Category Archives: Big Fat Crafts

DIY French Memo Board

Ah…the French memo board. They’re gorgeous. I love them. From the time I saw the huge board behind Rachel’s desk on Friends (I can’t find a picture of it, but trust me…it was awesome), I’ve wanted one. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, I offer Exhibit A for your consideration:

They come in all types of fabric backgrounds from damask to burlap and use everything from ribbon to jute for the criss-crossy things. I’d looked around quite a bit and I couldn’t find one that I was absolutely in love with, so I decided to make my own. How hard can it be, right? There are a gazillion blog posts out there about how to make your own, so I schlepped over to Pinterest and found one. Here’s where it begins to go south.

I skimmed the directions. C’mon…it’s a piece of plywood covered in quilt batting and fabric, then wrapped in ribbon and finished with upholstery tacks. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist, right? Right. It does, however, take a person who can follow directions.

Hot Mess Hubby thinks he’s a woodworker, so he actually had 1/4 inch plywood in the garage. He didn’t even have to cut it for me. He had a piece that was 3 X 2 and that’s about the size I wanted. Perf!

I headed off to the fabric and craft store for the rest and returned with my stash: a nice, rustic looking burlap, a matching jute twine type trim, and deep brown upholstery tacks. Rock’in. Let’s do this.

I had quilt batting in my needlework stash, so I didn’t have to buy that. All I needed was HMH’s trusty staple gun and I was in business. He handed it to me as he walked out the door to go work, mumbling “And that’s all the staples we have, so…don’t waste ’em.”

Great. Thanks, babe!

Our house is currently one giant heap of disorganization, thanks to non-stop projects (which includes the current project of turning a spare room into my personal office and organizing a few dozen boxes of stuff to donate to charity). The only feasible place to put this thing together was the living room, so I used the coffee table for a work bench. I went to town, first laying out the burlap and then the quilt batting, then settling the plywood in the middle. I started in the middle of the board with the staple gun and worked my way out to the edges, pulling the burlap tightly as I went. It was louder than I expected and Dyson certainly didn’t appreciate it.

Momma...clean up all this crap before you make pretties please!
It wasn’t long before he was hiding out at the top of the stairs.

Once the plywood was completely wrapped, it was time to start with the ribbon. I’d purchased a spool of jute twine stuff and was pretty sure I’d have enough. Nope. Not even close. Three trips across the board and I was out. Major fail.

I stopped at the craft store on my way home and they were out of jute twine stuff. Bastards. I opted for turquoise satin ribbon. I bought two spools, 18 feet each. That should do it, right? Right. I rushed home and started with my project. Dyson fled to the top of the stairs again. Pussy.

Halfway through my first sweep, I ran out of staples. Shit.

Got staples?
Got staples?

HMH found some more in his “wood shop” the next day and loaded up the gun for me, but this project was really starting to piss me off.

Yeah, you read that right. I was pissed at the project, not my lack of planning. The closest I can come to explaining this phenomenon is to point out that I’ve been married to Mr. Let’s-Not-Plan-Shit-And-Just-See-What-Happens for almost ten years. It’s rubbing off.

I get home from the gym the next day and start up again. Finally I’m going to get done with this damn board. I finish the ribbon and consider it a small victory. Then I get to work on hammering the upholstery tacks into the board. About halfway through the package, I realize I need a hell of a lot more tacks. I’m going to run out. Son of a…

See, I’m not so good with the math, yo. Not that I measured shit on this project – but even if I had, I would have screwed it up.


At this point, my idiocy only spurs my desperation when it comes to getting this memo board from hell finished. I’m not going down without a fight, damn it. I grab my keys and head for the craft store. It’s on!

I get to the craft store and I’m pretty sure I’d grabbed the last package of this style of tac when I was there previously. Sure enough…none left on the little peg thing. Damn it! All was not lost, however. Thanks to bad customers or bad employees, I couldn’t tell which, I found two more packages of tacs mixed in where they shouldn’t have been. SCORE!!!

I drive home, wondering what the hell is wrong with me that every single step in this simple little project went horribly wrong. I pulled up in my driveway with huge sigh of relief. Now I know, without a doubt, the board will be finished tonight. Nothing else can stand in my way. I walk in, put down my purse and the bag from the craft store, and grabbed the board with one hand. It wouldn’t budge.

