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Monday, October 24, 2011

Foam Haunted House

What to do with a sick toddler a week away from Halloween? Hmmm....
Well I am lucky enough to have some crafty things on hand. :)

Well as you see I am also lucky enough to just ran out of coffee so I had this wonderful little box. I also had a nice stack of foam sticker 5x7 sheets, a few googly eyes, glue & of course scissors. The only extra items I used, not in picture above was 2 black sharpies, 1 thin tip & 1 regular, plus a little paper towel/tissue paper whatever is handy.

Finished Product

Most of you have probably seen those "Foam Haunted House Packs," so there I pull my inspiration, but instead of it costing me $10 or more I'll say it used like $3 in materials? Probably less. The foam-sticker sheets can be found in Dollar Stores, the eyes maybe the only expense. As for the rest I'm sure any DIY Mom has scissors and glue on hand. Sure, the ones in store have pieces that match each easily & perfectly, but where's the fun in that? Hehe.

First we chose what color to do the walls of the house. Next just like any sticker we removed back & stuck to each side of the box. The sides she left a little tiny gap for her grass idea. For longer sides of box horizontal, short sides vertical. Then my turn, with scissors I cut the long sides after the ends of the interior coffee box to a point. We picked our roof pieces (stuffed the inside with paper towel, but that's up to you). Laid the 2 sheets along the sides sticking to the pointed tops meeting in the center top. We cut & added a extra purple point to each of our sides to fill in the shape better.

First steps

One by one we cut out more shapes, pumpkins, ghosts, & eventually a tree. She drew the mouths on each ghost then glues on each little set of eyes. She chose her "family" to be holding hands on the roof. Next she decorated each pumpkin. Yes, there is a square pumpkin. No, it's not a mistake. My daughter's current favorite Halloween movie, "Spookly, the Square Pumpkin". Bat, cat & tree were just cut & apply, but I did see some $1 bin at Target foam stickers of these that I really regretted not buying at this point. It's hard to cut little details into foam, but good luck.

A few more steps

The fun thing about this whole process is asking my daughter what each shape & color is. She did each embellishment & helped "cut the grass". I cut squares, let her make a door, then windows. She was the expert of what should go where and what color it should be. It's easy enough for a sick kid to color, glue & do sticker fun. My only word of advice is remember when doing these projects it's for them not us, parents. Don't stress if it doesn't come out perfect, you are doing it to make them happy and that's all that matters. Sure I would love to add more, make items lined up redo some lines, but looking at this just makes me think of her personality & that makes me happy.



Btw, we have that book. Riley LOVES it!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Nightmare Before Christmas PARTY!

My daughter is in full on Jack & Sally mode, but I know not all parents think this is the most appropriate movie and not all kids have no sense of fear like her, so for my birthday last month I got the great idea to have myself a Nightmare themed party. The only down fall is there are a lot of us, Nightmare Before Christmas fans out there, but there really isn't really a lot of stuff. Now try to factor in party items. :( But here was my solution:

There were some great websites that I picked & choose a few items from (really recommend you to peek at them to):
*Polish the Stars*  - Awesome Zero Idea!!! Plus a few great ideas, especially if party is for a kid.
Hostess Blog - Really cute, gave me great ideas even for it being a Bridal Shower.

First after searching around, I picked colors that I felt would highlight items, so mostly black & white with a little purple thrown in. As I started shopping I tried to stick with "Halloweenish" items that could tie back to the movie and weren't overly Halloween/Horror, hence why most items ended up on the simpler side. I didn't want to buy anything that would take away from the few Nightmare Before Christmas items I did have.

Ebay & became my best friend. Amazon actually had items from the movies original release, I feel in love with the Mayor Party Hats.

Ebay was my savior when it came to the cake. I found Jack & Sally action figures an I worked them into a standard grocery store Halloween cake. I'm not gonna lie, I was a little disappointed with the store's work, but the figures fit in and all is well that ends well, right?

As for everything else, Micheal's & the Dollar Store were a huge help. I was a little disappointed in Spirit Stores, but I did find cute magnets from them.

*TIP*- Sign up for coupons! Micheal's ALWAYS has coupons & they were extremely use full. Even Spirit had a email coupon. So do your homework, look around on websites sign-up, it pays. Also if you allow yourself enough time you can always wait for the stores themselves to have deals. Since my party was in September I had all the intro Halloween deals to wait for.

I ended up doing a lot of the decorations myself, like I mentioned not a huge amount of items out there, but I really wanted it to be more to the movie then Halloween. So I did a lot of google image searching. I found great ones of Jack & Sally on Spiral Hill and some really cute coloring pages.

For silhouettes I ended up pulling up my favorite images and zooming into a much closer size. I didn't want to lose the details. I grabbed my painter's tape, some light white 12x12 paper, and a pencil. I lightly taped my paper to the monitor and began to trace the outline of the image. Doing it lightly just makes it easier to remove without ruining anything, just make sure it isn't going to wiggle around while tracing. Once that was all done, I carefully untaped the paper from my computer monitor, leaving the tape still on the paper to retape, but this time to my big black poster paper. I did each image starting from a corner. This maximized poster use, plus it made it easier to just fold over the corners with the tape. Then on a safe surface I used a exacto knife to follow the outline on the white. All done, peeled CAREFULLY don't wanna rip black. Looked at my silhouette & cleaned up the edges that I felt were a little rough with regular scissors. They just gave the room a little more nightmare feel. (This is fully explained on the Silhouettes page.)

