Motherhood operating systems in progress.

This area does not yet contain any content.
Find Us On...
Subscribe to MommyBeta
Latest Tweets
Join My Parenting Book Club!

Entries in DIY (10)


Goody Bag Alternative: Art Jars

Art supplies instead of a goody bag!

For each of Nic’s birthdays, I’ve done a “non-goody bag” favor. Goody bags can be fun, but I prefer something a little different. Usually, my favors are a bit crafty, and for Nic’s 5th birthday, it was no different.

The boys and I made “art jars,” for each party goer. These were mason jars stuffed with craft supplies for Nic’s favorite activity, project-making. Here’s what we used: 

  • Mason jars
  • Feathers
  • Beads
  • Dyed pasta
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Old fashioned clothes pins
  • Googly eyes
  • Layard string
  • Pom poms
  • Glue sticks or tiny Elmer’s Glue (I actually didn’t put these in, but wish I had!)
  • Gift tag
  • Ribbon for tying on gift tags

The art supplies make these favors so colorful!

If you can get a good deal on the mason jars, these are really inexpensive favors, and they look terrific! Scope out dollar stores for great deals on craft supplies.

Mason jar favors, the finished product,

These were really fun and easy to put together with the boys. 

Nic loved getting involved in making the favor for his party.

Pro Tip: Keep the mason jars in the boxes they come in. Do this for two reasons.


  1. When filling the jars with kids, a bunch of supplies end up between the jars. Having the box there makes clean up way easier.
  2. The boxes make the jars super easy to transport if you are having an off-site party. 


The kids and parents all seems thrilled with the jars at Nic's party. I'm already coming up with ideas for more mason jar favors. What would you put inside?


Alphabet First Birthday Party: A to Zachary


At a 3 am feeding when Baby Z was three weeks old, I had an epiphany. The theme for his first birthday party would be A to Zachary. Though deliriously tired, I somehow remembered this lightning bolt idea and almost a year later, we had an alphabet birthday party for our little boy.

The party was full of family, fun and smiles. But I know what you guys are here for. Pin-able party pictures! Without further ado...

I used a Cricut to cut a lot of letters for this party, especially for this sign in on our front porch (yes, I realize now that the C is upside down!). I also had a silohuette made on Etsy of my sweet little boy (I used this on the invites too).

I made this wreath years ago (for Jennifer's baby shower for Elle!), and I update it for the seasons or parties that I host.

Nic and I worked together to melt down old crayons and pour them into a silicon letter mold. These crayon favors were a bit more fragile than I had hoped, but were fun to make.

This is one of my favorite things about entertaining at our new(ish) house. I can WRITE ON THE WALL! I have horrible penmanship, but chalk is SO forgiving. I fully recommend sidewalk chalking your house for a big party impact (test an area first to make sure your chalk will wash off).


More letter decor. The Lego letters were a last minute addition to hold down the tableclothes in the wind. Grampy and Nic had fun putting those together the morning of the party.


I used letter cookies from Trader Joe's for Z's name and filled a cookie cutter with sprinkles for the 1. Then I filled the ring around the cake with more sprinkles! Inside, this is a funfetti cake.

BabyBetas Reese and Elle seranade Z!

Z enjoying his personal, dairy-free funfetti smash cake!

Happy family celebrating our birthday boy.



DIY: Decoupaged Knobs


It was recently Mod Podge’s 45th birthday and I saw all kinds of posts in the blogosphere about great  projects to do with my favorite sticky medium. I had recently completed a time-consuming refinishing job on the boys' new changing table (a lovely hand-me-down from a neighbor), but I still needed some great knobs to complete the look.

I love Anthropologie’s hardware, but I couldn’t bring myself to spend $8-12 per knob. Instead, I went to Home Depot and bought wooden knobs for $2 each and broke out the Mod Podge.

What you need: 

  • Pretty paper, cut into small rectangles (mine were smaller than ¼ inch by ½ inch)
  • Mod Podge
  • Knobs

 Here’s how: 

  1. Lay out something to protect your surface.
  2. Apply a small amount of Mod Podge to the base of the knob, I just used my fingers. 
  3. Lay a strip of paper on the Mod Podge. Make sure to wrap the paper slightly around the bottom of the knob.
  4. Repeat until you’ve circled the whole base, alternate papers to get kind of a patchwork effect.
  5. Smooth a thin layer of Mod Podge over the top of the first layer.
  6. Repeat with another layer that slightly overlaps the top of the last.
  7. Continue repeating until whole knob is covered. 

This is one of those projects that you can't really mess up. Just improvise as you go along and keep smoothing the paper. The finished product is really pretty and practical.


If Pinterest Was a Place, It Would Be Acme Party Box Company


It’s like walking into Pinterest. That’s the only way I can describe it. When I stumbled on the Acme Party Box Company store the other day, I thought I’d died and gone to handmade heaven. Seriously, it’s that good.

I was out shopping for items for Nic’s second birthday party, so it was extremely fortuitous that I noticed the word “party” in their small sign out front. I hadn’t heard of the store, so when I walked inside to find handmade buntings, party linens and unique favors, I was floored.  They even had a birthday party going right in the store, during which a focused group of nine-year-old girls was happily felting their own stuffed animals! I’m secretly hoping my #2 is a girl, just so we can have crafty birthday parties (or maybe I can just have a crafty boy?)! Acme Party Box Company's Palo Alto Store

I purchased a roll of gingham cloth napkins, some giant red (biodegradable) balloons, and a wooden bear with some tiny mushrooms to use as a cake topper. I also left with a desire to know more about this store and the obviously crafty women behind it. So, I emailed Cathy Keyani, one of the store’s founders, with some questions. 

