Archive for family fun

25 Ideas for Winter Fun

Feeling a little cooped up? Need some ideas for fun things to make, bake and do? I’ve rounded up a list of my 25 favorites.

MakeWinter village by Mer Mag

1. A winter village like this one by Mer Mag

2. Snow globes by Martha

3. This fun mini viewer (would make a sweet Valentine’s Day gift!)

4. Photos of special people, favorite toys, pets, friends and make a tiny book (by Printstagram):

Prinstagram book

5. A terrarium (find a tutorial here or buy one of these which repurposes wine bottles)

6. Gold leaf papier mache bowls by Kelli Murray:

Gold leaf papier mache DIY by Kelli Murray

7. Cupcake liner ribbons (good for Valentine’s Day or birthdays)

8. Dozens of printable activities at Mr. Printables, including this sweet “My Paper World

9. Washi tape crafts: decorate notebooks, make a washi tape town (and use this washi tape), or even frame some prints on your wall with washi tape.

10. Don’t have a lot of space? Here’s a collapsible cardboard house for your little ones.

11. Sweet little calendar by Eat Drink Chic to give as gifts to your friends:

sweet 2013 printable calendar by Eat Drink Chic


12. Salted caramal apple pocket pies! Get the recipe from Just a Taste here.

salted caramel apple pies by Just a Taste

13. Hot chocolate + marshmallows (ever made your own hot chocolate and marshmallows?)

14. Homemade pretzels (I usually double this recipe by Elephantine)

15. Afternoon tea + sandwiches (get lots of traditional afternoon tea recipes here)

16. Heart shaped doughnuts by Sugar & Cloth

heart shaped donuts by Sugar and Cloth

17. 5 favorite cinnamon roll recipes from the Kitchn

18. Popovers with strawberry butter by Sweet Paul


19. Listen to episodes of RadioLab and learn fascinating stuff

20. Learn how to grow a pineapple from Instructables

21. Play outside in the snow. Make colored spray and build the perfect snowman:


22. Cool and inexpensive home science projects to blow your mind, like making a pickle glow!

23. Attend art school with Classic Play

24. Draw mustaches and funny hats with a sharpie on models in your old catalogs and magazines

25. Have an outdoor winter treasure hunt! (And 22 other great winter activities).

winter treasure hunt via ivillage

What if you live where it’s warm and there’s no snow, you ask? Check out my 25 Ideas for Summer Family Fun and 25 More Ideas for Summer Fun.

That’s 75 ideas – now go do something!

Images from top to bottom (see links above):  Mer Mag, Printstagram, Kelli Murray, Eat Drink Chic, Just a Taste, Sugar and Cloth, Yuki Sakugawa (Secret tips from the Yumiverse), and iVillage


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25 More Ideas for Summer Fun

“25 More Ideas for Summer Fun” builds on last year’s list, so now you have 50 ideas and no excuses not to have fun this summer!

1. Have a lemonade stand. (If you want to go all out, use this template from This Old House to build your own)

2. Make your own popsicle (try these “paletas” recipes from Sweet Paul)

Sweet Paul paletas recipes

Courtesy Sweet Paul Magazine, Summer 2012

3. Dip berries into Greek yogurt and freeze them

4. Make mini s’mores – no campfire necessary!

5. Build a fort

6. Draw a postcard from a place you’d like to visit and mail it to a friend

Retro play stamps and letters by Giddy Giddy

Courtesy Giddy Giddy

7. Make paper bag puppets (follow the link for more homemade toys and games from Martha)

8. Make a heart-shaped DIY bird feeder to bring birds to your yard

Homemade-Heart-Birdfeeder by Alphamom

Courtesy Cindy Hopper for alphamom

9. Scour your home and neighborhood for found objects and make a collage on a big piece of paper

10. Make sun prints (DIY with construction paper, or use some Sun Print paper) – see some amazing examples here

11. A bunch of new, cool and tricky science projects!

12. How to make invisible ink

How to make invisible ink

Courtesy Yumi Sakugawa

13. About the constellations and see if you can spot them in the night sky

14. How to make friendship bracelets

Friendship bracelets by the Purl Bee

Courtesy The Purl Bee/Purl SoHo

15. Organize a family game night! Board games, card games, charades, bingo!

16. Draw a hopscotch board and play. (Don’t remember how? Refresh your memory here.)

Hopscotch by Outside Alice

Courtesy Josie Bauman/Outside Alice

17. Build a house of cards (in 6 easy steps!)

18. Design an obstacle course – who can go through it the fastest?

19. Host a water balloon toss (or egg toss, if you dare…)

20. The library!

Courtesy Zetson

21. A state park or a nearby park to explore

22. A totally new place that you’ve never been to before

23. At the animal shelter

(My dog Laverne, a rescued dog)

24. To pick up trash in your neighborhood or town

25. To bring your neighbor some homemade cookies (and use these free printable tags)

Made with Love gift tag by eighteen25

Courtesy eighteen25

Want to add to the list? Please leave your ideas in the comments section below!

