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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Teacher Apprciation

As the season for teacher gifts draws closer, I thought I might share what I did once.

I was given the office of collecting for the teacher's gifts, and decided to make cards to add them to. The kids all signed the inside to make it special.
Some card stock, ribbon, and an exact-o-knife... BAM!

I hope you enjoyed this! Let me know what YOU did for your teachers!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Best 4 year old Party

If you love the outdoors, ranches, or horses, you will love this!

I am super behind on posting. While looking through my pictures, and my blog, I realized that I never posted about this party. It would be a HUGE shame not to share. So here I am, two years after the fact posting about it, but since the people who attended are still talking about it... here goes.
My daughter is nuts about horses. Still is. She loves going to the ranch and riding with me, AND wearing boots. The girl wears pink boots almost everyday. If fact I used her first toddler boots as center pieces, since they were so cute I hated to part with them.

I asked if I could have her birthday party at the ranch my mom's horses are at.  Given the go ahead we borrowed one of the ponies for horse rides, and my mom's draft horse, Duke, also got drafted for kiddy rides. Parents did sign wavers, and kids did wear helmets. I paid a couple of the teenage riders at the ranch for the help. They were awesome with the kids walking them around the arena.

All the kids got cowboy hats and bandanas.
The party was for brunch. So Bagels, fruit and eggs made a very simple food selection.

Horse Shoe Craft! Kids got Golden, or Silver, horse shoes to decorate to add their horse-ride picture to after the party.
I also had a table with a bunch of options for kids to make their own Trail Mix.
Duke is being good in the background.
No party is complete without CupCakes!

Table reimagined

I have a table, and it works. It just isn't as sturdy as I would like, especially with two kids and a husband who beats it up, hangs on it, puts all their weight on their elbows, etc. But with life going one, I just couldn't think of a valid argument in favor of purchasing another table.

Enter fate. My aunt recently took all her furniture out of storage. She wasn't interested in keeping the table because it didn't match her "new" kitchen and had a bunch of warped/damaged places on top. "You want it? Take it!" So another project was born.

What is funny is that I really had a HUGE list of projects already, but this item is too large to store in my husband's office so quickly made it to the top of my list. I got started much faster than I probably would have, but when the husband asked every day when (if) the table will ever get done, it is time to head over to Home Depot for the stain and some more sandpaper.
I chose a Black Cherry finish and used a gel stain so that it would be a faster process. I am very happy with the finished product! I just have to find a picture of my table!!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

"New" Patio

The before.
Dead tree and happy tree living in concrete wasteland.
 I have this nice large patio.
The only problems were:

  1. It was ugly.
  2. Its was concrete.
  3. It had cracks with termite eaten wood sticking out of them to trip over.
Termite eaten 2x4s 
These reasons made this space unusable as an entertainment space, a child play space or a garden.

We have lived here nearly eight years and I was done. It was time for it to go! 

A few factors pushed me to get this done all of the sudden: a neighbor who a bunch of wood ears that they never used offered it (YEA!) and we got a dog.

First step was to get rid of the concrete sea and the wood from the cracks. 

 At the back we decided to take out a large area of concrete to have a space for grass (the dog is happy!), a planter and a garden. I am so happy with the results of all this work.

The older pieces of wood were treated to strip and clean. This was a lot of work but very effective and inexpensive. I also cleaned the fencing separating us from our neighbor since he was not interested in replacing his fence. By cleaning and staining it, it matches the rest of our fencing and blends in.

At $2 a dog-eared wood piece, we saved about $200 by cleaning the old wood given to us. We still had to buy some new wood, but we reused as much as we were able to. There was one or two that were not able to be used.

Since my husband and brother were doing so well wielding the rented jack hammer, I also had them take out the concrete path that leads to the gate. While I just wanted concrete there anyway, the concrete puddled and was not set evenly to begin with. So I had to go look for pavers.

I was able to reuse the left over pavers from a project my mom did at her house. She had the front and back patio paved at her house and a bunch of leftovers! Some of the pavers were mismatched, but that is because she had many samples to look at and the salesmen never took their concrete away. Lucky me.

I did have to purchase a few pavers to finish the job, which made me very grateful for having the free pieces since the sticker price was a bit of a shock. The pavers were set down on top of the smoothed sand.

Lesson learned: even a few pavers are a pain in the butt, back, knees, etc. It is a serious job!
Half the fence is done!
Since I relied on the man-of-the-house to make the fence, I moved on to the patio once all the wood was stained ready and waiting to become fencing. I had decided to stain the concrete so it wouldn't be so Fugly.

