DIY $1 Mini Chalkboard

I’m obsessed with chalkboards. They are one of my favorite things to decorate my home with. Retail stores will charge an outrageous amount for cute chalkboards, so why not make your own for close to nothing?

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DIY $1 mini chalkboard

This project literally only cost me $1. I already had the supplies needed to create the chalkboard, so all I needed was a “board” to write chalk on. I went to my nearest Dollar Store and purchased this silver tray for only a buck.

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I spray painted the middle with chalkboard paint and used a fun bright blue acrylic paint for the edge. After the paint dried, I hot glued a burlap bow to the back to hang it on the wall in my kitchen. Now I have a fun new inexpensive decor item for my home!!

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Bar Stool Re-Cover

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A few years ago (umm… maybe like 7), we bought some cheap- but- ok- looking counter height stools from Target (I think). They had a cushion covered in microfiber that I successfully kept clean for several years. Then 3 toddler boys happened. And mod podge. So, yeah,  fast forward to now, and they are filthy and un-cleanable.

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Instead of pulling the seat apart and re-upholstering the seat, which was a viable option, I chose to make a removable cover so that next time one of my darling, dear, stinkers wipes the rest of their dinner on the seat I can just throw it in the washer.

I had a ton of sturdy black fabric that used to be a futon cover, and I decided that fabric would work perfectly for this project- waste not, want not!

First I measured the diameter of the bar stools, added about 6 inches, and cut out one circle with the larger diameter for each stool.

Next, I serged around each circle and prepared to sew a casing by pinning the edge in at intervals around the whole circle. I learned of a better method afterward on On The Cutting Floor , that I would use if I had to do it again.Collages5

With the casing done, I threaded elastic through and sewed the ends together. The result looked a lot like a huge gothic shower cap. Haha. Until I put it on the barstool- much better, no?

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I think I will spray the covers with Scotch Guard or something similar to cut down on how often I have to wash the covers, but it’s so nice to have the option now!

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Ahh, much better, don’t you agree? And free isn’t a bad price for this “Make it do” project.

DIY Coat Rack for less than $30

We have a problem. It’s called not enough hooks to hang things on. This problem manifested itself recently when I received several new purses as gifts, and my hanging spot became a chair. And then I stopped hanging up my coat in the coat closet because it was too far away. And then our entry way turned into a pile of purses and coats and gym bags and our primary bag and I just can’t handle that kind of clutter. We decided that something must be done, so we got on the internet and looked for a free standing coat tree rack (we’re in a rental, so anything wall-mounted just wouldn’t work). We did a lot of searching, because we wanted something sturdy but inexpensive because let’s face it, we just need to hang our stuff up so it doesn’t look like we’re hoarders.
The more we looked for one to buy, the more we realized that we can make our own dang coat rack and it would look cooler and be cheaper to make! So we decided to make our own. I was inspired by the design of this one from Anthropologie (but not the price.. yikes!). So we went to Home Depot.
We bought: A 2x2x8 pine pole for $8, 4 L-shaped supports for just over $1 each, and two sets of hooks that were I think around $2 for a pair.
Other supplies needed: A hand saw and some sandpaper (although we could have had the pole cut at Home Depot if we had thought of it)
I forgot to take pictures of the actual process, but I think it took us about 30 minutes to finish, including hand-sawing the pole.
It’s the perfect spot for our jackets and my purses!
I really like how the industrial supports came together with the plain pine wood of the pole. 
This was such an easy DIY and it was fun for my husband and I to make together too :)
(I’m playing with the idea of making more of them to sell.. maybe! Stay tuned)

Angel Ornament Kid’s Craft

Here’s a quick idea for a fun craft to do with a group of children or just one or two!  I did this with the kids in our neighborhood playgroup last year and they all seemed to enjoy it.

You will need: 1 marshmallow, 2 doilies, a toothpick, some ribbon, red and black sharpies, tacky glue or hot glue, and some yellow embroidery floss or pipe cleaner for a halo.

