Craft #1: Thanksgivng Napkin Rings

Craft Name: Thanksgiving Napkin Rings

Difficulty Level: Easy

Materials Needed:

  • toilet paper or paper towel tubes
  • craft paint (optional)
  • foam paint brush
  • colored card stock
  • several small leaves (no larger than 2″ length dry, but not cracking)
  • Black or Brown magic marker
  • glue (hot glue preferably)
  • Mod Podge or see explanation below to make your own


  1. Cut each tube into 1.5″ sections.
  2. You can either leave them brown or paint the outside of each tube piece.  Different colors make a very festive table.  If you choose to paint them, let them dry completely.
  3. Trace each leaf on colored card stock.  You can either use the same leaf over and over or different leaves.  You may also choose to trace them in one color or variations.  You may also trace the stem or not–adding the stem adds character to each leaf, but if you plan to use them year after year, these tiny stems are the first thing to bend or tear!
  4. Using the magic marker, trace around the outside edge of each leaf.  Then, add the leaf veins. ***For a personalized table, write names on the leaves and use at each place setting as a name card (these can also be used yearly).  Or, write things to be thankful for on each leaf such as, “family,” “friends,” etc.  For a fun party game, see below.
  5. Hot glue one or two leaves to each tube section.
  6. Once glue is completely dry, paint over each leaf with Mod Podge to add stability and shine.  Let dry completely for several hours.
  7. Roll napkin and slide into tube section.


Mod Podge:

Mod Podge is a sealer within a glue used in decoupaging projects.  It comes in various strengths and finishes.  When applied in even coats, it will dry with a nice, gloss or matte finish (depending on which bottle you get).  I have only used the glossy finish.  More information, project ideas, and a chart about the different finishes offered can be found on the Plaid Mod Podge website

To make your own glossy finish Mod Podge, mix 3 parts white school glue with 1 part water.  Paint on with a foam brush in even coats.  Allow to dry completely before applying subsequent coats.




Napkin Ring Party Game:

Look up 2 bible verses about thankfulness that are about the same length.  Divide the leaf colors into teams.  One team can be all the yellow and red leaves and the other can be orange and brown.  Write one word on each leaf.  Teams must figure out their verse and stand with their leaves together to make up their bible verse.  You may help them out by giving them the reference & a bible to look it up. 

Variations on this game can be done by having teams put the words of thankfulness in alphabetical order or use a common poem or nursery rhyme.



50 Crafts in 50 Days

I love the holiday season! As far as I am concerned, it kicks off with the first colored leaf I find on my driveway (which this year happened to be September 19th–it was yellow). However, since most normal Americans aren’t ready to handle festivities that early, I have waited as long as I possibly can! I am going to burst with holiday cheer–and trust me, that probably won’t be pretty!

So here it is, I am aiming to give you instructions to 50 holiday crafts in 50 days! I will post as many pictures as I can. It’ll be a FUNTABULOUS 50 DAYS!!

Friday Funtivities: Texture Recipes!

In the last post, I talked about our Friday Funtivity of making Homemade Granola Bars.  Here is a follow-up.

If your child does not have a problem getting messy, you and your child could enjoy making:

  •  individual meat loaves in funny shapes (you will still want these shapes to be somewhat uniform in thickness so they will cook the same time!)  I like this recipe from Zonya Faco’s Lickety-Split Recipes
  • haystack cookies (I would love for someone to give me a tried and true recipe for this!)
  • sugar cookies (Wilton’s has a great no-chill recipe! Thanks, Kira at Kitchen Clutter for this one!)
  • pizza (fruit pizza on a sugar cookie, regular pizza on a pre-made or homemade crust, or ice cream pizza)
  • edible play dough (I have not tried these, but here are 10 recipe ideas for you!)  (***I will add a “disclaimer” to this that the reason I have NOT done edible play dough is simply that I don’t want to encourage or give the idea to my 2-year-old that it is okay to eat real Play-Doh!!)
  • bread–if you don’t have a bread machine (or if you just want to do it the old fashioned way from time to time!), most kids (perhaps even my anti-mess boy!) would LOVE to punch the dough down!!  You can also let them shape rolls or bread sticks for a family meal.
  • Puppy Chow (or Reindeer Chow makes a great gift!!)

What finger fun recipes do you make with your child?

Friday Funtivity: Homemade Granola Bars

My 2-year-old loves to cook! He especially loves to cook with mom or dad. He and I used to cook almost daily, but with the arrival of my second child, I don’t have as much time to make meals–and let’s just face it, things take almost twice as long when I have extra helping hands!

However, today his Preschool Playgroup was canceled, so Baby Z was able to get in an extra nap and R and I used that time to make homemade granola bars!  They weren’t perfect, but they were yummy–and even if they had tasted terrible, it was time spent with my son that I would have missed out on if I had insisted on making them myself.  Sometimes, you just have to use cooking as a craft!

Here are a few tips for craft-cooking with your kids!

