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Custom Valentines

January 27, 2017

As a crafty child, I always looked forward to celebrating on the fourteenth day of February each year. I loved making homemade valentines and an extravagant box. I remember sketching out my plan, forcing my mom to take me to the craft store, and getting help from anyone and everything to make the “coolest” box I could! On Valentine’s Day, I always had to get a ride to school with one of my parents because I couldn’t trust the bus driver to ensure my box made it to school safely. Each year, this was MY DAY to shine!

My obsession for Valentine’s Day growing up is now comical because we don’t do much to celebrate in our house. Jared and I forgo crowded restaurants and make our own food. We also don’t exchange gifts for ANY HOLIDAY…never… ever… no exceptions. (This allows us to save money so we can travel.)

I understand that not every parent has the time or money to spend on homemade custom valentines. That is why I have created 12 options for you to choose from! If your child has 24 kids in his or her class, your total cost is $10.

I have posted some of my favorites below but head over to 

to see the rest!


The Schanilec Christmas Card

December 21, 2016

One of the many things I like about my siblings is that we all have different strengths.

If I need help finding a unique gift for someone, I ask Sam.

If I have questions about anything to do with money or investments, I ask Ben.

If I have questions about my phone or computer, I ask Bizzy.

If I need help with anything math-related, I ask Philip.

When Christmas comes around each year, I always put on my design hat and start creating our family Christmas card. My siblings and parents know that is “my thing” and they just let me run free. They will give input as to their favorite photos and will answer questions if I have them but overall, everyone steers clear of Jess. This year, with a one-year-old running around, I had to keep the design VERY simple. I was thankful a storm day that allowed me time to complete this project.

My mom is a great photographer but it is impossible for her to be behind and in front of the camera at the same time. With that being said, my parents hired a photographer this year.

About two hours before we were supposed to be in the studio, my dad called and said that they were still harvesting beans and he couldn’t leave his business. Thankfully, our photographer was able to travel to Forest River on such short notice.

The wind was a little rough on our hairdos BUT we were able to get some great shots! In some of the photos, you can even see the trucks in the background dumping beans!

Merry Christmas from the Schanilec Family!







(Photos by SB Photography)

Snow Day Reindeer Art Project

December 12, 2016

We were blessed with two storm days this week! On the first day, I made a lofty check-list of all of the items we were going to accomplish. Although an art project with the boys made the list, it didn’t happen until our second snow day.

Jude (with the help of his teachers) made an adorable reindeer at school and being he was already a seasoned pro, we decided to make another one!

Brown paint
Glue gun
Red puffy ball
Wiggle eyes

Less than $5 (I used a Michael’s giftcard to save 40% off on this pack)

1. (Optional) Mix the paint
I wanted to make our paint a LITTLE lighter as to not make it look like pure poop.

2. Paint the feet

3. Press the feet onto your canvas

4. Make and attach the antlers

5. Add the nose

6. Glue on the eyes

Jude thought it was necessary to take a snack break mid-project. Thankfully, we made a few extra prints.

I realized my dad’s birthday was coming up and as an avid hunter, we knew this would be a perfect homemade gift.



Birthday Gifts from the Grandkids

November 28, 2016

Each year, about three days before my mom’s birthday, my dad sends out an SOS e-mail. He asks if we have any ideas for gifts to get her. Usually, I just wish him luck because my mom is a tough one to shop for!

This year, I had two secret weapons when it came to my mom’s birthday gift: the grandchildren!

With hours to spare before her birthday, we went to Michael’s so Jude could lay on the floor and cry  to pick out something to make. Our foster son picked out cute wooden arrows AND a $1 birdhouse. Go big or go home folks.

The next day, we had a painting party in our kitchen. I stripped Jude down to his diaper because he likes to express his creativity by rubbing paint in his clothing. In order to control the finished product a little bit, I hid the red, brown, and black when painting the arrows.

To help Jude achieve the look he was envisioning, I poured paint on the wooden arrow and let him rub it in.

The cleanup took longer than the painting BUT we ended up with some pretty cute gifts for Granny Kelly.

Happy 65th birthday Granny!

Halloween Costumes Without the Cost

November 1, 2016


Last year, Jude was only two weeks old when Halloween rolled around. As a gift, he was given a bat outfit complete with an adorable knit hat. Instead of spending money on a costume he would only wear for a few hours, we used the bat ensemble as his halloween costume.

Bat Hat:

Our little bat:

In August when my mom returned from a trip to Boston, she stopped by our house with gifts for Jude. One of the gifts was an obnoxious (but adorable) patterned onesie. This insect-print outfit was so cute that I wanted to make sure it was used for more than bedtime. Somehow, I came up with the idea that he could be a bug catcher for halloween in the fall. The best part is, we used items already in our house so we didn’t have to go out and buy a costume. We did purchase toy insects that can still be used after halloween.

Definition: A scientist who studies insects.
I kept on referring to Jude as a “bug catcher” but my husband informed me that he was actually an “Entomologist”.

Here is our simple + reusable costume:

1. Insect pajamas (discontinued)
2. Net (similar)
3. Hat
4. Bugs


Happy Halloween!

