Painting sand dollars

watercolour paints on sand dollars

We’ve been spending our final days of summer holiday at our little beach house on Bainbridge Island. The weather has cooled down in the past week and the days have become noticeably shorter.  Autumn is definitely in the air!

A couple days ago when the weather was cloudy and the kids were feeling a bit stir crazy, we decided to sit down for a little paint session. We’ve already painted rocks, so this time we decided to paint our collection of sand dollars. It was such a fun activity!

painting sand dollars
painted sand dollar

painted sand dollars

It was fun to see the different variations of painting techniques. Some of us chose to paint the star, while others decided the sand dollars should look like tie-dye! : ) In any case, it was a fun way to spend a cloudy afternoon.

x Courtney

Learning to weave on a peg loom

ivy weaving

weaving loom

My sister just gave Ivy a Peg Loom weaving kit and it’s been really sweet watching Ivy learn to weave this summer. She’s intent on making herself a little handbag, which is one of the projects recommended in the loom kit. I’m kind of hoping we can buy some pretty yarns and make some weaved wall hangings, perhaps with some driftwood found on the beach (I was feeling inspired yesterday when I saw this photo on Instagram). In either case, it’s a great summertime project (for both of us).  The PegLoom kit comes with everything you need to get started, including yarn and a weaving needle.

x Courtney

Painting rocks!

ivy painting rocks
We’ve been staying at my family’s beach house on Bainbridge Island this week, where the water is cold and the beaches are rocky. The kids are in heaven! We have all spent the past few days collecting rocks on our beach walks, and today, while Marlow napped, we sat down in the shade to paint them. It was a fun afternoon activity and one that we all enjoyed.

The results from our rock-painting session were not overly impressive, so I thought it might be better to share some more inspiring images of other painted rocks, in case you are hoping for some inspiration beyond the typical painted ladybird! All images found on Pinterest:

painted rocks1
I love all the different faces in this image. (My boys were especially into painting faces – they wanted to make ‘pet rocks’.)

grid-cell-3344-1402697046-4

Love the bright colours and patterns here. (Image found here.)

abc painted rocks

Paint the alphabet! Fun and educational. (Image from here.)

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Thought these were cute!

painted owls

Love these painted owls!

We used acrylic paints, and mixed our paints inside sea shells since we didn’t have paint palettes. It worked perfectly! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

x Courtney

Loom bands

loom_bandsI’ve heard that loom bands have been around for a while already in other parts of the world, but here in the Netherlands they’ve suddenly made their appearance in the last few months. And now, they are everywhere.

If you’ve missed the fuss — loom bands basically are little elastic bands in a rainbow of colours, that are weaved together to form anything from simple bracelets to complex three dimensional creations. My children mostly use their fingers and different weaving techniques to make their bracelets, but there are crochet hooks and loom kits available as well. Little S or C shaped plastic clips keep the finished artwork together.

Both Sara as Pim are completely obsessed, and so are all of their friends. Pim has his entire arm covered in the plastic bracelets and is still collecting more! I do make him take them off in bed — I must admit that all of that plastic does gross me out a little. But then again, it keeps them entertained for hours, it’s creative, social, and fun. Plus, they can even be stylish – yesterday one of my cool friends was sporting a black loom band with neon details that she made herself, which made me want to get into my children’s loom band stock immediately and start weaving.

So, are your kids (or you!) on the loom band wagon yet?

xxx Esther

The Little Things… Playing the Easter bunny!

Easter is one of my favourite holidays. The celebration of spring, the prelude to summer… And, I happen to love eggs! For this week’s post in The Little Things series, Ava and her friend Juul (Maud Fontein‘s cute daughter!) dressed up as the sweetest little Easter bunnies. Aren’t they so cute?

BC_download_bunny_ears-1You can make similar bunny ears by printing the above PDF — didn’t Sara Musch again do a great job? I love this week’s download! Just cut out the ears and fold and glue them around a simple headband. Easy!

