Archive for the ‘Crafts & Celebrations’ Category

Free Printable Advent Calendar

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

Free Printable Advent Calendar from MomAdvice.com

From our graphic designer, MJ at pars caeli

Advent calendars are just the cutest, right? That is–until you have to fill/create/arrange them! This year we’re going simple with our countdown to Christmas, and we want to make it easier for you, too, with a printable calendar. It’s an Advent Calendar needs just to be cut, folded, and glued. Fist bump. You can even have the kids create it.

The days leading up to Christmas are both magical and hectic! We have Christmas performances and charitable shopping, Santa’s gifting and work parties galore. I didn’t want our Advent countdown to be another process on the list so we put together something light and fun.

Free Printable Advent Calendar from MomAdvice.com

 

How about Christmas trivia?! We watch Jeopardy around our house (with three kids, twelve and under), and a countdown with trivia seemed like a natural way to learn more and to laugh together as we get nearer to the 25th.

We put together twenty-five trivial (some are pretty ridiculous) questions about Christmas traditions, songs, and movies for the whole family. In fact, this calendar would be great to put next to the coffee pot at work or as a runner across the dinner table. My kids have been talking about these questions more than I imagined (“what’s your favorite Christmas song?” and “remember that time we saw…”). Our holiday experiences can be easy entryways to new conversations and insights.

To create your calendar, you need:

Paper (we chose craft paper for the outside, but you can do all white, too)

Scissors

Tape

Glue stick

A straight edge or ruler

Our printable calendar

Free Printable Advent Calendar from MomAdvice.com

STEP ONE: Print out the numbers and trivia questions. Set the trivia questions aside for now. To cut your numbers, slice the page first vertically and then horizontally, creating four pieces. You’ll then cut those four piece vertically, to make equal-sized pieces of paper.

STEP TWO: Each number paper has light gray dotted lines to show where they should be folded. With a ruler or straight edge, fold crisply along that line as indicated in two places. Once you’ve made the folds, ben them the opposite direction to create a folded piece with the number on the front and a flap on the top.

STEP THREE: Take the trivia questions back out. Cut those along the dotted edges. Glue the questions into the inside of the numbered papers. These are not numbered so they can go in any day. We put ours in randomly.There’s a question for every day from December 1 through the 25.

Free Printable Advent Calendar from MomAdvice.com

STEP FOUR: Refold the bottom and then the top flap of the numbered rectangle over top of the trivia question (we don’t want anyone peeking until the right day!). You’ll want to seal the flap shut. You can do this with glue or tape. We opted to cut up some adhesive labels into tiny strips so that we could peel back the flaps without destroying the overall calendar.

Free Printable Advent Calendar from MomAdvice.com

That’s it! Attach the questions to a ribbon and hang on the side of your fridge. Or tape them to a pantry door in the shape of a tree! Or (super simple) keep calendar days in a bowl on your dinner table, and pull one out every day. You might find yourselves amazed by how many presents you’d get if you received all of them from the 12 Days of Christmas or laughing about what the word mistletoe really means!! (Oh, I’ve said too much. You have to wait to open that day!)

Happy Christmas countdown from our family to yours!! Wishing you a simply joyful holiday.

Xoxo,

MJ

Free Printable Advent Calendar from MomAdvice.com

Grab Your Free Advent Calendar Printables!

Click Here for Advent Numbers Printable

Click Here for Trivia Sheet Printable

Scrappy Fabric Trees in Just 15 Minutes

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

Scrappy Fabric Trees in Just 15 Minutes from MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

I love adding a few homemade touches to our home each year for the holidays and especially those items that can be repurposed in a variety of ways.  For example, one year for Valentine’s Day I made a festive tree from cupcake liners and it got lots of love during that season. Perhaps, a bit TOO MUCH love (ahem!) as they began to wilt and wrinkle.  The beauty in that project though,  and in today’s project,  is that the materials were pinned to the same styrofoam base which allows you the opportunity to reuse this same tree year after year in brand new ways.

I wanted to create some festive holiday fabric trees to fill an empty space in one of our corners so I created this easy 15-minute fabric tree that is so simple that you could have your kids even do it for a holiday craft.  I just know you are going to love these fabric trees as much as I do and I’m really loving the finishing touches on this one with a fabric pom-pom and a touch of shimmer on the edges.

How to Make a Scrappy Fabric Tree

Scrappy Fabric Trees in Just 15 Minutes from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed (all of these supplies can be found at Walmart!)

2 kinds of Waverly Inspirations Fabric in coordinating fabrics (I used the 100% cotton duck fabric available at the store)- this craft does not require a lot of fabric so even 1/4 yard should be plenty!

Small or Large Clover Pom Pom Maker (I used the large option for my trees)

Styrofoam Cones (any size!)

