So many quilts. So many naps. Tis’ the season for cozy couch cuddles ya know?
The kids painted picture frames for gifts this year as a part of our handmade holiday. I printed out a black and white photo of the three of them so their colorful painting swirls could really pop! We found the wood frames at Hobby Lobby and used different shades of pink, red, and green acrylic paint.
I know it’s kind of trendy right now, but I will forever love ticking. It’s become a classic design pattern in our home and I am trying not to overuse it – but I could not resist these Etsy stockings. So cute! So a funny story for you… Two years ago when I purchased these little gems I decided to get four, you know, in case we ever decide to have another baby. Ha! Anyone else guilty of that? It was Christmas Eve and our stockings hung by the chimney with care, and Andrew decided to toss a small cardboard box into the fire to keep it rollin’. Well before we knew it the box fell out of the fireplace and in efforts to get it back in, he knocked one of the kid’s stockings in the fire! It just so happened we were hosting family that evening, and everyone was like, “Oh, that’s too bad. One of the kids won’t have a stocking now.” Remembering that I had one tucked away for our future maybe baby, I rushed downstairs and came up with a brand new red ticking stocking. “Not to worry, everyone! We have another!” I am pretty sure each of our surrounding neighbors could hear the howling laugher coming from within our home! I would have a back-up stocking. It was such a funny moment and everyone all jokes that we must have a little elf working away in the basement sewing projects for me on the spot.
This was our Advent calendar this year. It included a lot of ways to serve our community and be a helpful and kind presence to others. We are going to follow it next year too, and it was made without purchasing anything! Zero-waste crafts for the win. You can find the tutorial here.
Have you ever made soap? I have been dabbling in the art of soaping(?) this winter and it has been fun! These bars are exfoliants made with oat powder and crushed almonds. I enjoy adding a few drops of essential oil to each as well, and decided on orange and pine for these holiday gifts. We topped them with a dried orange slice, wrapped them in fabric, and gifted them to teachers and friends. I will be sharing more soap-making tutorials come spring!
I have been making a batch of morning muffins every week for awhile now and they’ve been a big hit with the kids. These were made with fresh carrots, zucchini, oats, milled flax, maple syrup, almond flour, and various spices like cinnamon and vanilla. Here’s a little tip: kids LOVE individual portions and making things in little cupcake molds is a nifty way to get them more excited about their food. Even when it contains secret ingredients like vegetables!
Oh, and another thing we’ve been making together at home is corn tortillas. Andrew and I learned how to make them while taking a cooking class in Mexico and we thought it would be a fun thing for the kids to try back home. Turns out it’s the easiest thing ever, and they taste better than store-bought! All you need is masa + water + a pinch of salt. Form dough consistency, flatten, and then cook on an oiled skillet. Easy peasy.
What is it about boys their truck obsession? Before we became parents Andrew and I swore we wouldn’t give into gender-bias stereotyping, but our boys love anything loud with wheels. They just do! And Stella, well she loves pink and red and mothering her baby dolls. We got the boys dolls too, and while they play with them sometimes, it’s nowhere near the amount of time and imaginative play they engage in with their tools and trucks.
Head-to-toe in pink, dragging firewood. That’s my girl. I love how helpful she is, always asking is there’s something she can do for our family.
I have really been into cooking from cookbooks lately and my new one has been full of healthy seasonal meal ideas with guiding inspiration for these cold winter months. Give us all the beets, please.
The kids and I were playing together outside one evening a few weeks ago waiting for dad to get home when the sky overhead turned into all these thick layers of pink, purple, and orange. While this photo sort of captures its beauty, nothing can quite capture the magnitude of awe we experienced, standing there in the front yard, eyes to the sky full of wonder.
I got that big enamel pot from our neighbor’s garage sale for ten bucks. We use it darn near everyday, for soups, stocks, boiling vegetables, and just about anything else you can think of to feed a family of five. Just a little note to say, things don’t have to be pricy to work well. I’ve sources so many of our kitchen items from second-hand shops and sales, and they have all been worth the hunt. In that photo I can see five things (including our white stock pot) I purchased/was given secondhand or while on a thrifting adventure: the still-life photo, long brush holder, enamel tray, short brush cup, and the pot holders that were made with scrap fabric by my great grandmother. I love the story these old items weave into our home. And I love even more that we were able to find a use for something that another person discarded. What a wonderful way to tread lightly on this beautiful earth!
