Category Archives: How To

How To Create Gratitude Board

Ben sent me the link to this touching video which caused me to sob like a baby in the middle of Starbucks. Grab a kleenex and enjoy!


I loved the ‘Board of Gratefulness’ that Ian and Larissa created as a daily reminder to be grateful. My wheels started spinning. The stager in me wanted to use something that we already had instead of buying something new.
I’ve been wanting to do something with this piece for awhile now. We got it at Pottery Barn Outlet a long time ago. I love the size, but it lacked purpose.
I knew we needed cork board to make our pins stick. Due to the size, we opted for roll-out instead of the thick squares. Ben cut it to size and I grabbed duct tape to hold it all together. Then I wrapped it all in burlap to add texture.
It was curling up at the edges quite a bit so, instead of stacking books on top, we threw it under our memory foam mattress. Ben said it was like carrying 18 dead bodies when he and a friend moved it in, so we figured that would do the trick!
Here’s a close-up of my very professional duct tape job. I didn’t want that baby going anywhere, so I put loops of tape to secure it to the back board.
We printed off a quote by Thornton Wilder which says, “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” I loved it, but it was definitely lacking some style.
Nothing that a trip to Michaels can’t fix! There were too many options to choose from, so I decided to bring all my favorites home to test out.
These were the first ones I ruled out. They were too simple and uniform.
I didn’t like these buttons as much as I thought I would. Not enough “wow”.
I absolutely loved the different tints and shapes of these guys.
These were also a winner. The pops of color had me at hello. In the midst of all this, I decided to change the quote paper from green to an airy yellow.
I tacked up more of my two favorites and decided to let you all decide!

When it was all said and done, I spent about $15 on this project between the cork board, burlap and craft supplies. The joy this will bring having everyone who visits our home fill out a grateful note and doing it ourselves will be priceless!

So what do y’all think? Who else owns an 18-dead-body mattress? Any other gratitude board ideas out there?

How To Make Road Trips Fun

Since the holidays are upon us and I’m plum out of decorating ideas, I thought I’d go in a different direction today. We live 500 miles from Ben’s fam in OK and 300 miles from my fam in MO, so we’re expert road trippers! Cali is not on drugs in the pic below, she was just having a bad hair day:)
We discussed some of our favorite adventures over lunch today which included a trip to Dallas when we were in college for a Tom Petty concert (we somehow fit 6 people in my Bonneville), a trip to Colorado during our first year of marriage and a trip to Chicago after we moved to Memphis. Oh, and we can’t leave out our infamous 5-hr. Arkansas Taco Bueno trip just so we could listen to Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years audio book. Good times!
1. Don’t take the trip too seriously. I know that the goal of most long road trips is simply to get to your destination, but don’t forget to have some fun along the way! We usually download a new album we haven’t heard and listen to it several times on that trip. I will forever think of the mountains of CO whenever I hear a song from John Mayer’s Room for Squares.
2. Stretch your legs (or entire body like Cali). We have our favorite stops that we look forward to stopping at along the way like Taco Bueno, Braum’s and Dairy Queen. I also discovered the only Starbucks between Memphis and Springfield in Jonesboro inside of a Target recently – bonus!
3. You and me and five bucks. “You see, Lainie, this is all we need… a couple of smokes, a cup of coffee… And a little bit of conversation. You and me and five bucks.” One of my favorite lines from Reality Bites. Good road trip snacks include Twizzlers (they really do make mouths happy and are great for impromptu drum solos), Chex mix and gummy worms.

There’s also something about being stuck within the confines of a car with someone. Early in our marriage, we used to drive around aimlessly when making big life decisions. We continue to have some of the BEST conversations while on the road about life, crazy ideas and how nuts interesting our families are.

Who else can beat 17 hrs. and 1,000+ miles on the road over Thanksgiving? What are your favorite road trip pit stops? Any new album suggestions?

How To Start a Habit

Anyone who knows my husband knows that when he stumbles upon an idea or concept he likes, he goes for it! His newest craze is starting new habits. He’s been bugging me to read this book about it, but everything I’ve learned so far has been just from listening to him and watching him in action.
Recently, Ben challenged us both to choose 1 new habit we’d like to start. He decided to pull out the big guns and stop pressing the snooze button in the mornings. This is a HUGE change for us since we are chronic snoozers. Now, when the alarm goes off he gets up, says “I Win!” and drinks a glass of water.
My new habit is to do my killer Jillian work-out video once a week. Why only once a week? Well, it helps to start a habit by making an attainable goal that is too easy NOT to do. Ideally, I’d like to be doing the video 3-5 times a week or even sign on for the 30-day challenge, but those goals might set me up to fail.
Oh, and we also decided to start a new habit that we could do together – save enough money to pad our savings AND to go on a trip to Europe (squeal)!

