Lindsay Gill

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Guest post by Lauren: 5 steps to a DIY children's art gallery

A big thank you to Lauren for sharing her experience making a DIY children's art gallery! Lauren is a friend from college who is now a beautiful mama and teacher. Originally, I saw Lauren's Facebook post, asking where to find something to display her daughter's artwork. The next post I saw was her finished product that she had done herself! I was so impressed and asked if I could share!  Thanks again, Lauren!

Hi everyone!  I’m Lauren, mom to a busy 15-month-old and a high school math teacher.  I’m blessed to have the summers off with my little one!  This summer I had lots of projects and decorating ideas (we watch lots of HGTV and it’s dangerous!) and so far I’ve completed one.  I’m pretty happy with that, though!  Plus, there’s still time for maybe one more!

I am a Pinterest lover and a while ago I found a photo of a creative way to display kid’s artwork.  I really liked this idea because even though my daughter is only 14 months old, we’ve already got a bunch of artwork projects to display!  Our daycare is great and she’s made most of them there!  They were starting to clutter up the fridge, and I felt that I couldn’t display too many at once.  Plus, I know we’ll only have more things to put up as she gets older!  Also, we have a big open wall in our dining room that I’ve been searching to fill and once I found this idea I felt it was the perfect fit.  I also liked how I could easily change the artwork (or pictures) out without worrying much about the size or shape of it. See here for photos that inspired me before I began.

1.  I went to Michael’s and got hanging kits (sawtooth hangers), eye hooks (screw eyes), and picture hanging wire (galvanized braided hanging wire).  I also found some really cute mini clothespins – I went with white but they have lots of colors!  

2.  Then I went to Lowe’s and got the wood.  I wasn’t sure where to look, and some very helpful employees found me with the decking wood (Not exactly what I wanted!) and helpfully directed me to the thinner, more crafty wood.  I wanted pieces that were 4 feet long and luckily they had that (although I believe they’ll cut it for you if the length isn’t right).  The wood I got is 4’x3.75”x.75”.  I also picked up some fine sand paper (220 grit), some wood stain (I chose Minwax’s Dark Walnut), and a polyurethane spray (Minwax Clear Semi-Gloss).

3.  Thankfully my Dad is very handy so he helped me with the steps for staining the wood, which was the part I was most nervous about.  It was much easier than I had expected!  I sanded the wood down and stained one coat on each side.  I wiped it off after only a few minutes, but you could let it sit longer or do more coats depending on the look you’re going for.  I really wanted a slightly more rustic look where you could see the knots and grain of the wood so I just did one quick coat.  After that was dry I sprayed about 3 coats of the polyurethane.  The spray was very handy and simple to use!   It was very humid when I did it, so I let that dry for several days before I felt it was completely dry. 

4.  The next thing I had to do was measure where I wanted the different hooks to go.  I decided to mark where I wanted the eye hooks first.   I placed them about 2 inches in from the edge of the wood and centered vertically (they actually ended up a little off center because I measured too quickly, but I did make it even on both sides so it’s not too noticeable!).  I pre-drilled the holes with a small bit on my husband’s drill to make screwing the eye hooks in easier.  Next I put the zig zag hanging hardware on the back of the boards.  I realized this was much easier to do without the eye hooks in so I waited to put those in until after.  I measured the hanging zigzags to be about 2 inches in from the side of the board and about ½ inch down from the top.  I put one on the left and the right of each board instead of only one in the middle, to provide more support and stability for the display.  They were super easy to position and hammer in!  The tiny little nails were a little hard to hold with my fingers so I just used a pair of pliers to hold the nail while I tapped it in.  Once that was all set, I went back to the front and screwed in the eye hooks.  It was easy enough to do by hand and then I just used pliers at the end to be sure they were nice and tight.  

5.  Then, I strung the hanging wire between the two eye hooks.  I had a few extra inches on each side which I doubled back and wound around itself.  I wanted to make it taut and again used the pliers to do the best I could to pull it tight.  I also had to flatten the sharp end of the wire so that it hopefully won’t scratch anyone! 

The last step was to hang them in our dining room, which my husband helped with, and then add the artwork!  I was extremely pleased with how they came out, and I’m excited to have a place to display artwork or photographs for years to come (and help keep my fridge a little neater too)!  It really wasn’t that difficult of a project to complete, I was able to work on it in short bursts while my daughter napped and it didn’t take long at all!  I hope that if you try this you’re successful and enjoy the process too!  

