Step Up to Memories – A Craft Project for Parents and Kids


If you’ve been looking for a creative art project to do with the kids, look no further! I recently did a fun project with my daughter and thought I’d share the how-to for other parents who are looking for ways to keep their kids busy and creative all while making something useful for around the home!

What You’ll Need

A wooden step ladder
Spray paint (your choice of color)
Sponges (either cut into shapes of your choice or pre-purchased in shapes)
Letter Stencils (of your child’s name)
Craft Paint (your choice of colors)
Newspaper (the older the better)
Smock or old clothing for you and your child

Now you’re ready to start creating. A little preparation is needed before bringing your child into the project. Take the step ladder outside and put it on the newspaper and spray paint it, covering the entire step ladder thoroughly. Let it dry overnight and you’ll be ready to bring your child into the project the next day!

Bring the painted ladder to your work area (outside is recommended). Work with your child to sponge paint the shapes onto the ladder in the colors of your choice. Let it dry thoroughly.

Next, help your child stencil their name(s) onto the ladder. I’d recommend doing it on the side, and not the top, as the top will take a bit of wear if you plan to let your child use it. If it is to be a decoration for the porch of your child’s room, putting the name on top will be ok if you choose to do so. Let it dry.

Your child now has a ladder, personally designed by them, to use. Put it in the corner of their room and through their favorite stuffed animal or trophies or photographs on top. You can also use the ladder as décor in your garden or on your porch. More practically, you can let your child use it for help in reaching the bathroom sink or other out of the way place they need to get to on a frequent basis.

While you can buy a step stool in the store, making one with your child not only gives you an activity to do together to get in some quality time, but it also will serve as a reminder for many years of the time you spent together and may even end up as a hand me down to your grandchildren.

And remember, above all, have fun!

Try Crafting For Your Next Hobby


Why should I or anyone for that matter get involved in crafting? Well…first things first, have you noticed how prices just keep getting higher and higher? Who can afford to give a decent gift to anyone nowadays? But…if you make the gift yourself it can be done for a fraction of the cost, not to mention the fact that everyone admires and wishes they could do the crafting themselves.

Well you can! All you have to do is try. Crafting is one area that creativity itself is often inspired by necessity. And amazingly enough new crafters usually find that they fall in love with crafting. Many people start out crafting because they have no choice, they needed something to give to someone or they could not afford to buy ready made things for their own home. In the process of learning how to save money they discover this amazing person inside of themselves, this creative and talented person that they never would have believed they could be.

You too can become more creative. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and each and every one of us has our own concepts of what is beautiful. Each of us has hidden talents just waiting to be accessed. Once you get started you will be amazed at how quickly your mind will become flooded with ideas for things you can make. Anything you see was crafted by someone. Why not you?

Where do I start?

Well, what do you need? Once you know why you need a gift then you can look for something to fit the person you want to make the gift for.

I needed a gift for my friend who had just bought her first home and I wanted it to be something special as a housewarming gift. She has always used tons of candles in her home so I found a log that had an interesting shape and cut it so that it was about six inches high by ten or twelve inches around. I cleaned the wood and sanded it top and bottom then carved out an area in the middle to pour the wax, that I had colored in green to match her new living room. The wax was a green apple scent and I poured it into the area I had carved out of the center of the log. A little polish on the top and I had a gift that I was proud of and she really enjoyed it also.

Crafting is anything you make yourself! And there are all kinds of crafts that you can choose to do. There’s needle work such as embroidery both hand embroidery and machine embroidery, crochet, cross stitching, smocking and knitting just to name a few.

There’s jewelry making such as beading, wire twisting and silver smiting (silver smiting is not as hard as some people think).

There’s wreath making for all kinds of holidays.

Candle making can be even more creative than you think.

Painting both with oils and water colors.

Then there’s the junk art that has become so popular and is made from things you find in and around your own home.

There are many more forms of crafting that have not been mentioned here and I’m sure even more are being created as we speak, so have a great day and happy crafting!

