Friday, July 27, 2012

Piece of cake

About a year and a half ago, my then 10-year-old asked to frost a cake I'd made. She wanted to decorate it, but we had no frosting tools. 

I suggested she use the ol' snip-the-corner-off-a-sandwich-bag trick. 

This is what she came up with: 

With a sandwich bag! Well, three. One for each color. We took it with us to our Easter fellowship dinner after church!

It turns out that our local Walmart has a cake decorating aisle. I bought my budding baker some frosting tips for less than $5 and turned her loose. I also have a friend who is a professional that gave her a few pointers. Talk to your local bakeries and hobby stores and ask about a class.

She also likes ideas that require no special tools.

A cookie-cutter heart from scraps

The nice thing about cake-decorating kids? 

Their supplies are inexpensive, readily available, and pretty easy to clean up. Also, their "mistakes" are delicious!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Resourceful kids can build castles!

Since my kids were very little, I've made it a point to do various projects with them with things that we've had around the house. A lot of creative things can be done with old sheets, boxes, scrap paper, etc.

We've had a lot of fun doing those projects, and it has helped my kids learn an important life skill: resourcefulness. Learning to make the most of the materials they have on hand will help them in countless ways as they grow up and and start to do more on their own.

And nothing is more satisfying than when I see them using those skills without my prompting!

One day when my kids were "bored," my second daughter said to my son (the youngest), "Let's make something out of cardboard!"

He was all for it, so they grabbed a couple of cardboard boxes, scissors, and glue and went outside on the deck and set to work.

What resulted was this cardboard castle:

Then they painted it to look like it was made of stone! I hadn't helped them build the castle, but I did help them paint, partly because I didn't want to be left out of the fun. 

the front

the inside

Eventually I helped them make a few pieces of furniture for the inside (pictures to come in a future post). Sometimes they use it when they are playing with their Lego men. And, of course, I promised never to get rid of it!

What else can you do with a cardboard box?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Sometimes a really meaningful, thoughtful, useful gift is right under your nose, disguised as something old and useless. All you need is a little inspiration.

Last Christmas, our family had a homemade gift exchange. My six-year-old drew my name.

She and her dad went shopping at a nearby thrift store, and they bought a small painting for less than $1. They took the painting out of the cute little frame, and put in some window screen that my honey had in the shed.

My little girl had a wonderful time painting the frame and mat, and what do you know?

An earring holder for Mom.

"I made it myself!"

Whoops! She spilled some paint on the screen. It adds to the charm! She did a beautiful job, and I love it.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Word Clouds

Have you ever head of's word cloud generator?

Here is an example of a Wordle word cloud that I made for my daughter:

These word clouds are fun gift or note card ideas (Christmas, birthdays, etc.). They can be framed and hung on the wall or pasted into a scrap book. And best of all, they are a fun way to trick your child into doing some writing.

The word cloud generator uses your text to create a pleasant looking jumble of words that can be tweaked until you are happy with it. All you need is a list of words! Once your child sees these fun, colorful word clouds, he will be itching to try it. So have him sit down and write a list of words that describe himself (this is great brainstorming practice for future writing projects, by the way). Then go to and have a blast!

Some tips to get the best experience from Wordle:
  • If you want a word to appear larger, input that word several times. The more times a word appears in your list, the bigger it will be in the word cloud.
  • To use a phrase, place a ~ between the two words in your list so that the generator will know not to separate them (like in "Spelling Bee Champ" in the sample).
  • Don't have a color printer? Wordle word clouds are just as awesome in black and white. And you could always have your child color them once they are printed.
  • Go beyond having your child write about himself. Create them for other people, pets, holidays, favorite places, etc.
Have fun with your word clouds!