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Hippo Who Loves Delicious Letters!

By January 30, 2018 Crafty Us!
Jessica Hippo looks like she'd like a word or two.

I love hungry hippos, and who can help but love them  when my bug is learning some new words and letters with them! 

It began with a Hippo and a corn dog box

I realize some days I am very much a zombie. My little T-Rex has decided sleep is for the birds. I deserve to not sleep, but sit up, cuddle him, and re-assure him.I remind him he is indeed my favorite three year old on the planet. I am tired. It is in these moments, genius hits! Mine happened while making yummy corn dogs for my goober. He ran in to the kitchen and I chased him with the empty corn dog box.

Its those weird moments when you have an epiphany. I was giddy, I examined that box like I was looking for the cure for  polio. I moved the lid slowly and gauged where I was going to tape for securing, and started planning it out right away. My dear hippo was coming into view.

I absconded with my hubby’s shipping tape and took to the box. I taped both the inside and the outside of the corners for a bit more durability. She was going to be chomping a bit. After I secured everything, I meandered out to the garage and found my trusty paint box, my can of chalkboard paint, and plopped down the framework. after about 3 coats of chalkboard paint, I felt pretty good about the coverage.

The Black Box comes to life.

Now I had a great big black box I could write on, I had to figure out the next step. I  grab the always handy box of yarn and decided to make some cute pom pom eyes. Hippo has to see what he is eating! Fortunately, my hubby has a great tool for this. I tease him, but I love this tool. You can whip up a nice pom pom in no time. I used to make my own like the one located here. After getting them completed, I attached a pair of googly eyes to them. Now he’s looking good…see what I did there.

I believe my hippo is starting to look , well like a hippo. He needed ears. Here, I used some card stock here to give my hippo a sense of hearing. Now he was looking like a hippo. I realized, in my excited dance moment, I also needed teeth. Its a hippo after all and those giant tusks kinda make the picture come together. Card stock came back out and ta da!

Feed that Hippo!

Now here is where you can get super creative. I did a mix of the following ideas. taking some 3×5 cards, I created the alphabet in upper and lower case. Then I could toss them around the floors and have the hunt begin. I also found things around the house that began with a certain letter we would be working on. I made a toy pile and then they had to find which toy began with the letter.

The great thing about the chalkboard paint on this hippo, is you can really work on anything. I chose to start with letters, but numbers and finding their name is another fun idea. You can work up to words, and anything else you put your mind to!


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A Shark Holiday for the month

By August 7, 2017 Crafty Us!, Family Life

July , oh the beauty of July. Its hot, and sunny, and its time once again for the week I wait all year for. Shark Week!!  

I absolutely love the ocean as you may have read in an earlier post. I love everything about it, the smell, the sight, the creatures within. As terrifying as they are portrayed, I adore sharks. They are fascinating to me. They are so sleek and mysterious. That’s why Discovery Channel was kind enough to create a holiday that is a week long just for me. At least that’s what I tell myself about Shark Week.

The problem with Shark Week, is its only a week long. My sister and I decided all of July should be a celebration of the salty deep and we plan a month of crazy that revolves around the ocean and sharks. We decorate the house, line up crafts, and come up with crazy treats.

One of my favorite ideas for us to make this year is the Shark I-spy bottle. My little T-Rex is in a program called Parents as Teachers. It is an amazing program that allows kids to get a leg up and be prepared for kindergarten by focusing on emotional, social, and educational development. A couple weeks ago, we made I-spy bottles with bugs. I decided this would be cool for shark week as well.

When you are making a I-spy bottle, make sure you choose a good bottle. I personally love Gatorade bottles. They are strong, and have a nice wide mouth so you can slide fun items in. Plus they are big enough that little hands are able to grasp them while shaking and moving it to find the treasures within.

