A Trio of Gifts


For some of the little ones in our family. Three different games using the same materials. Each came in a little handmade bag with other treats. I used Bazzil Chips and Labels from here. As with most of my projects the idea was great. I'd be happy to give a little how-to on these later. The girls loved helping make these.

Annie-Mama we're giving gifts from the heart this year, right?
Me-Yes, Why do you think that?
Annie-Because we are making them.

Really, I just so love that child and the way she thinks.


::Family Bingo


::Family Memory


::Family Tic-Tac-Toe

Advent Blog:Finishing up the year in pictures.


The Advent Blog kinda fizzled out. Projects were done, pictures were taken but posting never seemed to fit in to the whrilwind that is the holiday season. We had a lovely holiday and with lots of visiting with family. I thought I would finish out the year with a few picture posts of all that has been going on around here. I hope you all had a wonderful, peaceful holiday.
Happy New Year.

::the snowflakes

::the cookies


::the peppermint and white chocolate

::the gingerbread (mess)

Advent Blog: Glitter and Glue Part 2


A few years back Annie and I took a walk, collected leaves, acorns and twigs and put together a little fall mobile. It has hung in the kitchen ever since. I always planned to make a mobile for each season, sometimes it just takes me awhile to get things done (you know 3 years or so).

With our little glittery stars we decided to make a winter night mobile.


::a walk in the snow and a good branch


::white paint


::pinecones, glue and glitter


::our glittery stars



::a little fishing line and a winter night mobile

(trying to take pictures of our mobile was not so easy. The sliding glass door gave off too much light or too little light. I tried laying on the table, shooting straight on, etc. The best angle showed entirely too much of my oh so messy house so that was out. Hope you get the idea. And umm, I suggest not trying to string a mobile with one very crazy little kitty in the room.)


Advent Blog:Glitter and Glue



All of my holiday decorations lean more to the red, green and natural. Having two little girlies I figured we really needed a bit of glitter in our decorations. I wanted something easy and cheap that would also work as little gifts. Glittered Stars it was.

What you need.

A spool of wire
A board
Golf Tees
A drill with proper sized drill bit
A tin and a tub with a lid

Use a cookie cutter (or draw your own star) onto the board. Mark the points of the star and drill holes. Stick the golf tees into the holes.

Cut off a length of wire. On our first few stars we used a single wire. They were a bit wonky, we ended up doubling up the wire. You could also use a thicker gauge wire. I was using what we had on hand.

Wrap the wire start around the #1 peg and follow then follow the pattern like a dot to dot.

Pull the tees out and remove the star. Put in a shallow dish and get it all full of glue.

Now put the star into a tub with a lid and add your glitter. Shake it up. (this was the girls favorite part)

Open the tub, ohh and ahh and let dry. Now what to do with all those stars......

Advent Blog: Preschooler Gift Guide


Each year I get a bit obsessive about one gift for the girls. I start looking online to find the perfect version, check prices everywhere and generally get a bit nutty about it. All the research and effort seem to pay off because these are the toys that are played with the most often. Here is a little list of those items.

Maple Unit Blocks
We bought a set of these for Annie's second Christmas. They still get used almost everyday. Any set of blocks is great but you can read a bit about unit blocks here and here.
Shop here, here and here

Kitchen Set


I spent quite a bit of time researching this gift. I really wanted a wooden set and probably looked at every wood set avaliable at the time. In the end we ended up making our own set. It wasn't very hard and I think we picked up all the wood from the odds and ends bin at Home Depot for less the $75. This set has provided hours and hours of play for my girls and it is the first thing most kids hit when they come to play. Boys, girls, 1 year olds, 10 year olds, everyone plays with this. We modeled ours off of this set. You can find all sorts of wooden kitchens in all price ranges. Here are a few of my favorites and if you would like to know how we built our set I'd be happy email you.

If you've got a kitchen your going to need some food.

I would love to have stocked our kitchen with all of the lovely Haba wooden food but we mostly have Melissa and Doug. I like that the Melissa and Doug food has the velcro and can be cut. Many happy hours our spent cutting bread and butter for tea parties. Don't forget the plates and cups, pots and pans.

A Doll House

Boys and Girls alike love to play with a doll house. Any sort of figure set can keep the 2-3 year old set busy for hours. Ours is the Plan Toys house and I think I now I would buy a different set. It is a little hard for the girls to use the bottom part of the house. Look for something that is open all through the front.

If it's in the budget any of these would be lovely heirloom toys...

This, this or maybe a castle

Don't forget the people here, here and here

Other nice wooden doll houses

Wooden Barn and Animals

What toddler doesn't love animals? A nice barn and animals keeps them busy and you get the joy of hearing all those moo's, baa's and meow's.

