Monday, December 16, 2013

All About Advent Calendars for a DIY December Adventure

Advent is from the Latin word adventus which means “coming”. It is a time of expectation, waiting, and preparation for the celebration of Christmas. We have a family tradition to bring out our Advent calendar each year to mark progression of the season to count or celebrate the days in anticipation of  Christmas. I have collected a number of fun advent calendars that you can create yourself. Of course after a number of years I seemed to lose my creative ideas for what to put in each little pocket so I created an ornament set that we can reuse each year. The first 12 match the song "Twelve Days of Christmas" and the rest are seasonal images.

Here are some of my favorite DIY calendars:

A free printable with little drawers for the ornaments--

Interested in the ornament set? I sell those here at my Etsy shop:

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Etsy Fort Worth: Fun Confetti Eggs without the Confetti Mess

Check out the fun we had here in the studios this week dyeing eggs the old fashioned way- plus an awesome tip on how to make confetti eggs without the confetti mess....
Etsy Fort Worth: Fun Confetti Eggs without the Confetti Mess: We had a blast this week dyeing eggs the old fashioned way for a traditional egg hunt. This year I wanted to try some fun confetti egg. We ...

Monday, February 18, 2013

Preschool Language Skills Center Setup (plus) Presidents Day Sale and Coupon Code

Right now at the end of my son's first preschool year we are working on sounding out consonant/vowel/consonant sound combinations for simple sight words (like bus). We have a very simple language center (it fits in a drawer of a chest I've repurposed in the play room). It needs some refreshing as he is getting to be near 4. I've been using flash cards but his interest level is really low with that- he needs manipulatives so we are switching to the products below-- Lots of handmade goodies can be included in your center as well. Don't forget our favorite game- I Spy The Letter "A". Just cut out a large letter from construction paper or play foam that you are studying that week and "hide" it to find according to the skill level of your child. At first we were hiding in plain sight- on the front of a bookshelf or on the arm of the couch and we have moved into harder locations. We "hide our eyes" and count to 10 and then try to "Find the Letter....". Hilarious giggling and fervent participation is a guarantee with this game.

We are also stocking up on the Phonics Flipper from DSC (It is 15% off right now with coupon code PRES2013 making it just $10. It's sturdy and fun for the kids to match the picture with the sound. Right now he still needs a little help and his independent play focuses on the pictures but when we sit together I can see that little learning light turn on ;) The consonant/vowel/consonant combo right now is perfect for his level.

We are also looking into getting some more felt stories for our felt board. We love telling stories this way as my little guy is definitely a hands-on learner. The thing I love about DSC felt stories is that they include the words! I've never seen another felt story maker include those and it's so important to start associating the written word with the picture they already know. It's a very cool combo.

Alphabet Soup may be our big spring splurge. We don't have this yet but I can imagine all of the fun we would have including this one in our kitchen set and sit-down activities. This set is 209 pieces and includes 26 letter-labeled soup cans. Each can holds corresponding upper- and lowercase letters, plus 5 photo cards showing an object with the same beginning letter on one side and a word label on the other. Can you imagine? I'm running up the tally of games and activities we could have with this set in my head- super awesome sorting combo. I may have to jump on it at 20% off (through 2/20/13 with coupon code PRES2013).

There are others- but these are my picks to create your own Pre-K language center at home.

You can find the rest of the language center items (over 100 items) at the link below. The sake runs through the 20th. Now is the time to stock up on your sight words and building sound items for your at-home language center. Want the goods?
President's Day Sale - Save 15% Off Select Language Items Now At! Use Code: PRES2013

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Homeschool Series: Can I Do This?

We made the conscious decision a year ago to start homeschooling our grade-schooler. We live in one of the top school districts in our area so it wasn't a do or die situation but one that resonated with the needs of our child. We felt she needed an opportunity to work at her own speed and I wanted to be more in sync with what she was learning. I know she had an opportunity for a good education but I wanted to provide her with the best education. Injecting moral and life lessons as we work through our day magnifies application of each learning moment. We have loved it and I even love the questions we get from other families- like- I love the concept but I've got so many questions. How would I get started homeschooling? How do you do it? How can I do this?
Homeschool: Unlocking each child's potential and the "At Your Desk"  requirement

I can't say every day is a breeze and I know my daughter would love it if there was a teacher in the house that was more delicately attuned to bringing up the class to the same level- therefore unintentionally allowing those students that could push harder to actually give work that reflects their potential. I know that would make her day "easier". I also know that you get out what you put in plus a little on the investment side. The starter feeling that is totally normal is - What in the world was I thinking- I can't do this!

