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DIY – Frugal Novice
Browsing Category


DIY Personalized Laundry Organization System


This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #TryMembersMark  #CollectiveBias

With five people in our house, we go through a lot of laundry each week. We have to work hard to stay on top of it, or it can pile up and become a monumental task.

Because of how much laundry we go through, it’s crucial that we do two things: stay equipped, and stay organized.

We always make sure to be equipped with plenty of detergent, because there’s nothing more frustrating than having to run to the store in the middle of laundry day.

As with any of our essentials, I go to Sam’s Club to stock up on detergent. Their exclusive Member’s Mark® Ultimate Clean Liquid Laundry Cleaner is really affordable (in fact, on my most recent trip it was just $11.98 for 177 ounces. I love that this detergent delivers superior performance without costing a ton – it provides enough for about 115 loads of laundry, which will get us through 4 or 5 months.

It also has a patented Ultimate Clean Technology that works great on tough stains to get them out – even in cold water loads. I know we’ll have clothes that are brightened, whitened, fresh, and clean when we use the Member’s Mark detergent – and the Fresh Scent smells great!



I mentioned above that I like to be equipped and organized to stay on top of our laundry. I’m always looking for ways to be more efficient, and in that spirit I thought I’d share this great, easy, and cheap personalized laundry organization system. This will help our kids put their clean laundry away, making it an easier process for us.

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Super Cute – and Easy – Diaper Wreath Tutorial


This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SnugHugs  #CollectiveBias

One of my good friends at work had a baby a few weeks ago, and we’re planning a baby shower. I’m having way too much fun helping with it – I created onesie-shaped invitations (complete with little bow ties to go with our theme) – and I’ve made a really adorable diaper wreath that will be a great welcoming feature as people arrive.

Diaper cakes have been really popular for a long time now – I’ve made, and received, my fair share of them. I think they’re really fun and can make a perfect table centerpiece, but with this shower I wanted to do something a little more unique.

Diaper wreaths are great on several levels: they, like I mentioned, are placed on the front door and welcome guests to the party. Another pro? The diapers are easy to remove and use. And unlike a diaper cake, you don’t have to find a big surface to store the wreath on when you take it home.

The best part about diaper wreaths, though, is they’re SO easy to make! You just need a few supplies:

  • Rubber bands (I used the little bands my kids had for making bracelets – we have tons of them left over now that the craze has passed).
  • Diapers (I went to Sam’s Club so I could get a big bunch; I had plenty for the wreath and I know my friend will love getting the big box of extras, too). My friend loves the great quality of Huggies Snug & Dry, especially the fact that they provide up to 12 hours of protection and keep her baby’s skin dry!  There’s a great deal for $7 off at Sam’s right now on Ibotta (get it for yourself here), so that was a total win!
  • Huggies-Diapers-Sams-DiaperWreathStacks-Diapers-Huggies
  • Assorted ribbon
  • Glue gun & glue sticks
  • Wreath shape (I bought one made out of MDF but you could cut a shape out of cardboard, foam core, or another material you have on hand)

Now let’s get on to how to assemble the wreath!

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Going Above & Beyond for Our Dog with Grain-Free Purina® Beyond®


This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PetsLoveBeyond #CollectiveBias

We love our dogs. I don’t know if it’s nature or nurture, but we’ve ended up with two incredibly sweet and patient pups who follow us around loyally, dole out tons of kisses, and play with our kids like it’s their job. They also serve as willing pillows for little heads, and are just all around great members of our family.


Sally is our older dog; she’s 4 years old and is just getting out of her hyper puppy phase. We decided it was about time she had her own dedicated bed, and so we came up with a DIY project to pamper her a little: a knotted fleece dog bed.

If you’ve ever made a knotted fleece blanket, the concept is very similar. It’s easy, and there’s no sewing, so kids can get in on this project! I had a friend over and we each made a bed for our dogs.

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DIY Dollar Tree Spring/Summer Centerpiece


Note: This is a partnered post with Dollar Tree. I hope you enjoy this DIY decor project – it is my concept, and all opinions in this post are mine as well.

Spring is in the air, and I’ve been having fun helping our home decor reflect the change in seasons. Our Easter decor is put away, and there aren’t any more holidays we’ll decorate for until the Fourth of July, so I was on the hunt for a table centerpiece that would work through spring and the first half of summer.

I don’t want to spend a ton on decor items, and it can be easy to spend upwards of $40 to end up with something cute, so I decided to shop Dollar Tree for some stylish and affordable options.

