Friday, April 4, 2014

Craft Room Makeover with Homework Station CHEAP!

After the birth of our third child, I had complications that required emergency surgery.  I was unable to do a lot of the things I used to do for quite some time.  The recovery has been lengthy but I feel like I am ready to get back in the game, slowly but surely.  I am under a lay off at work, so I have had extra time to bond with my new baby and recover.  I have also had a lot of time to look at this house and nit pick all the things wrong that need to be updated.  I have been on a major updating spree.

First on the list was my craft "room".  Technically it's the dining room my dear husband let me transform to my work area.  I have rearranged, removed, added, you name it, trying to get it just right.  Here are some pictures to show how it started.

This worked great for a while but then the tables became "catch all's" for everything from mail to homework, groceries to laundry.  It was a hot mess.

I started cleaning everything out before taking pictures of it at it's worst, but here are some.

After searching through Pinterest and doing some research, I came up with an affordable solution.  I was able to get it done in one day which was great too.

What I used:

2-Five Shelf Book Shelves from Wal-Mart less than $30 each (total $60)
2-Three Shelf Book Shelves from Wal-Mart less than $20 each (total $40)
1-Flush unfinished door from Lowes about $23
2-Cans of Spray paint around $4 each (total $8)
16-Storage Bins from the Dollar Tree (Total $16)
Baskets I had on hand

Total Project Cost? Approximately $147

I'm so in love with this.  It's not as fancy or expensive as some other systems, but this does exactly what we need.  I had 2 large plastic drawer sets on wheels and 4 small ones (like you see under the table).  I was able to store away everything on to the shelves in the bins or baskets.  What couldn't fit in them, went in the short book shelves where they are harder to see.  My dining room is wide open into my living room.  The way it was before was becoming an eye sore to me.  Anytime someone came over, my craft cluster was the first thing you could notice.  Now, this just feels so much better.

My wall is 12 feet in length.  I put the two 5 shelf cases on each end against the wall.  Next, I turned the three shelf cases facing inward, to create the base for my table top.  We took the flush door purchased at Lowe's and spray painted a rustic black on the top and sides (took about 1 1/2 cans).  The door is 30 inches wide and each shelf was just over 29 inches in width, so it made the perfect fit.  The two plastic rolling bins underneath contain all of my daughter's craft supplies.

I have seen many great ideas to make work benches, craft stations, homework areas, ect.  This was very practical for us and the function is perfect.  The kids come straight in from school and have a snack at the counter, then move to this area to do their homework.  No school work where we eat thank goodness.  Here are some close ups of a few extra things I did to enhance our work station.

 Here is my current stash of all season fabric, ribbons for hair bows and thread.  I keep the seasonal fabric put up and out of sight until I need it.
 This side contains our rainbow looms, crochet/knitting, beads and sizzix tools.
 Our Lazy Susan full of school supplies was less than $1 to make!
I found the Lazy Susan in my Mom's garage sale pile, the cups we part of a 6 cup pack from the Dollar Tree and the crayon holders?  Baby food jars!  Everything is hot glued in place to keep from spilling.  The kids loved this idea.  Functional and used daily.  No more: "where is the homework box?" "why does the glue stick go missing so much?" "I can't find the scissors."  

Simple. Functional. Cheap.

I took a notebook and started writing down different options on how to make this.  I wrote the sizes and costs for closet storage systems, actual craft desks, and cube storage.  I went to Lowe's and took photos of different items and their price tags.  It may seem like a lot of work but it really wasn't.  We are all bad to just jump in to something without fully thinking it through and sometimes spend way too much.  I took about a week researching and planning the right way to set this up.  I knew I was going to need my husband to help get the big items with his truck and what day he was off, so I gave myself time to plan and I am so glad I did.  I really don't think these pictures do it justice.

