Kindergarten Looks Like: Paper Craft Extreme

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Can we talk about BB’s new craft obsession? Every day she painstakingly cuts out little shapes from bits of paper and then assembles them into pictures, coloring in all the little pieces. This is a self portrait of hers that she gave me recently and it’s just one in an ever growing collection of patchwork pictures.

Is this a common hobby? Because MM – who frequently gets lost in making intricate diagrams and charts – has not inundated me with anything similar. I mean sure he’s done his fair share of cutting and pasting different things together, but never on this level and I can’t recall having done it myself as a kid.

I don’t want to be that braggy parent that we all hate but I’m kind of blown away by this. The level of creativity, concentration and organization needed to do stuff like this? It seems like it wouldn’t be an ordinary hobby for a 5 year old but maybe I’m just underestimating all the five year olds in the world. Maybe we’re all much more brilliant than we give ourselves credit for.

Any other five year old future quilters out there? What has your kid done recently that just blew you away with Momma Pride?

DIY: Making homemade labels for our spice jars.


We’ve been storing our spices in a couple of cardboard boxes pretty much since the day we moved into our first apartment all those years ago. It started with one box and as our cooking skills grew we added another box – one for baking and one for cooking basically. But the boxes were impossible to organize – you’d take one jar out and the others would fall over or shift which meant alphabetizing them was a lost cause. This resulted in “Why do we have 3 bottles of cinnamon?” or “I know we have rosemary around here somewhere, but I can’t find it.”

After eight years of marriage and owning more cinnamon than we probably know what to do with, I decided it was time to try something else. The thing is – we’ve been looking for the perfect spice rack for years and never found one worth taking up the counter space. I.e. We’re picky. I don’t like those rotatey spice racks and didn’t want to live with the spices they thought we wanted.

We finally settled on 12 of these spice jars from World Market that were $1 each (sold online in packs of 6) along with this metal spice rack for just $10 that can either be hung on a wall or cabinet door or just placed on a counter if you have the room. World Market has a ton of different jar styles by the way. These were by far the plainest they had but that kind of appealed to us. You could also totally just keep your spices in the jars they came in and put them in the rack, but we were loving the idea of uniformity so we splurged on new jars. In the long run, we’re probably going to need another rack and more jars to hold the rest of our spices but this got us started with the spices we seem to use most often.

So we had our jars and a rack and we found a home for it that we could live with – now we just needed to pick twelve spices to move into the rack and label the jars. We were originally thinking of picking out labels in a store but didn’t find any we liked. Then we were going to use a sticker or label maker to make our own and went through the whole mental process of figuring that out, when my husband found this link to a tutorial for making your own labels using a laser printer and packing tape! I was skeptical but it totally worked! Head over to The Proper Pinwheel for further instruction on making the labels.

I designed my labels using PicMonkey which is an awesome online photo editor / graphic designer that is available for free though there are a lot of spiffy extras for people who pay for a Royale Membership (totally worth it, in my opinion). This label took me about five minutes to design. Feel free to steal it as long as you use it for good and not evil:


Now you just need words. You could add the font for the label right on picmonkey if you want (and they have a lot of beautiful fonts) but I was worried that this would be tedious to then save 12 different images and then compile them all onto one page. In an effort to save time, I saved the logo above and then copied and pasted it 12 times into a LibreDraw file. LibreOffice is basically Microsoft Office but open source (i.e. free). I tried doing this in a word document and it was really difficult to get the text to line up where I wanted it. Helpful Hubby recommended the Draw program which let me make text boxes that I then positioned over each label.

Which method would have been faster in the end? I’m not sure. Either way, I finished the whole process in under and hour, printed the page and then we used the methods shared at The Proper Pinwheel to turn the laser printed page and packing tape into beautiful, homemade labels for our new spice jars.



We are both really thrilled with the end result. The labels are so special to us because we designed them ourselves, making them truly unique and we love that if we want to use a bottle for a different spice, the label is just packing tape so it should be easy to remove (and it’s pretty water proof, too!). And having the spices right where we want them and finally, finally alphabetized is making it so much nicer to cook.

Organization never tasted so good!


quick activity idea: make sticker stories!

sticker stories

Feeling the Mid Summer Blahs? Here’s a quick activity to do with your kids that is pretty open ended, easy and frugal. Make & Takes shared the idea for writing sticker rebus stories today and I immediately ran to our little crafting cabinet and pulled all of our sheets of stickers that I’ve been halfheartedly stock piling over the years. We always seem to accumulate extra sheets of stickers at birthday parties or through magazines and craft kits and I save whatever I can for a rainy day.

We’re sticking close to home today because both kids have a runny nose – probably nothing but one day of rest never hurt anyone so after letting them watch a few tv shows after breakfast, I wanted a quick & easy craft type project that they could do, preferably with minimal involvement on my part! This project was perfect. I scattered a half dozen sticker sheets on the dining room table and asked, in my very best Super Excited Mom Voice:

“Have you ever made sticker stories before?”

They were immediately excited to see what I meant so I pulled out a sheet of notebook paper and started writing a story (see the image at the top of the collage above). My eldest son, MM (age 7) read along as I wrote so when I asked what should happen next he immediately had ideas. I showed them both how you could use the stickers as inspiration for what should happen next in the story. I wrote out a quick paragraph to illustrate the idea and then let them take the idea and run with it.

MM immediately wanted to write a Star Wars story (you can see snippets above) and my nearly 4 year old daughter, BB, was super excited to use the Elmo Stickers. I could have sat and helped her write a story but she tends to be pretty independent with her projects so I let her do her own thing and just have fun playing with the stickers and “pretending to write”.

