Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cool Crochet

A few weeks before today's date nine years ago, my grandmother attempted to teach my sister and I how to crochet.  My great-grandmother was in the hospital at the time, and I believe it was a method of keeping us girls occupied and quiet while we spent many hours visiting with her there.  My great-grandmother passed away on December 15, 2002, and after that I never tried to crochet again.  Until now.

My new obsession, also known as Pinterest, made it perfectly clear to me there are so many things I want to be doing that I'm not.  People are so darn crafty and creative, and I want in on that!  I kept coming across some beautiful pictures of things people have made such as cowls, headbands, baby booties, etc.  I set a goal to teach myself how to crochet all over again and get started making something, anything!

Looking back all I really remembered about our lessons in that hospital room was that the yarn was white or maybe cream and that we wanted to make scarves.  I couldn't even remember if it was actually crochet or knitting (I had to look up the difference to figure it out)!  I also fairly certain we never made anything that could have passed for a washcloth, let alone a scarf.  I also had to look up what I would need to get started.  I had no idea there were so many different types of yarn and so many sizes of crochet hooks.  On a tip from a great friend, I checked out YouTube and found some how to videos.  This one,, seemed to be one of the most helpful.  I took her recommendation for what type of yarn and hook to start out with and immediately made a trip to the store to get them.

I only picked up two skeins of yarn, two crochet hooks, and a package of yarn needles.  For less than $10, I was starting a new hobby.  One that is entirely portable, lightweight, and you can put down and pick back up whenever you need to, which is quite often when you have little ones running around the house.

After watching nearly every result for the search "how to crochet" on YouTube, I got started.  About fifty tries later, I had my first row of single crochet.  Even once I got going, I can't tell you how many times I pulled out multiple rows, all the way down to the first chain, and started over.  Practice makes perfect right?

Well it is by no means perfect, but I am so happy I picked up this new hobby.  It's been a couple of weeks and here's what I have so far.  There are a few spots where it's not consistent, I missed a stitch on a row, or I added one by mistake.  I quit pulling out rows when that happened because I like the idea of this being my first piece and imperfect.  I hope to hang on to it and compare it to something I crochet years from now!  My daughter wanted to check out what I was doing and tried to run away with the yarn pulling a bunch of it off the roll.  As you can see I've got a bit to untangle before I can keep going now, but that's okay.  I get excited by the thought of being able to pass this skill on to her one day (when I actually have skill at it!), but for now I am just enjoying the fact that I'm making something.

It will still be a long time before I get to anything fancy like baby booties or flower bows, but I got started and that's the first step. I think my great grandmother would be happy to know that I've finally picked this back up, and I hope she knows that I'm thinking about her today.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Fall Craft Projects

It's probably taboo to post more than one blog a day, but in sticking to my new approach of making this a place to share all the great things we do around here...I just had to get in a couple of the fall crafts we've made recently (and not so recently). Especially since it's mid-December, and I'll be posting a bunch of winter and Christmas crafts soon!

Create Your Own Tree:
Every fall I like to do something with leaves. This was one of my favorites from last year and I'm so glad I have a few pictures still to be able to share it.  Its hard to tell which part is more fun, gathering all the supplies from the backyard or actually putting it together.  We took a trip down to the park on the day we made this project so he had a great opportunity to find lots of goodies while walking there and back.  And I let him put everything in the pumpkin bucket he uses for Trick-or-Treating which somehow just added to the fun!

I had him create a tree on construction paper out of all the leaves and twigs he found.  We took a blue piece of construction paper (so it would look like sky), and glued on a strip of green construction paper for the grass.  Then we glued on a few twigs to look like the trunk of a tree and some branches.  We added some pretty fall leaves and even a few flowers to complete the look.  It was adorable!!  And it hung on our fridge for months until all the pieces got brittle and started falling apart.

My little cutie.  He looks so small here; I can't believe how much he's grown in just one year.  I almost had him do the same thing this year, but decided we should try something new.  This year's leaf project was a wreath.  It was very simple, but still adorable, and is still hanging in our kitchen.

Leaf Wreath:
All of the leaves he found here came out of our backyard.  He picked out some really great ones and really colorful too!  The wreath is actually a paper plate that you fold in half and cut out the inner circle to make the ring shape.  Then I used a hole punch to make to small holes in the top of the plate.  Take some yarn and string through the hole and tie in a knot or bow to hang the wreath by.  Do that part first so that you don't have to go back and find the holes after your kids gets all crazy with gluing the leaves on and covers them up (can you guess which we did first?).

