Category: Crafts

DIY Man Eating Plant for Your Halloween Decor

 

Sometimes, it feels difficult to come up with unique holiday decor. While I was trying to come up with an idea for some such unique Halloween decor, I thought about the old throwback movie “Little Shop of Horrors”. I was excited about the idea of coming up with my own way to make a man eating plant. When doing a search for popularity on the internet, there weren’t too many ideas on how to make one, so the holiday was a solid one. I was excited to try to make my own from there. 

 

Man Eating Plant Material List

  • Balloon
  • Flour
  • Water
  • Newspaper
  • Clay
  • Paint
  • Tissue Paper
  • Spray Insulation
  • Cardboard Snack Box
  • Pole
  • Floral Wire
  • Glue

Man Eating Plant Build

My first step was to create the plant head using handy dandy paper mache. You are free to use whatever paper mache recipe floats your boat for this. I tend to go the easiest and cheapest route with a flour and water mixture. It admittedly isn’t quite as strong as a glue-based mix, but it certainly does the job. I used this same technique for my Witch Cauldron. Ultimate Paper Mache‘s site is a great source for recipes. There are five recipes here from which you can choose. After making the paste, cut or tear the newspaper into 1-inch strips. I placed the strips on the balloon in about 3 layers to get the egg shape.  

Clay Covering

Given that it would have taken forever to give the plant head a thick coating with the paper mache, I opted to try to use clay I had made for some other projects, including my witch cauldron Halloween decor. I went through some rough patches with this project, that is for certain. The home made clay I used cracked after drying. I tried to pull some of it off but it was going to take the paper with it some areas. 

 

I ended up covering the clay with more paper mache to smooth it out. It ended up working out in the looks department but was quite heavy after it was all said and done. I would recommended going another route for the thickening layer; something like foam or quilting fabric. 

 

Inside the Mouth

 

Time for spray insulation! I filled the cavity with the insulation to what I thought it should be with some growth. Be warned, it really grows!

 

 

After a little too much expansion, I had to saw it down to a manageable working place. It was pretty easy to cut through, so I was pleased in that regard. I used a utility knife to cut down more in the middle to make room for the tongue. Somthing to be aware of is the insulation loses it’s shinier smoother texture when you cut into it. 

 

 

The veins on one side were added during the paper mache phase. The other side ended up being better as the top, so I opted to use hot glue to create some veins there. I used my airbrush to give it a few coats of different shades of green and some purple for the outside. The inside of the mouth needed a few coats of red to give it a nice deep color. The cut insulation kept the spray paint well.  

 

Time for the Detail!

 

I used cereal box cardboard as the base/structure and the same clay to craft my tongue. The cracking this clay did after drying ended up being a perfect pairing for a gnarly tongue. I set it to dry on top of two paint bottles to give it dimension, aka an in motion look.

 

 

After some red and purple paint, this tongue was ready to taste some prey! White clay teeth were the last to throw together. Hot clue did the trick to get the clay teeth to stick to the insulation gums. 

 

Man Eating Plant Body

 

The man eating plant wouldn’t have been complete without the leaves and tentacles to attract it’s prey. I was running out of time at this point because of the headache the clay had given me. There was no choice but to make quick work of the tentacles. I sprayed newspaper with spray glue and rolled it up. Then, I coated it in paper mache paste to get it to harden. From there, it was just a matter of waiting for them to dry in position and painting them. 

 

 

The leaves were put together with flower wire, tissue paper, spray glue and some spray paint. 

 

Watch Out, this Plant has Quite the Bite

 

I loved the look of the inside of the mouth and the head. If there had been more time before Halloween, I would have take the leaves and tentacles up a notch, but they were enough for the Halloween night decor. As first tries go, there were some successes and some fails. Overall, it was a learning experience. Maybe I’ll try another technique this Halloween. Or maybe I’ll be too pregnant and tired to care about giving it another go. We shall see! Happy Holiday Crafting to you!

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

DIY Witch Decor to Creep Out the Neighbors

I don’t know what it is, but I love the chance to get my creepy on with Halloween decor. I’m definitely not a ‘blow up’ decor user and prefer to take more of an authentic route. I’d love to have my own mini haunted house for trick or treaters at some point. If this resonants with you, then you’re at the right place. This witch head project was spurred by a broken skeleton figure. I’d already bought a styrofoam head, which I’d planned to use for a witch cauldron I was making. After some thought, I shifted gears and chose to use the head in another way. 

