Category Archives: Creative

Robot Valentines

I'm Nuts & Bolts About You!

I had no business making hand made robot Valentines for Warren’s classmates, especially after returning from a long trip away from my family, but I did. With Colin’s help, we assembled these little suckers 24 times over.

Using boxes of Craisins, Starburst, pipe cleaner, sparkly heart stickers, googly eyes (for crying out loud!), and a sign that read, “I’m nuts and bolts about you!” we hot glued the robot together.

That’s what I get for giving him free reign to pick an idea off my Valentine’s Day Pinterest board.

Next year, it’s a package of Angry Birds cards straight from the supermarket!

Indoor Activities

I know I vowed to stay current on this blog, so please ignore the fact that I have yet to post about Christmas, Colin’s birthday, or Valentine’s Day.

Instead, I give you images of my kids. I hope that makes up for the 3 month loss.

Warren has been on mid-winter break this week. And despite the amazingly mild season, with more sunny days, and less precipitation than I feared, today was cold, wet, and dreary. So what better time than now to try some Pinterest ideas for indoor play?

Behold the “Ninja training course” that lasted all of about 2 minutes once Jake and Joe came upstairs.

Spy training

Warren designed and taped it up using string he then recycled into a number of different macabre props.


Then I thought I’d take advantage of the great light that (thankfully) comes through even on cloudy days and take some portrait shots. But for every sweet (albeit blurry) picture I’d get…



I’d get about twenty more like this…




At least they were having fun.


White Suits

Did you catch those adorable white suits that Jake and Joey wore at their temple sealing? Those were sewn by Grandma Tuki, seamstress extraordinaire. As soon as she knew that we had a date for the temple, she offered to make these outfits for the boys.

Just look at the buttons on the vests.

She is so incredibly talented. Thank you, Tuki, for making these for Jake and Joey!

It’s the Look of L♥VE

Hearts, hearts everywhere. We couldn’t let Valentine’s Day arrive without some pink and red around the house.

Most of the decorations are ones we made before, or purchased years ago.

But I did add some new items. Some heart garland, using different size punches and twine, that I felt inspired to create after seeing Lisa Leonard’s display. I love her blog.

And some fancy hearts to line the entertainment center. (Thanks for the use of all the punches, Jo!)

Plus an “XOXO” printable I put together that you can download here.

We have a few treats planned for the season. One we made already, but didn’t turn out exactly like I envisioned, or as pictured here. “Blondies” using Valentine-colored M&Ms. Take any cookie recipe that you love (Colin used our trusted Nestle Toll House Cookie recipe), but replace the chocolate chips with candies, then spread in a 9×13 pan. The trick, which neither of us realized, is to reserve some candies and press on top of the spread dough. Otherwise you can’t even tell they’re in there.

Ours aren’t very festive looking but they sure tasted good.

Our other planned goody is brownies cut into heart shapes with a cookie cutter, which we plan to eat for Valentine’s Day dessert.


What kinds of things do you do for Valentine’s Day?

Lollipop Valentines

I saw an idea for homemade Valentines on Pinterest that I wanted to try for Warren’s classmates. I thought it was clever and pretty easy to pull off.

Take a picture of your kid holding out his arm, add some hearts and “Happy Valentin’s Day!” (I used my Creative Memories program for the layout and to add the bokeh hearts and hand-drawn shapes), print as 4×6 photos at Costco, make slits at the top and bottom of the fist, and insert lollipop of choice.

I made a few versions and had him choose. He decided this one would be for the boys:

And this one he’d give to the girls:

Pretty simple and pretty cute.

My only regret is that we couldn’t use Livesaver’s Swirled Pops for the treat. They don’t make them anymore. Such a shame because they were the best sucker at Valentine’s Day. My favorite was the Strawberry & Vanilla flavor. I guess Blow Pops will just have to suffice.


What do you do for Valentines at your house? Do you make them from scratch or buy the ones that come in a pack at the grocery store?

Playing School

It’s Christmas Break, but that doesn’t stop Warren from attending school. He engaged us all in the time-honored game of “playing school,” with curriculum developed on the fly that morning. They were the students, I was the teacher, with heavy collaboration by Warren.

Here is how our day went:

Art— watercolor painting

Snack & Recess— Goldfish crackers and playground time

Botany— Discussion of evergreen trees (parts labeled with inventive spelling)

Writing— Practicing letters, as Jake and Joey look on

Religious Studies— Understanding the Nativity

{Really, it was just a great excuse to use my new camera.}


Yuletide Decor

I freely admit my obsession with holiday decorating. But I’d like to make a case for myself that this Christmas season I was tame. Only two things were purchased, so I’d call that pretty constrained. The rest are items previously made or bought, but seeing them each year brings me joy.

One purchase, in particular, I was especially thrilled about. Our friends, Mary Karlee and Ryan, hosted a Nativity party. They had read in the BYU Alumni magazine about an organization that purchases nativity sets from artists in disadvantaged countries around the world and sells them at cost. 100% of the proceeds go to the artists in an effort to help them generate income through their own craft. Mary Karlee and Ryan bought some to display in the hopes that it would inspire people to want to buy these beautiful pieces of art. I was thrilled to finally find a set that I would feel proud to display. Not that I don’t like the Little People version. It’s awesome and has its function and the kids love it. But I wanted something not plastic. Something a little more respectful of the scene.

