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Something I’ve discovered with some surprise is that, for a younger child, the appeal of putting beads onto a pipe cleaner Never. Gets. Old.  Whenever I am at my whits end and can’t think of anything for them to do to save my life, I break out the pipe cleaners and beads.  You can bend them into shapes (like the hearts below), use them to form letters and numbers, make bracelets, crowns… you name it, we’ve made it.

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The beauty is that you can re-use all the supplies with a few un-twists of the pipe cleaners a few days later (they won’t miss them what with the HUNDREDS of pipe-cleaner bead thingies they’ve made) – it’s a self-replenishing craft!!  For valentine’s we got a little more crafty than usual and attached them to some leftover lollipop sticks I had from a party and voila!  Heart wands.

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My 2 year old and 5 year old both enjoy doing this for what seems like hours, and the bonus is that it’s good for their little fine motor skills to put them on.  I get to cook dinner AND feel good about their little brain development – win, win!

Sink Bubbles!

Even in California, it gets cold enough to stay indoors for a good portion of the winter.  Especially where we are near San Francisco, the wind can be bitterly cold some days.  I do the usual things to keep them entertained – bored games, coloring, painting, etc., and those work okay, but also get old day after day.  Now and then I stumble upon something that’s new and engaging enough to last quite a bit of time before the novelty wears off, the latest of which is sink bubbles.

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Many of you may have already discovered this, but for us, it’s new and it’s GREAT!  It gives the girls the joy of a bubble bath, but without the full-on production of a bath, and as long as you throw a few towels on the floor, the clean-up is relatively simple.  We’ve been doing this daily for about a week and they are STILL begging to do it every afternoon.  A tiny bit of water and bubbles followed by some vigorous mixing and you barely even need to use any of each to get a sink full of bubbles (which means the ability to make large puddles on the floor is minimized).  Give them a couple of cups and they happily make bubble cappuccinos and lattes for a good 30 minutes (do I take them to Starbucks too much?).

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I’m going to milk this one for all it’s worth – if your kids can be trusted not to make too much of a mess, definitely give this one a go!

Clementine

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Here’s another of my recent crochet dolls I got around to photographing – this one I made for my younger daughter, so she’s a keeper too.  I tested out attaching a flower headband with this one and I think she turned out pretty cute – I’ll need to work on the technique a bit though before using it on one I give away.  Anyway, hope you like her!

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What is amigurumi you ask?  It’s basically japanese crochet doll making – usually little dolls, using a little crochet hook.  For some unexplainable reason I decided about 6 months ago that I MUST learn to do this, and so here we are… meet, June:

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I’ve really loved learning to make these – it took some trial and error using patterns I found around the web and mixing and matching and adjusting to get to the specific look I was going for with these dolls, but once I perfected it, I’ve been making them as much as I can (which really is only about one per month).

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I’ve only photographed this one, but more will be coming!  I decided I should start taking their pictures since I really do love them all, but, let’s be honest, what do I need these for?  They make great gifts, so off they go, with just their photos to remember them by.  This one I made for one of my daughter’s, though, so she’s a keeper.  I’ve given a few away and have about three in progress for friends having babies this year, so I’ve got plenty to keep me busy.

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I love trying new colors and styles for the clothes – it really is a great creative outlet and I love making something with my hands.  Graphic design is fun, but it’s different than REALLY making something, ya know?  Anyway, I hope you enjoy the pics and if you’d like any tips or technique info, give me a shout!

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Thankful Tree

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This is our second year doing a Thankful Tree and I am absolutely in love with the meaning behind it – showing children how your tree gets covered day by day in things to be thankful for until at last it is completely full.  Last year I drew a tree on paper and we stuck the leaves on with glue, but somehow it wasn’t quite as satisfying as placing the leaves on an actual “tree”.

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Both the girls and I are liking this version better, and it’s actually a lot easier (no artistic skills required!).  We just gathered some sticks from the yard and placed them in a vase and voila, done!  I have a leaf paper punch that I used to punch out red, orange, yellow and brown leaves and then made a loop with twine to hang them on.

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So far my 4 year old is thankful  for Barbies, Crowns, Fairies, and (thankfully), me, her sister and her dad.  I try not to guide her in what types of things to be thankful for because, to be honest, I love the fact that she is thankful for fairies – these years don’t last long 🙂

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I’d love to hear about what you do for your thankful tree!

I made these little Halloween tags to have on hand for little favors and treats, not really knowing what I’d use them for, but they’ve come in very handy!  I just printed off one page of twelve labels and used some to send photos to family, and a few for some baked goods we brought to neighbors.

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All-in-all, pretty useful to have around.  Print them on card stock and punch a whole, or print onto label paper and stick them on anything you want.  Printable is here!

As co-room mom for my daughter’s class this year I’m helping plan the Halloween Party next week (yikes!).  Lots of parents are pitching in, but I’m doing some favors and a fun little game for the kids to participate in during the party, using candy corn as “witches vitamins”.

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I just used an old peanut butter jar and dumped a bunch in, stuck on a label and printed out some guessing cards so everyone can join.  Whoever guesses closest gets to take the whole jar home (much to their mother’s dismay, I’m sure, haha).  I counted them all as I put them in so I don’t have to deal with it on the day of the party – in case you’re wondering there are 247!

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Finally, I made treat bags using little plastic bags from Amazon, printed out some tops and stapled them on.  All in all it took me one afternoon to print it all and get them stuffed and labeled – not bad!  And since I already had all the paper and bags, it pretty much only cost me $10 worth of candy corn (the jar took about 1 1/2 bags, and 23 little bags took about 3 1/2 bags).  Done and done.

witch3Follow the links below if you’d like any of the printables:

Jar label

Guessing game cards

Bag tops

Enjoy!