I cannot believe it's already halfway through January. This past holiday season flew. Thanksgiving sprang up on me, and then Christmas - I was still running around buying gifts a few days prior, which is really unlike me.
Now that it's a new year, I'm getting back to my old ways and getting myself organized ahead of time. There's so just so much unnecessary stress when you are running behind.
That being said, I've already been working on this year's Valentine's Day crafts! Wahoo!
And, this is a good one - Valentines finger puppets!
They are so simple and so cute - it's the perfect Valentine's activity for kids. Not to mention, I made them from scrap materials.
My son is a little obsessed with nursery rhymes - Wheels on the Bus, Hot Cross Buns, and most recently a song called "The Finger Family," which essentially uses finger puppets for family members. He sings it probably about 50 times a day.
The other day he took off all the marker caps and placed them on his fingers and started singing "Mommy Finger, Mommy Finger, Where are you?"
Before I chimed in with, "Here I am, Here I am, How do you do? (I'm not helping the obsession), I realized he needed some real finger puppets.
I thought about using photos and using our family - or just drawing some pictures with him - but then I thought I could tie it into a fun Valentine's Day activity.
For the finger puppets, it would have been super simple to use the fingers on a pair of gloves - but gloves are way too precious around here.
So, I used my go-to material - felt.
I was determined to use all scraps for this project - and I successfully did so. I didn't spend a penny.
Here are the materials:
I used just one sheet of felt for all ten fingers. I liberally traced my pointer finger eight times and my thumb twice.
I then cut slits in between each of the traced fingers, so I could quickly fold them up (to be double sided) after I hot glued them. This worked like a charm.
Here's a picture I quickly snapped of going over the outline with hot glue - and then folding it up.
Next, I cut off the excess felt. This took a little patience, since the glue/outline was inside. I roughly cut them and then ended up putting my pinky finger in each puppet and then carefully cutting off any additional excess.
I now had one hand ready to go :)
At this point, my son was begging to play with them. He was so excited about the finger puppets that I didn't have the heart to say no.
So, I gave him these five and decided to make a second hand.
After both hands were done, it was time to get creative with heart-shaped animals.
I used a small cookie cutter to get the shape of the heart perfect and consistent for all of the fingers. It worked out really well :)
Before I knew it, I had a frog, chicken, penguin, panda, fox, lady bug, fish, fox, bunny, and a dog/mouse that was originally a bear.
You can see in the top of the picture (below) that I used garage sale stickers to put some quick faces on the puppets while my son waited for the animals.
You can be as creative as you like with the animals. Aside from the cookie cutter, I cut the rest of the hearts freehand. One of those heart paper punches would have been perfect for this - but I was determined to make this a no-cost project :)
I also had some heart stickers lying around, but I liked using the card stock colors and patterns. I put some googly eyes on the lady bug - they were a little big - but it shows how you can incorporate some other crafty materials, too.
After, the animals were done, I hot glued each to a finger puppet - and voila! We had an Animal Finger Family.
My favorite is the chicken. It turned out so cute :)
Here are a few more close-ups:
For longevity, you could laminate the animals (before the googly eyes and before gluing to the finger puppet) either with a home laminator or using packaging tape.
I've used both, and each works well :)
And my son, well he LOVED these puppets. Needless to say, all we've been hearing is "Froggie finger, Froggie finger, where are you?"
And of course, we keep the song going :)
Want to see more? Check out our similar projects.
I’ve had garage ventilation on my mind for some time now. Between Eileen and I always doing projects in the garage, we produce a lot of fumes from painting and staining.
Cutting wood in there also throws a lot of sawdust into the air. Even when I work on the mower and other small engines in there, the smell of gasoline lingers.
On nice days when it’s not raining, we leave the garage door open and sometimes even put a fan to help exhaust the air.
However, this is not the ideal solution.
Many painting and staining projects would sit in the garage overnight filling the air with fumes, just to be aired out when the sun came up and we could open the garage doors.
Aside from the noxious odors sitting in the garage the next morning, it would also delay the completion of these projects.
A better solution had to be devised.
To add to the pressure, I recently acquired a snow blower for the upcoming winter snow storms, and that was bound to leave the garage filled with gasoline odors after usage.
So I put my thinking cap on and wandered around the garage looking for ideas.
I knew I wanted to set up some type of fan that would exhaust the air, so I was looking for areas in the garage that would be an ideal location.
