August 2012 - Rachel Teodoro

How to create the perfect pair of jeans at HoH

I'm guest blogging today at one of my favorite blogs,
House of Hepworths.

Come see me there as I discuss how to CREATE the perfect pair of jeans.

ps-it's easier than you think!

Guest Posting at The Southern Institute

I'm guest posting over at The Southern Institute today.
Come join me!
I'm sharing a tutorial on how to help your kids design, make and sew their own handmade plush stuffed animals.

Hello Navajo! Giving new life to a foot locker

I am so excited to be introducing you all to Dora from Dora the Restorer.
 I have admired Dora's work from the moment she brought it into my favorite shop, Persnickety's Awesomeness Emporium.

Dora is amazing!  What you see, is an amazing piece of handcrafted furniture.
What you don't see, is the {sometimes ugly} unloved piece of furniture that is headed for the trash pile.
Dora has a gift for seeing the potential in what old cast offs really could be.
Take it away Dora!

 I love giving new life to old furniture. 

One of my favorite things to upcycle and repurpose are military footlockers because they are built to take a lot of abuse (which I like to call character) and they are a great size for so many uses. 

This one even came with the inside tray. 

Footlockers can be found inexpensively at yard sales and thrift stores all over the country, and paired with a thrift store frame, it might be the statement piece you are looking for.

Before picture with supplies

Navajo has always been a timeless style for cabins and lofts. I love the old fashion turquoise color of the traditional Navajo style, and it goes so well with the modern contemporary decor.

 I started by putting 1 x 4's on the bottom of the footlocker so the screws would have something to grab onto when I put the casters on. After a light sanding, priming, and painting, it was time for the finishing touches. 

Footlocker - supports for casters

I added the stencil to the front, then sanded again lightly and topped it off with antiquing glaze. The stencil came from a book I ordered off of Amazon titled "American Indian Cut & Use Stencils" by Ed Sibbett, Jr.

Footlocker and Frame - primed and painted

For the top, I hot glued a piece of 2" thick foam to a piece of 3/8" plywood cut to fit the lid. Then I took batting and wrapped it around the plywood and secured it with hot glue, and did the same with the fabric. 

Foam attached to plywood top

Fabric wrapped around foam and attached to plywood

I clamped the cushion to the lid to keep it in position, until I could get it secured with screws (from the underside of the lid). Last step, was adding the casters, and then I moved onto upcycling the thrift store picture frame into a coat rack.

Plywood clamped to footlocker to attach with screws

I loved the style of this thrift store frame -- a little bit Mexican, a little bit Navajo. I started with the same paint steps as the footlocker - sanded, primed, painted and antiqued. I cut a piece of 3/8" plywood to fit inside the frame and painted it in "desert sand" craft paint from Americana. I chose a sunburst paint design to mimic the carvings on the frame. 
Mirror frame - primed painted and antiqued

I started out by drawing lines down the center in both directions and measuring off of those lines. I applied the painters tape from corner to corner, and painted one color at a time.

Background - Center Lines
Background - Lines measured from Center

  The small mirror in the center is from Ikea, and the hooks were salvaged from another project. I layed the mirror frame in the center of the plywood, and made pencil marks for the sunburst design. I repeated the taping and painting steps from above. After the painting was complete, I screwed the mirror to the plywood from the back and attached the hooks. The final step was installing the plywood into the frame.

Sunburst design painted on back and mirror frame
Finished frame with coat hooks and mirror

This is such a fun, easy and inexpensive project (this was less than $50) that can be customized to fit any style, and takes very little DIY skills. Don't let these character filled footlockers end up in landfills and burnpiles, think of the stories they could tell.

