Advent Calendar Made From Upcycled Shoe Organizer

Advent Calendar Made From Upcycled Shoe Organizer

ALTERNATE TITLE: Holy Crap It’s December 1 and I Haven’t Made My Advent Calendar Yet!

A more organized, on-the-ball blogger would have shared this project a couple weeks ago. But the truth is, I just put it together this morning in a fit of last-minute panic. I was inspired by this idea I saw last year and decided better late than not at all.

The most appealing part of this calendar is it uses things I already had around the house – perfect for a procrastinator like me. First, an over-the-door shoe organizer, which was holding a bunch of random junk.

Advent Calendar Made From Upcycled Shoe Organizer

Next, some paper treat bags I had in my stash. If you don’t have these you can easily cut holiday wrapping paper or scrapbooking paper down to size. (These aren’t the exact ones I used but you get the idea.)

Advent Calendar Made From Upcycled Shoe Organizer

Grab some old-fashioned clothespins (or tape if you don’t have any), tissue paper, and your advent gifts, and you’re ready to put it together. (TIP: You don’t have to have all your gifts ready on December 1. I usually buy things throughout the month and add them as I go.)

Oh, I almost forgot my favorite part! These FREE advent countdown tags from SimpleAsThatBlog.com. They’re absolutely adorable and Rebecca has done all the work so all we have to do is download, print, and cut. Thank you Rebecca!

Advent Calendar Made From Upcycled Shoe Organizer

Assembly is pretty self-explanatory. The treat bags or wrapping paper serve as a decorative front in each pocket. Then the advent gifts are wrapped in the tissue and placed in next. Lastly, the clothespin holds your tag in place. (I added a piece of washi tape to mine – couldn’t resist a red chevron.) And you’re done!

Advent Calendar Made From Upcycled Shoe Organizer

Advent Calendar Made From Upcycled Shoe Organizer

I’m really happy with how it turned out. And the best news is both of my girls came home from school today and said, “I love it!”

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A Garden Walk With Friends And Wine

A Garden Walk With Friends And Wine | laughingabi.com

Have you ever been on a garden walk that featured the grounds of only one garden? My friends and I went to one last weekend and it was so amazing I had to share it in this “garden crashers” post.

Before I hit you with the pics I have to mention the gracious home owner, Theresa Flamini, and the charitable work she and her family do. In 2004 the Flamini family decided that instead of purchasing gifts for each other they would pool their resources and purchase gifts for children that were spending the holidays in the hospital. This became a family tradition and over time grew into the creation of a non-profit organization, the Flamini Family Foundation. Through this holiday giving and other annual events, like the Summer Garden Walk, the foundation provides donations to over a dozen area hospitals and all of the Ronald McDonald houses of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana. Don’t you just love it when people with brains AND money put them together to help others? LOVE it!

So let’s take a walk, shall we? Here’s the end of the driveway where the garden starts.

A Garden Walk With Friends And Wine | laughingabi.com

And this is the beautiful gate you walk through to enter this slice of paradise. Everything after this is in random order because I kind of lost track of all space and time in the real world. It was partly because of the gardens and partly because of the wine. Did I mention there was a wine booth? More on that in a minute.

A Garden Walk With Friends And Wine | laughingabi.com

I could never capture all the details but here are some of my favorites.

A Garden Walk With Friends And Wine | laughingabi.com

A Garden Walk With Friends And Wine | laughingabi.com

A Garden Walk With Friends And Wine | laughingabi.com

A Garden Walk With Friends And Wine | laughingabi.com

A Garden Walk With Friends And Wine | laughingabi.com

I loved the shape of this tree. If anyone knows what it’s called please let me know.

A Garden Walk With Friends And Wine | laughingabi.com

Sometimes I would see something beautiful like this . . .

A Garden Walk With Friends And Wine | laughingabi.com

. . .  then look back after we had passed and see it in an entirely different way.

