Cook with your children

With Thanksgiving coming up, I’m reminded of all the family time that is about to be spent in the kitchen. It got me thinking… how important is it to cook with your kids? I try to let my daughter help out in the kitchen whenever she shows interest, but it can be frustrating when I’m time crunched or attempting something new.

According to webmd.com, cooking with your children has a lot of benefits, like getting them interested in trying healthy foods they normally wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. My daughter used to eat anything and everything in sight, now that she is four, she has become more picky. I’m sure a lot of parents can relate… she would eat mac and cheese for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if we let her. So I’m all for her trying and eating healthy foods, and it makes sense, if she’s a part of what she puts on her plate, she will feel like she had a say in the meal, even if she didn’t. According to the article, there are a lot of other benefits cooking with your children can have:

Some  short-term benefits:

  • Kids feel like they are accomplishing something and contributing to the family.
  • Kids are more likely to sit down to a family meal when they helped prepare it.
  • Parents get to spend quality time with their kids.
  • Kids aren’t spending time in front of the TV or computer while they’re cooking.
  • Kids generally aren’t eating junk food when they’re cooking a meal at home.

Some long-term benefits:

  • Learning to cook is a skill your children can use for the rest of their lives.
  • Kids who learn to eat well may be more likely to eat healthfully as adults.
  • Positive cooking experiences can help build self-confidence.
  • Kids who cook with their parents may even be less likely to abuse drugs.

Wow. It really makes me step back and realize I need to make time, have patience, and encourage her to help with family meals. The author of the site Cooking With My Kid, set a mission in 2009, make 365 recipes in 365 days all with kid-assistance. This challenge has changed the way they eat, cured pickiness, and created a special bonding experience. Check out her blog where she posts recipes, how to videos, picky busters, and super cute photos of her kids making some mouth watering meals as a family.

All this talk about family in the kitchen reminds me of the perfect Take This Make This gift tutorial. Framed family recipes. So sweet and beautiful!


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So I made a cake… out of diapers

Hey guys! One of my best girlfriends had her baby shower last weekend and while I did get her some things off of her registry, I had to throw in a little DIY gift! I wanted to make her one of those super cute diaper cakes I’ve seen at so many other showers, and this was my first time to make one. This diaper cake was my visual inspiration and I followed this video tutorial for step-by-step instructions. Here is a picture of my finished “cake”. Fabulous!

Substitute your imagination for your money

Christmas is coming! It’s time to put out the lights, put up the tree, and pull out your wallet. Wait, what?


It’s probably no surprise to you that Christmas is the biggest shopping season of the year. We have to buy for everyone on our list, and how can we resist doing a little shopping for ourselves what with all the great deals retailers (online and instore) are offering.

According to IBIS World, $228.4 billion was spent on holidays in 2010 (which includes spending on food, gifts and parties related to holiday events). $135.16 billion was spent at Christmas, which is estimated to account for 59.2% of sales alone and Christmas gifts account for at least 47.2% of total sales. That’s a lot of money.

Check out this video from msn.com. Reporter Stacy Johnson says it best, “Christmas is a magical time of year. It’s when your money magically goes from your pocket to someone elses cash register”. With the average American spending around $1,000 each year on Christmas gifts, it makes sense. And this amount has gradually increased each year. When is it too much? The video gives 5 tips to save during the Christmas season, number 5 being, do something for someone. Being able to substitute your imagination for your money puts the benjamins back in your wallet.

Janey Osterlind, a contributer at WiseBread.com, says to Make Something for the people on your gift list. “I’m not suggesting that you knit sweaters as Christmas gifts (unless you actually are talented at knitting and have some sort of fashion sense). Making a Christmas gift that is appreciated and used requires some creative thinking and knowledge of the recipient. A little thought could produce a pretty awesome gift while also saving you money.”


Some of you may only have a couple of people on your list, and some of you may have to unroll a scroll, so I’ve included this great link from thehappyhousewife.com, 100 Homemade Christmas Gifts.  “Homemade Christmas gifts don’t have to look like they came out of your 3 year-old’s Sunday School class. There are some amazing homemade gift ideas that can be made by real-life moms on a real-life budget!” My favorite, a DIY book on “tape”. Genius!

People are getting crafty for Christmas

I’ve discovered Storify. A neat website that collects and organizes topics from social mediums and allows users to create a story with what they find. I did a Twitter and Facebook search for DIY gifts. You can see my “story” here.

Since it’s the middle of October, I was surprised at how many people are already getting ready for Christmas. So productive! It’s great to see people excited about making homemade crafty gifts for their friends and family. What will you be making for your loved ones this year? I know one thing I’ll be making for sure is homemade peppermint scrub! I made about 20 jars of this last year for family, friends, teachers, and co-workers. It was a huge success and even better, it’s incredibly easy to make.

