Thanksgiving Play Trays

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

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One of the many challenges of Thanksgiving is trying to find a way to entertain the kids while the turkey is baking. Sure, there's the TV and their tablets, but even those will only hold their attention for so long. So I'm here to give you some activities you can pull out when your preschooler utters the dreaded phrase: "I'm booored."

I kept supplies limited for this, so hopefully you find you can put these trays together easily and quickly!

Tray One: Lego Recipe Cards

Supplies: Lego Recipe Cards (make your own or scroll to the bottom of this post for the printable .pdf),
2x2 Legos: 2 red, 2 yellow, and 2 blue, and 2x4 Legos: 2 red, 2 yellow, and 2 blue.

While you are baking in the kitchen, your little one can bake on the dining room table! These recipe cards are very simple and have a little bit of wiggle room for creativity. My kid wanted to do every single one! I have included blank cards as well, so they could also create their own recipes.

For some extra fun you can place orders for recipes, or ask your kids to name the dishes they have created. 

If you have more than one player you can have races to see who can finish the most cards in a certain amount of time, or who's recipe can create the taller structure.

Tray Two: Pumpkin Pie Counting Game

Supplies: brown paper, orange paper, scissors, glue, 1 die

To create your pie you will need two circles to trace (I just used two medium plates, one slightly smaller than the other.) Trace the larger circle onto the brown, and the smaller onto the orange. Glue these together. Once the glue is tried cut the pie into SIX pieces (unlike the normal eight.)

To play the game I put a plate out, then your child will roll the die to see how many pieces of pie the person will get. Try to encourage putting the pie back together after every turn. 

You can make the game more complex by having them roll until they serve the whole pie, or by having children take turns rolling to see who will get the most pieces in the end.

Tray Three: Turkey Feather Sensory Tray

Supplies: feathers and play-doh

To start out with I showed Ro a picture of a turkey and encouraged him to make his own fan. After he constructed a pretty cute one I let him stick the feathers in whatever pattern he wanted to.

Eventually leaves got involved, and he created a sculpture that could have doubled as a fine centerpiece for our Thanksgiving meal!

All of these activities had minimal setup and were open-ended enough to be fun while retaining some educational value. I think the turkey feather was our favorite, but how many times do you get to play with feathers and playdoh? Turns out to be a match made in heaven. But then again... those Lego recipies are something we could pull out whenever he wanted to play kitchen...

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My Tiny Room

Monday, October 4, 2021

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Last year I became obsessed with tiny houses. My main inspiration is honey.thistle on Instagram. I had never thought that tiny houses could be so trendy. That they could just be tiny versions of all of the furniture I wish I had. And when I had this realization... well it was something I needed to do. So I found a set of empty rooms online, called my sister and mother, and had a tiny house party.

This was my mood board for the project. I had a few base things I knew I wanted, then I let myself get creative with the rest of it. The lamp is a number one item on my wishlist, but it also over a thousand dollars. Now I have a tiny version that cost me about... 2 dollars?

I can't really give you a step by step of how I made this because I was really flying by the seat of my pants. I see it as more of a piece of art than a DIY.

What I can tell you is how we made our little house craft party work.  I bought these little rooms from Amazon, then I filled the table with a ton of supplies. I'm talking felt, straws, paper clips, foam, scissors, hot glue, popsicle sticks, fabric... it looked like a craft store had exploded on my table. I also did a ton of research (aka I had a pretty full board on Pinterest) of how other people had created their own tiny furniture. I printed out pictures and hung them up for inspiration.

I think one of the most interesting parts is figuring out what things are created with. Like that little side table is a piece of wood with some paper clips hot glued to the bottom of it. My tiny lamp is sanded dowel rods with a drop of hot glue at the top. This sputnik lamp is skewers hot glued together, and painted gold with hot glue as the bulbs.

