DIY Wooden Photo Ornament

Each holiday we have two important traditions:

1. Make ornaments for our tree.
2. Add an ornament with our family photo.

This year I combined the two and made a wooden photo ornament that we LOVE. I’m so thrilled with how it turned out especially since I ordered one last year and was disappointed by it. The photo was printed directly on the block making the details faded and hard to see.

This project is easy, inexpensive and makes for great gifts! Here’s the breakdown of how to make one for yourself:

Video Tutorial:

Detailed Instructions:


  • Wooden block (The one I used is 2inches and purchased from Michaels for $1.50)
  • Screw eyelets (Purchased from Home Depot – $1 for pack of 8)
  • Mod Podge (I had this but you can find it at Michaels or any craft store)
  • Foam Brush (same as above)
  • Ribbon
  • Scrapbook paper and photos cut to size of block

  • Use the foam brush to add a thin layer of Mod Podge to block and add photos/paper one side at a time.
  • Add 1-2 layers of Mod Podge over the photo/paper. Let dry in between each layer.

Drill a small hole in the center of the top.

Screw in the eyelet.

Tie your ribbon.

And … there you have it. A beautiful wooden ornament with clear photos of your loved ones.

Easy peasy, right?! Hope this inspires you to make one or a dozen like I did this year.

For more DIY ornaments check out what we’ve made in years past.

Our Halloween Costumes were featured on…

We are honored and totally stoked for our Halloween costumes to be featured on…

MSN – 15 Best Family Halloween Costumes

Huffington Post – 59 Family Halloween Costumes that are Clever, Cool and Extra Cute

We were interviewed from The Penny Hoarder for this article: 6 Costume Contests with Cash Prizes

Last year, our Games costumes won 2nd place for this contest on Costume Works.

Making Halloween costumes each year has become such a fun tradition for us – we love it! So happy to be sharing this love of creating with you all.


DIY Star Wars Costumes


We had the opportunity to go to Comic-con this year and of course, we had to make our Star Wars cosplay for it! We’ll try to write instructions on how we made these costumes as best as possible as we didn’t document the process by photos.


Ewok Hood:

  • Cut hood and ear pieces. Pin and sew together.
  • Cut face opening – raw fabric edges make a nice touch for this costume
  • Hand stitch black embroidery thread to front of hood

Ewok Staff:

  • We had this bamboo stick
  • Covered one end with duct tape and hot glued twine around it
  • Blade is made from an old foam floor mat



Princess Leia Dress:

  • Sewed her dress (using an existing shirt as a template)
  • Added elastic gold trim around waist

Hair Buns:

  • Cover a basic plastic headband with brown felt
  • To start the buns, cut some circular cardboard pieces and glue them to the sides of the headband
  • Using brown yarn, make 2 very long braids.
  • Hot glue one end of braid to the center of the circular cardboard. Gradually glue and wrap around until you’ve reached the outer edge of the cardboard.






Luke Skywalker Costume:

Shirt is a large rectangle, folded in half with slits cut in the sides to insert a belt.

Green part that covers hat is foam covered with duct tape.



R2D2 Costume:


Used a basic white tank top.

Sew a strip/tube of blue fabric (I used part of an old shirt) to skirt as follows.


Attach the other end of the blue fabric to the tank top.


This is how it looks when sewing is complete.


Added a pocket in the back to hold my phone and wallet!


The details are made from fabric cut and glued to outfit. Also used permanent marker to draw in black lines.

We made 2 different head pieces. The larger one was made from a large plastic bowl. Thought it might be hard to walk around Comic-con with this so we made the smaller one from an old baseball cap. Used a headlight and draped fabric over it. Then glued on the additional blue/red pieces of fabric.


“Obi-Wan, you’re my only hope.”

Hope this helps and inspires you to make some fun Star Wars costumes for you and your littles.

Planning a Star Wars Party? Check out this post for some fun ideas.




