Custom Paint by Number for Adults and Kids

Custom Paint by Number for Adults and Kids

I’m nostalgic to a fault so whenever I see a paint by number kit, I’m immediately transported back to my childhood. Paint by number kits were everything to me as a kid!

I’m definitely not an artistic person when it comes to drawing/painting, so I think I appreciated (And still appreciate) paint by number kits because it allows me to feel accomplished in a way that regular painting usually doesn’t.

Plus, Don’t get me started on how wonderfully it brings about a period of hyperfocus!

What is a Paint by Number kit?

Paint by number kits include a printed outline of what’s to be painted and typically (ideally!) include a brush and little pots of numbered paint. Most paint by number kits are acrylic and oil paints, however I have seen some that use watercolors. Acrylic paints are definitely my preference as they dry quickly and are great for beginners!

Is Paint by Number cheating?

When I brought up these kits to a friend, she mentioned that they always left her feeling like she was cheating. To which I said – HA! While I’m all about celebrating our unique skills and talents, it’s also okay to take a step back and relax. It’s like those paint night parties – is it cheating since everyone is painting the exact same thing, following step-by-step? Of course not!

Our paint by number kids good for kids?

Not only do I still enjoy paint by number kits myself, but they’re actually also really great for kids. Especially right now as the kids are home for summer and need extra activities!

What are the benefits to paint by number kits for kids?

  • Improves hand-eye coordination
  • Builds fine motor skills
  • Encourages creativity
  • Stimulates visualization of abstract concepts
  • Nurtures ability to count and color coordinate
  • Keeps them happy and busy
  • Allows them to feel proud of what they accomplish

Benefits of Paint by Number for adults

Even if your kids aren’t into the activity, that doesn’t mean to toss the notion altogether! Personally, I find paint by number kits to be meditative and help with reducing my stress levels. I find that painting in this way allows me to take the focus off “what am I making” and more toward relaxing.

So the other day when I found out that you could buy a custom paint by number, I knew I had to have it!

Custom Paint by Number kits

The company I went with not only has dozens of pre-made paint by numbers to choose from, but you can order a custom paint by number! I absolutely love the idea of taking a family photo and turning it into a paint by number. I imagine my kids would also very much enjoy a paint by number of their own faces, which would make for a great birthday or holiday gift.

If you do a paint by number, I’m curious – do you start numerically, beginning at one and working up, or do you go by the colors? I’d love it if you would comment below and let me know!

The Most Fun Outdoor Activities in Little Rock

If you are a fan of spending time in the great outdoors, there is so much for you to do in Little Rock, Arkansas. Outdoor recreation can run the gamut from a relaxing picnic with family to adrenaline pumping runs or bike rides.

If you like to relax outside, get your blood pumping, or even just enjoy some quality time outdoors with your family, there are so many options for you in Little Rock. The following outdoor activities in Little Rock will give you and your family or friends lots of fun times to remember fondly:

Pinnacle Mountain State Park

Little Rock is known for outdoor activities, partly because of its location near rivers and mountains, including Pinnacle Mountain. At Pinnacle Mountain State Park, if you are feeling ambitious and adventurous, you can climb to the summit of the mountain itself.

For those who prefer not to literally climb a mountain, they can enjoy hiking, biking, and kayaking at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. If you are looking for an outdoor activity for the whole family, Pinnacle Mountain State Park also has a playground for the kids. Little Rock is unique in being the state’s capital and most populous city but also having a state park right on the edge of the city itself.

Moss Mountain Farm

If you are looking for something different to do outside, consider a tour of Moss Mountain Farm, which consists of the home and gardens of famous horticulturist P. Allen Smith. The gardens are done in the English style, and bring a gorgeous change to the typical Arkansas countryside.

There are occasional tours where the owner himself speaks. In addition, lunch is offered, but you do need to book in advance as spaces fill fast. This is certainly a unique experience at lovely gardens that focus on sustainability.

