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Archive for the ‘Crafting’ Category

We’ve woken to some chilly mornings since we arrived in the UK a month ago — the horizon, filled with a thick icy fog and the fields outside our door, dotted with frost-covered fleece.

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And while we have lots to accomplish, there are days when all we can do is wait (…for phone calls…for appointments…for answers…and so on). Yet, when the world outside is icy and all your earthly belongings are floating their way across the Atlantic Ocean – passing the time requires a bit of improvising. This feels especially true when little ones are (still) out of school and noisily underfoot. 

Here’s what we got up to yesterday…

Perhaps I’ve been hiding under a rock, but I never realized that rice pudding had it’s own special rice.  I’ve always used medium grain and been pretty happy with the result.  After finding proper “pudding rice” at the grocers, I decided to conduct a little rice pudding taste off (an idea everyone seemed in favor of).  Recipe number one came from here (a long-time family favorite).  The second was prepared “the French way” (as we call it).  I found Recipe number two here.  Hard to say which batch was the clear winner…as there was much back-n-forth gobbling going on. I think I still prefer the former…or was it the latter??  They’re both good (and frankly, rather similar). 

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Does every little girl (and boy?) go through a phase when they like styling/playing with hair? Wynn keeps asking for one of those plastic, long-haired doll-head-things, and I keep reminding her that now is not the time to acquire bulky new toys that require their own suitcases. Plus, who needs pretend hair when your mama (and sister and self!) has the real thing?  Yes – I’ll admit, I’m a ready volunteer, as I (not-so-secretly) love when she plays with and styles my hair.  I consider it a perk of having both long hair and daughters. 

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However, what she’s really in love with and could do for hours on end is braid.  At home she would braid ribbon and floss and twine and yarn.  Here, on the farm, far from the colorful strands that fill our currently-in-transit craft box – there is no such ribbon or floss, twine or yarn. 

So we decided to make some braiding materials with plastic bags.  Have you ever done this before?  We’ve made bracelets and key chains using this technique.  Simply cut the plastic bags into thin (or thick) ribbons.  I cut horizontal strips.  At the moment she just uses three…but I’m sure braids of 6 and more are in her future. 

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And finally, we’ve been digging deep into our recycling box these past few weeks – searching for both fun and functionality.  We have found at least twenty uses for all-things-Tetra-Pak — which is the brand name for those waxy, watertight boxes that carry juice ‘n soup ‘n stock ‘n such.

These are entirely up to the task of drying kitchen utensils, holding paintbrushes (and water), playing in the bath with and (most recently) they come in very hand for carrying snacks in the car. 

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And since the UK is a place of many (many) coins, we also needed another change purse.  So we decided to make one using this (easy) technique. 

* I struggled to find a glue that would hold to the waxy surface. Even powerful and “waterproof” Locktite couldn’t manage it.  In the end, I had to strip away some of the wax, to reveal the cardboard underneath – then gluing was no problem.

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Just another pajama day on the farm. I’m certainly trying to enjoy these slooooow days, since I know there’s craziness on the horizon.  But thankfully, that’s not today.

And usually, by the time we’re done crafting from within – the world outside has warmed up enough for us to venture out and begin another day.

 

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love-s-210[1]

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Kid Art Gift Bag

It feels like the girls have a birthday party to attend almost every weekend. For quite some time we have been using a roll of drawing paper to wrap gifts – lavishly decorating them with kid art – much like you mentioned in this post.

Recently, when we had a gift with several small parts, we decided to try something I had seen on Pinterest: A homemade gift bag. In this case, we used the same roll of drawing paper.

We cut a strip and taped the slightly-over-lapped edges together.

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Fold up the bottom…

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Open the fold and bring in the sides like this…

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Fold the top and bottom to meet in the center and secure with tape…

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We used a grocery store bag handle by taping it securely inside, but you could probably make a paper handle…

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I punched a few holes in it to close it up with a bit of raffia.

