Cardboard Tube Christmas Village

I've always loved those little snowy villages that people decorate with during the holidays. When I was a kid my friend's mother would construct an intricate holiday scene complete with miniature kids sledding and tiny bundled-up carolers on her mantle. I could stare at that village for hours imagining which neatly decorated house I would live in, and which snowy hill would be the best for sledding.
These days Christmas doesn't feel quite so full of wonder, and living in Los Angeles means it certainly isn't snowy. So, to remind myself of those tiny winter-wonderlands and simple holiday pleasures I decided to create a holiday village project that kids can construct themselves.
This village looks pretty displayed on a mantle, or it would make an adorable centerpiece for the kid's table during your holiday meal!

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Winter White Walnut Ornament


Here's a very kid-friendly version of the Gilded Walnut. This one uses paint and glitter to make a snowy white walnut for hanging on your tree, so simple and pretty!

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Comfort Food: Beef and Guinness Pie

This recipe for Beef and Guinness pie might seem more appropriate for St. Patrick's day, but I thought the cold and rainy weather last night warranted a hearty winter meal. This really is the perfect cold weather comfort food -- beef, mushrooms and carrots braised in beef broth and Guinness and then baked into a puff pastry crust. 
What's not to love??
I couldn't find exactly the recipe I was looking for, so I adapted this one from an Epicurious recipe found here and combined it with a Jamie Oliver recipe, which I found here
This is a weekend recipe, meaning you'll need to devote some time to it. The meat needs to braise slowly in the oven for a few hours, cool, and then get baked into the pie. 
The smell of this cooking is incredible, and after a few hours you may be tempted to skip the pastry crust and just dive into the stew....
But, trust me, the texture and flavor of the pie is heavenly -- worth the effort, and the wait.

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Owl Walnut Ornament


Harry Potter fans are sure to approve of a tree filled with owls.  This cute little hoot is made from a walnut -- such a budget-friendly way to decorate a tree!
My favorite part is that instead of hanging on hooks, these little birds perch on the branches using pipe cleaners.
Did you know that a group of owls is actually called a parliament? Who knew?
Check out the tutorial and then create your own parliament of Christmas owls.

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Gilded Walnut Ornament


It's Monday and I'm finally back with some NEW ideas.
I hope your Thanksgiving was fantastic. Mine was really lovely this year -- lots of good friends, great food and TWO Turkeys - yum! I think I finally figured out my system for prep and set-up and I'm going to write up the whole plan in my organizer to be sure I don't forget. I'll share that as soon as I get it together!
Now, with Thanksgiving over, it's time to get into the Christmas spirit. We wasted no time this year and bought our tree on Saturday. The weather here in Los Angeles has been cold  (by LA standards) and that's really helped to set the holiday mood. With the tree up, and some of my favorite Christmas music playing, I've turned my dining room table into a Christmas workshop and I have some really cute, EASY, decorations to share with you this week.
First up -- this beautiful Gilded Walnut Ornament. I had a big bowl of Walnuts left over from Thanksgiving and I thought their shape and cool texture would make for some really pretty decorations. Check out the Gilded Walnut tutorial today, and check back for two more Walnut ornament ideas.

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Squash & Hazelnut Soup

Get the recipe here
Happy almost-Thanksgiving! I'm full of Thanksgiving-ness today, I have a to-do list two pages long, and last minute cleaning and organizing to do - but I'm SO excited for a day full of good friends, good food, and giving thanks.
Here's a recipe that you might want to add to your Thanksgiving line-up. I developed this savory soup for the movie Tangled -- it's Rapunzel's favorite squash soup topped with roasted hazelnuts . I suggest trying it with fresh chives and crispy bacon bits - delish! Get this cozy fall recipe at Disney's Family.com here.

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Disney's Tangled: Pascal Cupcakes


It's Monday and I have yet another Disney project to share. In the movie Tangled Rapunzel's companion is a little chameleon named Pascal. He is too cute for words, and as his mood changes so does his color and expression -- I designed these cupcakes to capture the many moods of Pascal. 
The little blue version definitely looks like he has a case of the Mondays, but it's Thanksgiving week and I'm grateful for so many things in my life -- so, I'm feeling like the green guy today. How are you doing? I hope you're feeling like the green guy too!
Get the full tutorial here, at Disney's family.com.

