Dec 29

My Christmas Project

by Hannah Holt »

Comments Off on My Christmas Project

This year we did a homemade Christmas. I thought it would simplify  the season and make it more meaningful.

It did make the season more meaningful, but simplify…not so much.

I made a personalized fan art for my nieces and nephews.

The first step was easy. I googled high resolution images of their favorite characters, printed these, and copied the scene using tracing paper and pencil.


After the initial sketch I went over all the lines heavily with a #2 pencil.

Then using a family photo, I traced in an additional character (or in this case a new face):


{Here I taped the tracing paper right to my computer screen using masking tape. This made it easy to zoom in and out until the picture was the right size for the picture.}

Once I had all the lines the way I wanted them. I took my tracing and transferred it to 140lb watercolor paper by placing the drawing face down and rubbing the back with pencil.


This makes a light mirror image copy on the new paper:


From there on out it just became a a process of coloring in the lines with watercolors:


Peter pan fan art

So it wasn’t overly difficult, but it was time consuming, especially considering I made five of these this month. But it was fun and it felt good when they finally all went out in the mail.

Happy holidays all!





Dec 19

Star Wars Birthday Party

by Hannah Holt »

one comment

My big-little-man turned eight this month. His current passion is Star Wars, and that’s convenient for me because Star Wars is everywhere.

I picked up this banner from my local party supply store for about $3, and we played pin the lightsaber on Darth Vadar:


We pinned lightsabers by printing off paper lightsabers from this post.

At first the kids were, like…

Kids: Hey, Darth Vadar already has a lightsaber!

Me: If you win, you get silly putty.

Kids: Ooooh, can I go first? No me! No me!

Cheap motivational prizes solve pretty much all potential birthday party problems.

I also made a Death Star Piñata:

death star pinjata

Really, who doesn’t want to take a whack at the Death Star?

The nice thing about the Death Star is it’s round.


Don’t tell Darth Vadar we built this Death Star around a pink balloon. The piñata paste was made by combining all-purpose flour and water at a 1:1 ratio (one cup water, one cup flour). I dipped newspaper strips in the paste and covered the balloon until I felt like it was strong enough to withstand a rebel attack.


I let it dry for a few days and the cut a hole for the prizes. Then I taped up the hole really well and painted over the entire thing with black and gray acrylic paint (see above).

For the pièce de résistance, I made a Millennium Falcon cake:

melennium falcon cake

I baked two cake rounds, chopped one of the circles up, gave the entire cake a drizzle glaze (regular frosting with extra milk added) of white over they entire cake, and marked it up with gray and black cake decorating gel (click to see a larger step-by-step photo process. I usually frost my cakes with wax paper liners underneath. Then I can remove the wax paper and any frosting drips.

millenium falcon cake inst

Dec 04

Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House (in Gingerbread)

by Hannah Holt »


If you could make any building from children’s literature out of gingerbread, what would it be?

I would love to make The Plaza Hotel from Elouise or Harry Potter’s Hogwarts. I used to make gingerbread castles, creating full scale models from cardboard and etc (hey, I was a civil engineering major).

But these days, with the kids, my gingerbread creations are more modest. This year I made Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House.

The Little House in Gingerbread

I used the recipe and gingerbread template from Bon Appétit. This recipe is super-delicious, and it makes enough dough for six small gingerbread houses (like the above) or if you are feeling more ambitious…perhaps, the castle from Journey:

What would you build?

Nov 07

Layers of the Earth

by Hannah Holt »


The other day my five-year-old asked me, “What’s a continent?”

Me, “It’s a large land area on a tectonic plate.” (My husband likes to tease me for being incapable of simple explanations. I thought I was keeping it pretty simple, until…)

Him, “What’s a tectonic plate?”

Suddenly, I knew this explanation needed play-doh:

Layers of the earth playdoh1

Question: What is a tectonic plate?

Answer: Tectonic plates are pieces of the earth’s crust. The earth’s crust is one of three main layers of the earth, including the core, mantle, and crust.

The core is the center of the earth. It is made mostly of metal and is surrounded by a liquid-ish mantle:

core and mantle

The earth’s crust rests on the mantle:


The crust is where you find people, and continents, and, oceans and….


I tried keeping it simple. How I’d do?

Oct 29

Ginger-Spooks & Pumpkin Puppets

by Hannah Holt »


This week I had a hankering for gingerbread. It might be too early for Christmas music and gingerbread men, but it’s the perfect time for ginger-spooks!

ginger skeletons

Boo! I followed this recipe for ginger cookies, and frosted them monster-style with a simple glaze.

{Note: to pipe designs on the cookies, I filled a sandwich bag with frosting and snipped off one of the corners with scissors. No fancy cake decorating supplies needed!)

ginger skeletons2

They were frightfully good!

We also made paper bag pumpkin puppets. I always keep lunch bags around the house. They are cheap and have so many uses. I cut pumpkin faces and features from construction paper and showed the kids how to glue them to the bags.


pumpkin puppetpumpkin puppet1

Happy Halloween!

pumpkin puppet2