Make Your Own Christmas Dove Ornaments

lovely beaded Christmas dove ornament

Have a pleasant afternoon making lovely dove ornaments with your family. When provided with the supplies, even kids have fabulous results. I have a shoe box full of salvaged beads from unwanted necklaces etc. and this is a perfect time to make use of those little treasures.

This dove ornament was designed and made by my nine year old daughter. All I did was supply her with a pattern, scrap felt, and a box or salvaged beads. The gold beads came off a retired Christmas sweater and some of the others came from unwanted necklaces.

How To:

Print out and use the dove stencil provided in the make your own dove card post (see link below).

Trace and cut out two doves (one for the front and one for the back). It doesn’t take much fabric/felt to make so check your supply for scraps. Use felt or fabric that doesn’t fray very easily.

Sew on any embellishments (beads) before sewing the dove halves together. (This is a good idea but not absolutly necessary.)

Start sewing around the dove near the edge. When you are nearly done sewing all the way around, add a bit of stuffing. Then sew the hole closed.

Optional, add a string of beads to dangle below.

You will also need a bit of ribbon or a metal hook for hanging up.

If you like doves, you may also like this post on MYO dove cards.

Give Away: Cute Little Hand-made Tea Cup Mouse Plush

 

Gray Tea Cup Mouse wearing his new vest.

Flower made from felted wool sweater(s) and a stick. Vest made from a salvaged worn out wool coat.

GrayMouseSweateErO

This mouse’s sweater was made from the cuff of a wool/ mohair sweater sleeve cuff.

Deadline is Jan. 10th 2010

To win this cutie mouse all you have to do is comment on this post. The limit is one comment per day per person. (Click the words “leave a comment” below the post title.)

Good Luck!

I’ll randomly pick a winner and send an e-mail on Jan 11th.

If you live in the United States, I’ll also pay for shipping. If not, you will need to cover the shipping cost.

I’ll carefully pack it up and send it right out to you. Expect a clean but reused box and packing materials (no surprise there).

Prize includes Tea Cup Mouse, tea cup, sweater cuff sweater, felted wool vest, and felted wool flower.

For instructions on how to make your own Tea Cup Mouse click here.

Make Your Own Simple Yet Adorable Tea Cup Mouse

Making your own charming Tea Cup Mouse is easier than you think. I designed this project to be suitable for even beginner sewers. And you can adjust the project according to skill level.

This is a sweet way to use a lovely tea cup that has no matches. A cup with a chip or crack would be undesirable for drinking tea but these signs of wear would only add character to these little beds.

Sewing workshop: if you live locally (Southern Maryland) you might be interested in my Tea Cup mouse workshops for children (and adults too). Click on the Classes link above.

Tea Cup Mouse takes a break

This is Leo. He was made from a retired linen shirt. His bedside table was made from a slice of a tree branch and an old wooden spool of thread. The rug was made by cutting a rectangle from an old sweater. The tea cup was from a second-hand store.

Tea Cup Mouse snuggles under handkerchief

Leo loves his super soft handkerchief blanket. The handkerchief is vintage and the tea cup was a thrift store find.

Playful Tea Cup Mouse On The Move

This adorable mouse loves to play!

 MYO Tea Cup Mouse Kit

Three ways to give.

1. Make and give the finished mouse for a special gift.

2. Give a kit with pre-cut pieces and all the rest of the supplies, tea cup and all for a child to make for his or her self. Precutting the pieces might be necessary for younger children. Work together with him or her.

3. Give a kit with the pattern and all the rest of the supplies and let them have the fun of making a mouse friend just the way they want it. You might supply a few different pieces of scrap fabric for them to choose from. Give support as needed.

How to:

The first thing you will need to do is gather supplies.

You will need:

Salvaged fabric for the head and body of the mouse. No need to go out and buy any fabric; you only need a little from a past project or salvaged from an old pair of pants or shirt…

A washable marker for tracing your stencil on fabric.

Scissors for cutting the fabric.

Scrap pieces of felt for the mouse’s hands, feet and ears.

