Jul 24, 2014

Shoe Holder Storage Solutions

A few weeks ago my girls headed off to their first Girls Camp.  Girls Camp, in my faith, is a camp that is held once a year and is just for the 12-18 year old girls in our congregation.  It really is a lot of fun for the girls.  They go on hikes, have devotionals, play in the sun, giggle and stay up way to late in their tents, serve each other, and just over all have a great time.

One of the traditions at Girl's Camp is to do Secret Sisters gifts.  This means they are assigned another girls name and they do little things for that girl, without the girl knowing who it is - that's the secret part, for the whole time they are at camp.  It can be something simple like leaving a bottle of nail polish with a note, or getting them their favorite candy treat.  It's fun.  My girls were really excited to shop for their secret sisters.  

(my little happy campers!)

Normally before camp all the girls get together and decorate paint cans that are used as mailboxes for secret sister gifts but this year the camp leaders decided to skip the cans.  I'm not sure of the reasons but I can guess.  They take up a lot of room and it can be an issue trying to make sure every girl has one.  As a mom, I was cool with them skipping the cans.  It just one more thing I have to store at home afterwards and so not having to worry about that is awesome.  However, not having a delivery box for their treats was a bit of concern for some of the girls.  Any time you break with tradition, it causes alarm, doesn't it?  Even if it's a simple thing.  

At church one day during young women's the discussion came up and I felt so bad for the leader.  The girls were hitting her with one question after another, machine gun style.  How do we deliver them?  Won't they know it's me?  What if they see me leave it on their pillow? No paint cans? Do we just walk up and hand it to them?  I get it, those kinds of things left unknown can cause all sorts of anxiety in someone who is a planner.  Especially for a 12 year who has never been to camp before and has to make a delivery to an older, cooler girl.  It can be intimidating.  I totally understood their questions and anxiety.  I also knew the leader didn't need one-more thing to worry about before they left for camp.  

Because of this I reached out and offered to help.  I had seen on Pinterest where someone used a hanging shoe holder for Secret Sisters stuff at their camp.  I thought it was a great idea and so I offered to donate one to the cause.  It wasn't the traditional paint cans but it certainly folded up and stored a lot easier.  And, they could hang it on a door or from a tree.  Plus, I was hoping it would help settle some little camper's nerves.  I know it helped my daughters.

So, have you seen these organizers and have you ever thought to use them for something other than shoes?

Here's the one I made.

The holder itself was $5 at Walmart.  Then I made tags and laminated them with all the camper names and just tied them on with ribbon.  Super easy and pretty fun to make.

And, score for me, now that camp is over I can re-use it.  I'm just having issues deciding what to put in it.

Hair and Make-up stuff?
Yarn? Fabric?
Cleaning supplies?
Art stuff?
Socks? Underwear? (too personal - ya!)
Treats? Pantry items?

So many options but I'm sure I'll figure it out!

Jul 19, 2014

Cookie Club

I know they say you should leave the past in the past but I must admit I've been having a great time walking down memory lane lately.  I've taken on the big task of clearing out, cleaning up and organizing all my digital photos.  Now, that might not be a big deal but when you have two photographers and you've been shooting digital for the last 9 years, well, it adds up to a pretty big task.

The benefit of it all is how quickly a photo can bring back a memory.  Like these cookies.  Yummm!  Years ago my family started a little monthly service activity.  We called it "cookie club".  I'm sure I've mentioned it somewhere, at some point, on this blog but since I stumbled on these photos I thought it was worth mentioning again as it was a highlight for my family and a really positive service activity.

So what is Cookie Club?  We'll in January we'd select a few families or people and give them an automatic enrollment.  Then each month for a  year we'd deliver them a plate of cookies.  Our first year was my favorite.  We adopted some grandmas and I can not even tell you how much we grew to love those women.  And, those women grew to love our girls. It's was awesome.  

It blessed our family in two great ways
1- We would make the cookies together.  This meant time together - no screens, no tv's, no computers.  Just time in the kitchen working together, laughing together, spilling flour together. And then of course, we'd deliver them together too.  (I'd like to say it was all happiness but I will admit the girls would fight over who got to hold the cookies in the car and who got to take them to the door - but that's ok)

2- It taught my girls how great it feels to serve others.  Even if it's just a plate of cookie, it's service.  The smile and the hug and the relationships built are priceless.  I feel like we live in a society that if you do something nice for someone, they sometimes question what you want from them in return.  I don't like that mindset.  It's nice to be nice just for the sake of being nice!  I want my girls to learn that.

