Teen Bedroom Update // $100 Room Challenge

We have a new house and so many projects on the list to make it our own! The $100 Room Challenge couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. I’m excited to see just how much we can do with that $100 budget and the month-long timeframe for our Teen Bedroom Update.

The month of August was a whirlwind. We moved into our new house three weeks ago and tried to get settled in as quickly as possible. School started and all has been going fairly smoothly there. And all of the other things that are part of regular life carry on all around it – work, cleaning the house, kids’ activities, and so much more. Life has a lot of moving parts right now.


That doesn’t stop the urge to start making this new house our own. I have SO many plans and ideas. Simply repainting everything is going to take weeks, especially while trying to fit it in among the everyday stuff. That’s not a deterrent, just a consideration. ūüėČ The motivation and the enthusiasm leave no real room for overwhelm. Besides, the only one setting a timeline on any of this is me.

I may not be able to do everything, but I can do anything I choose to do.

$100 Room Challenge

As luck would have it, September brings with it the $100 Room Challenge. I’ve participated in the challenge a couple of times before, taking one room in the house and updating it in a single month with a $100 budget. It’s a lot of fun working on a project “with” so many other people and I always look forward to seeing all of the different styles and directions everyone takes with the project. And with a brand new house to work with and so many plans already on the agenda, it really is perfect timing.

I spent a couple of weeks letting the ideas roll around in my head, trying to decide which room I want to start on first.

-The living room is the most-used room and the one any visitors will see. But we are buying new furniture and that certainly won’t fit the $100 budget.

-The laundry room seems do-able. I have ideas for a wall treatment I want to try and I could probably stay under budget by finding a cabinet at the ReStore instead of buying a new one. But it hardly seems like a room that should take first priority.

-I know what I want to do with a mud room style area in the garage and the stairs leading into the house. I think we have enough supplies left over from installing the shelves in the garage to get it all done on a small budget. But the projects would require the husband’s help and he doesn’t have a lot of free time this month.

-The family space downstairs has so much potential. It includes a media room with a kitchenette (actually, it’s larger than the main kitchen) and a bonus area we don’t quite know what to do with yet. The rooms are full of possibilities. It’s such a large space, I considered taking a different track with the project and seeing exactly how far I could get with the $100 budget, knowing none of the rooms would truly be finished at the end of the project.

The room I chose is…

Kaitlyn’s bedroom!

Yep, I’m doing a Teen Bedroom Update for the $100 Room Challenge.

My daughter is just as excited as I am to make the house our own. Kaitlyn is almost 17 and takes after her mom in so many ways. It’s no surprise that she has ideas for her bedroom and would love to tackle it as soon as possible. She was right there with me, grabbing handfuls of paint samples at Home Depot the weekend we moved into the house. ūüėú

Teen Bedroom Update // Before Photos

Before I put on my paint clothes and get to work, let me show you the room!

We’re working with a pretty blank canvas here. The walls are kind of a cream color, leaning toward yellow, and the ceilings are the same color. The color is definitely not my favorite.

Kaitlyn’s bedroom is the smallest of the four bedrooms in the house. The closet is small as well. (The closet would be the door on the left.)

The bedroom has its own attached bathroom (the door in the center), which just happens to have the best shower in the house – so that more than makes up for the smaller bedroom. Her room is also the only bedroom on the lower level, so that holds a lot of appeal for a teenager.

That space in the corner behind the door is kind of awkward. We’re still working on a plan for that area.

The house is also very brown. Kaitlyn’s room is in the basement, so we want to brighten it up with some color on the walls. The doors and trim will be going white.

As for the rest of the plans for the room, I’ll tell you about those as we go forward with the project. Spoiler alert – the bedroom update obviously involves a lot of paint, but considering our schedule for this week, I don’t think we’ll tackle painting the room just yet!

I’m excited to see which rooms the other $100 Room Challenge participants have chosen! You can check them out here:

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

I’ll be back next Wednesday with a progress report on the Teen Bedroom Update – stay tuned!

Getting Back to Blogging

Hello! Hi! How are ‘ya?!

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post.

That didn’t really happen on purpose. Life gets in the way and other things take priority. I’m sure you’d all nod along with me if I start listing the reasons and the ways in which that happened – life is busy and full and Moms just can’t do everything! ūüėČ

So here I sit at 4:11 AM (yes, you read that right. The husband just left for work and I can’t get back to sleep. Though it wouldn’t be unusual for me to be awake at this time of the morning…but that’s a whole other blog post!), for the second morning in a row, thinking about how many things I’d love to blog about.

So I’m just going to take that leap.

