Reclaimed Barn Wood Coat Hooks

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For a while now I’ve had a stash of barn wood planks in my garage. I collected them on a visit to Danville, KY last spring and have been day dreaming of what to make with them ever since. I was happy to leave my small collection in the garage for a few months. I wanted to be sure it was dried out and free of potential bugs etc before I made a move. Occasionally I’d be in the garage working on my furniture or another project and I’d admire the small pile of barn wood. I even Instagrammed about it here and posted on Hilda’s Facebook page about it here. If you don’t love barn wood then we should probably not be friends. I’m enamored.

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So one day I was at Home Depot looking for other things when I found these numbered hooks for a steal. Isn’t that always how it always happens? I decided they’s be cool on a couple of my planks so I bought 2 sets.

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I spray painted one set white and distressed them for a feminine shabby chic vibe. The other set were spray painted with oil rubbed bronze for a more craftsman feel. Both sets of hooks immediately looked more expensive and had more character. Then I just had to add them to my barn wood.

The hooks came with screws that were much longer, as they are intended to go directly onto the wall. I used shorter (3/4″) screws to attach them to the boards. As you can see below, I was left with very obvious silver screws. Nothing a little craft paint and detail brush couldn’t fix.

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Here are my finished coat hooks. I love them! And I love that they both are made with teh same things but each have their own personalities… I like to think they are sisters. *The white set had been sold! And will look fantastic in my friend Erika’s new house.*

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Earth Day Creation: recycled plantable paper

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Earth Day is Monday April 22nd! Over at Regarding Nannies I’ve shared a great recycled craft. We made recycled paper with wildflower seeds embedded in it. Write a message, plant it and wait for wildflowers to grow! Great for Valentines or Mother’s Day cards too. Be sure to check out the post and try it yourself.

Preschooler Play and Toddler To Do’s

A while back a friend asked me what kinds of things I do with kids on the cheap and with a baby in the house. It is always a challenge to keep older siblings busy while you are strapped to house by baby naps, and forced to be quiet. Cold winter days and rainy spring afternoons only make this harder. Another challenge for many of us is the cost of so many activities, outings and toys. I’ve compiled a list of simple thrills for kids up to 5 years old. Most don’t cost much money… and I really believe in making memories with kids. They won’t remember the stuff and much as they remember doing things together. Kind of like at Christmas… O loved all the wrapping paper and boxes and barely noticed most of the gifts. While diapers are expensive, kids only cost as much at you let them cost.

I mean, look at this face.

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Stamps and Stickers: A&Z both loved stamping all over a pad of newsprint. I bought a bunch in the clearance bins at Michael’s and the dollar store. Melissa and Doug sell a few little sets too. Also, look for “foamies”… Little foam stickers. Paper isn’t the only place for stickers. I’ve let them decorate their art boxes, shoe boxes and all kids of things with stickers. Its amzing how much time kids can spend with this activity. For younger kids it can be an opportunity to idenify animals, shapes and expand vocabulary. For older kids it provides a creative outlet and can spark a little imagination.

Crayons: Have you seen those Crayola crayon holders for little hands? Huge help to get him going on controlling a crayon. Larger and thicker crayons can be easier for little hands too. Talk about colors, shapes, even start some letter recognition.

Recycled Crayons: Preschoolers love this one. We keep old crayon nubs and broken pieces of crayons around for a while. Eventually we dig them out of the crayon tub and separate them from the useable ones. Then I let the kids make piles of the nubby crayons in a muffin tin (mini muffin tins are best because it doesn’t take as much to fill them and the crayons you make become thicker). The piles don’t have to match or have any of the same colors… you really can’t do this wrong. Then I place the muffin tin in a 250 degree oven and check on them every 5 minutes or so. When the crayons have melted to liquid I slowly remove the tin from the oven… hot liquid wax is dangerous. Then we let them cool for an hour or so and pop out our new recycle crayons! The shape is easy for kids to hold and when they use them they are coloring with a rainbow or tie dye effect. For older kids I ask them to make observations about what might happen before we put them in the oven and the happened after and why they think it. Doesn’t hurt to add a little science to it!

