Bow-Tie Card for Dad

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This cute Father’s Day card idea from Highlights magazine was the perfect craft for Travis to make this year… because daddy can really rock a bow tie!

To start, we measured out a long rectangle that was 11 inches long x 2 inches wide. Travis proudly followed along the line to cut this out, needing no help from me.

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We cut a second rectangle that was 5 inches x 1 inch.

Fold the large triangle in half, and open back up. Now fold the ends of that rectangle in to the center crease and secure with tape.

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Cut each side into a trapezoid shape; now it looks like a bow tie!

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Wrap the small rectangle around the center and tape down.

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Kids can now decorate the tie with markers. Because Daddy loves orange, Travis proudly added orange marker atop orange paper.

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Your kids may want to add polka dots, stripes, or other common bow-tie designs.

I cut a final piece of cardstock into the shape of a gift tag and added a happy father’s day message. Loop through the bow tie with a piece of string.

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When Father’s Day is over, this card does double-duty as a bookmark! Need more ideas this Father’s Day? Check out a few photo gift options here.

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Make a Father’s or Mother’s Day Gift

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With Mother’s and Father’s Day just around the corner, here’s the perfect idea for your spouse: Put together a gift featuring photos or sounds of your little ones.¬†The following gifts will actually be mine to my husband in June, but adapt them for a special mom this coming Sunday, if you’d like!

There are so many websites on which you can make photo projects. I used simple software at Zazzle for two versions.

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The first was a tote bag, featuring one big photo of the kids.

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The second was a mug, which was able to feature three pics, plus a sweet inscription.

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As a final photo touch, I added a picture of Veronika to the front of a card.

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The final piece of the gift was auditory: a recording of Veronika’s babbles to be a ringtone!

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These personalized gifts are sure to make a mom or dad feel special, whether it’s the first Mother’s/Father’s Day, the tenth, or beyond!

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Bubbling Bath Fizzies

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If you’re still wondering what to make for grandmas, moms, aunts, or any other special mother-figure this mother’s day, Travis and I have got you covered with this treat for the toes from Highlights magazine. The gift is equal parts craft and science, which makes it a fantastic way to engage kids in the spirit of gift-giving.

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In a large craft bin, Travis mixed up the following ingredients:

1 cup baking soda

1/2 cup citric acid

1/2 cup Epsom salts

3/4 cup corn starch

Make sure to tell your child that the mixture isn’t edible, even though most of the ingredients are, especially if you’re used to cooking together!

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In a small bowl, we whisked together 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon water. Add the liquids to the mixture slowly, stirring until combined. Kids will want to wear goggles (or sunglasses, in a pinch!) to protect their eyes, since it will bubble as you stir.

We also added blue food coloring for a pretty tint and a few drops of vanilla extract for a nice smell. The downside was that this made our mixture a little too liquidy (you want it to be slightly dry and crumbly). It seemed all right at first, but as our bath bombs dried, they puffed out. Note Travis in his too-cool-for-school sunglasses, ha!

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Use an ice cream scoop to scoop out each portion, and pack down tightly. Gently release onto a paper towel and let dry for a full 24 hours.

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Package the bath bombs in any pretty tissue paper or parchment paper.

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We also added a little gift tag with instructions for treating those tootsies!

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And of course we saved one to test out at home! Travis loved watching it fizz, before putting his feet in to soak. Don’t forget to give a quick explanation of why it all fizzes up – the baking soda and citric acid reacting together once in water, of course, which releases CO2 gas (ergo, bubbles).

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Mother’s Day Hat Card

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This adorable card in the shape of a hat, which evokes Kentucky Derby season and all things springtime, makes a wonderfully whimsical card for a special someone on Mother’s Day! When Travis and I spotted the craft in Highlights, we knew we needed to put one together for his grandmother.

Cut a large circle from colored cardstock; we chose a royal purple. I was impressed with the way Travis followed the lines along the circle I drew – I hadn’t realized his cutting skills had grown so precise!

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Then we cut the rim from a paper bowl for a smaller circle.

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Cut a tab into your cardstock near the middle, and glue onto the bowl. It should be able to lift open and closed.

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Next we glued purple ribbon around the bowl, and also affixed a purple bow.

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Once the glue dried, we added our Mother’s Day message to grandma under the hat!

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Hats off to this cute idea!

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Footprint Plaque

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I’ve already made a beautiful keepsake of Veronika’s footprints with paint, and today we tried a version made with clay! I had leftover air-dry clay from a project with Travis, so it was the perfect opportunity for Veronika to play with this material.

Roll out a large piece of clay with a rolling pin until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Be sure to let your little one watch, even though they are too young to help with the process!

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Use a bowl and knife to cut out a circle large enough for both your baby’s footprints.

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Here’s the hard part: hold your baby carefully and press one foot into the clay at a time. This might be a bit uncomfortable for them, and indeed poor Veronika let out a little cry! So you’ll notice that her prints are not very deep or pronounced, but at least I was able to capture the size and shape.

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Punch two holes in the top using a straw, then lay the plaque flat to dry.

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Once dry, thread a pretty ribbon through the holes, and you’ll have a beautiful plaque to display.

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Don’t forget the name and date!

Valentine’s Poetry & Signs

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With a clever little template to follow from Raddish Kids, Travis wrote his first poems this Valentine’s Day! I loved guiding him through the project, and the final result makes the perfect Valentine’s gift for a teacher, family member, or friend.

First, we brainstormed a list of three categories: things that were red; things that were blue; and things that were sweet. He had some very definite opinions about what to include i.e. blackberries are bluish purple, not black, so they could go on the list.

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What ensued was a sort of Mad Libs game. I read the original poem to him first:

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

Sugar is sweet,

And so are you.

