Friday, May 22, 2015

DIY Herb Pallet Garden

For Mother's Day/my Mother-in-Law's birthday, the three daughter in laws built her this herb pallet garden.  It was so simple and turned out so cute!  I now need to build one for myself :)

We started with a small pallet.  I then cut spare boards from other pallets, as well as some leftover 1 x 4 boards to fit the bottom of each row and screwed them in.  

We then used chalk board paint to create a writing surface, and stenciled our herb names onto each space.  Soil filled in each of the boxes, and then we planted our herbs!  We included basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, lavender, and strawberries.  You will need about 1/2-3/4 of a regular sized bag of soil to fill a small pallet like this.  

I loved how simple it was to create, and how cute it turned out!  I can't wait to find another pallet for my own herb garden at home.  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Week- Quick, Easy, & Simple Gift Ideas

"Thanks for making me one smart cookie!"

It's Teacher Appreciation Week!  Do you have any teachers in your life?  Although we homeschool, we have gym child care staff, gymnastics teachers, church teachers, and others that I very much love and appreciate.  

My sister in law is an amazing teacher!  And her school has been so good to her (and all the teachers) this week.  She's been texting me pictures of all these wonderful ideas to share with you!  

"Cannot erase your impact on me!"

Here's a little tip: teachers LOVE Expo markers.  

"You've been the highlight of my year!"

"How are you so flipping' awesome?!"

This spatula is accompanied by a little bag of pancake mix!

"You're simply the best!"

I hope you now have some super quick, simple, and inexpensively cute way to say "thanks" to a teacher in your life!  

Monday, May 4, 2015

Music at Home & Where to Find Instruments for Cheap

I LOVE music-don't you?  Other than school music class, I wasn't really exposed to music lessons of any sort until about 4th grade.  I took choir for a few years, learned flute in 5th grade, clarinet in 6th & 7th, keyboard in 9th so I could join the youth worship team at church, and guitar in 12th for my senior project.  I am currently a licensed Kindermusik educator running a Kindermusik music & movement program at a local music store for children ages 0-5 years.  I LOVE it so much.  

My children have been exposed to music since birth, and I'm so thankful for that.  My husband even played guitar in the hospital for our first born, Ellie.  Ellie began learning guitar from Ben around the age of 5; she was a natural and picked up chords quickly.  A few months ago, we had Ellie (7) start taking formal guitar lessons, and Zoe (5) started taking piano lessons.  Aaron (almost 4) REALLY wants to play drums someday.  For now, he uses whatever he can find to hit and make noise.  

It's so easy to implement music education at home.  Babies love banging pots and pans with a spoon. They love slamming cabinet doors over and over.  Anything around us can be used to make music, and we can let our children explore around our houses to create new sounds.  That being said-it is definitely nice to have a host of instruments to have at home for exploring.  You don't have to spend a lot of money to get your hands on a variety of instruments!

Search Craigslist for unwanted instruments.  I had wanted a piano for a long time.  We kept our eyes open on Craigslist for a free (or almost free) piano for several months before finding one.  We brought it home, painted it, and now use it daily!  I've seen drum sets go for very inexpensive as well. 

Amazon carries a lot of instruments!  I personally buy most of my baby safe instruments for my 
Kindermusik from Amazon.  The price for these 4 Hohner baby instruments is typically cheaper than anywhere else.  They sell a lot of smaller instruments for great prices.

Ebay is your friend.  Ebay is a great resource for used instruments that still have lots of life.  Most instruments can live on from person to person.  Also, if you're not sure whether you or your child is going to actually like an instrument, buying used can save you a lot of money.  

Rent an instrument.  For most band instruments, you can find local music stores that rent out instruments to students.  If you're not wanting to make the purchase of the saxophone your child is wanting to try out, you can rent it on a monthly basis for a fraction of the cost.  

When most people think of buying their child an instrument, they think of the big ones-piano, guitar, trumpet, drums, etc.  But don't forget that there are many other smaller instruments that are great for learning, too.  Rhythm sticks and egg shakers are great for learning rhythm and only cost a couple bucks each.  A recorder is a great introduction to wind instruments at a cost of less than $10.  A xylophone or glockenspiel is an excellent way to experience piano without the piano.  