How much is too much screen time? Does your family have rules in place for watching shows or movies, or do you guys just role with it and let the cards fall where they may? I am going to be sharing how our family incorporates screen time into our days this month, but here’s a hint: it’s incentivized!
We crafted those little peg dolls this season and they live in the boy’s room. I think they’re really sweet.
Oh, hey! Just popping in to say hello and thank you for taking the time to visit this little home I’ve made online. I sure appreciate all of my readers, and want you to know that your support here means the world to me because it encourages me to keep doing what I love! So, love me. xx
Despite the sweetness that is a sleeping toddler, I think we are on the verge of phasing out nap times. Each of our kiddos have responded very differently to naps, and I think this conversation lends itself to intuitive parenting, and not something you should or even can quantify! Stella stopped around age 2, Theodore STILL naps and he’s four, and Alfie will be 3 in June. When you have little ones sleep is a very big issue, but take heart if you have a non-napper…that just means they head to bed earlier, right? One can hope.
Here’s a little peek at homeschool mornings with dad. A few days a week we all work together for a bit on some lessons with Stella, the boys usually climbing on us or racing cars down our backs. But we love it. It’s wild but we are together, basically this season of life summed right up!
We haven’t gotten a lot of snow this winter per se, but when there’s a dusting you can bet Stella Vivienne is out playing in it! She told me the other day, “My favorite season is all of them.” Me too, sweet pea.
New things this gal has learned in the kitchen this season: how to operate a can opener, make scrambled eggs, the proper amount of salt needed to make flavors pop (aka, only a teensy bit!), how to load the dishwasher, simple knife skills, the art of tortilla making, and how to lick all the batter off the whisk when we make baked goods. I love age 6.
I also love kid drawings that include flowers, gnomes, fairies, and toadstools!
Stella got a portable piano for Christmas this year and it’s been one of her favorite gifts. We are considering starting piano lessons for her this spring, and I love the idea of adding a real piano to our home. I grew up playing one at my grandparents house and it was always something I looked forward to when I visited.
And what would winter be without piles of clementine skins and lots of indoor crafting?! We alternate crafts depending on the day and our rhythm, and watercolor days are our favorite. I am at the point where I am not sure what to do with all their artwork, and am thinking it would be wise to invest in a scanner to keep the ones they really love (and I really love) on file…have you done this? Any art-sorting tips welcome!
Amber - So I haven’t done it, but a friend of mine created private Instagrams for her kid’s artwork. snaps a pic…prints chatbooks each year.
admin - Amber, using chatbooks for artwork is genius! Such a clever way to use that app. I think they would make for great gifts for grandparent’s too! Thank you for sharing 🙂 x Amanda
Rachel - Yes!!! I’m doing this as well! Cant’ wait to see it come together.
Liz - Hey, Amanda! I have a three-ring binder for each of my kids and we store their very favorite pieces of art in clear sleeves in those binders. It’s nice because my house stays tidy, but they can still bring out their binders and share their art with people, or just peek at it and see how far their art has come! I keep them tucked away in an old buffet I got from my grandparents, so they are out of sight, but still within reach. 🙂
admin - Liz, we have art boxes but a binder is great! I like that better because then you can flip through it instead of shuffling tons of tiny papers around. Lovely idea, thanks for sharing! x Amanda
cheri - Could you share the muffin recipe? It looks delish!
admin - Cheri – I just posted it for y’all! https://homesongblog.com/winter/chop-stir-spiced-carrot-quinoa-morning-muffins/ Enjoy! x Amanda
Robin Craig - Please tell me that you tried the winter squash with brown butter recipe. Amazing!
admin - Robin, not yet but it’s bookmarked!!! And how amazing is this cookbook? I am eager to try the spring recipes in the coming months! x Amanda
Tânia - Hello Amanda! Loved the post and the photos, so natural yet so beautiful. I followed along on the no social media month of January and awaited your weekly updates, it was so good for me and for my family. I am planning to continue on social media but, at a much slower pace, haven’t set in the boundaries yet but, am planning to use it once a week. I also have a son who just turned four, so the crafting pictures are really close to my heart as that is one of the activities we do together often. Grateful for your blog and inspiration! Wishing you a great weekend all the way from Scandinavia!
