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Archive for the ‘Crafts’ Category

Disclaimer: I started drafting this post back in January.  I didn’t post it then because I needed to collect some pictures of the various projects.  I’ve been kind of busy with all other life stuff and forgot about this post.  But better late than never, I suppose!  Enjoy.

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So, it turns out the nesting instinct is just as strong when you’re adopting as it is when you’re actually pregnant.  And, you’re not too pregnant to actually do all of the stuff that looms over you, so that’s a plus.

Paul has been on break for the last two weeks and we have had the most productive two weeks we’ve had in a long, long time.  Two weeks ago doesn’t even feel like two weeks, that’s how much has happened!

The first big project that we completed is the office/guest room smoosh.  I wanted to clear out the guest room to convert it into a nursery, but to do that, we had to make space in the office.  So we had to completely reorganize the office, get rid of one of the desks, and make room for the bed.  In the process, we also baby proofed the office, covering all the outlets, organizing cords and making sure it meets all of the home study standards.  I still have a pair of scissors on the desk, lol, but I’ll be sure to put them in a locked cabinet before the home study.  I will also mention that when I redid the office a few years ago, I did not create enough storage space.  This turned out to be very problematic because as time passed, the office turned into a dumping ground for random stuff.  All that had to be dealt with before we could bring down the guest bed.

Office Make Over

 

One element of this project that I am particularly proud of is the new wall shelves.  There was an old cheap, falling apart bookshelf in the garage that wasn’t storing anything too important.  So, we moved things around and dismantled it.  We salvaged the shelves and Paul put some brackets on the wall above the desk.  And Boom!  We had more storage space for the office supplies that need to be readily accessible!

Once we got the office ready, we brought down the bed and it turned out it was too tight of a fit to leave the corner bookshelf where I had wanted it.  So, we got creative and tipped it on it’s side.  Paul built some stools for the other side of the bed and now there is a lot of storage space under the bed.  I’m also calling it a loft bed, now, because it’s just too high tobe a normal bed.  Haha!

Office Guest Bed

 

The next project we completed during this Christmas break is refinishing an old dresser I had bought from a local buy/sell group.  I sanded it down, and painted it a dark peacock blue green color and swapped out the ugly old handles for brushed nickel looking ones.  I also decided to paint an old end table we’d had tucked into a closet to match the dresser.  Paul was a little concerned about the color I picked, but once it was on the dresser, he loved it as much as I did from the beginning.

Dresser Update

Another project we worked on was getting the previously called guest room to qualify as a nursery.  So what does that mean??? It means a crib!  Yay!  My parents gave us the crib for Christmas, so Paul got it set up.  I also created some prints (inspired by Pinterest, of course), framed them and hung them on the walls.  I would still like to do a little more decorating, but I think that will come with time.

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The next project we worked on was building gates for the top and bottom of our stairs.  This is one of the requirements for the adoption process, so it was a high priority.  I had been thinking about a gate for the top of the stairs since we had Harry, but he’s never really been allowed to roam free upstairs.  And now, he knows how to do stairs by himself so I thought we sidestepped that phase.  But since we needed to get it done, I revisited the ideas I’d had floating around from way back.  I am not crazy about the pre-fabbed baby gates.  They tend to be cumbersome and expensive and not to mention major eye-soars.  Pinterest to the rescue yet again!  I’d seen a number of homemade, farm-door style gates and we decided to use that as inspiration.  Eventually, we used plywood covered in fabric and chalkboard with some pretty and chunky hardware.  I am very happy with the outcome!  And it’s a good thing I like it since we have two!

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Once the gates were completed, I moved on to the closet for the nursery.  A few years ago, I painted it green to match the green in the room.  That actually made a huge difference in making it so much more attractive.  There are no doors, so we’d hung a curtain up instead.  The problem was that there was only one shelf and one rod across the length of the closet.  It was a very inefficient use of space!

