Welcome! Thank you for stopping by our page! I'm a 36 year old educated stay at home mother of a energetic 3 year old boy who keeps me on my toes! I like to research all sorts of craft ideas, recipes, activities for my son, home remedies, DIY, all the best freebies, deals, coupons, and more! God Bless The USA!


Kenley's Kiddie Corner

FINGER PAINTS: 3 T sugar; 1/2 t salt; 1/2 cup corn starch; 2 cups water. Combine ingredients in small saucepan. Warm until mixture thickens. Cool. Pour in containers & add food coloring to create desired colors.
 Put a few different colors of fingerpaint between two pieces of waxed paper and tape the edges together. Children can smear the colors around! Lots of fun and a great way to fingerpaint without the mess!

SILLY PUTTY: Elmer’s Glue® (8 oz bottle of Elmer’s Glue-All); Borax (a powdered soap found in the grocery store); Large mixing bowl; Plastic cup (8 oz size works well); Spoon;Measuring cup;Food coloring (the spice of life);Water ;Paper towel (hey, you’ve got to clean up!);Zipper-lock bag (don’t you want to keep it when you’re done?) ;Empty plastic soda bottle with cap;Water.
Here’s the easiest way to make a big batch Elmer’s Slime. The measurements do not have to be exact but it’s a good idea to start with the proportions below for the first batch. Just vary the quantities of each ingredient to get a new and interesting batch of goo.
This recipe is based on using a brand new 8 ounce bottle of Elmer’s Glue. Empty the entire bottle of glue into a mixing bowl. Fill the empty bottle with warm water and shake (okay, put the lid on first and then shake). Pour the glue-water mixture into the mixing bowl and use the spoon to mix well.
Go ahead… add a drop or two of food coloring.
Measure 1/2 cup of warm water into the plastic cup and add a teaspoon of Borax powder to the water. Stir the solution – don’t worry if all of the powder dissolves. This Borax solution is the secret linking agent that causes the Elmer’s Glue molecules to turn into slime.
While stirring the glue in the mixing bowl, slowly add a little of the Borax solution. Immediately you’ll feel the long strands of molecules starting to connect. It’s time to abandon the spoon and use your hands to do the serious mixing. Keep adding the Borax solution to the glue mixture (don’t stop mixing) until you get a perfect batch of Elmer’s slime. You might like your slime more stringy while others like firm slime. Hey, you’re the head slime mixologist – do it your way!
When you’re finished playing with your Elmer’s slime, seal it up in a zipper-lock bag for safe keeping.

PLAY DOUGH: Ingredients:
2 cups of baking soda
1 and a half cups of
1 cup of corn starch
Mix with a fork until the mixture is smooth and boil until thick. Takes about 4 minutes.

Kool-Aid Playdough: 2 1/2 C flour; 2 pkg unsweetened Kool-Aid; 3 T oil; 1/2 C salt; 2 C boiling water. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until dough makes a ball. Let Cool. Store in a plastic zip bag or an airtight container. Keeps well and kids love the smell!

Paper-Mache: 2 C cold wa 1 1/2 C flour; newspaper cut into strips that measure 1x15. Mix water and flour in a lg bowl with a wire wisk until smooth. Mixture should be the same thickness as heavy cream. Coat a mold with one layer newspaper strips which have been dipped into water. Then dip strips into flour mixture and lay over fist layer of stips until the mold is well coated. Let stand until strips on mold are dry and hard. Paint over strips.

Soapsuds Clay: 3/4 C soap powder (Ivory Snow);1 T warm water. Mic powder and water in a lg bowl. Beat with electric mixer to clay like consistency. Makesabout 1 C. Can be doubled or tripled for layered objects. Mold into figures and other objects and let air dry overnight. To make snow, beat 2 parts soap powder to 1 part water and spead like icing over heavy cardboard for mobiles or ornaments.

I SPY JAR: To keep children occupied, fill a clear plastic bottle or container (20 oz is good) with bird seed, then put in beads, beans, and other small trinkets. Seal the lid and you have your very own I Spy game!

Old Fashion and All Purpose paste: Old Fashion: 1/3 C wheat flour; 1 C water; 2 T sugar; 1/4 t peppermint or wintergreen oil. Mix flour and sugar gradually add water, stirring vigorously to prevent lumps. Cook over low heat until clear. Stir constantly. Remove from stove and add oil. Stir until well blended. ALL PURPOSE PASTE: 1 C wheat flour; 1 C cold water; 1 T powdered alum; 1 C sugar; 4 C boiling water; 1/2 t wintergreen oil. Mix flour and sugar. Slowly stir in cold water to form a paste. Slowly add boiling water: stir vigorously to prevent lumps. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until thick and clear. Remove from heat and add alum. Stir until well mixed and add wintergreen oil. Let stand awhile. Makes 1 1/2 quarts. Will keep several weeks in closed jars. Can be thinned with hot water if needed.

