" Some days we paint with large bold strokes, like when someone finishes a book report or gets a piece of music ready for performing. Most of our days are softer in color. A little dab here a little dab there, following a rough draft, but allowing ourselves to paint outside the lines when we want too. "
~ Deborah Jean

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Cookies and Magic Carpet Rides

What do Christmas Cookies and Magic Carpet rides have to do with each other? 
I'll  let you in on a little secret...When our children were toddler's and too little to help out in the kitchen for any length of time with baking Christmas Cookies  I'd bring out my trusty magic carpet which I saved for only the most special of times...

I'd call out, " It's magic carpet time"  and they'd come running with pillows and toys filled to the brim with anticipation of another adventure on magic carpet.
  I would spread it out on the living room floor, provide each of them with a small bowl of snacks and a drink and they'd take it from there... It was make believe at it's best and it kept them entertained just long enough for me to finish up in the kitchen ~ most of the time...

In actuality our magic carpet was a large piece of fleece fabric with a bright red back ground and big friendly, fury spiders on it...( I had purchased it for a Miss Spider's Tea Party reading at our local library )  It was the perfect inspiration for an outdoor adventure indoors or wherever a child's imagination will take them. 
Any old blanket or quilt will do!

 Just remember, when your cookies are all done don't forget to let the kids have a taste and roll up your Magic Carpet until next time! 
It works like a Charm ~ 

What sneaky I mean magical things do you do to keep your young one's occupied when you need some UN interrupted time? 

Happy Baking,
Deborah Jean 

Friday, December 17, 2010

This Moment~ A Friday Ritual

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 
, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Stitches of Love

I'm not a knitter, but I know a little elf that has been very busy in the Dandelion Workshop.

Nicolette's knitting needles have been getting a workout the last couple of weeks! She became interested in knitting a couple of years ago and with the help of a friend and a Knitting book by Anne Akers Johnson called Knitting  ( for ages 10 and up) she was on her way!  A friend showed her how to cast on and off and the book helped her with the basics of winding her yarn into a ball, tying a slip knot, hand position, casting on, knitting, purling, casting off, and other nitty-gritty details!

She was determined to learn on her own and spent many evening hours up in her room on her bed studying her " knitting bible"! In true Nicolette fashion, she was knitting in no time and I can't say enough about how well done this book is.. It truly is easy to follow and makes learning so much more fun! I wish I had  taken a photo of the first hats she made. We visited my brothers out west in November of 2007 and one of them ( along with his wife) loves to hunt. When we returned home she decided that they needed something warm and bright to wear that would make them more visible to other hunters. Off we went to our local craft store ( no fancy yarn shops just yet ) to find the perfect color and gage... She chose a very bright red and a large gage yarn and went about  knitting them the most adorable matching chunky red stocking caps.

 This year she was inspired by one of the 6 simple projects this nifty little book has to offer.  The Pocket Purse. Lucky recipients this year? For her music teacher she chose the fuzzy multi-colored yarn with a soft green button for contrast. For her best beach buddy she used asoft green  yarn with a lavender button to remind her of the beach!

I hadn't noticed the 100% KLUTZ certified stamp up in the right hand corner on the cover until I started this post! This little gem also got the Best Book Award from Oppenheim Toy Portfolio too!

 Who knows I may just learn to knit after all!

Happy Knitting~

Don't be shy now... tell us what you're stitching up for your loved ones?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Alphabet Dice Game

Last year as we were doing our seasonal  decorating I  came across our box of Alphabet Dice and thought it would be fun to add some inspirational words to our table decorations to enjoy through the holiday season. 

A Centuries Old Spelling Game 

Enlightened educators have long recognized the connection  between play and learning. More than 300 years ago, Philosopher and educator, John Locke, suggested that by playing with alphabet dice, " Children may be cozen'd into a knowledge of letters"... without perceiving it to be any thing but sport. 

We had fun LOVED playing this game when the children were young and learning to spell. It was a great thing to just leave lying around in a bowl or in a book basket but it's not recommended for children under 3.

It gave the kids a chance to make words on their own, discover new sounds and arranging the dice into words that none of us could pronounce was fun too! 

It's the perfect stocking stuffer!  

Here's wishing you time with your loved ones for what ever brings you closer together.

Thank you all for joining us this year on our homeschooling journey through the teen years and looking back on the wonder years too!


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Diorama Diva

If you can PICTURE it;YOU can MAKE IT~

That's what the Diorama Diva tells us all the time. 

diorama [ˌdaɪəˈrɑːmə]
n1. (Fine Arts & Visual Arts / Art Terms) a miniature three-dimensional scene, in which models of figures are seen against a background

If I had a nickel for every time she starts the day sitting at the dining room table in her PJ's making something I'd be a rich ( in dollars) homeschooling mama.  Sure, we have our curriculum and our schedule but when she's on a creative roll I push all that aside ( until later)  and let her CREATE!

