High Strung

Last fall, I was strolling through the summer clearance section at our local Target when I stumbled upon the huge collection of string lighting they had clearanced.  We needed some string lights for our new screened-in patio, so I grabbed a few boxes of these, and then I grabbed a couple of boxes of these metal ones that I thought might be fun to hang elsewhere.  Later, I’d get this fun idea to make an unconventional lamp out of them.  And, if you konw me, you know I usually get these ideas in my brain and then execute months later.  This scenario is no different.

Here we are, a year later, in Sebastian’s room.  I started hanging the string lights last year I but never finished and haphazardly threw up a few things I wanted on the wall above his dresser.  Haphazdly because I just hung stuff on the nails that were still in the wall from when the girls inhabited his room and had a collage wall up there.  IMG_8266
I bought that little lamp for another project (I wanted to recreate this ceiling light…plans have changed though) and the first thing Sebastian does when he wakes up in the morning is turn it on.  Fine except it’s really light and wobbles all over the place when two-year old hands get ahold of it…it’s fallen more than once.  Long ramblings short, it was time.  He needed a new lamp and I wanted to spruce up that wall.

To figure out the placement of things I’d be hanging, I simply laid everything out on the floor of his room – moving and shaking until I had a set up that satisfied me.
Then I used my handy dandy picture-hanging tool to transfer everything from the floor to the wall.IMG_8272
And, I finally finished that unconventional lamp.
To make it, I used a shelf bracket (originally, I bought this one but Anthony told me it was too dangerous to use – the end could poke an eye out or stab a forehead.  I disagreed (and there may have been an eyeroll) but I love my husband so…), the string lights (I used two strands), and some screws and picture hangers.  In total, I spent $18 ($3 for the bracket at Dirt Cheap, $7.50 for each light strand, and pennies for the hardware).
Starting over by his window, I hung the end of one of the string lights by putting in a picture hanger and slipping the hook of the hanger through one of the cut-outs on the basket part of the light.
IMG_8276(Don’t worry, I made sure to hang the lights high enough so that certain someones woudn’t mistake the strand for a jungle gym…)

Then I strung the lights across the corner and over to the next wall where I used another picture hanger to hook the light up near the ceiling.  For the actual ‘lamp’ part, I first installed the shelf bracket.  As luck had it, our trusty stud finder found me a wall stud right where I wanted to hang the lamp so I penciled in the edges of it.
IMG_1358Had there not been a stud, I would’ve just had to use some drywall plugs to install the bracket.  The lights aren’t heavy at all but in case somebody went a’pullin’, I didn’t want any a’fallin’.  As it was, I simply installed it using the screws that came with it.  Oh, and I forgot to mention, I spray painted it black prior to all of this.  It seemed more “manly”.  ;)
Eventually I’m thinking I might repaint the string lights – the cord and baskets.  I didn’t have time to do that last week nor do I know what color to go for but the cool thing is that I can.  The decorative baskets over each bulb slip right off so it’d be easy to change their color.  When I first found these lights in the store, I envisioned the metal baskets gold or a gold ombre with a white cord.  That wouldn’t really fit in well in Sebastian’s room but you never know where they’ll end up later in life…
Last, I just grabbed the second set of string lights in one handful and set them on the hook of the shelf support so that they fell however.  I tried to hide the connectors as well as I could within the bunch so that they weren’t too obvious.  To make the whole thing work, the lights are connected to an extension cord that has an on/off switch on the cord itself.  It’s actually the one we use for our Christmas tree so I’ll have to grab another one (like this one) next month, especially since the additional outlets on it are a little too big and obvious.  For now though, it does the trick.
SO, after all that, I should let out a big cyber sigh and tell you that we’re not sure we like it.  I mean, we like it, it looks uber cool BUT it doesn’t give off a lot of light.  It’s more mood lighting than something you could read a book by and, since we read a lot of books in that chair there, I’m not sure if form will override function in this case.  IMG_8285If we decide to switch it out for something brighter, converting the other lamp that was in here prior to this string lamp to something that hangs might be a good option.  I’ll light you know what happens.  ;)

Anyway, I’ll wrap this up with a few more details and sources so you can be on your merry way. 


