March 31, 2012

Paint a Shower Curtain Mural

We just started our Spring Break and the kids are already itching for something to do.  Today's activity was fun and super inexpensive (I'm talking $1!!).   While my son played downstairs, the girls and I created this fun Spring mural on a shower curtain.  We had a good time painting it and now our bathroom has been spruced up with a touch of Spring.

Check it out...

And here's how our "canvas" started out...

That's right, we used a cheap shower curtain liner from the Dollar Store.  ( I'm sure you could upgrade to a fabric one or a heavier weight one, but this worked great for us and we can afford to make new ones whenever we want!)

I just spread out an old sheet on the floor, spread out the shower curtain liner, and we got to work.  We used a bunch of acrylic paints I had on hand and painted on a whole Spring scene ~ a tree, birds, butterflies, bumblebees, flowers, caterpillars and even a hummingbird!  To personalize our mural, I painted on a "carved" heart with the kids' names on it.

Here's a few "close-ups" of the details.

Isn't it cheery?  It really brightens up our bathroom and the kids love it (and I do too!).  Every time my youngest daughter comes out of the bathroom she says, "That just makes me happy".  At just $1, I know we'll be making more for each season and for different themes.

10 Clever Solutions for Kid-Related Problems

Let's face it, parenting can be tough.  Every day we face any number of challenges and we don't always have easy solutions.  I may not have the answers for the really big issues, but I have collected several great tips for many of those little annoyances that can be just as challenging when you deal with them day after day.

The best part?  Most of these tips are simple, easy, why-didn't-I-think-of-that solutions to common problems you'll come across during your crafts, projects and day-to-day life.  Many thanks to several awesome kid-centered bloggers for their input and great advice.

The Problem:  It's a nice day, the kids are outside blowing bubbles, but within minutes, someone's bottle of "bubble juice" spills.  Now a kid is crying, you're trying to refill it and spilling more than you're getting into the bottle.  Pretty soon, the fun day of bubbles is full of tears and spills.

The Solution:  Get an inexpensive plastic container with a faucet and re-filling bubble containers is a breeze.  Plus, you can make your own bubble solution and save a few bucks too! 
(Tip and bubble recipe from right HERE at Come Together Kids)

The Problem:  After a fun afternoon of crafting, there's glitter everywhere.

The Solution:  Two awesome moms gave this solution ~ use playdoh to clean up the sparkles!  Just press the playdoh onto the glitter and it'll pick it right up.  Now your craft space is sparkle free and you have some fun glitter playdoh to play with!
(Thanks Jamie, from Hands on as we Grow and Esther from Creativity My Passion)

Photo from Creativity My Passion

The Problem:  Your kids have just worked hard carefully layering colored sand into a Sand Art masterpiece and put the lid on.  Unfortunately, within minutes, the jar has been jostled and all those pretty layers turn into a muddled mess.

The Solution:  I'm not going to give away the secret, but here's a hint... all you need is some glue to keep the layers in place.  Check out Kristen's great tip at Busy Kids = Happy Mom!

The Problem:  Your little ones are hard at work using pattern blocks and making fun pictures and shapes.  Then someone bumps the table, all the pieces shift and the beautiful design is all messed up.

The Solution:  Take a look at the sticky trick MaryAnne came up with  HERE at MamaSmiles to solve the problem.  Now the pieces stay in place and the kids can make elaborate pattern block creations without worrying about shifting tiles.

The Problem:  You want to make some fun melted crayon molds, but the thought of peeling off all those crayon wrappers has you looking towards other projects instead.  (If you've ever spent an hour unwrapping crayons and picking bits of crayon out from under your fingernails, you know exactly why we need a better solution!)

The Solution:  Check out this clever solution Cari shows us at Time for Play.  All you need is a container of water and your work is done for you.

The Problem:  Your children like to show off their independence at breakfast and pour their own syrup.  (or salad dressing at lunch, or Parmesan cheese at dinner, etc.)   Unfortunately portion control has not yet been mastered and their food is soon swimming in syrup or other condiments.

The Solution:  Take a few minutes to pour single serving sizes in individual containers.  (We used the plastic baby food containers)  Then set out their plate and let them pour away to their hearts content. 
(Tip from right HERE at Come Together Kids)

BONUS food-related tip suggested by several clever bloggers... Use kitchen shears to cut your young children's food.  Works great on chicken nuggets, fruits, veggies, pizza, etc and it's way quicker than a knife and fork.

