Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Doorknob Mushroom-Fairy Houses

Aren't these DOORKNOB MUSHROOM-FAIRY HOUSES the cutest??? I originally planned to just make mushrooms out of these little wooden knobs, but I just had to paint a little door and window on too. They're just so sweet! L painted hers knobs into multi-colored mushrooms today and they are already out in the garden! So easy and so much fun!

Materials needed:
-small wooden knobs w/ screws
-acrylic paint
-sealant spray
-egg carton (optional)

First, twist the screw into the knobs.

Next, paint your knobs. You can paint them to look like mushrooms or add a few extra details for a fairy house. Even a 3 year old can paint the knob to look like a cute, lil mushroom! 

After your knobs are painted, set them aside to dry. I suggest using an egg carton to prop the knobs up. Next, take them outside to spray with a coat of sealant. (The egg carton works great for this step too!)

Now for the fun part...tuck them away into your fairy garden, in a flower pot or in a wreath. Keep the screws in, just push them into the ground. Adorable! Might as well make a couple extra for family and friends!

If you like this one, you'll be sure to like our JAM JAR FAIRY HOUSES and GNOME HOMES too!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Jam Jar Fairy House / Jam Jar Gnome Home

The other night I had a hard time falling asleep because I couldn't stop brainstorming about how to turn a jar into a fairy house. (Only me...I know.) I knew I wanted to make it so at night the windows and door would light up; the house needed to be sturdy enough to stand up to the elements outdoors; and I wanted to use craft materials we already had around the house. Finally I had a eureka moment...why not use my beloved hot glue gun!?! So many people think hot glue guns are just for gluing things together, but they can add texture and dimension to your work as well. I'm super excited to share with you this simple tutorial for making JAM JAR FAIRY HOUSES & GNOME HOMES! They really are adorable!

Materials needed:
-hot glue gun and glue
-acrylic paints
-preserved moss, tree bark, or dried leaves
-dried flowers 
-a bead or button
-tea lights (battery operated)

First, decide which direction you'd like your jar to stand. For instance, my smallest JAM JAR FAIRY HOUSE stands on its lid, but the larger one (made from an apple sauce jar) stands upright. Using your hot glue gun, "draw" a door and windows on your house. Then, fill in the walls of the house with vertical lines of your hot glue. Try to draw them on in long, fluid strokes, but the house by no means needs to be perfect. Each lil blip or quirk, will give your fairy house more character!

Next, paint the inside of the jar where your windows and door are located. Keep in mind that you'll want some light to shine through at night, so don't pick colors too dark or layer the paint too thick. 

After you've painted the inside, paint the outside of the jar brown. Carefully go around each window and the doorway. 

After the paint dries, the final step is gluing on dried moss and some tiny dried flowers. For our little jam jar fairy house, I glued moss on the top of the house (bottom of the jar) and along the edges of the lid. You can find preserved moss at your local craft store or, if you like, just use natural materials found in your own backyard...twigs, tree bark, fallen leaves, helicopter seeds, acorns. 

You can display your fairy houses inside or outside. To light them up at night, just place a little, battery operated, tea light inside. Enjoy!

If you're giving a JAM JAR FAIRY HOUSE away as a gift, don't forget to include some fairies and some fairy furniture tucked away inside the jar!

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Mud Kitchen

Our MUD KITCHEN might just be my favorite kids' project yet! I've been dreaming of building one for L since late last Summer and this Spring we went for it! Collecting things and building it was definitely fun for me...I love scouring antique shops and junk stores with an idea in mind. And now L has a blast playing in her MUD KITCHEN nearly every day! She's always loved digging in her dirt pit, so we set the mud kitchen up right beside it. 

Materials needed:
-old pots and pans, muffin pan, mixing bowls, old tea set
-cooking utensils and/or garden tools
-old rags
-shelving unit

The best places to find things for your MUD KITCHEN are yard sales, flea markets, antique and junk stores. If you find a water-proof set of shelves or little bench, that would work great! We ended up making ours out of some lumber and cinder blocks. L helped sand and paint the wood, I painted two lil burners on the top pieces, and we finished it off with a few coats of polyurethane. I love that L was able to make it her own! 

