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Category: kids

  1. Thursday, May 11

    A Beautiful Up-Cycled Mother’s Day Giveaway + Maybe The Easiest Mother’s Day Craft Ever (as in, NO WORK FOR MOM)

    Sponsored by General Mills Cereals

    Happy almost Mother’s Day! To celebrate I have a fun and EASY craft idea for the kids in your life as well as some love for TO THE MARKET, one of my most favorite companies. And a beautiful giveaway that will have 20 winners (woohoo!).

    To The Market Up-Cycled Cereal Box Necklaces

    As you know I’ve worked with General Mills Cereals in the past. They approached me recently about coming up with a fun craft idea using up-cycled cereal boxes with my kids. I AM NOT A CRAFTY PERSON. But when I told my kids about the project they were all in. You see, they are crafty people. I’m not entirely sure they are my children. Anyway, my kids were doubly in when they learned they would have to eat some of their favorite, yummy cereals, Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Honey Nut Cheerios, in order to make the craft happen (empty cereal boxes are a necessity!). Basically, this is their favorite post on my blog ever.

    Up-cycled Cereal Box Mother's Day Flowers

    As a lovely Mother’s Day gift, General Mills Cereals sent me a necklace and bracelet set from TO THE MARKET. TO THE MARKET is a company that sells survivor-made goods from around the world. I’ve written about TO THE MARKET before and founder and CEO Jane Mosbacher Morris is one of my favorite people. She was even on my podcast at one point! (It’s one of my favorite episodes, by the way. Jane is the BEST.) Anyway, TO THE MARKET is helping SO MANY WOMEN and their products are beyond lovely. I have a very special place in my heart for their work.

    To The Market Up-Cycled Cereal Box Necklaces

    The jewelry that General Mills Cereals sent was created by Haitian TO THE MARKET artists, with beads made from up-cycled cereal boxes. The beads are gorgeous. You simply cannot believe they are made from cereal boxes. Both my girls are enamored with the jewelry (I think Anna might steal it) and felt very inspired for their own cereal box crafting!

    Up-cycled Cereal Box Mother's Day Flowers

    Up-cycled Cereal Box Mother's Day Flowers

    Which brings us to today’s craft. For real this is the best craft ever because the parent doesn’t have to do ANYTHING. Just give the kids some empty cereal boxes (the more colorful the better!), scotch tape and colorful straws. Then say, “Go make flowers!” All three of my kids, from ages 5 to 12, had a blast cutting up the boxes and getting creative. Anna’s flower ended up being three dimensional, Cate made an adorable bumblebee for the bouquet, and Owen went completely off book and made a ladybug with a heart to show that the ladybug loves me. I consider it all a crafting success! And I didn’t lift a finger. (Well, okay, I helped clean up the billions of cereal box cuttings strewn about the kitchen. But it was worth it.)

    Up-cycled Cereal Box Mother's Day Craft

    Lucky for our family my beloved mother will be here for Mother’s Day this year. She will be taking home the best bouquet ever!

    Giveaway time! General Mills Cereals and TO THE MARKET are providing TWENTY of you lucky people with your own necklace made with upcycled cereal box beads. You can’t buy these necklaces, so this is the only way to get one! Here is how to enter: (Comments must be posted by Midnight PT May 25, 2017.)

    BONUS BONUS BONUS: If you head on over to TO THE MARKET’S Stories Blog, they are also giving away these necklaces and you can enter there, too! Yippee!

    Happy Mother’s Day!

    I partnered with General Mills for this post because they are committed to strengthening communities around the world through remarkable initiatives, nonprofits and causes that help strength people and the planet. General Mills Cereals partnered with TO THE MARKET to create these handcrafted pieces of jewelry from up-cycled cereal boxes as part of this commitment and to celebrate all the moms, caregivers, aunts, sisters and special heroes who fill the world with love.

    Learn more about General Mills Cereals and its delicious line of cereals including Honey Nut Cheerios, Lucky Charm, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and many more at www.generalmills.com/cereal.


