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    Crap I've Made

    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.
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    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?!)

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    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!
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    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.

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    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

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    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. 

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    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. 

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    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

    perfectlydestressed.com
    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

    perfectlydestressed.com

    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).
    Crap I've Made

    Tissue Paper Art

    perfectlydestressed.com

    Ever since we’ve been in Corona lock-down, I’ve been thinking about creating something with the kids that would provide a bit of personalized, fun color to my walls. These stick figure pictures did the trick!

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    I made them using canvas panel boards and craft tissue paper – it cannot be regular tissue paper because the tissue paper must bleed color when wet.

    To begin, I lightly traced fun stick figures onto the canvas boards with pencils. I tried to make them match each kiddos personality (and hair!)

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    Next, I let the kids finish creating their figures using permanent marker. My initial pencil outline was just to serve as a template for them to work from because I knew I wanted the figures to be similar in size. They were each free to change their arms, legs, clothing, etc as they saw fit. Once they were finished drawing their figures, we erased the pencil markings.

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    I cut the tissue paper into different shapes for different kids in hopes of each piece having a slightly different look (I wasn’t quite sure if this would work – but it did!)

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    Taking a cup of water and a cheap paint brush, we brushed the canvas with water, placed a tissue shape on top and continued with this process until the canvas was as filled as they wanted. Some of the kids overlapped while others did single, even layers. There really is no wrong way to do it! But, the more colors on top, the more color at the end!

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    Once the canvas was filled with tissue, we painted a layer of water on top and set them aside for about 20 minutes. You don’t want the tissue to completely dry (it will be difficult to remove), just to sit long enough to thoroughly bleed the color. This may vary depending on the amount of water that was used.

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    After peeling the tissue shapes off the board, we waited overnight for the canvas to fully dry. I chose to mount the boards in inexpensive white frames to dress them up a little.

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    FYI: One pack of tissue paper was more than enough for all 8 of my kids to use. We actually still have quite a bit left over for future art projects!

    Crap I've Made

    Stress Relief Balls

    perfectlydestressed.com
    perfectlydestressed.com

    Are you feeling the stress of all this social distancing?! These DIY Stress Relief Balls just may be what you need!

    If your fun and colorful DIY playdough from above has been all squished together into a not-so-pretty shade of brown like ours, this idea will give you another use for it!

    All you need are a few empty balloons, some yarn and a sharpie marker!

    Fill the balloon with the playdough we made here by stretching the opening with your fingers and having a helper push the playdough into the forced opening. I used about a 1/4 of a cup playdough for each balloon.

    Knot the balloon closed, tie yarn around the knot for fun “hair” and give your stress ball silly faces using the sharpie marker.

    Now go squeeze that stress and anxiety away!

    Crap I've Made

    DIY Lava Lamps

    perfectlydestressed.com

    This Science Experiment is totally groovy! It was fun, educational and simple.

    Gather your supplies:

    Container – I used Downey UnStoppable laundry bottles, but a water bottle, soda bottle, mason jar would work. Really anything as long as it’s tall, clear and clean!

    Effervescent Tablets (AKA Alka-Seltzer), Food Coloring, Vegetable Oil and Water.

    1. Fill your container 3/4 of the way full of vegetable oil (may be simpler to use a funnel here).
    2. Add about 20 drops of food coloring to 1 cup water.
    3. Using the funnel, pour water into container.
    4. Take 1 effervescent tablet and break into 4 pieces. Drop pieces into bottle.
    perfectlydestressed.com
    perfectlydestressed.com
    perfectlydestressed.com

    The Science Behind It:

    The water is more dense than the oil, so the water sinks. The tablets release carbon dioxide which forms the bubbles that rise through the water and oil, creating the “Lava” effect.

    Crap I've Made

    DIY Playdough

    perfectlydestressed.com

    Simple ingredients make for easy fun!

    perfectlydestressed.com
    perfectlydestressed.com

    DIY Playdough

    Ingredients
      

    • 2 cups white flour
    • 2 cups water
    • 1/2 cup salt
    • 2 tbsp coconut oil
    • 3 tbsp cream of tartar

    Instructions
     

    • Combine ingredients in a saucepan on stove top.
    • Over medium heat, stir continuously until a large ball forms.
    • Remove from heat and allow to fully cool.
    • Knead cooled playdough and add food coloring gel to make desired colors.
    • Store in ziplock bags or airtight tupperware.
    Crap I've Made

    DIY Postcards

    perfectlydestressed.com

    Fun Fact: did you know Girl Scout Cookie boxes make perfect postcards? As long as the card height is between 3.5″ & 4.25″ & the length between 5″ & 6″, you are following USPS postcard regulations AND the box also meets regulations for thickness!!!! Say whaaa? Glue on a colorful piece of paper to the front (or plain white printer paper; cut accordingly to match the cardboard) & have your kids draw a fun picture or design.
    Use a black marker to separate the message & address sections on the back (I added the address lines). Fill ’em out & mail ’em out or deliver to neighbor’s doors – if you really love them, I suppose you could maybe consider sharing your cookies, too. But that’s just a maybe… ♥️

    Crap I've Made

    Volcano

    perfectlydestressed.com

    perfectlydestressed.com

    We made a volcano. Like a paper-mache, painted, Science Fair quality (okay, that may have been a bit of an exaggeration) volcano. It was red hot awesome. From start to finish, the kids made it; with a teensy bit of help from me. Of course, my boys made a last minute decision to double the lava recipe. Go BIG or go home, right?! Just kidding – we are ALWAYS at home. This is what – Day 397 of Quarantine? I can’t remember. I lost count.

    The first step was to cut the spout off of a plastic soda bottle. Really any small bucket or container would work – depending on how large you want the end result. Next time, we’ll probably prop the bottle on to an empty upside-down plastic bowl or something to give the volcano more height. We used an old yard sign as our base, but a large piece of wood or cardboard would do the trick!

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    Next, for the “skeleton” of the volcano, we crumpled old newspaper and placed them around the soda bottle. I used painters tape to hold it in place (duct tape would work as well). There’s not an exact science here – just stop when it looks full.

    For the glue, I poured about 3 cups white craft glue into a cup or so of water and mixed it up. The popcorn bucket was the first thing I saw when I opened the cabinet. It was large, plastic and easy to clean!

    perfectlydestressed.com

    Next, take your left over newspaper pieces and tear them into workable strips. Dunk the whole piece in the glue mix, allow it to get soaked and ring it out. Start placing the wet newspaper pieces around the volcano skeleton. Allow to fully dry.

    We chose to paint the volcano in brown and green acrylic paint. Again, allow to fully dry.

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    Create your Lava – 1 cup white vinegar (use food coloring to tint it red if desired). You will need 4 tablespoons of baking soda.

    Pour the red vinegar into the soda bottle. Dump the baking soda into the vinegar and watch the chemical reaction cause your volcano erupt!

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I need friends – like, real friends. Follow me on Instagram to join the Cool Mom Club (okay, I totally just made that up. But, I think I’m pretty darn cool!)

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