How to make your own Photo Ornaments

This year for Christmas I wanted to try something fun to make my family for Christmas. So I decided to make these wooden photo block ornaments. Each of my kids faces got their own side of the block and then one picture of the three of them together. They were such a hit that after Christmas I received so many messages from people who saw them and wanted to order them from me. I thought I would make a tutorial on how I made mine instead (just seems easier on me).


• Wooden Blocks (how ever many you are making)
You can buy these wooden cubes at Michaels I am told or you can have them cut at home depot like I did. Just buy a 1.75 inch by 4 foot square board of wood and ask the gents at the back to cut it into 1.75x1.75 inch cubes.
• A roll of twine or ribbon (what ever color you like)
• Some acrylic paint for the edges (again what ever color you are going with)
• 1 inch Screw Eye hooks (they have gold and silver)
• Matte finish Mod Podge
• A size 16 flat paint brush for the Mod Podge
• A size 4 flat paint brush for the acrylic paint
• A good pair of craft scissors or a cutting slicer
• Photos printed into 1.75x1.75 size. I made a template for 4 1.75x1.75 squares across and 6 down on a 12x8 JPEG (I have a listing in my Etsy shop to drop your photos into the template for you with the designs I have used here and send you back a ready to print hi res JPEG. To check it out click here -----> Photo Block Ornaments drop in photos )

Well this one is easy. Send the photos to print. I designed the top and bottom of my photo blocks and then used photos for each side but I had all of them printed as one 12x8 photo as you see below. Costco online one hour photo on the matte finish. Easy peasy.
Cut out all the squares on your photo with good craft scissors or a cutting slicer. I placed every square photo over each block in its final location to make sure the cut was perfect and trimmed off extra that I thought was not lining up properly. It is WAY easier to do several of these at once because of the drying time you can work on others while others dry.

Once you have all the squares cut out put them a side. Using your size 4 flat paint brush paint all the edges of the each wooden block with the color you will later use on the trim.

Now use your size 16 flat brush to start Mod Podging on your photos to the wooden block. I suggest putting the glue on the block instead of the photo for two reasons. Reason one is because it for some reason sticks and holds on way better when applied this way and two cause you can move the photo into the perfect position better as it does hold it well but allows for more controlled movement. I did two sides at a time on each block and then let them dry while I did 2 more sides on another block.

 Once you have placed the photos and the designs on all 6 sides Mod Podge all over the photos and the block as neatly as possible but make sure to coat them well. Again I did two sides at a time and then let that dry cause if its too stick and you touch it you will leave a forever fingerprint in the glue on your nice wooden photo ornament.

Once all the sides have dried and you have Mod Podged all sides to seal the ornament like the picture below you can see a bit of the acrylic paint peeking through. I found that the look just wasn't right for what I was going for with out the painted trim. Using your size 4 paint brush start to roughly paint a trim around every photo. I did not try to make it a straight neat line but more of a rough brushed look.

Once the paint is dry you can Mod Podge it again to seal the paint or you can leave it as is with one coat of Mod Podge and then painted trim its up to you. I Mod Podged it again. Then using a ruler diagonally across the top of the photo block from one corner to another find the middle of the wooden block and use a pen to push the tip into the middle point. Take one of your eye hook screws and screw it into the pen tip hole. Then take a piece of the twine and tie it on the eye hook and your done!
I made a ton of these this year as gifts. The ones with my three kids was for everyone in each of our families, but I also made ones just for each grandparent. One with my kids and just their grandma and on the bottom Merry Christmas Grandma. Some more examples as show in the picture below as to how you can use these photo block ornaments as keepsakes and gifts for different occasions.

This one I made for my mother. Its pictures of her parents who have long since passed away. I thought it would be nice if they could hang on her Christmas tree so their memory could be with us at Christmas even if they can't. I place one picture of each of them alone and the two pictures of them together. On the bottom I designed a beautiful quote to tie it all together.

This one I made for a friends baby. It had 2 pictures of him and then 2 sides that had designs on them. One side was his name and then other was his full name, date of birth, weight and height. Then the bottom and top just had the chevron design.

And there you have it how to diy and make personalized photo block ornaments!


How to take care of your pet garden snail!

My oldest LOVES snails. Every day on the walk from the bus stop to our house he picks up several and moves as many as he can off the sidewalk to make sure no one steps on them. Our front porch was becoming littered with snails so I decided to let him bring in a few (meaning 2 max) of his favorite garden snails and keep them as pets. He was so excited and thought this was the greatest decision I had ever made as a mom lol!

