Sunday, March 1, 2015

Bunny Bedtime Bankies

What's a grandma to do when she has four lively granddaughters, fluffy tails over heels in love with their perky pet stuffed bunnies? What is she to do when Easter's right around the corner and a scrap bag full of snips and snaps of springy colored fabric waits patiently beside her bunny slippered feet? What if she's a flop at applique, and binding makes her go bananas? What if she's decided that each great-grand-bunny needs its own little cozy bed quilt in its own little bedtime basket? What if she decides that those needs need meeting NOW? Quickly! Like a bunny!

Each of my Bunny Bedtime Bankies is 13" x 7.5" and requires very little sewing. Start with a 4" x 7.5" piece that will serve as a pillow. Stitch it to a 2" x 7.5" strip of blanket, followed by another contrasting 8" x 7.5" piece to complete the front. After that, it's time to make a sandwich of matching batting and backing and begin the fun of decorating!

These three little free hand snuggle sisters were traced to fabric prepped with iron on lightweight interfacing. So were the birds, basket and leaves. The flowers are hand made yo yos topped with buttons. Use an ultra-fine point marker for features. Cheeks are touches of pink craft paint. Tear muslin strips and sew them together for tails that pop up everywhere!

Lightly hand quilt - if you must! - around the basket and bunnies. Stitch a line along all four sides, too, to hold everything together when complete.

Don't really know why these bumbling bees decided to bother those bunnies, but there they are! If things get extra-lazy for you - like they did for me! - you can even "fake quilt" with a line of inked stitching around some squares.

This little guy is growing by leaps and bounds - like every good bunny should!

And that is all.

Lights Out!

"Good Night everybunny!"

This original design, like all blog content, is intended for personal use only. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved. Thank you!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

"Little Love Nest" Kissing Booth

I've always wanted to try my hand at a vintage style carnival kissing booth - a real show stopper - loud and gaudy, singing heartily with color and crazy pizzazz. One like this - the perfect party prop for our family Valentine's Day love fest.

No sooner than it was set up, little Kaylee scrambled to be the first to check it out........

.....And was immediately greeted by her first customer! Jersey (rescued, of course!) has always been a perfect gentleman. That's why he waits politely in line for his turn to slurp a cold wet tongue upon those cute and chubby cheeks!

We have a range of prices here, depending on what size of kiss you'd like. But daddies of little girls need not bother with these signs. This is standard policy:

"Kisses For Daddy - Always Free!"

But everybody enjoys a little freebie now and then!
"Help Yourself" is implied, of course........

Ava does exactly that!

Word of the day: "Awww!"
Here's our newest "man of the family." Mommy grabbed him for a smooch before anybody else could. But grandma's next in line. And once I scoop him up, well, good luck getting him back any time soon, everybody!

Happy Valentine's Day, dear readers!
I love you all....every day!

Making your own kissing booth is pretty self explanatory by looking at these photos. Cover 4 sides of a suitable height base box (no larger than 20" x 30" top surface*) with red bulletin board paper. Cut holes into top at center sides to accommodate two 5' upholstery tubes. Cover part of tubes that show with white paper. Remove tubes. Make newspaper pattern of base top, indicating holes cut for tubes. Cut a 20" x 30" foam board to match and lay it in place. (Allow a front overhang of a few inches if desired.) Replace tubes. Position a second foam board to span both tubes, and determine shape and size of archway with a newspaper pattern. Use craft knife to cut it out. Duct tape board to tubes. Decorate, as shown, with bunched up tissue paper, hand made or purchased paper medallions, craft punched birds and hearts, and other paper accents. Paint wooden hearts and glue to empty thread spools to hang printed signs. Cut letters from craft paper and glue to small wooden spools nestled inside tissue paper background.

Red bulletin board paper and 20" x 30" white foam boards are sold at Hobby Lobby and Michael's. Ask for upholstery tubes at fabric stores (including Hobby Lobby).
*That's because 20" x 30" is a standard size foam board.

This original design, like all blog content, is intended for personal use only. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved. Thank you!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Valentine Workshop

"Okay. Lemme see. I want these, and those,
and two more of that and lots and lots more of this!"

