Tuesday, August 29, 2017

DIY Walking Rope

Last spring I was lucky enough to chaperone a preschool field trip. Do you want to know what it's like to chaperone a group of 3 year olds? Go to the humane society and try to get all the kittens in the cat room to line up in a perfect line and wait for instructions.

Yeah. It was interesting. Our preschool teacher is awesome and tries to get the kids outside as much as she can. After my experience with chaperoning, I had a new found respect for the teacher. I wanted to make her walks with the kids just a little bit easier.

You may have seen the walking ropes that daycares, schools or large families use. The idea is if younger children have something to hold on to, they are easier to wrangle.

I decided the concept was something that could easily be made with materials around the house. So, one afternoon I start messing around with the idea. After playing around with some rope and ribbon, I figured it out.


Ribbon (I used thicker ribbon I had in my scrap bin)
Sewing Machine (I suppose you could knot the ribbon into loops or try hand stitching or hot gluing..options for those who are sewing machine adverse)
Optional: Hot Glue Gun

Step One: Cut Ribbon

You have to decide how many loops you need for your rope. I decided to make 6 loops which allow 12 children to walk on the rope. One big loop will end up being tied off to make two smaller ones. Once you figure out how many loops you want, you need to cut the same amount of strips of ribbon. All the cuts of ribbon should be the same length. Now, my ribbon strips were quite long. I think they were around 24 inches long each.

Step Two: Create Loops

Turning the design to the inside, make the ribbon into a loop (aka circle or whatever fancy word I should be using instead) and sew the two ends together. I did several stitches, because I assume kids are going to be rough on them pulling and such. Do this with all the ribbon strips you have cut.

Step Three: Attach Loops

Once you're done, lay out your rope. I put my loops across the rope so I could see how close they should be together. Then I cut my rope about 2-3 feet longer than how I had it laid out.

To attach the loops, you can't simply tie them to the rope. They would slide all around, and you'd have a 5 child pile up. How I knotted everything is a bit hard to explain (and to show for that matter) but I'll do my best.

You will want to get one ribbon loop fully knotted on before you move on to the next ribbon loop. First, slip the rope through the loop.

Once you have the rope through the loop (or the center of the circle), tie the rope to one side of the ribbon loop. I tied the rope close to the sewn ends just to conceal them, but it shouldn't matter where you tie the rope.

Next, while keeping the rope knot in the center of the ribbon loop, tie the ribbon loop in a knot around the rope. Having the rope knotted this way will ensure it doesn't move around on the rope.

Step Four: Finish

I did a couple of finishing steps on the walking rope. I made a loop on the front of the rope so the teacher can hold it the rope. I wrapped this front loop with ribbon as a bit of padding and then hot glued everything in the place. I also knotted a loop at the very end of the rope for another child to grab. I also secured this knot with some hot glue.

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Saturday, August 5, 2017

DIY Slip On Converse


I don't know if any of you use Photobucket for blogs or forums, but without notice, they decided to just turn off all embeded images. So, my 10 years worth of blog posts now have a bunch of broken signature blocks. Argh. So frustrating. Anyways fellow bloggers, I feel your pain!

This year the Easter Bunny brought my oldest daughter her own pair of Converse high tops. The Easter Bunny got a really good deal on them. However, I, ahem..the Easter Bunny...didn't realize high tops are extremely difficult for kids to get on and off. The laces didn't have any give. Every time she had to take them on and off you practically had to unlace them. My daughter has many pairs of lace shoes that she wears with no problems, but these shoes weren't cooperating.

After a couple of soccer practices trying to get them on, I knew we needed a different solution. I thought about buying those lace free alternatives they now make. The reviews weren't great, and they could be expensive especially if they broke frequently. I was going to rig something up with plain white elastic when I saw a pile of my daughter's elastic ribbon hair ties. Why go with plain white when you can make something unique?

