Thursday, October 18, 2012

2012 Election Resources for Kids

This is somewhat of a mommy post. But if you don't follow politics closely, like myself, then it can be pretty handy for adults, too. :)

Recently, my son came home saying that he is "So voting for Romney." And, "Romney crushed Obama last night," even though he didn't know the debate was on TV.

To be perfectly clear - my son had no idea who Romney was before going to school that day. He was parroting his classmates. Every child in his class is adamant that they are voting for Romney. I found this humorous and disturbing at the same time. Not for his choice, I respect everyone's rights.

But my son was {although not yet voting age, he's 8!} informing me that his vote was purely to fit in with the majority. I asked him what Romney stood for, and he asked me if it was an acronym. Aaaah!

I realized that I couldn't just talk the talk. And if I was going to walk the walk, he was taking this stroll with me. If he is ready to vote without knowing the issues, I figured this provided a very teachable moment.

So, off I went on a wild goose chase on Google to find the right information for my child in terms he could understand - and information displayed in ways to not bore him to pieces.

And just in case you feel like you want to force this family fun on your own children, here is what I have discovered as decent resources for kids on the 2012 Presidential Election.

One of the first resources I found was from They offer biographies on each candidate as well as a section called "Where Obama and Romney Stand on the Issues". Each issue is displayed separately. Good information is provided, but there are a lot of distractions on the website. So I printed the pages with the issues and I am going to cut and glue them onto construction paper for my son to read. Less distraction means more absorbing the information. has a very comprehensive program running called Kids Pick the President. There are lots of factual information, but if your child needs media to learn - this is your winner. Just purely because they will watch it and hopefully not tune out. They keep it paced at a rate to not lose kids. Most likely the best visual example to share with your kids is a 22 minute video on The Issues

For printable material, I really liked this free downloadable packet Elections A to Z Unit Study from :
It contains 14 pages including Crossword Puzzle and Election Word Search that would challenge older elementary school kids. Don't worry, moms, it also includes the answer keys. :)

The Election Trivia for Kids from has 11 questions {and 1 bonus question} with answers on election trivia. This could be interesting test to see my son's before and after knowledge of this election.

The poster How to Become President of the United States above is from
Again, another great visual for children, this time depicting what it takes to become the president. has a countdown until the election, maps, interactive games, etc. There are a lot of polls, but I didn't find much information describing the issues. Still, it is a good resource for kids.

I don't want our learning about the election to be all work and no play. This free printable packet from is ah-may-zing! It just makes the election seem fun and far less boring! :)

My daughter will enjoy the stickers in the printable packet {who doesn't love stickers?} - but she won't have a clue what it's all about. So, we will read an old favorite of my son's, Duck for President by Betsy Lewin. I think it's pretty entertaining, even for a 3 years old. 

That wraps up my list of resources. Please let me know if you find any useful or if you have more you think I missed! Are you excited for the elections? Or dreading them? How about your kids?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Antique Cameo Brooch

Bear with me for the first half of this post. I get to my antique/vintage finds eventually. :)

For our 10th anniversary, my husband had wanted to take me downtown Chicago to visit antique stores. But then he thought maybe a day trip to Galena was a better idea. You can sit in a car for hours driving in and out of the city, but the view is pretty depressing. The drive to Galena is stunning.

The further from Chicago and closer to Galena, it feels like you have entered New England. Rolling hills, forests and patchwork farmlands. Not CORN. 

With the exception of downtown Chicago, a drive in Illinois is primarily corn fields. And recently, there is a fun addition of soybeans and the occasional alternative energy windmill fields.

There are many attractions in Galena, but we were headed to the Main Street shops and restaurants. Once upon a time, it was known for fabulous antiques and oddities. And for some, that could still be the case, but in my opinion I found many shops to be overpriced due to the location's popularity.

There were some rare gems, however. One of my diamonds in the rough was All That's Vintage. I loved the fun collections of retro and vintage items. Such cute finds! Peace of the Past Books & Antiques had rooms filled with books, vintage collectibles and clever displays hanging from the ceilings.

We ate lunch at Vinny Vanucchi's Italian Restaurant. It was one of few restaurants open on a Friday afternoon - apparently, all the dining establishments start opening around 4pm on Fridays. Luckily, it was delicious and just what we had in mind. Even better than the food, however, was the vintage black and white photos all over the restaurant. I could have spent more time soaking them in - they had such character in each photo. Outside the Ladies room and inside, there were fabulous photos of sassy women, possibly from the flapper era. Here is a sample photo from their website - I believe this is to be of Vinny, himself.
After lunch we browsed only a few more shops before needing to head home.

The last shop of the day was such a great way to end our trip. I picked up a few special treasures. Unfortunately, when I went to look up the name of the store, it looked like the shop was closed and the building it was in is for sale. I am not sure if they are just moving locations or have gone out of business.

