DIY #6: The Christmas Tub: An Alternative to the Expensive Tree Skirt…

If you are like me, you have scoured the various fabulous home stores in search of the perfect tree skirt… only to be disappointed by the hefty price tag. $59.99 (or more) is JUST NOT HAPPENING SISTER!!!! I TOTALLY get it!!! That’s like five additional gifts I could put under the tree…. HELLO!!!! Well if this is you, fear not. I have a great alternative and cure for your “Tree Skirt Blues!!!” A super simple DIY project for the whole family to bring a little extra “joy” to your experience.  It is made with a galvanized tub and is especially perfect for the freshly cut trees that will need regular watering.

The first step is purchasing your tub. You can find these at most home improvement/hardware stores, including Home Depot, Ace Hardware and Tractor Supply Co. Look for the Behrens 16” galvanized steel tub. They are usually no more than $20.34ab6ec8-71ac-4728-855d-bdd6e20aa3df_1.aec77a83eb19ed2541aabc65a91d7beb.jpeg Next, you can select a paint color that matches your décor. I would recommend chalk paint as it will adhere to the metal surface best. I find white to be a great neutral color so that it can serve as the base for any decorating you may want to do thereafter. If you put a tarp down, and grab several paint brushes, this could be a great part for the kids to join in and help.

 Once the paint dries, you can use hot glue to add any accessories to match your décor. I love burlap, so in this picture, I wrapped the center of the tub with burlap and then added metal lettering. However, you can add glitter; surround your tub with pictures, letters, ornaments or whatever creative idea works for you and your family. 

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Once your masterpiece is complete, you can carefully place your tree (and stand) inside your bucket and enjoy worry-free watering. Just another way to customize your holiday experience and make it meaningful for the entire family… You can even make changes to it and use it year after year….thus enjoying YOUR journey!!! If you decide to make the Christmas tub, be sure to stop back by and post pics of your creation. Until then, Merry Christmas to you and yours!!!

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DIY #5: Create Your Own Picture Gallery: Our New Cure for Toilet Boredom. 😆😆😆

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Ok, before I begin, let me just say, I have no photography skills what so ever; and I don’t own some ridiculously priced professional camera. I am just a regular gal looking to furnish my new home as efficiently, and inexpensively as possible…All with a personal touch of course! So, if I can do this…SO CAN YOU!!! 🙂

My newest DIY project is a picture gallery wall. I’ve never seen this done before, but the idea stemmed from a contest my daughter and I had one weekend about a year ago.  My son was to return from a fieldtrip that evening. We weren’t too sure of his time of arrival, but we needed something fun to keep us occupied and we knew we needed to stay close to home. So, we decided to go get a cup of coffee, turn on some great music and have a “beautiful picture contest.” What is that you say? Well, we put my husband behind the wheel to do the driving, while Kennedy and I took out our phones and proceeded to take pictures of the scenes of beauty that fill our small-town community. Though we had never done this before, I found it easy discovering gorgeous elements large and small, significant and seemingly insignificant all around.  We had a BLAST!!!

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We took a TON of pics. According to my husband, Kennedy won the contest 😩😆; but it birthed yet another great idea. As we were looking for a large piece of art work to put on the empty space across from the toilet in our guest bathroom, it came to me that that very wall could pose as an AWESOME canvas for SEVERAL pieces of art: Our pictures!!!!! Thus the Gallery Wall was born!!!! I immediately dug into my archives from “the beautiful picture” contest and used those pictures, along with new additions I had taken, as well as a few I purposefully sought after. It was PERFECT!!!!

My first step was to collect 3 different frame sizes from Hobby Lobby. Of course, I went during the 50% off sale, so I got size 11″x14″, 8″x10″, and 5″x7″ frames, the largest costing $2.50 after the discount!!!! I decided that though the frames were beautiful as is, I wanted them to be a little darker in color, so I stained them.

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After staining the frames, I went to Walmart’s one hour photo lab to instantly print the pictures to fit the frames. This was a pretty neat experience because I could play with color, (black and white, sepia, bold etc…) zoom, and other editing features to ensure the look I sought. The prints ranged from $2.00 – $5.74 based on size. I took my time with this process, going back several times to preserve money as well as making the most of my experience.

