- 4 Childrens’ Book Illustrator Websites Worth Checking Out
- 9 Last Minute Father’s Day Crafts for Kids
- Getting Ready for Backyard Parties and Summer Entertaining
- Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Jam
- Involving Kids in the Laundry Routine
- Celebrate Dad with a Fun DIY Spinner Card
- Crocheted Whales, Oh Yes!
- 3 Easy Ways to Sneak Math into Snack Time
- Patching Up My Granny Square Blanket
- Father’s Day Fridge Magnets
We love picture books! Even though my girls can read big, fat chapter books now, there is still something magical about a silly or sweet story paired with the perfect illustrations. My girls often use picture books as inspiration for their own drawings, so lately we've been surfing the web to check out some of our favorite illustrators' websites. My younger daughter loves all the printables that feature some of her favorite story characters, while my older daughter gets inspired reading the biographies of each illustrator. Getting a peek "behind-the-scenes" of an illustrator is a great creativity spark in our house. HERE ARE FOUR OF OUR FAVORITE CHILDREN'S BOOK ILLUSTRATOR WEBSITES TO EXPLORE: MOUSE COOKIE BOOKS This site is the home of author Laura Numeroff and illustrator Felicia Bond's series of "If You Give…" books, some of my girls all-time favorite picture books. You'll find online games, printables, recipes, and author/illustrator biographies alongside super-cute animations of the stars of these books - Moose, Mouse, Pig, Cat, and Dog. _My kids' picks:_ Cat's Cupcake Decorating Game, the hip-hop mouse cookie song in the Listening Corner, and the treats in the recipe section. SCAREDY SQUIRREL My girls are _huge_ fans of Mélanie Watt's quirky and extra-cautious squirrel. They love the illustrations of Scaredy's maps and charts. At the bottom of the Games page, you'll find suggestions for a Scaredy Squirrel themed party. Great kids' book club idea! _My kids' picks:_ Create your own emergency kit printable and all the silly warnings as you click around the site. PIGEON PRESENTS! Your kids are friends with Mo Willems' Pigeon, right? This website is full of fun activities with Pigeon and his pals. My girls enjoyed watching the "Mo History" video in the Grownup Stuff section. _My kids' picks:_ Elephant & Piggie Dance Game, how-to-draw Pigeon, and the Knuffle Bunny drawing activities. SEUSSVILLE Last, but definitely not least, Seussville is like a Dr. Seuss paradise online. If your kids love The Cat in the Hat, the Sneetches, and Sam-I-Am, they'll have fun exploring all the activities on this site. You can even create your own Who! _My kids' picks:_ Lorax Quest in Games & Activities and checking out the character "conveyer belt." HAPPY SURFING AND CREATING!
What better gift for dad than something homemade from the heart. Kids will love to craft up a silly snake tie, a monster bookmark, or even some family fridge magnets! HERE ARE 9 FABULOUS FATHER'S DAY CRAFTS TO MAKE THIS WEEKEND, JUST IN TIME FOR SUNDAY! * Make a Snake Tie * Sock Puppet Golf Covers * Father's Day Coloring Pages * Stitched Tie Greeting Card * Father's Day DIY Spinner Card * Fridge Magnet for Dad * Crafty Monster Bookmark * Silly Storybooks for Father's Day * Magazine Collage of Dad's Favorites
We're fairly new to our neighborhood, we just moved to a new house this year, and we're still getting to know a lot of our neighbors. In the past, I've found a great way to make connections in a new area is to host a party. So I partnered up with Lowes to create a perfect backyard setting ready for summer entertaining. HERE ARE SOME OF MY FAVORITE PARTY AND ENTERTAINING IDEAS FOR HOSTING A BACKYARD PARTY. 1. DECOR * String holiday lights around trees or from your home to your fence for a starry night sky feel, or set up these mason jar lanterns around the yard. * Festive table settings with DIY tablecloths, mason jar flower vases, and tissue paper pom poms. * Flowers - One of the best ways to decorate is with flowers. We've placed a Star Jasmine plant right at the back door to help the whole backyard smell fragrant. And it's a gorgeous plant to boot. We also have colorful perennials to help brighten up the green of it all in the back. 2. FOOD AND DRINKS * How about a little agua fresca to serve for summer, or mint lemonade. Crochet a few watermelon coasters for all the drinks to sit on. * Salads are perfect for parties. Rainbow fruit salad, simple pasta salad, or even grill a few peaches for a fruit salad. * And of course you need to fire up the grill. We love to marinate chicken, roast hot dogs, maybe even grill up some portabello mushrooms with cheese. I'm also wanting to grill pizza dough and have a pizza bar soon. That would make for a perfect party activity! 3. DESSERT * Who doesn't love a good s'more?! Lots of ways to make s'mores these days, with candy bars, chocolate striped cookies, we've even thrown Nutella in the mix. Maybe even go for a s'mores milkshake. * I've also wanted to grill up doughnuts, a suggestion from a magazine I just read. Or even get out our dutch oven and make a cobbler with some of our hot coals. * And be sure to make these desserts for your party: watermelon pie, homemade blackberry ice cream, and ice cream rice crispy treat sandwiches. What backyard party ideas can you share to help set the summer entertaining mood? Thanks to Lowes for sponsoring this post. Visit them on Facebook and Twitter. And be sure to see their super cool how-to videos on Vine.