Rules, rules, rules! Here come those art teachers - always loaded with them. How nice to attend a crafty event where there aren't any of those pesky things! Well, okay. Not exactly. You can't poke your brother's eye out with scissors and you can't glue your little sister to her chair. But you can dive into grandma's pile of red, white and pink paper, pom poms, buttons, punches, feathers, glitter, stickers, wiggle eyes, markers, paint and crayons and have yourself a merry little valentine making session by putting together anything you want, the way you want it!

We held one of these "do-it-your-own-way" workshops recently and it netted each of six little cousins their own tenderly made stack of cards for mommy, daddy, grandparents and friends. Mommies were right there to help, but creativity spilled independently and abundantly from the hearts - and glitter bottles! - of every little craft maker present.

Young boys gravitate toward things mechanical. Sae operated every paper punch like a pro and was the go-to guy for any shape you took a fancy to! He doesn't know it yet, but he'll find a star shaped one in his bag of valentine goodies from grandma and grandpa!

Little sissy, Angeline, crafts with a delicate hand. One carefully glued item at a time! This one's for mommy, so it has to be perfect!

Twin sissy, Ava, is in love with the look of pom poms!

Somehow I managed to slip in a rule or two. One of them was a designated "glitter station," slightly removed from the enthusiasm of the work table. Here's Nick, carefully considering his choice of color and placement.

Brielle is a lover of butterflies, sparkly jewels and the color pink. She was in valentine heaven!

It's evident that some of us are partial to stickers, others to wiggle eyes. But "everybody and his/her brother" (and sister!) is partial to glue. After allowing a healthier than normal drying time, we admired the fruits of our labor. And you can too, grandma. There's still time! A sweep through Dollar Tree will score you nearly everything you see here. Well, except for the six little artists. Those little love bugs are not for sale!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

U R 2 Cute!

In lots of ways, it's always Valentine's Day over here. When grandkids show up at my door, I squeal in delight, "U R 2 Cute!" That's followed by, "'Luv Bug!' come here and 'Hug Me!'" And "You Bet" that nothing but more "Sweet Talk" punctuates the rest of our time together. Each one of these kids is my "Sweetie," my "Cool Cat," and my "Top Dog!"

I start planning Valentine goodies for them right after Christmas. So far its been little collections of artsy-craftsy supplies. These items keep them busy on cold winter evenings and foster valuable hands-on skills for kids aged two and up. Small packs of brightly colored card stock, craft punches, sketch pads, "smelly" markers, watercolor sets and sticker sheets fill this year's line up of six glossy red paper sacks. I also include Valentine cards, of course, stuffed with a little cash for the toy store. But each "Baby" needs "Something Sweet" too! And this year it comes in the shape of a grandma-made Rice Krispie "Bear Hug" peeking coyly over the top of each gift bag!

Here's what you'll need to make one 3" Rice Krispie teddy bear pop:

I cup Rice Krispie cereal
1/2 tablespoon butter
1.5 oz. mini marshmallows + a few extras for use as "glue"
3 black candy Pearls
1 small conversation heart candy
24" length 3/8" wide Valentine ribbon
1 paper Valentine straw
Pointed wooden skewer and kitchen scissors (optional) for use as sculpting tools

And here's what you'll do:

1. Melt butter in small pan. Add marshmallows and stir to melt together. Gradually add cereal, working quickly to incorporate all.

2. As soon as mixture is cool enough to handle, tightly compress two balls, 2" for body and 1.5" for head. Add a 1/2" oval shaped ball to lower front of face for muzzle. Press head and body together to hold.

3. From remaining cereal form two ears and press to top of head. Form 2 tubes, each 2" long, for arms and attach - leave 1/2" space at center front for candy heart. Form 2 tubes, each 1.5" long, for legs and attach.

If you have difficulty making the parts attach, melt a few extra marshmallows for use as "glue." Apply it with the wooden skewer and press to hold until firm. If needed, use scissors to trim ears neatly.

4. Poke holes into head and nestle candy Pearls for eyes and nose. Attach candy heart.
5. Wrap ribbon around neck and tie into a 4 loop bow.
6.  Poke hole into center bottom of bear and insert straw.

So, what do you think?
"Too Cute"?
"I Do!"

This original design, like all blog content, is intended for personal use only. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved. Thank you!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Welcome "Grow Your Blog" Guests!

2 Bags Full

Hello Friends!

