Posts tagged crafts
Upcycled Camping Lanterns: Endless Summer Projects

This post is sponsored by Bing.

Summer is the perfect time to travel, even if it's just to your backyard. Last weekend, we even perched our tent in my son's bedroom so that he could have a special sleep over with his sister. Since then we've had camping on the brain. Staycations are always great on the budget, and here's an idea to up the imagination on your next adventure at home. I'm delighted to share my last (how can summer possibly be coming to a close?) Endless Summer Project for this season: an upcycled camping lantern.

Using oatmeal containers that a friend had given to us for our crafting, we painted and doodled our way to a working camping lantern. To create, grab:

  • A battery-operated candle (pull out a few from the Christmas stock)
  • An oatmeal container with the wrapper and plastic ring around the top removed
  • Acrylic or poster paint and paintbrush
  • Wire, rope, or heavy string
  • Transparency sheet
  • Construction paper

1. Hole punch one hole on either side of the top of the canister.

2. Cut large rectangular holes on either side. This is an easy job for an X-Acto knife, but even child scissors can cut through the cardboard cylinders with some assistance.

3. Put little hands to work on painting. We chose campy green to make our lantern look like official camping gear.

4. Cut a large circle out of the construction paper. Cut a line into the center. Overlap and glue the excess paper to form the cone top of the lantern.

5. Cut a letter-sized transparency in half. With a permanent marker, doodle your design. Remember that the light will shine through these two panels so color to your heart's desire. Consider even making shapes to create special shadows on your tent wall.

6. Attach the transparency to the interior of the canister with invisible tape.

7. With double-sided tape or a hot glue gun, attach you candle to the bottom of the canister. *If your candle has an on/off switch at the bottom, cut out a small hole to reach the switch before gluing into place.

7. String wire or rope through the holes punched on the canister and through the cone roof.

The warmth of the candlelight makes a charmed evening feel like one of the best of childhood.

The kids are excited to use theirs inside and outside. We haven't yet done an overnight in the tent (outside), but these upcycled camping lanterns might be the inspiration we need to stay brave in the dark.

We've had such a blast sharing these creations with you throughout the summer, and there's still more to enjoy! Join in next Wednesday for another great Endless Summer Project! Here's the entire list in case you missed them:

Here's to the last glorious weeks of summer, friends!

xoxo, MJ

 

Back to School Geometric Initial Totes

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® Elmer’s and Wet Ones, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #CraftandCleanUp http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

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We are getting excited for school around here, and, to celebrate, we created geometric initial tote bags to hold the after-school supplies. Backpacks, lunchbags, and school shoes of all sorts are filling the store shelves and catalogs in our mailbox. Ready or not, summer is coming to a close and a new school year is about to begin. Quite honestly, it's one of my favorite times of year. The beginning of school is like New Year's, with better Midwestern weather. So much potential bundled up into fresh pencils and new notebooks.

For once, we're ready with school supply purchases. I like to hit Target early to see the entire landscape of what they're offering. I grabbed up this Elmer's and Wet Ones combo pack in the Back to School section. The pairing of these two is genius.

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This year my girls, now in second and fourth grade, are involved in a full schedule of after school activities. We purchased some awesome backpacks, but we were still in need of something to hold the piano books, soccer balls, Daisy folders, choir schedules, and more. Little hands tire quickly at the end of the day and carrying all of the other equipment in their arms just isn't practical anymore.

So, with the help of some Elmer's glue and a pack of Wet Ones to clean up our smudges and messes, we got crafty and transformed some plain tote bags into geometric initial totes that the girls can use every day.

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We purchased durable canvas tote and drawstring bags, found some acrylic paints in colors that the girls loved, grabbed our Elmer's glue and a paint brush and went to work.

To begin, I drew in a very light pencil, each girl's initials on the bag. I freehanded ours, but you could easily transfer on a large letter image from your favorite font. I'd recommend something simple and bold since the detail of this craft comes through in the geometric shapes.

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Next, trace over your lines with glue, trying to maintain the same thickness in each line. Sometimes you'll catch an air bubble or make your own goober so be sure to keep a Wet One wipe close by to clean up your mistake in no time.

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Once you have your initial outlined, the fun begins! From the edge of a letter, draw a small triangle and then another and connect them. Be silly, go geo-crazy, and surround your letters with shapes. Be sure to leave the inside of the letters clear of any glue. Make sure that the layer of glue you paint is thick and dimensional.

Let glue dry for a good 2-4 hours.

Grab your paints. We chose just two colors for each bag and mixed different shades together to create an analogous palette. Paint each shape right up to the glue, allowing the glue to act as a barrier to the next shape.

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My ladies were quite happy with their new, personalized bags. Fingers crossed for a cleaner minivan.

