Gettin Crafty Wid It – Harry Potter Wands

It’s been forever since I did any crafting around here, because I’m way too busy freaking out over the state of the now-revealed lawn. Why, oh why, did I ever wish for spring, when I had all that lovely winter snow covering up the grub-infested carpet of weeds that is our so-called lawn? I am seriously considering astroturf.

Anyway! A couple of days ago, I did find time to do a craft, mostly at the Little Miss’ insistence. So that means blog! fodder!

We made magic wands, but not girly wands, the kind you can buy in the store with purple feathers and sparkles and ribbons. These are wands made for pure magic, the kind that would make Harry Potter proud. I actually first made one a few years ago, when the Captain was Harry Potter for Halloween. At the time, I also made one for Gal Smiley, and with the Captain’s new found love of all things Harry, they’ve been running around here with their wands yelling “Wingardium leviosa!” and “Expectro Patronum” and “Bringy Meith a Sandwichia!”

Here’s what one looks like (click to enlarge all images):

Harry Potter Style Wand

Sadly, Gal Smiley snapped hers in half last week (not all sad – she pretended to be Ron from book 2 most of the time), and poor Little Miss never had one in the first place. So it was time to get crafty with it. I am grooooovy, man.

Let’s craft!

First, you will need to gather:

  • a piece of dowel – about 3/16 to 1/4 inch thick
  • a glue gun
  • a saw, or perhaps some scissors
  • sandpaper
  • black paint
  • glitter glue

Now, take your piece of dowel and cut it to length. Somewhere around 10 to 14 inches is good, depending on the size of your kid. If your dowel is thin enough (thinner than 1/4 inch), you might be able to just snip it with a tough pair of scissors. If it’s a little thicker, it might take a few strokes with a hand saw to snap it.

Sawing the Dowel to length

The end will be all rough, so sand it down. You want one end flat, and the other end slightly rounded. If you were super creative and had a lot of time on your hands, you could taper the whole thing from base to tip, like the “real” wands used in the movies. But I’m lazy so I just filed off the sharp bits with some medium grain sandpaper.

Sanding

Now, heat up the glue gun. First, use the gun to put a ring of glue around the flat base. Then, put another ring about a hand’s width up the shaft. This forms the “handle” part of the wand.

Handle part

Then take the glue gun, and for shaft part above the handle, make a pretty pattern. What I do is spin the wand while applying the glue, then twirl around at the top and come back down, so it ends up making a criss-crossed pattern.

You’ll want to leave about an inch of bare wood at the tip to make it look good.

With glue

WARNING, this gluing part is pretty annoying. The glue gets everywhere and I’m not going to lie to you, there will be cursing. Luckily, we are going for an organic vines-growing kind of effect here, so don’t worry about making it smooth and even. Even slips and slops are okay. If you get some of those little thin stringy bits hanging off the sides like hairs, you can let them cool slightly and then snap them off with your fingers, or let them dry completely and cut them off with scissors.

In any case, once you have the glue on, use the tip to lean it against something and give it an hour or so to dry.

glue drying

Once the glue is dry, it’s time to paint it. Previously, I always made the wands black, but the Little Miss asked for purple, so I tried to mix up the most dark, badass purple I could, and used that on hers. Last time I made these, I used a satin finish black wall paint I had kicking around from another project. This time, I just used Crayola craft paint. Both worked well, but the satin finish paint made for a cooler looking wand and also a nice, smooth feeling to the handle part, and the kids definitely prefer that. So if you have access to glossy paint, I’d recommend that; otherwise, just use craft paint and they’ll never know the difference.

painting

You want to paint all over everything, including the glue. Really lay it on there thick; you might need to come back in half an hour and put on a second coat. Also you’ll have to come back to touch up the spots where it was resting as it dried.

Literal shot of paint drying

Here’s a shot of them once all the paint is dry.

dry paint

Time for the last step! Get some glitter glue – here the kids customized their wands by choosing their own colour of glue, and apparently various colours represent various magic and Reducto and blah blah. Squeeze a puddle of glitter glue onto a bit of newspaper. Dip your finger in the glittler glue and rub it on just the glue-gun-design parts of the wand, to highlight them.

adding glitter

Give the glitter a few minutes to dry, and voila! AVADA KADAVRA.

finished wand

Or whatever.

Sentimentality Defined

When my mother was in high school, she had to make a Christmas stocking out of felt as a project for Home Economics. It had a name at the top and cut out felt shapes decorating the front. My mom made hers for her younger brother, my Uncle Mark, so it had little boy things on it like a train and a baseball bat. My mom added a jingle bell to the train and thought she was a shoo-in for the top mark.