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I went back and forth in my mind about how much time and effort I wanted to invest in the closet.  I also didn’t want to spend a fortune on it.  So I scoured Pinterest yet again and took a field trip out to The Container Store in Pasadena with a couple friends to get ideas.  Eventually, I decided to add a column of shelves on one side and another rod with a shelf above it that only reaches half way across the closet.  I also wanted another high shelf that stretched the length of the closet.  But of course, I couldn’t do any of this until is was painted pretty to match the room!  I used the same paint I had used on the dresser and end table.  By using left over wood from other projects, our total cost for this closet makeover was only about $75, which makes us both happy!

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With a few final touches to the nursery, like a ribbon chandelier I made from a wire cupcake tower and some more art on the walls, I feel like the nursery is officially ready.  I know that once we actually start using it, it will start to fill up and looked lived in. I can’t wait to get to that point.  image-8

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We decided to have a library themed party for Harry’s first birthday.  We chose this theme because we want to promote reading, of course, and because Harry loves his books.  We also go to a weekly library that Harry really enjoys.  I started the party with the invitations.  I had a great idea of how I wanted it to look, so I got it done a couple MONTHS in advance.  But once I had the invitation done, I needed to start planning the actual party and I realized my idea wasn’t quite as broad as I had thought.  But, I was very happy with the way it all came together and I believe both Harry and our guests had a good time.

I mimicked the old libabry check-out cards for the invite.  I bought some old books at a thrift store to create a pocket that the card would slip into.

I mimicked the old libabry check-out cards for the invite. I bought some old books at a thrift store to create a pocket that the card would slip into.

I made this shirt for Harry.  I used some iron on bonding to adhere the ribbon suspenders and the one.  The bow tie I glued on with a hot glue gun.

I made this shirt for Harry. I used some iron on bonding to adhere the ribbon suspenders and the one. The bow tie I glued on with a hot glue gun.

While most of the party was outside, I did put up some decorations inside as well.  I found some cute 4x6 card packs on sale in the scrapbooking section of Hobby Lobby.  I punched holes and threaded them with yarn to make the banner.  Harry liked them.

While most of the party was outside, I did put up some decorations inside as well. I found some cute 4×6 card packs on sale in the scrapbooking section of Hobby Lobby. I punched holes and threaded them with yarn to make the banner. Harry liked them.

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I made banners out of old children's books.

I made banners out of old children’s books.

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We put clusters of balloons nailed into the grass to add color to an area where we couldn't otherwise hang anything.  It looked great.

We put clusters of balloons nailed into the grass to add color to an area where we couldn’t otherwise hang anything. It looked great.

Along the side of the house that has a wooded fence, we put up library sections and posters with books related quotes that I made on my computer then had printed at Staples.  I decided to go with a chalkboard look so that I could print in black and white without losing any of the effect I was going for.

Along the side of the house that has a wooded fence, we put up library sections and posters with books related quotes that I made on my computer then had printed at Staples. I decided to go with a chalkboard look so that I could print in black and white without losing any of the effect I was going for.

We put library section sings all around the yard, wherever we could find a way to make them stick.  This were hung on the balcony that over looks the backyard.

We put library section sings all around the yard, wherever we could find a way to make them stick. This were hung on the balcony that over looks the backyard.

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We hired a taco man for the main food, but wanted to make sure there were baby friendly foods as well.  I do think many of our guest (not just the little ones) enjoyed the option of Peanut Butter and Marshmallow or Cream Cheese and Jelly sandwiches.

We hired a taco man for the main food, but wanted to make sure there were baby friendly foods as well. I do think many of our guest (not just the little ones) enjoyed the option of Peanut Butter and Marshmallow or Cream Cheese and Jelly sandwiches.

I wanted to make sure there was something for the kids to actually do at the party besides just sit around, so I had an arts and crafts station and we gave out books as the party favor.  At the arts and crafts station, they could decorate party hats, decorate a bag to take home their goodies in, mold something out of play dogh and color.

