DIY Nursery Decor | Simple Wall Hook

DIY nursery Decor Wall HookIn my opinion, decorating the nursery is one of the most enjoyable parts of pregnancy but it can get really pricey really fast.  That’s why I love a good DIY Nursery Decor project.  It is also a great way to bond with our babies, at least for me! This DIY nursery decor project for a simple wall hook is decorative, functional, and requires just a little scrap wood and paint. Both my boys have hooks in their room and we use them to hang bath towels, hats, the next days clothes, and their bags. Their hooks have been so functional for us that I decided to make the one featured in this post for a dear friend who was pregnant with her first little boy. This DIY nursery Decor wall hook is well worth your time.  It is very simple to make but does take a few specialty tools to get the best end result.

Supplies & Tools

  1. 2×10 scrap wood, approx 16″ long (could also use a 2×8 or 2×12)
  2. Router with roman ogee bit and key hole bit
  3. Circular Saw or Table Saw
  4. Sand Paper
  5. Paint
  6. Stencil
  7. Wood Slice
  8. .75″ dowel
  9. Drill Press, optional

Step 1: Cut the 2×10

The first step is to cut the 2×10 to the desired length.  Really any length will work and it is largely dependent on what you intend to stencil on the upper portion.  Are you stenciling a long saying or verse onto your DIY Nursery Decor?  Maybe you should opt for 16′ or 20″ long.  I cut mine at 16″ long.

Step 2: Route the Edges

I used the Roman edge bit to route the perimeter of the wood.  This will really help give it a finish look in the end and like it is not just a piece of scrap wood!

Step 3: Route Key Hole

There are many ways to hang this plaque but since we area already using the router and have it out, might as well cut a key hole for hanging it as well. Make sure you have a plunge base for your router and not use a fixed base.  Creating the keyhole requires the plunge base.

Step 4: Sanding

Truth: I didn’t sand mind, but you should because mine will definitely give you splinters! I would go with a 100 grit followed by 220 grit.

Step 5: Paint or Stain

The finishing options are endless but for this go around I used a Sherwin Williams primer spray paint and then Rustoleum Heirloom. The primer was very effective and it really helped me get full, even coverage when I switched over to the paint.

Step 5: Prepare stencils

While the plaque is drying, prepare your stencils. I used a cameo silhouette to cut custom stencils for this project but Hobby Lobby or Amazon have tons of great pre-made stencils.

Step 6: Apply Stencils & Paint

So this is the step where everything went terribly, terribly wrong for me. In Step 5, I chose to cut my stencils out of freezer paper.  For most projects the freezer paper works great but it was a poor choice for a smooth, painted wood surface. For starters, when I ironed on the stencil, I melted the paint!!  I was already committed though so I kept on going.  I noticed the stencil wasn’t sticking quite as well as I wanted but again, I was committed.  I used a foam brush and applied several coasts of navy blue paint.

When I peeled the stencil off, this is what I was left with:

Ahh! It bled underneath the stencil terribly. It was just as bad when I removed the letters.

I panicked for a bit but then came up with a salvage plan. I removed the letters and painted “McCoy” blue so that the entire bear was one color. Then I cut the stencil again but this time I used adhesive vinyl. I used the interior portion to cover the blue bear but removed the letters. My goal was to spray paint white onto and around the new stencil with the hope that upon removal I would be left with clean lines and would have essentially erased the furry looking under-bleed.

You can see the new stencil peeling up and showing the blue bear hidden underneath. I was afraid the peeling, which started almost immediately after I used the spray paint meant I would have white bleed this time instead of blue. Thankfully though, when it dried and I peeled the stencil I had very sharp lines left over!

Step 7: Make & Attach Hook

There are so many options for hooks for these. I’ve used metal deer hooks and even fancy dresser pulls before but the “hook” on this one is probably my favorite. I love the rustic feel and being free is nice too!

To make the hook you need an oak log, preferably cut long ago and thoroughly dried now, that’s approx 2.5″ in diameter. Conversely, you can just buy wood slices online. They are good for so many projects (like ornaments) so don’t worry about ordering a pack when this project only needs one. You will also need a 1″ long section of wood dowel that’s about 3/4″ thick.

First cut a wood slice that’s approximately .25″ thick. Then drill a hole through the dowel, length-wise. The hole is more than just a pilot hole for the screw. The hole needs to be large enough to allow the screw to pass through easily without using the drill. Also drill a hold through the center of the wood slice. Next mark the location of the hook and drill a small pilot hole there. Then feed the screw through the wood slice, dowel, and into the pilot hole. Use the drill to tighten it all down until it is securely screwed into the wood plaque.

And whala, now your hook and the whole project is finished!!

Looking for more DIY nursery decor and projects?  Here’s a few more to check out:

$10 DIY Hook Shelf
Caleb of Judah Sign
Toddler Chore Chart
How to Build a Crib for $200

Scripture From My Toddler: “Behold, Open Your Pants.”

I think most parents have found themselves asking the “At what age…” questions.  You know; at what age should they be potty trained? At what age will they sleep through the whole night? Or a really big one, “At what age should we stop letting them see us naked?” I can tell you from personal experience, the answer to that last one is somewhere before five years old. I am still scarred.

In our house though, we’ve wondered about two more:

“At what age should we start teaching about God?” 


“At what age will it start to stick?”


We have tried to be ahead of the game and get an early start on teaching Caleb about God.  We do as much as we can remember to do. We pray, we read picture Bibles, we go to church, we go to Bible study, we read Noah books, and at Christmas it is even crazier with advent calendars, nativities, Happy Birthday Jesus cakes and even whole parties for Jesus!  But honestly, at 2.5 years old the retention and comprehension leaves a little bit to be desired.

It’s a lot like potty training actually.  That first time we tried going in the potty it was FUN!  He loved it and felt so proud of himself.  I can still remember him pushing with such enthusiasm and drama! The first time he got a whole line of Jesus Loves Me out right was about the same.  He sang just that one line, “Jesus loves me” non-stop for a week.  But like the potty, “Jesus loves me” lost its appeal and soon he had total apathy for it.   Of course we don’t want to create any “negative association”, so like with the potty, we change gears and switch tactics and hope to keep that toddler brain intrigued a new way.

