: Lunch Bag and Accessories :

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The demands of going back to school can be fairly expensive. Between supplies, clothing, and any other necessary accessories, you are looking at spending a chunk of money. Many people have been hit by the recession, so spending heaps of money is not an option. Well, we like to get creative and use what we have. So, this year I decided Jared needed a new lunch bag for school (his old one was somehow left outdoors at night and got chewed up a little by a raccoon). I also decided to make him some reusable snack/sandwich bags to cut down on the waste.

I started the bag itself by measuring 5 rectangles: 6 1/2" x 14 1/2" for the back/flap, 5 1/2" x 6 1/2" for the bottom, 6 1/2" x 8 1/2" for the front of the bag, and 2 pieces of 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" for the sides of the bag. I did this twice on 2 different fabrics (one was an old corduroy shirt from my mother in law) so that it was nice inside and out. You could use the same fabric if you so choose.

I faced each matching size of fabric inwards towards itself (so you have wrong side facing out) and sewed a straight stitch along the outer edge, leaving an opening so that the fabric could be turned right side out. I then ironed the edges and set each aside until I was done with all 5 pieces. I then matched them up and sewed them altogether, as seen above.

Now, for accessories, I made these little bags like the old school disposable plastic sandwich/snack bags, with the fold over closure. I found the tutorial here. I recomend this for anyone. It is fast, easy, and very handy.

Aw, how quaint....

This bag is even cute on the inside and is easily washable.

This sandwich bag was created with the intention of using a velcro closure, but I had no velcro on hand and I then found the other snack bag tutorial. It works well to keep the sandwich fresh until lunch and it stays closed pretty well on it's own. The best feature is the liner in the bag... I made the fabric piece the same as the pieces on the bag itself, and then I lined it with a piece of cereal box bag cut to the same size. I used a straight stitch around the edges and the folded it to create a pocket which was sewn with a straight stitch along either side.

For the other snack bag shown in the center matches the sandwich bag in it's ultimate design. It is double sided fabric, lined with cereal bag material, but the catch is that it was sewn like the other sandwich bags. I want to certainly make more. The fabic snack bags are great for dry goods, but the lined ones are wonderful for sliced apples, cherries, grapes, slices vegetables, and so on. The fantastic thing about the lunch/snack bags is they can be thrown in the wash. The lined bags will simply have to be either quickly wiped with soapy water and dried. If the outer part of the bag starts to get icky, then hand wash and set out to dry. Other ideas may include pocket or slots within the bag or making matching cloth napkins.

I will be making another set this week. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and making a personal lunch kit for your child.


: Fairy/Gnome Home :

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Today is National Fairy Day. So, Jared and I decided we were going to make a fairy/gnome home. There are countless ways of doing it and numerous tutorials, but we decided to simply go outside and let the outdoors lead us.

We started by clearing a spot at the base of a tree in front of our house and gathering some leftover wood pieces and moss for the house/porch itself. We also gathered several acorns because we started out having a tough time finding rocks for our pathway. We liked the results anyway.

We then gathered pinecones and built a fence around the yard.

We used a shell for a pond, Jared found a "bench" in the wood scraps, and we successfully found little rocks, which now lined the garden.

The garden was filled in by freshly fallen pine needles and freshly pulled weeds. We also built a table by stacking a fairly flat rock on top of a hollow acorn and surrounding it with little comfy stools. Jared is shown here building a campfire.

So, that is all there is to it! Basically, use your imagination and the resources you have around you to create as simple or as elaborate a fairy/gnome house and property that you and your child would like. In fact, we would love to see what you come up with. So, if you have a link to your fairy/gnome home, please add it to the comments below. Enjoy!

: 3-D Paper Tree :

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Yesterday, Jared and I made a 3-D paper tree, inspired by Ikat Bag. Truly, you can go to her website for the tutorial and several ideas for your tree, but I will go through the process anyway. By the way, her trees look a little nicer than ours. Again, my 4-year-old was making this.

First, we cut out a stand for the tree. Make sure the hole is big enough in the center to fit the rolled up paper tree securely when you tape your stand together.

Use 5 halves of construction paper cut in slits halfway down. These will be rolled up and taped one at a time. Roll the first one, then wrap the other ones around individually and tape.

Use a leaf template or hand draw leaves on different colors of green construction paper. Cut them out.

We made grass by cutting thin slits of the different construction papers and then crumpling them up.

We pulled each layer of rolled up tree slightly up to give a layered tall tree look. Then, we secured the tree inside the hole and taped it underneath.

We then glued the leaves on each branch, glued the grass to the base, and let it dry. Jared wanted to add a swing, so we used some cardboard from the cereal box and some string. He also wanted to make an owl hole, but we didn't get to it.

There are so many adaptations to this project. The possibilities are endless. You can add birds, nests, tire swings, owls, squirrels, utilize tissue paper for the grass or moss, use cardstock for the tree so it is more stiff... You can come up with your own ideas or check Ikat Bag's numerous alternatives. Enjoy!!

