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!

Handprinted Stationary Kit…

handprinting art for kids DSC_1883 DSC_1891 DSC_1910 handmade kid stationary DSC_1936 handmade stationary for kids handmade stationary for kids handmade stationary for kids handprinting art for kids DSC_1995 DSC_2012 handprinting art for kids My kids love mail!  They especially love cards! My parents, have sent them cards for every birthday and every single holiday since they were born. If it were up to me, they’d be um, purged. However, they are sentimental ones and insist on keeping them. Knowing how much they love getting cards in the mail, I thought we should put together a handmade stationary kit and send off to my parents. They are already excited about receiving their cards back in the mail.

On a recent trip to the library, Savannah stumbled onto this book about handprinting animal art for kids. It provides detailed, step by step instructions on which part of your hand to paint to make the animal come to life. The beginning of the book gives you pointers on handprinting techniques, if you are not sure by just looking at the picture. Also, after each animal, there is a lesson of sorts about that animal. Unfortunately, it’s no longer in print, but I was able to pick up a used copy in great condition. I know this book will get a lot of use in our house!

After playing around making some of the animals, we got serious and started handprinting onto blank stationary cards. The book lists poster paint as the type of paint to use, but I just used acrylic. You will need to work faster if using acrylic, as it does dry quicker than poster paint. I found being slightly generous when applying the paint, helped extend the drying time. After all the cards have dried, then go back and add details with an ink pen.

We did a total of 9 cards. After they were finished, we stacked the cards and envelopes on a piece of cardboard. Then, we tied them all together with some yarn, handmade pom poms, and a “write me” tag. These stationary kits make fun gifts for grandparents, teachers, friends, or pen pals. Ours is headed to Texas, where Papa and Gigi will fill each one with words that will be treasured for many years.