Paper mâché Easter eggs – an alternative to dyeing hard boiled eggs.

So since becoming vegan holidays have been a challenge. I’m not talking in the traditional food sense but just traditions in themselves. Buying pounds of butter for Christmas baking and buying dozens of eggs to dye for Easter…I was a vegetarian for 14 years prior to making the switch so I could always cut corners because “it’s not meat.”

Now….Easter is around the corner (for us it’s today because the little ones will be at their dad’s) and I needed a project that agreed with my new outlook (I’ll be honest I shudder to think of what I’ve consumed in the past).

Sorry, no soapboxes I swear.

I found this craft and it’s a really fun (and messy!) DIY paper mâché Easter “egg.”

For the most part it’s very easy and kids of all ages can participate (the “glue” is mostly flour and water).
Now, I need you to take “messy” and really make your peace with it. Seriously. If you have the kiddos in their “good clothes” and you’re one of those spic and span moms you’re going to want a tarp and gloves. I also doubled the recipe below because we had about 9-10 “eggs” to make

I am not a spic and span mom.

Let the festive mess begin!

You will need:
1 cup flour
2 cups water
1 pinch table salt
1 large mixing bowl
Balloons (I used 3″ balloons)
Tissue paper, cut into small strips (teacher supply stores sell the big craft packs for a couple of dollars in a bunch of different colors)
Mason jars or cups with small openings.

You can also grab some glitter, sequins, yarn etc for decorating. We used glitter. The herpes of the craft world. Don’t worry I do not divulge this nickname to the children.

Mix the flour, water, and salt in a bowl until smooth. Separate into several other bowls to cut down on the inevitable “my turn!”

Blow up a balloon until it is egg-shaped and the desired size.
Using your fingers (be prepared, it really does get messy), spread some flour mixture on the balloon. Dip strips of tissue paper one at a time into the mixture and lay flat across the balloon. Continue until you have covered the balloon completely. Repeat with 6 to 8 layers of tissue paper. You can smooth as you go.

On the final layer you ca use your patterned tissue paper, glitter, yarn, sequins, and string make to get fancy.

When you’re done put your “egg” on top of a cup. Let harden for 8 to 12 hours.
Pop the balloon using a pin and remove the deflated balloon.
Boom! A new “egg” tradition!

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We love, Love.

I know that a post about our Valentines day a full week later seems silly but our decorating idea (I thought) would be fun to do again for birthdays, a random Tuesday, anniversaries, a good report card etc etc.
Sooooo here we are!

We started the night before on February 13th by having friends over to celebrate a birthday but also to catch up and enjoy each other’s company. We sat around the fire pit laughing for a long time and after the little ones were in bed I worked on their present/decorations as the night went on (a fairly decent display of time management if I do say so myself).

Before we went to bed we grabbed the balloons (hiding stealthily in the car) and then set to decorating. Everything looked so festive and lovely I’ll admit it felt like Christmas. Here’s the “how to”. It’s super easy but a little guidance never hurt anyone right?

“With love” balloon decor

You’ll need
•construction paper in a color of your choice
•scissors
•metallic sharpies (or colored markers)
•small paper clips
•balloons filled with helium (quantity is up to you and you can pick either latex or Mylar) Dollar Tree and Party City sometimes have great deals.

Now. Assemble!

Step one: fold construction paper in half (unless you’re super talented and can cut your desired shape evenly proportioned). I made my heart shapes about the size of my hand. Make as many (or more) than the balloons you purchased.

Step two: take all of your cut outs and start writing your “I love you because…” On each one.

I wrote everything from
“I love your smile”
to
“I love the stories you tell me about your friends at school.”

Step three: use paper clips to affix the heart to the ribbon “tail” of the balloon.

Step four: If there are extras use them for additional decorations (windows, doors, mantel, etc)

The little mice loved it and while they didn’t tear around the room reading about how wonderful they are, I did catch them reading and smiling as each new one caught their eye.

I have seen similar projects using pictures and the effect is equally adorable. I would love to try that someday.

We lazed about all day, watching various Valentine Peanuts specials and concluded our day with a four course dinner at our favorite restaurant The Healthy Junk who had put together a beautiful candlelit setting that had our little ones especially impressed.

I must have heard “Which fork do I use?” At least four times.

After dinner we finally saw the Lego movie! It was very entertaining and as funny as I hoped it would be. Our youngest is still singing the theme song and it’s been DAYS.
I means DDDAAAYYYSSS.
“everything is awesome!”

All in all a day to celebrate not just romantic love but all forms of love is always an excellent idea. A feeling so warm and fuzzy that I’ve caught myself thinking of ways I could bring it to our everyday lives.

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Happy 2014!

This year the little mice didn’t want to go anywhere for our celebration. No parties, no amusement parks, no mountain tops, they just wanted to be at home. The only addition was a couple of friends to round out our night of relaxation, laughter, games and togetherness.

Just like any of our other Quiet Life Days I tried to shoot for one thing each of us wanted to do and carry it out.

The night is pretty self explanatory through pictures (I’m still in bed to be honest so we can all tell how much effort I’m putting in currently).

I had some work to tie up at the office yesterday morning so I was after a nice long bath after I came home, tidied up, put dinner in the oven and made some vegan brownies for munching on. Oh and flannel. I got all dressed up LAST New Years so this year it wanted to ring it in cozy. A bit self indulgent? yes.

