These 4 easy cupcake decorating ideas for kids aren’t actually just for kids: they’re perfect for anyone who wants to make an adorable cupcake but has never used a piping bag before! You don’t need any cake decorating skills or tools at all to make these adorable treats that look almost too cute to eat!
Using kitchen shears, cut two thin slices off marshmallow. Cut one slice in half and use each piece for an ear. Use the second slice for the bear’s muzzle. Sprinkle shredded coconut on the remainder of the exposed frosting for “fur.”
Place two candy eyes above the muzzle, and use the black decorating gel to create a rectangular nose.
Using a kitchen shears, snip two thin slices off large marshmallow and pinch one end of each slice into an ear shape. Dip a sticky side of the “ears” into pink sugar crystals. Attach ears onto cupcake by pressing into frosting.
Fill a resealable plastic bag with additional white frosting and snip a hole in one corner. Squirt out frosting into two circle to form the rabbit’s cheeks.
Place jelly bean in the middle above the cheeks to make the nose. Insert the chocolate chips upside down above the nose for rabbit’s eyes. Insert 2 pieces of white gum under cheeks to make the teeth.
Use a knife to trim off a small piece of each candy melt to make a straight edge. Place each chocolate melt on the top of cupcake to create ears.
Using a large circular tip (or just trim a large hole in the cover of resealable bag), pipe a snout on to the bottom of the cupcake. Press chocolate chips upside down into the frosting above the snout for the eyes.
Use the black decorating gel to form the bear’s nose.
I hope you enjoyed these easy cupcake decorating ideas for kids! They’re clearly not Trim Healthy Mama-friendly (though the Hedgehog and Brown Bear Cupcakes could easily be made that way with on-plan chocolate frosting and melted dark chocolate in place of the decorating gel!), but they’ll bring lots of smiles to your table. 🙂
Recipe creating and gardening aside, homeschooling and minimalism are two other passions of mine. Sometimes the two concepts seem diametrically opposed to each other. Creating a fun and healthy atmosphere of learning requires things, and yet too much stuff feels suffocating! My goal is to create an uncluttered homeschool: warm, friendly, and educational, but free of excess. I want to encourage creativity, but not feel stifled by a mess. It’s difficult to do (especially when you’re family is larger than average!), but it’s not impossible!
Here are some things I try to keep in mind when I’m decorating.
Here’s a short video of my husband and boys putting together these IKEA Hemnes cabinets:
Let your homeschooling resources double as decor
Is there anything more beautiful or educational than shelves and shelves of good books?!
We have a series of 3 bookcases upstairs and 3 bookcases downstairs. The books one the shelves shown here are organized by topic (Christian living, marriage/family, homeschooling, biographies, children’s literature, politics, etc.). Books that are too large to stand upright, I stacked on their side to act as a bookend for the other books and add interest to the shelves.
White space and pops of greenery (these Dollar Store terra cotta also double as bookends) keep things looking fresh and minimal.
Treasures we’ve found during our Nature Walks have a designated shelf behind glass doors in our bookcase. I love being able to have their feathers, nests, rocks and bugs on display but out of reach from our littlest people. This idea was inspired by my friend, Doreen (if you homeschool, or love poetry and nature, you will love her Instagram page, An Every Day Faith).
My friend Meagan (Our Home In The Woods on Instagram, and artist behind Printable Homeschool on Etsy) gifted me two vintage posters from The Paper Place. I loved them so much, that I ended up purchasing 4 more! At $6 each, they are a beautiful and inexpensive way to add color to your home can help us identify the butterflies, birds, and feathers we find, and the veggies and herbs we grow…in French!
Charlotte Mason said that every child needs three things:
Something to think about
Something to do
Something to love (or care for)
Indoor plants (and outdoor rabbits!), are part our “things to love.” They provide the kids opportunity to care for something and reap the reward of seeing growth and life. Currently, we don’t have many indoor plants, but our plans for the Summer include building a console table to fit behind the couch closest to the window so we can grow more of them in the natural light that fills the space.
Some of my other favorite homeschool resources that double as decor include:
Wooden Art Mannequins
Stick to neutral colors and clean lines
A simple color palette and clean lines lend a peaceful vibe to the atmosphere of a home. Our house is usually bustling with activity and I find it helps to keep the decor toned down to prevent sensory overload. I find neutral colors and textures calming; wood, weaves, grays, whites, blues, and greens are prevalent here.