I wanted to make sure there was something for the kids to actually do at the party besides just sit around, so I had an arts and crafts station and we gave out books as the party favor. At the arts and crafts station, they could decorate party hats, decorate a bag to take home their goodies in, mold something out of play dogh and color.

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I local thrift store sells children's books for 25 cents, so I was able to get enough that each child could pick one to take home as a favor.

I local thrift store sells children’s books for 25 cents, so I was able to get enough that each child could pick one to take home as a favor.

I made three types of cupcakes, Almond Joy, Lemon Delight, and Blue Suede.  They were all pretty good, but my favorites were the Blue Suede and Lemon Delight.

I made three types of cupcakes, Almond Joy, Lemon Delight, and Blue Suede. They were all pretty good, but my favorites were the Blue Suede and Lemon Delight.

I bought two packs of the candles that spell out Happy Birthday and swapped out the p's for r's and spray painted them so the candles would spell Harry's name.

I bought two packs of the candles that spell out Happy Birthday and swapped out the p’s for r’s and spray painted them so the candles would spell Harry’s name.

This shot cracks me up!  Harry didn't want to touch his cake at first, but once I finally got him to taste it, he realized he liked it after all.  He wanted to give it a big hug!

This shot cracks me up! Harry didn’t want to touch his cake at first, but once I finally got him to taste it, he realized he liked it after all. He wanted to give it a big hug!

This is Harry with one of his Aunties who he doesn't get to see too often, Paul's sister Kristi.

This is Harry with one of his Aunties who he doesn’t get to see too often, Paul’s sister Kristi.

Harry with Grandpa.

Harry with Grandpa.

This is Harry's cousin Gia.

This is Harry’s cousin Gia.

One of my dearest friends Tiffiny was able to make it!

One of my dearest friends Tiffiny was able to make it!

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Harry enjoyed some time with Grandma Katie before the party got started.

Randi and I met last year in our new mom's group right after our babies were born.  Her little guy, Charlie, is one of Harry's first friends.

Randi and I met last year in our new mom’s group right after our babies were born. Her little guy, Charlie, is one of Harry’s first friends.

Dan is one of Paul's oldest friends.  They went to high school together and Dan one even one of Paul's best men in our wedding.  It was great to see Dan and Sarah as they live pretty far and we don't the opportunity too often.

Dan is one of Paul’s oldest friends. They went to high school together and Dan one even one of Paul’s best men in our wedding. It was great to see Dan and Sarah as they live pretty far and we don’t the opportunity too often.

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This is Grandma Katie with Harry's youngest cousin, Luka, who is only a month old!

This is Grandma Katie with Harry’s youngest cousin, Luka, who is only a month old!

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These are my parents, Dan and Mary. Harry loves his grandma and grandpa!

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This is my Grandpa, so Harry’s Great Grandpa, with one of my younger cousins Tommy. We were so glad they were all able to come.

There was a great turn out for the part!  We were so glad to see everyone and it was fun to gather all the kids for a picture.

There was a great turn out for the part! We were so glad to see everyone and it was fun to gather all the kids for a picture.

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I have seen the family birthday calendars on printers and been wanting to make one for a while. To be honest, I’d love to make one for my home. But we decided to make one for my mother-in-law this last Christmas. My husband is the youngest of eight children, almost everybody is married, and almost everybody has at least one kid. So total there were nearly 40 tags that we wanted to include on the calendar.

I found an Etsy shop called Custom Vinyl Decor that sold the birthday calendar kit. They were incredibly helpful and super fast.  I look forward to shopping there in the future!  The kit included the vinyl cut out with the family name and the word celebrations, as well as 25 tags and hooks to hang them onto the board. We had to get our own board, paint it, and because our family is bigger, we needed to find more tags and hooks. And searching for the little tags which are made out of wood, I found some heart-shaped ones and decided those would be great for the anniversary dates. I don’t have the most beautiful penmanship, so I decided to print the names and birthdays from the computer, then mod podge them onto the wooden tags.

