6 Nov
2014

TP Tube Turkeys

This project was originally published in November 2013.

Looking for a quick craft to help get your home ready for Thanksgiving? Or maybe you’re in the market for an easy project to keep little hands out of the mashed potatoes while you’re waiting for the bird to finish cooking on the big day. If that sounds like you, here’s a fun and festive Thanksgiving project for kids big and small.

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(This might be my favorite craft ever.)

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What you’ll need:

–toilet paper tubes
–scissors
–school glue
–craft brush (a foam one works well)
–glitter
–googly eyes

This is a three-step project:

1. Cut your TP tube into a turkey shape.

2. Cover the feathers with glitter.

3. Glue on some googly eyes.

What? You expected more from me, the world’s wordiest blogger?

Okay, fine. Here are some specific notes from your favorite been-there-done-that-made-all-the-mistakes host.

For those of us not great at spatial reasoning *raises hand*, I drew on this tube to show what cuts to make in the front (left) and back (right).

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Start by cutting the spike for the head and neck, then cut a spike on each side for the wings. (You’ll have two triangular throw-away pieces after this step.) Then all you need to do is make slits for the feathers, which will fan out nicely with minimal coaxing.

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Ta da! Two-minute turkey.

Now, you’re going to have plenty of freedom to make your birds look unique once you start decorating, but to help each one really develop his or her own personality, start by being creative with your cuts. Give one of them a big head and a thick neck, give one of them lots of super-skinny feathers. Varying where you fold down the head and wings can also change the look of your little cardboard friend.

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And now it’s time to decorate! I used glitter left over from my polka-dot Easter eggs, and the technique I used there is also how I got the polka dots on this fine fellow.

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To create the different patterns and colors on the feathers, just apply your glue strategically, one color at a time and then glue on some eyes. (You might recognize these as the ones we used for our pet rocks and our TP tube Halloween creatures.)

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I went craaaazy with the glitter, but you can decorate these dudes whatever you have on hand and/or have the patience for. If you’re going over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house and you know she’d faint if all the cousins played with glitter in her dining room, set them up with markers or crayons instead. Don’t stress about this AT ALL. ‘Tis the season for taking deep, cleansing breaths. And for eating pie. Lots of pie.

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6 Nov
2014

DIY Snowglobe Magnets

Here’s a re-run from last year because people have been asking about it lately. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll respond when I can.

This is the perfect winter craft project for those of you who thought you had run out of time for winter craft projects. Let’s make these adorable snowglobe magnets in the time it takes you to steep a cup of peppermint tea.

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What you’ll need:

–magnetic tins with clear lids
–fake snow
–personal photos or pictures from magazines
–pencil
–scissors
–kitchen sponge (a new one)
–tape

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Step 1. Buy these GRUNDTAL stainless steel magnetic spice tins from Ikea. You can find other tins online for cheaper, but these are nice and big and sturdy and they won’t rust and the lids will stay on and the magnets are already on there and you won’t be sorry, I promise. They’re just under three bucks a pop and totally worth it. (Commenters have also reported seeing these at Dollar Tree as of November 2014.)

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Step 2. Find an image that will look cute in a fridge-front snowglobe. I didn’t have any personal prints on hand, so I went through my stack of holiday catalogs and found some great stuff. In the image at the top of this post, the heart is a rug, the Merry sign is kids’ room decor, and the baby is from a sample holiday card. You could also print things from the internet if your printer isn’t an old fogey printer like mine is.

Use the clear lid of your container to trace an outline around your image, but then cut about 1/4 inch inside that line so the picture fits in the bottom of the tin. You’ll want it to fit as tightly as possible, with no gaps at the edges, so just cut a little at a time until you have the right size.

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Step 3. I found that the finished product looked better if the image wasn’t flush with the bottom of the tin, so to make the picture pop forward, a cut a little square of kitchen sponge, taped it to the inside of the tin, and then taped my image on top of it. If you’re going extra lo-fi, you could also just crumple some catalog scraps and tape the image to the pile.

Step 4. Add your fake snow! It’s not quite as bad as glitter, but it does have a way of getting everywhere, so be ye warned.

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And that’s it! Pretty cute, huh?

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They’re an easy way to add a bit of winter decor without adding a bunch of clutter, and kids love them. You know who else loves them with a picture of your kids inside? Grandmas. Tie a pretty ribbon around it or rim the side with colorful washi tape and you have a sweet little seasonal gift.

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If you like this, you might also like my other winter/holiday/Christmas crafts. Click for the list!