Recycling items you have on hand for storage can save you a ton of money.  Also check Dollar Trees, Mighty Dollar, and thrift store before paying full price for any storage.  These collapsible bins can cost $6 and up depending on size and color.  I went to the Dollar Tree and bought all they had in two different sizes and made sure they were all in the same color family.  This worked perfect for me.
Another great trick was this one:
Can you guess what the cylinder containers are?  Good Start Formula containers!  I've been cleaning and saving them since she was born.  I wrapped some decorative scrapbook paper around them and sealed with double stick tape.  What you can't see is that I wrote on the top of each one in a sharpie what is stored in them: Buttons, elastic, bias tape, safety pins and so much more.  All those little items now have a safe place!

I really am happy with how it turned out.  Oh and that table and stool sticking out in the right hand corner of the picture?
My sewing machine and serger.  I love having these in front of the window for natural sunlight, it makes sewing so much easier when your eyes get tired.

So that's it, you have my craft and home work space make over directions!  The possiblities are endless so get busy creating one for yourself! 

Things to remember:

Measure, measure, measure.  Your wall space, the width, height and depth of the storage items you are looking at.  Draw it out.  You don't have to be an artist, just a ruler and some squares and rectangles is all you need to do!  Good luck!

Please let me know if you make one of your own, I'd love to see photos!  If you find this information helpful, please be sure to leave a comment and share!!

Until next time...

Amy...The Dixie Diva ;-)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

13 Days of Halloween Countdown Craft

I'm a little late posting this, but wanted to share it anyway.  I decided to do a 13 Days of Halloween Countdown activity with my kids this year.  With the new baby coming very soon, I feel like they are getting left out of a lot of our normal Halloween activities.  Mommy just can't do as much at 8 months pregnant with a chance of going early. :-(

So, after doing some searching I came up with a plan.  13 days started on the 19th.  I wrote down the dates and days, then compared to our schedule.  That allowed for easier planning.  Here's what I came up with:

Sat 10/19-Movie Marathon.  I had DVR'd all the Halloweentown's on Disney during the week so we could watch them all at once.

Sun 10/20-Decorate Sugar Cookies.  We bought a really cute kit at Wal-Mart for $6 that included 12 sugar cookies, icing and sprinkles all ready to go.

Mon 10/21-Library.  We went and picked out some Halloween books to read each night over the next week.

Tues 10/22-Spiderwebs.  I found a cute tutorial here to let them make window cling spider webs.  Super easy and cheap.

Wed 10/23-Coloring Pages.  I'm printing out some coloring pages I've found online for them to color after homework today.

Thurs 10/24-Make a Halloween garland with construction paper.

Fri 10/25-Paint mini pumpkins.

Sat 10/26-Fall Festival.  We have a little mill town close by that hosts a variety of events on the Saturday before Halloween.  The entire town does a trick or treat trail starting at 5pm.  Bonus 1: it's a flat ground and easy for this mommy to be to walk.  Bonus 2: All our trick or treating is done in the daylight.

Sun 10/27-Trunk or Treat.  Our church will be hosting their annual Trunk or Treat on Sunday evening.  Thankful for great friends that will let my 2 tag along so I can rest!

Mon 10/28-Cupcakes.  This day is a teacher workday so I will need to keep them entertained while I try to work from home.  I bought the Pillsbury Orange Icing that came with sprinkles.  I'll bake the cupcakes and just let them have at it. 

Tues 10/29-School Festival.  Our elementary school will be doing a trunk or treat hosted by each of 3 football teams we have.  My daughter is a cheerleader and will get to be one helping hand out candy which she is excited about.

Wed 10/30-Pumpkin Carving.  At school, my son's class is doing a "donuts for dads" day along with pumpkin carving.  After school we will carve one with my daughter as well.

Thurs 10/31-Halloween!  This year we are going to a friend's house that does a drive through trick or treat.  Treats for the kids, tricks for the adults.  My 2 are excited to be participating.  They are going to run the popcorn machine and hand out popcorn and treats to anyone that comes by.

So some days I didn't have to think of an activity or craft.  If there was something we had already planned or talked about, it went in the countdown activity.  Here's how I did our countdown:

I found some Halloween colored scrap book paper, folded in half, and cut out pumpkin shapes.

