3 Year Old Boy Gift Guide

3 year old boy gift guide from Sweet Maple Lane

I can’t believe it’s December!  Are you looking for gift ideas?  I put together a gift guide for 3 year old boys (aka my son’s wish list) for anyone out there shopping for a little boy this Christmas!

Affiliate links are included for your convenience.  This means I may earn a small amount if you purchase something through one of my links.  Of course, I only recommend things I do/would use myself. Thanks for supporting my blog! Read my full disclosure here.

Take-A-Part Truck

This truck comes with tools to take it apart and put it back together.  My son is very into trucks and tools, so this is perfect!

Fire Station Set

Even better than regular trucks are fire trucks!  This cute set comes with the fire station, the fire truck, and accessories.

Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs are also super popular at my house.  This set comes with 12 different dinosaurs and a book with information about each one.

Dinotrux

Dinos + trucks = Dinotrux!  This is Ty Rux from the Netflix show.  My son just got this for his birthday and loves it!

Tool Belt

My son also got a tool belt like this one for his birthday.  Once he opened it he refused to open the rest of his presents and only wanted to play with this!

Rescue Bots

I think I’ve seen every episode of this show 34,000 times.  And I permanently have the theme song stuck in my head on repeat.  But if there’s anything my son loves more than trucks, tools, and dinosaurs combined, it’s Rescue Bots.  This one is Heatwave (my son’s favorite), the fireman-robot-transformer-alien.

Firefighter Costume

For pretending to be Heatwave.

Train Table and Set

This train table looks super fun, and comes with the train set and built in storage too!

Reusable Sticker Book

We have two of these, and my kids love them.

Play Broom Set

For kids who are always asking to help clean up.  Encourage this behavior by buying them this broom set!

Play Doh

3 year olds love Play Doh, and this set has so many colors!

Tricycle

This adorable trike is the perfect first “bike” for a 3 year old.

Sports Balls

Soccer ball, basketball, football, and baseball.  These are foam, too, so safer for inside the house.

I hope you found something for the 3 year old on your list!  Happy shopping!

DIY Birthday Shirt Tutorial

DIY birthday shirt tutorial from Sweet Maple Lane

Hi friends!  My two little pumpkins turn 3 today!  We had a birthday party for them Saturday, and I made them some special birthday shirts to wear.  If you have a little one with a birthday coming up, these shirts are super cheap, super easy, and super adorable!

DIY birthday shirt tutorial from Sweet Maple Lane

DIY Birthday Shirt Tutorial

Affiliate links are included for your convenience.  Read my full disclosure here.

Materials

DIY birthday shirt tutorial from Sweet Maple Lane

Plain white or colored shirt ($3.88 at Walmart, or free if you have one already)

Small piece (6″x 8″) of fabric in a fun print ($4.92 at Walmart, with a lot left over)

Number outline (free, just google “number outline” and print)

Heat ‘n’ Bond iron-on adhesive ($5.30 from Amazon, with a lot left over)

Iron, scissors, pencil

Procedure

Following the directions for the Heat ‘n’ Bond, cut a piece about the same size as your number and iron to your shirt, paper side up.  One sheet of this Heat ‘n’ Bond product will last 6-8 projects, depending on the size of your shape.

DIY birthday shirt tutorial from Sweet Maple Lane

Cut out the number outline, trace onto fabric in pencil, and cut out the number in fabric.  You can see above that I traced onto to the back, so I flipped the number so it would be right when I cut it out.  You could do this or just trace onto the front.

DIY birthday shirt tutorial from Sweet Maple Lane

 

Peel the paper off, stick number to shirt, and iron to adhere the number to the shirt.  I did put a piece of cardboard in between the two layers of the shirt, just to be safe.  The Heat ‘n’ Bond directions do not say this is necessary.

DIY birthday shirt tutorial from Sweet Maple Lane

That’s it!  So easy, no sewing or fancy craft maneuvers necessary.  As you can see from the picture, I made one for each of my kids.  They looked adorable at their birthday party rocking these cute shirts!

