Category: Hobbies

DIY Wood Sign

Wood Sign Square

Every couple of years we get a crazy hair in our family and decide that we’re going to do all homemade gifts. Originally it was because we were all broke and thought homemade gifts would be more affordable. I quickly realized that first year that homemade gifts are not necessarily less expensive and require a whole lot of extra time! However, I made these last year and pulled it off for only a couple dollars each.

You can make them any size, shape, color you want and with whatever quote or saying you want. It’s a super versatile idea and I’m going to show you the basics. So if you’re not a huge fan of what my entryway sign says or the shape or color, you can easily customize it.

Also, I didn’t fully realize how many steps were actually involved and I want to reassure you that more tutorials are in the making for the basic techniques. In the meantime, I will provide some helpful links.

The first thing you need is a plan. Figure out where you want to put the sign if it’s for yourself and decide on the dimensions you want. We’re going to be using 1×4 lumber, which is actually about .75×3.5 (I still can’t figure out why they don’t just cut them true to size). So the width of the sign is whatever you want to make it and the height will be the number of boards high that you want. You can make a short sign with one board or taller with two, three, four, or however many you want. My sign is 3 feet (36 inches) wide and 3 boards tall.

You also need something to attach the boards to. I used a very small piece of trim and cut three pieces at 10 inches long to screw the boards into. You could just as easily use leftover pieces of 1×4’s but the smaller trim helped the sign sit more flush with the wall.

You will need some kind of saw to cut the boards unless you have really nice Home Depot workers to do it for you. I didn’t have that but I did have a dark and handsome man living here in my house who took care of it for me 🙂

Then you need to know your color scheme and the style you’re going for. I love the farmhouse, vintage kind of look and so I used three colors. You can just as easily, or probably easier, use just one color or just wood stain. 

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Lastly, you need some words. I spent a long time coming up with the words I wanted in my entryway. I decided on this quote from LDS Church President Harold B. Lee because I thought it was a great reminder to me everyday that I walk in my house what is most important.

Ok, now that you have a plan, let’s get started!

What You Will Need

Materials

  • 1×4 lumber (cut to meet your dimensions)
  • small pieces of trim for backing
  • screws (1 inch)
  • sandpaper (100-150 grit)
  • stain, chalk paint or acrylic paint (background and text color)
  • finishing wax or some kind of finishing varnish
  • D Hooks (or whatever hanging hardware you can find)

Tools

  • saw to cut lumber
  • drill
  • 2 regular paint brushes
  • small paint brush for writing
  • printer and paper
  • chalk
  • pen

Steps

1. Cut and sand wood

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Simple as that. Once your boards are cut according to your dimensions, just sand the edges to get rid of any rough spots. If you’re going to stain your wood, do that before assembling. I usually stain my wood a darker color even if I’m going to paint over it. The dark color pops through the sanding in the finished product and makes it look older.

 2. Assemble

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Decide which side of each board you want to be the front and order them the way that looks best. Beware of eyes and rough spots and try to keep the middle of the sign as uniform as possible to make it easier to paint the words on. Then flip them over and screw the trim onto the backs of the boards with a screw in each board.

If the backing is very thin you will want to drill small holes before you screw into them so the wood doesn’t split. Since my sign was fairly wide, I used 3 pieces of backing.

3. Paint

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You can use chalk paint or acrylic paint for this step. Here is the recipe I use for homemade chalk paint.

I painted this first color (driftwood grey from Glidden) with a really crappy, old brush and did it very lightly so I could still see the stain coming through. You can wait for it to dry in between coats but I’m not usually patient enough and I don’t mind the look from doing one color on top of another.

A word about chalk paint and dry times. If you’re trying to get good coverage it is essential that you wait at least a couple of hours between coats. If you’re going for a rougher look like me, chalk paint dries to the touch within a few minutes so it’s ok to layer without waiting for it to completely dry in between.

I layered on a second color (blue jay from Glidden) and then a last coat of white (pebble white from Glidden) with the same technique. Then I roughed it up with 150 grit sandpaper.

