Memorial Day weekend | free art print

flag print

I love Memorial Day weekend! This weekend kicks off the summer for us. We either head to the Cape {Cod} with family or hang with friends by our pool. And we’re usually on a soccer or baseball field at some point during this weekend too. Oh and this year, our daughter’s birthday falls on this weekend. #onecrazyweekend.

But it is Memorial Day weekend and my husband and I have relatives who have served in the military and I have an uncle who lost his life in Vietnam. So even though this weekend is often all fun and games, it’s also an important time to remember those who have fought for this great place we call home and especially those who lost their lives for us.

art hanging

I’ve included an art print here that you can download and print to display this weekend – or anytime – to show your pride and remember those who served our country. I had created this print for 9/11 last year but I think now is a great time to display it too. And if you have a flag, hang it proudly. Or visit a cemetery or memorial.

Whatever you have planned, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend full of fun and games too. Be sure to take a minute to remember those who have served and have given their lives for this country. And remember, our fun and games are possible because of them.

Click here to download your free print.

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firepit DIY

firepit diy

With summer just around the corner we’ve been doing some outside projects to get ready for my favorite time of year. We got a lot of snow this past winter so most of the outdoor projects involve repairing and repainting. I don’t love doing these sort of projects because you don’t always see big results but I know they have to be done. One project we did this past weekend was to repair the rocks on our firepit that we made last year. This fire pit is awesome! It got a ton of use during the cooler summer nights and all through the fall. And it held up pretty well through the winter. But a few rocks needed to be reattached {I’m thinking a bunch of teenage boys might have had something to do with this!}. This was one of those little fixing projects that I didn’t mind doing because we all were dying to get the fun fire pit back to its original form!

I wanted to share the original tutorial and photos of how we made this fire pit with you so you might be inspired to make one of your own. It’s my kind of DIY – easy, cheap and not too time consuming. And it looks great too!

We have a gravel patio that was a swing set area. We wanted the fire pit in this area to be very rustic and camp-like. Something that the kids could help build and use. We gathered a bunch of rocks from our yard and made a quick trip to the local hardware store for a few supplies. We spent about $10. Here’s what we did:

Materials:

materials 2

Steps:

clear ground 3

1) Clear and level the area where you want the fire pit to go. We have ours on a gravel ground so we just shoveled the gravel away and smoothed out the ground underneath. Out fire pit is about 4 feet in diameter.

rock layer detail 7

2) We are lucky to have lots of ledge and rocks on our area. I guess you could also say we’re unlucky too since ledge and rocks also bring lots of other problems – like major digging issues – but for this project we’re lucky. We collected all the rocks we could find in our wheel barrel. For the most part, they are about 8-10″ with some smaller ones to fill in the holes. Pick out the larger rocks to use as your base and line them around in a circle.

fire pit first layer 4

3) Mix the concrete according to package instructions {basically just add water}. We mixed ours in an old wheel barrel but you can use a bucket. Use the trowel to scoop out the concrete and use it as “glue” to hold the rocks together. Again, we were going for the rustic look so you can see some of the cement but this worked fine with our variation of rocks.

fire pit cement 5

4) Start picking the rocks that will go on the next tier. This is like doing a puzzle or the game jenga. It was fun – and challenging – because I was never really good at puzzles. Continue layering the cement between the rocks to hold them in place.

layering 6

5) Continue layering the rocks and adding the cement between each layer until you reach the desired height. We went with 4 tiers of rocks and seemed to angle them in a bit. We used smaller rocks to fill in any open holes.

final large 8

6) Let the cement harden. We added a layer of sand on the bottom of the fire pit to give it a more finished look. When the cement is completely dry, add logs and light!

This fire pit style is not for everyone. We liked the rustic, campfire feel of it, and the fact that it was easy to make was a huge bonus. Plus limited measuring and mistakes are ok with this style!

This fire pit got so much use and repairing it was easy. If any of the rocks fall off, go to STEP 3 – replace the rocks and add cement as needed. In hindsight we should have used more cement originally. live & learn!

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DIY rustic twig vase

twig vase detail 2

I’m all about doing projects on a budget. I think there’s way too many overpriced options out there that we can create for much cheaper. And I think when you have parameters like a budget, you are forced to be more creative. It’s easy to go out and spend a lot of money to buy something fancy or cool. But try to find or create something just as amazing for a lot less money – now that’s impressive.

