Tag Archive | "DIY"

4th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge- Day 3: Open Topic

Day 3 means we are almost halfway through our 7 day challenge to use flats and handwash for 7 days. This week there are over 30 bloggers participating who have been linking their posts and today instead of there being a prompt for writing they are picking their own topic. Today I’m going to write about my over night diaper and my clothespins (Tantalizing, I know).  Make sure to scroll to the end to view others’ links.  


One of the most nerve wracking issues for me regarding the challenge is overnight diapering. Harper has always been a heavy wetter and leaving her in any standard pocket or all-in-one generally results in soggy pajamas and an early wake up call. At home I reserve my most absorbent fitteds and richest wool to save me from washing her bedding every day, but with the flats challenge, my fitteds are not an option. Last year I tried doubling up my flats, which resulted in a very bulky diaper but managed to keep her jim jams dry as long as I put the diaper on immediately before nursing to sleep and changed her the moment she woke up. This year her current wool covers are too snug to comfortably fit the doubled up flats and with the pack’n’play we’re borrowing from my best friend as her temporary camping crib I really don’t want to risk soiling her bed. I field tested my favorite flats before our trip and was thrilled to find that the generous size(about 17 inches square!) of my bamboo flat from Sweet Iris allowed me to manage a very thick but stretchy diaper fold that would still fit comfortably under a breathable wool cover. So far we’ve made it through one night at home with this combo, and one night camping. I put some extra flannel receiving blankets under the blanket she sleeps on just in case, but the mix of bamboo, additional thickness from size, and evenly distributed fold under a wool cover seems to be hitting that sweet spot that keeps Harper dry and happy all night long.

On a more fun note, I decided the mostly-electronic-free days of camping would be an excellent time to enjoy a little arts and crafts time. My poor old wooden clothespins are used and abused every day, and they are showing their age. I could just pick up a new pack, but I thought it would be more fun to give them a little makeover with supplies I already had on hand. I packed a set of Martha Stewart craft paints I’d picked up on sale a while back, and a cheap paint brush, and when Harper was busy happily playing on her own I sat down at the picnic table and gave my clothespins a fresh coat of paint. I also brought a white paint pen in case I wanted to add chevrons or polka dots or stripes, but I liked the look of the solid colors so much I just left them alone.

I didn’t get overly precious about the process, I didn’t take apart the pins or paint inside every little crevice. When Harper needed me I’d drop my brush in a little water cup and come back to finish later. It’s not perfect, but I think that’s part of the charm.

I did an even number of each color so I could pair off matching colors when pinning diapers. I realize that may seem silly, but something about the brightly colored pins securing my equally bright and cheerful diaper laundry just makes me smile. It’s amazing how chores which might seem tedious or even grueling become fun with just a little bit of effort and creativity. It reminds me of that Mary Poppins song, “Spoonful of Sugar” or maybe the dwarves’ song from Snow White “Whistle While You Work”(can you tell Harper and I have been on a Disney kick, lately? I discovered the “Frozen” station on my iTunes radio and it’s been so fun to sing along with all my old favorites. Harper loves it when I sing).

I’m really interested to see what you will blog about on this open topic day. I can’t wait to read all your entries and see what you have to say!

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12 Elf on the Shelf Ideas

The Elf on the Shelf is a fun tradition our family looks forward to each year.  I enjoy finding new hiding places and scenarios for Wyatt and have come up with quite a few fun ones over the years.  I’ve decided to compile my favorites from past adventures and included a few new ideas that I’m planning to use this year!  Some days when I have the time Wyatt gets into more elaborate scenes than others.  If you’re wondering how our elf is able to strike such handsome poses it is thanks to the “Hack Your Elf on the Shelf” tutorial that you need to check out!  There is still time to find an Elf  and time to hack him/her if you hurry!


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One Year at Home in Florida and One Year of Busting Arse

One year ago, on July 4th, I drove down to Florida with my two kids (and my sister, who was helping) and our family was reunited again. For those new here or for anyone who has forgotten, my boys and I lived for 6 months in North Carolina while my husband lived in Florida. We moved from Syracuse after bidding on a home in Florida. My husband’s job transferred him to Tampa so he had to go straight there, but we have nowhere to live other than a hotel, and no timeframe for when we would get the home. It was a short sale so these things can take as little as 1-2 months, or as long as a year. It was a HUGE gamble because they never give you a time table.



