Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sawhorse Reindeer How-To


This sawhorse reindeer is a fairly easy Christmas' decoration to make. It's not an original idea, similar ones have been around for years, but it's my take on it. I hope it gives anyone who makes it the amazing instant creative satisfaction feeling I got once done. Ignoring the time painting, was completed in less than an hour.

Materials:
- A wooden sawhorse. I used a Burro Brand one. They are inexpensive and easy to find at most big box hardware places.
- Jigsaw
- Drill/driver
- Sander/ sandpaper
- Pencil
- Ruler/Tape Measure
- Plywood with a nice clean finish. I used 1/2" thick Poplar.
- Paint and colors of choice. I used both latex house paint for base color and craft paint for detail colors.
- 10 - 12 Small "L" brackets. 3/4" x 3/4" ones worked for me.
- Short wood screws for brackets (less than the thickness of your wood)
- Eyes. I used large buttons, but you could paint on if want.
- Exterior grade clear varnish. Anything your comfortable using would work. Spray or brush-on.
- Wood glue (OPTIONAL)  This is designed to be a temporary assembly for the holidays so you can take apart and store easily, plus use sawhorse as really intended later, but you can make a permanent prop just by adding wood glue to any of the steps below.

Step 1 - Print out the templates I drew up ( see below). I grid them out so you upscale onto plywood by drawing a larger grid on. Trace the pattern on the plywood and cut out with jigsaw. Be sure to cut out the notches in the head and on the antler carefully (these are 1/2" thick. if you use thicker or thinner plywood redraw notch that thickness). Sand all the rough edges.

Click on images to enlarge.




Step 2 - Attach head and tail to appropriate ends of your sawhorse using "L" brackets.

Step 3 - Place the antlers on by sliding it's notch onto the head notch.

Step 4 - Paint and decorate the way you want. Have fun, on my first take I added a red ornament for a nose (see below). Clear coat if needed for exterior use.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Road Trips with Toddlers: Tips & Tricks

I'm getting ready to go on a road trip with my twin toddlers to visit family before Christmas. Traveling with kids can be tough! I've picked up a few tricks over the past few holidays and I wanted to share them with you. Happy travels!


1.  Plan your trip around your toddler's schedule as much as possible. Toddlers are creatures of habit and keeping them in a routine makes life so much easier.  My kids are good car sleepers, so I always plan to leave right before nap time. They usually fall asleep pretty quickly and then I have a good 2-3 hours of quiet driving time.

2.  Stock up on good audio books and music. I love audio books for the car and there are tons of great choices for even the smallest listener. My kids adore the Eric Carle/Bill Martin bear books and we listen to them on CD all the time.  You can find the CD on Amazon (affiliate link) or check your local library for even more choices.

I'm also a big fan of Amazon Prime Music (affiliate link) for kid's songs in the car - there are thousands of songs to choose from and you can also add in your own music to create your perfect playlist. Plus you can try it free for 30 days!



3.  Find green space along the way. If you're taking a longer trip, plan ahead and map out parks or playgrounds on your route. Allow extra time to stop and let the kids stretch their legs. Yes, it will take longer to get to your destination but everyone will be much happier.


4. Pack snacks.  Skip the fast food and convenience stores and pack some healthy, fresh options. Applesauce pouches, yogurt tubes, fruit slices, cheese sticks, and granola bars are all much better choices to keep your little ones full for the ride. I love to pack my Thirty One Picnic thermal (affiliate link) for long trips - it holds plenty of drinks and food and keeps everything nice and cool.
5. Be flexible. The first rule of traveling with toddlers is that things will not go as planned. They will decide not to nap, or insist on only eating the one snack that you didn't bring. In the words of Elsa, let it go. Take a deep breath and do your best to stay sane and drive safely. It might mean a break for mom at the Starbucks drive through. Or an extra stop at a park. Take your time, you'll get there!

