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    Crap I've Made

    DIY Glam Pet Food Dish Tray

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    This post was sponsored by Rockler. All opinions are my own.

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    I decided it was high-time I show our furry friends some love around the house. Well, decor love. Hugs, kisses, walks and treats they get plenty of from our big family! But, for years these poor dogs have had mismatched bowls randomly put on the floor for their food and water. The bowls got kicked around, the water often spilled, and the food seemed to always be all around the bowl, but not actually in the bowl. This weekend I upgraded their serving dishes for the cost of some table legs and a simple serving tray. They love their fancy dishes and I bet your pets will too!

    Here’s what I used:
    • Bamboo Serving Tray (found at the stores, online or even at the Goodwill!)
    • Peel & Stick Wallpaper (I had some left over from a previous project, but it’s fairly inexpensive to buy. Especially if you only need a small roll!)
    • White and Gold Spray Paint
    • Glue (I used Gorilla Glue. Just make sure you are using glue that works on wood and metal!)
    • Rockler 6″ Hairpin Table Legs
    Here’s how I made them:

    I started by spray painting the tray white and the legs gold.

    Next, I measured and cut the wallpaper to fit the interior of the tray.

    After removing the backing, I slowly applied the wallpaper to the bottom of the tray (starting at one side and working my way across the base), making sure to press any trapped air bubbles out the sides with my hands.

    The final step was to attach the legs. Even though the legs came with sturdy screws, the bamboo tray is extremely thin wood. I opted to use glue in place of the screws. I allowed the glue to dry overnight.

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    That’s it – it’s finished! I love a quick and simple project that serves as a useful and beautiful item for my family!

    Crap I've Made

    Dried Flower Tic Tac Toe Resin Game Board & Colorful Dominoes

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    This post was sponsored by UpStart Art Resin. All opinions are my own.

    We’re always looking for new ideas to add to our Family Game Nights around here. And these Dried Flower Tic-Tac-Toe Resin Game Boards and Colorful Dominoes are not only a great addition to Fam Fun Night, but they also look totally adorable on your end table or coffee table!

    As with any craft project, having all your supplies ready before you start is key to a successful finished product. And, for this project, protecting your workspace as well as your skin is a must.

    *It’s best to work with epoxy in a well ventilated area.

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    • UpStart Epoxy Art Resin and Hardener
    • UpStart Epoxy Mica Powders
    • 2 Plastic or Silicone Measuring Cups
    • Silicone Tic-Tac-Toe Board Mold &/or Dominoes Mold
    • Popsicle Sticks
    • Gloves
    • Face Mask
    • Disposable Cups
    • Dried Flowers

    Here’s how to make it:

    Step 1: Set out your clean and dry silicone mold onto a covered work surface. Make sure your gloves are on and your face covering is in place!

    Step 2: For the Tic-Tac-Toe Board: Using dried flowers and a pair of tweezers, place one flower, upside down, on each tic-tac-toe square. Remember, the bottom is actually the top of the finished game board!

    * My flowers were left over from a DIY flower press I made last year. But you can also purchase an assortment of dried flowers for crafts inexpensively online.

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    Step 3: Measure out equal parts resin and hardener into silicone measuring cups. For the X’s and O’s, I mixed a 1:1 ratio of 100 ml resin and hardener for each letter. After stirring the epoxy mix in a disposable cup for 3 minutes with a popsicle stick (making sure to scrape the sides often), add a small amount of mica powder and mix thoroughly again. Pour colored mix into the molds. For the dominoes and the letters, pouring slowly is important as they fill quickly. A clean popsicle stick can be used to scrape any extra mix from the top of the mold. Lastly, use a heat gun held close to the top of the epoxy to pop any surface bubbles.

    * It’s better to add a small amount of color to your epoxy and add more to achieve desired color than to add too much at the start.

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    * I chose to do the X’s and O’s in 2 different colors. If you’d like each letter to be a color mix, simply pour the first mixed and colored resin into both the X and the O molds filling them half way. Let sit for about 3 hours and then add your different top color using the same method as above.

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    Step 4: For both game boards, I needed approximately 400 ml of epoxy mix each (both the resin and hardener measuring cups filled twice each). I did not add mica powder to the Tic-Tac-Toe mix as I wanted the flowers to really pop inside a clear board. As before, once the resin and hardener are combined in a disposable cup, mix, mix, mix for 3 minutes. Slowly pour the mix into the mold until full and use a heat gun to pop surface bubbles.

    * If you don’t have a heat gun, a toothpick can be used to individually pop the surface bubbles.

    * I did find that I needed to press the flowers back into place with a popsicle stick a few times in the first hour or so as they were insistent upon moving around in the epoxy.

    Step 5: Allow the mold to set a full 24 hours before removing. To remove the finished product, slowly peel the silicone away from the project.

    Step 6: Play!

    * In order to make enough of the X’s and O’s (4 each), I had to make 2 separate batches. Even though it took 2 days to complete the project, I think my girls would agree that it was totally worth the wait!

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    I love all the bright colors in the set. Gives me major Spring Vibes!

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    Crap I've Made

    Valentine’s Day DIY Bookmark & Book Tracker

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    I believe there is no better gift to bestow your children than the gift of reading. To learn to spend spare time losing oneself in a book is time well spent, for sure. So, in place of more candy this Valentine’s Day, I created these adorable Valentine’s Day DIY Bookmark and Tracker to go along with a handful of gently used books I found on Facebook Marketplace for under a dollar a piece! 

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    These are not only a fun way to hold a little one’s place while reading, they serve as a record keeper for all the books they’ve read throughout the year! 

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    I collected a few simple supplies to create these unique book markers. All I needed was cardstock (1 sheet for each bookmark), a sharp pair of scissors, glue (I used hot glue), decorative edge scissors, colorful yarn, hole punch and paint to decorate the front. 
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    Start by deciding the size of your bookmark. I was using pink paper that was precut in a 12″x2″ size for the book tracker. I knew my sleeve needed to be a bit larger than that. 

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    Next you will fold your cardstock to size. Make sure to allow a bit of space to cut the edge with decorative scissors as well as glue. Cut the extra paper as well as the decorative edge. 

    Fold the front corner inside the sleeve. Glue the bottom and right edge of the sleeve. Punch a hole in the top center – this will be to hold the tassel. 

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    For the tracker – I chose to create a simple bullet list on the computer using Word, but you could create this with a pen and ruler as well! 

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    To create the tassel, I wrapped a length of yard around my 4 fingers 10-12 times. With an approximately 6″ piece of yard, run through the top of the wrapped yarn and set the wrapped yarn down. Using another short length of yarn, knot the top of the wrapped yarn together securely. Cut open the bottom of the wrapped twine to create the tassel. 

    With the larger yarn that was run through the top of the tassel, knot the tassel through the hole of the bookmark sleeve. 

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    I decorated the front of the bookmarks with washi tape and painted hearts and polka dots. 

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    My kids adore these and have already begun filling the lines up with the books they’ve read! I may even make one for myself!

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    Simple & Swirly DIY Wall Art

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    This post was sponsored by Golden State Art. All opinions are my own.

    One of the best ways to add color and dimension to a space is by hanging a piece of artwork to your wall. But, framed artwork can be crazy expensive! My Simple & Swirly DIY Wall Art is the perfect solution! And everyone knows that a pretty frame really makes the piece! I chose a gold aluminum frame to go with this particular piece of artwork – I love it!

    This art is easy, inexpensive, completely customizable and totally adorable!

