Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fun & Easy Crafts From the Pasta Dinner

In order to help entertain the preschoolers at last Friday's preschool Pasta Dinner, we had a few craft tables set up with some easy crafts for the kids.  (Of course, I was unable to take pictures, because my little preschooler took my camera off the counter and hid it in her toy box!  Did not discover that until Sunday...  Have to watch that one!)

Aside from covering the tables in white butcher paper and putting out bowls of crayons for the kids to use to their heart's content, I made the suggestion to our "craft person" that we let the kids make their own jack-o-lantern faces since the dinner was so close to Halloween.  My first thought had been to use felt, but then I decided that construction paper would be easier and less expensive -- you can do it either way!  Tracy, who took care of prepping the crafts for us, used a stencil and cut pumpkins out of construction paper (she made 1 pumpkin out of each piece of paper).  Then she took black construction paper and cut different shapes out -- triangles, circles, etc.  She put the different papers out on the table, with glue, and the kids were able to pick out the shapes they wanted and glue them onto the pumpkin to make fun jack-o-lanterns!

The other craft that we did -- because I am admittedly a theme junkie, and this, after all was a pasta dinner -- was pasta necklaces.  We used curling ribbon cut down to size (anything over 12 inches) but you could use yarn, string -- whatever you have handy!  Tracy used a "recipe" that I found on the internet to dye the pasta and the kids really seemed to enjoy making these!  Here is the recipe that we used:

Use 2 cups of pasta, 2 teaspoons of food coloring and 3 teaspoons of alcohol (rubbing). Mix the alcohol with the food coloring and then add the pasta. Put all in a covered bowl or ziploc bag. Shake slowly, making sure to cover the pasta with the liquid. Spread to dry for several hours. 

The colors in the pasta turned out to be very vibrant and kids and even some parents were wandering around with the festive necklaces on -- my older daughter even made a bracelet!  

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Family Events Frenzy!

Bear with me -- I'm still here!  Slightly buried under a pile of raffle tickets, raffle prizes and strings for pasta necklaces!  We're in the home stretch of our preschool Pasta Dinner preparations (say that 3 times, fast!) and we're looking forward to a (hopefully) wonderful family event on Friday night.  But even more than that, we are looking forward to SATURDAY MORNING!  Husband's off this weekend, not too many plans -- maybe getting to sleep past 8:00am?  Wish me luck!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Happy Fall!

We are enjoying a beautiful, sunny fall day here in Upstate NY.  The leaves on our lawn are all piled up and ready for some little girls to jump in them, and we are looking forward to all the fun of Halloween.  And most of all we wish you a Happy Fall from our family to yours!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

School Picture Day!

Yesterday was School Picture Day for my third-grader. In my limited experience, for the mother of a girl, this was a huge event. For the mother of a boy, I would imagine that this was just a Tuesday. In preparation for this big event, my girl took a shower last night so that she would be all shiny clean for her picture, but so that we would not have to suffer the agony of blow-drying her hair at the crack of dawn this morning! Then there was the negotiation of an outfit. There was one shirt that we both agreed on, but she came skipping down the stairs wearing that (kind of a melon-pink paisley pattern) with a turquoise blue patterned skirt… I suggested that we find something else because the skirt did not match the shirt – she informed me that that was not a problem, because we wouldn’t see the skirt in the picture! Can’t argue with that logic… (Although I did!) Regardless of what she wore with the shirt, on second thought I decided that it might look a little “’70’s.” And, as a friend recently pointed out about some cute madras plaid Capri pants that I had on my little one, she will look back at the picture and be as irritated about that as we were of some of the things our parents dressed us in when we were young! (No offense Mom & Dad!) Anyway, we found an outfit that we were both happy with. Then we looked through her jewelry box to see if we could find something to go with her outfit. She pointed out the beautiful silver-beaded bracelet that we bought her for her First Communion. I said, “Oh no, you can’t wear that to school!” and she (again, pointing out the obvious…) said, “Well YOU bought it for me!” Sigh. I pulled out her pretty pink watch and a heart necklace that has her name on it, along with 3 of the Disney princesses. I said, “Can you wear this, or are the princesses no longer cool?” And she said, “Hmm, let me look at it.” After a quick inspection, she deemed it acceptable to wear to school! This morning we were up early, she got dressed, had breakfast and came upstairs so that I could curl her hair (something we’ve only done about 5 times in her life so far!). She wanted a side-pony tail, but then decided that she thought it looked weird, so we agreed upon leaving her hair down. There was some discussion between a headband and a hair clip, and I found an acceptable hair clip and put that in on one side. A quick inspection in the mirror and then she was ready to go! WHEW. As is our tradition, before she walked out the door, we had her stand and pose for a picture on our camera – this is sort of my insurance policy for the school picture. Once the child steps one foot out of the door, there is no telling what condition they will be in by the time their school picture is taken! I remember the days of standing in line in elementary school and the teachers, aides or volunteer parents coming up with the black plastic comb and combing my hair – not always helping, in some cases! And then there is the smile – my girl kept practicing and practicing and each time it got worse! Her grandfather was a photographer and she practiced smiling for him last night when he was leaving our house. He said, “Oh, that is a nice one! I can see your dimple!” But she heard, “When your smile is right, you can FEEL your dimple.” So last night she kept smiling and touching her check to see if her dimple was there… I can’t imagine that the photographer will wait for her to feel her face to make sure that her dimple is there! I’m envisioning a picture of her face and her hand… Oh well, it’s not like I don’t have a million pictures of her, or that I won’t take a million more – but, School Picture Day is a big event!

