Category Archives: gifts

DIY clothespin gifts 


This is overly simple, but Pen Elaine painted a bunch of clothespins that we used for Mother’s Day gifts this year. I was thinking they would make great teacher gifts, as well. I use clothespins all the time and love using the ones that my sister painted for me several years back. The ones that are simply painted, without anything glue or stuck on, really hold up the best and are useful for all purposes, so even though this may seem like too easy of a gift, they could always be paired up with a bag of chips and salsa or something like that!

The way we tackled these was one side at a time, clipped around the edge of a paper plate that held the paint choices in the middle. After completing one side of all the clothespins, they were left to dry by being clipped onto a second paper plate. Once one side was dry, we brought them back to the “paint plate” and clipped them with the unpainted side facing up. Ta-Da!

I forgot to take a pic of our finished product before they were gifted…but they ended up with swirly mixed paint finishes, as is currently the favorite painting technique of Pen Elaine 😉



Personalized “grandma” gifts



So, we used these as Christmas gifts, but here’s some ideas for Mother’s Day or grandparents day, etc. I had seen another blogger paint handprints on little tea towels for the kitchen and matching hot pad, and I thought that was genius! To emulate, I bought hot pad sets from Walmart and looked up ideas for turning hand or footprints into art. Then, I let pen Elaine choose which cheesy artwork to use for our prints. We ended up with the heart shown above for a few, as well as a crab, some footprint birds (I decided to only use Snuggly Man’s feet after painting one with his hands.), and a dinosaur. They turned out cute and very personal!

For a card or photo display for my mom, I took a piece of finished out wood/sign from hobby lobby and glued on a wooden shape that Pen Elaine had already painted. Then, I wrote Deuteronomy 4:9 on there with paint- after hot glueing clothespins, spaced evenly, along the bottom. I determined spacing and placement by having a photo in them and marking my determined spots with pencil.


Sweet Storybook Baby Shower

Sweet Storybook Baby Shower


For a good friend having her third baby any day now, I had so much fun throwing a storybook baby shower. She is having a little girl; so, sweet, vintage books that included old Nancy Drew, Madeline, and a collection of Golden books were perfectly enchanting for the decorations, along with a vintage-looking baby girl dress, and a banner made of book pages and craft-paper lettering that read “Sweet Baby.”


For my chalkboard art above the food table, I put a quote by Hans Christian Anderson, “Every man’s life is a fairy tale written by God’s own fingers.”

IMG_1132.JPGBaby Shower FOOD!

I thought long and hard about what to serve at this afternoon (storybook) shower. Knowing I had my own nursing baby and that I would be out of town the week before the shower (getting back home the day before the shower…not in the plan when we picked the shower date, ha!), I wanted to choose foods that went along with childrens’ books and could also be mainly prepared and frozen a week or two ahead…So I decided on cookies! If you give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff is a super fun book that turned into a series, one that my own Pen Elaine loves and is great for learning cause and effect, as well as practicing the concepts around reading comprehension and order of events. I made two of my favorite cookie dough recipes (Chewy Brownie cookies & PB Nutella cookies) a couple weeks in advance, spooned them onto a cookie sheet to cool in freezer, rolled them into balls and froze on the cookie sheet before storing all the cookie dough balls in freezer bags labeled with the baking directions. I simply placed dough balls on baking sheets and followed the directions on the morning of the shower.

For a third cookie option that looked more “girly, I made(super simple) red velvet cake mix cookies with white chocolate chips on the night before the shower. I also mixed up sweet chicken salad the night before, which I placed into adorable, single-serving paper cups (they looked like cupcake holders) that were pink-polka-dotted from the party section of Hobby Lobby, I think. I served the chicken salad with a bowl of wheat crackers. My gracious cohost brought all the fixins for fruit and veggie trays. For those, we put up a sign that said they were from “Mr. MacGregor’s garden.”

I kept drinks simple with mason jars, pink polka-dot paper straws, water in a drink dispenser, and a pitcher of iced, raspberry green tea (thanks to powdered drink mix).