    Here’s what you’ll need to make your own:

    • A Beautiful Frame. Mine is a 16″ x 20″ gold aluminum frame from Golden State Art.
    • Modeling Paste
    • Acrylic Paints
    • 3″ Round Sponge (1 sponge per each acrylic paint color)
    • 16″x20″ sized white foam board, mat board or cardboard (canvas board would be too wide for the frame, but regular paper won’t be strong enough to hold the paint medium we are using.)
    • Bowls or containers for mixed paint
    • Spoons
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    1. Taking approximately 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup of modeling paste in one of your bowls, add a few teaspoons of one of your chosen acrylic paint colors. Mix well. Note: the modeling paste is a milky white color out of the container. It clears when dry.
    This step is creating a gel medium that will allow the paint to be applied in a thick coat that will retain its shape and texture.

    2. Once you’ve mixed all your colors with the modeling paste, prepare your space by covering your table with paper and preparing a small bowl of water for your sponges. You will also want to plan your design. I’m going with 5 rows of colors somewhat evenly spaced. I am certainly not attempting perfection, but generally clean lines.

    If you are doing a random pattern, or want to overlap your colors, you will want to wait a bit in between coats to allow them to dry or your colors will mix.

    3. Dip a sponge in the bowl of clean water and thoroughly ring it out. Wetting your sponge allows easier grip as well as smoother application of the paint.

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    4. Press your damp sponge in the first color of paint you are using. On a clean piece of paper or paper plate, apply the first coat of paint from the sponge.

    The first coat tends to be uneven and thick – so by applying it off to the side, you are ensuring an even surface on your board.

    5. Paint your row of circles by placing the round sponge where you want it and slowly twisting the sponge in a complete circle. Carefully lift the sponge straight up.

    The twisting action will help you create a full and even looking circle vs. just pressing the sponge and picking it up.

    6. Reapply paint to the sponge and continue to your next circle.

    7. I think the circles look like popped bubbles at this point. It’s kind of cool looking, but not what I’m going for. If you like it, you can just continue with the steps above for each color and row of circles. I decided to make the circles more textured and fun!

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    With the back of a spoon covered in the paint mix, I swirled the back of the spoon around the sponge circle creating a swirly design that almost resembles the top of a frosted cupcake!

    8. Now, I just continued with the steps above for each color and row of circles.

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    9. Because this paint is so thick, the dry time is going to take a little longer. You definitely want to make sure you are giving it plenty of time to dry and set before you add the finished board into your frame!

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    10. Remove the backing of your picture frame and place your finished art inside. The tabs on this frame were super easy and fast to remove and replace!

    This DIY art is fun, colorful and looks right at home in this little reading and music corner I’ve created for my kids!

    Crap I've Made

    7 Easy Steps To Add Happy Color To Your Space On A Budget!

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    If you’ve been around here for a while, you know my family pretty much lives on a budget. From grocery shopping to household upkeep, to holidays and vacations – practical spending is a must for my crew of 10.

    And, because of said family of 10, we have occasional need of furniture replacement. Don’t get me wrong, I try to get as much life as I can from our furniture. And I’m a firm believer in pride of ownership of all things. Meaning, a strict no eating or drinking rule on the couch mixed with an attempt to keep the dogs off (at least when I’m in the room. Otherwise, the dogs are on the couch as if they’re the Masters of the house.) and a regular machine washing of dirty pillows and covers. But, even still, a couch and loveseat can only last so long.

    This time, we opted to do our furniture shopping in-store as well as online. After many, many hours entering and exiting all the value/bargain furniture stores in and around our area, we found a sofa set that was sensible on the wallet, sturdily made and practical for our family.

    One thing I was certain about all along was my desire to add more color into my family room. Not so much in the couches themselves, but in everything around them. So a neutral shade of furniture was important for me. After all, I am a woman and I have been known to occasionally change my mind. A neutral colored couch set would be easier to accommodate any changes in décor I may decide to implement in the future. What can I say? I’m always thinking ahead!

    Step #1

    Colorful Throw Pillows!

    One of the easiest and least expensive ways to add a splash of color to your living space is through accessories. And there’s no better accessory to a couch or loveseat than a few fluffy throw pillows! Most new couches come with a set of throw pillows made to “match” the fabric of the furniture. The ones that came with the set we purchased were gag-worthy, for sure. Certainly not anything I “loved”. So, off to Amazon I went! I chose to go with colorful pom-pom trimmed set of covers. I transferred the filling from the original, boring pillows to the new vibrant cases. The color mix and matching coordinated with the new armchairs we were adding. Which, leads me to step #2.

    Step #2

    Online Bargain Shopping!

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    Buying furniture online, sight unseen, can be a nerve-wracking and tricky experience. Obviously, it’s so important to make sure you’re reading reviews and researching the product. But even still, you don’t truly know what you’re spending your hard-earned money on and what you’re actually getting until it’s at your door. This is why I have an easier time purchasing such items from trusted sites like Amazon. Their return policy is typically excellent, their customer service has always been top-notch when we’ve needed it and I know I’ll get the item quickly (which will allow for a fast turn around and change of direction if I should decide it’s not what I wanted). I went out on a limb and ordered our accent chairs online and I honestly could not be more pleased.

    The accent chairs were really the place I wanted to add those pops of color and “Go Big Or Go Home” so to speak. By selecting a pretty bright blue velvety chair and a swivel plush yellow chair, my “fun” factor in the family room most definitely went up quite a few notches!

    Now, I must note, that these pieces did need assembled. But, I’m not afraid of power tools and the thought of putting the furniture together (it was actually quite easy) did not deter me in the slightest. Just keep it in mind when ordering from the internet.

    Step #3

    Customize Your Furniture with Color!

    There’s not really anything that I’m afraid to paint. Most especially if it’s a second-hand piece or trash-night find. I’ve been known to give paint a good ol’ college try on pretty much any surface. So, when the couches arrived, the very first thing I did was paint the boring, dark wood legs.

    First, I sanded them a bit by hand to remove the shiny clear finish. Then I cleaned them up with a dry towel. Next I painted a few coats of white and once that was fully dry, I added a gold leaf layer to the front legs.

    This was actually the first time I tried my hand at Gold Leaf. Here is the kit I used. It was as messy as I suspected it would be (which is why I was so thankful I covered my workspace with paper beforehand), but otherwise quite fun to do!

    Here’s how I did it:

    Once my counter was covered, I applied a thin, even layer of adhesive to the sanded legs. They had to sit for about 20 minutes. Next, I carefully placed a sheet of the gold leaf onto one side of the leg. Using a clean, dry paintbrush, I slowly brushed the leaf sheet into place, smoothing out edges and corners. I continued to piece together the leaf sheets around the leg until it was fully covered. I wanted a bit of a ragged edge, so I did not use painters tape at the top of the leg where I wanted to keep white. If you would prefer a crisp line between where you add your gold leaf and the surface, painters tape would definitely be needed here.

    I was only concerned with adding the gold leaf to the 2 front legs of each couch. The back legs were simply painted white.

    After all 4 legs were finished with the gold leaf, I added an even layer of sealer. It took about an hour to dry before I was able to reattach the legs to the couches.

    *When applying the gold leaf, there may be spots on your painted surface that don’t seem to “take” the sheet. If this happens, just continue on with the sheet you are working with. You can always add a bit more adhesive (waiting the 20 minutes until it’s tacky) and piece together the gold leafing using the broken bits from the first application. As you can see in the second picture, the broken bits stick pretty well to a dry paintbrush due to static in the air.

    To coordinate with the gold leaf couch legs, I spray painted the legs of both of the accent chairs shiny gold (the blue chair had a dark color stain and the yellow chair was more of a bare wood finish).

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    Once the legs were painted, dried and attached, I added a bit of whimsy to the bottom of the blue chair with inexpensive yellow 4″ fringe trim tassel. I stapled it along the bottom of the chair. You could also hot glue it on if you don’t have access to a staple gun. This is such a quick and simple step that really made the chair just that bit of “extra”.

