Got the keys?

While we lived in Canada I was on a major organizing kick.  We had a giant house (5 bedrooms and a fully finished basement) which was about 3 times too big for our 3 person family.  It screamed for organization.

One of the easiest things to incorporate was a key holder.  I searched on Pinterest for awhile (where else??) and found this one that I really liked.  Clicking on the link revealed it to be in an etsy shop, on sale for a mere $33.  Thanks, but no thanks.  We made ours for about $ most kids, J has a bag of wooden blocks.  I dug through them until I found K E Y and S in a pattern.  Funny story:  3 year old J threw a fit when she saw this mounted on the wall!  She was not pleased that I had stolen some of her blocks.  Whoops!

Hubby took a scrap piece of wood from one of our many other projects and cut it approximately 10×4.  He painted it white with some leftover primer then picked up a set of 4 hooks for $2 at Lowes and twisted them in.  I hot glued the wooden blocks on, and BAM!  Finished!

Only problem?  I never remember to hang my keys on it!  According to Hubby, he hung it up on the wall directly across from the front door at eye level so I would see it when I walked in.  diy-key-holder-2However, at 5’2″, his estimate of my eye line was a bit’s about 2 inches too high to be in my line of vision.  So although the 75 sets of keys Hubby owns can always be found at a moment’s notice, I’m usually wondering around the house for 15 minutes looking for mine.  Because why wouldn’t they be on the sink in the upstairs bathroom??  Makes perfect sense.


What Time is it Mr. Fox?

I saw this awesome idea a few years back and immediately fell in love.  I pinned it for future use in my house.picture-frame-clockOnce we moved into our house in Ottawa I incorporated it into our decor.  And by that I mean I bought the picture frames, found coordinating pictures, bought the clock hands…and then handed it all to Hubby with a copy of the inspiration and said, “I want this.  Thanks!”

Needless to say, he was not pleased.  Just in case you’re forgotten, Hubby despises putting holes in the wall.  And the first go-round with this picture clock was a disaster.  It took him try after try after try to get the frames in place.  So he put in about 100 more holes than necessary.  But I didn’t let all of his griping bother me…I absolutely love it.  I insisted that we do it again when we moved to Virginia and will continue to force him to put it up for all of eternity.

I purchased the frames from Ikea.  I bought 4 2-packs of white and 2 2-packs of black.  They’re super cheap frames (only a plastic insert in the front, not glass, and a cardboard backing) but have held up very well.  I picked up a set of clock hands from Michaels, but once they were on the wall they were really small and looked absolutely ridiculous.  So the clock went without hands for a few weeks while this set I ordered from Amazon finally arrived (and then sat on the dining room table for awhile before Hubby finally got around to hanging it up).

The most difficult part (for me, not Hubby, haha) was figuring out the “theme” I wanted to go with.  I finally settled on things in our lives that related to that number.  So:

1 child

2 dogs

3 people in our family

4 Army units Hubby has been in

5 places we’ve lived

6 years of marriage

7 years it took me to get my diploma

8 vehicles owned between the two of us (total, not at once, haha!)

9 cumulative years we worked at Giant (the grocery store where we met)

10 years we’ve been together

11 years old was how long our first dog was when he passed away

12 years Hubby has been in the Army

Now do you see why it took me weeks to come up with this list?!  I’m sure you can tell the ones that were the most difficult (8/9/11).  Once I finally had the list finished I picked out photos to represent each number, put them in the frames and gave it all to Hubby.

So here’s what it looked like in our Canada though we were there for 2 years I left all of the pictures the same.  There was no way I was going to rearrange stuff and think of new numbers!

When we moved to Virginia and had to start it from scratch anyway, we I decided to go a different way:  pictures of the kids at months 1-12.  C has the odd numbers and J has the evens (although that’s only for the first 6 months since I still haven’t gotten around to updating it since C turned 1.  Whoops.).diy-photo-clock-2Hubby also decided to move it in closer.  He didn’t want to spend hours getting it to look right like he did last time, so he pushed it all in and was able to throw the entire thing up in 5 minutes.  diy-photo-clock-3The last change I made this time around was to add vinyl numbers onto each frame.  I just used my super handy Silhouette to cut the numbers out for me and then stuck them right onto the plastic.

I’m not a decor person and I think it really gives our home a special something.  We get compliments on it all of the time!  I’m sure Hubby would disagree, but I absolutely love it.


How tall am I now??

I remember in my grandfather’s house we had a doorframe that marked my and my siblings’ heights with pencil at all different ages.  Now that I have my own children I wanted to do something similar…except that Army life is not exactly conducive to drawing on walls.  And then prying it off of the frame and taking it with you.  Somehow I don’t think the landlords would be too pleased.

Fortunately the internet and Pinterest are around, meaning I was able to find a solution to my problem without giving it too much thought at all:  a DIY growth chart.  They’re all over the place and there are all kinds of different ways to make them.  I decided simple is always best:  a long piece of wood painted to look like a ruler.

I pinned a ruler that I liked:  this one.  I love how it has photos of the kids at the different heights running alongside it.  Unfortunately this idea isn’t any more feasible in a rental home as a door frame ruler is–Hubby would have a heart attack just thinking about all the holes he’d have to hammer in!

