More Personalization for Pets

A couple months ago, I first experimented with using stencils to create personalized items for my pets, i.e. a custom wooden toy box for my dog, Sandy (which you can read about here).

Recently, I purchased a wire and wood basket at Michaels Craft Store to better organize cans of food and containers of treats for my cat, Olive.

While I’m still not a pro at stenciling, I am definitely making progress. I also was able to reuse the set of stencils I purchased for my first project for Sandy.

The first time I used these stencils on Sandy’s toy box, I applied too much pressure while applying the paint and let the paint dry too long, resulting in some of the blue lines of the stencil transferring onto the surface I was painting. I then had to remove the blue bits with tweezers. This time I removed the stencil sooner after painting, but possibly a little too soon – as you can see, there is some smudging in the bottom corner of Olive’s name. I’m hoping to get the timing just right on my next try!

Here are some photos I took along the way and a glimpse at the final basket with Olive’s name!

Feel free to share in the comments what you think I should personalize next! I am always looking for ideas and additional opportunities to practice stenciling.

Positioning the stencils.

Taping the letter stencils down so they don’t move while I paint (even though the backs are sticky, the extra reinforcement helps make sure they don’t shift).

The supplies I used.

I applied the painting by carefully dabbing.

Almost there!


No-Cost DIY Dog Toys

When my significant other and I first adopted our dog, my growing pup would (literally) tear through every new stuffed or squeaky toy in a matter of minutes. So I decided to supplement her toy box with an array of homemade toys that could withstand her tugging and that I wouldn’t feel bad about throwing out on a frequent basis. Plus, it was a great way to repurpose a supply of items I wasn’t really using in my home — old t-shirts — meaning it cost nothing to make.

You can easily make these braided tug toys too!


  • At least two old t-shirts
  • A pair of scissors

Everyone has that old t-shirt that maybe they received free as a promotional item or maybe they wore to the max and really should get rid of it, but haven’t “gotten around to it” yet. I’m a size medium and like longer t-shirts which worked great when my dog was a pup. Length is definitely important for this project. As my dog has gotten older (and a lot bigger), I have needed longer shirts, so I have “taken off my dad’s hands” a few of the 4x tees he doesn’t wear. As a personal preference, I like to use two different color tees for each project for aesthetic reasons and stay away from anything with a graphic printed on it or I cut out and discard the graphic before proceeding with the project.

To make this particular toy, I chose to use a tie-dye shirt and a baby blue shirt.

Step 1

Lay out your t-shirt on a flat surface. Starting at the bottom of the shirt, cut a straight vertical line until you get to the top seam.

Step 2

Move a couple inches over and cut again. You can also make a small cut and then “tear” the t-shirt the rest of the way to the top seam. It is quicker and more fun!

Step 3

When you get to the top seam, cut the strip horizontally below the seam so it is not part of your strip. Also, cut off the bottom seam of the strip.

Step 4

Repeat Steps 2 and 3 for the entire shirt. When you get to a graphic or an arm hole, you can cut around it and then keep going.

Step 5

Repeat Steps 1 through 4 for the second t-shirt.

Step 6

Lay out all of your strips flat on the table (it’s ok if individual strips curl). Trim strips where necessary so that they are all about the same length.

Step 7

Take your strips (I used about 13 to make each toy and was able to make two toys from this set of strips – but this can vary depending on the weight of the t-shirts you’re using and the size of your pup) and tie a knot at the one end. Pull hard to make sure the knot is as tight as possible.

Step 8

Separate your strips into 3 equal sections and start to braid.

Step 9

When you have about 5 inches of strips remaining, tie a second tight knot.

Step 10

Trim the ends of the toy so that all strips are again the same length.

Step 11

Start playing!

This Week’s Pet Project: Personalized Dog Toy Box

Even though my home needs a lot more work (for example, I have plywood instead of a counter on one side of my kitchen), I am trying not to focus on just the big projects. Therefore, this weekend, I took a trip to Michaels Craft Store to load up on picture frames (on sale, of course) and supplies for “little touches” around the home. My first project: personalizing my dog’s toy box.

