Between the holidays and posting occasionally to Instagram, I’ve been a bit of a Snapshot Saturday slacker.

To make up for it, here’s an ode to a few of the things that have been homemade, of the non-food variety, around here lately.

Homemade Ice Skating Rink: Brian’s baby, this is take two; his first attempt in Minnesota last year didn’t go quite as expected but this year has been an icy hit so far and we are amassing quite an arsenal of used ice skates so come on over.

Homemade Aprons: I wanted to make something homemade for each of the kids for Christmas. Aprons it was since the straight lines fit into my limited sewing ability. Cam, however, believes hers to be a princess dress (the ruffles maybe?) and won’t take it off.

Homemade Spooky Tree: My kids love the Berenstain Bears Spooky Old Tree book and this tree in our neighbors’ corral makes their real, life spooky tree dreams come to fruition. Truth: it’s cold here even though everyone swore up and down when we moved here that winter would be “no biggie.”

Homemade Polished Rocks: A fabulous find this year was the rock tumbler Walker scored for Christmas. We have been all amazed at the ugly, dirty rocks that go in and the lovely polished stones that come out (and these aren’t even done! three more weeks to go; let’s hope I don’t develop a nervous twitch from the rock tumbler going nonstop in the background).

50 Responses to Snapshot Saturday: Homemade

  1. Allison says:

    Ahh…the rocks! I didn’t get a rock polisher for my boys (yet?) but not all kids know what to do when my boys show them their rock treasures. They would totally get along with your boys! Sigh. Wishing that we could meet but I’m not going there (read: My kids still played outside yesterday with or without shoes/coats on and I can’t imagine the ice, but the ice rink looks cool!) Thanks for the look into your fun life! 🙂

  2. Alexis says:

    Oh, my daughter has a rock tumbler and I love/hate it! It is amazing but we live in a fairly small house and anywhere I plug that thing in I can hear it, at night I cover it with blankets but it still drives me crazy. 🙂 That is an amazing tree. Winter can be beautiful!!

  3. Thank you for sharing the info on the rock tumbler!! I have about 3 pounds of petrified wood I picked up down in Southern Utah and I would love to see what happens when they turn all nice and shiny!


  4. Michelle says:

    The Oh’s in the background are cracking me up! We have that tradition too. Our Christmas morning breakfast consisted of sugar cereal from Santa (what a treat!) and sushi that my husband couldn’t resist whipping up with my new kit! So funny.

  5. Tania Dowdle says:

    A lot of people in my town put up ice rinks in their backyards and put a “bumper” around the top. I’m sure you can purchase them pre-made but they pretty much look like cut in 1/2 (lengthwise) pool noodles that are then slotted over the top of the wooden edge – makes for softer “crash landings.”

  6. Mel says:

    This is from Brian: First and foremost…I am not an ice rink guru. But, here are a few tips that I think may help.
    1. Live somewhere cold. You will need 3-4 days of consecutive temps below 20 degrees (F) overnight for the ice to freeze up nice and solid.
    2. Choose a flat section for your rink. It doesn’t have to be perfectly flat, but if there is more than 3-5 inches of rise or slope, it will complicate things a bit. You will also want a space that is free of rocks, twigs, and anything else that might poke a hole in the liner.
    3. Use a sturdy frame and heavy white liner. I used 2×10 lumber for my frame and used a 6 mil 3 ply liner (I have no idea what that stands for…). You can buy the the plastic in various sizes online, at Home Depot, etc. I bought mine from because they have a variety of sizes.
    4. Fill with water and watch it freeze.

    There are a lot of good tips and videos online if you search “backyard ice rink” or something like that. The Iron Sleek web-site promotes a lot of their stuff, but also has some good tips as well. I hope that helps. Good luck if you try it!

  7. Susan says:

    Awww, love this picture of your daughter! She is precious! Thanks for sharing!
    We used to have a rock tumbler, it was so much fun! You aren’t kidding about the noise though. I love your site and all your recipes! I’m a much better cook thanks to you!

  8. Heidi says:

    I remember my brother’s having a rock tumbler…behind a door in the back of the part of our basement that was unfinished — my kids probably won’t get one until we have a house with a basement 🙂

  9. Amanda says:

    I grew up in Alaska and seeing that outdoor ice rink made me all nostalgic! For recess (which was only cancelled at -20) I would go out and ice skate every single day for months. Now we live in Phoenix, and I know everyone up north hates me but what I would love a real winter!

