St. Patrick’s Day Free Printable

It’s less than two weeks since Valentine’s Day and I already have my Valentine’s decorations down and my St. Patrick’s decorations up!  And it’s not even March yet!  I am feeling on top of it!  I like decorating for St. Patrick’s day because the time between Valentine’s Day and Easter is a bit long, so it’s nice to throw in a random holiday in there to break it up.  Plus, I think that St. Patrick’s day decorations are cute… even though I don’t get the actual holiday itself.

Several years ago, for a girl’s night (speaking of girl’s nights; you can get some great ideas here), I made this printable and had the supplies for everyone to make a St. Patrick’s day sign.  It was very cheap and easy to gather the supplies and we had a lot of fun making these.  Everyone’s turned out a little different and they all looked great.  I thought it would be good for me to learn how to post a printable on my blog, so let me know if it doesn’t work because I am still learning all this tech stuff!

First you will need to print the printable (st. patricks day) in color.  I like to go to the library and use their laser ink printer because the quality is so much better than my printer at home.

Next, you need to cut a piece of cardboard a bit larger than the paper you printed.  I wanted mine taller and just a bit wider than the printable.

The other supplies you will need are a glue gun and glue sticks, burlap (any color), shamrock decorations (shamrock wire like I used or you could get green ribbon or yarn or even the foam clover cut outs. This is where you can get creative on whatever you can find), and a few pieces of felt (different shades of green and white or black are probably the best color options.)

Here are a few links for some supplies from Amazon if you can’t make it to the dollar store or Walmart:

                    

Start by covering your cardboard with the burlap.  I just wrapped it around onto the back and glued the corners down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now you just play around on the front to see where you want everything.  I didn’t glue anything down until I had it how I liked it.

If you want to make some felt flowers for this project here is a quick tutorial on how to make those.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you have everything placed where you like it, then start gluing it down and you are done!

Quick and easy projects that I can reuse year after year help me to feel nice and happy!  I hope you will try it out!

Easy DIY felt flowers

My sister is the crafty one in our family.  She is seriously amazing with the things she can sew, decorate, DIY, and create.  In her guest room and guest bathroom she had these wild-colored picture frames on the wall and accent pillows against white walls and a white bedspread.  Then for an added pop of color she made these felt flowers in bright colors and used those with the frames and on the accent pillows.  She also glued them onto the shower curtain in her guest bathroom.  It was such a simple thing to add color and personality to the rooms.  We have found several other uses for these felt flowers since: little girl hair bows, holiday decorations, and other decor around the house.  I used them in this St. Patrick’s Day decoration I made and by using scrapbook paper my sister made this cute flower vase for my bathroom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To begin you will need to cut a square from the material you are using (felt, fabric, paper, etc.).  The size of the square depends on how large you want your flower.

 

 

 

 

 

Now you will cut a spiral out of the square.  Just start at the edge and slowly twist it around until you get to the center of the spiral.

 

 

 

 

 

Now cut off the corners of the square.

 

 

 

 

 

This is where you can get creative: you can take the center of the spiral and start rolling it either backwards or forwards. You can play with this to see which way you like the flower.  If you roll it backwards (opposite as the spiral) the center of the flower usually ends up a bit sunken down like the yellow flower I did here.  If you roll it forward (same direction as the spiral ) then the center seems a bit higher.

OR you can start rolling it with the end of the felt instead of the center.  The green and white flowers above were rolled this way. You will still glue the petals together every few rolls and tuck the end (which is now the center of the spiral) on the bottom of the flower and glue it down.  The shape of these flowers is just a bit different than if you start rolling from the center.  Try all the different ways and see which one you prefer.

 

 

 

 

 

Put a small dot of glue to hold the center in place as you start twisting it.  Now, just keep twisting it around using a small dot of glue every few times around.

 

 

 

 

 

Once you get to the end you will tuck the last little bit on the bottom of the flower and glue the edge down.

 

 

 

 

 

That’s it!  Now you can begin gluing these cute flowers all over your house 😉

Fun Fact:  Did you notice my crooked pinky in that last photo??   My grandpa had weird pinkies, my mom’s are super short with big joints, mine are crooked and so are two of my four kids!

Homemade Queso

Some days I just don’t have it in me to prepare an exquisite, well-balanced meal for my family. Hard to believe and I’m sure that most of you moms out there have no idea what I’m talking about.  But in case SOMEONE happens to relate, I thought that I needed to add this quick and easy homemade queso recipe.  When my son came home from school yesterday and smelled the aroma he ask if we were having the “dip stuff with sausage.”  After hearing my affirmative he said, “I could die” (in a good way)! He ate at least 3 helpings, but I started cleaning up at that point so he may have gone back for more. This is definitely a family favorite- everyone likes it A LOT.

