July 26, 2016

Create a Study & Reading Space for School-Aged Boys

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group®, Kellogg’s and The J.M. Smucker Company but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #SamsClubBTS

I love to read and I try to do so whenever I get a spare moment, which isn't often. But, I try to make time to pick up a book and get carried away with it. As long as I can remember, I have always loved to read, all types of genres and themes, I wasn't picky. When my oldest was born, I wanted to start him out with a passion for reading. I would read a book to him every single night and it became a much loved part of our daily routine. When my youngest one came along, I kept it going and would make sure they had a great library of books to choose from. Now that they are getting a bit older, 9 and 7, reading has become a part of our every days lives.

To keep them reading during the summer, I signed them both up for the summer reading program at our local library. They love being able to pick out their favorite books and win great prizes for doing so. Plus, it helps getting back into our back to school routine much easier. Now that they are getting a bit older they are starting to read more to themselves then out loud with me. But, it can be hard to find a quite spot to sit down and curl up with a blanket and a good book. So, I decided to remodel their playroom into a Study and Reading space that will be perfect for doing homework, working on crafts or projects, plus a place to relax and read a book.

We moved into our home about 4 years ago and have been working on the boys playroom ever since. Last summer I "updated" their babyish playroom to a more "grown up" play room. Little did I know that they would quickly outgrow the space before I could really finish it up. But, it was perfect for them at the time. They had a "play" area, a book area, and a desk to work on crafts and their masterpieces. Our play room is shaped a little oddly with basically two open rooms or areas connected to form one really large playroom. It gave them lots of space and gave me lots of places to decorate. 

We decided to pull all of our carpet up in the house and lay brand new hardwood floors throughout. So, we moved all the furniture out and decided it was the best time to give them a space that fits their now 9 and 7 year old selves. I wanted a space they could sit in and do their homework, write reports for school, create projects, and much more. Their old space was cute and fun and was a play room. I wanted to create a study and reading space that could grow with them. It was simple and easy to create and used a lot of items we already had or found on clearance and marked down. I did not have a big budget to create their room and knew I had to get creative to make it great.

For the study area I added two small tables for desks and attached wheels to the two drawer cabinet and that I filled with paper, pencils, stickers, etc. Stuff to help them create. I saved all their art work from school, I have piles of it for both of them. I went through and pulled out the best ones plus the really special ones they created from art classes as well as masterpieces from summer art camps. I hung those on the wall for decorations. Some, I just hung directly onto the wall and some I framed. I added in a few store bought pieces as well as two signs I created by re-purposing old cabinet doors and their old video game guitars were hung off to the side as decorations.

For the reading area I moved the couch across the room to the corner nook. I placed a small shelf with a few books directly behind and added a few throw pillows to make it more comfy while reading. 

Since both their names begin with B, I wanted to create a wall full of letter B's. I started this last summer and I think I finally have it finished up. Plus, I added a few more drawings and artwork to finish it off. 

Who doesn't want a buddy to cuddle with while reading a book? They love their book buddy cart. It's full of snuggly puppies and kittens that they can read to or read with. 

Of course a reading space would not be complete without books! Lots of books!!! I love this rolling book cart. It holds a ton of books and can be moved around when needed. It's perfect for their space and each boy has their own shelf full of their favorite choices. 

I found a globe at a yard sale, cleaned it up and fits perfectly on their desk. Dog books ends were spray painted to match the room. They were a steal in the clearance bin at the craft store. Matching desk lamps were added for their late night study sessions. 

Of course they needed craft supplies! After all, they now have the perfect place to create their next work of art! 

To keep things fun and not all work, work, work, I moved our board games to the shelves. They need a break after all and have fun.

They are so happy they have a new space that fits them and is perfect to get them through the school year. It's now a space that can grow with them, hopefully longer then a year. Plus, any way to get them reading and having fun is perfect! I know they are ready to start school and hopefully their new space will help keep them going all year long.

Do your kids love reading as much as mine do? Get two free Scholastic books– one for yourself and one to donate to a local school – when you buy any participating Kellogg’s® or J.M. Smucker product at Sam’s Club®. Products must be purchased now thru 9/30/16, while supplies last! Over 80 full-length Scholastic titles to choose from for beginning readers to teens!

Redeem your free books in 3 easy steps! 1. Buy any participating Kellogg’s or The J.M. Smucker Company product by 9/30/2016 2. Upload your receipt at within 30 days of purchase. 3. Redeem for your free Scholastic book and one book will be donated to a local classroom as well! Perfect way to stock up your home library and help your school! Plus, I love that I can head to Sam’s Club® and stock up on all our favorite back to school treats.

How do you get your kids ready to head back to school?

