Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dino-Land #projectcrafthappy

I received a lot of positive responses to my last post, Little Beach, in the Project Craft Happy Series. So today I'm going to tell you about another gift I recently made that is similar to the Little Beach, but less messy to play with. 


Start with a cardboard box. Any box will do, but I love using the kind of boxes with the lids already attached because kids lose box lids! The hubs gets random computer equipment mailed to him for his work, and I'm constantly squirreling away the mailing boxes.

Decorate the outside with whatever medium you prefer. I went with felt because I couldn't pull the mailing stickers off without damaging the box. Then open it up and decorate the inside as a dinosaur landscape!

I had so much fun with this project! When I was little, I went through a dinosaur phase. I was totally obsessed with anything dinosaur! My mom even handmade me a dinosaur costume one year for Halloween. Creating this tiny landscape was like taking a trip back to that age again. I glued down rocks from our own backyard and a plastic plant. At first I used hot glue, but then I supplemented with a fabric glue because the felt was not adhering as well as I liked. Of course, you don't have to glue anything down and leave everything loose for more imaginative play.

I happened to have a piece of tye dye felt which worked fantastically for the sky backdrop and the water in the little lake!

Then, I just added some small plastic dinosaurs to play with! I glued two magnets at the places where the box closes to keep dinos from getting loose when not in play. And, of course, I put the kiddo's name on the top of the box because they love seeing their names on things!

If you enjoyed this craft, you can follow me here on the blog by entering your email address in the box at the top right hand corner.  You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter @momheartspinot and search #projectcrafthappy for other great ideas!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Little Beach #projectcrafthappy

I can't believe it's not summer anymore.  Seriously! I'm still in denial over here! The weather in my area is supposed to be nearly 80 degrees today, and that feels normal right now. I'm not sure why this autumn has been particularly difficult for me to adjust to, but I feel like I'm just hurtling through time these days; like it was August, and I blinked and had to turn the calender to October. Summer days were definitely on my mind when I created this latest gift in my Project Craft Happy series! 

Kinetic Sand is all the rage these days, and I've been wanting to pick up a box for a while now, but every time I see the price tag, I flinch. I get it- it's supposed to be awesome stuff. But I'm cheap and there are a 100 recipes on Pinterest for similar products---- which I've been pinning---- but never get around to making. One of the the Meatball's therapists told me about a knock-off version at 5 Below called Sands Alive! So I grabbed a box figuring that it was worth the gamble for $5.  You guys? This stuff is sooooo cool!  Not only do my kids love it, but I could seriously play with it for hours. It has the consistency of wet sand, but the feel of flour. It's as messy as play dough, but not nearly as messy as sand.

We had 3 little girl birthdays coming up, so I came up with a cute gift using the Sands Alive. I bought some air tight Gladware, some small dolls, and tiny beach chairs from the wood section at AC Moore (only $1!).

I dumped the Sands Alive into the container and threw in some seashells, and it makes the perfect little beach!

Just for fun, I personalized each container for the girls using paint pens. Kids love seeing their names on stuff!

I cut out the care instructions for the Sands Alive and taped it to the bottom of the container, then packaged them all together. It made for a really cute presentation!

Of course, Red wanted in on the action, so I gave her a little beach chair to use with her own Sands Alive and dolls. She played for nearly an hour! One of her favorite things was the sea shells! There are tons of options for imaginative play, and it's an awesome sensory activity. This gift would also pair nicely with dinosaurs- "Tommy's Dino Land"!

My nephew turned 16, and his dad gave him his old car to fix up, so I wanted to give money as his gift. But I also wanted to give him a little something handmade. I personalized a Rubbermaid container and plopped some Sands Alive inside and Boom! Super easy gift!

High school is stressful, so I thought this would be perfect to play around with during study breaks. Sure enough, he and a few of his friends were mesmerized by it- I wish I had thought to take a picture! A couple of high school boys remembering what it was like to chill out and play with something like play dough! We all need to be reminded of this- sometimes it's really relaxing to just zone out and color with with crayons with Red or smush some play dough. This would be a great gift for someone to keep at their desk at work! It's not messy and so far ours hasn't dried out.

If you enjoyed this craft, you can follow me here on the blog by entering your email address in the box at the top right hand corner.  You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter @momheartspinot and search #projectcrafthappy for other great ideas!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Little Chef #projectcrafthappy

Hello MHP fans!

I decided to take a writing hiatus over the summer to focus on my family. It was sort of unexpected as the Meatball's Early Intervention was amped up a bit plus the hubs had a huge cluster of work travel thrown into the mix. But it's great to be back on track! I'm happy to report that I've stuck with my 2014 goal to hand make all my gifts, and I've been collecting pictures along the way so I can share these great ideas with you!

