Author Archives: jane

Paper Mache Valentine Heart Craft

I made these paper Mache Valentine Hearts but they are simple enough for children to make.

Here is how I made these. I cut out heart shapes from pieces of salvaged cardboard. A cardboard box works well. Next, I crumpled up newspaper to give the heart volume. Then I used paper Mache techniques to finish the hearts. Basically, you use strips of newspaper that have been dipped into a mixture of flour and water. Squeeze excess water off the strips by pulling the strips between two fingers.

I’ll do a tutorial on paper Mache another time. When you get the shape you want, you are ready to let it dry. I painted mine red after it was completely dry. When the paint dried I painted on a clear varnish. This gives it a glossy look and helps preserve the hearts. I made these hearts about 13 years ago and they are still great.

Have fun!

P.S. Don’t you love our door within a door!? It is perfect kid size.

Gifts You Can Make Yourself: Neck Warmer And Muscle Relaxer

These neck warmers/ muscle relaxers are especially nice in the winter but are useful all year. Heat one up and put on your shoulders to relax tense muscles. Warm yourself when coming in from the cold or use it to warm up your feet when crawling into bed on chilly nights.

They work well as a cold pack too. Store one in the freezer in a sealed plastic bag. Your kids will likely prefer a cold “rice” pack over a bag of frozen peas. The rice bags are softer and not as cold. You might want to make a smaller bag for this purpose.

Heat it up in the microwave for a minute or two. Check after a minute to see if it is the desired temperature. Don’t over-heat because the filler can burn. Be careful that you don’t overheat because it can burn your skin.

My young students made these for gifts at my recent December “green” craft workshops. This is a great project suitable for beginner sewers.

Think Mother’s day gift, Christmas gift, get well gift…

How to:

Fold and cut. However you fold your fabric, you should end up with a rectangle that is about 18 inches long and 5.5 inches wide. You need a top and a bottom. You can custom make yours longer or shorter.

Sew with good sides touching. Make sure you sew all the way to the edge. You don’t want the rice to fall out the corners! Clip corners.

Turn right side out. Use a knitting needle to gently poke the corners out. Be careful not to poke a hole in the corners while doing this.

Add rice. I use about two pounds of rice for each neck warmer. You can also use oat wheat berries, flaxseeds or dried corn. You can also add a little lavender if you like or scented oils.

Tuck in the raw edges. Pin and then machine sew the opening closed. Hand sew if you prefer.

You can sew it in sections if you like to keep the filler from going all to one side. I don’t think this is necessary however.

There rice bags are also great to use as a hand rest when typing. I love to use it when I’m getting chilly working on the computer.

This one was made by re-purposing the fabric from unwanted flannel PJ’s.

Clever Mad Hatter’s Dinner Tea Party Ideas

As you can see, getting ready for your Mad Hatter’s tea party is half the fun. Below are some ideas to get you started.

Seating

It is fun to have guests sit randomly around the table: it encourages people to make new friends. To achieve this, have guests as they arrive, pic a card. The cards should be arranged face down. I used cards from an incomplete deck. Creative reuse is better than buying new. The card they choose (B.) can either correspond to card (C.) that is already placed at each place setting. Or have the number on card B match the number on the chess piece.

Name Tags

Also, card B can be made into a name tag and pinned on guests using a safety pin. To make the name tag, use a self-adhesive sticker. Name tags are helpful when you have a lot of guests that don’t know each other. Alternatively, guests can choose their own names such as Tweedle Dee, or Alice…

Game

The number on “A” can also be used in a game. The chess pieces are arranged around the table in numerical order. During random times during the party, the Queen can announce “Switch” and all the guests that have an odd number must move over to the next odd number. Only the odd numbers will rotate. In the book, everyone leaves their dishes and gets new ones- in this version; guests carry their dishes with them. It’s cumbersome, odd and delightfully fun. It also promotes mingling of guests.

This wooden chess set was given to me. It was missing one or two pieces but I kept it because I saw possibilities! I painted the pieces red and glued on a number.

Chairs

Chairs need not match. Use a winged backed chair for the head of the table if you have one.

Key

An antique key like this one is a nice touch. I painted this one gold. Miss-matched tea cups are easy to find at thrift stores. This one was a thrift store find.

Framed Card

The queen of hearts card can easily be framed with a thrifted frame. No mat required.

Painted Roses

Painted roses are easy to make if you are lucky enough to find some second-hand white roses.

Cake Stands

I made this cake stand from a thrift store glass and plate that I glued together. The cards were salvaged from an incomplete deck. Make several of different heights to make a stunning dessert table display.

Vintage Clock

Because you don’t want to be late.

Drink Me

I found this bottle at a thrift store. I washed it carefully and added a label that said “Drink me.” Add a sign near the food that says “Eat me.”

Well that’s all I’m going to post today.

Click here to see more of my tea party ideas such as this purple painted tea pot.

How To Make Eco Friendly Tissue Paper Flowers

Recently it occurred to me that the tissue paper wrapper of Seventh Generation toilet paper could be used to make awesome tissue paper flowers. I did some experimenting and was happy with the results. These flowers are great for party decorations.

How to:

Stack paper

I used four pieces of the tissue paper wrapper for these flowers.

Fold paper

Fold the paper like a fan: accordion style. Make the first fold (1/2 inch to 1 inch wide) then turn the paper over and fold again keeping the folds approximately the same width. Keep folding and turning until you run out of paper.

Tie

Use a salvaged twist tie to gather in the center. Twist ties can be salvaged from the packaging of bread, lettuce, and even electronics.

Unfold

Pull up the top layer of tissue paper being careful not to rip it.

Pull up the second layer,

the third layer,

and the fourth.

Adjust the layers to make your flower look good.

You can keep the flower fluffy or you can crush the flower long way (not flatten) and then trim off the top of the flower. The flower in the glass was done in this way.

This flower looks nice in a fun bright green thrift store vase.

Perfect to make at a bridal shower in conjunction with toilet paper wedding dresses!

Be creative. These flowers look nice displayed in glasses, directly on the table, and even taped directly to the wall. Be careful what tape you use; however, you don’t want to peel the wall paint.

Having a black and white party? These would be just the thing.

In the past we reused this paper by giving it to our pet rat for nesting material.

Does anyone know of any other toilet paper that is wrapped with usable paper?

Fowler’s Toad Found In MD Yard

Fowler’s Toads (Bufo fowleri) are difficult to tell apart from Eastern American Toads (both can be found in Maryland). One difference is that a Fowler’s toad never has a spotted belly. Its ventral surface (belly) is usually whitish and without spots aside from the dark spot in the throat area.

Also, Fowler’s Toads have three or more warts in each of the largest dark spots.

This Fowler’s toad was another species I recorded for the Maryland Amphibians and Reptiles Atlas (MARA) for 2011.