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Years ago, a very young Mr. Marigold and I moved out of our home state for our careers . We miss our families and our home state very much, and we try to get back to visit our families when we can. This means we are very, very experienced in road tripping, and since having kids, we’ve learned a thing or two about traveling with young ones.
Today, I’m going to share my road trip hacks for traveling with kids.
Sharing the love on Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a huge investment. This year we started a new family tradition: love notes to each other. Every day leading up to Valentine’s Day, one family member wakes up to balloons in his or her room. Each balloon has a sweet note from another family member.
Years ago I hand sewed a Christmas Tree Advent Calendar, which has become such a sweet tradition for our family. Ever since I was a young child, I absolutely loved Advent Calendars – usually the perforated paper variety in our home – to count down the days until Christmas. The anticipation was overwhelming each year.
I wanted to have that same tradition in our family – and I wanted to create something we could use year after year. I stumbled across this sweet calendar by Stitch Craft Creations. I fell madly in love with this idea and got to work, using her calendar as my guide.
This simple, budget-friendly recipe is a Midwest favorite that combines chicken and rice with fresh veggies and crunchy Chow Mein noodles.
I have to admit, versions of this recipe sat in my cookbook unused for years. This was one of my husband’s favorite meals growing up, and my mother-in-law had provided me all his favorites years ago. However I never made it, mostly because anything that uses coconut as a key ingredient is not edible, in my book.
Recently, however, I relented. We were in a meal rut, and I was looking for ways to lighten up some of my existing recipes. Plus, my mother-in-law had never led me astray before! I’ve seen many versions of this recipe online, and I have to say her’s is the best I’ve found. However, I adjusted the recipe just a bit to suit our tastes and using what we had on hand.
This is one of my favorite projects to date – also the easiest and least expensive: the children’s artwork display located in our Family Command Center – otherwise known as the mud room.
I wanted plenty of space where the children could hang their artwork and good grades with pride, without that messy cluttered look on the fridge. It also needed to be really flat to the wall, since the area I’d designated is in a space the width of a hallway.
Here’s how I did it:
Buy these eye hook screws and wire at the hardware store for less than $5 total (or spend a few extra bucks and shop Amazon at the links above if you want to save a trip to the store).
Drill holes into the wall where you want your eye hooks to go. Screw the eye hooks into the wall by hand. Then, wrap your wire around one of the hooks a few times. Stretch it to the other eye hook, pulling and straightening as you go. Wrap it around that eye hook 2-3 times and cut the wire.
I already had these cute little inexpensive clips on hand, leftover from Eve’s party favors.They work great for holding the various art and school papers the kids bring home.
Voila! Children’s art center complete in 20 minutes and for less than $5.
As for the rest of our family mud room command center, it’s still a work in progress. I have dreams for this space!
I found that sign at the thrift store. I think it was from a hotel long ago. I just love it!
What do you think of my low-tech art center for the kids?
Planning our annual family photos is always a feat in coordination, especially when we’re trying to do it on a budget. Here’s what I came up with for this year’s photos, using many items we already had on hand…with just a few purchases. 🙂
Like this look for your family? Shop the look here:
I recently tried to convince my husband to paint an entire wall of our dining area with black chalkboard paint. He didn’t quite have the same vision I had, so he asked me to hang a chalkboard until we could come to an agreement.
I agreed. After all, I’ve had a giant frame in storage that’s been waiting to be used for years. I bought it at a garage sale for around $10 which was a steal…but how do you fill such a large frame without spending a fortune? The chalkboard was the perfect solution.
If I hadn’t already had the frame, what I really would have wanted is a rustic wood frame. However, since this was likely temporary, I wanted to make this as easy and inexpensive as possible.
The problem: the frame was gold. Really gold. I debated on what to paint it. Silver? Weathered white? Blue? I haven’t committed to a color scheme in our new home yet, so I went with a safe, muted silver. I spray painted it with Krylon Brushed Metallic paint. I had planned to rub wax or wood stain to bring out the details, but I didn’t love that effect on the test areas so I just left it silver for now.