After the six month wait for the home, we finally moved in. That is when the real work began. The home was in bad shape- liveable but not pretty. I took a lot of time away from the blog in order to focus on painting and remodeling the bathroom. Between the 6 months I lived in Charlotte without access to most of my filming equipment, and the 6 months of intense work on the home, this blog suffered a lot. Shockingly, the traffic didn’t dip like I thought it would.

I was a woman on a mission and painting took first priority. I woke up every day and painted for 5-8 hours a day. I would take off every other day and do something fun with my kids to make up for the previous day of ignoring them while I was painting.

Now I can finally say that things have slowed down in the home remodeling department. I won’t lie and say that we don’t have more work to do. We have replaced all but two doors and need to replace all of the door hardware and paint the trim around the doors…. you can really see how dingy they look in the second photo.

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There are holes in the drywall from moving the water heater to the garage to make room for a pantry in our laundry room and that is being done this month.



I still want to rip out the giant stone planter with my bare hands but it will be a lot of work or a lot of money, or both. And the outside of the home is basically crying out for the help of HGTV or DIY- we have a rotten deck that needs replacing, a pool deck and pool that need major help, and our landscaping is the shame of the cul-de-sac.

Regardless of what we haven’t done, I’m so proud of the work we have finished over the year. We checked off every major interior fix we had on our to-do list to make this house a home. No more orange paint, no more peeling doors, no more ugly grey front door, bye-bye 1970′s bathroom, and no more hideous and filthy light switches and outlets. Hello thrifty mid century furniture finds and modern colors.  You can go back and look at the before/afters on this old post (a lot of changes have been made since the post but not enough to take new photos, except for the family room- the blue recliner went bye bye):


Before and After Rooms

I am still on the hunt for the perfect mid century furniture and decor to complete our home but that will take time and patience. Now we have the time to actually enjoy our new life in Florida, see the sights, visit the parks, and spend our weekends as a family rather than spending them at Home Depot.

I’ve blogged a heckuva lot about our home progress, I’m linking the old posts for anyone who wants to look back at the work and projects we have done this year.  Thanks to everyone’s patience as our family and home took priority over the blog.  Things are picking up in the productivity department and I can’t wait to share all of the fun projects and ideas I have with you!

Before/After House- Photos of each room

Guest Bathroom Remodel- The Octopus Bathroom (featured on Offbeat home!)

Entryway- The Fated Thrift Store Chairs

Master Bedroom Makeover- Serene Retreat

Laundry Room- Utilizing a Small Space

Front Living Room- Orange to Grey

Front Door- Grey to Purple

Golden Girls Room-Downloadable GG Quotes



Thrifted Night Stands- Traditional to Modern

Thrifted Chair- Painted upholstery (it works!)

Thrifted Dresser- Ombre Mid Century Mod masterpiece

Thrifted Frames+DIY Silhouette- Easy Tutorial



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Ombré dresser before and after

Thrift Store Find- DIY Ombré Dresser

Ombré dresser before and after

My latest furniture project was turning a gross, nicotine stained mid century style dresser into an ombré painted beauty!  I’ve been keeping my eye out for a dresser that would work for my son’s room.  Since we moved in his clothes have been stored in two rubbermaid sets of drawers in the closet.  Fletcher has picked up a real sense of fashion lately and has a lot more clothes than would fit in those so he needed an upgrade.  After seeing the amazing ombré dresser on Young House Love I’ve wanted to do one but had to wait until finding the perfect dresser.  Thanks to the 50% off sale at my local thrift shop and a perfect fit for this project I came home with this guy for $34.50.  I purposefully chose a dresser that wasn’t super nice because I would hate to ruin something that would be more suited to new stain and not a whole lot of paint.  For that reason this dresser fit the bill perfectly and the hardware drew me in right away.  It was coated in grease and dirt and the dresser was badly stained yellow.  I don’t think the photos can convey how filthy it was.  I used the Centsational Girl laminate painting furniture tutorial since this was a laquered style paint job and it seems to be working great.  The color palette was imspired by a dresser on Thrifty Inspirations.  It isn’t perfectly smooth but I think overall it looks pretty nice!