  2. Wednesday, January 11

    Anna’s Hamburger Birthday Cake

    Like most parents, I come up short in lots of ways. But there is one thing I am committed to as a mom that I have yet to fail on: birthday cakes. (I probably should knock on wood after making such a bold statement!) I blame my own mother for this obsession, thanks to the truly memorable birthday cakes she made for me as a child. Each year I let the kids choose whatever they want for their cake and then I tackle it. So far I’ve had pretty good success and I love sharing the cakes with you so you can make them, too!

    How to Make a Hamburger Birthday Cake from @janemaynard

    Anna had her birthday last month and requested a hamburger birthday cake. (This girl has a thing for cakes that look like savory foods, apparently.) It was her “family year,” which means no party, just a fun night with the fam. Rogue One came out on her birthday, so we went and saw the movie together. She could pick anywhere to go out to eat but decided to do takeout hamburgers and come home to eat in the living room while watching old Gilmore girls episodes. Naturally a hamburger birthday cake was in order!

    Anna and I did some searching on Pinterest and found a lot of ugly hamburger cakes as well as a lot of cakes that were just too much work. But then one caught our eye on a blog called Gluesticks. The mom had used unfrosted chocolate and vanilla cakes to make the bun and hamburger patty. Genius!

    How to Make a Hamburger Birthday Cake from @janemaynard

    Here is how I made the cake and a few notes for you if you decide to tackle this project yourself. (Click here for the Gluesticks instructions. She piped frosting for most of the decorating, but I hate washing frosting tips so took a little bit of a different approach.)

    • Make 2 yellow cake rounds and 1 chocolate cake round, all the same size, for the bun and hamburger.
    • For the lettuce: toss shredded coconut in the green liquid food coloring. Tip: I didn’t let the “lettuce” hang off the edges enough, wish I had concentrated more coconut to hang over the edges so you could see the lettuce better.
    • For the mayonnaise: Use white buttercream frosting in between layers 1 and 2 and layers 2 and 3, frosting out to the edge so you can see the “mayo.”
    • For the veggies and cheese: Either use marzipan or white rolled fondant. Separate and make a few different colors – red, green and yellow-orange. Roll the fondant/marzipan flat then cut into the shapes you need. I cut triangles freehand with a knife in the yellow fondant for the cheese. I used a medium-sized, smooth-edge round cookie cutter for the tomatoes. I used a small-sized, ripple-edged round cookie cutter for the pickles.
    • For the seeds: Pipe white frosting on top for the seeds!
    • I recommend using smaller round cake pans. I used my 9-inch cake pans and, well, it was SO MUCH CAKE. Plus I think the dome would have held better if the cake had been smaller. Bottom line: 9 inches was too big, 8 inches probably would have felt too big, too. However, those sizes will work for sure if that’s all you have or if you do in fact need a lot of cake. Otherwise, go with smaller cake pans!
    • Make sure you grease and flower the pans REALLY WELL and use parchment paper on the bottom. My cake ended up sticking to the pan a little too much on the edges in some parts. Those parts did not look pretty and I had to hide them in the back.
    • Do not use cake strips for this cake, at least for the yellow cake rounds. You want the yellow cake to dome so that the top resembles a hamburger bun. Two quick notes: First, you will still want to level one of the yellow layers and the chocolate layer since they will be stacked. Just the top yellow layer should have a dome. Second, my cakes did dome in the oven but for some reason settled down flat after cooling – I think it was the homemade cake recipe I used. I think boxed cake mix may work better in this instance. If your cake does go flat, I recommend putting more frosting between the 2nd and 3rd layers, concentrated in the middle to make the top layer “poof” up a bit more like a bun. (I didn’t do that and you can see that my bun looks flat.)

    Click here for my cake decorating post with TONS of tips for making and decorating cute cakes. That post also includes the buttercream recipe I used.

    Happy hamburger birthday cake making!


  3. Monday, November 21

    Easy Turkey Pudding Craft Perfect for Thanksgiving

    Before we take off on our Thanksgiving travels, I have to share this super cute, crazy easy Thanksgiving kids craft with you. Owen brought it home from school. It’s so simple and so cute (and so delicious…I love Hunt’s Pudding Snack Packs for some reason!) even I would do this craft with my kids. That is really saying something. I’m like the anti-craft mom.

