SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks











Back when the four-legged monkey was a baby, she ate all of the cushions from our patio furniture.  She also ate socks, trash, and the swimming pool.  Although I’ve been trying to fix up the back porch and yard, the cushions haven’t been replaced.  At this point, it’s not even related to my sense of Cheaptitude.  I haven’t found anything I like. And why invest a significant amount of money in something that doesn’t make me happy happy happy?

Exploring Pinterest was helpful.  People are using all kinds of fabrics to reupholster outdoor cushions.  I saw tablecloths, shower curtains, vintage linens.  So many creative and pretty options! I have tons of cool fabric!

I don’t have any cushions left to reupholster.

So my next thought was to make cushions and stuff them.  Problem? Waterproofing. How can I make pretty cushions that I like that are waterproof?

Shower curtain liner.

When I replace a liner, I run the old one through the washing machine to be repurposed. 

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My plan is coming together.

I kind of estimated how much “material” I’d need, trimmed it down, and sewed 2.5 edges.  The sewing actually puts holes in the plastic, so I covered the seams with duct tape.  Yup, I could’ve saved a step!

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Then, I gathered my stuffing.  I had some polyfil from the craft store, the leftovers of a pillow the 4 legged monkey ate, and old bed pillows.  I didn’t need it super stuffed, just enough for an outdoor cushion.

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After stuffing, I sealed the last side.

I’ve not made the cover yet, but have it planned in my head.  It’s going to be an envelope case, easy on and off for cleaning.  I’m so excited for my outdoor living space to be more livable!

What’s your latest outdoor project?

~ Katie

Posted from WordPress for Android

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When Grizzly and I were first married, living in the “love trailer” in the metropolis of Bethany, LA, our home was decorated in hand-me-downs and NASCAR.  After moving to town, our family room still carried the theme, as did Monkey #1’s room when he graduated to toddler-hood.  Monkey had a racecar bed, autographed dirt track photos on the walls, and Grizzly even painted an IMCA Modified on one wall.

It made perfect sense, then, when the Tony Stewart car appeared at the Home Depot in Shreveport to take the lil guy.  He was fascinated and thrilled to climb in the car.  It was almost as cool as Uncle Ace’s firetrucks.

I wanted a special frame to commemorate this occasion, so I bought one of the wooden craft frames at Michael’s and got to work.

Fast forward about twelve years and that cool frame, along with his sister’s, was still in my project bucket.

I’m proud to sat I actually finished both frames this summer.

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I’ve since added a Tony Stewart car, an old Home Depot one, thanks to Papaw.

image Monkey #2’s frame doesn’t have a cute photo yet, but I have one when she was about the same age, where she’s chowing down on a frozen waffle. That may be the ticket.
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One project down!

How do you get your unfinished crafts knocked out?

~ Katie

Posted from WordPress for Android



This past spring was horribly difficult in the House of Cheaptitude. I would prefer to never have a repeat. However, everything happens for a reason, and I feel like part of what I went through brought me some amazing experiences with the monkeys that I otherwise may not have taken the time to enjoy.

Easter weekend was a real bonding event for us this year.  We worked hard, played hard, and had a lot of fun.

The monkeys have always enjoyed digging in the dirt.  My front flower bed needed some serious attention, so I Tom Sawyered them.  We went to a plant stand, where I thought we were just getting a few flats of annuals. Nope, my babies wanted knockout roses!
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I did get my annual flat of impatiens….

When we came home, the work really began. Pulling shrubs and trash from the flower bed, deciding where to move some perennials, choosing places for the new additions…
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The monkeys were such a help with cleanup!

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It was hot, grubby work!
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Monkey #1 wanted his roses by the garage, dressing up the driveway a bit.

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Monkey #2 preferred the front flower bed.

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She also “helped” with my annuals.
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Once our $27 worth of plants were in the ground, the rest of the front needed some clean up.
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My monkeys had a great time in the yard, but were even more excited to dye eggs.

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I hate to spend money if I don’t have to, so we consulted Google, and figured out how to dye eggs with food coloring and vinegar. The smell was on the atrocious side, but it was a lot of fun.

image image The colors were so vibrant!
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I was present pretty much in a supervisory capacity. The monkeys picked out the food coloring, concocted the dyes, and colored the eggs. I was there to keep them from coloring my kitchen – or each other!

Exhaustion set in kind of early that night. Monkey #2’s biggest concern as she went to bed was if Pioneer Woman came to help with the bathroom, she needed to be very careful not to run over the Easter Rabbit. The baskets on the table and eggs in the yard the next morning were proof enough.
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They were absolutely enthralled with all of the goodies!
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Used to hunting the plastic eggs, the monkeys got a kick out of searching for eggs they’d colored themselves.
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Monkey #2 wasn’t much of an eagle eye….

