School Projects

Fun Projects

Friday, December 31, 2010

"I've lost that 'Christmas' feeling"

"O-oh, that 'Christmas' feeling.
I've lost that 'Christmas feeling,
and now it's gone, gone, gone.
And I can't hold on.
Have you figured out which song I am parodying?
Well, that's how I feel, because I am trying to keep the Christmas spirit alive until our last celebration (still 2 days away), and it's just slipping away.

Today I made several batches of Christmas cookies to bring to the last party. A few days ago the Christmas carols would have been playing and the kids would have been so excited. Today, the radio stations were back to regular programming and the kids wanted to play with play-dough instead.

Aaron was home today, which definitely brings a certain amount of holiday spirit, but he was working in the basement. I know it is hard to imagine, but that mess is slowly being organized into a laundry space for me and an office space for him. No Christmas colors down there.

I did find one last Christmas project on my table to work on. It helped a little bit, but not much. Here are the raw materials:

Here is the finished product on the left. On the right is a necklace for Brynn.

Giving that to her felt a little more like Christmas!

I guess there is a reason the "Twelve Days of Christmas" feel out fashion. It's hard to hold on to that "Christmas feeling!" But, that's my project for the next few days.

Then I'll have a new project: take down the Christmas feeling and box it up in the basement for next year.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I Forgot

As I worked on all my baking the past week or two, I just knew I was FORGETTING something. I made sugar cookies and spry cookies. I made fudge. I made more sugar cookies and I made ginger cookies. I even tried gingerbread, which the entire family decided would NOT be one of our traditions. Still, I knew I was missing something.
Well, thank goodness for TV personality Kelly Ripa. I was watching her show - ONLY because I was feeding the baby - and she mentioned that she made her husband Mexican Wedding Cakes. "That's it," I thought. "Aaron loves those!" Which explains why I was FORGETTING them. When it comes to Christmas, I am a very traditional person, and these cookies were not part of my tradition growing up. So, I decided to make them.
Then there was a new problem: neither of my trusty cookbooks had a recipe. In the back of my mind I suspected that there was another name for these treats but it just wasn't coming to me. Then, last night, as I was mixing yet another batch of frosting, it came to me: Russian Tea Cakes! (Still wondering how the Mexicans and the Russians came up with the same recipe....)
This morning, Ian and I set about making "a surprise for Daddy." I went to get our camera to capture this memory (and blog material), but I had FORGOTTEN: Aaron had the camera at work.
So, that is why my usually photo-filled blog is empty.
If you would like to use your imagination, picture a small boy in a baseball cap, leaning against a kitchen table, COVERED in powdered sugar.
I did take pictures with my trusty 35mm camera, but as you know (but Brynn does not) that type of camera does not provide instant gratification pictures.
Hopefully, I haven't FORGOTTEN anything else, because Christmas starts tomorrow, and then it will be too late!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Twas the Week Before Christmas

And all through the house,
the creatures were stirring,
especially the Mom trying to get everything done.
I LOVE getting ready for Christmas.
So, I've been busy doing all sorts of things, which made me too busy to blog. (GASP!)
Well, mostly I haven't blogged because I haven't finished anything. Everything I've been working on has been in stages, so I've been making progress on many things, but finishing nothing. Finally, I have finished a few things up and I feel compelled to share them.
First: BLAIR's name.
Blair is a little too young for Christmas, so I didn't really get her many presents (she doesn't really need any more toys) but if I don't give her anything, the other kids will notice. So, I decided to do the letters in her name (that makes FIVE presents!). I've done this for each of the other two:

Brynn's is made out of ribbon-wrapped floral wire with some butterfly stickers.

Ian's are just foam letters from the craft store.

For Blair, I used the extra wooden letters from my "Christmas Banner" project - plus a few more I had to buy to actually spell her name. I used acrylic paint instead of mod podging paper.

Then I cut out paper flowers and mod podged those on to the wood.

The letters will sit on Blair's other Christmas present: a white shelf.
Merry Christmas to a 3-month-old.
Second: Christmas Baking
At least it is done for now. If Aaron doesn't find the stash of frozen cookies before Christmas actually gets here (just kidding, I am as guilty as he is).