They had a great selection of vintage and antique jewelry. And lots of collectible pottery and glassware.

This blue glass bottle with porcelain stopper was hiding in a corner. I thought it was a perfect addition to my collection.

I also picked up a bag of vintage glass ball ornaments. I loved their different sizes and colors. And of course their patina. I tried to get a closeup, but all you saw was my reflection taking a photo! Ah! :)

While I was browsing, my husband surprised me by getting me this cameo brooch as an anniversary present. {Sneaky mister!}

I love it! Now, I don't know much about antique cameos brooches, but I know that this one is bordered in seed pearls and has a diamond pennant. The diamond adornment classifies it as a habille cameo, which research says was introduced in the late 19th century.

I haven't taken it in to be appraised, but I would love to know what the age is for this piece. It is so intricate, I cannot imagine the hours spent carving the fine details. I heightened the contrast a bit on this photo to really show the details. The background is not actually this dark.

I think he did amazingly well for his first time shopping antiques. :)

I actually have a funny story about our trip. On the way to Galena, we passed what looked a bit like a junkyard / antique store. We stopped in because I saw some retro garden chairs and some primitive farm equipment.

After a few moments I realized it t was like something out of Beverly Hillbillies, except way creepier. At least Beverly Hillbillies was campy.

Please know, that I grew up in the farmfields. I am not new to lack of money or 10 people living in houses with 3 add-ons.

Honestly, they had some treasures, but they were living within the goods they were selling. And I do not mean, a quaint boutique where the owner lives upstairs. Those, I adore.

I mean, there were vintage, collectible beer cans and glassware in the kitchen, where they were making lunch on the stove - this was considered the front of the store. They had 2 large dogs that kept slobbering on my husband and my pants and hands as we hurriedly browsed, even though we wanted to run for the car.

There were plates with leftover food on top of, if I remember correctly, an antique casino table. The whole place was covered in inches of dust and possibly kitchen grease. A man (Pa, and no - I am not kidding. I think the woman called him Pa) was grumbling and smoking a cigar in a back room watching TV.

The entire house/store gave me a feeling from the movie Deliverance. I'm pretty sure I could hear banjos playing in the background.

We spent a bit of time looking through the goods/junk so as not to be impolite. You know, just in case they were thinking about eating us for dinner. Then we high-tailed it to the car.

Why is this a funny story, you may ask? Well, come to find out, this is the first "antique" store my husband has ever been inside. So, he was assuming that they were all like that one. He must have been preparing himself for one fun-filled and truly disgusting day! Can you imagine?

That's honestly the kind of places he thinks I spend my time away from home while looking for my vintage fix! BaHaHa!

Luckily, the charming town of Galena was able to redeem the image of real antique/vintage shops for my poor unsuspecting hubby. Thank you, Galena :)

All images of Galena, Illinois with links to original sources can be found here.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

My Favorite Finds: Garage Sales

Along with several Hot Wheels and random trinkets my kids picked up over the summer, I found a great variety of treasures at garage / yard sales this summer.

I picked up lots of vintage dictionaries this summer. Including My First Picture Dictionary above. It is filled with illustrations that are so charming. Some of the pages are loose from the binding, so I may use them to decorate the kids' playroom.

This massive, unabridged Webster's dictionary published in 1950 was a huge hit with my son.

Yes, I am aware that this is not completely normal. :)

But look at this baby - can you blame him?

It is in very good shape for it's age. 

No missing pages, as far as I can tell. 

But it has 2006 pages of definitions alone, that doesn't include all the amazing book plates and over three hundred pages in the appendix.

 The illustrations of all the states and continents is really cool. They would look great framed, but I don't want to tear this guy apart for the sake of wall art. Only if it was falling apart on its own.

This heavily painted ladder was bought for $1.00 at the garage sale of an elderly man (90+ years). He was a carpenter and built this himself. He had all sorts of fabulous treasures. The ladder has at least 3 more colors of paint under this green. 

These drawers (presumably from a sewing machine?) were used in his workshop out back to store hardware and odds and ends. I couldn't pass them up. I think these would look great cleaned up and painted.

I found more drawers from his workshop with makeshift dividers. I actually got all 6 - each one has at least one divider added. These are much bulkier than the petite drawers above. I love their paint color as it is, a sort of blue-green grey.

This sweet reindeer was found with 4 others. It is about 30" tall. The others each have wooden stakes attached. The gentleman cut them out himself and his wife painted them. When he saw that I wanted the lot, he went to the back of his workshop and dug out his pattern - the original cut out piece of wood - and gave it all to me for free. {Not that I didn't try to pay him.} 

The turquoise Smith-Corona with case shown at the top of this post and here was found under a coffee table on the last day of a sale. It was closed up and I don't think anyone had noticed it was there. I got it for a steal! It's in great shape and the ribbon still works.

