All Posts by Amy Latta

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Dec 11

Felt Tree Ornaments

By Amy Latta | General

Hi, friends!  This month, I’m excited to share with you a simple tutorial for a DIY Christmas ornament the whole family can make together!
The idea {like many others} originally came from Pinterest.  My Little Crafter has his very own board and from time to time we’ll browse around and he’ll do some of his own pinning.  Thursday morning, we came across this pin {originally from Forest Fairy Crafts} and LC was immediately intrigued.  “I want that on my board, Mommy!” So, we pinned it, and several hours later, we made it since we actually had all the supplies on hand.
Here’s what you need:
– green felt
– assorted beads and/or sequins
– thread and needle
– scissors
 
That’s it.  Really.  I bet you have all that just laying around your house already.
 

The faceted multicolor beads we used as well as the sequin mix came from our friends at CraftProjectIdeas.com, so now is a good time to thank them for those!

STEP 1: Cut two tree shapes from green felt.

STEP 2: Sew beads onto one of the pieces of felt.  This was so exciting for LC because it was the first time I ever let him use a needle and thread.  I showed him how to pull the needle up from the back, thread on a few beads, then push it back down through.  Priceless.

Look at his concentration!!  He had so much fun with this, and from time to time, he’d just grin and say, “Mommy, I’m sewing!”

STEP 3: Sew top and bottom of tree together, leaving an opening to stuff it.  At this point, I got to show Little Crafter how to do a simple whip stitch.  He, of course, caught on right away.  I held the two pieces together, and he pushed the needle through and pulled all by himself.  He literally made this entire thing with very little help from me whatsoever, other than verbal guidance.  He’s four.  No wonder his Poppy calls him “Boy Genius.”

STEP 4: Stuff with polyfil and finish sewing shut.  He loved the stuffing part.

STEP 5: Add a hanger using silver cord, jute, or ribbon.  We threaded ours through using a large needle, but you could also use hot glue on the back.

Isn’t it adorable?  LC generously decided that the first one he made was for his daddy.  Then he made one for me, which has lots and lots of purple for the Ravens.  It also has an “M” for Mommy, an “E” because it will remind me of my stuffed elephant Peanut, and a “B” for “MomBy.”  This is what I was told.
Finally, he made his own.  He got into a pattern this time, doing a sequin, then a bead, then a sequin, then a bead…you can tell that his three favorite colors are red, blue, and purple!
Once they were finished, he hid them in each of our stockings.  Cute stuff!  I hope you enjoy this idea for ornaments your whole family can make together.  Have a blessed holiday season!
Happy Crafting!
Nov 13

Advent Activities for the Whole Family!

By Amy Latta | Children

Hi there, friends!  The holidays are just around the corner, which means it’s time to start thinking about fun ways your family can prepare and celebrate Advent together.

If you’re scratching your head and wondering, “What in the world is Advent?” it’s the four week period leading up to Christmas.  Some churches and denominations put a heavy emphasis on it, while others don’t mention it at all.  The idea, though, is taking four weeks to prepare our hearts and minds to celebrate Jesus’ birth.  It’s a time to get excited, to count down, and to spend time doing the things that matter most.  There are lots of different and fun ways you can incorporate Advent into your home; here are some of the things we like to do in the Artsy Family!

Create and Light an Advent Wreath/Box

Advent Wreath

Advent wreaths can be pretty much any shape or size you want; the important part is to have four candles, one for each of the four weeks preceding Christmas, and a center candle for Christmas Eve or day.  Each week, you light a new candle, in addition to the ones you’ve already lit as a way of counting down.  Sometimes the outer candles are colored {usually three purple and one pink} and in different traditions, they represent things like peace, love, joy, hope, etc.

advent

Sometimes they can be huge, like this one our church used last year…how cool is that?!  But it’s also fun to have one in your home that you can light with your family on a weekly or even nightly basis to help get everyone excited about and focused on the season.

decorations13

We’ve had several different types of Advent wreaths in the Artsy House over the years.  For several years, we used this simple one where I wrapped berries around a gold candle wreath.  But last year, we attended an event where we made the super cool stenciled wooden box with mason jars and fresh greens pictured above.  For more information on that one and a full tutorial, check out my Advent Box post.  {That one also uses battery operated tea lights…yay for fire safety with kiddos around!}

Make a Countdown Chain

chain

This tradition is really special to me because it’s something I grew up doing every year with my parents!  We make a simple paper chain to help us count down to Christmas.  Each day, we tear off a link of the chain after dinner and it tells us how many days are left!  You can also write activities on the links, or anything else you want!