And… most little children just love face paint. Mine do! But I’ve never been very keen to have them play around with it. Shop-bought, artificial face paint can have high levels of toxic nickel and chrome. So nasty! A much better alternative is to make your own face paint — it’s really simple, and so easy! And it is super safe — without any of the harmful chemicals.

Homemade face paint:

3 teaspoons corn starch
1/2 teaspoon flour
2 teaspoons baby body lotion (or honey if you want it to be edible!)
1 teaspoon water
Activated charcoal (for black), and natural food colouring

The tulips in front of the Rijksmuseum here in Amsterdam are in full bloom. A perfect spot to hide some eggs!! :)

xxx Esther

PS –  This is the newest post in a series which is called ‘The Little Things’. Thank you Maud Fontein for taking these beautiful photos, and Sara Musch for the cool download. The girls’ jumpers are from Macarons!

Mix & match sketchbook by DEUZ

My kids (and I!) have had the best of fun this last week with the clever mix & match sketchbook by DEUZ. Basically this is an ordinary blank sketchbook, but the centre of the page is perforated so you can easily ‘cut’ your drawing in half, and thus create your own crazy animal combinations. What a great idea!

There are two varieties to choose from: ‘Wolf‘, or ‘Characters‘. We’ve been drawing up horse-fish, pig-birds, dino-ants, and more fantastic animals in the ‘Wolf’ sketchbook. So cool! I’m definitely going to order more for gifts.
(A little tip: it helps to indicate the ‘thickness’ of the animal beforehand, so your doodles line up once separated.)

xxx Esther

Stitch ‘n kids: felt hand puppets

A few weeks ago I made these owl hand puppets with my kids, which was such a fun project that I thought I should share.

First, we designed the owl on paper. Then, we cut out the different shapes of felt, first the shape of the body (twice), then the details like the eyes, the ears and the wings. With blankets stitch and straight stitch we sewed the different details on to the body, and then we used the sewing machine to sew the two sides of the body together (leaving the bottom open as to create a hand puppet).

Pim, who is nearly seven years old, designed his own owl and cut out all of the different pieces of felt. He needed a bit of help with the hand stitching, although it was a good exercise and he was definitely getting the hang of it. I did the machine sewing part for him, but I would like to sit down with him soon and introduce him to machine sewing.

Sara, who is eight years old, is now skilled enough with needlework and the technicalities of her sewing machine, that except from making sure the ends of the thread were properly secured with the hand-stitching part, she could work completely independently. I loved how she discovered she could used the decorative stitch on her sewing machine to make feather details!

Ava, who is only three, chose her colours felt, and which buttons she should use for the eyes. And even though I pretty much did the rest for her, she still felt as if she had made her own owl.

It was such a fun and easy project for different ages!

xxx Esther

Valentines craft — love birds

Happy Valentines Day! Our kids woke us up with the sweetest handmade Valentines cards this morning… But I had nothing prepared! So I quickly made these ‘lovebirds’, by folding a piece of paper in half and cutting it in a heart shape. A piece of masking tape keeps it closed and forms the beak. Inside I wrote little love message and poems. So when the kids come home from school they will have a little surprise waiting for them!

xxx Esther

Bird print sewing cards by Rice

I bought a pack of these sewing cards from Sisters Guild at the ShopUp last December and gave them to Ivy for Christmas. My only regret is that I didn’t buy three packs of them because I spent the entire Christmas holiday listening to the boys try to coerce Ivy into letting them each have one to do. But she loved them so much and spent so much time diligently sewing each card, that she was so reluctant to share with them.

These bird print sewing cards come in a pack of 6 pretty bird designs and include the different coloured threads and two needles. It’s the perfect activity for Ivy’s age (or really any age from 4 up), and when finished they make great decorations. I’ve scattered them around the house and am even thinking of framing a couple for Ivy’s room.