No worries. It's less about you and more about uncovering your child's potential. We are in Texas and have full rights to home school in whatever way we choose with very little requirements. I have a very well balanced curriculum in place because it's the right thing to do but make sure you check with your state requirements. The HSLDA  (Home School Legal Defense Association) is an awesome resource to find out what you need to know. Fuddbuddle on the legal stuff- it's ridiculously frightening to think you are solely responsible for planning  out your child's education. Really- it's not that big of a deal. You don't have to have it "all done" by day one. ,Take a deep breath and focus on a subject at a time. Most curriculum publishers have samples online or can send you materials that include samples. You don't have to teach everything! You really need to just teach your child how to learn. I believe it's the singularly more important thing they need to know- a true lifelong lesson. It develops from an inquisitive nature and lots of exploration. You are only there as a guide and to make sure laziness doesn't take a lead. Once you get them interested you can assess what it is they need to learn. Once you get there- find some resources and watch them fly. It's astounding the self-motivation that can come from a child- especially if they are involved in the curriculum pick.

Here's my tip for starting. Make up some paper coupons- that's right- second grade style. Give you child a certain number of "play" days. We all need a break- I know in my corporate job it was almost expected that every few months if you didn't take a few hours or a day to yourself- it would only result in sickness in body or attitude. Let them have a limited number of "personal days". It doesn't provide an excuse for not getting the work done but it may provide an exist strategy when they just aren't able to focus. In addition, create some reword coupons that can be turned in with the completion of each unit or a certain number of lessons. Museum trip? Walk at the arboretum? Nature walk? Lots of things that are free or low cost if you think outside the box. Give yourself that freedom and you will find so many opportunities on those "personal" and reward days- you may find those are the days they are learning the most.

I'll be posting with the tag "homeschool" on a series of common questions every parent asks when deciding to homeschool. Check them out- and let me know what you think. Additional questions? If I can't answer them I promise to find a more experienced homeschooling family to step in and provide a guest post- let me know!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Curriculum Extension Material

We have completed the first two terms of home schooling while running the Sima Design business and we have loved the flexibility. She is enthusiastically wanted to home-school again next year so I guess we have been doing OK! The tornado sirens were going off yesterday as the parents were lining up to pick up their child from the public school down the street and the thunderheads were rolling in. I sat back with a hot cup of tea and thought- scored 10 points for home school today! Weather is certainly not the reason we have embarked on this crazy journey- but yesterday it did pop up on the list.

One thing that I have loved being able to do outside of the brick and mortar school is curriculum extension work. We did a little of this while doing public school but I was more removed from the curriculum so it was more difficult to tell where they needed help or where we needed to adapt the material to speak to their particular learning style. Our additional challenge was staying in a budget with our learning tools that could be used for both 4th grade and pre-school. That is one tall order. Here are my top three add-ons for this year that have stayed in budget and kept us on track loving at-home learning.

1. Thistle Blocks
Remember these? They are so hard to find these days in battery powered toy store aisles filled with television and movie character  sponsored nonsense. These have been awesome from a pre-school manipulative point of view for counting and sorting and are easy to for little hands to put together. We have loved them as an extension tool in mathematics for the older one when discussion division, grouping, and number line concepts. They also make a great study break and sculpture tool in art and we have been able to do a couple of projects using it for the older one when discussing architecture utilizing symmetry.

2. Connecting Disks
Way within budget and we have loved these since seeing and playing with them at our local Children's Science Museum. These are a great late-preschool manipulative toy and for the older child they exercise that imaginative play button we sometimes forget about when teaching grade school. She has great fun creating new sculptures and setting out windmill cities using the blocks. The preschooler is fascinated with every "motorcycle" she builds for him. Basic battery free creative fun. The additional bonus is the pieces are large enough that they are easy to put away and not so small as to get vacuumed up accidentally.

3. The Pocket Chart
I know this one doesn't look as fun as the others but we really have gotten so much out of it and I loved the price. Most of the others I found at the local school supply store felt flimsy or were way outside of my price range- I guess they were targeting institutional buyers or something. They also seemed to require a different pocket chart for each activity- this one is versatile and works with out own made-up sets or fantastically priced sets that are made to work with the chart. This one has suited us this year. We have used it to make our own flashcards for the older child and for the younger one we love setting up rhyming pairs, colors, shapes, and simple words and have even made up our own matching games. Plus you can hang it up OR sit it on a tabletop. Perfecto. Here are a few sets that match the chart (and all under $10!):
Numbers and Counting Pocket CardsRhyming Pair Pocket Words, Alphabet Pocket Words, Colors and Shapes, and finally Sequencing Pocket Cards.

There are so many others- just search "Excellerations" on the Discount School Supply website and you will be amazed at all of the classroom quality items you can pick up for extension schooling or homeschooling!

