Friday, June 29, 2012


Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

I am pleased to report that even though my blog did not make it onto the Circle of Moms Top 25 Homeschooling Blogging Moms list, it DID make it into the 40's!!!  Out of over 220 blogs, I would say that is a pretty sweet spot!  So THANK YOU everyone who took the time to vote!  I appreciate all of the support!  :)


I am also excited to report that some changes are on the way for The Nature of Grace!  Soon you should be able to subscribe by e-mail, follow me on facebook, twitter, etc.  (all that good stuff) - that is if you'd like to!  ;)  AND I decided it was time for a new look as well so I'll be revealing that shortly!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Dear followers and fans!  Thank you SOOOO much for your continued support and votes!  It is amazing to be where I am so far on the list of homeschool blogging moms!

Only a few more days left of voting so please consider taking a few seconds to click on the voting badge, find my blog's name, and click on the voting hand!  I would appreciate it SUPER much!  :)  It would take about thirty or forty votes to move my blog up into the thirties on the list today - I would love for you to be a part of that accomplishment!  :)

Don't forget to check out other blogs while you are there!  There are some pretty awesome mommies out there!  :)

REMEMBER - you can vote once a day each day until the end of the contest which ends in FOUR days!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mommy and Me Activity: Ballerina Tee!

I was inspired to try this by a shirt I saw in a store window last year - thank you Gap or whichever store it was.  The material they used for the ballet skirt on the shirt reminded me of some shabby rose ribbon I had.  And thus, the idea was born.
However, it is so much more cute, not to mention special, if you have your own little ballerina help design it herself.  Here's how we made ours:


- One blank shirt (find one at craft stores for $2-$5 dollars)

- Small piece of shabby rose ribbon (also can be found at some craft stores like Hobby Lobby in their ribbon section).

- One squeeze bottle of black fabric paint

- One Mark-B-Gone Pen (the pen I used one with two ends - Disappearing Ink and Mark-B-Gone.  You will want to use the Mark-B-Gone end with ink that disappears when touched by water.  These pens can be found in the sewing section of some craft stores and in sewing stores).

- A piece of cardboard or heavy paper to provide a barrier under the shirt (not shown in the picture above).

- Fabric glue (also not shown in the picture above).


1.  Slip the cardboard or paper in between the front and the back of the shirt to provide a barrier which keeps the ink and glue from seeping through the top of the shirt to the back of it as well.  You may also want to make sure your shirt is in a place where it will not be disturbed for a few days once you are done, or on top of something which can be moved with ease to a different location as needed because your shirt will need to dry for a few days undisturbed.

2.  Let your child used the Mark-B-Gone pen to draw her ballerina on the front of the shirt (you may want to let your child experiment with a cut piece of rose ribbon to come up with an idea of how large to draw the ballerina to fit the "tutu").  If she makes a mistake or gets frustrated, just wet it down, wait until the shirt dries blank again, and start over (you may also want to make a square or rectangle out of tape on the shirt to give your child some drawing boundaries - otherwise her design might end up all over the shirt.).  When everything is dry, you can easily remove the tape from the shirt.

3.  Once your child is done, take the fabric paint and carefully trace over your child's design.

4.  Use the pre-cut piece of shabby rose ribbon to be the tutu on the ballerina design (or you may need to cut a new one for a better fit) and glue it to the design carefully with fabric glue.

5.  Follow drying instructions for both the paint AND glue.  Chances are that this will be 48-72 hours at least.

6.  Wash the shirt, and it is ready for wearing!  :)

This idea could easily be adapted in many different ways for a child to make his/her own t-shirt design so don't limit your thinking to just ballet!  :)  Happy designing to you all!  :)

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Friday, June 15, 2012

DIY Newspaper Bow!

Yesterday, I posted about some secret message wrapping paper we made and mentioned the bows were homemade as well!  So here, as I promised, is the tutorial.  

