Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Art for Littles: Ornaments For Young Ones (That Look Nice!)

Prints! One of the first ornaments I made with the boys were hand or foot prints on cork coasters. You will need a set of cork coasters from a craft store, paint in any color you like and a brush, a hole punch, printing ink (I used white), a brayer, a surface to roll your ink on (I like to use an ikea tray to do the whole project on and keep things contained), some ribbon, and a clear sealant.
-Paint your cork tiles one solid color. You might need to coats, I just used some acrylic craft paint.
-Use your hole punch to put a hole where you want the ornament to hang. Make sure not to put the hole really close to the edge.
-Using your ink, spread some out with your brayer on your tray. Have your child make a hand print! I like to keep a washcloth nearby for cleanup before their hand goes into their mouth.
-Let the ink dry.
-Coat with a clear spray paint or sealant.

Keep in mind that hand prints are not always perfect, especially when very little babies are making them. They often curl their fingers. You can try to gently hold their fingers extended and guide their hand onto the ornament. If they are very little (younger then six months) I recommend footprints. Our older son was about nine months when he did his and he did a pretty good job, but we made a bunch extra too.

Felt! Felt can make some really nice looking ornaments with very little cost. Here are some little trees we did with felt and sequins. You will need felt, scissors, sequins, glue, q-tips, and some ribbon.
-Make a pattern to cut your felt shapes.

-Mix up some glue with just a little water (1 part glue to 1/2 part water).

-Have your kid(s) use a q-tip to apply a dot of glue and then place a sequin. If there is extra glue, don't worry, it will dry clear.
-Attach a ribbon to the back with some glue to hang. You can also punch a hole in the felt for the ribbon or stitch on a string.

Here is the example I made on the left and Owen's (three years old) on the right.

Watercolors! We use watercolors for everything! They look really nice painted onto premade wooden ornaments you can get at a craft store. You will need a wooden ornament, tray of watercolor paints (Crayola works great), a paintbrush, some ribbon, and a clear sealant.

-Using a sponge squeeze a little water into each color of your watercolor tray.

-Let your kid(s) go crazy painting!
-Seal dry ornaments with a clear coat.
-Attach a ribbon to hang.
Here is one that Beckett (one year old) made.
Here are several that Owen did a couple years ago when he was about a year old as well. He still loves making these.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Thank You.

Eight years ago, in my second semester of my sophomore year of college, I developed Pneumonia. At first I figured it was just a cold, and kept going to class. Eventually I went to the health center where they diagnosed tonsillitis and gave me some antibiotics. I stopped going to class, my fever rose, I couldn't keep food in my body, and I took those antibiotics. After two weeks of being sick, and getting progressively worse, I called my mom in a feverish and exhausted haze and asked if she thought I should go to the hospital. She came to pick me up the next day and took me to our family doctor. Just like that my school year was done. There they said I had mono and drew blood to send out to confirm this. While waiting days for those labs to come back, my body started shutting down. By the time the doctor called to say it wasn't mono, I could no longer keep water in my body, and I was pleading to go to the hospital. I had dropped out of college. I vanished from the life I had built around myself, and I didn't and couldn't care.

I was in and out of consciousness at that point, because of the low amount of oxygen in my system and my body was losing. The doctor said to come back in since I didn't have mono. So we did. Then we were sent to the hospital for a chest X-ray. Then to the ER to be immediately checked in. Then to a room to stay. When the nurse took my pulse ox, she thought the machine must be broken, because according to that I should have been in a coma. I only remember watching things from outside of myself, and I couldn't hear anyone. I was so faded. The next morning when I woke up, back inside my own body, the doctor on rounds told me that I should be dead. "You should be dead. Do you smoke? Do you eat well? How did you get so sick?" Well sir I'm pretty sure the medical community let me down on that one, but don't worry cause y'all did come in in the clutch there. My faded self had no idea what he was saying, what the words meant. I was back in my body though so I think I knew I had made it through. The point of all of this is not that I could have died, the point is that I lived and I was lost. Suddenly my life was very different from before. I got sick at the beginning of February. College life, normal life, went on for all the connections that I had in a day. I was someone else though.

