Archives for September 2010

Giveaways: Reminders and Announcements

Hey, y’all (did you know I live in the south?) But, I also lived in Philadelphia for 9 years where I worked very hard to get rid of my southern accent. (If you live there, yoos know wood I’m tawkin’ about.) Unfortunately my southern accent hasn’t come back completely now that we are back “down hee-yar”. Every once in a while I’ll hear myself say Git, but never Fixin’. And I was shocked when my six year old started calling me Mama the other day.

Anyway, sorry for the diversion, on to a few giveaway announcements:

I wanted to remind you that the “Beach in a Bottle” from the Painted Cottage giveaway ends September 30th at midnight EST. That would be tomorrow night! So, be sure to enter if you want these adorable bottles in your home:

Right now I only have 36 entries, so your chances of winning are VERY good. Plus, you can have up to five chances to win!!!

Now onto some exciting news: 

You followers snuck up on me! When I added you up the other day, there were over 550 of you (both Google Friend and Feedburner combined!)

When I started this blog a few months ago, my goal was to empower a few people to take on their own DIY project; to be gently nudged out of their comfort zone; and to feel the sense of accomplishment from completing their own DIY project. I have received so many wonderful comments and emails from readers who have tried something new after reading one of my tutorials. If I haven’t told you, your comments really made my day! And it made every hour I spend on blogging so worth it! Thank you so much.

Way back when (who am I kidding, only 2 months ago) when I reached my 100th follower, I surprised that lucky lady (Sharon from,) by sending her a decorative book with a secret hiding spot.

And, inside was an Amazon gift card! I hope she put it to good use.  At that time, I also promised to have another special gift for one of my followers when I reached 500 followers.

I’ve been working on a special gift for this special giveaway. So, as a thank you for being so sweet and checking back with my posts, I will be giving you this!

 Do I hear crickets chirping?

It is a CD/DVD wallet for your car visor! (If you want to make your own, read the tutorial here.) And if that wasn’t enough, it will contain an Amazon gift card tucked inside! Cha-ching! I don’t know about you, but I don’t have much time to go shopping for the little necessities that I desire. And when I do go shopping, there is bound to be a scene (if the boys are with me, because when are they not!) Can you say, “Emmmbarrrasssing”? So, I prefer to do a lot of my online shopping on

AND… because I appreciate y’all and value your time, I’m not making you jump through any hoops or making you break out your online bullhorn, or leave me any comments (but, you can if you want to), etc. etc. It is simple, if you already follow Pretty Handy Girl, via Google Friend Follower or Feedburner (both available in the side bar), you are in the running to win. If you aren’t – well – I apologize, but I won’t be able to track you down to notify you that you won.

One of my two lovely assistants (my 4 and 6 yr. old sons) will choose one of my followers at random to receive this special 500 follower gift.

Thank you for your precious few minutes that you spend on my blog. I have lots more DIY tips, tutorials and fun in store for you.

P.s. I will enter any and all followers who jump on board up to October 31st. Okay, so maybe I am making you jump through just one tiny hoop.

DIY Glass Window Shelves

I love african violets! They can be fickle, but once they have the right amount of light, and slightly damp soil, they will happily put on a show for you. My violets used to perch on the kitchen window sill, but occasionally they would take a suicidal nose dive into the sink. To save them from inevitable death one day, I installed two glass shelves over the sink.

Would you like to install your own glass shelves between two kitchen cabinets? It is a relatively easy project, but does require two sets of hands for one step. The directions below will take you through the step-by-step process for installing 2 glass shelves.


3/16 inch tempered glass
quarter round moulding
paint (to match your kitchen cabinets)
medium size paint brush
painters tape
drill w/ bits
finish nails 1.25″ long
nail set
wood putty or caulk
flat toothpick or wood shim


1. First measure your window width and subtracted 0.25″ from the measurement.) Then measure the depth of your kitchen cabinets to the window frame (or tile, whatever sticks out the furthest).

Take those measurements to a glass manufacturer and have them cut two pieces of 3/16″ tempered glass. Make sure that the edges will be smooth. And, definitely ask for the tempered glass. (My shelves never broke, but I banged them occasionally while being overzealous about washing dishes.)

2. Using the measurement you took for the depth of your cabinets, cut 8 lengths of quarter round (four for each glass shelf you are hanging.)

3. Prime and then paint the quarter round to match your cabinets.

4. Determine the height where you want your glass shelves to be. (I put each shelf at the same height as my window grill pieces.) Use a level and draw lines on your cabinet on one side of the window.