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Making photo books through Snapfish in 10 easy steps

I just completed a photo book of Luke and Sophie from January to June of this year.  I had 4,770 photos for that time period and it only took me a few interrupted hours! I started making photo books when Luke was born, so I've had 3.5 years of practice to perfect my method. There is no better time than the present to make these books, it is such a concrete and organized way to hold onto these photos, and we already love looking back through them.

I think many people are overwhelmed by these photo books. And it is just recently that I feel like I have a less-overwhelming system for creating these books. I will break it down into ten easy steps.

1.  Buy an external hard drive such as this one that is designated for photos only. Otherwise, the photos get lost, or slow down your computer.

2.  Every time you need to remove photos from your phone or camera card, download them to this hard drive and save them by date. Don't forget photos from your significant other or family, too. This also helps when you go back looking for certain photos, you have a better chance of finding them. I read that one blogger even organized photos by who is in them. That sounds so helpful when it comes time to make DIY gifts, but seems a little more than I'm capable of!

3. When it is time to make the photo book, upload each folder of photos onto Snapfish under an album labeled by date range for the book that you are making (example Jan-June 2016). There is a max on each upload, so do it in sections. I made a photo book for each month of Luke's life until age 1, but now my plan is to make a Luke/Sophie combined book every 6 months.

4.  Once the photos are uploaded, move them from their dated folder on hard drive to a new folder on the hard drive labeled "done."

5.  Start your photo book on Snapfish. My current favorite is the 12x12 hardcover book.

6. Here's the crucial step. Select the photos you would like to use. Be picky. Choose the best ones. Originally, I deferred the "autofill" feature and added the photos manually to avoid including duplicates, bloopers, and random photos. This took forever. But if you do the selection work in the beginning, the autofill feature is a dream!

7. Click "autofill" and watch your book come to fruition in seconds!

8.  Go through each page and enlarge or swap photos as needed, showcase others!

9. Wait for a 60% off coupon on Snapfish. They always come around.

10. Buy book through eBates to get 10% back on your purchase!

Do you have a system for organizing photos? I'd love to hear about it. Please let me know if any of the steps need clarification!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Guest post by Nicole: Rainy Sunday Aromatherapy Homemade Play Dough Recipe

Today, my good friend, Nicole, is going to share her homemade aromatherapy play dough recipe! Nicole is a wife, mom, elementary art teacher and great friend!  She loves everything DIY, interior design, thrifty fashion finds, and she is a great cook!  To see more of Nicole, follow her on Tumblr

Hey guys! As a full-time working mama of two little dudes under age five, life is pretty hectic around here, and I will admit that lately I have a love/hate relationship with the weekend. 

Remember weekends before kids? A time to relax and re-coup for the grueling week ahead; a late morning trip to the gym after a cup of coffee that hasn’t been microwaved 5 times, followed by a quick pedi on the way home before getting ready to out to dinner-maybe throw a nap in there to mix it up.  

Yeah, not happening now. Typically, our weekends revolve around some planned activities like a birthday party or trip to see friends or family and then there’s the inevitable catching up on house-functioning stuff like grocery shopping and laundry. I try to "infuse" the weekend with a few little surprises for the boys to make it seem like a special time as we escape the monotony of the week. It’s not always easy because frankly I find it more tiring being constantly on as a mom vs. teacher, but it’s important and it is in fact the little things….right? That’s what they’ll remember. I keep telling myself that.

This past Sunday was a doozy. It was dreary, cold, and rainy and we were all in our PJs long enough to contemplate even changing out of them. I dug deep into my mom bag of tricks for a fun indoor activity and out came homemade play dough. Since we’ve been on an essential oil kick we through some of that in there along with some food coloring for visual stimulation. 

This stuff hits all the senses guys. Your kids will love it! Heck, you’ll love it!  Ok, here’s what you need…you probably already have all of it in your kitchen...
(I doubled the recipe so that I had enough to make two different colors/scents.

