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Elvis is in the House!

Whew! I haven’t posted lately. It’s been super crazy with our kindergarten kid and our high school senior! But it’s that time of the year again and Elvis is in the House! Elvis is Spencer’s Elf on the Shelf. Just wanted to share Elvis’ shenanigans for the past couple of days. First, Elvis left magic candy seeds for Spencer to plant in sugar.

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Spencer was so excited to “plant” his magic candy seeds in our sugar container!

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Elvis returned the following morning with a special note!

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Spencer grew giant candy canes from his magic candy seeds!

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Hope your Elf on the Shelf is bringing lots of smiles to your precious babies! Elvis is working wonders in our very blessed home! Happy Holidays!

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DIY Photo Cube

I wanted to make something memorable to give to the senior football players at the end of season banquet. We have taken so many photos of the players throughout the season and I wanted to use those photos . . . so came the Photo Cube! They turned out fantastic! The players loved them and so did everyone else who attended the banquet. They were easy to make and very affordable! I had some help from my dear friends, Rhonda and Beth! I couldn’t have done it without their help! Beth took some of the pictures and Rhonda came through on some of the supplies.

Supplies:

  • 4×4 wood blocks

  • Black spray paint

  • 6 photos

  • Credit card (or something like a credit card, you probably don’t want to damage a credit card, lol)

  • 1″ sponge brush

  • Mod Podge (I used glossy)

Directions:

You can go to any lumber yard or large home improvement store to buy a 4×4 wood post. I was very fortunate that Rhonda’s dad had some leftover posts after making a fence. Cut the wood into an even block. As most folks know, wood posts, planks, etc., are never truly the size they say they are. The are often smaller. So cut the post as close to an even block as you can. Sand down the corners, edges and all the sides. Rhonda’s dad did all the cutting and sanding for me! I couldn’t have made this without his help!

Spray paint the wood block with black paint. I used a cheap can of glossy black paint from the dollar store. Okay, I didn’t use it, the hubby did. He spray painted all the blocks for me ensuring he had an even coat on all six sides.

Print your 4×6 photos on normal copy paper using a laser printer. I of course don’t have one of those at home, I have an inkjet printer (like most folks do). The ink from inkjet printers usually run when any liquid gets on them (including adhesives). Inkjet printers use liquid ink sprayed through microscopic nozzles onto the paper, and laser printers use a toner cartridge (filled with fine powder) and a heated fuser. You can take your pictures to FedEx Kinkos and they will print color on normal paper for under 70 cents a sheet! Again, Rhonda came through and printed my pictures at her work using their laser printer. I also went ahead and cropped my photos down to a 4×4 size and was able to get 4 photos on one 8.5×11 sheet of normal copy paper. I just opened a blank word document and changed the margins to zero. The program auto corrects it to appropriate margins (the smallest margins possible). I then inserted the pictures into the blank document and was able to get 4 photos (4×4 in size) onto one sheet of paper. I recommend cropping your pictures to make it easier to use. Remember, the wood isn’t truly 4×4 in size, it is actually smaller so cropping it to 4×4 size ensures your picture will fit on the wood block.

After the black paint is completely dry, place your block on top of your picture. Using a pen or pencil, outline the block onto your photo. I have the photo upside down drawing on the backside of the photo.

Cut your photo about an 1/8″ inside of the line (so that a little of the black painted wood will become the edge of the photo). You will have to trim each picture this way because again, a 4×4 post is not truly 4×4 in size and your wood block may not be perfectly squared (meaning the sides could be longer than the ends or vice versa).

Using a 1″ sponge brush, brush on a light layer of Mod Podge on one side of the block.

Center your photo on to the block.

Using your credit card, press down the pictures making sure there aren’t any air bubbles and pushing out the excess glue. I used an old bingo card that I didn’t care if it got all scratched up and covered with glue. Allow this to dry for approximately 10 minutes.

Apply a thin layer of Mod Podge with the a sponge brush on the entire side covering over the photo. Don’t panic, it will dry clear and create a glossy finish. Allow to dry for approximately 10 minutes. Apply a second thin layer of Mod Podge. Allow to dry for approximately 10 minutes. Two layers of Mod Podge actually was enough to smooth out the edges of the photo. When you rubbed your finger across, you couldn’t feel the picture sticking out above the block. Repeat all the steps for the remaining 5 sides. After a couple of hours, the photo cube still felt just a tiny bit tacky. I put the photo cube on wax paper and allowed it to dry overnight. It was good to go the next day!

