Category Archives: Featured

The Lazy/Cheap DIY Ruler Height Chart

I’m lazy. And cheap. I like making stuff from stuff I have lying around, even though it’d turn out better if I went and bought nice new materials. Case in point, my legit new ruler height chart.


  1. The height charts I bought when my boys were babies only go up to 5.5 feet (and are decorated with cutesie planets and generic cartoon soccer balls).
  2. Fine when they were babies, but my 9 year old is already over 5 feet tall…
  3. I don’t want to put height marks on a random wall, because when you move… sniffle.

Solution: These super-cool giant rulers I see on Pinterest!

I can do that. What do I have? Oh, look… a big ole flat piece of plywood, saying ‘let me be your ruuuler.’ Perfect. Hey! Some white paint. Excellent. Let’s go.

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STEP ONE: Size. My plywood is already 10″ wide. (I’ve seen them 6″ up to 12″ wide, but IMHO, less than 6″ wouldn’t look sufficiently ruler-like.)How tall do I want this? Well, my husband and kids are freakishly tall, so I don’t want it to end before 6’6″.  My plan is to hang it 6″ off the floor, and have it end at 7’6″. I have high expectations, apparently. Measure twice, cut once!


STEP TWO: Smooth. Sanded it down to make it as smooth as possible. I think sanding actually makes plywood rougher. Oh well. (I’m cheap.) I also tried to round the edges a bit, to make it look klassy.

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STEP THREE: Clean. Not gonna lie, I used my leaf blower to get all the dust off. (I’m lazy.)

STEP FOUR: Paint! My can of Zinsser is all dried out. Boo. But my can of BEHR Premium Primer+Paint is ready to go. Yay! And these rollers are meant for “smooth surfaces.” Psht. Whatever. Don’t you love “helpers?” Here it is after like 6 coats (I kept thinking one more coat would make it look smoother). You don’t need that many.

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STEP FIVE: Sharpie. This part took longer than I thought. Anything you have to do with repeated precision over and over… ugh. (If you have thoughts on how I could have done this faster, I’m all ears.) Part of the problem was the uneven surface of the plywood.  And it ruined my sharpie. If I had a nice, smooth piece of hardwood, it would have been much easier. (Cheap/Lazy.) I keep telling myself it adds to the charm. I made the foot hashes and 6″ hashes a little longer than the little inch hashes, just a like a real ruler.

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STEP SIX: Numbering. THIS process was great. Found an American Typewriter font, typed 1-7, made the font as big as would fit on a sheet of paper, and printed it out. I don’t really want to cut all these out to trace them. (Lazy.) Don’t want to go buy mailbox numbers instead. (Cheap.)

But I found that if you roughly pencil the outline on the back of the paper, then flip it over to the front and trace it with a bit of pressure, you’re left with a very nice carbon copy (actually, graphite copy) to guide you! BLOODY BRILLIANT.


STEP SEVEN: Hang it. This thing is heavy, so it’ll need to go into a stud. I hate trying to put something with a claw hanger at the right height, because I don’t have XRAY vision (also, lazy), so I’m going to drill a nice lil hole two inches from the top and put a big ole nail in the wall. It still wasn’t easy getting it on the wall at the EXACT right height. There may be a few holes hidden behind there… sorry, honey.


I hung it at the top of the stairs.

There. Finished. Well, except for remarking all of my kids’ heights up til now. But I’ll just let it stay pristine for a while.



Here’s what I messed up on, so you don’t have to…

If I did it again:

  • I would use a smoother piece of wood (EVERYthing would have been easier)
  • I would use black paint and a precision brush instead of a Sharpie (because it looks a little dried out)
  • I would stain the wood a light brown instead of using paint. The paint seems to be a bit glossy, which looks nice, but the marker ink will sit on top of the paint and may smudge before it dries. (Buuuuut, cheap.)
  • Also, if you are right handed, start your marks on the left, and go from there, lest you feel the wrath of Sharpie smudges. (Um, we’ll file that under stoopid.)
  • Lay out the line for your numbers before you start putting them on there. Mine are a little crooked. (Lazy.)
  • Don’t try to hang it by yourself. Sooo glad no one was filming that for a reality show.