Witch Head Materials

  • Clay
  • Tissue Paper
  • Dowel
  • Paint
  • Wig
  • Witch’s Hat
  • Mod Podge
  • Styrofoam Head

Witch Head Construction

The styrofoam head came from Michaels, which had just one option. I used this clay recipe from The Kitchen Table Classroom for the nose and warts. 

I didn’t use glue or anything to adhere the clay to the face. Some of the warts did fall off, so I glued them back on with craft glue. 

I used my airbrush to paint the head and realized the styrofoam bumps were a problem. I didn’t like the look of them at all so had to come up with a way to try to hide them. 

Quick Fix

After some contemplation, I opted to cover the face with Mod Podge and some tissue paper. My thought was it would help to smooth out the bumpy texture.

After giving it another coat of paint with the air brush, it looked a bit better. I was keen on the wrinkles it gave the face. 

The Face Details

I painted the eyes with acrylic paint and layered over with glue to give it a glassy rounded look. While at a softball game, I found some stick like things I decided to glue on as eyelashes. My dog’s hair served as the eyebrows. It admittedly looked rough, so I used some purple fuzzy material to cover it up. 

After the fun of crafting was complete, I drilled a hole for my dowel and glued the dowel in it. The dowel fit right inside the hole of my broken skeleton body. 

The Final Look

With the simple addition of a black wig and a witch hat, this simple DIY witch decor was complete.

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

Affordable DIY Halloween Witch Cauldron

 

Bubble bubble toiling trouble. Holidays always get me excited for decorating. I think Halloween provides the best opportunity to try something new. This past Halloween, my mind was in over drive thinking about decorations I wanted to make. I really loved the bubbling cauldron look, so was excited to put my own spin on it. Follow along with this witch cauldron tutorial to make your own! 

 

Materials

Witch Cauldron

 

To save on the amount of spray foam needed, I cut a piece of cardboard to fit the inside rim of the cauldron. I usually have a stock of cardboard (supported by the increase in online purchases, thanks to the pandemic). As can be seen in the photo, small gaps are okay. I had to bend the cardboard in the middle a bit to get it into the inner rim. 

 

Paper Mache

My element of uniqueness was to hand a hand reaching out of the potion, which was scaling it back from the thought of using a styrofoam head sticking out as well. My first step was to create the hand using handy dandy paper mache. You are free to use whatever paper mache recipe floats your boat for this. I tend to go the easiest and cheapest route with a flour and water mixture. It admittedly isn’t quite as strong as a glue-based mix, but it certainly does the job. I used this same technique for my Candyland Lollipops for Christmas. Ultimate Paper Mache‘s site is a great source for recipes. There are five recipes here from which you can choose. After making the paste, cut or tear the newspaper into 1-inch strips.

If you have a willing volunteer, I’d definitely recommend using a hand that is not your own. I completed this on my left hand, so only had my right hand to do the work. Anyway, using the paper strips, dip them into the paper mache mixture and scrape off the excess. Wrap the paper mache strips around each finger and the rest of the hand. I recommend putting a solid layer all over.

It may be necessary to stuff it a bit to keep the shape while it dries.

Bubbling Potion

 

After using this “Great Stuff”, I definitely agree it’s great stuff. It could also be called “Super Easy” or “Crafting Gold”.  My 10 and 7 year olds enjoyed giving it a try. I started with spraying the base and spilling it over the sides. 

 

My little soccer player helped me out by holding the hand in place to look like it was reaching out of the cauldron. An argument could be made for the odd proportions, but I wasn’t worried about it. I guess I could have easily used one of my daughters’ hands. Live and learn. I sprayed the foam around the hand to get it to hold in place. With that, the bubbling was complete. 

 

Weather Protection

 

I was worried about the paper mache standing up to the weather outside, so I decided to use clay I made for another craft. To be honest, I shouldn’t have used this diy clay recipe and should have shifted to store bought clay. It was definitely a bit mistake on my part. It was too wet and loose, so it ended up making the paper mache hand soggy and saggy. I had to prop it up and use more clay than desired to give the saggy hand more shape. So, if anything, learn from my mistake and opt for the better store bought clay or maybe just a better recipe than I used that doesn’t included ingredients like baby oil. 

 

 

Using my airbrush, I painted the bubbling potion a lime green and gave it a second coat with darker green. I used my dremel to give the hand a more realistic look. Then, painted the hand and called it a day. To make this project even easier, you could quite honestly use a store bought Halloween hand. The path is yours to choose as far as how much DIY you want to do. 

 

Can Mistakes Be a Threat to Your Mental Health?

