Category Archives: Every Day Life

Making a Chess Set – Super Heroes Vs. Villains

My first sell on Etsy was a Super Heroes Vs. Villains chess set, so I decided to take some pictures of the process. If you decide you are interested in ordering one or taking a look at the other sets I have made (Star Wars, Harry Potter, & Lord of the Rings) click on the link: WoodnPlaytime

If you want a chess set and have an idea for something I haven’t made – contact me and we’ll see what we can come up with!

I order the plain peg people as a set and start with base coats. As the base coats dry I add in details as you can see. The bigger pieces are 3 9/16 inches tall where the pawns are only 1 1/8 inches tall. The Super Heroes Vs Villains is one of the hardest sets I paint because each piece is different and there are a lot of details to get on even the smallest pieces. Each piece is painted on the bottom – Heroes I did yellow and Villains I did red – & labeled with it’s name.

Creating super hero pieces collage

Once all the pieces are done I start to work on the board. My awesome hubby cuts the board down to size for me and after it’s sanded I varnish it. Once the varnish is dry I measure and grid the board with a pencil. In the past I have just hand painted, trying my best to do clean straight lines – this time I got smart and taped the board off. I love how it turned out. I still had to hand paint some of the edge lines though.

Creating super hero board collage

Once the board is done I sew a couple bags to hold the pieces. I like finding fabric that fits the chess set theme when possible – I was thrilled to find these two contrasting patterns.  I put the villains in the gray bag and the heroes in the blue – but the customer can bag them however they like.

This particular set is about to be shipped off – my first Etsy store order! Woohoo! But it is listed in my store – it takes 3-5 weeks to get these painted because of the detail, etc, so think ahead if your interested! My other small sets take 2-4 weeks and the big 4 player Harry potter set takes 4-6 weeks.

Super Heroes vs Villains

Lord of the Rings

Star Wars

Harry Potter

Harry Potter 4 Player

 

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Filed under Every Day Life, Getting Crafty, Hobby

I opened an Etsy shop!

I never thought that when I started painting little wooden figures & chess sets that I would end up selling any – let alone open an etsy shop! What started as a way to make Christmas happen has become something fun to do on the side for other people. Sometimes it can be a bit of a juggling act – taking the time to paint (one figure will take usually 1-2 hours to do – more if it’s highly detailed), work on my writing (and yes, I am still going & making progress! woohoo!), & of course, above all else, being a mom & wife and all that great stuff.

It also took more than a little bit of courage – it’s a bit daunting deciding to open your own shop – no matter how little it might be & I had to learn about things I never thought I would (like sales tax, heh). But I decided that it doesn’t matter if it is an epic flop – I don’t want to become world famous  – I just want to share something fun with others. So, swing on by & take a look – favorite my shop (it makes my heart glow when people do that) & like my shop’s FB page.

Here’s to having a little courage!

Woodnplaytime

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Woodnplaytime Facebook Page

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Filed under Children, Every Day Life, Getting Crafty, Hobby

Family Chore/Job Center & Chalkboard Door

Some time ago I decided I needed to do something different for our chore charts. I wanted a job for hire board. I thought about checklists to help the kids remember the daily things they needed to do. I thought about regular rotating chore charts. It seemed like a lot of different charts to have to make. I looked all over pinterest and nothing stood out to me until I found this amazing idea. It seemed pretty involved as far as making it, but I loved the look and a lot of the ideas behind it – especially because it had all the charts I wanted in one place. I decided to see what Paul thought, since I would enlist him in building it, and he agreed. After a few months (mainly because we had so many other things demanding out attention that we kept shoving it aside) we finally got it completed today. I had a number of requests on Facebook for more details and some close-ups, so I obliged.

First off, here is what the whole thing looks like:

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The ladder was not hard to build and Paul has a saw and  such, so I put him to work. He cut and sanded and painted. We have two pieces running along the back that we fixed the head board and all the smaller ladder boards on. I don’t really know dimensions – we just looked at the picture I found on pinterest and then we figured how big we wanted to make ours for the space where we wanted to put it.  I could have done it myself probably, but power saws and such make me nervous (I mean, good grief, look at what I did with a lawn mower and my toe in high school, lol).

Then I got to do the fun part.  I’ll start from the bottom up.