Straight Pins

Waverly Glitter Paint (in stores)

Paint Brush

Directions for Scrappy Fabric Trees

Scrappy Fabric Trees in Just 15 Minutes from MomAdvice.com

1. Begin by cutting into the long-side of your fabric by an inch or an inch and half. Once you have your cut, begin pulling the fabric with your own bare hands (ROAR!!! TAKE OUT THOSE HOLIDAY FRUSTRATIONS HERE AND IMPRESS YOUR KIDS WITH YOUR HULK STRENGTH!) and ripping it all the way down until this strip of fabric is completely separated from the fabric. If you have any loose strings (and you will!) pull them off the strip before beginning the next step.

2. Take this strip and pin it along the bottom edge of the cone to cover the styrofoam core.

3. With the remainder of your fabric strip, begin cutting notches into it, as evenly as possible, as I have shown above in the picture. Do this down the entire length of your fabric.

4. Starting at the very bottom, and layering over that first layer we laid, begin wrapping the tree, cutting once it has met the other side, and pinning into place.

Scrappy Fabric Trees in Just 15 Minutes from MomAdvice.com

4. Continue doing this layering over each layer to cover those pins and also staggering the pieces so that each layer has a little leaf peeking through. Do this until you get to almost the top of the tree. You may need to cut and repeat this process again if you have run out of material to work with. REPEAT HULK MOVES.

5. Once you get close to the top of tree, rip another strip of fabric and use that to cover the top of the tree as I have shown you in the picture. You want to criss-cross the material so that you don’t have any of that styrofoam cone showing. Now wrap more of your layers over that to disguise the pins and to continue the ruffling on the tree.

6. In your other fabric, tear a 1/2″ strip just as you did with the tree, but this time we are going to be making a pom-pom out of it. If you have not used the Clover Pom-Pom Maker before you are going to love it. It’s very easy to use and I have a great step-by-step tutorial if you are new to pom-pom making. When making this, take care to not wrap numerous times or get the material so thick that you are unable to cut it. Just a nice even layer down each side should work. Cut the pom pom out and then use another fabric strip to tie it tight to secure.

Scrappy Fabric Trees in Just 15 Minutes from MomAdvice.com

7. Pin your pom-pm to the top and check to see if you need one more layer underneath to complete the tree. I liked adding just one more ruffle to finish.

8. Using your Waverly glitter paint and a tiny paintbrush, dip the paintbrush in the glitter paint and paint just the edges of the torn fabric on the pom-pom and on the tree to add a finishing shimmer.

Scrappy Fabric Trees in Just 15 Minutes from MomAdvice.com

Scrappy Fabric Trees in Just 15 Minutes from MomAdvice.com

Why make one when you can make three?

I’m in love!

The best part is that you can switch these materials out with the seasons and make this same object look different from season to season. Who knows? You just might see these out again around Valentine’s Day with a brand new look on the site!

Do you want more craft inspiration from Waverly? Try these!

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions

Fabric Wreath & Matching Garland

Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

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DIY Ottoman Serving Tray

Monday, November 14th, 2016

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray from MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

The holidays are upon us and with that means lots of entertaining. I frequently host large holiday and family meals, but our home lacks the space to always seat everyone at the same table. I thought a DIY was in order to transform a neglected ottoman in our home into an additional table for our guests. This DIY Ottoman Serving Tray craft is easy to do and a great way to make the most of one of those storage ottomans that many of us have in our home. Sandwiched between two chairs, guests have a place to prop their drinks or the ottoman can be placed in front of a guest like a television tray would.

Table for one or two? Right this way!

How to Make a DIY Ottoman Serving Tray

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed (all of these supplies can be found at Walmart!)

2 kinds of Waverly Inspirations Fabric in coordinating fabrics (I used the 100% cotton duck fabric available at the store)- measure your ottoman to get the correct amount of fabric

Upholstery Stapler

Upholstery Staples

Hot Glue Gun

Hot Glue Sticks

Scissors

10x13 Diploma Frame

Waverly Chalk Paint

Paint Brush

1 1/2 Waverly Ribbon (I needed 3 yards, but it will depend upon your ottoman sizing)

2 drawer pulls

Note- Please ignore the Command Strips- that didn’t work out so well! Always an experiment- ha!

Directions for DIY Ottoman Serving Tray

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray from MomAdvice.com DIY Ottoman Serving Tray from MomAdvice.com DIY Ottoman Serving Tray from MomAdvice.com

Just a few weeks after purchasing this ottoman, my daughter came to tell me that she had found the perfect “fairy wand holder,” in our living room. Proudly, she showed a wand standing straight to attention in the top of our brand new ottoman.

It became a regular joke when buying furniture, after that moment, to ask the salespeople things like, “Do you have any insurance to protect this couch if your child STABS IT? I mean, just takes something and plunges it through?!”

Oh, the fear and bewilderment in their eyes.

They clearly do not have children and we have learned, moving forward, that furniture insurance is worth its weight in gold.

Now that my daughter is ten, I’m both 1) embarassed that I have thought of repairing this for ten years, but did not do anything and 2) a little misty-eyed covering up our fairy wand days. They grow up so fast!

