gifts for preschool boys



Lullatone is a completely charming outfit in Japan that creates music and a few other things, as you’re about to see. I received a note this week from Shawn, the musician behind Lullatone, and wanted to introduce you at once.
This is Shawn.

This is Shawn with his wife, isn’t this a darling picture? (I loved their blog. You will love it too. Stop by right away.)

Besides creating music, Shawn also makes TV tutorials for DIY musical instruments. There are few things I can think of that a preschooler would love more than to build a xylophone from cardboard tubes then play music on it. Check out Shawn’s video here. His tutorial is super simple. And while you’re there, check out Lullatone’s other videos, shop and blog.
Thanks, Shawn!


T-Shirt Bags


Hello!  I am here today to spread the word about t-shirt bags.  Are you familiar with them?  I learned about them from (who else?) Martha Stewart a few years ago.  Is it too much to say that they’ve changed my life?  Probably.  But I really really really love them.

I love that I can still keep those old, sentimental t-shirts around without them taking up valuable real estate in my itty-bitty closet.  I love that those shirts are now more useful than they ever were as a garment that I would only wear while cleaning my house.  I love that when I take them to the store I can be loud & proud of the fact that I love Tia Babe’s Mexican food in Santa Paula, California.  Or that I was indeed, on senior cabinet in high school.  And I really love that I get large, sturdy, reusable shopping bags that are made from 100% cotton and don’t cost me anything, instead of bags that I have to pay for and are often made from questionable plastics.  They are such a fantastic way to reuse something that would otherwise be tossed.

Oh!  I just thought of another good thing about these bags:  making them is a super forgiving project.  Straight cuts and sewing lines are not required.  This is one of those projects that takes 10 minutes or less and non-perfectionists are invited and encouraged to participate.  Those are my kind of projects!

Have I sold you on the idea of t-shirt bags yet?  If not, I’ll try one more.  How about making a custom trick-or-treat bag for a child you love from one of their old t-shirts?  (Ah!  Is it too early to start thinking about Halloween?)  Or, if trick-or-treating isn’t in your future, perhaps you could make a great library bag.  Martha has a nice tutorial on her website, but here’s a photographic version from me:

Items needed: a shirt, scissors, sewing machine.

Additional items needed if you want to applique: fusible web (I used Wonder-Under), iron, ironing board.  (Remember to read the directions thoroughly on your webbing, in case they differ from those shown below.)

Your t-shirt bag is now finished.  Easy as pie, right?  You can stop here or go on to add a bit of custom magic to your bag.  I chose designs that read a bit Halloween-y, but wouldn’t look completely out of place when we use them as library bags for the rest of the year.

Viola!  You now have a super cute and custom bag for your child.  Now go dig through your closets, pull out all your old t-shirts and get cutting.  Your shirts will be so happy to be back in your life.

What is your favorite way to reduce/reuse/recycle?

What simple items make your life easier?


Darling Clementine

Crystal stops by GiversLog a couple times a month to share her fresh ideas. When she’s not writing for GiversLog, Crystal can be found mothering, knitting, and cooking. Stop by and see what’s new at her etsy shop: monograms, Greek keys, and chevron stripes. Oh my!


Tote a Tiny Toy


Hello fellow Giver’s Log readers!  I have been a fan of dear Amber’s site since the beginning, and I am so thrilled that she has asked me join her.

For my first post, I wanted to share a really small, but meaningful, gift my son received last year. 

A few months after I had my second baby, I was running errands with my oldest child.  I think he was still in the my-world-was-just-majorly-rocked mode after the birth of our baby, and he was having an especially hard time at the store.  While we were waiting in line to check out, a woman came up to us and pulled a toy motorcycle out of her purse and asked my son if he likes motorcycles.  (He does.  A lot.)  She gave him the motorcycle and it immediately calmed him down and bought me enough time to get out of the store with a little grace.  (I should note:  she asked me if it was ok if she gave my son the toy before she approached him.  It’s always a good idea to check in with the Mama/Daddy before giving a stranger-child something, no?)  I was (am!) so appreciative of this woman.  We still have the motorcycle, and even though my son has since broken off the handlebars, it’s still a favorite and gets plenty of play time.  

So here’s my challenge to you:  find a little toy or activity that you can stow in your handbag and give it to a child you see that is having a rough time in a store (or anywhere else that you see a parent who could use a moment of distraction for their child). 

