Hilltown Families Handmade Valentine Swap, 2022

The annual Hilltown Families Handmade Valentine Swap is a tradition I’ve participated in several times now, in which children, adults, and families living in the “Hidden Hills” of the Berkshires make and receive homemade Valentines.

I first joined the fold in the “adult” category, before Juli was born; but it’s become a favorite art project for us to work on together.

Last year, we made magic wands and flowers with heart-shaped petals using Avery labels, foam hearts, wooden craft sticks, and ribbon.

We took a cue from Avery (the company’s blog and weekly inspo eblast is a great one) again this year: As it happens, 3/4″ diameter round labels (dots) are the same size as the bottom of a Hershey’s Kiss, and Avery offers a printable template to turn your Kisses into home-made conversation hearts.

We had some perfectly sized Valentine stamps in-house, though, and chose to manually stamp our labels instead of using the template. The stamps were a gift, but similar to these, and I found a red ink-pad via 2000 Plus office supplies.

Three Kisses in a baggie looks a little bit like a heart, and a festive enough with some Valentine-ribbon. I found both the Kisses and the ribbon in bulk on Amazon.

Then, we paired them with Juli’s handmade Valentine cards to mail to her list of recipients (10 other kids of varying ages, living in towns across western Massachusetts). She chose to make a different card for every person this year, as opposed to assembly-line style (which also has its merits).

Juli started receiving her handmade Valentines the first week in February, but I hoarded them until our traditional heart-shaped pizza feast on Valentines Day to see the spoils. As usual, it’s a great haul, including some newspaper art, an original pen-and-ink illustration, a clay coaster I’m using right now, and a sassy flamingo.

Breaking Down the Scrap: Monthly Intro Page

I’ve been documenting life in scrap-form steadily for many years, with varying degrees of creative oomph.

Sometimes, it’s simply enough to just get the photos into the pockets and call it a day; other times the crafty bug strikes, and layouts turn into paper-based celebrations of mundane errands. It really depends on how your week is going.

That said, in an effort to flex my creative muscles more regularly and incorporate some more journaling type scrapping into the mix, I’m trying a new thing in my Project Life album: an intro page for the month.

A scrapbook layout with a lot of black and pink colors and a photo of a woman with black hair pulled back making a kissing face.
layout jcs 2022

This layout for November was meant serve as one-part vision board, one-part nod to my two favorite geographic states-of-mind (if you will): the mountains and the sea. It’s an 8.5×11 collage in a 12×12 album.

The featured focal point is musician / cosmetics maven Qveen Herby, as I repurposed packaging from a recent purchase from her company, and have been vibing on her music for months.

Elements, clockwise:

– SHEIN Stationery stickers

Original art-card, art by Ron Ragusa

– Repurposed eyeshadow packaging and coupon postcard, Qveen Studio

Apothecary stickers, Amazon

– Miscellaneous scrap paper and glitter tape

House of Wax

I’ve shared the super-easy recipe for recycled crayons here before, but this week we decided to give it a Halloween spin, attempting spooky color combinations like black and orange or purple and red.

Of course, we had to assign names to the new cray-ations: from top left, I give you Jack-o-lantern, Dracula’s Blood, Dead-end Road, Midnight Blue, Mermaid Sea, Candy Corn, Fire in the Sky, Ghostly Greys, and Swamp Thing. 😉

Tip: Because these are so fat, they’re great for gravestone rubbings. There are also often surprise color combos inside once you give these a crack — so get whackin’!

The Making of the Mummy

A Blogtoberfest Guest Post — and craft tutorial! — by Cory of Juniper Studio

We are a fall family. Hikes, cranberry bogs, roasting chicken, apple picking. It’s the best. The boys are in LOVE with the acorns and vibrant leaves and pumpkins, or as Lucas calls them, pumpies. Gosh, I hope he never stops calling them pumpies.

To celebrate the season, we made mummies. This thing came out WAY spookier than I expected. Perfect for Halloween!

We started by pilfering my husband’s white undershirt collection. Tee hee. I cut a small slit in each piece of fabric and the boys ripped strip after strip after strip. They loved this SO. MUCH. Jackson talked about the noise it made and the lengths and widths of each strip. Such a simple, satisfying activity for my boys, and great for their hand muscle development. Sanctioned destruction. Big mama points.

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Once we had a pile of fabric strips, we made two large bowls of “dye”, one tea and one coffee. Both boys smelled the tea bags and the coffee grounds and helped stir each liquid. They listened to the drip of the coffee maker, felt the sides of the warm bowls, and watched the swirling steam. A sweet sensory component to this activity. We always try to savor the simple things.

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The boys lowered each strip into the liquids and poked them with spoons to make sure they were fully submerged. We checked on them after just a few minutes and they had already absorbed quite a bit of color. Jackson helped pour out the excess liquid, and we hung them on the deck to dry.

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Now that we had our fabric prepped, it was time to assemble our mummy. We used a Styrofoam head base (a few dollars at a local arts and crafts store), googly eyes (any excuse to use googly eyes), and a hot glue gun. Jackson carefully placed every strip, applying a dab of glue to secure each end to the head. It was amazing to watch the emergence of this guy’s personality!

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What I loved most about this activity was the integration of a variety of opportunities for focus and discussion and learning: motor work ripping the fabric, sensory exposure brewing coffee and tea, science experimentation dyeing the fabric, spatial awareness and problem solving wrapping the strips around the head.

This is how kids learn, by doing and trying and experiencing and talking. In this case, we also got a pretty neat mummy friend out of the process. Boo!

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From Juniper Studio: My babies have been the perfect test subjects for the countless projects I have on my “To Try” list… eager to paint and swirl shaving cream and try yoga poses, and easily paid with food and hugs. Pretty sweet.

Hand-made thank you notes

Juli (2) and I collaborated on a few thank you note designs recently. Materials: Crayola finger paints, Project Life 2×3 cards, cardstock, assorted embellishments. The circles were made by putting pouch caps in paint.