Today’s post is a a simple trash-to-treasure thrift upcycle. When I spotted these old Party Lite ceramic houses at the thrift store, I saw potential and snapped them up. But now, I’m second guessing my plan and need your crafty/decor advice!
My free lunchbox printables are always super popular this time of year – the one time we moms *actually* feel organized enough to do things like print cutesy lunchbox notes! In the spirit of mom unity, I’ve added another lunchbox jokes printable to my offering so we can all score an A+ in “Pinterest Mom: 101.”
Thanks to my girlfriends who tirelessly pumped their kids for their best jokes to help create this fun collection. Happy back to school season, fellow moms! We can do this!
Download your free Lunchbox Jokes printable here. (Psst..Don’t forget to share this free resource on your favorite social channel to help me continue to offer these fun freebies!)
Back To School Capsule Wardrobe for Girls for $100
Earlier this week I posted my BTS capsule wardrobe for boys, and now I’m sharing my Back to school wardrobe for girls. It’s amazing what great pieces you can afford when you plan ahead and really envision how they will all work together to create multiple outfits. Here, I’ve put together 10 key pieces that work together create 10+ outfits, head to toe, for just around $100.*
Is it just me or are summer breaks getting shorter and shorter? My kiddos are dreading going back to school in just a few weeks, but we’re having fun gearing up with new school supplies and goodies, including a newly designed set of fill in the blank lunchbox notes.
I love tucking a fun lunchbox note into their cold lunch at school, and this year decided to make a blank set of notes for when I just want to add my own personalized message.
There are only two weeks until Easter, and I kicked off the season with a casual Easter lunch for the kids.
The menu was very fancy: PB&J, applesauce, string cheese, and milk.
The table was a little fancier. We used their Easter baskets as centerpieces, and filled them with some Easter things we bring out each year: books, little stuffed animals, bunny ears, and some (empty) plastic eggs.
Merry Christmas! Hopefully yours was spent with loved ones creating new happy memories. If your kids were fortunate to receive gifts this season, it’s time to start those thank you notes. I love using templates to keep it a bit more manageable for the kids, especially with Eve just learning to write this year.
Here are the thank you notes I whipped up to use this year, and I’m offering them here as a free printable. Enjoy!
This summer I picked up this vintage doll house from the thrift store for a few dollars. I can’t explain why I picked it up, but I was thrilled with the find. So, what to do with a 1940’s era doll house in disrepair? I originally had delusions of restoring it, because it certainly had charm. However, once I started trying to do some touch ups I was faced with the reality that this baby needed a complete overhaul.
We live a little too far from the kids’ grandparents for our taste, and now that both Dub and Eve are writing I want them to be better at communicating with them via snail mail (while practicing their manners and skills).
I’ve searched high and low for letter writing templates and have struggled to find a template with prompts that are appropriate for casual letter writing. Many are specific to summer break (we love this one, especially for non-writers), summer camps and travel. So, I created these letter templates that I’m really happy with:
These templates include writing prompts that cover the things we talk about at home at the end of each day: what they’re learning at school, their feelings at the moment, and the best and worst part of their days. I also added a “weather today” section, just for fun, and an area for them to just draw, which is their favorite part.
Do you have friends and family members who live far away? Are your kids starting to interact with pen pals, or heading off to summer camp? This template is for you! I’m sharing them here for my subscribers. Enjoy!
This Christmas, I love the idea of offering interactive toys for the kids that will challenge their little minds and offer hours of continued independent play. I’ve curated my Top 10 STEAM Gift Guide and Stocking Stuffers, below:
This is one of my favorite projects to date – also the easiest and least expensive: the children’s artwork display located in our Family Command Center – otherwise known as the mud room.
I wanted plenty of space where the children could hang their artwork and good grades with pride, without that messy cluttered look on the fridge. It also needed to be really flat to the wall, since the area I’d designated is in a space the width of a hallway.
Here’s how I did it:
Buy these eye hook screws and wire at the hardware store for less than $5 total (or spend a few extra bucks and shop Amazon at the links above if you want to save a trip to the store).
Drill holes into the wall where you want your eye hooks to go. Screw the eye hooks into the wall by hand. Then, wrap your wire around one of the hooks a few times. Stretch it to the other eye hook, pulling and straightening as you go. Wrap it around that eye hook 2-3 times and cut the wire.
I already had these cute little inexpensive clips on hand, leftover from Eve’s party favors.They work great for holding the various art and school papers the kids bring home.
Voila! Children’s art center complete in 20 minutes and for less than $5.
As for the rest of our family mud room command center, it’s still a work in progress. I have dreams for this space!