They’re available online from Sisters Guild. I might just have to buy a couple more and give them to the boys as well!

x Courtney

OMY Colouring poster

There are not many better things to do on a rainy day than some colouring! It has been grey and miserable a lot lately here in Paris, so we have had a couple of weekends where we have spent most of the day in our pyjamas, drinking tea (me!) and crafting. One massive success project is the OMY Colouring poster that I have hung up in our hallway. (I wrote about these a long time ago, but since I did, many more versions have been added). All day long when we walk past it, we stop and colour a little part in. Funnily enough grown ups (me!) seem to find it as mesmerising as children do.

We have the Giant Atlas Poster which has the added bonus that the kids are learning a little bit about which country is where, but I also love the Map of Paris which could be an excellent introduction to the city if you were planning a visit!

- Emilie

Last minute DIY Christmas tree

Christmas is around the corner! I can’t believe it!  This past weekend we made a recycled and diy Christmas tree. It is easy and very fun to do with kids.

We are so happy with our tree. I think the next step will be to do some more, but little. And make a forest!!!. It will be fun.

Hope you like them and give it a try! And hope you have a very merry Christmas!!!

x Maria

P.S. To read more from Maria, visit her crafty and inspirational blog here.

Inspiring holiday ideas from Sweet Paul!

You probably have heard of the talented Paul Lowe Einlyng, better known to most people as ‘Sweet Paul‘. His blog and quarterly magazine are an accumulation of wonderful craft projects, yummy recipes and creative decor ideas, all photographed in the most stunning and inspiring way. I’m a big fan of Sweet Paul!

Sweet Paul is sharing some ideas below that were published in his 2013 Sweet Paul Holiday Kids issue. I’m pretty sure they will inspire you to do something crafty with your kids the coming weeks! (Or if not, you can just gaze at the pretty pictures.) The entire magazine, full to the brim with inspiring activities like the sneak peeks below, is available as a PDF download here (for iPad click here). And it’s beautiful!

xxx Esther

Cheese Sticks
These are amazing when served with eggs.

Makes 20 sticks
1 sheet puff pastry (I love to
use Dafour)
½ cup grated cheese of your choice

1. Preheat then oven to 375°F.
2. Cut the puff pastry into half-inch strips.
3. Twist them gently and place in a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
4. Sprinkle with cheese.
5. Bake until golden. This will take about 10 minutes.

Mister Rabbit and Miss Cat
These are very simple toys to make. You can make fabric scraps, make sure they are a natural fiber so that you can watch them.

You need:
fabric
pen
needle and thread
cotton stuffing
sewing Maschine
1.Start by drawing your animal on the fabric.
2.Emboyder it using small stitches.
3.Cut around the animal so that it follows its shape, you need a front and a back.
4.Sew them together right side against right side, turn inside out and stuff with stuffing.
5.Sew up the hole.

And here are the instructions for the adorable Peanut Snowman at the top.

Peanut snowmen
This is a great kids project. Looks awesome on a small tree.

You need:
whole peanuts
white craft paint
marker
wool string
hot glue gun
acorn tops
1.Start by painting the peanuts white.
2.Once dry use a marker and make eyes and mouth.
3.Hot glue a acorn top to the top of the peanut and fasten a piece of wool string around the neck.

Thank you Sweet Paul!

Ninetonine 3D still life sets

Ninetonine believes that the smallest members of the family should grow up surrounded by original and high-quality design. And so their boutique is absolutely suffed with the most beautiful and sustainable design toys, furniture and decor, sourced from all over Europe, and some designed and manufactured by their own in-house design team.

Pim and Sara were playing with My First Sculpt Toy and My First Still Live this past Sunday morning, a Ninetonine do-it-yourself 3 dimensional sculpting kit designed to stimulate imagination and creativity. They loved the exercise, and it was nice to spend a bit of time discussing art, and in particular 3-dimensional art and sculpting.

