Children’s Entertainment That Isn’t Obnoxious

July 25, 2016 by

At Evangeline’s first Christmas, she received a 2 disc Nursery Rhyme and Lullaby CD set. We had a lot of traveling to do so we turned on the CD’s in the car. After 3 songs, we rolled down the window, pitched the CD out screaming “I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!” The speed and pitch were all sped up. It wasn’t even cute like The Chipmunks; It was just one awful, frantic, shrill song after another. The baby was not calmed at all.

It was then, after having been parents for a mere 3 months, that we decided.  Our kids would never have obnoxious entertainment.

At first we were afraid our kids would be doomed to a sheltered life of Prairie Home Companion and they would grow up to be withered old souls who never had fun. Surprisingly though, we’ve found a wealth of un-obnoxious entertainment for our kids. We’ve only been at it for 5 years, but here’s what we’ve found that entertain the kids without annoying parents!

PBS Kids

Every time I take the kids to the doctor and have to sit in the waiting room watching The Disney Channel, I make a donation to The Corporation of Public Broadcasting. PBS Kids is a favorite in our house. Sure Peg + Cat has random freaking out screams, the Daniel Tiger re-mix songs make you roll your eyes and seriously Martin Short, The Cat in the Hat doesn’t have to be *that* excited about everything. But still, the shows on PBS Kids are overall mellow, fun and educational in a non-banal kind of way. We like Curious George and Dinosaur Train; Evangeline has announced she has out-grown Daniel Tiger, but she likes Arthur and Odd Squad.


Real Music

Our kids like to dance; the girls especially like to play balleranias. Come to find out, most music is kid-appropriate without having to be marketed to kids. We listen to classical music, ballets and operas, folk music, 1920’s Jass, Musicals and Irish ballads. The kids love them. We don’t have to listen to Kidz Bop 254 we listen to Alison Krauss. We don’t need Angelina Ballerina, we have straight-up Tchaikovsky. Our kids are not only being entertained, but they’re also being exposed to a variety of *real* music. No, they don’t know who wrote the concertio they’re listening to, what a concertio is or why Etta James is such a big deal, but they’re hearing it all. And they’re enjoying it. And so are we. This has also been a great way to introduce them to bits of our culture and where we come from — Swamp Pop, Irish ballads, the crooners and Bluegrass.


Wee Sing Songs

Least you think we don’t allow any kid-specific music, we’ve come to enjoy Wee Sing Nursery Rhymes and Lullabies. It was recommended in a homeschooling curriculum we were looking through. We were both reticent to buy another nursery rhymes CD. I still get headaches thinking about that first CD. But we’ve been delightfully surprised. The songs are a part of a greater narrative which adds a level of entertainment. They are sung mostly by children, but it’s like human children singing songs that were meat to be sung by real people. The kids enjoy the story and even “head on down the coast road” when they’re playing at home. We mostly listen to this in the car and it’s perfect.


Peter and The Wolf

Along that same line, we all like listening to Peter and the Wolf (narrated by Patrick Stewart). I was given a copy of it when I  started playing the oboe in junior high. It’s wonderful. Patrick Stewart tells the story of Peter and the Wolf. Each character is given a little fanfare played by a different instrument of the orchestra. The bird is an airy flute, the hunters are the kettle drums etc. Patrick Stewart will tell a line of the story and then it is acted out by the orchestra. He will say “One day Peter went walking in the woods” and then you hear a little fanfare from the strings. When the bird and the duck (oboe) argue, there’s a duet between the two. You get the idea. It’s a great way to introduce the kids to the idea of storytelling through music and to Patrick Stewart!


Hayao Miyazaki

We are particular about movies. First we want to ensure that the overall message is a good one (sorry Disney’s The Little Mermaid). We also want the film to be beautiful. This led us, of course, to Hayao Miyazaki. We began watching his movies while we were in college and thoroughly enjoyed them. Now the kids do too. There are some elements that the kids aren’t used to (like spirits) but it allows for conversations about what we’re watching. Our favorites are Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle.