For a while there, I not only thought about, but really did put some time and effort into blogging. It wasn’t enough to turn it into a “job” but I was working on heading that direction. But…

Oh so many “buts.” The reality is that eventually the list of things I wanted to blog about far outweighed the time and energy I had to devote to it. And the more I learned about SEO, and Alt Text, and the best images for Pinterest, the longer it took to write a single blog post. When it came time to renew my blog hosting, I simply let it lapse. And despite twinges about letting it go and all of the content disappearing, it just didn’t make sense to pursue something that, in that time and place, wasn’t a priority. It didn’t even make it on the Top 10 list.

That was somewhere around the beginning of the year, and over the months, the urge to blog would appear here and there – especially when I would see people repinning (on Pinterest) my blog posts that were no longer attached to actual content! That is where I found myself again yesterday morning, thinking that “eventually” I would…

Well, that I would do all kinds of things. Because frankly, early mornings like that are when you can often find my brain whirling with ideas.

I ran across a concept months ago about how we all get so much INPUT every day, consuming social media, and emails, and podcasts, and reading books, and interacting with people, and so on. About how easy it is to let that be how we live life, with all of that coming into our heads, especially as the first thing we would do every day. And instead, it was suggested that starting the day with OUTPUT, like writing or journaling first thing in the morning, might be a better option.

That made SO much sense to me, and although I’ve never considered myself a writer, my life right now does involve a lot of writing, I also read a few books on writing and found one of the consistent suggestions was having a dedicated time and place to write. So, at some point, I decided that all that quiet, empty time early in the morning, when the house was dark and I couldn’t do anything “productive” would be a good time to write (stuff for work, journaling, scrapbooking, etc – not specifically blog posts).

I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually followed through with that goal, but in my head, it still remains something I want to do.

Then the A-ha moment yesterday. Blogging doesn’t HAVE to be done any certain way. I don’t have to either post consistently or not at all. I don’t have to pursue putting it out there or getting more followers, if I don’t want to. I can simply take it back to what I spent years doing as a hobby – sharing things when I felt the urge to do so. And I don’t have to rein in the rambling, if I don’t want to ūüėČ

All of that to say, I’m reviving the blog here – on a free, “unprofessional” site! – and I’m just going to let it be what it wants to be.

So, let me give you a picture of what life looks like right now for me.

We are in a season of so many transitions right now. My kids are both teenagers and I’m actually loving these ages. They have their ups and downs and I’m learning a lot. (and feeling the urge to share some of that insight – so you’ll probably see some blog posts about that)

We just moved into a new house. In fact, it was three weeks ago yesterday. The whole process was both something we had been thinking about for a while, and also an unexpected, crazy-fast whirlwind once things got started (and not without its hurdles – you’ll probably see some blog posts about that).

We unpacked pretty quickly and are mostly settled in. Those that know me well will already be predicting that I have a mile-long list of projects and ideas for the house. (You’ll definitely see some blog posts about that!)

We walked through some really interesting houses…
(seriously, doesn’t everyone need a pink and purple claw foot tub?!)

We moved back to our home town about 6 years ago (wow, time flies!), with the intention to build our dream house on the family farm. That still hasn’t happened (it’s on the list!), but we did end up buying a Fixer Upper and doing SO much work to make it our own. (I would love to share about that – you’ll probably see some blog posts) But, the house was pretty small, and we wanted a little space to spread out. In my head, I just figured we would probably end up with another Fixer Upper and have to put in the work again. The housing market here is crazy though. Almost anything that goes up for sale is snapped up in no time and you never know what will be available at any point. We walked through some really interesting houses with huge potential (and needing SO much work!). The house we purchased is actually NOT a Fixer Upper, which is kind of a relief. As I’ve already mentioned though – I have SO many ideas for making it more functional for our lives, more our style and taste, etc, etc.

I may not be pursuing my own blog as a career right now, but I do maintain websites/blog/social media for a couple of people. I have also been dipping my toes back in the Interior Design world. It’s interesting how things come around again. I went to school for Interior Design and did that for a few years before I decided to be a full time stay-at-home-mom when my youngest was born. Now, I semi-regularly help out a long-time friend (and college roommate!) with her design business. All of these pursuits are kind of evolving as we go along, and I’m getting a lot of practice at letting life flow, taking things one step at a time, prioritizing different things on different days…

As I said – transitions.

It also happens to be the end of August and I can see Fall on the horizon. The kids are back in school and that is going to be an exercise in flexibility and changes on all our parts. With the restrictions and considerations of the pandemic, things work differently for school and sports and all the things. We’re all figuring it out as we go.

I think that can be said for everything in life right now. I’m just figuring it out as I go.