: Friendly Tree Faces :

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hello everyone. I am sorry for the being absent for a while, once again. I have just been extremely busy with everything in my life, including my other blog, Creating a Natural Life.

One thing I cannot live without is nature, as you might be able to tell from my sister site. I love rocks and flowers and insects and arachnids and gardens and birds..... and trees. I think my preschooler....ahem...I mean my kindergartener and I will be working on a few tree-inspired projects and activities in the near future. We will also do other things encompassing nature in general, as well. 'Tis the season to embrace the outdoors and its endless beauty. I think it is a great gift to teach your little ones a love and appreciation and a deeper connection with the beautiful world around them and beyond them.

So, yesterday I swung by the Little Page Turners and was immediately inspired to have Jared create friendly tree faces. All you need are some push pins, some gatherings from nature, such as sticks, berries, leaves, hollowed acorns, etc.., and of course, a tree. Here are the creations Jared designed yesterday and I helped to implement.

And this, I must include because, for some reason, it melts my heart to see the kids hugging a tree.

Have fun creating fun faces on the trees around your home. It literally puts a friendly face on trees for your children to enjoy and brings them to life as it stimulates their imagination and connection with these wise characters.

: Rock Creatures and Magical Stones :

Sunday, May 23, 2010

When we went on our neighborhood walk yesterday after dinner, we picked up a few larger rounded stones we spotted along the way. We have been collecting different rocks, the kids and I, and this time I decided to do something a little different this time. I decided to bring them to life by turning them into familiar creatures.

I painted each with acryilic paint after rinsing them and they each dried quickly. The ladybug was a necessary creation and a favorite between the boys, the frog was perfect for the shape of rock, and the bee was made with painted wax paper wings.
I was stumped and mometarily uninspired when I looked at this rock, so I decided to create a magical wishing stone...or whatever the kids come up with. I will soon create a magical stone set for the kids.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to painting rocks. It is so easy to make them come alive as all sort of insects or animals. Ask your child to use their imagination when deciding what to paint, whether it is a creature, an enchanted stone, or a natural surface for which to paint a picture. If you have any rock creations you would like to share, add your link to the comments below.

: Baking Bread with Your Children :

There is nothing like the smell of fresh baked bread filling the corners of your home on a Sunday afternoon. This is actually a new tradition we have started in our home, as we have gradually refined our weekly and daily rhythms. We were already into baking several things including pies, muffins, sweets, quick breads, and bread machine sorts. However, we have never attempted to simply go through the patient process of just baking bread. This is a wonderful thing to share with your children because it helps them appreciate the work and the numerous steps behind the creation, thus appreciating the delicious final product all the more.

Jared especially enjoyed kneading the dough, though he wasn't very fond of sticky hands...funny coming from a boy who doesn't mind being dirty all the time. He also wanted me to point out his expression of color on his pinkies and thumbs in green and blue. I am glad it hasn't occured to him to change his hair color yet :)....
Jared has never braided anything before, but I must say using bread dough creates an easy visual way to learn the concept. He watched me braid mine first, I helped him create 3 strips, and he picked up on braiding immediately. He also attemped to make shapes, but they ended up looking like little blobs or mini loaves. In addition, we also made a large loaf of our delectable sweet honey bread as a side with our chili this evening.
This recipe was delicious and easy for a first-timer. Check it out at the Mothering forum, post #4 by Wrenmoon.

Try it and let me know what you think in the comments below. Or if you have any other wonderful bread recipes you would like to share, feel free to do so. Enjoy the work and, the smell, the taste, and the comfort of homemade bread, especially when made with love and discovery by your children.

: Sister Site :

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hello everyone. I have been lagging a little for the last couple of weeks. Actually, I have been incredibly busy. We have changed our daily rhythms a little and I have been putting more focus on other things lately. I am still inspired to share many things on this blog, but I also decided to start another blog with a different angle. It is somewhat of a journal with themes for each day of the week. If you would like to check out my other blog, as well, then feel free and enjoy. It is called Creating a Natural Life. Have a pleasant remainder of your weekend.

: Earthworms :

Friday, May 14, 2010

Earthworms are one of nature's wiggly wonders. Kids love to hold them in their hands.

They love to watch them move around and disappear magically into the dirt.

And kids love to discover the unseen; what goes on beneath the soil.

We filled a large jar (one that does not have ripples works better) full of moist soil. We gathered several earthworms from around our house and put them in the soil. We covered the jar and wrapped it tightly with a towel, safety pinning it. After a day or so, we unwrapped it and looked at all the trails and earthworms themselves. The boys thoroughly enjoyed watching what happens underground in the earthworm community.

Then Jared decided to take it a step further and sew a felt earthworm...it was his idea. So, I cut out two earthworm peices and he stitched away.

