Sweater Snowman: The Perfect Holiday Craft

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One of my favorite ways to craft is to use materials I already have at home.  Upcycling is not only great for the environment but it’s great for a budget!  We’ve had a few old sweaters taking up closet space for a while, so I decided to start some projects perfect for the holiday season. 

There are countless ways to upcycle an old sweater, from mittens to hats; throw pillows to tote bags, the possibilities are endless.  One thing to keep in mind when picking sweaters for your crafts is the material.  Wool sweaters are great for accessories but it’s recommended to wash them in hot soapy water and dry on high heat to shrink and felt for optimal sustainability. 

A cotton sweater with a tight knit worked great for my little snowman craft today. If you don’t have any sweaters you’re willing to part with at home, you can always peruse your local Goodwill or thrift shop. Don’t feel like leaving the house? This sweater is currently only $2.99 and ships free on Amazon!

This was a great, easy no-sew activity to get me in the Christmas Crafting spirit.  They make adorable gifts for friends and family or can be a wonderfully whimsical addition to your own home.

Items you will need:

·      Sweater (preferably cotton or wool)

·      Rice

·      Thread or Ribbon (for scarf and hat)

·      Buttons (in any shape or color you prefer)

·      Toothpick

·      Black and Orange Acrylic Paint (Grab a set, like this one, made by Crayola, for endless uses after!)

·      Sock or Additional Sweater (for hat)

·      Three Rubber Bands

·      Hot Glue Gun (This one is just $6.99!)

·      Scissors

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·      Non- Stick Paper (parchment or wax)

I used an XL men’s sweater for my snowman, which gave me a longer and larger sleeve. I had to use a lot of rice to fill him, but I’m very pleased with the plumpness that it created.  If you’re looking for a smaller snowman, I suggest using a small, women’s sweater.  Instead of creating a traditional white snowman, I chose a tan colored sweater to give him a rustic primitive look. 

 

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Step One: Lay out one sleeve and choose your desired snowman height.  Make sure to give yourself enough excess to tie the snowman at the top and bottom.

Step Two: Turn sleeve inside out, tie one end closed with rubber band tightly to prevent any spillage.

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Step Three: Turn sleeve right side out and fill with rice (I used about 4 cups of rice and half a bag of quinoa when I ran out of rice).  Tie off top of snowman with rubber band, again making sure it is tight, trim off excess as needed to fit under hat.

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Step Four: Section off your snowman head by placing a rubber band or ribbon about 1/3 of the way down from the top.  I found using a rubber band gave it a secure shape and was easier than trying to tie a ribbon.  Later, I covered the rubber band with my ribbon “scarf.”

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Step Five: Using additional sweater or old (clean!) sock, create the snowman’s hat.  If you’re using a sweater, determine the length needed for your hat and cut one sleeve, using the cuff as the base of the hat.  If using a sock, cut the sock just above the heel, using the ankle cuff as the base of the hat.  The sweater I used had a long cuff, so I rolled it in half and hot glued it down before gluing the hat onto the snowman.  Trim the length of the hat as needed and tie off end.

  Step Six: Paint end of toothpick orange for “carrot” nose and create black paint drops on wax paper for eyes.  I used another clean toothpick to help round out the edges of the eyes. Let dry completely.  Cut toothpick to length and glue on for nose.  Carefully peel eyes off paper and glue on. 

   Step Seven: If you used a rubber band to section off head, tie ribbon over band to create scarf.  I used a wired ribbon so I could mold the ends to have a wavy, lifelike appearance.

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Step Eight:  Glue desired buttons to front of snowman.

I absolutely loved the way my snowman turned out and I hope you do too.  The best part of this craft is that you can truly customize it however you want to perfectly compliment your winter décor.  I can’t wait to see what else I can make with my sweaters!

Ashley Kuvent

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Mom Travel Hacks: Just in Time for the Holidays!

Between cross country moves, summer trips to visit relatives and just general exploration, I spent most of my childhood and young adulthood in a car.  I love being in the car. I love driving around aimlessly looking for nothing, I love exploring new places.  I’m fortunate that most of the people in my life share that love.

We don’t think twice about driving two hours away to see a one hour comedy show, or three hours to go shopping at some good outlets, or skip school to day trip to Boston (only to turn back around due to lack of parking).  However, that all changed when I had kids!

Suddenly, being in a car was about adventure, it was about survival.  You can’t just grab your wallet and go anymore. You have diaper bags and booster seats, snacks and bottles.  Do we need to pack the stroller? Did everyone use the bathroom before we left?  Everyday car rides can be a challenge, add in some long distance and you can expect complete misery if not prepared.  So I’ve compiled a list of some tips and hacks that can help make your next trip to the grocery store or that long drive to the in laws a little easier and (hopefully) more fun!

