Category Archives: Crafts

Striped and Flower Petal Denim Pumpkins

Bet you were hoping I was done with the denim projects, huh?

Nope! Hahahaha!

I’m 97.328% sure this is the last post about denim pumpkins though, you lucky ducks!

You already know all about the braided denim pumpkin.

I don’t like to play favorites, but there is a reason I shared its textured gorgeousness first.

It wasn’t my first trip to the denim pumpkin patch though!

On my first trip I created a striped denim pumpkin made out of strips of cut-up jeans. I didn’t measure. I didn’t worry about straight lines. In other words, a project right up my alley!

The only thing you’ll need to make this pumpkin is a styrofoam pumpkin, old jeans (or those new ones that look old), scissors, hot glue and twine.

I used shorter strips of denim to cover the majority of the pumpkin and then finished with longer strips to cover up the remaining bits. The longer strips then became the foundation for the stem, which was just wrapped in twine and sealed with a bit of glue.

The last denim pumpkin I made was what I’m calling a flower petal pumpkin. Or maybe it has a slight acorn vibe to it?

I actually like this one more in person than I do in the pictures.

Most everything is better in real life though! Except skunks.

I gave the pumpkin a quick coat of really dark blue paint.

Then I hot glued denim circles around the top of the pumpkin and added a branch for a stem.

Faster than you can drink a pumpkin spiced latte it’s DONE!

These Dollar Store pumpkins are hollow, so it’s easy to cut off the stem it comes with and add a branch instead.

Not going to lie – it was fun to experiment with this project!

It’s a shame I ran out of pumpkins because I do have a few more makeover ideas.

Plus, a half a pair of jeans left!

These pumpkins might not be everyone’s jam. Shocking, I know!

I’m cool with that though.

I hope when you read posts like this one, you might feel encouraged to challenge yourself to reuse or repurpose something in a way that brings you a bit of happiness when you look at it, use it or gift it. You never know where the creative journey might take you!

 

Horseshoe Pumpkins Go Mainstream

Questions have come up recently about my DIY horseshoe pumpkin.

This is, in part, because my braided denim pumpkin and the horseshoe pumpkin by extension were honored with a Salvaged Junk feature on Funky Junk Interiors last week.

You know how much I love salvaged junk, so this really made my day!

When I told my 7-year-old son about this good news, I thought he’d say, “cool.”

Instead, he reached over, patted my shoulder and with all sincerity said, “I’m happy for you.”

This might not seem like a big deal to you, but I’m living through a very long season of fart jokes. In that moment, hope sprang eternal that he might someday grow into an emotionally mature young man.

That was, by far, more rewarding than any work accolade.

In the two years since we made our horseshoe pumpkins out of authentic, seen-some-trail-time-on-an-actual-horse horseshoes, it appears this idea has made it into the retail mainstream.

It doesn’t take them long, does it?

A friend messaged me this past weekend with a picture of a horseshoe pumpkin she scored at a store called Real Deals. It looked really cool! It was a little more symmetrical and less rusty than my version. I loved it.

A reader asked me if it was possible to make a horseshoe pumpkin without using a welder.

My gut reaction was “no.” I’m still leaning hard in that direction.

My second reaction was “maybe” because I can’t discount the ingenuity of a determined and creative mind!

It wouldn’t look like mine or any others that are for sale right now though. The horseshoes are heavy, so keeping them in place would be the tricky part. Perhaps you could do it with a heck of a lot of wire and a dowel for the stem? Horseshoes are magnetic, so maybe there’s something possible with magnets? Perhaps you could create a discreet base to secure the horseshoes?

I’m sure someone will figure it out!

Here’s the step-by-step of how we made our version. It’s a lot easier if you have 8 horseshoes that are the exact same size and shape, which you can see, we did not.

If you are intent on making one yourself and don’t have a welder, I think any auto/machine shop in town could weld one together for you in 10 minutes. Perhaps someone in your neighborhood has a welder that you could trade a plate of cookies in exchange for this very easy welding project?

It’s worth a shot! Everyone loves cookies!

Or, you could try Etsy. I found a bunch of sellers there offering horseshoe pumpkins for $30 – 40. I liked this rustic one and this painted one was nice. If Amazon is more your style, this mini rustic horseshoe pumpkin was less than $15 earlier this week.

