DIY Christmas Stacking Toy

Saturday, December 22, 2018

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This wasn't supposed to be a toy. It was supposed to be a cute little centerpiece for my table. But, like many things in a house with cats, it ended up on the floor. And, like many things in a house with children, the instantly became a new toy. So this post is all about rolling with the punches.

Paper Mache Cones
Acrylic Paint
White Paint Pen

This is one of those super easy mode crafts. You just paint the outside of the cones in cute colors (might need more than one coat). Once it's dry decorate the outside with the paint markers. I had my little one help as much as he had the patience for (which, you know, was about 3 dots).

The cost of supplies was under $10, and this kept him amused for at least five minutes, which is like five hours for a one year old so I'd call this project a success. The fact that the "toy" I've created can also double as a decoration is an awesome bonus.

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Discovery Building Blocks DIY

Sunday, December 2, 2018

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This is one of my favorite projects I've made for Ronan so far. Like, I enjoyed creating this every step of the way, because I took my time and collected things that had a personal significance or were just cool. And the result is a colorful, noisy collection of blocks full of stuff that is truly interesting to look at and can hopefully be used to teach him all sorts of things in the years to come.

Clear small plastic lidded containers (the kind you can find at the dollar store are perfect)
Glue gun
Nick-knacks, doo-dads, etc.

Step One: Collect your stuff. Keep in mind that sound is just as important as looks, so a boring wooden bead or some plastic water bottle lids are perfect just because they make so much fun noise. I also told the people I knew what I was doing so I was able to get things like feathers and shells and that little table that holds the lid of your pizza box up... you know, with the three legs?

Here are some of the things we used for Ronan's blocks:
Thread in every color of the rainbow, buttons, foam shapes (sun, clouds, etc), Feathers, shells, fake flowers and leaves, fun shaped sprinkles, puffballs, beads, cut up straws, small rubber bands, ribbon, toothpicks, rice... basically if it was small enough it was going into a block. 

Step Two: Prep your blocks. I had to cut off some tabs off the lids because I wanted to make sure there wasn't anything he could grab onto and use his herculean strength to pry open. This step included a lot of help from my son... I would throw the finished ones into the bag, and he would take them out again.

Step three: put your stuff in and hot glue the lids on. For the type of containers I had, I found it easiest to put the hot glue in the fold on the lid. Try to keep the contents of the container from touching the glue before it is dried.

And that's it! Simple, cheap, and fun. 

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Ten [for 12 months and under] Things

Monday, November 26, 2018

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I love making these ten things posts, and I realized the other day that it had been a while. I was sitting on the floor in the nursery (because that's what I do with most of my free time now) trying to think of a topic when I realized I was literally surrounded by one. 

So, here you go. A list of the ten things Ronan and I both love the most.


1 - You Are My Cupcake by Joyce Wan - This was consistently one of Ronan's favorite books. He still lights up when we read it to him.

2 - Very Hungry Caterpillar Sounds and Projector - First off, there is no AC adapter that comes with this. The box is a liar. Beyond that, we love this thing. We turn it on every night to help establish that it's time to sleep. We've been using it for about nine months and have only had to replace the batteries once. 

3 - Zebra Lovey from Oh, Joy! for Target - Okay, maybe this one is more for me. Ronan hasn't really gotten attached to anything for bedtime (besides the pacifiers...) but I still think this is the cutest.

4 - Atom Rattle and Teether from Manhatten Toys - When Ronan really started manipulating things and trying to work them out I knew I needed to get him something a little more complicated than a plastic ball. This toy fits the bill.

5 - Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn, Game and Learn Controller - This toy we mainly bought just to keep our sanity. Ronan will sit next to his dad and watch the TV while pushing the buttons sometimes, and my heart melts. 

6 - Cat Multisensory Teething Toy from Skip Hop - This is one of those crazy toys where when I look at it all my brain thinks is "there's just so much going on!" But Ronan loves it. This is the toy I attach to the stroller for long walks.

7 - Mula Building Blocks from Ikea - In Ronan's opinion, the blocks in this are just okay. But that wagon is pretty much the best thing to ever happen. 

8 - Textured Ball Set from Infantino - These are a super simple but fun and colorful addition to our nursery. We introduced these pretty early on and he still plays with them.

9 - Stick and See Spin Wheel from Infantino - These are crucial to have when you're alone at home and you just need the kid to entertain himself so you can at least go pee. Put him in the high chair and attach this to the tray, viola, instant entertainment. 

10 - Hippopposites by Janik Coat - I am constantly bringing board books home from work. This was the first board book that Ronan really became attached to, so we bought a copy for ourselves.