Once all the pictures were printed, I decided I wanted to create a name and title sign for my photo gallery. After much consideration, Heavenly Grounds was PERFECT; thus HG Gallery for short.  We drilled four wooden boards together, added metal slats to the sides and a chain link for the top for esthetics more than anything. I even soaked the metal pieces in vinegar overnight to achieve more of a rusted look.

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Once my husband attached the sign to the wall, we continued to hang each picture frame. I considered forming a pattern for the pictures, but I went with a more random approach.

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At Home Depot, I found some metal plates ($.40 each) which seemed a perfect way to name-stamp each photograph. I’m not even sure what the metal plates are traditionally used for, but they were the perfect size and material to create an authentic “gallery” look.  I gave each photo a name, added the location and finally the photographer (which was either me or my daughter). I simply typed it up in a Word document, printed it on card paper, cut them out and attached them to the metal plates with hot glue.

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In total, I have 29 pictures. They sit right across from the toilet in our guest bathroom. I know it seems odd, but, so far, it has been the PERFECT cure for toilet boredom.😨😨Lolol! Though you may not need a magazine alternative for your bathroom, you can certainly use this idea in your hallway, stairway, bedroom, dining room or play room. Just another way to note super points while enjoying your journey…

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DIY: #4 Custom Wall Hanging Made by the Whole Family (DIWF) :-)

So, EVERY Friday is family night in our house. We go to basketball games, movies, dinner, bowling, skating etc… No matter what, whatever we do, we do it TOGETHER and we have done this since the kids were babies. However, THIS Friday was special because my daughter just found out she made the basketball team, she was named student of the month AND she got a 96% on the honors science test she had been studying for all week. PLUS, my son did very well on his test and some other goals he set for the week. So needless to say, I had to really BRING MY A GAME for the Friday night agenda!!!

Well, it just so happens that around the same time the kids had been experiencing alllll their success, I had my eye on this beautiful wall hanging I saw at one of the premier home furnishing stores. I had been eyeballing it for weeks and was all set to spend the $499 PLUS $50 shipping and taxes I had attempted to save for a while now. However, the amount was just not practical. While it would certainly be an easy swipe with a credit card, my husband and I committed to never using debt or credit for anything, so I had to consider another way to get this piece of beauty on my wall. A-HA!!! THAT’S WHEN IT HIT ME!!!!! THIS FRIDAY, MY FAMILY AND I COULD MAKE THE WALL HANGING!!!!  I could employ all our skills and talents and ATTEMPT to create this masterpiece right in our home for a FRACTION of the cost. And by golly, that is just what we did! :):):)

This is a picture of the piece I wanted for the wall.

 

I knew that somehow, together, we could work this out. So, after discussing the measurements and materials needed, we went to Home Depot to get 14 8’ 1”x 3” of untreated wood. We had them (unevenly) cut and looked for brackets to attach in the back. We finally got the stain needed to make our masterpiece complete. We cashed out at a total of $21!!! AWESOME!!! I was SO excited; I could hardly wait to get started!

We first laid the wood pieces down to create our perfect variant arrangement of the wood planks. Once assorted, my husband screwed the wood together with metal brackets.

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Later that evening, I glued and stained the pallets and left them out to dry.

The next morning, my son and daughter drew the map onto the stained wood with chalk. This way they were able to erase and correct any errors. They actually did it freehand, which was so impressive to me!

Once the kids were finished with their part, I added water to some chalk paint and carefully painted inside the lines.

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After the paint was dry, my husband added brackets to the back of all 4 pieces in preparation for hanging. He measured our space and carefully hung all four sections of our map…and VOILA!!!!!

