Hi friends! Just wanted to write a quick post to let you know that I'm taking time off from blogging (as you may have noticed...since I haven't posted anything since...November...2013!) I was thrown a curve ball over the past year and I'm reorganizing and re-prioritizing life. Haven't quite figured out where this blogging thing falls. If you have a question or comment about another post, please feel free to contact me. I'll still get back to you if I get an email or comment from you.
Thanks! Hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas!
Last weekend I showcased my Personalized Gifts & Decor at an open house, and it was a great success! Thank you to my pal Kelly for hosting, and to my mom and sister for being there too. Julie (my lil sis!) even had a table of her own bag collections for sale. I'll be featuring her in a post soon!
It was a holiday weekend, so I know a lot of people were away. If you missed it or need to take another look, I will have open studio hours this Friday and Saturday from 9-1. (By "studio" I mean my dining room.) If you're local, feel free to stop by and look through this season's items - lots of gift ideas for everyone on your list!
Here are pics from the show...
See anything you like? Don't forget to stop by my studio later this week. You can always contact me with questions or orders as well. Thanks! I'm off to create lots of custom items for some of my favorite people!
What's more classic than the silhouette of a child? I figured out how to make my own with my Silhouette Cameo, and decided that both Grandmothers needed a set of grandkid silhouettes. The key is a good picture on a light background so it's easy to trace around. So I had each of them stand in front of the closed blinds. It probably would have been even better on a solid white backdrop set up with appropriate lighting, but "ain't nobody got time for that!"
In the Silhouette software, there is a Trace Tool. But I found it not to work as well for a photo. So I zoomed way in and used the draw tool, and went point by point around the edges until it was completely traced. This takes some time, especially if you have lots of details, like curls. You can totally "cheat" too - if someone's hair is messed up or you need a space between the ponytail and the neck (like on Girly's.) Once the silhouette is traced, you can use fill color to make it black (or any other color) if you just want to print it on paper. Or you can have the Silhouette Cameo cut it out on whatever color vinyl you have - I went with classic black.
My first set I did on little plexiglass squares that I drilled a hole in to make it an ornament. They were a big hit, and I'm pretty sure these ornaments are up year round at Nana's house.
For Mother's Day, I made a set for my mom. I found these cute plates at Walmart and just stuck the vinyl silhouette right on there.
It makes a great personalized gift that also captures the sweet profile of a child. I've also seen silhouettes of pets too, but I'm not sure I could get my four legged friend to sit still for a photo shoot! These are also available in my Shop - I just need a good profile picture on a white background. If you can get your pet to sit still, I'll do them too!
Lately, I've been playing carpenter. Board and batten in the mudroom. Mr. Helpful and I built a headboard. I built a new top for our ottoman. And I made this huge wood plank sign for a friend. If this keeps up, I'm going to have to give up my side of the garage for a workshop!
This sign is my biggest yet at 4 ft long by about 18" high. But when you've got a verse so crucial to everyday life, bigger is better.
The Bear loves horses. In fact, 80% of the time, she's pretending she is a horse. So naturally, she wanted a horse themed party for her 5th birthday. (Oh my word, my baby is 5!!) After researching horse parties on Pinterest, I had a plan. Ten 4-5 year olds. An hour and a half on a Saturday morning. Simple. Fun. Short.
The kids were divided into three groups and sent to one of three stations: horse coloring pages, making a hobby horse, and a blue ribbon craft. The Bear just floated in between each station, since she thought she should be a "helper" at her party. Bud managed the coloring pages, which I just printed off from various free online coloring page sites (also found on Pinterest.) I manned the glue gun and did the hobby horses. Here is the source of my inspiration for noodle hobby horses, complete with a tutorial (so I won't reinvent the wheel.) And this is our version...with a few minor alterations.
Pool noodles were from the dollar store, and each horse used one 8x10-ish piece of felt. I had the eyes and yarn. So all in all, this craft was very affordable! It helped to have all the pieces already cut out and ready to be hot glued onto the noodle. Felt can be hard to cut with kid-friendly scissors. The kids loved their horses, and as we assembled them, we talked about horses and named each of them. Some names were Scarlet, Ruth, Miriam, and - my favorite - Noodle. Super cute!