How to choose Craft Paper for Scrapbooks


Now that you have your pen, glue, protectors, etc, you will need to choose paper for your scrapbook. Craft paper with seals of approval is ideal when creating scrapbooks. Craft paper includes the CK OK products. Paper designed for photocopying, journals, or albums are the choice papers. The paper that most crafters use is the pH that does not go over 8.0. The ideal level is 6.5 and/or 7.5. Un-buffered paper is the choice for many crafters, yet some recommend buffer paper with alkaline base. Paper should have an acid-base; therefore look for the lignin-free products. Paper without dyes, and are colorfast are choice products also. P.A.T. approved paper is the Photo Activity Test products, which is ideal for scrapbooks.

The paper outlined is ideal for photos. If you intend to add extras, consider pH levels no higher than 7.5 also. Buffer paper should have a very low content of zinc, magnesium, and calcium carbonates. Use the lignin-free and colorfast papers that do not dye as well.

Paper includes the basic of decorative designs. Pattern is a type of paper that has designs that replicate throughout the page. You can find conservative bold, tasteful designs, funky stuff, and so on. You can also purchase matching stickers to setoff your scrapbook.

When you create pattern scrapbooks keep in mind you are creating a book that brings your past to the future. You are creating a memo that tells a person about your past. In view of the fact, when choosing pattern paper try out the general patterns. If you choose extreme patterns, it will only rob viewers of seeing what you crafted to promote in the first place.

How to choose patterns:
“General pattern paper” has a variety of designs, including floral, stripes, and dots. You can choose the general patterns if you want variety. General papers are ideal for those who are searching for versatile results as well.

If you are designing holiday decors use the general patters with minuscule red dots. The dots will blend well with the holidays design, such as those during Christmas.

Once you choose your paper, you can craft some ideas, such as using your patterns to fit in with small and large photos or embellishments. Paper mounts may include single mounts. You can use die cut layers to shape.

How to choose die cuts-
Die cuts for shaping may include small and large-scale patterns. You can also use scraps, punch holes in the patterns to create borders. Patchwork is also made up of scrap patterns.

How to pierce:
Paper piercing is an adventure. To finish the process you merely create layers, such as the matching templates, trace, cut, and join the layers together. Use solid patterns along with general scraps to finish the process.

You can also use scraps from your patterns to create letters. Of course, you can mark your pages, including dates, names, locations, etc, with craft pens, yet the letters you create with patterns will enhance your scrapbook. Try using the patterns to create a title page.

Use patterns also to create letter headings for journals, captions, title page, and so on. If you want to produce a basic layout, use two different patterns. The first pattern should mount your photos while the other is used as a background setting. You can add matching stickers to enhance your new decorative scrapbook pages.

As I said, once you choose your paper search for the designs that match your scrapbook layout. Patterns include the framed designs. In fact, the framed designs can off set your photos dramatically, especially if you choose frames that set off your photos. For instance, if you have a photo of your child playing soccer, why not choose the framed patterns with soccer as the title in the lower box, and soccer balls around the frame.

12 Creative Ways To Recycle Your Cards!


Don’t throw your Christmas cards away! There are so many creative ways to use your Christmas cards, many of which you can do with your kids. We have brought together some ideas below.

Christmas jigsaw game:
Make a Christmas jigsaw game. Gather 10-20 cards and cut each one into 3 or 4 pieces, using straight lines. Shuffle them up and lay them out on a flat service such as a dining table or the floor – then put them back together again! Store the cards in a shoebox for next time. This is fun on a quiet family evening at the beginning of the season as it helps to get everybody into the Christmas spirit!

Christmas tree ornaments:
Make cinnamon stick ornaments for the Christmas tree. Wrap a small bundle of cinnamon sticks together with a pretty ribbon tied in a bow (leave a loop for hanging). Using a small dab of glue, attach a pretty shape cut from a Christmas card with pinking shears to the centre of the ribbon bow to finish the ornament off. These look pretty and smell delicious too!

Scented sachets:
Make scented sachets to give as gifts or fragrance your own home. Simply glue the bottom and side edges of the card together and then slip a small amount of potpourri (or a cotton ball on which you have dropped a little Christmas essential oil) into the space. Use a hole punch to make two holes on the top edge, through which you can thread a pretty ribbon before tying a bow. If you leave a loop in the ribbon, the sachets can be hung on door handles, coat hooks or radiators (the heat will help to release the scent, but it won’t last as long) to create a welcoming, Christmas atmosphere.