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These bags are getting a workout already with soccer practices nearing and piano lessons every Monday. I love that my ladies are so well rounded and involved, and I'm happy they have some place to keep all of their stuff for these busy times as well!

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So many possibilities with this technique! Find a bottle of Elmer's gel glue to create a washable design for your bags that might need more laundering.

We're on the countdown to school with just over three weeks to go. How about you?

xoxo, MJ

Vacation Mobile: Endless Summer Projects
This post is sponsored by Bing.

I stink at scrapbooks and photo albums, but a vacation mobile? I can get behind that. Today's Endless Summer Project is a sweet one from Jen over at Classic Play. It's a three-dimensional way for your kids to put together the images, words, and memories of their special trip, and I know my kids are excited to give this one a try.

We had our first visit to the ocean this summer. Living in landlocked Indiana, we rejoice at sport lakes and adore Lake Michigan, but wide-open, amazing ocean space is a whole different story. They were clearly blown away in the most positivie ways. During our long drive and leisurely dinners, we wrote down and sketched our memories so that they would always remain fresh in the pages of our journal. I'd love to see how they'd turn these doodles and writings into a creative mobile like this.

There's still plenty of time to soak up all of the Endless Summer Projects:

Next week we'll be hosting Endless Summer Projects with an outdoor project that you can enjoy well into the fall!

And thank you for your patience with my two posts-a-week schedule lately. Summer is so full, and it's been a wonderful one, but I almost miss investing time here. But that, too, will soon change! Lots of great ideas coming your way in August.

xoxo, MJ

The Curators of the best DIY round ups
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Finding fabulous projects is not as easy as it may seem. These three curators are the ones to follow for the best DIY round ups on the worldwide web.

Before I began blogging, I had little appreciation for what we lovingly term a "round up post." These are typically a list or a collage of ideas or images found around the web based around a particular theme or topic. Searching out the best of the best is a tedious process; it's more than a Google search or Pinterest entry. It's a keen eye, a great sense of design, and a knowledge of what's possible and practical.

Rachel, Marlene, and Sarah post the best DIY round ups to be found.

You've likely seen Rachel's round ups on Pinterest. Her blog The Crafted Life is jam-packed with her process, inspiration, and business-sharing advice. Her themes are unique and her picks are always beautiful. Rachel mixes the complex with the super simple to create a lovely blend for every level of creator. Even when I'm not ready to make one of the recommended pieces, I find myself returning to her pages just to see what's inspiring her and what's trending for DIY. She always has the latest.

Marlene of Jade and Fern has a modern and clean feel to her round ups. I am always surprised by her finds and wishing to find time in my schedule to create such beauty. Though a handful of her tutorial links are outside of my comfort zone, none of them feel unapproachable or, even worse, undesirable. She has her eye set on her brand and every DIY that she selects fits well with her own posts that are in their own right gorgeous as well.

Sarah of Sarah Hearts wins for color and pattern. She finds DIYs with texture, design, and charm. Her projects are just the kinds you want to create for your best friend and yourself. The energy with which she creates her own posts comes through in her picks. My favorite part? She never picks a dud. Every project is fresh, unique and approachable for a variety of skill levels.

In today's busy times, finding great projects can be a challenge, or at least a time challenge. Follow these three curators for only the best of the best. You'll appreciate their careful editing and helpful suggestions, I promise.

Who would you add? Who always finds just the right project?

xoxo, MJ

Charlotte Moon + A Giveaway

Hello lovelies, I've missed you. Due to an avalanche of work, a quick travel change, and a little matter of exhaustion, I had to take an unexpected blog break this week. I promise to still throw you the fabulous content that I had planned and spare you the melodrama of the details.

I'm so excited to re-introduce you to my pal, Claire. She's been on Pars Caeli before talking about life in Ireland (she is the big sis of one of my best friends and greatest people on Earth) and shared an amazing DIY on turning children's art into pillows. Claire hails from Northern Ireland and has recently made some dreams into reality by opening up her own store. I've been waiting to see her bloom into this, and I'm so excited to show you the first products from Charlotte Moon.

And I begged Claire to let me offer a piece of her collection to you beautiful people. And guess what? She agreed.

And that's awesome. And supporting people who follow their dreams? Well, that's even better. We should all do a little more of that (both the following and the supporting).

I interviewed Claire to learn more about how she decided to take this leap. Here she is in her own words:

I've been pretty obsessed with crafting since I was about 6 when I made a fabulous train out of matching boxes! My parents were always great about abandoning the dining room table to the latest project and messy creation and humoured us in the journey through knitting, embroidery, papier-mâché, sewing and paper crafts.