Scripture from my Toddler
Yep, this is Caleb’s first successful time on the potty. We actually have a full video of it!

Over and over again, I’ve asked myself if we are doing this right?  Are we teaching him right?  Should we do more? Or maybe we should do less? Am I equipped to lead these little boys to Jesus?  To show them who He is, how much He loves them, how salvation is through Him and Him alone?

Am I equipped to lead these little boys to Jesus?

Mainly we just keep trying to do our best and pray God provides others around us to fill in where we fall short.   Thankfully, we have been blessed with an incredible family and community.  It’s through them and their influence that Caleb has learned and absorbed best.  Every once in a while, Caleb lets out just a little bitty something  like singing Jesus Loves Me that lets us know he IS listening and he IS absorbing, albeit slowly. Last month we got one of those rare moments and it was so funny that I just had to share it with y’all through this post.

Scripture from my Toddler
We are so blessed to have family, like my sister-in-law here, to help us teach Caleb about Christ. This was Easter Sunday and they learned about Jesus and the cross in Sunday school. A few days later he pointed at a cross on the wall of our house and told me it was Jesus’s Cross.

I was sitting at the kitchen table drinking my coffee and working on my Bible study when Caleb walked in. He was sporting his front loader turquoise undies with his skid-steer t-shirt that is at least two sizes too small now.  Realizing that my alone time was over, he’s done with lame YouTube shows (cause that’s what he likes) and he was ready to hang with mom, I did my best to engage him.   It wasn’t even eight o’clock in the morning yet and the best I could come up with was, “Caleb, do you know what this book is?”

He’s known what my Bible is for at least a year so I was feeling pretty lame when that was the best way I could think of to ask my son.  Maybe that was just God at work though because rather than responding “Bible” to my boring question, Caleb tells me, “That’s Jesus book.  It’s filled with truths and promises.”  After a taking a moment to process and interpret what he had just said, my first thought was “Wow, that’s exactly what it is!”

I asked him where he learned that and he told me BSF. I should have known, Bible Study Fellowship does such an incredible job with the kids.  Of course I wanted to know what else he had learned at BSF so I asked him if he could “read” me a story out of the Bible.  This is when the true gem of the morning came out.

He eagerly grabbed my Bible, crunched over it on the floor with that front-loader-turquoise-bottom sticking up at me, pointed at the page and the exchange went like this:

Caleb: “Behold, open your pants.”  

Me: “WHAT??

Me: Who told you that?

Me: Did someone tell you to open your pants??

Me: Where were you when you opened your pants??

Me: Wait, what does it say again???”

Caleb: “Behold, open your payents

Me: “Open your pants?”

Caleb: (frowns) “Behold, oben your payents.”

Me: “Ohhh! Behold, obey your parents?”

Caleb: looks at me like I am stupid for taking so long to get it.

So, in answer to those questions we’ve wondered about what age we should start teaching about Christ and at what age it really starts to stick, the answer is that it is never too soon to start and if you are lucky, you might just get some toddler scripture gold!

One of my goals in how I teach my children about Christ is to naturally incorporate scripture into your daily lives.  Considering I have very very few Bible verses memorized myself, this has been a challenging but much needed endeavor.  So far we have really only focused on three verses:

  1. “Children obey your parents.” Ephesians 6:1  Or the alternate translation, “Behold, open your pants.”  We use this one on a daily basis for obvious reasons.
  2. “God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7  We used this one a lot at Christmas to try and keep the focus on giving rather than receiving.  We also use it at the playground a lot when talking about sharing our toys.
  3. “Be kind to one another and build each other up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11  I chose this one because he loves to build and I thought we could have fun making hammer hand motions when it says build.  It is also a great verse to have on hand for the playground.

I hope I hear his toddler translation of these verses soon!  Have your toddlers thrown out and scripture gold? Share with me in the comments or leave me some suggestions for more good Bible verses for toddlers.


DIY Valentines Gift: Fudge Pops and Bible Verses

DIY Valentines Project | Bible Verse Holder

This month was my month to bring a present for each of the girls in my MOPS group.   Since Valentine’s day is just a few days after our meeting, I decided I wanted my gift to be Valentines-ish.  I considered candy or cookies but I knew not everyone would appreciate that, especially since so many people are still rocking their new year’s diets.  After drawing a blank for a few days, I went to my favorite place for inspiration: the garage.  I took a look around, checked out the scrap wood pile, and started piecing together a really fun DIY Valentines Day project.

This DIY Valentines Day Project is very multifunctional and can, hopefully, remain out on display for more than just Valentines.  Frankly, I couldn’t come up with a succinct name for this project, but it can be used to hold a Bible verse, a photograph, recipe, or just any kind of notecard.  In addition, it can simultaneously hold a pen or, more appropriate for valentines day, it can hold FUDGE POPS! (Scroll to the bottom of my post for the link to both recipes for the AMAZING fudge I used to make these fudge pops).

This is the perfect DIY Valentines Day Project to make for a few of your girlfriends,  your kid’s teachers, or even your MOPS group!  These would also work great at Christmas time and could be filled with candy canes instead of fudge pops.  Wow that would be easy! My total investment before fudge ingredients was $10.  Here’s a quick tutorial on these Bible verse holders:

DIY Valentines Day Project Supplies:

Step 1: Cut Block

I cut my block at 6 inches long but the size is really just personal preference.  These Verse of the Week blocks are only 3 inches by 3 inches for comparison.

Step 2: Drill Top Holes

The next step is to locate the center on the top surface of the block and drill a very small pilot hole.  I used a 1/10 size drill bit for the pilot hole.  Next, use a paddle bit to drill the larger diameter hole. I used a 3/4″ paddle bit and drilled about 3/4″ deep as well. Lastly, drill yet another hole in the center of the paddle bit hole with a 1/10 size drill bit.  This is the hole that your wire will sit within.  You will need a drill bit extender for this last hole.  I used 17 gauge wire and the 1/10 drill bit created a hole just big enough for the wire to sit within.  If you use thicker wire than you may also need to use a bigger drill bit.

DIY Valentines Project | Bible Verse Holder
Pilot Hole
DIY Valentines Project | Bible Verse Holder
Drilling larger hole with paddle bit.
DIY Valentines Project | Bible Verse Holder
Drill one more small hole into the bottom of the paddle bit hole for the wire to slip into.