5. Print Words

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I am so glad there are super smart people out there who figure out genius hacks and then post them all over the internet for me to easily locate and implement. I did not come up with this idea but saw it on several different blog posts.

You can create your words in Microsoft Word or any other word processor. That is the easiest, most straight forward way. I am quite attached to this font on Picmonkey so I designed my words on there and then opened it in a Word file to print it. Here is a post about designing in Picmonkey (which is free) and here is a post about printing large images in Microsoft Word.

Either way, you’ll need to create your words, size them appropriately, and print them out. You are likely going to use several pages. Just put the puzzle together with tape until you have your saying put back together. 

6. Transfer Words

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In order to transfer the words onto your wood, you take your chalk and scribble all over the back of your words.  

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Then you tape it onto your board. Next, you take a ballpoint pen and meticulously trace each letter.

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When you take it off, you’ll see the outline of the words! It’s like magic 

PaintLettersE1Now I’m going to be honest and tell you this next part is the most difficult but it’s totally doable and just requires some patience and tenacity. You don’t need to be artistic or crafty, just patient. You’re going to use a small paint brush to fill in the space inside your chalk words. Go slowly and smoothly, bending at your wrist, to follow the lines and fill in the space. You’ll probably need two coats so let it dry a couple of hours in between.

It certainly doesn’t have to be perfect and not all the letters will be exactly the same. Guess what, that’s what makes it homemade  

I roughed my letters up a little bit with sandpaper after they were dry.

7. Finish

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Since I used chalk paint I used a finishing wax and a yucky old chip brush to buff in the wax and create a nice finish. Chalk paint is super porous and so a wax does an excellent job at filling in the pores and creating a smooth, lasting finish. It will harden over time and keep your paint from chipping. 

It’s super easy to do, just remember to only use a tiny, tiny bit. I barely dip my brush in the wax until there’s a very small amount on the bristles and rub it in with circular motions. That’s it! You can also buff it to give it a shine but I always skip that step since I like a matte finish.

8. Hardware

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You can use whatever hardware you have on hand or can find at the store. I used a wire hanging kit and it worked great. I’m not going to lie, hanging things on walls is not my strong point. There may or may not be several holes behind this sign now 

HangingE1I love being able to make things for my house. It’s kind of a fun hobby and then I get to be proud when someone says, “Oh that’s cute! Where did you get it?”

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What saying are you going to use on your sign?

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Can Moms Have Dreams?

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Do you remember when you were just graduating high school and part of you was so excited to be on your own while the other part was terrified about what you were going to do with your life?

I remember being so torn about what I wanted to study in college. I wanted to study everything! I wanted to be everything! I had so many dreams and goals and plans. Then life happened. It happened in its own way which was nothing like what I had on paper.

Part of my life is exactly what I wanted: a loving husband, sweet and adorable children, and a cozy home. However, as difficult as it is to say out loud, part of my life plan was left out.

For a while I was totally fine with that. I was busy learning to be a mom and adjusting to this season of my life. I gave up all my hobbies and all my friendships because I felt like I didn’t have time for those things. My husband and my kids were my friends and that was all I needed (or could even handle to be perfectly honest).

Then something happened. I started feeling kind of depressed and a little resentful. Be prepared, the not-so-perfect mom and wife part of me is about to be uncovered.

I went through a short period where I would daydream about what it would be like to be just me again. Not mom-me or wife-me, just me. Single, free-me. The me that only had to worry about, me. I would daydream about going back to college and enjoying all the things I felt like I missed out on. I would daydream about traveling to Europe, skydiving in New Zealand, and doing humanitarian work in South America. I dreamed about writing a book, like I’ve wanted to do since kindergarten. I dreamed about having the financial freedom to enjoy life a little more. I even dreamed about renting a hotel room and having a spa day, all by myself.

I think part of this came from turning 30. Man, remember when 30 was old? There’s this scene from the movie, The Switch. Jason Bateman is explaining to this little boy why adults don’t like people to know when it’s their birthday. When the little boy asks why he says, “Because getting old sucks. Most people don’t accomplish what they’d hoped to and they realize that they are most likely not going to. They end up living these quiet lives of denial, and uh… brushing birthdays under the rug just becomes a big part of that.”

