Sep 18

Tomorrow, September 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate day! How will you celebrate? Here are some suggestions:

Fun Food:

Make a Treasure Map Quesadilla

Make a Pirate Ship Sandwich

Make a Skull Sandwich

Little Nummies: Make Pirate Sword Snacks

Little Nummies: Make Tricorn Hat Snacks

Have a Party:

Have a Pirate Birthday Party


Make a Cutout Skully Top

Make a 15 second Pirate Tricorn Hat at Dollar Store Crafts

Make a Pirate Do-Rag at Obsessively Stitching


Make a Paper Bag Pirate by Amanda at Kaboose


Sep 2

diy indiana jones whip

My sons have been introduced to Indiana Jones via the Lego Indiana Jones games (they’re still too young for the movies), and they like to play Indiana Jones (when my 2 year-old was a bit younger, he would say “I’m Andy Dones!”). I made them each a special Indiana Jones cross-shoulder man bag (what would Indy call that? I don’t know), and I found a couple other cool Indiana Jones Crafts around the internet to share with you.

Whip: First up, the DIY Indiana Jones Bullwhip made out of duct tape, by Skip to My Lou. (See at the top of the post) This one is semi-serious (as in, it could hurt people if used improperly), so save it for the bigger boys. If you have little boys (or girls) who want a whip, try this one:

Play Whip: This whip by Pin and Paper is made of flannel fabric, and is softer and more appropriate for pre-schoolers! Instructions for play whip here, found via One Pretty Thing.

Satchel: Oh, satchel is a more manly name for it! I made this Indiana Jones satchel out of a panel of a leather skirt (thrifted). It came together in about 15 minutes. Instructions for how to make an Indiana Jones bag are at my other site, Dollar Store Crafts.

Hat: These felt hats are amazing! They were made by Anjanette at Roots and Wings Co. and she made up the pattern herself! I wish she would share the pattern! Go check out her amazing Lego Indiana Jones Party and comment to beg for instructions!
Jun 15

During any given week, I do at least two or three craft projects. I am posting them here, there, and everywhere, and sometimes it takes a month or more between when I make the project to when I can post about it. There are a few things I value in a craft tutorial: it uses fairly common household items, it isn’t complicated to do (anyone can do it), and is compelling enough that it excites people to actually make the project. Here are some of my recent projects.

Make a Mod Mobile: This paper mobile is based on one of the talented artist Jenn Ski‘s giclee prints, and it has to be my favorite thing in my house right now. Instructions at Dollar Store Crafts.

Make a Peg Family: I wrote a tutorial for making peg dolls of your family members. This is a super-cute gift for kids (ages 3 and up. My 2 year-old put his own peg in his mouth and destroyed the paint job!). Find it at Skip to My Lou.

Make Paper Lanterns: I updated the traditional paper lantern craft project with a double layer of pretty scrapbook paper. I love this because it helped me bust into my stash of scrapbooking paper. Check out my guest post at Salty Pineapple.

I am a regular contributor at AmazingMoms, too, so here are some of my recent projects for them:

Make Bike Streamers
(This pic is my 2 year-old son posed on his brother’s bike. He totally can’t ride it! Ha!)

Patriotic Tablecloth Weights
Painting rocks is fun! They make super cute table cloth weight clips.

Recycled Clothing Crinkly Baby Toy
I used some stained clothing and a baby wipes container to make this crinkly baby toy. It was my infant son’s favorite toy for a long time.

Victorian Flower Cones
I love how these cones turned out! So pretty. I made them from party hats and used leftover broken jewelry and ribbon scraps from my stash.

And, sometimes crafts don’t work out, which is why I founded CraftFail as a place crafters could share their not-so-awesome projects. Check out my first draft of reusable cloth pads. Not pretty. I’m not posting a pic because I want you to be surprised when you check it out.

Jun 10


Are you planning your summer activities with your kids already? Here’s a fun little project they will have fun making: memory matching cards! My kids love to play Memory–my preschooler plays the official version at Grandma’s house, but we don’t have that game at home, so we decided to make our own with readymade stickers and cardstock. Such a quick and easy project!

