Cake Pops!

My mom and I (along with some well-intended help from the kids) made cake pops for the kids' preschool Christmas parties. Basically, they are cake balls on a lollipop stick. Check out the Bakerella website for instructions and tons of cute ideas. 


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Although time-consuming, they are relatively easy to make and lots of fun. Not to mention yummy. And as the name says, you can literally POP the whole thing in your mouth! Ours were devils food cake/white icing for the ball, covered in melted red candy coatings. We also melted some green candy coatings, put it in a plastic mustard bottle and drizzled some on top.

While we were working on the pops we stuck them in a floral styrofoam block. For the finishing touch we wrapped each in a tiny treat bag and tied a tag onto it (the kids punched the tag with a heart-shaped hole punch). All the supplies can be found on Amazon.


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We had a few left over...but they didn't last long around my house!

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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall!

My children's school, Sullins Academy, recently held its annual auction to benefit the school. This is the school's biggest fundraiser and there was no shortage of work done by the students, teachers and moms. Each class has an art project for the live auction and I was in charge of the 3-year-old class (after all, I do have 3 of the 10 toddlers in the class!).


The goal of the project is to do something creative, have each child participate and sell (you hope) to a parent at a high price! I decided to do a mirror surrounded by handpainted tiles fired in the kiln at our local ceramics studio, Kil'n Time (a big thank you to the owners, who graciously donated all the supplies).


All of the classes had amazing art projects, but I must say I am especially proud of Mrs. Oliver's class for doing such a wonderful job! Here is the finished mirror (and my reflection, snapping the photo!):

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First, I painted a border around the tiles the kids were to paint, along with each child's name. Then they painted whatever they wanted on the tiles. Mrs. Oliver painted a tile too.

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Next, I took pictures of each child (and Mrs. O.), traced them on a tile, and painted a background. Kil'n Time used a special technique to fire the photos in a sepia tone on the tiles. I painted a couple of filler tiles with the school and class name, and voila, we had a finished product that went for $1,200 at the auction! Ok...I must admit that my dad was the one who bought it, but still there were many bidders driving up the price!

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I also donated 18 pairs of earrings for the silent auction. Last I checked they were going for around $900, which made me very happy!

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I displayed them on this enormous box that almost didn't fit on the silent auction tables. Covered in turquoise burlap (fun but messy) and leopard ribbon, it has an artsy sphere made out of chicken wire at the top.

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Before we put the tiles on the mirror, Jackson helped me paint the frame.

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His t-shirt may not have helped the Cowboys win, but Sullins definitely won at the auction!

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What's in a Name?

Thank you, Initial Presents, Inc. for featuring my kids on your Facebook page!

Initial Presents is an adorable store in Buffalo, New York, owned and operated by my step-sister Debbie and her sister-in-law Patti. They carry every kind of gift you can imagine, ranging from home accessories to jewelry (they've been kind enough to sell my jewelry from time to time!) to clothing. And they do a ton of monogramming...

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Debbie and her sisters gave me these cute monogrammed sweaters for my kids a couple of years ago. They have grown since then, of course, but we enjoyed the sweaters and it was fun not to have to tell everyone their names all the time when they wore them!

You can find the sweaters and more on their website (click here) and you can like them on FB by clicking here.

Think of the fun you could have with monogramming! I once saw a college-aged guy who had his phone number monogrammed on his shirt. A not-so-subtle way to advertise that he's available!

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School's In!

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I was going to start this entry about my children going to preschool with a note about my little baby birds leaving the nest, but then I realized that not only are they not actually “leaving” the nest, but they are actually commanding more space in the nest—four times the space, in fact!

As it has always been with my little gaggle, starting school means everything comes in fours. First up came four little place settings for breakfast. Even though I was sad to see them off, I wanted them to feel like school was an exciting, happy thing. I wanted to show them that today was no ordinary day, it was the first day of school! How better to do that than with a nice table set with these cheerful plates and glasses?

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After breakfast it was time to get their supplies organized. As you can see, the Mommy Marker was out in force (fource? ha!) With four of everything (sometimes more) it would be a nightmare to try and keep supplies organized in any other way. Glue sticks, wipes, bags, shirts, every-every-every-everything gets a name! Labeling everything not only ensures that you send your children out the door with the stuff they need, but they will end up with the correct items when they get there (with a little help from the teacher, of course).