    Simple and Easy Turkey Pudding Craft Perfect for Thanksgiving!

    Materials:

    • Chocolate Pudding Snack Pack
    • Small Googly Eyes
    • Construction paper, cut into feather shapes and small orange triangles for the nose

    Simple and Easy Turkey Pudding Craft Perfect for Thanksgiving!

    How To Make the Turkey Pudding Craft:

    • Flip the pudding snack pack upside down.
    • Using either a hot glue gun or scotch tape, attach the eyes, nose and tail feathers.
    • All done!

    You could even have the kids make these and then put them on the table at each place setting for decoration. It will keep them busy while the grown-ups are cooking and make them feel like they’ve contributed.

    I never thought I would say this on the blog…but…Happy Crafting!


  4. Friday, October 7

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake and Party!

    If you’ve been reading my blog for at least the last year then you know that I love making cute birthday cakes for my kids. It’s pretty much the only “supermom” thing I do. I think it’s because my mom made cute cakes for us growing up, so I simply cannot not make fun birthday cakes! Owen recently celebrated his 5th birthday and asked for a monster-themed birthday party. I thought I would shared how I made his cute yet simple monster birthday cake as well as give you a quick outline of the whole party. It was a lot of fun and easy to pull together, so I need to share the love!

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake and Party How-To

    The Party

    • GAMES: We played two classic party games. First, Pin the Eye on the Monster. Owen and I drew the monster on posterboard then I printed out eyeballs for the kids to attach. Click here to download a PDF of the eyeballs. In addition we played Hot Potato with a stuffed monster. The kids LOVED. THE. GAMES.

    Pin the Eye on the Monster! (i.e. pin the tail on the donkey monster edition!) from @janemaynard including FREE PDF template for the eyes!

    • FELT MONSTER PUPPETS: For the main activity we made felt monster puppets! I bought felt squares at Joann’s Fabrics. I used a very simple template I created for the monster head (click here to download the template). Cut out two of each color, then hot glue gun the two pieces together, gluing around the entire edge EXCEPT the flat bottom, leaving that open (it’s a puppet, you need a place to stick your hand!). I provided the kids with cut up felt shapes, pipe cleaners, pom poms and googly eyes. The kids assembled their puppets on the floor. As they finished their designs, I carefully carried the puppets into another room. The kids played while my friend and I hot glue gunned everything onto the puppets! If you have more than a few kids, you should definitely have two glue guns and two people gluing so it doesn’t take too long. (Thanks to my friend Marie from Make and Takes for the felt puppet inspiration!)

    Simple Felt Monster Puppets for a Monster-Themed Birthday Party from @janemaynard

    • FOOD: Monster Cake (see below for instructions), ice cream and water. Easy peasy!
    • PRESENTS: We opened the presents while everyone was still at the party. I’ve started doing the coolest thing for the thank you notes. I take a picture of my child with their friend and the gift they gave with my phone. I then use the Postagram app to write up quick thank you notes (I make the kids help – I type the note while they dictate). Postagram automatically mails the postcards, then the friends not only get a thank you note but a picture from the party! It’s really cute and makes you seem like a super put-together parent (even if you’re not!). 😉
    • GOODIE BAGS: Simple goodie bags included monster pencils, monster bendables and monster lollipops.
    • DECORATIONS: These monster wall decals worked great for decorating. I added a couple of mylar balloons from The Dollar Tree and a few hanging decorations from Party City. Done!

    That’s it. Two hours of monster party fun that was cost effective and simple for me to implement, even during a busy work week. Heads up: We made 12 puppets and it took me a couple of hours to prep all the felt for the monster puppets (I worked on that while watching TV one night).

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake How-To

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake and Party How-To

    And now for the cake. This simple monster birthday cake was one of the easiest cakes I’ve made yet. NO PIPING NECESSARY. Woohoo! Decorating the cake still takes some time (it took me about 2 hours to do all of the decorating; that does not count baking the cake the day before), but this cake design is very simple and definitely doable for all skill levels.

