So Here's My Life

The things we make,
the food we eat and
the shenanigans in between.

A blog about making things by

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Chalk Board Pantry Doors.

Last week I found a bottle of Chalk Board Paint while browsing through Hobby Lobby. Love that store. I could spend hours there...and lots of money too. I've been wanting to do some sort of chalk board in our house for quite a while, but haven't decided which project I wanted to do. Even though I didn't have a specific plan for the paint, I bought it anyway. We don't have much wall space in our house (or even extra space) so I knew I had to come up with a creative idea for a chalk board. And then it hit me - I should paint our pantry doors!! And that's what I did. Now we have a chalk board, where my husband and I can write reminders to each other and the toddler can scribble his heart out. And we didn't even use any extra wall space to make this!!!

I only painted the inside squares of the pantry doors. We have black appliances in the kitchen so the black works well.

A couple things I didn't foresee was 1.) the fact that I have a toddler, and toddlers do not stay within boundaries - especially when coloring. (Duh). And 2.) chalk boards can be messy - people accidentally lean against them, chalk dust falls to the floor, and chalky toddler hands. So I ended up creating a little more work for myself by creating another avenue for messes, but at least we will have fun in the process!

Total cost - about $4 for the bottle of chalk board paint. That's it! I already had the paint brushes and masking tape.

Total Time - excluding drying time, only took about 30 minutes to tape the edges and then paint the doors.

Loved this project. Now go and do it! And tell me what you decided to turn into a chalk board. :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Box Car

Guess what? Today I found a project that my son was interested in for a larger portion of the day! I can't believe it! Usually when I do a project, he is mildly interested in doing it - until he gets distracted by his Hot Wheel cars or until it gets tedious - aka coloring or decorating. Ha!

Today we made a car out of cardboard box! I know this idea lacks in originality, but the toddler LOVED it. We originally came up with this idea for his birthday party last year, but at the time, he was feeling too shy and was unwilling to participate in the box car making and games. So today I thought we would try again. As I was making the box into a car, he showed very little interest in participating. He did about 2 or 3 scribbles with a crayon and then declared that he was done. (Typical. The nursery workers at church says he rarely shows interest in coloring...I'm thinking that he is going to be more of a mechanically minded person rather than creative. Just a thought.)

After I finished making the box look like a car, he was so excited to use it. He ran around the house wearing his box car, fell down the stairs wearing the box car, played in the backyard with it, and even wanted to take it when we went out to dinner tonight. We said no. As soon as we got home, he resumed playing with his box until bedtime. Amazing. I feel successful - finding a project that he is interested in for an extended amount of time is quite the accomplishment. Sometimes I am amused by the fact that the simple things bring so much entertainment to a child rather than the extravagant things. :)

Notice the finger in the nose. After this shot he put that finger in his mouth. I know you wanted to know that. You're welcome.

By the way - I don't know if you can tell by the pictures, but I punched holes in the front and back of the car and attached yarn from end to end so he could "wear" the car around his shoulders...kind of like suspenders.

Have fun with this project.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Halloween Fun.

Halloween is close, and this weekend we had some fun getting ready for it. We made Bert and Ernie pumpkins with the toddler. Initially he was interested in it while he was painting, but as soon as we started carving the pumpkins, he lost interest.
Painting was a little nerve-wracking - mostly because our dining room has carpet. Why didn't I think is to do this on the kitchen floor? Duh!

The toddler is now losing interest. Typical. I think that we enjoyed making them more than the toddler did.

Here's our finished product. Aren't they great? The Toddler loves them (now that we are done making them). He goes and sits down next to them and talks to them. It's hysterical. 

We are trying to take a picture with Bert and Ernie. See how interested The Toddler is in taking a picture?

Still trying to take a picture.

Forced posing. Not working.

Ok. Nevermind. I give up.

Afterwards we roasted Garlic Pumpkin Seeds - which were awesome. What kind of Halloween stuff have you guys been doing?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My First DIY Furniture Refinishing Project

I've been doing crafts for years, usually small stuff  - scarves, belts, crocheting, bags, etc. But we purchased a house last spring, so I've been preoccupied with trying to make all of our home decor fit together in a cohesive manner. But the table we have in the dining room is old and out dated and I'm not a huge fan of it. My parents gave us their table a couple of years ago. It's the same one we had growing up - from the 80's with a nice shiny veneer finish on the top. Outdated. So I decided it needed a makeover. This was my first DIY furniture refinishing project.

