Thursday, December 30, 2010


Isn't that a lot of crows?? Gracious! They were having a blast poking around in our straw mulch- looking for bugs or finding nest materials, I'm not certain! I love seeing these flocks of crows in the spring time, though- lots of fluffed-up, ridiculous, adolescent birds with a chip on their shoulder. They sqauwk and preen and fight for the best spot on the roofs and lawns.

I've been promising Ernie ALL YEAR LONG that at Christmas time, we would decorate gingerbread boys. Christmas time came, and I couldn't face making an entire batch of sticky gingerbread dough, and fussily decorating an army of boys and girls. Luckily, our grocery store bakery was selling individual gingerbread boys with a handful of assorted loose sprinkles. PERFECT!! I gave the girls a bowl of honey, and a chop stick each, and let them go to down decorating their little men. Ernie carefully covered every feature of her cookie- eyes, smile, buttons, outline- before eating it. Mimi ate all her sprinkles, ate all the honey, and left most of her boy behind. I think it's kind of a personality test, don't you?

I made these as part of an appetizer spread on Christmas Eve- I barely had time to grab one for myself before they were polished off! I made a triple batch for a guy-get-together to watch a holiday bowl husband was pretty pleased :) (And yes...we won. Bow down to Washington! Woof!)

After such a crazy wind up to Christmas, it's been lovely to have some quiet time this week! The girls and I went out grocery shopping yesterday, and it felt like a major accomplishment. (Well, grocerying and returning....because remember, I'm the ding-a-ling who bought all their Christmas clothes in the wrong sizes? The girls had fun using their store credits to pick out some presents for themselves though.) I can not WAIT to show you guys pictures of our master bedroom. It was a dingy swine color, and I didn't let it bug me too much because it's just paint, you know? Wonder Daddy pulled everything out of the room and spackled holes on Tuesday, spent Wednesday priming the walls and ceiling, and painted the ceiling and walls Thursday. Friday the outlets will get replaced (my vacuum plug won't even stay in the wall if someone bumps the cord, they're that loose!) and things get put back in. The ceiling is a bright white, and the walls are the most amazing grey-blue....very Pacific Ocean. Very dreamy and calm. Calm like nowhere else in our house is- we've worked at at building up kid-friendly energy in our house, and needed a Grown Up Getaway.

He's a genius at picking colors, and takes it seriously! We've had a growing collection of paint chips and paint samples taped and brushed on the bedroom walls for at least 2 years now. (The attached bathroom is going to be a pale lavendar, with white woodwork. Yum. That should get painted before he heads back to work next week too!)
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A List

A really sweet decoration for Baby Boy's room, from his Nana Great. (That's not my arm holding it up. FYI.)

1. I'm 35 weeks pregnant. No, I am NOT ready. But I have cleaned out all the pink blankets, and am excited to start using the adorable, cozy BOY blankets sweet people have given us!

2. I am nesting. In reverse. I am currently in the process of filling the trunk of our Honda Pilot with stuff to drop off at Goodwill (well, the DI trailer, actually.)

3. In the process of this nesting, I filled our garbage can and most of our recycle bin the day BEFORE Christmas. Yes, yes- my husband was pleased about that. Luckily, in all our Christmas wanderings we've found empty bins for most of our extra bags of trash.

4. I can no longer sleep comfortably in my bed, which means I'm on the couch, which means I'm sad. I slept in a chair with Mimi in my arms for about 3 months when she was born- if I need to do that again, I didn't want to add MORE time away from my hubby on the front end!

5. Christmas was spectacular. So much family, so much food! I was spoiled rotten this year- my library grew by 7 fantastic books, I am the delighted owner of a 20-cup rice cooker (so I can stop begging my sister to bring rice when I cook curry for family meals), and I have so much much chocolate. Oh, and cookie scoops. I love cookie scoops! (I'm not going to list everything I got, because that would be tacky, right? So..if I didn't list your present, I love it very, very much. I'll tell you so in the thank you note that I'm going to write.)

6. My husband is home for the week, and working on projects. My room (that I no longer sleep in) is currently torn into tiny pieces, as he prepares to paint the walls. Among other projects. Help.

