Room Replica Diorama

I honestly don’t recall what prompted me to create this, but it was for a friendly colleague of mine who worked remotely. Anyway, I decided to create a miniature version of the conference room in our main office. Really, pick a room and go from there.

Materials:

  • Shoe box
  • Paints + brushes
  • Camera & printer
  • Popsicle sticks (tongue depressors)
  • Tissue paper
  • Colored paper
  • Foam board
  • Small glass rocks
  • Hot glue and gun

Here’s how I did it step by step:

  1. Observe the room. You can’t make an accurate replica without the details.
  2. Plan your key elements. The room I chose didn’t have a ton of details (and to be fair, I was super lazy about the table and people), but I wanted to make sure it would be detailed enough that the recipient would “get it.” For this, I took photos out the windows, in part because it had a great view of the lake, but also because the windows were pretty prominent. I wanted to bring the outdoor elements in. I also decided to include the table, plant, dry erase board and TV.
  3. Build. Disassemble the box a bit and then paint all four interior sides white. Two of my walls were white in the end, but it’s just like primer when you’re painting your walls. Do any additional painting to get your final colors, but be sure to let the white dry completely first. From there, I built the wall elements, which included printing and cutting out the photos and adding a small piece of white foam board as a dry erase board and a small black piece as the TV. However, I decided to take the TV a step further and printed a miniature version of one of our business’ powerpoint slides and glued it onto the TV as if someone was giving a presentation in the room. Then, I sacrificed a glue stick cap as my orange vase and used tissue paper to create the plant. Finally, using popsicle sticks, small glass rocks and printed headshots, I created the conference room table and a bunch of little people (our favorite co-workers of the time). I would highly recommend hot glue for this – the bond is much quicker than cold glue, which is helpful for standing materials.

In all honesty, this is definitely one of my lesser quality crafts, but it’s such a random and funny thing that I decided to share it anyway.

Gift Ideas: 34th Anniversary

If you’ve read Gift Ideas: 33rd Anniversary, you know I use a chart to get inspiration for anniversary gifts. For my in-laws 34th anniversary, though, I wasn’t loving Opal. So, I started googling and came across a cute idea: a relationship timeline-esque “poster.” That sounds way crazier than it is, but not sure how to explain it.

Materials:

  • Card stock
  • Printer
  • Paper trimmer or scissors, ruler and pencil
  • 8″ x 10″ frame

Here’s what I did:

  • Get an idea of a template – I looked at a lot of ideas to determine what content I wanted to include and how to lay it out.
  • Plan your content – I included the following:
    • The year of the gift (2018)
    • How long they’ve been married (34 years)
    • How many days together (12418 – I used this calculator)
    • “Countless memories” – you could use this line or replace with something else
    • Home Sweet Home (with an image in the shape of their home state)
    • A reference to their kids (4 Amazing Children)
    • A reference to their grandkids (4 Precious Grandchildren)
    • A life filled with blessings (again, easy to swap out)
    • Their names (David & Janet)
    • Their wedding date (August 25, 1984)
  • Build your doc – I created this in Microsoft Word very simply:
    • Set 1″ margins (how to) – for an 8″x10″ frame, you need at least 1″ margins to ensure your content fits
    • Choose your preferred text & style – I chose all caps because I wouldn’t have to decide what to capitalize and what not to (can be challenging to keep consistent)
    • Add accents – I didn’t want just words, so I added the state shape (google search, no background) and the horizontals lines (how to); *tip – hold control + line to keep it straight while you change the size
    • Adjust – play with line spacing, text size, text color, line color and style blending in a 2nd font, etc.
  • Print, trim & frame –  First, I printed on thick card stock – I know it’s just going in a frame, but thick, quality paper has a nicer look than white copy/computer paper. Then, using a paper trimmer, I removed .5 inch off the bottom (my content was not centered on the page; if yours is, divide by 2 and remove .25 off the top and bottom). Finally, I trimmed .5 inch from each side to get down to 8″x10″ and placed it in my frame.