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Disney's Prep and Landing Snow Globe Ornament

click here for the full tutorial

Check out the snow globe ornaments I designed for Disney's holiday special Prep and Landing. It's the funny, sweet story of the elves who prepare the way for Santa on Christmas eve. These ornaments would make great keepsakes or homemade holiday gifts. Head over to Disney's family.com for the full tutorial!

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Lampshade Princess Tower


How cute is this Princess Party centerpiece?? 
I love it -- it's sweet, whimsical and fun...
Oh, and it's made from a lampshade!! Yup, a lampshade. 
This project is perfect for your next party, or for decorating a princess-themed bedroom.

Of course, there are TONS of princess supplies on the market, but a lot of them are a little too flashy for my taste -- sequins, magenta, just too much bling. I wanted to create something soft, sweet, and homespun. I spotted a tall narrow lampshade at Ikea and knew I could turn it into the perfect princess palace. A little felt, a little hot glue, and you have a place any princess would be proud to call home.

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Joyful Mantle Decor


Happy Friday! 
Just a joyful little project to take you into the weekend. I designed this JOY sign to decorate a mantle, but it would bring holiday cheer to any room in the house. You can design your stars to say anything you like, but I'm feeling full of joy this week and it's spilling into my crafting. 
The little white buckets are from Target's fabulous dollar bins, and the felt stars were actually purchased at Ikea. In case you don't have an Ikea nearby I've included a template for the stars which would be simple to make using stiffened red felt. A fun budget project that will bring lots of joy to your holiday decor.
Have a great weekend, I'll be back next week with more ideas to share!

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Disney's Tangled Tower

for the tutorial, click here
When Disney asked me to create some crafts for their new movie Tangled I was thrilled. I've always loved the Rapunzel fairytale, and this fresh take on the story is fantastic. 
If you've seen the trailer for Tangled you've seen Rapunzel's beautiful tower. I LOVE that image and I just had to build my own. This Tangled tower is made using a paper towel tube. Wouldn't it look so pretty as a party centerpiece, or bedroom decor for a Tangled fan? Go to Disney's family.com to get the step by step tutorial and templates. 

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Best Post Ever


Oh-my-BLOG! I'm sure you've noticed things have been pretty quiet here at MirandaMade. I still have tons of projects to share for Thanksgiving and lots of crafty goodness coming your way, but I was stopped in my tracks by two things:

1. A painful run-in with strep throat. Yay for antibiotics!
2. The HAPPIEST day of my life!! EVER.

Dear blog readers, I just got -- ENGAGED!! It was a beautiful surprise, and I think I'm still in shock. My wonderful boyfriend Matt is now my wonderful fiance.
I'm madly in love, bursting with excitement ... and I keep singing that song from Love, Actually in my head. You know the one -- "Love is all around us, it's everywhere we go..."

Thank you so much for bearing with me while I try to get my head out of the clouds and back down to earth.

I'll be back with more craft loveliness soon!

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Getting Organized: Birthday Binder


I have a confession -- I'm bad at birthdays. I'm a terrible card-sender, I'm a negligent birthday remember-er, I'm a forgetful gift-giver.

I have family and friends who have never missed a birthday, Christmas, or graduation - not one special occasion ever slips their minds. Cards arrive promptly with lovely messages and sweet sentiment. Receiving these cards always means so much, and I know the time and energy that goes into sending them.

So, I've decided to change. How? With a Birthday Binder full of the tools for thoughtful and organized card sending and gift giving.

There are a few things that trip me up, here they are in no special order:

1. I don't remember dates well.
2. I forget to buy cards.
3. I get stumped picking out gifts.
4. Where are those stamps?

I'm happy to say this binder is the perfect fix. Here's all you need to make your own!

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Thanksgiving Table: Felt Rosette Napkin Rings


On Thanksgiving the turkey takes center stage, but I still love setting the scene with a beautiful table. As we count down to Thanksgiving I'll be sharing budget-friendly ideas for creating holiday tablescapes, starting with these pretty felt napkin rings.

