Posted in Crafts, Culture, Family, Home, Personal, Relationships, Work, writing

The Desk

After having 42 birthdays, the one that has always meant the most to me was when I turned 5. There wasn’t some extravagant Pinteresty party with fabulous decorations, a petting zoo, a professional photo shoot, and gift bags to rival the Academy Awards. No, it was a simple party with family only and a cake baked with love by my mother. My gift though, would change my life forever.
There was a gorgeous wooden desk fit for the President and with it were pens, pencils, highlighters, a stapler, tape dispenser, paper clips, folders, post-it notes, and several reams of blank paper. My brother and sister gifted me coloring books crayons, and map pencils. I can remember my mom helping rearrange my bedroom to make space for this regal desk. She gave my glasses from the kitchen that had Ronald McDonald and the Hamburglar on them to organize my prizes in. I was so excited to get started!
Recently on a writers forum I belong to, we were asked if we remember the day we knew we wanted to write. I immediately recalled that birthday and images of my five year old self, sitting at my desk played in my head. That was the day I decided I would pen books and illustrate them. I was going to write poems and also be a journalist. I had big dreams!
As I looked back to the day, nearly 40 years ago, I realized something I never noticed before. That large, regal wooden desk fit for the President, wasn’t even that big. It wasn’t that regal, either. In fact, it was second-hand. It had nicks, discoloration, and old pen marks on it. It was just an average desk my parents picked up at a yard sale. And all those office and art supplies? They were the same exact ones you could find at my parents’ offices. We were by no means poor, but were definitely on a budget back then.
And you know what? Now that I’ve had this revelation, it doesn’t change a thing! I will still think of that as the best birthday I’ve ever had. I will still consider those the most thoughtful and meaningful gifts I’ve received. They were better than any Barbie doll, board game, or the hottest toy on the market. They meant everything to me. They sparked my imagination and fueled my creative desires. They sculpted me.
Maybe I didn’t grow up to have a New York Times Best Selling Novel. Barnes & Noble closed before I could do a book tour. Maybe I’ll never make a living with my writing and that’s okay. It doesn’t make me any less of an author.
I’m proud of my accomplishments. Thousands of people read my stories. I have work that has been published with millions of followers. When I’m gone, my stories will still be here, and that’s more than I could’ve hoped for, even when I was 5.

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Posted in Crafts, Personal

My Hamartia

I get all of these great ideas for projects and crafts and DIY’s that I want to accomplish. I rush full speed head-on into my project with nothing but tunnel vision until I see it through. I get all these visions in my head and get so excited to begin. I run to the thrift stores and craft stores and pick up all the items I need. But the problem, you see, is that I don’t know what to do with said projects when they are complete. Sometimes I think I will sell my creations, but that puts a lot of pressure on me to make something specifically designed for someone else and when something you love doing becomes something stressful, you don’t love doing it anymore. I don’t want that to happen. I end up with all of these lovely yet useless (to me) things. On one hand, I want to keep my creations so I can marvel at a job well done and pat myself on the back. On the other hand, I don’t want to clutter my home with things I won’t use and don’t need. Do you see the problem?

…and I think, in the story of my life, with me being the heroine that would be my downfall, that would be my hamartia. To have an overwhelming passion and desire to craft beautiful things from my hands and my imagination, but then what? Don’t gift them? Don’t sell them? Don’t use them? Hide them away in a plastic storage bin in my garage?

That’s not bringing a dream to life, that’s suffocating a dream and I refuse to commit dream homicide.

hamartia

Posted in Crafts, Family, Food, Home, Personal, Relationships

Doubly Blessed Baby Shower

As many of you know, my two oldest daughters are expecting babies in September! I was honored when they allowed me to host their baby shower. I am huge fan of DIY, Pinterest, and of course, saving money! I decided to do the food, decorations, and favors by hand.