Step 3: Sand Block

Sand the block to smooth all the faces and round off the sharp edges.  I used 60 grit sand paper and a random orbital sander.  For most projects I would go ahead and sand again with a 220 grit sand paper. I skipped the fine sanding for this project because I was making 13 of these guys and didn’t think it would make much difference to the final project.

Step 4: Paint

Because I was making 13 of these, speed was a huge concern which meant spray paint was the only way to go.  When spray painting wood, a coat of primer first is crucial.  Otherwise the wood will soak up tons of your valuable spray paint and still have grain showing through.  I used this white spray paint for this project.

Step 5: Cut and Apply Stencil

I used a Cameo Silhouette to create this custom stencil.  MOPS is a Christian group so I knew I wanted to this project to point towards Christ and not focus too much on a made up Hallmark holiday. Thankfully, there are tons of incredible verses about love in the Bible  to choose from.  Ultimately, “love each other deeply” from 1 Peter 4:8 fit the bill for this project.

 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8

I cut the stencil into an off-brand vinyl and frankly, I don’t recommend it.  I’m pretty sure you will get better stencil adhesion and therefore, cleaner results, if you use the Silhouette brand vinyl.

I’ve learned a few tips for stenciling.  The first is to always cut a rectangle around your stencil that is approximately the same size as what you are applying it to.  This will help you easily line everything up straight.  Second, always tape around the edges of your stencil to make sure you do not paint off the edge .  I tape whether I am painting with a foam brush or spray paint.

If you would like to use the “Love Each Other Deeply” stencil I created for this project, enter your email below and you will receive a link to both a PDF and Silhouette file.


DIY Valentines Project | Bible Verse Holder
Stencil applied and waiting for paint.

Step 6: Paint Stencil

After your stencil is applied, it is time to paint it, but first a few pointers! Because the wood blocks inherently have an imperfect surface with cracks and knots and other natural character, it may be difficult for the  vinyl stencil to fully adhere and as a result it may bleed under. An easy fix to this is to first spray a light coat of white spray paint to act as a seal around all the edges of the stencil.  Then follow up with the black spray paint (after the white has dried).

DIY Valentines Project | Bible Verse Holders
The white blocks have been sprayed with white paint and are waiting to dry before the black paint is sprayed.

Step 7: Wrap Wire

While you are waiting for everything to dry, wrap the card holder wire.  I used this 17 gauge galvanized wire.  Cut approximately 18 inches of wire for the wrap.  Then, create a 90 degree fold approximately 2.5 inches from one end and then begin wrapping the wire as tightly as possible around a fat marker.  You will want 6 or 7 wraps around the marker.  Use wire cutters or pliers to wrap the end into a tight circle so it does not poke or cut you.

Step 8: Glue Wire

After the blocks are dry, dip the wire wrap into glue (I used E-6000) and insert it down into the hole you drilled in step 2.  After it is glued in, fold the first two or three rings up at a 90 degree angle to the rest of the coil.  The vertical coils hold your note card while the bottom coils hold fudge pops, pens, pencils or whatever else you need.

DIY Valentines Project | Bible Verse Holder
Top coils folded up at 90 degrees to bottom coils.

Step 9: Make Fudge

The last, and arguably most fun step, is to make the fudge pops.  I partnered up with Kelly at Kelly Lynn’s Sweets and Treats to make sure I had a to-die-for fudge recipe for this project and that is exactly what she delivered.  I made her Three Ingredient Strawberry Fudge and her Valentines Day M&M Fudge and the only thing better than how amazing they both taste is how easy they are to make!  Did y’all know you can make fudge in less than 5 minutes?  I had no idea and I’m a little concerned now that I do know!


What do you think about this project? Would you make it?  Here’s a few more easy scrap wood projects:

Cheap and Easy Herb Garden

$10 DIY Hook Shelf

Nursery Hook


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Sew Can Do

The BEST Laundry Closet Design Ever

I feel pretty safe in saying that no one in the entire world actually enjoys doing laundry.  It’s the chore that never ends and while I can’t make you like doing laundry, maybe I can help make it a little easier and more organized with the best laundry closet design ever.

My typical laundry cycle used to be to take my clothes from the dryer, pile them on the bed, knock them off the bed when it was time to sleep, lose half of them under the bed, pile more clean clothes onto the floor pile, lose more under the bed, fold clothes on top of pile, put clothes on bottom back into dirty clothes hamper because can’t tell if they are really clean anymore and they have been walked on a lot, and then wash & dry more clothes and continue the cycle.  After living with that cycle for a year or so and nearly losing my husband over it, I decided that SURELY I could come up with a better system to manage the laundry.  I didn’t want to kid myself that I could all the sudden fold every piece right out of the dryer and never get behind again so I tried to find a more practical solution.

I would imagine that the problems we had with our original laundry closet design are pretty universal to all the poor laundry closet owners in the world but, to recap and put words to the issues, here’s what we had going on that just WAS NOT WORKING.

Laundry Closet Design Problems:

  1. No where to store detergent, stain remover, dryer sheets, etc. The only shelf in the closet was too high and far back over the washer and dryer for me to reach.
  2. No where to set clean clothes
  3. No where to fold clean clothes
  4. No where to hang dry clothes
  5. No where to iron clothes
This is not actually my laundry closet because I forgot to take that picture, but this is the same layout and size as mine.
The Best Laundry Closet Design Ever
This is my original laundry closet but it’s a horrible picture, hence the one included above.

The Best Laundry Closet Design Ever

After looking at many a laundry closet design, I decided that actually nothing on Pinterest or that I had seen thus far would fit the bill for us.  Per usual, budget was a concern.  I would love custom made shelving and granite countertops in my laundry room as much as any woman, but at the end of the day, this wasn’t our forever home and it’s just a laundry closet!  So, I got to drawing and came up with the plan below:

The Best Laundry Closet Design Ever

This may not look like much, but let me outline what’s going on here:

  • There’s a full depth countertop for folding clothes;
  • There’s a shelving system down the middle for storing detergent and whatever else;
  • There’s 2 separate hanging bars with over 6 feet of hanging bar space. The bar is hung above the door which is much higher than your typical bar installed by the builder, so its ACTUALLY usable for hanging clothes! Big improvement there. Also, by running the bar across the short dimension and on the sides of the closet, the light isn’t blocked.  This will help the space feel more open and just less dressing in general!
  • There’s also room on top of the washer and dryer for an ironing board to slip into for easy storage and access. Conversely, you could go with this style of ironing board just as easily.