A friend of mine brought this to a party I hosted several years ago as side-dish, but I now use it as a main meal.  It has protein, diary and vegetables (or maybe tomatoes are a fruit?? Did that question ever get answered??)… Any way, on certain nights we call it dinner.

The best part is that it only uses 3 ingredients!

First you brown the sausage.  I love using this awesome meat chopper thing so that I don’t get big chunks of meat.

Next, use a food processor to remove chunks from the Rotel (apparently, I’m not a chunk person)…

Before-
After-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, you can dump everything into a crock pot for a few hours or cook it on the stove if you are ready to eat now.

Once it is heated through just stir together and dinner (or a great appetizer for a party) is served!

My kids were so very nice and happy during this meal, which always makes me nice and happy.

The Rock System (paying kids for chores)


Do you pay your kids for doing chores?  I have heard about parents who pay their kids well for doing chores around the house, and I’ve also heard about parents who say that doing chores is just a part of being a family.  I can see good in both concepts.  While I do agree that chores is just an expectation of being part of a family, I also want my kids to learn how to manage money before they are really making a lot of money and the risks and lessons learned are harder. I have tried several different methods to pay kids for doing chores, but the rock system (as I like to call it) has been the most consistent and convenient way to make sure it happens.  It was completely free for me to make and is easy to start right away.

I gathered up baby food jars for each of my kids.  My two older kids have the taller baby food jars and my two younger kids have the small jars.  I removed the label on the jars and wrote each child’s initial on their jar.  The last step to getting it ready to use is to find your “rocks.” I used the glass beads you can buy in the craft section at the Dollar store or Walmart.  I’m not sure why I call them rocks, when they are clearly not rocks, but oh well.  You really could go out and find different sized rocks and even paint them to make them cute.  You could use cotton balls, dried beans, candy, or whatever you can find around the house.  That’s it.  You are ready to start paying kids for their chores.  Now, here is how is works…

For every chore your kids do, they get to put a rock in their jar.  If they want to do 5 chores in a day then they get 5 rocks.  Some chores are worth two rocks (cleaning the bathroom AND the bathroom floor).  If you try out this hot spot wheel, then kids would get a rock after doing their hot spot.  When the jar is full they get paid.  So simple!  You can decide on the amount that each kid gets paid for a full jar.  When we first started and my older kids were about 5 and 6, they both got paid $2.50 for a full jar.  In our family, we donate 10% of our money to our church, so $2.50 made it easy to figure the 10% the kids would pay for tithing.  Our younger kids received $1 for their full smaller jars.  This was such a small amount of money, but the kids love getting paid and feel so grown up to have their own money to do with as they wanted.  A good idea is to teach kids to give 10%, save 10%, and keep the 80% to do with as they chose, but since I was paying my kids such a small amount I did not stress over the saving part.  They could spend their money on whatever they chose.

Now that my kids are a bit older, I felt that they should have a raise and more financial responsibility along with it.  We had a discussion with the kids to see if they felt they deserved a raise.  At first my seven year old wanted nothing to do with a raise… this was  a good teaching point.  Now he understands what a raise is and you better believe he wants it! We agreed that the kids will earn their raise on a full jar IF they had an overall good attitude while doing their chores.  If we have to remind them to change their attitude more than twice as they work on filling their jars, then they do not get the raise and go back to the $2.50.  We agreed to pay our kids their age in dollars for every full jar.  For example, my nine year-old earns $9 for a full jar and my seven year-old earns $7, etc. In a perfect world I would always have the exact change on hand to pay the kids the minute they fill their jars.  I do not live in that perfect world.  Sometimes they get to empty their jar to start over and I just make a note that I owe them their money.  That immediate reward for a full jar is much more powerful though, so if at all possible try to have several dollar bills available at home.  Now that my kids are making more money we can talk more about saving for college, cars, missions and also saving for big items they want.  My daughter attends a gymnastic camp at her favorite college in the summer and she is expected to pay for a portion of that camp.  So she is working on saving towards that.  My two older sons have decided that they want to buy one of those battery powered cars they can drive, so they have combined their money to save for that. After just a couple of weeks (and some Valentine money from Grandma and Grandpa), these boys are already up to $61 combined!  Any time they ask to buy something at the store I love that I can tell them, “sure you can buy that.  You have your own money now!”  It’s funny how those silly little things are not as appealing if they have to use THEIR money to buy it!

A recap of why this system works for my family:

1. Cheap, easy and fast to put together and get started.

2.  Kids receive an immediate reward for doing their chores.

3. Offering a raise for good work ethic teaches kids a real world concept. (and less whining!)

4.   Allows kids to develop a habit of paying tithing.

5.  Kids can learn about money management.

6.  It is easy for ME to be consistent with this system.

A clean house and watching kids work makes me a nice and happy mom!  I would love to hear your experience with this rock system if you give it a try, or about what other payment systems work for you.

