Winter Crafts for Kids

As the days start to get shorter, kids can start to feel bored and pent up indoors, particularly when the holidays end and schedules return to normal. When this happens, consider making some fun winter crafts that you can use to brighten up your house and make it a little more cheerful inside. Depending on when you start, you can even use a few of these as decorations over the holiday, or save them for next year to put them out and get some additional use out of them.

Painted Pinecones

Create some beautiful winter decorations with pinecones and some iridescent paint medium. Iridescent medium can be applied to the pinecone spines just like paint. When it dries, however, the medium becomes transparent, leaving behind only a sparkling shine that makes it look as though the pinecones have been left outside in the frost. You can also add the medium to any paint to make your blues, reds, and greens sparkle as well. Tie a ribbon onto the ends of your finished pinecones and use them as ornaments, or hang them in the windows to catch the light.

Salty Snow Scene

This is a fun craft for with children who enjoy the process of watching an almost magical change in their handiwork.  Have your kids draw a snowman or other winter picture on a piece of heavy construction paper. Make sure that they do not cover all the areas of the paper with crayon; some of the paper needs to stay bare for the effect to work.

Dissolve a cup of Epsom salts into two cups of warm water; this needs to be fairly thick and heavy when you are done mixing. Have your child paint the salt water over the finished drawing. When the water dries, it will leave behind salt crystals on the paper that will make it look as though it has been snowing in their scene. If you’d like, you can also add a drop or two of blue food coloring to the water to give the entire picture an icy blue sheen to it at the same time.

Thanksgiving with Style: Part 2

Planning for Thanksgiving involves more than a trip to the grocery store. Many stressful holidays occur because only the food is planned. By taking the time the day before to handle the other aspects of the holiday, you can have more time for your last-minute food preparations.

Thanksgiving is often the one holiday when people bring out all their best china and silver. It’s also a day when you may have many dinner guests. The best way to plan for this is to set the table early. If you have silver that needs polishing or you can’t find Aunt Lavine’s cranberry compote dish, Thanksgiving morning is not the day to discover these problems. Spend today pulling out everything and setting the table. (You can eat in front of the TV tonight!)

Prepare for any potential problems or accidents. Your dining room floor and table linens are at risk with a Thanksgiving dinner. Pre-plan for spills with a good collection of white towels and your favorite spot remover if needed. Quick attention fo spilling protects your rugs and tablecloths without unduly embarrassing your guests.

You may want to serve food buffet-style, reducing the demands for passing everything and allowing more space at the table. Plan which serving pieces will be used, and layout your buffet ahead of time. Then just add the food on Thanksgiving day. This will leave room for decorative elements on the table itself.

Finally, plan ahead for the meal itself. Check your recipes when you make your shopping list and prepare anything you can today. Are there any bakeries or stores that make great pies? Consider buying them and saving yourself some time and trouble. Make a plan for Thanksgiving morning that factors in any oven or stove-top space limitations. Give yourself a spare half-hour to hour in your calculations to cover the unexpected.

With these plans you have a good chance of experiencing a fun and lower-stress holiday. Maybe you’ll even be able to watch a little football!

Thanksgiving with Style: Part 1

If you want to decorate your home for Thanksgiving, your best resource is your local grocery store! Pumpkins – generally half price or less after Halloween – can join with pomegrantes gourds, squash and Indian corn to make your home inviting and seasonal.

Start by browsing through your collection of accessories. Do you have any antiques that would go well with autumn moods and colors? Baskets and pottery or metal bowls look inviting when filled with smaller fall products. If you purchase a nice selection of various squash, they will hold up throughout the season and are excellent roasted after their decorative use is over.

Once you’re finished rummaging through your home and local grocer, step outside and take full advantage of fall’s bounty. Do you have any trees with turning leaves? These can make for beautiful decorations on Thanksgiving day. Also look for dried grasses and berries on your property or along the roadside to add color and personality to your displays. With a little imagination and effort, you can create a fall environment in your home that will take your guest’s breath away.