BTW - I cannot claim credit for this inspiration, I once saw an awesome paper bow on  I went there to check for the tutorial but couldn't find it so this is my own attempt.  I chose to use newspaper because that seemed like a fun "father-like" bow.  If you want to make the child colored bow shown on the gift picture from yesterday's post (I believe I saw this suggestion on Pinterest or on another website somewhere long ago) - just have your child scribble on some paper and use that instead of the newspaper I used below.

1.  Cut three pieces of newspaper to your desired length and width (I used roughly 1 1/2 inch width and 22 inch length strips for this bow).  Fold one strip as show in the first picture above.

2.  Fold the other end of the same strip and secure both in the middle with a staple.  Cut off the excess ends.  Follow the same method for the other two strips of newspaper.

3.  Layer the three pieces of looped newspaper on top of each other (experiment with the placement of them until you achieve the desired effect - I have layered the first two in the picture above) and staple together in the middle.

4.  Following the same steps listed above, make a smaller looped newspaper and place it inside the middle of your stapled stack.  Staple or glue in place.

5.  Make one small round loop with a leftover piece of newspaper and glue or staple closed.  Use this for the center of your bow.  Place on top of the other stacked looped newspaper pieces in the middle and glue or staple in place.  All done!  :)

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Father's Day: Secret Message Gift Wrap, Homemade Bows, & Homemade Gummy Bites!

Father's Day is just around the corner so I thought I'd share a little of what we did to make it extra special for Daddy this year.  :)  To make the gift wrapping just as wonderful as the gift inside, I decided to spice up some plain white wrapping paper by having us write secret notes on it for my husband.

On one present, we used lemon juice to write messages (if you try this, just use a cotton swab or thin paintbrush and it should dry pretty clear).  When Daddy opens his present, he can hold the paper up to a strong heat source to see what we wrote!  :)

UPDATE ON THIS METHOD:  The lemon juice method did not work well on the wrapping paper we used.  The notes we wrote with the juice didn't seem to show up very well using a heat source.  It is possible that this was due to the type of wrap we used so I suggest if you try this method - you may want to make a little sample first using the type of wrap you intend to give your gift in to make sure it works well first.  Please let me know if you try this and have a successful story to share as I thought this would be a fun idea for kids.  :)

On the second gift, we used homemade finger paint to write a secret note to Daddy.  In order to read it, he will have to open his present VERY carefully so as not to mess up the paper.

By the way, if you try any of these methods, make sure you measure and cut your paper to size for your gift FIRST so you don't end up having to cut off part of your message after the paint has dried.

Don't you LOVE the bows we used?  They are homemade as well!  I will be posting a tutorial on how we made these (with pics) tomorrow so make sure you check back!!!

P.S.  A follower recently let me know about an article which might be of interest to other readers concerning ways to wrap a gift.  Here is the link:   Thanks for the tip, Jacqui!  :)

Last year, we made Daddy some homemade chipotle gummy bears which he loved!  SOOO this year, in addition to some items that my husband wanted, we decided to make him another batch of chipotle peach gummy goodness!  AND I decided to try a new flavor combination which I am happy to report, was also quite tasty:  mango lime gummy bites!

For the recipe and post from last year, just click here (to make the mango lime flavor, I used lime jello with a tiny bit of lime zest mixed in and tiny pieces of mangos sprinkled on top before the mixture could cool and firm up).

These are AWESOME because they are so unique (how often do you see mango lime or chipotle peach gummy candy in a store?), AND because your kids can help make them for Dad!  You could even let them come up with their own flavor combination for him - if you dare!  ;)

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Le Chef Petite: Double Chocolate Cherry Brownies!

Miss A recently wrote down in her kindergarten memory book that she wants to be a baker when she grows up.  The idea of making super fancy cakes and cookies and so forth, seemed to appeal to her.
Soooo, being a mommy, I decided to help her with her career decision.

