Halloween Pumpkin Paint Project

I saw this idea awhile ago and look it looked cool. Mostly because I had all the items needed to do the craft. Here’s the inspiration.

When I told a friend of mine about this project she said something to the effect of, “What are you crazy?? You are going to paint with corn syrup?? It is so sticky. It’s going to be a complete mess!!”

I laughed. Why? Because I hadn’t even thought about that and…she was right. What was I thinking? Letting a four year-old paint with corn syrup!

Unfortunately, once I get an idea I can’t let it go. So…onward!

Here’s the steps:

  • I gathered all the supplies (thick paper, corn syrup, food coloring, black crayon, paintbrush, container for paint), put down newspaper and pulled my daughter’s hair in a ponytail.
  • We added the color to the corn syrup and mixed it. I was only going to do orange but couldn’t resist when she wanted to add yellow and green.
  • I drew the pumpkin in black crayon. Be careful to keep the colors separate or they will run together. As it dries, the syrup moves away from the black so it looks even better.
  • She painted the pumpkin. Use a lot of paint or it looks sparse and not as shiny.

Here’s the good and the bad:

  • It was easy
  • You don’t need a lot of odd materials
  • There’s not a lot of steps before seeing results
  • It looks cool
  • It is sticky
  • It NEVER dries
  • You can’t hang it up because it will drip (trust me, it will drip)

I loved it! She loved it! We had fun.  I think it would be cool to do a Christmas tree too.

What do you think?


Now That You Have an E-Reader, Here’s What to Do With Your Newspaper

Somewhere, somehow I’d seen the art of making beads from newspaper. Once the beads are complete, you can make a necklace or bracelet or whatever! Check these out:

From Recycle, Eh

From Mia Cronan at Kaboose

Totally awesome, right? Of course, I thought, “What a great craft idea for Leah and me.” So, off I went to find some newspaper in our recycle can, the glue, a small stick, and yarn.

We were ready to go. I made a practice one to figure out how big to cut the newspaper. Then I drew lines on the paper for Leah to cut.

Then I put glue on the paper and started to twirl it around the stick (which by the way was a glow stick bracelet…with the glow no longer glowing).

I made a bunch while Leah measured the yarn length for her neck and cut it all by herself (and cut up a bunch of the newspaper into small pieces, which I should have saved for confetti for New Year’s Eve).

Oh, also while I was finishing making the beads, she proceeded to take about 400 pictures (and a video). Here’s two of her top shots:

It didn’t take long before we were done her necklace!

Awesome! Awesome, if I wanted to do the project. This is not really a project for a four year-old. Oh, what – you looked at the directions from Kaboose and it suggests this project for five and up…interesting. Well, they’re right!

Guess what else? After I took a few pictures of her with the necklace, she took it off and immediately forgot it! Awesome! No, I’m not being sarcastic at all.

I do, however, still think this is cool. What a cheap way to get some great looking jewelry while feeling good about saving the planet!

Are you going to try it with your kids or just by yourself?
I’d love to hear your results! 


Princess Castle Cake (That You Could Make!)

I previously mentioned that I made my own pinata for Leah’s birthday party. Well, I also made my own castle cake. Most people would just go buy one, I get it. I feel the same way…almost.

What happens with me is, I’ll see the price of something and I’ll think, I can do that myself for that amount of money. But, it almost doesn’t matter what the price even is.

If I think I can do it myself, I feel like I should. Even though, I might spend more money (which doesn’t usually happen). Even though, I might annoy every one in the house while I’m doing it (which usually does happen). And, if I feel like I should do it, I usually do!

So, that’s how I came to trying to make the princess castle cake for Leah. Here’s the instructional video I used as my guide. Seemed easy enough. Onward!

  • I used two boxed cakes in two square cake pans.
  • Baked them at the same time and let them cool.
  • I used one full cake as the bottom level of the castle.
  • I cut the second cake in quarters.
  • I stacked two cake quarters on top of one another for the second level.
  • I cut the quarter into two smaller squares.
  • I added icing in between all the layers and stack them up.

Here’s what it looked like:

  • Then I did the dreaded crumb coat. I’ve been burned so many times with crumbs in my icing, I decided it was a necessity. To note, I didn’t water the icing down at all.
  • I spread the icing I had on very thinly.
  • Then I let it dry for a long, long, long time. I think I used too much on the very top because it was difficult to ice that one.
  • I iced the whole thing in pink frosting.

