Jul 132017


Borax SnowflakeI did the neatest Christmas craft project with my 6 year old this week.  We made a snowflake out of pipe cleaners and Borax. Here is a direct link to the printable instructions for making a Borax snowflake.


    • pipe cleaner
    • string
    • boiling water
    • wide mouth jar
    • Borax
    • pencil
    • blue food coloring (optional)


The first step is to cut a pipe cleaner into 3 pieces.  Then twist them together in the middle to form a 6-pointed figure.

Borax Snowflake

Next, take string and wind it around each of the points of the pipe cleaner. Leave a long piece at the end.

Borax Snowflake

Tie the end of the string to a pencil.

Borax Snowflake

Next, get your wide mouth jar.

Borax Snowflake

and your Borax.

Borax Snowflake

Pour 1 cup of boiling water into the jar. Add 3 tablespoons of Borax and stir.

Borax Snowflake

Add a couple of drops of blue food coloring if desired.

Borax Snowflake

Lower ornament into the jar.

Borax Snowflake


Borax Snowflake


Leave ornament in Borax solution overnight. Remove from solution and you will have a beautiful snowflake covered with crystals.

Borax Snowflake


Feb 112017

Disclosure: I received Thin Stix by Kwik Stix to review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Reality of Art Projects

“Mommy, can we paint?”

In my head –  “Ugh.  Not paint. I will have to find newspaper for the table. And where did I put those shirts we were using for smocks? And then there’s the wet paint on everyone’s hands.”

What I say –  “Wouldn’t you rather play outside? Or color with crayons?”

“No, we want to paint.”

In my head – “I really should let them. Kids should be allowed to experiment with different art media. It’s ok if they make a mess. If they were in school, I bet they’d have more chances to paint.”

“OK, Give me a few minutes to get everything set up.”

15 minutes later…

“Everything’s ready. You can paint now.”

5 minutes later…

“Thanks Mommy! Do you like my picture? We’re going to play outside now.”


Art Time

Does anything about my story sound familiar? I want my kids to have fun doing art projects. I want to be a “Yes” mom. But extra work and extra mess goes against my nature. Sometimes I just say yes and deal with the mess. But other times I just say no. Not now. And that’s ok too. However, I have found a solution to those times when the kids want to paint, but I don’t want the mess..

Thin Stix by Kwik Stix

Thin stix

The solution is Kwik Stix! Kwik Stix are tempera paints in a stick. There are no brushes to clean and no liquid paint to spill. There is no need for smocks. It dries in 90 seconds so there’s no running, smearing or smudging.

I received a package of Thin Stix by Kwik Stix to review. I opened them up and gathered my review team. They immediately went to work creating a variety of pictures.

The paint goes on smoothly and evenly. The colors are vibrant and the stix are easy to use. You just twist up more when needed, like chapstick.

Is it painting? Technically, no. But it is art.

These are great for school projects like posters. It is so much easier to write letters with Thin Stix than a paint brush.

Interested in trying Kwik Stix? You can purchase at Amazon.com and select retailers such as Books A Million and Target.

Thin Stix Art Gallery

Abstract Art by Lizzie, age 10

Flower by Anna, age 16

Rainbow by Andrew, age 6

Bob and Larry by Andrew, age 6

Sunny scene by Anna, age 16


 Posted by at 7:26 pm  Tagged with:
Nov 292015

Kwik Stix Logo Christmas

I’m sure I’m not alone. I want my children to be creative and have opportunities to be artistic. But finding time to do art projects with my younger ones is tough. And letting them have free access to paint? No way.

So most of their art consists of coloring with crayons or colored pencils. I’m not saying that I feel guilty about that, but well, maybe a little.

Kwik Stix 12 packThat’s why I jumped at the chance to review the new Kwik Stix Solid Tempera Paint. It’s tempera paint without the mess. No liquid to spill. No paint brushes to clean. Sign me up!

Kwik Stix are about the size of a glue stick. They’re easy to use and dry in 90 seconds. The colors are bright and the coverage is good. While it’s not the same as painting, it does have a different feel than coloring with crayons. I think they will be especially handy for making posters for school projects.

Kwik Stix would also make great stocking stuffers. They are available directly from The Pencil Grip, Inc. and from Amazon.com. Be sure to enter the giveaway at the end of this post.

