Baked Play Dough Ornaments

These could possibly rank as the easiest Christmas ornaments for kids to make almost entirely themselves.  My kids had a blast rolling these out.  My two-year-old tried the dough a few times and was disappointed, but was still proud of her final products.  Even on the tree, these look good enough to eat…if you’re two!
What you need:
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup water
Christmas cookie cutters
a few birthday candles
yarn or ribbon
Age: 2 and up
What to do:
  1. Mix flour, salt and water on medium until dough is of even consistency.
  2. Lightly flour work surface.
  3. Help kids roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick.
  4. Give them cookie cutters and show them how to press all the way to the bottom of dough.
  5. Help move play dough shapes to ungreased cookie sheet.
  6. Using the end of a birthday candle or straw, help kids make holes for hanging the ornaments at the top of each shape.
  7. Bake at 200 degrees for 2 hours.
  8. Allow to cool.
  9. Tie yarn or ribbon on each ornament to hang.
  10. Remind your toddler these don’t taste like cookies!

Family Tree of Thanks

Some of you friends may remember this from last year, and the Family Tree of Thanks is out again!

November has already begun, so my mind is now on Thanksgiving! The kids and I were talking about what we are thankful for and I thought it would be fun to display those “thanks” for the month. I honestly thought of this idea on my own and then happened to see something similar on the Disney “Family Fun” website – that one is great too but we used different supplies and will be adding our “thanks” every day. Have fun and make whatever you’d like of it! We have decided to have ours displayed on our dining room table all month.

  • Autumn colored card stock paper (enough for 24 leaves)
  • 24 safety pins
  • Branches from the yard, with plenty of little spots for the leaves to hang
  • A large vase, strong enough to hold the branches
  • Draw and cut out several leaves (same kind or different, whatever you choose). I made a couple of template leaves so the kids could trace them. Cut the leaves out – depending on the ages, you might be doing all of the cutting. We made 24 leaves so that we could have one for every day before Thanksgiving. A note on paper: craft stores like Michael’s and JoAnn Fabrics, have packets of “scrap”, multicolored, card stock that come in very handy for projects like these.
  • Poke a safety pin at the stem of each leaf (also an adult’s job)
  • Collect a branch or two from outside that would fit your table or shelf (make sure there are plenty of little branches to hang the leaves from)
  • Find a solid vase to set the branches in.
  • Each day, write down something that the kids are thankful for. OR you could ask each of your children what they are thankful for and make a list…each day, write one of those things down and take turns so each child is contributing (write their name on the back of that leaf).
Sidenote: to skip the cardstock paper, you could print leaf printables from this site:  Our kids enjoy choosing which leaf they want to color on and draw something they are thankful for each day. 

Operation Christmas Child

For many years our church has packed boxes for Operation Christmas Child.  The mission of this Christian organization is to share God’s love by shipping / flying / trucking / snowmobiling / pedaling / paddling, etc…boxes of Christmas toys and treats and joy to children in need in the remotest corners of the earth.  To give your children an idea of where their boxes might go and who will receive them, watch this video of children  receiving their Christmas boxes in Papa New Guniea and this video of children receiving their boxes in Ukraine.  And keep a kleenex box handy.  Find drop off locations in your area by typing in your zip codehere.  (Friends in our area, our closest drop-off location is the KTIS radio station across from Northwestern College.) You can download all the packing labels you need for your gift box that specify boy or girl and their age here. And don’t forget to include a picture of your child or your whole family and a personal note with your mailing address…we have heard of people getting letters back from the child who received their box!  Collection week is November 12-19, so there is still time!

A couple years ago, I helped my boys pack a box for a boy their age and my girls pack one for a girl their age.  This year they all begged to pack their own boxes.  So we have four.

We talk often about ways we can share what we have to help others who do not have.  This is such a tangible and joyful way to encourage our children to give.  We went as a family to Target and Dollar Tree for items like toothpaste, toothbrushes, hair clips and headbands, race cars, nerf balls, crayons, etc.  But I also asked each of our kids to pick out at least one special toy that they already own that they would like to give to a child who might not normally receive any Christmas presents.  It is so beautiful to see the giving hearts of young children.  One of my daughters could not even close her box because she was trying to stuff in so many of her stuffed animals.  So she dispersed them between the boxes.  We also had one who needed encouragement to find just one toy to give away, but even so it is a rewarding activity for everyone.  I know I can fall under either of those categories depending on the day.  The purpose is not to guilt ourselves or our children into charitable deeds, but to encourage a generous spirit.

