Category Archives: DIY

Wooden Puzzle Storage from the Dollar Store

Did your child get wooden puzzles this holiday season, and you’re wondering how to store them? If so, you are in the right place.

Buddy got some wooden puzzles for his first birthday, and I wasn’t sure how to store them. The puzzle racks are kind of expensive and take up a lot of space. They also didn’t fit the Melissa and Doug Chunky Puzzles, which we have. So I went looking for alternative puzzle storage solutions. I saw the idea for using plastic envelopes from the dollar store on Ally’s Helpful Hints for Mommies’ Blog. These large envelopes are packaged three for a dollar, and they are the perfect for wooden puzzles!

The regular peg puzzles fit perfectly into these envelopes without any adjustments needed. 

The chunky puzzles fit in the envelopes, but they were too big to close with the snap provided. I used two Velcro dots to fasten the envelope at the right place. I store these puzzles on their edges lined up like books in Buddy’s closet. They take up little space when placed vertically, and all of the pieces stay together in the envelope. I can’t take the credit for coming up with this idea, but I hope my sharing it has been helpful for you.

DIY Salt Dough Ornaments

Salt dough ornaments have always had a soft spot in my heart. When my parents were first married, they couldn’t afford to buy ornaments, so they made a bunch out of salt dough. As a result, our tree always had a ton of salt dough ornaments. If preserved well, they can last forever. I still have the one they made for me the year I was born.

When Buddy was born, I knew that salt dough ornaments would be a good gift to make for family members. We have made them for his first two Christmases. The first year, we did Christmas tree fingerprint ones and a couple Santa handprint ones. Last year, we did Santa handprint ones for everyone.

The recipe for salt dough is very easy: 2 parts salt, 2 parts flour, 1 part water. I think both years I did 1 cup salt, 1 cup flour, and 1/2 cup water.

When you roll it out, you will either need to flour the surface or put it on wax paper. I usually flour the surface and my rolling pin as well. Once you have a flat surface, you are ready to start cutting out the ornaments. After the ornaments are made, they bake at 200 degrees for 3 hours (or until they look completely dry). They will need to cool before painting.

Fingerprint Christmas Trees

For the trees, I used a cookie cutter to form the outline. I put them onto a cookie sheet, and I used a straw to cut out a small hole at the top for the ribbon. Then, I had Buddy put his fingers all over them to form the lights.

Once the ornaments were baked, I painted the green background first with a glittery paint. Then I did different colors for the lights. Once that was dried, I used a silver paint pen to connect the lights. After everything was dry, I sealed it with two coats of Mod Podge. I finished by writing Buddy’s name and the year on the back. Then I added ribbon to the top.

Handprint Santas

For the Santas, I rolled out the dough, and then had Buddy stick his hand in it. It was tough to get it in enough to leave a print, but not too much so that it would break the dough. Whenever I got a good one, I used a butter knife to outline the handprint, and then used a spatula to put it on the cookie sheet. I used a straw again to make a hole for the string.

Once the Santas were baked, I used a black paint pen to outline the edges of the beard and the bottom of the hat. Then I filled in the beard and hat with the red and white paint. At the end, I added the eyes and nose. I used two coats of Mod Podge to seal the ornaments after they were finished.  Once again, I wrote Buddy’s name and the year on the back of the ornaments. Then I added ribbon to the top.

I always make extras, because sometimes salt dough ornaments break. Also, sometimes the painting or finish of the dough doesn’t look the best every time you do it. (Although if you are very artistic, maybe you don’t have that same problem that I do.)

Salt dough ornaments are a fun and easy way to decorate your tree. I was amazed at the difference in Buddy’s handprints between his first and second Christmas, and I’m so glad I have them to keep forever. My dad cherishes these homemade ornaments so much he leaves them out year round.

I hope you enjoy your salt dough ornaments as much as I have. If you have any other great ornament ideas for kids, please share. I still haven’t finalized our plans for this year yet!


DIY Puppy Costume

I have always been a fan of homemade costumes. No one else has a costume just like yours, and you can make it to look exactly like you wanted it to. My mom always made our Halloween costumes every year. She loved to sew, and she put a lot of effort into our costumes. My favorite was a Snow White costume with puffed sleeves. And my sister’s homemade Glinda costume won her the best costume contest in 8th grade.