7. I watched "Princess and the Frog" this morning with the girls. I want to know why that movie is rated G? Adorable...but a little intense for the young crowd. Yeah?

8. Every time I feel ill, I'm afraid I'm going into labor, because that's how my last labor started. My husband didn't even know that, he was asleep- I was scared I wouldn't be able to wake him up in the few minutes I had between being sick!

9. If you're going to host Christmas Eve dinner, make lots and lots of food. Leftovers are delicious. Especially baked brie topped with last year's meyer lemon marmalade. It's not bad that I eat the rind, is it??

10. I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend, and enjoy this season!
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gifts We've Made

Little gifts we've made recently, for birthdays (we celebrated Holiday Season Birthday #5 and #6 this week, and that's just the folks who live within driving distance. There are four others on his side of the family....and we're about to add two more holiday babies between me and my sister-in-law. Oh my.)

I found this gorgeous piece of fabric at our local Joann's shop- I think it's brocade? Seems to be a polyester, just looking at it made the edges unravel! I purchased a square (44 inches square) of it, and sewed around the edges with the presser foot to check the fraying, and to give me a mark to fold on when I double-folded the edges to hem it. A brand new needle REALLY helped get through this thick, slick fabric! It didn't want to lay flat, either- the edges kept warping and pulling. We picked this one out to go on top of Mom and Dad's fancy, shiny, black grand piano- she has a gorgeous silver nativity set from Mexico that she sets up on the piano every year, and a old, old, hand-painted tea set from Europe that lives there the rest of the year. (It's a gorgeous set- maroon, each piece with a different hand-painted scene from Napolean's career.)

For a friend's daughter, quick clip-on earrings for the dress up box. I see a lot of these in our future, for little girls' birthdays.

I knit the green scarf you see Uncle Bear wearing here- turns out you CAN knit flat pieces on round looms! (Yes, I'm a Knifty Knitter...I don't even know how to hold knitting needles!) If you know how to loom knit, basically you cast on for 18 or 20 pegs (or however wide you want it,) knit off, and cast on in the OPPOSITE direction. Just go back and forth! Check YouTube for videos of how to finish the last edge- I can't find the video I watched, but there are LOTS of folks out there making tutorials on hacking with round looms.
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Monday, December 20, 2010

The Morning

The girls, working on birthday cards

Ace in the hole

I have to tell you about this second picture. Two weeks ago, Ernie discovered that she could cross her eyes, and that Mommy can't. This is now her secret weapon. Mom and Dad getting grumpy at the dinner table at her antics and sass? Next time we look at her, this is what we get.

I think we are done with paint for the year. After the girls finished their birthday cards, we finished up some Christmas projects, and had a well-deserved bath. I really think paint is done for the year, and that kiddo crafts are done too. Hooray! One more box to ship off, a few more Mommy projects to finish, and some cookies. We must have more Christmas cookies! I've been promising Ernie all year that we'd do gingerbread men at Christmas time, so I definitely see a little batch of cookies in our near future.
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Thursday, December 16, 2010


(July 2010, building the boxes)

It's plan your gardens!!  Around here, with a frost-free-date in mid-April, our first veggies hit the dirt late January/early February (starting transplants, peas, spinach) so now is the time!

You can see my schedule here...are you growing a garden this year?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Somebody Make Her Stop

We can all agree that I have an amazing sister. Right?

Someone has got to stop her.

Monday night, we pooled our parental capacities and took the four kids to the local "garden of lights." We figured 3 adults would be a match for 4 kids. (Uncle LoLo couldn't make it.)

At the end of the garden's path, we found a paved trail that would take us back to our parking lot at an adjacent building, bypassing the crowded, narrow shoulder of the road we'd pushed the strollers up on our way into the park. Score! Plus, at the end of the trail was an enormous astro-turf field. Wonder Daddy turned the kids loose, hoping to let out some energy before we took them home for bed. Aunt LoLo (who had been tucking her daughter back INTO bed until at least 10:30 the previous nights) shouted out "If she falls asleep by 8:45 you get brownies!"

My man is a man who loves brownies.

He ran those kids ragged, up, down, and AROUND the field.

Wednesday, we had brownies on our kitchen counter.