Did I mention a discount code? Use promotion code RED2013 by Jan 30 and take 15% off of your craft supplies ;)

256534_Save 15% Now During Our Annual Red Sale - 15% Off Everything Red in Arts & Crafts At! Click Here!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Enamel Treatment to Glass and Ceramics- DIY Mugs and Dishes

When I was first married, my husband and I went and purchased some dishes that sort of matched our separate plain white functional sets from our separate kitchens. Even after a number of years it seems we haven't stepped away from the plain white Corelle ware that the kids seem to find hard to break so I figured it was time to spice up the dishware in the cupboards with a fun technique I've seen echoed all over Pinterest.

Now- here I must warn you- the Pinterest technique you know and love is about to get poo-poo'd. Have you seen the posts that show a cute design done in Sharpie marker that looks all artistic and perfect? Then it says all you have to do is bake it for a while and it will stay like that forever. *Ahem* The truth is that a Sharpie marker is much more permanent on paper or other porous surfaces. Even if you baked it on there for several days- you can wipe it right off with a little window cleaner and it will only last a few washings before fading and flaking off. I know- bummer- but better you know now then spend countless hours perfecting a Sharpie masterpiece only to have it wash off with a light scrubbing- and I want you to be able to clean your dishes.

Therefore and henceforth we shall dispel that fun little rumor and go with a more permanent route. My daughter and I sat down one afternoon after her schoolwork and doodled around on our dishes with a Pebeo Porcelaine 150 marker I picked up for about $7 at Amazon . They come in several colors so you can get fairly detailed and they work on porcelain, china, glazed earthenware, terracotta, metal, enameled sheet steel, copper and glass- so after you get confident with my short tutorial you can go craft-crazy.

 My budget (and my fear of artistic permanence) limited me to one. Also- I haven't seen how the husband might react to the new dish designs so for now I'll stay close to the Minimalist period we accidentally stocked up on. This could make a fun project on some thrift-store dishes and just the right quote on a pretty tea cup and saucer would make the perfect gift. Think of the updates you can make to  your drinking glasses and silverware and.... Enough babble- let's get started.
Porcelaine Marker 0.7mm- Black

 Get'yer marker. I bought black. You can invest in the colors that you like. The 0.7mm is perfect for outlines. A thicker tip is better for filling in larger spaces.
Mish-Mash Plain White Ceramic Dishes
Gather up the odds and ends dishes that sort of but don't really have too many cousins in the cabinet. Or grab your mom's best china- totally up to you. You can see my chosen ones sort of but don't really match and not in that cute country chic kind of way.

I wanted to have an interresting quote from Albert Einstein on my mug so I went online and found a fun picture of him. I enlarged the photo to the size I needed for the mug and held up a white piece of note paper to the screen. With a light touch, I outlined the basic shapes of Mr. Einstein on my paper straight from the screen. I just wanted the idea of him on my mug- nothing that might highlight the lack of a formal art education or I could be totally embracing the minimalist look- I'll let you guess.
Voila- Albert Einstein-ish outline- note paper front
Once I was happy with the outline I turned my sketch over and scribbled kind of dark with my pencil on the back so that the lines of my sketch were backed up with lots o'graphite.
The back of the note paper sketch
Yippee- time for the part that gives me confidence with future permanence. If you are not quite so much of a perfectionist or have more confidence you can try winging it. I like having a little guide so I don't accidentally make the eyes bigger than the ears. Now for the fun part. Place the sketch on the mug (or plate) where you want the design with your original sketch facing out. Try to not let it slide or wiggle.

Trace kind of hard with your pencil back over your original drawing. This will transfer the outline onto the ceramic surface using the scribbled graphite except it will look perfect- like you are an art master. I know this technique was really exciting and you have all kinds of new ideas for transferring art to your walls and decor but stick with me.
Can you see the faint Einstein outline?
Now- this will rub off easily so if you made a mistake or only half of it came out- that is totally normal and just means you need to scribble some more. Start again on the scribble side and make sure you have plenty of graphite back there. Rub off the poor traces on the mug and try again. Scrub. Rinse. Repeat. Until you are happy. I got mine looking like I wanted it on the first second third try.