I found that sign at the thrift store. I think it was from a hotel long ago. I just love it!
What do you think of my low-tech art center for the kids?
My girls love to craft. One of my favorite things to do is to get out the craft caddy and put it on the table for them to create to their hearts’ desire. However, sometimes I’ll give them a little more direction and put them to work.
This week, I set out some pretty paper of various sizes and pre-cut shapes (i.e. scrapbook paper I’ll never, ever use for scrapbooking), fun scissors, pom poms, monster google eyes and glue sticks and told them to create monsters.
This year I tried hard to shop the kids’ closets for Halloween, but I still wanted them to feel extra special. What kid doesn’t want to dress up and transform into someone completely different on Halloween (and any other day, for that matter)?
This year I was able to create Eve’s Garden Butterfly Fairy costume for just $3, using items in her closet and three Dollar Store accessories!
From her closet and dress up bin, we assembled this from a tutu, a little lace tank, a flower accessory and her floral halo/crown. Then, I picked up a pair of fairy / butterfly wings and some paper butterflies from the Dollar Store. Not shown here: I picked up a butterfly wand glow stick from the Dollar Store for her to carry for fun and safety while trick-or-treating. Don’t have everything you see here? Shop the look:
Looking for last-minute Halloween Costumes? Look no further than this inspiration for shopping your kids’ closets for these super cute looks!
Star Wars Jedi Luke Skywalker: All it takes is a Karate uniform top, a bathrobe or bed sheet (or you can buy a Jedi cape inexpensively here), some khakis and a pair of boots – and a blue light saber, of course. Here is how I envisioned the costume:
Shop your kids’ closets for Halloween – Star Wars Jedi Luke Skywalker| Five Marigolds
And here’s how it looked on Dub.
Sock Hop – I love this look for a brother and sister! The boy look is super easy, of course. For the girls, I paired a pink tutu pettiskirt with a cardigan, scarf and some black Mary Janes. Either cut out your own “poodle’ or grab a really inexpensive one online. Add some cute glasses for a final touch!
Here’s how it looked on my little one (Yeah…that was before her hair was done, but the only happy look I got. Toddlers!):
Baby Jazzerciser: This goes down as my favorite costume yet and it’s super easy. Just pair a baby onesie with a bright cut-up onesie, legings or tights, some baby legwarmers or Baby Legs (or cut up some old socks) and use a knit baby headband for, well, the headband. I actually cut the elastic tops off of some baby socks for the little baby wristbands! My mother sewed an adorable boom box to complete the look. You can get something similar here or here.
Here’s how my little one rocked it:
Baby Kitty Cat: This one can’t get any easier. Combine a black baby onesie with black leggings or tights, and maybe a cute matching fur vest or black tutu pettiskirt, and you’ve got yourself a kitty cat! Add the finishing touches of a black nose and whiskers using eyeliner, and don’t forget the kitty ears! You can currently buy kitty ears headbands at the Target Dollar Spot, online here, or you can make them on your own. Use a thin feather boa from the dress up pile, and cut it up to make “fur” wrist cuffs and use as the tail.
Pink Poodle: Similar to the black cat costume above, this costume starts with a pink leotard and tutu. I completed the look with a DIY Poodle Headband and faux fur cuffs.
DIY open-air terrarium (or at our home, Yoda’s home on planet Dagobah).
I’ve always been obsessed with terrariums, but was too intimidated to try my own. After I came upon some free supplies, I decided it was time to try my own open air terrarium as a special project with Dub.
First, here is what you need for an open air terrarium:
Succulent plants – as many as you can fit in your container. (I found mine at Home Depot)
Small gravel (the size you find in fish aquariums)
Large smooth stones, if desired
Moss – I used sheet moss
First, make sure your vessel and rocks are clean. Then, I placed the large decorative stones around the edge and filled the middle with the gravel for drainage.
Cover the rocks with moss which acts as a filter.
Next, cover the moss with as much soil as your plants need to build roots. We covered our soil with moss because we liked the way it looked, but this is optional.
When you’re done arranging your plants, give it some water to set the soil and roots in place and continue watering just a bit each week, being careful not to over-water, which promotes rot.
Once our terrarium was complete we thought it needed a little ornament. We thought it looked like Yoda’s swamp, so we added a little Yoda Lego man. He fits right in, don’t you think?
Overall, this ended up being incredibly inexpensive for me since we sourced everything for free except the plants and soil. This was a fun project to do with Dub. He was stoked about this project and excited to put the terrarium in his room!
We recently made the decision to sell our “starter” home and build a new home that better accommodates our growing family. We bought this home just months before our wedding, had three babies here and many, many precious memories as a family. We’re ready for the next chapter, but this sentimental mom is feeling a bit emotional about it, as well.