Directions:  Fold one doily in half, and the other doily in quarters.  Glue the quartered doily on top of the half- doily, as shown in the picture.  Poke the toothpick up through the middle of the half- doily; the marshmallow goes on the exposed toothpick end.  Glue in place.  Cut a small piece of yellow floss or pipe cleaner and make your halo- glue it on.  Use the ribbon to make a loop to hang on the tree- glue that in place too.  Use the sharpies to make a face on the angel.

Fun, easy craft for the kiddos!

This year, I think I am going to have our playgroup make this simple but very cute ornament from Fun Home Things:

What crafts are you planning to do with your kids this year?

A Wendy Dress

A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine called me up and asked for help in creating a costume for her daughter, who had landed the role of Wendy in her school’s production of Peter Pan.  We couldn’t find a reasonably priced costume, a nightgown that looked like it could be altered, or a pattern
specifically for a Wendy dress, so I semi-cautiously decided to make a pattern myself. (How hard
could it be? No matter that I mainly sew little boy stuff… hahaha.)

We opted to follow most of the stylistic traits of Disney Wendy’s dress, with a change or two of our own.
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started by taking measurements and drafting the bodice pattern (I
actually didn’t start completely from scratch on this, but I radically modified
an existing girls dress pattern- including resizing it and pretty much
changing the entire shape, so… yeah, I’m going to count that as drafting.).  Thankfully, I made a muslin
first, because I needed to make several changes to my first draft to make it fit correctly.

 

I altered a simple cap sleeve to become a perfect puff sleeve using this technique on Vani’s blog.  Thank goodness for Google searches and awesome people who put up random super-helpful tutorials.

The skirt is just one rectangle, 1.5x the width of the waist measurement.  I know there are other, probably better ways to do this, but this is what I knew and felt comfortable doing, so I went with it.  The bottom ruffle is 2x the width of the skirt.  I sewed the zipper in first, and then sewed the rest of the back seam together.  Oh, and I added a hook and eye above the zipper.  The ribbon belt is tacked on at the side seams to keep everything together in the wash.

I used a little extra ribbon to make a matching hair bow.  (I have to admit that because I don’t have daughters, this is actually the first bow I have ever made- and I really didn’t know what I was doing- so don’t judge too harshly!)

I lined the bodice of the dress for 3 reasons: First, for the “seamless” look on the neckline; second, for a “no-itch” feel- which apparently is really important to eight year olds.  Third, lining the sleeves gave them a little more volume.

I do have to say that the puff sleeves might be my favorite part of the dress.  Aren’t they just adorable?  I’ll just answer my own question- yes!- they are about as adorable as the eight year old wearing them!

The dress isn’t perfect, but it makes a pretty good Wendy-bird costume for the play and for Halloween!  I have to say that I am relieved that it turned out and I didn’t mess the whole thing up… whew!  Has anyone else taken on a project they weren’t sure they could deliver on and how did it turn out?

Mother and Baby Shower

I mentioned very briefly in my last post that while in Oregon, we had a baby shower.  What I didn’t mention was that it was a shower (or, more accurately, a mother and baby shower) for my sister Marissa!  My mom, my sisters and I collaborated and planned it all, with Marissa’s help and input, and I think it was a success!

 

Marissa wanted frilly, lacy, pink-y loveliness as the theme, and so that’s what we did!

Marissa and I got together and laughed hysterically- as we usually do- while we designed the invitations.  We were able to make them entirely out of what we had on hand already. :-)  The pink part is a sleeve which the invitation slides out of.  The umbrellas, clouds, and hearts were cut using my Silhouette machine.  I designed the text part of the invitation in Inkscape.

If you are going to ask people to RSVP, it is a good idea to not only include your phone number, but also your email address- some people (including myself) don’t like to call.  We also created a facebook event.  Hey, we just figured that the easier it was (and more ways there were) to RSVP, the better response we would get.