Now for the permanent part. Shake up the Porcelaine marker and on some scratch paper press in the top to the barrel until ink starts flowing. Then carefully go over your graphite outline on the mug. Now you are almost done- just go back in and fill in the parts that need the silhouette treatment.
Yeah- I know it's also possibly Cheech on a bad hair day. I'm going with Einstein. 
I searched around for a fun good morning quote and free-styled on the other side of the mug with the marker. Next time I might graphite on some horizontal guidelines so I don't end up wonky at the end. Obviously this time I meant to start going sideways- totally planned- because it's all relative. (*snicker* Einstein jokes are hilarious.)
There are only two ways to live your life...
The quote says, "There are only two ways to live your life. Once is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." After I finished my mug I realized I'm not sure which way Einstein saw things so it's become a good early morning ponder. We also tackled a fun tea-bag string with "Tout est bien" on the tag and I did a matching inspirational saucer for my daughter that says, "Remember you are braver than you believe, Stronger than you seem, Smarter than you think, and twice as beautiful as you imagine." I saw something like that somewhere and it stuck. I hope it sticks with her too.

Tout est bien (Translates to "All is Well" or "Life is mad dope here")
Remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think and twice as beautiful as you imagine.
My daughter worked hard on a Valentine's saucer for her dad with a silhouette of Princess Leia. I think he will be pleased with the cabinet updates. Or not. But it's too late to go back so I'll go with pleased and excited even. 
Princess Leia ready for tea cup action
There were no clear instructions about food safety so it's probably best not to lick the ink pen but I think for general use and no steak knives you should be fine. If you want to gently wash them or just have them for display- let them air dry for 72 hours before handling. If you want them to survive some dishwasher action let them air dry for 24 hours and then put them in a cold oven, heat to 300-350 degrees for 45 minutes or so and then tun the oven off and let them sit in there until the oven cools off. This will bake the design on with special Jedi forces that no Sharpie can master. A less geeky description would be "enameled surface treatment". Enjoy and I'd love to see some of your original creations!!

This post was authored by Sarah at Sima Design. Visit her Etsy Shop (Just Off Normal) for custom engraved wooden toys and gifts or hang out at her blog for fun tips and visual treats.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Shhh! Super Secret Coupon Code for Kids Crafts

Just got a link on a discount coupon code for Discount School Supply. It's my go-to for kids crafts, dramatic play items and educational toys that I can't make myself- they even have really cool apps that have kid craft ideas- check it out. Anyway- I was finishing up my holiday shopping and found a discount code I didn't see advertised anywhere else-- 15% off with coupon code GIFTS. It's only good on items from the Gift Guide and ends on 12/20/12. Onward- towards tempura paints ;)
256534_Find educational and unique gifts with the Gift Guide! Hundreds of items for every child on your lis

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Etsy Fort Worth: The Twelve Days of Christmas Card Crafts

Check out my post on Etsy Fort Worth. First you'll need Christmas cards, scissors, tape and kids you need to keep busy...
Etsy Fort Worth: The Twelve Days of Christmas Card Crafts: Anyone with a crafty gene will agree they have a hard time throwing out old Christmas cards. It seems like there could be some use for the...

12 Days of Christmas Card Crafts

I think anyone with a crafty gene has a hard time throwing out old Christmas cards. It seems like there could be some use for them besides sturdy recycling. After removing all of the family photos and stories I usually end up with a good stack of "potential" by the end of the season and for some reason stash them all in the Christmas bin as though I'll be inspired by the start of the next season. To kick-start that I've come up with several crafty ideas to use those cards for in lots of clever ways.

1. Gather your supplies. You will need scissors, a hole punch, tape, a pen or marker, twine, jute or string, and Mod Podge (optional).

Idea 1: Cut small rectangles from the card fronts, punch a hole, and use as gift tags!

 Idea 2: Cut strips of card fronts to make napkin rings.

 Cut notches on opposing ends of the strip so that when made into a circle, the notches connect. Hide some tape on the inside of the circle and insert napkin!

Idea 3: Use those strips to make a paper garland instead! We love the homemade garland on our tree or you can use it to decorate the mantle. The Christmas card colors come together to make a festive garland!

Idea 4: Cookies Cutter crafts! Using a cookie cutter and pen (I used a marker so you could see my lines), arrange the cutter shape on a card front and cut out shapes. You can use anything really. I show little gingerbread girls. You can also use stars, trees, and circle shapes!

To make a garland punch a hole in the sides of each shape, connect with string and decorate with your new holiday bunting!

 The shapes also make crafty ornaments that are kid friendly to create- just punch a hole in the top of your shape. Kids can decorate the backs or you can use these for gift tags as well.

Idea 5: If you have holiday travel coming up- here is a neat take-along craft that works in doctor's offices, restaurants or in the car (we take along a piece of press board the kids use for a lap desk). Using your marker- make some puzzle shapes. You can make as many pieces as you think is needed for added difficulty.

 Idea 6: Use card fronts that are blank on the back for pocket envelopes. Simply cut off the front of the cards, fold in half and secure. I fold it to that I have a little closing tab over the top.