It doesn't cost a lot (or anything at all) to introduce your children to music at a young age, but the benefits of music will last a lifetime!

Friday, May 1, 2015

DIY: Farmhouse Style Shelves

We recently moved some furniture around our living room/kitchen space.  We don't have a lot of storage in our small kitchen, so I thought it'd be nice to add some shelving to one of the walls and use Ball canning jars to store things like beans, popcorn, teas, etc.  I love the farmhouse style, and of course love anything DIY and homemade!

We knocked these shelves out in about 3 hours (including drying time).  We spent $36 on brackets, and around $10 for the board (I really can't remember how much it was-this is a general ballpark price).  So, not the MOST inexpensive project (due to needing sturdy brackets so things don't-you know-fall on my children walking by), but overall reasonable for 3 good sized-and good looking-shelves!

We started with a 12 foot long 2x8 board.  A 2x10 would also be a great size for these shelves.  We cut them into three equal pieces.  

For staining, I boiled some water and made a strong brew of black tea.  I wiped this all over each of the boards.  Then, I applied a coat of steel wool soaked vinegar.  This had been sitting already in my garage from another project.  To make this type of stain, you simply soak steel wool (we used the kind with the number: #0000) in a jar of white vinegar.  Be sure to let a little bit of the steel wool to touch the air (i.e. let it stick out a bit) so that it oxidizes.  Occasionally dip the wool back down into the jar, shake, pull out another portion of the steel, and repeat until you have a darkened mixture of vinegar.  24 hours is usually plenty of time.  

When you wipe this mixture on, the wood absorbs it differently in different spaces.  Also, different woods will take it differently.  It's totally out of your control, which I love!  And it darkens over the first few minutes-so if it goes on really light, let it sit and watch it darken!

We let this dry on the boards.  We did not use any kind of finish or poly because they aren't getting any sort of heavy use.  Then we just screwed our brackets into the wall and hung them up.  We originally bought brackets without the middle support bar, and it was a big mistake.  You need brackets with some sort of middle support so that it can hold the weight of the wood plus whatever you're putting on them.

I really, really, love these shelves.  And they were so incredibly easy to make!  They've freed up space in my pantry cabinet so I can see everything better, and give me an excuse to buy more Ball jars :)

(The links in this post may be referral/affiliate links.  Read my disclosure policy HERE.  Thank you for supporting the continuation of this blog by using my links!)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Our New-Gulp-Mini Van!

Two years ago, we sold our second car to pay for the birth of our fourth child, Levi.  I'm a stay at home, homeschooling mom, and my husband works just a couple minutes away from our house.  A second car wasn't a complete necessity, and it was fairly easy to make the decision to sell the car.  We don't like debt, and we try to pay cash for everything and anything.

Fast forward about 2 years, and we now have 4 children who are a bit more active.  We have lessons and co ops and playdates and errands to run during the week days.  And while dropping Ben off at work in the morning and picking him up in the evening isn't terrible, it can sometimes be a hassle when scheduling other things around those times.  Additionally, Ben has been performing quite a few more weddings, which means he often has weeknight meet ups or weekend rehearsals and weddings. I also have my Kindermusik business, which is primarily on weekends, too.  Basically, it was just getting too difficult to be a one car family with 4 kids and our schedules.

In January we started actively saving for a new car.  My initial goal was $3000.  I figured we could at least get a decent car for that much.  We saved all our extra income and by April, we had about $4000 for a car.  Ben searched high and low for a VW Squareback or Bug.  They were just too far out of our budget.  And then one day, unintentionally, he found a minivan.  Say what?  I've always had a hate-hate relationship with mini vans.  They're ugly.  They certainly aren't "cool", and they just were not made for me.  I like Suburbans.  Big SUV's.

The more I thought about it, the more I liked it.  So we went and met up with the guy, checked it out, drove it, and bought it!  We got the car for $4000.  It's fantastic!  I may be falling in love with it...just a bit.  It's spacious and fits our family well.  And, I'm super proud of my husband for choosing something for practical for our family, even though what he really wanted was a Squareback (maybe someday?).