Polar Express Party


In November I was asked to help with the decorations for the church Christmas party.  The person organizing it knew she wanted the theme to be Polar Express but at that point she was still nailing down the details.  We tossed around the idea of making a ticket booth or a big train out of cardboard coming out of the wall.

Fast forward to just after Thanksgiving when we returned from our big vacation to Florida (Disney tips coming soon!) and had a small break in between holidays and we spoke about plans again.  This person was finding a train backdrop and that person was making the ticket booth and so-and-so was in charge of getting some guys together to hang lights.  And for me?  Well she wanted to cover up ALL the ugly carpet on the walls with paper and would I paint some silver trees on that paper?



I spent chunks of that next week painting trees on the floor of the kitchen, one 6 foot section of paper at a time. ¬†I did have some help lined up but once I got started I decided there just wasn’t enough space for more than one person to work on it. ¬†Don’t feel too badly though – a lot of the time was spent waiting for the paint to dry (not one of my favorite things). ¬†Once I got into the rhythm I would spend maybe 10 minutes (20 on the big leafless trees) on the trees, let them dry for a bit, another few minutes for highlights, then let it dry completely.


I am not an artist but one thing crafting has taught me is not to be afraid of trying something new. ¬†And I did ok on my tree during paint night last spring. ūüėČ ¬†So I did a quick internet search for images of trees for inspiration and just ran with it.


Pretty cool huh?  All pulled together with the twinkle lights and everything it was pretty impressive.


Other than my trees, there were a lot of fun party details


The tickets/invitations (aren’t they adorable?)


The ticket booth, where the bishop dressed as the conductor and punched tickets as everyone arrived.


The entry to the gym. ¬†Isn’t that duct tape train track a nice touch?


The young women and activity days girls did all the coffee filter trees and the snowflakes.  Impressive.


The party was held at 9:00 AM on a Saturday. ¬†Everyone wore their pajamas and they two buffet tables set up with french toast casseroles, sausage, fruit, milk and juice. ¬†They also had a fun hot chocolate bar. ¬†I didn’t get photos of anything after people started arriving since I kept running into people I hadn’t seen in a while and was having fun just visiting.


They had conductors set up to punch tickets at each of the stations (arrival, hot chocolate, Santa, etc) but I don’t think the guests were fully clued into that part of the party as I didn’t see much punching going on.


Once everyone had started eating. they had someone sit on stage and read the Polar Express, along with showing a few clips from the movie.  They also had a young couple with a brand new baby dress up as Mary and Joseph.  Then Santa arrived!


I was Santa’s helper for the morning and oh what fun to see all the interactions with Santa and the kids (and the teens and the adults!). ¬†Santa was in top form and was really hamming it up for photos.


Little gift bags from Santa held a silver bell, train whistles and treats.


They also had family photos being taken in front of the big train backdrop by one of the members with her professional photographer set up.


It was a little more work than I was expecting when I agreed to help, but all in all I’m very glad I agreed. ¬†Everything turned out nicely and, even better, I got to spend some time with a lot of great people I wouldn’t have had the chance to see otherwise.

Have you done something new this Christmas season that has added to your holiday experience?  I would love to hear about it!




Linking to:  Home Matters Party, Wow Me Wednesday,

Do I really want to simplify this holiday season?


Today we are hitting the tail end of what has been one of the most eventful weeks I have had in a very long time. ¬†I’m not sure why things didn’t end up more spread out this month but events seemed to happen back to back to back this week. ¬†We had birthday parties and band concerts and shopping to do and gifts to wrap and elves to supervise (tons of elf on the shelf inspiration here and here if you need it!) and I joined in on a couple of things I don’t normally do for the holidays. ¬†Plus add in keeping up on the routine things like running kids to the orthodontist, checking homework, cleaning the house, volunteering in Tyler’s classroom, paying bills, running errands, and getting the husband to cook dinner as often as possible…

(I’ve been trying to take at least one photo a day for at least a partial attempt at December Daily so feel free to check out what I’ve been up to on my Instagram feed. )

Among all of this I keep seeing mentions of simplifying the holidays on social media and it has me wondering Рdo I really want to simplify my holidays this year?  Did I somehow take on too much or do it wrong this time around?

I hate feeling like I’m rushed or stressed and typically I’m pretty good at saying “no” to things that will bring too much of that into my life. ¬†I almost always plan ahead and try to get the prep work done for big projects, parties, etc. days or weeks before they need to be done because I dislike doing anything last-minute. ¬†My goal for Christmas is to have the majority of my gift shopping done by December 1st and here it is the 11th and I’m still missing things and in some cases I don’t even had decent gift ideas figured out.

