Adorable Thanksgiving Craft

Need a last minute craft to keep the kids busy while you cook? Check out this adorable turkey hat that I found on Parents.com. I plan on making these with the kids tomorrow. 

Photo was taken by Scott Little and is from Parents.com


We hope you have a marvelous holiday!



Weightless

I know that the week before Thanksgiving is probably not the best time to tackle weightloss (or weight maintenance) but this will actually PROVIDE food for those in need! That's right, every 1000 calorie you burn will donate  a dollar to the Weightless Project! Right now through December 31st the money is going to the victims of typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

As of now if you connect your Jawbone, FitBit or Basis to the website and every time you exercise you will be helping the hungry. As of right now the Nike running app isn't supported but I've emailed support for both Nike and the Weightless Project so I'm hoping that my exercising can be counted towards food for the hungry soon!

What motivation to know that you keeping yourself healthy this holiday season can help feed those who need it most. So go exercise and feel good about yourself AND the contribution you are making to the hungry!

If your device isn't supported email the company, maybe if enough people email they will also join the Weightless Project!



Paper Plate Fish




Need a quick idea to keep the kids busy on holiday break from school? This fish craft is perfect and I love how simple it is and it is an excellent use for dot paints. The dots mimic the scales of the fish beautifully. To make the fish simply cut a wedge out of a paper plate and attach it to the other side for the fish tail with some glue. If you do not have dot paints you could certainly use any markers or paints that you like. We did this craft on our trip to the Carnegie Science Center. If you ever find yourself in the Pittsburgh area you should check it out! Anna loved the Robot Exhibit and Addie loved the Seascape Exhibit.


What's Thanksgivika Without a Menurky?!

This year Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving. This complicates things in terms of buying presents (are you really feeling holiday-ish when you're still raking leaves??) but is amazing for the feast. When is it more appropriate to have a fried turkey? (In case you're confused it's tradition to eat fried foods on Hanukkah!)

While we are not frying up a turkey this year, thanks to our Fresh Direct delivery, we will be having latkes and, if I get up to it, turkey shaped challah! We are also decorating; turkeys, dreidels and MENURKEYS!!!

What is a menurkey? Simon's teacher introduced them to me, it's a turkey with eight feathers. Get it? Eight candles, eight feathers, turkey, menorah. It all adds up to a menurky!

I took some things I had around the house and went to work. It probably looks like my kids made it. It was allllll me. I love my arts and crafts and I learned that coloring with sharpies on latex gloves is not as easy as you may think.

DISCLAIMER: Not my prettiest work but it was fun and festive to make!
You need:
2 latex or latex free gloves
small rubber bands
sharpies
1. Blow up two latex (or latex free) gloves. You can find them in the rubber glove section of the grocery store. I tried to tie a knot like a balloon at the bottom but didn't have luck with that. I used small rubber bands instead.
2. Connect the bottom of the gloves together with a rubber band making sure the thumbs are pointing in the same directions.
3. Connect the thumbs together, with one thumb smaller than the other to make the waddle, using another rubber band.
4. Use a rubber band for each of the feather/candles to make the "flames". (You can see them in the photo below.)
5. Color your menurky!


DIY Stencils

What do you do with your brown-paper grocery bags? No matter how diligent you are about bringing your own bag to the store, on occasion you leave them at home, in your other car, or one of the one thousand other possibilities. So if you are like me (or my mother-in-law) you want to do something productive with them instead of just tossing them into the recycling bin. Yesterday my super-creative mother-in-law came up with this idea.

First she took the bags and cut them into squares. Next she cut out various shapes: star, fish, and bird. She gave Anna a foam brush and a tiny bit of paint. Next she laid the stencil on top of another square of brown bag and Anna lightly dabbed the paint inside the stencil. The results were amazing.



Leaf Collage

Around our house leaves are plentiful. I'm not saying that lightly, we can use the leaf blower one afternoon and by the next morning the yard is literally covered in leaves again! If you look out the window on a slightly windy day it looks like it's snowing leaves. While it's very pretty to look at but a major workout to contend with!

When I was looking for wall art for our front hallway, before we had inspiration, I came upon these beautiful pictures made of pressed leaves. They were intricate designs of birds, owls, butterflies and completely made of leaves. Inspiration!!!

I took a walk one afternoon with the kids and we went leaf hunting. Their goal was to find as many different colored, shaped and sized leaves and that we did! Most of them were found on the ground but they had special permission to pick a few leaves on our property which was a huge plus for them!