That’s it. All-in-all, a simple, yet personal gift. Consider this idea for couples at any stage in their marriage, new parents, college grads, someone retiring, or for some other celebration!

Gift Ideas: 33rd Anniversary

Have you ever seen those charts that tell you the traditional gift theme for each anniversary? Some even tell you the modern interpretation, like this one. Well, those are cute and super helpful when you need gift inspiration for your S.O. or another couple.

The only downside to those is they typically drop off the “in-between years” once you hit 25 or 30 (i.e. you don’t get 26 – 29 or 31-34, etc.). So, I’ve had to get creative for the last few years. We started getting anniversary gifts our parents a few yeas ago (true adulting) and my in-laws celebrated 33 years in 2017.

I took some inspiration from this chart and decided to start with the color amethyst. In its own right, a color can be tough (as opposed to a material, like wood). Rather than getting them something in purple (a vase? a blanket? matching sweatshirts?), I went with a ‘color basket.’

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In the basket was:

  • Downy Unstopables Lush
  • Good & Plenty candy
  • A lavender candle
  • Gummy worms (the package was conveniently purple)
  • Mixed nuts (again, purple packaging)
  • Dried mixed berries
  • Double Bubble grape
  • Duct tape
  • A mini clipboard
  • Dove Almonds and Dark Chocolate

I wrapped the bottom of a shoe box in cute paper and lined it with purple tissue paper. Then, I placed it in a cellophane bag from the Dollar Tree (you get a two-pack for $1) and tied it with purple ribbon. Voila!

Back to School Graduation Party

If you’ve read my wreath blog, you know that crafting runs in my family, to an extent. The credit for this one goes entirely to my niece. Sadly, I didn’t even get to attend this party, but it was too cute not to post. The party was to honor her husband, who had just graduated from college with his teaching license for K- 4. So, her theme for the party was primary school.

Food – she created a ‘pack your lunch’ buffet with brown bags and pack-able foods, like:

  • Nut/snack bars
  • Fruit snacks
  • Small bags of chips
  • Clementines
  • Small packs of cookies

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*Note, these were more of ‘goodie bags’; she had a regular menu of food for people to eat that wasn’t pre-packaged. You can see a pic of the full buffet below (see banner pictures). She also created a veggie tray with crayon-shaped labels to teach the different colors:

  • Green – celery
  • Orange – carrots
  • Red – peppers
  • Yellow – peppers

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For dessert, she had school themed items:

  • Apples – chocolate covered oreos using red chocolate with a bit of green frosting at the top
  • Pencils – she cut vanilla wafers (not the cookies, the bars) into a pencil shape and then used white chocolate for the tip and pink chocolate for the eraser. She tipped it with a chocolate chip for the lead!
  • Graduation scrolls – she used Pirouettes and tied ribbon around them

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Decorations:

  • She made a triangle banner using various patterns of red paper to say ‘Congrats’
  • She made a banner of primary colored poofy balls by threading string through them
  • Finally, she made a primary colored banner with the numbers 0-9

For other decorations:

  • She made a decorative cup surrounded by pencils and crayons
  • She also had two posters made for his classroom (on Etsy, I assume), that did double duty as decorations AND a gift 🙂

 

Maybe you have someone in your life going into the same profession, or maybe you want to plan a back to school party for your kids. Either way, I hope this post gives you a few fun ideas to get creative!

A Makeover Story: Exterior Brick

This all started when we decided decided to put on an addition, which start with wanting to dig out our half basement crawl space. Things spiral like that, you know how it is. Anyhow, we will be putting siding on the addition and needed a way to blend it with the current exterior which is part brick and part stone. The stone part is tanish gray (pretty neutral) but the brick was a tanish yellow and taupe color. It wasn’t my favorite; let’s go with that.