My two youngest children, Lizzie and Andrew (9 and almost 5) were very excited to try out Kwik Stix. And yes, they are wearing pajamas.


Here are their completed creations.

Kwik Stix artwork 1


Green hillside

Green hillside

Sunny day

Sunny day



***Disclosure: I received a free package of Kwik Stix in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Dec 062013

I love making decorations for Christmas. But it’s hard to spend extra money on craft supplies at Christmas with an already stretched budget. (Really, I SHOULD think about Christmas crafting all year long, but I never do.)

But if your house is anything like ours, you probably receive tons of catalogs this time of year. Why not use them for something instead of throwing them away?

How to Make Catalog Christmas Trees

This is a great project to use some of those catalogs. They do need to be fairly thick to make a full enough tree.

Here’s how you do it.

1. Fold the page down from the top corner, making the top even with the center of the catalog.



2. Repeat for every page in the catalog.



3. Fold  page in half again making a narrower triangle.





4. Repeat for every page.

5. Tuck end inside of fold.


6. Crease and repeat for every page.



7. Stand up and fluff it out. Here’s our finished project spray painted gold.

Catalog Christmas Trees

I’d like to make a whole “forest” of different sized trees for my mantle!

Jul 152013

I don’t know if this is true in every house, but I get asked at least 5 times a day, “What’s for dinner?” (Actually around here, we usually say supper…)

I get really tired of answering that question. That’s because

I often don’t know,

People grumble when they hear the answer, and

I don’t like unnecessary interruptions.

I found a neat idea on Pinterest, that will take take of some of the “What’s for dinner?” problem.

Isn’t it cute?

I happened to have a very similar frame that I had purchased for a different purpose. So all I needed was scrapbooking paper. (If you’re a scrapbooker, you could use scraps, but I am not.)

I waited for a sale on paper at Michael’s and bought 3 sheets of 12×12 paper for $0.20 each. Obviously, I decided not to use 7 different patterns. I actually decided on 1 pattern and have an extra sheet of paper that I did not use that I will probably give to my daughter who does scrapbook. The openings on my frame are each 4X6 inches, so I cut 6 pieces out of 1 sheet with no waste.

I am not crazy about the lettering on the original project, so I decided to write with black marker on my paper. But the names of the days aren’t nearly as visible as I had hoped, so I might redo it.

P1110063I also decided to make mine horizontal because I think that will be easier to write on and it fit the space better.

I’m hoping that having my menu board up will help me as I start to plan monthly menus again. This is a habit that I let slide a year or more ago, and we have really noticed an increase in our food spending. I have been making more frequent trips to the store and while I’m there I go ahead and pick up x, y, and z. Hopefully being more disciplined to plan menus and grocery shop less frequently will help us to cut our food spending back again.


Pinterest Menu CollageThis is my 2nd completed Pinterest project. (Not including recipes.) Have you seen my fireplace makeover? Do you use Pinterest? Be sure to follow me!

Jun 052013


It’s something that I both love and hate.

I love it because there are such neat ideas on there. Yummy recipes, fun kid activities, decorating, crafts, lesson plans, and more. It’s amazing how many creative people there are.

On the other hand, it can be a time sucker and addictive. Plus there are the feelings of guilt that arise when you start doing too much comparing of yourself, your home, your kids, and your organizational ability to everyone else’s.

b3d7c22c8de51ec69fa7e2afbfdd4a81So my Pinterest use is sporadic. I have found some good recipes there but I really hadn’t attempted any big Pinterest projects….until last week.
I wanted to do something about my brick fireplace and brass screen. I had thought of painting the bricks white, but then I stumbled on this.

It looked a lot like my current set up. Well, I don’t have those great shelves or the wooden mantel. Just the brick and the brass. So I decided to go for it.

First, here is my fireplace, red brick, brass screen, and bumper pads.



The first step was to remove the screen. That was easier said than done. I couldn’t even figure out how to open the doors for a while! (Needless to say, we don’t use this fireplace for actual fires.)

When I got the doors open I was greeted with this.


Yes, that is indeed the decayed remains of a toad skeleton. How, when, and why it chose to get in our fireplace remains a mystery.

OK. Fireplace screen removed and taken outside. (This was the part of the instructions on the website that I found insane. They actually left the screen in and taped the brick and made a giant bubble and spray painted in the house! That is crazy and completely unnecessary.)


