Blog Archives

DIY – Word Blocks

A little while back I came across the idea of using megablocks to help with phonics skills and fluency.  I thought it was a great idea.  I’ll try to find the website where I first saw it, and will share it when I do.  For now though, here’s our take on it:

Seeing how the girl has outgrown her megablocks and generally is using lego for building, I loved the idea of repurposing her old blocks.  So today I pulled out my label maker and her box of blocks and set to work.  This should give new life to all her old sets, that haven’t seen the light in several months.

I decided to put both a capitalized and lowercase version of the same word on each block.  This way, when we start worrying more about proper capitalization her blocks will still be useful for her.  Eventually I’ll be adding a whole lot more words – including many she has requested herself – as well as doubling up some blocks with words like is, was, it, and…  as many of them can be used twice in the same super silly, extra long, sentence.

We also decided to use many of her blocks with stickers on them.  You know how some sets (like Kai Lan and Diego) have themed stickers that get applied to some blocks?  Well, we’ve labeled those too – with Kid kid’s choice of words.  It can be nice for early readers to have visual hints when still working towards reading fluency.

So, here are our blocks.  I ran out of tape in my label maker, so had to stop a little earlier than I’d have liked.  But we still had enough finished to have a bit of fun.  Lily-Ann loved my “Dad was stinky” sentence, and I loved that her very first one was “Lily-Ann is cute”.  😉

 

Our Little DIY Art Center

The challenge for the 25th was “something you made” and for the 26th it’s “colour”.  Again hitting two birds with one stone, here’s a photograph that covers both topics:

Our little DIY art center, created from an old corner TV stand.

 

For my fellow DIYers out there, I know you’ve seen the “play kitchens” made from old TV cabinets.  Well, we created kid kid’s art center from a corner TV stand.  We pulled out the dvd storage, added storage for her art supplies (they are bamboo kitchen utensil caddies), put up some of her finished art projects, and in a few hours we went from an unused, unwanted, fast-becoming-archaic piece of furniture into a desk/hutch that gets used daily.

Lots of colour, and lots of things we’ve made.  🙂

photo a day challenge for january

A Vanity for Lily-Ann

Well, tonight the girl and I went shopping.  It was after supper, so we knew even if we were successful on our hunt, that our project wouldn’t actually get started tonight, but it was worth going to look – just the same.  We spent a couple hours checking out all our options before making a choice, and I think it will be workable.

The vanity I built myself when we first bought the house has been overloaded the last couple of years as Lily-Ann amasses more and more of her own things, and further develops her own style.  My vanity now overflows with things belonging to both of us, in containers, in piles, stuck in travel totes because there’s no room for it all.  Something had to change.  And with the girl’s fifth birthday around the corner, the two of us figure it’s time she had a vanity of her own.  Hence the shopping trip.

We live in a small space, so purchasing a vanity just isn’t an option.  That’s why I built mine to begin with.  It’s small, and is basically a glorified shelf jutting out of the wall at the right height with a couple more shelves on the side for storage of large non-everyday essentials.  Hers needs to be even smaller.

It took a lot of imagining…  checking out what we could find, how we could repurpose it, what we could change, what we couldn’t.  And I think we may have found something that we can make work.  It’s supposed to be a towel caddy, for hanging multiple bath towels.  But by pulling out the lower shelf, and adding something over the top (like a breakfast tray), I think we’ll be able to make it work perfectly for her.  It wasn’t quite what I imagined, but I think it will work just fine.

I love living in our small house.  Though it can be a challenge at times, I like how close it helps us to be.  There isn’t room to get away from one another, so we are physically and emotionally closer.  But there are times – like trying to make the most out of our bathroom space – when it can present some inspiring quandaries.

DIY Fish Bowl Tissue Paper Lanterns

This year the kid and I worked on several projects for Valentine’s Day.  We did up individually wrapped cupcakes with hand made heart flag picks.  We created 20 foam bookmarks for her friends and her Pop Pop (and one for her too).  We worked on some scrapbook pages, and did a lot of colouring too.  But I think our most impressive item this year were the two tissue paper lanterns we made for her Daddy and her Grams.

tissue paper lanterns - fish bowl

For such a simple craft project, they are awfully impressive.  And it really is something you can do from start to finish in an hour (not including clean-up, which definitely includes a bath or shower).  Here’s a list of what you need:

  • various colours of tissue paper
  • fish bowls (or other glass containers – a used/clean pickle jar would work)
  • white school glue
  • water
  • glitter
  • decorative stones (optional)
  • candle(s)
  • paint brush(es)

heart lantern

First things first! 

