{Tutorial: How to Make a BMO Adventure Time Costume}

BMO_CoverIMG_0254Okay, this adorable little thing is BMO, pronounced “Beemo”.  If you’re not familiar, he’s from the cartoon called Adventure Time.  Ever heard of it?  My son is 8 and decided at the last minute that he didn’t want to be a devil for Halloween anymore because all of the costumes that we looked at online were either too scary or too babyish for him.  So, with the school Halloween dance only 2 days away, we started brain storming.

I have no idea how we came to this decision, but he just had to be BMO.  I don’t even like my son to watch the show because I find it sort of weird in a trippy kind of way.  But he sneaks it sometimes.  Besides, I was not in a position to argue with the kid since I had next to no time to prepare.  And to think that this year I’d be able to get away with a store bought costume.  BUT NOOOOOOOO!

I really didn’t mind though because I was in desperate need of a creative release and this was just the ticket.  Do you ever get like that?  All stuffed up and frustrated with ideas and creativity but no time to release all of that wonderful energy?  It makes me cranky.  So you can imagine how sitting behind a desk all day long can have an impact.  That’s why it is SO important for me to have an outlet.

My son and I headed down to the basement to look around for some supplies.  We lucked out and found the perfect box.  I had to empty all of our air filters out of it, but we NEEDED that box!

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I had leftover white primer and aqua blue spray paint from my summer patio set project:
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I had plenty of craft paint to work with, but to save myself some time I used a 40% off coupon at the craft store to buy a pack of 40 multi-colored sticky back foam sheets.  These things proved to be a God send!  I was able to make several of BMO’s details out of them instead of using paint and there are a ton left over for future projects.  The sticky side is surprisingly sticky!   
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Also, I sorted through my bag full of plastic caps and pulled a few out to use as the cool little knobs and buttons on BMO’s front.  If you’re wondering why I have a bag full of plastic caps…I started collecting them after I saw a gorgeous wall mural made out of nothing but paint and different colored plastic caps at my yoga studio.  One day I’d like to do a smaller scale version of it with my kids. IMG_5073

Okay, so let’s get down to the step-by-step of this project!

{STEP 1} Use a pencil and trace where you want the screen and arm holes to be.  Note that BMO’s arms come out from the middle of the “O” in his name.  Cut out the holes very carefully using a box cutter or exactoknife.

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{STEP 2}  Prime with a coat of white primer to cover the dark lettering and logos on the box.  I knew I didn’t have much blue paint so I didn’t want to risk these dark spots showing through, so I mostly focused on those areas.  IMG_5066

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{STEP 3}  Use a small angled paint brush and black craft paint to outline the screen and arm hole openings.  Allow to dry thoroughly and add a second coat if you think it’s necessary.

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{STEP 4} Use a round sponge brush to stamp circles on each side of BMO where his speaker areas are.  An easy way to configure the dots was to do the center dot first, then one to the left and one to the right of it.  So you have a straight line of three dots.  Then, the bottom two dots and top two dots are placed half way between the dots from the middle row.  Does that make sense?  This way you aren’t trying to free hand a circle of dots.  Allow to dry thoroughly and add a second coat if you think it’s necessary.

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{STEP 5}  Using a hot glue gun, adhere your plastic caps to the front of the box, using an image of BMO as a reference.  He’s got one big round button, a smaller green one, and another black knob under the screen.  I cut the blue triangular button and the yellow cross shaped button out of the sticky back foam.  Again, this stuff is really sticky!  Love it!

 

 

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{STEP 6}  Cut out one long skinny oval and two shorter ovals out of sticky back foam for the “slots” on BMO’s front.  Then cut out 5 more skinny ovals for the vents on BMO’s back.  Cut out 4 small circles, and a bunch of strips to configure the two “hatches” that house BMO’s batteries and other stuff.  In one episode they showed the inside and it contained a bunch of stuff that made reference to The Wizard of Oz.

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{STEP 7} I free handed the letters by drawing on the reverse of the sticky back foam sheets and then cut them out.  However, if you don’t want to be that daring, print out some block letters in a large font, cut them out, and use them as a template to trace around.  Stick those babies on and you’re just about done!

{STEP 8} Use a black sharpie marker to outline all of the knobs and buttons to make them POP!  This step really makes everything stand out and gives it dimension.

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{STEP 9}  I used duct tape to tape a square of very sheer light blue organza fabric to the inside of the box to simulate BMO’s screen.  If you don’t want to do this step, having your adorable face in the screen is just fine!  Keep in mind that if you’re going to be out at night trick-or-treating with a little one in this costume, think about skipping this step.  My son’s school dance was indoors and I didn’t think his safety was too much of a concern, but come Halloween night, I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do.  I might remove the screen altogether or I might cut a hole in the top so his head peeks out of that instead.

