Baby Sensory Board

It’s time to start learning with babies!

When I was teaching, my favorite area to plan with kids was sensory. But I also hated messes – what a predicament. I think it is so, so important to expose babies to sensory activities as well. Water play, jell-o, shaving cream (in a bag), paint (also in a bag), hair gel (yep, in a bag)…anything with a feeling that is different than normal. It will prepare them for more sensory experiences as they get older as well.

Back in February I had asked if anyone had any of those wipes tops for wipes bags from Target, Huggies, Wal-Mart, whatever. I had planned on making one of these sensory boards for a while, but (big surprise) it just got away from me. So I finally hunkered down and got it done a few weekends ago.

Before you begin, obviously you need to consciously hold onto these wipe top dealies. Then, make a list of some sensory surfaces to use. Here was my list:

-Pipe cleaners
-Pom poms
-Cotton fabric
-Paint (in a bag)
-Rice (in a bag)

You can put these on any board really. I was doing a small version to show you guys, but you can do it on a big poster board, foam board, whatever.

I picked out 4 from my list (cotton fabric, fleece, flannel and pom poms) and set to work. I tried the sandpaper but I couldn’t get any kind of glue to stick to it and the plastic wipe top. Not even hot glue! Can you believe it?! I give up if hot glue doesn’t work.

Glue the wipe tops onto your surface. Once your glue dries / cools (I used tacky glue for this part), cut around it with scissors.

Glue all of the tops to your board. Be careful when you do this – I used too much hot glue and it poured over and ended up gluing one of the tops shut. So I had to pry it open!

Reagan mostly just looked at it and threw it off of her high chair, so I’m going to tape it to her high chair next time.

Dylan even enjoyed playing with it!

Happy playing πŸ™‚

DIY Tag Blanket

I love babywearing.

Dan, not committed to it (I have a text message from him that says so.)

When Reagan was in the hospital, I was trolling Facebook and I saw a beautiful Tula on the buy / sell / trade site for an amazing price. I commented that I would love it, but there’s no way my husband would say yes. A friend of mine convinced me I needed it (she will remain nameless – I don’t want any hard feelings between her and Dan πŸ˜‰ ), so I said I wanted it. The seller said I had first dibs because I showed interest in it first. I, naturally, couldn’t get a hold of Dan so I was freaking. I finally did, he made his usual hums and haws at me when I say I NEED something, and it was mine!

The seller threw in some extra fabric as well and I had no idea what I was going to do with it.

Fast forward almost 3 months. I had been staring at my sewing machine for what felt like ever. It moved over to the new house, still unused. I felt like I needed to do something with that fabric for Reagan. As corny as it sounds, it symbolized our hospital stay. Weird, right?

Disclaimer – I am not a seamstress. So I am not using correct terminology. Also, my stitches are not perfect by any means. πŸ™‚

I set off to (yep) Pinterest to figure out how to turn it into a blanket. I thought it would be cute to add the little ribbons to it too because I love sensory stuff for babies.

I will not show you close up photos because it’s ugly – haha. But she doesn’t care. I just love that even though our Tula days will come to an end at some point, she will have this forever.

I am way too sentimental.

I decided since I made this on my own (with only one incident, thank-you-very-much), I would do a tutorial on one! Instead of add it to my Etsy shop. Because I have way too much stuff in there.

I started with a charm pack (a pack of 5×5 squares of fabric) that I had lying around my craft room. (Along with about 1,985 other craft items). I used pink flannel for the other side because I had some on hand (you’ll also see this pink flannel in Friday’s blog post). Wash it first. I really wanted to do minky but after some advice from people who actually sew, I decided against it. I guess it is really hard to sew because it is stretchy.

So, choose your 4 charm pack squares. You could really do as many as you want, but for this tutorial I wanted to go small. Lay them out how you want them to be in your finished product.

…Because it wouldn’t be a tutorial on this blog without a random car.

Start with 2 next to each other (I did the top 2 first) and lay them on top of each other, right sides against each other. Sew them together on the edge (if you’re doing it the same way I did, this will be the top middle seam.)

Take the next 2 and do the same.

Now you have 2 rectangles (Sorry, I didn’t take pictures of these because I did it late at night and wasn’t thinking). Put them together (right sides in) and pin them before sewing on the long edge. Trust me. I am all about short cuts, but you do not want to short cut this step.

