August 28, 2013

First Day of School Memory Page

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of BIC® for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Most nights at the dinner table, I ask my kids about their day.  Even though the questions are pretty simple ~ "Tell me one thing that made you smile today",  "What was one thing that you were proud of?", "Tell me one thing that made you sad", etc. ~ their answers will vary day to day and they actually give me a pretty good indication of how things are going with both their classes and their friends. 

For the first day of school this year, I wanted to capture some of their answers as a little memory page.  I made a space to put one of the "first day photos" I took before they left for school and included some of our regular dinner time questions as well as a few about their new grade. 

Check it out...

Even though they're not too excited to start actual homework, they didn't mind sitting down with some new colorful BIC Atlantis® pens (and a plate of brownies) and recording a few thoughts about their first day.

Their responses are cute, colorful and the page will be a nice little keepsake to be filed away with their school work for the year. 

Of course, after they finished their questions, I had my own First Day of School paperwork to fill out ( times three!).  I didn't get to use a colorful pink or purple pen, just a regular black BIC Atlantis®, but there is something kind of exciting about some fresh new pens and a fresh new start to a new school year.


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Duck Tape Notebooks with Pencil Holder

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Walmart for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Like thousands of kids across the counrty, my kids went back to school this week,  While they're excited to see their friends and start a new school year, it's a little tough to say goodbye to the fun days of summer.  To make the transition to schoolwork a little easier, we jazzed up our plain composition books and pencils with some fun Duck Tape designs. 


Check these out...

Duck Tape Notebooks with handy pencil holder

Aren't they fun?  There are so many fun Duck Tape patterns, my kids loved choosing designs to match their personalities ~ silly pickles and a funky zigzag for my daughter and sports for my son! 

Oh, and did you notice the handy little pencil holders on the sides of the notebook?  No more digging in their pencil cases when it's time to take notes, their pencil will be right there when they need it!


Here's what you'll need...


* Duck Tape in the colors and patterns of your choice (you can buy Duck Tape at Walmart )

* Composition books and some fresh new pencils

* plastic straws ( regular straws are a bit too small, so look for the bigger "milkshake" straws )


Here's what to do to make your own fun notebooks...



1.  This step is optional, but if you're using black marble composition books and a lighter color Duck Tape, I'd recommend covering your whole notebook cover with a layer of white Duck Tape to cover the black lines.

2. Cut strips of Duck Tape that will cover the front and back of your notebook with just a little bit of extra.  (My strips were 16" long and I needed 5 1/2 strips of tape).  I found it really handy to put the strips on my cutting mat then cut them with a craft knife, but scissors would also work fine.

3. Attach the strips of Duck Tape to the cover of your notebook, slightly overlapping each strip.

4. Wrap the extra tape around the front cover so there's no stickiness on the edges of your notebook.



5.  This step is also optional, but we cut two pieces of Duck Tape in a coordinating color and overlapped them to cover the spine of the notebook.  It looks fun and the contrast helps make it easier to spot the pencil and pencil holder.

6.  Next, cut your straw so it's slightly shorter than your pencil.  I cut ours to be about 5" long.

7.  Cut two pieces of Duck Tape about an inch longer than your straw (ours was 6") and overlap the two pieces to create a wide rectangle that will hold the straw in place.

8.  Position the straw at the top edge of the Duck Tape and attach it to the side of your notebook.  Pinch the bottom inch of the Duck Tape (where it was longer than the straw) to seal off the bottom of the holder so your pencil doesn't slide straight through!

9.  Cut a few small pieces of Duck Tape to decorate your pencil.  Ours were about 1" wide and the width of the roll of tape.

10.  Wrap the tape around the top of the pencil by the eraser so you have pencils that coordinate with your notebook.


That's it!  Your kids will always know which notebook is theirs and they'll always have a pencil handy when it's time to do some work!


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August 17, 2013

BIG Custom Sports Photo Poster Collage (super easy and Inexpensive)

Yesterday I shared the HUGE Custom Photo Poster I made for my girls' room.  My son was impressed when he saw it and wanted something similar, so I used the same concept with an engineering print, but made it a sports collage instead.

Check it out...

I knew I wanted something sports related to match his room and his interests, so I made a collage of him playing four different sports and added text labels.

 Again, I used to add the effects, make the collage and add the sports words.  This isn't a sponsored post or anything, but if you haven't tried PicMonkey for photo editing fun, you really should.  It's really easy and there's so much you can do.

I simply went to the collage page and chose the layout that I wanted, then added my pictures.  I changed all the photos to black and white, adjusted the sharpness and exposure, and cropped them to best show the action.  When I had everything looking the way I wanted, I hit "Edit" at the top of the collage page, and I was able to add the sports' names.  I rotated them to fit where I wanted them and everything was ready.

NOTE:  Because you'll be printing this out at 24"x36" , you'll want a 2:3 ratio when you're making the final pixel size of your collage so it fills the whole poster without being cut off.  It sounds really "math-y" but it's just simple multiplication tables.  You'll want the short side to be a number multiplied by 2 and the long side to be that same number multiplied by 3.  For example, mine was 1400 (700x2) by 2100 (700x3).

Once I got the collage the way I wanted it, I uploaded it to Staples again.  I chose the engineering print option in 24x36 and chose to fill the page with the image.  I picked up a black 24x36 frame.  (Black seems to be a lot easier to find than white and it was cheaper than the girls' white one ~ only $9 for the frame!)