This is a real life, not Pinterestified photo of the laundry closet in action.  Clothes move from the dryer directly to the counter top where they can be immediately hung or folded into piles but of course, if busy schedules got in the way, I could just shut the doors and hide all the laundry ugliness until later.

Here is the ironing board that stores on top of the washer and dryer but under the countertop.  I actually used lazy susan hardware to make it pivot in and out for a quicker setup.  I did have to attach a  leg on a wheel under the front end for additional support though.

Y’all, we lived with this laundry closet design for over a year before we moved and it was so incredibly functional that I can promise you will actually start to LIKE your laundry closet. I didn’t name this post “The BEST Laundry Closet Design Ever,” because this is  a beautiful laundry closet, no I named it that because it’s the most functional, headache relieving, busy-mom-of-toddlers assisting, happiness-inducing laundry closet design you will ever encounter.  Maybe I’m exaggerating on the happiness-inducing part since it is, in fact, still just a laundry closet, but I promise you will love it!  Furthermore, did I mention this whole setup is super cheap to accomplish?  Cheap is always an added bonus.

Here’s the supplies you need to make this laundry closet design a reality:

Looking for more renovation and design ideas to improve your house? Check out these other posts:

Old Kitchen Renovation: 8 Low Cost, Big Impact Solutions
1970’s Kitchen Reno Tips
That Time we Drywalled Our Windows

How To Install IKEA Butcher Block Countertops

How to Install IKEA Butcher Block Countertops

Installing IKEA butcher block countertops was probably the most intimidating step of the entire kitchen renovation. We couldn’t afford to mess up and though we build lots of things, we don’t often cut ginormous pieces of butcher block or have such a small acceptable range for error. I read lots of blogs about how to install IKEA butcher block countertops, but at the end of the day, knowing how to do it and executing it successfully are two different things. The reading DID help, so let me offer up some insight on how to install IKEA butcher block and how to avoid some easy mistakes along the way.


Circular Saw
Painters Tape
Kreg Rip Cut
Jig Saw

Step One: Inspect the Butcher Block

The first step in installing IKEA butcher block is actually just to unpack and inspect the butcher block. One unpacked you will see that there can be a lot of variation between the color of your slabs. It may be necessary to plan out where each slab is going to be used to make sure that two drastically dissimilar slabs are not butted up against each other.

We learned this the hard way. Our first 3 slabs were almost identical but the next 2 were very different from the other three and from each other.  Unfortunately, those were the ones we had planned to use together on the peninsula.

You also want to check for defects during this step.

Install IKEA Butcher Block Countertops
Note the difference in the color of the slabs. The left slab is much darker overall. Sadly, we had two other slabs that matched really well that we could have used here had we opened all the slabs at the same time and inspected them all together.

Step 2: Cut Butcher Block to Size

The next step when installing IKEA butcher block countertops is to cut them to size. You can get by without any special tools to accomplish this step but there are a few steps that are crucial to getting good clean cuts.

First, you will want to minimize chipping around the edge of the cut as much as possible. A new, sharp, saw blade will greatly help with this. We also chose to go with a blade that had “medium-size” teeth. Smaller teeth usually result in cleaner cuts but considering the thickness, density, and hardness of the oak butcher block, we felt we also needed a blade with some serious cutting power: so we went with the middle ground.

We also used a low tack painters tape over the cut to help prevent minor splinters. Make sure your tape is low tack, or not very adhesive, so it doesn’t create splinters and chips when you remove it.

Another very important consideration is making sure you cut very straight. Though my dad is basically a master with the skill saw and can make very difficult cuts look easy and perfect, I wouldn’t even let him near my countertops without a jig. A jig is just another word for a guide that will make sure you run the saw perfectly straight. We 1x10s and 2x4s on our countertops and clamped them down on either end. We were then able to run the saw right along it and get perfectly straight cuts…or so we thought.

Come to find out, the 2×4 wasn’t straight at all.  I’m not sure why we thought that would be a good choice. It’s not uncommon to sort through half a pile of 2x4s just to find a semi straight, non-warped board.  I think our minds were just so tired at that point in time that we didn’t think about much other than finishing.

In hind sight, we should have used the Kreg Rip Cut to cut the countertops longways instead of the using the 2×4 jig.  When we cut the bathroom countertops we did use the Kreg Rip Cut and it was so easy and gave us great results.

tip: Push the saw too hard through the cut and you risk extra splinters and chipping.  Push it too slow and you can leave burn marks on the wood.”

Step 3: Cut Butcher Block Openings

If you have a drop in stove top or either an undercount or drop in sink, you will need to cut additional holes in the butcher block to accommodate those.  Stoves and sinks both come with paper templates that you cut out and position and trace onto the butcher block.

After I traced the template for our stove top, I used a half inch paddle bit to drill a hole into the corner of the rectangular template.  The hole goes INSIDE the template, in the part that will be removed.  The hole allowed me to easily position the blade of my jig saw to begin the cut.  I did set up a small jig using a metal yard stick to help my achieve very straight cuts on the perimeter.  For the curves though, you just have to go slow and steady. It’s important to know how much of an overhang your appliance or sink has so that you know your margin for error.

Tip: Use a blade with larger teeth with your jig saw so it can easily cut through the countertop. Splinters/chips are less of a concern since the edge will be covered.

how to install ikea butcher block countertops
Getting ready to cut the opening for the stove top. I used a metal yard stick for a jig as it happened to be the perfect width.

Step 4: Finishing

Finishing IKEA butcher block countertops is a multi-step process and I’m going to cover it in a little more detail in its own post.  Suffice to say that you must do a lot of sanding and a lot of coats!

Step 5: Attach Butcher Block

Attaching the butcher block is very easy.  As we had learned to expect by this point in time, IKEA has designed the cabinet bases to ensure a quick and easy install.  The base cabinets come with simple metal angles that attach to the base cabinet and will also support and anchor into the countertop.  The base cabinets also have a slotted metal strip running along the front edge.  The install process basically consists of laying down the butcher block countertop in the right location, drilling a few pilot holes through the angles and slotted strip and then putting in some screws.

