Category Archives: upcycle

Christmas Decorations

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When pulling out my Christmas decorations to put out this year, I tried to look up on the blog how I’d arranged mantels and stuff last year, but I only found pics from a few years ago…since I had never posted the photos I took last year…so now I’m posting photos from this year and last year (which include a move between the two, so same stuff in a new space). My favorite addition from the past two years is the big magnolia clips with glittery centers…that came from Dollar Tree!)

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I’m realizing now that I forgot the way I set up the little birds in nests in the middle of the Christmas mantel…

    

   

Mommy & Me class: Pretend Play with Fake Food

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Pretend play is so important for young children – they need time and space to imagine and practice what they are figuring out in “real” life. It is easy to fill up their time with structured activities, commitments, and get caught up with our own schedules so much that we start dragging our kids through each step and “job” of the day. One of my recent resolutions has been to give Pen Elaine some play time (that includes me) before making her complete her morning “jobs” of getting dressed and making her bed, even if I still have a kitchen to clean up or breakfast dishes to put away. This does not and cannot happen every day, but it is at least on my radar and a goal for most days. However, I know making time for children is important since Jesus Christ said that He was not too busy to hold them, touch them, pray over them. Matthew 19:14 says, “Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'”

Sometimes a craft project can help lead to more pretend play or more intentional pretend play. Pretend play with food can be a fun time to practice table manners, thinking of other people, using proper utensils, and having mealtime conversations, to get the ball rolling.

I saw these tantalizing play food creations from oneperfectdayblog and really wanted to attempt our own. Ours didn’t turn out looking too much like actual food…although Snugly Man was fooled, as captured in the top photo!

Only supplies needed: sponges from the dollar store, paint & paintbrush, some glue optional

Pen Elaine enjoyed painting and stacking these “slices” of sponges to create a piece of cake and “cookies” (that kinda look like cupcakes…?).

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We also made paper pizzas (to look like one by Looksissquare via Pinterest) – it’s on the bottom in this last pic, we cut out the “dough,” “sauce,” “cheese,” and an assortment of toppings such as peppers, pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, meatballs, etc. These could’ve been made with felt to be more durable for creating many times over.

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Fall Decorations!!!

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IMG_1729.JPGDecorating for fall is the most satisfying season because it is so warm and cozy, comes at the beginning of a new season, and you get to leave it up for 2 or 3 solid months! Plus, fall is a great time to host gatherings and have friends over, so there are lots of opportunities to share the fun of fall decorations. Now that I share my seasonal decorating with Pen Elaine, I am more in tuned to how kids can be actively involved with making the house fun and inviting for each season or holiday. Growing up, I remember getting excited every October to decorate an orange pumpkin made of construction paper, giving it shape, a stem, and a jack-o-lantern face with black markers or crayons. Now, Pinterest has opened up so many more possibilities that I forget the simple joys of childhood only need “pen” and paper sometimes, but the important thing is to let my kiddo feel special and proud of her part in making our house a warm and whimsical home.

1. Scarecrow – we made a scarecrow with an old party sign, some little-used pants and top, a hat, gloves, and Pen Elaine’s super-cute contribution: a pinwheel! Items that needed to be tied down were secured with string. Since it’s on a wooden stand that can be easily moved, sometimes I’ll stick it in the garage if there’s a big rainstorm or we are going out of town.

2. Front door hanger: Instead of a fall wreath, I had seen this embroidered hoop idea on Pinterest and thought it looked really do-able and a nice changeup. Plus, I had bought a couple giant hoops for 3 bucks each at some junk store. I ended covering my letter with yarn because that is what I had on-hand, but next time, I would want to try something else.

 

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3. I finally got around to painting a new scene/quote on my windowpane for fall. I saw so many fun quotes and verses for fall, I will have to put up a new one for November, ha! I always want to paint a pumpkin on the glass, but it never looks quite right to me…I’m just not sure what to replace it with…a tree?