Pocket ideas: We use our festive card pockets to carry around our fancy puzzles. You can also use them as gift card holders! Another idea would be to fill with holiday potpourri. Punch a hole in the top and string the pouch to the tree or hang the mini sachets from doorknobs to scent your home for the holidays.

Idea 7: Make a miniature scene (a craft for the older kids!) We had lots of fun finding cards that had animals, people, plants, and other objects. We carefully cut around the items we wanted and created a fun holiday scene. Make sure you cut enough extra on the bottom of your shape to fold back into a stand. These little Christmas trees are now decorating the dollhouse. We made other miniatures for the dollhouse include portraits, floor rugs, and mini holiday placements for the mini people and their holiday feast! Surprisingly this is also a good activity at family gatherings, requires little planning, and engages the kids for way longer than 10 minutes.

Need more ideas? Here are a few other resources and ideas you can use to make your own Christmas card holiday crafts:

Idea 8: Cut out a doughnut ring from a large piece of cardboard. Cut out holly leaves and other holiday shapes from your Christmas cards and affix to the cardboard ring to make a fun and festive holiday wreath!

Idea 9: Find a clever paper craft box pattern, trace onto a card front, and craft away. Makes a clever gift box for those tiny things or adorable and traditional boxes you can hang on the tree and hide little goodies inside for Christmas morning! (

Idea 10: Using a coaster, trace the shape on a card front. Cut out and coat both sides with Mod Podge. The crafty glue gives the cardstock enough protection that they can be used as coasters! I've also placed them under candles to catch drip!

Idea 11: My ultra thrifty aunt reuses birthday and Christmas cards in this way: 1.) Find a card front that is blank on the back. 2.) Cut it off with regular or craft scissors with the fancy edging design. 3.) Fold a blank sheet of cardstock or construction paper in half. 4.) Affix the card front to the front of the paper
5.) Voila- a brand new card you can decorate with scrapbooking supplies, ribbon, or glitter glue. (Just try not to re-card to the person who originally sent the card. It's almost as bad as re-gifting)

Idea 12 + (Additional resources):
We love using the Canon Creative Park card craft ideas. Their Christmas craft link is here: . They have lots of neat papercrafting ideas, templates, and printable projects.
Search on Pinterest for loads of creative ideas in using up cardstock. Don't limit yourself to searching for Christmas cards- open it up to cardstock and paper crafts.

This post was created for Etsy Fort Worth- Check out our creative collective!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pretend Play Cyber Monday Shopping Deals for Toys and Games

I make lots of toys and games for kids to pretend and play and practice those important strategic thinking skills and while I enjoy making things for my family and others- I shop around too for other things to stock up the homeschool room and preschool area at home and I'm happy to share those with you. I like to shop with Discount School supply because the items there have been through the ringer and are used by preschools and daycares. It gives me hope they won't get too torn up and plus I avoid all of those licensed products at the big box stores the kids play with for 10 minutes and ignore. Just passing along- enjoy!

This deal is valid through Tomorrow #cyberMonday
Take An Extra 10% Off the Likes to Pretend Selection in the Gift Guide - Cyber Monday!

This deal is good through the end of the year! Valid through 12/31/2012 for all items in the Gift Collection. Yippee!
Save 10% On All Products In The Gift Guide! Use Code: SAVEGIFT! Click Here! Good Through 12/31/12!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday- Cyber Monday Shop Deals

Back Friday-Cyber Monday offers- mention BLOGGER in your order notes and I will rebate you with an instant refund for the discount amount. All of the deals can be combined!:

Half off Personalized Ornaments (

Free Noughts and Crosses with any $50 purchase (

$5 off any personalized name puzzle (

35% off Toothfairy boxes (prices already discounted): (

15% off Montessori Math Center (Matching, Sorting, Counting Game): (

20% off Japanese Kanji Script Walnut Coasters: (

Happy Shopping!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Teacher Pay Teachers Shop Started

We have just opened a store on the phenomenally popular Teachers Pay Teachers site with a freebie alphabet worksheet set on the Letter A and I have listed our Fraction Circles and Flash-Flip-Find game to explore pairing, matching, and finding. Check out the site for lots of other freebie goodies and let me know what else you would like to see up on our section of the shop. I hope to develop some variations on the existing product lines to serve classrooms by scaling up sizes and changing up some material types.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sima Design is in for Small Business Saturday

We are teaming up with American Express for Small Business Saturday with a special promotion.