There are ottomans now that can be bought with a built-in tray, but what if you already bought one and want to make the most of it? This DIY is for you!

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray from MomAdvice.com

1. Begin by removing any hardware on the bottom of the top of your ottoman and any buttons from the top. Using this as a guide, cut a piece of fabric, making sure to give room around each side for covering and stapling.

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray from MomAdvice.com

2. Folding under the raw edge of the fabric, begin stapling the fabric down the two shorter sides. Two words- PULL TIGHT. You want a nice smooth surface and no loose fabric. Folding the corners like a package, repeat the process on the two longer sides.

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray from MomAdvice.com

3. Remove the glass and any materials inside the diploma frame. We are using this type of frame because it is very lightweight and has no hardware on the back. Using a paint brush, paint the entire frame in chalk paint and let dry. Repeat with one more additional coat.

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray from MomAdvice.com

4. To give the ottoman a clean finish, grab your ribbon and outline the bottom of the stapled fabric, folding down the raw edges with a dab of glue, and hot gluing this ribbon all the way down the four sides. This helps cover up the majority of the bottom when the tray is mounted on top.

5. Using the paper from inside your frame as a guide, cut your second fabric to size and then tuck inside the frame.

6. Hot glue drawer handles on the top of the frame to finish.

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray from MomAdvice.com

DIY Ottoman Serving Tray from MomAdvice.com

How cute is that? The perfect tabletop for your guests! Store the tray on the inside of the storage ottoman and place the top back on as you usually would. With this small addition it’s like you have a brand new table!

Do you want more craft inspiration from Waverly? Try these!

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions

Fabric Wreath & Matching Garland

Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

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Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey

Monday, November 7th, 2016

Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey from MomAdvice.com This post is sponsored by Honeysuckle White. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

For many years I have been dreaming about creating a Thanksgiving turkey that could be prepared in the slow cooker. I have a small kitchen and my oven doesn’t offer a lot of room for multiple dishes so my frustrations often mount when it is time to figure out timing of the bird and all the sides. If you are struggling too, I have come up with a slow cooker Thanksgiving turkey that looks beautiful AND saves you some space in the oven.

I’m partnering this year with Honeysuckle White and, believe me, it isn’t a stretch at all. Our bird every year has been from their company because it always cooks up beautifully. I was so excited to give my dream of slow cooking a bird a spin and wanted to share with you how I did that.

Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey from MomAdvice.com Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey from MomAdvice.com

As you can see from these early morning shots, I got this started first thing in the morning so that it would be ready for our dinner hour. You are going to want to aim for an eight to nine pound bird to make sure that it can fit into your slow cooker. The slow cooker that I have is called the Ninja Cooker. Since we are finishing the bird in the oven to give it a golden skin, I love that I can just pop this insert right into the oven without transferring the bird.

One year I did a beautiful turkey using Ina Garten’s herb roasted turkey breast recipe and our family absolutely loved it. I wanted to recreate that delicious flavoring, packed with fresh herbs while swimming in wine, and make it using the slow cooker method.

Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey from MomAdvice.com   Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey from MomAdvice.com   Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey from MomAdvice.com

I am not flashy with my turkey and usually have it already sliced before our guests arrive, but I know that many love to have a beautiful golden bird to carve right by the table. Maybe I saw National Lampoon’s turkey scene too many times and that may be why I am so scared.

Anyone else?

Rest assured, a slow cooker bird can still be beautifully displayed and you can even achieve a golden skin. As I’ve gotten more familiar with pressure cooking, it has opened my eyes that it is possible to start something in your gadgets and finish it somewhere else. The slow cooker turkey can be started in the slow cooker and finished under your broiler, but WATCH CAREFULLY. I found that it needed to be moved around quite a bit as it broiled to achieve an even color and to avoid burning the skin.

Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey from MomAdvice.com

Although I have always loved the flavor of the Honeysuckle White Bird, I am ashamed to say that I did not know very much about their company until I had the opportunity to work with them.  I know that knowing where our food comes from is such an important thing and that’s why it’s good to know some of their business practices better. Honeysuckle White turkeys are raised on 700 independent family farms by farmers trained on animal handling practices that meet or exceed industry standards.  They even have a spot on their site where you can virtually meet the farmers- how cool is that?

They also realize that good quality food shouldn’t cost a fortune and believe everyone should be able to access it. They try to offer their products at a price point that would be comparable to other products, but with higher quality standards.

I hope this post inspires you to give slow cooking your Thanksgiving turkey a try this year and to look for a Honeysuckle White turkey (available in most states) or for the Shady Brook Farms turkeys, Honeysuckle White’s sister brand, available over on the East coast.

