Friday, December 30, 2011

New Years Eve Fun!

 We had a wonderful visit with my very sweet and very creative sister-in-law, Alicia, over the holiday break. Emma adores her and I do too! Isn't it wonderful when you get married and you get so many other lovely people that jump into your life along with the awesome husband!
Alicia made this adorable candy necklace with Emma. She used chocolate wheels covered in sprinkles and threaded them onto yarn. They are so pretty. I thought they would be much better to wear on New Years Eve instead of the usual celebratory plastic beads. We shall see if they make it to midnight.

 Now that we are dressed for the party, we can't forget the noise makes. As if I don't have enough noise makers in this house already, I decided to load them up and allow them to be even louder on the last day of a great year.
We filled cans, plastic eggs and cups with dried beans and peas. Then sealed them with masking or duct tape. For the plastic cup we added some pretty trinkets since it is clear and we also covered the top with aluminum foil before covering with tape to make it that much louder.
We are all set for our big celebration tomorrow. It has been such a wonderful year and I look forward to another beautiful year with this family! Love you all more than words can describe.
Happy New Year my friends! Wish you all many blessings and much love in 2012!
green owl mama

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Natural Stacking Cups

 Yesterday we finished up our last gifts just in time. We have two sweet little additions in our family this year. Both my sister and sister-in-law had baby boys over the summer and this Christmas will be so wonderful as we celebrate such amazing blessings that have joined our family.
Jolly old Saint Nicholas is almost 7 months old and has a head of  hair I can only dream of and Bryson is about 5 months now and is just about ready to start playing for the NFL. Oh how I love these boys.
We all know about babies and their need to stack, so we made these adorable natural wood stacking cups. I ordered the wooden flower pots on ebay. They were the biggest I could find, just shy of two inches. I wanted to paint them, but keep them safe for those baby mouths so I made paint with food coloring. I mixed about five drops of food color with a tablespoon or so of water. This all depends on how dark or light you want your cups to come out. I love seeing the natural wood grain through the paint. Emma took her time to paint each one for her baby cousins, let them dry and we had Grayson do a test drive. He enjoyed these so much that I just placed an order for some more flower pots. He stacked and re-stacked them over and over again.This is a great toy for many stages.
I wish you all a wonderful Christmas full of many blessings.

xoxo, Green Owl Mama

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Little Brother Gift- Race Car Derby

Recently when browsing the local hardware store the kids became fascinated with dryer vent. They would drop anything they could get their hands on down the tubes and laugh hysterically as the items came flying out the other side.  I made a mental note of this for when it came time to make our Christmas gifts.
Without a plan Emma and I got to work on Grayson's Christmas gift from his big sister. We had foam board, masking tape, 1 tube of dryer vent, a cutting knife and markers. A race car derby was in our future.
First we folded the foam board in half and traced the dryer vent openings twice on each side. the holes need to be lined up, so cutting out the first side works best. Next use the cutting knife to cut the holes out, they need to be a bit larger then the outline, so cut around the line. Now the fun part for your little ones....time to decorate. Use markers to make it special and fun for the gift receiver. We stuck with the car theme. Cut the dryer vent in half and put through the foam board. On the back use masking tape to secure the tubes in place and additional masking tape to hold your foam board in half. That's all, time to race! We included a couple of cars from Grayson's car collection in the gift, after all he is one and will not think twice about the re-gifted cars.

Grayson was still napping when we finished...perfect time to test out our derby!! It was so much fun that Emma asked if we could give it to him early, but we decided hiding it in the closet until Christmas was best.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Candles for Winter Solstice and gifts

Thursday is the first day of winter, the shortest day of the year, winter solstice. We will celebrate by lighting candles in the evening to represent light and warmth on this winter day. We will make some warm comfort food for dinner and do an offering to our wintering animals. Unfortunately we do not live in a forest, so we will offer our neighbors cat, Potter, a warm blanket to sleep on and offer the birds and squirrels some seeds and nuts to stock up their food supply. We have also made a warm scarf to bring to an elderly neighbor. What a wonderful day this will be as we celebrate winter.

