Category Archives: How To-sday

How-To’s Day: Father’s Day shirt & tie cards

Now that you’ve chocolate dipped Dad’s favorite treats it’s time to make the perfect Father’s Day card to go with them. I’ve done this card for different occasions and it never fails to get a chuckle. There are lots of different shirt and tie designs out there but I found this one years ago and it is by far my favorite. I usually let my kids fill in the inside of the card and decorate the tie but there are lots of ways to personalize this card as I will discuss below.

White paper
Construction paper

Step 1: Fold your sheet of white paper in half lengthwise and then open it back up and fold each side in to the center line.

Step 2: Open up the page and turn it over, spiny side up. Fold the top inch back but only crease it through the middle two quarters.

Step 3: Turn the paper back over and fold both sides in to the center once again.

Step 4: Flatten the top corners down to look like the collar of a white shirt.

Step 5: Turn the card face down  again and flip the bottom of the tail back up so it touches the bottom of the collar.

Step 6: Flare out the inside corners for the sleeves.

Step 7: Add a tie or use patterned paper and add buttons. If Dad’s not a tie kind of guy, have your kids decorate the shirt to look like his favorite then add buttons.  If Dad is a uniformed worker, check out this variation on the shirt card. Find more detailed instructions on this design here.

For a matching gift idea, create a brag book like the one we posted for Mother’s Day but add a personalized cover like the one I used here.

Don’t miss our upcoming review on our Father’s Day Lego Mini-Build weekend at Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa! (They will be hosting another Lego weekend in July if you can’t make this one.) Here is my review of last year’s Lego Mini-Build weekend at Wild Horse Pass.

Have a very happy Father’s Day!


How-To’s Day: Chocolate-dipped Father’s Day treats

This was a perfect activity for a too-hot day when we all felt trapped inside with nothing to do. I just happened to have an enormous chocolate bar laying around (courtesy of my awesome husband) and a really, really lot of sprinkles. This activity went over quite well with the knee-high crowd, plus one friend, and would be a great homemade treat for Dad on his special day.

You will need:
4-5 ounces of chocolate
Animal crackers (or whatever the dad in question has a taste for)
A double boiler (or a metal bowl over a pot)
Wax paper
Napkins and baby wipes

Step 1: Lay out wax paper and hold the curly edges down with matchbox cars. Or not… but my kids seemed to feel it was necessary.

Step2: Place crackers or whatever you are dipping, sprinkles and napkins out on your workspace so you will be ready to go when the chocolate is melted.

Step 3: Chop chocolate into smaller pieces and then melt in your double boiler or in the microwave. Remove from heat before chocolate is fully melted and continue stirring until smooth. If you are using the microwave or a make-shift double boiler, be careful not to over-melt the chocolate or it will start to re-solidify real funky-like. (Yeah, I’ve been down that road before.)

Step 4: Allow children to dip crackers into the chocolate,  lay them out on the wax paper and add sprinkles to their little hearts’ content.

Step 5: Let set and then put them in a tin or a jar for Dad to take to work. Happy Father’s Day!

How-To’s Day: Five creative coloring crafts

On a good day my kids will spend a half-hour or more at the table with their crayons and blank paper, creating original artwork. But most days straight coloring doesn’t get quite the enthusiastic reaction it used to. So, I’ve been trying to get creative with our coloring. Forget the scrap paper and coloring books; we’ve been working on a few ideas that will get your kids begging for their art supplies.

1. Paper plates. Or lunchbags or whatever funky paper products you have lying around. For whatever reason, coloring on an irregular paper surface multiplies the excitement level by at least three.

2. Butcher paper on the wall. I picked up my roll of white butcher paper at Paper Plus in Mesa and I tape it to the table, the wall and any other crazy surface I can think. The kids love coloring on the wall and fill every square inch on the paper.

3. Cardboard Shuttle Imagination from KidsCraft Playhouses. My kids had an absolute blast with this space shuttle! And so did the rest of the neighborhood. They spent days decorating this thing between trips to the moon and I had neighborhood moms calling to ask me what their kids were chattering on about. For girls or boys who are not so interested in space travel, KidsCraft Playhouses carries a Creation Cottage playhouse.