Protect glass with painter’s tape. Spray with high heat black spray paint.


Now the inside. I mixed 1 part paint (just regular latex trim paint that I had on hand) with 3 parts of water. I used an old brush with a rag and started painting.

It was pretty drippy. I am a notoriously messy painter and this was worse than usual. I kept the rag handy to keep the paint from running down the bricks too much.



It took about an hour total. I let the paint dry for a couple of hours and reinstalled the screen.


It’s a pretty big change isn’t it?

Overall, I’m pleased with the results. The bricks are a little bit messier than I anticipated. The rougher your bricks, the more unevenly the white wash will stick to it.

Overall, I’d give my first Pinterest project an A-.



Not bad for the cost of 1 can of spray paint!

So what about you? Do you Pinterest? Do you actually DO any of the projects you find there?

May 292009

I don’t have a schoolroom. Most of the time I don’t really want one. I like for our school to be just another part of our home. Right now my children do their seatwork in the dining room and the adjoining kitchen. The only reason that I am somewhat envious of those who have schoolrooms is their ability to keep school in one room and not have the rest of the house looking like a school.

This is the baker’s rack in the corner of my dining room. I keep it relatively neat and organized, but when we have guests over I would like it to look less schoolish. I saw on someone else’s blog (that I can’t find now) how she had covered cereal boxes with fabric and was using them to store workbooks.

That gave me an idea. If I put pretty fabric around boxes, then my shelves wouldn’t look quite so schoolish. So, I decided to give it a try.

Obtain an empty cereal box (warehouse club size).

On the short side, measure 3 inches from the bottom of the box.

Draw a line across the front to mark 3″.

Next, draw a diagonal one the longer side of the box from the previous line to the top of the box. Repeat on the other side and then cut along the lines.

Here’s the box after cutting off the top flaps, and along both the diagonal lines as well as the front line.

Cut the fabric wide enough to cover the back and sides with about an inch of fabric to overlap onto the front.

Cut the fabric long enough to cover the back and front of the box with enough extra to overlap about an inch.

I used every crafter’s favorite, Tacky Glue, on the back of the box. Set the box down on the fabric and use a ruler to smooth the fabric.

Put glue on one side of the box and pull the fabric over it. Next smooth with the ruler as with the back. Repeat with other side.

Put glue inside the box and fold over the cloth to the inside.

Cut 2 slits in the fabric to separate the front from the sides.

Fold the remaining triangle of fabric across the side, into the middle of the box, like wrapping a gift.

A close-up of the way the fabric overlaps on the side.

Glue the lower side fabric onto the front.

Repeat for other side. Then glue the front fabric on, overlapping into the box.

fabric covered magazine holder

Here’s the back of the finished box.

fabric covered magazine holder

Here’s the side of my finished box.

Will somebody please comb my hair?

fabric covered magazine holder

Here’s my new box on my shelf. I like the way it turned out. Now I just need to make some more. One thing to note, the large cereal box is not as deep as I need because I want boxes that will hold all my binders. I will be on the lookout for cardboard display boxes the next time I’m at Sam’s. Also, I think a corrugated cardboard would be sturdier. I plan on covering the box  that’s to the right of my new box as well.


Dec 152008

Here is a cute project that my older son (10 yo) made for our bookclub.  The assignment was to read a Christmas book and report on it.  In addition, they were to make a Christmas craft that related to the book, if possible.  He read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever  and chose to make a Nativity Scene.  He got the idea from Usborne’s Christmas Art Ideas book.  He cut or ripped paper to make the scene.  the ground is made from a coffee dyed paper towel as well as the shepherd’s clothes and the swaddling clothes in which Jesus is wrapped.  Most of the rest of the paper was glittery craft paper.  The people are faceless by intention. The sheep are my favorite!;

Jan 232008

We are starting a study of pioneers in history.  Today I read Sod Houses on the Great Plains  by Glen Rounds to the kids.  Then we built a sod house from brownies. That project idea came from Projects About Westward Expansion by Marian Broida. A similar project can also be found in Great Pioneer Projects You Can Build Yourself .

Here is picture of the completed sod house.  (Yes, the roof is lame. The project suggested spreading chocolate icing on the cardboard and then sticking brownie halves on the icing, but I wasn’t going to make chocolate icing to spread on cardboard. )


Here is the soddy after the Playmobile farm people moved in.