The Problem:  Your preschooler keeps trying to string beads, only to have a tough time managing holding the string and getting the beads on.

The Solution:  Deborah at Teach Preschool. offers this tip... tape one end of the string to the table!  Now your little one only has to hold one end of the string and they have their other hand free to pick up beads and string them on.

The Problem:  Your kids leave the lids off their markers and they've dried out.

The Solutions :  We have two solutions for this dilemma.  The first tip is from Valerie of Inner Child Fun

 "When markers start to dry out, dip the tips into white vinegar and set so that the tips are standing up. Wait about 5 minutes, then blot the marker tip on some paper until the color starts to show. Place the cap back on, and let sit overnight"
Another tip is from Trisha at Inspiration Laboratories.
  "When markers start to dry out, you can also dip the tips in water and paint with them. It will have a watercolor effect"

The Problem:  Your kids stuck some crayons in their pockets and now they've gone through the washer and dryer!

The Solution:  MaryAnne from Mama Smiles has the following suggestion...

 If you dry a load of laundry with a crayon, you can get it out by running the load through a HOT wash with a little laundry detergent and some oxiclean. Toothpaste and a toothbrush works wonders at getting crayon out of a dryer drum. It even smells nice. Run a load of rags to remove any remaining crayon/toothpaste before running a load of clothes you care about. I once washed and dried FOUR crayons that my darling daughter had put in her pockets. I hadn’t even thought to check her pockets, as she was only one and I didn’t think she knew what pockets were for…
Check out MaryAnne's other awesome kid-related laundry tips HERE 

The Problem: Your child has a special day,trip or event coming up and you are constantly bombarded with "How many more days until..." questions.

The Solution:  Make this cute little stand they can use to countdown to the big day.  
(Idea and Tutorial HERE at Come Together Kids)

Well, there you have it!  Weren't these 10 solutions clever?  I hope you've found some great tips you can use to make your life a little easier (and give you more time to focus on the trickier problems like sleeping through the night, potty training and picky eaters!)

Sharing our clever solutions at:

March 28, 2012

Lisa Leonard Designs Giveaway Winner

Well, it looks like this time the early bird gets the worm.  The winning comment was chosen by and the lucky winner of a $50 gift card to Lisa Leonard Designs is...

Entry #2 which was this one by Heather...

Look at this pretty Tiny Twig Necklace that Heather said was her favorite. So pretty!

Heather, I'll be emailing you tonight to let you know that you won, and I'll pass along your info to Lisa.

For all my other readers who didn't win, don't forget that you still have a few days to use the special discount code Lisa gave my readers for 20% off.  Use code SHOPPING20 (expires 3/30/12).  Treat yourself to something special (or email a link to your favorite piece and the code as a gift hint!)

Thanks to everyone who participated and a special thanks to Lisa for this opportunity.

Magic Crown Mirror (and Mirror, Mirror movie Giveaway!)

When I first saw the trailer for the new Mirror Mirror movie, I knew a trip to the theater would be part of our Spring Break plans.  Snow White was one of the first movies I saw in the theater myself as a little girl (when it was re-released in the 70's, not the original in 1937!) and I knew my own kids would love seeing a "real-life" version of one of their favorite animated movies.  The movie comes out on March 30th and it's rated PG, so it'll be perfect for my family.

Then, shortly after I saw the trailer, I was contacted by the makers of the movie to come up with a craft or project inspired by the Snow White story.   Seriously, how cool is that?  One of my projects connected to a major motion picture?  It's the closest I'll ever come to being a movie star!!

 Now, before I get to my project, here's a brief synopsis (check out the amazing cast!)

One of the most beloved stories of all time is coming to life in the motion picture event for the whole family, Mirror Mirror.  A fresh and funny retelling of the Snow White legend, Mirror Mirror features breakout star Lily Collins (The Blind Side) as Snow White, a princess in exile, and Oscar®-winner Julia Roberts as the evil Queen who ruthlessly rules her captured kingdom. Seven courageous rebel dwarfs join forces with Snow White as she fights to reclaim her birthright and win her Prince in this magical comedy filled with jealousy, romance, and betrayal that will capture the hearts and imaginations of audiences the world over.  The film also stars Armie Hammer (The Social Network) as the Prince, and Nathan Lane (The Birdcage) as the hapless and bungling servant to the Queen.

