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Getting Organized: A Fun New Way to Display

Organization projects are in full swing at our house. Every year about this time we work hard to put our house in order and tidy up a bit. This year I really wanted to try some fun new ways to organize and display “kid art”. I combined a few pinterest inspired ideas and came up with these fun frames. I will say that spray paint in January was tricky, the girls wore my old sweatshirts, mittens and hats and worked quick then ran in to warm up and sprayed some more! I think for future projects I would wait until spring or use acrylic paint and glitter glue!

Frames (take the glass and backing out) we had a couple we haven’t used in a long time and I got a couple in the clearance section at hobby lobby.

Spray Paint: we picked several bright colors as well as some glitter just for fun!

Hot Glue Gun

Binder Clips: I used this kind of clip because that is what I had. I think you could really use anything that pinches shut and holds paper securely.

Step 1:
Cover your work area. I couldn’t find our tarps so I used old sheets and newspaper.

Step 2: Lay your frames on the covered area and spray the first coat on. It works better if you really shake the can a lot before you open it and if you are close to the frame when you spray it.

Repeat this step as many times as it takes to get your frame as covered and as smooth as you want it.  Then let your frame dry completely (ours took about 2 hours to be completely dry-again I think the cold temperatures really affected that).

Step 3: Once your frame is dry, shake the glitter spray well and then spray it all over the painted frame.  We found this to be a bit tricky.  It takes a while to come out and when it does it foams white first and then a huge burst of glitter comes out, be patient and work with it to get the covering you are looking for.  Let this dry completely.  Ours took another good hour.

Step 4: Hot glue the binder clip to the center of one side of the frame.  Don’t forget to position it so that it is even with the edge so the picture can hang straight down.

Step 5: Once the glue is dry, ours dried really fast (5 minutes or so), secure your favorite piece of “kid art” in the clip and display the frame somewhere fun.  We put ours around a ledge we have in our play room.

We hope you have a great week getting organized or just getting things done!

The Gift Box

We were so blessed to have a fun Christmas celebration surrounded by the ones we love. Our girls are beyond blessed to have grandparents, great grandparents, aunt and great aunts that pour into them during the holiday season and we have worked hard with them to be sure they are grateful and not just expecting more and more material things. This year they did a great job stopping to appreciate each gift and to thank the giver. Still, we really wanted to drive home the point that gratitude is all year long and that our lives are full of amazing gifts we don’t often take the time to notice.   Our solution is simple: The Gift Box.

How to make a Gift Box:
You can make a gift box out of anything you like. We got a paper one on clearance at a craft store and painted it fun colors. You could paint or draw on a wooden one, you could use a plastic storage container or a gift bag or a fun shaped container;be as creative and unique as your family when you make your box.

How to use a Gift Box:
Place your box somewhere it can be seen often, we placed ours on the mantle in the family room.
Next instruct each family member to be looking daily for the special gifts they receive. Maybe a sibling is kind and lets them go first, maybe they get extra computer time, maybe mercy instead of consequences.   Maybe a compliment is given at work or an extra coupon shared at the store or an amazing sunrise experienced. Whatever the gifts, be on the look out for them and write or draw about them on a piece of paper and stick it in the gift box.  Be sure to date the entry.
Decide how often you want to open the gifts.  We are aiming for once a week at dinner. We’ll open the box and each person will share the gifts they put inside.  We’ll keep the shared gifts in a baggie and repeat the process the next week. Our big goal is to look over a year’s worth of gifts this time next year and really be thankful for all the great things that fill our lives.

We hope you have a great week and a great start to your new year!  If you are looking for something fun to do in this town while school is out, check out these super cool “Animals in Art” opportunities at Art Planet.

Unique Gifts for This Christmas

A very wise friend once challenged me with her idea of giving kids experiences rather than things. The more I pondered the idea, the more I loved it. Lincoln is a fantastic town in which to give kids experiences. Below are 2 of our favorite experiences in this town. Maybe they’ll be just the right gift for a kiddo in your life. The kids will love it and the money will stay local, it’s a win/win!

