My Accidental Valentine’s Day Mantle

I don’t usually decorate for Valentine’s Day. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s my post-Christmas need for simplification. Maybe it’s my busy schedule. Most likely it’s laziness. Whatever the reason, this year is different. This year I accidentally created this Valentine’s Day Mantle.

My Accidental Valentine's Day Mantle | laughingabi.com

My Accidental Valentine's Day Mantle | laughingabi.com

It started with these arrows my mom sent me for Christmas. I LOVE them and knew immediately I wanted the metallic finish on my “weathered” wood mantle backdrop. (See how I built it HERE.)My Accidental Valentine's Day Mantle | laughingabi.com

Then I started searching the house for anything else metallic. I found this sparkly vase (an upcycled glass tea bottle covered with glitter) filled with pink tissue paper flowers from my sister-in-law’s wedding. I raised it up using a couple books wrapped in plain brown paper and a touch of washi tape.

My Accidental Valentine's Day Mantle | laughingabi.com

Next, one more splash of gold thanks to another Christmas gift.

My Accidental Valentine's Day Mantle | laughingabi.com

How adorable is that piece?! My sister-in-law made it based on this photo of my girls. I can’t get over what she can create with a needle and embroidery floss.

My Accidental Valentine's Day Mantle | laughingabi.com

This was the point where I stepped back to take a look and realized I had a Valentine’s Day vibe going on. So I decided to roll with it. A couple more pink flowers, hearts cut out of patterened scrapbook paper, and some candles finished it up.

My Accidental Valentine's Day Mantle | laughingabi.com

My Accidental Valentine's Day Mantle | laughingabi.com

My Accidental Valentine's Day Mantle | laughingabi.com

I didn’t mean to do it, but I really love how it looks when I walk in the front door every day. Can’t ask for more than that.

Have you ever “accidentally” decorated something? Or started a project that ends up completely different than you planned?

SHARE THIS POST

Weathered School Desk Chair

Weathered School Desk Chair - laughingabi.com

Weathered School Desk Chair - laughingabi.com

Welcome to Furniture Refresh project #2. (Check out my last post if you need a reminder what the Furniture Refresh group is all about.)

This month’s theme is “weathered” and I’m gonna be honest, it’s just not my thing. I’m more of a modern, clean edges kind of gal and that’s usually the style that inspires me when I’m working on a piece.

I was racking my brain trying to think of something to share and remembered a client/shop owner recently asked me to try the Old Fashioned Milk Paint she carries in her store. She provided an old wooden chair and a bag of yellow paint. Her only request was that I create a weathered or distressed finish. Perfect, right? I wish every problem was so easily solved.

Here’s the chair before. It was in good shape but she wanted it to be more bright and playful.

Weathered School Desk Chair - laughingabi.com

The first step with any furniture I work on is to clean, clean, clean it. I use a 50/50 mix of denatured alcohol and water. I apply it with a spray bottle and then “scrub” the piece with a green Scotch-Brite Pad. (A trick from the folks over at General Finishes.) Next comes a light sanding – nothing crazy, just enough to rough up the surface for paint.

With my prep work done I mixed up a small batch of paint and got to work. The first coat was so scary! I had never used powdered milk paint before and it seemed so thin and runny and . . . . non-paint-like. But I pushed on and after a few coats it all came together.

Finally, it was time for the fun part: Sanding!

For me the key to distressing furniture is to sand in the places that would naturally age or wear over time. For example, the top of the chair where hands grab over and over again to pull it away from a desk.

Weathered School Desk Chair - laughingabi.com

Or along the edges and corners where book bags might brush against it day after day.

Weathered School Desk Chair - laughingabi.com

I should mention too that the Old Fashioned Milk Paint I used is designed to chip and peel so it did a lot of the work for me.

Weathered School Desk Chair - laughingabi.com

Last, and most important when using a weathered finish, is to seal the project with a clear top coat. Otherwise the paint will continue to chip and peel. There are lots of options out there but my client asked me to use the Safecoat AcriGlaze she carries in her store. I put on three coats and called it DONE.

Weathered School Desk Chair - laughingabi.com

If you’re a fan of weathered finishes make sure to visit these other “Refreshers” for more ideas and inspiration. Enjoy!


Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

(QUICK NOTE: This furniture redo is based on the theme “Inspired By”. Make sure to read my exciting news at the end of the post for more info and more furniture ideas.)

I work as a “creative consultant” for my salon/spa. It sounds fancy – because I totally made up the title for myself – but really just means I get to make cool stuff for their customers and for the salon space. (These hand-painted mugs are a project I’ve done for them.)