This was a super cheap DIY project – it actually cost zero dollars. zero. And it’s coolIt was pretty fun and easy to make too. A vase made from a recycled glass food jar and found twigs. It’s a great way to showcase your flowers – or you can make a few as centerpieces for a wedding shower or rustic themed party.

So what are you waiting for? Go for a little walk in the woods, gather up some twigs then plug your glue gun in.

Here’s the how to on this rustic twig vase.

glass jars

1. Collect glass food jars and clean throughly. Remove any labels.

collected twigs

2. Go for a walk and collect twigs that are at least 1″ taller than your jar. Mine are around 1/2″ thick. One tip: find twigs that are as straight as you can, and I wanted mine to not have any bark on them. I thought they looked more beachy.

cutting twigs

3. Trim the twigs so that they are about 1″ taller than your jar. This was the most time consuming part. I used a utility knife to score the twigs then broke them where the score was. Be careful with the utility knife!

sanding twigs

4. Sand the twigs to remove any debris. I didn’t go crazy with the sanding because I wanted to keep the rustic look of the twigs. I even left one of the branch stems on and I love the way that looks!

twig vase glueing

5. Using your hot glue gun, glue the twigs onto the glass jar as they fit best. I had good luck with the glue gun but some people say not to use hot glue on glass because it can peel off easily. I also tried modge podge glue and that worked well too.

twig vase no flowers

6. Continue with the twigs until the entire jar is covered.

twig vase done 2

7. Fill with your favorite flowers – or whatever you want – and enjoy!

twig vase done

I plan on using my vase all summer for all my flower clippings. Peonies, hydrangeas… these flowers are the perfect compliment to this rustic vase. Did I mention it cost zero dollars? Love that. Enjoy!

2

summer diy | tin can lanterns

tin can lanterns

Last year we redesigned our patio area. It was originally our swing set area that we converted to a patio and it’s been our go-to place to hang out when we’re outside. Click here to see all the details on the patio redesign.

The patio was a project we didn’t really budget for so we had to keep costs way down. I love a budget-friendly project – it’s like a creative challenge for me and I get so determined to find great solutions on a budget. One project I did was to use tin cans {ie. from canned vegetables, etc.} to make funky outdoor lanterns. An easy and budget-friendly upcycle project – win, win, win! These were such a big hit that I decided to add to my collection and I made some more this weekend. So I thought it would be a good idea to share this DIY post with you in case you missed it last year. Plus you can’t have too many summer lanterns. And the bonus is that you can use citronella candles and these double as bug repellents. This is a project that the more you make the better they all look – I’ve got a bunch in small groups all around our patio and pool area and they look so good in groups!

Here are the instructions on how to make these simple but fun tin can lanterns: 

materials:

materials

tin cans {left over from pasta sauce, canned vegetables, etc.}
hammer
nails
spray paint
sand
candles {regular or citronella}
wire if you want to hang them

Steps:

1. Collect random tin cans, remove the labels and clean throughly. You can use goo-gone to remove any left-over glue. Or once the can is frozen {see step 2}, I  just chipped away at the frozen glue and it came off fine.

frozen

2. Fill cans with water and freeze. This will help your can to keep it’s shape.

can no holes

3. Once the water is frozen, take the can out of the freezer and place it on a solid surface. To help prevent it from rolling around, I took a dish towel and shaped it in a circle and placed the can in the middle of the towel. Not fool-proof, but it helps.

hammering

4. Use your hammer and tap a nail into the can to create your design {FYI – it’s pretty easy to hammer through the tin}. You have several options for a design: you can use a sharpie and place dots on the can to first sketch your design, you can print out a picture and tape it to the can or you can just wing it – which is what I did. I decided to do some with a leaf pattern but I also did a few with just a random pattern of dots. You can even use different size nails to create some variation in your designs too.

spray paint

5. Once your design is done, spray paint the can your desired color. I love the natural tin finish but it will rust. So I did a few in color and then used silver spray paint to preserve the tin look. I also painted a few with metallic gold because, well, it’s gold! I would recommend turning the cans upside down to spray them to prevent spraying the insides. live and learn.

with candle

6. Apply a few coats of paint if needed. Once dry, add sand and a candle. You can also add 2 more nail holes on equal sides of the can and string a wire through them and hang them on a tree branch or from an umbrella.

finished 2

7. Light and enjoy!

“Light up” your summer nights too with these fun lanterns – that are oh-so budget friendly! Enjoy!