Me at age 5 in my Snow White costume.

While I don’t have the same high level of sewing skills as my mom, I do still enjoy using my sewing machine. Buddy really wanted to be a puppy, so I wanted to make an easy DIY puppy costume for him. I started by buying a sweat pant suit and some white fake fur. Buddy and I went fabric shopping together, and we both fell in love with the fake fur. I thought it would make the costume extra special and fun. It was a huge mess though, so if I were to do it over, I would use fleece or felt instead.

I used printer paper to sketch out a pattern for the ears and belly circle. I used the same pattern for both sides to make it symmetrical. To make sure it didn’t slip, I pinned the paper to the fabric before I cut it. Hubby thought my original ears were too short, so I used one folded over to make the tail.

I used my sewing machine to sew the ears, belly, and tail onto the hoodie. Since I want Buddy to use the pants again, I left them plain. (I did have to hem them though!)  It wasn’t too hard to sew through the fake fur, but it dulled and eventually broke my needle. I sewed the ear on the underside, and the belly and tail through the furry side.

The final costume, and the only picture where you can see the tail.

Aside from the huge, furry mess, I was pretty happy with the costume. Then, we went to a Halloween party and everyone thought he was a bunny. Buddy was happy with that, but I wasn’t.

Buddy in his costume for the first time.

I trimmed the ears a bit to make them look a little less like bunny ears. Also, I made a collar by sewing a circle of felt onto ribbon. I attached it in the back with Velcro. Those two details made a huge difference, and at our next Halloween event, everyone knew he was a puppy.

I had originally hoped that Buddy would be able to keep his hoodie for dress up, but there’s no way that will happen with the fake fur. I plan to take the fur off, and redo the hoodie as a dinosaur. In my ideal world, I will be able to do that in time to make it a Christmas gift, but we’ll see if that actually happens. Whenever it does, I’ll make sure to blog about it.

I’m looking forward to trick or treating with Buddy tomorrow. I hope you and your family have a very happy Halloween!




Toddler Quiet Book Pages

Last year, I created a quiet book for our family trip to Utah and California. (Read more about it here.) I was really happy with how it turned out. Since then, I’ve brought the quiet book with us to sporting events, plane trips, and road trips. It’s a great way to keep Buddy entertained on the go.

This summer, I decided I wanted to make a couple more pages for the quiet book. Now that Buddy is two, he can do more challenging quiet book activities. I chose two different designs to create.

For this shapes page, I used some large buttons that I had lying around the house. I traced them with chalk and then outlined them with puffy paint. I used hot glue to attach velcro and ribbon to the buttons. Then, I cut out the pocket for the buttons and sewed it to the other end of the strings. Buddy is very into shapes and colors, and he enjoyed solving this puzzle.

Recently, Buddy has been interested in helping me buckle his car seat. I looked at a lot of different buckle quiet pages, and I came across this dog design that I loved. Buddy loves dogs, and I knew the buckle would be extra fun. I found a picture I liked online and used freezer paper to trace it and make a pattern. I sewed together the parts of the dog and used fabric glue to put down the ears. (The fake fur is a mess, but Buddy really liked it.) Then, I sewed the ribbon onto the buckle and the leash clasp. I also added velcro to a dog bone and the dog’s tongue. Buddy was really excited about the dog, but the buckle and leash were a little hard for him. I’m sure this will be a page he grows into and will entertain him as he gets older.

I’m really pleased with how these pages turned out! It was a lot of work to make them, but a lot of fun too. I hope Buddy continues to enjoy them for a long time.

DIY Rock Box

I am always looking for new, fun play spaces for Buddy. After seeing many great outdoor play areas on Pinterest, I wanted to make something similar. There is a small, unused garden bed next to our deck that seemed perfect. Originally, I wanted to make a sand box. However, I couldn’t find a way to cover it that seemed appealing. I didn’t want to look at a tarp, and a custom wood lid is too much work. Then I came across the idea of a rock box on Two Twenty One’s blog. I knew a rock box would be perfect. 

Hubby, Buddy, and I went to Home Depot together to buy rocks. I had planned to buy pea gravel and large river rocks. However, Hubby pointed out that it would be hard to pick the pea gravel out of the grass. When he mows the lawn, he needs to know it’s rock free. We ended up buying white marble chips and Mexican beach stones. Both of these are easy to see in the grass.