Girly and my mom (the ultimate former-kindergarten teacher) ran the ribbon craft. Here's how they were made.
Baking cups. I found these at Party City in a package with red and white cups too - in the patriotic party section. But you can also order only blue from Amazon, which I would have done if I had planned more in advance. You'd think I could do that, as a former event planner, but it was birthday marathon week (Bud turned 9 the same week, and had a sleepover party), so I was still running around the day before the party. I designed and cut out the pieces from cardstock using my Silhouette Cameo, which made it super easy and saved time cutting. Here are a few pics of the process...
After you stick the back circle on, the front looks a bit wrinkled.
But just use your fingers to gently smooth it out like this.
Before the glue dries, gently stick your paperclip in the back. This way, you can hang it on your horse.
You can use any kind of shape or color for the front. You could have "#1", or "Best in Show" written on there - anything goes. Just glue the pieces on and try to keep things centered.
Next just glue the two ribbon tails together and to the back.
And hang it on your horse!
Here are some more pics of the party set up. This is our entryway dresser. I used raffia for hey. And that is a cheap charger plate spray painted with chalkboard paint. Chalk art courtesy of Mr. Helpful. The red bowl is filled with horseshoes which you'll see up close in a second.
Apples and carrots for the horses. And cupcakes of course! For drinks, we had juice pouches and lemonade. Simple simple simple!
As our party guests left, they got one of these horseshoes I got for free from a local ferrier (which is the person who shoes horses - learn something new every day!) Mr. Helpful scrubbed them clean, and I made these tags in my Silhouette software.
Party success! And a happy birthday girl!
Kids birthday parties. Lots of fun. But honestly, getting a present for one of my kids - especially my son - to bring to a friend's birthday party stresses me out. Maybe because I feel like these kids have everything already. Maybe because I feel like my choices in the store are...well...crap. In my opinion the only toy worth anything anymore are the tried and true Legos. But the sets that these 9 and 10 year olds would want cost a pretty penny that I don't have to spend on gifts. And most of my son's friends are as
obsessed with interested in Legos as he is, so they have plenty.
Second to Legos for Bud is building forts with the couch cushions and every other blessed pillow, blanket, and sheet he can find. So when I saw DIY Fort Kits on Pinterest, I thought I'd give it a try. How nice would it be if his forts were made with sheets meant for forts? And, when he's done, they all go back into a pillowcase bag. I really don't care if they're folded or not!
And, what a great birthday gift!
Trying to be thrifty, I stopped by Good Will and hit the jackpot. Two twin flat sheets and a pillowcase. All for under $5. At Walmart I found some clothespins, clothesline rope, and a flashlight also under $5. I did spring for bungie cords ($5) to round out the kit. I found a little white pouch in my stash to hold the clothespins. The rope ends would fray, so I burned the ends a little with a lighter I use for ribbon. I washed the sheets and pillowcase, which would be the "bag". Then I cut strips from old white tshirt for ties and sewed them around the edges of the sheets. I put a little drawstring around the opening of the pillowcase. To finish I made a little tag and laminated it. Boom. Done. For under $15.
If Bud is invited to your son's birthday, I've just spoiled the surprise of his gift. I may even do a girly version for the girls!
I'm not a huge fan of Valentine's Day. I'll just put that out there. We (should) show love to others every day. Right? But the kids still have Valentine's parties at school and exchange cards/candy with their classmates. This morning, I led groups of 3rd graders in this craft:
Most kids chose to do the mustache. Interesting. Mustaches are "in" apparently. We also did a version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Only it was Put the Lips on Mrs. Valentine. Silliness! They loved it, and should be on a nice sugar high when they come off the bus today.
The Bear only has 5 other kids in her sweet preschool class. So we got each of them a little red bucket from the dollar spot at Target and filled it with treats. Of course, I put each child's name on the bucket with my fabulous Silhouette.
