Archives for June 2011

Dollar Store Flower Pot Makeover

Another project I completed before the birthday party was a quick makeover for a pair of ho-hum dollar store flower pots. My friend Heather helped me add some jute rope and fake flowers then set them out with utensils in them. Perfect for a summertime birthday party!


  • Hot Glue Gun w/ glue sticks
  • Jute Rope
  • Flower Pot
  • Fabric Flowers
  • Scissors
  • Foil or wax paper (to protect work surface)


1. Plug in your hot glue gun to warm up. Cut the stems of your flowers about 2″ from the flower.

2. Turn the flower pot upside down. Put a dollop of glue against the rim of your pot and secure the end of your rope on it. Squeeze a line of glue around the pot rim and press the rope into the warm glue.

3. After one row is complete, add the flowers by bending the stems until they lay flat against the pot. Secure with a lot of glue. Then wrap the subsequent rows over the stems.

4. Continue gluing the rope onto the pot. Make sure to press each row of rope tightly against the row before it.

5. When you reach the bottom of the pot, secure the end of the rope with another dollop of glue. Be sure your rope doesn’t extend past the bottom of the pot or it could make the base wobbly.

Now set them on your table and fill with utensils. Later you can put a plant, flower or pens inside.

Are you ready for Independence Day? Would you like a quick and easy sewing project to add some patriotic flair to your home? Hop on over to Parentables to read my tutorial for making adorable star pillows.

And don’t forget, today (June 30th) is the last chance to enter the giveaways! I will be picking the winners after midnight tonight.

It’s My Birthday and I’ll Slide if I Want To!

I had the best birthday party EVER! Renting this beast was the highlight of the party.

At two stories high, it was the main attraction. My mom was next to go down right after my boys (she’s such a kid at heart!)

Wheeee!!! Oh it may look like I’m scared, but I’m whoopin’ it up and having the time of my life on our own private water slide. Well, at least for 24 hours it was ours. Space Walk of Raleigh really owns the slide. But, Chris was gracious enough to let us keep it for a full 24 hours! Seeing the expression on my sons’ faces when they arrived home to find the slide blown up in our front yard was priceless.

I am still riding a high after the party. I was surrounded by the best family, friends and neighbors a girl could ask for. I am one lucky girl.

The adults and kids alike had a blast hurling down the slide. Even my mom and dad went down it!

If they can enjoy a giant waterslide in their 60’s, I’m fairly certain that I will too in 20 years. (Now you know where I get my youthful attitude from.)

A wonderful friend of mine made the birthday cake and I’m telling you, it was the BEST tasting cake I have ever tasted!

Chocolate cake with real strawberry filling and buttercream frosting. Yummy!

She even used my blog design as inspiration for the cake! It was beautiful. Oh and by the way, it may not look it, but this cake is huge! It feeds 80 people. We scarfed it down like animals took our time eating it over the weekend.

If you live in the Raleigh area, you must look into having Kristen’s Cakes make you a cake. She’s just starting out, but her lack of experience has no effect on her cake making talent!

My very talented mom set up a station for creating artwork. It was a popular attraction with the kids (and a few adults.)

But, after an art lesson it was on to more sliding! Here’s Pretty Handsome Guy trying his best to get enough speed up to vault the end of the slide. There was only one adult who did manage to vault it. Of course, after he did, EVERYONE was trying to do it.

Which resulted in a lot of photos that look like this:

Here’s my little brother, trying to enter the Xtreme Water Slide Hall of Fame.

One note of caution to anyone thinking of renting a giant water slide. Be sure to pop some Advil after the party. You may be a little sore the next day.

It took me some time to read through ALL your comments for the blogiversary/birthday week giveaways. OVER 1,000 entries this week! WOW!

Your comments were a wonderful addition to my birthday. I especially appreciated the feedback and suggestions for improving my blog. Thank you so much!

Don’t forget, this is the last week to enter these fabulous giveaways, so be sure you leave a comment (or two, or three, or four…) on each post. A winner will be picked for each giveaway after midnight of Thursday, June 30th.

New Life for a Borders Bookshelf

I hope you will take a moment to view how I test drove my Dremel Trio. This is seriously a really fun power tool! Just be sure you are safe so as not to ruin the fun. Eye protection, face mask, and ear plugs. Check.

For those of you who like to skip to the end of the book and see the ending, here you go:

For the rest of you, here is how I created this cut out/back lit bookshelf that started life as a bookshelf from a closing Borders bookstore.

Tutorial for creating a cut out bookcase:
Almost any bookcase will work for this project, but the ones that have a thin wood (can be masonite) backing will work best. Set up a work area that you don’t mind getting dusty and dirty. Remove the shelves from your bookcase.

Cutting the endcap:


  • circular saw
  • level
  • clamp
  • scrap wood
  • screws
  • drill

I cut the endcap in half lengthwise so I could use half for each end of my bookshelf, and to position it flush against the wall. To cut a straight line using a circular saw, I clamped one end of a level to the endcap. My level wasn’t long enough, so I drilled a scrap piece of wood on top of the level and into the end cap to support the other end.

I set the circular saw blade just below the depth of the endcap. By resting the endcap on two 2×4″ boards, I was able to creative a gap below the endcap for the sawblade to pass through.Then I ran the circular saw along the level for a straight cut. Straight as an arrow, and it met Pretty Handy Dog’s approval.

Cutting out the backing design and painting:


  • Dremel Trio
  • Palm sander
  • Sandpaper (100 grit & 220 grit)
  • Scrap 2×4 lumber
  • Chalk or pencil
  • Wood putty
  • Putty knife
  • Primer
  • Paint (white and navy blue)
  • 3M Clean Edge technology painter’s tape
  • Newspapers
  • 2″ paint brush
  • Small paint roller and tray

Sketch out the design on your bookshelf (using chalk or pencil) before beginning.

Before using any new power tool, take some time to read through the manual.

To insert a bit into the Dremel Trio, you push in the blue (shaft lock) button on the front and use the enclosed wrench to loosen the collet nut on the tool.

