Make: DIY 2016 Art Calendar Printable

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

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Just in time for a wintry weekend, we have a super cute printable for you! This one doesn’t require any instruction – just print out on a thicker paper or cardstock, cut the months apart, and let the kiddos go nuts filling in fun pics to brighten your walls (or theirs!) Add chill tunes + hot chocolate for a perfect snowy Saturday afternoon. Pro tip: print one out for yourself and scribble away – this is seriously relaxing after a long week. You don’t even have to worry about staying in the lines.

You can download the files here, and if anyone wants to get *extra* creative, here are some ideas that go beyond markers and paint:

  • Paste on some found items from nature
  • Recycle some old paper & collage
  • Create stamped patterns with vegetables, bubble wrap, or toilet paper rolls
  • Use up some scrap fabric
  • Punch some holes in patterns and thread with yarn

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Be sure to take lots of process and finished product pics and tag us (@barleyandbirch or #barleyandbirch) when you’ve finished your mini works-of-art – we can’t wait to see and share the creativity of our b & b’ers!  Love this? Want to pass it on? Please, please do! Our only request is that if you repost somewhere, you include a shout-out back to us with the original link to this post instead of a direct link to the files – we appreciate it!

For more fun snowy day ideas head over to our Pinterest page – so. many. projects. !!!

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Make: Magic Zen Jars

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Welcome to 2016! We have so many exciting things planned for this year – a new website is coming, new spring designs, new collaborations, new surprises in the store and, of course, BRAND NEW posts. Wow. So much going on.

With all the new in the new year, I’ve spent the last few days floating on a cloud of excitement and anticipation…but…(shhh…I’m whispering this part…) now that the week has REALLY begun… and I’ve finished twirling around the room shrieking and giggling…and I’ve played with all my new toys…and all the company has left…is anyone else starting to feel a familiar little pang of worry creep in? Anyone else get back to work and start to feel….overwhelmed…? Was your first day back in the routine a little…chaotic…?

Post-holiday time can be just as stressful for your mini vacation-revelers – and they can’t even choose to lose themselves in a Pinterest vortex. With that in mind, we thought we’d share a little meditation activity today for anyone looking for their moment of calm (and extra zen points to get everyone participating).

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Magic Zen Meditation Jars

These magic jars are SO. MESMERIZING. Photographing these literally took 40 minutes longer than it should have due to being caught in a hazy, dazed amazement. Explaining the what, why and how of meditation to kids is one of those things that can quickly spiral into a “what even just happened here…?” moment for everyone. The idea is that after you shake the jar, you just watch and wait…by the time all the glitter reaches the bottom (I timed mine to take about 1 minute) you will have found your happy place. The great magic of these “magic” jars is that your kids will be be teaching themselves the practice before you even get started in on an explanation.

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You’ll need:

  • A Jar or Plastic Container with a water-tight lid (we used a small plastic container)
  • Hot Water
  • Glycerin
  • Dish Soap
  • Glitter
  • Other fun stuff? (i.e. legos, little plastic animals, charms, etc)

These take about 5 minutes, so go crazy and make a bunch. I wanted a smaller, travel-size, travel-safe jar to give to a sweet little biscuit I know who has a fear of riding the bus – but you can use any jar you want (these were about 4″ tall and $2.99 for a set of 4 at our local craft store). Time to start throwing the goods in.

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Pro tip: the more glycerin you add, the longer its going to take the glitter to fall to the bottom – I’m going to give you MY recipe and you can alter accordingly….

2 parts water (I filled roughly 2/3 of the bottle)

1 part glycerin (I filled the remaining 1/3 with glycerin)

1 or 2 drops of dish soap (this keeps the glitter from clumping and staying at the top)

Glitter to taste  :-)    (I put in about a tablespoon of regular, fine and snowflake-shaped)

This is kind of an anything-goes project –  like beads? Put ’em in. Have some Lego people laying around? Yup, into the drink. Old barbie shoes? Sure, yes, let’s do it. Pretty much anything small, durable and light enough can be added. You can also color the water with food coloring. After some test-shakes, if you’re afraid of a mess or your jar isn’t quite water-tight, add some non-water-soluble glue around the rim and screw the lid on tight and let set.

After you’re done putting the jar together, kids won’t even need a prompt for what to do next. Sit back and watch them  shake these up then completely zone out watching the swirl-y, glitter-y amazing-ness (like I did). Fun game: see how many of your adult co-workers have exactly the same reaction.

