Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Grandma Let's Make Art Together


Staying true to my blog focus on Embracing Your Creative Side, I am so pleased that I was able to complete my first planned art project with my 4 year old grandson and it was SO easy.  Having projects planned in advance allows me to be ready and seize those precious opportunities when presented.  Today was just that kind of day.  With only a few supplies and a bundle of Q-tips as an awesome paintbrush I was able to make a memory.  Here he looks so proud of how the finished piece turned out.  I would say this grandma should get an A+ for effort.

Here is a list of the materials we used for this project:

* white card stock
* Apple Barrel Acrylic craft paint (4 colors- yellow, orange, bright green and cobalt blue)
* Blue Painters Tape
* 20 or so Q-Tip Swabs
* Paper plate to use as a paint palette

 First, I taped a plan piece of white card stock to a paper grocery bag but cardboard or poster board would even work better.  I just wanted a surface bigger than the 8.5 x 11 piece of card stock in case my little artist got carried away in his painting exuberance.  With preschoolers you can never take enough precautions.  Note that my little art student is wearing one of grandmas very bright orange t-shirt to protect his clothing and keep grandma out of hot water with mommy.  

Using the painters tape I also formed a large letter "N" in the center of the page.  I did use some scissors to straighten up the three sides of the letter and to make them even.

Our pallet was a sturdy paper plate in which I poured out a small amount of each of the colors of paint.  We made our Q-Tip brush by grouping together about 10 or so Q-Tips in a bundle and with another  piece of painters tape I secured them together.  With two bundles we were then able to apply all four colors because we were able to use both ends of the Q-Tip swabs.
With very little intervention on my part, My grandson was able to dip his Q-Tip brushes in the paint and cover all of the white areas of the paper with a fun dabbing motion.  Once the paint dried I removed the tape to reveal a very nice piece of art that could be framed or hung for his room.  With it being of his initial it really makes a timeless piece that he can appreciate for years to come.  

One problem I did encounter during this project was that the tape seemed to want to tear the paper a bit. I thought I wouldn't have this problem using the blue painters tape but I did.   I think that to improve on this project, next time I will use small stretched canvases.  I think that a canvas will give the piece a more art quality and less likely to get torn.  I can also apply a coat of varnish and a hanging wire so that they are ready for mom or dad to hang.

I actually am anticipating a visit here real soon with my 4 year old granddaughter and can't wait to include her in our painting fun.  My plan is to do a repeat of this project with both of them together.  I'm certain that there will be more blogging about that in the near future.

My main objective was to keep his sleeves out of the wet paint
He is having so much fun covering all the white area with the colorful paint

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Everyone Needs a Prowling Dog and a Covorting Cat

Original Dog and Cat before I got creative on them
Today, in Las Vegas, it seems to be raining chocolate cats and gingerbread dogs outside. True to being a long time Las Vegas residents, my husband and I went out gambling today...Not in the slot machine, poker sense but we did take our lives in our hands and brave a drive on the wet roads to go to Michaels for the sole purpose of buying this little plastic dalmatian dog.  Crazy I know, but I thought the rain had stopped when we left but of course it was only a small window like the eye of a hurricane and soon it was pouring around us.  It was at this point in our journey that we began to rethink our decision because we found ourselves sharing the roadway with so many others that didn't have the good sense to stay home.  I was thankful, almost as if we won the Mega Jackpot, when we successfully navigated the many accidents, flowing water, large puddles and crazies to make it safely home.  

The little dog is pretty cute as he is, but I will soon transformed into a one of a kind gingerbread dog with just a little paint.  I looked for a cat to no avail.  There was a nice selections of dragons, tigers and wolf pups, but there seemed to be no cats to choose from in the picked over bins that I could use to make his literary cohort.  I have no choice but to put into service this old Barbie doll pet cat that once belonged to either my daughter, my niece or some strange visitor that might have dropped her from his pocket as he visited our home.  Very soon I will paint her a lovely dark chocolate color.  
Chocolate Cat

Gingerbread Dog

Sugar Plum Tree

Now, In case you are not into 19th century American literature, I'm not speaking in code here, but making many bad references to the famous Eugene Field poem, "The Sugar Plum Tree". 