And then there will be this little munchkin… I wonder how SHE will pose for the camera!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Do-It-Yourself Scarecrow

We have been going a mile a minute these days (hence no posts for 2 weeks)!  Last Sunday, for example, we had two different fall festivals that we attended with two different groups of people between the hours of 11am and 4pm!  Both were fun and both offered totally different activities, which worked out perfectly!  The first festival offered face painting and pony rides, and the second offered pumpkin picking and scarecrow making!  We paid $16 at Brown's Berry Patch to make ours ($14 without a hat), but this is something that could easily be done at home with the kids. 

You will need an old pair of pants, an old shirt, a pair of pantyhose, some straw (if you don't have this, you can usually get it at the farm market for $5 or under) and twine, heavy string or even yarn.  We started by stuffing straw into the pants and then the shirt to make the scarecrow's body.  You can stuff it as tight as you want, although from previous experience we left ours a little loose so that we could bend his legs to make him sit on a chair (ok, lean casually...).  Take the twine (string, yarn) and tie the shirt closed at the "wrists" and tie the pants closed down by the "ankles."  This will keep the straw from coming out.  Do you have an old pair of boots or gloves?  Tuck the bottoms of the pant legs in the boots and the arms into the old gloves to give your scarecrow a little more style!

Set the top and bottom of your scarecrow aside and take the pantyhose and stuff the top part of the pantyhose with straw -- this is his (her) head -- leaving the long legs empty.  Tie a know in the waistband of the pantyhose to keep the straw from coming out of the head.  To put the body together, set the head on top of the shirt collar.  Take one of the empty pantyhose legs and tuck it into the back of the shirt (between the inside of the shirt and the straw) and pull it down as tight as possible and tie it to the back of the pants (belt loop works best!).  Now do the same with the other leg, pulling down in the same manner through the front of the shirt and tie this leg to the front of the pants (again, use a belt loop if your pants have them!).  You may need to tuck some more straw into the "belly" of your scarecrow and tuck his (her) shirt into the pants to complete the body.

Top your scarecrow off with an old hat if you have one, and let the kids take some acrylic paint and paint a face to really give your scarecrow some personality!  This whole process (minus the painting) took us no more than 20 minutes at Brown's -- my 8-year-old and I did a lot of the stuffing, she and I chose the clothes, and we decided to bring it home to paint the face (to save the interior of the van from getting a fresh coat of paint!).  The last time we made one of these my girl was about 4 years old -- it was well before her little sister was born -- and she painted the face all on her own and did a great job!

This is a great way to recycle some old clothes that might otherwise end up in the trash.  The other day I was throwing away an old, ripped pair of my daughter's jeans and I thought, "Hey, we could use these to make our own scarecrow!"  This is really so easy to do and my kids just loved it -- I'm sure yours will too!  It's great to add to the outdoor fall decorations!  (My girl is taking after me with the decorating flair -- she arranged the pumpkins, including the one lying on it's side, and she added some fall leaves as a finishing touch!)