Oh, and Wednesday night I had a house full of teen girls helping me make 4 batches of sugar cookies for a church party. I made the other 4 batches we needed on Thursday morning, and Aunt LoLo came and helped make one last batch for our own cookie jar.

And then Thursday night was the Christmas Recital for our combined piano studios- Aunt LoLo brought a loaf of pumpkin bread (1 of 24 loaves she made Tuesday), and a platter of chocolate crinkle cookies.


Aunt LoLo must be stopped.
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Friday, November 26, 2010

The Christmas Season Starts- New Music Video!

Thanksgiving is over- turkey leftovers are in the fridge, Ernie put away the wooden turkey this morning, and Christmas lights are hung outside!  That means....Christmas Music Time.

I had a quiet house this morning while the kids were out with Wonder Daddy (and two lessons were no-shows) so I had time to record something!  The trouble with a lot of accompaniment is that it's so BORING.  Broadway scores are often reduced from full orchestra to just a page full of block chords or arpeggios, plus a melody in the right hand.  And Christmas songs, that were originally in hymn format?  Same thing.

My favorite way to find nice accompaniments for hymns is to find piano solo arrangements, and sing over the top...and it works well with Christmas music, too!  This piano arrangement is a mashup of "What Child Is This?" and Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata."  My family (siblings and spouses, plus my mom) is getting ready to provide music for some upcoming Christmas events, and this is one song I'll be performing next Saturday at my parents/sister's church building.  They'll have the entire building chock-a-block full of nativity sets from around the world, pictures of Christmas, twinkling Christmas lights...and I've heard there's going to be a donkey in the parking lot.  Which simply makes me giggle.  We'll perform for an hour in a central room, where people can watch if they choose to, but the music will be piped all over the building.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Hairy Situation

If you follow me on Facebook, you'll know that I found a....present in the girls' toilet the other day. A clever friend remarked that MY children don't cost money, they make it! Alright, if you'd like to dig through any more diapers for any more coins, be my guest! I'm guessing and hoping that little copper coin was the reason for Mimi's recent run of up-every-two-hours nights, and so far she seems to be sleeping much better. However, with Daddy snowed in this week and working from home, she's settled into a comfortable routine of waking up way too early, and Daddy brings her into OUR bed to cuddle with Mommy for an hour or two. Often she'll fall asleep, and stay asleep for quite a while after I get up! However, not today.

To pass the long, dark morning, Ernie helped Mimi pick out clothes for the day, and then the real fun started when they rummaged through the drawer and found as many rubber bands as they could! All I can say is I really had no idea she had so much hair, haha.

We spent today baking pies, baking bread, delivering boxes of "Thanksgiving Food" to local church members, and unfortunately being quite grumpy. Granted, some of us are doing MUCH better than we were yesterday (little girls, I'm looking at you!) but still. We need some attitude changes around here! I think I need to simply come to terms that I don't HAVE a good day coming my way- I'm only going to get bigger, and more sore, and things are only going to get harder to do. You know, things like standing and walking. So I need to treat every day like it's a good day, and stop expecting huge things and being upset that I can't do everything I want to.

A very happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Here's hoping your day is filled to the brim with things to be thankful for!
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Week Of Thanksgiving

++Updated to fix the picture links, thanks!++

The weather man warned us that we may get some snow...maaaaaybe an inch, he said. Hi there, 4 inches later, our half of the state is SHUT DOWN. Outsiders may laugh, but we have nasty hills, no one even knows how to use chains, we don't have enough snow plows or sand trucks, and our snow is...ahem...slicker n' snot. It's true. It took my husband 3 hours to get home from downtown yesterday- when he called to tell me he was OK, he was STOPPED on the freeway and watching cars slide. Stopped cars.

The girls had fun making snow angels... mostly. (See those scrunched up eyes??)

 ...sort of. Mimi didn't think it was funny at all to be in snow up to her shins, but she (for some reason) despises her boots. I figured 15 seconds of standing in the snow in sneakers wouldn't hurt her!

This is what our yard looks like this afternoon- all that wonderful sunshine is making indoors look nice and cozy indeed, especially since I know that it's about 23 degrees outside!