    Step #4

    Dress Up Your Curtains with Color!

    I didn’t want to change out the sheer curtains I already had hanging in the windows. I really do love the breezy feel they bring to the room and the amount of sunlight they allow to filter through. But, I wanted to do something to spice them up. These multi-colored wood bead curtain tie backs were just the ticket! These are easily made with wood beads painted your desired colored and a length of white cotton rope.

    Step #5

    Personalized Artwork!

    There is no simpler and less expensive way to add colorful personalization to any space than adding children’s artwork. I mean, how many of us can actually claim to know the artists behind the pieces in our home? And if your little Picasso’s are anything like my little Picasso’s, the number of pieces and the creative possibilities are endless!

    Plus, seriously guys. Put one of their handmade pictures in a fancy frame, hang it on the wall, and tell me the smile you receive from that little face doesn’t make you want to cover your walls from floor to ceiling with their pictures just to keep getting that adorable grin from that adorable kisser forever and ever!

    If you’re looking for a more mature piece – be thrifty! Yard sales, thrift shops and second-hand boutiques are excellent places to find that perfect painting or illustration. Oh, and don’t let the frame deter you! Pay attention to the art itself. The frame is an easy fix by either replacing it completely or simply applying a few coats of magic spray paint.

    Step #6

    Happy, Bright Lighting Matters!

    You can’t forget your lighting! I’ve kinda got a thing for lamps. I love them and have a whole lot of them (to my husband’s dismay. “Another lamp?” are words he has muttered more than I’m sure he would have ever thought possible in our years together). In my defense, I’m honestly not sure if I’ve ever purchased a lamp that wasn’t clearance-priced or second-hand. But still, I can totally admit that we have a lot of ’em. I prefer a lamp light to an overhead light in the evenings and I can’t have a side table that doesn’t have a lamp on it. It’s just not done (sorry. I’ve been watching Bridgerton on Netflix. I swear the British accent and tone I most certainly don’t have is strong in me lately).

    Step #7

    Don’t Forget to Color the Floor!

    Did I mention I have 8 kids? I’m sure I have.

    Did I mention having 8 kids is as messy, chaotic and dirty as it sounds? Both figuratively and literally? I’m sure I have.

    We purposefully have mostly hardwood floors in our home with the exception of the children’s bedrooms and the family room. I like having the carpet in the room we hang out the most in together. It makes for a soft spot to sit if all the couches and chairs are taken during movie night and, in my opinion, just gives a more cozy feel to the space. Similar to my views on the couch colors, I prefer a more neutral tone to my carpeting. But, an area rug allows me to go as crazy as I want with designs and colors! The fact that it’s easier to clean spilled milk from an upturned sippy cup off an area rug than out of the carpet just adds to the charm.

    This particular rug in our family room was an online deal on Black Friday and was a total steal for the size. Of course, I had been eyeing it for months (and months) waiting for a sale price we could actually afford. The wait was totally worth it and it pulls together the new shades of the furniture and accessories like it was meant to be here all along!

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    Christmas Movie Night Drinks – Fun For The Whole Family!

    Who doesn’t love family movie nights?

    Especially ones that involve Christmas films?! Yes, please – count me in!

    Now, we already know it’s a proven fact that snacks (especially sugary ones) make any movie night better. But, how about adding some customized Holiday Spirits to go along with your fave Christmas flicks?

    These jolly and festive Grinch, Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph themed drinks are the perfect accompaniment to some of our most beloved classic Christmas movies!

    And the best part? They can be made into “Kid Friendly Versions” by just omitting the alcohol!

    What do you say friends? Come on over – we’ll crowd on the couch, snuggle under a blanket and watch some classic feel-good shows while sipping on fun, boozy libations! We’ll be the jolliest bunch of you-know-what’s this side of the nuthouse!

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    Rudolph Spritzer

    Ingredients
      

    • 2 cups Vodka
    • 2 cups Lemon-Lime Soda Ginger Ale, 7-Up or Sprite
    • 2 1/2 cups Orange Juice
    • 2 1/2 cups Cranberry Juice
    • Juice of 1 Lemon Approx. 1/4 cup
    • 1/2 cup Maraschino Cherry Juice
    • Garnish – Cranberries or Maraschino Cherries & Sprig of Rosemary

    Instructions
     

    • Combine all the liquid ingredients in a punch bowl.
    • Mix well.
    • Serve over ice.

    Notes

    Kid Friendly Version
    Omit the Vodka.
    Cherry 7-Up can also be used as the soda: simply omit the cherry juice!
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    The Grinch Cocktail

    Ingredients
      

    • 1 cup Vodka
    • 1/4 cup Lemon-Lime Soda Sprite, 7-Up
    • 8 oz Pineapple Juice
    • 8 oz Lemonade Concentrate Frozen
    • 1 cup Sugar
    • 13 oz Lemon-Lime Flavored Kool-Aid 1 package
    • Red Sanding Sugar
    • Corn Syrup

    Instructions
     

    • Add all the ingredients together in a punch bowl. Mix.
    • Using a dab of corn syrup on your finger, rub along the full rim of the glass.
      * Wetting the glass rim with water works as well, but the syrup definitely holds the sugar onto the rim better than water.
    • Dip the glass upside down into a bowl of the red sugar.
    • Carefully pour the cocktail into the glass, avoiding the sugared rim.

    Notes

    Kid Friendly Version
    Omit the Vodka.
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    Festive Frosty

    Ingredients
      

    • 1.5 oz Vanilla Vodka
    • 1.5 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
    • .75 oz Amaretto
    • 1 tsp Confectioner's Sugar
    • 3 tbsp Milk or Half & Half
    • Vanilla Frosting
    • Sprinkles

    Instructions
     

    • Dip the rim of glass in a bowl of white frosting.
    • Dip the coated rim onto a plate of sprinkles.
    • Add all the liquid ingredients into a cocktail shaker along with 1 cup of ice.
    • Shake vigorously until chilled.
    • Strain into the glass, avoiding the sprinkle-covered rim.

    Notes

    Kid Friendly Version
    Mix up a simple milkshake with:
    • 2 cups vanilla ice cream
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    Mix well in a blender and pour into prepared frosting and sprinkle-covered glass.

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    Under the Tree Toy Train Track

    This post was sponsored by Dremel Tools. All opinions are my own.

    As I was decorating the house for the holidays this year, there seemed to be so many Christmas decorations that my kiddos weren’t allowed to touch. Even our nice train track with the working engine is something they can only play with when Mom or Dad can help.

    I could tell they were feeling a whole lot of “well, this isn’t fun” feelings and honestly, it just didn’t seem fair.

    I decided it was high time to create an entire tree, from top to bottom, for my kids to decorate and play with. And this DIY Under the Tree Toy Train Track is just the final touch their Holiday décor needed! Plus, the track is incredibly easy to move around and store! Oh, and plus plus, it’s crazy inexpensive to create!

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    Starting with 2 pieces of 1″x3″x8″ wood pieces, we used a saw to cut (4) 18″ and (4) 7″ pieces. If you don’t have a saw, make sure to have your pieces cut at the store before you leave!

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    We chose to cut the 8 pieces at 22 degree angles at the ends to create an octagon shape in the track.

    You will also need (3) 18″ pieces and (2) 7″ pieces cut to match the inside angles of the track for the back. These will provide a surface to hold your homes and trees.

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    I spray painted the track a metallic gray and the back pieces white.

    Set the wood aside to fully dry.

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    Next, we painted our wood and rectangle squares – which will be the houses – colorful and bright shades with acrylic craft paint.

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    For the roof pieces, we painted our triangle shapes black.

