First day of second grade…

First Day of Second GradeSometimes you just can’t take life too seriously! And, I mean how can you if you’re an elementary level educator?

When my children were younger I took the usual “first day of school” photos. You know the ones, with fresh little haircuts, new clothes, shiny kicks and brand new backpacks.

Fast forward (completely too fast), and now my children are older and I don’t get those photo-ops too often.

Last year around this time, I popped on Facebook one morning and was flooded with all the “first day” photos of my friends’ children, grandchildren, family members, etc.; at that moment, my daughter was on her way out the door for her last semester of college. She was student teaching and it was her first day of first grade. So, I quickly printed off a little sign for her to hold (“First Day of First Grade,” not to be out done by all those new moms.) and grabbed my camera… You know I had to right!? My friends in Facebook-World loved it.

How quickly time does fly… As we now have found ourselves in August of the following year, this year and my daughter is an official brand new, fresh out of college, bonafide 2nd Grade Teacher!

The first day of school started hectic, so I guess some things never change and I was out the door that morning before she even started getting ready. I pleaded with her before I left, “Take a first day selfie and text it to me.” She agreed. Next thing I knew it was nearing 11 am and still no selfie. I text her, “I know it’s your first day and things are probably crazy, but you only get one first day… So, don’t forget to take a quick selfie.” This was a little extra important today as she had already planned to take one with her entire class (Would that still be a “selfie”? IDK).  Anyway, she had her selfie-stick and had printed off 27 little signs that read, “First Day of 2nd Grade” for her whole class to hold.

Next thing I knew, the day was practically gone. The suspense was making me nuts; then about 3:30 pm, I finally, get a reply. She had taken a group photo that morning and was just now sending it to me. The day had been so busy she didn’t even get to eat her lunch, she explained. She had another hour to wrap things up and then she was headed home. I didn’t have the heart to ask her, if she ever got a selfie of just her-selfie. But, I had a plan… [insert evil grin].

I figured by the end of the day, her fresh face and curled locks would end up haggard and pony-ed up, and sure enough, she walked in drained and ready for a nap. I looked at her as I stood in the kitchen cooking dinner and said, “I have an idea.” I got the-look. Then, I went on to say, “You don’t have to fix your hair or makeup or anything…”

You see, the thought had crossed my mind during the day, instead of a perfect back to school photo, let’s do something a little not-so-perfect, with maybe an over-the-top touch of silliness. My new little teacher was worn out, hair flat, clothes disheveled, tired and hadn’t eaten; that’s a little more realistic look from a teacher’s first day, I think. It didn’t take much explaining for her to see the funny in it all. We ran back to her classroom and props were laying everywhere begging to be in the photo, new supplies by the dozens, books, hand-sanitizers, etc. It was all there for the using and all too perfect! The rest is history, so they say.

We hope you enjoy her “First Day of Second Grade” photo. Not typically what we see shared on social media, but so perfectly typical of the first day of school. Okay, maybe not this silly, but you get the idea!

Yardzee: Yahtzee, only bigger…

Yardzee: Yahtzee only bigger...

I have to admit in all my years, I’ve never heard of “Yardzee”. How is that even possible? I feel like I’ve let my fam down. Countless cookouts, BBQ’s, outdoor birthday parties, camping trips and holiday adventures and we’ve never played Yardzee!? I’m nothing if not a lot bummed by the thought of it all.

Our family enjoys outdoor gatherings and we always bring out everything we can think of to entertain the masses, volleyball, horseshoes and of course, “Washers,” our family’s go-to outdoor game. Well, after a recent mini vacay that ended with a road trip through Waco, Texas to see the Magnolia Market, all my daughter had been talking about were Chip and Joanne’s lawn games. More specifically, Cornhole! She wanted us to make our own Cornhole game. So, off to Pinterest I went to research measurements for the game and of course every lawn game ever invented popped up and low and behold, I laid my eyes on Yardzee for the first time and to my surprise it popped-up over and over again. How have I missed this craze?