Sew the long edge so you’re finished with a square of 4 squares. Measure your final product and cut a piece of flannel that size. Flip the charm square piece over and iron the seams flat. Again, I am all about skipping steps but this is not a step you want to skip.

Now you’re going to get the ribbons ready. Cut your various ribbons in 4 inch strips. Fold them in half and pin them on the flannel, with the folded part inside. If you pin them on your patterned piece, you want to pin them on the right side. On the corners, make sure you give plenty of room between the last ribbon on one edge and the first ribbon on the next. I didn’t make enough room on one on the first one I did so I sewed them together. Oopsie. Learn from my mistake!

With the ribbons facing upward, sew the ribbons onto the fabric where you pinned them. It doesn’t matter where you start for this one.

Take your fabric with the ribbons and put it ribbon side in and place it on your other side of fabric, right side in. (I cut off that excess pink).

Starting about a quarter of the way in on one side, sew all around to attach them together. When you get to your side where you started, only sew about 1/4 of the way in (you need this open space to flip it right side out.)

Flip the blanket right side out and fold in the opening part and pin it shut.

Sew a top stitch all around the blanket to shut it closed.


Ta da! I hope you are as proud as I was πŸ˜‰

Happy crafting!


Letter Writing Flip Book

My little Dylan started school last month. It’s at a high school so he’s “taught” by like 50 high schoolers throughout 3 class periods. I didn’t realize that at first so when I would ask him what his teachers’ names were, he always responded with “I don’t know.” Because he has 50 of them!

Anyway, he is really, really enjoying it. I asked his teacher after his first week how things were going and she told me “he is very friendly and likes to tell the teachers he likes and loves them.”

Oh boy.

He is definitely a little lover.

Before school started, I tried to get him to write letters. He refused. It was like pulling teeth. He could draw pictures and coloring in coloring books until the cows come home. But he just gets so frustrated when I ask him to write his letters. So I thought I would make an activity for him where he traced letters. BINGO! Teacher mom win.

I bought a pack of sentence strips, dry erase markers & contact paper – all from The Dollar Tree. I had picked up some binder rings from Hobby Lobby.

I cut down the sentence strips to 2.5 inches long. I took a permanent marker and wrote all the letters of the alphabet (upper case and lower case) on each 2.5 inch section. I had to thicken the letters a little so he could write on them better.

I covered the front and backs of each letter card with contact paper and punched holes in them to use the binder rings to keep them together.

He loved this! He could not get enough of it. Then I was able to sneak in some more educational games by asking him the sounds of the letters, asking him to tell me some words that begin with those sounds. It was really fun. #nerdalert

….Aaaaand because he’s a boy and everything is large motor, it is absolutely necessary that feet be that close to your writing.

Mason Jar Herb Garden


Sorry, I’m done.

I love love love when the weather gets nice out. I decided that this Spring I wanted to garden. No idea how or what to do, but I want to do it. I made some clay pots a few weeks ago and it was time to fill them. I planted some flowers in them and then decided I wanted to do a small herb garden because I have no patience whatsoever and I can start these in my house.

I started to do some research and instead of settling on something after lots of reading, I did what I do best – I got incredibly overwhelmed and decided to do it on my own.

I have been seeing mason jars being used as planters and I also have a slight obsession to anything shabby chic lately, which includes burlap, mason jars and chalkboards. I would cover my house in all of these 3 things if I didn’t think it would mean my husband would go insane. I seriously have no idea how he hasn’t yet anyway.

I painted the glass jars like I did for my pencil holders, but this time I didn’t paint them so that they were solid, if that makes sense. I did 2 layers (don’t forget to rub them down with rubbing alcohol first – this is very important. Remember, I’m lazy, so if there is a step to skip, I’d tell you) of white chalkboard paint. Then I took black paint and brushed a few strokes across the front for a spot to write what kind of herb it was. Then I did 3 layers of varnish (Hobby Lobby has a few options, but this is what I use.) After that, I took my trusty chalkboard coating (guys, I swear Hobby Lobby doesn’t pay me) and put it over the black paint.

Then I found this super cute green box in my second favorite store – the Target Dollar Spot. That damn place gets me EVERY. TIME.

So we’ll see how the basil grows! Wish us luck!

