Turn Your Child’s Artwork Into a Custom Stuffed Animal with Budsies

When my son, Zack (now 8 years old), was in preschool, he hated to draw, color and paint.  I tried different methods to get him to embrace his artistic side – Finger paints! Glitter!  A box of 120 Crayola crayons! – but nothing mattered.  He’d draw/color/paint for all of 2 minutes, and then go right back to crashing his Hot Wheels through Lego towers.  As a person who thrives in anything creative, I felt like a failure as a mother.  I may or may not have cried about it in front of his teacher and pediatrician.

Moms, you know how it goes.  It doesn’t take much for us to feel like we are failures, does it?

But as it turns out, I shouldn’t have been worried.  About a year ago, Zack developed a concept that he calls a Zack Bot.  It’s a little flying robot with long arms and a big Z on his body.  He’s drawn Zack Bot books, puts Zack Bots on every scrap of paper that he can find, and creates “special edition” bots for his friends – there’s a Josh Bot and a Kat Bot, which each have different super powers.

Bring your kids' artwork to life with Budsies #bestgifteverHis artistic vision was delayed, but it did eventually show up.  You have no idea how excited I am that Zack has finally embraced his artistic side!

So when I heard that there was a company – Budsies – that turned children’s artwork into plush, stuffed animals, I knew that I had to get one made for Zack.  After looking at their website, I was really impressed with the way they had turned other kids’ drawings into stuffed animals, down to the last polka dot and crazy detail.  Kids have some super imaginative visions, and all of the animals were really well executed.

Of course, I couldn’t order a Budsie for Zack and leave out Emma.  She drew her ideal stuffed animal, which was kind of crazy.  I was worried that it would be too much (or too abstract) for Budsies to replicate, but they assured me that it was just fine.

Bring your kids' artwork to life with Budsies #bestgiftever

The process is that you order your Budsies through their website and then send in the artwork.  If your child needs help coming up with an idea, Budsies offers templates that they can use as a jumping off point.  To submit the artwork, you can take a picture of it and email or text it to the company or just upload it through their website.  They let me know that they had received the artwork and that it looked great.  In about a month, I got a shipping notification that our Budsies were on their way to us via USPS Priority Mail.

I didn’t tell the kids that their Budsies were on their way, since I know opening that box would be an amazing surprise for them.  And it was!

Bring your kids' artwork to life with Budsies #bestgiftever

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Five Easy Ways to Remind Yourself to Change Your HVAC Filters

There are few things more boring, or easily forgotten, than performing routine home maintenance tasks.  Mowing the grass, resealing grout, replacing caulk around the windows.  Yawn, right?  Well, as tedious as those tasks seem, they are very important to the way your home physically operates.  A properly maintained home helps keep your energy costs down, which in turn (if we are being totally honest) means you have more money left over for decorating. Woot!

I am notorious for conveniently forgetting routine tasks, like changing smoke detector batteries before they start beeping at me or the HVAC filters before they are disgustingly dirty.   I’m pretty good at remembering things that happen once a month, like giving my dogs heir heart worm preventative on the first of every month. But if something is supposed to be done once every few months?  My brain refuses to participate.  I mean, y’all saw my dirty HVAC filters a few months ago.  They were gross! Thank goodness I usually use the Filtrete Allergen Defense MPR 1000 filters that help to reduce airborne allergens in my home and clean indoor air by capturing dust, pollen and lint from passing through the system.  That at least makes me feel a little bit better when I forget about them.

Since I’m trying to do my best to turn over a new leaf and save us a little money by properly maintaining an efficient heating and cooling system, I have come up with a system to help myself remember to perform certain tasks.  One of my friends (shout out to Sara!) just told me it cost her $7,000 to replace an old HVAC system – you could buy a lot of paint with that money, y’all!  Replacing her system wasn’t dirty filter related, but there’s no reason why I should send mine to an early grave by ignoring it.

Just in case you are in the same boat as I am, I put together a list of a few ideas I had for setting up a system for these types of reminders:

Set an Alarm

I tend to rely on my iPhone for just about everything.  I need it to make calls, send emails, search the Internet, do some pinning and tell me if its going to rain.  Now, I think it needs to remind me to change my HVAC filters, too.

There are a few ways you can set such an alarm on your phone.  With either an iPhone or an Android, you can download a free app called Any.Do (I LOVE this app, y’all).  You can schedule a task, like Replace HVAC Filters, every three months (the recommended time between changing filters) and set an alarm to go off.  When the date and time you selected arrives, a chime and a notification will pop up on your phone.

Five Easy Ways to Remind Yourself to Change Your HVAC Filters

Any.Do even has a web app now which makes it even easier to schedule tasks.  I use it for reminders for all sorts of things.