And, since it's taken me all day to actually finish this post, due to countless interruptions, I can confirm the after-school sugar high. And now we wait for the crash! Happy Valentine's Day ya'll!
Our mudroom project is finished. Finally! Well, finished for now anyway. Is anything ever really finished? If you want to catch up on the progress from the beginning, check out this post and this one too. My last big step was caulking. There were lots of cracks and spaces because our walls are not straight. So despite Mr. Helpful's precise miter cuts, even the corners needed some attention.
The beauty of caulk is that you can go from this:
Not sure why my pics didn't turn out well - there's not a ton of light in there. When I caulk I run a line with the caulk gun and then smooth it out with my finger. Not sure if that's how the pros do it, but it works for me. After filling all the cracks and spaces and using a ton of papertowels...
...here is the finished fully functional mudroom! Hooks up and paint supplies put away. That may or may not have taken longer for me to do than the project itself.
Still thinking of a shelf or ledge across the back...but then again, that's just one more surface to dust. Besides, it seems that we have a problem keeping surfaces clear of junk in our house. Everywhere there is a table, desk, counter, shelf, etc. Things accumulate there. Always. I'd like to get a small bench or cute chair for our mudroom, but that's an eventual upgrade. For now, it works.
Now shoes go either in the little closet to the left in this picture, or in the basket next to the front door. Both places are out of reach from our fourth child...
...who looks like she'd never steal a shoe for attention and run laps around the couch until we have to barricade one side with chairs just so we can catch her and return the now slobbery shoe to its owner. Ha! Right.
Here's what happened this week in the mudroom! Remember before....
We sold this bench-shelf set, which will pay for the project! Love that! Out with the old, in with the board and batten! After doing The Bear's room, this small space should be easy, right?
Painting the wall first is a huge time saver!
We used 1x4 primed mdf this time. It was a bit less expensive than the pine. Mr. Helpful cut the boards and then I lined them up and painted them - also another time saver.
We figured out the measurements and placement of the boards and nailed them in. This is where we hit a bump in the road. Our walls are not straight. Go figure. Some parts bowed in, some bowed out. So we used polyseamseal on all the boards and nailed them in at angles to help keep them "flat" against the wall. It worked...for the most part.
The corners are all mitered. They fit pretty well, but there are spaces due to the swerviness of the walls. But that's what caulk is for.
Here's a board that just would not stay flat on the wall despite multiple nails and polyseamseal. Keeping the caulk industry in business!
Some people remove the existing baseboard to give it the true board and batten look, but we didn't. Instead, we mitered the bottom of each board so they angle into the top of the baseboard. It's such a small space you'd never really notice unless you get down on the floor like I did for this picture. (I don't recommend it - it is a mudroom, after all!)
Another snafu we had was that the boards bubbled a little when we nailed them in, leaving a slightly raised dot even after I filled the holes with woodfiller and sanded them down. This might be because we used mdf - I don't remember having this issue in The Bear's room, where we used pine.
My solution was to use grittier sandpaper and sand it down all the way to the bare board in those places. Then repaint several coats to cover it.
My next step is to caulk around each board and corner to fill in the cracks and give it a nice finished look. Then the hooks will go up. And I'm toying with the idea of putting some sort of ledge shelf on top...more on that next time.
We have a mudroom between the garage entry and the kitchen. Our pantry and a small closet are also in the mudroom. I am very thankful to have a mudroom - but it's just not working for us. I've long since drooled over mudrooms I've seen on Pinterest like these...
Our space is much smaller than these and so is our budget. So, here's where we are now.
Not bad. But not the best use of space. The small closet is to the left and I'm standing in the pantry to take this picture. The bench is never used as a seat because it's usually piled with stuff. The hooks on the shelf are not strong enough for third-grade backpacks. There are awkward dead spaces on either side of the bench. And we are always kicking the dog's water bowl, which usually sits in front of the bench. It's just not working.
We have a plan to make this space more functional for our family without breaking the bank. It's going to be great! Check back to see our progress!