Next step will be painting their pieces of art, personalising their creations and making them unique. A fun project for all ages, and I love the fact that they come flat in an envelop at a very respectable price — lovely and original presents to send pop in the post for any occasion.

xxx Esther

PS Ninetonine is one of the awesome shops presented at the ShopUp, showcasing their gorgeous collection! Can’t wait to see their presentation — I’m sure it will be fantastic!

Little Acorn People

Every autumn, Elodie asks when we are going to “meet more acorn friends.” We first created these little people at a play group we used to attend a few years back and it has firmly took hold into a seasonal tradition for us. We always collect leaves and twigs for their little beds and can easily spend an afternoon creating stories around them. Here are some instructions to create your own:

Here’s what you’ll need:

- little peg dolls
- sandpaper
- acorns (have fun hunting for these or get some here)
- beeswax (usually can be found at an art supply store)
- tacky glue
- markers
- wool for hair
- optional is paint and glitter for acorn hats

Here’s how to do it:

1. Using sandpaper, give the peg dolls a little scrub to get them ready for paint
2. Paint the bodies with non-toxic paint and let dry (or you can just leave natural)
3. Give your little friend a face. Maybe a smile and some rosy cheeks.
4. Rub all over with a bit of beeswax to seal paint color.
5. Choose a bit of colorful wool and pull apart so fairly thin. Coat with a thin layer of glue just wear you are going to attach to top of wooden peg doll.
6. Wait until this dries and then glue your acorn hat on top of hair.
7. (Optional: coat top of acorn with glitter for an extra sparkly cap)

It is so fun to hunt for acorns and it seems every time we do this activity we find different acorn caps. It takes time to coordinate which cap will fit with the little peg dolls but you can always find a handful that will work. If you find your self short on time, loads of people sell these on etsy as well. Last year we didn’t have time to make as I was preparing to have a baby and we found the ones above here.

x Elizabeth

To read more from Elizabeth, hop over to her sweet blog, The Littlest.

Make your own Dreamcatchers

This past weekend my sister and I sat down to make dreamcatchers. It’s a project that both of us have wanted to do for the past few years, and I’m so happy we finally got the chance to do it together. We had so much fun! (I think we’re both a little bit obsessed now and I’m trying to convince my sister to start up a little shop to sell them!)

We’re currently staying in our family beach house on Bainbridge Island, so we were able to search the beach for treasures to decorate the dreamcatchers. We then went to the little bead store on the island and picked up some pretty beads, strings and ribbons. I really love how they turned out and I thought I would share how we made them:

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • sticks for the outside circle (try to find ones which will bend without snapping)
  • string or thread (we used natural hemp because we liked the look and feel of it – but you can use anything!)
  • beads, feathers, ribbons, shells, and anything else you want to use as decoration on your dreamcatcher

And here are the basic steps:

  • Create a circle with the sticks and tie the sticks together using string (we tied the sticks together in several positions around the circle to ensure they didn’t come apart)
  • Start to create the webbing of the dreamcatcher by first tying a long string onto the circle of sticks at any point (this string should be at least 5 feet long to ensure you have enough for the entire web). From there, you move to the right of the circle and loop the string around the circle at different intervals around, keeping the string nice and taught (see photo above for how to loop the string).
  • Once you’ve made it around the circle, you’ll then repeat this process, going around the circle again, but this time you’ll be looping onto the path of string you’ve just created. Add some beads on the string in desired places as you web the string around (see photo above). You’ll then continue this process until you’ve created a circular web inside the circle. You can tie a knot at the inside of the web when you’ve finished.

  • Now that your web is finished, you can now add the tassels and decorations to your dreamcatcher. Here you can be really creative: string up some beads, tie a feather to a string and then add beads, braid together different colours of strings, string up some shells, pinecones, ribbons, etc. This is really the fun part and here is where you can involve your children!