I love our new set. The fact that it’s almost ambiguous plus the beautiful black wood make it so striking. It’s from Kenya, Africa. I love knowing that the artist who made this is able to prosper from his own creation.

The next purchased items were supposed to look like this, but I was lazy. Or really, I just ran out of time and realized that I didn’t have the paper punch to create the leaves anyway. So instead I just wrapped the styrofoam in pretty paper and called them trees. Colin thought that was a bit of a stretch. He referred to them as festive cones. Judge for yourself, but I liked how they turned out just fine.

We didn’t technically join in on the Elf on the Shelf fun, but we did already have an elf. It was my mom’s first Christmas decoration when she left for college. Needless to say, he was around before this new elf craze began. He’s retro. I believe his name is Charlie. That’s what I kept calling him, anyway.

Other items scattered around our home have a good amount of history too. Like these ornaments. The wooden one of the angel on the sled has adorned the little table top tree we put up in the kitchen since I went off to college. The popsicle stick and fabric nativity ornament was made at my mom’s Relief Society Christmas Party years ago. It seems in stark contrast to the Lucy “Psychiatry Booth” requiring 5 cents for use, received when I was about 16.

Our faux mantle over the non-functioning fire place holds the all-important Christmas stockings. I bought that picture ledge specifically for the purpose of hanging stockings and it does the trick. Our stockings are a hodge podge of decorations collected and made over the years. The blue snowman soccer player was originally started for Colin at one of the craft days his mom’s side of the family used to hold during Thanksgiving reunions at Ensign Ranch in Washington. By the time I got around to finishing it, Warren was in need of a stocking so he inherited the thing. No one told me that stockings have a uniform protocol for direction, so his is facing the wrong way. So far, he doesn’t seem to mind so much.

Window decorations that look pretty with light shining through.

The kids love this finger puppet nativity set, but Jake and Joe chewed on them a little too much for comfort considering the materials and paint are a tad suspect.

The hallway entry table hosts our gingerbread advent calendar plus some simple pieces like pine cones and subway art I printed for free off Pinterest.

Little elements of the Christmas season that make me smile when I look around the house.


Thankful Tree

Just like last year, we spent this Family Home Evening discussing gratitude and the things we’re thankful for right now. We all took a moment to write down some of these things on paper leaves that I later placed on our Thankful Tree. Renny used inventive spelling and finished the task unassisted while I helped the younger kids by transcribing their ideas.

It’s interesting the things that come to mind.

For Warren: famle (family), cpeiwtrs (computers), me (it’s good to love yourself, no?)

For Maddie: candy (can you tell Halloween had an influence on this girl?) and future husband (sparked by our discussion of the temple and Maddie’s opportunity to one day marry there)

For Jake and Joey: milk (this was, of course, interpreted by Mom based on their excitement after receiving said item during this activity)

For Colin: Jeannie (but he used my full name– so sweet), twins, and potty training (Maddie is in the thick of it…)

For Jeannie: the ability to taste and smell (I was just getting over a nasty cold), my sweet family– Colin, Warren, Maddie, Jake, and Joey, and that I can be home with my children every day

There are others, of course, but these were the ones that made it onto our allocated three leaves.

Truly we are blessed. The tree doesn’t lie.


Jack-o-Lantern Carving

Using the pumpkins we picked at Pete’s Pumpkin Patch, we carved our Jack-o-lanterns to set outside on our porch.

Warren designed and carved the whole thing himself. He only needed a little help with the star-shaped eyes.

Colin helped Maddie dig in and scoop out her seeds, and she allowed him to carve out the mouth. But she wanted to use the carving tools too so she spent many minutes scraping out the eyes. She never did cut through the pumpkin, but she was pleased with the results.

We didn’t carve Jake and Joey’s tiny pumpkins but they looked cute just as they were.

Warren made sure there was a real candle in his pumpkin. Not the fake LED kind.

Don’t these pumpkins look smashing?

Halloween Additions

You’d think the need to add to my Halloween collection would decrease at some point. You’d be wrong.

But I did much better at controlling the addiction this year. I actually stayed clear of Michael’s this time, so I’d call that an improvement. Some items that I added were really tacked on to the end of last Halloween, and (by generous donation) at no cost to me. So you can’t come down too hard on me.

For instance, Julianna’s sister, Tara, has a delightful boutique that carries all kinds of treasures, including Halloween decor items. This spiderweb chandelier is just one of the many fun things you can find in her shop.

This haunted house table runner, with glow-in-the-dark polka dots, no less, was another piece that Julianna so graciously passed on to me.

{Thanks again, Jules. Love them both!}

But there were some DIY decor items that I felt compelled to create. I added these potions/specimen jars to the apothecary display.

I used some empty food jars lying around the house, added drugstore-purchased plastic bugs and skulls, as well as some things found in nature, and poured in water tinted by food coloring. Nice and creepy. I thought about adding some descriptive labels for authenticity, but I didn’t want to be tied down to a certain item per jar. Each year might bring something different to display.

I wanted to add some subway art to my faux mantle, so I created this Boo! print, which you can download here as a 4×6.

And I found this cute poem on

We also put some cut out jack-o-lantern faces on the windows facing the street.

Plus some ghosts in a graveyard, also made out of paper. It’s always fun to come up with some silly epitaph to complete the look.

Very fun, all of it. I’m sure I’ll have more to add next year.