The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea

mv5bmjezmjezntizof5bml5banbnxkftztcwmtg2mjaymw-_v1_uy268_cr10182268_al_mv5bmtq2mdmwnjewnv5bml5banbnxkftztgwotkxmzi0mze-_v1_uy268_cr10182268_al_Cartoon Saloon is another animation production company we’ve come to enjoy. They are based in Ireland and set out to tell real Irish folk tales with real Irish art styles. We watched The Secret of Kells before having kids and thought it was wonderful. Both The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea are beautiful. The acting is very well done (Brendan Gleeson anyone?) Like Miyazaki, there are elements of fairies and the supernatural. That is in part what makes them so great. It is great fodder for he imagination and at the same time gives the kids visually different styles of culture.


Kiwi Crate

kiwi_crate_logo_2xHave you ever noticed how stupid some toys are. It’s hard not to. And a lot of craft style toys and kits have sooooooooo many very teeny-tiny-choke-your-baby-stab-your-foot-pieces. Enter Kiwi Crates! I’ve posted about them before, but we still love them. It’s a monthly subscription box that comes with materials to make 2-3 themed crafts. They’re educational and fun! Evie doesn’t know they are educational, but she does know they are fun. They now have different boxes for older children. There are other subscription boxes that we haven’t tried, but are interested in, like the Little Passport boxes.


What we are finding is that you don’t really need to keep re-inventing the wheel. There are of course movies and music that aren’t child appropriate, but a great majority are. If you like it, you’re kids probably will to. And even if your kids like something, doesn’t mean the whole family has to be subjected to it.

Are you choosey about what your kids play with or watch? What are you favorite child’s entertainment that’s not obnoxious?


Mandie and the Secret Tunnel; Kelli and the Exciting Read

July 21, 2016 by

156171Mandie and the Secret Tunnel is the first “real” book I remember reading. Of course I read picture books a la Eric Carle and Dr. Suess. I am enjoying reading them again with my children. But Mandie was different. There were chapters and there was suspense.

For the life of me, I cannot remember the plot of this book and I’m nearly positive I never read any of the others in the series. But the experience stays with me — staying up late to read, waiting for the next break in class to find out what happens next. It was the first time I remember being truly engaged in a story, taken over by someone’s words and brought into another world.

To me, that is the truest joy of reading — the excitement.

As an adult my interests have drawn me in many directions. But no matter what I read, be it Medieval history, a whodunnit or calligraphy instructions, it is the excitement of Mandie I am looking for. A book that makes me ask “what happens next?” and “what more is there to learn?” A book that keeps me reading.

There are a few other early books I remember feeling this way about, Molly’s Surprise by Valerie Tripp and Number the Stars by Lois Lowery come to mind. For different reasons these books introduced me to different lives and different times. I remember every word of these books. When I was older and learning the full history of World War II, it was Molly’s father I pictured as the returning soldier and Ellen Rosen was with every group of Jews seeking safe passage to Sweden.


As simple as these stories may be, they have had a powerful impact on me. Because of them I am a better reader. What is the first book you remember reading? What book had an early influence on you?

The Chicken

July 19, 2016 by

for emily, whom i’ve always loved

The Chicken comes by day, she’s hungry.

From your street she left, empty beaked.

The Chicken comes by night, she’s hunting.

The Chicken’s claw discriminates not.

The Chicken’s heart is cold, unyielding.

The Chicken’s beak cares not what it pecks.

2014-06-10 14.30.58 1

Your urban plot has tamed her roost;

You penned her coup but not her heart.

Your fields were once all hers alone;

Your flowers ate she stem to bloom.

Away it went with one lap of your plow —

Earth to grey mulch, hard pellets that never sprout.

2014-06-10 14.30.58 2

Her perch left empty these years past.

Forgotten, you thought away she would stay.

Yet hear her caw, her bwak comes nigh.

You’ll rue the day you tamed her roost!