A Garden Walk With Friends And Wine | laughingabi.com

This is the patio off the side of the house. So big. So beautiful.

A Garden Walk With Friends And Wine | laughingabi.com

And I had to share this whimsical sculpture sniffing the flowers.

A Garden Walk With Friends And Wine | laughingabi.com

At the back of the garden you follow these stepping stones to an opening that looks like it leaves the property. (Does that path look familiar to anyone? Yep, it’s the same style I used here, but on a much larger scale.)

A Garden Walk With Friends And Wine | laughingabi.com

But when you pass through the opening you find this.

A Garden Walk With Friends And Wine | laughingabi.com

A Garden Walk With Friends And Wine | laughingabi.com

It was here that we decided we should sit and share a bottle of wine. Can you think of a better place? So we backtracked to the wine booth I mentioned earlier and Lisa of Aged 2 Perfection hooked us up with a couple bottles of deliciousness. I won’t admit how long we sat in that gazebo but I expected security to round the corner at any minute.

That was how we ended our day but I can’t finish this post without mentioning an incredible glass artist we met. Her name is Kim Jongsma from First Glass Gardens and she creates garden art from upcycled glassware. Here are a few samples of her work.

A Garden Walk With Friends And Wine | laughingabi.com

A Garden Walk With Friends And Wine | laughingabi.com

A Garden Walk With Friends And Wine | laughingabi.com

Did you spot all the different pieces she puts together? My favorite is the salt shaker in the middle of the last photo. If you’re not into flowers she’s got a huge portfolio of other sculptures to choose from and can even create custom items from your old glassware. You can just see one of her birdbaths in the corner of this shot below. Sorry I didn’t get a better pic.

A Garden Walk With Friends And Wine | laughingabi.com

I was just amazed by her creativity. It’s the perfect mix of upcycling, DIY, and garden art. You can see more of her work here.

So that was my perfect Sunday afternoon. Good friends, creative surroundings, delicious wine, and all in support of a children’s charity. Just doesn’t get much better than that.

Playground Climbing Wall Repurposed As Outdoor Daybed

Playground Climbing Wall Repurposed As Outdoor Daybed | laughingabi.com

Almost every night after dinner we settle in on the couch, turn on the TV, and chill. And almost every night after I get all snuggled in and comfy Josh asks me to go sit on the back porch with him.

Ugh!

It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that all the seating out there is so . . .  vertical. I want to lay down, stretch out, and put my head on a pillow. So I started looking around the house for a camping cot or air mattress I could use. I was stoked to find a roll-away bed stored in the basement. I bought it a couple years ago at a friend’s garage sale and my kids use it when they have someone sleep over. I didn’t remember to take a picture but it looks like this one.

NewClassic

Nothing pretty but it was free and portable so I lugged it outside one afternoon, threw a sheet and blankie on it, and laid down. And then it happened.

The clouds parted, the sun shone more brightly than ever before and a cool summer breeze lifted all my cares away. My daughter curled up next to me and closed her eyes too. I swear I even heard a unicorn trot by. It was that magical. Why hadn’t I thought of this before? There had to be a way to make this bed a permanent fixture on my porch. Had. To. Be.

My first idea was to keep the roll-away bed out there – maybe fix it up with some pillows or something. I asked my daughter’s opinion and she said it looked like we had a hobo living on our porch. Hmmm. Maybe not.

So I went online and found plans to build this perfect outdoor daybed by Ana White (minus the canopy).

daybed1 ana white

The plans seemed easy and the cost came in at a reasonable $225, so we made our list and started stashing away money for the materials. In the meantime we were busy tearing down the backyard playground since both of our girls had outgrown it. Then somehow in this pile of scrap . . .

Playground Climbing Wall Repurposed As Outdoor Daybed | laughingabi.com

. . .  Josh saw a daybed frame (and a workbench for the garage but that’s another post for another day).

