Thursday, August 17

DIY Library Bag (from a $5 Ikea slipcover!)

Our library trips have become more than our favorite bag can handle. Also... we lost it. So it really was time for a new library bag, whether we liked it or not. And thank goodness for that because now we have a bigger, better bag!

Plenty of room for books!

Plus pockets on the outside for bookmarks and summer reading program cards.

And nice long straps for holding it over my shoulder (while wrangling a certain one-year-old who goes all floppy-fish when he's unhappy).

Sunday, August 6

$17.25 Yard Sale Run

Yard sales with three little boys... don't happen too often. So when I had a chance to go with my MIL a few weeks ago, I jumped at it! I think my favorite find of the day was this little $0.25 pot for my succulent survivors

Here's what else I found:
$2 - moon sand
$1 - wooden butterflies
$0 - littlest pet shop (they threw it in with the rest!)
$1 - paper butterflies (brand new from pottery barn!!)
$1 - paint-your-own matrishka doll

Monday, June 26

DIY Clothespin Bag

I've got a quick little project for you today that will go just perfectly with you new clothesline! (you did just put up a clothesline, right?) Grab any old hanger and some scrap fabric, and I'll show you how to make this handy clothespin bag:

It's perfect for keeping my clothes pins corralled and within reach (for even the littlest helper), and makes it easy to bring them inside after I take down the laundry. Bringing those pins in out of the weather will help extend their life and keep them working smoothly.

My bag is full with roughly 140 clothespins in it, and we use almost all of them when the line is full. Granted, I do have some clothespin enthusiasts helping on the lower line. I counted 9 clothespins on one shirt this morning.

I made my bag using a scrap of duck cloth leftover from the apron I made for my mom and lined it with a light canvas fabric that's been sitting in my stash for a couple years (maybe a yard sale find? I don't remember).

Monday, June 5

Old Bricks, Raised Beds, and a Truckload of Dirt

Our garden finally came together a couple weeks ago, and we're so excited to see what happens! We spent several weeks planning, budgeting, and piecing things together. And now we already have little sprouts popping up all around!

At first I planned a few simple rectangle beds like we put in at our last house. But then I came across this garden in an issue of BHG that got my wheels turning a whole different direction.

It looked so lush and peaceful. Where my plan was straight and boring, this garden was creative and flowing. I loved the curved lines, decorative elements, and the mix of flowers with veggies. And so our new garden plan was born. (we post updates like this on Instagram!) We created a pattern of brick-lined raised garden beds tucked in between a few small trees. It's the sunniest spot in the yard and seemed like the natural place for a garden.

So. Raised beds. We felt raised beds would be our best options because the ground is very clay-rich and doesn't drain well. So on top of being easier to weed and maintain, we're hoping raised beds will allow better drainage after rain and give our beds a more fertile start.

Saturday, May 20

DIY Family Clothesline (so the kids can help!)

It's finished! And I love it!!! We've had our clothesline up and running for over a week, and my only regret is not doing it sooner. (if you want don't want to miss sneak peeks of projects like this and other behind-the-scene snippets, follow us on instagram and facebook!)

I like the idea of saving energy, but even more than that I've been looking for ways to spend more of our day outside, which made this a perfect solution for us. I bring the boys out to play, hang up some laundry, and wait for it to dry. Ok, we might not stay out the whole time it dries, but it's a great motivator to get us out the door!

It easily holds a full load of laundry, plus a load of cloth diapers at the same time. If you have a big "laundry day" during the week it may be worth adding a third pole to double your hanging space.

But we haven't even got to my favorite part yet. See it down there?

We snuck in a little child-height line so the boys can help hang the laundry. Or in the little one's case, trail behind removing every single clothes pin followed by an enthusiastic "uh-oh!"

Monday, April 24

Thrifting for Sconces

Every time I look at this title I see "scones." I wish I saw scones every time I looked in the kitchen.

But back on track: I finally hung the second sconce in our bedroom.

I did the first one a few several weeks ago when I built our new crate nightstands... and it didn't go great. There was trial with too much error, and way too many holes in the wall. All of which I chalked up to a combo of bad planning and user error. My bad, guys. It took me a while to work up to doing the other one. 

