Monday, December 26, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

[celebrate] holiday house party

Our annual gingerbread-less house decorating party went great.  The decorating is the fun part, so we skip the mixing, cutting, baking and trying to get large pieces of gingerbread not to crack and end in disaster.  I use cardboard.  But not just any cardboard mind you, pouch juice cardboard.

My Jack renamed Capri-Suns pouch juices.  Our household goes through A LOT of pouch juice especially during the holidays when we are traveling a bunch.  The boxes that hold all of this pouch juice just happens to be a perfect size for a little house.  

1.  First open up then end flaps and side flap and flatten out the box.
2.  Using a case knife or craft knife cut the box in half so that you have two long rectangles.  You will cut through the side flap.  The end flaps that you generally open the box with will run along the top or bottom of your long rectangles.  
3.  Turn the rectangles inside out so that the printed part is on the inside and hot glue it at the long side flap that you opened up to get it flat in the first place.
4.  I used a large brownie box opened up and cut on the folds to make my roof.  You can use any cardboard of similar weight to your pouch juice box.  I just measured the end flaps (now the top) of the pouch juice square, cut the brownie box to size on either side of a fold and presto, roof.
5.  Now glue on the roof.  The side flaps are super helpful when it comes to gluing the roof in place.
6.  All that is left was to set the house on a square cake base and you are  ready for graham crackers, short bread cookies and lots and lots of candy.

The pouch juice boxes were recycled along with my brownie box and the cardboard cake bases were 4 for $2.50 at Hobby Lobby.  In years past I've used recycled cardboard for those too, but I love that they are nice a white.  Once you get the cutting done, assembly is a snap with some hot glue.  And you don't have to worry about these falling to pieces once the kids get to decorating.  

These were our finished products.  We may not end up winning any contests but I don't think anyone had more fun decorating them than we did.  

Caution:  Huge amounts of candy make it extremely difficult to get a picture of children sitting still.  Note Baby A is the only one remotely in focus thanks to the fact she is still only drinking milk.

[make] christmas treats

Before our Holiday House Party, the kids and I did a little "baking".  I had found some nutter butter reindeer and little marshmallow north poles on pinterest.  Here are our versions.

My little ones don't care for peppermint so we used red and white striped paper straws for our poles and dipped away.  These little north poles are super easy and I was surprised at house quickly we turned them out.  90 seconds for the almond bark to melt in the microwave and not much more for the kids to dip them in the candy coating and roll them in white sprinkles.

As for the reindeer, Nutter Butters covered in chocolate with pretzel antlers and red candy noses.  We used the icing eyes that I got from Bake It Pretty.  How cute are these little things and my three kids did everything besides heating up the chocolate.  The only problem we had were lots of noses went missing.

They were a huge hit at our Holiday House Party which is saying something considering all the candy competition.

Monday, December 19, 2011

[live] holiday house

This is the holiday house, no party, post.  A few of my decorations inspired by Pinterest and a woodland theme. Pine cone trees and tiny deer hiding in the moss:

A little fox:

And a woodland themed Christmas tree:

The little paper mouse is courtesy of my Jack, he knows how I like everything to match so he picked a brown mouse with red ears.  I didn't get to so many of the projects I had on my list, but there is always next year (and maybe a few more days until Christmas)!

[make] ornaments

I managed a few homemade ornaments this year.  Simple but really pretty.  The first is the simplest.  Remember the sweater pumpkins?  A tiny embroidery hoop plus some of the red sweater leftovers equals a super cute little Christmas "ball" perfect for my woodland tree.

A thrifted men's plaid shirt yields a different but equally cute version.  I didn't even hot glue them or put a string on them.  I just nestled them in the branches. Done.

The next was more involved but the concept just as simple.

Terrarium Ornaments:

1.  Gather up moss, plants, sticks, rocks, you name it.
2.  Get a clear glass (or plastic) ornament and remove the cap.  
3.  Start with soil, about two tablespoons will do it.
4.  Put your plant(s) in.   I used Creeping Jenny.
5.  Then add about the same amount of mulch as soil.
6.  Pack it all down with a cotton swap or chopstick.
7.  Start adding your moss.  You may need to add a little more mulch to even things out.
8.  Now the fun part, add sticks, berries, stones, beads or even tiny little ornaments.
9.  Add a little water to keep everything growing.
10. Use a cotton swab helps helps clean off the inside of the glass. 
11. Use a little twine to tie them on the tree.