5. Pre-drill three holes (the size of your finish nails) into your quarter round.

6. Using a piece of painters tape, attach once piece of the quarter round to your cabinet. This is your shelf support piece, so make sure that the flat edge is facing up. Gently nail the finish nails through the predrilled holes and into the cabinet. Repeat this step for your other shelf support (on the same side.)

7. Rest one glass shelf on one piece of the installed quarter round. You will need an assistant to help hold the glass shelf up as you level it.

8. Make a mark on the under side of your glass.

9. Double check that the mark is level (from front to back), and line your next piece of quarter round below the line. Repeat steps 5 & 6 above until you have the four shelf supports installed.

10. Gently rest your glass shelves on the supports.

11. Pre-drill holes in your four remaining quarter round strips.

12. Set wood shims (or toothpicks) on top of the glass shelves and up against the cabinets on both ends. Rest your quarter round strips on top of the shims. This should give you a slight space between the glass and the quarter round. Now, tape the quarter round pieces in place and REMOVE BOTH glass shelves and the shims.

13. Nail your quarter round pieces in place. Use a nail set to countersink (set the nail below the wood surface) all your nails. Fill the nail holes with wood putty or caulk and touch it up with your paint.

14. When the paint has dried, slide in your shelves. The shelves should slide in easily and should not be tight.

15. Put some plants or other accessories on your new shelves! And enjoy.

Fall Accessorizing, it’s Definitely Not Perfect!

I’ve had some time this week to catch up with some of my girlfriends. Sometimes this means it was a few minutes in the parking lot at preschool. Or a phone conversation. I definitely value their friendships and wish I had more time to spend with them (thankfully most of my girlfriends are mothers as well and recognize time is not something we have a lot of right now).

One of my good friends (who was also born a Cancer), and I were talking yesterday. It is really scary how similar our personalities are. She was naming off several traits that fit both of us to a tee. One of them was the ability to throw ourselves into something, not halfway but whole-heartedly!

I always thought this was a good trait (but certainly recognized how it can be all consuming sometimes). Then she stopped and said, “But there is one difference between you and I. When you see something new you want to learn, you throw yourself into it and revel in the challenge. Whereas, I am sometimes uncertain and afraid of failing.” I realize that we all have this fear of failure to a certain degree. Obviously some more than others.

 I have been skydiving once in my life. Was I scared? Yes!
But that emotion flew out the window, and then I loved it.
I will do it again someday, but not until my children are grown.

One of my challenges has been decorating. I wanted to share this with you because, decorating is not something that came naturally to me. In fact, I am somewhat tentative to even share some of these pictures with you. What I have learned has come from many designers and decorators (check out the list of “a few other sites you might like” on my sidebar) who have graciously shared their secrets and design tips with their readers through their blogs. One in particular has a motto that frees you from the “everything has to be perfect” mentality. The Nesting Place written by the Nester really forced me to forget perfection and “Just Do It!” (Sorry, Nike.) Her tagline says it all: “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.” I encourage you to hop (no, make that LEAP) over to her blog and download this FREE eBook on “It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to be Beautiful.”

I read the eBook from cover screen to cover screen. And I have thrown away those “perfect” shackles and made my house MY home. And I did it without spending a lot of money.

I have finally embraced Autumn and am willing to share with you my fall vignettes and decorations. I want you to know that I purchased very little this month (thanks to a very special woman over at the T-shirt Diaries. She challenged fellow bloggers to forgo spending anything on crafts, etc. this September.)  If I purchased it this year, I’ll share with you where and how much I spent. If it isn’t listed, I already had it in my stash. But, it is likely that I found it, transformed it from junk, or got some amazing deal on it.

Without further ado, here is my imperfect and inexpensive decorating for fall:

Wreath $12 from Home Goods purchased over summer.

 Bowl & fruit $15 from Craig’s List.

 Vase $2 from Goodwill, beauty berries & nandina berries from our yard.
$3 Goodwill distressed chalkboard frame details HERE.
$5 Pottery Barn inspired lantern from Habitat ReStore. Details HERE.

$2.49 Goodwill gourd painted HERE.
Books, bird, and birdhouse I already had.
Birdhouse is perched on $6 clearance candlestick from Target. 

$2.49 Goodwill Pear turned Ballard Designs knockoff HERE.
Apple from Craig’s List bowl above.
 Two more black candlesticks from Target (forgot price).
Both on clearance. I spray painted them black.

 Pinecones from our yard, orange/red dishtowel from the kitchen.
Basket fillers were free with 3 card Hallmark purchase.
Plant & pot clearance at Kroger $3.50
Books & cowbell passed down from our grandparents.
Pinecones & acorns from our yard.
Another dishtowel from the kitchen.