For my own purse, I chose these cute scratch art papers, but I think anything that would keep a child busy for a few minutes would be appreciated:  stickers, a notepad + a crayon or two, small cars, a little book, a wind-up toy, etc.  The goal is to find something that costs only a few quarters and slips into your bag easily.  (Because if you’re anything like me, you’re lugging around a lot already!) 

I bought six scratch art papers at Michaels  for $1.  (And apparently they are a hit with the kids.  Do you see my son drooling over them?)  If you don’t already have something at home that fits the bill, try places like Target’s Dollar Spot or any dollar store for tiny trinkets that would do the trick. 

You could skip this step, but if you get a moment wrap the little gift.  I think half the fun of getting a present is in the unwrapping, especially for a child.  And who knows–maybe the wrapping will be the funnest part to play with!

Okay, okay, son.  You can have one.  Scratch away. 

Hey, it even works at home!  My son kept at this activity for awhile.  Time well spent, I’d say.

If you accept my challenge, please stop by and let me know how it goes.  I’d love to hear your stories.


It’s beginning to feel like summertime here. So to celebrate, today I am going to the post office and mailing a shovel to a little girl I know. My local post office is starting to know what to expect from me, and all of the workers have a great sense of humor. But if they look at me strange, I’ll just explain that tomorrow, I will mail a bucket.

If you decide to give this a try, you can print postage at home and just drop your shovel in a mailbox, but it’s so much more fun handing it to a postal worker and waiting for them to say, um, I guess there’s nothing liquid, perishable, or potentially hazardous?

UPDATE: Just as a little FYI, the shovel was $1.22 to mail. Not bad. And the postal worker didn’t even flinch when he had to find a place for the postage sticker. The bucket goes out tomorrow.


and incase you’d like to see a little more, here is my favorite fun mail inspiration from the archives (or see it all right here):

A Great Big Sponge | A Tube of Bert’s Bees | A Wreath and Twinkly Lights | A Disguise | School Supplies | A Pair of Flip Flops | A Big Ball | Plastic Eggs 1 and 2 | Silly Putty |Shovel & a Bucket | Ribbon Sticks | Bubblewrap Hopscotch | Fan Mail | Waterbottle Care Package | Bouncy Balls | Sticky Notes | Jr Mints | Frisbee | Mini Banner and Mini m&ms

find postage rates for happy mail right here along with other mailing details



My brother and SIL are the coolest. For my kids’ birthdays this year they sent this.
Bubble wrap hopscotch. And what do you do when you receive a package of bubble wrap hopscotch in the mail? There is only one thing you can do. Tear it right out of the package and get hopping.

So save your bubble wrap, because this is such a great thing to get in the mail. Writing the numbers is easy, just make sure you’re writing on the bubblewrap’s smooth side.
You might want to make a set for yourself.
Then just package it up and send it off. Ours looked a little like a bubble wrap sandwich.
Incase you’re interested in the rules, here are the official hopscotch rules, according to my playground experience:

1. Lay out numbers as shown.
2. Toss the marker on square one.
3. Skip square one and hop on all the other numbers, using only one foot for single squares, both feet for doubles. Then turn and hop back, stopping one square before the marker (you must balance on one foot if it is a single square), and bend over and pick up your marker. Then finish hopping home.
4. If you over throw the marker or lose balance then you end your turn. Continue with remaining numbers (2, 3, 4, 5…) until done.


and incase you’d like to see a little more, here is my favorite fun mail inspiration from the archives (or follow my 13 oz or less Pinterest board, or see it all right here):

A Disposable Camera | A Sponge | A Tube of Bert’s Bees | A Wreath and Twinkly Lights | A Disguise | School Supplies | A Pair of Flip Flops | A Big Ball | Plastic Eggs 1 and 2 | Silly Putty |Shovel & a Bucket | Ribbon Sticks | Bubblewrap Hopscotch | Fan Mail | Waterbottle Care Package | Bouncy Balls | Sticky Notes | Jr Mints | Frisbee | Mini Banner and Mini m&ms

find postage rates for happy mail right here along with other mailing details




Babypop Designs


I first met Sherry of Babypop Designs when she stopped by here one day. I thought I’d pay a quick visit to her shop, and holy moly, Batman, did I immediately fall in love. The woman makes personalized cape and mask sets for your superhero of choice. Do you realize what this means? This means she is a real life Edna Mole! I love what she writes in her shop intro:

“This all started with a day at the playground and watching kids running around and thinking ‘he really needs a personalized superhero cape.’”

