Apr 23 2011

How To Make Record Album Bowls

Turning Old Junk Into Usable Art

by: Sharon DeVellis

Son No. 1 started collecting record albums a few months ago thanks to his awesome teacher who also collects albums and brought them in to share with the class. That, combined with his discovery of my old albums in the basement (Elvis, baby!) spurred on a lust for LP's. 

There's a used record store close to our house so Son No. 1 saves his money and we trek on over to pick up a few to add to the ever growing collection. Choices can be based on anything from colour, to etchings in the album, to cool covers. He has everything from opera and rock to Dr. Seuss and Mary Poppins.

We were doing a search on the internet last week to find out how albums were made and came across a site flilled with images of art created using old albums - sculptures, clocks, lamps, statues - but what really intrigued me was the bowl made from an album. Kind of artsy yet completely utilitarian, we decided to give it a go. The results were fantastic.

Here's how you and your kids can turn old albums into one-of-a-kind art, and have one less thing going to the landfill. 

Items Needed:

- vinyl record album
- two oven safe bowls
- baking sheet
- oven mitts
- an oven

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.  Clean the album and making sure it's free of dust and dirt.

Step 2:  Place an oven safe bowl upside down on the baking sheet and balance the album on top. Place in oven.

Step 3:  Heat the album for two to three minutes - time will vary depending on your oven but when the album is floppy, it's ready to be taken out.

Step 4: This is where you have to work fast as the vinyl starts to harden as soon as soon as it begins to cool so have the second bowl on the counter waiting. Using the oven mitts, remove the baking sheet from the oven.  Place the soft, floppy album into the bowl and start molding it into the shape you want. Be as creative as you'd like - there's no right or wrong.

This is a kid-friendly project depending on the kid. Son No. 1 had no problem molding his bowls but Son No. 2 needed help as he felt the album was too hot to touch. Remember to work fast. 

Note:  If the album hardens before you're finished, you can put it back into the oven to soften it up a bit.  Just be sure to always use an oven safe bowl.

Voila!  You are now the proud owner of a unique hand crafted bowl.

My boys both have two bowls in each of their rooms filled with crayons, art supplies and as a place to keep the odds and ends that always ended up all over their dressers and drove me absolutely insane.

Also, instead of a basket, guess what my nieces will be receiving their Easter eggs in this year.

p.s. Yes, I realize my oven is due for a cleaning but I've been busy making art of albums. And possibly eating chocolate Easter eggs.

"
Apr 20 2011

Baker Street Desserts

A Splurge-Worthy Treat

by: Sharon DeVellis

The other day, this was delivered to my house...

It was like the universe could read my thoughts. 

Or alternatively a PR company contacted me to tell me they wanted to send a dessert from Baker Street, a family owned company here in Toronto. I was on that email like a PMSing woman on chocolate cake which, you know, probably.

A few days later the chocolate deliciousness arrived but because their desserts are flash frozen, I had to wait for a bit for it to defrost.  Finally I had a piece, then tweeted out:

On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is it that I'm eating chocolate cake at 10:30 in the morning?

The responses were fast and furious.

And that's why I love twitter, they make my bad habits seem normal.

And BTW, I loved the cake so much ended up deluging the very patient PR person with questions on where I could buy Baker Street products and what section of the store they're found in so I wouldn't have to spend too much time actually looking.   I'm not much of a baker so to be able to pick up one of these for a dinner party or book club night is perfect for me. 

Or maybe even just to eat while I'm chatting with my supportive friends on twitter.

"
Apr 17 2011

Loot Bag Alternatives

Fun Birthday Party Takeaways

by: Sharon DeVellis

birthday party loot bags

I hate loot bags.  I hate making them, I hate when my kids bring them home from a birthday party and I hate when the stuff is thrown out a few days later. 

My kids don’t need any more cheap plastic games with pieces that get lost or fall apart the first time they play with them. We have enough super-duper bouncy balls, tattoos, cheap knock-off play dough and themed pencils, notepads and erasers to last a lifetime. 