When I pulled out my calendar Thanksgiving weekend and realized that we had committed to sooooooo many things that fell this second week of December I had a moment of panic wondering how we were going to handle it all. ¬†I’ve been hoping daily that I won’t get sick because things would come to screeching halt if I did. ¬†I have had to keep pretty close track of my time and priorities since then. ¬†And there has been more than one night when my elf alarm (yes I set a nightly alarm on my phone for 30 minutes past bedtime to help me remember those elves) went off and I found myself wishing Tyler was ready to move on to being Santa’s helper along with his big sister (not that I ever want to wish my kids older or more experienced and jaded than they are – they grow up WAY too fast already).


I haven’t regretted a single event or plan we made this week. ¬†Not one.

My son had an awesome amazing birthday and a crazy chaotic joyful birthday party (birthday on Monday, party Friday night. blog post to be determined!).

My daughter shone in her band concert, more poised and confidant each time one of these comes around.

Our Bunco Christmas party was a pajama-clad, gift-stealing, fun tradition.

I got to know a lot of great people in the neighborhood and renew acquaintances with other fantastic people I haven’t seen in a long time while I spent hours helping decorating for the church party (a church I don’t actually attend). ¬†It turned out beautifully and there is satisfaction in that along with the pleasure of watching the party itself happen. ¬†I was busy most of the party as well, playing Santa’s helper and the interactions between Santa and the kids, teens, and even the adults were so fun to watch. ¬†(Santa was really on his game yesterday – it was awesome). ¬†PS – I’ll blog about the party details soon!

And for the first time since high school (I think we hit the 20 year reunion this year!) I took the opportunity to sing with a big choir at the community Christmas concert last night (a much bigger event than I knew it would be when I signed up).

So my take-away from this week?

Sometimes putting in the extra effort is totally worth it.

No matter what you are doing or what you may need to be doing in an hour, be fully in the moment and enjoy that one thing on its own.


Don’t be afraid to say yes.

Do I recommend filling every week to the brim?  Nope.  Do I want to take on every single thing someone asks me to do?  Nuh-uh.  Do I intend to take one day next week and spend it on the couch binge watching a show, drinking hot chocolate and forgetting everything else for an afternoon?  Absolutely.

Life isn’t about doing only the minimum or cutting out some of the hoopla simply because it’s what other people are doing. ¬†I think we need to give ourselves things to look forward to.

You can’t do everything but you can do anything you choose.

So choose wisely but don’t be afraid to push yourself a bit. ¬†I don’t think you’ll regret it either.

Happy December!
We are now off to the big gingerbread house decorating party with the husband’s family…



Gilmore Girls Care Package (or Gift Basket idea)

It’s the day after Thanksgiving – do you know what that means?!?

Ok, yeah so some of you said Black Friday shopping.  Yes, you could be doing that.

And someone else probably said something about putting out their holiday decorations. ¬†I’m on board with that. ¬†We put up our tree this morning.

But what I’m actually talking about is the fact that new episodes of Gilmore Girls are out today! ¬†Bring on the junk food and binge watch all the shows!


I have a couple of good friends from high school who are big fans of Gilmore Girls, just like I am. ¬†We used to talk about the show quite often when we would get together in the years right after college (we had a standing Saturday with the Girls once a month for years – such a fun tradition). ¬†In fact, when the series ended we all got together and had a party to watch the final episode together – complete with matching T-shirts and themed food. ¬†It’s fun to have friends that like to put that little bit of extra fun into things, isn’t it?

When I heard about the Gilmore Girls revival I knew I wanted to involve my friends somehow. ¬†We haven’t managed a big get together in quite a few years and with both of my friends having new babies recently I knew planning some sort of viewing party wasn’t in the cards. ¬†So I came up with the idea of putting together a Gilmore Girls themed care package to surprise them with.

And now that I’ve sent out the package and don’t have to worry about ruining the surprise, I can share its contents with you! ¬†ūüėČ


When it comes to care packages or gift baskets, a lot of the wow factor comes from the packaging, right? ¬†I always take a minute to decorate the inside of the box when I’m mailing something special. ¬†In this case I grabbed some patterned paper from my stash and printed out a few funny Gilmore Girls memes.


Don’t forget to decorate the bottom of the box! ¬†It’s always fun to think you’ve reached the end and find something that gives you one last smile.