I found a one and a half inch circle hole punch, so it was an easy job punching out the names and months to apply to the discs. It wasn’t quite as easy cutting out the hearts to look right, but in the end I was very pleased with the way everything looked. I used some of the same paint from the plaque itself on the edges of the tags, that brought everything together making it look the right color and very very pretty.

We had our board printed, all of the tags were painted and had their names on them. And that’s where the real “fun” started. I put the word fun in quotes because that’s the last thing it actually was. Putting the little rings onto the discs was super hard. We had to use pliers to open the ring slip it through the holes then close the rings. Then we needed to link them together and make sure they close tight enough that the disks wouldn’t fall apart. The whole process took a long time and was very tedious. My husband and I did it together, though, and the moral support of doing it together made a big difference.

Once completed, it looked beautiful. Of course we wanted to wrap it since it was a Christmas gift. And in the process of wrapping it, several of the chains fell off the board. We would reattach it, try to attach a better this time. Than restart the wrapping process. When my mother-in-law opened it on Christmas I think one of the months fell off. But we came prepared in my husband was able to pull out the players from the diaper bag and fix it in a snap.

In the end, I think it was a beautiful gift and a very fun way to commemorate the whole family and all of the wonderful milestones we have every month of the year. But, I would definitely start more than two weeks before Christmas. I think if I given myself a month or so to get it done, it would’ve been a much smoother process. I still want to make one for my own home, and I might include birthdays on both my husband’s side of the family and my side of the family. It really is a wonderful visual aid in helping us see what a beautiful family we have and how blessed we are.

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The holiday season just passed, and with it, craft season. That’s right, I decided to go with crafts, homemade Christmas gifts this year. As a single income family, and lots and lots of people we want to give gifts and love to, we simply couldn’t buy presents for everyone. So we decided to make them.

A couple months ago, my grandmother decided to officially finalize her retirement from baking. She cleaned out her baking supplies and gave a lot of the old pans and other goodies to my mom and me. One of the things she gave us is her boards. Boards that she put the cakes on. They’re not quite cardboard not quite wood, but something in between. And in all shapes and sizes. Okay, they’re mostly round, but there were a few other shapes and they did come in varying sizes.

I decided to use these to make something for our family and friends we wanted to give gifts too. If you look on Pinterest these days, you will find a plethora of plaques for walls with cute quotes and sayings on them. And many of them appear to be chalkboard. So that’s what I decided to do. I made chalkboard look-alike plaques with Christmas quotes and sayings.

I started out by painting all the boards that I was planning to use white. I had to do a couple coats on some of them because some of the boards were a little beat up. Then, the real fun started. I use my cricket to cut out words and other cute shapes. I cut them out of freezer paper, then ironed them on to the boards waxy side down. I then put a light coat of black paint over the whole board. While the paint was still a little bit tacky, mostly dry but not 100%, I gently peeled off the freezer paper.

Since the freezer paper had been ironed on to wood, it didn’t peel off totally 100% cleanly. But, that gave a look of distress that I was actually going for. I then used a fine sandpaper to smooth out the wood and even distress some of the black paint. Following that, I gave it a coat of mod podge to seal in the design.

Once they were completely dry, I asked my husband to drill a hole in the top (not that I couldn’t do it myself, I just wanted to help😉). I slipped in a ribbon to tie it off and voilà, super cute little signs to be hung on people’s doors in place of wreaths or on walls of peoples hallways.

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I shared the invitation and the food in a previous post, about a baby shower I threw for my friend Katie.  Now, I will share some of the decorations and activities.

We hung this sign up on the garage door that directed guests to go around the side of the house to the back yard.

We hung this sign up on the garage door that directed guests to go around the side of the house to the back yard.

As guests walked back, they started to see evidence of the nautical theme with these cute luminaries that I ordered from Oriental Trading Co.

As guests walked back, they started to see evidence of the nautical theme with these cute luminaries that I ordered from Oriental Trading Co.

We put a picnic table near the entrance for guests to drop off their gifts.

