RECYCLED BOTTLE BRACELETS



Break out the crimper and pop a back-when-she-was-fun Madonna tape in your Walkman, baby, cause bright and crazy bangles are BACK!

Kinley and I have been on a recycled craft craze lately. It started with Earth Day and it's only gotten better (or worse?) since we've been participating in @get.creative.with's recycled container Insta-challenge this week. We recycled some of our own art into other kinds of art, turned a garbage box into a little tiny buddy sight-seeing cable car, and made a family of bees out of an old egg carton, but I think these bracelets are our best trash art yet!

So terrible mom confession time. I let K watch YouTube Kids. Don't hate on me. Everyone needs a little peace and quiet sometimes, right? She has a few favorite vloggers that she keeps up with and my favorites, of course, are the crafty ones. I glanced over her shoulder a few months ago and saw something incredibly cool -- someone in the vlog-o-sphere was making a bracelet out of trash and an iron! I've been wanting to try it ever since 💜

A BOOK & A CRAFT: ESCARGOT


Disclaimer: This post was written by a person who unabashedly loves both snails and all things French-y, so she may be a tad bit biased towards books with adorable French snails for main characters. Continue reading the following gushfest at your own risk. You have been warned.

Escargot: the tale of a little French beret-rocking snail in search of the perfect salad.

I mean, you guys, I just can't. This book was made for us.

Sweet little manipulative Escargot is on a mission to both make you love him and to get to the other side of the table where the salad of his dreams is waiting. He tries every method imaginable from showing off to telling sob stories to convince you that he is indeed the best kind of creature on the planet. Let me tell you, his tactics worked on me.

You win, you cute little guy! You're the best! Je t'aime Escargot. Now come here and let me huggle you. (Not a typo--that's just our special word for a snuggle with extra hugs 💗)

I really love snails. I had a pet snail my senior year of high school. One of my friends worked in a plant nursery and she saved him from impending doom (snails are not welcome where there are plants for sale apparently, who knew? 😉) and gave him to me in a little hermit crab house with a purple lid. I named him Mikey Chaos, and while I refused to touch him, I loved him. Those little tentacles, man! They're just SO cute.

TOP SECRET SNOW CONE SYRUP


Hey there! How are you livin'? Does it feel like summer in your neck of the woods already, too? Here in good old OH-IO we get a full two weeks of spring if we are lucky before the tornadoes and summer heat start rolling in. I've been trying to suppress my urge to whine and beg Dave to turn on the air already man, for the love of sweaty leg pits and in order to do that, I've had to get creative with my stay cool methods. I mean, twelve fans on high can only help so much, you know? ;)

My mom works in the office of a factory and in the summer, the factory part of the building is not air conditioned. In an effort to keep all those hardworking factory men happy, she goes in one night a month and churns out snow cones for those guys at top speed to help them cool down. But, obviously, snow cones require syrup and she was flying through the store-bought kind, so she came up with this recipe and, take it from me, it's a thousand times better than any of the kinds they carry at Wally World, plus the flavor options are pretty vast.

Now here's where I need you to swear on your favorite pair of flip-flops that you won't tell anyone the top secret recipe I'm about to fork over.

Just kidding,

Tell anybody you want, friend! And you're welcome in advance for your extra month of lower energy costs ;)

GORGEOUS (& CRAZY EASY) COFFEE FILTER FLOWERS



Get a load of those gorgeous flowers, would ya?! It's spring y'all, and more importantly, it finally feels like spring. When I was brushing Kinley's hair this morning she hollered LOOK MOMMA!! There are little tiny baby leaves on our big tree!! and what do you know, she was right! I have been missing those little tiny baby leaves and their fresh tiny baby leaf green -- my favorite shade.

Don't you just love spring colors? Bright and happy and perfect for getting creative with.