The moment we signed the papers to build our new home I was immediately motivated to take on a project I’ve been meaning to for a long time – make a family growth chart that we can take with us – wherever we go. Our former growth chart was done the old fashioned way – with pencil on the wall of our kitchen (that I still can’t bring myself to paint over even since I’ve made this beautiful new chart).
I’d once tried my hand at an embroidered chart that was supposed to be cute and charming, but didn’t end up looking quite as polished as my inspiration. I also found that I was too lazy to embroider once a year. My laziness factor is high.
So I moved on to those cute reclaimed signs I’ve seen all over Pinterest.
I started with a 3/4″x7″x8′ piece of cedar lumber that I purchased at Home Depot for less than $9. First, I enlisted Dub to weather it for me. I gave him chains and a hammer and let him have at it. I stained it with leftover stain that I used on our stairs for our garage makeover.
From there, I had to get measuring – my least favorite part. Our family is really tall, so I cut my board to 6′ tall and painted 1′ white stripes using leftover paint from the garage makeover. These are some terrible progress photos, but you get the idea.
I actually liked the way this looked when I was done, but I went ahead and sanded it to give it a more distressed look.
Then, I used my silhouette to create the measurement marks. I barely use my Silhouette but I used it for this, figuring it would make the measuring much easier for me. I measured it on the computer, cut it out on the Silhouette and then used transfer paper to stick it right on the board without having to re-measure.
I’m super happy with the way that it turned out! I can’t wait to hang this measurement chart in our new home next year. I can see keeping this chart in our home forever, and measuring little grandbabies someday.
Postscript: after completing my chart, I stumbled upon this cute version by Handmade Charlotte
If I had to do it over again, I think her way of painting the numbers would be a lot cheaper and easier. However, I’d still want to make the measurement marks so that I could tell visually exactly how tall the kids are. Everytime they get measured they want to know EXACTLY how many feet, inches and centimeters tall they are. Because that matters to 4 and 6 year olds.
What do you think? Do you have a family growth chart in your home?
Looking for a way to upcycle those baby clothes you can’t part with? When Dub lost his first loose tooth, I decided to use his baby clothes to create a tooth pillow – a tradition my parents started with me. The concept is that the tooth pillow makes it easy for the Tooth Fairy to find baby teeth and deposit money (I’ve heard she hates to loose those first baby teeth!).
To make the pillow, I combined a chambray shirt and a little plaid shirt, with snap button pockets, that Dub wore as a baby. He actually helped me dig through his baby clothes to find just the right combo.
Here he is at just 3 months old sporting one of the shirts.
My mom used her fancy sewing machine to embroider some letters and voila! An easy, free tooth pillow that he absolutely loves.
There’s just something about Candy Buttons. These nostalgic candies are surprisingly easy to make, and are perfect for birthdays, party favors, or just a fun sweet treat.
To make Candy Buttons, all you need to do is prepare a simple royal icing recipe. You can use the recipe listed on the can of Meringue Powder, but I used the following recipe, inspired by Sweet Sugarbelle:
What you’ll need:
1 lb. confectioner’s sugar (4 3/4 cups)
Meringue powder (about 1/4 cup)
1/3-1/2 cup water
1-2 tablespoons flavored extract (I used almond extract because it’s what I had on hand, but there are tons of fruity flavors at the craft store that would be fun to try!)
Icing bag and small round tip (or a resealable bag with a tiny corner cut off would work in a pinch)
Whisk the dry ingredients together.
In a separate measuring cup, mix the flavored extract into the water.
Slowly begin pouring the liquid mixture into the powder mixture while it mixes.
Mix the frosting on medium-high speed until the frosting forms stiff peaks (around 7 minutes)
Add food coloring to achieve desired color. (I first made pink frosting, and later added a few drops of blue to make purple to get two colors out of one batch.)
Next, tear off a sheet of freezer paper – large enough that you can fit a large batch of buttons on (you won’t cut the paper until these are dry).
Fill your pastry bag (I used my Pampered Chef Decorator Bottle Set*) with frosting and twist the top, removing excess air. Now, simply pipe evenly sized dots across the paper. If possible, print a template in advance and place it below the freezer paper. Be sure that the design will fit into your final packaging. If you’re using pretzel bags for your packaging, your design will need to be approximately 2.15 x 5″ to fit the pretzel bags I would be placing them in.
Let the Buttons sit overnight to dry. Any excess frosting will keep in a resealable bag refrigerated for two weeks.
Now for the fun! Once the Buttons have set up overnight, you can begin cutting the freezer paper to your desired shapes.
