DIY Slingshot

DIY Toy Slingshot @themerrythought
Every Christmas, I like to include at least one handmade (by us) gift for the boys. This year’s gift are these fun slingshots! And yes, Levi is in these photos, playing with his gift before Christmas…thankfully he’s pretty used to Caitlin & I handing him things and saying let’s take pictures, and then being done with the item when the photo shoot is over.  That, and him being only 4, make it a safe bet that out of sight – out of mind will work in our favor!  I did try to hide them from the older boys, although one of them did catch a peek of me editing photos and said I want one of those shooter things!   So, at least I know they’ll be well liked!
DIY Slingshot @themerrythought
I think this would also make a fun stocking stuffer for the guy or gal in your life that’s still young at heart.  It was pretty fun shooting the felt balls during my “testing”.  There’s just something so appealing about simple, classical childhood toys.  And ones that you can make yourself, without spending too much time or money on, are even better!  I had all of the supplies on hand from previous crafts, and we collected the sticks from our yard.  I did buy an extra bag of pom poms for the boys though – I didn’t want to lose all my felt balls!
DIY Slingshot @themerrythought
DIY Toy Slingshot @themerrythought
DIY Slingshot @themerrythought
What you need:
– Sticks shaped like a Y
– large rubber bands – make sure they are thick & strong ones
– leather
– scissors
– hot glue
– polyurethane – optional
muslin bags
felt balls or pom poms
– leather lace – optional
How to do it:
Cut sticks to size if needed (you can also remove the bark if you’d like). Sand down the ends and any rough spots. Coat sticks with polyurethane if desired (ours do not have it, only because I forgot!). Cut a piece of leather into a small rectangle. Cut a small slit into both sides of the leather.  Cut rubber bands to size – you will need two for each slingshot, make sure that they are the same exact size for each stick (ours are 6.5″ long).  Cut a small slit at both ends of each rubber band.  Slide one end of the rubber band through the slit, forming a small loop.  Slide the other end of the rubber band through the slit in the leather, then pull the looped end through the slit, creating a loop around the leather.  Repeat with the other rubber band.  Slide the looped ends over the ends of the stick, pull to tighten.  Use the hot glue to glue down the ends of the rubber bands, on the stick and leather (not necessary, but helps it to look a little better).  If desired, wrap a little leather lace around the stick, using the hot glue to glue it down.  Or you can add paint.  Stamp (or paint) muslin bags if desired and fill with felt balls or pom poms.
DIY Slingshot @themerrythought
DIY Toy Slingshot @themerrythought
DIY Toy Slingshot @themerrythought
And this little guy was pretty fierce with his slingshot…or maybe not. :)  I had to restrain myself from posting a million pictures of all the hilarious faces he was making during this shoot!

What are some of your favorite classic childhood toys?

– Manda

Brown Sugar Bundt Cake

Brown Sugar Bundt Cake @themerrythought
I love bundt cakes! They always turn out lovely with just a minimal amount of work. No frosting to whip up (although, I’ll be honest, that’s the reason I eat cake – for the frosting!), no trying to get layers to sit just right, no “angry baker” because the frosting isn’t going on like I wanted it to! (That’s a thing at our house, if you’d like to see me at my worst, come over when I’m trying to frost a cake with difficult frosting!  Or when I’m trying to get all three boys out of the house in a timely fashion…grrr!)
Brown Sugar Bundt Cake @themerrythought
I originally had a different dessert planned to share today, but when I went to bake, my heart cried out for something simpler.  It’s been the theme for me this month.  To keep things simple and minimal.  I’m trying to enjoy the season for what it is, and not get wrapped up in details that just add more stress and don’t seem to really matter.  And so I went with a simple brown sugar bundt cake.  A recipe that appealed to me because of my Michael’s love for brown sugar.  I added a few extra ingredients – a hint of molasses, also for Mike, and some spices to infuse a taste of Christmas. A simple cake, with comforting flavors that would make a lovely addition to a Christmas menu.  It has a buttery brown sugar sauce you can serve with it, but it’s delicious on it’s own too.  (Mike actually preferred it without the sauce, I liked it with the sauce, but then again, I can’t ever pass up a sauce or dip!)
Brown Sugar Bundt Cake @themerrythought
Brown Sugar Bundt Cake

1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons molasses
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk

Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease and lightly flour the bottom and side of 12-cup bundt pan (or 10-inch angel food (tube cake) pan).