If you are a new visitor, you are likely to be a guest of today's "Grow Your Blog" party. I joined this event two years ago and was delighted by the number and quality of talented fabric artists I met. Quilters, weavers, knitters, cross stitchers, crafters and hookers (the "yarny" kind only!) flocked together, herded in and sorted out by the lovely Vicki at 2 Bags Full Blogspot for the purpose of sharing with and inspiring one another. This truly special annual event attracts over 400 participants and opens today for its third appearance.

Vicki requests that entrants introduce themselves, giving an overview of blog topics featured.

I write as a grandmother of seven, one fully engaged in the lives of those children. They range in age from one newly born to a twin pair of six year old Kindergarten students.

I began to blog as a way to organize memories of creative activities I've enjoyed with my grandchildren. As readers discovered my posts and commented favorably on them, I realized I'd erected a platform from which to encourage other "grand-women" to make their homes a place unlike any other - an irresistible magnet, a welcoming haven of comfort, love, affirmation, spontaneous originality and infectious joy for the entire extended family.

My blog is the story of how I've accomplished that for myself, delighting the children in my life and bonding us all together into a strong, happy, fun loving family unit.

We are a crafty bunch, working together on a regular basis and making a "big deal" out of everything. For example, these long, cuddly fleece snakes were the highlight of a two day "Snake Festival" - one that squirmed and hissed with "everything snakey!" - fun facts and fearsome food included!

I include step by step instructions for making many of my original designs, including these crazy-eyed snakes!

One year, we attempted to grow pumpkins in my backyard. Well, Boo! Too much shade and too many deer. But we sure had fun watering - and watering and watering and watering and watering! - the skinny plants we grew from seed. And we made our own kid-designed "Scare Monster" to watch over them too!

We do "regular" things too. We paint and draw and sculpt cute little critters from clay. And once our inventory is substantial, we pin everything up on a clothesline and invite every single adoring adult family member to come shop themselves silly. We sell home made popcorn and stuff our cute little grandma-provided wallets fat with lots of cash and coin!

We bake "sugar bug cookies" to sell at our own bake sale and sculpt snowmen out of popcorn.

We've gone on a "Monster Hunt" in the woods, seeking paper mache creatures constructed solely for the purpose of being found back there, hiding in spooky darkness!

I show you how to make these for your own hunt, too.

You never know what you'll find in those woods! On "Dino Day" we dug for eggs back there after a tasty lunch of meatball boulders, bread stick bones and a mashed potato volcano!

Ever held a family spelling bee? We do! Every year! And even if you "buzz out," there's a cute cookie waiting for you!

I think it's unanimous. The event I'm most noted for is our Family Carnival. I've hosted three so far, each one bigger and better, according to the 20+ kids who attend. This grandma skimps on nothing! Festive food, clever booths, colorful games and prizes, prizes, PRIZES!

We celebrate each and every holiday as if it's our last on the planet!

"Maca-moldy Mason Jar Monsters" provide a bit of healthy Halloween eating.....

And a zany little easy-to-make cat candy jar serves sweet snacks

At Christmas, grandkids serve themselves from a cute food spread at "Mrs. Santa's Cafeteria" - a fun spin on the traditional "Kids' Table!"

Easter is fun too. My perky little bunnies are simple to make and just the right size to fill the palm of a little guest at grandma's family feast.

The kids make and decorate baskets for everyone too. They're paper mache with big, floppy, colorful ribbon handles.

Sometimes I make things to store away until the kids are older and will appreciate them more. Vintage Mason jars belonged to the great great grandmothers of my granddaughters. I fashioned them into sewing caches with pincushion tops to present on the day they are old enough to attempt tentative hand stitching for the first time.

And what kind of a grandmother would I be if I didn't quilt or own a multitude of cats? I have a half dozen over here. Of each.

"Iggy" welcomes you to read about how I became a quilter over many years of trial and error, coupled with my passion for rescuing feral and discarded cats.