  10. jadell says:

    We bought the BluTrack from your suggestions, and we love it! Thanks for such a fun idea!
    I can’t get over how adorable your baby girl is!

  11. Kim in MD says:

    Wow…the ice rink is awesome! Way to go, Brian! I love homemade gifts. Camryn is adorable, and I love her apron! The rock tumbler sounds very cool. Who knew you could make those beautiful stones from dirty old rocks?

  12. Tiffany says:

    I forgot to mention that my husband put 2×4’s in each corner and one on each long side then strung lights around our rink. It makes night skating awesome and magical!

  13. Lynelle says:

    Hi Mel,
    So for the 5 thousandth comment about the ice rink…do you get above freezing temps, and if so, does it start to melt pretty quickly? Or can it withstand days here and there that go above? We live in St. Louis and my kiddos (6 boys and 1 girl :)) would love also. I love your recipes and all of the great bits and pieces you put in about your family. You help me with dinner many nights of the week! 🙂 Also, we have been loving 10 Days in the USA (would love to get Africa or Asia). Thank you so much!! 🙂 Hope your day is wonderful.

  14. Bonnie says:

    Hi Mel,
    i love your idea of the rock tumbler. It would make a great birthday gift for my grandson. He loves rocks and would find it a fascinating activity.
    Could you please tell me which tumbler you have?

  15. Mia says:

    I’ve said this before, but oh my gosh, CAM IS SO STINKING CUTE!

  16. Heather says:

    That rink is awesome. It’s cold here in PA but not that cold. My son plays hockey and would die for this! He’s really jealous. That is awesome!

  17. Heather says:

    We bought a rock tumbler for our daughter and she loves it. Where did you find such a cool variety of stones to polish? Did you purchase them, or did he just use rocks from his collection?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Heather – I bought a little package of polishing stones on amazon. I think they were about $10 for 50-80 rocks. Our rock tumbler said agates were the best to start with. He’s also polishing rocks from his collection and our driveway, too. 🙂

  18. Sharon says:

    The ice rink in the backyard makes me homesick. My Dad made one for us quite a few years in a row. Loved it – and it looks like your family/friends are enjoying it too.

    I wanted to make aprons for my girls for Christmas, but I was too lazy – opted for buying canvas ones they could paint/decorate. Maybe some day I’ll get around to making them cute ones like the one Cam is wearing.

    Love your blog . . . and all the yummy food! happy new year!

  19. Mel says:

    For everyone who asked about the ice skating rink – Brian’s going to jump on tonight to provide a few details. It was SO much easier this year because he used a large plastic liner (that can be reused year after year). He’ll give some info (because clearly I wasn’t a whole lot of help; it was his baby).

  20. Jen T says:

    Coolest ice skating rink ever! Love the aprons! Love your snapshot Saturdays!

  21. Ashlee t says:

    Love this!! A rink is an awesome idea! Your Cam is getting so big! Her hair is so long! Love that you made aprons for them. I’m the same way- straight easy quick sewing is best

  22. heather says:

    A rock tumbler was on our short list for a gift this year — price was the final factor. Please let us know which one you purchased!!

    • Mel says:

      Hey Heather – I hear you on price. We really debated it but ended up going with this one. Before you die of sticker shock, I have to say I was dismayed when I just checked it on amazon again and it had jumped $70 (It was right around $99 when we purchased it). After having it for a few weeks, I can definitely say we didn’t need one with a double tumbler. One would be plenty with the amount of rocks we are tumbling but as far as how it works, we are very happy with it!

  23. Charlotte Moore says:

    Oh what fun!! Your kiddos will always have fond memories of all the things you did together. Love the sweet smile and cute apron on the little Princess Cam. So cute!!!

    Thanks for sharing!!!!

  24. KB says:

    The first thing I thought upon seeing the rocks and reading about the home rock tumbler was “I hope she’s running that thing in the garage.”

    • Mel says:

      I would but our garage is really, really cold and the instructions say not to keep it in cold temperatures. So I dream of things tumbling around like a big stack of dirty laundry – it’s invaded my subconscious. 🙂

  25. Monique says:

    Your little girl has the sweetest little face!
    My husband always made a rink too for our girls when they were young..