This mini bundt pan had a great patina. I got it for 50 cents. I plan on using it to store bits and pieces in my craft room. I don't think I want to scrape off all it's character, so I will probably line it with paper cups or doilies.

My keyplates from in this previous post were all found at one garage sale. I was picking and choosing which ones I wanted to pay for when the man said he'd make me a deal if I took them all. Um, OK! :)

One of my absolute favorite finds of the summer was the Replogle Globe. I found this one at the same garage sale as the ladder. The coloring is in a gorgeous pale palette. I used it in my Back to School vignette. It is currently on top of my bookcases in the family room for all to see. 

This post is getting pretty long - I may have too many favorites. I think I'll split them up into 2 posts.

Until then... tell me

Do you like shopping at garage sales? Admittedly, many are more gar(B)age sales than hidden treasures. But every now and then, finding the diamond in the rough is so fun! 

What's your favorite garage/yard sale find? I'd love to know!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Vintage Candy Wrappers

Has anyone else seen these vintage inspired candy wrappers in stores yet? I think they are so adorable!

I found these chocolate bars at Home Goods. I think I will cut the labels down and use them for Halloween decorations.

Just had to share!

Happy Wednesday!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Little Witch

I am struggling this year for Halloween costumes for my children. My son is not your typical 8 year old boy. He doesn't want Star Wars or a ninja or a bleeding, creepy ghoul. It's tough to help steer him to something he likes, but won't get him teased mercilessly by peers. As for my daughter, she would be easy, except she changes her mind 40 times a day. First Shrek, then Snow White, then a monster...
I will help her find whatever she wants, once she can make up her mind.

Until then, I wanted to make a little headband for her. I have seen them around, and they are so cute. But many are really ornate. And that just ain't my baby girl. She is more than a tomboy - she tells me that when she turns 8 {like her brother} she will be a boy.

Now, I was fully aware that she might put this headband on for a brief 3 seconds and then hurtle it across the room laughing. But, try I must. Don't as me why. I am apparently a glutton for punishment.

I am also completely aware that the dog will probably end up wearing it more than anyone else, to her dismay - the dog's, not my daughter's - that would be to her sheer delight! Squeals included.

And yet... I still made this cutie pie a little witch hat headband. It is super easy and easily embellished any way you like.

I bought a 4 pack of the soft fabric covered headbands at the dollar store. I chose to use the black one for this project. I had everything else on hand. So, this whole brainstorm cost me a quarter!

I used a roll of masking tape to trace a circle onto the black felt. {Tip: I would recommend using the stiffened felt you can purchase at craft stores. I didn't have any on hand, so I made due. I suppose you could also use a spray fabric stiffener, too - but again, not on hand here.}

I then found a template online for a mini party hat. I printed it out to what I thought I wanted the height to be. I cut out the template from the paper and pinned it to some black felt. Then I cut it out following the template.

Next, I was realizing who I was making this for, and decided to sew the cone part of the hat together. You could also hot glue or use some other bonding agent for that part. 

Then I again, thought about who would be wearing this, albeit for 30 seconds, and I decided to cut the template out again onto thin cardboard to support the cone shape under the felt. 

I glued the cardboard party hat inside the felt with Quick Dry Tacky Glue and trimmed the excess  cardboard. I would assume, the cardboard step is not necessary if using stiffened felt.

I hot-glued the cone part of the hat to the circle base. Then I sewed it on in a few spots for reinforcement.

I searched for the color, style and width of ribbon I thought she would prefer. This probably took me longer than the rest of the process. I have heaps of ribbons. It's the "what would she like" that was time-consuming.

At this point, you could add all sorts of fun embellishments. I think a little square rhinestone buckle added to the ribbon would be adorable. But, not for my little witch.

I used my quick dry craft glue again to adhere the ribbon around the cone. Then I made a separate bow to put on the front. At this point, I stopped, since it was already getting too girly for her.

Finally, I cut a small oval of felt, and sandwiched the headband between the hat and the oval. I glued and sewed this onto the headband for extra protection.

Then I heard a thump from upstairs and naptime was officially over! 

Upstairs I go, and to my surprise, my little witch was delighted with my gift!

Glad I had camera in hand, as this little photo shoot lasted less than one minute. Thank goodness for fast shutter speed! :)

Then we proceeded to try the witch's hat on many of the different lovies in her bedroom.

Teddy was pretty good about it...

But Lamby was our favorite! So willing to try different poses and locations. :)

She thought this was so much fun, she decided to put it back on with her soccer uniform.

 Good times with my little witch!

*** All photos in this post are my own. Please do not duplicate without my permission. ***

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