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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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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.

Have you seen this book called Sewing School by Amie Petronis Plumley and Andria Lisle?  We just ordered a copy from Amazon and the big kids (and I) are so excited.  We have been doing lots of little (and big) sewing projects around here and it really seems to be resonating with both my girl and boy.  I think the ideas in this book and the projects it offers will be really helpful and exciting for all of us.  Plus, I just realized that these ladies also have a blog by the same name, which I am super excited to explore.

Anyway, here is one of E’s recent creations — Sharpie on muslin, which I sewed with the sewing machine and she stuffed and finished with embroidery floss.  It was inspired by a project in Amanda Soule’s book, The Creative Family.

Flower Pillow

 

I’ve got a lot of backlog on projects I want to put up here.  Somehow having a third baby has slowed things down a bit.  But, happy to report that we are getting back into some sort of a routine and certainly enjoying our new little girl.

The kids have been painting quite a bit lately, the back porch is open as the studio again so there is more space to make a mess.  We recently tried marbleized prints in shaving cream with liquid watercolors, which was quite fun.  I didn’t really follow any particular plan, though I am sure somewhere in the back of my mind there was a project I had seen, probably over at The Artful Parent.

Shaving Cream Painting

I filled up a tray with shaving cream and Eleanor squirted in a few colors from the watercolor bottles.  Then she used a chopstick as a swirler.  My initial thought was, “don’t swirl too much or the colors will turn brown”, but she kept going and her prints were much more interesting than the first one I did as an example.

Shaving Cream Painting

After a few prints, it turned a bit more mad scientist — she added water and about half a bottle of the magenta watercolor when I was not watching. I guess I would have preferred that she used a smaller amount but she sure was having fun and, after all, I did leave the box out for her to get into!

Shaving Cream Painting

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.

Valentines

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!

Valentines

Papier Mache

The kids tried papier mache for the first time — about two months ago now (!) — and they really enjoyed it.  Frankly, I was amazed at how good both of them were at understanding how to add layers of paper and also managing the glop.  We didn’t make anything specific, just practiced the technique of dipping newspaper strips, squeezing off the excess glue, and applying the paper to a base (in this case egg cartons).  

Papier Mache

We were practicing for a toddler/preschooler art group that we did with some friends (more to come on that once I get my act together) but I think the practice ended up working better than the actual class.  I added some purple liquid watercolor to the glue to see if it would show up as they added layers, but it didn’t really do much.  Maybe tempera would have been more effective — we’ll have to try it next time.  I can’t find the exact recipe I used for the project but there are plenty online if you search for papier mache (or paper mache).   We ripped the strips small so that their little hands could easily manage the process. I did cook the glue though, which isn’t entirely necessary but apparently makes the end product stronger.  I also read that a recipe with a bit of salt prevents the papier mache from molding — good hint for anyone living in a humid area. Good messy fun.

Papier Mache

In honor of the inauguration of Barack Obama last week, we did a little collage project.  We discussed the inauguration and the fact that President Obama had  been sworn in to lead our country.  Then we cut a bunch of pictures and words from our newspaper and busted out the glue.

Obama Collage

Eleanor took great joy in gluing everything together.  She said, “He looks so happy!” when she glued the picture of President Obama taking the oath of office, which she subsequently covered with a picture of the crowds.   Ah, well, it is her collage after all.

Obama Collage

And, Henry joined in the fun too with some random clips from the paper. Despite being a bit young for the lesson on government, he was astonishingly careful in his placement of the papers. He also added a little crayon, just for a bit of color — or so I imagine.

Obama Collage

Eleanor got the coolest handmade birthday gift from her friends Luli and Fiona.  A hopscotch game made of felt.  I wish I had thought of this, but credit must be given to Luli and Fiona’s mom Jenn (who blogs here).

Hopscotch
(Henry helping Eleanor’s giraffe play.)

The squares include the numbers 1 through 9 and there are two bean bags to use as markers.  Jenn was clever enough to add the instructions for hopscotch, which was good because it has been a while since I have played.  Eleanor and Henry have been enjoying it immensely and using the numbers creatively as well.  They had all the numbers in a circle at one point and were jumping from number to number.  Vince commented that we should make up to the number 20 and use them as a learning tool for number recognition.  I may have to swipe the idea too for other friends who have upcoming birthdays — so those friends with kids in the appropriate age range, kindly forget that you read this!

Hopscotch
(Eleanor getting some serious air.)

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