19

DIY covered binders

binders after 1

Here’s a super easy tutorial on how you can make those ugly white 3-ring binders – or a folder or even an old book – look a little prettier.

binders before re

I have 3 of these white binders in my office that hold all my important papers. They contain the things I use almost everyday for my freelance design business and my blog – artwork, stationery, forms, notes. I used to have these binders shoved in my desk drawers because they were, well, ugly white binders. The creative side of me didn’t want to put them out because they didn’t look nice but the practical side of me knew that I needed them to be easily accessible. I don’t usually like my practical side. But the practical side won out and I’ve had these binders sitting on my file cabinet. So I decided to give those ugly ducklings a makeover.

binder before

binder after

I grabbed my watercolor set {$4.99 at Michael’s} and some copy paper and asked my willing assistant {my 9 year old daughter} to help me paint some designs on the papers.

Here are the super easy steps to create your own binder, folder or old book covers. 

materials

1. Gather your materials: 8-1/2 x 11″ copy paper, watercolor or regular acrylic paints, paint brush, Super Adhesive 77 Spray Mount, scissors, tape and newspaper.

painted papers

2. Figure out how many pieces of paper you’ll need to cover your binder/folder/book. I used 2-1/2 sheets per binder. Lay out the newspaper as your “drop cloth” and put the copy paper on top and paint away! Be sure to paint all the way to the edges of the the paper and even onto the newspaper if needed. And have fun with the designs!

painted papers detail

As you can see, the copy paper wrinkles with the watercolor but that’s ok. I knew if I used heavier paper, it would be hard to adhere it to the binders. Plus, most of the wrinkles will get smoothed out when they are glued to the binder.

taping

all taped

3. Once the papers are fully dry, tape them together {on the back sides} to make one long sheet. Again, I taped 3 sheets together so I was working with a final piece that was 25-1/2 x 11″.

attaching

4. In a well ventilated area, lay out more newspaper and put your long painted sheet on top. Spray the back of that sheet with the spray mount. This stuff is very sticky but it is the best adhesive around!! Starting at one edge, adhere the paper to the binder and wrap it around the spine and onto the other side. With scissors, trim the excess paper where it ends at the other binder edge. Smooth out any wrinkles and edges with your hand.

writing

5. You can add binder titles with a sharpie. I really loved the way the paintings of the binders looked when stacked next to each other so I didn’t write anything on the spine of the binders. And I used a fun, freehand font to match the designs.

binders after

So now I no longer look over from my desk to see those ugly white ducklings and instead I see fun, colorful swans that make me smile. We had no guidelines for our designs, we just used lots of colors and had fun painting. And I loved the results! These binders look so funky and fun on my file cabinet. And they add such a nice touch to the wall of kids’ artwork that’s hung above them. I know these binder covers won’t last forever but I’ve had mine for a few months now and they’ve held up really well, especially with everyday use. And they’re easy enough – and fun to do – that you can make new covers as you need them.

Enjoy your weekend and happy Mother’s Day!!

If you’re still in need of a gift for Mother’s Day, check out my DIY tray that you can personalize for your Mom and then serve her breakfast in bed on it! It’s also being featured over at DianaRambles.com.

my favorite summer dresses

Summer will be here before we know it and I want to be ready! And there’s nothing better to wear during those hot summer days than than a cool, pretty, comfortable summer dress. The kind of dress you can wear to your son’s baseball game or to run errands or as a beach cover up. A dress casual enough for everyday that goes perfectly with a pair of flip flops or converse sneakers. And it has to look good! These are the summer dresses I love.

Here are a few of my favorites. Order them now, or maybe even as a Mother’s Day gift and we’ll all be ready for those hot, fun, lazy summer days!

summer dresses

one – Athleta Redondo Dress $89

two – Macys Maxi halter Dress by Vince Camuto $98

three – Boden T-shirt Dress $68

four – Nordstrom Drawstring Waist Maxi Dress $68

five – Old Navy Linen Shift Dress $34

six – Boden Amelia dress $148

seven – Ann Taylor Loft Tie Dye Tee Dress $69.50, plus 40% off right now!

Do you have any summer dress favorites? Pass them along if you do. Enjoy!

recipe round-up | May

recipe round up May

I am so glad that May is finally here! Even though it’s not truly summer until June, May is my unofficial start to the summer. The warmer weather, opening the pool, outdoor time, plant flowers and starting the garden. I love it.

I have some wonderful dishes in my recipe round-up to share with you for this month!

