Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Kids Herb Garden - Boost Your Child's Gardening Enjoyment

Kids Herb Garden - Boost Your Child's Gardening EnjoymentBy Tony R Stevens

A kid's herb garden is a great way to give with no previous exposure to gardening the opportunity to see how things grow. For a child who has grown up doing gardening chores, it's a way to share the joy of planting and caring for a garden of their own. A child's personal garden of herbs can be fun, yet provide rewards for work well done.

The size of the herb plot must be one that a child can handle. A plot that requires adult help to prepare and manage is at least partially missing the point of the garden. This doesn't mean that you can't help your child to work in the garden. The space should be big enough so that more than one plant can be placed. Several varieties of herbs are best, since they won't all develop at the same rate. A container such as a window box will hold a fair-sized selection of herbs.

One way to manage the size of the herb garden is to use several small pots, one for each type of herb. You can move pots around to get better sunlight and watering opportunities when you might not be able to move a larger single container. It's important for the child to help you choose the container, with your guidance.

When you and your youngster are selecting herbs, don't get carried away with exotic or sensitive plants that are hard to grow. They should have some variation in colour, sprouting time and mature size. Think about where the plants will be housed and pick plants that are suited to that level of sun and shade. Choose fast-growing plants so that your child can see the sprouts coming through the soil rather soon after planting.

Watering the plants is another gardening task that should be the responsibility of the child. You can teach children how to measure for moisture in the soil. Giving plants regular watering and care teaches responsibility.
Expand your child's interest in the herb garden by associating the fresh herbs with the foods that they season. This can add a lifeline interest in cooking to your child's portfolio of skills. Fresh herbs react differently than dried herbs, but using the fresh herbs can make dishes possible that would not taste as good with dried herbs. Fresh thyme, fresh summer savory and fresh basil each taste delicious in soups and stews.

Children who love to do crafts may want to use their fresh herb plants as gifts for relatives and friends. Dried herbs can be packaged in small containers and given to those who enjoy gardening. Herbs are great for gardening friends or those who enjoy cooking with fresh herbs.

There is a lot of creativity in choosing favorite containers and plants to be included in a kid's herb garden. Children can exercise their artistic style as well as develop a sense of responsibility when they grow herbs. The benefit of getting joy from growing things is another great advantage of children's garden plots.

Are you looking to create your very own herb garden? Are you wanting to grow your own plants?

Tony Stevens is a freelance Expert Author and an herb garden enthusiast who understands how you feel. Looking for good and effective ways to growing a Kids Herb Garden you and your children can be proud. Tony Stevens did the research and came up with some effective methods to get your herb garden up and running in no time, at home that anyone can try. Visit his site today Gardening With Herbs to find out essential information advice and new strategies.

Stained Glass Effect Halloween Paper Lantern

Stained Glass Effect Halloween Paper LanternMake a beautiful stained glass effect Halloween Lantern, a beautiful Halloween decoration for any room. Made from a paper lampshade which will fit and ceiling light. When the light is switched on you see the full effect of the stained glass effect. Halloween Lanterns are a great alternative to pumpkins or Jack o Lanterns. 

To make the stained glass effect paper lantern you will need... 
A ball shaped paper lamp shade/lantern in any size you wish. Felt tip pens, black paint. 

You need to create a design for the lantern. Draw the design on a sheet of paper. You could use Pumpkin Patterns to give you some ideas. You can get around 3 designs on one lantern. 

Once you are happy with the design you can start work on the lantern itself. First you will need to erect the paper lantern. It should have assembly instructions with it. Unfold the lantern and insert a wire expander inside the lantern, this slots into place and keeps the lantern erect and taught. 

Take a black felt tip pen or a marker and draw the design on to the paper lantern. Be careful when you are doing this because the lantern is made of paper and the wet ink makes the paper fragile. If your pen does accidentally 'go through' stick a small piece of paper on the hole to patch it up and leave it to dry. 

Once your design is complete, paint the background of the lantern black. This is so that the lantern blocks out some of the light. Again you need to take care not to puncture the paper. Use two brushes to paint the lantern, a thin brush for small and detailed areas, and a thick brush for large areas. 

Top Tip - Paint from the top of the lantern to half way down, and leave to dry. Then turn upside down and paint the other half. Use a dish to stand the lantern on, it stops it from moving and raises it up from the work surface. 

For best results, give the lantern two coats of black paint. 

Once the paintwork is dry, you're ready to apply the stained glass effect. With coloured felt tip pens, colour in the white areas of your design on the paper lantern. Again take care. 

Now hang the lantern up from a ceiling light in your home. Every time the light is turned on your delightful design will glow like a stained glass window in a church. The lantern is a fun and unusual Halloween decoration. 

A spooky tip: Use glow in the dark paint on your design so that when the light is turned off, your spooky Halloween lantern will glow. 

Do not use a higher wattage bulb in the lantern than indicated with the lantern instructions and packaging.

