10.02.2021

Craft - Homemade Wood Block Nativity Scene for Toddlers and Children - My quick and easy craft for the kids Christmas Nativity Scene

Wood nativity blocks for kids

 

If there was an award for taking a photo of the most adorable, cute little wooden toys and making them look ridiculously yellow-tinted and ugly... I would win that award.  

These photos are horrible - but the little wood nativity scene I made is so, so cute.  Smooth, safe blocks of wood with adorable little printed images of the Holy Family (Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus) along with the wise men, shepherds, the man who told them he had no room in his inn and more.  

I've been looking at nativity scenes for toddlers for a few years and had always planned on purchasing the Little People Nativity version by Fisher Price, but it was never in my budget at the time and never 'got around to it'. 

Many years ago, a Mom-blogger posted some wood blocks she had painted and sanded and mod-podged cute toddler/children style pictures on depicting the Holy Family, the barn animals, wise men and more.  They were cute so I downloaded her free printables from Prepared Not Scared, and tucked them away 'just in case' as an idea for a kids nativity set.  I believe she uploaded the images back in 2010

I used her free printables (link: https://www.mediafire.com/file/sufud5x5fobj0u5/Nativity_Story.pdf/file).

 homemade wood nativity christmas blocks

 

FOR THE NATIVITY SCENE AS I MADE IT

You Need:

Prints of the images
Wood blocks (use untreated wood and make sure they are sanded completely smooth)
Matte Mod-Podge
Craft Brush

Cut out your images as detailed as you wish. Lay them on the blocks you wish to use.  If you need to resize the images, do this on your computer using your printer's settings to enlarge or shrink. 

I will go into a little more detail on how I decided to make our buildings, a little further down the post.

Spread a very thin layer of Mod Podge on a block.  Carefully lay your image on it.  Gently smooth with your fingertip and then apply another thin layer of Mod Podge over top.  It will be cloudy white when wet but dries clear.  Don't worry too much about any bristle brush lines, they will smooth out.  Be careful not to over-apply. Use the brush to gently smooth out the image and any air bubbles.

Continue with all the blocks.  They dry very quickly so by the time you finish, you will be able to go back and apply a second layer of Mod Podge on the blocks.  This makes them nice and smooth.  You could do a 3rd layer if you wish. I did 2 layers.  Once dry, they are ready to be played with.

 

 

Laying out my images on the blocks I was thinking of using for each.

DIY christmas nativity scene for kids, mod podge and printables


Apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to a block of wood (I only did the front as I'm going to do other scenes on the backs later.)


Carefully lay down the image where you want it.  You don't have a lot of wiggle room if you use plain copy paper as it would rip if you try to move it later so put it where you want it.


Apply a layer of Mod Podge over top.  Don't worry too much about thin bristle lines, they'll smooth; and it will be cloudy white and opaque.  It dries completely clear.

 
Originally I thought I'd use one large block of wood and Mod Podge a stable image on it.  However, I realized I liked the idea of using more of the Melissa and Doug blocks for the buildings and letting the children 'build' those as well; like a 3 or 4 piece puzzle.

I laid out 3 of the large rectangles, and resized and printed the stable image until it was roughly the size I wanted.  Then I sliced it into 3 pieces to fit the rectangle blocks.  I added a small roof image on top. 
 
 


Some of the little men's heads or crowns were just a tiny bit too tall but I didn't want to waste printer ink reprinting so I just pressed them down over the edge a bit.



Here is everything while it's still wet - with the mod podge just applied and drying.
You can see how I cut the stable and added some palm trees.

I didn't care for the star that was included in the printables so I printed off my own version.


Still wet, but you can see the beginning of the set... I still had to work on the Bethlehem building and the other characters....




The rest of the set was quick and easy - literally done in about 20 minutes.  But this building, since I was making it up as I went along, took me longer.  In the end, I had to remind myself that little ones ages 1-5 were using these and they really didn't care if all the pieces fit or looked perfect. 

