Homemade Finger Paint = Perfect Summer Fun

It’s amazing that July is slipping away from us — and we’ve been busy busy busy. Making new gardens at our new home, putting together chicken coops, hanging (and re-hanging) art on the walls, shoving those last un-packed boxes into the attic, seeing old friends and visiting with out-of-state family, teaching, cleaning houses, having housewarming parties, birthday parties, just-because parties, going to the farmer’s market, picking berries, going to the beach. So, when the girls and I had a rare opportunity to be home, ALL DAY, alone, we found our old rhythm again and decided to do something a little bit crafty and a lotta bit messy.

Enter homemade (edible) finger paint. I figured it was something the 5 year old and the 15 month old would both enjoy. They did!

First step, find the recipe. I used this one:

I believe this originated from the easie peasie blog, but there are so many, many versions of this around the interwebs. I chose this one because it didn’t include soap, making it ok for my toddler to eat, if she chose.

Ours came out like this:

Emmaline and I decided on basic colors because she was determined to mix them to make her own, but I’ve seen some beautiful variations on other blogs. Sort of looks like crazy pudding, eh?

Here was my set-up for them. I love doing art projects outside in the summer. With a proximity to the hose.

I would show you the pictures of my girls all covered in paint, but I had them stripped down to their underdrawers…. Just trust me when I say a lot of messy fun was had.

It amazes me, always, when children think outside the box so naturally. Emmaline got creative with shells and leaves. And Tess painted her beach ball but I didn’t get a snap of that one, as I was too busy running after her.

I can attest to the fact that this is completely washable….

(White pants for this project? Ha, yeah.)

It was highly successful, all in all. I’m told it tasted “okay,” and felt “itchy” when dried on the skin but the best part of painting outside in the summer might just be running through the sprinkler to wash off.

What are you waiting for? I’ll bet you have all the ingredients in your cupboards. And some eager children just waiting to get creative. And messy. Enjoy!



A Blessing

I had planned to write a post about wonderful Easter preparations. About dyeing eggs naturally and alternatives to candy and a glorious egg hunt filled with laughing children in the sunshine by the sea. About felting sweet handmade gifts and crafting elaborate egg trees. About how Mamas are Easter Bunnies and Santas and Tooth Fairies and maybe have magical powers and stuff.

But the craft day we’d tried to plan fell through. Twice. Kids were sick, mamas overtired. It never happened.

Now my girls are sick.

(Oh, isn’t that a sad face!)

A couple of days ago they started sneezing and hacking. Then last night they spiked fevers and coughed all night and woke up crying several times (but never at the same.) Today, the day before Easter, dawned chilly and cloudy. I looked around my bedroom, mounded high with laundry piles, the girls with their fevered pink cheeks and glassy eyes and knew I had to let my expectations go.

I felt lame. Exhausted. A little depressed. Sweaty from tossing and turning with a nursing fevered baby. I forgot to make coffee and eat breakfast. Couldn’t get the day jump-started.

This is not a post about miracles. It’s not a post about the impending Christian holiday. It’s a post about uncanny coincidence. About how people are wonderful and human after all. About how something small– a gesture, an object– can hold meaning and beauty and inspiration.

When we checked the mail today, there was package from an old friend. A very lovely and sweet lady who I knew when I was a young girl but haven’t seen in years and years. Not since I “grew up,” really. But thanks to Facebook we’ve reconnected, even across the years and miles and she has seen pictures of my girls and followed our happenings online. (Social media at its best, really.) I had no idea this lovely little package was coming or what it contained.

I’m not really sure how she knew. I don’t even think I had posted about the crafting I’d wanted to do for Easter. But look what she made and sent to my girls….

(A baa baa ball for Tess!)

whooo are ewe?

(Whooooo are ewe?)

(The chicken or the egg? Who cares, they’re both lovely!)

(Doesn’t this lamb seem to skip from her egg?)

(Emmaline exclaimed, “Look! A child of the forest! And I marveled over the tiny details of an acorn-cap hat, blanket-stitched hem dress, sweetly painted bead face, “shooting” star on her collar, and how my sweet friend could possibly know that Emmaline’s favorite color is red.)

What beautifully handmade joy! What incredible timing after the long night we’d had and how uncanny that felted hollow eggs was the exact project I had wanted to get to before this weekend.

I take it back. This was a mini-miracle. A bit of fate. Almost-magic. A blessing.

Have a beautiful Easter or simply a Sunday full of unexpected joys.


