Arts and Crafts


Origami Star Boxes

A friend of mine gave me a gift recently. I wanted to share the idea with you. She loves Origami and makes these beautiful open paper boxes with them. Then she fills the boxes with various things. At Christmas, she gave us Hersey’s kisses and more recently, they were lantern houses. As usual, my daughters are “ga-ga” over them. They often go to bed with the little lights. I loved the way that she decorated them.

Just can't keep her hands off!

Any other cool Origami tips, facts or ideas to share?

Here’s a site that has created very easy instruction and wonderful pictures (if you can ignore the ads).

Love the Origami, or maybe the tea light.
Art, Arts and Crafts, Book Reviews

Book Review: Usborne Children’s Books

I am such a fan of the Usborne Books.  I first found one in the library and then another, and then another and began to notice that I kept checking out books by the same company.  They are beautiful books, full of pictures and  colors and yet they are very simple.

The Usborne Publishing company was founded in the UK in 1973 and they publish all sorts of books for children –  fiction, non-fiction, etc. on a broad range of topics.  Their website can be found here.  While I am not intending to sell their books, I do recommend taking a look at them.  I think that they are very user friendly for families.

Recently I asked for two of the drawing paperbacks for Christmas (I know,  a geeky gift and I’m sure that my sis-in-law thought that I was a nut-case!)  I am such a wretched artist, but I want to learn at least more than stick-figures.  I’ve purchased some drawings for idiots type of books, but they were so complicated that I wasn’t up to the task.  I was impressed with these books and how easily the steps were outlined.

How to Draw Princesses and Ballerinas (Usborne Activities) by Fiona Watt, 2005


My daughters are as fond of them as I am.  My six-year-old loves drawing and doing the activities and my three-year-old “reads” them to herself, sitting and making up stories.


How to Draw Fairies and Mermaids (Usborne Activities) by Fiona Watt, 2005

I believe that it is VERY important that as parents, we provide non-electronic (i.e. movies, video games, music, etc)  activities for our children whenever possible.  They need to learn how to be unplugged as much as they need to learn how to be plugged in!

  • What non-electronic activities do your children do?
  • Any similar art book suggestions, especially “boy” books ?
Creative Play, Creativity, Parties

Pirate Party – ARRRR!!

We had an Indian Summer last fall in Utah.  My cousin, Jana decided to take advantage of the warm weather and she threw a pirate party.  First of all, there is no one craftier, than Jana.  She can turn nothing into something beautiful and I am in awe of her talents.

Jana, Pirate Party Queen Extraordinaire

I received this in my inbox –


The Invitation

We dressed up the girls (as much as I could) –

The Pink Pirate Brigade


There were Pirate games, a treasure hunt, and a marshmallow fight.  The kids had a blast –

The flag

Jana has a knack!  Her site is Creations from the Kitchen Table.

Treasure Map

(Look at the detail on that hand-drawn map!)

A casualty in the Great Marshmallow War.

The kids were crazy, and Jana’s husband, Rob was such a great sport as the kids “attacked” him.

The location of the treasure was magical!

I just love it when you can get under a tree with hanging branches.

The treasure chest

The treasure chest was made out of a box of Kirkland Signature Baby wipes  – it was fantastic.  Check out the look on the boy’s face – he is mesmerized!

Hip, hip, hooray!

It was wonderful!  Creative, fun, and there was no “underlying” reason for it (birthday, etc.).  Here’s to Jana for making the kid’s day bright, just for fun!

Arts and Crafts, Book Reviews

Book Review: An Apple Pie for Dinner

I recently read a sweet book with my children.  An Apple Pie for Dinner is the re-telling of an English folktale, written by Susan VanHecke, illustrated by Carol Baicker-McKee. Published by Marshall Cavendish, 2009.

There’s also a website dedicated to it with fun activities and a more detailed look at the book.

The story was very enjoyable.  It was about working together and making friends along the way, as well as sticking to a task and sacrificing for others.

The thing that really drew me to the book was the illustration.  Carol Baicker-McKee made each picture from baked clay, fabric, pipe cleaners, lace, buttons, hooks, embroidery, trims  and just about anything that you can name.

There was also a section from the illustrator talking about how she created mixed-medium 3D creations.  Oh, I just drool at the creative possibilities of this and lament the lack of hours in the day!

I’d love to put together pictures like this of poems from my childhood.

Does this spark any ideas for you?

Arts and Crafts

Reindeer Thumb-print Cards

Today I was babysitting my nieces, which seems to always turn into craft time.  They were getting tired of just making collages (one of my favorite things to have kids do, because it’s simple and creative. :))

So, I got out a craft magazine that had some instructions for simple Christmas cards, and I pulled out some craft items that made their eyes POP out with excitement.