Each set of holes used one hair tie. I didn't have enough to do all matching elastic ribbon, but I did have enough to match the two pairs of shoes. Using a needle and thread, I would thread the ribbon through the hole and sew the front and back of the elastic with white thread. I tried to match the stitching that was already on the Converse. The first side was easier than the second simply because there was a bit of tension as you pulled the elastic ribbon across and threaded it. I left the top two sets of holes empty so it would be easier to pull them on. I am happy to report after a {very} active summer, they are still holding up quite well.

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Friday, June 30, 2017

DIY Outdoor Painting Station

If your weather has been anything like ours, your family is probably spending a ton of time outside. A couple of weeks ago, I was wandering around Lowes and saw some plexiglass. I got an idea to create a painting station for my children in our yard. The inspiration for the project came from our local children's museum. The painting window is one of my children's favorite rooms.

So, this project is actually pretty simple and inexpensive. We use washable fingerpaint for ours, and let the rain or squirt bottle do the cleaning afterwards.


Piece of Plexiglass (Lowes has precut ones available, but will also cut the glass for you)
Two boards the width of the Plexiglass (I had some left over plastic composite wood which has worked well in the elements)
Two or four bolts and locking nuts (Long enough to go through both boards with room to spare)
Two brackets/eye screws (to hang from your fence or other surface)
Cup Hooks
Drill, Clamps, wrench, pliers and (maybe) a Saw
Painting supplies: brushes, buckets, squeegie, squirt bottle

Step One: Drill Holes and Attach Bolts

Start by clamping your boards in a plexiglass sandwich. I didn't have to cut my boards to be the same length since they already were, but you might if you get a new board.

Going slowly, drill a hole through the boards and plexiglass sandwich. You will want to use a drill bit that is wide enough to have the bolt slide through easily. I did four holes/bolts in my boards. Using a wrench and pliers, secure the bolts through the boards and plexiglass. Make sure they are firmly attached but not too tight. You don't want to crack your plexiglass.

Step Two: Attach Hangers

I had some of these metal brackets hanging out from a previous project. It was rather easy to add them to the back of my board through the top set of bolts, but you can easily attach them using a set of screws as well. I added some washers just so they wouldn't wear into the boards over time.

Step Three: Add Hooks

You can now remove the clamps. I added a set of cup hooks to my boards to hang these small buckets for paint. The buckets are from Target. I might also add additional hooks for the squeegie and spray bottle. I slipped some rope through the the brackets and hung it on my fence.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Myrtle Gets a Facelift


I have one of those compulsive personalities that requires many (many) lists, properly labeled plastic bins and planning. I like things a certain way and in a certain place. Owning Myrtle has taught me that despite all the lists I make of what order the remodel will go in and what I want to accomplish, she has much different plans. I suppose remodeling her is much like motherhood in that respect.

When she was all shut up for winter, I made all these detailed plans. This year I was going to tackle the windows, roof and paint her one of those Pinterest worthy paint jobs. I spent all my snow days reading about how to properly seal windows, how to DIY paint on a vintage camper and how to coat a roof. I was anxious to get started the minute the tulips started peeking up.

On the first stretch of nice weather, I pulled out the first window. I was going to clean it up, seal it up with butyl tape and put it back in. Easy peasy. I wanted to complete all the windows so I could move on to painting. The framing was still solid around the window, and with a lot of elbow grease, the old caulk was gone and the window was ready to go back in. Except it wouldn't. At least not to the point where it was sealed properly. I realized after much cursing and wiggling, that these replacement windows weren't going to cut it. So, despite all my plans, I learned the lesson Myrtle keeps telling me...I have to be willing to be flexible. So, I started hunting for original windows to put back into the camper (still searching by the way). I decided to leave the old windows, buy some new metal door awnings to go over them to keep the rain out (thanks Amazon!) and move on to resealing the sheet metal pieces and j-rails.