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Of course, no schoolchild’s load would be complete without a tasty lunch. My times-foursome is no different! These lunch boxes are not only an absolute blast and super cute, but they also make it easy for each of my children to find his or her lunch among all the others (I guarantee nobody else in class will have one like it!).

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So there you have it. You know, it used to be when my children left the house I had to keep track of four sets of clothes, diapers, and bottles. Now it’s four lunch boxes, glue sticks, and backpacks! Where did the time go?!

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Hopping Down the Bunny Trail

Kids love Easter and our little bunnies are no exception. They are still little, but I wanted their Easter baskets to be something special. I happened upon these bright buckets at Lowe's one day (for about $6 each) and knew they would be perfect to hold all the treasures the Easter Bunny would bring this year.

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The lady at the checkout counter looked at me incredulously when I told her why I was buying the buckets. She remarked that I would have to get a "lot of toys and candy to fill up those things." Little did she know that they would be filled with mostly grass!

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I lined the buckets with "grass" made from brightly colored cardstock paper that was run through our industrial-sized shredder at work (it makes crinkle-cut shreds). You can also make small quantities of paper with small shredders from office-supply stores. As you'll see in just a moment, we had enough grass to plant a small yard, which I would not recommend unless you plan to single-handedly bring back multi-colored shag.


I filled the "baskets" with lots of fun items from the $1 section at Target (I even managed to squeak by this year without including any candy...don't worry, they had plenty from friends & family!). I cut out colorful flowers and glued them onto paint stirrers (also from Lowe's) to add a bit of height to the baskets. Our kids used them as wands and rakes to scoop up their grass. They became somewhat dangerous as the day wore on so they were retired to the "later" pile (the wands, not the kids).

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After church we went out for Easter lunch and the cutest centerpieces were on our table. What fun to put Peeps and jelly beans in the vases! They didn't last long...our kids took one look at them and the Peeps were history within minutes. So much for the no-candy Easter!

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Our three-year-old got a haircut on Good Friday and his hairdresser (yes, he already has a hairdresser) surprised him with this cute-as-a-button homemade bunny cake. It was as delicious as it was pretty. I had a hard time making it out of the parking lot without biting off an ear. Don't think the kids wasted any time in getting to know this wabbit weally well!

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Egg-coloring (real) and hunting (plastic) was big at our house this year. I've never seen a prettier bunch of eggs than this, the first-ever batch colored by my little rabbit fu fu's (when I was younger I used to recite that riddle over and over, standing on my grandparents' hearth. Maybe I was doing a rain dance of sorts and didn't know it, since I ended up with so many rabbits?).

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A tiny part (and I do mean tiny) of our Easter grass explosion, or tumbleweed, as depicted here. Honestly the kids loved the grass more than any of the other toys, proving once again that the packaging is often better than the product. As they say, the grass is always greener.

Personalized Coloring Pages

I just had to share this amazingly innovative and simple project for kids that I found on Tip Junkie the other day. Turn any photo into a sketch for your kids to color!

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Simply go to Dumpr, a cool website where you can play all kinds of tricks with your photos. For a coloring page, choose the sketch option.

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Then you upload the photo of your choice and within seconds you will have a black and white sketch that's ready for crayons, markers or paint! I uploaded and printed 15 photos of various family members for our kids to color and I spent a total of 10 minutes from start to finsh. I saved all of the sketches in a folder on my computer so I can print them again and again.

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Here's our 3-year-old's interpretation of mommy and daddy. I don't know, maybe my eye looks even better in this version. Wouldn't it be fun to make an entire personalized coloring book to give as a gift at a birthday party?

Find Your Marbles

There's something extraordinary about displaying the ordinary in your home. Lots of colorful vintage marbles together in a glass jar make a great conversation piece. These particular marbles have a sad but sentimental history for me. One of my mom's little brothers passed away tragically when he was just 8 years old, in 1955. These were his marbles and I'm sure he received hours and hours of enjoyment playing with them.