I knew I wanted something colorful, so a blue woven placemat jumped out at me as the perfect base for our centerpiece.

Next I looked at vases – they have a TON, which I knew because I’ve shopped their vases for an office party before. But I hadn’t seen these bud vases before, with a fun orange chevron print. The orange contrasts against the blue perfectly!

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DIY Chalkboard



If you saw my post about our DIY reclaimed wood wall then you know we’re on a sort of home decor kick. We’ve lived in our house for over a year and are finally getting around to adding personal touches to really make our house feel like a home.

At our old house we had a chalkboard border (also DIY) in the kitchen and we really loved it, so we knew we wanted to find a way to incorporate a chalkboard into this house, too. We decided the large wall in our dining room would be perfect. Once we chose the location, we got started by measuring the wall – we wanted the chalkboard to fill the wall but still have a bit of space around it. Then we went to Lowe’s and had a piece of masonite cut; we had another piece cut to make a smaller chalkboard for our friends at the same time.

To begin the project I laid the masonite out and primed it. I primed it with a magnetic primer, but I’d recommend getting a regular primer tinted black or dark grey. The magnetic primer was expensive and I was only able to get one coat on each board. I didn’t want to pay for another can, and ended up with virtually no magnetic hold to the chalkboard. Oh well – it did work well as a primer!



After that I put one coat of chalkboard paint on each board. I made sure to keep the coat fairly thick, and one coat did the trick.


We bought some baseboard molding and I stained it to match the rest of the wood in our house. It worked out well because I love the look of a dark wood frame around a chalkboard and think it evokes a vintage feel.

We let the chalkboard paint dry for 24 hours and then it was time to prep it with chalk. It’s the one instance you want to make your brand new project look not-so-brand-new!

First I used the side of chalk pieces to cover the entire board. You don’t need to worry about making it uniform (as you can see mine is quite haphazard) – just get good coverage.


Then wipe the whole thing down with a dry rag. Here’s what ours looked like after one pass. I ended up wiping it down one more time to get it to where I liked it.Chalkboard-Dusted

Next it was time for installation. We screwed the masonite directly into the wall at both the top and bottom of the board, hitting as many studs as we could.


Once it was up, I took a wet rag and wiped down the edges so our frame could adhere to a clean surface.



Next we used construction adhesive to secure the frame to the chalkboard. Brian did miter cuts on the corners of our molding strips so we ended up with a nice clean finished product (FYI you don’t need anything fancy to do this; just buy an inexpensive saw and miter box, and you’re all set).



We used quick-grab adhesive but still decided to add finishing nails for more support. They’re small and virtually unnoticeable, but as with our wood wall I like the character they add.



In some places the construction adhesive seeped out beyond the frame, so I used a toothpick to carefully clean up the excess:


And voila! Our custom-made chalkboard. I love it and think it really makes the space. We’ll fill it with quotes, scriptures, birthday greetings and more.


If you make your own chalkboard I’d love to see it! Send me a photo (my email address is on my contact page) and I’ll add it to this post with credit to you.

DIY Reclaimed Wood Wall


Note: We received wood from Reclaimed Lumber Products to facilitate our project. All opinions in this post are honest and are our own.

We love – love – the house we’re in now. It was a relatively new build when we bought it in 2013, and almost all of it suits our taste really well. However, if you’ve bought a newer home then you probably know all-too-well the builder beige that ends up coating every wall. Sure, it’s nice and neutral, but we wanted to inject our personality in the house to really make it our home.

The wall in the photo below leads into our master bedroom, and it’s right off the living room. It’s a wall we see often, and I wanted to do something to make it a more special entrance into our room. I’ve loved the look of reclaimed wood for years, and knew it was just what we needed for this space.


I researched reclaimed wood quite a bit, and discovered Reclaimed Lumber Products as the perfect source for materials. It’s hard to find reclaimed wood locally, and even if you do the planks might be pretty thick or somewhat warped, making it difficult to adhere to a vertical surface like a wall.

Reclaimed Lumber Products is a full millwork shop and has wood planed down one side to provide a great surface for walls. The wood is primarily from barns in the Northwest; it’s not unusual for wood they use to be from barns that are 100+ years old, and I love the idea of there being history to the wood we’re using.

