Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ghost Suckers/Lollipops and a Pumpkin Goodie Display

It's been a long-standing family tradition to make ghostie suckers to hand out to trick-or-treaters on Halloween.

Tootsie or Blow Pops, a tissue, some ribbon or twine or string, and a couple dots with a marker for eyes. We love to turn on a family-friendly Halloween movie and spend an evening making up 50 or 100 of these guys.

We usually just arrange them in a bowl, but last year we made them even cuter by drilling holes in a pretty pumpkin and sticking the suckers in. We had to refill frequently through the night, as these little ghosties were popular. I loved hearing the kids' exclamations of how cute and cool the candies looked!


Grace Kelly and The Hipster - Creative Kids' Halloween Costumes

It's nearly Halloween again, and I just realized I never took a moment to share the kids' costumes from last year. So, without further ado, I give you Grace Kelly and The Hipster:

Three year old Meg and I were watching an old movie one afternoon when she told me, "I want to be her for Halloween," gesturing to the lovely Miss Kelly. We searched through Google images to find a suitably fabulous gown to recreate (taking some serious artistic liberties), and I then set about making a skirt with miles and miles of pink, black, and white tulle. Meg already had the hat, purchased from the adult section at Target on clearance for $5. A black long-sleeved top and an old purse of mine finished the look off splendidly.

I made the skirt by simply cutting long, thin strips of tulle and looping them around a piece of elastic. I stacked pieces of black and white or black and pink tulle before looping to be sure the colors were variegated nicely and not too stripey.

A few strips of tulle tied around the hat helped it blend seamlessly with the rest of the costume.

Baby costumes are my favorite, because you can get a little silly or whimsical or downright ridiculous, with no protests from the wearer.

James already owned the hat, t-shirt, jeggings (I purchase all his jeggings and leggings from the girls' department, because I love the fit and variety), and socks. I picked up the flannel top and shoes from the kids' consignment store for less than $5 total, the glasses from Dollar Tree (just popped out the lenses), and cut out a mustache from craft foam and hot glued it to a pacifier.

We're still giddy we managed to catch this awesome candid on camera!


Friday, September 27, 2013

Handmade Pom Pom Headbands

Meg's going through a stage of preferring to do her own hair. Most days she chooses to just comb the tangles out, push on a headband, and get going, so I thought I'd make her a few cute new ones so she can still be fancy, which is apparently paramount when you're four. I've seen a number of pom pom headbands like these for sale and just love them, so I used these tutorials to make a few myself.

They came together quickly, and I think she looks just darling in them. Most importantly, she thinks they're fab.


"Let's Go Camping!" Pretend Play

I'd been feeling like a bit of a loser mom for a while. We had a lot going on in August, and I was getting snappy and short with my kids, and they were spending a lot of their days cranky as a result. One night I was laying in bed, thinking about how cute it is that my Meg is currently obsessed with the concept of camping when she has no practical experience with it, and on a whim I decided to set up a camping trip for her to wake up to.

I sneaked downstairs and set up a "campsite" in the middle of the playroom with the kids' play tent, an overturned rug, and a "campfire" of Lincoln Logs and train tracks.

The "fishing hole" was made from a blue yoga mat, plastic ducks, a frog beanbag toss game, and some hastily-cut cardstock fish with paperclips clipped to their heads. I made a quick fishing rod with a wooden dowel (pinata stick from Meg's birthday party), twine, and a magnet.

I set up some gathering activities: pom pom "blueberries" (which is a game Meg made up herself ages ago) with tin pails, Dollar Tree faux leaves scattered on the floor, and plastic bugs hidden amongst the playroom toys.

I set the scene further by tucking faux flowers into couch cushions and nestling woodland stuffed animals in appropriate "homes."

Meg was greeted when she came down the stairs with a backpack filled with bug nets, a magnifying glass, cooking supplies, a flashlight, the fishing pole, a cardboard tube "spy glass" she'd made earlier, a sleeping bag, and an explorer's hat.

All told, it took me maybe 15 minutes to set up.

She was so excited when she woke up and heard we were going camping!

She caught and cooked dinner,

collected leaves and bugs and blueberries,

and spent a good long time hiding from bears in the tent. When we finished, we set it all back up and did it again. And again. And again.

She's been asking to go camping again every day since, so I'm going to have to set up another surprise trip soon. Things were just tossed together and not very attractively, but the novelty of the activity and one-on-one time with Mom thrilled her. And it didn't cost us a cent!


Autumn Activity Shelves

I've mentioned before that we have a bookshelf in our kitchen full of novel toys and seasonal activities to keep our kids engaged while we're cooking dinner or otherwise occupied on the main floor of our house.

For autumn, it's stocked with:

Art Supplies
glue, feathers, leaf stickers, autumn foam stickers, Halloween cookie cutters to trace, foam leaves, colored card stock and white art paper, and a jack-o-lantern sticker book

The supplies are tucked away in a felt Halloween basket purchased on clearance last year.

Fine Motor Activity
tiny jack-o-lantern erasers, pumpkin ice cube tray, and tongs

Story Props and Book

Seasonal Picture Books

and our autumn sensory bin and last year's autumn treasure basket.

The art supplies, books, and fine motor activity fit neatly inside a basket.


Autumn Sensory Bin

Our autumn sensory bin contains black beans, white beans, orange-dyed rice*, plastic leaf table scatter from Target's Dollar Spot (purchased last year after-Halloween clearance, but I believe they have it again this year), painted acorns, bowls, a scoop, and tongs.

We collected some acorns at the park recently, washed them, baked them in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes (to kill off any insects/larvae), painted the nuts with soy paint, hot glued the caps on, then polished them up with some beeswax to protect the paint. They make a fun sensory bin addition.

*To color the rice, I just dumped some vinegar and a few drops of red and yellow food coloring onto the rice, stirred thoroughly, then spread it flat to dry for a few hours.


Five Little Pumpkins Child-Made Story Props

One of Meg's favorite autumn books is 5 Little Pumpkins. When I was at Michael's craft store recently and saw some little wooden pumpkin cutouts, I had a feeling she'd love using them to make her own story props.

I offered her orange tempera on a plastic palette, a paintbrush, a black Sharpie, and the cutouts. She chose to prop the book in front of her as she worked.

She put approximately 112 coats of paint on the pumpkins then left them to dry while she napped.

When she awoke, she carefully drew each pumpkin face with the Sharpie. She really studied each pumpkin and tried to replicate its unique features. This is something fairly new for her, copying an image. She's usually adamant that she wants to do things her own way.

She was so proud of how they turned out.