DIY Halloween Wreath

DIY Spooky Halloween Wreath

This was one of the easiest wreaths I’ve ever made, and one of the most fun, too. I think it’s just the right combination of pretty and spooky for Halloween. All it took was some Halloween decorations you can easily find this time of year–I got these at Walmart–and basic craft materials I already had at home.

Here’s what I used:

  • a foam wreath form

  • greening pins

  • a few floral pins

  • Heavy duty floral cutter scissors (I use Clauss No. 3412 Stainless Steel Floral Cutters)

  • Hot glue gun, glue stick

  • purple ribbon

  • about 20 artificial roses in Halloween colors

  • a bag of small plastic skulls (These were about $3.)

  • 2 sprigs of Halloween bouquet filler–one with a jack-o-lantern, the other with a spider

You could easily replace the Halloween decor I included with whatever is available at your store. I think it would be cute to use the spider rings you so often see at Halloween.

halloween flare

halloween wreath materials

I still had a Styrofoam wreath form from a fresh wreath I made a few weeks ago. I generally hate anything made of Styrofoam, but if I can reuse it many times, I don’t feel quite as bad about it.

halloween flowers

Once I got my materials together, the first step was cutting the roses. The strong wires in artificial flowers mean regular scissors won’t do the job. I was so glad to have my floral cutters, which had mysteriously made their way from my craft box to my husband’s tool box. Most artificial flowers have little grooves along which it is easy to make cuts. I cut the bloom at highest groove, separating it from the leaves but leaving enough stem to attach the flower to the wreath without needing any pins.

cutting off bloom

That leaves you with the stems and leaves to serve as your greenery. Pin those to the wreath first, sticking the end of the stem into the wreath, then pinning into place using U-shaped greening pins.

Halloween greenery

greening pins

pin to wreath

Next, pin the flowers to the wreath. You won’t need pins, just stab the wire at the end of the stem into the foam wreath.

After covering the wreath with black stems & leaves and the roses, I added the sprigs of Halloween bouquet decorations.

halloween floral

I could have left it at that–just a pretty, Halloween-themed floral wreath, but I really loved the skulls I’d found and wanted a more spooky/kitschy Halloween look.

The best way to attach the skulls was with hot glue. The mesh bag they came in had a few mini-skulls around the closure. I cut the closure off in one piece, with the miniature skulls, and pinned it to the wreath.

bag of skulls

skull bouttoniere

Next, I hot glued the rest of the skulls to the wreath.

I needed a few floral pins to attach a few leaves that came loose, to cover gaps, and finally to attach the ribbon–some I still had left over from my DIY wedding flowers and decorations. I don’t usually like big bows on my wreaths, just some simple ribbon for hanging it on the door.

DIY Pretty and Spooky Halloween Wreath

Ta-da! I’ve really enjoyed the wreath. It’s really helped me get even more excited about taking Bitsy trick-or-treating, then handing out candy. I made it during Bitsy’s nap. When she woke up and first noticed it on the door, she wanted me to keep opening and closing the door so she could look at it 🙂

I think I’ll keep this wreath and use it again for years to come.

Happy Halloween!

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Some Updates

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October is off to a nice start.

buggy cover

We’ve been using the Very Hungry Caterpillar shopping cart cover I bought after the shopping trip a couple weeks ago that taught me why we needed one. As you can see, Bitsy seems to be really happy in it. The cart is more comfortable for her now, and there are loops to attach some of her favorite toys. It’s great to have some things for her to play with that she can’t throw out of the cart. Since she has her butterfly and fox, she won’t need to try to play with the groceries! And I feel more confident that she is secure in the cart.

buggy cover toys

The toys don’t come with the cart cover. These were some fun developmental toys gifted to me from my baby registry. They’re soft and cuddly, and are good for sensory development. Different parts make crinkly sounds when touched, and they have different textures and colors. The butterfly has a mirror, and Bitsy is sooo into mirrors right now.