Insert the cutting bit into the Trio. (The trio also comes with a sanding drum bit and a routing bit!)

Tighten the collet nut with the wrench.

Turn the blue handle on the side of the TRIO to raise or lower the base plate.

Adjust the base plate until the cutting bit extends slightly below the wood backing of your bookcase.

Lay the bookcase down on its back. Position 2×4 boards under the edges of the bookcase (or you will be cutting into concrete. I’m pretty sure the TRIO is not capable of that, but I could be wrong.)

Plug in your Trio and get ready to have some FUN! You may want to practice on a scrap piece of wood before working on your bookcase. The TRIO allows you to change directions quickly and easily. Creating fanciful cuts is a breeze!

Squeeze the trigger and when the bit reaches full speed you can plunge it into the workpiece. For the pin holes hold the Trio steady, insert the bit and then lift it back out of the same hole.

To cut trees and other designs, plunge the TRIO into the wood and then slowly move the tool through the wood to carve your design. Be wary of long “V” shape cuts as they will make the backing weaker.

When your design has been completed, use the power sander to sand the back of the bookcase (where the majority of the splintering will have occurred.)

Insert the sanding drum bit into the TRIO and sand any large cut out areas.

Fold a piece of sandpaper in half and feed it through the thin lines of the branches to sand any rough edges that can’t be reached with the sanding bit.

Set the bookcase upright and inspect the cuts for more splinters. You can preview what your design will look like when lit up. Lookin’ good, huh?!

Before sanding the rest of the bookshelf, repair any dents or holes with wood putty. (This is a post I wrote about repairing all types of holes if you need help.)

Use the palm sander and a fine grit (220 grit) sandpaper to rough up the rest of the bookshelf.

Apply a coat of primer to the bookcase, shelves and sides. (Still working on emptying that can of KILZ Clean Start primer! Love that stuff.

When the primer has dried, mask off the sides of the bookcase where they meet the back.

3M sent me this Scotch Blue Painter’s tape with Edge-Lock protector to try. I was skeptical, but when I pulled the tape off it did give me a clean edge. The only place I had a little bit of seepage was in the corners where I didn’t press the tape tightly into the corner. The key to using this tape is to firmly press the edges with your finger to engage the “Edge-Lock” seal. I haven’t tried it for painting walls, but you better believe I have a wall project coming up that I can try it on.

Paint the back of your bookcase. I chose a very dark navy blue. To save paint, I used a medium blue paint for my first coat to darken the back and hopefully save paint.

Then paint one coat of the navy blue.

Follow up with a second coat to eliminate any streaking.

When the navy paint has dried, tape along the edges of the navy blue backing, where it meets the sides. Slip pieces of newspaper underneath to catch any paint splashes. (Will you get a load of my lazy supervisor! You think he’s been working hard in the heat? Uh no, that would be me doing all the work and him snoozing away the day.)

Paint the rest of the bookcase, the sides and the shelves white. I used two coats of Benjamin Moore Impervo Semi-gloss white.

Once the paint has dried completely, re-assemble the bookcase. And screw the end cap halves onto either side of the bookcase.

I installed a light rope behind the bookcase (tutorial to come at a later date) and set the lights on a timer. The rope light comes on at dusk and illuminates all the cut outs.

There is a very soft glow emitted from the back of the bookcase.

It provides the perfect amount of light for my son who HAS to have a light on at night.

My only complaint about the rope lights is that they give off a strong plastic odor. But, after a week the smell has dissipated.

I had the foresight to purchase a few of the clear display stands that slide into the end caps of the bookcase. It makes it easy to display books to pique my son’s reading interests.

Oh look! There he is now! Mission accomplished, reading interest piqued. Yes, I think he is double-jointed and a teacher pointed out that both my son’s sit like that. Must be in the genes.

A few more detailed pictures of the bookshelf. This has to be one of my favorite projects I’ve created recently. And it wasn’t very difficult to complete.




Pretty Handy Girl in a Box Giveaway and on being 40!

June 23rd 2012 - It's a great day! Taken with my phone.

Good morning! I woke up today and was happy to be alive. I am grateful for my health, my family and my friends. And, I am grateful to be 40.

Believe it or not, I used to be shy and self conscious. I hated middle school and all the girls that made fun of me. Luckily I had some friends who accepted my geekiness in high school. And most importantly, I met this guy in high school:

Baby wearing and vacuuming! I know, he's hot isn't he?!

Pretty Handsome Guy and I have aged together, although we are still in disbelief that we are older than some of our physicians! REALLY?! I still feel like I am in my 20’s. And yet, I am glad I’m not in my 20’s. I like the self confidence that comes with age. I like the acceptance of myself and who I am. I will never be a supermodel, and so what! Who wants that kind of pressure to stay thin and beautiful anyway. I know what I love to do now, and I love doing it. I like that I can laugh at myself. Afterall, if you can’t laugh at yourself, what gives you the right to laugh at anyone else?!

40 feels young to me. Sure, I’ve noticed a few changes: My hips have not forgiven me for being pregnant with two babies and inflict pain occasionally. My eyes play tricks and make me hold the menu forward and backward until I can read it. But, these symptoms are nothing. I have family members who live with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue. I will be grateful for every day that I do not suffer from these or other debilitating illnesses.

So, Whooooo Hooooo! It’s my 40th birthday today! And I have a gift for you!

I am stepping out of my comfort zone and am sharing a video with you today. I have so much to pack into the “Pretty Handy Girl in a Box” giveaway that I figured it would be easier to create a video to show you the contents (instead of filling this post with photos.) Be sure to put some ear plugs in, I am singing!



What’s in the box? from Brittany aka Pretty Handy Girl on Vimeo.


Contents of the Pretty Handy Girl in a Box: (subject to change if my boys break something, but it is more likely I’ll add more to it.)

