Experiment in Deglossing: Sofa Table

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In the fall I found this sofa table in a good old fashioned curbside rescue. I had been driving around to keep O cool and happy during a long, hot soccer tournament. She eventually fell asleep. Of course that’s right when I discovered the sofa table waiting for me on the curb. Picture me trying to smuggle the table into my car without waking her. I moved two car seats and had to fold down one and a half rows in the Pilot all without waking O. Now picture me hoisting this beast into the back of the car all by my lonesome… Again, without waking the baby. The funny part is that I went through all this with absolutely no idea where I was going to use the table. In general the style is a little too formal and traditional to mesh with most of our decor. And the dark finish had seen better days and the rolling feet and bowed legs were less than modern. But there was something about it… Perhaps the fact that it had no price tag? I had to have it.

It sat in the garage for months (obviously- it’s July). I don’t think I ever got a decent before picture until I started sanding it. I often walked by it thinking about the possibilities, or lack of, that it had in our home. A couple of times I even considered curbing it myself. Hubby liked that idea best of course. But recently I have been trying to bring more order to the guest room (more on that later), so I suddenly imagined it serving as a desk/vanity/tv stand. Does that even make sense? Maybe not just yet but hang with me. The room is snug… And that is a generous description. I’d guesstimate it to be 8’x10′. So every single piece in there needs to serve a good purpose, hopefully multiple purposes. Without a full plan I decided to start painting the sofa table because it would need some love no matter where it was going to end up. And I just had to get it out of the garage.

First I sanded like crazy because there was a ton of sheen to break down on this thing. Then I whipped out a recent impulse purchase: liquid deglosser. I had heard great things and given the hard to sand rounded edges I had to deal with I figured it was worth a try, especially at $7 a bottle.  A $7 mistake is okay with me.  And if it was a bust I had only tried it on a free table with no real hope to begin with.

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After all that sanding and deglossing I still had to deal with a laminate top. Why !?!? I had hoped the sanding and deglossing would do the trick but I wasn’t so lucky. Enter: my trusty friend Kilz primer. Primer was already necessary since it was going from dark wood (now sanded) to a light painted finish so I gave it a go on the laminate top as well. Result? Win. I highly recommend a coat or two of Kilz primer on anything laminate or “unpaintable”. Worked like a charm for me. I used two coats to be safe. Then I grabbed a cream color of the Sherwin Williams sample quarts I had from my friend B (it’s an exterior paint that she had used to sample her wood shingle sided house before deciding on a delicious gray color. I kindly saved her from having to kitty litter and toss a half dozen sample quarts and she unknowing funded my freebie crafting obsession.)

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Sand, degloss, two coats primer, two coats of paint. In the end I was left with a more “yard sale chic” version of the starting point. I painted the hardware to the faux drawer (easier than flawlessly filling the holes) with bronze spray paint. The end result was a pleasant surprise.

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Here it is as the desk/tv stand/vanity in the guest room.  See what I mean when I say the guest room is snug? I plan on wrangling the cable/internet wires, finding a stool or ottoman to tuck underneath. Lookout for an actual post on the guest room. It really deserves it.

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Whomp, Whomp. My Wall Art FAIL

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It’s no secret I like love coffee. And Hubby does too. In fact, we spend a couple hours every weekend at our favorite local coffee house. For us, the coffee is great but it’s also about the people. We’ve been going to the same coffee shop for nearly 10 years. Until a couple of years ago, we lived around the corner and went each morning before work. This place and the people there are a big part of our lives. Many of them have attended our baby shower, mentored us on business and family, and even exchange Christmas cards and gifts with us.

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Now that you understand how important all things coffee actually are… Hopefully it will make sense how much I love these burlap coffee sacks. I saw them at coffee shop and asked if they had any empty ones I could have. I was given two sacks right on the spot. Now I need to find a way to incorporate this quirky tidbit into our decor. Until I found the coffee bags I had considered painting a still life if a mug or a coffee bean for the gallery wall but those were just too literal.

So I attempted to hang one directly on the half bath wall. Like- I NAILED IT TO THE WALL.