DIY Rustic Terracotta Pots

Time to get ready for Spring! What better way than to make some DIY rustic clay pots. These would be great Mother’s Day gifts, too!
DIY Rustic Clay pots

Here in Chicago, we are getting used to having super cold weather and then super warm weather a few days later. Interestingly enough, those nice days have been on the weekend.

The nice weather has been getting me in the mood for Spring. My current obsession is (or, will be) gardening. I mostly want to do it to grow vegetables hoping that if we grow them, D will eat them. I also was hoping it will teach D responsibility and he can watch everything grow.

I already have planter boxes (don’t worry, blog post soon!) so I wanted to do some terracotta pots. I hit up the Dollar Tree and they had them in packs of 2 for (yep, you guessed it) $1. They have bigger ones also but my Dollar Tree did not.

DIY Rustic Clay Pot Supplies:

  • Clay pots (I got mine at the Dollar Tree)
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brush
  • Varnish/water proof sealer

I took some acrylic paint and painted the bottom part white and the top part black. Don’t paint the whole thing. Just lightly paint it, not worrying about painting the whole thing.

DIY rustic clay pots first layer of paint


Close up of DIY rustic clay pots


Close up of top of diy rustic clay pots

Once it dried, I took some sandpaper and sanded down the white paint. You can sand it a lot or a little – it’s up to you. Then I did some of the black and every time I did some of the black, I came back to the white, which is what gave it that antiquey color. I instantly loved this look and I didn’t even mean to do it.

I then decided to add some letters – I’m going to spell out “GROW” with my pots for the deck. I did a cute one with a “J” for Kerry – the winner of my last contest! (J is the first letter of her new last name when she gets married next month!)

After adding the letter, I sanded it a little bit more. If you wait to sand the whole thing until after adding the letter, that color is going to get onto your pot, so remember that when you choose the order in which to sand.

Finally, I put 3 layers of varnish over it to make sure the weather will not hurt it once it finally can be used outside.

2 DIY rustic clay pots ready for planting


2 DIY rustic clay pots stacked inside of each other

I’m going to do flowers in these for the deck. I also had D make one for the deck. He is super excited to pick out the flower to go in there.

Come on, Spring!


Literacy and Number Activities with Foam Shapes

Happy Spring!

Well, kind of. If you live in the midwest, you probably were not surprised at the 60 degree days we have been enjoying lately. In February. Personally, I don’t care – I’ll take it. I absolutely despise cold weather. So I don’t ask questions. I do, however, take it upon myself to stop wearing my coat as soon as one of these days comes about. So, bye bye winter coat! Until next time….

Anyway, last Saturday we spent most of the day outside on the deck. Even Reagan joined us strapped into her high chair. She enjoyed it for maybe 10 minutes and then decided she was done being cooperative. πŸ˜‰

Earlier in the day, Reagan and I had a girls brunch with some old high school friends. They were coming in from the city and hit traffic so they texted me to let me know they would be late. Right as I got the text, I drove past a Dollar Tree. Coincidence? I think not! I had about 20 minutes to kill so we went in.

I knew that I had wanted to do a St. Patrick’s Day activity for the blog, so I grabbed these. They were – yep, you guessed it – $1 for a pack of 12. Inside the pack were 6 glittered (on one side) and 6 non-glittered.

I am 100% sure my sister will never ever do this project with my kids because of her sad hatred for glitter πŸ˜‰

I really wanted to start working on upper case and lower case letters with D. I used my trusty black permanent marker and wrote upper case letters on the back of the glittered shapes and lower case letters on the non glittered shapes.

A few days later, we played some games with them. Here are a few options….

The first round we played “Find my partner.” I took 6 glittered clovers and placed them on one side and their 6 matches and placed them on the other side – all face up. We would pick one of the upper case letters and then go find its lower case partner. Easy peasy.

(This is the face D puts on every single time I take out my camera)

Next round we did sort of the same set up, but flipped them over so you couldn’t see the letters. So it sort of turned into a memory game.

You could do one in between these skill levels and have only 1 group of letters be face up and the other group be face down.

We also talked about each letter as we pulled it – what sound it makes, a word that starts with that letter, a name of someone in our family, etc.  The teacher in me really came out this afternoon!

I had a few left over so I used them for numbers and working with 1 to 1 correspondence. I wrote numbers 1-4 on one set and dots on the other set.

We didn’t get to these, but we will. πŸ™‚ 1 to 1 correspondence doesn’t come for a while, so I’m not worried about it!