Getting back inside my body, was much easier than getting back inside my head. Really I think it wasn't until we moved to Arizona that I was fully present again. So I have a big family of beautiful souls who I owe a thank you to for being and searching for me and reaching out even when I couldn't or wouldn't reach back. First I want to thank my momma bear for saving my life. Thank you for all that you did to take care of me, trying to get me better, and for standing up for me when I couldn't stand up for myself. You did so much for me and I will always appreciate it and be thankful for you. Second I want to thank all of the beautiful people at Appel Farm in the summer of 2007 for existing, talking, sharing, hugging, and the love that came pouring into my empty, faded, and worn thin soul. You all did more than you could ever have known and I will be forever grateful for that community of humans who proved to me that life is good even when you are struggling. Third I want to thank those friends from Kutztown who checked in, checked up, sought me out in any way at all, before I got really sick, while I was sick, or after I was sick. I am not super close to many people from Kutztown at the moment and that makes me a little sad sometimes, but life goes on and I love getting little glimpses of all these beautiful lives weaving their way through the world. I also want to apologize for my abrupt vacancy, both physically and mentally. Finally I want to thank all the people that I have met since then who have accepted and held on and stayed close through distance, disagreements, and struggles. All of you people are just beautiful and awesome and I appreciate every ounce of humanity that I have ever come in contact with.

Everyday we come in contact with others. Others who are struggling and we don't know it. Others who are faded and worn and we don't know it. Others who need a little bit of love and we don't know it. I will always remember that and be forever grateful for all the beautiful, caring people who once were or still are parts of my life, with our stories briefly connected in this life. So thank you all, I appreciate it.

Art For Littles: Suncatchers

This project focuses on colors, mixing colors, and light. The contact paper method we used when Owen was about 11 months old. 

Here is what you need.
Clear contact paper
Colored tissue paper in a variety of colors
Masking tape

Cut a large piece of contact paper (ours was about 9x12). Peel off the backing of the paper and using you masking tape, stick the paper down with the sticky side up. I used a big cookie sheet to stick ours to, you are basically making a big sticky canvas for them to use. Tear small pieces of tissue paper, Owen loves tearing paper and had a blast ripping and shredding the colors. Then let them stick the tissue paper to the contact paper. Once they are done cover the back with a second piece of contact paper. We added a "frame" of plane paper to outline his work between the contact sheets. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

You are beautiful.

I am fed up. I am fed up with the amount of products being sold to "make" everyone beautiful. How much money do you need to spend to make yourself beautiful?! Even if you are "only" buying makeup. Even if you are "only" dying your hair. Even if you are "only" buying this one weight loss gimmick. It's ridiculous!

Why is it so amazing and brave and courageous to love your own body, your own face, your own hair? Here's the thing. It shouldn't be. I actually kind of love this whole selfie thing that is happening, because people are posting some really beautiful photos of their beautiful selves. I even more love this nomakeup selfie thing. I do think that should be the norm rather than shocking, but maybe it's progress (maybe it's not, but I can hope).

So listen, embrace who you are. Stop dying your hair. It's beautiful. Really and truly. Your hair is beautiful. Stop putting make up on. Your face is beautiful. Really it is. Even if you have a zit. Even if you have freckles. Even if you have moles. Even if you have wrinkles. Even if you are "blotchy," whatever the heck that means anyways. Your face is beautiful. Don't cover up. Be comfortable. Your body is beautiful. Your cellulite, yup that's beautiful. Your scars are beautiful. Your story of your life is beautiful. You are beautiful. If you have ten kids, or no kids, or workout every day, or not at all, you are beautiful. You have earned that body and that face and those gray hairs, you should be proud of who you are every single day. On one side of the coin I see all these women who have given birth and they are told to be proud of their tiger stripes (aka stretch marks) and then in the same breath they are saying but buy this age defying wrinkle cream cause those wrinkles on your face are apparently horrible. That's my story though, I don't want to erase it. I want to love it and embrace it and show it off.

Instead, as a society, we should focus on feeling healthy, feeling energized, feeling beautiful. Beautiful has nothing to do with models, and movie stars, and magazine ads. Be confident, do what you love, love others. All these lessons we are trying to teach our kids; we need to learn first.

Teach your children they are believing you are beautiful. Don't hide your "flaws." Embrace them because they make you who you are. You are beautiful. Teach your daughters that they are beautiful every single day, without makeup, without being a size 2, without dying their beautiful hair. Teach your sons that they are beautiful. Teach them to be confident as they walk through their life. They don't need to fit a certain style to be popular and have friends. Teach them that women are beautiful...without makeup. Show those children, that life is beautiful and they will amaze you with their own beautiful selves.

The world is bigger than your world. You effect those around you with every decision you make. Make it count. You don't like what media is teaching our youth...then stop letting it determine your family routine, your own lifestyle, and the choices you make. Live free and beautiful and love openly.

