52 Projects 2017 | The Nerd Nest

I started making it a goal to complete 52 projects in a year in 2014 as a way to inject more creativity into my life and to motivate myself to do projects that aren’t so fun. Projects can be art, crafts, home improvement, tech, gardening, or whatever else my brain ventures into. They can be done by myself or with assistance. The point is to MAKE.

I love the goal of trying to complete a project about once a week, though I end up completing of them at the end of the year as gifts and due to extra free time with my husband Jake’s long December time off.

Most of the time I’ve lost count, but this year I kept up with sharing on Instagram. Here’s a recap of my 52 Projects for 2017!

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1. Music Video Extra – My friend Jesse from The Sexy Accident invited me to be an extra in their music video, I’m Going to Love Your New Boyfriend, shot by Friend Dog Studios. It was such a cool experience to get to see behind the scenes to see how a professional music video is made. I loved walking around and getting photos for the band throughout the day to record the experience. (And hey–I’m even in the still frame for the video on You Tube! Pretty cool.)

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2. Jonas’s 100 Days Project – For their 100th day of school, Jonas’s class had a pizza party and made posters with 100 items on them–10 groups of 10. This poster represents a couple of hours in glue dot helping.

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3. Fixing Blitz – I have the kids put all of the broken toys in one spot and then I go on a fixing blitz every few months. Taping board books, sewing up split seems, re-attaching legs, that sort of thing.

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4. Eliza’s Hamilton Valentines – I turned Eliza’s Hamilton drawings and phrases into Valentines for her! I scanned in her images and added a Hamilton star, then printed a bunch out on pages so we could cut them up and she’d have her own personalized Valentines to hand out.

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5. Jonas’s Robot Valentines – I did the same thing for Jonas, scanning in his robot drawings, adding punny sayings, and throwing in a heart image.

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6. Cardinal Stocking – I couldn’t find a stocking that matched the 4 felt ones we had, so after a few years of Ava having a mis-matched stocking, I made one! (Though they swapped around and Eliza called this one.) couldn’t find another stocking that went with the four we already had, so I made a new one! I used a cardinal pattern from Down East Thunder Farm. My hand stitching isn’t great, but I think they look good all hung up together!

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7. March Gardening – Daffodils popping up meant it was time to get the gardening going. I planted fairy rose clippings (which didn’t take), cleared up my chocolate mint (smells so good), popped some bulbs into the ground and did a ton of raking.

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8. Embroidered Chair Holes – Embroidered shut some chair holes during movie time over a few days. At least the holes won’t get bigger now. (Cats + kids = can’t have nice things.)

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9-11. Coaching / Model / Poster for Jonas’s Robotics Team – I’m so proud of Jonas’s robotics team! Coaching the little kids required infinite patience, but it’s so cool to see what they can accomplish. This year they needed to research an animal that shares a habitat with bees and propose a solution to a problem that habitat faces. They learned that bees and several species of birds both need dead trees to live in, but people cut them down so they aren’t in danger of falling. They built a model of a fake hollow tree in a park as a solution, complete with a motorized pulley platform to help move injured or baby birds. They won the teamwork award at the competition!

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12. School Action Art Project – This is the art project for Jonas’s class’s contribution to the school auction! The kids did a thumbprint background and I used Kansas City skyline clip art to make a stencil and painted that on. The goal was actually to paint in the background and have them make a thumbprint skyline (idea from Pinterest), but the thumbprints took too long and I didn’t get enough of them, so I improvised. Kindergarteners are the cutest artists.

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13. Attack of the Attic Squirrels – My house was leaking and we thought that it was because squirrels had chewed a hole somewhere, because we could hear that they had invaded the walls in a room in our finished attic. Jake cut a hole in the wall and we cleaned out gross, squirrel-lived-in insulation, but the leak ended up being a separate problem. My grandpa sealed the leak on the roof, which was happening at the chimney’s flashing, with Flex Seal Spray Rubber Sealant Coatingand also used sheets of metal to patch the hole in the side of the house where the squirrels were getting in. This kicked off our project of getting the space behind the wall turned into a usable storage space.

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14. April Gardening – I planed a lot of flowers with Ava in April–though she’s mostly into gardening for the “squirmies” (worms). She was very excited to use the gardening tools my mom got her for Easter.

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15. May Gardening – My favorite thing I planted this month was a rhododendron, which will grow huge and eventually give us a bit more privacy in our front yard, which is on the edge of the neighborhood near a very busy road.