4. Gift wrap. For the most part, we don’t buy wrapping paper. My kids make it. For big gifts we use the same butcher paper I use to tape to the wall. For smaller gifts we use sheets of packing paper, also found at Paper Plus. The kids use crayons, markers, water colors, glitter and whatever else we have handy. If they know their work is going around someone’s present my kids get extra creative and artistic.

5. Sock monsters. My friend the super-midwife, Brittani Hamilton, suggested this one a couple of weeks ago. We cleaned the sock drawer of old and mismatched socks and the kids each picked one to decorate. The holey ones are the most fun because fingers can poke through, acting as horns or claws.

If most of your crayons are busted nubs, be sure to check out how to create your own Recycled “Swirly” Crayons right at home.

Disclaimer: Shuttle Imagination provided by KidsCraft Playhouses for media review.

How-To’s Day: Roasted garden roots

Our five-year-old Christopher (on the left in this photo) doesn’t eat veggies. Or anything else even remotely healthy but especially veggies. So, we put him in charge of the garden. He weeds and plants and waters and takes great pride in his little plot of green.  He still won’t eat most of the fruits of his labors but he will at least taste it. This is the same kid who won’t even lick his broccoli for a whole bowl of ice cream. That’s progress.

Christopher’s latest harvest, a whole bunch of root veggies, seemed like the perfect opportunity to get a few vitamins and minerals into his body that he is surely missing. Here’s how we did it:

Butter, salt & pepper

Step 1: Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees and line your cookie sheet with foil, shiny side up.

Step 2: Cube all of the veggies, no smaller than an inch, no bigger than an inch-and-a-half. You decide what ratio of potatoes to beets to carrots you want and cut up enough to fill the cookie sheet. One cookie sheet easily feeds our family of five.

Step 3: Peel and cut six to twelve cloves (according to your taste) of garlic in half and distribute evenly amongst the veggies.

Step 4: Cut a cube of butter lengthwise and then into pats and spread out the same as the garlic. You can use as little as a half a cube or a whole cube if you want them good and crispy. Add salt and pepper to taste — more than you would think you’d need — the potatoes suck it up.

Step 5: Roast on the center rack for 20 to 45 minutes depending on how done you like them. We do two pans for company (as seen above) and it’s important to remember to rotate them to get good browning on the top and bottom pans.

These are great to cook ahead of time if you need to put other things in the oven. Just crank the oven up to 500 degrees about 5 minutes before dinner and throw the veggies in the oven until they’re sizzling.

Disclaimer: If you know us at all, you know my husband gets credit for this recipe. If you don’t, you know now. Thanks Allen!

How To’s Day: Create a custom clipboard

My sister and I were born seventeen years apart. I got to be there the day she entered the world and from that day on I spoiled her like crazy. I bounced her to sleep on my back on the trampoline, I got her “water and ice” when she asked for it, I took her to preschool and sent her off to her first day of kindergarten with tears in my eyes.

Those first couple years of her life my friends and I got a kick out of carting her around with us and how people assumed she was my child. I took pictures of everything she did and endured countless hours of Teletubbies, Barney and Mr. Rogers.

But as my kids have grown in number and age and as the geographical distance continues to grow between my sister and I we don’t get to spend anywhere near enough time together. So, imagine my delight when she agreed to spend some time with me this last weekend working on this week’s How To’s Day craft.

The plan: To cute-ify the clipboard that hangs in Allie’s room displaying a few of her treasures. The outcome: Pure awesomeness (displayed above and to the right).

Roll of wrapping paper (the thicker/heavier the paper, the better)
Cutting mat
X-Acto knife
Spray adhesive
Mod Podge (or watered down Elmer’s glue)- optional
Small foam paint brush- optional
An extra pair of hands

Step 1: Roll your wrapping paper out across the cutting mat and place your clipboard flat on top. Cut around the clipboard leaving an extra inch or so of paper around the edges to wrap around the back.

Step 2: Lay some newspaper, ads or something to protect your workspace and place the clipboard on top. Place your pretty paper over the clipboard just where you want it and then lift up the paper covering the area below the clip. Spray adhesive on the board and then smooth the paper down.

Step 3: This is where another set of hands is helpful. Have someone hold the clip open while you work around it cutting the paper with the X-Acto knife.

