From the category archives:

make something

DIY: Color Coded Towels

February 18, 2015

DIY: Color Coded Towels. Say goodbye to towel confusion in shared bathrooms!

By Gabrielle. Photos & styling by Amy Christie.

When more than one person shares a bathroom, towels become an issue. No doubt you have noticed this as well. You step out of the shower, grab a towel, and realize it’s soggy. Yuck. I do not like sharing my towel, but I get that it’s hard to keep things straight, especially if the towels are all the same color. Happily, there’s a simple solution: add a loop of ribbon — a different color for each person!

Assign a color to each family member (and another color for guests!) and proceed with confidence that next time you grab a towel, you won’t be accidentally sharing it with someone else. Plus, there’s a bonus feature. Instead of towel racks, use wall hooks in your bathroom and use the loops to hang the towels on the hooks. No more towels slipping to the floor! And hooks are space saving too.

DIY: Color Coded Towels. Say goodbye to towel confusion in shared bathrooms!

I generally gravitate toward white towels in the bathroom, but for this tutorial I chose a neutral grey that I thought would both look good in photos and contrast nicely with colorful ribbon loops. Different colors of grosgrain ribbon or cotton twill tape work wonderfully for this project, or you could go with colorful or patterned towels, and then use a neutral colored loop. The choice is up to you!

DIY: Color Coded Towels. Assign a color to each family member and say goodbye to towel confusion in shared bathrooms!

Let’s get started. The towel confusion is over!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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EASY Citrus Sugar Recipe. Make Lemon, Lime, or Orange sugar and add some flavor to your baked goods. Free printable!

By Gabrielle. Photos & styling by Amy Christie.

Hey Sugar! Here’s something to sweeten your day. As you know, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, so I’m trying to share a few projects while you still have time to make use of them. : ) This one is a good one! Flavored sugar recipes are popping up everywhere and since they are so simple to make, I thought they would make sweet gifts for neighbors and friends (pun intended). Sugars infused with flavors help elevate the taste of the recipes they are added to.

EASY Citrus Sugar Recipe. Make Lemon, Lime, or Orange sugar and add some flavor to your baked goods. Free printable!

I’m not kidding about how easy these flavored sugars are to make. All it takes to make citrusy sugars is sugar and zest. Amounts can be adjusted so you can make just the right amount.

EASY Citrus Sugar Recipe. Make Lemon, Lime, or Orange sugar and add some flavor to your baked goods. Free printable!

I even made a tag (free printable!) for you to tie on so this treat is as adorable as it is easy to make.

Let’s make something sweet!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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Cutest, Easiest DIY: Make these Kid-Size Paper Pom Poms for Game Day!

By Gabrielle. Photos & styling by Amy Christie.

TWO! FOUR! SIX! EIGHT! WHO DO WE APPRECIATE?!!

Over the holidays, Amy Christie sent me the sweetest little care package, and instead of using packing peanuts to cushion the goodies in the box, she used homemade kid-size pom poms instead. Such a fantastic idea! My 3 youngest went nuts for them immediately. Cheers were chanted. High kicks were attempted. Imaginary teams rallied for the win!

My kids loved the little pom poms so much, that I begged Amy for instructions so I could make some more. My kids played with them for hours and hours that first day, and the pom poms practically disintegrated. : ) I thought you might like to make some for your kids as well. And if you’re hosting a Superbowl party this year, these would make a fun addition to the gathering.

So Amy whipped up a quick DIY. Made with tissue paper and a line of stitching, these pom poms are one of the simplest projects I’ve shared here. They might be made with children in mind but I dare you not to smile while you shake them.

Cutest, Easiest DIY: Make these Kid-Size Paper Pom Poms for Game Day!

The good thing is, you probably already have tissue paper — which is the key supply for this project — in the house. In fact, if you aren’t particular about team colors, then any color will do (rainbow ones would be fantastic!). Scissors and either a sewing machine, thread and needle, or stapler round out your supplies.

Cutest, Easiest DIY: Make these Kid-Size Paper Pom Poms for Game Day!

