Monday, June 2, 2014

watercolor flowers for shavuos

This was so much fun and very easy to make. Basically the petals are all heart shapes, rolled around a pencil to curl the tops. My 4yo son helped paint the watercolor papers. We used two shades of red for a more natural and varied look. When I find my normal camera I'll get some better pics. I love the bright beautiful colors -- watercolor on bright white paper. Must find that camera...
Tutorial available at (Wow it took a long time to find it via Google; it's been up since 2010 and that's probably when I first saw it!)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Shavuos printable

Free printable Shavuos decoration, courtesy of Canon.
I'm thinking to make this without printing it... paint a few papers in diff watercolors, draw flowers in black marker, cut out and glue as instructed.

Friday, November 22, 2013

can you tell I love this quote?

Thank you generous people who created all of these free fonts!

can you tell I like this quote?

FREE FONTS! I love them. Thank you generous people who created all of these free fonts!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

great reminder!

Great reminder, found (in slightly different words) on Pinterest. I made it over in Illustrator using a wonderful free font called Clementine (google it).

Monday, June 10, 2013

kindergarten alef-beis siyum - Mazel Tov!

I love watercolor collage!
My kindergartener has finished learning all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, which of course calls for a full week of festivities. Decorations on Monday, show-and-tell extravaganza on Tuesday, edible goodies come in on Wednesday, and Thursday is the day to dress up and eat the goodies. "A lot of junk!" as my friend's kid puts it.
Of course we had great plans of making a huge and beautiful celebratory poster together. Luckily we even had ALL WEEKEND to plan it. But then Sunday being pajama day, we forgot all about it until bedtime. Waaa!
"I'll make you a sign," I promised my daughter.
"But I want to HELP!" she wept. Of course she wants to help, bless her. Nu, so how long does it take to paint a couple of color-papers?
Using Q-tips and Tightwad Gazette paint, the kiddies (Miss Kindergarten and one sister) painted a blue page blue and a pink page red. Then I shooed them into bed and took over.
On a scrap looseleaf page I drew stick-figure Hebrew letters in pencil, then outlined them for thickness. I adjusted the outlines with my pencil, aiming for sturdy yet graceful shapes. (Practice gives you a feel for this. It also helps to study your favorite fonts. Of course you could simply print the lettering from your computer...)
The pink page was still wet enough to cling to the thin paper, but not too wet to cut. Perfect. I cut out the pink letters, saving the scraps for decorations.
Pink means flowers, and flowers need leaves. I found some light green paper and painted it with the blue paint. I cut 1/2" strips of the green paper, then snipped it diagonally into fingerprint-sized diamond shapes. Rounding off two points completed the leaf.
The rest is simple. Hearts make sweet and easy flowers. Flower stems and blades of grass (same thing) are easy too. I got out the double-stick mounting tape and stuck bits of it all over the backs of the letters, leaves, flower-hearts and grass.
I thought I'd center the words, with a sweet little kindergarteny garden below. But when the first few hearts were ready, I clustered them in a corner and immediately fell in love with the off-center design. Borrowed this idea to help balance out the layout. Love it. What a shame we missed out on planning the layout together... oh well! There will be other Sundays.
Debated leaving the last step -- sticking it all together -- for my daughter to finish in the morning... but with no guarantees as to what the morning would look like, that might mean an unfinished sign. So I did all the sticking except for the vine down the margin. Hoping to make the morning session go a bit more quickly, I picked up the painty q-tip and printed dots of paint to indicate where the leaves belonged.
By the way -- if you do this project with plenty of time, consider ironing all the papers flat, either before you stick on the tape or maybe before you cut out the shapes. Cardstock might not require it, but we did not use cardstock.
The morning went just as I'd hoped, thank Goodness. I even found some cream-colored cardstock to mount the sign onto. (Yay! More puffy mounting tape.) This made it both sturdier and larger -- more impressive overall.
The photo is as good as I could make it considering our only working camera is actually a cell phone. Thank you Photoshop.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Pineapple costume

Thanks to the Freecycler who provided this yellow sweatshirt (and the blue one that became a peacock)!
How to make this cool pineapple costume: obtain a large yellow sweatshirt, adult size preferred. With a good brown crayon, mark diagonal lines. (Paint doesn't come out as neat as crayon.) As you may already be aware, crayon does not come out in the wash.
Obtain some fancy green paper (we bought a big shiny gift bag for a dollar). Mark and cut a crown of long tapered leaves. Keep in mind that the height of the crown will make it tippy. Attach a long ribbon (or two) (or elastic) (or figure out something else that works) and wear with pride!

