Saturday, July 12, 2014

Welcome to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!

Welcome to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to celebrate Madi's birthday!

My daughter wanted a Harry Potter themed birthday party. I love throwing themed parties. She loves all the little details. I honestly think most of her friends don't care, but I love doing it nonetheless. Here are some pics of the decorations and such.

Invitations by Owl (I've blocked out identifying information, those marks aren't on the paper)

Front of the Owl, plus Hogwarts Express ticket to put inside

Final product, complete with "owl" feather

 Balloons decorated as owls and taped to the back of the invite. Drop them on the recipient's porch, ding-dong and ditch!!!

Here are some of the decorations I made for the party. I made everything except where noted.

I used two wooden plaques from the craft store, painted and glued together, then hung from hardware on a lantern hanger.

Another craft plaque, painted and hung.

 Vintage trunks from the attic, a hat box, books, and a stuffed owl in a cage. 

Sorting hat (purchased) and Gryffindor wooden banner I painted.

Plastic craft mask, painted with silver gilding and decorated to look like Bellatrix Lestrange's Death Eater mask (I dressed up as her for the party)

Another shot of the trunks

An old sheet, taped and spray painted to look like bricks. This covers the front door and the kids run through the "wall" into the party.

The front walkway

Book of Monsters I made. I LOVE how the eyes came out, but I cut the furry fabric prematurely and didn't keep a little extra around the edges.

Front entrance table is the potions classroom. I have Polyjuice potion, Amortentia, and Felix Felices. The pitcher was a thrift store find, and looked very potion-y to me :)

We generously gave away invisibility cloaks to our guests.

I must not tell lies, this is one of my favorite touches. It's supposed to remind you of the scene from Order of the Phoenix where Harry writes with Professor Umbridge's "special" quill. I even put her tea cup out, next to the lines Harry had to write.

Paper mache patronus, and a dementor. I used scrap fabric, wooden dowel, and a foam ball to make the dementor. The dementor didn't turn out as good as I'd hoped, but the kids liked it.

Wooden owls I painted. They were pre-cut in the wood aisle at the craft store.

I had a whole area set up as HoneyDukes. I made signs for all the candies - Fever Fudge, Jelly Slugs, etc.

The birthday girl's cake, just like Hagrid used to make.

A Gryffindor banner made from twine and cardstock.

Close-up of the patronus. 

This is a permanent fixture in the laundry room, but it worked nicely with the decor!

 I made my own parchment using cardstock and tea. I brewed a really strong tea, put it in a spray bottle, and sprayed the cardstock. I dried it in the sun, giving it a parchment-like texture and color. I used cinnamon tea, and it had a nice cinnamon scent when I first made it, but it wore off before the party :(  The paper will curl, so place it under something heavy to flatten it out. 

I used one sheet of parchment to write "Ministry of Magic This Way" and stuck it to the toilet tank with an arrow pointing to the toilet bowl. The kids who really know their Potter know that you can flush in to the Ministry and thought it was funny. I also taped a pic of Moaning Myrtle to the mirror in the bathroom.  

Please leave your comments or questions, I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Dobby's Sock Keeper

In my house, we love all things Harry Potter. We also seem to have a dryer gremlin that eats one sock from a pair. I would stack the socks on top of the dryer and either someone (or the cat) would come along and knock the socks down behind the dryer.

We had a bright idea to make a Dobby sock holder! It's really easy to make.

1 pine wood plaque (from Michael's)
5 regular clothespins
2 wooden dowell toppers to use as knobs
Black craft paint
Gold craft paint

Glue "knobs" onto plaque. Paint the plaque. Paint the clothespins.  Figure out what kind of lettering you want to use. Paint on the letters in gold. Paint a lightning bolt onto one clothespin if you want. Wrap long length of twine around the knob and secure with double knot. Run one end of the twine through the spring of a clothespin. Make a figure 8 around the clothespin and run the twine back through the spring to secure it in place. Secure the rest of the clothespins in the same way. Tie off the end of the twine to the other knob. Cut excess twine from knots. I hung it on the wall in my laundry room with those sticky foam squares.

This took very little time and is a really cute piece of functional art for the Harry Potter fan! And if the second sock doesn't turn up, free a house elf with the spare. S.P.E.W.!!!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Eeyore Ear Hat

Turn a Mickey Mouse Ear Hat into an Eeyore hat!

As I showed in previous posts, Nightmare Before Christmas' Sally Ear Hat, and Winnie the Pooh's Rabbit Ear Hat, I like making hats for more obscure Disney characters. Disney has started making hats of characters like Donald, Goofy, Tink, etc; but every time I go to Disneyland, the Cast Members go crazy for my homemade ear hats! I made these Eeyore ears for my mom.

Front of Hat

Back of Hat

The supplies you need are all found at the fabric/craft store, except the plain black Mickey Mouse hat from Disneyland/World. You can even use scraps if you can find the right colors. The hair is a soft black yarn that I brushed out and sewed down. The Bow is made from the same fabric as the inner ear. The ears are just cut out, sewn inside out, then turned out and sewed to the hat. The "nail" that holds the tail is a really cool button I had in my box of buttons. The ears are painted with craft paint mixed from a few colors, then sprayed with clear varnish. It's all hand sewn.  Please leave comments or questions, I love to hear people liking my work!