Don’t forget to visit this post to find out how to make ALL your side dishes ahead for your Thanksgiving feast

Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey from MomAdvice.com

Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey from MomAdvice.com

Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Honeysuckle White whole bone-in turkey, 8-9 pounds
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (5 cloves)
  • 4 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, mustard, herbs, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice to make a paste. Loosen the skin from the meat gently with your fingers and smear half of the paste directly on the meat. Spread the remaining paste evenly on the skin. Pour the wine into the bottom of your slow cooker.
  2. Place the turkey carefully over the wine and cook on LOW for 5-7 hours. The turkey has a pop-up timer on it that you can watch for gauging when the turkey is done. Turkey is done when breast meat is 165˚ F and dark meat is 175˚ F.
  3. Once the turkey is done, remove and put in an oven-safe dish (unless your slow cooker insert is oven-safe). Broil under your broiler for 3-5 minutes, watching the turkey carefully to make sure not to burn the skin.
  4. When the turkey is done, cover with foil and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Slice and serve with the pan juices spooned over the turkey.

This post is sponsored by Honeysuckle White. All thoughts and opinions are my own!

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DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers from MomAdvice.com

 

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

One of my favorite gifts I have ever received was a rice pillow that was handmade by my mother-in-law. Rice is such a surprisingly incredible conductor of heat and I loved that this gift could be reheated in the microwave to be used over and over again for warmth and comfort for all of life’s aches and pains. For today’s craft project, I wanted to create mini rice warmers perfect for keeping in your pocket for chilly days. Per usual, this project is completely no-sew (mic drop!) so you don’t even need to have a sewing machine to make these DIY hand warmers.

Since Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I wanted to create an easy hostess gift that would be perfect for sharing to thank someone for their hospitality. Not only do these diy no-sew hand warmers make a perfect gift, they also add beauty to your home when displayed in a pretty bowl!

How to Make DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers

Rice can be a little pokey if it is sandwiched between thin fabric so these no-sew hand warmers are being made with a heavier home decorator fabric from the Waverly Inspirations line. Using this saves time cutting because these little hand warmers don’t need an interior lining. Thanks to this thick fabric, it also makes it far easier to pull together with our hemming tape.

diy-no-sew-pocket-warmers

Supplies Needed (all of these supplies can be found at Walmart!)

Waverly Inspirations Fabric (I used the 100% cotton duck fabric available at the store)- each hand warmer needs two 5×5″ pieces

Hemming Tape and (optional) fabric glue

Cardstock for Template

Iron & Ironing Board

Rice

Funnel

Measuring Cup

Fabric Rotary Cutter (or you can use scissors)

Rotary Mat

Pinking Shears

Waverly Inspirations Ribbon

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

Directions for No-Sew Hand Warmers

1. Using cardboard or heavy-duty card stock, cut a 5×5″ template for cutting your fabric squares. Using this as your guide, begin cutting two squares for each each hand warmer. You will need four squares for each set. Don’t be afraid to mix and match fabrics, using different fabrics for each side.

2. With the print side facing OUT, line the almost the entire square with the hemming tape, leaving a small opening for your funnel to pour your rice in. Place the second fabric square on top (again, print side facing OUT), and iron the square on both sides, until the pocket has sealed.

3. Using a funnel, funnel in a 1/2 cup of rice into the pocket. Once all the rice has been added, take a small piece of hemming tape and put it in the hole that has been left open or you can finish with a dab of fabric glue to seal. Carefully iron it shut and then shake the pocket over a bowl to make sure all sides have been sealed.

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

4. Finish by trimming the hand warmer with pinking shears to give it a finished edge. If giving as a gift, tie these with pretty ribbon for packaging.

5. To use these hand warmers, simply heat these for 30 seconds in your microwave. Tuck these in your pockets to help warm those hands in the colder months.

 

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers from MomAdvice.com

This craft takes about fifteen minutes which is just about how much time I have to craft these days! We love these so much and they also happen to be fantastic for my kids as they head down to the bus stop. I love that they can be used over and over again and that these attractive fabric choices make such a pretty display in our home!  I have them nestled next to my new tea organizer for a little warming station from the cold- how cute is that?

I also thought these would be such a great addition for carrying around in my no-sew hidden pocket scarf. If you haven’t caught that tutorial yet, it is probably my proudest craft moment this year!

Happy crafting, friends!

DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers from MomAdvice.com

Do you want more craft inspiration from Waverly? Try these!

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions

Fabric Wreath & Matching Garland

Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

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Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 29th, 2016

Stranger Things Couple's Costume

We hope you have a wonderful Halloween! I can’t tell you how much I love dressing up for Halloween with this guy, but I feel like this year wins all the years. We are a bit Stranger Things obsessed this year so this costume was so much fun to put together. If you haven’t dove into the series, may this costume inspire you to look into this show. You will not regret it!

Barb, Stranger Things

We didn’t want to be basic with this costume (it was swinging in that direction after all my traveling) so Ryan suggested that he go as Barb.

Maybe you don’t remember Barb. No one seemed to care about her. She was the fallen hero in this show. Everyone is crying over Will and poor Barb goes missing and no one hardly notices.

Barb Missing

Barb Missing

My husband put together a Barb costume that made me laugh all evening long. He actually designed a Trapper Keeper cover for an old binder and we blouse shopped for DAYS to get the right ruffled blouse. An old pair of jeans for snow plowing made the perfect “mom jeans” and he snagged some glasses on Amazon for his look.