We are participating in another Instagram challenge this week. This one is from Tinkerlab and just happens to be another round of the challenge that initially got Kinley and I hooked on all things process art. If you are still unclear about what process art is, or are feeling intimidated about getting started, this is the perfect introduction. Rachelle explains everything in a super clear and concise manner and has everything, including supply lists, all planned out for you. All you have to do is read the emails she sends and get out the supplies. Easy peasy.

Yesterday's Tinkerlab project was absorbent art. K and I had just made some coffee filter and liquid watercolor Easter eggs a couple of days ago, so we switched it up today and decided to try making coffee filter flowers with our challenge art.

MARSHMALLOW PAINT PEEPS & A WHOLE LOT MORE


Have you been as naughty as we have with the Easter candy this year? Kinley and I have polished off a giant bag of Starburst jellybeans, two bags of those crunchy shell Cadbury eggs and wayyyy too many purple bunny Peeps already this year, and we are still a week away from the actual ginormous candy-explosion of a holiday.

Our never-ending supply of yummy purple bunnies totally inspired this project.  I know lots of people don't love the taste of them as much as we do, but I think we can all agree they are pretty much the cutest candy ever created! Kinley always apologizes before biting their cute little ears off :)

I've been dreaming up a Peep project for her for a couple of weeks, and the paint and "sugar" combo I finally came up with was such a hit I knew I had to share it with you! I think any kiddo, big or teeny, would have fun with this one. The textures are just so much fun and the final product looks good enough to eat!

I used to make little yellow chick Peeps with the babies at daycare which were adorable, but I sprinkled real sugar on them and they always ended up a giant sticky mess. For our at home bunny version, I decided to try tinting Epsom salt. I was hoping it would give a sugary-crystal texture, and it totally worked!

SPLISHY-SPLASHY PUDDLE PAINTING


Can you guess what Kinley and I were learning about this week? Nope, not inkblot personality tests. Good guess though. RAIN! We were talking about all things rain--puddles, clouds, raindrops, thunderstorms. The whole cumulonimbus ;)

Obviously, being that we are crazy book-loving library addicts, we have been eating up rain books like it's our job and we found one of the dozens particularly inspiring -- Puddle by Hyewon Yum. It's all about a little boy who spends a grouchy rainy day writing a splashy puddle story with his momma. They are so inspired by their happy puddle drawings, that they head outside for a fun rainy stroll and some real puddle jumping.


We didnt have any rain or puddles to splash in the day we read this adorable book, so we had to improvise. We had to make our own puddles, but how?

Process art, of course! I bet you knew I was gonna say that, didn't you?

SUPER AWESOME HOMEMADE BUBBLE SOLUTION


We go through bubbles at our house like water when it's warm outside. Whether she is in charge of blowing or chasing, Kinley is always down for some good old-fashioned bubbletime! But, what happens when we run out of solution, or worse, it gets knocked over on the sidewalk and K is nearing meltdown phase?

That means it's SUPER AWESOME HOMEMADE BUBBLE SOLUTION TIME! And when we make super awesome homemade bubble solution, it's bubble snake maker time, too.

We tried this combo a couple of summers ago, and it was such a huge hit that it has become one of our warm weather staples. The bubble snake maker is super simple and fun to make and the solution doesn't involve anything weird like glycerin--all just regular household ingredients.

PLASTIC EGG PROCESS ART PAINTING



You guys, I'm SO excited!! I've got my very first guest blogging gig. Yes, for real!

My new blogging bestie, Denise, invited me over to her blog for some Easter fun. She's the friendly, creative supermom behind buckandchuck.com. If you aren't already familiar with her awesome blog, you should totally check it out. It's jam-packed with fun ideas, mommy humor and pictures of her beyond adorable kiddos. She's got an egg-cellent new post with about a gazillion brilliant ideas for stuffing those Easter baskets that's definitely worth checking out!