Urn from tag sale $3. It is heavy cast iron! 
Copper canisters were passed down to me when my grandfather passed away last year.

Splurge wreath! $19 at Michael’s last year.
Added maroon raffia ribbon this year.
 Simple 5 minute magnolia wreath, details HERE.

 Two pie pumpkins used as post finials. $2.50 each from Kroger.

 Grocery store pumpkins made into topiary and fringed rope (already had).
My boys love to get into the decorating act. 
They love to put their touch on our kitchen window each new holiday. 

I encourage you all to throw away that “perfect” mentality and try something new this month! It is okay if it doesn’t come out perfect. Love it if it is a reflection of who you are. If you hate it throw it away and use it as a learning experience, but don’t give up. Try it again!

Let’s not forget how we all learned to ride a bike or even walk. Were we afraid to try it? Probably. But, we tried it anyway. Did we give up when we fell the first time? No!

Mag-nolia-fying a Fall Wreath

I promised you that I’d be embracing Autumn. Well, I’ve been a busy girl and have been switching out the summer decor for some more seasonally appropriate reds, oranges, brown and greens.

Here is a little sneak peek from my mantle:
My Ballard Design Knockoff Pear has already found a spot to sit.

In an effort to spend less and store less, I’ve been trying to buy just 2-3 wreaths that I can switch up and tailor to meet the season. So a few months ago, I bought this little white bud wreath from Target (I think? Correct me if I’m wrong.)

It will be my springboard or base wreath for many seasons to come. The neutral white color works well with all colors and I can add other natural elements and ribbons to change the color palette.

When I saw how Kate, over at Centsational Girl, made a beautiful wreath with magnolia leaves, the light bulb went on for me.

 Centsational Girl’s Wreath

My neighbor has a beautiful magnolia tree, so I asked if I could steal some of its fallen leaves. I filled a grocery bag with the ones that looked most interesting to me. Then brought them home, rinsed the dirt off of them and laid them out to dry.

After they dried, I started playing with them, and found that I could gently tuck them into the grapevine base frame. I fully intended to hot glue them in place, but they held tight and stayed on their own! I think they were so happy to be offered a second life that they gladly cooperated.

I tied a cotton ribbon (leftover from the tie on a stack of washcloths from Target). I just threaded it through the loop that came with the wreath.

And here is my super easy mag-nolia-fied fall wreath.

Installing New Exterior Lighting

If you were here the other day to see my dormer window transformation, you may have seen my exterior lights.

Then again, maybe you didn’t because they are miniscule! Not only are they tiny, but the light sockets were cracked, the brass trim was dated and rusty, and they just weren’t making me smile. And that is what it is all about, isn’t it!

I’ve been looking for affordable exterior lights that fit the style of our home for about a year now. I didn’t want anything too trendy or contemporary because our house has an old world feel, it is a dutch colonial.

I happened to be at Lowe’s buying our new stove (yep, the one that caught fire in this post) and I spied these beauties on clearance for $24! I snatched them up in an instant and high tailed it out of the store before I could find any more things I “needed”.


Flat head screwdriver*
Phillips head screwdriver*
power drill with screwdriver bits (if you wish to speed up unscrewing and screwing)
Wire Strippers*
Wire cutter*
New light fixture with instructions

* When working with electricity, It is safest to work with tools that have rubber or plastic handles that won’t conduct electricity, should you forget to turn off the power.

Required Safety Instruction:

Turn off the power to the light fixtures you are working on. Turn your lights on and visually inspect they are lit before turning off the circuit. Then shut off the circuit at your circuit breaker and check to see that the light has gone out.


Remove your new light from the packaging. Check for the instruction manual and all the parts. I like to put screws and small parts in a bowl so I don’t lose them.

Okay, now comes the easy part. Disassemble your old light. Take the top off and keep removing parts until you are down to the bare bones.

Unscrew the mounting plate from the wall by turning the small ball cap nuts (okay, no snickering, that is what they are really called!)

Watch out for critters that might be living behind your fixture! This cute little tree frog jumped out at us. Poor little guy. We actually found him in our house later that day and had to shoo him back outside.

Pay attention to which wires are connected to the white and black wires on your fixtures.

Now you can remove the wire nuts and free your old fixture. (Don’t forget to clean out your junction box (the round, square, or octagon shaped box that is mounted to the wall and contains your house wires.)

Also, take a moment to make sure your junction box is attached firmly to the house. And/or that you have something solid to attach your mounting bracket to. Case in point: this poor light fixture is hanging on by a wire because the mounting bracket was screwed into the foam insulation!

