Make Something Monday: Festive Felt Garland

Monday, November 30th, 2015

For all of you still celebrating a little break from over-excertion, we have the PERFECT weeknight activity to do with your kiddos. It takes only 3 supplies and 2 steps and in about 20 minutes (less with more helping hands) you’ll have a very fun, tres chic holiday decoration you can put just about anywhere and reuse the whole year round!

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How cute is that felt garland?? Here’s what you’ll need:

  • About 12 pieces of felt
  • Twine or yarn
  • Scissors

Photo Nov 30, 4 06 57 PM


  1. Cut each 8 1/2 x 11″ piece of felt in half length-wise, then cut every 1/2″-1″ to make about 20 rectangles from each piece of felt
  2. Knot each rectangle around a length of twine or yarn (I’d keep it on a big ball until you’ve used all your pieces, then cut at the end).

BOOM. That’s it!

Every part of this project is kid-friendly (except for maybe the cutting depending on age, because you’ll need some sharper scissors).  Its super fun for kids who want to pick their own colors and patterns, and is great practice for cutting, tying and pattern-planning. Best part: this garland can be reused for any special occasion! Happy garlanding!

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Make Something Monday: Gratitude Stones

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

Things I am thankful for today: the fact that someone reminded me THIS Thursday would be Thanksgiving. WHAT??? Where did November go?? With all of the busy-ness and the 2,561 things to do, and food to make and events to plan, it is so easy to rush whole days and weeks away. There are Pinterest boards, Facebook posts, TV specials, greeting cards, even a whole DAY devoted to reminding us to take some time out to remember what’s important and express our gratitude and thanks – but, inevitably, the season goes by every year and I realize I’ve missed a lot of opportunities to slow down, enjoy and be thankful. That’s why when I ran across the idea of Gratitude Stones I thought it was a perfect answer.


This fantastic idea comes from Melissa at Fireflies and Mudpies and is such a great, simple way to start a tradition of taking a minute out to express gratitude everyday. She has so many meaningful suggested uses – many of which not only teach kids the importance of discusssing what we’re thankful for, but also learning how to express strong feelings, creating a time for relaxation, finding ways to pass our gratitude to others and the community. We’ve listed the materials below, but head over to the full post here for detailed instructions.

Its also a great activity for Thanksgiving day – especially if there’s someone in your family like me who knows ZERO about football, but can run a craft across the end zone every time (yeah, I just did that – I don’t even know if it made sense, because really – I know zero about football).


  • Stones (washed and dried)
  • Tissue Paper (or photos or anything!)
  • Scissors
  • Glossy Mod Podge
  • Paint brushes


Happy Thanksgiving! We present our happiest, happiest hearts to you and your families – we’re so grateful for all of you and the extra time you take (everyday!) to raise our future world-changers.

Printable Play: Winter Forest

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

YAY! Our very first free printable is here – just in time for holiday play!

Thor’s winter forest – inspired by one of our very own (extremely drool-y) team members.

(Hint: he’s the one with the festive antlers…)

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Print it out and play away! (Please excuse the fuzzy pics – technical difficulties – we will be updating the imagery on this post as soon as we can!)


Download the files here: Printable Play: Winter Forest Set

There are 3 documents in the zip file – a PDF of the printable with animals and trees, a PDF with the background mountains, and a text document with our terms of use (*please read!*)

The PDF printable of the animals and trees has 2 pages – print page 1, then print page 2 on the REVERSE. Just a note, you don’t have to print on both sides (especially if you’re using this for any of the remixed ideas below). I printed this on a super-thick cardstock to make it a little more durable, but you might want to print out a quick draft first to double-check how your printer handles the reverse printing.

These are not mean to be perfect, so don’t break a sweat over cutting perfectly. As a general rule, the trees and mountains are GREAT practice for little hands still learning how to cut – the animals may take a bit more patience and are better suited for adult skilllzz.

If you have any questions or issues please leave it in the comment section below – I’ll get back to ya!

Here are some remixed ideas – the deep cuts of paper playing…

  • Mod Podge onto some big plain wooden blocks  (perfect for smaller hands that play less gently)
  • Print out some superfun temporary tattoos (using something like this)
  • Make a magnet set (using something like this)
  • Stickers! (using something like this)
  • Frame a winter scene with your own backdrop in a shadow-box

*For all of the above options just remember you only need to print 1 side – Page 1 only!*

And let’s just break here for a second to interject some planet-saving-ness (our word…probably not a real one) – did you know there are companies that sell eco-friendly, soy-based ink for your home printers??? OH YES. Yes, there are. A couple examples: Inkpal or Tonergreen – they’re not available for every single printer, but I was actually pretty impressed with their array.

We would love love LOOOVVE to see how you guys are playing with these – so snap some pics and send them our way! If you’re on instagram you can tag us (@barleyandbirch) or use the hashtag #barleyandbirch – and want to take our original creation to the next level? You are welcome to get as creative as you want and share away! Our only request is that if you repost somewhere – could you please include a shout-out back to us with the original link to this post instead of a direct link to the files? We would so appreciate it!

Alright paper warriors – play on!

Make Something Monday: Cardboard Castles!

Monday, November 16th, 2015

Holy cardboard castles in the sky. By picture alone, is anyone else wishing they were of an acceptable age to abandon everything, drop to castle-level and immerse yourself in this for an entire afternoon? First of all – you are always of an acceptable age. Second – believe it or not, this is cardboard and masking tape. It IS!!!! It really is – and for all of you (me included) who have felt a pang of sympathy every time you see a well-intentioned Pinterest fail – this actually works out JUST as you think it will – there is a template, and thanks to Marilee’s pics, a lot of inspiration and direction beyond that.


