8.15.2014

DIY Superhero and Princess Sharpie Plates


Disclosure: This post was sponsored by NBTY through their partnership with Circle of Moms by POPSUGAR. While I was compensated by Circle of Moms by POPSUGAR to write a post about NatureSmart Vitamins, all opinions are my own.
It's not often that I'm away from my kids. So when I do have a trip that's Mommy-only, things at home are a little weird. Not that my husband can't handle Mr. Mom duty for a few days, but it's just not the same as the real deal (ahem, me) being there. This weekend is one such time. I'm headed off for a few days to hang with my blogging buddies in Atlanta, kid-free. And, since I know they'll be missing me at home (okay, maybe I'm secretly hoping they'll be missing me) I decided to craft up a little surprise for the kids while I'm gone.

Like most little boys, my son is a superhero fanatic. He Hulk-smashes and Thor-hammer whacks several things a day. Same goes for my 6 year old except instead of violently ruining furniture, she wears 12 princess dresses a day and can kick a soccer ball in plastic princess heals like nobody's business. From bubble bath, to clothing, to sheets, to vitamins, it's all princesses and superheros around here, all the time.


So in keeping with their current loves, I decided to DIY some Sharpie plates for them to use at breakfast (since I usually eat breakfast with them) while I'm away. Here's what ya do.


Supplies:

  • Dollar Store Plates
  • Variety of Sharpies

Step 1:
Divide the rim of your plate into even sections. I eyeballed this and used a piece of tape to keep my lines straight. Also, I used a dry-erase marker to make these lines just in case I messed up. But if you're brave, dive in with a Sharpie. Make as many sections as you feel like decorating differently.

Step 2:
Draw a circle to divide the rim from the rest of the plate. I figured it was best to keep the part of the plate that would have food on it free of Sharpie. I used a smaller bowl and traced.

Step 3:
Freehand your superhero or princess designs. I did a quick search online and found really simple icons to represent each of the Avengers and princesses. I basically looked for what would be the easiest to draw. To get really neat circles, I traced coins :)

Keep going! It doesn't have to be perfect. (You can make fun of my Hulk hands now) haha

Step 4:
Fill in the backgrounds. For the neatest look, try as much as possible to keep the marker lines going the same direction.


Step 5:
Bake them in the oven to really set the Sharpie. Most DIY Sharpie fellow bloggers recommend letting the Sharpie set for 24 hours. Then, place the plates in a cold oven and turn it on to 450 degrees (hot!). Let them bake at 450 for about 30 minutes then turn the oven off. Leave the plates in the oven, and let the plates and oven cool completely before taking them out. I still wouldn't trust the dishwasher but that should keep things pretty permanent.

That's it! They're done. Minus a few questionable Sleeping Beauty crowns and Iron Men that look a little bit like scary rabbits, they look pretty good!


So on top of the new surprise plates, they also got new surprise NatureSmart Gummy Vitamins in Disney Shapes and Gummy Vitamins in Marvel Shapes. Every time we grocery shop they either ask for new toothbrushes or these vitamins so I know they will be excited to have not 1 but 3 varieties to choose from in the coming mornings. Just a small simple thing that lets them know I'm thinking about them even if I'm away.

Their favorites at the moment are the Gummy Vitamins in Marvel shapes. They remind me of old fashioned gum drops. The kids love picking two each morning to have with breakfast and trying to figure out what each shape is. They taste great and add a little excitement for them to quick school-morning breakfasts.

And I'm not going to lie... the hubs and I enjoy some sweet Gummy Vitamins in Disney Shapes now and again too. :) It's a nice "treat" I add to our packed work lunches every once in a while.

So I'm going to try and bribe the hubs to take some pictures of their first surprise breakfast complete with new mom-created Sharpie plates and vitamins while I'm away. I'm sure they'll be excited in a half asleep/bedhead kind of way!


Disney Elements ©Disney, Disney/Pixar Elements ©Disney/PixarManufactured by NatureSmart, LLC
©MARVEL Manufactured by Rexall Sundown, Inc.

8.12.2014

Home is Printable

As summer wraps it up and the days of schedules, routine, and homework roll back in, I appreciate more than ever a good pair of stretchy pants, don't you? ;) When school's back in my days get packed full of deadlines and drop-offs, lunch-packing and pick-ups. All of this happening in non-stretchy clothing. Why's it gotta be so stiff?

