Showing posts with label Crafts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Crafts. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Crochet Plaid Blanket Pattern Reviewed

A Perfect Gift For His Man Cave

Crochet A Blanket For Him Image courtesy of
Today, I'll be reviewing a crochet plaid blanket pattern that I plan to make for my son-in-law for Christmas. As I write this it is the 4th of July but now is the time to plan for making things like this to be sure that it is, in fact, finished before Christmas morning arrives.

I found this wonderful pattern at It is called the Buffalo Plaid Afghan and it is free to download and print. Actually, on the page it not only lets you get the pattern but you can purchase your yarn there, too; if you so desire. 

The pattern was created to celebrate the 150th birthday of our friends to the north, Canada. That is pretty neat in and of itself. What caught my eye was the manliness of the design. It is sometimes difficult to find things that we crocheters can do for the men in our lives. Oh, sure, we can do a scarf or a hat. We can hook up a pair of socks for them and we can even do other blankets. The options for a blanket are usually just picking a color scheme that might appeal to a guy, though. In my opinion a plaid blanket is perfect for a man. 

I've mentioned in other articles that I like to visit Mikey at The Crochet Crowd and watch his tutorials. Well, he has a tutorial on the blanket I want to make using this pattern!

The pattern and the video recommend that you use blanket yarn which is a thicker option of yarn. It is kind of bulky and works up pretty fast. You can choose any color combination that you want; it doesn't have to be in the red and black. Personally, I do not care to work with the bulkier yarns so when I start the one that I will make, I plan to substitute the yarn for a standard 4 ply yarn and use a smaller hook than is recommended in the pattern. That is the fun thing about crochet, you can usually adapt a pattern to suit your own tastes.

As you can see by the video this crochet plaid blanket will work up pretty quickly. It is just a matter of creating the mesh work and then doing the overlay crochet to finish it off. I love this pattern and I think that my son-in-law will love the blanket when I give it to him. If time allows, I may do one for my hubby, too.

For some additional ideas for things to create in crochet for the men in your lives, you might enjoy this set of patterns.

I know it is only July but if you plan to craft some gifts for the holidays; it is time to look for the patterns, get your supplies and start working on them. I love making things for gifts for my family. How about you? Do you craft items for gifts?

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Complete Guide to Needlework by Reader's Digest Reviewed

Complete Guide to Needlework Reviewed on Review This!
I have a very extensive craft library in my craft room, but there are a few books that stand out as the very best.  The Complete Guide to Needlework by Reader's Digest is by far the very best craft reference book I own.  I refer to it more often than any other book in my library.

Actually, I use the book for reference, but anyone who wanted to learn basic techniques in embroidery, smocking, quilting, needlepoint, knitting, crochet, tatting, or just about any other needlework technique, will find excellent "how-to" guides for beginners in this book.

Complete Guide to Needlework by Reader's Digest

 Reader's Digest COMPLETE GUIDE TO NEEDLEWORKI know this book was published in 1979, but it is far from outdated.  Basic needlework techniques don't change with time.  As a matter of fact, we need these types of instructional books to ensure the techniques won't be lost in time.

Because I enjoy all of these crafts, I tend to set one aside for a while and pick up another.  Eventually, I go back to the first one and I need to refresh my memory on certain stitches or even reading a pattern.  I pull this book off the shelf, look it up and, voilà, I am ready to stitch again! 

For example, I recently came across "featherstitch" in an embroidery pattern.  I sat staring into space as if the vision of how to make that stitch would miraculously appear before my eyes.  It only "miraculously appeared" when I pulled my Complete Guide to Needlework down and looked it up.  On page 214, I found exactly what I needed.  A verbal description as well as excellent illustrations.  

I have also found that I tend to forget certain crochet pattern abbreviations if I have not used them in a while.  For those of you who crochet, you will laugh when I tell you I recently had to look up what "dec" meant on a pattern.  Yes, I was embarrassed when my trusty book gave me the answer, but amazingly, the pages didn't laugh at me.  Another crocheter would have laughed with reckless abandon.