    Be sure to read my Cake Decorating Guide before diving in. That post has all of my tips for successfully decorating cakes as well as the recipes I use for the chocolate cake and buttercream frosting.

    • Step 1: Bake a 9″ x 13″ cake. Level cake if needed, wrap in plastic or parchment paper and freeze until hard.

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake from @janemaynard - How to Shape the Cake

    • Step 2: Place cake top side down on a cutting board. Simply cut two corners off with a curve to the cut, like you see in the photo above. The corners should be on one short end of the rectangle. The resulting cake will look like a gravestone.
    • Step 3: Do a crumb coat frosting layer then freeze or refrigerate until hardened.
    • Step 4: While the crumb coat is hardening, make the eyes and mouth. I bought white rolled fondant and black rolled fondant (Wilton’s makes fondant, I buy mine at Michael’s or Joann’s). I colored some of the white fondant blue. Click here for a free printable PDF of the eyeball and mouth template. Print one copy of this page. Roll out the white fondant and place the full eyeball template on top. With a sharp knife cut around the circle. Set the large white fondant circle aside. Roll out blue fondant then cut the eyeball template down to the size of the blue circle. Place on the rolled blue fondant, cut the circle and set aside. Repeat process again for the black circle and small white circle. Stack all the circles so they look like the original eyeball template. For the mouth, roll out the black fondant, place the mouth template on top then cut around the edge, forming the oval shape. Next cut just one of the teeth shapes from the mouth template and use that with the white fondant to make six teeth. Place white fondant pieces on the black fondant mouth. Set aside.

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake and Party How-To

    • Step 5: Frost the cake with blue icing, using a knife or cake spreader to make icing on the top and sides as smooth as you can. Wash and dry your hands. Using your index finger, make little swirl marks all over the top of the monster so it looks like fur.
    • Step 6: Place the eyeball and mouth on the cake like you see in the picture above. You’re done!

    I’m super happy with how everything turned out, but in the end finding Owen looking at his cake like this was definitely the best part!

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake and Party How-To


  5. Wednesday, March 9

    Totspot, a Great Way to Buy and Sell Clothes

    Today I want to share a cool app with you that I am guessing just may come in handy! A few weeks ago, the company Totspot got in contact with my friend Marie from Make and Takes and me to see if we would try out their app and let you all know how we liked it. Marie and I both tried out Totspot and loved the app. I am excited to tell you about it today!

    Totspot, a great way to buy and sell used clothes

    So, what is Totspot? Totspot is an app where you can buy and sell used clothes, shoes and accessories for babies, kids, women and men. You set up an account and then can buy clothes from others or sell some of your own. That gorgeous dress that your daughter literally wore one time? Sell it! Looking for an awesome vintage Star Wars t-shirt? Buy it!

    Totspot has a website, but the app is where it’s at. Marie and I both highly recommend you use the service through the phone app. Once you create an account you can set up profiles for each person in your family with sizing information. Once profiles are created, you can search what is available on Totspot at any given time by profile. The app’s interface is clear and easy to use. I ended up buying a super cute Gap dress for myself and then a few fun things for my kids, some of which were brand new with tags still on them!

    Totspot, a great way to buy and sell used clothes

    Once you make a purchase and it is shipped to you, you go into the app and either accept or decline the order as well as rank the seller. If you didn’t get what you were expecting, you don’t have to pay for it. This is how sellers are kept accountable and you can feel safe shopping through the app.

    As far as selling clothes goes, you can sell them yourself, which is super easy to do with the app linking to your camera. You can also use the Totspot Concierge service, which is what I’m most excited about. Totspot sends you a bag with a shipping label. You bag up your stuff and send it off to one of their successful sellers, who takes care of selling the clothes and then you share the cut. Anything unsold is donated to charity. I just got my concierge bag in the mail this week and can’t wait to send some stuff off to be sold!