Locate the mounting plate for your new fixture. Thread the machine screws that will attach to your new light from the back of the mounting plate so they are sticking out towards you. Make sure the screws line up with the holes in your light fixture canopy (the metal cover on your light fixture that will rest flush against the wall.)

THEN you can attach it to your junction box. Honestly, this took me the most amount of time because I wanted to move my fixture up a little to compensate for its larger size. It took me too long trying to determine which holes to use for mounting. I did end up putting one screw into the junction box, and then used a wood screw to attach the other side to the siding on our house (which I then caulked to keep it from rotting the siding.)  You will probably be lucky and won’t need to do this step.

Double check to make sure that the plate is snug and attached firmly to the junction box and/or a solid surface.

These next few steps will be much easier if you have an assistant to hold the light fixture while you make the wire connections.

Unless your fixture comes with short wires, trim the excess and strip about 3/4 inch of the insulation from the end of the wires using your wire cutters and wire strippers. Making sure that your wires will fit inside your junction box, go ahead and connect the bare wire (ground wire) from your house to the green ground screw. If your new fixture has a bare or green wire, wrap that around the green ground screw as well.

Separate your white and black wires from your house, ideally you want them to be on opposite sides of the junction box so there is no risk of them touching. Go ahead and use a wire nut to connect your white wires. Then do the same for the black wires. Gently push the wires into the junction box (keeping them apart from each other).

Line up the holes in the canopy on your light fixture with the machine screws sticking out of the mounting plate. Use the ball cap screws that came with your fixture to cap the ends of the machine screws.

Hopefully everything looks good at this point (straight, no exposed wires, etc.) I would recommend turning on the power to check your wire connections and make sure your fixture works before the next step, and before installing the second light (if you have one.)

Caulk around the edges of your light fixture to keep water from entering the junction box. Use clear or paintable exterior grade caulk.

Don’t forget to turn off the power again before removing and installing your second light fixture.

You can see both the old and new light fixtures in the photo below. The one on the left is the new one, and the right is the puny old one.

Once you get the second fixture up and check to see that it works, stand back and admire your handywork!

Here are the after pictures of our new exterior light fixtures:

We’re still getting used to the size of the new lamps, but I definitely think they fit the scale of our house better than the old ones.

What do you think? I’m curious if anyone else likes copper (instead of Oil Rubbed Bronze.) Don’t get me wrong. I like ORB, I just didn’t think it fit our home’s style.

Ballard Pear Knockoffs

Have you seen these deliciously rustic pears from Ballard Designs?

They are really adorable until you see the price tag: $49 each! What?! Obviously I’m not the only one who thinks that price is outrageous, because when I googled “Ballard Pear” to find the above photo for you, I stumbled across Thrifty Decor Chic’s own version of the pear.

As fate would have it, I happened to come across a pear that I found at my local Goodwill a few weeks ago. I bought this pear and gourd. They were quite an ugly pair (hee, hee.)

But, the price was irresistible at $2.49 a piece.

I started by sanding the surface of the pear and gourd lightly.

Then I sprayed them with white primer.

And finished them off with Rustoleum’s Heirloom White Satin finish.

And that is how they sat for several weeks while I tried to decide what to do to them next. Until I happened upon those adorable pears in the recent Ballard Designs catalog. Then I knew exactly what to do with my pear and gourd.

Starting with the gourd, I mixed some acrylic paint, using raw sienna (dark brown), burnt sienna (red brown) and yellow ochre until I had a nice golden brown antiquing color. After pouring out a small circle of acrylic matte medium (you can use glazing medium or modge podge if you like), I used a coarse fan brush to dip my brush in the medium and the paint, creating instant custom tinted glaze!

Working in small areas, I began painting on the glaze dry brush style (wipe off almost all the paint so you see streaks). My strokes were in random directions and brushing back and forth a few times to blend the color out (being careful to leave the brush strokes for visual interest.)

I also used a rag to dab around the gourd until I liked the results. Once the gourd was painted I used some raw sienna on a smaller brush to paint the stem.

For the pear, I squeezed out some acrylic paint in dark green, off white, and a creamy yellow. I mixed them until I got a nice apple green color. I purposely wanted a vibrant color because I knew they would lose some punch after adding the brown antiquing glaze.


To paint the pear’s leaf, I used a dark brown (raw sienna) and a yellow ochre for the highlights. Acrylic paint is really forgiving because if you don’t like it you can paint over it. The leaf consists of about four layers of playing and blending before I got the look I liked.

After the green had dried, I used the same technique with the fan brush in the brown glaze until the whole pear was covered.

I couldn’t be happier with the results! $5 was my total cost. I saved myself about $95 for two decor items (not to mention shipping costs.) Luckily, I already had the paints and brushes on hand.

