A few months ago Avery started asking to go to the snow.  I have no idea where she got that crazy idea, since both of her parents are happy in weather that is above 70 degrees.  But she wouldn’t stop talking about it.  Seeing all of the Frosty the Snowman books and movies around the holidays didn’t help anything.  She was set on seeing snow.  Since there is about a zero percent chance of us getting snow in San Francisco, we had to get creative.
With a few boxes of cornstarch, some shaving cream, and some materials from our treasure box, we made snowmen from the comfort (and warmth) of our living room.  Hours of fun playing with the fluffy white powder and no freezing fingers and toes. Perfect, in my opinion.
I am over at Modern Parents Messy Kids today sharing all the details of how to make these indoor snowmen.

She is still talking about the snow, however, so I might not be off the hook that easy…

I hate throwing things away. No, I am not a hoarder, actually the opposite. But I see potential in little things that most people would throw in the trash or recycling bin. Bits of packaging, old greeting cards, boxes, catalogues.  Perfect art project materials – and all free. So a few years ago I started our very own “treasure box”. In it went all of these fun bits and pieces that I knew could be used again. I was amazed at how quickly I had amassed quite a collection of unique, fun, creative materials to use.

Sometimes, I go into our treasure box looking for materials for a specific project. Sometimes, we pull out a dozen or so things and see what we can create. And when I just need a few minutes (or hours) of quiet time, I pull put the treasure box and let my girl go through and examine and admire each of the treasures in the box. She loves discovering everything, and I love that she is entertained.

The most popular items in our treasure box, clockwise from top left: clothing tags, fabric scraps, egg cartons, paint chips.

A few tips to start your own treasure box:

  • Start with a relatively large box.  (We use an old moving box)  You’ll be surprised how quickly it starts filling up.
  • Keep your box accesible.  If it is hard to get to you will be less likely to add things to it.
  • When in doubt, add it to your box.  You can always throw it out later if you don’t end up using it for any art projects.
  • Don’t be afraid of the mess.  This is a big one for my OCD personality.  I was first trying to organize my treasure box.  Scraps of paper all in an envelope, boxes nested together nicely, etc.  It was too hard to keep up.  So now, I just throw things in and try not to think about it.  :)
  • You will be amazed at how many treasures are waiting for you in your trash / recycling bin!

Some ideas of what to put in your treasure box:

  • toilet paper rolls
  • paper towel rolls
  • mesh bags
  • packaging materials
  • egg crates
  • milk jugs
  • 2 liter soda bottles
  • magazines
  • junk mail
  • water bottles
  • old socks
  • clothing labels
  • business cards
  • newspaper
  • paint chips
  • old calendars
  • paint stirrers
  • fabric / ribbon / twine / yarn scraps
  • buttons
  • plastic baby wipes containers
  • shampoo bottles (cleaned out)
  • cereal / cracker / pasta boxes
  • oatmeal boxes
  • plastic produce boxes
  • starbucks coffee sleeves
  • wrapping paper tubes
  • ribbons and bows from gift wrap
  • used ziplock baggies (washed out)
  • aluminum foil
  • packing materials
  • greeting cards / postcards
  • shoe boxes
  • stickers
  • old art projects / paintings
  • little plastic toys
  • anything else that catches your eye… think creatively!

Would you be interested in seeing some of the projects that we make using treasures from our treasure box?