My Favorite 5 Toys to QUIETLY Entertain Kids

We went to church yesterday, and as always I bring my 50 pound bag filled with paper, coloring books, crayons, markers, colored pencils, pencils, pencil sharpener, puzzles, books, cars, snacks, water bottles, and Kleenex, among other things.  I bring these things to help ensure that the kids are quietly entertained while we listen in church for the hour and 10 minutes we need to sit there reverently (cough cough).  And these things are usually helpful, but yesterday we happened to sit behind a great family with a couple of teenage kids, one of whom babysat my kids recently.  So of course, my kids were more entertained my tickling their backs and playing pew-peek-a-boo than getting out the same old coloring books they have every week.  These awesome teenage kids in front of us also shared some of their toys that were completely entertaining and I will be purchasing for our family ASAP.  This gave me the idea to share my favorite 5 toys that are unique and helpful in keeping kids QUIETLY entertained without using electronics:

1. Boogie Boardd.  My parents gave one of these to my kids for Valentine’s Day a few years ago and it is still a favorite in my church bag.  We got the idea from another family at church who had one and my kids were completely enthralled just watching these other kids use it.  You can draw on the screen and then push a button to wipe the screen clean.  It has been used over and over for tic-tac-toe and hang-man, and hilarious pictures of grandma.

2.  Cryptograms Books– My 9 year old daughter loves these.  It is a little hard to start a blank cryptogram, so I usually look in the back at the cheat sheet and then fill in a few letters for her.  After that, she can usually fill it out on her own.  I actually love doing these as well!  This one that my daughter uses has some great quotes.  For example, “When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.” – George Washington Carver

3. WAFF Journal– This is one of the activities that the teenage boy let us play with at church on Sunday.  It will definitely be an Easter gift for my kids this year.  My kids love little notebooks and that alone is a fun gift, but the letters and numbers that snap on to this journal really make it unique.  My kids just sat on the floor and spread out the little rubber tiles and came up with different words to write on the notebook.  There is a little bag or container to keep the tiles together and clips to keep the journal shut.  There are several different colors, sizes, and styles.

4. Magnetic Beads– These are so addicting!  They can be shaped into about anything you can imagine and you can separate them to share among kids.  The description mentioned stress relief for adults and I could seriously see this.  I just couldn’t get enough!  It was hard to give these back to the family in front of us at church.

5. Peg Game– This game will forever remind me of my Grandma and Grandpa Lyon.  This game was always sitting on their counter and you couldn’t help but pick it up and try it a few times before moving along.  It’s small enough that a Ziploc baggie would keep all the pieces together and fit inside a church bag.

 

I would love to hear what works for your family to keep kids entertained without electronics.

Quiet kids in a quiet place make me a nice and happy mom!

This post contains affiliate links to help support this blog.  I only link items I have used and love.

 

Simple DIY Valentine’s Day Decoration

Since we live in a new house this year, I have noticed that I need a few more holiday decorations.  In my old house I mostly decorated on a small console table by my front door, but in this house I have a spot upstairs and downstairs that I would like to decorate for the holidays.  I was lacking in the Valentine’s Day decor, so I made this real quick using a scrap piece of 2×6 from my balance beam project.

You could use any type of wood and any size that you have lying around.  Paint it the base color of your choice.  I chose gray.

Use a pencil to freehand draw the hearts, or if you want them perfectly symmetrical you could trace a cookie cutter or print and cut a heart to trace.

 

Using something straight like a ruler or book, add the lines to connect the hearts and to make the tail and point end of the arrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I traced my lines with a paint pen next because I was planning on painting the hearts and arrow white, but then decided to use teal.  I would recommend that you first paint it the color of your choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the paint is good and dry, then you can outline everything with a paint pen.

You can be finished right here, or if you would like to distress it this would be the time to sand it down.  It was fast and easy to use this little hand sander, but you can always use a sanding block or some sand paper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wha La!  Done!  I also thought that I could maybe make another holiday sign on the back of this board so it can serve double duty.  I’ll be working on that idea…

Completing a simple craft in the middle of the day made me feel nice and happy.

10 Minute Chicken Stuffing Casserole

I love a super fast meal that I can put together quickly and trust that my family will eat it.  This is one of those go to meals at our house.  My grandma made it for us once when we were first married and I have been making it ever since. I love to make this one if we are needing to be somewhere right before dinner, but want to come home to a hot meal.  My new oven has a delayed start time and I’m telling you… it’s changing my life!!  I make this, put it in the oven with a start time of 1 hour before we will be home and walk away!  When we get home from taekwondo, or gymnastics, or wherever we happened to be that day, the house smells amazing and all I have to do is pull it out and dish up dinner.