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Thrift Store Find- Plain Nightstands to Modern Two-Tone Masterpieces

In one trip 2 weeks ago I scored big at Goodwill. Not only did I come home with a nice upholstered chair that I painted and shared last week, but I also found matching nightstands. I’d been scouring Craigslist for a few months for a set. My goal was to find something mid century in good condition for a fair price. I was willing to refinish or paint a set if the right ones came along to save money. I didn’t score my dream set but these would work with my plan. Knowing the tops would likely be damaged on a older set I wanted to paint all but the drawers white for a modern two-tone look. It would be important to find a set that was all wood and where, if possible, the drawers were in good shape enough to leave intact. Boy did I ever find the perfect set for this! I paid $45 each.
You can see that I did one pair first to make sure I liked it before I potentially ruined the next.
The lighting from the open garage was a little too flattering, there are scratches on the front and sides too.
They came to me with scratches, some pretty deep. They weren’t in poor condition and could have been used as is for some people.

I sanded the surfaces I intended to paint down as much as possible to remove the shiny finish so that paint would adhere. I also filled in the deeper scratches so that when I painted the surface would be pretty smooth.
I realized after painting that the joints were open and would look like cracks. After giving the whole thing a coat of white I went back with some caulk and filled in any of those obvious cracked joints then added more coats of paint on top.
You can see this made a pretty big difference. I don’t think I would have been as happy with the results had I not done this.
I used a gloss white spray paint from Rustoleum and made sure to tape the cabinet opening since it would be visible when opened. Also taped off the brass ends on the legs. It took 4-5 coats.
Here is the finished product. The hardware took some hunting… I wanted a bar but the width between the two holes from the previous knobs was an odd width for bars. I managed to find some at Ikea that are just a hair too narrow but you can’t tell since I screwed them in each a little crooked. The cabinet hardware is also Ikea.
It has a coat of poly on top of the paint as well for a nice “lacquered” looking shine and this made the whole piece look much more professional. I did sand the paint before applying. I did a wet sand on the tops and a regular fine grit sand everywhere else.
On my husband’s side.
A front view of them side by side.
Like I said, I never would have picked these up had they not worked perfectly for the two-tone plan. The paint and hardware make them look so much more modern to me and I feel like they could be mistaken for new pieces that cost a lot more than $45 each. With the hardware and paint they would be about $58 each. If you run across a dresser or nightstand this scheme could work for you too.

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My Thrift Store Find- Painted Chair Upholstery Before/After

Since learning that it is possible to paint the upholstery I’ve had it in my head that I was going to find a chair and do it. There are different ways to paint fabric including actual fabric spray paint or Tulip fabric paint. I chose to use a latex paint/water/fabric medium mixture seen on Hyphenated Interiors and various other blogs.  I scored a chair for $10 at Goodwill that was perfectly suited to be painted.  In photos it doesn’t look too bad, even the color isn’t hideous, but I needed to match the pillows in my living room.  There were some marks on the seat that only paint would have covered so I promise I didn’t ruin a good chair!
Painted Upholstery Chair Before/After

I knew, because I’m lazy and hate doing a ton of coats, that I would need to pick a chair that was light in color. In total I did 2 full coats and went back to cover a few missed spots I noticed after the second coat dried. It took longer than I expected and was more effort too. Luckily I chose a chair with less fabric to paint.

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After one coat it was still pretty soft once I sanded the paint, but the coverage wasn’t there yet.


The material is a velour and, after painting, feels and looks more like a microsuede. The sheen the original fabric had was lost during painting which adds to that microsuede look. It isn’t nearly as soft as the original fabric but I wouldn’t describe it as rough or crunchy either.  Also, to take care of the scratches I rubbed a walnut over them, then washed the whole chair with Murphy’s Oil Soap, which made the wood look almost new.

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I painted in all of the nooks and crannies but one and this should give you an idea of the texture difference.

My intention for this chair was to fill a corner in my front living room, a spot that wouldn’t often see an actual visitor. I figured that, if nothing else, the chair would look nice there. To tie the chair in more with my “mid century modern” decor I picked up an “as-is” lamp that I’ve been eying from Ikea for half off! I went there thinking of buying it full price, I just got lucky that day!