Once the leaves are all glued on, let it lay flat for a little while to make sure all the glue has time to dry and then hang on your wall, a door, or in the window.  You can use this opportunity to talk to your kids about why leaves change color, about different types of trees, or what type of trees the leaves came from.  There are lots of possibilities here.

Here is the finished wreath hanging on our wall.  We had a handful of leaves leftover and the circle leftover from cutting out the center of the paper plate, so my son was definitely not ready to stop with the glue:

He made a second one by just gluing on everything that was left!

Thanksgiving Turkeys:
No fall craft season is complete without a turkey.  Last year we did a hand and foot turkey.  The body is made by tracing your child's feet and the feathers are made my tracing their hands.  The rest of the pieces were just cut out from the scraps of construction paper left over, and we drew on the eyes (although googly eyes would be super cute on this too).

This year's turkey project was a little more complex but so darn cute!  I made one right along with him which is probably one of the greatest parts of doing these craft projects!  I wish I could take credit for the idea, but someone beat me to this one.  Here's a link to the website ToddlerToddler where the project came from:  A supply list and step by step instructions are included.

I took their suggestion at the bottom of the page to use these turkeys as a Thanksgiving centerpiece.  They sat back to back on our table for a few days and were absolutely adorable.  Both the kids loved playing with them before dinner too.

Shopping List & Coupon Holder in One!

Today's blog is brought to you buy things that make my life easier.  I stumbled upon this little trick because every time I need to write down my grocery list I can never find a scrap piece of paper my kids haven't colored all over, and I never remember to put those magnetic shopping lists back on the fridge!

One day when I was planning my next shopping trip, I looked everywhere for something decent to write my list on.  The only blank thing in the entire house I could find was an envelope.  As it turns out, it's actually a great size for a shopping list, just long enough to cover everything I need and much sturdier than a regular sheet of paper too.  And the bonus that makes it the only thing I use to write my shopping lists now:  a perfect place to keep my coupons!  I used to always dig through my purse or my diaper bag (somehow this is where all my coupons end up) trying to find them while waiting in line at the checkout.  But now they are nicely tucked in the envelope I've been using to check off my list throughout the store.  And much quicker to reference to make sure I'm getting the right quantities or brand name for the coupon if necessary!

And when you're on a budget, like most of us are, the blank envelope also provides plenty of space for keeping a tally of your total as you're checking off your list.  Although those little magnetic shopping list pads are cute to hang on the fridge, I'll leave them for writing down a quick note or making a paper airplane for me son.  That is whenever I find them.  I'm pretty sure they disappear to the same place my Chapstick does after I use it once.  I wish I knew where that place was!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pretend Baby Wipes Case

I realize I haven't blogged in a while.  The majority of my blogs are about food, and I haven't been cooking much new lately and haven't been eating all that healthy either.  But I decided I'm not going to let that stop me from enjoying blogging.  This blog should be more than just what I cook.  I want to start sharing more of the activities we do with the kids, crafts,  snacks, or just any good ideas I come across (there's one every once in a while I think!).

Today is going to be about one of those good ideas.  Pinterest (my new obsession, seriously!) led me to this one.  Here's the link to the blog that was pinned:  The idea is brilliant really.  If you have a kid, they've undoubtedly at least once pulled every single wipe out of the baby wipes container.  Mine do it from the container I keep at the changing station and from the portable one in the diaper bag.  It drives me nuts, and when I saw this on Pinterest I knew I had to do it!

This mom used a Huggies wipes case and took scraps of fabric and sewed them together for her son to pull out of the wipes case.  I'm terrible at sewing, so I took some old clothes that weren't in the best shape and just cut them up into shapes that somewhat resemble a rectangle.  I didn't sew them together, because this way they can pull them out one by one and toss them everywhere just like they do the real wipes!  I also couldn't find a regular wipes case not in use (although I swear there should be at least 10 around here somewhere), so I used a Kandoo flushable wipes case.  It's more colorful and I think works well for a pretend wipes case.

My 4 year old appears to love the idea, and he's the one who usually gets into my regular wipes.  However, he's quick to teach his baby sister everything so hopefully she enjoys the pretend wipes case as well.  I'm hoping this quick (and completely free!!) project saves me a lot of money by having no more wasted baby wipes!