Friday, January 31, 2014

Sweetheart Nests

Brielle and I love our "girlie" crafts. And so we made something pretty and feminine for Valentine's Day! At age three, kids are old enough for a project that takes several sessions to complete, and they are delighted to make finishing touch choices from a generous pile of red, white and pink craft items.

We revisited paper mache to make charming Sweetheart Nests. They are bowls we'll fill with cards and cookies to take home to mommy and daddy on the fourteenth of next month. I like to introduce my grandchildren to a variety of art media, but this is one we've used more than once before because of its free spirited versatility. In this case, we built basic nests over woven baskets and glass bowls.

Invert the vessels and cover them tightly with aluminum foil. Make a flour and water paste the consistency of craft glue. Cut newspaper strips to two inch widths, dip them in the paste, and cover baskets or bowls with three layers. When the outside is dry - one to two days - carefully pry the pieces apart. Allow an extra day for the inside layer to dry before proceeding.

I painted our dried bowls with gesso so the light colored tissue paper we applied would be bright and clear. We tore a pile of scraps and applied them with Mod Podge - both inside and out.

The last session was the best! That's when our bowls became nests because Bree opted for craft punched paper birds and the accompanying "fluffiness" of tissue paper flowers. We folded and opened those together. Her little nest stood best on a tripod of wooden spool feet. Grandma's creation sported a marabou trim edging, but this accent proved to be its demise. What are the odds that at least one of six cats won't make sport of tearing it into a feathery mess? Not very good! So my own nest cowers safely behind glass, waiting for a home without predators! But where among our feline loving circle of family and friends? I'm afraid no such animal exists!

It's the season!.........people we love, places we love, things we love....!
Here's a blog I love!

The creative force behind "Mrs. Party Planner" is a joyful young mom capable of turning absolutely any event into a memorable party! The one she hosted to celebrate the recovery of her cat from a life-threatening illness is just one example. Wait until you see the litter box cake that graced the dessert table! Oh, and the "Christmas gift" that arrived for a holiday open house! And the witch who tended bar at a neighborhood Halloween gathering! Most of the featured events, however, focus on two sets of under-six twins and describe a lifestyle that celebrates family occasions to "the max!" Lots of cute ideas, great energy and handy recipes all included. And if the star characters look familiar to you, well, it's because they probably are! Those little boys are my grandsons, the girls my granddaughters, and the blog author is their mom, my oldest daughter!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Blog Hopping With Brielle

I spend a considerable amount of time with my three year old granddaughter, Brielle. It is my privilege to babysit for her on the three days each week mommy works as a registered nurse. Bree and I are very good friends, sharing many special moments and learning experiences.

I slip away occasionally (with Bree still in my sight), to read an email or something newly posted by a fellow blogger. Immersed last week in Frugal Little Bungalow, I sensed a presence at my elbow.....

"Oooooh, what a pretty dog!" Bree exclaims of Lily. Lily is one of three pets belonging to Debra - grandmother, photographer, gardener, quilter, friend, and author of that charming site, one of my very favorites. "Want to see more?" I ask. Bree pops up onto my lap, and together we're off. We're Blog Hopping!

We scroll down a bit once we've agreed that Lily is, indeed, a beautiful dog. And there she is again, snuggled up with "Jugsy," keeping warm together on a cozy little rug between dining and living rooms. Bree leans in closely and studies the picture. I am proud of her attention to detail as she animatedly describes what she sees - two well loved canine companions who couldn't look any more different from one another.

The next pictures are quilts and groupings of glassware that my friend collects and displays seasonally. I usually enjoy studying them, but this time I'm hurried along. "Hey! I want to see more dogs!" We move ahead, discovering instead, a close up of  "Kanga." She is "occupying" the sewing table, as cats are wont to do. I expect an exclamation of delight from Bree, but instead the screen is treated to a stern finger pointing and the declaration that "Kitty should not be playing with scissors!" Well, of course that is correct, and we mention it to Debra in the comment section.