We went inside and pressed the leaves in a dictionary (in between paper towels) and set them aside for a few weeks. I'm sure it didn't need to be that long but we just hadn't had the time to do the project.

Yesterday Anna and Maya, who were in excellent moods, were in a craft mood. Simon and Addie were busy with dot paint and the big girls were keen on doing a "nature project"! I gave them dictionary pages, my new favorite collage paper, and the pressed leaves. They were so creative! One thing they did learn was they couldn't put the glue stick directly on the leaves, they had to glue the paper instead.

Anyone Else Find Coats, Hats, and Mittens Annoying?

The moment I get all three kids into hats, coats, and mittens, I quickly look at the first child to realize they are not wearing a hat, their once-zipped coat is not zipped anymore, and they took off the baby's coat. This makes me crazy everyday. One thing that I have found to make my life a tiny bit easier are mimiTens. What an awesome product! Will has this pair.


They come in sizes for a baby or a 1-2 year old. There are many different colors and styles. The sleeve technology is by far the best part. When I put these on Will, the sleeves go all of the way up to his shoulders. These are not coming off and they keeps his hands nice and warm.


Homemade Lip Balm

As usual when Alan and Kristen are over we do something interesting. This time was Kristen's turn!! We took a little shopping trip and got the supplies to make our own lip balm. Yes, we have ventured into making our own makeup.

This lip gloss is easy to make but definitely more of a grown up project once the ingredients are doled out. I think I'm going to try making koolaid lip balm next so the kids can do the whole thing since it doesn't involve heat.

This being said, here is how we did it! You need:
1. Take a heaping scoop, I'm guessing it was a heaping tablespoon, of vaseline and put it in a baking cup (or other heat tolerant cup). In the future I will get a small, cheap pot to keep it safer and more durable or a disposable cupcake tray that I can cup up.
2. Add in a small amount of oil of your choice. We used olive because I feel like it's probably good for your lips. (I'm just guessing on that one!) I'd say it was about a 1/2 teaspoon. Also add in a dash vanilla extract to make it smell good!
3. Peel the crayon of your choice and break it up into the mixture. The smaller the pieces the easier they are to melt. If you want the gloss darker add the whole crayon, lighter add less crayon. You can always adjust it later and add more vaseline or crayon.
4. Heat your mixture up. I did it on a wax warmer but I'm guessing it wasn't the safest choice. You can do it in a double boiler, in 10 second increments in the microwave but any way you do it HEAT and STIR until the mixture is smooth.
5. Pour the mixture into your lip gloss container, cap it and let it cool. When it is room temperature you are ready to use it!! 

If you're not happy with the consistency the beauty is that you can scoop it out and add in extra ingredients. Want to be fancy? Add in some vitamin E. Change it to mint extract. Let me know what you add!

A Doll Fit for a Mermaid

When Anna was a toddler, I thought that no child ever played with stuffed toys. Then Addie came along and she loves stuffed animals. She always has a favorite that she is looking for, dancing with, or just toting under her arm everywhere she goes. Her current favorite is a stuffed frog who goes by the name Ella (formerly known as Boom Boom). It was a Halloween gift from our next door neighbor. They are so sweet! I actually just took a twenty minute break so that I could help her find it to take to bed. Her other love is mermaids. She loves to pretend she is a mermaid every night in the bathtub. When she stands up every night, she says, "Look, Mommy, I am balancing on my mermaid tail." This maybe my fault. This summer I told her and Anna that swimming lessons are called "mermaid school." They were both a little unsure of learning to swim, so I thought this would help. It did. Except that no one knew what they were talking--when they referred to mermaid school--about all summer long. It made me laugh every time they said it. I recently stumbled across this adorable mermaid doll.


I just ordered this as a present for Addie for an upcoming holiday. I wonder what she will name her? Doesn't The Land of Nod have such unique things? This particular item is there exclusively. They offer $4.95 for all you can ship.


Thanksgiving In A Box

I love to bake, enjoy cooking and truly enjoy hosting our family and friends at our house. This year will be our second year hosting Thanksgiving in our house and I'm so happy to have that honor. Last year was amazing. We had both my and Jared's families, Mandi's family and my friend Jen's family. It was crowded, loud and amazing! There was tons of food, all homemade, and a great time all around.

