Things to Make – Homemade Charades

top Lately, we've attempted to incorporate more family game nights into our evenings, with mixed results. All three kids play at such different levels and I can only participate in so much Candyland or Chutes and Ladders before I feel like banging my head against a wall. During Cranium the other night, Dan and I noticed that the kids really enjoy acting things out, charades style. Unfortunately, there are few games that contain common references the whole family knows. So we decided to create our own version.

I cut cards out of an old Trader Joe's bag (paper would (obviously) also work, but I was trying to use up some of our recyclables). Then I wrote categories on the cards and asked the kids to fill them in. Nobody seemed very interested at first, so I filled in several. Then we started playing (without teams, just sort of randomly). And the results were awesome. After noting the category was "a person", P walked around the house with her nose in a book until everyone started yelling "MOM! You're acting like mom!" Then after explaining he was a "thing", T plopped himself on the floor until we all figured out he was a boat; actually I gave a lot of hints for that one (I usually know the answer as I have to read T the cards and sometimes P, so I can't exactly "play"). Anyways, we couldn't stop laughing. And F silently singing Firework while mimicking explosions is simply priceless.

Now I try to always have a few blank cards on the table, so when the kids think of something funny, they can add to the bag. Not the world's most original game, but an easy (and cheap) way to have some end of summer fun (especially since the rain and mild temps make pool-going difficult). Anyone have any good boardgame suggestions for players ranging in ages from 4 -7.5? I've heard Quirkle is fun. Also, for more homemade game ideas, check out these past posts:

* The Penny Game
* Alphabet Bingo
* Memory Cards (through Pinhole Press) make Well, at least T attempted to write "cowboy" himself. perform

I can't remember what the girls were miming, but they sure had a great time with it. t

It took T a few seconds to get the hang of things, but then he really let his inner star shine through.

Post by Darcy : No Monsters in My Bed

Behind the Scenes with HGTV Magazine

HGTV Magazine does these super cool house tours in every issue. They are always inspiring, as is everything that HGTV does. So I was over the moon when they asked to feature my house and family in their October issue. I couldn’t believe it. I live in a modest old bungalow, which I love like a part of the family – it is an old Sears Catalog house built in 1927 that we have lived in for 13 years. In that time, 3 of my 4 children were born, we have put on an addition, replaced every single mundane appliance, and painted the place a million times. Our family has grown up in this house, and it holds all of our memories.  

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So, I thought it would be fun to give a little behind the scenes of what happens at a photo shoot like this. It is initially nerve-wracking. I was afraid they’d show up and say, “Really, this house is not worthy.” (That didn’t happen, thank God) So there is a lot of cleaning and prepping and putting things away to get the house in this nice organized state – because life is happening here. Then, enter the crew and equipment and utter chaos. Stuff everywhere – cameras and computers and props and just, wow! So now the house is a disaster. Brilliant!

But, this group of people is so fun and talented, so that’s a huge bonus. A few days with some really interesting, creative people. So, inevitably it’s time for the shots. When it’s just the house, it’s a breeze – except for the minor emergencies – flowers or no, antlers -yes?  The real pain comes when it’s time for the talent (that’s me and the family). I am awkward at best in front of the camera. That’s fine, I can deal. My kids on the other hand are going to have me jailed for child labor. They have been through this photo shoot thing, and they do not find it fun or exciting. They are difficult and whiny and noodley – real pains – but it only takes one good shot of the thousands that are taken (which I thankfully think we got). All in all, it was a blast and such fun to see my family in the magazine. I hope you enjoy my colorful, crazy kid-centric house.

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Xo – Michelle

Aside from being the Managing Director of The Land of Nod, mother to four kids (yes I said FOUR!) and a gourmet cook, Michelle is a retail junky. From Zara to Marc Jacobs, Target to Nordstroms, she doesn’t discriminate, there’s room in her heart and closet for them all. And the addiction doesn’t stop at fashion, she’s painted her dining room at least 5 times, and changes rugs like most women change their sheets. Retail isn’t therapy for Michelle, it’s more like oxygen.

Summer Party

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We decided to throw a party to celebrate the hot summer days with a menu consisting of all cold bites and chilly treats.  The cold food concept was based on a friend's idea a few years back.  Guests brought different cold appetizers, salads, fruit and vegetable dishes.  We made homemade roasted peach caramel popsicles (using Fat Toad Farm's incredible caramel) and ice cream Biscoff truffles–well, sort of homemade.  The recipes will be posted shortly.  Our last chilly treats of the afternoon were a trio of pints of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams–Brambleberry Crisp, Goat Cheese with Red Cherries and The Milkiest Chocolate in the World.  All of them were pretty amazing.

We had salt water taffy by Salty Road for guests to enjoy and take home as favors because salt water taffy is such the quintessential summer treat.  Salty Road's flavors were beautiful with a crunchy salt finish–salty caramel apple, peppermint, bergamot, sea salt caramel and vanilla.

These garlands from The Land of Nod added a colorful and festive note and Minted's cake stand and Little Explorer party decor were lovely finishing touches to the party.  Everything was easy to put together and assemble.  The wooden spoons were from Fort and Field.