Once I found the source for our wood, I needed to pick which type to use. For me, it came down to two types:


Idaho Barn Wood Blend. I really like the variation in types of boards, and I like that the widths vary, too – 3″, 5″, and 7″ widths are included. This photo above from their website really had me almost 100% sold, but then I also saw the Oak Blend:


The Oak Blend was appealing to me because of the nail holes and the wear & tear you can see on the boards. Like I mentioned, I love the sense of history from reclaimed wood, and you certainly get a feel for that with the Oak Blend. The boards for this are all 5″ wide, which can make for an easier time laying out the pattern.  You get a variation of tone with these boards, too – from honey brown to grey colors with original patina and texture.

Spoiler alert: We went with the Oak Blend. And I really adore how it turned out! But first, here’s how we did this project:

First, we measured the wall. We knew that the top portion of the wall would be slightly wider because it wouldn’t have door frames on the sides. Then we worked on laying out a rough “draft” of what the wall assembly would look like. We figured out we’d need 18 rows of boards, and the top 3 would be wider (with the third row needing notches cut for the door frames).


We figured out which rows we wanted to have a solid board running all the way across the width of the wall, and which we wanted to have multiple pieces. We also thought about coloration of the boards to have contrast, and we made sure rows with multiple boards didn’t have seams lining up with other rows. We wanted it to look fairly random and natural… but with some planning behind it.


Once we laid out our boards, I labeled the backs – 1, 2, 3a, 3b, etc. so that we could stack the wood up and make sure we attached it to the wall in the right order. We did our planning and installation on two separate weekends, but you could easily accomplish the whole project from start to finish in one day. When it came time for installation day, we laid out our materials and were ready to go.


When it came to how to secure the wood to the wall, there were a lot of options. The Reclaimed Lumber Products site recommends attaching a plywood board to your wall, painting it flat black, and then attaching the wood to the plywood.

Since we were working around a lot of elements – a wired-in smoke detector, a light fixture, a thermostat and a light switch – we decided not to install plywood to keep the thickness down. I considered painting the wall black, but since the tones of the wood weren’t that different from the beige on our walls we just left the wall as is. Black paint is probably the safest option for a backdrop, though – any gaps between boards will just look like shadows.

We bought a construction adhesive that a friend recommended – Loctite PL Premium – and ended up needing about four tubes for our project. You’ll also need a good caulk gun to use with the adhesive tubes.


This adhesive, while it works really well long-term, is somewhat slick upon initial application. We discovered the quick-grab version of this adhesive with our next DIY project, and it is much more ideal for vertical surfaces. The quick-grab version costs about twice as much as the PL Premium, so it may not be worth it to you if you’re wanting to keep your overall project costs down.



Initially we were just going with the “hold it up until it sticks” strategy (which makes for a GREAT arm workout, by the way) and then we decided to add finishing nails to help hold the boards in place. This was the perfect solution and made the installation soooo easy. You can barely see the nails, but even if you notice them I think it adds a little to the character of the wall.




Brian did cut notches to go around the smoke detector, light, light switch and thermostat. In most cases we had a seam meet up behind the device to make it easier, but for the light switch he just cut a rectangle out to allow space for the switch to fit through.


I took a photo for y’all to see just how thin the boards are against the wall. There’s some slight variation in thickness, which we loved, but the boards are all nice and lightweight, and are really easy to install.

We thought about staining the wall with stain that matches our cabinets and front door, but in the end we really like the natural finish and left the wood as is. And now here’s what you’ve been waiting for – the finished product. I can’t tell you enough how much we love this wall. It’s a real statement piece for the house now and it’s something we’ll love for years to come. And it makes it even better to have the pride of knowing that we installed it ourselves.





Show Your Dogs You’re Thankful for Them with Big Heart Pet Brands

Note: I’ve partnered with Lunchbox and Big Heart Pet Brands to bring you some great ideas for showing your dog how thankful you are for them this holiday season! 


Treat The Pups Banner 1

Our two dogs, Sally and Ninja, are an important part of our family. Sally is a three-year-old Lab/Golden Retriever who thinks she’s a lap dog and is incredibly patient with our three kids. Ninja is just 7 months old, and is a Schnauzer/Yorkie mix who is tiny and full of energy, and totally holds his own when playing with Sally.

They’re very different in many ways, but one thing they have in common is a love of treats!



It can be easy to forget to appreciate your furry family members, so that’s why we thought we would create a “Treat Turkey”  to use as a decoration and to serve as a reminder for us to give Ninja & Sally treats. We just used dabs of royal icing to secure treats to the turkey, and each day for a week leading up to Thanksgiving we’re going to give a treat to the dogs and talk about a reason we’re thankful for each of them. Easy and fun! The larger treats are kind of heavy so we will keep this out on a flat surface, but if you use all small treats you could hang it up on your fridge or wall. We got our printable from J’s teacher, but there are lots online as well – just do a search for “turkey printable.”