After finding these photos and our little poem that we'd give to our club members, I think it's time for our family to do Cookie Club again.  I know it's mid-way through the year and it's easier to start in January but maybe we will start with the school year.  Want to do your own cookie club?  

 Here's the poem I wrote to introduce it to our families and you can use it too if you'd like.  Of course, you may have to tweak the wording if you start now.

"Your family has been selected, chosen from just a few 
to participate in a tradition, it's a family thing we do!"

"It's called 'The Cookie Club', it's yummy and it's fun
We simply bring you a new treat each month until the year is done."

"We've automatically enrolled you so without further delay.
Enjoy January's treat, your membership starts today!"

And, do want my recipe for these yummy cookies?  These are probably the most un-healthy cookies you could ever eat but I promise they are yummy!  So yummy!

Peanut Butter Temptations!

1/2 Cup Soft butter
1/2 Cup Peanut butter
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Egg
1 tsp. Vanilla
1-1/4 C. Flour (a little more if you live in high altitude)
3/4 tsp Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 pkg Reese's Peanut butter cups

Cream together butter, peanut butter, sugars, egg & vanilla.  Then add in flour, soda and salt.  Roll dough into small balls, about 1", and place in mini muffin tins.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  When cookies are done, press peanut butter cups in center and let cool.  


Jul 16, 2014

DIY Picture Holder & Room Re-do

Miss M has been away but now she is back.

While she was away she turned 17 and since we weren't with her to celebrate her birthday we decided to give her bedroom a little make-over as a birthday surprise.  She's been wanting a more "grown-up" room for awhile now and keeps mentioning how she'd like a room that she can take with her to college.  (FYI:  As her mother, I think the word "college" is a swear word.  Every time she mentions it my body cringes as I am reminded that I have one year left before "college" gets my girl)

As part of our make-over we cleared out the old, painted the walls, added a ceiling light, made new curtains, bought new bedding, swapped out a desk for a bookshelf and constructed a few little projects based off of ideas she pinned on Pinterest.

One of those projects was a framed wire picture holder.  She had a bunch of different versions of these posted on her boards so I knew she liked them.   I showed the idea to Mr. K and he used his smarts to create one for her.  Of course we documented the process so you can make one too should you have the desire.

Here's what you need to get started:

Supplies Needed
4- 36" square wooden pieces (bought at Lowe's)
10 - screw eye
Galvanized wire
Corner braces
Measuring tape
Pencil or pen

Step 1:  Lay out your wood pieces so they make a square.   We took some 4x6's and laid them in the square so that we could get a visual on how the spacing needed to be placed.

Step 2:  Then Mr. K did some math and drew a sketch.  You can click on the photo to see the math larger.  

Step 3:  Next he took two of the wooden pieces and marked, based off of the sketch, where he needed to place each screw eye. (They were kind of hard to see in the photo so I put arrows on the photo so you could see them better)

Quick Tip:  Before he drilled the holes for the screws, he wrapped a piece of tape around the drill bit.  This gave him a visual on how far he needed to drill into the wood and also made it so each hole would be drilled consistently at the same depth.

Step 4:  Then he drilled on all the spots he marked. 

Step 5:  and added in the screw eyes

Step 6:  Next he put two pieces together to create the corner and marked where the holes would need to go to set the braces in place.

Step 7:   And then he drilled on those spots

Step 8:  And finally he set the screws.  After the first corner was in place, he repeated this process with the other three corners until his frame was all hooked together.

Step 9:  And finally, he threaded the wire through each screw eye and strung them across the frame.  We left it unpainted until Miss M got home and then we let her choose the paint color.  She chose a dark teal.

Step 10:  Add bumpers to the back corners so that it doesn't mess up your wall and then add all your fabulous photos.  

We are still working on the photo part as Miss M wants to get a bunch of photos printed from her trip to hang up. And that is that.  Done!  

Here's a few other photos of the room.