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16. Building Ava’s IKEA bed – Ava was ready for a big girl bed! Jake and I spent a big chunk of a weekend building this bed, which is so cool. It has drawers underneath and a rolling shelf that pulls out of the headboard, so that freed up a lot of playing space! (Thanks, mom!)

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17. Repainted Herb Tree – Sanded down, rust brushed, and repainted the herb tree my grandpa made. Last painting was in 2013, so it needed it.

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18. Wedding Photography Assisting / Second Photographer – Jake and I shot a wedding for family of family. My main job was assisting–coming up with the poses, helping to position people, angling the reflector, and make everyone feel comfortable for natural looking photos. I also was the second photographer during the ceremony. I got some usable shots, but I’m so glad we rented a Canon 5D because our 7D really wasn’t up to the lighting challenges. First two photos by Jake with me assisting, last one is mine.

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19. Powerballs – I did a bunch of crafts with the kids during their short break between school and summer school. We needed to make a dent in the kits they got for Christmas/ birthdays that require adult supervision! We made bouncy balls, which are pretty cool but not very bouncy.

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20. Stepping Stones – I helped the kids make a bunch of stepping stones! I used molds from a kit for the circles ones and a mold we had leftover from last year for the owls. The kids painted and decorated them. The paint didn’t last long outside (these were a gift), so I’m going to try painting them with better quality paint with the kids and then sealing them.

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21.Photo Transfer Shirt – Ava went to Michigan with Jake and I for the Awesome Ladies Live retreat. She was still in foster care at the time and photos of her couldn’t be in the Internet, so having this shirt for her at the BBQ saved me from having to go around repeating this disclaimer (because when you hang out w/ a bunch of memory keepers, there will be photos). Thanks for the idea, Allie!

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22. Rainbow Popsicle Stick Bird Toy – I made a toy for my parakeet Apollo. I’ve seen similar things as budgie toys online and decided to make my own! To make it, I dyed popsicle sticks in water and food coloring (I had to leave them in the water for about a week), drilled holes in them, and threaded them with non-toxic beads. This is still a favorite toy months later!

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23. June Gardening – The herbs really got going this month!

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24. July Gardening – We ate tons of homegrown basil in July and the blackberries started producing too!

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25. Wood Mobile – I painted a Handmade Modern Wood Mobile in different shades of blue and teal for our front porch! It slowly rotates back and forth in the breeze and is kind of mesmerizing to watch.

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26. August Gardening – I spent less time gardening in August because I had a serious allergic reaction and couldn’t tell what caused it (probably poison ivy, but we didn’t find the poison ivy). I still kept everything alive, so I count that as a win.

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27. September Gardening – I planted some new flowers for fall (mums, coneflowers, an orange hibiscus) and I think that this giant hydrangea is the solution to what can go in this box with my chocolate mint.

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28. Tye-Dyed T-Shirts – My sister had a shirt tie-dye activity for the kids when we visited. I helped them get their tie-dye on (so hard to keep them from making giant messes) and figure out the configurations they wanted. I also did all the rinsing at home, which is the most time consuming part of the process.

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29. October Gardening – I saved the plant babies from the frost! I brought all of my potted plants inside to our hydroponic room until I can get them re-potted and spread throughout the house.

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30. Jack-o-Lanterns – Better late than never! We carved pumpkins November 2-hah! Jake got fancy helping Eliza with her cat and drawing a ghost for Ava. I had fun cutting out Jonas’s many faces and making a simple scary face for the last one. We considered just carving in turkeys, but the kids voted to keep the Halloween spirit going on a bit longer.

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31. Front Attic Closet Clean-Out – While we were working on a new closet / storage area for the back room in our finished attic, we thought we’d start to work on the area in the front room too (the hole in the wall and door was already there for this one, at least.) This one had a squirrel infestation that predated us buying the house, so I finished cleaning out all the gross squirrel-lived-in insulation and random stuff from previous owners in the second future closet space on our third floor. We found an old coin collection under the floorboards while cleaning up there!!!

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32. Slime – We got in on the slime craze and made slime using this recipe, which uses contact solution instead of straight borax. (We had an unsuccessful slime attempt earlier.)

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33. Watercolor Garland I made a watercolor crayon resist garland with Ava for the front door. I drew Chirstmas shapes in white crayon and she painted away! Inspired by this mitten garland.

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34. November Gardening – Did tons of outside yardwork to get ready for winter, planted garlic (which needs a few freezes and will be ready for harvest in June if the squirrels leave it alone), and worked on repotting the potted plants inside.

