Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"Shiny Stuff" Treasure Tin for Winter

Our autumn treasure basket was such a hit, I decided to make a new one for winter and the holidays. These baskets are inspired by traditional heuristic baskets and are great fun for both my infant and preschooler. I enlisted the help of my 3 year old, and together we gathered all manner of shiny and sparkly things hanging around my craft room and tucked them into a pretty tin I'd gotten on clearance after Christmas last year.

Inside the tin are three glass jars (they once held bullion cubes) filled with silver tinsel, metal bottle caps, and rhinestones. I hot glued the lids shut, and they make interesting shakers and discovery bottles for the littlest one. I also added a large gift bow, an empty tart pan, a jingle bell ornament, and holographic foil tissue paper.

As with our autumn treasure basket, this tin is kept on the entry way credenza alongside a basket of seasonal books, magazines, and music. The kids love playing with it in the evenings while dinner is cooked and many other times throughout the day.

These treasure baskets are inexpensive (free!) to put together from recycled materials and dollar store finds. It's simple to change up the content to keep them fresh and engaging. They really draw my kids in, and I like that they're attractive enough that I don't mind leaving them out in "entertaining" areas of my home.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Gotta Plug in to Recharge

Warning, it's about to get sentimental up in here, yo. Grab your slickers and prepare for a heavy downpour of syrup.

I often do my kitchen cleaning - dishes, wiping down counters and appliances, sweeping the floors, shining the sink - in the mornings. I set up a little art project for Meg at the table and put the baby in his high chair with snacks and a few safe art supplies from Meg's project. Today, instead of working on the ever-present mountain of dishes and piles of crumbs, I set a pan of water, cinnamon sticks, orange peels, and rosemary sprigs to simmer on the stove, turned on some handbell Christmas music, and took a mug of tea over to the table to sit with my girl while she created.

I'd given her a new package of colorful paperclips, and she started right to work folding envelopes, sheets of foam, and papers from her art shelf and pinning the clips all over them. The table was cluttered with scissors and crayons and markers and confetti.

As I was sitting with her, soaking up the sweetness of the moment, I had to consciously keep pulling my thoughts away from responsibilities and chores and other distractions. "Oh, now would be a good time to paint the front door. They probably wouldn't even notice if I got up." "Maybe I should vacuum up those pine needles in the sitting room. I'll be able to see them from there." "Ugh, dishes. I need to get those done before lunch. I could still talk to Meg while I do them." "I could just run downstairs and throw a load of wash in real quick." "I could check my Facebook right here from the table."

And every time I had to ask myself, "Really? Would I really rather be doing that than sitting with these sweet little faces and chattering and singing?" I don't always have the luxury of just sitting with the kids and enjoying their company. Why do I feel such a pull to give up that time when the rare opportunity presents itself. I had nowhere to be and no deadlines to meet. So I sat and enjoyed a lovely morning and afternoon with my favorite people.

Sometimes keeping the house in order feels like a circus act, keeping all these balls in the air while balancing on a beam and doing cartwheels. Mornings like today's give me that boost to keep on juggling. And these little faces are better than any back pats or applause for shiny floors and empty sinks.