Sheep Puppet Craft

Sunday, March 29, 2020

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I am so head over heels for these little sheep. I have seen other marionettes like this on the internet, but I've never seen a sheep one. I figured since March is supposed to be "out like a lamb," this was the perfect craft for right now. We are under a tornado watch as I write this, though, so I'm not sure March got the memo.

T.P or Paper Towel Roll
Cotton Balls
School Glue
Black Paint, Marker, or Crayon

1. Cut holes in your cardboard tube.
Fold your tube in half, add two holes to the top and 4 to the bottom. The bottom holes will not be centered, leaving space for the head. For a better explanation, please look at the pictures below. Do not be afraid to draw guides, this will all be covered up. Folding the tube might leave it an oval shape, but that's okay! The oblong face shape actually looks more like a sheep!

2. Cut out the head, ears, and legs.
Trace the front end of the tube (the end with just one hole) on a piece of paper. Add tabs to your drawing, then cut it out. This piece will cover one end of the tube to make a face. For the ears you want to draw one ear shape with a tab on the top, then fold the paper in half and cut through both layers at the same time, giving you two ears that are the exact same shape.
You will also want to cut your straws, which will be your legs, at this time. I ended up liking the legs that were about 2 inches long the best.

3. It's time to make our sheep's face black! 
Paint the front end of the sheep up past the first set of leg holes.  Then paint both sides of the face and the ears.

4. Add the strings. 
When you cut your string for the legs, make sure they are double your straw length plus at least 5 inches. You will also need a very long string (at least 2 feet) that you will thread through the top two holes to create the puppet strings.
Thread the long string through the top and the shorter strings through the holes across from each other on the bottom.
To add the straws that make the legs, you will need to thread a straw through one leg, then tie multiple knots, and check that the straw doesn't slip off when tugged before trimming the end. Be sure to leave enough room for the leg to move when the cotton is attached, I left about an inch of string between the straw and the cardboard tube. Repeat this process with the other side of the string, checking to make sure you have left enough room on both legs before you trim. Add all four legs, then it's time to make this sheep fluffy!

5. Time to glue! 
Kids will love this part because, to get the cotton to stick, the more glue the better. I found that if you pull apart the cotton balls prior to attaching them to the tube the wool looks much more realistic. Glue as close as you can to the strings, but make sure not to cover the hole completely. I was even able to stretch cotton over the back end of the sheep, which makes for a cuter project.
When all of that is done and partially dry, it's time to add the face. Put glue on the tabs and then attach them to the sides. you'll have to hold these in place for a while. Then add the ears to the top.

6. Tie the strings onto a straw (or stick) and you're done! 
I added notches to my straw to give the string something to grip. See-saw the stick back and forth to make this he sheep walk!

I let Ro test the sheep when it was done, and he got a kick out of making the sheep dance. From an adult's perspective, I like that this craft has a rustic vibe without being too over the top. I feel like it's one of those toys that could also double as a decoration. It took me about a half hour to complete, and then at least another half hour for the glue to dry completely.

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Pet Census Printables

Thursday, March 19, 2020

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With everything else that is going on in the world right now, the census may not seem that important.  But with a lot of use stuck at home anyway, it's definitely worth it to take a few minutes to be counted. The data collected from the U.S. Census determines how many seats your state has in the House of Representatives, as well as aiding in the distribution to funds to communities. You can find more information on the website.

To help kids understand what a census is, I've made this cute little printable pack for you to do your own pet census at home!

For your census, you could count the animals in your neighborhood, in your family, or even on a TV show! I have included a form for Instagram stories, so your friends, family, or followers could also participate digitally.

For kids who are a bit too young to add, you can keep track of the totals using Legos or other small toys. Legos have the added advantage of being able to make a bar graph. For the older kids, there are websites where you can plug in the numbers to make a bar graph or even a pie chart. Sneaky math lesson! 

I've also included image files of all of the animal types, so you can use them to label your counts. You can also print one for every animal counted, or even print a town of animal pictures to be counted! 

If you want to print multiples on one page, save the file and then copy and paste the image into whatever editing software you have (paint or Word would work). Resize to the desired size by clicking the corner and dragging. Add as many as you need to the page, then print!

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10 [tea, but make it punk] Things...

Saturday, March 14, 2020

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I searched high and low for the perfect teapot for this list and MAN am I glad I did. I now have a new watched search on eBay.

I started this list because I realized that there were some teas that I wanted to share with the world. Birthday Cake from David's Tea gets the top spot, because it's the first flavored tea I bought. The sprinkles in this tea add such a fun, sweet surprise.