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For a FRACTION of the cost and some great time together, we have made not only a super piece for our wall, but fond memories along the way. Surely there are imperfections, but we had a BLAST working as a team!  In the meantime, I’m still trying to get a portion of the savings from my husband!!!!! Lolol!!!! ☺☺☺ CHA-CHING!!!!! $$$$$ Next time you are looking for a great way to spend time, save money and let your creative juices soar…DIWF (DO IT WITH FAMILY) ☺☺☺

DIY: #3 CUSTOM BOOKSHELF/LIBRARY

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We had a chunk of wasted space on the side of our fireplace just BEGGING for purpose. That coupled with boxes of awesome books piled in our basement storage, led me and my husband to our latest creation: A homemade bookshelf/library of course!!!! Here’s how we did it:

We went to Home Depot and bought the wood. We wanted the shelves to be 12” wide and 2”thick, however, those boards were WAY too heavy. So we bought 2”x6” boards with the plan to attach them together. We had them cut to our desired length and got started by sanding down the rough edges.

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I combined two different colors of stain: dark walnut and kona, to get the look I was going for.

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Here is the space that was looking for love. Now that we have completed the bookshelf, I can’t believe I left it empty for so long!!! 🙂 However, it used to be the PERFECT spot for our Christmas tree!!!

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We used a simple metal attachment to join the wood together. Same look and affect as a 12″ board, though much lighter.

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Next, my husband and I had to decide the details that worked for us. How high up should we start the first shelf? How many shelves do we need?

 

How tall are most books? How far apart should we put each shelf? I love that there are no rules. Whatever works for you and your space is what you do. 🙂

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I ordered 10 corbels to fit my 12 inch shelves and my industrial/rustic style from TiredTruckDesigns on Etsy. I LOVE these corbels!!! They are beautiful, sturdy and work PERFECTLY for our design.  Thankfully, my husband is a master mathematician 🙂 so he measured 17” between each shelf and drilled them in accordingly.

 

We wanted to add a cool touch to the top shelf, so we went to Ace Hardware to come up with a creative way to attach it to the wall. After we chose our hardware, I spray painted it a flat black.

 

My husband carefully connected the hardware to the wall.

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I found some really cool ottomans from Overstock.com to fit under the shelf. They are SUPER comfy, chic and light enough to move freely. They were also very reasonably priced.

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And here it is. After great team work, a little time, and less than $200, we created a customized space in our home for all to share!!! HAPPY READING!!!! 🙂

My AWESOME Visit to the Magnolia Market!!!

Like most of the planet, I have completely fallen in love with Joanna and Chip Gaines and their awesome show Fixer Upper on HGTV. It’s not just the fact that they build and design amazing homes, but their downhome spirit, charisma and faith seem to exude in everything they do. For my birthday a few months back, my amazing husband planned a surprise trip to take me to the Magnolia Market in Waco. As a person who LOVES interior design, decorating, restoring and the like, it was the PERFECT trip for me. Of course, we took a million pictures, so I decided to share the experience with you!

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First, Waco itself, comes off as a basic city. It is small, has basic homes and basic business. The difference is, you can sense the spirit of the people and believe it or not, the spirit of Magnolia, in every facet of the town. Waco is a short and beautiful 1 ½ hour drive from Dallas. We stayed at a nearby hotel, SpringHill Suites  (Which by the way, I highly recommend!!! Free breakfast, new facility, hot tub in the room, super staff, affordable, and close to everything.)

The first day, we went right over to Magnolia. I must say, you are immediately greeted by the idea that you are not alone in your love for the Gaines!!! WOW. This place was PACKED!!! There was a line outside the door to get in!!! And we were EARLY!!!  Thankfully, there were friendly staff members at the door welcoming visitors, even passing out snacks while we waited.

Once we entered the building, we were surrounded by beautiful flowers, dishes, wall hangings, apparel, soaps, containers… DÉCOR GALORE!!!! Everything was better than I could imagine. As a home goods shopper and design enthusiast, I admit that if you shop at other interior, vintage, antique or restoration shops in your area, you will find similar products, however the collection that Magnolia offers, the ambiance of the building, the staff and the overall experience is one of a kind. Though the odds of you running into Joanna herself are ZERO, you can easily see why people come from all over the world to experience Magnolia. As a matter of fact, there is a guest book where you can sign and put from whence you came. While I signed it, I did a quick browse to see the various destinations from where people traveled. It was amazing.

We visited the garden area outside and sat in the antique truck that sits on the property. There are food trucks and an open area for kids to run and let loose. Upon looking, I actually saw many husbands sitting out there waiting on their wives to come out of the shop! Lol! The bakery and furniture store were in the making, which by now I believe are up and running.