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I made tissue paper tassles (instructions here) coffee filter pom poms (instructions here) tissue paper peonies (instructions here)

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For the favors I used Olive’s vintage wooden high chair to house the basket of tea lights. The card reads, “Burn this tea light on the night once the stork has made its flight. With a flicker of the flame, please say a prayer in Baby’s name.” (idea here)

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This one was my favorite addition to the decor! I knew a needed place for cards to go and it hit me I could use Olive’s vintage cradle. I knew I had to add the spoons when I revised the song in my head to “The cards in the cradle and the silver spoons.”

I am so very excited for Dallas and Mikayla. I would like to thank everyone for coming to the baby shower. My only regret is that we didn’t get more photos. If you were there, please send me any you have. Please enjoy the slideshow below of the few photos I remembered to take!

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Posted in Crafts, Home, Personal

Home Is Where You Hang Your Hat

My husband and I both have an affinity for hats. He has 2 super cool vintage Stetsons that he found at the Flea Market (naturally.) I have an obsession with giving every item in our house a home, including said hats. I decided that I wanted a hat wall in our bedroom and knew just where I wanted them, but not how to hang them. All the wall mounted hat racks I found online were horizontal and I wanted vertical, so I went to Pinterest for ideas. I was able to find some really cool photos of hat displays, but none of them told me how to hang them on the wall. My friend and office mate Shelia suggested push pins, but my husband would murder me in my sleep if I stuck a pin through his Stetson hats and I have a pretty rad felt Free People hat he bought me that I wasn’t willing to turn into a voodoo doll. In my mind, I imagined the hats on the wall, but the hanger not visible.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention and this hat wall became not only a necessity, but an obsession. When I get an idea in my head, I obsess over it until I find a way to get it done. I am also frugal. The idea of spending $10 to $30 per peg wasn’t going to fly, plus my husband is never thrilled with the idea of putting large holes in the wall. Basically, I needed to invent something from items I already had that would discreetly hang my hats and not put a hole in them or in the wall. Shelia and I “racked” our brains and looked around the office for ideas.

The answer was right in front of me. Literally. Because I’m frugal, I bring my lunch to work with me every day, usually leftovers from last night’s dinner. I also sometimes bring sandwiches and chips. I use a clothespin instead of a chip clip on my bags because… I’m frugal. Seriously, you can get a package of 36 wooden clothespins from the Dollar Tree for $1 here. There they were, 5 wooden clothespins clipped to my desk organizer that was also holding about 400 brightly colored push pins. I grabbed one of each, clipped the clothespin to the push pin and voila! instead wall peg that would cause minimal damage. We wondered if it would be able to bear the weight of a hat so I promptly went downstairs to the camp store, grabbed a straw cowboy hat and tested that sucker out. Success! I put all my goodies in a Ziplock baggie, excited to get home.

Last night at the table, my husband asked if I minded if he went for a skate after dinner. The only thing on my mind was the hat wall, so of course I encouraged him to go!
Which, by the way, he posted this to Facebook afterwards and I loved it so much, I feel it’s worth sharing:

“Skated an hour and then ran 6 full court 4 on 4 games with kids less than half my age tonight, kid that was holding me asked me before I left how old I was. Told him I was turning 44 this year, he called me a liar, walked him to the car and showed him my ID. He said, “damn you’re older than my dad!” Moral of the story is? keep moving, if you can, don’t be that guy who use to talk about how he was in the game, be that guy, play the game, until you can’t play anymore, gonna do that with all I got too…
Tomorrow we’re all back in the game.”

So, while my husband was in his game, I was on my game. I used Gorilla Glue for reinforcement with the clothespin. I started thinking that the wall would be awesome with the hats on display, but what would happen when he was actually wearing one? I would have a clothespin sticking out of my wall with a bright push pin glued to it and I just couldn’t handle that. I wanted it to look good with my “Sea Seeker” beachy bedroom so I decided to use the leftover brushed nickel spray paint from my fairytale dresser make-over to jazz up my frugal invention.