July 25, 2016

DIY Doggie Toy Box

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

I love animals and love that my both my boys love animals too. Especially my youngest son. He is completely obsessed with puppies. Well, all dogs in general, but mostly puppies. When I say obsessed, I mean OBSESSED. Everything he does revolves around his love and passion for pups. I cannot begin to share how deep his love for them is and I absolutely love his dedication and love for animals. 

He takes such good care of our own dogs, which include 3 rescue pups. Rusty, a 14 year old chow/red heeler mix we rescued from the animal shelter is our oldest and has been in our family for about 12 years now. Baylee, our youngest at 1 year old, is a beagle/australian shepherd mix we rescued at the age of 2 months old because her owners abandoned her. Our newest addition, Ruby, is a 2 year old basset hound that came to us only less then 2 weeks ago. Her family was moving and couldn't take her with them, so we took her in and now she is a part of our family. 

But, like most puppies, Baylee and Ruby love to play and have lots of toys. They seem to take over the living room and multiply by the end of the day. They are so messy and all over the place and I was in need of some sort of organization for them. I knew I needed something durable since they would probably consider the container a new toy as well. I found this pre-made wooden crate at the craft supply store and knew it would be perfect. I grabbed a few more items and got to work creating this DIY Doggie Toy Box.

Materials Needed:
  • Pre-made wood crate
  • Wood stain or paint
  • Cloths to stain
  • Rubber gloves
  • Sticky felt circles (kind you put on furniture to protect the floors)
  • Stickers or decals to spell out Doggie Toys or your choice of lettering

How to Make:

1. Place newspapers or other protective material down to protect your surface and crate.

2. While wearing rubber gloves stain the wood crate on all sides, between the slates, bottom, and inside.

3. Let dry for a few hours.

4. After first coat has set, apply stickers or decals to the side with your choice of letters. I used Doggie Toys, Blake's choice.

5. Apply another coat, or two, to entire crate and let dry for a few more hours.
6. Peel decal lettering off to reveal perfect vintage lettering.

7. Once completely dry, attach the sticky felt circles to the bottom to protect your floors.

8. Fill with toys!!!

The toy box is perfect to hold all our dog toys and is a great size for them to be able to pick out what they want to play with. The vintage look fits perfect in our living room and doesn't stand out. It matches and makes a great addition to our decor. Now, there is not a giant pile of dog toys strewn about.

As a mom, I do my best to make sure my family is eating as healthy as possible and doing the same for my dogs is no exception. So when they hit the dog bowl after playtime, I can feel good knowing that Purina® Dog Chow® Natural is 100% complete and balanced without artificial colors, flavors or preservatives and features natural ingredients my dogs love. 

Before you head to Kroger to pick up Purina® Dog Chow® Natural for your dogs, check the Sunday paper for great coupons and deals. Who doesn't love a good deal!! I know I do! Be sure to look for $3 off Dog Chow coupon in the Purina July 31st insert in their local Sunday newspaper. Plus, there will be several other Purina coupons available on the Kroger coupon page. 

Want to learn more about the Purina Dog Chow line of dry dog foods? Check them out HERE.

In our home our pets are the stars and they deserve the very best. With Purina® Dog Chow® Natural and Kroger, it's easy to give them the star treatment while saving time and money and as a mom, those are both very important. 

July 18, 2016

DIY Wood Basketball Goal

My little guy loves basketball and I love that he is so passionate about it. He started playing on a team when he was 5 and hasn't stopped since. It's only been 2 years, but he loves it. He has participated in basketball camps, skills training, and plays all the time at home just to improve his knowledge and abilities. I hope he sticks with it! I love watching him play.

We started re-doing his room a few years ago and his walls have been bare ever since. I just cannot decided what I want to do to decorate it. Searching through Pinterest one day and came across a vintage basketball hoop someone used for decoration and knew I had to make one for him as well. I couldn't find any directions on how it was made, so I just ran to the hardware store and hoped for the best. He loves how it came out and looks great in his room. 

Materials Needed:
  • 2 - 8ft 1x4 wood planks
  • Wood stain, your choice of color
  • Wood screws no longer then 1 and 1/2 in
  • Rubber gloves
  • White craft paint
  • Stain brush
  • Craft paint brush
  • Painters tape
  • Metal Basketball Goal
  • Sandpaper
  • Hanging hardware

How to Make:

1. Cut the 8ft planks into SIX 2 foot length planks, TWO 18 in planks and ONE 12 in plank.
2. Sand the edges of each plank.
3. Using the stain, stain each plank, back and front, and let dry.

4. Align the 2ft planks on top of each other side by side. Place the 18in and 12in planks in an H or an I on the back side.
5. Using the screws, screw the pieces into each other. (Note, I originally went through the front but I did not like the screw heads showing, so I removed them and went through the back.)

6. Once complete, attach the metal basketball hoop. I placed it on the second from the bottom plank. (I purchased an already assembled basketball hoop at the store and removed the hoop from the backboard.)