Her room before was painted a robin's egg blue, you can't really tell from the before photo but it is.  It was a fun color but since it's a basement room it just doesn't get much light so it always felt dark.  Plus, there was no overhead light in the room so we had to light it by lamp, which just didn't work well.  Her other colors were green and black.

Now her room is so much lighter.  We wired in an overhead light and painted the walls a warm antique lace color. Normally I'd say that was a boring color but I love it.  The warmth it brings to room is very welcoming.  And, it's a good neutral color for the orange and turquoise in the bedding, curtains, book shelf, etc...

I also made her a framed jewelry holder.  All in all, I'm happy with the change and she is too!


Jul 2, 2014

Another DIY Easy-Peasy Gift Bag

I've been traveling a little lately which explains my absence.  We took Miss M to the airport in Salt Lake City (yes, we drove her 7 hours to SLC instead of 1 to Denver so she could fly with other girls going on the same trip - it was worth it.  I didn't want her flying alone.)  After we dropped her off Mr. K, Bug, Jet and myself hit the road and took a vacation.

We haven't had a vacation is several years.  Well, we have but not like this one.  When you live away from family, your vacations usually consist of going to visit them.  Without my Dad around though, it's different now.  Utah seems so foreign and even though Kent's family is there and my siblings are there, it's just not the same for me and I really wasn't ready yet to be there long term.

So, instead, we were given the opportunity to go to Yellowstone and we took it.  It was fantastic.  We camped and explored - nature is amazing.... Oh, wait, this post isn't supposed to be about my trip.  It is about a super easy little gift bag though.

I found these cute little bags in the Target Dollar Spot a few weeks ago.  I bought them as car bags for our trip but didn't end up using them for that.  Instead, I turned them into gift bags. I'm a fan of a good gift bag and I find that the cheap paper, printed versions that tear quickly and get thrown out, just aren't what I'm looking for.  Because of that I'm always on the look out for other options.

Here's the deal on this bag.  It's easy.  Like it took me more time to find my brads than it did to make the project.  Here's what you need to personalize and decorate your own woven bag.

1 - Go to Target and buy a bag.  It's $3 for one but they may be clearancing them out and then you can thank me because they will be even cheaper!

2 - Go to the Dollar Store and buy cheap flowers - they are only a $1 for a bunch

3 - Find some brads in your paper crafting stash from when you used to scrapbook - I have lots!

4 - Pull the flowers off the stems and remove the middles and then push the brad through the center of the flower. (the first time I kept some of the yellow centers but actually didn't like it once they were on the bag so I took them off)

5 - Push flower, with the brad in the center, through the bag and fold over the arms of the brad to secure in place.

6 - Add your gift and that's all!  Done!  It's cute, budget-friendly, re-usable and it could even be used as a purse or summer tote.  Kinda reminds me of the little baskets you can find on the front of a cruiser bike but I guarantee this version is way more economical!

You can also do the same thing on other bags too.  Just make sure they have a loose weave so the brad can go through the material easy.   I bought the little pink clutch above at Hobby Lobby for $1.99.  It's the perfect size for my girls.  They can carry their cell phones and a little cash.

And, don't limit yourself to just large flowers - think about using small ones too.  I actually love this one best, the border that the flowers created are really cute, simple and dainty.

Anyway, enjoy!

Jun 15, 2014

Father's Day - My Dad's Hands!

I wasn't going to do it. 

I wasn't going to think about him today.

I just figured if I did my best to smile and laugh and think about positive things that today wouldn't hurt so much. I thought if I just didn't think about him,  I could make it through it.  

I lied to myself.

I stumbled on a photo of my dad this morning and realized I can't ignore it.  He may not be with me in flesh and body but he is in my heart and his love and influence is still blessing me everyday.  So, as a tribute to him, here are the words I shared at his funeral just 10 months ago. 

August 2013 - Funeral Talk by Amy Williams
This past week as condolences started to come in, it was no surprise that the word I heard most to describe my dad was “Kind”.  Many people remember him as being a “kind” man.  And he was.   As I thought about what I wanted to share today, I wanted to express how that kindness affected me and how I remember his kindness coming out in the things he did and how he used his hands.

