My 3 Monsters: July 2012

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{Mama's Got a Brand New Bag}

True story:  I am the president of our church congregation's organization for teenage girls, or Young Women.  I carry what feels like 30 pounds of notebooks, teaching manuals, scriptures, and sundries around in my "church bag" every single Sunday during our 3 hour block of meetings.  I go through a lot of tote bags.  I'm pretty hard on them.

It was time again to get a new tote bag {by get, I mean make, but you already knew that, right?}, but this time I wanted to get something a little bit special.  I made a smaller ruffly book bag for my 16 year-old niece for Christmas and fell in love with it.  In fact, I almost didn't give it to her, but shhhhhh!  Don't tell her that.

If you're on Pinterest, like, at all, you've no doubt seen bags like this all over.  They're pretty simple to make and you can get everything you need from your local craft store for less than $15 -- way less if you have coupons.

You will need:
  • a pre-made canvas tote bag
  • 1/2 yard each of four different fabrics  {mix and match for fun -- or buy a bunch from the same line that are meant to coordinate.  I like a less matchy look.  I tell my kids,  "Things don't have to match.  They have to go together."  There's a difference.  Yeah, I have gray and brown and four different lines of fabric going on here.  It's my bag and I like the way it goes.}
  • ribbon and embellishments {that adorable owl was only $2.50 on sale at Hobby Lobby!}
  • hot glue gun and/or sewing machine

Step 1:  Prepare your ruffles.

Cut each fabric into 3 or 4 strips, approximately 3 inches wide.  Save the extra fabric for embellishing later.  Sew the strips of each fabric end to end until you have a very long 3 inch wide strip of each pattern.  You can leave the edges raw for a cute, scrappy look, or make a narrow turned hem down each long side of the strips for a more finished look.  I opted to meet both ideas right in the middle and zig zag stitch down the long edges.

Then gather each long strip on one side.  My favorite way to make ruffles is to set the stitch length on my machine to the longest setting and crank up the tension as high as it will go.  When you run the fabric through your machine, it gathers right up.  Make sure to change the settings back when you're done or you'll be sad.

Step 2:  Attach your ruffles to the bag.

Pin your bottom ruffle to the canvas bag so that the bottom edge of the ruffle sits about 1/4 inch above the bottom edge of the bag when it is opened as if it were full.  Sew the ruffle to the bag.  It gets a little tricky getting the bag to fit through the sewing machine, especially on this first row.  Just keep wrestling with it.  Each additional row gets easier to work with and the stitching will be covered up by the next ruffle so it doesn't have to be perfect.

Do the same for each additional row of ruffles, making sure that the bottom of the new row overlaps the previous row by about 1&1/2 inches.

For a no sew version, you could take your long strips of unruffled fabric and hot glue them directly to the canvas bag, bunching it up to create a gathered effect as you go. 

Step 3:  Embellish it up.

Use your excess fabric and ribbon to create rolled rosettes and bows.  Whatever your heart desires, just hot glue it right onto the bag.  I found the adorable owl pendant for cheap so I decided to tie a bow through the bail and glue that on, too.  You could stencil or iron-on a cute saying or name.  For my niece's bag I put "I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie" because she's a huge Sir Mix-a-Lot fan.  Just kidding, she likes to read.

I adore my new bag!  Sunday can't come soon enough so I can show it off to all my girlies.

Hope you're having a great weekend, friends!

Lil\'LunaThe 36th AVENUE


The Much Awaited, Highly Anticipated Bathroom Reveal

It's the BIG DAY!!You can finally see what I've been working on for the past month or so.

I'm a total dork and didn't take any before shots, so you can't see how much better it looks.  You'll just have to trust me -- it looks a LOT better.  I took down the giant builder's grade mirror that covered the entire wall on the vanity side of the bathroom and replaced it with this cute turquoise one.

While I was in demolition mode, I also took out the recessed medicine chest from that wall on the right of the new mirror.  It was easier than I thought it would be, really,  I just undid a couple of screws, cut around the edges with a utility knife to release the many layers of old paint and caulk sealing it in there, then drywalled up the hole.  It only took a couple of hours, not counting drying time.