 

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Here’s a picture of the hoop art. I wrapped the letter in one layer of yarn using modge podge to secure it; then I attached it to the burlap with a second, more sparse covering of yarn. I hid the loose corners of burlap by taping them down to the back of the hoop with some masking tape.

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4. Candle display tray: I had seen a candle display similar to this on Pinterest that looked straight out of Hogwarts…thus I had to try to replicate it. My collection of little glass jars/bottles finally got put to use for a spooky effect…

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DIY Cheapskate Piñata

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We actually did this for my Honey’s birthday over the summer. What you see is what you get! When planning some surprises for a week of little birthday treats leading up to the big day, Pen Elaine thought her daddy definitely needed some candy and a piñata. I know candy is one way to his heart, so I agreed with her plan there but did not care to spend money on a big old piñata but also didn’t have the time to spend on making some elaborate, multi-step, paper mache version…so, I decided to stuff an empty cereal box that I had been saving for a possible preschool-craft castel and just paint it with craft paint, tape the top and bottom with pretty duct tape, and draw on some decorations with a permanent marker. We busted it open when a family that we are friends with from church came over for lunch, and it worked just like any other piñata – tough to crack for the little kids until a daddy got to swoop in and mash it open with a baseball bat or something, ha!

Sweet Storybook Baby Shower

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Sweet Storybook Baby Shower

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For a good friend having her third baby any day now, I had so much fun throwing a storybook baby shower. She is having a little girl; so, sweet, vintage books that included old Nancy Drew, Madeline, and a collection of Golden books were perfectly enchanting for the decorations, along with a vintage-looking baby girl dress, and a banner made of book pages and craft-paper lettering that read “Sweet Baby.”

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For my chalkboard art above the food table, I put a quote by Hans Christian Anderson, “Every man’s life is a fairy tale written by God’s own fingers.”

IMG_1132.JPGBaby Shower FOOD!

I thought long and hard about what to serve at this afternoon (storybook) shower. Knowing I had my own nursing baby and that I would be out of town the week before the shower (getting back home the day before the shower…not in the plan when we picked the shower date, ha!), I wanted to choose foods that went along with childrens’ books and could also be mainly prepared and frozen a week or two ahead…So I decided on cookies! If you give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff is a super fun book that turned into a series, one that my own Pen Elaine loves and is great for learning cause and effect, as well as practicing the concepts around reading comprehension and order of events. I made two of my favorite cookie dough recipes (Chewy Brownie cookies & PB Nutella cookies) a couple weeks in advance, spooned them onto a cookie sheet to cool in freezer, rolled them into balls and froze on the cookie sheet before storing all the cookie dough balls in freezer bags labeled with the baking directions. I simply placed dough balls on baking sheets and followed the directions on the morning of the shower.

For a third cookie option that looked more “girly, I made(super simple) red velvet cake mix cookies with white chocolate chips on the night before the shower. I also mixed up sweet chicken salad the night before, which I placed into adorable, single-serving paper cups (they looked like cupcake holders) that were pink-polka-dotted from the party section of Hobby Lobby, I think. I served the chicken salad with a bowl of wheat crackers. My gracious cohost brought all the fixins for fruit and veggie trays. For those, we put up a sign that said they were from “Mr. MacGregor’s garden.”

I kept drinks simple with mason jars, pink polka-dot paper straws, water in a drink dispenser, and a pitcher of iced, raspberry green tea (thanks to powdered drink mix).

 

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ACTIVITIES:

So, honestly, my entry way activity did not actually get done – but here’s what I did with good intentions…first, I labeled one tiny plastic baby (from the cake-decorating section of Hobby Lobby) with a piece of colored tape or sticker. Then, I blew up some balloons and stuck a little plastic baby inside each one, thinking people could pop a balloon and find a baby inside. The guest who found the “labeled baby” would get a door prize. Part of the reason we didn’t follow through on this activity was that a teeny, tiny 6-week-old came to the party, and we didn’t want to scare him! Also, there was enough other stuff going on that we didn’t need another “filler” game. However, I thought it looked cute just as decoration!