See the video on how we made this giant AT AT head from start to finish:


Halloween 2016 – Space

This year our son’s school requested for peaceful costumes of someone from history that made a difference in our lives. Mission: our costumes had to revolve around him being an astronaut. Lo and behold our Space Themed costumes this year!



The most hilarious costume of the bunch. See the full tutorial on how we made this moon.


The most realistic costume of the bunch. See the full tutorial on how we made this astronaut illusion costume.


The cutest costume of the bunch. See the full tutorial on how we made this space shuttle costume.


The easy and artful costume of the bunch. See the full tutorial on how we made this big dipper constellation.

Hope this inspires you to make something and create lasting memories for you family.

DIY Space Shuttle Costume

This little space shuttle is ready for lift off.


Again, we couldn’t find many good tutorials on how to make a wearable space shuttle so we’re glad to be offering this to you all.

We completely forgot to take early photos of the construction but we’ll try to explain as best we can.


Find a good sized box (we happen to have this cranberry juice box from a trip to Costco). Cut an opening (toward the front of the box) large enough for child to fit through. Bottom of box is open. Cut and add cardboard for front and wings. We used packing tape but use duct tape if you can, it’s stronger. Two engine compartments in the back are made with card stock paper.

space_shuttle_costume_2 space_shuttle_costume_3 space_shuttle_costume_4

To bend the cardboard in the front, first score the cardboard.


Wrapped everything in lightweight white fabric using hot glue.


Cut slits in cups. Use pipe cleaners and straws to hold them in place.

space_shuttle_costume_7 space_shuttle_costume_8

Hot glue some red, yellow or orange tissue paper inside cups.


Cover two toilet paper rolls with black duct tape and glue inside engine compartments. Full disclaimer, I think space shuttles only have 3 engines so this may not be accurate.

space_shuttle_costume_11 space_shuttle_costume_12

We didn’t think our 3yr old would keep straps on well so we made a little tank she could easily wear and keep on.


Added windows and details around wings with black felt. Hand drew the lines using black marker. Printed and glued space shuttle logos to make it look legit.


Off she goes. The most adorable space shuttle astronaut ever.


Time and cost breakdown:

This costume took about 8hrs to make and $5 was spent on materials (cups $1, tissue paper $1 and white fabric $3).

Hope this inspires you to make something you and your kiddos will love.

This costume was 1 of 4 space themed costumes we made for our family this year.


Check out tutorials for the moon, astronaut and big dipper constellation costumes.

DIY Astronaut Costume

5, 4, 3, 2, 1…Blast off! My little boy is on his way to outer space.


We are so thrilled and proud of how this costume turned out! There weren’t too many tutorials and it looked pretty complex and intimidating to make, but we accepted the challenge. It took over 15hrs to make but it was well worth all the time and prep. So happy to be sharing this tutorial with you.

Here’s a step-by-step on how we put it all together.


To make the flames we started by making a simple skirt. We used an old orange (or you can use red) t-shirt with an added elastic waistband so he could easily slip in and out of it.


Then, we cut triangles from yellow, red and orange fabric (mostly from scrap fabric and old t-shirts). Hot glued them onto the skirt – starting from the bottom and moving up. Note, triangle pieces toward bottom of skirt are smaller and gradually get larger toward the top.


For the rocket pack, we used cardboard, hot glue and duct tape. The bottom is left open for his legs while the top is closed. Underneath is a large opening where his body will fit – better view in photos below.

astronaut_costume_3 astronaut_costume_4 astronaut_costume_5

To give it some dimension, we added more cardboard details. To bend the cardboard into cylinders we scored it with an hobby knife first.


Cut slits in cardboard and inserted elastic for straps so he could wear it like a backpack.


Painted it white and added some spaceship logos to make it look official.


We lucked out and found a kid’s space suit from Marshall’s. Cut a horizontal slit in the back of the space suit. Stitched it loosely around the opening to keep the filling from falling out.

