Love Makes a House a Home: Painting Upcycled Wood Signs

For Valentine’s Day, I wanted to create a sign and gift that would be relevant all year long. So, I designed a sign with a quote that I’ve seen floating around in various capacities.

LoveMakesahousea home

How true is that? And how relevant is this for this time of year, where love is the emphasis, but should truly be the emphasis all year long.

I created the text and image in PicMonkey and then used Cricut’s Design Space to apply my design and create my template.

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Before I did any painting, I prepped my upcycled wood. I sanded it a bit and then made sure it was clean of any debris. I then measured and painted where I wanted the different colored words to be. So, I used Dixie Belle Paint’s DropCloth for the white-ish secondary text and Barn Red for the Love and heart images.

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I love that you don’t need much paint when using Dixie Belle paints. I did several smooth strokes of each color, which was probably 2 coats in all.

Once it dried, I applied the vinyl template. I did the positive part of the template, meaning I applied the actual words, and then I will peel off later to reveal the color beneath. I prefer using Cricut for my template because I know it will stay. This step can be the most laborious and tedious part, but I promise, the end result is so worth it. When applying the template, be sure to lay it as flat as possible to avoid any air bubbles. Air bubbles can lead to bleeds and gloppy messes.

When the template is applied, go ahead and paint over everything with the color you choose for the base color. This color will be the main color of the sign, so be sure it contrasts enough without overpowering the underlaying colors. I chose a basic black chalkboard paint, so I can draw or write on it later with chalk.

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Paint 1-2 coats of paint, making it as smooth as you can. Alternatively, since the rustic look is in, don’t feel like it has to be perfect so you can adjust it later. Once everything is just about dry, locate the letters and take a pointy tool to start lifting the letters. I do this step slowly before it’s completely dry so that it has some give. Sometimes when it’s totally dry, it can be solidified, making it difficult to release the underlying letters.


Once you peel off the letters, you should see the underlying colors that you painted in one of the first steps. As mentioned, if you want to make it more rustic, feel free to hand sand the sign along the edges. I was planning on doing this, but I ended up loving the end result so skipped the sanding!

And there you have it! A rustic farm-house style sign that reads Love Makes a House a Home!

Full Disclosure: Dixie Belle Paints sent products to facilitate this craft. As always, opinions on NKT are my own.

Partnering with Dixie Belle Paint Company

I’ve always been a crafty person, but started covering different projects last year. I engaged on several DIY hashtags, which resulted in a cool new partnership. Since I’ve been having a professional/personal existential crisis of sorts (in between some unexpected family medical stuff,) so I love that this new partnership with the Dixie Belle Paint Company is giving me a new look on things!  I’m working on finishing up some photos and videos on a few tutorials, but I wanted to share this fun new emphasis I’m working on for the blog. Be sure to check out my Insta Stories; I’ve grouped various DIY projects under DIY life, so be on the look out.

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Printable Gratitude Advent Calendar

It’s December 1st and the holiday season is officially underway.  Today’s the day that many people break out their advent calendars and start the countdown to Christmas. Inspired by other advent calendars and the need to instill gratitude and giving thanks for my kids, I created a Gratitude and Giving Thanks Advent Printable Calendar.

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I recognize that there are so many wonderful calendars floating around promoting kindness and the importance of the holiday season. I wanted to create something that would give my kids ownership for their actions. While I absolutely believe in the importance of acts of random kindness, I think showing gratitude and giving thanks is of equal importance.

We’ve done every kind of toy and candy calendar out there, but in my house, I think the significance of Advent got clouded by all the milk chocolate and daily gifts of tiny Legos. Gratitude is an extremely vital virtue that seems to be an afterthought in our age of entitlement. I curated acts of gratitude that can be done with the whole family throughout the entire holiday season.


I researched various organizations that are kid-friendly or that can help achieve the end result as described in the calendar. For the red underlined items I will provide the links to the organization’s website for addresses below. I think showing gratitude is a relevant act for the whole year, but for this calendar, I filled in suggestions until the end of the month.

If you’d like to print out this calendar, click here for a larger PDF of the file above. Feel free to share this printable!

December 1: The Gift of the Magi
December 3: Give a Book
December 9: Big Brothers and Big Sisters
December 10: Kids That Do Good
December 12: Holiday for Heroes 

I will be cutting out each day of the calendar to tuck into my kids’ Advent Calendar, right next to their little morsels of candy. I hope you join us on this journey of showing gratitude throughout the holiday season. If you do, be sure to share on Instagram and use #givethanksgiveback

While researching for this calendar, I found this especially thoughtful quote that moves me on so many levels.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.  – Melody Beattie

Happy Holidays! 