This is the third year I’ve pulled out our horseshoe pumpkins and they still make me happy! Hurray for dumpster diving and all the salvaged junk projects out there!

 

 

affiliate links used in the post

 

DIY Geometric Mirror Using Children’s Blocks

A friend and I were discussing DIY fails the other day. Always a cheery topic.

The reality of my life is that some projects turn out and others…not so much.

She mentioned that IF I have flops, I don’t share them on the ol’ blog.

Well, duh! I don’t share pictures of the gravity-defying things my hair does when I wake up in the morning either. But maybe I should. It would certainly shock and awe.

I do try to share the foibles that inevitably come with most of my projects though.

Today I’m sharing a project FILLED with foibles. It’s cup runneth over with what NOT to do.

But if you stand about 10-feet back and squint one eye at the finished product, you might say, “Dang! That looks sweet!” If I’m being brutally honest, a lot of days, that’s good enough for me.

Here’s how the project started…

My daughter has had the same small mirror in her bedroom for practically her entire life. It’s not a good mirror. It has a cheap frame around it and the finish was made worse by me letting a 5-year-old “help” paint the mirror from pink to purple. If you haven’t let a 5-year-old help you paint yet, you’re smarter than me really missing out.

A combination of time, a few moves, cheap construction and a bad paint job made the mirror less than ideal.

This is, to me, what makes a mirror a good candidate for a DIY experiment. One of those crafty ideas you’re not sure will work, but if it did work I would be sure to humble brag about it it would be pretty amazing.

My crafty idea was to see if I could use these children’s geometric blocks to makeover the mirror. Pretty much every preschool classroom on the planet (I hardly ever exaggerate) has a set of these wooden pattern blocks.

My kids loved them so much at school that I bought a set for home use. The kiddos hardly ever used them at home, of course have outgrown the wood blocks, but they are really cool!

Just the wrong color for what I had in mind.

Here’s some more brutal honesty. When my DIY projects flop, it’s usually because I lack the attention-to-detail the project requires. Meticulous measuring? Not my thing. Fine precision? Not my thing. More than 3 steps? Not my thing.

If I had calculated the trajectory to the moon, you would have ended up on Jupiter instead. I would have said, “Ah, close enough! At least you made it to space! I was worried there for a second when you blasted off!”

But I digress.

I started out by playing around with the various shapes trying to see what might look interesting and what might actually fit on the mirror frame.

Then I drew a template and traced it onto the mirror frame. So far, so good.

But! There’s always a but.

It ended up being just a tad off.

If you are a perfectionist you might want to skip over this next part.

Instead of starting over and redrawing the template, I just fudged the blocks a little to make it work.

Classic me.

Adhering the blocks to the mirror frame was a bit tricky. They are slippery little suckers! It was hard to keep them in an exact position. That’s why I decided to use hot glue. Once I attached them, they weren’t going to move.

Hot glue has three downsides for this project

1. Once I attached the blocks, they were weren’t going to move. HA! It was good if I put the block down in the exact right position. It was bad if I didn’t. Please refer to the above list of why my projects flop for an indication of how well this part of the process went.

2. If anything happens to the mirror – Say it gets a hard jolt while falling off the temporary place you’ve hung it, some of the shapes can easily pop off. Yes, this happened to me! And it wasn’t immediately after hanging it. It was 20 minutes later after I’d done the victory dance. I just had to shake my head when I heard the crash.

3) The glob of hot glue raises the blocks up ever-so-slightly. It’s not noticeable until you go to paint the mirror and realize it doesn’t have a clean finish because a shape here and there is slightly higher than another one.

(I think the below picture is from before I glued everything down because it looks wonkier than the final version. Wonkier is a technical DIY term.)

After the blocks were glued onto the mirror frame, I taped off the mirror surface so I could spray paint the frame and finally finish this project!

In hindsight (and by hindsight I mean immediately after I started painting), I would have painted the frame and the blocks separately.

It was a pain to get the spray paint in all the nooks and crannies of this project. And if a block falls off, then you have an unpainted surface underneath and special care has to be made to replace the block in the exact same position.

It also made it difficult to sand any imperfections between paint coats. By imperfections I mean the dust particles or bugs that landed on the mirror. So. many. bugs.

By the way, when the blocks fell off, I had the opportunity (see how I made that a positive thing?) to reattach them with an all-purpose, heavy duty glue.