Ready to make something super easy? Let’s go!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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DIY: Lacey Clay Containers

January 14, 2015

Gorgeous DIY containers with lace imprints. Made with air-dry clay they are easy as can be!  |  Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos & styling by Amy Christie.

I could tell you that this project came about because I wanted to organize my makeup drawer (and I do need to organize that drawer), but the truth is, I got the idea to imprint lace into clay, and wanted good excuse to try it. Hah!

A few months ago, I came across a plate that had a crocheted doily imprinted onto it, and I wondered if lace would work just as well. So I combined some lace samples from the fabric store with air-dry clay, and tada!, now I have the cutest little set of containers in world. I’m using them here for makeup brushes, cotton balls, and jewelry, but I’m sure they would work fabulously on a desk as well.

Gorgeous DIY containers with lace imprints. Made with air-dry clay they are easy as can be!  |  Design Mom

Air-dry clay is so easy to work with. Just sculpt and allow to fully dry. It is easy to manipulate and holds texture well. Oh. And did you know air-dry clay can be tinted any color you like? I’m kind of into the ceramic look of the plain white, but if you’re craving color, the skies the limit with this project.

Gorgeous DIY containers with lace imprints. Made with air-dry clay they are easy as can be!  |  Design Mom

Let’s begin!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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Olive Us: Cracks

January 12, 2015

By Gabrielle.

I guarantee you will LOVE this month’s new Olive Us episode. It’s sure to capture your child’s imagination — and your imagination too! After you watch it, I hope you and your kids will picture the world a little differently next to time you take a walk together through your neighborhood — or even across a parking lot!

Olive Us - Cracks - Behind the Scenes

We first showcased this episode in the Olive Us newsletter last week and it’s getting shared like crazy. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it. Enjoy!

P.S. — Fun fact, since Olive Us launched, we’ve made 46 episodes total. You can find them all here. Subscribe to the newsletter to be the first to see upcoming episodes!

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DIY: Wooden Peg Doll Ornaments

December 10, 2014

DIY: Wooden Peg Doll Ornaments — make a whole family!

By Gabrielle. Image by Amy Christie.

I’ve got the cutest DIY I just shared over on Babble. Use wooden peg dolls to make a little family of ornaments that looks just like yours! I kept the patterns really simple — so even non-crafters can handle this project. Wouldn’t they make a cute gift for a family you know?

Find the full tutorial here.

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Animal Puppets from Playful - a book of creative projects for kids by Merrilee Liddiard

By Gabrielle. Images by Nicole Hill Gerulat for Playful.

I’ve got such a sweet little project for you and your kids today. It’s an Elephant! The most charming paper elephant you’ve ever seen. And it’s one of the many adorable projects in the Merrilee Liddiard’s fantastic new book, Playful. You can find the full instructions, plus a free downloadable template below.

Playful - a book of creative projects for kids by Merrilee Liddiard

Have you seen the book? Everything about it is scrumptious. Every project, every photo, all the little details. Buy it so you can make fun, imaginative, totally do-able projects with your kids. And buy it because the attention to detail will inspire you!

I’m a huge fan of Merrilee. Such a fan that I sought her out to work on our Olive Us movie titles and illustrations (see examples here and here). She’s endlessly creative and her ideas spark more creativity in everyone around her.

Animal Puppets from Playful - a book of creative projects for kids by Merrilee Liddiard

This simple elephant would be terrific to make with your kids. Hang it on the wall, add sticks to make it a puppet. Or make tiny ones as cupcake toppers. Yay!

Click here for the full tutorial and downloadable template.

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Kiwi Crate

September 4, 2014

Kiwi Crate14

Images and text by Gabrielle. // This post is brought to you by Kiwi Crate.

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I first heard about Kiwi Crate a year ago, but I didn’t actually try one till this week. I wasn’t sure what to expect (would my kids care? would they be too old for it?) but Oscar, Betty & June spent the afternoon with the box of activities and LOVED it. (As a sidenote, the funniest part was when Betty accidentally made a puppet that looks like an evil dictator. See below).

