We're happy to be over at Cindy's Craft Camp again this summer, this time making these pretty yet super easy lanterns my mom used to make with us.
Head over and check them out. Take a look at all the other fun crafts while you're there too. Keep your kids busy awhile and make some great stuff, will ya?!
Brian shimmied up a branch of the elm tree on Saturday and hung a rope swing for the monkey. School is out for the summer this Wednesday, and she has already written on the calendar for Thursday... "Swing on the rope swing!"
It really is the simple stuff that makes life so good.
Hello! Guess what?! N's little fairy garden has had some visitors!
First Violet (the flower fairy) stopped by and gave her a note and four teeny tiny flower pots. He asked for a bed, so she quickly outfitted the house with one and some furniture from her doll house. And then the other night Daisy (the flower fairy) stopped in and left her a little mailbox so they all can exchange notes. N left a note with a drawing and Buttercup answered her back. And then Papa brought her some tiny garden gnomes to keep watch when the fairies aren't around. She is loving it!
We big people have been busy trying to spruce up our human-sized yard. I'm pondering vegetables. I'm really not so great at it, but N really wants to grow her own food. I'm thinking of planting both raised beds with something fun and easy like pumpkins. I really want a fruit tree, but we have lots of cedars in surrounding yards, and I've heard that apples and pears don't do well if there are cedars nearby. Any suggestions? J and I would both kill for some chickens, but our city is just not (sub)urban chicken friendly. You have to have a yard larger than 3 acres to have them without a permit, and they reject all the permits folks with smaller yards apply for. Sigh.
Speaking of gardening, I have been stalking tend trying to spark something. The ladies all over there are so quietly inspirational. I'm also craving a visit to Heather's garden in person- that yard of hers always makes me want to get my hands dirty. Can I come sometime soon, H? : )
Last spring my mom's friend and neighbor, Gloria, and her little granddaughter made a fairy garden. It sits on a pedestal and has a little cottage and plants and moss and some itty bitty garden furniture. N has to stop and visit it often. I admit I do too- it's REALLY cute. I thought I took some photos of it before, but I can't seem to hunt them down.
N began pestering me to help her make one right away. My mom and dad gave us the hypertufa mix. I was trying to think of a way to make a mold for a square house, but then a few days ago talking with my mom, we came up with a much easier idea: a little mushroom house! We used a bucket and molded the base, and a big wooden bowl to form the top. My mom donated a cracked bird bath to the cause, and the tree-stump base is from the infamous elm tree branch.
Yesterday after school we went to the nursery and bought some tiny-leaved plants- two kinds of thyme, rosemary that looks like a little pine tree, a couple of plants with teeny little flowers. While we were there, we couldn't resist the little bistro table and chairs.
And now she waits for a fairy. So sweet is that girly.
... here it comes.
Are you ready? I feel ready.
The kids in our extended family are growing up, and really, they just want money or a gift card to help them with that next big thing they're saving for. So there's just not much shopping to do. (Hallelujah.)
I've already started on some handmade gifts. I'll flickr them if you're at all interested.
Is anyone even still reading here?
I'll pretend that you're still there.
Anyway... where was I? Shopping's nearly done. Hot cocoa is at the ready. Our little advent socks are up, although #24 has mysteriously vanished. Some simple holiday activities are underway. We're getting our tree tomorrow too.
Tonight was cozy. It's rainy, and we discovered Words with Friends, and we all (my mom at her house, my sister and niece at theirs, Brian, J, and I- with N as my helper- here at home) played each other on our iPods and phones. This could be a problem. A big problem.
I'm really going to try to be here a little more this month. I don't know why- or what I'll write about even. But I miss it. Will you stop in and say 'hello' once in awhile?
Yawn. Okay then. Nighty night.
If you're looking for a project (or 30!) to do with your kids, head over to Cindy's Craft Camp. She's collecting a bunch that are sure to cure the summer doldrums. I'll be there tomorrow with instructions on how to make a jingly-jangly little wind chime out of old silver utensils.
Every summer we take a camping trip not too far away with a big group of friends. And every year my friends moan a little about how much work it is and how little sleep they get.
But just to see all the kids busy in their free-range adventures makes it all worthwhile- carving sticks and soap, collecting bugs, digging in sand, swimming in the lake, eating s'mores- it's the stuff of good childhood memories. Reliving your own childhood memories doesn't exactly suck either.
(And for the record, I always sleep like a baby when we camp. My friends hate me a little for that, but it's true.)
It's a soccer ball cake! This cake has been requested by miss N since last soccer season. And it was just right for a little celebration.