Ernie is industriously working on her Christmas friends for "kids that she loves." (I think that's code for cousins...) She's making these, and we're not telling the kids that there are toys inside! Toy dinosaurs, actually. She picked them out herself- when I suggested bouncy balls, she cocked her head and thoughtfully said "Nooo....Ming Wai already HAS a bouncy ball!" Alrighty then. One word of caution, though- she grated up the soap yesterday, and that was all good, and made two snowballs out of this first bar, but by the end of the second snow ball she was starting to get a little teary-eyed, because her hands itched SOOOO much! Dry weather is dry skin, and soap itches! (Yes, I finished up this ball for her!)

We've been enjoying being cozied up in the house, but I think the kids are starting to get a bit stir crazy. A friend brought over a bag FULL of Korean goodies yesterday from her freezer, and we've been keeping our bellies toasty drinking cinnamon juice over ice, mixed with milk to calm down the spice a bit. I'm not sure what she put in there, but when she warned us that even Koreans only drink demitasse cups at a time, she wasn't kidding! Mimi is a champ, and drinks it straight up. When I tried that last night, I very nearly went into labor...definitely something to remember for a few months from now! So yeah, drink it over ice...with half milk, half cinnamon juice. Scrummy!

She also brought a bag full of frozen kimchi, which is DIVINE. Fishy, spicy, and delicious! She knew I've been craving kimchi fiercely for months, but I'm disappointed whenever I purchase it, and couldn't face making an entire batch just for myself and my sister, since I don't know anyone else who would eat it!

I'm making my final list of pies for Thanksgiving, here's what's on the docket:

Brown-Eyed Baker's Dutch Apple Pie
Sunset's Pumpkin Pie
Taste of Home's Pineapple Meringue Pie (I've made this for years, it's delicious and totally unexpected!)
Peach-A-Berry Pie, from All Recipes (I have frozen peaches from this summer, and frozen raspberries from the garden)
Lemon Chess Pie, from the Mennonite Girls Can Cook! blog

My only issues...I'm short ONE EGG for this list, and I only have two nice pie pans- all my remaining pans are depressingly shallow, tin affairs left over from frozen pies. My sister has 3 pie pans for me to borrow...but her house is halfway up a small mountain (true story) and the roads are nothing but ice. The peach pie could easily become a gallette, and I think the pineapple meringue and dutch apple will just need to be cooked in square bakers. Yeah? Yeah. I'm just grateful the weather should warm up by Thursday afternoon, so we can have a family dinner! (Oh, I'm in charge of green bean casserole, too, but I'm going to make a sauce based on this recipe I came up with a few weeks ago, easy peasy!)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Handmade Christmas Gift Ideas

Christmas is shrouded in secrecy...but crafting goodness has to be shared!  It's a conundrum, so here: loads of tutorials I've seen around the blogosphere, and these have made it onto my "Hmm....I could make that for somebody!" radar.  Maybe I've made some of these...maybe I haven't....HA!  Family, you are foiled again!!

Enjoy!  These are my favorite ideas from 2009 and 2010....

