DIY Travel Trays

When we were prepping for our trip to Gulf Shores, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified of the idea of being in the car all day with small children.  It seriously scared the crap out of me.  It’s like seven kinds of Hell when kids are hungry or tired or bored or they simply want to be somewhere other than the car and you are trapped in a box on wheels with nothing to help them.  It makes my brain short-circuit.  It does things to my aura.  It makes my eyes twitch.  I was completely and totally dreading it.

In attempt to not completely lose my mind on the ride to our vacation, I started coming up with a list of activities for the car that would keep them occupied.  All-of-a-sudden, it hit me – there are so many more options for entertainment when the child has a surface in front of them.  Just think about it.  Plus, it makes eating in the car so much easier.  I knew that we needed travel trays for the kids, and we needed them ASAP.  Since time was of the essence (and because I’m a cheap skate) I opted to make my own trays in lieu of buying them.  So, I did just that.  And you know what?  They were a freaking lifesaver! I spent around $5 and about 2 hours to make them both. Allow me to walk you through the process. Your sanity can thank me later.

I bought 9×13 inch baking sheets. You could use a bigger size if you desire. This size fit perfectly in the carseat without hanging over the edges.

I marked where I want holes to be drilled. The plan was to secure the trays to the carseat with Velcro so they didn’t become projectiles during the trip.

I asked the handy man in my life to make those holes happen. He even sanded down the edges so there weren’t any sharp edges. You should definitely take the time to do that.

I spray painted the top and bottom of each tray with fun colors. Once it was completely dry, I broke out the Mod Podge and some coordinating scrapbook paper. I cut the paper to size (rounding the corners to better fit in the pan). A thick layer of Mod Podge later, my trays were ready to be installed. I used cord keeper Velcro straps to loop through the holes. The Velcro stuck to Luke’s carseat, but not Anna’s. For Anna’s, I used another Velcro cord keeper that was looped around the carseat frame to attach the tray to. Not quite as handy, but it gets the job done.

Coloring in the car (and not crying). Thank you, DIY Travel Tray!!

Eating in the car is no big deal with a traveling table. DIY Travel Tray, you are my new best friend!

Bonus – the trays are magnetic, so all of our toys with magnets were instant hits. DIY Travel Tray, let’s run away together?

Keepsake Ornaments

I saw a post floating around on Pinterest about keepsake ornaments for your Christmas tree.  The post showed pieces of a wedding invite or birth announcement gracefully curled up inside a clear ornament.  It was perfectly put together with fun scripted paint on the outside and staged so that no matter how your ornaments turn out, you are going to feel a little less than par.  That’s Pinterest for you, huh?  Accepting early defeat, I got the idea to have the kids create keepsake ornaments during our Gulf Shores trip.  I figured we could have them collect sand and shells, write a date on the outside, tie a ribbon to the top, and go about laying around on the beach.  In practice, it took about an hour and all the adults ended up super gluing their fingers together.  Ah, memories!

I ordered clear, plastic ornaments from Amazon. These were 100 mm, but smaller would have worked fine as well. I wanted to do plastic so they wouldn’t be as fragile as a traditional ornament.

We sent the kids (and adults) out to fill their ornament with any treasures they could find on the beach. Notice that Anna was filling hers with rocks. Lots and lots of rocks.

The kids actually had a great time searching for stuff to put in their ornament. It was almost like a scavenger hunt…

Once inside, the adults super glued the two sides together to ensure that the ornaments wouldn’t break apart down the road. Nothing like your memories spilling out into your suitcase. We used puff paint pens (regular paint pens would have worked much better) to write the location and year. A ribbon was tied to the top loop so the ornament can hang – like ornaments like to do.

Voila! Eat your heart out, Pinterest.
The ornaments dried overnight and traveled really well for the ride home. Now the issue is going to be finding a branch that’s sturdy enough for Anna’s ball of rocks…

Tie-Dye T-Shirts

I haven’t tie-dyed anything since I can’t remember when.  It was always something that I enjoyed doing because the shirts always ended up looking so much better than you expect them to.  Plus, who doesn’t love rocking some tie-dye?  My first day of kindergarten, I wore a tie-dye jumper and had a ‘101 Dalmatians’ lunchbox .  It was totally psychedelic.  My mom was wearing a full-length jean skirt.  It.was.awesome!

Anyway, I digress.  The last time I tie-dyed anything, we used big buckets of dye to dip the items in.  Frankly, it was a pain in the hump.  I’ve recently realized that someone in the entrepreneurial spirit realized that buckets of dye are annoying and came up with a squirt bottle method to tie-dye.  I saw it in the store and thought that a tie-dye project during our beach trip would be perfect.  Turns out, it was still messy but the shirts still turned out great.  Maybe getting dye all over you is just a rite of passage for tie-dying??

What you’ll need: dye kit, rubber bands, plastic wrap, and something to tie-dye


Pinch and twirl your shirt around and secure with rubber bands. The bands don’t cause the colors to stop, it just keeps the folds together (which causes the funky patterns). You can Google ideas on how to fold and twist your shirt to create different designs.


Once your shirt is rolled and secured with bands (and the dye is mixed according to the package directions), squirt enough dye in areas to saturate but not soak the areas. Notice the finger stained hands. We made the girls strip down to undies so no clothes were harmed in the process. Despite Anna’s clear lack of enthusiasm, she actually really liked making her shirt.


Once the dye is on, wrap the shirt in plastic wrap. Let it marinate for 6-8 hours (the longer is sits, the brighter the colors).


Remove your shirts from the plastic wrap, rinse in cold water to remove as much excess dye as possible. Run it through the washing machine with light detergent, and then toss it in the dryer.  Now, marvel at your masterpieces!!


It’s amazing how different all the shirts ended up being. Luke’s was a striped pattern.


Anna went with the twirl!