So, tell what super power you would like to have? Flying, web shooting, making icy tracks and riding them on your super cool ice surf board. I totally know what mine would be. No question. I’ll have to let you know. Stick around.


This post is brought to you from Idaho! Our trip is going swimmingly, and I am snapping many pictures to share with you.

But first, I have to say how much I am loving your comments on my Ann Clark giveaway. The things you do with cookie cutters and the cookies you make and eat have me inspired. I am thinking of launching a full-on kitchen experiment to find a good chocolate sugar cookie recipe. It is going on my must-do list along with making this skirt, mussels, and artisan bread (I updated the post on making these magnificent loaves with a few details you may need if you’re missing the book). I’d better get busy.


But first, something I promised long ago. Remember when I shared every last thing in my gift and wrapping closet? I told you I like to keep $5 and $10 gifts on hand to mix and match as gift emergencies require. Well, here are a few favorites (with more to come). Do you have any favorite emergency gifts? I’d love to hear.

for twisting, and a good bookto show how.
(image from here)

A blank umbrellaor parasoland fabric markers.
(I know, the parasol is over $10, but still affordable, and I knew you’d love it.)

Gumballs and a vintage-looking machine.

A ball on a band. Kids will be busy outside for hours, making this a good gift for mom too.

The bilibo mini.

Bath crayons,for little ones whose best ideas come in the tub.

Lollipops! Really, if you’re going to eat pure sugar, isn’t this the way to do it?

A coloring page that goes forever.

A super classic top.

Binoculars. Of course.

A can of chalkboard paint,for doing something like this.

Brain food. Fun for hours.

And finally, crayon rocks. And maybe a fun handmade pouch for toting them everywhere.
(Pouch found via here.)


Our Mario birthday party was a hit, and I collected my pictures over the weekend to share with you. We had rain, so we gave up our plans for bike racing and stayed indoors to party. But it was pretty fun having five little Marios running around my house hunting for Yoshi eggs and dodging balloon bombs.

Invitations are my favorite part of planning a party. (Forget the party itself!) We included a gold coin and invited each Mario to come earn more. (I found the question block idea from here and here.)

Toad has got to be my favorite character, so we decided to make the cakes in his honor. Do you like the cloud garland? I’m pretty proud of myself for that touch.We had invincible Marios fighting our ghosts all party long. (I saw the idea here.)
I went a little crazy and made each boy a hat. I just couldn’t resist. I promise I kept it simple other than this.
In case you were wondering what a Mario hat pattern looks like, here you go. It took me a couple tries to figure out the right pattern, but once I did i was very happy with the result. This pattern also works for an artist’s beret if you leave off the bill. (UPDATE 7.26.10: I’ve added the pattern for you to download if you’re interested. Scroll to the bottom of the post and save each of the 5 pages)
Everyone wanted to give the pinata a Mario punch before we really got serious about picking up the stick and breaking it open. It was filled with, you guessed it, gold coins.
Despite the rain, I think all five Marios had a good time.

Now we’re hard at work pulling together a tea party. Stick around and hopefully I’ll have a few pictures to share. Somehow I get more nervous planning for little girls.

UPDATE 7.26.10: For those of you who requested the Mario hat pattern, here you go! Just click on the link below to download all five pages as a pdf. Or if you have troubles with that, you can right click on each of the five images and save the image.

I used red fleece and a small piece of plastic canvas (if you’ve never used plastic canvas, you can see a picture of it in my fabric mailbox tutorial, you can find it at any craft store) to make the bill firm in each hat.

To download, either right click on the images below to save them

Or click here to go to Scribd and download the pattern there.



Today marks day one of extended birthday bash mania here in our house. I love that my kids share a birthday week. It’s kind of like our combed-down version of carnival or mardi gras. Parties for days! The kids and I go craft crazy while Brent shakes his head at our ambitious plans, disappears with a book for a while, then comes back to try to help me rein in the mess.

Just last night we finished mario hats, a mario pinata, toad cakes, and tea party invites. We were focused! We may have gotten further but my girl came down with a little earache. And before all falling into bed exhausted, we also managed to make these, which my son is taking to preschool to hand out to all his friends on his big day.