Inside the box:
-a coffee cup. ¬†Of course, it wouldn’t be Gilmore Girls if there’s wasn’t some mention of coffee, right? ¬†And even though my buddies aren’t really coffee drinkers, the cup works just as well for hot chocolate ūüėČ
-Pop Tarts
-junk food!  Lots and lots of sugar in fun movie theater sizes
-printable quote from the theme song that I turned into a bookmark.  Had to have some sort of reference to books, right?  Printable found HERE
-fortune cookies
Gilmore Girls Bingo cards
-and a few “things I learned from Gilmore Girls” quotes that I printed and scattered among all the items in the box (You can find links to these and a few other ideas I didn’t use on my Just the Girls Pinterest Board)
*quick tip on mailing care packages – using Regional Rate A boxes is a great way to save money. ¬†They are only slightly smaller than the Flat Rate Medium boxes but because they calculate the rates based on distance travelled and I was shipping In State I paid about half the cost of a Medium Flat Rate box. ¬†The catch is that post offices don’t typically stock them, you have to order them (for free) in bundles of 10 or 25 through USPS online.


I had a lot of fun putting these together and I’m sure it was quite the surprise when my friends found the packages in their mailbox last week.

I think it’s about time to grab a blanket and some snacks and settle in for a Gilmore Girls marathon this afternoon, don’t you?



Linking to:  Wow Me Wednesday

Elf Antics – 24 Days of Elf on the Shelf Fun


It’s that time of year again! ¬†Halloween is over, Thanksgiving plans are well under way and all of the stores are decked out for the holidays…bring on the Christmas prep! ¬†For me that means lists – gift lists, shopping lists, projects lists, Christmas card lists, and lists of ideas for our Christmas elves.

Our elves always show up on the first of December and spend the month with us keeping an eye on the kiddos for Santa, as well as having a little fun themselves (sometimes too much fun!).  The kids look forward to the visit from the elves and it adds a little daily fun and magic to the season for all of us.

Our elves have been making their appearance for almost 10 years now (yes, I looked it up ūüėČ ¬†I started this tradition in 2007), well before the Elf on the Shelf concept took on the recognition and popularity it has today. ¬†So our elves don’t look like all of the other elves and they don’t have quite the same rules as the official Elf on the Shelf. ¬†In fact, our elves love to get hugs from the kids and to play with them during the day.

To keep things fresh and fun year after year I do have to put in some planning time (thank goodness for Pinterest, right? ¬†I have tons of ideas on my Holiday Elf on the Shelf board) so I’ve been pulling together ideas and reviewing photos of our Elf Antics from years past and I thought I would share a sample year with you.

This is what our elves were up to every day in December a couple of years ago.  (My kids were ages 11 and 8 at the time)


Day 1 – Sure enough, Tinsel and Twinkle arrived at our house on schedule bringing with them Lego advent calendars for the kids.

Day 2 – found them in the storage room where they had pulled out most of Grandma’s games and toys. ¬†Photo is courtesy of Kaitlyn, who was quick to inform me when I got back from the gym that morning and found the kids playing Jenga that she knew I liked to take photos before we moved the Elves and had made sure to do so. ¬†(Isn’t she the greatest?!)

Day 3 – in the bathroom, where Twinkle was tangled in Kaitlyn’s headbands and Tinsel had drawn a Rudolph head on the mirror.

Day 4 – the elves had put up a “tent” using one of the pool towels so they could hide while they created Top Secret missions for the kids.
Wonder what’s in the envelope…. ¬† (printable found here. ¬†Awesome idea)


Day 5 was Tyler’s birthday so the elves had made an attempt to decorate with crepe paper but got distracted playing with the party games.

Day 6 – the elves we cozily reading a book together in the rocking chair

Day 7 – had decorated the photo wall in the office using dry erase markers

Day 8 – Perler bead creations

Day 9: they got into all of the treats left over from the birthday party


Day 10:  must have been taking inspiration from my (body builder) brother.  Looks like Tinsel might benefit from a few personal trainer sessions.

Day 11: ¬†found the sled on top of the entertainment center in the living room. ¬†I’m told Twinkle almost met with a horrible accident when she toppled off and my brother’s pit bull picked her up. ¬†Luckily, the husband saw it and pried her out of his mouth before any damage was done.

Day 12: ¬†packed the kids’ lunchboxes

Day 13:  changed out the light bulb in the hallway for a pretty stained-glass one.  Tyler said it looked like they were having a dance party.

Day 14: ¬†climbing the Christmas tree. ¬†I’m afraid it looks like Tinsel must have taken a tumble or two.


Day 15: hot chocolate! ¬†They found a special Cookies and Cream version from Stephen’s – MMMMMM

 Day 16:  crepe paper Christmas tree

Day 17:  time for a Nerf dart war

Day 18:  the elves found the tablet and had used it to take photos of themselves (by the Christmas tree, posing by the dog, random selfies, etc) then used them as the desktop background photos on the tablet.