We made these sweet candles by just gluing coffee beans and twigs on votive candles. Some we wrapped for gifts and the others will be lit on Thursday evening. The coffee beans and vanilla candle combo smells amazing. You can get creative with these candles, they make wonderful gifts. Roll them in glitter for a festive look or use a larger candle and glue cinnamon sticks to it. For a pretty centerpiece simply pour the coffee beans into a glass vase and add the candle to the center. Cranberries would also be pretty for this.
While our candles were drying Emma found another use for the coffee beans and some yummy smelling gingerbread playdough she received from a friend at school. I never thought coffee beans could be so exciting. Children are just amazing, love the simple joy they have.
Happy Winter Solstice!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Felt Christmas Tree

Our family gatherings always include lots of games and crafts. I thought a felt tree would be fun for the kids this year. Last night I cut a tree and ornaments out of felt, this will go on the children's table and they can decorate and redecorate as much as they want. I can't wait to see all those little hands over this tree. I had planned on having Emma fancy up the ornaments with glitter glue today, but she was so excited to play with the tree when she saw it that the glitter glue never happened. It still looks great just as it is.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Homemade Gifts- No-Slip Socks!

No-slip socks came out so adorable and Emma was very excited to make these for her cousins last night. I think this project may have been her all time favorite art project. So much love is going into our gifts this year and I love it! Emma put so much thought into the colors, fabrics and every detail for each person. It just makes me happy.
What you need:
Socks- prewashed
fabric paint (the kind in writing bottles)

Use a shoe to trace a foot shape onto the cardboard and cut out. You will need several of these to make a few pairs of socks. Put your cardboard into each sock and get to work painting being sure you are painting the bottom of the sock. The socks will need to dry overnight.

Emma enjoyed making these so much that I thought it would make a great gift to give a set of these paints along with solids tees, socks and a canvas bag. I think any kid would love to design their own clothing. How fun!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Homemade Gifts- Jars!

I can't tell you how many mason jars I go through over the holiday season. They are so great for homemade gifts. You can make craft jars for kids adding stickers, crayons, glue sticks, gems and kraft sticks or all the supplies for a specific craft with instructions attached. You can do yummy jars like cookie mixes, chocolate covered pretzels or fudge. The possibilities are endless and everything looks so adorable in these jars topped with fabric and ribbon.
This year I did hot chocolate jars using Paula Deen's recipe.
I printed instructions on card stock and tied them onto the jar with a candy cane, marshmallows in a cello bag and for my hot cocoa spikers out there I included a cute little bottle of Kahlua.
I also did a kool aid playdough jar. This is fun because the mix looks white and when the water gets added it turns to the bright kool aid color and smells great! Children seem to love that.
For this jar add 1 1/4 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of salt and one kool aid packet (the sugarless little packets) to the jar. Then just add a label or tag to the jar with these instructions...

Magic Color Playdough
Dear Friend, 
Empty this jar into a large mixing bowl. 
Have a grown-up add 3/4 cup of boiling water 
and 3 tsp. of oil to the bowl. 
Mix until a ball forms and knead on a floured surface.
Enjoy your playdough!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Homemade Gifts- Toddler Chef

We finished our gift for a sweet little one year old today. We made a box full of bakery fun!
First I made the sweetest little felt cookies. I do not like to sew, but these are very simple and easy to do with felt sheets and an embroidery needle and thread. I cut out rounds of felt, different toppings and used cotton balls to fill them. We got a simple box that Emma painted polka dots on using the cap to a water bottle. We found a teeny tiny apron at the fabric store and an adorable apple applique that is just an iron simple! Emma did the same polka dots on the apron with fabric paint.