Here is a picture of us with our Rabbit and Eeyore hats with Winnie the Pooh. I bought a Rabbit plush, and gave him a mini ear hat to wear (It's a keychain sewed to his head with key ring removed)

Summer Boredom Busters

Normally, this blog is reserved for all my crafty endeavors, but I thought I'd add a little summer fun advice today.  I'm thinking about my kids only having 5 days left in school, and wondering how I am going to make this summer epic. 

A few years ago, the movie Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer came out, and we made a family fun chart, kind of like the one from the movie. It was great. I used large safety pins (the kind that are about 2-3 inches long, with no loop at the end) and beads and charms. Every time we completed an activity, we got the corresponding bead or charm that went with it. Some of the activities were daring, like "Touch a Spider," and some would encourage worldliness, like "Eat Indian Food" or "Try 3 Fruits in One Day." We each have different strengths and things we like or don't like. My daughter dislikes the texture of fruit, I am terrified of spiders, etc. One of the charms I got was a yellow chicken head. We all agreed that for maximum fun, and to provide a little incentive, if you refused to do an activity, or "chickened out," you would have to add a chicken head charm to your pin. The goal was NO chicken heads. As we did the activities, we would mark them off on the chart. It was really fun, and we kept the chart and pins.

This year, we have a trip planned to Rio de Janeiro to see the World Cup, and the kids are going to a week of sleep away camp. I hadn't given much thought to any other summer activities, since the big trip had occupied most of my planning time. Today, I realized that the trip to Rio is in the beginning of summer. After we get back, the rest of summer will be a huge let down if I don't think of something. These kids are getting older, and before I know it, they won't need me to plan activities. 

Once the wheels started turning, I came up with a lot of ideas for our own Not-Bummer Summer, most of which are free, or very low-cost!

1. Have a neighborhood scavenger hunt. 
    Our neighborhood is packed with kids. They could get in groups and have a scavenger hunt on their bikes or skateboards. The prize could be anything, even ice cream cones on the porch.

2. Make a piece of art together

    Start with a blank canvas. Have each person add 1 brushstroke to the canvas each day. To make it more interesting, you could make a rule that one person can't continue from the same brushstroke two days in a row. That way you're sure to get something weird and wonderful. For a twist, add three-dimensional objects with glue. Don't forget to sign and date at the end of summer.

3. Teach your kids to cook

    My kids are always telling me how much they love my cooking, but we are so busy, I don't have time to pass that on. Make bread, pasta from scratch, learn a French technique, make chili. Fun always comes with food in our family, so learning a life skill is an added bonus.

4. Teach your kids to navigate a city without a car

    A lot of people spend their lives going to and fro in a car, leaving kids with no idea how they got there. My son is really good at paying attention and seems to know the way everywhere, but my daughter is perma-lost in la-la-land. Getting out of the car forces them to pay attention, and can be really fun!
    A couple years ago, we went on a 3 week trek across Europe. Everyone said we were crazy to go backpacking with kids (who were 8 and 9 at the time), but it was the best time we've ever had. In London, after we'd been there a few days and they got their bearings, we let the kids find our way when we wanted to go somewhere. We'd tell them where we wanted to go, and show them where it was on a map. They'd figure out how to get there by walking, taking the tube, bus, etc. They worked together really well. We were pleasantly surprised how they figured it all out. We only had one real foul-up, but we let them go with it. We walked a mile out of our way, but they realized it and corrected!  
    Living in the Bay Area, there are plenty of transit options that we frequently use. The kids are BART pros at this point, but since we are in San Francisco regularly, I think we will tackle MUNI this year. I feel like this activity lets kids take control, and teaches them to be independent. Just make sure you know the way, too!

5. Visit a Japanese Garden
    Even the smallest Japanese Gardens are always so beautiful. In a nearby city, there is a garden that we would always drive past, but never visited. One day I decided we had driven by enough times, so we went and explored it. It had a real calming effect on the kids, without me having to do any shushing! There was a koi pond and several gazebos, as well as informational plaques telling about the trees and flowers and some Japanese history. We spent several hours looking around this small, but serene garden, and when we left we all agreed we would like to go back.

6. Learn a language together

    Everyone seems to have a tablet or smartphone nowadays. There are several apps that are free to download and use. The one I like is DuoLingo. It allows you to choose only one language to learn for free, but it is almost like a game. We are using it to learn a little Portuguese before going to Rio. 
7. Do some improv

    Have you ever seen those improv shows like Who's Line Is It, Anyway? Do you have musical kids? Have a conversation using only song lyrics or titles. Make up a stage play with no script. Use props from around your house to transform into funny things. 
    We have a park nearby that has a little stage. We are planning to go there and perform on the stage, followed by a picnic. You can have as grand a performance as you like. Matter of fact, I think I'll bring props and costumes and see what happens.

8. Pick a country from a map and try their cuisine.

    In our house we have a travel map, pinned with all the places we've been and want to go. If I blindfold one of my kids and spin them, pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey style, they could point to a spot on the map, then we find a restaurant with food from that country. We also have a globe. If you have a globe, you could just spin the globe, close your eyes, and point to a spot to stop it. (Although, spinning the kid might be more fun) Land in the ocean? Eat seafood!

These are only a few ideas, you can adapt them all to suit your own children and family. I hope this list inspires you to do some really great stuff this summer!