Winter Checklist – Update #2

We are a week away from Christmas! That’s a bit hard to believe. … I’m not sure where this month has gone. But, the countdown is definitely on. We have already accomplished a lot from our list…..which is good because 2017 is quickly coming to a close…..

So, now I give you ……. “A Very Busy Weekend”

Earlier this month, we knocked off two items from our list in one weekend: Renegade Craft Fair and Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo. We had a great weekend, of course. The problem was the weather….. The weather was amazing! Sunny! Not cold at all! So that means that everyone was out and about trying to enjoy the weather.

We made some fun purchases at the Craft Fair. (Always nice to shop small businesses for the holidays.) I can’t show our purchases right now because many of them are going to be unwrapped as gifts. 🙂


This statue is outside of the building where the Craft Fair was held. The same weekend last year? That statue was covered in snow…..

Since the weekend was so beautiful, we also took the time (and literally a lot of time because it took an hour longer to get to the zoo than it should normally because of traffic) to go to Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo.


This was also the night of the “Super Moon” which is definitely evident in this photo. That moon sure is super! Once we got to the zoo, it was great…..well….once we were parked and had finally entered the zoo entrance, it was great. The weather was fantastic! The zoo was really packed (which is just what happens when the weather is almost warm in December) but it was nice to go and not feel like we’re freezing our feet off.

The list thus far:

Getting Stuff Done While Taking It Easy

Baby girl has arrived!  We are now a family of four!

I’ve been trying to find a balance between getting things done around the house and taking it easy so that I can fully recuperate.  Ryan is home with the girls and I but I have a hard time just sitting still especially if both kiddos are napping at the same time.  I do have a lot of things that I want to get done but I keep having to remind myself that I have all summer to get them done.

  • Work ahead on grad school stuff.  I’m only taking one class this summer and it will be over at the end of June.  My goal is to work ahead as much as possible so that I don’t have to stress about it.
  • Do some garden planning.  Ryan has been doing a ton of work in the garden so far.  We are going to (hopefully) have a lot of veggies this summer.  My goal is to do some planning in the flower garden(s) so we know what will move and what will stay.
  • Craft projects.  I have a couple projects planned for art pieces for each of the girls.  I’m also pondering doing something with the step stool that is currently serving as a magazine holder in the bathroom.  I’ll keep you updated when I get to those.
  • Sleep. Sleep. Sleep.
  • And…….the most important thing that we’ll be doing this summer is soaking up as much family time as we possibly can.

That basically sums up my summer.  What is your summer going to look like?

Owl Collage

One of my summer projects was to complete this collage.  It looked like it would be pretty easy because there is a pattern to print out.  Once I started the project, I was very happy when it turned out to be just as easy and it had appeared to be.

The end result?  Well, Ryan thought that I had purchased it.  So, I guess it turned out pretty nicely.  🙂


Finished piece. Instead of the one owl in the original example, I made mine with two.

That’s one more thing from my summer to-do list that I can cross off.

Christmas Discovery Bottles

Discovery/sensory bottles are all over Pinterest.  I made some after seeing this post and this one.  They are pretty easy to make and Peanut seems to enjoy them.  I’ve made some with beads, some with glitter and some with pipe cleaners.

In case you happen to have some plastic bottles and are looking for a project to do, I’d like to share some things that I’ve learned when making these:

  • Use a small bottle.  I’ve made mine with single serving sized Coke Zero bottles.  A full size bottle would just be too heavy for Peanut to really play with.
  • Use different items in each bottle.  This adds some interest to the bottle since the items will fall/move at different rates.
  • Avoid pipe cleaners.  I found that they started to rust (or something) and turned the water a murky green color.  Gross.
  • Avoid glitter in bright colors.  I made one with purple glitter and all of the purple bled into the water.  You could barely see the glitter falling because the water was so dark.
  • Once the water is close to the top, add the rest of the water very, very, very slowly.  Several times, I had to search for beads in the kitchen sink because the water would spill out over the top taking along the beads.
  • Have fun with them!  Encourage your little one to play with the bottles however they want to.  Peanut likes to roll the bottles, shake them, and pretend that she’s drinking a Coke Zero.  (Monkey see.  Monkey do.)