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This time we used (uncolored) pieces from a coloring book as birthday cards. The birthday girl or boy might have fun coloring in.

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Your girls might not be going to too many birthday parties right now, but thought you might like to bookmark this for later.

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Wobbly teeth are subject of much excitement around here. That is until the tooth becomes so loose that it interferes with eating…then it becomes subject of much whining and discontent. Thankfully that only lasts about 24 hours – at least for my child, who at that point wiggles and tugs so fanatically that it doesn’t stand a chance.

A few weeks ago, our big 6-year-old lost her third tooth.

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Our ritual is that the tooth gets placed in our handmade tooth fairy pillow, which hangs at the side of the bed. This makes it much easier for the tooth fairy…ahem…to find the tooth and replace it with a special surprise. Because naturally it would be difficult for a 5-inch-tall, delicate little fairy to dig underneath a big fluffy pillow. Right?

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In the morning, awaiting our girl, is a 5 kroner coin (about $1), a tiny note (stating how happy she is to have such a nice looking tooth and to keep up the good work brushing!) and of course…pixie dust.

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Family travel often causes one to ask: Car seat or no car seat? We opted for purchasing compact, travel seats, thus taking our own when we travel by car.

You’ve been asking me some questions lately about our Go Hybrid-booster seats, and I actually took these photos on our summer trip in Germany, with a post like this in mind, because I feel that any avid traveling family might benefit from the information.

We first discovered this car seat because friends were using one in their 2nd car. Rather than buy a second set of very expensive car seats for a car their children only traveled in 15% of the time, they opted for a less expensive option that still provided the safety of a 5-point harness. This also avoids the hassle of having to transfer seats to another car all the time.

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Besides all that, they are pretty perfect for a family on-the-go. So as soon as we found out we were moving to Denmark and would no longer be owning a car of our own, we sold our much-loved and trusted Britax seats and bought 2 Go Hybrid seats (by Safety 1st). They have worked perfectly for the many times we have traveled with rental cars.

(The reason the bags below are different is because Safety 1st bought Safe Guard Go between the time we purchased the two.)

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Below is what it looks like outside of the bag and uninstalled. There is no hard back, so they require a car with a latch system and a rear tether, in order to be used as a 5-point harness. Any car newer than 2002 (as most rental cars are) have these two features, so this has never been a problem for us.

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We have never used them as a booster seat with the cars seat belt, but this is recommended for kids weighing over 65 lbs. The backless booster mode is rated for up to 100 pounds. However, I just learned an important fact (perhaps you know this) but each vehicle has a LATCH rating and many of them max out at 48 pounds! So in some cases, even if your car seat says you can use the latch system and 5-point harness up to 100 pounds, the car’s seatbelt might actually be safer for bigger kids, depending on the car’s latch rating! Something to look into further perhaps.

I read a few reviews from parents who had children complaining of comfort in these seats. Ours have never complained. They don’t sit quite as high up as in a bigger, bulkier seat, so I had little D sitting on a make-shift pillow (stack of clothes) on our last trip, so she could see out the window better. I also tend to find that sleepy heads go bobbing a bit in these seats, because they sit very straight. (Yet, head-bobbing is a general car seat dilemma, I think.)

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For this reasons, I am crafting up these neck pillows, in hopes of making car travel a bit more enjoyable for our pint-size explorers.  (Photo from Pinterest.)

I’ll let you know how they turn out!

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Good luck with your car seat purchase(s)!

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The Start

The feeling of getting something finished and crossing it off my list is highly overrated these days.  This week, I am appreciating the accomplishment of getting something started.  Starting a project definitely deserves its own merit.

An abundance of photos and the beginnings of blog posts are stored in my computer.  An electronic Christmas card is created in Smilebox, awaiting its finishing touches.  Successfully multitasking, I have window shopped while riding my bike and have selected 2 Christmas gifts for the girls…one of these days, I just need to stop and purchase them.  Oh, and not to mention the 25 pages I am currently writing, as part of a 100 page paper regarding the image of Colombia. That one, I will be happy to cross off the list!  Other, more creative, enjoyable projects are patiently waiting.