Having people over to work on the houses together was so nice, because I don't think it's something I would have focused on if I had been by myself. I will warn you, we were working on our rooms for about 5 hours and all of us had to work alone afterwards to finish them. It was really cool to see the different personalities, though. My mom's was a classic farmhouse vibe, which even included a crocheted black and white rug. My sister, on the other hand, covered her whole back wall with bookshelves and make a ton of tiny eclectic decorations to add, making a truly magical space. I even made a cute little room with Ronan the next week, with rainbow walls and beads for little fairy lights!
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DIY "Sun"glasses Case

Monday, September 13, 2021


I can't believe this is my first time sharing a sewing pattern on this blog! I have been sewing all of my life, making purses and other small things. Recently I taught a lesson about sewing in my art class and I dreamed up this retro-inspired sunglasses case. I loved it so much that I decided to finish and photograph it to share on here!


Felt (Blue and Yellow)
Thread (Blue and Yellow)
Straight Pins


I have included a link to a .pdf pattern I created, but I thought it might be interesting to see how I designed this! First I sketched out my ideas, then I created a mock-up out of construction paper to make sure everything would work. When I was happy with how it looked I took apart my mock-up and used pieces of it as a pattern for the finished piece. Working with felt is easy because I didn't have to make any changes for hems and such!

Step one: Cut out your pattern.
 Download and cut out the pattern (link to .pdf  can be found at the end of this post.) Trace onto your felt using a marker, or pin the pattern directly to the felt. Cut out your pieces.

Step two: Sew on your circle.
You want half of your sun to be on the blue and half of it to be off. Sew around the part attached to the blue, and sew a line along the top of your blue fabric. I left a little bit of a hole so I actually have a secret pocket! 
I chose to also sew around the half of the sun that wasn't attached to anything to give it a more finished look.

Step Three: Sew on your rays!
Arrange the sun rays so they are evenly placed and look how you want them to. Pin them down, then fold the fabric in half to make sure everything looks right. You should be able to fold the sun over like a flap and have the rays look like they are coming out of it. See the picture above for an example of how they should be placed!

Step Five: Sew up your edges!
Fold your blue felt in half and sew a seam on both sides!

I love the way this turned out. It's so sweet and a little funky. It's a perfect container for all of my fun sunglasses!

Click here to download the .pdf pattern!

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Food Truck Book Basket

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

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I first picked food trucks as our book basket theme simply because it was a vehicle type that Ro hadn't obsessed over yet. But as we dove deeper into the books I realized that this theme was a marvelous way to introduce Ronan to a variety of foods from different cultures. Food, where we live, tends to be pizza,  hamburgers,  or hot dogs, so it was fun to read about falafel and shwarma! And the added bonus of everything having wheels kept my kid interested the whole time!

We actually had two activities for this book basket! For the first activity we just had some pretend fun with a Duplo truck we built and some food I printed out. I tried to include both food that was easily recognizable and some new food as well! I had him color the food so I could say "I want the yellow falafel." We took turns ordering and serving the food, and obviously pretending to eat it!

The second activity is something you can buy online! Adam and I are always on the hunt for age-appropriate games for Ronan that are enjoyable for the whole family. I had seen Frankie's Food Truck Fiasco before and considered buying it, so when I put together this basket I decided it was time. This game teaches shape matching and uses tongs to help develop little hand muscles! A round of this game also goes pretty quickly, which is a must-have when you are working with a short attention span! The added bonus of having a board book you can also purchase (or check out from your library!) is so nice. I was able to introduce him to the concepts of the game without forcing him to listen to the instructions!

Now on to my favorite part: books! As always I curated this collection to include the best stories with the yummiest looking food and the most beautiful illustrations. Links for the books are below the pictures!


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Ten Things

Monday, August 30, 2021

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I love the quilts that Rachel Denbow of Smile and Wave makes. She just chooses the best colors and patterns. And she also dyes fabric naturally, which is a dream of mine!

Home Work is my current favorite show. Every single episode has some detail that I absolutely love. I think my favorite might be the peep-hole eyes painting. Or maybe the ottoman that doubles as a ball pit? A house that is filled with antiques but also created for kids to enjoy is basically the pennicle of design for me!

