21 Car Games for Kids

Holiday travel is upon us and it’s time to share some car games for kids!  If you’re like us, you don’t want your children to be glued to the DVD player or gaming devices the entire trek over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house.

What’s a parent to do?

I’m so happy to tell you there is an overabundance of options!  Win!!!

21 Car Games for Kids from the New Lighter Life

Some of the ideas below are crafty and some need to be purchased.  The age range on these games varies considerably.  Maybe it’s just my kids, but my older children liked to the younger children activities too…so I didn’t even to attempt to separate out by age-appropriateness.

I’m sure you’ll find some great ideas to ease the boredom!

Games to Make

1.  Button Snake

Simply cut some felt squares and put a slit in the middle of each one, (except for one of them).  Sew some webbing or wide rick rack to the square that doesn’t have the slit.  Next sew a button to the other end of the webbing/rick rack.  Voila!

DIY Felt Button Snake Travel Toy

 

2.  Velcro Building Sticks

This is super easy to make.  Just buy some popsicles (you can purchase them dyed or dye them yourself) and add sticky-backed velcro to the ends.  My kids LOVED this.

Beware.  If you have a little guy that likes to make swords, he will make swords out of these sticks.

Velcro Popsicle Sticks Travel Game

 

3.  Color Swatch Matchup

Again, very easy to make.  This was a bit challenging for my 3 year old to match up.

Color Swatch Matchup Game

 

4.  Keep the Coins by The Vintage Mother

I love this idea!  My children are always looking for gum money and the idea of keeping your change is motivating!

Keep the Coins Travel Game

 

 

5.  Pipe Cleaner and Pony Beads

Yep…for real.  Just some pipe cleaners and Pony Beads and my 2 younger kids were entertained for at least 20 minutes.

Pipe Cleaners and Pony Beads Travel Game

 

6.  Homemade Color (or Colour) Book by Craftulate

I LOVE this idea from Craftulate!!!  We are road-tripping soon and this is on my to-do list!

Homemade Color Book from Craftulate

 

7.  Crayon Roll

There are so many different options for making a crayon roll to hold a notepad.  I whipped this puppy up in about a half an hour, but you can find some inspiration and ideas to make your very own, here.

Crayon Roll for Traveling

 

 

 

8.  DIY Travel Geoboard by Left Brain Craft Brain

Wow!!!  Seriously, this is so smart!!

DIY Travel Geoboard

 

9.  Magnetic Tangram Puzzle by Delia Creates

Travel Tangram Game

 

10.  Tic Tac Toe photocredit Canadian Family

Travel Tic Tac Toe

 

 

11.  Portable Lego Box by Fun at Home with Kids

Head over to Fun at Home with Kids and print the cards out!  If you need some random lego pieces to be able to complete the puzzles, Bricks and Minifigs has loose legos you can buy!  If you don’t have a store near you, make up your own puzzle cards, buy more legos, or beg and borrow from friends.

Portable Lego Kit

 

12.  Magnetic Peg People

This was such a fun little project!  I used a left over tin to house our family.  Once I was done painting the people and spraying with sealer, I added pieces of magnet to the bottom of them so they could stand on the tin during play. Sew a pillow and throw in a piece of fabric, you have a bed for the family.

Portable & Magnetic Peg Family

 

13.  Friendship Bracelets

There are a whole bunch of instructions on how to make different friendship bracelet patterns, here.  You can also search for printable friendship bracelet patterns and gather supplies for your little crafter.

Friendship Bracelet Kit

Games to Buy

14.  Magnatab

This little board is mesmerizing!!  As you “draw” the pen over the board, the beads come to the front.  Love it!

Magnatab a Great Travel Game

15.  Mad Libs

Totally fun for the kiddos and they get to brush up on their grammar.

Mad Libs

 

16.  These Water Wow books were a HUGE hit!!

You can buy them on Amazon and they have a whole variety of themes.  Individually they are only about $5 so they are a great deal.