I found a large bag of Christmas beads in the $1 section of a craft store and made these.  The different beads fall at different rates.  Peanut likes them a lot.


Paper Dot Garland – How-to

I made a garland for baby girl’s birthday party.  It was easy although a bit time-consuming.  It would’ve been great if I had been able to find circle paper punches instead of having to cut out all of the circles.  Oh well.

I found this site that helped me to get started.  They used paper with a sticky backing.  If you can find that, I’m sure that that makes this project amazingly easy to complete.

  1. Cut out circles.  Lots and lots of circles.  This is why it would be great to have a paper punch to help you out.
  2. Fold the circles in half.
  3. Glue two circles together along one side.

    Two circles glued together.

    Two circles glued together.

  4. Repeat and allow to dry completely.
  5. Apply glue to one of the dry pieces and sandwich ribbon between two of the dry pieces.  (You should now have four circles glued together.)

    Let dry completely.

    Let dry completely.

  6. Repeat until you get the finished design that you are hoping for.
  7. Hang your garland!
    I made some with multiple colors to hang from dining room light.

    I made some with multiple colors to hang from dining room light.

    The garland was draped across the window.

    The garland was draped across the window.

A holly jolly wreath

As is probably not very surprising, I enjoy watching Martha Stewart.  I especially love it when she does something that I actually think that I could accomplish.  Last year, I was watching one of her segments in which she was making wreaths for Christmas.  I got the crazy idea that maybe this was one of those things that didn’t just look like it was easy to do.  Maybe this project actually was pretty easy.  You can find a similar video here.

To ensure that all of the work that I put into my wreath would last longer than a couple weeks, I bought a couple garlands of artificial greenery from Michaels.

This really is a great craft project.  It doesn’t take that much time and it really is pretty easy.

If you are trying to make your wreath last from year to year by using artificial greenery, be prepared to refill the wreath over time.  There are many branches of greenery and holly berries scattered around our back porch from storage.

Fixing those ugly bar stools

When we moved into our apartment, we first had to deal with a lot of stuff that had been abandoned by the previous renters. The ugly couch and loveseat? Out to the curb. The microwave oven with stand? Out to the curb. The medicine cabinet still full of toothbrushes, toothpaste, other medicine cabinet things? Everything dumped into a bag, then sprayed down with Lysol several times. The elephant and giraffe shaped plant holders? They functioned as parking space markers until they were thrown away. The old tv? To my sister. The horribly ugly lamps? To my brother. The side table? To my brother. The strange giant beer stein? To my brother. (He’s a college student. He needs ugly stuff to fill out his apartment)

The ugly bar stools? I’ve got a plan to make them not-so-ugly.

I got the idea when I saw this person’s etsy page. I bet I could do that. It probably wouldn’t look nearly as good. But why not?

I found an outdated transit system map and proceeded to search for other maps. I tried to stay Chicago and/or Illinois related. Using one of the greatest crafting materials ever invented, I was able to cover these two ugly bar stools. They may not look great, but they look a lot better.

If you want to try this out, I have some suggestions. Don’t be afraid to get messy. This works best if you really get your hands in it. I tried just using a foam brush, but it just doesn’t work as well as getting your hands into the project. If you are doing a bar stool or a chair, do the underside first. Then be sure to cover the very top of the legs and the very bottom of the legs. Once those are done, you can stand the chair or bar stool up and work quickly. Try to pick a material that holds some significance for you. Perhaps newspapers from an important date? Maps from a family vacation? Or maybe you are looking for magazine clippings that are of the same color? That might look pretty cool, too. When complete, be sure to cover the entire thing with more adhesive to form a protective coating.

Have fun!