The kids "helped" decorate.
Third: Christmas Shopping and Wrapping
I shouldn't declare this done, because I do still have two gifts to finish making and then wrap, but I had such a fun little helper last night.

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas"

Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Oh the weather outside is frightful..."

"and since we've no place to go"
do a project, do a project, do a project.
Or blog about them.
A while back, I posted about my project table. Well, there is good news and there is bad news.
The bad news is that the table is still piled high:

And it has expanded:

But the good news is that I have managed to finished some of the projects that were piled up on it, before other projects took their place. I got the family Christmas letter written and mailed.
I finished the dress that I was making for Aaron's Christmas party and my sister's wedding:

I had my sister and nieces over and we made the Christmas tree ornaments that I had been hoarding cardboard tubes for:

And although I don't have a picture to prove it, I started working on a Christmas present for Blair. I'll put that up some other time.

For some reason, the nasty weather outside has motivated the whole family to get things done!
Brynn and I worked on Christmas cookies.
Of course we had to wear army helmets to finish this job!

Aaron and Ian worked in the basement, doing more to fix up the mess down there:

And Blair really did look adorable as she practiced pulling her shoulders up out of her bouncer!
What are we going to find to do during the blizzard tomorrow?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Aaron's Project

Aaron hasn't gotten any credit on this blog lately for all the things he has been getting done around the house, so I thought I'd take a few minutes to give him some props.
When we bought our house, it came with all the appliances. They all worked so we didn't pay them much attention as we worked on other things around the place. Then one day the dryer died. Aaron went on Craig's List and found a really good deal and we thought all our problems were solved. Thought being the key word. Aaron got the dryer into the basement, hooked it up, and realized there was no dryer vent to the outside. All this time, our gas dryer had been venting into the basement. Not such a good thing.
So, last weekend, Aaron got to work to fix that not-so minor problem. As usual, the former owner of the house made this project a little more difficult then it needed to be: there really was no good place to PUT the vent. Aaron managed to surmount that problem.

Ian got to help too, which delighted him!
Then I got to try out the finished product. Aaron couldn't understand why I wasn't as excited to do laundry as he was....
Thank you Aaron! We are all grateful that we won't get carbon-monoxide poisoning.

Unfortunately for Aaron, a successful conclusion to this project motivated him to do some more work in the basement: move the washer from it's odd location in the middle of the room to a better spot beside the dryer. This project did not go as smoothly, since it involved working with the former owner's (who shall remain nameless) unique plumbing style. After removing 10-15 feet of needlessly looping pipe, repairing the kitchen sink (you wouldn't believe that this would be part of a basement wash machine project), dealing with bizarrely sized fittings and early morning races to Menards, plus the inner workings of the washing machine itself, I almost have a normally situated laundry station.

I love my husband!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Fun with Cousins

Last summer, I pulled the instructions for a really fun project out of one my favorite magazines: "Family Fun"
A few weeks ago I was sorting through my pile of torn out magazine parts and I came across the article again. I wanted to try it out, but it was WAY to girlie for Ian. The solution to my problem was to invite the Koenig cousins (all girls) over for a project day.
Here they are with Brynnie. My sister-in-law Alison and her two oldest girls.

Basically we took pieces of ribbon, folded them into loopy flower shapes and sewed them on to shirts, using buttons to make the centers. It turned out to not be a very kid-friendly project, although they did enjoy playing with the ribbon and buttons.
Here is my finished product.

I am so annoyed at myself, I forgot to get a picture with all the little girls in their newly decorated shirts.
Ian wasn't totally left out, however. I had some "Army" iron-on appliques for him and a tan shirt. We ironed those on and he was as happy as could be.
I think the kid's favorite part of the morning, however, was when they all climbed onto the couch with Auntie Alison/Mom and got a story!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Projects

Yesterday was a good day!
I got almost all of my Christmas decorations put up, despite my children's well-meant help.
In order to get those decorations up, I had to finish two of the projects that were clogging my project table, which only added to the goodness of the day.