  • Pick a recipe in which measurements don’t have to be exact.  If a child can put “scoops” instead of exact “cups,” his job (and yours) is much easier!
  • No-bake recipes are great for little helpers because they allow for instant gratification.
  • Recipes that don’t involve eggs allow for little fingers to taste-test without fear of sickness.  The idea of the project is not to continually say, “No, no! Don’t eat that!”
  • Know your child’s likes.  Some children have texture aversions (my child is one of them!) and don’t want to touch messy or wet ingredients.  While it might be a great cure to encourage him to mash the potatoes up with his hands, some kids would be terrified of doing this.  If your aim is for the child to enjoy the experience, offer the chance to get messy, but don’t force him.  You can always work on his idiosyncrasies later!  If your child does not mind getting his hands dirty, you can see the next post for some ideas and recipes!!
  • Recipes that call for expensive ingredients should be used with more experienced kids or “at your own risk!”  Many a dish in this house has been ruined by a heavy toddler hand or a slip of his wrist a little early landing sugar on the counter instead of the bowl!  We also look for recipes that don’t have many liquid ingredients.
  • Use a bigger bowl than you will need to allow for sloppy stirring (or “chopping” as my Jr. Chef likes to do).
  • “Stage” your cooking project.  This is especially important for younger children.  If you have everything ready, you save time which is helpful with a short attention span.  It also allows the child to feel completely involved since you aren’t constantly telling him he has to wait while you measure things out.  Think of a television cooking show–all of the ingredients are pre-measured in bowls or cups so the host just has to throw them into the bowl.  (In fact, a friend of mine lets her daughter play TV Cooking Host and they video tape her own little cooking show.  I am sure they will enjoy looking back on these in the future!!)
  • Do your prep-work!  This is similar to staging, but is important even for those who don’t need to stage because their children are big enough to measure most ingredients alone.  Prepping involves knowing what you are going to make, knowing you have all the ingredients, and knowing that all the tools you need are clean and ready for use.  In our house, I have regretted not doing my prep work before I tell my son we are going to cook!  Just this morning, we almost had to can the granola bars because I couldn’t find any vanilla in the house (thankfully, it just fell behind the spice rack).

What can you add to these tips?  I’d love to hear about your cooking crafts in the comments section!

Family Table: Twice Baked Potatoes

I made twice baked potatoes for the first time this weekend. The entire process left me thinking that it was not worth the extra effort and that there was no way this could taste that much better than a regular baked potato. But, I am happy to report that I was wrong! They were delicious!! I combined a few recipes. Here is how I made mine.


*3 large baking potatoes
*2 Tbls. purple onion, finely diced
*3 Tbls. butter
*1/4 cup milk
*Salt & pepper to taste
*Garlic powder to taste
*2 sliced bacon, cooked & chopped (or 2 Tbls. real bacon pieces)
* 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Wash each potato and rub the skin with a little bit of cooking oil or butter to keep it soft. Bake potatoes about 50 minutes. Cut each potato in half and scoop out the insides with an ice cream spoon. Put potato “meat” into a large bowl–save the skins!! Add the other ingredients and mash potatoes. I left my potatoes chunky but they can be beaten with a mixer to make smooth and creamy. Spoon potato mixture back into potato skins and bake again for 15 minutes.

A variation is to bake 1 extra potato and mash that one skin and all. This gives you pieces of skin and more “meat” in each potato skin. (Although, I would never serve these to my mother who thinks leaving skin in the mashed potatoes is a sign of laziness!) 🙂

What is your favorite variation on the classic baked tater??

MisAdventure’s Quick Quip

In the morning, my 2-year-old gets his cast off of his arm. The little red fiberglass has been with us for 6 weeks now-I kind of feel like it’s a part of the family. And part of me is sad to see him go!

I remember bringing him home from the emergency room thinking how impossible life would be maneuvering with the cast and how worried I was that he wouldn’t be able to play or do anything that he had done before. I thought that the term with the cast on would be the longest weeks of my life.

It’s funny to think of how big of a deal I made the whole thing and now he runs around like he has been in it forever. My worries and fears were completely unfounded! I am reminded of how God takes care of us in the little things and in the big things. And I smile knowing that I really can, “Cast all my cares on Him because He cares for me!” (I Peter 5:7)

Family Table: Double-Duty Meals

One of my favorite recipes is Apple Pork Chops with Rice.  I used to make it about once a week until my husband confessed that not only was it not one of his favorites, he hated it!  The mixing of fruit and meat is a turn-off for him.  I still loved it, so we had a predicament.  He would suffer through it every once in a while and then I just quit making it altogether.

Well, this weekend, I was planning on grilled pork chops after church on Sunday, but the only problem was the rain set in and I didn’t know when it would stop.  My trooper husband has grilled in the rain before, but this was a torrential downpour.  So, now I had these pork chops and nothing to do with them.  A quick pantry inventory showed I had one apple left over from fruit salsa…which brought me back to the apple pork chops.  What a shame that he didn’t like them…I kept looking and found a can of Rotel.  My husband loves Rotel pork chops, but I don’t at all!  It’s too spicy.  That got me really thinking.

So, Sunday when we got home, I pulled out 2 skillets and threw 2 chops in each one.  In the first one, I tossed the apple, vinegar, honey, soy sauce, rice, & water…YUMM!  In the second, a drizzle of oil, salt and pepper, rice, and the can of Rotel (this one is much simpler).  In 45 minutes, we were both eating pork chops- but in two very different flavors.

I thought then, that this same technique could be done to make dinner WHILE doing a make-ahead meal.  I could get 2 pans of chicken going, 2 pans of ground beef…the possibilities are limitless! Of course, it is easier if the steps involved are similar–like in the pork chop dishes, the chops and rice cooked about the same length of time.  So, other than different ingredients, it was basically like cooking 2 of the same dish.

What kind of multi-task cooking do you like to do?  How can we streamline even more?  My friend over at Busy on a Budget shared her prep-ahead tip last week.  Head on over and check it out!!