20160802_215625(Granted, the lighting is bad so you can’t truly see how great it looks in brushed nickel, but still, you get the gist.)

I wasn’t done there. While waiting for the paint to dry, I rummaged through the garage in search of something to store all the DVD’s that were haphazardly strewn about the TV armoire. I was able to locate a cool aluminum milk crate. I don’t know where my husband found it, but I loved it and thought it would make a nice addition to the room. Once the crate was clean and the DVD’s were stored, I checked on my clothespins and they were dry. Hallelujah! It was finally time to hang the hats.

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I’m pretty happy with the way it looks and I love organizing my home. I’m already looking forward to my next project: a DIY flip-flop bin. So while I’m over here on my game, plotting and planning a creative and frugal way to store all my flops, just remember, today is a new day and we’re all back in the game – so get to playing.

Posted in Crafts, Family, Home, Personal

The Princess and the Sea

Please allow me to preface this by saying that the core of a fairy tale generally consists of a damsel in distress who goes through great peril (often times against a nemesis that is portrayed as an ugly beast), generally saved by her knight in shining armor and ends in a “happily ever after.” This fairy tale has all of these things, but it is certainly not a “tale;” it is a true story…

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Once upon a time (yesterday) in a magical kingdom far, far away (New Braunfels, Texas) there lived a young(ish) maiden (matron – whatever) who lived with her Prince Charming in a lovely castle near the sea (Guadalupe River.) Our happy couple loved to spend the days with their children swimming and splashing in the water. In the evenings she would prepare delicious dinners and work in the castle to make it as pleasant and inviting as possible. Lately, she had been focusing her attention on their private bed chambers. For some time the fair maiden had been suffering from the “Princess and the Pea Syndrome.” The bed upon which she layed was by all accounts comparable to concrete and the shoddily constructed frame designed by an evil empire (IKEA) would randomly fall apart. Prince Charming felt terrible for her restless and uncomfortable nights so off he went on a quest to replace the heinous bed with something more suitable for his bride. That very evening, he arrived with a bed made of clouds suitable for a Queen. (Thank you NB Mattress and Wynn Wallace!) Once the heavenly bed was placed upon the wood (laminate) floor, she knew she needed to get to work on the rest of the space. With nothing but a shoe string budget and her imagination (and Pinterest) she was able to create a celestial headboard to go with her divine new bed.

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Now that her Knight in Shining Armor had rescued her from the concrete bed and she created an exquisite headboard to match – it was time for her to face “The Beast.” The Beast had been haunting her from the moment her and Prince Charming fell in love. It was a ghastly creature, truly the stuff nightmares are made of. It made wretched sounds as though it was howling from the depths of Hell. She was repulsed by The Beast and the mere thought of it sent shivers down her spine. She awoke one morning after a night of restful slumber in her hallowed bed and decided that day would be the day she slayed The Beast. She assembled her companions and went to gather the tools necessary to defeat this dastardly ogre. They embarked on a journey to a wonderland called Lowe’s.

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With the help of her Fairy Godmother (Mikayla) an imp (Lyric Cody) and an elf (Olive) she was able to amass the weapons necessary to defeat her nemesis. The first order of business was to cover the hideous creature (with paint.) Choosing the right color is a serious and important task. After narrowing it down to two different shades, she chose the one with the most pleasing name – “Sea Seeker.” What a pulchritudinous name and so apropos! After all, who else in the entire kingdom seeked the sea as much as her and her family?! Armed with brushed nickel spray paint, a quart of Sun Seeker, multiple brushes, a jar of finishing wax, and a bar of soap, she headed to her castle to confront The Beast.

230This eyesore is The Beast in naked form. (Notice all the battle scars this monstrosity has accumulated from years of conflict.) This was going to be a tough campaign, but she was ready for bloodshed (if necessary.) She took a deep breath and went in for the attack!

