Oct 01

Patriotic Paper Dolls

by Hannah Holt »

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These patriotic paper doll are to honor the women and men serving our country. I have so much respect for those in uniform and their families–hats off to you!

I know, I know…I could have done more to explore all the branches of service (maybe someday I will), but I had to chose one for now. My choice of navy is for my neighbor.

By the way, the naval ceremonial wear for women comes in several options, both pants and skirt. In the full-color version, I display the pants and in the black-and-white version I drew the skirt. You can choose which version you like best.

I hope you enjoy!

Military Paper Dolls


For a pdf of the color version click here.

Military Paper Dollsbw


For a pdf of the coloring page click here.

Sep 24

20 Kitchen Activities for a Rainy Day

by Hannah Holt »



Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day…

We can wish all we want, but it looks like the rain is here to stay. We’re keeping cabin fever at bay on these rainy, rainy days by staying busy. I have two three-year-olds, so we need to stay really busy if I don’t want the laundry dumped all over the house or Vaseline smeared on the walls. Here’s how we create, engineer, grow, and explore in our kitchen.

Part I – Create


1. Grease cake pans and dust with flour. Instant finger painting.

2.  Cut a round oatmeal container in half. Using a strip of thick construction paper of thin cardboard, create a handle for the top. You now have a basket to decorate.

3. Using markers, crayons, and string, make a paper plate mask.

4.  Glue dried beans and pasta to a paper plate to create an artistic mosaic.

5. String penne, macaroni, or rigatoni noodles together to make a necklace. The fatter the noodle hole the easier it will be for little fingers.

Part II – Engineer


6. Use toothpicks and marshmallows to create shapes, structures, and more.

7. Build a tower out of clean food storage containers.

8. Hand your child a straws and have them blow feathers or small strips of paper across the floor.

9. Race canned foods on an incline. Try different sizes and weighs of containers. Guess which can will win.

10. Turn coffee filters into parachutes. Will the parachute still work if you attach a toy?

Part III – Grow

bean sprouts11

11. Place a handful of dried beans in a ziplock bag with a slightly damp paper towel. Over the next week, watch them sprout.

12. Cut a bunch of celery down to its base. Place it in a bowl of shallow water. It will regrow. This also works with lettuce heads and green onions.

13. Open a bell pepper and plant some of the seeds in cup with potting soil. Keep the seeds moist and place by a window with sunlight.

14. Cut a potato in half and place the cut side down in a mason jar with water (you will need to suspend it part way in the water with tooth picks). Make sure at least one of the potato’s eyes is below the water level. Place in a sunny spot and watch it grow.

15. Place a piece of white bread in a plastic bag with small helping of mud. Watch the mold grow.

Part IV – Explore

cups 16

16. Using a pencil, punch holes in a Styrofoam cup. Let the kids splash in the sink and watch the water drain out the holes.

17. Empty a cupboard, and turn it into a child’s hideout for the day.

18. Give children a cupcake pan and an assortment of colored beads. Have them count, sort, and arrange the beads.

19. Freeze toys in ice. Place the ice blocks in a big storage bin and have children chip away at the ice until the toys are free.

20. Create a masking tape grid on the floor. Have the kids jump from square to square. They can also make their own roads with the tape and design a city.

I hope all your rainy days are happy days!

Sep 11

Rainbow Drums

by Hannah Holt »

one comment

Yesterday, after washing out a couple of milk jugs, we were tapping the jugs together. I thought, this is a pretty good drum, but do you know what would make it even better? PAINT!

Paint in milk jug

We took off the lids and added some cheap acrylic paint. Then we put the lids back on and kept banging and shaking the jugs.

That was fun, but we decided we needed MORE paint and MORE colors.

More paint

Much better!

milk jug paing final

In the end we had two beautiful and unique drums.



My girls loved playing their “rainbow drums.”

If you try it here are a couple of tips:

-This craft will probably work with other types of paints. Just make sure the paint is runny enough to slop around, but not so thin that it won’t stick to the milk jug sides. The cheapest brand of acrylic paint seemed to work perfectly.

-Watch that the kids don’t unscrew the lids. My girls kept trying to add more paint by themselves. If you do this with a group of children, you might want to fill the jugs with paint right before the activity. Then screw the lids on really tight or glue them shut.

-Don’t add so much paint that the colors blend together too quickly. I recommend about 1/8 cup of paint per color. For a more vibrant display of colors, shake in one color at a time and allow drying between.




May 16

Music and Art Paper Dolls

by Hannah Holt »


Sometimes I’m asked how I made the switch from engineering to writing.

For me, it’s a no brainer. Engineering and writing require the same key trait—persistence.

That doesn’t mean all skills transferred. However, differentiating an equation isn’t that much different than writing a story, or painting a picture if you ask the question WHY. Why is 2x the derivative of x²? What makes a good story? Can the painting be pushed further?

Solving an equation to find the answer isn’t very interesting. The process is the intriguing part. It holds the keys to unlocking more equations and blazing new trails. You’ll never find those paths by flipping to the answer key. The longer way takes persistence.

Writing a picture book might not seem hard. Most only boast 500 words. Anyone can write 500 words. However, filling a word count isn’t any more interesting than looking in an answer key. The trick to writing a good picture book is in creating colorful characters. The character needs a journey with a beginning, middle, and end. This requires stakes, motive, disappointment, and success—all in 500 words or less. That is why I love picture books. It’s why I read over 200 each year and critique more than 100 peer manuscripts and write hundreds of thousands of words…so I can find that perfect  500.

It’s a work in progress. It takes persistence.

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of this work: poring in hours no one will ever see. And that’s a good thing. I don’t need to be out there with all this all of the time

However, that means I haven’t been working on other projects, like my paper doll series. Well, I decided to make time. These dolls aren’t as perfect as I want them to be. They could really use five more hours. But often five more hours leads to five more hours, which leads to a complete overhaul. Somewhere I have to draw the line and be done. Persistence needs a deadline.

These dolls are a nod to the arts, but they’re also a tribute to creativity in all its forms.

I hope you enjoy!

Music paper dolls

Ann and Sarah Get Creative in Color (pdf)


Music paper dolls bw

Ann and Sarah Get Creative in Color (pdf)


Apr 01

Egg Carton Seedlings

by Hannah Holt »

one comment

For a while now, I’ve been hoarding egg carton containers.

empty egg carton planters

At first, I thought maybe I’d do a cute spring craft with them. However, then the yard project started, and I realized I need plants. Specifically, lots and lots of thyme.

Instead of grass, we are using thyme as a ground cover for a good portion of our backyard. Thyme needs less water than grass, and it smells great. Win-win. However, it’s a slow grower. So unless I want my yard to remain a dirt bowl this summer…

yard crazy

…I need to get planting. Now. Enter the egg cartons:

egg cartons with dirt

Here are a few tips when using egg cartons as seed starter planters:

  • I recommend cutting slits between the individual cups before putting the dirt in. This makes it easier to separate them as needed later.
  • When starting plants indoors, many need to be hardened before transplanting outdoors.
  • The egg cups won’t hold a very large plant. Check the germination times and recommended outdoor planting season for each type of seed. You don’t want to be growing a sunflower for very long in these little cups.
  • FYI, among other things, we are growing creeping thyme. Most thyme seeds you see in nurseries are culinary thyme. Culinary (or common ) thyme grows 6 inches tall. It’ll still make a good ground cover, but I wanted something walkable. Culinary or common thyme isn’t very walkable. It’s always a good idea to research the mature height of the seeds you plant.

With a little planning, starting from seed can save start up cost and time from your growing season. Happy planting!

egg carton seedlings