I think I would like to try my hand at making fruit leathers like this recipe from Lil Luna. Have you ever made anything like this? How did it turn out?

This Leather Cardholder DIY Kit from Lifearrow on Etsy is so cute! I'm into the thought of making my own leather item without having to learn a whole new skill.

Instagram keeps showing me this giant ice cream cone planter and honestly I have perfect spot picked out for it. I'm just going to have to put it on my Christmas list!

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What YA Readin? Chapter Six: Maggie Steifvater - Human or Ethereal Being

Saturday, August 28, 2021

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This episode focuses on one of our favorite authors, Maggie Stiefvater!

You can listen to this episode on

Maggie Stiefvater Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter

YA Books by Maggie Stifvater:

The Raven Cycle

Wolves of Mercy Falls (Shiver, etc)


The Dream Trilogy (Call Down the Hawk)

Swamp Thing: Twin Branches

All the Crooked Saints

The Scorpio Races

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Any Way the Wind Blows by Rainbow Rowell

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Pretty Tile Matching Game

Monday, August 16, 2021

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I saw the game Azul and instantly fell in love with what I thought I was: a beautifully designed matching game that would be great to play with our three-year-old. Turns out it's a lot more complicated than that, offering much more gameplay and a multiplayer aspect... so great for Adam and I, not great for our three-year-old.

But I couldn't get the idea of a colorful, artistic, well-designed, and unique matching tile game out of my head. In a perfect world, I would have created hand-crafted ceramic tiles with beautiful vibrant glazes, fired in my own kiln, because how pretty would that have been? But I limited myself to the supplies I had on hand and created them out of watercolor paper and sticky back foam. 

Thick Paper (I used water color paper)
Sticky Back Foam in various colors

Step One: Create your patterns.
I drew my patterns out on 2x2in squares of grid paper, then cut them out to be traced. To make things easier, label the pieces with color and how many you need to cut out.

I find that straight lines are always easier to cut out than curves, and you can make a leaf look beautiful just by adding tones to it. The simpler the design, the less trouble you will have putting it together.

Step Two: Trace your patterns and cut them out.
Trace your pattern pieces onto the back of your sticky back foam. To simplify things trace everything you need to cut out at one time. Sometimes you can nestle triangles into the gaps of each other and make cutting so much easier!

Step Three: Peel and stick your foam pieces.
This step is both the simplest and the most frustrating. Trying to place tiny stickers symmetrically can be a bit of a pain. But don't sweat little mistakes, they won't be noticeable in the end.

Feel free to copy my designs if you don't feel like creating your own! 

I was set on these looking more like art than a game. And while I didn't get the hand-glazed tiles of my dreams, I kind of love the 3D effect from using the foam. It looks clean, bright, and very poke-able. Which is a selling point for both me and my three year old. 
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Our Tricky Lemonade Stand

Monday, July 19, 2021

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We have all seen a lemonade stand. Adorable, sweet, tart, cheap. All around a good time. But you know what is better than a boring old cute lemonade stand?

A tricky lemonade stand!

We used some simple methods to add magic to the mundane. And maybe a little bit of gross to the mundane as well. What can I say? It's tricky!

Prep for this was easy, but it is something you have to plan ahead for. For our "tricky" ice cubes we filled our ice trays with gummi worms before we added the water. I have heard that boiling water will freeze clearer (our cubes were almost too smoky to see the worms) but I'm not sure what that would do to the candy.

Ronan was able to help with every part of this lemonade stand (being that it was his and all) and that included everything we prepped. He helped me put the worms in for the ice cubes, get them in and out of the freezer, and even used the tongs to put them into the customers glasses. Actually, I think using the tongs might have been his favorite part!

Let's talk about the real star of this stand: color changing lemonade. This recipe is an old library secret that we have used for years to add a little magic to our programs. The trick? Put a little food coloring at the bottom of the cup. So simple, but so genius. As soon as any liquid hits the bottom it will change color. We added our food coloring the night before. The cups I chose had a little space at the bottom when they stacked, so we could add the food coloring and then store them stacked up without making a mess. 

