Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

magazine creative challenge: confetti ornaments

we are delighted to have been invited to be a part of tinkerlab’s creative challenge this month! our tinkerfriend has asked us to upcycle magazines to create a project that is child-directed. given all of the junk mail and catalogs inundating our mail box this season, i was more than happy to accept this challenge so we could upcycle some of this unnecessary paper! (why all the catalogs from stores who have web sites?!)

the other night, while sorting through the stacks of catalogs, i said to my daughter, “i wonder what we could make out of all of these extra magazines…” with christmas undoubtedly on the brain, she immediately responded, “ornaments!” but of course! she said she wanted to rip them up and glue them to balls. sounds like a plan to me — so she got right to work on the ripping that evening (thus the dark photo. my apologies: it’s a casualty of wintertime blogging.)

the next day we took a trip to michaels and scored these brown paper ornament shapes for 60 cents each (which turned out to be even cheaper with a coupon – love it.)

later (and again after a mad-early sunset,) N got to work mod podging her “magazine confetti” (as she termed it) onto the ornaments.

once they were covered (and she was kind of bummed by the white look of wet mod podge initially) she said she wanted them to sparkle more, and asked for glitter. [artsy-mom guilt-producing confession: i so HATE loose glitter.] while i knew glitter would be a lovely and festive addition to something for our tree, i shuddered when N asked for it. then sighed a bit of relief when i realized quickly that we didn’t have to sprinkle it onto the ornament. i suggested stirring the glitter into the mod podge and painting another coat of glittery mod podge onto the ornaments. she was sold – phew!

we hung the ornaments to dry (which only took about an hour actually – not bad in terms of fairly instant gratification.)

and they are super cool, colorful, and sparkly on our christmas tree!

thank you, rachelle, for including us in this challenge!

Tinkerlab Creative Challenge

check out all of the other amazing bloggers below who gave their junk mail a second life:

visit each of their amazing projects on the linky below – so many fun ideas! there’s a second linky at the bottom where you can join in the fun and add your own upcycled magazine ideas, too!

add your own ideas here:


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painted: gluten free ornaments

we wanted to share a little follow up post about our adventures in painting the gluten free salt dough ornaments we made the other day. (see previous entry for recipe.)

after taking inventory, we ended up with more ornaments than we realized… wow, that batch of dough didn’t seem like it’d make this many!

we got out some materials for decorating these cute canvases. we had a palette of acrylics left over from another project that we had to use up, and we also got out our acrylic metallic paints (love the sparkle!) and some stamps and stamp pads.

N was interested in the paints, and had a great time applying every color of the rainbow on the ornaments.

i stamped some of the ornaments to attach them to holiday gifts. (N only wanted to paint.) the ink took a while to dry, but they turned out pretty cute.

stamps + baker's twine = sweet

N’s painted beauties were a colorful delight!

we were intending to give these to her friends, but at this point, i’m honestly not sure that she’ll part with any of these. (do your kids hoard the stuff they initially make as gifts? maybe this is a phase…?)

we have a lot more ornament ideas up our sleeves, so stay tuned for those… and we’ll see how the gifting of these turns out, but our friends may have to come visit our overly-accessorized tree to see these in person unless N gets into the christmas spirit sometime soon. 😉

what types of ornaments are you making this year?


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gluten free salt dough ornaments

the paint cut paste history of salt dough ornaments goes something like this: i used to be able to eat gluten, and when i did, the homemade play dough squished all over our kitchen. when N was almost 2.5 years old (2009,) we made these (yummy smelling!) cinnamon dough ornaments (yep in the summer; we like to plan ahead) and when she was almost 3 years old, (near christmastime, like normal people) we made salt dough ornaments. close to valentines’s day 2010, we made these salt dough hearts into garland.

last christmas (2010) we skipped the dough ornament part of our christmas tradition altogether because our kitchen became gluten free a few months prior, and i found it daunting enough to cook with weird and expensive flours. at the time, gluten free crafting seemed like way too much. i guess i’ve adjusted because i now know it’s not. we created the simplest of gluten free salt dough ornaments yesterday.

i was (p)inspired by a lot of pretty salt dough ornaments i saw around the web this year, like these and these, and the lovely ones tinkerlab posted yesterday. so yesterday afternoon, i figured we’d give a gluten free version a shot, and i searched for recipes. the one we ended up using is from the spunky coconut. they made cute pretend fruit with their dough, so it took a while for them to bake their thick pieces, but even our thin ornaments were not quick at all! here’s what we did:

  • bring 1 cup of water to (barely) a boil
  • add 1 cup of salt, stir and dissolve for about a minute (not all of the salt dissolves. i guess that’s okay.)
  • pour salt and water over 1 cup of cornstarch and mix together
  • add 1/4 cup of cold water
  • add 2 tbsp oil (i used canola. you might want to go with 1.5 tbsp instead, in hindsight)

  • mix and kneed the clay like dough. if the dough is too wet and sticky, add more corn starch till it has a playdough consistency. (i had to sprinkle ours a few times with corn starch.) N and i both loved how white and smooth (and a bit oily) this dough felt to play with!

N rolled the dough until it was about 1/4″ thick. she’s a sucker for a rolling pin.

we cut some circles (large and small,) stars, and a few trees (with fingerprints in them to be decorated later.) we used a straw to make holes in each one for stringing. i even stamped a few (with regular rubber stamps) to see if i could get snowflake patterns and such to show up, but this sort of dough didn’t take well to that detail once baked.

for the first hour, i baked the ornaments on parchment-lined cookie sheets at 200 degrees F. then, i increased the temperature to 220 degrees because they were still quite soft. a half hour later, i put it on 245 F. all in all, these took about 3 hours to bake, and some of the thicker ones are still a bit soft in the centers. my advice is to make sure they’re rolled out pretty thin, then start out by baking at 245 degrees F.

they are pretty sweet because they’re very white, have a salt-sparkle to them, and are translucent once they’re baked. they also have a bit of oil on the surface. i’m wondering how this will effect our plans to paint them. maybe use a smidge less oil if you try this.

N is excited to paint them. i have ideas for some stamping, as well. stay tuned…


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advent calendar of activities

this year we decided to forego our old advent calendar (which was a wooden box of doors filled with tiny toys, tokens, stones, and activities) and instead do a purely activity-based advent calendar. of course doing memory-making things together is much more lasting than having more trinkets littering our carpet. besides, that’s what stockings are for, right? 😉

i purchased some red envelopes and a pack of stickers at michael’s (gotta love coupons) the other day. that night i set to work on decorating them after N was asleep. i figured this would be a mom-project, since it’s all for her to enjoy.

ugh, more dark nighttime-crafting photos

my husband and i brainstormed 25 things that we’d like to offer for her to do in december, and here’s what we came up with, listed here in no order at all:

  • Tonight we’ll only use candlelight after the sun goes down
  • Tacky holiday lights tour of the neighborhood
  • Cut paper snowflakes and decorate the windows
  • Let’s go ice skating!
  • Today we’ll drink hot chocolate with marshmallows while making ornaments
  • Family movie night with popcorn
  • Make candles
  • Decorate Christmas cookies
  • Give a gift to a child who needs one
  • Get a Christmas pedicure at mom’s spa!
  • Make and hang bird/squirrel feeders in the backyard
  • Bring a gift to a neighbor: card, ornament, and cookies
  • Family game night
  • Go to a holiday faire
  • Go on a Starbucks date with mommy
  • Family storytelling with cider by the fire
  • Go to a special holiday show (the velveteen rabbit) in the city
  • Fly on an airplane to see family!
  • Visit your first home (while on vacation)
  • Enjoy dinner with [her favorite babysitter] and give her a special holiday gift
  • Dress up for a fancy family dinner
  • Sing carols together
  • Unwrap a new book to read at bedtime
  • Hear the story of the first Christmas at bedtime
  • Make a snowman (craft, because we don’t have real snow here.)
  • Ho ho ho – open gifts!

i printed them out onto little cards and put one in each envelope. then strung them across the balcony in our hallway.

when N saw them in the morning, she was so excited, and is now counting down to december beginning on thursday! (that’s also when our elf-on-the-shelf, jasper, returns from the north pole.) N can’t read everything just yet, so i know that even if she peeks inside these low hanging envelopes, the surprises won’t be spoiled.

please share: what types of activities or things do you include in your advent calendars?