I love this Bavarian Wild Berry Black Tea from Lipton. It comes in these neat triangle bags that make you feel so fancy! Sadly, I think this tea has been discontinued. I am currently hoarding a box of it in my cabinet, like some kind of tea dragon.

Add any butterfly pea flower to a green-based tea and all a sudden you have this gorgeous teal color.  Blue Moon Tea is one of those that gets the balance just right for a truly magnificent color. When a friend introduced me to this I felt like all of my dreams had come true.

Now that I'm looking at this list I want to do a tea flight, but with a rainbow of tea. The red hue in my rainbow is definitely created by Tazo's Passion Tea. It's got a great flavor, but with no caffeine. Hello, night time tea!

And one of my favorite things is when people brew teas to match my favorite characters. Malfoy Tea Emporium on Etsy has wonderful tea mixes for all of my treasured fictional people. I personally have Rhysand (love my dark brooding leads) and Karou (my favorite leading lady of all time. She would definitely approve of this list.)

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Car Show Birthday Party

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

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I'm so excited to share this party with you guys.  Ronan has a little obsession with wheels, so when I was dreaming up a theme for his 2nd birthday party I knew cars had to be involved somehow. Because a two-year-old isn't really familiar with the whole concept of birthdays yet, I took some of the pressure off by trying to just plan a day that would make him HAPPY. I was talking it out with my husband on the way home from shopping one day, and out of my mouth spilled, "Oh, he would love a car show." And instead of just moving on to the next idea, because admittedly that one sounded a little ambitious, the thought embedded itself in my mind. By the time we had gotten home, I had called more than one member of my family and dreamed up a whole plan.

I suppose, to make myself look a little saner, I should include the fact that my husband and I both own sporty cars, and my dad owns a few old vehicles. So when I landed on the "Car Show" theme I knew that we would be able to stock the show with our own vehicles, so anyone else who brought one was just icing on the cake.

The brilliance of having a theme like "Car Show" is that the decorations could be as simple (or complicated) as I wanted. I went the simple route, with the thought behind the color choices and the general mood being "vintage small town."  Since I live in a little adorable vintage small town, the location really set the stage. All I did was amp up the cute factor by making some bunting out of colored paper and twine.

Our other big DIY for the day was our favors. In the spirit of car shows, we gave every participating car a ribbon that Ronan himself helped create. The center of the rosette was created with the "tire painting" technique (aka driving the cars through the paint then across the page). Then there was a layer of paper, which we hot glued ruffly ribbon to, then the ribbon that hangs down, then finally another circle of paper on the back. It was a bit of work (took about an hour and a half to make a dozen or so), but I love the way they turned out. And I've seen a few of the ribbons tucked away in the houses of relatives, which is so sweet.

The food was simple and classic. We are very away of the fact that Ro having an October birthday means that almost every party would involve some sort of bonfire (which I am perfectly fine with, we love roasting hot dogs!) A few bottle sodas and mini cupcakes rounded out the food table and put the spotlight on the best part of the edibles: the birthday cake. 

While this birthday cake was amazing looking, I'll tell you a secret: it was so simple. I borrowed inspiration from this cake I found on Pinterest. The cake is a store-bought angel food that I took attacked with a spatula to smooth it out. Then I crushed some chocolate and filled the center, placed the dump truck on top, and arranged the leftover chocolate to look as if it were spilling out the dump truck and down the side. I added two construction cone candles that I found at Target and it was the cutest dang cake I ever have seen.

I am a firm believer that parties should include at least one planned activity, so to add some fun to our event I bought these wooden cars from Amazon. I set up a table with paint and brushes with a sign that gave people the option of painting a car for Ro or taking it home. Most chose to give their masterpiece to the birthday boy, so we now have a wonderful collection of custom cars that were created by the people that love Ronan most. The only regret I have is that I didn't ask people to sign them. On that note, if you painted a car and you remember what it looked like, please tell me which is yours, haha!

In the spirit of honesty, this day started out with my phone taking a bath with my child, leaving all of the last minute details and picture taking to be done with my husband's phone (he was such a good sport about it, though.) That, plus a few other mishaps that were beyond my control, could have taken a wonderful day and made it stressful for me and unenjoyable for the birthday boy. But with the support of my family, who took a few hours out of their day to help prep for the party, I was able to really relax and enjoy the event. The theme had a very hands-off vibe that was truly great. It allowed me to really enjoy my time with the monster, and all of the people we love.

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Inspire Me: Rachel Metz

Sunday, March 8, 2020

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It's International Women's Day! And I just wanted to use my little space to introduce you to an influencer who has really inspired me lately.