The 411 on Kiwi Crate is that it’s an award-winning, monthly subscription service for kids. Each crate includes 2-3 hands-on projects — they cover things like art, science, games, and imaginative play. There’s a new theme each month, and the box also includes Kiwi Crate’s explore! magazine, which features bonus activities and kid-friendly recipes.

Kiwi Crate01

One thing I appreciate is that the activities are legit — before they send out anything, Kiwi Crate tests the projects with a crew of kids to make sure everything is developmentally appropriate, enriching, engaging, fun, and universally appealing. To get an idea of what they offer, you can see their most popular crates here. And best of all, if you’d like to try it, you can save 25% on your first month subscription with code DM25.

Kiwi Crate12

My main takeaways are 1) This is genius for tiny apartment dwellers. 2) This is genius for any parent who isn’t artsy/craftsy. 3) This is genius for parents who feel like their schedule is too full to run extra errands (that’s me.). 4) It’s also hugely appealing to me because there is nothing to store or use up when you’re done. It’s exactly what you need for the projects. Nothing more, nothing less.

Kiwi Crate07

I wrote up some notes about our experience with Kiwi Crate below in case you’re curious about how your own kids might react, or how different aged kids might respond. I hope it’s helpful!

Click here if you’re curious about the evil dictator puppet. Hah!

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DIY: Cereal Box Embossing

August 27, 2014

DIY Cereal Box Embossing - Customize all your school supplies!  |  Design Mom

cheerios boxBy Gabrielle. Photos & styling by Amy Christie.  //  This post is brought to you by Cheerios — makers of wholesome, sustainable products that families love!

 

 

When I was in fifth grade, my name written in bubble letters was how I personalized my notebooks. When I was in high school, I covered my textbooks in plain paper and filled them in with doodles — favorite band names and not-so-secret crushes. At the start of the school year, the clean surfaces of brand new school supplies offer such an inviting blank slate. For a sleek, modern twist on notebook personalization, I thought creating a DIY embossing plate from recycled cardboard would be a lovely way to add your mark to your school supplies.

DIY Cereal Box Embossing - Customize all your school supplies!  |  Design Mom

This idea came from a challenge I received from the good people at Cheerios. Cheerios has long had a focus on sustainability. Some of the sustainable features are straightforward — for example, their boxes are made from 100% recycled materials — and have been since the 1930′s!

Other sustainable features I had no idea about, but am impressed by. For example, their Minnesota milling plant uses a bio-mass burner that burns the oat hulls and creates the energy needed to run the whole plant. Then, the ashes from the hulls are returned to the oat farmers. Then, the farmers use the ashes to fertilize their crops. Circle of life! You can see more about their efficiency and sustainability on their website, or check out the graphic I included at the bottom of the post.

So their challenge to me was to create a project that uses their recycled cardboard cereal boxes — something most families have on hand at any given moment. I love a good challenge, and since we’re in the middle of back-to-school season, I immediately thought of this cardboard embossing technique and how it might relate to school supplies.

DIY Cereal Box Embossing - Customize all your school supplies!  |  Design MomDSC_0625-1

Making your own embossing plate out of cereal boxes offers so much variation and freedom. The sky is the limit on shapes and initials. And once the plate is made, you can emboss to your heart’s content — the cardboard form will last a long time!

DIY Cereal Box Embossing - Customize all your school supplies!  |  Design Mom

I did a lot of experimenting to figure out best practices and have detailed them all in the tutorial below. Chances are you have everything you need in your home already  — just pull that Cheerios box out of your recycling bin and let’s get started!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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DIY: Cement Pencil Holder

August 25, 2014

DIY: Cement Desk Organizer and Pencil Holder   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie. // This post is brought to you by Office Depot. #TeachersChangeLives and so can you! Go here to find out more.

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It’s official: a new school year is upon us! And like many kids, my children have the itch to make something for their new teachers. A drawing, a little piece of origami, a sweet note. Of course, I always wonder if there’s something we can add, something to go along with the little note or drawing, that their teacher will find useful. A gift card so that their teachers can buy supplies for the classroom is always helpful, but if you’re in the making sort of mood (I am!), I thought this cement desk organizer fits the bill very nicely.

