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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Birch Covered Picture Frame

     Over the Memorial Day weekend we spent a day up in Ludington State Park. Its a gorgeous park  with lots of trails, lakes, a river, fishing spots, a dam & waterfall, and many other beautiful features. Its definitely a favorite place for our family to go! While we were there I spotted a few birch trees that had been chopped down with its beautiful bark peeling off and lying on the ground around it. {I know you are supposed to pick flowers in a state park but how about random bits of bark just lying around?} Somehow { ;) } they managed to make their way into my beach bag! I love them for their colors and for their texture. I knew I had to find a way to incorporate these beauties into my homey home!

Check out the gorgeousness!

     It didn't take long for me to decide what to do with them! Check out the result:

      If you want to make one yourself, here's what you'll need:

{Not pictured yet are the 47,000 clamps I used to hold the bark in place while it all dried!}

The first step in doing this project is to get your bark flat. I soaked my bark in the sink for a couple of hours until it was really pliable. Then I laid the pieces out on the counter and held the flat with heaving drinking glasses overnight so they could dry.

     Once everything was dry I cut my bark to line up with the mitered edges of the picture frame. I initially used this carpet knife but found that regular scissors worked more easily and gave me more precision with my cutting.

     Glue each piece as they are cut and hold them in place with clamps, chip clips, binder clips or whatever else you might have on hand!  ;)   I needed far more of these clamps than I initially thought!

     Each of the bark pieces were adhered using generous amounts of wood glue. Once I had the major players on board I went back and used a few scraps to fill in some of the holes or gaps I ended up with. Even though it isn't perfect I love the end result!

     The little cutie in the picture is my nephew, Elijah Praise, who died over 7 years ago from a rare genetic disorder. Because of the sacrifice of his older sister who died of the same thing at birth, the doctors were able to learn more that allowed my brother and his wife to share 6 precious months with him. God has been faithful and has brought them through some immensely dark waters!

     Keep your eyes open this summer as you are out and about. You never know what bits of  nature you can use to bring more texture and homeyness into your house!


I'm sharing this here:

At the Pickett Fence 
The Shabby Creek Cottage
  Tatertots and jello
Between Naps on the Porch

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

65 Free Things for kids to do This Summer Around the House

     Last week I shared with you here why I think its so important to have a daily schedule for your kids during the summer. Part of having a schedule is so that you are intentional about the fun. Too many times I've said, "lets do_________ this summer", only to have it pass on by with nothing coming to fruition. I have great {fabulous, amazing} intentions! In my head I'm an amazing mom who does lots of fun things. {Reality is far from that!}

     I kind of stink when it comes to thinking on the fly when asked that ever popular question, "mom, I'm bored! What can I do?"  Well, not this summer! My stinkin days are a thing of the past!

     Over the past few weeks I have been putting together a list of free things the kids can do for fun around the house. My goal is not to entertain them but to help them entertain themselves, and to give the nanny some ideas too on the days that I'm at work. My kids helped me with this list, and I read through a number of other lists compiled online. This list is somewhat unique in that you don't need money and you can stay at home!

     In no particular order, here they are:

1.  Race bikes {with other neighbor kids or siblings}
2.  Chalk! Play hopscotch, make bike paths, trace each other etc.
3.  Run in the sprinkler/kiddie pool: Bring out play dishes to wash, trucks for a car wash etc.
4.  Play hide and seek inside or out
5.  Squirt gun or water balloon fight
6.  Make chalk paint
7.  Make your own treasure hunt, create a map for the kids or let them do it for their friends
8.  Build a fort {inside or out}: use branches, blankets, picnic furniture, swing set etc.
9.  Go for a walk: give kids a goal of a certain number of birds to spot, flowers to identify, or colors of cars
10. Make paper airplanes
11. Catch bugs, identify them, race them, learn about them online
12. Pillow fight!
13. Read a book: join a book club, set a goal for your kids for the summer with a fun reward at the end
14. Slip and slide!
15. Outdoor sports games: get the neighbor kids to join in
16. Hula hoop: make a competition out of it
17. Make your own movie or video
18. Put on a play
19. Sword fight with swimming noodles
20. Skateboard races: We live on a quiet cul-de-sac so my younger kids will put their helmets on, sit on their skateboards and "race" each other down the driveway. This may not be the best idea depending on where you live.
21. Bird watching: keep a journal and document each species that comes into your yard
22. Swing!
23. Paint rocks
24. Climb a tree
25. Take a nature walk
26. Movie day! Do this on a rainy day. Pop popcorn, make special treats and watch a movie marathon
27. Ghost in the graveyard: this is a tag game that my older kids love to play just as the sun is going down
28. Science experiments: there are tons of websites that have great ideas for easy experiments
29. Keep a summer journal. Each day have your kids write or draw a picture of what they did.
30. Random acts of kindness: encourage them to do something nice for a neighbor
31. Play freeze tag
32. Bake something {better yet, teach basic baking skills to your kids}
33. Bubbles {check out this recipe for bouncing bubbles here}
34. Play with army men in the sandbox
35. Make an obstacle course in the yard
36. Race hot wheels down the driveway
37. Legos {challenge them to come up with specific things}
38. Set up their train set
39. Craft project
40. Playdo or moon sand {make pretend cookies or a full meal}
41. Color {coloring books, self portraits, make encouragement cards for others}
42. Play school
43. Picnic {either in the yard or in the living room on a rainy day}
44. Paint {on paper, or on themselves with non-toxic paint outside with a hose ready!}
45. Make jewelry {use macaroni, cereal, or colored floss}
46. Marshmallow building {use mini-marshmallows and toothpicks~my boys love this!}
47. Sand sculptures in the sandbox. Challenge older ones to builds specific things.
48. Make mazes {use chalk, leaves, sticks, toys, yarn, or even with pencil and paper}
49. Card games and boards games {don't forget about these on those rainy days}
50. Lemon aide stand
51. Thumb wrestle
52. Sew something, or teach your kids basic sewing skills
53. Start a garden
54. Jump rope {teach your kids those jump roping songs you learned when you were little} Try double dutch!
55. Chinese jump rope (these can be easily made out of rubber bands)
56. Tea party {inside or out}
57. Wash the car or bikes {give them a bucket of soapy water and let them have at it!}
58. Watch the clouds {lay out on a blanket for a little down time and look for shapes in the clouds}
59. Neighborhood Olympics: with the Olympics coming up this summer get the kids involved. All it will take is having them watch a few events and they will want to create their own!
60. Talent show
61. Shaving cream fight {probably best for older kids, keep it neck down, and away from vehicle finishes}
62. Make your own marching band
63. Play "I Spy" on a walk around the neighborhood
64. Flashlight tag after dark
65. Hide small items in the sandbox for a treasure hunt

I hope this list is helpful to you! I plan to put these ideas onto slips of paper and put them in a jar. You can always make your own list to post on the fridge too. 

Have fun this summer! I know we will!!! ;)

I'm sharing these ideas here:

DIY by Design 
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia 
The Shabby Creek Cottage 
House of Hepworths

Sunday, May 27, 2012

How to make burp cloths

     Last week I had a baby shower to go to. Do you have a go to gift for showers? You know, something you always buy/make for a gift? For me, its burp cloths. {I'm letting you in on a little secret now. Back before the days of Etsy I had a little burp cloth making business called 'Burping Boutique'. I made cute burp cloths and sold them at craft shows and by word of mouth.} I've had four babies so I know what I like when it comes to a good burp cloth. I've tried many things but my favorite starting point is the Gerber cloth diapers that are nice and thick.

     I found these are Target but many other retailers have them as well. I recommend that you wash them first because they will shrink up. Here's what we're making:

     For this shower I had to stick with gender neutral colors {although I couldn't help myself and snuck in one pink one!}

     There are many cute ways to sew your trim on. You can do straight strips of ribbon, add some pretty ruffled trim, or make these little loops like above. This is all straight sewing so if you aren't a seamstress {and I certainly am not} this will be really easy. My sewing machine is one of the cheapies {less than $100.} and its great for simple projects like this.

     To make the loops like the cloth above, start by cutting little strips of trim , just long enough to loop around and pin to the top of your cloth.

     Once these are all pinned, sew them on starting at one end and pull out your pins as you go. Then measure your top piece and pin it in place. This will cover up all your ends from your loops.

For the cloths that have the ruffles, I sew them both on at the same time, but you might find it easier {though a bit more time intensive} to sew them separately.

     They look really cute tied up together with ribbon or tulle {tulle's the cutest but I was all out!}

I'm all done having babies so I must content myself by making them for others! I hope you like them!

I'm sharing this project here:
I should be mopping the floor
Its Overflowing 
Between Naps on the Porch

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Birthday Weekend

     May is a super busy birthday month for our family, and I love it! This past week our Brady turned 8 and Hudson turned 4 {oh how fast my baby has grown!~make him stop!}. Not only did we have two boy birthdays, our niece turned 1! This was quite a celebration as she is the only girl among 4 boys {and a 5th boy on the way}. My brother set up the backyard as a shooting range for all the boys. They took old tin cans, put stickers on them and set them up on ladders to be shot with nerf guns. They loved it!

