Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Salt Dough Ornaments

Salt Dough Ornaments

These funky fun salt dough ornaments make the cutest DIY gifts around!

I was so excited when I started seeing all of the salt dough recipes and ornaments popping up on facebook over the last couple of weeks. There are so many cool ideas for ornament designs and I love how people continue to come up with new ideas for an activity that's been around for generations! 

Hope you like my funky ornament ideas! 

We used this salt dough recipe we found over at

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1.5 cups water
To decorate we used:

  • Acrylic Paint 
  • Mod Podge or other sealer
  • Glitter

    • (I used a Glossy Medium and Varnish after Emmajean painted with Crayola water-based, nontoxic, acrylic paints. I did use some of my own artist grade paints on a few, because I had it on hand and I love the Golden Acrylic metallics. *I do not let Emmajean use the regular acrylics, only her non-toxic paints!)

  • Bake at 200 degrees F for around 2 hours and let cool and continue to dry-out on the counter afterward. We ended up waiting a day before we painted ours. You could take yours out sooner, different ovens vary. We waited until ours were pretty firm in the oven and white-ish in color. 

  • After your ornaments are dry, decorate and ENJOY! 

Emmajean was actually pretty good at kneading the dough! You want to knead the dough until it comes together and you can form it into a ball

Doesn't this look like my pizza dough from last month's pizza dough experiment?!

The dough is really versatile. You can roll it out fairly thin and use cookie cutters to make your simple shapes, or twist it up and build fatter more sculptural ornaments like I did with one of my wreaths, my pizza, and the people ornaments. 

Don't forget to poke holes before you bake! I used a stainless steel straw, but a regular straw, a toothpick, or even a tiny cookie cutter would work. 

I couldn't wait to make these ornaments with Emmajean this year and started to think of different designs we would try. It turns out some of my favorite ornaments were ones I hadn't planned out at all and came up with while experimenting! 

...I told you it reminded me of pizza dough! I couldn't resist!

I do still love the classic hand-print ornament. --There goes my sentimental side showing again.♥

I used a paper plate for my painter's palette. Emmajean used her crayola paints. :) 

For some reason I feel like I can finally retire this holey t-shirt
now that Emmajean has had her turn in it. ;) I'll let you know how that goes. 

I am seriously the most sentimental person you may ever come in contact with. I can't help it... and in some cases it's borderline ridiculous! For example, I'll admit that I saved one of my high school state championship t-shirts with a million holes in it; because well, it was my state champion shirt! Those holes are just proof of my love for this shirt, that era of my youth, and the countless times it has been washed! In all honesty, it's been years since I've actually worn it. A couple of weeks ago I was cleaning out my drawers and came across it. I held the holey soft fabric in my hands, and again couldn't part with it. Now, I'm not trying to be an enabler for those of you with serious hoarding problems, but in this case I'm pretty glad I hung on to it. Before we got totally messy painting our salt dough ornaments, the thought occurred to me that I could use it for Emmajean's artist smock.  

So, before we started the second phase of salt dough ornaments, the decorating phase, I grabbed my old t-shirt for Emmajean to wear. I tied it up behind her back, creating a little dress that she could get messy in! It was so cute to watch her first time crafting with her new paint brush, her first handmade ornaments (that she actually helped with), and all in my old holey t-shirt! Go BISON! 

We'll be keeping several of these beauties and sending some to family, too! I think we made around 20 ornaments out of this one batch of dough! I'm starting to think I could make a business out of this, lol!

You can imagine, this was such a fun project that brought back so many fond memories. I hope Emmajean enjoys pulling out her salt dough ornaments over the years as much as I have loved making them with her! 

Do you still have things you hang on to from your youth? 
Am I the only one with warn out t-shirts stored away?



Seriously, glad I caught her first!

This post was linked up over at where you can find tons of other great DIY Christmas Gift Ideas!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Thanksgiving, Family, Carriage Rides and Santa Claus!

The Holidays...
a time for family, food, and reflection.

You may have already had a sneak peek of this photo. If not, then click my Facebook and Instagram links over on the sidebar to follow my daily life in real time! Otherwise I'll be happy to see you here on the blog a few times a week!