“Most people don’t like to make mistakes, but some people are more sensitive to errors than others, and that can make them more prone to anxiety…”

Greg Hajcak Proudfit, associate professor of psychology at Stony Brook University

 

I’m like anyone else and don’t care for making mistakes, especially when it effects my end results. I was kicking myself when I used the clay that I already had concerns. Sometimes, apathy and laziness get the best of me when I just want to knock things off my too long list of to dos. Apparently, there’s a region of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex that is stimulated by the recognition of mistakes and when it’s stimulated, the increase in activity is called error-related negativity (ERN). I found this particular paragraph from When Mistakes Are a Threat to Mental Health pretty interesting, 

“What makes some people prone to higher ERNs and therefore anxiety? The ERN is somewhat heritable; for instance, healthy individuals who have immediate family members with anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder tend to have a larger ERN. But situational factors also affect ERN. In lab studies, Proudfit has shown that it’s possible to induce a higher ERN by “punishing” participants for errors, for example by playing a very loud and aggravating sound after the participant makes a mistake.”

I think it’s definitely something to keep in mind when considering how you respond to your own mistakes and the mistakes of others, particularly children. As the article goes on to describe, hostile responses to mistakes can increase the ERN tendency, which will lead to higher anxiety levels. Give yourself and others grace for those mistakes. If they can be overcome, then there’s always a lesson to use for the next time. 

 

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

Crafting a One of a Kind Storybook

Years ago, I had dreams of writing children’s books. Storybooks of whimsy intertwined with educational tidbits. Although that dream has not yet been realized, I have held on to my half-drafted ideas and write-ups waiting for a possible revival. While that may or may not still happen, I shifted gears a bit in that same vein to complete a project with my girls. It was a perfect marriage of creative thinking and enjoyment of photographs and editing. Follow along as we crafted our one-of-a-kind storybook. I hope you’ll be inspired to create one of your own!

Storybook Start

 

I don’t know about you, but my inspiration can come from a variety of places. For this particular project, I was jump-started into action while my husband was away in training for 3 months. I wanted a way for my three girls to feel connected to him while he was away. That desire morphed into a mother-daughter(s) project. We worked together to write a story centered around them and their dad that we then crafted into a keepsake storybook. Trying to write a story with an 8, a 6, and 3-year-old could have been quite the task. To prevent utter madness, I provided my own structure by creating a base for the story. From there, I asked them questions about what they wanted for different components, like for their special power, the name of the dragon, the obstacles they would encounter, etc. I’d liken it to more of a mad-libs session than unbridled creativity. I’d learned my lesson after developing a previous story with my oldest that became a bit difficult to tie into pictures with the level of creativity in the storylines. 

 

Planning makes the project

I drafted it in Microsoft Word to fit the pages and then made a list of photo options that could fit with the content on the page. Things like… 

  • girls excited to find dad in dungeon cell
  • hugging dad
  • telling dad about their adventure to save him
  • walking back through woods with dragon
  • handing dragon to fairy in woods
  • returning to winster kingdom holding hands

This stage is all about the proper planning.

Actresses at the Ready

After the story and plans were drafted, it was time to trek into the woods. This was by far the most difficult part of the whole project. My chosen locale was a heavily wooded spot that included some thorny patches leading to my go-to spot; a log spanning some shallow water. As any parent might imagine, there was whining about the walk, about the thorns, sisters being mean, tears, and pouting. It was all I could do to keep my sanity during the hour we were there. By the end of this outing, we had a solid set of photos ready for editing.

The second space was natural without the thorns or walking, so the second photo session was much easier. At the end of the day, it’s all about those lessons learned, isn’t it?!

Photoshop Time

 

After the story writing, planning, and picture taking, this storybook was ready for the photoshop fun. I’ve used a fair variety of photoshop programs from free to paid. My favorite has been Adobe Photoshop and was what I used for this project. I had to scour the internet for photos I pair with my photos for the extra fun factor. These searches included tree roots, a bunny hoping, fairies, dragons, and some backgrounds. 

 

Adding Magic

The girls’ chosen powers were the power of freezing objects, the power of control water, and powerful strength.  

Shutterfly Storybook End

The final step was to put it together with Shutterfly. It’s my most frequently used photo product company. I live for good deals and Shutterfly constantly provides in that arena. It’s also user-friendly and allows manipulation of the templates, which is super important to me. 

 

Pandemic Mental Health Check

The pandemic has had a variety of effects from physical to mental.  I came across an article,

that defined a new feeling people have been experiencing since the start of the pandemic. If you’re feeling joyless and aimless, you may be experiencing languishing.