DIY: Cement Desk Organizer and Pencil Holder   |   Design Mom

The project incorporates two of my favorite things — fresh school supplies, and cement. Best of all, it’s not just for pens and pencils. This handsome + utilitarian item can be designed to hold any number and any size of desk accessories. The style and layout is all up to you!

DIY: Cement Desk Organizer and Pencil Holder   |   Design Mom

Don’t be anxious about working with cement for this project. Yes, it requires concentration and muscle (which surely you have in spades), and an odd combination of working fast and waiting. But the end product is worth it. These heavy duty holders would look handsome on any desk!

DIY: Cement Desk Organizer and Pencil Holder   |   Design Mom

Plus, there are lots of ways to include the kids on this project, from gathering supplies, to stirring cement, to decorating the dried organizer with Sharpies (we used silver).

Ready to get to work? Let’s go.

Click here for the full tutorial.

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DIY Snack-time Placemats - Free Printable!   |   Design Mom

Photos and text by Gabrielle. // This post is brought to you by Blue Diamond Almonds.

BD Almonds Logo

It’s Back to School season! I love this time of year — really, I love anything that gives a feeling of fresh-starts and new chances and do-overs. One of the things I want to refresh as we head into fall is our snacks. Last school year we made great progress on cutting crappy food from our diet. But our efforts seemed to evaporate as summer came on. Popsicles and ice cold soda and ice cream sandwiches are hard to resist!

DIY Snack-time Placemats - Free Printable!   |   Design MomDIY Snack-time Placemats - Free Printable!   |   Design Mom

There’s no time like the present to reintroduce healthier snacks. Of course, I could just serve them up as is (and probably will on many days), but I thought it would be a fun option to make our after-school snack times a little more playful. So, I drew up some simple illustrations and had them laminated as placemats. A fox, a cat, a man and a woman.

Click here for the full post and free printable!

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Old Navy + PS I Love You01

Images and text by Gabrielle. // This post is brought to you by Old Navy + P.S. I Made This. Dream big and customize your clothes to match your dreams! #PSxOldNavy

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[ Update: the original post included an announcement about in-store events at Old Navy. Total bummer, but the events were cancelled. Sad face. Still want to get in on the clothes personalization action? Check out P.S. I Made This for the coolest ideas. ]

This is so fun! My friend Erica created P.S. I Made This — the popular blog full of DIY and craft ideas. I first met Erica when we were on a panel together at an American Made event. Then, we both worked on a holiday event last fall. And then, I invited her to come Alt Summit in January. Erica is talented and smart and brings the best kind of enthusiasm to everything she does. Her latest project? She teamed up with Old Navy to encourage kids to personalize their back-to-school clothes!

Old Navy + PS I Love You02

To show you what it’s all about, P.S. I Made This & Old Navy sent clothes for the kids plus a box of craft supplies.

Old Navy + PS I Love You03Old Navy + PS I Love You04

The craft box was jam packed with materials — stencils, sequins, paints, iron-on letters, gems, ribbon, fabric glue, a tie dye kit, and on and on. So we went to the park and got our craft on!

Old Navy + PS I Love You20Old Navy + PS I Love You19

Olive bedazzled a dress for June.

Old Navy + PS I Love You05Old Navy + PS I Love You07

Oscar added “Oakland” to the side of a shirt.

Old Navy + PS I Love You14Old Navy + PS I Love You15Old Navy + PS I Love You16

Betty thought about ribbons and sequins and tassels.

Old Navy + PS I Love You10Old Navy + PS I Love You11Old Navy + PS I Love You18

Ralph tie-dyed a white polo in orange and red.

Old Navy + PS I Love You08Old Navy + PS I Love You09

Maude stenciled the back pockets of a pair of jeans.

Old Navy + PS I Love You22Old Navy + PS I Love You17

And painted an ombre shirt with June as well.

