DIY Built-In Bookshelf and Desk {Thoughtful Thursday}

Originally, I just wanted something in this awkward corner of my living room. It's the only thing in the room that causes it not to be completely square. This little joint out is created by the master closet and it's kinds fun, adding a little character to the room. Every week when our small group would come to our house, it bothered several friends. "What are you gonna put on that wall?" Ya know, since the rest of the room was covered in pictures and such.

Thoughtful Thursday

Here was my attempt to decorate this space. A cute dresser friends gave me and I painted, my awesome clock I'd been ogling and my hubs got me fr Christmas, and some other random decor items I had around the house. It worked for a while but seemed so minimalism compared to the height of the room and the scale of everything else in the room.  

I always loved the built-in shelves I've seen on Pinterest. But this wall is 12' tall and about 5' wide. I wasn't sure my hubs would be up for such a *big* change. I proposed the idea and when he didn't totally hate the idea, I sketched out what I was thinking and showed him several image ideas on Pinterest. 

At the end of the summer last year, I suggested maybe it could be my birthday present. He agreed 😀

A friend of ours visited from out of town and agreed to help Matt build my monstrosity over the weekend he was staying with us. Eek

There were a couple things that came up throwing a wrench in my plans but we worked around them. The main one was the carpet. We have hardwoods in our living room but the former owner chose to put carpet down with with a tack strip and a one foot of hardwoods showing around the entire room. We had never taken up carpet and discovered the take strip was installed with huge nails leaving big holes in the floor. We weren't ready to deal with holes in the floor every few inches so we chose to build the shelve up to the height of the baseboard. We added [mostly decorative] feet to the front of the shelf that we had intended to use on the bottom of the girls' dresser

In my mind I worked from the top shelves down. I knew I wanted bookshelves up top. Then I wanted a desk-like space for our printer and working on homeschool or other stuff. Below that, I wanted plenty of space to store paper, our laminater, and larger items like completed scrapbooks. Just recently, I caved and bought a cardboard paper divider to keep them sorted and from getting all torn up in a basket. Ideally, I wanted a wooden divider but I was never going to pay for one. After lots of finagling, the cardboard one fit perfect and does a perfect job. 

Yes, I chose to sort our books by color. Most of these books are on the same or very similar topics and have already been read or are only used for reference. Plus, I like color and makes the shelves more decorative since I ended up with more books to fill it than first expected and less room for other cutesy things. 

built in book shelf desk paper divider

A year later, having never posted the original post, I'm still loving this built-in. It adds a decorative aspect to this otherwise odd corner of the living room, stores all our book that would be in the attic if not here, makes them easy to read and or lend, makes printing, laminating, and working on things in general so much more practical.

Recently, I gave up on finding an affordable wooden paper divider the size I wanted and went ahead and bought a cardboard one from Target. With 15 slots, it has enough space for the kids construction paper as well as my printer paper, card-stock, and laminate sheets.

I am a huge fan of when norms are thrown to the wind, thinking up what could make life easier, and doing what works for your family. This giant shelf may not be everyone's design dream but it works so well for us!

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DIY Deck Curtains: What You’ll Want to Know {Thoughtful Thursday}

About a year ago I made over our back deck. Our deck is a great size but we weren't utilizing it well.

Thoughtful Thursday

Along with redoing an old bakers rack to use as toy storage and a gross looking outdoor table, I also decided I wanted to make some of the awesome curtains outdoor curtains everyone was pinning. You know the ones: drop cloths, pvc pipe, and clip hooks. I went to town, collected all my supplies, and got to work {with the help of my taller and wiser hubs}. I even took tons of pictures with the intent to share them with you because they were super easy to make! ...except apparently I never did. hehe

Well, in short, I still love the curtains. Or at least the idea of them and how I've recently adapted them to work better for our family.

DIY Outdoor Curtains what you'll want to know, a year later

Now for the longer explanation.


  • 4 khaki drop cloths
  • 4 packs of curtain rings with hooks
  • Rope
  • PVC pipe {I used really small/cheap pipe}
  • Pipe caps
  • Bracket pieces {choose based on size of pipe- it will likely be on the same aisle}
  • Screws
  • Nuts
  • Drill
  • Scotch guard spray*