Painted fabric chair

The total cost of the chair after buying 2 bottles of fabric medium (1.99 each at Michaels) and a quart of latex paint ($13.00 Glidden brand from Home Depot) was $28.00.  The materials cost more than the chair itself!  Had I not been trying to match the look of my couch pillows and had used paint already laying around the cost would have only been $14.00.

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A Peek Inside My Home- Before and After

We purchased a home in need of a lot of TLC. It’s been months since we moved in and I just recently completed painting the home. Every. Single. Room. Me. Just me. I couldn’t stop until each room was painted because when we bought the home every room was some shade of orange or yellow. Not only was our home orange but it was a badly painted orange. Light switches were coated with paint, splatters were all over the windows, paint was even dripped on the marble under windows and floor! The laziness of whoever did that job still astounds me. What ever happened to pride of ownership and attention to details? I’m not a miracle worker. Many of their mistakes can’t be fixed but I’ve done my best to make this home as polished as possible without spending a fortune on contractors and professional painters. It’s the little things like replacing every electrical outlet and light switch, re-caulking trim work, patching holes, and of course the new paint.  My husband and I couldn’t be more proud of the work we have done and we make a great team.  Even though I did the painting he did the electrical, much of the bathroom gutting and remodeling, and most of the heavy lifting.

Before and After Rooms

Now it’s time to sit back and see what about $600 worth of paint and at least 100 hours of painting can accomplish. Keep in mind this is a work in progress. I’m still hoping to find the perfect mid century pieces to add to the home or to replace items I’m not in love with. Many of the items in the home were thrift finds (virtually all of the pieces in the Golden Girls room were). You can also find even more photos for each room if the room name is a link- just click it.

The Front Door, lights, and exterior



The Entryway





The Family Room






The Kitchen





The Master Bedroom




The Master Bathroom




The Front Room





The Office (formerly a dining room)





The Octopus Bathroom (our only full gut and remodel)



Everett’s Bedroom (serves as second guest too)




Fletcher’s Bedroom






The Golden Girls Guest Room






The Laundry Room



Just for fun, these are a few examples of the laziness of the previous owners (or contractors?) who painted and did “repairs” and some of the condition issues we faced. Many outlets were painted over and stuck to the walls, and there were dozens of holes left from feeding cables through the drywall for TV’s.


Despite all of the blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into our home there are so many projects on my to-do list. Now I feel at home here and can’t imagine living anywhere else. The thought of moving in the future is far from my mind (unless we find a true mid century home!) because this house has so much of us in it. The biggest next step- landscaping! Oy! Can’t a girl get some rest?!

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The Laundry Room Makeover In Progress- Utilizing a Small Space

Two weekends ago my husband and I set out to redo the small laundry room in the home.  It was my birthday gift that he help me, because otherwise I doubt this project would have landed high on his to-do list.  The room prior was white (the only non orange room in the home!) with white laminate cabinets with a few holes in the back, not visible when the doors were closed.  The wall was filthy, partially my fault because I was spraying paint all over when washing out my brushes and pans.  A large hole was in the wall on the right side that I patched months ago in preparation for eventual painting.

Here she is before-

I decided to have some fun with this room since it was so much smaller than any other room I had painted before.  Rather than making life easy on myself I decided to use Frogtape to stripe the wall with a few shades of greay I had leftover.  One was a sage-y grey called Sedate Gray and the other was Pebble Grey, the same color as 3 other rooms.  The white was Dover White, which is a tad more tan than a pure white.  With textured walls I had to make sure the tape was nice and smooth for a straight line and no bleeds so I took a tennis ball and pressed over each line very hard.  This resulted in beautiful and perfect lines!

Now here she is After-

For the cabinets we spent over an hour measuring and analyzing the cabinets at my favorite store, Habitat for Humanity ReStore.  The vision was to find a set that would work to mount a bar between so that I could hang certain things right out of the dryer.  This set was $95 and is all wood with the slow close feature.  They look brand new.  Knowing I was losing the bar I used to have to make room for shelves this was something I needed so we mounted them about 8 inches apart.