New to me, I was instantly excited and felt this could be easily created. And, I was not wrong, it’s definitely easy to make, but can get time consuming.

All you’ll need is one to two 4X4’s from your local hardware store, depending on how many dice you want. We chose to make enough dice for everyone to have their own, but you could easily share and take turns. We decided to make enough for a 6 person game.

Yardzee: Yahtzee only bigger...

A 4X4 isn’t exactly 4 inches, it’s more like 3.75″. So, we placed a mark at 3.75 inches and used a chop-saw to cut the wood; after the first one we used the block as a guide for the rest. That was the easy part! We then used a palm sander to sand all sides and rounded off the edges to match the factory edges. That was very time consuming, but not as time consuming as adding the dots.

Yardzee: Yahtzee only bigger...

 

After the blocks were nice and smooth we wiped them down with a damp cloth and then sealed with a clear Polyurethane. At this time you could paint or add some fun colors if you choose, but we were going for a more natural look. So, we just used the Poly. We let the blocks dry overnight.

Yardzee: Yahtzee only bigger...

Endless Dots: We looked into several ways to add the dots/circles to our dice. Some people drilled holes, but we wanted to spread out the work amongst a few people. Some used vinyl sticker sheets and a hole punch, but we figured even the stickers for outdoor use would eventually peel back, especially with damp grass and dirt. Some painted the dots, but the OCD side of me figured that would get frustrating very quickly. So, I landed on using Sharpies. They worked like a charm. We used nickles to trace the perfect size dots and then used a Sharpie to fill them in.

The Number Pattern: All opposite sides should add up to 7. So, 1 will go opposite 6, 2 opposite 5, 3 opposite 4, you get the idea!

Added Fun: I created a “Yardzee” scoreboard in Photoshop (using Yahtzee as an example) and then had it printed at Staples for about $3.50. I then framed it in a poster frame from Walmart so we could use a dry-erase marker and use it over and over again. I used a two-part magnet and hot glued one side to the marker and one side directly to the poster board, to keep track of the marker. Also, in making the scoreboard, I left off the bonus point lines and the lines to add upper and lower sections and just streamlined the categories.

Buckets: The blocks are a handful, but honestly even my 7 year old niece was able to pick them up and roll them on the ground; however, adding a galvanized bucket for each player to carry their dice around and then use the bucket to roll their own dice was an AWESOME thing and super cute!

I see our fam using this game for years to come!

Now, go build your own outdoor family Yardzee game! You’ll be happy you did!

It was a smashing good time…

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I personally feel like this is a brilliant idea. I mean, why not? Every adult should have their very own “smash cake” photo shoot! Why should they be for just the littles?

A friend shared this idea with me a week ago and I was instantly excited. I had never seen this done before, not with an adult. Sure, I’ve seen it done with first birthdays time and time again. I’ve even taken some of these themed photos for my clients, but NEVER, not once, for an adult.

I instantly went to Pinterest. You know the place you go to find out a million other people thought of your idea first, lol?! Well, to my surprise, very little popped up. I knew it, I knew it seemed like an amazingly unique idea.

I was chomping at the bit to do this photo shoot, but my daughter, the one that get’s rooked into most of my trial ideas had just had her birthday in January. Not long ago, but long enough that I couldn’t pull off a shoot and say the photos were from her birthday; if I planned to share them on social media, that is. But, wait a minute, my son’s birthday was just days away, and not just any birthday, but a somewhat milestone… His 25th!

I eased him into the conversation, showed him some samples, explained the concept and my ideas. He gave me that, “Mom really?” look, I promised to keep it short and painless. A few little whiny “Oh, come-ons.” later and he said, “Okay.” I mean, he’s nothing if not fun. Further more, because even though I had found a few via Pinterest, the numbers representing “the guys” were pretty much non-existent and by that I mean, I found like one. So, it was game on!