Both were incredibly proud of their results and I loved getting to see an example of my son’s handwriting (it’s always this messy – just like his dad!)  and also his spelling and story writing skill. He actually wrote a pretty well thought out story considering he was flying by the seat of his pants and had no help from me at all. My daughter’s little sticker collage is just adorable and I loved the little squiggles of mock handwriting throughout.

You could make this concept as challenging or open ended as you wanted really and different themed stickers will yield different stories and results, obviously. I thought this was such a great idea and it was the perfect cure for a lazy summer morning – plus it’ll keep your kids’ minds active during the summer months.

This is definitely an idea to keep in your back pocket!

craft love: these dinosaurs are real stand up guys!


We’ve been finding ourselves stuck inside a lot this summer and I was in desperate need of a quick and easy art project to occupy an hour or two of our time. Flipping through the May issue of Disney Family Fun magazine, I saw a cute stand up dinosaur guy that had been painted on cardboard. They have a free printable on their website so you can trace your own dinos – you’ll need an account on to login and access it but I’m pretty sure they are totally free and it’ll gain you access to lots of different magazines online.

This sounded like a nice easy project so I quickly printed off a few copies (no need to fight over paper stencils!) and cut out each stencil while the kids were eating lunch. Later I set up the stencils, green card stock, scissors and markers and briefly showed them the idea of the project but tried to encourage that they do their own thing with it.

My son, age 7, has a tendency to closely mimic whatever design I am doing during projects like this – so concerned about “doing it right” – in an effort to foster some creativity I made each corner, nook and cranny of my dinosaur a little different from each other (you can see my Stand Up Guy in the bottom to pictures of the collage above). He tried to keep up with me for awhile, but eventually my son also let himself just do his own thing and was really proud of the results (see the two pictures on the right hand side).

Then there’s my daughter – a three year old who absolutely marches to the beat of her own drum. Rather than trace the stencil on the green paper, she began cutting little pieces of green paper and placing them on her stencil in a mosaic style. I was so impressed with her creativity, that I offered her a glue stick which she happily accepted. She really spent most of the project practicing cutting and gluing, which is really a perfect use of our time and I was so proud of her. You can see her results in the big photo of the collage which was a little too floppy to stand but so adorable!

After making our dinosaurs, my son decided to use all of our scrap papers to be food for the dinosaurs to eat and building blocks for a Dinosaur City – no scrap gets unused under his watch! So now, my youngest has worked on some motor skills, both kids have gotten a lesson in creativity and we’re recycling – all for free, basically, as we used supplies we already had on hand.

By the time they were done crafting and playing, dinner was ready!

Disclaimer: Disney Family Fun did not sponsor this post, request it or have any idea that my children like making paper dinosaurs. These thoughts are my own and I am writing about them simply to share the project idea with other tired mommas out there looking for a quick art project fix.

Craft Corner With MM: Shape Collages

I saw this cute idea on Let’s Explore to make a shape collage and theirs looked so cute I decided to try it with MM. Having never done anything like this with him before I had no idea how he’d do, if this was even up his alley or what, but I was starved for a new project so I cut up some colored paper while he was “napping” and then let him loose on the project after he was done pretending to be asleep (or you know, singing in his bedroom). Here’s some photographic evidence of our journey:

It was soooo much fun – I really recommend this little craft project. Let’s Explore has tons of ideas like this and I will definitely have to try some more. Oh and just a little public service announcement – if you aren’t hovering over my pictures (on this post and all my others) you are missing out on half the fun.

Bulleted Posts Are Great For a Sinus Headache (I Hope)

  • Game night last night was basically a bust. Only one person showed up, and you know if I hadn’t been baby sitting her kid all day and she hadn’t had to pick him up… I might have been eating homemade pizza, artichoke dip, pumpkin bread & chocolate chip cookies by myself. Kind of kicking myself for getting so many supplies for last night at BJs in bulk. (A lot of other people had been “planning” to come that had to back out at the last minute. At least that’s what they told me) I know we keep calling it game night and then not playing games, but the pizza is good right? And our company? I’m hoping it doesn’t completely suck. I hope some of our friends will show up next month when I make apple pie and pretend it’s Thanksgiving. APPLE PIE.
  • I have some kind of sinus blech. Drugs are all, “taken but not yet accounted for.” I have all these errands to run but everytime I step in a store to buy something I’m like, “I don’t care. Whatever.” Doesn’t make it terribly easy to be accomplished.
  • I know I’m like the least crafty person in the universe but I decided to take up quilting. My husband is learning so many crafts and cooking so well that I’m a bit worried I have competition. If he can be the man and do the stereotypical woman’s work, what will I do? I can’t change a carburetor (not sure I’m supposed to) or knit. I don’t want my Vagina Permit taken away so I figure it’s time to learn a new trade. An expensive sexist trade that ends with me having something warm and cozy to snuggle with in case my husband leaves me for someone who knows how to knit. Or you know, because I’m a perpetually cold person.
  • I finished reading The Well of Lost Plots! Hurray! I loved it and I plan to write a review this week when my eyes aren’t rolling into the back of my head.
  • Since I had to eat almost all that yummy food by myself I’m guessing my little “diet” was shot to heck. So don’t be surprised if I’m in a bad mood after weigh in tomorrow.
  • I’ve got another surprise to talk about this week that probably won’t ACTUALLY interest most people unless of course, they are doing the same thing I’m doing… I’ll stop being cryptic just as soon as I’ve begun enough to know I won’t be quitting because I’m too lazy to knock on wood. So you’ll just have to wait. It’s like a cliff hanger – it keeps you coming back for more, right?