This past Friday was our dessert night, and I decided to let her make dessert all by herself.  She was thrilled!  All I did was prep the items (open things, spray the pan, etc.).  Then she poured the ingredients in a bowl, mixed everything, and put it in the greased pan which I then put in the oven for her.

This recipe only contains THREE ingredients and the original recipe only contained TWO ingredients (my own addition was a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips - thus the "double chocolate" part of the name.  These are great with or without the chips)! For directions on making this amazing dessert, see this wonderful post here!  :)

If you have a super easy recipe, homeschooling post or tip, kid/infant related party you would like to share - please send me an e-mail at  I'd love to feature some of my readers if the post is appropriate!

If you have a kid/infant or homeschool product you would like me to review, or if you would like me to host a giveaway - please contact me at the above e-mail address.  :)

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Honored to be NOMINATED!!! :)

Wow!  I am so excited to have been nominated for the Circle of Moms Top 25 Homeschooling Moms list!  What a SUPER honor!  Thank you, thank you readers!!!  :)

If you love what you see on my blog, PLEASE consider supporting my blog by taking 10-15 seconds to vote for me!

I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your support and your vote!  By the way, you don't have to be a member to vote.  Simply click the circle badge on my blog (on the side near the top) or in this post and it will take you to nominated blogs.  I think I am near the middle of the list (but my blog could go up or down depending on the number of votes).  Then you just click the little voting hand next to my blog's name and you are done!

Really easy and EVERY vote counts!  ONE vote can possibly push you up the list by five or six spots so your vote REALLY DOES MATTER!  :)

Thanks again to all my followers and readers!  It is such an honor to be nominated and a huge CONGRATS to other nominees as well!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Homeschool Theme of the Week: Homeschool Kindergarten Graduation!!!

I confess.  I am one of those homeschooling moms who wonder - what things will my kids be missing out on if I homeschool?!  One of those "things" was kindergarten graduation.  What about a graduation hat and tassel, participating in some cute song, walking across a stage, etc.?!?

Well, I am here to say - it CAN STILL be done!  You CAN have an awesome kinder graduation if you homeschool!  And the best part?   You get to make the decisions!  What song to sing, what to recite, even what color of hat and tassel you want - or whether you even want one at all!

Once I figured this all out (yep, I am a little slow in that department sometimes), it was SOOOO much fun and we had a graduation I was even happier with than if she had been in a class full of kids up on a stage in front of a huge audience.  

Miss A is very into pink and fancy things and is very dramatic, soooooo that is the kind of graduation program we planned.   We also completed some great school activities and worked on the cutest kindergarten memory book!  Okay, enough talk and more pictures...

A fun graduation themed snack!!!


Main:  Graduation hat made from a healthy muffin (bottom of hat) and graham cracker top spread with Nutella.  The tassel is string cheese.  The diploma is a rolled up tortilla with peanut butter and jam/jelly inside and tied with a piece of fruit roll-up.

Muffin cups 1 and 3:  Hugs and kisses for our little graduating girl!  :)

Muffin cup 2:  Cheese stars and heart confetti.

Garnish:  Nutella X's and O's (more hugs and kisses) and wording.  Heart confetti.

Disclaimer:  This is a special snack and not the kind of thing Miss A gets every day for snack.  Our normal snacks do not usually include so much sugar.  I just make these every once in a while as a special treat for Miss A!

One of the super parts of having your own graduation (just you) is that you get to pick the colors.  Miss A ended up with a pink hat and a pink and white tassel.  We bought these at a store, and I think it cost a grand total of $7 or $8.  However, if you don't want to spend that much on a hat - you can certainly make one from paper (check Pinterest or search Google for tutorials on how to do this).

We also decided to make the hat fancier (another perk of not being in a classroom where everyone is required to wear the same style and color of cap), so we made sparkly polka dots on the cap using glitter.  In addition to this, I glued pink rhinestones to the four corners and center of the hat for added glamour.  AND let's not forget the tassel - at the request of Miss A, I also added some sparkly glitter dots to the numbers "2012".  

