Friday, April 8, 2016

Easy DIY Chalkboard Chore Chart

I can't be the only mom who is a stuck in the black hole of chore charts. We've tried so many variations of charts, but nothing was quite right. We started with good ol' printer paper and stickers. But reprinting every week wasn't working for me. So we tried that store bought one with magnets. That was an epic fail. The magnets didn't stick well, and my toddler thought they we super fun to chew on. So we ditched that before we ended up in the ER (again!). I brainstormed and came up with this chalkboard version that's been working really well for us. The lines and days of the week are done in chalk marker, and the chores are done with plain chalk. So I can start fresh each week without wiping off the lines. My son likes that he can mark off the completed chores, and he never lets me forget when he's completed one.
The whole project only took a couple of hours, and that includes drying time. It's super easy to make, and it's looks much nicer hanging in my living room than a paper sticker chart. So, let's get started!

 Supplies Needed:
  • Wooden chalkboard frame
  • Chalk or Acrylic Paint
  • Wooden Letters ($.98 from Walmart)
  • Twine
  • Staple Gun
  • Scrap Fabric
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Wood Stain
  • Sandpaper 
  • Chalk Markers
  • Assorted paint brushes

Step One: Painting
You can do this project with a picture frame and chalkboard paint if you happen to already have one you're not using. I didn't, and with a 50% coupon, I scored this chalkboard frame from the craft store for $6.  If you're using a frame you already have, you're going to need to paint the backing in chalkboard paint. Make sure you do a few coats so it's nice and dark. If you're using a store bought chalkboard, then you only need to worry about painting the frame. I used Martha Stewart Chalk Paint because I had some on hand, but you could just as easily use plain old acrylic. Make sure you use painters tape to cover up the edges of the chalkboard. I didn't, and ended up having to go back and repaint my chalkboard. It took two coats for a nice, even coverage. While you've got the paint out, go ahead and paint the letters for the top. For this part, I used dark blue acrylic, because that's what I had on hand. 

Step Two: Chalk Pocket
  Remember my post about me versus my sewing machine? Yea, that should tell you how bad my sewing skills are. But I wanted a little pocket to hold the chalk for marking completed chores. So while the paint is drying, you can whip up a chalk pocket.
This pocket is as basic as it gets. I  used my chalk and got a rough estimate of the size I needed, and then cut two rectangles about that size. With the right sides facing together, I sewed around 3 sides and then flipped it right side out. I folded the raw side down and did just a quick hem to keep it clean looking, and then ironed it flat. I'm sure there are sewing gurus out there who can figure out a better way to do this. But this way is super simple and does the job.

Step Three: Sanding and Dry Staining
This is my favorite part of any project. This is the part where the project really comes to life. After your paint is dry, grab your sandpaper and start working on removing some of the paint. Focus on the corners, outside edges, and inside edges. In some places I sand heavier and some lighter. If you're not sure where to sand, try to think about how the frame would age. Things like the corners are more likely to take a beating over time, so I sand especially heavy there. But the beauty here is that there is really no way to screw it up. Sand as much or as little as you want, and anywhere you want. Once you're done sanding, give it a wipe down with an old towel to get the dust off.
For dry staining the frame, you want to use a dry, clean, bristle brush. You want just a tiny amount of stain on it, and then you'll quickly brush it over the frame. I like to just tap the brush on the lid, and find that dipping it in the can just puts too much on the brush. I also keep a rag handy, to wipe down places where I get too much stain. The idea is a streaky, distressed feel. I go over the corners a few times to make it darker. You'll find that the stain will sink in darker in the places you've sanded, and you can go over the spots a few times with the brush to darken them.

Step Four: Assembly
Once the stain is dry, it's time to put the whole thing together. I used my trusty hot glue gun to glue the letters at the top and to attach the chalk pocket. I didn't measure anything, just eyeballed it. For hanging it, I braided three pieces of twine together for more thickness. If you're using rope, ribbon, or thicker twine, you can use just one. I then flipped it over and staple gunned it to the back of the frame.

Step Five: Seasoning
To season the chalkboard, just use the long side of a piece of chalk and rub a thick layer over the whole chalkboard, and then wipe it off. I get the best results if I do this step a couple of time. Whatever you do, DON'T skip the seasoning. If you skip it, then you'll see the shadows of the first thing you write on your chalkboard forever.

Step Six: Drawing The Chart
For the lines and days of the week, use the chalk marker. Chalk markers only come off with water, so they won't wipe away when you reset the chart each week. I used a ruler and measured out 1" vertical and horizontal lines. You'll notice my chart only has Monday through Saturday, because in our house, Sunday is a freebie day. I refuse to do chores on Sunday, so I don't make my kiddos do it either. Once your lines are done, just fill in the chores and hang it up.  And then get those kiddos cleaning!


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Well, hello again!

Well, hey there friends! It's been a while, I know. These last couple of months have been a whirlwind of busy, busy, busy. And well, there hasn't been much time for crafting at all, let alone blogging about it. But cross your fingers that life will settle a bit for me now. (Ha ha! Two kids and two dogs - that's a pipe dream!)

So what have I been up to? A lot, actually! I finished up my last two classes for my degree (woo hoo!) and the hubs and I have basically taken on a new lifestyle.  Remember that New Year's resolution to eat clean and lose those ten pounds I've been carrying around? Well, check and check! Matt and I spent many hours scrounging, coupon clipping, and planning, and we've built our very own home gym! We spent two full days cleaning out the garage, and getting rid of soooooo much junk that has accumulated over the years. And then began the deal hunting and setting up. But we're pretty much put together now, and we're rocking out a full free weight system in the garage, complete with a beast sound system (sorry neighbors!) We've been lifting six days a week, and it's been really awesome. I can't honestly say that we're now 100% clean eating, because we live in the real world. But I'd say we're at about 80%, and I'm pretty happy with that. Happy enough that I'm down 16lbs since this all started. I've still got so me goals to meet, but they're getting closer. Our new diet is all about real food and lowering our carbs. It's tricky, but I've found some really great (and really awful) Pinterest recipes that I'll share with you soon!

It's been quiet on the crafting from. I've managed to knock out a couple small projects, and I've got a big one on the needles now. My latest accomplishment has been an amigarumi shark for Chase. Remember Elijah the Elephant that I made for my nephew (who's due in the 3 weeks!)? Well, Chase loved Elijah so much that he begged for a friend of his own. And how can I turn down a child begging for a handmade toy? Exactly. So I put my other projects on hold and whipped out "Sharky McShark", as named by my ever so eloquent five year old.  And of course, now the toddler is begging for a bear.

After two amigarumi, I've discovered that it is really, really not my thing. Those stitches are just so tiny and tight, my hands ache just thinking about it. The pattern for this guy was constructed in an unusual way, and it just wasn't very intuitive. I started with the pattern and ended up just winging it. I can't say it's my proudest piece, but my little guy loves Sharky and has been sleeping with him every night. So I'll call this one a success.

The pattern for this guy is Shark by Natty Knits, and the yarn is some leftover Caron Simply Soft.The pattern has instructions for knitting the teeth, but I really didn't like the way that looked. So I made a major modification and decided to use felt for his teeth and hand sew them in. It's already obvious that the teeth aren't going to hold up as well as the rest of him, but fortunately, I've got extra felt and can just replace as needed.