If you follow us on Instagram, you might’ve seen the story about that USA wall art in the corner over the mirror.  I found it last week at Dirt Cheap for $2 and planned on painting it because it had a big sharpie mark on the front.
Shown in an Insta-story, I started by spray priming it but didn’t go any further because I kinda liked the look of it as-is.  It has a wood texture to it (although I’m fairly certain it’s not wood) and so the thin coat of primer gave it a white-washed look.  Those of you who responded to the story like it too, so white-washed it stayed and over the mirror I hung it.  That mirror is a hand-me-down from years ago and the two (empty-for-now), big picture frames were yard sale finds I spruced up.
IMG_8272black and silver picture frames:  Dirt Cheap (they were in our $20 bargain buggy score)
print in the black frame:  Honeychild Forest
BE NOT AFRAID wall hanging:  Honeychild Forest ($35 with the above print on sale @zelieandco on Instagram)
canvas painting: done by my good friend, Jesse
’S’ initial:  consignment store (gift from my sister that my cousin painted)
white floating shelf:  Dirt Cheap ($3 for a set of four shelves)
The trophies were a super fun diy (Anthony finally let me paint his prized, childhood trophies!!!!) that I’ll spill more about later.  The clock was a wedding gift that we used for years until it quick working (yes, we tried changing the battery) and so I set it to the time of Sebastian’s birth and hung it up in here.

On his dresser are some of Anthony’s things – the Giants’ jersey figurine, another college trophy, a statue of St. Anthony - and a dracaena I potted in a Dollar Store vase.  I set all of Sebastian’s favorite books up there for quick grabbing – Runaway Bunny, The Little Blue Truck books (love these!), The Giving Tree, The Little Engine That Could, and some noisy books.  Also up there is The Dangerous Book for Boys, a mint condition, yard sale find.  It’s one I’ll probably move somewhere safer so it doesn’t get ruined because I can’t wait to read and use it with Seb when he gets older.  I LOVE this book!  It has lots of stories and activities in it; things like “How to So fun!  It reminds of something the little boys living in Downton Abbey world would read.  And, there’s The Daring Book for Girls that I will most definitely be getting the girls for Christmas!

I’ll be back later this week if all runs smoothly over here, to share how I spray painted Anthony’s trophies!  I love how they turned out!  Spray paint is a modern-day miracle worker, isn’t it?  Have you spray painted anything recently?  Nothing is safe in this house!  ;) 

I hope you have a fantastic Tuesday!

*affiliate links included in post*


It’s rare that I can begin a project and see it through to the end in one day but this past Tuesday, I did just that.  I’ve had some thigh-high womens’ socks in my “to sew” pile for a year now and finally got around to refashioning them into…IMG_8244…boot cuffs for the littlebig girls.
(PS, grandma got the girls these boots I was all heart-eyed over and they are just as cute and deserving of that emoji in person.  So, in case you’re in the market for some toddler booties, I highly recommend these!  They’re linked towards the end of the post!)

It took me about ten minutes total to grab the socks,
cut each shaft into two equal lengths (which, by the way, leaves mama with a pair of crew cuts),
and serge the unfinished ends.
IMG_1280Don’t have a serger?  Just sew a zig-zag stitch around the ends.  No sewing machine?  Grab some matching thread and sew a quick whip stitch around the top edge.  Don’t worry about perfection.  Worn, they’re scrunched up anyway so no one will be able to critique your whipping.

When the air down here eventually dips below sweltering during the day (November, here’s looking at you), the girls will actually don them outside for longer than a two-minute photo sesh. 
IMG_8241jeans:  Carter’s clearance last year // similar
sweatshirt tunics:  Carter’s clearance last year // similar or this one would be so cute too
diy // similar
boots:  Carter’s or Kohl’s
hats:  one gifted and one a hand-me-down // similar and similar
tire swing (in case you need a swing option that can hold two tots – we paid $30 for it so watch that price):  Amazon
slightly blurry pic:  juggling the camera with a baby on the hip
*some of the links above are affiliate links
Someone was not about to be left out of picture-taking…
IMG_8246…and one eager mama was not about to decline because, just look at that face.

Eat him up.

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diy toddler boot cuffs

Pressed & Sealed

I saved almost every single petal of every single rose Anthony gave me while we were dating.  My thick college textbooks were the perfect places to press them - I’d pick the petals off dying flowers and carefully stick them in random pages.  I’d leave them there for a few weeks and into a big bowl they’d go with the rest of the pressed petals once dry.  I didn’t really have any intentions or plans to do anything special with them while I did it though.  I just saved them because of the love and thoughtfulness they signified.  Fast forward to those months in the midst of planning our wedding, when I had this great idea to have them made into a rosary for Anthony; my gift to him on our wedding day.  I had heard from a friend of a convent of sisters who would do just this out in California (I think that’s where they were at least) but when I wrote them, I was sad to receive a letter back saying they no longer made rose rosaries.  I looked into some other options but the prices were higher than I could spend while paying for our wedding so the idea wilted and life went on. 