How to sneak healthy fruits & veggies into yourtoddlers diet: Terra veggie chips, mexican flavor. Full serving of vegetables per chip serving.Buddy Fruits and Gogo Squeez, portable easy to use apple sauce, and other fruits like strawberries and bananas!

How to sneak healthy fruits & veggies into yourtoddlers diet: Per 10 oz fluid conainer: 1/3 Sunny D orange/strawberry; 1/3 V8 Fruit fuisons (I use store brand) strawberry/banana and 1/3 water. Shake well. Kenley LOVES this and doesn't know that he's benefiting from it!

Young kids seem to create a pile of broken or nubby crayons, like it's their job. It has a lot to do with the shape and size of their crayons and their hands - they can' help breaking them! Save those broken crayon pieces and create your own for a fun coloring solution!! Start by peeling the paper from the crayons and breaking them into smaller pieces. Fill your muffin pan with foil cupcake wrappers and put a bunch of the pieces in each one. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, then put your muffin pan in the oven -- and turn the oven OFF. Let it sit until the crayon bits have melted. Remove your pan from the oven and allow everything to cool. Pop the wax out of each wrapper, and you'll have a rainbow of round crayons that are perfect for little hands! Kids love'em - and adults do, too!

Maybe you've seen them in a local boutique? Handmade necklaces from Uganda and Southeast Asia using a mix of shiny seed beads and paper beads! A catching trend, buying these necklaces is a way to support distant village industries and local small businesses at the same time. But you can also teach your kids how to make these at home! You'll need an old magazine or several sheets of paper, white glue, and a paint brush. Cut a page into really long triangle-ish strips. They don't have to be perfect, so it's okay if they're more trapezoidal (four sides) than triangular (three sides), but each strip should be long and narrow, tapering from one end to the other. Now dip a paint brush into some white glue, and spread glue down the entire length of the strip. Roll the strip like you might roll dinner crescents (the kind you buy in a tube and bake). If it helps, use a toothpick to start the rolling process, wind the strip around the toothpick, and then remove it. You've made one bead! Repeat to make more and let everything dry. Then, you can start stringing all your beads together. Easy!

This looks fairly self explanatory, cut a hole in the bottom of the bottle and then just cut the top off and along the side as shown. I would be sure to take some fine grain sandpaper to make sure the edges are not sharp for those curious little fingers!

How To Work With Cardboard

I am very pleased today to bring you a tutorial on how to work with my favorite-est crafting material of all: 

C.A.R.D.B.O.A.R.D !!!!

I've been working with cardboard even longer than I've been sewing and working with fabric. One of my most-used toys as a kid was a roll of scotch tape, with which I assembled all kinds of structures with found objects around the house. Whenever we had access to cardboard, which wasn't as often as I wished, and certainly nowhere as often as I have now, I was practically in heaven. Because I never had formal cardboard-builing lessons or read any books on how to work with cardboard, I imagined that everyone else also just winged it with cardboard. The fun has always been in the designing, experimenting and making. But based on the many requests I've received from readers, I'm thinking maybe I assumed wrong.

So today I am happy to share with you as much as I know about cardboard.

First, though - lest you think I'm any good at it - let me show you some realcardboard art - herehere, and here.  When I look at work like that, I think fabric issoooooooooo last season.

Righto - now that we're all properly demoralized inspired, let's begin!

Why Work With Cardboard?
Duh. It is SUPREME.
Just in case that doesn't convince you, let's list other lesser reasons:
  1. It is (in most cases) free.
  2. It appeals to the environmentally-conscious, pro-recycling parts of our human nature.
  3. It is disposable - toss it back into the recycling bin when you're done playing.

Where Can I Get It?
Anywhere. And everywhere.
  • It sneaks into your home each time you bring groceries and sundries in from the store. Look for it housing cereal and diapers, on the backs of writing tablets, in between folded bedlinen.
  • If you know of people who've recently moved into your neighborhood, bring them a casserole and then beg them for their moving boxes - these are often made of exceptionally sturdy cardboard.
  • Bring your kids to supermarkets and members' clubs like Sam's Club and Costco, and ask the staff for cardboard boxes and the giant sheets that line their pallets. They are usually only too happy to oblige, especially when you say it's for a children's craft project.
  • Conduct surveillance on your husband's (I'm stereotyping here) home improvement adventures and ferret away all the packing boxes from lawn edging, shower doors, etc.
  • Wait for your freezer/TV/computer to die and then order replacements based on which ones come in the best cardboard boxes.
  • Save all the shipping boxes that come in the post.
  • Buy them  - but only as the last resort, after scavenging all other free sources - from office supply stores.