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We talked about a bunch of ways we wanted to do the kids chore chart & checklists, and finally I decided I liked the clipboards the best for a number of reasons – namely they required the least amount of extra work.  These were plain brown boring ones I got at Staples for $2 a piece. I painted them to make them more interesting.  On the bottom is their daily checklist – it’s fixed permanently onto the clipboard. These are the things we expect of them daily simply because they are alive.  They are all pretty self explanatory except possibly “Your Stuff” which means to make sure your stuff is gathered and put away from around the house & “Observe” where we want them to observe 1 thing in the house that needs to be done and then do it without being asked. I laminated the cards so they can mark them off each day with a dry erase marker. If they complete their checklist for the day, they get to check the day off up above. Once a week I will give them a ticket for each day they completed their checklist.

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The top card on the clipboard is the rotating chore job. They have 2 chores each week: a kitchen chore and a household chore. Those are laminated for durability and get moved each Sunday. On them I listed what I expected to be done daily & weekly in each chore area.

The next section of my board consists of a row of buckets. Target has adorable buckets for $1 I love color so I got colorful ones (and I might trade them out if other more colorful ones appear). You will find them in the $ section close to where you walk in. The buckets are utilitarian in purpose – that’s where we put the tickets they earn and store the dry erase markers for the kids to mark their checklists with.

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Finally comes the upper section:

Just above the buckets is a little picture frame where I can write (in dry erase) the date of the next reward day (we will probably have one about once a month or so) and a list of what they can order with their tickets. We will probably change this up from time to time, but it’s a way to use incentives to motivate them. Then we have the Service bucket. Paul and I decided we wanted to have a spot where anyone could put in service they see needs to be done or would like to have done. The kids can pull out an act of service and complete it. Also in the service bucket is a dry erase marker & a regular pen (we though we might have an issue with ticket transference from one kid’s bucket to another, so the idea was proposed by our oldest to write names on the tickets so there can be no confusion). Finally is a little box where we keep help wanted chore cards and we might poke an eraser in there for chart cleaning, etc.

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Across the top and above the little black box are our chore for hire cards. These are chores above and beyond what we would typically ask and are willing to pay for. We are pretty cheap parents and don’t pay much (mostly because we can’t afford to shell $10 out a kid each week, heh), but it gives them an opportunity to learn to work for a wage. We sat down and made a list of what chores we felt were above and beyond and the amount we were willing to pay and I made a set of cards. I’m sure I will add on to them as time goes and we think of more things. As we see or feel the need for certain jobs to be done we will clip them up – they are first come first serve and the child will bring us the card when they are finished. We will inspect and then pay them. Some people keep the money with the card – we don’t because #1 it can be a temptation to wander away with sticky fingers & #2 many jobs are under $1 or depend on how much is done (such as cupboard washing – we pay 10 cents a cupboard so it all depends on how many cupboards they wash). Finally, on the end is the roll of tickets. I think I mentioned earlier that these can be earned (1 each day) by completing the entire check list on the the clipboard.

At some point we will put some cute saying, quote or maybe just Chore Center in the black above the work for hire section, but I haven’t decided what I want there yet.

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SO there you have it – our chore center largely copied from the one I found on Pinterest with a few things changed to fit our family personally. We screwed eye screws into the back and strung picture wire between them for hanging. When we put it up, we rearranged things to have our FHE chart, family clock, and blessings board (a really cute present from an awesome friend) all nearby.  It’s beside our front door and takes center stage in our living area to help us all remember to actively do our part in helping the home run smoothly.

Do you have a chore chart you love? How do you involve your kids in daily household doings? Share your success/fail (because we all have those too) stories in the comments!

I recently chalkboarded the door too, so it has become a center of family fun as well.  We did it with DIY chalkboard paint!

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This was super easy and cheap to do. To make your own chalkboard paint in any color you want all you have to do is add 2 tablespoons of unsanded grout to 1 cup of paint and mix it really well. I chose a dark brown color (I felt black would be too dark) and since I was just doing 1 door, I bought a sample from Lowes for $3.50. Add the grout in just before you are ready to paint as it will gradually thicken and get clumpy after a time (a friend gave me her box when she was moving, but it’s not terribly expensive and lasts forever – so ask around if you know anyone who has grouted recently, or get a box to share because all of your friends will want to do this when they see your awesome door! lol).

Once your door is painted and completely dry, prep it by rubbing white chalk all over it in circular motions, then go back and erase it in circular motions and then voila you have an amazing chalkboard door that will be the hit of your home!

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We celebrated our 18th anniversary on Monday! Woot! Robert was very proud of his “first boat ever, Mom!”.

