Tag Archives: diy

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 😉



Advent has begun!

Advent has begun!

I love Advent season! aka, the month of December 🙂


This year, I have a 3-and-a-half-year-old who makes all the preparations for Christmas even more meaningful and all the preparation even more gratifying than before because she has grown in understanding and in the ability to ANTICIPATE! It is so fun!

Like last year, I planned our daily advent activities ahead of time, as inspired by the amazing Kim, and wrapped a “present” that coordinated with each day. This year, we are also going through a book, The ADVENTure of Christmas: Finding Jesus in Our Holiday Traditions, by Lisa Whelchel, that succinctly explains the origin of some traditions and symbols of Christmas, along with some quick discussion questions and activity ideas. I learned that “advent” means “to come” in reference to Jesus coming down to earth; thus advent is a time to prepare for His coming. I love planning the days ahead of time and wrapping the gifts beforehand because it makes the whole advent time a fun celebration for me, too! There’s no brainstorming, decision-making, or scrambling and throwing stuff together the night before, making for a more peaceful season. I love it! I also mark on my calendar when her last day of various classes occur, to remind me to bring teacher gifts, and I even put making Christmas cookies for teachers, neighbors, etc. on the calendar so I don’t forget. Plus, I like getting some presents wrapped before Thanksgiving anyway (really, I’d love having them all bought and wrapped), so wrapping a bunch of presents right before Thanksgiving really gets me in the holiday, festive, family spirit…and gives me an excuse to start listening to Christmas music!

Plus, Pen Elaine absolutely LOVES opening a present each morning, and since we’ve already forgotten once to put out the gift the night before, I know that she has reached the age to remember on her own! The night before the first of December, she sweetly requested to “pleeeease tell me what’s in the present?” So far, she has opened our advent calendars (day 1: setup advent calendars), a plastic nativity set and nativity books (day 2: play and talk about nativity story), the three wise men that are part of our other nativity set (plus I threw in some Xmas window decals for Pen Elaine to put where she chose, day 3: talk about wise men’s gifts and Matthew 25:40-go through our toys, books, and clothes to give our own gifts to the less fortunate), and a dress & gloves (that we already owned, day 4: church event for Christmastime)…I scattered some extra Christmas decorations or fun kid-friendly ones along with the advent activity items throughout the presents for added fun factor. For example, my Uncle Christ gave us this set of Disney characters that sing Christmas carols, so on a day when I was just wrapping up a container of salt to make salt dough ornaments, I also wrapped up a caroling Donald duck to make the present more exciting 🙂 Turning decorations and advent calendars into presents to open throughout the month made them much more epic.

This year, she is also opening a door a day in a cardboard advent calendar that I bought after Christmas last year on super sale…which includes chocolate pieces, but the label says that it’s good until March of next year, so far so good!

The one advent calendar that has grown with her since she could walk, is our “love came down” felt pocket calendar, where you simply move a little heart from one pocket to the next. To make it more complicated, last year, I added prophecy verses paired with new testament verses about the different roles and characteristics of Jesus. These are cooler for my Honey and me than Pen Elaine, at this point, but it is neat to see how so many things were prophesied about Jesus’s life so many years before He was born. When our kids get older, talking about these along with the Dead Sea Scrolls will be impactful, I think.IMG_2339.JPG

Fall Decorations!!!


IMG_1729.JPGDecorating for fall is the most satisfying season because it is so warm and cozy, comes at the beginning of a new season, and you get to leave it up for 2 or 3 solid months! Plus, fall is a great time to host gatherings and have friends over, so there are lots of opportunities to share the fun of fall decorations. Now that I share my seasonal decorating with Pen Elaine, I am more in tuned to how kids can be actively involved with making the house fun and inviting for each season or holiday. Growing up, I remember getting excited every October to decorate an orange pumpkin made of construction paper, giving it shape, a stem, and a jack-o-lantern face with black markers or crayons. Now, Pinterest has opened up so many more possibilities that I forget the simple joys of childhood only need “pen” and paper sometimes, but the important thing is to let my kiddo feel special and proud of her part in making our house a warm and whimsical home.

1. Scarecrow – we made a scarecrow with an old party sign, some little-used pants and top, a hat, gloves, and Pen Elaine’s super-cute contribution: a pinwheel! Items that needed to be tied down were secured with string. Since it’s on a wooden stand that can be easily moved, sometimes I’ll stick it in the garage if there’s a big rainstorm or we are going out of town.