Now for the ‘fake’ legs – these were tricky.

This took quite some thought to figure out:

1. What materials to use to keep it light weight

2. How to get them to bend (and stay bent)

3. How to attach them to his body


 We decided to use cardboard and a pool noodle. Cut the cardboard and pool noodle like above.


Attached pool noodles to cardboard using hot glue and duct tape. Leave 1-2 inches of cardboard to attach to piece below.


The rectangular piece of cardboard will be the piece that’s against the body.


Insert and glue/tape from the front and behind.


Added the thick black strap which will go behind his neck.


Threaded a belt into the cardboard to secure the legs around his waist and keep them from falling.

Assembling the outfit can be tricky so here’s a walk through…


Put on flame skirt


Wear the space suit by entering thru the open slit in the back.


Buckle the belt.


The space suit came with these fabric boots which were perfect because they were super light weight and we didn’t have to figure out how to attach real shoes/boots to the outfit.


Insert legs into the opening of rocket pack. Pull rocket pack up and wear backpack straps. Note: Wear red/orange shoes to blend in with flames.




We can’t get over how real this looks!


Cost breakdown:

The only thing we purchased for this costume was the space suit (found at Marshall’s for $25), a pool noodle ($2) and some fabric for the flames ($2) – Total cost, $29.

This was definitely one of the most challenging costumes we made to date. We learned a lot about engineering and construction along the way. Hope this inspires you to take on a project that pushes you beyond your comfort zone.

If this tutorial is helpful and you make your own version we’d love to hear from you!

This costume was 1 of 4 space themed costumes we made for our family this year.


Check out tutorials for the moon, space shuttle and big dipper constellation costumes.

DIY Big Dipper Constellation Costume


This is one of the least complex costumes we’ve made but definitely one of the coolest. Come on – how many costumes can light up at night?!

We found no good tutorials for this online. Happy to be sharing this with you all…


Materials used:

  • 7 LED tea lights
  • black long sleeve shirt
  • white felt fabric (or any fabric that is stiff enough to hold it’s shape)
  • black fabric (I used felt but in hindsight a thinner fabric would work best)


Cut stars out, cut slit in stars and poke holes in shirt where stars need to be.

constellation_costume_3 constellation_costume_4

Since these lights were borrowed I had to find a way to attach them without damaging them, like by using a hot glue gun which is usually my default tool. These stars were hand sewn in place.


Hand sewed a circular piece of fabric to the underside of the shirt to keep the lights in place. The lights have a switch on the back to turn on and it was difficult to locate through the felt – hence why using a thinner fabric would be wise.


This costume goes from looking just okay during the day to amazing at night.

Time and cost breakdown:

This costume took 3hrs and $0 to make. I owned the shirt and felt fabric. The lights were borrowed from a friend who happened to have the perfect LED tea lights.

Hope this inspires you to take your projects to the next level by adding an element of surprise.

This costume was 1 of 4 space themed costumes we made for our family this year.


Check out tutorials for the moon, space shuttle and astronaut costumes.

DIY Moon Costume


It’s hard not to crack up laughing at this costume. This over-sized moon head was inspired by an old campaign from McDonald’s featuring Mac Tonight with a guy with a huge moon head.

Glad to be bringing you the tutorial for this hilarious costume:



Cut, tape and glue together sides and back of cardboard.


To curve the cardboard easily, score it first.


Bottom is left open and will be partially covered with white felt.


Cover all sides with white fabric using hot glue.


Cut an opening to see through.


Create the nose using foam core.


Cut sun glass pieces using foam core. Mouth is white card stock/mat board with black marker around the edges.


Hot glue everything on and voila – a giant moon head.



Looks even more hilarious when a tiny boy is inside and all you can see are legs and feet.


Time and cost breakdown:

This costume took about 5hrs and $5 (white felt) to make.

Hope this inspires you to make something so good it makes you laugh out loud.

This costume was 1 of 4 space themed costumes we made for our family this year.


