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The Charm of a Hot Air Balloon

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Through my closed bedroom curtains, I could tell even before getting out of bed that today was going to be a beautiful day. The light that was diffusing into the room was warm, and when I finally opened the curtains, I was greeted with a beautiful view of our backyard.

Penelope and Oliver were already up, quietly talking to each other in their room. They are respectful to our sleep in the morning, which I think is such a kind gesture. Somehow, they know a week day from the weekend, and have a natural politeness for slow mornings on the weekend. Perhaps part of that is them, but perhaps also something we have instilled in them from the time they were born.

As we were all having breakfast, Oliver shouted “Hot Air Balloon!!” and when we looked outside our window, there it was; a hot air balloon flying over our backyard.

For a hot air balloon to fly, the weather has to be almost perfect. Light wind, clear skies, warm enough. You would think that those three factors are easy to come by in combination, but I’m sure that anyone who flies hot air balloons would disagree. It was a good luck charm to our day.

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Later in the morning, we visited our favorite river valley spot, and for hours, the kids threw rocks and sticks into the river, filling the air with the sounds of their laughter.

I promised myself that I wouldn’t nap when we got home. I always feel more tired after a midday nap, but alas, I sat down on the couch when they kids were napping and fell asleep. Go figure. Today though, I woke up from the nap full of energy for the rest of the day.

Oliver and I went spent the afternoon in the backyard, and I love that it’s becoming something we have naturally started to do together. Watching him, I can see he has a natural affinity for plants. For a 2.5 year old, he is a wonderful gardener. He is serious about his work, and takes pride in watering the plants, making sure to visit each one at least twice.

Our yard is already blooming so wonderfully this season, and I know it’s because of him.

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And so today was a perfect day, so perfect that a hot air balloon flew over our backyard.

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Super Easy Kid Friendly DIY Lanterns [making our own winter festivals]

You know that scene from the movie Tangled, where Rapunzel and Ryder sit on a boat and watch lanterns in the sky? Yeah, that is my dream.

There is just something magical about lanterns, and so yesterday afternoon, we made lanterns to have our own little winter festival in our backyard.

Using materials that we had around the house; recycling bags as aprons, cupcake cups as paint holders, and recycled glass jars as our lantern, we improvised to make something beautiful. My favorite kind of craft.

Materials:

 – Glass Jars (empty jam/pickle/tomato sauce jars)

–  Acrylic paint and brushes

– Tea Light Candles

– Pipe Cleaners

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It’s mesmerizing to watch them craft. Both so different in their approach.

Penelope is very focused; careful about where her colors are, and covers large areas before she switches colors to paint again.

My sweet Oliver is more playful. Sometimes painting the glass, sometimes painting his hand, and just happy to be experiencing the activity.

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They covered the surface of the glass, and once it dried, I secure some pipe cleaners around the mouth of the jar to create a handle.

While they sang happy birthday (which they do every time they see a candle lately haha) I added a tea light candle into the jars. And Voila! Beautiful lanterns!

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More winter theme DIYs below:

DIY Mini Pine Branch Wreaths [Creating Tangible Memories ]

DIY Easy Paper Snowflakes [Holiday Decor Inspiration]

DIY Lanterns

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From a First Time Mum… [Stories of Motherhood and Culture – Guest Blog]

I am a 29-year old Indian woman, born and raised in Africa, and 38 weeks pregnant with my first child.

When I found out that I was pregnant, I was ecstatic. I have been lucky enough to not have experienced many of the pregnancy woes such as morning sickness, swelling, lower back pain etc. I went the gym 3 times a week, traveled and continue to remain pretty active.

Physically I was acing this pregnancy – emotionally not so much.

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Pregnancy is a trying time for any woman – no matter how smooth your pregnancy is going. Your body is changing in so many ways to accommodate the little miracle you are growing, and you are never more vulnerable. As a first-time mum you are already questioning yourself a hundred times – which is especially why it is not helpful when those around you begin to question you as well.