And I welcome you to join me on my blogging journey if what you've seen here appeals to you! Thank you sincerely, new friend, for stopping by!

recently completed:
at left: Starflower
at right: Triple Irish Chain

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Pennywise Play School Set

Playing school. My sisters and I were addicted. I recall the experience as not so much reinforcement of academic skills, but more of playacting to sort out social issues that were happening at school. Our "students" were hand drawn faces of classmates, cut out and lined up in rows. In this classroom, I made sure I never sat anywhere near "Jimmy." Due to alphabetical last name fate in real life, I was destined to sit behind him throughout most of my elementary career. One day he turned around to sneak a glance at my spelling paper. With a swish of my pleated plaid uniform skirt, I marched up to teacher's desk to report him. "Sister! James has tried to copy my spelling test!" Swift in the department of justice, Sister soon had James cornered in the hallway. When he slunk back to his seat, he managed to hiss at me, "I have snakes in my backyard and I am going to catch a big one and put it in your book bag!" And so it was on between James and myself. But not for the reason you think. My beef with him was that he never produced the reptile that animal loving, second grader me looked forward to owning as a pet. Jimmy left me with a broken heart and a cardboard box lid lovingly prepped with cotton fluff, "snake toys," a cushy doll blanket and a reserved spot on the sunniest window sill in my bedroom.

Final score: James: 01 -  Prissy Tattle Tale: 00

But enough about me and my half century old tale of woe. I observe today that my grandsons have never shown an interest in playing school. But four year old Bree? Oh my. She's been all in since starting pre-school last year. It's gotta be strictly a girlie thing. And I'm so happy to indulge her.

When this young lady was newly born, I pounced on a play school set that would have sent my sisters and I over the moon. A triple fold board stands up to serve as teacher's backdrop for unlimited learning joy. Maps, hallway passes, stickers, a nifty little plastic pointer - everything included, save for a dozen or so generously loved, mangy stuffed animal "students." No prob. We've got those of our own in abundance!

But the more Bree played, the more I studied that board. As much as this toy delighted her, it was not a bargain! Piece by piece, I challenged myself to not just duplicate, but improve the experience for less than $20 and a trip to Dollar Tree. And this time? Triumph! I'm the winner!

Grandma: 01 - Overpriced Toy Store: 00

Here's what I bought at Dollar Tree, clockwise from top left, to make a triple fold, two sided learning center:

1 set of learning center posters
1 set of Telling Time/attendance posters (packaged together)
1 US map
1 pack of bulletin board trim
1 alphabet practice dry erase board
1 set of stickers
1 set of sight word strips
1 note pad cube
1 plain dry erase board
1 clear plastic storage folder
1 set of decorative awards (not shown)
3 white 20" x 30" foam boards (not shown)

Total $14.00

You will also need:

white duct tape, strong glue (such as Gorilla), rubber cement, Velcro scraps, clip clothespins, 20" narrow ribbon or string and craft paper. I also used leftover red dotted border trim from another project.

1. Use white duct tape to connect foam boards together along 30" sides.

2. Make center board (shown at top) by framing inside with trim or paper scraps. Glue "Reading Center" poster at top, centered. Cut triangles from paper scraps and run a thin line of glue along right angle edges only. Position to hold removable sight word strips and glue down. Attach alphabet dry erase board with Velcro on optional paper background.

3. Make left side board by gluing on Telling Time poster and attendance chart poster. Glue clothespin to right side and clip on dry erase pen tied with ribbon. Cut or punch weather/season symbols and glue on, along with border trim and a second clothespin for notes. This panel is where students gather to begin the day with a review of the month, day of the week, time and weather.

4. Make right side by framing top 2/3 with trim. Use strong glue to attach dry erase board and incentive awards. Glue plastic storage pocket below using strong glue. Place stickers and supplies inside of it.

5. Make reverse side left and center boards by trimming outside edges of map and cutting into two sections to fit foam panels. Glue on with rubber cement.
6. Make reverse side right panel by framing with trim and gluing "Art Center" poster at top, centered. Glue on 4 rectangles of scrap paper and attach clothespins for holding art work as shown.

A double sided play center allows two little teachers to participate while rotating students from one center to another.

And if anyone wants to pass out grades, I'll take my A+ right now. When Little Miss Teacher arrived, her bright blue eyes popped wide open and she exclaimed, "This is for me?! Really?!" - and got right to work!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas 2014: Unwrapped

The Christmas season is like a beautifully wrapped gift. When presented, it delivers joyful anticipation. "For me? Oh my! Why thank you! Whatever could it be?"

And then the careful process of opening begins....

Formal evening dinner at grandma's welcomes every member of the family. We've grown, from just the five of us, to eight adults as sons-in-law joined us over the years. My favorite moments include the quiet time before arrival when candlelit places are set, crab bisque is ready to be ladled and hands will soon join in grateful prayer for the blessing of togetherness.