My old Thelma & Louise wig from a Halloween past (doesn’t everyone have an entire bin of wigs laying around in their house?) was hacked down to a Barb length.

In short, he NAILED IT!

Eleven, Stranger Things

Eleven, Stranger Things

Eleven, Stranger Things

Eleven’s dress was almost impossible to find. We walked the malls for days, found a poor substitute for a dress, and sat down in the food court with our kids to tell them about our terrible luck. That is when Emily (who has NEVER SEEN THE SHOW, but I am sure has photographic memory) said that she thought she saw the dress we were after in Hot Topic while her and her brother were shopping.

After we got over the shock that our kids were walking around Hot Topic while we were dress shopping, we ran into the store and she was absolutely right.

It was the real Eleven dress.

I borrowed her blue rain jacket, we sprung for another wig for the wig box, bought some waffles, and I rocked my husband’s socks and a pair of sneakers.

We both debated on the blood and leeches bit. You totally could do that too!

I hope you will indulge me and let me reminisce about our other couple’s costumes for a bit…

Mary Poppins & Burt

Mary Poppins

Where's Waldo & Carmen San Diego

Glee Halloween Costume

Glee Halloween Costume

Glee Halloween Costume

'50's costume night Marilyn Monroe Costume

Vikings

 

I know. SO. MUCH. FUN!

halloween-stranger-things-costume

Every year is my favorite year and this is no exception. I hope you have a fun Halloween!!

And if you need a good laugh, here is a video for you. If you were wondering, this was my first glass of wine. Can you just imagine how much my dancing improved after that? :)

xoxo

 

 

 

3 Ways to Encourage Creativity in Our Kids

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

3 Ways to Encourage Creativity in Our Kids from MomAdvice.com

We’ve been practicing a lot of basic math facts at our house this month. My older daughter has lost that loving feeling for math (a subject she’s run hot and cold on throughout elementary school), despite my repeated declarations that math is everywhere! and yes, she really WILL use this in real life! And somehow, between second and third grade, she’s apparently forgotten all the subtraction facts she memorized last year.

So it’s been pop quizzes over dinner, practice tests after karate, and flashcards in the car for us. Because I’ve read what feels like a million articles about the importance of emphasizing STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math) with our kids — and especially our girls. It’s why I’ve enrolled my daughter in science and robotics classes the past few summers and why we have engineering blocks and doll sets stacked up in her room.

But it’s also why we play dress-up and pretend at our house (and why she also goes to theater camp every summer). I’m no researcher or education professional, but as far as I can tell, having the ability to think creatively is just as important to school (and life) success as memorizing facts.

As I watched my daughter try to figure out another math problem on the worksheet her teacher sent home one night, I realized she was so frustrated and confused that she wasn’t even using common sense. In a bit of a fit, I grabbed her most recent timed test and flipped it over. I drew a tic tac toe board, a carton of eggs, and a hand. “That’s nine!” I exclaimed. “And twelve! And FIVE! You KNOW five!”

My daughter had gotten so worked up, her brain had frozen. She had stopped using common sense or thinking creatively — two things that are crucial for solving any problem! (And, to be fair, I had neglected to help her with math up to this point because she is being taught in a totally different way than I was taught three decades ago. Whether or not I like this “new math,” I respect her teacher and was afraid of confusing my daughter even more with my lack of understanding of the strategies she’s being taught.)

Since that homework session, I’ve bought flash cards and begun reviewing math facts with my daughter on a regular basis. I’ve taken time to read the worksheets she brings home, in an effort to understand the way her teacher approaches math. But I’ve also looked for opportunities to encourage problem solving, to think outside the box, to help my daughter use common sense to figure out something new. It’s reminded me of the importance of creativity and the things we can do to encourage it in our kids.

As I said before, I am no expert. I have not conducted research. I’m merely a mom who’s connected a few dots for what her two kids need as they learn and grow. Perhaps creative thinking isn’t the missing piece for your kids. But if it is, here are a few easy, fun ways you can encourage it:

3 Ways to Encourage Creativity in Our Kids from MomAdvice.com

3 Ways to Encourage Creativity in Our Kids

Play dress-up. I’m a girl mom, so you will probably not be surprised to learn that we have princess dresses and a Minnie Mouse costume in our house. But we also have costumes that turn my girls into firefighters, chefs, doctors and veterinarians. Not to mention the animal hats and clown noses floating around in the toy box. And, really, anything laying around can be used for dressing up.

My girls’ current obsession is running around the house, rescuing each other, while wearing capes. Or putting on Dad’s hat or Mom’s shoes and pretending to be a grown-up.

When I first began encouraging my oldest daughter to play dress-up, it was solely a girl power, “you can be anything you want to be” thing. But eventually I realized the additional value of this playtime activity. Simply by asking a few pointed questions, I can set my girls on a journey of learning and perspective-shifting.

