Spring Baskets

When I originally bought these baskets, I thought they were cute and sweet, and oh-so Pottery Barnish at a fraction of the price. Then I spent years trying to store them, wishing I had merely made fabric baskets like our Halloween trick or-treat bags which could be easily folded and packed away.

This year I did finally make new liners for them to replace the old ones. I had something different in mind, but my children liked the spring colors with white polka dots. With cloth liners, there is no need to even consider the horrible plastic grass we had as kids (not that you would anyway).

Reusable baskets, cloth liners, and carefully thought out items to place in them can change a potentially commercialized holiday into a simple one full of memories. We kept that in mind for our Ostara celebrations this year as we continually aim toward voluntary simplicity. Want to simplify your spring baskets? Check out some of these simple ideas:

  • Skip the mass marketed pre-made baskets and go for something you put together yourself. Personal touches make any gift better.
  • While natural baskets may be what we grew up with and can definitely be used year after year, they aren’t your only options. Think outside the box or even in a box.
  • Skip the candy, or at least the majority of it. Who needs that much sugar? Rather than filling the basket full of sugar filled confectionaries (mmmmm….Peeps……), look for more meaningful items to fill the bulk.
  • Consider something spring themed. Share your own childhood with items like bird whistles and hand knitted bunnies that take you back. Choose something that grows with your child and the season. Next year, when we are in our new house, I plan on putting packets of seeds for the kids to grow in their very own garden plots. Some gardening tools would go perfectly with that.
  • Looking for some more filler? Choose something that you would use anyway and needs to be replinished, such as art supplies. Sidewalk chalk is always appreciated by my children this time of year, when winter is over and we are spending more time outside, as are the ever popular bubbles. Try some outdoor supplies such as a compass, magnifying glasses, or something else for your spring explorations.
  • Keep it simple. Kids like it better that way.

Bird Whistles

When I was a kid, we had these little bird shaped whistles to which you added water. When you blew in them, they made a warbling sound. Ours were hard plastic, solid colored, and not the most attractive. When I saw these cute bird shaped water whistles at a local art musuem, I snatched them up for spring. I put them in my children’s Ostara baskets and they could not have been more thrilled.

Spring is Here

Spring Flowers

Photo by Tejvan Pettinger

Tuesday met with the official arrival of spring, a time of new birth, new beginnings, and new possibilities…

Spring has its own smell, one I await all winter long. It is invigorating, promising, and purifying.

Normally, we celebrate Ostara with the arrival of spring. However, since it fell in the middle of the week this year, we opted to wait until this weekend so that my husband could join in the festivities.

We are gearing up for a new beginning of our own. It’s difficult not to be able to plan things definitively, but that offers its own form of growth. Without growth, we lie stagnant. So, this year, I throw my arms wide open, inhale deeply of the promise of spring, and embrace what spring brings with it.

Wooden Eggs from Children’s Art

I love making crafts from my children’s artwork, and we have plenty of artwork around our house from which to gather inspiration. We had three wooden eggs in our stash of art and craft supplies, and I thought that was perfect for my trhee older kids as we prepare for Ostara next weekend. When I proposed the idea, the kids were throughly enthusiastic.

The first step involved pencil and paper. The kids drew various designs that they thought they might like on their eggs. After they were finished, I took various drawings they had made, transferred them to the wooden eggs, and woodburned the pencil marks. For a really polished and professional look, I would have colored them myself. However, I wanted the kids to have their own eggs, so I handed the newly woodbunred eggs back to them to color as they saw fit.

 My eight year old had gone with geometric designs, and I was easily able to incorporate them together. I had imagined his egg with brighter colors, but he chose the subdued colors he prefers (minus his lifelong favorite – orange) and it really does scream him.

My six year old daughter wanted spring ideas, as she said she was ready for spring to be here and winter to be over. I think she accomplished that with her sun drawing. The other side of the egg has a butterfly. I love her simple shape butterflies. Some of her other drawings included eggs with zigzags and stripes, so I transferred those in between her spring drawings. She loved it.

My three-and-a-half had a happy face and a rainbow. He also had a horse that he had his sister help him with. Since I wanted it to be his egg, I declined putting someone else’s drawing on it. I reminded myself of this later as I saw the way he colored his egg – totally different than his carefully constructed rainbow on his paper. He was so pleased with it, though, and it will always remind me of how he was at this age, alternating between sage beyond his years and an impulsive little boy.

March’s Families, Create! challenge was filled with awesome animal-themed posts. From Mo Willems to monkey finger puppets, our writers and crafters kept busy getting creative with the little animals in their lives.

Visit Code Name: Mama and Living Peacefully with Children to find out how you can participate in the next Families, Create! Carnival. Our April theme is “Fantasy” – childhood is a fascinating time, filled with magic around every corner. What can your family imagine and create?

Please take time to read the March submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Lizz at Am I a Funny Girl turns a family outing at the zoo into a picture book to keep.
  • Maman A Droit shares her easy pattern for a felt monkey finger puppet with you!
  • Aunalise at My Sweet Potatoes offers helpful ways for a child to remember calming techniques with a “Calming your Beast” basket.
  • Most of us have monkeys running around our house at times. Or lions. Or elephants. Make your child’s creative animal play even better with stuffed animal tails! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares an easy tutorial.
  • Galit Breen at These Little Waves shares an easy way to get creative with Mo Willems’ “We Are In A Book.”
  • Maman A Droit shares her pattern for a felt bunny finger puppet-a perfect Easter basket filler!
  • Brenna at Almost All The Truth shares a look at butterflies through metaphor, books and a coffee filter craft.
  • Amy at Anktangle shares photographs of crocheting a lovable stuffed turtle for her son to play with.
  • Aunalise at My Sweet Potatoes knows a few ways to bring beneficial birds to the garden.
  • Lauren at Hobo Mama has a fun and easy game to make to stimulate your preschooler’s memory.
  • Aunalise at My Sweet Potatoes is making nature bags or field bags for nature journals and the other things we may need as we explore our planet.

happy ostara…

Happy Ostara (also known as the Spring equinox)! I had all of the items for my children’s Ostara baskets finished long ago, including some handmade playfood and a handmade tea set which will be showing up here in the next couple of weeks. Earlier this week, I came across these wonderful sewn eggs that Kim at Retro-Mama posted about. They reminded me a bit of pysanky eggs, so I had to whip a few (or 15) up this week. They are really easy to make, especially with Kim’s pattern. I used scrap fabric I already had on hand. If I were purchasing fabric for these, I would have chosen different fabrics to play up the mock pysanky effect. I don’t think my children will mind, though.