Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cute Wooden Handicraft: Make a String of Hearts

Everyone loves heart-shaped decorations. This cute wooden handicraft can be hung over a doorway or as part of a wall display. Paint the hearts red, pink, and white, and you will have a decoration for Valentines' Day. Paint them red and green for Christmas, or red, white, and blue to display love for America. You can leave it plain for a natural look. The string of hearts wooden handicraft fits well with country style furnishings.

To make the string of hearts, you will need 5 wooden heart cut-outs approximately three inches wide, a drill with an eighth inch bit and a quarter inch bit, a small amount of raffia, two yards of 1 -1/2 inch wide soft ribbon, two large wooden beads, and acrylic paints in the colors you want. The ribbon and the beads should match the color sceme you desire. Plaid ribbons are particularly effective. The string of hearts has five hearts side by side tied together with small raffia bows. The first and last hearts have the wide ribbon strung through a hole on each side and a bead strung on the ribbon. The ribbon is knotted at the very ends, making a loop of ribbon on each end which can fit over a nail for hanging.

The first step in making the wooden handicraft is to drill a small hole on each side of the hearts. The two outside holes are made with the quarter inch bit, and the other holes are made with the 1/8 inch bit. Now paint the hearts with the acrylic paint in the colors you desire. Acrylic paints are the small bottles of craft paint that are sold in 2-ounce bottles in a wide variety of colors. They can sometimes be purchased very inexpensively. Tempera paint will work if you can't get acrylic paints. Another idea is to spray paint them, especially if you want to use a metallic color.

When the paint is dry, tie the hearts together with the raffia. To do this, cut four 10-inch lengths of raffia. Thread the raffia down into one hole and up through the hole on the next heart so that they lay side by side. The raffia should be tied in a neat bow on the top of the arrangement. Do the same between the rest of the hearts so that all the small raffia bows are on top. Trim the raffia ends if necessary.

Through each of the outside holes, thread one of the ribbons. Pull the ribbon through until the ends are even. Thread the large bead over both ends and slip it up close to the heart. Trim the ends of the ribbon decoratively and knot them. Repeat the process on the other side to complete the wooden handicraft. Now hang the string of hearts wherever desired for a cheerful decoration. A wooden handicraft like this makes a nice gift for someone special.

An Invigorating Family Past Time: Sports Activities

If you are feeling bored, listless, and out of shape, you need a new past time. Sports activities will get your blood pumping and help you get back into shape. Not only will you be getting good exercise but you will be starting a valuable family past time. Sports activities are a great way to spend time with your kids. So get up off the couch, put down that soda, and get out in the yard for a little touch football.

If touch football is not for you, why not play a little kickball with your kids. Set up a diamond similar to a baseball diamond. Now the pitcher rolls a large soft ball, like a playground ball, on the ground to the "batter." Only in kickball, the batter kicks the ball and runs to first base. Since the ball is soft, the fielding team can throw the ball at the runner to get him out. Since the kicker will almost always manage to kick the ball and foul balls are rare, this is a classic game to play with young kids and others who are not very athletic.

A fun family game that makes a good past time sports activity is tetherball. This rousing game can be played with one or two people. Tetherball is called that because the ball is on a tether - it is on a rope tied at the top of a pole. The ball hangs about hand level. The object is to hit the ball and make the rope wrap around the pole. The two players attempt to make the ball go different directions. If you have never played tetherball, you should give it a try. It is really fun! And it really gets you moving (and laughing!)

Sand volleyball may have started on the beaches, but many towns are now installing sand volleyball courts in their public parks. The littler kids can sit in a safe place and play with their sand toys while Mom, Dad, and the older kids hit a beach ball or volleyball back and forth over a net. The sand feels good on bare feet (but not so good inside your shoes!) The kids will enjoy this past time sports.

A cross between volleyball and tennis that many families enjoy is badminton. In this game, the object is to use lightweight rackets to volley a "birdie" back and forth over a net. The birdie looks like a little plastic funnel attached to a firm rubber ball. You hold the birdie by the plastic and drop it onto your racket to serve to the other team. Badminton moves more slowly than tennis and is a leisurely way to get moving with the kids. You'll get some exercise, though!

Kids are naturally energetic and active, making past time sports activities extremely attractive to them. Since parents need to be spending more quality time with their kids as well as needing to get more exercise, too, these vigorous games are a good idea for everyone. Some say that the family that plays together stays together. This could be so, since exercise gets positive hormones flowing in your mind, putting you and everyone else in a better mood. Don't get so competitive that your family past time sports cease to be fun. Just volley that ball or birdie for fun and exercise.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Creative Handicraft: Potholder from Scrap Fabrics

If you need a gift for a special person, or just need some time to unwind, make a creative handicraft. Crafting is therapeutic when you are feeling stressed, and it also can yield a useful or decorative item. Everyone has some measure of creativity, and with modern kits and patterns, a creative handicraft does not have to end in frustration.

If you have a sewing machine, you can learn to make a creative handicraft that will be a useful and welcome gift. Potholders are a great beginning sewing project that can be made from scrap material or unwanted clothing and a bit of double-fold bias tape. Here are the simple instructions for this creative handicraft.