: Carrot Bread :

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

We love food. We love to cook. We love to bake. Our oldest had an itch to bake this last Sunday, so we decided to find something a little different than what we have made in the past (we love trying new things). We have made all sorts of bread creations and different carrot cake recipes in the past, but never have we tried carrot bread. He liked the idea, so we proceded with this recipe.

We changed the recipe a bit. We used almost half the amount of sugar, sliced almonds intead of pecans (it was all we had on hand), and vegetable oil instead of sesame oil (again, we just improvised). Well, actually, I should not be saying "we" when Luke did all of the work himself. I barely even helped him. We ate the whole loaf that day because it was so yummy! Thank you, Lukey!

There is nothing like warm bread fresh out of the oven. Try this recipe with your child. Or make a tradition of baking with your kids once a week. Children even under the age of 2 can pitch in with pouring, stirring, getting things for you, helping with clean up. So, get baking and don't be afraid to try new things. You just might discover something you really like and your kids will benefit in so many ways. Enjoy!

: No-Sew Cloth Tissues :

I thought the season for runny noses and coughs was past us, but apparently I was wrong. I swear, there is always a little one at preschool that gets everyone else sick. It is viscious cycle of their little bodies toughening up and building a strong immune system, which is not always fun when they are going through it. Nor is it fun for mommies and daddies who are going through it with their children. The only thing we can do is be as nurturing as possible and try to meet their needs the best we possibly can. So, last night I was looking to make a hankie for Jared, but I came across this article, Make Your Own No-Sew Eco-Friendly T-Shirt Tissues by Fun in the Making, and decided this was exactly what we needed. I followed her tutorial and Jared awoke this morning sniffling and delighted that he had his very own Mommy-made collection of colorful, soft tissues. His eyes lit up when he got to blow his nose for the first time.

I have kept several clothes from my own wardrobe that I was going to get rid of at the time, but I realized I could eventually figure out some good uses for these reusable fabrics. I found a few shirts and a pair of old flannel pajama bottoms. I measured 7 inch squares and came out with about 30 tissues that can easily be washed and quickly line or machine dried. There is no sewing necessary. I stacked the tissues up and placed them next to a recycled container (for discarding the used tissues).

These are great in preventing red, raw skin around the nose. Our skin always prefers natural cloth to disposable products. Your kids will love these and they are a great way to make them feel special and look forward to blowing their little noses. So, instead of sending off all of your garments to the thrift store, think about making some reusable tissues with quickness and ease. Your kids will thank you.

: Nature Wall Hanging Made with Cartons, Boxes, and Knick Knacks :

Sunday, May 2, 2010

We live tucked away on the edge of the forest up here in the mountains. Our family loves nature hikes, listening to the array of local birds, smelling the flowers.... So, I thought I would create a cute collection of naturey things we love for the boys to enjoy in their own space. My idea originally was inspired by Giddy Giddy, but as always, I decided to create something quite a bit different. :)

I utilized milk cartons (1/2 gallon and quart sized), a tea box, granola bar boxes, tape, glue, scrap fabric, and various knick knacks mainly from the thrift store.

I cut each box and carton down to about 2 inches tall.

I laid out how I was going to put the wall hanging together.

I picked out different fabric for each little "cubby" and cut each to fit in its corresponding box by placing each box on top and marking the corners. Then, I cut right angles to each corner, as shown above.

I brushed each thoroughly with glue and placed each piece of fabric in its place. We let that dry overnight.

I used packaging tape to adhere all the boxes together. Then, I cut long strip of denim fabric, slightly thicker than the depth of the cubbies. I brushed the sides with glue and placed the fabric around the perimeter of the enitre decoration. I allowed that to dry before snipping the corners of the extra fabric and folding it over, gluing it to the inside edge of each nook. I also cut little denim strips to fit over the edges of the inside nooks. We let that dry. Note - if there are trouble spots that refuse to stay glued together while they are drying then use paper clips to clamp down the edges until they are dry. You could apply Mod Podge to seal everything when all is dry, but I skipped that step this project.

This froggie on toadstool figurine was found at the thrift store a day after I finished the boxes. I love the matching pink and green! And we love frogs and toadstools!

I grabbed this frame at the thrift store, as well. The picture was cut out of an old book. "The Littles" are shown dancing in a circle near the roots of a tree and a little stream. The kids like this image quite a bit.

We like owls in this house and I found this little handmade wall hanging at the thrift store, too. It appears to be from the 1970s... I love vintage.

When I was there, I also found this wood portrayal of bird, the bird figurine shown in the middle next to the egg, the 2 little boxes with the plants on the lids, and the wooden vase. At the dollar store, I found some little flowers to put in the vase. I added one of the boys' knitted gnomes and one of our plants. I hot glued everything on, except for the plant so it could be watered and moved when it gets too tall, their picture frame because it fit snugly in place, and their gnome, in case they want to play with it. Design your own structure, pick your own theme...this project is very flexible and very gratifying in the end. It will end up being a special collection that both you and your children will enjoy now and in the future!

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