Install IKEA Butcher Block
Metal strip and screw anchoring into the butcher block

It is important to also check and make sure the countertops are level before anchoring them, but since you have already leveled the base cabinets, there shouldn’t be any major adjustments.  However, in a few places, we did adjust the angle pieces slightly to ensure the countertop was level.

how to install ikea butcher block countertops
My little helper.

Step 6: Caulk Joints

The last step is to caulk any joints where the slabs meet up. Honestly, we haven’t done this yet for some reason, but a clear silicone caulk for kitchen and bathrooms should do the trick!

Well that is how to Install IKEA butcher block countertops.  It’s really just a matter of cutting, finishing, and attaching.  This process wasn’t exactly hard for us but it was definitely intimidating.  IKEA butcher block countertops are reasonably priced but that does not mean we wanted to drive 2 hours back up to IKEA to purchase a new slab because we messed up the cuts.

My recommendation, if you are new to power tools and cutting, is to do some practice cuts first.  For example, we cut off over two feet of length from one slab and it wasn’t going to be used elsewhere so my husband mocked up the entire process (taping the cut line, drawing his cut line, and aligning the jig) and did a test cut on that section.  When that worked well and he had a feel for how much force it would require to push the saw through the cut, he setup and got to work on the actual cuts.

If you liked this post, check out more of our renovation process including tips and tricks to save you time and money.

DIY IKEA Kitchen: How Hard is it Really?
Old Kitchen Renovation: 8 Low Cost, Big Impact Solutions
How to Demo a Kitchen the Easy Way

Toddler Chore Chart

Last night after feeling the effects of late afternoon coffee, I decided it was time for Caleb, my toddler, to have a chore chart. Caleb is a little over 2.5 years old (31 months to be exact) and while that may seem early to kick off a toddler chore chart, a few interesting things have happened recently that convinced me otherwise.

First, and most importantly, we did a quick run into the grocery store yesterday for only a box of diapers, but of course, he saw the toy aisle as we sat in the checkout line. **Note to self, never stand in sight of the toy aisle!** Anyways, I wasn’t going to buy him a toy and so I quickly threw out a reason why he couldn’t buy a toy and knew, as all parents know, that it wasn’t going to do a thing to stop the incessant flow of “I want, I want” pouring out of him. I told him that he needed his paw patrol wallet and his money (a new Christmas present) if he wanted a toy but that I knew he had left it at home. I told him he could bring his wallet next time we came and buy a toy then. Y’ALL, IT WORKED!

Apparently this somehow made sense to him because suddenly the verbal explosion changed from “I want, I want” to “Daddy has my wallet. Need my wallet from Daddy’s car.”

The second factor that played into this was a conversation I had with a friend yesterday. We were talking about teaching our kids to count and the alphabet and such and I confessed that I long ago quit trying to have focused learning sessions. My active and very, very boy toddler has about a ten second attention span that leaves us both frustrated. Instead of sitting him down to look at letters or numbers, I try to incorporate it organically into his play. When he wants a push on the swing, I will only push him if he counts off each push. When he gets out of his range I have him repeat after me. We have fun with it and it makes swinging more interactive too. This method works well for him but it’s hard for me. I forget to have him count scoops or name the foam letters before he can have more soap bubbles. In short, I’m always looking for more opportunities to bring in learning, that way it’s okay if I don’t do it every single time we swing or bathe.

Honestly, the grocery store experience alone got me thinking about chore charts but it wasn’t until I came up with a chore chart idea that included learning and sight word practice that I decided now was the time.

Chores for Toddler Chore Chart

I’m worried about tying simple obedience to money and toys so I specifically chose jobs for his chore chart that are above and beyond the normal things I ask him to do like picking up his toys. For now, I came up with six chores and he will get “a money” for each to put in is piggy bank.

  1. Fork: He knows how to take the silverware out of the dishwasher and dump it into the silverware drawer. Organizing it into the right spots will hopefully come when he can actually see into the drawer!
  2. Bed: He will make his bed. We haven’t tried this one yet but I think he can do it!
  3. Mop: He loves to take around our water spray bottle and a wash cloth to clean spots on the floor.
  4. Sofa: He will fix the pillows and use he dust buster on our playroom sofa. He LOVES the dust buster so I think this one will be good!
  5. Potty: This is a new one, but a friend suggested keeping Clorox wipes near the toilet and letting him wipe his tee tee off the potty. I think it’s a fabulous idea and hoping it pans out well!
  6. Table: He will wipe down the coffee table and eating table in his playroom.

I intend to add a few more simple chores like cleaning the tub (mainly just wiping off the tub crayon marks), shoes (picking up all the shoes in the house and taking them to our closets), and maybe spoon and knife (same job as forks).

This morning we started with Saturday’s chore of “Table” and it went surprisingly well! He used a Clorox wipe to “clean” roughly half of his coffee table and 1/3 of his eating table. In truth, they looked just as dirty after his cleaning as they did before but the important thing is that he tried! After he was done cleaning he was super excited to come back to the chore chart to get his, not “monies,” “coins” he informed me, from the jar.

Before I gave him his coins I had him identify all the letters in “Table” and we practiced “T is for T T Table.” I also had him identify letter “S” and we did “S is for S S Saturday.” He also let me know it’s for “snake.” Made my heart so proud. Then he got his two coins which we counted and then he promptly took them to his piggy bank.

It was really fun, he was excited, and I’m excited about the prospect of teaching him about cleaning, working for things he wants, and even reading all at the same time.

I still hope to put a frame around the chore chart this afternoon to make it look a little more finished, but aside from that and getting it hung, it’s pretty well done!

I tried my best to make this a boy chore chart and give it a tough masculine feel that would appeal to him. I probably should have just put a big dump truck on it. Anyways, here’s my attempt at a toddler chore chart, from start of build to finish.

Check with me again in a week to see how this process is actually going!?!?!!

Toddler Chore Chart Build

I raided the scrap wood pile in the garage which is oddly low on any kind of decent lumber and only emerged with a rough cedar fence picket and a few other scraps of cedar.

Toddler Chore Chart

I took zero measurements on this before hand and just laid it out on the garage floor to try and gauge the size I wanted.  It’s a little shy of 3 feet wide and maybe 2.5 feet long.