And, because I wanna make sure you know that I know what I'm talking about (haha), here are some pictures of Ronan using the things. This is how you really know what his favorite toys are... they're constantly popping up on his Instagram grid. Especially the Cupcakes book, it is in no less than 6 pictures.

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DIY Nature Treasures Book

Thursday, September 27, 2018

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Any adventure, no matter how big or small, should always result in treasures. That's why at the end of every walk there's a leaf bunched up in the palm of tiny hands, or a stick shoved into the stroller. I'm a firm believer that anything can be a treasure, and that treasures deserve to be showcased. That's why I came up with this easy DIY  book. It is incredibly simple to make, and hopefully all of the supplies are something you already have around the house. The only things that might be strange are the stroller rings, which I've found most parents have, but could be replaced with bread ties, and the felt, which could be replaced with paper or even left off entirely.

small freezer bags
duct tape
stroller rings (or bread ties, key rings)
felt (or thick paper, plastic, etc)
hole punch

Step One: Duct tape the bottom edge of your bag on both sides. Try to keep it as close to the edge as possible just because it makes it easier to keep everything even. If your tape hangs off the side of the bag be careful while trimming. We don't want to lose any future treasures!

Step Two: Make your cover. Cut your felt (or whatever you decided to use) to the exact width of the freezer bags, but not the height. You can see in the example picture that my felt is about 3/4 of an inch shorter than the bag.
Place some duct tape sticky side up on the bottom of a bag. I used the bag as a template to make sure everything got aligned correctly. After you've placed the tape put the felt on top of the tape, aligning the felt with the top part of the ziplock. There should still be some sticky tape showing. Put another piece of tape directly on top of the other piece, sandwiching the felt. Make sure there's no stickiness showing.
I customized my cover using acrylic paint, but I think it looks great blank, too. You could also use a permanent marker.

Step Three: Punch your holes. I found it was easiest to make a template that I could line up with the corner to make sure all of my holes ended up in the same spot.

Step Four: Put it all together.

If you fill all of the bags its easy to add more, or if something gross gets saved it's really easy to remove a page and throw it away. And since this project is made with rings it can totally be attached to your stroller during walks. No treasure gets left behind on my watch!

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Unicorn Vomit "Printmaking"

Friday, August 17, 2018

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This is a simple, messy art project that will have your kids super excited to try it because of the name alone. I mean, Unicorn Vomit. It's equal parts magical and disgusting! How could they resist!?

While it sounds gross, this art activity is actually a sneaky teaching moment. Combing elements of marbling and printmaking, this project introduces your little ones to the concept using abstract methods to create art and the basic principles of replicating it through a simplified printing process. 

Acrylic Paint in Light Pink, Yellow, Bright Blue, and Bright Green
Gallon Freezer Bag
Paper to Print On (the heavier the better)

Step one: Cut down the seams of your freezer bag and lay it flat.

Step two: Squeeze out drips and lines of paint on one side of the bag, staying away from the edges. At this point, the only thing you need to care about is that the colors look balanced and that there aren't any huge blank spots.

Step three: Fold the freezer bag back in half, completely covering up the paint.

Step four: Squish the paint around, or use your finger to move it. If you really want it to look marbled you can also use a fine, blunt tip to move the paint around (like the wrong end of a paintbrush). Be careful not to overmix, or you'll end up with a gross poop color.

Step five: Pull the bag apart and step back to look at the results. If you're happy, move on. If you have a section that has too much of one color, trying adding more paint until it looks right.

Step six: Carefully place your paper down directly on to the paint, face side down. Push gently, then peel the paper up. Set aside to dry and repeat the process until the results stop pulling up paint.

You can repeat the process as many times as you want!
If your colors start to look muddy you can always wash your bag off and start again.

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"Peas" read me a story!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

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I keep seeing these "story baskets" on Instagram and thinking I could put one of those together pretty easily. It's basically a smaller version of what I do for my job every day.  So when I realized I had found a few a books that had a common theme and were age appropriate for my little guy (about 9 months) I got really excited. The only problem was the theme I had landed on... peas. I mean, that's a little weird, but I didn't let that stop me, because my motto is "limitation leads to creativity!" Or, you know, it would be. If I adopted a motto.

Whats in my  basket:
LMNO Peas and 123 Peas by Keith Baker
Number Flash Cards
Handmade Pea Pod Noisy Toy
"Peas" in a Bottle

I do realize it's kind of silly to give flash cards to a 9 month old. Right now I'm just using them to help my kid familiarize himself with numbers. But if you are making this basket for a toddler the puffballs and flash cards used together can be a great learning activity. They can either trace the shape with them like I did in the picture or pull out as many "peas" as is shown on the card.

