Month: June 2015

Birthday Gift Ideas for Kids

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Among our family friends, there are a lot of kids who have a summer birthday. As they get older, it’s always a challenge to pick the right gift because they seem to have everything and also because I try to get something with meaning. I feel like every girl ages 7-9 at this point has a ton of bracelet making kits and painting projects. But some of these crafts that I bought I thought were more appropriate for girls of this age who may want to start making their own memories or put meaning behind their projects. I love to shop online and purchased these gifts on Amazon. Every picture has a link directly to the item on Amazon.

This gift is for a boy turning 7 who is now into Pokemon. I know from when my son was into Pokemon trading in third grade that the cards add up fast. I liked this binder because it came with the pages ready to fill.
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This gift is for a girl turning 9 who my daughter is good friends with, but doesn’t see too often. I never saw this sign before, but since purchasing it, I have seen it in two stores. Both that I have seen are more glittery, but I like the traditional wood block of this sign. Can’t outgrow this style!

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This gift is for another friend of my daughter’s who is turning 8 and loves ballet. Eight is an age where girls start to keep momentos from events they attend and I think making their own scrapbook would be a really fun activity to display their memories! It’s also a good age to purchase a piece of jewelry and luckily there is a lot out there to represent current interests.

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This gift is for a family friend turning 7 who is having her first small sleepover party (she is also a Red Sox fan!) I tried to tie together the sleepover theme of her party with the Nancy Drew Sleepover Sleuths book and the pillow pet and then tied in her love of the Red Sox with the pillow pet and Ballpark Mystery book The Fenway Foul-Up.

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Boyfriend to Husband Upgrade

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I received this in an email. This is cute/funny. If you are married, you will certainly relate. If yo are not married yet, it is a preview of what’s to come. It certainly explains to me the question I always ask my husband about why he was so romantic before we got married.Dear Tech SupportResponse Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 (1)

The (Imperfect) Craft of Cake Baking

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By no means am I going to be the next contestant on Cake Boss, in fact I really loathe baking. If you go on Pinterest and search Kids Cakes, I am put to shame here, but, I love my kids and a good themed party, so I have taken on the task of cake baking and I do it with the best intentions! I know it’s boxed cake mix and canned frosting, but every year this task comes with tons of frustration and I always swear I will buy next years cake. Some aren’t great photos because I always forget to take a picture before I serve the cake so I cropped the best I could. Also, I think I am the world’s worst froster. I would always get cake bits mixed in even if I froze the cake a bit first. I found buying whipped frosting helps with that. Here is a small gallery of some cakes of the past.

This was Elsa's Ice Castle. The rock candy was supposed to be tiered, but I did have it lit from the bottom and sparklers on it
This was Elsa’s Ice Castle. The rock candy was supposed to be tiered, but I did have it lit from the bottom and sparklers on it
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I also made cupcakes and shaped them as a snowflake to continue the Frozen theme
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This is my best attempt at a Lego Ninjago character named Lloyd


Don’t look too close! This is a frosting disaster!
The look on my daughter’s face is like, “Ooooh, yikes, at least you tried mom!”
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This cake had no specific design, but my son built this really cool candle holder
These cakes were supposed to be Lego bricks. Idea, good. Execution, not so good.


This party was ocean theme. I made a mommy fish with her school of baby fish
Baseball/Yankees Theme
These were cupcakes shaped into an anchor for my daughter’s teacher who retired and is going to spend her days sailing on her boat

Caterpillar Invasion

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It’s early June and the leaves are out and green and flowers are blooming! Our house and yard is surrounded by a heavily wooded area so there are your usual concerns in the summer like ticks, poison ivy and mosquitos.


But this year, there was a new concern. As I got out to start working in my garden weeding and planting, I noticed something strange. When I was anywhere near the woods surrounding my house, I would hear what sounded like light raindrops on the leaves of the trees. So I would look up and the sky was clear. Then I noticed my awesome rose bushes that survive being buried under feet of plowed snow every winter weren’t doing well. Something was eating them, but I didn’t know what.

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So I went on Amazon and searched for an organic product to kill whatever it was eating my roses. I am a Prime member so I had my Organic Fungicide in two spray

I went out to the roses to start spraying and I found the culprit. Three different kinds of caterpillars! It was like I was living inside Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar book. The kids got a bucket and as we started collecting the caterpillars, the bucket quickly filled up. We must have collected at least 50 caterpillars off of 4 bushes.