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{Step 10}  This is also an optional step, but BMO has quite a personality and many fascinating expressions.  So if you want to add some personality, get creative!  My son saw this mischievous looking mustache face and insisted on it.  The sticky back foam stuck right to the fabric perfectly.  I had to make that darn mustache three times!  The first time, my daughter grabbed it when the sharpie marker outline hadn’t completely dried and smudged the hell out of it.  Then, a couple days later she pulled half of the new one right off of the costume!

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Here is my son, in all his glory, trying it on at home and then at the school dance!  NAILED IT!

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BMO Costume DIY

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

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{From Dingy & Dirty to Fun & Flirty ~ Yellow Dresser Reveal}

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Today, I’ll reveal to you how I turned a very dingy and dirty curbside find into a stunningly fun and flirty storage dresser for my family room!  You can read about my trash picking adventure here, but how I acquired this gem is not nearly as exciting as how I transformed it with just a can of paint and some new hardware.

  1.  Clean & Prep

The dresser sat in my garage for a while until I found the time to clean it thoroughly.  Notice my supplies included my daughter’s video monitor.  Gotta love nap time.  IMG_8600I first removed the drawer pulls and tossed them because I knew I wanted to replace them with something stylish and fun.  Then, I vacuumed the loose dirt out of the tiny grooves with my hand-held vacuum.  Finally, I wiped it down really well using some microfiber cloths dampened with a solution of very warm water mixed with a couple cap-fulls of TSP.  It’s a great product to remove dirt, grime, and stuck on grease or goo that sometimes gets caked onto furniture.  I use TSP any time I want to paint furniture since it removes anything that might prevent paint from adhering to the piece.  Another tip is to always use gloves when handling a chemical. Your skin is like a sponge, so treat it accordingly.  Let the piece dry thoroughly before painting.  I usually wait at least a few hours or the next day.

2.  Paint

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I took advantage of a nice sunny day and painted each of the drawers with 2 to 3 coats of CeCe Caldwell’s Carolina Sun Yellow, purchased online from Glitter Farm.  Chalk paint dries very quickly, so on this warm breezy day, I finished all of the coats in no time at all.  Just look how bright and cheerful this yellow is!  I admit, this color is definitely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but I love that it’s the first thing I see when I walk into my house.  It’s one of my happy colors for sure! IMG_4500

IMG_0185I had to wait for another afternoon to paint the body of the dresser, but I did so in the same exact manner.  Nothin’ to it.  Note that I did not paint the inside of the drawers and I also skipped painting the inside of the dresser.  Eventually, I’d like to add some contact paper with a graphic design or some decoupage paper to the inside of the drawers, but that’s a whole other project and an entirely different post!

3.   New Hardware

After I was done with the paint job, I didn’t want to keep it in the garage anymore.  It was too pretty and I didn’t want it getting dusty again, nor did I want to risk bicycle handles or recycling bins being scraped against it.  So, I brought it inside to finish the next couple of steps.

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I went to the craft & hobby store and picked out some new hardware.  I normally would never have spent $10/pull, but since I dug this baby out of the trash, I felt that I could splurge on exactly what I wanted for the hardware.  That’s the beauty of these kinds of projects!  If you don’t want to shell out that much dough for hardware, the thrift store and flea markets are terrific resources for finding bags of old hardware removed from furniture.  There are so many ways to update old metal hardware.  Pinterest is a great resource for ideas on that topic.

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Unfortunately, when I got the new drawer pulls home, the holes in the drawers
didn’t line up.  So I measured and broke out my trusty cordless drill and made pilot holes exactly where I needed them.  Then, I simply screwed on the little bolts that came with the hardware, stood back, and admired the new look!  yellow painted dresser
4.  Seal

The last step…and I actually should have done this BEFORE I put the hardware on…was to seal my lemony yellow masterpiece with a topcoat of some kind.  I am loving CeCe Caldwell’s clear wax these days.  I’ve sealed and buffed the top and the drawer fronts, but I haven’t gotten around to doing the sides yet.  Most of the projects around my home are usually not 100% complete.  What can I say?  It’ll nag at me long enough and I’ll eventually get around to it.

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5.  Wax the Drawers

This last step was sort of unexpected. You see, after painting the drawer sides, the drawers didn’t slide in and out very smoothly due to friction.  They were hard to pull open and it got pretty annoying really quick.  So, I grabbed a regular white wax candle stick and rubbed it on the sides of the drawers and on the runners inside the dresser.  Perfecto!  This is a trick that you can use for sticky wooden windows too.

 

Now, my husband has somewhere to store his growing Yankee Candle collection!  Yes, he has one.  Don’t ask questions.  I love that he has a feminine side.  I highly doubt any of his friends read my blog, so I think his secret’s safe.  I use the other drawers to store the kids’ sunscreen, sunglasses, and bug spray for easy access when running out of the door, and extra lap blankets for movie nights.