So, honestly, my entry way activity did not actually get done – but here’s what I did with good intentions…first, I labeled one tiny plastic baby (from the cake-decorating section of Hobby Lobby) with a piece of colored tape or sticker. Then, I blew up some balloons and stuck a little plastic baby inside each one, thinking people could pop a balloon and find a baby inside. The guest who found the “labeled baby” would get a door prize. Part of the reason we didn’t follow through on this activity was that a teeny, tiny 6-week-old came to the party, and we didn’t want to scare him! Also, there was enough other stuff going on that we didn’t need another “filler” game. However, I thought it looked cute just as decoration!

To go with our storybook theme, I thought this Children’s Book quote quiz by Pumpkin Seed Paperie on Etsy was so much fun. I just gave everyone some paper and a pen, then I read out the quotes and let guests write down their guesses for title and author, each worth one point, for the book quote. At the end, I read out the correct answers for all of them, and guests scored their own sheets. There was a prize for the most correct answers. This was a fun, simple game that got everyone seated and ready to watch our special mama open her gifts.

(I love seeing what mamas receive at baby showers!)

In order to send the honored mama home with some sweet notes to read over and be encouraged, I customized these precious cards by PopSugar Moms by adding space on the back, printing them double-sided. Guests actually worked on these at their leisure, throughout the shower, but I reminded and encouraged everyone to finish them up and leave them in a stack before we started the group game and presents.





P.S. My new favorite baby shower gift, especially for a new baby girl, for a second or third time mama, is something practical (e.g. diapers) and this book trilogy by Mo Willems – Knuffle Bunny.



Happy Birthday to my Man!


We were traveling with family during my Honey’s birthday this year, so i gave gifts throughout the week at home leading up to the big day. There were treasure hunts, cards, and a pirate cookie cake all at home, so I warned him that I wasn’t packing any gifts for his actual birthday. However, I knew that our family would be bringing him gifts, and I also had planned a goofy family surprise that was also a throwback to the early 90’s when decorating your own tshirts was big…at least in my circles…So, I used craft paint to decorate a plain tshirt for each family member to wear, plus dresses for the little girls, and Pen Elaine helped me decorate my Honey’s birthday shirt. It was a fun surprise to look like a tour group as we were traveling and seeing the sights around Nashville.
Here’s the sayings I wrote:

Have your cake and eat it too.
Peace, love, and birthdays
Keep calm and {birthday} party on
Live long and prosper
Olive You
Happy Birthday
Birthdays are for Uncles
Birthdays are for Daddy

happy birthday man IMG_9450 IMG_9448happy birthday man IMG_0137 IMG_0138



DIY Grad (or Dad) Gift



I’m kinda proud of this inexpensive gift project- the only cost was the frame (and I recommend TJMaxx or Hobby Lobby sales for pretty and affordable options)! Plus, this can be a personal gift that would work for just about any occasion, including birthdays…

First, download some cutesy fonts – just search “free fonts” on Pinterest and follow the links – a few clicks is super easy, and then they show up in your programs, e.g. Word. It’s magic. I occasionally spot and download ones that I really like. Here’s an example website, you just click, open, click, install…The Cottage Market is a great source of inspiration, and I’ve got more fonts to download on my Pinterest board.

Once you’ve got your adorable fonts showing up in your word processor, choose a Bible verse or quote that signifies the gift recipient or holiday. I chose Philippians 1:6 for my friend who just graduated from college, starting out her post-grad life as a teacher at a yet-to-be-determined location. When there is so much waiting and uncertainty during the immediate days and months following a big life change like graduation, remembering that God is faithful and fulfills His promises to completion can be an encouragement.


If you can tell in the photo below, the “text box tools” and “format” tab are chosen, in the far right of the tool bar, you can see the 4″ dimensions are chosen for the height and width of the text box.


In Word, I simply created a text box that was the size of my frame’s photo opening (mine was 4 x 4), choosing a fill color that I liked. After typing in my verse, I changed various words to an assortment of downloaded fonts by highlighting and clicking. Once I was satisfied with my formatting, I printed on a higher quality setting, cut out the square, and inserted into the frame.


To wrap, I just tied some tulle around the frame, since this gift went to a sweet college girl!


