SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks

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.


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.
One project down!

How do you get your unfinished crafts knocked out?

~ Katie

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{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 20, 2014}   Monkey Spaces: DIY Organization

The little monkey is growing up quickly!  She decided recently that she’s outgrown Tinker Bell, along with a lot of her books, toys, and decor.  Her papaw promised her a new headboard and footboard if she kept her room clean for a month. I think she’s doing a great job! She’s picking up toys, books are shelved, dirty clothes are hampered, and she’s making her bed daily!

I’m hopeful she’ll earn that frame she wants.

While cleaning and reorganizing, we moved a lot of things around, including her dresser and bed. We dismantled the desktop computer and removed the old-fashioned school desk, creating great space. She still has “room for activities” yet her space looks more tween appropriate.

One thing she showed an interest in was a set of shelves in the garage. Yo Yo’s sweet husband, the Fireman, and I built them many years ago for Grizzly’s diecast collection. Once we moved, they didn’t really go with our new direction, so we put them in the garage, where the got dirty and became a dumping ground for crap.

I measured the shelves, measured the wall, and realized it could be done. The shelves were built for 1:24 model cars, though, not books and games and toys.

We stacked several books on the shelves, but there was a ton of leftover space. Monkey put some of her Littlest Pet Shop and Lego sets in canvas bins on the shelves. Her awesome 31 totes are too tall. I had an idea, though.

Soup can organizers!

She picked out stickers and paper and pretty duct tape for her organizers.

I envisioned labeling them for her arts and crafts, but she snatched them up as soon as the decoupage was dry!

Another goodie we have on hand this time of the year is the oh so versatile shoebox. I decided to cover one to match her other organizers. She can keep some of her other little toys in it.
image image
I glued the paper down, Scotch taped it in place, and then sealed with decoupage. I think it was a great idea and it fits on her shelves.

I haven’t taken a photo of monkey’s organized shelves, mostly because it’s an unfinished project! But it’s a fun one.

How do you organize your kiddos’ spaces?

~ 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?

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.


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

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

And presto! The finished product:

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

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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.”

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!

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.


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.

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:
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

This will probably become a binder in itself, because I really am the only one to need it. This is the section I use to keep up with my projects. It is filled with clippings from magazines with ideas for projects, various instructions for said crafts, and my never-ending to-do lists.

In my attempt at organization, this section is divided up by craft type.  Some of the things I’ve included are:

  • Kids’ crafts:  Family Fun Magazine is a wealth of information.  I also list websites with cute ideas.
  • Scrapbooking:  different ideas for photos and layouts
  • Sewing: magazine clippings, Pinterest ideas, different patterns I’ve found online, doodles and drawings I’ve made with ideas for projects around the house
  • Crosstitch: patterns and ideas
  • Miscellaneous: just random re-purposing projects

I need to add an inventory of my supplies, along with where things are located (see my post about making t-shirts with Crazy Math Lady – I’ve misplaced some supplies!)

During the school year, I don’t have a lot of time for all of my craft projects.  I’ve put myself on restriction from buying more crafting things until I can get projects done, which should motivate the heck out of me, since I love crafty stuff.  My re-purposed closet still has  a ton of scrapbooking junk supplies, which I do sometimes use for my classroom, but I have an aversion to scrapbooking if the kitchen isn’t in order.  When I clean the kitchen, it takes awhile because my ADD kicks in and I get sidetracked – frequently.  By the time its spotless, I’ve run out of steam for crafting.

However, having a list of projects and setting up my bucket helps.  I like tasks broken into small chunks, where they’re more manageable.  And I’m more likely to do something. Having the idea pages in my binder inspires me and when I have a few minutes, I can knock out a small craft project.

How do you keep up with your crafts?  Do you have a system in place or are you flying by the seat of your pants?

~ Katie

{January 6, 2013}   Monkeying Around with Crafts


Today was my last day off before heading back to work.  Usually, I’m totally bored and ready to return to work, but this year has been different.  Maybe because I hate my car right now.  Maybe because I was sick the full first week and a half of the break.  Or maybe it’s because I didn’t get everything done I would have liked.


The Grizzly and Monkey 1 planned to hunt this morning, so I was up before 5.  Feeling industrious, I put all of the totes and the Christmas tree up in the attic before 6 AM.  I did locate those missing stockings while putting other crap away!  I folded and put up two loads of laundry, ran the dishwasher, and cleaned behind the washer and dryer before being distracted by Monkey 2’s iWaste-Time.


Monkey 2 was out of bed by 7 and realized she had me all to herself.  We played Dream Heights on the iWaste-Time, learned how several states got their shapes, and watched celebrities shop for over-priced properties before she said, “Let’s do crafts today, Mama.”