I just started these posts in March. If you want to know the idea behind these posts, check out March’s recipe round-up post here. And April’s recipe round-up post here. To summarize, these round-ups include four great recipes I found on the web that I made – and loved – this past month. They’re all easy to prepare, will work for most families, include ingredients that are pretty common and passed the taste test in our home. I included a link back to each of the original recipe sources but I also give my two cents on each recipe and what we liked best or changed to work for our family.

I’m always looking for new meals and treats but sometimes you never know how difficult some recipes really are – and if the’re really any good. So I hope these recipes and my comments will help! Click on the links for each recipe and try them yourself. And I’d love to hear your feedback!

Here are my May recipe round-up picks {with my two cents added}:

Shrimp-and-Avocado-Taco-Salad-iowagirleats-01

Shrimp & Avocado Taco Salad from Iowa Girl Eats. I don’t make shrimp too often and I don’t know why. This was so yummy! The only change was that I cut down on the cilantro. Great for Cinco de Mayo!! Olé!

oh3700p56-spinach-onion-swiss-frittata-m

Spinach, Onion, Swiss Frittata from Cooking Light. A yummy treat for breakfast – maybe even Mother’s Day?? But it can definitely work for dinner too. Being from Cooking Light is a bonus!

tm1b64_chicken_piccata_pasta1.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscape

Chicken Picatta Pasta Toss from Rachael Ray. Easy peasy! We love our pasta. I only added 1/3 of the capers it called for. I love ’em but the kids, not so much.

chicken-tamale-casserole-1

Chicken Tamale Casserole from Posed Perfection. Another Cinco de Mayo option. This recipe uses a box of the Jiffy corn muffin mix. You had me at hello. Didn’t change a thing.

I hope you enjoy these yummy dishes as much as we did. And I hope you have a wonderful – and warm – weekend!!

DIY mother’s day tray for breakfast in bed

mothers day tray

What better way to start off Mother’s Day than with breakfast in bed. Maybe your hubby and kids will make you pancakes or french toast, or a yummy egg sandwich. Add some coffee, juice and a few flowers and they did good. Now, have this breakfast delivered on a personalized, handmade tray and they just knocked it out of the park!

wood shadow box

This tray is a real simple DIY project that your kids could do. Even your husband. what? Ok, maybe he won’t be creating this project on his own, but give him a little hint – or print out this post – and he can help the kids create it. Or make a tray for yourself and leave it in the kitchen so the breakfast idea might just come to them!

tray with drinks 2

The great thing about this project is that it works as a thoughtful Mother’s Day gift that is truly from the heart. But you {and husband and kids} can also reap the benefits – and praise – all year round. After your special day, display the tray on a coffee table, or use it to serve drinks during a party and it’s sure to be a great conversation piece. “You husband and kids made this for you? How sweet! You’re so lucky!” I can hear it all now.

momentos & paper

Here are the materials you, ahem, your husband, will need:

• An unfinished wooden shadow box – I got a 12″x12″ one at Michael’s for $7.99. This shadow box makes a great tray because of it’s depth and the edges also overhang so they work like handles. You could also use any old tray.
• white glossy spray paint
• paper remnants – I love scrapbooking papers for their colors and patterns.
• photos
• mementos and/or kids’ drawings
• thoughtful words printed from your computer, or handwritten by the kids
• decoupage glue
• 1/2″ wide rope
• tools: scissors, drill, ruler, paintbrush or sponge

Instructions:

spray painting

1. Sand your shadow box {or old tray} lightly and spray with a few coats of spray paint. Let dry.

glueing paper

2. Next, you want to use your paper remnants, photos, mementos, computer type, drawings, etc. to create a design on the flat surface of the tray. These can be cut and arranged anyway you like. I started with larger pieces of the scrapbook papers and cut them to the sizes I wanted. Then I glued them to the bottom of the tray using the decoupage glue. I made sure to start with the outer edges first so that things lined up nicely. Decoupage glue is messy but it will dry clear and clean.

glueing photos

3. Then I arranged my smaller photos, words, and drawings on top of the scrapbook papers. Have fun with this part – you can layer and arrange however you like! Again, glue them down with the decoupage glue and spread the glue over all the pieces too.

glue coat

4. Once all the pieces are glued in place, use the decoupage glue as a sealer and spread a generous amount over all the pieces. Add additional coats until you have a thick coating. Don’t worry, it will dry clear.

drill holes

5. For tray handles, drill 2 holes on opposite sides of the tray about 5″ apart.

rope tied

6. Loop the rope through the holes and tie knots in the bottom of each end. Make sure you leave enough of a loop on top for your hand to fit through.

tray in bed 2

7. Now you need to fill that tray! Here are a few breakfast recipes that the kids can help make too. Again, feel free to print them out and maybe even leave them right next to your new tray. oh so subtle.