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{DIY Chalkboard Using an Old Frame}

DIY Chalkboard Using an Old Frame at One Cozy NestHello friends and lovers of all things painted. In today’s post, I’ll take you through a step-by-step tutorial for making your very own chalkboard, from scratch, out of an old frame. So grab a cozy seat and relax!

If you recall, a recent trash pickin’ session yielded a great looking old frame. Since the glass or mirror was missing, I immediately knew what I’d do with it. I’m sure a lot of you can relate to things lying around your house with no particular plan, and then all of a sudden it hits you. It could be weeks, months, or even years! Well, I was happy to have an instant vision with this piece. I’ve been seeing so many wonderful chalkboard art projects on Pinterest lately and I’ve been dying to try my hand at one.

This chalkboard piece was all about firsts. For starters, the day I nabbed the frame out of the trash was my son’s first trash picking experience. It was my first time making a chalkboard from scratch. It was my first time using my jig saw AND it was my first time testing out my brand new nail gun, which I ended up not using because the nails I had were too long for this application. Still, I got some practice and some confidence to use it on another project. I have a small bookcase that I want to transform into a dollhouse for my daughter, like this one over at Bliss Images.  Lastly, it was my first time using milk paint.  I’ve used latex and chalk before, but never milk.  So I figured I’d give it a try to see what all the hype is about!  The nice folks over at General Finishes sent me these products to try:

General Finishes Waterbased Milk Paint at One Cozy Nest

{Tutorial:  DIY Chalkboard Using an Old Frame}

The only material that I had to buy off of the supply list was the plywood for the chalkboard. I already had the rest of the materials at home, so essentially, this project cost me less than $4. I realize some of you don’t have a basement full of craft supplies, but these items can be purchased inexpensively at your local craft (use your 50% off coupons!) or hardware store…or borrowed from your father-in-law or neighbor. No need to go buying a whole box of nails when there’s a workshop full of things down the street at your disposal! Take advantage and save $$ where you can.

Supply List:

  • Old frame
  • 2’X2’ ¼” thick hardwood plywood (get the smoothest one you can find)
  • Chalkboard paint (not to be confused with chalk paint)
  • Sponge brushes (you could get away with using one if you clean it out really well between colors)
  • 2” wide paint brush if you prefer over the sponge variety
  • Dark base color paint, light top color paint, and a clear top coat to protect/seal the piece
  • Sandpaper (fine grit and medium grit)
  • Wood glue
  • Finish nails
  • ChalkDIY Chalkboard Using an Old Frame at One Cozy Nest

1. Prep your piece.  Grab an old frame that you love the look of, but aren’t totally in love with what’s inside. It could be a frame that you found on trash day like I did, or a picture that’s been sitting in your garage or attic for years. Get it out and give it a good wiping with a soft cloth and warm soapy water. Don’t get it too wet, just use a damp cloth. Let it dry completely before painting. Sand down any rough edges or paint drips or bird poop or dead crusty dried up worms. True story. Hey, don’t judge. It happens. That’s why they invented rubber gloves…and antibacterial soap.DIY Chalkboard Using an Old Frame at One Cozy Nest

General Finishes Milk Paint in Dark Chocolate

  1. Paint your base coat(s). Stir your paint well (do not shake) and use your sponge brush topaint one light coat of your base color. For this multi-layered paint look, I used a dark base coat that was the color of dark chocolate. Is it weird that my mouth watered a little bit when I opened the can? It’s from the General Finishes line of Waterbased Milk Paint and the color is called….wait for it…..Dark Chocolate. I immediately craved a tall glass of ice cold chocolate milk. General Finishes Dark Chocolate Milk Paint at One Cozy Nest

{Painting Tips}

  • Don’t saturate your brush, just get it wet enough. This prevents lots of messy drips.
  • Brush in the same direction as the grain of the wood. This frame had wood going in two directions.
  • Put the first coat on lightly and go heavier on subsequent coats.
  • Don’t’ forget about the sides! Also, some people l like to paint the backs of their pieces (especially furniture) with one light coat of paint to tie it all together, but since this is definitely going against a wall, I opted not to paint the back. No need to waste paint.
  • Allow each coat to dry according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Place a fan near your painted pieces to speed the drying time up a little.

multi-tasking at One Cozy NestMy middle name is multi-task, so I frequently catch up on laundry or dishes, or help with homework in between coats of paint. Sometimes….er…most of the time, my projects sit unfinished for days or weeks if I can’t find enough solid blocks of time. Let’s face it. I’m a working mom of two so it is RARE that I get solid blocks of time. I don’t put too much pressure on myself. I just get it done when I can.  Here is my Right Hand Girl in action…always willing to help with chores in her own special way.  One day this area will look like one of those Pinterest-worthy laundry room makeovers.  Oh, come on!  A girl can dream, RIGHT?!

