Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Popsicle Stick Jewelry

Recently, the girls and I made bracelets from popsicle sticks.  I am always on the hunt for craft ideas that are easy and require few materials.  Simple! 
Disclaimer:  I avoid anything that may include glitter.  If you are looking for glittery projects, you will not find them here. I have nothing against the stuff, but simply can't stand seeing everything, and everyone, sparkle weeks after a project's completion.  (This slight glitter-phobia may stem from a poorly designed Halloween costume I encountered years ago.)

I found the idea for popsicle stick bracelets online a long time ago.  However, I don't know who to credit because, well, it was a long time ago.  I love that the project gives each child complete control, and allows them to express themselves. No two bracelets are the same, but they are all lovely.   This craft is also fun for everyone!  I enjoyed decorating a bracelet with my girls, and their eleven-year old friend.  Ours were very pastel and covered in jewels, but I could see a boy having fun with this too!  Some ideas the girls and I have come up with since decorating the bracelets, (and which might appeal to both boys and girls) are:

* Paint a dotted line "road" on the bracelet and decorate with car stickers.
* Make a superhero bracelet.  Paint a vibrant color and decorate with a superhero emblem.  I'm sure the 
   bracelet could have "super-powers", too!
* Design the bracelet to look like a watch.
* Make a bracelet to show support for a favorite sports team.  Paint team colors, use mascot stickers,    
   college initials, etc.
* Make a chalkboard bracelet.  Paint with chalkboard paint.  Tie a small piece of yarn to small piece of 
   chalk and then tie to the bracelet.
* And, of course, lots of jewels and shiny stuff!  Boys and girls love shiny stuff and jewelry!

Tutorial for Popsicle Stick Bracelets
Supplies:  Popsicle sticks (I used large craft sticks)
                glasses/cups (choose a diameter that is a little smaller than size of child's wrist)
                decorations (craft jewels, stickers, ...)
Simmer the popsicle sticks in a pan of water for approximately one hour.  Take a stick out of the water and see if you can bend it easily.  If you can't, continue simmering the sticks until they are pliable and bend easily.  Once this is done, let the sticks sit in the pan of water until the water is warm, not hot.  Take the sticks out of the water, and bend them to fit just inside the top rim of a glass/cup.  I made several bracelets at once, so I used all of our small juice glasses and sippy cups.  You will want to use a glass with a diameter slightly smaller than your child's wrist, because the bracelets will expand a bit when paint is applied.  
Let the bent sticks (bracelets) sit in the glasses overnight, or until completely dry.  Once dry, remove bracelets and decorate!  We used puff-paint and acrylic paint on our bracelets.  The puff-paint made a very nice foundation for the bracelet because of its smooth texture and shiny base.  To speed along the paint-drying process, I used a heat gun, but you could just let them dry on a piece of waxed paper. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Soup Is...

Excerpted from: I'm a Lutheran           
Garrison Keillor

We've got chow mein noodles on tuna hot dish
And Jello with cottage cheese,
And chocolate bars and banana cream pie,
No wonder we're on our knees.
This is the church where we sing Amen
At the end of every song.
The coffee pot is always on
Cause the meetings are three hours long.
The blessed tie that binds our hearts
Is cream of mushroom soup.
We do not walk through the door alone.
We wait and go as a group. 

I think this poem is an appropriate reflection of our recent Meal Swap theme.  Soups and stews.   Comfort and fellowship.  As a group, we decided to skip our usual casseroles and frozen meals in favor of making soup.  The holiday season is a busy time of year, and while preparing a soup does take time, it can be whipped up a little faster than most dishes.  

Sitting down for a warm meal with my family, on a cold evening, is a simple joy.  
Just like soup improves with time, it takes restful moments and extra time to appreciate the finest qualities family has to offer.  The sounds of slurping, sipping, and clinking spoons on old pottery are truly pleasing sounds.