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Children's Artwork Gallery Wall (Updated): Flashback Friday

This post contains affiliate links.

It is Friday again, which means time to look back at a project from the past.   Today I am featuring my Kids' Artwork Gallery Wall, which orignally was installed in the playroom back in August of 2012.

Here is what it looked like back then:

There are a million ways to layout gallery walls. I use a pretty lazy technique of sketching out the gallery outline with chalk:

 and then laying it out on the floor and installing by eye.

St. Patrick's Day Mantle featuring an Irish Proverb

Can you believe that MARCH starts next week!?  How is that even possible?!!

I am proud to say that I (for once) am ahead of the game and have all my St. Patrick's Day decorations out already, including my decorated mantle. 

This year I decided to feature an old Irish Proverb: "A light heart lives long" which I stenciled on burlap using my Silhouette (yes.. I know, almost all my projects of late are using it, but I am obsessed with it!)

To make the wall hanging, all I did was mod podge some burlap on a piece of foam core that I picked up at the dollar store.  Then I took apart my old turkey on reclaimed wood and made a quick and easy mitered frame:

I diluted some old green wall paint and gave it a quick 'green wash' to cover up the old turkey stencil. (if you look close you can still see a little of the old paint from the outline of the turkey's head on the top board)  However, if I didn't share that with you, you probably wouldn't have noticed. In fact, I think  it actually makes the wood look more like it was truly 'reclaimed' and not just an old pallet. 

Decorating with Lanterns (on a Budget)

This post contains affiliate links.
I am a HUGE fan of decorating with lanterns.  I try to incorporate them into vignettes as often as I can.  You can see I used them here on my Fourth of July mantle:

and here at Christmas:

They are so versatile, and if you find a good source, they can also be inexpensive.

I recently became an affiliate for Oddity Inc, which features affordable home decor and holiday accents, and I was tickled when I saw their huge selection of lanterns.   

Plus from February 25-27 Oddity is having a flash sale.  Customers can save 35% off a purchase of $35 or more (on anything in the store.. not just lanterns)! 

If you have been looking for some inexpensive home decor items this is a great opportunity.

As inspiration,  I thought I would show you some examples of my favorite uses of lanterns in decorating and how you could easily get the same look for a lot less money.

Custom Star Wars Stormtrooper Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer (Tutorial)

 
I confess.. I am a geek girl.   I LOVE Star Wars.  I can't help myself.

Also.. Ever since I've gotten my Silhouette I've wanted to deck out my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.  I have seen so many great ideas to dress up that boring appliance, I loved the thought of making mine more personalized.

So this project is where those two loves meet.
 

My mixer is more than 15 years old.  I got it when I got married and back in 'the old days' the only color it came in was white.  So when I decided I was going to dress it up, a lot of the ideas I liked weren't going to work.  I needed to start with something that was mostly WHITE to begin with..

Something like.. a STORMTROOPER!
image source

The rounded top of my mixer and the big black attachment port reminded me exactly of a stormtrooper's helmet.  So that was my starting off point.

How I lived on a Weekly Budget of $20 (Flashback Friday)

Welcome to another edition of Flashback Friday.   Long term readers of my blog may remember this challenge since it took over my life back in early 2012.  I spent an entire month living on a mere $20 per week. 
 
 This winter I actually considered repeating this project in 2014 and seeing if I could reproduce my success.. but I realized that now I have more (and older) children.  One is still in diapers.  That alone would cost me a week's budget.  Plus things like gasoline and milk have increased dramatically in price in the past 2 years. I probably couldn't do it again unless I included a budget adjustment for inflation.  

Back in 2012 it was already REALLY hard.. and now it would be even harder!  So instead I decided to feature it in a Flashback Friday post since I'm not really looking for ways to make my life more difficult.

Would you be able to go an entire month and only spend a TOTAL of $80? ($20 per week)? 

What if that $20 included EVERYTHING?  Gas, food, clothes, entertainment, emergencies?  (The only thing excluded would be the cost of housing, utilities and the cost of commuting to work.)

Could you live off the food in your fridge, freezer and pantry? Would you be able to give up things that weren't truly necessities? No haircuts or manicures.  No movies or dinners out? No STARBUCKS?!!!  (Here are the specific 'rules' of the challenge.)

Back in January of 2012 I did just that.

I actually made it the entire month without using more than $20.  (I did get creative and 'earned' money in other ways, but I didn't spend more than $20 of my own money.)

In order to show you how I did it, I documented every single penny that I spent. I kept track of exactly what groceries I purchased and I also recorded the meals I made. 

How to Organize Greeting Cards and Stationary


 In the spirit of spring cleaning, I decided it was time to finally sort and organize my giant greeting card collection.  Yes, I am one of "those people" who buys greeting cards way in advance so I don't have to make a special trip to the store for ever birthday, wedding, death etc.. 

