Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How-Tuesday: How to Make Tissue Paper Pom Poms

I know these cute tissue paper pom poms (or flowers, whatever you want to call them) have been around for a long time, but it never fails that when I use them to decorate for a party, someone asks me how to make them. So I figure there are at least a few people out there who could use a tutorial!

First, start with a stack of 6-8 sheets of tissue paper. You can do all the same color, or alternate colors.
 Then, fold it accordion-style (about an inch for each fold)...
 Then, trim the ends, either to a rounded shape, or a pointy tip.
 Take some wire and wrap it around the middle to secure it, and then slip a ribbon through. Trust me, it's MUCH easier to attach the ribbon before you fluff it all up! (Not that I would ever have made that mistake or anything...) You can also use fishing line, but I like the ribbon for that extra pop of color.
Once you've got it secured, fan the edges apart and start pulling up the tissue paper, starting from the top. Alternate first one side, then the other, moving down through half the sheets. So, if you layered 6 sheets of tissue paper, pull 3 of them up. Pull VERY carefully, as these can rip, and pull them all the way up to the middle.

 Then, do the same thing on the other side, so they're pulled apart from each other.

Then, fluff the layers gently back toward each other, and arrange them until you have the look you want.
 The one on the left had the pointy tips, and the one on the right the rounded ones.
 You can hang these, as seen here...
 ...or just leave them as a table decoration.
These are pretty flexible, so experiment a little! You can cut the tissue paper in half to make smaller ones, buy larger tissue paper, layer 12 sheets instead of 6, make multi-color ones, or wherever your creativity takes you! But whatever you do, don't buy the overpriced Martha Stewart kits for these. They are super simple and fun to make!

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Friday, July 26, 2013

How to Speak Kid: Magic Trick for Clean-Up Time!

So this is my youngest. She's three. She can do so many things - get dressed, set the table, get on her coat and shoes, write her name, and throw an epic tantrum... it certainly seems like she should be able to clean her room! But I'm facing the fact that she actually still needs my help, and this summer I came up with a way to get it done that she (and my other kids) absolutely love!

We call it "Double Thumbs Up," and here's how it goes: I sit on the floor with two thumbs up. Claire comes up and taps one of the thumbs, and then I say the job that goes with it, like, "Put your clothes in the hamper." When she's done the job, she comes over and pushes my thumb down, then taps the other thumb to listen to the next job. She finishes that one, pushes that thumb down, and then both thumbs pop back up with new jobs. She continues tapping and pushing the thumbs down until her job are all done, and then I sing a little celebration song. Simple and easy, and my other kids love it too. My 6-year-old begs to play Double Thumbs Up when it's time to clean his room, and once I even caught him doing the thumbs for Claire (awwww....).

I think pushing my thumbs down gives them the same sort of satisfaction as I get crossing things off a To-Do list, and incorporating the movement is more effective than them just listening to me blab about what to do next.

I'm sure the novelty of this trick won't last forever, but it's been working for us this summer! Try it out and let me know how it goes!

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Summer Fun - Nature Scavenger Hunt!

So at the beginning of the summer, in an attempt to really engage with my kids each and every day, I promised them that every afternoon we would have Afternoon Adventure, where we would do something fun together. This particular afternoon, we did a Nature Scavenger Hunt in our yard. I perused the internet for ideas, and walked around my own front and back yards. Here's what I came up with:

Nature Scavenger Hunt
*a dead leaf
*a leaf with smooth edges
*a leaf with rough edges
*a leaf that is longer than 4 inches
*a dandelion
*a piece of bark
*a tiny blue flower
*a rock that is LONGER than 2 inches 
*measure the car tires _______________ inches
*a pinecone
*a flower with 4 petals
*a smooth rock
*Y-shaped twig
*pine needle
*at least 8 DIFFERENT leaves
*something beautiful
*something interesting

So we had three boys and three girls, so we split them into teams. They worked together to find, measure, and record everything they found. I included measuring a few items, just because I thought it would make it more interesting for my kids.

The kids had such a great time running around the yard, and there was even a lot of helping each other out!

