Paper Pinecone Ornament

Today I’m sharing with you a simple tutorial to make a paper pinecone Christmas ornament. I’ve been in a handmade-Christmas-ornament-making-kinda-mood lately. These paper pinecones are perfect- so simple and inexpensive to make!

You’ll need just one sheet of cardstock for this project. I found a sheet of gold cardstock embellished with glittery dots buried deep within my box of crafting supplies the other day. With its rich gold color and just a touch of sparkle, it seemed perfect for a Christmas ornament.

cone7Besides one sheet of cardstock, all you’ll need for your pinecone is a plastic Easter egg (I had about 100 or so of these left over from this past Easter) and a glue gun. If you don’t have any plastic eggs taking up room in your closet like I do, don’t worry. I believe you can find styrofoam ones in any crafting store.

Start by cutting one inch strips of paper. Cut each strip into one inch squares.

cone6Fold each square so there is a point at one end, similar to the shape of a house. Starting at the bottom (smallest part) of the egg, attach your folded paper pieces with the pointed side down. Make sure to overlap the paper a bit. You should also overlap each additional layer of folded paper with the layer underneath it. This was what my pinecone looked like when it was halfway completed.cone 1Once you’ve attached all of your paper pieces, you make a loop of ribbon and glue it to the top of your pinecone. If you’d like, a pretty bow can finish off this simple ornament. And you’re done.

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I’d love to hear your thoughts on my paper pinecone ornament!

Week 2: Our At-Home Preschool

This was a difficult week for my family. My 94 year old grandfather passed away peacefully on Thanksgiving day, surrounded by loved ones. He was a beautiful person- he loved life and lived it to the fullest right up until the end. He will truly be missed by all of his 11 children and 24 grandchildren. Some of my fondest memories were listening to his many stories while he enjoyed a pint of Guinness and later having the opportunity to enjoy one with him. If I weren’t pregnant, I would toast my Irish grandfather with a Guinnness. Rest in peace, JJ.

The kids also had to say goodbye to their father for 9 days. With my husband away and the passing of my grandfather, it’s been a difficult week. We did however continue with our second week of preschool.

Timmy and I baked some delicious chocolate chip cookies together early in the week. We had so much fun! I’m snacking on one as I type. Timmy really enjoys cooking and baking with me lately and I’m doing my best to encourage his new interest.

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I try to get him involved in the kitchen daily. Not only is helping in the kitchen good for his developing hand muscles and fine motor skills, but he gets plenty of practice counting. Timmy counted everything while assisting me- how many scoops of this ingredient or how many times he stirred those ingredients. I would imagine as he gets older, cooking will be a great way to introduce measurements and fractions. I’m hoping this new love of his is here to stay!

I posted earlier in the week about an arts and crafts activity that the kids and I worked on together. We made a paper plate turkey. Vera happily collected some leaves at the park one morning for the project. The leaves were used for the turkey’s feathers. Timmy painted the dark and light brown paper plates and taped the leaves to the back of the paper plate turkey.

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I was pleasantly surprised with how much of this activity Timmy completed on his own. He’s never really been interested in crafts before now- usually I ended up doing most of the craft. He was so proud of his turkey. Timmy couldn’t wait to tell his daddy all about his turkey when he got home from work that night.

Several weeks ago, I bought a large roll of white easel paper from Michael’s for a few dollars. I covered the entire kitchen table with the paper and let the kids go nuts. The large surface really gave Timmy and Vera the freedom to create on a much larger scale.

They used paint, crayons and markers; their favorite material is dot markers (bingo dabbers). I bought these markers at Michael’s as well. I love that store! The dot markers are great because they’re easy to hold and so durable. Timmy bangs them quite hard on the paper and they stand up well to the abuse. I left the paper on the table all day for the kids. The entire table was covered in marks, lines and scribbles by the end of the day.

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Timmy didn’t just scribble though. I drew numbers, letters and shapes for him and he happily traced over them with his dot markers.

