I've again strayed from talking about my awesome friends and the incredible things they do - but here is a special someone that is worthy of sharing - more than my little blog can do justice. This sweet family doesn't reside near us anymore, but we sure do wish they did. The reason for the timing on this post is that Keith and his family just designed a brand new game for YOUR iPhone/iPad/iPod. It is called Redneck Jellyfish. My very own Ukulele Guy scored the game and the jellyfish itself is named after my tiniest child, August, aka Gus Hickey. The vocals and much of the artwork in the game are courtesy of Keith's son Greyson and daughter Iva and if you can understand what they are saying - more power to ya. I always require translation from Shane - who can only 1/2 of the time determine what that hilarious jellyfish just conveyed.
Where to begin? Keith is a potter and if you want to see his brilliance you should visit his Etsy store. Here are some samplings of his unique creations.
This game is just a single example of how Keith pours his heart and soul into his family. Here is the press release for the game and it makes me happy that my husband, clear across the country from Keith, was able to play a role in the creation. Shane and Keith have been friends for years and I know that in spite of the distance between them Shane's connection with Keith is one of the most earnest in his life. It is definitely worth your time to read the heartwarming press release.
*“So many games today focus on destroying and tearing something down. With this game, I wanted to be sure the goal was ‘building’ something up”, says Keith. They can’t remember how it started with a jellyfish, but the coral idea came from Greyson, who had done some cool sketches with a Sharpie marker that looked like abstract coral.*
I know this isn't a new invention, in fact we've had one in our little store for years, but we just took the plunge and made one in our house and we love it!
This wall was screaming for something exciting. We couldn't let it down. Simon did a lot of the prep work. Mama taped just to be on the safe side, but Simon did the bulk of the work.
We used a level to draw a straight line across the wall. I decided an entire chalkboard wall (ceiling to floor) was a bit too much so we just divided the wall in half (approximately).
We were careful to cover the floor as best as we could with a couple of old sheets, I'm not sure if it was smart or not so smart to have my kids help me paint a wall BLACK but we made it through and we are still all in one piece.
After the boys went to bed I put a second coat on the wall. In case you are interested in the brand we used, and some other possible locations for a chalkboard I took these (hopefully) helpful photos.
You have to let your wall dry for THREE DAYS; my kids were about to freak the hell out about this. It was a long long long 3 days. After the board dries you have to 'condition' the wall by coloring the entire thing with a piece of chalk on its side. It takes forever - depending on the size of your chalkboard of course. After the prep, whenever you wipe your wall clean you have to re'condition' the entire thing. So, I'm afraid we won't be wiping our wall clean anytime soon, maybe never.
The wall was about 1/2 way conditioned in these photos, and this process left us a mess of chalk dust, so Gus was taking care of business.
Once the wall was done we decided we needed a place to store our chalk and some sort of a divider so the wall above the chalkboard wall didn't turn into a chalkboard wall without chalkboard paint.
I found a small trim piece at our local hardware store that was almost the exact size I needed, we shaved a little off one of the ends, and voila!
Oh and I'm pretty sure that piece of trim was only $3.88. And the chalkboard paint was right around $12, and the chalk we already had in our possession.
We found these cute little buckets at Target in the dollar section, that I generally avoid at all costs.
Score, score and score - a chalkboard wall complete with all we need to entertain us on rainy days (that are available in spades around here lately) for under $20.
We tried something new we found in a book we checked out at the Missoula Public Library. The book is called "Razzle Dazzle Doodle Art" and it has some good quick art projects in it.
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We painted with chalk and watered down yogurt, weird I know, but it was actually pretty fun. The best canvas is the inside of a brown paper bag or a darker colored piece of construction paper (something with some gusto and thickness).
I didn't use an official ratio when combining the yogurt and water, just made it a "paintable" consistency.
Gus really preferred the use of the brush in his artwork, whereas Simon took to a 'dipping the sidewalk chalk in' method. Either way works just fine.
The effects seem to be watercolor-esque. It is a good way to smear chalk and incorporate another medium (less dust too).
As for the chalk, we tried some chalk we sell at our store and then tried some sidewalk chalk. I don't think we really have a preference between the two, Gus liked one and Simon liked the other. I suppose that means it is sixes.