So now we're a two car family, which means I can do whatever I want...except nothing because I spent all our money on a new car.  Sigh.

On another note, did you know you're supposed to have a moving permit, even if you buy from a private party?  The kind police officer was nice enough to let me know this little tid-bit and let me off with a warning.


Since I didn't publish this post right away, I am updating this now, before I do publish it.  Last night our new minivan left us stranded at bedtime with all 4 kids.  It wouldn't jump.  Lights all worked.  Lame.  We have wonderful friends who came and got Ben so he could come home and get our other car, and we had to get the van towed.  TOWED!  And, because it only had a temporary insurance number, we had to pay out of pocket (which is actually reimbursed by our insurance agent-yay!).

Fast forward to this morning.  Ben checks in with the car shop, and they think maybe the main computer or whatever is bad, which is not promising.  But in the end, they said it looked like the starter had been recently replaced and had fallen loose.  They tightened it for us, and now the car works!  Not only that, but they waved the $150 fee that was to accompany the inspection.  They did it totally for free.  Amazing!  I'm so thankful for two working cars!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Guitar Foot Print Craft

Last week, I was busy running a music camp for school aged children. We were totally full with just over 20 children!  It was a ton of fun, but I am STILL tired!  

One of the crafts we did were these footprint guitars.  So simple, but so cute!  It's also a great way to introduce the various part names of a guitar.

Using tempera or acrylic paint, paint the foot of your child.  Have them step onto the paper.  Allow the paper to dry.  

Once it's dry, let your child turn it into a guitar!  I gave the children an example, and they ran with it.  You can see that all the guitars are different and unique.  Some basic aspects you can encourage them to draw are the sound hole in the middle of their footprint, the neck, strings, and tuning pegs (the little dots at the top).  I love that every guitar looks so different!  

Monday, April 6, 2015

Catching Up

Oy!  Time has been flying lately, and I've been on my toes keeping up on everything...except apparently my blog.  So, here's the last few weeks in a nutshell....

I enjoy being busy.  Not too busy.  Not stressed busy.  But an I have things to do and am not bored type of busy.  This week, however, will lean towards the former stressed type.  Although I'm a stay at home parent, I do run a (small for now) Kindermusik program, and all the kids stuff at a local music store (camps, birthday parties, etc.).  

This week, I am running a spring break camp, which means I'm working full time.  My girls get to come with me, which is a huge blessing.  But balancing lunches for everyone, getting the boys to grandmas early in the morning, trying to figure out who in the world will watch the boys on Thursday and Friday, having dinner on the table, keeping up with the admin stuff of my Kindermusik business, and being a one car family is simply crazy.  Crazy, I tell you.  And although it's fun, I'm always happy when camp weeks are over.

Changing subjects...I got my first tattoo last week.  For reals.  The more times I see it in the mirror, the more I love it.  One of my old youth group leaders from when I was a kid did my tattoo for me, which was extra special (thanks, Moses!).  I'm extremely surprised that I beat Ben to the punch on getting the first tattoo.  

Homeschooling is going well, and continues to be an amazing adventure.  The more I let my children take the lead on what we're learning and set the pace, the more they seem to get excited about learning.  I think homeschooling will inevitably be one of those ever evolving things...just when you think you've figured it out, everything needs to change.  

On the note of homeschooling, I've decided that in 6-7 years, I'd like to take 3 months (or so) to go travel the world with our kids, studying cultures, history, geography, language, etc.  In six years, our kids will be about 8, 10, 12, and 14.  I think these will be great ages for such an extensive and educational trip.  Plus, that gives me A LOT of time to save up for it.  

I've been really good at spending money at the grocery store (and by good I mean "bad").  I feel like it's been such a challenge for me to get back into my rhythm of shopping well and on purpose and freezer cooking.  I really need to focus and get my grocery spending back on track.  Also, I go to Trader Joe's for produce at least twice a week.  My kids eat SO MUCH FOOD.  I really never expected this amount of food consumption from my children.  It's crazy.  Four kids can eat a lot of food.  

I'm sure there's more, but that's a little snippet of life the past few weeks.  Happy belated Easter!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...