Toddler Chore Chart

I put a few strips of wood on the back of the board and used our brad nailer to quickly shoot it together.

Toddler Chore Chart

Then I started thinking about layout and was SO thankful to see that six kraft paper notecards would fit on it nicely.  I decided we won’t do chores on Sunday since Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest.  Also, only six cards fit!

The mason jar will hold the money that Caleb can earn for his chores.  Right now I think it only has 75 cents because apparently we never use cash and thus accumulate change!  We will fill it up more though and then when he does a chore I will get him a coin from the jar that he can then put in his own piggy bank. We are on a 1 chore=1 coin system for now.
Toddler Chore Chart

After about an hour of looking at fonts, it is SOO hard to pick fonts y’all, I finally found one I liked and cut a stencil with my Cameo Silhouette machine. I cut the stencil into freezer paper and then ironed it on to the toddler chore chart.  I was worried about how well it would adhere but it worked pretty well and it is supposed to be a boy chore chart so it can be rustic and imperfect. Toddler Chore Chart Stencil

Here’s the stencil fully ironed on and my can of paint.  It’s actual the sample paint that we used when picking a color for the chimney.  I always hold onto extra paint for times like these!

Toddler Chore Chart Stencil

Next I started painting.  I recommend using a foam brush and doing more of a blotting technique then a brushing and dragging technique.  Blotting straight down will help keep the paint from seeping under in areas that aren’t adhered well.

The next step for the toddler chore chart was to cut the six days, iron them down, and TAPE around the edges.  I always use masking tape around the edges of my stencils is they are cut close to the edge to make sure I don’t accidentally paint over the edge.Weekly Toddler Chore ChartWeekly Toddler Chore Chart

The last step of peeling up the stencil is always the most fun.  All I had left was to attach a few hooks for the cards and money jar and make the chore cards.  My printer broke down so I just free-hand drew the cards and they are a little embarrassing!! Please don’t look to closely!

Simple Toddler Chore ChartSimple Toddler Chore ChartSimple Toddler Chore ChartHomemade Toddler Chore ChartBoys Toddler Chore Chart

I gave myself an hour for this project when I started.  I’m not sure who I was kidding.  When have I ever done a project that took an hour??  Six hours later I crawled into bed but I was happy to have my toddler chore chart fully ready to go.

If you like this toddler chore chart, here are a few other simple DIYs to check out:

How to Build a Sofa for $100 (it’s perfect for a playroom!)
DIY Hook Shelf
DIY Herb Garden

How To Build a Sofa for $100

I’m sitting in my living room right now and I can see my TV console table from a garage sale, my coffee table from an auction, a cute little cane-back chair from Craigslist, my sofa table from my Grandmother’s old home and my dining room table and chairs from Craigslist.  The only three pieces left are my upholstered sofa and two upholstered sitting chairs which I purchased new because y’all, I pretty much hate buying used upholstered furniture. How do you know that it’s really clean? What if someone peed on it, or worse?? Upholstered furniture and rugs are two things I prefer not to buy second hand, everything else though, absolutely.  But for this reason, I have not just once, but TWICE found myself wondering how to build a sofa…and on the cheap, no less!  Keep on reading (or just stroll on down) and I will teach you how to build a sofa for roughly $100.

The first time I figured out how to build a sofa was for my college apartment.  I had little more than a mattress to my name and needed a cheap solution for a sofa.  I wish I had pictures of that beauty but alas, they were on an old computer that bit the dust.  This time around, I needed to build a sofa for two reasons.  First, I again had no money for a sofa.  We bought a fixer upper so of course, all our money has been headed that direction and not so much on the perfect furniture to fill it.  More importantly though, because I could have been patient and found a leather sofa for $300 or so that would have fit into the budget, I HAVE SMALL CHILDREN.  My small children are GROSS.  They wipe buggers on things.  They smear jelly everywhere.  They have poop explosions and pee down their leg and don’t even care.

What I needed and wanted was the least expensive seating solution that I could possible come up with.  I considered bean bags, floor pillows, and secondhand sofas.  But then I remembered that awesome sofa I built in college and wished so bad that I hadn’t left it behind at some point.  My brain kicked into gear and I realized that not only do I know how to build a sofa, I know how to build a sofa better than the first time around and for CHEAP.  Ding, ding, ding….sofa building time.

The hubs was just SOO thrilled with this idea but, because he’s used to it, he went along with it and even helped me.  I promised I could make this sofa for under $100 and that’s exactly what I did.  Here’s the deets on how to build a sofa for $100 including mediocre instructions and poor photography:

How to Build a Sofa:

DIY Sofa Supplies:

The Plan:

This high quality, super fancy plan shows you exactly how to build a sofa.  Okay, maybe it’s not too impressive but it is legitimately all I worked from and for this project, it is all you need.  Since it is kinda hard to read, here’s a break-out of the main dimensions:

Back Panel – 75″ x 32″

Seat panel- 72″ x 32″

Arm Panels- 28″ x 32″

Middle Support (not drawn)- 14″ by 32″

Step 1- Cut the Doors

All three panels need to be cut across the width.  In other words, they will all get shorter or chopped into many pieces.  They will not get narrower.  I don’t have a picture of the cutting stage, but I used a circular saw with a Kreg Rip Cut to make sure my cuts were perfectly straight.  if you do not have a Kreg Rip Cut, you can use a straight piece of lumber and some clamps to create a jig.  The dimensions for each piece are as follows:

Door 1: Back Panel – 75″ x 32″

Door 2: Seat panel- 72″ x 32″

Door 3:  Arm Panels- 28″ x 32″ and Middle Support (not drawn)- 14″ by 32″

Step 2: Screw panels together

Start by screwing the back panel to the arms to make a big C shape.  Then attach the middle support.

Pay attention to the raw edges. Where possible, put the raw edge on the bottom or consealed against another panel so it won’t be seen. Some raw edges will inevitably show and will be addressed in Step 3.

I screwed straight through the outside panels so the screw heads are visible on the outside of the sofa.  I considered using pocket holes but since the doors are not solid wood, I was worried that the particle-ly interior would not make for strong connections.  I painted over the screws in the last step and they all but disappeared.

Tip: build this in its final place. It is HEAVY when it’s finished.