Baptism Decor

A few days before Reagan’s baptism, I dug through Pinterest to find decoration ideas. Because I decided a few days before the baptism that we needed decorations. Right? Right. I couldn’t find anything that I really like so of course I went at it alone. Off to Hobby Lobby πŸ™‚

The Spring shop stuff was on sale I found this super cute pink milk bottle with a gold bottom. It was like the Heavens were shining down on it – it was so beautiful! I just kind of figured out all the rest of the decor based on that. I got some fake flowers to put in there, too.

I went with burlap place mats and a burlap table runner. Also, in the wedding shop they had the flowers on a ribbon in lots of colors so I grabbed the peach. 

I have lots of hemp cord laying around so I wanted to drape something around the milk bottle. Enter the charm accents aisle. I found the cutest letter R that I put on the hemp cord.

I also had the wood picture frame laying around and painted it white. I found the little burlap pink flowers that I glued onto the frame as well. I just printed out a bunch of new pictures and had this one leftover so I put it in the frame.

For the utensils, I grabbed some glass jars and wrapped the hemp cording around it with some hot glue to attach it. I found some crosses that were charms and threaded the hemp cording through them. (I had to unthread the cording into 3 pieces to make it thinner). Then I found some pink lace that I put on the top of the jar.

For the food labels, I had some clothespins leftover from her picture frame. So I got some kraft paper cards that I cut in half and cut down some super cute floral paper and attached in on there, along with some white paper so I could write what the food was.

The table cloth on the extra table was so cute – I found a white table cloth that looked like lace! Hobby Lobby is the best!

And here’s a family picture πŸ™‚

When you have a 3 year old who hates taking pictures, you take what you can get.

Meal Planning Monday – Smoked Ribs

Well readers – I decided to hand over the blog for today for a guest blogger. And who better to be my first than my biggest supporter – My hubby! Enjoy πŸ™‚
This past Christmas I received a smoker from my brother & sister-in-law. After waiting to get through getting the house ready for the baptism (and that hospital detour) I finally put it together. We had some spare ribs from Costco and decided the Super Bowl was the perfect excuse to fire it up.  
On Saturday I got it outside to season it. I sprayed the insides with some cooking spray and ran the smoker at 225 for a few hours. I put in some hickory wood chips for the last 45 minutes. While that was going on and Reagan was napping, I started prepping the ribs.
The dry rub consisted of:
ΒΌ Cup Paprika
4 Β½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4 Β½ teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 Β½ teaspoons celery salt
1 Β½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 Β½ teaspoons garlic powder
1 Β½ teaspoons dry mustard
1 Β½ teaspoons ground cumin
I mixed all of those together other than the cayenne pepper because the wife is very sensitive to heat. Once that was together, I took the ribs out of the package and began removing the membrane. On the back side of the ribs (where you can see the bones) I used a knife to get underneath the membrane and start to separate it from the meat. Once it was started, I was able to grab it with my fingers and peel it back fairly easily. The first rib this was pretty difficult but the last two got easier. With that done, I cut each rib in half so they would fit on the racks, the dry rub went on, and the ribs went in the fridge to sit overnight.

 Sunday morning around 10 I pulled the ribs out of the fridge to let them sit, opened a beer and started the smoker. I used apple chips to cook this time. I had too much water in the water pan to start and was unable to get the temperature higher than 200. After ladling out about half of the water, I was able to get the temperature to 225 and keep it there consistently. Around 11, the ribs went in. I tried to not check on them too often other than making sure the temperature was where it needed to be. Around 3 I used a meat thermometer on the ribs and the ribs were already at 180. We had been planning to eat around 5 so we left the ribs in there for a couple more hours.
After putting together some mashed potatoes with bacon and white Vermont cheddar, we pulled the ribs out of the smoker.
They tasted great, but I do not think they got a ton of smoke flavor. I probably should have swapped out the chips more often at the start of the cooking. Live and learn. There is already a growing list of meat I’m looking forward to smoke. I have about 7 months to keep working on it so I can beat my brother-in-law in a family smoke-off.

DIY Moisturizing Bath Fizzies

My kids LOVE bath time. Reagan calms down instantly when she is put into the bath and does not stop smiling while she’s in there. It is my favorite night(s) of the week when she gets a bath because I get to watch her smile and coo. As opposed to most of her evenings which are filled with lots of screaming.

