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Easter Baskets for older kids

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Teenagers (and tweens) are tricky. They’re in that no mans land of weirdness, between childhood and (OMG) adulthood.  You know, they want their cake and eat it too. Want a car, with no job. Want freedom, with no responsibilities. I could go on, but I know I’m preaching to the choir.

So now with Easter it leaves me a little confused. A while ago we changed up our Easter egg hunt to include money and cute treats and prizes, which still works pretty good for them. But what about Easter baskets? They don’t sell baskets for older kids, plus they’re usually pretty pricey. So  I just headed out to the store for cute things that they like. Here’s a few of the things I included:

  • nail polish
  • bath loaf
  • socks
  • chocolate bunny
  • Starbucks gift card
  • sunglasses
  • hand lotion

Nothing cost more than $5 and were all similar to stocking stuffer type gifts. I’m figuring that making a basket for older girls would be much easier than for boys, but I’m sure it can be done.

Here’s the finished baskets for Monkey and Turtle D.

As well as the Little One’s basket, which was pretty easy to put together. As long as it’s either pink or has Dora on it she’ll love it!

And after shopping for little trinkets for nearly a week, I realized that I hadn’t gotten Baby J anything! :( So here’s her pitiful little basket.

Hey! She’s too young to be offended!

Paint Chip Art

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Last fall I participated in the Pinterest Challenge (fall edition), hosted by a few of my favorite blogs YoungHouseLove and Bower Power. Well, they’re back again! This time they brought along  The Great Indoors and Hi Sugarplum! Stop by and give them a visit and check out the cool things others have done!

Here’s what I’ve been up to.

Decorating a new home can be challenging.  Decorating a teenager’s room can be even more challenging! When we moved into our new home about two years ago, getting the kids settled into their new rooms was a high priority. However everything many of the suggestions that they had were way too expensive for decor that they could soon grow tired of.

So I scanned the internet looking for cool and colorful ideas and found this. (here)

DIY paint chip artwork inspiration

It was all pretty easy to put together. The hardest part was actually collecting all of the paint swatches. But since we were already in the home improvement stores almost daily (for real) it wasn’t that bad.

DIY Paint Chip Artwork


  • Paint chips in assorted colors
  • Glue (we used rubber cement)
  • mat or board of some type
  • scissors
  • rope light (optional)
  1. Determine your color palate and type of paint chips you prefer.
  2. Estimate the amount of each color needed, and add extra for mistakes.
  3. Collect chips. (Don’t feel guilty for taking so many. If you’re like me, the money I’ve spent in these stores has more than paid for them!) Plus, they’re FREE!!! And if it makes you feel better, collect them over a period of time instead of all at once.
  4. Determine your desired pattern and glue paint chips into place on board. Some chips may need to be cut to accommodate the entire board.
  5. Affix rope lighting to the back of the board.
  6. You’re done! Hang artwork then kick back and enjoy your masterpiece!

Monkey’s favorite color is purple. So we incorporated it, along with other bright and lively hues.

Monkey's DIY paint chip artwork

Here it is back-lit with the rope lights. It looks pretty cool.

artwork back-lit

artwork back-lit with lights off

We accessorized by purchasing a thrift store chandelier and spray painting it a bright color. Then added colorful tissue paper as flames.

thrift chandelier

Painted chandelier with flames

Monkey's room before

Monkey's room after

Easy DIY bookshelf

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Last fall I participated in the Pinterest Challenge (fall edition), hosted by a few of my favorite blogs YoungHouseLove and Bower Power. Well, they’re back again! This time they brought along  The Great Indoors and Hi Sugarplum! Stop by and give them a visit and check out the cool things others have done!

Here’s what I’ve been up to.

I try to cut back on the clutter around the house. So occasionally we purge items that we no longer need or use. However, with Baby J’s arrival that means holding on to many things a bit longer.

Crib, swing, stroller, baby bounce this, baby bounce that, you know, all of the things that I couldn’t wait to get rid of and that includes the many, many baby books. Don’t get me wrong. I love reading to Baby J and the Little One, but there comes a point where things start to get out of hand.

So the Little One helped me tackle the task of creating a separate space for her books.

First we cleared out the shelf. Then we sorted the books. She liked this step because she got to point out all of the “baby books”. From there……well the books stayed stacked up for a few days as I tried to figure out how I was going to make the Little One a book shelf. And she reminded me several times that she NEEDED a book shelf so that she could put her books away. :)

So this is the basic look I was going for. Not so much the style, but I like the slim profile of it and how it’s not free-standing, but is attached to the wall. I wanted to take advantage of the space behind their bedroom door, so this wall mounted style was ideal. You can check how it was created here.This can be done a number of ways. This is what I did.

A while ago when the Borders in town was closing and selling everything in the building I picked up these two shelves (of some sort) for $1 a piece. So here’s what I started with.