J's soccer team played in a tournament this (very. incredibly. windy.) weekend, and they won their division!! They've worked hard; they deserve this bit of victory.
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Apparently, I'm still having much difficulty finding the motivation to write here regularly. Where oh where have you gone, my blogging mojo?!
It's almost Halloween! Woooo hoooo!
Back in our childless days, Brian and I always had a big rockin' costume party the Saturday before Halloween. There were scary decorations, and gory costumes and kegs of beer and greasy appetizers. As the years have rolled along and the children around us increased, we've tamed ourselves considerably (as we should). Somewhere along the line our party fizzled out, but our love of this holiday seems to have been passed down to our monkeys.
A friend of my mom's had a pumpkin carving party last weekend- with a reggae band and a caricature artist and a giant table full of yummy food. We put together the kids' costumes, went to their school parties, and also went to Trunk-or-Treat. We've had a couple days off school and we've been hanging out with friends. And we're still looking forward to more fun this weekend!
Last night while we were snuggled up on the couch watching The Great Pumpkin, N told me that Halloween might be her favorite holiday of all. "Me too!" I said.
Stay safe on Sunday!
First the multiple dumpings of snow, then weeks of unrelenting frigid temps, and now we've been submerged into a cold, thick fog for days on end. It's been odd weather this year for sure.
But we've found a few things to distract us. There was a birthday. A certain young man here turned nine. And I can't even believe it.
And we've made a few things. N made a snow globe:
And I made a desert terrarium:
I don't think mushrooms grow in the desert, but the desert part was unplanned. Apparently it is nearly impossible to find live moss in Kansas in January.
Monday Tuesday, everyone.
I missed the last day of Autumn Color Week so I thought I'd pop in with some colorful photos from the Weston Applefest today- we go every year and it always feels like the official beginning of Fall for our little family.
We are really happy this weekend. I hope you are too!
Over the weekend N and I went with some good friends to the lake- unfortunately our boys had to stay home.
We ate well and swam off the dock. We took it easy. There was a third birthday to celebrate and another with a three followed by a larger number. ; )
The sun was warm but the breeze was cool. The beach was fun until the lips turned blue. At night we put on sweatshirts and took sunset boat rides. The kids passed out tired and the grownups built a fire. It felt like a fitting end to the summer.
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The little one started preschool yesterday and the boy voluntarily wore jeans today. He declared as he was getting dressed that he smelled the Apple Fest.
The season is turning for sure.
Good morning! We are back from our camping trip, and everything is washed and put away. My son says no one in the world loves camping as much as he does. This may be true. He took his first camping trip when he was four months old. It is our vacation of choice, so I thought I'd share a few thoughts on camping today.
I think if you're not a camper, you're just not. You can't force it. You have to be okay with the possibility of ticks and spiders galore and the occasional snake. For those of us who love to camp, there is just nothing like it. Are you a camper? Would you like to find out?
First, I think you have to consider to what level of "roughing it" you're willing to go. We were never backpackers, but my husband and I have always camped. We used to rough it a lot more- a little tent, a couple of sleeping bags, a lantern and the camp stove. That was plenty. But two children later, we pack up tons of gear. And we're fine with that.
We have a big Coleman three room tent. Tip #1: Invest in a quality tent and take care of it. We made it through a couple of decent thunderstorms this time with very minimal leakage. We take air mattresses (Tip #2: Air mattresses make all the difference) with real sheets, a canopy for over the table (so in the rain we can eat and play cards), a three burner propane camp stove, a camp box filled with kitchen necessities, the list goes on and on. and on.
Tip #3: If you're going to camp a lot- keep your gear packed up. We have several Rubbermaid tubs we keep it in. After the trip we clean, sort, repack and stack it all in the basement in the tubs. These are what we call our camp boxes.
Tip #4: Be prepared. Make a list and do all your thinking at home, so you don't have to worry while you're there. You can click HERE to download a pdf of our list for ideas. Our camp boxes are where we keep our dishes, cooking pots, silverware and knives, cups, tea towels, dish scrubbers, cutting board, matches, camp hammock, plastic tablecloth, clothesline, etc. You'll have to make that list based on your preferences. And of course this list doesn't include personal clothing items.
Another thing to think about is where you want to camp. Water is a must for us. We love rivers and streams, but a lake will do, and we swim a lot. Showers are another must. We can skip a day or two, but then we crave a good shower. We usually camp in state, national, or corp of engineer parks. You can find the whole gamut of places out there from hike-in sites to private campgrounds with pools- just do a little research.