When you are filling up an I-spy bottle you need to consider the actual filling material. I prefer to use rice. I shifts easy and the objects move easily through it. It can be done with beans, lentils, popcorn kernels, its really up to you. I used rice, and in this case, I am dying the rice blue with food coloring. To do this, decide what it is that you want to put in the bottles. I am doing a little sea creature variety pack that I bought from the local party store. I am also using little pony beads, gems, and a few other small little fun things to find. Since my items vary from bg to small, I use the rice,

To dye the rice, I put a few cupfuls in a gallon Ziplock bag and then I add a few drops of blue. Zip up the bag ans shake like your life depends on it. The kids love this part. I sing songs and we dance all while shaking the bag. A few favorites of mine, Mack the knife, Jaws theme, Slippery Fish, and well, Twist and shout ( I love the Beatles.) Once you have the shade of blue you desire, open the bag and let it dry for just a bit. You don;t want your octopus having blue smears on his face.

When you are ready to start the bottle, I always put in a good handful of rice for the base. Then layer a variety of things, add a few beads and a shark, then rice, a gem and a diver, then rice, etc. Do not fill the bottle the entire way, You want room to move and shake and see what the little one can bring to the surface, I’d leave half the bottle to at least 2 inches from the top. T-Rex likes half the bottle because he has success shaking and seeing things come to he surface much faster.

I love this activity, it helps shark week carry on from just our official last week in July. If you want to catch the fever, you can head over to Discovery Channel and check out a preview for shark week, and the other cool sneak peeks. If it doesn’t get you excited for my favorite shark holiday, I don’t know what will!



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A Sign Everywhere.

By July 24, 2017 Crafty Us!, Family Life
My light switch sign

As a former teacher, literacy is super important to me. That’s why my house is covered in signs labeling everything.

It sometimes looks like you’ve walked into a classroom. Who labels their door with a sign that says door unless they are right? I do! I have a bunch of label all over my house. At first, my poor hubby was less than thrilled over the labels. Our home began to look lovely to me, lavender cards appearing all over. When people would ask me why they were out, I stated simply my poor hubby had no idea what things were in the house.

Honestly, the signs are for the T-Rex ( and when the hubby gets lost in the house.) When children are young they learn through so many senses. They shove everything in their mouth to see the texture, temperature, shape, etc. To show them that you are the person named mommy or daddy, you point to yourself. Its a visual cue. Hence, where the signs come in. If I wanted little T to see that I was talking about the door, not only did I point to the door, but the word. and I would say it several times. Repetition is the key!

So, now my house is getting covered slowly by more and more signs. Every time I think, ” Oh! He should know what that looks like!”, a new label goes up. Each door, appliance and piece of furniture almost, has its proper sign. Its so easy to do. Run to the dollar and grab some sharpies, and a package of index cards. You can pick up so double sided tape, or use like I do the painters tape and after you write up your sign stick on there!!

In case you were                     unaware…Stairs. —>

Now, it is not just awesome to have the signs up and available for seeing when having normal conversations, but we play games with ours, too. I sit in the middle of the floor and say, ” Can you find me the word for wall?” then he runs around trying to figure out the word for wall. Now he realizes that the words are on purple cards. Hence he is going to find one of those, but he then remembers I said wall, so he looks for signs there. It is a fun way to engage him and also make him learn! I love listening to him giggle and say, ” I found it mommy, I found wall.” It’s just all around fun to do, and just so simple to help them increase their learning and understanding of the world around them!

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A Little birdie for Spring.

By May 4, 2017 Crafty Us!

I love being crafty. I think sometimes I look for reasons to have to go to the craft store. I have stashes of yarn, crayons, paint, glue, fabric, pens. You name it, I probably have it. I even went out and bought a heat gun and I do not emboss, I did make some amazing paintings with it though.

When it comes to my little Rex I do all I can to keep him rounded out and part of that is doing hands on crafts together. Spring is trying to peek its sleepy little head up and the birds are making their way into the yard and I thought , ” Oh its time to do some spring crafts!” Enter my sweet little birdie.

