Spring Kids Craft, Edible Birds Nests

Denver Botanic Gardens.

Edible Birds Nests.

When I taught After School Enrichment classes for grades 3-5, one of the projects we made was Edible Birds Nests. I didn’t take good pictures–think sticky-from-marshmallows-hands–so credit must be given to D Magazine’s Jessica Jones for these project photos.

Edible Birds Nests are easy, fun and perfect for celebrating Spring. Need an Easter activity for a party? This one is egg-cellent!

Gather ingredients.

Mold chow mein/melted marshmallow mixture into a cupcake tin.

 

Once the Birds Nests have hardened in the fridge, pop them out of the cupcake tin and fill with jellybean eggs.

A teeny-tiny nest with one egg is perfect as a cupcake topper. (thanks, Jessica Jones, for the suggestion.)

EDIBLE NESTS RECIPE (yields about 12 cupcake-sized nests)

Ingredients:

•1/4 cup butter

•3 cups marshmallows

•5 cups chow mein noodles

•Cooking spray

•Candy to fill nests

Directions:

1. Melt butter and marshmallows together over medium-low heat. Remove from heat.

2. Add chow mein noodles, and mix til combined.

3. Spray a cupcake tin with cooking spray, as well as your fingers. Mold the mixture into nest shapes in the cupcake tin.

4. Place in freezer for at least an hour. Remove nests using a knife.

5. Fill with your choice of candy.

Source: DMagazine

DIY Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Wrapped and ready to give out.

Wrapped and ready to give out.

Go from this…

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to this…

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in four easy steps!

Four-Step Favors

Need a quick and easy idea for favors, goodie bags or stocking stuffers? These sweet-n-salty snacks are so yummy, my family couldn’t wait to eat the duds and broken pieces.

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Ingredients:

pretzel logs

chocolate discs (click here to see Wilton’s Candy Melts)

sprinkles, cookies to crush and/or sparkly sugar

wax or parchment paper

Prep:

Pour sprinkles into pans with sides. I used several 9″ x 11″ dishes for different sprinkles. Line baking dishes with wax or parchment paper so finished pretzels can dry.

Directions:

  1. Melt chocolate discs in microwave according to package directions. I used several flavors and melted one flavor at a time. (Tip. I microwaved the discs a little less time than recommended and stirred to finish melting the discs. Over doing it in the microwave causes the chocolate to get “sandy” and then it’s not usable.)
  2. Spoon melted chocolate over half a pretzel log.
  3. Immediately either roll the chocolate part in the sprinkles or spoon the sprinkles on top of the chocolate. Rolling is more efficient, but the melted chocolate drips into the sprinkles and makes the sprinkles globby. I ended up spooning decorations on top of chocolate.
  4. Line pretzels up on baking dish to dry. Drizzle melted chocolate over the bare half of the pretzel.

After all the pretzels are decorated, refrigerate them until the chocolate has hardened. Since I made these at night, I refrigerated them overnight (although they’d probably be fine in an hour) and wrapped them the next morning.

Melt chocolate in microwave.

1. Melt chocolate discs in microwave.

Spoon chocolate over half of each pretzel, then spoon sprinkles over melted chocolate.

2. Spoon chocolate over half of each pretzel.  3. Spoon sprinkles over melted chocolate.

 

 

 

 

 

Line pretzel logs on a baking sheet. Crushed cookies and sugar were used as well as sprinkles.

4. Line pretzel logs on a baking sheet. Crushed cookies and sparkly sugar were used as well as sprinkles.

Drizzle melted chocolate over bare half of pretzels.

4 continued. Drizzle melted chocolate over bare half of pretzels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These were such a hit, I’ll definitely be making them again!

Happy Holidays, hon!

Glass Class

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Glass rods in a Venice studio.

Glass fusing isn’t just for kids!

Thanks to a SCBWI meet up a few years ago, I discovered a fun place to fuse glass. Most recently, I visited Fire Me Up Studio in Cranford, New Jersey with my daughter and friends. We picked our projects, donned our goggles and gloves, and went to work scoring, snapping and breaking glass. We needed instruction. We needed patience. We needed a snack!

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Glass rods glued to a glass base. The glue burns off when glass is fired.

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My daughter’s rainbow design slumped into a bowl.

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Before. (Do you “see” my inspiration?)

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After. (If you guessed the beach, you were right.)

Fire Me Up Studio: Glass fusing as well as pottery painting, hand building and canvas painting, Cranford, NJ.

Glassworks Studio: A DIY glass fusing studio, Morristown, NJ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DIY Graduation Party, Mason Jar Centerpieces

Mason jar centerpieces.

Mason jar centerpieces.

I admit it. I love mason jars!