We're back "hopping" the next day and what a surprise awaits us! Debra has appreciated the humor in our comment and has dedicated a post to Bree on another of her blogs. Showcased photos on both sites, like the captions beneath them, are wonderful. Simple and sweet. They describe a lifestyle sated with home, hearth, hobbies, family and pets....they are, in a word, "Homespun."

"Awww, look at that pretty brown bird," I exclaim. "That's a cardinal, grandma. A female," she replies. "Well okay, smarty pants!" I say to myself. "I knew that. Just wanted to see if you did!"

Jugsy is next. A striking close up. I explain to Bree that he is the white dog's "brother." Then I hold my breath, waiting for her to inform me that this is biologically impossible. But she lets it go. Whew! Dodged that one!

A flock of busy blue birds fills the screen. "Blue Jays," I am told, among other things. Bree chatters away about her feeder at home and how she watches it while she eats breakfast. Her cats observe too, from the window sill. There are lots of visitors, squirrels included. Mommy puts little ears of corn out for them so they don't grab the "bird stuff." Then they scamper up the big pine tree, eat the corn and drop cobs to the ground. Daddy picks these up when he goes out to scoop dog poop. Interesting!

I finally score when I correctly identify a sweet little feathered friend as a "titmouse." Bree didn't know that (HA!) but says these frequently appear at her feeder, bringing all of their friends with them. She fills me in on hummingbirds, too. They'll be back when the snow is gone, she confidently relates. My jaw is on the floor. How does this kid know all this stuff?

I find a picture of Debra's cute four year old grandson. He is working a wooden puzzle. Bree examines it closely and announces that she has one of those too. I tell her the little boy's name is Brent and he spends time cooking and crafting and playing at his grandma's too. She asks if Brent is a nice boy. I assure her that he is, omitting to say that if the two of them were to someday marry, I'd be guaranteed a terrific grandma-in-law for myself!
"Want to see some quilts?" I ask. "No. That's enough! I want string cheese now." And away she goes, leaving me, alone, to conclude with another comment for Debra:
"Visiting your blogs together in search of birds, squirrels, Lily, Jugsy, and Kanga is a new tradition for me and Brielle - unless your posts feature only cozy quilts or beautiful grandchildren or stunning landscapes or quaint collectibles or breathtaking flowers or savory recipes - then it will be only me who shows up to read them!"

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Little Love Locket

My daughters each host an intimate annual Valentine's Day party. Grandpa and I have been invited to them, but so far we have declined to attend. So few celebrations on the calendar are exclusive to immediate family. I recall enjoying most that "just-the-five-of-us" feeling at our own candlelit dinner love fests - the girls animatedly sharing details of candy-overloaded classroom parties, counting and comparing cards received. The focus was on them alone....the loves of our lives. Once dinner was picked at long enough, tradition demanded daddy present each of his four (me too!) sweeties with a heart shaped box of chocolates. Love was in the air, and there it stayed until junior high after-school sports practices came along to pre-empt it - all the more reason to make the best of what is at hand now!

Just because we won't be there in person doesn't mean that grandma and grandpa don't send gifts, prizes, and Valentine cards to the parties. That we do, in generous abundance! But I like to contribute something hand made, too. Last year it was a personalized Family Bingo Game with prizes for everybody - inside a big, old Love Bug Party Bag. This year it's a gift for each mommy alone. Something meaningful and pretty for her to wear to the party. A Valentine on a string, if you will. A tidy collection of the cute little faces that make not just February 14th, but each one of her days a celebration of endless fun and love!

I relied heavily on craft punches to make the work quick and easy. It's pretty self explanatory by looking at the photos. Print individual faces in 1" x 1.5" contact sheet size. Accordion fold a strip of paper long enough to glue them all on. Attach first picture to center back of the "locket," fold everything together, and clip to hold with a tiny painted and decorated wooden craft store clothespin. Thread ribbon through a punched hole at top center back. Secure with beads.