Everyday:

The best thing I ever did for the car was to make an essentials kit.  Some of the contents have changed over the years as my children have grown. Here is a list of some everyday items that I find really helpful to have in the car. 

1.     First Aid Kit

2.     Tissues

3.     Baby Wipes (great for all ages!) (Grab this 552 Count Package of Huggies at Amazon for just $0.02 a wipe!)

4.     Hand Sanitizer (Pay $9.40 for a case of 8 ones to hang right off your key chain, diaper bag, purse and so on)

5.     Nail Clippers and Nail Files

6.     Q Tips or Cotton Balls

7.     Scissors

8.     Flashlight

9.     Pen and Notebook

10.  Bottle of Water

11.  Anti-Static Spray

12.  Tide Stain Remover Sticks

13.  Extra Set of Clothes

14.  Diapers or Pull Ups

15.  Small Sewing Kit

16.  Small Garbage Bags (definitely a must with potty training kids!)

17.  Toilet Paper

18.  Toothpaste or Mouthwash

19.  Sunscreen and Bug Spray (for summer months)

I know this looks like a long list, but if carefully organized and packed, it takes up a small amount of space. You can even organize it in separate containers to have in the most convenient places throughout your vehicle.

I keep commonly used items like baby wipes and tissues within reach in my center console. Less often used items like nail clippers and extra clothes are stored in the trunk.  Keep your weather in mind when making these kits. 

There are seasonal items like bug spray and sunscreen that don’t need to take up space year round. My mom taught me to have a heavy blanket in my car in the winter in case we get stuck in the snow, help yourself be prepared for inclement weather.  Some people keep medications like Tylenol or gas drops in their car, but if you have extreme temperatures I would advise you to check your packages for proper storage recommendations.  Having some of these items ready to go in my car has saved me on more occasions than I can count.

Recycling and reusing is so important, something I try to better myself at all the time.  Here I’ve compiled a list of everyday household items that you can reuse in your car, saving you money while helping the planet.

1.     Coffee Creamer Bottles: Wash out, remove label and fill with your favorite snack.  These are great for long trips since they have a large holding capacity. Plus, if you keep the container up front, you can save on mess by being able to ration out small amounts of goldfish crackers or cheerios to those tiny hands.

2.     Gum Containers: Wash out, remove label and fill with your favorite snacks. Bonus with these containers is that they fit right in your cup holder!

3.     Crystal Light Drink Mix Containers: Remove label and use to store writing utensils like colored pencils or markers. Can also be used to store snacks like Nutrigrain bars that can easily be squished in a bag of snacks.

4.     Plastic Containers for Berries: Possibilities are endless with these.  They are a great size for storing crayons or markers, extra batteries, Lego pieces (if you’re brave), snacks, matchbox cars, first aid kit, etc. Let your imagination run wild!

5.     Kool-aid Containers: Wash out, remove label and fill with your favorite snacks.

On to long drives in the car…

When my son was three years old, I took him on an eleven hour road trip to visit my brother.  I was petrified to say the least but I over prepared myself for it and we had a great time. Turns out, he got the travel gene too and was A-Mazing in the car.  Here are some tips and advice to get you and your family happily through a long drive.  I’ve also included some links to some great DIY activities for a wide range of ages.

1.     Keep all essential car items within reach, especially if you’re driving alone!  I kept all of the snack and drink items in a crate on the passenger seat and he sat in his car seat behind it so I could safely reach him while keeping my eyes on the road.  I also kept a small plastic bag next to the crate to help keep garbage under control.

2.     For potty training families:  Portable potty, extra clothes, wipes, toilet paper and small garbage bags

3.     Pre Organized activity sets- I used Ziploc bags to organize different activities, it kept all of his toys together and made it easy to pull out something new when he was bored.  I had crayons and paper, matchbox cars and small figurines.  For older kids you can have crossword puzzles, decks of cards or books

4.     Create fun and entertaining playlists to sing along with in the car

5.     Use shower caddies with suction cups to keep small items organized and off the floor

6.     Tons of different DIY activities to help keep the kids entertained https://www.themeasuredmom.com/road-trip-activities-kids-ages-2-8/

7.     I made these grab bags for a friend’s first long distance trip with a little one and it was a huge hit!

https://www.makeandtakes.com/road-trip-grab-bags

8.     Playing games in the car was always our biggest source of entertainment; we didn’t have DVD players and tablets to bring along when I was growing up.  Here is a link of classic car games with explanations and age levels:

https://www.tripsavvy.com/car-games-for-your-road-trip-3267658?utm_source=pinterest

 The most important thing to remember when traveling with kids to have fun!  Pack your car full of memories, laughs and love.  As a kid I always had a great time in the car because my family made it that way. So as an adult, the only thing I can hope for is to pass that along to my children too.

Ashley Kuvent