Other supplies/tools I used were scrap wood, wood glue, circular saw and paint.  I used a leftover piece of pegboard and placed my “shelf” over it to trace the bottom board of the shelf. Next, using the circular saw I cut it out, then glued the two pieces together. After it  dried I primed and painted the two shelves.

I attached two keyhole fasteners to each shelf, and drilled two keyhole screws into the wall.

And the finished product.

The Little One and I are pretty proud. She now has her own bookshelves just for all of her “big girl” books.

Rolling in the dough

It can be hard at times to keep a toddler entertained. Sure, they love Nick Jr and Sprout, but what about options that don’t include the tv? And now that it’ getting cooler outside, the options are even more limited.

The Little One is now in the “I want to help” stage. Which can be cute for about as long as it takes for her to make a mess, which isn’t too long.  That means that any activity that allows her to “help” is a plus. So I decided that we’d make homemade play-dough.  I used a simple recipe that was pretty easy to do and fun for the Little One.

I premeasured all the ingredients so that all the Little One had to do was pour everything into the pot and mix. Here’s the recipe.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 Tablespoon cream of tartar
  • food coloring
  • rubber gloves

Mix all ingredients (except for the food coloring) in a pot on low heat. Eventually it will begin to

look like mashed potatoes.

Let cool.

Knead dough until it is smooth.

Separate dough into four sections and roll into balls.

Use your thumb to press a well into the center of it.                                                

Place several drops of food coloring into the dough balls.

Knead coloring into the dough. Use rubber glove so that your hands don’t get stained.

Add more food coloring  to achieve the desired color.

The Little One loved making the play dough. We did it right before I started cooking dinner and while I cooked she entertained herself. But just when I thought to remind her not to mix up our pretty colors that we just made, I went over to see this.

Oh well!

Marquee Alphabet Light

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Last week I did my usual blog rounds and saw over at YOUNGHOUSELOVE that they were having another Pinterest challenge, along with “house of earnest” and Bower Power. I didn’t participate in the first one, but did enjoy seeing all the neat projects that their readers completed. I seriously spent hours just browsing and linking to various blogs. So this time I wanted to get in on the action. BUT, we had plans for the weekend, so there was no time to scour the web for inspiration and then attempt to recreate it. So instead I’m sharing a project that I previously did. Hope you enjoy.

The finishing touches in a room can really make a difference. I always browse the web, and window shop for cool accessories that match our taste, style and almost as important……. our budget.

I saw these marquee lights and wanted to get a “L” for our last name. However the prices are always a bit too much for a mere accessory. This one is available at Urban Outfitters for $179 :(

So of course I decided that the next best thing would be to make one myself. Initially, I thought I would make a light that ACTUALLY worked. But after planning out the project that seemed a bit more complicated than I wanted. Instead I settled on creating one that is purely just for looks.

my version

Here’s how I did it.


large paper mache letter  -$3.50 (with a 40% off coupon)

acrylic paint   -already had

paint brush  -already had

exacto knife  -already had

mini silver Christmas ornaments  -$1

glue gun  -already had

Total=  $4.50 !!!!


Carefully cut the face of the letter off using the exacto knife. Discard.

Paint all surfaces of the letter.

After it dries, measure where the light bulbs (ornaments) will go (evenly spaced),  and mark with a pencil.

Using the exacto knife, cut small holes at each mark.

Pull the hook portion off each ornament.

Put a ring of glue around the bottom end of ornament and insert into holes.

This was  a really simple project to do and I was surprised at how well it turned out. I love it.  And it  cost less than $5 to make. It’s a great addition to the room and  looks like the real versions.

Play Kitchen

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Last week I did my usual blog rounds and saw over at YOUNGHOUSELOVE that they were having another Pinterest challenge, along with “house of earnest” and Bower Power. I didn’t participate in the first one, but did enjoy seeing all the neat projects that their readers completed. I seriously spent hours just browsing and linking to various blogs. So this time I wanted to get in on the action. BUT, we had plans for the weekend, so there was no time to scour the web for inspiration and then attempt to recreate it. So instead I’m sharing a project that I previously did. Hope you enjoy.


We’ve been pretty busy around here lately with the arrival of Baby J.

Actually, it’s not that there’s that much going on, but when you can’t remember what day it is, because of lack of sleep, everything just starts to blur together.

So I thought I’d share a project I did for the Little One’s birthday, late this summer. I’ve been seeing these cool play kitchens all over the web. Like this one from Pottery Barn Kids. It’s a bit more retro than I like, but it’s still cool enough for me to wish I had it as a kid. But the price!!! Ummm… it’s $699 for all four pieces. Which is too steep for my taste, especially for a toy.