    Totspot Concierge Service

    Totspot definitely has a strong sense of community and users are incredibly friendly and helpful. And both of my orders, which came from different sellers, arrived personalized and wrapped in cute paper. I was super impressed! Shipping is based on the size of the order, and as you are ordering, the app makes it easy to bundle from one seller to get a discount on your order. There are so many little details like this throughout the buying and selling process that make the app super cool and easy to use.

    I know this post is sounding all salesy, but seriously, Totspot is great! Marie and I both love it and are happy to share it with you!

    And we’d love to give you a chance to try out Totspot, too! Which means…GIVEAWAY TIME! One winner is going to receive $150 gift card to Totspot to get shopping! Follow the form below to enter. Good luck!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    To join Totspot, you can create an account on their website or simply download the app on IOS or Android and set up your account through the app. When you join Totspot, be sure to use my referral code GHCOQG to get $5! And here is a cute video about how to sell on Totspot!

    Today’s post and giveaway were sponsored by Totspot. They also provided me with $50 towards my first purchase.


  6. Wednesday, January 13

    Easy Ladybug Cupcakes

    Today I wanted to share the easy ladybug cupcakes I made for Cate’s birthday. One of my “things” as a mom is making fun birthday cakes for my kids, but this year Anna simply wanted a cake made out of donuts and Cate wanted chocolate cupcakes with vanilla icing. While I was a little disappointed to not be making more elaborate cakes, I will admit it was a nice break, especially one week before Christmas.

    Quick tutorial for easy ladybug cupcakes from @janemaynard

    Then, the day of her birthday, Cate informed me that she wanted ladybug cupcakes. I was like, “Uh, what?” I was completely unprepared, but really wanted to come through for her. Luckily I had some red cupcake liners and a pack of candy eyes in the cabinet and was able to pull these off!

    Quick tutorial for easy ladybug cupcakes from @janemaynard

    These ladybug cupcakes are seriously EASY.

    • Cook the cupcakes in red or black cupcake papers.
    • Make a batch of buttercream frosting. Color about 2/3 of it with red food coloring (you’ll need a lot of food color!). Color the rest of the buttercream with black food coloring.
    • Frost the cupcakes with red buttercream using a butter knife, spreading the frosting on smoothly (doesn’t have to be perfect!).
    • Place the black frosting in a piping bag with a small, round tip. Pipe on the outline of the wings, the polka dots, and a head, as shown in the diagram below.
    • Finish off the ladybug with small candy eyes placed on the black icing piped on as the head, right at the edge of the cupcake.

    How to decorate easy ladybug cupcakes from @janemaynard

    I was able to knock these cupcakes out no problem, and the design is so simple even the non-artistic among us can pull it off.

    Click here to get the recipes I used for the chocolate cake and buttercream frosting. (Feel free to use a cake mix, I’m not keeping track!)

    Happy decorating!


  7. Tuesday, September 29

    Another Birthday, Another Cake! Owen’s Anchor Birthday Cake

    If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I like to make fun birthday cakes for my kids. Before you start feeling guilty for not making fun birthday cakes for your kids, don’t, because I promise there are plenty of other things you do as a parent that I’m failing at. If, however, you are like me and making fun birthday cakes is your thing, I do like to share my cakes with you so you can steal my ideas!

    how to make a kids' birthday anchor cake by @janemaynard + recipe for vanilla cake

    Owen had a pirate themed birthday party this year and he decided he wanted an anchor cake. Nate and I tried to talk him into a pirate flag cake. That would have been SO EASY…just a 9×13 cake with black frosting, topped with a fondant skull and crossbones rolled out and cut into the right shape…if only. But alas, he wouldn’t go for it. Anchors away!

    At first I thought an anchor cake would be easy peasy. Shaping the cake was in fact simple, However, frosting the cake was WICKED HARD. So many nooks and crannies around the edge! My frosting skills were no match and this was my worst-frosted cake ever, but it still looked cute enough and 4-year-olds surprisingly don’t notice these things.

    how to make a kids' birthday anchor cake by @janemaynard + recipe for vanilla cake

    Here’s how to make an anchor cake!