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Something’s not right. I hung it sideways so it would be more graphic and abstract. I was disappointed at how it looked so I sent out a pic to a few friends. The responses were hilarious! Hubby said it was too homeless beach hobo style for him. Molly said it dominated the small bathroom. Another friend asked if I had purposely hung it horizontally. And my sister was disgusted that I hung what would otherwise be “trash” on a wall. Tell me how ya really feel! The point is that it’s not working. I still want to use this in a fun way somewhere in the house. This half bath just isn’t where it belongs. Back to the drawing board. I need to find a use for the sack and wall art for the bathroom.

Tell me I’m not the only one! What have you tried in your projects or decor that failed miserably? What did you learn and how did you fix it?

Curbside Rescue

Remember a while back when I rescued this baby from the curb a few blocks from my house in a snow storm? She was so sad and in need of lots of love.

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Well I’ve had some time (finally) to sand, prime and paint it. Because of weather (Cincinnati has beautiful spring days followed by crazy rain and then a cold fall-like day) I decided to do this project in the garage. That also allowed me to take my time (I’m sure Hubby loves that). But one afternoon I sanded it and scrubbed it down. Then next I had time for some primer. I don’t think I started painting until the next week. At least the coats of paint had plenty of dry time. So this is how my garage looked for a while. My car doesn’t fit in the garage so I didn’t mind. Well it fits, but once its in I can’t get out of the car… unless I climbed out a window or something. Its snug… so the garage is sort of my studio instead. Oh, and Hubby parks on the other side.

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We discussed where we want this to go and decided it will be most useful and fit best in our still-in-progress master bedroom. Hubby and I both liked the older style, lines and detail of the wood work. We chose the gray from the family room/foyer (Ashes by Behr) and crisp whit trim paint. We already had both so the only thing we will have to buy is hardware. I’ll put that on my list.

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Hopefully, it will be moved up to our room this weekend after we add hardware. But not bad for a dumpster dive/curbside rescue if I do say so myself!

Things I’m Loving

Ah, April. I’m so happy to see you. And thanks for bringing our old pal Sun. I’ve missed you both. March was a “lion” in so many ways. We bounced between snow storms and 60 degree days and back again. And my migraines followed. Oy. O started talking even more… I’d say she has about 20 clear words. No walking yet but she constantly babbles to her toys and in her carseat. Pretty much everywhere. Even in her sleep. Yes, my 16 month old talks about cookies, the dog and her friend Z in her sleep. Cute, except for that if she’s talking then I’m not sleeping. In addition, I had an entire week off of work. While the kids frolicked in the sand I was busy at home with projects for Hilda. I did a bunch of little things and a few larger projects and they will all be posted as I write them. For now I have a handful of things that I’m just loving. They made my day, sometimes even my week. Here are a few of my little treasures.

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Shoes. What girl doesn’t love shoes? Even O is into them. She finds shoes all over the house or in the mudroom and brings them to me saying “Schlooes!”… She’s totally my kid. These are a recent Target find (Surprise, surprise). I am always looking for work shoes that aren’t flip flops, Nikes or Uggs. Most of spring and fall I live in flats. They just slip on when my hands are busy with baby, bags, dog, keys and door. I also love that I can toss them on with just about anything: jeans (skinny or otherwise), crops, skirts etc. So easy. I need easy in my life anywhere I can put it. These babies are a pewter tone with a black toe covered in rose gold studs and some bad-ass spikes. I’ve been asked by the 7 year old not to wear these when we play kickball.

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This is the gorgeous St. Xavier Catholic Church in Cincinnati. Although I’ve attended many masses here as well as weddings, I’ve now also watched the St. Patrick’s day Parade from it’s front steps. I couldn’t help but admire all of this architecture from my seat on the steps. Incredible.

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I’m not embarrassed to admit that this was rescued from the curb only a couple blocks from my house. In a heavy downpour of snow. Molly and I saw it, stopped in the middle of the road and reversed to grab it. Even through the snow we saw that it was a solid piece (dovetail joints!) and had beautiful shape and character. We carefully tossed it on top of my beloved stroller (cringe!) and brought it to the garage. This was one of my vacation week projects. And just you wait… the facelift is pretty awesome.