There are no fixed guidelines on pregnancy and how to raise your child. Every pregnancy is different and every child is different, and listening to your instincts becomes crucial. I do believe that sharing pregnancy experiences can be beneficial. It wasn’t until I fell pregnant that I realized there was so much I had no clue about regardless of how well read I thought I was. I am constantly asking my mum friends hundreds of questions when I am unsure. Getting advice from others can be valuable –when it’s offered in a respectful way, and when no offense is taken if the advice is not taken.

My pregnancy has been an emotional roller coaster. From the day we revealed that I was pregnant, I felt like it opened the flood gates for everyone and anyone to give me their two cents on how I needed to act and be during my pregnancy. My constant anxiety stems from having to navigate everyone else’s feelings and sense of entitlement instead of concentrating on what I need to do for myself.

I am no longer that independent, responsible, and capable 29-year-old. I have never experienced such a torrent of unsolicited advice. When I posed the question “is it worse when it comes from family or is it worse when it comes from strangers?” to a group of mum friends, one very rightly responded “family should know better and strangers have no right”.

Over the past few months my husband and I have had countless arguments about my ability to stand up for myself and put my needs first. I feel it is just as important for your support system to cultivate an environment that allows you to do so. I tried to ensure that everyone received what they needed from me to feel like they were a part of this pregnancy, rather than what I needed from them. What does my husband need from me? What do my parents need from me? What do my in-laws need from me? They needed constant updates and communication; they needed to feel needed by me; they needed me to fulfill their expectations during this pregnancy (e.g. prayers, eat what they make etc.); they needed to be involved in all the decision making. When these expectations were not met, they felt offended and hurt. As an independent and private person, I struggle with this and the times I have prioritized myself, I feel it only created more friction.  It made me want to distance myself and not reach out for help because I didn’t want to give anyone the sense of entitlement that seems to accompany it.

Currently, a lot of my energy is spent on thinking about who I am going to offend with the decisions I make and play the situations out in my head before they even happen so I can try to come up with ways to curb them. Ridiculous? Indeed.

Culture plays an important role here. As a woman, as a daughter, and as a daughter-in-law, there are different expectations of me. I feel as though I am expected to adhere to all the advice that is given to me, and when I have expressed my disagreement or questioned the logic behind it, I am being careless and disobedient. All the responsibility is usually placed on mothers; a father’s responsibility traditionally begins after the birth of the baby and is usually in the form of financial contributions. As a result of this framing, the impactful contributions men can have during pregnancy are greatly overlooked. They can provide emotional support to their spouses by being their voice when they are not heard, and by standing up for their needs when they are not being met.

The reality is that my husband can get away with saying and doing things that I can’t, and I unashamedly use him to get my way, not just during this pregnancy, but throughout our marriage.

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Some of the ways that we were able to deal with these expectations was by starting a dialogue early on about how we, as a couple, would handle it. I am lucky that my husband believes that I should have the final say on all decisions when it comes to the baby, and he will help ensure that my wishes are not compromised due to pressure from others. Our understanding is that if there was something he does not agree with, that we would discuss it in private and hold a united front in public. This is easier said than done of course, but setting that boundary as a couple was a very important first step.

This sounds like the ideal scenario but it has also put a lot of pressure on me because I didn’t always know what I needed – I have never been pregnant before. Often times I was the reason my husband couldn’t help me, because accommodating others was so much easier than accommodating my own needs. I was more concerned about how he would handle it, about how his bluntness might upset others – this unjustly put him in a precarious position. Slowly, I am also learning to be more vocal about what I need and letting him handle the rest.

What has been difficult for me to understand is that these cultural expectations are perpetuated by women across generations; women who have been through similar experiences themselves – if not worse.