2. Front door hanger: Instead of a fall wreath, I had seen this embroidered hoop idea on Pinterest and thought it looked really do-able and a nice changeup. Plus, I had bought a couple giant hoops for 3 bucks each at some junk store. I ended covering my letter with yarn because that is what I had on-hand, but next time, I would want to try something else.



3. I finally got around to painting a new scene/quote on my windowpane for fall. I saw so many fun quotes and verses for fall, I will have to put up a new one for November, ha! I always want to paint a pumpkin on the glass, but it never looks quite right to me…I’m just not sure what to replace it with…a tree?





Here’s a picture of the hoop art. I wrapped the letter in one layer of yarn using modge podge to secure it; then I attached it to the burlap with a second, more sparse covering of yarn. I hid the loose corners of burlap by taping them down to the back of the hoop with some masking tape.



4. Candle display tray: I had seen a candle display similar to this on Pinterest that looked straight out of Hogwarts…thus I had to try to replicate it. My collection of little glass jars/bottles finally got put to use for a spooky effect…







Make a Preschool “fall festival” at home!



We are loving fall and all the Halloween, dress-up, outdoor festivals, and pumpkin activities that go along with it! October is a great month to have kids under 5! Pumpkin patch photos and choosing my baby’s costume is enough to make this the best season ever. seriously.

Recently, we watched the newest pbs kids special: “Curious George’s Boo Fest,” which includes a lot of talk about their Halloween festival, including games, costume contests, haunted “fish” house/tunnel, etc. Halloween movies for preschool and toddler-age kids are definitely my favorite, just the right amount of spooky for me.

Watching this show inspired Pen Elaine and I to make our own “fall festival” at home, starting with a “haunted tunnel” that was really just a blanket thrown over toddler sized chairs and table. Pen Elaine loves making tents and tunnels already, and tunnels are helpful for my little crawler (Snugly Man) to practice and develop his gross motor skills. The three of us crawled through it like a train, and Snugly Man returned to it periodically during the whole time it was set up. The tunnel was a definite hit at the festival!






Brainstorming carnival/festival games, I thought of the Ring Toss. So, I gathered some plus rings from a baby toy, and we tried tossing them onto a pumpkin stem. This proved rather difficult for both Pen Elaine and me, so we tried using little plastic bracelets, and while those were a little easier, we only played this game a few times and never returned to it. We did feel extremely accomplished and proud when we got a bracelet to land on the pumpkin. “Pumpkin toss” had a good run.








diy preschool "festival" @Whimsyinlove


To make our festival complete, we obviously needed a sign, so we used a chalkboard for a cute, “scary face” photo op.







The absolute hit of our DIY festival was most definitely the “Ball Toss.” Using a doorway that led to a dead end hallway, I used masking tape to taped up some butcher/wrapping paper remnants that almost spanned those whole doorway after writing “Ball Toss.” Next, I cut out the middles of three paper plates and used duct tape to attach them to the bottom of the sign. For balls, we gathered up some little plastic “ball pit” balls and toy “coins” that could fit through the paper plate openings – “balls” that would not cause any injury if accidentally thrown at Snugly Man.

Actually making the balls go through the rings was only successful for Pen Elaine if she stood very close to the goals, but she also decided that simply throwing your ball well enough to make it roll all the way to the back of the hallway also made it a “winning” throw, so this game turned out to span skill levels. Placing the ball toss in front of a dead end ensured that balls did not go flying everywhere – they were contained. As with any game played with a preschooler, this was great practice for gross motor skills, taking turns, being a good sport and encourager, teamwork and cooperation, and following rules. Plus, it turned out that Pen Elaine and Snugly Man both loved hanging out in the hall behind the ball toss rings, catching balls and throwing them back, being in the middle of the action. Because of that, we kept the ball toss game up for over a week – making visitors come in through the garage door or duck underneath our sign, since we loved playing this so much. For a few days, it was a pre-bedtime ritual to come play ball toss, with both kids retrieving balls while my Honey and I honed our aiming skills. This game will definitely be a returning DIY festival tradition!

As you can imagine from the last pic, Snugly Man did eventually rip the bottom ring, leaving two behind.






DIY Growth Chart…cute enough to be an heirloom



Every since my first was born, I wanted to make a fabric growth chart to keep track of my kids’ height – I grew up with a fabric chart with a painted duck, and so I liked the idea of a growth chart that is easy to store or hang in various spots. Then, I saw this Pinterest idea for a table runner that looks like a ruler, and I had also seen the knockoff wooden ruler-looking growth chart that is as tall as a grown man. So, I decided I wanted a growth chart that looked like a giant ruler that could be hung on the wall or used as a sentimental table runner…then I forgot my vision for a ruler and just made a giant table-runner-sized growth chart with the potential for swirly vines and flowers.