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One of my favorite things is to catch O totally off guard. Her face is always hilarious. The other day at work, I watched from the other side of the kitchen as she examined the open dishwasher. She played with the racks and looked under the door and after much exploration I watched as she climbed on in. I whipped (I think that’s where the blur effect is from… the whipping action) out my iPhone and snapped a pic. Then I took her off and told her she can’t do that anymore. I don’t want to buy a dishwasher… especially for someone else’s house.

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I shouldn’t have to remind you that I’m a big kid. Last week I was playing with Z and he was meticulously lining up all the lego action heroes. He very particular and takes it pretty seriously. These guys are like 2 inches tall. Batman and Robin are always side by side. And they both look so serious. And look at that Gotham City behind them!

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Oh Em Gee. This is a spectacular creation I made as a snack (you know, to go with a glass of wine of course). I used Blue Oven Bakery’s Potato Rosemary Squares to make a grilled apple and goat cheese sandwich. It was beyond delish. Too bad it was my last square, but I plan on buying them again and creating a few more culinary delights. If you haven’t made it to any of their market locations (Findley, Clark Montessori and such) then you are missing out. I order you to go get a loaf of Bad Girl or Sourdough. Like, now.

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A sure sign of spring is always in fashion. I found some great peach, deep mint and berry jeans on a run to Target and TJMaxx. They are often my first stops when trying a new trend I’m not sure about. Then I only spend half to see if I can swing the colored jean look. And by the way, I’m in love and I now believe that anyone can swing it. And if you’re scared just try a colored jean with a black top and a statement necklace. You’ll believe in yourself in no time.

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On a quick run for coffee at Caribou I decided to stay and enjoy my cup near their fireplace. These little guys were on the mantle. How adorable! I want some for myself! No worries, I didn’t smuggle them home with me. I will, however, keep an eye out for something similar to use as winter decor next year. Maybe even add a red nose to one? He he.

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In an alleyway between Hyde Park Square and the pay lot I noticed these colored bricks. They are clearly remnants of an old painted building billboard from when the building next to it (that makes the other wall of the alley) didn’t yet exist. I’m thinking more than 80 years ago? I’ve walked through this alley countless times over the last 10 years and I’m shocked I’ve never noticed them before. How awesome is that old typography! Pretty cool.

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Well I am Hilda Gotrocks. While I was working on a project bracelet I fumbled through some tumbled crystals. I forgot how much I love these. They are cool, dense and heavy in my hand. I just love the light they reflect and how much they resemble ice. An old favorite for me.

Preschooler Play and Toddler To Do’s

A while back a friend asked me what kinds of things I do with kids on the cheap and with a baby in the house. It is always a challenge to keep older siblings busy while you are strapped to house by baby naps, and forced to be quiet. Cold winter days and rainy spring afternoons only make this harder. Another challenge for many of us is the cost of so many activities, outings and toys. I’ve compiled a list of simple thrills for kids up to 5 years old. Most don’t cost much money… and I really believe in making memories with kids. They won’t remember the stuff and much as they remember doing things together. Kind of like at Christmas… O loved all the wrapping paper and boxes and barely noticed most of the gifts. While diapers are expensive, kids only cost as much at you let them cost.

I mean, look at this face.

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Stamps and Stickers: A&Z both loved stamping all over a pad of newsprint. I bought a bunch in the clearance bins at Michael’s and the dollar store. Melissa and Doug sell a few little sets too. Also, look for “foamies”… Little foam stickers. Paper isn’t the only place for stickers. I’ve let them decorate their art boxes, shoe boxes and all kids of things with stickers. Its amzing how much time kids can spend with this activity. For younger kids it can be an opportunity to idenify animals, shapes and expand vocabulary. For older kids it provides a creative outlet and can spark a little imagination.

Crayons: Have you seen those Crayola crayon holders for little hands? Huge help to get him going on controlling a crayon. Larger and thicker crayons can be easier for little hands too. Talk about colors, shapes, even start some letter recognition.

