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

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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.

Since I didn’t post hardly at all over the spring and summer, I guess I should fill in a few of the things we made and did. I took a lot of pictures with the intention of posting here but somehow in a lazy summer stupor it never happened. (I blame the heat!)

We did a lot of painting. A LOT.

We started a toddler art group and painted outside with hands and feet on big paper.

We stacked and glued pompoms. (This was entirely her idea/design/execution.)

We made sculptures with play dough and tooth picks.

We tinkered with stuff from the recycling bin and ended up with a pretty cool house for “guys”, complete with secret hiding places and a jail.

We made our own Harry Potter wands by finding the perfect stick and covering it with Mod Podge. (This one was a HUGE hit.)

And that, my friends, is a brief history of some of the things we did in the spring. Next up, a few of the things from summer.

I’ve always wanted to do Elsie Marley’s Kids Clothes Week Challenge. Somehow I have never managed to make it happen. I think it is a great idea and I love to make things for the kids, I just can’t seem to do it when prompted. Maybe this year though. If I write it on the blog it has to happen, right?!

I was, however, able to make the girls back to school dresses this year though and I was rather pleased with how they turned out. I didn’t make any back to school clothes for my boy, but I have made him a couple of cool dress up things lately, so that counts for something, eh?

For Ada, I used (and then adapted like crazy) a pattern from Carefree Clothes for Girls, a book which I have never before made anything from but have had on my shelf for an embarrassingly long time. I made her the 4 size, which turned out a little big (as I expected), but I am hoping she can wear it in the spring and summer next year as well.

For Eleanor, I used the most adorable Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress pattern. I am no pattern expert but I thought this one was very well done – clear directions, easy to follow. The hard part was picking fabric! I love the way it turned out, the pockets with their little V details are my favorite. I might make her another version of this dress, but with a dark linen this time. I also might have to buy ALL of their other patterns. They are just so cute.

The Halloween insanity begins for us tomorrow and I’m frantically trying to finish costumes. Part of it is going well (Eleanor’s bird) and part is a disaster (Henry’s Silver Surfer). Luckily, Adelaide is wearing a hand-me-down.

Here are some pictures from Eleanor’s bird costume. Inspiration came from The Artful Parent’s wings and from Elsie Marley’s owl mask. I used some wool (from old clothes, felted in the wash) from a rug hooking project that I haven’t worked on in a LONG time (a whole other story). I thought it might add a bit of warmth on a chilly fall night. The colors are not traditional, but I’m liking the way it is coming together. (Sorry the pictures are dark, the basement is not very well lit, especially at night.)

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I was just looking through old drafts and I am not sure why I never published this one last year. -Edit to add that it appears it did actually get published. So happy re-reading! – Ah, well. I’ll add a little more and publish it now. It just so happens that I finished a set of bat wings for my sweet boy this evening so the timing couldn’t be better. I modeled the bat wings off of the bird wings from last year. I’ll still have to make him a mask but that will have to be another post or this will never see the light of day.

I used some black wool from an old pair of pants (or maybe it was a coat), which I fulled in the washer/dryer. The effect is nice, the wings have a good weight but won’t fray since the wool holds on to itself when washed and dried. The only problem I foresee is a possible allergy to wool. We will cross that bridge, if necessary, when we come to it. (Again, sorry about the lousy photo, I need to get out the better camera!)

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Well folks, this is it, your lucky day. Jean, over at The Artful Parent, has just released the first in a series of new e-books just in time for the fall art making/crafting/baking season. It is called, The Artful Year Autumn :: Celebrating the Seasons and Holidays with Family Arts and Crafts, and it is fantastic. I’m going to go ahead and say right now, I am an affiliate, which means I get a cut if you buy the book from my link, but even if I was not an affiliate, I would be telling everyone to go and get it anyway. I have been following The Artful Parent for a long time now, I have always felt a connection to the things she does, in part because my daughters are similar in age to hers and in part because I share her love of creativity and making it a daily part of life. Frankly, I don’t know how she manages the blog, the newsletter and now this e-book series but I am so thankful she does because she has made our household (and I am sure many others), more creative and willing to try new artful adventures.

Okay, so about the book, it is filled with amazing, well thought out ideas for seasonally relevant projects. The photographs are colorful and inviting and I can tell you from personal experience that the Apple Cheddar Hand Pies are out of this world. (I really should have taken some pictures of the pies I made, but alas, they got eaten much to quickly.) I have a bunch of other projects from this book marked for us to work on as Halloween and Thanksgiving approach. Some of the ideas she shares are familiar from her blog but many are new and look equally as interesting to try. One in particular I know my kids will love is the Leaf Rubbing Stained Glass – we have a door that would be perfectly suited to this!

So, head on over to The Artful Parent and check it out for yourself.

Flowers

We were up on (my favorite place) Lake Superior this summer and my sweet son and husband brought me this bunch of flowers and driftwood. What a lovely gift. I’m hoping to get back in the groove of writing occasionally now that everyone is back in school. We had a busy summer of making things (messes mostly) and there are a few things in particular that I’d love to share. Now, to download those photos…