Felt Tree Skirts
Elastic Bookmarks (Simple elastic + charm)
Simple felt capes for kiddos
Tiny doll quilt for baby dolls
How to cast off if you want to make something square on a round loom.
Easy pacifier clips to use your lovely woven ribbons
If you still have pumpkins laying around, pumpkin butter for the freezer
Darling fabric flowers that look like kanzashi, but are simpler
Ephemeral, but darling paper flower crown for little girls
The perennial favorite at church craft days, a scrap wood plaque with a scripture and family name
How to make a hammock
Dream of warmer days, and make a tea cup bird feeder
A printable painting of a cupcake, by the fabulous artist Bobbi.  (Wouldn't this be great printed on transfer paper and put on an apron??)
Wallet from a dishtowel
Sugar scrub- nummay!
Thumbprint pendants- we made these for Mother's Day, but they were darling, and a HUGE hit!
Stamped metal pendants- so popular right now!!
Terrariums for the nearby nature lovers with black thumbs
Baby tights!  Rae is absolutely genius!
Photo bean bags
Twin sheet teepee tent
DIY Jump Rope
Hot sauce at home?  Awesome sauce, is what this sounds like!
Kiddo crafts from the boys at Blue Yonder- I especially love the stenciled flour sack towels
Soap balls that look like snowballs, made by kids.  Yes please!  (Ooh, and there's even a toy surprise inside!)
Keychain coin purses- they made these from dishtowels, but you could use anything
Photo blocks and tiles- will we ever run out of way to give pictures of the kids to family members??
Amy's take on the crowd favorite, "Reindeer Food" to tempt those critters into your yard Christmas Eve
Super simple (and punny!!) neighbor gifts
Peppermint Bark Popcorn.  YUM.
Messenger bag tutorial- yay!!
Resin-filled rings- tres chic!
Super simple and inexpensive memory game from security envelope patterns.  Maya makes it look cool!
Embellish a plain umbrella with ruffles- we might make it through this PNW winter after all
Fabric ballet flats- simply darling, and would make great "house slippers" for a little girl
A little child-sized apron from tea towels
Reusable picture frame calendar with vinyl-  I had one, I loved it, and it jumped off the wall in the middle of the night and busted into a hundred pieces.
Tutorial for an oval oven mitt- so cute!
Car CD holder- yes!
An artsy way to make a fabric collage notebook cover
English toffee- yummy!
A super creative fishing game for little tykes, cleverly made from old paint brush handles
You can transfer inkjet images to wood blocks- so adorable to make toys!
Crinkly taggie square for babies- always a hit
Homemade chili powder
Story dice for the little tykes

You can see everything I've posted tutorials for, over on the side bar, but I'll make a post with my favorites soon :)  Time to get busy, busy, busy!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Fall Event

We had our very own "school party" to celebrate Autumn this year.

The kids made leaf crowns

(Well...the moms helped a LOT)

We played pin the apple on the tree- tempura paint washes off glass just fine, I love having this great big sliding door in the dining room for these kinds of games!

We almost missed this game entirely, which would have been a shame (because then I'd be left with two boxes of mini donuts), but twenty minutes before everyone leaving Ernie shrieked "Mom! What about the DONUTS!!" because I bought those donuts three days earlier, and she'd had to stare at them all week long waiting for this particular game. (She and her friend tied in their round....quickest player was the 8-year-old who snagged the whole thing in her mouth and just pullllllllled it off. So effective!)

We played duck duck goose (an Ernie favorite), and had a little lunch of peanut butter and honey on wheat, kettle corn, apple slices, and sugar cookies baked by Aunt LoLo.

I am SO lucky that some of my best friends happen to have friends who get along great with the kids! We were sad we couldn't invite more families, but inviting just 3 families already had the attendance up to 17 people! Ernie has already extracted the promise that we'll do a Spring Event too...and Nana and Grandpa, she kind of figures YOU'LL be happy to run that event while you're here, since I'll busy with the new baby. Ha.
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

What's Cookin?

Twenty-Nine Weeks...but who's counting?
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Cake Season

(That is 19 candles on a cupcake. Poor cupcake! We set off the smoke alarm...twice.)

We've kicked off the holiday season around here, already. In our family, it's one great big sugar fest from here to the end of the year- just as Halloween candy is starting to look severely picked-over, bring in the cake for the first birthday (see above.) A little break, and it's Thanksgiving pies, followed shortly by MORE birthday cake. Then...another birthday cake, followed one week later with ANOTHER birthday cake. Right around then, the cookie plates start piling up, and then Christmas. Just as the year is winding down and the only sweets left is the rock-hard homemade marshmallow at the bottom of a tin and a candy cane no one wants, New Years comes with lots of goodies. Then...wait for it....the last birthday cake. And...oh yeah, I'm DUE 2 weeks after that. So basically, if the next time you see me, I look like an orange with fat legs and arms sticking's not my fault. It's my family, THEY'RE the reason behind all the birthday cakes! Haha.

**In order, Bert, Aunt LoLo, Uncle Bear, MOM...and Wonder Daddy.

(All this, to say nothing of the family birthdays we're missing in my husband's family, 3 states away. Guys? Eat some cake for me, because I would gladly do it myself if I was there!)

