Crafts With Kids | Christmas Watercolor Cards

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This is the simplest trick in the book, but it makes the cutest Christmas cards your kiddo can send to their friends and family. I remember watercoloring with rubber cement all the time when I was little but I totally forgot about it till the other day. Anyway, you can create a ton of cards quite quickly. All with their own unique look. Perfect even for small kids- let them just have at it!! Whatever you painted underneath will show through no matter how crazy their paint job is. Older kids could of course paint with the rubber cement themselves. I painted the scenes first for Rowan because it’s little tricky to see what you’re painting.

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Materials:

watercolors (exact ones here)
paint brushes
rubber cement
glitter (optional)
Watercolor paper (we used this brand)

Directions:

1. Think of simple, christmasy designs to paint on the paper. You really are painting with invisible ink (so to speak) so the more detailed you get, the harder it will be to remember where or what you painted last. Apply a thick coat to the front side of the watercolor paper. Watercolors absorb differently to the front and back of the paper. The front is where it’s at. The overall outcome will not work as well if you use the wrong side of the paper (in our experience).

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2. Let the rubber cement dry.

3. I explained and tried to show Rowan the pictures that I painted. Then I just let her go to town with her own ideas of how to paint the cards. You can also let your kid sprinkle glitter on the cards while the paint is wet. Glitter and I have a love hate relationship. It comes out only on special occasions. hahahaha.

4. Done! Let your kids write special notes on the inside and deliver before Christmas.

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Clean Eats | Dark Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Coconut Bites

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I think the most common kind of question we get since we decided to eat a less processed, more whole food diet is about having sweets. I think when people hear whole/clean food they think we’re only eating twigs and berries. And yes, we do eat a lot of produce but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for sweets. We’re just more selective over what sweets we eat. After eating better quality, made from scratch goodies, eating say a “insert favorite candy bar here” seriously tastes like plastic. The store bought candy has no flavor in comparison. These chocolate bites are the most amazing thing ever. I crave them like no ones business. They’re so delicious and rich that one or two totally satisfies a craving. Super simple to make and the ingredients can’t be beat.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup good quality dark chocolate chips (we like to use this kind)
1/2 cup organic peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
1/3 cup grade B maple syrup
3 tbsp. of cocoa powder (we like this kind)
1 tsp. vanilla
A pinch of sea salt if your peanut butter is not salted
1 1/4 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut (plus more for rolling in at the end)

Directions:
1. In medium pot, over medium low, melt chocolate, pb, syrup, cocoa, vanilla and sea salt. As it melts together and heats up it will become think and hard to stir. Remove from heat and stir in the coconut.
2. The mixture will be thick. Let it cool down. Then, using your hands form small balls. You can roll each ball in shredded coconut to give them a finished, festive look. They are good with or without this final step. Up to you.
3. Refrigerate for at least 20 mins before serving.

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Recipe adapted from here.

Spreading the Cheer!

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Do you give gifts with your significant other? Kev and I have never really done gifts. We always choose doing something together over gift giving. I always want to buy him lots (I LOOOVE giving gifts!!) but together we chose the no gift route and I usually stick with it. However, when T.J.Maxx reached out to me and asked if I wanted to partner with them to help spread the gifting cheer and pay it forward by giving a gift to someone I wouldn’t normally give to… I knew I wanted to spoil Kev.! Kev is such a hard worker, never asking for praise or anything in return. He never buys anything for himself and would seriously wear the same old shirt year after year. I know he loves new clothes but would always, always put the money towards someone else first before himself. He loves, serves and provides so much for this family and I couldn’t think of a more deserving person to receive a few extra gifts this Christmas season. After 10+ years together he still makes my heart flutter, he has gotten even more handsome with age (not that he looks a day over 25 to me) and continues to be the one and only person I ever want to spend all my time with. *swooon. Ok, ok, ok… mushy part over now.

I shopped at T.J.Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods and was able to get him all kinds of great things. I really LOVE buying him clothes. Just like I love dressing the girls, I love dressing him as well. He is really easy going too, he trusts my opinion and usually wears everything I get him. I love all the options for guys at T.J.Maxx and Marshalls. The have great designer sweaters and these awesome flannel shirts right now. I also found him this super cool, super minimal and modern iHome speaker at HomeGoods. He is going to love it- totally his style. Rowan picked out an old school connect 4 game and then we made a few little ornaments for him as well using Rowan and Finley’s handprints. I couldn’t be more excited to wrap this stuff up and give him a gift he wasn’t expecting (totally told him he wasn’t allowed to look at my blog till after Christmas).

Who would you want to shower with a few extra gifts this Christmas?