In small batches, this approach seemed to work well and those blocks are much more secure now. Lesson learned.


I’m laying it bare with how this project went because I want you to know that DIY projects (mine and I’m willing to bet most people’s) are not picture perfect processes. Things happen. Mistakes are made. This particular project had more hiccups than most. 

But! There’s always a but!

That’s how I learn. Fail. Try Again. Fail. Adjust. Readjust. Tweak. Improve.

It can be hard to go through that process in the public eye. No one wants to share how their freshly spray painted project got attacked by a swarm of gnats because they left it outside to dry! Twice. Okay, three times.

I have to laugh at myself and not take things too seriously. It’s not like I’m sending people into space.

The Internet needs to come with a warning sign similar to the one on car mirrors. “Projects on this website/blog/social media may appear way more glamorous than real life.”

Real life DIY can be messy, imperfect and an oddly-satisfying experience.

I’m not entirely displeased with how this geometric mirror makeover ultimately turned out. Especially if I squint and stand 10-feet back from it!

Most importantly, I learned from this experience and know how to do it better next time.

And there WILL be a next time.

After all, I have an entire bucket of blocks to use up!

Happy creating, everyone!

 

Braided Denim Pumpkin

I have these illusions that I’m an unique, one-of-a-kind, broke-the-mold sort of person.

But I’m really just like most people. In fact, I’m just like the MILLIONS of other crafty people in the world who have fallen down the rabbit hole known as The Dollar Store and emerged with a styrofoam pumpkin.

Okay, okay. I have six Dollar Store pumpkins. Six. But that’s all, I swear.

And you can’t just buy a Dollar Store pumpkin and be done with it. Nooo. No way. That’s against the code. Something crafty must be done with those Dollar Store pumpkins or you develop an eye twitch and bad luck for 7 years.

Or so I’ve heard.

I decided my Dollar Store pumpkin was a good candidate for a denim makeover. If you’ve been reading this blog in the last few months, you will know I have been repurposing Handy Husband’s old jeans. I’m determined to put this material to good use and this might be my favorite project until the next one yet. (I say that every time!)

To make a braided denim pumpkin, gather up your supplies: old jeans, styrofoam pumpkin, scissors, hot glue gun, needle and thread.

Then you’ll begin the most gratifying part of this project – cutting up a pair of jeans!

It feels a little naughty the first time you do it. Then, it’s sort of empowering. Like you are a superhero saving the entire neighborhood from an accidental flash of your husband’s boxer briefs from the blown out crotch in his jeans saving the planet by repurposing an item destined for the landfill.

You’ll be cutting the jeans into long, thin strips. I pretty much winged it because this is not a project you should over think. It’s a Dollar Store pumpkin, not the Mona Lisa. My strips were approximately 1/3-inch wide by 10-inches long.

I’d say this project took a good chunk of the right leg of this pair of relaxed-fit jeans. Plan accordingly if you are working with skinny jeans.

This next part may or may not have been necessary. It’s just what happened while I was winging my way through the process. Since I didn’t want my braid to come unraveled before I attached it to the pumpkin, I held the 3 strips together and secured them with a couple of stitches of blue thread. I probably could have used hot glue, but this just seemed easier and less glue-stringy at the time.

Then I braided the denim and secured the other end of the braid with a few more hand stitches.

I repeated this process about twenty or so a million times.

The last part of the process was to hot glue my braided strips onto the pumpkin.

I did not want to add bulk to the bottom of the pumpkin, so I never glued an end of one braid on top of another braid. No overlapping, I did get the braids as close together as I could though to hide the orange styrofoam.

As the gaps between the glued-on braids started to close, I ended up cutting my braids to size because I didn’t need the final braids to be as long as the ones I started out with.

My original intent was to trim the very first and longest braids to fit close to the stem. However, I decided I liked the curly-Q effect, so I left a few.

Here’s how it turned out…

I also gave this faux pumpkin a stem upgrade! It’s super easy! I used a craft knife to cut off the styrofoam stem.

It turns out the pumpkin is hollow! That’s one mystery solved.

Then I shoved carefully inserted a branch into the pumpkin to act as a stem. I had intended on glueing the branch in and may need to in the future as the styrofoam breaks away, but for now, it doesn’t need it.

I love the texture the denim braids provide.

And since denim goes with everything, this pumpkin works with a variety of color schemes.