Charlotte Moon has been a project which has come to fruition after several years. Working as a divorce lawyer, I always made wedding invitations for friends to balance out the romantic karma! After having a car accident and some back surgeries, I've taken some time off to recover and Charlotte Moon has been a fabulous way for me to focus on my creativity.

I finally decided to launch my crafts in a more formal way in late 2013. I love parcelling up cards and buntings and baby presents made with care and posting them off all over the world! In terms of my favourite crafts to make, my heart will always be with the card making. I love receiving mail, and as a result I absolutely love sending cards to people for all occasions! I relish coming up with new designs for cards, and you can make cards anywhere! Mind you, the name buntings hold a very special place in my heart.

To order any Charlotte Moon goodies, email Claire at charlottemoon1@gmail.com

Claire is giving away this sweet birthday banner above, and all you have to do is like Charlotte Moon on Facebook and leave a comment below. Giveaway contest ends Sunday midnight (EST - US time)

I'll be back tomorrow (surprise Saturday treat!) with some really cool stuff.

xoxo, MJ


Paperclip Shamrocks

I'm more than a little bit Irish, and I'm ready to celebrate with lots of green and good cheer when St. Patrick's Day hits us in a few days. The kids and I decided that we needed to add a few lucky touches to our home in honor of the special day.

And guess what inspired me? Excess. What do we have a ton of? Yes, you guessed it paper clips! Let's use these to make our wire sculptures. Grab your pile of paper clips, a green permanent marker (Sharpies are awesome for this), and some lightweight wire.

Spread the inner loop of the paperclip out to one side. Your clip will now resemble a spread V or a checkmark.

Spread the two ends until they meet each other in a petal-like formation. Continue this process with the two other clips.

Grab light wire and wind it back and forth at the connecting point in the center of your shamrock. Use the excess wire to function as your shamrock stem.

Color the clip with your marker, painting both sides and the wire as much as possible.

Wind the stem wire around a pencil for a St. Patrick's Day topper. Tie the shamrock around a green ribbon and put it atop a special package. Stick in your lapel for a festive touch to your outfit! We planted ours with the lucky jade plant to wish our guests the luck of the Irish!

Happy St. Patty's, friends!

xoxo, MJ

Pinners to follow: Learning activities & crafts

Oh, Pinterest, how I love thee. I use my account as the cutest filing cabinet ever to store my ideas for all areas of life. But sometimes the seas of Pinterland are too much, and I need a compass to find my way to just the right place. I'm launching a fun new mini-series to help us find the best of the best in areas that interest.

First up on the list: Pinners to follow for learning activities and crafts

Late February, amidst the sub-zero temps and gray sludge, is my favorite time to plan out summer learning for my three kiddos. I think I need the mental transport to warm and sunny moments. We also have our own Mommy and Daddy school in the summers, but not only that, I also love to throw in learning whenever I can.

Pinterest is a fabulous resource for teachers and parents to connect joy to education. But where to begin? Check out these three pinners and some of my favorite boards.

Melissa of ImaginationSoup.net

Melissa is a Pinterest expert. In addition to her keen knowledge of the platform, she is a dedicated teacher, writer/blogger, and an involved mom. Her boards have specific information on learning apps, literacy activities, and fabulous gifts for kids.

My favorite pins are her book list picks for very specific audiences, including Halloween books, great series, baseball reads, comic and graphic novels, and "Can't put them down" guides.

Emily of Second Story Window

Emily fancies the celebrations and joy of life with children, and she's a gal after my own heart. She's also a teacher and momma who creates educational materials over on her site.

My favorite pins are her 21 "little" boards. If you are looking to engage with your toddler to preschooler, there is a virtual plethora of goodies to be found in these well-categorized boards. She is also a collaborative soul so check her mega boards like the Kid Blogger Network Activities and Crafts and the New Teachers boards in particular.

Allison of No Time for Flash Cards

Allison is dedicated to the enjoyment of learning (bring it!). She focuses on early learning and play, and every time I visit her site, I'm inspired to get down on the floor and create something with my kids.

My favorite boards are her subject specific ones covering science, math, and children's book related crafts. Also check out her board just for boys that has so much good messiness and learning to offer.

 

Do you have favorite pinners to suggest? I'm always looking for the best finds.

And if we're not pinning buds yet, find me over there at MJ | Pars Caeli.

xoxo, MJ

 

 

 

Valentines in the Classroom
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Hey lovelies! Valentine's Day is but a week away, and we are stamping, sticking, and stuffing some gorgeous classroom valentines from Minted at our house. Check back next week for a super cute bag we'll be making to tote all the love notes!

