Making Beautiful Things … And Sometimes Just Average-Looking Ones

Posted by on Jul 10, 2012

Welcome to the July 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Creations

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared crafts, recipes, and philosophies of creativity. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to crafting. Pinterest, of course, is a close second.

I have all sorts of wonderful ideas in my head of things I’d like to make for the girls – costumes, play spaces, toys. I enjoy making lovely things and I know that I can do it well. I love to knit, and sew, and embroider and decoupage. In fact, I originally thought this blog would be a craft blog. As I create handmade gifts for my girls, I eagerly anticipate the look of delight on their faces (which is sometimes closer to dismay, depending on the daughter). Then while they enjoy my gift, I get to snap lots of adorable pictures and post them on my blog or Twitter or Facebook. Sometimes I come up with a especially great idea and then I dream about selling on Etsy or in my store.

I think about all these things while I’m scraping dried oatmeal off the high chair. I don’t really have time to do much beyond dream.

And honestly, if I had the time, I’d still be held back by my obsessive need for perfection. This isn’t new. I wrote about it almost exactly one year ago here. Apparently I have a hard time taking my own advice.

When I think about it, I’d like to spend more time on crafts. It’s important for me and my girls. I’d like them to see me start a project, work on it daily, and finish – it models creativity, contentment, and perseverance for them. (Yeah, I know, you’d all like to see me actually finish something too.) At the same time, I’d like them to see me create things on the fly too – it models resourcefulness and ingenuity.

And sometimes creating things on the go works out great. For example, I’ve been wanting to make the teepee from the book Cool Spaces for Kids for years, but I’ve never had the time. A couple weeks ago I was particularly annoyed with myself for not getting around to it. The sun was out and I wanted the girls to go out back and play. So I improvised. I tied some twine from the fence to our cherry tree and we threw some sheets over top. Then we strung up the fabric bunting we’d made for The Princess’ birthday a couple years ago. It was totally functional. Pretty, even.

Just call me Mama MacGuvyer.

Another example? Last week The Princess wanted bunny ears. My first thought was of course hand-stitched felt ears, possibly with contrasting fabric, sewed on to a band with a velcro closure to guarantee the perfect fit. But my mommy-sense detected that The Princess wasn’t interested in sourcing 100% pure wool felt at the moment – she wanted to dress up like a bunny. So we grabbed some extra scrapbook paper, cut out some ears and a band, and then (ugh) stapled it all together. Done. And she was thrilled.

The ears have been pretty much destroyed now (how long can stapled scrapbook paper really last?), but I almost feel like I should rescue them from under the couch and mount them on my wall like some sort of easter-coloured hunting trophy, forever reminding me that perfection is not required.

It’s a lesson I’m still working on, and a good one to teach the girls. I don’t want my children to feel that a hobby isn’t worth doing because they aren’t skilled enough, and I know that The Princess in particular feels this way sometimes. In the past, we’ve been given craft kits to do together and The Princess has insisted that I do at least half of the project myself so that it’s “right” – meaning, it will look just like the front cover of the box. While fun for a bit, we’ve kind of moved away from these types of activities, instead spending a lot of time with free-form drawing, colouring and sometimes cutting.

For the most part, I’m happier this way. Still, deep down I know that The Princess enjoys crafts too, so I would like to come up with some more crafts that we can do together. Last week I was reading on Amber Strocel’s blog about monthly eco-friendly craft kits sent in the mail and it occurred to me that I could do something similar myself. I could plan a series of crafts for the summer, buy all the supplies in one trip, and then sort them out so that they’re ready to go. It’s like big-batch freezer cooking but with glitter and crazy glue. I’m going to do it, and while I’m at it, I’m going to pick out a summer knitting project to work on too, something mindless that I can do at the park while I watch the girls play.

Who knows? Maybe this blog will become a craft blog after all.

Any suggestions for my family-friendly craft bin? What do your kids enjoy making?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

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

(This list will be updated by afternoon July 10 with all the carnival links.)