Water Wow Books for Kids Traveling

17.  Lacing Cards

Take a few of these out and have a nice little travel size project for the kids.  We used different lacing cards but my kids enjoy doing this and it doesn’t make a mess. Okay, truth be told – I attempted to make lacing photo frames but the laces kept getting snagged on the finish project so I now opt for the store-bought versions.

Lacing Cards for Travel

 

18.  Doodle Pro is a classic travel toy.  Bonus is that there is no mess.

Doodle Pro Trip

 

19.  Spot It! on the Road

I Spy but with cards.

spot it

 

20.  Travel Memory

Since this is completely contained, there is no worry of losing pieces.

Travel Memory

 

21.  DryErase Dot to Dot

I also love games that are reusable.

DryErase Dot to Dot

So those are some of our favorite car games for kids.  We ration out the games so they do not get bored as easily.  Also on a round trip trek, we save some of the games for the return ride

How about you?  Do you have a particular game that you absolutely love for road trips?

 

Low Carb Loaded Baked Faux-tato Casserole

I’m really excited to get to share this Low Carb Loaded Baked Faux-Tato Casserole!  I’m an Irish girl and I LOVE potatoes but they are not always conducive to my eating plan.  But I promise, you won’t even miss the potatoes in my revamped casserole.  (if you’re into potatoes, you can find the original recipe, here)

For today, I give you…

low carb baked potato casseroleLoaded Baked Faux-Tato Casserole

Serves 6

  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut up into florets
  • 1 lb. ground beef, browned
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1 c. mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 c. bacon, cooked and cut up
  • 1/4 c. butter, melted
  • 1/2 pkg ranch dressing mix
  • 1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place the cut up cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl, cover loosely, and microwave on high for 4 minutes.  Drain cauliflower of all the water and place it and the cooked beef into an ungreased 9X13-inch pan.

In a large bowl, combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, onion powder, bacon, butter and dressing.

Gently toss sour cream mixture with beef and cauliflower.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until hot and bubbly.   Sprinkle with cheese the last 10 minutes of baking.

Approx. nutrition info per serving:  574 calories, 46g fat, 4g net carbs, 35g protein.

Click the image below to print this recipe.

Loaded Baked Faux Tato Casserole

How to DIY a Twig Christmas Tree

I’ve been swooning over a twig Christmas tree for a couple years now.  In all fairness, I think it’s actually more adequately called a driftwood tree…but tomato tomata.

Today I’m going to share with you how how you can DIY your very own Twig Christmas Tree for less than $5 in materials.

How we remade the Twig Tree

First, here is the original inspiration.  I saw this photo probably a hundred times on Pinterest.  I fell in love.
christmas tree

(I’d love to give proper credit to whoever made this beauty but I’m unable to find the original source)

Isn’t it GORGEOUS!!!  I mean really.  I LOVE it!!

Why this kind of tree for Christmas?

Last year was our first Christmas in a home after full-time RVing, we were sparse on the Christmas decorations!  Meaning, we had Christmas stockings – that is it.  In the past, artificial trees have been our tree of choice because of how easy cleanup is with them.

We decided to keep our spending to a minimum last year…

Enter our very own Twig Christmas Tree.

This beauty was so easy to make, I’m kicking myself for not making one while we lived in an RV!

So here is how we did it!