Dylan loves baths too. For a while he went through a phase where he hated them. This was the kid that would spend 4 hours in the bath if I let him. We discovered the bath tabs that change the water colors and then I looked up some more ideas to get him interested. That’s when I came across bath fizzies.

The first batch I made were very crumbly so I knew when they were gone, I needed to find a new recipe. He went through them just before we moved so I kept telling him he needed to wait until we moved to make more. He has been very patient but asking a lot about when I was making new ones. I decided to reward him today!

These bath fizzies contain coconut oil but you can pretty much use any kind of oil you want. The important thing to remember with bath fizzies is this – 2 parts baking soda to 1 part citric acid. You can add oils, essential oils, food coloring, whatever. But when you add your liquid (water, witch hazel), do it with a spray bottle. If you dump water on, it’s going to make the citric acid fizz and then you’re not going to have anything left to fizz when it’s put into the bath.

Let’s get started….

*1 cup baking soda
*1/2 cup citric acid
*3 tablespoons coconut oil
*Water in a spray bottle
*Food coloring (if desired)
*Essential oil (if desired)

*Mix the coconut oil with your food coloring (side note, I tried to make purple and only used 4 drops of blue and 3 drops of red. It’s essentially white. Use lots of color)
*In a different bowl, mix together the baking soda and citric acid.
*Add the 2 mixtures together and mix, mix, mix until your color is solid.
*Add drops of essential oil (Dylan chose orange! I used 25 drops)
***Side note, you can stop here and your mixture will not get hard so it is just a powder you can scoop into your bath***
*Start spraying the water (or witch hazel) in one spritz at a time.
*Mix after each spritz.
*Spray and mix until it is a consistency of wet sand – the kind where you can make a super cool sand castle (Ugh, I wish I were on a beach)

I think I spritzed a total of 4 times before it was ready.

*Scoop your mixture into your molds. You should do this quickly because it will start to dry.
*Pack them in as tight as you possibly can. I filled them all the way, but they expand, so I should’ve under filled them.

The top picture was right after packing them and the bottom picture was one hour later – you can see how much they expand.

I think next time I will fill them actually halfway so I can get more out of one batch.

Some recipes I have seen say to leave them in the molds overnight and some say take them out after 10 minutes and put them on a cooling rack to dry. I popped a few out after an hour and they were still a little soft on the bottom, but a few hours after that, they were all ready to be handled and mine are super thick.

Like most things I make for Dylan, he couldn’t wait to get his hands on these little guys!

DIY Window Pane Picture Frame

This is not so much a DIY as a “if you can ever get your hands on one of these windows, take it and do this” tutorial. πŸ˜‰

I saw on a garage sale site someone was giving away these beautiful window panes. $5 a piece. They had all been spoken for, but I threw my name on the list in case someone passed. And they did! She actually offered me 2 but I knew Dan would probably kill me, so I only took one.

It sat in the trunk of my car for a few weeks while I thought and thought what to do with it. Coat hanger? Bow holder? Picture Frame?

I wanted to do a bow holder first. I was going to take each glass pane out cover it with fabric and pop it back in, but the window panes didn’t come out. So it sat even longer in the trunk of my car.

After lots of grocery and Target trips and tossing tons of purchases over it, I decided to turn it into a picture frame for Reagan’s room.

Initially, I was going to just place clothespins on the window panes and hand pictures from it. But it was previously painted blue and there was some blue on the window panes and the window panes were sort of textured. So I used some windex and a blade and tried to scrape the blue paint off. I was not successful. Back to the drawing board.

I decided to take some scrapbook paper and Mod Podge it onto the window. Lucky for me, each glass pane was about 6.5 inches x 8.5 inches so I was able to cut some paper down to that and mod podge it on.

Before putting on the paper, I had to paint over some of the dirt and blue paint on the wood part of the window.

Now, I an not good at large scale Mod Podge projects. Not at all. So when I got all the paper on, I noticed that it was very wrinkly. I needed to cover it up, but how?

I grabbed some white paper (5×7 already cut) and took some adhesive strips and taped it onto the scrapbook paper. I used the same adhesive strips to attach the clothespins that I found at the craft store that were already colored the correct green for R’s room.

I printed off some pictures from Instagram and there you have it! This sucker is heavy and I am terrified to hang it! We’ll need to find some good picture hangers for it.

I am seriously OBSESSED with this! I can’t wait to get it hung in her room!