Old Navy + PS I Love You12Old Navy + PS I Love You21

Pockets and cuffs were embellished. Messes were made. Clothes were personalized. Fun was had by all!

Want to get in on the action? Your kids can find instructions, and inspiration videos to customize their own kids from Erica and P.S. I Made This team. Now tell me, Friends, do you ever get an urge to personalize your clothes? Maude cut up a basic tee during Girls Camp and it looks awesome. Between that and the new season of Project Runway, we’re kind of on a clothes personalization kick. : )

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DIY: Leather Earrings

July 2, 2014

DIY: Tiny Leather Earrings. Easy and Inexpensive and Cute!   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.

Have you seen the new trend in tiny leather earrings? I’m loving it. So I thought it would be fun to create my own — for myself and as gifts. I love the natural texture of the leather and the soft pop of color.

DIY: Tiny Leather Earrings. Easy and Inexpensive and Cute!   |   Design Mom

Leather is an easy material to work with. It’s soft, but keeps its shape. It doesn’t fray or wrinkle (unless you really, really want it to) and the texture and color options are endless.

I tried a ton of variations and always concluded that simple is better for this particular look.

DIY: Tiny Leather Earrings. Easy and Inexpensive and Cute!   |   Design Mom

With a few bucks and very little time, you can make yourself a whole new batch of accessories. They’re so simple and easy to make it’s barely a tutorial!

DIY: Tiny Leather Earrings. Easy and Inexpensive and Cute!   |   Design Mom

Come and check out this easy, satisfying project!!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

Images and text by Gabrielle. This post brought to you by Quaker Chewy — they’re all about fueling backyard fun. In fact, they’re offering free Nerf toys! Details at bottom.

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Last week, I told you about the Welcome to Summer party we organized with Liz and Jordan — we had the cousins over for a fun afternoon in the sun to mark the end of the school year. Each family handled two activities, which made for a full, happy, party agenda and eliminated any chance of boredom. Hah! It turned out to be a really memorable event, and I’m sure the kids will continue to talk about it for weeks and years to come.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

I was in charge of Lemonade Toasts and Sun-dye Prints. I’m excited to tell you all about the Sun-Dye process today! Liz and Jordan are writing about their activities too — a Bubble Relay Race, and a Giant Water Balloon Slingshot.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

Let me start by telling you I’m kind of obsessed with sun-dyes. They are super cool and feel a little magical. Essentially, they are dyes that are colorless when you apply them, but turn vibrant colors when exposed to sunlight. My mom introduced sun-dyes to me when I was in college and I’ve been going through sun-dye phases ever since.

For this activity, we decided to dye bandanas. I couldn’t actually find plain white bandanas, so we used square cotton dishcloths instead. They’re a generous size and work as head wraps, capes, or can even be tied around the waists of little ones as a beach/pool coverup.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

The only brand of sun-dye that I’m aware of is called Inkodye. It doesn’t come in a ton of colors, but you could do a little color-mixing if you want to expand the palette. The main trick with sun-dye is you need both a low-light area and a sunny area to work in. The dye will start exposing as soon as there’s even a hint of sunlight, so you want to apply the ink, and add any objects that you want to use to block the sunlight, in low light.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

Adding objects creates a pattern — we used plants, leaves, even clothespins. Pretty much any opaque object could work. In fact, Jordan told me about a friend who painted a duvet cover with Inkodye, then took a nap on it in the sun, and when she woke up, the imprint of her body was on the duvet. So cool!

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

One of the nice things about this activity is that there is some downtime. After bubble relays and water balloon sling shots, the kids could sit and relax and have a snack while the sun did its work.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

One note: I would recommend having extra dyeable items on hand, because the process is super fun! And you’ll definitely want to dye more than one item. : )

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

I love this project! Even if your kids aren’t artsy, they’ll get a kick out of seeing the colors appear in the sunlight. And it’s pretty much no fail — no matter what objects you add, or even if you add none-at-all, the bandana is going to look fantastic.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

Tell me, Friends. Have you ever tried sun-dyes? Is your imagination running with objects you could use to create patterns? (Me too!)

quaker-chewy
Thanks to Quaker Chewy for sponsoring our Welcome to Summer Party and fueling backyard fun! Quaker Chewy gives kids the energy they need to play. That’s why Quaker and NERF are teaming up to fuel backyard fun, helping families get active together, right in their own backyard. When you buy three specially-marked boxes of Quaker Chewy, you can enter the codes online at http://fuelfun.quakeroats.com to get a free Nerf sports item.