Finished Footlocker and Frame

Supply List:

  • Military Footlocker
  • Sandpaper
  • Stencil
  • Thrift Store Frame
  • Ikea Mirror
  • Coat Hooks
  • Fabric, batting, and 2" Foam -- I used "Panama Wave" from Waverly for the fabric
  • 3/8" Plywood
  • 1 x 4's
  • Casters (set of 4)
  • Paint -- I used "Backstroke" from Valspar, and the accent colors were all craft paints.
See?  Didn't I tell you she was ah-mazing!  Who would have thought?!
Dora exclusively sells her creations at Persnickety's Awesomeness Emporium.  You can also follow her at her brand new blog ReUse, RePurpose, Upcycle.

Thank you so much for dropping in and sharing this amazing transformation Dora!
Add caption

Custom TOMS shoes tutorial

Just in case you missed my monthly submission at The Southern Institute.

Do you have a crafting bucket list?  

You know, a list of things you want to make or do or try. 
Maybe you want to learn how to knit a hat or learn how to screen print your own fabric. 

Making custom TOMS was on my crafting bucket list, so when I found a pair at a garage sale for fifty cents, I knew I couldn't pass them up.  Because really, for fifty cents, the risk isn't too great in case you mess them up or in case you really hate them.  TOMS are quite popular in our area, and while it seems like all the kids have at least one pair of TOMS, no one is going to have THIS pair of TOMS.


These TOMS are just a little big for my daughter, but the good thing about kids is that they grow, so sometime in the near future, these shoes will actually fit her.  There weren't any holes in the canvas, but that's a hazard of canvas shoes, so if there were, I would have taken a second to patch them up before starting their makeover.


 Several months ago the nice people at the Plaid company sent me a HUGE box of Mod Podge goodness.  One of the things in the box, was this Mod Podge sampler pack.  It had fabric mod podge and outdoor mod podge.  Both of which were perfect for this project since I was using fabric and the shoes would be worn outdoors. 

You will also need: Scissors, a foam brush, and fabric.  I was able to use scrap fabric that I already had on hand.  You won't need more than a fat quarter.


 I started off by stuffing the TOMS shoes with newspaper to help them hold their shape.


Then I laid the fabric down on the front part of the shoe and generously cut around the fabric.  I wanted to make sure I had enough fabric cut to be able to tuck under the seams.

After I made sure I had enough fabric to cover the front of the TOMS, I brushed on fabric mod podge to the front of the shoe.  I pressed the fabric down making sure there weren't any bubbles or folds.  I also turned down the fabric by the seam making a nice clean edge.

 Once the upper fabric was in place, I then used my fingernail to go around the bottom edge of the shoe.  This left an indent that I used as a guide to cut the fabric along the base.

 Once the fabric at the base was cut, I pressed the edges down and applied outdoor mod podge to the outside of the fabric and around the edges.

 Here is a picture of the upper part of the shoe drying.  You could stop here, but why?

 I placed a larger section of fabric down on the upper part of the shoe.  I used the natural TOMS shoe shape as my guide and cut the fabric generously around the shoes natural seams.  I then added fabric mod podge directly on to the shoe and smoothed my fabric into place.

 I did the same trimming around the lower base edges of the shoe and also made a small slit cut in the middle of the shoe where the elastic is.  I tucked all of the seams under, including the middle elastic seam area and covered the whole outer fabric with outdoor mod podge.

 Here is a picture of the shoe with the upper part of the shoe made over.  Notice the "v" shaped cut out by the elastic.

I let the shoes dry overnight before using mod podge pearlized glaze.  The glaze was easy to use, and I was hoping it would be another barrier to keep the shoes sealed.   

The glaze actually left a really cool sheen to the shoes, not quite glittery, not quite matte, but pearlized.  Imagine that?!

I wanted to add a pop of color, so I sewed on these large red vintage buttons to each side.

Best part?  My daughter loves them and they only cost me fifty cents to make!

Aren't these custom TOMS super cute?!

Check that off my bucket list!


Garage sale finds Friday

Welcome to another week of Garage Sale Finds Friday where I share with you some of my favorite garage sale finds of the week.
This week, I scored big time on some vintage awesomeness.
I hit several barn sales and had so much fun digging for treasures!

