Toddler Collage Art + Strawberry Graham Yogurt Pops

Greta and I have both been busy working on collages lately.  Greta has watched me make collages countless times and I haven’t yet thought to have her make her own at home.  I know she’s made them at school, but she blew me away with her collage skills.  Little collage artist in training, I tell ya!
This particular collage was my favorite one that she made yesterday.  It was the third one in a series of four that we completed in the morning before nap time.  She was tickled at the way the holes would allow colors beneath to show through.  She quickly learned that the glue had to go on the edges and so had to slide her papers around in order to move the glue.
The large glue bottle was perfect for her little hands.  We practiced squeezing the glue out onto the paper while the bottle was just above the paper.  She enjoyed slowly squeezing out the glue and watching it pool, as it was pooling she would ask me, “Good, Mommy?” to check on the amount of her glue.  Only a couple times did I say, “Ok that’s good,” most of the time she figured out the amount of glue on her own.

Next, Greta placed her cut papers onto the glue dots.  I enjoyed watching her choose papers based on color, size, and shape.

I used the color issue of In Style magazine for all of her shapes.  Fashion magazines make the best collage magazines due to their textures, variety of color, and size of colors.  The first collage she made was full of random shapes.  For her second one, she decided she wanted mostly circles.

This is her mostly circle collage.  As she got more used to making collages, she began to request particular colors, sizes, and shapes.  Her most frequently requested were yellow circles.  As I flipped through the magazine, she would ask me to cut out certain items she liked – such as the eye.  Her final collage used overlapping pieces with small areas cut out of the middle, this is at the top of this post.

Greta has plastic scissors and we are working on her cutting technique, but in the meantime, this mommy daughter collage collaboration is a fun way to spend a morning.

We spent part of our morning on Friday making yogurt pops.  Greta helped me layer strawberry yogurt, crumbled graham crackers, and chocolate syrup to make these delicious freezer pops.  Frozen desserts are a good way to practice patience for little kitchen helpers!

Greta’s Butterfly Watercolor

Butterfly, watercolor on paper, 9×12″, 2014. 

This watercolor painting started off as a painting for another person having a baby.  Then, Greta discovered it and took it to her room so she could  hang it up.  She fell in love with it and said, “For my big girl room,” so many times that I caved and started another painting for the gift.  She is getting a big girl room soon, as we are moving her into the empty bedroom and turning her room into the nursery for her baby brother.  She is so excited for this change and this artwork just makes it all that more special for her.

 I started with taped off watercolor paper and a pencil sketch of a butterfly and flowers.

I used black India ink for all the black sections of the butterfly.  This way, I could use watercolor paint and watercolor pencils without fear of the black bleeding and smearing into the colors.

Lastly, I added color to the butterfly and flowers.  I used watercolor paints for the flowers and watercolor pencils for the wings of the butterfly.  My last step was to use gradations of a light blue-green for the background.

As always, prints and artwork are always for sale, please inquire by e-mail or through my Etsy shop, which is currently empty.  If you are interested in purchasing something you have seen on this blog, I will create a custom listing for you.  I also do custom commission pieces as well.  

Recycled Crayons {2014 Valentine’s Day Cards}

Greta and I recently raided my crayon stash for all the small nubs that are just too difficult to use for big and small hands alike.  These turned out so well – my next move is to raid the crayons in my classroom and make new crayons for my students to use.  No sense in throwing out useful crayons when re-purposed crayons are this easily attained.

I started with a fairly large bag of crayon nubs.  Make sure they are peeled and cut down to small chunks, especially if you are working with a funky mold.  I used a silicone mold that was originally intended to be used for ice cubes or candies.

 I grouped my crayons by warm, cool, and neutral colors.  Greta was especially helpful with the sorting – we had great conversations about the colors and where they belonged.  I used everyday craft scissors to cut some of the longer crayons down.

Once the mold is loaded up with crayons, bake in a preheated oven for 10 minutes at 325º.  I put my mold on a baking sheet to make the transfer of hot wax easier.  Allow the crayons to cool until completely hardened and set.  I put my hot crayons outside in this frigid Iowa weather and they were ready to be removed from the mold in no time.

Greta tested the finished crayons for me and was delighted – they were easy to hold, the O had a place for her finger, and best of all – she helped to make them.  

My last step was to create a simple Valentine for Greta to use at school.  I’ve been taking a class in the evenings on Adobe Illustrator – this was something I whipped up in the few minutes before class started last week.  I figured I would attach the crayons to the Valentine in a little bag.  If you want the PDF, check it out my Google Docs here.  The document is called valentine.PDF.