SO – here’s what it requires:

  • Sturdy cardboard (Marrilee used 10″x10″ pieces – so 20″ all together)
  • A Cutting Tool (good pair of scissors or X-acto knife)
  • Colored Tape (Marrilee used Duct Tape)




Find the full instructions + a template here at the very amazing (and visually scrumptious) Mer Mag site  – such creativity!

And for a totally different take on how to decorate your mini-mideval fortress, take a look at the illustrator Rob Dunlavey’s Crystal City Sculpture – if tape isn’t your thing, just draw or paint right on the cardboard. Oh MONDAY, so much to have fun with, so little time!

*Pro tip: we’ll be posting our own b&b original printable this week and it goes sooooo well with castles. Just sayin’ (check back tomorrow – we’ll also add the link in this article)! *

– love, Amanda (long-time friend of b&b’s, now permanently behind the scenes! Hi everyone!)

Make Something Monday: No Sew Beaded Tutu Bedskirt

Monday, March 18th, 2013


We saw this tutorial written by Beth of Free Stylin’ and HAD to share it.  It’s such an easy, cheap way to make your little princess/dancer/mermaid(think blues!)/fairy’s room super cool and special.



What You’ll Need:

  • A ton of tulle fabric
  • A fitted sheet
  • Beads (optional)
  • A hot glue gun OR a needle & thread (to go with optional beads)
  •  A ruler
  • A pencil
  • Scissors

Directions are HERE.

Make Something Monday: Recycled Pool Noodles

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Somehow everybody seems to own at least one foam pool noodle, even if they don’t have a pool, or live near one. They’re cheap, take up room, and usually get thrown out after one or two uses.  Not in our world though, we at b&b love to upcycle whatever we can, so here’s some of our favorite pool noodle upcycles:



Slice one noodle in half and race matchbox cars/marbles!

Chop off about 6″, slice one side, and wrap it around your door. No more slamming doors! (Especially on kid hands!)

Swirl the noodle around itself (secure with a hot glue gun), wrap it in clear plastic and stick it on a bit of pvc pipe and you have a giant lollipop for all sorts of partys and awesomeness.

Turn them into hobby horses! Tutorial is here.

Did we forget about any other ways to upcycle these? Let us know!



Make Something Monday: DIY Crib Railing Teething Guard

Monday, September 24th, 2012


I found this tutorial on Jane Marie Blog and thought it was a great, simple way to keep your baby from nomming on his/her crib railing. A few teeth marks in the railing might not be a huge deal, but it’s hard to know that your crib’s paint is 100% non-toxic.

What You’ll Need:

  • A few yards of fleece from your local (or online) fabric store
  • Scissors


The Steps:





Make Something Monday: DIY Super Bouncy Ball

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Making these at home definitely takes away the fun of using those awesome 25¢ machines at the store, but it will add to your mad-scientist playtime.


What You’ll Need:

  • Cups or bowls to mix in.
  • Craft sticks to mix with
  • Water
  • Measuring spoons
  • Borax (found in the laundry section of stores)
  • Corn Starch
  • Glue (standard Elmers’ or your favorite similar glue)
  • Food coloring (optional)


The Steps:

  1. Mix 2 tablespoons of hot water and 1/2 teaspoon Borax together until all Borax is dissolved.
  2. In a separate cup or bowl – mix 2 tablespoons of glue with some food coloring to get the color you’d like.
  3. Mix the colored glue and the water/Borax together.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons of  cornstarch and mix with a craft stick until it gets too hard to mix anymore.
  5. Take your gooey glue blob out and start kneading it into the shape of a ball. (It will be sticky, but the more you knead it, the more it will harden into a normal superball)
  6. BOOM – you have an awesome new bouncy ball. HAVE. FUN.




PS. If left out, the ball will probably get misshappen, but you can always knead it back into a ball…or make a new one!



Make Something Monday: Toddler Scribbles into Fine Art

Monday, September 10th, 2012

You always want to keep and treasure every work of art your kids make – but when they’re making you an entire reams worth of scribble art, you quickly realize you can’t hold on to everything. So here’s a good way to turn your toddler’s art into something you can proudly display for years to come, and not have to worry about buying extra refrigerators to hang everything on.

What You’ll Need:

  • Completely original art created by your kiddo
  • Canvas
  • Paint
  • Modpodge
  • Paintbrushes (foam ones work a little better for this, but any type will do)
  • Scissors
  • An idea or pattern to follow. Google “stencil pattern” , there’s some really good ones floating around.


The Steps

  • Paint your canvas and allow it to dry completely.
  • Cut your pattern out and stencil it onto the back of your scribble art. Then cut the scribble art into the shapes you need.
  • Use Modpodge to glue your scribble art pattern onto the canvas and allow it to dry completely.
  • Coat the entire canvas in Modpodge. Allow it to dry and repeat this step until you’re satisfied.
  • Hang on the wall and enjoy.







PS. I bet my mom still has some of my scribble art somewhere.



Make Something Monday: Jet Pack

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Yes, you read that right. Jet pack.

A friend sent me this tutorial from and we both already want to make our own, and wear them while riding bicycles. And yes, we’re adults.

Head over to the tutorial here.