However, I enjoy having a brick house. It’s very insulating and solid and I didn’t want to make a big investment because, well, the addition. So, I decided to look into painting brick which, it turns out, is bad for the brick. Lime wash, though, is an organic material (limestone) based product that is okay for bricks because it ‘let’s them breathe.’ After a bit of research, I came across a product called Romabio lime wash paint. If you DIY the lime wash, you have to perfectly portion a number of materials (water, pigment, limestone, etc.); with this product, the guess work is done for you. We chose nube gray to pair with our front stone. In hindsight, we might have picked a different shade, but I’m still happy with it as I love gray.

Also, often times, people will spray away some of the lime wash before it dries (or with a high powered sprayer) to give it a weathered, aged look. After testing that look (right) as well as a solid, non sprayed-off look (left), I decided to go for a solid finish as I was ultimately trying to hide the original color.

 

Oh, and it’s super easy to do. Here’s how.

Materials:

  • Romabio lime wash in a color of your choosing
  • Bucket to mix paint
  • Paint stirrer (or drill with stirrer attached)
  • Paint brush
  • Ladder
  • Painters tape
  • Hose
  • Measuring cup (depending how much you want to mix)

Steps:

  1. Mix up your lime wash – the product I used needs 100% dilution, which means for as much lime wash as you put in your bucket, put equal parts water; we mixed a bit at a time (no inherent value in this), but if you have a lot to do you could mix it all up. Use your stirrer or drill for this.
  2. Tape off any areas, like doors, windows or by your roof line.
  3. Spray water on an area of your brick with your hose; you will need to work section by section for this part because you don’t want the brick to dry before you can apply the lime wash.
  4. Then, just like painting, apply the lime wash/water mixture (it will be thin). Be sure to get into all the nooks and crannies of the brick, especially the grout. Be careful about splatter on your sidewalks or driveway. It doesn’t matter quite as much in grass because it can be removed when you next mow your lawn.
  5. You will need to let it dry for 5 days before you hose down your house (or front planters – be careful). It’s okay if it rains – you shouldn’t have any problems with it running unless it’s freshly painted.

BEFORE

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AFTER

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A Makeover Story: Planter Beds

I love to DIY – anything from basic crafting to parties to home improvement and I’m game. But, plants are my kryptonite. Despite my best efforts, I have yet to keep any plants healthy (and/or alive). I even had a situation at an office I managed where we had little bugs from over-watering; they were a real problem.

Anyhow, my front flower/planter beds were a mess and I decided it was adulting time, so me and the hubs came up with an ambitious makeover plan:

  • Edge the beds in stone – my husband has a thing about how his grass looks, so having a clean edge is important to him. To contain the mulch we’d be adding, we needed a border, so we landed on a perpendicular pattern of paver bricks to create a ledge for the mower wheel, as well as a wall to keep the mulch in. We bought 7″ x 3″ stone pavers in two colors (210 in total) and used all-purpose sand to level the bricks and keep them in place. To set a straight edge, we used a piece of string tied between two stakes that spanned the length of the bed. We measured the distance of the string from the house at both ends to ensure it would create a straight edge relative to the house facade. Then, we dug out a canal for the bricks using an edging shovel (but really any straight or regular shovel will work) as well as a standard shovel.
    • *Tip, to calculate how many bricks you need, measure the length of your beds, convert to inches and divide by the length of your block.

