Harry Potter Projects for All Ages


I have this niece who never tells anyone what she wants; she has 4 younger siblings, spends most her time caring for them, and was taught to never ask for anything. So she lets herself blend into the background, and when asked what she wants for a birthday or Christmas or even dinner, she shrugs. She turned 16 this weekend!

To find something that she would like, I had to stalk her on Pinterest. Looking through her interests to find crumbles that said things like: “I really like that.” “I wish that was mine.” “It would be nice to own that.” “I wish someone would surprise me with this.”

And one theme recurred throughout: She really wishes she could go to Hogwarts. So, my daughter and I did what we could to make that happen. If only for one day.

Of course, we started by raiding Hot Topic for Harry Potter gear that was on sale, and we didn’t want to make. Then, we gathered a truly astonishing list of resources to make the rest of the Hogwarts dreams come true. These were not my ideas, so expect lots of links.

Cheap cardbord and plastic 4x6 photo album purchased at Wal-mart for .97.

Cheap cardboard and plastic 4×6 photo album purchased at Walmart for .97.

Interior of the Lemon Squeezy's PDF.

Interior of the Lemon Squeezy’s PDF.

Start with a mini spell book. The Lemon Squeezy Shop on Craftsy created a PDF with spells already in a 4×6 format (for free): Harry Potter Spells. We downloaded that and printed it out on parchment stationary. Cut it out and placed it in an inexpensive cardboard and plastic 4×6 photo album that we found at Wal-mart.





All of the ingredients, plus a few more, labeled and ready for her use.

All of the ingredients, plus a few more, labeled and ready for her use.

Mrs. Nespy’s World featured a post about hosting a potions class. Complete with links to to the “potions recipes.” I downloaded her recipes, and then brought together everything my niece would need to create her own class. With three of her siblings much younger than her, she should have fun doing them. Plus, I looked on the Harry Potter wiki for other ingredients used in potions and created some extra bottles. For example, I used dyed glycerin green and called it Flobberworm Mucus. I had most of these containers beforehand. The few I needed, I was able to purchase for a couple of dollars at a craft store.


Painted boxes to hold the potion ingredients.

Painted boxes to hold the potion ingredients.

The potions needed a box to hold them in, and my daughter found these at the craft store for about $5 each. So we bought them, painted them up (I hate painting), added some hardware, and put all of the potion materials inside. My daughter decided to freehand a decorative box, and being unsatisfied with her Hogwarts logo we put a Hogwarts patch on top of it.



The book was the least favorite aspect of this project, and if I had allowed myself more time it might have turned out differently.

The book was the least favorite aspect of this project, and if I had allowed myself more time it might have turned out differently.

To hold her Hogwarts letter, the potion book, the spell book, and her platform ticket, we made her a box. Here is where my hatred of painting really comes in because it didn’t look good by the time we finished, but we needed to keep everything neat and tidy in the larger wrapped box. I used Dave Lowe Design technique. I just didn’t do a spectacular job.

My daughter made the Hogwarts letter by downloading the fonts. We used the letter text from a file sharing site, added a note about the tardiness of the letter, and included a list of the supplies she would need through year 5. We also added a post script that Owls couldn’t be used to deliver the letter due to Muggle’s discovery of magic. We found the platform ticket by doing an internet search, but I liked the quality of the one from Jessie from the blog best.


Wand box after it was finished with a layer of glossy mod podge.

We even made a description label for the wand.

We even made a description label for the wand.








Due to the small children living at her house, and their utter lack of respect for her things, I couldn’t make my niece a chopstick or more robust wooden wand. Instead, we made an Instructables featuring a sheet of paper and hot glue. For her wand box, I made just used two pieces of poster board. I made a 15×5 rectangle. I cut out 1×1 squares from the four corners. Taped it together, fit the two pieces together, and painted it. I used Ollivander’s wand box labels from another Instructable. For the interior I sewed a little bag, stuffed it, and then used some scrap organza as the protective cover.

Simple tote bag with fabric transfer. A shop in London sells this with screen printing.

Simple tote bag with fabric transfer.

Finally, Em added a pin for a Harry Potter tote bag. As she did this practically at the last-minute, I couldn’t just order her one from the London shop that makes them professionally. I made her one instead. I used the font site’s JPG letter generator and put them into Photoshop before printing the graphic out on fabric transfer paper. The bag is just a simple tote bag with a lining and a boxed bottom.