When it stops snowing - we intend to take our chalk outside on the driveway and of course we'll bring along some watery-yogurt. Asphalt will probably be an amazing canvas, not to mention the size will be much more fun than a paper bag or piece of construction paper. My little artists seemed happy with the project, so if you find yourself feeling bored, or if your kiddos are bored, try this concoction.
The Ukranian Easter Egg was our craft of choice one recent evening, just prepping for spring/Easter. The ladies + kiddos got together and egged it up. The reoccurring dilemma seemed to be that candles would be blown out during a good old fashioned nose chuckle. Lemme tell ya these ladies are hilarious and chuckle worthy.
The master of the pysanka (amongst us) is Erin (Willa's Mom) and we were at her house using all of her precious supplies and dyes. If you think this is something that looks awfully fun to you, you can pick some dyes up at Joseph's Coat in Missoula (if you live where I live). I'm sure the bigger craft stores like Michael's would also have the tools and supplies you'd need to get started.
So what do you need to make your eggs?
You need a steady hand, time and some tools. You need some beeswax (we had both black and natural colored wax) the black wax is much easier to see on your egg. The technique is commonly referred to as batik. You actually write on the egg with your metal wax dispensing pen known as a kistka. I just happened to look at this page and found there are electric kistkas. I think the most relaxing part about this whole process is holding that tool over a flame to melt the beeswax. I like this instructional video if you want to see the entire process in action.
You can see the little cups on the kistkas that you fill with a bit of beeswax and then to the left in this tin can you'll notice the yolk extractor (egg blower). We used raw eggs so we could save them forever. You don't want to use hard-boiled eggs it isn't a good idea to consume an egg that you pysanky.
When applying your first round of wax decor remember that will be egg-colored. While the wax is still on your egg you dip the egg in dye. Of course if you prefer to have a color under that wax you should first color your egg, and then apply wax. This is Simon's egg - he decided on some color before applying wax.
Simon had a fancy lathe to keep his egg steady for him.
Erin had so many dyes to choose from, and the colors - so bold and brilliant. A bonus is you don't have to leave your egg in the dye for an eternity - again don't eat your eggs post-dye.
My little artist. We just needed more time, it was nearing bed time, on a school night, so this activity was to be continued...
The final step is melting the wax from your egg. This is tricky as you don't want a giant burn mark across your masterpiece. It is another slow and patient process that needs a lot of love. You slowly melt the wax from your eggs and wipe it gently with a paper towel. Remember patience patience. Simon wasn't chock full of it this evening after playing with his buds...but he still loved his Pysanky Time!
Where it stands now - Simon's egg is green with some orange underneath. We might just invest in some of our own pysanky tools. This could be a pretty - relaxing - tradition. Ahhh.
I was looking for some simple cotton fabric, and of course I couldn't resist the cotton robot flannel. I wanted something soft that I could use on the outside of a rice bag. I also got some muslin to use for the insides. I have a kiddo that is prone to ear infections and finally after a couple of years I realized it might not be the best idea to have him sleep with a heating pad. Not sure why that took me so long to figure out as I'm generally a Mama that is pretty careful about all kinds of environmental invasions.
Anyway I decided to sew the heating pad alternative, and my boys are way into the creation. The supplies are simple. Some muslin (I chose the unbleached version), some cotton flannel, some rice (or flax seeds) and thread of course.
I chose a few different soft flannels to make the "pillowcase" as colorful and fun as possible. I stitched them together slightly differently so we could tell them apart. A 4 and 6 year old don't like to share rice bags with one another.
But they still want what the other one has.
I did a little bit of "fancy" finishing on the edges of the pillowcase. I really just like to play with the different stitches on my machine.
Yay for robots. And stripes of course...who doesn't love stripes?
Now for the muslin. I decided to contain the rice in the muslin and have a cover that I could wash since this would be a common companion in bed and probably often when feeling a little bit under-the-weather. Washing was important to me.
When I measured the material for the pillowcase I added about 2 inches. So the muslin liner is 2" smaller than the pillowcase.
I just did a simple triple straight stitch around this muslin liner for the cuddle bag - rice is heavy and I wanted to be sure it wouldn't bust apart.
Next step was to funnel the rice in. I left a small opening along one of the edges of the muslin bag so I would be able to sneak some rice in.