Now how can one have an amazing hat and tassel and then receive just an ordinary diploma?  The answer is - one shouldn't.  Thus, we dramatically increased the fancy factor of her diploma (this was just a staged diploma - I didn't want to mess up the real one by rolling it up so she accepted this one on the stage)  by adding glitter swirls to the outside and lots and lots of curly ribbon (did I mention LOTS)!!!

We created a stage backdrop for about $2 by purchasing two $1 white plastic tablecloths (party section in Walmart), taping them together in back, stringing a piece of yarn from a tree to a post and using clothespins to clip the large white backdrop of tablecloths to the yarn.  We used some bricks to hold the corners down.  It actually turned out really well!  We also added a few tissue paper decorations to give it some added color and flair.  :)
Yet another advantage to having your own kindergarten homeschool graduation is that you get to choose exactly what kind of program you want to have which best spotlights your child's strengths.   My daughter is very dramatic and loves to sing and dance, SOOO we planned a show (see the program above - graphics from where she would recite a verse, sing a cute song, and then dance to some music (Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World").  For the dance, we also bought some pieces of filmy material in different colors and she used those as part of the choreography of her dance to go along with some of the words referencing different colors ("trees of green, red roses too", etc.).  

She LOVED it and so did I, not to mention her little audience of Daddy, Great Grandma, and grandparents (who watched via a webcam).  It was soooo much fun to plan and practice!  :)  

At the end, I formally presented her with her diploma and moved her tassel for her.  It was super sweet, and I didn't even cry (well, actually I did during the dress rehearsal but kept my composure during the real thing).  

I couldn't find just the right song for my daughter to sing, so I finally decided to make up one of my own for her program.  I was so pleased with what a precious job she did - we put actions to the song as well (those are in blue lettering above), and it was just adorable.  

Please feel free to use this song for your own kindergarten graduation ceremony.  I just ask that if you use the song and ESPECIALLY if you post the lyrics and actions to the song - that you credit it back to me/this blog as well.  

Following the graduation ceremony, we had a party with fancy hot dogs and a banana split bar!  :)  And how does one make a hot dog fancy?  I'll bet you didn't realize it was as easy as adding a frilly toothpick or a little umbrella, did you!  

Besides practicing a LOT for our show and ceremony, we did some other cute graduation activities.  The one above was a really neat TLC freebie from the Teachers Pay Teachers website.  See it here.

For some math practice, I wrote addition facts on little pieces of paper and rolled them up, tying each with string to make little diplomas.  Then Miss A opened and answered them.

Meet a kindergarten class which has a serious problem - somehow their graduation caps got all mixed up!  At least that is what I told Miss A, and she had to help find the correct cap for each student.  This was a rhyming exercise - on each cap was a word which would rhyme with a student's name.  It was her job to sort them out and glue them to the correct heads.  :)  She also drew all of the cute faces!  

One thing I really wanted to do with Miss A was to make a memory book for kindergarten.  I searched and searched for something that would be just right but failed to find anything that really made me super happy.  Thus, I decided to come up with my own and it turned out so, so, SOOO cute!  Okay, maybe I am a little biased.  ;)  I guess you will just have to judge for yourselves...

The book includes a cover, two pages of kindergarten facts (favorite color, teacher's name, favorite snack, favorite trip, etc.), my favorite part of kindergarten page, I, AMAZING me page (self portrait), a handprint page with a delightful poem, a special helper page with another cute poem (showcasing people who helped Miss A achieve success this year), and a page for autographs and well wishes/special messages!