Recycled Crayons: Preschoolers love this one. We keep old crayon nubs and broken pieces of crayons around for a while. Eventually we dig them out of the crayon tub and separate them from the useable ones. Then I let the kids make piles of the nubby crayons in a muffin tin (mini muffin tins are best because it doesn’t take as much to fill them and the crayons you make become thicker). The piles don’t have to match or have any of the same colors… you really can’t do this wrong. Then I place the muffin tin in a 250 degree oven and check on them every 5 minutes or so. When the crayons have melted to liquid I slowly remove the tin from the oven… hot liquid wax is dangerous. Then we let them cool for an hour or so and pop out our new recycle crayons! The shape is easy for kids to hold and when they use them they are coloring with a rainbow or tie dye effect. For older kids I ask them to make observations about what might happen before we put them in the oven and the happened after and why they think it. Doesn’t hurt to add a little science to it!

Go Big: Another big hit is a bunch of giant sheets of paper and a long roll of paper I bought from Ikea. Z still loves to have me draw roads and tracks for his cars and trains …and with a roll of paper they can go on forever! We have made signs with giant messages to welcome new cousins to the world and then we took pictures with the kids holding it and sent them in texts or posted them online for family. You can make birthday signs for each person’s birthday to hang in a doorway, or welcome them home from a trip. We also trace hands, toys, do leaf rubbings, and he thinks its way cool that we lay on the floor to draw. The possibilities are endless!

Playdoh: I probably don’t need to tell you that it is amazing. We have tons of it and to be honest you only need a few colors and a couple of the utensils. If you don’t want to buy any try this recipe I posted a while back for homemade dough. Big kids love measuring and making it. And everyone loves playing with it. As far as what to use for utensils: stamps work on playdoh, kitchen utensils like a butter knife or whisk, anything with texture, cups, cookie cutters, ice trays and the list goes on. Playing with dough is great for small motor skills, imagination and sensory development. I actually find it relaxing myself.

Nature Walks: Give kids a bag to “collect” anything he thinks is cool on a walk. Bring them home and talk about all the things he found, the season, animals, rocks… Whatever. This always sparks conversation. “I Spy”, “Follow the Leader” and “Simon Says” are also a fun games for a nature walk. Don’t live near a trail? So what… a walk down the sidewalk or through a park is just as exciting. Even if it’s snowing a 15 minute walk and fresh air can cure cabin fever. I’ve also had older kids help me make a list of things we think we may find and then make it more of a scavenger hunt for them.

Make Wishes: I keep pennies in my car for making wishes in fountains we pass by. Sometimes we make a point of finding a fountain to make a wish in. We count our pennies, observe the years on them, and close our eyes and wish reeeeally hard.

Storytime: You can’t read to a kid enough. Go to the library and get new and unfamiliar books often. Make your own storytime… we cuddle up in a blanket and read all of our books as soon as we get home. And do it again a few times a week. This often suffices as “rest” for kids who no longer nap but still need some chill out time midday. Check your library’s and local bookstore’s schedules. Many of them have regular story time, music play and such for free!

Puzzles: Those wooden ones with pegs are great. Most kids can do some large piece ones, and anything with the alphabet. Use the Go Big method above to make your own puzzles. If your kids get tired of puzzles or have them all memorized consider swapping puzzles with friends for a couple of weeks. Fresh puzzles for everyone!

Play House: Have a “picnic” with pretend food, “cook” and stuff too. Let the kids lead the way. They love being in charge and telling us what to do for once. It’s always interesting to hear their perception of roles in the household too. I”ve heard kids say, “We need to go to Target. Can you be on your best behavior?” or “I’m going to drop the kids at school and go get coffee.” They can do this for hours!

Build A Fort: This is a great exercise for problem solving, imagination and creativity. Building the fort is a blast and using it is fun too. Consider reading books, doing puzzles or “hiding out” in the fort. Kids think I’m a genius when we do this.

Inside Picnics: We eat lunch somewhere besides the kitchen table. We have done it in a fort, at the coffee table, under the kitchen table, with his stuffed animals, on the front porch, in the tailgate of my SUV. Anywhere.

PJ Day: Let the kids wear their PJ’s all day. Even go to the grocery store with them on. They think its so silly and funny. On this day we also do breakfast for lunch. Pancakes for lunch is always a hit!

Make Noise: (Ok- not too much). Have concerts with paper towel and toilet paper tubes, tissue boxes. Filling baby food jars or pop bottles with beans, rice and pasta makes great “instruments”. None of them make too much noise though.