“What would a doctor want for snack?”
“How would a princess pick up her toys?”
“Do you think a firefighter would like to wear these shoes or those shoes?”

Thinking outside the box, developing empathy for others, learning about different types of people (not just different careers, although that’s a place to start): all of these can be outcomes of a simple costume party.

Play pretend. Last night, my two-year-old left the dinner table (we were mostly finished and just talking for a minute). She walked over to her play kitchen and then came back, saying, “I need the pink screwdriver.” I stared blankly at her for a moment before realizing what we were doing. I mimed handing her a tool and said, “Here you go!” She thanked me and ran back to her toys.

She has a giant basket of toy food and toy dishes in that kitchen, but she wanted to play mechanic. She actually has a play toolkit in our basement, but she’d rather use make-believe tools for her projects.

And so, just like the days when her sister would lay under our dining room table and pretend to “work on the car,” I play along. When she hands me a plate of that play food and tells me it’s hot, I put it up to my mouth and act like I burned my tongue. I take tiny sips and big gulps of the “tea” she serves me, and I make up scary spiders I need to be saved from so “Super Adrienne” has a reason to run to my rescue.

I sometimes think about that scene in Hook, the Robin Williams movie about a grown-up Peter Pan, when Peter and the Lost Boys get into a pretend food fight. No, I don’t think that pretending her imaginary pink screwdriver is real will make it appear in my daughter’s hands. But I do think that when we pretend we expand our minds and our world so that more is possible than would ever be in real life.

That’s fun — and it also helps us think creatively later when we’re trying to solve problems that seem impossible.

Don’t forget to say, “Yes, and…” Using the most basic rule of improv, whenever I can I try to say, “Yes, and…” when my girls play dress-up or pretend. By extending the pretend game or story, I encourage their imaginations to run wild and their brains to keep growing. [You can read more about this strategy here.]

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not always game for imaginary friends or pretend games. For the past several days my oldest daughter has been carrying on a game of “balloon ball,” a highly competitive [made-up] sport of which she is, reportedly, the world champion. I love seeing her creativity and confidence, but OH MY WORD am I ever tired of listening to her drone on with the play-by-play of this pretend game!

So, even though I love pretend and dress-up and all things imaginary, I have my limits, too. So I say yes when I can, and then I pull out the flashcards or a basket of books when I can’t stand it anymore.

How do you encourage creativity in your kids?

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

This post is sponsored by Ever. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

There is a lot of pressure, as a mom, to capture all of these precious moments that we get to experience with our kids. I am never without my phone for this very reason. Today’s craft is something I have had brewing in my head for years, but didn’t think I could easily execute it. I am so excited because I’m showing off an EASY DIY no-sew scarf that you can create that has a hidden pocket so you have your phone with you at all times.  Since I am constantly taking pictures of my kids, I love having the Ever app for all of those moments!

 

Not only am I showing off this scarf, but I’m also showing off this INCREDIBLE (and I mean it!!) phone app called Ever that you can use to backup all your photos, saving you precious room on your phone so you never get that pesky message that forces you to remove so many of those special memories.

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

Let me explain a little bit about Ever and why you should be using it!  This app automatically (and securely) collects and organizes your photos and videos from everywhere they live. You may not realize how many places you are taking photos, but Ever does. It grabs all the photos from your camera roll, social media accounts, emails, and texts then catalogs them for you in the correct order so you can quickly make photo albums in just minutes. The best part is that it keeps all my photos safe and encrypted so that I can rest knowing that my family’s  meaningful moments are only for me!  

This year I decided to get an iPhone with less storage because I thought it would help hold me more accountable to deleting and only keeping what is precious on my phone. My minimalist attitude makes me feel passionately about things like this, but I quickly realized the error of my minimalist ways.

I constantly had messages that the storage was full and then I would have a daily Sophie’s Choice moment where I was forced to choose the images that were most precious.

It’s no way to live, friends.

Ever iPhone App

 

When Ever reached out, I couldn’t believe how much one app could help my life so much. No more warnings and  tough decisions on what to keep because this app automatically frees space on your phone and backs up all those precious moments so you don’t have to.

Ever is also like hiring a personal organizer who can make sense of all your visual clutter and package it up in a way that finally makes sense.  I, honestly, never make the time to sort and organize photos, but this app is intuitive enough that it can do it for you automatically. No more excuses to not share those memories with grandma now that Ever is doing the hard part.

It also makes adorable albums that allow you to time travel and reminiscent about the good ol’ days with your kiddos.

Ever iPhone App

Oh, and did I mention that the app is FREE? Yup, unlimited free storage with security for all of your precious photos.

Dang, that’s a lot cheaper than buying an iPhone with more storage.

I might be able to help my kids with tuition after all!

For those of you who want your pictures backed up in full resolution, Ever Plus is also available by monthly subscription for $9.99 — or you can use their optional referral program to earn free credits for this full-res storage by sending invitations to your friends. Not to worry though, you can use all the other features without signing up for Ever Plus, thanks Ever!