Package your Candy Buttons for the occasion. I placed them in Wilton pretzel bags that I got at JoAnn’s for $1.37 using my 40% off coupon. Think of the possibilities! Birthday party favors, Valentines, and more!
In addition to being featured on the fab blogs listed on the right of this blog, this post was also featured on Huckleberry Love.
This summer is the first summer I’ll be at home most days with the kids since I started my freelance adventure last fall. My 6 and 4 year old are bright, exuberant kids and I knew I’d have to add structure their days if I wanted any sanity. However, with my freelance work I don’t have the ability to be there every moment to guide their day (and who would want to?). It’s also great for fostering their independence as well.
I went to work trying to find chore charts, but none of them were quite right. My 4 year old can’t read the text chore charts, and many of the picture charts were geared toward very little children, or had unattractive graphics.
After doing some research I landed on four requirements:
I wanted a photo chart that my four year old could understand and interact with on her own;
I didn’t want to spend much money;
I wanted the flexibility to change their days up, but I also didn’t want to have to print a new one each week; and
I needed something I could mount to the fridge somehow – I didn’t want a chart that required wall space.
I landed on the concept of a magnetic chart with two categories: “Doing” and “Done.” I saw a few examples that I liked and got to work emulating those based on my needs. However, I needed clip art. It was SO hard to find cute clip art that would work for this! That’s when I stumbled upon Audrey Schilaty‘s blog. She had the exact chart I wanted – for free! Really, it’s the nicest free resource I’ve found. She offers both personal care and chore images, and I used a small combination of both (sad but true: I forget to have my children brush their teeth all to often).
I made it my own with a few modifications:
I drafted my own simple “Doing” and “Done” text document and used just the images I needed from her selection, so it would all print on one page, saving me money.
I printed it on a glossy sheet of photo paper that I had on hand, and then just placed it on an 8.5×11 sheet of adhesive magnet. You can buy packages of adhesive magnet sheets at office supply stores, but I found the most inexpensive option for heavy sheets – I got mine for just $3.59. I cut the small pieces to size, added them to the fridge, and voila – a clean, easy and inexpensive chart.
The kids woke up the first day and had moved two magnets over before I had a chance to remind them about it! So far, it’s been a great success.
I encourage everyone to check out Audrey’s great blog. And, if you’d like a copy of the 1-page version of the printable I used to create my chart using her images, just click the image below!
There you have it – a chore chart for just $3.59. What are your tips for keeping the kids structured in the summer? Let me know in the comments below.
*This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclaimer on the right sidebar. Thank you for your support!
For Dub’s first Christmas years ago, I decided I wanted to start the tradition of making something homemade for my kids for each Christmas. I ambitiously took on an activity book project to kick off the tradition, knowing I could add pages to it each year.
I drew inspiration from the interwebs and used a few patterns But mostly, I just winged it. Ididn’t want it to look perfect, I wanted it to look inviting and fun!
I did a lot of web surfing for inspiration. I used a few patterns from one of my favorite bloggers, Homemade by Jill.
From there, I narrowed down the pages and activities I wanted tobe in the book and madea list of the supplies I needed. I was patient with this and used 40% off coupons at Michael’sand JoAnn’s for several weeks to avoid paying full price on the more expensive supplies. Pre-planning is the most important step to any project, because having allthesupplies on hand means fewer half-finished projects laying around that were never picked back up after the inspiration left!
As a working mom, I made it my goal to complete at least two pages every weekend. This made the project much more manageable for me to take on. Looking face-on at a full weekend of sewing probably would have killed my motivation to start!
After all of the pages were complete, I paired pages two-by-two and sewed twosheetstogether back-to-back.
I then punched three grommets into each set of pages, like you would if you were going to add them to a binder.
Finally, I used loose leaf rings to secure them together. I chose to do it this way so I couldrepair pages or continue to add pages as I had kids.
White felt pages from the craft store (around 25 cents each)
Additional felt pages in various colors
Scrap fabric and notions, like a zipper and ricrac,
Assorted buttons I had saved over the years
Metal snaps (these are easier for little hands to use vs. the plastic snaps)
Finger puppets from Ikea for the Noah’s Ark page (pictured below). These are no longer available through Ikea but they pop up on ebay all the time!
I’m happy to say that 4 years later, this book still gets used by Dub and now Eve, too. It’s held up and only needed 1 small repair.
In retrospect, I wish I had more carefully documented the sewing process and made patterns for each page. It took me a long time pull this book together and it would have been so much easier if all the patterns had been in one place. I often wonder if I should go back and make the patterns to share for the next person. If you would like to see that in the future, please be sure to tell me in the comments below!