Category Archives: Arts & Crafts

5 Tips For Creating The Perfect Jack-O-Lantern

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5 Tips For Creating The Perfect Jack-O-Lantern

Before we visit a pumpkin patch or farm, we might want to brush up on our pumpkin decorating skills. A well decorated front yard for Halloween is a joy for children and adults alike so why not go all out? If you are looking for an activity that extends beyond choosing a pumpkin and decorating it, which will happen too, then click here. Let’s get started:

Select the Right Pumpkin:

A thorough inspection of the pumpkin should include checking for soft spots. This is to make sure that you do not end up choosing a pumpkin that has already begun to spoil. Also avoid pumpkins with deep ridges and go for a smooth-surfaced one. At pumpkin farms, there will be plenty of choices as opposed to you trying to pick the best among limited options within a grocery store, when customers have already bought the best ones.

The design that you have in mind should also dictate the pumpkin that you choose. In other words, do you need a short and round pumpkin or one that is skinnier and taller in terms of its shape? Know in advance what you are looking for.

Prepare Your Design Before Applying to the Pumpkin:

Draw out your design and then use tracing paper to transfer it onto the pumpkin. This can be a design that you have approved yourself or that has been checked with someone else first. However, it is nice to surprise people by not showing them your design until it is carved on your finished pumpkin.

With your design, think beyond just a traditional triangular face and consider creating other Halloween symbols such as bats, stars, or moons. More adventurous still, you could attempt a graveyard scene or a spooky forest. If designing your pumpkin further down the line, perhaps at Thanksgiving in November, then think about alternative creations of say puppies, cats, or rabbits. Children tend to prefer animals because of their familiarity and the cute factor.

Know How to Hold Your Pumpkin:

It is a good idea to hold the pumpkin in your lap as you are carving it. This is the most supportive and safest way to carve a pumpkin. Have the right equipment of a serrated kitchen knife for the main carving and a small saw for the more intricate parts of the design.

Consider Shaving:

We are not talking shaving your legs or facial hair, but the alternative of not cutting right through the pumpkin with every stroke. Instead, sometimes deciding to just scrape pieces of pumpkin away to allow just enough light to glow through your open-design creations. It is always important to be patient when creating any pumpkin design. The best designs have taken much thought and a good deal of carving, and your other technique of shaving should make for a design that is more dynamic than it might otherwise have been.

Incorporating Scraps Within the Design:

Do not waste anything because you can incorporate your scraps or discarded pieces of pumpkin within your design. The ones that you do not intend to cook, that is. For example, you could make hair, a tongue, a pipe, or a chimney from these spare pieces. This will make your pumpkin into more of a character with a personality, a more sophisticated structure, or make it more three dimensional in form. You can be as artistic as you like, creating something for your pumpkin that merely started as a basic idea on paper. Think as creatively about your scraps as you do about the main part of your creation.

Turn your ordinary pumpkin into something extraordinary with the tips above and you will delight your whole neighborhood with your creation!

Keep Yourself Busy With These Ideas

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Keep Yourself Busy With These Ideas

Hi there! Idle hands are the devil’s play thing or however that saying goes and, if you’re like me, then you might like to keep your hands busy too. There are so many amazing things that can be created with our own two hands from building with LEGO to constructing a house! Today, we are going to look at a few ideas that will definitely keep your hands busy when you are feeling fidgety or need to destress. Let’s get to it:

Build Something New:

People who are gifted in the art of construction, wood working, and welding simply blow me away and it is an awesome skill to continue to practice if you are so inclined. Being able to make something out of nothing must be so satisfying and is a great way to get creative as well as decompress. Before starting your next project, make sure you have all of the proper building supplies and tools and see what magic you can work to make it happen!

LEGO:

So maybe actual construction isn’t your thing and that’s okay! But have you ever tried building with LEGO bricks, instead? My husband and I absolutely love to build with LEGO and are very much looking forward to receiving our Seinfeld set in the mail any day now. Building with LEGO takes time, focus, and a lot of imagination if you are not building an actual set. It is a great way to break up the monotony of your regularly scheduled programming as you spend some time building something brick by brick. Be sure to check out the competition show, LEGO Masters, too because it is a hoot. 😀

Puzzles:

I really enjoy putting puzzles together and there is nothing better than when you get into a good flow and the pieces just seem to come together themselves. While I couldn’t imagine doing anything beyond a five hundred piece puzzle, some people are gifted enough to put together one thousand plus puzzle pieces! Put on your favorite tunes and see how much puzzle progress you can make in one sitting.

