Saturday, March 19, 2011

3 Simple Projects for Eco-Friendly Celebration Banners

Whether it's a spring soiree, birthday party or Easter celebration, a fabric or paper banner can add a festive touch and keep things green for the special day. 

Here are my top three Banner Tutorial picks:

Sew a pennant banner using fabric scraps.  Make something special that you can pull out year after year with this simple sewing project.

Create an adorable no-sew fabric banner with small scraps.  In a hurry?  Whip up this no-sew banner with some fusible tape and an iron.  This is a great project to use up tiny scraps of fabric and one the kids could help create.

Sew a paper bunting using up scrap paper or pages from old books. Recycle prints, old maps, music sheets and scrapbook paper into an fun banner that would look so cute in a bedroom or studio all year round!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

5 Simple Ways to Enjoy Spring

Is the sun peeking out today?  Have the birds returned and little leaf buds are starting to pop out on the trees?  My yard was covered in dandelions last week - I know I should be disgusted as a home owner, but the kid me was rather giddy about pucking one up and making a few wishes of my own!

Even though I'm a mom of teenagers now, I still declare unplugged days where no computers or Ipods are allowed.  No matter what age your kids are, get them outside enjoying nature and help them find ways to have fun without gadgets.

Here are 5 simple activities to welcome spring.

1. Make wishes blowing dandelions. I know they are weeds - but they hold all sorts of charm for kids.  Find a wild field to explore or a park where you can get a hold of some of these fluff balls.

2. Make bubble magic with giant bubble wands.

3. Create a sidewalk chalk mural.  You can pick up a box of sidewalk chalk for just a few dollars.  Come up with a theme and draw a giant picture with your kids.  A circus, zoo or underwater scenes would be fun.

4. Jump rope - here are a list of silly rhymes for jump rope play.

5. Make paper airplanes and see which designs fly the farthest. This would be a fun way to use some of the junk mail before it flies into the recycling bin!

Click on the links for more inspiration.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Eco Super Heros

Help your kids live green.

The 3 R's never get old:

Recycle
Teach them to recycle household items.
(They get to help save the world every time they throw something into the recycling bin.)
Donate gentle used goods to a local thrift store or charity.

Reuse
Reuse cast off items to create craft projects.
Make stuff animals from old t-shirts, socks or single gloves.

Reduce
Repair broken toys and mend clothing rather than replacing them.
Teach your children the value of living simply and enjoying what they already have.
Create new toys & make games together instead of shopping for them.
Enjoy nature walks as entertainment.

Click on the links above for tons of great ideas.

Books for kids about recycling:

Written by Lara Bergen and illustrated by Betsy Synder

Written by Molly Smith and Illustrated by Tad Carpenter

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bedtime Stories

These two little fellows popped up in my sketchbook yesterday.

Which had me thinking about when my girls were little and our bedtime rituals. 
Which of course, included a nightly bedtime story.

One that sticks out in my mind that captured my heart when my girls were little was Kiss Good Night by Amy Hest and illustrated by Anita Jeram.  Anita illustrated Guess How Much I Love You, this book is night and day from her light and playful watercolors.  It's filled with rich, painterly color and a sweet night time, fall-inspired mood that makes you feel all snuggly.

If you haven't had a chance to read this one, take a peek at it.

My youngest was 5 when this book first came out and we enjoyed cuddling up for a good snuggle while we read this story together.  Sometimes my older daughter would read it to us.  Those days passed so quickly.  I wish I could have slowed them down and spent more time in those moments.  It's funny how a picture book is now a little snapshot of that time, with it's words and illsutrations it can conjure up those memories and feelings. 

What an amazing honor to be a part of a family's history in the form of a beloved bedtime story.  I hope one day new moms are reading my stories and sharing my artwork as they tuck in their precious little ones at night.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Friday, March 4, 2011

Do What YOU Do Best

This week I was looking around at illustrators' blogs and websites and had that old sinking feeling again.  You know - those jealous inklings, feelings of inadequacy.  You hear Wayne & Garth in the back of your head chanting, "We're not worthy."  

I was feeling a little old. My 30's are fast coming to an end and I was feeling decidedly unhip.  But guess what - that is not a productive mode, so I knew I had to snap out of it. 

I have never been one to follow the crowd, not as a kid and not as an adult.  So why would I concern myself about not feeling like I'm following some super cool illustration trend? 

Why would I want to be one in a sea of the same - hip or not? 
So I asked myself a simple question - what do I do best and am I doing it?

What I do best is inspire folks to be creative - big and little folks.

I've had 14 years of solid practice of inspiring kids to live creatively.  My artist daughters are the proof of that.  That top photo is my youngest daughter who decided last week she wanted to try painting with her toes.  You have to love the irreverent and kooky preteen years!
So what do I do best?
Inspire
Live Green
Make Stuff
Breath Beads

My work will never be hip, it will be sweet and sensitive.  Honest and creative.  That's me.

A promise to myself:

I will not waste time any longer thinking of what I can't do or compare myself to others.

I will work everyday to inspire, help families life creatively and bring my crafty goodness to as many kids as possible!

So what do you do best?  Blog about it and share your story with me.

P.S.  Hip work can be sweet and sensitive, honest & creative - but it wouldn't be if I were doing it because it wouldn't come from a place of authenticity for me.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cooking with Kids: Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

This recipe is modified from the one on Martha Stewart's website.  Enlist your kids to help, I bet their favorite part will be painting the chocolate into the bottom of the paper cups.

Directions:
(ingredients listed above)
1. Combine butter, sugar and peanut butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium.  Put the mixture in a pastry bag or use a large freezer Ziploc bag - simple cut off one of the bottom corners when you are ready to pipe the mix into the cups.

2. Melt the chocolate in a double broiler.  Keep the chocolate over the warm water when working with it.

3. Use a small paint brush to paint the inside of the paper cups with chocolate, coat the bottom and sides well. Place the cups on a baking sheet when you finish each one.  Put the baking sheet in the freezer for 10 minutes until the chocolate cups are firm.

4. Remove tray from freezer and pipe the peanut butter mixture 3/4 way full into each cup. Spoon melted chocolate on top of the peanut butter.  Return to the freezer for 15-25 minutes.  Store in the freezer until ready to serve.