We put a picnic table near the entrance for guests to drop off their gifts.

I put out some small diapers and a bunch of sharpie markers.  We instructed guests to write a note to the new parents that they could read during a midnight diaper change.  Some notes were sweet and encouraging, some were funny.

I put out some small diapers and a bunch of sharpie markers. We instructed guests to write a note to the new parents that they could read during a midnight diaper change. Some notes were sweet and encouraging, some were funny.

Instead of a guest book, we asked guests to add their fingerprint to the tree.  Katie and Todd now have his hanging in their home were they can be reminded of all the people who love and support them.

Instead of a guest book, we asked guests to add their fingerprint to the tree. Katie and Todd now have this hanging in their home were they can be reminded of all the people who love and support them.

We created a photo booth backdrop using pvc pipes and a flat bed sheet.  I hung a bit of fish netting and cute red, white and blue pennant banner on to it.  I found a collection of props to use including a skipper hat, a sailer hat, chalk board, and some paper cut-outs.

We created a photo booth backdrop using pvc pipes and a flat bed sheet. I hung a bit of fish netting and a cute red, white and blue pennant banner on to it. I found a collection of props to use including a skipper hat, a sailer hat, chalk board, and some paper cut-outs.

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There we with our dear friends shortly before they became parents.

There we are with our dear friends shortly before they became parents.

Brothers!

Brothers!

Sisters!

Sisters!

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This is one of my favorite photo booth shots.  Clearly the guests got creative and had tons of fun.

This is one of my favorite photo booth shots. Clearly the guests got creative and had tons of fun.

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Another activity was onsie decorating.  I used Rit Dye to dye some of the onsies red and some blue.  I used my cricut to create a bunch of freezer paper stencils that were pre-adhered to the onsies.  And buy hanging them up, they served as an activity and a beautiful decoration.

Another activity was onsie decorating. I used Rit Dye to dye some of the onsies red and some blue. I used my cricut to create a bunch of freezer paper stencils that we pre-adhered to the onsies. And buy hanging them up, they served as an activity and a beautiful decoration.

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Towards the end of the party, DH and I went over and started removing the freezer paper to reveal the finished onsies.  If you look closely, you can see that I attached tags to the onsies.  We did this so that guests could sign the ones they painted and Katie and Todd would know who made them.

Katie's sister brought this wreath made out of cloth diapers and cute socks as a gift and a decoration.

Katie’s sister brought this wreath made out of cloth diapers and cute socks as a gift and a decoration.

After the gifts were opened, we put out the favors of the now cleared off gift table.

After the gifts were opened, we put out the favors on the now cleared off gift table.

The favors were wrapped of packs of gourmet cookies.  I found these bags on Oriental Trading and printed labels to match the invitations.

The favors were wrapped up packs of gourmet cookies. I found these bags on Oriental Trading and printed labels to match the invitations.

The cookies were all home made.  My mom and I made brown butter salted caramel cookies, chocolate sandwich cookies, heath chocolate chip cookies and m&m chocolate chip cookies.  Each pack had two.

The cookies were all home made. My mom and I made brown butter salted caramel cookies, chocolate sandwich cookies (based of this recipe), heath chocolate chip cookies and m&m chocolate chip cookies. Each pack had two.

Here are a couple more shots… not of anything specific, but of the party as a whole.

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It was a very hot day, so several of the guest lined up under the misters to cool off and watch the gifts be opened.

It was a very hot day, so several of the guest lined up under the misters to cool off and watch the gifts be opened.

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And here's my two guys!  My cute little man in his sailor onsie that I found at Old Navey and my hot hubby who was so incredibly helpful throughout the entire party planning and throwing process.

And here are my two guys! My cute little man in his sailor onsie that I found at Old Navy and my hot hubby who was so incredibly helpful throughout the entire party planning and throwing process.

Within about a week of this party, Katie and Todd got a call that a ten month old boy needed a home.  Shortly after, a newborn girl was placed in their care as well.  They are blessed with a full home and full hearts.  And as their friend, I am so very happy to be a part of it.

