Wouldn’t Do Without Wednesday: Felt for Projects

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We have turned the spare room into The Activity Room. In addition to the guest bed and some storage for guests, the room is filled with crafting supplies. We have glue, tape, kids’ scissors, sequins, stickers, paper of all sorts, crayons, markers, paint, knitting needles, yarn and sewing supplies. These include felt for projects. Lots and lots of felt.

Occasionally, I propose crafting projects to J and M. For the most part, I allow them to come up with their own projects ideas. In the last few weeks, M has been getting deeply into sewing. She’s been making small purses for her friends and clothes for her toys. She took some photos of her daughter Valentina modeling her latest creations and allowed me to share them with you.

9-year-old access to felt, needles and thread translate into clothing for stuffed toys.

Home sick today, J was also inspired to try her hand at sewing, although she’s usually a knitter. She decided that she wanted to make a doll. We found the perfect pattern, Mimi Kirchner’s Felt Doll, at The Purl Bee. She’s made some pretty impressive headway for someone who learned to backstitch and whipstitch today and has never handled fiberfill before.

Mimi Kirchner's simple felt doll pattern is a good one for the beginning seamstress, aged 8 and up.

Ages 8 and 9 are just wonderful when it comes to learning new skills. Children this age have a sudden increase in patience and are able to understand that hard work pays off. They’re willing to put the time in for a satisfactory outcome. They’re on the young side to have lost faith in their abilities, so they’re quite willing to try new things. They don’t yet have the critical eye to be thrown by most newbie mistakes. A few tears may be shed, but a hug from Mommy can still make it all better.

That said, my daughters aren’t quite up to hand hemming their creations yet. That’s why I wouldn’t do without felt squares in our Activity Room supplies. The beauty of felt, in contrast to other fabrics, is that it doesn’t fray, and therefore doesn’t require hemming. It cuts easily, so I don’t have to make my fabric shears available to the children. They can use their own scissors. It’s stiff enough to hold up to small fingers instead of draping over a child’s hand as he or she learns a new stitch.

Felt is the perfect fabric for children learning to sew.

I picked up our latest stash of felt at Jo-Ann Fabric. I’ve bought it at Michaels in the past, and I’ve found amazing prices online for other crafting supplies at Factory Direct Craft. When my daughters were smaller, I’d cut small figures out of felt, sometimes people, sometimes animals, and sometimes abstract shapes. Against a background of construction paper, we put on plays. Or the girls created shapes. Or they made piles.

Wouldn't Do Without Wednesday at hdydi.com: This week, the gogo Kidz Travelmate.Felt is extraordinarily versatile. If your kids are old enough to keep it out of their mouths, I’d recommend picking some up. You never know what creations your creative children will think up.

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Make It Monday: Preschool Handwriting Sampler

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Our girls started learning to write their letters just after their third birthday.

Baby A's first "A"!
Baby A’s first “A”!

Since they really got the hang of it, around age 3 1/2, writing is a huge pastime for them.  They love to write notes, lists, and make cards.

I just love seeing the progression of their handwriting.  Here’s a list Baby A made before my birthday last month.  I didn’t know why she was asking me to spell all these items…turns out she was making a shopping list for Daddy to get me for my birthday.  HA!  I don’t really need any broccoli, but this mama wouldn’t mind some shoes and jelly beans!

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I was browsing Pinterest a couple of weeks ago, and I came upon this alphabet sampler.

I love this!!!
I love this!!!

It gave me an idea to do something with the girls’ writing.  I cut cardstock into 1″ x 1.5″ pieces.  I had the girls take turns writing the letters of the alphabet.  (Baby A got the letter “A”, and Baby B got the letter “B”…and so on.)  The letters “I” and “U” were done in red, and the letter “O” was replaced with one of Baby A’s signature hearts.

I found an 8″ square frame on clearance at our local craft store.  I also found some pink graph paper in their scrapbook section.  (Having the patterned background made things really easy to plot.)

The girls helped me sort the letters into order while I glued them down.