I found the blocks I wanted to use, then I resized and printed the building image about 4 or 5 times in order to get them even close to fitting the blocks.  I cut the images out and fit them together willy-nilly in order to get the idea I had in my head.

This is not actually what I planned, but it works just fine and the little ones love it!


I wanted to snap a quick picture of the playset and it happens to be 'out' and laid on a short toy bench in the family room as the 16 month old was playing with them yesterday.  I lined them up quickly and took some pictures with my old cell phone.

The set is adorable and MUCH cuter and brightly colored than my awful cell phone photos. I promise!  Ha ha.


I tried using a flash as I was taking these at 6:am in a poorly lit family room.  It washed out the colors but you get an idea anyway.  (Remember the star is one I printed myself instead of the one in the free printables so yours would look different if you use her star instead.)

 


The images are completely flat and very, very smooth.  Much brighter in color than my washed out photo using flash.


 

 

 




You might be interested in some of the Amazon links related to items in my post: 

Instead of cutting and sanding my own blocks, we already owned Melissa and Doug's building block set so I used this instead!


Melissa & Doug Standard Unit Solid-Wood Building Blocks With Wooden Storage Tray (60 pcs)
 

 

 

When I planned this craft, we were almost out of the matte Mod Podge (with less shine).  We had glossy mod podge on hand but I wanted the images to stand out and not be marred by extra shine so I bought more of the matte version.

 


Mod Podge Waterbase Sealer, Glue and Finish, 8 oz, Matte, 8 Fl Oz
  

 

 

I don't like using sponge brushes with mod podge (personal opinion) - I prefer a wide bristle brush.

 


Plaid Taklon Flat Brush, Gold (2-Piece), 2/Pkg
 


This is the Fisher Price Little People Nativity Scene I mentioned that I wanted to buy for the last few years but it never was the right time/budget and never "got around to it" (yet?).


Fisher-Price Little People Christmas Nativity Scene

 

 

 

 

 















9.18.2021

Kids Crafts for Autumn: Hanging Leaves

Originally posted in 2012 - re-posting in 2021 because it's still a pretty cool and simple craft idea!



When the kids were little it seemed our house was filled with Autumn decorations.  Handmade by small children, it seems they came home with a new craft daily from their respective schools.  As they got older and made less school crafts, it was fun to buy decorations to supplement and/or plan our own crafts to do at home.

Whether or not you have kids, this is a craft I think would be fun for any age.  Plus, it doesn't have that goofy knick-knack feel to it (where you are left wondering where to put something) - it hangs beautifully from anywhere, alleviating  the need to find 'another' place on the mantel.

This mobile mimics fluttering foliage — minus the raking. Collect leaves with intact stems and press in a heavy book for a few days.







Directions:

  • Wrap twine or ribbon around an 18-inch embroidery or craft hoop; secure ends with hot glue. 
  • Tie eight 3-foot-long waxed strings at even intervals around it, attaching pine cones at the bottoms as weights. 
  • Knot the string around each leaf's stem, spacing randomly. 
  • Secure hoop to a ceiling hook using twine




________________________________________


9.17.2021

A PERFECT FIT COVER FOR MY (OLD) SAMSUNG GALAXY TABLET 2 (7.0)

A PERFECT FIT COVER FOR MY OLD SAMSUNG GALAXY TABLET 2 (7.0) 

I FOUND IT! I FOUND A PERFECT FIT COVER FOR MY OLD SAMSUNG GALAXY TABLET 2 (7.0) 

If you've read my previous post(s) about trying to find a cover for a very old Samsung tablet (circa 2012 maybe? A LONG time ago.) I finally GAVE UP and made my own.  I had tried off and on for probably a year or two to find one that would fit and it was almost impossible.  I checked all the obvious places - including Samsung's site, Best Buy, online at Walmart.com, Target.com, in retail stores like TJMaxx, etc.  And of course I obviously spent hours upon hours at Amazon reading through descriptions, reviews, looking at photos....

