Monday, November 28, 2011

Advent Tree

Exhale....and on to Christmas! The day after Thanksgiving it is tradition in our home to get our Christmas tree, put lights up and turn on the Christmas tunes! Ahhh, it really is the most wonderful time of the year!
It seemed only appropriate that we start off the week with a Christmas craft that will be used for the month or at least 24 days of the month. A few weeks ago I came across a bag of coin roll wrappers at the dollar store. I frequent the dollar store for art supplies very often, you never now what you may find useful there especially when you are doing crafts often with little ones. Anyway, I grabbed this bag of coin wrappers and hoped to find a good use for them. Well, this weekend we did, we made Advent Tress! This was a lot of fun and so much anticipation for December 1st to arrive now. Of course as soon as we finished these adorable trees Grandpa strolls in with the very large chocolate a day Advent calendar from Trader Joe's. Oh well, I really don't think Emma and Grayson mind having too many "candy a day" options to open.

What you need:
24 coin wrappers
tacky glue (elmers is not strong enough)
green paint
pom-poms, gems, stickers, beads (anything to decorate the tree)
small candy (tootsie rolls and sixlets worked well)

First you will start by gluing the coin rolls into a tree form. This has to dry for a couple hours after so you may want to do this step the night before and have it ready to decorate in the morning. Once your tree is dry let your child paint it green, this will also need to dry for a bit before adding ornaments. Use beads, pom poms, dried pasta, glitter, ribbon and anything else around the house that can be glued on that tree to make it shine!  Add your star to the top. We painted a wood star yellow, but you could even just cut one out of paper and use craysons to color it. Once everything is decorated and dry fill the rolls with candies to be enjoyed for 24 days of December. Let the count down begin!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Playdough

This will be the last Thanksgiving craft before I have to dive into my kitchen and get to work. If you do only one, this is the one to do. I don't think anyone can resist playing with this yummy smelling pumpkin pie playdough. On Thanksgiving day you can put this festive dough out for the children along with some mini pie tins and fun kitchen tools. I promise you will get a lot more cooking done this way. We made a batch to bring to our school Thanksgiving celebration. I put the dough in mini pie tins, wrapped in a cello bag and printed out recipe cards to tie to each bag.

Pumpkin Pie Playdough
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 cup water
orange food color (or 2 parts yellow, 1 part red)

Add all ingredients to a pot. Add food color until you get the desired color. Cook and stir constantly over medium heat until a large ball forms. Knead on a floured surface until smooth. Let cool and pass on to the kids to enjoy!

We are thankful for art and pumpkin spice today! Happy Thanksgiving!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving Napkin Rings

Amongst the sea of canned pumpkin, crinkled up recipes from years ago, foil pans, good china and autumn scented candles I sat with Emma this afternoon, drank tea (you must try candy cane green tea from Trader Joe's, it's decaf, great for those tea loving kids like mine) and made napkin rings to be used at our Thanksgiving dinner. With lots of anticipation for Thursday I look forward to all the days leading up to the big day just as much. I love all the preparation and cooking with my family more than anything. Today I feel blessed for such an amazing family. A husband I can call my best friend, babies that bring me utter happiness, a sister who knows me better than I know myself, brothers who I always will look up to, parents who show me so much love to this day and all my in-laws on both sides who were meant to be a part of my family even when we didn't know each other. I am thankful for them all.
Now to the napkin rings.

What you need:

pipe cleaner

We used brown beads and brown pipe cleaner. I also used a few leaf shaped buttons that I had found in our trinket box. Thread your beads on the pipe cleaner and twist off leaving a circle big enough to pull your napkin through. If you have space you can just twist the remaining pipe cleaner around it self, if not just snip it off. That's all. Very simple and I think that came out looking pretty nice.

Enjoy and I wish you all many thankful's in your life.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pretty Turkey!

The countdown has begun before our house turns into a cooking extravaganza. Before we put our aprons on we have a few Thanksgiving crafts to get to. These turkeys were so fun to make and turned out adorable.

What you need:
contact paper
scrapbook paper
wine corks
googly eyes
tacky glue

First cut your contact paper into a half circle about 4 or 5 inches long. Peel off the paper so the sticky side is exposed and let your child stick all sorts of colorful things to it. We used scrapbook paper squares and feathers. I think tissue paper would work well too. Once the contact paper is covered you can glue on the cork, eyes and beak. For the feet we cut a piece of felt into a heart and glued it to the bottom of the cork. Enjoy your pretty turkey!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cheerio Fun!