Another benefit to having one color scheme through out the whole house, is that you can “shop” your rooms and switch up your decor without having to buy new things. Switching mirrors, picture frames and furniture around is easy to do when everything looks like it belongs together.
Neutral palettes can often be created for free of very frugally. The vast majority of the decor in our house was salvaged from junk piles and restored with a little love, or built ourselves with natural materials. It’s easier to purge things that haven’t cost much money to begin with, too.
Hide the mess
The reality of homeschooling is that your children live at home, so don’t expect it to look as though they are off at school (I am so guilty of this!).
The wear and tear on a house is far more significant when it’s being occupied for most of the day. The mess is more significant, too. I often have a small anxiety attack when someone drops in unannounced, but I’m slowly adjusting to the reality that our house usually look like it’s well loved…and it’s a good thing!
There’s a saying that goes:
If you want to see me, you’re always welcome; if you want to see my house, please make an appointment.
That couldn’t be more true! When appointments are made, however, it’s nice to be able to tidy up a bit and hide the mess. This is where sufficient and proper storage comes in handy!
Our children’s workbooks, pencils, erasers, pens, notebooks, coloring books, etc., have designated cupboard space in our kitchen (which also doubles as our homeschool room). It’s not always organized the way I’d like it to be, but I love being able to shove everything behind closed doors when I want the outside of the cup to look clean!
Baskets are handy for storing toys that keep the younger kids occupied while I’m working with the older ones (and for stashing ALL THE THINGS into when people pop by unannounced).
Beds are made for so much more than sleeping on – do you know how much stuff you can store under there?! A room full of Lego, that’s what. We store our Lego and army and Playmobil in these handy under-the-bed storage totes.
Under Bed Storage
They come with wheels on the bottom, making access and transport a breeze.
Only allow things in your homeschool that serve a purpose or bring you joy.
If it doesn’t serve a purpose or bring joy, get rid of it. That means selling, donating, or tossing anything that:
isn’t used enough to deserve the space it takes up
has a purpose that can be fulfilled by something else you already own
causes unnecessary stress or clutter
Toys, clothes, linens, toiletries, books (I have a really hard time with this one), craft supplies, kitchen utensils, tools, footwear, DVDs, CDs, home decor, appliances, electronics, magazines, paint cans, cookbooks, hair accessories, curriculum, hand bags, herbs & spices, sports equipment, gift wrap, games – there is always something to purge!
You’ll find yourself with:
less to clean
less to organize
less to distract
more enjoyment of the things we have
a place for everything
things that are easy to find
Don’t allow stuff to breed
This isn’t hard to do if you regularly enforce two rules:
If something new comes in, something old must go out.
When it comes to gifts, give an experience instead of a thing.
You don’t have to keep all of their projects
Really. You actually don’t.
We take photo memories to keep of their projects and accomplishments, and then release most of them to the recycle bin. Their best works that I want to save for posterity, I store in a scrapbook/binder for each child.
The best reason for working towards an uncluttered homeschool?
As much as reading writing, and arithmetic are important, I want our children to understand that this is even more so:
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Mathew 6: 19-20
Perhaps it’s my Dutch heritage coming through, or maybe it’s a byproduct of growing up in awe of how the Lord always provided for us supernaturally, but when it comes to decorating, I rebel against spending much on material things that, while they may beautify a home in this life, they have no value in the next. It seems imprudent to invest in things that moth and rust will destroy. This life is but a vapor, and even in this quick breath of earthly existence, stuff gets “dated,” color trends are just that – trends, and patterns and textures go in and out of favor.
Nevertheless, I love beauty. Everybody loves beauty; we are meant to. God loves beauty. He created beautiful things for His glory and He delights when we delight in what He has made. It is a good thing to make time for beauty and order in our homes. Aside from it being a reflection of God’s character, it also tell those who live there that their personal comfort is important to us.
It’s an interesting dichotomy, and the balance – it’s hard to achieve, isn’t it? For the most part, I’ve found that decorating our home with free or frugal things helps me not grow attached to perishables. If it’s easily replaceable and has no real monetary value, there’s no need to stress over the “thing” being broken.
This is why I love an edited farmhouse style look. The less things there are around, the less there is that can get wrecked. Clutter-free homes are naturally more peaceful; minimizing decor minimizes home management and maximizes relaxation. The farmhouse decor that is on display is already characterized by beautiful imperfections; chippy paint, rusty metal, weathered wood – if these things get bumped and banged, they increase in their appeal! I am certain it was a mother that popularized modern farmhouse style. Oh wait! It was. Her name is Joanna Gaines.