    • Bake a 9″ x 13″ cake.
    • Draw your anchor shape onto the cake oriented vertically by scoring the top of the cake with a sharp knife, then cut the cake into the shape. Make it a nice tall anchor. It’s okay to have the top circle cut off and the side “arrow” thingies cut off because you can…
    • …use the large cake scraps to shape pieces to round off the top of the anchor and add to the arrow-shaped sides.
    • For the chain, I mixed black food coloring into white fondant to make grey. I rolled out skinny snake shapes and linked them together. The final touch was to lightly brush the chain with metallic edible silver dust from Wilton. That was Anna’s idea and it made the chain look AWESOME. I rolled out a thin white disc for the hole in the top of the anchor where the chain is attached.

    how to make a kids' birthday anchor cake by @janemaynard + recipe for vanilla cakeClick here for my comprehensive “Amateur’s Guide to Making Super Cute Cakes,” which includes a recipe for chocolate cake and buttercream frosting as well as LOTS of tips for shaping and decorating cakes. And, because I’ve never shared it before, below is the recipe for vanilla cake we use, which was what Owen requested. This recipe comes from my favorite cake book, Cakes for Kids by Matthew Mead. The book is out of print but there are copies on Amazon.

    how to make a kids' birthday anchor cake by @janemaynard + recipe for vanilla cake

    The best part of Owen’s cake had absolutely nothing to do with the cake. The wind blew out his candles while we were singing. Nate quickly relit them all, then the wind blew 3 of the 4 candles out again. Nate went to relight them AGAIN. Instead Owen just rolled with the punches and blew out the one candle. It was super cute, although I suspect that he knew 1 candle was easier to blow out than 4. Crafty guy.

    Vanilla Cake
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    This is a great basic vanilla cake recipe from Matthew Mead's "Cakes for Kids" book. I've re-written the directions in my own words.
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for pans
    • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ⅔ cup butter at room temperature
    • 1¾ cups sugar
    • 2 large eggs, room temp
    • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1¼ cups milk
    • 2 teaspoons grated fresh orange or lemon zest (optional)
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
    2. This recipe works for 24 cupcakes, 2 8-inch or 9-inch cakes, or 1 9x13 cake. If using cupcake liners, place liners in muffin tin and set aside. If using cake pan(s), lightly grease the bottom of the cake pan, line it with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper and the sides of the pan. Lightly flour the pan. Set aside.
    3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the 2½ cups flour, baking powder and salt.
    4. Using a stand mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl.
    5. Leaving the mixer on medium speed, add ¼ cup sugar. Beat for 3 minutes. Keep adding sugar ¼ cup at a time, mixing for 3 minutes between each addition until you've added all the sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat on medium speed for 2 more minutes.
    6. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating at medium speed for 30 seconds between each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
    7. With the mixer on low speed, add ⅓ of the flour mixture, then half of the milk, then ⅓ of the flour mixture, then the rest of the milk, then the rest of the flour mixture, mixing until just combined for each addition. If using zest, add it now.
    8. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then give the batter one more mix at high speed for 20 seconds.
    9. Spread the batter in the pan, filling cake pans or cupcakes ⅔ full with batter.
    10. For 8- or 9-inch cakes, bake for 30-35 minutes. For 9x13 cake, bake for 35-40 minutes. For cupcakes bake for 10-12 minutes. Toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean when done.
    11. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Using a knife, cut around the edges of the cake, then invert the pan over the wire rack, lift pan to remove cake and peel off parchment paper. Let cake cool completely on the rack. For cupcakes, let cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing.

     


  8. Friday, March 6

    Friday Show and Tell + Choosing Paint Colors for the House

    Happy Friday, everyone! Today I want to talk about some house stuff, namely choosing paint colors, a process that stresses me to no end!

    tips for choosing paint colors for the house from @janemaynard

    You may remember last summer we had to repipe our entire house thanks to old plumbing that had seen one too many leaks. The repipe company fixes the drywall after putting approximately 3 billion holes in your walls, but they don’t paint. Which means we have had giant white splotches all over our house for well over six months (case in point). I FINALLY decided to get my act together and have started choosing paint colors for the house.

