a boxtroll and a ballerina mouse

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This last summer our family had the opportunity to visit Laika Studio.  The production company that made the stop motion movie The Boxtrolls.  After seeing Henrik’s enthusiasm for claymation and his extensive knowledge of many film makers such as Ray Harryhausen, the pioneer in the field of stop motion, they let us in for an exclusive VIP tour of their studio.  Henrik was in Heaven, and learned a few more tricks to making his figures that much better.

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This year for Halloween Henrik wanted to be a Boxtroll and Maja said she wanted to be a Ballerina Mouse.  I decided to make both of their costumes out of Paper mache.  Paper mache is fairly easy to make with items from around your home.  All you need are: balloons, flour, water,  tissue or newsprint, paint, and patience.  I definitely was lacking in patience and popped both balloons too early. I ended up having to re-inflate a balloon in each mask and add new paper mache, as well as paint them over.  Lessoned learned; wait overnight till popping the balloon.  It will save you so much more work and time, as well as heartache on your children.

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Henrik also decided he wanted to dress as the main character, Eggs.  Maja wanted to be in her costume for about two minutes and decided she had better things to do.  I hope you enjoy and had a happy Halloween!

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Henrik’s puppet party

Last month on September 16th, my little boy Henrik turned 7.  I can’t believe he’s getting so old!  As some of you may already know, Henrik is a creative little boy and loves to make things with his hands.  For the past two years Henrik has been really into making clay figures and creatures, we even did a claymation party last year.  Lately Henrik has not been sculpting as much (which makes me sad), and all he wants to do is make puppets.  He spends every spare moment looking at puppet books and researching new techniques to make puppets.  I can’t keep up with him and his creations and puppet clippings, I find them EVERYWHERE.  He has a very intense, and driven personality, I don’t know where he gets it from, ha!

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This year we decided to do a puppet Birthday party for Henrik and his school friends. Being a social guy and considering everyone his friend, he wanted to invite his entire class.  I helped him realize that inviting 20+ children might not be the best thing for his Mama’s sanity and helped him shorten the guest list to about 7-8 friends.

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For Henrik’s birthday we gave him a few how to puppet books, some vintage muppets, and a puppet theater.  I made the puppet theater from the Ikea Skylta market stand.  I painted the entire stand in Martha Stewart’s Ink Encre Tinta chalkboard paint.  I repainted over the red stripes on the roof in rust red, to make it look hand drawn.  I also painted the sign that attaches to the stand in gold paint and black chalkboard paint.  I sewed two simple curtains with two yards of black and white gingham fabric, using a tension rod to hold the curtains up.  I also painted two strips of leather with red paint, and used snaps to fasten the curtains back.  Henrik was so thrilled to see his new puppet theater and immediately started to perform a puppet show for us.

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For the party we decided to keep the puppet making simple.  We used fuzzy multicolored socksgoogly eyes and felt.  We let the kids cut and pick out all the pieces they wanted to make for their puppet, but left the hot gluing to the adults.  It was so fun to see all the innovative little creatures they came up with.  There was a white wolf, constantine, a cowboy, a blue monster, a puppet with a thick mustache, and a few more that I can’t remember.

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After they had made their puppets we let them each perform a little puppet show for us.

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Maja got a little overwhelmed with all these boys running around and had a little meltdown.  It’s tough being the princess of the party.

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Eventually she calmed down and joined the puppet show with her princess puppet.

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I was pleasantly surprised by how much fun the kids had making their puppets and performing with them.  We had so much fun doing it with them too.

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The puppet performances were quite entertaining.

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We even got a portrait of each of the kids with their puppets.  I loved watching them interact with their creations.  What sweet little boys.

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Our trip to hampton court

So, I’m finally getting around to editing my pictures of our trip to London.  We’ve had such a busy summer full of so many adventures, I can’t wait to share them with you.  In the end of May we went to London for nine days as an entire family.  It was so wonderful!  My mother-in-law is a very passionate gardener and makes a trip out to the Chelsea Flower show in London every year.  This year she invited us to come along with her, and of course we said “Yes!!!”

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I really love traveling and seeing new sites, or revisiting favorite sites.  I especially love being able to share it with my children.  There is nothing like seeing their joy and excitement when they learn or see something new.

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When I was a teenager, my brother studied at Cambridge and Oxford.  I was the only one living at home and my mother would take me with her to visit him.  I feel so lucky that I got to visit him several times over the years and learn and experience England from his perspective.  My brother is a history professor and has a photographic memory.  He can literally remember most dates and details of anything he has read.  I wish I had that memory.  He would recite the history and importance of everything we visited.  It was like having your own personal tour guide.  We loved it!!!  We visited Bath, the Cotswolds, central England, London, and of course Cambridge and Oxford.  We visited many museums, sites, gardens, architectural sites, etc.  If there was historical significance we saw it.    It was such an enriching experience for me and I hope to be able to offer a bit of that exposure to my children.