Red was invited to a super cute cooking party at our local Giant Foodstores. The kids each made their own pizzas and worked together to mix up a batch of cookies with the store chef- very fun! I was stumped on a gift idea, so I asked Red for help.

"What does Maci like to do?"

"COOK! She's having a COOKING party!"

"Yea, she is having a cooking party, but what other things does Maci like? What toys does she play with at school?"

"COOKING! She LOVES cooking!"

I don't know if Maci really does play with the kitchen set at school all day or if Red was just so focused on the fact that Maci was having a cooking party therefore cooking must be her most favorite thing ever---- either way, I got an idea!

The craft stores sell plain aprons, so I bought one and painted "Chef Maci" on the front using regular fabric paint.

Red loved it! You can't go wrong with hearts and bubble letters! But I thought it needed something more, so I hit up the Dollar Tree to finish off the gift.

Our Dollar Tree actually has Betty Crocker brand cooking utensils! I grabbed a mixing bowl, spatula and whisk, wrapped them all up together, and it really made for a cute gift! Plus, it went with the theme of the party, so that's an added bonus!

You could throw in some cupcake liners, box cake mix, sprinkles and other candy cupcake toppers. Or if you want to spend even more, I've seen various wooden play cake and cupcake sets, or play food. There are many great add on ideas! If you're intimidated by the fabric painting, don't be! It's a lot easier than you think- plus, kids are impressed by very simple artwork, so it doesn't have to be a picasso. 

If you enjoyed this craft, you can follow me here on the blog by entering your email address in the box at the top right hand corner.  You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter @momheartspinot and search #projectcrafthappy for other great ideas!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Story Stones #projectcrafthappy

I came across the perfect gift for one of Red's oldest friends, Eddie! Eddie just turned 5, and he and Red have known one another since she was born, a little over 3 months after he was born. Eddie has a great imagination! He and his dad do a lot of story play with toys, making up elaborate tales about the little cars and figures they're playing with.

A while ago, I found these Story Stones for sale at, and I was all- Yea, like I'm going to pay $48 for 12 painted rocks. Sorry. I'm all about artists making their wage, but that's a little steep! I filed the idea away in the back of my head, and remembered it when we were invited to Eddie's birthday party. I knew I had to make some Story Stones for him!

The card included with the stones reads "Pull the stones from the bag using the pictures to tell a story as you go!" You can paint whatever images you like to inspire a great story! Also, 5 year olds loooooove to tell stories! They can play this over and over again and come up with all sorts of adventures!

I used simple craft acrylic paint then coated them with gloss Mod Podge. My only tip is to choose rough stones, not smoothed river stones, as the paint sticks better to a rough surface.

Then I tied them up in this cute bag I had leftover from my Baby Shower Quick Change project!

Eddie's Mom sent me some sweet texts to let me know the Story Stones were a hit! Eddie's dad even got in on the action telling some tall tales over Birthday dinner!

Happy Birthday, Eddie!

If you enjoyed this craft, you can follow me here on the blog by entering your email address in the box at the top right hand corner.  You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter @momheartspinot and search #projectcrafthappy for other great ideas!

Baby Shower Gifts and Overcoming the Crafty Unknown #projectcrafthappy

I don't know why, but people seem to have babies in waves. It could be months without any new babies, and then all the sudden there's a cluster of births! I'm in the midst of what appears to be baby season, having attended 3 baby showers in the past month and knowing 2 more women close to me that are having new little ones!

For my cousin Chrissy's gift, I looked to her registry for inspiration. She chose the CoCaLo Turtle Reef bedding for her baby's room, so I decided to make her a painting with a sweet saying that matched the theme.

All it took was a quick search on Pinterest for "Baby Sea Ocean Sayings Quotes" to find what I wanted to write. Even if you're not a painter, you can do a simple painting such as this. Many of the images on baby bedding sets are simple designs.  Whether it's monkeys, sailboats, dinosaurs or owls- you CAN redraw them! Start by looking at each picture as a set of shapes- oval for the body, circle for the head, hands and feet- and lightly sketch them on the canvas with pencil. Then work in layers, putting down base colors first then adding details after the base has dried. Finally, throw some highlights on there to give it depth and hide any imperfections. The key to doing paintings like this is Try Not To Overthink It! You don't have to get the exact curve of the turtle shell or the perfect shade of blue for the spots. This will be hanging in a room filled with other pieces from the bedding set, so it will flow nicely even if it's not a perfect match!

I made this next project for 2 different moms-to-be, and I actually found the idea on Pinterest at Inspire Co. by Amy Powers. Quick Change bags are small, handmade cloth bags, each filled with a size 1 diaper, a disposable changing pad, and a baggie of wipes. The idea is you can grab one when you're on the go with baby and know that you at least have everything you need for a quick diaper change!

