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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

Apple Picking 2014

Well it’s no surprise that apple picking has become somewhat of a family tradition…we have gone to one place or another every year since we had A&B normally there are some form of farm attractions for kids but this years play farm took the cake. They found entertainment not only in the huge play equipment, mazes, and baby goats but also in apple picking. And that’s a first -last year they just wanted to pick the rotten ones from the ground and throw them away. IMG_2956.JPGWe met grandmaIMG_2981.JPG and some friends and their son for play time and a “last visit” before she heads off for boot camp. Im sad to loose a “mom-friend” in the area but beyond excited for what this new stage in their life will bring them. We wrapped up the day with Scott coming home a smidge early (ie he avoided Chicago traffic) and the boys crashing a whole 2 hours early. Wonderful day in my books 🙂
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DIY: Wall mounted TV cabinet

Oh yeah it’s DONE!!!

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We couldn’t be happier to unveil this project, on top of it being super easy it was also super cheap. Like I said we’ve been dying to mount the tv since the littles became mobile 2 years ago. Well, we found the right style for what we wanted and I think it turned out amazing. So we planned and designed based on our tvs specific size and shape AS WELL AS the wall it would be mounted on – and you should too.

Our TV is 44.5in width that meant four 12x36in canvases (plus space for hinges) would cover the face of the tv. You can either order photocanvases from nations photolab directly or make them like I did since this was our “trial run.” Making them is really very simple (literally just stick printed photographs onto canvas from painting section at michaels crafts) looks pretty nice and you can change out photographs every few years. We had the 15$ lumber cut to size at Home Depot- yes, into 3 pieces to form a U shape- no need for a “top” this way the tv doesn’t over heat IMG_2948.PNG

Again this is based on the size of your specific tv and how much storage space you want for a DVD player etc etc. We added 8 inches to the length of the tv for length of the wood and that was ample space for router and modem, 2 laptops, a DVD player and a few DVDs….along with all the cords…yeah lots of those.

Anyhow, we sanded the wood down and had planned on painting it but realized that the wood was quite knotty and we wouldn’t get a smooth surface. But, with a little poly finish it looks more natural and “fits” the house. We also notched out a piece from the back that was against the wall to allow cords to be pulled in when the tv is off. This was actually quite easy with a drill bit and hand saw…oh and the dremmel to finish it. IMG_2953.JPG

As you can see we placed hinges on the inside as we wanted them to be “invisible” while closed. We then placed a clasp on top to secure closed. However, I think we will be moving all panels to the right with the hasp moving to the left side. We bought cheap hinges and already lost a pin from one :/ live and learn right?

OK frame ready!

IMG_2950.JPGWe knew we wouldn’t be able to “center” the cabinet on the wall because we wanted to mount the tv into a stud, leaving everything a bit off center. But, that’s ok since I’d rather not see our flat screen come crashing to the floor and I wanted this type of mount. Why? Because it was 25$ for a full motion mount -so I can see it while I cook in the kitchen!

Last weekend the cabinet was ready….more like Mr. was finally home and we didn’t have other plans 😉 The moment of truth came and we put it up THREE, yes, you read that right THREE times. Twice it came off the wall! Once because we forgot the notch for the cords and once because of somebody’s **cough** miss measure. To mount I’d suggest directly into studs with braces, if you can’t, use wall anchors and disperse the weight. But, third time was a charm and it’s now happily holding our tv safely out of the reach of little hands. It’s a decor friendly way to hide it all at a moments notice!

IMG_2952.JPG eventually we may DIY a storage system for under it, but that’s not even close to the next project on the list 😉

Daddy Day!!

Well not quite the weekend but Scott surprised me and took off today to extend my Birthday celebrations. So as promised we FINALLY went to Rebuilders Exchange!!!

BBclass list

AAAAnd we even made it to IKEA and Carters 🙂 seems even for mommas birthday the kiddos get spoiled. But they did need new mattresses as they are a whole 3ft and 1inches already!! The train track since they have been loving trains lately and a paper roll for crafts. And a few new shirts from carters were only a dollar since we had that “carters cash.”ikea train track
Plus we even had time for homemade Popsicles and a Water blob!

Homemade popsiclesDIY water blob

Fathers Day 2014

Well- plans in our house are CONSTANTLY changing and this weekends plans were no different….with trying to cram sooo much into one weekend we ended up bumping Scotts fathers day celebrations to Monday. Which means I can safely announce our gifts with no fear of ruining the surprise! We got Daddy a shaker bottle for his whey shakes or whatever they are ;0 and some special chocolate!
but here was our main gift!!
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We decorated the inside of a toolbox for daddy! He needed a tool box since we’ve been using a plastic bathroom garbage can, so, it was the perfect daddy gift. I found a basic one at Menards with a flat inner bottom I had each of the boys do a hand print for the “heart” shape and used letter stencils puff painted on for the words. I think well be adding a gloss layer to seal it all in otherwise tools on top will scrape it off the plastic.

what you’ll need: 20140610-113842-41922644.jpg
taping the stencils down made it a lot easier to trace 🙂
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annnd we had to do a grandpa gift too(but shhh since he wont see it till Sunday)

we call this splatter art…..ie don’t leave your twin two year olds alone with a large bottle of black puff paint. like. ever. pretty cool looking though, so, we designed around their modern-art-explosion.
parenting hack* tape the back of your kiddos hand for that perfect print
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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:)