Parks, Parks, Parks

Little Rock is also known for its number of parks. If you want to spend some quality time outside, there is no shortage of parks in Little Rock to enjoy. At Riverfront Park, kids can enjoy playgrounds, and there is also a sculpture garden, plus the actual “little rock” that gave the city its name.

At Two Rivers Park, you can enjoy flat, paved hiking and biking trails, wildflower meadows, and amazing views of Pinnacle Mountain. At Wildwood Park for the Arts, you can enjoy strolling through the manicured gardens to Swan Lake. There are also dozens of other parks in the city to visit, and if you find that you want to relocate to fully enjoy all of the parks that the city has to offer, there are plenty of Little Rock houses for sale.

If you love the outdoors, Little Rock, Arkansas is the city for you. From adrenaline-pumping mountain climbing to relaxing strolls through gardens or along park trails, there is some outdoor activity for everyone. Plan to enjoy some of the natural beauty that Little Rock has to offer on your next visit, or even plan to stay.

Best Banana Bread Recipe

Best Banana Bread Recipe

I’m not one to spend much time in the kitchen, but I will not hesitate to tell you that I have figured out the world’s best banana bread recipe. Through much trial-and-error, I’ve finally created a banana bread recipe that will without fail result in the most moist, delectable, can’t-stop-eating-it banana bread you’ve ever had. In fact, I’m inhaling an incredible slice as I write this and thinking thank goodness I know how to get paid to lose weight, because I literally can’t stop eating this banana bread.

Best Banana Bread Recipe

This banana bread recipe calls for some pretty specific steps. Toy with them if you must, but if you want the best banana bread, you need to follow this recipe closely. I set out my eggs and butter the night before if plan on baking in the morning. This recipe calls for three mixing bowls, beaters, a sifter, measuring cup, tsp/TBS measuring, and a loaf pan.

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe bananas + pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs (room temperature because we don’t bake with cold ingredients!)
  • 1 stick of butter (again – room temperature)
  • 2 tsp Penzey’s Cake Spice – I’m not affiliated with Penzey’s, but believe me when I say this spice is an absolute MUST! Don’t try just doing cinnamon if you want the BEST banana bread.
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 TBS almond milk (regular milk is fine, too)
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Sugar topping (if desired)

  • 2 TBS brown sugar
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1 TBS water

Preheat over to 325. Mash your bananas in a bowl with the Penzey’s cake spice and a pinch of salt. I like to use my beaters to mix this up well. Let this sit for 5-10 minutes. I usually do this and then get the rest of my ingredients measured out and ready.

In a separate bowl, cream together your sugar and butter until smooth. Save your butter wrapper to butter your loaf pan. Add in your 2 eggs and mix until combined. Add in your splash of vanilla and give it a quick mix. Add in bananas and your tablespoon of milk. Mix until combined.

In another separate bowl, mix together your 2 cups of flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp salt.

Add wet to dry and mix until combined. I recommend using a rubber spatula to really get in there, as the flour tends to hide in pockets sometimes.

Butter your loaf pan well and pour in the batter. Bake 65-70 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool (if you can!) before cutting into it.

Banana Bread Topping

I also really like making a sugar drizzle to go on top. You can do this quickly by melting 2 TBS butter in a microwave safe mug then stirring in 2 TBS of brown sugar and drizzling over. If you prefer to do it on your stove top, I like to add in a tablespoon of water at the end for an easier drizzle.

It’s hard to say whether this or my overnight french toast is my family’s favorite, but for me? This is truly the best banana bread recipe and if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to grab another slice.

World's Best Banana Bread Recipe

Why I Follow the Montessori(ish) Method

Why I Follow the Montessori(ish) Method

Despite being over 100 years old, the Montessori Method seems to be gaining in popularity. It’s no wonder, though – Montessori has a lot to offer! While I wouldn’t say I’m a strict Montessori mom, there are definitely pieces of the Montessori philosophies that I have incorporated into our lives, even when my children were babies.

