a content='IE=EmulateIE7' http-equiv='X-UA-Compatible'/> Kenna's Felt Forest: October 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chunky Toddler Crayons

Kenna is a scribbling maniac these days! She loves to draw and color and write on anything that holds still. So far, she's decorated my flat screen TV, the mirrors, my wood floors, and the toilet seat. She's truly a budding artist.

Her favorite medium is marker, and I think I've finally figured out why. Markers are thick and easy to grasp. Well, arming a one and a half year old with markers is always a poor idea, so I googled around to see if I could come up with something better for her to color with.

I got inspired by the idea of melting regular crayons down into larger, chunkier crayons. Why not? She has such a hard time gripping those little crayons that she loses interest very quickly, so they're just sitting around taking up space.

First I soaked the crayons in cold water to loosen the paper. It worked like a charm- the paper slid off every crayon with ease (except one really really stubborn one that must have had double glue on it or something... grrr.)

I grabbed my mini-muffin pan and lightly coated with vegetable oil, hoping the crayons wouldn't stick too horribly. (oh, wouldn't those silicone ice cube trays in all different shapes be fun?)

Then Kenna and I sorted the crayons into colors, and broke the crayons into about four pieces each. (You could of course make rainbow crayons or medley crayons, or contrasting color crayons... I'll try those ideas next time!!) Kenna chose which spot to put each color in.

I set the oven for 300 degrees F and let the crayon pieces bake for about 6 minutes until the pieces were completely melted.

Here they are, all gooey and melty in the oven after about 4 minutes:

I took a toothpick to each waxy puddle and gently swirled the colors together. (just to experiment) I then let them set up for about fifteen minutes. I read somewhere that they would set up faster in the freezer, so in they went for about 20 minutes. I checked on them and they were already nice and hard, and pulling away from the sides! They popped right out of the muffin tin- whew! (Hubby would not have been happy...)

This is what they looked like when they came out. I think they look so inspiring! Too bad Kenna is sleeping now.We'll have to wait til she wakes up to start a new masterpiece.
I only did a few colors just in case my recipe needed modifying. (Plus, this was a "hurry and finish before naptime" project.) The next batch is going to be a lot bigger, and I'm going to try some different shapes!
These chunky crayons are super-easy to make and would make great 1st birthday gifts, along with some paper or coloring books. These crayons are great for inspiring the very young to start working on their fine motor skills. Drawing, scribbing and pretend writing are the foundations of future literacy!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Handy Husband 10-10-10

My hubby is always into some interesting project or another. This week, he decided to create a dress form so that he can "drape" and sew clothes for me. Without a pattern. Dress forms are pretty darn expensive, so he found a tutorial online to help him craft one out of duct tape. He told me that the end result would actually end up being the size and shape of my body. How, you ask?

By wrapping me in duct tape. Lots of duct tape.

We started with Hubby wrapping me in cling wrap." So the duct tape wouldn't adhere to my skin," he explained.
I crossed my fingers and kept reminding him to cover carefully.

The clingwrap was bizarre looking and since I was indecent, I didn't allow pictures. Please feel free to use your imagination.

Next, Hubby started with the duct tape. he worked from the top down, using short lengths of duct tape to control the shape, and being sure to really smooth it down before moving on. It did seem to get tighter and tighter as he went- so if you attempt this, be sure to keep it a little looser than you think you should.

Ack... can't breathe!

He totally finished the body, and went all the way up to my neck and around my armpits, so that he had an accurate shape and size to work with. Don't I look cute... I'm a bit woozy from the chemical smell of the duct tape in these pictures!

When he was done, he ran some thin blue tape at my waist, hips and bust as reference marks. Then he cut me out of the suffocating duct tape dress!!

On to Stuffing:
Hubby matched up the blue tape lines and re-taped the duct tape shape back together on the inside.

Using some old pillows we got at Goodwill plus some newspaper, Hubby stuffed the body of the dressform. He used cardboard to seal up the neck and arm holes, and then added more duct tape. About halfway through stuffing, he stuck the pole into the form so it would get wedged in nicely around the stuffing. (He used an old broom handle.) It took a few tries to get the stuffing just right- the dress form started out with a GIANT backside and a very lumpy side! He just kept adjusting and stuffing til it looked right.

Lastly, he stuck the pole into a christmas tree stand and Viola! A perfect dress form to start his career in fashion design.

Isn't my hubby cool? Next week, his first attempt at draping a dress! :)

worm bin DIY

We try our best to recycle and repurpose most of our trash- striving for one bag of trash per week. We have a compost heap in the back for branches and fall leaves. And we have a vermicompost. HAD. Our worms used to reside in a makeshift, ventless Rubbermaid container that we kept in the kitchen. The worst part of this system was that we had to hand-sift the compost out each month, trying to separate the rich compost from our worms and their fragile worm eggs. Separating rotting food and worms by hand= YUCK. But alas, with no money to upgrade, our worms struggled through the winter and sadly died off in their rubbermaid prison.

Well, my husband has had his eye on this awesome "Can-O-Worms" kitchen compost bin for months, but we never seem to have the extra money to spend on it. We actually saw the Can-O-Worms worm bin in action, and it is much tidier than our current system, and the worms seem happy. As they move up, you can easily access the rich compost in the bottom trays. NICE!

Finally ready to attempt vermicomposting again, but STILL not able to afford the Can-O-Worms, I stumbled across this easy DIY online, and Hubby and I decided to give it a try. It basically described a cone-shaped felt bag with an open top and a drawstring bottom. As the worms eat their way up, you can get to the compost from the bottom, via the drawstring. The felt bag hangs from a handmade wood frame, and is very cool. I didn't want to build a frame, though, so we needed another option.

1. I headed over to Ikea and picked up the Antonius shelving rack for ten bucks. I also grabbed a clear plastic tray for the bottom to collect worm tea and store newspapers.

2. I popped over to the craft store and bought a couple yards of black felt, some white rope and a stop cord (a drawstring mechanism doohicky).

3. I used wire cutters to snip the bottom out of the mesh drawer that came with the Ikea Antonius rack. The bag hangs right through the wire drawer. This is cool because if I want to add a top to this bin, I can simply pull the worm bin out to fill it and then push it back in without removing the top.

4. Hubby sewed up a felt bag using the instructions online, creating a drawstring bottom, and some button holes along the open mouth of the bag. I affixed the top of the felt bag around the sides of the shelving rack using some cord, laced through the button holes. I like the idea that this is breathable material, that it's cheap, and that it's thick so we don't have any oozing.

Here's our finished worm bin. We're both so proud of it!!

4. About a week before I went to Ikea, I ordered a pound of worms online. They are soo cute and wriggly!! Can you see them? (be aware- worms can't ship if it's too cold, so plan accordingly.)

Once the worms arrived, we started layering worms, wet shredded newspaper, kitchen scraps, and coffee grinds. We shined a little desk lamp at the top of the pile for about a week to keep the worms underground. We didn't want them wandering off!

Live long and prosper, little worms! I'll keep you updated as to how they fare. (and how well the smell is contained, how well the felt holds up, etc. ) Stay tuned!
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