The first deep-rooted, bonding experience that I remember having with my dad was when I was 9 years old.  It was a time of a lot of sorrow and worry as my mom had just died and I can only image that my Dad must have had the weight of the world on his shoulders as he worried about caring for his family, maintaining a job, and being a single parent.  Not to mention, the heartache of losing his companion was great.  One day, upon returning home from somewhere my dad asked us kids to go on ahead of him into the house, he just wanted to sit in the car for a bit.  We all got out of the car and I was just about to go into the house when I felt like I wanted to stay with him instead.  I went back to the car and asked him, if I was really, really quiet, and if I held still, if I could just sit in the car with him.  I have daughters that are not much older than the age I was at the time so I know how difficult it is for a 9 year old to sit still and be quiet and I’m sure my dad really didn’t want me to stay, but he said “yes” anyway and for about 30 minutes, we sat without speaking in our car and he held my hand the whole time.  My dad reaching for my hand and holding it told me that it was ok for me to be there.  Without saying words, he used his hands to tell me I was loved.

From that point on, my dad’s hands became a symbol of love.  Here are a few other memories I have of him using his hands for my benefit.

When I was 12, and just getting settled into our new life in Taylor, my dad knew I was worried about making friends and one day, despite being told to do my chores, over and over, when the call came from a girl in the ward to go somewhere with her, my dad told me to go and told me he would do my chores for me.  This was significant to me because I remember him already having a lot of stuff to do of his own, yet he knew I needed a friend so he sacrificed his time to help me out.  That day, his hands did my work but they taught me also to be willing to carry someone else’s burden whenever I could.

I remember being 19 and about to get married, I had really wanted an outdoor reception and remember both his and Merleen's hands working for months in our yard to get it ready for my reception. With every flower planted or weed pulled, I knew it was for my benefit and I felt their love.

I remember being 24 and driving from Salt Lake to Taylor to find my dad.  I had news I was so excited to share. I remember clearly his hands shaking with joy as he looked at the black and white ultrasound photo.  He was happy for Kent and I as we were starting a family of our own.  His shaking hands taught me to share in other people's joy.

I remember being 27 and watching my dad’s hands work again for my benefit, this time though, there was sadness in those hands as he helped me pack up a moving truck so I could make a long distant move.  It was a move that he didn’t want me to make and I know it was really hard for him to understand why we had to move so far away but he still supported us - his working hands that day seemed heavier but he still supported me and my decisions and taught me about unconditional love.

I remember being 29 and far away from home.  Him and Merleen where about to leave on a mission and I was about to give birth to my twins.  It was so hard to be so far away from him and to know that because of the distance and the timing, that I probably wouldn’t see him, nor would he meet my daughters, for two years.  I was really sad about that but the night before I was scheduled to go in to give birth we had a late night visitor show up on our door step in Maine.  I remember opening the door at 11 o'clock at night and seeing his hands holding a bouquet of flowers for me.  I didn’t know he was coming but I knew right then, that because he was there and the love that was in his hands as he wrapped them around my shoulders, that everything was going to be ok. He hands taught me about comforting others.   

Just a few days after my daughters were born, there was a concern that one of them was deaf.  I remember so clearly the peace I felt as he and my husband laid their hands on her head and gave her a priesthood blessing.  I’ve often wondered how many heads have had the honor of having my dad’s hands placed on them.  He used his hands many times to give blessings of comfort and healing to so many.  He hands taught me to serve God.

His hands helped.

His hands blessed others.

His hands taught by example.

Two weeks ago, I saw kindness come from his one last time as I opened up a birthday card.  My dad always took the time to send everyone cards and once again, like so many times before, he had written a very personal message that was filled with love.  This time though, I noticed his hand writing was not as crisp, instead it was quite shaky and it look labored but his love was in those words.  His hands taught me that an encouraging word can make some one's day and let them know of their worth.

Then last week, I saw my dad’s hand do something that I have never seen before.  As he laid in the hospital bed, his hands were still.

For me, as sad as it was, there was still love there.  I was able to, much like when I was 9 and sitting in the car with him, I was able to sit by his bed, in silence, and hold his hand for one last time.

My dad’s hands were always filled with love, they were always working, they were always willing to serve.  They were a source of comfort.  And, they were always kind. 

I only hope that I can carry on his legacy and that I can use my hands to live a life as filled with kindness and love just like his was.

I love you dad!  Always!