Click here for more DIY notes and instructions.

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Start the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design MomStart the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design Mom

Images and text by Gabrielle. This post brought to you by Quaker Chewy — they’re all about fueling backyard fun. In fact, they’re offering free Nerf toys! Details at bottom.

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Have you ever thrown a party at the end of the school year? We like to mark the change in weather with an outing or a get together. This year, we had the cousins over for a Welcome to Summer party. Jordan, Liz and I divided up the activities and turned a regular old Sunday afternoon into an epic event! There was lots of laughing, lots of mess, and everyone ended the day with big grins plastered across our faces.

I was in charge of Lemonade Toasts and Sun-dye Prints. I’ll tell you all about one activity today and another next week, in case you’d like try them out at your own parties this summer. Liz and Jordan are writing about their activities too — Fruit Kabob Sundaes and a Giant Color Fight!

Start the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design MomStart the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design Mom

Lemonade Toasts was Ben Blair’s brilliant idea. It’s simple, adorable, and was a great way to start the party and get people thinking about how much good stuff there is to look forward to in the summer.

Start the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design MomStart the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design MomStart the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design Mom

We printed out a basic prompt on cardstock and cut it into strips. Then the kids filled out the strips. The wording of the prompt is: This summer, I want to ________. Here’s to ______ and ______!

The kids filled them in with things like: This summer I want to go to the beach. Here’s to surfing and sand! Or, This summer I want to read 50 books. Here’s to free time and no school!

Start the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design MomStart the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design MomStart the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design MomStart the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design Mom

Then, they took turns standing on a crate and reading their toasts to the whole family — with a fancy glass of lemonade in hand!

Start the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design MomStart the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design Mom

Things that are awesome about this activity:

1) It couldn’t be easier.

Start the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design Mom

2) The kids LOVED it. It gave each child a chance to be in the spotlight. Each child could think about what they wanted to say, and each one received a round of applause when they were done. It feels good to be heard and acknowledged!

Start the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design MomStart the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design Mom

3) Sometimes, kids doing grownup things (like toasts) is the cutest thing ever. Seeing their faces get serious, so they could concentrate and read the words correctly, then clinking their glasses of lemonade with their cousins, was as charming as can be.

Start the summer off right with Lemonade Toasts! A great party activity where every kid gets a chance to shine.  |  Design Mom

4) It’s nice to find out what they’re looking forward to most about the summer!

I highly recommend this activity. Five stars! It really was a wonderful way to kick off the gathering, and was as fun for the grownups to watch as it was for the kids to participate.

Tell me, Friends. Anything fun you’re doing (or you did) to welcome summer vacation?

quaker-chewy
P.S. — Thanks to Quaker Chewy for sponsoring our Welcome to Summer Party and fueling backyard fun! Quaker Chewy gives kids the energy they need to play. That’s why Quaker and NERF are teaming up to fuel backyard fun, helping families get active together, right in their own backyard. When you buy three specially-marked boxes of Quaker Chewy, you can enter the codes online at http://fuelfun.quakeroats.com to get a free Nerf sports item.

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DIY: Vintage Classroom-Style Posters. Better than a crummy frame!  |  Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.

Remember the boys’ bedroom? To encourage Oscar’s love of marine biology, I hung posters of shark diagrams and catalogues. But instead of framing them, I turned them into old-school classroom-style, pull-down posters. I was so pleased with how they turned out, I promised to whip up a tutorial, and (hooray!) it’s ready to go.