I suddenly realized that I was 1/3 of the way through my life and I had failed to accomplish so much. Being a mom is wonderful, but being me is important too isn’t it?

I had to come to grips with the fact that it wasn’t my husband’s or my kids’ fault. It was my own. I squandered my single years. I accomplished a few things but mostly I just got myself into mounds of student loan debt and took too long to graduate from college. Then there was this attitude I was dealing with now. As if my life was basically over. I’m turning 30 and already thinking about life as if I’m 90.

It occurred to me that I still have 2/3 of my life to be more intentional about accomplishing my goals. I can be a mom and still be me, I just have to make it intentional and quit floating through my life as if I have no control over it.

I realize that being a mother is the noblest of callings. It requires tremendous sacrifice and hard work. But does it really mean we can’t do anything else?

I attended a conference a little over a year ago and one of my favorite bloggers spoke. Cara brook from maskcara.com explained how she had to decide whether or not she was going to go forward with her business even though she was a single mom at the time. What she said struck a chord with me and it was the permission I needed to make some changes in my life. She said, “I realized that if I want to encourage my son to dream and to work toward accomplishing his goals, I have to show him that by example. I can’t give up on my dreams or I will be giving him permission to do the same.”

Writer

That was when I got serious about blogging. It seemed an ideal outlet for me and a way to work on my writing. I know I have a book in me someday and I felt like this was a great starting point. It’s something I can do on my own time, in my own way.

It’s been a process of trial and error to balance blogging and motherhood but I feel like I might be getting the hang of it. It’s refreshing to be doing something that makes me feel more like me and being able to connect with other women and old friends through this kind of a platform. Of course, I’m still in the infancy stage but I have big plans and I’m excited about what the future holds.

Writing has made me even more aware of the priceless blessings I have. It’s fun to write about things I’m learning and sharing that with other women. I have been lucky to have so many people who support me and uplift me with their sincere encouragement. Long story short, I’m a much happier mom now.

So can moms have dreams? I say absolutely YES. In fact, I think it should be required for motherhood. I don’t think it’s healthy for us or our kids to be so consumed with their needs and wants that we lose our own identity. I think it’s powerful for a child to grow up with a mom who works toward her own dreams and inspires him to do the same. 

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What is your secret dream? What are you going to do to work toward it? Do you think it’s selfish to think this way?

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Never Stop Learning

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**If you choose to sign up for audible through my link, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

During my first year of college, while walking toward the bus after classes, I met a surprising woman. She had to have been well into her 80’s or possibly her 90’s. She was classically dressed in a black skirt, white button down shirt, and orthopedic shoes. Her white hair was pulled up in a sleek bun and behind her she wheeled what looked like a heavy backpack. When I first saw her, I thought she was lost. Then, I thought maybe she was a professor. I never guessed she would be a student.

I ran up to her and asked if I could help her with her bag. She was grateful and we walked together toward the science building. I learned that she was a student at this university and she was taking graduate classes in nutrition and food science. This intrigued me. She was quick to admit she was auditing the classes. Her reasons were that she wasn’t after a degree and didn’t want to take up space in a graduate program that could be occupied by younger students looking for a career. She said she was interested in learning about food science and that it was always something that fascinated her. I was absolutely floored. Here I was, a 19-year-old psychology major who was considering changing her major because a graduate degree seemed way too far off to be realistic. Yet here stood a woman, older than my grandma, who was eagerly studying in a graduate program that she would never get a diploma for.

My interaction with this woman impacted my life and completely changed the way I view education. Although I am an advocate of formal education, I majored in it, I am an even bigger advocate of organic learning. For a lot of people, the best kind of learning happens when we aren’t doing it for a grade.

Maybe you think you’re done with school and so your “real learning” has stopped. Maybe you feel like with little kids there is no way you have time to learn. Or maybe you really can’t think of anything you want to learn and so you just keep plugging away at your day-to-day life. Let me assure you that “real learning” happens outside of a classroom, you do have time to learn even with little kids, and there is something you want to learn you just need to make it a priority.

Time learn 2How do I find time to learn?