Then some other girl showed up who had decorated both sides, even though the assignment was only to decorate the front, and so she got an A, while the rest of the class only got a B. My mom is still really bitter about this. If that woman is ever walking down the street and she sees my mother approaching, she should cross to the other side.

Anyway, the story has a happy ending in that my mother went on to use the pattern and the idea to make Christmas stockings for everyone in her entire family. When her four daughters were born, she made each of us our own special stocking with our name on it.

I’m pretty sentimental about practically everything in my life, but these stockings are a step beyond. I’ve hung mine up every year since I was one, and it is a very big deal. Here’s my stocking, the same one I’ve had since I was a baby. It features a plate, spoon and fork (because I apparently loved to eat); a telephone, a bear, and a duck (all representing toys that I liked); and a Christmas tree (every stocking has some sort of holiday symbol on it).

When I met Sir Monkeypants many, many years ago, he once lamented to me that he never had anything with his name on it growing up, because he has an unusual name. The first year we were together, I asked my mom for the famous stocking pattern so I could make one for Sir Monkeypants. My mother was pretty reluctant to hand over the pattern — I think she didn’t really like the idea of me making one of our special family stockings for some Joe I’d only been dating for a few months. She bit her tongue and let me make one, though. When Sir Monkeypants and I got married, I think it was a huge relief to my mom that his Christmas stocking had finally been made legitimate.

Someday I will remake Sir Monkeypants’ stocking, because the stuff on his is so specific to first year university. It features a bike, a UFO, a pig, a present, and music notes.

I had a lot of fun making Sir Monkeypants’ stocking, so when my kids were born, I made theirs too. I think my mom would have liked to have done it, but I was very excited to be creating a family heirloom for my own children so I considered the torch passed. FameThrowa drew all the pictures for me and I turned them into patterns. I’m pretty FREAKIN’ PROUD of these stockings, let me tell you.

Here is the Captain’s. His pictures are of fish, a football, a snowman, a car, and his special sleep buddy, a blue monkey.

Here is Gal Smiley’s — both FameThrowa and myself consider the pony on hers to be the pinnacle of our stocking-making success. Other items include a soccer ball, a handbag and high-heeled shoes, a wreath, and her special sleep buddy, a yellow sheep.

And now, I unveil for the first time, Little Miss Sunshine’s — it’s not quite assembled yet, but if I get it done today, it’ll be ready just in time for our first Advent Activity tomorrow. The Little Miss’ has on it a snowflake, a bunny, a beach ball, a teapot, cup, and cupcake, and her special sleep buddy, a brown bear.

Let the holidays begin!

On The First Day Of Christmas

Andrea at Quietfish is always doing something beautiful and crafty with her daughters. I read about these projects on her blog and I always think, “Oh, that’s so lovely, but I’d never have the energy to put that together.”

Then, an hour later, I’m thinking, “Well, I do have that big pile of wrapping paper scraps just sitting around.”

And an hour after that, I’m thinking, “And, she did make things really easy for me by providing the pattern and the numbers and everything.”

And two hours after that, it’s all, “I guess I have a lot of activities I want to do with the kids this month, anyway, so really, is it going to be that much extra work?”

Next thing you know, I’m making a 25 mini-envelope advent calendar filled with daily family activities:

Advent Calendar

Advent Calendar Closeup

I’m pretty excited about this calendar and the kids are too. I’m just afraid I’m going to run out of energy by the time we get to December 25th! At least my shopping is pretty much finished. I don’t think I would attempt this if I still had all my shopping to do, too, because the mall? It sucks the life out of you. Seriously. The only known cure is Diet Coke, The Elixir Of Life.

Anyway, here’s what we’ll be doing every day in December. Assuming I survive the first week. Don’t tell the kiddies, it’s a surprise!

1. Hang up our stockings.

2. Put up the tree.

3. Make paper snowflakes and hang them in the window.

4. Watch The Sound Of Music [but not the scary Nazi parts at the end] with chips and popcorn.

5. No school! [It’s a PD day.] Visit with the Carl Sagans.

6. Play a board game with Mommy and Daddy.

7. Wrap a present for your brother or sister.

8. Have a bubble bath in the big tub.

9. Visit Santa; take a toy to Toy Mountain.

10. Build a fort in the front room.

11. Make a paper chain and hang it up.

12. School Christmas Concert Day!

13. Make a book about Christmas. Or Star Wars.

14. Make gingerbread houses [from graham crackers – no baking required!]

15. Make Peppermint Bark.

16. Dance Party!

17. Go to the KidZone. [An indoor playground.]

18. Bring a present to school for your teacher.

19. Put a giant piece of paper on the floor and make a city map for cars and trains.

20. Get dressed up for dinner – we’re having take out!

21. Make a snowman and have some hot chocolate.

22. Go to the bookstore [or library, if you have quieter children than I do] and read books about Christmas.

23. Go for a drive – in your PJs – to look at Christmas lights.

24. Bake cookies for Santa.

25. Open presents, and call your grandmothers to say Merry Christmas!

Here are some other ideas I had that I didn’t use in the end. Most of them are very easy, so I’ll use them if I need to make a last minute substitution for some reason; otherwise, we’ll do them over the school break.