Women who did not have much say in how their kids should be raised because of a lot of familial interference. Many that I know have had to fight harder battles than the ones I am fighting. I always thought they would be my biggest supporters, but they have ended up being my strongest critics. I guess in a way I felt a little betrayed by this. Have they rationalized these experiences as a necessary and natural progression, and so believe it should be continued? Whatever the reasons, I don’t think it is a justification and this perpetual cycle needs to end – for some it may have already ended, some may be the generation to end it, and unfortunately for some, this may still continue for some generations to come.

Sometimes advice intended to be helpful can instead be detrimental. I believe the best way to support someone is to respect their space, their choices and their boundaries – let new mothers trust their instincts when it comes to their bodies and their babies and create an environment which allows them to reach out when they need help.

“In a world where you can be anything – Be Kind.”

Dhrutika became a mother to a beautiful little boy on November 7th 2018, born on Diwali Day.

“The light at the threshold of the home of the night of Diwali is there to remind us that our awakening to the light of God in our hearts is incomplete if it does not radiate from within us to the darkness of the world outside”.

She named her son Ayaan, translating to ray of the rising sun in Hindu.

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DIY Backyard Bouquets [ simple and beautiful kids activity]

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It’s been raining a lot the past couple of weeks, and you can tell the plants are happy for it.

Every year around this time, our backyard flowers begin to bloom, and making backyard bouquets is something I have fallen in love with. I am so grateful for the previous owners of our home – a couple who you could tell loved their yard – who laid down such a great foundation for our little backyard oasis.

As a lover of the simple things, making backyard bouquets is something that makes me so happy, and the kids have learnt to love it too.

Materials:

  • Pruners
  • Glass Jar – I collect old jam/pickle/tomato jars for this exact reason 🙂
  • Water
  • Plants from your backyard, or area near your house like a field/park.
    *Make sure you’re allowed to prune plants from public areas before you do*

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Wearing their diapers and underwear, the perfect attire for a summer night in the backyard, we spend about 10 minutes creating our little piece of nature art.

I prune the flowers, and cut as many leaves from the stems as possible. If the leaves get stuck to each other when they are trying to put the flowers in the jar, the activity quickly becomes very frustrating for them and it will be over very soon – I’ve done it before haha.

Watching the process is wonderful.

Penelope is very proud of her arrangements, and in a very endearing way, is almost too protective of “her” project, which sometimes leads to her not wanting Oliver to even come close to her flowers. I love her sense of ownership in her craft though.

My Oliver is happy to watch and learn, and slowly learns to be gentle with the flowers as he caresses them while simultaneously saying “niiiiiceeee, niiiicceee”. He follows me and pretends to prune branches that he can reach, and whenever he gets close, tries to steal the pruners from me, ha.

If you don’t have flowers in your backyard, pruning different types of green leaf branches can create a wonderful bouquet. We are lucky to live in Alberta where there are so many different types plants; a quick walk around your neighborhood let’s you see so many different shapes, textures and shades of green. A “green” bouquet can be just as colorful and beautiful.

The most beautiful part of these bouquets is, of course, seeing Penelope and Oliver continue to love and find wonder in doing the simplest of things.

And at the end, a beautiful bouquet to keep brightening our days.

xo

Gabriela

Similar nature inspired DIYS:

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The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round [An underlying message of Perseverance]

The wheels on the bus go round and round. A song that as a parent of young children, I know well – and listen to way too often, ha!

Lately though, I am happy for that song.

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This is my third week back at work after being a stay at home mom for 2.5 years, and it’s been a harder transition than I imagined. Much harder than I thought. I miss the kids so much more than I ever imagined and I often find myself questioning if this was the right choice. Was this the right time? Is this what I want? There are things happening in the background that I am hesitant to share, in case I jinx it, but hoping for a better balance soon *sending the universe all the positive energy*.

Until then…

The weekends have become my fuel for the week. I cherish every second I have with the kids in the week day mornings and evenings, but the weekends are my heaven. I immerse myself back into what once was our everydays, and we pick up right where we left of. I lay in bed with them a little longer, I look at my phone less, I listen to the new things they tell me, the new words Penelope learns, the new sounds Oliver is able to make, and I make sure that I try reeeeaally really hard not to miss a thing.