Viola!

For less than $5, a little elbow grease, and a handwriting lesson…I love the way it turned out!  And we all love seeing this on the bookshelves in our den.

MandyE is mom to five-year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

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MiM: Paint Chips for Parenting Projects

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Paint chips are a great FREE crafting resource. Ideas from hdydi.com
Original image by krugthethinker

Paint chips, the kind you pick up free at the paint or hardware store, are quite possibly my favourite crafting supply ever. They’re free. There’s no guilt in using paint chips for projects because stores expect us to take them home, for free.

And they are so very pretty, with vibrant colours in every shade you could possibly use. They’re great for educating toddlers about colours, of course, but they have a bazillion uses in crafts of all sorts.

Two of my favourite crafty bloggers are Valerie at Inner Child Fun and MaryAnne at Mama Smiles. I confess that they’re the two who brought paint chips’ crafty potential to my attention. Take a look at MaryAnne’s colour scheme game and Valerie’s outdoor colour match.

Or you could just browse our Pinterest board of Paint Chip Crafts!

I’m pinning other great paint chip craft ideas on Pinterest.

Let us know what your great craft idea is for these colourful strips of joy.

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

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Make-It Mondays: What To Do with Holiday Cards

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One of the wonderful delights of the holiday season for me is getting cards in the mail.  I love all the pictures, the sentiments…and if you really want to make me swoon, a hand-written note makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.  My girls, now almost five, get just as excited to see what treasures are in the mailbox this time of year.

For the past several years, inspired by the amazing Marcia at The 123 Blog, I’ve been preserving our holiday cards in a DSC_0949simple binder ring folder.

I use a hole punch to make holes in the cards (being as careful as possible to avoid our friends’ faces…you can see I didn’t always do such a stellar job!).  You can find binder rings at the craft store or the office supply store.

DSC_0947Last year, I took some of the girls’ [plethora of] Christmas tree artwork and up-cycled it into a cover.  I glued it onto card stock and had it laminated at the office supply store for $1.79.

The 2013 binder is a collection of cards the girls received throughout the year, from birthday, to Easter, to invitations to birthday parties and thank-you notes from friends.

Our girls LOVE to look through our card collection.  It’s a great way to remind them of our friends and family, many of whom we don’t see very often.

What do you do with the cards you receive during the year?  Do your kiddos like to hang onto every single invitation (the way mine do!)?

MandyE is mom to almost-five year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

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Getting Your Kiddos Involved in the Holidays: Gift Tags

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Since my girls were two, I’ve gotten them as involved in the holiday festivities as possible.  One activity we have really come to enjoy is making gift tags.

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Hard at work in their pj’s!

This year’s masterpieces feature fingerprint reindeer.  At soon-to-be five years old, the girls were able to do these all by themselves…the brown fingerprint was first; then the tip of a finger in the red ink…and then they used markers for the eyes and antlers.

I am so tickled with how they turned out…I can hardly wait to see them adorning our homemade goodies that we gift to our family and friends!

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Our little deer!

Some of our family members like to save these tags and hang them on their tree as ornaments.  We’re developing quite the collection!

How do you get your kiddos involved in the holidays?

MandyE is mom to fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

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Getting Your Kiddos Involved in the Holidays: Snowman Kits

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A couple of years ago, when our girls were just shy of three, we made “Build Your Own Snowman” kits for our friends.

We scouted our local dollar stores for the fixings you’d need for a snowman.  The girls loved the adventure of finding just the right trimmings.

DSC_0603Of course we included a hat and a scarf.  We had to get creative to find non-perishable things to be used to decorate the snowman.  We found sunglasses (in the party supply area — 5 for $1)…a doubled-up orange pipe cleaner for a nose…golf tees for the mouth…and brass brads for buttons.  In all, each kit cost about $3.

 

The girls had a great time decorating gift bags to hold our findings.  (We made quite a few of these bags for family and other friends, and the girls loved showing off their handiwork.)