Ever iPhone App

Please download the app right now- it’s a game-changer for sharing, printing, and storing all of those sweet memories. I promise you won’t regret it! I know I’m looking forward to our upcoming holiday even more because I can make an album of all our memories so quickly and easily. No more excuses for not getting these printed!

In honor of this app, today’s DIY is a scarf that offers a hidden pocket so you never miss (or lose) a photo opportunity again!

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed

2 yards knit sweatshirt material (you need the material to be thick enough to hide the pocket! This price is EXCELLENT- I paid $10 a yard at my local craft store)

1-2 yards tassel trim (I find the most affordable trims over here)

Coin Purse large enough to hold your phone (this is the style I purchased. As you can see, the bottom is not completely flat, but it was the ideal size for my phone), alternatively you could purchase an all purpose zipper and craft a pocket out of the scraps from your scarf

Hemming Tape- 1 roll is plenty!!

Scissors or Rotary Cutter

Tape Measure

Thread to match material

Your Favorite Scarf as a Guide For Width & Length

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

Directions

1. First, find your favorite scarf in your closet and use this as a guide for the length and width of your scarf. The reason I am not telling you my scarf length is because I am a wee woman and my favorite scarf length might look silly on you. Do note that the width does need to be wide enough to completely hide that pocket. I actually love a wide  scarf that mimics the coziness of my favorite blanket scarves so I made mine very generous in width- it’s so wide that it can almost double as a shawl.  Cut the material to the same width and length, doubling up the fabric so that you have two pieces that are exactly the same size.

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

2. Take the two pieces of material and have the pretty side facing each other so the ugly side of the fabric is on the outside of both pieces.

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

3. Between these two pieces, you are going to be lining up your hemming tape. Use your wallet as a guide for where to start and stop the hemming tape, on one side, making sure that you have a little edge of the fabric above it (like I have show in the first picture) so you can fold it in a bit to support that pocket.

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

4. Use your iron to iron the whole side of the scarf, taking your time so that you can make sure you have a good seal on the fabric. Repeat this process on the other side, but make sure to run the hemming tape all down it, unlike the other side where we made a space for our pocket. This takes time so be patient. This material is a little thick so you may need to go over it a few times to seal it fully.

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

5. Flip the scarf out and then, slip the wallet inside. You are going to need to fold that hem back a bit to line up with where the hemming tape was so you don’t have a raw edge hanging out. Using a needle and thread stitch it into the material (I know I said NO SEW, but we do want that pocket in there nicely. Alternatively, you could try fabric glue, but I think it won’t be as secure!).

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

6. Fold in the rough edges of the scarf and slip a strip of hemming tape between these two folded sides. Take your time and seal this to finish the construction of the scarf.

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

7. Finish with a strip of trim on the front of the scarf (make sure you know where your pocket is before you are adding the trim). I am only trimming the front of the scarf so I can remember where my pocket is! You can definitely add more trim all the way around or anywhere else you would like to trim it. If you have a grosgrain trim like I do, take a lighter and pass it quickly over the two sides of the ends of your trim to seal both sides so it doesn’t come unraveled. Another alternative for sealing the edges is a little fray check- I’ll let you pick! To finish,  I slipped hemming tape under the trim and then used this, once again, to secure it by ironing it in place. Repeat on the other side of the scarf.

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

No-Sew Scarf With Hidden Pocket from MomAdvice.com

I am already dreaming up ways that I can make these for holiday gifts for others and no one will ever know that I didn’t whip out a sewing machine for this craft. Wouldn’t this be such a great gift even for your kiddos to tuck their hat and gloves in? I’m thinking of pairing one of these for my daughter with knitted ear warmers for the pocket. It could even be made more masculine in a beautiful plaid fabric, just like my DIY blanket scarves, for the men in your life.

Honestly, I can’t think of anyone who couldn’t use a scarf with a pocket. Can you?

I hope you find today’s DIY inspiring and I hope you also have a blast getting those photos organized, backed-up, and printed for your family this year, thanks to Ever.

This post is sponsored by Ever. All thoughts and opinions are my own! This post contains affiliate links that help support our website- thank you! 

 

 

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How to Enjoy Autumn to the Fullest

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

Tips to Enjoy Autumn at MomAdvice.com

Every year, as I sprint (or limp, depending on the year) toward Labor Day and long for routine and cooler temperatures and colorful leaves and pumpkin everything, I vow that this will be the year I really enjoy fall. Summer is, quite simply, not my favorite season — but my reward for surviving it each year is autumn. So you’d think I would enjoy it, right?

Ahhhhh, autumn.

Brisk air and comfy sweaters and crunchy leaves and hot drinks and apple picking and pumpkin carving. Autumn, the season of change and preparation as we gently roll toward the holidays and a colder, more hectic time of life. Right? It sounds so romantic, doesn’t it?