I found this great wooden box during Fall Clearance at Michaels Craft Store and instantly knew it would make a great toy box to keep in my living room for my lab, Sandy. She’s fallen in love with it too — constantly emptying out her toy box all over the room!

I decided to liven it up a bit by adding Sandy’s name and a design underneath. As it was my first time using decor stencils and chalk paint, I definitely learned a few good tricks and a few things not to do along the way.


  • Letter stencils
  • Design stencil (I chose one with an arrow to include under Sandy’s name)
  • Chalk Paint
  • Paint Sponge
  • Wooden Box
  • Masking Tape
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors

The box, masking tape, tweezers, and scissors I had at home. All other supplies I purchased from Michaels Craft Store.

Step 1

First, choose a letter and accent design that you like. For this project, I used two different types of stencils. The first one required the letters be peel off and the second just required the design be placed over the the destination.

Step 2

As mentioned, my letters were of the “peel and stick” variety. Since I wanted to minimize the space between the letters, I trimmed the sides, as shown below.

Step 3

Arrange letters how you would like them to appear. I used masking tape as a guide of how to center the letters as well as to hold them down once I peeled the backs off, as the adhesive on the letters was weak. The advantage of this though is that I was able to lift and arrange the letters several times before committing to a spacing.

Step 4

Use the sponge to gently dab paint over each letter. Once done, let dry.

Step 5

Peel off the masking tape and stencils. Here is where I made a beginners mistake — I let the paint dry too long or pressed down too hard and some of the blue stencil stuck to the white paint when I lifted the stencils. But picking off the sticky blue lines with tweezers was a quick fix!

Step 6

I repeated the same steps for the second stencil — an arrow which I placed under Sandy’s name. Since this stencil did not have an adhesive, I used masking tape to keep it in place while I painted.

Step 7

After removing the tape and the stencil, I cleaned up the edges a bit with a fresh, damp sponge brush and voila!

Easy Lettered Frame

Recently my sister adopted her first pet, a rescue puppy. While I bought (and made) all sorts of toys and goodies for the puppy, I wanted to give my sister a “Congratulations” gift as well. So I lettered a picture frame and inserted a photo of her new furry baby.

When my fiancĂ© and I adopted a rescue lab last year, I made him a similar frame with her name, “Sandy,” spelled out. Especially since puppies grow so fast, it is fun to remember their first weeks with the family via a photo in a living room or on a desk.

The lettered frame is super easy to put together and the supplies I purchased to make it would have cost me less than $10 even if I had paid full price.

To make your own, follow the instructions below!


  • Picture frame with a flat front
  • Wooden letters (I chose 3/4 in tall)
  • Paint (optional)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Tweezers
  • Masking tape or painter’s tape

Step 1

Find the letters you need! Because Daisy’s name is so short, I had plenty letters left over to make her another frame or to use on future craft projects.

Step 2 (optional)

Originally, I was going to paint the wooden letters black. But after laying everything out, I decided to apply them to the frame unfinished instead. Depending on the color of your frame and its recipient, feel free to decorate the letters however you like!

Step 3

Layout the letters along the bottom, center of the frame. Use a removable masking or painter’s tape to mark off where you want your letters to start and end. This way, when you pick up the letters to add glue, you still have a guide for spacing them.

Step 4

Pick up each letter individually and flip it backwards. Hold each letter so that you have a good grip on it but don’t risk burning yourself with the glue gun. Apply three or so small dots of glue to the back of each letter. Make sure that the dots are small enough that when pressed in they do not exceed the width of the letter, as you don’t want globs of glue showing on your final project.

Step 5

Quickly (before the glue hardens), but carefully, flip the letter, align it and press down so that the glue adheres the letter securely to the frame.

Step 6

Repeat for all letters. If you don’t press down fast enough, wait until the glue drys, peel it off and start Steps 4-5 again.

Step 7

Use tweezers to remove any glue “cobwebs.”

Step 8

Fill the frame with a photo and enjoy!