Art Planet
This is an amazing art studio right here in town. The teacher is creative and fun and has a respectful encouraging way with kids. Our oldest attends a weekly art class there and we have enjoyed their family art dayz as well. There are all kinds of ways for a kiddo to enjoy art planet, definitely worth a look!

Around the Corner Music Studio
We loved attending music classes here. I love that families can go together at a reasonable price and that the environment is lively and yet learning focused. The kids loved the activities and I loved what they learned in the process. Again, there are all kinds of options for children and families to enjoy the studio.

A taste of the Experiences that Await

The ornament in the picture came from a family day at art planet. We learned that you can use a funnel to pour ultra hold hairspray into a clear ornament and gently twist it to coat the inside. When you’re done turn it upside down in a cup for a minute to let the excess drip out. Then use a clean funnel to pour glitter into the ornament and shake it up (don’t forget to cover the hole before you shake!). Keep adding glitter and shaking until the ornament is covered. You can embellish it with stickers or glass pens and add a pretty ribbon for a unique handmade ornament that makes a fun gift!

We hope you’ll have a great week preparing for Christmas in this great town and we hope you’ll consider giving a local experience as a gift this season!

Christmas Tree Fun!

The Christmas Tree has long been a centerpiece of our Christmas decorations. We love tromping off to the woods to choose the right tree and we look forward to decorating it together. We love helping our grandma’s decorate their evergreens as well. Each year we look for a fun new “tree” themed dessert to make and serve. This year’s inspiration came from pinterest and it is super easy. The kids loved making them!

Christmas Tree Brownies

Prepare a box of regular brownies according to the package directions (fudge brownies won’t work as they aren’t firm enough). Let them cool completely.

Cut the brownies into triangle shapes. We made 20 Christmas Tree brownies from a 9×13 pan.

Break off the straight end of a mini-sized candy cane. Insert it into the middle of one side of the triangle to form the trunk of the tree.

Decorate the tree with frosting. We used the green glitter gel frosting that just squeezes from a tube and it worked great.

Enjoy your festive Christmas Tree Brownies.

Christmas Tree Story

One of our favorite Christmas Tree books is Curious George’s Christmas by Margaret and H.A. Rey. We read it and love it many times every Christmas season. The entire story centers around a tree and George’s hilarious experiences with it. The kids love the humor and excitement of the story. I love that it is a great lead in to thinking about kids in our community who might need a bit of cheering up this season. Here are a few links to ways you can help your kids be aware of and help find solutions to the needs of other kids in our community this season.

City Impact

People’s City Mission
Center for People in Need

Christmas Tree Crafts
This fun site was also discovered on pinterest. It is full of all kinds of Christmas Tree crafts that feature a variety of different skill levels and supplies. I haven’t been able to narrow it down to actually do one, so we may just end up doing several!

We hope your Christmas Season is off to a great start and that your family can take some time to slow down and enjoy some Christmas Tree themed fun together!

Fall Favorites: Pumpkin Edition

This week’s fall favorites post is all about pumpkins. Before I begin, I just have to throw in the fact that my littlest can say “pumpkin” and our house is full of the delightful sound of her pointing out pumpkins and proudly naming them all day long!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

I was looking for an easy new pumpkin recipe and have been thrilled with this find. It is easy and fun to make and perfect for little hands to help with. It is slightly addicting though, so consider yourself warned!

1 c. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
¼ c. sour cream
¾ cup vegetable oil (I used virgin coconut oil)
1 2/3 c. flour (I used whole wheat)
1 c. sugar
½ tsp. salt
½. tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 c. chocolate chips (I confess, I threw in a healthy amount extra)

Mix together until smooth and pour in greased loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with chocolate chips; we arranged ours in the shape of a pumpkin. Bake at 350 for 50-60 min. Cool all the way before removing from the loaf pan and enjoy!

