Thursday, December 8, 2016

Growth Chart Ruler: An Upcycled Pallet Project

This is one of those projects that I have been planning to do for years; eight to be exact. I am thrilled to finally have it completed. It only took me a couple hours to finish and considering I had all four of my little helpers working with me, I call it a huge success.

I started with an old scrap board I removed from a pallet that I found on our property. It was pretty rough and slightly wonky but overall it was the perfect size. 

 I cut it to length and let the boys sand it smooth. They really enjoyed being able to get involved with the construction process, even if their “hands got really tired” (we are never short on the drama around these parts ☺️) before we were finished. 

We all agreed we liked the look of the old pallet but wanted some add some color. 
So I found some old paint in the garage and thinned it out with water to create a colored stain. 
The older boys painted the board and we let it dry before I brought it in to finish painting on the ruler lines. 

The biggest success of this project comes with the next step. I freehanded block numbers on the board! I know, not that impressive to some. However, in the past I have been so much of a perfectionist that I cannot stand my own designs and I have to use a printed template. So the success isn’t so much in the work itself, but the freedom to enjoy my own art. This board will not only serve as a marker for the physical growth of my boys but also as a reminder of my growth as well.

After measuring out the lines with a tape measure I used a paint pen to enhance them. Then I used a playing card to mark my lines for the numbers. I drew them in pencil and worked on each one until I was satisfied. I let my older two fill them in with paint. (Another growing moment for me; relinquish control) 

We all enjoyed working together on this project and I am elated with the results. And as an added bonus it was completely free! 

As you may be able to see, the board does not lay completely flush with the wall do to its warped condition, however it serves its purpose well. Each night the boys check to see how much they have grown. A couple on tippy toes seem to grow every night! 😉

If I were to buy supplies for this project I recommend a nice straight board and 3M Command Picture hanging strips. As the most difficult portion of this project was hanging it at the correct hight to aline with the numbers on the board. Overall this is a fun and easy project. 

Until next time, keep growing!


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

DIY Anti-Fatigue Mat for less than $10

The end of October is upon us and the holiday season is fast approaching! As much as I enjoyed the lazy days of summer fun I will have to admit I equally enjoy these fast paced productive days. And most of all the beautiful fall weather!

I am currently sipping hot tea and admiring the new anti-fatigue mat I recently completed. 

This project has been in the planning stage for a couple months but nothing like dinner guests and birthday parties to motivate one to follow through with their plans. :)

I started with some foam puzzle mats that had seen better days. We got these when our first baby was crawling around on our rental's concrete floors. They were one of the best baby items we've invested in. We also have the alphabet set in primary colors and they are still in pretty good shape considering the amount of use they have had over the last seven years. 
This wood look print started to peel and flake off a few years ago but overall most of the pieces are still in decent shape. I sorted through and got some of the ones that had some of the tabs torn off or the pattern worn down. I assembled it in multiple configurations until I found one that worked best for my space. I ended up with a 3' x 4' mat that remained in the kitchen, as is, for several weeks. I will go ahead and claim that it was a trail period to test efficiency. ;-)

I was planning on keeping 
this project as close to free as I could by using a solid teal fabric I had in my stash. However, after having recently painted the side door a shade of blue I didn’t like the look of the big teal rectangle hitting you right after you walked through the slate blue door. I also decided I wanted something with a pattern to help hide the wear. So I headed to Walmart and picked up this fabric. It is one of my favorites and happens to match the memo board I made several years ago and recently relocated to the kitchen. At $5 a yard it didn't stretch the budget too much. 

After cutting the outer tabs off, I hot glued the pieces together and then covered the seams with tape. I used spray adhesive to adhere the fabric to the top side of the mat and hot glue to secure the edges and underside. Being careful to smooth out the fabric with each step.

I sprayed Scotch Guard over the mat and after a few minutes it was ready to go. 

I love how it turned out and it is oh so comfortable to stand at the stove and cook or the sink to do dishes. 

So if you have some old puzzle mats that are looking less than 100% don't throw them out! Just up-cycle them into a beautiful new mat. So simple and no DIY experience required! You could even use double stick tape if you don’t have a hot glue gun. 

I still have so many things I would love to post about but they will have to all come on their own time. These boys are growing up fast and I don’t want to miss a minute! 

Until Next Time, 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

From Curtain to Roman Shade - A Window Treatment UpCycle

This has been one of my favorite transformations so far. A little change can make a huge impact! So I am excited to finally be able to share it with you.


I realized my only before picture was actually taken prior to our move into the house, but as you can see the full curtains are lovely, but hide the beautiful original woodwork we love so much about this house. Plus they are always getting pulled and smeared by dirty hands. Converting them to a shade not only displays the beautiful windows but also keeps them clean!