I wanted to use a soft, nature-inspired, color palette and I thought cream and sage would look warm and welcoming on a Thanksgiving table.  The combination of felt and jute twine is rustic yet refined -- and oh-so pretty! The secret behind these napkin rings is what they're made with -- paper towel tubes -- so simple and inexpensive. Check back for place card and centerpiece ideas that compliment this neutral fall theme.

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Turkey-Shaped Apple Tarts


I can't believe it's already November!  October flew by, but I'm ready for Thanksgiving crafts and recipes.
I wanted to create a fun, kid-friendly, Thanksgiving dessert that's not too fussy. These little guys are adorable and really easy to make. Use a combination of sweet and tart apples for delicious flavor without lots of sugar or spices. You can make your own pie dough, or buy it pre-made from the store to save on time.

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Thanksgiving Countdown Wreath


It's almost November and I'm so excited to be be kicking off the holiday season with this "Many Thanks" countdown wreath. I LOVE Thanksgiving -- family, friends, delicious food and the chance to sit down and reflect on all of the things I'm thankful for. 

This wreath is designed to remind us to be thankful all month long, not just on Thanksgiving. There's a numbered clothespin-leaf for each day of November. Write something that you and your family are thankful for on cut-out leaves and clip them to the clothespins, one day at a time. By the time you reach Thanksgiving your wreath will be full of leaves of thanks. 

On Thanksgiving read through the leaves and share your messages of gratitude with family and friends.
After Thanksgiving save the leaves of thanks, they make a beautiful addition to a holiday album or scrapbook, and they're fun to look back at year after year. The wreath itself can be saved and reused next season.

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Felt Halloween Ornaments


Yay!! It's here, the felt ornament tutorial I promised!!
You may be getting a bit Halloween-crafted-out, but I think these guys are so adorable they just can't be missed. Plus, they can be packed-away and saved for next year.

My tutorial is for the black cat, but you will use the same technique to make the Jack-o-Lantern.

Oh, just a note, this project uses straight pins which are pointy and small -- so it's really not for little ones.
Keep the ornaments out of reach of kids under 3, or anyone who likes to put small things (like buttons) into their mouths.

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Halloween Munch Mix


Last weekend friends invited us to a Halloween scary movie night. I'm really not a scary movie fan -- I'm too easily creeped out. But, I love an excuse to snack on Halloween candy, and isn't a movie night the best excuse?

I wouldn't call this a healthy snack and it definitely isn't gourmet, but the nutty wheat cereal and salty pretzels balance out the sweetness of the candy corn and, let me tell you, it's GOOD. It's the kind of good that will have you going back for handful after handful and telling yourself - it's just cereal!  Yup  - it's just cereal. Cereal glazed with melted white chocolate...
Don't think, just make it. Halloween is only once a year, right??

I made this big batch for a crowd, but this recipe is so flexible you could easily make a smaller batch or add your favorite Halloween candy to the mix.

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Disney's TRON Light Disc Toss

check out the tutorial at Family.com
Never heard of a Light Disc? Well, if you have a little (or big!) video game fan at home you're about to get very familiar with with these glowing neon discs. Disney's new movie TRON Legacy opens in theaters on December 17th and video game fans are going to go crazy for this high-tech cyberspace adventure.
You'll have to see the movie to get all of the answers about what Light Discs do. But, if you want to try crafting your own, check out the tutorial I did for Disney's Family.com here.

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Preschool Project: Coffee Filter Leaves


Happy Monday! I have so many things to share with you this week! With only a few days until Halloween I have more decorating and treat ideas to post, and a Thanksgiving project that I LOVE.

But first, check out this colorful coffee filter project that's perfect for preschoolers. Coffee filters are such a cool supply to add to your craft cabinet. Paint watercolors on their super-absorbent paper and you'll see why. The filter swallows up the water and the colors run together creating the most beautiful tie-dye effect. Preschoolers will love watching the colors blend and cutting out their own free-form leaves.

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Framed Robot Felt Board



I'm so excited to share this project -- I've been thinking about a build-your-own robot felt board since I designed this cupcake felt board a few weeks ago. 
These little bots are so expressive - create a variety of heads, bodies and limbs. Felt circles, squares and triangles are all you need. Add features like eyes and mouths. Kids will love building tons of different robots, and don't be surprised if you find yourself building right along with them. 