How Do I Build A Cardboard Stash?

Case 1: If you are lucky enough to live in a huge house:
  • Find a secret room.
  • Throw every cardboard box you find into it.

Case 2: If you are unlucky and have to think about space:
  • Cut open and flatten every cardboard box you find.
  • Slide them under beds. Or between the mattress and box spring. Or behind the headboard.

Save silly little things like the inner tubes of toilet paper, paper towels and wrapping paper.

and the occasional fancy paperboard (compressed layers of paper) gem that comes along:

Somewhere along the way, you might need to decide if you're more of a cardboard box refashionist or a bona fide cardboard freak. Here's what I mean:

The Cardboard Box Refashionist:
You work primarily with cardboard boxes to turn them into things that retain the structure of the box. So stuff like cars, puppet stages, ovens, personal rocketships, that sort of thing. When you see a cardboard box, your first thought is what you could make out of it that has those dimensions. You love that the box already has corners and a flap and sides to work around. You're probably blind to regular sheets of cardboard lying around, or you think, "Hm, I wonder if I could use that as a cutting mat. Or maybe my kids might like to color on it." 
If you were working with fabric, you'd be the one cutting up men's shirts and turning them into girl's frocks while retaining the button plackets, bottom hems and collars. 

The Bona Fide Cardboard Freak:
You will use any cardboard to make anything. When you see a cardboard box, your first thought is to check the flute size and then cut it up into flat shapes and make something. You hate, absolutely hate how the pre-existing fold lines of the flaps limit you to cutting out pieces of certain sizes. Whenever you see large pieces of cardboard, you froth at the mouth and begin to have visions of furniture and entire houses for victims of national disasters.

If you were working with fabric, you'd be the one buying fabric in ridiculously large yardage, with plans to sew every single garment in the most recent issue of Burdastyle.

Most of us vascillate between both roles, depending on what we can get our hands on.

What Kinds of Cardboard Can I Use?
Any kind, silly! They are all supreme. But some are more supreme than others.

Here are some common types:

Thin, cereal-box type- 
this is good for projects that require a lot of folding and rolling. Pick this for making cones, tubes and tiny boxes.

Thicker, back-of-writing-tablet type - 
doesn't roll well, but folds nicely when scored (will discuss this later). Structures made from this keep their shape better than those made from the cereal-box variety.

Single Wall Corrugated Cardboard - 
single layer of flutes (those wavy things) between two layers (called liners) of cardboard.

which comes in different thicknesses. Check out the size of the flutes - the smallest flute (somewhere in the middle of the stack) is in a USPS priority mail box.

Double Wall Corrugated Cardboard- double layer of flutes:

See - compared to the single wall cardboard below it.

There does exist Triple Wall Corrugated Cardboard, but I haven't seen it yet (drats). Updated in Oct 2011: Yes, I have! Hurrah! Here it is:

Now this is one of my particularly precious stash treasures: it is extra thick, extra strong, surprisingly light

and has the prettiest pattern of corrugation. Quite different from the regular corrugated cardboard. Almost honey-comb like. I wish I knew what it was called. We found two of these strips in a box containing some household appliance, and used the first one for a ramp for matchbox cars. It lasted years.

Slightly less rare, but equally valued is White Cardboard. It's like the cashmere of cardboard. White on one side means the kids can have a field day coloring it in really bright colors. Whenever I find white cardboard, I save it for special occasions.

Then there are the other kinds of 'cardboard' like paper board, cardstock, poster board but you know those already. 

What Tools Do I Need?
To each his/her own. I'll share what I use:

For cutting: kitchen shears and a craft knife/NT cutter/X-acto knife/box-cutter.

For gluing: hot glue gun, UHU craft glue, masking tape and packing tape. I've seen UHU glue sold in Michaels. 

What Makes Corrugated Cardboard So Strong?
Corrugated cardboard gets its strength from the flutes between its liners. They dictate how you can manipulate the cardboard itself, but when used correctly, can add a lot of strength to a structure.

First, and most obviously, avoid including pre-existent creases, unless you want them for a particular reason. These are weakened areas in the cardboard.