10 Sep
2014
Posted in: Uncategorized
By    23 Comments

Hive Mind

Here’s how my husband filled out a portion of Wombat’s getting-to-know-you survey for kindergarten.

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He was mostly just being silly, and we all enjoyed a modest chuckle over it before moving on to more traditional concerns about starting a new school (will he get bullied? will he be able to tie his shoes? will he get suspended on sexual harassment charges for kissing the wrong girl? will he have so much fun he never wants to come home?), and then whaddya know, this is how he’s spent the last two days:

The kindergarteners get four (FOUR) recesses and also spend time outside for lunch, science, and gardening…except when they don’t because they’re pants-shittingly terrified of bees (figuratively! figuratively!) and end up spending that outside time inside with the awesome front office lady and a pile of books (score) or inside with the awesome kindergarten teacher and all the classroom toys (DUDE), which of course begs the question Why not be figuratively pants-shittingly afraid of bees? Being afraid of bees is great! Yesterday Wombat told me he had designs on the principal, who made the fatal mistake of telling the kids they were welcome to have lunch in her office once in a while, so here we are on the eleventh day of school and my kid’s trying to get himself sent to the principal’s office. *blink blink* Come on, now.

It’s been well documented that I’m no fan of shenanigans, and so my first reaction was to tell my dear, sweet, theatrical child simply and straight-forwardly to “Stop. Stop being afraid of bees.” Then, because I’m a tender, loving mother-goddess, I followed this firm directive with a list of facts and figures about pertinent topics, such as the naturally non-aggressive behavior of bees, the likelihood of being stung, and the likelihood of dying from a bee sting. (Facts: It could take as many as 500 bee stings to kill a non-allergic kid his size, and the average person is almost 300 times more likely to get murdered than die of bee stings, and that’s without including the non-insignificant factor of living in East Oakland. You’re way, way, way more likely to die from the flu or a lightning strike or a car accident. Welp! Sweet dreams, son!)

(I didn’t actually tell him all that.)

Even though I still suspect shenanigans are playing into this at least a little, he does seem legitimately terrified (his teacher told me he tried to climb into her shirt to get away from them), and I am definitely sympathetic to the situation, I really am. Our camping trip six weeks ago will go down in history as the one that went in with a wail and out with a whimper–the latter because Wombat insisted on reading while we drove on winding mountain roads and then got carsick and barfed up his PB&J into a plastic bag, poor muffin–because fifteen minutes after we pulled up to the campsite, the kids stuck a stick into a hole in the ground (sticks are for sticking; it’s right there in the name!) and were summarily enveloped in a swarm of offended wasps, who stung each of them once and then Wombat, the wielder of the stick, two more times for good measure.

I’ve never heard such screaming, and thank goodness that was not the time we found out any of the kids was allergic. (Science note: Bee stings are acidic, so use bases like baking soda to neutralize them. Wasp stings are alkaline, so use vinegar or lemon juice. We were in the vast pantry-less wilderness and ended up using ice, which worked well enough.)

I gave Wombat a nature journal earlier that day, intended for leaf rubbings and poetic musings on man’s place in the universe, and he basically turned it into an illustrated safety pamphlet. Page 1:

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You’ve got your bees, your bears, your raccoons, your spiders, and your gravity. At least the kid knows a threat when he sees one.

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Today we sent him to school with a peppermint tea bag in his pocket and instructed him to, should the need arise, KILL ALL THE BEES with a pleasant herbal beverage. For real, though, mint is supposed to repel bees, I guess, but I mostly just hope that giving him something that makes him feel protected will be as useful as actually protecting him. I don’t want him to spend his long career at this school as the kid encased in the Pigpen-esque plume of toxic insect repellant.

Also no:

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You know it’s high fashion because the footwear makes absolutely no sense.

This is where I’d love some help from the hive mind (HAR). Short of directing the lunch ladies to allow my child to take his repast in a bee-free janitorial closet, what should I do? My ask is two-fold (not to be confused with my ass, which is also two-fold):

1. Do you have any tried and true methods for repelling bees? and
2. Do you have any tried and true methods for helping kids deal with fears that are disproportionate to the actual threat but aren’t completely irrational or imaginary and in fact have just enough actual danger involved that you feel compelled to address that risk truthfully while still trying to not totally freak them out? This is a child who believes the curiously water-like “monster spray” I keep under the kitchen sink truly wards off the beasts beneath his bed, so feel free to get creative.

Additionally, please consider helping me collect hard data to make him feel more at ease in a world with bees.

1. How many times in your life have you been stung by a bee?
2. Did you die from it?

I’m hoping for 100 percent on that last one. Don’t let me down.