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  • Incorporate a weed barrier – we have only lived in the house for about 3 years, but we’ve had to weed a number of times. We decided to do something about it and my m-i-l had given us some weed block bed liner that she had left over from a project, so that worked out. We still had to get some (we bought this kind), but every savings counts!
  • Refresh the foliage – there were a few plants when we first moved in, but between the deer and lack of care (my bad), they were looking pretty damn pathetic. So, we went all in and bought a bunch of new plants to liven up the front. Everything we chose is deer resistant and okay to grow in the northern ‘Midwest.’
    • Boxwoods (6) – these are our anchor; they are a nice, deep green neutral for the rest of the colors; they can grow up to 4′ x 4′ and be shaped.
    • Barberry (2) – these are the reddish ones; they are a good accent to the green, low maintenance and pretty easy to grow. Be careful not to overdo it with these as they can grow out of control.
    • Spirea (2) – these are the two green/yellow/red ones at the left side; they need more sun than some of the others, so we put the in the sunniest spot of the house
    • Catmint – these are the light green and purple wide plants; we have 3 cats who roam free outside during the day, so we thought this would be fun for them. I’m not sure how long the plants will last, but they love them. Bonus – they’re pretty.
    • Bee balm – these are the two small plants toward the middle (one isn’t planted yet); we chose them for as a pop of color and because they attract bees, which are very important to the environment, and we love honey!
  • Add fresh mulch – for this go around, we decided to try the sweet peet mulch, which is all organic and supposedly the best mulch out there. It’s also good to use in lieu of topsoil for planting. We got a yard and a half, which seems to be about the right amount (our beds are about 40’x6′ and 35’x6′).

All in all, we spent the following on this project for our materials list:

  • Pavers and sand = $150
  • Plants, plant food, planting soil = $419 (by far, the most expensive part)
  • Sweet Peet mulch = $80
  • Weed block = $40
    • If you don’t mind a little extra, weed block stakes are a great choice as they keep the liner in place in the bed

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You’ll also want to have the following tools on hand: wheelbarrow, shovel, trowel, rake, stakes, string, mini mallet, work gloves, garden hose (be sure to water your new plants!!)

We actioned in the following order: set edge line, dig out, move existing mulch, put down weed blocker, put in sand and bricks, dig holes for plants, plant plants and finally top with mulch. We got halfway done in about a day and a half. Hopefully we’ll tackle the other side this weekend!

**As an aside, directly before this project, we lime washed our house with Romabio Lime Wash in nube gray. Check out A Makeover Story: Exterior Brick blog to see before and after pictures and hear about how easy it was!

 

Double Dare 2000 Party

Well, I’m finally sitting down to do this after a year of procrastination. Better late than never, I suppose.

If you’re a child of the 80s or early 90s then you’ve probably heard of Double Dare 2000. It was (and is again, since its return a few months ago) a TV show on Nickelodeon that featured quiz questions and messy challenges. YouTube it if you have no idea what I’m talking about – it’s worth a watch.

Anyway, for a very long time, I planned on having a party in the style of this show (I like parties with activities) and finally made it a reality when the hubs and I bought a house with a 2.6 acre yard. Here is how it went down:

1.Party basics: I knew my what but I needed to set a when and who, so I picked a date and made my guest list. For my invitations, I wanted to introduce the theme since it would require folks to get messy, if they chose to participate. Here’s what I landed on. This was made through a combination of images online and a little help in Photoshop. (I blurred out some personal information.)

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2. Game accessories – for this party, I knew I had to make shirts. All contestants on the show wore the signature Double Dare shirts, so I had to do it. I picked up some cheap plain colored shirts from JoAnn Fabrics for $3/piece and then got a pack of dark t-shirt transfers and got to work designing the logo. Again, with a little help from Photoshop, here’s what I ended up with:

I also decided that whichever team won the two trivia rounds and got to the final obstacle course should get prizes…just for suffering through the messiness. I made 4 gender neutral baskets and allowed each team member to pick their favorite.

Car care: car wash mitt, window wipes, interior wipes, a jug of car wash, an oil tray, an air freshener, tire foam and a microfiber towel. Most of these materials I got from the Dollar Tree.