And that’s it! I’ve added lots of photos in case my instructions aren’t clear – so hopefully you can get a good sense of the steps as well as some inspiration for ways to decorate your dreamcatcher. If you have any questions, just ask in the comment section below!

xx Courtney

Rosie Flo’s Colouring Pool Party

My kids and I have had such fun with the Rosie Flo Colouring Pool Party! We all love crafting and colouring, so this beautiful box, which cleverly transforms into a ‘real’ swimming pool and cute little café, kept us busy for hours. There’s a slide, a dive board, there are ice creams and rubber bands, a table and chairs, a deck chair even. And lots of figures of course, which, as usual with the Rosie Flo products, are only partly drawn so the rest is left for the child’s imagination to finish and colour in.

The box and all the details are really wonderful and so cleverly made — there’s no need at all for scissors or glue to put it together. My oldest kids (six and eight) could put it together by themselves, but Ava (3) liked to play with it as well once it was finished.

The box is beautiful and sturdy so it can be used to store away the party for a next time. It would also make a really nice gift! And I love the fact that it even comes with cute little invites to organise and host a little pool party yourself.

xxx Esther

Mouse House

As a child I received a custom made dollhouse for Christmas.  I loved playing with it and spent many hours re-arranging the furniture, and adding special little touches to it.  I still have a fascination with dollhouses and everything in miniature.

Several months ago I found a vintage dollhouse at a thrift store and I couldn’t pass it up.  Henrik and I decided it would be the perfect home for our Maileg Mice.  I added a couple of coats of paint and some paper to the house and it’s as good as new.  I then added a few pieces of furniture and a mouse portrait painted by Henrik to make our mouse family feel at home.

My children have enjoyed playing with their mouse house and Henrik is already talking about moving his claymation guys in…

-Meta

Adeline Klam

The coolest thing about social media, namely Instagram, is how many cool things you discover via the people you follow. For example, I discovered there was the coolest Japanese paper shop right around the corner from my flat, via Erika from MIKODESIGN, who herself is based in the Netherlands.

Obviously, since I found this little gem, I have not be able to stop going. The shop is full of the most beautiful paper, fabric, paints, tape, ribbon and bits and pieces – it is very hard not to get very excited and not buy the whole place up. The is also a webshop, so you don’t actually have to live in the neighbourhood.

Needless to say, we have been crafting a lot lately with Japanese paper!

P.S. Above are some pictures I took of Violette crafting this weekend and the result of the craft session. These little houses were super easy to make and are now conveniently housing all of my girls’ little bits and pieces…

- Emilie

A felt fish garland

I made this garland for the pictures I took of Nico and that I told you about here. Today I would like to show you the DIY. Really simple and you can make them with your favourite colors or shapes! You just need some felt, wool, and thread.

It was really fun making it, and now it decorates our house!! Hope you like it.

Maria

Claymation figures

My son Henrik loves to sculpt and make figures and creatures out of clay.  In the morning when he wakes up he is thinking of new guys to make and when he comes home from school all he wants to do is build new figures.  I have to tell him to stop sculpting to eat his meals.  You might say he is borderline obsessed with it.  One of his favorite things to do is watch instructional videos on how to work with clay, or interviews of his role models:  Ray Harryhausen and Tim Burton (he calls him Tim Burgan).  I find clay EVERYWHERE in my house!  But I enjoy watching this little boy create and be so passionate about his claymation figures.

Because Henrik makes so many different claymation figures, we buy A LOT of clay.  He has long since grown out of play dough or other clay that dries.  He needs to work with clay that is long lasting and has a lot of oil in it, called plasticine.  Several people have asked me where we buy our clay, so I thought I’d share with you where we get ours.  We have discovered the best place to get a wide range of colors and larger amounts of clay at fxsupply.com.  Henrik also uses armature wire for the skeletal structure of his creations.  You can buy the wire here.

It’s so entertaining everyday to see the new creations he comes up with.  These are just a small sampling of some of his figures.

x Meta

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