Super Quick Glowing Eyeball Halloween Craft

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Boo! from our rock star-themed pumpkin

Just a quickie to wish everyone out there a Happy Halloween and to share a fun little last minute craft that’s obviously perfect for Halloween…. but if you ask my boys eyeballs are totally cool anytime of year! This little project is cheap, quick to make, not too scary, and something even the little ones can get in on.

Glowing Eyeballs

  • Ping pong balls
  • LED Flameless tealights (we got ours at Target)
  • Sharpie permanent markers
  • Xacto knife
  1. Have an adult use an Xacto knife to cut a small “x” in each of your ping pong balls
  2. Slip each ping pong ball onto the “flame” part of a tealight
  3. Decorate with whatever funny, crazy, silly eyeball designs you like

More Halloween fun —  10 Minute Crafts: Mummy Jars and Monster Hands; Spooky Snacks Creepy Fingers and Mango Tummy Ticklers

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Enchanted Forest Crafts

We’ve got our big preschool party coming up and the theme is “enchanted forest”. Given my love of wee villages, gnomes and unicorns it was impossible for me not to volunteer to help with some crafty decorations. So today I diverge from our usual foodie topics to share some kid-friendly crafts which will whisk you away to fairy tale land. Most of these projects take advantage of recycled materials you probably already have around your house and none require advanced crafting skills. I guarantee that we’ll be scheduling some forest-y themed playdates and spring picnics so we can keep the magic going. For more ideas, wander over to my Enchanted Forest Party Pinterest Board and another good one compiled by a friend from our school.

All you need is some bright red felt for this one. If you don’t like to sew, I bet duct tape or staples would work out just fine. Some guidelines for making gnome hats can be found here.

A must for any fairy sprite, this flowery garland is easy to make with a few fabric scraps, fake flowers, a bit of elastic, ribbon and your trusty hot glue gun. I’ll create a separate post with the instructions, so stay tuned.

We made fairy wands using some cheap plastic chopsticks from our local Asian store (about a buck for 20 chopsticks), used manila folders, cheap ribbon, glitter and some hot glue. Those disposable wooden restaurant chopsticks would work too. Just cut out two stars the same size from your manilla folder. We secured a few ribbons to each chopstick with a dab of hot glue before sandwiching them between our stars. Apply a little hot glue (or regular old school glue) around edge of your stars and press it all together and let it dry. Then you’re ready to grab glitter, pens, paints or whatever magical decorations you wish.

Celebrate your inner unicorn! Just make some cone shapes out of old manila folders, securing the edge with tape, staples or glue… then get decorating. We used basic school glue to seal our edges shut and dried them flat under a stack of heavy books (make sure to protect your books by inserting a sheet of waxed paper between your unicorn horns and the books). We’ll be attaching a bit of elastic to these of course so that they will stay on our heads! If you happen to have some laying around, you could also use one of those cone shaped birthday party hats as your base. Open it up and flatten it, then cut the triangle in half. Glue tape or staple the the edges (you may need to trim the bottoms of the cones) to get two skinny and more unicorn-ish horns.

All the credit for this ingenious mini rainbow goes to my son. We cut a paper plate in half then cut off the edges (you’ll get two rainbows from each plate). We then cut 2 cloud shapes out of the middle part of the plate as our base. Just use a can to prop up your rainbow while the glue dries. Paint your rainbow up and glue on a little basket of gold for the leprechauns to find.

You can get pretty creative with a milk carton. Since detailed cutting will require an X-acto knife, invite young crafters to create the design using markers and leave the cutting to the adults. The waxy surface of the carton isn’t the best surface for markers or paint, but after a few coats of paint we ended up with a nice effect. We fashioned some shutters and windowboxes from a cereal box and used a piece of unpopped popcorn for our doorknob. A little moss glued to the roof gives it that rustic flair and the flickering LED tea light inside makes it easy to imagine a friendly gnome putting his feet up by the fire after a long day among the toadstools.

We made this mushroom house (see the picture at the top of this post for a better view) with a coffee cup and a paper plate. You could create a family of mushrooms by mixing it up with different sized paper bowls and plates and cups or adding in some paper towel or toilet paper rolls and cardboard coffee sleeves. My favorite part are the gills underneath the mushroom cap. Very mushroom-y!

For a touch of candy land in your enchanted forest, I am obsessed with these giant candy lights. The idea comes from a favorite blog, Oh Happy Day. You’ll want to check out their write up for the full details, but the materials include recycled clear plastic clamshell containers (the kind that fruit comes in), a string of Chistmas lights, cellophane in candy colors (available at most craft stores) and some cheap ribbon or floral wire.

Calling all crafters.....

DIY Instant Oatmeal

Both my little guys love oatmeal for breakfast, and for that matter so do their parents. There’s something about eating a warm meal to start your day that just can’t be beat. And it’s nice to know that you’re feeding your children something that will stick with them… at least until snack time. I do love the convenience of those little oatmeal packets — especially on days when I am called upon to make breakfast while still half asleep — but I don’t love all the sugar and what-cha-ma-call-it contained inside. Take a look at the ingredients sometime, you might be pretty surprised.