Now, close your eyes and imagine how wonderful your house will look. Do you have any ideas or tips to make our vision of your home even better?

Crafts with Kids

After Halloween is over and the spooky decorations come down, kids can often feel as though all the fun has gone out of fall and early winter. If this has happened in your household, don’t worry; there are plenty of Autumn and Thanksgiving-themed crafts your kids can make to decorate the house with and feel as though the seasonal fun is still continuing.

Fall Stamps

Stamping is a great way to liven up plain paper and crafts from scrapbooks to banners. Take it a step further by gathering up some typical fall items to use as your stamp, rather than using the expensive rubber stamps you can find at the craft store. Autumn items that make great stamps include:

  • Apple halves, which showcase a star on the inside
  • Leaves
  • Pinecones, which can be rolled across a page for a unique pattern
  • Acorn caps
  • Pine needles

Leaf Rubbings

Have your kids gather a variety of different fall leaves and arrange them on top of a sheet of paper. Encourage them to create leaf scenes, leaf animals, and leaf people out of them, and then lay a second sheet of paper on top. Tape down the edges of the second sheet so it doesn’t move, and have your kids rub the side of a crayon over the entire sheet to reveal the images of the leaves underneath. Once you’ve made one or two, experiment with using different colors on the same sheet to create various effects.

Pinecone Turkeys

Gather the largest pinecones you can find (these are also available at craft stores), along with a range of different found objects and craft items you already have on hand such as felt, buttons, wire, feathers, glue, and paint. Now decorate the pinecones to look like a fat Thanksgiving turkey. Paint the spines of the pinecone to look like feathers, glue bunches of feathers onto the back for a tail, and use the buttons, felt, and wire to create details like feet, eyes, comb, and wattle. Display your finished creations as the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving table, or pop them around the house in unexpected places so that guests can catch their eyes when they come to visit.

Decorating For Fall

Put away the white linen, beach towels and cool toned accessories. It’s fall and it’s time to breakout the corn husks, pine cones and other harvest decorations. Here are a few simple ideas:

Decorate a bookshelf with pressed leaves and pumpkins.

Hang a corn husk wreath.

Display green apples and acorns in apothecary jars.

Spray paint pumpkins silver and white. Make sure you use a variety of sizes. Display them on your mantle with pine cones. This is a very elegant look.

Decorate your dining room table by placing a row of pumpkins and gourds. Add a tall vase filled with wheat.

Fill your votive candle holders with pumpkin or squash seeds.

Make leaves out of decorative scrapbook paper. Glue them to branches for a whimsical look. Display the branches in tall glass vases.

Fill an old tool box with candles, clementines and pine cones.

Hollow out gourds and use them as vases for fall flowers.

Put single leaves, either pressed or fresh, in small glass vases or use old lab beakers — look for them at antique stores. Replace leaves as they brown.

Put together a colorful outdoor fall display using a sturdy wheelbarrow as a base. Fill the wheelbarrow with ornamental cabbage and peppers, grasses, chrysanthemums, flowering zucchini and other seasonal plants. Fill the wheelbarrow with soil and insert the plants loosely, or tuck containers into the wheelbarrow, making sure to fill in the gaps with more plants.

Nuts are as easy to decorate with as they are good to eat. Anchor a candle inside a hurricane lamp. Experiment with different varieties of nuts and a selection of clear containers.

Nestle a candle in popcorn kernels or other seasonal materials such as candy corn or colored clear round stones.

Don’t forget to break out the rich, warm colored throw rugs, pillows and rugs. Light a fire, pour a glass of wine and enjoy autumn.

Happy Fall Decorating!

Labor Day Kid Party Ideas

It’s time to start planning an awesome party for the kids! What better time to have some late summer fun than the ultimate holiday for being outdoors? We’re guessing you already have the menu and decorations planned for your event, but there’s a good chance you haven’t yet planned out the games. The best part about Labor Day is that it has an easy going vibe that makes life seem breezy and fun. As such, planning for a party shouldn’t feel like a big burden! To help you along we’re sharing seven quick ways to create a super day of play!