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It took over an hour for them to locate all of their Easter eggs. By the time they were finished, they needed a big breakfast to refuel for church.

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(I love sunrise service for Easter, but Pioneer Woman convinced me to try out St. Mark’s midmorning.)
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Grizzly and the monkeys did Easter dinner with his family, while I slowed down enough to watch the skiers from Pioneer Woman’s back patio and have dinner with her. All in all, it was a successful weekend.

What tips do you have for quality family holiday weekends without breaking the bank?

~ Katie

Posted from WordPress for Android



{August 23, 2014}   Project: Cute Wooden Catch All

Many years ago, I picked up the cutest wooden wall box on clearance at a hobby store.  Love love love.  My original intent was to hang it by the door for mail and such. Now I’m not so sure.

It’s collected dirt and dust for years, sitting in my project bucket. Recently I decided to bring it out again.

My plan now is to use it in my kitchen. I cleaned up the years of grime and pondered. I’m working more black pieces in all the time, so I sprayed it with flat black.
image image image It isn’t perfect, but I see the potential. I’m going to add fleur de lis, of course. It’s meant to hang on a wall, but I’m thinking of adding strong magnets and putting it on the fridge. I can see adding a clip for recipes, and using the storage for restaurant certificates and coupons. What do you think?

So it’s painted, but that is as much progress as I’ve made with my little project. I may change my mind and use it someplace else – oooh, oooh, my bathroom? The monkey’s bathroom??

I’m totally open to suggestions, folks. What purpose can my little project serve?

~ Katie

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{August 19, 2014}   Organizing: Greeting Cards

I like to keep cards on hand.  However, I cannot find a single one when I actually need it.

I’ve bought cutesy organizers in the past. That works for about a hot minute.

I’ve seen really cool strategies on Pinterest. But nothing I think will necessarily work for me.

And I love to repurpose.

Once upon a time, I was addicted to those photo storage boxes. When the craft stores would run specials, I’d purchase a bunch. I was pretty particular – black, with a handmade scrapbook label. VHS movies = organized.

As I’ve decluttered those dinosaur tapes, I’ve kept the boxes. Of course. Everything can be repurposed. I now have one for razors/shave preps, deodorant, etc. These boxes are great for my stockpiles. For the longest time, I had one dedicated to loose game pieces, and one to Nintendo DS and gameboy games.

I had a feeling one of these boxes might be an easy solution to my greeting card issue. One year for Christmas, my father-in-law gave me two very pretty photo boxes. I decided to create my card organizer from one of these.
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It’s very pretty, without being too horribly girly.

I had to search high and low for the dividers. I had nearly given up and decided to create some when I located them in Grandma Sweitzer’s cedar chest.

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The “index” side does nothing for me. I flipped the cards over, and created my category labels.

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These are the categories I’ve chosen so far:
Birthday
Baby
Get well
Christmas
Holidays
Just because (blank notes!!)
Thank you
Thinking of you
Wedding

I’ll probably throw anniversaries in with wedding. I have more blank cards than anything, and need desperately to stock up on birthday cards – Aunt YoYo and Ace say it’s not a birthday without a monkey card.

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It may not be as big a project as I usually take on, but it is functional. All I have left is to tape a small calendar of important dates to the lid.

And I actually use it!

How do you keep up with cards and such?

~ Katie

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{August 19, 2014}   Mini Project: Whiteboard Redo

In a valiant attempt to avoid lesson planning and paper grading, I’ve been working on projects around the house. My favorite was my bathroom. Lately I’ve been working in the utility room.

My utility room is an awkward little space between the garage and kitchen. It has a full sized dryer, a stackable washer and dryer (dryer conked out years ago but washer works!) and 2 little cabinets above the big dryer. All that is on one side. On the other are a small pantry and a utility closet turned pantry.

I’m dying to paint. My pantry shelves need work. But there’s only so much I can do.

I’ve reorganized the mess out of the pantries and laundry stuff. And, if you’ve been reading, I’ve been revamping things I’ve already had in order to decorate that room. My green scrapbook paper seems to be the unifying element, since I’ve been using it for everything.

Several years ago, I picked up a small whiteboard on clearance at Michaels with the grand design of writing my objectives on it. Ha! I can barely fit a readable “I (the learner) can….” on that board. So I brought it home and eventually hung it near the pantry. Occasionally I’ll leave notes for Grizz or the monkeys, little reminders, etc. The monkeys draw lots of silly pictures on it.

But I never dressed it up.

And everything else is getting cute.

Time for a quick project?

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I painted the frame a green that matched my standard paper. Then, I used a heart punch with black paper to add interest in the corners. Finally, I “monogrammed” it using a polka dot green scrap stack letter. I decoupaged to seal it, them hung it horizontally (it was vertical before.)

