Crafts and Hobbies

Play with Clay

The easiest way is to use a polymer clay to create creatures and more. This modern marvel is already made up in bright colors and is very quick to assemble. It's your best choice if you have only a day to complete a project. Don't underestimate the value of pure fun and where it can take you. Polymer clay creations Wallace and Gromit have gone on to win Academy Awards!

Hands-on Colonial Crafts

Chances are if you are studying colonial times, your teacher will assign a hands-on project. You could make a model of the Jamestown Fort or a copy of the Declaration of Independence-but why not try a craft that the colonists themselves would have done?

Every colonial family except for the very rich had to be able to make their own soap, candles, furniture, cloth, baskets, toys, and musical instruments. Below is one practical craft to try. Scroll down and check our lists of books and Web sites for more ideas.

Games for Everyone

Counter-culture revolutionary that I’m not, I am nonetheless always on the lookout for media that has been produced outside the mainstream. The catchall term for such media is “indie,” though such a mass grouping for what is actually a very diverse market is woefully oversimplified. But you get the idea:

I Thought YOU Packed the Water Bottles

Due to the stupidity revealed in this story, our names have been changed to protect our identities. My husband, Ed, will henceforth be referred to as "Herb," and I will be "Sally." Herb and I are experienced hikers. We've read A Walk in the Woods.

The Subject Is Roses

If you are asked to visualize a flower in your mind, chances are, you will visualize a rose. You can find roses in a child's drawing, grandmother's wallpaper and the family room’s sofa. Roses have been loved for thousands of years, throughout many civilizations.

Shells: Jewels from the Sea

Shells litter the beaches of every continent on our planet. They are durable enough to be used as building material, but they are so compelling that societies have featured their motifs in religion, art, and architecture. Many varieties of shellfish have the additional virtue of being delicious!

Making Time for Thank-You Notes

One of the most important things to teach children about the holidays is how to express their thanks for what they have received. Plan to set aside a few hours to have fun and give thanks.

Tips for Timely Thank-You's

Santa shouldn't be the only one making lists. In the excitement of opening presents, cards have a tendency to get lost very quickly. Have a sheet of paper and pen handy to jot down the givers, the gifts, and the receivers. No need to make a production of it, but this list will come in so very handy later on.

Ride for a Lifetime

In a world filled with SUV's, ever-rising gas prices, and hotels that cater to their customers' perceived desires to be surrounded by plush conveniences, some eccentric souls will look for opportunities to kick back, simplify, and enjoy a break from the daily smog-encrusted rush.

On a bicycle, the world seems a different place. It certainly moves at a different pace, faster than on foot but slow enough to experience the sweet fulfillment of the day. Getting back on a bike after many years is a pleasure you should not put off.

Creating Your Holiday Newsletter

Etiquette purists may shudder at a mass-produced family newsletter, but in these days of friends and family spread across the country, a newsletter can be an effective way to spread cheery news. After all, how much verbiage CAN you fit on a (mass-produced) holiday card?

In this age of free downloadable templates, digital photos, and inexpensive scanners, there's no reason not to try out a little technology to turn a yearly chore into a relatively enjoyable electronic tradition.

Some Tips for a Better Family Newsletter:

Knitting for Knewbies

A ball of yarn and a pair of knitting needles—that’s all the equipment you need to take up the fine craft of knitting. Need to know how? Our Salem Church and John M. Porter branches have monthly meetings for both beginning and experienced knitters.