This is what our table looked like before. Blah. Notice the Shiny table top.

And this is our table afterwards. In addition to our table looking outdated, we have successfully broken all but one chair. do we manage? We were able to manage to fix 4 of the 7 chairs with wood glue, but we still had to come up with a couple more chairs. So I went thrifting and found a couple chairs - mismatched chairs. I want an eclectic look. Remember Monica's kitchen table from the show, Friends? (I tried to find a pic of it, but couldn't...but I didn't look too hard either.) Anyway, I've always loved how her chairs were mismatched. I've always wanted to do something similar. I wanted more mismatched chairs than what we have pictured, but after several trips to several thrift stores, I've found that individual chairs are hard to find...and they cost about $10 a piece. (why??? It's just a lonely chair!!) I probably need to start checking for them in garage sales instead. I was only able to score a couple...and the dealers weren't willing to sell one chair from a set (boo). So for now, we'll use what we have, and I'll replace them as I find more chairs (that cost less than $10 a piece).

Anyway, here's how we did our project:

We had to sand the table first (the legs as well as the top) - just enough to rough it up.We all participated in this one - including my toddler...but he was using a piece of paper to sand the table. That was his idea. The girl in the yellow shirt is our crafty friend, Sarah. She is awesome at refinishing furniture and other DIY projects. (She just started blogging. Check her out)

Next we put primer sealer on the table top. (We actually had to do a couple coats) This allowed the paint to stick to the veneer finish. Notice how the table leaves are all disconnected? We did this to keep them from sticking together as they dried.

After the primer sealer dried, we took out the two middle leaves, and spray painted the legs black as well as the edges of the table. Notice how the picture looks cloudy? That was because there was so much spray paint in the air, that when the camera flashed, the light reflected off all the paint in the air. Awesome. Ha ha.

Then we taped around the edges, and spray painted the top of the table brown.

Once the paint was dry, we plotted out where each word would be placed and what letter to use, and traced them onto the table with a pen.

And painted them. Let me just make a recommendation here - in hindsight, it probably would have been easier and less messy if we would have just spray painted the letters onto the table straight from the stencil. But at the time, it didn't even occur to me. However, if you do decided to trace from the stencils and paint them by hand, I would recommend that you have a good set of brushes - it makes a HUGE difference in how well you can paint the letters and stay within the lines. :)

Here's where I made a mistake. After we painted the letters onto the table and once they were dry, I painted on the final coat - polyurethane. BUT  when I did this, the black paint from the letters started to smear onto brown paint. Ahhhh!!! If you look at the bottom of the "Y", you can see how the black paint bled onto the brown paint. So I thought that maybe if I waited longer for the paint to dry that it wouldn't smear. Not so much. Same results. It got so bad I finally decided to redo the whole leaf that said "Family". So I sanded the leaf back down to the primer sealer layer and repainted. This time I used polyurethane that sprays on. (I did several coats) and then I painted on the polyurethane for a finishing touch. Much better results. No paint bleeding. The final step was to sand down all the chairs and paint them black. I used a bucket of paint for the chairs, because it ended up being cheaper than several cans of spray paint. The final step was to paint polyurethane on all the chairs and let dry.

Here is the finished project. I'm pleased with the results, but I learned a lot from this project. It was time consuming and it ended up costing a lot more than I realized.

Total cost including
  • 3 chairs from Goodwill - $25
  • paint brushes
  • paint
  • spray polyurethane
  • small bucket polyurethane
  • primer sealer
  • 2 types of sandpaper
  • sandpaper handle
  • spray paint
  • stencils

    $250 to $300 (at least) - I lost track of how much everything cost. Waaay more than I expected.
 Total amount of time - at least 36 hours (excluding drying time)

The purpose of this project was to redo our table in order to prevent spending money on a new one. But with all the time and money put into, we could have easily found a pretty decent one on Craigslist for the amount of money that we put into redoing our current one. But I like my table now, and at least I have a unique piece of furniture. So if you decide to do a project like this, make sure you have an accurate idea of how much it will cost.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Father Daughter Fun

I usually don't post pictures from my photo sessions on this blog, but today I am going to make an exception. This is one of my favorite silhouette pictures that I have taken. It was done during a family portrait session around this time last year. It was toward the end our the session and their toddler had had enough picture taking for that day. Her father swung her up in attempt to get a couple more shots before we ran out of light. It wasn't a photo I had planned on doing, but as he was playing with her, I was compelled to capture the moment. It's one of my favorite pictures. It's funny how the unplanned photos can end up being the most memorable ones. 
If you want to see more silhouette photos, you can click here. They aren't mine, but they are definitely fun to look at.