His research suggests that the people most likely to experience major depression and anxiety disorders in the next decade aren’t the ones with those symptoms today. They’re the people who are languishing right now. And new evidence from pandemic health care workers in Italy shows that those who were languishing in the spring of 2020 were three times more likely than their peers to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The good news is, “People who became more immersed in their projects managed to avoid languishing and maintained their prepandemic happiness.” So with that thought in mind, starting a project like this storybook today will definitely serve your mental health in the long run. 

Unique Rainbow Ceiling Fan Revamp for your Color Loving Kids

My daughter’s love of rainbows started when she was 2 years old. One of our favorite videos of her entails her proclaiming, “This is the most beautiful cake in the world, mom!!” as she looked at a rainbow cake in a board book. I couldn’t get out of that particular weekend without making her a replica of that rainbow cake. For her 10th birthday, I gave her a rainbow room makeover. After our recent move, we had another opportunity to go on a rainbow room adventure. We started with an easy rainbow ceiling fan.

Her fan is the same one in my parents’ kitchen. It has reversible fan blades, so I didn’t feel so bad about devoting this side to the rainbow update. 

Spray Paint Base

I knew that I was going to try spray painting, so I started with giving the brown a coat of white spray paint. I think any kind of spray paint would do.

After a quick drying session, it was time to use the air brush for a cheap win. If an airbrush isn’t at the ready in your craft space, a paint brush will certainly do. I liked the prospect of a lighter and even color. 

I used watered-down acrylic paints for my airbrush. Given airbrushing is pretty new to me, I haven’t quite perfected my airbrush technique. Things when alright until I got to yellow. I don’t think I made the yellow thin enough because it started to get difficult to spray. What should have been a quick task, ended up being a frustrating one. And such is life. 

To touch up a little of the splatter spots, I used a paper towel dipped in the watered-down acrylic paint. With a bit of blotting, it was ready to go back on the ceiling. I do the watered-down paint as a cost-saving method but I think I may opt to see the difference in purchased airbrush paints. 

Rainbow Ceiling Fan

The fantastic thing about the rainbow fan blades is that when it’s spinning, the circular rainbow really comes together. My rainbow lover was thrilled with the end result! Having physical spaces that you love definitely helps your mental space. When your stressed by your physical space, it’s going to be difficult to keep your mental space right.

Mental Health Awareness

It’s not just adults who suffer from mental health issues, children can struggle with it in much the same ways. It’s important to check in and keep a pulse on how they are doing and handling all the “new” ways of life.  On Our Sleeves is a Movement for Children’s Mental Health. It provides evidence-based resources to help kids cope during this challenging time, provided by the experts at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH. 

A rainbow is often a sign of hope, the beauty after the storm, a pot of gold and good fortune at the rainbow’s end. For many, a rainbow carries a personal symbolic meaning–representing inclusivity and diversity, an all-embracing image of love and friendship.

For others, a rainbow might not mean good fortune and beauty, but something far off. The pot of gold isn’t there, or the love and friendship is there for others but not for them. Somewhere over the rainbow is far, far away. What does the rainbow mean to you? Share using #OnOurSleeves.

On Our Sleeves

For other creative activities to expand your mind and relationships, check out Crafting a Calming Corner to Assuage Parent and Child, How to Throw a Magical Harry Potter Party, Budget-Friendly DIY Monster Book of Monsters from Harry Potter or The Ultimate Cardboard Gingerbread House for Christmas Crazed Kids.

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

Outstanding Popcorn Garland and Gobstoppers for Candyland Christmas

After creating my giant lollipops and tootsie roll string lights in the first Candyland Christmas rendition, I knew I wanted to get moving on some Candyland Christmas additions. My priorities continued to be keeping supply costs low (most items were on hand), fun in creating, and trying to be set apart from the rest of the neighborhood. 

Candyland Christmas Popcorn Garland

Supplies: 

While going through bins of old toys to sell, I was inspired by the ball pit balls we hadn’t used in forever. Those balls gave me the rather brilliant idea to make little wrapped “candies”. I’m thinking of the ones you get from some Asian restaurants in the metallic wrapping. It was a great pairing to the “popcorn” I was already planning to do. For some reason, I didn’t take pictures, but the task is super easy. Cut the tissue paper to a good size to fit around your ball, leaving a good 3 inches on each end. I taped the seam over the ball to keep the paper sealed. Then, it’s just a matter of pinching the tissue paper on either side of the ball and twisting the tie around it. It’s perfect for kids of all ages!