Go Big: Another big hit is a bunch of giant sheets of paper and a long roll of paper I bought from Ikea. Z still loves to have me draw roads and tracks for his cars and trains …and with a roll of paper they can go on forever! We have made signs with giant messages to welcome new cousins to the world and then we took pictures with the kids holding it and sent them in texts or posted them online for family. You can make birthday signs for each person’s birthday to hang in a doorway, or welcome them home from a trip. We also trace hands, toys, do leaf rubbings, and he thinks its way cool that we lay on the floor to draw. The possibilities are endless!

Playdoh: I probably don’t need to tell you that it is amazing. We have tons of it and to be honest you only need a few colors and a couple of the utensils. If you don’t want to buy any try this recipe I posted a while back for homemade dough. Big kids love measuring and making it. And everyone loves playing with it. As far as what to use for utensils: stamps work on playdoh, kitchen utensils like a butter knife or whisk, anything with texture, cups, cookie cutters, ice trays and the list goes on. Playing with dough is great for small motor skills, imagination and sensory development. I actually find it relaxing myself.

Nature Walks: Give kids a bag to “collect” anything he thinks is cool on a walk. Bring them home and talk about all the things he found, the season, animals, rocks… Whatever. This always sparks conversation. “I Spy”, “Follow the Leader” and “Simon Says” are also a fun games for a nature walk. Don’t live near a trail? So what… a walk down the sidewalk or through a park is just as exciting. Even if it’s snowing a 15 minute walk and fresh air can cure cabin fever. I’ve also had older kids help me make a list of things we think we may find and then make it more of a scavenger hunt for them.

Make Wishes: I keep pennies in my car for making wishes in fountains we pass by. Sometimes we make a point of finding a fountain to make a wish in. We count our pennies, observe the years on them, and close our eyes and wish reeeeally hard.

Storytime: You can’t read to a kid enough. Go to the library and get new and unfamiliar books often. Make your own storytime… we cuddle up in a blanket and read all of our books as soon as we get home. And do it again a few times a week. This often suffices as “rest” for kids who no longer nap but still need some chill out time midday. Check your library’s and local bookstore’s schedules. Many of them have regular story time, music play and such for free!

Puzzles: Those wooden ones with pegs are great. Most kids can do some large piece ones, and anything with the alphabet. Use the Go Big method above to make your own puzzles. If your kids get tired of puzzles or have them all memorized consider swapping puzzles with friends for a couple of weeks. Fresh puzzles for everyone!

Play House: Have a “picnic” with pretend food, “cook” and stuff too. Let the kids lead the way. They love being in charge and telling us what to do for once. It’s always interesting to hear their perception of roles in the household too. I”ve heard kids say, “We need to go to Target. Can you be on your best behavior?” or “I’m going to drop the kids at school and go get coffee.” They can do this for hours!

Build A Fort: This is a great exercise for problem solving, imagination and creativity. Building the fort is a blast and using it is fun too. Consider reading books, doing puzzles or “hiding out” in the fort. Kids think I’m a genius when we do this.

Inside Picnics: We eat lunch somewhere besides the kitchen table. We have done it in a fort, at the coffee table, under the kitchen table, with his stuffed animals, on the front porch, in the tailgate of my SUV. Anywhere.

PJ Day: Let the kids wear their PJ’s all day. Even go to the grocery store with them on. They think its so silly and funny. On this day we also do breakfast for lunch. Pancakes for lunch is always a hit!

Make Noise: (Ok- not too much). Have concerts with paper towel and toilet paper tubes, tissue boxes. Filling baby food jars or pop bottles with beans, rice and pasta makes great “instruments”. None of them make too much noise though.

Scavenger Hunt in a Bottle: Fill a clear soda bottle about halfway with rice. Drop in random objects to “find” in the rice. Think crayons, beads, paperclips, pennies, bouncy ball… anything that will fit in the hole and you won’t miss. The more rice in the bottle, the harder it is to find the objects. Seal the bottle (I always add super glue to avoid disasters) and start searching. Kids can roll the bottle every which way to find the objects.

Pipe Cleaners: The possibilities are endless! String large wooden beads on them (more motor skills!), or make a macaroni necklace, build a house (in my case a Bat Cave for Batman), bracelets,

Penne Picasso: Glue pasta on paper. So simple- he can’t mess it up, there is no paint and its inexpensive! Use pasta to make necklaces on yarn to to decorate a shoe box.

