Tag Archives: upcycle

DIY Cheapskate Piñata



We actually did this for my Honey’s birthday over the summer. What you see is what you get! When planning some surprises for a week of little birthday treats leading up to the big day, Pen Elaine thought her daddy definitely needed some candy and a piñata. I know candy is one way to his heart, so I agreed with her plan there but did not care to spend money on a big old piñata but also didn’t have the time to spend on making some elaborate, multi-step, paper mache version…so, I decided to stuff an empty cereal box that I had been saving for a possible preschool-craft castel and just paint it with craft paint, tape the top and bottom with pretty duct tape, and draw on some decorations with a permanent marker. We busted it open when a family that we are friends with from church came over for lunch, and it worked just like any other piñata – tough to crack for the little kids until a daddy got to swoop in and mash it open with a baseball bat or something, ha!


No-sew Baby Legwarmers



Here’s why I love leg warmers on babies:

  • They work for any season
  • They don’t have to come off when diaper changing
  • They are one-size-fits-all
  • which also means they don’t grow out of or into them during the first 4+years of life – meaning they don’t add to the first year madness of clothes fitting and not fitting in a matter of weeks and having to store clothes all over the place and keep them organized for the next kid or to pass along…
  • They remind me of the 80’s
  • They can possibly make my baby look like she or he is about to go workout with Cyndi Lauper or Patrick Swayze
  • They are easy to pull on and off little wiggly legs and feet
  • They are a fashion statement…
  • They are stinkin cute
  • They can be made from my Honey’s old pair of lucky volleyball socks

I made this yellow pair by simply cutting off the bottom part of a pair of men’s socks, no sewing required! Now, my Honey is happy that he gets to keep his old pair of socks, and I’m happy to see them on my little Snuggly Man.


Summer Activities Plan…Upcycled Castle



Summer is in full swing! We kick off summer with lots of birthdays and celebrations, not to mention all the fun summer events like library story hour and reading club, swimming at the pool, and summer kids’ movies at the theater. However, our excursions work best during the morning, with some quiet time in the afternoon but still more time to fill with fun during the “twilight” hour or two before my Honey gets home from work. I don’t want to let this time slip away or let a sleepy toddler who refuses to nap fall into trouble for lack of some organized activity…besides helping in the kitchen sometimes. So, my summer activity plan has been devised, and I’m kind of excited about it…mostly because it involves Pinterest, so I’m getting to share my joy of Pinterest with my daughter.

First, I created a Pinterest board just for Pen Elaine, full of simple to pull-together-activities that I thought she would enjoy during an afternoon.


Second, I printed off the list, so Pen Elaine could see all the activity pictures without us having to turn on a screen…too much risk of her wanting to watch videos on the computer or my phone or whatever, but I wanted her to be able to “browse” the activity ideas.


Now, for the fun part! I let her choose a picture for us to do, either in the morning (so I can pull the supplies together while she’s resting or reading or having some screen time during her afternoon “rest” time) or in the afternoon when we are ready to pull together our supplies together and make our project right then!

Our first pinterest project was a castle made from cereal boxes, paper towel rolls, and toilet paper rolls – we love it!



I taped together two cereal boxes of varying size, then covered the larger sides with construction paper. I cut some ridges (cutout squares) on the tops of towel and to rolls to look more castle-like. We used masking tape to roughly tape on our towers- some big and some little- and Pen Elaine decided to make one of towers a “cannon” instead. Last, we had a paint free for all with red, purple, and white craft paint- mixed to make pink- and wearing craft smocks to protect clothing! After drying overnight, it was ready for actual play.


We have even pulled out all her “little people” princesses to play with in the castle – they work great – they can even stand on top of the towers!



Easy Toddler Activity: Paper towel roll Engineering



I am a hoarder of toilet paper rolls, plastic food tubs, and paper towel rolls…to name a few. This activity used up my paper towel rolls in a completely satisfying way, ha! The great thing was that it was so easy – all you need is the rolls and some tape (I used masking tape that comes off easily). I also used a big piece of saved packing paper to make cleanup even simpler, instead of taping the tubes directly to the wall, but definitely not a must.

We built tunnel slides for little balls – we used those little poof balls that you get at craft stores, but marbles would also work well for an older kid who will definitely not put them inside a mouth. Now, I can feel like I am encouraging my daughter to be anything she wants to be – including an architect or engineer, since I’m giving her the types of toy experiences that build those skills sets and encourage her that having fun doesn’t have to revolve around dolls or kitchen toys, ha! Plus, this is a lesson in problem solving, since the ball only rolled through to its final destination when we placed the rolls in the right types of ways – close enough together that the ball didn’t escape out the side and at a high enough angle to keep up its momentum for reaching the bottom.

As you can see, we started with one tube at an approximate 45 degree angle, then we added one straight down to establish a finish point, and from there, we enjoyed all types of trial and error – my Honey had to weigh in when he got home. We left up our slides for a few days of on-and-off experimental play.




1. paper towel rolls that have been used up and saved (at least 3, depending on how old your kid is)

2. small ball that will fit, or pom-poms

3. tape – preferably masking tape, in my opinion, or anything that won’t leave residue on your wall and is easy to peel off

Setup: 10/10

All you gotta do is save up some used paper towel rolls, or toilet paper rolls would work just as well! Then, gather some tape and a little ball or fuzzy pom-pom.

Entertainment: 10/10

Pen Elaine was excited to see where the “ball” ended up with each test run, after adding or angling or taking away paper towel tubes. She loves tape, in general, as well…haha. We made a little “nest” for the ball to land in at the end of the slide, too, that was fun for little feminine heart.

Education: 10/10

I feel like a good mom on this one – encouraging a variety of skilled play for my daughter with opportunity to explore play that builds engineering skills. This activity encourages problem-solving, math concepts, and fine motor skills.

Cleanup: 10/10

Since I even taped my tubes to a paper (taped to wall), the cleanup was simply tear off and roll off for the trash.


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!


Easy Toddler Activity: Markers & a Box



I saw this idea via Pinterest from LessonsLearntJournal and looooved it! This is a quintessential easy toddler activity and so fun and even portable! All you need is a big box and washable markers…just add toddler!

We get our diapers and wipes in the mail, so we have no shortage of big boxes. I saved this one for a “rainy” day; actually I threw it in the trunk when we were going to spend the day visiting family who don’t have any kids at home yet. It was perfect – not only did it keep Pen Elaine occupied but also contained in a non-childproof-home, ha!


She loved having her secret space…


turned out she was using that secret space to draw more on herself than on the box, but that’s okay 🙂

Furthermore, drawing at different angles – as in on the ceiling or on a vertical surface (like an easel) is good for motor development and fine motor skills.


Easter week countdown: Jesus teaches the people




Palm Sunday

Monday: Jesus cleans out the temple

Tuesday: Jesus anointed with expensive oil/perfume

Wednesday: Jesus teaching people



I don’t know anything specific that Jesus did on Wednesday of Holy Week, other than that He was spending time with people and teaching them about the good news and the love of God. However, Wednesday night, I believe, is when Judas goes to the Jewish leaders to betray Jesus. What is amazing about this day, though, is that Jesus knew His time was coming to go to the cross, but He still spent time loving on people and reaching out to them at our human level. Having small children, I am frequently reminded of my humanity and my shortcomings and how easily my emotions are aroused or swayed. I was reminded of my own goofiness when attempting the above Easter craft to make sheep out of handprints and cotton balls…those are supposed to be sheep… that are cute and not creepy.

Isaiah 53:6:

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.