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driftwood christmas tree

this summer we ended up with a lot of beach treasures, so rather than let them sit in buckets in our shed all winter long, this pinspiration (courtesy of beachcomber) made me want to give these beauties a new (and festive!) life.

remember our trip to a nearby salvage yard? well, we scored this distressed cabinet door for under $5, which made for a perfect backdrop to our driftwood christmas tree. N and i gathered up various sizes of driftwood, and began our work.

driftwood itself is just so lovely.

N was a huge help in organizing the pieces of driftwood by length.

then she set to work lining them up on the board in a tree pattern. after she arranged them how she liked them, i hot glued the wood to the board.

once they were glued down, we sourced more beachy items (starfish for “tree topper” and shells and sea glass for “ornaments”) and N “decorated the christmas tree” with them.

thankfully, she didn’t clump them all in one spot (like she did on our actual christmas tree!)

it’s just so fun to look at!


and it makes for a handsome holiday mantel!

okay, so i keep blogging about projects from pinterest that i want to do (not necessarily child-centered – ack!) but at least N helped a great deal with this one, right…??? and she LOVES it… does that count? [insert sheepish grin here.]

let the holiday season begin!


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art fair in the redwoods

for us, one of the highlights of this time of year in the bay area is the kings mountain arts fair. it is held in woodside, ca, for three days, every labor day weekend, and it is utter and complete MAGIC!

magic in the way that one feels like a tiny wood nymph walking among these giant redwood trees, checking out amazing artisan wares.

the sounds of one artist playing his handmade native american flutes and another playing his drums rings through the woods.

at 2010 fair, playing with flute maker guillermo martinez just before i bought a flute from him

i’m a girl who loves herself some etsy, but this is like a 3D etsy set in the middle of a fairy tale forest… complete with coffee, cookies, and beekeepers with their honey.

a magical land where there is inspirational art at every turn.

i love this mandala mixed media piece (2010)

a fairy tale where woodland creatures surprise you (when trying on expensive leather masks.)

she is, of course, a fox

a fairy tale where kids can literally climb inside of huge tree stumps and create their own crowns from aluminum foil, ribbons, and flowers…

or hide in the shadows of tee pees…

N and i wandered around this festival on saturday and struck up conversations with amazing woodworkers from earnest efforts who carve these gorgeous boxes and spirit shakers.

N was such a sweet shopper that the artist even gifted her with a spirit shaker made from purpleheart wood — a naturally purple wood. “how did he know this was my favorite color??” see? magic!

i would show you a photo of all of the lovely purchases we made, but we made a dent in our holiday shopping at the festival, so i don’t want to spoil the surprises. let’s just say that they are hand-crafted and heARTful gifts!

if you’re ever in the bay area around labor day, i highly recommend checking this out!


where and when are your favorite art fairs?


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happy holidays to all!

hello dear readers – i’ll be taking the week off from blogging, though not from creating, in order to spend time celebrating with family.

wishing you and yours having a safe and joyful holiday season! see you in the new year…

here’s to an artfilled 2011 for us all!


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snow globe

i knew it was only a matter of time before we made one of these. we’re big fans of snowglobes over here. this is a new one my sister gave us this year as a gift. lovely, huh?

i’ve sort of been intimidated by the whole snow globe thing — what with eggshells and different oils inside in all of those instructions i see online. then i decided it didn’t need to be all that complex. we had all four things in our home that we needed, lucky for us, as N has quite a bad cold right now and we can’t really run to the store. we gathered up a clear jar, glitter, polymer clay (sculpey), and a plastic trinket for inside. oh, and water! just water.

we opened the jar and put a ball of the sculpey clay on the inside of the lid. N chose a plastic cinderella from her sandtray toys outside to put inside of the snow globe. okay, so it’s not christmasy… but she can display it year round in her bedroom. we stuck the cinderella securely into the clay.

then we sprinkled lots of glitter and some tiny shiny confetti into the jar.

N filled the jar with water. (yes, our sink got glittered.)

(nevermind the tea cup and egg pan from breakfast)

then i put hot glue around the top edge of the jar and screwed the lid on. this seals the jar from leaking.

we let it dry for a bit…

and voila! cinderella (all fancied up with a blue sash for the ball) was enjoying a blizzard of fancy sparkles!


