Homemade Christmas Ornaments

This decoration was inspired by Pinterest, as always, except now I have addicted my sister, too!  She found these beautiful homemade Christmas ornaments, and we thought we’d get a jump start on holiday gifts by making some for our loved ones from the kids.

Will we succeed?  You be the judge!

First, make the dough.  Here are the directions for clay Christmas decorations from The Woodside Kitchen, which my niece and I followed to a T.

Ingredients

1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup baking soda
3/4 cup water

Making Clay

In a medium sized pot combine the cornstarch, baking soda, and water. With an adult’s help the kids can stir this mixture over medium-low heat. After a couple of minutes, the mixture will begin to thicken. When it looks like smooth, mashed potatoes, remove the pot from the heat.  (Ours didn’t look this way until we added a bit more cornstarch and baking soda, which we did by sight.  May have been a mistake).  Spoon the ball of dough into a bowl and cover it with a damp cloth until it’s cool. When it’s cool, knead it on a smooth surface, adding a little more cornstarch if it feels sticky.

Rolling, Cutting, and Baking

Preheat oven to 175 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out clay to 1/4 inch thick on a surface lightly dusted with cornstarch. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Transfer shapes to the prepared baking sheet. Use a straw or needle to poke a hole in the center top of each decoration.  Place them in the oven at 175 degrees for about an hour, turning them over halfway through cooking.

Paint or decorate them and thread a piece of ribbon, twine or yarn through the holes.

Now, this is where things varied from our inspiration.  No matter how long we waited–we even put them in the freezer!–the cookies stayed somewhat soft and doughlike and some even broke.  Was it our extra cornstarch and baking soda?  I certainly don’t know, but we decorated them anyway and hoped that over time they would harden.

We could have added food coloring to the dough, but we wanted an array of colors so we stuck with paint.  And glitter.  Lots of glitter!

Then since they were starting to break (I even used a hot glue gun to try to salvage them) we put them outside and hoped they would cool down and harden.

No luck.  They still broke.  But I bet it was something that I did in my experience/impatience.  They were still fun and beautiful, and worth a try if you think that dough isn’t beyond your expertise–unlike myself!  Get in the holiday spirit–especially if you’re about to be stuck indoors with all this rain!–and give this beautiful holiday decoration a try!

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Autumn Button Branch

It’s official!  The first fall craft of the year!  Thank you Meet the Dubiens!

What is it with kids and buttons?  Maybe it’s because they look like candy, but luckily my kids know they can’t eat them.  There’s something about seeing that glossy rainbow spread across the table that is just so tantalizing–kids just have to sort and touch and admire.  I do, too, actually.  I won’t pretend I don’t love a good button sort.

So I gave the kids all our buttons and asked them to pull out the fall colors (plus green).  Then we headed outside, grabbed a small, relatively flat twigs, and glued each to a piece of cardstock with Tacky Glue.  I put a few very heavy books on top while they dried.

Then I added a ton of Elmer’s glue and the kids glued the button “leaves” to the branches of our fall tree.  The loved it.

I will admit that I had to help more than I usually care to–it took a lot of buttons and my presence helped keep them on task.  Also, I found that I had to keep adding more glue to give the branches more shape (so that they didn’t just trace an outline of buttons around each branch).  Oh, and don’t forget button color hoarding.  Have to be on the lookout for that.

In the end, they look beautiful and the kids went to see them first thing this morning!  That plus a touch of a chill in the air and apple picking this weekend makes it really feel like fall!  We’re happy to celebrate the occasion!

Happy Fall everyone!

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Footprint Butterflies

I love crafts that use hand, finger, or footprints because I adore anything that documents my kids’ size–how little their fingers were when they were one year old, how their feet grew between six months and three years.  I also love a craft that makes my daughter squeal with delight, and painting her toes was indeed delightful for both of us.

Footprint Butterflies @ Rub Some Dirt On It

 I got the idea here on Pinterest.  Basically you only need paint and paper and some fat baby toes. You paint the toes in a festive pattern and do your best to mirror them on both feet so they look like a matching pair.  I think using a sponge paintbrush works the best, but a traditional brush does produce more giggles.  Be sure to take the time to enjoy the giggles!

Footprint Butterflies @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Important note: stamp the left foot as the right wing, and the right foot as the left wing.  That way they will angle out like wings really do.

For the finishing touches, I painted antennae and a butterfly body, and Em used her thumb to create the nubs atop the antennae.  Then I added a touch of glitter while the paint was wet just for fun.

Footprint Butterflies @ Rub Some Dirt On It

This came out so beautifully, it is being framed and put up in her bedroom.  Put that in combination with photos of her in butterfly wings, and you’ve done more than made a craft and had some fun–you’ve created artwork that celebrates your little ones!

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Leaf Prints & Q-Tip Art, Take 2

Some crafts are so nice, they deserve to be done twice!  Or at least, once a year!  Making leaf prints and painting with Q-Tips were two of my favorite crafts from last year, even with one-year-old Em who was just learning the pleasure of painting, so I thought we should give them another go round this year with two older, slightly more mature artists!

