teach kids how to sew!

sewing is an important skill to have. we don’t all have to be experts, but some basic knowledge of how make things is valuable and helpful. i realize in today’s culture where everything is so cheap and easily replaced, rather than fixed, it might feel strange teaching kids how to darn socks! but c’mon, from there you can make awesome sock monkeys! haha!

here is a small collection of simple, small and lovely sewing ideas for small fingers. some are use a machine, others use hands for threading, some use felt, others denim. i’m sure you won’t regret teaching your kids how to sew, and it can prove to be a very useful skill for them. if you were to be a Cultural Care Au Pair looking after small kids, sewing might be an activity that you would like to take part in with them. as a mama to two boys, i am going to make sure they are exposed to sewing and i will encourage them to learn. bear, 5YO has expressed some interest and curiosity!

sew lavender pockets from red ted art

sewing with kids from flax & twine

felt heart garland from putti’s world

stuffed felt carrot from sewing school

celebration garland from made by rae

whale stuffies from him & her

quilted x-mas tree ornament from all free kids crafts

denim lunch money wallet from my little hen

which one is your favourite?
do you think you will get your kids sewing sooner rather than later?

xo, mama lola

make a paper mache pinata!

pinata, birthday craft, lion head

my lion turned 3 and i decided it would be fun to have a lion head pinata at his birthday party. i did some research on pinterest on how to make the perfect pinata, but decided that we would just do our own thing… i mean, how difficult could a paper mache lion head really be???

well, as with most of our projects things didn’t go as smoothly as i hoped. but, the end result was surprisingly marvellous, dontcha think?

  • i wanted it to be big, and a regular latex balloon just didn’t seem to be the right size or shape. so we used a clear garbage bag instead; filled it with air and shaped it a little by taping the corners down.
  • and off it started… lots of news paper ripped into various sized strips. dear hubby was in charge of the messy part, so he made a big ol’ bowl with flour and water mixed together (no recipe required).  just make sure you don’t make it too think and depending on the project lumps don’t really matter either. especially in a pinata as the end result is that it is damaged badly, and quickly!
the kids got in on the action too! it was soooooooooo messy, but luckily the paste is super easy to wash up!
  • where the bag was knotted became the opening and the bottom of the lion’s head. this made it easier in the end for painting as i was able to prop the head up with my easel inside it. a broom or stool leg would work just as well.
  • for the ears i took a toilet paper roll, cut it half, made a cone shape, stapled it once i had it  at the desired size. then the guys attached my paper macheing them on.
paper mache, pinata, lion head
  • before you start painting make sure your paper mache is thoroughly dried first. the paint will adhere better and it will just be much easier.
  • to paint the lion head i just mixed a few different acrylic paints together; reds, yellows, oranges. the tone was more red than i had hoped. i painted it very haphazardly, intentionally trying to create uneven textures and colours. i used straight black paint for the detailing of the facial features.
  • the lion’s mane is made of various colours of tissue paper; gold, yellow, orange, violet, burgundy and black to give it depth and vibrancy. the pieces were all randomly cut with pinking sheers to create texture. i glued them on individually, which initially felt daunting, but went much faster than i anticipated. i just used kids white glue.
paper mache, pinata, lion head, birthday activity

i will post pics later this week from the actual party and the kids hitting in, but it was a total hit!

i discovered this amazing paper mache website for tons of info on different paste recipes and more at the ultimate paper mache.
and, here’s papaD getting his lion groove on while wearing the lion head after the kids got the loot! it was totally creepy and weird seeing him dance with that head! but, i’ll save it for halloween, i think! might be fun the! haha!

this was such a fun project! good luck with yours!

xo, mama lola

salt cookies for all occasions!

a few years ago the kids were hooked on baking and painting salt cookies. after the millionth batch, i kinda went on a salt cookie strike, and we discovered lots of other projects to get excited about. 

the other day i decided to quickly whip up some salt cookies and re-introduce the fun of them to the boys. salt cookies are ridiculously easy to make. (i found a recipe here at fly though our window.)

1. preheat you over to 200F.

2. mix the ingredients together and roll out onto to a clean surface. make sure you add some flour to prevent the dough from sticking to your surface or rolling pin.

3. bake cookies on parchment paper for about an hour to two hours. let them cool thoroughly before painting. also, make sure if you want to be able to hang your salt cookies that you make holes in them BEFORE you bake them. 

this activity kept the kids very focused for a long time. bear was very meticulous with his painting and would paint one side, let it dry and then paint the other side, so as not to smudge any of the paint. it was pretty sweet.

salt cookies are the perfect craft for any occasion, for a gift any person and a wonderful activity for anyone at any age!

xo, mama lola

lovely valentine’s day card crafts!

kids love to hand-out valentine’s day cards to each other at school. we were even sent home a list of all of the student’s in bear’s class to ensure that no kid is left out, i suppose. 

here are eight super cute, super easy cards you can make with the kids for valentine’s day. i find my kids love to be involved and even my lion who is only 2.5 years old, can easily participate in the creation of these cards.