I took out the builder's grade Hollywood light fixture and replaced it with my Tatertots & Jello inspired beaded chandelier.  {It's hard to take a picture of a chandelier when it's the only light source in the room, y'all.}  

The next step in the makeover process was painting the gray and white stripes.  I LOVE the cool, clean graphic look of it.  My favorite thing to make a room home-y is to mix a lot of colors and patterns.  Obviously bathrooms don't have a lot of fabric in them, so I had to use the paint treatment on the walls to add another layer of pattern in there.  My stripes are 12 inches wide, but they can be as wide or as narrow as you like.

Once all the background finishes were done, it was time to add the fun stuff!  I found these awesome chicken wire baskets at World Market and hung them on the wall using picture hanging hooks.  There is one for each kid to store their hair gel, combs, deoderant, and other personal effects.  It makes up for the {minimal and hardly ever used} storage we lost by removing the medicine cabinet.

I sewed the shower curtain myself from some fabric I found at JoAnn's a while back.  It's just a big rectangle of fabric, hemmed on all 4 edges, and hung using curtain clips.  I took the old plastic shower curtain and clipped it up behind the fabric to keep things waterproof.

I loved this idea from Pinterest for storing toothbrushes and toothpaste.  It's just mason jars and metal straps from the hardware store.  I think I paid about $1 for all 3 straps.  I'm not gonna' lie, this was probably the most difficult thing I did in this bathroom.  After drilling holes in the wall and hammering in drywall anchors, I tried to drill pilot holes in the metal straps for the screws to go through.  Then I broke some drill bits.  Then I cut my finger.  Then I fashioned a bandaid out of painter's tape because my kids had used all of the real ones. Then I tried to hammer a hole in them.  Then I cursed mildly and cried.  But EVENTUALLY I got those gosh-darn screws in there and I LOVE them.  It might be my favorite part of the room.

I love this metal bird towel rack that I found at Hobby Lobby {half-price, baby}.  I wanted to mount it on the back of the door to free up a whole wall for my art gallery wall.  You can pick up special anchors at the hardware store that allow you to mount heavier stuff on hollow core doors.  Who knew?!  I got a great deal on the gray and cream damask towels from World Market.  I was trying to walk a fine line between goofy and grown-up in this room.  The towels, shower curtain, and chandelier add a little bit of sophistication to the otherwise funky items.  I, for one, like how it turned out.

My FAVORITE part of this room is the Gallery Wall of Randomness.  I've shared tutorials for just about everything.  Here's what it looks like all put together:

Image Map

Click on each item in the picture above to be taken to the post I wrote about it.  {That empty spot underneath the spoon wreath will soon be filled.  I still need to frame the picture that goes there. Here are a few close-ups of my favorite parts:

That "man on a ledge" was an impulse buy in the check out line at Hobby Lobby.  I like the little pose-able mannekin so I took him home and stuck his head and booty to the opening of that small frame with E6000 glue.  His arms and legs are still completely pose-able. 

The moose hook is another silly little thing that just makes me smile.  The hubs doesn't "get it", he says.  There's nothing to get.  It's just random, yo.

I think this folding ruler makes a pretty cool frame.  Random.  Whatever.  The Gallery Wall of Randomness adds a fun pop of color and whimsy to what could have been a more "serious" room.  It really suits our family's personality.

One of my biggest pet peeves about gallery walls is when the pictures are crooked.  It looks dumpy.  This is {clearly} a pretty small room so there is a lot of potential for things to get crooked.  I hung almost everything with Command Adhesive picture hanging strips.  They're like velcro and they remove cleanly from the wall when you want to move something -- no holes to patch!  I put a picture hanging "velcro" strip on each corner of each item so they are held firmly in place.  And level.  Yay!  It's more expensive than nails, but worth it if you're doing any kind of multiple picture display.

So there you have it!  My kids' bathroom is D.O.N.E. done.  Hip, hip, hooray!  The best part is how much my kids love it.  They were so excited to see every single thing as it went in.  I love those little punks.  They're worth a month of my blood, sweat, and tears.  Literally.  Thanks for stopping by to check it all out.  Have a great weekend!

The 36th AVENUE

3 Dimensional String Monograms

Here's one more quick project I did for the gallery wall in my kids' bathroom.  It couldn't be any easier or have a bigger impact.  I saw this on Pinterest a looong time ago and made a mental note to use the idea someday:

JK JK has a great tutorial, but I think it's pretty self-explanatory.   I used a font called Varsity to make my templates and printed my letters out so they were about 6 inches tall.  Tape the tempalte on your wall where you want it and hammer a nail into the wall at every corner of the letter template.  While this project is simple, it is not for the faint of heart.  It just about killed me to drive 30 or so nails into my freshly patched and painted wall, but it was worth it in the end.  Once all your nails are in place, carefully remove the paper template.  Tie your string to one of the nails, then wrap it around the outline of the letter 5 or 6 times and tie it off at the end.  