DIY: Vintage Classroom-Style Posters. Better than a crummy frame!  |  Design Mom

There are a few reasons why I’m so pleased with this solution. 1) It’s inexpensive — far cheaper than framing a poster. 2) It’s easy to do and not-intimidating. 3) It looks great — and adds some fun texture to a wall. 4) It’s an appropriate solution for an inexpensive poster or a temporary hobby/interest.

With kids, sometimes their interests change from month to month. In June they love the Olympics, and in July they love antique cars. As parents, you want to encourage their interests, and hang up the latest poster they bring home, but it can be hard to invest in expensive artwork or frames, knowing that their interests will likely change sooner than later.

So for me, this is an ideal solution. It makes the poster look great on the wall, but isn’t a big investment of time or money. If Oscar’s passion for marine biology continues, the posters will continue to look good, but if he decides he’s into something else, it won’t feel like a big sacrifice to say goodbye to the shark posters. Does that make sense? : )

DIY: Vintage Classroom-Style Posters. Better than a crummy frame!  |  Design Mom

I think vintage-style posters work best for this project, because we’re going for a look that is similar to the old pull-down posters used in classrooms. Those posters are what inspired this project in the first place. Anything that has diagrams or notes, or looks like it could appear in a textbook, would work for this. Botanical prints. Biology drawings. Old maps. Stuff like that.

DIY: Vintage Classroom-Style Posters. Better than a crummy frame!  |  Design Mom

And the how-to process is as simple as can be. Once it is put together, it can go on the wall immediately. No waiting.

DIY: Vintage Classroom-Style Posters. Better than a crummy frame!  |  Design Mom

Ready to get started?

Click here for the full tutorial.

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#DIY Wooden Postcards with Photo Transfers   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Amy Christie.

When I was in 6th grade, I got to take a trip to Hawaii with my dance group (it was called the Super Steppers, in case you’re curious). One of the main things everyone told me I must do in Hawaii is mail home a coconut in its husk. No box. No padding. Just write the address on the coconut with a marker and slap on the stamps. Of course, to my 11-year-old ears, this sounded like the coolest thing a person could possibly do. There’s something so fun and funny about getting a non-standard letter or package in the mail!

These postcards are admittedly not as extreme as a coconut. But. They are made of wood! And they are awesome to find tucked in between the bills and junk mail! I’m a huge fan of photo transfers — they’re practically magic. And I thought image transfers + wooden postcards sounded like the perfect storm of fun, useable, good-looking projects.

To up the charm even more, I used historical images from New York City (available here), and I love how they turned out so much!

#DIY Wooden Postcards with Photo Transfers   |   Design Mom

I should note from the beginning, these handmade wooden post cards are not the same as paper post cards. Due to their width and weight, they are priced similar to a large envelope or a ‘flat’. But they’re worth the extra stamp — their unique, one-of-a-kind quality makes this snail mail more like art work.

#DIY Wooden Postcards with Photo Transfers   |   Design Mom

It takes some work and patience but the outcome is definitely worth it!

#DIY Wooden Postcards with Photo Transfers   |   Design Mom

On to the postcard how-to!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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Family Portrait in Swings   |   Design Mom

Text and how-to images by Gabrielle. Family portraits by Sarah of Modern Kids. | This post is brought to you by Lowe’s Home Improvement — they have everything you need to tackle your own weekend projects, just in time for Memorial Day!  #springiscalling

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There are 3 reasons I’m super excited to share this project with you. 1) It’s awesome! I thought of it last fall, and the whole idea still makes me grin. 2) I’ve been sharing behind the scenes peeks on the Lowe’s Instagram stream for the last few days and it’s fun to get to finally share the finished photos. And 3) We haven’t had family photos taken since the Vintage Car photo shoot in France — 3 Christmases ago! We were long overdue and this was a great excuse/opportunity.

Sarah of Modern Kids did the portraits. She also did our French Greys portraits back in the day. She lives here in the Bay Area and it’s been wonderful to be able to work with her again!

