Category Archives: DIY

Monday Minions

It’s been raining every day since last Thursday. (Happy Summer!)

And every day Charlotte tells me that the song we’ve been singing hasn’t worked again. (“Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day. Charlotte and Caroline want to play!”)

Hopefully tomorrow Mother Nature will get the message. 

So, after renting Despicable Me 2 (or, as Charlotte calls it, “Spit-a-cul Me.”) from the library to help pass some of the time indoors, we were inspired to make our own minions!  

We just used some things I already had at home: an egg carton cut apart, some yellow paint, googly eyes, and markers. We painted the egg carton pieces first, and then waited a looooong time for them to mostly dry. All this rain is making the air nice ‘n humid, so we had to wait over 24 hours. Agony! 

Then we simply glued on some googly eyes, drew on some glasses (or some scribbles, whatever), and set them up in their makeshift egg carton minion mobile.

Ready, set, play!


Besides being yellow and roundish, they really don’t look much like minions….But 4 year-olds are easy to please. And my 4 year-old had fun making and then playing with our simple rainy day craft. Win!


Our Fairy Garden

My grandma, Mimi, has been creating a little fairy garden in her lawn beside her driveway for the past few years, and I’ve always thought it was just the cutest thing. Miniature furniture, mushrooms, maybe a gnome or two – count me IN. As a little girl, I was obsessed with anything tiny. I read The Borrowers and The Littles series, I played with Polly Pockets (and other tiny dolls), and I always wanted to find and save for last the tiniest grapes on the bunch. (That last one’s a little weird…) I’ve been waiting and hoping for the day Charlotte might express some interest in creating one of these adorable little gardens….

And that day has come! 

She brought it up last week, and Daddy and I delivered. We spent a small fortune at Earl May and Menards getting the supplies, but who cares when it comes out this adorable? Behold, our fairy garden:


It’s still missing our cute pair of ceramic bunnies that suffered a near causality as soon as we brought them home, but once the glue cures we’ll plop those right in there to play amongst the moss and mushrooms. 

Now, I have no clue how this will look after it finishes raining tonight, but half the fun is arranging it anyway. I don’t think we’ll mind having to do it again. 

And on that note, Happy Mother’s Day to all! 


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Charlotte’s Big Girl Room

For over three years, Charlotte’s room has been her “nursery,” looking like this (though usually not as tidy 🙂 ).


Her room was a labor of love with many homemade and crafted pieces, like her curtains, pretty much everything on her floating shelves, the lamp shade, and her wallpapered bookshelf.  We painted the room this happy green when we moved in and decided it was perfect for either a baby boy or girl when that time came. I still love this color (though it looks a little neon under our florescent lights at night). You can read more about her nursery and watch a video tour here


Even at three years old, she had been happily sleeping in her crib every night, and we had been happily letting her. 

But every child needs to grow up, and I suppose that includes Charlotte, too. So a couple of weeks ago, into a big bed she went! For the sake of money and space, we moved our futon from the guest room into Charlotte’s room, spruced it up with some new sheets and blankets, and tossed in the cute kid. She approves.


Without her crib, changing station (which she hasn’t needed in practically a year already!), and rocking chair, this room is no longer a nursery at all (*sob*). Here is Charlotte’s big girl room! 

Teal and orange bedding is from good old Target. And her horse decals were a birthday gift when she turned two.

Teal and orange bedding is from good old Target.

Charlotte was so excited to see the horse decals on the walls. They were a birthday gift when she turned two, and I had them sitting in her closet since then so she had totally forgotten all about them. I put them up when she was out with Daddy and Nana for lunch, so it was a cute surprise.

My childhood nightstand and dresser.

My childhood night stand and dresser.

The rocking corner turned reading and coloring corner.

The rocking corner turned reading and coloring corner.

The transition from her crib to bed went about as well as I could hope. For the first five or so nights she wanted us to lay with her and ended up staying awake very late because of that. Since then, though, everything’s been peachy! We realized that she still loves to rock with us for a couple of minutes, so if we do that, she’ll go right to bed for us. I don’t mind rocking her one bit. Even if her legs are practically hanging to the floor. 

Though a twin bed is the ideal size for this room, it’s been really nice having the full-sized futon for all of us to climb into when it’s time to read stories at night. Charlotte loves inviting us into to bed with her to read and snuggle. It’s been a sweet transition for us all.

I can’t wait to show you what we’re working on in the former guest room! 

Thumb print bunny-love

Let me just preface this post by saying that I just spent an hour and a half editing these photos instead of watching the season finale of The Bachelor. What is wrong with me??

Actually, this is only because we still don’t have a TV, so I have to watch all my shows the next day online. I can’t wait to see who Sean picks to marry and live happily ever after with. (Or just date for the next two months. Whatever.) No spoilers please!


Charlotte and I made a simple and cute Easter craft on Saturday. I pinned this picture last year right after Easter, and mentally demanded that I remember to try this with Charlotte next time.