Rhubarb is one of those vegetables that doesn't get the attention it deserves. Drowned out by other flavors in desserts, such as strawberries and cream cheese, rhubarb rarely gets the opportunity to shine on its own. When I first encountered rhubarb a few years ago, I made a simple jam so I could discover exactly what was buried in its green and red striped stalks. To this day, it is one of my favorite ways to enjoy it—tart, sweet, and unexpected. When most people think of jam, they imagine it spread on toast and rarely elsewhere. I, too, fall into this category. However, after sneaking a bite of this jam hot from the stove, my first thought was how tremendous it would be mixed into Greek yogurt. Drizzled warm over cold vanilla ice cream. Spooned into hollowed cupcakes. Spread over a rich cheesecake. Hidden into hand pies. Or, like me, you may just eat it straight from the jar. Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Jam is delightfully tart. Diced rhubarb is cooked down with a vanilla bean pod to impart the jam with the strongest flavor. Dotted with vanilla bean seeds, the jam invites you in. Though I love the tartness of rhubarb, you may add more sugar to suit your personal tastes. A hint of advice: if the jam isn't as vibrant as you'd like (some rhubarb is more green than others), a single drop of red food coloring can do the trick. RHUBARB VANILLA BEAN JAM Yields 1 to 1 1/2 cups 4 cups (480 grams) rhubarb, diced into 1-inch pieces 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar (or more to taste) Juice of 1/2 lemon 1 vanilla bean, seeds scrapped from the pod In a large saucepan, sprinkle the sugar over the rhubarb pieces. Add the lemon juice and vanilla bean seeds. Throw in the vanilla bean pod while it cooks for extra flavor. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the jam has thickened. If the jame is too tart for your liking, add more sugar a tablespoon at a time until it reaches your desired sweetness. Remove the jam from heat just before it reaches your ideal consistency. Serve warm or chilled, spread over hot toast, spooned over vanilla ice cream, or stirred into Greek yogurt. The jam will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.
With our laundry there is a routine, as with most households. There's usually a constant flow of clothing to wash, dry, and fold. Most weeks, laundry is done out of necessity, empty drawers and no clothes to wear. But I try to catch it before it gets to full. To help with that, I try to encourage my kids to be part of the process, helping make it fun instead of a chore. At our house, with the young age of my children, laundry is something they love to be involved with. Well, at least my girls are, ages 4 and 7. They want to help with every step. I'm trying hard to keep them involved so they will continue to help me as they grow older. My 10 year old son is not as excited as they are, but participates without too much grumbling, doing his part to get the job done. HERE ARE THE STEPS WE GO THROUGH FOR OUR LAUNDRY ROUTINE: 1. COLLECTING - If I can get my kids to place their dirty clothes into their laundry basket, instead of the floor, that's a start! They are on laundry basket duty and are in charge of letting me know when the clothes are at the top. When they see that it's ready, they are in charge of dragging the basket over to the stairs, ready for me to carry down to the laundry room. 2. WASHING - My girls love to put the clothes in the washer. We have a front loading washer and it makes it easier for them to help, reaching the opening and stuffing in the clothes. Once the clothes are in, one of them closes the door and we add the soap. They take turns for each step, the soap being one they tend to fight over doing! One of them twists the knob and pulls it to start. Now comes the fun part. My girls will sit in front of the washer and "watch TV", is what they call it. They pretend they are watching a new show, talking all about what they see. I love it! 3. FOLDING - Putting away our clothes is another routine we've got down to a science. As you probably know, if we don't get it done right away, we go for days wearing clothes right out of the hamper (this happens with our dishwasher too!) We place the clean laundry in the middle of their room and my kids make piles of their clothes. Their PJ's in a pile, all their shirts, socks, pants, etc. into piles on the floor. They can easily grab the pile once it's done and place it into the specific drawer. I've chosen to have all my kid's clothes placed into drawers, to make it easier for them to manage independently. We tried hangers in the closet for a while, but it just doesn't work for us. Drawers are the way to go, at least until they're older. With the above steps complete, we wait a few days and start the process again. Yes, laundry is a necessity, so we try to make it a family affair. If I can help make it manageable for my kids, age appropriate steps, we can all be a part of the process and work together! How does it work at your home? Do your kids find it as fun as mine do? Or are they like my 10 year old, just getting the job done? _Brought to you by Tide HE & Maytag Powerwash, the intelligent laundry choice. Designed to work together for optimum stain removal, Tide HE and Maytag Powerwash offer a powerful clean with less detergent in only one wash. Learn how to get more out of your home's laundry system at HGTV.com_
