Do This: Bean Bag Toss

Entertaining a toddler on a stuck-inside-rainy-day can be a challenge. Stack a few of those days in a row and, well, you have to reach a little deeper to find things to do.

Enter the cardboard box.

If you are feeling particularly lazy (or busy) all you really have to do is give the box to the little one. They will figure something out. Cardboard boxes are amazing that way. Magic, almost.

But, if you have a moment and an exacto knife, you can take the old-fashioned cardboard box up a notch to make a simple bean bag toss game. Like so:

Materials

  • Cardboard Box
  • Exacto Knife
  • Marker
  • Yard Stick
  • Bean Bags

Directions

  • Take your cardboard box and lay it on its’ side.

  • Using a yard stick and your marker, draw a line from corner to corner on one side of the cardboard box.

  • Do the same on the opposite side of the box. Make sure the lines start and end in the same corners.

  • Use your exacto knife to cut along the line on both sides of the box. Careful here.

  • Now the box will open, like this:

  • See where I drew the line in this picture? That’s where you’ll cut with your exacto knife again.

  • Now you should have a ramp shaped box.

  • Draw the shape(s) that you want your holes to be for the bean bag toss.

  • Cut them out with your exacto knife again. (LOVE!! the exacto knife!)

  • Pull out your bean bags or pom poms or other small throwing toys and give it a go.

Given that our bean bag toss (“throwing toy” as Ewan calls it) is most definitely face-shaped, I’ve been wanting to decorate it. Maybe on the next rainy day that’s what we’ll do…

Share

Make This: Envelope Back Cushion

Before the babe, we did a little sprucing up of an otherwise unused area of our living room. We wanted to make a floor level playspace that could also be shared by adults. A space where I could sit and nurse (or craft) while Ewan played and Xander did what babes do. A space that could help us to meet the needs of our growing family.

While kids aren’t terribly picky about sitting on the floor, adults tend to need something a bit softer to invite them to come and stay awhile. Enter the large cushion. Within a day of setting up the new space it was obvious that a few cushions were needed. It didn’t take me long to reach into the fabric stash, pick out something appropriate and get sewing. We love the cushions and, if you are so inclined, you can make a few of your own!

Here’s how:

Materials

  • Fabric (I used 1-yard for two 27-inch cushion covers)
  • Pillow
  • Sewing Machine
  • Iron
  • Pins
  • Thread

Directions

  • Cut one square of fabric, 1-inch larger than the pillow you intend to cover. (My pillow was 26-inches, my square was 27-inches.)
  • Cut two rectangles of fabric that will overlap by at least 3-5 inches for the cover back. (My rectangles were 27-inches by 17.5-inches.)
  • Press one edge of one rectangle up 1/4 inch.

  • Press the same edge, again. This time about 3/4 inch.

  • Using the machine, stitch along this pressed edge.
  • Repeat for the second rectangle. If your fabric is directional, make sure to press and hem the opposite side of the rectangle.
  • Now, set-up your cushion cover to be stitched together. First, place your fabric square flat on your floor or table, right-side up.

  • Next, with the right-side down, place one of the rectangles on top of the square. If your fabric is directional, make sure the pattern is facing the same way.

  • Again, with the right-side facing down, place the second rectangle on top of the square and the rectangle. The two rectangles should overlap by at least 3-5 inches.

  • Pin around the edges of the cushion cover to hold the three pieces together.

  • Using a 1/2 inch seam, stitch all the way around the cushion cover.
  • Clip the corners of the cushion cover.

  • Turn the cover inside out, paying special attention to the corners and press.

  • With a 1/2 inch seam, top-stitch all the way around the cushion cover.

  • Insert the pillow and Enjoy!!

Share

Make a Worm Bin

We are apartment dwellers. Urban apartment dwellers doing our very best to live lightly on this earth. Aside from reducing the trash we produce by being cognizant of what we buy, we also try to reduce the amount that hits the bin by composting our food waste.

Composting?

Apartment?

City?

Do these things really go together? Sure they do! If you have a worm bin! While you can buy some fancy systems and set-ups, you really only need a few things to make one of your own.

Materials

  • 2 – 70 quart rubbermaid tubs, one with a lid
  • Power drill with small and large bits
  • Bedding
  • Water
  • Red Wiggler Worms
  • Food Scraps

Directions

  • Buy your two rubbermaid tubs. You’ll only need one of the lids.

  • Using a larger drill bit, drill bunches of holes through the lid of the tub. There needs to be plenty of circulation.

  • With the larger bit, again, drill a line of holes about 1 1/2 inches from the bottom of one of the tubs. This will be the bottom tub and will be used to catch any drainage. The holes will help the drainage vent and evaporate, though you will have to empty this bottom tub from time-to-time.