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Filed under Every Day Life, Family, Getting Crafty

Two Boys, a Man, and a Prayer

I was in between running errands. Home just fifteen minutes before running off to do the next thing when my doorbell dinged. Twice. I was annoyed. Partially because double dings always feel so impatient. I reminded myself that this was most likely no fault to the person at the door, but when I looked through the window and saw an older man I didn’t recognize the irritation came back. I yanked the door open fully prepared to tell the man we didn’t want any and go about my business.

He spoke before I could utter a word. “You have two boys, right? Jacob and James.”

“Yes,” I replied.

“I have something for them. Did they tell you about what happened yesterday when I was looking for my cat?”

“They mentioned it.”

He then proceeded to tell me a story. A story of two boys, a man, and a prayer.

He and his wife had lost their cat. They had been searching for four days. He was near our yard looking when the boys got off the bus. He told them he was looking for his cat and asked if they had seen him around. The boys said no and helped look for a while. After a bit they paused to rest, the man’s knees were bothering him. Jacob whispered in James’ ear.

“What are you two plotting?” The man asked with a laugh.

They laughed, whispered a bit more and then asked, “Can you kneel?”

“Yes,” he replied, “I can.”

“We want to say a prayer for your cat,” the boys said.

The three of them knelt on the grass and one of the boys prayed and asked for the cat, Biscuit, to be able to safely return home. After the prayer they stood and one of the boys looked at the man. “We prayed. God will help and your cat will come home now.”

The man looked at me, very emotional. “Our cat came home last night. He had gotten trapped in a neighbor’s basement area.”

He then proceeded to hand me an envelope for each boy. “I really appreciate the prayer they said with me. You have very fine boys.”

When my boys got home, I told them the man had come by and had left something for them and that his cat had been returned. Immediately my two boys knelt down to pray and thank Heavenly Father for the return of Biscuit, the man’s cat.

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Filed under Children, Every Day Life, Miracles, Religion

Taking a Break

A few weeks ago I found myself faced with a sudden realization.

I needed a break.

A break from stress.

A break from the constant every day reminder of Lizy being gone.

A break from life.

And I tossed the feeling aside, because, how can one really take a break from life?

I mentioned to Paul how I would love to get away – just the two of us for a little while – it had been SO long since we went anywhere over night without the kids. He agreed and my heart soared.

We weren’t sure how to do it and we knew it would be at least spring before it happened.

One afternoon I was sitting at the kitchen table with a good friend, working on a project we were giving the Young Women for New Beginnings and I mentioned that Paul and I were thinking of getting away.

She said, “Finally! G and I were talking about this just a few months ago – that what you two really need was just to get away. I’ll tell her you’re ready now.”

I think I stared at her for an astonished moment while crickets chirped.

“She has one of those vacation ownership things and can’t use all her points, she was going to send you guys on a vacation.”

SO, the long and the short of it, here we are in the Smokey Mountains at a beautiful resort having a wonderful time.  It happened much faster than we thought – we figured there wouldn’t be available rooms for a month or two at least and she called saying, “I booked a spot for you next week, let me know if you can’t make it.”

After some fast arrangements we were on our way. She and some other good friends descended on our home to wrangle our crazy crew. I can’t begin to say how grateful we are.

It’s been amazing.

I got to take a 2 hour (I watched a movie and painted my nails so I didn’t get bored) bath in an amazing jacuzzi tub. I’ve NEVER done that. We’ve been able to go at our own pace and in essence really take a break from life. Since we’re in a new place that we’ve never brought the family there are no memories (often the memories are wonderful – but they are hard too) of all the kids having a grand time. We miss (sort of, lol) all the kids so it’s not obvious in our brains and hearts that we should miss one more than the other. It’s been wonderful.

The area is crazy! Paul and I decided it’s like Las Vegas but instead of Casinos lining the main strip, amusement parks, miniature golf, etc. line the main strip – las vegas for kids, lol. We’re not into all that. We just stare at its garrish awe until we hit the mountains. It’s a bit stormy, so we haven’t been able to do much – a lot of the park has been closed. But we’re hoping to see more today – and take some photos of some of these crazy stores and amusement attractions.

One thing that has been so neat and beautiful is to see the icicle covered rocks – so beautiful! Today we’re hoping to go for a walk in the mountains, and since it’s Sunday we’ll go to church first – how odd it will be to just be two of us.