Most of the pages have fun borders that can be colored in.  Miss A used a lovely pink and blue color scheme to fill in the border on her "AMAZING me" page.  :)  I love the picture she drew of herself!  :)

This is one of my absolute favorite pages!!!  I wanted to get a nice handprint as a keepsake for Miss A's kindergarten year and thought it would be cute if each finger had a graduation cap as well.  I came up with a sweet little poem to tie the whole concept together and made it the border for the page!  :)

This was another page I was especially pleased with.  I wanted one which celebrated the support and love of others which helped contribute to Miss A's achievements leading up to her graduation day.  I came up with a short poem and decided on the idea of having Miss A draw herself holding a bouquet of balloons (another idea would be a bouquet of flowers) and each balloon would be the thumbprint of someone who helped her that year.  (Not everyone was there the night we made this page, thus the empty strings which will be attached to "balloons" later on).   

The page is set up so a child could also draw pictures of people who contributed to the child's success if the balloon idea doesn't work for a particular class or family.  

Don't ask me about the blue face.  My daughter is not really blue.  I guess she just felt extra colorful that day?

All wording on the above pages is copyrighted and may not be taken and used for different projects (including handprint art) without first contacting me AND obtaining my written consent.  

I have the entire kindergarten memory book (PDF files) available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store here, AND it is on SALE this week!  Hope you will consider snapping one up to work on with your kindergartener-now-turned-first-grader over the summer or for when your child or class graduates next year!  

PLUS, I have included a super sweet kindergarten diploma (see below) with the memory book files.  Again, I couldn't find one I liked after searching online for a while, so I just created my own!  

And to my beloved daughter on her graduation from kindergarten - we love you and are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO proud of you!  I am already looking forward to a fun year of homeschooling with you in first grade!  XXXOOO

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Monday, June 4, 2012

Le Chef Petite - Ocean Pie!

Got the summer blues?  Hmmm, probably not - at least not yet.  BUT if you do - then sit down, close your eyes, dream of the beach, and let your kids make you a dessert that will be almost as good as digging your toes in the warm sand while a balmy breeze kisses your face.  :)  Did I mention that your kids can make it?  (Depending on their ages though, you will want to step in on the hot water part, AND it would be most wise of you to keep at least one eye open, watching the process in the kitchen so that most of the "ocean" does not end up on your floor or in someone's tummy).  See below for the recipe!  :)

1 small box of blue Jello (3 oz.)
1 container of Cool Whip (16 oz.)
1 graham cracker pie crust (or crushed graham crackers)
Strawberries and kiwis for ocean plants (or some other type of fruit)
Swedish fish or gummy fish or gummy eels (a.ka. worms), etc.  - basically, anything ocean creature like.
Optional: blue food color, large glass bowl or container

1.  Mix the entire box of blue jello into 2/3 cup boiling or very hot water until Jello is dissolved.
2.  Add 1 cup of ice water (or part water with ice mixed in) to the jello mixture and stir.
3.  While the dissolved jello mixture cools a bit, slice strawberries and kiwis (use child friendly knives - see below for some suggestions).
4.  Once the jello mixture has cooled to a lukewarm temperature, carefully add the mixture to about 12 ounces of Cool Whip and stir until well combined.
5.  Place sliced fruit on top of the prepared graham cracker crust OR crushed graham crackers in a glass container (we used a large glass container so you could see through the sides, and we just broke up the crust and smashed it into the bottom of the bowl.  Then we placed some of the slices up against the glass so you could see the colorful ocean "plants").
6.  Carefully pour the jello and Cool Whip mixture over the graham crust and fruit until the container is full (if you have extra - freeze it as well and save it for eating later on).
7.  Push your Swedish fish or other gummy ocean creatures into the "ocean" mixture until submerged (or you may want to have a few peeking up from the ocean depths). 
8.  Optional:  dip a knife in blue food color and swirl through the mixture and against the sides of the container you are using.
9.  Dot the top of the "ocean" with any extra Cool Whip to simulate frothy waves.
10. Place your pie in the freezer for 4-6 hours and serve up your own piece of the ocean!  :)

COMING UP LATER IN THE WEEK:  A Homeschool Kinder Graduation - Fancy Style!

NOTE:  I'd love to feature some of my readers!!  If you have an infant or child related post or party you would like to share, please send me a link at and I will take a look.  :)

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