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This is a perfect opportunity to explain how these can be used – and actually, there are so many different ways to use them. They can provide a sense of calm and be time for reflection and quiet. They can represent worries or frustrations – a good shake and some consideration time goes a long way to help little ones with those. They’re a perfect time-out timer and can help divert angry energy, reset focus, and switch gears.

As much as we would LOVE to take credit for this idea, we were inspired by Angie Yingst and Kaley Ann – check them out for some more good ideas and happy thoughts! Happy New Year and cheers to learning ways to steal moments of chill in 2016 – for more meditation (& yoga!) ideas for your kiddos, check out our Pinterest board here. Suggestions? Questions? Pictures? Free Hugs? Leave a comment, send us an email or tag us on FB/Twitter/Instagram (@barleyandbirch, #barleyandbirch) !

PS – hey, you guys…? We’re so happy to start the new year with you…thanks for sticking around  :-)

Make Something Monday Part 2: Mini Winter Gardens

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

Make Something/Green Monday continues with Part 2…

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Mini Winter Gardens

 

I have a long list of people who do things for me on the regular, so every time the holidays roll around I try to keep an eye out for a simple & beautiful something I can give to quite a few without breaking the bank. I’ve always loved having clear vases of paperwhites all over the house come January – aaaaand there was an excess of mason jars hanging out in the kitchen – so there you go. This is the perfect solution for an army of giftees.

You’ll need:

  • Mason Jars (I used 1/2 pint & pint wide-mouth jars)
  • Potting Soil
  • Rocks or Pebbles
  • Live Sheet Moss or Peat Moss
  • Water-Blooming Bulbs (I used Paperwhite & Crocus but you can also use Amaryllis, Hyacinths, Tulips, Daffodils, or Dutch Iris)
  • Water

If you don’t plant your mini-gardens right away, store your bulbs in a cool dry place and your moss (if its live) in a cool, damp place. The roots of crocus and paper whites only need 3″ of room to grow, so I did a layer of soil for moisture and a layer of rocks for drainage, plunked the bulb down on top, then pushed some sheet moss in around it to hold the bulb in place (plus, this is what REALLY takes it from “bulb in a jar” to “mini winter garden”).

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1 Narcissus bulb fits perfectly in a wide-mouth pint jar and 3 Crocus in the 1/2 pint wide-mouths. I used White Marble Rocks (love that fresh, bright white) and live sheet moss from the local garden store. I totally recommend buying the live stuff – its a cheery festive green, it insulates the bulb, holds just a bit of water (even when dried out) and a little goes a LONG way. I probably only used about a 5 in. x 5 in. square for the 20 I put together tonight.

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Personally, I think they are super cute as is in the clear jars, but if you are feeling a dressed-up version, we wrapped some of ours in paper bags + twine and are loving the look. You could also use some of the sweet phonebook wrap you probably just made… 😉

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This is seriously a great thing for kids to make (so quick and easy) and give (especially to other kids). And its truly the gift that keeps on giving, because who isn’t ready for some fresh flowers come January?  REALLY.

 

 

Make Something Monday Part 1: Phonebook Wrapping Paper

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

Happy Green Monday! To be honest, I didn’t really even know that was a thing until this morning – and I guess its just a…second cyber Monday? Hm-kay. Well, we’re celebrating “Green Monday” AND our usual Make Something Monday with TWO, count ’em TWO simple and lover-ly holiday projects that will leave you with the cutest darn eco-friendly gifts you ever did see. So if you by chance are not standing in a line somewhere waiting to see Star Wars tonight, grab your kiddos and make these with us!

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Tonight I’m finishing up  2 projects – one is a wrap and one is a gift, and they go sooooo well together!

While cleaning out the kitchen recently, I ran across a stack (not just one) of old phonebooks – the bane of my existence. Low on brown paper, and needing to get some gifts out the door, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and turn those lame old doorstops into something cool and useful. I loved the pattern the print on the phonebook pages made and using bright colors turned something dull into something bright and cheery!

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THIS is SO EASY. And SUCH a good project for kids and SUCH a good way to repurpose an old around-the-house item.

Here’s what you’ll need:

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  • An old phonebook (or even just pages you never use…the X’s?)
  • Paints (I used old samples of exterior paint – this actually worked way better than I thought it would! Any old paint that isn’t TOO water soluble will do though)
  • Paintbrush or stamping tool or even just little fingers!