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Hampton Court was one of my favorite places that I visited with my mother and brother as a child.  We were so happy to take our kids to visit this historic palace.  Hampton Court is only a 20 minute train ride from London and was made famous by Henry the v111.  It has an interesting blend of the Tudor and Baroque buildings.  You get to see the great hall and kitchens of the tudor era, as well as the private rooms of King William and Mary.  There is is so much to see.  There are so many beautifully gardens, manicured trees, and bushes, and even a maze!  My children had so much fun running around chasing each other and explore EVERYTHING.  It was wonderful.

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The entrance to Hampton court, in the original Tutor style.

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Entrance to one of the gardens.

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A beautiful wild grassy area that leads to the maze.  My kids had so much fun exploring and trying to find their way out.

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These chimneys are so detailed and amazing.

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This manicured tree has an opening big enough to fit my little Henrik.

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More chimneys and Allium.

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The inner court.

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The most beautiful gardens.

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This was a wonderful day, and and it wouldn’t be England if it didn’t rain.  Thank you for indulging me.  I’ll be sharing the rest of our stay in London soon.

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merrilee liddiard’s book playful

Last summer I had the wonderful opportunity to work with some of my favorite people and style all the interiors and props for my friend Merrilee’s new kids craft book, Playful.  It was such a dream to work on this project and I got to meet and work with the most talented, wonderful ladies.

playfulAs some of you may know I’ve worked on many projects with Merrilee in the past.  She and I first met at a friend’s party and became fast friends when we discovered our mutual love of all things kid related, and couldn’t stop talking about kid’s design.

Merrilee is truly one of the most talented people I know.  She has an impeccable eye and unbelievable imagination.  Creating this book is the perfect form of expression for all her beautiful, well thought out kids crafts and toys.  She has poured her heart and soul into the making of this book, and it shows by the beauty she has created.

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When I first met Brittany (she styled the book with me), we both had our hair pulled back in braids, were wearing vintage dresses and swedish clogs.  I knew immediately that we were going to get along.  It was so wonderful to work closely with someone whose taste I completely trusted.  We discussed in detail each of the different setups for the book and really wanted to bring to life what Merrilee had envisioned.

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The photography is by the ever talented Nicole Hill.  She has the ability to make magic happen in front of the camera and really get the best out of the models.  She takes everything in stride, and wasn’t even phased by the fact that she was nine months pregnant while photographing the entire book!

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These row houses, or Brownstones were the first project I saw when planning for the book.  As soon as I saw these I knew this book would be special.  What child wouldn’t want to play with them, and their made out of cardboard!

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These two little love birds are real life best friends.  You can tell by the way they look at each other and smile, makes my heart melt.

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The book is divided into three sections:  Playful Paper Crafts,   Playful Dress Up, and Playful Art.  There are so many innovative and fun projects to work on.  Some are a bit more involved, like the brownstones, and some are simple that require no parent supervision, like the finger print art.

playful7Poppy’s expresión and leg lift kill me every time.

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My sweet little Henrik even got to make an appearance a couple of times in the book.  He was so excited to be a knight and wear a knight costume.  He got to run around with his friend Ollie and a fair maiden.  He kept asking when he would get to marry and kiss her.  Should I be worried?

playful8This was one of my favorite outfits for the book, by the Portuguese company Wolf and Rita.  Can they please make it in my size?

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Playful has been getting a lot of great press and was featured twice in Redbook Magazine.

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It was so fun to see my super hero photo booth featured next to the Playful feature.

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In honor of the book release Merrilee is hosting a Playful book launch/signing/craft party. There will be crafts to make with your kids, raffle prizes, swag bags and yummy treats.  Come stop by today the 23rd of October from 6:30-8:30 at the Provo Library and have your book signed and say hi.  I’ll be there with my kids in toe.

If you don’t already have your copy of Playful, you can get it here.

how to make your own camp meta

During the A Midsummer Mingle event each of the hosts created an “experience”, a space that represented us.  I chose to make a mountain retreat.  A place warm and inviting to come and sit and relax, or maybe write some letters.  I wanted to make the space particularly inviting for children.  When I was a child growing up I loved to make cozy spaces and forts.  I still love to make things cozy for small people.

camp-metaIf you didn’t get a chance to visit camp Meta at our event I thought I’d give you a tour of the space I decorated, with some guidelines on how to make your own Camp Meta.  Here are some steps on how to create your own perfect cozy retreat.

camp-meta21.  It’s most important to have children to inspire you for the space,  and who will want to play in it.  My little scraggly bunch love playing and pretending at Camp Meta.

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2.  An ample supply of globes to chart out your next adventure.

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3.  Pictures of family and art to make the space feel like home.   The picture above is my mother when she was little.

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3.  Soft pillows to rest your head on.  How cute is this so brave so strong pillow by Roxy Marj.

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5.  Comfy bedding, and blankets.

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4.  A desk for writing letters, or just drawing pictures of round, stick-like family members.

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5.  A thermos, an owl bank, and a one-eyed clay guy.

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6.  Layered rugs to soften the floor.

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7.  Lighting.

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7.  Black forrest elements.  I love this picture of my husband when he was a boy.

Here is a mood board of what you’ll need to get the look and make your own Camp Meta.

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This post is sponsored by Schoolhouse Electric and Supply Co.