We cannot make a goal to learn about something without redirecting a chunk of our time to doing it. The extra time does not come out of thin air, we must take it from something we are already doing.

Before you complain that you just don’t have the time, take an honest look at your life. Is every minute of your life really spent doing supremely important things? How many minutes a day do you spend mindlessly scrolling through your Facebook feed? Or pinning random things on Pinterest that you never make the time to try? Do you mindlessly watch episode after episode of New Girl on Netflix at night to “unwind”? While it’s totally fine to take a break occasionally from focus-draining tasks and do something mindless for a few minutes, we have a tendency of letting that train run free and losing a lot of precious time in the name of taking “breaks.”

I guarantee that if you make the use of your time intentional, you will find pockets of time that could be spent strengthening your brain and learning something new. You just have to be conscious about how you actually spend your time and not how you tell yourself you spend it.

What to learn 2What Should I Learn?

There are any number of things we can learn that will improve our life in some way. Here are a list of questions to get you started.

What will help me improve my life right now if I knew more about it?

Maybe you’ve noticed that some moms seem to have it together and make dinner every night when you feel like it is an impossible task. If you knew a little more about cooking or meal planning and prep, could it make that easier for you? What if you looked into make ahead freezer meals? Or maybe your struggle is saving money. You just can’t seem to figure out how to get your head above water. If you knew of different options and strategies out there to help people save money, could you possibly benefit from that?

What have I always been interested in?

What is that one thing you were always interested in but never pursued because of other things that came up in life? In the past, were you able to carry on long, deep conversations about philosophy? Does human anatomy absolutely fascinate you? Or forensic science? Or maybe you’re drawn to studying other cultures or languages. There is no limit to what you can learn if it piques your interest.

What are my hobbies?

Or if you’re a busy mom, what were your hobbies? I know for a long time after I started having kids I gave up on my hobbies because I felt like I didn’t have time anymore. I finally realized that having a hobby is paramount, no matter how much or how little time you have. Did you used to enjoy photography? Or making paper crafts? Or maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to crochet but other things always got in the way. It’s possible to make a little time each week to focus on a hobby.

What do my loved ones need help with?

Is there something someone in your family needs help with right now? Do you have a depressed teenager that you don’t know what to do with? Or a defiant toddler who seems to rule your house? Maybe your husband is trying to start his own business but could benefit from a little help from you. There are ways to learn about all these topics if we make the time for it.

Books2How can I learn?

Now that you know what you want to learn, here is a list of some different ways you can go about it.

Books

Let us never forget the classic, tried and true way of learning, books. There are so many incredible books out there, old and new. There are different ways of reading books. There are physical books, ebooks, and audiobooks. There are abridged versions, nonabridged versions, cliffnotes, and summaries of books. You can buy books, rent books, trade books, or borrow books. You may even already have a book you intended to read but never got around to it. 

One of my favorite things to do while cleaning is listen to books. Since routine cleaning is such a mindless task to me, I can thoroughly enjoy a new book while I do it and it passes the time so much faster. Instead of dreading the task of cleaning the bathroom, I can look forward to it because I get to listen to this awesome book. I usually listen to free books from my local library with an app called overdrive on my phone. Ask your local library if they offer audiobooks and they can probably get you set up. If not, audible has most any book you can think of in audio version. You can try audible for free for a month with two free audiobooks. If you have Amazon Prime, you can get 3 free months of audible, with a free book each month.

Courses

Check your local college for community courses to see if one strikes your fancy. You might also be able to audit real college classes if you’re not interested in earning credits. Or you could try sites such as Udemy or Coursera to find online courses on your topic of interest. Many of them are free.

Podcasts

If you’ve never listened to a podcast then you are missing out! The best way to describe them would be sort of like a radio show I guess, only on demand. So you can search for certain topics or browse different categories. Sometimes I like to even google “best podcasts for…” whatever topic I’m interested in. You can download certain episodes and subscribe to your favorite podcasts. There’s a lot to be learned on the podcast platform.