And you have to check out the Mirror, Mirror website.  You can watch the trailer for the movie and your kids can play in Snow White's virtual dressing room, choosing their own outfits and hairstyles for the princess.  Oh, and check out the Social Queen tab on the website ~ it's a clever little clip showing the Queen using all sorts of social media!  Of course, you can follow and "like" Mirror, Mirror on Facebook yourself and even see what they have on Pinterest!

Now for my Mirror, Mirror inspired project...

I knew right away that I wanted my project to have some sort of mirror.  I also knew that I wanted this mirror to be very special, even magical, just like the one in Snow White.   The girls and I love the way it turned out (my son thought it was cool, but preferred to just let his sisters use its magic!)

Check it out...

First, we have this lovely maiden.  
She's sweet and kind, 
but is she the fairest in the land?

I don't know, 
let's consult with our magic mirror...

The lovely maiden peers 
into the magic mirror and...

Indeed, she is the fairest in the land!
 A lovely princess wearing 
a gorgeous, gem-studded crown!

And look, the magic mirror will work on all the 
lovely maidens in the castle.

The magic powers of the mirror
will even work on the royal kitten.

It even makes a tired mommy look a little better, 
but you'll just have to take my word on that one!

This mirror is such a fun little addition to the girls' bedroom and it was so inexpensive and easy to make!  (The only hard part was trying to photograph it!  Have you ever tried to take a halfway decent picture of a mirror without getting yourself or the room behind it in the shot?  It's really tough!!)

Here's what to do...

1.  Find a mirror that's big enough to include a life-size crown.  I lucked out and found this mirror at Goodwill for just $8.  With a little bit of pink spray paint, it was perfect!

2. Next, gather your supplies ~ some glitter glue, some sparkly gems, and a hot glue gun.  (I found all these gems at the Dollar Store.)

3.  Have your child stand a normal distance away from the mirror, and use the glitter glue to draw the size and position of the bottom of your crown so it will "fit" on their head when they look in the mirror.

It's a little tricky to see, but notice the curved line?

4.  Then, using hot glue, begin attaching the gems to the mirror until your crown is full of sparkling gems and jewels!  (I originally planned on just using the glitter glue to attach the gems, but it was taking forever to dry, so I moved on to my handy glue gun instead!)

5.  Next, I just outlined around the gems with the glitter glue to add a little more sparkle and substance to our crown.

6.  Finally, tie a bow with some sparkly ribbon (mine was also from the Dollar store) and attach it to the back of your mirror so you can hang it up.

7.  That's it!  Hang up your mirror and enjoy a little magic each time you catch your reflection and see the princess within!

So how about you?  Will you be seeing the Mirror Mirror movie with your family when it comes out on March 30th?  How would you like a cool prize pack to go along with it?

The generous folks at Relativity Media have put together this great prize pack for one lucky winner:
  •  $25 Fandango gift card
  •  Tshirt
  •  Apple Snow Globe
  •  Lip Balm
  •  Mirror Compact 
  •  Tote Bag 
Open to U.S. Residents only.  Ends April 4, 2012.

To enter, just leave me a comment on this post.  (It can be about anything ~ your favorite Snow White memory, your plans for the Mirror, Mirror movie, your thoughts on our Magic Mirror!)

For additional entries, share this post.  (You'll see share buttons on the tab on the right side of this post and a Pinterest button right below the post).  Leave a comment telling me where you shared it, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  One comment for each share.

Finally, make sure you check out these other fantastic projects inspired by Snow White and Mirror, Mirror that are being shared this week! 
Disclosure:  This post was sponsored by Relativity Media.  However, all opinions and the mirror project are 100% mine.  (The two lovely maidens and the royal kitten are mine too!)

Sharing our fairytale magic at:

March 25, 2012

Basketball Krispie Treats

Last Spring, when my son played Little League Baseball, I made these cute Baseball Treats for his team.  This Spring, he played basketball for the first time and I wanted to make a similar treat for his last game this weekend.  They were really fairly simple to make and they were a big hit with the kids.  They'd also be fun for a March Madness party or any sports-themed event.

Here's what you need: (makes 24 treats)

  • 8 cups Rice Krispie cereal
  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1 bag marshmallows
  • orange food coloring (optional)
  • orange melting chocolates
  • brown melting chocolates
Here's what to do:

1.  Just like with regular Rice Krispie treats, melt your butter and marshmallows in a large pot over medium heat.  (Add some orange food coloring if you wish to tint the treats themselves. ) 

2.  Remove from heat, then stir in your 8 cups of cereal.  Stir until the cereal is coated with your marshmallow mixture, then spoon into greased muffin tins.  Use a piece of waxed paper coated with cooking spray to push the mixture into the muffin tins.