To make this meal, you need 5 ingredients: chicken breast, cheese (you can use whatever you have on hand.  My grandma made her’s with Swiss cheese, but I rarely have Swiss cheese on hand, so I usually use American cheese), 1 can of cream of chicken soup, a box of chicken stuffing mix, and about 3 TBSP of butter.

First thaw and cut your chicken into smaller sizes so it will bake faster.  I usually cut mine in half so it is not so thick first and if it is still long I may cut it in half again.  Use whatever portion size is good for your family. Then place the chicken into a sprayed 9×13 dish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add the cheese slices on top of the raw chicken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spread the cream of chicken soup over every piece of chicken and fill in the gaps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a mixing bowl, melt the butter then toss with the stuffing mix using a fork.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sprinkle the buttered stuffing over the top of the chicken soup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover with foil and bake 45 min-1 hour.  If you want the stuffing to be a bit crunchy then remove the foil the last 10 minutes of baking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s it! I hope you will try this one out.  Let me know if you do.  This meal makes my family nice and happy!

 

Kent Family Lasagna

  • When you marry into a new family you usually get to experience some new recipes. Good or bad.  Luckily, the family I married into has several easy and very yummy recipes that they’ve shared with me.

My mom makes amazing lasagna.  Every year (all 30 years) that my dad coached basketball, my mom would have the team over for dinner and she always made this huge cake pan of her wonderful lasagna.  The players always looked forward to that meal.  She made her lasagna pretty normal, with spaghetti sauce and cottage cheese.  In fact, that was the only way I knew that lasagna could be made.  Since growing up and being an “adult” I have tried many times to make my mom’s lasagna just like she did, but it just doesn’t ever taste the same! So I gave up and tried the Kent family lasagna that my husband loved and that has become my only lasagna that I will make.  It is a family favorite at our house every time.  I love how easy it is and that I can always have the ingredients on hand.

I know that when I look up a recipe on Pinterest I don’t ever read all the details from the author, but instead just scroll down to get to the dang recipe already!  So I won’t make you scroll too far…

 

Ingredients:

1 large can or 2 small of Tomato Soup

1 small can of cream of Mushroom

1 lb. browned hamburger meat

1 packet or 1/4 cup of spaghetti seasoning

Mozzarella Cheese

Lasagna Noodles (I prefer oven-ready)

Steps:

1. Brown your hamburger meat with garlic and onion.

2. Use a food processor to puree the cream of mushroom.  I usually add a little milk to help make it creamy. (If you like chunks of mushroom you could skip this step, but I would NEVER do that!)

I love this one that I received as a wedding gift 13 years ago.  It’s great because I don’t have to mess with that middle part like you do on other types of food processors.  This one is fast and easy clean up.  I rinse it out and put both parts in the dishwasher. I can’t find this exact brand on Amazon, but this one looks about the same.

 

 

3.  Combine tomato soup, cream of mushroom, spaghetti seasoning and hamburger meat in a mixing bowl.  Sometimes I add a little water here, but not every time.

 

 

 

 

 

4.  Spray a 9X13 pan

5. Add a layer of the sauce mixture

6. Then spread noodles on top

 

 

 

 

 

7. Add more sauce on top of noodles

8. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese

9.  Repeat: noodles, sauce, cheese until you finish the sauce (usually 3 layers of noodles).  End with sprinkled mozzarella on top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

10.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly (usually 45 min.- 1hour.)

My family was so eager to eat that I didn’t quite get a great picture before everyone dug in.  Me taking pictures of everything we do (and eat) is still sort of new…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can about guarantee that your kids will love this meal.  I hope you give it a try.  Let me know if you do!  Eating a good meal makes everyone ready to be nice and happy!

DIY Balance Beam

This post may contain affiliate links to some of my favorite items.

My daughter is a gymnast.  She seems to have a passion for gymnastics and it basically is the only thing she wants to do all day long.  Last year for Christmas Santa brought her a Jr. Kip Bar and she LOVES it!  Surprisingly, so do my three boys.  Her birthday is just a few days after Christmas and my dad and I built a balance beam for her using a design that we modified from this blog.  At the time, we were living in a small town without a gymnastics gym, so we drove her an hour to attend a tumbling gym once a week.  That town did not offer gymnastics, only tumbling (I had no idea there was a difference until we got into it, but in tumbling they do not do beam, vault, or bars.)  She loved her gym and loved tumbling, but she still wanted to try out the other apparatuses. So when she got the beam and the bar last year, she was thrilled!  She watched YouTube videos to learn how to do skills and she actually got pretty good at those skills considering she didn’t have a coach.  Fast forward a year, and we now live in a bigger town that has a gymnastics facility.  She started gymnastics in September and in her first meet in October she won first place (granted, it was only against the other girls in her gym).  Even though she had only been coached on the beam and bars for two months, she picked everything up so fast because she had been practicing at home.