By the way the bath bomb pictured is from Lush, one of my very favorite stores that excels in compassionate practices and products. The brownies are from an organic mix I picked up at Mothers Market and we just made em vegan by using flaxseed.

•Kap wanted to craft it up, sip sparkling cider and be with her family.
•Co wanted to yell outside.
Seriously. That’s it, haha.
•Brayden played video games and got to play a little bit of Monopoly (I’m not sure why he was after that game in particular but it was either that or Cards Against Humanity and that’s not small people appropriate).

Our friend also messed with his Go Pro which makes for pretty entertaining pictures and videos. It would be great to get one for our hiking adventures. In the meantime I see many silly antics in the future with that bit of technology and the big kids haha

We had a great time, a lot of laughs, and enjoyed being together in one of our favorite places, home.

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The easiest DIY ornaments ever

So in my last blog post

I mention trimming our tree with a collection of ornaments we’ve made ourselves (half of them we made ourselves the other half I think I got in a “guaranteed not to shatter” lot on eBay 10 years ago, we tend to break stuff)

Last year I had the bright idea of making ornaments only to discover they don’t fully dry right away see below for those. For this years project skip the paragraph below.

Here are the directions for clay ornaments:
•get air drying modeling clay from Michaels or any craft store.
•cut it out in circles (I used the top of a jar, like making biscuits), use a straw to make a whole in the top and stamp with something Christmas-y
•add hooks (which is another thing I forgot last year)

So we got to add last years project to THIS years tree.

Anyway, our DIY ornament making this year is terrifyingly simple.

•go to your craft store, spend $10-$15 on clear ball ornaments (you can buy glass or plastic, I got plastic because *all together now* “we break stuff”.
•go into your garden, your attic, your junk drawer, your craft box and pull out items or glitter or pictures you would like to see in your ornaments. Take of the top and put above mentioned objects in.
You can even go the extra mile and get spray adhesive, add glitter and shake for sparkly Christmas madness.
•We went the garden way. Kap and I went and chopped some lavender and stuck a long sprig, a short and a medium inside and then popped the top back on.

Boom! Christmas-ed!

Afterword: We had a smidge of condensation on the inside of the ornament the next day but it was dissipated by this morning. I think keeping “living bits” inside it’s a good idea to maybe keep them small and airy.

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It’s not a huge surprise that we love Christmas. Or maybe more accurately my family likes Christmas and I in turn eat, sleep, breathe, hear and feel nothing but the holiday from Thanksgiving night till New Year’s Day.

Background: in the past we have always had a gloriously fake tree. In fact for the last maybe 9 years I had a white tree, white lights, silver tone ornaments and white garland. I was the mom that rearranged the ornaments after the kids “helped” and went to bed.
I know, I know….

this year is different.

This year we decided to change it up and I’m positively smitten.

It started with my friends “nightmare tree” https://pollyannacomplex.wordpress.com/tag/nightmare-before-christmas/ and I have always wanted to go and walk through a forest of pine to choose a Christmas tree.
So this morning we piled into the car and with Christmas carols blaring we headed out to pick and “cut” our own Christmas tree. I say “cut” because actually chopping down your own tree is a liability at most places (which is fine with me. I’m one of those annoying people that think all of the trees have feelings and simultaneously want to take them all home and leave them all to grow 100 feet tall forever and ever). So someone else doing the dirty work while I get to tromp through acres of gorgeous smelling Monterey pine is fine with me.

I decided on Richfield Pines http://richfieldpines.com they seemed far less commercial than other “cut your own” locations (there’s only about three around here), were less expensive ($8 a foot if I recall) and family owned and operated.

Driving up we were immediately greeted with a big smile and given a run down of how everything works. At first glance I was a little disappointed because it didn’t look like the “get lost and find your tree experience”. Then the lovely gal that greeted us said “if you’re up for a little hike there are 6 acres to choose from as well”. Music to my ears! A small hike (it’s more of an uphill stroll for those concerned) and I get to experience that age old accomplishment of picking out my own tree!

Co was IMMEDIATELY enthralled. He must have said “it’s smells SO good!” at least 8 times. Kap kept getting wistfully teary and started picking the sour grass flowers and walking between the branches. Brayden was in charge of the measuring portion, a long pole with the feet marked clearly so you know what you’re getting into. For the hour it took to find our tree we were in heaven.

The trees vary in shape, size, fullness and greenery but they are all the same kind of tree, Monterey Pine. A fact I appreciated considering noble firs don’t exactly grow in California. If you buy a noble fir and it says “fresh cut” be aware it probably isn’t so fresh….

We ended up choosing a tree that we had seen in the VERY beginning but came back to. It has gorgeous shades of green with new and old growth, naturally misshapen and most importantly we all loved it.

Dustin cut it down for us, hauled it and tied it to our car and even helped us pick out some of the boughs they have available for free. He gave us pointers on ways to utilize them and was incredibly helpful and nice (a HUGE plus in my book).

We had the best time and left infinitely more in the holiday spirit and official converts to the cut Christmas tree as well as customers for life at Richfield.

We came home and decorated our tree enjoying the epic scents in our home and hung our DIY ornaments. Instructions for those will be in my next post.

Hope you all are enjoying your holidays as much as we are!

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