Monday, June 26, 2017

Unicorn Party

Kate had a birthday party this weekend.

Her real birthday is in the spring, which we acknowledged with various family get-togethers, but it took us this long to also throw her a friends-celebration. Many reasons, but mainly we wanted to wait till the summer so she could have the sleepover party she'd wanted.

The theme this year was Unicorn(s).

Emily made the welcome signs,

and all the decorations, in unicorn-appropriate colors.

She and Jenna also made the cupcakes (Kate helped with the sprinkles - we used edible pearl glitter). 

I was allowed to make the frosting and test-pipe it on a few of the cupcakes, after which the children banned me from further helping. Party prep sure has changed around here; once upon a time, I actually did most of the work. I'm not complaining, though. 

Also changed is how we actually had themed tableware this year. Shocking, I know. Kate spotted these at Target and asked for them, so I said, "Yes, of course we can have paper products that actually match the theme and each other for a change."

This being a sleepover (translation: we had kid guests in the house for 19 hours straight, instead of the usual 2 hours), we paced ourselves and kept things very, very simple, so there was none of the usual mania that you guys are used to seeing at our parties. 

To begin, Kate had only three guests, which took some negotiating, but it was her first slumber party and we felt that she'd enjoy three good friends much more than eight or ten "fun people" she didn't know as well. 

Also, because unicorns are apparently trending at the moment, choosing the activities, decor and other party elements took far less imaginative energy than usual. Emily and Kate got on Pinterest together and picked crafts and food ideas from the general internet, then executed them indoors in a calm and sane manner, with the resident adults enforcing all the usual kitchen safety (and neatness) rules. 

So rather than a 20-something-post blog series like Emily's Harry Potter party, you get a single paragraph rundown of this Unicorn Party:

After dinner, we made sparkly pearly unicorn lip balm (we used petroleum jelly, Kool Aid powder, sugar to taste and edible pearl glitter). Then we painted our nails and put on face masks. Now, let me state for the record that I personally couldn't see how either of those spa-type activities was particularly Unicorn-y, but it appears that this theme is extremely forgiving and, in Kate's logic universe at least, encompasses all things glittery, sparkly and luxuriating. When everyone was all relaxed and gorgeous, the girls watched a movie and ate popcorn. In other words, we followed all the classic slumber party rules.

Oh, wait - I am happy to report that sometime between Gift Opening and Unicorn Spa, Mother did get to execute one of her own favorite party elements, namely the absurd treasure hunt. You know how I always insist on having this at our parties as an excuse for the party guests to run off some of their crazy energy outdoors, right? And also how I believe that while kids should be as involved in their own party planning as they want, it's a good idea to save something for a surprise on the day itself, so the birthday kid is in on the fun, too.

So this next bit was our secret - Jenna helped with the making and Emily helped with the hiding and the clues.

Here are the kids running around the yard, hunting for their Hidden Secret Packages which we stashed up in the trees for them to find.

Then they all came back indoors and opened their packages together to find these:

four Menagerie unicorns.

I mean, it's a Unicorn party, right?

Each unicorn had a distinct "cutie mark" (if you're familiar with My Little Pony, you'll know what these are) 

so the girls could tell their own unicorn apart from the other three identical ones.

The crazy manes and tails were made with some tri-color unicorn fur I found in JoAnn. 

For privacy reasons, I won't be sharing any photos of the girls' faces when they opened their packages, but there was much screaming and jumping, and squealing of names like Cupcake and Sparkles and Rainbow Baby and Baby Glitter. And later, during the movie, there were brushing of manes and Unicorn Up-dos and other things that were charming and amusing and which boring adults like me would never have even thought of. 

I also never thought an equine Menagerie animal would work as well as this has. I mean, horses are sleek, lanky, long-necked creatures which wasn't exactly like the classic round, squat Menagerie profile. Which is why, in spite of Kate drawing a horse in her original concept sketches, it never made it into the shortlist for the pattern, much to her disappointment.

Well, here you go, Kate. So glad I was wrong. This Unicorn has turned out to be one of my favorites (and Kate's)! 

Friday, June 16, 2017


CARDBOARD today!!!!

I'm so excited I could scream.

One of unfortunate side-effects of my kids growing up is the decline of cardboard festivities around the house. So many of our cardboard creations in days gone by were inspired by my kids at play, or just wanting to build things with them with materials that were cheap (or free), and that could be manipulated by very little hands. Now that they’re older and so much busier with school and sports, we don’t get to play with cardboard nearly as much as we should. So I must find other ways to get my cardboard fix, and other kids to whom to introduce this miracle crafting material. 

This summer, for instance, I'm working on some craft projects with the kids at our church. Not all of these projects involved cardboard originally but I turned them into cardboard projects anyway. Because why not? Duh.

