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Carpenters 2015 Edition

It has been FOREVA since we have had any family pictures, that is…with all 4 family members in the shot not doing something strange. Needless to say we hoped to get a few nice ones of all of us. Thus began our photographer search…well, that was 2013, I was hard pressed to find someone with my style on a realistic budget. And by realistic budget I only mean that I didn’t have to foot their studio rent that month. But…..late in 2014 a friend forwarded information for silva photography timing was perfect and we immediately set up a session for mid January. We wanted the feel of the third ward in MKE but there was an art show the day of our shoot. The photographer suggested cedarburg and that was perfect. We have some beautiful shots, I just had hoped we’d get them back on time. Anyhow, take a look!
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~all pictures taken by silva photography~

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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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Back to the Basics

Well, after much consideration I have decided *for now* I will only be doing family updating on the blog. While I don’t want to loose all of the memories stored on the page I have found the time it takes for me to log the DIY and product reviews is too much. I would rather spend it on the boys:) for that reason I will keep projects to a minimum and do mostly updates on family a nice way to log our lives and look back!

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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:)

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Middleton WI splash pad

While up for a visit nana suggested we go to the splash pad, it had just opened for the season so we decided to try it out!

First, I have to say A’s reaction to seeing this toddler water wonderland was HILARIOUS!
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Which was a huge plus for our giggly wee men 🙂
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Overall, they had a blast! The water was a bit chilly since it’s still early in the season. But the boys didn’t mind:) There weren’t lots of big kids to knock the littles over and the pad had enough grip for traction while running through the water. I probably won’t attempt to go to the one close to home without Scott or another set of hands but, we will surely visit this one again!

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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

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DIY reusable water blob

waterblobI saw this idea recently and luckily a friend had just tried a water blob with wonderful success so we gave it a shot!

ITS A WATER BLOOOOOOBBBBBB!!!

What you’ll need:
Plastic sheeting-thickness varies- we purchased 6mil thickness from Home Depot just to be safe…we have curious dogs.
Hair straightener or iron
Wax paper
Scissors
Hose
Food coloring, glitter, spongy toys *optional* I used teal food coloring
(You can also use duct tape for the edges however it will most likely leak more, hold less water, and not be reusable)

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I purchased enough plastic sheeting to make a first attempt as well as a 2nd…just in case. All I did was seal the seams by folding a piece of wax paper over the edge and running my hair straightener over it. (Leave a small hole to fill with water)You do have to be careful not to burn through the plastic doing this method…but…doing it this way allows you to add more water, and trust me you want more water! I think the first round was super simple though and we will be making more of these 🙂

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….and then daddy popped it 😦 unnamed (117)luckily a refill is just a small hole for the hose and a reseal with the hair straightener away 🙂