Another must was hanging the laundry baskets from a slot rail system with arms to keep the small amount of space I had on the floor clear, and the tops of the washer and dryer clean. Steven found this rail system at Home Depot for a reasonable price, and the baskets are smaller than standard and sold from Target. I couldn’t have mounted my larger baskets and had the cabinets where I needed them too.  My husband also replaced the old utility sink faucet with a new one that has a removable spray handle.  That would have been used heavily while I was a painting fiend but it is good to have now too.

The room isn’t finished yet. Our kitchen is not equipped with a pantry and we have been struggling with food storage. Right now remodeling the kitchen and installing a pantry isn’t in our budget and the cabinets are relatively new. Instead I decided to add shelving to the back wall of the laundry room for larger food items and things we don’t reach for often. That hasn’t been installed yet but i imagine it will look like this with a set of two sliding doors.

I’m also looking to add a shelf above the washer and dryer to hide the outlet and duct that are exposed now. This is a professional artist’s rendering.

That is one of those things I’ve started doing since working on the house so much. I photoshop in furniture items and rugs or paint colors just to make sure I really understand how it will look. It has been a lifesaver. I did this before I purchased the credenza for our entryway, I shopped the Octopus from the bathroom wall to see what color would look good, and I did the same for the stripes on the laundry room wall. It doesn’t have to look amazing, it just needs to give you an idea. Photoshop can save you a lot of money and heartache if you find out you don’t want something based on your rendering.

After painting the laundry room and our master bathroom I am now completely finished with painting the house walls!  I still have some door trim work left and the closets but… I’m celebrating!

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Our Serene Retreat- the Master Bedroom Makeover

Our master bedroom wasn’t as desperate as most of the other rooms in our home when we moved in (you can see the whole home in before photos here).  6 years ago there was a fire in that side of the home and so it was re-done including the master bathroom.  For this reason these two rooms came last on the list to re-paint.  While the original color wasn’t terrible for the space there were holes in the wall like swiss cheese from a TV mount and shelving that used to be.

I decided to keep a little warmth in the room and went with Independent Gold from Sherwin Williams.  After a lot of hole patching, some removal of a bad caulk job on spots on the trim and re-caulking, new outlets and plates, and a fresh coat of paint on the walls and trim we now have a whole new room!

The standing lamp was a 5 year anniversary gift from my husband. You might notice a plaque on the base which is engraved. Interesting gift choice…  I aslo replaced the antiqued brass knobs on the nightstand to the right with a new brushed nickel one.

I found a frame from Ikea that works well to hold my photos of Fletcher through the ages.

For Christmas my MIL gave me a painting of my husband and I’s favorite little hole in the wall bar and burger joint in Charlotte NC, The Penguin, which is on the armoire on the right.

A few tokens from our wedding- the invitation, the “Save the Date’s, the ornament he used to hide my engagement ring on when he proposed on Christmas Day in 2007, the tassel from my college graduation which took place 3 months prior to our wedding day, and my DIY handmade birdcage veil and hair piece.

Above our bed hangs a summary of our lives together- the center photo was my 5 year wedding anniversary gift to my husband. I went back to our college and photographed the exact hallway where we met. The photo on the left is from our wedding day of course, and the right photo is our whole little family.

The dresser was a fabulous thrift store find- a mid century Bassett for 63.00. It needed some minor scratch repair and a good washing with Murphy’s Oil Soap. The lamp was also from the thrift store for $5.00 and the shade is from Target.

The mirror to the right belongs to the dresser but I kind of like it just propped up on the wall and not mounted. We’ll see how it goes.

I really wanted to raise the height of the curtain rods so I filled the holes and raised it about 2-3 inches and mounted it wider a few inches. The curtains are from Ikea- $19.99 for a pack of 2 panels and I have 4. The rod was already in the home when we moved in so that was free. I have Ev’s 1-2 year photos framed next to the window.

The room isn’t complete just yet. Yesterday I found the exact doors I have been drooling over at the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store. Brand new craftsman style 5 panel doors. I’m planning on painting them black and replacing the door to my room, bathroom, and the laundry room. I’ve been hunting for a matching set of nightstands to refinish as well to replace the mismatch tables we have now.