First cut two 8-inch (21 cm.) squares of fabric to be the front and back of the potholder. Choose coordinating fabrics that match your kitchen for these pieces. To make it easier, you can make an 8-inch square pattern from a piece of cardboard to use as a pattern. Cut more 8-inch squares of any old fabric to stack for the filling. You want the stack of fabric squares to be thick enough to protect you from a hot pot, but thin enough to be flexible and able to be sewn through.

Stack all layers so that the outer layers are facing to the outside and the filler layers are inside. You can put a couple of large straight pins through all layers to keep them together. Now sew right across the middle of the stack. Sew across the middle again, perpendicular to the first stitching. You will have divided the square into 4 squares. Sew across the stack again from corner to corner, and again from the other corner to corner. The layers should be joined and sturdy now.

To bind off the raw edges of your creative handicraft, trim with scissors so that all the layers are again even at the edges. Open out one folded edge of the bias tape. The wider bias tape might seem to be easier to use, but the narrow type makes a neater finished product. Starting at one corner, line up the edges of the tape with the edges of the potholder, and start stitching through all layers along the first fold line, which will be about 1/4 inch from the edge. Stitch neatly and slowly, attaching the opened tape all around the edge until you reach the beginning corner. Cut the bias tape off, leaving 3 inches, (7 cm.) to make into a hanging loop.

Fold the bias tape over the raw edge so that the middle fold lines up with the outside of the potholder and the other fold is hiding the raw edge of the bias tape. Now, for best results, hand sew the binding down, forming a loop on your creative handicraft when you get to the end.

This potholder is just one example of a creative handicraft you can create if you have a sewing machine. When it is finished, you will have a useful item made from all recycled materials. Feel free to give this creative handicraft away or keep it for yourself.

Island Holidays: Salt Spray Getaways

There is just something about the ocean breeze and salt spray that makes a holiday on an island something you won't soon forget. Because islands can be found in every ocean and near every continent, island holidays can vary widely. You can lay on a beach or watch whales, study botany or shop native craft stalls. It's all up to you when you plan your island holidays.

North American islands include the Canadian east coast islands of Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. Island holidays to these areas will be filled with unspoiled natural beauty, cool, comfortable temperatures, and whale watching expeditions.

South of these regions is the little island of Bermuda off the eastern U.S. coast. Bermuda is surrounded with hundreds of square miles of reef formations, making snorkeling an interesting activity there. For the less adventurous, you can ride around in a glass bottom boat and view the beautiful undersea world.

Heading on south, we find the Carribean islands. These have long been popular spots for tourists. Here the beaches are white and sandy and the weather is very warm. Up in the interior of these islands, you can find a wide variety of birds and other wildlife. Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Barbados, the Virgin Islands, and many other spots make lovely island holidays. Each island has it's own unique flavor and feel.

Europe has islands of all types nearby which make great spots for island holidays. Visit the isles of Greece and you will see clear seas, quiet beaches, olive groves, and the simple life. Corfu is the choice of those who like up-to-date restaurants and shopping, while Lefkas is popular with wind-surfers and sailors. The Portuguese island of Madeira boasts beautiful weather and one of the lowest crime rates in the world. The Canary Islands, off the coast of Spain, are a popular tourist spot for Europeans.

A new trend in island holidays is eco-tourism. This is traveling in such a way that neither the earth nor the local people you are visiting is harmed in any way. People who are drawn to eco-tourism may enjoy bird-watching, hiking, and other island activities that do not leave an impact on the area.

Everybody dreams of taking island holidays. There are islands all over the world, each offering it's own cultural experience and natural wonders. Many spots for island holidays are still unspoiled and secluded, while others are lively and exciting. Island holidays offer a real diversion from your everyday life.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Have a Toy Game Hobby Night at Your House!

Build family communication and togetherness by having a weekly toy game hobby night. It is so easy these days to let work, school, and the business of life rule the day, that we can easily lose touch with each other. If we get together one night each week for a toy game hobby night, we can rekindle those family ties.

Those families with small children will probably focus more on the toy aspect of the toy game hobby night. Take the time to get down on the floor and play with those youngsters. Cuddle those dollies and call yourself "grandma" or "grandpa." Push those trucks around and pretend right along with the kids. If your back can take it, let them take turns riding you like a horse while you crawl around and neigh. Every kid loves that!

On summer evenings, try toy game hobby night in the sand box at the park. Using an old mesh produce bag, collect a variety of suitable sand toys to take along. These toys include various containers, a few wheeled vehicles, toy garden tools, and cast-off kitchen utensils. In the sandbox with your kids, you can create towns with roads, castles, or just about anything.

Modeling dough is also a great activity for toy game hobby night. Collect some small cookie cutters and old jar lids (for pans) and create fancy cookies and desserts - inedible and calorie-free, of course! The kids can turn a large box on it's side for a counter and place the goodies on display to sell. Of course, you'll pretend to buy, eat, and enjoy!

