Christmas pom-pom garlands

Christmas pom-pom garland {Heather's Handmade Life}

Let’s get this out of the way up front: I dislike Christmas decor.

I mean, it’s fine in other people’s houses. I know plenty of people who love decorating for the holidays and their homes look wonderful.

But in my house? Ugh. It always feels cluttered and over-full during the month of December, once we’ve pulled out the lights and stockings and Santas and tinsel garlands … and the giant wooden gingerbread man that seemed like a fun idea at the time. Then there’s the (special but admittedly gaudy) tree itself.

Basically, I’m taking deep breaths and looking forward to the lovely season of decluttering and organization — a.k.a. January. That’s my Christmas.

Of course, my children adore Christmas and all of the decorations that come with it. So I thought I’d make an effort to replace a few pieces with ones I liked better — specifically, something simpler.

Christmas pom-pom garland {Heather's Handmade Life}

I decorated bedrooms for two tweens a few months ago and fell in love with the sweet pom-pom garlands I’d made for their rooms. So I picked up packages of red and white pom-poms and made a few to swag over the windows in our living room.

These are SO easy to make! 

Continue reading in my weekly DIY column, My Handmade Home … 

Notice me Senpai?! My 8-year-old’s secret admirer

"Notice me, Senpai!" My 8-year-old's secret admirer sent him the weirdest note! {Heather's Handmade Life}

Well, that was unexpected! My eight-year-old son just came home with what may be the most … unusual … secret admirer note?

"Notice me, Senpai!" My 8-year-old's secret admirer sent him the weirdest note! {Heather's Handmade Life}

In case you’re not used to kiddie-writing, it says …

Dear Dexter,

Hi. I really like you. Like not as a friend. Like a boyfriend.

I always call you Senpai. You’re my Senpai. 

I always look at you at recess.

Love from, your secret admirer

***

Adorable, right???

It was typical cute-kid stuff, really, except for the word “Senpai.” I thought it might be Mi’kmaq since it’s the third language of our school, and both D and C take Mi’kmaq lessons every week. Or possibly another Japanese word for Sensei, but that seemed far-fetched.

A quick Google search and I figured out that “Senpai” basically means someone who is older than you and/or more experienced than you, and the phrase “Notice me, Senpai” is a cool way of talking about your crush when you don’t think they know you exist. (D was very flattered by this point.)

But wait! It gets even more … interesting?

D and I found a cute-looking anime video on YouTube called “Notice me Senpai” and figured this is likely where an elementary-aged kid in Nova Scotia learned about the phrase.

Naturally, we watched it …

At first, it was very sweet! The girl likes the boy! The boy actually looks a little like D! Aww. 

Senpai, I saw you at school today
Took your picture then I snuck away
I want you to notice me …
but I’m just someone you don’t notice!

Then things took a dark turn …

Um … well … 
Please notice me, Senpai
Please notice me, Senpai
Please notice me, Senpai
or others will have to die
I’m sorry, WHAT WERE THOSE LYRICS?!

EVERYONE ELSE MUST DIE
ONLY YOU AND I WILL BE LEFT STANDING
WHOAH THERE’S BLOOD ON MY KNIFE
AND I DON’T KNOW WHY
WHAT THE WHAAAAAAT?!

Luckily, my darling boy didn’t seem freaked out. He’s happy with his note, and suspects it’s either a fellow Grade 3 or a girl in the 2/3 split class.

I suggested he give the note to his teacher and ask her to pass it around the staff room for handwriting identification. He loved this idea, so YOU’RE WELCOME, TEACHERS! 😉 

In the meantime, um, I suppose we’ll be on the lookout for little girls at our school who love anime and perhaps show murderous tendencies to other little girls who may stand in her way of winning my boy?

GRADE 3, WHAT THE HELL?!?!

The pressure of ‘believing’

The pressure of believing {Heather's Handmade Life}

Welcome to Veggie Village, the very boring column where we talk about forcing our kids to eat vegetables because we’re mean. Today I’m going to share my favourite methods for steaming broccoli and how to … OK, that should guarantee any kids have stopped reading …

I could say this is the year it happened, but it actually may have started last year when our son was in Grade 2. It wasn’t dramatic.

He came home from school and matter-of-factly announced, “Some kids on the bus said there’s no Santa Claus.”

My reply is always the same. “Wow, that’s not nice. Santa’s not going to like that!” He really isn’t.