Some advice with this… 1. If you plan on making a lot of these and don’t have enough jars to recycle, buy your jars NOW! When it gets closer to Christmas, stores will be completely stripped bare of all jars and jar related items. (Seriously, it’s crazy.) With the recent success of Pinterest and interest in DIY, everyone needs jars for their gifts. I learned this the hard way last Christmas. This year, I’ve been stocking up by buying and saving jars all year.2. I had a hard time finding peppermint essential oil. If your ahead of the game, you can order it online. Because I decided to make this at the last minute, I needed to buy mine locally. I found mine at The Vitamin Shoppe.

Bookmark this great idea so you’re ready for the holidays! And don’t forget to make some for yourself, too. You deserve it! Happy crafting!

Give a gift that means more… to them and to you!

I’ve always said that creating and giving a DIY gift can be a rewarding experience for the receiver. Can creating DIY projects also be a rewarding experience for the giver? Mark Frauenfelder, founder of BoingBoing, founding editor of Wired Online, editor-in-chief of MAKE magazine, and author of Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World, thinks it can. In his article written for the Huffington Post, The Courage To Screw Up: Why DIY Is Good For You, Frauenfelder proposes that the process of DIY is engaging, fulfilling, and beneficial. From his own DIY experiences, he has discovered the benefits which can make the crafter an overall better person.

Using your brain, working with your hands, and finding a unique meaning behind each gift makes it special not only for the receiver, but for you. We have a human desire to create, invent and improve. But we are contained in the idea that gifts need to be expensive, mass produced products. Our idea of gifts has become less about quality, and more about quantity. Instead of really thinking about what the person means to us, why we are honoring them, we try to minimize the risk in gift giving in hopes that it will be accepted. What does this say about the meaning of a gift? Shankar Vedantam has written a thought provoking article for the Washington Post about how we as a society have dispatched from the psyche of giving, Searching for a Sense of Meaning in Gifts. Vedantam states, “The idea of the gift goes back centuries. But gifts don’t mean the same thing today as they once did: For one thing, people have far more stuff then they used to, which makes getting a truly unique gift less likely. A lot more gifts also change hands these days, which makes it harder to put a great deal of thought into each gift”. He quotes Antonio Callari, an economics professor at Franklin and Marshall College, “The very idea of the soul of the gift has been lost. The gift has lost its character as a gift and become a product, a commodity”.

How do we fix this and make gift giving what it once was? We minimize the risk of gift giving and bring back its thoughtfulness by creating something from our hands and heart. This not only makes for a better gift, but makes us better people. DIYer, Desiree Campbell at the36thavenue.com, says “Keep in mind that handmade items are not just beautiful but special…I love to give them and I love to receive them”.  Check out Campbell’s DIY tutorial list, 25 handmade Gifts Under $5. It’s hard to choose a favorite from her list (and I don’t think I can) but I plan to make these Cowgirl Cookies in a jar for my co-workers! We love getting baked goods at the office, and creating this DIY project will be a rewarding and beneficial experience for me as well! Yippie ki-yay!

You can watch Mark Frauenfelder talk about the benefits of DIY on The Colbert Report here.

Out with the old sweater, in with the new pillow!

With the cooler weather coming in, it’s time to put away all the tank tops and shorts and pull out the hoodies and sweaters. I use this season switcharoo as a chance to simplify and declutter my closet by cleaning out the items I’m never going to wear and making room for the new (yay!). The idea is simple, but the task can seem overwhelming. Need some advice and inspiration? Check out this helpful article by Ashley Strickland over at CNN. Ashley talks to the experts including Jill Martin, co-author of “I Have Nothing to Wear!”, about her 12-step program which helps women “edit” their closets and simplify their lives.

Jill Martin performs a closet cleanse on “The Today Show”. Before (left) and after (right).

Ok, now what to do with all these no longer needed sweaters? Let’s take this old sweater, and make this new pillow!

Just follow this simple tutorial from Megan at BrassyApple.com. This cozy sweater pillow would be great for moms, grandparents, teachers, co-workers, and new home owners. Let’s add baby showers and new mommies to the list, too! How cute would this be in a nursery rocker? Neutral colors would be great for a boy or girl, or you could go gender specific with pink or blue! Oh baby!

DIY Coasters

Fall is here! It’s time to get warm and cozy with oversized sweaters, a nice fire, and one of my favorites… hot chocolate! This gift will keep the hot chocolate in their belly and off their table. This is a great gift idea for… well, pretty much anyone that drinks out of cups! Check out this easy and thrifty tutorial from Kristen at 366daysofpinterest.com. I plan on pairing these cute coasters with a bag of hot chocolate and marshmallows as a gift for an upcoming housewarming party.