This year we are down to twenty people. Yes less people than last year, however, my planning has been less plentiful this year. Part of it was planning Maya's birthday party and the rest, well, it just never happened! When we got an email from Fresh Direct last night advertising a full Thanksgiving feast, desserts, sides and all, for 18-20 guests for $295 we jumped at it. Jared's longest work day is Wednesday so the preparation would fall onto me so I was already getting nervous. This deal just came at the right moment and the "available until November XX or until we run out" lit the fire underneath me!

I admit, I feel a bit like a sell out ordering pre-made food. I do enjoy cooking and we are on a budget so typically buying pre-made should be a no-no. Here's how we rationalized it:
1. If we went to Wegmans and purchased all the food we would most likely end up with extra stuff we didn't intend on buying. Ordering pre-made is actually SAVING us money. (Just go with me here!!)
2. We can focus on making things we really like if we want to. If we don't get around to it no one will know!

So here's the deal: 

If you are NOT coming to our Thanksgiving dinner try not to be jealous of the hard work I'm NOT doing (besides cleaning the house!!)

If you are coming this is all a joke and Jared and I slaved over a hot stove cooking your meal. Please be thankful. ;)

PS For you Fresh Direct newbies check it out! This link will give you directions to get $100 off your first two orders!



Spy Masks




The other day I had a bunch of kids here and the older ones were playing "Spy," which consisted of a lot of whispering, running around, hiding behind pieces of furniture, and avoiding be spotted by the adults. The kids make maps (which for five-year-olds surprisingly look like real maps). After an hour of running around and diving behind things, I asked them if they would like to do a craft (mostly because William was sleeping and their spy headquarters was right next to his bedroom). They quickly said no; they were far too busy being spies. What if we make spy masks? I asked. OKAY, they shouted. I took paper plates and cut them in half. Then I cut two eye holes out for them. This is much harder than it needs to be. "We need to use yarn to hold them on our faces." They decorated them as they liked with yarn, pastels, and crayons.


I punched holes around the edge of some of the masks so they could tie yarn on them for hair. What spy mask is complete without fake hair? They kept asking each other if their masks looked scary and they wanted to use colors that looked like fire, so they could be scary.




Turkey On a Plate

No, this post isn't about cooking turkey, it's Thanksgiving decoration time! This is a craft that you probably have the materials for in your house plus it has multiple steps so it keeps the kids busy!

We are always looking for festive decorations. This year Thanksgiving is coming up quickly and I finally got my door wreath up, a bit of garland that Maya picked out but we are turkey-less. We changed that yesterday!

Maya's friend Delilah was here and they both love doing art projects. I was going to have Simon do the project too but I never got around to cutting out his hand prints. I think this will be perfect to do with him when Maya is at her playdate today!

Materials:
construction paper
paper plate
glue sticks
crayons
scissors

First Maya and Delilah traced their hands as many time as they would fit on the pages. (They fit six on each page!) Then they cut them out.
I gave them glue sticks and they glued their "feathers" (handprints) onto a paper plate. When they finished they glued their turkey body on and used gemstones for their eyes. We were out of red paper for a waddle so they drew it on with crayons!

Paper Bag Puppet

The other day I took out these paper bags and told the kids that we were going to make puppets. They all (Simon and Maya were here too) looked at me like I was crazy. So I decided to make one to show them what I meant. Here is mine. Addie named her Princess Sadie (Sadie is what they call my mom).


I am only sharing this with you because I think it is funny how Anna and Maya made theirs.


See a resemblance? Isn't it funny how kids do that sometimes? This is why I typically do not make an example of the craft we are doing. Sometimes when they get a picture of what it's "supposed" to look like, it's hard for them to deviate from it. They actually loved this (despite Maya's super serious face); they just don't love to be photographed. Simon didn't make one of these and Addie made one and then cut it up into tiny little pieces because she is obsessed with cutting.

Paper Plate Tea Party Hats

This weekend we celebrated Maya's sixth birthday with a fancy tea party. One of our projects was hats and the kids had fun with it! They were cheap, easy for me to make and were a fun touch for our fanciness factor.