All finished!

The kids helped me gather the plants, moss and mulch from our yard and we had the clear glass ornaments left over from Christmas's past so our craft was FREE!  We even packed a few up for teacher gifts with the caption "thanks for helping us grow".  A brown kraft box with some paper shreds kept them safe and sound for transport.

Now to see if we can sneak in a few others before Santa comes!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

[celebrate] holiday houses ...

It's time for our annual house party.

Now to pre-assemble houses and collect some candy! (Isn't the gnome so cute?  Thanks for the idea Amy!)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

[learn] ice cream and igloos

We fit it in, almost two weeks late - but here is what we learned about the letter I, which actually ended up standing for icing more than I think anything else.  

Since we've had a busy couple of weeks we stuck to crafts and snacks this time around.  We started with an igloo.  A very special igloo made of icing and tasty marshmallows.

Inspired by this igloo, we opted to start with a bowl covered with a simple icing made of some water and powdered sugar.  Coat the bowl, put the bowl on a plate and start with your oreo 'door'.  

Then came the marshmallows - easy peasy, stack them up (the ones you don't eat of course). For our bowl size and stacking, we used a bag and a half of the standard sized marshmallows so buy that extra bag just in case!

Then some polar bears to hang out at the igloo.  I had pinned these little bears made of foam and sold at Platypus Crafts.  The pattern seem simple enough although mine weren't quite as polished.  I cut out heads (with pink marker ears), black noses, scarves and the front and back halves of the body.  Then I long strip of paper to fold accordion style to attach the two body halves.  After using a marker to make eyes and a little mouth, we got to gluing them together.  

We did figure out one very important fact - if you want them to stand up, run your accordion folded paper sideways.  

For our follow up snack - ice cream sandwiches rolled in sprinkles.  Because why wouldn't you roll them in sprinkles?  

Now for what else we learned besides the fact that ice cream and igloo start with the letter I?  When you include a 6 year old boy, he will question why we are making polar bears which do not start with the letter I and those polar bears will not live in the igloo.  They will be on top waiting for the Eskimos to come out of said igloo, also known as polar bear snacks. 

And then this happened because again, why not?  

Another successful and fun TwinBop, regardless of the fact that they are no longer weekly and we've gained a member and non-twin in the 6 year old.  Now for the Letter J and hopefully sometime this month!  Keep an eye on the TwinBop board for the upcoming ideas.  Any suggestions or ideas for J?  Leave me a comment!  

Monday, November 21, 2011

[make] waiting room crafts - part 2

So technically I did these in a hospital room proper.  Sis had been admitted by this point and since I was the designated overnight watch, enter felt leaves and flowers.

My inspiration were these little roses, this looped up flower from Infarrently Creative and the straight cut version. I also found these really neat leave headbands J Market sells on her Etsy shop.

I started with the leaves and found that I preferred the more narrow (orange) version.  I so love the combination of felt and a plain stitch with embroidery floss.  It was as simple as cutting the base, a few leave shapes, and then sewing them on.  Easy peasy.

Next came the roses and yet again, I preferred the smaller orange version.  Instead of sewing these I hooked up the hot glue gun.  We were in a room after all and I had my hot glue gun of course.  I followed the tutorial and despite having to fold the bigger yellow one over several times, I really like the result.

My favorite out of the bunch though had to be these little beauties.  They were super simple and with some hot glue in lieu of the heat tape, felt and scissors they take no time at all. Mom's favorite was the tri-color little one in the center of the photo which was even easier - same technique, no fold and honestly, it was made out of the leftover scraps from the other flowers.

Now, what to do with them.  I'm open to ideas.  Hair bow, wreath decoration, scarf pin?  Yea, no clue here.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

[make] waiting room crafts - part 1

I recently spent a great deal of time in a hospital waiting room.  My sister had a scheduled surgery, so I came prepared with a bag of what I hoped could keep me occupied for at least eight hour stretch.  I started with pom poms because I had seen these super cute pom flowers on Pinterest.

