Sitters Unlimited of Southern CA

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Archive for July, 2009

Jul
28

Kids Craft Project Using Recycled Paper – Make a Bookmark

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Here’s another fun craft for kids using recycled materials. In my opinion the best kinds of craft projects for kids are those that use recycled materials. Your little reader will have fun making his or her own bookmark using recycled paper cardboard.

Using a ruler and pencil, draw lines on your cardboard 1 ½-inches to 3-inches apart. If your cardboard is longer than six inches draw a line at six inches to mark the length of your bookmark.

Place the cardboard on a surface that will not be damaged by a knife, such as a cutting board, a piece of thick cardboard, or a pad of newspaper. Use an Exacto or craft knife to cut along the lines you’ve marked.

Decorate and leave as is or cover with clear contact paper to protect your design.

Optional: punch a hole in the top of the bookmark and attach a tassel, a charm or a button on a length of several strands of embroidery floss or thin ribbon.

Jul
25

Recycled Plastic Crafts Organizer

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The best way to home school your kids regarding using recycled materials is to show them easy ways to recycle plastic and other recyclable materials. For instance those strips of protective air pockets that protect your mail orders items make great small item organizers.

Keeping the pockets attached to each other make a slit at the top of each air pocket to make it into a pouch. You now have a strip of sturdy, yet very lightweight pockets to attach inside a closet or hang on the back of a door or cupboard. Let your imagination go wild with what you can store:

  • toiletries
  • cotton balls
  • small soaps
  • sugar packets
  • craft supplies
  • take out condiment packets

And the best part of this project is that by using recycled materials you now have a completely free way to store and use small items.

Jul
20

Soda Can or Juice Box Insulated Wrap

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When you clean up from a picnic or party, do you find dozens of half empty cans? This quick sewing craft project will keep drinks cold, help guests identify their cans so that they will (hopefully) finish one can before opening another. This is also a good project for an arts and crafts party. Have everybody bring their scrap fabric and glue guns and go to it!

You can use the same technique to make juice box wraps. Although the green thing to do would be to encourage you not to use individual juice boxes we all know that this is not a perfect world and we are all doing the best we can and sometimes we just need the convenience of juice boxes that the little ones can serve themselves straight from the fridge, that won’t break and that we don’t have to wash.

Click on over to About.Com for a free pattern with instructions. Tip: For a no-sew project, use fabric glue or hot glue instead of sewing.

Jul
19

Second Life For Your Children’s Art Project

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Wrap a small gift with your childrens art or line a gift basket or other gift container with your childrens art project. If you don’t want to give away a precious memory you can always make a copy of the project and use the copy to wrap the gift.

Use kids art projects for backgrounds in a memory book. If materials used to make the art aren’t acid-free let the kids use them with throw-away pictures or photo copies to make their own albums.

Jul
15

Simple Weaving Loom Made From Recycled Cardboard

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A great way to recycle a cardboard box or piece of cardboard is to make a simple kids weaving loom. You can use this simple weaving loom to make tassels, squares for a lap blanket, a doll blanket, potholder, trivet for hot dishes …

Weaving loom instructions:
Using a ruler mark the slits for the loom. If you’re going to be using thick yarn mark each 1/4 inch down the length of the cardboard. For thinner yarns mark every 1/8 inch. Now use the ruler to mark a line across the width of the cardboard 1-inch from the top edge and 1-inch from the bottom edge. With a craft knife and using the marks you’ve made cut a 1-inch long slit at the top and bottom edge at each of the markings.

Use a sturdy cotton or linen yarn or string for the warp threads. Secure your warp thread by tying a knot on the end of the yarn or taping in place. Slide the yarn into the first slot and pull until the yarn is secure. Pull the yarn tightly but gently down to the corresponding slot on the bottom and slide the string into this slot. Pull the yarn up the back and slide into the second top slot, and then down to the second bottom slot. Repeat until all slots are full. Tie off the yarn or tape end and trim away any excess.

You are now ready to weave.

Weaving:

A header is woven at the beginning of a project. Any type of scrap yarn can be used as the header is removed once the project is finished. Use a similar weight of yarn as what you’ll be using for the rest of the project. Use a knitting needle or a small stick to pick up every other warp thread. Leave the needle/stick in place while you weave the header yarn over the first warp thread and under the next leaving 3 inches hanging off the loom on each end, continuing until you reach the last warp thread. Remove the needle/stick. Use the tines of a fork or comb to gently press the header into place evenly across the edge of the loom.

You’re now ready to start weaving. Use the needle/stick to pick up every other warp thread, starting by picking up the thread that you left down for the header and working your way across the loom so that each warp thread that was left down for the header is now up. Leave needle/stick in place while you weave the first thread of your project leaving 1 to 2 inches hanging off the end of the loom. Weave this end piece of yarn back into the project to secure. End each row by wrapping the yarn around the last warp thread so that it won’t show when the project is done.

