Making Time by Carly

The limited number of hours in each day is never quite equal to the amount of things happening or chores to get done or errands that need ran. It’s hard enough finding time to shower in the midst of being a working mama of three plus a military spouse. Life is insane, always. Somewhere in that hurricane, it’s vital to find those sliver of moments that are for no one but yourself. Call it self-care, call it whatever you want. As long as you make time. Maybe it’s picking up that book you’ve been meaning to finish, after the kids are down and maybe that means letting the dishes soak a little bit longer. Maybe it’s actual sleep, like at a normal hour, which means you’re not up folding laundry passed midnight. Recently for me, it’s getting back to art that makes me happy. Art that has no financial gain for me and is not requested by anyone but myself. Now just like writing, will I always have the time or energy to devote to it? No. But like an old, trusted friend, it will be there waiting for when I need it. When I pick up that watercolor brush or apple pencil it’s like the 400 hats I’ve been wearing all day long are removed. When I’m creating for myself, I’m Carly, not mom, not marketing manager, not Mrs. Brettmann. I’m just Carly. And that, like my loves of fall below, make me deliriously happy.

“Sugar Cookie” Play Dough by Carly

We love making play dough at home! We love coming up with new color and scent combinations. We love visiting the baking aisle at the grocery store to find new extracts like vanilla, peppermint, banana, root beer and cherry. You should see my baking cupboards 😳We recently visited our favorite local bead shop – Shipwreck beads and picked up some animal and brightly colored plastic beads for bracelet making. Side note: Pipe cleaners + beads also make a great hand-eye coordination activity.

We decided to make play dough one night and instead of adding a color, I added lavender oil & translucent glitter to a double batch (see recipe below). What I thought would come out looking more like snow turned out to look a lot like sugar cookie dough. We rolled with it (literally) and dug out a rolling pin, fun cookie cutters and let our imaginations run wild! Soon enough the beads from our bracelet making turned into sprinkles for the play dough. Oliver even likes to put his masterpieces in his play kitchen oven to “bake”. Now the kids love  grabbing the bins of dough and beads whenever they feel like making cookies. Hope you enjoy making some of your own at home with your littles!

Our favorite play dough recipe courtesy of the Hands on Children’s Museum


1 c. all purpose flour
1 c. water
1/2 c. salt
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tbs. vegetable oil
optional: food coloring, non-toxic glitter, flavor extracts or essential oils for scents.


Place all ingredients in 2 quart non-stick saucepan. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and pulls from the sides of the pan. Within 5 minutes, it will form a smooth elastic ball. Remove from heat, let cool slightly and knead for 3 minutes. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Old-Fashioned Christmas Garland by Carly

This year we are having a lot of fun decorating our new home for the holidays. New spaces to hang our beloved treasures and tons of opportunity to create new things! Our family wanted to try our hand at old-fashioned popcorn & cranberry garland with dried orange slices. Here are some tips we read beforehand & some we learned along the way:


• 2-3 bags of plain white microwave popcorn (no butter, extra flavor or salt). You could also pan fry kernels or use a popcorn machine but use very little oil. Air pop popcorn would work well too.

• 2LB. of fresh cranberries

• 4LB. bag of oranges

• Needle & thread (thicker thread works well). We used a size 2 crewel needle.


1. Pop your corn, the more stale the better so you could even pop it a day before you intend to string it.

2. Pre-heat your oven to 200°. Slice your oranges into 1/4″ – 1/2″ slices. Lay them on top of paper towels, then cover with towels and lightly press out the excess juice. Lay them directly on to your racks and bake for 3-4hrs. Turn them over every hour or so.

3. When the oranges are to your desired dryness remove them from the oven and place on them cooling racks. You could also use blood oranges, grapefruits or any citrus fruit for a variety of shapes and colors.

4. You are ready to start assembling! Thread your needle through any length of your sewing thread up to about 5ft. Anything longer gets hard to keep untaggled as you string. Tie a few good size knots at the end. You want to start each strand with a cranberry to avoid slipping.

5. Grab only the hardest cranberries to thread as the riper ones will bleed all over your pretty white popcorn.

6. Thread your starter cranberry and then have at it! Go for a balanced pattern (cranberries x3, popcorn x3, orange slice, repeat) or random fun (berry, popcorn x4, orange slices x2, berry). The possibilities are endless and the results are always beautiful so it doesn’t really matter.

NOTE: If littles are helping, a reminder that needles are sharp and can poke is a good idea!

7. Finish your pattern and tie a few good knots to end it.

8. Optional: you can spray your garland with spray acrylic to preserve. You can find matte or if you prefer a glossy finish.

9. Hang wherever you see fit with pride!

Value Your Artist by Sally

I recommend spending the money to purchase a good quality artist portfolio for each of your little artists.  You can get one from any good art supply store such as Michaels. Be on the watch for coupons. I’ve kept everything from the large scribbled butcher paper drawings of my not yet 2 year old to the senior designed yearbook entry of my 18 year old.  0
Not only do these portfolios provide a simple, convenient spot to keep these masterpieces safe.  It allowed a seasoned Mom like myself the gift of re-reading “thanks for being my mom” from her sweet 12 year old……18 years later.

Tip: write your child’s name and age/ date on the back of every piece they hand you…. that way the ones you keep will already be labeled.