Showing Off Photo Books


I spend a lot (a lot) of time making Shutterfly photo books for my family.  If you’ve never made one, you can’t truly appreciate how much work they are.  And even though Shutterfly lets you stack coupon upon coupon up on their site, they can get pricey too.

The last thing I want to do is let a newly made book collect dust on the shelf.  So to display my masterpieces, I bought some dish racks holders (is there an official name for these?) to hang them on the walls in an organized fashion.  I picked these racks up at the thrift store for $7 each and spray painted them white.  I’ve seen them cheaper, but I was willing to pay a little more because they had a matched set.

It is very important to make sure your photo books will fit in the slots before you buy them!  I typically make 8×11 books, and this size definitely does not fit all racks.


I obviously painted my racks white, because I thought this went best with the room.  But I think it would be neat to paint them fun colors too.  Like a hot pink or turquoise.  Also, as my collection grows, I think it will be fun to have different styles of racks hanging, just to make it more interesting.

This idea makes it very easy to change out as I create new books.



Monogrammed Wall Art


Big shout out to my Sister and Mom for helping create a customized piece of art for above Munchkin #2’s crib.  I wanted something with a monogram above her crib, but the options online were so expensive.  DIY to the rescue!

I had a projector on hand, which made this project a lot easier.  I bought a plain canvas at Hobby Lobby (side- don’t forget to download their app.  It has a 40% off a regular priced item on it.  Much easier than keeping up with clipping coupons.)  Then we found the letters we liked online and simply traced them to the board.

I highly recommend using a pencil to plan out your work.  Tracing the letters isn’t hard, but spacing them out took some doing.  Plus we found we had to add a few curly q’s here and there to fill out the space.

I didn’t get too fancy with the border or background because I didn’t want to take away from the lettering.

Here is the final project!



(Munchkin soundly sleeping…mmm)Image


I like working with this canvas board because it is very light.  Should something happen where it falls off the wall or the baby somehow hits it into her crib – it isn’t going to cause any big damage.

Craigslist Upcycle – Beachy Chair


I’m in the process of getting quotes to redo my master bath.  One contractor came in and asked what I wanted.  “Think beachy,” I said… “bead board, white/light colors.”  “You can’t have that,” he said “you have the wrong style house for that look” (read in the soup Nazi voice, which was exactly what he sounded like).

Look, I know I live in Naperville, IL – no where near a beach.  And I know soon it will be minus zero degree weather – not exactly beach weather.  And I know I live in a track home built in the 90’s – not a quaint Victorian or Cape Cod home.  But this is my style and I’m sticking to it.  And since I don’t live at the beach, isn’t that all the more reason to design my home in a way that I can at least imagine I’m there?  Obviously this guy didn’t get the job.

On that note, my quest to “beachize” my home continues.  I found this jem on Craigslist for $15.  What a steal!  The bones were perfect, just a few scrapes on the wood and the cushion material was Blah.


This project was the first time I had reupholstered a chair, and it was the perfect one to start with because lines were all very straight and easy to replace.  No piping or sewing was necessary, no fabric on the arms, I didn’t replace the single tuft button and the seat padding didn’t need to be replaced.  Now I have a little more confidence under my belt to go bigger, but still don’t think I’m ready for a wing back chair redo… one day.

Few coats of primer, paint and poly on the frame and some beachy fabric and voila! New chair.

Front viewBack viewSide view

Yes, I think this chair go perfectly in my traditional, boring, builder grade, Midwestern home.  Soon to match my beachy bath!

Before and After

Sept 8, 2013 Is Grandparents Day


Last year was the first year my mom got to celebrate Grandparents Day.  We made her wait 37 years before getting to claim this title, so we wanted to recognize it with a little something special.  So I set out to immortalize my new baby’s feet and turn them into seasonal art.

ghost footprint

In case you really need a tutorial for this:

1) Paint baby’s foot white.

2) Clean up all the drips on the floor you made from the baby kicking in an effort to do step 1.

3) Press baby’s foot on black paper.

4) Realize you just have a big smudge and redo steps 1 – 3.

5) Redo steps 1 -3 ten more times, as this is how many times you’ll have to do to actually get a good print.

6) Paint two black dots on the heel print for eyes.

7) Let dry.  Otherwise you’ll end up with another smudge and it is back to steps 1 -3.

8) Once dry, Frame in black frame.  Hot glue a cute bow on it.

9) It still looked a little plain to me, so I painted the word Boo in the corner.

10) Explain to you husband why your baby has white feet and paint in between she toes that you can’t get out.

This year’s Grandparent’s Day snuck up on me.  I just had another kiddo about four months ago, so I need to get going on creating a matched set!



How cute are these letters! I got them at World Market and immediately knew I had to have them in my kitchen.

So what letters does everyone get for their kitchen — E  A T of course. Snag. World Market was out of T’s. So I pulled every letter they had out of the bin and started my own Words With Friends game in the aisle. Ultimately I came up with sip, yuck, nip, dip, yes, can and yum.