I’ve decorated mason jars in the past and will use them again in the future. I collected centerpiece ideas on Pinterest, then Grad #1 and I put ours together.

Graduation Party Mason Jar Centerpieces How-To

  1. Figure out how many mason to use, and use your own or purchase jars at a craft store.
  2. Measure diameter of jars to figure out how much burlap, or other trim, will be needed. I decided to use a wide burlap ribbon on a tall mason jar to balance the size of the pennants.
  3. Design pennants and print out on card stock. My in-house graphic design guy, aka Hubby, used Adobe Illustrator. There are also sites that offer free, downloadable graduation designs. We found a variety of graduation designs on the site Lil Sprout (Greetings).Cut out pennants.
  4. Hot-glue dowels to back of pennants. Trim pennants to desired height with garden clippers.
  5. Decide on additional decorations. Red Gerber Daisies were a must for our centerpieces, and we added foam graduation sticker-decorated dowels. (Tip: I ran out of dowels but created new ones by hot-gluing craft sticks together. Call me resourceful!)
  6. Weight the mason jars and anchor the pennants with glass marbles. (Tip: I added a small amount of water to each jar so the Gerber Daisies wouldn’t wilt.)
  7. Set tables and enjoy!
Pennants printed on card stock and dowels.

Pennants printed on card stock and dowels.

Decide on which width ribbon works on what size jar.

Choose ribbon based on size of jars.

Measure and cut burlap ribbon.

Measure and cut burlap ribbon.

 

Wrap burlap ribbon around jar and hot glue ends together.

Wrap burlap ribbon around jar and hot glue ends together.

DIY Silk Flower Arrangement

DIY Silk Flower Arrangement

DIY Silk Flower Arrangement

Flower Power

Middle grade author Darlene Beck-Jacobson generously offered to share tips on visiting classrooms via Skype. Since we were talking about school, it wasn’t a stretch for me to Show and Tell. When I held up my latest creation, she invited me to post How-To instructions on her blog. Click here to check out my guest post on her blog Gold From The Dust: Bringing Stories to Life, where you will find photos and instructions on how to create your own DIY silk flower arrangement.

Darlene is the author of Wheels of Change, a middle grade historical novel. Click here to learn more about her book.

Thanks Darlene, have fun crafting, and happy Mother’s Day!

Pretty peonies!

Pretty peonies.

DIY Back-to-School Stress Ball

DIY Stress Balls

DIY Stress Balls

Back-to-School

Are you anxious about a new school year? Know any kids that are dreading homework? Not in school, but could use something besides yoga breaths to release stress? My daughter made her Stress Ball at camp and, since I liked it so much, she taught me how to make my own.  It’s sooo fun to squish!

When my daughter was helping me fill the balloon, I said, “Wow, I didn’t think it could fit that much flour.” My teen daughter replied (visualize an eye roll and sarcastic voice), “Mom, it’s a balloon.”

Point taken.

Supplies: a balloon, flour, spoon, permanent markers, pom-pom optional

Supplies: a balloon, flour, spoon, permanent markers, pom-pom optional

1. Fill balloon with flour.

1. Fill balloon with flour.

2. Knot balloon closed. Draw on face. Tie pom pom to balloon under the knot.

2. Knot balloon closed. Draw face. Tie pom-pom to balloon under the knot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DIY Stress Ball Supplies:

–balloon

–flour

–spoon

–permanent markers

–pom-pom, optional

Stress Ball Directions:

  1. Two people are needed.  One person holds the balloon open and one spoons in the flour. Flour will get everywhere, so fill over a bowl or plate. We used a lot of flour, filling until the balloon reached a squishiness we liked.
  2. Knot the balloon closed.  Draw a face.  Tie a pom-pom around the balloon knot, making sure the pom-pom knot is secured under the balloon knot.

Pom-Pom Supplies:

–yarn or string, same or different colors

–cardboard (we used an old cereal box)

–scissors

Pom-Pom Directions:

  1. Fold a piece of cardboard in half.  Trace a circle around a glass.  Draw another circle inside, about 1 to 11/2 inches from first circle. Cut out circles.
  2. Starting with about 2 arm spans of yarn, wrap yarn around doubled cardboard circles. If you run out of yarn and/or want to change colors, attach a new piece of yarn to old one and continue wrapping.
  3. When yarn has been wrapped around cardboard circles several times, slip a scissors between the circles.  Cut the outer perimeter of yarn.
  4. Slip a separate piece of yarn between the cardboard circles. Keeping that piece of yarn taught, draw it to the center of circles.
  5. Hold pom-pom yarn still while bringing taught yarn ends completely around circles. Tie tightly and knot. Remove pom-pom from cardboard.
  6. Keep ends of knotted yarn hanging out. They will be used to secure the pom-pom to the balloon Stress Ball.

