Archive for the ‘Giving Well’ Category

Lisa has done it again.

First, I want to eat these cookies.

Second, I want to receive these cookies.




Click here for Lisa’s tutorial on how to use the sketch feature to create this darling jar covering using one of my patterned backgrounds.  She paired it with my tag and a part of my Santa Cookie quote.  Love. It. All.

There are links for all of the shapes she uses in her tutorial.  Check it out.

And while you are in the Silhouette store, grab this quote to create a fabulous album celebrating your creativity.  Thanks, Traci.  Her tutorial is here.  It’s a great application for cuttable Silhouette chipboard.



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Oh, how I love service.   We are in the process at the Hall house of trying to teach this concept to Coleman – that service is the same thing as helping people.  We ask him each day, “Who did you help today?” and although his answer often focuses on his teacher at preschool, he’s getting the idea.  We want him to not only understand the concept but to live it and make it a habit in his life.  An attitude, really.  There are those people who just seem to be aware of ways that they might help someone and it’s because they are actively looking for opportunities to serve, to help, to pitch in.  That’s the kind of person we want Coleman to be.


For Activity Days, we are contributing to a Christmas Tree Auction to raise money for the special needs kids in a local school district.  This year they are adding holiday wreaths to the auction so we tackled that project.  The part of the wreath I wanted the girls to do was to decoupage paper-mache stars found at many craft stores.  I got ours at Hobby Lobby for $1.17 each.

You might know by now that I am a believer in providing a lesson with whatever activity we are doing so we started off with the following:

SERVICE LESSON IDEA (about 20 minutes):

1.  Discuss how Christmas and Thanksgiving is an amazing time to serve.  Ask: What are some ways we serve during this time of year?

2.  Divide girls into groups of 3-4 people (we like to count them off 1,2,3,4, to scramble them up…1s go together, etc.)


Give each of them the following questions to discuss together.  Each girl can read one of the questions to the group then they all answer.  Come back together as a whole group and have each girl share one thing that SOMEONE ELSE said in their discussion.

3.  Show girls a finished paper-mache star.  Discuss that the star represents the birth of the Savior at Christmas but it also represents light.  Read 3 Nephi 12:16 found in the Book of Mormon.  We all have the light of Christ that shines when we do good works – or service.   The stars on our wreath will represent the light that we share through our good works.


4.  Have each girl write their feelings about service.  You can use any format you choose but here is the template I had the girls in our group follow to compose their thoughts.  We then put their letters about service in an envelope and tucked it into the wreath as a little treasure for the auction winner to find.



paper-mache star or other shape
pages from a book (I used The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson)
mod podge (I use matte finish but it doesn’t matter if it’s glossy)
sponge brushes
paper plates and some kind of covering for your workspace
glitter – optional (I used Diamond Dust clear crystals)

1.  Tear the pages from your book and cut off the blank edges of each page.  Cut the text pages into about 1/2″ strips then cut most of the strips into about 1 1/2″ lengths and the rest into 1/2″ lengths.


2.  Paint Mod Podge onto the center point of the star and press a square paper firmly over the point’s ridges.  Wrap a length of paper around each of the star tips and Mod Podge them down.  Don’t be afraid to use the glue.  Just smooth out any lumps or excess glue with your foam brush.  Press down the paper as you go.


3.  Cover entire star with paper strips, pressing down and overlapping until the entire star is covered.  Paint a final thin coat of Mod Podge over the entire star and quickly sprinkle glitter while the glue is still wet.  Place somewhere safe to dry.


For our wreath, I used a beautiful boxwood wreath and fun red and white ornaments.  I had the custom word “give” cut from a local laser cutting company so that it fit the wreath perfectly.  All of the products used for our wreath were donated by a local doctor’s office so we didn’t have to use our budget for the supplies.  There are many local businesses who are willing to help with events like the Christmas Tree Auction but who do not want to make the tree or wreath themselves.  Ask around and see if you can partner with a business for this project.

I handled putting the wreath together because it takes too long for the Mod Podge to dry.   The girls were happy to do their part and didn’t seem to need to see the finished project that day.  I love that about them!

Decoupage is a simple project for kids this age to do so while we worked, we talked about techniques and discussed other projects (like frames or clipboards or the cover of a journal) that could be Mod Podged.  We also discussed all of the types of papers that could be used as well.  We like to inspire them to try things on their own with the skills they’ve learned and Mod Podging is a great way for kids to be successful at crafting.


