Winter Activity for Children

P1010383The sweetest, and arguably the most difficult, time of year occurs between mid- December to early- January. We busy ourselves with holiday preparations, cooking and baking, gift making and gift giving, family gathering and traveling, and not to forget the regular every-day chores of laundry, cleaning and meal preparing.

This is also the time of year when our children are not in school for four-to- six hours per day, five days a week. Very quickly, without a routine, they become anxious, bored, frustrated, and temperamental. Who can blame them? Each one of us would have difficulty if our lives drastically change over night.

Many of these negative feelings can be prevented, and temper-tantrums can be avoided, with a little bit of planning. Here is one activity suggestion that can induce family bonding, and not whining, for a morning or afternoon during the winter school break.

I am warning you now… This Winter Activity for Children post will be picture heavy. 🙂

What you will need:

One large pine cone per child

Peanut Butter

Bird Seed

Cake pan to place seed in

Yarn or other type of string to tie around onecone

What to do:

Go for a walk with your children where you know there are conifer (evergreen) trees. This can be at a park, a playground, a school, near any commercial building or along a country road. Gather more fallen pine cones from the ground under the trees, especially if the cones are closed, than you think you will need. This will give you a better selection to choose from when you begin your project at home.

Take home your pine cones and tie a 12- 18 inch piece of yarn around the widest portion of the pine cone, being sure to leave a “tail” to tie around a tree branch a little later. Next, “frost” the open pine cones with smooth peanut butter (this will be messy, and children will love it!), and then roll or sprinkle the frosted pine cones with your bird seed over a cake pan. Again, this part can–sorry, I mean, will–be messy. The cake pan will help contain the mess of little seeds rolling about the kitchen. Lastly, hang the peanut butter frosted and bird seed sprinkled pine cones outside on a tree branch to give our feathered friends a treat.

Thinking of giving this winter activity as a gift? Here is an adorable FREE poem to give with the pine cone, seed and yarn in a bag: Winter Activity for Children .

Rolling "Frosted" pine cone in bird seed.

Rolling “Frosted” pine cone in bird seed.

Sprinkling extra bird seed onto peanut butter covered pine cones.

Sprinkling extra bird seed onto peanut butter covered pine cones.

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Completed pine cone in need of yarn. Was it difficult to tie yarn around the pine cone after it was coated in bird seed? YES! I suggest working with the yarn earlier in the activity.

A second completed pine cone hanging form the tree.

A second completed pine cone hanging form the tree.

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Completed pine cone hanging in the tree.

  Thanks for stopping by! Please share your thoughts and comments below… I’d love to hear form ya!

Love ya,

Kristen

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Fun with Alcohol & Inks

A few years ago I bought some tiles for our family room coasters but they seemed a little bland and boring. So plain in fact, that despite having a coaster-holder, they kept getting lost. We needed something more colorful. Then I stumbled upon alcohol inks online. I thought, hey, these tiles are non-porous… maybe we can use the inks to jazz them up.

I filed this idea away in my future creative explosions folder and forgot about it until eight months later when I was browsing the Jo-Ann Fabrics website and wound up in the Adirondack Ink page, quite by accident. “This must be a sign”, I thought, and promptly bought six bottles of ink and the alcohol blending solution, and waited rather impatiently for my inks to arrive in the mail.

When they arrived in the mail, I promptly hit the bottle and inked up. 🙂

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Tiles, Adirondack Inks & Alcohol Solution BEFORE

Boring tiles, right?

Alcohol and inks are so easy, so fun, and the results are almost immediate. The alcohol ink dries quickly on non-porous surfaces.

Directions:

1. Begin with a thin layer of the alcohol blending solution, spreading it evenly. This will diffuse the color, intensifies the saturation.

2. Then, squeeze one big drop of one color at a time on the tile and watch it spread over the non-porous surface.

3. Next, experiment with the color layering. Adding second or third color to a wet layer will blend the colors together (ie: red+ blue= purple), while adding color to a dry layer will create a distinct, bright color separation, like a spot/ dot.

4. Fun techniques to try: A, Draw directly with the tip of the bottle on the non-porous surface; B, move the ink around with q-tips; and C, blow the ink around with a straw. It is truly amazing all the interesting effects that can be created. Every single tile was a surprise.

5. And yes, once in a while a tile will resemble a big mud puddle that seems un-fixable. Do not despair. Simply coat the tile with the alcohol blending solution, wipe it off with a rag, allow to dry, and start over. This alcohol is very forgiving. When you’re happy with the outcome, ink the sides of the tile for a more finished look.

6. Lastly, varnish the tile when you’re finished with a water-based (not solvent-based) sealer and let each coat dry COMPLETELY in between. As anxious as you might be to begin using your new tiles, you must varnish that thing or the ink will scratch off (not cool). After four or five coats, your tile or other non-porous surfaced project, is ready for use.

Tiles Drying from a Fourth Coat of Varnish

Tiles Drying from a Fourth Coat of Varnish

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Applied Two Layers of Ink

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Swirls Created by Blowing Air Through a Straw

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Lines Created by Tilting Tile From Side to Side in my Hand

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My Fav!! A Few Drops of Ink into the Alcohol Blending Solution, and Viola!

If you have any questions, ask away and I’ll do my best to answer! Please let me know if you try this – I would love to see what you create! Thanks, Kristen

DIY Green Clean Fabric Softener

Almost two years ago I wrote a popular Do-It-Yourself post titled Make-Your-Own Laundry Detergent. I still today make my own detergent, and I now make my own fabric softener for the cost of pennies per load. This fabric softener is safe on all clothing materials and washing machines (even high efficiencies), and is safe for the waste water system (cleaning green!). And you can make this Green Clean Fabric Softener too because you probably already have the ingredients in your pantry.

DIY Green Clean Fabric Softener

Ingredients

Whites Colors Darks

1/4c to 1/2c White Distilled Vinegar

Small Ball of Aluminum Foil

Tennis Ball

Directions

1. Pour 1/4 c to 1/2 c White Distilled Vinegar into a Downy Ball or in the Fabric Softener designated dispenser of your washing machine.

2. Remove washed, wet clothing from washing machine and insert the load into the dryer. Add one Tennis Ball and a 6″ x 6″ (15.24 cm x 15.24 cm) square of Aluminum Foil, rolled into a loose ball, to the load.

3. Dry clothes as usual.

White Vinegar- Dissolves the alkalies in soaps and detergents. Besides removing soap, white distilled vinegar prevents yellowing, acts as a fabric softener and static cling reducer, and attacks mold and mildew. Also eliminate manufacturing chemicals from new clothes, brightens bold colors and whiten whites, and fluffs up wool or acrylic sweaters (hand- or machine-washed).

Aluminum Foil Ball- Reduces static cling. As clothing tumble in the dryer, the fabric rub together transferring electrons from one surface to another. This results in the build-up of a low-level electrical charge known as static. Fabric softeners remove static from clothes by coating fabrics in a light layer of wax, effectively reducing the friction between different materials. Over time, this residue can accumulate on the surface of the fabric, leaving clothes looking dingy and worn. As an alternative, toss balls of aluminum foil into the dryer to remove static without chemicals. The metal attracts the electrons, pulling them from the fabrics, preventing the build-up of an electric charge.

Cost: 1/4c per load= $0.015, 1/2c per load= $0.031…. WOW!

FREE printable of this DIY Green Clean Fabric Softener recipe and the Make-Your-Own Laundry Detergent will be posted under the “Printable” tab later this week. Happy Laundry-ing 🙂

PS: Picture found on: http://www.etsy.com/shop/WriteAtHome