I pulled the first piece of sheet metal that was covering a hole that used to be a vent. I didn't need the vent, but to make it look nicer and ready it for painting, I did paint the sheet metal white. I was pleasantly surprised the caulk came off really easy and there was minimal wood to replace. I got that project done in just a few hours. Fresh off this good news, I removed a piece of j-rail. It also came off easy and didn't seem to have any damage to repair. Heck, why not keep going? So, I removed the next piece of j-rail by the cab over bunk area.

Myrtle started laughing at me. And by laughing, I mean the skin practically fell off her because the bunk area is all rotted away. Son of a gun! I should have known that this was going to happen considering the cab over bunk area is the only part of the camper with the original birch wood which is a strong indication that it's the only area the previous owner didn't reframe. So, this is what Myrtle looks like in the front right now until the Hubs and I take off the front skin to see what we're dealing with. (Here's hoping it's just a couple pieces to replace by the j-rail)

So, that brings me back to that paint job. The cool eye catching paint job that I've been planning since before I got her. It would seem that isn't going to happen this summer. In fact, with the search for windows and the slow moving resealing, there's a chance it will be a couple of summers away. I was bummed. I know it's superficial and the paint has little to do with her ability to take our family camping, but dang...I wanted that eye catching vintage look now.

Late one night as I cut vinyl for a father's day gift (blog post coming soon), I pulled out some vinyl from an outside project a few years ago. Then I think an actual light bulb came on as I had my epiphany. If I couldn't paint Myrtle yet, that didn't mean I had to forgo decorating her. I ordered some vinyl, and now I have the pleasure of introducing Myrtle's mini-face lift.

The supplies you need for this project are quite simple. Two 5 yard rolls of Oracal 651 outdoor vinyl did the trick for me (I buy all my vinyl from Expressions Vinyl and have been very happy with their pricing and quick shipping). I put the rolls through my Silhouette paper cutting machine. I made a very simple cut file with 2 inch wide circles with a couple of rows of half circles for the top.

While my machine was cutting all that vinyl, I prepped the surface for the vinyl. I gave Myrtle a bath and then wiped all the blue areas (where my dots were going) with rubbing alcohol.

Once all the vinyl was cut, I used a old school ruler to measure out the top row. I did half circles every 6 inches. Once the top roll was done, I just eye balled the rest of the rows. The aluminum skin is a great way to keep the circles level. I just used the horizontal lines in the skin as my guide. I didn't use transfer paper. I just peeled the circles off and placed on the skin slowly to avoid bubbles. I would use a spare credit card to get any extra bubbles out of the vinyl and to stick it to the skin. When I got to an obstacle, I would place a circle over the skin and obstacle and use a dull Exact-o knife to cut around the obstacle.

I am extremely impressed with how this turned out considering the amount of time it took (just a couple of hours over several days) and the amount of money (around $30.00). The Oracal 651 is rated for around 6+ years of durability outdoors. I really hope it doesn't take that long to get to painting or I might go completely crazy. The vinyl should come off with some heat and scraping. Since it will only be removed when it's time to paint, I won't worry about any scrapes it may leave in the surface of Myrtle.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

DIY Watercolor Scratch Off Map

A couple of weeks ago I saw a sponsored post on Facebook that featured a scratch off map of the United States. As you visit a state, you scratch off the state to reveal a pretty watercolor underneath.

I was about to purchase one when I thought to myself, "I think I can make this with what I already have in my house." I watched some videos, read some blogs, and I decided to give it a try.

I tried a couple different methods I found online so I could give the best recommendation and directions. I would first recommend a quick reading through the directions, because I do give many alternatives to listed materials. So even if you don't think you have or can find the supplies listed, you might have an alternative option available.


Heavy Card Stock (I used 100 lb, 8.5 x 11)
Watercolors (I used basic Crayola watercolors from my daughter's leftover school supplies)
Paint Brush
Water, Cup and Paper Towels
Carbon Paper (or another method to transfer the mock up to the card stock)
Printer Paper
Computer (with word or photo editing software)
Self-Sealing or Heat Sealing Laminating Sheet (or Contact Paper or Packing Tape)
Large Chalk Pen


1. Create Mock Up

Using a simple map image, fonts I've downloaded, and Photoshop Elements, I created a mock up of what I wanted my map to look like. I hand lettered the state names, but you could easily add that to your mock up as well.