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FamilyFun's Bat-O-Lantern



It's been a very busy week, but I'll have lots of new ideas to share soon! While I put the finishing touches on some crafty things, check out this adorable Bat-o-Lantern project from FamilyFun magazine. These little guys are really cute, easy to make, and they're no-carve - which means less mess for you! For the Bat-o-Lantern instructions, and tons of other adorable halloween how-tos, check out FamilyFun.com

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Weekend Baking: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies


If you're looking for a delicious morsel of fall-goodness, I have just the cookie for you. These pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are moist with an almost cake-like texture and just the perfect hint of Cinnamon spice. I used this recipe, but skipped the walnuts. I also let them bake for just a few minutes longer than the 10 minutes the recipe suggests. Bake up a batch this weekend and then pack them away in an airtight container, they stay soft for days and are the perfect lunchbox treat.

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Felty Thumper Ears

check out the tutorial at Disney Preschool

Are you looking for a cozy, homemade, Halloween costume for your preschooler? How about Thumper, Bambi's spunky sidekick. I designed these no-sew Felt Thumper ears for Disney Preschool, and I love the idea of using them for a Halloween costume. Dress your little one in a soft grey sweatshirt and sweatpants, add a little cotton tail, and pop on these Thumper ears.  They're adorable and so easy to make, just hop on over to Disney Preschool for the tutorial and template.

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about the new design


Let me introduce you to the incredibly talented Lindsay, from Lindsay Nicole Design Studio. She's the html-savvy lady who whipped my boring blog into shape. Not only is she crazy talented, and creative - she's also completely lovely to work with. 
Did I mention she nailed my blog design on the first go-around? Seriously.
I gave Lindsay a few vague adjectives, and she (quickly!) put together the most lovely little blog I have ever seen. Then, just as fast, she was installing, troubleshooting and making all of my blog dreams come true. 

I couldn't be happier and, guess what, I have the BEST news -- she's giving away (for free!!) one of her amazing templates. Rush over to her truly inspiring design blog, Busy Thoughts, to enter to win. BUT, do it today, October 14th, because the sweepstakes closes at 5pm.

If you don't get to enter, that's okay, because Lindsay has tons of templates available for purchase on her website: Lindsay Nicole Design Studio 

Thank you for being so fabulous Lindsay, and helping to make MirandaMade!

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healthy snack: apple cheddar stacks


Apples and cheese is a classic, tasty, flavor combo. You have the bright, sweet flavor of the apple contrasting with the salty, creamy cheese - yum - it's a hit-the-spot snack. These little apple stacks are fun to eat, and they're quick to make. I used leaf and heart shaped fondant cutters for mine, but you can use whatever small shapes you have on hand.

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Take a look!


Notice anything different around here?? Yup, it's looking fresh and new and (in my opinion) really, really, pretty. I wish I could say this was my doing but in truth all of this loveliness is courtesy of two amazingly talented designers who helped me bring my new logo and blog design to life. 

I would love to introduce you to these two creative, smart, and all-around cool ladies -- so check back tomorrow for the full report!

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Halloween Door Hangers


Here's a simple way to decorate your door for Halloween. These pressed wood door hangers can be purchased at the craft store for about 50 cents each, and they're easy to dress up. The "Gone Witching" version is a play on those classic "Gone Fishing" signs. Too punny??
Painting the signs is easy, but write out your lettering with pencil before you start to paint. I had a classic Homer Simpson d'oh moment when I finished painting the "Gone Witching" sign (feeling oh so proud of my handiwork) only to realize that I had had spelled out "gone withing" - no c - d'oh!
Good thing you can always paint over your mistakes, and start fresh.
Check out the how-to, plus instructions for making that cute little witches' broom!

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Ghostly goodies


There are lots of cute ghost cupcake ideas out there, and this is my take on the fondant ghost. To make this little guy just lay a circle of fondant over a Dum-dum lollipop and then poke the lollipop into the cupcake. I love the way the lollipop stick makes the ghost look like he really is hovering over the cupcake, and the hidden lollipop is a fun treat. Check out the super-simple photo tutorial.