Patterns in Complete Guide to Needlework

Complete Guide to Needlework Book Reviewed on Review This!
There are also some wonderful patterns in the Complete Guide to Needlework by Reader's Digest.  I tend to forget that those are there.  While flipping through the book today, I came across this awesome pattern for a baby quilt appliqued with baby animals.  The pattern includes the drawn animals and gives the instructions on how to enlarge the animals on a grid.  I love the detail!  It is so wonderful to have a step by step tutorial with the pattern.  

This particular pattern uses several needlework techniques to complete the baby quilt as shown.  Applique, quilting and embroidery are all a part of this fabulous piece, but you could make the quilt based on your own skill level.  Leave off the quilting and the embroidery to simplify it.  It would be an excellent way to learn how to enlarge the pattern with a grid and make a lovely applique baby quilt that would be forever treasured.

There are patterns for many of the needlework techniques.  It truly is a "complete" guide to needlework!

Read More Book Reviews at

Complete Guide to Needlework by Reader's Digest Book Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Bird in the Hand-i-Craft

Bluebird Plush Toy in Crochet
 A review of crafty toy birds.

This week in April brought us National Audubon Day (April 26), which reminded me I wanted to show off some of the bird handicrafts I have come across in my crafting journey. 

Whether crafty birds are carved out of wood as toys, room decor or jewelry, knitted or crocheted as cute plush animals, or sewn into soft pillow toys, they all make adorable toys for children to play with or teens or college kids to use to decorate their room. Birds appeal to many people and the choices in hand-crafted items are truly unique. 

Wooden Seagull Ornament

Wooden Seagull Ornament
Hand cut out of maple using a scroll saw, this seagull coastal scene ornament is sanded smooth and finished with Danish penetrating oil. A cabled cotton cord is included to hang the ornament.  Ornament size is 3" diameter by 1/4 inch thick. 

Seagull wooden ornament is handmade by Susan in Missouri and available in her Etsy Shop Ooh Look It's a Rabbit.

Bird (Owl) Lanyard

owl lanyard
Hand-crafted Owl Lanyard
Both a useful and a decorative item, lanyards for I.D. badges or keys come in very handy. For bird fanciers, this owl fabric lanyard from Kathie of CutePurseNalities on Etsy is handmade using 100% cotton fabric and a silver swivel clip. 

The fabric has adorable little owls in green, brown, orange, red, yellow and blue on a white background.



Amigurumi Bird Stuffed Toy


Amigurumi Animal Plush Bluebird on Etsy
Cute & cuddly, this roly-poly bluebird is handmade in royal blue and white acrylic yarn. The beak and feet are orange and bluebird has red tuffs on top of his head.

Bluebird's eyes are plastic craft eyes and he is filled with soft new polyester fiberfill. Little bird measures approximately 4 x 4 inches. He's a cute round roly-poly animal just the right size for little hands to hold. 

Plush bluebird toy can be found in the Etsy shop of Coastal Crochet Crafts.



Hand-Sewn Hummingbird Softie


Hummingbird Hand-Sewn Soft Toy

This Hummingbird is great for playing or decorating your child's room. Wonderful for Baby as a first toy or for a child to play with. It makes a great gift for a Baby Shower!

I love Hummingbirds they are fun to watch - so busy ... so cute and colorful. I always wanted to hold one ... and now you can too ;-).  Hummingbird plushie measures 8 x 4 x 2.5 inches (across wings the measurement is 12 inches).

You can find this delightful hummingbird hand-sewn toy in the Etsy shop of RB Query of California. 

For other craft items and ideas, check out the reviews at

Related Links:


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Crochet Baby Blanket Pattern Reviewed

Modern Baby Blanket To Crochet

Napping baby image from
I recently crocheted a project using a crochet baby blanket pattern from Yarnspirations. It was so much fun that I thought reviewing it for you here today would also be a great idea. 