Per the table runner idea, I bought a drop cloth from a home improvement store and cut the width down to 13-14 inches.


The drop cloth I bought had a hemmed seam along all sides, so I kept the seam along one long side and both short sides and only had to sew a hem along one long side.


After my very long piece of hemmed fabric sat around for a few weeks, I finally measured and drew lines every two inches, using a washable marker that would wash out in the laundry because I sewed over the lines with the sewing machine, using black thread. At this point, I was about to have a newborn Snuggly Man and knew I better get this project completed if I wanted to actually use my chart to keep track of my kids’ heights while they were still growing!



After deciding on a fabric for the numbers, I lightly drew out their shapes on the fabric with a washable pen and cut them out – re-doing a few of the numbers until I was satisfied with the shape of the result.


Once all numbers were cut, I pinned them to the growth chart at the appropriate mark (I placed them where the middle of the number lined up with the mark at each “foot”). Using the sewing machine, I sewed a tight zig-zag stitch along the edge of each number, making sure the edges of the fabric were covered securely.


I then sewed free-form with the machine a wiggly line along the empty side of the fabric chart. I think someday I’ll add vines or leaves or flowers by hand/embroidery.


We’ve put our initial measurements on there, in time for Pen Elaine’s 3rd birthday. I’d like to add other fun heights, like the average bear or gorilla, or other extended family members, to add interest when we use it as a table runner at a big family holiday meal, like Thanksgiving or Easter. I’m just glad it’s made its debut!



{quick} Paper plate crown




We have been utilizing my pack of like one thousand paper plates lately, and this one was a hit. I cut diagonal lines across the interior of the plate, leaving most of the rim intact. Then, we bent down the resulting triangles and fit it to Pen Elaine’s head specifications. We actually made these as a play date activity; these were a cinch for managing multiple kids’ crowns.

Decorating included crayons, fairy stickers, and a sparkly letter “P” from an alphabet sticker set. When one of the cuts got ripped a little too far, some tape patched things up just fine. Somewhere on Pinterest, I saw where someone glued pom-poms to the points, which was really cute and made me want to make another crown, but our version did not require any mess or hot glue 😉



Mommy & Me Class: {easy, DIY} Ice cream & Chalkboards


So we had our last Mommy & Me class of the semester, and it was kind of sad and sweet and nostalgic…even though we’ve only been together for 3 months, we had such a fun, faithful group!

For our grand finale, we made chalkboard trays that are also magnetic, and we made homemade ice cream in plastic bags – so cool!


CRAFT/ACTIVITY #1: DIY lightweight, magnetic chalkboards!

I bought these metallic trays in the party goods section of dollar tree – just a buck!

Then, we used chalkboard paint (can be bought at craft stores, home improvement stores, or even walmart) to paint 2 or 3 coats.


Since these are metallic trays, they are also great for magnet play, as well as coloring with chalk…how about tracing shape or letter magnets with chalk?! If you can’t find these one dollar trays, just use an old cookie sheet to paint with chalkboard paint. Since it’s a rimmed sheet, these are great for playing in the car, with some chalk or just some fun magnets – or paint on a little person and get a set of magnetic clothes.



CRAFT/ACTIVITY #2: Homemade ice cream in a plastic bag



  1. 1/2 cup milk (we used whole)
  2. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  3. 1 Tablespoon sugar
  4. 4 cups crushed (or cubed) ice
  5. 4 Tablespoons salt
  6. 2 quart sized (or larger) Zip-loc bags
  7. 1 gallon size Zip-loc freezer bag (optional, duct tape for sealing)
  8. a hand towel or gloves to keep fingers from freezing as well!


Put the first three ingredients into one of the smaller bags, then put that bag into the other smaller bag to keep anything from leaking out! These are easy, safe ingredients to let little fingers pour into the bag…or you can do this step ahead of time.


Now, place the small bag of ice cream ingredients into the gallon-sized bag, then fill with the ice and sprinkle in the salt.


Here’s what you’ve got:


Now, for the fun part – your kiddo will get a kick out of shaking and massaging the ice around the inner bag. This is coooold though, so get out some winter gloves or hand towel. Five to eight minutes is adequate time for the mixture to freeze into ice cream – of the soft-serve varitety. 🙂


For an extra treat, add in some mixins at the end, such as crushed oreos or sprinkles, before eating.


No special equipment necessary!