Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Teacher Appreciation for under $10

I have been blessed with some wonderful women that have served as teachers to my daughter. So, teacher appreciation is a fun week for me because I get to shop, be creative, and express to them in little gestures all week how appreciated they are.

This year, I took all of my gift ideas from the teacher cheat sheet at Abby's school. The PTA gathers the teacher's favorites into a binder and we can get a copy at anytime to help us gift them well. This has been so helpful to me because Abby's Kindergarten teacher isn't girly like I am, so I would have struggled to find what she liked!

Each day next week, we will be bringing her one of the items pictured above. She loves popcorn, chocolate chip cookies, and gardening. The colored pencils are a vase to hold her favorite flower- carnations. I simply glued 36 colored pencils around a tall melamine glass with my hot glue gun. Everything was purchased at Target.

Finally, on Friday we are giving her a gift card to Target using this cute printable from Landee See Landee Do blog. I usually dislike gift cards, but love them packaged all cute!

Need more ideas- I've got you covered...

Fun crafts to make for the teacher here

Cute little bag of goodies with a tag here or here

Summer goody bag ideas here

Summer pedicure kit here 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Wood Plank Wall- How to make it Random

Over the weekend my husband and I installed a wood plank wall in our living room. This cut out around our TV is large and I've painted it red then painted it brown and I've never thought I did it justice until now. The wood plank wall is a focal point in my living room!

You can find a number of tutorials on Pinterest to install a wall like this. After looking around, we ultimately went with a tutorial from Creative Little Daisy and even took her recommendation on buying a tongue and groove wood. Rather than repeating her tutorial, I wanted to share my system from making the wall look random.

I am type A, super organized and random just isn't in my vocabulary. Doing an 8 foot wall that we stare at watching TV "random" wasn't going to work for me. I needed a system to ensure it would be random. Excel to the rescue! My wall is 99" wide (8'3") and 105" (8'9") tall. I built my spreadsheet with each column representing 1 foot and each row the size of the wood plank- 3.56". 

From here, I started planning out my various lengths of wood to create 8'3" rows. I used a combination of 2 or 3 boards per row and each board went from 2' to 6'3" with a number of combinations per row. Each row combination was given a color so that I could visually see them spaced out on the wall. For example, rows 8, 19, and 30 are all yellow and have a 6' board on the left and a 2'3" board on the right. I added up the color combinations to ensure I had a good balance of rows in column M.

On the next worksheet, I copied my original chart and then removed the colors. I then began applying the various stain choices. I wanted dark, dark with sanding, a medium toned stain, a red stain, grey, turquoise, natural, and then a cream color. You'll see the lengths on each row match the spreadsheet above, but now the colors match the stain colors.

In column O, I counted out how many of each stain color I had and then Excel helped me to determine how long each board was and then how many boards I would need to buy and stain in each color. I ended up buying 7 packages of Evertrue pine boards for my wall. Each package of boards has size 8' boards and cost around $10 at Lowes.

My final spreadsheet took the stained rows and lumped like colors together so that I knew how many boards to paint/stain each color. Knowing my boards were 8' long, I was able to put a 4' and 3' of the same stain on the same row since I would be cutting the 8' board to make a 4' and 3' board.

Now, it was time for my computer work to make it's way to the garage! I started by staining all of my boards. I used a nice paintbrush and a variety of stains seen below. After the paint/stain was dry, I sanded most of them. You want a faded aged look with this project. I used an electric sander and coarse sanding sheets. Everything is stain except the Annie Sloan Provence chalk paint and the Crisp Khaki. Both I already had on hand. Chalk paint sands the best and is always my favorite!

I love that this color combination brings in the red of my hardwood floors, the dark wood of my entertainment center, the turquoise blue of my new dining room, and the weathered grey of my breakfast table.

Once my boards were counted, stained and sanded, I flipped them over and started measuring. I used my measuring tape and drew three things on each board- a cut line for my husband, the board's length, and then where it would appear on the wall. For example, 5' #19A is the first/left board on row #19 and then 3'3" #19B is the second/right board on row #19.

My husband used a table saw to cut the boards. Cutting all 42 boards took only a couple of hours. 

He would cut and hand them to me and I would start stacking the boards together by rows.

We then played around with some scraps to determine the proper PSI for the nail gun. This was a Christmas present he hadn't used yet, so it took a few trys to learn that 55 PSI was good for getting the nail into the board with minimal damage.

Install time! We removed the TV from the wall very carefully joking if my inexpensive little project led to a cracked TV it wouldn't be an inexpensive project anymore! We had already put a small whole in the wall near the TV and again at the bottom near the plugs and had run our wires through it. So, the wall was pretty clean and ready! The random plug for surround sound above the TV had always bugged me and I was happy to remove the cover and just put wood right over it!