Did you see that ladder above? Yes, it is the other half of this ladder! It underwent a little transformation. You’ll want to see it now!

Dressing Up a Dormer Window with Shutters

Our home has beautiful dormer windows.


I love the little recessed ledges inside each dormer. But, the window in our hallway always looked so sad.


Then one day it hit me! This poor window has been neglected and has no character, jewelry or bling! For whatever reason (maybe because I was sleep deprived?) it took me a year to realize that the window itself had not been painted white like the other windows in our home.

The first thing I did was grab a paint brush and paint the muntin bars (or grille), the bars that separate and hold the panes of glass. Don’t say I never taught you anything on this blog! Want to learn more about the anatomy of a window? Look on Pella’s website.

It looked better, but there was too much white, so I painted the recessed area a sunny yellow.


Wow, that looks better! But, the window still looked a little stark. That lonely plant just wasn’t pulling its own decorative weight.

So, I ran up to the attic where all the original shutters from our home are stored. I pulled two out of the attic and painted them with a pretty aqua blue oops paint.

Next, I took a sand paper and roughed up the edges and distressed them until you could see the dark green peeking through.

I bought four gate hinges at Lowe’s and mounted them on the bottom and middle rails. I knew that there were studs on the edges of the window well, so I drove my screws into those corner studs.


The tops of the shutters protruded over the window well, so I couldn’t use a gate hinge there. I painted a faux hinge on the shutters instead.


I also painted a little sign over the dormer to fill up the visual blank space between the tops of the shutters. The board was just piece of scrap cabinet toe kick. And, yes, those are simple upholstery tacks holding it to the wall.


To create this little sign, I found a font I liked, then typed out the phrase on the computer. I was able to tile two sheets together to span the width of the board. I rubbed pencil on the backside of my paper. Then traced the letters on the front of the paper. By pushing hard with the pencil, my type was transferred on the wood. This allowed me to paint over the pencil marked letters: “Here Comes the Sun…” one of my favorite Beatles songs.

 Sweet little birds waking up in their nest.

I dressed up the shutters by adding little keyhole drawer pulls.


I accessorized and put a little $5 Goodwill chair in the corner.


Around Christmas time I hung the star light for decoration, but it puts off the perfect amount of light for those darn night wakers. (Anyone else have those in your home?) So, it now hangs year round.

I think this window is very happy now!

What do you think? Does it need anything else? Maybe paint the chair or distress it? Or maybe that chair just needs a colorful cushion.



Guest Appearance on Remodelaholic

I am so excited that my “Closet turned into a Reading Nook” post is being featured today on Remodelaholic! If you haven’t seen the project, it was a three day labor of love for my youngest son. I had a free weekend while Pretty Handsome Guy took the boys camping. Working with wood and power tools is how I chose to spend my free time!

Now, back to Remodelaholic. I’m sure you all have been to or heard of Remodelaholic. If you haven’t, well you are missing out on loads of DIY fun!

Cassity is the head honcho over at Remodelaholic. She and her husband have transformed two homes and are in the process of working on their third home! She graciously takes her blog readers along for the adventures and mis-adventures of remodeling.

Her small bedroom renovation post is really entertaining to read. The room threw many challenges in their way, but who were they to let it stop them!

The room went from this:
To this:

And those pictures don’t even begin to tell the whole story! Chiseling brick, ripping carpeting off the walls (yes, you read that right), and cheating the height of a window are some the highlights that she shared.

How many of you have boring garage doors? (ooo, ooo, me, me!) I am seriously trying to figure out if we can reface the garage doors to look like Cassity’s carriage house style. She has a detailed tutorial on her site.

In between posting about her own remodeling achievements, she features DIY projects other bloggers have tackled. I get my DIY fix in daily doses by subscribing to Remodelaholic. I’m seriously addicted to reading her posts while waiting for my first grader at the bus stop. I think that is the true meaning of “Remodelaholic” – a person that is seriously addicted to reading Cassity’s blog. Now head on over to Remodelaholic and get a dose of some DIY achievements and read about my son’s closet that I turned into a reading nook.

Then don’t forget to come back here and enter to win my end of the summer giveaway!

Saying Goodbye to Summer with a Giveaway

Am I the only one who is hanging onto summer with a death grip? Can you tell that I’m not quite ready to embrace Fall? It isn’t like my last post was about using sea shells to make a matching game or something beach themed! 
Dark sky and light ocean at Topsail Island.

This past weekend we made one more trip to the coast. We stayed with my stepmom (aka the famous author) Diane Chamberlain and her significant other, the very talented photographer, John Pagliuca. They own a great condo at Topsail Island. The view is stunning since the ocean is right off their deck.
Diane and Jet (one of her two shelties)
One of John’s many beautiful photos, for sale HERE.