I had been storing my cards all together in a couple of drawers but it was always impossible to find anything. 

So the first thing I did was pull everything out and set up dozens of piles for each holiday or card type:

I also took this time to make sure every card was nested with a matching envelope.  This was HUGE since I realized that I had dozens of extra envelopes.  Often stationary or card sets will come with one additional envelope that never gets used.  I also had extra envelopes from leftover christmas cards and even more from cards I included in a package sans envelope.  Well over the years, all those extras had started to add up.  

Girl Scout Thinking Day Costume and SWAPs ideas (India and Guatemala)


For the past two years my daughter's Girl Scout troop has participated in World Thinking Day, the goal of which is to teach the girls that they are part of a larger global community.  Each troop selects a different country and learns about it's customs and traditions during the regular meetings.

Then, every spring, all the area troops meet for a big Thinking Day celebration and present what they have learned about their respective countries to each other.  The girls wear the traditional clothing of their countries, sample traditional food, and put on a short presentations.   The troops also provide

Happy Valentine's Day! (Flashback Friday)

Happy Valentine's Day!  

I hope everyone can be surrounded by the people they love most today.. and if not, well then at least surround yourself with the things you love most (that would mean coffee, bacon and ice cream in my case!)  And if you aren't a Valentine's Day fan.. remember Saturday will be wonderful for a totally different reason:
source
Today's flashback Friday is going to be a little different, since instead of flashing back to some posts from a few years ago, I am instead only flashing back a few weeks and featuring all my favorite Valentine's day ideas from 2014!

This year we made two types of school Valentines.  For my 2nd grader, who is obsessed with Frozen, we did build your own snowmen:

For my preschooler, whose school has a 'no candy' rule we used old puzzles to create these cute little

Easy Custom DIY Baby Gate


It is time to admit that I need to baby proof the house.  The baby is crawling, pulling up and cruising around and everything waist-level and lower is at risk.   The other day, when I caught him making his way up the steps, I knew I needed to install a baby gate.. and I needed to do it FAST. 

I have a huge collection of baby gates and have been temporarily using a compression one at the bottom of the steps, but it was just SO UGLY.  It also was really hard for the older kids to use (they couldn't put it back up by themselves.) Frequently, the kids would run upstairs and the steps would be left ungated.  It is pointless to have an ugly gate hanging around if half the time it isn't even installed.  I knew I could do better and so I decided to design my own.

I had 4 goals for the new gate:
1. It had to be easy to open
2. It had to self-close and latch
3. It had to be comparable in price to a store bought gate with those characteristics
3. It had to be PRETTY

Why #4?  Well, the stairs are the very first thing you see when you walk though my front door.  Even

How Easy Is It to Replace A Cracked MacBook Screen? (The Real Story)

I'm so excited so many of you decided to join my Pinterest group boards I talked about yesterday!  I'm still adding new pinners, so if you are interested in joining.. just let me know.
Now, onto a tutorial that I wasn't going to post, but after a few people mentioned that they would like to know how easy it really was to replace a cracked laptop screen  I thought I would give you a little run down of how it went for me.

I want to premise this by saying I AM IN NO WAY a professional computer repair person.  And it is highly likely that self-replacing your laptop screen will void the warranty.  If you attempt this and something goes wrong, I am not responsible.  This is just my personal experience.

One of the hazards of being a blogger is that I constantly on the computer.. and one of my favorite

Cutting Back on Pinterest, And Why I Need YOUR Inspiration!

Calling all my fellow Pinterest pinners!!  I need to have a little heart to heart with you about a major time suck in my life.. Pinterest. 
image source
Lately I have been feeling a little overwhelmed by the huge numbers of pins going through my feed.  There are so many great boards out there, and I've been following every blogger that I love, and I just can't keep up anymore.  (I remember when I used to be able to see EVERY SINGLE new pin.)  I feel like, for my sanity, I need to really pare down to my absolute favorite pinners.

Just like I said I wanted to be smarter with my time on social media, I feel the same way about Pinterest. More isn't necessarily better.

So what does this have to do with you?  In a perfect world, I would follow all of my readers' boards, but that is impossible.  So instead of searching for the best pins out there, I thought I would let you bring them to me. (That sure would be nice of you.. )

To do that, I have started 4 new GROUP boards split into my personal favorite categories.
(includes kid's crafts, paper crafts, sewing/quilting, printables, etc)

I would LOVE for you to contribute to them.  Pin your favorite pins and the things that you stumble upon that really inspire you.  Not only will your pins be shared with me, but they will also be shared with all 4,600 of my Pinterest followers.  It is a great way for us to share our inspiration with each other.
 
