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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.



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!

Classmates, don’t look! The kids are busy as bees making Valentine’s Day cards for all of their classmates. As they decide on which items to use on which cards they are discussing who it is for and what they like about each friend. It is so sweet! Isn’t that what Valentine’s Day is all about after all?


Thanks to our great neighbor for this painting pumpkins project. The best part (in the kids opinion) is that they get to use glitter glue. I think I owe her a new package of glitter glue though, my guys are a bit heavy handed with the stuff.


Normally I am not nearly this organized, but instead of working on my big project, the kids and I made Valentines today.  I figured it would be fun and they will likely need them for their classrooms at school come February.  I must admit, recently I have thought about Valentines a bit more than is probably normal.  I have wanted to use up some of my very small scraps of fabric that are too small to do anything with, so the idea of cutting hearts and glueing them to notecards seemed like a perfect solution.

Fabric Scraps

I put some liquid watercolor paint in with the glue, just to make it a bit more like painting for the kids, and the three of us spent a nice evening working on our project.  The cards were fairly glue heavy, but that was alright since we had a place to dry them.


Henry started out adding the hearts but ended up enjoying just painting the notecards with painty glue.   I think they turned out pretty well, I plan to carve a “happy valentines day” stamp and have the kids (or at least Eleanor) sign their names on the back.  Good thing I have a whole month to get that part done!


I started this post the other day and ended up getting so frustrated trying to make a Flickr badge I stopped working on it.  I still haven’t figured out what was going on with the badge, but I figure I might as well get this post up. If anyone has suggestions for posting a badge in WordPress let me know.  Good thing this is just a hobby, otherwise I would have been at wits end.  Anyway, for now you will have to click over to the cygnetsmall Flickr feed if you want to see the ornaments, until I can figure out what I am doing — at which time I’ll put up the darn badge!

I was reading a post about handmade ornaments at Just Tutes and it gave me the idea to document a few of the handmade ornaments on our own tree.  I love our tree, it always looks colorful and homey.  The ornaments I particularly treasure are the ones that friends and family have made for us.  Last year, I made a star to top our tree but this is the only ornament I have made for our own family.  However, I took a few pictures of a few other beauties made by creative family members.  Some require quite a bit of technical skill (the tatted snowflakes) and some would be easy enough for my daughter to make (the beaded candy cane) but all of them are well loved and carefully placed each year on our little tree. It makes me think that often the best gifts are not the biggest or most expensive, but the ones made with purpose and love.

I got the idea for these lovely leaf lanterns from a post at Salt and Chocolate. Thursday morning my little girl and I made these with old enchilada sauce jars, Mod Podge, white tissue paper, and the pressed leaves we already had from another project. They were beautiful on our Thanksgiving table and we sent them home with Mu, so she could enjoy them and think of us.

Candle Holders

Today (obviously) isn’t Thanksgiving Day, but I figure I am still thankful so this post is not too late.  We had a delicious meal with family and it was a lovely way to spend the holiday.  I thought I’d share a couple of the recipes I made.

A couple of days before Thanksgiving I made this delicious Banana Pumpkin Bread from Rebecca Scritchfield’s Balanced Health and Nutrition.  I made fresh pumpkin puree and used about two cups instead of using a can.  I also added a pinch of cloves and a pinch of black pepper.  It took a bit longer to bake than I expected but it was worth the wait.  Yum.

Pumpkin Banana Bread

Then, for the big day, I made an apple pie.  I am not much of a pumpkin pie fan, which I realize many people would think is crazy, but if I am making it, I prefer apple.  I used Nittany and Macintosh apples and it was pretty darn good.  Here is the recipe:

Pie crust (I used Betty Crocker’s boxed crust, it is easy and tastes good)
7 apples (4 Macintosh, 3 Nittany), peeled and cut into chunks
2 Tbsp (or so) butter
2 Tbsp flour (I used Sir Arthur’s white whole wheat)
1/4 cup (or so) sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch cloves
pinch nutmeg

Put the bottom pie crust in the tin. Mix the flour, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Pour mixture over the apples and stir gently until coated. Pour apples into pie tin. Slice butter into small pats and place on top of the apples. Put the top layer of crust on and cut a few holes (I made little hearts) for ventilation. Cook for ten minutes at 400 and then turn down to 350 for another 30-40 minutes until the crust is nice and golden brown. Enjoy.

Apple Pie

So, my next big project is going to be a Halloween costume for Eleanor. I better get on it too — not that many days until the end of the month. She has mentioned, several times, that she wants to be a dinosaur for Halloween. One with big teeth. I just need to get to the fabric store…

And, on another note, in the case that I don’t actually get the dinosaur costume made, I am hoping to win this costume (again on Grosgrain), which is so pretty.