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With the Thanksgiving holiday, my husband enjoyed some rare time off from work. We took the kids to a nearby children’s museum one rainy morning. Timmy and his daddy had a great time building an “igloo”. I love Timmy’s imagination! The only thing he enjoyed more than building the igloo was knocking it down.

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Timmy re-discovered his love of floor puzzles this past week. He completed all of his floor puzzles. Much to his dismay, Vera helped take them apart.

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Timmy, Vera and I also took a trip to the library this week. Everybody must have left town for the holiday, because we had the entire children’s section of the library to ourselves. I wasn’t going to complain- we spent several hours there reading animal books and playing with toys.

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We’ll have to start making a weekly trip to the library as part of our school. It’s a nice library and my little ones had a great time.

 

 

 

Fabric Flower Christmas Ornament

Living in cold climates and three pregnancies in three years have enabled me to accumulate quite a large collection of pajamas. And when my all time favorite pair somehow shrunk, I couldn’t just throw them away. The fabric is a really pretty and vibrant red plaid- absolutely perfect for fabric flower Christmas ornaments!

I made two of these ornaments one morning before the kids were awake. They’re so simple to make. For each ornament you make, you will need 27 fabric circles. The size is entirely up to you. Mine were the size of a large can (my guide for cutting out the circles).

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Start by putting a dot of hot glue in the center of one circle.

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Fold the circle in half.

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Put a second dot of hot glue in the center along the folded seam and fold the half circle in half again.

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You now have one flower petal. Glue four of these petals to one circle of fabric. Make sure the open ends all face the same direction.

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This comprises one layer of the petals. You will need to make a total of three layers of four petals each. For each new layer, stagger the petals 45 degrees.

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For the final petal, make a half circle and then roll it up so it looks like a cone. Secure with some hot glue.

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Glue the last petal in the gap that remains. You can glue the sides of this last petal to the surrounding petals if you want. I found that doing this helps give the ornament a nice rounded shape.

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This is one half of the ornament. Add a loop of ribbon to the back side of the flower before making the other side of the ornament.

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On the side of the ornament that has the ribbon, begin adding layers of petals. Again, you will need three layers of four petals each and one cone shaped petal.

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Finish your ornament off with a bow if you’d like. When you’re done, your ornament should look like this.

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I’m so happy with how these turned out that I plan on making more for our tree this year. I love pretty handmade ornaments!

Paper Plate and Leaves Thanksgiving Turkey

Arts and crafts with my kids is usually more arts than crafts. Doing a craft usually involves me doing everything, so I usually just stick to some variation of painting or scribbling with markers and crayons. But with Thanksgiving fast approaching, I thought I would attempt to make a paper plate turkey with the kids.

Vera loves collecting leaves. If I give her a basket, she happily collects leaves during our walks or trips to the park. For this craft, I made use of some of her leaves from our most recent visit to the park.

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Unfortunately the leaves on the ground at this point are mostly brown. I think the turkey would have turned out even cuter with brightly colored leaves. Oh well.

Timmy painted the paper plate brown and the smaller circle (cut from another paper plate) a lighter shade of brown. I cut the pieces for the eyes from white paper and the beak and feet from some craft foam I had lying around the house. Timmy helped me attach the pieces with a little bit of Elmer’s glue and he taped the leaves to the back of the plate.

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I’m pretty happy with how much of this craft Timmy was interested in making. And in the end, he was pretty proud of himself. When my husband came home from work tonight, Timmy excitedly announced, “look at my turkey, daddy!”

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If only a real Thanksgiving turkey were this simple to make…

Week 1: Our At-Home Preschool

I was playing with the kids at a park one sunny morning when I struck up a conversation with another mom. After a few minutes she asked me, “is he in preschool?” I was taken aback. Preschool? Timmy was 2.5 at the time. The thought of sending my little boy off to preschool was the furthest thing from my mind that morning. “No, he’s home with me all day”, I said. “I’m not planning on sending him to preschool”, I added. The mom just gave me a puzzled sort of look.

