5 Tips for Trip Planning with Children

 I've planned many trips with children, and I wanted to offer up my unsolicited advice on some of the best things that you can do to make your trip with your child easier.

For the Car Ride:


This is my #1, and there's a reason it's bolded, capitalized and underlined.  They make great distractions for children, even if it's only for an hour, that is one hour of undistracted driving for you.  The set I have is two dvd players that hook into each other and then strap onto the headrest.  They also have jacks for headphones so that you don't have to be distracted by the movie.

2- Snacks:

I make a variety of snacks, including fruit, veggies, and crackers and package them into individual serving baggies so I can just throw them into the child's hands and they can get them out.  Juice Boxes make it easy, or you can use spill proof cups.

3- Books, Toys and Games:

Don't bring little board books or thin books either.  Bring those Dinosaur Encyclopedias or everything about animals.  Give them something that will keep them engaged for a long period of time.  Magnetic games are great in the car!

4- Pillows and blankets:

If you've got an especially long ride ahead of you, you'd be surprised at how boredom and the power of suggestion (just having the blanket and pillow in the car with them) will allow for a snooze or two along the road.

5- Kids Tunes:

Because you can't always listen to what you want.  Bring ones that you enjoy as well, to make the process easier.  I highly recommend the mixes above.

Overall, be prepared to stop, be prepared to hand them things but at least you'll be able to make it easier on yourself!

Guest Post: Milk Carton Animals

Bring a Milk Carton to Life

Keeping kids amused can be expensive and unrewarding. Taking your kids to the local amusement park might seem like a great idea, but the ticket price combined with your little one becoming overtired and whiney will make you ask yourself why you bothered. What you really want is something cheap, yet still a sure bet to keep the kids amused. This is where our milk carton animals come in. Using recycled milk cartons, you won’t break the bank and will leave the little ones smiling as they have something to take away with them. Plus you can do it all from the comfort of your own home. Easy. Peasy.

What You Will Need

Milk Carton
Masking Tape
PVA Glue
Coloured paper cut into squares/ Newspaper and paint
Googly eyes
Any other decorative bits you have hanging about.

Making Your Patchwork Elephant

·         First things first, save an old milk carton!

  • ·         Clean out your carton and get rid of any milky remnants.

  • ·         Fill the carton with hot water so that you can easily peel off any labels. Nail varnish remover will remove the stamp date or any other print on the carton.

  • ·         It is best to pre-prepare and do the cutting part for children to avoid any injury since plastic edges can be very sharp. Cut the bottom off your milk carton, about half way up so your elephant looks in proportion with its trunk (the carton handle). I also cut the top off my carton, just below the lid, so the elephant has a flat head but it really does not matter too much. 

  • ·         Stick masking tape round the holes that you have created from cutting up the carton so that you have a solid area to decorate.

·         Now papier-mâché time.

Option 1:  Layer newspaper onto the milk carton using PVA glue mixed with water. You will need to leave this to dry overnight before you can consider painting it. Get your kids to decorate it whatever colour they like- the shape of the carton shows it is an elephant with a trunk, so get creative and stay away from the grey! Once the paint has dried, they can decorate their pièce de resistance further with sequins, ribbon and of course some googly eyes.

Option 2: If you are shorter on time this is a better option and you will create something equally as colourful and innovative. Instead of using newspaper to papier-mâché, use coloured paper cut into squares to layer on the elephant. This will create a patchwork effect just like Elmer elephant from the children’s story. They layer on top of the milk carton until they get bored or until they have become too messy! Once again leave this to dry overnight and then add some googly eyes!

 Hopefully you will end up with something a little like this:

The fun does not have to end there; you can create endless animals from your used milk cartons. Use the screw top end as a face-on pig’s snout or paint it black and make a penguin. Just go with the flow, the main thing is that your kids have fun and create something they love!

Lucy Carswell is a Blogger and Marketing Assistant for Cube Self Storage, Cube Record Management Services and Cube Fine Art Services. UK based storage companies specialising in secure storage of documents and climate controlled storage for fine art.

Crochet Gypsy Vest, 1969 {Crochet Pattern}

{I found this pattern in a box of random vintage patterns that I received from family.  I love the design, so I posted it here to share in its original form.  Expect me to work it up some time and post my comments and adjustments.  Enjoy!}

The Gypsy Vest Book by Jack Frost (the yarn people), Vol. 75, 1969 

This Pattern has been moved to my Patreon library to help support my websites and art adventures.  If you would like to support my work, you'll gain access to a library of awesome patterns, including this one.

Guest Post: How to Make a Gift Card Holder

Have you ever been just a bit disappointed when you receive a gift card as a present? This doesn’t mean you are greedy or ungrateful; it just means that, perhaps, you were hoping for a gift that was more personal. We all love to get presents – there’s no denying it! But what makes it so special is that someone thought of us. When we get a gift card, it can seem impersonal. It may not be; the giver may know that you’ve been eyeing a new pair of sneakers and wants to let you choose your own size. The giver may know you love to shop!

Whatever the case, there are good intentions behind the gift. But we can make our good intentions known more clearly when we create a homemade gift card holder. There will be no doubt that you were thinking of your recipient then!

Version One

You don’t have to be a craft expert to make wonderful gift card holders. You can even use some pre-made materials to get you started. Martha Stewart suggests buying inexpensive pre-cut tags. Get the kind with grommets on the end (which allows you to put a ribbon through, if you want).