The best part of this whole basket, in my opinion, is that adorable little pea pod toy. As soon as I thought of the concept I knew I had to make one. Each little pea is a different type of noise maker. So one rattles, one squeaks, and the other crinkles. And it was pretty easy to make, too. 

1 piece of green felt
a squeaky toy (mine was a $1 dog toy)
some old noisy plastic wrappers
rice (or something that rattles)
plastic bag

Step 1: Make and cut out a pattern. You'll need a pea pod (kind of a fat crescent moon shape) and a pea (make sure it will fit in the pod when it's all sewn up!).

Step 2: Fold your felt in half, pin, and trace your pattern to make sure you have enough room for everything. You're going to need two pea pods pieces, six pea pieces, and three long thin strips to attach everything together.

Step 3: Cut. Triple check to make sure everything fits before you do. You know the saying "measure twice, cut once?" I always measure like, five times.

Step 4: Make your noise makers.
The squeaker is the most fun, and the easiest. Just tear apart the dog toy until you've found the plastic piece. It should be a circle with a tube sticking out of it.
For the crinkle pea, you want to cut out two or three pieces of your noisy wrappers a little bit smaller than the felt pea pieces you cut.
The rattle is the most complicated. I cut 2 circles out of an old plastic bag, then taped it to make a pocket. Pour rice in about half, then tape it all the way around. You should come out with a kind of flat circular shape that makes noise. Make sure you test to see if any rice comes out when you shake it.

Step 5: Put together the peas! Note: Make sure you pin on the long pieces that will attach the peas to the pod! There needs to be one sewn onto each pea.
For the crinkle pea you can just pin your crinkle layers in between your felt layers and sew around the edge. For the squeaker pea I sewed around the edge until I had about an inch left, then pushed the squeaker inside and sewed it closed. For the rattle I just pinned it (carefully) into the middle and sewed around it.

Step 6: Sew up your pea pod. When you're pinning the pod together, make sure to pin on all three peas. I attached the long strips to the bottom of the pea pod. This isn't necessary, but it makes sure that you don't have to keep chasing down peas. Sew up the big curve first, putting extra stitches where your peas attach. I added a line of stitches across the top of the pod to make everything look complete.

And there you have it! Your pea pod is done, and a great addition to a "Peas read me a story!" story basket. If story baskets aren't your thing, a veggie felt set would also be so cute.

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Making the Most of Summer

Thursday, May 24, 2018

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Guys, I love summer. Love, love, love it. Unfortunately, for the last three years all the sudden it's the last day of summer and I'm hit with the realization that... wait, it can't be over! I haven't done anything SUMMERY yet! Bring back the fireflies! I need those long days and warms nights!

Well, this summer I don't want to let that happen. It's our little guy's first summer, and I want it to be special for all of us. A lot of new sights, sounds, and textures for him, and a lot of classic activities that I'm usually "just too busy" to do for me.

So to help me actively focus on enjoying this summer, I've come up with a "92 Days of Summer Challenge." 92 days where I try to do something each day that takes advantage of my favorite season. And that can be anything from eating a popsicle to playing on the beach. Watching fireflies or going camping. Playing in the garden hose or going on a walk just to get ice cream. You get the idea.

And of course, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to make some cute clip art to use in my bullet journal or an organized place to put all of my "summery activities" ideas. And I'm all for sharing, so If this challenge seems like something you'd be into, or you'd just like to have some cute bugs in your own summer journal, you can download the .pdfs here.

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Confetti Banner

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

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It's my unofficial ongoing mission to make life a little more fun. Although, now that I've said that, maybe it is an official mission now? Okay, so in my official quest to make life full of joy, I've stumbled upon an idea that takes something that's already pretty happy - a banner - and amping it up. This isn't your normal banner. This is a banner on steroids. This is Extream Banner. (So... Hulk? Hur hur hur...) This is... party banner. And what could be so magical that it instantly turns anything into a party? Confetti. 

The thing that takes these banners to the next level is that not only do they have a background of colorful awesomeness, they also are shakeable. I think that they look cute hanging, but they're definitely small enough to attach to a card and send to someone who deserves some joy.

Contact Paper
Confetti (or bits of colorful paper)
Writing Utensils or Paint

Step One: Cut out a square and dump confetti all over it. Make sure your square is about an inch bigger than you want your banner to be on all sides. After you dump on your confetti, try brushing some off. It looks more impressive when you can see through to the other side. This is the only chance you'll get to arrange your confetti to look the way you want, so take advantage of it!

