Snail Pin Valentines…

DSC_4596-Edit DSC_4466-Edit DSC_4478 DSC_4487 DSC_4503 DSC_4353-Edit DSC_4341 DSC_4540-Edit DSC_4566-Edit DSC_4567-Edit DSC_4593-Edit DSC_4721 There’s just something about a snail that makes them so endearing to my kids. Perhaps it’s because they carry their home on their backs. Or maybe it’s their never in a rush disposition, that appeals to them. Whatever it is, they sure do love them, especially Savannah and Annie. Those two bring them home, stuffed ever so carefully into their pockets. They keep them as pets for a few days. They make them snail homes, complete with a damp straw bed, rock pillow, and leaf coverlet. We have actually lost a few within our home, never to be found again. Yes they are slow, but give them 8 hours while you sleep and buddy, they can go the distance! When the snails are gone and the only thing left is their home, they collect those, too. We have a jarful and we really don’t need more, but they are fascinated with each new one, as if it were the first. “This one is so shiny!”, “This one is swirly brown”, “Oh, this is the tiniest snail shell ever!” are just a few of the reasons I hear to keep bringing them home. Since they are so loved, I thought what a great Valentine they would make.

For this project you’ll need:

Snail shells
Floral wire
Pipe cleaners
Hot glue
Pins (The kind you wear)
Masking tape (optional)

First, take your pipe cleaner and fold it in half, then in half again. Twist it together and form a smile shape. Cut thin (1/2 inch). 12 inch length strips of batting and begin wrapping around pipe cleaner. Determine which end will be the head and stop wrapping just before the tail. Secure the end piece of the batting with glue.

Cut a small square of fabric and wrap it over the head of the snail and secure it in place with a 5 inch cut of floral wire. Wrap it around a few times, so it won’t fall off. Curl the wire down, by gripping the ends with your scissors and turning. Next, begin wrapping a strip of fabric (same length and width as the batting) around the wire, moving back towards the tail. Before wrapping the tail, take another small square of fabric and cover the tail. Add a small piece of tape to hold in place, if needed, otherwise just pinch it in place, while wrapping. As you wrap, pull tightly as you go and finally, secure the end piece of fabric with glue. If you find you have some bare spots, just cut small pieces of your fabric and glue accordingly. Attach the shell and the pin with hot glue. 

Cut out heart shapes from cardstock and decorate as you please. Cut two small, vertical slits in the middle of the card and attach snail pin. And there you have a snail pin valentine! As a precaution, I wouldn’t recommend giving this to young children, because of the small parts and the sharp pin. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Faux Taxidermy Ornaments…

DSC_2769 DSC_2572 DSC_2661-3 DSC_2695 DSC_2704 DSC_2796-2 DSC_2762 DSC_2797 DSC_2734 I’m really big on my kids making ornaments for our Christmas tree. It’s so funny, how having kids changes your perspective. Gone are the days of my perfectly decorated Christmas tree and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This year, I’m staying ahead of the game and getting all of our ornaments made in November. Well, I’m going to put forth a good effort anyway. First up, is our version of a faux taxidermy. These were so fun and so easy to make!

You’ll need just a few supplies:

Plastic shopping bags
Masking tape
Acrylic paints
Pipecleaners (optional)
Cereal box (or any thin cardboard material)
Wood slices (I found mine at Michaels)

Originally, I had planned to paper mache the ornaments. But, Savannah had recently made a puppet and instead of adding a layer of paper mache, she just painted right over the masking tape. I’m all for keeping things simple!

First, determine what kind of animal you are going to make. Start by forming a head shape with your plastic bag. You want to use a good bit of the bag, to give it substance. So make sure to cut off a good bit of the bag. Then, start rolling and tweaking it, until you have something that looks similar to your desired animal. Once you have your shape, wrap it in masking tape. Don’t wrap too tightly or it will decrease the size of your animal head. Keep wrapping, until the entire head is covered in tape.

Next, add the eyes and ears. You can choose just to paint the eyes on, but if you want to add some dimension, then just ball up a little piece of tape and attach with a layer of masking tape. For the ears, we used a cereal box. We drew out simple ear shapes, cut them out, then covered them in tape, and attached to the head with more tape. For the elephant trunk and ostrich neck, I formed the shape I wanted with a pipecleaner, then wrapped a piece of the plastic bag around it and secured it with masking tape. Also, because the shape has some give, you can manipulate it and add indentations for eyes, nostrils, etc.

Once you have your head completed and covered in tape, you can start painting. This is where they really start to come to life. Depending on the paint color, you might need two coats. Set aside to dry. The wood slices do not come with a hole, so you’ll need to drill them out. After the paint has dried, glue the head to the wood slice, and thread a piece of yarn through the hole.

My kids loved making these! We made a pig, a horse, a bunny, a screech owl, a chipmunk, a T-Rex, an elephant, a tiger, and an ostrich. They are still making them! I think they turned out really cute and I can’t wait to get them on our tree. I love them so much, I think we are going to work on a bigger version for the wall.

Classic Cream Puffs…

cream puff recipe cream puff recipe DSC_2275 DSC_2277 DSC_2294 cream puff recipe cream puff recipe DSC_2320 DSC_2326 DSC_2348 DSC_2361 DSC_2376-2 At least once a week, I bring my kids into the kitchen to cook with me. They alternate turns, because 3 of them at once is just too crazy. Also, I find that I enjoy it more when I can I have one on one time with each of them. They love to cook and I do love teaching them. Not only do they get to sample through out the recipe, but they are practicing they’re reading and math skills. That’s a bonus for this homeschooling mom! 

I’ve always wanted to make cream puffs and if I’d known just how easy it was, I would have done so a long time ago. There are two main characters in a cream puff recipe. The first is a French pastry dough called, pate a choux. Sounds like, “pot uh shoe” and fun to say a million times over. Annie must have said it, just that many times! The second, is creme chantilly. Sounds like, “whipped cream.” Okay, so I did feel a little ridiculous every time I said, “creme chantilly.” But, French is a part of our daily studies, so I kept it legit and went with, “creme chantilly.”

I chose this recipe, because the instructions were clear and the photo of the creme puff showing all that glorious creme chantilly! If I’d thought about it, I would have gotten a picture of ours showing off the cream, but I forgot in the midst of instructing and photographing. You’ll just have to trust me, that our cream puffs were all kinds of jacked up with the creme chantilly. Have I said, “creme chantilly” enough yet?

I’ll admit, when we first put the cream puffs in the oven to bake, I wasn’t sure if they were going to work. For the first few minutes, I was actually sure of it. Then out of no where, they began to puff. As a friend recently said, “they are magical!” The key to a good cream puff is the puff. It’s actually a pocket of air inside the pastry. That’s the housing for all that wonderful creme chantilly! Here I go again, dropping my creme chantilly. I think I’ve creme chantilly-ed this post to death. All hail to the creme chantilly! I wonder, if I go in the bathroom, turn off all the lights, look in the mirror while chanting, “creme chantilly”, if Julia Childs would appear? Ha! I won’t be trying that, but you should definitely try this cream puff recipe!