First step was to power wash and scrub-clean the floor. Then I stained it was a mocha acid stain.
This process was surprisingly fast and easy! I decided to use a sponge and move it around by hand, rather than use a mop. The reason was, (1) the mop cost more than I was willing to spend, and (2) I thought I was more likely to get the look I was going for.

In the end, I could have kicked myself for not doing this sooner. It was SOOO easy and the results were amazing! When the fence came down resulting in no privacy, I was getting so many compliments from neighbors I had never met before. I was floored! Pun intended.

 I had brainstormed many different ways to fill the huge cracks between the concrete slabs. In the end, I decided on the simplest method. The pavers needed the polymeric sand to seal them as a walkway, so I used the same sand. 5 buckets later it looked fabulous!

Once the sand was in place and hardened, I went over the entire floor with a concrete sealer that I bought on Amazon (better reviews and price than Home Depot brand).
The last step was painting the pergola. I was advocating for white, but since I made all the design decisions in this project thus far, I let the husband choose the paint. He chose the chocolate brown and I have no complaints.
In the end, we bought some furniture and I love sitting out there in the morning with my coffee. So peaceful! My kids advocated for a bird feeder. The dog is very content to have his own space to chill when we are not home. I have my garden.

I now have an outdoor space that I can entertain in and isn't embarrassing! We are so happy with the results.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Kitchen Improved

After living in my house for nearly 9 years, we finally were ready to fix our eyesore of a dysfunctional excuse for a kitchen. I was soooo excited. We spent a month designing it and then another two weeks interviewing contractors and pricing out all the pieces. 

Originally we were going to get our 10% off cabinets at Home Depot, but I am very glad we did not go that route. Let me explain. We were going to purchase a cheep cabinet with a kitchen designed (hopefully right) by someone who had never seen or measured our kitchen. Then to use their contractor to install the kitchen would cost more money then we thought right and this cost did not include a plummer, electrician or permits. Ultimately the idea of having the miscellaneous items completed and done right within the time frame scared me. This is why I looked at other options. 

I know I should have posted this months ago (7 months ago actually), but as they say, it is better late then never! 
What we decided:
Extent the useless L shaped kitchen into a more useful U + Walnut expresso cabinets + Light quartz countertop = Kitchen Demolition

The contractor we hired was able to get us much nicer solid cabinets, permits, electrical, plumbing, etc. for the same cost as the low quality home depot cabinets. YEA!

The fun part of redoing the kitchen is moving the entire contents of the kitchen so that we are still able to use some kitchen amenities and have access to food. We managed to work it out with my toaster oven so that some food could be heated.

There were some problems that came up along the way: termites, rats, late cabinet delivery, wrong cabinets installed … Unfortunately the flooring had some water damaged pieces and had to be replaced. Too bad we couldn’t just replace what was there because I really liked having one cohesive floor. Without the budget for flooring, we decided on a tile laminate for 98 cents each square foot. 

The biggest lesson that I learned is that when dealing with a contractor who is never there, you really have to micromanage everything! Double check the plans, insist on sketches, don’t let him buy anything important to you (i.e. sink or fixtures), when he says he can get you something free or for less assume that is BS so you aren’t disappointed.

In the end, I am SOOOOO happy with my kitchen! I love it. It is a dream to cook in and I wish that we had done it sooner!

Then once all the appliances were replaced to match, it looked even better!

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Double Wonderland Party

Guest went down the rabbit hole

I know, I know… it has been an eon since I have posted on here my only excuse is that life gets in the way. I do have a dozen of subjects to write about though!
                 A good resolution for 2014: write my thoughts down more often!
It is a therapy of sorts for me to escape from my mom-duties and just be me (books and paper are much cheaper than a psychiatrist… look I’m saving money already and the year just began! A good start.)  

So for the first post of the year I thought I would share pictures from the Wonderland Party I had for my kids. My son turned 6 and my daughter turned 3 years old and I was too lazy to have two parties so I had one BIG one. I mean big as in props, costumes, and cake. I had a lot of fun putting it together, but I have to say that it was a LOT of work!
For all of the props, I collected cardboard for several months. I really should have taken a picture of my living room at one point because I had stacks of giant boxes and all the random cardboard that I could find. You might be able to appreciate the amount of cardboard cutting and decorating by some of the pictures...