Here’s what it looked like:

  • For the decorations, I coated four ice cream cones with icing and then rolled them gingerly in tiny pink sprinkles.
  • I put those on each corner of the bottom layer.
  • I bought pastel color candy, like Smarties and Watermelon Sours, and placed them throughout the castle.
  • I used those vanilla sandwich cookies as the doors and windows. I’d advise against this one. They were a pain to cut and didn’t even look that good.
  • The bottom looked sparse with just the silver platter so I added rainbow sprinkles all along the bottom. It’s kind of wasteful because nobody eats those but it made it look so much prettier.
  • Then I cleared everything in the fridge and popped the cake in there until party time.

And here’s Leah with her Princess Castle Cake!

Leah loved the cake! She loved the process too. I was glad I made it for her. The main problem I had…I kept it in the fridge until we were ready to sing ‘Happy Birthday’. It was a warm day and I was afraid the icing would run. However, it didn’t turn out to be a good eating experience since the cake was really too cold to enjoy. Oh well, lesson learned!

What do you think? Any castle cakes in your future?


Make Your Own Pinata!

Months ago, Leah’s Spanish teacher at preschool had a pinata for the kids. Leah loved it! They also gave out a copy of the directions so you could make a pinata at home. I kept the directions and told her we would do it at another time.

A few weeks ago, we had Leah’s fourth birthday party. I was shopping for party decorations and saw a castle pinata for $20. Then I remembered the DIY pinata and figured…I can make my own pinata (famous last words!).

So, the week before the party, I dug out the directions. I hadn’t really looked at them before and now I realized they looked like they had been copied 100 times. So much so, they were almost illegible. Awesome. What a great way to start.

Moving on, I could at least read the ingredients to make the paper mache. Here’s what we had: a balloon, a cup of flour, a cup of water, and newspaper strips. I covered my work surface with newspaper too.

Then I mixed the flour and water. I dipped the newspaper strips in the mixture and began covering the balloon. You probably already know this but let me remind you, it’s messy! And, I cut the newspaper strips too long. They were ripping as I applied them.

I had never done paper mache before but my son came in and checked my work. He thought it looked pretty good. I checked and checked for areas that I missed and thought I’d had the whole thing covered pretty nicely. I didn’t want to do a second coat because I thought it would be too strong for the three and four year-olds to break.

Then I tied a ribbon on the balloon and tied it to a hanger. I hung the balloon from the shower curtain rod in the bathroom. Be sure to have a towel or something to catch any drippings – there will be drippings.

We left it to dry for the rest of the day. Leah was so excited about it though – we checked on it about 300 times. It was drying nicely but I held her off until the next afternoon. Then this happened.

The balloon started to pull through the top. I probably should have left it but I got nervous and took it down. This was a mistake because the bottom wasn’t quite dry yet. I left it on the counter until the next day, hoping for the best.

The directions called to put a popsicle stick into the top to hold it but based on the ripping, I knew this wasn’t an option. So, I glued ribbon around the bottom coming up the top. We could tie the ends of the ribbon to something to hold it during the actual breaking. The “x” created on the bottom of the ribbon would support it even more.

Now, let the problems begin.

The bottom started ripping because I was messing with it and it wasn’t fully dry. I had missed a portion in the side, which was creating a hole too. I tried taping these areas but the tape wasn’t holding well to the paper mache.

It looked awful. I decided to spray paint it pink to make it look better. Mistake.

The spray paint didn’t stick well to the tape. It looked even worse. I apologize for not having pictures of these stages but I thought this project was over. I had almost given up on it and was on my way to Target to get the $20 castle pinata.

But then…

I thought of “scrunching” tissue paper (kind of like we did in the rainbow project) and gluing that on to cover the hideous pink, taped, newspaper mess I had on my hands. It worked. Check it out:

Pretty good, right?? I added the candy and kept it in a large vase until we were ready for the kids to actually take swings at it. I set it in the middle of the counter and it looked like a beautiful, planned, party decoration. Leah loved it too. I can’t believe it but it was a big success.

If you’re interested in making this, here’s my advice from the lessons I learned:

  1. Cut the newspaper strips 2-3″ wide and ONLY 12″ long.
  2. Use a brightly colored balloon so you can see where the newspaper has covered it. Your holes will be more obvious.
  3. Let it dry – COMPLETELY!
  4. Don’t try to use tape. It’s a total waste of time.
  5. Don’t give up! You might end up with something amazing!

Let me know if you try it. I’d love to see your results!


Homemade “Bird” Feeder Craft

My daughter and I have two, full, empty weeks between summer camp and preschool to spend some good, quality time together. What that means is I need an arsenal of “projects” – as my daughter calls them – to pass the time.