And if you want to see more photos you can check out my facebook page, my photography blog, or my website. :)

By the way - I have some more projects I finished and will be posting them soon. Watch for them!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Impromptu Dinner

Do you want to see what we had for dinner tonight?

Here it is! Home made pizza! Oh yes. We had a several ingredients that we needed to use up - including pizza crust, leftover spaghetti meat sauce, mushrooms, and spinach. I also added cheese (of course), and ham. Super Easy, and Super Delicious. What has been the best dinner that you've made from leftovers?

check out more dinner ideas here.

On My Bike Ride this Morning...

I went on a bike ride this morning. I love riding my bike. It's one of my favorite things to do, and it's an awesome way to get exercise. I try to ride 10 -15 miles at least once a week. This morning I thought we would change things up a bit and ride the trail down by the river. Let me tell you it was complete chaos. But before I tell you the story, here are a couple things you need to know:

  • My son always comes with me on a bike ride. I pull him in one of those trailer-chariot things.
  • I always take our dog, Brody - a Border Collie with limitless energy, on about a 3 mile run for the last part of my bike ride (I ride home to get him, attach his leash to the chariot, and have him run next to us).
  • Brody has not been walked in 2 weeks and has been driving us crazy with his excessive barking. He REALLY needed to have a walk (run).  
  • We have an unfinished backyard, and it has been a while since we bathed him. He looked like a homeless dog.
  • Before our bike ride, my son and I bathed him, so I wouldn't feel embarrassed to be seen with dirty homeless dog.
So now that you know all this, I will continue with my story:

  • We don't have a bike rack on our Expedition (but we should get one) so it took me 20+ minutes to figure out how to get one bicycle and one giant chariot into the back of the Expedition. I ended up taking out the back row of seats (that took a while), and taking off the front wheel of my bike in order for everything to fit.
  • In the car, on our way to the river trail my toddler was feeling extra ornery and tried to kick everything in reach of his feet. He got in trouble.
  • By the time we got to the river trail, had the bike assembled, the trailer attached, the toddler in his chariot, and the dog on his leash, it was windy. Incredibly windy. Like 20+ mph. Awesome. But at least it's a flat trail!
  • After about 3 to 4 miles, it's apparent my dog is tired. But I wanted to ride further. So what did I do? I put the dog in the chariot with my son. Then I realized that at some point my dog pooped while we were riding, and he had poop all over his rear section (So much for the bath).  It just so happens that I had a towel in the chariot (I don't know why). I wrapped the towel around the dog's rear and set him inside the chariot with my son. At that moment I had a spontaneous nose bleed. (awesome) I didn't have any kleenex and I refused to stand on the side of the trail, pinching my nose like a crazy person (there are just some things I refuse to do in public, and this is one of them). So I get back on my bike and keep riding, sniffing up the blood, wiping it on my cycling gloves, and trying to keep the blood from gushing out my nose. 
  • So despite all this, I keep riding. Keep in mind that its really really windy. My son is not fond of the wooly beast sitting next to him in the chariot and screams bloody murder. For the next ten minutes. That was awesome. All the walkers and the cyclist looked at us. I'm sure they truly thought I was nuts. Probably was/am. 
  • Finally we turn around. (It's been about 6 or 7 miles). I get the dog out of the chariot. My son is relieved, but covered in dog hair. And still aggravated. Our dog has a reputation for getting in peoples' kool-aid. This is how the toddler was feeling at the moment. 
  • I make the dog run along the bike the WHOLE WAY back. But I was nice to him. I didn't force him to go fast like I usually do. And I stopped every couple of miles to give him water (that I poured into a energy bar wrapper, because I didn't have a bowl for him - aka diy dog dish).
  • We finally make it back to the car. And the dog decides to jump into the back of the car as soon as I open the back hatch to the car. With his poopy butt. (ahhhhh!!!). 
  • I load everything into the car, including toddler and dog (with the towel) and drive home. When pulling into the driveway, I realize that I had been driving with the emergency brake on. The whole time. (That explains the wierd smell.) And the toddler took off his shoes and one sock and tossed them somewhere in the car. They are still in there (the shoes and sock, not the toddler.)
Yes, that was my morning. I give you permission to laugh. How can you not? I'm sure everyone thought I was nuts on the trail this morning. That's ok. Despite the chaos, it was a really neat ride. There are some amazing fall colors along the trail - plus it's a pretty easy ride. (almost completely flat). So who wants to join my next week? I promise I won't bring the dog next time. :) Ha ha.