The stickers that come with many stickers to a sheet, with repeating images are ideal, like the ones sold in the education/teacher aisle at your local dollar store. Or, buy two packages of identical stickers. Any kind of unmarked cardstock will work. The heavier, the better!

Project Materials:

  • Stickers (you must have 2 of each image), $1
  • 1-2 sheets of cardstock or heavy paper, $.50 or less
  • Paper cutter or scissors, on hand

Total cost: $1.50

To Make:

You will need one card per sticker. Determine how many cards you will need.

Cut cards from cardstock. To cut 16 cards from one sheet of paper, cut paper in half from both directions. Cut resulting rectangles in half again in both directions. This is easiest if you have a paper cutter, but you can also do it with scissors.

Stick stickers to cards. Your child can help with this (my two year-old did a pretty good job! The images weren’t perfectly lined up on the card, but he didn’t care, and he had a ball sticking the stickers on the cards).

Note: it is best if stickers are different-looking enough to not be confusing to little ones. In other words, two different shots of the same doggie might be a little too similar! We used these stickers that all have a different baby animal on them!

Play the game!

To Play (ages 3 and up):

  1. Mix cards up.
  2. Lay all cards face-down on table (in a grid pattern).
  3. Youngest player goes first and turns two cards of her choosing over. If cards match, she takes the cards and has another turn. If cards don’t match, move to the next player.
  4. When all cards are matched, the player with the most sets of matching cards wins.

To Play Simplified Version (ages 2 and under):

  1. Limit total number of cards to 8, or four sets (you adjust for your child’s skill and interest level).
  2. Youngest player goes first and turns two cards of his choosing over. If cards match, she takes them, but does not have another turn.
  3. Next player takes a turn.
  4. When a match is made, everyone cheers.
  5. When all cards are matched, start over again.

The Not-Ready-For-Organized-Games version (younger 2s and under):

  1. Turn 4 sets of cards face up.
  2. Take turns looking at each card and trying to find its partner.
  3. Cheer when child finds a match.

Other tips:

  • You can also use these cards to play other games like Go Fish!
  • If you don’t have stickers that match, how about making your own? Print photos of your family (faces are good) on labels and stick onto cards. Avery has free label-making software that makes it super easy to print straight to labels! This would also be a fun handmade gift for a birthday boy or girl.
May 13

Need some crafty ideas for summer fun with your kiddos? Here are a few ideas to keep your kids happy and occupied:

Wallpaper Flowers:
Use old wallpaper sample books to create these cool 2D flower arrangements. Find the tutorial on The Pickled Weasel.

Recycled Tray Pillbox Hat:
Wendy at Craft Jr. is so smart! She recycled a disposable microwave tray into a cool dress-up pillbox hat inspired by one of her grandma’s old hats from the 40s/50s.

DIY Velcro Catchball Game:
This is one of my favorite kid projects in the past year, and it’s by Marie at Make and Takes. You can get all the materials for this catchball game at the dollar store, too, which is awesome.

Sep 10

Craft a Day in September, Day 2 (Sept. 2nd): Quilted Pin the Tail on the Donkey game

My mom asked me to bring a Pin the tail on the donkey game to my sister’s birthday party, so I made this in less than an hour. I love how it turned out – so cute, and I’ll be able to use it for years to come.

Tutorial and more info in my blog entry at Dollar Store Crafts

Jun 19

Here’s a really early Halloween costume idea (for you last-minute parents who like to plan ahead!) or just a fun toddler diversion: use a bulk cereal box as a quick costume.

How to:

  1. Remove or staple flaps inside box. (I removed the bottom flaps and stapled the top ones to add reinforcement for the straps. I stapled smooth-side in so the nubs of the staples couldn’t catch on the kiddo)
  2. Staple straps on. I used a skinny scarf from the dollar store (left over from my son’s birthday party), but you can use fabric, ribbon, etc.
  3. Put it on the kid and go!

If it was really a halloween costume, I would dress the kid in a black shirt and pants (or yellow, or white, etc. to coordinate with cereal box).