Now, one of these projects is a torch, which the preschoolers are making. 

Sometimes, preschoolers are relegated to crafts of the embellishment-only variety, because they’re younger, or because there is often a large group of them with not enough adult helpers to ensure everyone gets the help they need. This is very practical, by the way, as any one who’s had to facilitate a large group of young’uns in close proximity to colorful and messy craft supplies will attest to. But sometimes, people forget there’s cardboard. It's dreadfully tragic. Because cardboard levels out the playing field. And cardboard with simple electrics kicks up that playing field a notch. Whoo! 

The really interesting (at least to me) thing about today’s craft isn’t that it’s easy, or even that it involves batteries. I mainly want to share it for a very simple, no-glue technique that has many applications beyond this torch. 

First, let’s look at what we’re using to make the torch: a cardboard toilet roll and a battery-operated tea light. We want to somehow affix that tea-light to the top of the tube so it can shine out. 

Note that while the tea-light is small enough to fit within the tube, it’s too small to stay in place without falling all the way through to the bottom. 

We could stuff the tube with crushed paper, or glue a circle of cardboard close to the top to make a shallow chamber within which the tea-light can sit, like we did with Rapunzel’s Tower in this post.

Or we could use geometry and scissors. 

Here’s the geometry - first change the cross-sectional shape from a circle to a triangle by squishing the sides like so. 

The sides of the triangle now fit more snugly around the tea-light, albeit at the expense of newly-created hollow corners.  


We're going to use those hollow corners in the next step.

Now come the aforementioned scissors. On each of the folds that creates a corner of the triangle, cut two slits a little deeper than the size of those hollow corners. Mine were about 1/2” deep and 1/2’ apart. To accommodate the height of the tea-light, I positioned the upper slit about 3/4” below the top edge of the cardboard tube. 

Push inward between the slits to invert the cardboard bit like so. 

Do this on all three sides.   

You’ve created little corner props, like shelf brackets.

Now the tea-light will sit on these little props, in its chamber, without falling down in the tube. It’s still not wedged-tight but this is exactly what we want, because we’re going to add the fake flame now.

We used yellow and orange cellophane paper but tissue paper and even thin sheer fabric like chiffon would work just as well. 

Scrunch up the cellophane around the tea-light (we switched the tea-light on first)  

and wedge it into the chamber.

Finished torch. No glue, no mess. And if an adult were to cut all the slits beforehand, as well as the pieces of cellophane paper, all the kids would need to do is push the little cardboard props inward, wrap the tea-light with the cellophane paper and stuff it into the top of the tube.  

Incidentally, to switch the light on and off, we just lifted the whole tea-light-cellophane bundle out of the chamber and flicked the switch through the cellophane paper (no need to unwrap).

If, however, you enjoy the higher risk levels associated with small children and glue, you could wrap the outside of the roll with decorative paper as an additional step. 

I found some wood-grain paper for this. 

Voila - wooden torch that actually works.

Can also be diversified to lighthouses, fake candles, night lights, castle turrets . . . and the push-in cardboard prop technique has even more applications wherever you need a quick shelf support!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Owie Doll Kits in Shop

Hello, friends!

Thank you for buying my Lunch Buckets! They've been flying off the shelves, but there are still three left, so if you want one, do stop in and check them out

There are a couple of Owie Doll Kits in the shop, too, which I forgot to mention in the earlier Lunch Bucket shop post. 

If you're not familiar with my Owie Dolls and would like to find out more, here and here are a couple of posts about them.

In response to some requests to make the kits available again, since the company that originally produced them for me a couple of years ago is no longer offering kits for retail sale, I put together a few of my own. It's a bit more labor-intensive than having someone else pack them for me, obviously, and I'm missing out on the giant bulk discounts because I'm producing them only in small quantities, but it was still fun to shop for, measure and cut everything out for you!

I've omitted the fancy packaging to streamline the cost but otherwise, everything else is as in the original kits - the skin velour, the 100% wool felt, and the various cotton fabrics for the clothes and accessories (I even threw in a couple extra fat quarters for variety). 

For US$45, you'll get enough fabric and other materials to make TWO dolls and all the accessories you see below. 

Please note:

  1. Any photos in this post that contain finished Owie Dolls are from my archives, so the colors of fabrics shown in them may not accurately represent what you'll be getting in the kits that are currently in the shop. Please read the listing description for the actual contents of these kits.
  2. You will need to provide your own sewing thread and needles and polyfill stuffing - these are not included in the kit.
  3. The kit also does not include the Owie Doll sewing pattern, which you can purchase separately here

along with the MedHub sewing pattern to extend the pretend play possibilities.