Painting Supplies:

  • 3 pk. Purdy paintbrushes
  • 8 pc. Mini Paint Roller set (tray, mesh, four paint rollers, handle and paintbrush)
  • Scotch Blue Painter’s Tape with Edge Lock Protector
  • 3 Benjamin Moore Paint Samples: Buxton Blue, Yarmouth Blue, Monterey White
  • 3M All Purpose Sanding Sponge
  • Sherwin Williams Designer Paint Swatch Kit w/ Fan Deck
  • 1 Complimentary Paint Preview service

Tools & Gear:

  • 3M Tekk Virutal Safety eyewear
  • 3M Tekk Sanding Respirator with cool flow valve
  • 16′ Tape measure
  • Retractable Safety Scraper
  • Women’s work gloves
  • Scotch Tough Duct Tape

Home Decor Items & More:

  • Glass Cloche
  • Aqua paper decorated plate
  • Blue robin’s eggs with paper nest
  • Notecards from Scotland
  • Decorative Flowerpot
  • Bird salt & pepper shakers
  • 3 Winter themed glass votive holders
  • Blue wine bottle fork photo holder
  • Hook Frame
  • Citrus Striped Cake Stand
  • Wine Crate

AND, a $25 Gift Certificate to Home Depot with mini Home Improvement 1-2-3 book

I can only estimate that the contents are worth about $200! So, tell me, do you want this box? (Unfortunately you must live in the USA. Otherwise it would cost me more than a fortune to ship it. However, for my readers who live outside the US, if you enter and win, I will ship you a few lightweight things instead. Including the gift certificate to Home Depot.)

Here is how you can enter to win!   Sorry this giveaway has ended.

Leen the Graphics Queen Giveaway and Installing Wall Vinyl

I had the opportunity to meet Leen the Graphics Queen last week when she, her husband and her two sweet boys were in town. We met at Monkey Joe’s (an inflatable playground) and our boys had a fun and energetic afternoon playing together. If you haven’t heard of Leen, she is widely known in the decorating blog circles as the go-to gal for wall decals and vinyl. She helped Layla & Kevin install an ENTIRE wall of words for a beach cottage makeover.

Beautiful, don’t you think?!

I asked Leen to make me a custom quote for our bedroom wall, the one where I had agonized over what phrase to put. After months of thinking about quotes, one came to me and I knew it was the quote for us. You see Pretty Handy Guy and I are HUGE Dave Matthews Band fans, and this lyric has special meaning to us:

Leen sent me a few samples of vinyl colors to help me decide. I fell in love with the silver vinyl which changes color depending on the lighting and where you are standing in the room (as shown above.)

If you’ve never installed vinyl before, it isn’t terribly difficult, but it does help to know a few tricks of the trade. Here is how I learned to install vinyl (back in the days when I worked for the sign and banner company):


  • Wall decal
  • Level
  • Pencil with eraser
  • Painter’s tape
  • Old gift card
  • Spray bottle filled with water

Installing a Wall Quote:

Start by hanging your vinyl (front, lettering, backing and all) on the wall using painter’s tape to hold it. Adjust the location until you like where the decal will rest.

Set a level up against the bottom of the middle line of text. Adjust the placement of your decal until the type is level.

Draw a level horizontal line across the paper and let the line extend slightly onto the wall. Make a vertical line that is plumb (level up and down) and be sure to extend your line slightly off the paper and onto the wall.

You should now have intersecting lines that run vertical and horizontal on your wall graphic and four small tick marks extending onto the wall.

Remove your wall quote and lay it on a flat surface. Begin to remove the opaque shiny backing paper (it may have a grid or lettering on it.)  Your decal should stick to the clear semi-transparent sticky sheet that was on top of the quote. If some letters come up, simply lay the paper back down and rub it firmly with the gift card and try again.

Continue peeling off the backing paper.

Be careful not to touch any of the lettering (or they can stick to your fingers and won’t remain in proper placement.)

You are now looking at your lettering in reverse on a sticky sheet. Good job, the hard part is over. Well, almost over.

Carefully pick up your quote and turn it so the sticky side faces your wall. Line up your lines with the tick marks still on the wall being VERY CAREFUL not to rest the sticky paper onto the wall. (If it accidentally sticks, carefully pull it off being sure that the letters come off with the sticky paper.)

When all four tick marks are lined up with your horizontal and vertical lines, gently press your decal down. Starting from the center, rub your hand from the center out to the edges to adhere the quote and the sticky paper to your wall.

Lightly spray water all over the sticky paper. This will loosen the sticky paper and release the vinyl decal.

Use your gift card to burnish (sign shop lingo) the letters onto the wall. Use firm pressure and be sure to rub all the letters with the card.

Carefully begin to peel the sticky paper off the wall. If the letters start to peel off with the paper, lay the paper back down over that letter and rub your finger on top of the paper to press the letter back onto the wall.

When the paper backing has been removed. Erase your tick marks.

Now stand back and admire your new wall quote!

Thank you Leen for helping me complete my bedroom makeover! I LOVE IT!

Take a few minute to browse through some of Leen the Graphics Queen‘s beautiful decals in her website.

Some of my favorites are:

Home Decor Accents

Trees and Flowers




Kilz Clean Start Primer Giveaway and Refinishing a Garden Bench

Happy Father’s Day! I hope all you Dads and Grandfathers out there have a fabulous day. We love you and we wouldn’t be here without you! Speaking of fathers, I was asked by Parentables to write about the best advice my Dad every gave me. I wrote about how my Dad’s actions spoke louder than words. You can see a very adorably funny picture of my Dad and his three girls HERE (3rd slide).

By the way, I’m glad so many of you got a good laugh from my prom picture. I’m so thankful that perms and dyeing my hair is a thing of the past. Okay, I admit it, I might have a few highlights added now and then.

Getting down to business. You may remember my garden bench that used to be a Craig’s List bed frame.

Well, it wasn’t weathering the elements too nicely. Or maybe I should say it was weathering them poorly. Regardless, I really liked the bench and decided to strip it and start over again. I believe the main problem was that the bed frame was not solid wood, it was glued pieces. Then, if you factor in that I used spray primer and spray paint, the rain and moisture got in easily and caused the wood to swell and some of the glued joints to come undone.

But, the bench was still structurally sound, so we moved it onto the screen porch and I got ready to refinish it.