I also have to share one of my FAVORITE road trip helpers - my Timeless Beauty Bag! (affiliate link) Yes, it's normally a cosmetic bag but it can do so much more. You can fill it with crayons, pencils, books, games, even a tablet. Hang it on the back of the front seat for easy video viewing, and when you arrive, fold it up and use it as a busy bag. I never leave home without it.



Looking for more ideas for surviving a road trip with little ones? Try these:


Road Trip Snacks - Kids Activities Blog





Friday, November 28, 2014

The Millenium Falcon!


I actually welled up seeing the Falcon fly again. The music, the sound of it's engines, TIE fighters!!!!!

I'm probably gonna ball like a baby when we actually see Han and Chewie at the controls once more, I just know it.



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Easiest Ever Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls equal holiday breakfast to me! I love the smell of cinnamon and the delicious sweetness. But, with two toddlers, I try to avoid the ooey gooey frosting covered rolls because they make for terribly sticky fingers! This recipe is still sweet, yummy, and so easy to make!


Ingredients:

  • 2 cans crescent rolls
  • 1 cup (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 



Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a large cookie sheet and set aside.

In a bowl, mix together cream cheese, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla until well combined.



Take 2 triangles of crescent rolls and press seams together to form a rectangle. Spread cream cheese filling onto rectangle.  



Roll into a log and press ends together.  Cut into 3 equal pieces and place onto cookie sheet. Repeat with remainder of crescent rolls.



Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly and enjoy!



Friday, November 21, 2014

Footprint Angels with Cotton Clouds

I've been thinking a lot about angel crafts for Christmas this year as it will be the first since my dad passed away. Something about angels is very comforting to me right now and makes me feel like he's watching over me. 

I love hand and footprint crafts for toddlers as they make such great gifts and keepsakes. I came up with these footprint angels to hang on our refrigerator as a reminder that Grandpa is with us.




You will need:
  • Blue construction paper.
  • Washable paint - white, brown, yellow
  • Black marker
  • Cotton balls
  • Glue
Directions:

Paint your child's foot with white washable paint and press down onto the construction paper to make your angel body.

Paint your angel's head, halo, and wings using brown and yellow paint. I used a marker for the eyes and smile. Be creative!  Depending on their age, kids can certainly do this part for themselves. Allow to dry.

Then, put some glue on a paper plate. Give your child some cotton balls to dip in the glue and stick onto the paper to make clouds. This was by far the best part for my toddlers.


That's it! All done!


This was a really easy craft to do with my toddlers - making the cotton ball "clouds" let them be creative and add their own special touch. We love our little angels!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

10 Indoor Boredom Busters


Brrr! It was cold and rainy here yesterday and I had to pull out all my tricks to keep my kids entertained inside. Since it's just the beginning of bad weather season I thought I'd share some of my favorite easy indoor activities. These are perfect quick fixes to keep kids entertained during long days inside.




1. Have a picnic. Turn snack or meal time into an event! My toddlers find this so amusing. I just lay out a blanket in the living room and we pretend we are dining outside on a beautiful summer day. There's definitely a mess potential here but my boys are usually so taken with the novelty of eating on a blanket that they keep their food pretty well contained.

2. Make a fort. I'm all about intricate indoor forts but I promised this would be a list of easy activities.  When I'm in a pinch, I just throw a sheet over the kitchen table and call it done. Kids have amazing imaginations and I love to let them use them! The sheet fort is always a hit.



3. Pillow mountain. This is one of our favorites.  I just pile as many pillows as I can find - bed pillows, throw pillows, cushions, whatever - into a mountain in the living room and let them go. They have a ball climbing and diving on the "mountain." And its nice and soft so no one gets hurt.

4. Jumping on the bed. Similar to pillow mountain - we have an air mattress which I blow up and let them use as a trampoline. They love to bounce and tumble, and it's only a couple of inches off the ground so if they fall off it's OK. Just be sure to have plenty of space for this one so they don't roll off into a piece of furniture.