I passed by this sign this morning on the bike ride. I'm just not so certain I understand the sign about the alien???

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Handmade Rustic Jewelry Frame DIY

I've seen the rustic Jewelry Frame using sticks all over Pinterest,. However, I couldn't find a tutorial to make this awesome project. So I made my own. Really, how hard could it be? Not hard at all! Here's how I did it.
jewelry frame

empty frame
 Here's the original frame - just your average thrift store find.

spray painted frame
Spray paint & let dry.

tree branches to use for the frame
I cut 3 fresh small branches from the tree in my yard. (Don't worry, the tree will be fine. It's been through a lot, and it's still alive). Freshly cut branches work well because they are fairly flexible.

scratching the paint to give it a worn look
I wanted my paint on the frame to have a bit of a distressed look. Steel wool works great to achieve this look, but I didn't have steel wool. So I used an old grill brush and scrubbed the paint down until I got the right results. (Just a note - make sure that paint on the frame is completely dry before bringing in your house and laying it on the kitchen floor while you scrub! Otherwise you may be scrubbing paint off your floor later. Speaking from experience. Did you know I'm impatient?)

make marks on the frame
Next I drew 3 dots on the inside of the frame to mark where I wanted the branches to sit. Make sure to do this on the opposite side as well.

drill holes into frames
shallow hole drilled into frame
Then I drilled small holes (about 1/8 inch deep) into the frame on the marked dots. (Make sure to not drill completely through the frame.) This is the part where the husband helped. Until the this point, I didn't have much experience with a drill...other than playing with the one on display at Home Depot.

carve end of branch
After this, I measured and trimmed the branches to correct length and whittled the ends of the branches to make them small enough to fit into the drilled holes. Ok, actually my husband did that part. Because he's nice.

pour drop of glue in hole
place branch into hole
Then I put a drop of glue in each of the drilled holes, moved the branches into place, and wiped off the excess glue. And that's it! Finished! Almost.

finished frame
jewelry frame
After I thought I finished the frame, hung it, and put all my jewelry on it, I realized that the top branch was down too low and it left a huge gap. Duh! I should have placed it higher on the frame. I hated that there was all that wasted space above the top branch. So I put a couple of hooks underneath the top of the frame and hung a couple of bracelets. Problem solved.

I loved doing this project. My husband liked it too. Especially the part about teaching me to use a drill (seriously!!!).  And I really love that now I have all my jewelry hanging on display and easily accessible instead of digging through a pile of tangled necklaces (don't tell my mom!) in a jewelry box to find what I want.

Total Cost - $4 (the frame was $4, the branches were free, old grill brush instead of buying steel wool, and I used leftover spray paint from a previous project).
Total Time Spent - about 1 hour (not including the drying time, and the fact that our drill's battery was dead, so we had to charge it before we could use it. blah)

Easy & fun project, even for an impatient person like me! :)

DIY Wall Art

I've done a serious amount of DIY crafts over the past several days. I'm like manic or something, but I've had so much fun. So here is one of the projects that I worked on:

I found this project on the blog A Beautiful Mess and had to try it.

 I found this painting (minus the words) at the Good Will for $10. I found the vinyl letters at the Home Depot for about $3.50. But the problem was that the sentence I wanted on my painting had a lot of letters, specifically a lot of "L's". The package I bought only had 2 or 3 "L's". So instead of buying enough packages to fill my letter quota, I found some vinyl cling stickers at the dollar store, traced the letters onto the stickers, and cut them out with a box cutter. (I'm cheap!) You can also use contact paper, but they were out at the dollar store, and I didn't want to drive to another store to hunt some down.

 After I placed the letters where I wanted them, I spray painted the entire canvas. Once the paint was dry (about 45 minutes), I peeled the letters off. 

finished canvas spray painted over letters
Ta-Dah! The finished product. I love it. It's a little hard to read because there are so many colors, but I'm still pleased with the results. We hung it in the entry way above our front door.

Total cost of the project - $15 (canvas, vinyl letters, and vinyl wall cling used to cut up. I didn't buy spray paint. Instead I used some that I had leftover from a previous project)

Total time working on the project - about 2 hours (excluding drying time. It would have only been about 30 minutes if we didn't have to trace and cut out all the extra letters).

This was a fun project. You should do it!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Latte!

