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Alas, three strikes and I am OUT. While worrying about the fact that I was a couple of tablespoons short on the cocoa for my cake, I completely neglected to add ANY sugar. I think it still tastes good but I like very dark chocolate. And, I am the only one who thinks it tastes good. I KNEW there was something wrong with the batter. Oh well, try again.

Again, why I am not a professional baker. Sigh.

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This, my friends, is why I am not a professional baker. We did have fun decorating cookies though once I figured out how to get the icing into the squeeze bottle.

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The Artful Winter: Celebrating the Season & Holidays with Family Arts and Crafts

Well, my intention is to post here often, but then my real life gets in the way and days go by with nothing. Ah well, all the pictures are on my camera and at some point they may make an appearance here.

In the meantime, I’ll help my friend Jean over at The Artful Parent promote the winter installation of her e-book series, The Artful Winter: Celebrating the Season & Holidays with Family Arts and Crafts. I just downloaded it and have been pouring through the beautiful pages.  I am so excited to try, well, just about everything. She has it broken into sections on Christmas (even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, lots of these ideas can be adapted for your own traditions), recipes, winter projects, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day and books for kids relating to the holidays/winter.

I am not even sure where we will start but we did make a list last night and the Tiny Gingerbread Houses topped the list, followed closely by the Salt Dough House Lantern. I will do my best to post pictures as we go.

Get your own copy of The Artful Winter: Celebrating the Season & Holidays with Family Arts and Crafts here!

Tiny Gingerbread Houses

Well, I am officially a terrible promoter of things – I wrote this post in November, almost a month ago. I am just getting around to posting it now, so I thought I would do a couple of updates. First, Jean is having a Pay What You Can sale on the e-book. A great time to snag one at great price. Second, we have tried several of the activities and enjoyed them all very much. The Tiny Gingerbread houses were a huge hit with all 3 kids, even though only 1 of the houses actually stood up. That didn’t stop everyone from decorating like crazy.  And third, well, there is no third right now. I’ll try and get my act together and put up some pictures of the Salt Dough House we made as well. And some other stuff of our own, Christmas presents and whatnot.  Soon. :)

Tiny Gingerbread Houses

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Look at this awesome skee ball game that my friend’s husband made for their girls. Here is my boy rolling (or maybe throwing!) a tennis ball. The game is complete with ball return an everything. Great job B.

I was channeling my inner Artful Parent today and the kids were preparing pressed leaves for art making by covering them with a layer of Mod Podge. Jean uses this technique for making her pressed leaves look alive with color – and it works amazingly well. We have made leaf luminaries with autumnal leaves and Mod Podge before but also used white tissue paper so the effect was not nearly as striking (though the luminaries were still very beautiful). The leaves we made today are stunning, just like when we picked them off the ground a week or two ago, maybe even more vibrant. We haven’t exactly decided yet what good use we will put them to, but I do not doubt the kids will think of something.

By the way, these leaves were inspired by Jean’s new Autumn e-book, which is currently on sale – pay what you can at checkout. A great time to get your copy!

(I am an affiliate of The Artful Parent and receive a cut of any e-book sold through this link, but I’d be encouraging everyone to check it out anyway even if I wasn’t.)

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In case there is anyone out there reading this little old blog, I thought I’d help Jean at The Artful Parent promote her new e-book, The Artful Year Autumn: Celebrating the Seasons and Holidays with Family Arts and Crafts, by hosting a giveaway. I’ve never done a giveaway before, but I have been lucky enough to be the winner a couple of times on other blogs, so I figured I had better share the love. I posted about the book before – it really is worth a read – although you most  likely won’t want to stop at reading with all the great projects she has included.

So, if you would like a chance to win a copy of your very own, leave a comment below telling me your favorite thing about fall. I’ll close the giveaway on Friday (10/5) at noon (EDT) and choose a number at random from the comments.

PS. She is hosting a big giveaway too, so hurry over for another chance to win the e-book!
Giveaway is closed. The random number was 1 and the e-book goes to Chelsey (I’ll email you with details). Thanks!

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A Soule Mama Friday tradition – just a picture, no words. (Except these few where I explain!)

This summer we took our first ever camping trip with the kids (aside from the backyard, that is). It was a huge hit and also fairly exhausting. We went with some friends who have kids very close in age to our own, which made everything extra fun. Our family did make an executive decision at the last minute to go only for one night instead of two because there were big storms forecast for the first night and we decided that it would be more fun to start early and have dry weather than to suffer through putting up the tent in the rain.

We made campfires, ate smores, took hikes, visited an aviary and, maybe the best part of the whole trip, made fairy houses. Somehow the two year old managed to include in her backpack of essentials, an entire package of multi-colored feathers from Discount School Supply. Although they didn’t exactly “match” the rest of the natural elements the kids found, they certainly did make the campsite quite a bit brighter. The boys worked together in one area and the girls in another, helping each other out from time to time with sticks or rocks or whatever was needed. It was a wonderfully collaborative effort and beautiful to boot. (And, we did take down all of the colored feathers when we left!)

(Sorry for the shaky pictures, taken with my phone’s camera in a darkish woodsy area!)

One of the things that happened over the summer was Henry’s 5th birthday (and party). He requested a Lego Star Wars party with a piñata. So, immediately I thought that the Death Star would be the perfect thing to make – and then destroy with light sabers.

First, I searched high and low for those big round punch balloons. After checking every grocery store and pharmacy, I finally found some at our local hardware and variety store. We put some twine around it in several places and then covered it with papier mâché, about two layers in most places. I don’t remember now what recipe we used, but it was a kind you cook. Now, I should have covered the balloon with plastic wrap or something because it looked awesome and perfectly round until the balloon started to shrink and it took the papier mâché with it. (Sorry no process pictures, my hands were covered in slimy glue.)

After some initial frustration with the not perfectly round appearance (on my part, kids were fine with it), we painted it and added some details to make it recognizable. I reinforces the string with some extra twine so that it would hang over a tree branch without coming down too quickly.

The best part was what was inside. We had some candy (I would have been in big trouble if there had been no candy at all) but we also included little bundles of random Lego pieces wrapped in star fabric and tied with twine. The idea was for the kids to build little ships with the Legos that they could take home and play with. We live near a Lego store so I just got some random pieces from the wall of Pick-a-Brick.

The icing on the cake for the party was literally the icing on the cake. We made marshmallow fondant (with this recipe) and made little Lego bricks (by pressing an clean Lego into the fondant), light sabers and even a couple of minifigure heads (Yoda!). The cake was my go to chocolate cake, it is always delicious. All in all, a great celebration of and for my Big Man.

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