Cut a piece of fabric or extra-wide ribbon so it measures 3.5 inches. Fold each cut end under by ¼ inch and glue securely. Sew (or use strong glue) the bottom and side edges to the tag to form a little pocket for the gift card. Voila! A beautiful, thoughtful card holder. You can do something very similar just using fabric or felt and making a little pouch.

Version Two

For this next one, use a piece of cardstock and trim it very carefully so it measures 6 5/8 inches x 4 ¼ inches. When you have trimmed it, fold one end in towards the center and flatten it. Fold the other end in to the middle and flatten it. Now you have a tri-folded little envelope.

Next, unfold it and lay it flat on your working surface. Decorate it with fun stamps or even with crayons and markers. (This way you can get children involved as well.) A nice touch is to sponge all of the edges with a complementing or contrasting color. Fold the card again to reinforce the lines and then get ready to glue or tape it together.

Double-sided tape works well for this, as does glue. Make sure that you leave enough room so the gift card fits in though. Put your glue or tape on the two sides of the middle third, and then fold up the bottom third and press it down firmly to achieve a strong adhesive bond. You are just about done. You now have a functional envelope for your gift card. You can tie a ribbon around the whole card or around the top flap and adorn the front of the card with a greeting or the name of your recipient.

There are endless videos and tutorials online available to help you make your own wonderful gift card holders. Take advantage of them! Watch craft experts as they effortlessly create these beautiful, personal holders – and then try your best to do the same. You can always add your own ideas and variations so you make a holder that best suits your recipient. It is the thought that counts.

Author Bio:

Sarah is a writer who enjoys doing crafts and giving creative gifts. She also contributes articles to the All About Gifts & Baskets blog, where you can find all kinds of discount gift baskets.

Quick Tips: Fast {Healthy} Food

Quick Tip: Fast {HEALTHY} Food
Next time you go grocery shopping, stock up on a few of these items to be used as Fast Snacks! To make enjoying them even easier (for both you and your children), before you put them away, separate them into pre-measured baggies or Tupperware and grab and go!

• Carrot sticks, apple wedges, celery spears, cauliflower, broccoli, pea pods, or pretty much any other fruit or vegetable makes a great snack. For extra fun, dip in peanut butter, almond butter, fat free ranch, or hummus!

• Trail Mix! I’m not talking about that horrible trail mix that you buy in a bag, I’m talking about making it yourself, and letting your child help in the customization! You can add pretty much anything to trail mix, and letting your child pick out the ingredients makes it even better. Here are some of our family favorites to add to our trail mix: Pretzels, a variety of cereals, candies (mmm m&m’s!), goldfish, any type of nuts (sunflowers are our favorite), raisins, bagel chips, and dried fruit)

• Beans straight from the can! (I haven’t tried this one with my kids yet, but the site I saw it on recommended Chickpeas)

• Fruit Smoothies! For this special treat, freeze individual Ziploc baggies of banana chunks, berries, apple chunks, or any other fruit, you can mix them together or freeze them by themselves. When you want one, pull the baggie out of the freezer, mix in blender with juice, soymilk, fat free milk, or even frozen yogurt to make a great treat. For even more fun, let your child fill the baggies with their favorite combination!

Soon I hope to have these quick tips available in a special section of my website.  I'm still working on the coding for a random generator, but once that is figured out, they'll be up!

Do you have any quick tips that you would like to share?  If so, leave them in the comments below and you might be featured in an upcoming post!

Frosty Morning

A dark, cold feeling is spreading
through me like frost on a
windshield on a winter morning.

-Katherine Webber

Stop! You're paying too much for eyeglasses!

This post brought to you by Coastal.com. All opinions are 100% mine.

In my household, I already have two people that wear glasses, and both of my kids will most likely be stuck with the glasses curse as well.  Buying glasses is definitely not cheap!  When trying to be a frugal family, I want to provide them all with the best, but still be able to have money left over!  

A friend of mine told me about two different websites that she uses to purchase her eyeglasses online and at first I have to say I was very leary.  Would they have the same quality?  Would they feel as sturdy?  I paid over $300 for my last pair of store bought glasses and just couldn't believe that I could get a pair of glasses, with lenses, for under $20.  She assured me that she had about 15 different pairs of glasses and they were all of excellent quality. 

She had recommended to me both coastal.com and zennioptical.com.  I have since used both to purchase eyeglasses online.  I can honestly say, I will never go back to buying my glasses from a store!  With free shipping, the low costs, easy returns, a larger variety of styles and the fact I can order in my pajamas, there's no reason for me to go in a store at all.  Now I just keep up on my eye exams and I'm set!

Here are a few of my favorite styles that I either own or have on my wishlist:


(I have to admit that I love plastic frames.  There's no better way to go with kids in my house!)

I again can't stress enough how easy it is to buy your glasses online, and how much time and money that you will save!  I've gotten glasses as cheap as $12 a pair!  I also want to note that websites like this can also save you money on contact lenses, which can get very expensive depending on what kind you wear!

Do me a favor and at least go check it out!  


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Takhi Stacy Charles Venus de Milo Vest {knit pattern review}

My Pattern Experience: Takhi Stacy Charles Venus de Milo Vest

This is the first actual article of clothing that I have ever made.  I was worried about how it would come out, since it was my first attempt, but I shouldn't have been!  You use very large needles for this pattern and it worked up very quickly!  I had the entire vest done in about a week, including time for blocking and seaming.  
It's worked in multiple pieces, you work the back, two fronts and then join them, then work a collar all the way around.  It worked up quick and easy, and I used a nice thick yarn which gave it a beautiful pattern.  Overall, I'm very pleased with how it came out and my sister in law (who got it as a gift) just loved it!