School Projects

Fun Projects

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Projects

Yesterday was a good day!
I got almost all of my Christmas decorations put up, despite my children's well-meant help.
In order to get those decorations up, I had to finish two of the projects that were clogging my project table, which only added to the goodness of the day.

The first project was a Christmas banner that I bought supplies for last January in the post-holiday clearance bins. I got the idea out of a catalog - Pottery Barn I think.
The supplies were pretty simple:
  1. Wooden letters
  2. Scrapbook paper (2 letters per 12x12 sheet)
  3. Mod Podge and brush
The first step is to glue the letters to the paper, making sure that the pattern on the paper is pointing in the right directions. Start with the back of the letters. The second step is to trim around the letters, leaving about 1/8" overhang (more if the letters are thicker). At this point I started wishing that I had chosen letters with fewer curves and details. I used a scissors, but I think a razor blade might have worked better.
Next, make cuts in the fringe to make tabs so that as you glue the tabs to the sides of the letters you can bend around the curves. This part of the process was painfully slow as I had to dab glue and then hold for a few seconds and then repeat all the way around. I have plans for other letter banners but because of this I think I will use paint instead of paper.
After you have the backs of all the letters done, turn them over and do the same process all over again on the front.
I had planned to attach the letters together and hang them with a ribbon, but I never found a ribbon that matched correctly or wasn't too busy, so instead I settled on fishing line. Turn all the letters over AND REVERSE THE ORDER (I almost forgot that part). Then I ran a bead of hot glue along the top of each letter and pressed the fishing line into it. On the first and last letters I made a small loop of line so that I could hang the whole thing.
After a few small repairs, touch-ups and adjustments, the banner was ready to hang.

The other project I finished up yesterday was not nearly as labor intensive (thank goodness).
I also stole this idea, this time from a magazine - possibly Better Homes and Gardens.
This project was for outside my front door, so the first step was to send my willing helpers outside to collect sticks. It was a foggy day and they loved the adventure.
Then, when one willing helper was taking her nap, I let the other willing helper help me paint the sticks bright red. Thankfully his hands weren't big enough to actually push the spray button, so he just helped me hold the can.

My wonderful husband gave me these two huge flower planters for my birthday, and I realized that since they were red they would be perfect for this project. In the very bottom I put some old smashed up bricks to weight the pots down. Then I used a bunch of old packaging material, boxes and styrofoam to fill up the space.

While the kids had been collecting sticks, I had pruned some of our evergreens. So, for the next step I shoved the evergreen branches and red sticks into the cardboard in the pot, from about the center of the pot to the back. Obviously the taller pieces go in the back. It's not the best picture, but you get the idea.

Then I laid some fake evergreen garland in the front part of the pot and used it to cover the boxes and other filler. On top of that went some white Christmas lights. Finally I carried them outside.

A few more garlands, more lights, and some ribbon and my front porch and door were done. Now I can feel like I am really welcoming my Christmas guests.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Widow's Weekend

It's November in Wisconsin and that means deer hunting.
When I was younger, this meant packing up the warmest and orangest clothes I could find and heading up north. It also meant slogging through the snow in the five-in-the-morning frozen dark to get to my deer stand, where I sat freezing until the five-in-the-evening frozen dark hoping that Bambi would walk past so I could blast him (and stop freezing for a while). Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't.
Then I got married.
Now, people tell you that marriage changes everything. I don't know if I totally agree with that, but it did change my deer hunting schedule, because I have little kids and can't go. Now I get up at six-thirty-in-the-morning frozen dark and go turn up the thermostat. Then I get in the warm shower. After that things really get warm (as in my temper) as I try and get three little kids out the door by nine. I'm not heading to a tree stand either! I'm heading to my Mom's house for our annual "Deer Hunting Widow's Weekend" get-together.
The cousins play happily (and unhappily) together while we widows eat all the yummy treats we put together when our husbands abandon us (note: My husband wasn't deer hunting this year, but he was still gone for the day, so I still got to participate.)

Ian and Molly - Ian was the only boy, and he did bring his rifle in case we needed "tecting."
Mia and Ellie redecorated the living room.

After all the food was eaten, we widows did do a small service project to justify our fun time while our men were out trying to be the hunter-gatherer types. We cut out fabric and sewed on cords to make parachutes. These parachutes are used to drop radios that are pre-set to Christian radio stations to guerrillas in Central America. (I forgot to get the name of the organization from my Mom. Sorry.)

Jamie sewing on the cords.
Tandis writing "Dios es Amor" (God is love) on the fabric,
Margo melting the ends of the cords,
and Mom sewing.

The finished project.

By the end of the day, we had made several dozen parachutes.

Our men got one deer.

Who had the better season?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Christmas Boxes

Are you done Christmas shopping yet?
I'm not, but I did already deliver my first 3 Christmas presents.
I don't know who they are for or where they will end up, but I pray that they will make some little child happy and that by receiving that gift they will be receptive to the gift of salvation too.
Every year, I pack shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child

I like to pack a box that corresponds to each of my children, so this year I did one boy box and two girl boxes in the youngest categories. I shop the clearance bins all year so that I can get the most out of my budget. It's fun to find all the little toys that children everywhere would love, along with some useful items like school supplies and toothpaste. This year Ian helped me a little, although I think secretly he was hoping HE would get the box.