Several months ago they asked me to reupholster this chair from their lobby.

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

I don’t know anything about upholstery so of course I said, “yes, I can do that.”

I’m not gonna lie, that chair sat in my basement for a long, long time. I had no idea what to do with it. Every time I googled “how to upholster a parsons chair” I got confused. Every time I went to the fabric store I came home empty-handed.

Then the salon went through an amazing expansion. I could go on and on about it but all that really matters for this story is the slat wall in the new spa lobby. Guys, check this out.

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

Gorgeous, right?  Can you believe one of the owners created it using upcycled fence pieces from her back yard? I can’t get over how much color and texture it adds.

Needless to say, I was inspired. I stormed the fabric store like Kanye during a Taylor Swift acceptance speech and came home with the most perfect material in the exact same color palette. Success! Now on to the upholstery job.

NOTE: This is NOT a tutorial. It’s more of a story about how a first-timer tackled an upholstery project with no clue what she was doing. Also, I should let you know that I went into this with basic sewing skills. I’ve made pillows and curtains and can follow a simple pattern but that’s the extent of it. Enough chatter already. Let’s do this.

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

TIP #1: Take tons and tons of photos BEFORE YOU START AND EVERY SINGLE STEP ALONG THE WAY. I cannot emphasize this enough. You’re getting ready to completely disassemble this piece of furniture and without photos you’ll have no idea how to put it back together. The pics don’t have to make sense to anyone else but you. Just take a lot. Then take more.

With my camera in hand I started “un-upholstering”. Staple by staple I removed the old pleather cover. Then, with it off the chair but still in one piece, I got out my Sharpie and marked things up.

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

TIP #2: Use a Sharpie to mark the old fabric you remove from the chair. I made notes about direction. I scribbled reminders about which side of the seat it came from. I drew arrows that would help me remember where seams connected. I marked anything that I thought might be helpful down the road when I was trying to put the puzzle back together. Again, the notes don’t need to make sense to anyone but you.

Next I “unstitched” all the seams with my seam ripper and voila! — I had the perfect pattern pieces to create my new chair cover. Now it was just a matter of basic cutting, pinning, and sewing like I would with any store-bought pattern.

TIP #3: Consider using scrap fabric (or an inexpensive flat sheet from Wal-Mart in my case) to sew a “test cover” before you start cutting your expensive upholstery fabric. This idea has its advantages and disadvantages. It did help me avoid some costly mistakes but, on the downside, the sheet was so cheap and flimsy that it was frustrating to work with.

(If you follow me on Facebook you already know there was a mishap involving a certain cat and this project. #eightlivesleft)

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

TIP #4: When cutting, add several extra inches of fabric on the edges that will be stapled to the chair frame. This will ensure you have plenty of room for pulling and stapling at the end of the project.

Oddly enough while this stage is where the pieces started coming together and the magic started to happen, there’s really not much to say about it. It was a lot of pin, sew, swear, repeat. Oh, and a lot of referencing the photos I took. They were invaluable when it came to figuring out how the back and seat pieces fit together.

One other thing I want to point out. Those tight curves at the top of the chair back were a beast! Thankfully a little google research revealed that cutting small slits along the curve helps the fabric lay flat and run through your machine without gaps or puckers.

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

Here are a couple of links that explain it much better than I can. They offer several solutions but for me a few simple slits or notches was enough to get the job done.

http://sweetbriarsisters.com/blog/sew-opposing-curves/
http://www.craftsy.com/blog/2015/02/sewing-curved-seams/

So with the sewing done it was finally time to put the new cover on and staple it in place. This was by far the easiest part of the whole project. I didn’t follow any specific rules or instructions – just pulled things taunt, made sure everything was smooth and stapled my heart out.

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out! It was a challenge but definitely worth it. If you’re thinking about trying something like this don’t be intimidated like I was and let it sit in your basement for months. It’s really just about taking something apart and then putting it back together in reverse order.

Remember the news I mentioned waaaay back at the beginning of this post? Here it is – I’ve been invited to join a new group called Furniture Refresh.

furniture refresh logo 2

Every month we’ll each be sharing a “refreshed” piece of furniture based on a changing theme. All of the projects will be shared across our blogs so it’s the perfect opportunity for you furniture lovers to find some great new ideas. This month’s theme is “Inspired By”. Enjoy!


