Tutorial: EASY Graduation Cap Decorations

I had never decorated any of my graduation caps before, mostly because I either didn’t remember or the task seemed too daunting. I mean, who wants to compete with caps like these:

Cap 2 Cap 3 Cap 1For those of us that can’t paint like Van Gogh or bedazzle with the best of ’em, I suggest some scrapbook supplies and fabric glue…

6X0A9809I threw this together in about 15 minutes, which is especially handy if you have a needy 3 month old at home. No hand-ruched fabric. No gluing 18,000 rhinestones. Just pick something that you like in the scrap book isle (Which could actually be the hardest part. There are so many great choices!) and stick them to your cap. In hind sight, I wish I would have added more flowers, but overall I’m happy with the concept.

Now I just need to graduate again so there’s another cap to decorate…

Congratulations to all of the 2015 graduates, and go Gators!

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Map Trunk Refurbish pt. 1

Map Trunk Before and After

I found this trunk at the usual place, an estate sale. It looked pretty terrible, but it was really sound structurally. It was sturdy, the latches worked really well and lined up perfectly. Excellent candidate for a project. First, to prep the trunk, was the usual sanding process. You can see the difference here, from where the top is sanded and the bottom wasn’t..

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Then the whole thing. The interior panels were just plywood, so not really worth sanding down.

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When I was re-doing the Dome Top Steamer Trunk, I was thinking of different ways I could re-finish its interior. Ultimately, leaving the bare wood the way it was won out on that trunk, but one of the ideas I came up with was using some of these maps I had as a covering. These maps weren’t super old and full of character. They were from the era just before GPS and Google maps, so they were kind of ugly and obnoxious. I used some different stains and paint on a test piece to see what I could come up with. Two different stains and some dark brownish paint later, and this was the result…

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I was pretty excited with how it turned out! It kind of had an old leather map look. Huge improvement! The next step was to cut the map pieces down to size.

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I ALMOST cut the piece too small because I didn’t take into account that I was going to scrunch it up for texture. That shrunk it down quite a bit, but thankfully it still worked out. Next, I tried to stick the map to the trunk using 3M Spray adhesive. As soon as I applied the stain to the paper, it completely detached from the wood. Time to break out the Mod Podge! Worked like a charm.

I applied the lighter stain to the whole map…

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Then I worked the darker stain around the outside and then lightly through the middle. The final touch was the dark brown paint only around the edges. I used the same old rag that applied the stain to blend in the edges of the paint with the stain.

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Tada!! Lastly was a coat of polyurethane and it was finished! My favorite part about the maps is that both sections have locations in them that have been major parts of my life.

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I’m still toying with the idea of using something to line the map and make the edges cleaner, but we’ll see. There are also big plans for the interior, but they’re still in progress. I’ll keep you posted!!

#TBT: Hunebedden Edition

Here’s a throwback all the way from 1991. If you haven’t seen the article of hilariously recreated childhood photos, check it out here! I decided to do my own version while I was in the Netherlands…

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And in 2013…

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Now, about the Hunebedden. Well everyone knows that England has Stonehenge, but did you know that there is a whole cluster of ruins that is even older, in the north of the Netherlands? There are approximately 54 sets, with 52 of them just in the province of Drenthe. They are over 5000 years old and, just like Stonehenge, no one knows exactly how or why they were built. The plaque near this particular site says that Napolean rode his horse across the top of these ruins in order to demonstrate his superior horsemanship.

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I wouldn’t advise trying that yourself….

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This great website has a lot more Hunebedden information, for those that are interested.

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Just one of the many reasons why everyone should see more of the Netherlands than just Amsterdam!

Photographing the Terrible Twos

I recently did a maternity photo shoot for a friend and discovered (for the second time) how difficult it is to get a two year old to cooperate for pictures. Here are a few things that I learned that helped make the whole process run a little more smoothly.

1. Prioritize.

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They are over posing for pictures pretty quickly. If there are any cute ideas that you were really wanting to try, get them out of the way immediately or they probably won’t happen.

2. Aperture.

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See this picture ^^^ ? It looks like the little guy is happy and laughing, but he’s actually screaming… and this was only about 10 minutes into the shoot. Oh, boy. Use aperture and focus to hide that grumpy face.

3. Improvise!

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Try taking pictures while they’re doing something they enjoy. You might end up with a little boy riding around on a 4-wheeler in 90% of the pictures, but at least he’ll be smiling.

4. Wardrobe!

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One of the benefits to photographing a two year old, is that they are almost always adorable, even just walking across the yard. You can take plenty of cute candid shots that look great. If that two year old is wearing a shirt that says something like, “Big Brother.” Bam. That makes it part of a pregnancy shoot.

5. Patience.

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Take breaks and alternate between poses with the whole family and ones that just have the parents or mom. This way, the youngin’ can run around a little bit.

So, that’s what I learned last weekend. It was an adventure. If you want to see the rest of the photos, check out my Facebook page!

Dome Top Trunk part 2

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It’s finished!! I already did the first post on the exterior, and now the interior is done. I’m so happy with it! This is how the inside started…

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It was covered with several layers of awful greenish grey paper. Surprisingly, all it took to scrape that off was wetting it with a sponge and scraping. Lots of scraping..

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I didn’t really have a plan for the interior. Well, actually I had several plans, but I wanted to wait and see what exactly I had to work with when I was done with the scraping. I toyed with the idea of modpodging an old map on the underside of the top, or using some of these sheets from Home Depot..

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But the wood was looking pretty decent on it’s own..

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Not too shabby! I thought I’d try a little stain and see how it turned out…

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I always think that natural wood is prettier than any painting or paper. Also, the curvature of the inside of the top would make covering it with any paper or vinyl tiles very tricky (ain’t nobody got time for that). Natural wood it is! Lastly, I added the side bars back on, where they were previously, and made a box for the interior.

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(I’ll do a separate tutorial on making the box, don’t want to cram too much in one post.)

…and the finished product…

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A few side notes….

The wood in the top of the trunk was definitely different from what was used to make the rest of it. Before I stained the interior all the wood looked the same, but after the stain, the top turned a yellowish brown while the rest was reddish. So, if you look at the tray insert in comparison to the top, it won’t quite match, while it does still match the rest of the trunk.

It took three coats of two different stains to get the new wood on the tray and sidebars to match the trunk. There could have been a stain that matched it identically, but who wants to buy more cans of stain when I already have so many sitting in the garage? One coat of Sedona Red and too coats of English Chestnut, both by Minwax, and it matched almost perfectly. Close enough for me!

It looks fantastic in the office where it’s sitting. Once that room is complete, I’ll post pictures of it in all of it’s pirate-y glory.

An Excuse for the Beach…

There are two benefits from thrifting for beach equipment. 1. What house doesn’t have a few things that were bought for a family beach trip, used only one time and then stored in the garage for the next however many years? This means you can buy those things, barely used, and at a fraction of a cost. 2. Once you have it, you have the perfect excuse to go to the beach!

For example:

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$2 for both of those watermelon umbrellas. They aren’t just regular “Stick them in the ground and hope they stay put” umbrellas.¬† They’ve got nice clamps on the end, so you can attach them to your beach tables or chairs.

$1.50 for the beach blanket / tablecloth. Much nicer than a towel because you’ll have room too move around and set down your things without covering them in sand.

In the event that the weather turns gloomy while you’re out at the beach, as it did with me, don’t worry. That’ll just give you time to check some of the local thrift stores where you’ll find things like super groovy cowgirl boots…

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A large, shaggy, pleather jacket…

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Or a nice straw hat for your next beach trip…

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Happy Summer!