Here is where to find free or frugal farmhouse decor so you can help your house become a home without breaking the bank.
1. When you’re hunting for a particular piece of decor, always check the thrift store first. I was searching for a Spring wreath to display on our mantel in the living room, but I couldn’t justify spending $25 (plus shipping) on a boxwood wreath from Amazon. Instead, I found a pink and yellow pastel egg wreath at a thrift store for $2.99. It was not my style at all (other than peony bouquets from the garden in June, there is no pink decor in our house!), but a few coats of leftover white paint, a couple splatters of grey with an old tooth brush, and sphagnum moss remnants from another project strategically inserted and glued into the gaps, resulted in a fresh, farmhouse-y wreath that works just as well as the more expensive kind.
Thrift stores are also great places to find inexpensive baskets…
…headboards and night tables (I found bought our oldest son’s headboard for $3, and his night table for $7)…
…and vintage artwork, like the gold-framed herb prints above.
2. (Professional decorators, this is the part where you look away and move onto the next blog.) I must confess, the Dollar Store is one of my favorite places to look for home decor. You can’t find huge, ornate statement pieces there, but you can find lovely little treasures that when group together, can create a big impact on a small budget. The black frames that hold our botanical prints in the kitchen and our family photos in the living room (above), are cheap-o Dollar Store purchases. Hung together, they create a minimalist, symmetrical focal point on the wall. For pennies, prints and photographs can easily be switched out to create a new look.
Faux florals is another favorite Dollar Store purchase of mine. Some of it can look pretty fake, but every once in a while, I’m delighted to find rather realistic looking boxwood balls (and bowls to put them in)…
….forsythia and pussy willow twigs,
The Dollar Store also sells vases…
…stainless steel bowls…
…even wooden cutting boards!
3. The side of the road is my absolute favorite place to find farmhouse decor. There is such a thrill in finding your own treasure, absolutely free, in someone else’s trash! I am incredibly incentivized to get my exercise the night before, or the morning of Big Garbage Day. A walk around the block has yielded (among other things): an outdoor patio set, a wooden rocking chair, Christmas trees, a sleigh, 2 bar stools, outdoor planters and urns, a baby carrier, brand new sheets of plywood and melamine boards, a blanket ladder, an old window frame, and a scooter.
Since I loathe clutter, I sell most of our junkin’ finds, but every once in a while, I keep a piece that is perfectly suited to a space in our house. Then I smile every time I walk by it, thinking of how kind the Lord is to allow us the enjoyment of simple gifts that remind us of His area of expertise: turning ashes into beauty.
4. Build it yourself. Neither my husband nor I are professional carpenters at all, but building projects together is a hobby we both find relaxing. It’s productive, quality chat time, and we’ve saved hundreds of dollars this way. Plus, there’s great satisfaction in using something you’ve made yourself. Nothing we’ve made is perfect, but that’s lovely thing about farmhouse decor, am I right? Flaws add character!
We built our large (it seats 10-12 people) farmhouse dining table and bench using preformed deck posts and pine boards. The total cost came to $300 – a far cry from purchasing one brand new!
I built our headboard for a total of $9.17, using leftover fencing boards we had sitting in the garage and nails from another project. All I had to purchase was the tiny can of light blue-grey stain, “Mussel Shell” by Cabot.
Most of the signs in our house were made for pennies using scrap wood from the neighbor’s trash, wood glue, nails, stencils, and leftover paint.
5. Sew it yourself. Our table runner took minutes and just a few dollars to make using tea towel material from the fabric store, and our old living room pillows stay fresh and clean with washable covers made from drop cloth and leftover paint.
6. Look online. I found our set of coffee tables on Kijiji (Canada’s Craigslist) for a steal. They needed some love, but a weekend later, they were looking beautiful and we didn’t break the bank. I’ve also found a few things on local Facebook Buy/Sell pages.
The botanical prints in our kitchen are free downloads from the Biodiversity Library (you can read more about how I hung them here)….
7. Captain Obvious here, but farms are great places to find cheap farmhouse decor! My parents live on one, and it’s a win-win for both of us when I declutter some weathered boards, windows, milk cans, metal troughs or wooden crates from their shed. Have a farmer friend? Ask him (or her) if he’d like some help cleaning up his barn!
Do you love the farmhouse style, too? Tell me your favorite free or frugal places to collect decor for your home!