Grandchildren, six so far, occupy the nearby "kids' table." But that's not, by any means, the first "cousin event" of the season. That honor goes to "Christmas Movie Night" at Aunt Christy's. And while the feature title responds to currently popular demand, many things remain the same. Aunt Mary Jo's annual gift of matching jammies keep hot-chocolate-sipping and popcorn-munching kids comfy and cute. This year, Brielle's canopied bed was the site of tumbling chaos for parental paparazzi pictures!

I'm delighted that my daughter chose "Elf on the Shelf" pjs. We're all fans of that little tattle tale, and "elf haters" don't bother us one bit. Our kids excitedly exchange escapade details with cousins and classmates and follow every ritualistic rule. Family bonding, creative thinking, early morning anticipation - each one further enriches the best time of the year!

Christmas cookies - we bake 'em, we eat 'em! This is our fourth year of doing that together, and more pint size participants seem to pop up annually. This year there were seven present - the newest (he'll be born on December 26th!) tucked inside mommy's tummy, hiding behind one of three aprons I made for my daughters to wear each year from now on.

A half dozen hand print reindeer blaze across the bottom half. Wisely, I've left room for more! A wreath of buttoned up yo yos graces the bodice. Hand quilted snow swirls fill in the background and everything else is outlined in stitches.

Grandma's very first Christmas 2010 Cookie Baking Party hosted just the boys - age two at the time. This year, along with Brielle at four, the "big kids" are old pros at the sprinkle station and handle those icing bottles with confident ease.

Youngest of the baking bunch, Kaylee, a newbie at the decorating table, declares,
"I have an icing bottle and I know how to use it!"

And even though dainty little Angeline prefers to taste each morsel before proceeding, there are still plenty of intact and yummy cookies for each family to take home and enjoy!

Nick gets it. "We did that last year!" he shouts when dinner is dismissed and we gather for grandma's "enhanced" reading of "The Night Before Christmas." I'm a "tradition-maker" if there ever was one, and so indeed, my sweet little Nick, this is the second year grandchildren cluster at my feet with fuzzy pet finger puppet mice to raise up with shouts of glee whenever grandma randomly inserts the word "mouse" into the tale of that storied "little old driver" who will forever be "so lively and quick!"

I can't help but wonder how many years I might be indulged with willing participation in this ritual. And if some day, many years ahead, these children will rediscover a familiar furry face tucked away among ornaments of old. I hope they will smile warmly at the memory of Christmas eves clustered with cousins alongside the tree, listening for the magic word!

And then it happens.

Present time!

The speculation is nearly as much fun as the opening....

But not really!.......

Yes, over here grandchildren are indulged. But each of the older ones has been guided by parents wise and compassionate to give time, talent and treasure to those less fortunate. The boys are finally old enough to volunteer at the animal shelter, walking dogs and petting cats. Each child also purchased a toy from savings to donate to another, one whom they will never meet. For that reason, the pride I feel over their own generosity makes these moments so much more special. They've given us all so much. It's their turn to receive.

I'm given presents too. This despite my assertion that grandmothers don't really want "things" from their children, they just want to do things with them! But I get both. And I am very grateful. There's a lovely box of "made-by-mommy-and-me" fudge from Brielle. Wow. Squares and squares of different flavors and toppings - so good - too good, really! I'm glad grandpa has his own. Mine are just for me!

Wine, too! Bottles large and lovely. If you ever hear that this grandma "got run over by a reindeer," you'd be wise to suspect my now fully stocked wine rack as a contributing factor!

And then there's this zany and utterly charming critter! He's crafted of wild bird seed and comes with his own pet mouse and a wire rack for hanging outside. It will be tricky to set it where our well pampered squirrels can't make short order lunch of it, but this "crazy cat lady" is really delighted with her new and fanciful feline!

Speaking of new pets, this one appeared on Christmas morning, left by Santa at Brielle's house. She was quickly named "Elfie," allowing me to add a great-grand-pig to my collection of little ones to love!

"Squeak! I'm as cute as a button!"

Inside my gift of Christmas I found the joy of Jesus in family fun, friendly faces and festive food. I found a fortune in fabulous fudge! I found cousins and cookie crumbs and the blessing of beautiful daughters and handsome and loving sons. I found presents to open and many to give. I found meaningful memories, prayers and peace.......

and just one more thing too!
 - this cute little face,
frosted in green and sprinkled in blue!

And this was my Christmas.