Scavenger Hunt in a Bottle: Fill a clear soda bottle about halfway with rice. Drop in random objects to “find” in the rice. Think crayons, beads, paperclips, pennies, bouncy ball… anything that will fit in the hole and you won’t miss. The more rice in the bottle, the harder it is to find the objects. Seal the bottle (I always add super glue to avoid disasters) and start searching. Kids can roll the bottle every which way to find the objects.

Pipe Cleaners: The possibilities are endless! String large wooden beads on them (more motor skills!), or make a macaroni necklace, build a house (in my case a Bat Cave for Batman), bracelets,

Penne Picasso: Glue pasta on paper. So simple- he can’t mess it up, there is no paint and its inexpensive! Use pasta to make necklaces on yarn to to decorate a shoe box.

Ball Pit: Ikea, Target and other big box stores sell those plastic balls for ball pits. Put them in a pack n play or crib for an instant ball party. This never gets old. And when he’s done he can help you clean them up. For bigger kids let them fill as small room.

Cooking and Baking: Let kids help prepare their meals. From choosing a plate and utensils and setting the table to letting them stir and teaching them to measure. You’ll be surprised how happy they are to help. They really do like a little responsibility! And preparing food together makes time for a good little conversation. It’s often the only way I can get the “What did you do at school today?” question answered. You can also teach them about their food and where it comes from along with encouraging trying new foods and making them aware of a having healthy diet.

Sink or Float: Gather some household items to see if they sink or float. Use a baby pool or bucket outside or use the bathroom tub. Have kids guess which will happen and why. A fun one is a Diet Coke can vs a Coke can. Apples are heavier and most kids think it will sink but they float. Try to stump each other!

Pinterest Challenge: Winter 2013

 

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I decided to partake on ANOTHER blog challenge. This time it is a Pinterest challenge. Basically: Pin something and actually do it. How many times have you actually done something you pinned? Be honest. (you can see some of my other pinterest inspired posts here here and here and The YHL Macklemore $20 Thrift Shop Challenge here)

20130224-173020.jpgThe inspiration or pinspiration I should say can be found on my “kitchen” pin board. I kept seeing all this silverware art. There was everything from a painting of a spoon to a chandelier made of silverware. I remember doing a studio study on silverware in art school… it was very hard to duplicate the shapes and reflections of a spoon or fork. As much as I loved the idea of a silverware painting I didn’t have the money to buy the Pottery Barn wall art or have the time to duplicate such a cool piece. What I did have was a collection of yours-mine-and-ours silverware. I chose a spoon and fork from our drawer. Nobody knows where the spoon came from and we have no matching counterparts so it was a natural choice. The fork is one of many from an inexpensive set. It won’t be missed.

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Next I had to figure out what I wanted to hang my silverware on. A plate? Straight onto the wall? I found a small unused canvas in my art supplies. I considered wrapping the canvas in fabric but the scraps that I had were either too busy or not enough contrast. I finally settled on black paint. I have tons of it, black was a fantastic backdrop for silver and it was neutral enough to go just about anywhere I would decide to hang the canvas.

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Now for the hard part: paint the canvas. Obviously it was not that hard. To be honest anyone could do this. Imagine having your kids mix a couple colors and gluing the fork and spoon on. Cute kid kitchen art. Unfortunately O is far too young for such a thing. She’d lick the paint, I’d call poison control. It would be a whole thing that I just don’t want to deal with. Ah, one day.

Anywho, after the paint dried I used superglue to secure the fork and spoon in place. And I was finished!

Total time: 15 minutes. Total cost: $0! Don’t hate.

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The finished project. Simple. Kinda “mod”. Somewhat bold. FREE and recycled. Me likey.

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I decided to hang my new art in our kitchen in the void space next to our new shelves. If you recall, we decided to center the shelves over the peninsula, which isn’t centered on the wall.  We ended up with more wall space to the right of the shelves than the left. I prefer symmetry so the whole fiasco frustrated me. The silverware art is my sort of “band-aid” to the situation.

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While I was at it I hung these two small fruit canvases I had painted ages ago. They are on the small wall near the back door and ad a little “pop” where I hadn’t realized it was needed. By the way, who likes the soft ocean glass green for the kitchen? Its taped on the wall for us to visualized with the floors and slate backsplash along with the strange torn wall paper under the chair rail.