Please come check out my handmade personalized gifts & decor at my open-house style home show this Friday, November 30 from 7-9:30! Contact me for details. Can't come on Friday and want to purchase something from the Shop? Contact me to place an order.
Thanks so much for your amazing support and encouragement!
Last weekend I launched my new Personalized Gifts & Decor business! One of my sweet friends hosted a home show open house for me, and it was a great success! Thanks to all who came to support me - your encouragement means a ton as put myself out there and go for it!
Here are some pics right before the show started. And - much to my surprise and delight - another sweet friend wants to host a show at the end of November!
If you missed my first show, contact me and I'll give you info on my next show on November 30th! Or, check out my Shop and contact me if you'd like to order something. Thanks again for the overwhelming support of this new adventure!
My dad recently turned 70. I wanted to get him something, but - and this is awful - I didn't want to spend any money. (I get that from my dad, by the way.) So I used what I had and made him a personalized sign for his workshop.
I had wood left over from my Family Coaster Tray project. I wanted to make a sign that looked old and a bit weathered. Did you know you can make your own wood stain with household items? Make yourself a pot of coffee. Save the coffee grounds and put them in a sealable container. I used a mason jar. (Isn't that what all the cool crafters use these days?) Add some vinegar (about 1 cup-ish) and put about half a pad of steel wool in too. Close it up and let it sit overnight. And yes, I got the DIY stain idea from Pinterest. (Coffee grounds aren't necessary, as I later was informed...but I think it gave it a darker look.)
Apply the stain with the steel wool, wiping off any coffee grounds. It's a stinky project, but the smell does go away after it dries for awhile. After a couple of coats, new wood looks like this.
My used my amazing Silhouette Cameo and cut out "Pop's Shop" and used the outline as a stencil.
Using watered down craft paint and a foam brush, I filled in the letters. The watered down paint allowed the wood grain to show through, giving it a nice weathered look.
Once dry, I unstuck the stencil and lightly sanded the board again to slightly remove some of the paint. I didn't want it to be shiny, so I skipped polyurethane. Maybe there's a sealer out there that wouldn't negate the aged wood look, but I don't know about it. It would be nice to have it sealed because the stain did come off on my hands a bit. But it was going to sit in Pop's Shop, not be handled much, so I didn't mind.
Dad loved it! Happy Birthday Pop!
After taking the summer off I am back in full swing...now that it's...umm.... October. Ok, so I took an extra long summer. I've been busy prepping for my very first "show" to introduce various gifts I make and new personalization services. I am the proud new owner of a Silhouette Cameo, which opens up huge possibilities! I also got a bunch of barn boards to play with!
So check out my new Shop page! My show is on November 4th - so exciting! If you're local and I have your email address, you probably got an evite, but if not, contact me for the info. If you're not local and you want to purchase something, you'll just need to pay for shipping - contact me to discuss an order.
Happy Friday ya'll! Have a great weekend!
You know when you go to a party, and you put your name on a plastic cup so you (and everyone else) knows whose cup is whose? Well, I need to do this in my house. My kids will easily fill up the top rack in the dishwasher in one day if I don't catch them and tell them to reuse their cups.
One of my latest projects solves this problem. And as usual, I found the idea on Pinterest and shamelessly copied it. It's a family coaster tray. And my first attempt at this project was for my BFF and her family.
Problem solved...that is...if they remember to use it! Definitely making one for my crew too!
The Bear came to me and told me she wanted her hair cut short. In fact, her exact words were, "If I don't get my hair cut short, everyone will laugh at me and think I'm a zombie." Oh to be in a 4-year-old's brain sometimes. I figured it would pass, but a week later, she had asked me a million times if we could go to the hair salon and get her hair cut short.
So one morning, after spending about 15 minutes attempting to untangle the long locks, and too many "ouch, Mommy stop!"s, I caved. Off we went. I may or may not have cried when the stylist made the first few cuts. Ok, I cried. Don't judge - she's my baby and her hair is so beautiful.
Here's the before and after.