Ball Pit: Ikea, Target and other big box stores sell those plastic balls for ball pits. Put them in a pack n play or crib for an instant ball party. This never gets old. And when he’s done he can help you clean them up. For bigger kids let them fill as small room.

Cooking and Baking: Let kids help prepare their meals. From choosing a plate and utensils and setting the table to letting them stir and teaching them to measure. You’ll be surprised how happy they are to help. They really do like a little responsibility! And preparing food together makes time for a good little conversation. It’s often the only way I can get the “What did you do at school today?” question answered. You can also teach them about their food and where it comes from along with encouraging trying new foods and making them aware of a having healthy diet.

Sink or Float: Gather some household items to see if they sink or float. Use a baby pool or bucket outside or use the bathroom tub. Have kids guess which will happen and why. A fun one is a Diet Coke can vs a Coke can. Apples are heavier and most kids think it will sink but they float. Try to stump each other!

Pinterest Challenge: Winter 2013

 

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I decided to partake on ANOTHER blog challenge. This time it is a Pinterest challenge. Basically: Pin something and actually do it. How many times have you actually done something you pinned? Be honest. (you can see some of my other pinterest inspired posts here here and here and The YHL Macklemore $20 Thrift Shop Challenge here)

20130224-173020.jpgThe inspiration or pinspiration I should say can be found on my “kitchen” pin board. I kept seeing all this silverware art. There was everything from a painting of a spoon to a chandelier made of silverware. I remember doing a studio study on silverware in art school… it was very hard to duplicate the shapes and reflections of a spoon or fork. As much as I loved the idea of a silverware painting I didn’t have the money to buy the Pottery Barn wall art or have the time to duplicate such a cool piece. What I did have was a collection of yours-mine-and-ours silverware. I chose a spoon and fork from our drawer. Nobody knows where the spoon came from and we have no matching counterparts so it was a natural choice. The fork is one of many from an inexpensive set. It won’t be missed.

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Next I had to figure out what I wanted to hang my silverware on. A plate? Straight onto the wall? I found a small unused canvas in my art supplies. I considered wrapping the canvas in fabric but the scraps that I had were either too busy or not enough contrast. I finally settled on black paint. I have tons of it, black was a fantastic backdrop for silver and it was neutral enough to go just about anywhere I would decide to hang the canvas.

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Now for the hard part: paint the canvas. Obviously it was not that hard. To be honest anyone could do this. Imagine having your kids mix a couple colors and gluing the fork and spoon on. Cute kid kitchen art. Unfortunately O is far too young for such a thing. She’d lick the paint, I’d call poison control. It would be a whole thing that I just don’t want to deal with. Ah, one day.

Anywho, after the paint dried I used superglue to secure the fork and spoon in place. And I was finished!

Total time: 15 minutes. Total cost: $0! Don’t hate.

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The finished project. Simple. Kinda “mod”. Somewhat bold. FREE and recycled. Me likey.

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I decided to hang my new art in our kitchen in the void space next to our new shelves. If you recall, we decided to center the shelves over the peninsula, which isn’t centered on the wall.  We ended up with more wall space to the right of the shelves than the left. I prefer symmetry so the whole fiasco frustrated me. The silverware art is my sort of “band-aid” to the situation.

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While I was at it I hung these two small fruit canvases I had painted ages ago. They are on the small wall near the back door and ad a little “pop” where I hadn’t realized it was needed. By the way, who likes the soft ocean glass green for the kitchen? Its taped on the wall for us to visualized with the floors and slate backsplash along with the strange torn wall paper under the chair rail.

2 Things for Myself Friday Night

I had been looking forward to Friday night all week. I had grand plans with my good friend Greta. We were going to an art show (hello, my FAVE kind of thing to attend) and hopefully hanging out afterward. It was exactly what the doctor ordered: grown up time with a good friend, high heels, great conversation, art and likely a glass of wine. But my Friday at work proved to be a little draining and to add to my physical exhaustion, I become emotionally exhausted after learning that a dear friend of my family passed away that afternoon. Heartbroken, I sent Greta a text explaining that I just wasn’t up for going out. She explained that she had a headache… we decided to drop our plans. But then she asked me to make her a promise. No problem. Anything for her. But then she made me promise to do two things for myself that evening instead. I think she knew this was going to be a challenge for me.