However, there are alternatives if you don't have these resources available to you. Instead of Photoshop Elements, you could easily use Microsoft Word or Paint to create your mock up. If you don't have a computer, you could free hand draw the map right on the card stock.

If you wanted to make a larger version of the map, you could also use these programs and print on several sheets and tape together. Instead of card stock, you could use foam board or poster board.

2. Transfer Mock Up

Now, I thought about just printing my mock up right on to the card stock and moving on to the next step. However, the more I thought about it, I thought it was likely the watercolor would cause the printer ink to bleed. Really, graphite (i.e. pencil) would be a better option. If I wanted to get really crazy, I suppose I could have hooked up my Silhouette to draw the image with a pencil.

What I did was grab some carbon transfer paper and sandwich it between a printed version of the document (on regular printer paper) and the card stock. I kept everything in place using a clipboard (but you could easily just tape everything down to the table or desk). I just traced the image with a ball point pen, and it transferred the image over. If you don't have carbon paper (it's inexpensive, reuseable, and available at craft stores), you could also try using your laptop as a light box, pushing hard enough to make an indent in the card stock or even just trying to print straight on the card stock.

3.  Paint

I'm no artist, but blending two colors is something I can do. I did each state separately. To blend the colors, I would start on one end of the state so the color was bright and then lightly move towards the center. I would then clean my brush in some water and blend the other color from the opposite side towards the center. Sometimes the colors would mix on their own beautifully. Other times I had to add a bit of water or dab up excess water with a paper towel. I worked around the entire map until each state was painted.

4. Sharpie

After the map was all painted, I waited for it to dry. If you happen to have a mistake (I had a couple), you can clean it up with some White Out or even try to wipe it away with a clean damp paper towel. Since the card stock is heavier, the watercolors shouldn't bleed through or distort the paper. Once the paper is dry, you can color in the lettering with a Sharpie. I also took the Sharpie marker and traced the outline of all the states. I then added the names of each state with a Sharpie.

5. Laminate

After I was done with all the painting and was satisfied with my map, I needed to laminate the paper. I have a heat laminator, so I simply put the map through my machine to laminate it. You can use many different methods to laminate the paper. You could use contact paper that's clear, self adhesive laminating sheets, or even packing tape.

6. Paint Over Map

So this is where I did some experimentation. I found many tutorials online that suggested using acrylic paint in a 3 to 1 ratio with dish soap. So, I thought I would try that out with some paint I had sitting around.

I wasn't overly impressed with the result. The paint wasn't smooth. Perhaps I was just too impatient and the paint wasn't quite dry yet or maybe I had the wrong type of paint, but it didn't scratch off so much as rolled off in big sticky bunches.  The left behind paint was a wreck as well. I tried a paint pen, but it didn't have that soap addition so it didn't work well either.

However, the paint option did allow me to put on multiple layers.  With each layer, the top layer got less and less opaque. I decided not to get too caught up in staying within the lines since 1) it was a pain and, 2) it was fairly easy to scratch off where I went outside the lines.

I found a blog that suggested using a chalk marker as the top layer, so I tried that as well. The chalk marker worked fantastic. It's not as solid as the paint and it scratches off easily enough that you can't add a second layer. However, I actually liked that it wasn't as solid so you could see where the states were underneath. I also liked that if I made a mistake and scratched off something I didn't mean to, I could easily go back and recolor in that section with the marker. The gold chalk marker isn't quite as metallic looking. Since it's chalk, it's matte finish.

7. Mount or Hang

If you chose, the final step is to put the map in a frame. A document frame works well since the card stock is the same dimensions as most certificates. Take the glass out of the frame so you can scratch off states as you visit them.

I hope this tutorial worked for you, and please let me know if you have any questions or comments below!

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