Okay, I’m not going to sugarcoat it. This was no easy fight. It took more effort, more time, and more elbow grease than she had ever bargained for. There were moments when she wanted to light a match and burn The Beast to the ground. But she was persistent and a little too proud to give up. She pushed harder and after several hours of intense struggle, she emerged the champion. Our fair maiden was finally free of The Beast and in its place sat a stunning new “sea seeking” dresser fit for a King!

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…and from that moment on, the royal family lived happily ever after.
p.s. She would still like a matching a rug to complete the look. (*hint hint* *wink wink* at Prince Charming)

*Addendum* Wondering about the bar of soap? You can stop annoying drawer squeaks by following these steps:

  1. Empty the items from your drawers. Remove the drawers from the chest.
  2. Rub an old wax candle or a bar of soap along the sides of a wooden drawer. Do not worry about rubbing too much soap or wax on the wood; the more you add, the easier it will be to slide the drawer in and out of the cabinet.
  3. Brush any soap or wax crumbs from the sides of the drawer with your fingers. This will keep the soap or wax crumbs from falling onto the items you store in your drawers.
  4. Rub the candle or soap along the wooden glide attached to the bottom of the drawer. Some wooden drawers may have nylon glides attached to the bottom of the drawer. You can rub these glides with soap or the candle, but it is not necessary.
  5. Look inside the drawer opening in the chest or cabinet for the wooden slide attached to the bottom of the opening. Rub the soap or candle along the slide. Do not forget to brush off any wax or soap crumbs.
  6. Insert the wooden drawer into the opening of the cabinet or chest. Push the drawer closed and pull it open several times until the squeak disappears. Add more soap or wax if the squeak persists.
  7. Put all your items back into the drawers.

    Thanks for the tip, Mom!

 

Posted in Crafts, Culture, Family, Home, Personal

Paradise in a Parking Lot

The Flea Market is our church. We attend every Sunday religiously. The hawkers are our choir and the vendors are apostles. We pray to find treasures and we worship good deals. Upon entrance, we tithe one dollar to the parking lot attendant. When the clock strikes noon, we praise the food trucks for providing us with holy communion (beer and nachos.) Thanks, Blue Laws for making us wait. Our brethern walk beside us, many times nudging us out of their way – parishoners, also seeking good fortune. We often times face tribulation as we haggle for Good News on prices. Let me bear witness to you today, if you have not yet experienced how the Flea Market will change your spirit and lift your soul, you must seek it immediately and your life will be forever changed.

One such Sunday, perhaps a month ago, I stumbled upon a vintage 1970’s handmade wooden rocking horse elephant. I swear, I was led there by the hand of God Himself. It was as though I had found the Holy Grail and the sun shone down on it like gold. The masking tape price tag said only $12. Good Lord, what a bargain! My husband stepped in and offered $8. The bargaining began and a deal was struck for $10. That’s when I heard the angels sing. As we crossed the parking lot, elephant in tow, a car pulled up along side us and offered $25 for our prize. I vehemently shook my head “no.”

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I had plans for this elephant. I was going to chalk paint Dumbo with the leftover gray I had from jazzing up Olive’s dresser:

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I was excited to begin the project and finally had the oppurtunity yesterday. Dumbo would make a perfect addition to Olive’s yellow & gray nursery and I’m anxiously awaiting the day she can use him. I gathered my supplies, set down a tarp and got to work. I began by cutting off the rope tail and sanding the rough edges. It only took two coats of paint and I still have more leftover! Only God knows what I will paint next. While Dumbo was drying, I decided to make a new tail. I used the leftover yellow & white chevron printed fabric I had used to make Olive’s shabby tutu for her “Big Sis” Yellow Chair pic. Unfortunately, her little brother went to be with the other angel babies in Heaven. You can read the blog here.

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I’m pretty excited with the final result. Dumbo fits nicely in the nursery and the color is beautiful. I like that I was able to use the leftover fabric and I think it pays a quiet little homage to the son we lost. Hallelujah!

