Maia and I made homemade candy cane playdough this past weekend. I'm always trying to think of gifts that Maia can participate in making and this one fits all my criteria perfectly: it's easy and fun to make, inexpensive, and once given, encourages creative play.
As usual we used MaryAnn Kohl's recipe for play clay from First Art. I always plan to try new recipes, but love this one so much, I never do.
Mix water, salt, cream of tartar, and food coloring. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring regularly until mixture is hot. Add oil. Stir in flour a cup at a time, stirring in between each addition. Mix until playdough pulls away from pan and is no longer sticky (pinch it between your fingers to test). Dump dough on counter, let cool a bit, then knead.
To make the candy cane playdough, we made two batches of the play clay, one red and one white. After the dough cooled down a bit, we kneaded in some glitter for holiday glitziness and some peppermint essential oil (about 10 drops each batch) for the yummy candy cane smell.
Next we gathered our playdough (cut up into individual portions - I think we divided each batch into 12 or so) and our packaging materials (pint canning jars, holiday fabric squares, yarn, color copies of Maia's Christmas "cards", and some labels I made in Word).
We rolled the playdough into snakes...
then twisted one red and one white one together like a candy cane.
Each playdough twist was put into a jar and we added the fabric, lids, and labels.
Et voila! Candy cane playdough. Gifts Maia helped make that she can give to her friends.
You know this, but I love our chalkboard. Besides providing a surface for drawing big, it is a wonderful ever-changing focal point in our home.
I especially enjoy the layers of drawings on the chalkboard -- Daphne's marks and scribbles, Maia's words and hearts and stars. It's time to wash it and start over, but I like the current look so much I had to take photos first.
And I'm starting to think about where else I can use chalkboard paint. Perhaps a table top or a wall in the office or (crazy idea!) paint the whole studio in chalkboard paint...
We've been having fun making our own wrapping paper this month with a variety of tools and techniques.
The playdough tools, especially the texture rolling pins, are great for making repeat designs. If you don't have something similar, you can wrap string around a regular rolling pin (or cardboard tube or tin can) to create a pattern roller.
Here Marlise and Maia are rolling designs with green tempera paint over a long sheet of paper (from the easel roll) that I had taped down to the studio table.
This, I think, was the favorite, though. The girls dipped a length of yarn in paint, then each holding an end, swatted it up and down on the paper, jiggled it around, and generally had fun creating designs on the paper with the paint-covered yarn.
Other action painting ideas for making your own wrapping paper?
And, for more traditional DIY wrapping paper?
Any other ideas?
A new holiday dress, by special request, for Maia to wear to her school performance. Once again, I followed the quick and simple t-shirt dress idea, although this time the materials were more luxurious than usual. Both the top and skirt of the dress were repurposed from old clothes of mine -- a green cashmere turtleneck and a white double-layered silk skirt.
I cut off the neck and sleeves of the turtleneck (I can't stand the feel of turtlenecks), felted it, and, by some wonderful serendipity, it became the perfect size for Maia. I added the white silk skirt (cut down from mine) and embellished the neckline with a strip of of natural-colored felted wool and three white buttons.
Yes, she loves it.
We made another ice wreath, this one with the last of the purple and white alyssums. I like the look of the flowers suspended in the ice! I have a bouquet Harry brought home last week that I may use for our next ice wreath. And someone else said they were using orange slices -- sounds beautiful!
Maia's stuck on December 21st as the first day of winter. I tell her if I see white outside, it's winter. If I open the front door and have my breath taken away because of the bitter cold, it's winter. If we're on our fourth snow day of the school year, it's winter, darn it.
We tried making ice ornaments as well, with cranberries in muffin tins. They would have worked beautifully if we had remembered to put a loop of yarn or ribbon in to hang them up! Instead they are little ice hockey pucks to stack and play with and decorate our swing set. Cranberries float, so if I were to make them again, here's what I would do -- put just a little bit of water in with the cranberries in the muffin tin. Freeze them in place. Then add more water and a loop of yarn. Perhaps we'll give this another go today...
