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Sugar Cookie Making {dairy free}

Sugar Cookie Making {dairy free}

We had our good friends over on New Year’s Eve, making cookies into the night. We then moved on to prosecco while the kids played, snuck out for a quick bite (it’s a good thing I have a 14 year old built-in babysitter), and watched the ball drop in our own beds at midnight. It was a lovely and quite perfect way to start fresh in 2014. Plus, I got to eat cookies all New Year’s day!

sugar cookie making {dairy free} | art bar

Making cookies with my kids around the holidays has become my absolute favorite tradition. It’s messy and takes all day, but they are so happy. And I love watching them choose their colors and use their best fine motor skills to create their pirates, penguins, stars and hearts. And hammers.

sugar cookie making {dairy free} | art bar

sugar cookie making {dairy free} | art bar

sugar cookie making {dairy free} | art bar

This year, I made our recipe dairy-free, and used half sugar-half coconut crystals (sap from a coconut that is crystalized and looks and tastes like brown sugar without the processing). I really wanted a cookie that I could eat that didn’t make me feel as guilty. Plus, we are dairy-free in our house. So I replaced the butter with Earth’s Balance. Here’s the recipe I used, but you can use any recipe and replace the butter. The kids did not taste the difference at all, except that the “healthy” cookies were a little darker.

sugar cookie making {dairy free} | art bar

This picture is my favorite. She worked so long and hard on creating these amazing, colorful, sparkly cookies and was so proud to show them to me. LOVE!

Here’s hoping your new year is off to a nice, mellow pace. Let me know if you have any good dairy-free cookie recipes of your own to share!

xo, Bar



T-Shirt Bunting

T-Shirt Bunting

With three growing kids, we collect a lot of t-shirts. Some of them end up in quilts, others I give to Good Will. I save many, though, because they are un-hand-me-downable. T-shirts from school walk-athons, soccer teams, variety shows…the ones that no one else would wear. The ones I use for projects!

Here’s what you need to make this bunting:

T-shirts {cut into 4 x 5 1/2″ pieces}

Twill tape in two colors {4 yard pieces}

Rotary cutter + board {or good fabric scissors}


Sewing Machine

For this bunting, I wanted a Spring color theme. I chose blues and light grays. I cut out about 50 pieces, but only ended up using 21. I laid them out on the table and arranged them in a random order. Then I carefully pinned each piece between the two different colored twill tapes. Using a wide zig-zag stitch, I ran the bunting through the sewing machine. Voila! I would say this project was very easy. You need the right supplies (a rotary cutter really helps, and also a sewing machine), but it is not difficult at all.

I love the end result. It is playful and colorful and I bet you will see it in future photos…lurking in the background. Start saving those t-shirts!


Gallery Wall // Children’s Art

Gallery Wall // Children’s Art

I have collected lots of my children’s art over the years. I have some in boxes, some framed, some taped up, and some hanging from string. But mostly, I have piles. We use some of the art in the piles for projects and birthday cards. The other stuff I plan on hanging up. However, I am stuck! Do I switch out the stuff in frames, create a new wall, hang it in my living room or maybe in the bathroom? Or their bedrooms? I have been scouring Pinterest for ideas so I thought I would share them with you. If you are type A, look away. I have mostly chosen gallery walls that cluster and mix children’s paintings with other art. I love this look, but it can border on messy (“artistic”) if you’re not careful. Limiting clustered art to one wall is the trick!

Here are four different ways to display your child’s art. {I will try to source the photos, but some of them just float around on Pinterest, sourceless.}

Gallery wall // Hang on a line

Hang on a line with clips or clothespins. Easy and cost effective: {from top left, clockwise} Ikea clips // Amsterdam home // sweet dreams // strip of wood // art room {our home} // work space // inspiration wall

Gallery wall // Art on a ledge

Prop art up on a ledge, mix in photographs and other found objects. A more organized look: {from top left, clockwise} small art // mudroom {our home} // art studio // kitchen // Swedish bedroom

Gallery wall // kids art

Hanging art in a cluster is an art in and of itself! {Click here to see how it’s done}. But it can look so cool that it’s worth the effort: {from top left, clockwise} living room // bedroom {our home} // hallway // den // bathroom // common area

Gallery wall // taped art

Last, but not least, the easiest way to hang your child’s art is to let them hang it themselves! Whether pinning to cork, using magnets or just plain old tape {love the washi tape frames}, it’s a really fun and free way to display talent: {from top left, clockwise} cork wall // craft room // dining room // her own creative space // office

These selections are just a few of many (so many!). To dig deeper, click on some of the links and they will lead you to more photos. Or come see my Pinterest boards where I have pinned oodles of artistic and eclectic ideas!

Good luck! Let me know what you decide (and I’ll do the same).



Candy Wrapper Halloween Banner

Candy Wrapper Halloween Banner

It’s now 5 days until Halloween, and my kids are at their breaking point with me. I brought the Halloween boxes up two weeks ago but they are still sitting in the living room untouched. Until today that is! I found a ziploc bag full of candy wrappers and remembered that I had meant to make a candy wrapper banner last year. So, despite thoughts of cavities/promoting junk food running through my head, I made the banner. And whadyaknow? It’s pretty sweet.