 

 

 

 

 

Having a bar and a beam does take up a lot of space, but we have luckily always been able to find the space and make it work.   The design we use for our beam is nice because the legs are easily removed so it makes it easy to store. Our basement now includes an 8 foot beam, a bar, a treadmill, and an arcade basketball hoop! It’s gotten a little out of hand…

This year around Christmas I wanted to make some extra money and I had the idea to build balance beams and sell them.  We have loved having ours  and it has held up and is in excellent condition after a year, so I felt like the model we used was a good one and that other people would like it too.  I posted some pictures on Facebook and sold 5 beams.  I charged $85, which is a steal when compared with similar beams online and asked for half the money upfront so they were committed and that helped pay for supplies.  I made one extra beam and this time took pictures (although I missed a couple steps) so that I can record a tutorial.  So here it is… a DIY balance beam!

Supplies:

3-2x4x8 pine boards

1-2x6x8 pine boards

2-2x4x7.5″ pine board (I just had scraps of 2×4 that worked for this and I’m sure that if you as the lumber yard they would just give you two 7-8″ scraps)

1- 4 1/2″ x 8′ board (this can be any variety of board.  I have used plywood and also a type of snap together plank and I just cut the tongue in grove part off. I was always able to get this for free by rummaging through their scrap wood.  You just don’t want it much thicker than an inch and remember that if it’s too wide you can use your skill saw to cut it to 4.5″)

 

 

 

 

 

wood glue

2 1/2″ screws

1-package of 4 Corner Braces

Carpet padding or a yoga mat

2 1/2 yards of Suede upholstery fabric.  I bought mine at Joann’s when it was half off.  I have used both the thinner suede and the upholstery suede and I highly recommend using the upholstery/thicker material.  I wanted to try thisfrom Amazon, but the shipping was going to take longer than I wanted to wait.

Tools:

skil saw

Drill (I have a cheaper Black and Decker drill and it worked ok, but for part of the beams I borrowed my dad’s drill like this and it was AMAZING!)

Staple gun (I bought this tool especially for this project and it was absolutely worth the money! I love this little gun!

extra staples (I only used 5/16 sized staples and it worked fine, but I did wish I had bigger ones when I stapled the carpet padding on, so a variety pack like this would be nice.)

Clamp (I used just 2 clamps, but if you have more you can use them.)

Carpenter Square

2 Saw horse (This one is not absolutely necessary, but I found it extremely helpful.

Building the Beam

The number one thing I learned is to make sure the wood you buy is straight!! There were several times that I had to return to the lumber yard to exchange wood that at first looked straight, but I later realized it was not.

The second thing I learned is to make sure you put the beam together using a flat surface. Saw horses worked best for me, but you could also use two Rubbermaid tubs that are the same size or two chairs, or whatever else you have around your house that would be sturdy and equal in height.

Your first cut will be on one of the 2×4’s to cut two different 12″ pieces.  The 12″ pieces are for the legs, and the remaining 6′ 2×4 is the middle board on your beam.  Make sure you use your carpenter square to mark your cutting line and try to cut as straight as possible with the skil saw.

Lay the 6′ piece on top of one of the 8′ pieces right in the middle. Measure each end to make sure there is about a foot on each side of the 6′ piece.  Draw a line on the 8′ board to mark where the 6′ board goes to be centered.  Then take your 12″ leg and put it perpendicular (make a T with the leg and the longer boards) to the 6′ board and mark where that leg ends but make that line generous so that the leg will slide into that gap easily.  Now measure the remaining wood you have from the mark from the leg to the end of the 8′ board.  Mine were usually 7 1/4 or so.  Cut your scrap 2×4 that you either dug out from your own scrap wood pile or got from the scraps at the lumber yard to the measurement from the end of the leg to the end of the beam. (I’m sorry, I didn’t start taking pictures until I already had the boards put together, so hopefully the pictures I do have can help explain this process)

Now you have one 8′ board laying flat and the 6′ board centered on that and gaps for the leg holes (once you mark on the 8′ board where the leg goes you can remove it) and the two 7″ end pieces in their place.  Now you can add the other 8′ board on top of middle pieces and clamp them all together. and turn them on their 2″ side.  Now  check to make sure there are not major gaps between the boards and that at least one side where the three boards meet is flush.  I usually propped them up on the saw horses and used a level to see how flush one side is.  This is where you find out if you have straight boards or not.  Do not move forward until you have a mostly flush side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that you have a flush side you can turn the boards back onto their 4″ side and remove the clamps.  Carefully remove the top 2x4x8 and set it one one side of the beam.  Then move the middle 2×4 pieces on top of that board.  You should have all the places for the 6′ board and the two 7″ pieces marked so that you will know where to put them back.