And that's what I have to say about that.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Art for Littles: Alternative Paintbrushes

It has been so nice out this past week that we had to get out and paint! First we took a walk around our neighborhood and collected all sorts of fun different objects. Some of the things we found were dandelions, long grass, small leaves, big leaves, dried leaves, a stick, a pinecone, and buttercups (Owen tried to catch a toad to use as part of his art as well, but the toad was too fast for him, thank goodness). While we were collecting things we talked about whether the objects were soft or hard, bumpy or smooth, big or little, etc. We do a lot of talking when we are making art. We talk about colors, textures, dark vs light, bright vs muddy, etc. 

Once we had a whole bag full of different items we went back to our house. I rolled out a huge piece of paper and let owen choose three colors of tempera paint that I squirted onto a palette (we use a plastic cookie tin lid that you can see in the table painting). I dipped the stick in some paint and made a mark on the paper. Owen got it right away and started experimenting to see what marks each object would leave. He also used his hands and feet (good thing I had brought a bucket of water out with us to wash up in). This is his finished piece.

The next day we decided to refinish a little table we have on our front porch that holds some potted plants. We used acrylic paints for this (if you have a paint eater stick to the tempera or watercolor until they understand not to eat it.). I gave O a couple colors and let him choose some brushes. He also decided to a pinecone and his hands. We sealed the table with a clear spraypaint after he was finished. Here's his table.


Friday, April 25, 2014


Salads are underrated and overpriced. The good news is you can make them in your very own kitchen for very little money. Why does a salad (that's supposedly fresh) at any fast food chain cost more than five bucks?!?!?! You can get a head of lettuce at the grocery store for a dollar, and that's enough lettuce for 2-3 good size salads. Also they are delicious...oh and you can make tons of different kinds of salads! They are the ultimate quick and easy meal. There's also a thousand variations like chicken salad, fruit salad, pasta salad, potato salad, mashed potato salad, egg salad, tuna salad, and I'm sure many more. I like to make a big batch of pasta salad on the weekend and enjoy it all week long (my two year old loves it too).

When I was younger my dad would make a massive (and I mean like the biggest bowl in your house) salad. They were delicious and always different. Lettuce (please note there are a ton of different types of lettuce alone!), kale, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, sprouts, beets, radishes, green beans, mushrooms, so much delicious. You can add shrimp, chicken, cheese; make a taco salad with some cooked ground beef or turkey and tortilla strips or go with a nice soy ginger chicken and at some wonton strips and edamame. Try a new homemade dressing (there are at least a thousand recipes online) and they are also really inexpensive to make! Salad is a great solution when you don't feel like cooking or are crunched for time. I like to chop the lettuce and other veggies when my boys are napping or content entertaining themselves for a few minutes and dress it lightly, then add some fun crunchy toppings just before it's time to eat.

We try to have salads once a night for dinner and it's always a dinner we look forward to. It's almost farmer market season here and I can't wait to find some new fun things to add to our salads! So go make some big delicious and healthy salads (of any kind) for dinner! What's your favorite kind of salad?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Art for Littles: Styrofoam Prints!

This is a relatively easy project and can be used to quickly make a lot of pieces (aka this is great for the holidays where you want to send something homemade to many friends/family members). This project can also be done in steps so they can take breaks if they aren't digging it right away.

For this project you need:
-a tube or two of speedball water soluble block printing ink
-a brayer
-a couple of old Styrofoam trays (the kind they package meat in are good or leftover containers)
-some paper (pretty much any kind will do, we used construction paper)
-a pencil

You will need one Styrofoam tray to roll out your ink in so make sure and hang onto one. Cut a flat piece of Styrofoam from the bottom of a tray or a leftover container. I made my Styrofoam piece about 3x5 inches. Any size will do, a small print is easier for them to handle though. This will be your littles canvas to create their art on. Give them a dull pencil to draw on the Styrofoam with (just a note when you make a print from the Styrofoam it will be reversed so if you were to write their name on the piece it would print in reverse). I had to trace over a few of Owen's lines to make sure they would be deep enough. He made this print when he was about 20 months old. This is his Styrofoam block for printing after he was done with it.

I just tore paper to fit the size of the plate. We made about a dozen prints so I tore up three pieces of paper just by folding it in half and tearing on the line. Once you have your paper you are ready to ink.

Take your brayer and place a dollop of ink about the size of a nickel in your Styrofoam tray that you saved earlier. Spread the ink up and down and side to side until you have an even covering over your brayer. Using your brayer cover the design on your littles Styrofoam plate. Press the plate down onto the paper and have them press really hard with those little hands or you can have them walk on it which they think is hilarious and lots of fun! Lift the Styrofoam off and you will have their print. Do it as many times as you want!

Two of O's prints on one piece of paper.