Refinishing a Weathered Garden Bench

Safey First, (as Meri-K will tell you.) Because I was sanding and scraping the old paint I had to wear eye protection and a dust mask. I also wore ear plugs while sanding and gloves to keep my hands from getting rough.


  • Power Sander
  • Sand Paper (100 grit & 220 grit)
  • Purdy Paint Tool Scraper
  • Wire Brush
  • Gloves
  • Safety Goggles
  • Dust Mask
  • Wet wipes
  • Primer
  • Roller & Tray
  • Brush
  • Paint
  • Gorilla Glue
  • Clamps
  • Wood Glue
  • Toothpicks


Begin by using the wire brush to remove any flaking paint and to get into the grooves of the spindles (and other hard to reach places.)

Tip from a Handy Girl: I am about to share with you a helpful time saving trick, so pay attention. If you have a power sander that holds the sandpaper with a clip. You can stack your sandpaper. I put the 220 grit on the bottom, then put the 1oo grit on top of that. After sanding my bench with the 100 grit, I simply tear off the top sheet and expose the finer 220 grit.

Sand down the bench with a rough 100 grit paper first, then follow up with a finer 220 grit sand paper.

Secure any loose pieces of the bench. To use Gorilla Glue, you need to moisten the two pieces that you will secure.

Then put a small amount of Gorilla glue onto one of the pieces.

Clamp the joined pieces and allow to dry overnight. (By the way, don’t waist your money on cheap clamps. That little black & orange number below just bit the dust last weekend. My Irwin clamp is a CHAMP!) Check back after 30 minutes to wipe off any Gorilla glue that has spread out of the seam.

Because the posts on my bench were really falling apart, I decided to remove the ball finials.

Use a saw to cut both finials off.

Patch the hole using toothpicks and wood glue.

After the glue has completely dried, saw off the toothpicks.

Add a curtain rod finial on top of the sawed off posts.

It looks like those finials were there all along!

Clean your bench off with a damp rag to remove any sawdust.

Cover the entire bench with one coat of KILZ Clean Start Primer. Want to know why I use KILZ Clean Start primer for all my projects now? Read how much I love it in this post where I used the same primer for painting a bamboo rug. I’m never buying any other primers (unless I’m priming a tricky surface, then I’ll use BIN 1-2-3 oil based primer. But, I won’t be happy about using that stinky stuff.)

After the primer has dried, use a piece of fine grit sand paper to gently remove any burrs or imperfections.

Then wipe off the bench with another damp wipe. I used Benjamin Moore Impervo Semi Gloss paint for the top coat on my bench. It leaves a really tough coating and will hold up to wear and tear.

Roll on the paint in one area. Then follow up with a brush to even out the paint. Remember to run your brush in the same direction as the grain of the wood.

Lightly sand after the first coat has dried and finish up with a second coat of Benjamin Moore Impervo paint. I didn’t add polyurethane, but if you are really concerned about a piece of furniture that will be exposed to the elements, go ahead and add two or more coats of polyurethane.

My bench should successfully last outside now for three reasons:

  1. I moved it inside the porch and out of the direct sun and rain.
  2. I primed the bench with a good quality brush-on primer (instead of a spray paint type.)
  3. I brushed on two coats of paint making sure I got into all the cracks and crevices of the bench.

Here she is in her newfound home, our screen porch:

With zero VOCs and the quality that is standard in all the KILZ products, this primer is a must have for the DIY painter!


Disclaimer: The products mentioned in this post are products that I use and stand behind. The opinions expressed in this post are authentically mine. I was sent a gallon of KILZ Clean Start Primer and the Irwin Quick Grip clamp to try out, but I was not paid or swayed to write favorable things about the products. If I don’t like a product, I won’t write about it. And I certainly won’t pass it off on my valued readers.



Happy Birthday-Blogiversary To Me!

Let me hear some noise! Blow the horns, shout out loud, let’s get ready to PAARRRTTTYYYY!

Could there be a more exciting week? I think not! On this date one year ago, Pretty Handy Girl was born. I wrote my first blog post and since then y’all have followed me through the beautiful and the ugly.

But, wait, there’s more! On Thursday, 40 years ago, I was born!

I couldn’t be more excited to celebrate my 40th birthday with you and you and you – all 3,350 of you (and counting!)

In honor of this memorable week, I will have a different giveaway for each day. In no particular order, here are some of the gifts I have for you (thanks to some wonderful companies who donated them.)

Janimie Necklace of Your Choice

Dremel Trio

A Selection of All Things Pretty Handy Girl (Sorry, I will not be included in the box.)

KILZ Primer

Gift Certificate to spend at Leen the Graphics Queen

A Selection of Irwin Tools


So, be sure to stop by EVERY day this week to see what you could win! Who’s with me now? Can I get a woot woot!

I leave you with a photo compilation of me over the past 40 years. Enjoy!

P.s. Get a load of my wings and my hot prom date! No funny comments, that was me and Pretty Handsome Guy in the 80’s. {Baahahaha. LOL}

How to Use Contact Paper and Pimp My Closet

For the past six weeks I’ve been taking the Simplify101 workshop: Organizing101. Aby has been a great instructor, and it has motivated me to take back my home!

A few of the projects I’ve completed are:

Bathroom Vanity Drawers


Underneath the Kitchen Sink


Hall Coat Closet


…Duh, du, duuuunnnn. Our linen closet:

This abyss is 5 feet deep with no light…I wasn’t sure what I’d find in there. Did I just see E.T. hiding in that closet?

Per Aby’s instructions, I emptied the entire closet.

Uh huh, all that stuff was in that one closet! I told you it was an abyss. Check out that tail in the upper right hand corner, Pretty Handy Dog is coming to the rescue.

Wow, look at all that room. I can store…two little boys? Does this photo remind anyone else of Hansel and Gretel?

Once I had the closet emptied, I cleaned the shelves with some Shaklee Basic H2 cleaner (still liking this stuff!)

Now comes the fun part! I got to pretty up those ugly painted shelves with decorative contact paper (found at Target.)