Comic Book Magazine Files


finishedoliverboxI found a set of 5 cardboard magazine files at Ikea for $1.50. That’s a deal that can’t be beat, and I was in need of portable storage for my sewing books. So I purchased them knowing I could do something to make them more visually interesting.

I decided to cut cover them in comic book panels. And of course, it was very easy and quick to have a few covered magazine files. Basically, you’ll put your magazine file together, cut out some comic panels, glue them down, and add a final sealing layer of glue to finish.

What you’ll need:

  • Mod Podge or other Decoupage glue (I used glossy)
  • Magazine files like Flyt from Ikea
  • Comic books or magazines for images. The thinner the paper you use the better it will fold and adhere to the box
  • Sponge or paint brush to apply glue

First, you’ll need a comic book to cut your images from. I initially chose Green Arrow and Hulk. Green Arrow because he’s been my favorite for 10 years, and in my zealous collecting I have duplicates of his books from various ages. The Hulk because I raided the dollar comicbin to decoupage a pair of shoes a while back, and I still had some good issues. After I started, the daughter wanted a Captain America box, of course, remember her curtains?Point is pick your favorite character and hit either your duplicates or a cheapbin at the local comic shop, don’t spend very much on this stage, or the project will suddenly be very expensive.

Flip through the book you are cannibalizing to make sure you’ll have enough to cover your box. While I love Ollie, his books had a lot of dark panels that didn’t suit the project, and I had to cut from several to get enough to cover the boxes. The Hulk, on the other hand, pretty much allowed me to retell the story from a single comic, and all of the images came from it. I even had a panel where Betty kisses Hulk. Score! I couldn’t find a good panel of Dinah and Ollie together in the grouping I had. Sniff!

Gather a group of panels together that will line the box.

Gather a group of panels together that will line the box.

These panels are ones I really liked. So I set them aside to highlight the file box.

These panels are ones I really liked. So I set them aside to highlight the file box.

I even laid out the panels in a attractive order over my magazine file before applying the glue.

I even laid out the panels in an attractive order over my magazine file before applying the glue. Overlapping and planning how you will address the edges and corners is a must. I planned on bending around the sides as uneven layers. Of course, I didn’t end up gluing the panels down exactly the way I planned. Oh well!

The comics I used were from the early 1990s and so they were made of newsprint. When glue is applied, the newsprint, and other thin paper, becomes very pliable. It folds well over the edges and around corners nice and flat, but it you want to add dimension it takes to that as well too. Just make sure that when you finish laying your panels down that you go over them one last time with a layer of glue. Once that layer is down add your “standout” panels and glue them down as well. Again covering the paper with glue over the top.

One last layer of Mod Podge gives the box a bit of extra stability and seals all the edges.

One last layer of Mod Podge gives the box a bit of extra stability and seals all the edges.

After the glue has dried, sit back and enjoy your handiwork.

All the glue dried clear and shiny giving the panels a vibrancy that didn't have before.

All the glue dried clear and shiny giving the panels a vibrancy that didn’t have before.

Let’s Drink: Attack On Titan Mocktails


attackontitanDuring winter, my productivity goes down dramatically. And even when I do work, I let things stockpile. That’s my obnoxious way of excusing myself for the stockpile of projects and ideas I have let set for last three months. I want to end that today starting with sharing the mocktail recipes I made, or adapted, for an Attack On Titan themed New Year’s Party. Feel free to adapt these, and change the names, to suit your event. Mileage may vary:

Eren Jaegerbomb:
1 oz Grenadine
8 oz Dr. Pepper
Splash Bitters, or just a tiny bit more
In serving glass, mix Dr. Pepper and Grenadine. Add splash Bitters, allow to settle for 10-20 seconds, and serve.

I can’t promise your guests will end up liking the Eren Jaegerbomb. It starts off as a refreshing drink, but when the bitters hit, it is like a bomb going off in your mouth. Half the guests like it, but the other half were shocked by the bitters.

Sasha’s Slammer:
4 oz Flavored Ginger Ale
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Strawberry Extract
2 oz. Sweet and Sour Mix
Splash Grenadine
Mix Extracts, Sweet and Sour, and Grenadine. Pour over Ginger Ale and Ice. Serve.