Outdoor fun: marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate, roasting sticks, a S’mores scented candle, a long lighter, kindling wood and two homemade fire starters

Movie night: popcorn and topping, water, a movie, movie candy, and popcorn bags

Relaxation package: back scratcher, lotion, candle, face mask, chapstick, adult coloring book, and homemade hand scrub

3. Plan the games. I don’t have photos for all of these, but here’s what I did. First, I planned the trivia. That part was pretty easy – I just did a little searching for trivia and compiled a list of my favorite 20 questions. I tried to pick questions that I thought my friends may or may not know. I avoided anything super hard or too easy.

The messy games for physical challenges and the final obstacle course was part two and the fun part. I chose games with cheap, easy materials that would create mess or get people wet. Here are my physical challenges:

  • Water balloon baseball – just how it sounds – you have to hit a specific number of water balloons with a baseball bat in 30 seconds

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  • Ball dunk – this one was hilarious. Using ladies’ pantyhose and water balls (the kind that suck up water and you can wring out – you could also use sponges) from the Dollar Tree, I put the balls in the foot part of both sides of the pantyhose and had the contestants tie them around their waists with the balls hanging in between their legs. They had to run to a bucket and dunk in to absorb liquid and then run with the wet balls back to another bucket and squeeze them out. The goal was to move enough liquid from one side to the other to reach a line on the bucket. (Note, I also used a variation of this with giant sponges that two players had to toss back and forth to achieve the same objective.)

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  • Twister- For this, I took your standard version of Twister and did absolutely nothing to it. It was challenging as a kid and even more so as an adult! I used this game to open the first round and the team that had a player in the longest won control of the round.

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  • Spaghetti Spell – I used this game to open the second round. Each team had 30 seconds to dig through alphabet spaghetti and pick out letters to make a word of at least 4 letters.

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  • Splash Head Catch – for this game, I picked up a cheap version of Basket Head and used the basket head for one player to wear on his head. The other player tossed a dripping wet water ball (sponge would work too) and his team mate had to catch it in the basket.  (Note, I also created a version of this with a colander hat and eggs; do NOT use eggs with the basket head – that will hurt!)

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  • Water Balloon Catch: for this game, one contestant put on a pair of over-sized pants while his team member tossed water balloons toward him. He had to catch 3 in his pants in 30 seconds.

And now for the final obstacle course (sorry for not having pics for all of it and for the dark – the day got away from us and it was pitch black by the time we started it. Of course, the hubs provided everyone with head-mounted flashlights…)

  • Obstacle 1: The Sundae Slide- I had an old kids slide (probably from the garbage somewhere) that we put on our hill and drizzled chocolate syrup all over. The object was to slide to the bottom, find the flag in whipped cream and then pass it to the next person.

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  • Obstacle 2: Water Run- Person #2 had to run down the hill while the other team chased with water balloons. At the bottom, they had to grab the flag and pass it to their next team member.
  • Obstacle 3: Pop & Goo – Person #3 had to pop shaving cream filled balloons to find the flag and pass it on to the next person.

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  • Obstacle 4: Shower Search – Person #4 had to dig through buckets of shampoo, conditioner and body wash to find the flag and pass it on to person #1 (each person had to complete 2 obstacles).

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  • Obstacle 5: Dirty Dress – this obstacle required the participant to put on a shirt and pants that had been soaked in pancake batter, grab the flag and pass it on (sorry, no picture).
  • Obstacle 6: Flour Shower – team member #2 completed this challenge by standing at the bucket and getting a bag of flour dumped on him; the flag was in the bag. He had to grab the flag and pass it on.

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  • Obstacle 7: Egg Canal – this challenge required the participant to crawl through the tunnel, filled with raw eggs and maple syrup. To create it, I took pool noodles and fit them onto stakes in the ground. I also laid down a tarp for ease of crawling through.

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  • Obstacle 8: Bucket dump – little effort was required for this challenge. The participant just had to pull the string to dump a bucket of soapy water onto himself and find the flag.

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And that’s it! It was a ton of planning, prep and set-up, but it was a ton of fun to do and watch. It’s probably not one I would ever throw again (once was plenty), but I’m still super glad I did it!