How to DIY a Twig Christmas Tree

Materials:
  • branches
  • jute string or twine
  • staple gun and staples
  • two angle aids:  scrap wood, string, or tape measurer long enough to lay along the side.
  • saw (circular or scroll)
Directions:
  1. Find the stud on the wall you plan to hang your twig tree.  Measure to figure out what the optimal width your tree should be.
  2. Gather twigs that are a similar diameter and are fairly straight.
  3. Lie them out on the ground to get them to the desired graduated pattern. (See that stump at the bottom? We were winging it and ended up NOT using it so let’s just pretend it’s not there.)twig tree how to
  4. Using one of your angle aids, lie the aid on the side of your “tree” to get the desired angle of  your tree.twig tree ~ lining up angels
  5. Move the twigs flush up against your chosen angle aid.
  6. Take another similar angle aid and lie it on the other side of your “tree”.twig tree with angles on both sides
  7. Following the 2nd angle aid, mark a line on your twigs to be cut.
  8. Using a saw, cut along the mark to shorten your twigs. Cutting twigs down to size - twig tree
  9. Remove and small branches from your twigs.
  10. Make sure your tree branches are positioned how you want them to be as a finished project.
  11. Tie your jute to one end of the bottom twig (the longest one), then staple it in place.  Wrap the jute once and staple in place again.jute wrapped twig tree
  12. Bringing the same piece of jute up to the next rung, wrap it around the twig 2 times, (the jute should be positioned slightly angled in), staple the jute in place.Wrapping twig tree with jute
  13. Continue this process until you get to the top rung.  Finish this angled side of by wrapping the jute a couple of times around the rung and tieing the end off.  Staple in place one last time.
  14. Repeat the jute tieing, stapling, and wrapping process on the others angle of the tree.
  15. Holding you tree up agains the wall, check to make sure it is positioned as you’d like.
    NOTE:  When we put our twig tree on our wall, we noticed we put some of the rungs too far apart so we wrapped the jute one more time around some of the branches.
  16. When you are happy with your tree, lay the twig tree down on the floor again and reienforce with staples again.Twig Tree DIY Almost Finished
  17. Wrap your Twig Christmas Tree with lights.twig tree wrapped with lights
  18. Hang the tree with the staples hidden against the wall. (we simply drilled a hole through the top run of our tree and screwed a large screw through it and into the stud)
To Hang:
  1. Hold the tree up against the wall (it’s heavy), drill a hole through the horizontal center of the top rung.
  2. Find the stud again and screw a 3 inch screw in through the drilled hole in the rung and into the stud.
  3. Have fun decorating!

So this is what we did last year and that time of year is just around the corner!  (can you believe it?!?!?)

Admittedly,  I regret not taking better pictures last year.  I will totally update with better pics once we pull this puppy out of the decorations.

This was such a fun little project for us.  Okay…I’ll be real and tell you that Mark and I didn’t see eye to eye on different aspects of the project, but once it was finished we gave each other a high five and a kiss.  Success!!

diy driftwood twig christmas tree

8 Unique Window Treatment Ideas

Nothing finishes a room or adds charm like custom window treatments.  So today I’m sharing 8 of my favorite unique window treatment ideas gathered from around the web.8 Unique and Affordable Window Treatment Ideas

Back to what seems like ages ago, I posted about our custom made RV curtains for our Class A.  Okay, y’all…there are some limitations with an RV.

But we stopped RVing almost 2 years ago and I’m oohing and aahing over the options out there!  I may need to have an intervention done on me! You see for simplicity sake, I bought premade curtains from Target, but wow…the inspiration here is mighty tempting.  Help!?!  I’m so so tempted to make some changes.

Please check out the linked websites to see how these beauties were made.

Anthropologie-inspired lace curtains from Upcycled Treasures:
377cc4290327c85d326323136f79217c

 

$7 Burlap Sack Valance from Funky Junk Interiors:

coffee-bean-sack-window-shades-0329

Burlap Window Treatment by Plum Doodles:

Booth-Displays-wm_thumb

I can’t find the source for this as a DIY project but Hobby Lobby has metal corner brackets that would be gorgeous for a unique window treatment similar to this look.

tumblr_mvx17muzim1rjp1q9o1_500

Rustic burlap curtains with adorable pom-poms from The Little Umbrella:

img_5868-0x600

 

A DIY Window Valance from I Heart Naptime:

DIY-Window-Valance-copy

 

This one isn’t so much a window treatment as it is a gorgeous way to add elegance to a room through your curtain hardware.  Use a curved shower curtain rod to hang floor-length curtains.  Stunning!!