The first project was a Christmas banner that I bought supplies for last January in the post-holiday clearance bins. I got the idea out of a catalog - Pottery Barn I think.
The supplies were pretty simple:
  1. Wooden letters
  2. Scrapbook paper (2 letters per 12x12 sheet)
  3. Mod Podge and brush
The first step is to glue the letters to the paper, making sure that the pattern on the paper is pointing in the right directions. Start with the back of the letters. The second step is to trim around the letters, leaving about 1/8" overhang (more if the letters are thicker). At this point I started wishing that I had chosen letters with fewer curves and details. I used a scissors, but I think a razor blade might have worked better.
Next, make cuts in the fringe to make tabs so that as you glue the tabs to the sides of the letters you can bend around the curves. This part of the process was painfully slow as I had to dab glue and then hold for a few seconds and then repeat all the way around. I have plans for other letter banners but because of this I think I will use paint instead of paper.
After you have the backs of all the letters done, turn them over and do the same process all over again on the front.
I had planned to attach the letters together and hang them with a ribbon, but I never found a ribbon that matched correctly or wasn't too busy, so instead I settled on fishing line. Turn all the letters over AND REVERSE THE ORDER (I almost forgot that part). Then I ran a bead of hot glue along the top of each letter and pressed the fishing line into it. On the first and last letters I made a small loop of line so that I could hang the whole thing.
After a few small repairs, touch-ups and adjustments, the banner was ready to hang.

The other project I finished up yesterday was not nearly as labor intensive (thank goodness).
I also stole this idea, this time from a magazine - possibly Better Homes and Gardens.
This project was for outside my front door, so the first step was to send my willing helpers outside to collect sticks. It was a foggy day and they loved the adventure.
Then, when one willing helper was taking her nap, I let the other willing helper help me paint the sticks bright red. Thankfully his hands weren't big enough to actually push the spray button, so he just helped me hold the can.

My wonderful husband gave me these two huge flower planters for my birthday, and I realized that since they were red they would be perfect for this project. In the very bottom I put some old smashed up bricks to weight the pots down. Then I used a bunch of old packaging material, boxes and styrofoam to fill up the space.

While the kids had been collecting sticks, I had pruned some of our evergreens. So, for the next step I shoved the evergreen branches and red sticks into the cardboard in the pot, from about the center of the pot to the back. Obviously the taller pieces go in the back. It's not the best picture, but you get the idea.

Then I laid some fake evergreen garland in the front part of the pot and used it to cover the boxes and other filler. On top of that went some white Christmas lights. Finally I carried them outside.

A few more garlands, more lights, and some ribbon and my front porch and door were done. Now I can feel like I am really welcoming my Christmas guests.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Widow's Weekend

It's November in Wisconsin and that means deer hunting.
When I was younger, this meant packing up the warmest and orangest clothes I could find and heading up north. It also meant slogging through the snow in the five-in-the-morning frozen dark to get to my deer stand, where I sat freezing until the five-in-the-evening frozen dark hoping that Bambi would walk past so I could blast him (and stop freezing for a while). Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't.
Then I got married.
Now, people tell you that marriage changes everything. I don't know if I totally agree with that, but it did change my deer hunting schedule, because I have little kids and can't go. Now I get up at six-thirty-in-the-morning frozen dark and go turn up the thermostat. Then I get in the warm shower. After that things really get warm (as in my temper) as I try and get three little kids out the door by nine. I'm not heading to a tree stand either! I'm heading to my Mom's house for our annual "Deer Hunting Widow's Weekend" get-together.
The cousins play happily (and unhappily) together while we widows eat all the yummy treats we put together when our husbands abandon us (note: My husband wasn't deer hunting this year, but he was still gone for the day, so I still got to participate.)

Ian and Molly - Ian was the only boy, and he did bring his rifle in case we needed "tecting."
Mia and Ellie redecorated the living room.

After all the food was eaten, we widows did do a small service project to justify our fun time while our men were out trying to be the hunter-gatherer types. We cut out fabric and sewed on cords to make parachutes. These parachutes are used to drop radios that are pre-set to Christian radio stations to guerrillas in Central America. (I forgot to get the name of the organization from my Mom. Sorry.)

Jamie sewing on the cords.
Tandis writing "Dios es Amor" (God is love) on the fabric,
Margo melting the ends of the cords,
and Mom sewing.

The finished project.

By the end of the day, we had made several dozen parachutes.

Our men got one deer.

Who had the better season?