The reactions to the color changing lemonade were priceless. Ro and I had a bit of an act going on where I would ask him what color the lemonade was, and when he responded with "Yellow!" I would say "Are you sure?" and then pour the glass. Even the adults were dumbfounded for a second!

I am including a link to a .pdf of some signs that say "the Tricky Lemonade Stand." Feel free to print them out and color them for your own signs, and please use our ideas to make your own stand a little bit tricky! This idea might be my favorite thing we've done all summer. It's a perfect way to add some magic to a hot day!

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What YA Readin? Episode 5: Teens in... Spaaace!

Friday, July 16, 2021

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 We are fans of space. Like, as a family. Space fans. So obviously Bre and I were going to do a deep dive into young adult science fiction. In this episode, we discuss The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James and Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Bre also shares The Disasters by M.K. England and Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre, while Jes speaks of her love for Skyward by Brandon Sanderson and Crownchasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer.

Listen to this podcast on!

If you like this theme and would like to read more books about teens in space check out our list on Teens... In Spaaace!

A list of links to things we talk about:

StargateStar WarsDoctor WhoStar Trek

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

Supernatural, Grimm, NCIS, True Blood

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Disasters by M. K. EnglandHonor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre
Crownchasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer
The Silence of Bones by June Hur
The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman
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Wanderlust Puzzle

Monday, July 12, 2021

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I have a new puzzle template to share with you guys! This puzzle's design was inspired by sunrises above the clouds and 1970's vibes. We haven't been on a vacation since Ronan was born and I am feeling it. Right now it's not really feasible for us to take a big trip involving airplanes and hotels and passports, so I'm satisfying my wanderlust in little ways.

As always the puzzle itself is made out of recycled cardboard and paint. The curves were a little annoying to cut out with an Exacto, but I love the finished result. If you want to make a puzzle for yourself feel free to print out the template below!

If you like this puzzle I also have templates for a leaf puzzle and a camping puzzle available! I go a little more in-depth about the creation of the puzzles on the other two posts, so if you want to create your own out of cardboard you should definitely go check them out!
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Magnet Dominos DIY

Monday, July 5, 2021

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We are finally to the point where Ro has the attention span and skills required to play simple tabletop games. It's pretty much the best thing ever. One of the very first games we got him into was dominos. But normal dominos was still a little complicated for our attention span.

So I figured I had two problems to fix: make it simple and make it something we could walk away from and come back to later. For the first problem, the solution was pretty easy: colors. I had seen many bloggers use paint to make some beautiful dominos (like here and here.) The second problem was fixed as soon as we got our new/old set of lockers... magnets! (Why didn't I think of them before? Because our fridge isn't magnetic. Who does that!? Where am I supposed to put Ro's beautiful creations?) The process after the idea was pretty straightforward.

I like to be thrifty whenever possible, so this DIY is made of recycled materials. Cute AND it helps save the planet? That's my jam.

thin cardboard boxes (cereal, mac and cheese, etc)
magnets (on Amazon)

Step One: Cut up your cardboard.
Cut your cardboard into rectangles that are the same size (mine are about 1 1/2 in by 3 in). If you are using thin cardboard you should be able to use normal scissors. If you use the same amount of colors as me you will need 21 rectangles to make a full set.

Step Two: Paint your dominos.
I used 5 paint colors (pink, yellow, blue, white, green) and then let one color be the color of the cardboard, so in total I had six colors. Every color should have 1 whole color piece and 5 half color pieces. So, for example, blue will have blue/blue, blue/pink, blue/yellow, blue/white, blue/green, and blue/blank. When you are done painting set them aside to dry.

Step Three: Add magnets.
Magnets usually come with a sticky side. Cut your magnets to be smaller than the domino and attach it to the back side. Then, as long as the paint is dry, they are ready to be played with!

These dominos are so fun and colorful that I put them all in a mesh drawstring bag and used a magnet hook on the side of the lockers so they would be available whenever we wanted to play. We've gotten them out a few times to play a few rounds, but we have also used them to create shapes, or just to make a giant color matching train!

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