First up, I found this vintage Schwinn bike.  It's rusty, but it's awesome!
Funny thing, this week everything seemed to come in 2's.  
I found another vintage Schwinn bike just like it, which is how I was able to negotiate this bike down to just $5!  It's pretty rad don't you think?

I walked past this old Pepsi crate twice and was about to leave when I spotted it hiding under a table.
$2 is all it took to get this big guy home.

I've always been partial to vintage license plates.  
I sorted through a huge pile to find these older plates.
The best find was the '57 Washington plate.
At $1 a piece, I couldn't pass them up!

I was so excited when I saw this pendant light for sale.  
Brand new with the tags on it!
It reminds me of something out of the Restoration Hardware catalog don't you think?
Guess how much I paid for this bad boy?
$2, that's it!

Along the side of the road, this gentleman had lined up half a dozen chairs.
This chair in particular spoke to me.
It was sturdy and had really cool age to it already.
I noticed later that the chair's seat had been mended with a strip of wood.  
I made that strip just a little less obvious by painting a strip of black.
Now it looks like it was totally meant to be that way.
I call it my racing stripe chair.

I bought this vintage screen door from the same garage sale as the racing stripe chair.
I saw it and just had to have it.
How often do you see screen doors at garage sales?
Well, this day, I actually saw two of them!
See, I told you everything came in two's that day.

This screen door was in the process of being re-screened (I did the bulk of the work re-screening it), but that new screen made all the difference.  The whole time I re-screened the door I sang Taylor Swift's song "Our Song".  Yep, the sound of a screen door slamming just screams long slow summer days for me.
I picked up the screen door and the chair for $15.

Super fun vintage finds, am I right?!
What did you find this week at garage sales?

Should you buy a Dollar Store pregnancy test?

Several months ago I wrote a little post about the Dollar Store.
If you missed the series, you can find it here:
original post
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
wrap up

Seems like that little Dollar Store post struck a chord with many of my readers and it's safe to say that that post went viral on pinterest.  

One of the most talked about Dollar Store buys from my list has been the pregnancy tests.
I thought I would answer the question that I have gotten often,
"Should I buy a pregnancy test at the Dollar Store?"

I'm a mom of three, I understand how expensive pregnancy tests can get when you are actively trying to conceive and are anxious for positive results.  
I did a quick search to find out what the going rate for pregnancy tests at our local drugstore (Walgreens) was.  Most are $13-$20.  As my husband used to say "you are peeing on money." 

Let's start by finding out how pregnancy tests work.  Thanks to the lovely people at for this easy to understand answer.

How do pregnancy tests work?

All pregnancy tests work by detecting a certain hormone in the urine or blood that is only there when a woman is pregnant. This hormone is called human chorionic gonadotropin (kohr-ee-ON-ihk goh-NAD-uh-TROH-puhn), or hCG. It is also called the pregnancy hormone.  

hCG is made when a fertilized egg implants in the uterus. The amount of hCG rapidly builds up in your body with each passing day you are pregnant.

So, pregnancy tests detect the hormone hCG in your urine, if you are pregnant, you get a positive result, if you are not pregnant, no hCG is detected, therefore, giving you a negative result.  Sometimes, the test is taken too early, and there isn't enough hCG in your urine to detect a positive result.  False negatives happen, false positive results however, are quite rare.

Some home pregnancy tests are more sensitive then others at detecting hCG in your urine stream. hCG is measured in mIU's, so I did a little research to see how sensitive each pregnancy on the market is.  The lower the mIU's the more sensitive, therefore, the test will detect pregnancy earlier.  Thank you to baby hopes for compiling this easy to read list.