My husband made me coffee this weekend! Not just any coffee - a Pumpkin Spice Latte! I'm telling you guys, he is amazing. :) I've been craving Pumpkin Spice Lattes since the beginning of September, but I'm also cheap. So I can't justify buying a $4 cup of coffee more than once every 2 weeks or so. (and that's for the small size) Instead I googled "How to make a Pumpkin Spice Latte" and found the recipe! So this weekend we tried it, and I have to tell you, it was great. You can find the recipe here.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Tips on Saving Money with Coupons

I've been fighting the inevitable. I'm sick. I just have to admit it. Blah. It seems that I am more motivated to blog when I am sick - probably because I don't have energy to do anything else! Today I had plans to join my mom friends on an outing and to go grocery shopping. But I have done neither. Instead I've spent the day on the well as taking care of my son.

scissors on top of coupons

Since today is usually my day to go grocery shopping, I thought I would share a couple of tips that save me money. I don't talk about this too much, but I love couponing! That's right, I am a coupon clipper. I guess I don't talk about it too freely because of the crazy reputation that some of the couponers have as "food hoarders". So before I go any farther, I want to let you guys know that I am not anywhere near being close to people on the show Extreme Couponing. I do have a very small food stash (that fits into my pantry), but honestly don't have the room in my house to have a stockpile of food. So I get what I need and sometimes a little bit extra, but that's it! All of  my "skills" that I've learned have been gained through trial and error, friends, and online coupon research.

Here are a couple of tips that I've learned along the way:
  • Keep in mind that the shopping trips that you see on the show Extreme Couponing are exaggerated! The people who go on that show plan and gather coupons for months before their shopping trips. The purpose of their shopping trip is usually to purchase as much as they can by spending the least amount possible. Have you ever noticed that they rarely buy fresh produce or meats?? (I said rarely, not never). On the show, it's less about buying what you need, and more about buying what will provide you with the biggest discount. The purchases made on that show is more about the "wow" factor than anything else. So don't feel bad when your purchase is more than $25!!
  • Clip as many coupons as you can! One of the biggest resources for coupons are newspapers. They have different inserts - Smart Source, P&G, and Red Plum. When you come across several coupons in a paper that you find useful, buy another paper or two. That way you can buy several of those items in the coupons at a discounted price (or you can buy the coupon inserts without the newspaper online). You can also find coupons online on websites like, print them out, and use them at the stores. Also stores like Kroger offer digital coupons that you can download and use in their stores when you belong to their rewards program.
  • Keep your coupons organized! When using coupons, it's important to be able to keep track of them and find them quickly and easily. There are different ways to organize them. Some people use boxes, some people use binders, there are many ways. I use a three ringed binder with baseball card holders to keep my coupons and organize them by isle.
  • Join a rewards programs. There are so many stores that have rewards programs - Kroger stores, Albertsons, Walgreens, CVS, the list goes on. Join the rewards program at the grocery store that you shop at, or consider shopping at a store that has a rewards program. I shop at Smiths, which is a Kroger store. Their rewards program mails coupons to me after every quarter to use exclusively at their store. I also get rewards for using their pharmacy and I get discounts at certain gas stations when I shop at Smiths as well!
  • Wait for the items to go on sale before using your coupons! I hear this argument all the time "Well, I've realized that even when I clip the coupons, it's always cheaper to buy the generic brand." Wrong! The key is to wait until that item goes on sale and then use the corresponding coupon for the item. This way you get double the discounts! And don't just buy one (unless it's all you have room for)! Buy a couple of them if you have more than one coupon for the item!
  • Plan your shopping trip. Before you go on your grocery shopping trip, it's very very important to make a list of everything you plan on buying, otherwise you will end up a disorganized mess, and won't save nearly as much money. I use the app Grocery IQ on either my iPad or my cell phone. It allows me to make a list, add quantities, check off items, and make notes. Wonderful. I'm sure that some people think I'm crazy when I walk around the grocery store carrying an iPad, but I'm not so worried about that. :)
  • A couple of online resources - There are so many of online resources to help you get started saving money and using coupons. These tips are just a couple of ways. Here are a couple of websites that I find useful. Coupon Divas, Hip2Save, and Couponing101. There are plenty more. Just try a google search for "how to coupon" and you will get a wealth of information.
Couponing is not hard,  but it does take a little work and a little organization. Anyone one can do it, it's just a matter of getting the hang of things. It's totally worth the effort when you see how much money you can save. You can do it!