It all starts at 6am when my alarm goes off and I ignore it until my husband starts poking me to get up. Then on with the work attire, getting the kids up, dressed, and fed, packing the lunches, organizing the backpacks, and pouring the coffee.  Out the door for work, run a few sweaty errands at lunch, then back to work to make sure I get it all wrapped up by 4pm so I can be on time to pick up the kids, and hurl them into the car to rush to whatever practice happens to be that night. Then it's usually an errand or two on the way back home (with two very sweaty, tired children in tow... always a good time), throw some dinner together, homework, baths, bed, ... repeat. This is my cardio.

So I thought I'd have a little fun today with a printable celebrating my at-home uniform and letting you know I got your back as we head back into the trenches this fall. I work, I mom, I blog, I wife. I get it. It's hard and we all deserve to sit on the couch in our stretchy pants for that 10 minutes of quiet time each night (even though I know we'll probably be folding laundry). Just click the image to download the 8"x10" PDF printable. Enjoy.

8.05.2014

Sharpie Monograms {Teacher Gifts}

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Staples, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia  #StaplesBTS http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

We're under the two week mark here for the big day. Have you finished your back to school shopping yet? We did, and the minute we got home from Staples the kids stuffed their new backpacks full of folders, sanitizer, notebooks, and more pencils than you would imagine a 1st grader would need.  Pretty soon my morning lunch-packing assembly line will fire back up, homework will find its way back into our evening routine, and school busses will slow my commute... and we're all excited. 

Part of the excitement for the kids going back to school is meeting their new teachers. I forget how much you love your teacher when you're six and four. Believe me, they do and it's so cute. So they were really enthusiastic when they found out I was going to doodle little monogram signs for them to give to their teachers on the first day. 

Lately I've been sharing some of my Sharpie illustrations on Instagram that I do for my day job and I thought today I could walk you through my process. It also got me thinking that I should start drawing more often for me (with a little encouragement from you guys too)... well for gifts and friends and things and not just work. So while the kids were stuffing our cart with safety scissors and glue sticks, I threw a few giant packs of Sharpies into the cart too. And -bonus- starting August 10th all Sharpie Fine and Ultra Fine markers and highlighters will be on sale at Staples while they last. I may need more.

Normally when I illustrate for work I don't plan anything. I usually don't even draw with a pencil first or measure anything. Wing it all the way. But since I was creating letters and numbers this time, I decided to print out a thin outline first to keep everything neat. I did a variety of the grades they are going into and the first letters of their teachers last names.
I usually start at one corner and work my way to the other breaking the space up into chunks and then filling in those chunks with more detail as I go.
I traced over the printed outline as I went too so the whole thing looks drawn and not printed. More personal and less like I cheated. ha!
Once the main object I'm working on is filled in, I almost always think "it needs something" and add little doodles that trail off to the outsides.
Like this.

The kids were busy at work with me making their own creations. Nothing like fresh markers to stir up some creativity. Only rule was, don't shake the table (or draw on your sister's face but I think that one goes without saying now... I think).

I actually illustrated a variety of K's, experimenting with different color combos. I think I tend to lean towards monochromatic or just black. While my daughter loved the combo for this K I thought it was a little too juvenile. I did another in oranges and yellows.

 She's already claimed this one for her room since, well, K for Kaley.

Here's version 2.
 And the combo I ended up liking much better.

After all of the illustrating was done, I sprayed two dollar-store frames a bright orange.

Then I hot glued ribbon to the backs. In my mind these will hang on a door knob so I made it long enough for that, but really I have no idea where their teachers will put them... door knob, trash can... you know, whatever. (kidding... I hope!)

And that's it. I really like how sweet and personal they are for very little money. Besides being a great teacher gift, these would be a really cute way to display a baby's name on a nursery wall too. Are you inspired to try it? C'mon! I know you can't resist a new pack of Sharpies. :) Happy back-to-school shopping!

7.29.2014

{Series Part 3} Fill Dirt

This post is #3 in my How to Build a House series. Click on over to see how we got to this point and where we're headed next in our house-building adventure.
Remember that one time I wrote a whole post on dirt? Yep, this is that time.

Fill dirt.  While it's not pretty and doesn't make for very good before and after pics, fill dirt, lots of it, was required in order to get our lot up to snuff and ready to build. Let's dig right in, shall we? (you see what I did there?)