I know you are going to find this difficult to believe, but adding a little dog and cat to my Christmas decorations is something I have wanted to do for probably over 20 years but haven't accomplished it.  True to my desire to step up my grandma game and Embrace My Creative Self, I am not putting this off any longer.  After today, when my grandchildren come and gaze in awe at my beautiful gingerbread house they will see the complete scene laid out before them and my reading of this beloved treasure will now make complete sense. They will all LOVE poetry from that moment on and grow up to appreciate literature, classical music and paint like little Monets.   Okay this maybe just a wee bit over the top, but Grandmas these days have to stand on their heads,chew bubble gum and juggle 4 or 5 large kitchen knives at the same time to impress a 2 year old that can work your smart phone better than you can.  

I was given this Gingerbread House many, many years ago by a very dear friend.  It was immediately added to the high level of a Treasured Townsend Tradition.  I can't set up that tree and hang those beautiful glass candy pieces from the branches without reciting the well known children's poem written by Eugene Field in 1892- "The Sugar Plum Tree".  
My beautiful Gingerbread House decoration

Here is the entire decoration.  The detail in all the candy, cookies and little gingerbread people are something straight out of a child's dream.  We have enjoyed this piece year after year.  

I hope you enjoy this poem as much as I do.....  

    The Sugar-Plum Tree

      HAVE you ever heard of the Sugar-Plum Tree?
      'Tis a marvel of great renown!
      It blooms on the shore of the Lollypop Sea
      In the garden of Shut-Eye Town;
      The fruit that it bears is so wondrously sweet
      (As those who have tasted it say)
      That good little children have only to eat
      Of that fruit to be happy next day.
      When you've got to the tree, you would have a hard time
      To capture the fruit which I sing;
      The tree is so tall that no person could climb
      To the boughs where the sugar-plums swing!
      But up in that tree sits a chocolate cat,
      And a ginger bread dog prowls below-
      And this is the way you contrive to get at
      Those sugar-plums tempting you so:
      You say but the word to that gingerbread dog
      And he barks with such a terrible zest
      That the chocolate cat is at once all agog,
      As her swelling proportions attest.
      And the chocolate cat goes covorting around
      From this leafy limb unto that,
      And the sugar-plums tumble, of course, to the ground-
      Hurray for that chocolate cat!
      There are marshmallows, gumdrops, and peppermint canes
      With striping of scarlet and gold,
      And you carry away of the treasure that rains,
      As much as your apron can hold!
      So come, little child, cuddle closer to me
      In your dainty white nightcap and gown,
      And I'll rock you away to the Sugar-Plum Tree
      In the garden of Shut-Eye Town.
      Eugene Field

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Put a Pretzel Stick In It

I had a great time making these super easy but fancy gift for friends, family and neighbors on my shopping list.  Initially my plan was to make these with my small grandchildren, ages 4 & 2 but I really think that this turned out to be more of a longer process just due to the sheer number of pretzel rods I had to make.  I had a chance to do a run through with some smaller broken pieces of pretzel covered in chocolate flavored Almond Bark and colorful sprinkles.  They were very yummy and both Noah and Jenna were very happy.

