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25 days of Christmas crafts

As promised, Christmas crafting, toddler style! Some of these are my “brain child” others are cool ones I’ve “googled”…. annnd some are feasible with toddlers others would be a project you could do for them. Happy Christmas crafting!!
1) Popsicle Stick Snowflakes
-toddler approved activity
2) Burlap Stockings
-ok, take 5 min on Pinterest and you will see endless ideas, find me on Pinterest if you want to see my inspiration.
-we went with two “bones” one for each dog, one “fish” for the cat and 4 regular stocking shapes. In total that took just shy of 4 yards of burlap. I lined them with scrap fabric/ old pillow cases. Used ribbon, a few rosettes and handmade bows to add some accents and that was it. You may notice a trend with the burlap here, and yes, I themed all decor around these two teddies, the boys first Christmas ornaments –> A & B xmas teddies
– tip, use a large safety pin to hang the stockings onto command wall hooks- those things are handy!
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divas pretty stocking complete with kitten tootsies;)

3) Mason Jars
– again. Pinterest. Just find what suits your style, from painted to ribbon wrapped or even snow globed the possibilities with mason jars are endless.
4) Paint with Seasonal Cookie Cutters
-pretty straight forward:)
5) Lined Sweatshirt
-I used this pattern though I am not a very gifted seamstress and every time I end up heavily adapting it. (My first attempt at them have not become our art smocks) Use the ” warm and natural” batting and it’s perfect for indoor play clothing.
6) String popcorn, cranberries or cotton puffs or marshmallows
– this is a great motor development type activity that (if they don’t scarf all the food items like my littles did) can double as awesomely cute decor.
7) Sun Catchers
-ok, this one I kinda cheated on, the dollar section at most stores have the tiny craft bin and sometimes they are perfect for breaking up a boring afternoon.
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8) Painting Ornaments
-with one of the littles presents came foam sheets. So, we repurposed and cut snowflakes out of them! Similar foam sheets can be found at most craft stores add swirls of puffy paint for dimension:)
9) Sleeping Bag IMG_3151
-this is actually a rather detailed project, I had a great time with it and as it adapted into its current form I learned more and more about sewing. Plus, I love how it turned out….win/win! Basically this sucker is a very warm padded toddler sleeping mat that rolls into its self; making it nicely portable for those family trips this holiday!
-I used eco felt as the outter layer, “warm and natural” batting as the 2nd inner layer, batting off the bolt from joann fabrics (the second one I went to though, because the first one had such terrible service that we walked out without purchasing anything from our full cart) and the inner layer being grey minky dot fabric. I made the “hood” so that it can flip under the head pillow, adding extra puff, but also wrap around the body off the sleeping bag to roll it up! toddler sleeping bags
10) Hand Painted Wrapping Paper
-you can often find “blank wrapping paper” we went for a basic brown and let the boys splatter paint the whole roll, gave it a gloss spray top coat to make sure the paint didn’t just flake off, let it dry and rolled it back up to await gift wrapping in the next few weeks.
11) Marshmallow Fondant
– ok, this really goes with the cookies so maybe I’m cheating a bit here by using it as two activities…BUT….you would likely have to do this two separate days. If you hadn’t noticed those seasonal cookie cutters come in handy again here 😉
12) Paper Garland
– I used extra seasonal scrap paper I had to make the garland. Guiding the boys to “cut” strips and “glue the loops” we actually had a lot of fun with this one.
13) Toilet Paper Roll Wreath
– sounds weird but it’s actually pretty darn cute
14) PVC Snowman
– this was mainly because I built a pvc house for our garage play space and we had it left over. So, find something that you have around your house that is junk but could be a repurposed “craft” for the kiddos.
15) Family Cards
– let the littles finger paint individual cards for family members
16)Cookies
-any kind really will do for this holiday but two tips that have become a must when cookie making in our house; always brown the butter first and used molasses & sugar rather than brown sugar. These two things really add the “wow factor” to the flavor of any cookie!
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17) Felt Snowmen/Reindeer/Santa
– felt is kinda a staple crafting item that we have around so it seemed only natural to do a felt ornament with the boys. We had them decorate a tree….it got a bit messy :0
-glitter, shapes, textures, etc etc etc. this was a great sensory play activity!
18) Splatter Wall Art (red/white/green/gold/silver)
– best to save this messy one for a bath day 😉
19) Dress up day/Pictures
– strings of lights, Santa hat & play time
– pretty self explanatory activity that you can have fun with! We always have random strings of lights and the boys find them entertaining but throw some dress up clothes in there and the whole day can be filled.
20) Scarves
-pretty simple infinity scarf for toddlers. I paired a heavy eco-felt and a soft plaid reindeer flannel. And cut based on the littles shoulder width and noggin dimensions.
– make sure you can loop it round the head twice
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21) Pine Cone Hunt
-Well, we had to have at least one activity outside….we live in a well wooded area so no driving needed just step outside and we were off to “match pine comes”
22) Santa Beard
-so, originally I was thinking something like this…..then I saw this….the jury is still out on which we will be making this season.
23) Jammie Pants
– you can find free patterns at just about every online sewing resource. Line them in minky fabric like I did for that extra cozy warm appeal this winter.
24) Gingerbread House
– this one means a special shopping trip as most of the tradition ginger bread house making stuff we don’t even keep in the house anymore. But easy alternative…use the cardboard boxes that all of your holiday presents will be shipping in and build a paper/cardboard house. Or many craft stores not have “kits”
25) Burlap Santa Sack
This project I loved, even though I ended up keeping it super simple it was fun to look at everyone’s ideas. I got the actual sack from amazon for $6.50 for a 40in by 24in bag. And then hand painted it with fabric paints. Using decor ribbon to “tie”. Yay for no more wrapping oddly shaped gifts!IMG_3135-0.JPG