My fellow bloggers, please feel free to promote your latest posts (assuming they fall into one of those categories of course) and blog readers, if you find something fantastic I would love to know about it.  The point of these boards is to INSPIRE one another.

And if you don't want to contribute, that is cool too.  Feel free to follow my four new boards though!

So that is my pitch.. If you are interested/willing to join any (or all) of the boards, please leave me your Pinterest name (or email) and I will add you.  I'm looking forward to seeing YOUR pins!

Room Staging for MLS Listing Photos (Flashback Friday)

Before I get to today's Flashback Friday, I wanted to say thank you to all the people who reached out to me after Wednesday's post.   I really appreciate the positive feedback and encouragement.  Since I wrote that post I have begun a "no screentime" policy for myself whenever my kids are around (which is pretty much 8am-8pm.)  I am hoping this doesn't have a huge negative impact on my blogging, but only time will tell. 

Now.. On with Flashback Friday!  

In the summer of 2011 we sold our Boston "Money Pit" after owning it less than 9 months.  We did make some major changes, like gutting the kitchen, but most of it remained unchanged. 

When we bought the house, it had wallowed on the market for 7 months, and had taken multiple price reductions.  We ended up closing on it for under asking. 
On the other hand, when we listed it (for 10% more than we paid for it 7 months earlier), we had four offers within 24 hours of hitting the MLS, some for more than the asking price.  

What do I think was the big difference (along with an updated kitchen)?   Staging.

What I've Learned By Hitting (and Missing) My Blogging Goals: January In Review

January was a whirlwind month for me.  I am going to do a round up of all my projects at the end of this post.. so if you are looking for projects, feel free to scroll on down.  But first I wanted to take a little time to write about some things that have been weighing on me lately.

Earlier in the year, I set out some goals for myself (both for the blog and personally) and I wanted to use this time to reflect on how well things are going and if I need to make changes.  I found that looking back on what I set out for myself not even 30 days ago has really opened my eyes to things I like and don't like about my blog and how it is influencing both my personal and online life. 

First, on the blogging side:
  1. Find my voice
Ironically this post is actually in response to this exact goal.  Normally I would never have written this out for you to read.  I always have focused on PROJECTS PROJECTS PROJECTS (since hey.. this isn't Dr. Phil) but since my new goal is to be more real, I decided to share my feelings with you.

The blog community is changing, and not 100% for the better (in my opinion.) I feel like there is a lot of great chatter out there, but unfortunately, it is all getting eaten up by the fast frenzy that is social media and Pinterest.  It is starting to feel like you are only as good as you latest and greatest project.  You can have a post go viral, and have thousands of views, and dozens of new facebook fans.. Your instagram account may blow up.. but in a flash it is over.  Everyone moves on to the next great project.. and you are left feeling (I don't know a better word): used. 

And I will admit, I am just as guilty of it as anyone else.  I have hundreds of blogs in my reader.  I get notified of at least 100-150 new posts EVERY.DAY.  And of course I don't read them all.. I skim the titles, maybe join a linky party or two, stop by a couple which catch my eye, pin a few projects, mark the rest as read.. and move on.

And it seems like a lot of blogs are going that way.  With readers picking out the highlights, and not really developing a 'relationship' with bloggers like we would have before.  Jennifer at Rambling Rennovater said it best in her epic ode to blogging:
There is a lot of noise in my life that detracts from the joy of blogging. Each new person I follow on Twitter or Instagram, each blog that I add to my reader, deflects my attention from what is already there. We live in a society where more is better. Where more subscribers makes you a more successful blogger and more Facebook fans makes you more influential.

But we know the numbers are not the whole truth - even if the social media marketers and brand sponsors try to convince us otherwise.
That is why I think a post like this is important even though it is never going to make it to Pinterest. (Heck, it probably will barely get read), but it shows you the 'real' me.  I am more than just my projects.. My blog can't be boiled down to one pretty picture on a Pinterest board.  There is someone behind it, who struggles to keep a good balance.  

I often find myself falling into the trap of spending more time promoting my content, than actually working on my content.. and often that is to the detriment of my family.  In the struggle to make myself heard, I am spending time away from the things I should be focusing on.

Heather Lynne from Raising Memories really struck a nerve with me when she re-focused her blog and re-prioritized her blogging career. She wanted to limit the amount of time she was spending on her blog vs. spending with her family... and I definitely understand that. Ultimately, Heather Lynne didn't feel successful, and decided to completely step away from her blog for the month of February.  (A move I completely understand and respect. I applaud her for doing it, since it is quite courageous to do so.)  She took drastic action in hopes of getting a dramatic result and I truly hope that it works for her and she can come back to find the right balance.