The Chicken comes by day, she’s hungry.

The Chicken comes by night, she’s hunting —


2014-06-10 14.30.58 3

Being a Blogger, Take 7

July 18, 2016 by

Let’s cut to the chase. It’s been a long time. I think I’ve blogged this year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I haven’t. But it’s the summer. It’s hot. I only have 5 other things I should be doing at any given time. I want to write.


I enjoy writing. I’ve heard writers describe their craft as spiritual, therapeutic, energizing. Bully for them. I just like connecting complete thoughts and having other people read them. And so I blog.

As I am reminded every year at Lent, the most successful changes happen when one makes specific goals. So rather than saying I just want to keep up the blog better, I want to make some tangible steps to achieve just that.


Most of the recent posts I’ve published have been about books. Reading is an enduring passion of mine that I feel will continue. As I take to the keyboard again and attempt to resuscitate this blog, I can assure you that literature and my armchair analysis will remain. You’re welcome.

I want to continue writing about what it actually looks like Being the Carruths. We have four little ones, two advanced degrees, a chicken coup and weekly grocery trips. I want you to know about all of it! Plus we have homeschooling plans on the horizon, so I know you’ll want to stay tuned for those updates.

Finally, I’d like to stretch myself a little and include more posts on topics not related to myself. Since having the babies, I’ve felt my brain become a bit dusty. I’d like to put some brain power to something other than recipes and potty time-tables. We’ll see how well that comes about. I’ve been catching up on my podcasts😉

So stick around, if nothing else, just to see if I actually stick to this for 30 days or not. I made a schedule and used high lighters so you know I mean business.

Here is a recent cute picture of the kids


2015 Reading Goal — Complete

December 30, 2015 by

I know you have all been on pins and needles waiting nine months for me to write another post! Fear not, I have returned, if only to expand what was going to be a long facebook status. Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and while I am in the middle of a book, I don’t think there are enough hours left in 2015 for me to finish it. Therefore, I’m going to call it and give the results of my reading goals.

The only real goal I set for myself was to read 35 books this year. According to Goodreads, I’ve read 45 books, a total of 14,942 pages! Before you get all impressed with me though, a good number of those were audiobooks. Insomnia is the real winner here.

Beyond that, I wanted to just follow my interests and see, without forcing it, how many books I could check off a reading challenge I found online. I’m pretty proud to say, out of 50 categories, I read all but 8! I didn’t find a book by an author with my initials, set during Christmas or the future. I didn’t read a (full) trilogy, a book written the year I was born, a book my mom loves or a book with a one word title. But still, go me, right?

One of my continuing interests has been The Middle Ages. I’m still pretty new to this era; I’m working on just placing it in my mind. Eleanor of Aquitaine and the founding of universities are probably the most interesting facets to me. This year, I read these Middle Age themed books:

Middle Ages


  1. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco — I greatly enjoyed this book and I’m anxiously awaiting Ryan finishing it (he calls it a Middle Ages Sherlock Holmes book) so we can watch the Sean Connery movie. This was the first time Eco has come across my radar. I’ve added more of his books to my eternal to-read list.
  2. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett — I wasn’t super crazy about it. I liked the Abbot character and I liked getting a setting of the Middle Ages in my head. But as for the story and the majority of characters? Meh.
  3. Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot — Ryan is a devout Eliot fan. When I said I wanted to read this play, he excitedly offered to read it aloud to me. Both the play and the experience were delightful.


  1. A Concise History of the Crusades by Thomas F. Madden — Yes, so this is a short textbook. It is dense and it moves fast. I took notes, but ultimately decided just to read it and get what I could out of it. It was easy to follow and I’m glad to have read it. I feel like I have a firmer grasp on what the Crusades were and the men who lead them.
  2. Four Queens: Four Provencal Sisters Who Ruled Europe by Nancy Goldstone — If you’ve been paying close attention, it should come as no surprise that I like this book by Nancy Goldstone. It is not a historical fiction, but it almost reads like it. She does a great job shaping each “character” so that you feel you know them and understand their motives throughout their history.