Here is a list of items that you will need for this project:
Pretzel Rods- We purchased the Great Value brand from our Walmart Neighborhood Market.  Unfortunately there were a number of pretzel rods broken in each bag.  Maybe as many as half of them were broken into pieces.  I bought 4 bags initially so I had plenty of pretzels for my project but I wanted you to be away of that problem.
Toppings- I used several types of sprinkles
Almond Bark- Chocolate and Vanilla flavored
Wax Paper
Cookie Sheets
2 wide mouth mason jars
A large sauce pan to use as a double boiler
Holiday gift bags and ribbon

I started my process by laying out all my supplies and getting my toppings ready.  Once the chocolate or vanilla coating gets put than you want to move fast.  I had chocolate sprinkles, snowflake sprinkles and my grandchildren's very favorite rainbow sprinkles.  I also crushed up star mint candies but didn't actually wind up using them.  I guess they just sound better in my mind than their presentation upon completion.

I decided that a large mouth quart glass mason jar was the perfect thing for me to melt both flavors of almond bark in.  I filled a medium pan half full with water and place my clear jars in the water.  I turned the heat on and let the water begin to slowly melt the almond bark.  Meanwhile, I got out all my cookie sheets and lined them with wax paper.

When the almond bark was completely melted I began the process of coating all of the whole pretzel sticks.  There were a lot of broken rods in each back and that was a bit disappointing.  I would say the at least half of them were broken when we purchased them at the grocery store.  I still had plenty of pretzel rods to coat but I would never consider giving a broken one to anyone on my gift list.

The melted almond bark didn't come up as far as I wanted on the pretzel rod so I used a spoon to drip the candy coating up higher on the rod.  I left about 2 inches for me to grasp the pretzel rod but the rest of the stick had a good solid candy coating.

The covered pretzel rod was then quickly placed on the cookies sheet lined in wax paper.  I finished the try before I turned my attention to the sprinkles and such.  I tried to keep an equal number of vanilla and chocolate along with the different toppings.  I do think my favorite was to actually drizzle the almond bark over the opposite coating.  For example rods covered in chocolate flavored almond bark would be drizzled with a vanilla coating and visa versa.  Those I thought turned out the most elegant of all the ones I did.

Here is my finished product.  I have them bagged in holiday gift bags with six pretzel rods in each bag.  I really hope my neighbors and friends will be please to receive these as part of my Christmas gift to them.  What do you think?

Monday, December 19, 2016

Shake Off Those Cobwebs

For some of us that is easier said then done. Some days it seems there maybe no light at the end of this tunnel. I do know one thing, in my case I had better bring out the heavy duty industrial grade respirator and grab the full hazmat gear because those cobwebs have become tightly wound and are deeply entrenched in my being, making the creative process a difficult challenge for me.  I chalk it up to the almost 30 years of working a stressful accounting job full of doldrums, boring repetition and mental exhaustion.  This kind of work has pushed the creative brain function far into the dark corners of my mind until I have all but forgotten it even existed in the first place.

If you can relate, I have GOOD NEWS!  Just like starting an exercise program is slow going at first, the progress in your creative muscle is the same. With discipline and continued use, the creativeness that was there in your youth can once again be a part of your daily life.

I believe you just have to jump in all the way.  It is important for your health and well being to allow creativeness to have full reign in your life.  Creating relieves stress, brings balance to a cluttered mind, lifts your spirits, and enhances those relationships that are so important to us.  Our Heavenly Father has made us each creative in our own way and by letting that creativity flow can be a true avenue of worship.

Now I have always been artistic but never thought of myself to be very creative and I think there is a difference.  I might be able to grab a paint brush or a pencil and create a piece of art but when it comes to decorating my home or coming up with fun craft projects for my grandchildren, frankly, I stink!  

The purpose of me writing this blog is to help keep me focused  by documenting my creative process as I work out the best "Exercise" program for myself and any other creative weakling out there that want to join with me.  My house if far from a showcase for a home magazine spread.  I've never been that great at dealing with the clutter or the dust.

I'm hoping in the future to enlist the help of my adorable grandchildren, my amazing son's, daughter and beautiful daughter-in-laws in this journey.  Kind of a "TEAM TOWNSEND" effort if you would.  I welcome you to follow along with me on this journey that will be full of laughter, sweat and I'm sure a few tears.