     For the girls they had a bubble station, and makeovers. Even little Ellie got in on the glitter fun! Later they got out the kiddie pools and I've never seen kids {even my 10 year old} have so much fun!

  The third weekend in May always brings the kite festival out in Grand Haven {MI}. We usually try to go since this is usually Brady's birthday and the kids really enjoy it. This year we took some neighbor friends with us.

     In addition to parties we had a sleep over. The boys were really good and the weather was perfect for smores over the fire! We even let the girls come and have some fun too!

This is my youngest who turned 4 this week! {sniff, sniff} I love the last "I ate too much" pic!

I even got in on the fun! ;)

And what would a smore party be without a bit of stickyness to clean up!

     Today is my mother-in-law's birthday so we will gear up for another party this weekend! I love this time of year! {It will be even better when school gets out!}

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Scheduling Summer?

            I know its not quite summer yet, but I'm in full preparation mode! I work two days out of the home and this summer we are having a nanny at our home watch the kids so they don't have to go to daycare. They are really excited about this since it means being able to play with their neighbor friends. As I'm putting together a bunch of resources for her to help things go more smoothly I though I would share some of them with you. My favorite being our schedule.  Whether I'm home or not, my kids need structure! I need structure. It keeps me sane! ;)

Here's why having a schedule for the summer is such a great idea:
  • They aren't constantly asking, "what are we going to do next". I didn't realize how much having even a loose schedule could cut down on the frequent nagging about  our daily routine. 
  • A schedule gives them some security. They know what the routine is and this cuts down on the cuing that I have to do throughout the day. They know what to expect. 
  • The schedule becomes the "bad guy", meaning, we can blame the schedule for having to do chores, not mom! ;) 
  • The schedule gives us freedom! 

     The great thing about the schedule is if you involve the kids in the process they become invested in the outplay of it. My kids know that during some of the play time scheduled we might need to run errands or will throw in a trip to the park.

     I'm tellin ya, this thing is so great that we use it as a basic guide for our day on spring break and Christmas vacation. Things go much more smoothly when we follow this. It takes one day of, "I think we can just wing it", before I realize the error of my ways~the kids get squirrelly, we have more discipline issues and there are more complaints about doing chores. Trust me, the schedule is your friend! 

     Here's a copy of our schedule for the nanny {on the days I'm off we will add a few trips in here or there}:

     This is just a basic schedule. You could get far more in depth but its not necessary. A basic outline like this works wonders for your kids {and for mom!} On a near future post I will share with you what summer chores look like.

     Coming up I will also have some ideas that I've compiled {with the help of my kids} of fun things to do around the house this summer that don't cost money. Having these ideas as a resource is great for when they inevitably say, "mom I'm bored!". I had to put this together for myself because for some reason all I can think to suggest when they say they're bored is to assign chores. I suppose I'd have one tidy house if I stuck to this but I want summer to be fun for them. You're only a kid once!

          {For Nana, note the beautiful new front tooth just constructed by the dentist this afternoon!}

     I would also suggest sitting down with your kids and putting together a list of things you want to accomplish or places you want to go this summer. Our list includes things like regular trips to the library, going to a new zoo in the area, trips to Nana's, and a local fair. Having a plan, even for fun, will make the fun, fun! {That crazy sentence makes sense in my head, hopefully it does in yours too!}

     Enjoy your summer, I know we will!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Front Porch Color

     Today I finally got out and filled in my pots. Remember the ones I monogrammed a week or so ago? They were cute in and of themselves but definitely in need of some color. I'm not sure that we are past the threat of frost yet but these pots are on a covered porch so I think they will be OK.

     I'm a big fan of geraniums, not because of their smell but because they are hardy. So, if I forget to water them........{I'm sure that will never happen!}, they come back pretty good with some better attention. They also flower all summer which is nice too.

     Adding a few trailing vines helps to soften the edges of your planters and adds more color and texture. Here I used a two tone vining leaf and another brighter green trailer. {Sorry, I don't know my flowers, I just know what looks good together!}   To add more interest don't be afraid to mix in a few other varieties of flowers in different colors. Its hard to tell by the pictures but I added a few pink and purple petunias as well.

      Once the threat of frost is over I will tackle the window box. For now its nice to have a bit of color out front!

                                            I'm sharing this here:

 It's Overflowing
Tater tots and jello
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