Where'd you get the idea to start the store? 

My business partner, Lisa Fulker, and I both love to entertain and are environmentally conscious. We found from years of trying to source eco-friendly party supplies for our own celebrations that the types of products we were looking for just didn't exist, so we usually ended up making our own. When we were both ready to venture out from our previous careers we thought the time was right for to fill the void in the party sector between good design and environmentally responsibility.

Who makes all the wonderful items?   

The products we design are made by a combination of really great people! Some things we make ourselves, our very generous friend-ployees help with most everything, and a lovely group of seamstresses in San Francisco has been sewing our linens.  

Where do you get the ideas? 

We are inspired by so many things! Sometimes it's by a need we have ourselves in our own lives, sometimes by something unique that we see and can translate into something right for our customers. Most inspiration stems from seeing a challenge that needs a solution; for example our craft kits came from the activities we conduct at our in-store parties.  

What are your top sellers? 

Glass Drinking Jar with Gorgeous Cut-Out Top and a Stripey StrawAmong party supplies, our glass drinking jars and stripey straws are our best sellers. They're fun for grown up and kids and have so many uses after the party that we can hardly keep them in stock. Our flag bunting and fun cake toppers are always popular, too. 

We have some wonderful gifts that have done really well this past holiday season: our Laguiole Multi Function Tool (a beautiful Swiss Army-style knife), and several mango wood products (salt cellars, platters).

I notice that you have several party themes on your site. Do you rotate themes?   

We always have seasonal collections and tend to change up our fabric selections during the year. Right now we are looking at some really wonderful cottons from India. Because we are so focused on reusability we love that someone can select one of our fabric collections because they are attracted to it, and we can them help them accessorize it to suit any theme. Although we don't have any character driven themes, a parent came in recently who was able to pick a selection of fabrics that she loved and wants to use in her kitchen after the party, but that also would satisfy her young son's superhero theme. 

What is your favorite kid's party theme? 

I think all of us have a real soft spot for our woodland and vintage circus parties. There's something very warm and familiar about them that inspires a sense wonder and joy in kids. Woodland Party

Vintage Circus Party

What are your top tips for an eco-friendly party? 

We are huge proponents of reusable tableware and linens. It doesn't take much more effort to throw linens in the wash than it does to throw them in the garbage, and some of the most fun that happens is after the party when hosts and friends share a few minutes around the kitchen sink. Times like this are really relationship building, and isn't that the real reason we have parties anyway? 


Acme Party Box Co is located in the Town and Country Shopping Center in Palo Alto, California. But there's good news for those of you who aren’t Bay Area residents--most of their goodies are available online.


Homemade Christmas Ornaments


Last year, I made adorable handprint ornaments for all of Nic’s grandparents, God parents, aunts and uncles. They were a big hit. So this year, when I got an email from Factory Direct Craft offering tips on Christmas projects, I jumped right on their suggestion to make personalized, filled ornaments.

Factory Direct Craft graciously sent me the craft supplies to make these lovely ornaments, and below I’ll go through their construction, step by step.

What you need: 

Step #1: Print Photos

Select two cute holiday-appropriate photos. You’ll need one for each side of the ornament.  I used Picnik to add some text to one of my photos.

Step #2: Trace and Cut

Using one half of the ornament as your guide, trace a circle on to each picture maximizing what you want visible. Cut out these circles.

Use double-sided tape to stick each set of images together.  Make sure they are lined up correctly (both heads are pointing the same direction for instance).

Step #3: Decorate Photos

One of my photos couldn’t be cropped in a way that would avoid showing half of my husband.  It looked a little funny, so decided to decoupage over him (he wanted me to!)!  A bit of Mod Podge and some snowflakes did the trick.

Step #4: Fill Ornaments

Open up the ornaments and sprinkle some confetti into each side. (I forgot to do this one about half of mine and am bummed about it.  Don’t forget this cute step!)

This next bit is the only tricky part of the whole project. Fit the double-sided photo neatly inside the “female” side of the snowflake.  It might take a little trimming and some patience, but it actually will slide in there nicely.  Once it’s in place, slide the other side on snuggly.

Step #5: Ribbon

Cut approximately 20 inch sections of ribbon.  Fold the section in half longwise and then again in half widthwise, thread this through the BACK of the loop at the top of the ornament.  Leave a nice sized loop for hanging and then tie a knot at the front of the hanging loop.  Then make a bow.  Tying it this way ensures that the bow stays at the bottom front of the ornament.

Step #6: Decoupaging the Outside

I wanted to give them one final touch, a ring of snowflakes around the outside.  I also figured the Mod Podge should seal the ornaments shut.  Hang the ornaments if you can (I used a laundry drying rack, which worked great).  Do a stripe of Mod Podge along the seam of half of the ornament.  Place a few confetti pieces along the glue.  Repeat on other side. (Doing one side at a time prevents the glue from drying before you get your confetti on). Let hang to dry.  The Mod Podge does dry clear, but try not to goop it on or it will be visible.

I enlisted a bit of help with the snowflakes.


You have cute, inexpensive and personal ornaments for your nearest and dearest.