So, what do you think??







Create an Arts & Crafts Station

Ever feel like toy stores are just full of button-pushing toys that light up and make noise? I’d rather play with stuff from Michaels and Hobby Lobby, myself. My middle child is just the same. LOVES to color and glue and cut and paste the old fashioned way… as it should be. So when the opportunity presented itself (we moved his older brother out of this shared room and into his own room), I decided to give my little creative guy an Arts and Crafts Station!

I’m a little obsessed with the playroom environments I’ve seen on PlayAtHomeMom, where their (super-lucky!) kids are surrounded by opportunities to be creative through the Reggio Emilia Approach. So I created a mini-version!


Removal of the abovementioned older brother’s dresser and ladder to the upper bunk left a nice, open corner in my son’s room. I had most of these materials around my house, but this space needed:

  • Kid-sized table and chairs
  • 5″ or 6″ wide piece of wood for shelf (mine was leftover from another project)
  • L-brackets and screws
  • Ten plastic containers from the Dollar Tree
  • Various arty and crafty materials, also mostly from the Dollar Tree
  • Décor (guess where I got the frames… that’s right)

Tools needed:

  • Level
  • Power Drill
  • Power Screwdriver
  • Pencil
  • Stud Finder (My husband always jokes that I’ve got one built in. Har.)

First things first, measure your space and decide where everything will go. I had a 48″ piece of wood, which suited the size of my table nicely.

Once you’ve got a plan, use the level to mark where the shelf will go. Mine is about 15″ above the table top to make it easy to reach even when he’s sitting down.

Attach your L-brackets to the wall. Use a stud finder and drill into the studs, or use wall anchors in sheet rock. I used two brackets, but if your shelf is more than 3-4 feet long, I’d use three or more.


Set your wooden shelf on top of the brackets (double check that it’s level) and screw it on.

Next, fill all your little containers with fun, colorful doo-dads! Mine include pipe cleaners, googly eyes, pom poms, beads, feathers, clothes pins, etc. plus glue and scissors.

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I also put out his favorite markers and some glitter pens, plus crayons, color pencils and construction paper (not pictured).

On the walls, I knew I wanted something personal and colorful, so I searched for printables for my lil Beyblade-loving boy… there was an unsurprising shortage. So I made my own! I found pictures of his four favorite Beys, used Photoshop to make them black and white, erased the black parts and put the white leftovers on colorful backgrounds. I added their names in a cool white font and had them printed at Kinkos for 59 cents each. Dollar store document frames and viola! (I know it’s really voila, but it makes me chuckle, K?)

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Verdict: he LOVES it. He’s never been more content to play in his room, and the first thing he made was a thank you card for me (awww)! A big thanks to PAHM for inspiring my guy’s creative station!

Super Easy Kids Arts and Crafts Station

As always… here’s what I messed up on so you don’t have to!

  • Measure twice, cut once! (Or in my case, measure twice, do your math right and double-check it before banging nails into your wall to hang pictures.)
  • Lucky accident that my containers fit on that shelf so perfectly, because I didn’t measure them before I bought them.
  • Make sure you buy enough of each supply to make the container look kinda full. I ended up going back for another pack of googly eyes and beads to fill them up more.

(Should anyone ever actually want to use my Beyblade decor, feel free… here they are.)



Thanks for reading my blog!!

The $19 Playroom Tent

Why do kids love forts so much? It’s a mystery to me, but every time we pulled out our little pop-up tent, you’d think I’d brought Disney World home. Those tents were flimsy though, and we didn’t really have good fort-making structures up there.

So I started thinking… what could we create that (a) had enough space for growing boys, (b) could be set up and taken down easily, and (c) wasn’t going to require a lot of room to store.

OK, enough chit chat. Let’s get down to it.

STEP ONE: Measure your space
My tent is 4’x8′. I kept it to multiples of four, because I figured that would make it easier, math-wise. (It was also the approximate size of my futon when unfolded!) Once you’ve planned out your space, you’ll know how much of everything you’ll need.