This is the second year we've made a gingerbread house, and considering how fun it is (and how enthusiastic Maia is about it), it won't be the last. I can see this becoming another yearly tradition for us. We used this recipe this time which worked well and made enough for the gingerbread house pieces plus plenty of gingerbread boys and girls to decorate. We worked on the house over three days -- one for mixing the dough (which should chill overnight), one for cutting out and baking the pieces, and one for assembling and decorating the house.
Maybe next year Daphne will help us decorate our gingerbread house. She LOVES to wear Maia's cooking apron and, of course, to be in the middle of everything we do. I'm thinking I need to sew her a mini version of Sew Liberated's Montessori child's apron for Christmas. Which, of course, means I need to get sewing. Now. I always see Christmas from way off, but every year it sneaks up on me just the same. I have so much I want to sew, but not so much time left.
Besides a pixie-sized apron for Daphne, there are a few other gifts I'd like to sew over the next couple of weeks if I can swing it.
Any other ideas? Are you doing any last minute holiday sewing and crafting?
Maia and I made our own paper maché wreath to hang indoors. It's sort of the Charlie Brown Christmas tree of the wreath world, but we love it and had fun making it!
We started by cutting a wreath shape from cardboard (We traced a large bowl for the outer perimeter and a smaller bowl for the inner to get the shape.) then spreading glue over the front.
Maia and I wadded up newspaper and stuck the balls of newspaper in the glue.
In preparation for doing the paper maché, we mixed our paste (1 cup flour, 2 cups water, 3 Tbsp salt, 1/2 cup glue) and tore newspaper strips.
We then covered the wreath form and newspaper balls with the newspaper strips dipped in paste.
After the paste dried, Maia and her friend Marlise painted the wreath using green and purple tempera paint and sprinkles of glitter.
And we hung the wreath on the chalkboard with Maia's "Merry Christmas", Daphne's scribbles, and my stars. It's held on with lots of double sided tape on the back which isn't working so well (it's already fallen down twice) so I think we'll hang it with a ribbon.
I'm loving our homemade decorations! We get to enjoy them twice -- first while making them and then while viewing them all around us.
Today I thought I'd share a few of the artful ideas I've found around the web recently.
I love this gingerbread house accordian book by Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord! We're in the process of making a real gingerbread house and I know that Maia would have fun making a paper version as well.
Take a look at these sweet little birdseed ornaments by The Magic Onions! We're definitely going to be making some soon to hang outside for the birds.
And here, beautiful ice lanterns by Ordinary Life Magic. Thanks to Jenny and Molly for sharing the link after I posted about our ice wreath.
I just read Dallas Clayton's new book, An Awesome Book of Thanks! It's as awesome as his first book, and you can read the whole thing for free online (which of course'll just make you want to go buy it).
And, last but not least, please go vote for MaryAnn Kohl! She is in the running for an amazing grant that would allow her to bring hands-on art to kids around the country who have no art programs in their schools. You can help her win by voting for her now and even every day for the rest of the month.
I thought I'd share a few photos today from around our house. I've been rearranging what we have on the walls and hanging some of the kids' artwork. Some I popped into frames, some I hung (or taped up) without framing. Here's the living room, above.
This oil pastel drawing by Maia is one of my favorites. It's hard to tell, but she wrote "house of color" across the middle. I just love it! And it feels like our colorful, somewhat jumbled house.
Here's that sun I commissioned, lighting up the bedroom wall. This space needs some work -- I realized halfway through that I have plenty of framed baby photos of Maia and none of Daphne. So it's on hold until I can rectify the situation.
See the two pieces at the top? They are portraits Maia drew of Harry and me with colored pencil.
Here's me, with my short hair, glasses, and dangly earrings.
And here's Harry with his stubble. Love it!
And here's a not-so-great photo of them framed. Anyway, there you go, a few glimpses around our house of color...