I tried the fork version to no avail (the baby teal ones pictured below).  Either I put too much yarn or I didn't get it tied tightly enough.  They came out all sideways and weird. So then I went to the hand method, also pinned, but then they were loosey goosey and so again, craft fail (more weird but larger teal ones).  At this point I've gathered the attention of my mother, brother, father and niece who are all giving me advice on what I'm doing wrong.  This is not to mention the rest of the people in the waiting room and the fact that I've commandeered the waiting room trash can.  So because "she said so", I tried Mom's version.

(1) The piece of "tying" yarn is threaded between your middle and ring finger and then them you close your hand tightly and (2) wrap until you can't feel the ends of your fingers anymore from lack of circulation.  (3) Tie off the yarn in the middle as tight as you can, wrap the yarn around and tie it one more time for good measure and then (4) cut the ends.  Trim and trim some more.

So Mom as usual, completely and utterly correct - see the nice shaped cream colored poms?  I guess you should trust the person who made all those pom poms for your skates so many years ago.  Now to put them on stems for my flowers!  I did pack my glue gun but I finished up the pom flowers when I got back home with these results.

 Thanks Mom!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

[learn] igloos and ice cream

I suppose the weather lends itself more to igloos than ice cream right now, but they both start with the Letter I so why not?  Here are some ideas for the upcoming lesson.

All these nice images have been pinned on my twinbop board, so for links on these and more ideas check me out on Pinterest.

Friday, November 4, 2011

[celebrate] red wolf farms

Red Wolf Farms is a working family farm located in Maiden, North Carolina which opens once a year to the public in the fall.  It just happens to be sort of across the woods from our house.  So naturally, it's one of our favorite and by far the most convenient fall activities.

The farm has become one of our favorite pumpkin patches and they made lots of improvements this year.  The corn maze was bigger and better.  Not only were there chickens, but you were able to go in the enclosure this year.  And, they added the cutest little calves to the pigs and goats.

Two more giant tubs of grain added to the corn "pools" which my kids LOVED jumping around in.  I will make a suggestion here though, some of that grain is going to come home with you so you may want to double check pockets and socks before you stick their clothes in the washer!

A giant wooden pirate ship was added to the playground along with a neat helicopter and airplane.  Everyone thought the ship was awesome.

Of course we walked down the trail to the creek this year, too.  Oh, did I mention pumpkins?

We got some of those too with a ride up and back on a very nice trailer pulled by the nicest gentlemen.  It's a great place to visit and definitely something to add to your Fall to do list come October.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

[make] scrappy skirts

I found this scrappy skirt on Pinterest and my Halloween costume plans for the twins took a very sudden turn from girlie robot to rockin' cowgirl.  First I found the boots at Target.  Pink.  I was going for brown, but the girls  voted pink.  They always vote pink.

Now to raid my fabric bins.  Since the boots were a pretty rosy pink, might as well go shabby chic.

The cutting begins.  I really dislike measuring so I let the fabric do the work for me.  I folded the fabric in half, selvage sides meeting and started strips 1" to 2" wide.  I cut those in half at the fold.  So, if my math is correct, on 48" fabric, my pieces were approximately 24" long by 1" to 2" wide.  I angled each end and cut all the strips with pinking shears.

Step 1, basically cut a lot of strips.
Step 2, the elastic.  A length that fit around my little one's waist sewn together at the ends to form a circlular waist band.

Steps 3 and 4, tying the strips on.  Just like with other tutu tutorials, I simply folded the strips in half and slid the two end over the elastic and through the loop made at the fold to secure them to the elastic.  Repeat and repeat and repeat.  I used five different fabrics and tried to scatter them randomly around the elastic band.

Step 5, tying the final fabric. I used was a very lightweight cotton.  These I tied in a simple knot, just like in the Ten Minute Tutu, to make the skirt a little fuller and to fill in the holes.

The twins love it and it has such a different look than the standard tulle tutu.  A couple of notes to keep in mind.

1) The heavier the weight of the fabric, the thicker the knot around the elastic is going to be.
2) The elastic is going to stretch a lot more while you are tieing the knots than with  tulle.  Apparently the cotton doesn't let the elastic slide through as easily which meant I had to add a fabric strip laced around the knots to tighten the skirt a bit and make sure it didn't fall off the twin's hips.
3) To give the skirt a little more length but not have to cut your fabric different you can just vary the lengths of your ends. In other words instead of folding the fabric in half and knotting it, you can fold it off centered and not only get some more length but make the skirt a little fuller with the varied lengths of your ends.

