A Hike in the Woods…

dsc_4885-2 dsc_4894-2 dsc_4900 Yesterday, before Savannah’s riding lesson, we stopped for an impromptu hike in the woods. It was absolutely refreshing. We didn’t have much time, but it was enough to recharge us all, especially me. I used to complain A LOT about the lack of nature where we live in south Florida. My biggest complaint were the lack of trees. It can be depressing seeing land developed all the time. But these little patches of untouched nature are there, you just have to seek them out. 

This last year, we kind of got into a rut. Things got harder with a growing toddler and it was just easier to stay close, unless my husband was with us. I started to lock myself into being stuck at home, because Wyatt needed to nap. Mind you, I never did this with any of my other kids. They adapted to our lifestyle and napped wherever they could. But, we hit a rough patch with Wyatt sleeping through the night. By rough patch, I mean he doesn’t sleep through the night, STILL. He never has. Oh my gosh, will he ever? He’ll be 2 in June and he wakes anywhere from 2-4 times night. Because of this, mornings would drag on slowly. I am the type of person that does not like to slept in. I can’t stand to see daylight wasted. I also like to have early, quiet mornings all to myself. But with all his sleep issues, I just couldn’t make it out of bed at my normal time. Mornings would drag on slowly and we weren’t really starting our day until about noon. That just didn’t sit well with me and really affected my mood. It was clear he was not going to sleep through the night just yet, so I just had to adapt. And I did. For now, my body has learned to survive on about 6 hours of interrupted sleep. 

With the new year approaching, I feel the need for some changes. These past few months, I’ve been working to clear our home and life of clutter. This is easier said than done, because my husband is not a fan of my purging lifestyle. Neither are my kids. But, I’m a happier person when I’m organized and can see the big picture. And trust me, for a person who is living on very little sleep, you want to keep her as happy as possible. Also, I’m implementing big changes into our homeschool. That’s another part of our life I wasn’t happy with, but I’ll save that for another post!

Enchanted Tree Stumps…

dsc_4102 dsc_3529 dsc_3542 dsc_3565 dsc_3601 dsc_3687 dsc_3697 dsc_3710 dsc_3814 dsc_3794 dsc_3877-2 dsc_3960 dsc_4149 dsc_4132 Finally, I’m sitting down to write up this post. Life has just been on the go lately. All of the kid’s extracurricular activities and sports have started back up. It seems we have somewhere to be everyday. Add in to that homeschooling, cooking, a very active 17 month old and, well there isn’t a whole lot of time left at the end of the day. What time I do find, I usually waste it doing things that don’t require much use of my brain. Needless to say, I’m a lot excited to be able to share this tutorial with you!

If you have been reading my blog for a while, then you know I like to make use of things we have on hand. We have some resident ducks that we feed oats to from time to time and I’ve been saving the oat containers, as I’ve had this idea in my head for a few months. Normally, I will have the whole project planned out in my head. Depending on the complexity of it, I might even do an example, just to put my ideas to the test. Not this time. I decided just to wing it. It took a bit longer, because we ran into a couple of hiccups along the way. That’s okay, it worked out for the better, as my original idea was something more along the lines of a haunted tree stump for Halloween. 

For this project you’ll need the following:

Tree stumps
Oat containers – I used the small size, but large would be fun!
Brown packing paper – I save the packing material from all my Amazon packages.
Glue – we used both sticks, liquid and a low temp glue gun.
Scissors
Acrylic paints
Paintbrushes
Mod Podge
Cardboard
Thin cardboard – like cereal box cardboard

Creatures
Plastic grocery bags
Masking tape
Thin cardboard
Pipe cleaners
Newspaper
Paper mache paste – I always use equal parts flour and water.
Acrylic paints
Paintbrushes
Mod Podge

First thing you’ll do is cut your oat container in half and keep the half with the bottom. That will be the top of your tree stump. Mark where you want a door and cut 3/4 the way around, leaving   1/4 intact for a hinge. A window would be a fun addition, however I didn’t think to add one until we were too far into the project. Trace around the bottom of the tree stump on a piece of cardboard. Cut out and attach with the glue gun.

