Category Archives: DIY & Crafts

After Dark Fun {Earth Hour}

Do you participate in Earth Hour? Where millions of people around the globe turn off the electricity for an hour, as a massive show of concern for the environment? This year it falls on Saturday, March 23rd, from 8:30-9:30 PM in each time zone.

One year we were in Las Vegas, standing on the Strip during Earth Hour… now that was strange!  I tried to take a photo but it was literally too dark!

This year I wanted to spend a little bit of time talking about the environment with my kids (why we recycle, why we turn off the lights when we leave a room and adjust the air conditioning when we leave the house… that kind of thing). But I also wanted to have some fun in the dark!

This is our favorite ‘power outage’ kid activity… and it only requires 2 items: some highlighter pens and a black light. A friend gave us this idea a few years ago and my kids just love it:

highlighter and black light on chid's back

Choose whatever color of highlighter you want (though yellow does tend to show up the brightest) and then shine the black light on it. Easy peasy!

Make it a game by drawing without the black light, then turning the light on and seeing if your artwork came out as you had intended. Of course you can also draw on paper, but the kids just thought it was SO. MUCH. FUN. drawing on themselves and each other. And especially on Mom and Dad. (Seriously, how often do you remember getting to draw on your parents as a kid?)

Afterwards, everyone takes a good bath and has a laugh at any photos you took (take them with the flash OFF).

The kids attacked Dad’s foot with all the colors we had:

highlighter on foot by Renees-Soirees

And even Mom’s leg wasn’t immune:

drawing on skin with a highlighter pen and then shining a black light on it can be fun for kids of all ages

We already had the black light, because they are sold as scorpion finders in the desert (thankfully ours has never found one!). Though I use mine to look at the dust bunnies behind the furniture — when you need to clean, they are more motivating than watching an episode of Hoarders! You may also have one if you have a pet, to check for pet stains. But if you can’t find one in your Halloween supplies, then you can also get them inexpensively (as in, less than $10 or so shipped) on Amazon. This is the one I ordered (click on the photo for details):

I hope you have as much fun doing this as we do!  And you don’t have to wait for Earth Hour, it’s also a hit at slumber parties, and whenever you want to wear the kids out before bed!

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{FREEBIE} St Patrick’s Day printable!

I love decorating for holidays.

As in, ALL of them.

I hope I’m not alone here, and that everyone has a small (okay, medium) box marked “St Patrick’s Day” in their hall closet. Right next to the “Valentines” box, and the “Easter” box. Yes?

Okay, well even if you don’t change out your home accents seasonally like I do, you might enjoy having an Irish blessing in your home, all year round.

Just click on the image below to download / save the JPG of this 8×10 photo.

FREE Printable - Irish blessing by @ReneesSoirees

There are a few ways to print it. If you print it as an 8×10″ photo print, you can either print it at home on photo paper, or have it printed at a photo lab for somewhere between $1.46 (at Sam’s Club, for example) to $3.99 (at Walgreens).

BUT, I will give you a tip on printing it on the cheap… because I’m good like that :). 

Just take it to the nearest UPS Store on a thumb drive, and have it printed in color on regular paper for 29 cents (yup)!  Be sure to tell them that it’s an 8″x10″ image, and not to “shrink” or “adjust to fit” so it won’t change the size. Before you leave, borrow their paper cutter and crop the white border off. Make sure it measures 8×10″ on the paper cutter and if it doesn’t, ask them to reprint it.

Then put it in your purdiest frame and enjoy!

And the luck ‘o the Irish to ya!

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FREE Printable - Irish Blessing by @ReneesSoirees


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A Beehive shaped jar with a ribbon a tag and lotion tubes inside

{Freebie} Teacher Appreciation

I made this bee-themed gift for my son’s First Grade teacher.

Partly I was inspired to use bees because his teacher has a running BUMBLE BEE theme in her classroom (for example, each child has a bee with their name on it on the wall, and if they misbehave they ‘lose a stinger’ or are ‘out of the hive’).

And partly I wanted to go with bees because I found this cute beehived-shaped tealight holder at Target. It was in the Dollar Spot area, so they may not have it regularly.  If you can’t find one, a yellow or black gift bag with a bee tag on it would do just fine (and hold more, as well).

supplies to make a bee themed gift

In keeping with the bee theme, I filled it with Burt’s Bees products. I purchased the ‘Head to Toe’ kit at Target for $13. I tied a ribbon around the tealight holder and put as many of the items as I could into the jar. You could add a gift card or any other small item to the jar if you prefer.

Bumble Bee themed gift for teacher appreciation

I gave it to her with the bee letter that you can DOWNLOAD FOR FREE HERE.

bee anagram letter

I had my son write his teacher’s name at the top, and sign his name at the bottom. I also added the date in small print.

Click HERE to download the Teacher Tags.
(Then right-click and save the file).

Child and teacher with teacher appreciation gift

I think his teacher liked it, and I hope you do, too!

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Personalized Photo Coat Hooks {DIY}

Here’s a quick (and cheap!) craft I did in an attempt to solve the ‘backpacks & lunch sacks all over the floor’ issue.  Now my boys know exactly where their coats and backpacks go after school. I hung these above our shoe organizer seat in the foyer, so it’s the first thing they see when they walk in the door.

2 coat hooks with photos

I found the hooks on clearance at Hobby Lobby for less than $2 each, but I wasn’t crazy about the design.

Coat hook from Hobby Lobby

Let’s be clear… I LOVE Fleur-de-Lys. Because of my French name, I’ve been decorating my home with them since 1992. Back then I had to import them from France because the only fleur-de-lis I could find in the US had Boy Scout stuff on it.  Fortunately I studied in France briefly, so I brought a bunch of the decor home myself.  AND taupe is probably my favorite color. But this design just didn’t resonate with me.  So it had to go.

Because the design was 5″ square, I printed a photo of each child in a 5″x7″ size (38c each at Sam’s Club – best price out there)!  Then I trimmed the photos with a paper cutter, and applied Mod Podge onto the face of the existing design and placed the photo on top. The next day I coated the top of the photo with Mod Podge, and let it dry.

Coat hook with photo decor

Then it was just a matter of hanging them, and explaining to the boys the consequences for putting their coats and rucksacks on the floor instead of on the hooks (which ranged from extra chores, to grounding, to locust swarms and other pestlience in their bedrooms).

The entire project cost me less than $5 (though I already had the Mod Podge, because really, who could live without it)?!


Valentine’s Gift Card Holder

2 gift card holders with images of a coffee cup and hearts

I made one version of this gift card holder for teachers, because that’s how I intend to use it, but I also made one without a named recipient, so it can be used for coworkers, bosses, employees, coaches, friends and more!  Because of the hearts, it works great for Valentine’s Day, but it doesn’t specifically mention Valentine’s Day, so it could be used year-round.

Available here!

5x7 print with coffee cups and hearts with room for a gift card

5x7 print with hearts and coffee cups and room for a starbucks card


Happy Valentine’s Day!!

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