This activity can be translated to Cub Scouts or youth groups as well.  When contributing something to an auction, think about how the kids can be involved but also raise the most money possible for your project.  That is the point of charity auctions – to raise money.  Kids can have a fabulous experience learning about service and contributing to the project without having to do every single part of the end product.  And it’s great to teach them a crafting skill as well.

I truly hope you enjoy this holiday season of crafting and serving!

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Want a fabulous, fun and meaningful service experience for Activity Days or any or youth group?  Here it is.  We have done activities focused on individual worth and personal development and building relationships and we decided it was time to do an activity centered solely on service.



We pin-lifted this idea from theficklepickle.  as our starting point.  The girls became “Secret Service Agents” who received a top secret mission delivered to their homes in a large manila envelope.  Click on the links below to see what was included in the “Top Secret Mission” package:


Susan (our leader who was in charge of the packets) pretty much just reworked the downloads from theficklepickle.  Why reinvent something that was already done so well?  Susan also included a different list of service ideas from this blog post by katharinemaries.com.

To personalize their Mission Packets we asked each girl to choose a “Secret Agent Name” which was used as the label on their envelope.  Names could be a number or nickname or something they liked.  We had “Agent Triple S Squid,” and “Agent Nerdy Bird,” and “Agent Flexken 2” but my personal favorite: “Agent M&M Mad Dog.”  Oh, she’s fierce.  All 42 pounds of her.


GOAL: Practice doing acts of service in a variety of situations and locations.  Learn to see where they can help and act on those observations. Recognize the joy that comes from serving.

Two weeks before the night of the activity the girls received their Secret Service Mission Packets.   During the next two weeks, they were to plan and execute a week’s worth of secret service.  Seven days.  Seven acts of service.  Ideas were listed in their packets.  Everything from taking shopping carts back, holding a public door open for others for 10 minutes straight and smiling at people to inviting someone to play, reading to a younger sibling, or baking cookies for a neighbor.

Each girl wrote down their service experiences each day.  What they did, how they felt, and what the reaction was.  They used this written report to share their experiences at our Recognition Night.



An invitation was included in the Top Secret Mission packet described above – delivered two weeks before the event.  All parents were invited to attend with their daughters and everyone was encouraged to dress in their best spy gear if they chose.   When they arrived to the activity we gave each of the girls a sticker nametag with their Secret Agent Name on it so they could stay in character.



During the weeks before the activity we asked the girls to wear their hair in a ponytail if possible and took profile pictures of each girl.  We then cut out a silhouette from that picture, mounted it to a circle of cardstock (created by cutting it with an Xacto knife and a dinner plate as a template) and then mounted it again to a 12×12 sheet of cardstock.  Tip: an easy way to cut the silhouettes was to print each photo in draft quality on a full-size 8.5″x11″ sheet of paper.  Hold a white sheet of paper under the photo and cut around the silhouette shape in the photo to create your clean white silhouette cut-out.  The photo becomes the pattern for cutting.  Try to get as detailed as possible.  There is no need to trace each picture to get a good silhouette so skip that step and simply use the photo as the pattern.  Wearing their hair up somehow, made a much better silhouette than having it down.

The “secret silhouettes” became the backdrop for our activity as well as an ice breaker as each person tried to figure out who was who on the wall!



WELCOME + LESSON: Since we love to have the program focus on the girls themselves, we had a short lesson by a leader “Agent Hadley” who taught for about 7 minutes about the power of working together in our service efforts.  She used this talk as a reference and emphasized the impact they all can make if everyone chooses to work together in their efforts to do a little service.  Plus, she was funny.  That was a bonus.

AGENT REPORTS: Each girl shared their Secret Agent Name and then reported on their service experiences over the last week.  They shared their feelings about service and their favorite secret service ideas.  If you’re thinking that this would take a long time, think again.  8-11 year-old girls like to talk for about 45 seconds each.  Bam.  Done.  Move on to the next person.

SERVICE PROJECTS  TO GO: Since the girls had spent the last two weeks focusing on serving within their sphere of influence, much of their effort happened in their own homes.  We wanted to extend their service even more to the community.  We moved to another room where we offered two other service projects that they completed with their parents.  We wrote the instructions to each project on the board.