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Then it hit me, the sound in the woods was the munching! There are so many caterpillars eating their way through everything that you can actually hear a chorus of chomping. The small fuzzy black ones like the trees, roses, and to be on the house. The green ones were parachuting from trees and would be dangling mid air; so many at one point you had to be careful not to walk into them. Then there are the blue ones that I remember collecting as a child because I though they were so pretty, but now I am not liking them so much. I found all varieties on my rose bushes and from what I read, they are into fruit trees as well.

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I did some research and think part of the problem is the Winter Moth population was high in November and December and were successful mating which in turn hatched these wonderful creatures this spring. And, I also read that they like to go for the buds of plants/trees which then seems to destroy the branch. (Click on the picture of the article for more info.)
mothScreen Shot 2015-06-08 at 10.05.15 AMWithin two days after spraying the rose bushes with the fungicide, my rose buses were producing new growth and there were new blooms and 99% of the caterpillars were gone and after four days two of them were in full bloom!IMG_3708IMG_3703 IMG_3702

10 Fun and Free Activities to Do With Your Child This Summer

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  1.  Go to the library and check out books. Then come home and have your child make a bookmark using paper, crayons, ribbon, stickers, paint, markers, etc.
  2. Check with local libraries to see what free children’s programming they are offering and attend one or more
  3. Bake cookies or a cake
  4. Go on a hike. Check your state website for trail listings
  5. Have a picnic lunch in your backyard or at a local park
  6. Get active! Have a dance party, jump rope or hula hoop contest, or play tag
  7. Take your kids outside with paper and paint and have them sit on the grass and paint a nature sceneIMG_0946   IMG_0941   IMG_0939   IMG_0948
  8. Collect acorns, sticks, flower petals, etc. and make a sign, story or press flowersIMG_0173
    My daughter collected extra nature, created a scene and then wrote a story about herself and two friends on a camping trip
    My daughter collected extra nature, created a scene and then wrote a story about herself and two friends on a camping trip
    After picking a bunch of flowers from the garden, we pressed and framed them

    9. Go to the beach, collect shells and make shell art

    My son made this shell collage using sand as an extra decoration
    My daughter made an underwater 2-in-1 scene with a mermaid, but it is also a smily face. On the back she wrote a story.IMG_1633

    10. Set up an obstacle course or scavenger hunt

This is a great summer scavenger hunt! Click on the picture or link to print a copy for free

End-of-the-Year Teacher Gifts

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It’s that time of the year- again- when the school year is wrapping up. This year it was important for me to get my kids’ teachers a special gift because after homeschooling for a year and a half, my kids started a new school mid-year and their teachers have been phenomenal! They were so welcoming and caring and helped my kids transition almost seemlessly and helped to create a wonderful environment where they are happy and thriving!

For my daughter’s teachers, I wanted to buy them a children’s book that touched upon teaching or thank you teacher, but couldn’t find exactly what I wanted so my daughter is going to make them a book in her own words about her experience with them, which I think will be more special. She also made a card for them. I found this printable on Pinterest that was pinned from


I resized it and printed it in the center of the page and then had my daughter paint on her handprint, a book and a heart. She will sign her name in the heart.

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My son, on the other hand, is a Lego fanatic and he is in fifth grade, and I think he has outgrown the crafting stage. So for his teacher, he made a gift card holder out of Legos. He used a blonde minifigure to look like her and the minifigure is holding an apple. Then he made a slot to fit the gift card in.

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Garden Pallet

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Last year I was looking for ideas for using an old pallet and I came across this picture on Pinterest.


It looked easy enough. I bought landscape fabric for the backing and a staple gun and got to work. After fastening the landscape fabric to the back of the pallet, I flipped it over and started filling it with soil. When my husband came home from work, we tried to lift it up and snap, snap, snap, the soil was too heavy and the fabric came unattached and soil started spilling out. Ok, now what? I went back to the hardware store and bought a piece of plywood. So after reattaching the fabric, we added the plywood for extra support and I started planting. Oops, big mistake. Once we lifted it, the plants all sunk as the soil went south. So I fixed all the plants once it was upright and bought a package of wood with pieces that were ruler size and cut them into smaller pieces and placed them as a support under each plant so it wouldn’t fall. What a mess, by July, this is what it looked like! Plants were rotting and falling and the soil kept sinking. Note to self, reuse pallet next year for something else!


And that is what I did. After I cleaned out all the soil, ripped the landscape fabric off and hosed it down, I leaned it back up against the house and looked at it for a long time, loving the pallet so much and wondering what I could do with it that still involved flowers. That is when I thought of hanging buckets of flowers off the pallet. I went on Amazon to search for something and found these buckets and hooks:

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Then I went to the local greenhouse and bought some flowers and also uprooted some pansies that decided to grow in my grass.

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I filled the buckets and planted the flowers, hung them up and wow! Looks so much better than last year!

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