Day 19: ¬†Playing with Tyler’s Minecraft toys and even found a Santa Minecraft head for Steve. ¬†(The Steve is a printable I used for Tyler’s Minecraft Party ¬†and the Santa head is a printable found here that I just enlarged a bit before printing. ¬†It wasn’t quite big enough for one of our elves to wear, but it worked fine for Steve)


Day 20: ¬†We got home late last night and the kids forgot to open their Advent treat box before bed so the Elves did it for them. ¬†Lucky for the kids, the elves didn’t get as far as opening any of the chocolate!

Day 21: ¬†found the elves fast asleep under the Christmas tree, using the kids’ stockings as sleeping bags.

Day 22:  the elves were having fun with the camera last night and took all kinds of photos.  (Printable photo props found here)

Day 23: ¬†this morning they attempted to hitch a ride to school in the kids’ backpacks. ¬†I think we are all excited for the last half-day of school before Christmas break!

Day 24: elf zip line!  And of course they also wrote up a farewell letter because Santa picks them up on Christmas Eve while he is making deliveries.

And that, my friends, is an entire month of Elf on the Shelf ideas for you. ¬†They’re my favorite kind too – quick and easy. ¬†Easy enough to implement at 3AM when you suddenly wake up with that feeling that you forgot to do something… ¬†ūüėČ

What have your elves been up to?  Any great ideas you would like to share?  I would love to add a few to my list for this year!

Linking to:  Wow Me Wednesday,

Last Minute Halloween Prep

fall-sunrise-alaynascreationsLife can get crazy-busy very quickly and it is so very easy to let it take us for a ride – which is exactly what has happened to me in the two months or so since my husband got home from deployment. ¬†First, we spent a few weeks all wrapped up in enjoying having him home and doing all of the family stuff still on our bucket list. ¬†Then we jumped into a massive remodel of my parents’ kitchen (so many blog posts to write!) before the husband had to return to his civilian job. ¬†Plus, school started before that project was completed and we have all been doing our best to get back into the normal routine of work/school/extra-curricular activities.

And now?  Now we are knee-deep in October which is Birthday Month around here (7+ birthdays to celebrate Рmore on that soon!) and I suspect things are going to keep moving just as quickly.

Which brings me to today’s project, or rather yesterday’s project – my son’s class party for Halloween. ¬†His teacher has developed her own traditions and one of them is performing a Mad Scientist show for other classes in the school. ¬†I’ve known about this for weeks – after all, I’m the Room Mom this year and my job was to organize the parent helpers and donations to provide lunch for the class in the middle of their busy day of Mad Scientist shows. ¬†So it really shouldn’t have been a surprise when my 9-year-old came home the night before the party talking about turning a shirt into a lab coat.

I guess I had just figured that a pair of safety goggles and some crazy hair would be a “good enough” costume (and really that would have been fine) but my little guy wanted something a bit more.


(ah boys – he was dead convinced that Mad Scientists don’t smile and I couldn’t manage to get him to pose any other way)

An old shirt and a Sharpie saved the day.  In less than 5 minutes (and $0!) we were able to transform a shirt he no longer wanted to wear into a lab coat by simply drawing a few lines on it with a marker.


It turned out cute, he was pretty excited about it  Рand after seeing all the other kids, some with full wigs and everything, I was glad we put in the little bit of extra effort.

Tyler received plenty of compliments on his costume and it had me wondering…I bet that’s not the only costume that could be pulled together in a pinch with just a shirt and a Sharpie. ¬†Any ideas for other options?!


Deployment Care Package Idea – Half-Way There

Half-Way There Deployment Care Package Celebrate the middle of a long deployment with a box full of items cut in half AlaynasCreations

We are approaching the final countdown on this military deployment – YAY YAY YAY – and having that husband of mine home again is on my mind a lot. ¬†I can’t wait!

Now that we are approaching the end, I remember how much I looked forward to the mid-point of the deployment and how much fun it was to put together the care package with a Half-way There theme.

Everything was cut in half – and I mean EVERYTHING.

Half-Way There Deployment Care Package Making it half through any long separation especially a military deployment is cause for celebration  Decorating the inside of the box is a good way to set the mood

I decorated the box with two different patterned scrapbook papers, so even the box looked like it had been divided in half.
And again, I always include something in the very bottom of the box as an extra surprise – the funnier the better.

Half-Way There Deployment Care Package Fill a care package full of items cut in half  I even included half of a pair of shoes for  the midpoint of Deployment

The box was filled with anything I thought might lend itself to being cut in half – a package of pudding cups, a package of microwave-able mac n cheese, Pop Tarts, Thin Mints Girl Scout Cookies, powdered drink mix, balloons, and a package of party confetti poppers.