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Cool Pumpkin Milkshake


Not all pumpkin desserts have to be baked. This cool, creamy milkshake pairs perfectly with a hot Los Angeles fall. Spiced up pumpkin and vanilla ice cream blend to make a shake that's not too sweet, or over the top syrupy. Plus, pumpkin packs a vitamin punch -- it's full of beta-carotene, vitamin A and antioxidants . Yup, a dessert that's kinda good for you -- sweet!

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Shoelace Jack O'Lanterns


This shoelace Jack O' Lantern makes it easy to bring a little Halloween fun with you wherever you go. And, guess what, I'm crafting with felt again. Do you notice a trend? I'm kind of obsessed with felt these days.

Kids will love dressing up their shoes with these pumpkin pals, and the best part is that they aren't permanent. The pumpkin gets laced onto the shoe, and can easily be removed when the Halloween haunting is over. Perfect for getting into the Halloween spirit, from head to toe...

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Button-on Felt Flower Headband



I love this project, I designed it as a craft project for my niece's 4th birthday. She had a fairy themed tea party, and these headbands made the girls feel like they were little flower-folk.
We gave them the ribbons, with the buttons sewn on, and a huge pile of flowers and leaves cut from felt. The kids designed their own headbands by buttoning the felt pieces onto the band.
They got very creative piling on different colored flowers and leaves. The best part is that this is a no- mess party project, no glue, no scissors - just fun!
Plus, buttoning is a great task for preschoolers who are working on their fine motor skills and hand eye coordination. Skill-building and creative - this project is too pretty to pass up!

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Great Idea from FamilyFun

Photo from familyfun.com


FamilyFun magazine is full of the BEST craft ideas, recipes and games. It's like the handbook for fun moms.  Full disclosure -- I was lucky enough to work for the magazine on the East coast and these days I still get to be part of FamilyFun, hosting the occasional how-to video for their website.

This Melon Brain idea is straight from the pages of the magazine, and it's perfectly creepy. It would make a fabulous centerpiece at your Halloween buffet, and it's a healthy alternative to all of that sugary Halloween candy. Thank you FamilyFun for another great idea. Check out the how-to video here.

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Fall Centerpiece: Pile of Pumpkins


Yesterday was the hottest day EVER. Literally. It was a record shattering 113 degrees in Los Angeles. It was the hottest day on record since they started taking records, way back in 1877! So, what am I thinking about in all of this blistering, record breaking heat? Pumpkins. Yup, still on that pumpkin kick.

In the floral section of the grocery store I spotted a display of fall decor - gourds, mums and perfect little pumpkins. I just had to take some home. I bought a few tiny pumpkins and a branch full of preserved fall leaves. I don't love the idea of fake foliage, but I knew I wouldn't come across any real fall leaves around here, so these would have to do. If you have real leaves at home that's even better -- and I'm really jealous  -- did I mention that it's 113 degrees here?!

Anyway, back to the pumpkins. These little guys were just begging to be displayed, but lining them up on the table felt tired, predictable. Instead, how about a pile of pumpkins? I grabbed a tall glass vase and dropped them in, alternating them with the fall leaves. Presto - pretty fall centerpiece for less than five dollars!

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Pumpkin Brownies



Last week I was craving all things pumpkin, but I didn't want to go through the trouble of making a crust and baking a whole pie. I wanted an instant pumpkin fix. So, I searched the pantry and found a box of brownie mix. Mmmm.... rich chocolate, spicy pumpkin - this could be a match made in heaven. And, did I mention easy? This recipe comes together in no time, no baking skills needed.

Start with brownie mix, add pumpkin --  create fall euphoria.

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Oh, hello Fall

first fall leaves, in Vermont

Yesterday was the official first day of Fall, although you wouldn't know it in Los Angeles. It's supposed to be 83 degrees today, but I ordered my Pumpkin Spice Latte hot, in defiance.

I love the fall. It's hands down my favorite season and, sadly, it's a season that could be completely overlooked in Los Angeles. There are no embankments of orange and red leaves to tromp through in boots. You will never wake up to the sweet, earthy-thick smell of damp leaves on a rainy morning. You won't look in the mirror and find your cheeks turned the perfect shade of cherry by the cold.
Fall in the North is vibrant, sharp, and clear --  here it's like a dull ache.