You can create your own DIY craft projects for your dogs – your kids will have a blast with it, and your dogs will love getting something special. Check out this page from Wal-Mart for all sorts of inspiration! Share how you #TreatThePups on your social media! 

Sally will definitely be thankful to get a Milk-Bone! She was practically grinning in the photo below as she waited for me to give her one the other day


Valspar Reserve – Paint that Lasts

Note: We received Valspar Reserve Paint to try. I was not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and my own.

At our old house, Brian and I painted quite a bit – our kitchen, entry, front door, master bathroom, the boys’ room, and even the exterior trim. Of course, that house was built in 1972 and had a lot of room for cosmetic updates.

The house we’re in now was a new build, so it was move-in ready. Of course, all the walls are builders’ beige which is not our style. We decided to start adding splashes of color in the kids’ bathrooms: a blue accent wall for the boys’ bathroom, and a pink accent wall for E’s.

Since the rooms we wanted to paint are both frequented by little people who are quite likely to touch the walls, we knew we’d want to pick a paint that could hold up to some wear and tear.


Valspar Reserve is a perfect choice. It uses HydroChroma technology, which is a breakthrough, high-performance paint colorant system. This technology provides superior color matching, advanced fade resistance and improved one-coat coverage, which means our color will stay true longer. It’s been tested for unsurpassed stain and scrub resistance.

Some details about the paint:

  • One coat, stain-blocking Paint + Primer
  • Unsurpassed stain + scrub resistance†
  • Maximum hiding, anti-fade formula
  • Smooth, easy to apply finish
  • Exceptional washability
  • Gives mildew-resistant finish
  • Superior adhesion to tough surfaces
  • Exceptional color matching
  • Low odor, zero VOC*
  • 100% acrylic latex
  • Lifetime warranty

Here are some before and after shots -it’s amazing what a difference paint makes!







Kindergarten Diploma – Free Printable!



I’m a sucker for memorabilia, so it made me a little sad when I realized our son’s school didn’t give out diplomas for “graduating” kindergarten. My mom still has mine hanging in the hall, and I love it! I decided to make a simple diploma for each of the kids in his class, and then I went to Dollar Tree and bought a frame for each of them. SO easy and inexpensive, and hopefully it’ll be something the kids are proud to receive.

In case you’re like me and would like to have diplomas for your child’s graduation, I’ve created a free printable for you to create your own. It’s a PDF file with text fields, so it should be easy for you to add your child’s name, the date, and the name of the school. There are five color options, too!  Just click here to download the PDF, and open it with Adobe Acrobat to edit the text.


DIY “Message in a Bottle” Pirate Invitations

Note: I received items from OrientalTrading.com to facilitate my craft/invitations. I was not compensated monetarily for my post. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Our middle son’s birthday is right around the corner – next week! – and he’s been excited about his party for a month or so now. He decided to have a pirate theme, and we immediately started looking for ideas on ways to make it special.

Of course, the first item on party prep is invitations, and as a graphic designer it’s always one of my favorite things to do. It’s a fun way to set the tone for your party, and it’s a great way to get creative without it taking too much time or costing too much money.

We went to OrientalTrading.com to look for invitation and party favor ideas, and we found SO many great items perfect to go with our party theme… and we found awesome DIY message in a bottle kits that we just had to get for invitations.



I created a 4″x8″ invitation for us to roll up and put inside the bottles, along with one pirate coin.  The top of the invitation reads, “Ahoy Matey! Here lies one piece of pirate gold. The rest of the treasure is missing, & Captain Colin needs your help to find it!”



The bottles open easily from the bottom so you can stick whatever small items in them you’d like – you could do seashells, sand, or any other beach/nautical items that go along with your theme.



Here are the finished invitations – I used double-stick tape to adhere a label to the outside, and it reads:

Argh Matey! You’re invited

Open this bottle and you will find, a chance for adventure (the very fun kind)

We hope you can join us as we hunt treasure and play,

And help us to celebrate Colin’s 5th birthday!



The best part about these invitations? They’re SO inexpensive. We printed the invitations ourselves. Twelve bottles just cost $13.50, and it’s $5.00 for 144 coins (the rest of the coins are going in goody bags). Our son took the invitations to school and handed them out, so we didn’t even have to pay shipping.

Aren’t the invitations so fun? I can’t wait to show you the rest of the great party favors we found at Oriental Trading – be sure and keep an eye out for my post-birthday write-up coming in the next couple of weeks!