August 2012

Decorate your own coffee mug

A Sharpie and a clean mug are all you need!

I recently learned about an interesting craft idea: apparently if you draw on a ceramic coffee mug with a Sharpie marker, then bake that mug for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, the marker becomes permanent. 

However, it is hand wash only, and you will want to be careful with it. Some people have reported that the marker washes off if you put it through the dishwasher. Some people have apparently had the marker wash off just through hand-washing, too.
 
One thing I will suggest, if you want to try this, is that you wash the mug before you start drawing. I suspect that sometimes when people have trouble with the marker coming off, it is because the mug was not 100% clean before they began. The marker needs to be laid directly on the porcelain of the mug, and even invisible fingerprints can keep marker from adhering correctly.
 
Before you begin, wash your mug thoroughly. If you hand-wash your dishes, I would recommend using a heavy-duty degreasing detergent like Dawn dishwashing liquid. If you use a dishwashing machine, I recommend pulling the mug out at the end and giving it an extra rinse in clean water, to be sure there is no residual film of soap left behind.

Marshmallow crafts

Using marshmallows for creative projects

Marshmallows can be used for more than just making a delicious snack or dessert food. When marshmallows go stale in my house, we use them to make craft projects. Of course, you can make crafts with the marshmallows while they are still fresh if you want to. Here are a few of our favorites:

Marshmallow mosaic: Mini marshmallows now come in colors. Glue the marshmallows to a paper plate to create a mosaic of an animal, person, or an object. If you don't have the color you want, you can paint the marshmallows or dye them with food coloring.

Marshmallow rainbow: Just like the marshmallow mosaic, you can make a rainbow. Line up the different colored marshmallows so that they form an upside down U on your paper plate. Place like colors underneath of each other so that the first upside down U would be made up of green marshmallows, the one underneath of it yellow, etc. You can even form the appearance of clouds at the bottom of the rainbow with white marshmallows.

Review: "Cast On/Bind Off" by Leslie Ann Bestor

Trust me, if you are a knitter, you want this book!

There is a classic arc of knitting skill. In the beginning, most knitters learn the easiest cast on and bind off method. Once you master those, many knitters will move on to a slightly more sophisticated set of memorized cast ons (like the Long Tail Cast On) and bind offs (like Jeni's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off, so great for socks and hats). 

Eventually you might realize that your usual methods just aren't cutting it for you. There are a lot of different cast ons and bind offs that exist in the world, or so you have heard. 99.9% of knitting books and patterns just tell you to "cast on" or "bind off" without specifying. Where do you learn the new techniques? Word of mouth, sometimes. You may hear about something and Google instructions on how to do it.
 
These methods are like fumbling in the dark at the best of times. If you are ready to move to the next level, so to speak, then this is the book for you.

Lunch bag puppy dog craft

Fun craft idea with a brown paper bag

This week my local grocery store had a sale on brown paper lunch bags. I got 50 lunch bags for $.88. Since my daughter uses a lunch box to take her meals to school, I thought it would be a good idea to make a lunch bag puppy dog puppet with the lunch bags.

To make the lunch bag puppy dog craft you'll need the following items:

  • 1 brown lunch bag per child
  • Brown construction paper
  • Black construction paper
  • Red construction paper
  • 2 googly eyes
  • Glue
  • Scissors

Homemade pencil box

A back-to-school craft

I homeschool my oldest daughter, so we like to make our own supplies when possible, such as a pencil box. This craft isn't just for homeschooled children though, any child who needs a box to hold pencils, crayons, erasers, a stapler or any other small school supply can utilize this homemade pencil box craft.

Locate an old small box that you can use as the base for your pencil box. We like to use shoe boxes, but smaller ones that are from younger children. If you don't have any, ask your local shoe store for one. Chances are they'll have one in the storage room they can do without.

What to do with unwanted gift yarn

First assess the yarn honestly. Can you bring yourself to knit with it, or is it just too horrible?

If you're a lucky knitter, people will give you yarn. It may not always be the yarn that you want, but of course you accept it graciously and thank the giver. While privately wondering "What the heck am I going to do with this?" 

It may be a dead grandmother's stash of vintage 1940s acrylic, unearthed from the attic. It may be half a skein of something unlabeled from the thrift store. It could be a well-intentioned (but not what you would buy for yourself) gift purchased at a yarn store. Or it could be something another knitter destashed on you. (Let's be honest - we all do this.)
 
The question is, now what?

Pumpkin seed smiley face craft

There are a lot of things you can do with a pumpkin besides carving or eating it. For example, you can save the scooped seeds and create a fabulous piece of art. Best of all, even younger children can participate. One of the many things I like to make with my girls is a pumpkin seed smiley face. Here is how you make it:

Step 1:
Scoop all of the seeds out of the pumpkin if you haven't already. Rinse them off under a faucet of running water to remove any strings or pumpkin juice that might be present on the seeds.

Step 2:
Set your pumpkin seeds on a few paper towel sheets to dry. This may take a few days. The key is to make sure no more moisture is left in the seeds. It can help if you place the seeds in the path of direct sunlight.