Pink-tastic Birthday Garland Tutorial

I hope everyone had a happy holiday season and is enjoying the new year! I took a couple weeks off to enjoy family, friends and of course some food! After the busyness if the holidays we had the honor of celebrating Baby O’s first birthday. Let me first warn that having a baby RIGHT AFTER Christmas and New Years is brave. So is throwing a birthday party less than a week later. But Hilda doesn’t miss a party so I put on my thinking cap and got to work.

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Problem #1: Budget. I’m not spending tons on this party. Let’s be honest its more for us me than it is for her. She won’t remember it and she’ll likely be embarrassed when I display these pictures all over the place on her 16th birthday. Fix: I devised a plan to use paint chips (free!) from Home Depot and a little bit of Pinspiration. I don’t have a fix yet for the 16 year old embarrassment. I’ll get back to you on that.

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I grabbed several different colors of paint chips from the Martha Stewart line at Home Depot. They are the biggest swatches I saw and had the best selection of pink. I shoved a handful of each shade of pink into my purse (Ok- I didn’t bring my purse in but luckily Molly was on this adventure with me and she carries an equally large purse- Thanks Molls). I know they are free but I felt embarrassed taking so many swatches. Stashing them in the purse was the best idea I had. *Clarification: I spent $60 there that day on air filters and supplies for a little electric project we had going. So I felt like I paid for the swatches anyway… And I buy tons of paint there. I think the Home Depot paint staff might secretly hate all the Pinterest addicts who come in a swipe swatches.

At any rate, this is what I whipped up-

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I cut a large triangle out of each of the swatches. I didn’t measure or trace anything. I just cut as big of a triangle as I could get. They varied a little but it doesn’t bother me. I made sure to start the base of the triangle at the end of the swatch that didn’t have any printing or markings.

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I pulled out my trusty twine and hot glued each triangle about 6 inches apart from each other. I randomly mixed the colors without pattern and just kept gluing.

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I laid the garland out on the floor to keep tabs on spacing and placement. I also wanted to guestimate how long I needed each strand to be.

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This was the end result. I hung the garland along the dining room wall. I knew I was going to hang tissue paper poms there and that most birthday pictures would have this wall as the back drop.

Problem #2: Time. I don’t have enough of it as is. Let’s not talk about the last time I shaved my legs. TMI? Sorry.  Fix: Prepackaged decor and a friendly helping hand.

I grabbed a 3 pack of tissue poms at the party store for $3.99 and I knew the $4 was about what I’d spend making them and the prepackaged ones saved me a ton of time. They were still tedious and a pain to puff out. I didn’t perfect my puff and fluff technique until halfway through the last pom but it is what it is.

I enlisted a friend to bake the smash cake and big cake. That alone saved me HOURS. So big shout-out to Sara for some gorgeous and super tasty cakes! Her cakes were also way more delicious and pretty than anything I could have done. Baby O’s cake was pink with white icing. Word to the wise: colored icing can stain and I’ve seen enough of it regurgitated on first birthdays to order white icing. Also, Baby O has been pooping pink for 2 days. I chose the lesser of the two evils.

Here is O anxiously awaiting her cake, enjoying her cake and then crying when we took it away to clean up. And then she pooped pink. She really is all girl!

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Recycled Halloween Decor

I’m always up for a little recycled project… Especially if it employs glass jars in yet another way. I had a few large salsa and pasta sauce containers I had washed out and saved because I knew I would find a use for then one day. Hubby hates this … They sat on the window sill for weeks.

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{supplies: jars, painter’s tape, scissors}

All I did was cut shapes out of the tape for a jack-o-lantern, ghost, Frankenstein, and the word “boo!”. I placed them on the jars accordingly so I had a design on one side of the jar. I didn’t want my designs to wrap very far around.

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Then I painted the jars with a thin layer of acrylic paint I already had in my craft collection. The key is THIN…. if its too thick the paint will peel off with the tape. This happened to me in a few spots.

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After it dried for a few hours, I peeled the tape off and I had these beauties.

I may put candles or glow sticks in them for going on the porch or our rock wall on Halloween. For now they will be cute as a centerpiece or decorating a bookshelf. Recycled, free (i already had all of my supplies) and reusable… unlike an actual pumpkin.