And, it’s worth saying again that you will find a treasure trove of creative ideas, games, book recommendations and projects over at Classic Play! It’s a must-see website for parents.

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Adventures in Bird Banding

Red Knot pic courtesy of Conserve Wildlife NJ

Turns out that this guy – the Red Knot – rests and refuels in New Jersey during migration to its breeding and wintering grounds. And today, we (my family, plus some of my co-workers) have a special opportunity to help NJ Audubon do some bird banding on these and other birds which might also be passing through the area.

Bird banding (or “bird ringing”) helps collect data to support wildlife conservation, research and education efforts. The real  payoff comes, of course, when recovering or recapturing previously banded birds. Correlating data on when the bird was originally banned and when it is recovered can reveal information about its migratory path, geographical range, longevity and behavior.

I expect to get wet, dirty and bitten by bugs, but I also expect it to be thrilling – for me and especially for my girls.

Care to know more about the Red Knot? Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey has the whole scoop.

Are you a birder on the east coast? You might be interested in the Cape May Bird Observatory, where we will be today.

Image: Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ

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25 Ideas for Summer Family Fun

Ice cream sandwiches

1. Catch fireflies

2. Go canoeing

3. Run through the sprinkler

4. Make ice cream sandwiches

5. Write a letter to someone special

Blow bubbles

6. Stay up late to look at the stars

7. Have a picnic. If it’s raining, have an indoor picnic.

8. Have a scavenger hunt

9. Go rollerskating

10. Go bowling

Picnic basket from repurposed suitcase by funkytime

11. Play flashlight tag

12. Go for a hike

13. Identify all the different kinds of trees in your neighborhood

14. Have a movie night, complete with movie sized popcorn and candy!

15. Go to a museum you’ve never been to before

Vintage rollerskates by A Touch of Vintage

16. Go to an orchard and pick your own fruit

17. Make a pie from scratch (try Tastespotting for recipes)

18. Play Bingo for small prizes

19. Make your own bubbles and have a bubble blowing contest

20. Go for a bike ride

Make your own play dough by mini eco

21. Make your own play dough

22. Press some flowers

23. Have everyone in the family draw a self portrait

24. Crank up the music and have an impromptu dance party

25. Learn how to make and fly a really good paper airplane

And for a treasure trove of games, how-tos, party ideas & good old fashioned fun,
visit Classic Play.

What’s on your list?

Ice cream sandwiches, Bubbles, Picnic Basket, Rollerskates, Play dough

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Stomping Ground

Elena and Rosa photo by Stomping Ground

Remember when I was dreaming about cool school photos? Well, I took matters into my own hands and went to an open studio session with Stomping Ground in Manhattan a month ago to have our family photos taken.

Isn’t this photo the best?

We have never had our family portraits taken before, so I didn’t know how much a photo – a really really good photo – could be such a treasure. Now I know.

Image: Dennis Kleiman/Stomping Ground

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Five Ideas for Mother’s Day

Five ideas for Mother's Day from Charlotte's Fancy

Suitcase repurposed as picnic basket by funkytime
Love letters
Elena (10) Rosa (7) – own photo

Did you have a good weekend? I hope so.

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Easter Crafts Round-Up

Chocolate bunnies craft by the Crafts Dept Chocolate bunnies craft 3 by the Crafts Dept
Chocolate bunnies craft 4 by the Crafts Dept Chocolate bunnies craft 2 by the Crafts Dept

Easy and cute chocolate bunnies from chocolate bars by the Crafts Dept. (reminds me of this iPod craft)

Easter Place Cards by Pinecone Camp for Poppytalk

Easter Place Cards tutorial by Pinecone Camp for Poppytalk

Easter placecards from Pinecone Camp for Poppytalk – perfect paper choice, don’t you think?

Birds Nest Cakes by Belinda Strong Easter Egg hunt coloring page by Julissa Mora

Several fun Easter activities by the lovely and generous ladies over at We Love to Illustrate.