What I loved about this pattern was that it had a more contemporary look to it and a little whimsy, too. You see the blanket is mostly a solid color with the words #NAPS centered in the middle of the blanket. These types of blankets are often referred to as "graphghans". 

I think most will appreciate that the pattern is so versatile and you have the option of doing it in any color combination that you choose to. As you will see in the video tutorial the pattern is shown in black and white which could be used for either gender of baby. I opted for a pretty princess pink yarn and did the wording in a lime green. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of the completed blanket before I gave it to a new Mom as a gift. 

The video gives good instructions for making the blanket and was quite helpful to watch before I began my little project. You might find it helpful to visit the Crochet Crowd page that shows both the tutorial for the blanket and a very good tutorial on doing graph work with the tapestry technique. You can find that page here.

Not only did I think this crochet baby blanket pattern was cute but I also had never used the tapestry technique before. So, this was a learning process for me. It was really simple to do and honestly did not take much time. I found it useful to sit at a table when I came to the area where I needed to work the graph for the letters. I could put the graph on the table and mark off the rows as I crocheted.

It turned out so adorable and it inspired me to create my own graph for a blanket for the holidays. I will show you the completed project when I am finished. Instead of the #NAPS for a baby, I created a graph with the words #SANTA. I will be doing it in a pretty Christmas Red with white lettering.

Even though I have been crocheting for many years, it is always fun to try something new. I think if you love to crochet that you will enjoy working with this pattern. If you do not know how to crochet and really do not want to learn, you could probably find a friend who could make the blanket for you. 

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Easy Crochet Critters Pattern Book Review

Easy Crochet Critters Pattern Booklet

Vanna's Choice: "Easy Crochet Critters" is a crochet pattern booklet from Lion Brand Yarn. It is part of the Leisure Arts Little Books series.

Easy Crochet Critters has patterns for ten (10) Amigurumi designs.  I have made each of the animals in this booklet; some of them several times.

Each critter can be crocheted with 4-ply worsted weight yarn using a size G crochet hook.  The pattern booklet lists the finished size of each animal, but this can vary depending upon the size of the crochet hook you decide to use (I often use an F hook) and whether your crochet style is looser or tighter.

Each animal is completed with fiberfill stuffing and safety craft eyes (or embroidered eyes, if desired).  Other features, such as nose and mouth are usually embroidered with a small amount of yarn.


Little Amigurumi Lion

Little Lion, pictured on the cover of this booklet, is a roly-poly ball of fun with his embroidered face and crocheted mane. He hardly ever roars and is usually a quiet playmate for a child. He measures a roly-poly 4 x 4 inches when finished and stuffed. 

The lion I crocheted from this booklet I named Luke.  Luke the Amigurumi Lion makes a perfect Roly-Poly Plush Pet!  Mine measures about 5" x 5" - as tall as he is wide - and is a plump 14" in diameter. 
Crochet Lion  on Etsy

He's perfect for fans of zoo and jungle animals and gets along well with other plush animals in the toybox! 


Little Amigurumi Giraffe

This Little Amigurumi Giraffe turns out so sweet with such a cute face. I made mine in yellow with orange spots.  The pattern for little giraffe states he stands 8 inches tall.  Mine came out a bit larger with the body 5 inches long, plus his little tail, and he stands 9" tall.

A Plush Toy Giraffe in Handmade Crochet
Jellyroll Giraffe on Etsy

I named my version of this little giraffe, Jellyroll. This handmade plush toy sweet little giraffe got his name from the fact that instead of 'shoots and leaves', his favorite food is a big plump Jellyroll. 

He also loves children and would prefer to live in a child's playroom instead of outside with all those tall giraffes since he's only about 9 inches tall (if you count the horns on top of his head).


Little Amigurumi Seal
Amigurumi Seal is quick to make with the head and body crocheted in one piece, then the flippers crocheted and added after.

Since this is a plush animal, it can be made in any color you desire. 

Baby Harp Seal on Etsy
I made this one in white to be a baby Harp Seal.  His finished size is about 7 inches from the top of his nose to the back flippers.