 

1. Fold a piece of cardboard in half. Trace a circle within a circle. Cut out circles.

1. Fold a piece of cardboard in half. Trace a circle within a circle, about 1 to 1/2 ” from 1st circle. Cut out circles.

2. Wrap yarn around doubled cardboard circles.

2. Wrap yarn around doubled cardboard circles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3. Slip scissors between cardboard and cut around perimeter of outer circles.

3. Slip scissors between cardboard and cut around perimeter of outer circles.

4. Slip a separate piece of between the cardboard circles and draw to center.

4. Slip a separate piece of yarn between the cardboard circles. Keeping that piece of yarn taught, draw it to the center of circles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5. Cinch separate piece of yarn tight. Knot that yarn, securing the cut yarn in the middle. Remove pom-pom from cardboard.

5. Hold pom-pom yarn still while bringing taught yarn ends completely around circles. Tie tightly and knot. Remove pom-pom from cardboard.

6. Keep end of knotted yarn hanging out. They will be used to secure the pom-pom to the balloon.

6. Keep ends of knotted yarn hanging out. They will be used to secure the pom-pom to the balloon Stress Ball.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stress Balls hanging out.

Stress Balls hanging out.

Stress Balls with personalities.

Stress Balls with personalities.

Easy DIY Summer Treasure Jars and Highlights Article

Decorated Mason Jars.

Decorated Mason Jars.

DIY Summer Treasure Jars

Camp visiting days are an opportunity for kids to show and tell. They’re also a great source of craft ideas. This year, I was particularly excited about the Treasure Jars so I included them in my Highlights article, 12 Ways to Reboot Your Summer. My daughter said the camp provided glow-in-the-dark paint. Turn out the lights and let summer memories shine!

Supplies:

–mason or mayonnaise jar

–any combination of stickers, pom-poms, paint, paint markers, permanent markers, colored tape and feathers

–craft glue that adheres to glass

Directions:

–Decorate jars.

–Add summer keepsakes such as seashells, souvenirs, movie stubs, show stubs, cards, letters, etc.

–For a personalized touch, label with name and year.

Party Favors or Take Home Party Activity:

How fun would these DIY Treasure Jars be as a take-home party activity for ages 8 and up? Or, decorate smaller jars, fill with candy, and hand out as party favors. Come to think of it, that’s just what I did a few months ago. Check out Quick and Easy Candy Jars to see how I carried the middle school musical, Little Shop of Horrors, theme through the candy jars. Hon, you know I love a theme!

Colorful tape, stickers, paint markers, paint, pom poms and thread were used to decorate these jars.

Colorful tape, stickers, paint markers, paint, pom poms and feathers were used to decorate these jars.

 

Quick and Easy Candy Jars

Mason Jar

Candy Jar

Little Shop of Horrors Congratulations Goodies

In my last post, Creative Cupcakes (Little Shop of Horrors), I experimented with fondant. I admit it. It’ll be awhile before I make cupcakes as elaborate as those again. If you want quick and easy favors, give-aways, congratulations goodies or party activities, these DIY Candy Jars are a cinch to put together.

In lieu of gift cards for my middle schooler’s friends, I decided to make my own Congratulations Goodies. I already owned the mason jars, ordered the candy, and asked my in-house graphic designer (aka Hubby) to print labels.

The result? Sweet gifts for a creepy show–creepy in a good way!

Hon, you know what this means? I LOVE a theme!

Here’s what you need to make your own Quick and Easy Candy Jars:

Mason Jars–available at craft stores

Candy–candy and colors to go with your theme, I used green M & M’s and Frankford Gummy Body Parts Candy

Labels and Ribbon (optional)

That’s It.  Happy DIY’ing! (and enjoy some show pics)

Gummy body parts.

Gummy body parts.

Labels.

Labels.

Fill the jar.

Fill the jars.

 

Audrey II, the man-eating plant, in Little Shop of Horrors.

Little Shop of Horrors’ man-eating plant, Audrey II. See what I mean by creepy?

Seymour and Urchins.

Seymour and Urchins on Skid Row.

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Curtain Call.

Curtain Call.

My little Urchin!

My little Urchin!

 

 

DIY Floral Arrangement

DIY Floral Arrangement

DIY Floral Arrangement

I love flowers and so does a friend who just celebrated her birthday.

When it comes to flowers, I usually just trim stems and place flowers in a vase.  But I got in the mood to dress up a pretty, ceramic bowl. This easy DIY Floral Arrangement is a perfect birthday, holiday or hostess gift as well as a centerpiece idea.

Happy creating (and Happy Holidays), hon!

Oasis floral foam.

Oasis floral foam.

Carnations and daisies.

Carnations and daisies.

 

 

 

 

 

Oasis cut to fit in small bowl.