Fast forward again, only this time to present day, and to the ziploc bags filled with those dried petals that I’ve held onto for all these years.  I’ve finally found a place for them, or at least some of them. 

IMG_8206See ‘em?  They’re inside that shadowbox frame on the wall above our desk!  :)  That frame was one of many inside that bargain cart we bought a few years ago at Dirt Cheap.  (Here’s a similar frame*, though not square.)  I’ve had the idea to fill it with the roses for about a year now and, per the usual, my plans always get delayed by life.  But here it was, before I got to work on it last week:IMG_1162The starfish that was inside had come unglued and floated around wherever gravity let it and the backing of the frame had a little dent in it.  In other words, it was bumped and bruised and the perfect piece for a project.

So, after removing it from the packaging, I turned it over and ripped off the brown paper backing.  It was just glued on around the edges.

Next, I took off the white carboard backing.  It was stapled to the frame so I just grabbed a small flathead screw driver to pry up and off those staples.IMG_1164
The hanging hardware kept me from getting the top side off because of the way it was attached, but three sides were enough to open up the frame and get inside.IMG_1165
Once I was in, I took out the mat.  It was held in with a bunch of staples.  I just removed all of the staples along the bottom of the frame and a few from each of the other sides so that the mat slid right out from the bottom.  When I was finished, I’d just have to slide it right back in and wouldn’t need to replace the staples.  I wasn’t diggin’ the off-white color of the mat so my next step was painting it white.  The white spray primer I had on hand did the trick.

I also wanted to ditch the blue background for a crisp white one so, I grabbed some watercolor paper I had (similar*) and used the mat to cut it to the size of the frame.
Completely undocumented because it had to be quick to beat the end of naptime, I got out a little bit of black acrylic paint, a paint brush, and some water and lettered “you & me” onto the paper.  I waffled between a lot of different sayings – the lyrics to our wedding song “When God Made You”, a favorite verse from the book of Tobit, and some other sappy sayings but in the end, settled with simple yet profound. 

Enter the bags of rose petals.  They were going to be carefully laid inside the bottom of the frame, high enough that they’d show above the mat but not encroaching upon the “you & me” that would also be in view.
At first, I didn’t think I’d have enough petals to fill the bottom of the frame enough that the flowers would peek up over the mat.  Thankfully, in this case at least, estimation has never been my strong suit, because I had way too many.  I mean, I probably used about 1/4 of the petals.  I’m really, really, really not good at estimating.  Once I realized I had too many petals, I went through and picked out the brightest red ones to use inside the frame.  The others I saved for another project; another day…maybe I’ll get that rosary made one of these days.  :)
Once I was satisfied with the amount of petals inside the frame, I glued the watercolor paper with the “you & me” lettering to the inside of the cardboard backing (covering up the blue), and then ran a thin strip of Elmer’s glue along the back of the frame to hold the backing on.
Since the back of the frame is against the wall, I didn’t add any brown paper to the back, but left it as-is.  Call it lazy or call it efficient, you decide.

Up it went, the start of a collage that will eventually make its way up this small expanse of wall.IMG_8212 
The evening after I shot these “after” photos, I took off, kid-less, to my favorite local haunt, Dirt Cheap, where I found this gorgeous cantilever floor lamp*.  It was on a bottom shelf, in a box that had never been opened.  I carried it around the store whilst I shopped, unsure if I wanted to spend the $25 it was marked at.  I’ve been using our desk to do finishing work on my pillow covers recently – things like cutting strings and serging edges – and the lack of light has been frustrating me.  But now, my $25 lamp has solved that problemo.  Yep, I got it.  It just makes the space, doesn’t it?     IMG_8221
As far as everything else goes, the chair was a Varage Sale buy ($15) that I plan on reupholsering someday, the desk was a yard sale find ($30), the rug was also a Dirt Cheap buy ($25), the basket was clearanced at JoAnn Fabrics ($7), the plant was a gift and the vase it’s in was thrifted ($1), the curtains were once sheets, the valance is fake and is a diy I’ll share one of these days, and the mirror was a cheap diy project.  The wall color is “Heaven on Earth”, by Benjamin Moore but color matched to Valspar at Lowe’s and the carpet is original to the home and something I’d replace in a heartbeat if we picked the right numbers.