I love things where kids can get creative, and I love animals so this just made sense. I gathered all my things together and then realized, my toddler T-Rex was not going to be able to make the pom pom, but it was a small price to pay, because he could do the rest. Hence I set about making pom poms! We have a fabulous little gadget that makes them for you ( found here Hobby Lobby Pom Pom Makers), but if you wanted to go truly old school, you could use two pieces of cardboard and get the same effect.

I love them and they are pretty easy to use. Once I was wrapped. I hooked them together and snipped around the middle. Then, I put my yarn strand I use to tie the pom pom together, through the middle and tied it as tight as I could without breaking the yarn. I have a thing about pom poms coming apart on me, so I get a little obsessive at times. But I make dang good pom poms!

Now I gathered together my other implements of creation and sat down with Mr. T and showed him my bird. I told him about birds, and how in spring they come back to our area and have baby birds, and went over all the parts of a bird and where they go. His cousins were there, and it was a fun fest of naming beaks, eyes, wings, and then all of us yelling, ” I did it! I win!” We are, apparently, a very excitable bunch. I dispensed all the bits and pieces out to the kiddos, and then asked questions and pointed to my bird to help them get body placement right… close to right.

I ended up with 3 of the cutest birds who may or may not be able to make it in the wild! They had so much fun and loved to look at their baby birds! I mean… check these guys out. How could you not just love them! Heads up, mine is the one that is multi-colored.

I couldn’t be more pleased with our new hatch-lings. I hope you give it a try! Here are the supplies and step by steps for you!


  • yarn
  • pom pom maker ( or your cardboard made one!)
  • googly eyes
  • pipe cleaners
  • glue
  • foam sheets
  1. Pick out your favorite bird colored yarn, let them get creative! Then begin to wind the pom pom maker.
  2. Once you have made your pom pom, trim up any wayward strands and decide on the best side for your little birdie face.
  3. Using the googly eyes, dip them in the glue to coat the back and place them where you think it will be best for your little birdie to see the world!
  4. taking your foam sheet, cut a triangle from it and place the long edge in the glue. Then nestle the beak below the eyes.
  5. Now the fun part. Take the pipe cleaners and fold them in half. I put my finger tip in the loop at the bottom and give it a couple good twists. then I angle the stem to make a foot/leg like this

6. Take another pipe cleaner and shape your wings. You can shape them however you like, we went with the three loops because, well we did. Who truly knows why!

7. Dip the stems into the glue and then push them into the yarn and snuggle the yarn around the stems.

We left our birdies on the counter to dry for a little over an hour before I let them handle the birds. Then, we had fun finding places that they would nest in the house. Mine took up residency in a fern, well just for a bit. Now he sits on my desk with my son’s and they watch me.

Have fun and enjoy the delight these little guys will bring to your little guys!

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Feel a little lift.

By May 2, 2017 Crafty Us!, Family Life

There are days where we all need a little lift. We need something to just make us grin if even for just a bit. When you have kids, if that lift also helps them to develop their gross motor skills, and some social skills, it makes it that much better.

My son is super fortunate to be part of a program called Parents as Teachers. We get to meet with a specialist once every two weeks and we do activities and learning activities that promote growth, exploration, and developing. I love it. He loves it. He always looks forward to the visit and whatever fun new thing we will be making and doing. Mostly because mom then keeps that activity going for a very long.

On of our long standing favorites is the balloons from the door way activity. I think it has a much more fanciful name, something witty and cute. I call like like I see it, and right now I see three balloons hanging from my door ways. It is a great activity because it truly does make them work on their gross motor skills. A big part of the activity is being able to navigate a hand eye coordination. Being able to bounce the balloon off one hand or paddle, and hit it consistently is a big deal, and we have lots of cheering and ” I did it!” happening when we are playing.

Socially we all practice taking turns or helping each other without pushing shoving, being ornery to each other in general. They have to say please, thank you, excuse me. It is adorable to no end to hear these teeny little guys use such sweet manners. It also helps them to learn to be supportive. One of my older kiddos looked at the little ones and while patting him on the back said , ” It’s ok, you can do it.” and cheered him on to try again. Empathy! They are learning empathy!!

