Saturday, July 21, 2012

Homemade Wrapping Paper

A few years back I acquired a large roll of butcher paper.  This paper has served many purposes: table coverings, blank canvases for many art projects, etc.  However, my favorite use of this paper is to create homemade wrapping paper. 

Ever since the Owl has been old enough to hold a Do-A Dot marker he's been decorating the wrapping paper for all his friend's gifts.  Using do-a dots, crayons, stickers, markers, even paint we've decorated one of  kind wrapping paper to adorn our gifts.  

This morning, the Owl surprised me with actually drawing a race car for his friend.  He spent about 30 minutes creating his masterpiece, of which he is so proud. I know he will be delivering his present with a huge smile on his face today!!

Rolls of paper can be purchased at any school supply or office supply company.  However, if you have paper mills near by you may want to contact them to see if they would donate remnants, scraps or overstock to you!  

If you don't have any butcher paper on hand, recycling brown paper bags from the grocery store works well too!

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Walk Around Quincy Bog

We've had a week of very hot and humid days, but luckily today was a perfect day for an outdoor adventure. We headed north to Quincy Bog in Rumney, just about 10 minutes off of Tenney Mountain Highway in Plymouth.  What a fabulous find!  Part of the adventure, which my two loved, was crossing  NH Covered Bridge #44, Smith Covered Bridge  over the Baker River on our way there.

Information ( trail maps, nature programs, flora/fauna guides, directions) about the Bog can be found here

At the parking lot  was an information board chuck full of interesting facts about the bog.  Recent animal, flora and fauna sightings were listed as were maps, wildlife guides, etc.  Looking at the information board at the trail head has become quite popular with our little group!

Around our very first corner of the hike, brought flashbacks to a recent hike where Sassy Sis ended up in the marshlands.  Ahead of us, as far as the eye could see, were planks crossing over outlying parts of the Bog.

Luckily, Sassy Sis stayed on the planks, bridges, and walkways - which made up at least 50% of the hike.  She's learning and ALL of the helpful reminders from her hiking friends helped her as well, I'm sure.

The walk here was easy.  It was just over a mile and level ( aka flat) the whole way.  It made for a nice leisurely  walk which resulted in our little one really taking notice of the plants and animals living in this environment.

Sassy Sis made sure to keep us on the blue trail at all times.  The trail loops around the bog, beginning and ending at the simple/barebones nature center.

Tadpoles, bull frogs, water bugs, water lilies, and beaver chomped tree stumps were all noticed today!

We stopped many times to have a closer look at something interesting someone else found.

The kids liked seeing that we were walking around in a circle, around the outside of the bog.  

The ever popular snack swap stop!

 So proud of Sissy today as she paid attention and stayed on the path/bridges/walkway the whole walk!

Once back at the nature center - we went inside to see some simple displays of the animals and plants which call this habitat home. The numerous pairs of binoculars were VERY popular.  The little ones enjoyed watching a great blue heron in the middle of the bog.  They also enjoyed getting a closer look at the beaver lodge!

Overall, Quincy Bog was a fabulous walk out in nature with our little ones.  All of the different animals and plants kept their attention and peaked their curiosity.  The planks, boardwalks, and wooden bridges also made it an exciting area to explore.  We'll definitely be back! 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Farm Sensory Tote

For the past two weeks we've been studying the letter F. 
 ( A post is coming soon with all of our F activities).  Of course, we needed to have a themed sensory tote to go with our letter study.  Even though most of our letter F study centered around Fire/fireman - I knew that a farm sensory tote would be very welcomed and let's not overlook the fact that it was easy for me to put together!!

Here it us our $3 Farm Sensory Tote.....

Everything we needed for this tote we had on hand, other then the filler.  I purchased two large bags of popcorn kernels and one bag of yellow lentils for a whooping $3.

Another view....

Tote Items:

Mini John Deere Barn
John Deere Tractors
Hale Bales
Wooden Fence
Wooden and Plastic Farm Animals
Plastic Fence
Crops - twisted pieces of green pipe cleaner pushed into brown play-doh.
Feed Buckets - mini play-doh container filled with green raffia
Water Troughs - lids of mini play-doh containers with a little bit of water. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hamlin Park Hike

Today we headed to Hamlin Park, off of Chemung Road, in Meredith for our hike.  It was  the perfect place to get out in the woods for a bit.  All  of our little ones weren't on their "A" game today.  After a week of late nights due to fireworks, family and friends visiting, and the craizness of summer days, they were all a bit tired. Luckily, Hamlin Park, is mostly a stroll through the woods, which was just what we needed today.

We did the blue loop trail.  It was a mostly level 1.2 mile walk through the woods. Information, including a color coded map with explanations on each trail, can be found here.  There were also printed maps available at the trialhead.

The trail had lots of great bridges - of which the Sassy Sis fell off of NONE! In fact, she stayed on the path and was in the same condition at the end of the hike as she was at the beginning.  Some of my friends say I should take a prehike photo of Sis and then another picture at the end of the hike.  Usually, she is disshelved, bowless, and covered in mud/muck at the end of the hike.  Today, she just ended bowless.  Ahh, maybe my little girl is finally growing up some and learning to stay on the path!!