This is how she envisioned her bedroom makeover. She wanted a fresh color palette to remind her of the beach and a place where she could relax and be alone. She wanted a day bed, plenty of spaces for books, and a splash of color so the room wouldn't be TOO boring. Function before beauty is key. She has it all. Storage, a desk for writing and primping, and a comfy ( princess and the pea) bed. 

 She has created a space with balance, symmetry and beauty too! Her bedroom design did come to fruition with some new paint, and a lot of elbow grease from dear old mom! It's my job to show her some dreams do come true!

Every artist dreams of a studio of their own. I have no doubt she'll have the studio of her dreams one day. I love the inspirational quote above " her"  spot  and the additional work spaces she created for future collaborators!

She sketched a wood floor pattern on the floor and made sure everyone had plenty of storage and a nice place to sit.

She made these chairs with foam core, and hot glue. If I didn't know better I'd swear they could roll and spin! The wheels are black buttons glued onto the frame. The " wall paper " is scrap book paper. 

Come on in and ...

Creating Dioramas is a fun way for your child to explore skills used in the Visual Arts. Making Dioramas also strengthens skills needed in Math, Art, Science, Physics, and History but to me, the best part is the use of imagination and the hands on experience of making something with things you have on hand. 

Hold on to your old shoe boxes, stock up on glue sticks, foam core, scrap paper, markers, paints, buttons, beads, yarn, thread, and misc. pieces from toy sets, doll houses etc. The possibilities are endless! 

What  dreams come true are your children making today? 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Paper Christmas Tree ~

( made by our son when he was 9 )

What do you do with wrapping paper from past Christmas's, Birthdays and other celebrations? 


Here's a fun and easy GREEN art idea just in time for Christmas! 

These two mosaic paper Christmas trees were made by our children when they were 7 and 9. 

( made by our daughter when she was 7 )

I love the SUN beaming down on her tree! 
This is a fun and easy craft for you and your children to do together on a cozy afternoon. Double the fun and invite some homeschooling pals over for some hot cocoa and a snack! 

Salvaged Christmas cards and  wrapping paper 
Construction paper
Glue Stick
  • First draw have your child draw the shape of a Christmas Tree onto a piece of construction paper. cut it out and glue it to another piece of construction paper of a contrasting color. 
  • Cut paper into various shapes and sizes.
  • Glue the pieces in any fashion that is pleasing to the eye until the entire tree is filled with paper pieces.
  • Notice the different patterns, textures, and colors on your papers as you're working together. 
  • Don't forget to decorate the top of your tree! 

* This paper mosaic technique can be
 applied to other types of sketches and drawings as well. 

The Solstice Evergreen is on our bookshelf . It's our favorite book on the history of the Christmas Tree from around the world... A fun and informative read as you create your very own  paper mosaic Christmas trees together. 

Deborah Jean 

PS.  Wendy over at Living Creatively with Children posted her paper trees yesterday too. Go take a peak!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Our Thanksgiving ~ a poem

A poem to enjoy with each other this weekend.


All the name tags have been placed,
The candles have been lit.
They all came with food and wine,
They know just where to sit.

Some traveled such a long way,
Some just around the block.
They laughed, they joked, they nibbled…
Dinner’s set for six o’clock.

The game is on the T.V.,
Introductions have been made,
The children have been hugged and kissed,
All compliments were paid.

This day, is very special,
The planning took some time.
Our hearts are light and filled with love,
This family…yours and mine.

Great happiness and cheers to all,
On this day of counting blessings;
We’ll kiss the cook
And have some pie
And fill up on the dressing!

Thanksgiving Day
November 25, 2010
Karen J. Dixon

Written by,  Karen Dixon. Artist, bear maker, poet and lastly ( I'm honored to say, my Aunt ) 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Make a Fall Leaf Picture Book ~ part two

Welcome Back to making a Fall Leaf Picture Book!
How did gathering, pressing and tracing your leaves go? Are you ready to paint?

  Here are a couple of pages in progress from our book this week. What I love about this project is taking the time to be aware of all the color's, textures and shapes in the fallen leaves we gathered. As we traced our leaves onto the water color paper we became even more aware of how varied all these elements are in each leaf! Lastly, I love the joy creating brings to our home. It's one of my favorite ways to slow down, be in the moment and with our children at the same time.

Get Ready to Paint: 
  • Cover your table or work surface with newspaper or a plastic table cloth.
  • Gather your brushes, sea sponges, paint pallets, and paper towels for blotting.
  • Fresh glasses of water for each artist
  • Water color paints ( tube preferably but not necessary)
  • Your pages with traced leaves


Spread your gathered leaves about the table and near the pages you'll be painting. Before you begin to paint, take a few moments to observe and discuss the many colors, textures, and shapes of the leaves with your young artists.

In this photo our daughter chose to paint the gold she see's in the leaf first. After it dried for a few minutes she returned to the leaf adding a deep red to the edges followed by some veining. 

As you talk about the colors of your leaves, think about the back ground colors for your pages too.  Ask your young artists questions about where their leaves are and what they are doing!

ASK: Are your leaves lying on the green grass or are they flying through the air against a bright blue ( or a cloudy ) sky? Are they sprinkled on the walkway or floating in a puddle of water like the leaves on our daughters page here?