Step Two: Cover up your confetti with another piece of contact paper. This second sheet should be roughly the same size as the first, but it doesn't have to be exact. You are making a sheet of confetti paper, so you want the sticky sides of the contact paper to touch, and the smooth sides to be on the outside. Once you've put the two pieces together, use a flat edge to smooth out the bumps, wrinkles, and air pockets.

Step Three: Trim your banner to the size you want. I think it looks best when the confetti goes all the way to the edge, so don't be afraid to cut through some of it.

Step Four: Fold your banner in half and cut an angle that starts at the edge and goes up towards the fold. Then flatten it back out and smooth out the crease.

Step five: Cut two more sheets of contact paper, one a little bit larger than your banner, and the other more than double the size of your banner.

Step six: Trace your banner onto the smaller of the two sheets and cut it out.

Step seven: Peel both of your sheets off of their backing, then place the banner shaped sheet you just cut out into the middle of the large sheet, sticky side touching sticky side. Place your confetti-filled banner directly on top of the smaller banner sheet.

Step eight: Cut around your banner, roughly creating the shape in the picture above.

Step nine: Wrap the sticky side of your freshly cut sheet around the confetti-filled banner, folding in the two lower triangle corners first, and then the two big wings on the side. This should create a pocket.

Step ten: Use an extra contact sheet back to cover up the upper flap. This allows you to put more confetti into the pocket you created without it sticking where you don't want it to.

Step eleven: Fill up your pocket! I usually added enough confetti to fill it up about 1/3 of the way.

Step twelve: Peel off the contact paper backing and close it up. I added my string before I closed it, just running it along the seam. It worked well.

Step thirteen: Add your message. I loved the way the white contrasted with the colors, but the black looks good too. I'd like to see what someone could do with a paint pen.

I know you could do this with a sewing machine, but since this project would be hanging I was trying to come up with a way to keep the confetti from falling to the bottom. I think contact paper was a good (and easy!) solution.

Who in your life deserves a confetti banner?

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Easter Baskets for Babies

Sunday, March 25, 2018

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One of the strange things about having a child is all the sudden you have, like, 200% more responsibility on holidays. Where it used to be that we just had to coordinate when to show up where, all the sudden I find myself creating detailed schedules of where we will be when he needs to feed, sleep, and be changed. On top of that, some holidays (Easter being one of them) require forethought and a little bit of work ahead of time if I want to continue in the traditions that my parents did with me (and yeah, this is one of those moments where I appreciate my mom and her ability to do this with not only one, but THREE kids.) So right now I'm realizing that I have a week to get an Easter basket ready, but I have it covered and will hopefully be able to help you, too, all thanks to Amazon Prime.

Keep in mind that my kid is only five months old, so these baskets are geared towards babies. I had a lot of fun putting them together with themes in mind, and hopefully, everything in there is something that will be used often.

For the Vintage Inspired Bunny Basket:

(Note- I got this for my baby's basket and the $8 book is quite small)
7 -  Bunny Ear Basket - $38 for 5

For the Mod Bunny Basket: 

1 - Bunny Swaddle - $12
2 - Black Bunny Hat - $9

For the Textures Basket:

1 - Palm Swaddle - $13
3 - Donkey Lovey - $13
4 - Lamb Crochet Hat - $11
7 - Open Top Basket - $14

Those baskets do total to quite a bit, so I picked and chose what things I wanted to put into my little guy's first Easter basket. That's why I tried to find amazing items for each and every part. I hope this points you in the direction of some memorable baskets!!

Happy Easter!

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Bullet Journaling: 1 Year of Experiance

Friday, February 23, 2018

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Okay, so I can honestly say this has BY FAR been the most effective journaling/to do/brain organization method I've ever used. It's hard for me to keep anything up for longer than two weeks, so the fact that I was able to maintain this for over a YEAR really means something.

Bullet Journaling (officially) is a concept developed by a guy named Ryder Carroll as a way to catalog his thoughts and keep on top of his tasks. It's a system of symbols and lists that makes it easy to see what you need to do at a glance.  If you want the best explanation you can possibly get about bullet journals, check out the website

Bullet journals basically need two things to make them function... an index and a key. Honestly I only use the index regularly. It's not even a revolutionary idea, but it has kinda changed my life. Or at least my list making habits. At the start of the notebook, you keep a couple of pages blank for your index. Then, as you add lists, you write the page number and the topic in your index.