Still adorable. The Bear is very proud of her new do. I'm recovering.
We have lived in our house for almost 2 years and have spent countless hours talking (dreaming) about things we want to do in our yard. Flowers, new garden beds, shrubs, trees, a sandbox, a firepit, patio, etc. The list is long and expensive. All we had was the "builder's grade" landscaping in the front, and even that was in dire need of new mulch and some TLC.
So we finally got started. Our side yard had nothing but grass. Our ugly foundation, stained with red clay (which is what we have instead of real dirt), was visible for all to see. A community walking path goes right along our yard. So this is what people had the pleasure of looking at along their way.
Not attractive. But with a little blood, sweat, and tears (well, ok, no tears) we prettied it up. We started by making a trench along the border of the front garden, and removing the sod from some of the side to create a new garden bed.
We used black plastic edging to help keep the mulch from washing into the yard and on the sidewalk. To help keep weeds away, we covered the whole area with black landscape fabric, cutting around the existing bushes and flowers.
I planted holly bushes, knock out rose bushes, a hydrangea (my fave!) and some other evergreen bushes along the foundation. They're small now, but they'll grow and hopefully cover up the concrete.
Oh my word. I love hydrangeas!
Then we mulched.
We even had some help from our big kids and the neighbor kids!
Now, we have a spruced up front yard and a pretty side yard for all those walkers on the path.
My plan is to put some perennials in front of the bushes. I'm all about flowers that will come back on their own! There are so many more things on "The List", but this was a good start. We feel very accomplished after a hard day's work! Have you done anything new in your yard this spring?
Don't you love a perfectly clean kitchen? Here's a quick glimpse into my kitchen on a busy Monday morning, after getting kids off to school and Mr. Helpful off to work. Breakfast is all cleaned up - not a crumb to be found.
Look at those clean shiny counters. No dishes in the sink. No piles...oh wait. This is what the other side looks like.
So take heart if you have a messy surface (or two or three!) You are not alone! Aside from the phone and maybe the tissues, nothing on that counter actually belongs there. Just being real. I need to find "homes" for things that just get dumped here. To be honest, the shiny island will likely be covered with school papers and lunch boxes in just a few short hours. So there you have it. Happy Monday!
It's spring, but it feels like summer some days, and it has become routine on our culdesac to have popsicle "parties" almost every day. This usually involves 5-15 kids, depending on who's out, so it needs to be cheap and easy. I buy those freeze pops that come as liquid in the long tube and then you freeze them. The biggest downfall of these cool treats is that you have to cut them open, and usually end up cutting into the frozen, sticky, goodness.
So the last time I bought a bunch, I froze them standing up, so the liquid was at the bottom, leaving a few inches of non-sticky air at the top! No more sticky fingers or scissors. No more kids upset that theirs didn't get cut all the way through. Just popsicle bliss.
My front door was looking a bit bare. With spring temps in January/February, I was inspired to go use some springy ribbon and a wreath form. My plan was to do a fun ribbon wreath like I've seen on Pinterest, like this one.
Nevermind that I've had my supplies for almost a month, just sitting in my studio. Now it's officially spring and my wreath is officially hanging on my door. I started with a 12 inch wreath form and five colors of polka dot ribbon.
I had skinnier grosgrain ribbon in my stash in solid colors to match each of the five polka dot ribbons. These were used more as fillers here and there to cover up the green wreath form. I cut strips around 4 inches long and hot glued each into a loop.
I found it easiest to cut a batch of strips and get them all glued into loops, as opposed to doing one loop at a time on the wreath. I did not use a pattern for colors or position - just randomly glued my loops onto the wreath, moving around until it was fully covered.
I ended up using all of the polka dot ribbon - a total of 45 feet of ribbon! That's not including the grosgrain! Definitely a time consuming project - not hard at all - just time consuming. But I'm pretty happy with the result!
I recently learned something fabulous. I can grow my own green onions. In a jar. On my window ledge. With just water. So now, any time I want fresh green onion, I just snip some off. And it grows back! I've been using the same (store bought) green onions for about two months now, and it's still working! I feel like I've uncovered some sort of secret. Shhh. Tell everyone you know!