We thought we’d do a twist on melted heart crayons by adding initials. Didn’t they turn out sweet? They’re so bright and pretty they left me wanting to make more, maybe with a message on them next time. And they were pretty simple. Here’s what we did:

1. Ravaged the crayon drawer for all the ugly crayons. Anything that was still pointy was safe. But all the dull, broken crayons came out for us to peel the label off and break into smaller pieces. Next time I will keep the same brands of crayons together. The crayolas melted much slower than our stash of crayons collected from restaurants.
2. Preheated the oven to 190 and arranged the crayons in a candy mold. I wanted to keep the temp low because the mold I used was meant for chocolate and isn’t too heat resistant.
3. Melted the whole batch for a good ten minutes, until they’d all melted.
4. Pulled them out of the oven and put them into the fridge for ten minutes.
5. Next we worked on the initials. We scratched the letters into the surface with a pencil. The wax was still a tad soft and it was super easy to get the letters just how we liked. Then we melted a black crayon in the microwave and painted over the letters with a small brush. We had to throw the wax back in once or twice, but it wasn’t too trickey.
6. We wanted the black to meld with the rest of the crayon, so we put each crayon back in the mold, letter side down, and popped them back in the oven for another four minutes, as long as it took for the letters to just begin to show signs of melting.

After they cooled, we were quite pleased with the result.

Scratching out the initials.

et viola!


We had a lot of fun with our latest package.

We couldn’t resist trying to bounce the whole package once it was all wrapped up.

It’s pretty sturdy, incase the postal workers aren’t able to resist.

We’ve been having a lot of fun with this series. And I’m really excited about the next couple ideas we have coming up. Stay tuned.

and incase you’d like to see a little more, here is my favorite fun mail inspiration from the archives (or see it all right here):

A Great Big Sponge | A Tube of Bert’s Bees | A Wreath and Twinkly Lights | A Disguise | School Supplies | A Pair of Flip Flops | A Big Ball | Plastic Eggs 1 and 2 | Silly Putty |Shovel & a Bucket | Ribbon Sticks | Bubblewrap Hopscotch | Fan Mail | Waterbottle Care Package | Bouncy Balls | Sticky Notes | Jr Mints | Frisbee | Mini Banner and Mini m&ms

find postage rates for happy mail right here along with other mailing details



Places to Doodle


Just looking at these is bringing on the doodling urge. Are you feeling it too?

on a shower curtain
(I am so doing this for a highschool grad)

on a toy boat

on your chair

on your rocket ship

on a garland

on matryoshkas

in a comic book

on a train

on your doll

on your keds

on a t shirt (via Design Mom)


Thanks, everyone, for the help.


-kinder eggsphoto from this 100 possibilities project by sheenacv

Meet the best stocking stuffer ever, the Kinder Egg. Possibly the greatest gift German engineering has given the modern world. Have you ever had one?

You start with a chocolate egg wrapped in foil. You unwrap and bite into the chocolate shell, which is smooth milk chocolate  outside and yogurty white chocolate inside.  After you’ve devoured the chocolate, letting it melt over your tongue, you come to the plastic capsule, which might be the best part. Because that little inch-tall capsule could have anything in it.

You open it up and out spills your prize. A small toy, often in five or six or ten little pieces with a set of instructions you unfold and follow to assemble some fantastic little gadget. The best is when the capsule itself is part of the gadget. I’m telling you, this is German engineering at it’s finest. The gadgets are so clever, in fact, I just found this weekend there’s a whole flickr pool devoted to them.

There’s only one problem. I can’t find anywhere to buy them in the U.S. I know I’ve seen them somewhere before (I’m in northern Cali) but haven’t managed to find anywhere in the last few years. I’d love to throw a couple in stockings this year, but I’d also love to have an inside source for picking them up to use as birthday surprises. Anyone?

-kinder surprise egg toys
from the flickr pool:
row 1
row 2, left, right
row 3
row 4, left, right
row 5, left, right


-7 things7I love that kids are always so impressed with themselves for how fast they grow. My kids like to show me how far their toes reach in bed or how close they are to filling up the bathtub.

Which is why growth charts are one of the coolest things ever, which leads me to my confession. My kids don’t actually have a growth chart. It’s terrible, I know. I realized my mistake recently and am repenting and taking action. In fact, I’m using this post as my shopping list. But how to choose between such beautiful things?

wooden growth chart2available here

beautiful growth chartavailable here, found via here

burlap growth chartavailable here, originally seen here

growthchartwebavailable here in custom colors
photo growth chartavailable here

51jw1sSFiQL._SS400_available here

51Y9x+IY66L._SS400_available here

il_430xN.100313394available here

fabric growth chartavailable here

simple growth chartlove how simple this one is, spotted here
red growth chartavailable here
measure me stick growth chartavailable here, found via here