Installing the boards was quick! We would line them up and make sure the fit was snug from wall to wall and then staple away! With the tongue and groove, I could snap them together while Marcus came back with the nail gun and we didn't have to hold boards on the wall in awkward positions.

Knowing the size of our TV, we measured out how big of a square to leave around the bracket and kept moving down the wall. We wanted to make sure if we get a bigger TV in the future, the wall won't need adjustments.

Row #30 was the last row and the most work! We ended up needing to remove about 1/2" of the board to make it butt up to the baseboard cleanly. It took a little trail and error, but looks great now.

Overall, the project cost just over $100 for boards, stains, nails, and sandpaper. I think it was $100 well spent when you see the finished project!

Our next project- old ceiling tins in our powder room! The list never ends does it?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Starbuck's Peach Green Tea Lemonade Recipe

I am an iced tea girl. I like it cold and sweet.

I drink black tea or southern sweet tea at Starbucks most of the time. But, this time of year, my favorite is Peach Green Tea Lemonade. It is the most refreshing drink on a hot day. 

I don't like that it costs over $4 for a Venti. It is such a waste. So, when I heard I could buy Peach syrup in the store, I hatched a homemade plan! While buying the syrup, I casually asked the friendly barista how many pumps they use and she gave me the recipe!

Starbuck's Peach Green Tea Lemonade

Fill your glass with half of the lemonade of your choice and half of your favorite green tea. I found both of these at Target.

Then, you'll give it a few pumps of Starbuck's Peach Syrup. They use 3 pumps for a tall, 4 for a grande and 6 for a Venti. I used 4 in my mason jar.

Stir with a cute straw and enjoy knowing it tastes great and you just saved about $3.50... and you are still in your pajamas!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Table of Many Colors

 Check out my bright and sunny new kitchen table and chairs! The chairs were my birthday present and were such a tough choice! I looked everywhere online. Ordered silver ones from Target and returned them because they were so short they went under the table when pushed in. They I ordered aged yellow chairs online and canceled that order before it shipped. Finally, I found orange ones on Amazon and have loved them since I hit submit! My table was another story...

 We first bought this table and chairs in 2012 and I loved it. But, the black tabletop became a nightmare. It showed EVERYTHING. Every crumb in the fold down cracks. Every smudge of food not cleaned off. And, eventually, every fork poke and scratch. I couldn't get it clean to save my life. 

So, two years ago, I used some chalk paint and made it a clean and crisp ivory. It was good for a few months and then with a scratch or fork poke (seriously, I should figure out how to make my child stop poking the table!) the paint came off and the black came through. Once again, it looked dirty all the time. No matter what I did.

So, I grabbed a sander, some coarse sanding sheets and went to town on the tabletop. I had no idea what the wood would look like underneath. I had no idea how long it would take or if I could break the seal of the black paint it came with. I also had no idea it was red underneath the black. Holy moly I sanded for days.

And I discovered this gem. Real wood in good condition. This is the wood after being wiped down with a wet paper towel. When dry, it was pretty dull. I knew I wanted low maintenance and sealing it was going to be necessary. I asked my Instagram followers what I should do next and a grey stain with white wash with the overall vote. Back to Lowe's I went!

I selected a Minwax Weathered Grey stain and applied it and wiped it with a lint-free cloth. They sell bags of them for cheap.

After it dried, I went back over that with a 50/50 mixture of Annie Sloan Cream chalk paint and water. Again, using my rags I rubbed it on and wiped it off. 

Finally, to keep it looking the same after lots of wear and tear, I used a satin polycrylic by Minwax and applied 6 coats with a paintbrush. This provided a even minimal shine, seals everything in to prevent drink rings and give it the professional finish I was after. I kept the base black as originally purchased.

It is a fun new spot for dinner conversation with my family. Speaking of, we've added Jesus Calling for Kids to the supper table. It is a simple kid-friendly devotional that we do over dinner. I love reading it with Abby and then processing it with her. Last night we talked about how God is always good, but no one else is ALWAYS good. It allowed us to talk about needing Jesus when we aren't good and sin and giving grace to others when they aren't good. I highly recommend it at the dinner table. 

Two other things I am loving right now- silicone muffin cups for my Mix and Match Egg Muffins. Cleaning the muffin pan before these cups was a pain. So easy now!

Finally, I'm loving my new Blue Jean candle. It is springy with citrus and greens and clean with musk and patchouli. Loving it!

Happy Spring!