So I researched as much as I could cause I didn't want to harm them by bringing them in.

If your only planning on having one or two snails then the below instructions will work but I have also included the modified instructions as most little snail keepers end up collecting more then just two and soon you have a heard of snails (or in snail technical terms a escargatoire of snails) in a tiny space and will need to upgrade so plan accordingly.

• 1 Gallon tank either plastic or glass with a lid. The picture above show the 1 gallon tank we started with. Snails can climb vertically so you must have a lid on the tank to keep them safe. The lid must have air holes as snails do breathe but the holes need to be small enough that they can not get through. If you plan on having more then two snails I suggest getting a 5 gallon tank cause they will breed.

• Soil. Now here is where things get a bit tricky. I wanted to have living plants in the tank with the snails so that it was like their own environment. Being a snail pet owner beginner I went out and bought organic Potting soil thinking cause its organic it would be safe for the pet garden snails but once we finished making our Snailarium and put the snails in you could see they did not like the potting soil. So I went to the local pet store and bought some Reptile "soil" but as it turns out when I got home and read the package its really shredded coconut fibers and the snails did not like it either. So back to the drawing board. What we ended up doing was putting 1 inch of the potting soil on the bottom and then 2 inches of plain old dirt we dug up under our grass in the backyard. The snails enjoy this combo a lot better and the live plants we planted in the tank are doing well and have rooted.

• Live plants. This is your choice. You can decorate the tank how ever you like. Leave it with just plain dirt, add live plants and a little a little shelter what ever you would like. I suggest not using fake platic plants as they might be pointy and the snails don't like that. For our starter 1 gallon tank we used Ivy for the live plants and they are doing well. We also added a little terra cotta pot for them as a shelter which they all seem to enjoy. When we transferred them to the 5 gallon tank we added a few more terra cotta pots, some more Ivy, and some fist size rocks to make their habitat more interesting. I also cut a strip of grass from our front lawn so they would have dirt area and a grassy area to enjoy.

• A small shallow water dish. For this we use the lid of a water bottle and filed off any pointy parts. It was small enough to have water in it but not big enough to flood the tank if it tipped over.

Thats it! In total I think the set up once I finally got it right was about $35


Snails are pretty easy to care for. They like decomposing fruits and veggies so anything your about to toss in the green bin or garbage is good. I keep a bag of Romain lettuce on hand just for them though and it lasts a few weeks. I have thrown in baby carrots, apples and cucumber as well. I have read somewhere that you need to boil the carrots first so snails can eat them, but this I found to be untrue. I put a full baby carrot in there and in 2 days it was completely gone. I add water every few days to the water bottle lid which is like their little water dish and I keep the soil moist at all times. Not wet ot he point of mud pies but damp. You will need to clean the sides and top of the tank once a week as they leave poop every where. So far I have only had to clean the glass and lid on the big 5 gallon tank and not had to change out the soil as the plants and grass take care of that mess.


Snails do not like to be in direct sunlight and are nocturnal. Its important not to put them in a spot that gets any direct sunlight as they will spend too much time in their shells sleeping and will not eat enough. In the spring and summer they will breed as snail are hermaphrodites but need another snail to mate, so if you have two in a tank you will end up with baby snails! So far we plan to collect the babies and keep them in a different tank until they are big enough to go back outside. They will need about two inches deep of soil to bury their eggs. Every once and a while give them a little chalk for calcium to help keep their shell healthy. Also if you keep them some where too cold they will hibernate. They will cover the opening into their shell with a thin layer of mucus and go into a deep sleep. Snails can see but they can not hear so putting them in a noisy area of your house will not bother them at all. Ours are in the kitchen in a shaded spot.

Hope you enjoy your snails as much as we do! Here is Herman he is the most social of our bunch. He never seems to get frightened when we walk by or when I am putting lettuce in the tank. In fact he is quite nosy and seems to follow my hand with his eyes to see what I am doing! He is also not camera shy at all :)



Decorating Pumpkins with kids with sensory processing issues

Halloween can be such a tough time for children with sensory processing issues. Its also a learning process for parents and how they can better help their child enjoy Halloween and not fear or dread it. Sometimes planning ahead, changing the way you do things and some creative parenting can make it a fun experience for your whole family.

