Saturday, July 28, 2018

Pirate-Themed Giant Game Board

I work for an online ESL company called DaDaABC DaDa (recent name change). It's an online program that teaches English to kids in China. I've worked here, and by here I mean in my home office, for a solid year.

I've also had some of the same students for that length of time. To help keep class interesting I'm always looking for new games to play as an incentive for classroom interaction.

This is my most ambitious project yet! Usually, I stick with simple printable boardgames but its time to shake things up.

Shopping List: 

Dollar Tree
Blue Poster Board .69
Pirate Stickers
package Foam Sheets
Adhesive Velcro Dots
(recommend 2 packages of velcro)

Shark Finger Puppet from Ikea

Elmer's Glue
Wooden Ovals (optional) check the craft store or craft aisle at your local box retailer

Step 1:
Cut in half two of each color of foam. You'll end up with four smaller rectangles.

Step 2: 
Pick a pattern. I chose a rainbow pattern. 
Glue down.

Step 3: 
Added some waves around the pirate ship sticker at the beginning of the game board. 
Added Treasure Island at the end of the game board using the treasure box sticker. 

And this is where the simple project turned a bit more time-consuming. I'm creative by nature and just couldn't help myself. I hand drew the waves and used different markers to create color variation...and NONE of this is clearly seen by the webcam. ***It would have been easier to print off a picture online and glue it onto the game board.***

Periodically I placed the game board against my teaching backdrop and turned on the webcam. I wanted to see how it would look to my students. 

Step 4: 
Placed the rough side of the velcro dots along the path. 
The smooth sides of the velcro are on the back of the wooden ovals. The stickers themselves are too flimsy for repeatedly pulling on. This makes the game more durable. 

Using a sharpie I added a treasure map path.

Step 5: My kiddos and I played the game once thru and I realized that it needed some drama. Enter: the shark. 
I'd run out of velcro dots (which is why I recommend purchasing two packages) but I had velcro tape in my sewing kit. I used a small slice to hold the shark to the board. 

The shark easily comes off to chase the pirate backward two spaces.   

 Later on the board, your pirate can find two gold coins and can move forward two spaces.

I picked "backward" and "forward" because they are easy to teach as opposites during the game...assuming you land on one.
 Step 6:

*** Tip: I traced each blue rectangle with a blue marker because it was difficult to make out the blue foam via the webcam. ***

I added two more velcro dots to the top of Treasure Island for our pirates to rest after we reach the top.

And, X marks the spot!

And here is the final product in play! It was a hit with several students. The game can even be played backwards as the pirates take their treasure back to the ship. Hopefully, no pirates will get left behind! hehe

This was worth my time to put together.


If you are looking for a part-time job from home and have teaching experience I recommend DaDa (formerly DaDaABC). I've worked with this company for a solid year and never had trouble maintaining a full schedule or recieving a paycheck. If you decide to apply, can you use my referral link? Thank you!

Want to see the game board in action?
Check out this video link to see "Using Game Boards in the Classroom."

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Painted Terra Cotta Pots: Five Year Follow-Up

These painted pots are one of my most popular posts with over 8,000 views. This may not seem like a huge number compared to high-traffic blogs, but for a hobby blog it's a pretty good flow. Since its popping up in the Popular Posts feed so often I figured I'd do a follow up on how well these have weathered.

Here is a before picture. (Click Here to see the Original Post)

A late spring hail storm.
You can see the pots sprinkled around the garden.
One year I brought them all in to protect them from the winter snow, but other than that they have been fully exposed to the summer sun, winter storms, wind, sprinklers, and curious children.

Five years later, here is how they have weathered the outdoor life.

This spring, I brought this pot inside to nurse the succulent back to life. The spider plant it was next to on the shelf decided to plant a baby. Companion planting, right? haha

before                                            after
I was wondering why the large fish scales pot was showing more wear than the others. My only guess is that the smaller pots were first coated with a Clay Pot Sealer to avoid water leaking out from inside the pot. The fish scales pot was a curbside find and since it already had dirt in it, I didn't use the Clay Pot Sealer on the inside. My guess is the paint is taking a beating from inside and outside the pot.

Overall I am pleased with how long these painted pots have held up. My only take-away-tip is to use the clay pot sealer. It's worth washing out the pot to apply it to the inside for the longevity of the paint. 

Original Post on Painting Terra Cotta Pots with Acrylics:


Sunday, May 27, 2018

Pallet Console Table

After mounting the tv to the wall and giving the former tv storage a comic book makeover we needed something thin to hold the electronics and movies. Being cheap frugal and creative I decided to make my own.

Our new console table is made from all pallet wood with some fence boards mixed in after the stash of pallets was depleted.

This table is completely free.

I have varied collection of ideas saved on Pinterest for pallets, reclaimed wood, fences, etc. Here are the inspiration pieces/sources pulled from my board: working with wood. It'll be fun to add my own creation to this board! And I look forward to putting my own spin on some of the other projects pinned there.

DIY Pallet Table. Would be great outside for all the dirty shoes!

Mesas con palets DIY 1

I took creative liberty in size and length.

The length of the pallet sides determined how long this table was.

The width of the DVD player and X-box determined the width of this table. It needed to be wide enough to hold them but narrow enough to leave a small footprint under the TV.