Arts & Crafts:

Knitting, crochet, needlepoint, and sewing are all fabulous skills to have and it can be done anywhere! You can dream up something knew while you’re killing time on a long car, train, or plane ride or just hanging out at home and watching a movie. I live for the scarf that my mom knitted for me and can’t wait for the weather to cool down so I can wear it once again!

Creating something new is exciting, fulfilling, and can be done with your own two hands! What will you make today?

Learning A New Craft In Lock Down

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Learning A New Craft In Lock Down

Hello! Life in lock down is, honestly, so boring at this point but the safety of ourselves, loved ones, and complete strangers is important and it makes all of the monotony worth it. If you have exhausted all of your ideas to keep you occupied at home, then it might be time to retire from your streaming services and try a new craft. There are so many amazing videos, kits, and how to guides out there to create something new and, today, we’re going to discuss a few of those options:

Knit Kits:

If you are interested in knitting, crochet, or macrame or would like to take the hobby up again, then there are so many websites that you can purchase kits from. Ranging in difficulty from beginner to intermediate and advanced, each kit provides you with the pattern, step by step guide, and materials needed for you to make a scarf, sweater, or blanket. Stitch & Story, We Are Knitters, and Wool And The Gang are all great websites to browse through for your next project! When the weather is nice, you could even host a social distanced knitting circle in your own backyard.

Restoring Old Furniture:

A trip to the local Goodwill, Salvation Army, or even shopping online through Facebook Marketplace can give you access to all kinds of gently used furniture just begging for a makeover. You could repair, repaint, or reupholster new life into secondhand items and redo your entire living room. Not to mention, make some extra cash if you ever want to turn your craft into a side hustle. Don’t forget garage sale style apps as well as Poshmark if you would like to profit from your new hobby.

Building With LEGO:

My boyfriend and I absolutely love building with LEGO and, although it isn’t a craft per se, I just had to include it on this list. Did you know that a LEGO replica of Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night will soon be available for purchase? What about a botanical collection that boasts bouquets, bonsai trees, and succulents? LEGO is constantly adding new sets with unique pieces and colors and are always finding innovative ways to work surprises into each build, which makes it an exciting hobby to have.

You can showcase your creative side with LEGO through free building or incorporating different sets into your home decor. I would sure like to have a LEGO Starry Night hanging on my wall!

Homemade Products:

Making your own cleaning products, candles, and bath and body care can be a really fun hobby, makes great gifts, and helps save you money. Online guides will help you develop your new craft and you can even experiment with your own recipes once you have a better idea for the best ingredients and techniques. You will feel comforted in knowing exactly what is going into the products that you are using and, who knows, it could just turn into a side hustle in the future if you create something really good!

Don’t forget to check in with your local businesses and boutiques because some of the owners might be offering online workshops for homemaking different products or art. For example, the local specialty knitting shop in my area, Harps & Thistles, offers knitting kits too and it’s always cool to shop local. 🙂

Have you learned a new craft during the pandemic? How about improved on any old hobbies? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

 

4 Stress-Busting Means Of Engaging Your Creativity

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4 Stress-Busting Means Of Engaging Your Creativity

To open this post, we need not speak about the difficulties of the last year, and just how life has changed. It’s a well-worn topic. However, it’s very true that the importance of self-care and the willingness to keep ourselves in check (and to check up on others) has never been so important. As such, figuring out a few methods for achieving exactly that is certainly worth our time. One method that is rarely spoken of when it comes to self care is that of practicing creativity.

Why is this? Well, sometimes, creativity can feel like work or practice. It’s not as if playing a piano is something we can all sit down and just learn by ear, it takes hard work and practice to get good before you can begin really flexing your creativity. The last thing you want to assign to someone having a stressful time is more work.