{Better Than} Best Pizza Crust Ever + Drawing App

Sometimes accidents are happy ones in the kitchen.  I was trying to make dinner the other night and Greta was in the process of melting down – I simply waited too long to start dinner for her sake.

I tried to make my favorite pizza crust, from memory.  Usually this isn’t so hard, but when your toddler is screaming, it doesn’t work as well.  This crust appears in the previous post, Best.Pizza.Crust.Ever for dinner and knew as soon as I started to mix, that something was wrong.  I decided to roll with it, modified a few things, and hoped for the best.  I guess there was always the option of a sandwich and a can of soup if this failed.

I realized I had doubled the water, so to compensate, I added more flour and some cornmeal.  It ended up being so sticky that I did not knead it, instead stirring thoroughly.  After rising (it filled the bowl!) I punched it down, coated my hands thoroughly in olive oil and spread it out on the cast iron pizza pan (works great on the grill, too!).  When I baked the pizza, I used the convection setting to ensure it was baked thoroughly.  
This crust turned out to be a fantastic deep pan-like crust that had a crispy exterior and a soft chewy interior.  Eric having not been around for the mess-up, didn’t know the entire story.  When he tried the pizza his first comment was, “Wow, did you make this?!”  He said it was by far the best crust ever made in our house, so I quickly grabbed a pencil and paper and wrote down my error.  

Greta wasn’t all grumps that night, she has been enjoying a new art app I got for my classroom – called Drawing with Carl.  There are tons of neat paintbrush shapes to use – including this interesting pixelated one.  There are roller brush patterns that turn into various patterns once drawn.  Stamps create dots, stars, ink splats, and more.  The icon with the red and green circle creates stickers of creatures, dinosaurs, facial features and more.  The free version is very good – the upgrade offers more stickers plus a watercolor brush and oil pastels.  I highly recommend this app for kids and adults alike.  Eric always muses that I seem to like Drawing with Carl more than Greta does.

Add dinosaurs is by far her favorite part of this app.  The dinosaurs and mammoth roar and make noises when added or moved around the screen.  There is a funny little red guy with a big mouth – he has a neat feature too, but I will let you figure that one out for yourself.

{Better than} Best.Pizza.Crust.Ever. – makes one 14 inch deep dish pizza

2 cups tepid water (105 degree water)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

2 tablespoons honey
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt 
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornmeal
1 packet active dry yeast
1. Mix flour and yeast in a bowl.
2. Mix warm water, olive oil, honey, and salt in a bowl or glass measuring cup.  
3.  Make a well in the dry ingredients.  Add liquid ingredients and mix well – 5 minutes.  

4.  Let rise in a warm spot for 45 minutes.  (Turning the oven on at 350 for one minute creates the perfect dough rising environment.)

6.  Punch down dough and let rest for 10 minutes.  In the meantime, preheat oven to 425 degrees, on convection setting and prepare pizza  pan with oil. 
7.  Coat hands in olive oil, remove dough and stretch into size on pizza pan.  
8.  Add tomato sauce to top of dough and bake on bottom shelf of oven at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes before adding other toppings.  This will ensure you do not get the doughy, uncooked center.  

9.  While your crust is baking, prepare toppings.  (For this pizza I used sliced fresh tomatoes, sliced fresh mushrooms, basil, minced garlic, and sliced spicy meatballs real or fake work fine).  
10. Bake pizza in 425 degree oven for about 12 – 15  more minutes or til done, on the lowest oven rack.

Baby Handprint Watercolor

I started this painting quite some time ago.  I won’t tell you how long I have been procrastinating finishing this, other than my daughter’s hands and feet are much bigger than they would have been had I finished it when I started it. 

I started by painting simple abstract design using patterns of shapes and lines – nothing too fancy about this watercolor.  I used watercolor paints for the background on a 140 lb cold press watercolor paper.

I added in some etching by scratching into the wet paper and then painting over it.  This creates areas of color much darker and more precisely defined because the pigment pools and dries in the etched lines.  This photo above shows the orange lines and yellow dots are etched. 
When the paint dried completely (over a much longer time than I had planned), we stamped her little hand and foot.  
I needed Eric’s help holding her still while I applied the paint.  I rolled black acrylic paint onto an old magazine (for a smooth surface) with a brayer, pressed her hand into the paint, and then pressed it onto the painting.  If you don’t have a brayer, you could also use a paint brush to smooth the paint surface out.  
She was so intrigued by the black stuff on her hand, she did not put up a struggle at all.  Make sure you have a wet rag or paper towels handy if you are going to paint your baby’s hands or feet!  
Now we just need to frame it and hang it somewhere where it will make me smile for years to come.