I filled the cuddle bags to different levels (only slightly different) but I was careful to not make them too full so they would be rock hard. I wanted them to be soft enough for a little head or ear to lay upon. I think I was successful, and surprisingly I used a lot of rice even though I didn't fill them full. I think the muslin bag probably measured about 8"x12" - just to give you a size idea.
I triple straight stitched the opening and slid the muslin rice bag into the flannel pillowcases and tada a cozy cuddle bag.
I warm them in the microwave for a minute, or together, for 2 minutes. They hold their heat a surprisingly long time. I put some Lavender essential oil in each of them along with the rice and I like to drop oils on them (the muslin part) whenever the need arises. Of course if you don't have a microwave you can always warm them in your oven.
We spent some time making something fun this past weekend. It was a group effort, totally kid friendly...er at least 4 and 6 year old friendly. My big kid especially got into it. I didn't really let on entirely what we were making so we started off by pulling out our wool roving.
We littered our entire living room rug with colored wool bits. Simon and I set to work piecing those bits into balls. I shared the pattern on my knitting blog a few weeks back and finally got around to putting it together this past weekend. With the crazy winter weather we've had this year we've spent more time inside than normal. This was a perfect project, much like the crayons, for us to spend time together chatting and busying our hands sans any electronic media - which we try to steer clear of most of the time anyway.
We followed the pattern on Purl's blog pretty closely...but didn't have any white wool, so we made our garland multi-colored, which fits more accurately into our world anyway. We made our balls by laying our wool roving out in approximately 8 inch strips and then spreading it out a bit. We layered two pieces in the shape of an X and then folded it over itself a few times and basically wadded it up into a messy ball. When we had our messy ball ready we made use of our nylon stockings and stuffed the raw wool ball in, tied each one off and inserted the next ball.
I still hadn't told my kids what we were making at this point, which I think actually helped keep them interested. We filled up 4 nylon stockings with these cushy wool balls. They asked me if we were making caterpillars? balls? The wool filled nylons made pretty fun whips for two boys. The only thing they knew was that we were crafting for Gussy's birthday.
Look at all of that hard work. How pleasing. I think we sat on the living room floor for over an hour chatting and working away.
Time for felting...
We put our nylon wool filled caterpillars in the washing machine and put them through a hot cycle, with mild detergent (and dirty laundry). The pattern said that you could dry them for 10 minutes if you so desired and we did.
The next step was to cut the wool felted balls free.
And they came out beautifully. They weren't exactly perfectly round, but does it really matter?
I took a needle and some thick thread (no embroidery floss at our house) the thread we had on hand did the trick. I strung the felted orbs on the thread to reach across one of Gussy's walls in his bedroom. Disclaimer: This was intended to be birthday garland, but Gus doesn't turn four for a few more weeks. Who can wait that long?
I mentioned how uninspired I was a while back. Our 'art room' gets slightly out of control from time to time (from day to day).
Notice how I'm just showing you the mess made by the kids.
It is the best space in the winter - so bright and sunny - so inspiring for all of us.
I've finally started making my way through the scrap fabric for Sloane's quilt. I started cutting and sorting and ironing and things are a bit more organized, now I just need to start stitching the pieces together.
Sharing photos of what I'm doing gives me that extra motivational boost to actually finish...so that's what I'm hoping for...a completed Sloane gifty before too long. There really isn't a better time of year to hunker down and sew, knit and create, in our sunshiny space.
For the past two years I've made felt Valentine's for my sweetest little loveys. I'm constantly impressed by the wide array of stitches my sewing machine is capable of. I wish I could take credit for the beautiful stitches but my machine does it all for me (except for the steering).
I try my damnedest to salvage every single piece of that felt - this project is a perfect example of how to use tiny scraps.
Even the back looks fun. I have some variegated thread * more colors = more fun.
My kids still have their Valentines from last year hanging on the wall. If we manage to save them all over the years maybe when they are big I'll patch them onto a quilt or pillow. I'm sure they'll be stoked when they are 18 to have a heart pillow and quilt from their Mama to move out of the house with. Based on what I'm told right now, neither of them are ever moving out, if they could only stay 3 and 6.
Just like everyone that has kids, we have an 's'-ton of broken crayons. What do you do with them? I mean you can just use them I suppose, but when you are looking for that perfect color in the bucket (or whatever you happen to store your crayons in) the broken crayons aren't the most desirable. So we have an idea. I'm sure we haven't been the only ones with this idea, but we put a special Valentine spin on it.