Sorry for yelling. I’m just very happy to have a stove after 8 weeks of “cooking” for 7 without one!
(By “cooking,” I mean we ate prepackaged carbs that tasted similarly to the boxes the came in.)
It’s an overcast day, so these photos aren’t great, but I thought I’d share a few shots anyway. Here’s a photo of our old kitchen from the MLS listing when we bought our house two years ago:
This is our kitchen now:
Same spot, after:
A before photo of the dining area:
And how it looks now:
It felt like a long haul while we were in the middle of the chaos, but now that it’s finished, I’m so thrilled we plowed through the challenges (I’ll share those another day).
Except for the electrical work, Brad and I installed the entire kitchen ourselves, working in the evenings and on Saturdays.
Removing the island resulted in a much better flow of traffic for our family of seven.
The kitchen is so much brighter, even on this rainy day, thanks to IKEA’s white Grimslov cabinets, shiny white subway tile, under cabinet lighting, and new, recessed lights.
We chose Formica’s Argento Romano laminate counter tops because of their affordability, but everyone asks if they’re granite!
The addition of two pantries and a built in desk provide more than enough storage for food and all our homeschooling books.
The kids love to do their schoolwork here, and when they’re not using it, it makes a wonderful command station for me!
This invisible spice drawer in our double bank of drawers next to the stove is one of my favorite features. I love seeing my most-used spices at a glance and knowing how much of everything I have left.
Originally, I had envisioned an undermount sink, but since they aren’t yet compatible with laminate counters, we opted for IKEA’s NORRSJON stainless steel double bowl, top mount sink that sits almost flush with the counter. We’re loving our IKEA Kitchen Sink!
We also chose IKEA’s RINGSKAR faucet. It’s a super simple, sleek design with a pull-out sprayer. It’s quite high, which makes it really nice for filling up large stock pots.
Our kitchen reno is nearing completion (hence, the lack of blog posts lately!), and I can’t wait to show you the big reveal! Today, I’ll give you a sneak peek.
Long before we started our kitchen remodel, I had envisioned an art gallery on the wall next to the patio doors. This wall is across from our dining table, which is also our homeschooling table. I pictured 12 matching frames, hung symmetrically, with vintage prints that could be swapped out each season.
Finding 12 black inexpensive, identical 8×10 frames was easy. (I got mine from the Dollar Store, but this 12-pack set from Amazon is also beautiful!)
Hanging the frames intimidated me at first. I’m an eye-baller, not a measure-er; getting 12 frames perfectly aligned without any additional holes in the wall seemed like an impossibility…until I spied a roll of geometrically patterned wrapping paper.
I rolled out the wrapping paper on the floor and placed my picture frames on top, using the straight pattern lines as a guide for keeping things level. Once all 12 frames were perfectly spaced, I traced around each of them with a black marker.
Using painter’s tape, I hung my wrapping paper guide on our soon-to-be art gallery wall. With a level, I made sure the top and bottom edges of the paper were in line with the ceiling and the floor.
Then I took a measuring tape, and marked the center of each rectangle so I would know where to hammer the nails on which the frames would hang.
I nailed through the paper on the marks I had made, just enough to make a small hole in the wall. Then I removed the wrapping paper guide, and drove the nails all the way through.
This method worked perfectly, and we’re thoroughly enjoying the easy-to-change view from the table!
Do It Yourself: To hang your own Art Gallery Wall the easy way, you’ll need:
Our entire house was painted beige when we first moved in. It wasn’t awful, so I could live with it and not feel pressured to change everything right away. But, it definitely wasn’t “me” and I couldn’t wait to freshen up each room with a lighter, happier, modern-industrial-country-farmhouse feel (Is that a thing? It is to me.).
I have a strong aversion to clutter and love for things to be clean and bright. Texture, mixed natural elements, and a few big, meaningful pieces are things that make a room beautiful to me. As a single-income family of seven, I try to do projects as frugally as possible. With those things in mind, we took our master bedroom from this:
It’s big, with a large, beautiful window, two double-door closets, neutral carpet, and an entry to the main bathroom. All it needed was some personal cosmetic touches which I was happy to provide. 🙂
I started out by making a new headboard one afternoon using leftover boards from the fence we built around our backyard (tutorial on that another day). I wanted a statement piece that would draw the eye upward and give the illusion of a taller ceiling. It took around two hours to build; all I had to make were a few straight cuts, pound in a handful of nails, and stain the boards a lovely blue-grey color called “Mussel Shell” by Cabot that brought out the blue tone in the paint I used for the walls (“Flint Smoke” by Behr).