I scooped out the mulch and relocated it to another flower bed. Then, I got rid of the weeds. After I did that, it looked like this. I had a pretty butterfly that stopped to visit my flower bed. 

Next, I dug down a bit to get rid of the last mulch shards. It also gave me more space for the rocks. I laid down some landscaping fabric on the bed to block weeds. Then I poured the rocks on top. I sprayed the rocks with the hose to get rid of the dust.  I’m really happy with how the rock box turned out. To make it extra fun, I set out some construction trucks and sand toys in the rocks. Buddy was so excited when he saw it. After spending a week playing with his construction site sensory bin, he could finally play with real rocks! We’ve played with it several times since I made it, and it’s so much fun!




DIY Felt Road Mat

When I bought a train set for Buddy’s 2nd birthday, I knew I wanted keep it set up. If we had to set it up every time we wanted to play, it wouldn’t be played with often. We don’t have the space for a train table, so we decided to use our coffee table. We hardly ever use our living room, so it wasn’t hard for us to dedicate it to the trains.

Originally, we had cardboard under the train tracks to keep them from scratching the table. It wasn’t the most attractive solution, but it worked fine for us. The end of the school year was really busy, so upgrading the cardboard had to wait until summer break.

I bought green felt for the background and gray felt for some roads. I also used blue felt scraps from my quiet book. (Read about my quiet book here.) My original plan was to just have the green felt, but I eventually decided to add roads as well. Buddy’s train set came with many cars. When the cars and the trains are on the tracks, they are really full. It’s hard to push everything around. I hoped that roads would give the cars more places to drive and spread out. Plus, our set has a road crossing that would be much more fun with a road to drive on.

I put the felt on the table and traced the edge of the table with tailor’s chalk (affiliate link). Then I cut out the felt and ironed it.

After that, I put it on the table and put the tracks on top of it. I cut some gray and blue felt scraps and put them where I wanted them on the table. Then I used the chalk to sketch outlines of the road and water. Since we have a little bridge, it made sense to me to have that go over water. I also did some water on another part of the mat to add a little color. When I did the road, I made it the same width as the one on the road crossing.

Once everything was cut out, I used fabric glue to glue it to the green felt. Then I used puffy fabric paint to make the dashed line in the road. The hardest part of the whole process was keeping Buddy away from it while it dried! I’m really happy with the final product. Buddy loves his train table more than ever, and he plays with it every day.


DIY Portable Road Strips

Buddy and I started our summer break with a road trip to see my family. Before our trip, I looked for new toys to keep Buddy occupied at his Granddad’s house. I wanted to find or make things that were small enough to travel with us. Since Buddy loves cars and trains, I decided to make portable road strips.

To make the road strips, I cut strips of black felt that were 2.5 inches wide. I decided to make them this width in order to be wide enough for Buddy’s Smart Wheels Cars (affiliate link). Some of them are straight, and some have corners. I wanted a variety of road strips so Buddy could set up the road in many different ways. I used white puffy fabric paint to make a dashed line in the middle of each road strip. 

We played with the portable road strips several times on our trip. Every time, Buddy was really excited to see the road and help set it up. He figured out quickly how to fix it by patting it flat when it got scrunched up a little. 

Buddy also really enjoyed mixing up the layout of the road. He needed a little help to get everything put together, but he could do a lot of it himself. Buddy tried his road strips on both the floor and the couch. 

After awhile, Buddy wanted to put other things on the road besides his cars. He walked his stuffed bunny up and down the road. He also put some of his Melissa and Doug Alphabet Train Lacing Beads (affiliate link) on the road. 

This was such an easy DIY project. It took me less than 20 minutes to put together, and it kept Buddy entertained for a long time. I will definitely bring these road strips with us on future trips. I’m sure we’ll also play with them often at home.

My Quiet Book

We’re back home from our week long vacation, and now I finally have the time to blog about my big project. I made a quiet book for Buddy to play with on the plane. I found so many great ideas for quiet book pages on Pinterest, and I was able to come up with some of my own ideas as well.

Here is a quick overview of each of my pages. Please comment if you would like me to give more details on how I created each one.