This technique is so versatile, you could easily customize the fabric and shape for any holiday or special occasion.  Pumpkins for Halloween, turkeys for Thanksgiving, reindeer for Christmas, the possibilities are endless!  I have a Christmas design in mind that I’ll be sure to share with you as soon as it’s done!

Do you have any birthdays coming up?  Let me know if you try out this technique!

How to Save Money on Holiday Clothes for Kids

Find out how to save money on holiday clothes for kids at sweetmaplelane.com!

We all know kids clothes are expensive.  They grow so fast it seems like every season they need a whole new wardrobe! Around the holidays especially, it can really pinch financially, because we’re budgeting for entertaining and gifts on top of the expense of fancy clothes for holiday dinners, parties, church, etc.

What if I told you you could get those adorable Carter’s party dresses for your daughter or cute plaid button downs and sweaters for your son for a fraction of the price?  This tip will make it happen, my friends!

How to Save Money on Holiday Clothes for Kids

Shop second hand.

No, seriously.  It sounds so simple, and it is, but it works!  Especially for holiday clothes.  Think about it.  How many times does a child wear that adorable 40 dollar party dress?  Once? Twice? Then, next year, it’s too small!  These too small dresses end up in second hand stores both locally and online.  And you can get them for 75-90% off!  My daughter’s Carters Christmas dress last year cost 5 dollars. My son wore a Ralph Lauren button down that was $3.50 and a Gap sweater vest that I scored for 4 bucks.  They both looked adorable and I got to spend more money on Peppermint Mochas from Starbucks Christmas gifts.

Ok, so where to look?

Locally

We’re lucky in my area because there are some great second hand baby/kid stores.  There are two that I frequent in the next town over, and another one a little further away.  These types of stores are amazing, because they carry clothes, toys, gear (strollers, high chairs, etc.), and you can bring your own stuff to get cash or store credit.

In addition to these types of second hand stores, most areas have Salvation Army or other regular thrift stores.  You’ll have to dig a little at a place like this, but there are still fantastic deals to be had!

Online

Did you know you can also shop second hand right from your smartphone or computer?  ThredUp (referral link) is a second hand clothing website that I have found a ton of great stuff on.  You can search by size, gender, brand, and type of clothing, and they have baby, child, and adult sizes!  And, you can request a bag to send in clothes you or your kids no longer wear, and get credit to use to buy new stuff!  If you sign up through my link, you’ll get a $10 credit, and I’ll get $10 to spend too! (Valid for new customers only.)

Right now I’m checking my local second hand stores and ThredUp for holiday styles for my kids, and you should be too!  Do you shop second hand?  Tell me about the awesome deals you scored in the comments!

 

What You Need to Host Thanksgiving

Sweet Maple Lane shares kitchen necessities for hosting Thanksgiving dinner

What do you need to host Thanksgiving dinner?  Well really, all you need is a meal, people to share it with, and a grateful heart.  After all, it’s a holiday about being thankful for what you have, not about feeling pressure to throw a perfect party.

But, if you are hosting for the first time, you may be wondering what you need, or what is good to have to cook this fancy meal.  Or maybe you’ve hosted before, but are in the market for some fresh Thanksgiving kitchen supplies.  If so, read on, friends!

We’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, so I’ve been thinking about the menu and planning all the details.  This will only be the second time we’ve hosted at our house.  Last time we hosted we were newly married and had just moved in.  We had almost nothing from this list, but thankfully my mom brought all of her stuff.

Let’s just say things have changed quite a bit around here!  At this year’s Thanksgiving there will be five toddlers (3 and under!) running around in addition to twelve adults.  I have more of the items below, but still not everything.  My mom still brings her turkey roasting pan and huge casserole dish for green bean casserole (we love us some green bean casserole!).

So if you’re curious about what you ‘need’ to host Thanksgiving, I’ve compiled a list of necessities.

Affiliate links are included for your convenience.  Read my full disclosure here.