The kids are doing well. They are happy to visit with Grandma everyday (thank goodness for my mom being able to watch them- makes the transition a million times easier). They are also making new friends, and I hear Penelope talk about her favorite when she comes home, which makes me smile.

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For my first weekend after going back to work, we decided to spend a day out, differently. We bundled up, left our car keys at home, and explored the city for a whole day on the bus. Sounds like a very simple thing to do, but it was so much fun.

Whether you take the bus often or not, there is something about taking the bus when there is no pressure of making it from point A to B on time that makes the ride so enjoyable. My husband and I could cuddle and hold hands while we heard the children’s laughter, watched how they made other people on the bus smile, and witnessed the joy on their faces for simply doing something new.

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My favorite moments of the day were the transitions. The moments of dancing and entertaining the kids while we waited for our next transfer. The walks from the bus stop to our many destinations that day. The moment Oliver fell asleep nursing, and the moment Penelope slept on my lap on the way back home.

It’s beautifully ironic that it was the transitions – of all things- what I loved most about that day, yet I can’t wait to pass the life transition I am in right now. I have to find beauty in that irony.

And so I go back to the song, the wheels on the bus go round and round.

The wheels on the bus go round and round, and they do. But I like to think I have found an underlying message of perseverance in that song. In a metaphorical sense, with my return to work, the wheels of my life are going round and round, and I’m going to be making stops along the way, making transfers, trying to find the best way to go through this transition in my life, and I will persevere because well…  the wheels go round and round, and so will I.

 

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A Season of Change [after 2.5 years as a Stay-at-Home Mom…]

If I’m completely honest, as I’m writing this, I feel that lump in my throat, and I fight back tears brought on by a melting pot of emotions. I am happy. I am sad. I am nervous. I am scared. I am ready. I am unprepared. I’m basically the definition of a juxtaposition mess, ha!

But I am just that. I’m a little bit of a mess.

Going back to work after my Oliver turned one has always been the “plan”. It’s been the plan my husband and I discussed while taking a walk on a chilly spring evening 2.5 years ago. I was 9 months pregnant, we were going to become parents in a few days, and we decided that I would stay at home with the children for a few years. My husband knew it was important to me, and we made it happen.

It has been amazing. No! It’s been life changing. I fell in love with motherhood, with my children, and I found so much of myself in my new identity as a mother. I grew and learned with my children, and I am beyond grateful for that time. And though I knew I would go back to work eventually, like we had planned, I am still fighting that lump in my throat, because I’m sad.

With little preparation, and with shorter notice that I expected, an opportunity came up for me to return to work, and as I write this, I officially begin my countdown from being a stay-at-home Mom to being a working Mother. My countdown doesn’t begin with double digits. Seven days. In SEVEN days, I return to work full time.

It’s a weird concept to think about, and I’m sad for the era that is ending.

I am also happy, so happy and grateful for the past 2.5 years. I have been able to watch my little babies grow up. I’ve watched them grow in love with each other, with me, with my husband. We’ve had lazy mornings, and breakfast for lunch. We’ve gone for walks at random times of the days, watched movies before nap time. We’ve had pool parties in the backyard, and thought very little about time, because well, we had time… a lot of it.

Time, definitely worth more than gold. With limited time now, we will just have to be more intentional with how we spend it, and though I know my little family will find a new harmony soon, I already miss the time I won’t have with them.

Motherhood. Just when you think you’ve found a groove and it’s all figured out, something changes and you have to adjust and find that new harmony to make it all work again. If you’re a mother who has gone back to work after “x” amount of time at home, I’m sure you can relate. In fact, knowing you and thousands of women have gone through the same, gives me strength. It makes me admire women and mothers more and more.