Pumpkin Patch Collages
This craft was inspired by the book Nature’s Paintbox by Patricia Thomas. It covers all the seasons and which art mediums might best describe them. We read the whole book and then went back and re-read the section on fall. Then we headed out to Pioneers Park to check out the fall colors and get a picture in our mind of what vivid fall colors are, we took pictures of some of our favorite colors to remind us. When we came home we used tempera paint to paint the vivid fall colors on large sheets of paper. (Tempera is hard to get off clothes so dress accordingly). Target has a great price on packages of large sized construction paper; it is usually up by the markers.
Once the paper was painted, we looked at several books about pumpkins and fall and noticed what things are unique to fall (scarecrow, cornstalks, hayrides, pumpkin patch….). Then when the painted paper was dry, the girls cut it out into shapes that made their pumpkin patch and glued the shapes to a large brown piece of paper to make a collage. I love that it wasn’t just a typical round orange pumpkin kind of project, but was abstract in that it was the fall colors and the shapes that really made the picture unique. One collage included a fence, a hay bale and a lot of different sized pumpkins. The other included a barn surrounded by pumpkins and cornstalks. The fun thing is you can really draw in the fall colors and the details of the fall season in a new fresh way. This could easily be split into a several day project and enjoyed with lots of fall books.

Family Fall Art Day

Our last pumpkin activity is a fall art day. This will take place on Saturday, October 20th at 9:00 am at Art Planet. My oldest takes art classes at this studio and loves it. The teacher is amazing, she has creative “real” art projects that engage kids and teach them at the same time. She is hosting these events in her studio and the whole family is welcome. You can check out details and sign up at Art Planet  scroll down and find it under “Family Art Dayz at the Planet-October”, then click on reigster at the top to sign up. Hurry though, the spots won’t last long!

We hope you take time to enjoy the brilliance of this season and have some pumpkin fun in this great town.

Fall Favorites

Fall is my favorite season and we celebrate it with gusto at our house. This year, I really wanted to look for some new and fresh ways to enjoy this fabulous season. Each week I’ll share a couple of our new fall findings with you. Enjoy!

Caramel Apple Coffee: Ok, so this is a, just for me kind of fall thing, but I am in LOVE. A friend gave me a bag of Ah’roma’s Caramel Apple Coffee and it is delightful. When I ground the beans the kitchen smelled yummy and fallish all day and it has continued to smell that way each morning as I brew a pot of this fall “mommy treat”. I love that it is a local product, you can buy it at Super Saver or Hy-Vee and it is an inexpensive way to start each fall day with the smell and taste of the season!

Edible Indian Corn: We found this recipe as my oldest was searching for a fall treat to make for a demonstrative speech she needed to give. We made a few changes and had a fun and fairly healthy treat.

We used: Kix, Berry Berry cereal to make it look more like actual Indian corn (and I like that it’s made with whole grain).

We did use butter, but you could use coconut oil instead and it would taste the same and be a lot healthier.

We used craisins as our only dried fruit and just added a handful to the cereal/marshmallow mix.

The only other change we made was to use mini-fruit roll ups for the husks and leave off the pospicle sticks.

Once the marshmallow and cereal mix is cool, just mold it into the corn shape in your hands, the key is not to make it too big.

Then lay out your fruit roll up and lay your corn shaped cereal mix in the middle of  the husk.

Gently wrap the fruit around the cereal until it looks like a husk. We didn’t have to wet ours at all, as long as we kept the corn slender, it worked great.

One batch made a dozen ears of corn. This is a quick easy and fairly healthy treat that kids can really help make. We’ll enjoy it often this season and for many falls to come.

What Colors are Inside Our Leaves?

This project involved a bit of math as we created a graph and a bit of science as we identified trees and then observed and recorded the changes in their leaves. We also did some predicting and practiced asking good questions as we went along. The project is really simple.

We read, The Magic School Bus: The Wild Leaf Ride by Judith Stamper.

Next we identified 3 trees in our neighborhood that we could observe every day.

Then we made a graph with a spot for each tree, ours are dogwood, oak, and maple. The side of our graph is days, we decided to do our project for 2 weeks and then see how it is working so our numbers go 1-14.

Each day we recorded the color of the leaves on that tree by coloring in that day’s square (so if we saw green and yellow we colored the square with those colors.) I challenged my oldest to add the colors to the square to match the amount of each color on the actual tree by asking things like; Is the tree half green or only a fourth? Does your square show that?

At the end we took time to compare and contrast to see which trees had similar colors, which trees changed the most and which changed the fastest (at least while we were observing them).

We hope you take time to enjoy fall in this great town, it truly is a glorious season!