So I decided to compromise.  I would put pictures of the children in the vicinity of the height they were at each age.  I’m not sure what it’s going to look like by kid number 4, but for now it looks great!

We made it about 2 years ago so I’m going to remember as best I can how we did it.  Adventures in Decorating has very detailed instructions on her blog if you need specific direction!

Hubby picked up the board, cut it to size and sanded it down for me.  The board itself is 6 feet tall and 10 inches wide.

We had some leftover stain from when we stained our bedroom suite, so I just used that.  It’s a nice dark color, which I love.

Then I got to work on the lines.  This part was very time consuming.  I used my fabric tape measure to mark all of the lines off with a pencil first.  We figured that the ruler wouldn’t be flush with the ground when hung on the wall, so it starts off at 10 inches.  We just make sure to hang it 10 inches from the floor in each home so it’s accurate.  It goes all the way up to 6 feet 11 inches.  I don’t anticipate having giant children since I’m only 5’2″ and Hubby is 5’10”, but you never know.  It could I marked each line off I used a white paint pen from Michaels to make the lines.  This part was a giant pain in the ass.  It bled a lot and made quite the mess.  As you can see, some lines are thicker than others.  I finally got the hang of using it about halfway through.  So if this is your first time using a paint pen you may want to practice first!diy-growth-chart-ruler-3For the numbers I just printed off 1-6 on Silhouette Studio in a font that I liked and a size that seemed like it would work.  I didn’t want them too big because I was going to need as much space as I could get for all of the photos on it.  My machine cut the stencils out and I traced them on with a pencil.  Then I filled them all in with the paint I searched for my favorite photos of J when she was 1 and 2.  I opened them up in my Silhouette, sized them to something that was big enough to see, but hopefully not so big that all of our future children wouldn’t fit.  I added her age and height on each photo, then printed them off.  I just modge podged them straight onto the ruler.  diy-growth-chart-ruler-4I actually had no idea how tall J was at 12 months.  I searched through all of my papers from J’s first year of doctors visits (the entire box of crap that I’ll get around to scrapbooking someday.  Like when she’s 25.), but couldn’t find a record of how tall she was at 1 year.  So I just estimated.  Close enough!

J is now 4 1/2 and C is 14 months.  As you can see, I’m not very good at keeping up with it.  I think I’ll update it right now…diy-growth-chart-ruler


All of the crap has to go somewhere…


Before J was born I asked Hubby to make me a toy box.  Although it took him much longer than it should have to actually make it, I was very pleased with the way it turned out.  He just hammered together a bunch of 2x4s, added a lid on a hinge and bam, done!  I painted it to match the nursery decor, yellow and blue.  We had a bunch of orange paint leftover from our living room wall so I painted the inside with bought the huge letters from Michaels.  Since the nursery theme was ducks and frogs, I collected any wooden ducks and frogs I could find from craft stores like Michaels, Joann’s and Ben Franklins.  

I decorated the top with glow in the dark

There are two things that I do not like about this toy box.  The major one is the lid.  It’s on a hinge and there isn’t any type of stopper.  This type of toy box is banned from being sold in the US in stores since kids can break their neck if the lid comes slamming down.  Hubby was supposed to find a way to stop it from coming down like that, but that was almost 5 years ago and he still hasn’t done it.  I really need to force him to do it because it makes me so nervous.  We solve the problem by keeping the lid down all the time.  Since it’s made out of solid wood, that lid is heavy; there’s no way the kids can open it on their own.

The second issue is how I attached the PLAY letters and the ducks and frogs.  I just used regular wood glue.  I don’t know if it’s because it doesn’t adhere well to the paint or if the brand I bought just sucks, but almost all of those suckers have since fallen off.  The toy box now says “P  A  “.  Of course our constant moves don’t help.  I think if it had been sitting in the corner for the last 5 years they would all still be attached.

When Hubby got back from his second deployment I asked for a second toy box.  J was about a year and a half old and the basket we were using the living room just wasn’t cutting it anymore.  We had toys coming out our @sses.  So, he built another one.

This time I asked him to not attach the lid at all.  Not only do I no longer have to worry about our children having their necks broken while finding a toy, but it now allows for overflow, haha.  Win!diy-toy-box-1-

I went with a beach theme for this one.  I used beige and teal paint for the outside, and then painted the inside dark blue and teal.  I picked up a ton of wooden beach pieces from craft stores.  Since this toy box was made before we started moving and I realized that wood glue was not the way to go, I attached everything the same way.  As you can see, the pieces on this one fell off at a much faster rate.  The entire bottom panel was originally covered with beach items.  And the letters never attached well to begin with (I think because they’re so much larger and heavier than the last set).  Hubby had to screw those suckers on there.

This one is a lot bigger than the last one as well.  Which we need.  I recently went through an organization flurry and am rotating toys each month so there’s plenty of room now, but before this sucker was always at full capacity.  It was impossible to find anything.

Because it was so much bigger I decided to paint some play-related quotes on it.  Since this was way before I ever even heard of a Silhouette, I stenciled everything on the old fashioned way:  actual stencils.  I picked up a sheet of letters from Michaels, took a pencil and traced each individual letter on the box.  Time consuming, but I like the way it turned out.
diy-toy-box-1-side diy-toy-box-1-side-2 diy-toy-box-1-top

So that’s it!  Our lifesaving toy boxes.