When we first purchased our lot WAY back in 2007ish it was covered in trees.
Not gorgeously mature southern oaks or flowering magnolias, no no. Pine trees. If you live in the south you know pines pretty much grow straight up and not out, sort of like giant sticks. They don't provide a whole lot of shade and they're quick to fall on your shed in a bad summer thunderstorm, not to mention the needles make a mess of your pool screen. So, we kept what we could on the sides and in the back for privacy, tried to save a couple tiny non-pine trees we found, and removed anything else that could potentially fall on our new house (or the neighbors' houses because we're nice like that). That left us with one giant crater-esque lot.

Seriously, our lot was a good 4 feet lower than our neighbors' lots. See the slope off from the neighbor's yard next to my son's head? This picture was taken mid clearing.

And while some people might like the crater look, we knew that was not going to pass local building codes. Our builder told us, from his experience building in that area, we were going to need dirt. Drainage, septic, well, and flooding (and maybe some other stuff?) all contribute to the need for more dirt. So ask your builder or local code office if you're going to need dirt (we're in Central Florida) and about how high your lot is expected to be. This all has to be done well before the slab is poured to allow time for settling. (We filled a year in advance!)
Me and Austin after our lot was fully cleared just so you can see the task ahead!


As it turns out, 1 acre x 4 extra feet = A CRAP LOAD of dirt. And, dirt costs money. Side note: We could have filled just the spot that the actual house was going to sit on but then our yard would have sloped off in all directions... we wanted it flat. Many homeowners fill just the house pad. You can do that to save a little cash. Fill dirt is sold by the cubic yard and delivered via dump truck. Depending on the size of the truck, an average truck can hold 7-10 cubic yards of dirt. (larger trucks can hold much more but probably can't drive on residential streets, so you'll probably have the 7-10ish-yard-trucks delivering to your house) With some handy-dandy math, we estimated that we would need 100+ truck loads of dirt at, wait for it...., $125 per load. That is more than $12,500 in DIRT. *dies.

So we sweated about it. And procrastinated. And tried to figure out how we were going to come up with twelve grand out of pocket (since we still didn't have the loan at this point) while not depleting our downpayment fund. And then the next crazy magically dirty turn of events happened.

The 1 acre that we own is in a very rural neighborhood and our lot in particular backs up to a huge conservation preserve. This, of course, was one of the most attractive qualities of this particular lot. So imagine our panic when my husband visited the lot one day only to notice bulldozers and construction equipment directly behind it knocking trees down and digging a giant hole. This is one of the panic-frenzied pics he texted me that day.


This is right over our back fence. In the midst of hyperventilating, we called the city to find out what was happening to our iddlic country setting. They explained to us that it was still indeed "conservation" and that the power company just needed to make a small dirt access road back there to get to the power lines. No traffic, no building. Just a way to restore power to us incase of a storm. They were digging a new "pond" in order to get enough dirt to smooth out the road where their trucks might have to drive. Huge sigh of relief. Happy dances all around. 

So while we were still sweating the cost of filling our lot we joked that we could go out there with shovels and just start scooping the extra dirt from the road project (literally mounds of dirt just feet from where we needed dirt) onto our lot. That's when my husband got the idea to just ask what they were planning to do with all that dirt. So he called the city but they kind of brushed him off ("who is this again?") with no real answer. Really, the city had no incentive to hook up one of their contracted excavation companies with an individual landowner. I get it. That's when the hubs decided to take matters into his own hands. 

He took a half day off of work, drove out to the property during business hours, hopped the back fence, and flagged down a guy in a dump truck. I'm not kidding. Luckily the guy stopped :) and gave the hubs the contact info for his boss (the guy running this project). After a couple phone calls back and forth, road project guy realized he was going to have to pay to truck the extra dirt out of there and we needed dirt literally next door! Do you see where I'm going with this? 

Because my husband flagged down a dump truck, the dirt company filled our entire yard for FREE. We basically did them a favor because they didn't have to pay to truck the dirt away. They were happy to dump it on our lot for us and we were way more than happy to have them dump it there. This is just the start of the piles that began arriving on our property.