The boxes were fairly easy to cut in half. ¬†For any packaging that didn’t stand on it’s own or threatened to spill the contents once cut in half I simply covered the exposed end with packaging tape.

Splitting up the pair of running shoes my husband had requested and sending just a single shoe was my daughter’s idea. Haha! ¬†Of course, we put together a second (workout themed) package with the other shoe and sent it the very next day. ¬†We were a bit worried one of the packages would get lost but it went perfectly and the two boxes arrived back to back without any problems.

Deployment Care Package Ideas Any kind of food with writing is fun to use for care packages  I used this Snickers bar that reads impatient for a Half-way There Deployment Care Package

I love how some of the snack foods now have fun lettering on them. ¬†I made sure to snap up this Snicker’s ¬†candy bar that reads “Impatient” the minute I spotted it, then held on to it for a few weeks (some days that wasn’t easy!) knowing I would find the perfect package to send it in.

Half-Way There Deployment Care Package Idea All of my care packages include a little something from the kids

The kids always try to contribute a letter or drawing to each care package. ¬†To stick with my theme, I cut my son’s drawing in half and did the same with the letters from myself and my daughter. ¬†Then I cut an envelope in half, putting half of the letters and drawing in each side and hit one part of the envelope on the bottom of the package and placed the other part in the top of the package.

Half-Way There Deployment Care Package Celebrate the middle of a long deployment with a box full of items cut in half

I’m sure hitting the half-way point of the deployment was the high point of my husband’s week, but he did get a real kick out of the package too.

Half-way There Deployment Care Package Idea for the middle of military deployment or any other separation from your loved one

I was thinking if you currently didn’t have a husband on deployment (lucky you!) what else would be a fun theme for a half-way gift? ¬†Any other long distance separation, of course – long distance relationship, missionary gift, college care package, countdown to a big milestone like marriage or graduation…

Any other ideas I’m missing?


I’m still adding a lot of my care package ideas to the blog – please feel free to explore.
Beat the Heat Summer Care Package
Favorite Things Care Package
First Care Package for Deployment
Deployment Survival Kit (for military spouses)

Or check out some of my other Gift Basket or Summer Fun ideas for the Kids and more:
Summer Themed Dinner Gift Baskets (in red, white and blue!)
Summer Bucket List
Cupcake Wars Birthday Party


5 Summer Themed Gift Basket Ideas for Under $25

5 Summer Themed Gift Basket Ideas for Under $25

Happy 4th of July! ¬†It’s ok if I jump the gun a little bit right? ¬†I’m pretty sure the festivities (4 nights of rodeo) start tomorrow night here anyway.

The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays. ¬†I love the enthusiasm for it here in my hometown. ¬†The flags all over the place. ¬†So many events to pick and choose however we want to celebrate. ¬†And the red, white and blue – one of my favorite color combinations. ¬†So, when it worked out that it’s my mom’s turn to host our Bunco group right after the 4th of July we were really excited to put together the prizes. ¬†And what better for a 4th of July/summer theme than food-related gift baskets?!

The prizes are supposed to range in cost from about $12 to $24 so all five of these gift basket ideas are under $25. ¬†As a fun twist we not only stuck to a summer food/dinner theme but tried to incorporate as much of the red, white and blue patriotic theme as we could find. ¬†With the 24th of July Pioneer Days celebration here in Utah, we keep the red, white and blue out the entire month of July ūüėČ

Picnic Themed Summer Gift Basket Patriotic Red White and Blue for 4th of July

My favorite basket would have to be our picnic themed one. ¬†We found this adorable insulated picnic basket to use as the base for the gift (from TJ Maxx). ¬†I love that it’s red, white and blue colors but flower-patterned instead of stars and stripes so you can use it any time of year. ¬†We filled the basket with ¬†patriotic themed picnic supplies – paper plates, napkins, those adorable red mason jar drinking cups with straws, a vinyl tablecloth, and red, white and blue tortilla chips to finish it off.

Fourth of July Patriotic Themed Gift Basket Idea Summer Picnic Gift Basket Idea for Bunco Wedding or other events

Ice Cream Themed Summer Gift Basket Idea Patriotic Red White and Blue for 4th of July

What’s summer without ice cream, right? ¬†We just had to do an ice cream themed basket but the kind of base to use for the theme was a bit of a sticking point. ¬†In the end we went with a basket of sand toys – ice cream and the beach works great, right? ¬†The little sand strainer was the perfect thing to lift the items up so you can seem them above the top of the basket. ¬†The basket is filled with an ice cream scoop, ice cream cones and waffle bowls, and a selection of toppings like chocolate and caramel syrup, marshmallow cream, and of course, some red white and blue sprinkles.