Yesterday I came across a very huge box of cinnamon Cheerios, I know, who knew there was such a thing? Well, of course this ended up being the only thing to possibly keep my monkey of a one year old seated in the shopping cart for longer than thirty seconds. When we got home with enough Cheerios to feed the neighborhood I knew we must make some Cheerio art!
I dumped some into a big container, tossed some shovels and bowls in and Grayson was very excited to eat, shovel, crunch and throw these wonderfully smelling little guys all over the place. What a great sensory experience for the little ones.
For Emma, I pulled out the mortar and pestle and let her get to work. This is one of her favorite tools. She crushed until she could crush no more. Once she was done we used some glue and made Cheerio pictures. They smell great! This was a great way to keep both kids entertained at once and have a little snack at the same time.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I keep getting asked for my slime recipe. So here it is...

This photo is from our first batch we made when Emma was about two years old. Since then I can not tell you how many times we have made this. It is a lot of fun and keeps the kids busy for a very long time. Emma likes to use cookie cutters and some other kitchen utensils with this.
Fair warning: This stuff doesn't stick to anything until your child uses all force to get it stuck to her pretty new sweater or uses it as a cushion on the rug. Then you curse me for ever giving you such a recipe. I usually have Emma shirtless while playing with this stuff and limited to the kitchen. Don't let that discourage you though, this slime is really so much fun to play with.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Paper, plastic, glass.....ART!

Today we spent the afternoon decorating a box that we will add to our line up of recycling bins. It's purpose is for anything that we can recycle and use for art. I decided this would be a good idea after running out of places to hide paper towel rolls and jars. So many things can have a second life in your art projects. Besides the paper rolls and jars other things that are great to reuse for art are berry baskets, milk containers (all sorts and sizes,) egg crates, mint tins, newspaper, pretty wrapping paper (can be reused as scrapbook paper) and really anything that you can cut, paste, glue and color! It's fun to see what Emma chooses to go into the "art" box.
We also put some newspaper to good use this weekend for a special someones birthday. Using newspaper for gifts is more affordable, creative and earth friendly. You can dress it up with stickers and ribbon. Emma had such pride in this wrapping after spending the morning making it herself.
Go create a beautiful recycled piece of art today!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Martinmas Celebration

We celebrated Martinmas for the first time last year after a friend had filled me in on the wonderful story and celebration. It was a wonderful evening to spend as a family, but this year Emma can understand the meaning of the story now which makes it so much more meaningful for all of us.
We read the story together today as we made our lanterns. I told Emma it would be her job to tell Daddy the story and what it was we were celebrating. I find this to be very helpful in teaching her. She listened very seriously taking it all in to be sure to get every detail back to Daddy. We also talked about ways we can help someone less fortunate on this special day. We decided that we would donate some warm clothing to someone in need. Emma said she would give her entire jacket to a little girl because she did not want to keep half (if you read the story you are likely having a laugh.)
We made lanterns using glass jars and squares of colored tissue paper. We painted them on with glue that we watered down. For the handles we used floral wire. To keep Grayson safe (glass and fire, not so good for a one year old) and also a part of our lantern walk I cut the top off of a plastic water bottle and had him fill it with the tissue squares (flames.) He was happy he got to craft along with us. I punched holes in the bottle to add a handle for him.
Tomorrow we will donate some clothing, cook dinner together and before our lantern walk Emma will tell us the story of Martin. I plan to make this a permanent tradition in our home. I hope you will too.

The story
Some good info on the festival

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Harvest Wreath

With just a few weeks left until we start transforming our home into a beautiful winter wonderland we decided to make some harvest wreaths to decorate for our big Thanksgiving gathering. I had planned on making a big one for the front door with an old plain wreath I have already and I always like to include Emma in any crafting I am doing, so, I found these cute little branch wreaths that she could decorate. We gathered little fall trinkets, buttons and flowers (I will post how to make those darling little felt flowers later.) I used hot glue and Emma used tacky to attach everything onto the wreaths. I also added a wood A to mine to give it a little personal touch. We used twine and ribbon to hang them. Emma was very proud of this project and she used hers to decorate her room. I think those little wreaths would also make a great base to hold a candle. Happy fall crafting friends!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Calming Jar

I saw this somewhere a few months back and thought it was the perfect solution to replace time-outs. If your child is like mine and time-outs only cause a bigger eruption of emotions and never seem to work the way intended this can be a great tool. When Emma needs a moment to herself (to put it nicely) I ask her to sit with her calm down jar for a few minutes and come find me when she sees most of the glitter fall to the bottom. She usually starts off by giving it a good shake, this helps get some of that frustration out. Then she sits mesmerized by all the glitter falling to the bottom. By the time I get my over tired and emotional child back, she is ready for a cuddle. Yes, it's not magic, but it seems to help smooth things out. It is actually pretty relaxing for me to watch as well.
I had Emma help make it and explained to her what her special calm down jar was. This was a good opportunity for us to chat about feelings and good ways to express them.