C.S. Lewis writes, 

I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare…If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, …they are too small.  There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditures excludes them.

This is radical and challenging to me and my family.  There are no templates for the right amount of giving.  What we do know is that the more we allow ourselves a taste of this joy, the more acute our desire for giving will become.

Have fun packing, and be sure to get your boxes to your nearest drop-off site by November 19!

Girls’ Shared Bedroom: Flower Theme

This summer we transitioned our girls, now 4 and almost 3, from their toddler beds to twin beds.  We found a sweet deal on craigslist for some bunks, (here’s what they looked like when we got them):

…and after a new paint job, we liked that they look good unbunked too.  For now this is how we will keep them.

I have gotten so many kids’ room ideas from just being at other friends’ houses, so my purpose in sharing what we have done here is to share inspiration to make our kids’ rooms fun and unique to our unique kids!

After we painted the beds, I found cute bedding my oldest daughter and I liked in pink.

The problem was that my 2 1/2-year-old kept reminding me she likes PURPLE.  At first I tried ignoring her.  But then I decided she should probably have a say this was HER room too! So I began to enjoy the process of making pink and purple work together…

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The bedding is Pottery Barn Kids Daisy Garden quilts in pink and purple.  These do occasionally show up used on ebay and craigslist for better deals.  What can I say…I am a sucker for cute quilts.  I should probably learn how to make them myself someday.

This happens to be the same pattern I used for their crib bedding.  I cut the long ends off one of their old crib skits to make valances for the window…
…and the closet.
I really like having curtains to close up our closet instead of the unkidfriendly sliding wooden doors that often fell off their tracks!

Next we put up more clothespin art display boards as we have shown before….

My girls LOVE hanging up their artwork, cards from family, or anything they think is special.  The big clothespins, the wooden letters and flower and butterfly wooden decals can be found at any Joann’s Craft store.  I found links for the clothespins and big letters here, and here.  The paint colors I used were called “Hibiscus” in the Ace Hardware brand paint for the dark pink wall, then “Blushing Bride” and “Woodland Hills Green” from Benjamin Moore for my pink and green striped wall.  I’ll have to get back on the purple because I mixed it myself.

My favorite part of their room is possibly the tea party station.


But they also like their dollhouse and baby doll corner…

where they have a bed for every baby.

This mirror came from my grandparents’ house, and makes an elaborate place to see our reflections.

It was a dusty gold, but I taped up the mirror and spray-painted the frame in white for a more girlie-antique look.

I learned how to paint vertical stripes with straight edges from a Family Handyman article…painter’s tape sealed by pressing a tennis ball on each edge length!  And it works on textured walls too…that’s what we have! For our green striped wall, we used the “Woodland Hills Green”, “Blushing Bride” plain white from other paint jobs, purple again, as well as the blue of “Neah Bay” from Ace Hardware brand.   My girls and I are pleased with how our mirror and stripes turned out.


Mostly I am pleased that they seem to enjoy their space designed just for them as they play in their room together.

Pumpkin Spice Bars

Fall is upon us, friends.  We aren’t blogging much anymore.  But we wanted to leave you with one of our favorite fall treats.  I usually make them on a jelly roll pan, but the recipe also works for cupcakes.  The recipe is tweaked from the Betty Crocker Cookbook Bridal Edition.  Instead of the little drizzle of icing on top from the original recipe, I spread out one recipe of cream cheese frosting over the top. Sometimes I add raisins or craisins and walnuts, but they are great plain too!  My daughter just recently requested these for her 5th birthday.  And she was not disappointed.


for bars:
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
1 15-oz. can pumpkin
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 cup raisins or craisins (optional)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

for Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter
2-3 tsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

candy pumpkins
candy corn

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease jelly roll pan (15.5” x 10.5” x 1”) or line one muffin pan with muffin papers.
2. Beat eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin in mixing bowl until smooth. 
3. Stir in flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ginger, and cloves.
4.  Stir in raisins and nuts if desired.
5. Bake 12-20 minutes for a jelly roll pan, until center is no longer gooey, but not overdone.  For cupcakes, bake 12-16 minutes until toothpick inserted in center of one cupcake comes out clean.
6. Cool completely.
7. Make cream cheese frosting by beating together butter, vanilla, cream cheese until smooth.  Then gradually add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time.
8. Spread over bars or cupcakes.
9. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve plain or top with pumpkin candy or candy corn!