And so this new era begins, and though I still feel that lump in my throat, I am more excited and hopeful for what this new season in life brings. I am sure I will be jumping through emotions in the next couple of days, but I am allowing myself to feel them all, but most of all, I am allowing myself to enjoy my babies for the next couple of days, with no other obligations or responsibilities other than them.

To a new era, xo.

Related Post: How to Have a Happy Stay-at-Home Motherhood

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Our Christmas Tree Ornaments [Part 1] DIY Macrame Inspired Star Ornaments




OUR EVERYDAYS BLOG Macrame Inspired DIY Christmas Ornaments
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DIY Christmas Decor Nature Inspired Mommy Blogger (12)

It’s the first of December, and we’re officially in the Christmas month. I normally wouldn’t consider myself a Christmaholic, but this year I was inspired by the children to decorate our home in a different and special way.



Over the past year, the kids and I have gone on so many walks, and they have collected and brought home all sorts of treasures. I’ve been collecting their little findings – sticks, branches, berries- hoping to get an idea of what I could do with them. With Christmas just around the corner, making them into ornaments seemed like the perfect idea.

Inspired by that, I began to play around with materials, and I’ll be sharing what we did to decorate our Christmas tree completely with DIY ornaments. We made them with materials found in nature, or ones that are easy and inexpensive to get.

The theme of our tree this year is very “Back to Basics”, rustic chic, and if that’s your style, you’re really enjoy these.

I love the way the tree turned out. It’s cozy, homey, and it reminds me of the kind of tree I would have had in my childhood too.

DPEF4844

Macrame Stars
To make these macrame stars you’ll need stir sticks, string, scissors and a hot glue gun.

  • Cut 5 stir sticks to approximately 2.5/3″, and then cut 5 pieces of string that are 10 times the length of the stick.
  • Fold the string in half, placing the stick towards the fold, and begin knotting a spiral knot around the stick. How to do a spiral knot here. Consider the stick your middle cord, and the two strands your working cords. Continue your spiral knot until it covers the stick, tie off, and cut off excess at the bottom.

How to start the knot.

 

Hot to end a knot.

 

  • Once you have 5 spiral knot sticks, secure them together using a hot glue gun. Below the order in which I glued the sticks to achieve a nice and even star shape.
    IMG_7952
  • Make a small string loop  (I used some jute string for contrast in color) and glue to the back of the star for hanging, and you’re done!

The end result are delicate and beautiful little stars to decorate your tree with! I hope you enjoyed this little DIY! If you try them, tag me at @our_everydays on instagram so I can see what you came up with!

More Christmas Inspired Ornaments

Paper Snowflakes * Mini Wreaths * Nature Ornament * Mini Pine Tree

DIY Christmas Ornaments Nature Macrame Inspired (22)

DIY Christmas Ornaments Nature Macrame Inspired (26)

DPEF4844

 

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To my Oliver [First Birthday]

First Birthday Oliver Turns One Mommy Blog (2)
I am ONE

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Things I want to remember…

My sweet little Oliver, you turned one years old this weekend. One year since I held you on my chest for the firs time,  one year since I fell in love with you.

To you, it was just another day, but you were so happy to have the people you love most all together to celebrate you. Like always when around crowds, you were shy at first, not leaving mommy’s lap, but then you were going from arm to arm, playing with your little friends and having a wonderful time.

You weren’t messy eating your cake, barely getting any of it around your mouth, which I kind of wish you had haha. When your nap time came, you went down easily, but had the biggest smile on your face when you woke up to guests still here.

Of all the things you got on your birthday, you enjoyed the balloons the most. You walked around with them, shook them, and laughed at them.

My sweet boy, how proud I am of the little person you are and are becoming. You are kind, you are loving, and you are loyal. You always reciprocate double the love that you receive, and the warmth in your hugs and kisses are something I hold so so dear.

You are mama’s boy, which I adore, but you love your Daddy and sister so much. Your sister is your teacher and your friend, and watching you two grow up together has been my biggest gift.