  1. Squirt gun tag. Provide the squirt guns and place a large bucket of water in the middle of the yard for use as an easy refill station.
  2. Prior to the party, let the kiddos paint empty tin cans red, white, and blue. Then on the big day stack them in a pyramid. Provide a lightweight ball, such as a wiffle ball, and let the bowling shenanigans begin.
  3. Buy neon light-up necklaces at a party supply store. Shortly before the party light them up and attach them end to end. Drive a stake into the ground and play a game of glow in the dark ring toss.
  4. Serve red, white, and blue cupcakes filled with Poprocks. Have your camera ready! (Be sure and warn the kids first!)
  5. On the morning of the party give your kids plenty of sidewalk chalk. Instead of asking  them to “keep busy” using it, tell them you need their help to decorate for the party. They’ll feel very important accomplishing the task of sidewalk decorator!
  6. Set up an American flag relay race. Fill extra large red and blue buckets with sand and handheld American flags on sticks. Each member of the relay team has to grab a flag and bring it back to a teammate.
  7. If you have a yard full of rocks make a game of it. Tell the kids they can each select 1-3 rocks (they like picking things out.) Then provide red, white, and blue paint and brushes.

Happy Labor Day from all of us at Fulton Homes!

Valentine’s Day Gifts for Your BFF

Valentine’s Day is not just for couples. It is a day where love is celebrated. Show your BFF how much she means to you. These gifts can be given to your mom or favorite aunt as well. Remember this holiday may not be the same for a single person or someone who has lost a love. Show the people who you love the most, how much you really care!

Give the gift of color. Buy your special person their favorite shade of lip gloss or lip stick. If unsure what their favorite is, give them Valentine’s Day inspired chap sticks. They can be found in any drug store.

A gift certificate for a manicure, pedicure or facial is appreciated by any woman. Most women love to be pampered. Being pampered on someone else’s dollar makes that treat so much more special! She can be worry free and truly enjoy a luxurious treatment if she is not spending her own money. A less expensive idea is to give her a favorite nail polish or a Valentine’s Day inspired nail polish. Tie some red, pink, or a combination of thin ribbon around the top of the nail polish.

Give the gift of sweet treats. Get a compartmentalized box and fill each box with different candies and treats. This is a gift that can be kept in her desk at work and accessed on stressful days. Each time your BFF reaches for the candy box, she will be reminded how much she is loved and appreciated by you!

Buy your BFF a small bottle of her favorite perfume! If she loves using one of your perfumes when she comes over, buy her a small bottle of her own. Little bottles of perfume are the perfect gift for a special friend in your life. If she doesn’t enjoy perfume give her a luxurious Valentines inspired bath balm. These two gifts can be enjoyed, because they are not something one typically buys themselves!

How to Thaw a Frozen Turkey

When it comes to making turkey for holiday dinners the number one challenge is making sure to allow enough time for anything you want to accomplish. Among the most time consuming tasks is thawing a frozen turkey. Planning ahead is the best way to ensure the food is safe. Food safety must be a top priority when preparing to serve a large group. Meat is very susceptible to bacterial growth if the temperature is not well managed. Being prepared is also the best way to ensure that you don’t forget about it entirely and wind up with a still-frozen turkey on the big day!

Refrigerator Method

Remove the turkey from the freezer and leave it in its plastic wrapper. Place it in a shallow pan to catch the juices. Calculate roughly 24 hours of thawing for each 4 pounds of the turkey. We’ve included a simple guide: 

4-12 pounds = 1-3 days
12-16 pounds = 3-4 days
16-20 pounds = 4-5 days
20-24 pounds = 5-6 days

You can allow an additional 1-2 days in the schedule to store the turkey in the fridge after it thaws.