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I like to think my creativity is a gift from God and He expects me to use the gift He has given. I arrive at the Flea Market with an open mind as to what I may find and how I can use it to create something beautiful and useful.

1 Timothy 4:14-15
“Do not neglet the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.”

Amen.

 

 

Posted in Crafts, Family, Home, Personal

DIY Coffee Can Christmas Tree

I like my coffee like I like my men, strong and dark. Jose and I go through 2 or 3 cans a month. I used to just put them in the recycling bin until I realized we were going through so many, I should save them for a future project. Once my pantry began filling up with coffee cans, I decided it was high time to put them to use, but how? I searched Pinterest and Google for ideas and I liked the lantern idea (here.) I imagined letting all the kids make a pattern on paper and then Jose and I punching the pattern out with nails on the cans. I still might do that!
finished22It was Saturday, December 6th. We had all four of Jose’s kids and decided to walk downtown for the Farmers Market. We had a nice lunch at Blue Moose Pizza, spent an hour perusing through the Downtown Antique Mall, picked up dessert to-go from Naegelin’s Bakery, walked to the Main Plaza to enjoy those treats, JOSE PROPOSED TO ME IN THE GAZEBO, we walked to Got Toys to say hello to my daughter Dallas and to show off my ring, then started walking home. When we walked by the window of Henne Hardware, we saw the most awesome PVC Christmas tree with ornaments inside. I didn’t get a photo, but it looked something like this:
marcie-tree-001x-md110644_horizSuper freakin’ cool, right? We all admired it for a few minutes when Jose said, “We could make that with all those coffee cans you’re saving!” And that’s when my wheels started turning….

A few days later, after all the engagement excitement, I finally pulled my head out of the clouds and decided to come back down to Earth. I took out all the cans to see how many I had and to set up the layout.

This is where it all began.
This is where it all began.

Once I counted how many I had, I did a dry run of my layout.

013I fell in love with it already! Now that I had my layout done, I washed and dried all the cans. Don’t skip this step. Next, I decided to spray paint them with a green glitter paint, but quickly decided against that for many reasons, namely… fuck glitter. Secondly, if I did want to reuse these in the lantern project, that would suck. I decided to get some awesome Christmas wrapping paper and cover each can with paper. Turns out, that was an inexpensive and easy part of the project. I chose a silver foil paper (taped on) and it blended in well with the cans. This is what they looked like covered:

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Now that I had all the cans covered, I had Jose drill a single hole through the bottom of each can. I decided it would look better if I lit this sucker up! Once the holes were all drilled, I set to work hot gluing the cans together. It was much easier for the hot glue to adhere to the wrapping paper I used and I think I would have struggled if I had spray-painted. Once everything was together, I took a string of white lights and inserted one into each hole. I used masking tape on the backside to hold the lights in place. I was finally getting to the end, but as I completed each step, I was getting happier and happier with the results! The only thing left to do was hot glue the bulbs inside. I used all red to go with my decor, but they were gloss, matte, and glitter. (I know, I know… fuck glitter. Whatever)

FINALLY I WAS DONE!
I put it up in my bedroom window and loved it! What do you think?
025windowAlways,
~Miss Liz

Posted in Crafts, Family, Home, Personal

DIY Skateboard Photo Collage

If you have someone in your life who is as into skateboards as my guy is and you’re looking for a unique gift idea, look no further. Jose’s birthday is coming up and when I asked the kids what they wanted to gift him, they replied, “We figured you would plan a craft for us.” …so plan a craft I did! I was able to get my son to donate the skateboard (in return for a promise to purchase a new, better one) and I already had the other supplies, so this project was totally FREE!
If you can’t find someone to donate the board, try thrift shops, craigslist, yard sales, etc. It doesn’t have to be in good condition, just a whole skateboard.