Service Project #1: “Thanks for Serving Me” Treats – 5 bubblegum packets each.  They tied a tag to each little treat bag and were instructed to give them to people in the community who helped them.  The bank teller, the crossing guard, the cashier…just keep them in the car or in their mom’s purse and hand them out when they receive help from someone else.  What a better way to watch for service in their lives – not only were we encouraging them to give service but to be grateful for the service that was done for them as well.  This idea was found here in the super comprehensive and creative list of ways for kids (and grown-ups!) to serve.  We pulled it out to add to our experience of service that night.


Place all of the supplies on a table and let the girls choose which tags and treat combos they want to use.  Another small table held the scissors and hole punches.  A length of masking tape was a great way to help the girls measure the twine lengths themselves.  We wanted them to be independent and paying attention to the set up of the activity helped them make that happen.




Here’s the download for the tags I created for this project.  These can also be included in Project Life books or used as other paper crafting projects, tags, labels and cards.  Click on the title below to download the tags.  Print them out on basic cardstock (my go-to for church activities is a ream of white cardstock found at Wal-mart for about $5).  Cut the tags apart and they are ready for your event.

Thank You for Serving – Tags Thank You for Serving - Tags with watermark

Service Project #2: Fleece Dog Toys – donated to a local animal shelter.  The toys were then sent home with adopted dogs.  Let me tell you – girls LOVE doing things for little doggies!  Click here for instructions.  Be sure to check with your animal shelter to make sure that these can be donated there – the dogs couldn’t use them at the shelter itself because of threads and fabric getting in the air circulation system but they were willing to send one home with each adopted dog as a keepsake.



We were done in about an hour.  With everything.  And look at what happened in that hour – it was an activity packed with meaningful contributions from each girl, parental involvement, and a way to extend their experiences beyond the activity itself.  And we have loved hearing about their opportunities to hand out their thank you treats.  It took some bravery on their part and the excitement they felt when they recognized service being done to them and then expressed thanks for it was thrilling.


We are so proud of them for taking on their “Secret Service Missions” so completely and energetically.  And a shout out to the parents for supporting and encouraging them in their tasks.  Plan ahead and do this activity with your youth or children’s group – it’s a keeper.

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Get ready for Mother’s Day with my Silhouette shapes available here in my Silhouette store.

Check out this link for this project featured on the Silhouette blog using my “Love You Mom” shape:

Love You Mom

Here are some more new shapes for you to use for Mother’s Day, including vinyl subway art, a layered phrase, and a flourished phrase.  Give these a try for your Mother’s Day projects.

Mother Subway Vinyl - Thumbnail

Home is Where Mom Is - ThumbnailMy Mother - Thumbnail

Here is a card for every mom in your life  from last year’s collection of letter-size cards.Sentiment Letter-Size Card - Mother Thumbnail

Sentiment Letter-Size Card - Like a Mom Thumbnail

Sentiment Letter-Size Card - Grandma Thumbnail

Life Cards for Project Life or to use as an embellishment on all of your projects:

PL Quotes1 - Mother - Thumbnail

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you women out there – you are mothering someone. Enjoy the day celebrating the mothers in your life.

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Need a last-minute Easter gift?  Here’s the project Coleman and I have been working on this week.


I spray painted this phrase from my Silhouette store and Coleman quickly poured Diamond Dust glitter on it.  The paint acted like the adhesive.  Then I turned my back to spray the background of the blue tag and Cole proceeded to dig his hands into the jar of Diamond Dust and lift them out.



Oh well, there are worse things than a layer of glitter in your life.

I used this set of bracket labels for the tags.  I applied washi tape in strips on my white cardstock before running it through the Silhouette Cameo.  Result: custom cut washi tape background for my glittered peeps phrase.  However, this technique didn’t really work when I tried to cut out the phrase because it was more intricate of a shape.  Simpler shapes are more successful.


To create the dots on the blue tag, just place coins on top of the cut design (I used pennies) and spray paint lightly over the whole thing.  The pennies work as a mask.


I get impatient so instead of waiting for it to dry, I simply flipped the pennies off the card and let it sit for about 10 minutes to dry.  The paint dries quickly on cardstock.



We painted the phrase a different color and attached it to the background.  Done.

Here’s to you – my favorite peeps!

Happy Easter!

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Do you want to have 10-11 year-old girls come out in droves to learn something new at Activity Days?

Just tell them you will be decorating cupcakes.