First, we had to come up with our why. This is important and needs to have an impact on your life. Then we came up with 5 habits that we could start which would help us accomplish our goal – whew! Finally, we had to commit to documenting our progress daily. This is not for the fainthearted.

Our individual habits will conclude in a month and our joint habit will take several months, but I’ll keep you updated on our progress. Ben’s reward is a nice seafood dinner and mine is a smokin’ hot, toned body. Click here to check out the book and here for the website where you can get the free goal template that we’re using. What habit would you like to start in your life?

Snooze image found here and 30 Day Shred image found here.

How To Reupholster Dining Room Chairs

Remember how we recently got a new dining set? After living with 2 dining sets in our front room for a couple of weeks, we were able to sell our old set to a friend AND reupholster the chairs on the new set! My dad used to work in an upholstery shop and offered to help me when they came to visit this weekend.
This is what the chairs looked like before. I liked that they were neutral, but that spongy green material just wasn’t doing it for me. We went on a field trip to Hancock Fabrics Sat morning (Ben opted to mow the yard mumbling something about losing his man card if he was caught in a fabric store).
I narrowed it down to 3 fabrics, and a clear winner emerged from those. They were having a huge blowout sale, so I was able to get $19.99/yd fabric for 54% off. $20 for the 2 yds we needed and $3 for 1/4″ staples (we had a staple gun) – $23 for a new-looking dining set was music to my ears Ben’s budget!
We laid down an old quilt to protect the table and went to work. Look, it’s a rare pic of me actually helping with a project! We cut the fabric into 6 even sections, laid the cushion in the middle and turned it over to make sure it looked ok.
You want to pull the fabric tight, but not so much that it bunches the old fabric up and creates wrinkles. Dad was a rockstar on pleating the corners – it’s a trial and error thing. We had a pair of pliers handy to take out staples and he would cut the corner fabric at a diagonal in order for it to lay down correctly.
And here’s the fantastic before and after shot! I wanted a neutral fabric that would go with everything, but with a pattern that would add a modern flair. The fabric I choose ended up being 100% polyester even though a blend might hold up better. We opted not to spray them with Scotchgard because of the chemicals.
I absolutely love how they turned out! I liked the dark wood look of the set from the beginning, but with the reupholstered cushions it’s definitely a reflection of my style. A HUGE thank you goes out to my dad who did most of the work (mom and I may have gone to Garden Ridge while he finished them up)!

So is it a winner? Anyone else transform your home recently using bird fabric? What weekend projects have you tackled (feel free to leave your link)?

How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets

That’s right, we finally climbed our Mt. Everest house project and painted the kitchen cabinets this weekend! We were both terrified of tackling this for some reason – it just seemed like SO much work and we were afraid of messing up.
Here’s a rundown of the products we used: Kilz Clean Start zero-VOC primer, Benjamin Moore Natura zero-VOC paint (color Paris Rain), spackle, brush, hand sanders and mask, a 6″ roller and trays, Quali-Tech Ultra Smooth High Density Foam rollers (not pictured), paint can lip and a metal comb brush cleaner.
Ben decided that it was silly that we hadn’t painted the cabinets yet, so Friday after work he took the old cabinet doors in the backyard and lightly sanded them (since it’s possibly they had a layer of lead paint). Next, we laid cardboard down in the guest bedroom with the cabinets propped up by books underneath.
We used the 6″ roller EVERYWHERE we could and a 2″ short-handled angle brush ($5 at Sherwin Williams) for the nooks and crannies. I promise that I was 50% of the painting muscle – I just forget to jump in the pics! Sure, we probably should have taped off the inside of the cabinets and backs of the new cabinet doors, but we winged it by having a damp paper towel handy.
Here you can see what a thin coat of primer looks like. You aren’t trying to get full coverage since the point of primer is to create a sticky surface for the paint to adhere to. Ben lightly sanded down the base of the cabinets as well.
The old cabinet doors were cream colored (like the bottom 2 left doors). I couldn’t believe how much better they looked just after the primer! Both the primer and paint said you could recoat after 1 hr, so by the time we finished the coat of primer, it was time for the first coat of paint!
We read that it’s good to get the first coat of paint on as soon as the primer dries so that it will stick better. We finished the primer and first coat Fri night and after a morning walk with Cali, knocked out the second coat Sat morning. These paper boxes really came in handy for the drawers and toe kick!
Just look at those beauties waiting to be hung! We somehow found floor space in the 2 back bedrooms for all the cabinet doors, but yeah they’re everywhere. We considered painting them in the carport, but we used zero-VOC products and would have had to move them inside eventually anyway to dry.
The bottom cabinet doors that were originally natural wood still showed the wood grain after 2 coats of paint, but we decided that we liked the look and opted not to do a third coat.
This gives you a good idea of what the base cabinets look like after everything. I love how the countertop even has speckles of the light green color!
We opted not to paint the insides of the cabinets even though we had previously painted them that mustard yellow. I actually think the colors compliment each other and you’ll only see it when you open the doors anyway. We experimented painting the small molding around the cabinets white, but it looked weird.
I can’t explain to you how great it already looks even before rehanging the doors! This neutral kitchen needed a splash of color (even muted green) and it’s all coming together. You also get a sneak peak of the new bamboo window treatments I got – I absolutely love the texture they add to the room.