DSC_0605On top of the bag, I tied a list of contents and my recipe for homemade hot chocolate, to be enjoyed after constructing the snowman.

As luck would have it, we haven’t had a significant snowfall over the past three years.  A couple of friends have mentioned they still have these tucked away for their next opportunity to build a snowman.  And I’ve seen pictures on Facebook from a couple of other families, pieces of our snowman construction kit having found their way into the dress-up bin.

Either way, this was such a fun activity, and a great way to get our girls involved in the holiday season.

What are some ways you get your young kiddos involved in the holidays?

MandyE is mom to soon-to-be five-year old fraternal twin girls.  She writes about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

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Advent Calendar Ideas

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I didn’t grow up with an Advent calendar, but I just love the idea of marking the days until Christmas.

A couple of years ago, when the girls were just shy of three, we made a countdown calendar.  I used their handprints to make a Christmas tree, and I wrote the numbers 1 – 24 on it.  Each day, the girls got to add an ornament sticker, their trees becoming fully decorated by Christmas.  They LOVED picking a sticker each day…and they talked about that calendar off and on the entire year following!

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Last year, I wanted to incorporate some fun activities, and the element of surprise.  I pinned a number of different ideas.  Here are some of my favorites…

…little packages, tied to a topiary…

…tiny little jars, I’ve seen arranged in various shapes, like trees or wreaths…

…a pretty jar filled with tiny boxes…

…little messages tied onto a frame with a screen in it…

 

…a holiday sock garland, each containing a little treasure…

[These are from what I think may be the mother lode of Advent ideas on Gluesticks…this site keeps going for days!]

I also love this idea from I {Heart} Nap Time

…little notes hung from clips on wire across a frame…

After much deliberation, here’s the calendar I created…

advent calendar-ME
…miniature clothespins glued to a frame…

And the verdict?  We had such a great time with it!!!  Each day we did a different activity.  There was a mix of really special things…like a cookie decorating party…and things we’d do anyway…like decorate our Christmas tree.

In no particular order, here were some of the items on our list last year…

  • Put up the Christmas tree
  • Buy a loaf of Holiday Bread from Panera
  • Make a donation to the local pet shelter
  • Eat out for breakfast
  • Make homemade hot chocolate
  • Go for a ride to see Christmas lights
  • Walk through the neighborhood with glow sticks to see Christmas lights
  • Leave a gift for the mailman
  • Leave a gift for the garbage truck and recycling truck
  • Make an ornament
  • Decorate cookies
  • Make chocolate-covered pretzels
  • Buy a new Christmas book
  • Go shopping for Sasha (our cat)
  • Wrap presents
  • Take gifts to our neighbors and sing Christmas carols
  • Walk around downtown and see the Christmas lights (and maybe a carriage ride?)
  • Visit the Opryland Hotel
  • Take cookies to Garcia’s (our favorite restaurant)
  • Make Chex mix
  • Make a donation to a bell-ringer
  • Take gifts to the girls’ teachers
  • Make gift tags for our Christmas presents
  • Watch the lighting of the tree in Rockefeller Center

I left the calendar open and filled in the next day’s activities the night before.  Some of these depended on the weather and what else we had scheduled, so having flexibility was really helpful.

The girls and I are looking forward to another fun year of holiday activities!

Do you have an Advent tradition?  I’d love to hear other ideas!

MandyE is mom to soon-to-be five-year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

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Food as {Preschool} Art

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I love to be in the kitchen, and I love to do crafts.  Since my girls were about two, and they began to delight in my efforts, I have found a lot of joy from combining two of my loves.

I’ve never created any really elaborate sandwich sculptures…or made a pirate ship out of a watermelon, complete with melon ball-shooting cannons…but if I can spend 10 or 15 minutes and surprise my girlies with something cute and edible from time to time, I find it so much fun.