I'd love to say our entire lot was filled for free but really, the surrounding yard was (which really is a huge area and saved us thousands). The pad dirt, or the dirt directly under the concrete slab for the house, had to be a different kind of dirt. The free dirt we were getting in the yard contained "organics" as the dirt guys told me. Meaning bits of plants and wood and things that over time would decompose. You can't put that under the slab because it will shrink and settle too much and your house would start to crack. No good. Since we already had a relationship with the dirt people at this point, we worked with them and paid to have the right kind of dirt delivered for the pad. We just staked out the basic shape of the house and filled that area with the "nice" dirt.
Over the next couple weeks piles and piles and piles of dirt collected on our lot until no more could fit. That's when the dirt guys gave us the number of someone who could come out and "knock it down". Basically a guy in a bulldozer (bulldozer? I think that's the machine he was on) smoothed everything out and made a nice transition down to the street. He's basically a sculptor of dirt. It really is an art. It's hard to tell how much dirt is actually there in this picture. Trust me when I tell you it's tons and tons... literally.
So the moral of this story is don't be afraid to take matters into your own hands and maybe look a little crazy. I can only imagine what the dump truck driver was thinking when my husband flagged him down in the middle of the woods. Our builder jokes that we prayed to the dirt gods because he's never heard of such a thing before. :) Because of the hubs' shenanigans, we paid less than 25% of what were were expecting to pay to fill our lot. Woo hoo! Now that money can go into something more fun like cabinets, or furniture, or lighting, or rugs, or anything really besides dirt.

Ready for the foundation! Totally ready to do this. Like 7+ years in the making ready.

Stay tuned. The super fun adventure of getting a building loan is next.

7.28.2014

Back to School Name Tags

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® Elmer’s and Wet Ones, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #CraftandCleanUp http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV
August is so itching to be flipped over on my calendar. If it weren't for the insta-sweat, hair-frizzing, deodorant-reapllying humidity here, I might even forget summer is almost over. While the pit stains will tell you there's no end to summer in sight, it's totally true for the kiddos. Back to school is coming people. It's coming.

Just this week I stocked up on new uniforms (can I get an amen for free shipping and online sales?), made my first lap through the school supply isle at Target, and wrote "Meet the Teacher Night" on the calendar. The kids are asking about their new teachers and if 1st graders have to wear a belt. (I have no idea... do 1st graders wear belts??) While we wait for an answer on the great belt issue, I thought I'd put the kiddos to work making something useful for the upcoming year. Name tags.

What's the big deal, right? Why do you need name tags? Because if my kids have brought it to school, it's been lost at least once. Lost books, lost bags, lost shoes, lost lunch boxes. You name it, I've dug through the scummy lost-and-found box to retrieve it. So I figured a good way to keep their summer brains active, recycle some old business cards, and have a hearty stash of name tags to attach to school-bound items, was to make some.

Supplies:
  • Old business cards or scrap card stock
  • Elmer's Glue (bonus: you can get a Elmer's Glue/Wet Ones combo pack in the Back to School section at select Target stores while they last... someone knows how 1st graders and glue work)
  • Stickers
  • Decorative tape
  • Laminating sheets
  • Hole punch
  • String or rubber bands

Step 1:
Take all those outdated business cards and glue them right sides together. Lucky for me, my old cards were one-sided so that gave us a nice white card to work from. If your's are printed on both sides, just glue some scrap paper over the cards. It will cover up the old business info and provide rigidity.

Just glue right over Mama's face hun... it's all good.

Stick those suckers together. We did 3 or 4 and then moved on to decorating.

Step 2:
Decorate. The kids cut and glued decorative papers, added stickers, decorative tapes, and of course added their names or initials. I believe the below face is the universal "I'm cutting something out" face.

Easiest way to get the cards glued together evenly is to get in there with your fingers.
And since the glue came with Wet Ones Wipes, ... well two birds one stone, right?

Step 3:
Hole punch. Do this now before you laminate because it's really hard to hole punch through all of the card layers plus lamination. Trust me.

Step 4:
Laminate. I used self adhesive laminating sheets in the office supply isle at Target. If you have a fancy pants real laminator, you can always use that. After they were laminated, I repunched my holes through the lamination. It was way easier to do it this way than to try and punch through like 5 layers at once.


Step 5:
Add a string or rubber band.

Now attach those suckers to backpacks, lunch boxes, toys, books, whatever. I put all the extras in the same drawer I keep all the sandwich bags so when I'm packing lunches in the mornings the name tags are handy. They turned out so cute! I might just make a few for myself ... because you know sometimes people accidentally take the wrong lunch out of the fridge at work. #layoffmylunch :)