When I worked for a sign and banner shop (oh about 22 years ago), I learned how to lay down vinyl without bubbles and wrinkles. The same method works well for contact paper as well.


  • Contact paper
  • Scissors
  • X-acto knife
  • Staple gun
  • Safety Goggles



Begin by laying the contact paper on the shelf.

Cut it about 2 inches longer than the front of the shelf.

Flip the contact paper over and peel back about 3-4 inches and fold the backing down.

Now turn the contact paper back over so the adhesive is facing down. Line the paper up with the back edge and the wall. And press it down with your finger.

Gently pull the backing off the contact paper a few inches at a time.

At the same time press your hand in the middle of the paper and smooth the paper from the center to the outside edges. The goal is to push any air pockets out to the edge.

Pull the backing out a few more inches and use your hand to smooth forward and towards the sides again.

Repeat until the backing is completely removed.

If you need to, cut a notch out of the contact paper around the shelf supports.

Then fold the paper underneath the shelf.

Tack the paper in with the staple gun, one or two staples should hold it. Be very careful that the staple gun is shooting into the wood and not towards your face. In fact, Meri-K would tell you that you should be wearing eye protection while using a staple gun.

I chose to label the edges of my shelves (so Pretty Handsome Guy would obey the new closet organization rules!) I used some decorative baskets and bins to hold other odds and ends.

At the last minute I decided to add a plug-in style under-the-counter florescent light beside the door frame. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have a light in this closet now! No more boogie men hiding in there.

And they all lived happily ever after with their newly organized linen closet.

Check back bright and early Saturday morning. I have an important announcement for y’all! Get those noise makers, party hats and confetti ready. It’s PARTY TIME!

Magnetic Art Display Frame

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been fighting a losing battle lately. I have begged, yelled, and threatened my boys to stop putting stickers and tape on the walls.

I think my youngest one upped me, he put tape and stickers on his door! I had given up the battle until I came across this magnetic chalkboard from Less-Than-Perfect Life of Bliss:


And this burlap bulletin board from Between Blue & Yellow:


Those two boards got me thinking. If I married the two ideas, I could have a magnetic fabric display board! Luckily I have a stash of old picture frames in the attic. I grabbed the biggest one I had and painted it black and within a few hours I had a magnetic display board for my son’s door!

Here is how to create your own:


  • Painter’s Drop Cloth
  • Contrasting Decorative Fabric
  • Double sided fusible interfacing
  • Scissors
  • Sheet metal flat sheet* ($10 in duct work aisle of Lowe’s or Home Depot)
  • Duct Tape
  • Sharpie Marker
  • Tin snips
  • Gloves
  • Picture frame
  • Double sided foam tape (optional)
  • Strong magnets

*Be sure to bring a magnet to test the sheet metal. Some of them aren’t magnetic.


Instructions for making the magnetic frame:

Start by measuring the opening in the back of your frame. Mark those measurements on the sheet metal using a sharpie marker.

Using tin snips, cut the sheet metal. Believe it or not, this was very easy, but gloves are a must because the edges are sharp.

Cut out the drop cloth about two inches larger than the sheet metal. Trim the corners off the fabric.

Fold the edges over and secure with Duct Tape.

Did you know that Scotch has a whole line of Duct Tape? There are five different kinds, and they each have a different use! REALLY! See for yourself.

I didn’t know about them either until they sent me these to try out. I haven’t used them yet, but I will be soon. And I promise to tell you what I honestly think. Until then, I wonder how I could make them into a cool vase.


Instructions for Applique Monogram:

To add an applique to the fabric, print out a large letter from your computer. Then fuse a square of fabric (large enough to fit the letter onto) to the double sided fusible interfacing. Follow the instructions on the interfacing package.

Pin the printout on top of the fabric and cut it out.

Peel the back off the interfacing …

…and iron it onto your fabric covered sheet metal.

Make sure the letter is securely fused to the drop cloth.

Insert the board into the frame.

Secure the board into the frame by using a staple gun and stapling at an angle into the frame.

Add a wire or hanger to the back of your frame.

Hang the frame on the wall, door, or wherever you like. Because I was hanging the display frame onto the door (and because 4 year olds are notorious for slamming their doors), I added some double stick foam tape to the back side of the frame.

YES, I know what I said, but Mommies are allowed to use tape ;-).

I used some of the glass bead magnets we made last summer and now my son can put up his artwork and stickers without incurring the wrath of Mommy!

Now that is what I call one handsome art display!

Looking for some more creative ideas for displaying your child’s artwork? Check out my article on Parentables today: 8 Great Ways to Display Your Child’s Artwork.

A Serious Talk about Safety While You are DIYing

I had the pleasure of talking to Meri-K Appy the other day. She is the president of the Home Safety Council and has over 30 years experience talking about home safety. Meri-K has a wealth of knowledge about preventing injuries while working on and around your home.

I recorded my talk with her and hope you will take some time to listen. It is very valuable information! Feel free to put the audio on and then do something else while you listen.

You may also want to take some time to browse the Home Safety Council website. The site is filled with loads of information about how to keep you and your family safety (not just during DIY projects.)



Cliff Notes:

I took some notes during the talk. These sum up some of the important information:


There are 3 Parts of the Body that are Most Important to Protect:

1. Eyes (Vision) – Wear safety goggles when doing any type of DIY project

No need to look like Professor Scientist! You can wear eye protection that is fashionable and comfortable!

3M Tekk Tortoise Shell Safety Glasses

3M Tekk Fuel Light Safety Eyewear

When should you wear eye protection?

a. Using Power Tools

b. Mowing the Lawn

c. Sanding, cutting glass

d. Any activity where objects can become airborne

2. Ears (Hearing) – About 30 million people are exposed to dangerously high levels of noise. Anything over 85 decibels can damage your hearing.

Some examples of common decibel levels:

    • City Traffic Noise (inside a car) – 85db
    • Lawn Mower – 107db
    • Power Saw – 110db
    • Rock Concert – 115 db

When should you wear ear protections?

Ear protection should be worn anytime you are participating in an activity that has loud noise. Even noises that don’t seem excessively loud can cause hearing loss when sustained exposure occurs.