This is Rachel Metz. An at-home DIYer turned YouTuber who uses her platform to not only share amazing projects but to do so in a way that is incredibly empowering. She makes using heavy-duty power tools look like nothing. She does everything from building furniture from scratch (and not just side tables, I'm talking full-on bars) to redecorating entire rooms, floor to ceiling. And does it all in a way that makes you think "that doesn't look so bad. I could totally do that." She seems to have an attitude that says "I can. And if I can't, I'll learn." She's not afraid to show that she doesn't know everything, but no matter what tool she needs to use, no matter how hard the work is, she gets the job done. She is, in a word, a badass.

And when I say she has inspired me, I mean directly. I'm generally a clumsy person, so I tend to stay away from power tools because I'd rather keep all of my fingers. But as I dream up bigger and bigger projects, I'm starting to feel guilty asking for help with things I'm pretty sure I could do on my own if I just womaned up and picked up the dang tools. Enter: the compost bin.

Let us go back to last year, a year where I spend a few seconds after every meal mourning the scraps we are putting into the trash. You see, I grew up in the country, and we always had a compost bucket where all our scraps would go. When it got full we'd dump the scraps into a pile in the timber. It was just how it was. Now, though, I live in town. And I feel like my neighbors wouldn't look too kindly on having a pile of food scraps in my back yard. So I started researching compost bins. Fast forward a year and I am still getting an uncomfortable feeling every time I throw away food.

What's tripping me up with this compost bin is that I'll have to drill holes into a plastic tote to get things started. And a drill is a power tool, so I better not touch it. But then I'm watching Rachel Metz' channel and shes doing WAY more scary things, and then there's a warm day, and we go to farm store and there's a tub that's the perfect size for what I need. Everything aligns and before I know it I have a drill in my hand and I'm calling my dad to find out how to change out the drill bit. 

And guys... I did it. And I still have all my fingers.

I know it's small, but it's a start. 

So thank you, Rachel Metz, for giving me the confidence to sit down and figure out how to complete a project. You are awesome, and an inspiration to me and everyone else who has followed your journey. 

Links for Rachel Metz:

And if you want to make your own compost bin, here is a link to the tutorial I used.

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DIY "the Mitten" Play Set

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

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I am a sucker for books with props. Adding that extra level of tactile interaction always elevates storytime. "The Mitten" by Jan Brett is an excellent example of a book that lends itself well to props. In case you aren't familiar with the story the Mitten, the concept is pretty simple. A boy drops a mitten, and a group of animals decide that it looks warm and move in. The animals range in size from hedgehog to bear so, unfortunately, their cozy cuddle pile doesn't last. At least no one gets eaten.

The process of making these does take a little time and a little creativity,  but they aren't too hard to reproduce. Not focusing on hyper realism helps. You might notice that my bunny's mouth is crooked, for example, but it adds to the homemade charm that fits this story well.

Disclaimer: I did not seal these with anything, so I only allow my monster to play with them while someone is watching, to hopefully prevent him from putting them in his mouth. 

Mitten (from Amazon)
8 Peg Dolls
Acrylic Paint

The design for these animals was both simple and difficult at the same time. The ears for the animals are lying back on the top of their head, and they were what tripped me up the most. I tried to simplify the creatures by picking iconic features to focus on. The stripes of the badger, or the nose of the mole, for example.

To paint my animals I used watered down acrylics. This allowed the wood grain to show through, giving the dolls a more natural look. I tried to keep everything toned down, using the more muted colors found in nature. I feel like this really helps tie in with Jan Brett's illustration style.
The process for each doll went a little like this: first layer of watered down acrylic was the base layer color. White for the rabbit, yellow for the owl, orange for the fox, light brown for the mouse and the hedgehog, and dark brown for the mole, bear, and badger.
Let that coat dry, then start the face details. I drew them on with pencil first then traced my drawing with a very fine brush. While I kept using watered down paint for the large sections of color, I switched to straight acrylic for any fine detail work.

I love the way these little guys turned out. Giving the kids a chance to stuff all of the animals into a mitten, even if they are not quite to scale, gives the children a extra level of silly. These peg dolls are the perfect size for this activity because they stretch the mitten just enough that you do actually wonder if they all will fit inside.

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Sketchy Outfit 37: Monster and Me

Monday, December 30, 2019

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I'm not going to lie... almost every day I try to match my child in some way. Usually it's my socks, and it's just this little extra thing that makes me smile whenever I think about it. But the other day the stars aligned and the laundry was clean and I was able to go all out... and man was it worth it. This kid's adorableness is going to slay me, I swear.

(Honestly, I cut this romper up to make it into a tank top
during the summer and I've never once regretted it.
We've gotten so much more use out of it this way.)

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