I used this tutorial as reference for my project, it is excellent! I started with my living room curtains and gained a lot of knowledge from trial and error. Now that I have completed the dining room set I will be going back and redoing the living room set. I thought I could do without the dowels but I am too much of a perfectionist when it comes to decor lines. So I ended up ordering dowel rods on Amazon because my local stores didn’t carry any the right length… hazards of small town life. But I am so glad I did! It took the project to a whole new level. Clean and professional. 

Materials List:                                                  Supplies List:                                                   
Curtain Panel, or fabric of choice                Drill                               
1x2s (or 1x3s cut to size)                                Scissors
Wooden Dowel Rods                                      Tape Measure
1” L-brackets and screws                               Pencil or Fabric Marking Pen
Plastic Rings                                                    Needle and Thread 
Drapery Cord/Twin                                        Staple Gun 
Eye Hooks                                                        Sewing Machine (or Seam Tape and Iron)
Rope Cleat 

I started by cutting the panel to the right length and width; leaving an inch for a seam allowance to match the existing hem. I used two dowels and the scrap piece leftover from ripping the 1x3 down to the right size (again, the local hardware store didn’t carry 1x2s in stock) as the weighted piece on the bottom.

I used the leftover fabric to wrap my wood and stapled it in place. I hemmed the cut side and stapled it to the wood. I marked the place for the eye hooks, 2" in on each side and centered in the middle. These hooks will hold the cords that operate the shade. 

Next I finished the dowel pockets and folded everything to line up with the eye hooks. This is a step I skipped on my first trial and discovered if the rings are not level and square when you pull the shade up it will be crooked. Most people might not notice, but I couldn't stand it! 

I used a curved upholstery needle to quickly stitch the plastic rings onto the dowels. It was much more efficient that attempting it with a straight needle. After attaching all the rings. I used brown household twine for my cord. It was half the price of the drapery cord and matched the color of the curtain. The only downside is it's thin and slick to work with, but I liked the look of it better than the white so I made it work. 

I mounted the wood to the inside of the frame using 1" L-brackets, I pre-drilled the holes according to package directions.

Originally I had the cord pulling from the back and mounted with two command hooks on the inside of the window. (Because my local Walmart didn't have any rope cleats) However it just wasn't a neat of a presentation as I wanted from this project so I decided to use a grommet to pull the cord into the front and after a trip to the "city" I picked up some rope cleats and moved the cord stay to the outside of the window. The finished result is much cleaner and it is much easier to wind the cord. 

Again, I couldn't find any cord pulls here locally, so I used some wire mounted beads (leftover from my wedding flowers...9yrs ago!) and wrapped them onto the cords. It functions well and adds a little bling at the same time! ;-)


I love how they turned out! I learn so much from this DIY project. I am in the process of redoing the living room set and I will post updates as time allows. 

We are looking forward to our first summer here in Iowa and will be out exploring as much as we can! I am excited to share our adventures with you. Remember to subscribe to my page by email so you don't miss a post! 

Until Next Time,


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Bugs & Dirt Cake and A Birthday to Remember!

My second born turned 6 this month! He requested another bug themed birthday that complemented the big outdoor party we were able to plan this year and it was a great success. We made the cake for his school snack on his actual birthday and it was by far the easiest birthday cake design I have ever done and it turned out the best! (So good, I wish I would have saved it to show off at the party!)

I toyed with the idea of creating another bug shaped cake (I did a caterpillar for his 3rd birthday) but I just didn't have the time to experiment with the different pans I had on hand since we were busy preparing for the "big party" on Friday. Thanks to Google I came across this idea and I added a few elements and the results were fantastic! 

I started by using 2 boxed cake mixes, prepared as directed. I divided the batter between 1 - 9x13 pan and 1 small pyrex bowl. The cake in the bowl took a little longer to bake but I just kept a close eye on it and did a tooth pick test every 5 minutes or so towards the end. I used a bread knife to cut the lump off the top and make a level bottom to my "hill". I flipped it over and placed it on the 9x13 cake. I iced used chocolate icing over the entire cake, and the best part I didn't have to worry about getting crumbs in the icing or making it look uniform. 

While the cake was cooking I prepped the "dirt". I couldn't find any chocolate animal crackers at my local Walmart so I ended up buying Cocoa Puffs chocolate cereal, and it resulted in the best looking and best tasting dirt I've ever made! I dumped some in a ziplock and smashed it up with a rolling pin. I slightly pressed handfuls of the crumbs onto the iced cake covering the whole surface including the sides. 

I added some green icing color to the chocolate icing and used a small ziplock to apply the grass. I didn't have a multi opening icing tip, so I just poked a few holes in my baggie and squeezed out the icing in a random pattern. The birthday boy placed the plastic toy bugs on the cake and we sprinkled some green sugar sprinkles in the grass. That's it! Super Easy! (Sorry some of the pictures are blurry, I didn't realize I had a smudge on my phones camera until afterwards!)

