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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Cocktails & Crafts Revival!

It’s been a while since my friends and I got together for some Cocktails & Crafts fun, so when my friend Heather said she found a fun craft she’d like to share and would like to host an autumn party, we were in!

There were tons of delicious snacks to choose from, including my spider peanut butter sandwiches, candy corn, and fresh fruits and veggies.  The kids grazed on vittles and utterly enjoyed each other’s company, with the bonus that Colby and Lincoln’s Nana was there to visit and gave them all her complete attention!  Nothing like a grandmother to keep the troops safe and happy!

It was a good thing we had her, too, because with–wait for it–SIXTEEN KIDS under five on hand, we needed all hands on deck!  And once they started making a break for the great outdoors, we really had to divide and conquer.

The kids did not care that it was freezing and would escape with no shoes, coats, or hats–they’d just see a gap in our vigilance and head for the hills.  Usually en masse, so they really were easy to spot as they headed out the door.  This was a good time to break them up into groups, introduce the craft, and try not to lose one or two in the confusion!

A great autumn craft–apple stamps!  Let the kids stamp to their heart’s content using half an apple.  Their pictures came out great!

And then, of course, back outside.  Why, you ask?  Because there were horses…

…and then it started to SNOW!  Needless to say, back inside!

We stayed until it was dark and the kids were in their pajamas and shuttled home just in time for bed.  Thanks to the Nana-on-hand, there was time for this–

–and a lot of fun for all!

Thanks, Heather, for hosting and for reviving Cocktails & Crafts for one last hurrah!  Maybe I’ll motivate myself for another holiday go round this year.  It’s such a fun excuse to get together with friends–why not?

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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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Bad Day Buster

My kids and I were having a bad day last week–I was tired, they were whiny, Daddy wasn’t coming home to put them to bed so there was no respite in sight.  After dinner, which was exhausting, I was ready to throw in the towel, except I still had a couple hours of daylight left.    In a desperate attempt to ignore my children–my best parenting moment, to be sure–I started rifling through their goodie bags from my nephew’s birthday party and found a godsend in the form of four glo-sticks.

Lights out + bathtub + 4 glo-sticks = 2 happy kids.  And that equals 1 happy mama.

I’ve seen this on Pinterest  a bunch of places, and I don’t know why I didn’t give it a try sooner.  My kids are now obsessed with glo-sticks, and if I didn’t know this would be a stellar way to keep them simply busy, I do now.

The party moved into their bedroom where they played drums on their beds while I got them in their pj’s and then Em had a dance party.

I didn’t want to leave the sticks with them in their beds, so I hung them above their ceiling fan and they fell asleep happy.  Now I want to know where I can buy glo-sticks in bulk, because there is nothing that a mama needs more than happy babies!  Beat a bad day the easy way!

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A Crafty Delicacy

A craft that works on fine motor skills, patterns, can be worn AND eaten, and keeps the kids happy and quiet for a few minute?  Sounds to good to be true?  Feast your eyes on this simply busy activity!

Make your own cereal bracelet!  Idea stolen from here.

Need a mid-morning filler activity, say, right around snack time?  Look no further.  This took us nearly a half hour and the kids were totally excited AND were fed!  Two for the price of one!

So all you need is some kind of string/ribbon/hemp cord and cereal with a hole in it!  I used Fruity Cheerios so that we could talk about colors and patterns as well, but plain old o’s would be fine, too.  My initial hope was that the kids would be able to string them themselves, hence fine motor fun.  That proved to be a bit tricky, however.

The edges of the cord started to fray and the kids gave up and just ate the cereal.  At that point I intervened, stole the cords and asked them to lay out the color pattern they wanted for their bracelets.

Kind of looks like a pattern! Who knew?!

Then I strung them on the bracelets and they had a tasty snack/new piece of jewelry!  Who loves that idea, raise your hand!

I suggest you make the bracelets a little big because once the cereal is on they tend to get snug.  Or maybe my kids are just little chunky monkeys!

Yummy!  Enjoy!

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Balloon Launchers!

JDubbs and I are hitting the road with the kids in tow for a little family vacation in Maine.  Nothing elaborate–just us, a cheap motel, and the ocean.  Until we return, here’s a fun activity that will keep the whole family busy in harmless fun–creating balloon launchers (aka pom pom catapults!).

As usual I found this idea here ages ago and have been dying to try it out, but I wanted to wait until JDubbs was around because I knew he’d excel in all things catapult-ish.  So one day when the kids were overtired and whiny but bedtime was just a little too far away, I pulled this out of my bag of tricks and we had an hour of family fun!

Here’s what you need:

plastic cups, balloons, scissors, pom poms

Here’s what you do:

First, cut the bottoms off the plastic cups, leaving the side with the lip intact.  Then knot the open end of a balloon and then cut off the bottom (the round part if it was blown up).

Next wrap the balloon around the lip of the cup so that the knot is sticking up on top.  After trial and error, JDubbs found that stacking two cups on top of each other was the sturdiest and best plan for your launcher.

Then you flip it over, pop a pom pom inside, pull the knot back on the balloon, and let go!  Instant slingshot/catapult/balloon launcher!

Things to watch out for: sharp edges on the cut sides of the plastic cups and kids shooting harder objects (like acorns, buttons, etc) than pom poms.  Jax spent a lot of time looking AT his pom pom while he was trying to shoot it–which would have been bad news if his missile was more in the rock family and less of a cotton ball.

Em got in the game, too, although she had terrible luck launching anything and eventually became our human zamboni and happily ran around cleaning up flying pom poms.  She’s a good sport, our Em.

Please note both Em’s humidity hair and the fact that her pom pom was very much still inside the launcher.

Mommy and Daddy even got in the game, having target practice–no, not on our kids–trying to see who could hit the kids’ big watercolor initials hanging in the kitchen.  I was pretty terrible, but JDubbs, as I figured, was very entertained.  It was probably one of the best hours we’ve spent as a family in a while.  And it cost us approximately $3 at the dollar store and five minutes worth of time.  Don’t you think that’s an investment worth making?

See you all when we get back on Thursday for the blog hop!!  Happy lauching!

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