I had read about an idea of a “mother blessing shower” in one of my favorite new books (The Gift of Giving Life– seriously an amazing book; I would say that reading it, along with their blog for the past two years has changed my life and the way I think about motherhood- I’m not paid to say that, it’s just true.  Go check it out; you won’t be disappointed, even if you just read through the archives of some of the positive birth stories).  I was charmed with the idea that while it is great- and really fun- to focus on the baby, a shower is also a great opportunity to celebrate motherhood.  So, taking the suggestion from the book, in our announcement we invited people to bring a blessing or good thought for Marissa and a bead or charm to represent it, which would be put on a charm bracelet for Marissa to wear and feel happy vibes! 😉

This was a blank paper we included in the invitation for people to bring their written good wishes on.

The shower was fun (I really enjoyed seeing people I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting with for many years in some cases) and lovely of course.  We used pieces from our mom’s wedding china to hold flowers and candy.  My mom also had a great collection of crystal and glass serving dishes, and glass snack sets which she inherited from her mother.  I had picked up mini- chalkboards from the craft store recently, and those were fun to use, along with ribbons, and tons of tissue paper that we turned into flowers and pom-poms.

Ooh, before I forget, the menu included assorted fresh fruit, gluten/dairy/egg free brownies (which were amazing), oreo truffles, jordan almonds and Dove chocolates, dark and white chocolate drizzled popcorn, and heavenly pink sorbet punch.  Mmm.

Here’s the cute pregnant mama… I wonder why I couldn’t get her to look at the camera?!

Something else we did that I have seen done at other showers is pass around a basket of blank envelopes for people to address to themselves to make it that much easier for Marissa to send out her thank-you notes.  (Whoops, don’t have a picture of that one, but you can use your imagination…)

A few nights ago, Marissa and I got together, and we added jump rings to all the charms, and attached them on to a bracelet that we made.  I think it is adorable, if a bit crowded- but you can never have too many blessings, right?!  Some of the charms were meant for the baby some day, so ultimately, a few charms will be removed and it won’t be quite so crowded.

Here’s what it looks like on.  Artsy, unique, lovely, and a reminder of all the love, blessings, and good wishes from friends and family!

As a gesture of gratitude/ favor of sorts for those who attended, we made about 30 of these crocheted friendship bracelets with a bead in the middle.  The idea was that people would grab one as they walked out the door, but of course we forgot until half of the people were already gone.  😛  Oops.  Maybe they will go out in some of the thank you notes.

We definitely had fun with this baby shower, and I really liked the “mother blessing” part.  It seems appropriate to me that this portion could be done for any mother- regardless of how many babies she has had, or if she needed an actual “shower” for the baby.  Honoring motherhood and womanhood is always a good move in my book!  Tell me what you think in the comments!

My Super Cereal Supplement: A Granola Recipe

Here’s a post of Marissa’s from the archives that you might enjoy!

Being young, married, tight-budgeted college students, my husband and I have been trying to get creative and think of things that we can make on our own, that we would normally pay more for at the grocery store.

Unfortunately, one of those things that a large part of our grocery budget is dedicated to is cold cereal… When we came to this realization, and talked about the possibility of reducing the cereal consumption in our home, there were tears…. Yeah, I cried! I know it sounds silly. But you don’t understaaaandd! – My whole life up until now, cereal has always been a part of my breakfast. It has always been there, waiting for me, like a true friend! How could I even think of including any other breakfast food in my morning meal? And all through my single years of college, what would I have done for breakfast and dinner, if I hadn’t had my cereal waiting there so patiently in the cupboard for me? I could go on, but I’ll spare you my “life cereal” poetry… that’s just embarrassing.

As we talked about cutting cereal out of our lives, I thought of my morning bowl of cereal and all its deliciousness and glory. I couldn’t bear to let it go. I knew I had to come up with a solution. Well, I actually came up with two!

SOLUTION #1: only cut back on cereal, rather than cut it completely out. Instead of going through 3-4 boxes of cereal per week, cut it down to 1 box, and supplement it with other foods like eggs, toast, fruit and yogurt. It’s been working pretty well so far. I tried buying two kinds of cereal and splitting them each in half, so that we could have a variety still, but keep it at 1 box’s worth of cereal. That has worked decently well – I just put the other half in a gallon ziploc bag.