I say, “DO IT!” Bribe your teens, con your 20-somethings, throw a bottle of wine at your 30-somethings, bring back some memories for your 40-somethings, and so on and so on. Whatever it takes, this is a must do photo shoot for family and friends of all ages.

We all should take those moments to feel like a kid again and what better way to do that than with an everything old is new again idea… The “smash cake!” It will be a smashing good time, I guarantee! And, there’s no better timing or more perfect excuse for an impromptu cake fight.

A few tips: To make it all seem like a real “smash cake,” you have to think 1st birthday props (e.g. chalkboards, balloons, party hats, birthday clothes, a real cake, etc.), but don’t forget the fun twists for adults (e.g. a glass of wine, a bottle of beer, your not-so-small birthday numbers, etc.). And, plan on getting messy; that’s part of the fun.

Happy smashing!

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“It was a smashing good time…”

Not all who wander are lost…

Not all who wander are lost...

We may have felt lost wandering down some Texas back-roads, but the moment we drove up to the Junk Gypsy World Headquarters we knew we were home. Located in Round Top, TX it’s the junkin’ home of Amie and Jolie Sikes, sisters from a “free-spirited family with an addiction to flea markets.”

When my daughter, my two nieces and I took off on an 8 day road-trip to Disney World over Spring Break we knew one of our many stops would have to be antique-row (AKA, Round Top, TX). We’ve loved everything about the sisters and their show “Junk Gypsies” since we first saw it appear on HGTV a few years back, and it’s been on our “Must See” list ever since.

The show and the family speak to our vintage hearts as we seem to all share a kindred spirit when it comes to junk! I love their whimsical outlook on life, their flare for country chic’ design and their willingness to just get in there and create as they use their imagination to turn trash into funky treasures. It’s exactly what my daughter and I set out to do every chance we get.

We loved our trip through Round Top, but we definitely didn’t spend long enough. Not having a trailer or room in our vehicle we refrained from too much antiquing this time around. We look forward to a return trip to attend the “Junk-o-Rama” prom one day and hitting this winding road of goodness during “Antiques Week”.

To be honest the picture above was a fluke. We were told the Wander Inn was located on the back of the property, but that it wouldn’t be opened for at least 3 more months. As we were leaving we took pics of all the little houses on the property (as we’ve seen them all made-over all their TV show), and continued to follow the winding road. In front of the houses there was a fence with a sign that read, “No Trespassing.” So, we abided and continued down the path to the Inn, the whole time I kept asking my posse, if they’d seen a sign that said, “Closed, Do Not Enter, STOP, etc.” They kept replying, “No.” So, we drove on, got out took a few pics and returned to our vehicle. As we were leaving, I saw a sign that said, “Employees Only.” Oops, the sign was small and white and looked like the letters had all about been washed away from the rain. Had I not been right beside it, I wouldn’t have seen it. So, I guess we got lucky. Sorry gypsy sisters, no disrespect intended. We promise! Beautiful place, can’t wait till it’s officially open and we can see the inside for now I’ll just replay the remodel on my DVR, lol.

Royers Restaurant

Fabulous Alert: We didn’t leave town without stopping for a mouth-watering masterpiece at Royers Cafe. Where they have world famous pie! It’s also, a place you must stop if you venture down that way

Bud the Pie Man

360 degrees of fun…

360 degrees of fun...

With my daughter fresh out of college and starting her new career as an elementary school teacher or is it educator? I don’t know, either way, you had to know it was only a matter of time before we tackled a bookshelf project. Right?! And, that we did!

360 degrees of fun...

This weekend while shopping at our local Habitat for Humanity we picked up an old wooden electric spool for $10. It was a smaller spool and perfect for our bookshelf project. (Side note: Never miss an opportunity to grab an old wooden spool. No matter the size, these things can be used to make coffee tables, end tables, any tables really, wall art, clocks, just about anything.) We paid for this one in order to have ours immediately and the money goes to a good cause at HFH, but as I’ve mentioned before, you can often get spools for free at electric companies, hardware stores, etc. Lowe’s in fact has them for free, but you sometimes have to put your name on a list and wait for your turn and availability. Still worth it!