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    Using white puffy paint, we created a snowy shingle look in layers across each of the triangles.

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    A bit of craft snow glitter added the perfect sparkle to our snowy rooftops!

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    Using the hot glue gun, we attached the roofs to the houses.

    I prefer to “man” the glue gun during our family crafting time. I know first-hand how painful burns from the glue gun can be on your tender digits!

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    Once the spray painted wood was dry, it was time to connect the gray track pieces to the white back pieces. Matching the sizes together (18″ track pieces with 18″ back pieces, 7″ track pieces with 7″ back pieces), we screwed them together from the outside of the back piece to the bottom of the back of the track piece.

    The Dremel Cordless Screwdriver made this step crazy easy for my little ones to help with!

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    Hot glue the finished houses and tree shapes to the interior of the back piece and continue filling in with the shapes along the front and sides of the track.

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    We wanted our houses and trees to be touching so that we could fit as many as possible on our track.

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    To help hold the track together when in use, narrow strips of velcro did the job!

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    Plus, the velcro makes it crazy simple to move the track around and store away.

    We found some plain wood cars and trains at the craft store and added a bit of paint to them to use on our track. But, the track is wide enough for most toy cars, really.

    It’s totally perfect and totally hands-on for the kiddos!

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    MERRY AND BRIGHT Marquee Sign

    This post was sponsored by WORX Tools. All opinions are my own.

    Christmas is right around the corner and my itch to start decorating my home is becoming more of a jolly, red, green and white rash. I can’t wait to deck the halls and make our spaces joyful. One of my most favorite parts of the entire Christmas season is all the lights. Houses, business and town gazebos lit up and sparkling, trees glowing in the night and icicle lights adorning front porches. Even though it’s cold and snowy, all the twinkling and shining just makes me feel warm and aglow. This Merry and Bright Marquee sign is perfect for any light-loving kindred spirit and will certainly put you in a wonderfully cheerful mood!

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    Step 1: Paint Plaque White

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    Spray paint the painter’s plaque white outside or in a well-ventilated space. 

    Step 2: Tape the Edges

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    After the paint has dried, you will need to use painters’ tape around the top edge to keep it clean for the next step.

    Step 3: Add Glue

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    Using a decoupage medium and a foam brush, apply a coat of glue along the side of the plaque. 

    Step 4: Glitter Up the Sides

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    Making sure the plaque is over a tray or plate, sprinkle the glitter onto the wet side. 

    Continue working around the plaque, brushing on the glue and shaking on the glitter one side at a time. 

    Set to the plaque off to the side to dry. 

    Don’t forget to dump your extra glue on the tray back into your bottle! 

    Step 5: Paint the Letters

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    With a gold sparkle spray paint, paint the front of each letter spelling out “MERRY & BRIGHT” outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. You could also use acrylic paint in place of the spray paint if you prefer. 

    Allow to fully dry. 

    Step 6: Mark the Letters

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    Turning the letters over, mark where the holes for each bulb will go on the back of the letter using a black marker. Make sure you know how many bulbs are on your battery-operated strand beforehand so that you make the correct number of holes in each letter. 

    When making your holes, keep in mind the letters are thin wood that may split easily and staying in the center of each letter will prevent this. 

    Step 6: Drill the Holes

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    Using the Maker X Rotary Tool with the 1/8” drill bit, drill through each black dot on the back of your letters.  

    Step 7: Mark the Lines

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    With a ruler and a pencil, lightly mark a line 2” down from the top (for MERRY) and ½” up from the bottom (for BRIGHT) to use as a template for applying the letters.  

    The line will help you keep your words straight.  

    Step 8: Hot Glue the Letters

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    Hot glue MERRY & BRIGHT onto the plaque, making sure not to cover up the holes. (If you do accidently cover the holes with glue, don’t panic! You will wind up drilling through it anyway in the next step.) 

    Step 9: Drill the Plaque

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    Now that your letters are glued in place, it’s time to use the Rotary Tool again to drill through to the back of the plaque.  

    Step 10: Erase

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    Erase any pencil lines you can see.

    Step 11: Velcro Battery Pack

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    With a 2” strip of sticky velcro, attach the battery pack to the back of the painter’s plaque in the opening of the frame. 

    Step 12: Insert Lights

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    Insert one miniature bulb through each hole, working slowly up and down the letters. 

    If you notice the lights pulling out of the holes in the back, a small piece of duct tape will help hold the pesky wires in place. 

    Step 13: Hot Glue Snowballs

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    For a finishing touch, take .5” white pom-pom balls and hot glue them randomly across the front of the marquee sign to give it a snowy look. 

    Crap I've Made

    Cinnamon & Spice Potpourri

    @perfectlydestressed
    This homemade Cinnamon & Spice Potpourri brings out all the bestest smelly smells of fall and winter celebrations. It’s simple to put together, requires very few ingredients & makes an awesome and easy gift idea!

    I don’t know about you, but I love the interior of my home to encompass what’s going on in the seasons outside and all around it. Especially when there’s a nip in the autumn air and the desire to be cozy comfy under a soft blanket in your flannel pj’s holding a mug of something sweet and warm is strong. And the best way to bring that feeling inside is with something that tantalizes the sniffer. Blusters the honker. Sings to the bugle. (AKA – is really pleasing to the nose!)

    Once you make this heavenly potpourri, you’ll be tempted to stay home all day and just sniff the aroma all around you. I promise.

    perfectlydestressed.com

    Cinnamon & Spice Potpourri

    Ingredients
      

    • 1 cup dried orange & apple slices You can purchase them packaged and pre-dried. You can also slice your own oranges and apples and dehydrate them in a dehydrator or straight on your oven rack set at the lowest setting (250°) until dried out (about 2-3 hours) turning them every half hour or so. They will stick to a tray, which is why they should be placed directly on the rack.
    • 1 cup dried anise stars
    • 1 cup dried rosehips
    • 1 cup whole cloves
    • 1 cup cinnamon sticks
    • homemade gingie kids from recipe above

    Instructions
     

    • Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl or container. Take a few really good sniffs to let the amazing scent settle into the depths of your nostrils.
      Potpourri can be set out in a bowl dry or placed in a pot of boiling water to simmer over the stovetop.
      For gift-giving, separate potpourri mix into smaller boxes or bags tied with ribbon for a perfect housewarming gift, hostess gift, Christmas gift or simple "Just Because" gift.

    Notes

    For an adorable Christmas addition, mix in my Cinnamon Gingie Kids (below) to the potpourri!
    perfectlydestressed.com

    Cinnamon Gingie Kids

    Ingredients
      

    • 1 cup ground cinnamon
    • 1 tbsp ground cloves
    • 1 tbsp ground nutmeg
    • ¾ cup applesauce
    • 2 tbsp white craft glue

    Instructions
     

    • Preheat oven to 200°. You can also omit the oven and let the ornaments air dry in a sunny spot for 4-5 days.
    • Stir together cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Mix in the applesauce and glue. Whip the mixture with your stand mixer or just your hands for a few minutes until a ball forms. If mix is too gooey, add more cinnamon. If it's too dry, add more applesauce.
    • Lightly dust your work surface with cinnamon. Roll out dough to approx. ¼ inch thickness. Using desired cookie cutter shapes, cut out dough and place on non-stick sprayed pans. Don't forget to punch a hole using a toothpick or skewer if you wish to hang them with ribbon or add a bow.
    • Bake for 3 hours.
    • Allow to cool completely.

    Homemade-ish

    The Best Frozen Butterbeer

    perfectlydestressed.com

    Watching Harry Potter is always a fun time. But, I’m tellin’ ya, watching Harry Potter with a Frozen Butterbeer is the absolute best!