Support your favorite small business.
This November 24th is Small Business Saturday®, a day to celebrate and support the local small businesses that boost the economy and invigorate neighborhoods across the country.
Sima Design is proud to take part in Small Business Saturday, and we’re encouraging everyone to Shop Small® here on November 24th.
Plus, we’re having a special Small Business Saturday offer! Place your order on November 24th and you’ll get a free "Noughts and Crosses" hardwood table game with your order.
Most importantly, get out there, Shop Small, and let’s make this November 24th the biggest day of the year for small business.
Shopping small make a big impact on your community both near and far. It enables local creativity, hand-wrought unique designs, and personalized service.  Small business owners don't get paid lunch breaks, never know a "normal" work-day and put in 300% to make their dreams a little more true each day. I don't even want to think about what the breakdown of my labor rate is when I think of the hours that go into development, creation, marketing, promoting, and packaging. Believe me- when you shop small you are supporting more than your purchase. If we were to charge like the big guys with offshore manufacturing and low-wage local jobs, they would tell us we were crazy (and perhaps there is some of that).

To shop small on Saturday November 24, visit or and I'll throw in our latest stocking stuffer game and teach you how to play 1st century B.C. style!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Etsy Fort Worth: About Town: Etsy Fort Worth at Funky Finds!

Hey all! We are gearing up for a big show this weekend. Come on out and I will cover the parking with $5 off any order if you mention this post. Free entry to the show and a bazillion awesome vendors to get your Secret Santa workout!

Etsy Fort Worth: About Town: Etsy Fort Worth at Funky Finds!: Y'all ready to get funky?? This weekend is the annual Funky Finds Holiday Shopping Experience show in Fort Worth! We hope if you're in ...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Back to School Break- Coupon Code for those Forgotten School Supplies

It's back to school time and every year I think I'm on top of things and then BAM! I realize I need more notebooks, funny erasers, binders, clips, brads, paper.... Just today my daughter needed a journal and the little one needs brads and pipe cleaners. I might also pick up a pocket chart to create a fun chore chart. Anyway- I wanted to send out a neato coupon code for 10% your order at I've found they have the best school supply prices on the high quality brands... Coupon code:
SAVE 10% On A Great Selection Of Back To School Products! Use Code: B2SWDSS! Thru 9/14/12

Take an EXTRA 10% OFF all in-stock items!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Make Your Own Sidewalk Chalk

If your kids are like mine- they love going outside and covering the sidewalk with expressive art, chalk outlines of any kid or object within reach, impromptu tic-tac-toe games and elaborate hopscotch obstacle courses. They could probably go through a bucket of sidewalk chalk a week if it weren't so hot outside we have to limit time outside to under an hour sometimes. Here is a great indoor activity to make some outdoor chalk. This helps you know what's in your chalk, gives the kids a chance to learn some quick science, and hopefully puts some pennies back in your wallet. It takes a couple of hours from the start of getting out your materials to the chalk being ready to go and your area cleaned up so save one of those blistering hot afternoons for some great indoor fun. Use toilet paper tubes, those waxy bathroom cups, or even some old ice cube trays to make your own sidewalk chalk! (Pictures soon!)

Sidewalk Chalk (Recipe #1)
2 cups water 
2 cups plaster of paris 
2 tablespoons tempera paint (wet or dry)
Toilet paper tubes with duct tape over one end 

Place tubes on cookie sheet lined with foil or wax paper.
Combine the rest of the ingredients and stir together. Let stand a few minutes. 
Pour mixture into holders, let stand until semi-firm. 
Remove holders and let dry completely—ready to use in 
about 1 to 1 ½ hours.
(My tip for the wise and half-asleep—never ever never pour that extra plaster down the sink.) 

Sidewalk Chalk # 2 (Makes a little less)
1 cup plaster of paris 
½ cup water 
2 tablespoons powdered tempera paint 
Four 5-oz. waxed paper cups or one ice cube tray 
In a plastic bowl, mix together the plaster of paris and 
the powdered tempera paint. Using a plastic spoon, 
slowly stir in the water until the mixture is smooth. Half-fill each of the paper cups  or the ice-cube tray sections. 
Allow the mixture to harden for one hour. Peel away the 
cups or pop the chalks out of the ice-cube tray. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Super Smile Friday- Sidewalk Paint

Ok- I made up the super smile Friday title- but this receipe for sidewalk paint made me smile. I plan to try it out tomorrow! Every kid loves playing with sidewalk chalk and sidewalk paint in the summer. If you have a little artist in your family make them sidewalk paint from ingredients in your kitchen

Sidewalk paint recipe:

In a large bowl combine 1 cup water with 1 cup cornstarch. Divide mixture into cups or a large muffin tin. Add food coloring to each tin and stir until well combined. Use old paintbrushes, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners and foam brushes to give your little artists lots of different textures and shapes to experiment with!