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Strawberry fields forever

Ok cheesy -I know- but these fields really did stretch on forever! Scott and I took the littles Strawberry picking at Stades!20140623-222431-80671606.jpgThis farm has a huge summer patch with ample space for picking. Granted, we went on a Monday afternoon but still- with about 20 people there none were even close to us:) 20140623-222434-80674771.jpgwe did find toooons of amazingly sweet juicy strawberries 20140623-222433-80673312.jpgIt was super tricky to juggle the littles and a strawberry bucket…..next time we will be bringing the jogger pod! Or plan on taking turns picking.20140623-222430-80670136.jpgBut we had a wonderful day finding a new summer fav. especially because their market has veggies, and they have a section of farm-attractions for littles! p*s* yes, I did get strawberry stains on the lovely white dress I stupidly wore… BUT…I found out yet another use for vinegar-stain removal! I dropped a splash into the bathroom sink with warm water let it soak for about 20min and voila…no stain:) Sadly, this wasn’t even the “highlight” from the trip, DeeDee took that prize by eating our remote in the 2 hours we were gone. Even though she’s turning 6 next month she’s still a Sassy Lil Lady!

Vinegar and it’s many uses

This cheap addition to your cleaning products is pretty easy (we use it regularly) but I am always amazed but the amount of uses it really has.
Here are a few that we’ve found really handy!

Fruits bath: to rinse fruits after you bring them home from the store I dilute one cup of vinegar to a sink full of water. I’ve found this helps keep fruits just a bit longer.

Floor cleaner: especially for woods it’s a great natural cleaner. I use the cleaner I make but I do have to be sure to dilute it (50/50) otherwise it leaves the floor a bit sticky/tacky.

Drain Cleaner: pretty basic ingredients that are more gentle on your plumbing than drano. And much better for our septic system. We tried it today and it went pretty well! Our drains were moving a little slow and it did the trick.

Weed killer: ok, everyone has probably seen this natural weed killer floating around Facebook. Well, since the end of our driveway is covered in em we thought we’d give it a shot. Works perfect! We bought a 7$ handheld pressure sprayer from Menards. Mixed 1/4c of dawn dishsoap, 1/2c Epsom salt, and 1/2 gallon of vinegar….of course the recipe if relatively flexible and can easily be doubled or cut in half depending on your needs. I hate measuring so this is a plus for me 😉

In other news Scott and I rang in the first Saturday of summer doing grill-out with some kid less friends…..while, it was great to get out and everyone was amazing with the kiddos. I think we left more exhausted from chasing the littles all afternoon and quickly remembered why we normally just have family watch them for us to get out. I give major props to the families that go for this scenario because next time we’ll be sticking to the sitter.

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DIY Bug Balm

Ok, I love summer, tons!! BUT these BUGS are REDICULOUS. Between the ticks and the Mosquitos I’ve had enough but then we also have flies and gnats….not.cool. Obviously, we don’t want to spray the yard with round up or something crazy like that. But if we couldn’t even enjoy our yard this summer I would be pretty disappointed. So, I pulled out an oldie but goodie-bug balm recipe, I didn’t quite have everything I needed. Here is my 2014 modified bug balm:) I like this update mainly because it has added tick control!
What you’ll need:
*1oz beeswax (we got ours at the locals farmers market!!)
*1/2c coconut oil
*1/2oz Shea or Cocoa butter
*Cheesecloth(or in my case diaper cloth)
*Double boiler
*4oz mason jar
*Rosemary and cinnamon sticks dried
*Essential oils- I used rose geranium for ticks, citronella for mosquitoes, and a touch of lavender and lemongrass ❤ I would suggest looking at mountain rose herbs they are not only organic but also non GMO.
You of course can put different things in to suite your needs 10-15 drops total should suffice.