Vanilla French Toast recipe

Pumpkin Pancake recipe

Egg Sandwich with Ham & Spinach recipe

tray in bed

Handmade gifts are wonderful but not everyone has the time {or patience} to make them. Checkout my store-bought Mother’s Day gift ideas here. Enjoy!!

FREE important contacts sheet & DIY washi tape holder

hanging detail 2

Have any of these scenarios happened to you? Last winter I had to call a plumber to fix our ice maker because it was leaking. I found several plumbers online, made a bunch of calls and found a great guy who was very reasonable, nice and did a great job. perfect. Now, 8 months later we need a plumber to fix our kitchen faucet. I can’t remember who I called! I had to go rummaging through our paperwork to find a receipt for that old job.

Then, a few years ago we had a great guy do some mason work on our front steps. I went to refer him to my friend and I couldn’t remember his name! Again, back to find the paperwork.

And the final straw came when it was time to reorder some firewood. We loved the guy who we bought it from last year. But do you think I can find his number? Of course not.

Please tell me you can relate. Or am I just losing it?

If I were super organized, I’d have a cute rolodex and just flip through it and call my old plumber. I would find that great mason’s number. And I’d have the firewood ordered and delivered by now. Or maybe I’d have them in my cell contacts. But really, my plumber in my cell? The firewood delivery guy? Doctor’s numbers, yes. But plumber and firewood guy, probably not. Truth is, I do have a cute rolodex but it’s chalk full of a lot of useless numbers, and I have 5 plumbers’ numbers in there. Our family needs our important information to be organized and accessible.

important contacts

And if I had all these contacts in my cell, then that would mean I would have to do all the work to contact them. So I decided to go old school and create contact information sheets and keep them in a central area in our house so that all of our super important people are readily accessible to everyone. I created four sheets that contain areas for emergency contact numbers, medical contacts, school contacts and general home contacts. You may need all four sheets or just one or two. I just started filling mine in and they have already come in very handy!

So you may not have the memory issues I have, but I think having organized contact information sheets is a great idea to help any household run smoother. You can download my version below. After you download it, print it out and fill in your family’s info.

Martha Stewart adhesive pocket

Then, I bought this super handy Martha Stewart Home Office adhesive pocket that works great for holding these sheets. I attached it to the inside of our pantry door and I have instant organization!

washi tape embellishing

I thought it looked a little dull so I added some washi tape to the front of it and now it’s a super cute holder for our super important contact info. super!

Click here to download the contact information sheets.

Click here to order the Martha Stewart Home Office adhesive pocket.

washi tape

You can find washi tape here. Love this stuff!

contact info sheet hanging 2

Now I think I’m going to take some ginko biloba and work on my memory!

mother’s day gift ideas

Mother’s Day is just around the corner so it’s time to start thinking about that special person in your life. Here are a few frugal ideas that are sure to please. And I know, because I’m a mom and I want all of them! Click on the links to find online.

mday gift ideas montage

1 – terry beach reader case. It’s lined with water repellant polyester so it’s perfect for an e-reader – or a good old fashioned book! 

2 – personalized gold plated disk necklace. Have the kids’ names or initials engraved on these and it’s a keepsake.

3 – gardening tool set. Gardening season is here and this is a great way to keep all our tools and gadgets together. Comes with tote and tools. Pair this gift with some seeds and hand painted pots, so sweet!

4 – Lily Pulitzer is now at Target. oh boy! The line is super cute and super affordable. And there’s something for everyone – clothing, accessories, home decor.

5 – personalized stationery. What a great gift for those notes to school, thank you’s – or any occasion – and minted.com offers so many designs that would fit any taste.

6 – this seafoam clutch. I have a very similar clutch that I use all. the. time. This is the perfect size for a night out or special occasion and the color is just scrumptious.

7 – this art print from an Etsy vendor is just so feminine. Check out her entire shop for more options too.

Hope these ideas get you thinking about what you need to buy for Mother’s day. And all are under $50. Bonus! Now go ahead, drop some hints for yourself!

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