Mommy & Me class: Go fish and Don’t lose Hope



This week was about not losing hope. Young preschoolers deal with a lot of frustration…as do their parents, ha! However, learning how to handle frustration and difficulty is an important lesson. Kids who learn how to persist and develop what some call ‘mastery motivation’ equips them for school readiness and goes hand in hand with creativity (related article) as well as being able to regulate their own emotions and behaviors. Furthermore, young children and their parents need practice in cooperating and helping each other to overcome difficult tasks because this must occur successfully during these years of learning to become autonomous, since we need to accept help and cooperate with others throughout our lives. God built us for community. Like us, preschoolers cannot do everything by themselves and need to accept help, including in the area of dealing with emotions like frustration, anger, and sadness. If we can lovingly and practically teach them to not give up but rather to keep up hope, by assisting in a non-overbearing way that allows them to reach personal success, we can encourage persistence, courage, faith, and influence their future successes in sports, school, and personal relationships.

We recently had a hopeful moment when I pulled out an old easy toddler activity that I had put together for Pen Elaine. It had been a team effort when we first played with it, but when I pulled it out a few weeks ago on her request, she had become a pro at matching the objects to their colors – it was so fun to see her development in such a tangible way. I know she is “secretly” making progress in lots of ways that only the Lord knows because He is working in her all the time, even when I can’t see it.

Craft/Activity: Go Fish set by DoodleCraft

Supplies needed:

popsicle stick with a small hole punched in the top, some twine or yarn, magnets with a hole in the middle

for fish: felt, scissors, small washers/metal bits, hot glue gun




To make my fish, I cut out a rectangle of felt, folded in half to the length that I wanted my fish to end up. Then, I cut the fish shape out of the folded piece, with the tail on the non-folded end, and I left the head connected some on the fold.


After cutting out all my desired fish, I was ready to put some hot glue down on the unfolded fish and place my little washer (I tried one versus two washers and found that two made it so heavy that the magnet had to work harder to “fish” it up) down on the glue, then another dab of glue on top of the washer, unless you ran glue down the whole length of both fish sides, and close up the fish carefully without burning your fingers!



After tying the string through the popsicle stick hole and through the magnet, you’re ready to go fishing!


I save my tea mix containers, and they were the perfect size to corral the fishing set.


Song Recommendations:

The Butterfly Song

Dory (from Finding Nemo) “Just keep swimming

I’m a Fish (Sung to “Little Teapot”):

I’m a little fishy, I can swim

Here is my tail; here is my fin.

When I want to have fun with my friends,

I wiggle my tail and dive right in!


Story Recommendation:

I absolutely love the rendition of “Simon and his boat” (Luke 5:1-11) in the Read-Aloud Bible Stories, volume 2, by Ella K. Lindvall and illustrated by Ken Renczenski.



{EASY} Toddler “Sewing”!!



This was one of those moments when I felt like a genus afterwards, a “good” mom, and like I had something to show for it…it’s rare but it doesn’t take much. All you need for this activity is paper, hole punch, some yarn or thread, and a plastic sewing needle (I can’t remember, but mine must have come in some sort of kit a long time ago that I held on to…I’m sure you can find them at a craft or fabric store.)


For our first attempt, I just punched holes around the perimeter of a big sheet, keeping it simple.



I tied one end of the thread through the first hole to keep it from all coming undone while Pen Elaine was working.


I also tied the the thread strung through the needle back to itself to keep the thread from coming out of the needle. Pen Elaine and I worked together to thread the needle 🙂


Then, she went to town, “sewing” the needle in and out of the holes, a sort of running stitch.




After we mastered that easy one, I decided we were ready to make something to be used as a gift – a hand-sewn heart card.


I cut the paper in half and folded that piece in half to be a card, then I punched holes in the shape of a heart – I had to fold the paper a bit to reach certain holes with my normal sized hole punch.



I set this project up like the first one, tying the thread with a knot to the first hole and with the extra thread through the needle. This time, I guided Pen Elaine to go back and forth through the holes, for more of a back stitch, to make the holes fully connected by thread.


After finishing the last hole, Pen Elaine pulled the thread a bit tightly and ripped the paper between the last two holes by accident, but some scotch tape was an easy, quick fix. Aunt Audrey loved her sweet card, after Pen Elaine dictated what to write on the inside, and Pen Elaine (and her Mommy) were very proud of her first sewing project!