Side Note: She doesn’t ever say, “Mom, I’m bored.” or “Mom, what are we going to do today?” She says, “Mom, what projects are we doing.” or “Mom, let’s do a project.” I’m not sure she got that from me. I think she got it from preschool.

When I was little my grandfather used to feed the birds in our backyard. In the winter, he’d even get suet from his butcher shop to feed them. So, the idea of creating a bird feeder seemed like a good one.

Now, I am not handy with wood so I’m not talking about a real bird feeder, I’m talking about seriously, homemade bird feeders.

Here’s what we did:

1. Went on a nature hunt for pine cones.
This was fun. She had a great time finding them and collecting them (all 17 of them).

2. Tied yarn to onto the pine cones.
She cut the yarn and I tied it on each pine cone.

Side note: At first, she preferred pushing pieces of a stick and pieces of yarn through the slats of the deck. *Sigh*

3. Spread peanut butter on the pine cones.
This was messy. My son got involved during this step. It was a good time to remind myself to let Leah do things herself. She was able to spread the peanut butter really well. It was only on one side but who cares, right?

4. Roll the peanut butter pine cones in a plate of crushed walnuts.
Messy, again. But easy and fun.

5. Hang the pine cones on trees.
I handled this. I’d hang two while they worked on the next two. It took a while.

Fun, right? A cool, (pretty much) free project. I think it would be great to do in the winter too. More pine cones available, better to feed the birds when there is less food around, and we used red ribbon, which would look really cute in the trees around Christmas time.

All, good. Then why did I call it “bird” feeder (with the quotes)? Because I don’t think we fed one bird. Here’s what happened:


These squirrels were so brazen. I was barely able to take the pictures of the completed pine cones before they were munching away. By the end of the day, they’d completely stolen a few of the pine combs and they’d eaten the peanut butter from the rest of them! C-R-A-Z-Y!

Either way, it was a fun project. Have you tried this?
Or will you? Let me know!


Pepper Print Shamrocks

In preparation for our “big” family St. Patty’s Day celebration, Leah and I are making two crafts. You might have read about the first one already. This one is the second.

Drum roll…pepper print shamrocks (oh, what…you read the title already).

Here’s the inspiration.

I decided to make some cards to send to family along with the decoration for the party. So I:

  • got all the paper
  • pulled Leah’s hair back
  • put newspaper down
  • poured some green paint in a plastic plate
  • cut the pepper


I showed Leah how to do it and she got started.

Let me just say, I LOVE this craft! We’ve been redeemed!!! Our bad craft luck has been lifted. I’m back on the craft band-wagon. Yippee!

It was simple, she loved it, it didn’t take long, and we both had fun – success (finally)!

Here’s the final product after I added a few embellishments.

What do you think?
Are you going to try it?

Rainbows Without the Rain

You might have read my St. Patty’s Day party plan. Part of the decorations included making rainbows similar to this but I was going to use tissue paper. Fun!

This craft started out so well!!

Leah and I were both excited to get started. We selected all the different colors of tissue paper.

Now, before you see the pictures, I’m going to tell you that I know pink is NOT in the “regular” rainbow but my daughter wanted pink so we added it.

I cut a piece of poster board (I’ve learned you need thicker stock when a lot of glue is needed). I drew a rainbow on the paper and added an initial of the colors that were supposed to go on each band.

Then, I cut the red tissue paper and showed Leah how to crinkle (isn’t that such a cute word) it and glue it to the paper. She started and I continued cutting the tissue. I probably could have extended this and let her cut the tissue paper but honestly I wasn’t in the mood (bad mom, I know).

Everything was going great! It was awesome. You might remember my post on the yarn hearts or “worse craft ever”…well, I was preparing the title for this post in my head –

Redeemed: Best Craft Ever


From Best to Worst

…you know, something cool like that.

Here’s a shot mid-work…better known as the good ole’ days:

So happy, right? Then…Leah got bored. Seems crinkling (still cute) up paper and gluing it in a particular place isn’t as much fun as one thinks. While I was finishing cutting the paper, here’s what she was working on:

Yep, whole other piece of paper – whole other “project.”

So, I started working on the real rainbow project. When Leah was done her project, she left the room. Here’s what she’d rather do:

Anyway, we did finish the rainbow. I like to think of it as a “team project.” Here’s Leah showing off both projects.

End result, we had fun but I would wait for her to be a bit older before trying something like this again.

It did come out pretty cool though,
don’t you think?