This allowed me to write on the inside and seal them up.

I cut little stems from the scrap paper and attached with tape.

Write the numbers 1-13 on them.

On the inside write your activity and seal with a piece of tape.

I sealed mine first and shouldn't have but it still worked out.  I put some ribbon through the tops of each one and hung it like garland over our living room window.  Each day after school they take one down, starting at 13, and see what it says.  It's exciting for them, even if they know what to expect on some days.  This is also a great tool in teaching them counting backwards.

So there's our little countdown calendar!  Hopefully this will start a new tradition for our family.  If time permits, we will do the same for Christmas.  Baby C is due the first week of December, if she can hold out that long.  What ever we do, it will be silly simple, but sure to be lots of fun.
Until next time...
Amy~The Dixie Diva

Monday, September 16, 2013

100 Days of Holiday Inspiration 2013

Last year I started a series of 100 Days of Holidays and Inspiration and had a lot of fun with it.  I was really hoping to do one again this year, but, I am 12 weeks away from my due date (baby #3!) and I do not feel that I would be able to fulfill my duties of posting to it on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis.  As you can tell, I've been rather scarce around here this year as it is.  This pregnancy has had a few complications along the way, but everything is looking really good right now.  I've been trying to maintain my focus on keeping myself healthy and preparing for childbirth.

That being said, I did want to share with you all some great links and other subscriptions you can sign up for that will provide you all kinds of holiday ideas from fall through Christmas and New Years. 

My favorite that I look forward to is the Better Homes and Gardens 100 Days of Holidays.  Some years you will see the same old things, but it's a great refresher.  Click the link above to sign up for their newsletter.

Moms By Heart.  Link takes you to the index from all their blogs of last season.

100 Days to Christmas has an eBook for sale at just $8.

Parents website also has a 100 Days of Holidays special.

Some great links for crafts in general:

As I come across more (and I know there are a ton I look at), I will post links to them as well.  For now, I hope you all are enjoying the start to your fall holiday season!  This is my FAVORITE time of year.

Until next time...

Amy~The Dixie Diva

Saturday, July 20, 2013

19 Weeks Pregnant & Getting Ready for Halloween

I cannot believe it's been since May that I wrote anything.  We've just been extremely busy and consumed with the pregnancy.  However, I have finally gotten back in the swing of things with crafts and sewing.  Here's a quick glimpse at what I've been up to.

I reorganized my crafting/sewing station.  Not sure how much longer it will work though.  I have about a 10" opening to squeeze through and the bigger the belly gets, the harder that will be to manage.

Halloween dresses for sale on my Facebook page and Etsy shop.

Loopy Scarves now available in school colors too!

So I've been a busy little mama these past few months.  We've also been working on some home improvement ideas to get ready for our newest edition to arrive before Christmas.  I can't wait to get started making holiday outfits for my 8 year old daughter, 5 year old son and the new born baby girl when she gets here!

Oh, and we also started our very first garden this year.  We have more cucumbers than any 3 families could consume (we picked 49 today!!), plus 3 different kinds of squash.  Okra is trying to grow and unfortunately we've had so much rain that most of the tomato plants are not surviving.  But you learn as you go.

I've spent countless hours on Pinterest and researching making loft beds for our kids, along with finding a way to keep my office (for my day job) and make it a nursery all in one.  My head is about to explode with information and ideas.

I hope to have some tutorials soon and I'm hoping to do a new 100 days of holidays series, but time will tell.  I hope you all are enjoying your summer!

Until next time...

Amy~The Dixie Diva

Thursday, May 2, 2013

We're Expecting

That explains a lot doesn't it??  I've been so tired and overwhelmed that I haven't even had time to think about working on my blog lately.  Hopefully that will change soon as I still have several tutorials and such to post about.  My computer flipped out completely about a month ago and I had to do a system restore.  I'm still going through usb files to make sure I have all my photos.  Soon as I can I will be back with more crafts and reviews!