Last year carving pumpkins was the beginning of us realizing what its really like to have a child who processes textures very differently. Terror (just shy of 2 years old then) was all excited last year to be a "big kid" and help out with carving pumpkins. Once we started Ace (5 years old) dove right in as usual and started pulling out the guts and seeds. Terror plunged his arm into his pumpkin and started screaming, he didn't stop until every bit of pumpkin was completely wiped off his arm. He acted as though we had just played the meanest trick on him. After that he wanted nothing to do with Pumpkins and didn't want to come into the kitchen until we had cleaned up and the pumpkins were outside.

This year I thought I would tackle it from a different angle to help Terror adjust, enjoy pumpkins and be part of the Halloween family tradition of carving pumpkins.

First we went to the pumpkin patch on a no stress day (meaning nothing else but that activity that day) I gave Terror tons of notice that we were going and exactly what was going to happen repeating over and over. "We are going to walk to the pumpkin patch from the car with a wagon. You can point to one and mommy will pick it up and put it in the wagon." So by the time we got there Terror (just shy of 3 years old now) was good to go. He even wanted to pull the wagon. He took a while to pick a pumpkin, much longer then my other two children. He knew he didn't have to touch it cause Mommy was going to pick it up for him but he wanted to be comfortable with the pumpkin he was asking me to touch for him.

I cleaned them all off when we got home and for a few days we left them on the porch not carved so that he got use to them being there. We talked about them a lot and how you carve them to have scary or silly faces. Once he started asking questions about the pumpkins I asked him if he want his to come inside. He said yes and I put it on the kitchen table and left it there. By the afternoon I had laid out markers, googly eyes, glue, and other craft supplies around the pumpkin and just left it all there. I did that so he could make the decision to go over and check it out. He went over shorty after I left the room and decided to decorate his pumpkin. I stayed away peeking from the family room as to not add any pressure or expectations of him making it easier for him to touch it and get comfortable. This is what he came up with. It was perfect and no stress for him. We put it outside on the porch together and he was so proud of himself.

When it came time to carve the other pumpkins I talked to him about it all day and told him he could just watch he didn't have to touch it, or he could stay in the family room and him and I would watch a movie instead. He chose to watch but not touch the pumpkins. Half way threw he grabbed a spoon and from a safe distance above the opening of the pumpkin he pretended to be stirring it. Once Ace got all the seeds out and in a bowl I washed them all off really good and left them in a bowl by the pumpkins in some water in case we found some more. After a few minutes Terror started to touch the cleaned off pumpkins seeds and soon had his whole hand in the bowl and was squishing them around. Halloween pumpkin carving was a success this year. Terror may not ever touch the inside of a pumpkin or carve one and that's ok but at least I know he will participate with us year after year now as long as we ease him into it.

Helpful tips to help your child get through their tactile issues during Pumpkin carving time:

• Let them pick the pumpkin but pick it up for them and carry it for them.
• Clean the pumpkin off and let them watch so they know you cleaned it.
• Leave them outside but talk about them every time to enter and exit the house to get them comfortable with them.
• Let your child decorate the outside of the uncarved pumpkin any way they want. As long as they are old enough leave the pumpkin and supplies on the table and let them know they can decorate the pumpkin when ever they want. Then leave their line of sight so they feel no pressure to do anything with it unless they want to. You might have to leave it out for a for hours before they even decide to go over and check it out.
 • Let them decide if they want to be part of the carving and offer an alternative activity for them to do so they know they have a choice.
• Clean off the pumpkin seeds and leave them in some water near them and so if they choose to explore the fell of the pumpkin seeds they can but again no pressure about it just casually leave it on the table and don't pay attention to it.

This is just our own personal experience with what has helped our tactile sensitive child during pumpkin carving time. I hope these ideas help others out there dealing with a tactile sensitive child at Halloween.


Oh how we LOVE cloud dough!

For the longest time Terror has had a pretty routine life as with a newborn and a 18 month old you don't have much time to think of ways to entertain the toddler. So he spent most of his time at day care this last year once Little Miss was born but now that she is over a year and has a pretty steady nap time I am constantly trying to think of things to entertain him that he would enjoy. I came across the wonder that is CLOUD DOUGH or I have heard it also called MUSEUM SAND. Terror being a tactile sensitive child I was not sure how well this was going to go over, but much to my surprise he loves it. I suggest if you have a tactile sensitive child you let them watch you make the cloud dough and then put it on the table in a container with a few of their favorite toys and then walk away. Making it no pressure if they want to try or not.
If you have not tired cloud dough yet with your little one I suggest you do! Although if they are still the type of child that puts everything in their mouth I suggest waiting until they are old enough to understand not to do that.
It is so simple to make and last a long time if you keep it clean. (We wash our hands before playing each time and if he has a cold its off limits) Since Terror likes it so much he will spend at least a solid hour playing with it quietly at the table giving me a solid hour to clean and work while Little Miss is sleeping.
I have seen quite a few cloud dough recipes online and all of them make a TON of it, too much at once for us anyways. So I have modified it to fit our sensory bin size. Here is our cloud dough recipe.