While Harp Seals can grow to over 5 feet long and weigh between 115 and 180 lbs.  This little crocheted replica is only 7 inches long and sits 5 inches high, weighing about 2 ounces . A much better size for a child to cuddle :)  Harp Seals have a white coat at birth to help them blend in with the ice and keep them safe.


Little Amigurumi Walrus
 Another sea animal in plush is this little walrus.  The walrus pictured in the book was crocheted in brown yarn.  When I lived on the California Central Coast, I saw a walrus with a mottled or speckled looking coat, so I made my current crocheted walrus using a brown & tan variegated yarn to represent this speckling look. 

I named my plush toy walrus Wendy, a wonderfully winsome Walrus who will wind her way into your heart. :)

Wendy Walrus is a soft yarn toy who measures 7 inches long and about 4 inches wide (not counting her flippers). She's filled with a soft new fiberfil. Wendy Walrus would love to have a cuddle and a hug from a child who loves sea animals.

Ready-Made Crochet Critters

The giraffe, lion, seal and walrus crocheted critters shown here are all handmade by me and are currently available in my Etsy Shop Coastal Crochet Crafts.

Many More Plush Animals to Crochet

In addition to the finished giraffe, lion, walrus and seal crocheted critters showing off for you here, this craft booklet also has patterns for a small elephant, an amigurumi hippo, a cute little monkey, a small alligator, a snowy owl and a plush penguin. 

 There are a total of ten (10) Amigurumi plush animal patterns available in this booklet Easy Crochet Critters!

The Easy Crochet Critters Pattern Book

Vanna's Choice: easy crochet CRITTERS

Besides the pattern instructions for all ten crocheted critters, the back of the booklet has general instructions for abbreviations used and hints and tips for finishing your creations.  Basic stitches and techniques are also included.

Published in 2009 for Lion Brand Yarn Company, this inexpensive little pattern booklet will give you many  hours of crochet pleasure and a whole menagerie of cute plush animals.

Where to Find Easy Crochet Critters:

Crochet Critters on Blogs:

Posts Featuring Some of These Crochet Critters

The little amigurumi giraffe and lion show off in my Plush Stuffed Animal Zoo blog article on my Etsy Blog Crochet Crafts and Cute Critters.

Two Seals and a WalrusTwo Seals and a Walrus
The cute amigurumi seal and his friend the plush walrus are featured in my blog post Two Seals and a Walrus ~ Plush Marine Animals in Crochet.

For more reviews of crochet crafts, check out Review This: Crafts.

*Easy Crochet Critters pattern booklet is Reviewed by Wednesday Elf

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Reviewing InkJoy Pens - Popular and Colorful Pens

The factors that make me loyal to certain brands of pens are: low-cost, high quality, and reliability. I'm not asking for much, am  I? I don't think I am and I've found that with the InkJoy retractable, ballpoint pens, all of those needs are met. Recently, I ran out of my own personal stash of pens at work the other day and I realized I should recommend these pens to others. I should spread the joy. InkJoy pens are my first choice of pens for work and personal writing. 

Highly Recommended - InkJoy Ballpoint Pens by Paper Mate 

There are many reasons I love these pens enough to buy my own for work, rather than use the free pens that work provides.  

Reliability - These pens work every single time I pick one up.  There's nothing worse than being in a meeting, or trying to write down a phone number when someone is speaking quickly, and have the pen not work at all, or work only after your hurridley scribble in order to get the ink flow moving again. Annoying!  

No Ink Blobs - I really, really, REALLY hate running my hand through an ink blob on the paper. Smeary ink and blobs are so frustrating.  My InkJoy pens have never left a blob.

InkJoy colors 20 count
Inexpensive - Each time I purchase a pack of InkJoy pens, I compare with the less expensive "stick" pens.  I'm a penny-pincher so I try to remember to compare costs.  The InkJoy pens are usually slightly more expensive than the stick pens. But not by much. The cost tends to even out as I throw away a few of the stick pens that blob or do not work well. Also, my purchase of InkJoy pens is more costly than the free pens the agency supplies to employees. But I'd rather pay a few dollars for the reliability.