Have I mentioned that I'm a classroom mom? I have resisted and avoided for five years until this year, my oldest daughter's teacher asked me (!) to be the stewardship parent. And I said, only if my husband and I can do it together. So we are. We are the parents for the class which means we get to organize their service projects (which is really why I jumped in) and plan their parties (which is really why I ran away at any notion of assisting in the past).

The third graders will have a simple yet fun-filled celebration of friendship and love, rotating from center to center. I've been scouring the interwebs and pinboards to find crafts that are hip enough for this tween age and easy enough to accomplish in 15 minutes.

Here are my top five picks for a Rad Classroom Valentines:

1. Paper heart chain: Easy supplies, great results. Make one for your doorway even if you don't have kids!

2. Orgami hug: Two hand prints and an accordion fold and kids can declare their love.

3. Arrows through my heart: Free printable for these beauties. And don't forget about the red velvet.

4. Chocolate covered strawberries: Slice, coat, drizzle. Repeat. And save some for the class.

5. Awesome sauce!: Love this simple addition to store bought sauce.

Any fabulous ideas you want to share?

xoxo, MJ

Craft Date: Paper snowflakes
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Winter craft date? It's the perfect time of year to gather inside, in the warmth, with a coffee or cocoa and a good friend and make something awesome. My friend, Renee, and I were determined to add to our repetoire of seasonal crafts after the burlap placemat success.

We decided to go simple, or so we thought, and make the paper snowflakes.

As a little girl, I remember attempting paper snowflakes, trimming off the wrong edges instead of the right ones, and ending up with a heap of trimmed pieces of flakes. Determined not to repeat this, Renee and I made six-point snowflakes following this process:

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We had a variety of papers, and I ended up using a looseleaf pack that I've had for a very long time because of the thin, durable weight to the paper. And, the white tone was just a bit softer than our other choices.

So grab a stack of paper, sharp scissors, good lighting, and a pal.

Lots of great patterns around the interwebs will surprise and delight you, like the ones we used as inspiration: Wee Birdy, these great ideas, and you can even find paper snowflake patterns based on the new movie, Frozen (pinned for my girls).

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Folding the six-point pattern takes a little practice to get all the segments equal, but it it amazing the variety of snowflake you can create.

Originally Renee and I were thinking that we'd put these together in a chandelier-type arrangement. Can you imagine cascades of intricate snowflakes floating down?

Renee opted to display her snowflakes against her gorgeous red walls in the dining room. Fabulous contrasts!

Honestly, mine sat in a pile for a while, waiting for me to have time and inspiration to make something. And then I started making more and more of them of various sizes.

We have two trees in our house - our freshly cut and our (now duct-taped) artificial. The fresh tree has balls and ribbon and my favorite loose tinsel.

It needed a little something extra.

*Lightbulb.

Spread throughout the limbs now are dozens of paper snowflakes.

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If you want a simple craft that will make you feel way more talented than you might be feeling on any particular day, cut some snowflakes.

They can be used in wrapping, garlands, chandeliers, and in my opinion as awesome ornaments.

Big hugs and thanks for Renee for the motivation to make these! Can't wait to see what we'll work up for spring.

Also, Kim of Design Life Kids and I will be showing off our long-distance Craft Date soon!

If you wanna make something and need a buddy, let me know. It's always more fun to do create with a pal.

Happy weekend, lovelies! I'll be writing my arm off and sending Christmas cards! Best to you and yours. 

xoxo, MJ

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Fresh Holiday Traditions: Party Hat Christmas Trees
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"Perhaps I had a wicked childhood, perhaps I had a miserable youth, but somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good."

Whether those words are sung from Carrie Underwood or from Julie Andrews, they resonate with me here today, friends. We're coming to the near close - one more week - of another great series of projects and posts from my ladies who collaborate on the Fresh Holiday Traditions series. I feel blessed to have been asked to work alongside these minds and spirits, and I feel pretty lucky that they were willing to do it one more time!!

To recap our creations thus far:

And today, we're adding Party Hat Christmas Trees - fun for the kids table at holiday meals (or the adult table), or to set around the office or house in seasonal decor.

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Inspired by the clever craftings of Kelly from Studio DIY, we over here at Pars Caeli decided to convert our old party hats into Christmas trees! These cute cones make a great head toppers as well as darling Christmas decor.

Imagine setting up the kids table with party hats, some felt (precut depending on the ages), some pipe cleaners, sequins, pom poms, and see what kind of hats they can create before Christmas Eve dinner!

Here are the suspects, no-longer-used princess party hats:

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Grab some felt (about two rectangles per tree), some craft glue or hot glue, chalk, and other crafty notions.

First, unfold one of your party hats to trace the size for your C-shaped ring of felt. I used chalk to trace my outline. It makes a nifty double as snow!

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We selected a variety of colors for a traditional and more modern tree. I'm kind of a felt softie. I can always find a reason to get a few sheets every time I swing by the craft store.