1950’s Tanker Desk Redesign

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

Ahhhhh. The sweet, sweet smell of victory. That glorious feeling when you’re able to transform something from this.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

To this.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

From before.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

To after.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

My biggest challenge on this piece was its massive size – this beast measures 29″ tall x 50″ wide x 26″ deep. I started with lots and lots of wood filler on spots like this.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

Then I opened my first ever can of General Finishes paint. Cue the singing angels because I’m a believer. I have drank the Kool-Aid. And I am here to testify. All the hype you hear about General Finishes paint is totally true. (This isn’t a sponsored post – I don’t really do that sort of thing – I was just really impressed with this product.)

I used General Finishes Persian Blue on the body of the desk and their Java Gel Stain on the drawers and legs. I am in love with the color combo.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

I topped everything off with several coats of Varathane Crystal Clear Polyurethane in Satin for a protective finish.

The final jewel in the crown was some sparkly, metallic gold hardware. This is my new favorite product for the perfect color. I found it at Michael’s.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

I added a few coats to the original drawer pulls and voila!

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

This project went so much smoother than the last couple I shared here and here – thank goodness. It’s nice to see I’m at least learning something from all those mistakes.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

(UPDATE: This coral beauty is FOR SALE in the Chicagoland area. Contact me if you’re interested.)

I’m not gonna lie friends. This one was a struggle.

If you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen each painful step, starting with the wood stain.

The first attempt was streaky. I didn’t know why but thought it must be because I didn’t strip the old finish thoroughly.
So I started over.

The second attempt was spotty because after stripping the old finish I didn’t clean off the stripper residue completely. (Read more about that HERE.)
So I started over.

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

The third attempt was streaky because I didn’t know I was dealing with a soft wood and needed to use a pre-stain wood conditioner. (Looking back I realized this was really the problem with my first attempt.)
So I started over.

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

Finally, on the fourth attempt, the planets aligned, the clouds parted and the wood-staining gods smiled down upon me. Success at long last.

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

Next was paint. I used this DIY chalk paint recipe with Valspar’s Amber Rose color. I’m happy to report that the paint went on with no problems! The color was perfect and the chalk paint was as amazing as everyone claims. I finished it off with a couple coats of SC Johnson Paste wax – stinky but effective. (If you’re trying to compare expensive Annie Sloan Chalk Paint with the more economical DIY versions I highly recommend you read this post from Diane at In My Own Style. So much valuable information!)

All that was left was to pick out some shiny gold hardware and she would be done! Easy squeezy, right?

Wrong.

You guys I couldn’t find anything to fit the holes. I tried everywhere I could think of. Internet, retail, antique shops, referrals from friends – nothing. There were a couple that were the right size but completely wrong for the age and style of the piece. And a couple of others that might have worked but they were around $30 each. Not for this thrifty chick.

I considered drilling new holes but even if I used a stainable wood filler the old holes would be obvious. And ugly. The only way to completely cover them would be to . . .

paint

the

drawers.

The same drawers that I just cried and agonized over for weeks. That I stripped, stained, and sealed four times.

I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t. There had to be a better way.

So I wiped the slate clean and started my search over again, hoping something new and different would pop up this time. First stop: Lowe’s.

I walked to the same jumbled wall of handles and knobs I had looked through before and THERE IT WAS! Not a perfect fit but a contender that, with a little spray paint and strategic placement, might finish off my coral queen.

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

It was super, super close but they work! Here’s the trick: they don’t match the existing holes in the drawers but instead, cover them (with not a millimeter to spare). Yes, we did have to drill into my newly refinished wood to install them. And yes, it did totally stress me out. But the result is 100% worth it. You can’t see the original holes at all and I love the way the finished pulls look. Their simple style and rounded edges compliment the details of the piece perfectly.

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.comI fought hard for this dresser and I could not be more pleased with how it turned out. It was my first adventure with chalk paint and my first time using the color coral. I will definitely use them both again.

I should mention that this beauty is for sale so if you’re in the Chicagoland area and are looking for a pop of feminine color in your space, we should chat.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons

Hello friends. Before I dive into this Mid-Century love fest I want to chat briefly about my posting schedule. I decided to tackle some new projects this year and they’re taking longer than I expected (you’ll see one example in this post). As a result the blogging side of things has slowed down. A lot. Hopefully it will pick up again as I learn more and can work faster. Until then, I’m still sharing, just less often.

Now that that’s out of the way, get a load of this.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

I. Can’t. Even.

The Mid-Century Modern lover in me wants to whisper inappropriate things to it over cocktails in a dark, smoky bar.