When I explained to him that in some places around the world children do not get presents he was horrified and willingly gave up his treasures. When I told him that the children who got the boxes also got to hear about Jesus, he wanted to know what stories they heard. It was a good chance to talk to him about Jesus too.
So, as I rush around "getting ready" for Christmas with my 3 little kids, it is nice to know that 3 little boxes are traveling around the world to bring the true message of Christmas to 3 other little children that I don't even know.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Project Migration

Remember this table?
The only problem with that table is that it is so full of projects to do that there is no room to work on them. I did manage to get Ian and Brynn's baby books updated and put away, but that didn't really put a dent in the problem. So, I have experienced the dreaded Project Migration. First, two projects migrated to the kitchen table: the dress got cut out and one of the Christmas decoration projects got started (more on that in another post). Ian joined in that fun.
He enjoyed painting rocks.
(He got that idea from a friend who visited for coffee.)

Then the Christmas decoration project migrated to the basement playroom. That project is taking much longer then I thought, but I think it is going to turn out well.
On a side note, that basement playroom is a project itself - I have some big plans for it. Now it is just a mess.
Most recently the ongoing Christmas decoration project migrated onto my bed from some post-kid's-bedtime work and TV watching. As you can see, one child missed the bedtime boat and happily watched me work.

Where will I be "project-ing" next?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Here We Go Again

A few days ago, my project table looked like this:
( empty space )
I had finally gotten all my "to do" things done and the table was empty.
I folded it up and reclaimed the nine square feet in my bedroom.
It was amazing how much bigger my bedroom seemed,
and how much neater.
Then I finally ordered our vacation pictures, which need to be scrapbooked.
The two older kids had birthdays and their baby books needed to be updated.
Updating baby books reminded me that I needed to start one for Blair.
The appearance of Christmas decorations in stores reminded me that I had bought some Christmas decoration-making materials at the post-Christmas clearance bonanzas and now they needed making.
Oh, and a work Christmas party and an approaching wedding demanded a new dress.
I got the table back out.

Oh well.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Happy 4th birthday Ian!
Happy 2nd birthday Brynn!
In the past week, my two older children each celebrated a birthday. To honor this event, we invited all the family over for a joint cake-and-ice-cream party. Not just any cake will do for these annual get-togethers however. Since both my younger sister and my sister-in-law make special cakes for their kids' birthdays (they each have a child older then Ian) Ian wanted to join in that fun. In past years we have had fire engine and train cakes, along with a butterfly for Brynn. This year Ian requested a "camouflage army-guy helmet" and Brynn picked out "Hoppy the Bunny" from a cake book (Easy Cut-Up Cakes for Kids).
Like the book said, Brynnie's cake was pretty easy:
Step 1: Bake cake, cool, and freeze (easier to cut that way)
Step 2: Cut up one of the rounds
Step 3: Assemble pieces

Step 4: Frost and decorate

But how in the world do you make a "Camouflage army-guy helmet" from cake and frosting? Here is my interpretation:

I made camouflage by dividing the batter into three parts and using food coloring to get as close as I could to camo colors. Then I plopped spoonfuls of each color randomly into a baking bowl. After it was baked and cooled, I frosted it army green (or the closest I could get with food coloring) and added some insignia (I think I got the insignia wrong, but Ian didn't know any better). With a little imagination, I think you can see a "Camouflage army-guy helmet" there. Either way, it tasted good.

I just had to include this picture of some post-birthday fun: playing picnic with Brynnie's new tea set.

Friday, November 5, 2010

When Sewing Is Fun

If you had told my Mom as little as eight years ago (maybe even six years ago) that her oldest daughter was sewing and especially that she was enjoying it, she would not have believed you. My poor Mom had tried many times over the years to get me "into" her favorite hobby but it never worked. I knew some of the basics, but I just wasn't interested.

Fast-forward a few years and my Mom had a glimmer of hope: I started sewing an occasional skirt or dress, but only if I couldn't find ANYTHING to buy.

Another year or two went past and I bought my own sewing machine (nothing fancy and not all-together trustworthy, but functional). I think Mom was trying to hide her joy at this for fear of scaring me away.

Then, finally, the event occurred that made sewing FUN: I had a baby girl. True, she was my second child, but sewing for a girl is WAY more fun then sewing for a boy!

Tomorrow, that little girl turns two, and I have had a lot of fun sewing a few of her presents.
One was a patchwork quilt for her dolly that I made from my scraps. Most of the pieces match other projects I have made for Brynn in the past months. I've never quilted before, so I'm sure my technique would make a real quilter cringe, but it worked for me.

I also sewed her a dolly diaper bag (Brynn is really into purses, so I know she'll love it) and a nightgown. The bag is another scrap project, made out of an old skirt I was never going to wear again. I bought the flannel for the nightgown at Christmas-time last year, just because I liked it. It took me a long time to find a nightgown pattern because for some reason they are not popular right now, but a few weeks ago I finally had success and managed to finish the project today, just in time for her birthday.

So, happy birthday Brynn, and thanks for making sewing fun.