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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!

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.

Not exactly “making things” but my 2 year old is rocking the creative play. Pompoms as bubble bath. Fun stuff.

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I’ve been wanting to make a mud pie kitchen in our backyard for some time now but I was waiting to find a table or old play kitchen at a garage sale. Turns out I just needed to rearrange the junk in our backyard!

Adelaide has been happily playing with a couple of little buckets of water and some containers of varying shapes and sizes for well over an hour. I don’t actually have any mud in the kitchen yet but am trying to figure out where I could dig a little and not do too much damage! I figure I will just put it in one of the old buckets or maybe the small square cooler with a lid and let the kids go to town. The other upside…the rest of our yard is looking relatively neat and tidy. For the time being at least.

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My big man and I made a simple bag of nesting materials for the birdies in our neighborhood this morning. The weather feels like we skipped spring entirely and went straight to summer but the bare branches hint to the fact that the birds will be nesting.

We used a mesh onion bag to hold our nesting supplies but did cut a few of the openings to make them slightly larger. We included things such as bits of the scraps from the quilt I made for my brother and sister-in-law, pieces of wool felt used to make our Christmas stockings, a bit of wool roving and other bits of cotton and wool fabric. We hung the little bag from a bare branch in our back yard and are eagerly watching to see if and when the birds find the little treasures we assembled for them.

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I was thinking it would be fun to try the paper bag challenge over at Tinkerlab. I suggested it to my big man, explained that he could make whatever he wanted with a paper bag, and without a moment of hesitation he said, “I’ll make a ship.” A couple of folds and one (yes, one) staple later he presented me with his boat. His description: “The boat has a flap on top for rain and the passengers and the driver go below the flap and the leader looks out.” I asked him if he wanted to make some passengers or paint it and he firmly said “no” and started in on his Legos. Done and done. (Except that he is still talking about the boat. So maybe not entirely done!)

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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?

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