So this isn’t a project that really requires any instruction, just have fun painting! I’ll share a couple quick tips though…

Although you can’t see through the paper once its on a package (which is kind of amazing) it takes just the slightest breeze to blow it around while you’re working on it. For kids especially, a little painter’s tape or some paperweights at the edges while  working and drying is a great idea. I paint on the back of old cookie sheets because they’re super easy to clean off. This also makes it easier to move them if I need to do that for drying. Also, leave PLENTY of time for that – there’s nothing worse than getting wet paint on a new gift. (*shudder!*) After they’ve dried completely, flatten out any crinkles by letting them sit underneath a few heavy books for about 20 minutes – the paint I used didn’t stick, but you may want to put some wax paper between pages when you do this depending on the paint). Use as is, or tape a bunch together for larger-sized gifts.

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VOILA – super fun upcycled custom gift wrap! And the phone company generously supplies you with a gazillion pages! :-)  I like to “garnish” with some green clippings and twigs from the yard and twine – super simple and super cute.

Sit tight for Part 2, coming tonight: ADORBS mini crocus and paperwhite garden gifts!

Make Something Monday: Festive Felt Garland

Monday, November 30th, 2015

For all of you still celebrating a little break from over-excertion, we have the PERFECT weeknight activity to do with your kiddos. It takes only 3 supplies and 2 steps and in about 20 minutes (less with more helping hands) you’ll have a very fun, tres chic holiday decoration you can put just about anywhere and reuse the whole year round!

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How cute is that felt garland?? Here’s what you’ll need:

  • About 12 pieces of felt
  • Twine or yarn
  • Scissors

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Instructions:

  1. Cut each 8 1/2 x 11″ piece of felt in half length-wise, then cut every 1/2″-1″ to make about 20 rectangles from each piece of felt
  2. Knot each rectangle around a length of twine or yarn (I’d keep it on a big ball until you’ve used all your pieces, then cut at the end).

BOOM. That’s it!

Every part of this project is kid-friendly (except for maybe the cutting depending on age, because you’ll need some sharper scissors).  Its super fun for kids who want to pick their own colors and patterns, and is great practice for cutting, tying and pattern-planning. Best part: this garland can be reused for any special occasion! Happy garlanding!

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Make Something Monday: Gratitude Stones

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

Things I am thankful for today: the fact that someone reminded me THIS Thursday would be Thanksgiving. WHAT??? Where did November go?? With all of the busy-ness and the 2,561 things to do, and food to make and events to plan, it is so easy to rush whole days and weeks away. There are Pinterest boards, Facebook posts, TV specials, greeting cards, even a whole DAY devoted to reminding us to take some time out to remember what’s important and express our gratitude and thanks – but, inevitably, the season goes by every year and I realize I’ve missed a lot of opportunities to slow down, enjoy and be thankful. That’s why when I ran across the idea of Gratitude Stones I thought it was a perfect answer.

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This fantastic idea comes from Melissa at Fireflies and Mudpies and is such a great, simple way to start a tradition of taking a minute out to express gratitude everyday. She has so many meaningful suggested uses – many of which not only teach kids the importance of discusssing what we’re thankful for, but also learning how to express strong feelings, creating a time for relaxation, finding ways to pass our gratitude to others and the community. We’ve listed the materials below, but head over to the full post here for detailed instructions.

Its also a great activity for Thanksgiving day – especially if there’s someone in your family like me who knows ZERO about football, but can run a craft across the end zone every time (yeah, I just did that – I don’t even know if it made sense, because really – I know zero about football).

Materials:

  • Stones (washed and dried)
  • Tissue Paper (or photos or anything!)
  • Scissors
  • Glossy Mod Podge
  • Paint brushes

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Happy Thanksgiving! We present our happiest, happiest hearts to you and your families – we’re so grateful for all of you and the extra time you take (everyday!) to raise our future world-changers.

Printable Play: Winter Forest

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

YAY! Our very first free printable is here – just in time for holiday play!

Thor’s winter forest – inspired by one of our very own (extremely drool-y) team members.

(Hint: he’s the one with the festive antlers…)

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Print it out and play away! (Please excuse the fuzzy pics – technical difficulties – we will be updating the imagery on this post as soon as we can!)

Instructions:

Download the files here: Printable Play: Winter Forest Set

There are 3 documents in the zip file – a PDF of the printable with animals and trees, a PDF with the background mountains, and a text document with our terms of use (*please read!*)

The PDF printable of the animals and trees has 2 pages – print page 1, then print page 2 on the REVERSE. Just a note, you don’t have to print on both sides (especially if you’re using this for any of the remixed ideas below). I printed this on a super-thick cardstock to make it a little more durable, but you might want to print out a quick draft first to double-check how your printer handles the reverse printing.