Step 3: Fill Raw Edges

Fill the raw edges with joint compound. Use the paint scraper to apply a layer of joint compound. Let the layer dry and then apply additional layers until the roughness is completely hidden. After applying each layer, use a damp wash cloth to wipe up excess from the sides. Also use sand paper to lightly sand and smooth after each layer.

How to Build a Sofa, filling raw edges with joint compound
Fill raw edges with joint compound.
How to build a sofa, filling raw edges with joint compound.
Horizontal edge of the sofa arm is after the first layer. Vertical side of the sofa back shows after two layers but before sanding and smoothing.
How to build a sofa, filling raw edges
Horizontal sofa arm is receiving second coat. Vertical edge to sofa back panel has two coats and is sanded, smoothed, and ready for paint.

Step 4: Paint

You can paint however you think best. I used leftover eggshell wallpaint and a foam roller to apply it.

How to build a sofa, paint sofa.
I painted the back panel before I attached it. I don’t think it matters a whole lot which order you paint, but you will be painting the raw, cut edges after it is put together which is why I made this step 4 in the How To.

Step 5: Attach Shelf Brackets

Attach the shelf brackets for additional support. I placed two on each end and two on the long back side for a total of six.  To attach the brackets, first use a level to draw a line that marks the bottom of the seating panel (use the top of the middle support as your reference point). Then align the shelf brackets with that line, mark the screw holes, drill, and attach.  Then place the seating panel on top and screw it to the shelf brackets.

Step 6: Upholster

Y’all, I’m no pro when it comes to sewing and upholstering so I’m not going to give a detailed how-to on this portion. There’s far better tutorials on DIY upholstery then I could ever write: like this one. In case you want to wing it like I did though, here’s a few details: I used this foam from JoAnns, this painters cloth for fabric, and this batting to wrap the cushion.

NOTE:  The cushion linked above is actually not as deep as the sofa is.  There is a gap between the back of the cushion and the back of the sofa.  The back pillows or cushion hides the gap and the functionality of the sofa is not affected.

how to build a sofa and upholder the cushion
Iron the fabric first to remove wrinkles
How to build a sofa and upholster a seat cushion
Cut the fabric to size. Don’t forget to account for a seam allowance!

Sorry I don’t have any pictures of it actually being sewn together.  One thing to note is that you probably want to use either a zipper or velcro (thats what I did) on the backside so that it can be removed and washed!

How to Build a Sofa
I sprayed the foam cushion with this glue (available from lowes) to help the batting stick.

For the sofa back cushions, you can either repeat the process above and create an additional back cushion or you can use pillows.  We had some extra European style pillows around the house so I just decided to throw those on and call it a day!

The Finished Sofa

We’ve been abusing this sofa for over a year now and I am so happy to say that it still looks great and I don’t regret for one moment the effort that I put into it.  I’ve washed the seat cover numerous times, like right after my toddler wet his pants on it, and it has held up fine.  That one episode was enough to make happy I built this sofa that I fully intend to throw  away once the kids are a little older and potty trained.

The places I filled with joint compound look just as good as the day I painted them.  I was worried about cracking and chipping in those areas but that hasn’t happened at all.  At first my husband was afraid to sit on the sofa with me but he has since gotten over it.  I’m proud to say that it can support the whole family without any issue!

One neat upgrade I added after the fact is an eating table attached to the back.  It’s perfect for my toddler to sit at and eat his breakfast…yes, in front of the TV because we all need our slow mornings!

Eating table attached to back of DIY Sofa
Eating table attached to back of sofa

Looking for more DIY furniture? Check out these other posts:

DIY Crib
$10 Hook Shelf
Cable Spool Ottoman


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Chic on a Shoe String

Install Tile Backsplash in Kitchen

Back in June it seemed completely absurd to think I would install the tile backsplash in our kitchen before our new baby boy was due to show up in mid August.  I was well over half-way through my pregnancy, my belly was HUGE, and I found myself spending more and more time sitting on the sofa and putting cartoons on for our toddler.  But then it hit me, if I didn’t install the tile backsplash in the kitchen BEFORE the baby showed up, I sure as heck wasn’t going to get it done afterwards! So, at 35 weeks pregnant, with very little knowledge or experience and a whole lot of hope and desperation, I embarked on the extremely daunting task of installing a tile backsplash in our kitchen.

In my usual style, like the time I let someone rip out the kitchen while Matt was hunting, I waited till my husband was sleeping and dove in deep enough into the project that he would be forced to let me continue and finish by the time he found out.  Here’s  my tutorial on installing a tile backsplash in the kitchen and our final reveal photos.

This is me after I finished my first night of work on this project. I was a MESS and look at that giant belly! Gosh I don’t miss being pregnant!

Steps to Install Tile Backsplash in Kitchen

Determine Tile Layout

The first step to install a tile backsplash in the kitchen is actually to determine the layout of the tile because this may determine the exact dimensions of the area you prep for the tile substrate.  For instance, maybe you want to do some weirdness like the stair step effect in the picture below.

Address the Substrate

The next step to install a tile backsplash in your kitchen is to address the substrate. Our kitchen never had a “real” backsplash.  It had stick-on vinyl floor tiles over sheetrock.  I removed the tiles and then used a utility knife to cut out the sheetrock in the areas I intended to put tile.  This might be just the areas around your stove and sink or it might be the entire length of the counter top. Make sure you turn off the power to the outlets in the area you are working in so that you do not accidentally shock yourself!

Cut out sheetrock to install tile backsplash in kitchen
Cut out sheetrock to install proper substrate for tile backsplash in kitchen

tip: Cut the sheetrock opening so that the vertical edges are halfway through the width of one stud so that you can secure the tile backer board edges directly to the studs.

After I cut out the sheetrock, I cut the tile backer to size and screwed it into the opening.  I finally enlisted the hubs to help me finish this step.  Tile backer is heavy and the angle was very awkward with my giant stomach so he stepped in and hung the boards over the stove.

Gather Supplies and Protect Surrounding Areas

At this stage it is almost time to start applying thinset and attaching your tiles.  First though, your countertop, walls, and even the bottoms of your cabinets need to be covered and protected from the thin-set.  Applying thinnest, especially for a novice, can be fairly messy and since it is an abrasive substance, it can easily damage things when you try to clean it up.  I used masking tape and brown contractor paper to cover my countertops and surrounding areas.

