This Nanny Loves:: Turkey Crafts

Other than apple pie and stuffing, the next best thing during the Thanksgiving season is crafting turkeys. And I don’t mean just one or two turkeys, I mean crafting LOTS of turkeys. Because turkeys on paper are a lot better than turkey on my plate. Well, that’s my opinion anyway. So we’ve been making lots of turkeys and talking about things that make us thankful: roller coaster rides, trains, and popcorn. Hope you’re getting into the thankful spirit, too.

219For this little guy, we just cut out some wings and a body from an old calendar and extra scrap book paper. He turned out pretty cute and he’s very happy in our flock.  Happy Thursday.

This Nanny Loves///Kids Fall Craft Projects

Fall colors. Boots. Tea in the afternoon. Walks through the woods. This is what fall is when you’re a professional nanny. Trust me, I am not complaining! These things are the perfect recipe for great days. And last week, we attempted to bring it all together when we went on an adventure. I gave the kids a brown paper lunch sack with their initial on it. This was their bag and whatever leaves they wanted to put it in, they could. Through the woods we walked, looking on the ground for the prettiest leaves we could find. The forest floor was covered, which was lucky for us, with all sorts of reds, and oranges, yellows and even some left over green leaves. Some, as I was told, were even “tye-dyed” which was pretty exciting. Just how does Mother Nature DO THAT, we wondered aloud.

Days after our walk through the woods, we sat on the porch in the sunshine with paper, glue, sticks, tape and a tree trunk cut out. Then, I dumped the bag of leaves on top of them, making a not so neat swarm of leaves in the middle of us. I let the kids pick out their favorite leaves and together we glued and taped them on the tree trunks. Afterward, we took the circle moons I had pre-cut for them and glued them as the background of our trees. Once the tree trunks with leaves were attached to the paper, we let them dry before finding a very special place in the house to hang them.


This was definitely one of the more entertaining art projects that the pre-schoolers and I have done together. They loved that they were the ones to find the leaves and then incorporate them into a project. It was also fun and different for us to have an art project that extended throughout the week. We’re excited to see what we will be able to do with our leaf collection next!

DIY 1920’s Bridal Shower Games

Instead of playing games at my friends 1920’s Bridal Shower, we our bride made a memory box.  Personally, I’m not a big “game player” at parties, so I’m always looking for a way to do something without having to actually “do” it, you know? So, instead of a group game, we set up this little craft-station table (below). We asked people to get a heart from one of the baskets and write marriage advice on it. Then, we asked people to grab a little booklet from the other basket and write their favorite memories of the bride in them. When people were done, they put them both in the cute 1920’s heirloom box in the center of the table.

memory box table

I stopped by Crissy’s house on Sunday night and she had the box sitting out among her things. Together, we pawed through it, her reading the advice and me laughing, and Sean rolling his eyes at us. It’s definitely a sweet little something that she will always be able to hold on to throughout the years. And when she’s mad at her guy, she can open in up and get a little extra advice from her ladies. advice basketmemory basketNow, we’re on to Bachelorette Party planning… There is much fun to be had yet in 2013!


Mason Jar Organizers

Our little kitchen is good for a few things. Like bumping butts while you’re boiling water. And…well… there isn’t too much else that we truly enjoy about our kitchen. It’s a small galley kitchen with a single sink, which means limited counter space and few cupboards. But we’re doing the best we can to organize and use the space we do have to it’s fullest potential. I’m also learning to take deep breaths and channel Sean’s tranquil aura.

When we first moved in, almost one year ago, I converted an old wine box into a shelving unit for all of our dried beans, fruits and seeds. Confession time: I hate grocery shopping. And because of this, we buy pretty much everything in bulk; preserved or dried. And while I absolutely love this method of stocking our kitchen, it also means we have a lot of mason jars filled up and spread all over our kitchen. beans in jarsTo help tame this collection, last week, I decided to make labeled lids for each of them. It was a simple project I wish I’d done a lot sooner. The only supplies I used were scraps from my paper collection. When I was done, I couldn’t believe how such a small project added so much continuity & organization to the area.  all jars angledmason jar lids 2 all jars straight mason jar lids 1Why didn’t I do this sooner, I wonder? Either way, I’m happy I took the short time to do this project and it is already making life much, much easier in our small kitchen. It didn’t make our kitchen larger, but it did bring relief. And we still bump butts when I’m boiling water, but I’ll never complain about that.