After your index pages, you just dive into putting pretty much whatever you want into your journal. I usually have a few standard things that I include in every journal: a list of short-term goals and long-term goals, a monthly calendar to keep track of appointments, a habit tracker, and, most importantly, my daily log.

The daily log is where the key comes in. It's a hybrid of a to-do list, a day planner, and a journal, where you list off random thoughts and use bullet points to organize what kind of thought it is. So, I use just a dot for a task, and mark it off with an x when I complete it. Then any thought or event I want to remember I just use a dash for. Sometimes I make my key a little more complicated, but I always end up coming back to dashes because I can't remember the rest of the symbols, haha.
I was worried about how my bullet journal and daily log would work once I became a parent, but man is it handy to have around! I am able to write down all the little adorable (and not so adorable) things that happen so I can come back to them when I fill out calendars, baby books, etc. In fact, if you look in the collage below, the "holy poop!!" entry was the day I found out I was pregnant. :D I used it to religiously to track our feeding schedule when we were still getting the hang of that. Right now I have a page dedicated to what new foods we are trying and when, and I have another one that's our babsitting/day care schedule. I'd be lost without it, I swear.

There are a lot of other pages that I don't put in every volume but I loved having. Playlists are always great because I feel like music can take you back to a certain feeling so easily. Book lists are obviously something I support. One month I did a graphic novel list that I still go back to when I'm looking for suggestions. I folded up pages and taped them into the book to expand on ideas more than once, and last year I did my "inktober" drawings on sticky notes that I taped to the back page of my journal. I think random little pages like that are what take my journal from being just a planner to something more unique and game-changing.

Do I like bullet journaling? You could say that. Or you could say I love it, and it's become so routine to me it's like breathing, and without it I might die... but if you said that I'd call you dramatic, so let's just go with "I really like it." It's great for my forgetful self because I can look back on what I did last week. It's great for my unorganized self because it's an ongoing to do list that I keep in my pocket. It's great for my creative self because I'm constantly playing with fonts and layouts. And it's great for my office supply addiction because I now have a place to put all of the cute post its I buy. But maybe it's also not so great for my office supply addiction because now I have a reason to buy more. So that's it's one drawback... it makes you want to buy more sticky notes. If you can call that a drawback.

So if you want to create a bullet journal, and you're willing to risk feeding your office supply addiction, I say go for it. All you really need is a notebook and something to write with. 

Here are some links to get you started: - This is the end all be all guide to bullet journaling.
Field Notes - This is where I get all my notebooks. Obviously, you can use whatever kind of book you want... actually, this would probably be easier with a bigger notebook. I just am obsessed with the Field Notes brand and all of their amazing designs. Also, their books are durable, fit in your pocket, and come with grid paper. See why they're my favorite?
Bullseye's Playground at Target - The place that affordably feeds my office supply addiction. 
Pinterest Board - Just a collection of cute ideas. There are so many creative people out there!

Go forth and journal!
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DIY Shoelace Valentines

Sunday, February 11, 2018

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These Valentines are a cute, practical, affordable DIY that your kids can help you make! They were actually born with the idea of using the Proclaimers song "I'm gonna be" (oh, I would walk 500 miles... yeah, good luck getting that out of your head now.) and evolved from there.

Heavy paper (I used watercolor paper but a heavy cardstock would work)
Paintbrush, Scissors, Tape

Step one: Cut your cardstock. Really, this can be whatever size works best for your paper, as long as it turns out to be an "I" shape. I cut mine to 3x4" with the divets a half inch in, and an inch from the bottom and the top.

Step two: Paint your cards. I painted simple layers of strips, using acrylics that I watered down to get the different colors. While one side dries you might want to move on to the next step, then come back and do the other side.

Step three: Paint hearts on your shoelaces. Hearts can be VERY simple when they are this small. I just painted one line at an angle (there is half of a heart on the lace above) then painted a line angling the opposite way on the other side. As long as the bottoms touch and the tops don't, it will look like a heart.
If you're going to paint black laces as well, you'll probably have to put down a white base then paint your pink (or whatever color you pick) on top.

Step four: Write your messages. If freehanding makes you nervous, trying writing it out in pencil then tracing it with markers.
Some message options:
You make my heart race!
Valentine, I shoe do think you are great.
Valentine, I like shoe! (eeeh)
You are my sole mate.
We make a great pair.
I'm head over heels for you.
I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more... 

Step five: Tape the middle of the laces down on the back of the card, then each section around separately, being sure to leave enough to tie a bow on top! And that's it, you're done! Now those shoe are cute!

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