Great-Great Grandmama Olene would be so proud (maybe)

I really have no idea if Grandmama Olene was crafty. I do know that she joined the Mormon church in Norway with her husband Andrew. They came across the plains to settle in Utah, but they didn’t stay long. Perhaps it was the cushy locomotive transportation then available rather than the soul-refining hardships of the handcarts that led to Olene and Andrew making off for the bright lights of New York City.

Or maybe she just couldn’t keep up with her neighbors when it came to vinyl-ing heartfelt messages for every wall in her house.

You might prefer a white or silver backbone; black is surprisingly elegant.

But I have mastered the art of the Mod Podge (kind of), so Chrysanthemum showed me these cool snowflakes you can make. (And by “you” I mean: anyone who can handle the chenille stems formerly known as “pipe cleaners” without getting punctured or scraped).

Stem and Bead Snowflakes

Step #1: Buy chenille stems and bulk plastic children’s beads. Resist the urge to buy these at a craft store such as Hobby Lobby, even if a trusted blogger raves about the Hobby Lobby. Certain craft supplies like, say, bulk plastic children’s beads (just for example) are FOUR DOLLARS cheaper at Wal-Mart. And no, I’m not at all bitter about paying FOUR DOLLARS more at the Snobby Lobby.)

Push beads firmly to the center to make strands rigid.

Step #2: Cut 6 stems in half and then gather the 12 short stems. Twist another 1/2 stem around the middle, securing the snowflake/star shape. Let kids thread the plastic beads on — this is where chenille stems are great for kids, because unlike bracelets and necklaces (which kids also love to make), the stems catch the beads; much less frustrating for “little” fingers than that slippery stretchy cord used for making jewelry.

Though where there’s a will to properly adorn one’s special pets, little fingers will find a way:

I blame repeated viewings of The Aristocats.

I blame repeated viewings of The Aristocats.

Step #3: Only let the kids have a few beads (Like, 10. Or maybe 20. Okay, 30 MAX) at a time, otherwise you might get this:

I believed it was an "accident" at first.

and this:

Getting more suspicious here. Bits of plastic hitting fake wood sounds a lot like rain.

If you do end up with beads all over the floor, boy, have I got a tip for you. And here is where I would expect Grandmama Olene to be proud of me because? Cleaning up the bead mess? Baby, I rocked that part of our craft experience.

Are you ready? Okay.

To pick up small items, first hope and pray that the floor upon which said small items are scattered has been vacuumed sometime in the last month. Then put a fresh vacuum bag in your vacuum and simply vacuum those puppies up.

Ninety percent of household dust is sloughed skin cells.

Sift in a colander to remove the (miniscule amount of) stuff that actually belongs in the vacuum (which apparently settled on your floor right after that mopping you gave it last night).

I ran these beads under some water. If I weren’t anxiously engaged in exposing my children to immune-boosting household germs, I could’ve soaked them in bleach. But I believe in germs. And convenience. Amen.

What works for you?


The Mod Podge Squad

Once again I bring you a tip that I am probably the last person on earth to hear about it. (Last time it was my mother’s revolutionary microwave-cleaning method).

It might (or might not) be watery Elmer's Glue, but Mod Podge sounds so cool. Courtesy of

It might be watery Elmer's Glue, but Mod Podge sounds so cool. Courtesy of

Have you heard of this stuff? It’s great. You smear it on a surface (like wood, glass, metal), then on a flat object (fabric, photographs, stickers, etc) you want to stick onto the surface, and then you smear some more Mod Podge on, and then you smear some more, and suddenly you have a festive advent calendar of sorts.

(It’s a bit more complicated than that, but if you have anything you want to decorate and protect from sticky fingers or spilled hot chocolate, Mod Podge is for you).

This is what I made at my first-ever Super Saturday (Church Lady Craft Day) in Seagull Fountain. Mine is rather plain as I declined to add half of the recommended ribbons, rivets, and other assorted curliques.

Sally is already quite obsessive about changing the numbers before school. Dick keeps asking if we can use it to bake cookies when we’re done with it. I reminded him (very patiently) that Christmas comes every year, so this will be bringing us joy and merriment for decades to come.

I also “made” a nativity scene. I say “made,” because all I had to do was paint the wood and use a drill to screw the metal thingie to the said painted wood. Oh, and I tied one of the bows too.

So, crafty church ladies, Mod Podge (I just love saying that), and counting down to Christmas (wheee!) work for me.


Sugar and Sugar, and Everything Nice

Last week Mary Poppins visited, and she brought a craft. I think she got the idea from church, where the nice ladies helped the kids make sugar cube temples. Families are big at the Mormon church. By big, I mean important, though often they are above-average-in-size, too.

Dick and I were married in the Manti temple ten years ago, and the temple is a symbol of our marriage and our family, of our belief that we can be together forever. Even on the days when that sounds more like making license plates with my bare hands for seventy years than a heavenly blessing.

Mary Poppins is a bit more secular than that, and apparently feels she has to compete with those Disney Princesses. So she called her craft:

Sugar Cube Princess Castles


When planning a war campaign craft, the most important thing is gathering the correct supplies.

A box of sugar cubes is just over a dollar. Glitter, glue sticks and tin foil are cheap at the dollar store. I cut up a cereal box to get the cardboard for the bases.

Sugar + shiny stuff = serious enthusiasm. When we ask Susan what she wants to be when she grows up, she says, “Just like Sally.” It’s only a matter of time before Spot realizes that she, too, wants to be just like Sally, and also that sugar tastes better than glitter.

Wrap the tin foil around the cardboard for the base, like so. And stop eating the sugar!


While they concentrated on their castles, I pondered the fact that Sally now has freckles on her chin, and her ears are still elf-pointed, just like her daddy’s. We got her to think positively about the birthmark on her arm by telling her that it was how I knew I was taking the right baby home from the hospital. My sister asked me today if we’d be letting Sally get her ears pierced soon. Probably for her eighth birthday, but only if she realizes she wants it done. So far she hasn’t mentioned it, or the fact that she has Spock ears. Wonder how we’ll make her feel good about those.


Here’s Susan with her finished castle. Mary Poppins forgot to buy the right kind of glue (plain old school glue is best), and some frustration was expressed when trying to get the dang cubes to stay stacked, so we did squares and triangles, and built a house.


Here’s our best rendition of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. It’s a castle just like the house we’re hoping to buy before summer ends or Mary Poppins loses all patience (whichever comes first) is a castle.

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