MARSHMALLOW PRINTS


Dave made a fire in the backyard the other night and Kinley was thrilled. She came screaming in the house hollering about marshmallows and going through every single cabinet that she could reach trying to wish some of those fluffy treats into existence. But, alas, no marshmallows appeared and she had to go to without her "smows".

When I was tucking her into bed that night she asked if we could buy some marshmallows at the store for eating and for painting with. I never, ever say no to a craft request (unless it involves glitter. I reserve the right to veto glitter crafts at my discretion 😉) but I wasn't quite sure what kind of painting she meant. I had just seen a really cool marshmallow painting idea from Bar Rucci on Instagram and thought maybe she had seen it over my shoulder, but no, she didn't want to paint on marshmallows, she said she wanted to paint with marshmallows. Genius, right?

I should mention that Kinley is a complete and total polka dot addict, so the fact that her sweet little dot-loving mind came up with a dot-making process all on her own is extra cool. I love that she is getting old enough to come up with her own ideas for getting creative.

We headed to the grocery store the very next afternoon and as soon as we got back home and walked through the door with our fresh bag of jumbo fluffy white sugary stampers, we squirted Kinley's choice of paint colors on a plate and got down to it.

BUBBLE WRAP FISHIES IN A PROCESS ART SEA


We are a family of unabashed fish lovers. They have literally had to kick us out of the zoo aquarium twice because they were closing and we had lost track of time watching those sharks and gorgeous finned-friends swim back and forth over and over again. This fishy fascination has led to many a sea creature craft over the past three years, but this new one was different and extra cool so I popped on over here to share it with you. Even if you aren't a serious fish lover, you can probably get down with bubble-wrap stamp fish, right?!

Kinley and I were talking about how ocean water is salty the other day, and it came to me--watercolors and epsom salt would make a perfect super cool texture-y sea! So, that's what we did.


We drew wavy lines on our own big sheets of white construction paper with a white oil pastel (crayon would work, too!) and painted over the top with all of the different shades of blue watercolors in Kinley's little box. This works really well with liquid watercolors, but we are completely out of all of our shades of blue, so we had to try a different method and it worked great. After we had covered our papers with blue paint, we dipped our paintbrushes in the plain water rinse jar and painted swaths of water on top of the blue paint. While there was still a puddle, we quick sprinkled epsom salt on top and repeated until we were satisfied, and when our paintings were all dry, we brushed the salt off and admired the really cool bubbly texture it left behind. Perfect!

The empty sea paintings were nice in their own way, but Kinley was antsy to fill up her little ocean, and cute little bubble-wrap fishies seemed like the perfect addition.

CRUSHED CEREAL ART


I made a sensory/fine motor/fun bin for Kinley about six months ago that was just basically one giant generic bag of fruit ring cereal, some plastic lanyard string for making necklaces and colored bowls for sorting and scooping. Ever since I cleaned that bin up and put the cereal back in the giant bag it came in, it's been staring at me and taking up some serious sensory shelf real estate. Time to figure out another use for that stale, rainbow-colored stuff!

I saw and saved a super cool crushed fruit ring cereal art idea on Instagram from sidebysidestudio.com a few weeks ago and it seemed like the perfect simple and fun solution.

I gathered up our IKEA rainbow bowls and hollered for Kinley to help me sort those loops by color. That girl loves to sort, which is a very good thing because sorting half a giant bag of rainbow rings takes some serious dedication. 😉

After we got them all neatly sorted, I broke out the meat tenderizer and she got really interested. We just dumped each color into its own plastic sandwich bag and smashed those rings until there wasn't a single ounce of rage or frustration in our bodies! What is it about smashing stuff that makes ya feel so much better I wonder? (I wanted to use our mortar and pestle for this step, but I have no clue which basement box that thing found its way into.)

Anyway, after we had turned our rainbow cereal into rainbow dust, we dumped it all back into each pretty plastic bowl. Isn't it just gorgeous?! Who wouldn't wanna get creative with this stuff?!

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.