Free Thank You Printable: You’re The Balm

School just ended and we had so many things to celebrate with our wonderful teachers. Littles had a lot of help with his transition into preschool. I was so grateful that these wonderful educators always take such great care of my boy. I felt we could go a bit further than a gift card or generic card. So, I combined some fairly inexpensive beauty items that I absolutely love with a catchy phrase, and voilá!

 I made a super easy thank you gift that conveyed my thanks for multiple teachers and aides who took care of my special needs preschooler all day.

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For this gift, I bought multiple flavors of EOS lip balm and lotions. I then bagged and added a ribbon and a tag. I really think the tag turned out super cute for something I whipped up in just a few minutes. End result: You’re the Balm thank you gifts! EOS balm and lotions can be found at Target and Bed Bath and Beyond. And when they’re on sale or if you have a coupon, it makes them that much sweeter.

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I noticed that there’s a few new flavors and loved being able to incorporate them into my gift. I definitely want to try the tangerine medicated lip balms for myself. As for the lotions? I can’t get over the easy to grab and portable packaging. The scents are fresh and sweet; the only thing about these lotions is that I’d love to see even more scents!

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And these You’re the Balm thank you gifts can be used beyond teacher gifts! I shared the printable on Facebook and my friend used it for her friend’s bachelorette and bridesmaid’s gifts. When it comes to giving small beauty gifts to show your gratitude, the possibilities are endless. And because I’m all about sharing the love, please download the printable here! If you do use it, don’t forget to Pin it or comment below or on Facebook and tell me how you used it!

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Preschool Non-Candy Valentines: Twistable Crayons + Free Printable

At my house, we have approximately 17 tons of candy leftover from all of the various holidays. With Valentine’s Day class parties looming, I knew I wanted to do a non-candy treat for the preschooler’s class party. But other than candy, the only other options seem to be plastic tchotchkes, and who needs any more tiny plastic toys?

I opted to do a more practical Valentine’s treat: twistable crayons.



When checking out the discount store for something else a few weeks ago, I spotted these packs of twistable crayons on the clearance rack for less than $1. For my older guy, these crayons were like currency in Kindergarten. Biggie was also known to trade crayons with his best buddies. They did so much coloring, these Twistables were a fun change. For preschoolers, many of whom can barely hold regular crayons without breaking or dropping them, these packs of twistable crayons seem like such a fun alternative to candy and toys.

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Since the personalized candy bag tag is so hot on the DIY circuit, I knew I wanted to do something along that vein. But, again, these packs of crayons were such a find because creating the Valentine card/tag would be so easy. 


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First, I measured the inner label in the crayon pack. I considered making a label that would cover both sides, but knew that would be redundant. I opted to create a tag just for the front. The front label measured about 2.5 x 4, which is just about the same size as a classic valentine’s day card. 



Next, I headed to Picmonkey to create a “pun”ny card to slide over the front label. Since the crayons are all about color, I went with “You brighten my day, Valentine!” And as a play on the twistable crayon, I created a tag that says: “You’re a twist above the rest, Valentine!”

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Since Littles doesn’t write anything other than circles yet, I had big brother help me personalize the crayon packs with some name tags. We punched out red card stock and wrote the kids’ names in silver Sharpie and slipped it into the back. We closed the pack and sealed it with a decorative V-day-themed washi tape. Names are blurred out to protect the innocent <3

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Since my guy’s preschool class is rather small, as in less than 10 kids, buying one of those Valentines class packs with 25 cards would be a waste. So, I’m very happy with the way these crayon packs turned out. Instead of candy or tiny toys, we have crayons that my preschooler’s classmates will (hopefully) use again and again!

Hurray for practical goodies!



And since Valentine’s Day is all about sharing the love, I thought I’d share the tags with you. I grouped the 12 tags together for you to download and print for your personal use. The tags are about 2.5 x 4 in. and would be perfect for a pack of crayons, markers or anything colorful!  p.s. I eyeballed measurements, so the layouts and sizes are wonky. Of course it is…

Enjoy this freebie! If you use this, I’d love to see how your projects turned out. Make sure to Pin or share on IG and tag me! I’m jenrab on all social media outlets.