Present and Correct Egg Craft for Poppytalk

Present and Correct Egg Craft 2 for Poppytalk

Present & Correct‘s cute message in an egg tutorial for Poppytalk

Easter Egg Surprise craft by Not Martha

Easter Egg Surprise craft 2 by Not Martha

And the easy version of Easter Surprise Eggs from Not Martha (see also her chocolate surprise eggs tutorial).

Chocolate bunnies / Crafts Dept. – Martha Stewart
Easter placecards / Pinecone Camp for Poppytalk
Bird Nest Cakes / Belinda Strong for We Love to Illustrate
Easter Egg Hunt / Julissa Mora for We Love to Illustrate
Message Eggs / Present & Correct for Poppytalk
Easter Surprise Eggs / Not Martha

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Dreamy Play Spaces

Kyoto Garden House by SmartPlayhouse

Hobikken playhouse exterior by SmartPlayhouse

Hobikken playhouse by SmartPlayhouses

Illinois playhouse exterior by SmartPlayhouse

Illinois playhouse by SmartPlayhouse

You can’t beat the price of a fort made out of blankets and books and furniture (or, as I used to build them, boards from all of our board games). At the same time, I can easily imagine the hours kids would devote to creative play sparked by truly special play spaces like these from SmartPlayhouse.

More designs to admire on their website, including both outdoor and indoor playhouses.

Images: SmartPlayhouse
via smaller

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Recommended: Sweet Paul + Action Pack

The number of online magazines seems to be exploding, and there are many wonderful ones out there, including Small Magazine, lmnop, Gifted, Lonny, Rue, Matchbook, Anthology and others. I especially look forward to issues of Sweet Paul, which is always packed to the gills with beautiful photography, fun ideas and terrific recipes.

The new Kids issue is out and it’s every bit as good as (or maybe better than!) Martha Stewart’s KIDS, if you ever subscribed to it (and obsessively hoard the old issues, like I do).

Sweet Paul Kids issue cover

(I totally want to make one of these strawberry marshmallow shakes!)

You can get the issue here. See also the Sweet Paul blog.

I also want to recommend Whip Up‘s mini-mag for kids ages 7 and older called Action Pack (download it for $5). It’s 20+ pages of craft projects, outdoor activities, cooking, drawing and more. Perfect for weekend projects.

Whip Up's Action Pack mini mag for kids

I’m pretty sure Elena and Rosa would love both of these magazines.
So much to look at and do!

Images: Sweet Paul and Whip Up
Action Pack via Craft

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Classic Play!

I’m interrupting the Handmade Holiday Gift Guides to tell you that the new issue of Classic Play! is out, and I am so honored to be a guest contributor. Classic Play! is a wonderful online magazine filled with essays, crafts, gift guides and fun ideas for parents. I highly recommend it.

The theme for this issue is Science, and I created a Monarch butterfly chrysalis craft, inspired by Not Martha’s tiny pinatas and an experience I had with Monarchs at work last year:

Chrysalis Craft Pic 2 for Classic Play's Science Issue Chrysalis Craft Pic 4 for Classic Play's Science Issue
Chrysalis Craft Pic 6 for Classic Play's Science Issue Chrysalis Craft Pic 6 for Classic Play's Science Issue

The Foundation that I work for gives money to a group called the Monarch Teacher Network, which is a network of teachers who use the incredible migration of the Monarch butterfly as a robust teaching tool in their classrooms (environmental lessons, math lessons, art lessons, etc). Last year, they brought several caterpillars to our office and let us watch the beauty of their transformation unfold over several days. I don’t know if you remember what a monarch chrysalis looks like, but it is incredibly delicate and beautiful and small:

Monarch Butterfly Chrysalis

It starts off as light green with tiny gold dots on it, and as the caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, the chrysalis gets increasingly translucent so that you can actually see the black and orange wings:

Monarch Butterfly Chrysalis with wings showing through

As a child, the transformation seems so magical. Getting to revisit this process as an adult, and being able to appreciate the incredible beauty of the chrysalis, it was even more magical than I remembered, and it left a deep impression on me. It seemed like a perfect fit, then, to make a chrysalis craft for Classic Play!

I hope you enjoy the Science issue, and I hope you like the craft too. If you decide to make your own, please let me know. You can fill it with anything and make it any colors you want!  Also, I must give a special thanks to Melanie of You Are My Fave who gave me some pointers for this craft. Much appreciated, Melanie.

See also all of the back issues of Classic Play!, including Food, Sports, Love and Travel, among others, for so much inspiration and fun.

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