Gravy Boat

gravy boat

If you’re making turkey, you need gravy.  If you’re making gravy, you need something to serve it in!  Gravy boats are super affordable and bring a little touch of fancy to your table.  (Look at me, I’m fancy enough to own a gravy boat!)  I like white for dishes and serving ware, but you could go bold with a fun color or pattern if that’s your thing!

Roasting Pan with Rack

roasting pan

This is an absolute must if you’re cooking a large turkey.  This pan is also great for roast chicken, which I do fairly regularly around here.

Meat Forks

meat fork

If you’re cooking a large turkey you’ll need assistance lifting it out of the pan.  I still remember one Thanksgiving when I was a kid my dad trying to use a wooden spoon to lift the turkey, and breaking the spoon right in half! Meat forks like these are on my wish list.  Or, get both the pan and meat forks together in this Calphalon set.

Turkey Baster

turkey baster

Use a turkey baster to prevent a dry turkey.  This stainless steel one is a nice upgrade from plastic!

Turkey Platter

turkey platter

A fancy dinner deserves a fancy platter to serve your turkey on!  I like the traditional ones with the image of a turkey on them.

Drink Dispenser 

drink dispenser

This drink dispenser is the best.  I got it to serve punch at my wedding, and have used it for nearly every major holiday, birthday, or celebration since.  It’s big enough that you don’t have keep refilling it, it has a built in center tube for ice to keep your punch cold, and it comes with a stand that lifts the spigot above your glass for easy filling.  This Thanksgiving mine will be filled with sparkling cranberry punch!

Pie Plates

pie plates

Pie is the traditional Thanksgiving dessert, so pie plates are a must.  These come in packs of two so you can make a couple different varieties!

Serving Bowls

serving bowl

You’ll need pretty serving bowls for all those yummy side dishes.  I love these Pioneer Woman serving bowls.  Everything in her line is so cute!

Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year?  What are your kitchen must haves for a successful dinner?

 

Christmas Pillow Cover Roundup

Since my Fall Pillow Cover Roundup was so popular, I’ve put together a Christmas pillow cover roundup for you, my lovely readers!  Decorating for the holidays has always been one of my favorite parts of the season, and pillow covers, people, are awesome because you buy the inserts once and switch out the covers when you want to change your decor.  Also, storing the flat covers takes up much less space than storing big, fluffy throw pillows.  And, they’re easier to wash!  Pillow covers for the win!

Most of my decor is neutral, and at Christmas time I love to add splashes of red.  I found some super cute holiday pillow covers for you in reds and neutrals, plus they’re all really affordable.  Any of these are sure to bring a little Christmas cheer to your home!

Christmas Pillow Cover Roundup from Sweet Maple Lane

 

Affiliate links are included for your convenience.  Read my full disclosure here.

1st row: red & white checks, baby it’s cold outside, red car with tree

2nd row: burlap deer, red moose, white christmas,

3rd row: red snowflake, burlap merry christmas, let it snow

Are you thinking about your holiday decorating yet?  Let me know in the comments!

Fall Books for Toddlers

Fall books for toddlers roundup from Sweet Maple Lane

It’s officially fall!  Fall is my favorite season: the clothes, the food, the decorating, I love it all!  And nowhere is fall more magical than here in New England.  We’ve been reading a lot of fall-themed books around here, so I thought I’d share some of my favorites for toddlers.  Grab a cozy blanket and some warm apple cider and curl up with the little ones in your life with these fall books for toddlers.

Affiliate links are included below.  Read my full disclosure here.

 

old-lady-who-swallowed-some-leaves

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves

An autumn version of There Was and Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.

 

fletcher-and-the-falling-leaves

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves

Fletcher the fox learns about fall and winter in this sweet book.

 

fall-mixed-up

Fall Mixed Up

Everything is mixed up in this silly fall book.

 

going-on-a-leaf-hunt

We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt

A fall version of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.