Whilst traipsing through Joann's the other afternoon with my little August I was hunting for some fabric for their special Valentine presents and also looking for a silicone mold. We wanted to make use of our broken crayons and this was a fun way for us to craft together. I wasn't anticipating I would actually purchase the silicone heart mold (I'm not the hugest fan of hearts) but it seemed perfect when we saw it.
We have been peeling crayons for a couple of days now. One wouldn't think this small bucket could hold that many broken crayons, but your eyes are deceiving you. Simon was pretty sure his wrists were going to fall off from all that peeling. I almost had to call the wah-mbulance. We finished peeling on Sunday afternoon during a giant blizzard, I told him I probably couldn't drive him to the ER on the bad roads, so we'd definitely have to make a call. He usually isn't amused, but on' blizzard Sunday' he thought it was one of the funniest things ever.
Peeling and breaking the bits into even littler bits was quite pleasing - for some weird reason. My favorite part about it was that we sat around the tiny table in our art room and just chatted and chatted until we tired of peeling. We would find something else to do and come back to it again when we were ready.
Sometimes we even peeled crayons in our jammies.
We strategically placed the colors in the heart mold making sure no duplicate colors were in the same spaces. We wanted our crayons to be all mixed up - and we were keeping our fingers crossed we didn't end up with a mold full of brown hearts.
Even the scraps were a colorful delight.
Ready for oven entry. We baked them at 350 degrees and just watched them melt...so I'm not sure exactly how long it took. I would say it wasn't more than 5 minutes.
As they melted we were still keeping our fingers crossed for the perfect melted mix. We didn't want 24 brown hearts...and....
We didn't get 24 brown crayons. They weren't even cooled yet (above) and they looked gorgeous. We let them cool for about an hour before removing the first gem to check it, and then we just let them sit overnight. I don't think that was necessary, it was just bedtime and more fun to wait one more day before checking the final product.
When they cooled they lost a bit of their shimmer, but when we flipped them over...they were shimmeriffic!
Gus was stoked about the crayons? I have to admit, they were/are pretty fantastic. I mean they were/are 'dance a jig' fantastic!
Of course after a little discussion Simon went through the lot and chose 3 that he wanted to keep. The rest are going to be gifts, but they were just too pretty for him to part with all of them. We had 24, so him wanting to keep 3 felt just right.
Hopefully you'll never dispose of a busted crayon again! Happy Crayon Recycling! Happy Crafting!
I've been wanting to share my love for this Mama for a while now. She had the most perfect, beginning of February, post today and she shared something incredibly crafty that she just finished. Obviously this isn't her first crafty project - who could start with this project...really? She's amazing. She crafts, invents, parents in a way that I adore, plus she's pretty adorable. She and my friend Natalie created this feelings based empathy game together and successfully sell it across the planet. We have the poster hanging on the wall at home and we use it as a tool to talk about how we are feeling and it works wonders, when we are loyal to it.
Sometimes my boys can't quite tell me what is going on with their emotions and the illustrations are incredibly helpful. I wanted to really focus on the 'crafts' this amazing Mama kicks out, and I guess really, when you get down to the nitty gritty, she's a lot more than crafty or maybe 'crafty' can be all encompassing.
This prompted me to look for the definition of 'craft' and I found "an art, trade, or occupation requiring special skill, esp. manual skill: the craft of a mason." The craft of a parent? For those of you that are parents, that is pretty impossible to wrap your mind around - at least it is for me. Going through life, giving your whole self to other beings that are parts of you, not necessarily "belonging" to you but being responsible for their well-being. It is all a craft. I think it is amazing that parents can find time to do things like knit this beautiful cardigan and knit a hat to gift to someone and create an empathy tool for people, and still devote time, energy and thoughtfulness into being the best parent they can possibly be. I'm impressed with each blog post Kris shares and take her words, thoughts and actions to heart. I incorporate many of her thoughts into my life as a parent of two of the sweetest boys on earth. I really do try my best to keep my 'craft' going. I knit, I sew, I cook, I work, I clean, I love, I listen and I do my best to be the best at job #1 = Mama.
It is the best feeling in the world to make something for your kids. And then having them love that creation makes it a treasure. Thanks for being such an inspiration Kris. xo