STEP TWO: Gather your materials
I used:
– Three 4’x9′ pieces of fabric from the fabric store ($18 of my $19). Any lightweight fabric would work. Old twin sheets would be perfect.
– Three small eye hooks and some picture-hanging wire I already had.
– A set of 6 white plastic clamps from the dollar store. (See below as to why this was a poor decision.) Tadaa, we’re at $19.

STEP THREE: Measure and install your eye hooks
My tent is eight feet long and four feet wide. So I installed my eye hooks accordingly, as close to the ceiling (or sloped ceiling) as possible. And it’s only leaving three tiny holes in my wall, that’s it!

STEP FOUR: Hang your wire
All we did was attach the wire to the first eye hook, string it through the second one, and attach it to the first one again. (I could have run it to the third one too, but I didn’t wanna run it down the sloped wall.) This is the one in the ceiling by the fan:

STEP FIVE: Hang your fabric
I draped two panels (side-by-side) over the wire, with a few inches hanging over on the inside, and put a clamp on it every foot or so. (Small strand of twinkly lights – optional.)

The fabric for the front of the tent gets attached to the last clamp on the ceiling wire, and then clamped to the eye hook in the side wall:

Bonus: it works like a shower curtain, so I just pull it back, put it into this tote, and put it on the top shelf when they’re done.

Now for the fun part… here’s what I screwed up on so you don’t have to!
1- Use longer eye hooks. (^^^ “Screwed” up on – ha.) I used little ones, like maybe an inch long. Use heavier-duty ones.
2- DO NOT BUY the white plastic “clamps” from the dollar store. They are barely strong enough to use as chip clips.
Instead, I used these heavier-duty clips that I already had (the rounded shape of which makes the “shower curtain effect” even smoother).
3- Make sure you really observe your space… is there an AC vent? A light? An attic door? Ahem, a ceiling fan??? All these might impact your space’s tentability.

And the finished product:

Sorry I don’t have a “before” shot, but here’s something that made me chuckle…

So, I went through a phase when I thought brighter was better. I dubbed this color Radioactive Guacamole. Thankfully, we came to our senses, added some built-ins and went with the lovely taupe-ish/gray we have now.

And my Christmas Mommy Win – I took a picture of my kids asleep in their new tent and “added” a Santa taking a selfie (Photoshop). My kids FREAKED out on Christmas morning over this. “Why didn’t he wake us uuuuup?”
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I hope you’ve enjoyed the $19 Playroom Tent. Happy building!

Dos and Don’ts for the Engineering Print

**Update** Staples no longer offers these prints. It was fun while it lasted. They still offer a variety of larger prints, but gone are the days of the four-foot long b&w prints for seven bucks. Got any other photo printing hacks? Let me know in the comments!


This idea isn’t new, but since it’s a part of my backpack wall post, I figured I’d post a how-to. And since I made so many mistakes on my first try, Dos and Don’ts seemed like the logical way to show you.

Engineering prints are available from Staples online or in the store (it says “not suitable for photographs” …sorry, Staples, we’re going to do it anyway). They come in three sizes: 48×36, 36×24 and 24×18. Most digital pictures are big enough for these, if they were taken on a camera. Phone pictures, prolly not. (The one on my backpack wall is a 48×36, and it’s MASSIVE. DO: Measure your space first, bigger isn’t always better. So I’m ordering a new one in 36×24, which is still plenty big.)


Back to my first effort… when I got my print back after a few days, I was so excited to get it on the wall. First, I noticed blank space at the top and bottom of the print. No problem, I just cut it down. Then I noticed smudges on the ink, probably from handling it right after it was printed. Not a big deal, they’re hardly noticeable, but I was careful with how I handled it after that.


See the smudges on his black shirt? ^^^ DON’T rub the ink.

I followed the instructions for mounting it, which said buy a sheet of foam insulation from Home Depot for a few dollars, cut it down to size and use a spray adhesive. It was going really well, too, until I tried to cut the Styrofoam sheet. Have you ever attempted to cut ANYthing made of Styrofoam? Instant snowstorm… billions of weightless, static-charged flakes. Everywhere. Not ever doing that again. DON’T DON’T DON’T.


I didn’t get a picture of that happy time, but it looked nothing like that.