To balance out the seriousness of history, I also read a number of “fun books.” These are books which are quick, easy reads without many deep emotions. This is now my new favorite shelf on my goodreads.

Fun Reads

  1. The Big Year: A Tale of a Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession by Mark Obmascik — Who would have thought the world of competitive bird watching could be so darn interesting?? But it is and it is funny.
  2. As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes — As fun and entertaining as you’d expect. It helps if you’re a fan of the movie, but you don’t have to be. This isn’t a tell-all book, just fun tales from behind the scenes with a lot of name dropping.
  3. The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam (and Paris, and Las Vegas, and Berlin and Venice) by Chris Ewan — If I’ve talked to you in person this year, I’ve probably told you to read these books. They aren’t crass, but they aren’t simple either. Just fun heist stories with likable characters.
  4. Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan — Y’all. The book jacket glows in the dark! The story is a bit far-fetched, but if you just relax a but and go for it, it’s a fun ride.
  5. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley — I liked this twist on the typical British comfy mystery, but I don’t suspect I’ll read any more in the series. Something about the 11 year old main character just didn’t work well in my mind.

As always, I have a list of “I really should read that” books. Classics for various reasons, these are those books that you get points for knowing about, but if you really want to consider yourself well read, you have to actually read them. I didn’t make great strides in this area this year, but I got a few more under my belt.

Have to Read

  1. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins — I enjoyed this more than I did The Lady in White. It had more plot. But I think Collins will remain in my mind just one of those people you have to read, but not necessarily a favorite. To be fair, I’m not always crazy about the lackadaisical late 19th century writers.
  2. The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver — Kingsolver is one of my favorite story tellers. While I liked The Bean Trees, I didn’t enjoy the sequel as much. I don’t often read books set in the west or involving Native American culture so these were new and refreshing to me.
  3. Tales of H.P. Lovecraft — Cthulhu! I get it now! I’ve stuck a toe out into Science Fiction a few times and each time I come away with the reassurance that it’s not really for me. Lovecraft’s ghost stories, however, sent shivers down my spine just the way I like it.
  4. The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolken — I’m getting closer to Mordor! This was a much more enjoyable read than The Fellowship of the Ring. More action, character development, etc. You get to see a lot more of Middle Earth — it just feels less like a history lesson. And can I just say, when the Orcs are attacking and they get pushed back and turn to retreat only to find themselves facing a forest of Ents that weren’t there before?! Favorite scene yet. I am excited to finish the series soon.
  5. Sense and Sensibility  by Jane Austin. Can’t say I liked it more than Pride and Prejudice, but it was enjoyable. I’m up to 4 out of 7 Austin novels!


25735012By and far my favorite book I read this year is the latest Cormoran Strike novel, Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (pen name for J.K. Rowling). This is the third book and I’ve savored them all. I was a little disappointed in the last book, The Silkworm. It felt rushed and exaggerated to me and I sincerely hoped there would be less shock-value tricks in this one. It was a bit gruesome, but not out of place, if that makes any sense at all. Reading this book, I felt as though Rowling was experimenting and playing with new ideas, and that made it very fun to read. In interviews, she has said she began the Strike series to try her hand at the detective genre. It would seem, assured by her success, Rowling is now flexing her literary muscles. Much to the enjoyment of all, of course.

2015 Books4

There are a few books which I feel will stick with me for quite a while. This year I read Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi for the first time. It was also my first full length graphic novel experience. As cheesy as it may sound, it’s helped me be more sympathetic and open-minded towards issues in the middle east and especially those seeking asylum. It has helped me humanize images I see or statistics in the news.

In a similar vein, reading Deep Dark Down: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free by Hector Tobar saddened me, not only for what these men and their families went through, but for the general amnesia I have when it comes to world events. Even local and national events are likely to slip my mind once out of sight. The fact that I was only half aware when this was happening and that I forgot as soon as they were out makes me want to be a better person.