I’d hammered the damn memo board right into our coffee table.

Thank God our coffee table is old and crappy and I don’t care about it anymore. I just surrendered to the fact that I am, indeed, a Hot Mess Princess and finished up the board. Now I had a new problem: with all the tacks poking out the back, the board was now very stabby. Quick like a bunny, I grabbed some old cork tiles I had here and pushed those over the stabby parts. Voila! Done!!!

The "after" pic of my coffee table. Good thing it's on its last legs anyway!
The “after” pic of my coffee table. Good thing it’s on its last legs anyway!

Now it just looks like a French memo board. You can’t tell that the project took an entire week and pushed me to the brink. All you can see is a beautiful board that cost very little to put together.



So my words of advice are:  buy your own – or make sure you listen to the directions and measure!!! Learn from me, my darlings!

Ivory Twill Memo Board

Damask with Black Ribbon French/memo Board

Me First!

Last year I cancelled my lap band surgery and lost 45 pounds all on my own just through dietary changes – which is totally badass, especially when you consider that I didn’t even incorporate regular exercise into that. I had a major paradigm shift in my outlook on food. My daily regime no longer consists of processed or sugary foods and I can’t tell you the last time I went through a fast food drive-thru for myself. I do still suffer the occasional temptation, but it’s amazing what you can accomplish when you cut the crud from your life. Your taste buds change. Be patient, stick with it, and you’ll see what I mean.

This year is all about making exercise a healthy habit, which is infinitely more challenging for me. I’m walking my first 5K in May. Go me! Some of you are going with me and I’m really looking forward to saying thanks in person for all the support and love I get from my loyal readers – so if you’re going, I’m excited to meet you!

Trying to make exercise a habit takes a lot of my energy because I’m such a whiny butt about it – and I’ve noticed lately that my snacky habits are slipping. No, I’m not throwing $30 worth of Little Debbies in my cart at the grocery store or anything, but if I’m hungry between meals I get a little lazy about what to nibble on. I used to eat balanced snacks consistently – like an apple, a lowfat chocolate milk and a handful of almonds. A good healthy snack keeps your metabolism going strong. I’ve noticed lately that I’m not taking the trouble to snack right anymore. Now it’s more like I grab a tortilla…or another cup of coffee…or even a piece of hubby’s leftover pizza. Yowch. Anything to plug up the “hungry hole” and keep moving. I can see that I’m starting to make less time for myself…and that’s going to bite me in right in the fat pants if I don’t watch it.

This brings me to the latest installation of Big Fat Crafts. (Except this isn’t really a craft since it just involves printing something out, but I’m giving myself permission to get all fancy with the wording.)

I wanted to create something that would remind me of my commitment to myself when I’m at my most vulnerable: standing in front of the open refrigerator and/or pantry…cruising for a snack. So I created these “Me First” labels and smacked them on a couple plastic bins from the discount store. Now when I open the fridge or the pantry, my eyes are drawn straight to a visual reminder of my most important health goal: Me First!

Take THAT, temptation!
Take THAT, temptation!

Whether hubby’s tempting snacks are there or not, when I see that “Me First” sign I’m instantly reminded why I’m doing this. Suddenly I feel like I’m hurting myself if I grab for the Crunch ‘n Munch (and DUH, I am…but this makes it harder to ignore my conscience). It puts things in immediate perspective for me. I made two bins: one for the fridge, and one for the pantry.

So that’s one “danger point” I’ve got resolved. I feel so much better about where I am food-wise, but this was a vulnerable spot that needed to be addressed. And I addressed it. Like a boss.

100 calories of healthy yogurt or cookie dough? It's easy. Me (and my health) FIRST!
100 calories of healthy yogurt or cookie dough? It’s easy. Me (and my health) FIRST!















If you’d like to make your own “Me First” snack bins, I’ll make it easy for you. You’ll find free printable versions here…and I even made them in different colors in case you don’t like the teal one shown here. (I printed mine on cardstock paper since regular paper gets a little warped from refrigerator moisture.) Printed design is 4 x 6.

What creative solutions have you come up with to control your own vulnerable spots? Share your ideas here.

Click here to download the Me First printable in teal!