Sure, it’s got a broken leg – a new one has been ordered and will be here soon – but it’s still so damn sexy I just couldn’t wait any longer to share.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

So for now we’ll do some cropping to hide the “stump” and show off the gorgeous legs it does have.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

You might also notice there’s no fancy staging or styling – the paint job on the wall isn’t even done. That’s because this room is (eternally) under construction. This dresser and another one I plan to share soon are the only finished things in the space. Gotta start somewhere.

THE STORY

You can probably guess from the title of this post that the refinishing process did not go smoothly. I’ll start at the beginning with this not-so-exciting “before” shot.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

Not in bad shape but there were some scratches and dings that needed attention. Worst of all, this ugly laminate top.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

So I started by stripping the drawers with Citristrip. Then I hit them with a few coats of General Finishes Java Gel Stain. Everything looked beautiful so I finished them off with General Finishes Gel Topcoat, patted myself on the back, and went to bed.

The next morning I found this on all nine drawers.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

What the what? What happened? And more importantly, how do I fix it?

THE INVESTIGATION

I asked everyone I knew. Instagram friends. Facebook family. General Finishes customer support. Everyone. In the end no one was exactly sure why it happened but most seemed to agree on the solution: re-strip, re-sand, and re-stain.

But I wasn’t convinced. Repeating the same steps and expecting different results seemed ridiculous. I wanted to find out what actually caused the spots so I decided to do more investigating.

My plan was simple: Follow the same exact steps but on a different dresser. If the spots appear again then I know it’s something I’m doing. If not, then it must be something on the wood. Maybe a spill or splatter from the previous owner?

Here are the discouraging results.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

It’s a different kind of wood so it doesn’t look the same but there are definitely spots.

So what the bleepity-bleep was I doing wrong? I had just finished another dresser last week using the same products and it turned out beautifully – no spots, no problems, no drama. Why was I having so much trouble now?

Then I remembered something! I had done one tiny thing differently on that spot-free dresser from last week: I used a liquid deglosser to remove the paint stripper residue. On the spotty dressers I used a 50/50 mix of denatured alcohol and water that I had on hand. If that mix wasn’t strong enough to completely clean off the thick, waxy stripping goo it could prevent the stain from soaking into the wood evenly, which would result in spots. Mystery solved!

THE LESSON

The Citristrip label clearly states, “use a paint stripper wash or odorless mineral spirits to loosen remaining residue”.

I used something else and it was an epic fail.

So today’s furniture refinishing lesson is: FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS ON THE PRODUCTS YOU’RE USING.

It’s so simple that it’s embarrassing. Let’s move on.

THE HOME STRETCH

Now that I knew what to do – and what not to do – it was time to finish this thing up. I scrubbed everything down with a Scotch-Brite scour pad and deglosser, then sanded and stained. The top coat went on beautifully with no spots to be seen. Success!

With the drawers finally done it was time to tackle the dresser frame. I started with a light sanding, followed by a coat of Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer (my go-to product for laminate surfaces). Lastly, a few coats of Benjamin Moore Cloud White and it was done!

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

I’m not gonna lie. This one was slow and painful and aggravating. But I definitely learned from it and I absolutely LOVE the results. Now I’m just waiting on that leg to show up in the mail so I can officially call it finished.

Have you conquered any painful projects lately? Was the challenge due to a simple mistake like mine? Or something more complicated?

Easy Closet Organizing Ideas That Really Work

 

Easy Closet Organizing Ideas That Really Work | laughingabi.comHAPPY NEW YEAR!

Admittedly, I’m a little behind. I have a good reason though.

I wasn’t ready to come back yet.

No long, dramatic story. No list of desperate excuses. I just needed more time.

But now I’m back and since it is still January – the month of clean slates and fresh starts – I’m jumping on the bandwagon and sharing my favorite closet organizing ideas! These aren’t fancy, or expensive, or complicated but they work. Day after day. Month after month. Year after year. 

MEDICINE “CABINET” STORAGE

Easy Closet Organizing Ideas That Really Work | laughingabi.com

Who says medicine has to go in a medicine cabinet? I put ours in a set of inexpensive plastic drawers and added some cute DIY labels. Now when someone needs a band-aid or a cough drop they know exactly where to look.

TENSION ROD SHOE STORAGE

Easy Closet Organizing Ideas That Really Work | laughingabi.com

Easy Closet Organizing Ideas That Really Work | laughingabi.com

You’ve probably seen this idea before – two tension rods ($3 – $4 each) spaced to create a floating “shelf” for your shoes. It’s ideal for heels but could work for flats too. TIP: If you’re storing your shoes on a traditional shelf, arrange them in an alternating heel-toe-heel-toe pattern. They take up less space that way.