To go with our storybook theme, I thought this Children’s Book quote quiz by Pumpkin Seed Paperie on Etsy was so much fun. I just gave everyone some paper and a pen, then I read out the quotes and let guests write down their guesses for title and author, each worth one point, for the book quote. At the end, I read out the correct answers for all of them, and guests scored their own sheets. There was a prize for the most correct answers. This was a fun, simple game that got everyone seated and ready to watch our special mama open her gifts.

(I love seeing what mamas receive at baby showers!)

In order to send the honored mama home with some sweet notes to read over and be encouraged, I customized these precious cards by PopSugar Moms by adding space on the back, printing them double-sided. Guests actually worked on these at their leisure, throughout the shower, but I reminded and encouraged everyone to finish them up and leave them in a stack before we started the group game and presents.

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P.S. My new favorite baby shower gift, especially for a new baby girl, for a second or third time mama, is something practical (e.g. diapers) and this book trilogy by Mo Willems – Knuffle Bunny.

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No-sew Baby Legwarmers

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Here’s why I love leg warmers on babies:

  • They work for any season
  • They don’t have to come off when diaper changing
  • They are one-size-fits-all
  • which also means they don’t grow out of or into them during the first 4+years of life – meaning they don’t add to the first year madness of clothes fitting and not fitting in a matter of weeks and having to store clothes all over the place and keep them organized for the next kid or to pass along…
  • They remind me of the 80’s
  • They can possibly make my baby look like she or he is about to go workout with Cyndi Lauper or Patrick Swayze
  • They are easy to pull on and off little wiggly legs and feet
  • They are a fashion statement…
  • They are stinkin cute
  • They can be made from my Honey’s old pair of lucky volleyball socks

I made this yellow pair by simply cutting off the bottom part of a pair of men’s socks, no sewing required! Now, my Honey is happy that he gets to keep his old pair of socks, and I’m happy to see them on my little Snuggly Man.

 

Summer Activities Plan…Upcycled Castle

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Summer is in full swing! We kick off summer with lots of birthdays and celebrations, not to mention all the fun summer events like library story hour and reading club, swimming at the pool, and summer kids’ movies at the theater. However, our excursions work best during the morning, with some quiet time in the afternoon but still more time to fill with fun during the “twilight” hour or two before my Honey gets home from work. I don’t want to let this time slip away or let a sleepy toddler who refuses to nap fall into trouble for lack of some organized activity…besides helping in the kitchen sometimes. So, my summer activity plan has been devised, and I’m kind of excited about it…mostly because it involves Pinterest, so I’m getting to share my joy of Pinterest with my daughter.

First, I created a Pinterest board just for Pen Elaine, full of simple to pull-together-activities that I thought she would enjoy during an afternoon.

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Second, I printed off the list, so Pen Elaine could see all the activity pictures without us having to turn on a screen…too much risk of her wanting to watch videos on the computer or my phone or whatever, but I wanted her to be able to “browse” the activity ideas.

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Now, for the fun part! I let her choose a picture for us to do, either in the morning (so I can pull the supplies together while she’s resting or reading or having some screen time during her afternoon “rest” time) or in the afternoon when we are ready to pull together our supplies together and make our project right then!

Our first pinterest project was a castle made from cereal boxes, paper towel rolls, and toilet paper rolls – we love it!

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I taped together two cereal boxes of varying size, then covered the larger sides with construction paper. I cut some ridges (cutout squares) on the tops of towel and to rolls to look more castle-like. We used masking tape to roughly tape on our towers- some big and some little- and Pen Elaine decided to make one of towers a “cannon” instead. Last, we had a paint free for all with red, purple, and white craft paint- mixed to make pink- and wearing craft smocks to protect clothing! After drying overnight, it was ready for actual play.
 

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We have even pulled out all her “little people” princesses to play with in the castle – they work great – they can even stand on top of the towers!

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