It turns out that making your own super yummy, customized, much better than the store bought stuff, instant oatmeal at home is a pretty darn easy. I’ll call this one “an hour and you’re done”- type activity which makes it perfect for an afterschool project or a weekend quickie. It would also be a great one to do as a foodie playdate with a few buddies. Even though ziplock bags or old yogurt containers will do just fine for storing your awesome artisan oats, we highly recommend going the extra mile and making your own groovy DIY packets from recycled lunch bags — that is if you don’t find a few zips on a sewing machine off-putting. We loved the oatmeal we made, but in the end I think we loved our handmade packets even more.

Gather your ingredients:

  • Oats — plan on 1 cup of oats per ~8 packets . Quick oats will be most like the instant oatmeal you know and love, but you can use rolled oats too. We found we needed to give rolled oats a little zap in the microwave after adding hot water to really soften them up to our liking.
  • Dry nonfat milk powder
  • Other no-cook or quick cooking whole grains and seeds (optional): puffed rice or wheat, whole wheat couscous, bulgur wheat, amaranth seeds, flax seeds, etc.
  • Dried or dehydrated fruit, chopped nuts, shredded coconut, etc. Scissors work great for snipping larger pieces of dried fruit into small slivers.
  • Spices and Sugar (we like a sugar with some flavor like turbinado or vanilla sugar made by storing a vanilla bean in  small jar of sugar)

If you are making your own packets:

Grab some old lunch bags and for each packet, cut a rectangle 10″ x 7″. Fold the rectangle in half so you have a 5″ x 7″ rectangle doubled over. [We used a 4″ x 6″-sized packet which worked for the amount of oatmeal described here, but it was a little tight.]  Sew a straight stitch along 2 of the open sides, leaving one side open so you cal fill your packet (this took me less than a minute per packet). Decorate your packet and then fill it up. To close up your filled packet, push the oatmeal away from the open side and hold it there while you make a quick seam along the open end (sounds harder than it is). You’ll be able to tear into the un-sewn side when it’s oatmeal time.

Mix up the oatmeal base for each packet:

After some tinkering, we decided that we like this base for for our oatmeal packets. This is just the right size for a kid-sized portion:  1 TBL whole oats, 1 TBL oat powder, 1/2 TBL dry milk powder, 1 TBL whole grain of your choice (we used a combination of bulgur wheat and puffed wheat). To make oat powder, just pulverize whole oats in your blender or food processor.  If you like more texture, just increase the ratio of whole oats to oat powder. Definitely mix one up and doing a taste test before assembling the rest of your packets.

To each packet add your favorite extras. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Tropical Fig: slivers of dried fig, toasted coconut, toasted sliced almonds, turbinado sugar, a pinch of ground ginger (pictured below, topped with cara cara oranges and a splash of milk)
  • Apricots, Apricots: tiny slivers and bigg-ish chunks of dried apricot, vanilla sugar
  • Strawberries n’ Cream: dehydrated strawberries, brown sugar, and a little extra dry milk powder
  • I Love Apples: tiny pieces of dried apple, cinnamon, teensy pinch of allspice, brown sugar (mix in apple sauce and a dash of apple cider syrup after adding hot water)
  • “Hi Mom/Hi Luca”: dehydrated strawberries, dehydrated blueberries, vanilla sugar, chopped up dried cherries (and a tiny pinch of coconut thrown in while Luca wasn’t looking)

Hungry for more? You might also like these other breakfast favorites: Granola-yogurt Fruit Towers, Snack Attack (or Anytime) Granola, Orange Vanilla Creamsicle Smoothie, Becky’s Carrot Zucchini Pineapple Muffins

Hey There Popsicle!

Welcome to the “Popsicle Hut” (or “what happens when Stacie gets a hold of Luca’s craft supplies”). One of the best things about being a parent is having that extra excuse to indulge your silly side. Like spending a whole evening making a popsicle stick snack shack for instance.

I wish I could claim this as an original idea, but it’s based on a project from Martha along with some other pretty cool popsicle stick creations. The instructions are a little lacking, but in a way, I prefer that. It invites you to make the project your own. We actually had the most fun of all making teeny popsicles out of the project scraps — and thinking up funny flavors like Luca’s favorite, cherry eyeball surprise. [A popsicle fun fact: Did you know the popsicle was invented in 1905 in San Francisco by eleven year old Frank Epperson? It’s an interesting story you can read more about here.]

We have grand visions of a whole popsicle stick town, but in the meantime, playing popsicle hut is keeping us awfully busy. Tutti Frutti Sparkle or Super Lime Fantastic anyone?

Crazy Cake

Crazy Cake = an easy, impromptu craft project that you can whip up with supplies you probably have around the house. Even a 2 year old can have fun helping with this one!

Project supplies: cardboard, kraft paper tape, tissue paper, school glue, paint brush, clear plastic packaging & clear tape (for the candles), fun crafty items like googly eyes or pom poms. Start to finish time is as little as a half hour including cutting and taping the cake “base”.

On a rainy day without the supplies to make an actual cake, we decided to make a crazy cake out of whatever we could find close at hand. Just water down the school glue and use a paintbrush to adhere tissue paper squares for the “frosting”. For the candles, I cut rectangles out of clear plastic packaging, rolled them long ways and secured the seams with clear packing tape. We rolled skinny strips of tissue paper and inserted them into the clear tubes. Let your imagination run wild!

I keep a stash of kraft paper tape among my crafting supplies because it adheres well to any paper, blends with cardboard boxes and paper grocery bags, and since it’s paper, it takes most drawing and painting media (and stickers!) well.