Monday, June 25, 2012

School Discounts- Home School and the Road to More Crazy

So we have made the decision to home school our oldest child (with a preschooler already at home- I know, I'm crazy) so I'm collecting all of these fun things to looks at converting a formal dining room which gets used probably less than once a year into our homeschool center. There are so many great ideas out there on Pinterest- my head is spinning!

Did I mention a discount in the title? Yes- click below and get 110% guaranteed prices on school supplies plus through today (6/25) take an extra 10% off dramatic play. Hold a summer show- infuse creative play with fun outfits and costumes!. You can't beat that!

Take an additional 10% Off dramatic play items. Use code: DRAMATIC at checkout. Offer ends June 25,

How have you organized your play rooms and what ideas do you have when there is a wide age span? Let me know! And look for great lapbook cut outs and new manipulatives coming out of the studio as I get my designs in motion!

Check out my pinterest board on great homeschool and play space:
Let me know if you have additional suggestions to add to the board or some great budget-saver ideas for transforming a room into an orderly but creative and fun learning space.

Now to check off some more to-do list items- I'm also going to get an Usbourne book order in and stock up on all of those school supplies. Get out and Play!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Salt Paint-- Pre-School Recipe Series

Pre-School Recipe Series- Each week (for a while) I'll be posting a recipe to use for pre-school. We will cover everything from puffy paint to goop and everything in between. Chances are you have many of these ingredients hiding in your cupboard so drag them out and use up an afternoon having fun with your hands!
Here is another recipe requiring tempura paint and liquid starch- neither of which I seem to keep stocked in the craft and cleaning supply cabinets. Still- both are inexpensive and easy to find ingredients. Salt paint has a really neat effect once dry so it may be worth the extra aisle when you are shopping. This is also a great receipe to use when building models- salt paint is a favorite to use when painting mountain ranges and ocean views ;)

Salt Paint 

1/8 cup liquid starch 
1/8 cup water 
¼ cup salt 
1 tablespoon tempera paint 

Mix together and apply to paper with a brush. Keep 
stirring mixture. Paint will crystallize as it dries.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Soap Paint-- Pre-School Recipe Series

Pre-School Recipe Series- Each Monday (for a while) I'll be posting a recipe to use for pre-school. We will cover everything from puffy paint to goop and everything in between. Chances are you have many of these ingredients hiding in your cupboard so drag them out and use up an afternoon having fun with your hands!
You can pick up laundry soap flakes from your grocery store. It's inexpensive and located in the laundry aisle- I can't think of a brand name you'd find there but I'll update once I look around. Ivory may still make it in flake form.

Soap Paint 

1 cup laundry soap flakes 
½ cup cold water 
Food coloring 

Mix together. Beat with an egg beater until fluffy. Finger 

Soap Paint # 2 

1 cup laundry soap flakes 
¼ cup water 
1/3 liquid starch 

Mix together. Beat with a whisk for 3 minutes. Finger 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Over One Dozen Artists- Amazing Sale Going On Through May 7

OK Folks0 I'm participating in the Etsy Forth Worth Mom's Day sale! Check out the incredible artists participating in the sale- 15% off any and all. There are at least 10 shops with the same coupon code for each MOMSDAY. Thanks for supporting handmade!



Friday, April 20, 2012

The Pocket Palace

I try to not post too many times about new products as a blog is really not about that. I couldn't resist with this one- it was really really fun to make and I hope to grow this set into something more with add-ons or new designs... or something. (Any ideas?) My darling daughter got to help with this one. I saw her playing with some box sides from a prototype wooden box I cut and connecting them in free-form to use them as little walls while she was playing with her dolls and I thought- how cool would it be to just have a whole set of box parts to invent your own creations! We set on on developing a new building set that incorporated a few elements but left the rest to the imagination. The hope is that this set can be used with other block sets to create castle elements, rooms, and mazes. We also wanted it portable. Anyway- let me know what you think!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sweet- A Feature! Etsy Fort Worth: Member Monday! Meet....

Very cool shout out from Etsy Fort Worth today. It's a neat group of some very dedicated artists all from the Ft. Worth area. Check out the other member pages while you are over there!

Etsy Fort Worth: Member Monday! Meet....: Sarah Evans  Just Off Normal Sarah makes toys, games, puzzles and pendants from sustainable North American hardwood.  Here are a f...

Puffy Paint-- Pre-School Recipe Series

Pre-School Recipe Series- Each Monday (for a while) I'll be posting a recipe to use for pre-school. We will cover everything from puffy paint to goop and everything in between. Chances are you have many of these ingredients hiding in your cupboard so drag them out and use up an afternoon having fun with your hands! This one requires tempura paint which I never have lying around but perhaps you are well stocked...