Turns out the climbing wall was the same width and almost the same length as my hobo bed mattress. So with a few modifications it could easily become the base of the daybed and still support the back and arms from the Ana White plans.

Modification #1: Square off angled end and “cap” it with a 2×4 to match the other end.

Playground Climbing Wall Repurposed As Outdoor Daybed | laughingabi.com

Modification #2: Trim any overhang from the ends so there’s a flush surface to add the arms when we’re ready.

Playground Climbing Wall Repurposed As Outdoor Daybed | laughingabi.com

Modification # 3: Add legs using 2×4 scraps from the playground. This photo looks like there’s only one screw holding the leg in place but I promise there’s three more in the side.

Playground Climbing Wall Repurposed As Outdoor Daybed | laughingabi.com

And of course it needed power washing, sanding, and painting. I chose the same color we used on the porch ceiling since we had some leftover. Here’s a shot of the underside all painted out so you can see the finished construction.

Playground Climbing Wall Repurposed As Outdoor Daybed | laughingabi.com

And here’s the top without a mattress. Disregard the filthy floor.

Playground Climbing Wall Repurposed As Outdoor Daybed | laughingabi.com

Finally, all made up and ready for a lazy Sunday morning or after dinner relaxing.

Playground Climbing Wall Repurposed As Outdoor Daybed | laughingabi.com

Playground Climbing Wall Repurposed As Outdoor Daybed | laughingabi.com

Playground Climbing Wall Repurposed As Outdoor Daybed | laughingabi.com

Here’s what happened when I was trying to take these photos.

Playground Climbing Wall Repurposed As Outdoor Daybed | laughingabi.com

Playground Climbing Wall Repurposed As Outdoor Daybed | laughingabi.com

Oh and to protect the hobo mattress in our wet Chicago weather I bought a waterproof, zippered mattress protector at Walmart for around $19. This is what the packaging looks like when it’s being transformed into a robot by a 10-year-old.

Playground Climbing Wall Repurposed As Outdoor Daybed | laughingabi.com

For added protection I added a waterproof mattress cover we still had from when the kids were potty training. If the forecast calls for thunderstorms I bring the mattress in just to be safe but so far it’s stayed dry during our regular rain showers and humid days.

Playground Climbing Wall Repurposed As Outdoor Daybed | laughingabi.com

Next we plan to add a back and arms but we’re starting to rethink the design based on how we use the bed so far. I’ll be sure to keep you updated.

Playground Climbing Wall Repurposed As Outdoor Daybed | laughingabi.com

What do you sit or lay on when you’re outside. Do you need to be horizontal to relax too. Or is that just me?

Upcycled Knit Sweater Pillow Cover

I’m kicking myself right now for not taking a picture of my sweater before I chopped it into a million pieces. A found something similar to help you get an idea of how awesome this project really is. Kinda like this one but with no zipper or hood. And with a beautiful circle pattern knitted into the back. And longer. Other than that, they’re exactly the same.

Upcycled Knit Sweater Pillow Cover

It was originally from White House Black Market but I found it at a resale shop for $12!

Upcycled Knit Sweater Pillow Cover

I started out by simply wrapping the sweater around my down pillow insert and trimming off the sleeves. (I’m happy to report that the whole thing did not unravel into a fat pile of white yarn as I feared.) Then I attempted to sew up the holes I had made. It looked like crap. Like a sweater with the sleeves cut off. I had nothing to lose at this point so I just kept working. It had to turn into something eventually, right? After a couple hours of cutting, stitching, trimming, cussing, ripping out stitches, and drinking vodka, I came up with this.

Upcycled Knit Sweater Pillow Cover

Upcycled Knit Sweater Pillow Cover

Nice, right? See the circle pattern I was telling you about? I love the texture on my red leather chair. Yummy.

This obviously wasn’t a quick, easy project. Sometimes DIY is messy and complicated that way. Usually I refer to it as “a learning experience” but this time I’m gonna keep it real and call it what it was – a pain in the ass.