And the height of the table was determined by the distance between the TV and the floor, leaving room for all the technology we needed to place on top.

This is the BEST part about making one's own furniture: it truly fits your home for your needs. 

All other pieces were cut-to-fit and assembled according to the wood. The second shelf I wanted was easily installed on these braces that came with the wood. I just cut the legs the same length based on the braces. Easy peasy.

Sanded and sanded and sanded. I loathe sanding but it is a necessary evil. It was looking much cleaner and I was tempted to leave it as is or maybe add a coat of stain to keep the natural wood look. But our interior decor does not lend itself to all natural wood. The hubs isn't a fan of it so we meet in the middle on a lot on our decorating decisions. It would need paint to complement our living room.

One coat of Kilz primer from top to bottom, including under the shelves. I know they won't be seen, but I want extra assurance against any germs or bacteria that might linger on these planks. It's just a precaution...I've read too many articles on the dangers of using reclaimed wood. 

Time for the fun part! Color!

To create a varied color texture without using layers of paint and more sanding, I employed the dip & drag painting technique from Lake Girl Paints. You should hop on over and see how she mixes up colors -- just beautiful!

Below is my interpretation of her method. Sometimes I blended the colors and other times I picked a primary color theme for that plank.

I used acrylic paint in Tuscan Teal, White, and burnt umber???? I forget. This took ALOT of acrylic paint. Sometimes I didn't like one of the planks and would redo it. Honestly, I would STILL be working on this project if my husband hadn't assured me that the table looked fine as a whole. I couldn't see the forest for the trees as I got sucked into the minute details of color blending on each and every plank.

I tried to pick a favorite plank, but I adore them all!

The screws looked better before this was painted. I wished I'd taken pics since I'd carefully selected screws with patina (benefit of salvaging screws and nails, much to choose from). The paint undid that in the final look. Originally I was going to use my mini Kreg jig to make pocket holes...but I've only successfully made four pocket holes. I only had two of the long side pallet pieces, I didn't want to risk ruining them. This was not the project to experiment with and I needed to make something quick for staging our home. The end table we were using prior to this wasn't flying with the realtor...seems the "bachelor pad" look isn't enticing to buyers. :) 

Fits perfectly under the TV. We still have to do something about those cords. Once we move into our new home we'll employ one of those solutions. For staging, we just creatively positioned baskets to hide the bulk of the cords.

And how it looks in real life. 

I am very pleased with how this turned out. Depending on how we arrange furniture in our new home we may not need this under the TV. It could easily be used behind a couch, as a plant stand, mud room oranizer, or if sealed properly, it could be utilized on the covered patio in the back. 


This frugally-made table is a win in our home! I'm encouraged to try more...and try out those pocket holes. Like Lowe's motto: Never Stop Improving,I've found my crafty-improvement-goal for the next few months: pocket holes.

Do you have a crafty-improvement-goal? 


Sunday, April 29, 2018

Pieced-Together Planter

Its that time of the year again where I renew my resolve to grow outdoor plants. 

My secret to success? Automatic watering system. 

And the secret behind that? Someone else, the HOA gardeners, maintain and program it. 

Yep, that's all it takes. hehe

All my plants are put in the front yard for this reason. Anything I put in the backyard dies because its entirely up to me to water it. I keep telling myself I'll install a simple timer-based watering system...but I've said it for so many years now it's become a joke. 

Thrift store finds: metal candle-holder and metal strainer. The total cost between the two is under $10. 

I just ADORE the stars pattern on this strainer. The stars are the only reason I bought this...just couldn't say no. 

The base was painted with diy chalk paint in Kingfisher Blue (Valspar) and stained with Espresso stain.(Click Here for the previous post on this look.) It's a color combo I've gotten a bit obsessed with lately. The buffet in the background has received the same look. I'll post about it eventually. Its currently in the basement and photos against raw concrete just don't do it justice.

A couple generous coats of spar urethane (for outdoor use) sealed this beauty up. Fingers crossed it weathers the spring rains and brutal summer light.
A short how-to on securing the top to the bottom:

1. secure wire to the top of the candle holder
2. thread wire thru the bottom of the strainer, use needle nose pliers
3. generously apply E-6000 glue between the two pieces
(not pictured) tighten the wires to pull the two pieces tightly together
I also added more glue to the tightened wire so it could
drip through the holes and add extra support
4. weight down and let dry completely

At this point in the project, it was too cold outside for flowers, but it looked fabulous against this arrangement inside.

You can kinda see some light distressing where the yellow peeks thru.

A coconut liner from the dollar store, potting soil, and a pansy plant complete the look. I can't wait to see this plant fill up this space! 

Can you imagine if this candle holder was alive in the Beast's Enchanted Castle? Those legs strutting around while lighting up the staircase or dancing along to "Be Our Guest?" I can see it.

Those blue legs make it a beautiful addition to the garden any time of the year, even on the brown lawn. The grass hasn't gotten the memo yet that spring is here...evidently, it's waiting for that last spring snow before it puts forth the effort. 

A trio of happy plants greets us by the front door. Pretty to come home too. There's still more plants to pot and add to the arrangement. We're off to a positive and hopeful start to spring flowers!


Happy Spring! 

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