I’ve been asked this question so many times over the past six months, that I admit, I’ve even second guessed my decision to not send my kids to preschool and kindergarten. Guilt actually started to creep its way in, as if somehow teaching my own children at home for a few years would harm my kids in life. There’s so much pressure (even for us stay at home moms) to send our little ones off to school at age 3 or even 2. But every time I see Timmy and Vera’s eagerness to learn and their excitement and joy in discovering the world around them, I’m reminded of why I’ve always wanted to homeschool the early years. I look forward to sharing all of these beautiful learning moments with my children.

Our journey will be a learning experience for both the kids and I. The idea of homeschooling can seem a bit overwhelming at first- I have no idea what my kids’ style of learning will be, but I’m excited and eager to learn. Teaching my children started the day I became a mother, but this will be Week 1 of Timmy’s “official” homeschooling (he’s 3 now!). I hope you enjoy a little peak into our adventures in homeschooling!

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We spend a large portion of each day reading- during and after breakfast, before and after naps and before bed. Timmy has always enjoyed being read to, but lately he likes to “read” books himself. He’ll read Vera and I books he’s memorized and move his fingers over the words as he reads. I love these beautiful, quiet sibling moments. And relative peace and quiet allows me to snap some pictures.

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Vera wants to be just like her big brother. She spent a few minutes reading on the couch after breakfast one day.

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Timmy has always shown an interest in letters. By age 2.5 he knew all his uppercase and lowercase letters and the sound each letter makes. His latest interest is in knowing how to spell everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. I have him spell out these words on his magnetic board as I say each letter.

He loves letters so much, I’ve started to introduce Timmy to forming his letters. Timmy loves dot markers- they’re chunky and easy to hold and give the look of paint without all the mess. I drew a big A for Timmy to trace with dots. He picked up on the idea immediately.

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Once he had formed the letter A with paint dots, I had him tell me what words begin with the letter A. “Apple, alligator, ant!” was his reply. After I wrote these words on the paper for him, I had him trace over the dots with his dot marker. He did really well!

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Timmy loves to build. He was building tall towers of Mega Blocks before his first birthday. I think of him as my little engineer. My husband and I are always on the hunt for new building toys at garage sales and consignment stores.  A few of his favorites these days are floor puzzles, Tinker Toys, Legos, Locktagons and his beloved train tracks.

I set out some Locktagons for Timmy on the table after breakfast for him to discover. He took to them quickly and built a tower. I was a bit shocked when he held up an octagon and said, “mommy, I found an octagon!” I worked for a bit with Timmy on patterns using these colorful shapes. He doesn’t yet grasp the idea of patterns- something to work on this year!

loctagonsTimmy used his Tinker Toys to build a system of “pipes used to suck up water”. I love his imagination.

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And as always, he spent hours this week putting together train tracks.

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Early in the week, we took a trip the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. It’s really a beautiful zoo and worth the 45 minute trip to get there.

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After checking out the giant zoo map, Timmy happily ran from exhibit to exhibit stopping briefly to talk to the animals. He’s taken a real interest in animals lately- at times he’d rather watch Orangutan Island on Animal Planet than a cartoon. That’s perfectly fine by me. I need to remember to check out some animal books from the library next week.

Timmy has always been more of a builder than an artist, but I’ve been learning new ways to encourage his artistic expression. Playing off of his new love of animals, I picked up some animal foam stickers from the store the other day. Tim was eager to paint a “jungle” one evening and spent some time arranging the animal stickers. He had a story to go along with it as well.

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He loves watercolor painting, too.

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I re-introduced scissors to Timmy this past week. He’s never really shown an interest in using them in the past. He made a brief attempt to use them and then gave up and tore the paper instead. He got in a little practice with a glue stick, though.

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Timmy celebrated his third birthday last week. I can’t believe my baby is three already!! One morning this past week, we celebrated at our house with some of Timmy’s little friends from the neighborhood. Timmy really enjoyed his first ever party with friends. His sweet smile said it all!

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Our homemade ball pit was a big hit with the kids!

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Timmy’s big birthday present from Mommy and Daddy was a Radio Flyer balance bike. He’s been practicing riding it at the park a few times this past week and each time he gets a little bit better.

