mindful living, effortless style

With the crisper (and around here, decidedly wetter) fall weather comes more time spent indoors. That means, it’s time to get creative with ways to keep the kids busy.

Along with relying on our all-time favorite toys for keeping kids active indoors, we’re also re-vamping our quiet box.

Want to see what I think should go inside an ultimate Quiet Box? Check it out here.


A couple of weeks ago my daughter and I decided to make wax paper lanterns. She loves decorating our house for holidays and, since Halloween is right around the corner, we used black and orange colors to create something that could double as Halloween decor.

Although the project is incredibly simple and well-suited to children, the results are very dramatic and sophisticated.

Here’s how we made them …


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Today’s the day my friends – our holiday eBook, Hands-On Holidays, is finally back on sale!  

We put a lot of time and love into creating this book last year because we wanted to give busy parents a way to make tons of holiday memories in a very low-stress and manageable way.

Commit to Less Stressing & More Connecting this Holiday Season

The holiday season is such a wonderful time to share with your kids. From Trick-or-Treating to opening the presents under the tree, there are so many memories to be made and, as parents, we don’t want to miss a single opportunity.

But planning special outings, pulling-together seasonal crafts, and baking up a slew of holiday recipes can be exhausting (the prep work alone is almost a part-time job).

If you’d like to spend the holidays less frazzled about planning and more in-the-moment, enjoying time with the kids, we’ve got just the thing…

Hands-On Holidays: Simple Ideas for Making Memories October through DecemberMPMK’s newest eBook: Hands-On Holidays

Only $9.99 $8.99

*Get your copy by October 9th to take advantage of our 10% off sale! Use the code “launch” at checkout.

Get the PDF file here:   Add to Cart


Our new eBook, Hands-On Holidays, is 100 pages full everything you and the kids will need to have a great time creating, cooking, reading, and adventuring together from October through December.

And the best part is, nearly all the activities are very simple both in their preparation and execution.  It’s all about spending quality time together and being creative in an open-ended way, not running all over town finding obscure craft materials to make a picture perfect project.

Here’s what’s included…

The book is divided into three sections (Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas), each of which begins with a list of ways for families to get into the holiday spirit:

  • Ideas for Starting a Halloween Tradition
  • 10 Ways to Practice Thankfulness as a Family
  • Advent Activities List: 24 Ways to Count Down to Christmas

In addition to these ideas, we’ve also provided lists of our favorite children’s books for each holiday – because there’s no better way to get kids in the spirit of the season than by reading about it with them each night!

MPMK's Hands-On Holidays eBook & Kids' Responsibility Kit

Limited Time Offer: Combine with our Kids’ Responsibility & Money Management Kit now and get the kit for 50% off!


Get BOTH for Only $13.98

Buy the discounted combo pack here:



Hands-On Holidays eBook: Simple Ideas for Making Memories October through December

Of course, no holiday activity book would be complete without a bevy of crafts and DIY decor projects. We’ve filled our pages with simple ways for the kids to help decorate for each holiday, as well as lots of stimulating playtime ideas, and each section also contains our favorite sweet treats. These are tried-and-true recipes my family adores making and eating every year – and yours will too!

Only $9.99 $8.99

*Get your copy by October 9th to take advantage of our 10% off sale! Use the code “launch” at checkout.

Get the PDF file here:

Add to Cart

And don’t miss out on our special bonus sections.  Filled with tips and tools to help make this your best holiday season yet, they include:

  • Use Those Halloween Customs to Build Brainpower
  • What to do with all that Candy
  • Creating a DIY Dress Up Kit on the Cheap
  • Thanksgiving Kids’ Table Printables
  • A “Berry Merry” Teacher Christmas Gift Idea
  • Our Favorite Christmas Movie Marathon Selections
  • A New Tradition: How to Make Room for New Toys & Give Back

Still Not Sure this is the eBook for You?