In my previous home, I used to run a lot of computer equipment in the garage that would produce a lot of heat. I had researched garage venting options back then and settled on a small fan and vent that could be installed directly in the garage door (via a small hole that you cut).
This solved my problem of exhausting the heat, but had an unfortunate side effect. During the winter, the vent would let all the cold air in and drop the garage temperature below the freezing point, wreaking havoc on my paints and other liquids that were not meant to be frozen.
The garage door exhaust option left a bad taste in my mouth ever since, and I was determined not to pursue that direction again. Also, to properly exhaust the size of my current garage, I would need a much larger fan and hole to make the job worthwhile.
I finally settled on a plan. I would find an ideal venting location in the garage, and cut a large square hole in the wall (roughly 14”x14” in between the wall studs).
Then I would install self-closing shutter vents on both the interior and exterior of the wall. Finally, on the inside, I would install a powerful fan to exhaust the garage. The double shutter vents were going to be key in helping to keep the cold air outside during the winter.
I did a lot of research on exhaust fans and decided on one with built-in shutters. I purchased a 14” diameter fan capable of 800 CFM.
No wiring was needed with this particular model because it just plugs into an outlet. I already had a wireless switch ready for it too, so I could activate it from the other side of the garage. For the exterior wall, I went a 14” aluminum shutter vent.
With the hardware identified, I looked for an ideal location for the vent. The best location would have been above one of the garage doors, but for aesthetics, I didn’t want the vent to be visible from the street.
So I went with a wall that faced the rear of the house. It would be practically invisible but still serve its purpose.
Here’s the location I chose inside:
Here’s where the vent would exhaust outside:
Now to start cutting the hole. I used my stud finder to identify the location of the studs. Then using a jab saw (a special saw meant for cutting drywall) and a reciprocating saw, I worked on a hole for the vent. Here’s a picture showing my progress:
Above, you’ll the first layer I went through was the drywall. Then I had 2 layers of insulating foam. The came the white vinyl siding.
I left the siding intact for now while I awaited shipment of the exterior vent.
The cutout got a little rough at some of the edges, but it was not a big deal. The fan would cover all the edges, and hide any irregularities in my cut.
Next, I had to seal the top and bottom edges of the hole.
This was a necessary step to prevent the fan from venting air into the wall. I simply cut two pieces of 2x4s, inserted them in the top and bottom, and attached to the wall studs using some pocket hole screws (with the help of my Kreg Pocket Hole jig).
I put temporary hooks into the 2x4s to make it easier to maneuver them.
Here’s one of the 2x4s ready to be inserted:
Here’s a picture of the bottom of the hole, sealed in with the 2x4:
Next I inserted the fan to make sure it fit properly:
A few days later, the exterior shutter vent arrived and I resumed work on the project.
Cutting a hole through the wall meant that I had to be careful to make the exterior side water proof. I couldn’t just cut a hole in the siding, insert the vent, and call it a day.
To keep water from penetrating the siding, I needed to use J channel. This would allow me to create a frame around the vent that would overlap the siding and shield the rough cut edges from water.
Here is a picture showing 4 pieces of J channel cut to make the vent frame:
This was actually my first time working with J channel, so I had to do some research online to see how to make the cuts on the ends (important to prevent water from seeping in). I followed some great instructions on FamilyHandyMan.com (under the section “Install J-channel around the window”).
Here’s a picture showing the assembled J channel pieces wrapping around the vent:
Now came the fun task of working with the siding.
To properly install the exterior vent, I needed access to the wall underneath the siding, which meant removing several pieces of siding. This was a learning process as I went along (I did all my research, so I was confident in the task at hand).
With the help of a siding removal tool, I was able to easily detach some siding, and pull it away from the wall.
With enough of the siding out of the way, I was able to continue work on the hole.
To help with the waterproofing, I used some flashing tape (left over from my shed project) to seal in the edges of the hole.
Here’s a picture showing the flashing tape in action:
In the event that water did make its way through the siding, the flashing tape would ensure that the water couldn’t seep behind the exposed edges of the foam insulation.
Next, I inserted the shutter vent and nailed it in the wall studs. Here’s a picture showing some progress:
With the vent in place, I attached the J channel frame, overlapping the rough cut edges of the vinyl siding.
Here’s a close-up showing the finished outside wall with J channel:
Looks very professional, doesn’t it? It should be very water tight too.
Here’s a picture showing the vent from the inside:
I was nearing the end of the project.
I inserted the fan in the hole and was getting ready to screw it into the studs.
Then, I decided to check the vents on the fan to make sure they opened and closed properly.