1. olive you card from better homes and gardens.
2. fly away with me from life in wonderland
3. hearts in a jar from hooray hurrah
4. i’m glad you’re in my school from simple organized living
5. have a “dino”mite valentine’s day from life in wonderland
6. i love you from my kids guide
7. would you like a lollipop? from the matthews family blog.
8. some bunny loves you from so crafty on squidoo

let me know which one you decided on!

xo, mama lola

birthday invitations :: a DIY craft


bear is turning the big five-o-roonie in a few weeks!!!
valentine’s day to be exact.

and what almost-five-year-old doesn’t want to have a birthday party with their friends?! of course i went on pinterest looking for birthday invitation ideas, but nothing sprang out at me. so, bear and i designed our own little invitations. so cute, perfect project for him to help with and easy enough for that it didn’t turn into some all consuming time sucker! 

here’s how we made ’em!


colourful paper or card stock
markers, sparkle pens, whatever really.


1. choose a picture of the birthday prince or princess. get copies made.
2. decide on the colour, size and shape of party hats. once i made one that was the right size, i traced it and cut out the rest of the party hats from the card stock.
3. decorate party hats. bear did the decorating and he loved it. we kept it simple, but you could add pompoms or glitter or whatever, really!
4. glue the decorated party hats on to the heads. let dry.
5. then i loosely traced the backs of the photo heads, cut the traced heads out of card stock and glued them on to the backs of the photo’s. this way we could write on regular paper, than the slippery photo paper.

have fun making your own invitations!

still can’t believe he’s going to be 5!!!!
i’ll be writing my sappy post about being this guys mama closer to the big day.

xo, mama lola

nine fabulous valentine’s wreath ideas.

valentine’s day  is only a few short weeks away, so i’ve compiled 9 awesome wreath idea’s for any DIY craft lover. some are more complicated than others and will take more time, but there’s something here to suit everyone’s taste! ENJOY!

2. valentine’s willow heart wreath :: the cards we drew
3. valentine’s day wreath :: the thriftress
4. pink floral wreath :: simply crafty
5. spiral rose wreath :: little birdie secrets
6. heart argyle valentine’s wreath  :: mine for the making
7. valentine’s fanric wreath :: project insprire
8. a paper wreath :: woodlands home
xo, mama lola

silly spoons :: a craft

bear, my older guy, gets a magazine in the mail once a month, CHIRP. it’s totally cute, age appropriate and makes his day when he receives in the mail.

one of the activities in the january edition, is something called, SILLY SPOONS. it’s a super fun and super creative activity, that both the boys enjoyed doing.

the spoon is the base for your character or animal. you can embellish it as much or as little as you like. my kids refused a lot of help, so they’re spoons are simpler than the ones pictured in the magazine. we used all sorts materials for this project like markers, pompoms, duct tape, yarn, decorative flowers, googly eyes, pipe cleaners and lotsa, lotsa glue!

and, voila. silly spoons for silly times.

they are a bit fragile, but the boys were thrilled with how they turned out and really, that’s what matters most! 

add a link if you do this craft!

xo, mama lola

hearts and cupids arrows :: a valentine’s crafts.

valentine’s day is almost upon us.
the stores are already filling their shelves with heart shaped boxes filled with chocolates to suit everyone’s flavour preferences. there are cardboard cut outs of cupids hanging in windows and  there are lots faux red roses around town.
here are some cute and simple craft projects i’ve gathered from pinterest. i especially love the little cupid arrows made of twigs and felt. 
2. valentine twig arrows by: carolyn at homework
3. heart bookmark by:martha stewart
4. paper hearts by crafty dream
5.heart garland by: kristina and e.j. at toddler approved
6.heart quote from: found on pinterest
xo, mama lola

discover the fun of discovery bottles!

my bear got some homework for this past holiday season. he was to make a “discovery bottle” and then was to share his bottle with the class during their “show & share” time. it was an assignment that he completed with the help of dear hubby and lion, too. lion actually made his own little discovery bottle.

for his bottle bear included some balsam and cedar branches, shells and crab legs from the various beaches out east collected during our road trip, acorns and chestnuts from central park collected from our trip to NYC, some beads and lots of glitter for good measure. it’s a super fast and as easy or difficult project as you make it.

the boys collected a bunch of items to put inside the bottle, popped them inside, filled the bottle with water leaving a little space for air, so the bottle can flipped and the items can easily move around. finally, dear hubby hot glued the lid on ensuring no leaks or other messy disasters!

pinterest is full of various ideas for this project. you can use all sorts of ingredients n your bottle. water, beads, sand, toys, yarn, food colouring etc etc. we got the idea of using tree branched from the website “teach preschool”.

have you ever made on of these? what did you put inside?

xo, mama lola

buy nothing x-mas?