I plan again to set a reading challenge for 2016. I liked the pace and freedom of this past year. I feel like I read a greater variety than I have in the past few years. I’m halfway through another non-fiction about the Middle Ages and I’m excited to continue satisfying that curiosity. I hope to finish The Lord of the Rings in this next year. Overall though, I hope in this next year to broaden my horizons a bit more and expand my knowledge all the more.

Happy New Year!








National Library Week: 7 Things We Love About The Library

April 11, 2015 by

Nat'l Library Week

This upcoming week is National Library Week!! It is a week to celebrate and appreciate the contributions of libraries and librarians. You may not have noticed, gentle reader, that we Carruths love.the.library. We are at the library at least once a week for one reason or another. So, in honor of National Library Week, I thought I would tell you 7 things we love about our library.

1. It’s Free! Let’s just start with the obvious. Books are expensive and we read a lot of them. I can’t drop $23 on a book I may not even like or read again each time I want a new book. I think Dave Ramsey would agree. Checking out books from the library is a risk free way to try new books and series. Evangeline has her own card now and loves picking out a new stack of books each week. She’s a kid who gets it — don’t over think, just check it out!

Check out all the books

2. Inter-Library Loans — Between the 14 library branch locations in East Baton Rouge Parish, we’re able to find almost anything we want. But when I want some obscure, out-of-print Nero Wolfe mystery, or Ryan needs the original Sanskrit writings of some forgotten Desert Father, we can request an Inter-Library Loan. Most often our university or state library has what we want, but we’ve gotten books from the opposite side of the country before. Not only do you get the book you want, you get an overly sentimental connection to library users everywhere.

4. Beautiful Libraries — Ours is a love it-or hate it kind of city, I’m afraid. There are many complaints including poor city planning and butt-ugly 1970’s and 80’s architecture. The parish recently undertook to rebuild our main library. But! They made it gorgeous! They used “green” designs and materials! They are expanding the complex to include the already existing park and botanical gardens and adding offices, meeting spaces and a cafe! It’s a major project, but already the benefits are exciting. The library building, which is open now, won regional design awards in 2014. It’s poised to be a beautiful spot in the city available to anyone, and it’s not a shopping center!

main libaray Main Library (photo source: Mark Bienvenu Photographer )

3. Digital Resources — I recently introduced Ryan to the vast resources available though our “Digital Library”. I’ve been using our library’s Overdrive account for a year or more to listen to audiobooks (see Ode to the Audio Book.) But there’s a lot more out there than just audio and e-books. There are movies, music, operas and symphonies, news sources, magazines, genealogy sources,  foreign language courses and a whole lot of I-don’t-know-what-all else. In an age where the printed page is coming under attack, libraries are getting ahead of the fight and offering many more resources online.

5. Paintings —  One day at the library, Ryan noticed a large print of The Lady of Shalott. His eyes widened, he pointed and said “I want that”. We brought it home and hung it above our piano, in the kids play \ home-school room. We really enjoyed having it, so we decided to rotate new pictures into that spot. The kids help pick out what we get and it gets to hang in our house for 6 weeks. We get a changing decoration and it gives us the chance to look at art we otherwise may not get to see. 


6. The Children’s Section– Our kids love going into the children’s section. In addition to, well, BOOKS!, there are toys, coloring pages and computers available all the time. Nearly each week in the summer, the girls get to go with their Nana to story time. And when I can muster up the energy, we go to different programs during the week. I remember going to story time at the library when I was young and I’m excited that my kids now get to make those same memories, at the same library no less! All of which brings me to my last point.

7. Family Ties– We are a big-ish family with a small-ish budget. Going to the library is a way for us to spend time together enjoying the same things without spending money. I like knowing that the library will be a part of our kids’ childhoods. More than that, though, I hope they notice how nerdy their parents are. Ryan and I relish reading. We love learning. We love talking to each other about what we’re reading and learning (and writing blog posts…). By spending time as a family at the library, I hope our kids grow up appreciating intellectual curiosity. I hope our love of learning ties us closer as a family. Even though we may read different books and be interested in different areas,  we can still talk about what we checked out from the library.