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I have been meaning to write this post for a couple months now.  I have been putting it off, though, because I have been going back and forth between wanting to simply showcase the party, or offer some how-to’s of some of the details.  Well, right now, I’m going to do a showcase.  I plan to add a few other posts here and there with more details for some of the projects.  But for today, I’m going to keep it simple.

Before I share the party, I want to share the story.  I have known my friend Katie since we were really little girls.  I’m talking, like, 25 years or more!  I don’t even like saying that because it makes me feel old.  But that’s how far back our friendship goes.  She and her husband got married young and have recently celebrated a decade of marriage.  Over those years, they wanted to start a family, and unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned.  But the Lord put it on their hearts to adopt and this last summer, they finish the preparation and were just waiting for the call telling them a baby was waiting.  So, to help them prepare, my husband and I threw them a baby shower.

Nautical themes are pretty popular these days and they can be pretty gender neutral.  Also, it’s not too frilly which we thought was appropriate for the men who were invited.  We wanted to make sure Dad-to-Be and his friends were comfortable.  The party was also close to the Fourth of July, so I was able to find lots of wonderful red, white and blue decorations to incorporate.

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Katie wanted a modern looking invite with clean lines. I wanted to celebrate the fact that they were opening their home and hearts to adoption.

 

We decided to keep the menu simple by barbecuing, but we made a beautiful buffet in the dining room.

We decided to keep the menu simple by barbecuing, but we made a beautiful buffet in the dining room.

 

For the drinks, I kept it simple again, by sticking with lemonade, iced tea, and water.  But I classed it up a bit by putting out some fancy garnishes and flavoring syrups.  The drink station was a hit.

For the drinks, I kept it simple again, by sticking with lemonade, iced tea, and water. But I classed it up a bit by putting out some fancy garnishes and flavoring syrups. The drink station was a hit.

 

For dessert, I wanted variety, so I got out this cupcake tower I built a while back and changed the ribbon to match this party.  I made a gluten free cupcakes, caramel and chocolate dipped marshmallows, and Neapolitan rice crispy treats dipped in white chocolate.  We also made jello-boats and the mother of the dad-to-be brought some gluten free lemon cookies and brownies to add as well.

For dessert, I wanted variety, so I got out this cupcake tower I built a while back and changed the ribbon to match this party. I made a gluten free cupcakes, caramel and chocolate dipped marshmallows, and Neapolitan rice crispy treats dipped in white chocolate. We also made jello-boats and the mother of the dad-to-be brought some gluten free lemon cookies and brownies to add as well.

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I wanted the whole event to be very special, of course, and there were so many things I wanted to include.  That is why I decided to keep the menu simple and elegant (if I’m allowed to use the word elegant to describe hamburgers and hotdogs).  But keeping it simple allowed me to spend more energy on some of the decorations and games.  I will share those in my next post.

 

 

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My husband is brilliant. Not that I didn’t already know this interesting factoid, it’s why I married him after all. But he showed his brilliance once again recently when he was cleaning out the garage.

I had put an old spice-rack in a yard sale pile thinking I had no need for it. It was full of spices I didn’t use and, as much as I liked how cool it looked on my countertop (it made me feel like a better cook than I actually am), I figured I could get a little cash for it since I honestly didn’t use it. But DH saw it when he was cleaning and organizing our junk and thought of a great idea for it.

You see, when we had our house tented for termites this last summer, we had to bag everything. It was a horribly tedious project that happened to highlight how many sprinkles I have acquired over the last few years. I have a couple dozen little cups of sprinkles in all the colors of the rainbow. And when DH was cleaning the garage he saw the old spice-rack and for some reason thought of the sprinkles.

And that’s how my brilliant husband came up with the brilliant idea to use the old spice rack to store my colorful sprinkles beautifully displayed instead of hidden away to be forgotten about. .

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Don’t they look pretty?

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