  1. All the tutorials made it seem easy to just cut the pvc pipe, slide on the curtain hooks, hang with something, and clip on the drop cloths. Expect. No.
  2. The cutting itself was easy but the length I needed meant that the skinny/cheap pipes I bought ended up having these widened pieces on them because I had to add another piece to make it long enough. No big deal.
  3. Except the loops on my curtain hooks weren't large enough to make it over that piece. I had to be super strategic about which side I put how many rings. I wanted to be able to pull the curtains closed to block the sun but I also wanted to be able to pull them all the way open to be decorative or let their be more air flow.
  4. Then the hooks were too big to slide easily and would get snagged on the ditch parts of the siding where I was having to hang the pipe around the top of my deck.
  5. Screwing the U brackets in wasn't super easy either. It is hollow behind the siding making it cave in when you press the drill down trying to create the hole for the screw or pressing in the screw.
  6. We used 3 brackets on each side attempting to keep it from sagging.
  7. We did a quick-fix and added a bolt behind the brackets making the rod set further from the wall to help with the snagging problem.
  8. My drop cloths were a little too long between the combination of where I could install the rod and the hanging down clips so I had to finagle them over and over again to fold over some of the curtain to raise them slightly. I would lay them out on the floor, fold them while measuring to make sure they were straight, space the hooks evenly, and then thread the pipe through, trying to remember how many rings when on each side of the pipe bulge.
  9. We did the same thing on the east and west side of the deck and left the south side open- allowed us to see the yard more easily when the kids were playing, the sun didn't really come onto the deck from that direction, and trying to figure out how to do that one was really hard with the stairs to the off-centered right side.
  10. Simple pipe caps will keep bugs from getting in your pipes and/or making nests in them.

DIY Outdoor Curtains what you'll want to know DIY Outdoor Curtains


  • Over the first few months we learned a lot about those idealistic curtains that no one told you in their tutorials...
  • They don't stay clean
  • They're hard to take up and down to wash
  • They sag. Adding more brackets was the first answer I came up with but that creates problems again, opening and closing them easily.
  • They fly in the breeze, not blocking the sun
  • They get hooked on the roof/in the gutters in strong wind/rough weather
  • If you tie them back so they don't fly away in rough weather, they mildew {I used scotch guard after taking them down and washing them one time and that helped a little}
  • You can't see your children if you leave them hanging down long past the railing of your deck

After lots of annoyance, I ended up taking them down for nearly 6 months of this last year if not more because I was tiered of asking my husband or risking my own life to fish them off the roof, take them down to wash, re-hang, opening and closing them based on the weather or if I needed to see my kids playing, etc. When spring hit this year I had forgotten most of the frustration and was okay with not having the pinned version of what I was hoping for. I adapted the curtains to fit our needs.


I yanked down the entire rod on the east side. We rarely go into the backyard first thing in the morning and even if we do, the sun isn't that bad

I used all the hooks from that side to reinforce my new plan to have just the west side curtains

I only used the bolts from that side as well and doubled the spacing away from the wall to help the curtains pull open and closed easier

I still used 2 panels on the west side but I spun them on their side and made the long length run horizontally. This helped in a few ways--

  • it left the railing exposed so I could see the kids while they played under the curtains
  • the sun was still blocked during the heat of the day
  • they weren't flying as crazy because the length was almost cut in half
  • it makes the curtains look fuller, with lots of scrunch
  • I can just tie them in the middle and their still cute

DIY Outdoor Curtains issues

I hope this helps you see all the pros and cons about the reality of this project and what its like living with them. 😀

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Homeschool “World View” {Thoughtful Thurday}

Thoughtful Thursdays on as Jules is going

I have looked for a world map for our homeschool room since we moved in. I want my kids to have firm grasp on the tough fact that the world does not revolve around them or even around the US. We are just a small part of all that God created {and the Earth being just a small part of all that}.

Here is the newest addition to our room:

New World Map in our School Room

I love the names of all the countries. Although it's not exact with boundaries outlines and such I really like the way they all seem meshed together while still identifying other countries and their general locations. This vynal wall art and is 64 inches by 39 inches which covers nearly an entire wall. <3

The mailing condition wasn't the most quality, 2 sticker sheets wrapped in bubble wrap and then a center clear wrap with the shipping label on it. It ended up having a natural bend down the middle due to regular ware and tear of shipment. Thankfully it didn't seem to damage the stickers.

2 giant wall sticker pages

The installation of the map was somewhat tricky. Although it's not a thousand little pieces/stickers, it was also not a single sticker making it slightly difficult to apply to the wall. There was no real rim or reason for the placement of the stickers on the 2 large sheets of wall stickers. It was sort of just chopped in any way to make sure it all got on to 2 pages. 

Template for adhereing the World Map Decal how-to adhere the world map decals

It also came with no instructions for the best way to adhere the world map to the wall. It did come with an image of how the map should look when it is complete but it was only about as big as a pencil, making it really difficult for my husband to read the smaller countries. Matt just kinda made up his own template to try to make sure it was centered where I wanted it on the wall. He also pulled up a larger image online and then used a level when applying each sticker to reassure their placement was correct.

the only direction is came with

The quality of the vynal map was as high as you can expect of vynal stickers. I am sure, in time, they will begin to peel away from our textured walls but for now, they look marvelous. When my oldest daughter 1st say it she ran up to feel it because she thought her daddy "painted all those word on there." I think it is a great addition to our school room!