We had a fabulous time, but my favorite part of the weekend was sleeping on the deck at the foot of the ocean with Pretty Handsome Guy. Nothing can compare to being lulled to sleep by the ocean!

That’s me asleep on the condo deck.

Some of you noticed that I have a new profile picture. I am forever indebted to John for taking several pictures of me specifically for my blog. (Being the photographer in our house means that I have very few photos of myself.)

So, since I still have summer on the brain, I wanted to go ahead and introduce you to these beauties that hold bottled up beachy goodness in them.

Bottles filled with shells and sand.
Teeny tiny shells circle the nautilus and starfish stoppers.

If you have been one of my readers for a month, you may recognize these from the tour I gave of the Painted Cottage in Ocean Isle Beach, NC. Leigh is the owner, and she was so sweet to offer something to give away to my readers. That’s right, these two beautiful glass bottles could be yours. And, because I REALLY want to thank my followers, I’m giving you five chances to enter the giveaway.

It is pretty simple. Here are the ways that you can win these two adorable beach in a bottle accessories:

  1. Become a follower of Pretty Handy Girl (Subscribe via email on the sidebar or follow with Google friend connect which can also be found on the sidebar). Then leave me one comment letting me know that you are (or already were) a follower.
  2. Become a follower of The Painted Cottage blog HERE. Then leave me a comment on this post letting me know that you are now following The Painted Cottage.
  3. Become a fan of The Painted Cottage on Facebook HERE. Then leave me a comment letting me know you are now a fan. (Not sure how you become a fan of a facebook page? It is easy, simply click the thumbs up “Like”icon at the top of the page.)
  4. Do you tweet? Did you know that Pretty Handy Girl tweets? Become a Twitter follower of PrettyHandyGirl and comment back here to let me know you are now following on Twitter.
  5. Finally, if you like this giveaway, share it with your friends. Tweet (using #PrettyHandyGirl), let your friends know on Facebook or blog about this giveaway and leave me a comment letting me know where you shared the giveaway love.

Be sure that if your comment profile is “anonymous” that you leave me your name and email address in your comment, so I can contact you if you win ;-).

Wow, you have up to five chances to win! On October 1st, I will pick a winner using I’m looking forward to sending some summer beach love to one of my readers. Good luck!

Okay, now I need to try to get in synch with the autumn spirit. How about if I just stare at John’s beautiful “Fall Colors” photograph!

Fall Colors by John Pagliuca

Sea Shell Matching Game

Oh so sad that summer is over. If you were fortunate to get some time at the beach, you may have come home with a few dozen of these:

Especially if you have little children who insist on keeping every shell that they find! So, what to do with all those shells? Gather up your little ones and make a sea shell matching game!

This craft couldn’t be easier. You will need an even number of shells that are approximately the same size and color. Plus, stickers that you have at least two of.

Be sure your shells are clean, dry and free of sand. Then peel and stick your stickers inside the shells. Try not to pick shells that look identical or it will make it too easy for your players to make a match. Let’s not make it too easy on the kids. The true goal of this game is to keep your kids occupied for 15 minutes!

You may have to trim a few stickers to help them fit better. See how I trimmed the Buzz sticker:

Then set out your shells sticker side down and let the game begin!

Make sure they play fair and only turn over two shells at a time. If a match is made then they can keep those two shells.

At the end, let them count their pairs. The person with the most matches wins!

Be sure to encourage re-matches! If you want the stickers to hold up to many games and sticky fingers, you may choose to coat the sticker side with Mod Podge.


Ladder Stepping Up to the Stashbusting September Challenge

Robin over at TheTshirtDiaries is a gal after my own heart.

She has thrown down a challenge to anyone willing to close up their pocketbooks this month (well, at least for spending on arts and crafts and DIY projects), and use what you have in your home, workshop, craft room or wherever you create. The challenge is called Stashbusting September and you can read more about it here.

She also has a link party called Upcycled Awesome every Wednesday. I hope you hop over to check out some of the fantastic ideas she and other bloggers have shared.

I am always up for a challenge, so I jumped in with both feet ready to complete some projects and do it without spending a dime!

 Obviously toe-less shoes are not safe in the workshop, unless you want to be,
ummm toe-less!

So, what about you? Up to the challenge? I hope you step up to the plate and try your hand at re-using and making-do with what you have on hand! Altogether now: Hey ho, let’s go!

Here is one of the projects that has been sitting around waiting to be given a new life. An old ladder that I picked up from The Habitat for Humanity ReStore (visit this post for more details).