Honestly, this craft couldn’t be any simpler, so here we go with the popcorn instructions. Spray the Great Foam onto something you don’t care about having some stuck on foam remnants. Spray the foam into a lopsided shape, you know, like popcorn. I wouldn’t say mine are a great popcorn shape, so if you can do better, then I applaud you. This stuff grows quite a bit so definitely make it undersized to what you think you want it to be after it expands. It’s always a good idea to try one first to see how big it gets.

And here they are after hardening. A scraper will help you get them off cleanly from the surface. I didn’t think about it until after I’d already strung my popcorn up, but it’d be a great idea to turn the popcorn over and spray a bit more Great Foam on the flat rough side for a better shape. I’m pretty tempted to spray mine even while they are currently hung up because I dislike that flat side so much.

DIY Giant Needle

Time to sew! I had to run through ideas in my head on how I could get a string through the popcorn. With our pending move, I had already packed up some of the things I would have considered. After taking a look in my knife and skewer drawer, I was elated to find a lone wooden skewer. I drilled a tiny hole at the end, making it a perfect giant needle. It felt like a huge win! I used some heavy sewing thread to feel confident the string wouldn’t break. 

 

From there, it was just a matter of man powering the skewer through the foam. Just kidding, it’s really quite easy! My pattern was two popcorns, then one candy. I tied the string around one side of the candy. After the assortment was all threaded onto the string, I basically wrapped it around the string of lights. And with that, this craft for Candyland Christmas is finished. 

 

Gobstoppers

 

I was beyond tickled when the Gobstopper idea hit me. It was such a SIMPLE idea. I already had clear cellophane on hand. I cut a strip of it to fit the circumference of the balls. Then with the balls in the middle of the cellophane strip, I taped the seam together. I held one end together to use the clear packing tape to ‘seal’ it similarly to what an actual gobstopper strip looks like. Then I did the same to the other side before cutting it off. Now, if you want to go the extra mile, you could use a Cricut to create the label to stick on. I, unfortunately, don’t currently have the means, otherwise, I probably would. 

 

Mints

Here’s another “what do I have sitting around” idea. Foil pie pans had been sitting in wait in my cabinet for quite some time. I decided to use those to make a mint. I cut the perimeter about 6 times to the crease. This was to allow the border to fold into more of a 90-degree angle. Surprise surprise, craft glue doesn’t work so well on foil, so I taped the overlapping seam together.

 

Then, it was just a matter of folding the selected tissue paper into the empty center. Cutting the clear cellophane to the right size and tying off the ends with the twist ties. Literally, a two minute effort you can hand off to your kiddos to get them involved. Cheap and easy is the continued name of the game with this Candyland Christmas theme.

 

Presenting: Candyland Christmas!!!

Here is it all together!

 

 

If I weren’t in the process of selling a house, I would definitely continue to up the ante. It looks much to bear for my tastes. I unfortunately just don’t have the time to be able to continue on my Candyland Christmas journey, but there’s always next year…

 

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

The Ultimate Cardboard Gingerbread House for Christmas Crazed Kids

As some of my other posts show, I have a strong love for cardboard. It’s easy to find, it’s free, it’s got a nice balance of flexibility and strength, fairly easy to manipulate, and it’s recyclable. I mean, with all those great characteristics, who wouldn’t love it?! I started just as many other parents, by providing the big box to the child, allowing their imagination to run wild. Since I love allowing my imagination to go wild, that only lasted so long for me. When we moved into our current house, I finally had the open space to run a little wild.
I made my first cardboard gingerbread house about 5 years ago. It stayed up well over a year before we took it down. My youngest spent many hours playing in that little house and why I recommend you make one of your very own if you’ve got the space. I hope my ideas help to inspire your own!

Now onto the Build

Materials:

  • Big and small cardboard boxes
  • Paper towel rolls or wrapping paper rolls
  • Contact paper
  • Toilet paper roll
  • Egg
  • Sticks
  • Scissors and/or razor
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks (check out this link for a cordless hot glue gun, I know what I’m putting on my Christmas wish list!!!)
  • Paint and paintbrushes
  • Fake snow or whatever Christmas element you’d like to add

To start, it’s really up to the boxes you have on hand to determine your eventual house shape. Hot glue is a wonderfully quick and sturdy option to glue your pieces together. Thankfully, I had huge boxes from a refrigerator, a washer, dryer, and couches. I’ve found it’s quite easy to cut at the corners by running a razor down through it. 