You can splurge on this or this and don't forget to add these.

A less expensive option is this and this. Which is what we have.

This is enough to get anyone started and to empty your wallet. There are so many options for all of these toys but really these are the ones the girls play with over and over again. I might buy a different version but I would buy each and everyone of these again for the girls and someday when I'm Grandma I will definitly splurge on my grandkids. These were really the big investment toys, next time I will have a list of the other stuff that keeps 'em busy - you know the plastic stuff. We have lots of that too.

Advent Blog: Games


Annie and Maddie have just reached the age where we can sit down and play a game together. I love playing board games and spent many college hours playing cards and all day Scrabble fests. I thought I would share a couple of our favorite games with all of you.

Games for multi-age groups

Michigan Rummy

For the older set

For kids

Cariboo, Balloon Lagoon and Hullabaloo
Guess Who
Animal Yahtzee
Animal Bingo

My Favorite Card Games
Crazy Eights

I'm sure many of these are familiar to most of you, but maybe some are new. I really enjoy any of the Cranium Games and as I was compiling this list it seems there are many highly rated games I have never played. As the girls get bigger I am sure we will become more familiar with all of them.
Do any of you have favorite games to share?

Advent Blog: Enjoying the Season



Our Advent Garland Wednesday was "go to the play museum". I added "or go sledding if it snows." Gotta love the pre-readers.

I find that I still get all giddy for a good snowfall. I rushed in the house tuesday night and tried to wake both of the girls. I was really going to take them sledding at 9:00 at night but they wouldn't budge. We got our fill of snowy fun on Wednesday. The girls are finally old enough to spend extended amounts of time in the snow. We trekked and sledded, tried to build a snow person and ate lots of snow. It was crisp and bright with rosy faced children and cold noses and it was perfect. I'm definitly dreaming of a white Christmas.




Advent Blog: Cards


I signed the girls up for a Holiday Card swap through Kids Craft Weekly. We were given 10 families to send our kid made cards. A little strategic planning and our Advent Garland said we would get to make cards that day.

We clipped some evergreen needles and used red and green paint to make prints. I envisioned lovely little sprays of evergreens dotted with red berries. The end result was a bit more abstract and absolutley lovely. Let's hope the kids in the Dominican Republic, Singapore, Spain, Utah, Ohio, Minnesota, California and the UK are just as pleased.





Maddie only finished one card, the all green one, she insisted on making sure it was all green. I am fairly certain there is some developmental stage for needing to fill the entire page in one color. Not sure anymore what it is, but I was happy to let her develop.

Advent Blog:Garland


Last year we put together a little tree garland with paper rings. It served as our Advent Calendar with little things to do each day.

This year we decided on a tree and star Advent Garland. We still added little things to do each day: cocoa by the fire, read a christmas book, make cookies. Nothing fancy and I made sure to plan out the days so it works with our schedule. I would love to have a fancy mom made calendar, but time was short and anything to keep the girls busy. So cookie cutters for patterns, leftover scrapbooking paper, and a little hard work by Annie a beautiful kid made garland we had.


I love all the backwards numbers.


If ever I was to make a garland I would be sure to find some great inspiration from one of these links.

A Peek Inside the Fish Bowl
All Sorts
Zopeuse's on Flickr
Craft Magazine
My Words
Whip Up
Uncommon Grace
From Kiddley
Family Fun
From Martha more Martha

Hope you all are inspired too.

And so it begins.....


We have already been in gift making mode around here and talking lots about Christmas but the it doesn't seem real until the boxes come up and the tree goes up.


We had a lovely time decorating the tree and the girls were thrilled to find all of their ornaments and hang them.


We made a few changes to tradition this year (very very difficult for me) and moved the tree into the family room so that we could enjoy it more and the girls asked for colored lights instead of my white ones. I decided my raffia garland didn't work with the lights so I picked up some silver and red metallic garland. Definitely more kid than Martha tree and I love it.

Tradition did stick with Annie placing "walnut head" on the tree and the after decorating eggnog and Santa's Favorites Cookies. Yum.


I had big plans to roll out 24 days of Holiday posts with ideas for gifts, crafting, traditions etc. But our Advent Calendar went up a day late and then it was too dark to take a picture.

So that sorta blows the whole 24 days of posts thing but I figure I can still carry on with all of this because you, my loyal readers, are probably not going to come into my room at 2 a.m. crying because I put the advent calendar up a day late and that meant we didn't drink the hot cocoa on the right day and lord if the world doesn't end if you don't do the thing on the 1st advent tree that it says to do. At least I hope you won't. So get ready for 23 days of holiday posts or at least as many as I can sneak in.