SOLUTION #2: (This one is my favorite) Make. Granola. That counts as cereal, and do you realize how much cheaper it is to make it??! I found a recipe on allrecipes.com for really simple granola, with typical ingredients you would have on hand. I have made it 4 times now, each time, changing it a little so I liked it better, and now, I have come up with a recipe that I really like! I’ll share it with you because I’m just hoping it will give you as much joy as it has brought to me. :)

Honey Almond Granola

2 c. old-fashioned oats (or 1 c. quick oats and 1 cup old fashioned if you want it to be in clusters)
¼ c. Sliced almonds
¼ c. + 1 Tbsp flaked coconut
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 ½ tbsp vanilla pudding powder, divided
½ tsp cinnamon
Scant ¼ tsp. salt
½ c. orange blossom honey (or clover honey)
* milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract

Directions:
1. Combine oats, nuts, coconut, sugar, 1/2 Tbsp vanilla pudding powder, cinnamon and salt in a mixing bowl.
2. Measure 1/2 cup honey into a liquid measuring cup, an then add milk on top of the honey* until it is up to 2/3 cup.
3. Add 1 Tbsp vanilla pudding powder, vanilla and almond extract to the honey and milk, mix together and pour into dry ingredients. Mix well.
4. Bake at 280 degrees for 35 minutes. (check every 10 minutes, stirring each time) Bake until golden brown. Let it cool (and if you want it to be in clusters, let it cool before you stir it again), and store in an airtight container.

For a low sugar version – I have made it without the brown sugar or pudding powder, and just let the honey do all the sweetening, and it is still delicious.

I have found that Granola is a very forgiving recipe – you can really tweak it to meet your desires – If you want to add something or leave something out, you can, and it won’t mess it up!

*EDIT 7/28/10: I found out that boiling the honey for 1 minute and then adding it to the dry mixture helps to soften the oats so they aren’t so hard and crunchy and hard to chew…

**Rochelle’s notes 6/18/12:  An alternative to using quick oats is to just pulse the old fashioned oats in your blender for a few seconds.  I have tried this recipe with agave and it works well.  A fun way to change this recipe is to add in some dried fruit after the bake time.  I usually go with craisins, but you could add whatever you like.

Ring Box Photo Frames

I am going to be occasionally re-posting a few of my older posts (2+ years back) that most of you haven’t seen, starting with this fun recycling project!  I hope you enjoy it!

I have a couple of  shoe boxes full of those little boxes that rings, watches, and assorted jewelery come in- both the fancier hinged kind, and the cardboard ones.  Being the recovering pack rat that I am, I still have to look the other way when I am decluttering in my craft room, because they are just so dang cute that I cannot get rid of them!  And anyway, I might be able to turn them into something fantastic, right?

Well, after 12+ years of collecting these little boxes that I might use “someday”, I am finally figuring out how to give them new life!  I hope to share many different ideas; here is my first.

I kept the boxes my engagement ring and wedding band came in, thinking they were just too pretty to throw away.  I wanted to do something sentimental with them, and display them somehow without looking junky.  They reminded me a little of photo frames, and that seemed like a feasible option.

 

I had to rip out the padding so that photos could lay flat over each square opening.  I thought about also ripping out the other piece that covers the hinge, but decided to leave it in.
 
I used E6000 glue to stick the two boxes together, and the drying time was pretty short.  I recommend using some sort of clamp to hold the boxes exactly where you want them.

 

I measured the squares and chose 4 portrait- oriented photos and re-sized them to fit the openings, which for this project was 1.5 x 1.75 inches.  For sentimentality, I had to choose one photo from the day we were engaged, where my husband was actually holding the ring box- it seemed only fitting.  The rest are from right after we were married, and from our reception.

 

I glued each photo over the square opening, and let it dry.  I kind of wish now that I hadn’t left the white strip that covers the hinges, but not enough to rip the whole thing apart and start over.

 

For now, my little frame will live on top of my computer desk.

 

This idea works well if you have 2 identical ring boxes, but you could still use just one with cute results!  I am going to tweak the idea a little more with some of my other gazillion boxes and see what I can come up with.  I would love to see pictures if anyone else tries this (or some other way of recycling a ring box)!