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Ring by ring, beginning on the bottom, glue the felt onto the hat! Varying colors adds some texture and life to your creation.

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You can imagine these as all white with silver and/or gold accents, too! Hello holiday photo booth!

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Little elves find them quite funny.

Imagine whole forests!! Or entire family photos with everyone in tree-d hats!!

Enjoy these and don't forget to share if you make 'em! Thanks gals for the fun. :)

xoxo, MJ

After Halloween: Hammer the Pumpkin

Happy Halloween, my friends!! It is raining and cold here which means it must be the day I send my children out in a thinner layer than ever to run through puddles and eat sugar! Whatever the weather may be by trick or treating, we are going to live it up.

Did you go carve or no carve on the pumpkins this year? Our crew wanted carved and painted. The beauty of painting is that it can be done weeks in advance and enjoyed for a long time. Our carving happened just a few days ago, but the impact is awesome of seeing the glow through my little's designs.

As the costumes get put away and the candy remains, what will you do with all of these pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns? Likely pitch them quickly... but here's something fun for your toddlers, preschoolers, and small ones.

Play Hammer the Pumpkin, borrowed right from the lessons of great preschool teachers Grab a few golf tees, a play hammer, and a pumpkin!

We used one of the smaller decorative pumpkins that was never carved or painted, but ripened pumpkins, gourds and even cut jack-o-lanterns work really well (especially for the smallest of hands).

For the first few holes, I got my preschooler, L, ready by starting the tees. And then he got really into it and for at least 30 minutes hammered away happily.

Beware, big sisters often want to get in on the fun, too.

I loved the final look of our hole-y pumpkin. I've tucked this process in my mental file as an easy way to make a polka dot pumpkin for next year, but until then, I decided to add some pizzazz to the final drilled pumpkin. The end effect reminded me of a PUNK in...something like metal washers scattered all around.

So save those pumpkins for just a bit so that your little ones can enjoy some hammering fun!

Happy Halloween, friends, and happy fall!

xoxo, MJ

Fresh Holiday Traditions: Gratitude Journals

Happy Halloween eve, my lovelies. Our team is excited to head out into the possible Indiana freezing rain dressed as a witch, a minion (from Despicable Me), and Mr. Potato Head. The hubs and I, in the fun frenzy that can be shopping for Halloween costumes, purchased coordinating wigs. They are big and strange and hopefully we'll come up with a way to utilize them well - in the next 24 hours.

Truthfully my head is already in Thanksgiving mode, and I'm ready to fill my home with warmth, family, deliciousness, and a heightened sense of gratitude. I am a total sap, married to a sap, trying to raise three little saps so I embrace all the emotion and tenderness that come along with the holiday as well.

Perhaps that's why I'm so excited by this first project that Melissa made with her family:

Head over to Lulu the Baker to find out how to spend a quick five minutes to make something special and memorable - a gratitude journal!

I'll be sharing projects here at Pars Caeli. If you make one of these beauties, tag it with #freshholidays and let us know how it went!! Looking forward to crafting these with the kids this weekend!!

Grateful for all of you!

xoxo, MJ

A new series: Fresh Holiday Traditions

Hands down, fall is my favorite time of year. I adore the color changes, smells of leaves and pine, and preparing our home for the goodness of Thanksgiving. As we all well know, Christmas sneaks up on us so fast after turkey day that we sometimes have little time to prepare. This year, it's going to be different (I say that every year but this year it's true), and I'm bringing in some creative mamas to make it so.

Today I'm delighted to announce a new series in collaboration with some of my favorite ladies. We're teaming together (again) to bring you Fresh Holiday Traditions! Beginning tomorrow and launching every Wednesday through Christmas, we'll be sharing traditions from our homes, projects for celebrating the holidays, and always ways to get your kids involved in all the fun!

This team worked together on the Endless Summer Projects series, and these busy bloggers have been up to some good, good things since we were last together. Check out who I have the privilege to create alongside:

 

 

 

Melissa from Lulu the Baker is a class act with a kitchen full of amazing recipes, charming crafts, and undeniably great photography. She's also a Style Spotter for Better Homes and Gardens. You can follow her journey to build her dream house! You'll find her here every Wednesday talking holidays with us. Melissa is kicking off the series tomorrow with something extra special for Thanksgiving.

 

 

 

 

 Alexandra Hedin is joining the crew to bring fun to every party! You'll find her not only at her blog this holiday season but also over on Martha's, BHG, Sweet Paul, and Good Housekeeping. And now you can catch Alexandra here every Wednesday to help you turn your holidays into something extraordinary.