Friday, April 12, 2013


I cut long white strips from a grocery bag, then taped them securely to the oxygen tank so that it could be worn like a backpack.

awesome astronaut costume

This costume was for my fourth grader who had to make a "tour guide" presentation on Alabama. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, built the rockets that took us to the moon, hence the astronaut costume.
The idea was to put it together (we had 3 days) without a single trip to a store. I love you Amy Dacyczyn.
Bulky white clothes... no problem. Something big, round, white and see-through for a helmet... brainstorming needed. Oxygen tank, American flags... no problem.
The shirt is a shiny white shell (yucky polyester) with a stiff stand-up collar. (Lace ruffle on collar; not a problem.) Wearing it on top of your clothes adds bulk. I added American flag and ALABAMA armband stickers, and (later) a big proud motif for the front of the shirt. The skirt is actually a daddy-sized T shirt; I turned the sleeves in and safety-pin-sewed the new "seam."
The oxygen tank is a large Rubbermaid (Tupperware?) canteen we happen to have. If this had been unavailable I would have squeezed two seltzer bottles into a food storage bag.
The face mask (I know, it's supposed to be part of the helmet) is a strainer that has lost its handle. The pipe going to the oxygen tank is two bungee cords, cable-twisted together and wrapped in clear packing tape. Connected on both ends by its hooks, then a couple lengths of packing tape.
The helmet: I cut long strips from a grocery box, then bent each one into a curve. Taped them together like this:
A white garbage bag was not opaque enough to cover the brown, so I covered it with paper towels instead (more packing tape) and then a garbage bag. Perhaps I should have taped it down better... anyhow this way is greener because we can reuse the garbage bag. (If this were a Purim costume I'd spring for a $1 white mixing bowl.)
The gloves: fleece winter gloves (dark gray if you must know) covered with two layers of disposable latex gloves. (The gloves were pretty yellow, actually. Photoshop alert.)
I was going to cover her boots with white tights, but the bus was coming so scratch that!
Stay tuned for a sweet and spacey treat from your astronaut tour guide.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

easy cake decoration

These flowers were made by cutting marshmallows with scissors. Easy and effective! One six-petaled flower would cover the top of a cupcake.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

My mother's Purim specialty: gigantic colorful challahs!