Welcome to the October 2012 Simplicity Parenting Carnival: Holidays
This post was written as part of the monthly Simplicity Parenting Carnival hosted by The Lone Home Ranger and S.A.H.M. i AM. This month we are discussing how we simplify the holiday season. Be sure to read to the end to see a list of the rest of the excellent carnival contributors.

i am already planning for christmas 2012. if you know me personally, i’m sure you’re not surprised to hear that! yes, it is only october, but the holiday season is around the corner and i like to be as organized as possible! christmas is my favourite time of year. i get super excited, super psyched and super stressed. you can read all about the x-mas rage i experienced last season!

as my kids mature and start to feel and understand the excitement of the christmas season, i try to make a point of discussing the magic of things rather than the consumerism of things. 

[ source ]

i grew up in finland, and once december rolled around, kids were reminded of very sneaky “joulutontut” or christmas elves, who travel around spying on kids to see who is naughty and who is nice. the tontut are small little elves, who poke around corners and peek through windows to see what kids are up to, and will eventually report back to joulupukki or santa with a detailed report. as an adult, i have the skills to recognize the tontut and last holiday season i saw the tontut out of the corner of my eyes and told the kids; they believed. 
that’s what christmas is about to us. the mystery and the magic.

each year the four of us love to get creative and make lots of gifts for people. one year i made big mason jars of soup. annually, we make a huge mess in the kitchen as we bake a large assortment of cookies, the kids make all sorts of art, we make our own x-mas cards (one year i drew each card by hand individually), we make wrapping paper and re-use gift wrap from years passed, and sometimes jazz up the old with potato stamps! there is a lot we do and in doing these things, we are kinder to mother-earth, gentler on our bank account, but most importantly we are teaching our kids an invaluable lesson : christmas is about giving, not about receiving. and specifically, it is about giving love, sharing love and being with family.

at four (almost five) i recognize that bear has inherited his mummo’s desire to create various things as gifts. he is eager to make art, both abstract or something practical for people he loves. his wee bro lion, is also very artistic and eagerly follows whatever project bear has on the go.
this year, i have some projects ear-marked that i can’t mention here, not yet anyway! there are some crafts that the boys and i will get to as we get closer to the giving season. we will make our annual batch of salt cookies, paint them and make garlands from them. we will re-make our christmas wreath on our door, make ice lanterns and maintain other finnish traditions. i will start playing festive music early and i am already collecting various items for the wall hanging advent calender i made the boys last christmas. bear is still talking about it!

sure, we talk about asking santa for things in our annual letter, but i always remind bear that just because he’s asking, doesn’t mean he’s receiving it! yes, we will buy the children presents, but as in years past i will buy lots of things second hand or we will make things ourselves. yes, we will buy gifts for our family and friends, but again, with frugality and the environment in mind. so, honestly, this holiday season will not be a buy nothing x-mas, but it will one which will include more baking and more crafts!

ho! ho! ho!

Thanks for reading the Simplicity Parenting Blog Carnival! We hope you’ll take time to read these other great contributors’ posts: SimParCarButton150x150

  • Making Halloween – JW at True Confessions of a Real Mommy says “No need to spend a lot this Halloween! Check out some easy, frugal ideas for dressing your family up!”
  • Hibernating During Halcyon – Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children and her family are gearing up for the Halcyon celebrations and enjoying some quiet time as a family.
  • Savoring Family Time (or, Simple Homemade Gifts) – Emily at S.A.H.M. i AM is trying to prepare for the holidays early so she can slow down and enjoy time with her family as the days grow shorter and a new baby enters their lives.
  • 7 Green Gifts for Toddlers – Shannon at GrowingSlower shares unique green gift ideas for kids this holiday season that are sure to be green mom approved.
  • Less is More: Simplifying the Holidays to Make Room for More of What Matters – Amy at Anktangle shares a few easy strategies she uses to keep the holidays manageable, stress-free, and fun!
  • buy nothing x-mas? – mama lola at bear & lion describes what christmas is all about to her and her family; treats, music, crafts and LOVE!
  • DIY holiday fun – Justine at The Lone Home Ranger revels in thrifting for and making her own holiday gifts and decorations.

Thanks to all the fabulous writers and readers for being a part of our simplicity parenting community! Stop by The Lone Home Ranger and S.A.H.M. i AM to see how to join us for a future carnival.

xo, mama lola
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