UPCYCLED JEWELRY STORAGE CABINET

Easy Closet Organizing Ideas That Really Work | laughingabi.com

jewelry storage cabinet 2

One from the archives, I still use this upcycled storage cabinet today. It’s the perfect size for my jewelry collection and I love that the drawer lets me hide some of my mess. You can’t tell in this photo but it also stores all of my earrings. Click HERE to see where.

UPCYCLED SCARF ORGANIZER

Easy Closet Organizing Ideas That Really Work | laughingabi.com

Easy Closet Organizing Ideas That Really Work | laughingabi.com

I cobbled this organizer together using a package of shower curtain rings and a wine glass rack. Not only does it keep my scarves off the floor but puts them on display so I can see exactly what I have to choose from. See all the deets HERE.

So those are my faves for the closet. Hopefully they will work for you too.

Do you have a go-to organizing trick that helps you keep it together? Do you use traditional systems or upcycled “junk” like me?

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

I’m so excited to share my Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes with you! We built the boxes a couple summers ago but this is the first year I’ve decked them out for Christmas.

It all started when I saw this garden flag at Lowe’s. You can’t see in this pic but “Team Nice” is on the back. Cute, right? I didn’t have a place in my yard that would show off both sides so I decided to buy two and use them as features in my window boxes. Of course they would require some modifications first. Here’s what I did.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

I started by shortening the stand so my flag would hang at the right height for the window box. I marked approximately where I wanted to cut.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Used a hacksaw to do the deed.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

And taped off the rough ends with electrical tape.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Then I was left with two pieces that looked like this.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

The last step was to put the two pieces back together with a few more strips of electrical tape. (I am a little worried about the tape holding up in the Chicago weather. I might go back to reinforce things with zip ties if I need to.)

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

With the stand finished it’s time to start filling the window boxes! Luckily I have neighbors on one side who let me cut branches from their evergreen tree and an abandoned house across the street where I can do some “volunteer pruning”.

Before I started putting in my live greens I lined the top of the boxes with this super cheap, super fake-looking artificial garland. This serves as a filler to hide any gaps or holes in my finished arrangement. Then I put in the flag – on it’s new, shortened stand.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

The next two layers are branches that hang over and spill down the front of the boxes. (Wish I knew enough to tell you what kind of tree these come from. Anyone?)

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

To hold everything in place I used these wood picks I bought at Michael’s.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

They come with floral wire already attached so all you have to do is wrap the other end around your branch and stake it in the dirt.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

After two layers of draping greens I added just a few straight, non-hanging branches for some height in the top of the box. These metal landscaping pins came in handy for this step.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

You might have noticed some tiny lights in the last photo. They’re actually part of a garland Josh bought at an after Christmas clearance sale last year. They aren’t super bright but they do add a sweet twinkle to all that green so I layered them on top, pushing them toward the front so they could be seen from the street.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Almost done! After walking out in the yard (in the rain) a dozen times to see how things were looking I decided to add a pop of color. I used ornaments because they’re cheap and easy to find. I attached them using the same wood picks as before.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

And with that last touch of color- they’re done!

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

I should point out that I had a third window box to fill. I used the exact same greenery, lighted garland, and ornaments but added a Santa hat in place of the flag. It’s held in place with more wood picks/floral wire that I simply threaded through safety pins.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

naughty and nice collage

I’m so far behind with my holiday decorating that I almost didn’t do this project at all. I’m really glad I did though. It makes a big impact and looks so cozy when I pull up to the house every day.

Do you have all your decorating done? All your presents bought? I’ve started but I’m soooo far from done.

Advent Calendar Made From Upcycled Shoe Organizer

Advent Calendar Made From Upcycled Shoe Organizer

ALTERNATE TITLE: Holy Crap It’s December 1 and I Haven’t Made My Advent Calendar Yet!

A more organized, on-the-ball blogger would have shared this project a couple weeks ago. But the truth is, I just put it together this morning in a fit of last-minute panic. I was inspired by this idea I saw last year and decided better late than not at all.

The most appealing part of this calendar is it uses things I already had around the house – perfect for a procrastinator like me. First, an over-the-door shoe organizer, which was holding a bunch of random junk.