You can’t tell by the photo but this is super-adorable and funny in real life.

Alternate Idea:

  1. Use same construction concept, but paint box and add assorted recycled materials to make it into a robot (or any other creature desired). Hmm, that sounds like fun, I might have to do that today.

Jun 17

Here’s a fun idea for a summer activity: Bring your art supplies outside and paint rocks!

This project is versatile. Art can be temporary or permanent,
depending on your desire. If you use washable paint to decorate rocks
(or sticks, planters, bricks, etc.), the art can be washed off of
things that you might not want permanently decorated (for me, most
notably, my children!). You can just allow painted rocks to sit out in
the elements and take their chances, or if you want to preserve the
art, you can seal it with an acrylic clearcoat spray.

For my children, who are under 3, the fun was all in just applying
paintbrush to rocks, but older kids will enjoy painting specific
pictures on rocks, or entirely covering rocks with colorful designs. If
you get a good collection of rocks going, painted rocks are great for
stacking and playing with.
This is even an activity you can join in on. I know it’s simple, but
rock painting is something I can imagine whiling a whole afternoon away

Paint Palettes: I used to-go coffee lids for our palettes (if
you go this route, put a small piece of tape over the hole BEFORE you
pour paint!). Yogurt lids, plastic or paper plates, or even cardboard
squares will also make great palettes.

Paint: Use washable acrylic paint (or if you don’t have
washable, mix a bit of dish soap in with each color of paint to make it
washable!) or if you have older kids, regular acrylic paint is fine,

Choosing Rocks: Really, anything you can find will work. If
you want to keep these rocks around as works of art, it’s a good idea
to wash them with dish soap and water first to remove dirt. Washing
rocks can be its own activity for little kids! Do it the day before, or
in the morning. Be sure to let your kids know if any rocks are off
limits (flagstones, big rock features in your yard, etc.).

If desired, when the paint is dry, seal it with a clear acrylic spray.

If kids want more instruction than “Hey, go paint rocks!” you can give them a jumping off point like:

  • Paint your favorite animal
  • Paint the first letter of your name
  • Paint Daddy’s face on this rock
  • Paint this whole rock pink, and don’t leave any spots uncovered!
  • Paint three rocks blue and two rocks yellow*
  • Any other silly/fun/serious/learning cue you can think of

*You can use this activity as an opportunity for learning (in the
starred example, numbers and colors), but I think there is also value
in just letting your child paint the rocks for fun with no other
agenda. You decide for yourself!

Other Ideas:

  • Use sidewalk chalk to completely cover rocks (instead of paint) – this is really pretty!
  • Paint pieces of wood or terra cotta pots, other assorted stuff from your yard
  • At the beach? Paint driftwood or shells
  • Go on a nature walk first and pick fun stuff up, then come home and paint it
May 21

It rains a lot in Oregon (until July 5th!), and I have to come up with rainy-day activities that expend little people’s energy without making me completely crazy. Here’s another quick and easy activity that will keep them entertained for quite awhile: a recycled grocery bag punching bag. It works more like tether ball than a punching bag, and if you have more than one child, they can play with it together.

Project Materials:

  • Plastic grocery bags, about 10
  • Piece of yarn, twine, etc.
  • A nail or hook for the wall

To Make:

Stuff one grocery bag with all the other bags (alternately, stuff a bag with recycled paper, newspaper, etc.). Knot top of bag, and tie a piece of yarn around it. Hang string on nail or hook on the wall (or in a doorway).

I would love to try this with a fabric cover (an old t-shirt? an old ruined piece of kiddo’s clothing?).

**REMEMBER: because this activity deals with potentially hazardous items, do not leave your child unattended with this toy. Do not leave it hanging after s/he is finished playing with it.**

Alternate Option:

Tie a stuffed animal or another soft toy to a string. Kids will enjoy batting this around as well!

Apr 15

I made this hooded play cape for today’s Make Something Cool Everyday project – cost me a buck! Tutorial at Dollar Store Crafts.

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