This was my very first sewing project! Several years ago, my mom completely surprised me with a sewing machine for Christmas. She told me that sewing is the only craft I haven't attempted yet, and I thought to myself "There's a reason for that!!!" I have very distinct memories of my mom hunched over the sewing machine, cursing under her breath while pulling strands of thread from the various gears inside. However, I also have very distinct memories of all the Halloween costumes, prom dresses, bags and clothes she lovingly handmade! I want to be that kind of mom, but I was super scared to use the machine. I knew I needed the right project for my first try at the sewing machine, and when I came across these bags, I thought they'd be simple enough. 

So I sat down with my mom and got her tutorial. She explained the sewing machine to me the same way she explained her cooking... "And then you add some oregano--- how much oregano? I don't know- as much as tastes good. You'll know. Trust me- you'll know." Threading the line through, she remarked that if it's not thread correctly, it just won't work, so "you'll know."

I kid, but the thing with my mom is that she's not going to walk me through each step like a talking manual because she wants me to learn how figure it out for myself. She'll give me the basics, the general how-to, but she has a way of empowering me to know that I can probably do more than I think I can. She did a couple of bags with me, and then set me up to work on my own. Later that night, I found myself cursing under my breath at this godforsaken machine.  I couldn't just wake her up with a phone call over a sewing crisis, and you know what? I figured it out. Just like how I never could cook anything other than tacos and Shake 'n Bake, but now I experiment with food all the time. I'm even developing my own catalog of recipes.  So, yea, she's right... I'll know. 

Isn't it ironic that in the first project I am encouraging all you readers to give painting a try even if you don't think you can do it, and it the second project I'm telling you about my own fears of a new craft and how I've gotten over it? Crafting is very gratifying. I love having a visual finished project, something I can say I made with my own two hands. Through this Project Craft Happy series, I hope you find inspiration to make something lovely as well! 

If you enjoyed these crafts, you can follow me here on the blog by entering your email address in the box at the top right hand corner.  You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter @momheartspinot and search #projectcrafthappy for other great ideas!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Stepping Stones Teacher Gifts #projectcrafthappy

It's the end of the school year! I can't believe Red just completed her first year of preschool!  It really feels like just yesterday we were dropping her off on her first day!

First Day of Preschool

Last Day of Preschool


When I was a youngin', I really don't remember the moms all going crazy with the end of the year gifts for teachers. I'm pretty sure some room mom always collected 5 bucks from each parent and bought a gift certificate "from the class." But these days, we've got Facebook and Pinterest and annoying bloggers who share their crafty shit, forcing us to one-up eachother on teacher gifts..... *ahem*

Which leads me to my latest idea in the #projectcrafthappy series: Stepping Stone Teacher Gifts!

I'll be honest, I have been so friggin busy working on my massive backyard revitalization project that I haven't had time for much else other than, you know, parenting to my kids. (I'll be sharing all my backyard creations here in the coming weeks, and if you follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @momheartspinot, you can get a sneak peak!) But I assure you I have been staying true to my New Year's #projectcrafthappy resolution to handmake all my gifts for an entire year. 

However, I was a little conflicted about the teacher gifts. I know a bunch of teachers who have told me that, while these crafty Pinterest-inspired gifts are lovely, they can only take so many Framed Crayon Monograms. The consensus is that the Starbucks gift card will do just fine, thank you. This gave me the peace I needed to plop a couple of those in some construction paper cards handmade by Red. But then just yesterday I had a pang of guilt.... I had to face the reality--- I have a resolution to uphold here! I can't make it all the way to May and just crap out on the teacher gifts. Of course, now it was the day before the last day of school, and I had no gift and no time! I looked around my craft room, waiting for inspiration to strike me, and that's when I spotted the perfect solution. 

Last summer, I helped Red make these adorable stepping stones. They were intended to be Christmas gifts for the family, but we never got around to making enough for everyone, so most of them sat in the basement. Voila! Not only does this fit the #projectcrafthappy theme, but these are all handmade by Red, which is appropriate for her teacher gifts!

So here's the deal--- last summer I had all these super cute food containers from the Meatball's Gerber Pasta pick-ups. Every time he ate one, I couldn't bear to chuck the sturdy, octagonal shaped dish in the recycling bin! I knew I looked crazy saving so many of these, but I just had a feeling they would come in handy!

Sure enough, the idea hit me when I was in the craft store one day- these would be perfect molds for cutie little stepping stones! So I picked up a box of stepping stone mix from the craft store. I think it was around $10, and I used a 40% off coupon.

I mixed it up, poured it into all the containers, and was pleasantly surprised to see how many stepping stones I would get out of this project- 14!

Then, I just laid them out assembly-line style, and sprinkled a bunch of dollar store glass gems across the table, and let Red go to town!