To complete the outfits, I added some suede roses that I picked up at the Dollar Store to a natural straw cowboy hat.  Then I cut out two 24" x 24" squares for the bandanas out of some of the leftover fabric from the skirts and two cowgirl costumes are done.

The cost?  $22 each for the pink boots at Target, $6 each for the hats also at Target, $2 for the suede roses and fabric that I had in my stores.  Since I figure the girls would have gotten a pair of boots this season anyway, I'm claiming that the girls' costumes only cost me $7 each.  Not too shabby, just shabby enough.

I'd love to see your versions if you give it a try and maybe you will even get a little help like I did. The little monster that happens to be in all my tutorial photos is my new "helper" according the the girls.  The twins help a lot with cutting and "sewing" my scraps but apparently the little monster is the scrappy skirt spokesperson.

Thanks to Sherry, Katie, Erin and Ana for hosting the fall edition!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

[learn] halloween fun

We kind of learned.  Does talking about the letter H count?  Okay, we probably celebrated a little more learned but we did cook and craft.  We started with snacks to eat while we watched It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.

Trail mix is always super fun with the kids.  We used this mix from Munchkin Munchies as a starting point and put our own twist on it.  The key ingredients were Honey Nut Chex cereal, Honey Nut Cherrios, Cocoa Puffs, honey roasted peanuts, mini marshmallows, Cheeze-Its, and candy corn.  We threw some goldfish in there because we wanted to and they were orange.  It's a great mix and I was especially surprised at the Cocoa Puffs.  I'm not a big fan of the cereal but added to the trail mix, it was great!  Then came candy proper in the form of Hersheys chocolate mummies and Blow Pop ghosts that doubled as treats for the kids classmates.

We also made the ghost lights pinned earlier out of paper cups, google eyes, and some twinkle lights.  The idea is a great one from All You and you could make so many variations from ghosts with just a little more effort.  I think next time we will stick with one light per cup though because otherwise it makes the string of lights get very short, very quickly.  Then it was time for clay.  I stole the white clay and made some ghosties with black brads for eyes.

The kids were much more creative.  Jack's is a halloween gnome of some sort and I'm not honestly sure what the girls were.

Then it was time for Trick or Treating.  Jack was a tropical chimp and the twins were cowgirls.  Artic cowgirls thanks to the temperature dropping 40 degrees in less than two days.

Downtown Maiden and the churches on Main Street do a wonderful job on Halloween.  The streets close down and between Trunk or Treats and Halloween Festivals you will get all the candy you want.  Not to mention that you can go house to house too, almost all of which are decorated.

So maybe this lesson was as much of a lesson as it was a party, but we still have lots and lots of fun.  Happy Halloween!

Now onto the letter I.  I'm thinking ice cream although igloo may be more appropriate with our current weather conditions.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

[make] mini-mummies and sticky ghosts

Super easy and super quick, there's no need to stray too far from the classics.

Mummies and Mini-Mummies:

Directions:  Glue the end of some white crepe paper to the candy bar wrapper (I used Hershey Bars) and simply wrap.  Wrap the crepe paper around until it's all covered and then tear the paper and glue the end to the bar's wrapper.  Glue on some google eyes and move on to the next one.

Blow-Pop Ghosties:

Directions: Take a single tissue and center the sucker in the middle.  Fold the tissue around the pop part and tie off with a ribbon.  I opted to go with black yarn to tie secure the tissue to keep it retro. Use a black marker to may eyes and a mouth if you'd like.

The great part about both of these - the kiddies can help you assemble and make the faces.  Especially if you are trying to put 50+ of each together!  Add them to a clear bag with a fruit roll-up and a ribbon and ready to give.

Friday, October 28, 2011

[learn] happy haunted halloween

It's so convenient that the next letter is 'H'!

There are more crafts and less materials this week but here are some links all the same.

1 - It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
2 - Halloween Coloring Book
3 - Cotton Swab Skeleton
4 - Pumpkin Candy Toss

Stayed tuned for more spooky crafts and snacks.

[make] scary fun

Nothing like waiting to the last minute.   Some Halloween inspiration:

All the images and ideas along with lots of others can be found on my Scary Fun board via Pinterest.  Do you have holiday boards full of so many ideas that you would never be able to do all of them?