Emailing: peacock_diagram_2.jpg

(in case it didn't post in the previous post

Amazing Peacock Costume

The starting point for this costume was the royal blue sweatshirt. I'd put the word out on Freecycle for yellow and red sweatshirts, figuring I could make cute and simple pineapple and strawberry costumes. No luck on the red, but one nice Brooklynite gave me two gorgeous XL sweatshirts in yellow and royal blue. The yellow soon became a pineapple (which nobody wore for three years!) and the blue got folded away for later inspiration. I figured when I eventually got hold of a red shirt, I might make matching slices of cherry and blueberry pie. Or maybe one day I might make a peacock costume.
Three years went by. At last, this year, having almost prevailed upon my girlies to CONSIDER being something other than Queen Esther for once, I began to paint glorious word pictures of my dreamed-of peacock costume. There wasn't a whole lot of interest, but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed just the ticket for a sparkle-loving nine-year-old girl whose mother says enough princess gowns already.
I did a bit of googling and turned up these pictures. (These are definitely copyright and I intend to credit them properly, as soon as I get to it... if I forget, just remind me please!)
So that's how you do it: a cardboard backboard covered with shiny fabric, decorated with more shiny fabric, all in girly blues, plus glitter. Sounds good.
Here's the run-down of how I made all the parts of this amazing costume.
The headpiece: Take 2 pipe cleaners, twist together. Repeat until you have three two-tone sticks. Wrap the sticks around a headband (preferably one that comes with slits)... then braid them together a couple of times for extra stability. Using more of the sparkly paper, create fancy feathers to top the headpiece. Figure out some way to make them stick (super-sticky tape was not enough -- first time it failed me). (I actually made the headpiece last, but only because it's so simple! Also because I forgot to buy pipe cleaners on the first 99c trip.)
The shirt: Freecycle sweatshirt (excellent condition, size XL) minus sleeves, minus waistband, cut scalloped "hem", added shiny paper diamonds and sequins (sewed on for security). (I bought sequins for $1 and used less than 1/4 of it; now the rest of it joins my stash of craft supplies.) The cut-off parts came in handy as strong straps to secure the back-board. (Exhaustive details below.)
The belt is a piece of truly fancy fabric from my stash -- formerly a fancy head covering. Cut away whatever did not belong to a sash. Wound around with gold cord (from my stash). Closed with a large safety pin.
The tail:
I cut up a couple of grocery boxes, trying and correcting, until I had a good tail shape.
I bought a yard of 60" purple lining ($4 -- I think that's overpriced but ok) and selected four more colors. But lo and behold, the fabric store refused to sell less than half a yard of each. I tried negotiating but to no avail. Oh well. Nope, not spending $8 just for scrappy scraps. So I crossed the street to my trusty 99c stores, and found super-shiny, almost holographic, gift bags in some great colors. $5 for scraps is still way more than I wanted to spend, but it was a better deal than the fabric: paper is lots easier to handle than cheap lining, and the extra glim-glam is a definite plus!
Double-sided foam tape ($1) stuck the various shiny papers together while maintaining dimensionality. (I don't know if you can tell the difference in the photo, but you can definitely tell in real. 3D layers versus flat -- it's not even close. I love the 3D foam tape for all kinds of paper crafts.)
Covering the cardboard with the fabric was the tough part, especially since I don't have a sewing machine. After many false tries, I decided to hunt for a stick I could break into segments to frame the steps-and-stairs shape on the fabric itself before introducing the cardboard. Hm, how about a series of sticks that are already the right size? How about the bucket of old markers I've been saving for [this] craft? Yep, they worked just fine. I taped them to the fabric, a weird-looking straight dotted line going down the center. Then I draped this whaleboned fabric over the cardboard. Whew, it worked. Did some fine-tuning adjustments on the markers (I mean whalebones), then scotch-taped them to the cardboard. After this the fabric draped nicely. I used two-sided tape to close up the sides, and super-sticky tape ($1 for 3 rolls -- it's not labeled super-sticky, it just is!) to attach the shiny feathers.
I left the front open at the bottom so that I could incorporate some sort of mechanism for actually wearing the thing. This mechanism, now complete, involves two strong ribbons coming through slits to the front and then getting tied to the costume. Here is a diagram (neater than a photo)...
Since the royal blue peacock shirt is a former sweatshirt, I had some usable scraps of matching material. I cut 2" armbands (shown in the diagram) from the cut-off sleeves. I also had the waistband of the sweatshirt, still an intact circle. This I crossed over my daughter's chest and had her stick her arms through. (Diagram coming right up...) Then I put the upper ribbon through these straps, and tied the ribbon tightly and firmly in a bow. (The upper ribbon is necessary to keep the backboard upright. The bow may need to be re-tied every couple of hours, just to keep things sturdy.)
Like this:
(Hope the images post.)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

"This second!"

From the next room, I heard my second- and fourth graders reading something.
"Do not eat. Throw away this second!"
It sounded a bit familiar... most of it at least. Sure enough, they were looking at a little packet of silicone gel... you know those packets that come in every other product, from vitamins to shoes... to prevent damage from moisture...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

off topic

I recently discovered this AMAZING site, They highlight Israeli news in technology and international do-gooding. I'm guessing the site might be government-funded hasbara; if it is, good for them. Well presented, great reading, great stuff.
And while I have your attention, check out this article, the title says it all really but the article explains how it actually went; still pretty darn ridiculous, worth reading.

Monday, September 10, 2012

authors & books

Here's a list I sent to a friend, "young adult" books and authors that I've particularly liked, off the top of my head.
    Karen Hesse, Brooklyn Bridge or anything  else -- she's something special.
    Sharon Creech --  many good books, all worth reading. (Except Bloomability, unless I just didn't get it.) She has a really nice upbeat writing  style, really enjoyable, besides for the great  content.
    Laura Amy Schlitz, A Drowned Maiden's  Hair -- offbeat but fabulous! It was her first book; see if she's written  anything else since.
    Jan Siebold, My Nights at  the Improv or anything else. As I recall, all I found were two thin books  that left me wishing for more.
    Katherine Paterson  -- some of her (many) books are better than others but all are well written and worth a try. Tell me some titles, I'll tell you which I  liked.
    Jean Craighead George, My Side of the  Mountain. I think the boys will enjoy this one as well. Some sequels and  other books, but I don't remember if they were as  good.
    Gary Paulsen -- outdoorsy boy books. Some of them were very good as I recall, others simply  adventury but nothing special to me. Tell me what you see and I'll tell you if  I remember it.   
    (I think there  was another author named Paulsen, or something similar, that I really liked as  well.)
    Gary Schmidt -- The Wednesday Wars  was excellent. I seem to remember there were some other good books as well,  although I found First Boy disappointing .
    Linda Sue  Park -- good author with stories based on her Korean heritage. A Single Shard is by far her  best, but her other stuff is good too.
    Richard Peck  -- I happen to own The Teacher's Funeral and it's great. Author of A  Long Way From Chicago... great laughs, good stories. He does have some  silly books in the mix, though... tell me what you  see.
    John D. Fitzgerald, the Great Brain books -- I  liked them very much but don't remember if you did. His genius brother, Tom,  was expert at (among other things) taking advantage of people... very  entertaining, unless you find yourself hating his  guts!
    Andrew Clement -- author of Frindle --  he's written a bunch of books since then, all light and easy reading, and  surprisingly original content. Good stuff.
    Mary  Norton, author of The Borrowers. Did you know there were several more  Borrowers books? Check them out when you're in the  mood.
    Mark Twain -- I don't believe you've read  Pudd'nhead Wilson -- fiction, very different, very good -- or  Innocents Abroad -- nonfiction, fascinating, a memoir of his travels,  including a visit to the Holy Land in the nineteenth century. Check it  out.
    Jean Fritz -- lots of well written history,  great nonfiction books that are truly fun to read. Her autobiography is  excellent as well -- an American kid growing up in China before  communism.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Thinking about Yerushalayim