I’m smitten with this pumpkin. Absolutely adore it.

Beyond that, I’m happy I took an hour of “me time” to sit down and create something pretty for my home. This time it was a braided denim pumpkin. Next time…who knows?

Golf Ball Pumpkins

How does a non-golfing family end up with a bucket of golf balls?

I imagine it’s the usual way.

We scavenged for them.

In our version of “I Spy” we search the beach at low tide for golf balls hidden under rocks. At the top of the cliffs above the beach there is a park and it seems some golfers like hitting balls into the ocean. Naughty, naughty.

Collecting the golf balls is great fun, but I needed something to do with the growing collection other than take up an expensive hobby play golf.

My daughter and her friends transformed the first bunch into emojis.

That project was super cute, but it did not deplete the golf ball reserves.

As the days on the calendar moved closer to autumn, I knew there was only one thing to do…turn the rest of the golf balls into mini pumpkins.

And it’s so easy. Paint the golf balls and then hot glue on a stem! That’s it!

But because I like to hear the sound of my own typing, I’m going to riff a bit on this project.

First and foremost, no matter what type of paint you decide to use, painting round objects takes time.

So. Much. Time.

Pull on your patience pants because you cannot rush things. You need to make sure the paint is fully dry – not just dry to the touch – before you rotate the golf balls to paint another section.

Now, it turns out that plastic shot glasses make a perfect pedestal to hold the golf balls while painting. Again, just make sure they dry FULLY before you rotate.

Otherwise, the paint will get dinged up and that little fiasco will make you want to use those shot glasses for their intended purpose. Not that I know this from experience or anything.

Spray paint with primer would work great for transforming the golf balls into pumpkins. I ended up not finding the exact spray paint color I was looking for, so I decided to experiment with mixing acrylic paints to achieve a custom color.

What happened next was a happy accident. I didn’t really know how much paint this project would require. Covering over the writing on the balls ended up taking several coats of paint. I didn’t count, but 4 or 5 coats maybe? And this was over the course of a few days.

Essentially, I was mixing the paint each time I brushed on a new layer. So that meant the balls ended up with slightly different colors. Pumpkins aren’t uniform. In fact, they are imperfect and quirky, so this worked for me.

I excel at justifying my DIY outcomes.

The pumpkin “stems” were procured from a shrub growing in my garden. I trimmed the twig to my desired size with scissors and glued it on with a dab of hot glue. I added the green twine (also with hot glue) as I thought it made my pumpkins look a little more pumpkin-esque.

Beware! The glued-on stems are a bit fragile. So if you’re going to take photos of your cute pumpkins and one rolls off the table…the stem is probably going to pop off and you’ll need to glue it back on. Not that this happened to me or anything.

*cough* twice *cough*

As I prepare to bathe the entire house in pumpkin-everything, I think my new golf ball pumpkins will find a home in a pretty bowl in my living room. Or on the dining room table. We’ll see.

Also, if pumpkins aren’t your thing – don’t tell anyone – that could turn ugly!

But if pumpkins really aren’t your thing, you could paint the golf balls red instead and make APPLES!!

Wow. That was a happy little plot twist. This blog. Always keeps you asking why on your toes.

 

P.S. Please don’t buy new golf balls for this project. Ask around first. Golfers will often have a ton of practice balls that aren’t in great shape that they will be willing to part with for free or cheap.

Repurposing Denim Belt Loops to Hang Towels

I recently read a New York Times article entitled 5 Cheap(ish) Things That Could Disproportionately Improve Your Life.

I’m ALL about improving my life on the cheap(ish).

The author, Tim Herrera, wrote this:

“I never would’ve thought a thin, black, six-foot iPhone charging cable would change my life.

Yet here we are, and that magic cable is the Amazon Basics lightning-to-USB iPhone charging cable (also available in micro-USB). This little wonder of PVC and copper wiring solves an irritatingly modern non-problem problem: the three-foot leash that is the stock charging cable usually bundled with most smartphones.

Cue the tiny violin.

But once you’re able to roam just a little farther, you realize how much that three-foot leash affects the way you navigate your living space. How you orient yourself at home while charging your phone changes. The happiness of lying on my couch while charging far outweighed the cable’s $7.99 price tag.” 

YES! Exactly what he said about an ‘irritatingly modern non-problem problem!’

(Also, I need one of those cords. STAT.)