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^^ Goodness we love him!

*This post was sponsored by T.J.Maxx but all opinions are my own. If you want to share your own T.J.Maxx, Marshalls and Homewood Holiday finds on social media use #bestgiftever Thanks guys!

Crafts With Kids | A Photo Diary

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Did you know that Kev and I fell head over heels for each other in book making class in art school? So nerdy, right? Needless to say, I’m kind of obsessed with making handmade books. There is something so fun about making a book and binding it together. When I was first pregnant with Rowan I couldn’t wait until the day we could make cute little books together filled with her drawings and stories. For Rowan’s birthday this year we got her a camera. It’s waterproof and shock proof making it perfect for a 4 year old. She was showing so much interest in taking pictures with our phones, we wanted to help foster that creative spirit. She takes her little camera everywhere! One particular day a few weeks ago, we were walking around one of our favorite cities around us and I told Rowan she should document our time out and about. Then we came up with the idea that we could make her very first photo diary book… “The Photo Book of Troy, NY” captured by Rowan Winter Richardson.

She was in!

We teamed up with Canon USA to create this super cute photo book. A lot of the actual book making was done by me, obviously, but the photos, drawings and words are all her own. You could make so many variety of books with photos you print out. The possibilities are endless!!!

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Materials:
Matboard
Xacto knife
glue
roll of kraft paper
markers
cardstock
patterned paper
ruler
thread
drill
needle

Directions:
1. Collect photos of whatever you’d like. I chose all the photos Rowan took on our outing and laid them out in photoshop. I designed each an 8.5″ x 11″ page so 2 photos would fit and print together. We haven’t had a printer in our house since we were first married. I will admit that I can’t imagine not having one now. Our PIXMA MG7520 printer is so simple to use and it’s been so fun to just come up with projects on a whim that use photos without having to go to Staples to get things printed out. I love the connivence and great quality!

2. Print all your photos. I planned to fold each page in half and trim all the white space around the photos. About 3/4″ of the left see of your page will be covered by the binding. Make sure you plan accordingly so something important isn’t being covered up.

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3. Once all your pictures are trimmed, measure the length and height of the page. This will give you the dimensions of what your covers should be.

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4. Say your pages are 4″ x 3″. You will cut 2 covers (front and back) from the mat board that will be 4″ x 3″. To make it so the covers can open easily I made what is called a stab binding. On each of your covers you will cut off the last 3/4″. This will create the binding. You will now have 2 pieces for each the front and back covers measuring 3/4″ x 3″ and 3.25″ x 3″. Trim those last pieces to be 3″ x 3″. This will allow for the .25″ gap to allow the book cover to open while still being the same measurements of the pages. See picture below.

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5. Have your little one color whatever they would like on some kraft paper. Patterns, scribbles, pictures, whatever their little hearts desire. You will use this to cover the matboard making the front and back covers. Trim down the paper so there is about an 1.5″ extra around the matboard.

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6. Glue down the matboard to kraft paper (you could really use any paper you wanted to make the covers). Align the binding piece creating .25″ gap between the 2 pieces. Glue corners first by folding them in, then glue the sides.

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7. Cut some end paper to cover the inside of the matboard. Trim them to be just a tad smaller than the size of the covers. Glue them in place.

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8. Measure across the binding every half inch and make a mark. Clamp your whole book together. Drill holes through each of the marks all the way through the book. Keep the book clamped the entire time.

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9. Through the holes sew your binding together. Tie the ends together and your book it done! You can now take off the clamp.

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10. I had Rowan come up with captions for each of her photos and she wrote them on the opposite page of the picture. What a special little keepsake for them. Make sure you date the book so years from now you know when exactly they made it!

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We plan on continuing making tons of “Rowan’s Photo Books” as she takes more pictures with her camera. She is so proud of them! She made sure she brought it with us this week to show all her Grandparents. She has little stories about each picture. So cute!!!

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For more detailed steps on how to make a Japanese stab binding check out these sites: Design Sponge and How Did You Make This?

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Super Sale!

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Hey Friends! I am having a super sale over in my etsy shop my all my hand painted necklaces! They make the perfect gift! The last day to order for Christmas is this Thursday. Grab one while you can, I will be closing down my shop and probably won’t be opening it back up any time soon. Going to be taking a break for awhile.

There are tons of new one-of-a-kind necklaces in there!

Thanks!!

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p.s US sales only.

Hi, I'm Jen!

Welcome to my personal lifestyle blog. It features topics such as motherhood, family life, fashion, cooking, and all sorts of adventures. I hope you enjoy what you find!

Jen Loves Kev
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