2015 Reading Goal

March 11, 2015 by

I have enjoyed setting reading goals each year. As much as I love reading, having a goal in mind adds a little more fun. In the years past I’ve set increasingly more complicated goals. Number of books, page counts, generes and specific books. It is not bad, but this year I’m trying to simplify. I’ve set my book count list at 35 on As for the rest however, I want to sit back and follow my interests and see where I land at the end of the year. I also found this :


At first I was all gung-ho to check off each one. Now that it’s March and I realize there are 50 categories, I’m just keeping a tally of the books I’ve read and which category they fit into. This list has pointed me in the direction of some books I may not have otherwise read, like Presepolis. And I’m glad for that.

I’ve read a random smattering of books so far ranging from Deep Dark Down: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine to Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and The Story of Return to The Princess Bride: S. Morganstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure, which is fun even the second time. I’ve nearly finished The Pillars of the Earth which I expect to throw me into a Middle-Ages reading binge.

I realize this is disappointingly short, but I am also working on posts of individual books and thoughts. They promise to be more interesting.

2014 Reading Goal Completed

March 10, 2015 by

I’m doing my best to stay up on the blogging saddle keeping the interwebs up to date. I know how important that is to the interwebs.

Last year, I concocted a complicated reading goal. Like the year before, my goal was three tiered:

  • 35 Books
  • 11,000 Pages
  • 8 Specific Southern Books

I managed to do some of those. I read 35 books, but came up short on my page count. Instead of all 8 Southern books, I read…3. Since this is about honesty, I’ll admit. Two of the three were audiobooks. I am a fraud.

2014 Books Southern

What’s more, I really didn’t like them. I know I know! Walker Percy! I can’t explain it. I did like the Flannery O’Connor short stories I read including A Good Man Is Hard to Find. Wise Blood, however….not so much with the liking. I still feel the need to improve my Southern repitoire; I think I’ll just tackle it at a slower pace.

I did like a number of the books I read and I even managed to write about some of them: The Colorado Kid by Stephen King, The Salinger Contract by  Adam Langer, Plot it Yourself by Rex Stout and Death Comes to Pemberly by P.D. James, The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith, Mysteries of the Middle Ages by Thomas Cahill and Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

2014 Books

I read all three of the The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo books which was no small undertaking. It was intense and at times quite dull, but over all, I think Lisbeth Salander is among my favorite characters now. I’ve been trying to write out my thoughts on the whole series. I hope to make some cohesive sense out of them soon. I started another series, Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. I’ve been surprised how much I like these books. I’ve read the first three and want to continue. There are obvious religious overtones — Dean Koontz is Catholic from what I understand– and that does come across in the books. But it’s not as though all the characters are black and white. Even Odd Thomas, the title character, considers himself sort of irreligious, unsure what the truth is. It makes him relateable. I’ve found the series so far refreshing.

Since this has already turned into a long, rambly kind of post, I think I’ll save my goals and accomplishments of 2015 for another post. What have you been reading? Find any gems lately?



5 Months??

March 7, 2015 by

Apparently it’s been five months since I’ve last blogged. I’m not even sure where to start. Um, Christmas happened? I’ll save all the wordy words and just give you the picture highlights:

October 2010

  • Evangeline turned 4!
  • Genevieve was Baptised
  • We visited lots of Pumpkin Patches
  • Reuben was Tigger for Halloween and Genevieve was Piglet!

November 2014

  • As many Holiday-Related Events as Possible
  • Renassance Festival
  • St. Jude Walk
  • City Park Lights
  • Lots of Baking

December 2014

  • More Events and More Baking!
  • Christmas Parade
  • Genevieve Turned 6 Months Old!

January 2015

  • A Lot of Staying Home Recouperating from the Holidays
  • Amazing New Years with NO KIDS!!