Stained Glass Effect Halloween Paper Lantern

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Build a Simple Wind Spinner

Build a Simple Wind SpinnerBy Jasper Bailey

There seems to be no shortage of fans of the wind spinner. Whether you are a gardener or just somebody who likes a little whimsy and beauty in your yard space, wind spinners have something to offer you.

But the sheer number of choices can be overwhelming! One visit to a garden supply store can leave your head twirling. Do you want the dolphin-shaped spinner or the trolley car one? Maybe you just need some wind chimes. Or hey - how about a dragon-shaped wind sock complete with flapping wings!

One way to get back to the basics of these garden wind ornaments is to build your own. You don't need any special tools or skills. That's part of the joy - and it's a perfect craft to share with your kids.

In fact, once you start down the DIY Wind Spinner road, it's awfully hard to come back to buying somebody else's work!

Start be examining as many samples as possible. If you have an old one around, bring it into your house and study it under a magnifying glass. Can you figure out how it works? Can you see what you might need to fashion one of your own?

Study the materials. How are they cut? Are they shaped a particular way so that the wind will have a certain impact? Try and think outside of the proverbial box. Could you build one out of something that's just laying around the house?

One easy project is the soda bottle wind spinner. It only takes an hour or so. You can whip up a couple in just an afternoon. This particular spinner is a great reminds that keeping wind spinners basic is important. That has always been a big part of their attraction.

You want to take a clean, dry - and obviously empty - 2-liter bottle of soda. Be sure you still have the cap. Using a paper clip, create a hook (not unlike the kind you use to hang Christmas ornaments) and affix it through the cap. Next, attach a ball bearing swivel to the clip - you can buy one of these at any outdoor supply store. They are used primarily by fishermen.

Now you have the wind spinner body. Here is the fun part - decorate it! You can use just about anything under the sun. Try colored tape, construction paper, glitter paint or markers, tin foil, even crepe streamers. When you're done - go hang it from a tree or garden post.

Be careful, though. Once you get one successful DIY wind spinner under your belt, you're not likely to stop there. Before you know it, you'll have a whole yard and garden full of these homemade ornaments.

Got a hankering to learn more about wind spinners Check out Jasper Bailey's Guide to Wind Spinners a one-stop resource for garden ornaments of all kinds!

Great Craft Ideas from Hobbycraft - Fimo Disc Necklace

Hobbycraft leave craft project ideas around the shop that you can pick up for free. The cards show you what 'You can Make...'

If you click on the images below to enlarge them, you will see the instructions of how to make this cute little Fimo Disc Necklace - a great little craft project that you can enjoy wearing during the summer.

Once you have clicked on the image to enlarge it, you can print it off so that you have step by step instructions to help you make this lovely necklace.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Felted Knitting - Learn How to Create Your Own Felt Projects

Felted Knitting - Learn How to Create Your Own Felt Projects
By Megan Kutchman

Felted knitting is actually a rather simple, although time consuming process. You can learn to felt with these simple instructions. If knitting is rewarding, felted knitting is downright addicting! The only limit is your imagination. You can make hats, placemats, purses, coasters, slippers, dolls and so much more.

How It Works
Felting is the process of breaking down natural animal fibers (wool, alpaca, angora, etc.) through agitation. Specifically for felted knitting, washing machine agitating. When the animal fibers are exposed to heat and moisture and then agitated, the bond around the hair is loosened, causing the fibers to expand, loosen and bind together. This creates the smooth, felted texture, similar to regular felt.

What You Need
Felting can only be accomplished with wool or some other natural animal fiber. You can use a blend if animal fiber is the primary ingredient, but it cannot be machine washable. Yarn labels will tell you what the yarn is made of, in percentages if the yarn is a blend. In blends, try to find yarn with 15% or less synthetic ingredients. Pay attention to the label when you buy wool, because some wool is treated and can be machine washed. Machine washable wool cannot be used for felting. Also, avoid bleached white wool and use caution with lighter colors. These tend to not be receptive to felting.

You'll also want some type of bag to place your knitting in when you wash it. A fabric bag with a zip close is the best. I use a pillowcase that zips. Pillowcases are big enough to fit most felting projects. The reason you'll want to use a bag is your projects will shed a lot during the agitation process and too much shedding can clog and ruin your washing machine.
Those are the only felting-specific requirements. You'll use your regular needles and tools for the rest of the process.

Getting Started
Felted items begin as regular knitted items. Say you wanted a felted place mat. You would knit a place mat, making sure to follow the above yarn requirements, and then put the place mat through the felting process. Since felting shrinks the overall size of an item, you'll need to knit it a bit larger than your expected finished size. A general recommendation is to use needles 2-3 sizes larger than the yarn's suggested gauge. If the yarn label says to use size 8, try 10 or so.
All yarns felt differently. Even yarn from the same brand will felt differently. It's a good idea to prepare a test swatch and see how the yarn felts before you begin a large project. This helps you see how it will look and determine the proper gauge.

The Nitty Gritty of Felting
Ok, now to the actual process. After you've knitted your felting project, place it in a zippered pillow case or something similar. Now you'll want to make sure your washing machine temperature is hot as heat softens the fibers for felting.