Make sure your glassware is clean.  We used old fish bowls that we purchased at one of our favourite thrift stores.  Real fish shouldn’t live in bowls, but that doesn’t mean fish bowls aren’t good for other things.  An old pickle jar or jam jar would work well too.

Mix up your paste!

Roughly 3 parts white school glue with 1 part warm water is perfect.  Don’t worry about being finicky over the measurements.  You just want the paste a little more watery than it comes straight from the store.

Prepare your tissue paper!

For the fishy lantern we used white, turquoise, blue, and red tissue paper.  For the heart lantern we used white, turquoise, pink, and red.

Tear the white into pieces about 2″ x 2″…  again, don’t stress too much about the size or uniformity.  It doesn’t really matter all that much.  Too small and they take longer to put on, too big and you end up with a lot of wrinkles – but either way?  They’ll still turn out great.   If you are doing a fish themed lantern, tear your turquoise (or light blue) paper into wavy strips about 2″ long by 1″ high.

Fold the remaining coloured papers so that you have six or more layers.  Cutting multiple layers at once will save you a lot of time – but if you’re little ones are old enough to cut out some shapes too, this isn’t such a big deal.  Choose the type of shape (we did fish for the one, and hearts for the other) and cut away.  Vary your sizes.  Having everything big or everything little isn’t nearly as fun as a good mixture.

Get messy!

Take your paint brush and paint some of the glue/water mixture onto the outside of the glass.  Working in small areas, start covering the entire surface with the white tissue paper pieces.  Paint the paste under and over each piece.  While it’s still wet, sprinkle a little glitter here and there.  You can skip this step, but it’s awfully purty.

Now start on your more decorative layer.  To make it look like water, start the turquoise about 1/4 of the way down – so you have some white still visible at the top – and work your way down, covering all the remaining white.  For the heart lantern go to town, place things wherever you feel like (this would also work for stars or any other shape you come up with).  If you are doing a fish lantern, the fishies will be your very top layer.  And again, make sure you have the glue/water paste both under and over each tissue paper layer.

Finishing touches!

In the fish lantern we chose to put some decorative blue crystals in the bottom prior to placing the candle.  But didn’t do the same for the heart lantern.  We also used a permanent marker and wrote the date and the girls name on the bottom of each lantern on the exposed glass.

That’s it!

Super easy peasy, right?  And they are sooo cute!

 

 

 

The upcycled cardboard dollhouse, fit for polly pocket sized princesses.

The last two mornings the girlie and I have been working on a craft project.  I see a sturdy, unused, cardboard box and all I see are possibilities.  🙂  So, this time, we made a three level dollhouse for all of her little princesses and polly pocket dolls.

The first day I found a box with a flap I could cut off to create the second floor.  Folded the ends under and trimmed a bit off, while the girlie painted wall paper and designed flooring.  We also washed out some juice boxes and set them out to dry.

Today we glued in all the flooring and wallpaper.  Wrapped up the beds, and cut out headboards and foot-boards….  glued them all together and glued the beds into place.  We made a table from a fruit cup container and a round piece of paper.  The girlie cut out plates and glued paper food onto each plate, which were glued onto the table (which was also glued into place).  A couple finishing touches – like the construction paper pool filled with tissue paper water.  And it was complete.

All in all, a pretty easy little project that I know Lily-Ann will enjoy playing with for quite a while.  Who knows how long it will last…  but hey!  It was made entirely from repurposed trash and paper,  so however long it lasts is good by me.  🙂

Here are some pictures of her new dollhouse:

first floor diningroom, second floor bedroom

three beds and a rug/bed for the cat

rooftop pool and "grass" covered patio

 

10 Steps to a Toilet Paper Tube Starter Garden

Today we’re going to do things a little different.  Instead of just sharing a photo with you, I’ve got ten.  And the wee girlie and I, will share our steps to making your own starter garden.  No need to have a greenhouse, when you have reusable items laying around the house.