Advent Calendar Made From Upcycled Shoe Organizer

Next, some paper treat bags I had in my stash. If you don’t have these you can easily cut holiday wrapping paper or scrapbooking paper down to size. (These aren’t the exact ones I used but you get the idea.)

Advent Calendar Made From Upcycled Shoe Organizer

Grab some old-fashioned clothespins (or tape if you don’t have any), tissue paper, and your advent gifts, and you’re ready to put it together. (TIP: You don’t have to have all your gifts ready on December 1. I usually buy things throughout the month and add them as I go.)

Oh, I almost forgot my favorite part! These FREE advent countdown tags from SimpleAsThatBlog.com. They’re absolutely adorable and Rebecca has done all the work so all we have to do is download, print, and cut. Thank you Rebecca!

Advent Calendar Made From Upcycled Shoe Organizer

Assembly is pretty self-explanatory. The treat bags or wrapping paper serve as a decorative front in each pocket. Then the advent gifts are wrapped in the tissue and placed in next. Lastly, the clothespin holds your tag in place. (I added a piece of washi tape to mine – couldn’t resist a red chevron.) And you’re done!

Advent Calendar Made From Upcycled Shoe Organizer

Advent Calendar Made From Upcycled Shoe Organizer

I’m really happy with how it turned out. And the best news is both of my girls came home from school today and said, “I love it!”

DIY Painted Mugs That Won’t Wash Away

DIY Painted Mugs That Won't Wash Away | laughingabi.com

You’ve all heard or read how to draw your own designs on a coffee cup then bake it in the oven to make it permanent. And half of you have probably tried it only to see your beautiful masterpiece wash down the drain – literally – even though you followed all the directions, used an oil-based marker, and gently hand washed the darn thing.

Well I have the secret solution just in time for the Christmas gift-making season – these magical glass markers from DecoArt!

DIY Painted Mugs That Won't Wash Away | laughingabi.com

 

I know they don’t look like anything different but I promise they work miracles. I bought mine at Michael’s but you can find them at most craft supply stores or online.

I won’t bore you with a “draw-n-bake” tutorial since they’re all over the internet (this is one of my favorites although I don’t know anything about the markers they use) but I do want to share some tips I discovered when working on these mugs for a client. (My first custom project! Go me!)

DIY Painted Mugs That Won't Wash Away | laughingabi.com

TESTING

First things first. If you’ve been burned on a DIY marker mug before you might be a bit gun-shy to try another. I get it. I was too. I recommend doing a test draw then. Turn your mug upside-down and make a mark on the bottom. I wrote the year. Then bake it and wash it. Once you’re sure it’s really going to be permanent you can get down to serious creative business.

DIY Painted Mugs That Won't Wash Away | laughingabi.com

ERASING

Before you start drawing gather up a few items from around the house. These supplies, along with some warm soapy water for drastic cases, are your “erasers”.

  • rubbing alcohol
  • cotton balls
  • cotton swabs
  • paper towels (I cut mine into little squares so they’re easier to work with.)

Let’s say you’re writing “Merry Christmas Uncle Joe” on you mug and you accidentally end up with “Uncle Joo”. No worries. Simply dip a cotton swab in the rubbing alcohol and carefully wipe away the mistake. It may smear the ink and seem a mess at first but that’s ok. Just keep dipping and wiping until your mistake and any smears or haze are gone. Let it dry, then grab your marker and try again.

You can use the cotton balls and paper towels the same way. It all depends on the size and detail of your mistake.

What if you totally screw up and think it’s the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen? Just go to the sink and scrub your mug with warm soapy water. Voila! You’re back at square one with a new blank slate.

WAITING

So you’ve finished your masterpiece and now you’re itching to pop it in the oven and make it permanent. WAIT! The ink needs to cure for at least eight hours first. Set it aside, go to work, run your errands, drink a few pots of coffee – whatever you need to do – then come back and get your bake on.

BAKING

There are a few baking rules which are all printed on the back of the marker for easy reference.
1. Don’t preheat your oven. Put your piece in first then turn on the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Set your timer for 40 minutes AFTER the oven has come to temperature, not when you put the mug in.
3. Don’t take your mug out when the timer goes off. Instead, turn off the oven and open the door. Let the mug cool as the oven cools.

Again, all this info is on the back of the pen in case you forget. So convenient.

DIY Painted Mugs That Won't Wash Away | laughingabi.com

I hope you decide to give these markers a try. I’m so happy to finally find something that works although I will admit I haven’t tested any pieces in the dishwasher yet. I’m content to wash mine by hand just to be safe. I’m planning to try some plates next then glass canisters. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.