Embroidery floss of some type to embroider on the whiskers, nose and eyes and an embroidery needle. Or a black permanent marker to draw on the face. Tiny black pompoms could also be used for the nose and eyes.

Tea Cup Mouse can't wait until Christmas

This is Leo’s friend Lola. She can’t wait until Christmas! Her mouth, whiskers, and nose were drawn on and the eyes are pins that have the tip cut off. The pins make cute eyes but are not appropriate to use as a toy. Ears, hands and feet can be glued on for easier construction but I like to sew on pieces for a more secure attachment. Her scarf was made from a sweater that I felted. Just snip the ends to make the ends fringed. I included a felted wool blanket as well. She snuggles in a second-hand cup.

Some piece of thin rope or leather cord to use as a tail.

Some kind of stuffing. I used dryer lint and a little dry rice.

Needle and thread for hand sewing.

A sewing machine for sewing the main body and head pieces.

MYO Tea Cup Mouse cutting fabric

Cutting out the pieces.

You will need a Tea Cup Mouse pattern.*

*Because it takes a tremendous amount of time for me to develop projects like this, design and draw a pattern, test ideas, make, take pictures, edit pictures, write the how to, etc… I’m asking for a mere 2 dollars (see side donation button for quick payment with paypal). Send me an e-mail and I’ll send a pdf file with the pattern right out to you.

Use stencil to make your own card board stencil. A cereal box works well. Trace the body and head on your fabric. Cut two at a time if possible.

MYO Tea Cup Mouse machine sewing

Sew the head. Sew the two head pieces (right sides together) using a sewing machine. Use the edge of your foot (sewing machine foot) as a guide. Keep the edges of the fabric running along the edge of the foot. You only want a narrow seam.

MYO Tea Cup Mouse body and head

Sew the body. Again with right sides together, sew around the body leaving a hole for the head. You will want a narrow seam allowance here too (not to exceed 1/4 inch). 

Trim the corners (A’s in the picture). Be careful not to cut your stitching. Also, clip the inner curve a few times (at B in picture).

Turn the pieces right side out.

MYO Tea Cup Mouse adding tail

Add the tail. Use a mechanical pencil or other sharp object to make a hole on the backside of the mouse. Tie a knot in the cord. Put the tail through the hole you just made. The knot should be on the inside of the mouse and the tail should extend out the back of the mouse.

Stuff the body. Next add some rice into the body of the mouse until it is about 1/4th full. The rice isn’t necessary but I like the way it gives the mouse weight and help it stand. Loosely fill the rest of the mouse and the head with dryer lint.

MYO Tea Cup Mouse adding a head

Connect head to body. Tuck in the raw edges of the body and stick in the head. Pin in place. Hand sew together sewing around the head.

MYO Tea Cup Mouse adding hands...

Sew on the hands, feet, and ears.

MYO Tea Cup Mouse adding smile

Embroider facial features. Use an embroidery needle and some black embroidery floss to make the mouth, nose and eyes. Use a French knot for each eye. Alternatively use a permanent marker to draw on the mouth, nose, eyes and whiskers.

MYO Tea Cup Mouse complete

Have a blast making the mouse a quilt, pillow, clothes, scarf, hat, whatever.

Mixed Matched Place Settings For Your Family: Teaching Responsibility To Children One Meal At A Time

As a parent, are you tired of finding dishes all about the house? Do your kids claim that they aren’t theirs? Avoid squabbling and teach responsibility by providing unique dinnerware to everyone in your family. A fun thing to do is to go to yard sales or thrift stores allowing each member of your family to pick out a plate, cup or glass, bowl, fork, knife, spoon (anything they will need). That way they will like what they have. Don’t get carried away and get lots of accessories; start with the bare minimum. The key is to use one of a kind items so kids will not mistake another’s for their own. Also, you don’t want the kids reaching into the cabinet for another plate when they can’t find their own. After each use, everyone should wash their own dishes by hand.

I’m trying to teach responsibility and self reliance to my children without a lot of nagging. It’s been two weeks and I’m seeing an improvement.