Since we already had the boards, hammer, and nails, the only cost for the headboard was the stain, which was just over $9. It was one of the cheapest projects in the room, but it’s my favorite!
I found the King-sized quilt and matching shams at Quilts, Etc. on clearance for $29. Our bed is actually a Queen, but we’re both blanket hogs, so I buy everything but the fitted sheet one size larger.
The throw pillows came from Wal-Mart, the white, organic cotton sheets from Home Sense (also on clearance), and the throw on the blanket ladder (a curbside find…I think it used to part of a bunk bed) was a wedding present.
Our dresser, night tables, and mirror were all from the same hand-me-down set we were gifted from my parents when we got married. We had changed the hardware years ago, so all I had to do was detach the mirror from the dresser, take off the wings, and give it a white wash with leftover paint before hanging it on the wall.
One of my favorite details about this room is the faux brick wall. It looks so realistic, but it’s actually just Grey and White Brick Peel And Stick Wallpaper by NuWallpaper! My husband did the entire wall by himself in one evening, and we’re still happily married. 😀
Wallpaper is expensive, but we only did one wall so we didn’t break the bank. I think the impact it provides was well worth the cost.
The mercury glass base lamps are from Home Sense, and the faux greenery and white bowls are from the Dollar Store.
The heavily distressed wooden bench at the foot of our bed is a hand-me-down from my late grandparents, and the vintage egg-prints in Dollar Store frames were freebies from The Graphics Fairy. They cost me $3 to print.
Now our bedroom coordinates with our main bathroom, which you can see more of here.
I love the change and the peaceful oasis we can retreat to at the end of the day.
When we bought the place, the main bathroom was probably my least favorite room. Located right in the middle of the house, it has no windows, which made the same greige color that looked great in the living room feel dark and depressing. It’s amazing how much lighting effects paint!
The bathroom was so dark, the camera had a hard time focusing when I tried to take a “Before” shot. We decided to tackle this room first. Well, I did, with Brad’s permission. 😉
Main Bathroom Pros:
It has on-suite privileges. There’s an entrance to this bathroom from both the hallway and the master bedroom.
It’s spacious. There’s plenty of room to move around when bathing the Littles.
It has neutral, tile-look vinyl flooring with beige an grey tones that hide dirt incredibly well.
The toilet, shower, and sink are white and in new condition.
Main Bathroom Cons:
No windows. Did I mention this bathroom is very dark?
The white porcelain knobs on the vanity looked plastic.
10 walls. Yes, ten. That’s a lot of corners to tape. 😉
No closet = limited storage space.
My biggest challenge for this room was to brighten it up, but with four young children, I didn’t think going all white would be very practical. I compromised and decided to install a faux board and batten to the walls behind the mirror and toilet. This would allow me add a good dose of white, some architectural interest and a bit of farmhouse flair very inexpensively.
I replaced the white porcelain knobs with Stanley satin nickel knobs and drawer pulls and painted the rest of the walls a blue-grey with a green undertone called “Capable” by Para paints.
I found this floating shelf at Walmart and decorated it with some Dollar Store items and a few hand-me-down gifts from my Mom and late Oma. Raise your hand if you love the Dollar Store! Okay, you can put it down now. Who doesn’t love the Dollar Store?!
From L to R: A sea sponge on an ironstone soap dish from my Mom, my late Oma’s old wooden sewing box, a small canning jar filled with Q-tips, a Dollar Store jar filled with cotton balls and a wooden nail brush, a Dollar Store jar filled with soap bars, a shaving brush, and another Dollar Store jar filled with Epsom Salts.
On the opposite wall of the shelf, I hung a $10 piece of art work I found at Giant Tiger. It’s painted with the exact same shades of the walls, counter top, and flooring! I still think this wall looks a little bare. What do you think it needs? A candle holder on either side?
Behind the toilet, Brad installed two satin nickel Stanley hooks, one for each of our towels. I hung up a seagrass basket I happened to have on hand to hold some extra toilet paper rolls. I still plan on adding a silver tray to the back of the toilet to hold a candle and some air freshener. A white, waffle weave shower curtain keeps things nice and bright!
I still want to make a mason jar soap dispenser, add a banana leaf or wicker hamper, and am contemplating spray painting the mirror, but for the most part, this room is done!
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