Wings of Freedom
4 oz. WoF Mix (recipe below)
Coconut Flakes
Canned Whipped Cream

Prior to the party, make the WoF mix by pureeing one can of chopped pineapple with juice, one can of cream of coconut, and blue food coloring. If this mix is too thick for your taste, add pineapple juice until the thickness you like. Store in refrigerator until needed.

Blend WoF mix and ice in blender until smooth – add to glass that has been rimmed in honey and coconut. Top with whipped cream.

For adults, add rum to make a pina colada.

Mikasa’s Medley
1 oz Apple Juice
1 oz Simple Syrup
1 tsp Crème de Menthe
1 tsp Molasses
6 oz Orange Juice
Start by thinning Molasses with Apple Juice. Then add simple syrup, crème de menthe, and orange juice. Serve over ice.

If serving to adults, the apple juice and molasses can be replaced with rum.
Armin’s Plan
6 oz Cranberry Juice
4 oz Flavored Ginger Ale
Dash of Lime
Mix ingredients together. Add sparkler, light, and enjoy.

For a safer, and much sweeter option, add rock candy on a stick instead of the sparkler. I was serving teenagers that err on the side of caution in general.
Death by Titan
3 oz Death by Titan Mix (recipe included)
1 oz Kicker (Colossal: Margarita Mix; Armored: Crème de Menthe; Female: Cherry Syrup)
Ginger Ale or Club Soda

Prior to party, combine any number of fresh or frozen fruits together in blender on puree setting. (For example, I used fresh strawberries, frozen raspberries, and a frozen fruit mix of papaya, mango, and pineapple. You want the mixture to a little chunky or gritty. If you want the mixture sweeter, add sugar. And if you want it a little thinner, add ginger ale or club soda during this step until consistency that you like. Keep refrigerated until needed.
Mix DbT Mix and Kicker together in glass. Add ice. Then, add Ginger Ale or Club Soda until glass is full. Top with Whipped Cream.

Feel free to adapt and rename these mocktails for your personal use. There is no rule that says Wings of Freedom can’t be renamed Elsa’s Surprise for a Disney themed party. It’s what I would do. :)

I have included a decorative menu, I used for the teenagers to ask for what they wanted: attackontitanmocktails

Christmas Card Wall Display


spideyboardI like to be able to see the Christmas cards I receive throughout the holiday season, but I’ve never really had a great place to display them. In previous years, I have taped a length of festive ribbon on the wall and taped the cards on the ribbon as I opened them. This year, though, I saw a Christmas card display, but it was rustic and country and powder slate blue (?). In my opinion: ugly.

I was just going to steal the idea carte blanche: find a wood frame I like. Print, find, or make a holiday picture. Drill some holes in the frame and tie ribbon between the holes. Put the picture in the frame and hang on the wall. But then, I remembered that I can’t be trusted with power tools, so that idea was out.

Instead, I went with quick and easy. For your very own card display you’ll need:

  • Foam board – cut in square dimensions of your choosing. I used 14X14. Bigger would have worked well. You could also buy Design Foam, but I find that a tad expensive.
  • Low-loft/craft batting – cut the same size as your foam board
  • Fabric – cut 2 inches larger than the foam board
  • Ribbon
  • Mini-clothes pins
  • Embellishments – stickers, buttons, washi tape, paint
  • Glue gun with glue

First, you will need to cut everything to the appropriate size. I used 14×14 foam board, so I cut my batting to 14×14 and my fabric to 16×16.

gluebattingGlue the batting to the foam board and let dry.

sewribbonThe next step is completely optional, I sewed ribbon to the edges of the fabric, so I didn’t have to rely on glue to keep it in place later.

corners glueboard








Then, glue the ribbon and fabric to the board. Fold the corners neatly to keep the fabric from bunching. Let dry.

clothespinsDecorate the clothes pin in a fashion that makes you happy. Pin to the ribbon.

finishedproductHang everything up on a wall or rest against a mantle or shelf. Enjoy your holiday cards all season.

Quick Christmas Craft

Decorative Christmas letters to display in the house. I like things organized and matching, but that doesn't have to be you.

Decorative Christmas letters to display in the house. I like things organized and matching, but that doesn’t have to be you.

I admit Christmas is not my favorite holiday for decorating, and in the past the house has shown it. A lot of lackluster stuff thrown together to make it look like Christmas. This year I figured I would try something new and put some effort in. If I am going to lose my sewing machine space to a Christmas tree I might as well spruce up the rest of the house with some small items.