We don't usually give big gifts for Father's Day, but we do like to celebrate Dad with a day of relaxation and yummy goodies. This year, Dad will get to spin for special treats throughout the day with our homemade FATHER'S DAY SPINNER CARD. My girls are so excited to give this to their Dad in a few days! First, make your spinner outline on card stock or other heavy paper. WE TRACED A BOWL, THEN USED A RULER TO DIVIDE OUR SPINNER INTO 8 WEDGES. Our spinner is around 5″ across. (You can also skip this step and print a BLANK SPINNER & ARROW TEMPLATE from The Homeschool Hutt.) Color the wedges, if you like. My girls chose crayons, but colored pencils or watercolors would work well, too. Brainstorm a variety of treats, activities, and other special things for Dad. Since we're going to let our dad spin this throughout the day, we picked easy things to do anytime. OUR 8 SPINNER CHOICES ARE: A HUG AND A KISS, A COLD DRINK, A SWEET TREAT, NAP TIME!, WATCH TV, SHOULDER RUB, HEAR A JOKE, AND DAD'S CHOICE. After your wedges are colored, write your activities on the spinner. We used a black Sharpie for writing. For little ones, do the writing part for them, or have them draw pictures for each activity. Cut-out and glue your spinner to the front of your card. A piece of colored construction paper folded in half makes a perfect card base for a 5″ spinner. Punch or poke a small hole through the center of the spinner and card. Make an arrow from stiff paper or thin cardboard. Punch a hole in the arrow and attach it to the spinner with a brad (paper fastener). OR, DO LIKE WE DID, AND USE A PAPER CLIP FOR YOUR ARROW. If your arrow is not spinning well, loosen the brad a little, or put a spacer underneath the arrow. We used a small circle of craft foam under our paper clip arrow. Now you're ready to spin! WRITE A SWEET MESSAGE INSIDE AND GET READY TO SPIN AND CELEBRATE DAD THIS FATHER'S DAY!
You have to know I've gotten majorly into crocheting by now. So when I spotted these super cute crocheted whales appliqués from Jenny and Teddy at the Make and Takes Spotlight, I knew I had to give them a go! MORE CROCHET HAPPY LINKS BELOW: * For the love of the granny square * Simple Scarf Crochet * Mastering the basic stitches of crochet _*Submit your project to the M&T Spotlight for a chance to get featured on Make and Takes!_
Are your kids on summer break yet? We want to keep those little brains learning and growing, even during the lazy days of summer. Numbers and food go hand-in-hand perfectly and, with very little extra prep, your kids can be working their brains while they eat. HERE ARE THREE FUN AND SIMPLE WAYS TO PLAY WITH MATH DURING SNACK TIME: 1. SNACK PATTERNS When my girls were preschoolers, they loved snack patterns. I would give them a plate with a couple patterns started - for example, _cheese-cracker-cheese_ or _grape-grape-apple_ - plus more food to continue the patterns themselves. 2. SNACK BAR Practice money counting at your own kitchen snack bar. Set out your regular snack, along with price cards for each item. Give your child a pile of coins to "buy" their snack for the day. For younger kids, you could do all pennies for counting practice. Older kids can count mixed coins to pay for their snack. As your kids get more proficient with counting money, they can even practice making change for each other! 3. SORT & COUNT This is a fun activity to do with a treat, like M&Ms or other assorted color candy, but it's just as interesting with colored Goldfish crackers, fruit snacks, mixed cereals, or trail mix. Any sort of mixed snack will do! Before your child gets to dig in, she sorts her snack into the different varieties and counts totals for each one. You can ask all kinds of questions about the sorted snack, too - things like most, least, and equal numbers. My older girls still enjoy doing this activity, and I ask them even harder questions now, like _What fraction of your M&Ms are blue? _ _Here are a few more fun ideas for playing with numbers and food:_ * ROLL-A-SNACK at Let's Explore * ANIMAL CRACKER MATH at Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas * LET'S GO FISHING (SNACKTIME SUBTRACTION) at Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational * ROLL A RECIPE at Delia Creates Don't forget about cooking! Spending time with your kids in the kitchen is a perfect way to learn about counting, measurements, and fractions with a delicious result.