I goes well with my other utility projects and it serves a purpose.

Do you dress up your utility room?

~ Katie

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{August 17, 2014}   The Laundry Fairy

There is a laundry fairy at the House of Cheaptitude.  She’s the one who finds the Lego’s, the forgotten receipts, and the candy wrappers that are left in pockets. She often finds pennies and quarters, never enough to get rich, but loves it when she finds dollar bills and one time? She found a twenty.

The laundry fairy is so busy with her chores on Mt. Washmore that she doesn’t have time to out things away immediately. And we end up with a ridiculous pile on top of the dryer.

In the past, she had a small basket, but that got out of hand. She had a piggy bank, but it was regularly robbed by monkeys for concessions at school. There are some neat projects on Pinterest involving boards and jars, but our wall space is so limited in the utility room that they’re not practical.

Of our efficiency apartment sized stackable washer and dryer, only the washing machine works.  The dryer has become a magnetic memo board. I decided to create a “bucket” for the laundry fairy and hang it from that useless dryer.

I consulted my soup can collection to find one that wasn’t too awfully big.  The point is to put crap away before there’s much!  To punch holes for hanging, I filled it with water and froze it (Pinterest tip!). After that, it was easy to hammer a nail in the sides.

I went back to my stash of scrapbook paper I’ve been using in the utility. I traced the edges of the can, trimmed the paper, and glued it on using a rubber band to hold while drying.

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Once the glue was dry, I added a layer of decoupage.

Next, I labeled and decorated it with some cute scrapbook stickers.
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I re-punched my holes through the paper so I could run thin black ribbon through as a hanger.

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And presto! The finished product:
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It hangs from a command hook on the old dryer. It’s working really well since it’s small and gets emptied frequently!

Is there a laundry fairy at your house, too?

~ Katie

Posted from WordPress for Android



Organizers. I love them. I use them. I re-use them. And I’ve found some neat things in the years before Pinterest.

When I was a newlywed and doing shift work, Aunt YoYo and I lived in the dollar stores. Dollar General, Fred’s, Family Dollar – the cashiers knew us by name and we knew when “truck day” was. Occasionally, we might splurge and go to Wal Mart. Rugs, runners, dishes, pictures. My first house was carefully decorated in NASCAR and early dollar store.

One of those early purchases is still in my house. It’s a little wooden shelfy thing with pegs underneath. I’ve not kept anything on the cubby shelves since moving almost 7 years ago, but those 3 little pegs have been overloaded with keys.

While decluttering the utility room, I decided this little thing was not fitting my new vision. Monkey 2 gladly took it to her room and I began gathering ideas on Pinterest.

I loved the ideas I kept seeing of picture frames with cup hooks. And I always have oodles of frames. It would have to be multifunctional, and go with the rest of my “decor.”

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I found a frame whose glass was gone. Broken? Repurposed? Who knows. I cleaned it up and added cup hooks to the bottom. Hint: a drill would’ve come in really handy at this point!

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I decided this would be great as a reminder to put things in the mail, etc. so I used scrapbook paper covered in frosted contact paper to create a pocket. Grocery lists, reminders, etc. fit perfectly. I also covered clothespins and added them to the sides to hold outgoing mail. I didn’t need two, but my CDO required the symmetry.

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And since we are in the south, and I wasn’t doing a family picture or anything, I used one of my leftover vinyl letters to “monogram” it. Above you see the finished product.

No more lost keys or forgetting to out the mail out! It fits really well in the little space by the back door in my utility room. It matches my sock board, so my utility room is starting to have a color scheme. I’m really pleased with the way it looks and works so far.

How do you handle your out the door routine?

~ Katie

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{August 16, 2014}   Repurposing: Wine Cork Keychain

Over the past several months, I’ve been spending a little more money on my fermented grape juice. It started out when Jeepnmom came to visit back in May, and it’s since continued. Pricier wine includes corks. So I’ve developed quite a little collection, positive I can use them for something.

Pinterest seems to be a hoarder’s dream. There are ideas for repurposing any and everything. I didn’t have enough corks for the bulletin board or mail holder, and it would take a while before I accumulated that many, but I did find an idea that appealed to me, and I had all the stuff on hand.
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Keychains from wine corks! How cute are they? The idea is to include a little tag as a reminder of where you drank the wine.

Here is my version:
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This was while it was in process. I used hardware from a picture hanging set and plain old school glue. It was easy to work into the cork. I let it dry 24 hours and added a keyring. And now my Sarraco cork from Jeepnmom has a new life.

An added bonus to this keyring? If you drop your keys in the water, they float!

It’s a cute, quick little project that repurposed something I loved into something practical.