Pottery Barn play kitchen

But luckily there are some pretty amazing DIY versions out there that convinced me that I could totally pull this off for the Little One in time for her birthday. Since I was pregnant all summer and started to show signs of slowing down, I  decided that I should start well in advance. As I gave myself a couple of months, to compensate for my procrastination issues. And this time I had quite a bit of help from my parents.

So this is what I started with. Two old nightstands, and some random but perfect cabinet of some sort that I found at Goodwill. Doesn’t it look like a refrigerator?!

I wanted to spend as little as possible on this project, considering that I didn’t even know if the Little One would play with it. But I still thought it was worth the try because she’s still way too young to object to a homemade gift. :) Now the older two are a whole ‘nother story.

Here’s a list of all materials I used and the cost:

two nightstands (stove and dishwasher) -free already  had

cabinet (refrigerator)- $15

primer- free already had

four cans of spray paint- $16

sand paper

wood glue

decorative finishings- $5

interior of appliances- $5

pots and pans- $5

pretend food- $10 already had half

The plan was to make a refrigerator, stove and sink/dishwasher. We basically just figured it out as we went. And it was a lot of fun. Here’s two of the pieces after the first two coats of red paint. At first we hid the process from the Little One, but after a while she saw us as we worked, but didn’t seem too interested. Maybe she wasn’t impressed!

This probably could have been completed in a weekend or two, but I didn’t have my cape on. In fact, I think it’s been out at the cleaners for months now. (or lost at the bottom of the hamper) :)

Here’s the finished project.

So on her birthday she acted as though it were a complete surprise. And she loved it. She’s been playing with it ever since, making “cookies” and having tea parties. I’ve crossed my fingers that she wouldn’t lose interest in the kitchen, but today, nearly four months later she’s still playing with it.


I like to call myself a jack of all trades. I mean, there isn’t much that I won’t try to tackle myself. But it does take me some time to get started. You know, I’m kind of like your old car. It may take a while for it to gain momentum and get rolling, but once it does, there’s no stopping it. That was all just to say that, well I’m a procrastinator. Whew! I said it. Yes, I daydream, plan, put off, forget, re-plan, and then get to moving. But My husband Antonio is the complete opposite. Some people may call it a bit impulsive, but the man does not play. Once he’s almost certain that something needs to be done, the ball is already rolling. Which (although I may be rolling my eyes) I do admire.

So awhile ago I got the itchy feeling that I get when I must, I mean, absolutely must do one of my projects. This time it was an empty wall in our family room that was irking me to death. The wall is visible from the front door when you come into the house, and it kept bothering me how blank it seemed. I mean, are we those people? You know the ones who’ve lived in their house for five years without putting ten holes in the wall. No. So after much debate and thought I decided to create a piece of large art for the wall.

(Blank wall)

With that decided I went in search for the needed supplies with my 40% coupons in hand. However, because of the size of the wall the canvas was still going to cost at least $40. Ummm, no. Luckily before leaving the store I checked out my favorite section (the clearance isle) and there was a ray of sunlight shining down on a 4 pack of canvases marked down from $48 to $9.  And then I even found the good acrylic paint usually $7 a tube for $1 because they were discontinuing the brand. So it was my lucky night. Once I got everything home………………..well there was a lapse in execution (procrastination) as I pondered what to paint. A few days later I enlisted the help of my original helper, Monkey, to paint the canvases. We decided to do an abstract piece mainly because, well…. because we  can’t paint! So we just played around with the colors and the texture until we were satisfied with the results.

(Monkey painting.)

Then we went shopping around the house to accessorize the area for free (candle holders and table). And this was the end result and we were all pretty happy.

(Initial end result)

Until….. my technology happy husband had another idea that involved buying  ANOTHER big flat screen tv.  His plan involved installing a 51 inch flat screen in the place of the painting. The family room is very large (it includes the kitchen, dining area, and tv area) but there’s another 56 inch tv in the room!  The plan sounded a bit much. But with my Antonio, that’s not unusual. At our old house he had HIS seat in the living room that he sat in during football season. He loved it because he could watch one game in the living room and turn his head and see the tv in the den to check up on another game. And since football season  is now under way, it was the inspiration for this newest plan, which I was pretty opposed to. But he used his skill of persuasion and noted that this new tv would only be used for:

  1. secondary football games (with no volume)
  2. play music with a screen saver showing
  3. to display photo slide shows

So he won me over. Until the mammoth appliance arrived to the house! It was gigantic. Which meant back to the drawing board. I was perfectly fine with it all going back to the store, but he had other plans. After much planning, he decided we should move our tv that was in our bedroom downstairs to the family room, and put the new tv in its place. This did sound a bit better, because the other tv is much smaller (46 inches) and looks less like a traditional tv because it has a white frame. So three days later (of which we were out of town half of, what’s up WR) his plan was complete.