I painted the wrapping paper rolls with the candy cane strips before cutting them open in one straight line. This was to open them up for gluing on the corners of the house/box. I truly loved the effect. We made some peppermints out of other bits of cardboard and hot glued them onto the front. From there, it was just a matter of painting the house front as we desired. 

The Front Door: the magical entrance to an imagination space

For the door, I cut out an open panel to let the girls have a spot to look through while in the house. To give it a personalized touch, I used contact paper so my girls could create a little winter scene. I sealed it with a backside of contact paper and glued it to the back of the door. 

For the handle, I knew I wanted to make it able to turn and “lock” into position. Below is what I came up with based on what I had on hand. My motto is generally to use what I have rather than look to buy something. I used a toilet paper roll and two wooden dowels I had for cake stability or some other craft project. It was easy enough to cut the hole for the toilet paper roll and holes for the sticks that would keep the door in place. The problem was that the toilet paper roll wasn’t strong enough on the edge now to be crushed.

A bit of ingenuity

I came up with using an egg out of my fridge. I blew out the innards and then coated it in Mod Podge to seal it and give it some added strength. After that, I stuck the egg into the end of the toilet paper roll. Looking back, I admit it does seem rather odd, but it worked perfectly and lasted a really really long time. It wasn’t until we had some little boys over to play that one egg ended up crushed, cause, you know, BOYS. 

For the chimney, I used a white square cardboard box. It was easy to cut the bottom at the angle of the roof. Then, my oldest daughter helped me to paint the stone look of it. I used some super hard corner cardboard pieces (the kind that comes with appliances or furniture) as the roof seam. 

“He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Clement Clarke Moore, The Night Before Christmas

Stepping inside this Cardboard Gingerbread House

Obviously, a cozy Cardboard Gingerbread house isn’t much without a roaring stone fireplace. Using another super-stiff box, I cut it in half and then cut the front down the middle to be able to bend back for the fireplace shape. My oldest was then 7 and really enjoyed helping paint the stones. You can really see the concentration on her face here. Did you know crafting with kids can build their confidence? As they start to see the results of their work, it proves how much they can do just by trying. 

With the fireplace in place, it was only a matter of rolling up some brown cardstock into sticks and cutting and gluing some tissue paper together to create the roaring fire. There were cut off corner pieces needing to be repurposed, so I glued them to the corners as shelves. In the below photo, you can hopefully see I used some bent cardboard as roof supports to keep it solidly in place. It was easy enough to then tuck the light strings into the open spots. 

Just a few hours of crafting and engineering precision, created years of enjoyment for my three girls!

Upping the ante with Cardboard Gingerbread House #2

For my daughter’s 6th birthday, I made a Haunted Cardboard house for the birthday party. Since I’d put so much work into it, we weren’t about to take it down right afterward. Together, we spruced it up to turn it into another cardboard gingerbread house. Because I’m a bit of a hoarder, not really, just an avid “repurposer”, we were able to use the chimney and fireplace we’d created the first time around.

Join me on the Inside

Obviously, the square footage of this house was a great deal more than the previous one. The girls were able to go full-on Christmas on the inside. It was such a fun Christmas activity to get us in the spirit!

“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there…”

Clement Clarke Moore, The Night Before Christmas

 

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

Charming Candyland Christmas Projects for the Novice Crafter

As I started to think about Christmas and the same old outdoor decorations I’ve been using for years, I had the strong desire to mix things up. I had a plastic playhouse that my daughters had outgrown and needed to be repurposed or handing to someone else. That fact pushed me to think about turning it into a gingerbread house. Thinking of a gingerbread house made me think of candy and candy made me think of a Candyland Christmas theme. (Do you know the “If you Give a Moose a Muffin” books? I feel like that is how my brain works all the time and I think it drives my husband crazy.) From there, my girls and I were super excited to start with some mommy-daughter Christmas crafting!

Lollipops for Candyland Christmas

Materials:

  • Pool Noodle
  • Hot Glue Gun and Glue sticks
  • Flour
  • Water
  • Newspaper
  • Spray Paint
  • Paint
  • Paint Brush
  • Clear
  • Ribbon and/or Twist Ties
  • Dowel
  • Drill

We are currently preparing to move 45 minutes south in a month, so it was perfect timing to use these old pool noodles for a new project. It’s so much better than throwing them out! 

To start, grab your warmed up glue gun and start gluing the side of the end of the noodle and bending a small portion. As you continue to add glue to the outside edge, start to wrap the extra noodle length around the middle bend. I decided to use two noodles for each lollipop, but it could be fine with one. With the pandemic pushing people to get pools, the clearance pool noodle supply was nonexistent.