Popcorn Themed Summer Gift Basket Idea

With all of the free concerts in the park, drive-ins, or those fun DIY back yard movie theaters that summer has to offer, we went with a popcorn theme for our third basket. ¬†This one was also a good fit for our least expensive gift basket since it doesn’t take a lot to make this one cute. ¬†We grabbed a blue popcorn bowl for the base and smaller individuals bowls in red, then added some microwave popcorn and a selection of popcorn seasonings.

Hot Dog Roast Themed Summer Gift Basket Idea

Our local grocery store always has these great hot dog roasting sticks in stock and we knew we wanted to use these for one of the gifts (I have a set and we use them ALL the time). ¬†The tricky part was figuring out how to package up something so long and skinny. ¬†In the end we went a similar route as the ice cream but instead of sand toys we tied everything to a children’s bat and ball set ¬†(baseball and hotdogs – totally works). ¬†We also added a set of hot dog baskets (red, white, and blue!) like you would get at the drive-in, condiment squirt bottles and a container of potato chips.

BBQ Themed Summer Gift Basket Patriotic for 4th of July

For our final gift basket we went with a back yard grilling/BBQ theme.  The container is a plastic water pitcher to which we added some grilling tools, kebab baskets, corn on the cob holders, a grill brush with some barbeque sauce and a marinade, and a lighter.

BBQ Themed Summer Gift Basket Idea

I can’t decide which one I would like to win – can you? ūüėČ ¬†I can’t wait for our Bunco party, but first I’m going to enjoy the fireworks this weekend.

Five Summer Themed Gift Basket Ideas for Bunco Wedding gift or other special occasion


Beat the Heat – Deployment Care Package

Beat the Heat Care Package Ideas for decorating and items to put in a care package to your loved one to help them stay cool this summer Military Deployment or Gift basket

Summer, summer, summertime! ¬†Sometimes it’s a bit less enjoyable than others – especially when it’s hot. ¬†We hit 90 degrees here this week but the husband has been telling me that is their nightly low for the past few weeks over there on deployment. ¬†Ick. ¬†He has been complaining about the high temps since April and there’s not much we can do about it – except send a care package ūüėČ ¬†A Beat the Heat/Stay Cool care package, of course.

Beat the Heat Care Package decorating the inside of the box

I’ve developed my own little system for decorating the inside of the boxes. ¬†I usually use a Medium Flat Rate box (though I think this one may have been a Regional Rate A which saves a bit on postage), which is easily covered by 5 sheets of patterned paper (works out great for using up my giant stash of scrapbook paper). ¬†I usually print the letting for the theme of the box directly onto the papers before attaching them to the interior of the box then finish it off with a couple of funny memes and don’t forget to add something extra to the bottom of the box. ¬†A little humor goes a long way.

Beat the heat Care Package funny meme for decorating the box for summer stay cool gift box

Next step – add items that fit the theme (but won’t melt!).

I’m still surprised at how easy it is to fill these boxes if you just keep your eyes open when you’re out and about. ¬†Snow cone flavored gum?! ¬†Icee flavored candy?! ¬†Yes! ¬†And those cooling towels are great. ¬†My husband has been using them in various versions when outside working in the heat for years now but left all of his home because they were too brightly colored. ¬†I did my best to find an understanded looking one. ¬†They really should make them in camo print, doncha’ think? ¬†Maybe I should suggest that… ūüėČ

The complete list of items I included in the box:
-cooling towel
-freezer pops (he has a mini-fridge in his room so I know they can freeze these once they arrive)
-Icee slushies (note that any time I put things that are more liquid in the package I make sure to put them in zip-top bags just in case)
-Icee squeeze candy
-snow cone flavored gum
-“ice” breath drops
-drink mixes to add to water bottles (one of the biggest requested items since they can only drink bottled water and drink it by the gallon every day)
Other ideas might include sunscreen, chap stick (with SPF), exercise-type water bottles, etc.

Beat the Heat Summer Care Package with lots of great ideas to fill the box to help your loved one stay cool Military deployment gift box

Final step:  box it up and send it on its way!

Beat the Heat Care Package Ideas for decorating and items to put in a care package to your loved one to help them stay cool this summer Military Deployment or Gift basket
Interested in seeing other care package (or gift basket) ideas? ¬†Stay tuned – I will be trying to catch up on posting photos of the packages I have sent over the past few months. ¬†And don’t forget to check out my ideas for my First Deployment Care Package,¬†Favorite Things Care Package, or¬†May the 4th/Star Wars Mini Care Package.

I am down to needing only a couple more care package ideas before this deployment ends Рwoohoo!  Do you have any favorite ideas you would like to share?!


Linking to:  Pretty Pintastic Party, Home Matters Party,