(curtains in image below come from Soft Surroundings)

f670d7039e8369798166b116830ece88

 

This adorable twig curtain rod from Primitive and Proper:IMG_0727

 

Anybody else get lost in window treatment ideas??  Please tell me I’m not alone!

 

Easy Morning Routine System – Self-Sufficient Kids

How many of you have a morning routine system for your family?

Maybe mornings at your home look similar to how mine did 6 months ago.  You know, the little creatures wake up and hang around in the pajamas until you lose your cool and start yelling.  Don’t you dare tell me that my kids are the only ones that have the propensity to go into super-slow mo while whining and complaining about getting ready?! Ha!

I was so sick of nagging the kids to get ready.  I needed a solution.

easy-morning-routine-chart

Look, if you have little people running around, (or laying around) not doing anything to get going, it gets frustrating fast.

Personally, I’d tell them multiple times to do something as simple as get dressed or put dirty laundry in the hamper.  For real, these are such simple tasks but my kiddos outnumber me.  And let’s face it, I’m busy trying to get my day underway too.  So I had to figure out a way to get them on board with a routine.   Scratch that, I needed to find a way to get them excited about getting everything done.  AND I had to remove the nag-factor.

My very intellegent friend gave me a SUPER simple and effective tool that has been awesome for my kids!  My *almost* 11 year old even gets into this and I’m no longer the nagging mom.  As a bonus…this is easy to throw together and basically no fuss. (like really you can write this on a blank piece of paper…so read on)

Here it is…

How the Morning Routine System works:

  1. First determine what time you need your children to have all their tasks completed. (for us this is 8 am)
  2. On a piece of paper, list their names, routines, and any special jobs for each child.
  3. Place the routine paper on fridge or somewhere in a central location.
  4. Gather reward stickers and prize bucket.
  5. Explain to your children how it all works, what’s expected, and the reward.
  6. Remind them for a day or two, (especially for littles who can’t read) and watch them gain ownership of their morning.
  7. At the designated time, check to see where your children are with their morning routine.  If they’ve accomplished everything, they get a sticker.
  8. On the 4th day, they get a sticker and a prize from the prize bucket.

So what’s in this prize bucket??

prize-box-balloons

Yes, balloons.  My kids LOVE balloons.  ($0.01/each)

 

prize-box-books

Coloring books and activity pads ($1/each).

 

prize-box-candy

Candy!  Now’s a great time to steal back that Halloween candy for the prize box. (FREE)

 

prize-box-stickers

Sticker sheets.  We just added Christmas stickers. ($0.18/each)

 

prize-box-toys

Dollar store toys. ($0.50 – $1/each)

Some more ideas…

Gum, quarters, a media pass (10 min. or more), sticker sheet, etc.  Make it inexpensive but something your kids will look forward to earning.

Introduction Phase

The first couple of days, my kids, (especially my 2 littlest) had a hard time getting the concept.  I gave them quite a few reminders but they still didn’t do their tasks.  They figured out pretty quickly when they didn’t get a sticker and that means no prize.  HALLELUJAH!!

*disclaimer* This ONLY works if you enforce the routine and sticker chart.  You have to take 3 minutes to check what they did and assign the stickers.
(I realize this is a no-brainer but I found that I got a little relaxed and my kids reverted back to their old habits)

Customizable & Printable

Just to save you a couple of minutes, I’ve uploaded a customizable routine chart, (made in excel) for you to tweak till your heart’s content.

Customizable Routine Chart

All the boxes are there and the shading for the reward day, you just need fill in the information to suit your needs.  (If you are curious about my font, I used  Archistico Bold for the bold font and Dawning of a New Day).

You can seriously take a blank piece of paper and draw out your routine if you don’t want to type anything (so don’t let that get in the way).

I’d love to hear if this is working for you, so please share if you implement this!