I recently had an irritating non-problem problem that was wreaking havoc on how I utilized that room I can never escape my kitchen.

Please note that ‘wreaking havoc’ is way over the top a tad bit melodramatic, but I’m taking creative license with that phrase because it is Monday and I can.

This problem was kitchen towels that did not have a hanging loop. (I had to Google what that thing was even called, by the way.)

A few of my kitchen towels had a hanging loop already attached when I purchased them. The other offenders rest did not.

THE INJUSTICE!

Enter a simple solution to my kitchen irritant. It didn’t cost me a dime. But man, I get an irrational amount of happiness over kitchen towels that actually hang nicely and don’t fall off the hooks I have set up.

I was going to add a little length of ribbon to make a hanging loop, but I didn’t have any ribbon in my craft stash that was wide enough for this particular project – unless I wanted to use Valentine’s Day-themed ribbon. There are limits to my LOVE for drying dishes, so I passed on that idea.

I did have a pair of my husband’s denim jeans though!

He’ll never miss them!

I cut the belt loops off to use as the hanging loops on my towels.

They were the right size, color and the denim will probably outlast the towels.

I elected to place my loop on the corner of the towel because that’s where the loop is placed on my other towels. There’s no right or wrong here – go with whatever floats your boat!

Now, if you had a sewing machine this next part would take 3.2 seconds.

I don’t.

I stitched the ends of the loops onto the towel with a needle and thread instead. I wasn’t timing it, but it took slightly longer than 3.2 seconds to finish this project.

My sewing skills can be categorized as stitch the crap out of it and hope it holds novice.

No exaggeration.

So if my travel sewing kit and I can knock out this project, you can too!

This is how my new hanging loop looked when I finished.

The thread blended nicely – thank goodness. I tried to hide most of the stitches on the reverse side (the front of the towel) in the double layer of fabric edging.

And now, the best part!

Kitchen towels that don’t fall off the hooks!

It’s the small things, isn’t it?

It still makes me ridiculously happy to see them all lined up there!

Add this project to the list of cheap(ish) things that can disproportionately improve your life!

The only problem I’ve had with this project is that my family STILL has not gotten the memo that the kitchen towels – all of them – now have hanging loops.

It’s been weeks, people! Help a mama out!

I still have a lot of denim fabric to repurpose now that I’ve started cutting up Handy Husband’s old jeans. I’ve made denim flowers for this wreath, but I need more ideas! If you come across any clever ones, let me know!

Also, if you have a cheap(ish) thing that has brought disproportionate happiness to your life, for goodness sake, don’t keep it to yourself! Tell me what it is!

Trash to Treasure Mirror

Pop quiz!

Do you remember the trash I pulled out of our neighbor’s dumpster? Then I fast walked raced home with it like “there’s nothing to see here, nothing to see.”

It still makes me feel weird.

But I loved it! Still do!

I turned that junky object into a 4th of July wreath, which I thought turned out pretty cool.

I also laugh at my own jokes, so take all of that self assessment with a grain of salt!

I mentioned this junky treasure might not stay a wreath.

As the decorating fates would have it, I came up with a more practical use for it and I’m nothing if not practical.

Which brings me to our downstairs bathroom. It is a GEM. An absolute gem…from several decades ago.

I’m beyond grateful to even have this space, but the mirror and all of the other fixtures are quite dated. I should probably take pictures for you, but I haven’t figured out how to contort my body in such a way as to get a clear picture of the tiny space.

Maybe if I took up yoga…

Nah!!

Anyway, I’ve been casually looking for a new mirror I could hang in the bathroom. Something I can take with me when I move. Nothing has really struck my fancy yet.

I have to tell you, online shopping aside, it is amazing what you do not purchase when you have to run it through the filter of ‘do I want to carry this home in my backpack?’ Maybe that’s the real reason Handy Husband likes Ireland so much…no Hobby Lobby, no HomeGoods, etc.

I had an inkling the really dated mirror in our bathroom just might fit inside my junky circle thing though.

And lo and behold, it DID! Spatial reasoning for the win!

This was clearly a match made in dumpster heaven!

Now, I know you’re wondering what I have against plastic peach mirrors?

If it was a Millennium Pink mirror, I might embrace its trendiness, but alas, it was more 1980s pastel peach and that hasn’t made a comeback. Yet.