YUM it was. Actually I think I am happier with YUM than EAT, just because it isn’t so expected.

Most letters are on the World Market site under Venetian Print Letters.  The ampersand is cute if you wanted to do initials.

IMG_8875 Venetian Print Letters from Cost Plus World Market

The letters are $7.99 on the World Market website, they were on sale for $5.49 when I bought them.  However, I don’t know if it is worth waiting for them to go on sale again in case they run out of a letter you want before it happens.  I found a 10% promo code on Retail Me Not, but couldn’t find any deals on free shipping – so reluctantly had to pay that.  Ebates offers a 4% cash back, so don’t forget to start there when buying.

Kitchen Fabrics


Business idea: Someone needs to start a store that carries cool, contemporary kitchen curtains, rugs and other textiles.  Seriously- type in “kitchen valance” on any retailers’ site and you are greeted with only country options or something that is supposed to represent a Tucsan vibe with grapes all over it.

I did find some interesting options on Etsy, but thought if I’m going to buy a homemade valance, it is going to be made in my home.

After much, much surfing I ended up going with Waverly Sun N Shade Sea Scallop Coral Reef.  I am very pleased with the quality of fabric, it is very thick and I anticipate it holding up well.  The orange wasn’t as bright as I think the picture shows, but a bit more burnt orange.  I ordered it from  It was on sale at the time for $18.68, then I used a 10% coupon code found on Retail Me Not, plus used Ebates which offers 4% cash back from this store.  All this helped bring the cost down significantly from the $21.98 advertised today.

Waverly Sun N Shade Sea Scallop Coral Reef

Waverly Sun N Shade Sea Scallop Coral Reef

First I created the valance.  The design of the fabric was quite large, so it was a little bit of a guess as to how much material to order.  I couldn’t just order the exact amount needed because I wanted to the line the design up so that the fleurs were centered which probably wouldn’t be exactly how the fabric would be cut.  But I didn’t want to order too much extra because the material was a bit pricey, even with my deals.

Here is the final product.  I was a bit nervous about sewing a curve, but it actually turned out.  My elementary art teacher used to say ‘boo boos can be beautiful’.  The scalloped edges didn’t lay as flat as I was anticipated, but I sort of like the poof that was created at the bottom.


Kitchen valance

Then on to the hardest working chairs in the kitchen seating business.  These have had more facelifts than Joan Rivers.  I think this is at least the fourth fabric change on the seats?  But they look like new after each time!


The design was big enough to allow for one big fleur right in the middle of each chair.  Also the fabric is very forgiving if you don’t get it lined up perfectly, which is why I hate working with stripped materials where misalignments can be obvious.


Sprayed a little scotch guard on them and all done!

An Oak Kitchen No More


So I read about 1,432 articles about how to paint your cabinets, I was prepared and ready to do it.  Ultimately my husband said… “Sara, really?  You have a 16 month old and a new born baby, just pay someone.  Is painting cabinets really how you want to spend your maternity leave?”

Ok, he was right.  (Yes, I just put the fact that my husband was right in writing.)

It was worth every penny of the $3000 it cost to have this done.

The painter initially told me it would take one coat of primer and two coats of lacquer.  In the end it took two coats of primer (one coat being oil based) and FIVE coats of lacquer to cover the oak!  Apparently the previous owners had rubbed the doors with a wax to preserve the wood. This wax never really dries and is very hard to paint over or sand down.

I also had them put bead board around the island, crown molding around the top of the cabinets and install hardware.  What a difference.

The grand reveal, drum roll please….


Old oak cabinets

Old oak cabinets


New white cabinets!

The whole room is just so much brighter.  I love them.  And it is so nice to now have hardware on the doors.

I wasn’t sure how the black appliances and brown/granite were going to look with the new color.  However, once done I now love the black appliances, I think it sort of grounds the kitchen.  The granite still wouldn’t be my first choice, but I don’t mind it nearly as much now.

Left to do:

The backsplash still doesn’t work for me.  I’d like to get some white/blue glass tiles.

The two small pendant above the table still annoy me.  I’d like to get a black iron chandelier above the island and just put in two can lights above the table.  It is so annoying to have to always be lining my table up with those lights.  But unfortunately that isn’t a dyi project and will require an electrician to come out.  One day…

And the white floors with the white cabinets is a bit much.  One day they will be a dark hardwood.  But with two young kids tearing up my floors and throwing every meal they have on it, I’m going to wait a bit to convert the floors into something nice.

More pics:

All the doors removed

All the doors removed

Spraying the frames.  Couldn't use the kitchen for three days!

Spraying the frames. Couldn’t use the kitchen for three days!

Close up of the crown

Close up of the crown

Desk Area

Desk Area

Now we have to be very careful with the new paint job.  The lacquer was dry to the touch within in a day, but the painter said it takes a full 30 days to totally cure.  And with how many coats were on my doors, he said it would take 60 days.

So while the DYIer in me is a little sad I wasn’t able to do it myself, the realist in my is so glad that I hired this job out.