Ear protection is cheap! Foam inserts cost only a few bucks and will protect your hearing.

Inexpensive Ear Protection – Foam Ear Plugs

For better protection and comfort, use ear muff style ear protectors. Check out these! They have a am/fm radio built into them. So you can rock out (at a safe decibel level) while working on your projects.

3M Digital Work tunes ear muffs

Be aware, that one danger while wearing hearing protection is not being able to hear a child come up to you. So make sure your children are being attended to when you need to use power tools and hearing protection.

3. Lungs (Breathing) – Great care should be taken when working with anything that has dust or chemical particulates.

    • Some examples of when you should wear a mask or respirator:
    • Sanding
    • Scraping
    • Spray Painting
    • Using Chemicals
    • Disturbing anything that contains lead, asbestos or other potentially dangerous particles

You’ve seen the scary chemical warfare respirators:

You don’t have to wear that fashion for home repairs (unless you are working around lead or asbestos.)

Protection can be as simple as this dust mask:

8661Pc1-A/8661 - Dust Mask 5Pk

Better yet, 3M has a cool flow valve dust mask for a few dollars more that is more comfortable and less hot:

3M 8511 N95 Particulate Respirator Mask (10 pack)

Test lead paint in your home with these easy to use Lead Check testers:

3M Lead Test Kit – 2 pk – $12.45

Top Causes of Home Improvement Injuries:

  1. Falling from a height (beyond broken bones you could receive head trauma)
  2. Harsh chemicals and poisons (Using and not following the warning labels)
  3. Electricity (electrocution and/or fire if wiring is done improperly)
  4. Power tool injuries (cuts, burns, lacerations, etc.)
  5. Fatigue (tired, using medications, or controlled substances)
  6. Poor Lighting (Unable to see what you are working on.)

Home improvement Injuries are Completely Preventable:

  1. Be sure to 3 points of contact on ladders ( i.e. one hand and two feet on a ladder at all times.)
  2. Always read labels and follow directions (ventilation, safety gear, disposal, etc.)
  3. Electricity (hire a licensed professional if you are unfamiliar with building codes and wiring safety.)
  4. Get trained on how to use power tools (don’t trust an instructor that isn’t wearing proper safety gear.)
  5. Be alert, awake, healthy, and not taking any substances that can impair you when DIYing.
  6. Work in a well lit area.
  7. Consider hiring a professional for lead paint remediation, plumbing, electrical or any profession that requires a license.


Important Websites and Phone Number:

If you ever have any questions about lead in your home and how to deal with it:

National Lead Information Center: 1-800-424-LEAD(5323)

If you have any questions about the presence of lead, asbestos or radon in you home, contact the EPA or go to their website for more information. These organizations have been set up to protect your health. Not to make your life more difficult!

National Center for Healthy Housing

More information about 3M safety gear and where you can get your own:


Disclosure: Meri-K Appy and Pretty Handy Girl are not paid sponsors of 3M. However, 3M made a donation to the Home Safety Council to fund more research and development preventing injuries.

Some of the images above are linked to affiliate links which pay a very small percentage to Pretty Handy Girl. Other images simply link to online stores where you can purchase the product for your convenience.


Screen Porch Tour

You know the saying about not waiting for your house to be perfect to invite people over? Well, I realized that even though my porch is not 100% complete, I shouldn’t wait to invite y’all over.

I have wanted to spruce up our screened porch for 3 years now. Screen porches like Between Naps on the Porch have beckoned me from afar. I always knew I wanted to do something similar to Susan’s porch.

So, after living here for 4 years, I finally got around to giving the screen porch a much needed makeover.

This is basically a representative “before” picture taken the month before we bought the house.

After we moved in, it stayed the same except we had a white square table and chairs for meals on the porch. Slowly I have been furnishing and decorating the porch with fixtures and accessories like: Ladder Display Shelves, Beachy Coffee Table,  Minnow Trap Lights, Bamboo Painted Rug, Dream Big Butterfly Window, and my Garden Bench. My budget for this makeover was next to nothing, which presented a little bit of a challenge.

So, are you ready? Here is a tall glass of sweet tea with lemonade. Please come join me on my porch:

The two side chairs are actually from the table and chairs set. I just dressed them up with IKEA throw pillows. Someday I want to buy some wicker rockers to put in their place.

Remember the disgusting moldy coffee table I saved from the trash? There she is!

My favorite spot on the weekend. My Dad gave me this hammock for my 30th birthday and it is still in good shape after 10 years! Thanks Dad!

My semi-famous ladder display shelves I built from a $15 rickety old ladder.

The minnow trap pendant lights add the perfect amount of light after dark.

Were you wondering where I hung my Dream Big Butterfly window? Here she is:

That chippy little cabinet is the most expensive piece of furniture on the porch! I paid $85 for it at the flea market. It used to be a table, but someone cut off the legs and nailed boards to the sides and added a door to the front.

Such a great spot for catching up on my favorite magazines: Country Living, Better Homes and Gardens and Flea Market Style (the issue Layla and Kevin were recently in.)

Can you believe a neighbor was trying to get rid of this little decorator table? I gladly sprinted over to her house to pick it up. Then I draped a clearance shower curtain from Target over it. Yup,that is a shower curtain!

{Sigh} My favorite flower, blue hydrangeas.

Remember that purple garden bench? Well, she wasn’t weathering the constantly changing weather conditions, so I brought her in the porch and gave her some TLC and a few coats of paint. I just need to sew a cushion for her.

Thank you so much for coming over. I enjoyed our time together. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with a hammock. Zzzzzzz.






Painting a Bamboo Rug


Back story and my ramblings:

Sleeping outside on the screen porch was nice until I woke up with a sore neck. So, I won’t be doing that again for a while. But, I won’t complain because we are lucky to have a screened porch and I am really loving it after the recent makeover.

The makeover was spurred on by this Pier One bamboo rug that I scored for $25 while thrifting!

It’s nice isn’t it? Especially with the splashed paint on it. Yes, I was the sloppy culprit who dripped paint while repainting my garden bench. But, no big deal, I had bigger plans for that rug.