Check out what some of our favorite bloggers have to say about it and get a look at the Table of Contents:

The holiday season is so filled with chaos and pressure it can be easy to forget what truly matters–quality time with your kids. Hands-on Holidays is filled with fantastic yet utterly do-able ideas for simple crafts, memory-making activities, and tempting recipes that help put the holiday focus back where it should be and keep the kids involved. Best of all, none of the suggestions are expensive or require odd supplies!

– Tiffany Dahl of Peanut Blossom


Family celebrations and traditions are a big part of building memories, positive relationships, and a healthy family culture.  Hands On Holidays is full of brilliant, fun, and simple ways to create these powerful traditions in your home starting today.  I can’t wait to get to work on some of these outstanding activities with my own brood of boys

– Amanda Morgan of Not Just Cute


The holidays seem to catch me off-guard every year I often scramble to find meaningful ways to create new experiences for my young children. If you’re like me, you’ll browse Pinterest, catch up with favorite blogs, and conduct endless web searches for the right recipe, activity, or book. The magic behind Hands-on Holidays is that Stephanie has organized over 50 engaging activities and treats into one easy-to-read place, saving you tons of time….and leaving you with more time to enjoy the holidays themselves.

– Rachelle Doorley of Tinkerlab


Hands-On Holidays eBook


Don’t wait – get your copy today and show the holidays who’s boss!

Hands-On Holidays eBook: Simple Ideas for Making Memories October through December

Only $9.99 $8.99

*Get your copy by October 9th to take advantage of our 10% off sale! Use the code “launch” at checkout.

Get the PDF file here:

Add to Cart


MPMK's Hands-On Holidays eBook & Kids' Responsibility Kit

Limited Time Offer: Combine with our Kids’ Responsibility & Money Management Kit now and get the kit for 50% off!


Get BOTH for Only $13.98

Buy the discounted combo pack here:

Are you struggling with what to do with ALL THAT ART & SCHOOL WORK coming through the door when the kids come home from school? Never fear – today Julee’s with us sharing a simple DIY project we think you’re going to love.

We create – and save – quite a bit of art at our house. With school just starting, the volume of paintings, drawings, and other crafts is only going to increase.

My current storage solution for keeping my children’s creations is to pile them on my desk until it becomes too much and I finally move them into a bin in a storage room. Not the best archival method since the bins aren’t accessible for immediate storage, nor are their contents labeled.

When Scotch® Duct Tape invited us to create a back-to-school project using their products, I knew the problem I wanted to tackle: art storage. In thinking about my ideal solution, I had two requirements:

  • Solve for both interim and long-term storage
  • Engage my children in the storage of their art

The idea of a little artist’s portfolio immediately came to mind. My children love carrying their stuff in all sorts of containers, so I knew it would appeal to them while also giving me a place to stash and label things almost as soon as they are created.

Here are the materials you’ll need:

Creating an artist's portfolio with Scotch® Duct Tape to get a handle on your children's artwork.

  • 1-2 rolls of Scotch® Duct Tape.
  • 1 roll of Scotch Chalkboard Tape or Scotch Dry Erase Tape
  • 2 pieces of poster board (recommended size 14 x 22 inches)
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Chalk/chalk marker or dry erase marker/crayons
  • Additional small piece of cardboard or card stock paper (approximately 4 x 6 inches)

The portfolio is super simple to make and, depending on the age of your children, they may be able to complete the project on their own.

Here are the steps I followed:

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Wouldn’t it be amazing if all those family activities were completely free of whining on the kids’ part and yelling on your end this year??

And how awesome would it be to start off your day peacefully, with everyone getting off to school without you having to nag or remind them over and over to hurry up?

It’s possible! I’m once again teaming up with my friend and personal parenting guru, Amy McCready of Positive Parenting Solutions, to present MPMK readers with:

A FREE Positive Parenting Webinar: Get Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding, or Yelling

Amy and I get together to present this free webinar about 3 times a year so if you want to learn her tricks and use them to enjoy a peaceful holiday season with your family, now is the time to sign up!