Puffy Paint 

Tempera paint

Mix equal amounts of flour, salt and water. Add liquid
tempera paint for color. Pour mixture into squeeze
bottles and paint. Mixture will harden in a puffy shape.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tissue Paper Challenge- Etsy Fort Worth: Upcycle THIS: April Craft Challenge

Here is the next installment of the Etsy Fort Worth Craft Challenge- finding a crafty use for all of that tissue paper. Open to absolutely anyone- go earn a month of free advertising by competing and winning the challenge. This sounds like a task best accomplished by a Pinterest search if you ask me. I hope to get to this one but taxes are sucking the life and extra time from me- I have my fingers crossed!

Etsy Fort Worth: Upcycle THIS: April Craft Challenge -: This is the fourth of what is now an exciting regular occurrence here at the Etsy Fort Worth blog. I would like to introduce you to your Apr...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Handprints- iPad Personalized Laser Engraving

We worked up a personalized iPad engraving this weekend for a friend. The best setting we found and used was at 100% speed and 40% power at 600 dpi. I scanned in the handprints and had them write their names on a separate sheet. Then I scanned in and rearranged the pieces into an iPad layout and double checked to make sure the handprints were life-sized. Then we arranged the names they wrote (big brother helped translate the little bro's handwriting). I was really happy to see the details of the handprints come through in the engraving. I know there is a proud dad out there with a new reason to love his iPad.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Head on Over! Coco and Cocoa: Hearts and Home (giveaway!)

One my the artists in my Fort Worth Artisan group is hosting a giveaway on her blog. Adorable little sundresses! Head on over and show her some love! Coco and Cocoa: Hearts and Home (giveaway!): One of the things I love most about belonging to local craft groups is the wonderful people that I have met. While we do a lot of communicat...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Shoes!- Etsy Fort Worth Craft Challenge

Well I posted a few days ago about this month's Etsy Fort Worth Craft Challenge which is open to anyone at their blog. Anyway- this month's entry is about doing something new to old shoes. At first I was thinking about taking some old shoes of mine apart and making them into something else but once I pulled some from the closet I decided- why not try to put some new life in some. I had an old pair of TOMS shoes that are only good for around the house. I had worn the soles down so badly they were cracking, completely worn through until some fabric stuff was showing through and the poor things looked droopy.

Old TOMS- The Before Photo

Oh my Sole!

 Anyway- I figured I couldn't hurt anything by trying to put a little fun life back into these so I hopped around the craft store and found some remnant leather for about $6 in an 8.5" by 11" sheet. That should be just big enough for new soles! I picked leather becuase of its flexibility and wearability. I saw some chemical concoction in a tube called ShoeGoo that some folks use to fix old sneakers but since Tom's are flat on the bottom- I didn't want to risk walking around on something that felt lumpy- and I wanted a bit of a cosmetic fix up too.
Remnant Soft Leather
A little soap and water on the shoes to clean up any dirt and grime before adding the new bottoms is recommended. Then I placed the shoes on the leather and traced around the sole of the shoe. I figured any excess could be trimmed later.
A couple of snips later...
I did a fit check to make sure they would fit OK without overlap.
If the shoe fits....
Then used some goop to glue them down. You'll need to use some strong stuff that stays flexible after curing. I used Amazing Goop. I've read that Gorilla Glue will also work.
All glued and ready for action!
I pressed and rolled a dowel across the bottom to smooth out any excess glue so I wouldn't feel like I had a rock in my shoe later one and added goop to any areas where glue didn't reach the edge. I wanted them sort of sealed around the edge so they wouldn't get caught on anything.
Now... what to do about the top....

I've been itching to do a bit of embroidery on some things lately so I figured I could brush up on some stitches and looked around the craft pile for inspiration. I found these cute little lemon drop buttons and I had to use them in a shoe design. Since I can't turn the fabric inside out I settled on doing some flowers as that would be fairly easy without requiring too much wrong-side needle maneuvering. I ended up doing a little stitch sampler and got some practice on some stitches I had not done in a while. It was fun but a little challenging since my maneuverability with the needle was limited by the shape of the shoe. Mainly they are just little doodles. I was wishing I could do a song bird or hummingbird on one but decided that for now I'd keep it simple and save that for a new dress I got that's a bit too plain.

Since the tops were not too damaged or stained I didn't need patching but another idea might be doing some applique to cover up any spots or to use as patches. I saw some cute pre-made daisy applique things at the store and of course you can make your own from twill. Just hand-sew them in with some whip stitch and you can revive some old canvas shoes too!

Anyway- I think they turned out pretty cute- and they are ready for Spring! The new soles will be great for errands. Pinch a Penny- Save a Penny! I think I'll get a few more miles out of these....
Let me know what you think!
TOMS for Spring

See if you can pick out the different embroidery stich types!