You only need 3 things to do it to. If you have kids I am almost positive you have these in the house or are super close to having them there. And if you want to get super fancy, you need just 2 more.

  • Yarn- for hanging your lovely balloons
  • Tape- they gotta stick up there somehow right! I use both painters tape and duct tape depending on where you are hanging them and how active your kiddo is with the balloons.
  • BALLOONS!! yes we get that excited over balloons at my house.

Now if you want to get super fancy you grab a paper plate and a paint stick. You tape the two of those together and you have a paddle to help your little one learn hand eye coordination to hit the balloon. Having the balloon in the doorway also helps your house not be beaten into oblivion with a homemade paddle as well. Its contained fun! Once they get really good at bouncing the balloon in place, then you can feel brave and remove the yarn and have a whole new adventure.

It is amazing how the kids love this activity. I leave the balloons up for a while and they will naturally go and start creating their own games, and having to take turns. I have different colors of balloons so we can work on the names of the colors as well. I love how versatile this is in teaching the little ones so many different things. I also love that when the kids are not paying attention, every adult in my house plays with them too. Especially since one hangs in the bathroom doorway. The exit from the restroom has never been more entertaining.

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Foam Color Painting

By April 21, 2017 Crafty Us!

I love color. The brighter it is the better. I love animal print too, but that’s another day’s adventure. Today however, it was bright color, and something that smells good while you are doing it. I painted a mug with shaving cream! Insert squealing and happy dance here. I was so excited. I love marbling papers with shaving cream and food coloring, but I wanted more. I’m craft greedy. I needed to reach up and grab hold of the next ledge of shaving. With a wicked grin and a can of shaving cream I searched for and found my acrylic paints and a soup mug.


I assembled my finds on the counter and then realized, I needed a container that would hold the shaving cream and allow me to dip in a soup mug without overflowing and allowing my floor and counter to become a victim to a drive by painting. When feeling creative, one reaches out for creative things, I used an empty ice cream container. It was perfect!! I love the fact that its square, that makes it easier to work with somehow, I felt like I could manuver better anyway. Find your container that allows you to move the piece and not feel like you are constantly having to be super careful .

Once I had my amazing work station all ready, I loaded it up with the shaving cream. Yes I did sing the shaving cream song. How do you not when you are using shaving cream. If you have no idea what the shaving cream song is look up on YouTube the Dr. Demento Shaving cream song. You’re welcome for getting that stuck in your head.

After my fluffy pit was the perfect depth for dunking ( about 1/2 inch to 1″ deep) , I picked out my colors. I chose the colors from our wedding, I was being all mushy that day since my darling hubby was home. I used drops, I didn’t just squirt it in. I placed my dots around in there in a semi-random, semi-organized manner. Then I took my tooth pick and I began the same steps to marble paper, the swirls and twirls were fun to do.

If you have ever watched finger printing being done, that’s the method I used, I started on one side and gingerly rolled it to the other. I won’t lie when I picked it up it was a fluffy colorful mess! I let it set out over night and in the morning I knew I had to set it somehow. I got out the Google and did what any person does now a days and I looked it up. Over on they had an article on how to set acrylic paint on ceramic. I reasoned, I used acrylic paint so it made sense to use this method.

I turned my oven on to 375 degrees. I placed my mug upside down on a cookie sheet. I then slid that bad boy in the oven. Now if I recall they said it should bake for like 20 minutes or so. Lesson learned by me and passed on to you, shaving cream in the mix makes that time a lot less. I think we went 13 minutes and the house was filling with a soft haze. After shutting off the oven and opening a few windows, I danced like a toddler at the oven. The shaving cream had , hmm melted I guess and the bright vivid colors and swirls had molded to the mug, I left the oven door a crack and let the oven and the mug slowly cool down.