Or is that the case? Does creativity have to feel like work or could it feel like play? Perhaps it could be both. After all, most runners are all too familiar with the feeling we get when starting a run (feeling groggy, tired, irritable) and then how fun it gets once the endorphins are flowing and we feel like we could keep going for hours. Creativity can function in that way. It can also help us feel confident, relaxed, energized, inspired, productive, useful, and able to express ourselves. That has to be worth something quite important, to the point where we would totally recommend keeping on top of those considerations from now into the long term.

Let’s see what creative ambitions can fit within this worthwhile category:

Journaling:

People rarely feel that journaling is a creative hobby, but it truly is. Putting your thoughts, ideas, impressions, beliefs, or experiences down into written form can be very cathartic. Journaling can not only help you expel your ideas more readily, but it helps you understand exactly what you were thinking and why. This is doubled when you return to that which you’ve written and see just where you were at the time, and how you’ve grown. Giving yourself this kind of insight is not only a great practice for your mental health, but it can help you learn a new skill. Writing isn’t easy and it takes plenty of practice to get good at. A journal is a fantastic place to become more literate. It can also serve our next task:

Creative Writing:

People often think that creative writing needs to be strictly within a category. Either you’re writing poetry, a short story, a novel, or a travel log. That’s not true, of course. Writing is whatever you’d like it to be. Some of the best writing we have is when authors have the courage to break the rules, like the novel Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce, filled with difficult-to-decipher language that is both strange and very curated, almost poetic.

Creative writing helps us focus on our thoughts and what impressions we may wish to grant an audience, but it also helps us present a story line, write our thoughts for people to read, or perhaps veil our artistic insights in poetry or songwriting. Creative writing, like journaling, can be quite cathartic except the rules are much more open and freeing, giving you a sense of potential in every word you jot down. Why not try and write a page long stream of consciousness this week? It might inspire you to further expand your creativity.

Arts & Crafts:

Of course, many people prefer feeling like they have something tangible to offer, and arts and crafts can help us focus on actually making something rather than endlessly reflecting. That can be great to keep us focused and somewhat distracted, rather than ruminating on the tough times we’re going through.

For instance, you might find that putting together a wonderful mandala kit helps you create a beautiful decoration that you take pride in every time you see it. Arts and crafts can also serve a real purpose. You might use your seamstress skills to fix up some of your old clothes or reupholster your furniture by giving it a lick of paint and a varnish. Maybe you’ll just reclaim some wood and use a chisel and hammer to try your hand at amateur sculpture in your garage. Having a project like this on the go can feel very rewarding, as over time it takes form and you see your plans come to actual life.

Painting:

If you’re looking for some inspiration, there’s a special Twitch channel playing Bob Ross episodes 24/7, showcasing how even amateurs can enjoy painting and get something from it if they try. Why not gather some paints and give it a shot? You could mess around with watercolors and have fun with your teenage child. You might decide to do a self-portrait, something fun and whimsical or perhaps as realistic as you can try to make it. You can also experiment with the surfaces you paint on if you like, such as painting a beautiful family mural in your kitchen or corridor wall with images of your loved ones.

Don’t discount painting just because you may not have had time to enjoy it before. The process can be highly rewarding if you give it time, piece by piece, with a little verve and care.

With this advice, we hope you can more easily see the benefit in trying a new creative passion, even if you’ve never touched that process before. These suggested activities are cheap, fun, and can sustain you during difficult times. Best of luck!

Featured Image By: Pexels

Let’s Paint!

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Let’s Paint!

Hi! One of the things that I love about my neck of the woods is all of the wonderful libraries. Prior to the pandemic, I would always take my clients to the fun programs being offered at different library branches. We were particularly fond of vinyl record club, crafts, and movie showings. Now in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the libraries in my area have turned all of their programs virtual and you can hop onto Zoom to join in.

The last time my dad was at the library to pick up some books for me and my mom, he also grabbed a craft kit complete with a mini canvas, paint, and brushes. Like so:

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Now, I am in no way shape or form an artist and I have absolutely no clue what to paint on my canvas. So, I am open to suggestions! I will make an attempt to paint the idea from the comments that I like the best and, what’s more, I will even send it your way if your comment was chosen so you can have a Lil Red Original. Who knows, maybe Johnny will even make a “celebrity” contribution to the painting too. Let’s see what happens!