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Easy Morning Routine System

Why Adults Should be Coloring

So I realize I’m late to the party…but I must admit, I stuck my nose up at the idea of adults coloring.  If you are over the age of 14 and not coloring, today I’m going to make a case for why you should be coloring. ASAP.

why-adults-should-color

I’ve seen these coloring books around for months and I chalked it up as silliness.  Like really…who has time to color?!  You see in these highly responsible life of schedules, goals, work, and projects there is absolutely no time for such a frivolous activity.  Or so I thought.

Here’s the deal…

IMG_3447

About a month ago, I was on my way to D.C. with my dear friend, Nicole.  She had all sorts of activity books for the flight.  I thumbed my nose at the idea.  Until we got up in the air.  I’m furiously working on some Photoshop edits and I look over to see her just enjoying her flight.  Whaaaa?

By the end of our 1st flight, I was doing one of her dot-to-dots, (which is a whole other blog post). Ha!

I eventually moved over to her coloring book and heavens to Betsy!!

I. Was. Hooked.

IMG_3449

Every flight after, the flight attendants stopped to talk to us about adult coloring. It was like the Sisterhood of the Traveling Coloring Books.  Okay…not really but I’m telling you, there is some major bonding over coloring.

I picked up this gorgeous little coloring book in the airport and I adore it!

 

You can buy it here, from Amazon.  There are loads and loads of neat coloring books but what I like about this one in particular is that it has inspirational quotes and scriptures throughout, perforated sheets, and one-sided designs, (perfect for coloring with markers).

Here is my case for them…

Why Adults Should be Coloring

  1. Diminishes Stress.  Let’s face it, as a whole, we are stressed out!  And you know how I’m in time management mode?  Well more than anything, I notice that my friends are also running around ragged.  We will never have enough time to do everything.  Coloring is so very relaxing and is super for getting rid of stress.
  2. Bonding Opportunity.  My kids love to color but I rarely feel satisfaction or desire to color Elsa or Strawberry Shortcake.  With my adult coloring book, I look for excuses to get to color with them.  We talk, laugh, and just plain enjoy our time together where I’m fully engaged with them.
  3. Decorations.  With the right coloring book, you can really create some beautiful pictures with basically no skill whatsoever.  I have a few I’m planning to frame.
  4. Vision & Fine Motor Skills.  How many of us sit at a computer, (or in front of our smartphones) for much of the day? I know I do and that doesn’t help my vision.  Coloring not only helps vision but also fine motor skills.  Yay!!
  5. Low Cost.  You can buy fancy books, pencils, & markers for coloring but it can also be very minimal cost to get all those amazing benefits if you’re on a budget.

Adults Coloring Books

And on that last point, I have amassed a few *ahem* (okay a ridiculous amount) of adult coloring resources on my pinterest board if you’d like to see some of the jewels I’ve found.

Kicked Up Steak Rub

I LOVE a good steak but this kicked up steak rub recipe is so yummy and spicy – it’ll knock your socks off! But before I go there…

Somehow almost a whole year has passed since I posted to this blog! That was one serious hiatus!

Good news is…it’s over!!  And I’m back to regular posting.

Spicy Steak Rub SeasoningKicked Up Steak Rub

For my celebratory post back, I’m sharing with you our very favorite steak rub.  We used to eat steaks out at restaurants, but this rub is so good, I rarely even want a restaurant steak anymore.  This is far better than some of the upscale steaks we’ve had out.  It’s our absolute favorite!  I got this from a friend years ago, and we’ve made it ever since!

It is fantastic!
It is tasty!
It will kick you in the hiney!

Spicy Steak Rub

My kids, who do not like spicy foods, even like this rub but I use less rub for their steak.
IMG_3366

Note:

Adjust the amount of the rub to you preference.

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander

Directions:

Mix the spices in a bowl.  Sprinkle mixture over steak. Rub the seasoning into the steak. Flip, repeat for the other side.  Grill steaks according to your preferences.

Spicy Steak Rub Recipe

Click the image below to print this recipe.

Kicked Up Steak Rub Recipe