Tervis Tumbler WINNERS

And the WINNERS of the lovely Tervis Tumblers are…………….


…………… &………………

…………Molly G!!!

Thanks to everyone who now follows us on pinterest.  We will continue pinning and posting as we feel inspired.

Heidi and Molly, please email us your address info and we’ll get those in the mail to you! (

FREE Giveaway: Tervis Tumblers

So after Lindsey posted her favorite cups ever a while back, Tervis sent us a couple of their tumblers to raffle off!  Tervis has thousands of designs and choices – they are such good quality cups and they have a lifetime guarantee!

We would like to offer them as raffle giveaway prizes this week.  Notice our new “Follow Me on Pinterest” button on our upper right sidebar?  If you will just give it a click and then leave us a comment on this post, we will enter your name in our drawing for Friday!  Your comment can be anything you’d like: maybe share your favorite post or topic you’d be interested in us posting about.  And check out our pinterest boards!  Hopefully the way we have arranged them is easy and accessible to you when you need them.  Thanks so much, and we will pick our giveaway winner on Friday!

Kid-Friendly Pesto Cream Cheese Dip

We currently have an abundance of basil in our garden.  This was an attempt to make use of the abundance.  Just went with the Dill Dip recipe from Joy of Cooking, but switched out the dill for pesto and added minced garlic.  We have been loving it with crackers and veggies for lunches.

8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup sour cream (or yogurt for a healthier alternative)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup basil, processed in food processor
2 cloves garlic, minced


  1. In electric mixer, cream together cream cheese and sour cream.  
  2. Add salt.  
  3. Mince 6-8 handfuls fresh basil leaves in food processor to make pesto.  
  4. Mince garlic.  
  5. Mix in basil and garlic to cream mixture.
  6. Dip with veggies and crackers.

Handprint Family Tree

For a long while now, I have been pondering how to get my kids’ handprints on our walls…besides just the normal peanut butter and jelly ones.  I had been thinking a tree would work…perhaps inspired by all the preschool art we have done.  I googled all sorts of tree images.  You could buy a precut laminate sticker like this one for your wall for large amounts of $$$, or you could just pencil in, brush over and see what happens…

What you need:
wall space
pencil (for sketching outline of tree branches)
different colors of paint
large brush
lots of hands

After sketching and painting the tree with limbs in desired spot, paint each child’s hand with decided color.  Help child make their handprint by asking them to hold their hand flat while you help them press it to the wall at different angles a number of times.  If they allow you, try to press each fingertip and the outline of their hand for more detail.  In attempt to minimize the mess, we did right hands, washed up in the sink, and then left hands.  But there is no right order.

This project was not about perfection, but about making a memory.

I pulled out many cans of bright colored paints from various other projects over the years, and this is what we came up with.  But you could easily buy the small little dollar bottles of acrylic paint at a craft store.  And don’t forget to paint your name down the family tree, and the date you finished this project or even the date your family was established.   My kids each had their own color so we can tell whose prints are whose.  Now they often walk down this hallway and give themselves or whoever else a high-five over the handprint. 🙂
         Whether we are ready or not, our children’s handprints will not fit in the prints we make with them today for very long.  My hope for my babies is that they will continue leaving their growing handprints of love and compassion wherever their journey may take them.  And that is the dramatic and sentimental encouragement from one parent to another to make art of our babies’ handprints today so we can show them how far they have come tomorrow.

DIY Lawn Game: Cornhole (or Mousehole)

Looking for a relatively easy, family-friendly lawn game?  Cornhole (or Bean Bag Toss) is a great option!  We call ours “Mousehole” 🙂 as you can see from the photos.  This game consists of two boards with a hole in each one, and then beanbags (of 2 different colors) to toss into the holes.  It is really fun!  My husband built these in a matter of a few hours and I spent a few hours painting the design.  We thought we were pretty clever making the hole one of the ears – but I am sure you can come up with many other fun designs or ideas that would suit your family!

There are many ways to build these – here is a great site that takes you through each