For supplies, you will need:

  • Trowel
  • Tile Saw
  • Water Spray Bottle
  • Gloves
  • Thinset

Trowels come with grooves of many different sizes that correspond to the size of the tiles you are adhering.  Make sure you read the description on the trowel label closely and select the right one.  Applying the thinset too thickly can make it hard to keep your tiles even and in the same plane where as applying it to thin can mean they might fall off.

Apply Thinset and Adhere Tiles

This is where the fun starts!  Use the trowel to apply thinset to the backer board.  I found it easiest to spread an area of approximately 2 feet by 1 foot using the smooth edge of the trowel.  After I had spread it over that area, I would flip the trowel to the groove side and re-run the same area to remove the excess. The trick here is to spread enough at once that you can attach several tiles but not so much that it begins to set before you get to it.  This balance is further complicated by the need to cut tiles as you go in many cases.  I used the water spray bottle to keep the thinset moist as I worked and cut tiles.  Though not a perfect solution, this did seem to give me more time while working.

After you have some thinset on, gently press the tiles into the thinset.  Keeping the tiles straight and square is very important at this step. The sheets of mosaic tiles really really helped with keeping things aligned correctly.


The last step to install a tile backsplash in the kitchen was the hardest for me.  The first hurdle is to select your grout color and type.  Sanded and Non-Sanded grouts are available and they come pre-mixed or mix-on-site.  My first mistake in this step was selecting a sanded grout instead of unwanted.  The general guideline is to use sanded for joints over 1/8″ and non-sanded for points smaller than 1/8.  Of course, the joints of my tile were almost exactly 1/8″ so I wasn’t sure which way to go.  If you find yourself in the same position, go with unsanded.  The smooth finish will be easier to wipe clean in the kitchen.

Grouting Supplies:

Prepare the grout exactly per the instructions on the bag.  It is a chemical reaction so it is especially important that the water to grout-mix is correct.  It is not simply a “get it wet and let it dry” type deal.  Use the drill and mixer arm to mix the grout thoroughly.

After the grout is mixed and ready, get ready and get going as quickly as possible. The grout is starting to cure as soon as it is mixed. If possible, enlist a second person to help with this step.  The best and fastest process, for newbies at least, is to have one person applying the grout into the joints while the other person is wiping up the excess from the tiles with the sponge.  A spray bottle with water is helpful in this step too to help extend the curing time.

I, of course, was working while everyone slept and so I tried to do it all by myself.  Inevitably, I waited too long to clean some areas and ended up with grout that was cured onto my tiles.  I nearly ruined my entire backsplash.

Grout install for tile backsplash in kitchen
At this stage I was nearly positive I had ruined everything!

If you find yourself with rock hard grout all over your tiles like I did, don’t panic, it may be fixable.  I used a razor blade scraper and a mix of warm water and vinegar sprayed onto the tiles and was able to oh-so-slowly remove all the excess from my tiles.  I’m fairly certain that some softer natural stone tiles would have been completely ruined by this process though.  Praise the Lord that my tiles were very hard and did not scratch!

Seal the Grout

Your tiles most likely came from the factory pre-sealed but that is not the case for the grout. The grout needs to be sealed so that it is water proof and stain proof.  I can’t remember which sealant we used but it was just something common from Home Depot or Lowes and it has worked great so far.  Sealant is clear and about the consistency of water and you can just use a cheap paint brush to paint it on.

Final Reveal Pictures

Want to see more about our DIY kitchen remodel?  Check these out:

Old Kitchen Renovation: 8 Low Cost, Big Impact Solutions
DIY Ikea Kitchen: How Hard is it Really?
The Kitchen is Functional!
How to Demo a Kitchen the Easy Way
1970’s Kitchen Reno Tips
Kitchen Renovation: Oh No! We Need a New Kitchen


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The Dedicated House

Soup Bar Dinner Party

Soup Bar

It has finally gotten cold in Texas; we even had snow this year!! With that, it is finally time for soups, chilis, and the holidays.   With Christmas gatherings just a few days away and New Years right after that, I wanted to share this super simple soup bar dinner idea for a big group.

A few years ago I attempted  this soup bar party and it was a hit.  Not only was the soup festive and tasty, I was able to make all the soup ahead of time and we were able to freeze a ton of extra soup that lasted us throughout the winter.  Though I actually made all the soup myself since my brothers were both still bachelors, it work great as a pot luck or “bring your own soup” party.

Soup Bar Menu

I decided to go with tomato, broccoli cheddar, and baked potato soup.  I also added a plate of grilled cheese with bacon sandwiches to the dinner spread.  The men in my family have quite the appetite so serving meat was essential. The sandwiches were also great for dipping in the tomato soup.  I think the overall menu for a well-rounded soup bar dinner includes:

  • a variety of soups
  • bread or sandwich for dipping
  • some kind of meat, either bacon or as a part of a chili
  • toppings like sour cream, bacon bits, green onions, cheese


Serving A Soup Bar Dinner

Since my idea was that everyone would hopefully enjoy multiple soups, I needed lots of bowls.  I scavenged my kitchen and came up with my regular bowls, ramekins, and mason jars.  The ramekins were actually the perfect size.  I also brought out my largest plates that we basically used as a trey for the bowls and also for the grilled cheeses.

To make clean up really easy, I put down some brown paper underneath the serving area to catch drips.  Then I used my Cameo Silhouette to make a quick stencil to write out the menu.  I am so thankful for my Silhouette that saves the world from seeing and knowing about my atrocious handwriting!

Overall, this was a super easy, super relaxed dinner party that I’m looking forward to redoing before too long.  Just remember to have LOTS of bacon if your men eat like mine do!

Soup Recipes

I almost did not include this subheading because the truth is that of the three soups I made at this party, only one is something I’ve made again.  Im still looking for great recipes for tomato and broccoli cheddar soup.  If you have one, please leave it in the comments section!  However, I DO have an awesome baked potato soup recipe.  It is in the Southern Living Comfort Food cook book and it is really great and totally bad for you.  Everything in this cookbook tastes fantastic and is generally not good for you.  “Comfort Food” actually just means “food with lard in it” as best I can tell.  Regardless, it’s absolutely worth having in your kitchen!