Using the lists he’d made, we slotted in a new word for each line.

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The results were adorably hilarious, and will likely be so different from anything you’d come up with!

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Overall, this was a great way to introduce poetry to my four-year-old, and a fun way to make some last-minute Valentine’s cards.

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For still more language fun this holiday, teach your kids to sign ‘I love you’ in American Sign Language. Here’s his super excited face working out how to properly make the sign with his fingers!

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Travis and I decided this can be our secret way to say the words at school drop off, now.


Gingerbread Pancakes

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These pancakes, redolent with ginger and other spices, are the perfect version to make on a winter morning.

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They’re especially nice around the holidays, but you can’t go wrong with them on any dark winter morning!


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 and 1/2 cups non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 Ener-G eggs
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  1. In a large bowl combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. Set aside. (Note: we didn’t have ground allspice, but the pancakes were plenty spiced without it!).
  2. Whisk together the vinegar and milk, and let sit for 5 minutes. Combine the milk mixture in a bowl with the molasses, Ener-G eggs, and canola oil
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring just until combined.
  4. Heat a griddle coated with cooking spray and add about 1/3 cup batter per pancake. Cook until bubbles form on top, then flip and cook 1 to 2 minutes on the other side.

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We liked these with just a pat of Earth Balance butter, but optional toppings include sliced banana, powdered sugar, or sauteed pears.

To continue the fun, Travis and I also explored ginger in all its forms. I presented him with ground ginger, crystallized ginger, and a fresh ginger root.

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He loved taking little nibbles of the crystallized  ginger, delighting in how it was sweet and spicy all at once.

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The ginger root was a big hit. First we smelled it…

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…then tested what would happen when we grated it.

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He marveled at how the firm root became soft and wet, in just moments.

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This is a great way to talk kids about using all the senses with an ingredient, since they can touch, taste, see, and smell the varieties. You can even add pickled ginger to your exploration, if you like!

Finally, this recipe makes a great gift. Just layer the dry ingredients in a pretty jar, add instructions for adding wet ingredients at home, and present to a party hostess, friend, or family member.

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Spiced Cider Gifts

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If you’re still making the holiday rounds in this pause between Christmas and New Years, and need a last minute gift, this spiced cider recipe has you covered! The idea was the bonus recipe from Travis’s December Raddish Kids crate. The mulling spices make a fantastic hostess gift, especially if you’re attending a New Year’s Eve party.

First, let’s just admire the way Raddish presents recipes to kids. Clear step-by-step pictures mean even non-readers can tell what happens in each stage of the recipe!

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Travis and I talked a lot about the ingredients as we worked. To start, he helped me use a peeler to peel long strips from 2 oranges.

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He was fascinated to see the white pith underneath, and to learn that the juicy orange fruit was buried even below that.

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Place the orange peel on a baking sheet and bake at 200 degrees F for 30 minutes, until dried and slightly curled.

Next, we smelled whole cinnamon sticks. Fun fact: tell your child these are the bark of a tree, unlike other spices. Place the sticks from 1 small jar into a zip-top bag and crush with a rolling pin.

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In a bowl, combine the orange peel, cinnamon, 3 tablespoons whole allspice, 3 tablespoons whole cloves, and 1/2 cup dried cranberries.

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You can make the recipe right away, of course, instead of gifting it! For every cup of apple cider, add 1 tablespoon mulling spices, and simmer for 10 minutes. If you use the whole pack of mulling spice, that’s a 1/2 gallon of cider.

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Our Raddish Kit helpfully included gift tags, to attach to mason jars.

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Come serving time, an extra cinnamon stick makes a perfect garnish.

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Cinnamon Ornaments

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Did you know you could make dough just from cinnamon and applesauce? Nor I, but here’s the perfect dough to craft holiday ornaments, thanks to Travis’s Ranger Rick Jr.. Once the cinnamon is in the oven, your whole house will smell like Christmas!

Travis loved concocting the dough. Simply dump in 1 (2-ounce) jar of cinnamon into a bowl. Careful to pour slowly so you don’t get cinnamon in your face!

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Add 4 ounces applesauce, stirring until very well combined.

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Turn the dough out onto a cutting board and use a rolling pin to flatten to about 1/4-inch thick.

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Travis was so excited we got to use our holiday-shaped cookie cutters for the first time since last Christmas.

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He loved selecting which shape to use each time we rolled the dough.

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Carefully transfer to a baking sheet.

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Use a toothpick to poke a hole in each ornament, then bake at 200 degrees F for 20 minutes.

The instructions says to thread pretty ribbon through the holes, but the toothpick holes were much too small for this. Next time I would punch out holes with a straw. Thinking quickly, we threaded the ornaments onto pipe cleaners, instead.

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Thread several onto one pipe cleaner (or ribbon) for a pretty garland, or make singles to hang as ornaments. Either way, these would also be wonderful to give away as gifts!

Stamped Garden Gloves

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As camp season comes to a close, we’re thinking about gifts to thank Travis’s counselors for a wonderful few weeks in the sun. In keeping with all that outdoor time they’ve spent with your children for the summer, consider these kid-painted garden gloves as a parting gift!

To make the project extra fun, we bought puffy fabric paints in pretty pastels, and instead of using paintbrushes, we turned pencil erasers into our tool of choice.

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Squeeze out the paints onto a paper plate.

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Dip a pencil eraser in a color, and stamp onto the gloves.

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Travis made a set decorated with multi-colored dots.

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Meanwhile I showed him a slightly more deliberate method of painting: purple dots in bunches of three to be purple grapes. A little brush of green paint for the leaves completes the look. Older kids will love making this version.

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To present as a gift, simply wrap up the gloves with a seed packet of herbs and some twine. They would make a wonderful hostess gift for any summer friends you visit, as well.

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