. I'll share that next week. 

Here's our succotash. By serving it in foam cups, it stayed nice and toasty. The kids could use the fork to eat the veggies, then drink the remaining broth. 


Trevor's teacher loved it. Pretty much everyone did, including Trevor, who got to have extra helpings after school. 


And now that he knows how to prepare it, I'll be expecting Trevor to make us succotash for dinner sometime soon.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

New Ears

Steve and I visited Disneyland in 2005 during their 50th anniversary celebration. I was pregnant with Trevor. We bought infant-sized golden ears, which he has worn during every visit since. There are a lot of wonderful memories associated with those special ears. They've been too small for Trevor for quite some time, but he's worn them anyway. He and I are both attached to them. We'd talked about getting new ears on several different trips, but none of them seemed special enough to replace the golden 50th anniversary ears.

When we visited Disneyland in 2015, that changed. Disneyland was celebrating their 60th anniversary with special diamond-edition ears. Trevor knew these were the ears that he'd been waiting for. He chose a pair with plenty of room to grow, announcing that he'd be wearing these until 2025, when Disneyland celebrates its 70th anniversary.


I'm keeping those special golden ears. Perhaps someday I'll be able to give them to Trevor's child to wear and make wonderful memories. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Pom Pom Flowers

After making the super fun Christmas Tree Sandwich Kabobs, Trevor and I were eager to try a second project from Open House Merriment. 

Open House Merriment

Leisure Arts gave me this book to review, but I was not otherwise compensated. This post has affiliate links, meaning I will get a small commission for purchases made through the links. 

The Pom Pom Flowers are from the 'Christmas is for Kids' chapter, which has 13 simple crafts for kids. We followed the easy step-by-step directions to make the finger poms, then went our own direction to make the leaves. We're using our pom pom flowers as gift toppers, so we didn't attach stems at all.



Pom Pom Flowers

Materials: 




How to Make It:


1. Color the teardrop shapes with the Sharpie, then coat them with Stickles. Set them aside to dry.

2. Cut an 8" length of yarn and set it aside.

3. Pulling the yarn directly from the skein and holding the end with your thumb, start wrapping the yarn around your fingers. Use two, three or four fingers depending on how large you want your flower. The number of wraps you do determines how fluffy and dense your final flower will be.

4. Slide the yarn off your fingers and use the 8" piece to tie a knot tightly around the center of the bundle of yarn.

5. Use the scissors to cut all the looped ends. Trim the pom pom to give it the shape you want.

6. Glue a button to the center of the flower. Add leaves on the opposite side.


A single flower looks good on top of a gift...


Multiple flowers can even be a centerpiece. 


These little flowers are really addictive to make. Give it a try!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Six-Sided Name Snowflake

I love name art. I just counted, and this Name Snowflake project is the 10th version of name art I've shared here at My Creative Life


My inspiration came from Childhood101's post about eight-sided name art snowflakes. I loved the idea, but wanted to make a more realistic six-sided snowflake. 

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Six-Sided Name Snowflake


Materials:

  • copy paper
  • protractor
  • pen
  • sharp scissors

How to Make It:


1. Fold a piece of paper in half lengthwise. Crease it well. While still folded, fold it in half widthwise and mark the center. Do not crease.

2. Line up the protractor in the center of the paper along the folded edge. Mark 60° and 120°. 


3. Use the protractor to draw lines at 60° and 120°. 


4. Carefully fold the paper along both lines. Trim straight across the folded paper to get rid of the points that stick up past the center triangle.


5. Rotate the triangle and write your name on it in block letters. Make sure that some of the letters extend all the way to the top and bottom folds, and that each letter touches the next letter at some point.


6. Cut out your name. The top and bottom folds are still intact in various places, and each letter is connected to the next.


7. Carefully unfold your snowflake and see if you can spot your name six times!


The direction you rotate the paper in step 5 doesn't matter. It's up to you whether you want the first letter of your name to be the largest or the smallest. 


Can you identify which folded name opened to make each of the following name snowflakes? How about the name snowflake at the top of the post?




Each one looks so different, which is the coolest thing about name art. If you give it a try, I'd love to see your name snowflake!

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Interested in one of my other Name Art projects?