 

 

 

Jen over at Classic Play is the epitome of cool mom plus! She has her own series on PBS called Adventures in Learning that showcases unique ways to teach and hang out with your kids. Her images and illustrations will delight you over these next weeks and help you, too, add a little extra cool to the holidays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, for me, I'm whipping up a few of my favorite ideas for the holidays. I promise you, you'll find something new and intriguing to bring to your family celebrations.

Let's help each other and make this an extra special and extra low stress fresh holiday!

Until tomorrow. xoxo, MJ

PS. If you have some fresh holiday traditions or inspirations you want to share, tag them with #freshholidays and I'll post them up for all of us! Many, many thanks!

Endless Summer Projects: Shoebox Frames
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I cannot believe it. Here we are at my last Endless Summer Projects! We've been planning these and posting them for so many weeks now, that I can't believe we're at the finish line already. And that feeling of quick endings is all around us as we squeeze the literal juice out of the remaining two weeks of summer.

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In our house, August brings the start of school preempted by one of our favorite (made up) holidays, Siblings Day! To foster great relationships and celebrate the special people we have right around us, our family indulges in a special dinner, a lasting craft, silly games, some storytelling of great memories, and silly pictures together.

My children are 8,6, and 3, and although rather close in age, their ability levels and interests can seem light years apart at times. Lots of "he's not old enough" and "she's too big" get thrown around in conversation. I wanted a way for everyone to see each other on a level playing field... So we spent some time going through baby pictures as a family. Each sibling heard stories of the other sister or brother and their habits as babies, the toys they loved, the ridiculous noises and first words they said.

And each one selected a baby photo of their brother and/or sister to hang in their rooms. Sometimes it's good to remember that your bossy older sister was once an adorable baby, too. And that annoying little brother, well, he was super huggable with those pudgy cheeks.

Once we had our photos selected and printed, we were ready to get to work.

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Wanna make some, too? Super simple supplies for this one: sturdy shoeboxes, quality paint, brushes, photographs, scissors, and washi tape

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My daughters picked the box lids, and my son wanted the box bottom, (and either side can turn out quite nicely)! Have children paint the boxes, likey 2-3 coats, depending on the coverage.

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Once the box lid is completely covered in paint, assist your children in trimming the baby photos to all the same size. For the size boxes we had, I trimmed the photos to 3" x 3".

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Line up photographs on the long flat surface of the box or box lid, and carefully adhere to the box with washi tape. I also glued the photos onto the boxes to insure that the washi tape would have some assistance in keeping the pictures in place.

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Finished boxes make cute photo bricks on dresser and shelves.

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Add fun washi tape patterns to add some visual interest to your frame.

And don't forget to find a spot on the wall to show off your new creation.

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Endless Summer Projects: A House Fit for a Bug

Hello lovelies!

Shouting out to you from the road today. I'm on a crack-of-dawn flight out of Chicago this morning, and I'm on my way to meet some great friends and enjoy a delicious dinner in New York City.

I'm not leaving you lonely though!! I have a fabulous project to share from the incredible Jen of Classic Play. I have had a handful of mommas ask me how we're filling our days this summer. Well, guess what? We are making bug houses! That's a great response, right?

We're growing caterpillars/butterflies right now, and my children have been mesmerized by the growth cycle. I can get all three of them calm and excited (interesting combo) just by sitting down next to the butterfly netting to observe for 3 minutes. It's a great transition method. My son calls these four creatures our new pets. And what would a new pet want more than.... a beautiful house.

So head on over to Jen's blog and check out all the details. We'll be back next Wednesday with another fun project from Melissa over at Lulu the Baker. Stay tuned.

And speaking of Lulu, I'm in her kitchen today! Well, you know, on her feature In My Kitchen - though I would love to head over to Melissa's home because I know I'd grab a handful of these, and she'd support me all the way. Can you guess how I answered this question... In my kitchen, I cook up...

Hint: it's not edible.

Don't forget to follow the madness that is my first trip to NYC and AltNYC on Instagram and Twitter at #ParsCaeliatAltNYC

xoxo, MJ

 

Let Endless Summer begin!

Welcome to it, my friends!! A new series launching today and coming to you every Wednesday this summer. I've teamed up with some of my favorite mommas in the blogosphere to bring you fun and to keep your kiddos engaged in fabulous projects.

Let me introduce you to the gorgeous gals collaborating with me on Endless Summer:

This is going to be an amazing summer thanks to these ladies. We are showing you parties and recipes, backyard fun and art projects, and a few charmed surprises that will make you wish on an evening star for a few more days of childhood. So tell your friends and pull on some play clothes!

Melissa is starting us off with a great mosaic project. My kids are going to love this one!! How about yours?

xoxo, MJ

PS. Come on back tomorrow for a thoughtful way to capture this year's school memories for your children. I promise, it's a really good one.