So my creepy-looking hand (this picture makes it look weird) and I got to work covering over the peach part of the mirror.

Rope and hot glue. Two things I always have on hand.

Hmm. That sounded creepy.

Must be the hand talking.

Before my kids could give up on hollering “mom, Mom, MOOOOMMM!” from the other room and decide to come find me, I had finished giving the mirror its makeover.

So basically, it felt like forever, but it only took a couple of minutes.

You’ll notice I took these pictures before hanging the mirror up in the bathroom. I didn’t even stop to get out the good camera.

This was for three reasons.

  1. I get excited about these things.
  2. Still have not taken up yoga.
  3. The brick background is pretty.

Oops…there is a 4th reason.

I actually needed Handy Husband’s big muscles help to hang the darn thing because the screw the mirror was originally hung on was stuck in the wall. Could not get that sucker out. And he was off doing something responsible…his job.

This mirror is going in a bathroom the kids don’t use, so I’m not worried about toothpaste and other gunk getting on it.

And if it does, big whoop. I’m fairly certain by then I might have come up with another use for my junky treasure the materials in this free makeover can handle it.

If all else fails, I should be able to easily restore this mirror to all of its 1980s peach glory.

So, basically, this entire post can be summed up as, I’m having fun over here with my trash to treasure projects!

This house has been a hard nut to crack from a decorating and settling-in perspective, so I’m happy when I feel even the smallest amount of progress has been made.

If you’ve done a trash to treasure makeover, I’d love to see it!

Junky 4th of July Wreath

I went dumpster diving and found treasure!

Let me clarify something though. Dumpsters in Ireland are called skips.

They range in size from 2.5 cubic yards to 35 cubic yards. You can also order a gigantic bag for your yard waste/other debris and that is called a baby skip. Aw, so cute!

Aren’t you glad for all the random information you learn on this blog?

Here’s what a skip looks like when it’s being hauled away on the lorry. This is not the one that held my treasure though. It held some old windows that were replaced in our house.


I walk by skips in front of houses and businesses all the time.

I ALWAYS stop and look in them.

Who doesn’t?!?!

I have often cursed our lack of a car when I’ve seen something neat and salvageable in these skips.

Well, my friends, my fortune changed when I ran across a skip full of junk outside our neighbor’s house one day.

One particular item caught my eye, but I walked passed it!

When I got home, I couldn’t stop thinking about this junky object, so I nonchalantly walked back down the sidewalk, snatched the junky object out of the bin and fast-walked back to my house.

As my son would say, “nothing suspicious is going on here!”

This was my treasure.

Of all the things I could have taken out of that dumpster, I’m sure my neighbors didn’t expect me to take this thing.

I don’t exactly know its purpose.

I’m sure one of you smarty pants out there will tell me.

If its purpose was gross, I don’t want to know.

That would be my luck. Also, soap is my friend.

Anyway, I showed that picture to a friend and she asked me what I was going to do with this…thing.

Besides love it forever?

I’m not exactly sure what its long term purpose will be, but here’s how I’m using it today.


Ooh, la, la!

I dove into my country roots and made a junky 4th of July wreath!

The flowers are made with a lot of hot glue, buttons, felt and Handy Husband’s jeans.

Don’t worry, they weren’t his good jeans.


I had the bright idea to add an outline of the continental U.S. to the inside of my wreath.

Boy.

My bright ideas can be a pain in the behind.

Let’s just say this is an interpretive version of the map because it was harder than I anticipated to thread embroidery floss through the squares in the complicated shape of the U.S.

Sorry Great Lakes. And Louisiana. And…the rest of you.

I used white embroidery thread for the map because I thought it would be a good contrast with the rusted wire.

Unfortunately, I neglected to realize that all of my walls are white.

Therefore, the white thread blends in and virtually disappears with every possible background in my home except this one.

*insert forehead slap here*

If this project ends up finding a more permanent spot in my home, I’m going to have to add a different color thread to the map. And THAT will be fun. I’d probably also take off the flowers since they are great for 4th of July decorating, but my minimalistic self couldn’t handle them all year long.

What do you think of my ‘junky find’ turned 4th of July wreath?

For a project that used materials I already had on hand, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. Plus, the 4th is one of my favorite American holidays.

More importantly, who wants to go dumpster diving with me? I promise it’s fun!


P.S. Here’s something else I picked up – not out of a dumpster, but off the side of the road and turned into art for my home.