(THIS time, I will spend a few more dollars for some nice, flat foam core. Still no holiday to cut it straight, but I won’t be up to my ankles in rug dandruff like last time.)

Next, the instructions said to paint the sides of the Styrofoam black, since it will be visible on the side. Um, that’d be fine if the edges were smooth, or straight, or remotely ready for public consumption. Not the case. So I had an idea. Black duct tape. I’ll tape a frame around the edges of my picture. Easier said than done. It would be a Pinterest fail if anyone else was dumb enough to think that would turn out well. But at least it’s passable. Or as Cher would say, it’s a full-on Monet.


It seemed like a good idea at the time. DON’T assume you will be able to apply duct tape in a straight line.

Since it was so lightweight (and I was tired from all the rug dandruff et al), instead of mounting it on the wall, I just let it set on my 3″ wide shelf. What I didn’t think about was that a not-even-stiff breeze would knock it right off, and that’s how we ended up with a nice tear in it, right across his lil collar. DON’T be lazy – secure it to the wall.


But in this picture, you can see how clear the image is, even blown up to that size. If you took the picture you want to use on a camera, and that camera’s image size is not set to small, you should be ok.

I’ll let you know how my next one turns out.

The sad, sad little coffee table

Once upon a time, there was a sad, sad little coffee table with a broken knob sitting in the back of a going-out-of-business furniture warehouse on the side of the highway. It was all alone, collecting dust with a $100 price tag (what?). And it was orange and ugly, but wait… solid wood… nice lines. I like the plank style of the top. And the turned legs. Hm. “Would you take $20 for it?” (It didn’t hurt that I was also buying $600 worth of couches.)

Truth be told, I didn’t know what to do with it. But I had heard about this new “glazing” technique that everybloggy’s talking about, so I thought I’d give that a try…

(Forgive me for not documenting the journey, but it wouldn’t have helped much!)

I roughed it up with some sandpaper, and painted it with some white interior paint I already had. The glazing technique I got from here. I decided I wanted BLACK, but after mixing in the glaze, it was grey. Ok, that’s fine.


I tried to follow her instructions, but when I wiped the “excess” off… all of it came off. So I ended up just leaving it on there, just the way the brush laid it. The glaze was pretty easy to “massage” until I got it the way I wanted. And if I didn’t like it, I just wiped it off and started fresh. It was pretty easy (and VERY forgiving!).


When it dried, I finished with some wipe-on poly and added some lil black knobs, and viola! $20 coffee table, meet the inside of my house.

I like the way the glaze accentuates the crevices. (Crevices is fun to say, I’m going to use it more.)


The Backpack Wall

My children’s brains: enter house, drop wet backpack in entryway, proceed to fridge, what even is a homework

**Now updated with a helpful-ish supply list and step-by-step… uh… steps**

I was perusing Pinterest for the meaning of life, aka storage and organization ideas, and/or survival tips for raising three boys. No luck there, but I did find this.

Once my wheels were turning (my husband LOVES it when that happens*), I realized that the corner between my kitchen and family room was four feet of empty, wasted space.

*he does not love it

I sketched out a design with graph paper and *mumbles under breath* PowerPoint, taking into account my number of offspring and that stupid outlet. (Whoever thought those bin shelves would be [a] useful or [b] attractive was incorrect.) (That’s me, I was incorrect.)

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Here are the supplies I needed:

  • About 2 days, coffee, snacks and a helpful and patient life partner (optional, but highly recommended)
  • 1×6″ wood planks (mine used five pieces cut to 48″ long)
  • 1×3″ wood pieces (about 60″ worth was used for the 4 vertical dividers and another 60″ across the the top as a shelf)
  • Hooks with accompanying screws (I used 3 hooks)
  • Screwdriver and screws (they should be long enough to get through your wood, 1/2″ of drywall and into a stud)
  • Drill and countersink bit for pilot holes
  • Wood putty, putty knife, sandpaper
  • Paint and various accompanying painty stuffs
  • Basic tools like a level, measuring tape, stud finder, etc.
  • (And he used a li’l oscillating saw to cut the base molding and quarter round from the wall)


–> Next, here’s how we built it –>