Five Easy Ways to Remind Yourself to Change Your HVAC Filters

Jot it Down

As much as I love my Any.Do app, I’m a paper calendar type of girl.  I know, I know.  Make fun of me all you want, but writing appointments down on a paper calendar is pretty much the only way that I’m going to make it there at the right time.  I’ve tried – and failed – several times to convert myself to a digital calendar on my phone/computer.  Each time, it ended badly.

Filed Under: Create Your Decor, Giveaways & Product Reviews 1 Comment

How to Clean Windows Without Chemicals + a HomeRight Steam Machine Plus Giveaway

This giveaway is now closed and a winner has been notified.

I can never seem to keep my windows clean. Between the pollen and the rain and the kids’ dirty handprints, the glass gets dirty about 10 seconds after I clean it.

But, have you ever noticed how much brighter your home is with clean windows?  It makes a world of difference!

So, with that in mind, I do try to clean my windows when I am bored enough or trying to avoid something else enough to actually do it (you feel me on that, don’t you?).  I try to avoid using chemical filled cleaning supplies where possible, but it’s been difficult finding something non-toxic that works as well as Windex does on my windows.

Well, until now.

How to Clean Your Windows Without Chemicals

I have started using the handheld portion of my HomeRight Steam Machine Plus (Amazon affiliate link) and a clean microfiber cloth to clean my windows, and the results are amazing.

Filed Under: Giveaways & Product Reviews

DIY Condiment Caddy + a BLACK+DECKER Autosense Drill Giveaway

This is the time of year that my family loves to be outside (in the shade with a cold drink).  We have some of the best neighbors on Earth, and we spend most of the weekends hanging out together around the grill, just cooking and laughing.  We switch houses often and all chip in with food and supplies for each meal…which means I’m constantly carrying condiments, paper plates, and drinks up and down the sidewalk.

I needed a better system.

Luckily for me, BLACK+DECKER swooped in and sent me a new toy that was just itching for a project. So, my DIY Condiment Caddy was born.

DIY Condiment Caddy

My new BLACK+DECKER Autosense drill promised to help me be able to complete this project with the help of it’s automatic clutch, which would keep me from over driving screws and cracking my wood.  As a DIYer who is not the world’s greatest carpenter (or even sorta the world’s greatest carpenter), split or cracked wood from over tightening is one of my big problems.  As you can tell from my decorating, I just don’t know when to stop.

Filed Under: Create Your Decor, Giveaways & Product Reviews, Project Gallery 54 Comments

Cooling Off While Chillin’ Out

There aren’t many more days left in the year before Texas again starts to resemble the surface of the sun.  Now, when I was a kid living here, I really don’t remember it being so hot that I felt like I was melting.  I mean, I feel like that now, but I don’t think I felt like that then.

But not my kids.  They take after Tom, who is really bothered by “the day star” as he calls it (think about it).  I’m sure he also thinks that he also wasn’t affected by heat when he was a kid, but I’m gonna play the “Yeah, but you didn’t grow up in Texas” card.  But, our kids are growing up here, and it doesn’t take too long before they are red faced, whiny and ready to come inside.  We’re talking like 10 minutes, y’all.

This year, we have a new little tool in our summer arsenal – a misting fan.  It’s totally going to be easier for us to cool off while we are chillin’ out!  Corny?  Yep…but totally true.

Battery operated misting fan from Arctic Cove - You can use it on a 5 gallon bucket or with a water hose.  So perfect for those hot summer days!

Y’all, this isn’t just any misting fan – it’s the 18v Bucket Top Mister from Arctic Cove (available at Home Depot). This mister is quite possibly the end all, be all misting fan in the history of the world.  That sounds overly dramatic, but it’s pretty amazing.  In fact, there are 3 reasons why it’s going to rock our summer.

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Living With It {Plus a Paint Stick Giveaway}

Whenever someone asks me for paint color advice, I always have the same reply:  Pick the one that you are immediately drawn to.  Paint it on the wall.  Live with it for a few weeks.  If you don’t love it after those few weeks, then you need to pick another color.

How to Know When You've Chosen the Wrong (or Right) Paint Color

Well, I recently had to take my own advice.  I’ve lived with this crazy yellow wall for a few weeks.  It was perfect on the swatch.  Perfect on the sample that I painted.  But on the whole wall?  Negatory.  It was blinding.

So, I picked a few more yellows to try out.  I lived with those samples for a few days.  I hated them, too.  Yellow was out.

I knew that when I painted the wall bright yellow, I was taking a risk.  And risks in decorating are risks worth taking – even if it doesn’t work out in the end.

I yet again grabbed my HomeRight EZ Twist Paint Stick (Amazon affiliate link) and yet another can containing a risky color of paint.  It took me an afternoon of rolling, but I immediately knew that this had risk paid off.

Filed Under: Decorate Your Home, Giveaways & Product Reviews 108 Comments