Memory Rocks

“Tell me a story, mama.”

Every night when I go through the bedtime routine with my son, he asks me to tell him a story. A real story.

THE PRESSURE!!!

He likes stories with drama and danger the best. Like that time I got a flat tire going 60 mph down I-84. Or when the security guards at JC Penney used to duck behind garment racks when they were trying to catch someone stealing.

The problem is my memory is TERRIBLE when it comes to these little, every day memories and experiences. Especially ones from decades ago.

I’m not sure what I’m doing with all my brain cells, but saving up countless stories to tell my 7-year-old is definitely not on the list.

I have found the more I tell him stories, the more I jog my memory about something else. However, my life has not been THAT exciting. I’m running out of G-rated danger and drama stories for the blood-thirsty kid.

Tangible items also help jog my memory. Seeing a picture from a trip, for instance. Or picking up a childhood momento or souvenir.

One such ‘souvenir’ that inevitably makes it home from day trips, vacations and walks around the block are rocks.

If you’re the parent of little kids, you probably have a washing machine full of rocks. Oy!

For the rocks that are purposefully collected, I typically dump them into a special bowl. The pocketfuls of gravel…those go back to nature.

It dawned on me one day (thanks, brain cells) that if I write a date and location on the rocks, I’ll have another way to jog my memory about a really cool moment in time.

I have this rock from 2004, which I collected in South Dakota while on a road trip with my dad. We saw Crazy Horse, Mount Rushmore and hundreds of miles of fields.

I have this rock from my mom. It was purchased, not found.

She gave me a handful of heart-shaped rocks over the years. I had moved away from home when she started this gesture and I think it was her way of telling me her heart was always with me. Or, perhaps, I was never far from her heart.

Either way, message received and cherished.

Here’s one from recently.

My son found this rock on the beach in Ireland.

It was one of those perfect, freeze time sort of days. I hope I will always remember his little voice saying, “Mama! Mom! Look at this one!”

I could show you more, but you don’t have all day and I’m getting uncomfortably sentimental over these darn memory rocks.

Happy collecting, friends. Your memory will thank you later.

….

P.S. Don’t swipe rocks from places where it’s not allowed. The planet thanks you. Over and out.

Tourist Maps Make Great Wrapping Paper

Monday’s post was a little heavy, emotionally speaking, so let’s reel it back in, shall we? Besides, this blog, similar to the inner workings of my brain, thrives on randomness and abrupt topic changes. Keep up! Keep up! The whiplash is worth it.

How many of you have traveled someplace new and picked up a tourist map (or 3 because each of your kids needs their own map even if they ask you to hold it 7.3 seconds later, thank you very much)?

*raises hand*

Then how many of you have chucked that map(s) in the recycle bin or garbage when you were finished?

*raises hand*

If one of your tourist maps survives the trip in good shape, don’t throw it away!


You can reuse it as wrapping paper!

It’s fun. It’s unique. It’s economical.

It works for any gender or age.


And those map creases are an excellent cutting guide.

I did have to repair a slight tear in one of the creases with a bit of tape, but when I’m wrapping a Nerf gun for a 7-year-old, perfection is not at the top of my priority list.

Actually, perfection is rarely at the top of my priority list. Makes life so much easier!


I was carrying these presents through the mall on our way to a birthday party at a miniature golf place. I stopped to pick up a free sample of a sports drink the college kids were handing out. I meant to do a “grab a free bottle fly by” because we were on a timeline, but the kid stopped me and said, “is that map wrapping paper?”

I said “Well, it’s a map that I’m using as wrapping paper.”

“From a real place?” he replied.

“Nope! From a fake place!”

Kidding, I didn’t say that. I thought it, but my internal filter was working that day.

What I actually said was, “Yes, from our trip to Copenhagen.”

“WOW! That’s such a good idea!”

As a side note, I do love it when college kids think my ideas are great. It gives me that “I’ve still got it” feeling.

Then I talked to him for another 3 minutes about how expensive we found Denmark to be compared to Ireland while Handy Husband tapped his foot waited patiently for me to stop holding court with my adoring fans.


Not only is a tourist map a great item to reuse as wrapping paper, but it is also a conversation starter. These win-win ideas make me ridiculously happy!

And in this case, since I reused and thereby helped the planet, I think this was a win-win-win idea.