  • Garden Soup — Bailey finds a way to help momma Katy (from Muse of a Daffodil) in the garden.
  • This One Time, I Tried To Make a Car — Ashley at Domestic Chaos tries once again to make something crafty from stuff around the house.
  • Pin-tastic creative ideas — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares how Pinterest is inspiring creativity in her family this summer.
  • Baby Hiccups In The Womb — Alinka at Baby Web shares one of the ways she bonds with her unborn baby.
  • Turtle Mosaics — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school and her little family spend a quiet hour making a turtle mosaic inspired by the work of Melanie Mikecz.
  • Edible Art Plus 8 Art Supply Recipes — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares some natural, chemical-free art supply alternatives, which are gauranteed to be tons of fun for children or all ages. They taste great too!
  • A surprise art lesson — Tat at Mum in search has been taking art lessons from her 5-year-old son.
  • Memory Creation — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen talks about how her family aims to create as many memories as they can as a family.
  • A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words — Melissa at Momma Beer tries to replace cars with crafts.
  • My Creative Family: Sometimes Messy, Always Fun — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM embraces the messes that sometimes accompany creative play but admits you don’t always have to get dirty to have fun.
  • Fun Family Learning: Constellation Cave Tutorial — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter gives step-by-step instructions for building a fun new twist on a cardboard box playhouse.
  • Cooking… Kind Of — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings makes pizza with her daughter, hoping to inspire a love of cooking and encourage a bigger interest in food. As well as making mess and having lots of fun, of course!
  • Crockpot Refried BeansThat Mama Gretchen‘s family loves to experiment with new recipes, and today she’s sharing a kitchen success!
  • Creating Memories — Andrea at Tales of Goodness reflects on how the best creations can emerge from just letting kids be kids.
  • Making Beautiful Things … And Sometimes Just Average-Looking Ones — Tamara at Tea for Three looks for ways to add more craft and creativity into every day family life.
  • Making Fruit Leather Together — When Amy Willa at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work took some time to involve her children in the process of finally trying a fruit leather recipe stored on her Pinterest food board, she got more than just a scrumptious homemade snack as a result!
  • Making Glasses from Children’s Art — Mandy at Living Peacefuly with Children used her children’s artwork to make some very special glasses for her husband for Father’s Day.
  • Preparing Family Meals Together — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares how she started the tradition of creating meals together with her children, which makes family gatherings more fun.
  • It’s a trap! — Lauren at Hobo Mama shares the innovative snares her son and husband have set for her.
  • How To Make The Most Of A Very Wet Summer — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shows us the first few weeks of the Summer Camp At Home project for keeping boredom at bay.
  • Creating with… well, what do we have? — If necessity is the mother of invention, Momma Jorje thinks perhaps boredom is (or at least can be) the mother of creativity. In a pinch, she got creative with a household item to entertain herself and her toddler.
  • Creating Joy! Felt Counting Fish and other Fun — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle started creating Felt Counting Fish and then fell down the rabbit hole of fun with a number of other games.
  • I Am Going! (A Code Name: Mama Homemade Theater Production of Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie book) — This might be the finest example of child and baby acting ever recorded. Enjoy this Mo Willems treasure via video from Dionna at Code Name: Mama.
  • DIY Summer Sleep Sack for Baby Tutorial — Shannon at GrowingSlower made an organic summer sleep sack for baby, and you can too with her easy tutorial.
  • Chalk It Up! — Amy at Anktangle recounts how an impulse buy has turned into a fun collaborative activity that she hopes will continue to foster creativity in the whole family.
  • The Family Garden — Excited that her son has been a big help in the garden this year, Ana at Pandamoly shares how her garden grows and offers up some secrets on how a toddler can be a great assistant in the garden.
  • Getting my craft on — Jona at Life, Intertwined takes a trip down memory lane — and finds it in stitches.
  • Easy DIY Sandpit for Toddler Play — Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares her easy DIY toddler sandpit tutorial.
  • Building Without Nails — Laura at Laura’s Blog builds a swinging bar using just sticks and twine.
  • Family Talent Show — Erika at Cinco de Mommy holds an after-dinner family talent show.
  • Ar matey! Fun and Learning with Pirate Play. Positive Parenting Connection is sharing lots of really fun Pirate-themed learning activities for the whole family.



  1. I so needed this reminder. I’ve been reminding myself that, for me, perfection is often the enemy of the good. I really love your MacGyver moments that prove crafting on the fly is the way to go!

  2. Tamara, I’m giggling as I read this. (I think all moms must go through this to some degree. We want so much to be “super-mom”, but we soon realize that no mom has the time to make all of those scratch projects, spend quality time with our kids and sleep too.) I think you’ve nailed it with your bunny ears project. Kids have so much imagination that they don’t need the perfect – just the prop! Thanks for this.

  3. I feel you on needing to curb my inner perfectionist. Another result for me is half-finished projects – things I start, get frustrated with, set aside, and never pick back up. Ugh – I wish I could just finish them in their less-than-perfect state and be proud of my effort.

    • I do this, too! I’m working on getting over the perfectionism block in favor of just getting things done. Especially when it’s kids’ stuff – the kids are thrilled when I make stuff for them, and really, not so picky!

      I love the idea of the craft kits. I just taught my kids to fingerknit this summer – they are almost 6 and were just old enough, I think. Not sure how old your kids are, but there are lots of things that can be done with yarn – we’ve been experimenting with weaving by making little star-shaped frames (glued together popsicle sticks) and then weaving the yarn in and out. My kids also really like to paint, though I’m often hesitant for fear of mess – but with a prepped surface and paints that are not too watery, they do fine and have fun.

      I look forward to hearing more about how the crafting project goes!

  4. Watching my children with their prolific art and craft projects, it really drives home the idea that art is about process rather than product. It’s a reminder to me to shuck some of that perfectionism and enjoy the ride.

    • Janelle – Thank you , thank you, thank you! The sneak peeks are adorable you rellay captured some great moments. I can’t wait to see the rest!

    • 7WXZ14 bywdavmeltqy

  5. Oooo, I sure hope you blog about your craft kits! That sounds so fun! I think a summer nature collage would be fun as well as some garden veggie paint prints.

    This also stuck out to me: forever reminding me that perfection is not required.


  6. Aside from using my knitting needles as playthings (I don’t know HOW they keep getting them!!!!!) my kiddos also love painting, coloring, stickers, and cooking with me. Abbey is a big helper at nearly four, and Joseph at 1 and a half just likes to get messy! Another craft that I think I’ll do soon with them is making our own play dough.

    I love the image of you thinking about all the lovely things you want to create for your kids, “while you’re scraping oatmeal off the high chair.”

    I’m so right there with you!


  1. Getting My Craft On | Natural Parents Network - [...] Making Beautiful Things … And Sometimes Just Average-Looking Ones — Tamara at Tea for Three looks for ways to …
  2. Preparing Family Meals Together | - [...] Making Beautiful Things … And Sometimes Just Average-Looking Ones — Tamara at Tea for Three looks for ways to …
  3. A surprise art lesson | Mum in search - [...] Making Beautiful Things … And Sometimes Just Average-Looking Ones — Tamara at Tea for Three looks for ways to …
  4. Creating Joy! Felt Counting Fish and Other Fun - Child of the Nature Isle - [...] Making Beautiful Things … And Sometimes Just Average-Looking Ones — Tamara at Tea for Three looks for ways to …
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