Creating the Lollipop Covering

If your pool noodles look good, you could bypass this step, given mine were different colors, I wanted to be able to spray paint them. I mixed enough flour and water together to get a cream-based soup consistency. Next, I dipped my newspaper into the mixture. Then I wiped off the excess before smoothing it onto the pool noodles. This dries much quicker in warm temperatures, so I used a small heater to dry them quickly. 

Then I set about with spray painting the dried paper Mache coating with a Rustoleum white I had on hand. 

I hand-painted red and white stripes with cheap acrylic paint. From there, I use a 1/2″ drill bit to drill a hole for the stick. I happened to have some wood posts from tree plantings in the backyard needing to be repurposed. Instead of painting white, I left them as is to save the spray paint. All there was left to do was to tie on the Cello wrapping paper I got from the Dollar Tree. It was a little too narrow for the diameter of my lollipop, so I used clear packing tape to tape the side flaps down.

I used Christmas ribbon I had leftover from the year before. Such an easy and cheap project! I mean seriously, how cute are these?!

GumDrops for Candyland Christmas

Materials:

  • Plastic Bowls
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Glitter glue or glitter paint
  • String lights

Easy Steps:

  1. Paint the inside of each bowl. I got six bowls so did the six different colors of gumdrops; red, green, orange, white, yellow, and purple.

2. Coat the outside in the glitter of choice.  I used some Rust-oleum Glitter Paint I had on hand thanks to Walmart clearance and a previous bookcase refinish. 

3. Place over the string lights.

4. Light it up!

 

Fruit Chews

Materials

  • Plastic bottles
  • Tissue Paper
  • Cello wrap
  • Twist Ties
  • Light string
  • Razor
  • Tape

Steps

1. Cut the top and bottom off with the razor.

2. Thread the string lights through the bottle.

3. Cut rectangles of the cello wrap and tissue paper. 

4. Wrap the tissue and cello around the bottle. Then tape it together. 

5. Twist both ends and tie with the twist tie.

6. Repeat steps 1-5 until you cover the whole string.

Mental Health Benefits

With all this trash repurposing, it’s fitting to point out that being green conscience can also improve mental health. According to Dr. Brian Wind, a clinical psychologist,  

leading a sustainable lifestyle can improve mindfulness and aid in easing depression or anxiety.

Earth 911

So while you are repurposing that trash and getting into your crafting zone, you’re really amping up the mental health benefit while meeting your Christmas décor needs. Enjoy!

Crafting a Calming Corner to Assuage Parent and Child

Anyone out there have perfect emotionally balanced children? I’m definitely not raising my hand to that one. In fact, we have nicknamed my daughter’s alter ego as “the hulk” because, while she’s normally such a docile sweet child, you better watch out when something gets to her. When she gets angry, you can hear the stomping and huffing from the other side of the house. Given my human service field, I’ve always talked to my girls about their emotions. Even so, my little hulk really struggled with controlling herself when she became escalated. There came a day when she actually asked if we could create a calming corner for her to fight off her anger. I was all for it because it would be a great way to help her learn the important skill of self-regulation.

Calming Corner Benefits

Self-Awareness and Self-Management: Calm down corners help children to practice identifying feelings and emotions to better manage stress, self-regulate and control their impulses. Having a space designed to support them emotionally and physically helps them feel safe and comfortable, allowing them to let down their guard to process different feelings.

Relationship Skills: Learning how to communicate one’s feelings and emotions can be difficult, but calming spaces such as this help children practice mindfulness and develop skills they need to identify their emotions and communicate them when necessary. Stronger communication skills help them form stronger relationships with others and develop skills in empathy.

Action for Healthy Kids

Calming Corner Seating Choice

First things first, seating. You could obviously choose a regular chair if that’s what you have on hand. I think a calming corner needs something soft and cushioning. I opted to knock out three birds with this one stone. We had stuffed animals galore and were running out of space, so it was a perfect time to use a Pinterest pin I’d saved long ago. I used Googie Momma’s via Thread Riding Hood pattern for a stuffed animal chair. I’m a true lover of budget-friendly projects, so I chose to use material from some curtains I’d made for our previous house. (This is exactly why I find it so hard to get rid of anything, you never know when you might come up with a way to repurpose it.)

I was able to dive into my creative mental space (check out Crafting my Mental Health Regimen), make a stuffed animal storage space saver, and a chair for the calming corner all in one go! I couldn’t believe how many stuffed animals this chair housed. Such a win!