When my mug was all cool, I looked it over for any spots that may need attention. I found a couple spots where there had been no color, so there was a slight oil left behind. I gentle wiped it away and then set about sealing my mug. Now here I will tell you, there is no food safe sealer. You cannot seal any area where you are going to have contact with it like eating and drinking from it. Again, my hard lesson learned ( my soup mug is now a lovely planter.) I used Mod Podge. After applying 3 coats, my beautiful masterpiece was complete. It now holds my lovely little carnation and I can’t help but grin every time I look at it. Now I have to make one for me to actually use!!


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Trolling for flowers

By April 13, 2017 Crafty Us!

When it came out, my son and I fell in love with the Dreamworks movie Trolls. We watch it almost every day , if we aren’t watching it, the soundtrack is definitely playing in the car and sometimes in the house. The characters make us happy. When Branch gets his happy back , my son shrieks with joy and says, ” Mommy! His color came back!”

So…needless to say it was only a matter of time before I decided to come up with something that we could create that would incorporate the beloved Trolls characters into something we would love to use and enjoy. Enter troll pots. Not only do I have a deep passion for those crazy Trolls and their catchy tunes, but I love plants and having things grow. So naturally I tried to figure out a way to make our planters awesome and purposeful.

Now trolls are small so I went with 1 inch pots. I made a Poppy, Branch, and a Biggie.They are my top three from the movie. I tried to decide if I wanted to plant seeds or put little plants in them so I went with both. Poppy and Branch were planted and Biggie got a seed to see how he does.

The whole thing from start to finish was a blast. My son kept asking to sing the songs, and then saying ” Mommy, look at me!” as he planted his flower. It melted my heart. I did manage a few pictures to show some of the steps, but honestly I got lost in a memory. However, I will tell you all you’ll need and show you what we did! I hope you enjoy it like we did.

Troll Pots!

                     Bright and cheery Colors

Things you will need.

  • Acrylic Paint in your choice of colors.
  • smock to cover your little one!
  • newspaper /tablecloth to protect your space.
  • 1 inch pots ( feel free to make it bigger though!)
  • paint brushes
  • googly eyes
  • foam
  • glue
  • sharpie fine point
  • sealer
  • dirt
  • your choice of plant

First thing you will want to do is cover your area and get smocks on. Painting is a blast, and it sometimes gets everywhere!

After you have your area secured and protected, have your little one paint the troll the color they want. I applied 3 coats to my pots. They are Terra cotta so they are very thirsty and 3 coats seemed to make my color pop like I wanted.

With that many coats you will want to let it dry for about 5-10 minutes, you will be able to tell when it is no longer wet by running your finger over the paint lightly. I then sealed my pots so that when they were watered the paint would hold up longer. For this I used Mod Podge acrylic spray sealer. I applied 3 coats, and you have to wait 15 minutes between coats. Here is where you have the kids go run around and play or take a nap. I have a 2 year old, so we had nap time while I sealed the pots.

Once the pots were dry and we were up from our nap, the fun continued. We glued on our eyes and cut out our pieces for the nose from the foam. Now we did not use a template, we just made shapes close to our characters noses we picked. However if you don’t want to even attempt to cut a nose out, tiny pom poms would work great here, too! we had cut out ears to put on our trolls, but it was decided that it was too hard to get them glued on.

               coming together quite nicely.

While we let our glue dry ( if you have an impatient kiddo you can always hot glue.) we decided what we were going to put in the pots. I decided on a fun little spikey succulent plant in mine and he wanted a trailing stone crop in his. it looked like long hair and he was very pleased with himself. In the last pot we planted a Safflower seed and are going to see what becomes of it.

Once the glue was dry enough to not shift the eyes about , we filled our pots with dirt and planted our plants. We put a little water in and set them in a sunny window. I love looking up and seeing the smiling faces we created. I can’t wait to see how they look as the plants get bigger and make their hair look crazy!

Did you try to make troll pots? Did you make some other character completely! I would love to see your creations in the comments!

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