Make Someone’s Day with Happy Mail

Over holidays, I received a package from DaySpring that contained some gifts that I had ordered and a little note that said the average person receives something like 12 pieces of personal mail per year. I’d double check the number, but the note was pitched in the holiday chaos. It was a really low number. DaySpring included a free card with the encouragement to be the 13th (or whatever came next) for someone.

Being that this is the time of year that I reflect on my goals and plans for the new year, I decided this was a great fit for me. I’m wanting to be more intentional about reaching out this year (among other things) and who doesn’t like to get a piece of mail that is personal, just for them and NOT a bill or junk?

I’d like to encourage you to do the same. Make a point to mail out a card or letter every week or so to someone you love. Packages are great and if you can do that, go for it! They can be a bit expensive to mail though so if you are like me, they tend to be far and few between mailings. A letter, card, or a postcard costs you roughly 50 cents.

Make someone's day with happy mail! Send a letter today!

Who should I send happy mail to?

Don’t know who you should mail or give a letter to? Here’s a list to get you thinking:

  • Family. Parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. They don’t even have to live far away, you can mail a letter next door!
  • Friends. You know those people you talk to on Facebook, through text, and other electronic means? Take a minute to write them a short personal note and drop it in the mail.
  • Co-Workers. Let them know how much you appreciate them.
  • Church Family. You see them on Sunday, let them know that you think about them through the week, too.
  • Kids. Your kids or someone else’s, it doesn’t matter. Kids LOVE getting mail.
  • Community Workers. Send notes of thanks to your police officers, firefighters, EMTs, pastors, and volunteers.
  • Military. You can find addresses through Any Soldier or send letters through Operation Gratitude.
  • Government Leaders. Yeah, those people making laws and generally on the receiving end of all kinds of nastiness? Be different. Be encouraging.

What do I say?

Don’t overthink this. If you aren’t comfortable writing your feelings out, find a card that says just what you want to say and add an “I love you” or “Though of you when I saw this” to the bottom.

Just remember that the point of this is to brighten someone’s day. If someone is going through a hard time, share an encouraging thought, prayer, or Bible verse. If someone recently celebrated something, celebrate with them and send them well wishes.

If you are writing a politician and you want to address something, be gracious. Be kind in your words. Be encouraging.

What do I send?

Currently in the United States, it costs 47 cents to mail a first class letter or card. It costs 34 cents to mail a postcard. Those are the cheapest options.

You don’t have to buy an expensive card, a letter requires a piece of paper, a pencil or pen, and your time. You can make cards with simple craft supplies (ahem, easy washi tape craft alert).

If you want to make it a little more special, choose a fun stamp from the USPS to dress up your envelope.

If you choose the postcard route, there are LOTS of options for you. You can pick up post cards in some restaurants, gift shops, and even on Amazon.

Will you join me in brightening someone’s day this year?

ABC’s of Homeschooling Through the Holidays – W is for Washi Tape

It is no secret that I love washi tape, right? Well, today I am taking that love to another blog. I wrote a fun post for Heather’s ABC’s of Homeschooling Through the Holidays series. I chose W for…wait for it….washi tape!

I’ve put together a quick list of ideas for using washi tape for your holiday gift giving. The best part is, these are so easy that they are definitely kid-made-friendly. I’ve included a sneak peek of the post below, but you will have to head over to Life of a Homeschool Mom to read the whole article.

Homeschooling Through the Holidays - W is for Washi Tape

Homeschooling brings a freedom with it that our family quite enjoys. We love taking the last six weeks of each year to focus on gift making, cooking and baking, and other holiday fun. Today, I’d like to focus on the gift making and more specifically, gifts made with washi tape!

We are huge fans of washi tape in our home. I have grown quite a collection and we love finding ways to use it. I’ve rounded up a collection of ideas for using washi tape in your homeschooling this holiday season….

Continue Reading at Life of a Homeschooling Mom

Homeschooling Through the Holidays - W is for Washi Tape

 

Kid-Made Washi Tape Ornament – Inspired by Paris: A Book of Shapes

My kids love to be crafty. Some more so than others, but occasionally I will hit on a project that they will sit and do for hours. These simple ornaments were just that for two of my four. The third is planning to make hers tomorrow. The fourth isn’t very interested at this point, I need to find some Minecraft washi tape or something.

This project came around when I joined up with the fabulous Melissa of Mama Miss and a LOT of the Kid Blogger Network bloggers to bring the kid made ornaments blog hop to life again. This has become an annual tradition that is a lot of fun. Last year, we made snowflakes.