Click here to download the Me First printable in green!

Click here to download the Me First printable in royal blue!

Click here to download the Me First printable in red!

Click here to download the Me First printable in pumpkin!

Click here to download the Me First printable in purple!


Just Rewards

I’ve been at it again.  I’ve been busy at work making Big Fat Crafts!  Woohoo!!!

Remember Motivation Marbles? They’re great for keeping track of “the big picture” with my weight loss goals.  If I’m having a day that more craptastic than fantastic, just glancing at the “Pounds Lost” jar and seeing all those marbles (one for every pound) instantly makes me feel like a fat fight’in superstar.  I love taking marbles from the “Pounds to Go” jar and plinking them into the “Pounds Lost” jar almost as much as I love watching the numbers on the scale go down…down…down.

As much fun as that is for me (and for all of you who have created your own marble projects), I’ve been thinking lately that a little motivation of the more immediate kind might make things more interesting in the short term.  If you have a lot of weight to lose like me, it can be a real pain in the booty to stay focused and motivated.  I don’t know about you, but I need all the help I can get.

To help keep things interesting, I’ve decided to buy myself a lil sump’in sump’in for every 50 pounds I lose – and this new craft project is the perfect way for me to make sure I get my just rewards.  Now I can see the reward and save for it at the same time.  Check it out:



















I turned a shadow box into a savings bank with a twist!

This project is three of my favorite things:  fun, easy, and quick.  Here’s what you need to get your Just Rewards:

*  a shadow box of your choice

*  colored scrapbook paper or fabric

*  blingy alphabet stickers

*  a small power tool like a Dremmel…or a drill (this part is optional…read on)

*  a photo of the reward you’re saving for

I’m within weeks of hitting my first 50 pound weight loss (go, me!) and I’ve decided that I’m going to reward myself with a new Guess watch.  Those of you who’ve read this blog for a while and know me for the handbag ho that I am are probably shaking your heads in disbelief, right?  Would you believe there are no decent designer bags within my $150 budget?  None!

It’s okay, though, because I’m getting a little tired of yanking my phone out of my purse just to see what time it is.  I need a watch…and this one’s gorgeous!

A few tips:

*  I took a screenshot of the watch and printed it out at the photo kiosk at my neighborhood drug store.  My printer sucks…and this was cheaper than an ink refill!

*  I used tweezers to lightly place the blingy alphabet stickers. I didn’t press them against the glass until I was sure of the placement.

*  I used scrapbook paper for my background, but I’ll probably use fabric for my next one.  The paper kept slipping and it was hard to manipulate without creasing.

*  I had the Hot Mess Hubby cut a piggy bank style slot in the top of the shadow box frame so I could use it like a bank.  I assumed he had some super cool tool in his “woodshop” that would do it, but I found out later he just used a regular drill and made hole after hole after hole.  Then he used a file to even it out.  (I didn’t even ask why that was the chosen method…I was just happy he got it done!).

*  If you don’t have the means to cut a piggy bank slot and you don’t know anyone who can, don’t worry – you can always just pop the back off and put your money in there.  The main benefit you’ll reap from this project is seeing your reward and the money you’re paying yourself to get it.  🙂

Since I have a hard time motivating myself to exercise, I pay myself $5 for every 30 minutes on the treadmill.  I keep my Just Rewards bank on the wall above the treadmill so I can see it while I walk.  It reminds me of the pretty little bling thing I’ve got coming my way if I just stick with it.

One of the things I really love is that I can change out the background and the picture for each 50 pound goal.  I’m just about to hit the first 50 pound loss mark, but remember:  I have to turn around and do it 3 more times…and then some.  Having an incremental reward like this adds extra motivation and fun – not to mention it gives me something else to look at besides the bland, still not decorated walls in my bedroom!

I’ve put some links at the bottom in case you decide to start your own Just Rewards project.  If you make one, I’d love to see it – so feel free to contact me and let me know how you did!

That’s it for this edition of Big Fat Crafts, kids…now it’s time for me to get moving.  I have 8 pounds to go before I hit that first 50 pound goal and then this Princess is gett’in a new watch!

What blingy things would you reward yourself with?

Main Street Décor Showdowbox Photo Frame, White

Crystal Stickers Crystal Alphabet-Clear