I’ll have more photos later, but here are a few of our vacation so far:

Smokey Mountains Collage 1

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Smokey Mountains Collage 5

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Smokey Mountains Collage 3

Smokey Mountains Collage 2

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I Thought this wood carving was awesome – all done with a dremel

Smokey Mountains Collage 9

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Filed under Every Day Life, Love and Marriage

Deliciousness (ie: home made pizza)

I love pizza!

REALLY!!

LOTS!!!

When I was at my brother’s house for Thanksgiving they made pizza.

Delicious, awesome crust, could have come from a restaurant, pizza.

And I HAD to know how they did it!

Pizza stone was the answer – but pizza stones are expensive and break – & then cost a fortune to replace. So, they had learned online that they could make their own pizza stone. They told me how and I’ve been having AMAZING home made pizza ever since.

What you need is:

unglazed quarry tile – 1/2 thick at least. The unglazed part is the most important.  I could only find 6×6 tiles (my brother somehow found some 8×8 tiles – they don’t sell those in my area). I had to do a bunch of calling and finally found them at Manards. They cost about 50 cents a piece. So, $3 later I had enough tiles to fit in my oven and bake on. – 2 rows of 3 is what usually works when using 6×6 tiles. (I actually bought 10 so I’d have replacements if some broke).

When you get your tiles home rinse them of and let them dry thoroughly before using. If there is still moisture on them, they’ll break. About an hour before you want to make pizza, put them in your oven on the wire rack – I like having my rack either in the center or one step down towards the bottom. Set your oven as hot as it will go – usually between 500 – 550 for conventional ovens. It will take about 30 minutes to preheat and then you want it to heat for another 20 -30 minutes so those stones get good and hot.

Now, you can’t have good pizza without a good crust recipe – and I searched around a bit looking for one I liked. I found one, but the crust was too thin (I like thick crusts), so I doubled it and tweaked it slightly & it made the yummiest crust! So, here’s the recipe (if you want a thinner crust, half it)

Makes 4 10-12 inch pieces (or bigger/more if you want thinner)

10 C flour (I prefer Bread flour)

3 Tbs Sugar

4 tsp salt

2 1/2 tsp instant yeast

5 Tbs olive oil

4 cups water (may need to add a bit more – I think I did, but I don’t remember how much)

Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl (or mixer – mixer is way easier) and stir vigorously . After all the ingredients are combined, let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Mix again adding flour or water if needed. You want your pizza dough to be a little wetter and stickier than your typical bread dough. It should be dry enough it holds together and pulls away from the side of the bowl when you mix it, but it doesn’t need to be dry enough to knead by hand.

Divide the dough into 4 pieces and place each one into an oiled freezer bag. (I use olive oil to oil the bags – I put it on my hands and then rub the inside of the bag – that way the dough won’t stick to my hands either.

At this point, if you aren’t going to use all the dough today you can throw a couple of them into the freezer – they’ll be good for at least  a month and the evening before you use them, put the dough balls in the refrigerator to thaw.

The best thing for a tasty pizza crust is a slow rise – so I make my dough early in the day and let it rise for a few hours in the fridge. It’s fine though if you are short on time and can only let it rise an hour on the counter. From what I read online, flavor improves with longer slower rises at reduced temperature. The first time I made the crust I didn’t have time to let it rise long and did a counter rise – it tasted great – but the second time I did it, I did the long rise and it was SO much yummier!

So, now you made your dough and it’s rising! Yay! When your ready, just roll it out to the size and shape you need/want. I like flinging mine in the air and pretending like I know what I’m doing. So far it’s fallen on the floor, counter, my face…. but the kids think it’s funny (and fun)

So, the next awesome thing you need is a great pizza sauce.

I thought I could take some sauce and paste and throw seasonings in it and it’d be great. I was wrong – I could never get it right, so I searched the internet and found this gem for the Ultimate Pizza sauce on food.com. It take a little effort – but it is SO worth it. I’m changing it here to fit your 4 pizzas – if you have left over it’s good in the fridge for about a week, or you can freeze it.

4 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs butter

1 C finely chopped onion

1/2 C finely chopped celery

2 garlic cloves minced (or if you’re like me and always forget to buy garlic cloves – garlic powder works too – use 1 tsp)

2 cans (8 oz) tomato sauce

2 cans (6 oz) tomato paste

4 Tbs grated parmesan cheese

2 tsp dried basil

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 small bay leaves

2 tsp fennel seeds (fennel seeds are the MOST IMPORTANT part of any pizza sauce – really – it’s the difference between good and WOWZA!!!)