I did make a couple purchases, but because we traveled by plane, I was limited in what I could buy. I was hopeful that I could just purchase some of the items from my wish list online once I got home. However, I was saddened to find that some of the really nice items, you can only purchase at the store.

Though the shop was pretty large and was packed with people, there seemed to be enough room to make the experience enjoyable and staff members were constantly replenishing items to the shelves. I can imagine the following will only grow over time. Thankfully they have added on other shops now which may help with overcrowding.

It was pretty neat to see the impact Magnolia has made on Waco, and how much Magnolia reflects the spirit of Waco. I think the residents are just blown away with the tourism it has drawn to their small town. After spending a couple hours at the Silos we ventured out into the city. We enjoyed an awesome lunch right around the corner at The Backyard. We had a great cup of coffee at Common Grounds (owners were filmed during Season 2 of Fixer Upper). There, we met the owners as well as several students from Baylor University (which was right across the street)… BEAUTIFUL by the way. We even caught a movie at an awesome theater near our hotel and enjoyed date night Tuesday (1/2 off) frozen yogurt shop, U-Swirl.

Overall, I had a BLAST!!! Visiting Waco was the perfect gift for me. I was inspired on so many levels and will continue with my own design adventures. Every place we visited was first class. We enjoyed sharing conversation with both the tourists and the locals. As God continues to elevate the Gaines Family in their endeavors, I can only imagine how it will bring attention to this awesome hidden gem. If you are looking for a super charming trip, visit Magnolia Market and Waco, Texas. You will NOT be disappointed!!!

 

DIY: #2 Chalkboard Panels: Operation Decorate the New House on a Budget in Full Affect!!!!

If you haven’t read my prior posts (boy, you are missing out!!! :-)), I will remind you that we recently downsized and built a new home and are tasked with decorating it on a very tight budget. Ok, so I admit that this was among the first projects I completed. I finished it in October, however, it is probably one of my favorite pieces and I must say we use it daily. It is a panel of chalkboards. They are HUGE and take up most of the wall in our dining room. I know there are a ton of chalkboard models out there, but this was an original piece to accommodate an interesting space, so my husband and I kinda winged most of the project in order to figure out our unique design and all for the less than $75.

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We went to Home Depot and purchased 4 chalkboard panels. They were $10 each. On the same trip, we measured the perimeter of the chalkboard and had them cut several pieces of thin wood to attach to each panel. We also cut a large piece of wood to act as the base for the piping. Later we came back with new measurements to purchase the piping and flanges to attach the panels to the board. Our dilemma was, how to hang the chalkboard panels to the piping. We scoured Ace Hardware and found some clamps with screws that allowed the panels to hang.

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Once I stained the wood for the perimeter and painted the wood to use as a base, I charged my husband with the difficult task of drilling it all to the wall. That may have been the most challenging part as once all panels, perimeters, clamps and screws were attached, they were hung by one piece of plumbing pipe…and they were extremely heavy!!! YIKES!!!  My husband used his bulging biceps to miraculously drill the loaded pipe into the wall… and VOILA!!!!! Our newest replacement to sticky notes and refrigerator magnets!!!

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I use the panels daily to write reminders, words of encouragement, scriptures, weekly menus…you name it!!! I think the kids feel really special when they wake up to a sweet note left especially for them. Not to mention a welcome note to guests when they visit. One of my FAVORITE projects to date!!!! 🙂

DIY: Operation Decorate/Accessorize New House on a Budget in Full Affect!!!

So…we have been here for little under a year; our cabin retreat in the mountains. We sold all of the furniture from our last home which means we are completely starting from scratch with furniture, accessories etc… I love the challenge of that because, not one piece of furniture from our last home would physically fit in here, but it also wouldn’t stylistically fit either. The style and size are TOTALLY different. I love that I am able to put my unique stamp on this new home and take it one room at a time. I do have a small “renovation budget” if you will, (and I do mean SMALL) so I have to make each dime of that stretch. I love that challenge as well because it forces me to get creative.  This home is a custom build. Most every square foot of it was made by one’s hands, so I must admit, I am merely accentuating the beauty that is already here. Not to mention, we are smack dab on the top of a mountain, which needs no accentuation what’s so ever…

My latest piece is a barn wood sign over my master bedroom window. I plan to create a sign with a personal phrase over each major window in all the rooms. Interestingly, they all face the mountain so therefore my goal is to put a cherry on top of each amazing ice cream sundae.