7. Measure out and place the painters tape to create a square on the backboard.
8. Using craft paint, paint the square and let dry. I only did one coat to give it a more rustic feel.

9. Once dry, remove tape.
10. Using the hanging hardware, attach to the wall. I used sawtooth hangers and it did not hold. Metal Loop hooks that screw into the back works great for us!
11. Optional: I added small foam strips to the bottom edges of the wood brackets on the back to reduce damage to the wall.

I am so happy how it turned out and so is my little guy. Not only does it make a great wall decoration for his room, but he loves to throw the ball around and play.

July 15, 2016

Back-to-School DIY Lunch Box Notes & Jokes

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

Can you believe it's already time to start planning for back-to-school? This summer has been amazing and filled with so many memories that I hope my boys will remember for years to come. But, now, I must start planning for our daily morning and afternoon routines. That means back to "normal" bedtimes, packing lunches, getting school uniforms picked out, and shopping for school supplies. Plus, I can't forget getting their study spaces ready for when homework and projects are sent home. The best way I can get organized and stay organized, hopefully, throughout the year is with help from Ziploc® brand products.

Every year since my oldest son started kindergarten, (he's now going into the 4th grade), I have packed his lunch for school along with his younger brother’s. It's somewhat a daunting task, but they love when I make their lunch. Thankfully, only now and then, do I forget and scramble in the morning to get something pulled together.

Each day, or night before, when I pack their lunches, I make sure they have a little surprise inside so they know that I will always be there for them, even though they are at school. I started packing little lunch notes each day with cute little sayings and phrases. It was a hit!!! Well, until I forgot one day, and I never heard the end of it.

However, the sweet notes and cards would return home at the end of the day either ripped or torn, covered in spilled milk, juice, food, was used as a napkin, passed around the table, and who knows what else it was put through during lunchtime. So, not wanting to forget their little love notes, I grabbed a permanent marker and wrote my notes directly onto the Ziploc® brand Sandwich and Snack Bags. That way they were able to have their notes and jokes, and enjoy a different one each day that was handwritten by mommy with nothing but love.

Create your own DIY Lunch Box Notes & Jokes:
  • Ziploc® brand Sandwich and Snack Bags
  • Permanent Markers
  • Stickers
  • Embellishments
How to Make:
1. Using your markers, leave encouraging notes and jokes on the bags that you know they will love.
2. Add stickers or anything else you think they would love.
3. Add your lunch and pack in lunch box.
4. Wait until they arrive home and let them share their excitement of their little lunch box surprise.

For my little guy, who is entering second grade and not so little anymore, I wrote simple sentences that I know he would be able to read on his own like "I Love You" and "You are my world" plus I added his favorite stickers.

I love that Ziploc® brand Sandwich Bags and Snack Bags have Easy Open Tabs® making them easy to grip and easy for my 7 year old to open. For my oldest, I added longer phrases and even jokes (the answers are on the back of the bag).

For some days, lunch calls for Ziploc® brand Containers. I always worry if they are able to open what I pack for them. They are both pretty shy and they don't usually like to ask for help. The Ziploc® brand Containers with One Press Seal are designed to snap closed with one simple press on the lid, which makes it easy for them to keep their lunches secure for the rest of the day. Since I simply cannot forget to include a note or message on any day, I use a DRY-ERASE marker to include a heart or phrase to the sides of the containers. They wipe off easily so I can write a new message the next day.

Not only are Ziploc® brand Sandwich Bags and Snack Bags perfect for lunches, they make a great way to organize our school supplies at home. Typically our school supplies are a big pile of mess, all thrown together in the bin, broken crayons everywhere, and markers stored with scissors and glue. They fight over who uses the blue crayon even though we have several blue crayons but they can only find 1, and they both want it.

I eventually had to go through all our supplies and pull out the broken crayons, gathered the good crayons, checked for markers without lids, made sure the markers with lids still worked, and organized them into different sets for each of my boys to use. No more fighting. YAY! Well, no more fighting about crayons anyway.

Ziploc® brand Containers hold our broken crayons perfectly. Why do we have broken crayons you may be wondering? They are perfect for when we need another "extra" color or even to use to make new crayons in our crayon maker, as well creating fun craft projects.

Single sets of crayons fit perfectly into the Ziploc® brand Snack Bags, and the Ziploc® brand Sandwich Bags had just enough room for a full pack of markers. Now, when the boys start their homework or project, they can just grab a pack and start creating.

Want more ideas on how you can use Ziploc® brand Sandwich Bags, Snack Bags and Containers to help you get ready for back-to-school? Head to your neighborhood Kroger to pick up your own Ziploc® brand products and visit them on their Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube for more great information and ideas.

How do you get organized for back-to-school?

For more Ziploc® back to school inspiration, please check out their social hub for fun ways to use their products.
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