In a skillet, melt but with oil and sautee the onion, garlic, & celery until soft and transparent – some of you will be worried it will make the sauce to chunkly, it won’t as long as you dice it small and cook it well – the flavor it adds is wonderful.  Add the tomato sauce & tomato paste and stir until smooth. Add all the rest of the ingredients and simmer. You can simmer for 30-60 minutes for full flavor, or you can use sooner if you’re short on time. Take out the bay leaves and spread the sauce on your prepared dough. (you do not need to cook your crust ahead of time). It makes a nice thick sauce and it’s REALLY yummy.

Then, top your pizza with whatever you want.

A couple more tips:

You’ll want a pizza peel – wood or metal (I have wood, my brother has metal).

spread cornmeal liberally on your pizza peel before you put the crust on it – this will help the pizza to slide off after you have it assembled.

Bake you pizzas directly on the stones (the stones, 0r tiles, absorbed the moisture and give the awesome crisper crust on the bottom).

For thinner crust pizzas we bake at 550 for about 7 minutes – for thicker crust pizzas we bake at 550 for about 8 minutes.

When you pull them from the oven, let them cool for a couple minutes on a wire wrack to keep the bottoms from turning soggy.

It’s not really as much work as it sounds like & it’s well worth it for pizzas that taste as good as the restaurant kind at a fraction of the cost. 🙂

Here are a couple of pictures from our last pizza night (New Year’s Eve)

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Feel free to ask me questions –

I’m not an expert, but I might be able to make up an answer that sounds convincing! 😀

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Filed under Every Day Life

The Unexpected Smile

I love that moment when you’re walking along and smile at some unsuspecting person.

You don’t know them.

You just smile because it’s nice.

You try to be happy and hope to make others happy.

And then that surprised smile of being smiled at springs onto their faces.

If it were a cartoon it would

BOING

at the edges.

And your innerds grow warm and you know that if Superman were around he’d be able to see them glowing inside.

There’s just something special about a smile. 

My husband promised to always make me laugh – and smile – he promised that too.

And he does – everyday.

The amazing thing about my husband is that he doesn’t just make me laugh

he strives to make everybody laugh

or at the very least

SMILE!

There is nothing like watching that expected smile BOING onto someone’s face.

Wherever we are he’ll manage to meet the gaze of someone who looks a bit down and his face will explode into an amazing smile and he’ll say, “Hi!” or “Hello!” And they look somewhat startled at the sound of his cheery voice but there is nothing as contagious as a smile and before long they are grinning and saying, “Why, hell0!” or “Oh! Hi!”

He calls every person we meet with a name tag by name – the gal ringing up the grocers, the guy waiting tables.

It’s amazing, the smile that springs on their faces when he calls them by name and grins at them.

He teases – hands them the debit card and then flicks it away a few times before surrendering it and they laugh or smile and he says,

“Made ya laugh” or “made ya smile”.

I laugh and shake my head and love him even more. I think about how long of a day some of those workers have had and some of the rude people they have had to put up with and I love that my husby goes out of his way to put a smile on their faces and give them a bright (and usually silly) spot in the day.

Old, young, adult, child, or teen – Paul can manage to coax a smile out of anybody.

In fact, I overheard someone once say about my husby, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him NOT smiling” which really made me SMILE!

And I thought of one of my favorite quotes:

“Happiness is like jam. You can’t spread even a little without getting some one yourself.” 

And since I ALWAYS get sticky fingers when it comes to jam, I can relate really well to this (of course it usually because one of my charming children used it and got jam all over the OUTSIDE of the jar – ha ha).

So, the next time it’s been a long wait in the grocery store line,

the person ahead of you had coupon after coupon, half of them didn’t work right, and they had to argue with the person working the register over every single one.

Okay, I’m exagerating, but you’ve all been there – or someplace similar –

and you finally get there and the clerk gives a tightlip smile as they apologize, waiting for you to lash out on incompetance and how long the line was.

Give a smile a try.

You can see them cringing inside (after all, they saw you rolling your eyes at how LONG everything was taking), waiting for the final straw to make today their worst day EVER

and then you

Grin

and

Chuckle

and say,

“Hey, no problem, my mom taught me patience.”

or

“My special super hero power is patience in long lines.”

And the tight-lipped panicked smile relaxes into a full fledged smile that BOINGS on the edges and there go your innerds again, glowing  and blinding superman.

In fact, you feel a little like Superman’s side kick.

Making the world better.

One Smile at a Time!

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