360 degrees of fun...

Now, back to the project… We started by removing any loose staples and sanding down rough edges. We sanded a little more than normal sense this was going to be used by children and we wanted to avoid splinter issues. For this we used an electric palm sander.

The most difficult part of this project was adding a shelf. It wasn’t necessary, but we felt it was too large without one and would leave too much wasted space if we didn’t opt for the shelf. You may not find this necessary if you have a smaller spool or larger books!

To add the shelf, we set the spool on top of some scrap 1/2 inch plywood, traced a circle around the outer edge and then used a jigsaw to cut it out. For the inner circle, we took the largest distance from the center to the outer edge of the spool (nothing is ever even on these things) and using a marker held at that distance on the tape measure and the other end hooked to the outer edge of the spool as a guide drew our circle, which was also cut out by the jigsaw. The shelf board was later cut in half to avoid taking the spool apart to attach.

360 degrees of fun...360 degrees of fun...

Next, we took a rope and ran it around the outer edge of the spool and then measured the length of the rope to determine the circumference of the spool, we subtracted 2″ and divided by 10; the number of dividers we wanted. (We bought 5 dowel rods for $2.28 each at Lowe’s and cut them in half.) OUR number came out to 11.25″. So, every 11.25″ we marked a spot 2″ from the edge of the spool, yours will be different (A tape measure works great for this, as it’s flexible enough to curve around the edge.) Then we drilled 5/8″ holes at every mark, the size of the dowel rods we were using. We started with the shelf first, because we later used the shelf piece as a template to mark the holes on the top and the bottom of the spool. (Note: The bottom holes were only drilled halfway down, just enough to hold the rods in place.)

360 degrees of fun...

After all the holes were drilled, we made sure all the dowels fit. Then we removed the rods to attach the shelf. To attach the shelf we used 6X10″ L-brackets (We found these at Walmart for .84 cents each.)These will add extra support for your books later. Be careful to keep your holes aligned when attaching the shelf. We then ran the dowels through the top and the middle shelf, and anchored them into the bottom holes, all the way around. We applied wood glue, to the top, middle and bottom of the dowels. We also applied a wood glue and saw dust mixture (You could also use wood filler.) to the areas where the shelf was cut and put back together, to keep these areas as seamless as possible.

360 degrees of fun...

After the glue dried, we used the palm sander again to smooth down the entire surface. At this point we added four 4″ heavy duty casters (Purchased from O’Reilly’s). Weight-wise each caster could probably hold 250 lbs., this size was not needed for weight, we wanted the larger chunky wheels purely for looks.

When the bookshelf was complete we painted it with white chalk paint (See our recipe for homemade chalk paint here!) After the paint dried we used the palm sander once more to heavily distress the piece, used a damp cloth to wipe off all the dust and sealed with a clear varnish.

The casters were the most expensive part of this project. They can range anywhere from $5-15 each depending on size and where you get them (Lowe’s, Walmart, online, etc.). So, if you have an old unused shelf or tool box sitting around with wheels I would suggest you reuse them and save the $. Casters are another thing you should always grab at auctions or garage sales if you see them!

Now go make yourself a cute little 360 degree bookshelf for your class, your child’s room or heck this would even be fun to have in your living room as an end table or coffee table. The possibilities are endless.

Happy repurposing people!

Repurposing ’round the clock…

Repurposing 'round the clock Repurposing 'round the clock
It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for junk or the otherwise discarded. I just can’t stand to see things thrown away, especially if you can repurpose them in to some creative goodness.