What have you repurposed lately?

~ Katie



{August 10, 2014}   Reclaimed Spaces: My Bathroom

Back in the fall of 2007, my little family moved from our first real home to SoBo, to rent my in-laws’ old house.  Grizzly painted Monkey #2’s bedroom and that was it. Monkey #1 liked his aunt’s mural, and Grizz was satisfied that since he was the one who’d painted everything, nothing needed to change.

A lot of things changed this spring. And with those changes, I felt the need to mark my territory. I did some work outside, revamping a plant stand, replacing the welcome mat, etc. Easter weekend, the kids put out knockout rose bushes while I ripped out ugly hedges and planted impatiens. It was a start. But I wanted more.

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My house has never completely felt like my own. Very few things have changed since we moved in, and that aggravated me. Especially my master bathroom. In an ideal world, I could tear out everything and start over. Unfortunately, in the real world, I’m just a teacher, scraping by. I didn’t have the money to re-tile anything (ugly 70’s yellow!), let alone replace the sink, etc. My dear friend, Pioneer Woman, has an amazing eye, as well as a love of research, so I recruited her to help me revamp my master bath.

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Picture this odd brownish color with yellow stuff in a teensy bathroom….

There was nothing to be done about the yellow tile. We would need to paint and play up a nice color scheme. We discussed lilac, blue, green…nothing struck my fancy. Then Pioneer Woman created a board on Pinterest dedicated to my bathroom. Grey. Grey would maybe work.

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Which meant shopping.

We went to Wal-Mart and Belk, before finding the perfect shower curtain at Kohl’s. The shower is the first thing you see….

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Perfect. And a happy color scheme.

The grout in the tile was pretty fugly, so Pioneer Woman convinced me we could color the grout and, with help from Google, recaulk.
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By no means is it perfect. Well, her CDO kicked in, so the caulk is, but the grout? Not so much. It is prettier than it was, though.

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Grizzly had a small can of paint base, and the Queen of Cheaptitude loves free. Painting was on hold while waiting for the paint to be tinted, but planning certainly wasn’t. I unloaded the cabinets and started organizing.

I like to repurpose, and always have tons of junk around. On Pinterest, I found some really great ideas on organizing bathroom cabinets with small baskets. However, I have quite the collection of shoeboxes and fabric.

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I couldn’t find my hot glue gun, so notice the staples in the fabric? I have quite the collection of lotions, I discovered. (The fabric was supposed to be my cousin Melissa’s flower girl dress for my wedding – 16 years ago!)

I also have an obsession with “hair bobs” and can never find them when I want. Remember when I containerized Monkey #2’s hair stuff?

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I used some pretty scrapbook paper, an oatmeal carton, and now can find elastics any time I need to put my hair up.

I also saw cool cabinet door organizers for brushes, flat irons, hair dryers, etc. Most of them are PVC pipes cut down. I don’t collect PVC, but guess what I do have? Enough soup cans to sink the Titanic again.
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It’s attached to the cabinet door under my sink with Command Strips, and using a spaghetti sauce can, it was the perfect size for my round brush. I used coordinating paper to cover some wooden craft frames that I happened to have on hand.

Pinterest also led me to use an open wooden cube as a toilet tissue holder. Michaels sells them in sets of 2, so I spray painted both a cheery yellow. One is hanging on the wall, while the other is by the toilet. I also had some small wooden shelves left over from Monkey #1’s nursery (I admit to hoarding tendencies) which I painted yellow and hung above the toilet.

With the bathroom being so miniscule, Pioneer Woman and I had a hard time deciding what to do about towels and such. There isn’t much wall space and I’ve chosen smaller items for decorating. On a trip to Hobby Lobby, we found some cool hooks, which I papered, added iron on monograms, and decoupaged.

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They’re so much cuter after…
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And perfect for the towels.

The paint was finally ready, and I’m not going to pretend I did a professional, or even a good job. Grizzly made fun of my dollar store tools, but you know what? I got the job done and didn’t ask for help!

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I used a lighter shade on the walls, and darker for cabinets and trim. Forgot to take those pictures!!

I repurposed some vases and jars to hold q-tips and such. On the window sill, I have a graduated set with those yellow and clear glass rocks, just as decoration. Pioneer Woman found a pretty yellow sheer at Anna’s Linens that we’ve just scarfed as a curtain.

My bathroom is finally mine. Girly, but not too girly. And the darker colored paint scheme, rather than making the room feel smaller, has really opened it up! Between Pioneer Woman, Pinterest, Google, and me, it wasn’t outrageously expensive, and I was able to work on it in my spare time. There are a few touches left, but I’m happy, and it’s organized!

What’s your latest DIY home project?

~ Katie

Posted from WordPress for Android



et cetera
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