They opened fine. Unfortunately, they had trouble closing. They would stick on the way down and not close all the way. This was bothersome because a partially open vent meant cold drafts coming in.
After some fiddling, I discovered that the hole I cut was too snug of a fit for the fan frame.
It was distorting the frame ever so slightly to cause the shutters to not close properly. If I pulled the fan about 2 inches out from the wall, the shutters worked fine.
So the solution was simple.
I would built a 2x4 wooden frame between the wall and the fan, to give the fan enough distance from the hole for the shutters to operate properly.
I literally spent only 10 minutes on this task. I chopped some 2x4s to length with the miter saw.
Then I attached them to each other with pocket hole screws to form a frame.
Finally, I used some lag bolts (countersunk with a forstner bit) to attach the frame to the wall studs. Here's a picture of the frame (the pocket holes are hidden on the other side):
At last, the fan could be bolted to the wall.
I pressed the fan against the 2x4 frame and made sure the shutters opened and closed freely. Then I attached the fan to the 2x4s with some heavy duty screws.
My garage vent was now completed. I stood back, admired my handiwork and then fired up the fan with my wireless switch.
As the fan speed increased to full, both the inside and outside shutters opened to exhaust the garage. The fan was not that loud either (it was barely audible outside the garage).
Here’s a picture of the mounted fan (powered on) from the inside:
Here’s a picture of the outside showing the vents open with the fan on:
I’m very excited about our new garage vent. I already used it this past weekend with great success.
We had a mild snow shower (about 4 inches), and so I broke out the snowblower to try it out.
As predicted, when I finished clearing out the snow from the driveway, and put away the snowblower in the garage, the still warm engine started to stink up the garage.
I engaged the new exhaust fan for a few hours, and the garage was back to normal.
I can’t wait to see what the fan does when the garage is full of sawdust in the air.
Total cost of this project was around $150 and was collectively about a day’s worth of work.
Want to see more? Check out our similar projects.
With the holidays over and those playrooms bursting with new toys, it's about time to start sending thank you notes.
I'm strong believer in the importance of thank you notes - when somebody puts the time and thought into buying a gift, they should get a special, handwritten note in return.
With my son still being a toddler, I'm doing most of the writing for his gifts; however, he still helps make the cards - and I try to make them as creative yet simple as possible.
Today, I'm sharing four simple cards. It's well-suited for toddlers as well as older kids - older ones can do more of the tasks themselves.
You could also use these ideas for any occasion - not just thank you notes :)
1. Cut-Out Cards
This type of card is my favorite and the simplest for younger kids. First, use a cookie cutter to trace a few shapes on card stock. We used stars, hearts, Christmas trees, and gingerbread people.
As far as paper, I always use card stock because its thicker than construction paper. So when the paint is layered on, it doesn't bend. I also like the colors of card stock better than ordinary construction paper. They are brighter and more fun, which definitely ups its refrigerator-worthyness.
Then, simply cut the shapes out for your child to paint on.
You can also do a variation of this - which is great for younger kids: Have your child paint all freely over a piece of card stock. Once dry, you can trace the cookie cutters and cut out the shapes.
I did something similar with the below Christmas trees. Using my toddler's painted paper, I cut out strips and shaped them into trees.
After, glue your cut-outs onto another piece of cardstock and fold into a card.
Your child can continue to decorate - my toddler used q-tips and paint to further decorate the trees. You could also use stickers or ribbon - or scribbled marker works too. :)
2. Potato Stamps
Always looking for new sensory play activities, I decided to give potato stamps a try. It was way easier than I thought it would be - and my son had a ball.
This might just be our new go-to card.
First, cut off the top of the potato. Then, press in a cookie cutter of your choice.
I thought only metal cookie cutters would work; yet, the plastic heart cookie cutter (below) went into the potato without a problem :)
After that, use a knife cut the excess from around the cookie cutter, slowly moving your knife around the border of the cookie cutter.
You are left with an awesome stamp that's easy for kids to paint.
I got a little creative and did a double-sided stamp on this potato - with a star on one side and a heart on the other.
This encouraged my son to be more involved - getting messy and flipping the potato to see the shapes.
This could also be a fingerpaint activity or a paintbrush activity.
3. Painters Tape Letters
Use painters tape to spell out a word - such as "Thanks" and then have your child paint freely.
When the paint is still a little tacky, remove the tape.
Definitely use painters tape for best results. I lazily used electrical tape this time and it peeled terribly.
