DIY Doll Swing


For all of her willingness to play along with her older brother in his games of police and fire rescues, Zoe is also beginning to really delve into her role as Mama to her baby doll. It is such a joy to see her imagination and ability to enter into pretend play of her own develop. And as you know… I love a good excuse to make toys for my kids.


I got my inspiration for this doll swing from the book Creative Play for Your Toddler. ( you are a long tie follower of Folk Haven you may remember seeing it before in this post.


While I followed the project in the book as a basic guideline I didn’t use their measurements. It all began with this shirt that was gifted to me for fabric after it had worn out. (Thanks, Jacki!) IMG_3704

I took the front side of it, removed the buttons, and used the hem and button panel. I then hemmed the left side. Basically it is a rectangle 9″ (with a 1″ hem on each side) by 17″ (not hemmed although to original shirt hem is there), or get the book and use theirs.

IMG_3706The book’s directions ask you to glue the cloth to the stick (or dowel rod but I use what I had on hand, or rather, in the yard). I did that for the first stick, but didn’t like how that worked as much as just sewing a sleeve to slide the stick in… probably if I were using a dowel rod it would have glued on more nicely.

IMG_3707I sewed a sleeve for the other end and for the stick that goes in the middle  of the cloth to separate the seat from the back.



IMG_3715Then using a craft knife I scored around the ends of the sticks at the top and the bottom of the cloth to keep the string from slipping off.IMG_3716A couple of eye hooks into the edge of the patio ceiling and the swing was ready to hang with a couple of lengths of yarn.



The only thing I think I will change, is I will add a bit of a baby safety belt. Eli pushes a bit enthusiastically, which can send the baby flying… something Zoe finds MOST distressing (as any good mama would). ūüėČ



IMG_3729And I really love that this project didn’t cost me a dime!

Button Snowflake Decorations


Eli is so excited to be living in a place where we will get snow this year. The first week we moved here last August he asked me excitedly if there would be snow when he woke up in the morning. For a four year old, these last three months have been a long wait. We still haven’t seen any snow but the temperatures have been getting low enough that it is at least possible. (I know many of my friends and families in other parts of the country are drowning in it right now.)


I recently saw this seasonal decoration idea in my Facebook newsfeed. It is so simple and self-explanatory that I didn’t even follow the link at the time and now can’t remember the original source.


I have a big basket of buttons, and many of them white as I never throw away a shirt without first saving the buttons. I had the kids sort out a couple of little bowls of white ones for this project and I glued popsicle sticks and tongue depressors with the hot glue gun. IMG_3324

I let the kids squeeze their own Elmer’s glue (hand-over-hand for the 20 month old, of course) on the snowflake forms and then place buttons along the lines of glue. IMG_3322

This is an excellent fine motor activity. I let Eli use the smaller popsicle stick snowflakes with tiny buttons while Zoe did the tongue depressor ones with the bowl of larger buttons. Zoe loved squeezing out the glue but the feeling of glue on her hands drove her to distraction. After using a few wipes she was ready to get at it again and did a good job of carefully placing the buttons on without getting her hands coated again.

IMG_3330Now our button snowflakes are floating down over the dollhouse.




When they were finished Eli and Zoe played together with the rest of my buttons and their garbage truck for the longest time. ūüôā

Pinterest Challenge: Homemade Paint

I recently saw this on Facebook, and later found it on Pinterest. Perhaps you’ve seen it too.

I love the idea of being able to inexpensively supply my kids with art supplies, and my son loves to mix, cook and experiment so this was an activity that HAD to happen.

We mixed up a full batch, waiting to mix in the food colors until we had divided it into four different containers.


We found that the paint was super gritty, and additional stirring didn’t seem to help.


I took the kids outside to paint on some cardboard…


And a tree…


and my sensory-seeking son couldn’t resist the urge to go all out with the body paint.


And while it was good, messy, non-toxic fun, the paint really didn’t adhere very well to much of anything, remaining grainy and pasty.


After giving the kids a good bath I began to wonder if perhaps cooking the paint might make it smoother. After all, play dough has a quite a bit of salt in it but isn’t gritty.

So back to the kitchen for a quick half-batch to test out my theory…


I found that when cooking it the ratio of water to the other ingredients goes way up. Sorry, I didn’t measure;¬†I just kept adding water as the mixture kept clumping and coming together like play dough.

It felt like the salt was dissolving but I had a lumpy mess, so I put it in the Magic Bullet with some additional water.


The result? A nice smooth white paint base.


Mix in the colors…


and give it a try on Eli’s easel paper.


Two thumbs up!

Next time I will use more food colors for darker paints. I learned long ago when working in a preschool to mix dish soap in with kids paint. It helps any accidents to wash out of clothing better.

So while I really like the idea of using old ketchup bottles to store this paint, the original post won’t give you a paint worth storing. With added water, cooking and blending though you can get a paint that will save you money on your kids’ art supplies.


Finger Paint and Shaving Cream


A couple of weeks ago Eli and I set up his water table outside for some good old messy sensory fun!