$15 dollars was a little more than I wanted to pay, but Habitat for Humanity is one of my favorite charities, so I don’t mind spending a little more when the money goes to people who need housing.

I actually made this ladder into two separate items. I’ll show you the results of the other half when I finish that project.

Tools Needed:

  • Safety Goggles (Definitely wear your safety goggles when using a pry bar!)
  • Hammer
  • Sand paper or sanding block
  • Pry Bar
  • Drill
  • Screws
  • Piece of L-shaped moulding

I used the chisel end on my pry bar to loosen the rivets. Some of those rivets were hanging in there and weren’t ready to come out yet. But, I showed them who’s boss. That would be me, the woman in a skirt and toe-less sandals!

Then used the claw end of a hammer to to remove it the rest of the way.

After removing the brace and top rivets, the ladder’s front and back were free from each other forever. I wiped the whole ladder down with a damp cloth and then lightly sanded it to remove any splinters.

I played around with the back of the ladder in our dining room…

…but ultimately decided I wanted to use it as an easel.

I have a decent scrap pile with leftover boards and trim pieces. A little scrap of L shaped moulding was exactly what I needed.

I measured how high I wanted the moulding to be and then marked where my screws would go.

 I predrilled the holes.
 Leveled the moulding and screwed it into the ladder.
 Instant easel!
Love it!  Especially those paint splotches.
 It looks great next to our repainted Craig’s List buffet and hutch.
Plus, I can change out the artwork on a whim.

I hope this has inspired you to do some Stashbusting this month. Check out what some other Stashbusting bloggers are doing this month: HERE!

Aging is so Distressing – Techniques for Antiquing Furniture

Well, despite the fact that I am starting to feel my age, this post is actually about achieving that well worn, loved, aged and antique look on furniture and decor items.

How to Age, Distress & Antique | Pretty Handy Girl
Aren’t these layers of paint, scratches and wear marks art to your eyes?

How to Age, Distress & Antique | Pretty Handy Girl
Nothing shows character like chipping paint and multiple revealed layers on metal.

How to Age, Distress & Antique | Pretty Handy Girl
Weathered paint worn thin and rubbed off.

How to Age, Distress & Antique | Pretty Handy Girl
or paint splotches on an old ladder.

How to Age, Distress & Antique | Pretty Handy Girl

And you can’t forget rust, love that beautiful brown patina!
I have been experimenting with several techniques to add age to “newer” pieces of furniture. Here are a few ways to add some character through distressing:

Throwing the chain in:
These are a few of my favorite distressing tools:


Throwing a chain at wood gives you those elliptical dents. Dragging the sharp edges of a pry bar across wood will give it some deep grooves. Set a screw on its side and lightly hammer it into the wood. Finally a few random hammer marks here and there finish off the worn look.

How to Age, Distress & Antique | Pretty Handy Girl

This is the exact same technique I used on the mudroom bench.

Sanding through the years: [Read more…]

Trashy Coffee Table Finds Her Beautiful Beachy Self

Okay readers, so the truth is out, I just can’t seem to pass up discarded furniture. They look so sad and pitiful awaiting the trash trucks. They plead with me to rescue them from life in the dump. That is how I found this coffee table.

It was resting against a dumpster. The legs and skirt of the coffee table were in good shape structurally, but the top was cheap masonite (compressed and glued fibers of wood.) This type of wood will swell and absorb water like a sponge. I’m one of those unfortunate homeowners who’s house is sided with hardboard (essentially the same as masonite.) Now you can see why that isn’t a good thing:

Moisture causes mold to grow, and the retained moisture also causes the wood to swell, become misshaped and will eventually rot away. The first thing I did was unscrew the top and throw it away! Yuck.

Sorry Mr. Tabletop, there was no rescuing you.

I also removed the hardware from the table skirt and saved it with the screws.

I cleaned the base of the coffee table with bleach cleaner to get rid of all the mold.

After it dried, I roughed up all the surfaces on the legs and base.

Then I primed it to seal the wood and prepare it for painting.

I painted the legs and skirt with two coats of Benjamin Moore Impervo white paint (leftover from our living room trim.)
I always paint the undersides or the hidden side first, then I use a technique for elevating my object and keeping it from sticking to the drop cloth.

Simply tap a nail into each leg after you have painted the foot. Then turn the table over and continue to paint. Some other bloggers have found the Rockler painting pyramids, but I have yet to find any in my local stores to try them out. Hey Rockler, if you are reading this, send me some painting pyramids so I can give them a spin and see if they work better than my nail technique!

After the paint dried, I removed the nails from the bottom of the legs and hammered floor protectors in their place.