Test NameLowest hCG detected
BabyHopes 10 mIU Generic Pregnancy Test Strip10 mIU    Buy Here!
AimStrip (aka AimStick) Pregnancy Test Strip20 mIU    Buy Here!
BabyHopes Generic Pregnancy Test Strip20 mIU    Buy Here!
Accuclear Pregnancy Test25 mIU
Answer Early Result Pregnancy Test25 mIU
Clearblue Easy +/-25 mIU
Clearblue Easy Digital (1 piece, blue cap)25 mIU
Clear Choice w/ Cup25 mIU
Confirm 1-Step Pregnancy Test25 mIU
CVS Early Result Pregnancy Test25 mIU
Dollar Store Brand (mini-strip, cassette, & midstream)25 mIU
Early Detect25 mIU
e.p.t. +/- Test25 mIU
e.p.t. 1-Step Digital Test25 mIU
e.p.t. Certainty Digital Test25 mIU
Equate +/- (Wal-mart)25 mIU
Equate Pregnancy Test (Wal-mart)25 mIU
Fact Plus Midstream Pregnancy Test25 mIU
First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test25 mIU
One Step Be Sure Pregnancy Test25 mIU
Right Aid Pregnancy Test25 mIU
Target Brand Pregnancy Test25 mIU
Walgreen Midstream Pregnancy Test25 mIU
Walgreen Digital25 mIU
Fact Plus Cassette40 mIU
Clearblue Digital50 mIU
CVS "Early Result" Cassette Pregnancy Test50 mIU
Drug Emporium Brand Pregnancy Test50 mIU
early Pregnancy test50 mIU
Walgreens Cassette Pregnancy Test50 mIU
If you can see, the Dollar Store test has a sensitivity of 25 mIU's, which is fairly competitive with some of the other bigger more trusted brands that you will find yourself paying nearly $20 for!
What surprised me is that one of the brands I thought would be more sensitive, (ClearBlue), isn't.  ClearBlue Digital tests run around $14.
I've had several comments from my readers telling me that they have had success with Dollar Store pregnancy tests.  Most people were quite pleased with the test, and the price doesn't hurt!  
I would say that Dollar Store pregnancy tests are well worth the $1.
If you find yourself in the market for a pregnancy test, save yourself some dough and head to the Dollar Store.
While you are there you can satisfy your craving for potted meat.
Only kidding!
ps-I have had some readers tell me that Wal-Mart offers their pregnancy tests for $.88.  This may be a good deal for some of you, but for me, it's worth a few extra pennies to NOT have to step into Wal-Mart!

Teenage cell phone contract

My oldest son Aidan, feels like he is the last kid on earth without a cell phone.  

Next month he will be 14.  He's starting his freshman year of High School in just a few weeks.
Aidan is a great kid.  He loves making music and plays guitar but his passion is being a drummer. 

Aidan rockin' out on drums with some other kids to Kryptonite at The Swiss in Tacoma

Aidan is starting to get busier with school activities, he played baseball last year, he's taking on leadership roles at school and has been playing on our worship team at church and will be playing on the youth worship team during youth group.  

While I know that Aidan isn't the last kid his age without a cell phone, I do realize most kids his age do have access to their own phone.  

Texting is becoming the primary means of communication with kids now, and while we don't want technology to rule our life, we realize that we need to embrace what it has become in our culture. So, with that in mind, we decided to let our son get a cell phone for his 14th birthday.

My husband and I try to parent very consciously, so making a cell phone contract where we laid out all of the rules and expectations seemed like the most logical first step.  

 I am not one that likes to reinvent the wheel, and really, the internet has nearly everything, so I assumed I could find a perfectly written, well fitting teenage cell phone contract out there somewhere in the great world wide web.  

I did not.

So, my husband and I sat down together, spent several hours brainstorming, writing and rewriting, then reviewing the details with our son, then did some more rewriting, and came up with the following cell phone contract.