    Being crazy ridiculously HUGE HP Fanatics, my family has tried many different Butterbeer recipes until we found THE one. The one recipe that makes us giddy excited to make a trip to our local grocer to pick up the few ingredients needed. The one recipe that everyone in this house loves and looks forward to.

    And now, I’m sharing the Harry Potter LOVE with you!

    All you need is: Vanilla Ice Cream, Ice, Cream Soda, Butterscotch Sauce and Whipped Cream. And of course, the entire Harry Potter movie series!

    perfectlydestressed.com

    Frozen Butterbeer

    Ingredients
      

    • 2 cups Vanilla Ice Cream
    • 2 cups Ice Cubes
    • 2 cups Cream Soda
    • 2-3 tbsp Butterscotch Sauce
    • Whipped Cream

    Instructions
     

    • Add ice cream, ice and soda in the blender.
    • Once blended, add 2 tbsp. butterscotch and mix again.
    • Pour into ice cold mug, add a dollop of whipped cream and a bit of drizzled butterscotch on top.
    • Must drink while watch Harry Potter!

    Crap I've Made

    Pegboard Bookshelf Doors

    perfectlydestressed.com

    One of our many stuck-at-home-going-stir-crazy Quarantine projects was this bookshelf. I wanted it to match the home library we already have in the dining room. You can see it here.

    I totally love having a space for my own personal books, but I wasn’t loving how cluttered it always looked. I tried a few different ways to style the shelves and none of them left me content with the result. Plus, our Stick Figure Art (you can see those here), were always wonky and crooked. But, of course, I didn’t want just plain doors – blah! And wouldn’t it be so fun if said “doors” displayed all of my children’s priceless artwork?!

    So, off to Home Depot I went. I picked up 2 pieces of pegboard, some pine furring strips, brass door handles and brass hinges.

    perfectlydestressed.com

    After measuring the length and width of my bookshelf and dividing that size in half (while also allowing the space the hinges would take), I knew how large each door needed to be. For this project, I only needed two 48″x24″ prefinished white pegboard panels and (2) 2″x4″ pine pieces.

    I attached the cut pine to the outside of the pegboard using wood glue and a few wood screws. The panel was too hard for our handheld staple gun to go through and we didn’t have the right size nails for the air stapler, and honestly, I was entirely too lazy to go back to the store, so glue and screws were our next best option (screwed in from the underside of the panel, of course).

    perfectlydestressed.com

    Once the panel doors were constructed, it was time to sand and paint. I used a brush and acrylic white paint to paint the interior side of the pegboard and white spray paint for the front.

    After the paint was dry, I attached the handles. I knew the shelf sat a bit higher (and I’m not the tallest of folk) so I placed the handles a bit lower than halfway down instead of centered.

    perfectlydestressed.com

    Next came the hinges. I measured and screwed them into the doors first and then into the sides of the bookshelf.

    I ordered a set of inexpensive gold frames in multiple sizes, miniature bulldog clips as well as the pegboard metal prong hooks and Pegitz Pegboard Peg Locks needed to hand the frames. Now I don’t have to worry about the frames falling off when I open the doors.

    GAH! I literally cannot stop staring at the finished product! I even switched out the individual Stick Figure Art frames for a sturdy set of long gold frames to match the ones on the doors and keep those guys from getting all out of whack!

    Ramblings of a Mother

    Academically Speaking…

    perfectlydestressed.com

    Like every other parent I know in the midst of this crazy Pandemic, I’m completely overwhelmed with all of the upcoming school decisions, what-if questions without answers and “possible” Plan B’s (& Plan C’s & D’s). It’s unnerving and I feel like I’m slowly losing my ever-lovin’, Covid-hatin’ mind. Being an avid planner and organizer by nature, all the ‘unknowns’ are driving me bonkers!


    Can I get an ‘Amen’?!

     
    For now, this big ol’ fam of mine is trying to just keep on trucking. Planning for upcoming events and appointments while remaining fully aware that things will change multiple times in the days ahead. All we can do is just keep on keepin’ on, right?!

    As parents, we are charged with the impossible task of planning a future of “normalcy” while juggling the knowledge that the next handful of months (or possibly more) will be nothing at all like we had hoped.

    No matter what this new school year throws at us, whether it be in the buildings or online, being organized and on top of our calendar game is going to be more important than ever! Which is where needing a good academic planner comes into play.

    And guys, I’m totally loving this  Order Out Of Chaos Academic Planner! It’s a clear-cut calendar system with plenty of space for notes, reminders and assignments. The Accessory Pack w/Page Marker, Monthly Tabs & Student Stickers make keeping on task that much easier! Plus, who doesn’t love cool stickers?!

    We may not have much control over how this new academic year’s going to look, but we can at least have control over getting our crap organized!


    Bonus! 

    My reader friends can use code MBC20 for 20% off your order!

    Crap I've Made

    Homemade Mosquito Repellent

    perfectlydestressed.com

    I know I’ve already shared all of my super Top Secret tips and tricks to camping in the great outdoors in my Tired Mother’s Guide to Camping with Kids, but I also wanted to share my recipe for Homemade Mosquito Repellent that is not only good for camping but excellent for use all summer long.

    I don’t know about you, but I’ve always disliked spraying my kids with drugstore mosquito repellent products. When I read the label, I feel like they’re full of unknown crap and the over the counter sprays tend to leave their skin feeling sticky and gross. Not a good combination of feelings on hot summer nights.

    perfectlydestressed.com

    I decided to try my own hand at a more natural, homemade option.

    Now, I should definitely disclose that I don’t normally use essential oils for anything in my home other than to put in my cute lil’ diffuser that I absolutely love as a “cover up the baby poop smell” air freshener. That’s it. I’m not rollin’ it on my armpits or behind my ears or any other place that may be unmentionable. I purchased a set of 6 cheapo oils on Amazon for like $9 to use in said diffuser. This was literally the only time I’ve bought and used essential oils for any purpose.

    I’ll definitely be using them a bit more now when I need to make a new batch of this mosquito repellent, though. Most of the oils in the recipe are fairly common to come across. I’ve seen them at the grocery store and at most drug stores. I did need to order the citronella oil online as that was the only ingredient I didn’t have on hand. (Yes, that absolutely means I had a huge bottle of vodka in our garage fridge. Don’t judge me, Karen. Sometimes alcohol makes me a better mother…)

    I promise you that this DIY Bug & Mosquito Repellent is clean, fresh and doesn’t leave an oily residue. Plus, you can make it in under 5 minutes (and it’s cheap to make – once you buy the initial supplies, you have plenty to make many additional batches!)

    Homemade Mosquito Repellent Spray

    Ingredients
      

    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1/2 cup Witch Hazel
    • 1 tbsp rubbing alcohol or vodka
    • 30 drops Citronella essential oil
    • 30 drops Lemongrass essential oil
    • 20 drops Lavender essential oil
    • 20 drops Tea Tree essential oil
    • 20 drops Eucalyptus essential oil
    • 10 drops Peppermint essential oil

    *the essential oil amounts and types you use are really up to you. I personally love the smell of the spray with all of the listed oils together. But, if one or two of these oils aren’t exactly your cup o’tea, just omit them (with the exception of the Citronella as it’s the main ingredient to deterring those pesky blood suckers.)