Our daughter, who’s only in Grade 1, piped up another day that she’d heard the same thing. (Their bus ride is about five minutes long and yet it’s plenty of time to learn bad words, tell scary stories that will upset them later at bedtime and potentially ruin Christmas magic.)

The pressure of believing {Heather's Handmade Life}
Loves fancy coats. Enjoys attention. Believes in Santa, but possibly just for presents?

“A girl on the bus said Santa’s not real, but I don’t believe her because I want presents!” she chirped. Our son quickly agreed.

I really don’t know what they believe about the big guy in red. We have always been a little loose about the details …

The pressure of believing {Heather's Handmade Life}
Continue reading my parenting column

Continue reading in my weekly parenting column, The Mom Scene … 

***

You may also like …

The Fortnite fight

The Fortnite fight: Why I'm not letting my son play yet {Heather's Handmade Life}
Our eight-and-a-half-year-old son is obsessed with being allowed to play Fortnite and I am obsessed with saying “no.” (At least, that’s how he perceives this thing called “trying to be a good parent and never being quite sure.”)

Here’s why he insists it’s a good idea I let him play Fortnite …

1. All of his friends play it.

First of all, this isn’t even true. But he claims everyone else (well, almost everyone) is allowed to play Fortnite and I’m the only stick-in-the-mud parent. I asked him if his friends jumped off a bridge, would he? He looked at me blankly and said, “There … aren’t bridges in the game.”

2. The dances.

He’s got a point here. The only nice thing about Fortnite, in my opinion, is that its popularity has encouraged my serious little robot child to dance. The game is responsible for dance crazes like The Floss, The L, Best Mates and Groove Jam. They’re adorable, like this generation’s Macarena. Apparently, there are also lots of silly costumes, like spacesuits and dinosaur outfits, that appeal to younger kids like him.

3. It’s free.

He thinks this is a great selling point. It is not.

The Fortnite fight: Why I'm not letting my son play yet {Heather's Handmade Life}

He regularly pleads for this game and I give him my usual string of reasons why I’m not letting him play Fortnite yet …

Continue reading in my weekly parenting column, The Mom Scene … 

How we (finally) moved our shed

How we (finally) moved our shed {Heather's Handmade Life}

YouTube tutorials can be a wonderful resource when you’re trying something new. They can also fill you with false confidence and convince you to try a stupid (and potentially dangerous) idea that will leave everyone in a panic.

It all started with the placement of the shed (technically a baby barn) in our backyard. It was strangely positioned about six feet away from our deck, with a winding garden behind it. It made an already-narrow yard feel even narrower, and we talked for years about moving it … somehow … to the back of the property instead.

How we (finally) moved our shed {Heather's Handmade Life}

Well, YouTube to the rescue! We stumbled upon a video (I think it was this one) that showed a guy moving a huge shed “by hand” by rolling it on long wooden polls. It sounds crazy and, it turned out, it was crazy, but it seemed doable. Didn’t the pioneers always load barns onto logs and move them to a new homestead of something? It seemed legit.

At $30 for six posts, we decided to give it a try and see if it worked. Without going into too much detail — because no one should try this at home — we started by jacking up the shed. I was freaking out the whole time, positive the whole structure was going to come crashing down on my husband’s foot (or head).

How we (finally) moved our shed {Heather's Handmade Life}

We slipped the posts underneath and rigged up wooden skids and a pathway of pavers. The idea was that the shed would smoothly roll along them to its resting point at the back of the yard. (Fat chance.)

We pulled … and pushed … and cursed. The shed barely budged. YouTube had lied to us!

Continue reading in my weekly DIY column, My Handmade Home … 

How we (finally) moved our shed {Heather's Handmade Life}

Continue reading in my weekly DIY column, My Handmade Home … 

How we (finally) moved our shed {Heather's Handmade Life}

And here’s how it looks now!

How we (finally) moved our shed {Heather's Handmade Life}

How did it get there EVENTUALLY? Continue reading in my weekly DIY column, My Handmade Home … 

How we (finally) moved our shed {Heather's Handmade Life}
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DIY photo board from a door grille

DIY photo board from door grille {Heather's Handmade Life}

It was leaning in the corner of my client’s basement, and I recognized it immediately as one of those wooden grilles you’d see in a French door.

“Oooh! Can we use that?” — one of my favourite questions when I’m decorating a room for someone.

I didn’t know exactly what I’d do with it, but I knew I had to take it. It was the same oak as the doors and trim in her daughter’s bedroom, and I knew I could make something cool with it.