 They were so proud of everything they found!
Afterwards, we came inside and put everything out on the table, and they had to draw one thing they found on their scavenger hunt. I don't know why my daughter looks like she wants to kill me in this picture.

This was a fun, easy idea that all six kids really loved! Try it out!

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Monday, July 8, 2013

This Alaskan Life

So lately I've been feeling completely and totally in love with this place I'm living. Probably because we had several weeks of record-setting, uninterrupted sunshine, which made me feel like life absolutely could not be any better. But the past week (or two?) have been nothing but cloudy, and I'm still loving it. I've been thinking for a while about adding some posts on here about what it's like living in Alaska, and I guess I might as well start before winter makes me grumpy again.
This is my kid running around like he doesn't have a care in the world. Love it.
When we were thinking about moving here, we were looking up the city on Google Maps, and we couldn't believe that there were LAKES, like, in the middle of the neighborhood. As in, "Oh yeah, we should just walk to the lake." In California, going to a lake was an EVENT, where you had to pack and drive, and get carsick, and even then usually the lake was gross and you couldn't actually swim in it, just look at it.
 So the proximity of numerous, beautiful lakes in which you can swim, fish, etc. is one of my favorite things about living here. We are fortunate that several family members have cabins on lakes that we can mooch off of and enjoy, and spend time together. Here's where we were yesterday, and a cute shot of my youngest snuggling with my grandma.

 What is it about the water that makes kids feel like they never want to leave? My kids are so in love with this little raft at our cabin - they can play on it for hours. And then yesterday my aunt and uncle had these little kayaks, and my kids were in them all. day. long. And I'm looking at them, kayaking around on this vast, beautiful lake, and I'm thinking, "This is childhood in Alaska." And also, our 4th of July weekend was 60 degrees and cloudy the entire time, which, to be honest, is also really representative of childhood in Alaska.
The little raft: Bringing hours of enjoyment to its third generation of kids
Love this shot of Parker on the kayak.

Alaska living is definitely not for everyone, but for us, right now, it suits us just fine.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Guest Post: Star Spangled Plaque

I'm happy to have a guest poster here on Simply Clean Living today. Lynn, from Lynn Spin, always amazes me with her cute crafts and her fearlessness in using power tools! So take a minute and check out her blog, especially her cute Shared Boy/Girl Bedroom post, and her Basement Car Track. And now, on to some holiday decor and Lynn's tutorial!

I was tired of wreaths that fall apart in storage.  I wanted something for my door that would last me a few years.  So, it was time for me to bust out some power tools! 

Here is the tutorial for my wood star spangled plaque and some tips for using a jig saw.

A hand held jig saw is a perfect way to get yourself comfortable with power tools and wood working.  The best thing to do is to just go slow.  Keep the power pressed all the way, but move your hand and the saw slowly around the wood piece you are cutting out.

I started my plaque by drawing a design on a piece of paper, then traced it around the wood board so that it was even on all sides.

After it was traced I began to cut.  Some times when you are using a jig saw, you will have to back out of the wood and come in from a different angle to cut out sharp turns or curves.  Just keep practicing. :)

After it was all cut out I wasn’t sure how to lay it out. 

 A quick picture text to some trusted friends confirmed that the bubbly part up top and bottom would look better.  It looked like a clown silhouette the other way.  No thank you. 

 First, I painted the whole thing white.  Paint your lighter color first, it is easier this way.  Use blue painters tape on to paint stripes.  I tried it with red and white stripes and then blue and white.  Both look cute.  After I painted, I sanded the edges and distressed it a little too. 

I then cut out a star with my band saw (you can also use a jig saw for this).  I painted it and glued it down to my plaque with liquid nails.  I set a can of food on the top while it dried.
I used my staple gun to attach some wire to the back then hung it on my front door with 2 3M hooks.  I think it looks pretty stink’n cute!

You need:
A jig saw
Paint- red, white, and blue
Liquid nails glue
Picture hanging hardware or wire
It will take about 15 mins or less to cut out your pieces.  But, plan for about 3-4 hours for this project including painting, glue, and drying time.
Enjoy! Get crafty with your bad self!

Thanks so much, Lynn! I love the idea of a wreath that won't get squished or ruined! And I'm completely jealous of your cute front porch!

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