But after a few weeks of a lamp sitting on my tiny nightstand while the sconce took up my whole dresser, I was ready.  And this time it went much smoother. So hopefully you can learn from my mistakes from the first time around.

But before we get to all that, let me tell you about these scones. This is the recipe I use: Kevin's Famous Scones. And now for the sconces. I knew I wanted something either wall-mounted or hanging since our nightstands have so little surface area to begin with. I had a vague idea of what I wanted - something with moveable arm that would make it easier to reach from bed - but honestly hadn't even started shopping around. Then one day at goodwill BOOM a pair of sconces for $5 each.

Monday, April 17

Polymer Clay Stud Earring Tutorial

Flashback to last Christmas: I'm hunched over my laptop, scouring the interwebs for a pair of "solid color flat circle earrings." It's my sister's Christmas list request. And for the life of me I can't find a pair under $25. As I sat there searching, all I could think was, "There has to be a way to make these."

And sure enough, there is way. It's much cheaper than $25.

These are so easy to make. This is all you need:
  • polymer clay - we used black, gold, green, teal, and pink (you can get them for about $1 at craft stores with a coupon, or order a multi-pack of 24 colors for $10 on Amazon)
  • super glue
  • earring studs and backs (I order them from Crafty Mountain on Etsy)
I used brown cardstock and a tag punch to make display-style cards for earrings, but it's definitely not necessary.

Monday, April 3

My BFF (hint: it's in the laundry room)

I have a new best friend. A friend who cleans up messes, washes paint brushes, and catches dirty laundry. She lives in the laundry room.

It's my utility sink! I am a firm believer that any household with little children needs a utility sink. I need a nice big tub to soak muddy pants, wash muddy shoes (we have a lot of mud), and pre-soak stained clothes. Did I mention little children? We lived here several months without one, but between running all the way to the kitchen to treat a stain and soaking things in the bathtub, it was time.

We bought the sink at Home Depot and found a great all-in-one kit with sink, pull-out faucet, and drain parts all together for just $99. It saved quite a bit over buying those pieces separately. We also found a rocking horse.

Saturday, March 25

The Thrifting Madness

We have five thrift stores near our house. I was raised in a very thrifty family, so without fail every time my mom or sisters come to visit, we hit at least one. Our favorite lately has been the Goodwill Outlet. If you've never been to one before, let me tell you about it. It's like a warehouse, and there are just lines of these big bins filled with everything. And you have to sift through to see what's in them. And every so often they roll them all away and new bins come out and they yell "NO TOUCHING. NO TOUCHING." And most of the stuff in the bins is 0% interesting to me. But the thrill of hunt. That's what gets me. And as you hunt, you start to find a little gem here. A little treasure there. And next thing you know, you have an armload of fantastic stuff. But wait, there's more. You pay by the pound. Which makes for some pretty amazing deals. We had never been to a store like this before. It's so crazy. And now we can't stop won't stop.

The Baby was already paid for.

Tuesday, March 21

Exterior Paint Debate

A couple months ago we asked you guys on Facebook an Instagram how crazy it would be to paint our house red. Verdict = not crazy. At least not too crazy. But Husband still feels a little like this about it:

Not an ideal response, right? So we're still flipping and flopping on a color scheme. But the more I look at the siding, the more I think we may need to paint it this year rather than next. It's time to get serious and make some hard choices. I don't want to put it off and make a frantic decision I regret for the next 5-8 years. So last Saturday we spent the morning hardware store-hopping (it was our cheapest Lowe's trip ever) and I grabbed another stack of paint chips to try out. This time all more neutral colors.

And now - after all this time - I might have made a teeny bit of progress. This feels like such a big decision because we are NOT going to repaint the whole house if I decide I hate it (so yes, we'll definitely be buying a few sample cans). But I think I'm starting to get there so we want to hear your thoughts again:

What do you think would look best on our house?

These pinterest houses are some of my favorites at the moment. I love using pinterest for things like this - I just save anything that really jumps out at me, then as I scroll through my pins I can start to see patterns in what I like. So I've narrowed my scope to gray, white, and three very specific colors.
Okay, let's get started.