Here is part of the post on when I finally made my own - which barely touched on the frustration I had with trying to find a cover I KNEW would fit.

"I went online and found some at Amazon but after a while my head was swimming with the conflicting information on sizes.   There are SO MANY different tablets and readers available now than ever before, and they are all different sizes.  The problem is that my tablet is OLD so it's not even listed.  I had the exact measurements of my device but even that got confusing as the exact item by two or three different sellers found some saying it would fit and others saying it would not."

 

My self-made cover was good and I was happy with it, but I still wanted a legit tablet cover if I could ever find one (I had pretty much given up).  AND THEN I FOUND ONE!!!

I found it on Amazon - and here is the information directly from the listing.... 

 

Case Compatible with Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 P3110 / P3100 - PU Leather and Canvas Cover with Stand Feature - Black/Brown Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 P3110 / P3100  


  • COMPATIBILITY: Made to fit Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 P3110 / P3100 / P3113
  • MIXED MATERIAL: Made of synthetic leather and textile fabric for a trendy look and protects your tablet from dirt, dust, scratches and fingerprints
  • FULL PROTECTION: Slim and durable cover protects against shocks, falls, bumps and drops
  • STAND FUNCTION: Place tablet in landscape view to watch movies and videos comfortably. Just sit, relax and enjoy!
  • EASY ACCESS: Precise cutouts on flip case enable easy access to all buttons, ports and camera 
  •  8.78 x 7.23 x 0.71 inches

 

AND IT IS A PERFECT FIT! 

Here are some photos I snapped of my tablet in this cover. 
It has the flip case capability I know a lot of people like as they use their tablet to watch movies, surf the net, etc.  I don't care about that as I literally only use this tablet as my ereader.  As a matter of fact, the flip capability is a small "con" for me as I would have preferred it to be solid - like a hardcover book. I know I could remedy this by using some sticky velcro on the back of the reader and the cover to hold the 'half fold' solidly in place.

But for anyone who wants it to 'stand' for movies, or to read a recipe online while they cook, etc., yes it has it.  

A PERFECT FIT COVER FOR MY OLD SAMSUNG GALAXY TABLET 2 (7.0)

 
 
Here is a close up of the stitching on the cover....

 
 

 

A PERFECT FIT COVER FOR MY OLD SAMSUNG GALAXY TABLET 2 (7.0)

It has a cut out for the photo lens in the back as well!

A PERFECT FIT COVER FOR MY OLD SAMSUNG GALAXY TABLET 2 (7.0)


It's a canvas material on top with a fake leather strip across the bottom.  There are button covers built in and the only thing I can think of that is a 'con' (but barely) is the power button is hard to operate with this cover.  I did read a reviewer cut out the power button to make it easier to access and press; which I totally 'get' because I've done the same thing on a couple of my cell phone covers that made it hard or impossible to press the power or volume buttons.  However, this one doesn't bother me enough yet to cut it out with an exacto-knife - but it would be very simple to do.

At the time of this posting the cover is just under $15.  I'm THRILLED I finally found a cover after so, so long searching. 




8.17.2021

One Dozen Homemade Soy Candles for My Emergency Storage! (Super cheap and easy) Original post 2014, reposted 2021

Posted March 2014
Reposting August 2021



Spring has sprung!  And with it comes horrible thunderstorms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, downed trees and power outages!  Prepared as I am with flashlights, solar battery power, inverters, a generator, etc. to power our laptop computer, cellphones, and a small tv; but a nice stock of candles was something on my 'to do' list for the past year. 

Now, I could have bought a bunch of cheap candles at the store, but what I wanted was a good quality, long lasting candle without funky or cheap fragrances.  Dollar store candles burn QUICKLY and last barely 2 hours.  I wanted something that would burn for a long time and burn clean.  Thus, my reasoning for looking into homemade soy candles.  Good quality, but by making them myself I could pay about $1.50 per candle verses the $10-18 a retail store would want.