What is the Montessori method?

The Montessori method was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in 1907. Italy’s first female doctor, Dr. Montessori opened the Casa dei Bambini as a way to provide education to low-income children in Rome. Instead of using traditional teaching methods though, Dr. Montessori decided to test her own educational theories in the classroom. These eventually developed into the child,-centered educational theories we now most commonly know as the Montessori Method. 

Isn’t Montessori only for rich people?

When I first looked at potentially sending my children to a Montessori preschool in our area, the tuition floored me. I had heard that Montessori was expensive, but yikes…

Deciding I neither wanted to sell my kidneys nor commit wire fraud, I felt the next best thing was to start to incorporate Montessori at home.

It was when I was researching Montessori that I learned about Maria Montessori, developing her teaching methods in some of the poorest districts in Italy. It’s interesting that while modern Montessori schools tend to be pricey, the roots of this teaching style are the exact opposite of elitist.

Incorporating Montessori at Home

In the interest of being thrifty, the idea of going out and buying a bunch of furniture/toys/supplies that was supposedly “Montessori” didn’t sit well with me. This is where the Montessori(ISH) comes into play as I began to incorporate Montessori without going all in.

Keeping Things Accessible

With Montessori, I loved the idea of children being independent and free to learn/explore at their own pace. So even as babies, I let my children guide the way (while keeping them safe, of course!)

By following their lead, they were able to learn in a way that kept them excited and curious. In Montessori, this is called having a “prepared environment.”

What is a Montessori Prepared Environment?

A prepared environment is Dr. Montessori’s idea that a child’s surroundings can be designed to allow for maximum independent learning and exploration by the child. 

The 6 main elements include:

  • Freedom
  • Structure and order
  • Beauty
  • Nature and reality
  • Social environment
  • Intellectual environment

Basically it’s the idea that you create space for your child that is meaningfully structured. Everything within their space should have a purpose and nothing should be such that it’s overwhelming to the child.

Do Montessori children play pretend?

Research shows that children under the age of six have a hard time distinguishing between fantasy and reality. This is why it’s so easy for children to believe in the idea of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc.

As such, Montessori encourages play to be rooted in reality. Think actually baking cookies rather than “playing restaurant”.

Personally, while I appreciate the concept, this is again where I don’t necessarily go all in when it comes to Montessori.

Playing School

Here’s a great example of why I think one can pull from Montessori without necessarily being strict with it.

My kids have always been very into playing baby dolls, which is technically discouraged by Montessori, but never by me.

My daughter is now in first grade, and still very much plays with her baby dolls. But now, every day after school and for a lot of the time on the weekends, she plays school with her dolls. She teaches them exactly what it is. She learned in school that week. From her hundreds chart and other mathematical facts to grace and courtesy and being kind to one another.

She is unknowingly reinforcing that which she is learning. Completely on her own…well unless you count the dolls. 😉

It’s a great example of how Montessori and traditional schooling can overlap in a beautiful way.

Discipline in Montessori

I was very blessed in that my children ended up at a preschool that – like me – is Montessori(ISH). 

And one of the first concepts that was instilled at this preschool is the idea of positive reinforcement and conscious discipline.

As someone who was raised by a yeller, I knew that was never the kind of mom I wanted to be.

So while I was very cognizant of the tone and words I would use with my children, the Montessori(ish) preschool that my kids went to helped further develop that skill set.

When it comes to discipline within the Montessori method, it’s true in that punishment isn’t a part of the experience. There are no timeouts or groundings. Instead, it is on the parents or other adults in the child’s life to model ideal behavior and gently guide the children back on track should they stray with misbehavior.

Leading by Example

I’ve always found it interesting that many adults seem to hold their children to a higher standard than they hold themselves. It’s this idea of the adults demanding respect, despite not showing it themselves… Which is probably a whole ‘nother blog post in and of itself. 