You need:
paper plate
paper bowl
utility knife 
hot glue gun
ribbon
fabric flowers

1. Use the utility knife to cut the inner circle out of the paper plate. I put cardboard under the plate so it wouldn't cut through onto my table.
2. Fit the bowl inside the hole you just cut with the bottom of the bowl facing the same way as the bottom of the plate. Hot glue the bowl to the plate.
3. Use the utility knife to cut holes in either side to string the ribbon through. My holes were not pretty but did the job! I used wide ribbon I found for decorating but any kind would do! I measured around my head and added extra to account for the hat but I'd say it was about 2 1/2 to 3 feet of ribbon.
4. I hot glued fabric flowers I found in a clearance bin but you can use anything! We also got adhesive back jewels for the kids to decorate them with.
Even Maya's grandpas, Poppy and BobBob, got into the hats!

Tea Time Birthday

This year for Maya's birthday party I decided to brave it and have it at home. I pulled out my teacher hat, added it to my Mom head and planned a packed two hours! 

We decided on a tea time theme and we ran with it. All the girls were invited to dress in fancy dresses and we made hats, necklaces and bracelets to adorn ourselves while we sipped some herbal tea, ate cookies we decorated, cupcakes and berries. 

The party was two hours long and that was the perfect amount of time! I made a schedule of events for myself (thanks Mom for those organizational skills!) and it helped me to be somewhat on time and make sure we got most of the activities done. My goal was to have too much to do and cut things out and not have any downtime.

2:00-Color until all the girls arrive
2:15-Make beaded bracelets/necklaces
2:40-Decorate hats.
3:00-PICTURE
3:10-Decorate cookies.
3:30-Cake and tea!
4:00-Glass of wine for Sarah.

I really tried to let the party be fun and not force them to start and stop things if they were ready. I left the crayons and beads out during the hat making so the kids always had something to do. They were all very well behaved and seemed to enjoy themselves. Best of all Maya had a jolly good time!

ACTIVITIES

Coloring:
I just left crayons and paper out and, if kids weren't sure what to do, I prompted them with drawing a tea scene. They mostly did princess and fancy rainbows. Very colorful!
Bracelets/Necklaces:
Everyone needs to be fancy for a tea party! What's fancier than jewelry? 
Before the party I pre-cut the elastic and tied a bead on the end as a stopper for the other beads. I made WAY too many but I figure that I can always use extras. I put two bowls of beads on each table; one with letter beads and one with pony beads. I handed out the bracelets first and when they were done they got the necklace length elastic. They loved spelling their names and searching for the letters and the jewels looked lovely dahling.

Hats:
These hats are so easy to make and look adorable! I took a paper plate and cut out the middle circle with a utility knife. I then put a paper bowl through the hole and hot glued it in place. I used the knife to poke holes in each side to put the ribbon through and glued some fabric flowers to decorate. The plates and bowls were from Target and the ribbon (meant for holiday decorating) and flowers were from Christmas Tree Shop. 

The kids decorated them with self adhesive jewels I got on Amazon.com. Before the party I cut them apart and separated them into equal amounts so there would be no arguing about who got most, why it's not fair, etc.

Picture:
I used the time the kids were taking pictures to clear the tables and spoon out the icing for the cookies. This way I could try to clean up the spilled beads/jewels. It was just enough time!

Cookies:
My friend, Marissa, offered to bake sugar cookies for the kids to decorate. She was such an amazing person to do that, especially since neither of her kids were coming to the party! (Her son is friends with Maya but it was a girls party!)

Before the party I separated out equal amounts of candy into bowls. I used Halloween candy that we never gave out so it was all packaged up and easy to separate. I was also extremely glad to get rid of it! The kids decorated with Nerds, Smarties, Gobstoppers and butter-cream icing. They each got a bowl with a plastic knife and meticulously decorated for almost thirty minutes! Surprisingly enough no one ate them until dessert!  

Cake and Tea:
As the kids were still sitting we transferred their cookies to -GASP- our fine china. Yes, I trusted thirteen six year olds with Lenox Pearl Platinum china. What am I saving it for? I didn't really want it in the first place because I was sure I would never use it so I figured I might as well pull it out for the second time in nine years. 

We served their cookies, vanilla cupcakes and berries. I poured herbal tea into teapots at 1:30 to give it a chance to cool down and the tea was lukewarm and perfect. No burned tongues! The fruity teas were the biggest hit but we did have some takers for the mint tea!

Party Favors:
Mandi found the cutest mini teacup and saucers at Christmas Tree Shop for $2.99 per cup. They were already wrapped with a bow and everything! I stuck two teabags into each cup and voila! Candy free and cute! Similar teacup can be found here.


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