I accepted and challenged her to do the same. I knew my first order of business: a manicure. When was the last time I painted my nails? I’d like to introduce you to my favorite nail polish. Sally Hansen INSTA-DRI! Oh boy, its affordable and comes in both classic and trendy colors. Those aren’t even why I love it as much as I do. It dries in record time AND it has a flat brush with a curved tip to make painting in one stroke a breeze. I also find it extremely helpful in painting my own nails. I often dread painting my right hand, as my left is undependable. I no longer have a right hand manicure that looks like a two year old did it for me. And one coat is all it takes. By far my favorite nail product  right now.

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{I chose Silky Slate- a deep taupe with a sweet hint of purple}

It was hard to come up with the second thing to do for myself. I wrestled with vacuuming, mopping floors and organizing some of O’s toys. All are things that are on my mile long to do list and would make me feel good (an organized home is bliss but mine is only partially there) but I was certain Greta would not accept this as “for myself”. Then it hit me: my nightstand. If you can call it that. Its a balancing act on top of Rubbermade containers. I fight with it every night looking for my phone charger, tissues and trying to keep the baby monitor from toppling onto the floor. And I trip all over it in the morning looking for my watch and rings as I fly out the door. It was an impromptu fix when hubby and I moved in…We knew we were going to purchase a new mattress (hallelujah- it arrives next week if it wasn’t held up by the blizzard) so we didn’t want to decide on a bed set until we knew if we were buying a king or queen. As much as we want a king, we felt it will make or room unbearably small. Anyway, thats why I have a plastic container for a night stand. Sad but true. So organizing this would be for me. It will make my life easier and our room a little more put together. Below is the “before”:

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The plan was to convert this old end table from Hubby’s bachelor days into my night stand. It was out of place in the dining room and was quickly becoming a collect all from the peninsula overflow (which I also organized this weekend because I just can’t take it anymore). Another embarrassing shot:

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It took a surprising amount of time to clear off the old nightstand. I sorted things for trash, needs, things that belong elsewhere, etc. Here is what I found:

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Some of the strange finds include: 5 paint chips for master bedroom, a plethora of pens, 2 sets of headphones, a spoon (really.), a long lost Swarovski ring (woo… glad that turned up), the Fifty Shades trilogy, “Bared to You” trashy read (and highly recommended), unknown chargers, a dangerous amount or extension cords and power strips, a sound machine, tons of lotion, a glasses case and iphone 5 package and instructions (who reads those anyway?).

Oh, and I though the container was empty. Apparently I haven’t missed any of these shoes. How random.

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And here is what I came up with. Once we decide on a color scheme I plan on painting it but it will do for now. I put a parfait on the top to coral my jewelry and hair things. I minimized all those cords to one power strip hidden behind the nightstand to charge my phone, computer (I guess I need an office?) and the monitor. The middle shelf is home to my winter hand lotion essentials and tissues. The bottom shelf stashes the baby monitor so now the little power and volume lights won’t be nearly as bothersome all night. It also is home to my spare glasses and both my current and regular reads: Bared to You, What to Expect The First Year, Baby 411 and Real Simple Magazines.

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The side by side before and after:

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What do you need to do for yourself? What have you been organizing to make life a little easier?

Recycled Halloween Decor

I’m always up for a little recycled project… Especially if it employs glass jars in yet another way. I had a few large salsa and pasta sauce containers I had washed out and saved because I knew I would find a use for then one day. Hubby hates this … They sat on the window sill for weeks.

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{supplies: jars, painter’s tape, scissors}

All I did was cut shapes out of the tape for a jack-o-lantern, ghost, Frankenstein, and the word “boo!”. I placed them on the jars accordingly so I had a design on one side of the jar. I didn’t want my designs to wrap very far around.

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Then I painted the jars with a thin layer of acrylic paint I already had in my craft collection. The key is THIN…. if its too thick the paint will peel off with the tape. This happened to me in a few spots.

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After it dried for a few hours, I peeled the tape off and I had these beauties.

I may put candles or glow sticks in them for going on the porch or our rock wall on Halloween. For now they will be cute as a centerpiece or decorating a bookshelf. Recycled, free (i already had all of my supplies) and reusable… unlike an actual pumpkin.