This year, with Oliver being really into reading and having had the chance to see a lot of fun board books this year, I chose the book Paris: A Book of Shapes. It is part of a series of board books called Hello World and they are just the best little books. Such lovely illustrations and typography. Each book covers a concept like numbers, colors, or shapes.

Kid Made Washi Tape Ornaments - Inspired by the board book Paris: A Book of Shapes

Kid Made Washi Tape Ornament

This is another one of those simple craft projects that is only limited by your selection of washi tape. So consider this an enabler alert when I tell you to go ahead and stock up. 😉 You will have plenty of options for projects by the time I’m finished playing with mine so it won’t go to waste.

The steps for this were easy. We cut out shapes we found in the book from cardstock. The older kids cut their own shapes, I cut the one for my young preschooler. Then I let them go to town decorating their shapes with the washi tape.

Kid Made Washi Tape Ornaments - Inspired by the board book Paris: A Book of Shapes

My little guy is getting the hang of this crafting thing. The last time we did a washi tape project, he put somewhere around a pound of washi on his bookmark. It’s more of a display piece than a bookmark.

After we made the ones I needed to take a picture of, my little guy proceeded to craft for a good long time. This little guy likes to be busy and he likes to be independent. These ornaments are perfect for it. There is very little that he needs me to do for him (tying the knot mostly).

Once they were finished, we punched a hole in the shape and strung some pretty baker’s twine type string through it. We tied a knot to make a loop and voila! We had a super cute, super easy kid-made washi tape ornament. I think they turned out pretty great. How about you?

Kid Made Washi Tape Ornaments - Inspired by the board book Paris: A Book of Shapes

Kid Made Washi Tape Ornaments - Inspired by the board book Paris: A Book of Shapes

Oliver’s ornament. See? Note the impressive lack of washi tape weight. 😉

More Kid-Made Ornaments!

10 Days of a Kid-Made Christmas

Be sure to check out the awesome series. Melissa is doing a weekly wrap up, but there are 10 bloggers each day sharing a kid-made, book-inspired ornament. This is a great way to add some seasonal themed projects to your homeschooling this year.

Be sure to check out the other bloggers participating in the first day with me:

10 Days of a Kid-Made Christmas


DIY Washi Tape Gift Bags

Do you like to make gifts? Every year I always start our holiday planning with some lofty goals. Actually, those usually start right after Christmas, when I start with my “Next year, I’m going to work on Christmas throughout the year so I don’t get overwhelmed” mantra.

Does it happen? So far, no. But I am not dissuaded from making those grand statements each year. I did buy things throughout the year last year, so Christmas was mostly done before we were even thinking about it. That happened because I realized there was no way I was going to be able to squeeze in any sewing or crafting that year.

This year, I have very few items already purchased, but I still have a plethora of crafting materials like fabric, beads, and such. So this year, there will be handmade gifts. Yay!

DIY Washi Tape Gift Bags - Another simple, but fun way to use washi tape!

DIY Washi Tape Gift Bags

When I was perusing through all my crafting supplies, I came upon a set of kraft bags that I had picked up sometime somewhere for something. I decided to see what I could do with them. Add in my need to justify all my washi purchases, ahem, and you have another simple craft.

DIY Washi Tape Gift Bags - Another simple, but fun way to use washi tape!DIY Washi Tape Gift Bags - Another simple, but fun way to use washi tape!
I do not have a lot of directions that need to go with this, but I did do all five of the bags in a different design to give me some variety for the gift recipients. I’ve included multiple photos below so you can see.

My process for all of these washi tape projects is pretty similar. I either start with a washi tape or two that I want to use and then find coordinating washi and/or stickers to go with it. Or I will start with the stickers and pull washi tape that coordinates with the colors in the stickers. Fairly simple process, but so much fun!

There are so many washi tape patterns out there and Sticko makes some really cute stickers. Your possibilities are practically endless.

If you make some of your own, be sure to let me know! I’d love to see them.

DIY Washi Tape Gift Bags - Another simple, but fun way to use washi tape!

DIY Washi Tape Gift Bags - Another simple, but fun way to use washi tape!

DIY Washi Tape Gift Bags - Another simple, but fun way to use washi tape!

DIY Washi Tape Gift Bags - Another simple, but fun way to use washi tape!

DIY Washi Tape Gift Bags - Another simple, but fun way to use washi tape!

