Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The importance of relaxation

When I look over my schedule of all the things that I've done this year, it's really amazing that I haven't gone insane. And when people ask me how I do it, my answer is easy: I take time off.

Being a mother of three under 9 years old is really quite exhausting on its own. Add to that the stress of owning your own business, volunteering as an Art Docent in three classrooms at my daughters’ school, selling at four different stores in my area, leading a girl scout troop, being a community organizer for a nonprofit and teaching at various venues around the state. But I've learned that it's important to have a balance. I have an amazing husband who is vey supportive of my business and my well being. Earlier on in our marriage, when I wasn't taking time off, we hit some rough patches. He (and I) came to fully comprehend the line "If mama ain't happy, nobody is happy." This awareness actually led to him encouraging me to take some time away to recuperate. I wish I could clone him for you.

Earlier on in my regrouping efforts, I was still taking my anxiety with me. I would go on retreats where I would be teaching, or organizing, or storytelling and had convinced myself that I was still getting away from the stress of home. But it wasn’t working. I came to the realization that in order for my time off to be truly mine, I had to leave everything (and everyone) at home.

Now when I go away, I leave my phone out of my sight (do I really need to know what my husband fed my kids for lunch?...not really, I’m sure it’s not nutritious and fast food, but I bet they’ll live), my projects stay at home (I know I need to deliver 24 sarcastic birthday cards to my store in Pike Place Market because my inventory is low, but I bet they’ll survive till next weekend) and my email stays unanswered (yes, it’s amazingly cool that Seif Al-Islam Gaddafi was caught, but I bet the news will be same on Monday when I get back). Because the true definition of vacation is a specific trip or journey, usually for the purpose of recreation. And I think we as a modern society have forgotten how to relax and view real recreation as a way to take a breather from the rest of what you are in the real world.

The most important thing I pack now? My pjs and my Nook. Because really, when was the last time you actually saw a mother of three sit down and read a book all day? And I bet if we don’t do it more often, we’ll be as extinct as the Dodo Bird.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Eid Mubarak!!! (puzzle)

Well it's finally here...Eid! What a great month this has been. It was a lot of hard work and fun making the crafts for Ramadan and I look forward to next year's challange.

Click here to read about our 30 days of Ramadan Crafty challenge or click on the tags on the right with the words Ramadan, craft tutorial or children and they should get you to the 30 crafts we made over the past month.

In celebration of Eid, I've created a Eid stamp puzzle for you to enjoy. Please be sure to stock up on these stamps when you are at the post office. They were beautifully created by Islamic calligrapher Mohammed Zakariya.

So Eid Mubarak everyone and enjoy this puzzle. The person with the best time will be mailed a Eid Mubarak card in time for the next Eid!

Online jigsaw puzzles from JigsawSite.com

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Allah Monogram Button Art Tutorial

This beautiful shadow box picture frame with the word Allah looks professionally made and complicated, but really it was very easy to do. I got the idea from all the initial monograms tutorials floating out there now.

There is a little bit of sewing, so I wouldn't have my four year old do it, but my nine year old loved this project.

 I was actually thinking of maybe doing the first Arabic letters of their names as birthday gifts next year.
Allah Monogram Button Art Tutorial by A Crafty Arab

Embroidery hoop
"Allah" printed on paper
Needle & Thread
Shadow box frame
Scrape fabric

Print out your image on a piece of paper and cut it out with scissors.

Attach your scrape fabric to embroidery hoop and pin cut out to scrape fabric. We used a glittered felt fabric that was a little stiff so that it would sit well in the frame afterwards. Plus it was glittered, so it added a little bit of sparkle!

Start placing your buttons over the word Allah and start sewing them in place. Don't worry about sewing over the paper as you'll get rid of it at the end.

Remove your fabric from the hoop and using tweezers remove the paper between the buttons. I would not recommend scissors since you run the chance of accidently cutting the thread that is holding the buttons. Attach to the shadow box frame and enjoy!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Crescent Moon Magnet

Crescent Moon Magnet Tutorial by A Crafty Arab
These little magnets are so much fun to make and give out as gifts. We made a green felt moon with a yellow felt star, but it might be cool to make them in all kinds of different colours. I used white embroidery thread, because I wanted you to see the blanket stitch, but it might be trendy to match the thread to the colour of the star you use.

You'll need
Felt in two colours
Embroidery thread
Crescent moon & Star template
Crescent Moon Magnet supplies

Pin the crescent moon template to the green felt fabric and cut out two pieces.

Pin the star template to the yellow felt fabric and cut out one piece.

Blanket stitch the two green crescent moon pieces to each other. Start at one of the ends so that later you can hang the moon from that end. Blanket stitching is very easy for kids to learn and it's okay if it looks uneven, it's their project. To learn how to blanket stitch, just head over to YouTube for some tutorials.

Once you go all the way around the side and come half way up the other side, stop to put some stuffing in one end of the moon.

After the stuffing, put in the magnet so that it is in the middle section of the moon.

Put a little bit more of the stuffing in the other end of the moon and sew all the way around. Once you get to the end, leave a little bit of embroidery thread hanging so that you can add the star. Sew a straight stitch in the star and go back up with the tread to the moon. Finish the knot and hide it in the back of the moon.

This craft is for a magnet for your kitchen or office and is not a toy. Please be sure to keep it out of reach of small children because of the chocking hazard.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Coin Felt Necklace

Coined jewelry is very big in the Arab world. Arab cultures have a practice of keeping large amounts of wealth stored in the form of jewelry. Brides would wear headpieces covered in coins. The coined jewelry was a financial investment, when times were tough, it was sold off to provide for their family. But when times were good, the women would add to her collection.

