Monday, November 30, 2009

* Homemade Christmas: Family Advent Calendar

So many lovely ideas floating around the web right now for advent calendars.
My dear bloggy friend, Teach Mama
has a wonderful post about her family's advent calendar this year!

In the past we've used chocolate open a door-each-day-style calendars.
Last year we opened the Playmobil winter forest animals advent set
(now part of our ever-expanding Fairy village!)

One year, the Frog Princess made an adorable Santa Advent,
we glued a cotton ball to his beard each day to count down to Christmas.

This year, we're trying envelopes.
I have a huge box of small key envelopes
leftover from an altered books workshop I attended last spring.
I was inspired by this envelope advent at Design Sponge,
this one at Blue Cricket Design
this one at Nice Package,
they also have a wonderful list of activities we borrowed part of our list from!
I made a "rope" by braiding fat yarn --Red, White and, Green.

We strung it across the doorway
between our family room and kitchen table.

I brainstormed a list with the kids and hubby,
printed it out and slipped our ideas into the envelopes.

Each day, we'll do a new activity to celebrate the season!
Here's our list: Harris Family Advent 2009
1. Candlelit bath!
2. Make Paper Snowflakes and Decorate the Windows
3. Make a CD of Christmas Music for the playroom.
4. Rootbeer Floats!
5. Bake something yummy with Mama
6. Make Christmas Cards for Friends/Family
7. Have hot chocolate with marshmallows.
8. Make a pipe cleaner candy cane or wreath.
9. Make a Paper Chain.
10. Use puppets to tell a Bedtime Story.
11. Have an indoor picnic.
12. Family Game Night (Wii, board games, puzzles?)
13. Make and Decorate a Gingerbread House.
14. Dance and Sing to Christmas Music.
15. Set up the Mouse Nativity.
16. Make a Christmas Craft.
17. Make a Christmas Ornament.
18. Dress Fancy for Dinner tonight.
19. Fashion Show with Clothes made out of gift wrap!
(Recycled from opening presents with grandparents)
20. Make and Hang Edible Gifts/ornaments for the Birds and Squirrels.
21. Surprise a neighbor with an act of kindness.
22. At Home Pedicures!
23. Watch a Christmas movie with popcorn.
24. Pick your Favorite Christmas book for mom (or dad) to read aloud.
25. Open Presents!
We always drive around our neighborhood
to look at lights and displays,
this year we'll be surprising the girls with an impromptu,
in Pajamas holiday lights tour.
We're taking our cues this year from Shells in My Pocket
blog and her Minivan Express! (so. cool.)
The girls won't know what night it will be until...
Daddy will get them in their PJs
while I pop popcorn and make cocoa downstairs,
then we'll tell them to put on shoes and
go for a ride with our special holiday light viewing glasses--
they change the lights into shapes like stars, words, angels, etc!
(my MIL bought them at a holiday store years ago for us!)
Happy Countdown!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Homemade Christmas Gifts: Scrappy Bookmarks

Pssst....if you're a female relative reading this,
and you don't want to know what you're
getting for Christmas this year,
go read something else!

I like to mix store-bought gifts
with more personalized homemade gifts.
This month, I'm on a roll producing
simple, but heart-felt gifts for family.
I pretty much leave the boys alone but I do
make gifts for the special women
in our family.
I am blessed to have grandmas, aunts, my mom, mother-in-law,
and a lovely sister-in-law to create for.

Many generations of women that came before me
worked as seamstresses for their families,
quilting, making clothing, mending,
and sewing beautiful home made doll clothes.
Whenever I sit at my sewing machine,
I feel a special connection as
I think of these talented women creating for their families.

I also like to come up with gifts that are useful.
We are all voracious readers
so bookmarks hit the spot this year!

My scrap basket still has bits of baby clothes
left over from the
I made for the girls this year.

I also have a nice stack of paint swatches sitting on my craft table
(the perfect bookmark size if you ask me).

I combined the baby clothes scraps
with scrapbooking paper scraps
and machine stitched them to the paint sample cards
to create these easy and whimsical bookmarks.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Homemade Christmas Gifts: Paint Sample Purse Notebooks

I believe I first saw this fantastic project

So quick and easy you can whip them out on your own
or with your crafy kid assistants.

Artsy + HeARTfelt + Simple + Useful =
a perfect homemade Christmas gift.

I folded paint samples like a match book.
Trimmed some purple paper from a post-it notepad,
stapled the little stack (approx 15-20 sheets) and tucked under the flap.
I just eyeballed it, I'm not a big fan of exact measurements.

Who doesn't need a little notepad in their purse, glove box, backpack?
Happy Crafting!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving 2009! Things I am Thankful For This Year...

From my little family to yours...

Wishing you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

I am so thankful for you taking the time to read about our projects.

Thank you for following us on our little journey here.
Your kind thoughts and comments are something I hold near and dear.
Reading your comments (and your blogs) has been so inspiring and up-lifting.
You have helped me feel less isolated as I spend my days parenting my sweet girls.
I feel like I actually know so many of you and consider you to be my bloggy friends!