Little Chicks Making Little Chicks

Typically, I steer away from a doing any type of “cookie cutter” art projects. I think it’s really important that children come up with original ideas and use their own minds to create, rather than seeing an example and then repeating someone else’s idea. But last week, I saw a project that I knew my little chick would love so much, I had to cave in! I saw a cute sample on Pinterest (unfortunately the original link could not be found) on how to make chickens from your child’s hand.  With a quick change here and there, and without attempting to interfere, we soon had a whole hen house full of little chickens! chicks 1

To help make this project more child-focused and a little less about completing a “correct” project, I decided to help more with the inital set-up of the project, then slowly disappear from the craft scene once she got started. The thing about kids and art I have learned, is that they really don’t need as much help as we tend to think they do. To organize this project in a way that she could do it on her own, I decided to cut everythingbefore she began; including the shape of her hand, the eyes, the beak and gobbler. Then, I put them all over the table with the blank heads. At that point I didn’t say anything, I just let her decide where each of the body parts should go. Quickly and independently, she figured everything out. And although some of the eyes were off-centered here and the gobbler was upside-down there, it didn’t matter. She was doing the project exactly as she wanted. All I had to do was hang that little bird up when she was done. chicks 2

And goodness, was she ever proud when they were all done. Just in time for her Dad to come home and see them! He thought they were very cute, of course. Don’t you?

DIY Fabric Banner

Two Fridays ago, I started rearranging our common area furniture. This is typical to my compulsive must-rearrange-the-furniture-on-a-regular-basis-nature. But this time I decided to go a little crazy, move more furniture than normal and completely change the flow of our apartment. (Huh, don’t know why I threw out my back…) all before Sean came home from work and could call me a maniac. But I did it! And I absolutely LOVED it. But all of that feng-shui left an empty area over our radiator. And no one likes a lonely nook. So, I decided that this solitary area gave me the perfect excuse to create a fabric banner.Penant AngledNow I must disclaim that making this fabric banner was not as “spur of the moment” as I let on. I actually have been wanting to make a fabric pennant for awhile. But because I had already made a paper pennnat for our entry way, I needed to create one that was really different. After looking around stores and Pinterest for while, I decided that I would make a simple tie pennant– no sewing necessary, and I could upcycle some of my old clothing. So I put on a movie and went to work! PenantAll I did was measure out the length of twine that I wanted my banner to be.

:::Then I cut strips about four inches long from old t-shirts and cardigans. I decided to use three more muted colors, simply because Sean and I already have a lot of bright colors in our living space.

:::Next, all I did was tie the strips, in half, around the twine.

:::I looped the edges to make hanging easier, then rigged it up.

Room shot of Penant

In the end, I really liked the way it looked. I appreciate that it isn’t another piece of artwork hanging squarely over a shelf. I like that it gives a little more dimension to the space and draws the eye to the window. Plus, the tapered and jagged effect of the fabric reminds me in some ways of the edges of Tibetan Prayer Flags…. which I haven’t made, but clearly need to now.

I’ll post a few more pictures of the mess I made two Fridays ago and the great space I ended up with, soon!


Our State Storyboard:: Summer

Each season, I try to change our state storyboard to reflect our current days. How happy I am to see sand & dunes from our first trip to the beach, instead of snow drifts hanging on our storyboard these days! state board 1state board 2state board 3This is the first time that I have used clothes pins to attach pictures. What have I been waiting for? They make it much easier to rearrange photos as I get more developed. And guiltily I admit, I always try to make things as easy for myself as humanly possible.