Kinley and I have been trying out all kinds of different Easter activities looking for the best ones to share on our special post, but this one that we tried today? I just couldn't wait to share it with you! You might remember my old post from when K was a teeny little ladybug about marble painting with bouncy balls? Well, this is kind of like that, but with an Easter twist!

WAX PAPER MONOPRINTS

Have you ever heard of monoprints? They are basically the easiest, most fun art ever,

Monoprints are made by painting on a surface (so many options) and then pressing a piece of paper or cardstock onto the painting to make a print.

I first learned about monoprinting in this amazing art book called Art Workshop for Children by Bar Rucci. It's packed full of awesome process art ideas--I want to try ALL of them. It's like my art mom handbook. My parents actually bought it for me for my birthday a couple of weeks ago because the library wouldn't let me renew it a twelfth time :) 

I'm no art expert, but I have done a lot of reading and researching. Process art is basically no rules art. Instead of focusing on the final product, like crafts, process art focuses on the process of making the art. It's all about the fun! Nothing to replicate...just get in there and create. I've seen a huge change in Kinley's willingness to do art, and happiness while doing art since we quit the crafts and the rules. We like to put music on and relax while we are getting our process art on...it's definitely the best part of our school day.

WATERCOLOR EGG CARTON FLOWER LIGHTS


Easter is coming! The season of chocolate bunnies and chicks, baby lambs, jellybeans, marshmallow Peeps and EGGS.

So. Many. Eggs.

And you can't have a million gorgeous dyed eggs, without having at least a couple of egg cartons, can ya?

A-ha. THAT'S where I was going with all of this ;)

Kinley and I are participating in an egg carton craft-off this week on Instagram, and until I started seeing all of the amazing ideas pop up in my feed, I had NO idea how much awesomeness is possible with such a humble recycled material. (If you wanna check out our competition, just search #getcreativewith--seriously, the possibilities are endless and crazy, crazy awesome!)

We had to step up our game, man! But, what to make?

INVITATION TO CREATE: PAPER BAG BIRD PUPPETS


Are you ready for hours of squawking and bird drama? Are you sure?

Okay, ask and ye shall receive! I should warn you that I, too, thought I was ready and 2 hours later, I need some Tylenol and a nap, but it was actually totally worth it because bird drama is the most hilarious kind. Some of our bird drama even trumped The Bachelor!

This project was kind of an accident. We were supposed to make the paper plate birds I have had pinned for a year, but when I went to go grab the paper plates, there were none. Oops.

But, it totally worked out, didn't it? Puppets, as it turns out, are WAY more fun that lame old paper plate birds ;)

SPLATTER PAINT STARRY SKY


K and I have been participating in some Instagram art challenges lately and we have been having a creative blast. It's so fun to be given a theme or material to work with and brainstorm together until we have the ultimate idea.

This week's challenge on one of our favorite accounts (@kidartlit) is Night. That's pretty broad, right? I was having such a hard time narrowing all of the fun night things (night sky, skylines at night, nocturnal animals, glow in the dark, all of the nighttime books, etc) down to one to plan an art project around, so I went to Kinley for some help.

I asked her to tell me some things about nighttime that make it different than daytime, and she actually thought up a lot more than I thought she would, and even a lot more than I had thought of.

She said that we wear jammies at nighttime, eat dinner and watch shows at nighttime. It's dark outside at nighttime, and Daddy comes home from work. But, she said her favorite night things were the moon and the stars.

BIRD WEEK SENSORY BIN


We did lots of fun stuff around here for Bird Week and I can't wait to share all of it with you, but I have to start with our nest-building sensory bin because it was the biggest hit of the whole week for sure.

I bought a few things at Dollar Tree and had a few things here, but all in all it cost about $6 for the whole thing, and $6 for hours and hours of fun pretend play is money well-spent, if you ask me!

We use one of those giant under the bed storage containers for our sensory bin. It's the perfect size for us--we need lots of room for splashing and digging and exploring. K is a pretty neat kid--she's never been much for throwing or dumping everything on the floor, so I've never really worried about large quantities of sensory materials.