[Speaking of romantic, don’t forget to date your husband this fall…]

But the reality of September and October and [hold me] November is that this season is just as crazy chaotic as every other one. We have practices and games and rehearsals and concerts to add to the calendar, not to mention dentist appointments and counseling sessions and family dinners and book club and Bible study and craft projects. (Seriously. Is there another non-Christmas season with SO MANY craft projects?!)

In my family we have a birthday on top of all of the “usual” stuff, and more often than not, as we dive bomb into the holidays I realize that I missed it. I missed my favorite season, the best season of all (in my unbiased opinion!). I missed autumn. Again.

Well, not this year! I’m determined to enjoy every bit of fall this year, and I want to encourage you to do the same. I have a few ideas for making this happen, and I’m happy to share them with you. Just in case you have missed an autumn or two, but long to truly enjoy this beautiful season.

2 ways to enjoy fall to it's fullest at MomAdvice.com

2 Ways to Enjoy Autumn

1. Pick three things. We all know the temptation of bucket lists, and heaven knows I’ve made my share. But this fall, instead of adding every fall-type activity to your to-do list (not to mention printing it out and putting it on the fridge), why not keep it simple? We’ve already discussed how busy regular life is before we begin adding field trips to the apple orchard. So just pick three things. Pick one special autumn food to make (my all-time favorite is this DELICIOUS pumpkin bread), pick one craft to make (I’ve already bought the supplies to make this wreath from Amy), and pick one trip to take (and if it just happens to be the church fall festival, THAT’S STILL GOOD AND FUN AND ENOUGH!).

Pick three things – a food, a craft, and a trip.

And then? Use all that extra time you’ll have (hahaha!) to simply walk outside and breathe in the crisp air. Or watch a football game. Or let your kids buy pumpkins on your next run to the grocery store. (Believe me, they are still festive when they come from the grocery store and not the pumpkin patch.)

2. Count your days. Time flies when we’re busy or when we’re looking forward to big events, and fall is full of both those things for me. So this year I’m going to make sure I am intentionally taking note of each individual day. (I mean, probably not EACH and EVERY day. Let’s be realistic and accept that even every other day is still better than letting an entire season pass in a blur or parties and costumes and crafts and meetings!)

A few ways you might make your days count this autumn are with a daily photo challenge, reading a seasonal quote or a scripture each day, or keeping a gratitude journal. Or, if you’re feeling really ambitious (or unable to make a choice…something I am quite familiar with!), you could do one of those each month of the season. Start reading a Bible verse each day this month, then take a photo challenge next month, and finish up with a daily gratitude exercise in November.

However you do it (and, really, keep it as simple as you need to), just do something to intentionally appreciate your days.

When it comes to enjoying every season, I sometimes struggle between committing to carpe-ing the diem out of life and remembering that, more than likely, there will be another opportunity to carve pumpkins if we don’t do it this week, this month, this fall. But this year, I’m determined to let all of that struggling and striving and regretting go.

I am going to LIVE and LOVE and ENJOY this autumn. Will you join me?

 

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints

Friday, September 30th, 2016

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

Have you ever painted pumpkins with acrylic paints before? This was my first time painting our pumpkins this way and it could not be easier. I wanted to create a pumpkin display that would be perfect for the entire fall season and wanted to show you a cute way to display your pumpkins this year!

I am not big on decorating for Halloween and would prefer to skip right on over that part of the fall decorating. This month’s challenge was to create a Halloween display so I wanted to create a minimalistic display that would give a nod to the season, but complement our decor until it is time to deck the halls.

Let’s get painting!

How to Paint Pumpkins With Acrylic Paint

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed (all of these supplies can be found at Walmart!)

Any size you like of their faux pumpkins- the small ones are just $.98!! (you could also do real pumpkins!)

Waverly Inspirations Acrylic Paints in Elephant, Plaster, Pool, & White

Waverly Inspirations 4-piece wide brush set

Cup with water, paper towels, and something to cover the surface while painting

Wooden Crate (I got this one with a chalkboard on the side)

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

Directions for Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints

1. Remove the labels from the pumpkins and protect your surface with cardboard while painting.

2. With a clean wide brush, begin painting your pumpkins,using the stalk of the pumpkin as a handle to work around the surface. Paint the entire pumpkin and then set it aside to dry. Drying time can take anywhere between 15 minutes to one hour, depending on how thickly you applied the paint. Repeat this process as many times as you like to achieve the hue you are going for. I found the gray pumpkins only required a single coat, while the white pumpkins required two coats. Once dry,sprinkle these pumpkins throughout your house or create a crate display like I have done.
Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

I love how these pumpkins spill out onto some of my favorite childhood reads. The chalkboard side on this crate gives me the chance to make this display feel a little more Halloween and then can be replaced with a different label later in the fall.  I added my knitted leaf centerpiece to the side of the table- I can’t believe how well these branches have held up over the years!

For a corner in our home that used to have nothing, this has quickly become my favorite focal point in our living room.

Do you want more craft inspiration from Waverly? Try these!

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions

Fabric Wreath & Matching Garland

Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

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