Planning is in full swing for all the other parties of the season, as well...the non-birthday parties. There's the Fall Event for the little kids, the piano recital, caroling to the neighbors, caroling at the church party a la' Dickens Carolers, the church parties, the family gatherings, the music programs at church....thankfully, no company holiday party this year. (HA...wait. Honey, are we HAVING a company party? Like...for the the two of you? The four of us? Eight, if you include dogs and kids?)
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Saturday, November 6, 2010

CSN Review

CSN Stores is HUGE- they have over 200 "stores" currently listed (under categories as broad as outdoor furniture, kids and babies, and office supplies!)

Now that the bones of our yard are almost complete, and we've been chased indoors by rainy November weather, we've started dreaming about the indoor projects that we dream about every winter.  For one thing, the kitchen- my husband has huge plans to take out the ceiling, the walls, the cabinets....basically everything.  Something like drop leaf tables might come in handy, for when we need space in the adjoining school room for kid crafts, and then need MORE space for when we have company over!  (Like...Christmas Eve.  I think our current count is about 22 folks.  Need. More. Chairs!)  One like this would be nice, since it matches our current dining room table.  And how cute would it be painted?
TMS Double Drop Leaf Dining Table in Natural

But one like THIS would be biiiigggeerrrr!
TMS Farmhouse Dining Table in White / Natural

I have been compensated, in the form of a gift code, for this review.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Eyes Have It

I can't help it- I'm nostalgic today.

I'm looking at this picture.

October 2010

And thinking of this one.
Funny Girl 2
July 2005

Love those eyes!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Playing Dress Up

Oh, let's have some more Halloween shots. My husband has been in bed for about 21 hours now with a doozy of a flu, kids are down for their naps, and we have three piano lessons left for the week (AND it's tuition week!)

So let's have those photos :)

This gem was poached from my lovely lovely sister (yeah, the "me" on the left with the short hair....the "me" who is skinny :)

From left to right, we have Aunt LoLo, Bam Bam, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, me, Pebbles, and a fairy princess of some sort (with a lovely tutu and the fanciest crown of flower clips!)

Aunt LoLo made the Pebbles and Bam Bam costumes- isn't she amazing?? The big girls came up with their costumes on their own, no Mom Help included (except for getting everything on!)

My two girls before the church party- on the left, a pencil-eating Pebbles (who managed to lose one shoe between the kitchen and the car, and so is wearing rain boots), and a very lovely Cinderella on the right.

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween 2010

Ernie's annual candy sorting

Is this The Pumpkin? (It wasn't)
Pumpkin Painting

Halloween has come and gone! Music class party Friday morning, church party Friday night, pumpkin patch Saturday morning, trick-or-treating Saturday night.....the girls did good this year!

Ernie was pretty upset when I announced that we'd be cooking their pumpkins this week, until I started listing off everything we could do with them (gnocchi, biscuits, pancakes, pie, muffins, bread, soup, cookies, etc.) She's pretty sure that pumpkin cookies are going to to be a GREAT use for that big 'ol squash :)

(Yes, that's a Sweet Mama squash in the background, kind of like a Sweet Meat. She painted a face on it for me, so I could have a pumpkin on the porch too. With all this rain we're getting, the paint still hasn't dried on these!)

With how "into it" Mimi was getting, you can see why we paint these on the floor. I'm sure we'll carve pumpkins in later years, but for now I love letting the girls do it all by themselves.
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Kids Made This: Hand Sillouhette Window Trees

These are so easy, but I wanted to write down the instructions just in case!

We traced the kids' hands and arms onto a piece of brown construction paper- if it fit on the paper, we traced it! Needless to say, Mimi (above) got quite a bit of arm into her tree!

I helped the kids cut out the hand sillhouettes, and we used watercolor paints on coffee filters, in all sorts of autumn-ish colors.  Once they were dry, I folded them into eighths and cut out leaves.

We made a simple paste of 1/2 cup of flour and a bit of water, cooked in a sauce pot until it was smooth and glossy, and used that paste to stick up our hand prints and leaves! I put the paste straight onto my leaves, but I put the paste onto the window for Mimi and let her stick the leaves into it.

Hand print idea from here
Leaf inspiration from here

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