Check out tutorials for the astronaut, space shuttle and big dipper constellation costumes.

Blessing Bags

It’s become a humbling tradition for us to put together Blessing Bags each year to give to the homeless in our community. We typically go to a local park and hand them out with our kids. These are also great to make for homeless shelters or keep handy in your car when you see someone in need.

This year Zander helped decorate and fill the bags. He drew a person, rays of sun for hope and a house in hopes they will find a permanent home soon. I collected items from our various hotel stays, dental visits and combined them with some other useful items like snacks and bandages. For more ideas and a printable checklist on items that would be great for blessing bags this is a great site.


I attached this business card sized card into all the bags along with a small about of money to help encourage and motivate those who receive the bags. Click here to download a printable of this card.

Although these donations are small, they are a very real and tangible way to help someone in need and a great way to teach kiddos to be humble and care for others.

Hope this inspires you to get your kids involved in blessing someone else’s life!

Holiday Card Ideas

Each year we try to do something fun with our holiday cards. Here we are throughout the years. Hope these inspire you to do something fun with yours this year!


2015: A Year Full of LAUGHS

L…lavishly made Halloween costumes
A…adorable bow ties
U…utterly fantastic silly faces
G…gigantic paper mache heads
H…hilarious hats and headbands
S…sharks, selfies and shoulder rides


2014: Happy Holidays to the tune of Holly Jolly Christmas

We have a holly jolly household
It’s messy allll year
Well, I’m pretty sure there won’t be snow (in San Diego)
So we’ll have a glass of beer

We have a holly jolly household
And when you walk down the hall
Say hello to the legos we know
And how they puncture our feet

Ho, ho, Zander goes
To preschool and is happy as can be
Zoey runs to you
Kiss her once for me

We have a holly jolly household
In case you didn’t hear
Oh, by golly, Chris is designing advanced concepts
This year

We have a holly jolly household
And when you walk into Mary’s office
Say hello to the ROO you know
And everything is sweet

We have a holly jolly household
This year


2013: Happy Holidays to the tune of Deck the Halls

Deck our house with baby Zoey
Fa la la la la, la la la la
She’s our reason to be jolly
Fa la la la la, la la la la

Zander’s in big boy apparel
Fa la la la la, la la la la
He’s potty trained and learned his first
Christmas carol
Fa la la la la, la la la la

Chris and Mary’s designs are increasingly clever
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Levi likes to play and sleep for pleasure
Fa la la la la, la la la la

Amazed how quickly the year passes
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Gone are the days that move slow like molasses
Fa la la la la, la la la la

Here’s our family, all together
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Days and nights, filled with laughter
Fa la la la la, la la la la


2012: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Love, Chris, Mary, Zander & Levi


 2011: Happy Holidays to the tune of 12 Days of Christmas

On the 12th month of the year
My true love gave to me

12 days of traveling
11 crocheted hats
10 halloween costumes
9 birthday wishes
8 swimming lessons
7 days with family
6 camping trips
5 days at the beach
4 easter eggs
3 trips to the zoo
2 sled rides
And a baby Zander in a custom tee


 2010: Happy Holidays – The hightlight of our year… – To the tune of Jingle Bells

Labor bells labor bells
Zander’s on the way

Oh what fun it would be
To bring our baby home today

Dashing to the hospital
On our hybrid sleigh
Over to la Jolla we go
Contractions all the way

The baby car seat’s in
We hope we installed it right
What fun it will be to give
Levi a brother tonight

Labor bells labor bells
Zander’s on the way

Oh what fun it will be
To meet and hold our baby tonight

On the 19th of September
Two thousand ten
Our precious baby boy was born
And our life won’t be the same again

Now we’re changing diapers
So many we lost count
Who knew a baby could poo so much
Guess that’s what parenting’s all about

Baby bells baby bells
Zander’s here to stay

Oh what fun it has been
To raise our precious Zander
Each and everyday!