St. Patrick’s Day Treats from Family Fun Magazine

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Not sure if any of you caught any leprechauns, but we sure didn’t.  We did, however, enjoy creating some fun food goodies.  St. Patrick’s Day and food go hand in hand in our house.  

I got a kick out of Family Fun’s Leprechaun-inspired treats.  How cute are these tiny hats and donuts?!  We’ll be doing some fun after school creations after school today!  

 Leprechaun Hats




English cucumber
Sliced cheese


Celebrate Saint Pat’s with a crunchy cucumber treat. Cut 1-inch sections of an English cucumber. Halve them lengthwise and lay the pieces flat on a plate, as shown. Trim a cucumber brim for each hat and set it in place. Finish with a sliced cheese band and buckle, attached with dots of hummus or dip.



Leprechaun Doughnuts





Chocolate sprinkle:

O-shaped cereal
Dark or white chocolate
Colored sprinkles

 Cinnamon sugar:
O-shaped cereal
Cinnamon sugar


Lure wee visitors this Saint Patrick’s Day with O-shaped cereal disguised as tiny doughnuts. Prepare each variety following the steps at right and let dry on waxed paper. Add to the fun by placing them in a miniature box (get our template at

Chocolate sprinkle:

Dip the tops of O-shaped cereal into melted dark or white chocolate (the tines of a fork work well for this) and cover with sprinkles.

Cinnamon sugar:

Over medium-high heat, dissolve ½ cup sugar in ½ cup water. Let it cool. Dip the O’s, a few at a time, in the syrup, then toss them in a small bowl of cinnamon sugar.

Play Kitchens Promote Imagination and Creativity for Girls and Boys

I was planning on writing about something completely different today, and then I saw this question posed on Twitter:

I was caught off guard since my boy, like I’m sure many of yours, enjoys play cooking.  As we finish our remodel and completion of rooms, we’ve been on the hunt for a kitchen that’s “just right.”  But the reason I was caught off guard was, since when did imagination and creativity become a gender thing, because isn’t that what role playing, such as kitchen play, promotes?

Maybe it’s because I choose to ignore such conversations, but I never realized that play kitchens were considered “girl toys.” Quite honestly, I wish it didn’t have to be that way.  Ample research has revealed that exposing kids to the kitchen benefits them in the long run.  Whether it’s a play kitchen or a real kitchen, let the kids explore, learn and be creative.

Ever go to a toy store where the demo play kitchen is set up?  It never fails, the play kitchen, just like a real kitchen at family gatherings, has some sort of magnetic energy that lures people and kids.

While we’re at it, let’s talk kitchens.  Here are just a few kitchens that are perfect for cooking up a good (pretend) feast:

The Educo Gourmet Kitchen is made of wood with completely non-toxic, child-friendly paints and finishes.  I love that this kitchen features bright, bold and modern, a contrast from that gender-specific color palette.

The Deluxe Kitchen Play Centre from Melissa and Doug is the kitchen in question that always lures my kid in, whenever we visit our local toy boutique.  It’s made mostly of wood, features a myriad of controls, buttons, shelves and accoutrements.  Basically, like the marketing material implies, this kitchen has everything including the kitchen sink.

Another kitchen that’s made of wood that I love is the kid’s play kitchen from IKEA.  Like their furniture, it boast straight lines, euro design and most importantly, the kids love its “realistic” features.  Best aspect, though, is that its in the $100 range, with plenty of options to add personal touches.

Speaking of personal touches, what about DIY play kitchens?  I can’t think of a more sustainable option that involves interaction from parent and kids than creating a play kitchen from repurposed furniture.  This one, made by a set of grandparents, is probably my idea of the holy grail of DIY play kitchens.

Do you guys have any thoughts on kitchens? Any faves? Opposed or in favor of boys/girls playing in the kitchen?

DIY: Animal Pumpkin Stencils from WWF

Ever wonder how people carve such intricate Jack-o-lanterns and pumpkins?  Me too!  I’m a classic pumpkin carver myself, but have always wanted to be adventurous and do a cool design.

Good news, you don’t have to be an artist to carve super-cool pumpkins.  You can be the envy of the neighborhood with these fun and easy to follow stencils from the World Wildlife Fund.  You can download these free PDF stencils of interesting animal-inspired designs like a tiger, butterfly, a rhino and more.  Show your support for WWF while turning heads for Halloween.

Carving pumpkins is always a fun family activity, albeit a messy one, but the end result is so worth it!  If you carve any of these designs, be sure to share!

As always kids, take care when handling sharp objects!