Color choices - At work I am limited to black ink.  When I pay bills, I often rebel and use blue ink. But, when I write journal entries, notes in my day planner, and other personal items, I go for the InkJoy color pens.  It is so much fun to use the variety of colors.

Ballpoint or gel pens - I prefer the retractable, medium ballpoint pens. However, InkJoy also makes a gel pen variety that is very popular. I cannot keep the InkJoy gel pens in my office.

InkJoy black ballpoint

Many Uses for InkJoy Color Pens (ballpoint or gel pens)

  • addressing holiday or special occasion envelopes
  • creation of eye-catching and pretty invitations
  • letter writing
  • scrapbooking
  • journaling
  • drawing and doodling
  • making those to-do and grocery lists more fun
  • gifts for artists, children, people who journal, and so on
  • popular school store item and/or children's rewards
  • and so much more - take a peek at the very short video and just imagine what you could do

Related Links

Journals - Technology makes writing and recording things as easy as a tap of a key or a flip of a switch. But I love journaling. There is something that increases my creativity when I use the process of hand-writing. Read about Writing and Remembering the Old-Fashioned Way

Drawing and Coloring - Colored pencils are a fun and popular way to create and color. Our very own Heather has created her own line of high-quality colored pencils. If you are giving art supplies as gifts or are yourself artistic, check out Heather's introduction to Aurora Art Supplies

Poster-Sized Color - In the event you need BIG and bold colors, for posters and such, Sharpies are amazing. Sharpies come in marker-sized "fine point", "chisel tip", and "extra bold marker point". 
Colorful Sharpies for those large creations

introduction graphic design created by the author using FotoJet

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Reviewing A Crochet Poncho Pattern

Easy Pattern To Crochet Your Own Poncho

crochet poncho
Crochet Poncho a work in progress
As promised a few weeks back, I will review a crochet poncho pattern that I am currently working on for myself. You can see on the left the finished front panel of my colorful little addition to my wardrobe. 

Ponchos are trendy right now in the crochet world and this one is pretty easy to make. If you have ever done a granny square, you will master this pattern pretty quickly. There are only two rows to learn and then it is just a repetition of them until you have the desired length. 

I found this crochet poncho pattern while reading a post from Mikey at The Crochet Crowd and decided that I would give it a try. I love ponchos and since I seem to always be cold I thought it would be nice to have one that I can just wear around the house to keep my shoulders warm. I used some spare yarn that I had in my stash to create something that would go with many of my tops. I can wear it at home or I can wear it when I go out to do errands. 

The fun thing about this easy to crochet pattern is that it is so versatile. The original pattern shows it using just one color of yarn. I decided to get creative and use 7 colors. Mikey in his video tutorial used a variegated yarn. The same pattern looks totally different when you work with your own creativity.  

If you have been thinking that you would like to add a poncho to your wardrobe and want something unique that can't be found in stores, I recommend trying this easy to crochet poncho pattern as an option. It really does not take very long to stitch up! One would even be a nice gift for someone you love or they are nice to hook-up and donate to a local shelter. 

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Halloween Countdown Calendar Reviews

A countdown calendar will help put the "How many days 'til Halloween?" question to rest. Here are three Halloween countdown calendars that you can make yourself.

October is a long month and with Halloween coming at the very end, it can seem like forever to a child who can't wait to wear his new costume and go trick or treating around the neighborhood.

A Halloween countdown calendar will help put the "How many days 'til Halloween?" question to rest. Here are three easy Halloween countdown calendars that you can make yourself.

Downloadable Halloween Countdown Calendar | | AbilityPoweredDesign on Etsy
AbilityPoweredDesign on Etsy

Downloadable Halloween Countdown Calendar

Since I'm sure I'm not the only one who puts off projects until the last minute, I'm going to start with this one. It's super-quick and easy to make for as little as three dollars if you have a spare picture frame on hand.