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My Granny lovingly kept the marbles all these years in a sealed bag in the back of a deep drawer, one she would rarely open. From time to time she would show me the marbles and his other toys, clothes and books. She would tell me sweet stories about each item, even though I now know that it must have greatly pained her to do so. When she passed away a few years ago I brought the marbles home and knew I wanted to give them an important place to live. I put them in a clear glass milk bottle from Homestead Creamery, an old-fashioned but thriving dairy located near our lake house. Glass milk bottles themselves have a vintage feel (I also like to use them for vases) and pairing them with vintage marbles seemed like a good combination.

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I wish I could have known my uncle, but having his marbles on my shelf will have to suffice in a small way. Granny would be happy to know that our youngest son resembles her little boy. I'm sure he'll enjoy playing marbles someday too and each time he does I'll be reminded how precious life really is.

Mink Teddy Bear

A few years ago my Granny had an old mink coat she could no longer wear. My mom came up with an ingenious idea...turn the fur into teddy bears! She sent it off to a company that did just that (similar companies can be found through an internet search) and we ended up with four adorable little furries (I added the bow for a finishing touch). One for Granny, one for mom, one for me and one for my aunt.

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He's like a giant Steiff bear; his arms, legs and head move to see what I'm doing throughout the day. I love knowing that his arms once kept my Granny warm (here he's perched on her sofa). I hope my daughter will enjoy having him by her bedside for many years.

Create a teddy if you want to turn your heirloom fur into a piece of nostalgia (or if you're just against wearing fur for p.c. reasons). If, on the other hand, you're not so p.c. and think nothing of wearing your fur to the grocery store, you might want to check out this earlier post for another idea.

Paint Chip Placecards

Placecards make dinner parties more fun! Especially if you mix the guests up a bit and stick your newly-divorced uncle Chester next to shy little Thelma from down the street. There are many ways to do placecards. Here is an easy (and free!) idea: use paint chips from home improvement stores.

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I'm not advocating going into Lowe's and taking a huge stack of paint chips home with you. Just a few that you would probably use anyway in your next painting project. They come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors, and you can fold them differently, as I did here.

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No need to match the colors to your table setting exactly. Just pick some hues you love and go with it. (Once again, I used my bandana napkin trick, as mentioned in a previous post. And by the way, denim is my absolute favorite for placemats...it goes with everything!)

Paint chips are fun to use for kids' parties as well as the adult dinner party. Just please don't switch the names around when you come to my house. There's a reason I put you next to my 90-year-old aunt Louise.

Paint Your Own Pottery

I hate to keep bringing up all of the things I did pre-kids, but here's another one: hanging out all day at a paint-your-own-pottery studio. I really did that in my other life. But now I'm so happy because the kids are getting older and I can take them there! Ok, so they don't really have the attention span to be there all day, yet, but I'm sure that soon they will love it as much as I do! (?)

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I'm even happier because we just got a studio in my hometown, aptly named Kil'n Time. I can't wait to plant myself there for at least 20 minutes (would love to stay longer but may have to wait a few years for that one!). Pottery studios have unfinished pieces in a multitude of shapes and sizes. You paint it, they glaze and fire it and in a week or so you have your masterpiece.

My friend Beth ended up with this "Let it Snow" plate I painted for our Christmas white elephant gift exchange one year. She's probably retired it for the year after all of the flakes we've had lately.

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All my friends know how much I love leopard and zebra prints...I tried them out on these little dishes. I also did a set of dinner plates (everything is food safe) for the lake, which I'll post in the spring.

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One of my favorite projects, which I ended up doing twice because it got broken, was the family plate below for my dad and step-mom. Around the outer edge is our last name and on the inside are all of our family members' names in a circle, starting with my grandparents and winding around to the smallest cousin. Quite a few more names have been added in the years since...a new plate will have to be started!

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Kids of all ages can enjoy painting pottery. My three-year-old son (who was 2 1/2 at the time) painted this adorable car for his daddy for Christmas, as well as some other priceless little treasures for his grandparents. Boy, did he ever get messy, but it was so worth it! Don't forget to sign your name or your child's to the back and add the date so that you'll never forget the who and when of your keepsake.

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When the kids get a little older I'm going to have them each make a "signature" dinner plate to add to our collection. Put a smock on them, hand them a paint brush and let them go to town!

I can't wait for all the birthday parties (and girls' nights out) I know we'll have at the new studio. The question is...who will enjoy it more, the kids or me? I think I already know the answer.