Yesterday we hosted our favorite twin friends for a play date.  We made handprint turkey crafts, and I wanted something fun for a snack.  Inspired by several different versions of cookie / candy turkeys on Pinterest, I came up with this little guy, using the supplies I had on hand…

DSC_0925The body is a snack-size Reese’s cup, on top of two chocolate-covered pretzel twists.  I broke a pretzel stick in half to use for the legs.  I positioned everything on a cookie sheet and dipped the Reese’s cup in a tiny bit of melted chocolate to adhere everything together.  The eyes (Wilton brand) were left from Halloween, as were the candy corn M&M’s I used to decorate the tail feathers.  The beak is made from mini Reese’s pieces.  Those were adhered with a tiny bit of melted chocolate, too. I put my completed birds in the refrigerator to set.  (Take the birds out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you serve them; otherwise the cold chocolate can be pretty hard.)

The girls and their friends thought these birds were pretty neat.  :)

Looking back through my files, here are pictures of a couple of the Thanksgiving-themed eats I made last year…

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Pumpkin-shaped cheeseball.
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Cornucopia of trail mix…made by steaming the end of a waffle cone and curling it around a wooden spoon.
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Turkey veggie tray.

My creations won’t win any contests, but in the context of the preschool crowd, they’re usually a hit.

MandyE is mom to almost-five-year-old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures and her journey through motherhood at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

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How to Afford Twins: Bringing in Extra Income

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With two or more blessings coming into your life at once, cutting back seems the obvious route to go when figuring out how to afford twins or more, but sometimes it just isn’t enough, especially if one of the parents is now at home with the kids.  That is why you may want to consider bringing in extra income, because every little penny helps.  *Please be aware some of the links below are ldskatelyn’s affiliate or referral links.how to afford twinsDonate Plasma

Not everyone can qualify to donate plasma, and not everyone should or will want to (I have personally never done this), but if money is tight you might want to consider donating plasma.  You can help others and make a good chunk of change for going regularly.  It can be $15-35 per visit, or more.  To learn more check out donatingplasma.org and find a center near you.

Sell Your Stuff

Ebay, Craigslist, consignment shops, the newspaper, pawn shops, and yard sales are all ways you can sell things you already have and make some extra money.

Childcare at Home

As a mother of multiples, you already know how to do crowd control, so what’s one or two more kids around the house?  And an extra playmate for your kids might actually give you a break. Look into watching a friend’s children, or a neighbor’s child, or check local listings in papers, craigslist, and on sites like sittercity.com.  There are dozens of childcare websites out there, and lots of people looking to find affordable childcare, that perhaps you can help fill.  While I once looked into doing this, the thought of watching someone else’s child for 40+ hours a week, on top of my own, felt super overwhelming.  Know your limits, and know how many hours a week you’d be able to offer childcare in your home, and what to charge.

Independent Beauty or Other Sales Consultant

There are still several companies out there that still sell their goods through an in-home sales consultant.  Some of these companies are Avon, Mary Kay, Tupperware, Thirty One, and Lia Sophia.  So, if you love make-up, jewelry, kitchen appliances, storage containers, or purses, you may want to think about reaping the rewards monetarily from your love affairs.

Tutor or Teach

Were you a brainiac in school?  Did you excel in a certain field?  Do you do a craft or have a skill that could be shared with others?  Then think about teaching or tutoring.  Whether a cake decorating class, keyboarding 101, Zumba, math, or piano lessons, there is probably a need out there for you to fill.  You can try offering your services through places like craigslist.org and your local newspaper.  There are numerous tutoring websites and networks out there for you to apply to be a tutor on.  You can check with local craft stores, gyms, libraries, and even nursing homes to see if they would pay for you to teach a class.

Online Survey Sites

While not a great source of additional income, it is an easy way to make a few extra dollars.  I have signed up and used various online survey sites, and my favorite one has to be valuedopinions.com. But, there are dozens of survey sites out there, some better than others.  What I like about Valued Opinions is they offer cash, not points, in return for taking surveys.  I like cash.  I like knowing exactly how much I will earn from each survey I take, so I can gauge if it is worth my time or not.  Another survey company that does cash payouts is MindField Online.  Other survey sites I’ve used are Toluna, which offers by far the most surveys, increasing your chance of being able to take them and earn.  (See THIS post I wrote about how some survey sites compare.)

