Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spangled Bangles

"Great Expectations" - not just the title of a Dickens novel! Sometimes they are what grandma entertains while assembling an afternoon of springtime crafting fun. Last year, I reason, we made an Easter basket for each member of the family. This year we'll employ the same method - paper mache - to make gifts of bangle bracelets for each of the ladies. The boys won't really be left out, either. They love painting and decorating and making things for mommy and their two year old twin sisters. Grandma will set the completed bangles aside and the kids will enjoy handing them out before Easter dinner. I smile in delight at that vision. Everybunny's gonna love this one!

So grandma lays out an inviting table of pretty pastel paint, yards and yards of coordinating ribbon, bunny stickers galore, fuzzy little chicks and a dozen or more unpainted bracelets, dry from the week before and ready to go.

Brielle makes her choice. A striking vivid blue sets the background tone and tiny twinkling jewels dance between a flutter of butterfly decals. She is delighted with it. Slaps it on her wrist and declares that she's wearing it home. That day. I sink in my chair and ask if she'd rather save it for Easter. "No, I'm taking it home. Today!" she insists.

I turn my attention to the boys. Sae is elbow deep in green and brown paint. "Camo!" he gleefully shouts, holding high his choice and basking deeply in brother's unabashed admiration. This time I'm the one who insists it goes home with him today!

Nothing prepares me for what I see next. Nick's engrossed in a bracelet covered solid black. Black. Pairs of peering wiggle eyes drip with glue and encircle the surface. "I'm wearing this one on Halloween!" he proclaims with gusto. Bree and Sae smile their heartfelt approval.

So. Great expectations. Sometimes that's as far as grandma's visions go! I realize then that it'll be me who does the painting, sticking and bejeweling if my basket-of-spangled-bangles-for-springtime is ever to be filled to brimming. But that's okay......

Would I really want grandsons who sit here like prissy princesses, painting pastel posies to perfection? (yes) Well, no! of course not!!!

Make a paper mache bangle by cutting a strip of thin cardboard (1" - 2.5" wide) to size, allowing an inch extra for overlap and padding. Tape ends together. Wrap bracelet in strips of paper towel to give shape. Tear strips of newspaper, dip in flour and water mixture the consistency of craft glue and wrap 3 layers around to cover. Allow bracelet to dry, then paint with gesso so pastel colors will show up brightly. Decorate with cute Easter goodies.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Bunnies 'n Buttons

I'm already hoppin' about for the next holiday. I'll have a houseful here for Easter and I'm hopin' to keep everybunny happy! For the first year ever we'll have an equal amount of adults and kids. Yikes! -  they're gaining on us! Even though the littlest guy won't be showing up in person until his early July due date, that still leaves seven seated at the kids' table. Those lil munchkins will be looking forward to what grandma has planned for them this year. And quite frankly, in terms of springtime bursts of color, sugary goodness and appealing presentation I don't think they'll be disappointed!

Footed and domed glass dessert dishes will nest a snacking selection for each child. A 4" crispy bunny accompanied by edible Easter grass and a handful of chirpy "sugar buttons" exceeded my expectations in terms of speed and ease of completion. Purchased sprinkles and icing flowers (both Wilton products) took care of the hand-piping that's usually required for results like this!

I call these "sugar buttons" because they're only 1.5" bite-size small. Any sugar cookie recipe will do. Divide a small batch of royal icing into spring tinted colors, then plop on the decor once frosting's been spread. Freeze them, too - a convenience you'll appreciate during the busy weeks ahead!

Baby bunny is my second hand sculpted Rice Krispie pet. With just a little tweaking, he is as easy to construct as the teddy bear pop I made a few weeks ago for Valentine's Day.

This lil guy's currently chillin' in the freezer too!

Here's what you'll need to make one 4" critter:

1 cup Rice Krispie cereal
1/2 tablespoon butter
1.5 oz. mini-marshmallows + a few extras for tail + "glue"
2 black candy Pearls
1 pink candy Pearl
Small amount of green royal icing
Flower shaped icing decorations

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 a 2" oval for body. Flatten it on top and bottom. (Coat hands with cooking spray for easier handling.)

3. Compress a 2" oval for head and press it to body. Press Pearls in for eyes and nose.
4. Compress two 1" ears from cereal and attach to top of head.
5. Form 2 tubes, each 1.5" long for arms and press to body. Repeat for feet.
6. If you have difficulty attaching the parts, melt a few extra marshmallows for use as "glue." Use this "glue" to cluster a few reserved marshmallows for a tail.
7. Pipe green icing around bunny's neck and push icing flowers into it immediately.

Although I used Kellogg and Wilton products, this is not a sponsored post.
This original design, like all blog content, is intended for personal use only. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved. Thank you!

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