Make/Use an Advent Calendar

I think my favorite of all the holiday traditions we do is our Advent calendar.  It starts December 1 and what we like to do is come up with a fun family centered activity for each day.  Sometimes it’s as simple as “kiss under the mistletoe” or to read a particular Christmas book.  Other times, it might be making a gingerbread house or gumdrop wreath, baking cookies, doing some holiday shopping, decorating our tree, or driving around to look at Christmas lights.  Each day, we all look forward to finding out what we’re going to do together.  For the past several years, we’ve used a storebought calendar that looks like a bunch of little presents stacked on top of each other.  You open up the doors to find the activities written on slips of paper inside.

But this year, I decided I wanted to make our calendar instead!  Silhouette is my jam, so when I saw this limited edition Silhouette Advent Calendar Kit, I begged for it.

It contains:
– a solid wood frame, painted white
– a 20-shape download card
– 35 hanging clips

I was really looking forward to showing you all how I made it and how crazy-cute it is, but sadly, it still hasn’t come yet!  I stalk the mailman every day to no avail.  But, at least I can show you some photos of what other people have done with it!  Take a look:

Silhouette Advent Calendar

Aaah!  Isn’t it fabulous?!  See why I wanted it!   While I’m waiting for mine to arrive, over at Silhouette, you can get this kit for yourself at 40% off!   To claim your special deal, be sure to use the code ARTSY at checkout!  Of course, there are lots of other options for making or buying your advent calendar; the key is to make it something the whole family will enjoy!  Some people put candies in each day as well as the fun activities…there’s a win-win for you!  What are your favorite traditions leading up to Christmas?

I hope this gives you some fun ideas for ways to celebrate Advent at home with your family this holiday season!

Hugs & Glitter,

siggy

Oct 09

Festive Fall Cupcakes

By Amy Latta | Children

Fall is officially here, and what better way to celebrate than with some festive cupcakes the whole family can help create?  Since Halloween is just around the corner, Jack-o-Lanterns and monsters are everywhere, so you might as well have some on your plate too {or in your tummy}!


pkin6

You’ll need:
– 12-24 cupcakes
– assorted candies {we used jelly beans, gumdrops, and shoestring licorice, but you could substitute all kinds of other things}
– canned frosting
– food coloring

We made our Jack-o-Lanterns first, so we started by mixing red and yellow food coloring into our canned white frosting until we had a nice shade of orange.  This is a great job for little helpers, who will enjoy dropping the coloring in as well as mixing it all up!

pkin1

The next step was frosting a dozen of our cupcakes…this part was a Mommy-job, but luckily I had a good supervisor to oversee my work and make sure I was doing everything just right.

pkin2

Then, it was time to add the faces!  My Little Crafter loved giving each pumpkin eyes, nose, a mouth, and a stem using various pieces of candy.

pkin3

To make the gumdrops into the shapes we wanted, I laid down some parchment paper, put the gumdrop on top, then rolled it flat with a rolling pin.  Then, I took a knife and cut it into a triangle or whatever shape we wanted it to be.  Little Crafter had fun choosing the colors he wanted for each part and making the pumpkins have different expressions, like happy, silly, and serious.

pkin5

But of course, we couldn’t make the whole batch into Jack-o-Lanterns because how do you make cupcakes without having some chocolate?!  Since the only brown pumpkins I’ve ever seen are rotten ones, we decided to get creative and make some monsters out of these instead.