Oasis cut to fit in  bowl.

Pretty in Peach!

Pretty in Peach!

 

 

 

 

 

Birthday bouquet.

Birthday bouquet.

Supplies:

1.  Vessel–this could be a bowl, vase, mug, glass or anything else you want to give as a gift.

2.  Floral Foam (Oasis)–can be purchased at a gardening center or craft store.

3.  Flowers–they must have sturdy enough stems to withstand being pushed into the foam.  I chose smaller flowers to complement the size of the bowl.

4.  Tape–the gardening center didn’t have floral tape so I used Scotch Tape.

5.  Pruning Shears or Scissors.

Steps:

1.  Cut floral foam to fit vessel.

2.  Sit foam in vessel and tape in place so it won’t shift.

3.  Trim flower stems to desired lengths.

4.  Insert flowers in foam, carefully, starting in the center and working your way out.

5.  Water flowers by pouring water in space between foam and vessel wall.  The foam will absorb a lot of water.  Holding flowers in place, pour off excess water.

Related Post:  DIY Clean-Lines Centerpiece

Please let me know if you have any floral arranging tips. I’d love to hear from you!

Mischievous-looking gnomes caught my eye at the garden center.

Mischievous-looking mini gnomes caught my eye at the garden center.

 

 

 

DIY Clean-Lines Centerpiece

DIY Centerpiece

DIY Clean-Lines Centerpiece

Last month, Hubby and I hosted a big family event.  Hon, you know what I love about a party besides celebrating happy occasions with friends and family?  The theme!  I love coordinating colors and carrying the theme through the details. It fires up my imagination.

Since the theme of the party was Broadway shows, the Manhattan skyline became a design element on the favors, large scale decorations and the centerpieces. I created the vessels and then handed them off to florist Kristen Carlberg*, who brought my vision of happy, bright, colorful bouquets to life.  I must give a shout out to my good friend, Ina Wallman*.  Not only does she have an exquisite eye for design, she helped me focus my many ideas into one cohesive plan.

Each table was set with cream tablecloths and fuchsia napkins.  Round tables featured one larger (6 inches by 6 inches) centerpiece while larger oval tables featured three smaller (5 inches by 5 inches) centerpieces, lined up in a row.

*If you are interested in getting in touch with florist, Kristen Carlberg or interior designer, Ina Wallman, please leave a comment or email me at bmoreenergy@gmail.con and we’ll exchange contact info.

Happy decorating, hon!

Supplies:

–Unfinished wooden boxes. I bought mine at G & G Distributors, a wholesale floral and craft store and website.

–White paint.  I used leftover water-based wall paint, semi-gloss.

–Paintbrushes or foam brushes.

–Drop cloth.

–Decorations to wrap around the boxes.

–Varnish, optional. (I didn’t varnish the boxes, but wish I did.  Water-based paint tends to run when water touches it.)

–Glass inserts for flowers and water. The florist supplied these.  She measured the insides of the boxes ahead of time so she’d know what sizes to get.  The unfinished wooden boxes came with thin, plastic liners.  If I was using floral green foam, then the plastic liners might have sufficed, but they wouldn’t hold cut flowers in water.

Steps:

–Gather supplies, including wrap-around stickers or whatever you are using for decorating the boxes.  Hubby has a talent for graphic design so he worked up a Manhattan skyline and ordered the custom-designed stickers an online site.  Or a paper design (not on paper that’s too thin) that coordinates with your theme can be used.  Paper designs can be secured around the perimeter of the boxes using craft glue.

–Measure designs by wrapping them around boxes and cutting them to fit.  They’ll be ready to apply once the boxes are painted and dry.

–Paint boxes and dry thoroughly.

–Apply designs.

–Varnish, optional.

–Add glass inserts and flowers.

–Set your tables and enjoy!

1. Unfinished wooden boxes were painted white with leftover wall paint.

Unfinished wooden boxes were painted with leftover water-based, semi gloss wall paint.

2. Custom-designed stickers were wrapped around each fully-dried, painted box.

Custom-designed stickers were wrapped around each fully-dried, painted box.

Boxes decorated with wrap-around stickers.

Boxes decorated with wrap-around stickers.

Three 5" x 5" boxes were lined up on oval tables. One 6" x 6" box was set in the center of round tables.

Three 5″ x 5″ boxes were lined up on oval tables. One 6″ x 6″ box was set in the center of round tables.

The florist measured the insides of the boxes, so she could pick up the correct sized glass inserts.

The florist measured the insides of the boxes, so she could pick up the correct sized glass inserts.

I love the contrast of the colorful flowers against the white box.

I love the contrast of the colorful flowers against the clean lines of the white box.

Bright, pretty, happy!

Bright, pretty, happy!