Now, to replace the masonite top with something with more age and character. I searched through my wood stash and found these two discarded boards that I think used to be in someone’s closet or pantry.

The boards fit well on the skirt of my coffee table, but it had a funny cut out on the edge of one of the boards. It was probably a profile cut.

It didn’t look very old or interesting to me, so I drew a line diagonally along the board and cut it off with my jigsaw. That looked much better! More like a salvaged board. Then I flipped the cut board to the inside edge.

I distressed my new table top with a heavy chain, pry bar, and hammer (read more here.)

At this point, I went to my “oops” paint stash and chose this gallon of $5 baby blue color.

I know it looks like a nursery color, but I wanted something vibrant to show through after glazing and antiquing. I painted the whole table top this light blue color. Luckily I was able to skip the priming step because the boards had previously been painted.

After the boards were dry, I sanded, glazed and then applied a stain to antique it (more on these techniques here).

Then I turned the boards upside down, and used the screws I set aside to attach my boards to the table skirt.

I decided not to re-use the handle hardware that was originally on the coffee table.  Instead I wanted to give this table a beachy look. So, I added some shells to the front of the coffee table using my new favorite glue, E-6000 glue. This glue holds super strong, I even set the table down on the shell edge (forgetting they were there,) and the shell broke, but all the shells remained glued to the table. Now that is a strong bond!

My last step was to put a protective coating of polyurethane over the whole coffee table. I used an old can of oil based polyurethane that had yellowed. This added the perfect age to my coffee table.

And here is my Trashy Coffee Table turned into a Beautiful Beachy Babe!

Uneven boards = instant character


Glazed legs and table skirt


Now isn’t she beautiful?
One more look at the before and after:

Not bad for a new coffee table for our porch that essentially cost me NOTHING, since I already had all the paint and supplies leftover from other projects. What do you think? Do you like her color? Or too baby blue for you?

Next Up: More tips on antiquing, distressing and adding age to objects. I hope you come back soon.

Chalk it up…to a busy day.

…to another busy day in the life of Pretty Handy Girl!
I had fully intended on posting a tutorial on distressing furniture for you today. But, I got side tracked today and then let’s just say that my evening ended up with a visit from these guys:
 Thank you Raleigh Fire Department for putting out my oven fire! 

Let me tell you, it is a scary thing to see your heating element turn into a 4th of July super-sized sparkler! Luckily no one was hurt and our kitchen is still white (not smoky gray.) Needless to say, we will be in the market for a new oven this week. Any recommendations or “steer clears” would be appreciated. And a word of advice, if your heating element shorts out, sparks and catches fire, turn off your circuit breaker.

Not exactly what I planned on dealing with today! I did have plans for one tiny little project. This little project had me on a hunt for the illusive and extremely rare chalk marker. I have been looking everywhere for one of these exotic creatures. 
Target – nope
Walmart – nope
Ace Hardware – nope
JoAnn’s Fabrics – nope
Jerry’s Art-a-rama – Ding, ding, ding! Finally found it!
If you’ve been around the blogosphere lately, you have seen chalkboard paint projects everywhere! I probably wouldn’t be surprised to see a chalkboard painted dog next week.
I had some leftover chalkboard wall decal material, so I cut a little label for our jar of colored pencils. But, I really wanted a chalkboard marker so I could write on the label and not worry about it smudging from little hands using it daily.
So, naturally after using my new chalkboard marker and LOVING IT! I decided to paint some more things with chalkboard paint and use my new marker. 
I put up my homemade spray tent (I’ll have to show you how I made it later.)
And got busy. My mind played “Back in Black” in my head as I sprayed. (Any other AC/DC listeners out there?)  I decided to use automotive black primer (for better adhesion on the plastic spice lids.)
First up where these Goodwill candy jars all four and the rack for $6.99!
U-G-L-Y oak lids, but not for long…
Blackified, labelled and now looking good.
Next victim was a spice rack and jars (I’m embarrassed to say)
that I repainted years ago.
That’s right, back in the sponge-era.
The gold ink labels are impossible to read.
I carefully lined them up and made a list of the order 
they were in to make re-labelling them easy.
Seemed like a great idea, UNTIL my oven caught fire.
Then I swept everything off the counters and away from the stove.
 After testing my sense of smell, I put the lids back on. And now that I can read them,
I shouldn’t mix up red pepper and paprika anymore.
The rack received several layers of treatment to give it a distressed look.
Finally, I spray painted a Goodwill picture frame heirloom white and distressed it.
I cut a piece of foamcore to size (since I accidentally broke the glass) and sprayed it with chalkboard paint. Easy framed chalkboard.