Baby Rosary

baby rosary

We go to a mothers and babies playgroup each week. The children play together while the mothers chat. The head of family outreach does a wonderful job with this ministry. She creates a handout each week with the upcoming Sunday’s gospel, her own reflection and discussion questions. We read these together and pray together while the children play. This week we did this wonderful baby rosary craft. It was very easy, and gave us moms something creative to do with our hands while we talked. We used string, a plastic crucifix, and beads. Tape on the end of the string made it easier to run the string through the beads. The babies will enjoy feeling the different textures of the beads, and as they grow can say very simple prayers, like “I love you, Jesus,” “I love you, Mary,” for each bead. Now Bitsy gets to have her own rosary like Mama.

Fall is Coming Slowly

BITSYWALKING

Even though October is here, it’s still pretty hot. The mornings and evenings are a little cooler now, so family walks with Bitsy are much more pleasant now. Having her walk in shoes is going to be a process. They still feel awkward to her, and she prefers to be barefoot. She loves being outside and exploring. She chases her shadow, and stops to look at every little thing. She’s been reading The Poky Little Puppy a lot lately, so I tell her she’s like the Poky Little Puppy, stopping to learn about whatever she sees, hears, and smells. I tell her this is a good way to be: curious, and taking time to experience the little things.

I’m getting excited about Halloween. I don’t like to put up decorations too early. I’ll wait another week or two before I put up a Halloween wreath. I’ll make it in the next few days. Last year, Bitsy was adorable in her Wonder Woman costume. I’m really looking forward to taking her trick-or-treating this year, now that’s she’s so social.

Wonder Woman baby costume

Things are pretty busy with school right now, but I’ll get a little break between big assignments in a couple weeks. I’m taking Collection Development this semester. I’m working on a weeding assignment in which I choose items from a particular section of the library to weed. Weeding is one of the things I miss the most about working in the library, so this is like a dream assignment for me.

I hope you’ll all have a happy October. Even though I’m so busy, I will be slowing down and taking time to enjoy this fun season, and I hope to have plenty to share with you here.

 

 

Something We Read: Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson

IMG_3303[1]

Last Stop On Market Street was the first book I put on Bitsy’s Amazon baby registry, and the first one I bought since I was too impatient to wait for someone to buy it for us. I was just so excited about having books for her, and this one in particular  I knew would be special. It received some of the most prestigious honors in children’s literature. It is a 2016 Caldecott Honor Book, the winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal, and a 2016 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor.

These awards speak well for the book, but what attracted me most was its content and message. After church, CJ and his grandmother take the bus to the soup kitchen where they volunteer each week. CJ sees his friends go home in their cars, and wonders why he can’t do the same. He feels a little sorry for himself, but his grandmother patiently, lovingly, and wisely shows him how fortunate they are, and how to find beauty all around them in this ordinary excursion. Who needs a car when “we got a bus that breathes fire?” CJ’s friends who get to go home after church will not get the chance to meet all the people CJ and his grandma see on the bus and at the soup kitchen. CJ doesn’t need a smartphone to hear music when the man across from him on the bus has a guitar, and plays a song for everyone. CJ closes his eyes to appreciate the music. It takes him out of the bus to an imaginary place of freedom, beauty, and magic.

After CJ and his grandmother exit the bus in the neighborhood of the soup kitchen where they volunteer, CJ looks around at the “crumbling sidewalks and broken-down doors, graffiti-tagged windows, and boarded-up stores.” He asks his grandmother why “it’s always so dirty over here.” She points out a rainbow and tells him that being “surrounded by dirt” can sometimes help you be “a better witness for what’s beautiful.” CJ then recognizes his grandmother’s gift for finding beauty, and looks around to find it himself in the street lights, stray cats, and shadows around him. When they approach the soup kitchen and see the people they serve every week, CJ tells his grandmother he is happy to be there.