  • On the second tub, the one without any holes yet, use a small drill bit to cover the bottom of the tub with drainage holes. You’ll want the holes to be big enough to allow moisture to pass without encouraging the worms to escape. I used the smallest bit in our set and made lots of holes.

  • Nest the two tubs. On the bottom is the drainage tub with the line of holes around the bottom, next is the tub with all the holes on the bottom, then the lid with holes goes on top.

  • Fill the tub with bedding. You can use shredded newspaper, egg cartons, paper grocery sacks, dried leaves. Stay away from shiny and glossy papers, worms don’t like those!

  • Moisten the bedding. You don’t want it to be sopping wet, you don’t want it to be dry. Remember, you can always add a little more water later.

  • Add food scraps to one side of the bin. I feed our worms all the food scraps we’ve collected on a weekly basis, alternating sides. This works for us. You’ll find a system that works for your family. Here’s a nice list of things that worms like and don’t like.

  • Bury the food scraps with the bedding and add the worms. You can order red wigglers online. I used worms from our other worm bin. With the amount of composting we do we are switching from a one-bin system to a two-bin system. The worms will expand and reproduce to respond to the amount of food waste you give them. Each week that I do a feed, I am always amazed to find that they really have, in fact, eaten our garbage.

Not only is this a really great way to compost in an apartment-setting; it isn’t stinky, honest. It is also a really fun way to let toddlers explore and investigate. Ewan is fascinated when he comes with to feed the worms and loves to check out the happenings. I’m really looking forward to watching him become even more involved as he grows and looking forward to the many conversations we’ll have about how the whole thing works.

Share

Handmade Valentine

Valentine’s Day cards still got you stumped? In need of a little project to cure the winter doldrums?

I’ve got just the thing!

A little Valentine’s Day project to lift your spirits and the spirits of others!

Materials

  • Watercolor Paper
  • Watercolors (red, orange, yellow, pink)
  • Paint Brushes
  • Scissors
  • Glue Stick
  • 4×6 Index Cards
  • Sewing Machine
  • Red Thread (really, any color will do)
  • Glue
  • Marker or Brush Pen

Directions

  • Paint your watercolor paper using Valentine-ish shades. We used reds, oranges and pinks. Ewan loved this part!!

  • Wait for the paintings to dry, then cut out heart shapes.

  • Arrange the hearts on the blank index cards and use just a dab of glue from the glue stick to hold them in place.

  • Find a helper and using the sewing machine and backstitching at each end, sew through the middle of the hearts to attach them to the card.

  • Trim the thread ends and, on the backside of the card, put a drop of glue at each end to secure the seams.

  • Add a message to your card and you’re good to go!

That’s it. Simple, beautiful, handmade Valentine’s for all the special people in your life. And they’re pretty quick to whip up. We made a dozen, or so, of these in under an hour (less the drying time for the paintings).

Now, all I have to do is remember to actually send them out (unlike the Halloween cards we made).

Share

Papier Mache Snowman

We made these before the holidays to make our home a little more festive, but now that most of the holiday decorations have been put away, this little snowman is staying the course. In it for the long haul. Thought some of you might like a special little winter decoration of your own and given all the short, cold, dark days of winter this might also be the perfect thing to do!

Materials

  • Three Balloons
  • Newspaper Strips
  • Flour and Water
  • White Tempera Paint
  • Serrated Knife
  • Hot Glue
  • Markers
  • Snowman Accessories (scarf, hat, etc)

Directions

  • Inflate the three balloons into graduated sizes, appropriate for a snowman.
  • Mix up a papier mache paste using the flour and water, 1 part flour to 2 parts water.
  • Dip the newspaper strips into the papier mache paste and cover the balloons with them, overlapping is good! Leave the stem of the balloon hanging outside of the papier mache.
  • Let the papier mache dry.
  • Paint the balloons with the white tempera paint.
  • Let the paint dry.
  • Pop the interior balloons and use the serrated knife to cut off a small layer on the bottom of each balloon (where the balloon stem was). This will help the snowman to stand properly and for all the balls to sit on top of one another.
  • Use hot glue to assemble the snowman.
  • Using markers and other accessories, decorate the snowman as you wish!

This is a project that can be easily adapted depending on the skill level of your little one. Ewan at a bit over a year and a half really enjoyed the papier mache and painting. He didn’t participate in the decorating, though he did watch! Now the snowman lives in our entryway and he admires it each time we pass, remembering its’ humble beginnings by pointing out that it was made with a “balloon.”

Share