Last summer at the Minnesota State Fair, I had the pleasure of meeting Andrea Martin and watching her work for awhile in the Fine Arts building (looking at the art there is always a highlight of our day at the fair). I was enthralled with her work, and I immediately began looking into paper-cutting and what all it entailed.

Fast forward to January, when Husband took me to see the Papercut! exhibit at American Swedish Institute. Karen Bit Vejle has devoted decades to perfecting her craft, and to see such large-scale papercuts was very inspiring. I immediately began dabbling with the materials I had on hand. Here are my first four papercuts, done with an Exacto knife and materials I had on hand (I ordered silhouette paper for the last). On the third one I folded once to create a symmetrical border, then opened to cut the design. I really look forward to exploring this art form more!

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Markus’s Ninja Turtle 4th Birthday Party

Last summer Markus told me he wanted a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle birthday party. He even went so far as to make decorations and ask me to save them for his party (a portrait of each Ninja Turtle), which I didn’t recall until I pulled out his decorations box.

I didn’t go overboard with decorations, just used some of what we had on hand and bought some balloons and a few streamers. I painted a Leonardo onto the side of a large box and Husband cut him out. That took time, but was free, since I already had all the paint I used. I love it when I can pull off a party on the cheap! Plus, Markus was tickled that I put up all the decorations in the order in which he ALWAYS says their names, as though they are one unit: Raphael-Donatello-Michelangelo-Leonardo. 🙂

Some obliging family members:

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M’s handmade decorations and one Anja made for him.

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Thanks to Pinterest for supplying most of my ideas!

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Toys make great centerpieces! Not the first time I’ve used that trick. In fact, the 4th of his 4 birthday parties. 🙂

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Of COURSE we served pizza, because it’s the Ninja Turtles’ favorite food.

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Markus’s Burger Ka-chow! 3rd birthday party

Markus wanted a “Lightning McQueen and Mater” birthday party, so we incorporated those characters with an idea he came up with last spring. We had just watched the first Cars movie as a family, and he said over the course of several weeks that he planned to open his own restaurant called “Burger Ka-Chow!” and it would serve burgers, fries and ketchup. We thought that a pretty good business plan for a 2-yr-old, and the idea stuck with me as I planned his birthday party this year. It was his very own Burger Ka-Chow! restaurant.

Husband and I spent a week secretly working on these guys in our laundry room. Markus was surprised to find Lightning and Mater big enough for him to sit in. They were inspired by this post. We weren’t expecting any other children than mine, and I didn’t have the time or energy to make a whole fleet of cars, so we just poured our creativity into these two. 🙂

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The rest of the decor was simple, and the menu included burgers, fries, AND ketchup. 🙂

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Anja added this sweet little picture she drew of Mater towing Lightning McQueen.

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My mom had an old Wilton car-shaped cake pan from my brother’s birthday in the ’80s, so we souped him up a little to look like Lightning McQueen.

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Happy birthday, Little Man!

Merry Christmas!

I missed all the Christmas linky parties, but I did take a few photos of our Christmas decor this week. So for my own posterity…here they are! 🙂

I wish you and yours the merriest Christmas and a very happy New Year!

With love,
Heidi (and family!)

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photo by Leaves of Grass Photography

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I bought a little snowflake card holder this year, and it’s barely able to contain all the love!

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Mom’s shirt to daughter’s dress

So. Sew. I don’t sew very well, but I had a few things in a Goodwill pile that I decided I might try to re-fashion into something for Anja. One was a shirt that became a dress.

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The other two were shirts that became skirts. They’re on the homely side, but she has worn them completely willingly. Atta girl!

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Markus wanted in on the modeling action.

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And Markus was busy with his own little “project” while I was making them. Uh oh…

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The Rainbow Game

What do you do when you have some colorful paper and a long-ish morning with the kids? Make up a game, of course!

I cut a bunch of 1″ strips of paper and glued a “rainbow” of them onto 3 white pieces of paper, labeling the colors because I want Anja to start identifying written words with everything.

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I grabbed the nearest receptacle, which happened to be a paper bag, and tossed the rest of the scraps in. We took turns drawing paper strips out until someone covered all their colors and completed their rainbow. Anja got frustrated that a couple of her colors had a stack of strips five high and she wasn’t drawing the color she wanted, but it’s a lesson learned in patience, right? Both kids loved it, and it was a nice little departure from our usual Candyland-Go Fish-Memory-Hi Ho Cherrio routine.

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I was surprised how well Markus did with this, neatly stacking his colored pieces on top of the correct color. He knows all his colors and has for some time, but the fact that he was able to get them pretty much lined up made me very happy for him. 🙂

I made some pillows

They are eventually for our master bedroom, which is in a sad, unfinished state, and may remain that way for awhile. But I have them in the living room now so I can enjoy them. I didn’t have a pattern but had seen several tutorials here and there that gave me a general idea on how to make them. I never have the patience to hand-sew the final bit together after I’ve stuffed the pillow in, so seamstresses who visit my house: no peeking at my seams!
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Wee Rice Hand Warmers

So here we have a bit of a tutorial. I was making these the other night (for Christmas gifts), and I thought I’d take a few photos and make a post of it. Especially since my other tutorial is all the rage on Pinterest, somehow!

Find some fleece (re-purposed is great, mine is a half yard from JoAnn Fabrics).
Cut some shapes. I did cute hearts for the gals, manly squares for the guys.
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Thread your machine (I did a contrasting white to give the stitching a little “pop.” After the fact, I would’ve chosen something matching to hide my errors–ha!). Stick the needle in a corner.
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Sew most of the way around your shape, lifting the presser foot with the needle still inserted in the fleece to rotate it as you make your way around the tricky curves. Leave about a 1″ gap for the rice to go in. Snip thread.
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Use a funnel or make a paper funnel (if you moved 6 months ago and still can’t find half your junk) to put rice in the bag. Not too full, mind you. This should feel like a very loose bean bag.
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Overlap your previous stitching by about 1/4″ inch on each side to make sure the rice won’t fall out as you stitch it up the rest of the way.
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Ta da! Done. Include these directions for their use:

Heat for 20 seconds in microwave. Put in your mittens or your pockets to keep your hands toasty for 10-20 minutes. Repeat as needed! If they start to discolor or smell funky, throw them away. They’re past their prime. 🙂


During the month of November, our family “grew” a Thankfulness Tree. It was a lot of fun, and it gave us time each day to think of things we were thankful for together. Since I’ll be throwing away all the leaves from the tree, I decided I’ll record the things we were thankful for here for posterity. Markus had to be encouraged not to put “books” on his leaf every day, and Anja had a hard time coming up with ideas besides food. And some of the kids’ ones crack me up.  Daddy has less because he wasn’t always with us at dinner time when we put up our leaves.

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My job
Warm house

Grandpa Mike’s help on our house
“Cooking” with my kids
Hot, healthy food
Snuggles with my kids
Central heat
Mornings at home
Fresh water
Anja and Markus
Daddy’s hard work cleaning the garage
pretty chirping birds

Yummy Owl S’mores
Sweet oranges for yummy snack
Cat picture I colored
Trees (she wrote that herself)
Bananas and fruit
Our old house
Alydia, Sherman, and my other toys
If someone will fix my kitty
Colorful leaves
Pretty birds and yummy fruit bananas
Coloring crayons
Beautiful rainbows
Daddy and Mama

Biggie (his lovey)
Green leaves
Graham crackers
Toy school bus
Mama and Daddy
Fingers (twice!)
M & Ms
Boomer (his fire truck)