What should I paint on my canvas? What kind of programs does your local library offer? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Featured Image By: Alina Vilchenko from Pexels

Monster Mash

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Hello! A few days ago, I posted about a Halloween craft that I made with my client out of Popsicle sticks. They turned out like this:

While the Barney sticks were for my client, the ghosts, Jack-O-Lantern, and Frankenstein were for Johnny who wanted to decorate his space at work for Halloween. Despite forgetting to bring his flat friends with him on the job for the first few days, my sweetie finally remembered and he claims that he is never going to take them down. 🙂

The day that Johnny brought the Popsicle sticks into work, he took a picture of his decorated area WITHOUT ME EVEN ASKING! Check it out:

I was not expecting my fairly simple crafts to be the crowning jewel of Johnny’s display and it made me so proud that he liked them that much. His little paper cut out ghosts make me smile and that applies for basically everything he does, lol.

While we are all worried about the outcome of Election Day today, I just had to post some mushy nonsense to help take the edge off. And I am so thankful to get through whatever the results will be together with my Johnny. ❤

How did you decorate for Halloween? How is your work space decorated? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Simple Popsicle Stick Halloween Craft

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Simple Popsicle Stick Halloween Craft

Hi! Lil Red may not be the craftiest gal in the bunch but, I’ll be damned if I don’t try my best with my clients when we’re creating something together. One of my pals had a plethora of Popsicle sticks so I figured we could try to do a Halloween craft with them by painting them into little ghosts. While my client opted for making names of his loved ones out of the sticks (So sweet!), I made the following for Johnny’s desk at work and something special for my crafting partner. Check it out:

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I started my crafting palooza with something easy by painting the Popsicle sticks white and making little ghost faces with Sharpie markers once the paint was dry. Simple, yes, but they turned out so cute I decided to try my hand at a few more designs even though they were going to be much harder for my non crafty self.

I thought a Frankenstein stick would look awesome and I knew Johnny would love it so I looked up a picture of ol’ Frank and did my best. While the green paint on the stick dried, I practiced drawing his face several times on paper before I Sharpied in the final effort and, frankly (lol), I couldn’t believe how good it turned out. In fact, it ended up being Johnny’s favorite creation.

After seeing my Frankenstein, my client asked me if I could make him a Barney one. I told him I’ll see what I can do and got to work on two Barney themed Popsicle sticks. In honor of the Barney Halloween episode that he loves, I painted a stick purple with green polka dots, just like the pumpkin Barney had in the show.

The real challenge, now, was going to be making Barney’s face because I can’t draw for crap. Lol, like with Frankenstein, I looked up a picture of Barney and practiced drawing his face while the purple base paint dried. Once I was satisfied, I Sharpied in the face of the friendly purple dinosaur and I thought it turned out great. I added a green tummy and his yellow toes and my client was so happy with what I made him, which is all that matters to me.

To wrap up our crafting, I made a Jack-O-Lantern stick to complete Johnny’s spooky set. Both my client and I had a blast with our arts and crafts hour and I was so happy to come up with something that was simple but we both enjoyed so much. Oh you crafty, huh?!

Would you consider yourself crafty? What is something that you have made that you are proud of? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Pumpkin Party

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Pumpkin Party

Hi! This past week, I thought I would bring the pumpkin patch to one of my clients so that we could paint them together. Painting pumpkins is one of my favorite activities to do with clients because for one: it’s a lot of fun and for two: I have never even carved a pumpkin before so I definitely don’t trust myself with that!

During the “pumpkin party”, we had Casper The Friendly Ghost playing on the TV while we worked on our masterpieces. We painted away until we were satisfied with our creations and then gave each other a grand reveal of the end results. They looked a little something like this:

While I opted for multicolored polka dots on my pumpkin, my client decided he wanted to make one with the likeness of yours truly. I’ve got to say, I can definitely see the similarities and I was so touched that that’s what he wanted to make with the pumpkin I brought him. We both gave each other the pumpkins we made at the end of the day and I have mine proudly displayed in my apartment.

Whether it be painting pumpkins, hand traced turkeys for Thanksgiving, or ornaments for the holiday season: Painting is a blast. Make an afternoon of your crafting by putting on a movie or music to fit the theme and get to stepping on your own handmade holiday decor. And, always remember, that fun times can still be had from the safety of your home – all it takes is a little creativity!