The party that Friday was a huge success, minus some strong winds early in the evening that kept the bon fire from getting big, but thankfully it calmed down enough to roast hot dogs and marshmallows. 

I made a spider piñata from a box and tissue paper. Similar to the Minecraft TNT I made for my oldest 7th birthday but after watching my hard work get smashed to pieces in one swing, I decided to go quick and simple for this time. I just wrapped the box in tissue and taped on some legs. The kids loved it! They even took home the legs and head as souvenirs! 

We did dirt and worm pudding cups in addition to the S'mores for treats. I used the leftover cake crumbs and cocoa puffs from the birthday cake and gummy worms. 

The rest of the party was free play time. I set out bubbles and balls and the kids made their own fun.

We had a grand time and felt so much love from our new community. 

It was a great way to kick off a beautiful spring and celebrate this boys birthday and love for the outdoors!

Until Next Time,

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Five Minutes to Fabulous: My Super Quick, No-Sew Curtain Update

Projects, projects everywhere! Thankfully most of them are small decor changes and not full on weekend warrior remodels. Especially since the weather is turning nice and we spend most of our time outside (a big change from our old yard-less house). My older boy's room was the focus for todays quick update. 

The house came with most of the window treatments so I can slowly change or relocate the materials to match our furniture and styles. This room came with cellular blinds and curtain rods. The blinds are cordless and I love them, except they are not light blocking and it's hard to convince your kids to go to bed in the summer when there is still light streaming through the window! 

The star of this update is the clip curtain ring. You can easily find these at your local retailer. I relocated these from the living room curtains (that are currently being transformed into Roman Shades) to use upstairs with the twin flat sheets I found at Goodwill for $2.

These clips not only allow you to use whatever fabric to choose but they slide open effortlessly taking a lot of strain off the curtain rod. Picture 6 year old boy attempting to pull open traditional pocket curtain... resulting in the rod being torn from the sheetrock.... needless to say, effortless opening is a huge bonus! 

All I had to do was iron out the sheets (by far the most time consuming step of this update). Then I clipped them up, no sewing required. I just folded down the top edge to hang them the correct hight. So simple!

The second window is smaller so I decided to go head and fold the sheet completely in half and keep the floor free from the extra material. So the boys don't have to fight with it while they play. Plus extra light blocking!

That's it. Iron and hang. Plus its so easy to change and the options are endless! I love it!

Until next time,

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Build Your Own Nachos: Gluten Free with Dairy Free Options {THM S, E or Crossover}

With a family of six, it is often difficult to make a meal that everyone can enjoy without complaint. Which is why Nacho Night is one of our family favorites.

Build Your Own Nachos empowers everyone to get what they want without any extra work on my part. It is also flexible with what you have on hand in the fridge or whatever produce maybe on sale at the store, making it a win for the budget as well as the tastebuds.

Build Your Own Nachos:
Blue Corn Tortilla Chips
1 lb of Ground Meat of Choice
Sweet Bell Peppers
Mexican Style Shredded Cheese (Or Hello Cheese pg 487 THM Cookbook for Dairy Free)
Plain Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream

Everyone gathers around the table and builds their own plate as they please, dairy free for me, mild salsa for the kids, spicy options for my husband. It's the perfect dinner to accommodate all of our different tastes and dietary needs. 

Notes for Trim Healthy Mamas:
For an {S} Meal, skip the chips and add more peppers for a nice crunch
For {E} Use Baked Blue Corn Chips, skip the cheese (or use Hello Cheese) and guacamole and add fat free refried black beans for creaminess

Simple, Tasty, Kid Friendly, No Special Ingredients... It truly is food freedom!

Until Next Time,


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Birch Tree Shelves: A Quick, Fabulous & Free Up-Cycle

Birch Tree Shelves: A Quick & Fabulous Up-Cycle

Spring is coming! And I have been busy with several fun new house projects and spending time outside in the beautiful sunshine. I am currently in the middle of constructing a roman shade from a curtain panel... but I am taking a break to share my current favorite DIY project: Birch Tree Shelves!

We had a beautiful Birch tree in the front yard, unfortunately like several of the trees in our yard it wasn't alive anymore!

Before it headed to the burn pile I sorted through and found some pieces that hadn't been affected by whatever disease that caused it's early demise.

I cut them to size using a handheld limb saw and sealed them with Mod Podge. A spray sealer would make this step go even quicker but I was going with what I had on hand to keep this a completely free DIY project. Plus I got to use a couple super cute helpers!

After they dried I tied two branches together with some twine I had in my craft stash and mounted them to the wall with the L brackets I removed from the valances I took down from the previous owners. (Sorry for no pictures of this step, it went so fast I forgot to take them!)

But Here is the finished project. I love the way it looks in the room, they are the perfect size to hold our photo books and the best part: Completely FREE!

So now back to those window treatments... hopefully next week I will be able to post about them!

Until Next Time,