In the meantime, I've started a new blog to follow along with my pregnancy.  I have two beautiful children ages 5 and 8 already, but I didn't keep anything after my son was born.  We decided that was it and we were done.  Now, I'm starting all over.  We've had some interesting things happen already, some good and some bad.  I decided to start up the new blog as a way to let other people know they may not be alone in some areas.  Seems that there are some "grey" areas that a lot of people don't talk about, or know to ask about.  I'm hoping my experience helps someone else and to learn a few things in the process.  I don't care if you have 8 kids or 18 kids, each pregnancy is different and I think you learn something new.  If you'd like to follow along with my story, please stop by:  I'd love to hear your input.

In the meantime, please just keep me and my family in your prayers.  This week has been extremely difficult for us. 

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hanging in There

Hey everyone. Sorry I've been Mia lately. It's been a rather rough start to the year for me. Seems like every day it's something else! I've been battling flu like symptoms for several days now and just can't seem to find my groove. But, we're hanging in there!

I hope by this weekend to get the business back up and at it, as well as get back to blogging. I have lots if posts and drafts all set, but to top it off my laptop keeps locking up when I try to blog. This little tid bit comes from the trusty cell.

Hope you all are doing well and I'll be back at it soon.

Until next time...
Amy ~ The Dixie Diva

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Planning an Organized Home - Part 1 - Chore Charts

I started a post on this a few weeks ago and started getting so far in to it that it was looking more like a book than a post.  So, I decided to break it down in to a mini series called:

Planning an Organized Home

It's a short, six part series that I want to share with you on how I started to get our home organized and in a better routine than we have had in the past.  The more routine, the less whining "why do we have to??".  It becomes a part of every day life for every one in the house.

The first thing I worked on were chore charts: one for the kids and one for the parents.  While I have a pretty good routine for my own household chores, having it in writing and staring me down keeps me from falling off track so much.  I searched online for different printable and customizable charts, and ended up finding some pre-loaded with my ancient laptop under Microsoft Works.  If you have Microsoft Excel or Word, you can do the same thing.  I attempted to copy our chart to this blog but it doesn't pull it all in.  Essentially this is what I have in an Excel format:

Chores                                                     Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun

Paid Chores

Laundry (25 cent)

Dishes (25 cent)

Pick up Living Room (10 cent)

Trash Out (25 cent)

Cans & Bottles Out (10 cent)

Boxes Out (10 cent)

Feed Animals (10 cent)

There are boxes under each one for every day of the week.  I use colored ink pens and write a "C" or a "J" (my kids' names) for who does what each day.  I also have a list under the "Paid Chores" labeled "Every Day Chores".  Every day chores that are a must but they do not get an allowance for are cleaning their rooms, putting away dirty clothes, doing homework, reading, etc. 

When a chore is completed I put little stickers in the box.  I have one set of stickers for each child so it's easy to keep up with who did what.  The chore chart stays on a clipboard and hangs on the wall in the kitchen.  Every day they come home from school to see what is on their list for that day.  They have actually become excited to see what they have to do, since they now earn money for it (albeit very minimal).  They both have "wants" all the time (what kid doesn't??) and I have refused to keep buying "junk" toys every time we go out.  They now have a list of things they would like to buy, know how much it costs, and are learning to figure out how long it will take them to buy it based on their chore allowance.

Oh, and there is one other section I have added to the chore chart.  Deductions.  Oh yes, I am deducting for whining, back talk, fighting, yelling, lying, and asking WHY.  All I have to do is threaten to take away from their allowance and it curves the behavior.  Most of the time.

I tried to scan and attach a copy of what I use as a photo, but it looks rather small on my end.  If you would like a copy you can edit for yourself, send me an email or comment below and I'll be happy to send you what I have.
Here are some links to some great printable chore charts:
Essentially, I took my favorite aspects of each one and combined them with the one I had in Microsoft Works.  These are great ones to get started with.
Check back for Part 2 of Planning an Organized home tomorrow.
Until then,
Amy~The Dixie Diva