 Small Jar- make sure it's one that will hold liquid tightly
2 tubes of glitter glue
half a tube of glitter
a few drops of food color

 This is pretty simple, just add everything to the jar. Use warm water and give it a good shake to get the glue mixed in well. I had Emma help me by adding all the materials and of course the shaking. Bring on the peace!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Too young to paint???

In the art store this morning I overheard a little boy (about age 4) ask his mother for some paints (Crayola washable kind.) She replied with a quick "no, your not quite ready for painting yet, when you get older we will get some." I had to peek around the corner to check if my voice age estimate was correct. Yes, this boy was about Emma's age. Shocked, I had to hold myself back from jumping into their conversion and giving her a shake! Come on lady! Really? Not ready for paints! This kids inner artist is screaming at you to come out! Okay, a little dramatic or maybe just passionate. Either way, I wondered how many moms out there let fear of mess stop them from letting their kids explore.
Children don't need to be making a masterpiece they just need to be feeding their wonderful little sensory system with colors and textures and letting their imaginations go.
Some tips I have if you fear the mess. Go outside! Lay big rolls of art paper or even wrapping paper out for them to paint on. Give them household things to paint with like shapes cut from a sponge, a rubber basting brush, cookie cutters, bubble wrap and of course their best tools are there hands! Try things to use other than paint like finger painting with pudding or shaving cream art. With really young ones go outside the box. It usually works better and there is no expectations....just to have fun.

Thanksgiving Banner

Grayson has me up extra early this morning so I am drinking coffee and working on a Thanksgiving banner for my sister. The one in the photo is mine, hers will say "Grateful." Pretty appropriate given she has a sweet little addition joining our Thanksgiving table this year.
These banners are pretty simple and very inexpensive to make.

burlap- I got half a yard to be safe, but I have made two with that
hot glue gun
letter stamps
acrylic paint, I used black

First, cut a triangle out of paper the size that you want for the banner. Mine are about 4 inches long, but I will do a much bigger one for Christmas and use the word "Noel." I think it depends on how long your word is and the space it will be hung.
After you cut your triangles out you can start stamping the letters on. I used a tiny leaf cookie cutter for the side triangles on my sisters. Once the paint is dry you can start gluing. Just glue the triangle onto the twine and fold over to attach it to itself. Remember to leave room on the ends to hang.
Happy November!!
P.S. I thought this would be a nice teacher gift as we are so thankful for our good teachers!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rainy day art

It's raining it's pouring!!! We love the rain and wanted to do something to celebrate it today. I always have coffee filters on hand. We may not use them for coffee anymore, but for a last minute art project they are great! We used markers to make colorful pictures on the filters and then set them out in the rain to see what would happen. Very exciting for the kids to watch the process. The colors all blended so beautifully and we hung them in the window to be "rain catchers" today. Happy rainy day!

Precious Fall Acorn

We usually start our day with a little art project over our morning breakfast. I think it starts our day out in a very peaceful way, usually that is. Yesterday morning on our first chilly fall morning here in Southern California, with slippers on we pulled out our trinket box. Emma found some empty acorn shells and different colored beads and pom poms. We grabbed a bottle of glue and she got to work while I made some tea. When I got back to her I was surprised with the most precious little gem. So simple and sweet. We will be adding these to our fairy treasure collection.

First Post, Green Owl

Well, I think it is only appropriate that my first post be the adorable green owl that gave me my name. Emma has green share at school this coming week and she wanted to create something extraordinary to bring. Extraordinary is the new word around the house since her new favorite movie, "Ramona and Beezus." If you have little girls I highly recommend this movie. It is pretty darn cute and has a great story to it. Anyways, we opened up our art cabinets and looked for green anything to start our project. Emma found a bag of green feathers and we had just collected a ton of pine cones on a nature walk the other day. Together with tacky glue, acorn shells and some foam sheets our green owl was born. I heart him.