Simply purchase this Halloween Countdown Calendar download, print it out immediately, put it in an 8 x 10-inch frame and you're ready to start counting down the days 'til Halloween. Each day, use a dry erase marker (available at the link or at your local discount store) to write the number on the glass. Next day, wipe off the number and update. Hooray, you're one day closer to trick-or-treat!

I've personally purchased many downloadable files from Etsy and just love the ease and convenience. This is a great project, simple and fun. I think this would make a cute gift for a teacher, neighbor, relative, or friend, too. Choose a pretty black, orange, or gold frame, include a new marker with the gift, and voila! I know I'd be impressed if someone made one of these for me. Oh, and if you like the idea but would prefer another design, you'll find many more choices in AbilityPoweredDesign's Etsy store.

No Tricks! Halloween Countdown Calendar With Treats

No Tricks! Halloween Countdown Calendar With Treats | |
This next project is from the Oh Happy Day blog and I think it's adorable. It takes more time to make, but it's actually quite simple, the supplies are easy to find, and the end result is quite impressive and makes a beautiful, seasonal display. What's more, you'll be able to add little candies or stickers to the adorable cupcake-cup witch's hats to add even more fun each morning when your child counts down one more day.

Chiara, who wrote the post, includes complete directions and awesome photos to help make this project really easy. I hope you'll leave a comment on her blog if you like this project.

DIY Halloween Countdown Calendar With Printable Numbers

DIY Halloween Countdown Calendar With Printable Numbers | | DIY Network
DIYNetwork Blog
Next we have a Halloween countdown calendar project from the DIY Network blog. This is another countdown calendar that will take a bit of time to put together, but it's a simple craft that even a beginner can handle.

I love the popular chevron-patterned gift bags and the printable letters and numbers, all in seasonal black, orange, and white. (Note: I can see this project being carried over to other holidays, using other colors, can't you? Love it!)

The project calls for either a bulletin board, as shown, or a foam board. The supplies are inexpensive, the instructions are complete, and the final product is adorable.

So there you have it, three easy DIY Halloween Countdown Calendar projects. I hope one or all appeal to you. Which one do you like best? If you make and use one of these, I'd love it you come back to let me know. Have a happy Halloween!


Click Here to Read More Halloween Reviews From Our Review This! Team

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Reviewing A Crochet Pumpkin Pattern

Crochet your own pumpkin for Fall

crochet pumpkin
Crocheted Pumpkins
As I write this review of a fun crochet pumpkin pattern, we are officially into the fall season here in my neck of the woods. I found this pattern last year about this time and decided having some decorations that I made myself would be a fun way to celebrate autumn in my dining room. 

The advantage to crocheting a pumpkin is that it works for fall, Halloween and even into Thanksgiving. As you can see by the photo at the left, I have the crochet pumpkins that I made last year in a display with real pumpkins and a few acorns. For right now, the display is for Halloween. Once we move into November, I will take out the real pumpkins and add some dried corn, maybe a gourd and some pine cones from my back yard. The small amount of time that I invested into making the large pumpkin and the small one has turned out to serve me well for decorating for more than one holiday. 

I found the crochet pumpkin pattern on The Crochet Crowd website, last year. I often go to this site when I am looking for something fun to crochet either for myself or for gifts. Mikey, the owner of the site, often offers a tutorial with the patterns that he showcases and I find them very easy to follow. The video below was really easy to follow!

Video Tutorial For Crocheting A Large Pumpkin

The pattern was really easy to follow, especially after having watched Mikey in the tutorial video. I find that the videos are so handy because I can start and stop them as I progress through the crochet pattern.

You can pick the color of orange that you want for your crocheted pumpkin at your local craft store or online. You will need some brown for the stem (I used some scrap brown) and just a tiny bit of green for the curly little leaf. You will also need some stuffing for the inside. One thing that I found was that you do not want to be frugal with the stuffing. Put plenty of it inside your pumpkin or you might find that your finished crochet pumpkin is flat looking.