All you need is a bunch of paint smeared on a cookie sheet, and a large piece of paper.  Then go collect some green, non-crunchy leaves in different shapes and sizes (which is a great opportunity to talk about different types of plants) and stamp away!

In this instance, there is no such thing as too much paint.  The more paint, the better.  Make sure you press down completely, including the stem to get the best and most accurate stamp of the leaf.

And once you run out of leaves, don’t waste the leftover paint!  Pull out some Q-tips for some more painting fun!

And when the novelty has worn off with that, there are always ten pudgy fingers with tons of creases, just waiting to dip into the action!

We had a lot of fun, and made a birthday gift in the process!  Nothing says a gift made with love than fingerpaint with a creative spin on it.  How else are you painting this summer?  I’d love to hear!  There’s no better way to spend a Saturday morning, and I love to try some new crafts.  Leave a comment and let me know!

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Favorite Craft #1: Fingerprint Critters

I am loving how cheerful our kitchen is looking this spring!

 

Thanks to a great idea I found here, and with some card stock, markers, finger paint, and twenty little fingers handy, we had all we needed to put a little spring in our step, and our home!

Here’s how to make the birdies on the branch:

I mounted it on another piece of card stock since I cut out a big accidental smear across the top. The kids are still talking about making them and love pointing out which bird they made to visitors! And I love that Jax’s red bird is just a tiny bit bigger than Em’s purple bird, just like in real life. I’m such a Mommy dork.

And here’s how to make the springtime scene. Basically, all the critters are made out of finger or thumb prints, with a touch of marker here and there (like for the bee’s stripes and the flowers’ stems) for details.

The biggest trick with this one–and in all crafts, really–is being completely prepared before the kids come to the table so you never have to turn your back on them and your creation for a moment.  As you can see, our caterpillars were victims of a bit of wayward abuse, but they survived.  Take a minute to pin this or save it somewhere you won’t forget–this spring celebration is a keeper for sure!

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Favorite Craft #2: Leaf Prints

It’s really starting to feel like fall around here, and I found a great seasonal art project from I Heart Crafty Things that celebrates the change of seasons in a colorful and creative way. The autumn colors are gorgeous in Vermont, but before you know it the leaves have fallen and become a crunchy, brown carpet littering our yard and driveway. Because autumn is officially here and since we will soon be knee-deep in its evidence, I love a craft that will help me explain the abstract concept of the seasons and get the kids prepared for the chilly days to come. And the final product is really pretty!

 

So here’s what you need:

Leaves, paint, paper, cookie sheet

Here’s what you do.

 

Collect green, non-crunchy, still fresh leaves of all shapes and textures. If they are fallen and crunchy, they’ll be too stiff to lay in the paint and will just disintegrate and make your paint all nasty. So keep in mind, you’ll have to do this craft soon, or else all your leaves will be out of commission!

Then pour some paint into a cookie sheet and smear it all around. I used fingerpaint and a spatula. Set ground rules for the spatula ahead of time. Trust me. It becomes a rainbow weapon of temptation.

 

Then lay your leaves in the paint. Try to press them down as completely as possible so the entire leaf and all its textures and crevices is covered.

 

Then peel the leaf off…

 

(I like this picture)

…and press it onto a nice clean sheet of paper.

 

Try to press down firmly over the entire leaf, making sure that as much paint as possible is transferred to the paper. Otherwise your leaf looks like this—

 

–and the result isn’t nearly as good.

In the end, if you’re creative, you could make a really cool pattern of leaves to decorate your home or even frame as a seasonal work of art if you like them that much. I was really pleased with ours, although I didn’t plan ahead with any kind of rhyme or reason to our artwork.

 

I was still focusing on keeping my kids as un-painted as possible.

 

Hence the finger paint.

This craft was about 75% me, 25% them, so although I am really pleased with how they came out, I will hold off from saving or framing them until I can look at the finished product and know it was 100% their creation. Regardless, we’ll still do it every year because they really are lovely to look at and it was a fun way to say goodbye to summer and usher in the fall.

 

Sure is starting to feel like fall around here!

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Favorite Craft #5: Watercolor Initials

I have been meaning to do this quick and easy craft forever, since I pinned it from here and since I had such success making winter tree silhouettes using the same process. This was a lot more fun and pretty, and the kids really loved owning their initial!

I nonchalantly took out the masking tape, paper, and watercolors, started ripping the tape into strips to form the first letters of their names, and by the time I was through, they were begging me to participate!
Once the letters of their names are formed, just let them paint all over the paper to their heart’s content.

Em was chanting, “Water, paint, paper, water, paint, paper…” to make sure she got the process in the correct order. Jax did a lot of “Paint, water, paper,” which led to a bit of a soggy mess, so be sure to stay on top of that.

Try to get them to paint the entire paper, especially around the edges of the tape so that the letters are clearly defined. Then let the paint dry and rip the paint off to reveal your children’s initials proudly!

Love them. The initials, and the kids. Smile.

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