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sugar cookies, paper cookies

last week, we did a little holiday baking around here. we made our usual recipe-off-the-marshmallow-fluff-jar fudge. then i had to dig up a new sugar cookie recipe because of the whole pesky gluten-intolerance thing. i ended up finding an awesome recipe that you honestly would not know is gluten-free! we got down to business, mixing the 6,502 types of flours together.

we had an awesome time cutting the cookies…

and decorating the cookies.

and admiring the cookies and eventually eating the cookies! (and gifting some)

the next day when N was playing alone in her room, she asked for scissors and paper. i knew she was coloring, and she was being sort of sneaky about it, but we granted her the items (regardless of my fear that she will someday soon attempt to cut her own hair.) after almost an hour of total quiet in there, she emerged with “cookies!”

she had been cutting and decorating lots of “cookies” on her own, and was quite proud of them. i just love child-originated art projects!

(angry gingerman shown for scale? or just because we were about to munch on him... which is probably why he was angry)


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santa card

i just had to share the sweetest card that came home from preschool with N. again, a great idea from her preschool teacher to do an upside-down handprint santa.

and what’s inside is truly heartwarming.

a picture of us all around the christmas tree

ho ho ho!


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winter solstice lanterns

the winter solstice is upon us, where the days will begin to get longer from there. in celebration of bringing the light and due to its being the darkest day of the year, lanterns are often made in honor of the solstice. two years ago, we made a lovely lantern at the waldorf school where we were in a parent-child class with N before she turned 2. they made quite an impression on her, so i thought we’d make them the same way again for this winter solstice.

when seeking a how-to memory refresher online, i found the most lovely tutorial on the garden mama blog. seriously, her beautiful entry about these lanterns deems this one totally unnecessary, as she wrote the most poetic and wonderfully photographed tutorial on these i could imagine. but i’m going to (b)log our experience here, nonetheless.

admiring the finished product on a dark winter morning

we started by beginning the wet-on-wet watercolor process. we soaked three sheets of watercolor paper.

then we opted to dilute my tubes of professional grade watercolors in little jars of water, though you could just use regular watercolors for this. we also chose to only use primary colors, so as to make this an experiment in color-mixing.

N painted and painted, watching the colors run together and create new hues – magic!


when we were finished painting, she wanted a little more vibrance, so i pulled out the watersoluble crayons (one of my favorite media on earth!) and she added some red, yellow, and blue lines into the wet paint. when wet, these crayons behave like concentrated paint.

we hung the masterpieces to dry overnight.

the next day we rubbed them with canola oil on a cloth, so as to make the paper more translucent when lit from within.

after the oil was dry (about a day) we cut fringe along the long side of the paper. we made two like the garden mama blog suggested (ever 2.5 inches, 2.5 inches long) and the third we only did at 1.5 x 1.5 inches.

we used a pillar candle to evenly roll the paintings around, and secured the edge with school glue, and clothespinned them until dry.

after they were dry, we folded the bottom tabs in to create a bottom.

then instead of putting real fire inside, i used little electric tea lights instead.

now we are ready for the darkest day of the year!

all ready to bring the light on december 21st! (which, incidentally, is my birthday 🙂 )

by the way, those cute wooden reindeer you see in the photos were a custom set that the talented chris over at mamaroots made for N. we sooo love her creations!


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fancy globe ornaments

how i just love those cheap, clear glass ornaments you can get at michael’s (or practically anywhere!) there are so many fun things you can do with them. last year we swirled metallic paint inside of them. this year, we decided to do it up fancy-style by stuffing them with all sorts of fun things!

N and i got our ornaments ready by labeling each one with one of her classmate’s names on the tray where it sits, so we could tell them apart since they were soon to be personalized.

then we got out a bunch of stuff from our art cabinet, such as feathers, seed beads, sequins, glitter, foam letters, tinsel, and fuzzy pom-poms. (tiny toys, figurines, shredded paper, leaves, dried flowers, etc could be great in here, too — let your imagination run wild!)

N found the first letter of the name of each of her classmates and we put the foam letter in the ornaments first.

then she carefully considered the colors and things that each of her friends would like, and we went through the materials type by type until each person’s ornament was full of fancy holiday cheer!

a tip for adding glitter, seed beads, or other tiny items – use a small funnel.

i tied ribbons to each one so they can be hung on a tree (or in a bedroom windown year-round, perhaps.) we will package them up safely and give them out at preschool when winter break nears. (hope this didn’t spoil it for any of you parents in her class. sorry 😉 )


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