There were lots of great climbing rocks for the Owl and his buddy P - or Super Girl and Super Boy - as they were referring to each other today!  

The trail was well maintained. There were some muddy areas, but most of them had sturdy wooden bridges over them. They were well marked as well.  In fact Sassy Sis was able to help us keep on the blue trail - our trail of choice today.

There were lots of other trails, to many different ecosystems.  We will definitely need to go back again to explore more of the area. It truly is the perfect place for little ones to explore!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Craft Bag Exchange

One of the mother's in my Mama's Group suggested a craft bag exchange - what a fabulous idea. Since our busy bag exchange was such a success, I offered to organize and host the swap.

 What's a craft bag? Simply, it is a prepped craft in a ziploc bag, pretty simple, right? Each mama had to select a craft, prep all the materials for the craft, and assemble a ziploc bag with: picture of finished craft, directions, and materials.

 We had 18 mamas sign up and a total of 22 craft bags. Some of us mamas with two children decided to do two different bags, so we could collect two of each bag at the exchange. That way each of our children would have a  bag when it came time to crafting.

  The rules were simple: 
 1. Pick a craft 
 2. Compile and prep all of the materials you will need for this craft. 
 3. Put materials and directions ( which includes a photo of the finished product) in a ziploc bag.
 4. Make the same bag for each participant in our exchange. 
 5. Make the quality of bag you would like to receive in return.

As a group we decided  that crayons, colored pencils, glue, and scissors would NOT be supplied in bags - all other items needed for the craft would need to be included in the bag.

The swap went off without a hitch!  Everyone showed up and everyone made high quality bags.  Everyone also made an extra bag for a dear friend who is going through treatment for chronic Lyme Disease.  (See her story here. ) These are the bags I ended up with!  WOW....that is a lot of fun art activities to do with the little ones this summer! 

I started a Craft Bag Exchange board on Pinterest.  Some, but not all of the ideas for the craft bags came from there.  I have lots of other crafts on other boards, too that would work well for this!

Here's each bag from our swap, with a link ( if available) to a full tutorial!  Enjoy!

Frog Felt Purse

Americana Window Box Collage - an original idea by my friend Kristin!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Ooo La La Giveaway and Kid's Cake Decorating Party

My family has always been cake snobs.  Even after moving to New Hampshire we would always have a family member transport up the cake, for any special occasion, from our favorite bakery in Rhode Island.  We could never find a bakery that could even come close to their quality, until we met LaShunda of Ooo La La Creative Cakes.   

LaShunda's cakes are not only delicious, but they are true works of art.  She is truly a master at her trade and she has single-handedly made my 3.5 year old into a cake snob.  He can scope out a La La cake at any party and he is definitely her youngest, but biggest fan. 

You can check out her creations at or on her FB page here

Our latest cake from La La was Emmaline's birthday cake.  A delicious vanilla cake with cream cheese filling and fresh strawberries. Have I mentioned La La makes the world's best buttercream? You can give La La any theme for your celebration and she will be able to outdo all of your expectations. 

La Shunda offers cake decorating parties - for both women and kids.  We hosted a kid's cake decorating class for some of our friends. LaShunda brings a 4 inch cupcake for each child to decorate.  Each cake, chocolate or vanilla, was covered on the sides with fondant and topped with the her delicious buttercream.  The cost for each child to participate is $10. 

 LaShunda explained to the kids how to decorate their cake.  They had edible food markers as well as gel food coloring to paint their cakes.

The little ones really were excited to decorate their cake and they both did a fabulous job!  They were so proud of their finished products.  Of course they all wanted to be able to dig in to enjoy their creations!


Look at that determination and focus!  They were both in the cake decorating zone!  So cute!

Congratulations to Carey H. for winning the giveaway!!

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Monday, July 2, 2012

4th of July Sensory Tote

I'm a firm believer that sensory play is essential to a preschooler's development.  Through sensory play not only are the senses awakened, but so is the imagination. Citibabes has a great synopsis of the benefits of sensory play here. 

One of our favorite ways to have sensory play is through a sensory tote.  Sensory totes are a compilation of  various materials, usually related to one theme, that the little ones can explore and play with.  I'm always amazed with how these simple items can be used by my two.

For a sensory tote you need a filler item - this is the main item of the sensory bin.  Filler ideas: colored rice, pasta, dried beans, popcorn kernels, shredded paper, lentils.  For this tote I used colored rice.  Did you know you can color rice with Kool Aid?  Check out the recipe here.  The colors aren't as vibrant as using alcohol and food coloring, but I love the scent that comes from the Kool Aid.

The rest of the items in my tote come from the dollar section at Target and Joanne's.  Along with some items from the Dollar Tree.  

Tote Items:
3- small white metal pails ( Dollar Tree wedding section)
4th of July sunglasses
2-Metal 4th of July buckets
Felt Stars
Foam 4th of July pieces
4th of July tattoos ( hidden well!)
2- star containers of bubbles
star confetti
2- star floral decoration "wands" 

** I will also put out some scoops and spoons to use with this tote**

This tote I put together on my own, but I recently found a sensory tote exchange online!  I can't wait to receive my items for a transportation tote this month! Everyone in the exchange has found/made such unique items for it!