Since I was searching for something like this on the internet, I know many other parents might be too, so I wanted to share it with you.  Please pin this and share it with others.  Feel free to copy and paste the following contract and make changes to it to fit your family life.  You may click on the title and it will take you to a google document page where it is written, and then request that I send you the file.
teen cell phone contract
I know that having a cell phone to use is a privilege. I understand that my parents love me and want to keep me safe. My parents respect that I am becoming a young adult and want the privilege of having the use of a cell phone. With that in mind, I agree that:
  1. My cell phone must be turned off by my bedtime and placed in an agreed upon location downstairs.  It is my responsibility to be sure the cell phone is being charged when necessary.
  2. During family meals, my cell phone will be turned off or silenced and in my pocket or placed away from the table.  I will not check texts or take calls during meal time.
  3. I will practice proper etiquette when using my cell phone in public places, and be conscious of how my usage affects those around me. I will make sure my phone is turned off or silenced when I am in church, restaurants, or other quiet settings, and I will not place or take texts or calls during those times.
  4. I understand that having a cell phone is a means of communication, and is not a replacement for actual face to face interaction with my friends and family members.  Therefore, when I am with others, I will make the people I am with my priority.
  5. I understand that I am responsible for knowing where my cell phone is and for keeping it in good working condition.
  6. I will obey all rules my school has regarding cell phones usage on school grounds.
  7. I will never text while driving, and will not ride in a car with someone who does.
  8. I will not use my cell phone to take pictures or video of nudity, violence or other unlawful activity.
  9. I will not use my cell phone for malicious purposes, i.e. bullying, spreading rumors/gossip, etc, nor will I send text messages that are vulgar, obscene, or sexual in nature.  I understand that such messages are both highly inappropriate and potentially illegal.
  10. I will alert my parents if I receive suspicious or alarming phone calls or text messages.
  11. I will alert my parents if I am being harassed by someone via my cell phone.
  12. I understand that my parents can go through the contents of my phone at any time, with or without my knowledge.  I agree to surrender my cell phone immediately to my parents if asked.  I will not delete my texting history without permission, and I will fully cooperate in showing my parents the contents of my cell phone, including contacts, pictures, videos, text messages, etc, stored within.
  13. I will always respond to my mom or dad’s texts/calls as soon as possible in the given situation.
  14. When at home, I will use the home phone to make calls. I understand that I do not have unlimited calling and that each call is charged by the minute.  I will be responsible in my cell phone call usage when outside the house.
  15. I understand that my cell phone may be taken away for failing to complete school assignments or homework and for failing to maintain a sufficient grade point average, as defined by my parents.
  16. I understand that my cell phone may be taken away for disrespectful or disobedient behavior, including (but not limited to) back talking, inappropriate sibling interactions (i.e. fighting, hitting, name calling, etc.), and failure to complete responsibilities at home when asked or required.
  17. I understand that failure to follow and respect any of these rules can result in the loss of my cell phone for any length of time determined by my parents.

So what do you think?  We are new at this whole cell phone thing.   Do you think we left anything out?

Please feel free to use the above, but it's bad ju ju if you don't give credit where credit is due.  Feel free to share it with your schools, shout it from the rooftops, print it out and pass it out, just make sure you credit so that people know where to find it.

UPDATE: My son now has a smart phone. See how we updated the teen cell phone contract here.


printable thank you cards

My baby boy turned 7 last week!
Where has the time gone?!

We celebrated with a family birthday party and a friend birthday party.
All that partying left us with some thanking to do.

I think writing thank you notes is a very important thing to teach kids how to do.
Most of my thank you notes are fairly girly, and I wanted Owen to understand a bit about how to actually write a note, so I was thankful when I stumbled upon these {free} printable fill in the blank note cards from Family Your Way.

Tip Junkie also provides a collection of 18 free printable thank you cards that are worth checking out.

This owl from Blue Finch Studios is one of my favorites from the list.

This self mailing notecard from Real Simple posted on Skip to My Lou is pretty awesome too!

Do you have any good free printable thank you cards you want to share with us?
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