These are not mean to be perfect, so don’t break a sweat over cutting perfectly. As a general rule, the trees and mountains are GREAT practice for little hands still learning how to cut – the animals may take a bit more patience and are better suited for adult skilllzz.

If you have any questions or issues please leave it in the comment section below – I’ll get back to ya!

Here are some remixed ideas – the deep cuts of paper playing…

  • Mod Podge onto some big plain wooden blocks  (perfect for smaller hands that play less gently)
  • Print out some superfun temporary tattoos (using something like this)
  • Make a magnet set (using something like this)
  • Stickers! (using something like this)
  • Frame a winter scene with your own backdrop in a shadow-box

*For all of the above options just remember you only need to print 1 side – Page 1 only!*

And let’s just break here for a second to interject some planet-saving-ness (our word…probably not a real one) – did you know there are companies that sell eco-friendly, soy-based ink for your home printers??? OH YES. Yes, there are. A couple examples: Inkpal or Tonergreen – they’re not available for every single printer, but I was actually pretty impressed with their array.

We would love love LOOOVVE to see how you guys are playing with these – so snap some pics and send them our way! If you’re on instagram you can tag us (@barleyandbirch) or use the hashtag #barleyandbirch – and want to take our original creation to the next level? You are welcome to get as creative as you want and share away! Our only request is that if you repost somewhere – could you please include a shout-out back to us with the original link to this post instead of a direct link to the files? We would so appreciate it!

Alright paper warriors – play on!

Make Something Monday: Cardboard Castles!

Monday, November 16th, 2015

Holy cardboard castles in the sky. By picture alone, is anyone else wishing they were of an acceptable age to abandon everything, drop to castle-level and immerse yourself in this for an entire afternoon? First of all – you are always of an acceptable age. Second – believe it or not, this is cardboard and masking tape. It IS!!!! It really is – and for all of you (me included) who have felt a pang of sympathy every time you see a well-intentioned Pinterest fail – this actually works out JUST as you think it will – there is a template, and thanks to Marilee’s pics, a lot of inspiration and direction beyond that.

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SO – here’s what it requires:

  • Sturdy cardboard (Marrilee used 10″x10″ pieces – so 20″ all together)
  • A Cutting Tool (good pair of scissors or X-acto knife)
  • Colored Tape (Marrilee used Duct Tape)

 

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Find the full instructions + a template here at the very amazing (and visually scrumptious) Mer Mag site  – such creativity!

And for a totally different take on how to decorate your mini-mideval fortress, take a look at the illustrator Rob Dunlavey’s Crystal City Sculpture – if tape isn’t your thing, just draw or paint right on the cardboard. Oh MONDAY, so much to have fun with, so little time!

*Pro tip: we’ll be posting our own b&b original printable this week and it goes sooooo well with castles. Just sayin’ (check back tomorrow – we’ll also add the link in this article)! *

– love, Amanda (long-time friend of b&b’s, now permanently behind the scenes! Hi everyone!)

Make Something Monday: No Sew Beaded Tutu Bedskirt

Monday, March 18th, 2013

 

We saw this tutorial written by Beth of Free Stylin’ and HAD to share it.  It’s such an easy, cheap way to make your little princess/dancer/mermaid(think blues!)/fairy’s room super cool and special.

 

 

What You’ll Need:

  • A ton of tulle fabric
  • A fitted sheet
  • Beads (optional)
  • A hot glue gun OR a needle & thread (to go with optional beads)
  •  A ruler
  • A pencil
  • Scissors

Directions are HERE.

Make Something Monday: Recycled Pool Noodles

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Somehow everybody seems to own at least one foam pool noodle, even if they don’t have a pool, or live near one. They’re cheap, take up room, and usually get thrown out after one or two uses.  Not in our world though, we at b&b love to upcycle whatever we can, so here’s some of our favorite pool noodle upcycles:

 

 

Slice one noodle in half and race matchbox cars/marbles!

Chop off about 6″, slice one side, and wrap it around your door. No more slamming doors! (Especially on kid hands!)

Swirl the noodle around itself (secure with a hot glue gun), wrap it in clear plastic and stick it on a bit of pvc pipe and you have a giant lollipop for all sorts of partys and awesomeness.

Turn them into hobby horses! Tutorial is here.

Did we forget about any other ways to upcycle these? Let us know!

Love,

Jodie