I had the perfect thing in mind!


Monkey 2 has long hair.  When it is wet, it falls a few inches below her shoulder blades.  She loves bows and hair bobs of all sorts.  I made a bow holder for her a few years ago to match her bathroom (frogs), which she’s diligent about using.  Ponytail holders and headbands?  All over the floor, in drawers, in my room, even in the kitchen sometimes.  But Pinterest has a solution for that.


We turned an oatmeal container into a hair bob (that’s a technical term, by the way) holder.  I’m not a hoarder.  I’m a creative repurposer.


Project Supplies


  • Oatmeal container with the label removed and inside cleaned outimage
  • Scrapbook paper of the monkey’s choice
  • Coordinating ribbon
  • Glue
  • Scotch tape
  • Clothespins


Easy peasy, and I had everything on hand!  She picked out a pink, Valentine’s pattern for the paper and red ribbon.  We marked on the wrong side of the paper where the top and bottom of the container would be and cut away the excess.  Because our container was 14 inches around, we used part of the extra, also.  Then we wrapped and glued the paper to the container.  It wasn’t perfectly straight, but I told Monkey that was where the ribbon came in – to cover the uneven edge!  We scotch taped the seams in case the glue didn’t hold perfectly.  It was going to be covered up, anyway.  We glued ribbon around the top, near the edge, and clipped in place with clothespins until it dries.  We also added a little label, again covering the funky seams.  Then we glued a circle of scrapbook paper to the lid and added a ribbon bow from the red ribbon.


imageThe most time-consuming part was waiting for Monkey 2 to pick out her colors and patterns and such!

After setting that project aside to dry, she wanted a baking lesson.  Have I mentioned my oven is kind of messed up?  Thank goodness for Martha White Muffin Mix.  I showed her how to measure the milk and stir the batter.  Her stirring was so awkward!  I guess from watching me, she tried to stir with her right hand.  She did a great job after we straightened that out and the muffins turned out really well.


Baking done, Monkey 2 wanted to move back to crafting.  Santa Claus, that brilliant fat man, gave theEnglish: Photo of Jonathan G. Meath portraying... monkey a headband making kit for Christmas.  It came with three plain white headbands, a few pieces of ribbon, and a tube of crappy glue.  Not the jolly old soul’s finest hour.  But the Monkey had a solution!


“Mama, you have good glue and a whole box of ribbon we can use.  I think that would be prettier.”


Pretty time-consuming because she had choices again!


By the time we wrapped and glued 2 ½ headbands, started a hash brown casserole for dinner, and listened to every song Taylor Sift ever thought of recording, the Y chromosomes returned from a fruitless day of hunting (but they did finally pick up the last deer from the processor!) Monkey was excited to share her day’s accomplishments with her daddy and brother.  But it seemed she was done with me.


Until a few minutes ago.  She came up, wrapped her arms around me in one of those hugs only little kids ever give, and said, “I wish you didn’t have to go back to work tomorrow, Mama.  I liked having you to myself to do grown-up lady stuff today.”


And that’s exactly why I’m not ready to go to work tomorrow.


What crafting experiences have you had with little kids?


~ Katie

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{December 12, 2012}   Sew What? (reprint)


My great-grandmother was a beautiful seamstress.  Her daughter cranks out quilts like a machine. My mom can whip up suits, formal gowns, and quilts like a pro. Me? I’m doing something special to sew a seam.

My grandmother taught me to backstitch, sew a button, and make minor repairs.  I never did learn to use a pattern or make a button hole.

My husband bought me a sewing machine one newly married Christmas.  I hemmed curtains,  made a few pillows, sewed a Christmas stocking. And I was done.

My sewing machine died on me a while back.  My stepmom, unable to thread a needle any longer, has passed hers on to me.

With the piles of fabric I’ve accumulated over the years, my little girl wanted a yellow skirt. I googled for easy patterns and found a 15 minute skirt. Of course, I pressed everything first to give myself guides, and it took longer than 15 minutes.

The seams aren’t all straight and it’s a little too big but I’m proud of my project. I’d love to take lessons. Who has the time?


So this was a project from last summer.  And I think it may have been that long since the sewing machine has been out.  However, I found the cutest pattern for reusable shopping totes and I thought that may be a good use of some scrap fabric – and maybe a cheap Christmas project since my new alternator ate my holiday bonus.

I’d love to focus on a different project each day.  I think to schedule it would be the only way I’d ever find time to craft at all.  And making things yourself saves a bunch of money!

~ Katie

et cetera
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