This desk, you can’t see the whole thing, but it’s pretty big.  And, it’s been a big mess until recently.  It was the home for many an item labeled “to-do” and many a paper waiting to be filed.  About a month ago, I unburied the top of it so that we could utilize it and we’ve worked hard to keep it a clutter-free zone.  It’s been a much-needed space away from the kids for me to sew and a space where Anthony can study for his Masters’.  It’s not ideal for us to have an ‘office space’ in our bedroom but it’s the only place we have now that all the other bedrooms are taken by little people.  But, it’s been fun for me to make it “pretty” so that we venture more toward ‘creative space’ and farther from ‘office space’.  I mean, nobody wants to think about work when they’re in their bedroom, right?  So, the prettier and more integrated into the entire design of the room, the better in this case.

Anyone else have their office in an odd space?  Any tips on making it feel like it belongs or so that it doesn’t necessarily look like a work-only space?  I’m sure I could tweak a few things over here so I’m all eyes.  Type away.  :)

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*affiliate links

The View from the Curb

We are pretty good at boosting the curb appeal of our house…but not very good a keeping it in tip-top shape.  A lot of that has to do with time and money and not necessarily with the fact that we don’t care what it looks like.  The plants we planted several years back have been fertilized maybe three times since and there’s an area in one of the landscaping beds that has seen four different perennials get planted and then die every year.  I don’t know if we (ok, I since I did all the plant choosing) picked the wrong plant for the wrong amount of sunlight or soil or what, but we’ve had to replace those three plants way more often than we’d like.  As of this moment, there are three hydrangeas living in those spots.  I bought them on clearance at Lowe’s last year and two of them are actually doing pretty good, albeit small.  The third is hanging on by literally one, tiny leaf.  Sigh.  I guess we’ll see how they come up next spring.
On either side of that bed are the original decorative grasses we planted way back when and those bright flowers, they are f-a-k-e.  Dollar Store, fake, red-orange daises that I thought would play well with our red-orange front door.  I sorta felt like a smartie-pants when I thought of the idea to “plant” fake plants but I didn’t want to share too quickly in case they didn’t stand up against the elements and my plan failed.
However, I’m happy to say that, after weathering this Southern sun, heat, and rain for the past five months, they still look pretty dang good.
Good enough that I’ll probably head to the ‘ole Dollar Store next year to grab different flowers just to switch things up and good enough that I might “plant” more elsewhere because who doesn’t love flowers that are 100% self-sufficient?!  I mean, with all the time we don’t have in the world, it was really nice to at least look like we had some sort of green thumbs at work over here. 

Try it and see for yourself!  We highly recommend it!

One other thing we did to the front this year was install spotlights to light up the house a little more at dusk and after dark.  This has been on our to-do list for years now but we just couldn’t financially pull the trigger on lights when there were so many other things needing to be done.  But, one day last winter I was walking through Home Depot on a mission to grab a ceiling fan for our screened-in patio when I passed the landscape lighting section and, in that section, a couple of boxes of spotlight kits for 50% off.  I called the Headmaster as quick as I could and he gave me the go-ahead to grab one.  I did and he installed them a few months later.  (Anthony used to work for a landscaping company so he is a whiz at installing outdoor lighting but if you’re not sure you can, the Thrift Decor Chick, Sarah, has an awesome tutorial that even had me thinking I could.  The only reason I didn’t is because Anthony wanted to himself.  #controlfreak  ;)  )      

Our kit included four spotlights but we only ended up using three – one at each protruding corner of the front of the house.  It’s crazy what a difference just adding a little mood lighting can make!

Next up, we really need to work on our grass situation.  We’ve got a very unbanlanced mixture of sand/dirt, weeds, and grass that is really begging for help.  Sod is out of the question because of the price so a-seeding we will go next spring. 

But anyway, the moral of this whole story is…if you want to boost curb appeal in a big way with little maintenance, sink some fake flowers into the ground and grab some landscape spotlights!  The season is rolling around where outdoor stuff will be going on clearance so keep those eyes peeled!

