Giving birds a new home

My daughter turned 3 last month and during her party, her friends got to decorate their own birdhouses. Danika’s friends are mostly pairs of siblings so to not burden their parents (our friends) with having to find a place to hang two birdhouses, it was one birdhouse per household, which worked out great.

Pink ruffle cake for Danika's 3rd birthday

Since it was a party and the kids were all 4 years old and younger, I skipped the paint to avoid the mess. Instead, I opted for great quality stickers, felt markers, glitter glue and adhesive “jewels”. Much of which I found at the dollar store*.

What you need:

  1. Wooden birdhouses – I got ours for $3 each at the dollar store. They usually carry different models. I took the biggest ones. You can also get them at craft stores and pay 4 times the price.
  2. Markers – I used these kiddie ones from DeSerres.ca. I like how they “bleed” when they get wet (from the glitter glue). Creates a nice watercolour effect, which is what I was hoping for.
  3. Great quality stickers – I used this set for the girls and this one for the boys – Both by Djeco.
  4. Glitter glue – We finished old tubes I had from Michael’s. You can get them anywhere. I’ve been told though that the best tubes are the ones from Target. My crappy ones from Michael’s would always blow open if we squeezed too hard.
  5. Adhesive jewels – I’ve seen these in craft stores but I am always shocked at how much they sell for, meanwhile you can get them for a $1 or $2 from the dollar store.
  6. Tissue paper – pre-cut into squares. I have also seen these sold for insane $ in craft stores. I found some at the dollar store too.
  7. Mod Podge for outdoors – This was needed to make sure the stickers and jewels stayed glued down permanently but it left a sticky finish (even after 3 days), which I hated, so I sprayed them with a clear finish.
  8. Krylon Clear Finish Spray for indoor or outdoor use – If you just paint the birdhouses, this spray alone would be fine, but if you have anything glued on them, you really need to apply some Podge to seal it all in.

Birdhouses decorated by pre-schoolers - Birthday party activity

How to:

  • Well, I’d like to say we used a technique but come on… They’re pre-schoolers! They just wanted to colour and put stickers and use glitter glue!! They were, however, very concentrated for a good 15-20 minutes. It was awesome. The moms were on hand to help (and to keep the peace among the siblings). All in all, it was a huge success.
  • I kept the birdhouses after the party so that I could finish them with the Mod Podge and Krylon spray and return them hassle-free and “ready-to-hang”.
  • As a side note, now’s a good time to hang birdhouses if you want tenants for the summer. March and April are typically the best times, if you live in colder climates like we do here in Quebec.

Have a closer look at the lovely abodes. Hopefully all the bling and sparkle (that you can’t see very well in these photos) will attract some new winged residents.

Birdhouse decorated by Liam and Alec Birdhouse decorated by Danika and Mommy Birdhouse decorated by Maya and HaleyBirdhouse decorated by Danika and Mila

*This post contains some affiliate links to Amazon. Thank you for your support!

Easy puzzles designed by pre-schoolers

My daughter is slowly getting into puzzles. She’s been enjoying making them, provided I do it with her. I don’t think it’s so much the size of the pieces that are daunting her, but I think she might be intimidated when there are many pieces. So while I was shopping at my local craft supply store, I came across blank puzzles that were surprisingly inexpensive. I got a couple of smaller ones for rainy day crafts.

Let your kids make their own totally unique puzzles with blank sheets of puzzle pieces and markers

When it’s my morning to wake up with the girls on the weekends (Peter and I alternate sleeping in when we don’t have specific plans) I tend to make special crafts with Danika when her sister goes down for her morning nap. I think she really enjoys this time with me (I know I do). I always prepare her ahead of time by asking her if she wants to make a “special craft” with Mommy. She’s always so excited. I love it.

Let your kids make their own totally unique puzzles with blank sheets of puzzle pieces and markers

What you need:

  1. Blank puzzle sheet
  2. Non-toxic markers – or paint, or pencils, or paper bits or glitter and podge – they all work)

How to:

  1. Make sure your child doesn’t take the blank puzzle apart before starting (it’s VERY tempting to do this yourself). Each interconnected piece is perforated to keep it attached together making it easier to draw or paint or collage on it. It then come apart easily, without much effort.
  2. As you child creates her/his masterpiece, make sure that the colours used overlap onto the neighbouring piece so that when the time comes to actually make the puzzle, it will be doable.
  3. Write the child’s name and age or date
  4. Take it apart and put it together again… And again…. And again.