We had virtually all of our Activity Day girls show up at my front door for our last activity and for good reason.   With the help of my neighbor Nikki and her skills with frosting, our Cupcake Decorating Service Project was a huge hit.  And I can’t forget the other three moms who came to help with our activity – we needed extra hands to help with the bag filling, decorating, card making, wrapping, and overall encouraging.  We had 5 adults for 16 girls and if you are lucky enough to have people willing to help you with this activity, that was a good child/parent ratio for this age of girls.  Our awesome activity would have been a completely different experience without fabulous moms willing to get up to their elbows in frosting and curling ribbon.


Goal #1: Teach the girls how to do different techniques using frosting tips.

Goal #2: Teach how to write a meaningful thank you or thinking of you note and experience serving others.

How we accomplished Goal #1:

1.  Nikki demonstrated how to create an icing bag using a ziplock and different frosting tips.  We pre-filled some bags with various colors and used a variety of tips for them to choose from.  Any other color/tip combinations they wanted were “made to order” as the activity went on.

2.  We divided the girls into two groups to spread out the activity.  This helped us give more one-on-one attention and made it so we didn’t need quite as many tools as we would have if all 16 girls had been decorating at the same time.  The other group worked on creating cards and cupcake toppers for their cupcakes.


3.  Skills taught:

  • How to make grass.  We added jellybeans to the pile of grass on their cupcake for a great Easter theme if they chose.
  • How to make flowers.  They were challenged to fill an entire cupcake top with star flowers – you could see them get better as they went along.
  • How to do the famous cupcake swirl.  Everyone needs to know how to do this one, right?


They were then unleashed to decorate to their hearts content with frosting and little candies and sprinkles.  My favorite part was listening to them help each other, give tips to one another, and ask for certain tip/color combinations.  They did a great job of sharing and being creative as they created 3 cupcake works of art to give away and 1 cupcake for them to eat!

In the meantime, the second group was working on Goal #2:


1.  I covered the table in butcher paper to protect it and wrote the instructions in multiple places directly on the butcher paper so it was easy to see what to do.  They created either a thank you card or a thinking of you card by adhering all pieces together.  They added fun foam glitter hearts because glitter + hearts = fabulous.



2.  Inside their card, they were challenged to write a MEANINGFUL note to someone special that they were going to give 3 of their cupcakes to.  Here were the steps that I outlined to help them write their notes.  This template can be used for kids of all ages to help them learn how to communicate their appreciation more clearly and meaningfully.


3.  They created a cupcake topper by taking two glitter fun foam hearts and attaching them back-to-back onto a toothpick.  Easy and so cute.


4.  Finally, they wrapped up their 3 “give away” cupcakes, tied on the card with a ribbon and left an hour later with gorgeous gifts in their hands, smiles on their faces, and the challenge to deliver their gift sometime that day.


I’m a big believer in activities with purpose so instead of just decorating cupcakes for themselves, we added more purpose and got the girls to think outside of themselves by turning it into a service project.  Service always wins when it comes to developing the character of our kids so why not build service into as many things they are already doing as possible?  I think that decorating their cupcakes with the intention of giving them away changed their commitment to the project.  It got them focused on celebrating others while loving the activity at the same time.  And the sense of accomplishment was even stronger when service was involved.  Give it a try – let me know if adding service makes a difference in your activities.

Is that a horse made out of Hershey kisses?

One word.



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Madly in Love Printable Madly in Love – 5×7

Madly in Love – 8×10

I need to tell you about my friend.  She called and asked if I could help her with this quote because she was doing the 14 Days of Valentines for her husband and wanted to give it to him for one of the days.

Here’s what she said,

“It’s a quote from Peeta in The Hunger Games but that’s not why I like it.

It’s just so us.

What a way to be able to describe your relationship!   These two are in love.  Five children later and a living simple lifestyle, they are madly, happily in love and aren’t afraid to show it.
What better words to wake up to each day.Relationships take work.  They take fun.  They don’t have to be flashy or expensive or filled with gadgets or presents or trips.  But the best ones are filled with true love for one another and the ability to think the journey together is fabulous.

So, we printed this out on white textured cardstock, trimmed it to 5″x7″ and Amber popped it into this floating frame from Target.  She wrapped it up and set it on her husband’s shelf in their bedroom for him to find.

What a great thought to wake up to each day.

Here’s to loving someone madly.  Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.


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