A photo board! Yes!

I could put fabric and batting behind it, and photos could be slipped behind the wooden grid. I was still fuzzy on how it was going to work, exactly, but I had the general idea.

DIY photo board from door grille {Heather's Handmade Life}

Continue reading in my weekly DIY column, My Handmade Home …

Want to see how this whole bedroom turned out? Check out these previous tutorials …

Custom desk + photo ledges >>> FULL POST

Navy nightstands >> FULL POST

Creative organizing ideas >> FULL POST

Filing cabinet makeover >> FULL POST

Kitchen chair turned desk chair >> FULL POST

Like this post? Don’t forget to PIN IT so it’s easy to find later …

DIY photo board from door grille {Heather's Handmade Life}
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The thing about theme days

The thing about theme days {Heather's Handmade Life}
I love a good theme day.

There was nobody as excited as me when I finally got to participate in my first Crazy Hair Day at our elementary school two years ago.

I was delighted in hot-gluing LEGO bricks to barrettes and turning our son’s hair into a LEGO tornado. Our daughter still talks about how much she loved the “cupcake hair” I’d made by tugging her ballet bun through a hole in a paper plate.

For my own hairdo, I wound a high ponytail inside an empty 2L Diet Coke bottle so it “poured” out the spout. I was really proud of myself until I saw a student who’d done the same thing, except hers even poured into a Styrofoam cup. She clearly won.

Read the full Crazy Hair Day post

The occasional theme day is fun for everyone. But do you know what is not fun for everyone? A new theme each week — especially when it’s for an after-school activity you’re paying to attend.

Ughhhhhhh.

Continue reading in my weekly parenting column, The Mom Scene …

Sneaky DIY secret of dry-brushing

The sneaky DIY secret of dry-brushing furniture and accessories {Heather's Handmade Life}
It’s not that I’m lazy. I’m actually one of those people who is always doing something. I can’t even watch TV without also loom-knitting or quilting or embroidering or something.

But … I admit to being a little lazy (and sloppy) when it comes to painting. I love anything that speeds up the process of painting furniture or accessories or walls — ugh, have yet to find a way to speed up wall painting, unfortunately.

So, today I’m going to share the DIY secret that is … dry-brushing.

The sneaky DIY secret of dry-brushing furniture and accessories {Heather's Handmade Life}

I’ve talked about this a few times before, in passing, but it really deserves more. Dry-brushing is exactly what it sounds like: painting something with a dry-ish brush that has hardly any paint on it.

Wait, that makes it sound like it would make the painting process longer, doesn’t it? Less paint on the brush equals more time and effort to cover the thing with paint? That’s why dry-brushing is sneaky.

The sneaky DIY secret of dry-brushing furniture and accessories {Heather's Handmade Life}
DIY sofa tables: FULL TUTORIAL

Well, hang onto your paint-splattered project pants (Do they have holes? Mine have holes), because here are the three situations when I tend to break out the dry-brushing …

The sneaky DIY secret of dry-brushing furniture and accessories {Heather's Handmade Life}
Continue reading

Continue reading in my weekly DIY column, My Handmade Home …

DIY Harry Potter costumes

DIY Harry Potter costumes | DIY Quidditch broom craft | Hermione Granger costume | Rita Skeeter costume | {Heather's Handmade Life}

And so, after spending a year feeling guilty about dropping waaaaay too much money in the stupid Halloween store — and coming to the conclusion that DIY costumes aren’t always cheaper — I present to you … our sorta-bought, sorta-DIY Harry Potter costumes …

DIY Harry Potter costumes | DIY Quidditch broom craft | Hermione Granger costume | Rita Skeeter costume | {Heather's Handmade Life}
C in her Hermione Granger costume, D in his “Quidditch Harry Potter” costume

Pretty cute, right? Here’s the breakdown of what we cobbled together for each costume …

DIY Harry Potter costumes | DIY Quidditch broom craft | Hermione Granger costume | Rita Skeeter costume | {Heather's Handmade Life}

DIY Hermione Granger costume

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DIY Halloween costumes for kids

DIY Halloween costumes for kids {Heather's Handmade Life}

This is our EIGHTH year of going trick-or-treating with at least one kiddo, and we’ve had a lot of fun costumes over the years. Many have been handmade, but many have also been store-bought and maybe modified a lil’. (Er, some more expensively than others.)