But how can we expect children to self-regulate with their emotions if we do not model how to do such? If we are constantly yelling, why would the children not then do the same? If we name call, gossip, degrade ourselves or others… Children will of course mirror those behaviors.

In that same vein, though, when we lead with kindness, children will follow suit.

And that’s a big part of the Montessori method that I’ve always found to be the most attractive – It’s on the adults to model ideal behavior to children and to use kind, respectful words to show children how to take care of themselves, their possessions, and the world around them. 

Being Montessori-Ish

No matter the age of your child, it’s worth looking into Montessori and pulling from it that which you might find useful in how your parenting. Because keep in mind – Montessori is a collection of theories and principles, it’s not a list of hard and fast rules that you must follow in order to “be the best.”

When it comes down to it, Montessori is about following your child’s lead. Even if you enroll your children in traditional schooling, as I did mine, there’s much to be said about how Montessori can support their education outside of school.

I’m absolutely going to take a minute to brag on my own children, in that they are two of the brightest, most incredible kids. They love to learn. Their reading levels far surpass those of their peers. They are brilliantly creative in ways that blow my mind each and every single day. I fully expect them to have a better grasp on mathematical concepts than I do in the next year or two… Hehe though to be fair, I was in English major, math has never been my strong suit. 

You can be Montessori(ish) and still reap so many of the benefits that come with following the Montessori Method. Believe me when I say that doing so will not only benefit your children, but your family as a whole. 

Above all else – have fun with it!

Throwing a Sloth Themed Birthday Party

Throwing a Sloth Themed Birthday Party

My daughter is obsessed with sloths so for her 7th birthday, we of course had to throw a sloth themed birthday party! While sloths are absolutely adorable and seem to be trending, I found there wasn’t a lot in terms of sloth themed birthday party ideas. So if you’ve got a kid like me – or you are sloth obsessed yourself- check out these party ideas!

Throwing a Sloth Themed Birthday Party

Do you have a zoo or aquarium nearby? If you’re lucky, you might be able to set up a sloth encounter with a real life sloth! Now this isn’t one we were able to take advantage of ourselves, but I did do an opossum encounter for my 32nd birthday – Yes an opossum. Yes for my birthday. Zoo encounters are an absolutely wonderful way to celebrate a birthday! Fair warning – if you bring a sloth (or an opossum) to a birthday party, good luck ever throwing a better party. But it’ll certainly to be one to remember!

DIY Sloth Decorations

If you like to go the DIY route, DIY sloth decorations are easier than you might think.

If you have a cricket or silhouette machine, you could certainly do some screen printed napkins. Alas, I am not lucky enough to yet have a machine like this, but I did pick up a sloth stamp to add to the corner of our party napkins. It’s a sweet touch, that adds to the overall sloth theme.

Another idea is to print out sloths onto clear vinyl stickers to add to party cups or party hats. A pack of these is super affordable! And these usually work with most printers, no special machinery required. Click here to get your sloth sticker set for only $1!

Sloth Goody Bags

Naturally we had to go all out for the goody bags. There are these pre-made sloth goody bags if you don’t want to go the DIY route:

See on Amazon

But personally I didn’t want to spend the money on buying the pre-made ones, so I decided to take a chance at making them myself. I think they turned out pretty great! In fact, you can get the sloth template I made and used here for only $1!

Sloth goodie bag - DIY TemplateBuy My Template - $1

You can print the template on bright white cardstock, have the kids help color in the hats and bow tie/ bows or you can trace onto construction paper. I used this pack of construction paper for the goodie bags pictured above.

Sloth Trinkets + Treats

I try to be really intentional in picking candy alternatives for goodie bags, so I went with as many sloth-themed trinkets as I could find.