I like the pop of color they add and the play of shadows on the wall.  It's also a nice touch to personalize the room -- I did one for each of my kids.

I used some yarn that I found at Hobby Lobby, but you could use embroidery floss or ribbon or anything else that strikes your fancy.  

On a completely unrelated side-note, I've been laughing about the label from that yarn all week.  Sometimes things just leave you scratching your head in confusion.

First of all, I think it goes without saying that you should NOT stuff a sock monkey with yams or other "vegitables".  Right?  Right?!  Is this a thing?  This stuffing of children's knit toys with yams?  Really?  I'd like to spell things out a little more. You should also NOT stuff your sock monkey with:  nails, mayonnaise, used chewing gum, firecrackers, and/or shards of glass.  Just sayin'.

THEN, step one of the instructions:  Knit a pair of socks.  

Really?!  Am I really the only one who doesn't knit socks any more?  Even if I did knit, I don't think I could whip out a pair of socks without a little more guidance than that.  Come on, yarn makers.  Help a girl out!

If my kids get their hearts set on having a sock monkey after seeing this, I'm going to have to craft up some "My Mom Bought Sock Monkey Yarn and All I Got Was This Stupid Monogram" t-shirts for them.  {If I do, you know you'll read about it here!}

I'll be posting the "After" shots of the kids' bathroom later today so please come back.  Have a great weekend!



Tongue-in-Cheek Hand Towels

The kids' bathroom is done!!  I'll share the whole enchilada with you as soon as I get all the photos edited.  I know . . . you can hardly wait.  Here's a quick project I threw together on a whim that really adds a custom touch.  I wanted this bathroom to have a little bit of a sense of humor, because that just suits my children, but the idea could be adapted to any bathroom or kitchen to add a little bit of your own personality.

I found some cool linen dish towels at Ross last week -- I think they cost $2 for the set of three towels.  They were the perfect yellow for the room, but the striped pattern was just . . . so plain.  I decided to use my Photo-Transfer Mod Podge again to add a funny little graphic to each one.  I spent about ten minutes whipping up these designs in Gimp:

The mermaid one is kind of a family joke from my husband's childhood.  They both just make me {and more importantly, my kids} smile.  I was really impressed with how the Photo-Transfer Mod Podge worked on fabric.  They still have a little rough-around-the-edges look to them, but I like it.  It's a nice {really easy} alternative to freezer paper stenciling and seems much more durable than iron-on papers I have used in the past.  

I added those handles to the faux drawer fronts in there specifically to hold hand towels so I wouldn't have to clutter up the wall or counter top with a towel holder.  They have the added benefit of holding the towels pretty firmly so maybe, just maybe, the hand towels won't constantly be on the floor.  You can kind-of get a sneak peek at the finished bathroom from that bottom picture.  There's actually a lot more color in the room than that picture would lead you to believe, however.  I can't wait to show you . . .  Come back soon, my friends!

The 36th AVENUE


More on Chores

One of the most interesting things {to me} about visiting my adult siblings is seeing how their households run.  I thought I was pretty good about keeping my kids busy with helping out around the house.  Who am I kidding?  I have always been mediocre at best, but my older sister, Jennie, is a master at it.  First off, I have to tell you that her home is spotless.  I'm not really sure how she does it, even after staying there for several days.  My little family must just be messier than most.  Whatevs. 

One of her keys to success is that her kids do chores.  Not just "do chores" . . . my kids "do chores", in that they kind-of pick up their stuff as long as I'm hovering over them, pointing out every single task that must be done, nagging well into the afternoon.  Jennie's kids DO CHORES, in that they just know what needs to be done and act with minimal prodding and supervision.  I'm sure it has taken years of consistent effort to get them to this point.  I was a little in awe the evening that all the kids ran straight out after dinner and hopped in the pool, but her youngest stayed behind to load the dishwasher and help clean up.  Because it was his day to do that.  No tears.  No whining.  Just got right to work, got it done, and was swimming before any of the cousins noticed he had been missing.


That scene would have played out differently at my house.