I had a partial can on Dollar Store shaving cream and some homemade finger paints left over from other activities.


A few cooking utensils added to the enjoyment.


So interesting to see the colors swirl and mix together!


But on a hot day, the clean up process proved to be the best part of all. This boy loves his garden hose!


Homemade Finger Paints

On one of my Pinterest boards I have this recipe from Raising 4 Princesses. Given Eli’s recent interest in painting it seemed like the perfect time to give it a try. After being disappointed by the set of natural food colors I went ahead and picked up a pack of conventional food colors for this project. There are other interesting finger paint recipes out there, but I wanted one that while still non-toxic would definitely not taste good as I don’t go to great lengths reading every label known to man only to serve up a heaping dose of artificial coloring to Eli in the tempting form of delicious art supplies.

With no further ado, here we go. You won’t believe how crazy quick and easy this is!


2 T. sugar

1/3 c cornstarch

2 c. water

Boil until it forms a gel. It doesn’t take long at all. It will look like this (except it will still be in your pan.)

Add 1/4 c. liquid soap

Not only does it now taste bad but it is washable too!

Divide into separate containers. Add a few squirts of food coloring.

After this test I did add a little more dye to the green paint.

Stir, et viola… cheap, easy and washable finger paint!

If you click through on the link to my source for this recipe you will see that she let her kids go crazy with this stuff outdoors all over a bed sheet. Amazingly, she found that it all washed off afterwards with a hose!

Before giving this a go I decided to do a test on the dishtowel I’d already splattered a bit while making the paint. (Adult sounding excuse… but really I couldn’t keep my own fingers out of it. This stuff just begs to be smeared!)

After washing the paint off the towel under the tap I was still left with a pink stain. Perhaps with a stain treatment and a proper laundering this will come out. Even so I added a bit more soap to the container of red paint. Red is the one you’d want to taste particularly bad anyway! (If only I had some essential oil of something Eli would find truly revolting, like lettuce, avocado or cantaloup… but actually I don’t have much of a problem with him putting non-food items in his mouth anymore.)

The first time I let Eli have a go with these paints he didn’t want to touch them at all and practically had a meltdown demanding a brush. I gave him the brush , of course, as I certainly don’t want painting to become some form of chore or torture, but it really did defeat the purpose of it becoming a sensory ¬†activity. I have noticed a growing sensitivity to having messy hands with Eli. To address this I will be bringing more of these gloppy sorts of activities into his sensory diet.

So Mama got to scheming… A few days later I asked Eli if he would like to go outside, and paint, with his FEET! The suggestion was greeted with a “Yay!” by a toddler who had never before been in such a hurry to change his clothes.

I decided to just use a large sheet of paper instead of trying out the bed sheet painting activity. I was just not in the mood to create more laundry today.

As our sidewalk is on a bit of an incline and the paint is somewhat slippery I think doing foot painting on a textured piece of cloth may be a bit safer.

After a while a nervous Mama suggested he squat down and try using his hands. By now he didn’t think twice about not wanting to touch the paint, although he did then keep asking me to wipe his hands off. I just showed him how to try to wipe it off himself using the paper. We made some progress with his tolerating the feeling of the paint on his hands, but he soon decided he was done.

Clean up is always great fun when it involves a hose, especially when there are bubbles involved!

The Genesis of a New Obsession?

The other day I decided it was high time I get Eli involved in some painting activities. He has done a little bit of painting at school, but it didn’t seem to make much of an impression on him. I picked up some chunky paint brushes and some watercolors in preparation.

I’m not sure how he did it, but he managed to reach way into the fenced off sewing are (a.k.a dining room) and snagged the brushes off of the ironing board where I had placed them when unloading the bag from the store.

I have no idea what happened to the watercolors. Perhaps we have an out-of-season leprechaun problem? I’m sure they will show up eventually as I bought two sets on separate shopping trips. In the meantime Eli was beside himself needing to paint RIGHT NOW!

Luckily, I had a set of acrylic poster paints in the house. I mixed a glob of green and another of blue into small dishes of water. Eli, paper and paint came together in his high chair.

He was entranced! I love the expression of serious focus and concentration he gets on his face while painting. You can tell this is serious work and not some frivolous game to him! We will have to work on the concept that a picture can be “done” while unused paint still remains. Either that or I just have to offer less paint for a while. When he had finished there was a beautiful but very sloshy lake of paint in the middle of his paper.

Another use for the abundance of D.A.R.E. shirts I’ve been blessed with.

The next morning my boy, who normally will sleep at least until 8 a.m. and often until 9:30 if we don’t have anywhere to go in the morning, was up at 5:30! He cut his wake-up nursing session drastically short (which NEVER happens) and grabbed his paint brushes. He made it clear that it was imperative he get started immediately, and no time to waste!

I gave him back the dried painting from the day before and some yellow paint. This time I didn’t thin the paint and I gave him one of my thinner paintbrushes. Once again ¬†he worked away with incredible focus and concentration. (This is the child who could not sit down for more than 30 seconds ever or remain with one activity longer than 2 minutes just 6 months ago!)