Squeeze wood glue onto the 8′ board in the places that you will add the middle boards.  Do NOT add glue in the gaps for the leg.  Place the three middle boards back into their places on top of the glue.  Note:  if you only have two clamps you will have to do the 6′ middle board  and then the two end pieces separately so that you can clamp them down good.

Once they are clamped,  turn the board over so that they 8′ board is now on top.  This will be the outside edge of your beam, so this is where you will screw the boards together.  Use the 2 1/2″ screws and screw the boards together.  I alternated mine high and low on the 2×4 and spaced them about every 4-5″. Screw together the 6′ middle board and the two end boards in the same way.  DO NOT screw them in from the middle pieces, it must be done on the outside board.

Have the beam with the middle side facing up and place your last 8′ board on top and again, just double check with your hand that one side will be flush.  Then remove that board, add glue to the middle pieces and place the 8′ board on top and clamp it down.  Note: always check that the boards are still flush after you clamp it.  Sometimes you need to adjust it.  Once you have it good and level then screw it together on the 8′ side repeating the same method and spacing.

The beam portion is almost finished!  Now you just need to add a board to the top so it is level and smooth!

Once you have cut your top piece to 8’x4.5″ (remember the thickness of this piece can vary, but not larger than 1″) you are ready to add it to the beam.  Stand your beam up on the 2″ side of the 2×4’s. Place the top piece on top of it and check to make sure it is cut to the correct size and use a level to make sure it is mostly level down the length of the beam.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After it meets your approval, remove the top piece, add wood glue and then replace it onto the beam.  Now you can screw the top piece into the 2×4’s.  It is OK to have screws on top of the beam. You will add enough padding that they won’t be noticed.  I did always screw them in until they sunk below the wood though, just to help it feel smooth.

Ta Da! The beam part is finished!

Building the Legs

Start by cutting the 2″x6″x8′ board into 2′ sections.  If you are only making one beam then you will only need 2- 2′ pieces.

Now you should have the 2-2″x4″x12″ legs from your first cut and the 2-2″x6″x2′ base pieces.  Start by drawing a line down the center of the 2×6 at the 1′ mark.  Use your carpenter’s square to draw a straight line down on both sides of this board.  Also, using your square mark 1″ in from the end of the board on your line  This will let you know where the leg is going to stand so that it is centered on the 2×6.

Place the leg in the center of the 2×6 where you marked it and turn it over so it is standing like a T.  Using the line on the 2×6 that shows you the center of the board, screw the leg onto the base.  This step is easiest with two people just to help make sure the leg does not twist while you are screwing on the base.  Turn it over and it should look like an upside down T.  Repeat this for the other leg.

 

 

 

Screw the corner brackets onto the leg and base to help support the legs and make it sturdy.  I did one bracket on each side of the leg on opposite ends (if you are looking at the 4″ part of the leg, I have a bracket on the left side.  Then if you turn the leg around to look at the other 4″ part of the leg I have that bracket also on the left side, which make them support each side.) Repeat with the other leg.

(Can you tell that the bracket on the left is close to us and the bracket on the right is further away?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to paint your legs this is a good time to do that.  Just mark where the leg slides into the beam and don’t paint that part.  I found out the hard way that it make the beam very squeaky when the paint from the leg rubs on the beam.  But if you want to paint the part of the leg that shows, I think it makes it look nice.  I just painted right over the corner brackets, but don’t worry about painting the base.  That part will be covered.

Your legs are now built!

Now for the big test…

Put the legs into the holes of the beam.  The easiest way to do this is to turn the beam upside down on the floor or saw horses and insert the legs. If your leg gap is small, it will take a lot of muscle and possibly a bar of soap rubbed on the leg to get it to go in. Then turn the beam over and stand it up on it’s legs.  You may need to stand on the beam to push the legs on all the way.  And test it out!  Walk on it, wiggle it, and jump on it. If it is not sturdy at this point do not move forward!  You may need to do some problem solving on what is making it wobbly.  This is when I have discovered that I didn’t use straight boards and I’ve had to take it apart and start over (I did actually have to do this once, only it was after I had the padding and material on it!  So I (or I should say, my wonderful husband) took out a gazillion staples and chiseled the 2×4’s apart and we discovered how twisted the boards were.  We literally started over.  So make sure it is stable and good at this point!  I’ve noticed at this point that it was wobbly and finally discovered the 2×6 bases I used were slightly warped, so I had to get different 2×6’s and redo that part.  Again, use straight wood!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adding the Padding 

The beam that I made my daughter last year has a yoga mat as padding and it works very well.  However, it was not a good business plan to buy a yoga mat for every beam I built, so I then discovered carpet padding and it has been awesome!  A friend of mine had just replaced her carpet, so I asked to buy her old carpet padding for $15 and it will be enough to make several beams!