Loot bags filled with crap are sending a message to our kids that we live in a disposable society. I don't know about your kids but mine lose interest in their loot bags about three hours after the birthday party has ended - if that,  the only exception being the candy.  The rest either ends up in the bottom of their toy bin or the garbage bin.  Aren't our landfills overflowing enough?

We need to stop the loot bag insanity.

I'm not the only mother who feels this way either. If you too are sick and tired of dollar store loot bags, please join me in starting the "No More Loot Bags" revolution. This doesn't mean kids have to leave a birthday party empty handed. I'm not the Grinch Who Stole Loot Bags. I'm just asking that you give the kids something that won't be thrown in the garbage the day after it comes home.

It doesn't have to be expensive. I realize the reason most parents raid the dollar store for birthday party loot bags is because it's cheap. Who wants to spend hard earned money on 20 kids that aren't your own? But you can come up with some great alternatives that won't drain your bank account and the kids will love.

Fall Fun

Buy small pumpkins and craft items – stickers, glue sticks, sparkles, googly eyes and markers – and have the kids decorate the pumpkins.  Not only is this a great activity for the party, the kids get to bring home the pumpkin and proudly display it for the world to see. 


Personalize It!

My younger son’s birthday falls in the month before Canada Day so one year I made all the kids a t-shirt with their names and the Canada flag.  This one cost a bit more – about $2.50 a shirt plus the cost of iron-on transfers but the results were fantastic. What was even more fantastic was seeing his neighbourhood friends wearing the shirts on Canada Day. 

Helpful Hint:  Ensure that you “flip” the image before printing – otherwise you’ll only be able to read the names on the shirts when looking in a mirror.

Psychedelic Mayhem

This one isn’t for the faint of heart…but last year, we had a tie dye party.  Eight boys all under the age of six and vats of permanent dye.  I may or may not have taken a valium midway through the party but the results were worth it.

The Treasure Is In The Hunt

Because Son No 2’s birthday falls in warmer weather, I usually have his party outdoors. This particular year we had a treasure hunt. The kids read clues to find the treasures hidden through out the neighbourhood.  Once one was found, they read the next clue and raced to find the next treasure. What were the treasures? Pebbles, soil, seeds and tiny plant pots. When everything was collected, they came back to our house, decorated the pots, planted a sunflower seed and took it home as their "loot".  Some of those sunflowers grew over six feet tall.

I get that we’re all busy.  Not everyone is going to have the time or inclination to make personalized t-shirts. This post isn't to make parents feel bad because they aren't burning cds with their kids favorite songs. We all have enough stress and activities in our lives – I don’t want to add more.  I'm just asking that you take a moment and think of something kids can use and won't break or be thrown out within 24 hours of the party. In the end, it will save your pocket book and help save our planet.  Not to mention the sanity of many many parents.

Mine included.

If You Liked These Loot Bag Alternatives You'll Also Like This Birthday Party Alternative.
   

Pages

The Face, The Voice, The Blog!

Sharon is a Common Sense Parent which is somewhere in between being free-range and helicopter. She believes in being active as a family and eating well 85% of the time. The other 15% is for the days when she's PMSing and then all bets are off. So far her parenting style has worked wonders for her two boys who astound her on a daily basis but that's not to say she doesn't have time to totally screw it up. She can't teach you how to keep your house clean while balancing a job and motherhood but if you're a mom who's struggling to figure it out, you've found your tribe.

You can follow Sharon on Twitter: @SharonDV

You can also visit her at: Speed Skating Mom: On The Slow Track To Becoming Fast

Subscribe to Sharon DeVellis's RSS feed

View Sharon DeVellis's Profile

YMC Recently Spilled!

SLFarnam says...

  The best thing parents can bring to practice is a good attitude, a healthy dose of respect, and a big (reusable) bottle of water. About: Stop With The Snack Insanity Join the conversation...