Clubs or Groups

If you are lucky enough to have clubs or groups in your area dedicated to what you’re interested in, you should definitely consider joining. For instance, say you are interested in learning more about homeschooling your children. If you know of someone in your community who homeschools, get with that person to ask if there are others and if they meet regularly. See if they would mind if you popped in to learn a little more. Or maybe you’re interested in making some homemade decor for your house. Do you know anybody who is particularly good at that? Maybe you could invite this person to start a craft club with you and ask your friends if they would be interested in doing a craft night once a month to make something for their home. The possibilities are endless! The fun about this is that you get to learn with other people. So girls night out just got educational 🙂

Conferences

Check out local conferences or events where experts come to speak or give classes for a day. These are sometimes an investment but may well be worth it to you. You can also make this one a little more social by inviting your spouse or a good friend to attend with you.

There is so much in life that we can learn and benefit from yet we sometimes get stuck in this rut where we know what we know and that’s all we care about or have energy for. Get rid of your mindset that learning takes place at school and become a lifelong learner where learning takes place in every location and situation. Be an example to your children that learning is important, fun, and should be a lifelong endeavor.

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Tell me, what are you going to start with? How do you plan on learning about it? Have you tried any of these ideas or do you have others?

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50 Ideas for “No Light Hours”: Take advantage of the fall time change

Nighttime squareIt’s easy for someone like me, who prefers warm weather and being outside, to get depressed that the time has changed and winter is on its way. However, this time I am oddly optimistic about what I will accomplish with no outdoor distractions. After spending a summer outside building and painting furniture, fixing roofs, and gardening, I’m kind of looking forward to an excuse to stay indoors for a while. Here are 50 ideas to occupy your extra nighttime hours and keep you away from trash TV.

Take up a new hobby

1. Learn to crochet
2. Learn to play an instrument
3. Practice cooking more delicious and healthy meals
4. Go the other route and learn to bake delicious and indulgent treats
5. Read more
6. Take up writing or at least journaling
7. Learn to sew
8. Learn a new language
9. Take an online course
10. Learn to make and bind books
11. Take up scrapbooking
12. Learn how to coupon
13. Learn a new style of dance (maybe you could get your spouse to join in it with you)
14. Make jewelry

gamesMore Family Time

15. Play board games or other physical games like Hide-and-Seek
16. Do puzzles together
17. Go on night drives to see the Christmas lights, make sure to bring hot chocolate
18. Have movie nights at home with popcorn
19. Learn to ice skate together
20. Go bowling
21. Build forts in the living room
22. Exchange foot massages
23. Take treats to a neighbor
24. Learn some songs together and sing them to elderly folk at a nursing home or assisted living center
25. Plan and prepare Christmas for a less fortunate family
26. Just talk over a mug of hot chocolate

 

More Personal Time

27. Take a bubble bath
28. Have a spa night with homemade spa products
29. Go to bed earlier and reap the benefits of beauty sleep
30. Exercise or go on a night walk, just bundle up and wear reflective colors
31. Find a new podcast or audiobook to listen to while you clean or work on a project
32. Give yourself a manicure or pedicure
33. Take up meditation
34. Window shop or browse online shops
35. Think about and write down your goals
36. Write a real paper and pen letter to a friend and mail it

Work on indoor projects

37. Paint a room in your house (or all of them!)
38. Paint a small piece of furniture
39. Read this book and declutter your home
40. Fix things that you haven’t gotten around to fixing yet
41. Go through cabinets, drawers, and closets that have needed it for a while now
42. Sell stuff you don’t need online
43. Put together a cookbook of your family’s favorite recipes
44. Make all homemade Christmas gifts this year
45. Make an inventory of your stockpile or food storage, if you have it, and decide where you’re low
46. Organize old, printed photos and keep them in a safe box that will protect against aging and yellowing
47. Organize digital files and photos and back them up
48. Make a password reminder list to help you remember all the different usernames and passwords you have. Protect the document with an easy-to-remember password
49. Clean out your filing cabinet or make a filing system if you don’t have one
50. Organize your brain by reading this book and following through with what it teaches

Let me know if you try any of these and how it goes. Do you have any other ideas? What’s your favorite way to spend that extra time indoors?
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