Cold Water Method:

This requires more work than just letting the turkey sit in the fridge for a few days. Remove it from the freezer and leave it in its plastic wrapper. Place it in a deep pan of water so that it is submerged. You can also use one side of the kitchen sink or a drink cooler. Plan to let it soak for 30 minutes per each pound of turkey. Important: Change the water every half hour until the bird is thawed completely.   We’ve included a simple guide:

4-12 pounds = 2-6 hours
12-16 pounds = 6-8 hours
16-20 pounds = 8-10 hours
20-24 pounds = 10-12 hours

With diligent attention to the water changes, your turkey should come out perfectly thawed and you can proceed with cooking!

How to Host a Quarantined Easter

Easter is a time of the year that brings the whole family together. It is fun with egg hunts, kid-friendly activities, and quality time with loved ones. However, with the pandemic at hand, this is going to be a very different Easter than usual. Churches are closer, social gatherings are dwindling, and home lockdowns are going into full effect. So how do you celebrate this time with others when you are forced to stay at home by yourself?

Sunday Service

If you go to church on Easter Sunday, consider that plan to be canceled. However, many services are still live-streaming or creating pre-recorded sessions. You can now enjoy your Sunday Easter Service in the comfort of your own home.

Family Time

These new times demand innovative gathering solutions. Many families are staying connected through Facetime, Zoom, and other virtual calling apps like HouseParty. You can facilitate these plans with your own family for Easter. Make something unique where you can have a family game night or an activity to partake in while video chatting. This activity is a great way to have family time still, even when you cannot all be together.

Easter Dinner

Just because your friends and family cannot join you, does not mean you cannot dine like a king or queen. You can still have some of your favorite holiday, traditional meals this season. You may need to have your groceries delivered, yet a half ham or turkey will go great with other mini Easter dishes as well. Simply create your own mini feast for the ones in your home. If you live alone, still enjoy your dinner yourself!

It can be challenging to celebrate a holiday alone or without your typical holiday plans. However, do not hope in this uncertain time. The holiday is still here, and it is an opportunity to celebrate it in a new way. Make sure you still enjoy this day by making it special. It can be hard to get everyone excited in the house for the new, changed celebration, yet the opportunity to enjoy the day is still there! Do not lose sight of the holiday.

St. Patrick’s Day in Arizona with the Rising Concern of Coronavirus

St. Patrick’s Day is a global holiday celebrated in remembrance of an Irish patron saint who ministered during the fifth century. Every year on March 17th, the world takes part in festivities, parades, and social gatherings to celebrate this holiday. However, this year may be different than most years. We are closely monitoring and taking precautions to prevent the outbreak of the Coronavirus or COVID-19. This virus has the potential to become a pandemic disease and quickly spread throughout the world.

Arizona

Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona is advising people to stay home and avoid large social gatherings this St. Patrick’s Day. The term social distancing is being used quite frequently. Many areas around the world, including the United States, are shutting down large social gathering events, bars, restaurants, gyms, and stores.

Symptoms

The disease signs and symptoms may start off resembling a severe cold. You may notice a runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever, and even difficulty breathing.

Prevention

It is highly advised to avoid gatherings over ten people to prevent the spread of this disease. While we cannot make certain how severe this virus pandemic may be, it can be prevented by simply engaging in proper hygiene. Your first and best approach to prevent the spread or contraction of the virus is to wash your hands regularly.

Current Stats

The United States death toll is currently sitting at 85 people. More than 4,660 cases have been confirmed to date (3/17/2020 @ 9:00am/MST). The population at the greatest risk is our elders. Therefore, please take cognitive measures to avoid the spread of this respiratory illness.

Be Safe

While the death toll is currently low, this is no small matter to dismiss. It is always better to stay safe than sorry. There are several confirmed cases that have emerged here in Arizona.

St. Patricks’ Day Celebrations

Staying in this holiday may be your best move to help prevent the spread of the disease.

At Fulton Homes, we want nothing more than the health and safety of all our communities; therefore, we encourage you to be precautious and use the authorized safety measures.