Easy Washi Tape Craft – Thank You Card

I recently discovered the joy of shopping for washi tape. There are SO many designs and colors, it is amazing. I have curated quite the collection with more on the horizon…hey, just being honest.

With this new-found craft supply, I have been busy creating all the washi tape crafts I can think of. Washi tape goes far, let me tell you. I’ve already shared the washi tape bookmarks and today I have another easy washi tape craft for you, a thank you card.

Easy Washi Tape Craft: Thank You Card

Easy Washi Tape Craft – Thank You Card

Cardmaking is one of my favorite craft mediums. I love handmaking cards, especially when I can get over my perfectionist tendencies and just try having fun. Anyone else have that? I’m much craftier in my head than in real life it seems.

For this card, I used some super skinny washi (3mm) to create the string that the little flags hung from. For the little flags, I took a couple rolls of regular size washi tape (15mm) and simply cut triangles off. The silver is actually a smaller washi, which gave me smaller flags, but I liked it that way.

Then I took the 15mm washi and just ran a strip over the bottom of the card for a pop of coordinated color. I used stickers for my “Thanks” and they are a shiny metallic silver, which proved quite difficult to get a photo of.

A couple tips:

  • Different widths of washi will give you different sized flags. Alternating these gives you a neat look.
  • Start with your center. Figure out your pattern and then work out each side to help with the spacing.
  • Work in odd numbers. Odd numbers are always better visually. I used three patterns and have nine flags on my little washi bunting.
  • Don’t press your stickers down right away. I’ve made that mistake and then found that my spacing was off and I had ruined a card with a smooshed word. So frustrating. Now I lay all my letters out gently and will shift them as needed. When I have them in the right place, I will firmly press them.
  • Not all washi tape and stickers like each other. For some reason, some stickers will not stick to the washi tape quite right. Test your washi and stickers for this before hand.
  • To bring a pop of color coordination to the card and envelope, add a strip of your washi to the envelope, too.

Easy Washi Tape Craft: Thank you card and coordinating envelope.

I hope you are enjoying these washi tape crafts because I am certainly having fun finding more excuses to buy the stuff! I have another fun, easy washi tape craft coming up soon. Subscribe via email and make sure you don’t miss it.

DIY Ladybug Bunting – Simple Craft Project

If I had to sum my crafting style up in just one word, it would be simple. I love to create, but long projects are just not in my realm of realistic these days. I much prefer the crafts I can complete in one or two sittings than those I have to get out and put away multiple times.

This little DIY ladybug bunting fits that bill very well. In fact, I came up with the idea, worked out the details, actually made the bunting, and took pictures of it in less than two hours. My kind of project.

DIY Ladybug Bunting - Simple Sewing Craft

DIY Ladybug Bunting

To make your own ladybug bunting, you will need:

DIY Ladybug Bunting - Simple Sewing Craft

  1. Cut a strip of each felt. I used these approximate widths for my strips – 2 1/2″ (red and black polka dot), 1 3/4″ (black), and 1 12/” (cream).
  2. Cut triangles out of your strips. I used 28 total triangles for my bunting – 9 red and black polka dot, 9 cream, and 10 black.
  3. Thread your needle with the twine.
  4. String your triangles together with a running stitch. You will want at least 2 stitches in each triangle. The nice thing about using a larger needle and felt is that you can just string them on one end and pull the triangles down the line with ease. Note: When you use a felt with a pattern on one side, make sure you are consistent with which side faces you as you stitch.
  5. After you have strung all your triangles, tie a knot at your last triangle corner and do one last stitch. Be sure to leave a tail (8″ is great).
  6. Straighten your triangles. Space them however close you want them and make sure they are facing the correct direction.
  7. Cut the string 8″ from the other end of your bunting. Tie a knot at the last triangle and stitch one last stitch on that end. These secure your first and last triangle from sliding off your string.
  8. Hang your bunting or wrap it up and give it as a gift!

Enjoy your DIY ladybug bunting!

DIY Ladybug Bunting - Simple Sewing Craft

Washi Tape Bookmarks – Easy Craft for All Ages

When I was titling this post, I almost made it easy kid craft, but the truth is, this craft is for everyone. I made several myself, one of which I will share below. The others were another style that I will share another time.

Washi Tape Bookmarks - Easy craft for all ages!

Washi Tape Bookmarks

You will need:

The laminator pouches and laminator are optional, but super helpful in preserving your craft. In our case, it protects our bookmarks from being dismantled by a curious preschooler.