We found this perfect mirror to attach to the kitchen for only $15 at a local antique store. I wanted a mirror for a bit of a "kitchen window" effect, plus it makes our tiny yard look a bit bigger! It was the only one I could find that had a wooden backing to it...most others were particle board or cardboard. Our mud kitchen is up against our house, a little bit protected by the weather, but when it pours rain the kitchen still gets wet. Make sure everything on your kitchen is more-or-less waterproof. 

Along with the burners I painted on top of the mud kitchen, we also attached two lil knobs (to turn the stove and oven on, of course)! You can find knobs really cheap at your local Habitat for Humanity or at your local hardware store. Since ours were attached to solid wood, I just glued them on with some superglue. So far it's worked great!

On the side of our mud kitchen, we attached two cute lil hooks. Again, we found them at a local antique/junk store for $1. They couldn't be more perfect! L hangs her lil dish rags on there and when she's all done playing with her kitchen each day, I have her clean it up. She brushes the dirt off with a dry rag, follows up with a wet rag, and she puts all her pots and pans away. 

Like many activities like this, my biggest tip to you would be to withhold some of the kitchen supplies, giving your kids a lil more day by day. On the first day I gave L her pot, pan, and mixing bowls. On the second day, we added an empty milk carton, egg carton and vanilla bottle. After that, we threw in a muffin pan and some old silicon muffin cups. I have an old child's tea set I'm saving for a special day as well. Keep things interesting and mix it up! 

Sparkle bottles would be a fun addition to your mud kitchen too! Not to mention, making some potions out there as well. (Tell me I'm not the only one who mixed up "magic potions" with water, dirt, wild onions and herbs as a kid!)

How much would your child LOVE a mud kitchen??? Mmm...mmm...mud pies, mud spaghetti, dirt scrambled eggs, mud muffins...

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

DIY Ant Farm

I'm so super excited to share this project with you. ANT FARMS are fun to make and fascinating to observe with your little ones! L and I have been staring at our jar all day, reading kids books on insects, watching some National Geographic clips on ants, and we've found some fun facts along the way. Within the first 24 hrs of placing your ants inside your DIY ANT FARM, they will dig tunnels and make chambers right before your eyes! 

The ants you collect will most likely be "worker ants" and all worker ants are female...pretty amazing! Most ant colonies contain one queen ant who lays all the eggs, male ants whose only job is to make babies with the queen, and worker ants who gather food, dig tunnels, and protect the colony. When collecting ants you want to be sure to only collect ants from one colony, otherwise the ants will fight to their death inside your jar. 

Materials needed:
-large jar (pickle jar)
-small jar (jam jar or spice jar)
-loose, sandy soil (Cactus/Citrus Soil works great!)
-small jar or cup
-jam or sugar water

To make your ant farm, place the small jar upside down, inside the larger jar. 

Next, carefully spoon the soil into the jar. L would place a spoonful on the top of the little jar and then brush the soil down along the sides. It does not have to be packed tightly, just filled to the top.

To collect ants, put about one tsp. of sugar water or jam into a separate jar or cup and place it outside on its side. This is your ant trap. You may want to set a few ant traps around your garden and be patient. It can take a few days for the ants to discover your bait, but once they do many will follow!

After your ant farm is made and the ants have been caught, quickly and carefully dump your ants inside your ant farm and screw on the cap. You'll want about 10-20 ants. I think we have about 5 ants in our takes a couple minutes to find them, but works just fine! They are busy digging all those tunnels and chambers all by themselves!

Once a week, open the lid to your jar and place a few drops of sugar water and/or a couple pieces of bird seed. You don't want to feed them too much, once a week is plenty! When you open your jar to feed the ants, plenty of fresh oxygen will enter the jar as need for holes! Keep your ant farm indoors, not too hot and not too cold, away from direct sunlight. 

For more info on ants, check out some books at your local library and click here to see some fascinating photos and videos from National Geographic! Enjoy!!!