Thursday Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving I managed to pull together a feast for three. It provided plenty of yummy leftovers for us and for Emmajean's grandparents, who traveled from NC for the weekend. Don't think I didn't ask if I should have waited to have Thanksgiving dinner on Friday when they planned to make their arrival, because I did. Zach's folks were driving a 26 ft truck, loaded to the top with their belongings, to start their moving process! (If you're just now following me, we are going to have one set of grandparents in Iowa next spring!) So, after talking to Zach's mom, we decided it would be best if we didn't try to plan a set time for Thanksgiving dinner with them. We decided it made more sense to save them some yummy leftovers... which wasn't a problem in the slightest!

This actually worked out great, because I was able to clean up the post-Thanksgiving madhouse before they ever made it to the farm, and we had delicious food ready at the drop of a hat during the Friday ballgame without having to cook a thing. 

Unfortunately two of our friends, Kate and Andrew, had to witness this mess in all of its glory. #Thankful for friends who wont panic over the state of  your mess. LOL! I did manage to clean everything up nice and tidy before bed on Thursday so we could have a fresh start on Friday. 


We met Zach's folks over at their new house, which is well underway and looking amazing! We got to walk through all of the rooms and enjoy the view of the Mississippi. I can't wait to see how Gima Dawn decorates it... she is really fantastic and I know it's going to be absolutely breathtaking! I'll share progress photos along the way. 

Saturday Carriage Rides

Saturday we took Emmajean to have her first carriage ride in Elkader and to visit with Santa Claus. How awesome is it that Elkader provides carriage rides and Santa Claus visits each year? I don't blame Santa; Elkader is a really fun town to hang out in and visit! 

I think Emmajean was in shock for the entire experience! 

She sat perfectly still, so she must have been taking it all in and enjoying it!

The horse was beautiful and I'm sure Emmajean would have loved to ride on his back if I had let her! I think she was wondering why he didn't rock like her horses at home. 

Watching the kids line up and wait patiently for their carriage ride adventure and Santa Conversation melted my heart.  Do you have a special holiday tradition in your hometown? 

 Next up... Santa Claus

I'm going to let the photos do the talking here:

Slightly apprehensive this year, but maybe just sleepy!  


After a busy fun-filled weekend, we took Grandpa to the Eastern Iowa Airport for his journey back to NC. We managed to hang on to Gima for a couple more weeks here at the farm! Can't wait to share all the adventures we get into, but for now... it's time to sleep!

OH! Before I forget, we picked up some flour and sugar to donate to our local food shelf  and mittens and hats for the Shepherd of the Hills, our local charitable organization-- the first small way we decided to give back this season. Thanks to Norway Lutheran Church for encouraging members to do this. I hope these things help brighten a family's holiday season and that I can encourage you to do similar in your corner of the world. 


We are so grateful for your friendship and all our blessings!
Thank you for checking in to see what we've been up to this weekend. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours! 

I am so thankful for all that we have, for each other, and for all of life's little wonders. I'm grateful for our friends and our family. I'm grateful for a roof over our heads. I'm thankful for only wondering "what" we will eat at the next meal and not "if" we will eat. 

We are so abundantly blessed with everyday necessities that some days I have taken them for granted. 

As I laid in bed last night after getting Emmajean back to sleep for the third time, after a diaper change, two trips to the kitchen (once for food and once for water), I felt a surge of emotion. First I was exhausted and just glad she finally fell asleep. Next, a sense of relief rushed in that I was able to pinpoint what was wrong with our little one who is normally so easy to calm. She hadn't eaten much for supper and she was just hungry and thirsty, which was odd for her, but made for an easy solution. As she settled into a calm sleep, gratitude poured over me. A peace that even though our precious baby was hungry for a  few minutes and couldn't sleep, that I was able to quickly remedy the situation with clean water and something fresh from the fridge to fill her sweet tummy... basic necessities.

I've always been thankful for what we have and so saddened by the hunger and evil of the world, but this glimmer of what it was like to see my own child hungry gave me a new awareness. I was unable to go back to sleep until I thought about what I could do, any of us could do; it's such a huge problem. I immediately prayed for all of those mothers (and fathers) in this shared planet of ours who struggle to feed their babies, and I went to bed and woke up feeling this extra need to help those who are hungry. I'll be donating to our local food shelves and seeking other ways to help, too. I thought in the meantime, I'd encourage each of you to do the same. 

