This weekend Mayes received a thoughtful, handmade and adorable gift from a sweet friend.  The good thing for you is that this sweet friend of mine has an Etsy shop called The Samster Wheel!  She makes amazing things...check it out.

I think we'll call him Hoot.
As a mother, are you allowed to name your child's stuff animals?
Somebody should stop me if not.

Thanks Mel for the fun surprise!



The long awaited hutch.  Finally, I am posting about this DIY project.  I'm sure you've hardly been able to sleep at night waiting for the details on this $35 gem.

So here it is.  I found the hutch at a thrift store and I bought two cans of paint and a can of primer.

Project Cost:
Thrifted hutch $35
Primer $5
White gloss $8
Gray oil based $8

TOTAL:  $56

With Primer.

In progress


 Original hardware and awesome legs.

 I'm still working on what to put inside of it. 

Ta da!  What do you think?


Sharpie Mugs.

Well, well, well...another post about sharpie mugs.  It's totally the cool thing to do these days.  If you haven't done it, you should totally try it.  It works, it's fun and it's cheap!

If you don't know, I am a camp director.  This means that I hire about 25 college students to work for me each summer to run camp for elementary school kids all throughout Chicago.  Pretty fun, huh?  My team of college students had a lot of random things they would say, one being "FTK".  This means for the kids.  Anytime they would do anything that was crazy, flat out gross or something that they didn't want to do, they would say FTK.  I made up another meaning to challenge my staff, FTK, for the Kingdom.  We did a study this summer on the Kingdom of God and how it's present today and we can participate in it NOW.  How are you living for the Kingdom?

In December, everyone from my team got together for a Christmas party.  I thought it would be fun to have a little gift for each of them so I made them sharpie mugs to remind them of all the great things they learned and did this past summer.

Here's how to make one:
1.  Buy a ceramic mug.  I got mine at Ikea for $0.99!
2.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
3.  Draw or use a stencil with a sharpie on the mug.  I used a small plastic stencil that I bought at JoAnns.
4.  Put your mug on a baking pan and stick it in the oven for 35 minutes.
5.  Drink.  Enjoy.  Hand wash.

They loved the mugs (I think) and it was overall a great party and time of fellowship together.

The outcome.

All ready to give.  Girls get one with a ribbon, boys get a plain one.

Some of the crazy bunch

Me and Chelsey (My assistant director)
Also, please note that I made that necklace. I know, you're hoping I'll do a tutorial on that next.  For the party everyone was supposed to dress up in an outfit that represented a Christmas carol.  I was Deck the Halls.  There are cards and Halls cough drops on my necklace if you can't tell.  



When I was planning Mayes' room there were a few things I was hoping to get that didn't quite make it to my house yet  - meaning they are too expensive and not all that practical.  They're pretty cool though so I wanted to share them with you.

 Navy Bin $36
 Baby Blanket $42

 Plush Monster  $46

Aren't they cool?


Mayes' Room

Here are some pictures of Mayes' room in it's current state.  I was trying to wait to post pictures until it's complete and to my liking but so many people have asked me to post pictures that I thought I shouldn't wait.  At the rate I decorate it could be months before it's "complete" in my mind.  The lighting in the room is terrible so I apologize the pictures aren't the greatest.

Here are some of my favorite things about the room:

The wool blanket:  We bought this when we were in Ethiopia because it matches the blankets that the kids use in the World Orphans home in Woliso, Ethiopia that we so dearly love.  It's a great reminder to pray for all the other kids around the world that need love and a family.  You can read about our recent visit here.

The small baseball figurines:  Before we left to get Fraz from Ethiopia we stopped at Dave's parents to celebrate Christmas.  It was a fun surprise when Dave's mom showed me all of Dave's old toys that she had saved.  There are a ton of awesome ones that I'm still working into the room but the baseball figurines  Jack Morris and Lou Whitaker made the cut so far along with Isaiah Thomas who was my favorite growing up as well.

The map:  When we were in Ethiopia I asked our driver Solomon is there was a place we could buy a map of Ethiopia. The next time he came to pick us up he has this for me.  Isn't it cool?  We are planning to put pins in all the locations that Mayes' has lived.