In large bowl, beat brown sugar, granulated sugar and butter with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally, until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla extract and molasses. Mix in baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg until combined. Beat in flour mixture alternately with the milk on low speed until combined and smooth. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours.

Buttery Brown Sugar Sauce

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon milk
pinch of cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, whisk together sauce ingredients except vanilla and heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly; boil and stir 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Let cool slightly.

Dust cake with powdered sugar if desired.  Serve with warm brown sugar sauce.

Adapted from Betty Crocker

Brown Sugar Bundt Cake @themerrythought
Brown Sugar Bundt Cake @themerrythought
Brown Sugar Bundt Cake @themerrythought
What are some of your favorite Christmas desserts? Cheesecake is my favorite dessert, so I always try to fit in making one for at least one holiday get together. And of course, my Gramma’s Frosted Sugar Cookies are a must have this time of year! In fact, I think I need to go start a batch now! ;)


Spread the Holiday Cheer

Spread the Holiday Cheer with @homegoods and @themerrythought
Recently HomeGoods contacted us to ask if we’d like to be part of their challenge to help spread the holiday cheer this Christmas season.  They asked if we could create a gift basket for someone in need and we of course jumped at the chance!  This is one of the highlights of the Christmas season – spreading joy and love to others, especially someone that’s struggling a bit right now and could use the extra help. We were thrilled to be able to partner with HomeGoods for this and bless a family for Christmas.
Spread the Holiday Cheer with @themerrythought and @homegoods
This was actually our first trip to HomeGoods, as the closest store is about an hour away.  Guys, this store is amazing and we had so much fun shopping and picking out gifts!  First we found a great basket to hold all our goodies – we liked that it had a little chalkboard on it so we could write a message and it’s a nice big basket that will work well for storage for a family.
Spread the Holiday Cheer with @themerrythought and @homegoods
Spread the Holiday Cheer with @themerrythought and @homegoods
Our church helped connect us with a family to bless that has 4 kiddos, ages 1-10, so we got to work picking out toys & goodies.  We loved the toys we found!  In our house, I like to classify toys in two categories, “parent toys” and “kid toys”.  Parent toys are the pretty, classical toys – ones that are not only fun to play with, but nice to look at it and ones you don’t mind seeing laying around the house.  Kid toys are the bright, noisy, plastic toys that are fun to play with, but ones you like to stuff in toy bins when guests come over! ;)  Sometimes it can be hard to find stores that sell nice “parent toys”, and even harder to find them at an affordable price. We were able to find toys that fit both categories, at affordable prices and struggled to narrow down our choices because there were so many great ones to choose from!  We included a variety of things – toys, books, coloring & drawing accessories, craft activities and even a soft, cozy blanket – for mama and baby to snuggle in and cozy family cuddle times.
Spread the Holiday Cheer with @themerrythought and @homegoods
Spread the Holiday Cheer with @themerrythought and @homegoods
Spread the Holiday Cheer with @homegoods and @themerrythought
Spread the Holiday Cheer with @themerrythought and @homegoods
Spread the Holiday Cheer with @homegoods and @themerrythought
Spread the Holiday Cheer with @themerrythought and @homegoods
This was also a great teaching experience for my boys.  I’ve been trying to find different activities and things we can do to show them that Christmas isn’t all about getting lots of presents for ourselves. As we worked on putting the basket together and taking some photos, we talked about how important it is to help people that might be going through a rough time and need a little extra helping hand.  We talked about how giving is one of the highlights of Christmas and how we are not only blessing a family but also how good it feels to be able to give and help others. God gave His best for us, and we should do the same for others.
Spread the Holiday Cheer with @themerrythought and @homegoods
Spread the Holiday Cheer with @themerrythought and @homegoods
We had so much fun picking out these gifts and getting the chance to bless someone and spread a little cheer this Christmas! And we’re so glad we took the trip out to HomeGoods – we’ll definitely be back  for more shopping (and have our fingers crossed we might get one a little closer someday)!

What about you – what are your favorite ways to spread the holiday cheer?

xo – Manda & Caitlin

*Sponsored by HomeGoods. All thoughts and opinions expressed are our own.