There are so many messages in Last Stop on Market Street that I want to share with my daughter, and I’m glad I have this book to help me do that. I want her to be able to find joy and beauty in everyday settings, and be grateful for our many blessings. I want her to have close relationships with her grandparents, like CJ and his grandmother have. His grandmother is such a positive influence, teaching him some of the most important lessons for living a happy, meaningful, and useful life. The illustrations show diverse characters, something very important for every child to see in their books. Most of all, I love the sense of community CJ’s grandmother clearly has and is teaching him. She connects with the people all around her. She sees the bus as a valuable public space where people can interact and learn from one another. She smiles and wishes a good afternoon to all the other passengers, and has CJ do the same. The way she speaks of the people they serve at the soup kitchen shows that she does not condescend to the people she serves. She treats them not only as equals, but as wonderful people she and CJ are honored to know. I think the book conveys all of these messages without being preachy. I try to share these messages when I read it to Bitsy through my voice, expression, and pointing to the illustrations, delighting in all of the beauties CJ’s grandma points out to him. I’m so glad Bitsy has been enjoying this one. The message, as well as the condition of the book in its hardcover format, should hold up for her for years to come.

This post contains some links to items and services on Amazon. As an associate, I earn from qualified purchases. 

 

Something We Read: Family Storytime With Winnie the Pooh: Surprise Tails

Bitsy is fascinated with her books. She is now at a stage in which she finds a book and brings it to me, saying, “Read!” in that sweet baby voice. A book-loving mama could not be more pleased!

Yesterday, one of the books she brought me was Winnie the Pooh: Surprise Tails, which turned out to be a fun surprise for us.

Winnie the Pooh Surprise Tails.jpg

Bitsy’s daddy was home for a lunch break. He heard us reading this story in which Eeyore is the main character, and having recently found his old harmonica, played a blues lick for each of the old grey donkey’s lines! This was so fun for all of us. The music enhanced the story, but most off all it was fun for the three of us to be goofy, laugh, and share a story together. You don’t have to be musicians–we aren’t–to include a little music when reading to your baby.

The touch-and-feel features in this board book are so interesting to a baby. The first page has a tiny mirror, and Bitsy is soooo amused by her reflection now. My favorite is the wooly tail Kanga knits for Eeyore.

kanga

Sharing this little moment together was so special for us. I hope you’ve been finding little ways to make reading to your baby fun for the whole family. If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

This post contains a link to an Amazon listing for the book discussed. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

 

Something We Read: I Am a Bunny by Ole Risom, illustrated by Richard Scarry

reading i am a bunny

I love each season. I’m happy to see the new ones come, and experience little moments of melancholy as I watch each one end. The cozy times spent indoors in the winter are replaced by the vibrant colors of spring. Lush, green, carefree summers fade into crisp, quiet autumn. Each season has its own beautiful fragrances. My favorite summer aromas are tomato vines and fresh basil. I had one of those brief, melancholy end-of-season reveries this week when I was gathering basil for a light summer pasta and saw that this year’s basil is coming to an end.

last basil of summer

I’ll miss the smell, the taste, and the experience of walking outside to the small kitchen garden to collect basil for our food, but I thought happily of what good use we derived from the plants this year, how much we enjoyed them. This summer has been a particularly special one, with Bitsy’s first birthday, a trip to celebrate a centennial birthday in the family, first steps, and first visits to the pool. It’s now time to start ordering bulbs to chill and plant in the late fall/early winter. All year long, I look forward to my spring tulips and hyacinths. I hope to share this love of the changing seasons with my daughter. It has brought me so much joy and reassurance through changing times all my life.

One way I can share this love of the seasons with Bitsy is by sharing with her one of my favorite books from childhood, I Am a Bunny, by Ole Risom, illustrated by Richard Scarry.

iamabunny.jpg

My adults read this book to me so often when I was a baby/toddler that I memorized it then, and have memorized it again now as it has become Bitsy’s favorite. The illustrations are beautiful, the tone is peaceful and happy, the text sweet and concise. Nicholas, the titular bunny, enjoys the entire year by finding something beautiful in the natural world to celebrate in each season.

He picks flowers and chases butterflies in the spring, blows dandelion seeds in the summer, watches falling leaves and snow, and enjoys seeing wildlife in every season.

chasing butterflies

Readers are reminded that winter is not the end, that the cycle begins anew, when Nicholas curls up to for a winter’s nap and dreams about spring.

dreamsaboutspring

Sharing this beloved book with my daughter, seeing her love it, too, helps me to see the beauty of change and the passing of time, just as the changing seasons do. My mother and I bonded over this book, now Bitsy and I love reading it together over and over again. I am reminded of my grandmother, how she would take me outside in the afternoons and point out the plants and animals we saw, helping me to share in her love of nature and watching things grow. I remember picking flowers for her from our yard.

