Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thankfulness Wreath

For once, this idea didn't come from Pinterest!  I actually found it in a magazine, although whether it was Family Fun or Family Circle I'm not sure just now.
Thankfulness Wreath

It's as simple as pie:
1. Obtain a wreath form.  The article suggested a Styrofoam one which you would then wrap with fall-themed fabric.  I opted for a straw wreath (about $3 at JoAnn's) which I wrapped in wide brown ribbon and decorated with a few oddments I found in my decorations box.
2. Cut out a bunch of simple leaf shapes from sturdy cardstock in several fall colors.  (I lucked out and found 12x12 sheets on sale for $0.20/ea instead of $0.69!)  Make a virtue of necessity: you're going to want to fold the paper in half when you cut to get a symmetrical shape. This actually gives the finished leaf a nice 3D look!
3. Set them out with some good pens and have everyone at your Thanksgiving gathering fill a few out with something they're thankful for.  Then pin to the wreath with a sturdy quilting pin.
We got a lot more participation after this photo was taken and our wreath was quite well filled out by the end of the party.  I plan to make this a tradition - hopefully we'll be able to take a few minutes each year to review what we were thankful for *last* year!
My aunt also suggested that it might be fun to decorate the wreath and leaves in Christmas colors so you could have a decoration that you want to leave out all season long.

A "Pin Win:" Magnetic Message Boards and Play Centers

Today I'm featuring a "Pin Win:" an idea found on Pinterest that actually worked just as well as advertised, if not better.
If you've been on Pinterest long, you've probably seen this pin around: a creative mom without a magnetic refrigerator used a large pan intended to catch oil drips under a car as a quick-n-dirty substitute.
Well, we Do have a magnetic refrigerator, but I resist putting much on it at the kids' level because (a) the 3-year-old always manages to hang his artwork in such a way that it falls off when you open the door, and (b) the 2-year-old just pulls off everything she can reach, leaving it all over the kitchen floor.  Also, we needed a Family Information Center, but we're really short on wall space in our main living area.  So, I headed to Wal-Mart and bought two of these in the automotive section.  They were roughly $12 each, and even bigger than anticipated at roughly 4 ft by 2 ft! (By the way, I looked around on Amazon and found nothing else nearly as appropriate to the task, let alone in the same price range. Unfortunately, if you don't live near a Wal-Mart, you may be out of luck since they don't sell them online.)

Family Information Center
As the original blogger mentions, they did have an oily coating for some reason.  I just propped 'em in the driveway, sprayed them with soap, and rinsed with the hose.  Then I asked my dad to drill some holes in the corners for hanging.  He assures me that any basic battery-operated drill and bit could do this, but he did start by using a center-punch to put a divot where we wanted each hole, making it less likely for the bit to slip during drilling.

The first pan I mounted on the door heading out to the garage, which is nice and central to our living space. Dad put a couple of very short screws in the top holes, attached them with nuts on the back, and added a washer in between.  This made an easy place to attach wire, picture-frame style, from one edge to the other. Left to my own devices, I would probably have tied ribbon or wire all the way through the holes and around the outer edge of the pan, but his solution is neater.
I then hung the wire over one of those robe/coat hangers that slip over the top of a door.  A wreath hanger might also work, although once you have stuff on your pan it'll be rather heavier than your average wreath.
I ended up putting a loop or two of duct tape behind the pan to stop it from swinging and rattling every time the door is opened and closed.  Eventually I may give in and mount it with four small wood-screws just to give it a little more stability - but it hasn't fallen yet.
The bottom half of the board is accessible to the little ones, and the 3-year-old especially enjoys hanging his artwork on it.

Yes, the pan has some very unfortunate large, raised lettering on it, proclaiming to all that it is, indeed, an "Auto Trends Products Drip Pan."  I considered painting it - for about 3 seconds.  I don't like painting, and since the lettering is raised, it would not cover anyway.  Instead, I hung my calendar over it.  See, you can't even tell it's there!

The second pan I made into a gift for my 2-year-old on her birthday, and mounted lengthwise on her bedroom wall about a foot off the ground.   This time I used a couple of those "As Seen On TV" Hercules Hooks meant for heavy-duty picture hanging.  Bonus: no stud required, and only a small hole in the wall!
Again, I first considered painting it, but immediately decided against it.  I then considered lining it with butcher or scrapbook paper to make a play scene, and while I haven't discarded this idea, I am going to wait a year or three until she's (a) more interested in that sort of play, and (b) less likely to just pick at and rip off anything she can get her fingers under.
So for now, I just gave her a box of nice Melissa & Doug animal magnets to go with it, and she had a blast.

As our family grows I expect our use of these boards will grow and change as well.  When we begin homeschooling in earnest I can imagine one or two of them in our classroom both to display completed work and for changing "theme" boards.

All in all, a thorough "Pin Win" for us!