Second, make fold, bend and roll lines parallel to the flutes.

Let's come back to that in a minute. First, let's work with regular cereal-box cardboard:

Suppose you want to join two little pieces at an angle, like the walls of a tiny box. First, you'd need to make a little overlapping tab for applying some adhesive. Sorta like a seam allowance.

For it to bend, you'd need to score a fold line. This just means you scratch a line with something thin that will weaken the surface but not cut through it. Like the back of a knife blade. 

Then you can make a neat fold.

You'd put some glue on the underside of the folded tab

and attach it to another piece.

You could score and fold in any orientation because cereal box cardboard has no corrugation.
With corrugated cardboard, you'd have to pay attention to how the flutes are lined up. 

You'd want your fold line to be parallel to the flutes- this way you only distort one or two flutes in the fold and the rest of the piece remains strong. If the cardboard is especially thick, you might need to score the fold line first.

Suppose you needed to fold in the perpendicular direction. With very thick corrugated cardboard, you might not even be able to bend it in this orientation. So you'd score

before folding. Notice the upper liner and the flutes have had to split in order for the fold to happen. This means the fold is only as strong as that bottom liner layer i.e. much weaker than if you'd folded it parallel to the flutes, as we did earlier.

is like making a series of gentle bends to attain a curve. Again this is done with the bends parallel to the flutes.

This is a thin piece of corrugated cardboard rolled in the wrong direction (perpendicular to the flutes) - there is a horrible, uneven mess of creases in the middle.

One of the questions I've most often been asked is how I cut cardboard. 
If the cardboard is thin and small, I use scissors:

If the cardboard is thin but large and hard to manouevre with scissors, I use my craft knife on a cutting mat (yes, the same one I use for fabric). I draw the knife along a ruler edge for straight cuts, or free-hand around curves. This is especially helpful in cutting out holes and windows.

If the cardboard is thick, I use the same knife as a saw. I hold the cardboard away from the cutting board and use an up-down sawing motion all around the outline.

Assembling Without Glue:
If you are working with a cardboard box, you can assemble the usual box-way, for instance, tucking in the flaps:

or taping them down.

You could also make simple slot joints:

Then there are commercial connectors you can buy, like Makedo and Mr McGroovy's:

Assembling With Glue:
When making flat structures (like cardboard cookies and that fraction puzzle), Elmer's White Glue works OK. It's especially safe for children. When making 3D structures however, I don't use Elmer's White Glue. It's strong enough for wood, yes, but it dries slowly and requires either a clamp or someone to actually hold the pieces together in place overnight. If I am joining two pieces that don't require special, fiddly positioning, I use a hot glue gun. It's fast and strong. Otherwise, I use my UHU craft glue - it's fast, but not instant like hot glue. I can slide things around to position them for a few seconds before it dries.

If you remember, attaching thin cardboard together at their edges requires an overlap tab. Thick corrugated cardboard, having an actual edge of its own, doesn't require a tab. Glue can be applied directly to the edge to adhere it to a surface. Here is a series of pictures to show you how a curved surface was glued to a flat circular base - this was Rapunzel's Tower from here:

How Do I Design Cardboard Structures? 
Ah, the million-dollar question.
I don't know. You'd have to look around you and get inspired, I guess. Look at architecture. Look at toys. Let the ideas percolate for a few months. Then sketch them out. Anything made of cardboard can be translated into wood for a sturdier and more permanent product. The converse is true - anything made of wood/plastic can be replicated in cardboard. Even furniture! 

If you're new to cardboard, start with the cereal box kind of projects - cut out masks, make little teepees, retractable telescopes, indoor boomerangs, little cars for Playmobil. 

If you're ready for something 3D, grab a box and cut holes in it. Turn it into a fishtank, a cage, a puppet stage, a washing machine, a castle. 

Ask your children what they think the box should become. I guarantee you they will have very strong opinions. It doesn't matter if everybody starts out making a featureless tunnel out of boxes and calling it a space shuttle. Over time, you will find the motivation to add things to it - a round window, wings, a flip-up door, maybe even wiggly little control knobs. Sometimes make toys for your kids, but also make toys with your kids, so they get to see you think, plan, build and develop an idea. Fun has so many levels!  

Here is a roundup of some old cardboard projects - child's play (literally!) compared to those real works of art I linked to earlier. I don't usually include templates or patterns because the size of the product depends entirely on the size of the cardboard sheet/box I have to work with. And much as I'd like to build giant cardboard structures, I've been banned by the husband due to space constraints. Click on each of the pictures to take you back to (where available) the original posts. 

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