Of all the things I love most about you right now, are when you are on one side of the room, get up and walk towards me with your sort of still wobbly walk, and give me the biggest hugs and drooly kisses. Wouldn’t change it for the world <3

Happy first birthday my love <3

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DIY Easy Paper Snowflakes [Holiday Decor Inspiration]




One of my favorite scenes from the movie “Elf” with Will Ferrell, is the scene where he completely “Christmafies” the store before Santa comes. It’s such a magical scene, and I’ve always wanted to recreate something similar. I love the winter wonderland feel of the decor, but most of all, I love that to recreate the look, all you need is paper and scissors! The simplicity factor totally speaks to me, and I decided to give it a go.

My interpretation was to create a winter wonderland chandelier, and I am so happy with how it turned out. It didn’t take very long to make, the materials are something we all have in our home, and the end result is so beautiful and delicate. I hung the stars on the light above my dining room table, but you could tape them right onto a window glass, windowsills, mantels, ceiling; the options are limitless, and since they are so light, you don’t need much other than tape to secure them to a surface.

DIY Paper Snowflake Chandelier (2) Winter Wonerland
DIY Paper Snowflake Chandelier Winter Wonderland

There are two types of paper snow flakes you can make, 2 or 3 dimensional, and they are both so easy to make. Pictures and steps of both below. You’ll need paper, scissors, and glue.

More Nature Inspired Christmas DIYs

Mini Wreaths * Macrame Starts * Nature Ornament * Mini Pine Ornament

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2D Paper Snowflake

Fold a square sheet by joining diagonal corners together, and do this step twice. Then, imagine folding that triangle shape into 3 equal parts, and cut off the excess. Start to cut shapes out of the sides of the folded triangle shape. There are certain cutting patterns you can find online to achieve certain snowflake shapes, but honestly, even if you cut the most random patterns, you’ll get a beautiful result. Once cut, unfold slowly, and iron flat between two sheets of paper (if needed). Voila!

3D  Paper Snowflake

Fold a square sheet of paper by joining diagonal corners. Do 3  cuts parallel to each side, but leave a space towards the top. Open folded sheet, fold over cut corners and glue together. Fold them facing opposite directions every time, and you’ll end up with an icecyle shape. Glue 5 of those together, and you’ll have a beautiful 3D paper snowflake.

I absolutely love how this turned out, and hope you found some inspiration here.

Thanks for reading. xo

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DIY Mini Pine Branch Wreaths [Creating Tangible Memories ]

CHRISTMAS DIY WREATH OUR EVERYDAYS BLOG

The best kind of memories, I think, are the ones you remember when you hear a song, when you smell a certain smell, or from the sensation on your fingers as you run them through an embroidery a loved one made for you. Tangible memories.

During the holiday season, a time when tangible is a very common theme, especially with gift giving, the idea of creating tangible memories stuck with me. Finding a way to make tangible something that my children associate to an experience or memory, rather than a gift.

With this craft, I hope I am creating moments with my children that they will remember whenever they touch or see a pine branch.

Materials

  • Pine Branches that we foraged during our walks
  • Flour and Glitter
  • Glue
  • Ribbon
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The older Penelope gets, the more impressed I am by how well she is able to do crafts. On her own, she poured some flour and glitter onto a baking pan and mixed it. She was taking her craft very seriously, it was so endearing to watch. In the meantime, I cut a few pine branches and coated them with a thin layer of glue. She then pressed them against the flour mix and the result was quite beautiful. The flour mix creates a beautiful simulation of snow that looked quite magical. Once the glue dried, I grouped the branches into similar size lengths and by overlapping them, created the shape of a wreath. I secured the branches to one another using a hot glue gun, and mixed the greens with, and without the flour mix coat, together.

Once completed, I ran some ribbon through them, and they were ready to hang as decor for the holidays.

Mini Pine Branch Christmas Wreaths DIY Craft (11)
Mini Pine Branch Christmas Wreaths DIY Craft (10)
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A fun and easy activity to do with the kids, and they turned out so beautiful!