    Ramblings of a Mother

    The Tired Mother’s Guide to Camping with Kids

    perfectlydestressed.com

    It’s no easy feat to take on camping in the wilderness with little ones (and even not-so-little-ones). Whether it’s one kid, 3 kids or 8 kids, it’s a J.O.B. and you have to approach it like a B.O.S.S or you will F.A.I.L.

    perfectlydestressed.com

    I always laugh when people ask how our “vacation” went when we return from camping. I mean, really? That’s a pretty loose term when applied to sweating over an open fire trying to cook rudimentary potatoes and meat, or to describe the act of sleeping outside with the only barrier separating you and trash pandas is a thin piece of canvas or attempting to play cards on a picnic table under a tree canopy in the rain. Don’t get me wrong, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives of enjoying the great outdoors with the fam. But still, I’m literally Suzy Homemaker in the middle of the woods with limited supplies, bugs everywhere, stinky kids, stinky shoes, stinky towels, stinky dogs, stinky everything and typically no washer, dryer, dishwasher or actual bathtub in sight. And don’t even get me started on the “Camping 10” (you haven’t heard of the Camping 10? Think Freshman 15, Covid 15 etc…) Eating is the main past-time for our trips. (I’m fairly certain for me it’s actually stress-induced eating. Plus, it’s s’mores guys. Come on….)

    perfectlydestressed.com

    In all honesty, we really do love it. The joy I see on my kids faces when we’re camping or when they’re retelling a funny camping story from the past makes all the list making, packing, food shopping, sweating, dirt and laundry (so much friggin’ laundry) worth it. We log off the internet and log in to each other. There’s conversations, laughter, fighting and games – it’s what memories are made of, my friends.

    Through the years I’ve tried loads of different hacks or tricks to survive our camping trips. With over 20 years of many successful endeavors and many, many failures, I’ve compiled a list of my best tips to survive camping with kids and pets (and husbands).

    Lists

    Lists are your friend, my friend. Before you leave to go shopping, before you order anything from Amazon, before you raid your pantry, make a list. Plan out your meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Now, don’t panic. I don’t mean necessarily plan every single meal for every single day (although you totally could if that puts you at ease). I simply mean to figure out what you’re going to eat during the trip as a whole – one day hot-dogs, one day pizza pies, one day meat and potatoes, etc. Then you can break up those meals into your grocery list.

    • How much you buy and pack before you leave relies heavily on how long you will be gone and if you are planning on doing any grocery shopping while camping. If you are camping for an extended length of time and will be making many camping stops along the way, plan for a few days to a week of food at a time. Map out local grocery stores closest to where you will be for reference and give yourself one day in your planning to shop and restock.
    • Most campgrounds have general stores within them for emergency supplies (camper accessories, parts for repair or basic medicine) and camping basics (ice, forgotten marshmallows, a can of soup or a quart of milk) but expect to pay more for these items.
    perfectlydestressed.com

    Supply lists – This is not something I throw together the day before. I usually start these about a week before we head out. This allows me time to add to it as I go about my business. You’d be surprised how easily you can forget to pack a package of chocolate, a phone charger, a ball cap or socks.

    Next Time List – I keep a notepad and pen in the camper so I can write out my Next Time List at the end of each trip. It is all the things we wish we had brought, forgot to pack or need to remember to do before our next outing (there’s always something that needs fixed after each trip – I guess it’s part of the joy of camping in a 5 decade old camper am’i’right?!)

    perfectlydestressed.com

    Snack Basket

    Instead of packing loads of boxes and bags of individually wrapped snacks, I open them all up and dump them into a big plastic tote/basket with handles. Easy to grab and throw in the van during travel, in the camper or tent at night and on-the-go to the beach or pool.

    Meal Prep

    I try to clean, cook and prepare as much food as I can beforehand. For instance, if we are planning on having taco salad one night, I brown and season the meat the day before we leave, store it in a plastic bag and throw it in the fridge or cooler. If we are having a dinner with potatoes, I peel, cut and boil them for a few minutes at home. Potatoes take forever to cook over a fire. Having them already blanched will save you loads of time. Fun foil meals (for example: ground beef, potatoes, carrots, onions and seasoning) can be packaged and wrapped at home and stored in ziplocs (don’t forget to boil your potatoes and carrots first!). Sausage, biscuits and gravy is a must-have breakfast for us. My aunt taught me years ago to bake the biscuits before I leave home (genius!) Veggies – wash, cut and individually bag to make for easy addition to lunches, snacks or salads. The more work you do at home before you leave, the more “relaxed” the trip will feel and will relieve a lot of the stress at meal time.

    Frozen Foods

    Freeze as much as you can before you go. Water bottles, chocolate bars for s’mores, yogurts, bags of water, etc. Not only will it help keep your cooler well, cooler, it will also provide a super cold drink or a great snack for a hot day – frozen yogurt tubes are the bomb!

    Water Bottles

    We’re not big soda pop drinkers. And we try to encourage using reusable water bottles as much as we can. But sometimes we can’t help but grab a case of water bottles while camping for the convenience. When we do, only one case/trip is our rule. I have a plastic food storage canister in the camper that holds a sharpie marker, a pair of scissors and a whole bunch of individual water flavoring packets. Each kid gets one water bottle at the beginning of our trip. The very first thing they do is label the bottle and the lid. They can refill the bottle at the spigot and if the water is especially “campy” flavored (if you’ve often drank from campground spigots you know what I’m talking about) a packet of fruit, tea or lemonade flavoring will mask the strange taste and keep the kiddos well hydrated.

    CrockPot

    Planning on going out for the day to swim, hike or explore? Throw your meal into a CrockPot before you leave on low and have dinner ready and waiting for you when you get back.

    • Our personal favorite is BBQ Chicken Sandwiches – chicken breasts and barbecue sauce in the CrockPot on low for 5-6 hours. Shred cooked chicken (we like to recoat our cooked chicken with a new bottle of barbecue sauce) and serve on a hamburger bun.

    Pots & Pans

    A plastic storage tote is perfect for holding your camping pots and pans. The tote keeps them all together, clean and slides right underneath the camper when not in use.

    Clothing

    We’ve camped in a tent, in a pop-up and now we have “upgraded” to a 50 year old smaller travel trailer. When we pack for our trips, no matter where we are sleeping, space is always a factor. Not many campers are built to hold all the food, clothing and supplies for a family of 10 so I’ve had to get a little creative and think outside the box.

    • Extra clothes. Basic rule – the younger the child, the more extra sets of clothes I pack. One outfit per day, with an additional 2-5 per child. Note: A lot of campgrounds offer coin washer and dryers. I try to keep a handful of rolls of quarters in our camper for emergency washes. ‘Cause *hit happens.
    • Clothes Roll, Clothes Roll, Clothes Roll. This little extra step in packing our clothes has saved us loads of space and headaches during the dreaded end of the day, crabby kids shower house packing time. Lay out shorts or pants, the shirt on top, a pair of underwear and then socks. Roll the outfit like a burrito. Wrap a rubber band around it and you’ve got an easy-to-grab clothes roll. Typically we place each kid’s clothes rolls in a paper grocery bag and shove them in the under bed storage.
    • No pajamas. We gave up PJ’s while camping years ago. Shower in the evening, wear tomorrow’s clothes to bed, wake up and go in the morning. No muss and fuss with pajamas and the kids love that they can literally wake up and start their day.
    • Big canvas laundry bags are amazing for storing dirty clothes. We typically store them in the back of the van when they get full (who the heck wants to sleep next to those stinky, nasty bags anyway?!) I throw them in the wash at home along with the clothes and store them back in the camper until the next time we go out!
    perfectlydestressed.com
    The Aftermath of a Week Long Camping Trip

    Shoe Storage

    We pack one pair of shower shoes (flip flops), one pair of creek walkin’ or river wadin’ shoes and one pair of tennis shoes. That’s 3 pairs each for 10 people and a whole heckuvalotta shoes. And after a few days, they get quite smelly (if you have boys, chances are they smell from the start anyway). I’ve learned that a plastic laundry basket is the key to our shoe dilemma. The holes allow them to air out and one basket means one spot for easy and quick storage. It probably should be noted, that due to the general aroma of said shoes, the basket stays outside the camper door. * I do try to line up the water shoes or any wet shoes in the sun during the day to try to dry them up and sanitize them a bit.*

    Hanging Shoe Storage

    These babies are not just for shoes! They’re amazing for camping crap storage, too! I prefer the heavy-duty canvas hangers to the cheap dollar store plastic ones, but either will serve the purpose! I have one hanging right inside our camper door to hold all the little things we need while setting up, tearing down or just daily (zip ties, hooks, flashlights, dog leashes, trash bags, etc.), one on our teeny tiny itsy bitsy bathroom wall to hold the toiletries (soap. toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, etc) and one in the storage closet for batteries, bug spray, sunscreen, lightbulbs, etc.