5. Sheet sleds. This one came about quite by accident when I was trying to fold laundry while my kids were playing (silly me!). Have them sit on the end of a sheet and hold on while you pull them around. My kids love this!



6. Turn off the lights. This works so well on these short days where it gets dark before dinner time. I turn off the lights, give them flashlights, and let them explore. Simple and fun!

7. Pipe cleaners, colanders, play dough. Look for fun things around the house that your kids can use to create. Mine love putting pipe cleaners into a colander and into play dough to create all sorts of wacky art.



8. Go swimming. In the bath tub! Letting them splash and play in the tub in the middle of the day is great fun. Add in some awesome toys, bath crayons, and bubbles and you're set.

9. Make a sensory bin. This might sound complicated but its just a tub filled with fun materials to explore. Check out my Farm Fun Bin for more details.



10. Give them a cardboard box. Seriously, this is all they need to be entertained sometimes. A huge box can become a car (push them around in it for major laughs!), a playhouse, an art canvas - let their imaginations go wild!

Hope these activities help you enjoy some of the long days ahead. I'd love to hear your favorite indoor boredom busters too!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Make Santa's Mailbox

My boys are 2, so they are just starting to understand the idea of Santa and Christmas. It's my favorite holiday, and I wanted to give them a Santa inspired activity that also incorporates their love of putting things into (and taking things out of) boxes. I also love any craft that reuses materials that I would normally throw away. I have a million empty wipes containers, and one became Santa's Mailbox!




This is a simple craft that recycles an empty baby wipes container. If you don't have one you can still make this out of an old tissue box - it just won't be as sturdy and it will be harder to get your notes back out. I'm hoping we can make this a family tradition as we write letters to Santa every year!

To make Santa's Mailbox, you will need:

  • Wipes container or tissue box
  • Felt - red, black, yellow
  • Cotton balls
  • Scissors
  • Mod Podge

First, remove the flip top lid from your wipes box as shown above. Measure and cut your felt pieces. I used a Huggies wipes box and the sizes of felt were:

  • Red - 4" wide by 23" long
  • Black - 1.5" wide by 11.5" long (2 of these)
  • Yellow - 2.5" square with an approximately 1" x 1.5" rectangle cut from the center

If you use a different size container your measurements will be different.

Coat the sides of your container with Mod Podge. 


Wrap your red felt around the container and pull tightly. You may need to apply a little more Mod Podge at the seam. Mine had a bit of overhang at the bottom which I trimmed with an x-acto knife once it was dry.


Allow to dry. Then put a very light coating of Mod Podge on the back of your 2 black rectangles. Wrap these around your container, leaving a space in the front center for your belt buckle.



Apply a light coating to the back of the yellow piece and adhere to the front center of your container.


Apply a coating of Mod Podge to the top of your container, leaving the opening clear, and apply cotton balls. Press gently to make sure they stick. Allow to dry.


Trim off any excess felt from the bottom of your container and you are done! Santa's ready for mail!


This makes the perfect spot for your kids to drop off their letters to Santa! And, if you have busy toddlers like me, it can provide hours of entertainment. My boys love putting all sorts of things into the box, then opening it and starting all over again.



You can also find a good use for all those holiday catalogs that are coming in the mail. They make great cutting practice for your little ones as they cut out pictures and drop them into Santa's mailbox. Fun and fine motor skills all in one!

We've also made "cookies" out of construction paper and fed them to Santa. One of my boys finds this particularly funny.

If you like this activity, be sure to check out our Decorate a Gingerbread Man and Build a Snowman Busy Bags too. Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Decorate a Gingerbread Man: Busy Bag Activity

I have twins, so I always think of everything in twos. This busy bag activity has been awesome because I was able to make one with two playing areas on it!

If you like this busy bag activity, be sure to check out our snowman, turkey, and owl projects too!