Thanks to The Land of Nod for providing garlands, to Minted for providing party decor and to Salty Road for sending us taffy to make our summer celebration complete.  It wouldn't have been a summer-y party without all of you!  Thanks everyone, for bringing delicious cold bites to share and for making it a wonderful party!

Post by Michelle Sterling of Avery and Augustine

You can see her work and read about her two young children and their first forays in cooking, art and everything in between at Avery and Augustine.

 

Making Crafts & Friends at The Land of Nod

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So as it happens to be, really good, awesome things can be stressful too. Labor Day weekend, I led a workshop at the Land Of Nod South Coast Plaza store, and taught kids and their parents how to make friendship bracelets. An amazingly awesome opportunity, but one which had me stressed out quite a bit.  I tend to worry a bit too much, and when I should have been enjoying the build up of this great event, I was thinking of how it could go wrong.  

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No one was going to show up. Beads would be dumped everywhere and kids would cut themselves on scissors (for this I made sure to keep all scissors close by my side). Parents would complain that the class was too simple, or too hard and demand their money back. Wait, it was free. Basically, I am Chicken Little and imagined the worse case scenario in this situation.

It turns out though, that everything turned out just perfect.

People showed up, both boys and girls, moms and dads.  No beads were flung, no one choked or cut themselves or complained.  In fact, people were a downright pleasure to be around, and lovely and gracious and accepted help but at the same time did much of the crafting on their own.

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Art brought Taylor and one of her best friends Skylar, to make bracelets together, and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves and I realized just how grown up they’ve become.  Working all by themselves, making the most amazingly beautiful designs.  Our other good friends Anne and her husband came, along with their cute little boys, and Jules’ whole family came too.  It was fun meeting new faces, some who knew me and some who had no idea who I was.  But once some familiar faces came in, I felt great.  Thanks Anne and Jules for making the effort.  I hope you all had fun. 

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Not only did no beads get turned upside down from rambunctious toddlers, but the creations these kids made, both on their own and with the help of their parents, were seriously impressive.  One little 7 year old girl arrived at 10:55 am, eager to craft, and stayed for almost 2 hours, stringing all those tiny sequins one by one by herself.  She refused to let her mom help.  Her bracelet design was gorgeous.  It may sound ridiculous, but seeing young kids have so much patience and focus to complete something so creative and artistic, it seriously gives me goose bumps, and I’ll even admit, when it occurs with my own kids, it brings tears to my eyes.

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It may seem so simplistic and ordinary, but these little moments of encouraging kids to be creative, teaches them so much in terms of confidence, independence, design, creativity, not to mention the sheer amount of fine motor skill dexterity practice they get when stringing bead after bead after bead.  Real life teaching moments in action, for sure.

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I have a hard time sitting down and playing battle droids with my kids.  But give me some craft supplies and we’ll sit there for hours.  Or at least I will.  I love this stuff.  It almost made me think I could possible be a teacher of sorts.  It was a really, really good day and afterwards, I took Taylor and her friend for lunch in the mall, and I may have celebrated such a good day with a small glass of chardonnay.  I saw a reader who attended the workshop, in the cafe where we ate and I forewarned her not to judge me, cause I was celebrating.

I’ve been asked lots of times over the years, how I put up with the messes kids make when they craft, how I keep my patience, how I hold their attention.  My only advice is to try and start from a young age, and only do one thing at a time.  Kids will want to bring out the contents of the entire craft cabinet in the course of a day.  But we’ve always had a rule that we put one project away before we start another.

Other than that, kids are kids and messes are inevitable.  You can either direct them to produce a controlled mess, like a craft project, or let them make messes on their own by giving them free play.  Either way, a mess will be made.  Personally, I would rather have a mess from a creative project than a mess they’ve cooked up because they were left undirected in their room for an hour.  And p.s., I’m not mother of the year here.  My kids make plenty of both messes because our life is not one constant, ongoing arts and crafts project.  I just much more prefer craft project messes over say, Lego messes.

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And can we take a moment for this caftan?  I have coveted Emerson Fry for quite some time.  I pin from their site all the time, but have never actually coughed up the money to buy a piece.  Last week, their entire Spring collection went on sale and I added this caftan in my cart 7 times over the course of a week.  Every day I’d go in and say, if it’s still available, it’s meant to be and days went by without me actually buying it.  Finally, after one night where I went berserk over crazy rude comments 500+ people had left on one of my Babble pieces, I bit the bullet and bought it.  Not one single regret.  I wore it 5 days straight and not that it matters, but it most certainly helps, I’ve gotten a ton of compliments on it.  I’m in love, I’m in love, I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows it!  Name that movie!  FYI, it’s one size fits all and it has an internal cinch tie to bring in the waist a bit so it doesn’t look so mumu’ish.

*Caftan – Emerson Fry; Necklace – Ann Taylor Loft; Wedges - ShoeMint Jordane now on sale

Andrea Howe is the writer of For The Love Of, a blog dedicated to modern approachable style. She is wife to one, mother to three, and one lover of style. She spends her days chasing her kids around, taking pictures of them on her phone, cooking, making messes during DIY sessions, reading, blogging, and devising a way to get her dream craft room some day. She is also a regular contributor atDisney Baby where she shares inspiring stories of life with baby.