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!