SUPPLIES:
1 Skateboard, any condition
1 can black spraypaint
1 jar Modge Podge
1 disposable paintbrush
1 metallic Sharpie
Hair Dryer
Photos

STEPS:
1. Remove the trucks.
Use a Phillips screwdriver and a pair of pliers.
2. Remove the grip tape.
This is a simple process. I followed these directions and had zero problems.
3. Spray paint. I went with black so none of the lettering on the original board came through.

Before Spray Paint
Before Spray Paint

 

4. Once the paint is dry, begin laying out your photos. I urge you to lay out your pics first BEFORE you start to glue!
5. When you are happy with the layout, begin in the middle working your way to the outside. Use the paintbrush to spread the Modge Podge on the back of your pics, then place them where you want them on the deck.

After Adding Photos
After Adding Photos with Modge Podge

6. Once you’ve allowed for the glue to dry, turn the board over so you can add a personalized message with a metallic Sharpie.

Happy 42nd Birthday, Jose!
Happy 42nd Birthday, Jose!

 

You can take your final product to any skate shop and have clear grip tape put over the photo collage. Jose likes to use zip ties to display his decks on the wall. I wish I had taken pictures of his face when the kids and I presented this to him! Naturally, he posted to Instagram and FB and the feedback was awesome! I hope you enjoy this fun little project!

 

Posted in Community, Crafts, Family, Home, Personal

10 Inexpensive Activities for All Ages

Now that Summer is winding down, the kids have reached the ultimate level of “I’m bored.” Since we have 8 kids at any given time ranging in ages from 3 to 20, I put together a list of fun, inexpensive activities for everyone to enjoy of any age or gender. If you have any to add, please do so in the comments. Enjoy!

1. Make rock candy
It is so easy! I found the glass jars at the Dollar Tree and bamboo skewers ($1 for a pack of 50) and clothes pins.
http://www.sciencebob.com/experiments/rockcandy.php

2. Homemade Chia Pets!
I got almost everything at the Dollar Tree, including the googly-eyes. The grass seed came from Wal-Mart.
http://www.craftsunleashed.com/kids-stuff/how-to-make-your-own-chia-pet-2/

3. Make a hula-hoop rug!
We got the hula-hoops at the Dollar Tree and used old t-shirts. The kids loved this!
http://spoonful.com/crafts/hula-hoop-rug

4. Tie-Dye Party.
The whole kit was 14.99 at Wal-Mart. We used shirts we already had, ones with stains that we never wear, but now they have a new life!
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5. Hand Painted Tic-Tac-Toe
I found this on Pinterest. Such a cute idea!
32-Of-The-Best-DIY-Backyard-Games-You-Will-Ever-Play326. Camp on the Tramp!
We put a tent up on top of the trampoline, made a campfire in the BBQ grill, made s’mores, and told ghost stories. The kids loved camping out on the trampoline.
tramp7. Most of you have seen the kids spy game idea. We put it up and the kids absolutely loved it. I went through it and it was so difficult, but so fun!
spy8. Wax paper “stained glass”
I got a huge pack of knock-off Sharpies in awesome colors from HEB for $4.99. This kept the kids entertained for hours.
http://www.instructables.com/id/Faux-Stain-Glass/

9. Coffee Can Lanterns
I save my coffee cans in case I ever need them for a project. We let the younger kids map out their pattern on paper and let the older kids nail the holes. Everybody got to spray paint their coffee can. They came out awesome!
http://www.designsponge.com/2010/07/diy-project-karens-coffee-can-lanterns.html

10. Recycled Bird Feeder Mobile
This was enjoyable for everyone and they all got to be original in their ideas, plus we got to do some awesome bird watching as a result!
http://babbledabbledo.com/science-design-for-kids-recycled-bird-feeder-mobile/

 

**For all you local New Braunfels, Texas Moms**
McKenna Childrens Museum is perfect for every age and they are having an awesome Space Exhibit right now. You can get half price tickets on Groupon – 4 for $15!

Don’t forget the Train Museum. My kids love going there!
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I hope you enjoy this list and please add anything you can think of!