3.  Allow the treats to cool in the tins as you melt your orange melting chocolate.  (I have this Chocolate Melting Pot that I love for this kind of treats.  It keeps the melted chocolate at the right consistency so I can dip a whole bunch of treats without reheating.)  Dip one side of your Krispie Treats in the melted orange chocolate  (I dipped the smoother side that was pressed against the bottom of the tin).

4.  As the orange chocolate is cooling, melt your brown chocolate for the lines.  (When I made the Baseball Treats last year, I attempt to pipe it on using a ziploc bag and it was really tough.  This year, I used these  Mini Decorating Squeeze Bottles and it was SO much easier.  I just melted the chocolate, then poured it in the bottle.) 

 If you're just serving the treats on a tray at a party, I'm sure you could just use regular frosting instead of the chocolate.  However, the chocolate lines are great if you're packaging the treats up because they won't smear.

Excuse the crappy picture, it was late at night and I didn't see how blurry it was.

5.  Next, just squeeze on your lines on the basketballs.  I simply made a cross, then two curved lines on either side. 

6.  It went super quick with that squeeze bottle and I cranked out 24 cute basketballs in no time.

7.  I made up a simple little bag topper (printable here), then packaged up two basketball treats in a sandwich bag for each teammate.

Funny little story:  When I showed the bags to my son, he didn't understand it at first.  I had to explain that "had a ball" is an expression meaning "had a good time".  As he was passing out the treats, he explained the expression to each kid to make sure they understood.

Sharing our slam dunk at:

March 22, 2012

Getting Ready for Spring with Miracle-Gro® Expand ‘n Gro™ Concentrated Planting Mix

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Scotts® for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

We're now on week two of some unseasonably warm weather on the East Coast.  Often here in Maryland, the first day of Spring is chilly, cloudy and damp.  This year, however, the temperatures have been in the 70's and the sun has been shining almost every day.  Not only has this perfect weather quickly pushed aside my normal late-winter blues, but It's also got me thinking about Spring planting several weeks earlier than usual.

You see, every year around Mother's Day, the kids and I usually go to a nearby garden center and pick up some pretty flowers for our hanging baskets and large flower pots  on our back deck.  They love picking out the colorful flowers and they REALLY love getting their hands dirty as we put in the plants in the containers.  With these warm days we've been having, I was inspired to run out and pick up a few early season plants and get a jump start on this year's planting.  Not only can I now look out my back window and see some pretty pansies and snapdragons, but it gave me the chance to try out the new  Expand ‘n Gro™ Concentrated Planting Mix by Miracle-Gro®.

EnG Product Shot.png

I was familiar with the regular Miracle-Gro® plant foods and I'd always been impressed with how great my flowers looked after I used it.  This new product is a little different and is a great alternative to native soil or regular potting mix.  A few of its features...

-Up to 3X the Flowers and Vegetables!* (*versus native soil)
-Significantly improves soil for multiple years
-Concentrated planting mix expands up to 3X when water is added
-Feeds for up to 6 months
-All natural fibers hold up to 50% more water than basic potting soil

It's that last feature that I think will be great for me.  You see, sometimes I forget to water my plants as often as I should.  When we were planting our flowers in the Expand 'n Gro mix, I could see how much water those natural coconut coir fibers absorbed and held.  While I know I won't be able to neglect my plants completely, I'm comforted by the fact that mix will help hold onto the water that I do give them.  That feature, coupled with the Miracle-Gro® plant food that's in the mix, is sure to bring the kids and I gardening success!

Check out this short video clip that explains this new planting mix...

And now look at the fun we had planting with it...


See?  Even our new kitten enjoyed the planting.  Oh, and the snapdragons?  Such fun for the kids!   They're like pretty little flower puppets.  I'm really looking forward to seeing this burst of Spring color now every time I look out my back door.


Do you like gardening  or planting with your kids?   Leave me a comment  (one per person, please) letting me know your favorite thing about gardening and how you would use Expand 'n Gro at your house.  One lucky commenter will be chosen at random to receive a sample size bag of Miracle-Gro® Expand ‘n Gro™.


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