After each row use the tines of the fork/comb to gently press the row into place evenly across the loom.

For the next row, pick up the alternate warp threads with the needle/stick and weave the yarn across. As you are weaving, if you wish to change colors tie the new color to the end of the old color making sure the knot is pushed into the back of the weaving so it won’t show.

End by weaving the end of the yarn back into the project for an inch or so. You might have to go back and weave a few lines across the very bottom of the project to make a nice solid edge.

Remove the header.

Slide the project off the loom.

Variations:

It takes a bit more planning but if you plan out a design you can achieve it by weaving a piece of yarn partway across then using another color and so on to fit your pattern. Carefully knot each piece of yarn at the back of the project if the back won’t show. If you need a cleaner back for your project leave an inch or two free and weave the yarn back into the project at the back.

Your simple weaving loom may just be the start of a whole new thing for you. Be careful, it can be addictive.

Jul
14

Pets Comfort & Bring Healing Into Our Lives

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If you’ve every doubted that having pets can comfort and enrich your life  through healing companionship then this story by author Catherine Moore is a beautiful illustration of how pets can bring healing and wholeness into our lives. This particular story is about a dogs companionship but any pets companionship can bring comfort and healing.

“Watch out! You nearly broad sided that car!” My father yelled. “Can’t you do anything right?”

I turned my head toward the elderly man in the seat beside me, daring me to challenge him. A lump rose in my throat as I averted my eyes. I wasn’t prepared for another battle.

“I saw the car, Dad. Please don’t yell at me when I’m driving.” My voice  sounded far calmer than I felt.

Dad glared at me, then turned away. When we reached home I left Dad in front of the television and went outside. The rumble of thunder in the distance seemed to echo my inner turmoil. What was I going to do about my father?

Dad had been a lumberjack in Oregon and at one time had even made a lumberjack video, synopsis of a day on the job. He was a surefire outdoorsman and had reveled in pitting his strength against the forces of nature. He had entered grueling lumberjack contests, and had placed in the top three often. The shelves in his den were filled with awards plaques trophies.

As he became older, he was irritable when anyone teased him about his age, or when he couldn’t do something he had done as a younger man.

Four days after his sixty-eight birthday, he had a heart attack. At the hospital, he was rushed into an operating room. He was lucky; he survived. But something inside him had died. His zest for life was gone. He wouldn’t follow doctor’s orders. Any suggestions or offers of help were brushed aside with sarcastic comments or insults. Visits from friends and neighbors slowed down, then finally stopped altogether. Dad was left alone.

My husband Richard, and I asked Dad to come live with us on our organic chicken farm. We hoped the fresh air and rustic atmosphere would help him adjust.

Within a week after he moved in, I was regretting having invited him. He wasn’t happy with anything. He criticized everything. I became frustrated and moody. Soon I was taking my pent-up anger out on Richard. We were bickering and arguing all the time now.

Richard went to our pastor and explained the situation. The clergyman set up weekly marriage relationship counseling appointments for us. At the close of each session he prayed, asking God to soothe Dad’s troubled mind.

But the months wore on and God was silent. Something had to be done and I figured it was up to me to do it.

The next day I sat down with the phone book and called each of the mental health clinics listed in the Yellow Pages. I explained my problem to each one but didn’t get any answers or ideas for what I could do. Just when I was giving up hope, one of the voices suddenly exclaimed, “I just read something that might help you! Let me go get the article.”

The article described a clinical study done at a residential nursing home. All of the patients were under treatment for chronic depression. Yet their attitudes had improved dramatically when they were given responsibility for a dog.

That afternoon I drove to a local animal shelter. After I filled out a questionnaire, a uniformed officer led me to the kennels. Each cage contained five to seven dogs. Long-haired dogs, curly-haired dogs, black dogs, spotted dogs. I studied each one but rejected one after the other for various reasons too big dog, too small dog, too excitable dog. As I neared the last pen a dog walked to the front of the cage and sat down. His face and muzzle were mottled with shades of gray. His hipbones jutted out in lopsided triangles. But it was his eyes that caught my attention. Calm and clear, they stared at me.

I pointed to the dog. “Can you tell me about this one?”

“He’s a funny one. Appeared out of nowhere, sitting in front of the gate. We brought him in, figuring someone would be down to claim him. That was two weeks ago and we haven’t heard a thing. His time is up tomorrow.” He made a well known gesture.

I turned to the officer in horror. “You mean you’re going to kill him?”

“Ma’am,” he said gently, “we don’t have room for every unclaimed dog.”

I looked at the pointer again. “I’ll take him,” I said..

When I reached the farm I was helping our new dog out of the car when Dad shuffled onto the porch. “Look what I got for you, Dad!” I said excitedly.