Cut the padding into

1- 107″x12″ long piece for to cover the beam.  It is OK if you need to do this in smaller sections if you don’t have a piece that is 107″.

2- 14″x8″ pieces for the legs.  You will need to then find the center of this piece and cut out a 2″x4″ hole to slide the leg through.

This is where you get to use your fun new staple gun!  If you bought the variety pack of staples, I would recommend a larger staple than 5/16, but I used 5/16 and it was good enough. I just had to work hard to make sure they stayed in.

For the beam: lay the beam (without legs) on the floor and lay the carpet padding on top.  I did it with the mesh netting facing up.  And just start folding over the padding on each side of the beam and staple it on the side, never on top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the end pieces I had the padding extend past the end and cut the corners out of each side so it left a flap to fold down and cover the end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you are finished stapling the whole thing you can turn it over and cut off any extra padding that might be hanging down past the side of the beam.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the legs:  Put the padding over the legs and start stapling the padding to the side of the base.  I always started in the center right by the leg and I alternated which sides so that one side did not pull the other side too short. I cut the corners for the end flaps just like I did to cover the beam.

 

 

 

 

Covering everything with material

Lay out your 1 1/2 yard piece of fabric on the floor and cut it into 2-54ish”x17″ pieces.  These will be sewn together to cover the beam.  To sew them, put the two “good sides” together and pin it.  I just used a straight stitch on my sewing machine, but I did two lines close together just to back it up.

For the legs, cut the remaining material (after cutting the two 17″ pieces) in half.  Just fold it over and cut it in half.  It should be roughly 14.5″x8.5″  Then you will need to find the center of the material and draw and cut a hole for the 2×4 leg, just like you did for the padding.  I found it easiest to make a template out of paper and use that to draw my rectangle that needed cut out. Instead of cutting out the rectangle I just cut a slit from the center of that rectangle to each of the four corners.

 

 

 

 

 

To cover the legs, I slid the material over the leg and then folded the flaps inside.  I found it easiest to hold the leg upside down on my lap and pulled the fabric tight and started stapling it.  For the ends, it really just takes some playing with the corners to figure out how to fold them and get them to lay nicely.  I usually did it similar to wrapping a present. I like to fold the edges of the material down, just to prevent it from fraying.

 

 

 

 

 


To cover the beam, I laid the material good side down on the floor and then laid the beam upside down in the center of the material.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is very important to pull the material tight throughout this process to prevent wrinkles. Also, make sure that the seam where you sewed the two pieces together is laying flat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can either start stapling on one end or you can start in the middle by the seam and work your way back and forth down the beam.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found that for these ends, it was easier to work with if I cut the corners off of the material just so there wasn’t as much bulk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once I got my corners looking good I folded over the material nice and tight and stapled it down good.  Again, all along the beam, I folded the edges of the material over before I stapled it so that strings would not hang down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now assemble your beam and let the fun begin!  Whew!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know it sounds like a lot of work and fairly complicated, but it really wasn’t.  The beam was usually built in a couple hours (If I was lucky to have minimal distractions) and once the padding and material are cut and sewn together, covering the beam really goes fast too.  Two hours tops for covering it with padding and material.

I would love to know if you give this a try and how it goes!

This has made my kids nice and happy and me too (as long as my boards were straight!).

 

Top 10 Best Girl’s Nights

I love a good girl’s night!  Sure, we love spending one on one time with our hubby, but there comes a time when we just need to be surrounded with girls.  No kids. No husbands. I recently read a book called, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Ruben.  In this book she says, “both men and women find relationships with women to be more intimate and enjoyable than those with men. Women have more feelings of empathy for other people than men do… the most reliable predictor of not being lonely is the amount of contact with women.” I thought that was interesting.  I can remember different times in my life where I thankfully had my husband as a best friend, but I was maybe new to an area and didn’t have a close girl friend to hang out with and it really did feel lonely at times.   I know that for me personally, after a girl’s night I am more bubbly, kind, and patient with my family (at least for awhile). There is just something carefree about being with other women who are most likely going through similar situations and can relate to you.  It’s just good to talk with someone about clothes, haircuts, laundry, dishes, face care products and Twilight who truly gets it!  So here are my top 10 favorite girl’s nights…

1. Dinner and a movie.  Going out to eat at a restaurant and enjoying a meal without having to feed anyone else alone is a treat!  But couple that with a good chick flick and a tub of popcorn and M&M’s, and it’s a slice out of heaven.