 

biggest-pumpkin-surprise-ever

The Biggest Pumpkin Surprise Ever

A lift-the-flap style version of The Biggest Pumpkin Ever.

 

i-love-fall

I Love Fall!

A touch and feel board book.

 

duck-and-goose-find-a-pumpkin

Duck & Goose Find a Pumpkin

Little ones will love to go along on a search for Duck and Goose’s pumpkin!

 

mouses-first-fall

Mouse’s First Fall

Little Mouse learns all about what makes the fall season special.

 

busy-little-squirrel

The Busy Little Squirrel

Squirrel spends the fall season getting ready for winter.

 

Pin the image below to save these ideas for later:

Fall books for toddlers roundup from Sweet Maple Lane

My kids have a fall birthday, so a few of these are definitely going on my list! What are your favorite fall books for toddlers?

Meal Planning 101

Meal planning 101 at sweetmaplelane.com

Hi friends!  I’ve been back at school for a few weeks now, and I’m feeling a little more settled into our routine here at home.  The transition from summer to school in the fall can be hard, but I’ve found one thing that helps me stay organized and keep my sanity: meal planning!  Just a small time investment on Saturday morning and I’m planned and ready to roll for the week.

Here is how I do it:

Early Saturday Morning

Plan: While the kids are drinking milk and watching cartoons, I sit down with my coffee and computer and plan what we’re having for dinners for the week.  I jump on Pinterest to look up recipes and ideas, and I make a list for the next 7 days (Saturday to Friday).  I check the calendar to see if we’re out or having company any night during the week, and plan accordingly.  I like to cook a bigger meal on Saturday or Sunday and keep it easy during the week.  Friday night we always do frozen pizza and whatever veggies we have left from the week.

List: Once I’ve planned dinners for the week, I make a list of all the ingredients I need for those plus lunch and breakfast stuff. The kids eat at daycare and my husband and I usually pack sandwiches, yogurt, fruit, pretzels, or leftovers.  I make sure to check in the fridge and cupboards to see if we have the ingredients we need or if we’re running out of something.

Later Saturday Morning

I take my list, my reusable bags, and two toddlers to the grocery store for our weekly shopping.  I usually take the kids with me and give my husband an hour to be kid-free.  The kids really enjoy it, and our grocery store has free cookies for kids, so they love that. We drive around the parking lot of our local Hannaford looking for the two-seater cart that looks like a car (complete with steering wheels) and glare at any parents using it for ONE kid (moms of multiples, you feel me?)  No seriously, though, I can’t grocery shop without that cart, so I sometimes have to wait in the parking lot until one becomes available.  Ok, so I shop, use my list, and am in and out and home in record time.

The Rest of the Week

During the week, I come home with the kids around 3:30 or 4, relax for a bit, and then throw together whatever dinner I have planned.  Then we eat together when my husband gets home from practice around 5:30.  Ok, in all honesty, often my husband and I eat together while the kids play and run and scream as toddlers do.  Kids, you know?

Menu Board

Menu board

I had this chalkboard that I picked up at Michael’s with a coupon a few years back, and right before school started I decided to turn it on it’s side and hang it in the kitchen.  Now I use it as a menu board so I don’t forget what we’re having for dinner.  You can see last week’s dinners below:

FREE Grocery List Printable

I whipped up this grocery list printable to make your meal planning and grocery shopping just a little bit easier (and prettier too).  Just click below to download the free printable!

Free grocery list printable from Sweet Maple Lane

Click HERE to download my grocery list printable for free!

Farmhouse Enamelware Roundup

Hi friends!  We’re officially back to school here at Sweet Maple Lane, and are starting to settle into a new routine.  I’m missing those lazy days of summer for sure!  I’m excited to share a farmhouse enamelware roundup with you today!

If you saw my recent hutch reveal, you know that I now have a beautiful new hutch to decorate for the seasons.  Yay! I love to change out my decor for each season, but it’s also nice to have some neutral pieces that you can use all year.  One thing that I’ve been looking at recently is white enamelware.  Nothing says farmhouse like white enamelware!  It’s simple and neutral, can stay on your shelf all year, and go with any season.  I thought I’d share some of the pieces I’ve been looking at, in case you’re looking for some too!