admin - Tania, hello dear one…thank you for sharing here. I am going to be making technology in the home a more prominent topic on Homesong, and I will continue to share my journey with it and social media going forward. You may be interested in this article a reader shared with me: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/05/smartphone-addiction-silicon-valley-dystopia Reading it over the weekend was just another affirmation that while social media may have good intentions, it’s also very damaging on so many levels. It’s such an important conversation to continue, and I am grateful so many mothers are interested in delving into it with me! Sending you love and light this week! x Amanda
Sarah - Hi Amanda,
These are my favorite posts:) I always love seeing how others live their days and connecting to ideas. My daughter just turned 7 – first grade and this age are so sweet, and I’ve been wanting to get her into the kitchen more with me. She helps out with baked goods (especially the spoon-licking part), but I’m inspired to give her some opportunities to create a little bit more; make some (simple) meals on her own.
This year, we wrapped our gifts (teachers and extended family) in either plain craft paper that we topped with one special 5 x 5 photo, or we wrapped them in tea towels. I found some pretty and simple blue and white tea towels from Ikea, then wrapped up a whole bunch of gifts with them. For whatever reason, doing that brought me a whole lot of aesthetic satisfaction! Knowing that everyone could reuse the wrapping was satisfying, too.
And piano thoughts; we started our daughter with some really light lessons with her music teacher last year. We’re keeping it light and just letting her enjoy creating sound, while also getting some of those basics of reading music and notes. (Bonus: I’m learning too, as I’m asked to be present at the lessons!) We scored a free piano (I’m always surprised at how often I see them in the classifieds for free!), had it tuned for about $80, and I love hearing the sound of it at home. It’s one of those instruments that is hard to make sound unpleasant!
Anyway, thought I’d share:) Started reading The Wisdom of Sundays this morning before my little gal woke up; thank you for the recommendation. I hope your weekend is beautiful.
admin - Sarah, these are always my favorite posts to write 🙂 And you are the second person to mention using art as wrapping. I LOVE it! And for your little kitchen helper, check out Montessori services online…they have a lot of great kid-friendly tools that have been indispensable for us as I teach her the ways of the kitchen. How old is your daughter, if you don’t mind me asking? I hear that 6 is a good time to start piano lessons, but I also don’t want it to be too overwhelming you know? I have always wanted to formally learn, and your idea of taking them with your little one is so beautiful to me. I have been looking on Craigslist for pianos and have seen so many for free as well! Amazing. And an $80 tune up sounds more than reasonable…I didn’t know they could cost that much! Thank you for sharing here, you’ve definitely inspired me. Have a lovely week as well! x Amanda
helen - I’ve never used it, but I’ve read about the Artkive app. You can make collections and then print them into books. I’ve been keeping things in totes under their beds, but I’d love to use that premium storage space for something else!
admin - Helen, I am new to the Artkive app – but will have to look into it as book making with their art sounds ideal! I am a sucker for hanging onto the originals too, but this is a nice alternative! Much appreciated 🙂 x Amanda
Grace - I take pictures of the art work I really like and some day hope to make a photo book of them. I recycle most of the art work by using them as wrapping paper. Kids love to see their work given to other people.
admin - Grace, one of my friends does this too! She uses their art for wrapping gifts throughout the year, so clever! Thanks for sharing, I am inspired to use some of their watercolors for this. x Amanda
Jenn - For the scanner – your local library might have a copier/scanner that can scan for you for free! (I’m a librarian). Take care and have fun!
admin - Jenn, I never thought of that, thank you! And from one fellow book lover to another, keep up the wonderful work you are doing as a librarian! I am always inspired by those who dedicate their lives to the love and sharing of books. What a beautiful calling. x Amanda
Dina - Loved this post! What a beautiful picture of YOU, Amanda! Thanks for sharing that 🙂 I would LOVE it if you posted the muffin recipe, and I am looking forward to you sharing more about soaping! I have been soaping too, but haven’t been too creative with it yet… mostly just making a simple hand soap so washing our hands has become inexpensive AND plastic-free 🙂
admin - Dina, hello and thank you dear! So very kind of you to say. And as for the muffin recipe, I had so many reach out and email for it I just had to share here permanently. I just posted today! https://homesongblog.com/winter/chop-stir-spiced-carrot-quinoa-morning-muffins/
And while I am a complete novice in the world of soaping, I too am really enjoying learning the process. I have a winter scrub soap we are really liking, and I’ll be sure to share that this season! x Amanda
Krystal Wight Armstrong - • May I ask where Stella’s apron is from? I bought things to make one for my daughter, but realistically may not get to it soon. :-\
• Funny question, but I’m also really curious where your kids get their toadstool/fairy/gnome inspirations- Elsa Beskow, David the Gnome, other books/shows? I loved that stuff as a kid, but wonder how to incorporate that magic for mine these days.
