Archive for December, 2012

Crafting with the Grandkids

December 28, 2012

Crafting with Grandchildren

I’ve always been into arts and crafts. I had a pastel sketch pad at age eight. I wasn’t talented in getting down what I saw but I liked to try. When I was a young married in 1970 I made red, white and blue patterned curtains, painted the door ways those colors, and made most of my clothes. I had to, as I was tall and the fashion was for your pants to go over your shoes. Manufactured pants all looked like high waters on me. Then I got into crocheting:  scarves, hats, vests, afghans. When I had a daughter I sewed matching outfits for the newborn and me.

My good friend back then was also a crafter and made her living at it. So I began to make kits of my cross-stitch designs, applique quilts, and made baskets out of bread and shellacked them. You get the idea.

When my kids were little we made gifts and baked cookies. My sons were only marginally interested and quit making wreaths and gingerbread houses out of graham crackers when they were eight or so.

So now I have two granddaughters who love to craft. What a gift that is for me. Savannah is going to be two next month and Abby is six. This holiday season I started with peel and stick turkey kits I bought. The children just peel off the backing and find the place where the fabric goes on the turkey’s feathers etc. Savannah needed some direction while Abby could do it easily herself. I graduated to large clear plastic Christmas ornaments on which they pasted snowman scenes. Savannah used most of the foam stickers. Abby was going to protest but I told her when Savannah went to sleep, Abby could peel off the ones she wanted and stick them on her ornament and Savannah would be none the wiser. That worked.

I had gotten a project from Oriental Trading Company for Abby last year but she wasn’t interested. This year she loved it. It was putting together a foam penguin and affixing a thermometer on the front and a magnet on the back. Due to many divorces, these children have five set of grandparents. And Abby wanted to make one for her parents, her teacher, two of her uncles, and of course herself. I luxuriated in babysitting every Saturday night so we could finish the projects.


After all were completed, Abby needed to wrap them. I knew the traditional way wouldn’t work. Abby is something of a perfectionist and her wrapping skills wouldn’t match her ideal. I bought small white shopping bags, stamps, and ink pads at the craft store. She wrote each person’s name on the bag and “Love, Abby.” Then she stamped them in her uniquely artful way. That took another to Saturdays. I was heady with success.

Next we decorated cupcakes to look like reindeer. I picked up Abby at school. Donna and her grandkids came over as well as two friends and their children. Donna and I baked eighty chocolate cupcakes ahead of time. The kids and adults iced the cupcakes with chocolate icing and then decorated them with vanilla wafers for the muzzles, a milk dud for the nose (except Rudolph had half a hot tamale for his nose,) small marshmallows for the eyes with dots of black frosting for the pupils, and pretzels for the antlers. They came out really cute.













The last project was a gingerbread house. When my own girls were young I had attempted to bake the gingerbread. Of course the sides did not come out straight and the project was a disaster.  I learn from my mistakes and I bought a kit at the craft store with the gingerbread house already baked. It just had to be assembled. Abby and I opened the kit after Savannah went to sleep. Of course Abby started nibbling on the candy that was meant to decorate the roof. She squeezed the icing into the pastry bag. As I was trying to put it together, one of the sides fell on the floor. Koda, their chocolate lab, who believes any food on the floor is rightfully his, gobbled up a large piece. Abby started to cry.

I calmed her down by saying I would make a new side from cardboard and no one would know since it would be covered by icing. By this time Abby was bored with the project and engrossed in Barbie’s Swam Lake, yes, based on the ballet with dancing.

I could not get the icing to get hard. I got serious about the project and brought out the white school glue. I slathered those suckers and l leaned the sides on jars to keep the shape.

After a while I got brave enough to put on one side of the roof, Abby was ready for bed. I followed her rituals and she fell asleep right away. When my son and his wife returned I apologized for saddling them with the project and said it would be fine if they wanted to toss the whole thing out.

At ten the next morning I got a text from my daughter-in-law with a picture of the completed gingerbread house. She said she also used lot of glue.

gingerbread house

I complimented her on her engineering skills and vowed never to build a gingerbread house again.

Of course I never leave well enough alone. For next year I’m thinking about a log cabin made out of rod pretzels. I just have to figure out how to do the roof. . .