Monday, February 17, 2014

Huge Presidents Day Sale on....Oh Wait, It's Just a Craft!

I had the chance to do craft last night at our church kids’ program. This particular group of kids is all third and fourth graders who are hilarious, creative and silly.

We have only a short time to do our craft before they rotate to the next activity so the craft has to be easy, quick, age-appropriate and following the theme of the badge they are trying to earn. Even loosely.

Okay, the scene is set.

I started the night with a question.

“Who is out of school tomorrow?”

Most said they were. We paused to consider the sad kids from a neighboring ISD who didn’t have the day off. However, since they had an earlier snow day we didn’t have, resulting in their having to attend school the next day, I assured them that they weren’t being robbed.

So the holiday is just for fun, right?

I asked the kids why they are out of school and the responses varied.

“I dunno.”

“Valentine’s Day?”

“Just ‘cause.”

Then the bright shining example of childhood genius who said, “Presidents Day?”


I asked them if they knew what presidents or why we honored them in February.

“Their birthdays!”

Excellent job teachers, they are listening to you! So we made president magnets to honor the day. I mean, these guys are being immortalized with fabric and mattress sales and $1.00 foot-long hot dogs. The least we could do is craft them. Right?


At that point we started laying out the pieces of our presidents. The craft consisted of the following “ingredients”.

Pretty standard really.

(Sorry, a little Dr. Evil there)

I had to pre-paint the clothespins due to time restrictions. Each kid got a blue and a black clothespin.

To be honest, for the rest of the pieces I had no template. I made this thing up as I went along. I freehanded some roundish shapes from cream-colored felt. Feel free to trace and precisely cut out your shapes if that’s how you roll. I consider each of these to be one-of-a-kind artistic gems! Ha!

I made a pile of white bell-shapes, a pile of vaguely anvil-shaped blue “hats” and then cut rounded “u” shapes out of white that I later “hollowed” out to be puffy powdered wigs for George.

For Honest Abe, I cut more of the cream-colored head shapes, black rectangles for the stovepipe hats, skinny rectangles from black for the hat brims and white triangles for his shirt pieces.

I made some thinner “u” shapes from black that got hollowed out to make his beard/burns combos.

See photo progression here:

The kids immediately had questions.

“Why do we have to do the blue clothespins for George Washington? Did Lincoln never wear blue?”

“Did Lincoln have hair? Should we make him hair?”

“So Lincoln only had a beard and Washington only had hair?”

“Does the white shirt thing have to face down? Why aren’t they the same?”

You will notice that Washington gets more of a cravat-looking piece of white felt to mimic the ruffles, or “puffy shirt” as our friend Seinfeld would call it. I explained that, due to there being decades between their presidencies, the fashion had changed.

I further explained that we just have more pictures of the two presidents in those particular colors and it helps us differentiate between the two. I told them they were welcome to vary the wardrobe.

Also, Lincoln probably had hair, some photos show it thinning. He has hair on the penny. Washington may have grown a beard at times. Maybe over long weekends when he didn’t have to hit the office. Or on game day.

They seemed satisfied.

We wrapped the whole thing up with drawing on faces and attaching the magnets and they went along their merry ways-a little wiser about former presidential facial hair.


Hopefully this will give you a little inspiration the next time you feel like buying a new mattress doesn’t quite get the “Thanks for being born, founding fathers,” message across!

one of my very creative friends, Bella, made these guys!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What I am Doing Until Curling Comes on Tonight

As I sit here on another “not-snow-day” during the coldest winter in history, I felt it necessary to put in the classic film, Spies Like Us. Also fitting, considering the current Olympics in Sochi. 

Well, maybe that’s a stretch. Nevertheless, I felt it an appropriate Cinematic choice.

As I sit here and write, I have a lovely view of our fireplace. It makes me very happy.  It may not be Pinterest-worthy but it is Evans-worthy so we’re all good. I should be writing for work, but the fireplace is inspiring me to write this first.

On the last “almost-snow-day” when the kids were released 20 minutes early but there was really only ice to play with, the youngest child and I worked on lightly decorating the house for Valentine’s Day. We just used what we had on hand.

I am not suggesting that everyone has on hand what we have on hand.

I have a problem.

I admit it.

We have a pretty well stocked mini-Hobby Lobby in the front room.

Anyway, to make our paper heart garlands I got out some different shades of pink card stock and some card stock printed to look like old letters. I sliced them up into strips about 11” long. They were roughly an inch wide. I didn’t measure. I eyeballed. Measuring takes patience, time and caring that they are all an inch wide. I had none of those things.

I started this process while the kids and their friends were out playing in the “snow”. That ended fairly fast and they came back in for a cocoa break.  Well, it started as a cocoa break. It ended up as a “We don’t want to go back out there at all for the rest of the night,” break. It was pretty stinkin’ cold.

Doesn't Molly look cold?
*Neighbors to and from the north, this side note is for you:

We know that 19 degrees is balmy, t-shirt weather for you. We know. We know!

But for us, 19-degree weather is hibernate and put on forty-five layers, like Randy from A Christmas Story, weather.

Please do not email me scathingly condescending comments about our wimpiness. Talk to me in August when you are melting in 85 degrees and we are doing yard work in 114. So there! (Sorry, the cold makes me grumpy)

So as the mass of kids downed their cocoa and took off around the house, the decorating continued.

How cute are these marshmallows???

 The youngest child, who can sense any crafting in a fifty-mile radius, appeared out of nowhere.

“Can I help you?”


“Can I punch holes?”


“We can set up a system. You can fold the strips and I can punch the holes in them.”

“Sounds good.”

So we did. I folded all the strips in half and passed them to my hole-punching comrade (see what this movie is doing to my vocabulary?).

The next step was to twist the strips in and glue each end to the other with glue dots. This makes the heart shape.

My plan was to string the hearts on twine through the center hole and they would hang all catawampus. I have made a paper heart chain like this before, but quickly realized that I had used much thicker twine so it worked better that way.

As I tried to come up with a solution that wouldn’t make the hearts all clump up on the thinner bakers’ twine, the youngest child said, “Why don’t we punch holes on each side, too. Then they will line up and not bunch up.”

Ah, the orderliness of this kid’s brain both scares me and fills me with pride.

She may also have just been trying to punch more holes.

“We can save all of these paper punches. They are really pretty and look like ice cream sprinkles,” she said. “My art teacher needed these this year for our ice cream project so we can save these so next year she won’t have to use glitter.”

Shout out, Mrs. Lake! We have paper punches for you. You just need another fifteen cups or so and you should have enough for school! I’ll get the child right on that.

She was right, the hearts strung much easier on the twine with the extra holes on the side. She punched, I strung, and kittens batted and swatted the finished hearts. Soon, we had enough to wrap the bannister and string on the fireplace.

"What are you people doing down there?"
A few punched-out hearts taped on our “fake” candles on the mantel added an extra detail for about two minutes worth of work.

The canvases the girls already painted last year are already perfect for the theme.

The youngest child was very happy to have helped make the house “beautiful”.

“This is a really good project for kids to help make,” she said.


Perfect for icy, cold, stuck-inside days.

The little burlap banner was easy, too, but took a little more work, wonder-under, an iron and sewing. I can share if anyone is interested.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

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