With only one room left to paint, the master bathroom, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. And I can reclaim the closet in our home that is dedicated to paint materials. I’m so in love with our bedroom I can’t even hide it. It’s so serene and adult, free of toys and clutter, just the way a master bedroom should be.

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Easy+Cheap Custom Silhouette Tutorial

The little ol’ granny in me has always wanted one of those cameo style silhouettes in a beautiful oval frame.  It is something that has been on my “must craft” list for a long time but only recently came true over the weekend.  I’m glad I waited because the craft came AFTER finding the perfect vintage oval frames at my favorite thrift store for $2.00 each.  They are completely made of plastic that is painted to resemble wood.  I think they are convincing.  The date on the back?  1970!

With the frames in hand I set about making my silhouettes of my boys.  Here is how I did it.  It was all by hand (no fancy Silhouette Cameo machine, but I would take one if I was offered it!) with an exacto knife.  Check the supply list, read over the instructions, and in one day you could have your own granny style art for your home!  Total cost- about $3.38 in supplies plus $4.00 for the frames.


Exacto Knife (with a nice sharp blade)
Card stock/scrapbooking paper for the silhouette
Card stock/scrapbooking paper for the background
White craft glue or glue stick
Printed profile photo to use as template

Step 1: Take your profile photos 

Once you realize almost everything you need is already in your home you are probably like “Let’s get this craft started!”  The first thing you need to do is bribe your subjects into standing still long enough to take a profile photo.  I’ll include mine to show you what I started with.  Fletcher wouldn’t stand still for anything but Ev would, except he wouldn’t turn his body to the side so I had to fudge a little on his neck to pretend that he did.  Some people will include the bust area in the silhouette but I only wanted the neck.

Once that is over you are done with the hardest part!

Step 2: Make Your Template

After uploading the pictures to my computer I decided to make my templates using Photoshop Elements. You can skip this is you would rather simply print your images and cut around their faces with scissors, just keep in mind you might still need to re-size those photos to make them the exact dimensions you want.  In Photoshop I used the quick selection tool to select just his face and neck, then deleted the background around him.  Next I cleaned up the edges to make sure what printed would be exactly the shape I wanted.  Afterwards I set the image to grayscale and deleted everything from the insides.  This was just to save printer ink.

Step 3: Cut and Trace

After you have your templates printed and you decide they are the correct size you can start the cutting process. I should mention that you can also opt to print your template directly onto you chosen paper if it is a light enough color and the correct size paper- if you do this you want the silhouette printed backwards of the side you wish it to face on. If you choose to print on printer paper you will need to cut the template very carefully. You can use scissors for this cut but again, with very small cuts you will want to take it slow and easy. With your template in hand you can trace onto your nice paper- flip the template over so that you are tracing around it upside down. After cutting your final piece you will want any leftover marks on the back.

Step 3: Cut out your Silhouette

With the outline traced it is time to start cutting. Using a very sharp exacto knife you will want to slowly and carefully cut along your pencil lines. I would start with a half press and then retrace the same cut with full pressure to cut it completely. I wasn’t perfect by any means and the smallest cuts like the points of the cow licks and the eyelashes aren’t as smooth as the longer cuts. Just take it easy and remember that your guests won’t notice those tiny imperfections even if they are staring you in the face. After you have a tiny head in your hands flip it over. You might have raised edges from the pressure of the cuts in places, you can smooth them down. Trim any rough “hang nails” as well.

Step 4: Glue ‘er Down

When you are happy with your little silhouette it’s time to glue it down to your backing. I chose a nice black scrapbook paper with a slight sheen to add more interest than just plain black. I already had Elmer’s glue at home and wasn’t sure how it would work out but it did OK. I believe a glue stick would have been better though. I used a foam brush to very lightly paint the glue over the back to prevent the rippling of paper that is too wet with glue. You want to cover the entire surface area all the way to the edge, but again, as light as possible to prevent oozing and rippling.

Step 5: Frame!

I decided to hang a few framed pictures in the hallway, including my new silhouettes, to the three bedrooms on the east side of the house. Most guests would never see these unless they are staying with us so it is a hodge podge of pictures that mean something to us. I will add more to it as time goes on.

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Bummis Duo-Brite, Little Tunas, Opulent Monsters