  26. k says:

    I need to know how he made that rink! We moved from the desert to the Midwest and my kids LOVE ice skating now, but 5 kiddos plus us adds up! And, it’s only open on the weekends for a couple of hours. We have all the space to do it, but not the know-how. Please, please share!

    Also, I love your site so much! Half of next week’s recipes are from here and I used your gift ideas this year (Magformers were the biggest hit! Spot It was another. And the Pocket Genius book! Gosh, Christmas was awesome because of you ).

    • heather says:

      I also purchased one of Mel’s gift ideas, the Sleeping Queens card game. We switched up the rules and play until all queens are gone to see who wins, but the game is a HIT. I mean, really, what kid doesn’t like dragons, knights, queens and potions? Add in the math factor (pun intended) as you can get rid of cards by adding them together and it is a winner all around. Thanks bunches!!

  27. Tiffany says:

    My husband built us an ice rink just like that this year. It actually makes you look forward to freezing temperatures so it stays frozen, highly recommend!!

  28. debora cadene says:

    What sort of rock tumbler do you have? Do you think I could put pieces of broken glass into it to round out the edges a bit?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Debora – I just left the details of the rock tumbler below your comment a bit if you want to check out the link (responded to Heather). I’m not sure how glass would do – the tumblers the rocks spin in are rubber and I wonder if the glass would cut them up. You could check with the manufacturer to be sure.

  29. Alicia says:

    That ice skating rink is awesome!!! How did he do that?

  30. Becky Ruths says:

    Love this post 😉
    A couple things: this is the most extreme winter Idaho has had in a long time…. if we could get rid of the inversion, it would get better, but that’s not happening until the next big storm comes through, and sadly, they are kinda rare.
    second: try the rock tumbler in the garage. That’s where mine stayed as a kid, and it was fine 🙂
    Third: I’m a third generation Idaho native, and I still think you are (now that you have heat!) Having one of the best winters in Idaho history! Way to be the bestest Mommy (and Daddy)! How much fun are you guys!

    • Mel says:

      Oh, the inversion is awful! I’m hating that. We actually don’t mind the cold overall, especially coming from Minnesota – if it’s cold, we might as well have snow so I’m glad it’s stayed for a while!

  31. Stacey says:

    How cool….all of it! Kudos to Brian on the skating rink. That is seriously awesome. Would you mind sharing the brand of the rock tumbler? That would be right up my boys’ alley!

  32. Hilary says:

    Soo fun!! I did the same “homemade gift” thing at Christmas as well- I made my sons and husband hold/cold packs filled with rice (a hit!! They typically warm them up before bedtime and snuggle with them on these freezing Minnesota nights) and for my daughter, I made a rag quilt. I LOVE your Saturday posts as well as your “favorites”…and of course your recipes can’t be beat! Thank you Soo much!

  33. Trish says:

    Maybe Brian can share his recipe for a successful iceskating rink? My girls tried iceskating for the first time this year, loved it, and have asked to go every weekend since. My husband mentioned attempting to make our own, but I was skeptical. His looks awesome! So it can be done!!!

  34. Elisabeth says:

    What lovely pictures!! How much Cam has grown!! Love her charming smile, baby in her lap, wearing the princess apron. And all the kids out skating…life is good 🙂

  35. Cheryl says:

    Okay, I’m laughing because Santa brings us Oh’s cereal, too…a whole pyramid, because I have 6 kids. That way, no one fights over it, and it’s the only time of year it’s in my house–so I don’t eat it too much and scratch up my whole mouth. It’s so good, though.

    • Mel says:

      You are a true Oh’s eater (we only have it on Christmas morning, too) if you know about the mouth scratching thing! 🙂

      • Jessica says:

        Santa brings everyone their favorite cereal for Christmas morning since the hunger sets in before breakfast is actually done….I get ohs every year. 🙂

  36. Helen says:

    i think you have mastered the art of making wonderful memories!!! As always, you inspire me

  37. Sheila says:

    What a wonderful, interesting, fun post! Beautiful, little Cam has grown bunches since I last saw her picture. We love rock tumblers and the polished rocks they produce. Lots of homemade necklaces and bracelets should be coming forth from your home soon. I hate the cold BUT the ice rink picture makes me want to re-think this emotional response to the cold. 🙂 Great idea! And that apron does look to be princess quality. Thank you bunches for sharing! Wonderful start to a Saturday morning — a heartwarming post that brings forth a smile.

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