I bought blank bookmarks from Hobby Lobby for this project. If you want to use a different, non-typical size for your bookmark, then simply use whatever color cardstock you want and cut it to the size (and shape) you want. Easy.

To make your cards, pick the washi tape and any other embellishments you want to use and start crafting. There is no right or wrong way to go about doing this. Embellishments you can use include stickers and gel pens to add hand drawn touches.

If you are not laminating your washi tape bookmarks, then you can use embellishments like sequins and gems. If you are laminating your bookmarks, then you will want to stick with flat embellishments or the laminating will have air bubbles. You can see what I mean in the pink bookmark below:

Washi Tape Bookmarks - Easy craft for all ages!

Two bookmarks fit in a 5″x7″ laminating pouch. Then you jut cut them apart. When you cut your bookmarks out, be sure to leave a clear edge just beyond where the seal meets and round your corners so you don’t accidentally injure yourself in the future with a sharp corner.

Washi Tape Bookmarks - Easy craft for all ages!

Washi Tape Bookmarks - Easy craft for all ages!

The laminator I use is the Scotch TL901. I bought mine on Amazon for less than $20 with a lightning deal. They usually have them for around $30. It is a great deal and I love finding new things to use my laminator for, like our chore charts.

If you follow along on my Facebook page, I will let you all know if I see a great deal for these every time I see one.

Washi Tape Bookmarks back

I wanted to show you this last photo so you could see the backs don’t have to be perfect. Some of ours have overlap and others do not. If it bothers you, you can cover it by gluing another bookmark to the back and then laminating it. Then you would have a clean back for your washi tape bookmarks.

That’s it, a super easy project that EVERYONE can do. See? You can be crafty!

DIY Snowflake Ornament for Snowflakes Fall

DIY Snowflake Ornaments for Kids | Vicki-Arnold.com

You know how I’m always telling you that I’m not an activity mom? Well, lately God has been challenging some of my thinking and this area is one that is being challenged. Lately I have been more intentional to do more things with my kids because ultimately I want to build memories with my kids.

And guess what?

My kids are activities kids. Yeah. They love it.

So we have been doing more activities. This week we have made two ornaments with a third one on the schedule for next week. Today I have a book inspired ornament that is part of a fun project organized by the fabulous Melissa at Mama Miss.

She has organized 10 days of kid-made, book-inspired ornaments with quite a few bloggers, bringing the total to over 70 ornaments! Be sure to check them all out in her post.

DIY Snowflake Ornament for Snowflakes Fall

The book we chose is called Snowflakes Fall by Patricia MacLachlan and was illustrated by Steven Kellogg. I didn’t realize it when I picked it up at the library, but it was written to provide a message of hope after the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

The book does just that, reminding us of both the joy and the uniqueness of snowflakes. We paired this book with a book of photos of individual snowflakes for additional inspiration for our ornaments and the book The Story of Snow for some science learning.

We decided to make our own snowflakes for our ornaments. We had a blast decorating and, yes, I made one, too. I didn’t just take pictures.

DIY Snowflake Ornaments for Kids | Vicki-Arnold.com

For our DIY snowflake ornaments, we used these supplies:

DIY Snowflake Ornaments for Kids | Vicki-Arnold.com

Here is the simple process we used:

  • Take a chunk of the clay and smooth it into a disc. You don’t want them too thin or your etching will go through and it won’t be too sturdy.
  • Pick a spot to be the top and poke a hole with your toothpick. Swirl your toothpick around to make a whole big enough to string your craft cord or ribbon through.
  • Use your toothpick to etch your snowflake design in the clay. Don’t go all the way through the clay!
  • Decorate your snowflakes with glitter, gems, sequins, or other crafting supplies.
  • Let air dry until completely dry before stringing and hanging.

DIY Snowflake Ornaments for Kids | Vicki-Arnold.com

DIY Snowflake Ornaments for Kids | Vicki-Arnold.com

See? Crafting with kids doesn’t have to be complicated? It is sometimes messy, but hey, that’s life.

DIY Snowflake Ornaments for Kids | Vicki-Arnold.com

I love how unique the kids’ snowflakes turned out. The one on the bottom left was made by the two year old who was more interested in making things with the clay that weren’t snowflakes. Like “nustaches”. 😉

 

Be sure to check out the other ornaments that are going up today:

10 Days of Kid-Made Ornaments hosted by Mama Miss!