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simple keepsakes and gifts for busy moms

simple keepsakes and gifts for busy moms

Monday, December 09, 2019

Leaf Forest Friends

 I know we're officially in the Christmas countdown now, but we still have some beautiful colors from our trees! The other morning we went for a walk with friends with no clear plan besides collecting pretty leaves. When we got back home we rummaged in our craft drawer, and with just construction paper and contact paper (really! that's it!) we came up with these cute little leaf friends!

First we sorted through the leaves they'd collected to try to weed out any dirty/wet ones. We left way ore than they'd need, and a variety of colors and shapes so that they could pick their favorites!

Then we cut out some rough shapes from construction paper for the bodies and beaks, etc.

Then we had the kids place the pieces on the sticky side of a piece of contact paper:

Then they placed leaves over the "bodies" for feathers (or quills, for our hedgehog!):

And then we just helped by putting a second piece of contact paper on top when they were done! They look really pretty in a window (but were surprisingly hard to photograph there, so here they are making one of our walls more festive. :)

I think this was the kids' favorite craft from the last few months! So simple, and they could do almost all of it themselves, so they were very proud. :) I'm already thinking about doing a whole woodland scene in our front windows next fall!


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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Thanksgiving Place Settings

I love Thanksgiving! No matter how hectic life is, it always helps us slow down, remember all that we have to be thankful for, and focus on what's really important as we start the holiday season. Also...pie! 


The kitchen is usually full and busy on Thanksgiving, so I think it's fun to let the kids be a part of preparation in a way that doesn't risk burns. :) Having them help with place settings also makes them super proud when everyone gathers around the table! Here are some cute ideas I found for this year:








Which one would you choose? Happy Thanksgiving!

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Cooking with Kids: Pretzel Monsters

I think most of the time around here, my littles are the ones requesting specific desserts and treats. But sometimes, a craving strikes and Mom's the one suggesting chocolate before dinner! :)


This treat happened simply because 1) I love chocolate pretzels and 2) my daughter found these candy eyes at the store one day. I knew we had some white baking chocolate, so I thought it'd be super easy to make some pretzel ghosts!

But as you can see above, I didn't have as much white chocolate as I thought I did. Milk and dark chocolate, on the other hand, are never lacking in our house! So we made an adjustment and decided to add some monsters to our ghosts.


When you're melting chocolate, the temperature matters quite a bit! You can heat it on the stove or in the microwave, and it's helpful to not melt it all the way. Stop it before it's liquid, and then stir - the stirring action will smooth it out the rest of the way! If it seizes (hardens) at any point, you can just reheat it. We found that candy melts work better than other kinds of chocolate for this project.

It's very hard to get a toddler to hold a jar of chocolate without moving. ;) I transferred the melted chocolate into this mason jar - you want to use something tall and narrow. This made it much easier for little hands to dip the pretzel rods in the chocolate without making a huge mess!

Put the dipped pretzels on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. The decorate however you'd like, making sure to move quickly before the chocolate hardens! Since monsters can be as goofy as you can imagine, this was the perfect project for imprecise toddler hands. :) The candy eyes are what make this great! 


Then simply wait for everything to harden! You can put them in the fridge or freezer if you'd like, but it will also work at room temperature within an hour. 

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Halloween Party Balloons

I don't think there's anything as festive as balloons. You can add them to any normal get-together and presto! It's a party! Not to mention, they're easy, cheap, and I've never met a kiddo who doesn't love them. So if I'm planning a party, they're the first thing I look for. Here are some perfect ideas for your Halloween hullabaloo...and make sure to scroll to the bottom for a real jaw-dropper!

Ok this is the simplest, but also the one that I most want to do! It's pretty and spooky all at once.

Balloon ghosts are classic for a reason. Simple and cute!

The fact that these aren't actually basic black is what makes these black cat balloons extra cool!

I like the idea of letting each kiddo draw a jack-o-lantern face to add to this garland! And pairing it with the striped pennant is perfect.

This is actually a kit you can buy - the mix of marbling, confetti balloons, and giant eyeballs leaves nothing lacking!

This is the most impressive Halloween balloon decor I've ever seen! The size (this is just part of the arch) is crazy! I love the gauze for spiderwebs, the spiders climbing it, and the addition of pink and green (which I never would have thought of) to keep it all light! 


Which is your favorite?

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Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Cooking with Kids: Millefeuille

Have you ever made millefeuille? The name might be intimidating (it's French for "a thousand layers"), but this version of the dessert is so easy that even the littles can help with it! I got the idea here, and made a few changes since we had just gone blackberry picking.


First, start with a sheet of frozen puff pastry, following the instructions for thawing. Roll it out into a rectangle, and cut the rectangle into three equal pieces (I used a pizza cutter to make this easy). Put the pieces on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a silicone sheet, and poke them all over with a fork to make sure they don't get too bubbly.

Sift powdered sugar on top to help them caramelize in the oven.

Bake them at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until they're puffy and golden-brown.

Make a whipped cream (or use store-bought!) with whipping cream and powdered sugar. We also added blueberry nectar to make it a pretty lavender color! Layer the whipped cream on top of one of the pastries, and add whatever summer berry you'd like on top (we used blackberries). 

Stack the next pastry on top, and keep going! When you're done, sift some more powdered sugar on the top. The dessert is so fresh and light, and not overly sweet! And it looks much trickier than it really is, so it's a fun one to do with the kiddos for a party. 

I'm already dreaming about more flavor combinations! I think a Nutella-whipped cream with strawberries might be next for us. :)

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