This book is pretty in a very simple way. There is no major action, exciting plot, or gimmick, just a poetic love of the natural world and a gentle character who finds pure joy in all seasons. It is so dear to me, and I hope you can share it with the little ones in your life. Even more so, I hope you get to share with them the books you loved most as a child. What better way to pass on to children a love of reading?

This post contains a link to an Amazon listing for the book discussed. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

“Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”–Philippians 4:8 

 

Something We Ate: Chicken Tetrazzini

I love bringing joy into my household, and take pride in being able to do that in my new(ish) job as a stay-at-home parent. We don’t have to wait for celebrations and special occasions to experience joy in our homes; we can create it in small, simple ways every day.

My husband has shared with me that his favorite everyday joy comes from having dinner as a family. It is something he can look forward to during his workday, then enjoy a peaceful night with a full, happy belly.

I like for dinner to be special, but being busy with a baby and school can sometimes make getting dinner ready challenging. Of course, we occasionally end up ordering in. We try to reduce waste and make the most of our resources, especially when it comes to food. Composting helps us make the best of whatever food must be thrown away, but food’s real purpose is to be eaten. This means making the best use of leftovers.

Leftovers don’t have to be boring. Make them into something different, and the dish is just as new and exciting as last night’s.

Earlier this week, I made Engagement Chicken–a meal good enough to get a marriage proposal from a prince. I used a pretty large roasting chicken, so with plates for the two of us and some shredded pieces for baby Bisty, there was a good amount of chicken left over. No problem there–leftover chicken just gives us an excuse to have this rich, creamy baked pasta.

chicken tet

It’s not pretty, but it’s delicious. I snapped this pic before it finished browning. Once it was done, my husband was so eager to cut right into it, I didn’t get a picture of the finished product.

If you Google and Pinterest Chicken Tetrazzini, you’ll find a lot of variations. I’ll share with you the version I came up with that works best for us. I switch it up from time to time based on what we have in the house. For instance, I had some mushrooms in the refrigerator this time and threw those into the mix. Below is the recipe I use:

Chicken Tetrazzini

Ingredients

  • 16 oz (one box) of spaghetti, cooked
  • 1/2 cup (one full stick) of butter, plus more to grease pan
  • Cooked chicken torn or cut into bite-size chunks–I don’t measure this out but just use whatever amount of cooked chicken I have leftover. 1/2 to 1 lb is probably a good approximation.
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup, plus an equal amount of chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups of sour cream
  • 1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms, if desired
  • 1/2 cup of garlic-infused vinegar–I highly recommend Nakano Seasoned Rice Vinegar with Roasted Garlic. It is sooo good and makes adding just the right garlic flavor so easy. If you’re substituting with another vinegar or a 1/2 cup of dry white wine, just add a bit of garlic powder to the dish.
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  • In a large bowl, combine butter, chicken, soup, broth, sour cream, mushrooms, garlic-infused vinegar, salt and pepper.
  • Use butter wrapper to grease baking dish.
  • Add spaghetti to the chicken mix.
  • Pour into baking dish and top with all of the cheese.
  • Cover dish with aluminum foil.
  • Bake for 45 minutes.
  • Remove foil, bake uncovered for about 15 minutes, or until cheese is as brown as you like. You may want to raise the temperature to about 375 F for the last few minutes if you like the cheese very brown and a little crispy on the sides.

This dish is great comfort food. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does. This was Bitsy’s first time eating it. I was so glad to see she like it. She was a little behind the curve on her growth at her 12-months pediatric visit, so her pediatrician suggested including a bit more fattening foods in her diet to try to catch up. The butter, sour cream, and cheese should help 🙂

Hold onto this recipe and substitute turkey for chicken as a great way to use your Thanksgiving leftovers. It’s a great stick-to-your ribs meal for a late fall night.

One of the links in this post is to an Amazon listing for a product I recommend. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualified purchases.