You guys!! I'm so excited to share my finished granny square blanket with you. It's been such a fun project to complete. I am so happy to partner on this project with Lion Brand Yarn. Me and Vanna go way back ;) It was a perfect match up! I've talked about crocheting granny squares before, but I wanted to dive into changing colors for each layer and stitching squares together to form a blanket. I'm calling this my lapghan, as it's perfect for a lap. But we could also call it a granny patch blanket, as it was fun to bring in a quilting aspect to this blanket as I patched the pieces together. It was my love of quilting mixed with crochet. Crafter heaven!! HERE IS WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS GRANNY SQUARE BLANKET: * yarn (3.5 oz, 170 yd) 4 skeins of cream, 1 skein each of 6 colors: purple, dark blue, green, berry, yellow, aqua * crochet hook I * crochet needle * scissors _** I've shared this before, but watch this video for a great tutorial on a basic granny square:_
For my blanket, I crocheted 24 granny squares with 6 rows in each. 4 colored rows and 2 cream rows. I switched up each of my 24 squares with alternating colors. Not one of the squares is the same. There are a lot of ways to do this, (see my crochet pinterest page for all kinds of fun granny square patterns) but I chose to make each one a little different. They are all coordinating colors, so I think it worked out nicely.
When I was done crocheting each color in a row, I finished off the row by pulling the yarn through tight. Keep reading for how I crocheted it all together!
To add on another color, make a slip knot over your hook and pull it through one of the spaces on your previous row. Chain 3, double crochet 2, chain 1, and then continue around your square. Do this for each color. I found making each of the squares was pretty quick work.
I waited to hide all my tails in until the end. That almost took more time than the actual crocheting. But I put on a movie and got to work! Thread each of the tails with your crochet hook and stitch them back through the yarn to hide. Cut off any extra yarn.
Now comes the fun part, patching it together. Once I had each of my 24 squares complete, I laid them on the floor and started to patch them together. I had my little helper with me. We were checking to make sure the centers and 4th rows of each square were not the same colors next to each other.
I placed a post-it note onto each of the rows to remember which came first, I had a photo of it in case anything got mixed up, and piled them together.
For stitching up each of the squares to form the blanket, there are a few ways you can do this. It all depends on the look you'd like it to have in the end.
* Join as you go method by The Green Dragonfly - making one extra row on one side.
* Flat front seam method by Very Pink - watch the video, the last 5 minutes.
* Single crochet method by According to Matt - for a raised seam look.
* Double crochet method by Carina's Craft Blog - makes an extra border in between each square.
* Hidden whipstitch method by Lion Brand Yarn - makes for a seamless look.
I used the hidden whipstitch seam method. Here's a great graphic photo from Lion Brand.
This was super simple to do. Thread your crochet hook onto your yarn. You'll need the length of yarn as long as your squares. Whipstitch through the back V loop on each crochet stitch, pulling the yarn tight as you go, about every 15-20 stitches. Once your yarn is all the way through the square at the end, pull it tight once again. Tie it off, cut the end, and hide in your tail.
Do this for each square in the row. And again for each row in the blanket.
Once you've hidden all your tails from joining squares, you can be finished there. But I chose to add 2 more rows of double crochets all around the blanket for a border. It helped make it a little bigger and finished off the piece. I could even add on a few more rows later, if I feel like I want a litte more color or thickness to it.
Tada!! I'm done. I love it. And we've been snuggling in it all week! I really hope this helps to inspire you to crochet, making a granny blanket of your own. There are so many fun ways to do this and you'll love the result!
_Thanks again to Lion Brand Yarn for sponsoring this project. Find them on facebook, twitter, and pinterest for yarn project inspiration! _
Father's Day is approaching and I have a fun (and super easy) idea for the kids to make for Dad: Family Magnets! To make this craft, kids simply select a picture of themselves, cut it out and laminate it (or use packing tape, like we did) then surprise Dad on Father's Day. There are endless ways to use these adorable and fun magnets! Let's learn how to make them! TO GET STARTED YOU WILL NEED: * a picture of your face(s) * packing tape (to "laminate" the pictures) * scissors * magnets * hot glue gun and glue sticks * card stock paper (optional for making accessories) Step 1: Cut out pictures of your face (faces) making sure to cut out the face only. You can add accessories like bows and ties if you wish. Step 2: Laminate your faces. We used packing tape to laminate ours. Cut out around the faces again once laminated. Step 3: Next, using your hot glue gun, add a little dab of glue to the back of your face and glue on your magnet. You are finished! Can you believe how easy that was? Dad is going to get a total kick out of these. Make as many as you like! Surprise Dad with your clever gift and be sure to leave him a sweet note! Happy Father's Day to all the awesome dads of the world!