Mix n Match place Settings

Set your table with mixed and unmatched plates and cups. Most of the tableware in the above photo came from the thrift store.

You might also try this technique with bath towels. Even if your kids don’t have to wash their own towels, they won’t be allowed to keep grabbing a new one while leaving the old one on the floor somewhere.

On a side note, I threw a dinner party one time and used mixed matched plates because of the large amount of guests. It turned out to be fun; I let the guests pick where they wanted to sit.

Finding Salamanders for Fun and Study: Where to Look and How To Handle For Your Safety And Theirs

Northern Two Lined Salamander

Lungless salamanders, like the one above, breathe through the mucous membrane in their mouth and throat and through their skin. Moisture is especially important to lungless salamanders, because their skin must be wet in order to absorb oxygen. These animals like to stay protected but may venture out when the air is very humid. I guess that is why we found him out on that drizzly day.

Northern Two Lined Salamander

Northern two-lined salamander found not too far from my house. Isn’t it cute?

Here is an activity to get the kids outside. Take them on a fun salamander hunt. Your kids probably won’t need much convincing but you can get them excited by telling them a few cool facts about salamanders.

1. Salamanders can drop off their tails to escape predators. This is called tail autotomy. The disconnected tale wiggles around and provides a distraction so the salamander can escape.

2. Salamanders can grow back a missing tail! It can also re-grow a missing leg!!

3. Salamanders regularly shed the outer layer of their skin (the epidermis) as they grow, and then eat it.

4. The skin of salamanders secretes mucus, which helps keep the animal moist when not in the water.

5. Salamanders can secrete poison from glands in their skin in order to be an undesirable meal. (more about that below)

Where to look for salamanders

Because a salamander’s skin must stay moist, look for adult salamanders in places where the earth is damp such as: under leaves, under logs, or near a wetland (stream, pond, swamp, marsh). If you do look under logs, be sure to replace the log back the way you found it being careful not to squish any living organism in the process.

Because salamanders are nocturnal (which means they are active mostly at night), you might also try hunting at night.

Perhaps you have come across one while doing yard work, working in your garden or while hiking through the woods.

Northern Two Lined Salamander on my finger

Most salamanders have four toes on their front legs and five on their rear legs. This guy has 5 toes on its back legs; they are just hard to see in this photo.

Be kind to these little critters:

Handling suggestions for salamanders

Make sure you wash your hands before and after touching a salamander (or any amphibian). Wash your hands beforehand to remove any moisturizing lotion, suntan lotion, insect repellent, soap residue, or toxins from other amphibians. Salamanders are very sensitive to such things.

Handling should be kept to a minimum. When I show salamanders to children, I like to let the salamander walk on my hand rather than me “holding it”. You don’t want to squeeze any part of its delicate body.

Salamanders need to be kept cool. Also, they shouldn’t be left out in the sun because their skin will dry out. Mist its skin as necessary.

Never hold a salamander by its tail; it can break off. Although it can grow it back, it’s better for it not to have to.

Protect yourself:

Always wash your hands after handling amphibians because they have glands in their skin that secrete chemicals. (Salamanders, frogs, toads and newts are amphibians.)

Some of these chemicals are very nasty tasting. Your dog or cat may have discovered this. (That guy just didn’t want to be eaten.)

Some chemicals may cause skin or eye irritation. Don’t take any chances, wash your hands.

Some may actually kill (the poison-dart frogs of Central America).

Among the native amphibians of the United States, the two amphibians of greatest concern are giant toads (also called cane toads, marine toads, aga toads; Bufo marinus)- Common in some parts of FL. and the western newts of the genus, Taricha (found on the west coast of the U.S.).

Proper hand washing after handling should also prevent any problems with infection from Salmonella (bacteria that makes you sick).

This website http://therealowner.com/reptiles-amphibians/caring-for-salamanders/

Has good advice on how to care for your temporary “pet” once you find it.

For more information presented in a kid friendly way, check out this website:

http://www.thorp.k12.wi.us/~steinbach/limnology_oceanography/student_work/Salamanders/index.html