If you’re not familiar with Amy and her Positive Parenting Solutions program, she’s a self-described “recovering yeller” and champion of Read More

This might be the easiest food project I’ve ever created. It took mere minutes to give these pieces of fruit some personality. Here’s what I did:

  1. Wash and dry the fruit. You want your surface to be relatively dry.
  2. Get some candy eyeballs. I used both small and large candy eyes from Wilton. These are especially easy to find during Halloween season, but I assume you can pick them up year-round.
  3. Apply your edible glue. We used peanut butter. You could also try any other nut butter, honey, melted chocolate or any other sticky food item.
  4. Stick the eyes on your fruit. Pretty simple!
  5. Enjoy right away or send along in your child’s lunchbox.

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Image: © Suzette – www.suzette.nu edited and text added | Jippe Eating Scones | CC by 2.0

In honor of the fact that we’re giving away a cordless Dyson MC59 Motorhead vacuum cleaner worth $549, I thought I’d share two more ways for you and the family to get more organized this week.

First, up check out my post over on eHow Mom’s Channel on how I get my 4 and 5 year old to dress, feed, and otherwise prepare themselves for school in the morning (it had to be done – otherwise this “mom of 3 kids ages 5 months to 5 years” think would have surely been the end of me!).

Second, I’m hosting a second giveaway in honor of the first! (Is that weird?)

Since the Dyson MC59 Motorhead will keep your home clean, I’ve decided to help one lucky reader get organized too by giving away ALL of our printables and eBooks!

This includes: Read More

Last week I posted this potty training question on our Facebook page and it was the most commented on question we’ve had in months!

Clearly, potty training is a topic you guys are interested in

Today Alli’s here with what we’ve learned to be the 5 biggest potty training mistakes parents make. 

My youngest son just turned 15 months. And the bigger he gets, the more I get that dreaded feeling…


It’s looming, right around the corner.

I learned A LOT when I potty trained my first son. It wasn’t necessarily a disaster, but it definitely could have gone smoother. I made my fair share of mistakes, and promptly beat myself up for them. (Darn that Mommy guilt!)

This time around? I’m arming myself with experience, resources, and copious amounts of wine. Just kidding. (Kind of…)

With that in mind, today I’m sharing “The 5 Biggest Potty Training Mistakes” that we (including me) all tend to make. Read More

(pictured: Pretzel and Cheese BroomsticksPumpkin Pie Pop TartsCandy Corn Pudding PopsHaunted Hooting Owl PretzelsPretzel Mummy TreatsGhost Milk BottlesOreo Bat Truffles)

Halloween chatter has already started around my house, with my daughters throwing new costume ideas around every few minutes.

Our neighborhood gets really into Halloween, with costumed kids everywhere and even most adults dressed in something festive.

Naturally, I couldn’t help but notice all of the fun treat ideas starting to swirl about, and have compiled a list of 31 must-try Halloween treats for kids.  I mean, you don’t HAVE to do every single one, but just think of how excited your little ones would be if you did…


Orange Jack-o-Lantern Fruit Bowls

Halloween Veggie Tray

Monster Fruit Bowl

Clementine Pumpkins and Banana Ghosts

Pretzel and Cheese Broomsticks

Ghost Milk Bottles

Jack-o-Lantern Burgers


Doughnut Monsters

Gooey Monster Cookies

Easy Halloween Cupcakes

Pumpkin Pie Pop Tarts

Ghost Cookies

Gingerbread Mummies


Pretzel Spider Webs

Haunted Hooting Owl Pretzels Read More

(sources clockwise from top left: 1/2/3/4/5)

So, technically, Grandparents Day was last Sunday.

But I think most grandparents out there are pretty understanding about the fact that last week was also the first week of school (what genius decided to put Grandparents Day during one of the busiest weeks of the year?!) and are willing to give us a pass.

As such, I’ve put together a great list of ways to honor the grandparents in your family.

It includes the fun crafts above, but also some really special ideas on how to spend the day with a grandparent too.

Check it out here!

Have you guys ever packed smoothies in your kids’ lunches? I’m so intrigued by this idea – it seems like SUCH a good way to get some much needed veggies into my kiddos’ lunches and I know they’d see it as an extra special treat.