They really turned out beautiful. My picture above isn’t that great thanks to my camera. It has a mind of its own at times but the photos were crisp and glossy even though they don’t look that way in the photo, lol! The blocks don’t have to be perfectly shaped nor do the pictures have to be cut into a perfect square. As with anything home-made, the imperfections make it perfect! This would make a great gift to give to grandparents with the sides filled with photos of their grandchildren! The possibilities are endless and the senior table looked amazing at the banquet with the photo cubes on it!

DIY Important Dates Artwork

All you have to do is type “dates” in the search bar on Etsy and you will find a gazillion Etsy Stores selling some sort of version of this. Some don’t even print it but instead send you an electronic file. When I see something cute, I make it a personal challenge to make it myself . . . and so I did! I created a DIY Important Dates Artwork craft and the results are fantastic!

You pick the dates that are important to you and then add why underneath. Keep it simple, keep it clean. It gives a subway art feel and really frames nicely. I loved the way this turned out so much that I want you to be able to make one too! So I am adding templates in Microsoft Word that you can edit to make your own. Just decide on how many important dates you will need: 4, 5 or 6 of them.

Not a computer wiz? No problem, I’ve included screen shots on what to click on to make this artwork your very own original!

I purchased 8.5 x 11 textured, off-white cardstock from Hobby Lobby for literally like 30 cents (it was on sale). I also purchased the 11 x 14 navy blue mat (with an 8 x 10 opening) and the 11 x 14 wood frame from Hobby Lobby too. The mat was $2.99 and the frame was $5.99. So are you doing the math? I made this, frame and all for less than $10! Woohoo! Of course, you will need access to a color printer as well. It can be a home printer or one of those fancy office printers. Either will work. Oh, and you must have Microsoft Word.

So let’s get started!

Choose the number of dates template that suits your individual need:

4 Dates

5 Dates

6 Dates

Open your word document and personalize your dates!

First, click on the first set of numbers. An invisible box will surround the numbers (with white boxes around the edges). A “Word Art” box will appear as well. Click on “Edit Text” to type in the numbers of your date. Pay attention that there are spaces between the number sets. Keep these spaces there! This is where the little heart goes. Just highlight the first 2 numbers. Once a shaded box covers just those numbers, type in your numbers. Repeat with the other 2 sets of numbers. Repeat all of this for the remainder of the dates. Note: your hearts may be off-center now. Don’t worry, you will be able to fix that later.

Next, highlight the “Name & Saying”. It should now appear in a shaded box. Type in what you want to (a name or saying). This may make the words longer and they may then cover the squiggly design in the front and back of the words. Don’t worry about that, you can fix it later. See the purple arrow in the upper right corner? Choose the font color you want to match your decor. Right now it is a Colonial Red color. Repeat this with the rest of the “Name or Saying” in your design.

Now it’s time to fix the squigglies. Just click on the squiggly and an invisible box covers it. Although you can’t see it in the picture above, if you move your cursor over the center of that invisible box, your cursor should change into a 4 arrow design. This means you can move it. Hold down your cursor over the squiggly and move it to where it is just to the right or left of the name or saying. Do this to both sides. Make sure you have the 4 arrow cursor or you will only be changing the size of the squiggly. You don’t want to change the size so be careful. Also, you will see the Word Art box open and this is where you can also change the color of the squiggly. Again, it is currently a Colonial Red Color. To change the color, click on the paint bucket & paintbrush icon. A color palette will open that will allow you to choose  your own color.

Ok, time to fix the hearts. Depending on which numbers you use, the hearts may become uncentered (all letters and numbers are slightly different width sizes). To fix this, you click on the heart and you will see 4 little white boxes. Move your cursor over this and again your cursor should change shape into a 4 arrow design. Move your heart where you need to. Repeat with the remainder of the hearts. The hearts are a Navy Blue color. You can change the color of your heart by using the tool bar located at the bottom of your screen (see purple arrow). Click on the paint bucket and a color drop box will open. Choose the color you want. If you change the color, be sure to change the color of the other hearts to match.

I should add that if you change the “name and saying” color, you should change the color of “Day” at the bottom. To do this, use your cursor to highlight “Day”. Then just click on the font color icon in the upper right hand corner. Pick the same color you used for “name and saying”. Now check out your handy work. Is it spaced out evenly? Like the colors? Like the fonts? You certainly can change the fonts if you want. Get those creative juices flowing!

Load your textured cardstock into the printer (be sure the texture side is where it prints on). Print it. Center your cardstock in your mat. Frame it. Hang it. Pat yourself on your back because you just made the cutest Important Dates Original Artwork!

Ideas:

  • Would be a great gift to a friend with an established family. What I mean by “established” is that they aren’t expecting more kids. Of course, we weren’t expecting more and well, 12.5 years after our only child was born…we had our 2nd and last child, lol! Yes, same mom and dad, yes, both are our kids and no, we are not the grandparents (answering all questions that strangers ask with their eyes and body language when they see all of together, lol)!