Mix oils and dried herbs and put in double boiler until completely melted let warm for 30min.
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Strain out herbs through cheese cloth.
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Add beeswax to the melted oil with whatever essential oils and double boil until melted.
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Pour back into your jar and let cool. Voila…bug balm!
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Aaaand the review……this stuff rocks! The convenience of spray is surely trumped by the fact that this stuff lasted a good majority of the day for myself and the kids with no reapplications. Daddy who mowed our jungle with this on did want to reapply after about 4hours. The waxi-ness of it means that it’s mildly waterproof and depending on what oils/butters you use it made our skin wonderfully soft. On the downside it does take a minute to apply it and it takes a bit of work to get it out of the jar….BUT I am sold….I will never buy bug repellants again:)

Green parenting Tips

Obviously, Scott and I have worked really hard to provide a clean diet and a house relatively free from chemicals and “additives” not only for A&B but for us. We still make yogurt and cleaner, see how here, but we have slowly been adding the what we do at home vs. buying.
Bread- pretty self explanatory that you can save money and get better quality with this DIY. While this can be very time consuming we have found homemade bread freezes very nicely, allowing us to make a months worth of bread in one day! We change up recipes but generally make a milk bread(using home made butter and buttermilk). 20140528-095656-35816050.jpg
Butter- another easy-freeze item. Butter, while less time consuming than bread, is still one of my least favorite to make. Whipping heavy cream until it separates/ gets chunky, then pouring the buttermilk into a container to save and finally rinsing the butter under ice cold water (least favorite part) to shape it into a mold. *as a side note it will slosh all over at the end so we also use siran wrap to cover the top of the mixer* We use about 4 pints of heavy whipping cream turned into butter and buttermilk in our house every month.unnamed (141)
Ice cream-*admittedly*we are just learning about this… but, every recipe we have tried either involves cooking or is a cream-cheese-no-cook that tastes well…very cheesey (evidently Wisconsin dairy has spoiled me and I am now an ice cream snob). But, we’ll keep trying recipes and I will keep you posted!
Fruits(citrus)-I love the fruit not only because it’s tasty but we use every part of it! I use the attachment for the kitchenaid to juice them. We then use the rinds of lemons, oranges and grapefruit for the cleaner(with vinegar and cinnamon). I strain the leftover juice with diaper cloths. First, I should clarify by saying we never actually used them as diapers 😉 normal people would use cheese cloth though. I’m debating trying to grow the seeds and of course we drink the juice!
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Shampoo/soaps- I know I’ve mentioned it before but soap berries are actually very handy! Recently, I attempted boiling 15 of them in water for about a half hour. The result? A pungent syrup like goop. Smelled rather earthy so I added a few drops of essential oils and viola scented soap(shampoo). The downside of this one is that it apparently needs to be stored in the fridge. I’ve resorted to freezing them in small portions, a caterpillar worth to be exact;) we’ve found that the silicone molds are VERY useful! thanks Fred’s for making fun brain and caterpillar trays!20140528-105058-39058018.jpg
In black and white to hide my dirty counter, the one on the far left is soap:)

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DIY raised garden beds

In my short time gardening I have found I do not have that much of a green thumb. But, Im a little too stubborn to give up on growing my own food. So, while I won’t attempt seedlings again(without a grow light)I will plant what seeds we have left in these DIY garden beds!!
After almost 2 months of planning (and changing our plans numerous times) last we set into action! A family member was nice enough to share her book on raised beds and we adapted our design to be similar.
What you’ll need to make one raised 4×4 garden bed:

Supplies
4) 2inx10inx4ft lumber (we used cedar)
4) 4inx4inx8in lumber (again cedar)
32) 3in deck screws
4) 1in dia. x5in pvc
2) 1/2in dia. x10ft pvc

Tools
Power drill
Sawzall

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Placing the 4x4s inside each corner and screwing them in place from the outside of your beds
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The pvc arches over top to be able to cover the beds for critter control will most likely be a necessity in an area like ours. 20140506-194543.jpg
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As you can see we have placed the old monkey bars in the bed and are planning to bury them in for stability. And the jury’s still out on how to secure them together:)


We did transplant the grass to cover the old horse shoe pits we ripped up last weekend.
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Instead of the suggested weed cloth we are trying old cardboard since we had huge chunks from the swing set boxes! We dug in just enough to remove the grass and level the beds.
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After filling it with a layer of compost, vermiculite and peat moss we are ready to go!!….now I just have to dig up 2 more and fill those…..ughhh….at least it’s a work out…did I mention it was 85 degrees today :0

DIY car seat oopsy pad

This projects came about more out of necessity than anything. As you know the guys are potty trained. However, accidents happen…and that includes dumping the camelback full of milk in the car seat. But the silver lining in this was that I was able to repurposed our old waterproof changing pad “mats” into these!
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I folded one in half and cut it to the sizes I needed for my specific car seat, made a sleeve to fit the waterproof mat and voila. Simple as that! I’m loving being able to reuse some baby items the boys have long out grown!

finished products

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