About two weeks ago, I got fed up (again) at the mass of stuff my kids leave around the house. Toys, books, rocks, socks, and everything in between. I saw a brilliant idea (on Pinterest, of course) where another fed up mom created a clutter jail. You can check out her post here.
I decided to start my own Stuff Jail. So I grabbed the nearest box (no time to make it pretty - this was serious!), printed out my JAIL sign, and explained the new plan to the kids. I gave them 20 minutes to go around the house and put things back where they belong - or else - it would end up in JAIL. They were responsible to "Post Bail" for an item in the slammer, which was a chore assigned by the Deputy on duty (me or Mr. Helpful).
They were all into it. They scrambled to gather up their precious things - but of course, they missed a bunch. So....
They vacuumed, dusted, washed dishes, folded blankets, washed windows, etc. And they earned every last thing back that same day. It was beautiful.
That night, I found almost everything they had posted bail for sitting on the steps to go upstairs. So, back to the slammer they went. I have to say, most of those things are still in jail - must not be that precious after all. Girlie posted bail for 11 socks of hers that landed in jail. (11, right? There's always one that's MIA.) Bud washed dishes to get a pencil, which baffles me, since we have a ton of pencils. The Bear washed windows for a Christmas ornament. (I know - it's March - this one stays out year round.)
Well, one of Buds' precious things went "missing" the other day. His IPod Shuffle. He was very upset. Really, it was sitting on the kitchen counter, but he glanced over it and missed it. So he threw a fit and blamed everyone else. Next thing I know, I find this on the refrigerator.
Wow. That's quite a threat. Well, I showed him where he didn't look hard enough, but he left the note up. That was yesterday. Guess what's in jail today. His IPod Shuffle and ear buds, which he left sitting out on my desk. And, I admit, I smiled a little when I put it in jail today.
Trying to teach responsibility is such a
joy challenge. I see housework in Bud's near future.
There seems to be a trend of people making their own laundry detergent. Or maybe people have done that for years and I'm still the fool who pays too much for detergent at the store. Either way, I'm going to give it a try. Most recipes I've seen out there are about the same, with a few variances, using ingredients including Borax, Washing Soda, and a bar of soap. Here are a few blogs that provide tips and recipes.
Ok, I'm excited about making my own and saving money. But I might be slightly more excited about finding something cute to store it in, making a label, and making it look pretty!
I'll let you know how it goes!
There is a space on my kitchen wall between the end of my cabinets and the beginning of the window that has been empty far too long. I wanted to find one of those swirly vintage frames from an old mirror or something. My plan was to spray paint the frame a fun color, and make it into a chalkboard. I've seen lots of them on Pinterest like this.
But during a recent date with Mr. Helpful to the closest Hobby Lobby (30 minutes away!), my love for "swirly" was met with great resistance. I found lots of things at Hobby Lobby that qualify as that style. None of which got any support from him. (And yes, I did say "date" because it included dinner and did not include any children.)
We were able to meet in the middle and decide that a simple oval frame would work. I know. Drastic move. Everything else in our house has straight lines and squared off corners. It was our compromise between straight and swirly. But, after several laps around the store - just to be sure we looked at everything at least twice - we also found a cool wooden tray. Yes, it was a straight rectangle. Not anything close to my vintage swirls. But a tray would catch the chalk dust, and provide a little shelf on which to place the chalk.
We suffer from major practical-itus. It's been plaguing us since before we were married. I don't think there's a cure. We will forever think practical, buy practical, do practical.
So we bought the tray. Which would catch the chalk dust, hold the chalk, and was cheaper anyway. (Annoyingly practical.)
I was going to post the dinner "menu" on it. But we've had an increase in sibling disputes and they've just plain been mean to each other lately. So I found a great Bible verse to put up to remind them that it's not just Mommy who's telling them to be nice. I love that I can tell them that I'm just following God's instructions when I insist they be sweet to each other. His words are way more powerful than mine!