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35. Reflect One Little Word Painting – Every year I’ve participated in Ali Edwards’s One Little Word project, I’ve painted my word on this canvas. I love painting over it again and again, which the knowledge that my words for each year are layered on top of one another. The metallic paint is perfect for my 2017 word REFLECT.

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36. Dyed Table Runner – My winter table runner had a red stain on it, so I dyed it teal. You can still see the stain if you look REALLY close, but I’m calling it a save! I used Teal Tulip Permanent Fabric Dye.

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37. Marbled Clay Dishes I made these marbled clay dishes from a from a Brit + Co kit. The supplies were great but the instructions weren’t awesome. I did a bunch of alterations—things like the amount of clay the instructions said to use made no sense with the amount of bowls the kit was supposed to make. The bowl shapes weren’t happening, so I molded the three ones that turned out well onto the bottoms of upside down bowls and baked them that way. We used the leftover clay for a little ornament pendent.

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38. Ava’s Weather Cafe Curtains – I finally made curtains for Ava’s room! I have this type of curtains in all the kids’ rooms because they show off the leaded glass windows but still give enough privacy. The pattern is from the book One-Yard Wonders (though I cheat on the ruffles). Fabric is Fun Weather by Stolen Pencil on Spoonflower.

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39. Felt Garland – I made a simple felt wonky circle garland for our dining room window! Super quick and easy project–I just cut out wonky circles from a felt squares pack and sewed them together, one after another. I saw some in a room in HGTV magazine and thought it was perfect for this spot.

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40-46. Family Calendars – We made 7 family calendars this year, for our parents (blended families), my grandpa, and Ava’s first parents. Love this tradition, but it’s a LOT of work! About 8 hours per calendar after choosing photos, editing, making collages, printing, and binding. We do different versions for everyone to include the different family branches. I left a few blank spaces in some so the recipient can add photos. Calendar printable from Paper Trail Design. For a video flip-through of these, click here and here (swipe to the second photo).

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47. Christmas Scavenger Hunt – This year’s Christmas scavenger hunt was a success! We had them running all through the house, collecting “badges” with their clues to presents—camping gear leading up to a six person tent. Here’s to being more outdoorsy in 2018 (and to the Amazon alert app which let us watch that tent and pounce on it when it was on super sale).

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48. Tree Trunk Candle Holder – Every year, we made a candleholder out of the bit of trunk cut off from our Christmas tree. This year’s Christmas tree trunk bottom is way shorter than the others, but the wonkiness is part of the charm. This time I used my father-in-law’s fancy drill press, but in past years we’ve used a bit on an electric screwdriver.

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49. Fix-it Blitz – A few times a year, I go on a fixing things rampage. I try to keep most of the broken toys in a central location so I can batch fix. I lost track of my hot glue gun forever, finally found bought a new one, then (of course) found mine two days later. So I hot glued all the things. That Iron Man has been waiting for his head black for over a year! And basically all of the Infinity Star Wars lightsabers has broken off. Lots of the old handmade ornaments needed new google eyes or parts glued back on. Fixed now!

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50. Sub-Flooring in Back Attic Room Closet – Jake and I put in sub-flooring in one of the two attic closets we are making (We were surprised to find that one of the closets already had a floor)! Jake did the measuring (nothing is squared up and all of the measurements are weird) and the sawing, I held things and carried things and screwed some of the boards down. Taking it slow and step by step with this project. Jake also moved an outlet and widened the door frame.

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51. December Gardening – I’m so happy to have herbs in the winter I can’t even tell you. Bringing in all my potted plants was the best decision! I got all of these repotted in December and got some brick in a wrap around garden bed in the front of my house.

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52. Ornament a Day – This project is really 25 projects in itself! The kids and I finished the last ornaments for our ornament a day project! Eliza and I did this project years ago, making an ornament each day in December until Christmas, but that got tricky as our family grew. This year she wanted to do it again, so we went with a more lax “it counts if ANY of the kids make an ornament” and made up our missed ones after the New Year. Love seeing these tiny trees filled with their creations! You can scroll through photos of ornaments here and can find the inspiration for these plus a lot more on my Pinboard for this project.


I’m so proud to have completed 52 projects for the year!

I plan on blogging more about projects as I do 52 projects this year, but you can also follow along with the hashtag #megandoes52projects.

If you’d like to join in and do this project with me, use the hashtag #52projects2018.