Lastly I added a couple little wood tools, wooden spoons, measuring spoons and a bottle of sprinkles that I emptied and added tissue confetti to. Is this cute or what!? Perfect for the sweet one year old in your life.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Homemade Gifts- THE Scarf

 A few years ago I was introduced to the magic that is fleece. Yes, the no needle, no thread, NO SEW fabric! My family now owns fleece blankets, fleece hats, fleece doll clothes.......and fleece scarves, but it is the softest, warmest, cuddle up next to, best fabric ever. I thought these scarves needed to be revisited because they are just so pretty and when I was thinking of something homemade for Emma's teachers I thought these would be perfect.

What you need:
fleece-1/4 of a yard makes one scarf
thick yarn, cut into 12" pieces

If you buy a 1/4 of a yard it the perfect measurement and you won't have to worry about cutting a semi-straight line later. Another tip I have for cutting at home is to ask the fabric store for one of their fabric cardboard rolls to use as a guide. Once you have your fabric the right size cut the selvage (that's the bottom end that usually has wording on it) off the ends.
Now you want to cut slits on each end. They need to be pretty small maybe about 1/8 of an inch and do it all the way across, a pinky width apart each slit. Once this is done on both sides of the scarf you are ready for your yarn.
Take a piece of yarn, fold in half, put the loop through the slit and pull the bottom of the yarn up and through creating a loop knot.That's it, continue that all the way across and on both ends. Now wrap that pretty scarf up for someone special in your life.

Oh and what was Emma doing while I was scarf making, well, making scarves with the selvage pieces for her animals of course.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Nativity Set

Emma and I finished our wooden peg nativity sets yesterday. I have to say it was the most enjoyable afternoon sitting outside painting our little peg people while Grayson played in the yard. I only had to pull the baby Jesus out of his mouth one time, I consider that a successful afternoon of crafting.
What we used:
wooden peg people ( I ordered them online at Casey's Wood, but Micheal's carries these as well)
paints (we used liquid water colors)
felt or foam sheets
milk carton
tissue paper

We painted our people first. Emma was ecstatic she got to use my "big girl water colors" as she calls them.  We painted on the clothing and hair, but used sharpies for the faces. For the angel wings we used a silver glitter foam sheet and for the lambs ears we used a black foam sheet and attached both with tacky glue. We wrapped baby Jesus in a felt blanket. For my stable I found an old Melissa & Doug food crate we had and for Emma's we cut a milk carton in half using the top potion. We attempted to paint it brown, which didn't work so well and ended up sticking tissue paper squares to it.

These are so special to us especially because we made them together. I will be saving Emma's set for a very long time.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tree Branch Art, Christmas Star

I take the children out for nature walks pretty often. Sometimes we are just on our way to the store or sometimes we head to the park. Whenever we take walks I try and give them a theme to be searching for. For example things that a bird would use to build a home, nature treasures (it's amazing to see the simple things that children consider treasures,) special get the idea. I think it is important for children to soak up all the beauty that is around them and learn to appreciate and open their eyes to things that we pass everyday and sometimes take for granted. We went out to collect natural art supplies after the wind storms last week. We collected lots of branches, pine cones and even tree stumps which we will turn into little outdoor chairs...eventually.
Yesterday we put those branches to good work turning them into Christmas stars. While Emma was at school I used yarn to connect the branches into star forms. When she got home she was thrilled to see the stars along with mod podge and glitter. She used a foam brush to cover the branches with the mod podge and then went to town with the glitter! After they dried we hung them with holiday ribbon and twine. We thought the perfect spot for these was next to our holiday cards on the chalk board.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Homemade Gifts- Memory

This year we are really trying to do as many homemade gifts as we can. I think it is important to show children that not everything comes from the "big red bulls eye." By creating gifts with their own hands, creativity and lots of love it allows them to appreciate the process of making something special for each person they love and removes the commercial big box store out of this holiday (well, at least for the kids.) Take that marketers! You will not take over my child's imagination with your psychedelic million dollar campaigns!

We made our own memory game this week using these sweet little wood kraft rounds, stamps and a little wooden box to hold it all. Took us under ten minutes to complete. A very special little girl in our lives is going to love this.