    As I choose colors and start painting I will share the colors with you. If I’m going to put all this legwork into finding good colors, I may as well have other people benefit, too! But before we get to actual colors, I wanted to share my best tips for picking out colors!

    tips for choosing paint colors for the house from @janemaynard

    • Get a color swatch book. Just going to the paint store and looking at the paint chips in the pretty display on the wall is not helpful. Get the whole darn swatch book and bring it home. It was so much more helpful than bringing just a few little color cards home and then not having them be what I was looking for. Plus, with the full swatch book, you get EVERY shade of every color family, which the little paint color cards can’t offer.

    color inspiration from linen company frettePhoto credit: Frette

    • Look for color inspiration in other places. I recently discovered a luxury bedding company online called Frette. They have gorgeous linens and the site makes me just want to climb in bed and read a book all day! I found that looking at their different sheet sets was actually very helpful in getting a feel for the kind of color schemes I liked or was looking for. Plus many of their linens are quite neutral, which is perfect for paint colors. (Also, now I think I need new bedding. I didn’t know I needed it, but now I do. ;)) Whether it’s a linen company like Frette, a plant in your yard, or just constantly analyzing paint colors when you’re watching TV shows (yes, that’s what I do!), always be looking for colors you like even when there isn’t a paint swatch to be seen!
    • Talk to friends. Anyone who paints goes through the agony of finding paint colors, so talk to your friends, look at their walls, see what they used, find out what they sampled. This has been incredibly helpful to me through this process!
    • Talk to an interior designer. I am lucky enough to have an awesome friend named Emily who has an interior design business. She has been helping me with colors and her input has been invaluable. Interior designers are perfect for helping with this process – they have an eye for it and they work with paint colors ALL THE TIME, making them very familiar with the paint options that are out there. I highly recommend talking with an interior designer (Emily is awesome, hire her!), even if it’s to simply pull together paint options.

    tips for choosing paint colors for the house from @janemaynard

    • Do lots of sample colors on your wall. Emily pointed out that people tend to only get 2 paint samples, but she said that’s simply not enough! The paint samples are only $3-4 a pop, so get 4 or 5 colors. Be sure to paint the swatches in lots of places in the room and in every room you plan to paint, to account for different lighting. You can’t sample too much!

    I personally think picking colors is a huge stressor, but Emily keeps reminding me it can be fun! So, I’m trying to remember that! 😉

    Okay, so color #1 that I want to share with you! This first color is for our hallway, which has very little light, and the master bathroom. I wanted to find a fairly light color, but one dark enough to contrast with the white baseboards. For our house we needed something with a warm tone. That said, I love grey and think that has a more modern feel. Emily found a Sherwin Williams color, SW 7011 Natural Choice. I tried a few whites and this one was just what we were looking for! It very subtly contrasts with the white baseboards and is the warm, slightly gray color I was looking for – not too brown, but definitely not cool like most grays tend to be. Anyway, it’s a great, light neutral color that I am loving! I painted the bathroom yesterday and will be tackling the hallway later this week! (Note: I used Behr Marquee paint – Home Depot has the formulations for the Sherwin Williams colors.)

    diy no-sew teepee from julie blannerPhoto credit: Julie Blanner

    I actually don’t have anything published on other sites this week, but I DID see this awesome no-sew teepee tutorial from fellow blogger Julie Blanner that I had to share with you. How ridiculously cute is THAT?! We are going to have to do this for our kids one day!

    Show and tell! Please share!!!

    Today’s post was partially sponsored by Frette.


  9. Wednesday, December 17

    Anna’s Deep Dish Pizza Cake

    It’s birthday season in our home, which means I’m busy whipping up cakes for the girls! This year Anna requested a deep dish pizza cake from Cakes for Kids by Matthew Mead. I am absolutely delighted with the results and wanted to share it with you!

    how to make a cake look like deep dish pizza from @janemaynard

    This cake was actually quite easy to put together. Here’s how to get it done!