This is our master bedroom. After careful consideration, I chose the phrase right out of the bible: 1 Corinthians 13:13 … but the greatest of these is love. I toyed with other ideas, but love is a theme throughout our home and I thought what better place to reference love than directly from the scripture.

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I went to the local antique junk yard and bought an old 8ft piece of barn wood.

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I painted it white. However, I wanted the wood to show through, so I added water to the paint to thin it out a bit. wp-1460700113866.jpeg

I then ordered some rusted metal letters from Etsy (LOVE LOVE LOVE ETSY!!!). I considered the size and wording and ordered accordingly.

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Once the letters arrived, the greatest task was measuring. My husband and I measured the size of the letters against the length of the (uneven) board and glued them accordingly. I attempted to hot glue them, however that did not work, so we used industrial strength wood glue to attach the letters to the board.

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After the letters dried, we finally drilled the sign to the wall. In order to maintain the integrity of the old wood, we used the holes that were already in the wood and successfully drilled it in. And Voila!!!!… our finished product!!! 🙂

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DO IT YOURSELF!!!!

Recently, my husband completed our taxes using Turbo Tax. For the last 16+ years, we have always paid different accountants or other tax companies to do it for us.  The last two years, we were disappointed not only with our return, but the lackadaisical manner at which they were completed. Since we moved to a new area, we sought out reputable accountants that could file our returns for us to no avail. So, we decided, why not save a few dollars and headaches and attempt this ourselves? After filing with great ease and success, I was left to wonder, how many other ways do we put our fate in the hands of supposed trusted people, and at what cost? What other skills do we lack simply because we don’t try?

Think about it. Back in the day, I remember people growing their own food in the garden, changing their own oil, building their own sheds, changing their own tires, painting their own nails, washing their cars, dying their hair, booking their vacations, cutting and fertilizing their grass, cooking their food, etc… Today, we have gotten to the place where we can’t leave the house on a sunny afternoon without having someone else cut and paint our toenails for us. YIKES!!! We are quick to complain about the scratch put in our new car’s exterior paint job during the 5-minute automated car wash, yet we are too busy to wash it ourselves. In the meantime, a $10 car wash every week, $7 brow wax, $30 manicure, $90 lawn care, $50 dog grooming begins to add up…

The problem is not seeking out the help to perform tasks that clearly the professionals can do easier or faster than we can. Obviously, we all are super busy. But, at what cost? I find it interesting that we have gotten to the point where we will spend a large portion of our salaries paying for the ability to have many of these tasks performed for us. How much would we save, and not have to work if we simply did them ourselves? What new skills would we learn and be able to pass on to our children if we even tried?  A person who brings home $600 a week in pay, yet has a 1-hour commute, a $200 daycare bill, lunch in the lunchroom/restaurant, gas etc.. is ultimately working to pay for work. The idea of taking our 6-week old child to a daycare facility, depending on a restaurant to supply our nutrition regularly, expecting the local lawn company to keep our lawns looking pristine, not only makes us vulnerable to the level of excellence they CHOOSE to perform, but it costs a ton. When we did our taxes, we certainly put a lot more effort, time and care into the job than anyone else could. We learned a lot and saved a TON of money. You certainly would care for your child much better than the worker earning a minimal wage. And you would take pride in making your lawn look amazing because it is a reflection of you.

I am not suggesting that you drop your busy loads to complete menial jobs around your home. But perhaps we can all be mindful of just how much we spend and how often we put our responsibilities in the hands of others that otherwise are not connected to us in any way. God has given you grace to do all you need to do in your home. Be wise not to turn that authority over to complete strangers whose only motivation is not their service to you, not your best interest, but making a buck or two…

Ps. If you get a second, add some of the ways you save money by “doing it yourself” in the comment section below. Hopefully we can generate various ideas that would help us all…