She also has them each cook dinner one night a week.  They choose what they want to make, she talks them through anything they're unsure of how to do, and then they do it!  My 10 year old nephew made spaghetti and meatballs for all 12 of us while she and her husband loaded the car for the St. George leg of our trip.  The night before that, my 12 year old niece made a delightful taco salad bar.  It was quite impressive.

So, I came home from vacation with a slew of thoughts and ideas.  Too often I let me kids off the hook and do some things for them because it's just easier.  I hate to hear whining.  Plus, I'm a faster {and cleaner} cook than any of them so I just always cook dinner.  Especially when we have company.  But what am I teaching my kids by doing that?  A big buncha' nothing, that's what.  Here's the kicker:  my kids like to cook!  I don't really like to cook, but my kids do.  When I suggested that we try following their cousins' example, they were T.H.R.I.L.L.E.D.  No joke.  And they've done a great job this week.  Taco salad, chicken sandwiches, fettuccine alfredo {from scratch!} -- all delicious.  How great will it be when they go off to college {I could just end that sentence right there, but I won't} and know how to cook dinner?!  And not just ramen and mac-n-cheese.  Real, delicious food.  Yay kids!  And, because everything is more fun with a cute chart, I made a cute chart.

Each kid can choose the day they want to cook each week based on their personal schedules, first come, first served.

We're also going to try doing our own laundry, too.  That's going to be a little more tricky because I don't even really have a handle on the laundry myself, but maybe with all five of us involved we can finally tackle it.  I'm hopeful . . . 

Here's another cute chart.

You can use these charts, too, if you'd like. Just click the image to enlarge, then right click and save to your computer.  I'm going to print them out, frame 'em and hang 'em on the door to our garage.  {Our garage door is in the kitchen and the laundry is in the garage.  In Arizona.  Who planned that?  I have some choice words for that person.}  Then we can use a dry erase marker to assign each person a laundry day each week.

I vow to be better {ahem, more consistent} in teaching my children these important life skills.  With school starting in two weeks and our return to a more structured schedule, there's no time like the present, right?!  Do you have any brilliant ideas that you use to keep your kids on track chore-wise?  I'm always looking for tips.
Lil\'LunaThe 36th AVENUE


{Summer Coffee Table Decor with AstroBrights Paper}

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Astrobrights Papers by Neenah Paper for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
I've been suffering from major bathroom re-do "tunnel vision" for the past little while!  What?  You noticed?  I apologize most sincerely.  Well, today I'm taking a break and doing something different.  With August a few short days away,  I thought it was probably high time I put away the patriotic decor and brought out something new.  The next major decorating holiday is Halloween {too far away} so I needed to come up with something bright, fun, and non-holiday specific in the mean time.
You're probably already familiar with Astrobrights papers.  They come in 23 bright colors so they're perfect for grabbing attention.  AstroBrights Paper is all about creativity and getting your ideas noticed. I really like the AstroBrights color pallet -- it's so crisp and cheerful, which is exactly what I was looking for.
How cute and fun are those?!  They're perfect because they're low committment -- easy to make and inexpensive!  Print out the pdf templates for the medium-sized balls onto some of your favorite Astrobrights cardstock.  Then you just have to cut out the flower shapes and slide the slits together.  Quick and easy -- just my kind of crafting.
I love the petal-y, flowery look they have.  It kind of reminds me of a modern sculpture of a hydrangea.  I think the bright ones look adorable in my white bowl on the coffee table for summer, but you could also make them out of Stardust White paper {love the AstroBrights names} and spray them with clear glitter for winter.  Ooooh . . . that would be cute hanging on my Christmas tree . . .
Anyway, back to the topic at hand.
Astrobrights is sponsoring the "Give a Brighter Year" Sweepstakes.    You can enter to win a cash prize and school supplies worth $30,000 for the elementary school of your choice.  This exciting campaign is going on now and will run through September 10, 2012.    Simply “like” AstroBrights Facebook page and submit a short online form to be entered into the sweepstakes.  You can then earn additional entries every week by revisiting the page and answering a few simple questions.  How much would your kid's school love you if you won that for them?! 
While you're there, enter the "Make Something AstroBright" design challenges, too.  Submit and share your family's creations {like these fun 3D paper flower balls} for a chance to win AstroBrights papers and other great prizes. Unleash your creativity and you could be a big winner!  Check out AstroBrights on Facebook for more details!

Have a great week, friends!  I have a bunch of fun projects on deck so keep checking in.
Visit Sponsor's Site 


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