    • Use a 9-inch cake. After you remove the cake from the pan to cool, wash the pan. When you level the cake, take off about 1/8-1/4″ so that when you put the cake back in the pan for display, there is space between the top of the cake and the top of the pan.
    • Once the cake is back in the clean pan, frost the top with red-tinted butter cream for the sauce. I used red, a bit of orange, and a smidge of green to make the red color. Pipe the “crust” around the edge with buttercream that has extra vanilla extract mixed in (to make it a little more brown). I just used a ziploc bag with the corner cut to make the fat pipe with the frosting. Use cinnamon to add brown spots to the crust, rubbing in lightly with fingers.
    • Marzipan is the key to the beautiful veggies on top! For one 9-inch cake you need a 7-ounce package of marzipan, found in the baking aisle at the grocery store. Divide the marzipan into 4 equal parts. When you roll out the marzipan, place parchment paper both underneath and on top when rolling. For the mushrooms, roll out the marzipan thin and cut mushrooms freehand, using a bit of cinnamon to add color. For the bell peppers, knead in green food coloring with a bit of brown, then roll pieces of marzipan out into a skinny snake shape, make circles and then crimp the circle like a pepper. For the pepperoni, knead in red and a bit of brown food coloring into the marzipan and then roll out thin. Using a small circle cutter, cut circles and then texture with a pastry brush (genius!). I used the rippled edge side of my round cutter for the pepperoni. For the onions, roll out the marzipan then use concentric round cutters to make the onion shapes.
    • Unsweetened shredded coconut worked perfectly for the cheese! I sprinkled most of the cheese directly on the “sauce,” then placed the veggies and sprinkled a bit more “cheese” on top.

    how to make a cake look like deep dish pizza from @janemaynard

    Voila! Deep Dish Pizza…that tastes like cake! It was seriously funny all afternoon with the cake sitting on the counter. It really looked like a pizza!

    how to make a cake look like deep dish pizza from @janemaynard


  10. Monday, November 24

    Fun Learning During the Thanksgiving Break!

    This post is sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA) and reflects a collaboration with NEA’s Raise Your Hand for Student Success campaign. All thoughts and opinions are, of course, my own. Be sure to visit the NEA Parents’ Page for great resources for parents!

    My kids have this entire week of Thanksgiving off from school. I remember back in the day only getting Thursday and Friday off, leaving you with just a few days to enjoy the holiday. I actually really appreciate having three extra days to relax with our family and enjoy some time off together. But having the whole week off means almost 10 days of no school!

    I’m not one to buy workbooks and pull out the flashcards on school breaks. Honestly, I love getting a break from the homework grind. But just because homework and class time are on hiatus doesn’t mean learning has to be. Here are a few things we’ll be doing this week as a family to facilitate fun learning during the Thanksgiving break!

    making learning fun during the thanksgiving break by @janemaynard

    • COOKING! Of course we’ll be cooking up a storm this week and you can bet the kids will be involved. Not only will having the kids cook with me help form lasting memories, but there are ample learning opportunities in the kitchen, especially around math. Anna even got up this morning and made up her own “recipe” with yogurt and milk, so she is ready to go in the cooking department!
    • READING! I am lucky that we have kids who love to read, so they’ll do plenty of reading on their own over the break. But even if kids don’t love reading, Thanksgiving break is a good time to get them excited to read. I always buy Christmas books during this week and we kick off the holiday season by reading those books together as a family. We also have fun Thanksgiving books to share together, too.

    making learning fun during the christmas break - reading books and buying new christmas books - from @janemaynardThis is our newest Christmas book, which I bought just last night!

    • DAY TRIPS! We have passes to the Natural History Museum in LA as well as the San Diego Zoo. We will be visiting one of those spots for sure this week! Museums really are a great way to mix learning with fun!
    • CRAFTS & LEARNING ACTIVITIES: My Anna loves science more than a million ice cream scoops, so I’m sure we’ll break out our Green Kid Crafts science kit and do a science project together. My friend Marie also has about 1 billion projects on her website Make and Takes, so I’ll be seeing what ideas she has for us, too!

    making learning fun during the thanksgiving break by @janemaynard

    What do you have planned this week with the kids? I’m sure you all have all kinds of creative ideas, so please share them with the rest of us!