I am also thankful for:


* family - -all of us under one roof to celebrate and feast together
(thank you in-laws for traveling great distances, siblings for driving with precious cargo,
and parents willing to host us!)

* a bountiful table of wonderful homemade food (thanks for cooking dad!)

* the gift of time to play with my girls and make fun art year round

* good health, two healthy and happy little girls
and a wonderful best friend of a cancer free husband (almost 14 years!)

* our warm home

* friends (old and new)


* the ability to play flag football (in our turkey bowl) today with good friends and neighbors

* new sweat pants that aren't too short and don't make my butt look fat

* good books!

* peppermint coffee creamer

* digital photography and the ability to record the little things
and share our lives with family across the miles...

*making home movie DVDs on iDVD and being able to travel back in time
and see my girls when they were smaller!

* my reusable Starbucks to-go cup

(All artwork in today's post was made by my wonderful in-residence artist, the Frog Princess.)
What are you thankful for this year?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Play Time: Farm In Our Playroom

When the girls were stuck inside
with the swine flu a few weeks ago,
we had to get creative and come up with some
new quiet games to play.

With cold weather and long afternoons ahead,
I thought this might be fun for some of your households as well.

We decided to build a farm.
First we collected all of our barns,
barnyard critters, fences, and trucks/tractors
from the playroom menagerie.

I put a big piece of green felt from my art studio
on the floor and added some smaller squares of brown and tan.

We cut a duck pond out of some blue felt
and lined it with pebbles
from one of our sensory boxes.

We planted some acorns
and plastic greenery as our crops.

The Frog Princess helped her Polly Pocket
deliver this baby sheep.

I'm hoping to make some wooden pumpkins soon
(and perhaps a few hay bails) to add to our crops.

The girls and I played for hours (for several afternoons) with the farm.

I packed up all of the supplies in one box
so we can set it up again easily.

Daisy the cat guarding our farm.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bubble Wrap Printmaking: Ocean Scene

The Frog Princess got the idea for this project
while we were making our
She asked for some blue and purple paint,
and printed some bubble wrap onto white paper.

Then, she wanted to add fish to her ocean scene,
and asked if we have any fish stamps.
Then I said, "no, but we can make some!"

I folded scraps of cardboard
from our recycling bin
into rectangles and we added
stick-on craft foam fish

I folded the cardboard back
to make handles
and stapled the card board.

I love this picture,
I think she did a great job on it.

Check out the
coral and sea snails
she added with my skinny brushes!

If I was still teaching art,
I would do this as a printmaking lesson
with some Eric Carle books
in a heart beat.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Kid's Art: Marble Painting

The girls asked if we could
paint with marbles.

So, we borrowed a handful of marbles
dipped them in plates of paint
we had out from this project
(and this project)

Put some scraps of paper inside
two box lids (one for each kid)
and went to work
tipping and rolling.

They created some very abstract
Jackson Pollock-style artwork!

I love a project they can do independently
and have a successful outcome.

Marble painting is wonderful this time of year
for making home-made cards,
gift tags,
gift wrap
(if you used a really big box...
or you were brave enough to let them
roll painted marbles in the tub on big paper)

Of course, the Mini-Saurus
just wanted to paint
after she was done with her marbles,
so why not...

She had a blast mixing colors
on pieces of paper inside
her little box lid
(it's actually a handy way to contain the mess!)

Note: See my handy baby wipes
for cleaning messy little fingers

(and feet, floors, arms, tables, etc.)

* Make Thanksgiving Corn With Bubble Wrap Printmaking

The girls and I decided to get crafty and make some decorations for the upcoming
Thanksgiving holiday.

We dove into our "invention box" (recycling that can't be recycled)
and snagged some bubble wrap.
and yes, we washed it and will be re-using it for our next craft adventure.

I set out plates of washable paint in red, orange, and yellow.

The girls had fun painting the bubble wrap and printing the bubbly textures 
on fall colored construction paper.

It was a very Eric Carle inspired process!

Note: I keep baby wipes (or damp rag/washcloths)
in arms reach at all times while we are doing
crafts like this with paint or glue for sticky, messy hands.

After the texture papers dried overnight,
(and the girls had a long soak in the bath!)
we practiced "cutting" and cut out some corn shapes.

I also traced Mini-Saurus' feet for some of our corn.
(Little square toes just like her mama, I'm part platypus!)

She helped me tear strips of green and brown paper to add to our corn.

Our finished corn-tastic project... pardon the corny joke.

One more little goodie we made with our "corn feet"
Home-made cards for long-distance relatives to send thankful greetings.
These would be fun place cards if you're hosting thanksgiving dinner!

I cut out the feet but Mini-Saurus was able to tear the paper strips for me.

The Frog Princess had the great idea of printing with some real corn.

I didn't have a fresh ear of corn (which works beautifully by the way)
so we used our pitiful little dried up ear of corn from our garden...

It didn't work very well.
We pretty much just made a huge painted mess but it was fun to try out.

Happy Printmaking!

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