Here's a look at our newest school room arrangement:

school room redo our school room redo World Map in School Room

map was compensation for an honest review of the product
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Easter Neighbor Gifts {Thoughtful Thursday}

Thoughtful Thursdays on as Jules is going

If you've been here any time at all, you know we LOVE a good excuse to do something fun for our neighbors.


This week, my kids were wanting to make "Easter baskets". I'd already been considering making something to celebrate summer for the neighbor kids around us who are almost out for break. With summer for school-aged kids still over a month away, we thought we'd try to do both mixed together.

Bucket-O-Summer contents bucket, shovel, bubbles, sunglasses, jumprope, germX, chalk


Contents we used:

from the Dollar Tree

  • bucket and shovel
  • germX {pack of 3 Christmas themed- I pulled off the winter-esk sticker}
  • jump rope
  • sunglasses

from home {originally mostly from Wal-Mart}

  • sidewalk chalk in a large box
  • little bubbles that came in a pack of 8
  • assorted Easter grass
  • See Jane Work labels {on wicked sale at Office Depot}
  • blank note cards
  • post card invites to your Church's Easter service
  • pipe cleaners and rubber bands {we used the rubber bands to told the 7 pieces of chalk together in the shape of a flower and then made lil leaves around it}

How-to Make:

  1. collect bucket and gift items
  2. add grass to the bottom making it about 1/2 full
  3. place larger items in 1st
  4. mix in smaller items {dividing like colors from one another}
  5. *we color coordinated each bucket using ~2 colors for fun
    green and pink and purple and yellow for the neighbor girls and orange/red and blue for the boy
  6. create label {print our FREE LABEL here} using Avery Label Template 5450 in Word
    Bucket-O-Summer Label
  7. color in lettering for extra fun {sharpies worked the best without smearing the print}
  8. cover original cheap sticker on the bucket that wouldn't com off with new label
  9. write a cute little note about Easter linking items in the bucket {or print our cheesy FREE NOTE here}
    Easter Bucket-o-Summer
    I wrote out the note in yellow marker in a card and let my almost 6-year-old trace it {so it would all fit in the little cards we had}
  10. throw in a postcard invite to your church's Easter service hand-deliver with smiles 😀

Delivering Neighbor Gifts

Happy Easter!!!

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Double Your Juice and Prevent Cavities {Thoughtful Thursday}

I have always heard you should dilute your kids juice to reduce the amount of sugar they're getting. Even all natural 100% fruit juice has lots of natural sugar that isn't good for their diet or their teeth. Since the first time my oldest had juice, we always done 50/50 water and juice. Starting them this way has always guaranteed they didn't know the difference. When my daughter had non-diluted juice for the first time she hated it and told me it was "spicy". On the other hand, the first time my niece had our diluted juice she was concerned and told me "Uhh, Aunt Julie. You juice has lost its flavor." LOL

Not only is this healthier for them but it double the juice and saves money! I use the large jugs to fill 1/2 way with water and then, most of the time, I combine different flavor juices to fill it the rest of the way. Turn

Double Your Juice and Prevent Cavities

Having always done this as well as fed them healthy diets and assisted them in brushing their teeth daily, I took my kids' for their first dentist visit feeling pretty confident about the condition of their teeth. Boy did I leave mortified. After the dentist let me know my 1st and 3rd had an embarrassing number of cavities and my 2nd had none, I talked with the dental hygienist for a long time trying to determine what made the difference. The conclusion?

Chugger vs Sippers

Yep, I always thought it was a good thing that my 1st and 3rd would slowly sip their drink throughout the day and it drove me nuts that my 2nd would chug the beverage like it was going out of style. Now, if you already knew this, please don't leave "duh" comments. I had never been told this and maybe someone else hasn't either.

Sipping on {even diluted} juice slowly throughout the day keeps a constant film of sugar on your teeth. Chugging it allows your natural saliva to "wash" off that film even if you're not brushing after each drink.

The new rule in our house is: the kids are allowed Milk and Juice at meal time only and they can drink as much Water as they want the rest of the day from the fridge door and are allowed to get themselves in their cool new {dollar spot} water bottles.

Prevent Cavities by giving littles their own water bottles and allowing them to get their own water

I am one of those parents who still has all of her children using sippy cups/lidded cups to cut down on the clean up during the day. I found these awesome water bottles in the Target dollar spot. I took Maggie to pick one as a reward for doing so well while they filled her first cavities and then Jamin. Izzie got to choose one as a reward for having NO cavities. Then the larger ones we got for my niece, nephew for a week with us during spring break.

The great thing about these water bottles are:

  • They are simple for them to pull the lid off to fill but easy to put back on to avoid spills.
  • They can tote them anywhere.
  • If they get left in get left in the car, there isn't soured juice or spoiled milk to stink up the car.
  • If they get messed up or lost, they only cost $1 each.
Do your kids love juice? Are they chuggers or sippers?
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