 

Itty Bitty Lovelies for Valentine's Day

Here's some new Friday fun for you, my lovely friends. Itty Bitty Lovelies will include some big and small ideas and links that I've found that won't require you to invest your entire weekend (or take a short vacation) to accomplish. These snippets are scrumptious morsels that you can work into your everyday and make it just a little bit more magical. I'm even throwing in a very practical tip or two that I've discovered during the week. Most of these will not be asteroids of unbelievability, but they may just make your life a little bit easier... and that would make me more than itty bitty happy.

1. Cinnamon Rolls in a Lovely Shape


Do you make the delectable cinnamon roll in your house? These look so good. You can move away from the traditional spiral to an endearing heart shape. Super easy with big impact! Check out the recipe over at Cake & Allie.

 

2. Monkey Love

 

This monkey craft is great for a class Valentine or a little homemade love for your near and dear. I'd love to see it in red and pink for an extra obvious Valentine feel. You can do this with the kiddos if you have a half hour to spare. The crafters over at Fiskars have all the info you need.

 

3. Everlasting Fortunes

 

Felt fortune cookies? Yes, I see them in your future. This one will be a trip to the craft store, but the finished effect is awesome...and would be perfect for that very special announcement or enduring declaration of love. The brilliant contributors over at Honest to Nod have the deets.

 

My itty bitty discovery this week?

I am a much happier human being if I can get school lunches and snacks packed before dinner. What's the big deal? I'm not sure, but it's definitely a daily pick-me-up to know that my evenings are clear for work, blogging, and chilling with the hubs rather than food prep. What's your thought?

It's big, bad, beautiful to be back with you all. Thanks for visiting. Come on back next week; we'll have a good time.

XOXO, MJ

 

Make It Monday: Not Making It

Happy Monday, friends! Did you know that Halloween is this week? If you live in our house, you could not NOT know because my younger daughter, C, has been announcing the countdown every morning. Yeah, she's excited to don her Belle costume with tiara and all.

Today's Make It Monday is a little different. First, I'd like to high five, hug, and congratulate all the mommas out there (and grandmas, aunts, and friends) who have worked and designed some beautiful costumes for their littles. Louise has made some gorgeous looks for her girls, and I know Sandra will be revealing her unicorn costume for the girl this week, too.

I'm the daughter of a momma who sewed my costumes all the way through middle school, and I was that child that always put forth a challenging idea. She put together Miss Piggy, Rudolph, a bunny rabbit, a mouse, a Hershey's kiss.. and many more. Part of the fun was thinking up something I didn't think I could find, and having it fit right to me by my very own mother. She's a talented lady.

When I became the momma, I took it as a personal challenge and a near-necessity that I sew my children's Halloween costumes. To many this is very normal, fairly easy, and happens like clockwork every fall.

For me, this was a process, over two months of work, and nothing close to easy. You see the first costumes I made for my girls. M was a dalmation pup her first trick or treat season, and C was the pumkin bunting I'd always wanted to sew.

For the first four years of motherhood, I sewed costumes. In fact, much of any free time in the Augusts, Septembers, and Octobers was found with me sitting on the couch, hand sewing each piece. My mom, in an effort to simplify my life, bought me a Singer sewing machine, but I always returned to the handstitch because I loved the feel of needle-and-thread creations.

When my oldest daughter turned five, she quickly turned into a young version of me, ready to challenge her momma with some creative costuming ideas. Eeps. So we hit Joanne's in August.

By September, she had changed her mind and wanted something different. Two weeks after that she changed again.

October came, and she had still not decided for sure what she wanted to be. I was stressed, I was making her stressed (why does Mommy keep asking me about Halloween?), and I was dreading Halloween.

I read this post from Meg last week, and it got me thinking. Go check out point 2.

And I'd like to send all of you very talented mothers out there who are NOT making costumes this year (or any year) a big smooch.

I gave it up. Or at least for now. Why, say you? Because frankly, my daughters wanted to be princesses with all the Disney, glitter, and plastic high heels that I could find for them. My son wanted to be Elmo with the big googly eyes and red furry paws. M wanted to change her mind four times and then change it again once she saw the Halloween costume catalog that arrived at our house.

And, more than I wanted to be the mother I had preconceived notions of being, I want my little goblins to be happy.

I want Halloween to be a fun day, filled with candy and neighborhood greetings. I'm done with the stressed fall season and trying to box in my children's creativity and indecisive natures.

And - honest here - Halloween is not an important holiday in our family, at least when you compare it to the real and made-up ones we treasure (eg: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Sisters Day, Yes Day, Easter). And I was spending months dedicated to something that would come and go for a day or less.