Blair Family Portrait in Swings   |   Betty Family Portrait in Swings   |   Design Mom

The idea for The Family Swing Project came to me last fall. We had just started to get to know our yard, and Ben Blair pointed out how pretty the view of the stream was from under this particular tree. He mentioned we should hang a swing so someone could relax and take in the view.

I loved that idea and looked up to consider where a swing should go. And when I looked up, it hit me that there were a ton of options — ten or more branches growing horizontally.

There was a lightbulb moment and all of a sudden I could picture our whole family spending a warm, lazy evening under the tree — each child in their own swing, and Ben Blair and I sharing a bench swing. We could sway and chat and listen to the stream, and just be together.

Blair Family Portrait in Swings   |   OscarFamily Portrait in Swings   |   Design Mom

This vision has been stuck in my head for all these months, and this last weekend, we decided to bring the vision to life!

Ben Blair was the how-to master mind. He figured out how to build the swings and get them to swing properly. I’ve included a complete photo tutorial when you click through, so you can see what he came up with (and in case you’d like to build your own swings!).

Blair Family Portrait in Swings   |   RalphFamily Portrait in Swings   |   Design Mom

They’ve only been hanging for a few days so far, but they are already a major draw for the kids, for their friends and for the cousins. It’s easy to see they are going to provide hours of entertainment, and a bucket full of memories for our family.

Blair Family Portrait in Swings   |   MaudeFamily Portrait in Swings   |   Design MomBlair Family Portrait in Swings   |   Flora JuneFamily Portrait in Swings   |   Design Mom

We hung the swings at different heights — one particularly low swing was hung especially for June. And all but two hang from their own branch. The bench hangs from the sturdiest branch and we tried to sort of center it — with the other swings hanging around it.

The project turned out wonderfully, and it feels good to have made a bit more progress in the yard. I already said this, but the whole thing still makes me grin!

Blair Family Portrait in Swings   |   OliveFamily Portrait in Swings   |   Design MomFamily Portrait in Swings   |   Design Mom

Man oh man, I like those kids.

Would you like to learn how we built the swings? Keep reading.

Click here for the full tutorial.

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Craft Books09

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Another pretty craft book I wanted to tell you about. This one is by Petit Collage and it’s filled with happy projects for the home. So many cute ideas! I love the menu chart and the chalk family tree.

Craft Books11Craft Books12

I’m a huge fan of the creator, Lorena Siminovich, and the whole line of Petit Collage products. I think Lorena is a creative genius — and I love watching her as a businesswoman as well!

When I first came across Petit Collage, it was a tiny online shop with a handful of sweet art prints. Now the line includes games, wall decals, mobiles, toys, prints, and the book! And each item is beautiful and made with attention to details and quality — the focus on design is so appealing to me! Plus, Lorena is a parent and creates her products with real kids and real families in mind — and yes, real kids really love them!

Is there a company out there you feel connected to that you’ve watched grow and thrive? It’s fun to witness!

Craft Books13

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Painted Boxes

May 8, 2014

DIY: Pretty Painted Pencil Boxes. Good looking on your desk, and they make a great gift!   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos and Styling by Amy Christie

Sometimes, I’m just in the mood to make something, so I come up with a project just because. This is one of those projects. Happily, this project happens to be stunning, and would make an excellent gift!

The boxes themselves are pretty fantastic, but fill them with some poppy pencils or note cards, and they’re even better. Make one for your mother. For your child’s teacher. For your best friend. Or just keep one on your own desk — they’re so pretty, they’re hard to part with.

DIY: Pretty Painted Pencil Boxes. Good looking on your desk, and they make a great gift!   |   Design Mom

I wish you could all come to my house to see these because, believe it or not, they are even more beautiful in person. I was even surprised at how lovely they turned out to be. And the how-to is so simple!

DIY: Pretty Painted Pencil Boxes. Good looking on your desk, and they make a great gift!   |   Design Mom

With a little tape and your favorite color scheme, you’re set to begin making beautiful designs.

DIY: Pretty Painted Pencil Boxes. Good looking on your desk, and they make a great gift!   |   Design Mom

Come see this simple project unfold!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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