Thursday, March 16

Replacing Elastic in Bum Genius Diapers - Cloth Diapers on a Budget

One of our favorite money-saving strategies has been cloth diapering our babies. We've saved even more money by buying some of our diapers second hand. But we're on our third baby now and some of our diapers... aren't looking so hot anymore. And worse, aren't working so hot.

As any cloth diaper parent will tell you, elastic wears out over time. It becomes more and more relaxed until it doesn't have any stretch left at all. It's just kind of there. When our diapers started losing there zing, boy #2 was big enough we could still get by. He didn't need much elastic around those big legs. But with baby #3 on the way, I knew something would have to give. Tiny baby legs need good elastic to cinch up and keep the mess in.

So we faced a dilemma: buy new diapers, or try to save the ones we have. I started by looking them over and, apart from the elastic, most of them were still in pretty good shape. I tossed a couple that had torn or peeling PUL (waterproof layer). But I decided to take a swing at replacing the elastic on the rest. Here's a little before/after action:

I feel like it doesn't look super different in pictures, but it made a huge difference in use.

And this is when Bum Genius really became one of my favorite diapers. The elastic was so simple to replace! I ended up scrapping some other brands of diapers because the elastic was sewn all the way through and I could not. get. it. out. But these guys were pretty much a piece of cake. Here's how to do it:

Saturday, March 11

DIY Slatted Floor Bed

You may have already seen we switched to a floor bed (and built new crate nightstands to go with it) but today we're talking about what's under the bed. Yes, I know the floor is under the bed. It's a floor bed. But it turns out we actually needed to get it off the floor... without getting it too far off the floor.

A mattress straight on the floor can trap moisture and land you in a terrible world of mold and mildew. So I'm told. I don't intend to test that theory, but it does make sense. So while we want our bed as near the floor as possible, we also want to allow airflow underneath to keep things fresh. And sanitary. So we built a simple, low-profile slatted bed frame for the mattress to rest on. Problem solved.

It was a quick little family project. We squeezed it in one evening after dinner with our little troop of minions at our knees. The littlest one might be the heftiest board-carrier.

Here's all we needed to make our king size bed frame (you can easily make a different size by adjusting the length of your boards):
  • 3  -  2x4  @  8'
  • 2  -  1x2  @  8'
  • 18  -  1x3  @  6'
  • 1 1/4" wood screws
Finished size is 75" wide x 80" long x 2.25" high

Wednesday, March 8

DIY Superhero Mask Kit (and princess mask kit)

It's been a mild winter, but a winter nonetheless. And winter is the best time for cozy indoor projects with the kids. Especially projects that use creativity, and that they can play with for hours afterward. Like a DIY superhero mask kit. Last Christmas we were looking at craft kits to give as gifts to a few kids on our shopping list when I came across a line of mask kits (superhero masks, princess masks, and animal masks). They were perfect for the kids we were shopping for... but they were $20 each. And I had a whole box of felt scraps in the closet. 

So I pulled up a mask tutorial I'd found on pinterest, and with my box of felt and a pair of fabric scissors I whipped up our own little mask kits! Our little superheroes were thrilled. (we also made a princess kit for the girls)

Here's what you need to make a mask kit:
  • the mask pattern
  • felt in a few coordinating colors
  • 12-14" of 1/4" wide elastic (12" worked for my 3-year-old, but it was a bit snug for the 5-year-old's high-percentile head size. It pulls the eye holes a little flat and makes them harder to see out of.)
  • fabric glue
  • glitter glue (optional)
Start by making the basic mask. Cut out two matching mask pieces (you can download the superhero mask and princess mask patterns here) from your main felt color. Stack the pieces on top of each other and sew around the outside edges and the eye openings. This makes a sturdier mask than a single layer.

Friday, March 3

Crate Nightstand Plans

Are you ready for this? These little crate nightstands are some of the easiest things I've built, and they're some of my favorites, too! They are so cute and I love the rustic, casual feel they bring to the room. Today I'm posting the plans so you can make some too!