She was very involved with this project. She just quietly walked back and forth, adding gems as she saw fit. Then she would casually announce when one was completed and keep working on the others. My only input was pressing down any gems I felt needed to be smushed in a little deeper to ensure they'd securely stay put. I let them dry for about 24 hours, then popped the stepping stones out. The food trays are very sturdy and definitely reusable, so we will be doing this project again this summer for sure!

Of course, you may not have a toddler eating pasta pick-ups, but the point you should understand is that you can look at all sorts of containers for ideas! Or, pick up a few pre-fab molds at the craft store- they're sold right next to the stepping stone mix.

I packaged up three stones for each teacher with this little note that read:

"Thank you for being one of the first stepping stones in my education!"
Awwwww........ I know, barf. A little too sweet maybe, but hey, it's true and heartfelt! It's no Starbucks gift card, but I do love the idea that it's made by Red and it really will be a useful addition to their gardens!

If you enjoyed this craft, you can follow me here on the blog by entering your email address in the box at the top right hand corner.  You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter @momheartspinot and search #projectcrafthappy for other great ideas!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Butterflies & Spinderella #projectcrafthappy

My sister, Jennifer, and her husband share a birthday month, so I'm sharing the gifts I made for each of them in this post- It's March Madness for #ProjectCraftHappy!

My brother-in-law, Mike, is really into all things nature. There are random animal cages and tanks scattered about their house, weird things growing in pots on their kitchen windowsill, a chicken coup out back and wild mushrooms growing on logs on the side of the house. He even hosts #ShroomAtNoon and #InsectAtNoon on Instagram- search the hashtags and follow him at @glycine3 to see some really cool pictures!

What makes Mike even cooler is that he exposes my 3 nieces to nature every day. You can often find all 4 of them trekking through the woods, butterfly nets in hand, wading through creeks for tadpoles, turning over leaves for insect eggs. Here they are exploring the root system of an uprooted beech tree...

hunting for wild mushrooms...

and chillin' with some Polyphemus Moths!

One time, I was babysitting my then 4 year old niece, Annabelle, when she gave me a small seed looking thing that she found on the underside of one of the leaves from my herb garden. She told me it was a butterfly egg, and that I had to protect it. I checked with Jen and Mike to verify this, and she was, indeed, correct! 

Recently, a hawk broke into their chicken coup and killed one of the chickens. My niece, Gabriella, rationalized the sad situation that might otherwise be earth shattering for a 10 year old by stating "Maybe the hawk needed to feed her own babies". These kids understand the circle of life! It's so cool!

Mike loves butterflies, and each year he collects Monarch butterfly eggs, hatches them, raises the butterflies, and hosts a big Butterfly Release Party in his front yard for all neighbors. He sets up a tent where everyone can view the butterflies and hold them, and then at the end, everyone gets a butterfly to release. It's beautiful!

I wasn't sure what to make for Mike's birthday, but luckily I came across the instructions to for a butterfly feeder on the zoosociety.or website- perfect! You can check out the full instructions in the pdf in that link and make one for yourself! It was super easy. I have a ton of random jars laying around. Everything I read about attracting butterflies says they are drawn to bright colors because they seek nectar from brightly colored flowers. I used colorful washi tape (my new obsession!) to decorate the outside of this jar.

Then I wound gold wire around the jar until I was able to hang it upside down. I just looped and curled the ends of the wire to add a fun decorative touch to the jar.

I didn't add the sugar water before I gave it to Mike, but the directions are to heat a solution of 1 part sugar to 10 parts water, then cool before adding it to your jar and hanging outside. Any more sugar than that ratio could pose a dehydration risk to the butterflies. Also, clean and refill the jar every few days so it doesn't get funky and moldy from the sugar.


Jennifer balances what Mike teaches the girls about science with what she teaches them about all things awesome and pop culture. Jen is the oldest of my 4 sisters, and she always had the best music. She's the reason I appreciate Madonna and Salt 'n Peppa, and why I know all the dance motions Rob Base's "Joy and Pain". She always has good music on in the car when she's driving her girls to soccer, gymnastics, girls scouts and karate. She makes sure they get floors seats to Taylor Swift and even works her swagger to meet Taylor's mom in the crowd! A few weeks ago, I gave a tutorial on how to do a letter painting for my other sister's "Yo, Yo, Yo, Yo Baby Pop" painting, so you can check out the instructions there. I wanted to make something equally fabulous for Jen, so I took another iconic line from Salt 'n Peppa for her painting.

Happy Birthday, Jen & Mike! Keep raising those girls with good science and good music!

If you enjoyed these crafts, you can follow me here on the blog by entering your email address in the box at the top right hand corner.  You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter @momheartspinot and search #projectcrafthappy for other great ideas!