2.  Adult coloring books.  Not like “Adult” coloring books… get your mind out of the gutter.  You know those new fancy Coloring Books designed for adults that you color using fancy pens?? Those books.  All you need is one coloring book and I like to use gel pens or colored pencils and something chocolaty and you are good to go.  My mom did this one with the teachers that she works with and I thought it sounded so weird.  But I tried it with a group of friends and it was actually a lot of fun and easy to throw together!

3. Holiday Decorations.  Whoever is in charge just needs to spend some time on Pinterest and find a cute craft related to whatever holiday is coming up, gather the supplies or send a text to all the ladies with what supplies they need to bring, and as always, have something yummy to eat. I have done simple wooden picture frames that we painted then added glitter and embellishments.  For St. Patrick’s Day I created a word art and printed it out then we covered cardboard with burlap, added the word art and decorated it with shamrock wire and green felt flowers.  It was super cheap and everyone loves having something to take home.

4. Book Club.  I am fairly new to this one, but I am loving it!  I like that it is a regular thing and we can all plan on it happening the first Wednesday of each month.  The person who chooses the book for that month hosts it at her house when we discuss that book.  Everyone who wants to bring a snack does, but not everyone feels obligated to bring something. I am a rule follower, so this helps me make sure that I read at least one book a month.  I used to love reading before I had kids, but I just couldn’t seem to find the time to read for enjoyment, until now that I have accountability to read it. It’s been fun to read books that I have never heard of before and books that I probably never would have chosen to read on my own.  This is an easy and dependable girl’s night. This month we read These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.) and I highly recommend it! It took me a little bit to really get into it, but before long I was hooked!

5.  Shopping Night.  I recently moved from a very small town that did not even have a Walmart! Gasp!!  I actually loved it.  But one of our favorite girl’s nights in that town was to drive the hour to the slightly larger town and go shopping.  We didn’t even always go shopping to buy something, but it was always nice to wonder through Maurice’s and Rue 21 and just browse without kids!  We usually fit in time for a good place to eat of course.

6. Game Night.  This is another simple one to throw together.  As always, provide something delicious and dig your favorite games out of the closet (and try not to get distracted and organized that mess of a closet). Some of my favorites are Tenzi Dice Game, Taboo, spoons (and if you are sure that the kids are good and asleep you could try ultimate spoons), Ripple (which is played with Skip bo cards. You could look it up online how to play), and Wits & Wagers.

7. Manicure/Pedicure.  This would be the perfect girl’s nights to do in the Spring to get those feet looking sexy again (or at least not gross).  You could either DIY at someone’s house or splurge and get it done at a salon followed by ice cream!

8. Attend a conference or event.  The fun thing about this girls night is that it often turns into a girls weekend!  Once you discover something of interest going on nearby you can start making plans.  If you have family to stay with and save on hotel costs, that’s great or you can use airbnb or splurge and stay at a fancy hotel.  Some fun conference ideas are Time out for Women, Pinners Conference, self-help conferences, or concerts.  The nice thing about this girl’s night is that the entertainment is already planned, so you just have to worry about where to sleep and what amazing restaurant to try out!

9. Painting Night. One of my favorite memories I have with a couple friends is painting one of her bathrooms late at night.  The three of us just painted and talked and maybe because it was so late at night or possibly the fumes, but we had such a great heart to heart and talked about hard things going on in our lives.  We worked together, laughed together and cried together.   And at the end of this bonding night, my friend had a freshly painted bathroom!  Win win! Another direction you could go with on this one is do go to one of those painting classes where you and a friend paint a canvas.  I have not tried this one, but I’ve heard great things about it and it’s definitely on my list to try out.

10. Walking/running buddies.  This can be done during the day or night and I seriously love this one.  Many of my closest friendships developed during walking dates.  When I was a young mom with only one kid and one on the way, I had three friends in similar situations that walked with me everyday.  We all pushed strollers and took up the whole road, but we sure had a great time and became close friends.  One of those same friends and I later became running buddies and eventually taught a running class for young girls and organized a half-marathon together.  Talk about bonding!  I heard a quote once along these lines, “when you are not running you talk about running, but while you are running you talk about everything else.”  This was true for us.  When your body is busy doing something it leaves the world wide open to discuss.  If you have access to an indoor track, then weather or time of day won’t be a problem to make sure this one happens and it can be done once a week or more!

I hope that reading this has put you in the mood to organize an enjoyable girl’s night right away!  I know I am ready to get one going… luckily today is the first Wednesday of the month and you know what that means- book club! I’d love to hear about your ideas for a fun girl’s night too!

This is going to make me nice and happy.