Play Dough Recipe

1 cup flour

1 cup water

½  cup salt

1tsp. cream of tartar

1tbsp. vegetable oil

 food coloring (the type A in me likes to match the colors with the scents)
essential oils of your choice. (I used 4 drops per batch-more would yield a stronger scent)

1.        In a medium sauce pan mix together all ingredient except food coloring and EOs.

2.        Cook over medium heat stirring frequently for approximately 5-10 minutes.

3.        Add food coloring and oils. Let cool for the kids, and voila!

A few months ago I ordered the Young Living essential oil starter kit. I love how versatile essential oils are, and how they have made my family feel. My husband loves it when I diffuse Thieves, a Young Living oil blend, in the house. I have also made some little natural remedy products that I really feel have enhanced our overall well-being. I use a pocket reference to look up the health benefits and therapeutic properties of each oil, because there are literally thousands. Lavender and lemon both come in the starter kit. They are completely safe to ingest and use topically with small children in directed amounts.  There are countless medicinal benefits to these oils, but for aromatherapy purposes these are the main influences:

Lavender-Improves concentration and mental acuity. (Calming, relaxing and balancing) What toddler doesn’t need a little of that?!

Lemon-Promotes clarity of thought and purpose. (Invigorating, enhancing, and warming)

Get your own Young Living starter kit here for 24% off! (a great Mother's Day present, too!)

We used a clay tool set similar to this Melissa and Doug one to play with the dough. I like this one because it has a variety of different texture makers, stampers, and cookie cutter tools. I try and take off my art teacher hat as a mom, but I couldn’t help adding a little coil rolling lesson in there as we explored the dough.  I think my oldest ended up making “a tower or something." He is three and likes to follow up everything with “or something”, because I guess everything is something. And we will leave it at that.  Enjoy moms, dads, and caregivers alike!
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Monday, May 2, 2016

StitchFix: Just what I needed

I thought I covered everything in my first StitchFix "order."  Anything else we should know before we style for you? We're all ears! they said. Okay...Here's what I like.  Here's what I don't like.  Here are my measurements. Oh, and I have a shower to attend on this date.  Thanks so much!

My husband then muttered. "I'd hate to be your stylist!"

So my clothes arrived. How fun, how adorable.  A little box, just for me.  Filled with the cutest and most current styles.  I tried them on right away.  They fit!  They were great. This was the best thing ever.

Then Luke came running at me trying on the dress screaming, "What is that?! Can my hug it?!" with sticky hands.  I escaped just in time and folded it up quickly and put it in the return bag.  I'm not spending that much on a dress to have a sticky hand print on it! Return bag.

The sweater was adorable. But I knew the velcro from all of our diaper bags and raincoats would tear the strings out of place instantly. Return bag.

The shirt was ideal. Fancy enough for day to night. Chic with a feminine touch. But it didn't fit my nursing boobs at their fullest state. Return bag.

The white distressed jeans. The distress helped to disguise the distress that would soon be upon them. All I could think of was white jeans in a dirty sandbox.  Return bag.

Lastly, a gorgeous shirt that would require a strapless bra. Not happening, return bag.

I realized I hadn't been specific enough.

Anything else we should know before we style for you? We're all ears!

I have to be able to wear a real bra. The shirts have to accommodate my boobs throughout the day from a C to a DD. White will get ruined. Sweaters will get pulled. Luke wants to hug my dresses because he has never seen me in one.  Realistically, I'm going to get paint on something. Wine on something. Coffee on something. Spit up on everything else. Thanks so much! (no I didn't really send this)

I imagined the StitchFix team starting to tear up. Everyone trying to pass on my order to the next girl, or the new girl.  

I realized that at some point, I'm going to have to just make the purchase. To buy something with the 100% risk that it will be ruined.  But realized that there is something special about wearing something nice, something new. Something just for me.  Something to make me feel pretty.  Maybe it won't be a cost-efficient or a smart purchase.  I can see how easy it is to let everything go in the return bag when it comes to this knee-deep-in-mommy-stuff stage of my life. 

I am happy that I did keep a shirt from my second Fix.  I bit the bullet and kept a nice blouse.  I know I can wear it for work, date night, or a brunch with girlfriends.  I'll do my best to keep it "nice" but it might get ruined.  I know that I'll miss these dirty sandbox days. I'll miss my variety of stains, and miss the days when I get sticky hugs from my kiddos. 

I really think the StitchFix process was fun! It forced me to sit down and decide what styles I like and dislike.  It forced me to have some "me time."  I encourage you to give it a try!  Even if you don't want to keep anything, I think it is worth the $20 (that otherwise goes towards a purchase) just to "play dress-up" and have someone dress you!  Of course I would also encourage you to use my referral link so that I get credit towards my next Fix. Please share your experience with Stitch Fix, I'd love to see what you get!

P.S. Mother's Day is coming up, I think a gift certificate is a great gift for the mommy's in your life!