When guests went down the rabbit hole and through the door, they encountered the hats. These were the party favors. Boys could pick top hats or pinwheel hats and ties while the girls got hats and necklaces. 

Most of the girls were more into the dress-up spirit. (My daughter is wearing a different hat in every picture!) The boys seemed to like the hats and gave the ties to their father's to wear.
Some of the other Decorations...
I am very sad that I didn't get a good picture of the table before it was destroyed. We put three 6 foot tables together lengthwise for the "tea party". The tea cups had snacks like fish crackers, raisins and nuts. I used different fabrics down the length and a polka dot fabric as a table runner.
I also had a really cute centerpiece! (I just did not get a picture of it on my pretty table. SO Sad!)
There were so many things to do!
(although the pic was taken later when the kids had already destroyed it)

Bubbles! big and little wands
Play! There is my little 'Alice' going down the slide.
The playset was popular!

The boys found the checker table.

Painting the roses RED!
The Roses were a project! They took FOREVER! But they did turn out good, if I do say so.

 To make them, I used giant cardboard boxes and newspaper. I also found a bunch of leaf shaped paint sample swatches at Home Depot that I took (don't tell, but they were free).
 The process for the bushes was quite an undertaking and I had not seen anything like it on the Internet. First I cut the tops to make them uneven. Then I spray painted the green (spray paint is my new friend!) I didn't take the box stickers off since I couldn't get them off anyway so there was no use worrying about it. Then we took another green to make swirls and add depth.
Once that was dry, I glued the paint samples on there to make 3D leaves and the the roses... but the roses was another process and took several days of dedicated rose cutting, twirling and gluing.

I recruited my little daughter to help paint the "bushes." My husband and sister helped me make several boxes full of roses. I can't even tell you how many times I burned my fingers with the hot glue... ouch!
My big helper
Another cardboard project was strictly for looks,
but I really liked my Wonderland flowers!  

I cut out a bunch of flowers from cardboard boxes of different shapes and sizes. Then I went spray paint crazy.

To assemble: I glued the flowers in layers on top of a pool noodle I bought at the dollar store. I also glued big googly-eyes in the center of the smallest petals. The pool noodle, once sliced down the back, is really easy to put on an iron fence and will stay there without any tape or pleading.
I made a few costumes for this party. My daughter was 'Alice'. My son was the 'King of Hearts'. My husband was the 'Mad Hatter', but he refused to actually dress up except wearing the hat I made him (out of cardboard and fabric!) And I was the 'Queen of Hearts'.
 This picture with my mom shows part of the skirt I made. It is a big poofy thing that I have a crinoline under to make it huge. I like the picture because you can actually see the glasses I worked SOOO hard on. Four dozen frappaccino glasses with my own "Drink Me" stickers. I spray painted the lids different colors and had my husband drill a hole in the center to accommodate a straw. I was able to wash and save the whole set of glasses for the next party! (rejoicing over future cost savings!)

Alice's costume was a blued dyed (because I couldn't find a shirt that color!) shirt with the apron and tulle skirt sewn on. I even made a pocket in the apron--which my daughter loved! The King is very picky about textures so I made his costume out of a plain shirt too. I sewed on the cape with front holder to match the Queen's costume. There are also a few jewels glued on too. Although he wouldn't wear it, I also made him a crown... that one of his friends liked and took home.
Alice & the King... and their Cake!
  The Mad Hatter hat was something! I cut some pieces of cardboard and wrapped it in fabric. There are also spray painted feathers sticking out (which you can't see) of the band.
My sister dressed as another Mad Hatter, but I think one of the kids took off with her hat... In the below picture you can see my skirt a little better... and the Cake!
 This is my first fondant cake. It was a bit of a pain but the result was awesome! The fondant was made from marshmallows (yumm!). The bottom and cheshire cat are made of 2 cake layers while the green Hatter Hat in the center is made of 3 layers. I admit that it looks homemade and not very professional, but it didn't cost as much as a professional cake either. I spent the entire day before making and putting this together. The fondant was made the day before that. I needed my husband's muscles to roll it out since it had hardened in the refrigerator.
Never mind the backwards 3
Here is to a Happy New Year!
Tip Junkie Handmade Projects
Shared at: Anything Blue, Saturday Show & Tell, Make it Pretty,

I would love the feedback of my readers... What types of posts would you like to see here? Crafts? Kitchen Experiments? Kid stuff? Organization? Let me know!