Next you are going to start covering the container with the brown packing paper. There really is no right or wrong way to do this. The only thing I would suggest is not using to big of a piece. It will add too much bulk and makes it hard to glue down. At this point, you are just covering around the stump, the top and the door. After that has set, you can make the roots by taking a length of packing paper and folding it over onto itself. Then twist it a little until you have a shape that resembles a root. Attach with glue.

After all the glue has dried, paint the tree stump. We added mushrooms made from twisted packing paper and circles cut from the cereal box cardboard. These are easily attached using a low temp glue gun. Now you can make the face for the door out of the same packing paper and paint. We did brows, eyes, a nose and a mouth, then attached with the glue gun. Once the entire stump is as you like it, give it a couple of coats of Mod Podge and leave to dry.

Now you are ready to make the creatures that will inhabit your enchanted tree stump. It was a lot of fun watching them come to life. They worked really hard and Momma helped out on a few. I had them look at pictures and use their Schleich animals as guides and inspiration. This really helps to get the basic shape of the animal. And by basic, I mean basic. I tell them to just look at the shapes of the animals and try to copy that. All details can be added later. There was a little bit of frustration from Annie, as there always is, but in the end she powered through with a tiny bit of help from me. We ended up with an Owl, a skunk, a flying squirrel and a snail from Jacks. Savannah made a jack-o-lantern, a snake, a bunny and a ruby-throated hummingbird. I helped Annie create her Monitor lizard (lol), Bear and mouse.

To start making the creatures, shape the pipe cleaners to the basic shape of your animal. To give the shape form, slowly add crumbled plastic grocery bags and attach those with masking tape. We used a similar method with these faux taxidermy animals we did last year. The cereal cardboard makes for nice ears and wings. Feet were easily made with rolled up masking tape. After you have the basic form completely taped up, you are ready to paper mache. We did two coats of paper mache, baking in the oven between coats. You can begin painting once they are completely dry. After, add a coat or two of Mod Podge.

We added some battery operated flickering tea lights for a enchanting glow within. Annie loves to make up shows and stories with all of them. I love when art is interactive!! These took some time, but were a lot of fun to make and I very much enjoyed watching them bring my idea to life! 

Chocolate Covered Clementine Pumpkins…

dsc_3202 dsc_3088 dsc_3082 dsc_3104 dsc_3133 dsc_3114 dsc_3167 dsc_3150 dsc_3192-2 dsc_3227-2 Pumpkin season is upon us! Everything suddenly morphs into pumpkin flavor. Personally, I’m not a fan of pumpkin or pumpkin flavored anything. These little chocolate covered clementine pumpkins, are a different story. I’m fairly new to the whole chocolate and orange pairing. I never thought it would have tasted good. Not true at all! In fact, this has become my favorite fruit and chocolate combo! 

So we actually first made these last year, but I was knee deep in caring for a new baby, that a blog post was just not going to happen. This year, that new baby is 15 months old and takes nice long naps! That’s when we have our fun. I recruited just Annie to help me this year, because more than one child with a bowl of melted chocolate, while I’m trying to take pictures, is begging for catastrophe. 

For the chocolate covered clementine pumpkins, you’ll need:

Clementines
Melting chocolate
Coconut oil (for thinning the chocolate)
Celery sticks 
A fork

To start, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Next, cut a celery stick in half, lengthwise, then into 1 inch pieces. After that’s done, peel your clementines and set aside. Next, melt your chocolate in a double boiler, stirring constantly. I use two pots as a make shift double boiler and it works perfect every time. Add 1 tsp of coconut oil at a time, until chocolate has a slight liquid consistency, similar to buttermilk. Once melted, remove chocolate from heat. At this point, you can pour chocolate into a small cup or leave in pot. I poured ours into a teacup and it was the perfect size for the clementines.

Carefully insert fork into the top of a clementine and dunk into the chocolate. Make sure to leave a small portion at the top uncovered. Transfer to a cookie sheet. Once you have a full sheet, transfer to freezer to set the chocolate. This usually takes about 10 minutes. Finally, remove from freezer and insert the cut celery sticks. These are best enjoyed right away!