But, before I get too Fall-sick, here are a few things I will be doing to embrace the fall here in sunny Los Angeles:
* Eating pumpkin flavored anything -- recipes coming soon!
* Turning on the fireplace
yes, I said "turning on" -- it's a gas fireplace. I know, what can I say? This is LA.
* Cooking stewy, saucy, comfort foods
* Wearing boots, even in 80 degree weather.
* Buying tart, crisp apples at the farmers market
* Snuggling up with a good book
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, can't wait to dive in
* Fall crafting, because it makes me happy.

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Frightful Felt Jack-O-Lantern


As a crafter I'm always trying to find new ways to re-purpose containers. Things like cans, cereal boxes and milk cartons could become a million different things with a little glue and craft paper. This becomes a problem when my craft closet starts to look like a recycling station, but I hate to let useful things go to waste. 

I had been eyeing an empty mixed-nuts container for a week or two. It's a great shape, perfect size, nice and sturdy. I knew I could do something with it. Finally, a bit of Halloween inspiration hit and here it is -- my mixed-nut container turned felt Jack-O-Lantern.

This no-carve Jack-O-Lantern could be made out of any cylinder container you have lying around - an oatmeal tub or coffee can would work just fine. Store the felt features inside and change your Jack-O-Lantern's expression to suit your mood. 

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U-Pick Apples


One of my favorite fall activities is apple picking. When I lived in Western Massachusetts there seemed to be a U-pick sign at every intersection. They're a little harder to find now that I live in Los Angeles. So, instead of heading to the orchard, I decided to bring the apple picking fun home.

This magnet game is adorable and easy to make, and it even has baskets for hauling your load. It's not quite the same as a day at the farm, but it's a fun fall activity for a rainy day.

Craft how-to and apple picking game instructions after the jump.

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Preschool Art: Fall Fingerprint Tree


Here's a bit of fall fun for the preschool crowd. This handprint tree with thumbprint leaves is simple for preschoolers to make themselves. It can get a bit messy, but that's part of the fun. Follow the photo tutorial to create your own fall foliage.

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Framed Cupcake Felt Board


This project is just too sweet to pass up. Use an old photo frame to create a felt board and let little "bakers" get creative designing their own cupcake creations. The fun with felt boards is that you can remove the felt pieces and rebuild your cupcakes over and over again. Make clouds of pastel frosting, cheerful cherry toppers and colorful cupcake liners from felt scraps.
An artful cupcake would make great bedroom decor. Just stand the frame on a shelf and admire your sweet design.

Here's what you'll need to make a Felty Framed Cupcake:

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Classic Cheese Balls



Over the weekend we had friends over for dinner. I love planning a menu, but I felt like I was stuck in an appetizer rut. My go-to party food is a cheese plate, but how could I make it a bit more interesting?

I decided to replace my usual wedge of Brie with an all-American classic -- cheese balls. Yes, cheese balls - those softball sized masses of creamy, cheesy who-knows-what that grandma serves at Christmas.
And, guess what? They were delicious. So yummy in fact that I may have to kick that boring old block of cheddar to the curb.

Thanks to the queen of entertaining herself Martha Stewart, I have a recipe for a great cheese ball base that's very easily adaptable. I made a few tweaks of my own, used some really fresh ingredients, and I'm officially a cheese ball fan.

The best part of this recipe is that it's so easy for kids to help prepare. Forming the cheese into a ball and rolling it in the toppings is a perfect activity for preschool chefs. Plus, kids are more likely to taste the foods that they help make - so grab the kids and get rolling.

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Game Day Banner


Football season kicks off this week, and for football fans, that's huge. For me, it's just another sign of the fall. I'm not a huge sports fan, but for some reason I'm feeling in the spirit this season and thought I would try my hand at some football crafting. Football crafting...hmmm... is that an oxymoron?

This banner is a fun decoration if you're hosting a football party, or cute bedroom decor for a little football fan. Swap the red and blue for your team's colors and customize it with your team's name.

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First Day Ribbons

I have a really vivid memory of starting the 3rd grade. It was a BIG deal. On the first day of school I was excited to be one of the "old" kids at my k-3rd elementary school. I was going to have class on the 3rd floor - the top floor, and I was wearing my brand new (very cool) neon green and aqua blue culotte* outfit.