So I sat down at my computer and spent a few minutes hours on Pinterest to research some patterns for my rug – seriously addictive site! But, it is also proving to be a huge organizational tool for my blog. I can pin ideas I want to create. Or I pin other bloggers projects that I want to make sure I give credit to when I steal borrow their ideas.

Once I narrowed down the designs I liked, I used my photoshop skills to change color palettes and design to create a sketch for my painted rug.

Then I ran over to Ace Hardware to purchase some paint. I ran into my good buddy, Mr. Paint Dept Guru – and guess what he did! He told me he had just finished going through the mistinted cans and hadn’t even priced them so he let me have my pick of some cans for….FREE! That is why I love my Ace Hardware. They are a small neighborhood store and all the employees know my face. The cashier and I even have a running joke. She couldn’t remember my name once (how can she, there are only 300 customers in there a day), so I told her that I’d give her a hint. I told her that I share the same name with a famous pop singer. She laughed and said, well, I keep thinking Beyoncé but I know that isn’t your name. So, now she calls me Beyoncé everytime I walk in.


If you just came here to find out how I painted the rug, I’m sorry about my story-telling. Anyway, here is the tutorial, you found it!


  • Kilz Clean Start Primer
  • Stir stick
  • Drop cloth
  • ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape
  • Gloves
  • Paint brushes (thin and thick)
  • Paint roller
  • Butcher paper
  • Chalk
  • Scissors
  • Latex paint colors
  • Minwax Polyurethane
  • Mask Yeah! No need to wear a mask with the new KILZ clean start primer!

The good people over at KILZ recently sent me a gallon of their new eco-friendly primer* (yeah, I thought that was an oximoron too.) I’ve used KILZ 2 latex primer for years and have been very happy with the product, so I had serious doubts that some “green” primer could perform the same. Well, I stand corrected! Love this stuff!!! No face mask necessary, no need to worry about off gassing. The primer had no smell that I could determine.

And it sticks like glue to the surface that needs to be primed. It worked just as well as the regular “stinky” primer. I even scouted out my local Home Depot to see if they stock it (for when I run out) and they do! (My local Lowe’s hasn’t received a shipment yet.)

Just in case you didn’t see this: Zero VOCs!!! I like that!

Sorry, I get side tracked easily.

Start by laying down a drop cloth and putting on rubber gloves.

Stir your primer well. Roll on the primer onto the bamboo rug.

Then smooth the primer in the direction of the slats with a brush.

Tape off the inside edge of the canvas border using your painter’s tape.

Roll on the border color. Yup, that pretty blue gray paint was a mistint and therefore FREE!

After the border color dries, remove the painter’s tape and then put tape on top of the border.

Roll on the base color for your rug. Then use a brush to drag the paint between the slats. You may need to apply a second coat of paint.

Using the chalk and butcher block paper, draw out your rug design.

And lay the design on top of the rug.

Cut out the largest shapes first. And trace inside the cut outs onto the rug.

Paint inside the chalk lines with the flower color.

Next draw the vines and branches onto the rug using chalk. Chalk can easily be wiped off if you wish to work with the design a little bit.

Continue tracing flowers, vines and leaves and fill them in with paint.

When your rug is completely painted and dry, wipe it off with a damp rag. Then roll on at least 2 coats of water based polyurethane. I prefer Minwax, but use what works for you.

One word of advice when painting on bamboo slats. Don’t try to be a perfectionist. Just relax and have fun. The inconsistencies will make your rug look more authentically hand-painted!

I love my new porch rug! Even better, I love the price!

It looks fabulous with my beachy coffee table I made last year.

I promise – a photo tour of our screen porch will be coming soon.


* Disclaimer: I was sent a gallon of Kilz Clean Start Primer for my honest review. I was not paid or compensated for the review other than with a gallon of primer. My thoughts and opinions are authentic and my own. In other words, I respect you and will not lead you astray with false product information.

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Dream Big Butterfly Window – Resin Craft

Phew, what a week. I’ve been working on about 5 different projects simultaneously. The biggest accomplishment this week was my screened porch makeover. I have been itching to make it an outdoor living and relaxing room for about 4 years now. Well, it is about 95% done. And to celebrate, Pretty Handsome Guy and I slept outside on the porch last night.

One of the projects I completed for the porch was an old curbside window that I turned into a unique piece of art using a product that ETI sent me. The product is called EnviroTex Lite and it is a high gloss resin polymer compound used for sealing and protecting arts, crafts, jewelry, countertops and more!
I am thrilled with my art project and it looks fabulous hanging up in our porch.

I have to admit, I was a little scared of the EnviroTex Lite. Especially when I read the part in the instructions about using a propane torch! I had visions of having to rent a welder’s helmet and lighting a big propane torch. YIKES!
Well, my fears were unfounded, and I ended up using a bic lighter like this one: The utility lighter was more within my comfort level. And the prep and pouring steps were easier than I had envisioned. Won’t you come along to see how I made it?

My beautiful butterfly window started out looking like this:

Someone was throwing away these old windows. So, as usual, I slammed on the brakes (as my kids expressed their disgust at me) and saved them from the landfill. It took a lot of scraping, cleaning and painting to get them in a presentable state, but I’ll show you those steps in another tutorial. Let’s just fast forward to a clean shabby chic painted window for times sake.

Creating the Art:


  • Cardstock weight scrapbook paper
  • Cardstock letter paper
  • Butterfly hole punch
  • Real Butterfly Wings (found in my yard from a cat’s discarded hunt remains)
  • Glitter
  • Mod podge
  • Small cup (to pour mod podge into)
  • Scissors
  • Paintbrush
  • Eye bolts for hanging
  • Rope for hanging

Start by cutting out paper letters and punching out butterflies until your thumbs are sore. Then lay out the design on the window panes.

When you are happy with the design, anchor everything onto the window using mod podge. Paint a thin layer of mod podge on the back of each letter and paper butterfly. Then pressed them down onto the window panes. This step is important as it keeps everything in place while pouring the resin.