DIY Birthday Hat

October 24, 2016


Before Jude’s first birthday party, I was looking on Etsy for a party hat for our birthday boy. After snooping around, I found a few hats that I happened to like. However,  I couldn’t fathom spending $20 on hat he would most likely wear for a minute. I then had the great idea to make a party hat from scratch. I did some looking around on Pinterest and found Jones Design Company, which shared a hat tutorial and downloadable template.
*Note: After purchasing all of my supplies, I only saved a few dollars by doing this project myself.*


Felt – 2 colors- I save a lot of time by getting felt with a sticky backside from Michaels
Poms – I found mine at target but if you already have yarn at home, you can use this tutorial to make your own.
Card stock
Ball Fringe– I found this in the felt isle at Michaels (similar item)
Hot Glue Gun
String to keep the hat on the child’s head. I used jewelry string.

Step 1 – Using the template from Jones Design Company, I cut the design out on the card stock. I used my circuit, but you can do this by hand.

Step 2– Form the card-stock into a cone.

Step 3– Once again using the template, cut the hat shape out on felt.

Step 4– Stack the felt cutout onto the card stock cutout.

Step 5– Using the hot glue gun, glue the edges together to create a cone.


Note: I purchased “Tacky Glue” but it would not allow me to hold the shape of the hat.

Step 6– Cut out the number outline in the felt and add it to the hat

Step 7– Add the pom to the top.

Step 8– Add the ball fringe.

IMG_6641Step 9 – Try to get your child to wear the hat
Step 10– Have your dog model for you when your child won’t
Step 10.5– Try not to get eaten by the dog.


No-Sew Simple Felt Garland

October 19, 2016

FeltGarlandWhen it came to Jude’s first birthday decorations, I wanted to keep things simple. Helium filled balloons are a pain to transport, streamers tear easily, & confetti would get eaten by the birthday boy. I was looking at my Pinterest page for inspiration and found this:
FeltStreamers>>> source <<<
There was just one problem… The project above requires sewing. Back in 7th grade during our home economics class, I made a deal with one of the boys in our class. He did the machine sewing projects and I did the hand stitching. With this master plan, I never learned how to use a sewing machine. Back to the drawing board for me…

I kept looking on Pinterest and found this:
garlandblogger>>> source <<<

Using Anthropologie for inspiration, Berta from “Mommy like Whoa”, made this beautiful felt garland piece. In her tutorial, I saw that she was using a needle and thread to string her felt. That seemed a little too time consuming for me so I set out to try something a little different while still using the Anthropologie garland as inspiration.



DIY $8 Garland Felt

Yarn or twine
15-20 pieces of felt

Felt notes: I used the colors “Smoke” + “Silver Grey”. I purchased mine for $0.39 per sheet at Michaels. Being I didn’t know how much felt I would need, I preferred to buy it by the sheet than by the yard.

Cut the felt into strips. I did not measure ANYTHING.
IMG_6791Now decide what order you want your strips in. I made a pile and randomly pulled from it.
IMG_6793Think about how long you want your garland to be and cut your twine or yarn accordingly.
IMG_6794Lastly, tie your felt in knots around the string.

Ta-Da! That is it! A no-sew felt garland tutorial for you to try.
The cutting and knotting were time consuming but were simple enough that I could do it while playing with Jude on the floor. Be sure to share your photos if you give this a try!


$12.10 Reading Fort

October 1, 2016


In addition to our biological son,  we have a little guy living with us right now. I am always trying to come up with ways to make reading more exciting to him. My recent idea? A reading fort of course! This magical fort only has one rule: you can only be in the fort if you are reading.

The great thing about this fort is that it is fairly easy to make and it is very inexpensive compared to the teepees and tents that are trending right now.

Here is the cost breakdown:

45 degree ½ elbow piece // quantity 4
.51 each // $2.04

½ elbow piece  // quantity 2
.40 each // $0.80

½ tee piece //quantity 4
.27 each // $1.08

½ side-out elbow // quantity 4
.98 each // $3.92

½ 10-foot pipe //  quantity 3
1.42 // $4.26

Total Cost of Supplies (before tax) $12.10

Want to make your own?
Let us begin!

I purchased all of my products from Lowes. I will go on a weekday morning before work because they open early and that way, I am usually one of the only people in the store. Our local Lowes store has AMAZING customer service and the staff there are always willing to help.

(Side note: One day my husband gave me a list of items to pick up from Lowes. The staff walked me around the entire store to help me find everything on the list. I would have been lost without them. We have a great crew in Grand Forks, North Dakota!)

Carry on Jess, carry on.

Here are the connecting pieces to get:


(Side notes: 1. Make sure that you are paying attention to what you are grabbing out of the boxes. 2. All of the connecting items are “slips” and NOT “threaded” –like a screw)

When it comes to cutting, you have a few options. You can use a handsaw, a pipe cutter OR you can ask the friendly staff to do your cuts for you in store. Note that you will have some extra pipe if you cut correctly. Here are the cuts to make:

Now, it is time to assemble!


Surprisingly I was able to create this tent without the help of my handy husband. It was a fun project to do with our boys and allowed us to practice our measurements! If you are doing this project without the help of little ones, allow for 30-45 minutes to complete.

(Happy baby not included)

ReadingFort2Although I wish it were, this is not a sponsored post.