For the actual chalkboard, we bought a piece of thin plywood and I sanded it with a hand sander until it was really smooth. After cleaning it with a lint-free cloth, I painted four thin coats of Rust-Oleum Chalk Paint in black, using a foam roller. I sanded lightly between layers when necessary and removed all the dust with a lint-free cloth. When the paint was completely dry, I rubbed entire board with a large piece of sidewalk chalk to cure it, and then rubbed it with a lint-free cloth to erase it.
You can wipe it clean with a damp cloth for a clean crisp look, or with a dry cloth, which I prefer, for a true, messy chalkboard look.
So far, our family loves this addition to our home. We post fun quotes and verses, and the children love to use it for creating their own art, as well.
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We recently made the decision to sell our “starter” home and build a new home that better accommodates our growing family. We bought this home just months before our wedding, had three babies here and many, many precious memories as a family. We’re ready for the next chapter, but this sentimental mom is feeling a bit emotional about it, as well.
The moment we signed the papers to build our new home I was immediately motivated to take on a project I’ve been meaning to for a long time – make a family growth chart that we can take with us – wherever we go. Our former growth chart was done the old fashioned way – with pencil on the wall of our kitchen (that I still can’t bring myself to paint over even since I’ve made this beautiful new chart).
I’d once tried my hand at an embroidered chart that was supposed to be cute and charming, but didn’t end up looking quite as polished as my inspiration. I also found that I was too lazy to embroider once a year. My laziness factor is high.
So I moved on to those cute reclaimed signs I’ve seen all over Pinterest.
I started with a 3/4″x7″x8′ piece of cedar lumber that I purchased at Home Depot for less than $9. First, I enlisted Dub to weather it for me. I gave him chains and a hammer and let him have at it. I stained it with leftover stain that I used on our stairs for our garage makeover.
From there, I had to get measuring – my least favorite part. Our family is really tall, so I cut my board to 6′ tall and painted 1′ white stripes using leftover paint from the garage makeover. These are some terrible progress photos, but you get the idea.
I actually liked the way this looked when I was done, but I went ahead and sanded it to give it a more distressed look.
Then, I used my silhouette to create the measurement marks. I barely use my Silhouette but I used it for this, figuring it would make the measuring much easier for me. I measured it on the computer, cut it out on the Silhouette and then used transfer paper to stick it right on the board without having to re-measure.
I’m super happy with the way that it turned out! I can’t wait to hang this measurement chart in our new home next year. I can see keeping this chart in our home forever, and measuring little grandbabies someday.
Postscript: after completing my chart, I stumbled upon this cute version by Handmade Charlotte
If I had to do it over again, I think her way of painting the numbers would be a lot cheaper and easier. However, I’d still want to make the measurement marks so that I could tell visually exactly how tall the kids are. Everytime they get measured they want to know EXACTLY how many feet, inches and centimeters tall they are. Because that matters to 4 and 6 year olds.
What do you think? Do you have a family growth chart in your home?
I was sooo excited to recently be chosen for the PlaySkool ShowCam Bzz Campaign. A Bzz Campaign is a program through BzzAgent that sends free products and coupons to people to let them try it out, harnessing the most powerful form of marketing there is right now – word of mouth.
As soon as we got the box, I knew how I wanted to introduce this to the kids. Sunday morning we grabbed donuts and went to a local park where I brought my own camera to take a few snapshots of the family fun. I sent them on a picture scavenger hunt and let them snap away.
Now I should mention, I was surprised upon opening the packaging that there were absolutely no instructions inside. So we popped the batteries in and found that it was pretty intuitive to operate. Just a little testing of the buttons to figure out what-was-what, and we were off and running.
Dub took pictures of a spider, butterfly, leaves, and the rest of us at the park.
A cool feature of this camera is the in-picture templates. You can make your subject a pirate, ballerina, dragon, skunk…all sorts of fun things!
When we got home, we all watched the pictures through one of the camera’s coolest features – the projector. They loved this and were delighted when the in-picture templates played animations along to music. They watched them over and over…until a fight ensued about whose turn it was to play with the camera.
This camera is lightweight and made of plastic, yet it seems reasonably durable. I see lots and lots of fun with this toy in our future.
Our annual family photos are coming up quickly in just a few weeks – and I have been putting off the decision of what to wear. I normally have a vision and this time…I just don’t. Which is your favorite wardrobe theme?