Use extreme caution with the butterfly wings so as not to break them or brush too much of the color off.

Gently press the wings onto the window. You may need to replace the butterfly’s body with a paper one so it doesn’t stick up above the resin. (My poor butterfly was bodiless. I think the cat ate it. I just hope my winged friend didn’t suffer.)

Before the mod podge can dry completely, carefully wipe any excess off the window. If you leave some mod podge exposed on the window, it will be immortalized in the resin forever!
Rub on transfers work perfectly for the butterfly’s missing antennae.

Pouring the Resin:

Included in the EnviroTex Lite kit:

  • Bottle of Resin
  • Bottle of Hardener
  • 2 Mixing Cups
  • Stir Sticks
  • Rubber gloves
  • Disposable brush

Not included in the kit:

  • Utility lighter
  • Glitter
  • Protective plastic to cover work surface
  • Exhaust fan (set up in a window to pull fumes away and out of the room)
  • Dust mask
  • Eye googles
  • Level

Set the window on the protective plastic. Set the level on top of the window.  Check both directions and prop up your piece using shims under the window or under the table legs until the window is completely level. Skipping this step will result in the resin puddling in the corners of each pane and leaving an inconsistent depth.

Put on your protective gloves, dust mask and eye goggles. And don’t forget to turn on the exhaust fan. No need to fry your brain during this project.

Pour equal amounts of each bottle into the first cup.

Stir the resin and hardener mixture thoroughly with the wooden stick. Be sure to scrape the sides of the cup. Then pour the mixture into the second cup. And thoroughly mix the mixture again. Failure to follow these directions could result in a BAD CRAFT-FAIL! So, just follow those directions. Okay?

After your mixture is thoroughly mixed, begin by pouring small amounts into the center of each pane. (I only poured the resin into the four panes that had objects pasted on them.)

Use the brush to gently spread the resin mixture to the edges of each pane. The resin will level itself as it dries.

After the resin is spread evenly, sprinkle some glitter around the letters and butterflies.

After a few minutes little bubbles will rise to the top of the resin. Use the lighter several inches above the project to pop the air bubbles. (I think I had more fun popping bubbles than any other step!)

Check back after about 5-10 minutes and pop any newly formed bubbles. Let the resin dry overnight (at least 4-5 hours. Times may vary depending on temperature and humidity.)

When the resin is completely hardened, use a drill bit to drill holes in the top of the window.

Then insert eye bolts on each side.

Thread some rope through the eye bolts and hang your new piece of art!

I just love how the beauty of the butterfly is preserved in the resin forever! 

This project was a lot of fun, and the results truly exceeded my expectations. I did not pour any resin in the top two window panes. The panes that do have the resin are completely transparent and look exactly as clear as the naked panes.

What do you think? Would you try a resin art project yourself? You really must see some of the other truly amazing resin crafts that these fabulous bloggers made:



Check out these other tutorials using Envirotex Lite:


ETI sent me EnviroTex Lite to try out. I was not paid or compensated for this post. My opinions and critique of the product are honest, truthful and my own.

You won’t believe all that you can do with this product.  Envirotex Lite was created by Environmental Technologies Inc. (ETI), which is the home for many resin and mold making products.

The use of resin in jewelry making, mixed media and paper arts continues to grow in popularity. Today, artists are using ETI’s products in many crafty ways and they will be showcasing these works of art on their new blog “Resin Crafts”.

Check out ETI on:
Resin Crafts Blog | ETI on Facebook | ETI on Twitter

Better Composition – Improving Your Photographs

My friend Kristi has dedicated June to “Spreading the Bloggy Love”.  She asked several (FABULOUS) bloggers to “give back” by writing a post sharing their best blogging tips. You aren’t going to want to miss a day, because she has some big names sharing their tips and secrets.

I decided to write a post about better composition in photographs. To me, good photos are one of the most important things that contribute to a great blog. If you don’t have good eye candy, your readers will look elsewhere.

So head on over to Creative Kristi’s blog today to learn how to turn your so-so photos into…

…{{BAM}} fantastic images!

What are you looking at? Head on over to Kristi’s NOW! And don’t forget to thank her for putting together such a fantastic series.

School’s Out! Summer Crafts for the Kids

The end of the school year has come and now it is time to load up on craft supplies to keep the kids entertained. My elementary school friend Megan asked me if I had any summer craft ideas to share.

So, Megan, this post is for you!

Sun Prints!

Glass Bead Character Magnets

Planning a beach vacation? Why not bring a few craft supplies to create some beach themed crafts!

Sand Writing Photo

Sea Shell Memory Game

Beach Inspired Picture Frame

Although this craft was actually created in December, we love to create decorated jars for any season! How about affixing some of your vacation photos on a jar?

Glass Jar Decorating

Finally, this craft is a little more involved (for the parent) but it was well worth it!

Magnetic Mailbox Cover

At the risk of Megan hunting me down and egging my house, this is what we looked like in fourth grade:

Isn’t Megan cute? Me on the other hand, I never had much style to my hair. Just a plain old hippie cut (did I tell you my parents were at Woodstock?)

Dejavú – May in Review

I can’t believe that June is here! Hooray! June is going to be an exciting month. Hold on to your seats because we have some fantastic giveaways coming up in a few weeks to celebrate Pretty Handy Girl’s one year blogiversary! Coincidentally, the same week I started blogging is the same week as my birthday. And this isn’t any birthday…I will be turning the big 4-0! So, stick around for some tutorials, giveaways and some birthday fun this month.

Now, what exactly did you miss in May:

Spray Painted Bottle Gifts

A Tribute to my Mom

Random Thoughts of a Handy Girl

Photo Secrets for Low Light Situations

Building Ladder Display Shelves

Edinburgh, Scotland - City Scenes

Scotland - Country Vistas

Toilet Repairs - Part 1 - Replacing the Lever

Toilet Repairs - Part 2 - Replacing the Fill Valve

Toilet Repairs - Part 3 - Replacing the Overflow Tube & Flapper

I hope you learned something this month. I know I did! Read about how I fried the circuit in our hotel room in Edinburgh.