If you like to crochet and make decorative items for your home, you will enjoy making this pumpkin in the large size or any size for that matter. Mikey provides a video for large, medium and small. I love that my cute pumpkins don't have to be carved, won't turn bad and they are easily stored away until next fall when I am ready to use them again.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Review How To Draw Monsters Books for Kids

Drawing Monsters Can Be Fun And Educational!

Drawing monsters is fun and can be educational as well as encouraging a child to stay focused on a task simply because they love it.
Is your child one of those kids who can't seem to sit still for more than two minutes?

If you give him a picture to color does he speed through it, not caring what it looks like, so he can move on to something else?

Do you have to follow along behind him and finish his chores because he zipped through them so he could get that cookie you promised?

Those are the signs of someone who requires instant gratification.  Your child doesn't have time to focus on doing anything well, he doesn't care if he's giving it 100% effort, and he doesn't care what the results are when he's done.  He just wants to complete the task, grab his reward, and move on to the next bright, shiny object.

As an adult, you know your child needs to learn the value of seeing a project through from start to finish and he needs to learn what it feels like to be proud of his work.  But first you have to find a project that will hold his attention!

Every kid likes to draw and who doesn't love monsters!

Draw Manga Monsters!  (XTreme Art)

Recommended for Ages 7-9 yrs

 Draw Manga Monsters! (XTreme Art)Chris Hart is the master of the "How To Draw" books for kids and adults who want to learn how to draw everything from flowers to animals to... well, monsters!

His books are used by teachers to teach drawing in elementary school classrooms and even daycare center operators use them to teach shapes and basic drawing techniques to preschool kids.  His instructions are clear and easy to understand and even if your child isn't reading yet, he'll be able to follow along with the diagrams.

Draw Manga Monsters is a great book for beginners because it has step-by-step instructions, starting with the most basic, simple shapes.  Your child will learn how to turn circles and square and triangles into gruesome, scary or cute monsters.  

Drawing pictures is one of the best ways for you child to develop his fine motor skills - from learning how to handle a pencil to learning to gauge spacing, shape and depth.  And since every kid loves monsters, you know that while they're learning they're also having fun!

Books that Teach a Child to Draw

Books that teach your child how to draw allow him to use his imagination but they also teach him a few things while he's having fun:

 Draw 50 Beasties
  1. Accomplishment:  Drawing is always fun and your child gets to use his imagination.  In the end there's a sense of accomplishment when his monster actually looks like the one in the book.
  2. Creativity:  Your child will learn how to break drawings down into simple shapes and how to use his imagination to flesh out the monsters.  This skill might seem trivial now but it forms the basis of the problem solving skills he'll need later in life.
  3. Eye/Hand Coordination:  Following the guides in the book while he draws his own monsters will help develop your child's eye/hand coordination and improve his skill at recognizing spatial relationships.
  4. Following Instructions:  Who would have thought that something as easy as drawing monsters would teach your child how to follow instructions?  Do you know how many adults are out there who can't pass a test because they can't follow a simple instruction like "Print your name here"? 

How to Draw 101 Monsters: Easy Step-by-step Drawing

Recommended for Ages 5 and up

 How to Draw 101 Monsters: Easy Step-by-step Drawing (How to draw)Dan Green has been a rock star, a newspaper editor and a motorcycle rider, but he has also written humor books and comic strips for Horrible Histories and Horrible Science, which makes him pretty good at drawing cartoon characters.  Especially monsters!

His "How To Draw 101..." books cover all kinds of fun topics - animals, monsters, manga, chibis, fairies, cars, funny people and cartoon characters.   

Don't buy this book for your child!   You'll get addicted! Before you know it you AND your kids will be so busy drawing monsters you'll forget all about the laundry and the housework and the TV show you watch every Tuesday night and...  Yeah!  You get the picture.  This whole series of books is fun for anyone that enjoys drawing.  Even if you can't draw!