My cat gets very curious when I'm doing projects!

I just popped the poster in the frame and I was good to go.  My son loved it!  I think it would be awesome to do this with any sports or hobbies ~ you could even make a big collage of a whole season's worth of photos or really with anything.  And at $4 a print (mine was actually $3.29) you could switch it out whenever you want.

 Pretty cool, isn't it?  And for about $13 total for the picture and frame, it's way better than any generic sports print you could buy for your wall!

August 16, 2013

HUGE, Custom Photo Poster (and it's REALLY inexpensive!)

Last year, I saw this awesome Giant Picture on Sugar Bee Crafts and knew I wanted to make something similar.  All I had to do was wait till I got the perfect photo that I would want to make giant-sized.  Well, last week I finally got that perfect shot of my girls and set out to make my own huge print.

Here it is...

Awesome DIY!  Huge photo print for under $5

Isn't it pretty?  It's 2 feet by 3 feet, so it's quite big, but fills the space above their big dresser just perfectly.  (For a tutorial on their pretty, fabric-covered dresser, go HERE).  Oh, and did I mention that this gorgeous big custom print cost under $4?  That's right, four bucks!  It was so inexpensive that I splurged and got an $18 white frame to display it in.  Just over $20 and such a wow factor when you walk in their room.

When even an 8x10 photo enlargement can easily cost $4 or more, how did I get an 24x36 print for the same price?  The secret is getting an engineering print at an office supply store or copy center.  (I used Staples).  Usually engineering prints are used for blue prints and such, but they also work fine for a black and white photo.

Here's what I did...

First, I used a photo I got of my girls at a flower garden near our home.

They're both smiling, hair is brushed, outfits match, pretty background ~ that's something to take a picture of for sure!

Next, I went on  (it's FREE and really user friendly) and changed the photo to black and white.  I also adjusted the brightness, contrast, and sharpness just a little bit so it looked nice and crisp in black and white.  Finally, I added the frost edges around the outer edge and put the year in the bottom right corner.

Finally, I went online to Staples and uploaded my picture.  (I imagine other copy centers have similar online ordering options, or you can just save your image to a flash drive and take it in) I chose the 24x36" size (the medium option) and selected to fill the frame with my image.  Within a few hours, I got the email that it was ready and went to pick it up.

The paper is thin, like regular copy paper, but the photo is surprisingly clear.

Here is where I differed from the original tutorial.  Mandy had opted for the largest 3x4 foot size, so she mounted hers on a large piece of foam.  I actually tried mounting mine on foam board, but it got a few wrinkles in it that I didn't really like.  Then I realized that 24x36 is a standard frame size.  I got another engineering print, then used a coupon so I was able to get a nice white frame for just $18.  The print is protected behind glass and I can spend just $4 again anytime I want to just switch out for a new picture.  

Using an engineering print for a huge photo print

Oh, and the bottom of the picture looks a little blurry and hazy with a line running across their arms, but it's actually just the reflection of the bed in the background.  (It was like trying to photograph a mirror ~ tricky, tricky)

The girls love it, I love it, and I'm just thrilled that it was so inexpensive.

Next, I'll be sharing how I made a similar poster-sized piece of artwork for my son's room. You can check it out HERE.

August 11, 2013

Kid in a Liquid Soap Bottle (funny photo idea)

I love when I can find fun ways to use photos of the kids in little projects or crafts.  Last year, we made these Fun Photo Bookmarks and they were a big hit.  After the kids did a super fun Mud Run obstacle course with their cousins this summer, I knew I wanted to do something clever with some of the photos I took of all the muddy fun.  Then I remembered this pin I'd spotted several months ago.  I was super bummed that it was just an image and I can't find the source anywhere (if you know the source, please let me know so I can credit this great idea).  However, I figured out how to recreate it and the kids love being trapped in a bottle.

Check it out!  Isn't this cool?

Kid's picture in a liquid hand soap bottle

It was really easy to do, the hardest part was choosing a picture then making a quick run to the office supply store to get the transparency.

First, a quick peek at the fun they had getting filthy at the Mud Run (it was a 1 1/2 mile course through tons of muddy obstacles and all the proceeds went to charity).

Can you believe how totally mud-covered they were by the end?  They loved it though.

Okay, now on to the project.  Here's what to do...

First I picked a few bottles of clear liquid hand soap or hand sanitizer and printed out some pictures of each mud-covered kid.

Next, I carefully cut out as close as I could around each kid, then took the photos to Office Depot and had them make a color transparency. (cost was about $2)

Finally, remove the label from the front of the bottle.  (I left the back label in place so the picture was a little easier to see).  However, if your photos are brighter than a muddy brown, you could remove the back label too.

Then I cut out each kid's picture, leaving some of the clear transparency film around it.  (It's a little tough to see in the picture, but I have the image of my daughter with about an inch of clear all the way around it)  Having a piece of transparency about the same size as the soap bottle makes it easier to fit it into the bottle.  If you cut too close to the image, it tends to shift around too much inside the bottle.  

Next, just remove the pump, roll the transparency so it fits in the opening and push it in.  I then used a wooden skewer to help unroll the transparency and position it in place.

Put the pump back in and that's it!

The kids love their fun little "souvenirs" of their muddy day and it's a practical use for the photos.

Kid in a Bottle of liquid hand soap ~ how fun!

I definitely plan on doing this same project again with "prettier" pictures, but we thought it was fun to tie together our super muddy images with the cleaning soap!

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