Quick and easy shower gift: DIY plywood art

I recently hosted a baby shower for my middle sis, Megan. We are so excited to meet my new nephew any day now. Eek!

As part of the shower decor, I wanted to create a focal point for the cake table that could also double as a gift my sister could take home with her. This is what I came up with (these are baby’s initials):

Plywood-baby-shower-art

This project was super quick, easy and absolutely free, considering I already had on hand all the materials I needed! You could do this for a baby or a bridal shower, as the initials would work for a couple, too.

I started by cutting out a square from an old piece of plywood that was stored in our garden shed. Then I sanded all the sides really well.

Cutting-and-sanding-plywood

For years, the only power saw I would attempt to use was my beloved miter saw. I’ve since gotten pretty comfortable using this skill saw. I have no idea why I shied away from this tool before (aside from the ever-present thought of cutting off my fingers). It’s my new BFF. It cut this plywood like buttah.

Next I gave the plywood a coat of Rust-Oleum® Universal®* in Weathered Steel. After that dried, I applied bands of Chevron FrogTape®, spaced about one and a half inches apart. If you have only regular painter’s tape on hand, you can do stripes or create a chevron shape using a craft knife. (Tip: Cut the chevron shape in your painter’s tape first before applying it to the board or it will scratch the finish.)

Chevron-Painter's-TapeI brushed on the second layer of paint, which was a sample pot of turquoise chalk paint I got at a Haven conference a few years ago. Any spray, chalk or acrylic paint should work, though. I chose to paint the sides of the piece, too, to get rid of those noticeable, raw plywood edges.

Painting-chevron-stripes

I sealed the piece with a coat of Rust-Oleum Satin Clear Enamel. To add the letters, I cut them out on gold adhesive vinyl using my Silhouette electronic cutting machine. If you don’t have one of these nifty tools, you can use my tracing method and simply fill in your letters with gold paint or a permanent marker.

Plywood-baby-shower-art

DIY-baby-shower-sign

I apologize I didn’t get very good photos of the finished product. I was trying to host a shower at the same time and only had my phone on hand to take the pictures. #bloggerfail

What do you think of my no-spend shower decor and keepsake?

* Affiliate links are provided in this post for your convenience. 

Dirty secrets of DIY bloggers

Last week, I had the privilege of attending another Atlanta-based Haven Conference for DIY bloggers.

There’s so much I love about this conference: rubbing elbows with famous DIYers and thought leaders; connecting with my favorite brands; gathering information from other bloggers to help me grow my business; and making new friends in the process of it all.

Kelly-Edwards

Chatting it up with HGTV star Kelly Edwards

Jon-Acuff

Enjoying an inspiring keynote speech from Jon Acuff

LaZBoy

Taking a break with LaZBoy (Yes. They’re wearing upholstery-fabric suits.)

Darla-DeMorrow

Enjoying a balmy Altanta evening with fellow author (and Pa. gal) Darla DeMorrow

But there’s something way more special to me about Haven than all these amazing opportunities. And it wasn’t until this year’s conference that I actually realized what it was …

It’s the dirty-secret sharing.

Let me explain.

We DIY bloggers work very hard – as in blood, sweat and tears hard – to bring our readers the very best we have to offer.

We try to produce clear, concise and professional-looking tutorials like what you might expect to see on TV or in magazines. And we painstakingly stage our photographs the same way.

We do all this because we know you’re looking for attainable inspiration that you want to replicate in your own homes. Plus we know we’re in competition with a lot of other media for your attention. So we’ve got to bring our “A” game, all the time.

But the reality is that, even as hard as we try, the life of a DIYer is fraught with unpredictable insanity. And that’s why I love Haven so much … because I love other DIY bloggers so much! These folks embrace the crazy with me. 

They refresh me and reassure me that I’m not alone. They empathize with me when I’m in my backyard with gnats stuck to my sweaty face, crying as my vision of a spray-painted work of art turns into a dumpster-bound nightmare.

Not only do we DIY bloggers share similar stories of heartbreaking, tragic project fails, but we also find ourselves in synonymous, somewhat scary (yet later hilarious) situations while picking up Craigslist furniture or chasing down deals.

When these other bloggers share their crazy DIY moments with me, I feel connected to them. (Plus I enjoy the fact that they make me laugh so hard I almost pee my pants.)