Any colors that contrast with the leaves will make them POP off the page and create more excitement for the viewer!

I love how our daughters friend chose a bright violet for one of her leaves... It's not realistic at all, but it harmonizes with the golds, reds, and greens of the other leaves wonderfully! At this point she hasn't chosen her background color. I can't wait to see what color/s she chooses! 

Here are a couple of pages out of  our Spring Picture Book . The images in this book were painted and colored separately on to paper plates then applied to a page that was painted before hand for the chosen images. This is fun collage idea and can be applied to your Fall leaf book as well... Paint a back ground page, let it dry. On a separate sheet, paint some leaves, cut them out and glue them on! SIMPLE! 

Both sides of the page have images and background color on them just like a real book! 

These are the covers to our Ocean Picture Book and the Spring Picture Book! 

( back page to Spring picture book ) 

*  Decide which pages will be your COVER and BACK of your book
* If you wrote a poem, will you place it on the front inside cover, or spread out the verses on the pages?
* To bind your book, punch three holes down the left side of your pages and tie together with ribbon, twine, yarn, jute, string, or what ever you have on hand.

There's more to creating art than mastering a technique. Especially in the beginning!

Before you and your child paint your pages, experiment on a " play sheet " of  water color paper first...
Try using different colors, more or less water, bigger vs. smaller brushes and brush strokes and play with contrasting color ideas! 

BASIC Water Color Painting Tips:
  • The more water you add to your color the more translucent the color. ( more see through)
  • The lesser amount of water you add the more opaque/deeper your color will be. ( more coverage)
  • Let one layer of paint dry for 15 minutes or so before adding another color for shading, or texture
  • Change rinse water when it becomes cloudy or muddy looking
  • To add texture to a leaf dampen your sea sponge, blot it almost dry, dab it in your color of choice, blot again then lightly tap it up and down on your leaf.
  • What else could you use to make patterns in your leaves?  
The mission behind this create with the season ART IDEA  is to help you and your child connect with nature and sharpen observation skills. To have fun playing with a new art medium and to have the experience of making a book you will treasure for many years to come. Just think, when the last leaf has fallen and the ground is brown, ( or white with snow) and skies are gray you can pick up your fall leaf book for a big dose of color!

  You've gotten your feet wet and your brushes too and spent precious time creating with your child.

What other ideas can YOU come up with for more Picture Books? 

Thank so much for joining us in making a Fall Leaf Picture Book! 
I promise a post when ours is complete... In the meantime... Happy Painting... and don't forget to post about your book when it's finished and send me the link too!

" you yourselves must be filled with wonder and when you have acquired that, you are prepared."  ~ Montessori

Friday, November 12, 2010

This Moment~ A Friday Ritual

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Make a Fall Leaf Picture Book ~ part one

Of all the seasons, Fall is my favorite! The inside rooms of our home are painted in cozy fall colors such as warm apricot, crimson red, and earthy golden ocher.

It is the glorious season of fall we have to thank for the inspiration behind this fun and easy picture book. No formal art lessons required!

To get this Art Idea off the ground you'll need to head outside with your children to gather all sorts of fallen leaves. Choose as many shapes as you can find and a wide variation in color.

Look at the varied shades of golden yellows, and the reds looking almost pink in spots!

Note the brown spots in these leaves.

Once you have your leaves gathered, place them between the pages of heavy books, or underneath a large platter or plate to flatten them... Leave them to dry and flatten for 2-3 days. While your waiting on your leaves you can go shopping for art supplies! 

Art Supplies List 

  • Watercolor Paints
  • Watercolor Pad  11 x 15 inches
  • Mechanical pencils for tracing
  • Water Color Paint Brushes
  •  Washable Tempura Paints
  • One pkg. Small Sea Sponges
  • Jute, ribbon or twine
  • Hole punch

  • * art supplies can be found at your local craft supply and art supply store. 
Now that you have your supplies you're ready place your leaves onto your watercolor pages.
You and your children can have fun arranging your leaves in any pattern that is pleasing to you. 
As your placing your leaves, think about how leaves fall naturally in nature. Side by side, upside down, on top of the other, most colorful side up or down etc...

Here is an example of an Oak Leaf traced onto graph paper. 
As your tracing your leaves, don't worry about getting it perfect or following too close to the edge of the leaf.
Leaves have missing tips and holes in them so just trace around those edges loosely. 

  Great! Trace as many leaves as you like on both sides of the watercolor paper. 
Your book can be as many pages as you like. 

We'll be back next week for Part 2.

Basic painting techniques in watercolors.
Collage Ideas
Binding your book together

Sneak Peak at a page in progress! 

While you're waiting for Part 2 see if you can make up a poem to go with your leaf picture book. 
Here's a prompt for you!

One by one, down they fall... ??? 

 I'll do a " Fall Leaf Book Tour " post of  your completed  books or pages. Just send me your blog post link if you blogged about it / J Peg photos when your done!
Its fun to share!

 It's on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly. ~ Claude Monet'