Monster Peek a Boo Page

Monster peek a boo quiet book pageThis one I made up on my own. I saw two cute waving monster iron-on patches at Jo Ann Fabrics, and Buddy really liked them. They reminded me a little of the monsters from Monsters Inc., which made me think about putting them behind doors. One opens from the bottom, and one opens from the side. I used an embroidery stitch on my sewing machine to add some interest to each door. I ironed the monsters on the felt by putting a thin pressing cloth on top of the felt. I also used glittery fabric paint for the writing. Buddy enjoyed playing peek a boo with both monsters.


Jellyfish Page

Jellyfish counting quiet book page

There are a ton of pages similar to this one on Pinterest. I added a part of a cereal bag behind the jellyfish to make it crinkly. (I know it’s a quiet book, but Buddy loves things that make noise.) I used scotch tape to hold the jellyfish legs in place before I sewed them down. I used fabric glue to hold on the google eyes and puffy fabric paint for the smile and numbers. Buddy really enjoyed sliding the beads up and down each leg.

Wheels on the Bus Page

Wheels on the bus quiet book page

Buddy’s favorite song is Wheels on the Bus, and we have a pop up book of the song that he loves. He especially loves spinning the wheels in that book, but unfortunately they are paper, so they bend easily. I wanted to make a similar page in the quiet book that he wouldn’t be able to break. The wheels are  made of an extra firm felt. They are removable, and they can spin. The headlight is a button, and the rest of the bus was made using this pattern. Buddy enjoyed spinning the wheels, but not as much as he does in the book at home.

Who is in the Grass Page

Grass quiet book page
I saw a similar idea on Pinterest, but there wasn’t a pattern or template for it. I bought a bunch of cute buttons to go in the grass (bunnies, lady bugs, and ducks). I cut the grass in strips and sewed them on the background before I stitched the buttons in the grass. I used puffy paint for the writing. Buddy really likes this page, but he wants to pull the buttons off the page.

Dog Finger Puppets Page

Dog finger puppet quiet book pageI saw pages of farm animal finger puppets, and I realized how much Buddy would love puppets that were dogs. (He loves dogs!) I found a free template for the finger puppets here. I originally wanted to use my sewing machine to put the dogs together, but I found that hand stitching worked better. I used fabric glue to hold the fence together, and then I used my machine to sew the perimeter onto the background. This was Buddy’s favorite page by far. He loves those little dogs.

I put all of the pages on binder rings so that I can add to the book next summer (or whenever I find time to make more pages). For now, I’ll save this book for our trips or times when I need Buddy to be quiet and seated for awhile. It’s not perfect, but overall I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

Father’s Day DIY Photo Card

Since we are going to be traveling on Father’s Day, we celebrated Father’s Day a week early. I bought my husband a Father’s Day card from me, but I wanted Buddy to be able to give his dad a homemade card. There’s just something extra special about a homemade card, especially when it’s from a child.

I’m including a copy of our template in case you want to make your own Father’s Day photo card.

Dad photo card template

Here is what you’ll need:

  • A printed copy of our template
  • Two 8.5″ x 11″ pieces of cardstock
  • Three 4″ x 6″ photos
  • Scotch tape
  • Double sided tape
  • Scissors
  • Permanent marker
  • *Optional * – paint and paintbrush


  1. Print the template and cut it out.
  2. Trace the template on one piece of cardstock. (I did this with permanent marker.) Dad card trace template
  3. Cut out the design on the cardstock.
  4. Use scotch tape to tape the photos in place and trim to fit.
  5. Fold the second piece of cardstock in half vertically (hot dog style).
  6. Place the folded cardstock behind the DAD photo card. Line up the bottoms of both pieces of cardstock. Trace the DAD card on the folded card.
  7. Cut the folded card so that the extra parts of the card won’t show behind the DAD card.
  8. Use double sided tape to tape the DAD card to the folded cardstock.
  9. *Optional* Paint the child’s hand and put inside card. (I actually did this first before I folded and cut the cardstock, but if I did it again, I would do it last.)
  10. Use permanent marker to write a message inside card.

Here’s what the final product looked like:

Inside of card

Inside of card

Final card

Final card

I hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day celebrating the important fathers and father figures in your life. Hubby loved his card, and I hope your dad will too. If you make this card, I’d love to see a picture!