Step 4: Lift the upper section of paper and spray adhesive (this is tricky). Smooth the paper down around the clip.

Step 5: Turn your clipboard over and cut out the corners of your overlapping page as shown to the right above. This will help it fold down uniformly. Paint paste onto the top and bottom strips of your paper and fold it onto the back side of the board. (I would recommend Mod Podge or watered down Elmer’s. We used spray adhesive but at this point it was a gobby, gooey mess. ) Do the same with the long side strips.

Step 6: If you want to, give the whole thing a coat of Mod Podge for durability and shine.

Add your calendar, grocery list, pictures or whatever you fancy and hang your clipboard on the wall!

How-To’s Day: Recycled “swirly” crayons

I hate throwing away crayons. Even half a crayon. Even one-third of a crayon. But when I pulled down the kids’ bucket of crayons the other day to find it full of tiny crayon nubs and only two or three full sized crayons I knew it was time to let them go. So, inspired by another friend of mine, the kids and I made what they dubbed “swirly crayons”. Here is how you can put your crayon nubs to good use too.

A muffin tin
Cupcake papers
Broken crayons

Step 1: Preheat your oven to about 200-250 degrees and peel all paper off of the crayons.

Step 2: Line muffin tin with papers.

Step 3: Break crayons down into easily meltable sizes.

Step 4: Put the tin full of crayons in the oven and watch it. The crayons will look like they are just starting to melt for quite a while until they are quite suddenly crayon soup. Pull them out before they are over-melted.

Step 5: Let crayons cool. This will take quite a while. I think we left them for at least an hour

Step 6: Bust out your new swirly crayons and create a work of art.

How To’s-Day: Washer necklaces

I’ve been planning this post for weeks. But sometimes when I make plans I forget that I’m a mom. And I forget that cars can die, that kids get sick, that friends will need last minute help, that stores don’t like to carry exactly what I need or they purposely make it very hard to find, that family events tend to take all day… for three days in a row, and that my kids need to see my face from time to time.

So here it is but not without the help of three people who love me enough to dig me out of the hole I buried myself in this week: my awesome husband and my good friends Lanae Shrope and Stephanie Shumway. (And thanks to Lori Nielsen for the loan of her alphabet stamps!) Lanae is responsible for the chains and cords on the necklaces along with some of the work that went into making them. Stephanie cleaned my house and modeled for us. And my husband wound up doing the majority of the grunt work. You might be asking yourself what exactly I was doing. I’m still trying to figure that out.

And without any further ado, my make-your-own Mother’s Day washer necklace tutorial:

Washers (zinc plated)- Found at the hardware store. Buy a few extra for practice!
A heavy hammer- We used a 3 pound sledge
Alphabet metal punches- Found at Harbor Frieght
A cutting mat (optional)
A sharpie
Baby wipes
A magic eraser

Step 1: Place a practice washer on a concrete or tile surface. Use the cutting mat to protect the surface if necessary.

Step 2: Choose a letter and position it on the washer. Lift your hammer about a foot above the stamp and let it fall using only a touch of force. It will take a practice washer or two to get the hang of this. I ended up having my husband help with this.

Step 3: Personalize your washers with your desired message. We used a #2 Phillips screwdriver as a spacer. You can use a nail setter if you would rather a dot than a little star.

Step 4: Color in your letters with black Sharpie and then hairspray it quickly. Wipe off the excess with a baby wipe or a magic eraser. This takes quite a bit of elbow grease!

Step 5: Add the chain, cord or ribbon of your choice. We tried a few different options here.

In a matter of a couple of hours we knocked out six necklaces and a keychain for my dad’s birthday. And we had a blast! We have already come up with a list of different occasions to make these necklaces for. I ended up with one for myself and Stephanie and Lanae both went home with one.

We bought our washers at Home Depot for pennies a piece. The large one is a 5/8″ x 1 1/4″ zinc-plated fender washer and the smaller one is a 1/2″ cut zinc-plated washer. There are many different sizes and thicknesses to choose from and a couple of different finishes. If you want to get a little crazy, this blog post has lots of great ideas for different types of washer necklaces.

Have a very happy Mother’s Day!