pkin4

We used our same candy supplies here, but I think LC actually enjoyed making these even more because of the creative freedom he had…I mean, monsters can have one eye or four, or anything in between!  They can have antennae, ears, or whatever you like.  Noses and mouths are optional.  LC’s favorite thing was looping the licorice to make it look like a few of them were sticking out their tongues.

pkin7

Seriously, now.  How fun are these?!  And they couldn’t be easier to make, even for your smallest helpers.

pkin8

If you’re looking for a relatively easy fall activity, this is a great one, especially because when you’re done, you get to EAT them!  I’d love for you to stop by One Artsy Mama for more Fall Fun inspiration like our Candy Corn Treat Jars, BOO Bottles, Fall Coasters, and more!

Hugs & Glitter,

siggy

Sep 11

Fall Tree Craft

By Amy Latta | Children , General

fall tree craft

Fall is in the air, and that means it’s a fun time to do some seasonal craft activities as a family!

Today, I’m excited to share with you a cute autumn craft that’s simple enough to do with even younger kiddos and won’t break the budget.  Take a look:

POM-POM FALL TREES

Materials:
– styrofoam ball {1 per tree}
– assorted pom poms in fall colors
– stick from a real tree
– glue
– air dry clay

Step 1:  Glue your stick to the styrofoam ball.  Push it in and twist a bit so that the stick is firmly inserted, then add some glue to hold it in place.  We used low-temp hot glue so that it dried quickly but wasn’t hot enough to burn little fingers.

Fall Tree Craft

Step 2: Glue pom poms around the entire ball so that it’s totally covered.  Again, we used low-temp hot glue because otherwise this process would take forever.  The adults put a tiny bit of hot glue on the ball, and the kids pressed a pom pom in place, then we repeated that as we worked our way around.

fall tree craft

Fall Tree Craft

Step 3: Create a base for your tree using air-dry clay.

Pom Pom Tree Craft

Step 4: Enjoy!  Use your creations as decorations to bring a little fall color inside your home!

tree craft

Amy Latta is the author of One Artsy Mama, where she shares a variety of project types including home decor, kids’ crafts, sewing, jewelry, and more.  Recently, she published her first e-book, Crochet 101, to help beginners learn basic crochet stitches and techniques.  She is happiest when creating something and enjoys making all kinds of projects with her 5 year old “Little Crafter.” In her spare time, Amy is a professional ballroom, latin, and swing dancer.  When not on the dance floor or crafting, you can probably find her at Starbucks.

Aug 14

Academic Skills Treasure Hunt

By Amy Latta | Children

Believe it or not, friends, August is almost halfway over!  And for most of us, that means it’s time to start thinking about the new school year!  Maybe your kids have already headed back to the classroom, or maybe they have a few more weeks to wait, like my little man does.  But no matter what the schedule, it’s a good time to start reviewing and practicing some academic skills in a fun way!

Academic Skills Treasure Hunt

The family that plays together, stays together, right?

Here is a fun family activity you can adapt for kids of all ages to help reinforce some of the skills they need to succeed in school.  Or, if you homeschool, you can work it right into your curriculum!

Academic Skills Treasure Hunt

Materials:

– index cards
– coins or other small “treasures”
– tape {I used decorative washi tape for fun}
– marker
– pirate costumes {optional}

STEP 1: Label ten index cards with numbers.  Starting with card #1, write a clue on each card through #9  for where the next treasure/clue can be found.  Then, tape a coin or another small treasure {like a chocolate coin, a lollipop, a ring, or something else your child would enjoy} to cards 2-10.  Card 10 should not have a clue because it is the last one, just a treasure and a “Well done, matey!”

Academic Skills Treasure Hunt

STEP 2: Beginning with card #2, hide each card based on the clue written on the previous card.  For example, if card #1 says “Look in a cold place,” you can put #2 in the refrigerator.  If #2 says, “Look near books,” hide #3 on the bookshelf, and so on.

STEP 3: Hand card #1 to the child and let him/her begin the search!