Other DIY Options

Here are some other easy DIY Bean bag chairs to try: 

DIY: Sew a Kids Bean Bag Chair in 30 Minutes

DIY Bean Bag Chair

Child Size Bean Bag Chair -DIY Video Tutorial

Curtain to Limit Stimulation

I happened to have a bed curtain, so I used it as the curtain for this space. I considered making one (of course), but my daughter said she liked this see-through one.

There are other ways to make a private space. Here’s one from She Builds Her Home using a curved shower curtain rod.

Stocking Your Calming Corner

A calming corner isn’t much of a space with out something to distract them from the emotional overload. Thankfully, with all the recent trends, we had a good stock of fidgets, squishies, spinners, etc. to stock her little shelf of distractions. She also put a whiteboard and marker for drawing. Check out Mindful Amazing for some great printables to stock in the calming corner. A weighted blanket or weighted stuffed animal would be a great add as well. How about some simple craft kits?! 

We didn’t go much beyond that but depending on the child, you might consider all the other senses. Noise-canceling headphones or a soothing sound machine for the child who tends to overload on auditory stimulation. A visual distraction, like a light machine or glitter bottle, would be another great option. For olfactory, an oil diffuser or scented lotions would work. There are really so many possibilities. To garner buy-in from a resistant child, let them decide what to put there.

Creating the calming corner together doesn’t mean they are automatically going to choose to go there when it becomes necessary, so be prepared to reinforce using it when needed. My hulk was super resistant when using the corner was necessary. Take one tantrum at a time to stay sane. 

For more resources on self-regulation, check out Child Mind Institute’s “How Can We Help Kids with Self-Regulation?

Budget-Friendly DIY Monster Book of Monsters from Harry Potter

My oldest daughter and I were super excited to do a Harry Potter themed birthday party for her 11th birthday. As I started on the plans, I knew I wanted a Monster Book of Monsters to be apart of it. From there, it was only a matter of finding the supplies and finding time.

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” Albus

Materials:

  • Wooden Box
  • Fur
  • Eye Balls
  • Clay
  • Paint and Brushes
  • Craft Glue
  • Hot glue and glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Paper and Printer
  • Mod Podge

Ready, Set, Go

I found a perfect wooden flip lid box at Michaels. I’m not sure if they still have this one, so here’s a different wooden book box that is currently available there.

monster book

I used light brown, red, and white clay for the fangs, teeth, tongue, and gums. First, the teeth were constructed into points. After flattening the red into a strip, I positioned the teeth to lie on the red strip. I layered the back with another red strip before pushing the red down around the teeth to show the ‘root’. The only thing you need to be careful of is not touching the white after touching the red. The picture shows that I did a bit of that. The fangs were super easy. Roll them to be smaller on one end and then curve them and presto!

Monster Book teeth

After baking the clay parts, it’s time to kick them up a notch with some paint to add dimension. I painted a bit of dark red and black onto the gums and tongue. Yellowish-brown served to give the teeth a gnarled look. Next, I painted the box with tan and dark brown to give it the look of pages as well as I could. Given that much of it is covered, I didn’t feel like I needed to give it much attention.

monster book pages

Monster Book Fur Cover

For the cover, I used two fur pieces I happened to find on clearance at Michaels. Crafting doesn’t get much easier than this step. Here it comes; glue the fur to the wood. Then….wait for it to dry. After that, I trimmed the length of the fur, because it was definitely too much. I also cut the perimeter into points and extra shagginess. 

 Those Eyes are Looking at You

Now onto the eyes. I also got the eyeballs at Michaels, but you’re not likely to find them in a store if it’s not around Halloween. I honestly wasn’t sure what to do with creating the eye mount. I thought about using oven-bake clay but was afraid it would melt the eyes. I went with a mountain of hot glue instead. After I piled it up, I painted it brown. I didn’t have enough red eyes, so I also painted the irises red. 

Monster book eyes

The book label was created in Microsoft Word and printed on computer paper. I trimmed the fur shorter in the spots where I was going to put the label before gluing the labels down. I put Mod Podge on the label to stiffen the paper. 

From there, it was just a matter of gluing on the fangs, teeth and tongue. I used hot glue initially, which worked just fine. Over time, the fangs have gotten knocked off a few times, so I’ve recently used super glue to get them to hold. As my girls would say, this DIY Monster Book of Monsters is easy peezy lemon squeezy. 

Spot light monster book of Monsters
Monster Book and wands
Finished Monster Book

If you’re looking for other Harry Potter crafts, try some apothecary bottles for Potions class or get some Harry Potter Party Ideas from my party post.

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