Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Framed Sheet Metal Magnet Board for Kids: a Tutorial

If you couldn't tell by that cheesy smile, we are really enjoying our newest creation over here. Talk about hours of entertainment! As a former teacher, I love any kind of play that is educational. With this board, you can work on  learning about letters, numbers, animals, or really anything! Win for Charlie, win for Mom. 

Inspiration for a magnet board for our playroom first struck when I saw this clever drip-pan idea on Pinterest. I loved the idea, but I wanted something that would hold up a little better and look nicer on our wall. I also didn't love that most drip pans have the words "DRIP PAN" in large letters across the side. So I started looking for other options and found out that sheet metal can be purchased pre-cut in the convenient size of 24" x 36". What is fantastic about this size is that it's a very common picture frame size as well. 

This was a crazy cheap project too! I only spent $10 on the sheet metal and $20 on a poster frame at Walmart. The frame was originally black, so I did add another step of painting it white so that it would look nicer in our playroom. 

Oh, I love a good, cheap instant gratification project. Here is how I did it. 

I purchased this sheet metal at Home Depot for only $9.75. I used the online ordering option, but when I went to pick it up at the counter, the sheet they had picked out for me had a tiny ding on it. I opted to trade it out and pick one that looked nicer in my opinion. The sheet metal comes in this nice cardboard packaging, but the sides are a little bit sharp when you take it out. You'll want to be careful not to cut yourself when you're working with the sheet metal. 

I also bought a  24" x 36" poster frame at Walmart. You can save money if you find a frame that does NOT have glass in it. The one I bought had a plastic film attached to the frame. I was able to remove it easily, and painted my frame with a few coats of glossy white spray paint before I put the sheet metal in it. 

Then, I laid the empty, painted frame face down, and put the sheet metal in it just like you would frame a picture. Don't worry if it doesn't go in just perfectly at first. It took a little manipulation to get some parts of the metal past the picture fasteners in the back. 

You can see here that the metal isn't all the way in the frame yet. I had to go from the other side to sort of "bend" (but not actually bend) the sheet metal to get it past the metal fasteners along the sides. It's a really forgiving material and doesn't dent very easily, so don't worry if you have to do this too. 

Once the metal sat flush to the frame, I just needed to put the original backing back on to the frame. In my case, this was just a piece of cardboard that came with the poster frame.

Once the frame was all put together, I just had to figure out how to hang it. 

 My go-to hanging devices are these Command Picture Hanging Strips. When you use them on all four corners, it is very secure to the wall (perfect for not so gentle toddlers) and very EASY!

The issue I ran into here was that my frame had a raised border that made it difficult to hang with the strips. My solution was to use this Scotch Exterior Mounting tape underneath the Command Strips to give them a little more height. I used two layers of Scotch mounting tape and one Command Strip per corner. 

Next was peeling the paper backing off the Command strips and using my picture level to hang the board in our playroom!

Now the fun part! Get out your magnets (we used jumbo letter magnets and animal magnets) and watch your toddler delight in sticking and un-sticking them over and over again. 


This board is such a fun addition to our playroom. I've had way too much fun decorating and furnishing  this room for my little guy. We spend the better part of most days in this room, so it helps to have a fun space! 

Did I mention that you can write on the board using Expo Markers? I love this for when Charlie is older and interested in spelling out words. I also think a board like this would be great for displaying kids' artwork or maybe a board to put in an office to stick reminders on. There are SO many possibilities! 

Hope you enjoyed this idea! Thank you for stopping by! 


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Food Prepping Before Baby Arrives

I was fortunate to have a lot of time off work in my last trimester, so I did everything I could to take advantage of the time off and do what I could to make life easier after the baby comes. I'm so glad that I devoted a weekend to filling up our freezer with easy, heathy foods. We had some wonderful family and friends that brought us meals right after Charlie was born, but after that stopped, it was so nice to be able to pull some food out of the freezer and make a reasonably healthy meal with ease. It's been nearly three months since our baby was born, and we still have a ton of this food in our freezer. 

We decided that a chest freezer was a worthwhile investment. Our other freezer is very limited in space, so we use it mostly for frozen fruit for smoothies and Lean Cuisines for easy work lunches. This freezer gives us the storage we need to plan ahead. 

We bought three of these collapsible milk crates from Walmart. They stack and fit perfectly in the freezer. We use the bottom one for game meat (my husband hunts and has the meat processed occasionally). The middle crate has frozen chicken, beef, and turkey. We buy the bulk packs of chicken breast and ground beef/turkey from Costco. The top crate is for frozen veggies. 

We use the other side for other random frozen items: pizzas, casseroles, tortillas, tamales, etc. 

Getting Started:

All of this took the better part of a Sunday to do. Being 36 weeks pregnant, it was exhausting, but it was so worth it. It's ten times harder to find the time to cook elaborate meals now that we're both back at work and taking care of our three month old. Dinner is all about what's easiest now! 

I laid out all of my supplies:

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Frozen ground turkey
Green Beans
Red Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Seasoning (for cooking the meats)

To start I filled my Crock Pot with the frozen chicken breasts. Then I used powdered chicken broth and water to fill the pot to the line.

I let this cook on low for about 5 hours and then drained the liquid. 

This is by far the easiest way I've discovered to shred chicken. Just take a hand mixer to the pot, and in a couple of minutes,  it's shredded perfectly. 

I borrowed my sister's Food Saver to portion out the chicken into little baggies that could be saved and frozen.

I love being able to thaw out the chicken for a quick and easy dish like chicken quesadillas. 

I also cooked about four pounds of ground turkey as well. 

Two pounds at a time, I browned the turkey and portioned it into bags as well. 

These are perfect to add to spaghetti, baked ziti, chili, tacos, etc. 

Finally, I prepared the veggies. I think a lot of food prep involves heavy carb. dishes that are not always the most healthy. I wanted it to be easy for us to have some vegetables in our meals as well. 

After peeling all of the potatoes, I cut them into cubes to be frozen. 

When we want roasted sweet potatoes, we can just thaw one of these bags, spread them out on a pan and roast them in the oven with olive oil. 

We also prepared the broccoli and red potatoes by washing them and cutting them into bite sized pieces. 

Another thing I did to prep before baby arrived was make double batches of dinner and freezing half in these aluminum dishes. 

One night I made a double batch of baked ziti.

And another night a double batch of Chicken Pesto Pasta

I used a little tape to ensure that the lid of the pan was on tightly (just be sure to remove all the tape fully before putting the dish in the oven). 

Finally, we made smoothie packs for quick and easy breakfasts. We used freezer friendly bags and filled them with all the dry and frozen ingredients we use in our smoothies (fruit, spinach, oatmeal, protein powder, sometimes peanut butter)

These are great for tossing in the blender, with almond milk for a quick breakfast!

Whew! Just typing all of that made me tired. But I am so glad we took the time to do all of this. Even though he's totally worth it, this little guy sure makes things like dinner time more tricky for his parents. It's a good thing he's so darn cute. (: 


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