Sunday, January 18, 2015

Welcoming King Winter and Jack Frost - nature table

This week, we read a story about King Winter and Jack Frost. This captured D,7's imagination and he wanted to change out our nature table to retell the story again and again. But first, he wanted to be Jack Frost, so I whipped up a hat from felt that kept him happy for days.
Notice "Jack Frost"'s evil smile - I'm informed that he loves to freeze people. He also assures me that this is the appropriate costume.

He wanted frosted trees, so we got out the epsom salt and some pinecones and "iced" some tiny trees. At this point, I was fending off an enthusiastic furry assistant who thought they should lick the camera, so all my pictures for this part of our day have a canine's face in front of the object.

Here's the guilty party. He's our newest addition, and just turned 5 months old.

I sewed a little felt building the right size for a large flameless candle inside, because I am reliably assured that King Winter needs a palace.

D made Jack Frost, and most of King Winter. I knitted, at his request, a wool robe for King Winter "because otherwise he'd be cold all the time, Mom".

A playsilk for snow, and D painted a salt-sparkled background, and here's the end result:

welcoming jack frost and king winter

D was also having a great time turning the flameless candles on and off in a dark living room. We started chanting the poem "Jack be nimble, Jack be quick" one evening while he was leaping around with one, which led to this:

Note to our far-away family: In case you held any lingering doubts about his state of health.....!

Got a winter small world or nature table you'd like me to pin and share? Link it in the comments!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Towards Minimalism: 5 Inspiring Posts

We've been talking a lot about minimalism lately. Part of it is a function of having moved to a smaller house than our previous one (the tradeoff being much more outdoor room) and part of it is because about 1/3 of our "stuff" is still in storage back in Quebec and we have no idea what to do with it, since our little house already has everything we need. For the most part, we can't remember even what's still in that locker that we felt we couldn't do without!

Part of our goal in moving here was to declutter our lives, if I may use a rather trite expression. We wanted our kids to have space to run and play without having to walk a few kilometres to get to that space.  We wanted to simplify our activities and remove my husband's 1.5 hrs-each-way daily commute to work. We  wanted to grow our own organic food as much as possible and not to be able to run to the corner store when a late-night potato chip craving kicked in!

If you're also looking for ways to head towards more minimalism in your life, here are 5 posts that we have found inspiring recently and that have led to great family conversations at the dinner table.

1. Becoming Minimalist shared The Ten Most Important Things To Simplify in Your Life.

2. Premeditated Leftovers had How To Ease Your Family Into Minimalist Living.

3. Tico and Tina offered up Minimalist Living Baby Steps: Less Laundry, More Space (this is a post that our family needs to take heed of - for non-fashionable people we sure have a lot of clothing!)

4. Jillian at A Mom With A Lesson Plan asked her readers for Time Management Tips For Moms From Moms - equally important, in my book, because overscheduling causes huge amounts of stress and time management can help you to define family values too.

5. The Minimalists offered up a great set of Photos of Minimalist Living, which will either inspire or terrify you....I think they're a lot more minimalist than many people are prepared to go, but it's fascinating to see a stripped-down life.

Do you have posts that inspired you? I'd love to read them! Please share them in the comments.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Easy Christmas gift to sew: Portable dollhouse

I was looking for a special something to make for our niece (attention to my wonderful in-laws: If you read this post, please don't give me away to the niece in question!) and when I came across this wonderful portable doll's house tutorial, I knew it was meant to be.

Here's the house (I won't share the steps from the tutorial; please follow the link to the original poster for details):
portable dollhousel
That's supposed to be a pond and some felt flowers in the garden....harder to do than I expected.

And of course, every house needs a family:

peg doll royal family
Yep. The queen has many, many teeny tiny beads on her crown and cape.  I had so much fun with it!

What holiday craftiness have you been making?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Natural spice Christmas ornaments

Our tree and all of our ornaments are still in storage back in Quebec, since this summer was a bust. Luckily, we have an abundance of evergreens all over our property, so a tree itself won't be a problem. We've also been having a lot of fun coming up with ornaments to decorate it.

These delicious smelling ornaments took us about a morning to create including the baking time, and that long only because there may have been a dough-through-straw-blowing war part of the way through. Ahem.

making natural spice ornaments

You can do this with either traditional salt dough or the white cornstarch and baking soda version (the latter I believe I saw linked most recently on Happy Hooligans last week). Roll it out to about 1/2 inch thick, between sheets of waxed paper, and cut out whatever shapes strike your fancy.  Take a straw and make a hole in each one for the hanger. (Do not get distracted shooting lumps of dough at each other.)

Decorate with whatever whole spices you have on hand. In our case we used allspice and cloves, because I'm saving the star anise for a different project and I'm too lazy to drive into the nearest town for more. Bake for about an hour at a very low oven setting. Your house will smell amazing after this, as an added bonus.

making natural spice ornaments

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