Here’s a quickie photo-heavy round-up of what we’ve been each year, starting with the first “real” Halloween (a.k.a. our first with kids) when D was just four months old …

DIY Halloween costumes for kids {Heather's Handmade Life}
Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head

DIY Halloween costumes for kids {Heather's Handmade Life}
Garden Gnome + Pregnant Skeleton (there’s a baby C in there!)

DIY Halloween costumes for kids {Heather's Handmade Life}
Farmer, Minnie Mouse, and Mama Minnie Mouse with awesome breastfeeding boobs

DIY Halloween costumes for kids {Heather's Handmade Life}
Sir Topham Hatt, two Oompa Loompas, and a Wonka Bar

DIY Halloween costumes for kids {Heather's Handmade Life}
Mama Bear and Sister Bear from the Berenstain Bear family + a “spooky ghost”

DIY Halloween costumes for kids {Heather's Handmade Life}
Kira and Tori from Barbie: Princess and the Popstar (with duct tape boots) and a Green Power Ranger Dino Charge

DIY Halloween costumes for kids {Heather's Handmade Life}
Red Lego Ninjago + Spongebob Squarepants

DIY Halloween costumes for kids {Heather's Handmade Life}
Slimer, a Ghostbuster (then a crappy homemade thing) and Draculaura from Monster High

Tonight we’ll be dressing up as Harry Potter (OF COURSE), Hermione Granger, Rita Skeeter (meeeeee!) and Dobby (Annabelle). Except only two of those costumes are done. Crap.

Getting kids excited about STEM

Getting kids excited about STEM {Heather's Handmade Life}

Disclosure: littleBits sent us a Base Inventor Kit* to play with so I could share this story. All opinions and irrational fears of science are my own.

***

I can’t imagine a future in which my daughter doesn’t think she can go to university to study math or engineering, but that was pretty much the case back when I was younger.

I was terrible at math growing up — science, too, actually — but I was pretty great at computer programming. I’d taught myself basic coding before I even hit puberty, and I really liked diving into the gobbledygook that made up a simple computer game or quiz.

For half a second, I thought about pursuing it in university, but I was spooked by the word “science” in “computer science.” I wasn’t good at science, therefore, I wasn’t cut out for computer science. End of story. Off to do an arts degree, then!

I don’t know if a single girl from my graduating class went on to major in math or engineering, though several did go for science degrees. Today, I know quite a few men, ranging from their 20s to their 60s, who are engineers. I don’t think I know any women who are engineers.

And it isn’t a matter of skill.

“Girls score almost identically to their male classmates on standardized tests through high school. Yet, boys demonstrate twice as much interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) careers as girls as early as the eighth grade,” says Elaine Khuu, senior product designer with littleBits*, an education startup. “Men then go on to hold a disproportionately-high share of STEM undergraduate degrees, particularly in engineering.”

How can you get your kids — especially your daughters — interested in STEM? Continue reading in my weekly parenting column, The Mom Scene … 

Getting kids excited about STEM {Heather's Handmade Life}
Getting kids excited about STEM | FULL ARTICLE

Looking for a cool STEM Christmas gift? This is the littleBits Base Inventor Kit* we got to try …

Getting kids excited about STEM {Heather's Handmade Life}
Shop this littleBits kit*

DIY tall outdoor planter

DIY super-tall outdoor planter {Heather's Handmade Life}
Let me start by saying that I originally wanted two matching planters, one for either side of our front door. The fact that there is one lonely planter in the photo should tell you that this project did not go according to plan — and that I chose my marriage over a second planter. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

DIY super-tall outdoor planter {Heather's Handmade Life}
One (planter) is the loneliest number

I didn’t see this one coming. Three years ago, I’d pinned a cool tutorial for these extra-tall wooden planter boxes. Georgia blogger Katie Bower had created the plans and they looked pretty easy. Lots of measurements and step-by-step photos. I ended up re-pinning the link several times over the years as a reminder to actually build them. (Katie’s awesome! If you don’t follow Bower Power already, DOOOO IT.)

DIY super-tall outdoor planter {Heather's Handmade Life}

After a lot of cajoling, my handy husband agreed to make me two for the front porch. I texted him the link to the tutorial (several times) and he went off to buy dog-eared fence pickets, as specified. We’d never used them before, but they’re very cheap (less than $3 each) and rough to the touch, but fine for rustic outdoor projects like planters.

Continue reading in my weekly DIY column, My Handmade Home … 

DIY super-tall outdoor planter {Heather's Handmade Life}
Pin this project to try later!