The hanging lights: I just think they're cool.  I covered part of the cords with different colored yarn.  I found the lamp shades at a thrift store and cut off the fabric.  Simple.

The thing I don't like about the room is the chaise lounger.  When we rearranged the house to make room for Mayes we didn't have any place to put it so it ended up in his room.  We were planning to sell it but decided we should since we will probably be moving in the next year and might want it in the next place.

Crib - Hudson Babyletto Crib
Chaise - (Old and from Ikea)
Sheet - Navy Sheet from Target
"No Monsters Allowed" Sign - I made it.
Hanging Pendant lights - Ikea + some love and creativity
Rug - Rugs USA
Wool Blanket - From Ethiopia
Map - From Ethiopia
Toy Cart - Thrifted and loved (post here).
Mobile - I made it. (post here)
Yellow bins - Dollar General and I added chalk board labels to them.
"Never Grow Up" sign - I made it.
Mayes Fraol Banner - I made it using stencil letters from Staples and hung them on some white ribbon.
Polka dot washi tape - Less Ordinary Designs



I didn't really think I wanted a mobile for Fraz's room because I'm super weird and didn't want it to feel like a baby's room (who am I, seriously).  Mobile screams baby though there are some super cute ones out there these days.  But due to some unplanned circumstances, like deciding to keep a LARGE chaise lounger and after already hanging my main wall decor, I needed something to balance the room.  A mobile was the obvious answer.  And guess what...I kind of like it.  It only took about 1 hour to make and it cost about $10.  I like when things are cheap because then when I change my mind (which usually happens) I don't feel as bad to change it.

Here's how I did it.    

  I bought three different size embroidery hoops (4inch being the smallest).

 I cut the fishing line to equal lengths and used a hot glue gun to adhere the fishing line to the loops.  I used three strings between each loop.

Finished product.

They have lots of different color loops or the natural wood which would be really cool too. It would be easy to add felt shapes or cute ornaments (that aren't Christmas themed) hanging from the bottom loop if you wanted it to look more like a true mobile.  Get creative with it!  


Christmas Sign.

This past Thanksgiving my mom thought it would be fun for the girls to do a Pinterest craft together.  Usually we spend a lot of our weekend shopping for Christmas deals but since my sister had a two week old baby we knew it would be tough to make that happen.

My mom brought all the supplies which was amazing.  She bought each of us 6 pieces of wood of two different widths.  She brought left over paint samples from when they were repainting their house, stencils and brushes.

I mixed the gray paint in a plastic cup with some water and gently brushed it on the wood to make it look worn.  I decided what I wanted my sign to say and started to lay out the stencils on my boards.  I stenciled it before enforced the wood together using white acrylic paint and a stencil brush.  After I completed the stenciling and the wood was dry I used two small boards down the back of the sign and nailed them to each board to hold them all together.

I think the total cost of the project was around $15.  Not bad, huh? 



Last month we traveled to Ethiopia to meet our son.  Most airline routes to Ethiopia travel through Europe so we thought it would be fun to make a pit stop on our way home.  We used frequent flyer miles for the trip, so Amsterdam was the best option for our mini vacay.  Neither Dave or I have been there for longer than a few hours and we thought it would give us something to look forward to after leaving our child in a different country. 

We didn’t have too many things planned for the mini vacay.  We mainly just wanted to spend time together and experience the city.  Here are some of my favorite pictures and experiences from our trip.

 This is where we stayed (the red one).  It was SO cool.  

Two for Joy was one of the cutest coffee shops I've been in. I loved the decor.  

 Here's one seating area in the coffee shop.  I love the couch that's against the brick wall.

 Yep, a fast food vending machine.  Why not, right?

 Exploring the city on our rented bikes.  It's the only way to see Amsterdam.

Amazing brick everywhere. 

A little fry shack.  I think I should open one in Chicago. 

 One of the coolest rugs I've ever seen.  It was in one of the museums.  

 Beautiful Amsterdam.


Vintage Shelf.

Tonight I completed a quick project for the mini's room. It's a little shelf that I'm planning to put bins on to store Fraz's toys. I got it a while back from a thrift store for $.90 and it was in need of a major makeover.

Now I just need some bins.  I was thinking some vintage metal or wood crates.  What do you think?