DIY Marble Cutting Board

DIY Marble Cutting Board @themerrythoughtWe’ve got another cutting board coming your way today. We spiced this one up a bit with a piece of marble! Wooden cutting board and marble… just combining a few of our favorite things! This sleek board will be the perfect touch for your holiday cheese spread! Or just a great Christmas gift for your favorite hostess. DIY Marble Cutting Board @themerrythoughtWhat you need:
-Birch Plywood
-Scroll Saw
-Tape Measure
-Wood Butter

How to make it:
***-If the hardwood you’re using isn’t the same thickness as your marble, you can use a planer to shave it down to the same thickness before beginning the next steps
-Measure and cut hardwood to the same width as the marble.
-Measure out and cut out a piece of birch plywood that is the size of the hardwood and maple when they are pressed together.
-Hand sand any rough edges.
-Use a strong glue to attach the birch plywood to the back of the hardwood and marble. Be sure to run a line of glue between the sides of the hardwood and marble that will be touching as well. (Wipe excess glue immediately.
-Press under a stack of heavy books and let it dry over night.
-Sand down any uneven sides of the plywood.
-Finish the wood with some wood butter. DIY Marble Cutting Board @themerrythought DIY Marble Cutting Board @themerrythought DIY Marble Cutting Board @themerrythoughtxo. Caitlin

DIY Spoon Ring

DIY Spoon Ring @themerrythoughtThis is honestly one of the most emotional DIY projects that I’ve ever shared here on the blog. I know that seems kind of strange, so I’ll explain – but don’t worry there really is a tutorial included below so feel free to scroll through this part. ;)

After my mom died, my dad gave me her jewelry box full of all the things that she used to wear. I can remember looking through it after he gave it to me and finding so many things that I could remember my mom wearing or remember the stories that she shared about them when we sat on her bed and cleaned out her jewelry box while doing spring cleaning.

I found little pins that Zac and I made her for many-a-Mother’s Days, a ring that my dad gave to her on a Christmas when they promised not to exchange presents, a charm bracelet from her teenage years, a pearl necklace from my grandma… and tucked in there was a spoon ring, which had wrapped perfectly around her finger. It was one of the many jewelry items that my mom made back when she was an art teacher. She taught a jewelry making class at the high school she taught at! (Where was that class at my high school?!)

Because of this little ring, I’ve wanted to make spoon rings for years and I’ve even attempted a few times and then given up pretty quickly. But this time it went up on the blog schedule and there was no backing down!

I grabbed a few pieces of silverware from my mom’s old collection and went to start the project and found myself wanting to call my mom for some tips on how to make these. And although having the urge to call up my mom and ask her about something is not a rare one, this struck me pretty hard. So I sat on my apartment floor crying over a crooked spoon.

Even though asking how to bend a spoon isn’t too important, knowing that I could have been sitting in the living room making a batch of rings and laughing with my mom that afternoon, had life worked out a little different, shook my heart up a bit. But after a bit of crying, I got to it and finished up these rings so now I can share the tutorial with all of you!

DIY Spoon Ring @themerrythoughtDIY Spoon Ring @themerrythoughtWhat you need:
-Sterling Spoon (or other sterling silverware)
-Ring Mandrel
-Hack Saw
-Rubber or Rawhide Mallet (or if you don’t feel like buying one, just a regular hammer with felt or leather and a rubber band does the trick.)

How to make it:
-Measure your finger (you can use paper or string) and make a mark on the ring using this measurement to show where you will cut it after you bend it.
-Use your strength to bend your silverware around the mandrel. (Make sure you’re bending it near the end that you want use for your ring.)
-Use the saw to cut off the excess at the measurement you marked earlier.
-Use a file to smooth out the sharp edge.
-Wrap your bent ring around the mandrel and use the mallet to pound it into a circle. (If you start trying to make it round on the mandrel at a larger size than you need and then working your way up the mandrel to a smaller size, using the mallet, it makes the process a bit easier.) Be patient with this step – it takes patience and muscles!
-Polish it up and wear it!
DIY Spoon Ring @themerrythoughtDIY Spoon Ring @themerrythoughtDIY Spoon Ring @themerrythoughtAnd then all three on one hand… because that’s obviously how you’d wear them. ;) DIY Spoon Ring @themerrythoughtObviously I’m feeling quite proud of myself and I’m excited to make my next batch with a little less crying next time… :)

xo. Caitlin

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