This week I filled our bin up with:
  • brown, crinkly gift bag filling material
  • raffia
  • ribbon scraps
  • feathers
  • yellow, sparkly tiny styrofoam eggs
  • yellow plastic Easter eggs 
  • a small colander
  • a cute little birdie with a clip on the bottom (Dollar Tree find!)
  • 3 little pom-pom baby birdies (instructions for those coming--just scroll down)
  • Giant kid-friendly plastic tweezers and some pink pipe cleaners cut up into wiggly worms 

BEST PANINIS EVER.


I know, paninis are a pretty random topic and I am no food blogger, but I made these the other night and they were too dang delicious to keep to myself. Dave was shocked that they didn't have any special aioli or sauce or anything because they were just so yummy and it seems too simple a recipe for that much tastebud OOMPH. :)

We've tried lots of panini ideas over the years. Pinterest is swimming with ideas for different kinds, but we've had so many mediocre ones that one this good had to be passed along.

First of all, if you don't have a special panini pan or press, don't worry! Alton Brown from the Food Network said on one of his episodes of Good Eats that if you wrap a brick in aluminum foil and put that on top of your sandwich in a regular frying pan, it will work just as well. Or you can do what I used to do before we got a panini pan, and just smush your sandwich with your spatula really hard :)

20 MINUTE DIY LIGHT TABLE



If you follow me on Pinterest, you know I have an obsession with light tables. I want to buy one, but a sensory item that costs more than $10 is definitely not going to be cleared by the accounting department (aka Mr. Raising Kinley) so I have been collecting do-it-yourself ideas for literally two years.

They all do it differently--IKEA supplies, fairy lights, lanterns, light strips, actual tables that you cut holes out of with power tools, teeny tiny, ginormous. You name it. Someone has used it to make a light table. And I have pinned their idea.

It was all just so overwhelming to me, I guess. I need someone's idea to be THE idea. The best of all of the methods squeezed into one.

I finally read a blog post the other night about another mom's homemade light table and I thought to myself, "Dude. Just do it. Just gather up the stuff and DO IT ALREADY."

EASY DIY RAINBOW RICE OR PASTA


Scoop it.
Measure it.
Throw it with glee from corner to corner.

RICE, baby! The ultimate sensory bin filler!

Plain rice is fun, but dyed rice is even better. And you aren't gonna believe how incredibly easy it is to step your rice up to the next level.

All you need is:
  • white rice (obviously)
  • craft paint or food coloring
  • rubbing alcohol

DIY LIQUID WATERCOLORS

Am I the only one who has been seeing what seems like hundreds and thousands of super gorgeous art projects that use liquid watercolors? Those super vibrant absolutely stunning art projects? I have been lusting after those paints for months, but I wasn't really wanting to shell out $40 to the art supply folks just to give them a spin.

I did a quick Pinterest search, of course, because is there any other way when it comes to DIY?! There were bunches of different methods--some using food coloring, some dried up markers. But the ones that really caught my eye were the ones made with the washable Crayola watercolors--you know the ones that you had in elementary school? The little cakes of paint in the little white trays and plastic cases? Yep, those.

I put together a couple of those recipes and came up with the perfect one, and it couldn't be any simpler. Okay, okay, settle down! I'm getting to it right now ;)

OUR NEW (AND IMPROVED) PRESCHOOL PLAN

When I started planning our preschool year, I read a million blog posts and ideas from other preschool at home moms and I thought I had come up with the world's most perfect plan.

I wrote a detailed plan for every subject, every week from the end of August until the beginning of June. I printed out cute little schedule cards for each moment of our preschool day, laminated them and hung them up in a neat row and imagined exactly how each perfect day was gonna go. I had a big long chat with Kinley about exactly how school would be, beginning with when we would wake up all the way through to "afternoon recess."

And, then we actually started.