    Shower House Buckets

    Who knew a 5 gallon plastic bucket (found at Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, Menards, etc.) could be so useful in the shower? We have one “Girls” bucket and one “Boys” bucket. Each holds all the shower basics – shampoo, soap, face wash, washcloths, etc. The kids grab their clothes roll, grab their towel, stuff them in the bucket and walk down to the shower house with only a bucket to carry between the group of them. For us, there’s multiple bars of soap and bottles of shampoo in both buckets to allow more than one person to shower at a time – but the bucket is big enough to hold it all! Plus, if there’s a line to take a shower, the bucket gives the impatient little people a place to sit while they wait.

    Plastic Drawers

    Plastic drawer carts are a great solution for pet supplies, diaper and wipe storage, toy storage, and even food storage. They can be placed in the back of your vehicle for easy access, in your camper or even in your tent. Lightweight and easy to move, they’re a must-have for organized camping.

    Beach Survival

    Heading to the beach? Grab a bottle of baby powder!

    You know that moment when you’re leaving the beach at the end of a hot day, everyone is tired and crabby, you’re sweaty from carrying all the supplies a gazillion miles through the steamy sand to where your parked and you realize that everyone is about to get in the van covered in sand? And you also uncomfortably realize there’s sand in places that sand should most definitely not be? Baby powder to the rescue! Just sprinkle on legs, feet, arms, in underwear, in pits, on the back of your neck, etc and brush the sand right off. You’re welcome (’cause I know you’re gonna be thanking me later!)

    • Beach toys (which for us is also rock toys, dirt toys, grass toys, everything camping toys) are a necessity. Grab a cheap white mesh net laundry bag from the dollar store to hold the toys. Most have a drawstring for closing which is just a bonus for carrying around! The mesh fabric allows sand and dirt to fall through and air circulation for anything that may be still wet when thrown in. Plus, if it gets really gross, you can just wash the bag out in the water!
    • Plastic zip-up comforter and sheet bags are ideal for holding camping supplies! We have one that holds our silverware caddy, one that holds our plastic plates, cups and bowls, one for napkins and a few larger ones that hold our towels. We place our storage bags right on the picnic table or food prep table outside. They keep your dishware and silverware dry and clean while allowing easy access for use.
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    Back-Up Activities

    The weather can change in a minute – especially if you are camping in the mountains. I keep a big plastic tackle box full of coloring books, notepads, crayons, markers, a deck of cards and a few travel-sized board games for rainy days, when I need to keep the kiddos close but busy while I cook or clean or simply to give myself a break.

    perfectlydestressed.com

    Bug Fan

    I’m not a fan of eating my food while covered in flies, mosquitos and gnats. It’s a major sanity breaking point for me. My husband learned years ago that his wife is much happier at dinner time if there’s a box fan on the table, set to high, blowing all those obnoxious bugs away while we eat. Game.Changer.

    Light

    A few cheapo solar light garden stakes are a perfect way to light the path to your tent, your camper or your picnic table without worrying about extension cords all over the place.

    Plastic Trays

    Plastic art & activity trays are a great addition to any traveling or camping trip. The trays stack up for easy storage and make a great solution to eating in the car on-the-go or eating in a cramped camper or tent if the weather is uncooperative. They’re also great for holding toys, art supplies and legos while the kiddos play in the car.

    Hand Washing Station

    Even if your campsite sits fairly close to a water spigot, you will be surprised how much little ones will need to wash (or at least rinse) off their hands and feet. A 5 gallon water carrier sitting on the edge of the picnic bench seat, on a stool or on a stump with a roll of paper towels bungee-corded around the top and a pump of soap right next to it will be well worth the 5 minutes it takes to set up.

    Camping Supplies

    The more you camp, the more supplies and gear you will accumulate. Keeping your camping stuff in the camper when not in use or in plastic storage totes around the house makes for way easier preparation packing. There are a few shelves in our garage reserved for our extra supplies. This makes it a simple grab and go when it comes down to packing day. Trust me: a little garage, shed or basement reorganizing to give yourself a place to store your camping crap together will be well worth the effort later.

    Odds & Ends

    Sometimes there are things you don’t even think about needing until you need it, ya know? Like backpacks (great for hiking, swimming, walking or exploring), binoculars, a small travel cooler, table cover, sunglasses, hammocks, a radio, tissues, toilet paper, baby wipes, eye drops, q-tips, extra paper towels, trash bags, umbrellas, clothesline, citronella candles, a firefly catching jar and a hatchet)

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    Crap I've Made

    Father’s Day DIY Gift Ideas

    perfectlydestressed.com

    Need a quick do-it-yourself idea for Dad? Don’t panic – I’ve got you covered! Here are 3 of my favorite Dad DIY’s that you can make in a day!

    Locally Made Liquor Tied With A Duct Tape Bow

    These bows were crazy easy to make and are a great way to present a bottle of locally distilled liquor. Simply wrap a strip of duct tape around the width of the bottle. Then, for the bow, fold a length of tape on itself so the “sticky sides” are pressed together (mine were about 18″ long to start). Next I formed the bow and used a separate narrow strip of duct tape to hold it together. I attached the back of the bow to the strip of tape using a small piece of rolled tape.

    perfectlydestressed.com

    Sports Door Hanger

    Made with authentic baseballs and a mini bat, this door hanger is perfect for a sports fan!

    (click picture to take you to the full DIY directions!)

    perfectlydestressed.com

    Sports Beer Caddy

    Does Dad like to watch his favorite sports team’s games with friends and neighbors? Make him his own BYO beer caddy to take along with him!

    (click picture to take you to the full DIY directions!)

    Cleveland Indians Beverage Carrier

    Crap I've Made

    4 Simple Steps to Spruce Up Your Yard

    perfectlydestressed.com

    This post was sponsored by WORX Tools. All opinions are my own.

    Caring for my large family, instructing school at home, and basic every-day housekeeping tends to take up a majority of my time. I try to maintain our yard and flower beds to keep up the exterior appearance of my home, but sometimes the lawn just gets the best of me and the weeds and grass get out of hand! I decided it was time to tackle that side flower bed that has been left untended and unloved since we originally built our front porch (ahem, 4 years ago!) It’s one of those “out of sight, out of mind” spots outside my home and it was past time I gave it a little TLC. I’ve broken down my flower bed makeover in 4 simple steps. 

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    perfectlydestressed.com

    Step 1: Use a Landroid Cordless Robotic Lawn Mower

    I mean, a lawn mower that mows the lawn on it’s own and even returns itself to the recharging base when it’s finished? I think I’m in love! I can’t even get my kids or my husband to put their shoes away after they wear them! 

    Set-up is a breeze and took just about an hour. There’s a lot of pictures in the Quick Start Guide, which is great for me. I’m a visual learner and tend to speed through the words, not to mention there’s typically kids running all around distracting me, so the pictures were definitely my friends!

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    Once we constructed the charging base or “garage” as my kids refer to it, we placed it on the side of our barn as it only receives the morning sun and was away from the play area. 