* If you don't know what culottes are, chances are you weren't a child of the 80's. Or, maybe, you actually managed to dodge that fashion bullet. If you want a mental picture think baggy knee-length shorts that look something like a skirt. In a word - awesome.

Point is -- going back to school is a big deal, and every new year is a milestone that deserves some recognition. These first day ribbons are a fun way to celebrate. Pin one on for first day pictures or sneak one into your child's backpack to let her know how proud you are. Paper, glue and ribbon, simple -- now go make some!


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Monstrously Cute Book Covers



This project is a great way to turn something as monotonous as covering school books, into something creative. Use craft foam shapes and paper scraps to make a crowd of silly monsters.

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Craft Supplies: Clementine Art

photo from Clementine Art

Have you ever seen such pretty art supplies? These paints, and the entire line of natural art supplies from Clementine Art, are the embodiment of good design, inside and out.
I discovered Clementine on a recent trip to Whole Foods and was immediately smitten with the pretty, spare packaging and the rich, natural colors of the paints, markers and modeling dough.
A visit to the company website revealed that Clementine products are non-toxic, made from recycled materials, and responsibly sourced. Lovely.
Non-toxic is one thing, but check out the label on the modeling dough. It reads like my weekly grocery list with ingredients like cream of tartar, turmeric and spinach -- love that!

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Lemon Bread




While I promised lots of summery goodness this week, I ended up with technical difficulties and spent much of the week drying out a soggy computer and trying to recover files. Remember, computers and water don't mix!
Anyway, here's a delicious little slice of summer. This is a quick bread with a tart and sweet lemony flavor that would slip nicely into a lunch box for a back to school treat.
I learned this recipe while baking for a wonderful little tea party catering company on Long Island. Paula Croteau, who owned the company, was an amazing cook and a skilled baker who taught me to love baking. I'm forever grateful to her.
You will be too - after you taste this yummy bread!

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Berry cute organizers


Summer is berry season and the farmers market is overflowing with baskets of juicy berry goodness. I take home a few pints as often as I can, but tossing those little green baskets is such a waste. I wanted to re-use the baskets but found them too flimsy. Enter the Popsicle stick! A few Popsicle sticks woven through the plastic makes these baskets sturdy, adding ribbon makes them adorable. Use them for stashing art supplies, hair clips and small toys or just for dressing up a desk.


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Glittery Seashell Barrettes

Happy Monday! As promised, this week is going to be full of fun ways to preserve summer memories. These glittery seashell barrettes are such a pretty reminder of those radiant summer days spent combing the beach for seashells. Use shells you collect yourself, or pick some up at a craft store. To assemble the barrettes I used glue dots, but hot glue or tacky glue would also work.

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This sweet picture of my nephew brings a smile to my face -- and I love that sun drenched open door. Doesn't it make you want to run outside and play?

Next week I'll be sharing some fun ideas for preserving these last few glorious weeks of summer. Have a great weekend!

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Hand washing tip



Teaching kids to wash their hands is a no-brainer, but preschoolers are masters at the soapless hand rinse and the lightning fast wash. How do you teach preschoolers to get a good sudsy wash?
Here's a tip from my days as a toddler and preschool teacher - to make hand washing fun, and to be certain they get a solid 15 - 20 second scrub, teach kids to sing a song while they wash. Songs like Twinkle Twinkle, the Alphabet song, or The Itsy Bitsy spider are good choices.

This soap dispenser is a cute way to remind preschoolers to sing their hand washing song.
I bought the dispenser at Target for a few dollars, and then added the Itsy Bitsy spider art with adhesive craft foam. I reinforced the foam with a bit of hot glue and then drew on my spider with a permanent marker. Start good habits now and by the time cold season rolls around you will be a step ahead.

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Button Bouquet


Keep a jar of buttons on hand and you will never run out of craft projects. Buttons are one of my all-time favorite supplies - colorful, classic, so easy to use. This sweet little button bouquet is a good example of just how versatile they are. All you need to make these beautiful buds are buttons, pipe cleaners and a little ribbon.

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