Some fun games for family night include card games like Uno, board games like Candy Land or Life, and dominoes. When choosing games to play there are several things to consider. Is Scrabble, for instance, fun for everyone, or does all the spelling and thinking feel like work to some of the players? Does the game take forever to play, so that some players' attention spans play out? Does the game encourage merciless competition, like Monopoly, leaving losers feeling left out? It's important for kids to learn how to lose and still have fun. Don't "throw" the game, intentionally letting them win all the time, but don't mercilessly beat them every time either. Make it fun. If losing is a problem for some of the kids, check out some of the new cooperative games where everyone is on the same team.

Hobbies are also great to share as a family. Maybe your family would be interested in pursuing musical skills together. Families make great singing groups because their voices match well. If that's not for you, maybe you'd all enjoy fishing. Square dancing is fun for some families, while others enjoy playing badminton or other active games and sports. The important thing is to have fun together.

Having a toy game hobby night every week will help you stay close to your kids as they grow up. It will keep the bond of love fresh and the lines of communication open. Plan a toy game hobby night this week!

Arts and Crafts Idea: Foam Sheet Glasses Case

Are you a camp director, teacher, or homeschool mom looking for a new arts and crafts idea for your kids? Or maybe you are a recreation director at a senior center or nursing home and could use a new project. Either way, this arts and crafts idea will be interesting and fun for all. This glass case can be used, given as a gift, or converted into a necklace purse.

To make the glasses case, you will need the following simple materials: a square of craft foam, plastic or large blunt needles, lanyard lace or thick yarn. Cut two rectangles from the foam, each 3-1/2 inches (9 cm.) by 6 inches (15 cm.). With a hole punch, make holes on three sides of each rectangle, leaving one short side unpunched. Make the holes 1/2 inch apart and allow at least 1/4 inch between the hole and the edge of the craft foam. The holes need to line up so that the two pieces can be laced together. If you are preparing the craft for small children, you should make the holes yourself. Otherwise, the crafters can do this step if you have enough pairs of hole punches.

At this point the crafters can cut decorative shapes from other colors of craft foam, or you can buy sets of ready-cut foam shapes. If you are doing the craft at a special event, like vacation Bible school, choose shapes that echo the theme of the event. For instance, if the Bible school or camp has a cowboy theme, find shapes that fit well, such as boots, cowboy hats, and stars. Let the kids choose the shapes they like and glue on as desired. You might also like to provide beads or sequins to glue on as well, especially if the crafters are a little older.

The next step in this arts and crafts idea is to thread the plastic needle with the yarn or lanyard lace. Yarn might be a little easier to handle, but lanyard lace is shiny and attractive. In a pinch, some teachers of small children use a bobby pin as a needle. It is certainly a safe alternative. Simply loop the yarn through the opening and use the open end of the bobby pin as if it were the point of the needle. The children can now begin to lace the front and back of the glasses case together.

To turn this arts and crafts idea into a necklace purse, simply attach a piece of lanyard lace to each corner making a long handle. Kids will enjoy using this case as a place to store secret notes and small objects. If they'd rather, they can give the glasses case to a parent, grandparent, or friend who wears glasses. Either way, this arts and crafts idea will be interesting for all.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pin Collecting: A Friendly Obsession

Pins are a hot collectible that offer an added advantage over other collections - they are small and do not take up much room. Pins are available in many motifs and themes. Some of the most collectible themes are Disney characters, sports teams, and Hard Rock Cafe. The first rule of pin collecting is to specialize. If you like the San Diego Padres baseball team, for instance, you can start pin collecting with souvenir pins that celebrate this team. And just because these themes are popular doesn't mean you have to collect them. Be original and collect what you like.

Many pins are centered around modern entertainments, but many pin collecting enthusiasts collect campaign pins from election campaigns. Buttons are a similar item and are collected by many of the same people who do pin collecting. Pins created to advertise businesses and services are also very collectible.

To display pins you have several options. When you wear a jacket with lapels, you can wear a few of your favorite small pins. The same goes for wearing a cowboy hat or a vest. Many pin collectors wear a few on the front of a cowboy hat. Tote bags, purses, and fanny packs are another place where some pins can be displayed.

Of course, as you get into pin collecting, you will soon find that you have too many to wear the entire collection at one time. A bulletin board, perhaps covered with a plain piece of fabric, like dark blue velvet, makes a nice backdrop for a pin collection. The pins can either be pinned into the cork of the bulletin board through the velvet or attached to the velvet first.

Another way to display and store pins is in a notebook. This method works well if you wish to take some of your pins to an event where you can do some trading with other pin collectors. To make the notebook, purchase sheets of hard felt or craft foam. Either punch holes in the side so they fit into a looseleaf binder, or slip the pages into page protectors after attaching the pins to the pages. The type of looseleaf binder that zips closed is the best to use for pin collecting.

Sometimes pins get scratched, especially if they are stored in a notebook arrangement such that they hit each other. The scratches can be smoothed over with a tiny bit of liquid car wax. Future scratching can be avoided by using page protectors in notebook collections.

Pin collecting is a very popular hobby. You can find groups of likeminded people with which to trade pins, making pin collecting a hobby that helps people make friends.