You will need:
  • Felt - brown and green (or another background color of your choice)
  • Gingerbread man shaped cookie cutter (mine are from this set - affiliate link)
  • Mod Podge or fabric glue
  • Scissors
  • Pom pom balls
  • Pipe cleaners

Directions:

This project is so simple you can put it together quickly. First take your gingerbread man cookie cutter and trace 2 shapes onto brown felt.


Cut out your shapes and cover the backs with Mod Podge or fabric glue.


Adhere to your background piece of felt. Allow to dry.


Once dry, collect some pom pom balls and pipe cleaners to use as decorations. I cut the pipe cleaners to size and bent them to look like frosting lines. 

(Note: this project contains small pieces that may not be appropriate for all children. Supervise this activity at all times).


Here's what your decorated "cookies" look like! I gave these to my toddlers and they had a blast.


They first pulled all the pieces off then set about decorating their own "cookies". So much fun!


When we're done, I like to store our activities in Large Zipper Pouches from Thirty One.



It's the perfect size to hold everything (and much more!). The zipper keeps everything contained and when we are heading out to a restaurant or doctor's appointment I can just grab the bag, throw it in my purse, and keep my kids entertained on the go without using a screen.


I especially love this owl print (Hoo's Happy)! If you'd like to order one yourself, visit my Thirty One website(affiliate link)

I am an Independent Consultant for Thirty One Gifts. I receive a commission on products purchased through my website. Opinions expressed are solely mine.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Build A Snowman: Busy Bag Activity


I love busy bag activities for my toddlers because it's a quiet, screen free activity that we can take anywhere. We've been having a lot of fun with puzzle activities made from felt - check out our owl and turkey projects. Now that Christmas and winter are fast approaching, I thought we'd try a snowman. He might be our favorite yet!


Here's what you need:
  • Felt - white, black, brown, orange, and a background of your choosing
  • Googly eyes
  • 3 buttons
  • Velcro
  • Mod Podge or fabric paint
  • Bowls (for tracing)
  • Scissors
Directions:

Start with your white felt. Trace 1 small and 1 larger circle (I used 2 bowls from my kitchen). Cut them out.


Apply Mod Podge or other fabric glue to the back of your circles.


Adhere circles to your background piece of felt. I had this cool patterned piece to use but any color is fine. Allow to dry.


While that is drying, collect your googly eyes and buttons. Attach a piece of velcro (the stiffer "hook" side only) to the back of each. 

(Note: this activity contains small parts and children should always be supervised while playing. If you are worried about small pieces, use felt circles for the eyes and buttons).



Then cut your felt pieces. You will need:
  • Carrot shape cut from orange felt.
  • Hat shape cut from black felt.
  • Scarf cut from red felt. Cut a rectangle and then make 2 small cuts in one end. Fluff the edges so it lays like the fringe on a scarf.
  • 2 arms from brown felt. Cut 2 equal sized rectangles with a triangle shape at the end. Make 2 small cuts at the larger end and fluff out for the "fingers."

Here are all the pieces together:


And your snowman once assembled:


I always give the puzzle to my toddlers fully assembled, then let them pull the pieces off and try to reassemble. They loved this one!



This is such a fun activity for them, and great for fine motor skills as well as spatial relations as they try to put all the pieces back in order.

When we're done, I like to store our puzzles in these large zipper pouches from Thirty One. 


It's the perfect size to hold everything (and much more!). The zipper keeps everything contained and when we are heading out to a restaurant or doctor's appointment I can just grab the bag, throw it in my purse, and keep my kids entertained on the go without using a screen.

Seriously, I love these large zipper pouches - especially in the new owl print, Hoo's Happy! If you'd like to order one yourself, visit my Thirty One website. (affiliate link)

I am an Independent Consultant for Thirty One Gifts. I receive a commission on products purchased through my website. Opinions expressed are solely mine.