This year I'll be walking the 'hood with a goddess, Belle, and Elmo. They are so excited to break into costume.

And I'm delighted not to have trick or treat bags under my eyes any more.

XOXO, MJ

PS. Where do you fall? To buy or to sew? Or somewhere in the middles?

Turn It : Embracing the Chill

Welcome back to the Turn It series!! Joy from Frock Files and I are sharing stories/ideas/fresh perspectives that we hope will make you recognize opportunity in the problems that come your way and prompt you to use your creative juices for the power of good. Here's more from the incredible Joy:

Last week when we drove up to Vermont, we were surprised to see that many of the trees had already lost their leaves. Even though the color maps showed that the area had just peaked, they were gone -- basically overnight. Because I love fall so much, I become a live in the moment person during this short period, and I’m baffled by people who proclaim that they can’t enjoy autumn because it just means that winter is coming. But when I saw those trees, I knew that it was time to begin bracing myself for the reality that’s on its way.

Since I’m from Hawaii, I generally spend the winter wondering why I moved to the Northeast, where at least five months of the year are just plain hard. It’s a silly question, though–I know exactly why. It’s because there’s nothing like the excitement of the first yellow-green leaves on the trees in the springtime, or driving down the freeway in October to a blur of trees so brightly colored they could be ablaze. And hey, that picture
up there is of the forest I drive through every day–it’s pretty easy on the eyes even when it’s covered in snow.



This series is all about turning those tedious or dreadful or ominous things into ones in which we can delight, and I’ve decided that perhaps what I need is a change of perspective as I prepare for winter. Creating a list of activities I really want to do this winter actually has me looking forward to the snowy days ahead.

  • Read, Read, Read. It’s recently occurred to me that I miss reading books. Reading long form works satisfies me in a way that short snippets of information just can’t. I’m working on creating a reading list for myself. If you want to make one too, the New York Times Sunday Book Review is a fantastic place to start. And I do hope you’ll share your picks with us!
  • Decorate. I moved back to Boston in June. It took us three months to turn the second bedroom from storage unit to empty space, and another month and a half to finish painting the four walls. When the weather’s great, the last thing we want to do is be inside. Wintertime provides great motivation to make our home as cozy and gorgeous as possible. On our agenda: installing our own crown molding, painting the bathroom with stripes, and furnishing the office/guest bedroom. Decorating also involves lots of movement, which I can’t get enough of in the cold months.
  • Craft. Louise of Laid Off Mom started a craft date a few months back, and she invited both MJ and I to join in on the fun. The project unleashed a whole crafty side of me that I didn’t know existed! I’m excited to spend more time creating things. Need inspiration for your own craft projects? I’ve been collecting lots of craft ideas over on my Pinterest board dedicated to the topic.
  • Make Warm, Delicious Things. I’m such a sucker for stews, soups, and hot drinks. In Portland, I was introduced to something called hot buttered rum. Have you ever heard of anything with a more delicious name? Anyway, it’s unreasonable to have these things when it’s hot. But when it’s cold, I feel like it’s for survival.
  • Learn a Foreign Language. A few years ago, we went to Montreal and sheepishly had to ask people to speak to us in English. With a trip to Paris in our midst, I’m putting my foot down and we’re going to learn some French this winter beyond “Où est la bibliothèque?”
  • Do a Movie Exchange. I have a handful of favorite films James hasn’t seen. He has a handful that I haven’t seen. We plan on methodically trading off nights: one night, we’ll watch Marie Antoinette (mine); the next time, we’ll watch Brick (his).

What are you looking forward to doing when things get cold outside?

Ooh, now I'm dreaming of hot cocoa and winter baking afternoons. Thank you Joy for these great ideas (I so want to do a movie exchange!!). What are planning to do to make the most of the upcoming winter?

XOXO, MJ

Make It Monday: DIY Date

Happy Monday, friends! Can you believe we have just one more Monday left in September? I have something really fun to share with you all for Make it Monday!!

This is cordially for you (fellow bloggers, artsy crafty friends, skilled readers who want to give it a go):

What will you do with letters or numbers or ornaments? Keep in mind, this DIY can be electronic or printed/created as an object (have those cardboard letters at Michael's been calling your name, too?) or a framed print.

We've had some great supplies to work with these past few months! September was all about sharing the love. Check out the craft kits we created for the children of St. Jude's Research Hospital. In August we came up with some stylin' projects out of beads, and Louise, to celebrate her birthday, challenged us to give our projects to someone. Our first DIY date included washi tape and an experiment for me (that ended well).

Need some inspiration for this typography DIY? Check out these Pinterest boards:

I really hope you'll consider crafting something with us. It's all about having fun along the way. Reluctant new friends, we want you, too!!

XOXO, MJ