    After measuring 10” from the edge of all of our lawn and gardens, we installed the boundary wire using the stakes directly to the surface of the lawn. And thanks to the Anti-Collision System, this robo guy senses my fences and even my kids playground equipment and toys (that are typically all over the place!) He simply detects them and navigates around them. No worries about anything being run over or ruined if we forget to do a toy clean-up before mowing day!

    perfectlydestressed.com
    perfectlydestressed.com

    Step 2: Pull The Weeds

    I know there are a load of spray weed killers on the market that can be used in the garden, but I prefer a “greener” route. I use a lot of elbow grease and patience and pull the weeds out at the root. Plus, if you have little helpers, they consider this tedious chore quite fun! Just be prepared for many, many, worm and bug distractions!

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    Step 3: Add Color

    These DIY Concrete Flower Blocks were the perfect way to add some visual interest and a pop of color to this flower bed without spending a lot of money on pots. 

    perfectlydestressed.com

    They were fast and simple to make – in under an hour I had these adorable blocks planted and in the garden!

    Taking 5 single, clean concrete blocks, I spray painted them yellow on the 4 sides and top. I didn’t bother with the bottom as I knew that would be sitting down in the soil. 

    perfectlydestressed.com
    perfectlydestressed.com

    Once dry, I filled them with potting soil and planted 3 annual flower bundles in each opening.

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    Don’t forget a good, thorough watering for your newly transplanted flowers!

    Step 4: Compost Mulch

    This side garden was once full of perennials. Many of the plants were destroyed due to the construction from the porch addition. I planted some temporary blooms to the garden with annual flowers along the border until the perennials (hopefully) return to their original glory. The mulch compost adds a layer of protection against future pesky weeds and controls erosion – which is great since it’s on a bit of an incline – all while adding organic matter for good soil nutrition. Win, win, win!

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    The end result is a flower bed that so many of my neighbors have complimented me on as they stroll by! It feels so good to check something off the bottom of the dreaded “To-Do” list!

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    Crap I've Made

    Lace Doily Candle Bowls

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    This post was sponsored by Aleene’s. All opinions are my own.

    I adore candles in my home and decor. Real, battery operated, tapered or tealight, I love ‘em all! These DIY Doily Bowls are a shabby-chic simple way to provide a gorgeous base for the candle of your choice. The warmer days have got me itching to visit the beach, and the beautifully trimmed lace doily filled with cool, white sand just screams “Boho Summer” to me. Aleene’s Premium Decoupage glue makes creating the look a breeze!

    Gather your supplies:

    Aleene’s Premium Decoupage 

    Small Craft Paint Brush or Foam Brush

    Latex Balloons (one per bowl – any color)

    Doily (paper or fabric)

    Twine

    Step 1: Inflate balloon. 

    Keep in mind the size of your doily (mine are approx. 12” round) combined with the size of your balloon will dictate the size of your bowl. Tie your balloon closed and place it – tie side down – into a container to hold it steadily while you work. 

    Step 2: First glue layer.

    After deciding on your preferred finish (I used glossy for the paper doilies and matte for the fabric), apply a thin layer of glue onto your balloon with your brush making sure to place glue everywhere the doily will lay. 

    Step 3: Place doily.

    Center the middle of the doily to the top of the glue-covered balloon and gently apply.

    Step 4: Final Coat.

    Add another coat of glue on the doily. This is a slow and steady process. You don’t want to add too much at a time as it could drip over your workspace and possibly rip if you are using paper. 

    * But don’t fret! This glue cleans up easily with soap and water and is very forgiving with mistakes! If you find that you’ve ripped your paper doily, push it gently back into place with your finger and add a thin layer of glue. Adding multiple thin coats will be more beneficial than one thick coat.

    Step 5: Allow to fully dry. 

    Many factors come into play here – from humidity to glue thickness – you want to ensure they are completely dry before moving on! 

    Step 6: Pop the balloon! 

    You could always untie the knot too, but that’s no fun! Warning – sometimes when the balloon deflates, it deflates the doily along with it!

    * But don’t fret! If the glue is still tacky, it may cause the balloon to stick to the inside of the doily bowl. When the balloon deflates, the doily folds into itself too! Don’t panic! Simply remove the balloon pieces from the inside and reshape your bowl. You’ll be surprised how easily you can reshape it! You may want to let it sit a bit longer at this point just to make sure it really is fully dry before adding your filler. 

    Step 7: Add bow (optional). 

    I just love the rustic feel of twine with the delicate look of the doily!

    Step 8: Add filler. 

    I used white craft sand to complete the soft, romantic, beachy look. But you can fill them with colored sand, small pebbles, coffee beans – whatever tickles your fancy! If you didn’t quite get as much of an even coat of glue as you thought, you may notice there’s a few small openings that the filler may get through. If you choose to not use filler, place a glass dish at the bottom of the bowl to keep the wax from dripping straight onto your doily.

    *But don’t fret! A small piece of paper towel or even paper cut to size to fit in the bottom of the bowl will prevent leaking!

    Step 9: Add candle. 

    If you’re worried about the hazards of a real flame, or you are using them at a venue with candle regulations, a battery operated light would be just as stunning!

    Crap I've Made

    Crazy Cool Sunglasses

    perfectlydestressed.com
    perfectlydestressed.com

    Spruce up a pair of cheapo, plain dollar store sunglasses to make some crazy cool shades.

    All you need for these novelty glasses:

    foam shapes, felt shapes, small dinos, small plastic bugs, pom pom balls, googly eyes or whatever else you can find that can be hot glued onto the frame of your shades

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    Homemade-ish

    Breakfast Popsicles

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    perfectlydestressed.com

    Popsicles for breakfast? Why the heck not?!

    perfectlydestressed.com

    Ingredients
      

    • 2 cups vanilla yogurt or greek yogurt if you prefer
    • 1 cup flavored milk strawberry, chocolate, or regular milk depending on the flavor of your cereal
    • 1 cup dry cereal
    • 1 large banana or 2 small – banana is optional

    Instructions
     

    • Using a mixer, mix the banana until mashed and smooth. 
    • Slowly mix in yogurt and milk to mashed banana. Continue mixing until blended.
    • Next add the cereal. To avoid crushing the cereal, it's best to stir it in by hand.
    • Pour into popsicle molds. I was able to fill 2 8-count popsicle molds with this recipe.
    • Freeze overnight. Enjoy in the morning (or whenever!)
    Crap I've Made

    Bouncy Galactic Balls

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    I have to admit something to you guys. I’m not the “Fun Slime-Making Mom“. I despise slime. I just.can’t.handle.the.mess. It’s not my favorite thing. When they bring it home from school or from a friend’s house, I cry inside. I rarely say yes when my kids want – no, beg – to make it. Even though we typically always have the ingredients. Phew. There. I’ve said it.

    Buuuut, these Bouncy Galactic Balls are more my speed. They’re simple to make, easy to clean up and make little mess during play. That, my friends, is what I’m talkin’ bout!

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    Bouncy Galactic Balls

    Ingredients
      

    • 1/2 cup hot water
    • 1 tbsp Borax
    • 2 tbsp glitter glue or 2 tbsp clear glue with food coloring

    Instructions
     

    • Mix the hot water and Borax together in a bowl
    • Drop glitter glue into water. The glue will begin to harden. After about 15 seconds, grab the blob of glue and squeeze with your hands until there is no more liquid dripping out of the blob. Shape the blob into whatever form you like. Allow to air dry for about an hour and then bounce and squeeze away!
    • As long as the water is still warm, you can continue to use the same water/Borax mix for different colored glue.
    • If you do not want to wait for the blobs to dry, adding a tbsp of corn starch to the glue before dropping it into the water will quicken the dry time (but also clouds the color).