What I like about these puzzles is that they will make great keepsakes too :)

Personalizing a ceiling light fixture with felt balls

While I was pregnant with our second daughter, we gave ourselves a very small budget to put her room together. We didn’t know if we were having a boy or girl (kept both a surprise) so it had to be neutral, which I love anyway.

One of the first things the room needed once the colour scheme was decided was a ceiling light fixture. While shopping at a big box store, we came across a really elegant yet innexpensive option. As soon as I saw the plain fabric drum, my mind was racing with ideas to embellish it.

In the end, I chose tiny felt balls in different colours that complimented the scheme I had going. I found this amazing Etsy shop, Honey Canada that let me narrow down the colours to just the ones I wanted. In fact, it was easier to tell Yuki, the shop owner, which colours I didn’t want. Shipping was fast and as soon as I received my order, I got to work.

ceiling light fixture embellished with felt balls

What you need:

  1. Inexpensive fabric-covered light drum (or lamp shade)
  2. Felt balls
  3. Glue gun

How to:

  1. Line up the tiny felt balls you will use in the order you want. This is helpful to avoid accidentally placing two of the same colour side-by-side. I don’t know about you, but when I work with a glue gun, I tend to work much faster than I normally do, or should.
  2. Place the drum on a flat surface.
  3. Working in small sections at a time, apply hot glue along the bottom of the drum. One way to know that your felt balls will be even, is to use the flat surface as your guide: Place the ball against the surface and bring it closer to the drum until there’s contact.
  4. Continue until the entire circumference is done. The whole process took me 15 minutes.
  5. Let the glue cool completely before picking it up.
  6. Hang and admire your work :)

This is what my daughter sees from her crib. I love it!Customized ceiling light drum shade with felt balls

Homemade organic adzuki beans exfoliating scrub

Ever get hit with some nostalgia? Well, if you ask anyone who knows me well, they’ll tell you I do. I often joke by saying I drown in it… Drown in a good way. I think it’s because I have so many clear memories of my childhood. The colours, the textures, the smells, the scenery, the music playing… I think I’m lucky I remember so many details.

One of those memories I have is when my childhood friend Natasha first introduced me (us – my sister) to the Body Shop. I thought Nat was so “worldly” because she had been “downtown” to Vintage Body Shop's Japanese Washing grainsshop far more times than we ever did. We were about 13-14 years old. Anyhow, she brought us to the store and we proceeded to buy the products a teenager would need. In my case, the Cucumber Cleansing Milk, the Japanese Washing Grains to exfoliate and the Eye Gel. I had oily skin so I didn’t think to moisturize (let alone wear sun block!!) We would also indulge with the Banana Shampoo & Conditionner… I still remember all their smells and textures so well. Especially the lovely earthy smell of the Washing Grains.

Well, the other day I was thinking about the washing grains and how they came in that cute container, that was like a salt shaker and that we had to pour a little into the palm of our hand and add some water to make a paste… I did a quick search and behold! I was shocked to discover that the only ingredient they ever had in them, were adzuki beans. Ground up. C’est tout! I knew we had a bag of leftover organic adzuki beans in the pantry so I went looking for it. Found it. Took out my Magic Bullet and added about 1/4 cup of beans and pulsed them finely. Done. As soon as I poured the grainy powder into a (cute) glass container I had, I was overtaken my the scent… EXACTLY how I remembered it. And when I used it for the first time,  I swear to god, it worked exactly like I remembered. Such a great smell. My skin felt smooth and clean.

Homemade adzuki bean exfoliating scrub

Incidentally, adzuki beans have been widely used in Japanese skin care for centuries. They clean, exfoliate and clarify the skin, leaving a natural glow. They just haven’t been as readily available, until the last couple of decades. Long after the Body Shop discontinued their product, I guess. I could have saved myself a small fortune in Japanese Washing Grains, had I known this…

Adzuki Beans