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P.S.  In case the clearance section around you isn’t turning anything good up or you just want to know, this kit (affiliate link) off Amazon is just like the one we bought.  :) 

To the Max-is

Oh, me and my ideas.  This one is two parts awesome and one part comical.  Comical because sometimes I start doing something and then I get carried away; ending up much farther downstream than I had in mind when I began.  This is one of those times when the current just kept pulling…

It all started with this dress:
095487789d44b7110032c07ae328ca1cI’ve always loved the colors and pattern but it’s always been just a little bit too tight up top and therefore, passed by during many a round in my closet.

As it happens though, I know two little chickies on whom it wouldn’t be too tight if I just did a little snipping and sewing here and there.

Meet chick 1 and chick 2:
IMG_8166So cute, right? 

Here’s how I did it!  (PS, this won’t just work for twins!  You could take in or shorten each dress differently to fit different-sized sisters!)

You might remember that I made similar dresses out of a shirred top last year.  For those dresses, I cut the shirred part of the top in half vertically and sewed the sides together.  For these dresses, I cut the shirred part in half horizontally, making it shorter.
First, I figured out where the horizontal halfway point of the shirred part of the dress was by counting the elastic strips on the inside and dividing by two.  Then I grabbed my seam ripper and ripped out the elastic strip in the middle and the thread holding it in, all the way around. 
Then I cut the shirred part of the dress in half right where that elastic had been.
Now I had two shirred pieces – one still attached to the rest of the dress and one completely separate.IMG_0917
Each one had an unfinished edge so, to finish that edge, I just folded it over and secured it with a straight stitch.IMG_0922
I did all of that right before naptime while the kids were awake and did the rest during naptime.  Also during that naptime I listened to Young House Love’s podcast while I worked and took two whole pictures of the rest of the process.  Those two pictures are completely inadequate at showing what happens next so I give you my best apology and hope my words will suffice for any of ya who want to copy this refashion.

Next, I cut the bottom, unshirred part of the original maxi in half horizontally.  Then, I grabbed the unshirred part of the dress that was now completely separate and attached it to the lone shirred piece of fabric.  To do this, I turned each piece inside out so that the right sides of the dress were facing eachother, lined up the two edges at which they would be attached, and stitched them together.  To make sure the dress gathered correctly, I pulled the shirred part tight while I sewed the non-shirred, bottom part on.
The bottom half of the original maxi was wider than the middle (or the dress part right below the shirring), so I had to trim off the excess fabric once I had it almost completely attached and then stitch up the side to complete it.IMG_0921
With that excess fabric, I made four strips of fabric just like I made these fabric strips for my gladiator sandals a couple of years ago.  I sewed two on each dress for straps.  Originally I wanted to attach them so that they ran from the front to the back and crossed at the back but, when I did that, I either didn’t measure correctly (aka, I really eye-balled it wrong) or the dresses are just a little too big on the girls right now to have a crossed back.  Either way, they just looked plain awkward.  So I went with Plan B and just attached them at the front to tie behind the neck, halter-style.

Because they’re a little big, they’ll fit the girls for a long time; going from dress to tunic and maybe even to just a top or long skirt.  Until then though, the colors make them perfect for fall right now.  As soon as it sinks below the 80 degree mark down here, I’ve got their scarves and vests ready (click the links for the tutorials on those!). 
IMG_8171Good golly, girls are so fun to dress.  :)  

BUT, I didn’t stop there.

I went a little farther and became “that mom”…

IMG_81777Ohhhh yes, yes I did.  Learning how to make a bow-tie has been on my radar since the boy child was born so, since I had even more extra fabric left after making the girls’ straps, I thought “why not now?”  To make the bow, I used this tutorial by Erika at Life Unfluffed (it’s no-sew and so easy!!) except I sewed mine.  Then I made another fabric strap like the ones on the girls’ dresses to go around Sebastian’s neck, secured with velcro strips that I glued to each end.

Oh but wait, there’s more.  You thought I was done, didn’t you?  Oh heck no!  There’s one more kid to deck over here.  We can’t leave anybody out now, can we?

You better believe that if I’d had enough fabric leftover to make the baby a mini-dress, I would’ve.  Haha!  Instead, I whipped up a second bow and added it to a thin elastic band to adorn her bitty noggin’. 


One dress.  One family affair. 

And a few outtakes.
Note how differently the boy takes pictures vs. the girls.  What a goof.  I’m going to go ahead and say that that’s probably an inherent difference across the board.  ;) 

Sebastian realized his red cap matched his red shorts and I promised him he could wear the two together after I took the ‘serious’ pictures.  And I did.  And I can’t…I just can’t… 

I’ll just leave it at that.

Happy Thursday y’all!

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one dress for four kids