There are so many things to be grateful for in each of our lives, and the ability to share with those who may not be as fortunate is something to be thankful for.  

We never know what path lies ahead, but I'm going to do what I can today. 

 Will you join me and
 volunteer, share, and/or donate this holiday season?
I would love to hear your ideas for giving back!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Luna Stones Giveaway WINNER!!!

Hi, Friends!! 

It's been a busy week here in St. Olaf and I almost forgot to share the winner of the Luna Stones heart charm necklace with you! (I did share it over on my sunny facebook page.. you should probably follow me there, too, for the most up-to-date postings!) 

Emmajean needs a little more practice! 

Shirley Best!!

Thank you to everyone who participated in our second Sunny Giveaway! Thanks for checking in and I hope you enjoyed the video of E selecting the winner. Stay in touch to see what we giveaway next. In the meantime, I hope you all aren't staying up too late cooking tonight! Happy Thanksgiving EVE! 

P.S. I'll share my holiday shortcuts with you guys before Christmas rolls in.. that is if it turns out good tomorrow, lol! 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Weekend Adventures | Lighting the Bridge at Motor Mill

Weekend Adventures| Lighting the Bridge at Motor Mill 

There's been a whirlwind of activity over the past week/weekend in small town Iowa and beyond! 

This week Emmajean turned 18 months old and completed her last well child checkup for awhile. Buddy caught a medium sized sleepy possum in the cabinet of our outdoor grill, and he coincidentally had a trip to the doggy spa. Zach's parents put their NC house on the market and accepted an offer!!! E had her first friend spend the night; we danced and played and attempted to create salt dough ornaments. I'll share more on the salt dough ornaments after Emmajean and I finish decorating hers this week! In the meantime let me get back to our big weekend adventures!

They were so cute running around in my aprons!

As if I weren't excited for the holidays enough, this weekend Zach and I took Emmajean for her first trip to the Historic Motor Mill to see the annual lighting of the bridge! I'm 1000-times in love with these quick photos we took before the bridge lighting celebration. Emmajean is so sweet and gives the best hugs!

This image is Emmajean's first look out from Motor Mill. It was also my first time being inside of the mill!

The conservation board has worked to renovate Motor Mill so that people can once again go inside and up and down all of the floors.The celebration brought people to see not only the bridge, which is a gorgeous functional feature that enables locals and tourists alike to cross the Turkey River at this spot, but also gave many people a chance to see inside of the mill. What a neat way to share the renovations and work put into restoring this northeast Iowa treasure!

We were excited to see so many of our friends come out for the event and to learn more about the history behind Motor Mill. The effort and passion to restore and protect this Elkader local landmark that is on The National Register of Historic Places is evident. 

 We were all bundled up and the hot cocoa and cookies that the Clayton County Conservation Board provided for the celebration helped keep everyone warm and merry, too!  If you didn't get to go to the bridge lighting, you can still visit Motor Mill and plan to take a tour. Take a look at their website for the touring schedule and more information.

You may even recognize this bridge from a few of my JWebb photo sessions that I've shared over the years! I'm so happy I took along my camera this time and was able take a few photos of our friends, our first Motor Mill family photo, and these adorable images of Emmajean in front of the old mill. 

I'm not sure how I'll decide which one of these adorable red coat pictures of E I'll print! Who knows, maybe I'll take a few of her senior photos in the same spot one day! 

If you would like to learn more about Motor Mill, the Clayton County Conservation Board, and how to visit, support, or donate, click on any of these links.  

AND lastly, this weekend we began cleaning up for Zach's folks upcoming holiday visit! Can you believe it's almost THANKSGIVING? Don't worry, I've still got a few pumpkins and gourds around the house for Thanksgiving, along with a couple of our small lit Christmas trees! LOL.. I'm SO READY for ALL of the holidays, don't judge me! :) 

During all of the excitement, I have enjoyed cozy moments snuggling our little pumpkin and documenting our adventures! We hope you've had a fabulous weekend and don't forget to check back this week to see who wins the SunnyinSaintOalf Luna Stone Giveaway!