  • Indoor Snowmen - […] to get creative. With a few boxes of cornstarch, some shaving cream, and some materials from our treasure box, we made snowmen from the comfort (and warmth) of our living room.  Hours of fun playing with the […]ReplyCancel

  • Ursula Rosien - Hello! I’m stopping by from Babble’s website and I love your idea of a treasure box! I’m discovering the excitement of using unusual materials for crafting ;) Thank you for the idea.
    {latest post}

  • Building With The Treasure Box - […] while ago I told you about our treasure box, where we keep all sorts of odds and ends that are just too full of potential to throw away. Well, […]ReplyCancel

  • Robin - At my kids school, we have a discovery room. Parts of the room are devoted to science experiments, displays, and hands on activities. But one corner is devoted to making things out of recycled materials and odds and ends. It is fun to save things to donate and as a school assistant see what the kids create out of everything and anything. A great way to encourage creativity, imagination, and fun!ReplyCancel

  • Fatiha - Fantastic ideasReplyCancel

calming jarI am really starting to wonder why it is called the “terrible twos” and not the “terrible threes”.  I don’t remember the twos being so bad at all.  But the threes…the threes are a bit challenging.

I have seen the idea of a “calming jar” floating around on Pinterest forever, but never really thought it would work for us.  I had everything I needed in the house already so I figured it was worth a try.  The first few times I tried using it, let’s just say that she was not impressed.  But she warmed up to it, and now even requests her “magic jar”.

Her explanation of the jar is so perfect, far better than anything I could come up with:  “When I’m mad or sad I just shake the jar and watch the magic float to the bottom.  And when the magic floats to the bottom then I’m not mad or sad anymore.”

Supplies needed:

  • a jar
  • glitter
  • water
  • glycerin


1.  Choose a jar.  If you think your child might throw or drop the jar, a plastic container like an empty peanut butter container might be a better idea.  I love my collection of vintage blue jars, so I used one of those.  I hope I don’t regret it.  ;)

2.  Fill the jar with water, leaving about an inch at the top empty.  Add 2 tablespoons of glycerin and 2 tablespoons of super fine glitter.  Put the lid on the jar and tighten well.

3.  Shake the jar until everything is blended.

Your magic jar is ready to use.  Shake it gently and watch all the glitter float to the bottom.

I had actually bought white glitter and glycerin because we were going to make snow globes before Christmas, but never got around to it.  I am loving how this turned out looking like a beautiful snow storm.  Perfect for this cold January we are having!


  • Corsage @ A Dollop Of Me - “I don’t remember the twos being so bad at all. But the threes…the threes are a bit challenging.” Am totally with you on this one!

    Love your photos, by the way :)ReplyCancel

  • julia [life on churchill] - I love this idea! I have a similar mason jar and two preschoolers who would love it. Has the glass held up okay?ReplyCancel

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.  Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”

-Neil Gaiman

All day today I was thinking about what my New Years resolutions were going to be.  Some years I have lists and lists.  Some years I swear them off completely.  This year, I just want to make one resolution that I can actually stick with.  (You know, past January 7th.)

I read this post by Neil Gaiman a few months ago and haven’t been able to get it out of my head.  Make mistakes.  Some of you might think nothing of this.  But to me, this is big.  Huge.  I am a perfectionist.  A perfectionist of the worst kind.  I have hundreds (probably more) of blog post drafts ready to go, but I am afraid to hit publish.  I spend hours (hours!) editing just one image.  I have tons of projects started, but not finished.  Because I worry that they aren’t good enough.  That I am not good enough.  Because in my head, I will do these things when I can do them perfectly.  So they never get done.

So this year, I will try, I will make mistakes, I will Do Something.  And I will share it with you all here.  I do hope that you will join me.

Here’s to a 2013 filled with beautiful mistakes!

  • Rachel - I feel the exact same way sometimes. I hope you will publish some of those blog posts and post some of those images. :) Happy New Year!ReplyCancel

  • kati - right there with you :) happy new year! here’s to just hitting “publish” :) xoReplyCancel

  • Janssen - What a great goal – I could really stand to focus on this. And of course, Neil Gaiman is a man of great wisdom almost always.ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - I was really inspired by your post. First of all, your photography and post content are always wonderful. As a perfectionist myself, I can totally relate to not feeling good enough and feeling like others will judge my work harshly. I am happy to know that I’m not the only one. I want to make similar goals so I can enjoy life more and progress in my creativity too.ReplyCancel