Tip #5: Let the kids pack some toys- buckets and shovels, a few art supplies, books, and maybe a few little tent toys- but not too many. They will go from whining that they're bored, to digging in dirt and building elaborate caterpillar castles in a day or two. It's a most important transformation- and my favorite.
Tip #6: Eat healthy while you're there. Your stomach will thank you.
Tip #7: But take treats. We always take those tiny boxes of sugary cereal and s'more fixings. To me special treats like that make for good memories.
Tip #8: Clean up and pack up your food really well at night. Animals can be aggressive (and smart!) when it comes to finding a snack.
Tip #9: Take Benadryl (adult and kid) with you. You may not need it, but it's there just in case someone has a nasty reaction to something (bug, sting, food, etc.) and you need a little time to get into town for medical treatment.
Tip #10: Don't sacrifice your principles for the sake of convenience. We wash our dishes and save our recyclables. It's a pain, but so worth it.
Tip #11: Relax. Don't plan too much. For us the best part of camping is the absolute absence of schedule. Eat when you're hungry, play when you're bored, nap when you're tired, stay up late and watch for shooting stars, wake up early and fish if you want. Ahhhhh...
I hope you found these tips helpful. Let me know If you want to borrow anything to give it a go. ; )
You all know how I feel about the local food. I've been wanting to pick blueberries for years, and I've heard a lot about this place. So this morning I checked the picking report, woke the kids up early (8:20, people. I love my late-sleepin' babies.) and we headed out.
Now don't get me wrong. The farm is large and lovely and there's a lot for the kids to do. But oh man. It was crowded. I mean CROWDED. Crowded at 9:30 am. Crowded like 2 bus loads of children and maybe 100 cars. Crowded like if you find a bush with lots of ripe berries, keep your mouth shut, your head down, and pick quickly. More than once I saw people giving each other the stink eye for honing in on their bush.
Anyway, my kids didn't find it very enjoyable, but it was a long drive so we toughed it out and filled a few buckets. And on the very bright side, we're looking forward to blueberry muffins, cobbler and maybe even blueberry ice cream!
And here are the little crafty things we started on Friday.
I just finished the wool felt egg cozy this morning- very cute and easy**- and I want to make several more. Actually, we didn't finish the decoupaged eggs until yesterday either. (The little girls loved making these and they turned out just lovely.) As I expected, we just got too busy that day eating and drinking and making cookies to get everything done. It was such a fun afternoon!
** The cozy is not my design. My friend Adele found them in the newspaper and we worked from her little clipping; I can't find them anywhere online to give the designer credit. **
Buy a couple packages of tissue paper, some white school glue, and a bag of balloons. Pronto. Here are the directions.
When we popped the balloons, there was a moment of sheer terror when some of the sides tried to collapse, but as soon as the balloon was removed the edges smoothed right back out.
I'm dreaming of about 30 of these hanging from the trees over the patio on a calm summer night, twinkly music and fireflies, perhaps a sangria in hand ...
Last night the kids started these lanterns. Today I beefed them up with a few more layers for fear they'll collapse when we let out the air.
So today's main activities seem to be watching the glue dry and the snow fall with a little hot cocoa thrown in for good measure. Oh, and batting around the spare balloons.
Simple pleasures, friends. Simple pleasures.
Oh, good grief no, he's not wrestling!
He had his pinewood derby race early this morning. Although his car, Rocket Fuel, didn't win any awards, we had fun. And thanks, by the way, for all the well wishes for him. You all are the best! After about an hour of lounging around yesterday, he was right as rain. I told him I wouldn't make him go to school (I usually do in a case like that) but he better remember I gave him a freebie.
Of course now his baby sister has a fever. Oh, joy.
I saw this in a Mary Engelbright book years ago, although I can't remember which one. Fast and sweet. Of course there's no way to use the whole bag of gumdrops, so there's plenty of extras to taste test. But be sure to keep them up high; they are very appealing to small dogs and humans.
P.S. Thank you so much for all of the sweet comments yesterday. I will make sure my mom sees every one.
Homemade Chia Pet Day One:
Something should develop with these guys soon!
Added, 3/26/08: HELLO, lovelies who arrived here via The Crafty Crow... I never posted directions for these funny fellows:
Find an old nylon stocking.
Drop a scoop of grass seed in the toe.
Stuff a handful of mulch in next.
Tie it off tightly in a knot, so it can't shift around in there.
Paint on a face. Or draw one on with a Sharpie.
After the face is dry, place the chia pet (knot side down) in a little saucer of water.
Keep him wet and in the sunlight and the grass seed will sprout up through the stocking.
I apologize for not taking an after photo- part of what makes these guys so funny is the hair is very unpredictable. It can come in in some crazy patterns.