 Colored Pencils For Coloring Pages, High Quality Coloring Pencils for Adults, Color Pencil Set For Coloring Books, Writing and Sketching, Set of 48 assorted versatile colors! By Aurora Art SuppliesTM

Drawing Is Fun And Educational
A lot of arts and crafts projects that your children enjoy require at least some adult supervision.  The drawback is you have to show them how to use scissors or how to glue things together.  Most of the time you have to read the directions first and break it down into terms your child can understand.

Drawing is different.  There is no right or wrong way to draw a picture and the only equipment involved is a pencil and a piece of paper.  No matter what the monster looks like when your child gets done it's going to be unique and creative because it comes from his own imagination.

Here are a Few More Favorites in the World of Monster Drawing Books Available

Review How To Draw Monsters Books for Kids written by:
House of Sylvestermouse

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Monday, May 16, 2016

The Best Air Freshener for People with Sensitivities

I have had to think a lot about air fresheners.  At work I share a small office area with three other offices and a public bathroom.  The space is a confined area in an old building. The windows are painted closed and there is no bathroom vent.  So, you can imagine why I've been thinking a lot about air fresheners lately. I want to avoid as many chemicals as possible but remove as many odors as possible. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that two of us have chemical sensitivities. Even in light of all of this, I have found the perfect air freshening solution.

New-to-Me DIY Natural Air Freshener

I get severe migraines that are often triggered by chemicals and scents. My office mate has asthma that is easily triggered. We are finding that we are triggered by opposite things. For example, original Lysol, in small amounts, doesn't trigger my migraine but causes breathing problems for her.  She can tolerate one of the other scented sprays (I can't recall the brand) but it triggers a migraine for me. As I mentioned, due to the layout of our office area, we both are adamant that an air freshener is mandatory. We are just having trouble finding something that suits us both.

As I move toward more natural cleaning supplies in my home, it was automatic to do some research about natural air freshening solutions.  I am always one step behind the times, so you probably have already heard of using baking soda and essential oil as a natural room freshener, but this was new news to me.  And I'm thrilled.

I immediately got a small glass container at work and a glass jar at home.  I purchased peppermint essential oil and made my own room freshener in a matter of moments. So far, so good. No migraine and no asthma attack for my friend at work. 

This natural and effective solution is amazingly quick, easy, and inexpensive to make.

my simple baking soda and peppermint air freshener
The items needed:

  • baking soda
  • essential oil (scent of your choice)
  • a jar
  • decorating supplies (completely optional)

The how to:

Pour some baking soda into the jar.  I used a couple of tablespoons. Some folks fill the jar halfway.  

Sprinkle a few drops of essential oil onto the baking soda. Stir or shake.

If using a lid (mason jar, paper, or cloth lid) place the lid onto the jar.  I am using a lid only if I want to interrupt the air freshening. Otherwise, I do not place the lid on the jar.

Essential Oil Reviews

Years ago, I had a friend who taught me a very small bit about essential oils. She used peppermint oil on me when I had migraines (she is a masseuse). So I knew that I'd be okay with peppermint oil and that is what I purchased locally for my first attempt at making my baking soda and essential oil room freshener.  

In the meantime, I am studying about different brands of essential oils. Peppermint oil is not my first choice for a room freshener.  I will switch over to a floral or citrus oil.  

I have found a detailed review and essential oil comparison that has been very helpful in narrowing down the brands I'd like to purchase. Now, the only problem that remains for me is narrowing down which scents to purchase. There are so many wonderful scents to choose from. 

Essential Oils from Plant Guru

CAUTION: There are children who have been poisoned when they have ingested essential oils or have been over-exposed via direct contact with essential oils.  Please read about the dangers of essential oils and children and keep your essential oils out of the reach of children. 

Related Links:

Tidy Mom shows us how she uses spray paint and scrapbook paper to make pretty jars to hold her baking soda and essential oil air freshener.  Such an easy and good looking project - I wish I had thought of it. 

Homemade Gifts Made Easy explains a few ways to dry lavender.  If I am successful with growing lavender I will dry some in order to make a lavender, lavender essential oil, and baking soda air freshener. 

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