Christmas mobile or “string”:
Cut shapes out of the cards in matching pairs. Hearts work nicely, as do simple Christmas tree shapes and even plain squares and circles. Stick the cards back to back and laminate them, then punch a hole in them and use to make a colorful and child-friendly mobile or “string” to decorate next year. You could add to this every year. As a variation, you could back each shape with a plain-colored piece of card or construction paper and write on it the date and name of the person who sent the card.

Christmas card game:
Cut playing-card shapes out of the cards, stick a piece of plain card over any writing if necessary, and use to make a Christmas game or quiz for your children to play next year. Laminate to protect.

Gift tags:
A traditional activity, but one which never fails to amuse the kids, is making gift tags for next year’s presents. Use pinking sheers, a hole punch, and leftover ribbon

Gift bags:
Make gift bags for next year by saving smart paper bags. Cut a nice shape out of each card and stick it to the front of the bag (covering any shop labels if necessary). Sometimes one Christmas card will yield many different bag decorations! Add a little ribbon bow just above the card and wrap your present in tissue paper before putting it into the bag. This looks lovely with brown paper bags and tartan ribbons.

Miniature Christmas cards:
Some Christmas card designs can be cut and folded into miniature Christmas cards for the kids to give next year, or for decorating the dolls house.

Christmas screensaver:
Scan your favorite cards into the computer – and some of your favorite messages from inside the cards as well – and make them into a Christmas wallpaper or screensaver with a photo program. Children love this and it is a great memento if you do it each year.

Lacing card:
Cut out the pictures on the larger cards, punch holes around the edges with a hole punch, add a shoelace or brightly colored yarn (with sticky tape wrapped around the ends) and you have a cheerful and cheap lacing card for little ones. If they are particularly popular you could laminate them to make them last longer.

Christmas confetti:
Make some Christmas confetti to use next year (scatter it on the Christmas table, or put a pinch inside your Christmas cards and gifts!) Use either a plain hole punch or a special Christmas one (both together look great) and choose the most colorful areas from each card to cut. Gold and silver looks very effective, especially mixed in with red and green. Small scraps of leftover wrapping paper can be used too. You can keep the children busy with this for hours!

The Revival Of Arts and Crafts


The terms Arts and Crafts and Mission Style are often used synonymously today. They refer to a style of home design and furnishings emphasizing natural materials, especially wood, and showcasing a pronounced geometry in the design. Their tremendous revival in popularity stems largely from their association with hand-crafted elements (though many knock-offs are manufactured by machine), a rarity in this technologically advanced age. The pieces offer an heirloom quality and a patina that deepens with age. Arts and Crafts furnishings and interiors are also typically very durable and classic with a timeless appeal. They suit today’s desire to simplify and get back to basics. Arts and Crafts interiors are an ideal marriage of function and aesthetic; spaces are designed to work for those living there. To create your own Arts and Crafts interior, there are several elements to consider, both in materials and design.

The materials of an Arts and Crafts interior, while not limited to nature, emphasize wood, stone, glass (made from sand), ceramic tiles (made from minerals/earth), and textiles (using wool, cotton, or linen fibers, and, of course, leather). Much of the visual pattern comes from the grain of the wood selected. Traditionally oak was used, but currently natural cherry is frequently enjoyed. The oak tends to have a golden brown gleam, while the cherry is redder. Both darken naturally with age, which is to be expected.

Flooring, all architectural trim/molding, doors, stair rails and stiles, and exposed structural supports are all typically wood, oak being most prevalent. Waxed or oil finishes prevail. Joints are pegged, or hand-crafted metal hardware is used. Door knobs, cabinet pulls and the like are again hand-crafted wrought iron or bronze in black, umber, or verdigris. Many are square or rectangular shaped and are hand hammered. For a lighter look, some homeowners today are opting for a soft brushed pewter or nickel finish instead. Once you have the guidelines, you can bend them to suit. If an alternative to a wood floor is desired, tile or slate would be appropriate substitutes. The tile should be large and laid in a linear pattern, not on the diagonal.

To balance and complement the visual depth of the wood, walls are often treated with a textured paint or plastered. (The old bungalows have original plaster.) A good bet is the river rock finish that Ralph Lauren paint provides. Paint schemes bear an influence from nature with goldenrod yellows, burnt sienna browns, cimmaron and Indian reds, sage and moss greens, and a neutral palette of earthy tans, toasts, and beiges. The overall feeling has a harmony, continuity, with all elements working together, none upstaging the other. It is about creating an organic home, one that works within its environment and makes the most of its surroundings both outside and inside.