Thank you. : )
admin - Krystal, I got Stella’s apron secondhand, but Hobby Lobby has wonderful kid-sized ones that are super cute. They are plain so you could personalize it by decorating with fabric paint, or leave as is! And as for the fairy/gnome inspiration – it mainly comes from books we read. You guessed it, Elsa Beskow is a favorite in our home. We also love everything by Sibylle von Olfers as well. We do Waldorf schooling so she also has a lot of access to magical worlds through storytelling and learning they do at school, but I’d say books are our primary resource for all things magical! x Amanda
Krystal Wight Armstrong - Amanda, thanks so much for the replies! I didn’t realize there were kid aprons like that at Hobby Lobby (and that’s where I bought the material to make her one, haha!).
Yay for Waldorf magicalness and good books. : )
Erin Downs - So, for art work…. I’ve started yearly Chatbooks for each of my kids. I snap a photo with my phone, and upload it to their individual book. I also add in a few photos of them, like their first day of school, a lost tooth photo, anything “big” that was documented that year. I obviously keep some of their artwork like anything that has their cute little hands on it that may get a skewed proportion of photographed. Anyway, it’s been so easy and inexpensive!
admin - Erin, I cannot tell you now much I love this idea. I think we are going to do it too – what little treasures those books will be! Thank you for sharing!! x Amanda
Jenny w - Amanda,
Loved the post. Inspired by short and long brush jars, painted peg dolls and making tortillas again. Thx for the boost!
admin - Jenny, you’re most welcome! Glad you stopped by 🙂 X Amanda
Conny - Don’t have kids but I love your photo’s.
Greetings from The Netherlands!
admin - Conny, hello there and welcome! Have a lovely week 🙂 x Amanda
lauren demarco - Hey Amanda,
We have a box that we call the “portfolio”, we put all of the completed art into the box and when it gets full we go through and pick favorites. I never let my daughter (age 4) see me recycle the others but she gets to be involved in the process of picking favorites. We really should write dates and ages on the back of the favorites now that I think of it, we have them away in a separate box in the top of her closet for now so we can fill the portfolio back up. As for what we will do with the favorites, not sure yet, but i like having the originals for now.
admin - Lauren, we currently have a similar process – each kiddos has a box that I store our favorites in because I love hanging onto the originals too! Kid art is so refreshing and inspiring, right? As of now Stella’s box is just about filled to the brim! I am thinking it could be really cool to turn their art throughout the year into a book but also keep a few favorites for their box. Thanks for sharing, mama!
Julia - This selfie in the mirror you took is so lovely, you look so happy and content, and I hope this doesn’t creep you out but I have this picture of you as my phone background now because you’re pretty much the mom I want to be in later years 😀 – and I’m working hard to get there.
Camille Perret - Love this post.
I followed along on the rest retreat as well. and thank you so much for leading it!
My question is, where is your round rug in the living room from as well as the coffee table?
Kali - I always love these posts. Just feels like checking in with an old friend. Thanks for sharing your life with us, the beauty in your every days. 🙂
Christy - I know you’be written lots about rhythm in the past, so maybe I missed it, but what does your “art” rhythm look like? I’m trying to figure out how to incorporate more of that for my toddler. It’s so hard to fit everything in sometimes – art, outside time, cooking, free play, naps, etc!
Nicole - I always love the sense of peace and intention that your photos portray. I was wondering if there are any blogs that inspire your eye for decorating or bring you a similar sense of peace when you read and view them? I am always looking for inspiration! I do not use social media, only blogs. If you have any favorites, I would love to know of them. Thanks for all you share on your blog!