Do you have any holiday craft ideas? What is your favorite holiday to decorate for? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Reader Map DIY Craft

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Reader Map DIY Craft

Hi! One of the things that I love about blogging on WordPress is how they tell you what countries are reading you every day on your stats page. When I first started lifewithlilred, it was always exciting to get a new country reading me and it still is. So, I decided to pin a world map to a bulletin board and placed a thumbtack in the designated position for each country that I had readers in:

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Over five years ago when I began my reader map, my dad and I spent an entire afternoon locating each country so I could place a pin to start keeping track. It was a fun and downright educational way to spend some time and I thought that it was a great craft for my blogger friends to work on, especially when we all should be practicing self isolation.

Dig up an old map from your school days or print one out for yourself and you will get a visual representation of your blog’s global klout by the end of the project. I love having a reader map and the best part? Adding new thumbtacks to it as new countries start reading me! My most recent pin being in Seychelles. 🙂

What have you been crafting to help pass time in quarantine? Which DIY project that you made are you most proud of? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Cool Crafts: Personalized Card Making

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Cool Crafts: Personalized Card Making

Creating cards and letter writing is a lost art. Taking the time to make something with care adds personality to your crafting, something that cannot be replicated when buying cards from a store. That’s actually where most of the fun comes in, making a card that is entirely unique and took incredible patience and skill. If you’re just teetering on the brink of getting started and buying the various equipment you need, then take a look at these examples where card making becomes the perfect craft:

A mark of professionalism:

What if you could make your business card yourself? If you had the freedom, what kind of design would you use? When it comes to card making, it’s not just the normal greeting cards that you will be able to make, but business cards too. Right from scratch, you can decide the material so when someone touches it, they get a unique sensation. A business card made out of foam, for example, is much more memorable than typical card stock. Being able to make your own 3D designs so again, anyone who is rubbing their finger over it gets a different feel. And, rather than the typical rectangle business card, how about curved edges? Any colors, fonts, dies and materials, the choice is yours.

A bespoke wedding:

Wedding cards are, perhaps, the most difficult to choose. It’s not like a birthday that comes around every year, weddings are once in a lifetime. People who have been invited to the wedding will often fret whether or not their card looks extravagant enough and does it warrant being saved by the couple. Usually the married couple will only choose a select few cards that they’re going to save for the rest of their life along with all of the other wedding day memories. To make your card worthy of being kept and valued, you’ll need to make it yourself using Sizzix dies. These dies are some of the most detailed in the crafting world and there are plenty of them to choose from. Characters, letters, houses, animals, patterns and jewelry designs, for starters.

For your wedding card, you may wish to use thinlit dies, which are intricate patterns that are used to cut out the frontal design of your card. This allows the cover to be see-through and show a bit of what’s inside without opening it. The festive repeats, floral, seasonal, and mystical dies would go great for celebrating a moment of love and happiness.

Celebrating a milestone:

Normally, people get into crafting because they want to make a brilliant birthday card, which is fine. But you can use your crafting skills to make a card that marks a special milestone. This could be something like giving your parents an anniversary card for their 20 years together. It might be giving your daughter a card for her promotion at work. A moment in time where an achievement of perseverance and struggle is documented, acknowledged, and celebrated is perfect for making a personalized card.

First, you need custom dies which you can very easily order online. But what kind of dies would you need? For a promotion, how about the logo of the company they work for? For an anniversary maybe a picture from the photo album? Anything that relates to the focal point can be made into a 3D design with a custom die. Next, you should use materials and colors that match the event. Again, you could use corporate colors for the promotion card or the favorite colors of the couple. Ribbons and flowers are a great addition to personalized cards as a change of material and adds depth to the card.

Making a children’s book:

Children will one day grow too old to be read bedtime stories but, while you have the chance, make them a personal bedtime story. You can make up your own characters and story line to reflect the kind of teachings you want them to learn. With using the dies, you can make a 3D book which has lots of opportunity for interactive storytelling. Popup books are popular because they have moving parts, so you might want to incorporate that into your crafting skills, as well.

Handcrafted cards are incredibly personal and will instantly be recognized for the hard work you have put in. Start crafting a card and make something special for someone you care about!