Decorate a cut-out tree with Fruit Loops.
Make rice krispie squares.
Colour a picture and mail it to Grandma.
Go to the video store and rent one movie each.
Make a giant mural by gluing on pictures of toys from flyers and magazines.
Build a train track all around the Christmas tree.
Go sledding.
Make a silly crown and have a parade (the Captain has big plans for this one on Christmas day — I think he thinks we will be parading all through the town, so watch for us on your street!).

It all sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Hopefully it’ll be fun, too!

Many thanks to Andrea for the idea, the patterns, and for making me a better Mommy!

It’s All About The Sugar

Happy Halloween!

I’ve been baking.

Yesterday I made two dozen of these for Captain Jelly Belly’s Halloween party:

Pumpkin cookies

They look really impressive, but actually they kind of taste like slightly sugary air. No flavour whatsoever. Plus they were a pain in the ass to make — the dough was very finicky and supervising the cutting out of shapes almost gave me a coronary. So I’m not sure how often I’ll be making these again. I hear they were a big hit at the party, though.

For Gal Smiley’s party, I made two dozen of these:

Pumpkin cupcakes

That’s a pumpkin-shaped marshmallow on top of the cupcakes. The marshmallows are simultaneously disgusting and highly addictive. Plus, despite their small size, they contain about 100 teaspoons of sugar. Probably the closest thing to child crack I’ve ever found. The ones I sent to school also had orange and black sprinkles on them, but I didn’t put any on these ones because they bother the Captain. Needless to say we didn’t get any leftovers sent home after the party.

I actually made these same cupcakes (but half chocolate, and all with sprinkles) for the little kids on our street last week. Captain Jelly Belly and Gal Smiley helped make them and decorate them, then we put one cupcake each in these little Halloween take-out containers I found at Michaels:

Trick Or Treat Box

Then we went for a little walk along the street and left the boxes with whatever neighbouring kids we knew. It was very fun and everyone was very excited to get them and I think a new tradition has been born. Maybe we will do it again on Valentine’s Day, too.

This afternoon we’ll be doing some last minute pumpkin carving, then we’ll be getting ready for trick-or-treating. The Captain will be going as Darth Vader. Gal Smiley will be a white kitty cat (as she has been every day for the past three weeks).

Little Miss Sunshine will be going to bed early.

The Captain has been feeling a little iffy about trick-or-treating this year since his allergies mean that he can’t eat at least half of the candy he rakes in. We offered to let him swap anything he gets that he can’t eat for something we have here, since all the candy we’ll be giving out is safe for him.

This morning Sir Monkeypants suggested I go out and buy a few more bags of candy, just so that we have lots of selection here for the Captain to choose from, to make him feel better about the swapping and feel like he got a bunch of different stuff. So after my Mommy And Baby swim class with Little Miss Sunshine, I went over to the WalMart to get some extra candy.

I was there a few weeks ago buying our stuff and they had SO much candy, aisles and aisles of it, with a whole extra section containing a million boxes of chips piled from floor to ceiling. A lot of their stuff was safe for the Captain because it was all extremely cheap crap, made up of sugar, artificial flavours and colours, and glue — ideal for him because when there’s no natural ingredients, there’s a low chance of allergens.

I seem to remember in years past picking up cheap Halloween candy in the week after Halloween, and the WalMart had such an eye-boggling amount of candy just two weeks ago, I figured I’d have tons to choose from still. But to my shock, when I got there, all the Halloween candy had been replaced with Christmas decorations!

I found the remnants of their candy in a back corner — there was just two small shelves full left. No more massive piles of chips. No more boxes upon boxes of candy. Just a couple bags left of the really crappy stuff.

And, there were like, 10 people there fighting over it! I had to elbow my way in, with the Little Miss, and grab what I could. It was crazy — I thought for a second there it was Boxing Day, and I’d accidentally walked into a 75% off everything sale at The Gap. Sheesh.

Anyway, I got a couple of bags of different (crap) stuff for the Captain to choose from, so we should be well and sugared up by 8pm tonight. I’ll probably be hung over for day one of NaBloPoMo tomorrow. See you then!