But I wonder about the mess factor – is this really do-able?! 

Our food contributor, Natalie, assures me that it is and she’s here today sharing everything we need to know, along with her favorite tools and recipes.

Frozen smoothies are lunch box staples at my house. They are simple to make and easy grab out of the freezer in a pinch.

Why pack homemade smoothies?

  • Easy way to sneak extra nutrients into your kids’ lunches (especially if you have picky eaters)
  • Cheaper than buying single-serve pouches or yogurt tubes
  • You can make a week’s worth of smoothies ahead of time (or more!)
  • Customizable for school regulations and kids with food allergies
  • They save space by doubling as an ice pack

Read More

Question for you guys – do your kids put away their own laundry?

I recently mentioned in my post on our Kids’ Responsibility & Money Management Kit that my 4 and 5 year old get themselves dressed, brush their own teeth and make their own breakfast each morning and have been doing so for over a year.

That alone created a bit of a stir on facebook and I didn’t even mention that they also put away all of their own clothes – woo hoo! (Now you know how I actually survive being a mama of 3 kids, 5 months to 5 years in age!)

Today, we’re sharing a super helpful tool we use around here to get the kids putting away their own clothes – a very basic set of printable graphic labels that go on the outside of the kids drawers

My kids really love taking ownership of this job, especially with these labels that they can color themselves. Here’s MJ to tell you all about it.

Hope you love them as much as we do.

Laundry. It’s not the bane of my existence, but it’s close. I don’t love the many steps (and hours) it takes to go from dirty to folded and back in the drawer.

This super simple step helped to streamline our process and gave my children a sense of independence. Organization is always a goal around here with three school schedules and our professional calendar as well.

Every season my children and I go through their dresser drawers together. We look at what fits and what doesn’t, as well as what clothes they actually wear and which outfits are ready to move on to an owner who might love them more.

This act of purging is a great lesson in giving.

We fold together and reorganize each drawer. Using printable labels make the process simple. Dadand.com has created a set of labels that works well for even toddlers as they match pictures to their clothing and make the job a snap! Read More

I’m downright giddy today to FINALLY be sharing my bedroom space with you guys!

I’m so happy with how it turned out – clean, modern, ORGANIZED, and all with a very relaxing and peaceful vibe. Plus this room serves so many functions for me. It was designed to be a real workhorse of a space - functioning as craft-storage room, extra office, bedroom, and even work out area.

When I started out, I just wasn’t sure if I’d be able to accomplish all of these things and still have the room feel intimate and cozy, versus overly industrial and sterile. Fortunately, a few choice finds helped me achieve a truly multi-purpose room while keeping a clean and traditional aesthetic.

I’m so happy to share all of my finds with you guys today courtesy of our sponsor Dyson AND to host a giveaway of one of my favorite tools for keeping everything neat and clean. Ready?


Here we go… Read More

Who says popsicles can only be a summer treat? I’m all for extending my enjoyment of this sweet treat at least into fall, and I’m pretty sure my kiddos would be up for that plan too. Today our food contributor Jennifer is here with a scrumptious salty/sweet treat that I know you’re going to love.

Helpful Hint: get yourself a Zoku Quick Pop Maker to whip up all sorts of popsicles (both healthy and not so much) in just 7 minutes – no waiting for them to freeze! We absolutely love ours.

I can feel the days of frozen summer treats winding down but I’m not ready to let go just yet.

I had the most amazingly delicious salted chocolate popsicle recently and couldn’t wait to try to recreate it at home.  It was reminiscent of a fudgesicle but somehow better – more complex, more “adult” in flavor. The version I came up with has Read More

My kiddos headed back to school last week, and I know it won’t be long before they start coming home with all sorts of papers, projects and pictures. Last year, I struggled quite a bit with deciding what to keep and where to keep it. This year, I’m starting with a plan.

My plan is intentionally simple. I don’t follow through with overly structured systems for managing household tasks, and I know it’s likely to fall to the bottom of my to-do list if it isn’t amazingly easy. Here are the basic components:

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