You'll want the most agitation and a small amount of water, so your load size should be set at small. Add a tablespoon or two of detergent to the water (more detergent for large projects). If you're felting a small item such as placemats, slippers etc., throw in a pair of jeans to help with the agitation process.

Add your pillow case with project inside and you're ready to go.

From here on out, timing is everything. Until you have a good idea of how your washer performs at felting, you'll want to check progress every 5 minutes or so. How long a project agitates directly relates to how much it will shrink and bind together. Check each item frequently until it's about the right size. Make sure your washing machine never gets to the drain cycle - just keep resetting it on agitation.

It may take up to an hour before your felted project looks "just right". Don't get discouraged; it's well worth the wait. After checking it every 5 minutes or so, when it's finally finished, you'll need to rinse thoroughly.

Do this by hand in your sink or bathtub with cold to lukewarm water, and continuously wring it out - you don't want any detergent left over. After the soap is completely rinsed out, wring out as much water as you can by hand. I usually roll it up in a towel and squeeze to get the most water out.

Once you've wrung it dry, lay it flat on a towel and stretch it to shape. It will dry in whatever shape it's left in, so make sure you've got it stretched the way you want it.
After it's dry, you may want to pick off some of the pills left from felting it. Once you've done that, you're finished!

The entire process is simple and mostly a matter of preference. You decide what looks best and when to stop agitating your project in the machine. Remember though - felted knits are not machine washable, so plan accordingly if you're not a big fan of hand washing.

This is by no means a complete walkthrough on felting, but it should give you enough of an idea to get started. There are more tricks, techniques and variations on felting than can be summed up in a one-page article.

Megan Kutchman blogs about knitting, jewelry making, and her quest for a greener way of life at http://touchofavalon.blogspot.com

How to Make Playdough

How to Make Playdough
By Ray T. Lewis

Many of us have fond childhood memories of creating our own worlds with playdough. Now you can share that joy with the children in your life by making playdough at home. Making your own playdough is fast and easy, requiring only a few basic ingredients.
Here are two common recipes.
The Basic (Uncooked) Recipe
Materials Needed:
  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup of salt
  • 2 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of water
  • Food coloring
  • large mixing bowl
  • measuring cup
  • wax paper
  1. Prepare the area you will be using by laying out a layer of wax paper.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together breaking up any clumps.
  3. Add the oil to the flour and salt mixture.
  4. Fill the measuring cup with one cup of water. Add food color directly to the water and mix thoroughly. About 7 drops tends to product nice coloring, but add more or less as you see fit.
  5. Slowly add the colored water to the flour/salt/oil mixture. Pour about 1/4 cup at a time while mixing with a spoon.
  6. Once all the water has been added, continue to stir with the spoon until the mixture takes on a dough like texture.
  7. Transfer the dough to the wax paper and knead until the color is well distributed.
  8. Enjoy sharing and playing with your playdough.
Stovetop Playdough (This version involves a bit of cooking)
Material Needed:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp cream of tartar (optional for improved elasticity)
  • food coloring
  • a medium saucepan
  • wax paper
  1. Prepare your area by laying down a layer of wax paper.
  2. In the saucepan, combine the flour, salt, and cream of tartar (optional). Break up any clumps with a spoon.
  3. Add the oil and warm water to the dry mixture. Place over low heat, stirring constantly until the dough begins to thicken and pull away from the walls of the pan. (Note: the dough will resemble thick mashed potatoes)
  4. When the dough begins to clump in the center of the pan, remove the pan from heat and allow the dough to cool enough to be handled.
  5. Transfer the cooled dough to the wax paper and knead until the dough is a consistent texture.
  6. Roll the dough into a ball (or several balls) and press your finger down into the center of the ball creating a divot. Add several of drops of food coloring into the divot, then fold the color into the dough until it is evenly colored. Add more color as necessary.
  7. Enjoy playing with your freshly made playdough.
  • This playdough is edible and will not harm a child if eaten. (Of course, I wouldn't recommend eating it. It's quite salty and unpleasant.)
  • If you would like scented playdough, add a little flavor extract or scented oil (peppermint or lemon oil are good options) when you add your color. Be careful to use something that is food grade since little ones are likely to want to put the dough in their mouths if it smells edible.
  • To avoid staining your hands when kneading color into your dough, keep a pair of disposal plastic gloves on hand. Once the color is completely integrated, it should not come off on skin.
  • Be sure to store your playdough in an airtight container. If left out, the dough will dry out.
  • If your dough begins to dry out a bit, kneading a little bit of water into the dough should "refresh" it. However, after a certain point, you will simply have to throw the dried dough out and begin again.
  • If you are worried about the dough molding, storing the dough in the refrigerator when not in use will help keep the growth of mold and/or bacteria down.
To lean more, check out this page about how to make playdough or this page about how to make paper mache. They're both great.
Ray T. Lewis sometimes makes playdough on the weekend with his twin daughters.