The Birthday Dress

I suppose this whole idea of making a birthday dress for my (almost!) five year old deserves a bit of back-story. I am a mama who loves birthdays. I mean, I really love them. And not my own birthday, necessarily, but that’s ok too. I just love to plan a birthday — the gifts, the party, the cake. And this got so much more, um, pathological? once I had a daughter. But last year I was heavily pregnant with my sweet now ten-month old, Tess, for Emmaline’s 4th birthday party and it was all I could do to put up a couple of streamers and remember to brush her hair before everyone arrived. Ok, I’m exaggerating, but that’s how it felt. Kinda lame.

This year I am determined to put last year to shame. I know we mamas should be gentle with ourselves, not try to put too much pressure on ourselves…. And it’s true. But last year I lamed out all over the place. My husband’s birthday was spent with us all having the flu. I dropped the ball on my mother’s birthday, and one of my good friends only got a card and my pregnant, exhausted presence at her birthday dinner. This year promises a better birthday-me. I rocked out my husband’s birthday. And Emmaline’s is next. Hence the birthday dress. She requested a “red dress.” Not particularly spring-like for a girl turning the five the day before the vernal equinox, but so be it. I determined to do this.

I searched the interwebs for a pattern or tutorial I really loved. In a very roundabout way that I won’t get into, I found this one. It’s a really pretty and (relatively) easy pattern. Plus, free! To give credit where credit is due, this tutorial is actually a guest post from The Cottage Home on the U-Create site. Both are chock full of crafty ideas and inspiration, so check them out!

I then had to find the perfect fabric. Emmaline said red, her favorite color, with some flowers. Hmm. A little bit of searching on Alewives’ fabulous site, Emmaline and I snuggled in the dark on my bed and peering into the screen, and she yelled, “That’s it!”

Yup. That’s red alright.

The day before our last (and final?) Midcoast snowstorm, I drove into Damariscotta Mills and ducked into Alewives Fabrics right before they closed. Ah, what a wonderful place! I lingered a bit too long over the velveteens, but easily located the fabric and was delighted to find it much less McDonald’s ketchup and much more rich cranberry. I found contrasting fabric from the same collection (and a covered button kit! Only $2.99, who knew?) and was on my way merrily with visions of “whipping it up” in a “couple of hours.”

Ahhh, yes. You probably know how this story goes. Maybe you’ve had a few of these stories yourself. A few hours stretched into an entire day.

Cutting out the pieces was easy enough. I’m terrible with math, but I managed to size it for my slim girl.

(see? not the most organized corner)

What sewing tutorials don’t tell you is how much ironing there is. It’s all about the ironing, really. And the finger burning. Oh, and pinning. There’s lots of pinning. So, just to cut it, pin it, sew a seam, iron said seam, burn my fingers, listen to chaos happening in my living room as my dearest husband attempted to run interference with both girls so I could work. Yeah. That took all morning. Little pieces, big pieces. I suddenly wondered if it looked like Emmaline made it. Or if the fabric was like curtains. Was I sewing Scarlett’s drapes? Eight grade Home Economics class project?

(oh, ironing)

(more ironing)

(ooh, nice ironing!)

At some point, the dress looked like a dress.

(ok, this might be a dress now)

I realized that the afternoon was wearing away, that I was shaky from lack of food, dying of thirst, Joel Dewberry’s peonies were swimming behind my eyes, and my fingers were sore with pinpricks. Oh, I still had on my nightgown too. Sewing crazy, that’s what I called it. And I literally lost all track of time.

But, despite the fact that I’m pretty sure Tess thought I was gone forever (she greeted me as though I’d come back from the dead), it was rather blissful to get lost in something. The fabric-covered buttons were especially satisfying. Seriously, run over to Alewives and grab a kit. Best three bucks you’ll spend for your sewing collection.

(cool buttons, mama)

I mean, look! Here it is on my sweet girl. And she loves it. And just four seven hours ago it had been a pile of lovely fabric and a wee bit of determination.

I hope you are inspired to make something. Maybe even your take on this dress for your daughter or granddaughter. Maybe these adorable pants for your little man. I mean, sure, you could run to a store and buy something. Or even have someone else make it for you on etsy. But just the experience of entering the time warp of crafting can be useful, self-informative (I am both impatient and determined, plus have a decent repertoire of curses), and gives you a real appreciation for what you’ve made. And an appreciation for the process of how things are made. Just as there is “slow food,” there definitely is “slow dress.”

Feel free to comment or click on the “contact” link to ask for my sewing notes and edits on this pattern! I’m happy to share my tips. (Erin)