DIY Crate Bookcase

diy-crate-bookshelfHi Friends! I’m finally bringing back this DIY crate bookshelf as one of my Friday Favorites. I made this for my kids when we moved to Wyoming; and it was such a quick, easy project! The kids enjoyed helping with this project, and we have used this bookcase in many different places since I originally made it. Here’s the tutorial if you’re in the mood for a quick weekend

Here’s what you’ll need: 


 Let’s get to work! 
  1. Sand them down. Ugh. Sanding’s the worst part, right? My crates were pretty rough when I got them, so started with 80 grit, then 100, then 150. They’re not exactly silky smooth; my main goal was to smooth them up enough so the kids wouldn’t get splinters when reaching for their favorite book.
  2. Beat ’em up. My kids LOVED this part (maybe a little too much). Get creative here…use nails, hammers, chisel, chains, anything to make scratches and dents. If your scrapes leave any rough edges, you may want to sand them down a bit.
  3. Stain. Make sure your crate is clean and free of dust, then stain it your desired color. I used my favorite stain (Rust-oleum Dark Walnut). They’ve got these great 8 oz. cans that are perfect for a small project like this.
  4. Seal. Finish with a coat of polyurethane. I used Satin finish, because I didn’t want too much shine.
  5. Finishing touch. Screw on some corner brackets. (optional) They’re technically called “angles” and you can find them in the roofing section of the hardware store. 
  6. Configure & attach. I attached the two horizontal crates to one another with wood glue and some screws underneath. The vertical crate I left unattached so it can also double as a handy carrying crate/nightstand if needs be.

reading-cornerI designed this bookshelf so it is modular. Since it’s in multiple pieces, we can reconfigure the whole thing or add to it as our book collection expands. Now that you’re done, all you need to do is grab a comfy beanbag chair and a cozy blanket and you’re all set for those chilly fall and winter evenings ahead! 

100 Things to Do This Summer

Guys. Summer Vacation. It’s coming. Not for a couple more weeks; but I’m filled with both excitement and dread. I’m excited because a) I love hanging out with my kids, b) I love not having a rigid schedule and c) no homework to contend with every day! I dread it because a) I won’t be alone for 3 months–like approximately zero time to myself, b) I have to deal with lots of boredom and bickering, and c) I have to push/force/bribe them to keep learning so their brains don’t turn to mush over the summer. I can’t really change the no time to myself thing; but I can pre-empt the learning thing and the boredom thing. So here’s a quick fix for the summer boredom: Summer List UpdateThese summer lists provide 200 fun summer activities that take little to no-preparation. Most of them are free or inexpensive; and my kids love the checklist format. It’s almost like a challenge to see if we can complete both checklists by the end of summer. You can download and print them both here:

I’ve got a couple ideas about how to deal with learning and managing screen time for my oldest; but I still need to fine tune my plan a bit. I’ve got the kids signed up for several summer camps to make sure we’re up and out of the house at a reasonable time. Throw in a couple trips to Grandma’s house, a day trip or two and a handful of hikes and I think we’ve got recipe for a winning summer vacation. At least I’m going in with a good attitude, and that can’t hurt, right? I’m sure I’ll be a frazzled mess, whisper-yelling at them in the grocery store before I know it. But until then, here’s to summer vacation! 

Covered Button Bobby Pins

Covered Button Bobby PinsIf you’re new around here, I do this thing on Friday called Friday Favorites; it’s a bunch of my favorite posts from my old blog. I’m bringing them over here so they can join the party. Today, I’ve got a flashback to these easy bobby pins. This project is a great way to use up some of those fabric scraps that are too cute to throw away.  Here’s what you’ll need:

Fabric CirclesFirst, use the template on the back of the button package to trace and cut fabric circles to fit your buttons.

Remove ShanksNext, follow the package directions to assemble the buttons. Now, remove the shanks with the pliers. This can take a bit of work. Just pinch the center together as tightly as you can and then wiggle until it will come out. It takes a couple of tries until you get the feel for it; but after that you can just pop those babies right out. 

Bobby PIns GluedNow slightly moisten the back of the button and the top of the glue pad. Squeeze a tiny drop of gorilla glue and then smoosh them together. Note: This type of Gorilla Glue expands as it dries, so a tiny drop goes a long way. 

Just lay them flat and wait until they’re dry. Ta da! Done. This is a really fun project for cold spring days when you need an indoor activity. Once you buy a pack of the bobby pins, you’ll have plenty to go around…so host a crafting party, or make a bunch as party favors or quick gifts.  

Money Cakes

Today’s Friday Favorites post holds a special place in my heart. Growing up, my grandma used to make money cakes for family birthday parties. The birthday kid got to choose their slice of cake first; and you got to keep whatever money you found inside the cake. The grand prizes were Grandma’s extra special 50-cent pieces and silver dollar coins. The rest of the cake contained quarters, dimes and nickels; but everyone felt like a million bucks after eating one of Grandma’s money cakes.

MoneycakesThere’s no better time to bring back the money cake tradition than at St. Patrick’s Day. Baking your shiny gold coins inside a cake is the best way to keep them safe from those sneaky Leprechauns. Or not. But it’s still fun.

CoinsHere’s how you make money cakes: 

  1. Get a bunch of coins. Note: I usually ask the bank for new gold dollars…that appeases my inner germophobe.
  2. Sanitize the heck out of ’em. Bleach them, scrub them, run ’em through the dishwasher. Do whatever you have to do to feel good about baking them in a cake. Grandma always scrubbed them up with hot, soapy water and we never got sick. But I prefer to scrub them with bleach, then run them through the dishwasher. 
  3. Then cut squares of waxed paper and wrap up each coin in it’s own little packet.

Wrapping CoinsNow mix up your favorite cake batter and grab your favorite cupcake wrappers. Fill the cupcakes halfway, then put a little coin packet on top. After the coin is in place, top it off with more cake batter so the coin is hidden inside the cake. 

Money CakeWhile the cakes bake, whip up your favorite frosting and grab an assortment of sprinkles.

Buttercream RecipeLet the cupcakes cool, and decorate.

Money CakesCupcakes are always exciting; but cupcakes with a hidden treasure are the very best kind. Prepare yourself for oohs and aahs and squeals of delight as your little Leprechauns discover their hidden treasure. 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!