So my big take away from Haven this year is that I want you to experience this connection, too. In short, I want you to read a post of mine and feel like you might pee your pants. 😉

Historically, in my rush to get a blog post out with its pretty pictures and meticulous how-to details, I’ve often left out the “good stuff.” I’ve been guilty of omitting the crazy moments that weren’t pretty – or may have even been interpreted as downright insane. Next time, I’m going to include those moments.

Why? Because I think it makes us feel good when we realize we’re not the only crazy people out there. 😉

This post is dedicated to my Haven roommate, Shanna, who’s got the juiciest Craiglist stories I’ve ever been told. 

Blogging-buddies

From left to right, Shanna, Christy, me, Ashlynn (Christy’s daughter), and Debbie

How not to ‘let yourself go’ after marriage + 2 free movie tickets

My husband and I have been married 15 years. We got married in the year 2000, which was the best decision ever because we never forget which anniversary it is. 😉

Our-wedding-pic

He’s my lover, my best friend, my unfair advantage … all that mushy stuff. And I truly do love him more today than ever before. I have to admit, though, that keeping the passion alive after 15 years of marriage can be a challenge at times. With kids, work, volunteer activities, hobbies, etc., the last thing I’m thinking about is whether or not I’ve freshened my lipstick! But I also know that we both desire to have a partner who makes an effort to “fan the flames” and one who we’re proud to have standing next to us at parties.

So despite the fact that what I really want to put on every morning is paint-splattered yoga pants and a sweatshirt, I try to take the “me” time I need to look and feel good. I also encourage my man to do the same.

To give you a recent example, my husband was lamenting about how, after a few years, he was still using a raggedy, old grooming kit and getting a poor shave as a result. He said he didn’t understand why he still hadn’t taken the time to buy a razor that worked well for him.

When our time is consumed with the demands of work and family, taking care of ourselves often takes a back seat. And since I knew my amazing husband values teaching our daughter to ride a bike and our toddler son to count to 10 more highly than buying a new shaving kit, I bought the razor for him myself.

Schick-Hydro

It was more than a razor purchase, though. It was an affirmation from me that he was worth taking care of himself.

Schick-Hydro-closeup-2

So how, with all the daily pressures of life, do we not “let ourselves go” after marriage? Today I thought I’d share my top three strategies for keeping a marriage sizzling hot!

  1. Make grooming a priority. I realize a regular shave may seem like a small thing in this department – that is, until you’ve got a few kids hanging around your ankles. Then it may become the biggest feat you hope to accomplish in a day. Yes, there are times when sweatpants and crazy hair are acceptable. But I’m not talking about those moments. I’m talking about the regular, everyday you. Somehow we manage to show up at the office or church looking civilized. Why do so many of us give ourselves permission to no longer care how we present ourselves to our life partners? Shouldn’t we go the extra mile for that most important person?

To help motivate us, Schick® has a “Make It Epic” campaign going on right now to encourage us to make taking care of ourselves and spending time together with our partner a priority. Here’s how it works:

  • Buy. Purchase two participating Men’s Schick® or Edge® products in a single transaction from now until July 10, 2015. Retain your receipt.

Schick-Quattro

  • Snap. Draw a star (*) next to the qualifying items on your original, dated receipt. Take a clear photo of the entire receipt and text it to 811811 with the word SCHICK by July 10 for validation. (Text message terms apply.)
  • Redeem. If validated, you will receive a text back with a code valid for a movie certificate for two admissions (up to $20 total value) to see any movie! Click here for more information about this promotion and for idea starters.
  1. Watch your mouth. Yelling … disrespectful words … just plain crazy talk … I’ve been guilty of them all. The problem is that it makes me look like, well, a crazy person. Think about it this way: Just as we wouldn’t show up at the office in paint-splattered sweatpants, we probably also wouldn’t go running around the place yelling at the top of our lungs, “Can’t any of you animals throw your lunch trash in the garbage where it belongs? This place sucks!” In other words, we should make an effort to speak in a manner that would prevent us from being embarrassed if a visitor was standing outside our front doors listening. Think more classy, less crazy.
  2. Honor reasonable requests from your partner. Wearing the perfume or hairstyle your spouse finds attractive is about showing you love and care for him. Making an effort to dress nicely when you go to dinner and picking up after yourself around the house will show the same. Small gestures that cost you a little time and effort can have big payoffs with regard to how your partner feels about you and the relationship.

Just like a garden, a marriage requires regular care and feeding to produce beautiful results. What can you do today to help #makeitepic?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Schick® Men’s Shave. The opinions and text are all mine.