It’s a multi-step process, but not hard. It took me about two hours from start to finish.


String (I used Divine Twine, but black string would be better)

Large Needle

Colored paper (mine is from Staples)

Scissors, pencil, double-sided tape

Candy wrappers (I also threw in a few muffin papers for extra green)

To make the letters, I folded the paper lengthwise into three sections. This way, I knew the letters would be the same height. I drew the letters freehand and cut them out. I used double-sticky tape to attach the letters to the black paper. Next, I laid out the letters and the wrappers. Then I started from the end, and wove my needle in and out of each piece. I made sure to pull the first wrapper (which will actually be the wrapper at the end, to the furthest right) far, far down the thread so I had enough room to add everything.

That’s it! I attached it to my fireplace mantle on the little hooks that I use to hang stockings.

I’m not much of a black + orange girl, so this colorful banner makes me happy. My kids will be so proud!

This banner would also look really cute (ok, cuter actually) if it said “trick-or-treat”.

Happy Candy Day!




Wall of Sight Words

Wall of Sight Words

My son is six and learning to read. To learn his sight words, we use little cards and put about 10-15 in a baggie next to his bed. Once he knows them cold, we tape them to his wall. Now that we have so many up there, we can make full sentences!

Me: The old fly can look this way and that.

Him: People who find number two like each other. (Fits of laughter.)

Me: Many old people walk into each other. (Uncontrollable laughter.)

Him: You can just walk there to do number two. (Wetting his pants with laughter.) 

As you can tell, every sentence for him involves ‘number two’ which I innocently taped next to each other. But I will take potty humor as long as there is laughter and learning!

Tip: Only put the words they know cold up on the wall, this way it makes playing the sentence game fun and not work. They are proud of their growing knowledge!


Neighborhood Art Show

Neighborhood Art Show

I’ve always wanted to do an Art Show at my house. We have a unique neighborhood with a plethora of kids, so why not collect their art and display it for all to see? Made perfect sense to me! It was also a great way to teach the kids a few things: Follow through on an idea, work together as a community, feel proud of their creativity, and raise money for a good cause. All of the money they earned was used towards buying backpacks filled with school supplies for needy kids in our area.

Here is how you can make it happen:

1. Collect art. Send out an e-mail to the neighborhood moms asking them to please consider dropping off some of their kids’ art for this cool art show idea. I would suggest starting well in advance, maybe two weeks before the show. Make sure to tell them that it will be easy, just grab anything they have collecting in a pile (we all have piles, right?), or things that are framed already. We ended up with about 65% participation, which was great for our first try!

2. Label art. We used neon labels that we stuck on index cards, cut out, then taped at the bottom of each piece. Tape lightly on the back of the art so that you can peel them off easily when returning.

3. Hang art. I used large rolls of kraft paper to cover my walls (the paper covered up my own permanent art), then I rolled up pieces of scotch tape to adhere to the back of each peice. I also used clothespins and line to hang some of the art.

4. Make fliers. Deliver to neighbors and friends.

5. Make a cool sign. Buy balloons. We made the sign by cutting out letters from old paintings, gluing them to craft paper, then outlining the letters with a white pen.

6. Make treats. We all pitched in to make treats. One of my neighbors even set up a Pizza Frita station! Big hit.

7. Open the doors…let the Art Show begin! It was so much fun to have my house covered with beautiful, colorful art. Parents were proud, kids were proud, everyone was happy. It was awesome!

8. (Optional) Collect the money and donate to the charity of your choice. You can certainly have an art show that is free without linking to a charity. For us, though, it gave everyone a purpose. And the kids got to practice their “pitch” to each person who entered the show. Good life skill, I say!

We had a very successful Art Show. We earned $405 dollars which we used to buy 8 backpacks filled with school supplies for our local charity Person-to-Person. Eight very happy children were able to go to their first day of school with all of their supplies, ready to learn.

I’m so proud of our neighborhood, way to go!!

Red + White + Blue

Red + White + Blue

Today I made a collage of my own personal photos. I have always loved reds and blues, but now these colors have a whole new meaning in my life.

Two years ago, on July 3rd, I was sworn in as a US citizen. It was about time! I had put it off for years, thanks to a serious (and incurable, I’m afraid) case of chronic paperwork-itis. Becoming a citizen of the place where I have lived most of my life was a huge milestone in itself, the bonus was that it was a day before the birthday of my new country.

Tomorrow my family and I will say thanks to the patriots who gave us a free and independent America. I will read to them about the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence. These men of means and education who had security, but valued liberty more.

Happy July 4th to everyone!

The Art Room

The Art Room

Our art room at home.

It’s right off the kitchen with sliding glass doors to keep the mess contained. It’s bright and sunny and indestructible. For many years, we couldn’t have any of the supplies down low. We always had a little one crawling or toddling around. Now that my youngest is five, I am able to keep the supplies out and right at hand. My kids, the neighborhood kids, play dates, cousins…they are all allowed to help themselves to supplies whenever the mood strikes them. Sometimes a tray of white paper and a basket of markers is all they need!

Tip: Keep some art supplies hidden away, and rotate them in. Keep the shelves clean and on the bare side. Less choices are better for the little ones.