The first craft I want to share is super easy. So if you want to make your own you’ll need:

Embellishments: buttons, gems, paper, stickers, and the like
E6000 or another equally caustic and high adhesive gluePaint
Modge Podge High Shine or similar finishing spray

christmascraft1The rest is pretty easy. Paint your letters. Let dry. Glue the elements you want on the letters in place. Let dry. Spray with finishing spray. Let dry. Display!

How to Set Up Live Action Clue with Example Documents


My daughter and her friends love playing murder mystery games at parties. They embrace donning of a persona that is not their own; they are all cosplayers, so this isn’t a revelation. The problem with the typical murder mystery game is it is set for a certain number of players and if someone doesn’t show up, then there is a hole in the game, or someone has to play multiple roles. And due to the scripted nature of these games, they are only really fun the first time. For these reasons, this year I decided the teenagers should play a live-action game of Clue. Attractively with Clue, if someone had to cancel at the last minute I didn’t have to rewrite an entire script. An absentee suspect could still be included in the deck, or removed, with ease.

With my decision made, I turned to the internet for ideas. To be honest, there were several sites that gave anywhere from 50-75% of the rules and set up each of these groups used. None of them fully explained what they did, which is exactly what I hope to do with my posts. I want others to be able to easily play a game and not be left wondering what does something mean. I have broken my master game document into bite-sized PDFs. Hopefully this manner can show others how we played the game.

It seems like a lot of work, but the guests had a wonderful time and could have easily played the game again.

Setting Up The Game:

  1. Send out invitations to your guests. You should request a RSVP. Either assign each of your guests a character or allow the guests to select a character. We encouraged everyone to choose a character and dress up as that person, which they did. No one could play the same character for obvious reasons.
  2. Decide how many rooms and weapons your game will feature. We used an equal number of rooms and weapons as we had suspects. That worked well for our group – 11 girls – but it might not for everyone.
  3. Write a detailed motive for each of the characters. Decide how many parts you want to divide the motives into. We used three-part motives. It certainly isn’t required to use the rest of the game though. The motives need to be put on cards – I made cards in Word using SmartArt tools, but index cards would work just as well.
  4. Make at least one set of “Suspicion cards” for the weapons, rooms, and suspects. We used two sets to speed up play. One set we distributed amongst the guests just like one would do in tabletop Clue; the other set we shared amongst the two “game masters.” We made doubly sure that the solution was removed from both decks before dealing them.
  5. Make a poster board for each room. The name of the room should be clearly displayed. Then, write a non-malicious rumor about one of the character’s (not player’s) on the board. We did this to spark ideas in the guests. The rumor board ended up being one of the favorite things the girls did. One of them asked if she take home a board that had a rumor about her character that she enjoyed. After the game, everyone claimed a board to take home and took turns writing more rumors about the specific characters on the boards. I wish I had the foresight to photograph the final products.
  6. Create a chart to keep track of the score. We used foam board and created a grid with columns.
  7. Create “packets” for each player. In the packets include a full copy of their motive, a detective’s notebook, an accusation sheet, and anything else you want them to have.
  8. Decide on the amount of fun money that each player needs to begin with and distribute it. We gave everyone $55 to start.
  9. If you break up into groups and have multiple “game masters” make sure that each game master understands the rules and the order of turns. Also, agree in advance the order that each game master is going to take through the rooms.

I am linking to the materials I created, feel free to copy/paste and adapt what you need.

Live Action Clue Murder Mystery: The rules
Detective Notebook: A notebook similar to the one found in a tabletop edition of Clue.
Accusation Sheet:
Chaos Phase Examples: A PDF of examples of the Chaos Phase. These may not work for your group.
Player Cheat Sheets: Each player was given a copy of their motive and examples of how telling rumors would work.
Suspicion Cards: Due to time constraints on my part, all of the cards for the game were created using Microsoft Word. The SmartArt Tools had many options for designs to choose from and made creating the cards quick because everything could be done with a click. However, other programs could work or index cards.
Motive Cards: I made the motive cards using the same tool as the Suspicion cards. I made sure they were shaped very differently than the Suspicion cards though. Also, each Game Master had an entire set of Motive Cards to encourage the players to spend their money.