Classy Winter Centerpiece

Everybody! I have put together a Pinterest-worthy centerpiece.

I didn’t bedazzle the whole table like a true Pinterest godness, but I’m OK with that. I mean, honestly, I’m sitting at the table eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch, not prime rib.


And it was easy. And cheap. I bought a red glitter cake stand from the Target dollar section and a plastic silver charger for $2.50. The candles and trees were on clearance at Joann’s for less than $5, and I had the rest of the stuff on hand. The goblets are my grandmother’s from her Avon collection, the jingle bells were in the kids’ craft box, the wagon was hanging on the tree, and I found the antelope in my son’s large collection of tiny animals.



I ditched the original top of the cake stand and drilled a hole in the charger instead. A little hot glue protects it from kids who can’t keep their hands off anything.



I seriously impressed myself with this centerpiece. Mediocrity is my usual benchmark.

Merry Christmas from The Lunch Hour Gardener!




Something New! Advent Printable Cards!

I wanted to share a little something that is going on behind the scenes! I’ve started another blog, affectionately titled Bad Mister Kitty!! My new site is just that – new, and not a replacement for this one. I will continue to post here also.

Bad Mister Kitty will be featuring original artwork, art and craft ideas, mandalas, Zentangle, coloring pages, and other printables.

You can connect with Bad Mister Kitty on Facebook and Twitter, too.

My platform is (a little) larger on The Lunch Hour Gardener, so I wanted to share my newest creation here to jump start a following on Bad Mister Kitty. I have created a free pack of 25 Advent cards to print and use during December that unravels the marvel and the mystery of Jesus leading up to His birth.


Go here to get the free printable cards and start your Advent journey with me on December 1st.

Print a set for everyone you know and share it, then join up with Bad Mister Kitty in whichever way suits you best.

There’s also a pretty cool Zentangle turkey over there to print and color.


Send a comment and let me know how you plan to use the Advent Cards this Christmas season.

Christmas Blessings,

The Lunch Hour Gardener ~~ Also Known As Bad Mister Kitty


Collaborative Art Projects for Kids


I’m sure there are a multitude of good reasons for collaborative art. Cooperation, sharing, encouragement, membership in the Mutual Admiration Society, etc.

All benefits aside, we do collaborative art in our house because my kids are unholy terrors and they fight about everything: new crayons, whose turn it is to use the red marker, a sliver of paper crossing the imaginary line between them, the “better” glue stick, and everything in between. It. is. ugly.

So we work on art together. For now, at least. I’m hoping they’ll chill out a little after they get the hang of working together.

Here is an assemblage of our favorite collaborative art projects. Click on the pictures to connect with the printables and the artists.

Mr. Printables Haunted House
Mr. Printables Christmas Tree
Mr. Printables Candy Land Heart
Hattifant’s Mandala Doodle Poster
Le Zebulon’s Klimt Tree of Life Collab
Krokotak’s Leaf Mosaic using Radial Symmetry
Frugal Fun 4 Boys’ M.C. Escher Lizard Tessellations

What are some of your favorite collaborative art projects?


Alligator Suitcase

Behold, a suitcase that’s an alligator, an alligator that’s a suitcase.


I have to laugh at myself sometimes. I walked into the thrift store earlier this fall and saw a gray, vintage toiletry suitcase. It was $2.99 and I had a pin on Pinterest begging me to try it. Why not, right?


I stripped the insides, painstakingly spray painted the outside, re-lined the inside, then painted on a happy alligator face. I thought it would be an easy little project, then laughed and laughed when the spray painting when on for days and I’d sunk about $20 into supplies.


I could pick out a pretty cool gift for my little guy for $23, but nothing as cool as an alligator suitcase. This gift has many hours of good fun built in. I should know; he played with the suitcase for half the afternoon the day I bought it.


I am quite pleased with the finished product. It is definitely the gift I’m most excited to give this year.

Reading Corner

Santa brought a wonderful gift for the kids this year: a reading corner. He and I have been secretly working together since summer to turn the idea into reality. It evolved a little from then till now, but it came together perfectly.

The best part? It only cost about $30, roughly half of that cost being paint.

Reading corner

How did I put it together for just $35?

The frame is a simple modification of this plan. It’s made of 2 X 4’s and 1 X 6’s we had on hand from previous projects. The paint for the frame cost $14, though I only used about half of it. It is very, very sturdy. I think our whole family could sit on it at once.

A crib mattress sits in the frame. All of our kids are out of the crib now, so we can start upcycling the pieces! The quilt over the mattress is a family heirloom, handed down from my grandmother. The mattress covering can be changed anytime.


There are 3 pillows on top of the mattress. A body pillow serves as a backrest, and there are 2 decorative pillows for added comfort. The body pillow has served quite a few needs over the years, but being part of the reading nook will certainly be the most fun use it’s had. The pink latch hook pillow was something my sister made in high school that has remained in the family for many years. The third pillow cost $4. It is made with a Hollie Hobbie embroidery on top and backed with a piece of denim recycled from an old dress.

The lamp is something my parents were going to throw out, but the style is perfect for the reading corner. The base tucks underneath, fitting into a tiny space, and the lamp lights with a pull string, making it easy for a child to turn on and off.


The letters on the wall are white MDF letters from Joanns. I used Mod Podge to affix pages of a book on top of them. Total cost for letters and book: $9.25.


The shelves are another piece of recycled decor. I switched up the hardware to essentially hang them upside down, the brackets creating book ends.

The books are all from thrift stores and garage sales and roughly cost about $3.


I was able to find an art piece to add to the reading nook after Christmas. It was $5 from the thrift store. It isn’t exactly what I was looking for, but it really brings the space together.

And there you have it. A reading nook for about $35.

I wasn’t sure if the kids would be excited, or if perhaps they expected to get a big toy from Santa. But they loved it. My oldest, the reader, has already spent many hours over the last couple of days in it, playing games on the Kindle, and of course reading.

I’m 100% positive it was many hours of brainstorming and assembly well spent.

Settled in – starting a book she got for Christmas. She finished the book the next day.
Room for two.
One more view, all pulled together in the daylight.

All in all, the reading corner is perfect, and I can see my kids using it for many years to come.