I have begun to find that my blog is defining me.  I look at the world though the lens of my blog.. "Wow! That would be a great project for the blog" or "This recipe is really good, I wonder if I should blog about it.."  I see something cool and immediately take a photo for instagram, or tweet about it.  People are now immediately associating me with my blog.  My friends and family are constantly giving me ideas, and I love to share my successes with them.

But when is it all too much?  When do you start losing who you are and start being nothing but "that blogger"? That is a hard line to define sometimes, which is why I am in awe of Heather Lynne and  her ability to pull the plug and step away.  I feel like if I did that, I would be missing an actual piece of myself.  But I do think I need to work on my moderation.  I know like I am constantly saying that (and have been since 2010) but I still haven't gotten a handle on it.

Which leads me to:
2. Get more organized with my social media
Notice I didn't say "Spend more time on social media"? Since that is definitely NOT the goal.  I want to work smarter not harder.  I won't lie.. I want my blog to be successful, so I will have to play the 'social media game', but I have to always remember that my job is not social media.. my job is BLOGGING.  

Ironically, I do think I have been doing much better with this goal this month.  I am engaging with a lot of people (especially on Facebook.)  The problem with the book of face, is how it screens out what people see.  So although I love being myself over there and sharing things with everyone, it is still hard to get to 'know' everybody like I wish I could. 
I have been having a little more fun on Instagram, and of course twitter (which comes in fits and spurts) and I am finally dipping my toes into the waters of Google+.   I also have been much better about using Pinterest more consistently.  
All of this 'promotion' must be working because I had more pageviews in the month of January than I have ever had (since moving to my thekimsixfix.com URL.) 

I want to tell you that I am using some social media scheduling apps to make this a lot easier on myself.  I do go through and manually check all my notifications so if you do respond or ask me a question, send me a PM or email I will eventually get back to you.  But understand how I am not always immediately available, even if it seems like I'm tweeting, posting or pinning!

3. Attend Haven and BlogHer 2014
As of now, this is still the plan. I have my tickets for BlogHer.. and am trying to plan my trip to Atlanta for Haven, but there is no big rush.. yet.

4. Introduce Flashback Fridays
I hope you all are enjoying this series. I have been having a blast looking through my old photos when I'm preparing the new posts. I find pictures like this, which melt my heart and remind me of how fast the time is going.  
E: Dec 2009
J: Nov 2009
Baby J: Jun 2013
It brings up the same sentiment that I talked about earlier.  And can be summarized best with a quote from my favorite 1980s bad boy: 

Those kids are barely recognizable now.  They have grown up so fast.  I want to make sure I am enjoying them in every stage, since one day it will all be over.

"Do You Want to Build A Snowman?" Frozen's Olaf Valentine

If your kids are anything like mine they are OBSESSED with Disney's Frozen.  My second grader really really really wanted to do Frozen themed Valentine's for her school swap this year, but I haven't been able to find any commercial ones.

Of course there is always Pinterest! A quick search gave me some ideas, and I let my daughter pick out her favorite.  She fell in love with One Creative Mommy's idea of a marshmallow Olaf.

This is our version:

Our Olaf has a few different components than Heidi's.  We used the flat square S'more Mallows (also known as Stacker Marshmallows) so it would be easier to fit in the bag.  I put one in whole and cut the corners off a second since Olaf has a funky shaped head!  The rest of his body is made up of one standard and 2 mini-marshmallows.  
 
For eyes I used Wilton Candy Eyeballs since they look just like Olaf's.  It was impossible to find candy corn for a nose, so instead we used orange Mike and Ike's. We did use M&Ms minis for the buttons, and pretzel sticks for the arms. 

When we assembled our 'practice' snowman I used some shredded wheat for his hair, and some black paste food coloring for his mouth.  (Of course those components weren't actually included in the Valentine.)

For the tag, I didn't use Heidi's printable.  After attending the Frozen Sing-A-Long (told you we were obsessed!) at the movie theater today, I couldn't get the song "Do you want to build a snowman?" out of my head.
 

Here is close up of my label: (Sorry it isn't isn't a downloadable printable, but the image of Olaf is trademarked and I can only technically use it for personal use.)

Now, as much as my girls love Frozen, I love my new Silhouette Cameo, and I thought this would be my first project of getting my feet wet cutting out labels:
 
Oh my gosh! Did I say how much I LOVE MY Silhouette??!! 

I glued my fancy-smancy labels to the cardstock closure on the top of the bag. Doing a label is nice since you can cover the staples.

Hopefully the kids enjoy them as much as we did!

Not a Snowman fan? 
 Check out my 10 most popular school Valentines! 
Top 10 School Valentine Ideas

100 FREE Printable School Valentines

 
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