I didn't follow any recipe or worry about how others make theirs - I simply thought about it, and got creative with what I wanted and how to do it.  Someone might have a better idea how to do part of it but I'm thrilled with how they turned out as well as my process and I do plan on doing another dozen the same way next month.

First:  I chose cheap canning jars I bought at Walmart (2014).  Reposting this in 2021 it's more difficult to find canning jars, lids and rings now but they are still out there.  Remember you don't need a brand name canning jar/lids because these are not coming in contact with your food, nor being used in a pressure canner, etc.  Cheap is fine for candles.  But also, you don't need jars if you can't find them.  Use any glass containers or re-use old candle containers that are gone.  Also: if you can find old canning jars but no lids or rings that's fineThe lids and rings were just for holding the wick up while the wax hardened, and for storage anyway.  All you really need is a sturdy glass container.

Second:  The wax.  Cheap wax burns cheap.  It burns FAST. I wanted a decent, clean burning wax that would last many hours and burn bright but burn slow.  I also wanted enough wax to make unscented emergency candles as well as homemade scented candles for daily use so a good quality 'scent throwing' soy wax is what I looked for. 

Third:  Wicks.  Boy did I have to research these.  Oh, I found them quick enough, but I had no idea there were so many CHOICES in wicks.  I went to Walmart, Michael's and Target on a search for wicks and ended up ordering two different sizes from Amazon - that were pre-cut and pre-inserted in metal disks.  I bought a bag of large and a bag of medium.  In the end, I used medium for my canning jar candles and I'm very happy with my results.  The large were used for the 'recycled' candles I made in larger containers. 

Fourth:  OTHER STUFF.  These are things I used in making the candles.  I sat and stared at the candles and thought about how to put everything together and this is the process I came up with.  You can do them however you wish!  Basically you are going to melt the wax (double boiler, microwave, up to you!).  Pour the wax.  Add the wicks.  Keep them straight while the candle hardens.  Seal and store.

Needed:
Wax (some links below)
Jars or containers
Wicks and metal disks to help them stand and stay stationary as the candle burns (links below)
Hot glue gun
Straw
Glass container to melt the wax in or a bowl if you use a double boiler
Nail or screw to punch hole in lid (IF YOU WANT - optional - you'll see in a moment)



Use the hot glue gun to adhere the metal disk to the bottom of the jar. Thread the wick into a straw for easy placement.

Using the straw to put the wick in place on the hot glue dab.

I decided to punch a hole in the lid to hold the wicks stationary during setting up.

I also swapped out the new, nice lids for some old canning lids I had. No reason to waste the 'new' lids on candles.

I simply poured wax flakes into a container and microwaved it until half melted, then stirred until it all melted.

I put the lids on with the wick threaded through to hold it in place while the candle hardens.

This worked perfectly!  The wicks were straight and perfect.


After the candle set up I trimmed the wicks down.


This is the wicks and soy wax flakes.  I bought 10 lbs.  I used about half of it.  So, just under 5 pounds made just over a dozen (12) candles.






You might be interested in products related to this post, available through Amazon;

Hearth & Harbor Natural Soy Wax and DIY Candle Making Supplies -10 Lbs Soy Candle Wax Flakes w/ 100 Cotton Wicks, 2 Metal Centering Devices  


 

 
100pcs/lot Candle Wicks for Candle Making - Coated with Natural Soy Wax, Low Smoke - Cotton Threads Woven with Paper - Candle DIY (6 inch)   

 

 

 
American Soy Organics- 10 lb of Freedom Soy Wax Beads for Candle Making – Microwavable Soy Wax Beads – Premium Soy Candle Making Supplies

 

 

 
American Soy Organics Millennium Wax - 5 lb Bag of Natural Soy Wax for Candle Making

 

 

 

 

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