Academic Skills Treasure Hunt

STEP 4: Once all the treasure has been found, remove it from the cards and have your child sort and count it.  Since we used money, we had him sort the coins by type and size, count how many of each coin type he found, and finally count up the value of the money.  If you used a different type of treasure, you can do your own variation; sorting by candy type, color, etc.

Academic Skills Treasure Hunt

This fun activity reinforces a number of different skills…and your child probably won’t even realize it’s educational!  Here are the things my son practiced as he searched for and found his treasures:

Sight words, Reading, Reading aloud, Sequencing, Following Directions, Counting, Sorting, Adding, Money values

If you have an older child, you can try variations to make the game age-appropriate, like incorporating vocabulary words into the directions on the cards.  You could also ask him/her to solve a math problem or spell a particular word before finding the next clue.  It might be fun to scramble a word in the clues too, like, “Look near the hocuc” and ask them to unscramble it {“couch”} to know where to search.  If your child is learning geography, you can incorporate things like north, south, east, and west and have them plot the location of each clue on a map of the house.  There are tons of ways you can personalize this basic activity, and I promise your kids will enjoy it!  For extra fun, locate a few props like a bandana, a scarf, or some face paint and get the whole family in on the fun by dressing up like pirates.

Academic Skills Treasure Hunt

What are your family’s favorite ways to play together?

Hugs & Glitter,

siggy

Jul 17

Make an At-Home Photo Booth for Free Family Fun!

By Amy Latta | Children

How to Make an At Home Photo Booth

The family that plays together stays together, right?

It can be a real struggle for families to find and spend quality time together these days.  Many moms and dads work long hours and are exhausted by the end of the day.  Not to mention the fact that in today’s economy, most families don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on various activities.

In our family, we are constantly trying to find the balance between giving each person time to recharge alone, getting date time as husband and wife, and having fun all together.

One of the things I’m constantly brainstorming is what kinds of family activities we all can enjoy even on weeknights that will strengthen our relationships for years to come!

Here’s a quick, easy, and totally free idea for something to do that will bring out the silly side in everyone!

At-Home Photo Booth

You’ll need:

– a camera/smartphone
– access to a computer
– props and backgrounds {optional}

Recently, my son and I were at the mall when he spotted a photo booth and asked me what it was.  I explained that you pay money, sit inside, and it takes several photos of you that print out on a strip.  He, of course, was immediately sold.  I, on the other hand, could think of lots of better uses for my $3.  Then it hit me, photo booths are fun.

 Why not do it on our own?  

To have your own photo booth experience, you can either put up a sheet or blanket to make a background, or use a plain wall behind you.  Then, pose in as many silly ways as you can imagine and take the photos either by flipping the camera on your phone or setting up a tripod.  Here are a few ideas for making your photos memorable:

1. Face It

We tried all the crazy faces we could think of: bunny ears, big grins, serious faces, “deep in thought” faces, fish faces, sticking our tongues out…well, you’ll see for yourself.   It can actually be a funny way to see how similar your facial features really are to those of your children…

2. Give Yourself Props

For New Year’s Eve, I used my Silhouette Cameo cutting machine to make hats, mustaches, masks, and more out of cardstock and popsicle sticks for us to use.

We even got the extended family, my parents, to play along!

If you don’t want to make your own props, use things you already have around the house!  Get out various sunglasses, hats, or even old Halloween costumes.

3. You’ve Been Framed

Holding an empty photo frame can add another fun element to your snapshots.

4. Strip It

There are online photo editors like PicMonkey.com and Ribbet.com where you can upload your photos and turn them into collages totally free!  If you want that authentic photo booth feel, you can have it!  Just create your collage, print, cut, and voil·!

The best part about it?  Well, there are actually a few.

It’s easy, it’s free, and it’s fun for the whole family.  Plus, you can have all the entertainment you want without even having to leave the house.

And hey, some of the photos might turn out to be useful in the future, like on your Christmas cards or to embarrass your kids in front of their prom dates.

Here’s to families and fun!