Dad looked, then wrinkled his face in disgust. “If I had wanted a dog I would have gotten one. And I would have picked out a better one than that bag of bones.” Dad turned back toward the house.

Anger rose inside me. “You’d better get used to him, Dad. He’s staying!” Dad ignored me. “Did you hear me, Dad?” I yelled.

At those words Dad whirled angrily. We stood glaring at each other like duelists, when suddenly the dog pulled free from my grasp. He wobbled toward my dad and sat down in front of him. He raised his paw.

Dad’s lower jaw trembled as he stared at the uplifted paw. Confusion replaced the anger in his eyes. The dog waited patiently. Then Dad was on his knees hugging the dog.

Dad named the dog Cheyenne. Together they spent hours walking down the gravel roads in our community. They spent afternoons angling for trout. They even attended Sunday services, Dad sitting in a pew and Cheyenne lying at his feet.

Dad and Cheyenne were inseparable for the next three years. Dad’s bitterness anger drained away, and he and Cheyenne made lots of friends. Late one night I felt Cheyenne ‘s nose burrowing through our bed covers. He had never come into our bedroom at night before. I woke Richard up before running into my father’s room. Dad lay in his bed, his face calm, but he was gone.

Two days later I found Cheyenne lying dead beside Dad’s bed. As Richard and I buried Cheyenne near a favorite fishing spot, I thanked Cheyenne for the help he had given in restoring life to Dad.

The morning of Dad’s funeral was overcast and drizzling. I was surprised to see how many friends Dad and Cheyenne had made filling the church. The pastor’s eulogy was a tribute to both Dad and the dog who had changed his life. And then the pastor turned to Hebrews 13:2. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

“I’ve often thanked God for sending that angel,” he said.

For me, the past dropped into place, completing a puzzle that I had not seen before: the sympathetic voice that had just read the right article …

Cheyenne ‘s unexpected appearance at the animal shelter, his calm acceptance and complete devotion to my father, and the proximity of their deaths. Suddenly I understood. I knew that God had answered my prayers after all by sending an angel named Cheyenne.

Jul
12

Staying Connected Through the Internet and Social Media

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Families and friends across the country are tapping into technology to stay connected. At first, it was a quick email to say “hello”, then we found out how easy it is to attach a picture to an email, to post picture albums to social network websites .. . Now more and more families and friends are finding unique ways to share their experiences and keep in touch.

There are a variety of ways to share memories online:

Email – One of the most popular and easiest ways to share is through email. Simply scan images, attach them to an email and hit the Send button.

CD – Many photo developers now offer the option of having images developed onto CD-ROM. In this digital format, photos and images can be shared through email or even by presenting the CD as a gift.

Video – The best way to capture an entire story, such as a wedding, party or vacation is to use a variety of memorabilia including photos, audio message, music, journal entries and other items that can be scanned in, such as cards and event tickets. Smilebox is a popular service for scrapbooking, Ecards, and more. User can share their Smilebox creations free of charge, or select premium options for print, DVD burning, expanded music choices, and no advertisements.

Web Site – There are a variety of web sites that offer tools to build a personal web site without any knowledge of complex programming. While this can be a creative way to showcase and update information, it is important to remember that many sites can be accessed by the general public and some sites will only host personal pages for a limited time. Check out MyFamily.com or TribalPages for a private, free web site with photo and video capabilities.

Blog – In simple terms, a blog is a web site, where you write on an ongoing basis. New entries show up at the top, so your visitors can read what’s new. Then they comment on it or link to it or email you. You can share photos and video with a blog also. BlogSpot is a free and very user-friendly blogging tool with a host of applications to make everything as easy as possible.

Facebook – Millions of people use Facebook everyday to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet. Because of the popularity of Facebook it’s ideal for staying connected with current friends, locating lost friends and family and making new friends.

Jul
12

Make a Picture Frame Magnet from a Logo Promotional Magnet

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This easy kids craft project, making a picture frame magnet from a logo promotional magnets & salvaged cardboard is a great rainy day activity.

To make your first picture frame magnet, cut two identical shapes from a piece of recycled cardboard. They can be  circles, squares, ovals, etc. One piece will be the picture frame and the other piece will be the backing.

Cut a hole in the shape of your choice from one of the pieces of recycled cardboard. This will be the picture frame. The uncut piece will be the backing. The hole should be large enough so that the portion of the photo you’re using that you want to show will show. Decorate this piece of recycled cardboard in any way you choose.

Glue the photo onto the cardboard backing. Glue the cardboard picture frame onto the backing over the photo.

Glue the advertising promotional magnet to the back side of the recycled cardboard backing.

You now have a beautiful new picture frame, made from items you might normally have thrown away. So next time you come across one of those ugly promotional magnets, set it aside for this project or one of our other magnet projects.