  • Just do children’s birth dates and names for a single mom or dad.

  • Make one with just the grandkiddos’ birth dates for the grandparents.

  • This would make a great gift for a friend starting their own business. Pick important dates like: the day they were inspired to own their own business, the day they got their first business loan, the day they sold their first product, the day they reached 20 employees, etc.

Pumpkin Carving

Loving the crisp air and cool nights! I thought I’d share our pumpkin carvings from last Fall. It was a fabulous fall day and the whole family got into the Halloween spirit!

I thought I’d offer up some pumpkin carving tricks we have learned through the years. First off, invest in a good carving kit. The knives specially made for pumpkin carvings really cut through pumpkins like it is butter. Use a permanent marker to trace over your designs applying pressure so that the ink seeps through the paper onto the pumpkin. Make sure your pattern fits your pumpkin! You can increase or decrease the size of any pattern with your computer. Before tracing, tape the pattern to your pumpkin. Be sure to cut a hole large enough on top for your hand to fit in so that you can stand up a candle inside. Make sure that you cut your top out at an angle or the whole top will fall right through! Looking for patterns? Typing Pumpkin Carving Patterns in your search bar will give you many great websites where you can download patterns. Another great idea is to use coloring books made for preschoolers. The designs or simple and can easily be used as a pattern. I love using cheapo tea lights inside the pumpkin but for some funky fun, put a small glow stick into your pumpkin and you will have neon, bright lights shining through your carvings. I’ve read elsewhere that applying Vaseline or spraying the inside with a bleach/water mix can prolong the eventual molding that occurs once you cut a pumpkin. We will certainly give one of those a try this year. Afraid of knives like me? You can create fantastic designs without cutting all the way through. Our witch shoes pumpkin was made by just cutting away some of the pumpkin flesh in the stockings. I used push pins to attach the simple bow. I used glossy black acrylic paint to paint the stockings and shoes onto the pumpkin. Turned out really cute huh?! Have fun, pumpkin carving is a blast and no matter the pattern, a lit pumpkin always turns out perfect!

Looking for the Mickey Mouse pattern we used? Here it is!

Looking for the Elmo pattern we used? Here it is!

Looking for the Jack pattern (from The Nightmare Before Christmas)?

Here it is!

Happy Fall Y’all!

Fruit Flies Be Gone!

The best thing about summer is that fresh fruit is abundant! The worst part about summer, so are the fruit flies! Those tiny flying varmints wreak havoc so fast. You see one and then a half hour later you have dozen more. I think they mate, lay eggs and hatch all within minutes! They are so hard to get rid of so I turned to the source for all things true for a fix, Pinterest, lol. Pinterest had several ideas and we tried almost all of them without success. But, then we tried the Mason Jar trick and it worked, unfortunately, the directions weren’t very clear! I must have things really detailed, it’s just the nurse in me I guess, lol. So below are detailed instructions on how to create your Mason Jar Fruit Fly Trap.

Take an empty mason jar and fill it with about 1/2 inch of apple cider vinegar. Drop a ripe piece of banana into the jar. Take a piece of paper and make a funnel out of it. The small end needs to be no more than 1/2 inch wide and the wider end has to be wide enough that it touches the top edge of the mason jar. This takes several tries to get the right funnel shape. It works best if you roll your funnel in the landscape position (long side). Tape your funnel together on the outside and drop the small end into the jar. The small end should hover just above the piece of banana but does not touch it. Tape the funnel to the top of the jar (on the outside) creating a seal. Use several pieces of tape to accomplish this. This is hard to see since we used masking tape but look at the threads of the mason jar, you can see the tape that secures the funnel to the jar.

Put your mason jar fruit fly trap next to your fresh fruit. Then yell in your most evil voice, “Fruit Flies Be Gone!” Ok, you don’t have to yell but it makes me feel better, lol. The fruit flies all fly down and crawl into the jar but for whatever reason, can’t figure out how to get back out, lol. The try their darndest to get out by crawling up the outside of the funnel (which is still inside the jar) but because you taped the jar to the funnel, they are just stuck. After you have caught all the flies in sight. Take the jar outside, untape & remove the funnel and set the buggers free. This is not only an effective way to get rid of fruit flies but actually a very humane one.

I hope you have been able to avoid a fruit fly infestation but just in case you got one like we did (thanks to the over-ripe bananas) set this trap up and you will be pleased with the results. Will it get all of them on the first try? No. Don’t think so but it will get the majority. Once you have released the flies caught, set your trap up again. After a few days of repeating this process, those varmints should be gone. They were for us! Good luck!