In the magazine, there were three thumb-print reindeer, Rudolph in the middle.  Each one had mini googly eyes and a miniature pom-pom for the nose.

I had neither googly eyes, nor pom-poms.

I asked the girls what they would do to finish out the project.  I love making crafts in which I don’t need to follow every detail of the template.  You get the most creative ideas that way from the kids, and they feel empowered to create!

So, here is my attempt at the card (are you ready for cheesy?)

Outside of the card

Inside the card (click on file to see more detail).

Other ideas for Rudolph and friends?

How about ideas for thumb-print cards?

(I saw some really cute snowman thumb-prints once.  I’ll have to replicate here sometime.)

Arts and Crafts

Magazine Envelopes

When I first went away to college,  I wrote letters to friends all around the world who had gone in different directions – school, missions for our church, work, etc.  This was in the days before e-mail (were there ever such days?). I got really creative with the materials that I used to write those letters, because, let’s face it – “poor college student” is a cliche after all.

One of my favorite things to create was the envelope.  I made them out of magazine pages.  Really.  And I sent them all around the world, from all over the world.

So today, I’m going to show you a fun project to make when you come across a magazine add, picture, or page that you just can’t part with.

Magazine Envelopes

Materials that you will need:

  • A page from a magazine
  • scissors
  • glue
  • tape
  • white paper or address labels (as needed)


1. Find a page from a magazine that is mostly a picture.

A boy in nature

2. Turn it to the backside and fold the bottom 3/4 of the way up and the top 1/3 down over the bottom.

(And by the way, I hope you are enjoying my creative solution – these gorgeous hand drawings – to show you step by step how to make the envelopes.  Sure, I could use fancy computer graphics or photography, but I think that childish hand drawn items are coming back, I really do!) 😉

3. Fold side edges 1/2 inch.

4. Now it gets a little tricky, so I will try to describe it, but leave it to your cleverness, the diagram, and an interpretive dance number (that I will create later) to figure out what I mean.

Cut the bottom 1/2 inch edge fold off of your envelope.  Also, cut  the top 1/2 inch edge fold, leaving a small triangle in each corner.

5. Glue along the sides that you left in the 1/2 inch fold, but only up to the bottom of the triangles.  Fold the bottom 2/3 up and attach to the glue.

6. Cut triangles off of the top 1/3 of the envelope and fold down to meet the main body.

7.  Insert letter inside and paste shut.

This looks funky, I know, but the white part is the letter going into the envelope.

8. Address the front.  I use a piece of paper and then tape it on, but I’m sure you could write right on it as well.

I usually use clear packing tape (my favorite :)) to make sure that the sides are tightly shut – especially if it is going out of the country.  Yes, amazingly these really do work, and make it through the mail.

For this particular magazine page, I had to make the backside upside down, so that more of the part of the picture that I liked was showing.  It’s a fun project and hopefully can help you introduce the Art of letter writing to your family.

I also found this link to a post called “Dressing up” your envelopes that I thought was really fun (though there was a shocking lack of

hand drawn diagrams.)

What other ideas do you have for creative letter writing, envelopes, etc.?  Please, feel free to improve upon this idea and tell us about it.

Arts and Crafts, Book Reviews, Creative Play

Book Review – The Creative Family


The Creative Family

I just found a book in the library (see previous post) called – The Creative Family: how to encourage imagination and nurture family connections by Amanda Blake Soule.

It was full of some really good ideas.

I’m just going to jot down a couple of notes that I thought were helpful as part of this review.

  • She does a family drawing time – kind of like the “notebooks” project that I described.
  • Art Night – where you gather another family together, set up art centers and create.
  • Gather ideas in an accordion type file folder – bits of creative inspiration.  I’ve done this for years – when I see something I love in a magazine, I’ll rip it out.  It’s just a great idea to categorize them.  I think I’ll do a section on drawing.  (More on that in another post when I get it worked out.)
  • Search for old books in a thrift store, or old books that are falling apart for pictures and re-crafting ideas.  (I LOVE this idea!)
  • She puts the kids art work on an Inspiration Wire, my sister has done this for a while and I think it’s just a great way to do an “art show” when you don’t have a ton of room.
  • She talked about allowing your kids to use quality products and tools. I agree with that because, lets face it –  the dollar store crayons just don’t add color like crayola. 🙂

The book was full of inspirational quotes and really lovely pictures as well as some fun ideas that can help encourage creativity in children.

Amanda’s website Soule Mama is interesting as well.

One of my favorite quotes from the book was –

“The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world there will not be another child like him.”

-Pablo Casals