Here we are in the Three Weeks of mourning over the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash -- both Holy Temples in Jerusalem -- one 2000 years ago, one 500 years before that. This is a time to be thinking about Jerusalem, and what better way than with some great crafts!

1. Jerusalem watercolor collage in 3D

This watercolor collage Jerusalem was the first watercolor collage my daughters and I did together. (The shiny glare you see is the plastic covering I added for hanging in the Succah.) You can read about this project's beginnings here and its completion here.

For a similar project, a tissue paper collage on glass, visit

2. Jerusalem Kirigami

Kirigami means folding and cutting paper to get beautiful airy results; it's a Japanese art, like origami. You generally need to use an exacto blade so this is not for young kids; but for anyone who is old enough, it's an easy and beautiful craft. Check it out! Click here for some photos and here for the pattern.

3. Jerusalem sand jar

Another stunningly beautiful project from I liked the idea of the tall skinny glass jar -- it gives you more room for larger amounts of sand, and much prettier results than the teeny decorative containers the kids usually make this in. You complete the sand jar first, then draw your Jerusalem scene with permanent markers on the sand background.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

birthday blintz bread

Blintz cheese recipe:
One 1-lb container whipped cottage cheese (or farmer cheese)
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
Mix well.
That's it! Basically it's blintz filling with no eggs or added liquid.
If too dry and stiff, stir in a bit of milk.
Serve with w.w. crackers. Or spread on bread, then cut bread into four triangles -- this is called Blintz Bread.
Seriously, they love it. I served this for supper for my twins' birthday! For extra fanciness you can add an extra sprinkle of cinnamon on top. See picture, attached.
Funny fried eggs? When making a large number of eggs, instead of beating them in a bowl I put them in an empty juice bottle and shake shake shake. It works great, it's easy, and there's no dirty bowl to wash. The kids find it funny as it is still something new; I've only been doing it since Pesach. (Necessity was the mother of this invention; I was stuck without a Pesachdik mixing bowl and needed to make breakfast.)
The pepper initials may not look like a full serving of veggies, but there's more there than meets the eye. Several kids sat behind me as I carved, nabbing the extra bits as fast as I could put them down. I think Michelle Obama should be mighty proud of my birthday party, eh?

girl cheese

"Who wants grilled cheese for lunch?"
Giggles. "I want boy cheese!" "I want girl cheese, not boy cheese!"
So all the girls had girl cheese for lunch!
(I wanted to make "boy cheese" with a bowtie at the neck... but when it came down to it, none of the girls chose boy cheese.)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

flat baby doll tutorial - part 1

Before you begin, you might want to check out these links:
Painted background: How to paint a sky
How to draw a baby: Adar clown Picture Pie
Use three 6" paper plates to design your baby's body. Leave one plate whole for the torso, cut one in half for the legs, and cut one into eight equal wedges. Lay out the pieces like this:
Trace this shape onto a large sheet of cardboard. Consider this traced shape your starting point as you draw a more pudgy, baby-like shape. 
Cut out the cardboard baby. Squint at it from various angles; if you aren't perfectly satisfied yet, cut and paste bits of cardboard as needed.
Trace onto fabric, adding a good inch all around. (If you are using non-brand-new fabric, position the cardboard strategically so that, for example, stains are either trimmed away or positioned for easy hiding, and preexisting seams come out in acceptable locations, such as at the ankles.) Cut out fabric.
Fold fabric onto cardboard and secure with tape or hot glue. Do this step slowly and carefully.
A bib may be cut from a fancy paper napkin, and is useful for hiding stains (shh!). Other cute options include buttons, pockets, and embroidered initials.