Not sure how this idea popped into my head. I suppose like most ideas these days you think, “Eureka! I’m so darn creative!” then after a little research on Pinterest you find out a hundred other people have already thought of that idea, lol. Well, never-the-less, my mother has an old electrical spool out by her garage that she uses as an outdoor table and every time I’ve seen that thing my mind wonders with ideas. Most recently, the idea of creating another clock came to mind. (Been there, done that, see… “Refurbing ’round the clock“.)

So, the hunt was on for a spool. Oddly enough, they’re not that hard to find if you know your resources. My mom got hers for free at our local Lowe’s. Sometimes you have to put your name on a list and wait your turn, but worth it for FREE. Also, about a month ago I had seen that Habitat for Humanity had several dropped off for resale. I never mind buying discarded items there as the profits go to help give homes to those in need. And, lastly, check with your local electrical departments, often times you’ll find that City and private companies usually toss these.
Repurposing 'round the clock

Once we acquired the spool the work began. My daughter and I, both with wrenches in hand, tackled the demolition. The rods; although, they run all the way through the spool are actually only threaded about 3 inches. With her on one side (wrench in hand) and I on the other (wrench in hand) we started… I would hold my end tight while she spun off the bolts on the other. This took a lot of elbow-grease and sometimes we both had to apply torque in different directions as the bolts were very rusty, but eventually we removed them all. At this point the wooden spool just fell apart.

We did little prep work to the piece we had removed. I literally just took a broom to sweep off all the dirt and used a damp wash cloth to wipe it down. Next, we dry brushed it with white paint and used some homemade stencils and black paint pens to create the look we wanted. (Just look at our shabby homemade, FREE stencil, lol.)

Repurposing 'round the clock

After the paint dried I used a palm sander to age the look of the fresh paint and remove any splinter hazards, wiped clean again with a damp cloth and sealed with some paste wax.

Lastly, I had my son cut the rods down with a chop saw so we could return the rusty parts that make old pieces so fabulous. To do this we just hot-glued the pieces back in the holes.

Viola’ shabby chic’ art. Not for everyone, but perfect for me!

These spools come in all sorts of sizes, but if you decide to go with the mack-daddy one like I did (Quite frankly, I think the size makes it awesome.) make sure to use heavy duty brackets and lag bolts and attach directly to your wall-studs. This one weighs a whopping 133 lbs., and you don’t want that falling on anyone or anything!

A nod to the Junk Gypsies (whom I love) as I used one of their quotes “Home is wherever I roam” for this not so little project.

Refurb, repurpose, reuse… ALWAYS! Happy creating!

Bibbidi bobbidi that’s not a pumpkin…

Bibbidi bobbidi that's not a pumpkin...I don’t know if it’s because the new “Cinderella” movie is coming out or if it’s my life long obsession with Disney, but for several days now all I’ve done is sang “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo” and created all things princess-like, lol.

This last weekend’s project is case in point! Who says you need a Fairy Godmother? We created our makeshift carriage out of found and discarded items. A coffee table, broken mirror frame, vintage bicycle, old prom dress and some scrap wood and… “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo!”

I guess you can say, just about anything can be repurposed and it’s one of my favorite things to do. We took the coffee table (which was missing the glass from the top) and added some 1/2 inch plywood for stability for a base and then built a 3 sided box on top using scrap wood. Then we removed the rims from an old bicycle and attached to the table legs by drilling holes large enough to fit the hub hardware already on the bike. At this point we spray painted the base gold.

When the paint was dry, we took an old prom dress, cut it in sections and used a staple gun to attach the lace and fabric to the inside of the box. We also, draped the fabric across the front and sides and used the ties to make little bows for extra accents. Next we used the preexisting holes to screw the mirror to the front of the box.

Some anchors were created for extra support and extra fabric was used to line the box. We tossed in throw pillows to cozy the piece up and now it’s perfect for a princess photo-shoot.

This was a fun and inexpensive repurposing project. We were able to make use of several; otherwise, trashed items.

Now get to repurposing your pumpkins people!