Another project we did was black glitter pumpkins! (See above pics, center of tables & 1 on cake table.) Of course stores started to carry them as soon as we had finished this project, but I felt mine were better...& cheaper. ;) Dollar Store pumpkins were my base. I already had a bottle of Plaid's black paint & I used a Micheal's coupon for the black glitter (a little bottle goes a long way). We have a wonderful shower curtain we use as a painting drop cloth, so I spread that across the living room floor to give us space to make this into a fun family project, since really you can do no wrong on this. We each had a pumpkin a paint brush an a plastic cup with black paint ready. Pretty simple do your best to paint the whole pumpkin black cover any and all surface (don't have to stress so hard about the very bottom, but we still did it). Once all covered, but while the pumpkins were still wet we let our three year old shake some of the black glitter on the top of each. I thought it gave the pumpkins a more interesting look, almost dew like just having glitter on top, but it's a preference thing.

Of course I had to have party favors, I did a little something extra for the kids & a cookie bag for the adults.

As I mentioned above while I searched I came across some great images for a coloring book. I found a few more then this site offered, but these were what gave me the idea: Drago Art. I used a printing program on my computer. For the coloring pages I put 2 images per page & printed. For the cover I used the same image I had used for invites and just changed the words. This image was another found online & I downloaded Burton's Nightmare Font for all my items that needed text to once again tie it all in.when printing cover I switched to a heavier, tan construction paper an made the layout like it was still going to have 2 images, yet I left the left side blank and positioned cover on the right side. Once all was printed, cover on top-facing ceiling, coloring pages images facing down-towards table. Then folded in half. The unprinted side of the construction paper served as the back of the book. I then hole punched in 2 places. Grabbed paper brads. I was going to use string but thinking of the age of the children the string probably would had ripped the paper when the kids forced the book open, so brads were much easier. So the little ones didn't hurt themselves on the pointy back part of the brads, also so they didn't slide around I covered & secured them with tan masking tape, blended right in with the paper. Very easy no cutting needed.

Party City offers little individual boxes of crayons for less then 50 cents so I bought those and of course had to grab some Halloween themed candy to go with. For the kids I just went with what says Halloween fun? Because let's face it kids just like what is fun and can careless if it fits a "theme" to a T. The bags and ribbon themselves were the same as for the cookie packaging. Both from Micheal's the bags were in their baking section and the ribbon I used was actually like a hard black paper strip, was close to the baking bags.

Cookies were just a sugar cookie mix and a cookie icing in the baking isle of a grocery store. I am into cheap, fast and easy. Sally isn't exactly perfect for a round shape, but oh well it made a good touch & Jack was spot on, plus they tasted good. It was a little more of a pain then I planned just because we ended up decorating 50 cookies way ahead of party time so I was really worried that taking short cuts would mean that my cookies would go bad, but they didn't. I let them sit out over night (although the icing instructions said 'sets in 4 hours' glad I did, they needed the extra time for sure). The next morning I packaged each one (a Jack & a Sally for each). Tied tight with paper ribbon and tried my best to get all the air out. Placed all in big ziplock freezer bag, once again tried to get air out. Put them all as flat as possible. Day of the party I took them out about 6 hours ahead of time and added to each bag a little "Thank You" tag I made. Same Burton's Nightmare font used.

Best word of advice: When you have your own party, whether you use any of these ideas or tie them into a Halloween or even a non-traditional Christmas party, just remember to HAVE FUN! :)

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Little Ghost

One of the easiest projects! Well, if your little one isn't a wiggle worm & loves to get dirty.
All you need is: Black paper (Construction / Scrapbook quality. Just think heavy enough for paint.)
White Paint (I prefer PLAID - Apple Barrel brand, cheap & super easy to clean.)
Paper Plate
Paint Brush
Black Sharpie
Optional - White Pencil / Gel Pen

This was a fun activity we did as a family. I wanted my daughter to understand what we were going to do so we had a practice run of her stepping on the black sheets of paper. This was just to avoid her sliding her foot all over the page. Once she seemed to get the stamping feeling down I poured out a little white paint on the paper plate. My husband held our Riley while I tickled, I mean painted a light coat of white paint all over her foot. *TIP- Start light cause it's easier to gauge how much to add for the next round, plus you want the foot details not just one big white blob.* Then she stamped (once) her little foot on to the paper. We did this a few times & coated the foot before every new stamping. I foot step per paper. If you try to stamp again over another foot print you will lose details in the foot an odds are your kid won't be able to line up their foot the exact same way. We made many ghosts and not one was ever the same. Dad took Riley off for a little foot rinse while we waited for the paint to dry. Turned the white feet so the heel was top & toes where bottom. Once dry, we drew with the Sharpie 3 little black circles, eyes, and mouth. I had a white pencil so I labeled name & year, but a gel pen would work just as good. Last step, we cut it down to fit in a card to be sent out to the grandparents along with that year's Halloween pic.

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Friday, October 7, 2011


We all want what is best for our children, we also want to keep those little hands occupied on a less destructive route.  

What I have come to understand is no matter what happens in my daughter's life I will be her first, an possibly her most important teacher, that thought is what pushed me to start this blog. There are some great sites out there to keep our little ones engaged but there are some really fun things I have done with my 3 year old that I think are worth sharing. Like most of us out there I don't have a limitless budget, but I want my child to have a limitless future. The only way I can grant her a future is to start with a solid foundation so this is my attempt to get the most out of not only those "first 5" but her childhood an God willing into her teen years. ;) 

Photo by - Natalya Fiore

Don't get me wrong not all my ideas are the most educational, but I wouldn't be sharing if they weren't fun...and easy. :)

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