Thanks to Pinterest (follow me!), I actually remembered, and now we have these cute little thumbprint bunnies to gaze at for the rest of the month.

BunnyPrintCollage(No, my wall is not fifty shades of yellow. It’s actually tan. This is just me playing around with my photo editing. Clearly, I need some practice.)

The link from Pinterest doesn’t lead to a tutorial but rather a series of pictures of other bunny-themed craft ideas. (At least, this is what I imagine since the website is actually written in another language). Point being, we had to figure this one out ourselves. Good thing it’s entirely self-explanatory.

Step one: Gather supplies. We used some washable craft paint, a single brush for painting fingers, and thick white paper.

Step two: Paint your toddler’s thumb and pointer finger.

Step three: Wipe the paint she just smeared all over her face.

Step four: Re-paint Toddler’s fingers, don’t let go of her arm, then press her fingers onto the page for her. (Thumbs for bodies, pointers for heads)

Repeat until you get at least one that looks like it could pass for a bunny. This may take awhile.

Step five: Wipe the paint off your toddler’s face.

Step six: Take off Toddler’s clothes (actually, this should be Step Zero), put her in a highchair, and give her the paint, a brush, and blank paper to keep her entertained while you hand-paint the ears and tails.

Step seven: Cut around your bunnies in a cute little shape, hole-punch, and string ’em up!

Step eight: Learn how to use your camera so you can take a much better picture than I did:

Ta-da!  I swear, this is cute in real life.


(Please excuse the fact that I have no idea how to decorate a shelf/mantel/table/any flat surface and just place random objects in spaces that look empty to me, hence the stick-ball.)

Step nine: Photograph Toddler looking adorable in her war paint:


PS: In first grade I had my birthday party at a ceramics studio. We painted these bunnies. I still think it’s totally adorable,  and I will keep it forever (and also probably force Charlotte to display it in her bedroom at some point).


Dinosaur Sensory Box

Last night I showed you this picture, which was a preview for a little something I whipped up to help keep Charlotte entertained for the remainder of this long, boring winter.


It’s a strange assortment of supplies, for sure. What on earth could someone make with dried pasta, beans, funnels, plastic dinosaurs, and a neon alphabet?

Well, as you probably guessed from the title, I made Charlotte a dinosaur-themed sensory box!


As you can see, I left out some of the supplies in that first picture just to make it harder for you to guess. 🙂 Here is what I used to make this box o’ fun:


The only thing I had on hand were the beans, so everything else had to be purchased for about $25. It’s not the cheapest project in the world, but I’ll be able to reuse all of this stuff if I ever want to change the theme of the box down the road. Plus, who couldn’t always use another storage bin?

If you are like me, then you are probably wondering what the heck is a sensory box and how did you come up with this idea?

Well, my friends, I owe every ounce of my “creativity” to the internet, where I can legally steal other people’s ideas and make them my own. Pinterest has been a major contributor to my thievery.

A while back, I pinned this link from Pink and Green Mama.


This blog is great because the Pink and Green Mama, MaryLea, is a former art teacher who has a gajillion fun and creative art and craft ideas for kids of all ages. I bookmarked her blog way back when Charlotte’s favorite extracurricular activity was drooling, knowing that I’d want to come back for some ideas later.

If you check out that post (by clicking on the image), you’ll see that MaryLea has made tons of sensory boxes for her kids. She’s made an apple picking box, an ice cream shop box, and even a wedding box. Basically, she’s awesome, and I really want to go over to her house to play with everything she’s made for her kids.

But the dinosaur box is all mine. (At least I think so.) Charlotte is loving dinosaurs these days, and she enjoys talking about dinosaur bones and teeth and eggs. So I tossed in some ziti and called them bones, threw in some beans and called them eggs, and placed a green bowl inside and told her it was a nest. And what do you know? She believed me!


So far, it has provided lots of uninterrupted play time today, which makes this Mama quite happy.


(I love Buddy in this picture.)


(Oh, and I didn’t end up using the neon alphabet because they have nothing to do with dinosaurs. I’m not sure why I bought them actually. Oh wait, they were a dollar. That’s why.)

As for potential mess-factor, I told Charlotte before she started playing that everything needs to stay inside the box. Obviously, since she is two, there have been a few spills from sloppy funnel play, but it’s nothing my dust buster can’t handle. So far she has not purposely dumped any rice on the floor, but if she does, I’ll just close up the box for awhile so she knows I mean business.

Because everything is more fun on video, here is a short movie of Charlotte enjoying her new sensory box. Enjoy!


*Update* After watching this video, I can see that there are plenty of other people who have made dinosaur sensory boxes and videos to showcase them. Thanks for bursting my bubble, Youtube! 🙂

The Great Pinterest Challenge

Mmm-mmm, Yummy yummy

A little bird told me….


…”Gee, thanks for making me!”