Step One:

Gather all your materials!  Lily-Ann says you’ll need “toilet paper rolls, toilet paper rolls, toilet paper rolls, toilet paper rolls.  And things to put in the toilet paper rolls: DIRT!”  But you’ll also need clear containers, scissors, and seeds.

Gather Your Materials

Step Two:

Cut the tubes!”  Roughly in half is perfect.

Cut the Tubes

Step Three:

Show off your tubes!  Okay.  LOL  You caught us.  It’s not really a step…  but the wee girlie wanted to show off the tubes she helped cut.  LOL

Show Off Your Halved Tubes

Step Four:

Lily-Ann, we can’t keep calling these steps if you’re just wanting to share pictures of what you’ve done.  Folks are going to stop reading.  We need to tell them what to do so they can plant seeds inside too.  “Okay momma.  Uno mas?”  Okay, Kid Kid, one more.

Lily's Pile of Halved Toilet Tubes

Step Five:

Snip, snip, snip the tubes.

That’s right, cut (or snip) several slits into the side of each tube half.  Cut about half way up the side, and put between four and six slits in each one.

Snip Each Halved Tube Several Times

Step Six:

Now like this…”  Lily-Ann demonstrates in the air how to fold the tubes.  “See?

A Half Tube With the Cut End Folded In

Step Seven:

I don’t remember…  You tell me Mother?”  hehehe…  Next you put the soil – “DIRT!” – yes, dirt, into each tube.  Do this AS you are folding tubes.  You need the moisture and weight of the dirt to hold the folded bottoms together.  They will just keep popping open otherwise.  Trust me, we tried folding a bunch first.  LOL  It didn’t work.

The Wee Girlie Scoops Dirt Into a Folded Tube

Step Eight:

We’re almost done.  “Now Seeds!!!”  That’s right.  Open a package of seeds, and pick out a seed.

Lily-Ann's Chosen Seeds - Sweet Peas!

Step Nine:

Put it right in the middle with dirt all around.”  Got that?  Pop a seed into the middle of each toilet paper tube starter.  Just leave it sitting out on the top.  As you’ll see from our picture, it doesn’t have to be RIGHT in the middle.  A toddlers estimation of “middle” is perfect.  🙂  And honestly?  I’m sure if one or two get stuck right on the edge of the roll they’d sprout just fine.

A Seed in Each Starter Tube

Step Ten:

Cover the seeds (if required) with a thin layer of soil, then close the containers and “Go play upstairs!

Okay, so the process is a little long to hold the rapt attention of a two and a half year old for it’s entirety.  But I thought she did pretty good.  She helped every step of the way – including uploading my photos AND writing this post.  Her exclamation of Go Play was the end though, with it, she lept off the chair and ran off to entertain herself elsewhere.

All Done!

Hope this gives you the courage to try a little repurposing of your own.  🙂  It’s super easy to take household garbage and give it a new life.  Even in a project as easy as this one.  Toilet paper rolls would have made it into our compost (where the plants would have gotten them eventually anyway) and the flimsy bakery plastic that one occasionally brings home on a whim would have ended up in a landfill.  So hold onto them next time and you’ll have a mini-greenhouse for your toilet paper tube starters.  Your own little counter top garden.

A New Dress for Lily-Ann

As a crafty type, and an environmentalist, I really enjoy working with repurposed items.  So, when I found a tattered old peasant style dress in a bin of things on their way out of my parents house, I grabbed it.  The dress was a size small ladies, in a really unattractive cut.  LOL  But the fabric was a beautiful cotton, wearing through in places, but still lovely.  I couldn’t resist turning it into something new and lovely for the wee girlie.  So here she is…  spinning and LOVING her new “princess dress”.  😀

Lily-Ann in her new dress

Twirling!

The wee girlie in her pretty new princess dress.

Spinning!

This old suit…

I’m all about ecological design…  in all it’s various sundry forms.  This particular shot happens to be of my bag (a laptop bag I’m using as a purse).  It’s a Rumah Kampung bag, the ABBY flatpack.  The designer takes old mens suits and repurposes them into gorgeous bags and purses.  Really beautiful work.  I’ll be highlighting them in an upcoming piece at Pure Greenius (http://www.puregreenius.ca/) so I suppose this is a bit of a sneak peek.  LOVE my bag!

upcycled mens suit becomes fashionable bag

this old suit

You can get your own upcycled eco suit bag at http://RumahKampung.etsy.com/

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