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We are also experiencing winter, in its truest form.  The sun is rising late and going to bed very early.  Temperatures have dropped to below freezing and snow has been falling.  This does not make for above-average motivation.  Yet, it is quite lovely.  For some snowy pics go here.

Happy Birthday x 2 tomorrow!!  Hope you celebrate!

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Parenthood is a bit of a rollercoaster, is it not? Just when you think you have something figured out, you’re sent spinning in a blizzard of doubt & confusion. Then there are the times when you have a pat-yourself-on-the-back, “Ah-ha-moment”!

I truly believe that a child’s personality is a mixture of nature and nurture. Otherwise siblings would not be so incredibly unique. But that is what makes parenting so interesting and rewarding, right?

Here’s the thing…Daughter #1 never used a crayon in an inappropriate way.  She was quite happy to cut only paper with her tiny kid scissors. Daughter #2 comes along and she writes on walls, dressers and bunk beds (and not just with crayon…but black sharpie). She is obsessed with cutting inappropriate things; her clothes, her dolls clothes, her hair, her doll’s hair, her stuffed animals, my knitting yarn…these have all been subjects of destruction. We felt we were trying everything to combat the behavior. We talked to her firmly about what is okay to cut (or write on) and what is not. She experienced long, tearful time-outs. We put scissors and permanent markets in high, out of reach cabinets (which was really not fair to her sister). Nothing worked. So then we began to worry about something deeper…were her actions a form of 4-year-old rebellion?  Was there something troubling her that was causing her to “act out” in this way?  Maybe.

But, then I thought about my own childhood phase with scissors…cutting my own hair, cutting Mom’s hand-crocheted afghan and of course, the notorious occasion of cutting the cord to your electric Barbie corvette. I recalled the memory of simply being curious about the way it felt to cut through different textures and materials. “Ah-ha!”

Often, the solutions to things are not as complicated as you thought – they just require a little thinking “outside the box” – Or in this case…in the box.

We created, for Dahlia, her very own cutting box. It is a large shoe box filled with things she can cut: old clothes, fabric, cardboard, cotton, yarn, a stuffed animal with long hair, etc. She is also free to write on any of these things. I made a big production of presenting the box to her and she was very excited about it and since receiving it (about a month ago) the inappropriate writing and cutting behavior completely stopped. Not only that, but she has started her own doll/animal clothes making hobby. At 4-years-old, she is a natural at designing and creating apparel for small stuffed toys and dolls. And here I was trying to stifle that dream! Shame on me!

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I just sent Rapunzel and Pippi Longstocking off to school.  Last year (due to a specific teacher’s rule) it was not permitted to dress up for Halloween and they waited until Fastelavn, in February, to show off their costumes.  Things are different this year, as both schools have allowed costumes.  We are also attending a ghoulish Halloween party tonight and Brett and I will be in costume too!  We haven’t done that in years!  Oh, how I love Halloween!

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Pippi’s hari was made by braiding her own hair, plus 3 pipe-cleaners and orange yarn into each braid. 

Rapunzel’s hair is an entire skein of yarn, wrapped multiple times around my cutting mat and cut to make one long strand (see below). Then braided, with small ribbon and flowers woven and sewn in and tied to her ponytail.

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A surefire way to get plenty of Halloween in Copenhagen, is to visit Tivoli.  Closed for most of the winter, Tivoli opens for a couple of weeks around Halloween and Christmas.  We missed going at this time last year because we were in Spain

This year we went on a very mild, autumn day and although we only planned to go for a short visit, the festive atmosphere, warm cider and sweet treats drew us in and we spent most of the day there.  Here are some images. (Keep an eye out for the albino peacock!)

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Happy Halloween!

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