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I’d be remiss not to mention all of the pretend play this past week. I love his pretend play, that magical glimpse into the inner workings of his sweet mind. Timmy spends a considerable amount of his day engaged in pretend play. It starts the moment he wakes up and he lets me know who he is that day- a train, an animal, his cousin. And who he is changes every so often. It’s difficult to keep up at times! Today I had a picnic at the beach with Timmy on our living room floor, he had a tea party with his sister, he drove some stuffed animal friends on a school bus, and he made me breakfast in his kitchen.

We had a busy week. And at 6 months pregnant, I’m tired just thinking about everything we did over the past few days. I’d love to hear your thoughts on our first of many weeks to come!

DIY Colorful Hot Air Balloons

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blog 8The Navy sent us packing from Virginia to Washington State a few months back. And with the move, we left behind our 1960 “work in progress” home we bought in Virginia and lived in for a grand total of 17 months. I enjoyed my short-lived freedom of being able to paint whatever I wanted whatever color I wanted. We’re renting (again!) and I no longer have walls I can paint. Sigh.

Timmy and Vera are sharing a room during our stay in Washington. I love the idea of my two little toddlers sharing a room- bedtime is the cutest! Now that we’ve settled into our new rental home, I’ve turned my attention to my kids’ very white room. My goal is to bring some color and whimsy to their shared room.

And what’s more colorful and whimsical than a hot air balloon? My first addition to their room were some DIY hot air balloons to hang from the ceiling. They were so simple to make and turned out to be really cute! All you’ll need to make one your own are a few inexpensive things:

  • paper lantern (I found mine at Party City, a pack of 3 for $6)
  • ribbon (~9 feet) and yarn (~2 feet)
  • paper cup or small basket
  • scrapbooking paper
  • hot glue gun
  • monofilament (fishing wire)

Pretty simple, right? To start, I cut 4 even strips of ribbon (each approximately 2 feet) and one shorter strip of ribbon long enough to wrap around the top of your basket or cup. If you choose to use a paper cup, I would suggest cutting off the brim of the cup. I made 3 hot air balloons- I used paper cups for two of my hot air balloons’ “baskets” and a wooden basket for the third. Both look great, I think.

You’ll notice the paper lantern is divided into 8 colorful panels. I chose to attach four ribbons to the cup/basket and lantern, but you could use 2,4 or even 8 depending on what you like the best. I lined a seam between two panels with a strip of hot glue and attached a ribbon down the length of the lantern leaving the tail of the ribbon hanging from the bottom of the lantern. I attached the remaining 3 ribbons, leaving two panels of the lantern between each ribbon.

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I left about 3 inches between the bottom of the lantern and the top of the cup/basket. I glued the ribbon down the length of the cup/basket. I then glued the remaining 3 ribbons making sure to leave the same length of ribbon between the lantern and cup/basket. You don’t want a lopsided basket for your hot air balloon!

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I secured the ribbons to the center of the bottom of the cup/basket with some glue and trimmed the “tails” to a good length.

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You could also attach the ribbons to the inside of the cup/basket and choose to not have a tail. It’s all personal preference! I really liked the look of the ribbons on the outside of the basket. The shortest piece of ribbon was glued around the top of my cup and I trimmed the excess.

Originally I stopped at this step but later I decided to add a bunting around each lantern. I’m so glad I did- I think it added so much to the hot air balloons. I cut strips of white yarn and glued the ends underneath the ribbons on the lantern. Make sure the yarn is long enough to drape between the ribbons. I cut small triangles from some scrapbooking paper I had in the house and glued them to the white ribbon.

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I tied a piece of monofilament to the metal support in the opening of the top of the balloon and attached the monoflamet to a screw hook from the ceiling.

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And there you have it. So cute and each one took about 20 minutes to make. I’d love to know what you think of my hot air balloons or see pictures of your own beautiful creations! I’m so inspired by these hot air balloons hanging in their room that I can’t wait to move on to the next project. Next up for their room? Some aqua colored curtains with white pom- pom trim and a colorful, hand-sewn bunting. Hopefully I’ll have their room complete before our next move!