Fireplaces have wood or stone mantels, with stone, ceramic or occasionally brick surrounds. The wood is again oak with a golden stain, usually waxed or rubbed, not polyurethaned. Satin or matte finishes rule. Stone is field stone– stacked dry or with mortar, it presents a terrific textural visual. River rock may be used instead and the round smooth stones provide a counterpoint to the rectilinear geometry otherwise present. Ceramic tiles will typically have a motif from nature, perhaps a leaf or acorn, or be an iridescent finish. Today glass tiles are also used to great advantage. Brick, when employed, is smooth faced and laid in clean horizontal bands. Again, one of the clear features of an Arts and Crafts interior is the linear quality. The feeling that the house is part of a bigger view, part of the horizon, is all an effort to be from and of the earth.

Historically, many of the Arts and Crafts and Mission homes sported art glass windows, or at least many panes. This enabled windows to be left uncovered and still appear decorative. Today, art glass windows can be cost prohibitive except in select areas, so if treatment is desired for either privacy, light, or heat control, simpler is better. This translates to either plain Roman shades, silhouettes, wood blinds, or panels on either tabs or rings on a decorative rod (wood or wrought iron) with finials. If tiebacks are desired consider sisal tassels, simple and bold, or a band of the same fabric as the drapery. No trim or other decorative element is required. Fabric patterns may herald nature, such as a leaf print, or be based in geometry. There is a wide range on the market today including historical prints by William Morris and designs by Frank Lloyd Wright. The same may also be found in wall covering, though use it sparingly as it is often busy and distracting. Arts and Crafts and Mission Style today both represent a desire for a wholesome, hearty lifestyle, a return to yesterday’s values.

Furnishings in the Arts and Crafts home are again wood, occasionally with a wrought iron or ceramic tile accent. Glass is rarely used. Tables, being functional as well as good looking, often have at least a drawer and a shelf for storage. Shapes are squares, rectangles and octagons. Today more rounds are available. Again, the geometry created by edges is most apparent. Sofas and chairs are often wood backed with exposed wood arms and cushions that can be readily cleaned or changed out depending on the season. Flexibility and adaptability are prime features. Mission style goes a step further and often offers sofas or chairs with a deep wood shelf surrounding them acting as the arm and a table (Frank Lloyd Wright design), which gives the illusion of a built-in piece. Leather is frequently used or fabrics in natural fibers such as cotton, linen, or wool. Rich colors and geometric or patterns drawn from nature abound. The most significant interest comes from the combination of elements, again, no one piece dominating. Busy patterns are used sparingly, increasing longevity and flexibility of the furnishings. Resources for furnishings include Stickley, American Impressions by Ethan Allen, and Cotswald Furnishings, a superior resource for hand-crafted furnishings and more in Atlanta.

Lighting in an Arts and Crafts or Mission home is critical, especially with all the dark woods and depth of color schemes popular. While ceiling lights, including recessed, can give a good general light, it is far more effective and pleasing to adopt a wealth of luminaries. Torchieres (floor lamps that give uplight, and are best placed in corners) can provide valuable general lighting, while table lamps and floor lamps provide invitation and welcome. Accent lighting can be done with mantel lamps, sconces, and dresser lamps. The two most common types of lamps are the mica and metal designs (the body of the lamp being hammered bronze or copper, the shade a sheet of mica) and the art glass lamps with wood or art glass bases and shades of glass in geometric patterns and a squared coolie shape. Other lighting options include a wealth of reproduction lighting through several lighting sources such as Arroyo Craftsmen and Yamagiwa. (They are available through designers and have an outstanding line of Frank Lloyd Wright designs.)

Accents, accessories, and artwork should be kept to a minimum to allow for a fuller appreciation of the architecture of the home and materials of nature showcased. This is a good chance to provide balance to the predominance of wood with elements in glass, ceramics, and metal. Both bowls and vessels are readily available in all materials mentioned here. Iridescent ware in both ceramics and glass provides an airy complement to the weight and depth of the wood.