Oh, you’re welcome, Little Robin! The pleasure was all mine. Really, I like needle felting. Maybe one day soon I’ll write up a quick post with a few how-to tips. That way, if/when one of you comes to visit me, we can make adorable little felt creatures together.

But this post isn’t about my (ca-ute) little bird; it’s about quinoa!

A couple of months ago, I discovered one of my new favorite blogs, Iowa Girl Eats. And since then, I’ve been pinning recipes left and right. We’ve made two in the past week, and while our meals aren’t as beautifully photographed or garnished, our taste buds have been quite happy.

Tonight we made Thai Fried Quinoa. This is what it looks like when Iowa Girl (aka Kristin) makes it:


Looks lovely, right? I took one look at that picture and list of ingredients and probably said out loud, “I want to eat that,” because I did. The recipe calls for chicken broth, but due to my vegetarianism, we subbed in veggie broth.

Oh, and when I said that we made it, I meant Chris. I was at Walmart buying secret materials for a new winter’s-boring-so-let’s-keep-you-occupied gift for Charlotte, which will be debuting tomorrow.

Anyway, this is what it looks like when Chris makes it:


So it’s lacking the presentation, but the important thing is how it tasted. We let Charlotte be the test of that. Here is her verdict:



She kept repeating those words with gusto throughout the meal, as if Chris and I needed any convincing to agree with her. The portion we made was supposed to serve four, but the two and a half of us devoured it all easily. But since it’s made with such healthy ingredients, who cares? I love that about healthy food. We’ll definitely make this again!

Here is a sneak peak of my surprise for Charlotte tomorrow. Come back to see what I’ve made!

Hmmm, is it alphabet soup? Noodle ice cream?

Hmmm, is it alphabet soup? Noodle ice cream?

Pinterest Fail

A crafting blog this is not.

Sure, I enjoy crafts, and I do share some of them here. But this is mostly because I think it’s fun to take pictures of the stuff I make and put ’em on the internet. It’s called I’d Rather Do This Than Something That Actually Needs To Get Done Syndrome.

Today, school was cancelled due to snow and ice. Chris went off to work and Charlotte and I were stranded at home because our driveway hadn’t been shoveled. This afternoon, Charlotte gifted me with a three hour nap, and I was actually very productive. I graded 17 poetry book assignments and cleaned up our endlessly atrocious looking mess of a kitchen (I may be exaggerating).

Then Charlotte and I baked cookies. But we didn’t have eggs so I used an egg substitute powder. And we didn’t have butter so I used grapeseed oil. They turned out weird. But Charlotte liked them = success.

After all this productivity, I was still a little bored. This is when I decided to get crafty. I painted a little red lampshade green last weekend in an effort to phase out the burgundy/red from our living room. It looked like this:


I should have left it. It was fine.

But I get grand ideas from Pinterest and saw so many cute lampshades with fun geometric patterns, like this:

And my mind said: Oh I wanna do that!

However, I don’t have any geometric stencils. All I have is a paint pen and a straight edge. So I did this:


From far away it doesn’t look that bad…..Though it would be a stretch to say it looks good.

Close up you can see that my lines are wonky. As it turns out, I can’t make straight lines even when drawing against an edge. And the curve of this lamp shade makes my overlapping diamonds look awkward. It took me a surprisingly long time to draw those pathetically lackluster lines.

Since my lampshade looks nowhere near as cute as the inspiration I had pinned, I’m going to chalk this one up to a…


So, while Chris and Charlotte are off picking up some food, I’m here painting over my failed craft with the green paint again.

And the moral of the story is: This is not a crafting blog.


(But I’m still going to share my crafting (mis)adventures when I have them. Lucky you!)

Maybe I’ll try copying this technique next….  🙂 

Hand Print Bouquet

Hello and Happy Valentine’s Day!

I hope you all had a fab-u-lus day, whether you did any mushy V-day stuff or not. Usually, we don’t do too much of anything for Valentine’s Day, especially when it lands on a week day (which is like every year), but today Chris and I did get to escape for an hour to get coffee and share a scone before Chris had to go proctor an exam and I had to relieve the babysitter.

Charlotte has a wretched cold, so our time alone tonight was not so fun (Hello, Miserable Child), but we did manage to finish up Charlotte’s little gift to Daddy Dearest.

Behold, Charlotte’s hand print bouquet:


This was so easy to make, even though Charlotte did not want to cooperate with the paint or the hand-tracing. If you have popsicle sticks, some craft paint, construction paper, and glue, then you are good to go. We also happened to have that cute pink vase sitting in a closet unused and the stick ball (or whatever those things are called) hanging out in one of my useless decorative bowls. 🙂 It’s hard to see in the picture, but we have two with Charlotte’s hand stamped in pink paint, a couple with some gold sparkle, and a simple crayon scribble. Charlotte also wrote a note to her daddy on one of the backs.

Just a sweet and simple way to preserve Charlotte’s little hand prints.


I just want to high five all those cute little hands right there.

(I’m linking up with Bower Power today. It’s fun!)