Now, in the words of Tom Petty, the waiting is the hardest part. We’re doing things right this time and are waiting a full 5 days to rehang the doors. When it was all said and done, we spent about 8 hrs. with both of us working non-stop on this project. Friday will be the big, highly anticipated kitchen reveal!

Fixin’ a Fence

My man decided to fix our fence this week when the heat index was around 115 degrees every day! He said something about needing to do some hard labor after being at his cozy desk job. Yep, he’s kind of a big deal.
We forgot to take a before pic of the fence leaning and being held up by ropes, so this was the best one I could find. You can see in the background the section that was starting to lean. After several strong wind storms, it had taken a beating and at one point had completely fallen down.
Ben researched online how to do this himself and decided to replace two posts that were rotted out at the bottom. Sounds simple enough, right? 4 days and 4 trips to Home Depot/Ace Hardware later, he thought otherwise.
First, he had to dig up the old posts and concrete which he pulled off like He-Man. Then he poured in gravel (for better drainage), set the post in the hole where the previous one had been and set it with ready-mix concrete. You then let the posts set for 24 hrs. before putting the fence back up.
Look at that manly man! Ok, back to the tutorial. You can see here how he even set a leveling string between the existing posts to make sure it was around the same height as the others. We also purchased a bright orange fence leveler thingy (this is what happens when I blog about Ben’s projects).

Around 11 p.m. that night while laying in bed he was thinking that the project seemed a little too easy. Then a thought crossed his mind, “I wonder if I should have measured the distance between the posts to make sure they line up with the fence?” Dun dun dun…

Unfortunately, he was dead on and the fence did not line up where it needed to with the new posts. He proceeded to dig up one of the posts and concrete and start from scratch. This time, his pretty princess who doesn’t like to sweat I helped him hold the fence up to make sure it matched up before setting the post.
After letting it set for 24 hrs. again, all that was left was to reattach the fence to the posts. Ben opted for heavy duty screws rather than nails.
Here’s the final result – that part of the fence ain’t going anywhere for a long time! You can see the two dirt areas where the new posts are located. I couldn’t be more proud of Ben for tackling this project himself and saving us tons of money after the estimate we saw!

So what do y’all think about all of our Ben’s hard work? Anyone else attempt to fix or build a fence themselves? What is the most frustrating home improvement project you’ve ever tackled?

Curly Ribbon for Dummies

Last week we attended some of our good friend’s twins 1st birthday party and I ran into a small problem when it came to wrapping the gift.
I picked up this fun star wrapping paper from the $1 section at Target and thought I could use this curly ribbon bunch I already had on hand. Unfortunately, the baby blue plaid just wasn’t working with the brightly colored paper. I went looking for another ribbon option, but all I had was that ugly red and green Christmas curly ribbon we all own. Hmmm… if I could only make a red curly ribbon bunch, it would be perfect!
After inspecting the blue ribbon bunch like an engineer, I determined that there were 12 strands of ribbon that were simply held together with a staple in the middle. It took me all of 5 minutes to recreate this with the red ribbon.
I curled the ribbon ends with scissors and I had myself a DIY genuine ribbon bunch! This made me feel very silly for paying $2-$3 for these at the store. I also like to use these ribbon bunches sticking out the top of wine glasses for decorations at baby showers (baby blue, light pink, or the theme color), wedding showers (white or silver) and parties.

I make a point of wrapping presents for kids rather than using gift bags because it seems like more fun for them to unwrap. However, it may have been too soon for 1 yr. olds seeing as how our gift was the only one NOT in a gift bag.
Oh well, Kaden and Caleb didn’t seem to mind. Happy 1st Birthday to two of my favorite squirmy boys!

Am I the only one in the world unaware of how simple it is to make these yourself? What’s your favorite creative wrapping solution?