I love that our storyboard is something people always comment on when they come over.  Having conversation pieces throughout your space helps define areas and make the environment more welcoming, more homey to guest. When people come over and see the state storyboard, they can immediately see who we are and what we enjoy. The board tells the story of our *insert gushy adjective here*life in Michigan. And that story, I have to admit is everything to us.

I wonder what our board will look like next year at this time? How will life be different? Or the same? I can’t wait to see.

DIY Bingo Game for PreSchoolers

Sometimes when you’re watching kids, do ever just really want to play a game? That happened to me last week. I was tired of dolls and coloring… all I wanted to do was play BINGO! Insert problems here: 1. The standard rules of BINGO are a bit complex for three year old’s; and 2. We didn’t have any BINGO boards around the house.

So I decided to take matters into my own hands. Luckily, we have this box filled with game mysterious game pieces. And since no one knows what the game pieces actually go to, we are free to use them however and whenever we want. As a side note: I wanted there to be some sort of learning involved. However, I didn’t want the twins to pick up on the fact that they would be doing a “learning” activity. So, I decided I would only focus on one lesson: learning the letters of their names. Having a narrowed focus makes it less intense for young ones. With that said, here is how I made our simple homemade BINGO boards.

1. Create a grid on the back of the old kid’s homework left-overs.

2. Place images and letters on each of the squares.

3.  Make two copies of the papers & the use contact paper to strengthen each.

bingo games 2bingo games4. Cut one of the copies into small pieces and place them in a container. These will be the pieces they place on top of their boards. bingo piecesAfter this was done, we played! The rules were pretty simple, I would draw out the pieces and they would yell, “Yes!” if they had it. The first person to yell “yes” earned the piece and would then place it on their board. Once your board was completely filled, you would yell “BINGO!” Sometimes we would yell, “cannonball” too and that was just as fun. Hey, whatever works.

What games have you had to change the rules of for your preschoolers? Do you also make your own games to pass the time? Please share!

Our Welcoming Pennant

Our entrance has been an ongoing project since we moved in almost one year ago. To be honest, it’s been an ongoing project mostly because it has become a storage area for all of the things we want to get rid of. (If anyone wants a loom, let me know!) But walking into a place and being met with junk and bare walls isn’t exactly the first impression I want to share with visitors. So, a few weeks ago, I decided to start this project…slowly by surely, one foot in front of the other… now we are going…

Step One: A Welcome Sign.

Because our walls are concrete and impossible to hang things on, I knew I needed something I would be able to creatively rig up. Also, the wall in our entrance is very long, so I wanted something that could cover the vastness it presents. In the end, I decided I wanted to make a pennant. So I did. And I definitely love it. we love you parttape of signentire welcome signupward angle of welcomeAnd hanging, it still is. Thanks for stopping in! You’re always welcome here.

From Pinterest to Reality #3: My “New” Shutters

Sean and I had an idea to make a mail organizer out of shutters. It was a good idea. A very good idea. But in the end, the idea didn’t pan out as expected. And you know what? That’s okay, too.

I found these shutters at a little shop down the road. The shop is jammed packed with found items. Literally, there are hundreds of things packed into this little shop wall to wall, floor to ceiling. There’s no organization, which I don’t really mind, because with all that stuff, you have to go through it carefully and slowly, so as not to miss anything. When I saw these little shutters, I just had to get them. I was especially happy because they were only $1.50. What’s not to like about that? original shuttersshutters orginal 2

They were a little rough, as you can see, but I had a vision. After some lots of cleaning, I decided to paint them orange to help bring in the orange of the dresser we painted a few months ago. Once they were painted, I really liked the way they looked: a little Brady Bunch-esque, a little vintage— my favorite combination! But I also thought that they were just a little too cute to clutter up with mail. So, I gave them a prominent place on our recently organized shelf. shutters finished 2shutters finished 1

I really like the simple statement they make in the place. And even though they weren’t quite what I originally wanted, I am very pleased with them. I guess it just goes to show that sometimes our best ideas are really mistakes, and sometimes these mistakes end up being our favorites!