Rewards Search Engines

Did you know you can be rewarded for searching the internet?  Yes, just for doing regular searches in a specific search engine can mean a little extra cash!  I have used swagbucks for probably two years now.  You can download their search toolbar and make them your default search engine. Swagbucks doesn’t reward a set amount per search, and is a bit hit and miss, but typically awards 6-10 points at a time.  Points or swagbucks can be redeemed for an array of different gift cards and other rewards.  I most often cash out at just 450 points for a $5 Amazon gift card.  They also offer tons of other ways of accumulating points as well, like 10 points for using a coupon printed from their site.

Another search engine you can do this with is Bing. Bing Rewards also allows you collect points for using their search engine which can be used to cash in on gift cards and other prizes.  Honestly, I haven’t used this very much at all, but I think I may start.  Bing is a much more powerful search engine than the growingly popular Swagbucks website.  My husband, for instance, hates using swagbucks to search for things because he doesn’t like that results he gets.  Also, earning is simple with Bing. You earn 1 credit per 2 Bing searches, up to 15 credits a day.  If you got 15 credits a day, it would only take you 35 days to cash in a $5 amazon gift card.  Whatever you prefer, it is a simple way to earn without having to spend any extra time.  You’re going to do internet searches anyways!

Cash-Back Online Shopping

This is one of my very favorite ways to bring in a little extra money.  I feel like I win the lottery each time I do it because I save even more on my bargain hunting online.  There are many cash back online shopping sites, and I use three different ones.  Why three?  Because sometimes one will have a better deal at the moment than another and not all websites have contracts with all of them.  And ShopAtHome.com will do 110% Price Match Guarantee (which I have used numerous times). The three I use are ShopAtHome.com, Ebates, and UpromiseUpromise – The Smart Way to Save for College is a free service, and by adding your credit, debit, or grocery card means that you can begin saving money for college every time you shop at participating retailers.  However, you can always just cash it out too.  Upromise offers 5% cash back or more on just about all of their online retailers.  Not all online retailers (like Amazon) are connected to these cash back websites, or only offer cash back on certain purchases.  Always make sure the check the fine print.  So, before you buy something online again, STOP, and shop through one of these sites!  It’ll be like getting the tax back on your purchases!

Baking and Cooking

Do you love to cook?  To bake?  Then maybe you should think about doing it to make a little extra income.  Cupcakes and specialty cakes seem to be all the rage.  Offer your services to friends and neighbors who will be having a themed birthday party soon or online.

Photography or Art

Are you an artist or a photographer?  Think about offering your services and creations to others.  There are lots of local venues and markets for artists to share and sell their goods, as well as bigger art fairs.  You can take requests and do commissions, a guaranteed way to make money. Or, create several works and take them to a fair or art show and try to sell them. Or think about opening an etsy shop with prints of your works.

Etsy Shop

Do you have a crafty hobby?  Do you already spend time creating?  Then you might want to think about starting your own business via etsy.  Etsy is a great place for creative people who also know how to operate a small business.  I have known many people to be very successful etsy sellers. It isn’t for everyone, as it is indeed a business and can be time-consuming and expensive to start up in the beginning, but can be very fun and rewarding!

Blogging

Everyone is passionate about something.  And sometimes that passion can be profitable.  If you love writing, social networking, websites, and graphic design, you may want to think about trying to make money from blogging.  There is never a guarantee return with blogging, especially as more and more blogs start every single day, but there are tons of resources out there to help you try.  Also, the more focused your niche (your hometown, animal photography, Atkins dieting, whatever) the more likely you can be successful.

What have you done to bring in extra income to afford your twins (or triplets)?

ldskatelyn is the mastermind behind this week’s theme week of saving money, trying to help others learn how to afford twins.  She loves saving money and making ends meet and is so excited that she is sharing some of her knowledge with others this week!  She blogs about her family and parenting over at What’s up Fagans?

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