Affiliate links are provided for your convenience.  Read my full disclaimer here.

enamelware-roundup-pinnable

Bread Box

Coffee, Tea, Sugar Canisters 

Bowl

Colander

Bowl with Lid

Pitcher

Any of these would look fabulous and bring a little farmhouse style to your kitchen, shelf, or hutch.  Happy decorating!

 

How I Organize Mail

Hi friends!  Sweet Maple Lane is officially back to school, which means our schedules are busy, busy, busy!  Open house, practice, daycare, cross-country meets, you name it.  I’m always looking for any way to streamline things and make life run a little more smoothly.  One thing I always struggle to organize is the mail and papers in general.  It just seems to pile up so quickly!  I’ve just implemented a new mail organizing system on the hutch (see this post for reveal pictures!) and so far it has been working great!

Affiliate links are provided in this post for your convenience.  Read my full disclosure here.

I use three baskets to organize the mail:

Hutch reveal by Sweet Maple Lane

  1. In Box: Incoming mail that needs to be opened.  When I get the mail I immediately recycle junk or things I don’t want, and put the real mail that needs to be opened in this basket.  I’m usually walking in the door with two cranky toddlers who immediately need a snack, drink, potty, snuggle, you name it.  This gives me a place to put it if I can’t open the mail right away.
  2. To Do: This is where I put bills to be paid, forms to be filled out, or other things that need attention.  Again, I can’t always do things all at once.  I may have time to open the mail, but not time to write checks or fill out forms or whatever, so I put the things I need to take care of in this basket to get to when I can.
  3. Out Box: This is where I put mail to go out, bills to send, or paper that has to go back to school or daycare or whatever. This way I can just grab the mail that’s ready to go on my way out the door.

I used baskets and labels I already had, but if you’re looking for something similar I’d suggest these baskets and these labels.

This system, while simple, has been working great.  I’ve also organize the small drawers in the hutch with general office supplies, envelopes, stamps, etc, so that I have what I need right where I need it.  If you’re looking for a way to organize your paper clutter, try this three basket system and see how it works for you!

Pin the image below to save it for later!

How to organize mail by Sweet Maple Lane

Hutch Reveal

I’ve been wanting a hutch for this spot since we bought this house 5 years ago, and I finally found one! I recently scored this solid wood hutch on a local Facebook yard sale group (do you have these in your town too?) and have been eager to show you how I transformed it!

Here is what it looked like before:

Hutch reveal by Sweet Maple Lane

Great lines, solidly built, but not my style with the dark wood.  I painted it with chalk paint (tutorial coming soon!) and now I am oh so in love with it!  Isn’t she pretty!

Painted hutch reveal from Sweet Maple Lane

The white transforms it into the perfect farmhouse piece.  And look how pretty these oil rubbed bronze pulls are!  I told my husband they were my dream hardware and he looked at me like I was nuts!  “How can someone have dream hardware?” he said.  I don’t know, but these are mine!  There is just something so farmhouse country about white painted wood with oil rubbed bronze hardware.

I decorated for fall already–I know, it’s still technically summer–but I’m going back to school in a few days and I wanted to switch everything out before my schedule got busy.

Hutch reveal by Sweet Maple Lane

I love having a place to decorate and display all of my seasonal decor.

Hutch reveal by Sweet Maple Lane

I also set up some baskets to organize the paper clutter.  I’ll be writing a post about how I organize our paper clutter soon, but for now, just look how pretty these baskets look with the little chalkboard labels!

Hutch reveal by Sweet Maple Lane

 

I love how the hutch finishes off my dining room space a bit, and I’m loving decorating for fall!  Happy fall ya’ll!

Pin the image below to save it for later!

White painted hutch decorated for fall from Sweet Maple Lane!