(Master bedroom BEFORE, with the white tv.)

Master bedroom BEFORE the switch. (months ago)

(Yes, that is a baby under the table. After a long day traveling and shopping at Ikea, she stayed up with me until 3 in the morning while I assembled everything I bought!)

(My movers bringing the table BACK upstairs. I think they need more protein.)

(The new tv upstairs.)

(The master bedroom AFTER the switch.)

The bedroom looks like it was always intended to be this way. We love it.

(Antonio figuring everything out.)

To finish off the family room we bought a new console table and used accessories we already had but weren’t using.

(View from the door)

(Close up)

(View of whole family room AFTER)

I’m usually in charge of our home projects/ decor, but I loved doing this with my husband. We transformed two rooms in a maater of days. It was fun. I doubt if I’ll be able to drag him along to go  shopping for throw pillows, but  I can’t wait to do our next project together. We love the way it all turned out, and most of the credit goes to him for thinking outside of the box. Antonio, you really did a great job. (OK, enough already, stop patting yourself on the back.) :)

Mudroom Artwork

We have a mudroom that’s right off the garage coming into the house. Although we did hang a few hooks and install a diy’d bench a while ago,  it’s still a bit drab and just a spot to drop your things in after a long day.  So in the hopes of helping to inspire a great day at school/work/errand running, we’ve decided to decorate the area a bit.

So here’s a before shot of the area. Of course I could have straightened it up a bit, but that would defeat the point. You know, it’s kind of like those makeup infomercials. The ones that it looks like the before picture was the model’s mugshot after a long night out.

We decided on a few quick diy art projects for the area for several reasons. First they’re cheap, and secondly, they fun to do with the kids. Most of the supplies I had on hand already, thanks to my constant hoarding scoring of sales and marked down items. Hey, you never know when you’ll need another shadowbox missing the glass.

The first piece I worked on was an idea I saw over at deliacreates. Basically, you just take a picture and transfer it to a canvas using a gel medium. The end result is this cool distressed custom piece of art. The instructions are pretty easy, but may take a try or two, so be patient if you try it.  I took a picture of the Little One and blew it up a bit.

Here’s the first try.

It was almost the way I envisioned it, except for the fact that I had rubbed a chunk of her face off the canvas. Opps. So in an effort to correct it I added another layer of the missing piece of her face and repeated the process.  Then I added a bit of color and her newest favorite saying, which happens to be “Ever, ever, ever!” As in “I’ll never, never, never ( insert whatever she doesn’t want to do at the moment)!”

Here’s the finished canvas. I like how it turned out, and I keep catching her looking up at it, so I guess she likes it too.

Next T&D got involved with a melted crayon project that’s been all over the web. I saw it on younghouselove during their Pinterest Challenge, where people were encouraged to diy projects and ideas they had found online. This was our inspiration, and again it seemed pretty simple. I had a huge canvas that I had painted over and the kids figured out how they wanted to crayons positioned.

Ok, the thing is that my husband has on more than one occasion called me cheap. Well not just cheap, but cheap on the wrong things. Like, driving across town and using $2 worth of gas to use a 50 cent coupon. I get it, and have made a point to cut back on my cheapsake ways, but this time I really didn’t think it would matter. Anyways, I was at the store and saw that the crayons were still on sale for back to school. Crayola was 40 cents BUT Rose Art was 20 cent! Even though I prefer Crayola I figured it wouldn’t matter. Mistake #1.

After the crayons were glued to the canvas we sat it outside in the sun. Why use a blow dryer (and 47 cents worth of electricity), like the instructions stated when it’s 200 degrees outside? I mean, what would Bill Nye (the science guy) say? Mistake #2.

So after some time, (cooking dinner and doing homework) we go to check on it, only to find this ugly greasy mess.

What a waste of my canvas and $2! So on to plan B. I bought better crayons and went back to the drawing board. Here’s Turtle D following directions this time.

We did two much smaller canvases with different colors. And they came  out great. Here’s the first one.

And the other.

Afterwards we just arranged the canvases, along with a few other things, like a shadowbow that was missing the glass that I lined with dark cork to make a cool cork board.  Look how neat and organized it looks now!

Here’s another after pic. We like the way it turned out.

Are there porcupines in Georgia?

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A while back I was visiting my usual daily blogs when I saw this amazing mirror over at Get It Girl Style. And with the help of my best bud Google, I found that it was the Horchow “Porcupine Quill Mirror” which sells for a cool $699.90. I love it, I really, really do, but, ummmm, it’s just not gonna happen. Plus, I can do that, right? I just need to run out and grab a few hundred thousand porcupine needles to get started! Ok, so after searching the web and burning a quarter tank of gas driving around town, it was a no go at Michaels, JoAnn AND Hobby Lobby. Which leads me to ask……

Are the porcupines in Georgia?


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