I’m thrilled Eli loves painting. Fine Art was my major in college. After much dabbling in many different mediums I focused on painting for my senior show. I haven’t done a lot of painting since those days but the love is still there.

Going forward… I need to make an easel for Eli. I would love for him to have the ability to go and begin to paint independently. Of course, there will be a fair amount of supervision and practice of expected behavior leading up to that. You know, small considerations such as using a smock and loaded paintbrushes staying in the painting area!

Our highchair painting extravaganza has left us with a very stained highchair tray. The sun, which does a great job of quickly bleaching out food stains, doesn’t begin to touch these! I rarely use chlorine bleach but perhaps I’ll have to now. Maybe you have a different suggestion?

I also need to lay in a supply of non-toxic paint. I wasn’t completely comfortable with letting him use the acrylic poster paints that are not meant for toddlers. I am learning that in the Waldorf tradition, high quality art materials are used. Cheap children’s materials (think Rose Art brand crayons) can frustrate and turn kids off. Eli is too young now to care if his paint brush sheds a bristle now and then into his work, but I remember as a child being upset by that happening. And just as children tend to take better care of their toys when they have fewer, higher quality toys, the same applies to the judicious use and care of art supplies. Honestly though, at this stage I think the main concern is safety. When Eli reaches the stage of greater intentionality in what he is trying to create the quality will be a greater factor of consideration for me. Right now he seems to be driven more by the joy of the process.

I’m not sure about the expense of using the “good stuff”. ¬†I would like to encourage Eli to be free to create and experiment to his heart’s content and not feel like I have to ration supplies that are too precious. I’m also wary of the attitude that one needs to buy only “approved” materials from Waldorf suppliers. But the jury is still out as I haven’t yet had the time to do my research. I’m sure I’m not the first parent with this concern. I’m off to find out how other families have ¬†provided eco-friendly, non-toxic, good quality art supplies for their budding Rembrandts without breaking the bank. If you have any ideas to share please leave a comment.

Mama’s got some readin’ to do.

Thanks for stopping by!


Colorful Fizzy Fun!

When I saw this idea from on Pinterest today I decided it was the perfect activity for my fussy feverish little boy. ¬†Basically it involves a dropper, small containers full of food coloring and vinegar and a pan with a layer of baking soda.Side note: See the smaller bowl ¬†of red? Supposedly it is blue. I spent way too much buying all natural food dye in our quest to avoid all artificial coloring in Eli’s food. My initial reason for buying it was to make Cookie Monster cupcakes for his birthday. They were made and served, but there is a reason why they never appeared on the blog. Interestingly the green dots in the baking soda below came from that bowl so the color isn’t as off as it would initially seem. Anyone out there with any suggestions for good food coloring options for people going the all natural route?

The little one didn’t seem in the least put out by the quality of his colors though. He just really liked watching them fizz.

It’s a great activity to work on pinch strength and control.

I’m a fan of any activity that lets a great little guy forget he feels crummy for a little while.

I didn’t get a picture of the best part of all. When we were all finished with the activity we dumped all of the leftover dye and baking soda down a sluggish drain in the bathroom. Then Eli gleefully added quite a bit additional vinegar. while exclaiming “Whoa!”

Here’s where I’m linking up!


Homemaker on a Dime,  I {heart} Naptime,  Flamingo Toes, My 1929 Charmer Blog,

What I Wore Sunday


Get Outta My Head Please, Skip to My Lou, The Gunny Sack, Sew Can Do,

Singing Three Little Birds, Etcetorize, C.R.A.F.T.,  diy home sweet home,

Craft-O Maniac, Sew Chatty, Artful Rising, Sarahndipities ,

Everything Under the Moon, The Cure for the Common Monday


At Home With K, Not Just a Housewife, Hope Studios, Funky Polkadot Giraffe,

Kammy’s Korner, The Kurtz Corner, I’m Topsy Turvy, Tip Junkie, the space between,

Raising 4 Princesses, The Creative Itch Boutique, Schwin and Schwin

Tip Junkie handmade projects


Sew Much Ado, Frugally Sustainable, The Shady Porch, Lil’ Luna,

Someday Crafts, Passionately Artistic, Whatever Wednesday, Trendy Tots, Whimsy Wednesday


Mom On Timeout, Thrifty Decorating, Bear Rabbit Bear, Thriving on Thursdays

The Crafty Blogstalker, The Shabby Creek Cottage, House of Hepworths,

Sorta Crunchy, Delightful Order, Saved by Love Creations, Anything Goes Linky Party,


Simply Designing, Whipperberry,  Happy Hour Projects, kojodesigns,

Joyful Stamper, Making Lemonade Blog, Thirty Handmade Days,

Release Me Creations, Naptime Crafters, Romantic Home, Finding Fabulous,

Shabby Nest, French Country Cottage, The Charm of Home, The Grant Life,

At the Picket Fence, Fingerprints on the Fridge, One Art Mama, 2805, Pencilled Daydream


The Gingerbread Blog, Too Much Time On My Hands,

Six Sisters Stuff, Serenity You, Be Different Act Normal