February 2015

  • Crafting Itch Returned!

That more or less catches you up. Not much more than the usual. I’ve set a new reading goal this year. Last year I met my goal of 35 books read. I will come back and write a full recap. This year I’ve only set a book number goal, no page amount or specific titles. Just reading. It’s been nice actually.

We’ve had a bit of a break since the holidays, but our Spring calendar is already filling up. We’ll have our annual St. Joseph’s Altar, Easter, Reuben, Felicity and then Genevieve’s birthdays. Although I feel I’m forgetting a few things. Anyway, I’m climbing back up on the sadle and I hope to keep you all better updated!!


Fall Toddler Crafts

October 18, 2014 by

The weather is consistently staying cooler not hot. We even had all the windows and doors open for most of this week. I think it’s almost safe to say, it is fall! Knock on wood. I posted before about some of the decorations we’ve put up around the house to celebrate. These were things I made very quickly and very cheaply just to have some fall color around the house.

There is another way we mark the seasons now, and that is our gallery wall in the dining room. Really it’s just an ugly blank wall that we’ve done nothing with in the nearly 3 years we’ve been here. One day I started sticking the kids’ art projects up there and just like that, we have a new tradition. We’ve begun our fall wall. It’s still a work in progress, but I wanted to show off what we’ve done so far.

Fall Tree

This was the first thing we did. I’ve been getting bolder in “designing” these walls. I thought putting up a tree would give us a lot of chances to add to it in the style of woodland creatures.

I found a roll of brown package paper at the dollar store. This turned out to be the easiest way to make the trunk rather than construction paper, poster board or anything that required painting. I taped up one long strip the height of the trunk I wanted. I then came back and cut slight curves on either side to make it look like a trunk and not just a piece of paper taped to the wall. We used some of the scraps to make branches.

I’m not crazy about the leaves, but they will do. I took pieces of red, orange and yellow construction paper and cut out random leaf shapes. Then Evie helped me tape them up. I had a pack of foam cut out leaves from the dollar store, so we filled in some with those. I feel like it could be fuller, but frankly, I don’t want to cut out more leaves, So it is what it is!


The first thing we added to our tree was bird nests. I took a small paper plate and cut it in half. Each girl colored their “nest” and glued on small twigs we found in the yard. I cut out little bubble bird bodies and the girls glued on googley eyes and the feathers. Once everything was attached and dry, we picked branches for them to rest.


This is my favorite! I may leave it up somewhere in the house after fall ends. At first I was going to do each of the kids’ foot prints on a separate canvas and make a sort of collage with them. But then when I found this canvas at JoAnn I immediately switched to this idea. I’m so glad I did, I love it!  I painted the whole canvas blue, then lightly sketched the line where the branch would be. That way I was able to more or less line up the kids’ feet.  Once the foot prints were dry, I went back and painted in the tree, branches, leaves, feet, beaks and eyes. I also took a slightly darker brown and wrote in the kids’ initials and 2014 on the tree as if it were carved in. This one makes me smile every time I go by it.

Fall Acorn Banner

What good is a fall gallery wall without a label? I used these two tone acorn foam cut outs from the Dollar Store. To make the letters, I wrote the letter on the acorn using a glue stick, then Evie spread glitter all over it. I’ll honestly admit, I am surprised it worked out so well.  After we did all the letters, I punched holes in the top of each acorn and Evie sewed jute string through. If you repeat this craft, word of advice. String the acorns *before* you do the glue and glitter. It seems so obvious now, but it wasn’t at the time…To finish off the banner, I tied some red gingham ribbon between the letters for a little added cuteness.

I’ve got some more ideas in mind, especially as we get closer to Thanksgiving. At least for a week or so, though, they’ll get put on the back burner since we’ve got a birthday party coming up next weekend. Sweet Evie is turning four and she’s so excited to celebrate (and have cake). So I’ll be distracted by that for the coming week. If the party turns out cute, I’ll be sure to share on the old blog soon.

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