Target had some really great wind up sloth toys:

Sloth wind-up toys for goody bags

I also picked up these amazing vinyl sloth stickers:

See on Amazon

My daughter really enjoyed deciding what stickers would go in goodie bags versus which she would keep for her own collection, and goodness knows there were plenty left over! 

We also got sloth stamps and sloth pens. Oriental Trading often has some great sloth themed toys! I can’t lie, I was really tempted to pick up these hugging stuffed sloth slap bracelets, but I couldn’t bring myself to spend $5+ per goody bag.

While not always in stock, it’s worth checking out:

  • Sloth Bendables – so cute and so fun to play with!
  • Growing Sloths – stick ’em in water and watch them grow!
  • Sloth Bracelets realllllly wanted to buy these for myself if nothing else! I mean c’mon…look how cute!!

hugging sloth bracelet

Sloth Slime

I also toyed with the idea of doing some fun sloth slime. In the end, I decided against it, because I didn’t want the other parents to hate me. But if you don’t care, or perhaps want to get payback for someone sending slime home with your own kids, this is a fun add to a goodie bag.

Simply have your kids make a big batch of slime and then divvy it up into small 2oz containers. Use this sticker template for the tops of the jars:

sloth sticker circles printable

Download My Sloth Sticker Set!

You can also pick up the sticker template to have for just that – stickers! And let’s be honest, everyone loves stickers. Especially those parents who might otherwise hate you for the slime. 

You might also think about adding this sloth party coloring page to the goodie bags. You can pick up a bulk set of crayons and every kid is sure to enjoy this fun sloth activity. Click to download a free set of sloth coloring pages!

Target also has a super fun sloth mask activity. All you need is scissors, fabric, glue, felt, and ribbon or string. Each child can then have their own adorable sloth mask! Target even has a sloth mask template you can download for free!

sloth mask craft for kids

Of course we can’t forget the invitations! These are pretty simple to DIY yourself using Canva, but again, you can pick up my template to customize and print your own here for only a dollar!

Download Sloth Invites Template Now!

Another simple DIY idea for your sloth themed birthday party is to simply create branches out of brown craft paper. If your child is anything like mine, you probably already have a few sloth stuffed animals. Roll up the brown craft paper to make branches and simply hang the stuffies from there. Goodness knows your child will be extra excited to have these guests at her party! 

sloth craft using brown paper as branches

Sloth Birthday Party Decorations

I did end up purchasing a few different sloth themed decoration so that I didn’t have to DIY at all. I got these great sloth balloons:

See on Amazon

This fun cake topper:

See on Amazon

These sloths swirl decorations:

See on Amazon

I did decide to get extra cheesy in that our family decided to wear sloth T-shirts. While I was tempted to make us all match, I decided to mix it up. There are a surprising amount of sloth t-shirt styles available! 

I couldn’t get my daughter on board with a sloth pinata, but they do make them! And just like the t-shirts, there are quite a few options to choose from. I personally love this one:

See on Amazon

Don’t have the time to get crafty or simply just not your thing? Purchase pre-made leaves and scatter them on tables or hang them from the ceiling and walls. 

See on Amazon

Sloth Party Food Ideas

When it comes to the food and treats, there’s a number of sloth themed options.

I really love these Tootsie roll Rice Krispies. They’re fairly quick and easy to make, but look like you special ordered them.

rice krispy sloth treats with tootsie rolls

These Oreo cookies are also an absolute delight. Plus who doesn’t love chocolate covered Oreos!

sloth oreo cookies

And of course, for the main event, you can do a sloth cake:

Or these absolutely adorable sloth cupcakes:

Or if you really want to? Wow your guests, perhaps try your hand at these sloth cake pops:

I hope this has given you plenty of ideas for throwing your own sloth themed birthday party. From DIY decor to goodie bag fun, and so much more, I hope you have the best sloth party. Be sure to tag me on Instagram at @amber_temerity if you use any of these ideas at your next sloth party!

Throwing a Sloth Themed Birthday Party