The whole crate nightstand idea came about a few months ago when we got a floor bed. Our old nightstands were just too high for the new setup so we needed a change, and I happened to stumble across a pinterest photo of a floor bed with... crate nightstands. Bingo. I started searching craigslist and ebay for a few crates to call my own and discovered two things:
  1. Real, vintage crates are expensive. At least on craigslist and ebay.
  2. I couldn't find any crates the size I wanted anyway. 
Thank goodness for DIY. With just a couple boards we made our own custom crates!

We made two different styles because we needed different things for each side of the bed. For Husband's side we raised the crate on hairpin legs because it sits over a vent and we didn't want to block that air flow (bonus = the legs are super cute).

For my side I made the crate full-height with a shelf for books, but it's super narrow to fit between our mattress and the wall.

I love that they don't match perfectly, but they still go together! It just adds to that crate charm.

Thursday, February 23

Floor Bed Inspirations (and our Tuft & Needle Mattress)

I've been working on new nightstands (I shared a sneak peek on Instagram and Facebook) because we made a pretty drastic change in the bedroom and our old nightstands were not up to the challenge. We put our mattress on the floor. Okay, it may not be all that drastic. But bear with me, here.

It all started in what the boys call our "tiny house." That's the rental we lived in for a few months at the beginning of last year. We moved suddenly and put most of our belongings in storage, taking only what fit in my parents van. The mattresses came, but the bed frames didn't make the cut. And so we had our first floor bed.

Husband tolerated it to save money on a frame (we had a perfectly good one in storage), but I loved it. Besides the obvious (no monsters under the bed), there were two main reasons I was digging the floor bed:
  1. I don't have to worry about babies falling off. There's actually one napping in that picture. He could probably roll off and not even wake up. the boys have had mattress on the floor for years for this very reason, and as soon as our mattress hit the floor I was all "THIS IS GENIUS." 
  2. I've read several Katy Bowman books about natural movement and adding more movement into your lifestyle. Sleeping on the floor gets your body moving in a whole different way to get up and down. No extra time commitment or reminders to fit it in, it's just part of our day now.
But then we moved to our new house and our bed frame came back. Boo. I think Husband missed it just a little. I mentioned from time to time that I liked when it was on the floor. He wasn't convinced. Then the conversation changed to talk of upgrading to a king-size mattress.Would it take up too much space in our bedroom? Would it be worth it to sleep better when kids are in the bed? The verdict: WORTH IT. We started searching through several mail-order mattress options (the price and convenience were both attractive, but we were wary of a mattress we couldn't even touch before we ordered). Fortunately I had several friends who had tried Tuft and Needle, and the combination of their recommendations plus one of the lowest price points we had seen sealed the deal. A few days later, the rolled up mattress arrived. I pulled off the plastic and it puffed right up. We've been sleeping on it for a few months now, and so far it has been great!

Napping baby approved. You can see our now too-tall nightstands in the corner.

One of the best things about getting a bigger mattress... we didn't have a frame to put it on! So we really had no choice but to leave it on the floor, right? I was crazy excited about it, and Husband noticed and he loves me so he said we can keep it like this. He's a keeper, himself.

Fortunately I'd been pinning a few favorite floor bed inspirations fort his very occasion! One thing I've noticed about floor bed photos is that they tend to feel cozy and super-chill. And I love it. This is one of my favorites with a warm, eclectic style. Even with white walls it feels personalized and inviting, and I love a little greenery to warm up the space. And see that nightstand? That was the main inspiration for our little crate-style nightstands. I can't wait to share those plans with you!

image via pinterest

This image is another favorite for a lot of the same reasons. I love the peaceful white that's warmed up with a little plant life, the cozy bed I just want to melt into, and the rich layered textures. But it's probably worth noting that our bedroom is currently a super dark green. So basically the opposite of these pictures. Hmmm.

Now let's talk headboards for a minute and think about this question: should a floor bed have a headboard? Because most of the ones I've looked at don't. The photo above does, but it's totally not what I'm looking for in a headboard. Which would be something more along these lines:

Upholstered (comfy to lean on), probably tufted (because I like it), and most likely a faux-leather type material (easy to clean because children). But I'm having a lot different feelings about how tall, what shape, color, and whether we should even have a headboard or not!

Choices, choices. Anyway that's where we are. I'd love to hear your thoughts on a headboard - what would you do???