• 4 cups of all purpose flour
• 1/2 cup baby oil

That's it! Just place the flour in a large mixing bowl, then add the 1/2 of baby oil and using a whisk mash the flour and baby oil until completely mixed. Then get your hands in there and mix it some more! Then add some toys. Terror likes construction trucks, army men and mini shovels but you can add any toys you want! Enjoy!


Kindergarten Graduation Already!

I feel like Ace just started Jr Kindergarten and now 2 years later feels like a a blink of an eye! No more Kindergarten for him its straight on to Grade One! The sweet little baby boy I started out with at the beginning of his school career is now a boy, who has a sharp mind, loves learning and has multiple opinions on everything. So proud of the little man he is growing up to be!

We could not have asked for a better SK year. His teacher and EA were amazing and prepared him so well for the next chapter in his life. 

In honor of his Kindergarten graduation I have created a FREE Kindergarten graduate printable over on the the Freebie page for you to download! Kindergarten Teachers you are welcome to download it as well to use for your class and their Kindergarten graduation celebration. Enjoy!

For more school chalkboard printable signs please my shop ----> SugarPickle Chalkboards


Feeding a picky eater

One of the MOST frustrating things I find as a mom is cooking a meal spending an hour or so cooking it only to have it become a battle. My first born Ace was never a picky eater, not as a baby, toddler or even now as a child. He is just like his dad, if its edible he will eat it. So I was in complete foreign territory when my middle child Terror came along and was impossible to fed. Early on one day he would like something the next day it was like I was trying to give him poison.

Things really hit the fan when he turned 14 months old and started having digestive problems. I had tried everything, forcing him to try something, waiting until he was hungry - to which he didn't eat only drank liquids for 3 days. None of it worked, none of it made each meal less of a battle or easy. I was tired, 8 months pregnant and just done. I had given up and just fed him what he asked for to get something into him . . . . pancakes . . . . over and over again. For 3 months his diet was pancakes, blueberries, hemp hearts in yogurt and milk. Then one night I came across a post about fussy eaters. It was geared towards 2 year olds and up but I thought I would give it a try. This is not my original idea, but for us it worked. If you have a picky eater, have tried everything to get your picky toddler to eat and this is worth a try!

All you need is healthy food and some ice cube trays or muffin trays (ice cube trays work better for one child in a high chair) Cut up food into bite size pieces and make a rainbow ice cube tray. 

I use to change up what went into the ice cube tray, scrabbled eggs, celery, chicken, apples, bananas, oranges, cheese, rice, raisins, tomatoes, red pepper, potatoes, etc. You can also pre make 3 of these for the day, put cling wrap over them and store then in the fridge. Then pull them out each meal and feed the fussy eater. 

The first night I gave him one of the ice cube trays. I put him in his high chair walk over gave him the ice cube tray then walked away and started making dinner ignoring what he was doing. Since a lot of his fussy eating is a control factor because of his digestive issues I wanted to remove the control factor about food. The ice cube trays give him choices and control of which of the foods he eats. The first night he ate everything but the meat. I did not praise him, I just didn't make a fuss about it at all. I asked if he was done and wanted out. Then just took him out of the high chair, internally I was doing a happy dance, but if I showed him that it would turn the ice cube tray into a power struggle again with him. This went one for about a year, so days we gave in and he got pancakes if he asked for them but only once a week the rest of the time it was ice cube tray meals and hemp hearts in yogurt (but more on that later)

When my youngest little miss started eating she was a picky eater but was not as easy as my first born. When she start to rebel against certain foods he went right back to his old ways of refusing everything except pancakes. So out came the ice cube trays, but they just wanted to eat out of each others and compared to see if one got more then the other which started fighting and whining. So to get rid of that problem I moved on to muffin trays that they shared from.

This is still how they like to eat. Its like a toddler buffet. This little trick saved my sanity, stopped food battles in my house and helped my little ones eat healthy. I wish I could give credit to the original blogger who posted it but sadly there are many posts now with ice cube toddler meals.