Even belly dancers would adorn hip scarves that had tiny coins that jingled when they danced. It was said that street dancers would sew the coins that were thrown at them when they danced in the street to show how successful and well liked they were.

Today we thought we'd be inspired by Arab coined jewelry and create a necklace with round felted pieces that looked like round coins. We hope you can make it too!

You'll need
Felt (four different colours)
Fabric Glue
Rubber Bands (Optional)
Embroidery thread
Thimble (Optional)
Buttons (Optional)

Cut a felt sheet into 5 x 4 rectangle and another contrasting colour in 5 x 3. Do the same with two other colours too.

Place smaller rectangle on top of larger rectangle and be sure to leave a 1/2 inch gap at both ends. Paste glue along the edge.

Roll up the felt from the glued edge.

Paste glue along the other edge and hold in place for a few minutes until the glue dries. If your little one is having a hard time holding the ends down until they dry, use rubber bands.

Lay your rolled felt piece along a ruler and make tiny marks on the 1/2 inch mark.

Cut your felt piece on these rolled marks.

Thread the beads onto the embroidery thread and needle to make the necklace.

You can also sew on buttons to some of the rolled felt beads for a fun contrast.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Henna Stencil Tshirt DIY Tutorial

I love to get my hands hennaed for weddings, festivals, Eids or really any reason to decorate myself.

Henna, or mehendi, refers to the dye prepared from a flowering plant and the art of temporary tattooing based on those dyes.  It has traditionally been used in North Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Personally I've never been a big fan of permeate tattoos (even though I grew up with a grandmother who had facial tribal tattoos) as they seem, well, permeate. But henna tattoos can be changed or placed on different body parts and only last for a few days.

If you are still torn about putting tattoos on your body, then  put them on a t-shirt!

For today's craft, my friend Rita, who owns Caravan Serai, had brought me back some tattoos stickers that you can put on your hand and just paste the henna over. So I thought it might be fun to see if the girls and I can use them to stencil over a t-shirt.
Henna Stencil Tshirt DIY Tutorial

Prewashed t-shirt
Cardboard sized to fit in the t-shirt
Fabric paint
Sponge brush
Henna sticker stencil

Put your stencil design under a piece of paper and trace over the outline. Cut out the outline.

Place your cardboard inside the shirt so that your fabric paint does not bleed through. Center the piece of paper in the center of your t-shirt and put your stencil in the middle of your cut out.

Take your paint brush, dip it into the paint and sponge the stencil. Cover the whole design with the paint.

Let dry and carefully remove stencil.

Here is a close up of our painted stencil.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Festive Sheep Tutorial for Eid

After we made our Star banner yesterday, we have a lot of left over tissue paper. We decided to make a festive sheep that will sit on our table to help us celebrate Eid!

Usually you see these sheep directions for white cotton balls for the sheep's coat. But our sheep is very excited about Eid and wanted a full color coat!

 And really, it's it much cuter in color?

Festive Sheep Tutorial for Eid by A Crafty Arab

Paper plate
Scrapes of colourful tissue paper
Black marker

Festive Sheep Supplies

Draw a sheep on your paper plate.

Crumble up your tissue paper. Try to make your tissue paper small so that you can fit more on your sheep body.

Place glue all over the inside of the sheep's body.

Place the crumbled pieces of tissue paper in a random pattern all over your sheep body.

Write Eid Mubarak over the sheep's body and enjoy your smiling sheep!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Star banner

Since Eid is so close, we have been trying to think up ways to decorate our house.

 We already have a bunch of Paper Lanterns around our dining room table, so we thought it might be nice to also make a star banner to go with them.

You'll need
5 colors of tissue paper*
Double sided tape
Star template (found online)
Take your star template and write a 1 in the middle and 2s all around the five points of the star.

Fold your tissue paper until you have an area that is slightly larger then your star. Place your star template over your tissue paper and with your pencil, trace your pattern.

Cut out your star from all the sheets of the tissue paper.

Do the same for your other four colours of tissue paper and lay them out in a line.

Take your first colour and place a dap of tape in the middle of your star (where your number 1 was on your template). Place the next star colour tissue over that star.

Place a dap of tape along the points of your star on the second start (where your number 2 was on your template).

Continue this pattern, taping on the 1s and then 2s until your star tissues are all done. Gently grab the first and last stars and pull them apart to see what your banner will look like. We stopped before we finished so we can take a photo for you, otherwise, our banner when we were done was much longer. You can keep going all around the room if you'd like!

*For a country celebration, try using the colours of your county flag.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ketupat Card Tutorial

Ketupat, or sometimes also called Malay rice dumpling, is a type of food from the Indonesian / Malaysian part of the world.

Since Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, with 86.1% of Indonesians being Muslim and Malaysia has made Islam the state religion with it's 60.4% of the population practicing Islam, we thought we would include something from that part of the world in our Ramadan challenge.

We took the shape of the Ketupat and made it into a card.

Double sided tape
2 shades of green cardstock
Paper cutter
Beige cardstock
Cut your beige cardstock to be 6x3 inch and cut both shades of green cardstock to one inch stripes.

Weave your lighter coloured green cardstock into 3 stripes of the dark green stripes.

Life up the outside edges of the light green cardstock and tape it down on the dark cardstock.

Flip the whole thing over and put three stripes of double sided tape all the way down woven stripes.

Put the beige cardstock on top of the taped woven cardstocks.

Cut off the excess stripes of paper that hang over the beige cardstock.

Glue the ribbon to the inside of the card.

Write a note and leave your card on a friend's front door knob.
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