4. Fingerprint Balloons
Handprint, footprint, and fingerprint cards are usually not my favorite.
It's usually too structured for my little one, but we got a really cute card with a few single fingerprints.
We turned them into letter balloons which my toddler loved.
Simply put a little of each of the colors you are using on a palette or piece of paper, and have your child dip their finger into each color and then make the print.
The number of prints will depend on the number of letters in the word.
Once dry, use a sharpie to write on the letters and draw the balloon knot and string.
A few tips...
My son had a great time making these. Arts and crafts is one of his favorite activities, as it's special time we spend together. He also takes such great pride in giving his cards to his special family members, which is super cute :)
Not to mention our family members love the creativity involved and appreciate the time we took to make them something special.
The cards definitely make the fridge :)
Want to see more? Check out our similar projects.
Posted by Eileen
The end of year is always so bittersweet - reflecting on all of the amazing memories, but grateful to move on from some others.
One of the best things this year was our blog. We have always loved sharing our home projects with others, but documenting them as been amazing!
We even started including some of our more crafty endeavors.
Creativity definitely inspires more creativity.
My love for organization inspired a few of Ash’s garage projects this year. While, Ash’s constant repurposing “junk” has rubbed off on me.
I love that we continue to inspire each other.
Here are our best DIY projects from 2016. In true New Years Eve style, here’s the countdown:
#10 - CD Tower to Pantry Shelf - This CD tower was ready to be kicked to the curb, until Ash had the brilliant idea of using it for built-in pantry storage.
He cut a hole into a pantry wall, used a cool little gadget to search inside, knocked more of the wall, and inserted the tower.
#9 - Ice Cream Sundae Gift Box - Wrapped in a pretty little box and adorned with ribbon, this Sundae Gift Box was a hit!
Much cheaper (and cuter) than ordering from the store, it has everything you need to make a sundae.
It’s a perfect gift for those who need a little happiness :)
#8 - Built-In Bookshelf with a Window Seat - Hands down, this is my absolute favorite. In just a few weeks, Ash turned a boring old wall into a complete dream.
Not only does this built-in beautifully store all of the books I have collected, but it’s bright, airy, and gorgeous.
Not to mention the window seat, which is aesthetically pleasing and the cabinets below are awesome storage.
#7 - Chalk Paint Makeover – The before and after on this one is shocking! My dad’s jaw dropped, and he is usually only impressed with Ash’s projects.
This was my first experience with chalk paint, and I am sold. 2017 will definitely be bringing more chalk paint makeovers.
#6 - Picnic table – Ash blew me away with this one too – as he built this in ONE day!
The table top and bench seats are made of composite decking - a durable, safe material that’s easy to clean, and is easy on the eyes.
We’ve had it in the yard for about five months now, and it looks just as great as it did on the first day.
#5 - Kitchen Cabinet Makeover - Our kitchen got a major makeover this year, as we gel stained the cabinets, painted the walls, and installed tile backsplash.
Yet as far as cost goes, you can’t beat it.
I was hesitant to take on such a big project, but I started small (with the bathroom vanity) – and went on to completely change our kitchen’s look.
#4 - Building a Shed – When Ash told me that he was going to build a shed, I laughed - I thought he was joking! He only had a few DIY projects under his belt, and building a shed is like building a house!
However, his motivation, attention to detail, dedication, and love of learning resulted in this beautifully built shed.
I am still in awe.
#3 - Wedding Milestone Basket– This sweet wedding milestone wine basket has been on the trend this year!
It’s a creative, personal gift, and I’ve done all the work for you – as I’ve included all of the printables I used for free!
It’s so much fun to make that I’ve been waiting for more friends and family to marry, so I can make more :)
#2 - Green Rain Barrel – After watching me lug gallons of water down the backyard to water my plants, Ash created an eco-friendly rain barrel.
Using a trash can, he made a system that collects rain water to reuse. Thus, eliminating my trips back and forth and saving good water!
#1 - Folding Workbench –Tired of working on the floor, Ash finally had a chance to build a workbench of his own – which was a dream of his.
Always thinking of how to save space, he came up with a floating design that doesn’t compromise any structural integrity.
Through being featured on sites such as Life Hacker and Make, it brought tons of visitors this year, thus earning our number one spot.
Well, that’s all, my friends.
Wishing you a very happy new year!
Hi! We're Ash and Eileen, and we are sharing our home project stories with you. From crafty projects to home maintenance to more ambitious DIY endeavors, we hope our stories inspire you to check a few things off your project list! :)