  1. Paint your top coat(s). I painted two top coats using General Finished Waterbased Milk Paint in Linen the same way I painted the base coat in the previous step. Don’t worry about totally covering up that lovely dark chocolate color. You’ll be strategically sanding the white away to reveal it in all the right places.

distressed edges at One Cozy NestCarved detail on mirror frame at One Cozy Nest

  1. Age your piece. After you are sure your piece is totally dry, it’s not time to age it to give it that vintage, time-worn look, as seen above . When I do this, I try to imagine how the piece wasused, where people would touch it frequently, rub against it or past it, etc. Obviously the corners and around the edges of the wood should get special attention. You also want to accentuate any special details in your frame. This piece has the cute little cut-out at the top, but you may be working with a frame that has beautiful carved details. You’ll want to sand there to bring out the darker base coat and highlight the beauty of the frame.DIY Chalkboard Using an Old Frame at One Cozy NestDIY Chalkboard Using an Old Frame at One Cozy Nest

Don’t go berserk with the sandpaper here. You don’t want to totally remove your top AND base coat! Just sand until you see the dark peeking through. You can always go back and sand some more after you’ve stepped back and take a good look at it. It’s much more difficult to re-paint it and start over! I first tried to sand with a fine grit but noticed it wasn’t doing the job. With chalk paint, fine grit usually works, but with this milk paint, I needed something more rough.  So, I moved on up to a medium grit and I got a much better result.DIY Chalkboard Using an Old Frame at One Cozy Nest

  1. WALK AWAY. Look at your piece from afar.Assess your first go-round of distressing. Does it look too intentional? Does the paint job look too “new” and even still? Sand some more, being sure you get the edges and details without making it look like you’re trying too hard to make it look old. I have seen too many pieces online where people distress in a pretty obvious pattern. This is a technique that you’ll get better at the more you do it. I’m no expert by any means, but the more practice you have, the more you just know when to stop and walk away from the piece.  Save your top coat for the very last step, after you have inserted the chalkboard.DIY Chalkboard Using an Old Frame at One Cozy Nest
  1. Measure & cut your wood. Measure the opening where the wood will sit…NOT the opening of the front of the frame. Turn your frame over and measure the inside opening on the back. There should be a little ledge that prevents the glass/mirror/chalkboard from falling through to the front.  Measure twice, cut once! Use a jig saw or a circular saw to cut your board down to size.

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{Tool Tip}

When first starting out on DIY projects, your best bet is to borrow tools from family, neighbors, or friends. Eventually, if you find that you absolutely need your own, yard sales are excellent sources. I nabbed a miter box and this jig saw, complete with the original box and instructions for a whopping $3 last year at my local city-wide yard sale. Once I turn professional blogger/DIYer/Home Improvement Show host (wink wink), I’ll go ahead and buy my own heavy duty, top o’ the line tools. For now, though, my father-in-law’s garage and shed are my playground!  I just load my project into my 31 Bag and carry it down the street (my in-laws live 5 houses down).31 Bag for Toting Craft Projects at One Cozy NestIMG_9197

  1. Prep your chalkboard. Wipe it clean of any saw dust. If you need to, fill in any knots or blemishes with wood filler. This board came already filled in. This one knot looks like a cute little bear head, doesn’t it?! wood knot bear or foxThe next time I make a chalkboard, I will likely use a man-made board toavoid this step and to avoid seeing the wood grain in the finished product. No big deal though, just a minor irritation. I’m a perfectionist even when trying to make something look imperfect! I have issues, I know.IMG_9191
  1. Paint your chalkboard. Going with the grain of the wood, paint one light coat of black chalkboard paint. Not chalk paint, actual chalkboard paint made for chalkboards. IMG_9189IMG_9182I bought an inexpensive kind at the craft store, but they sell more high-end brands at your hardware store. I’m sure there are Pinterest tutorials on how to make your own! Let dry. Add more coats as desired. I painted this with three coats. If you want and happen to have it on hand, a primer could be painted on first, then the chalkboard paint.

{Tool Tip}

Always keep a roll of plastic wrap in your workspace.  Wrap up your brushes tightly in between coats so they don’t dry out.  This trick works overnight too!wrap paint brushes up with plastic wrap in between coats at One Cozy Nest

  1. Assemble your chalkboard. Lay a small bead of wood glue around the edges of the inside ledge of the frame. wood glueThis is just an “extra” so the chalkboard doesn’t move or wiggle in the frame when you’re writing on it. Then using small finish nails, secure the board in the frame by nailing them as close to the board as possible. IMG_9228Do not hammer them in all the way.You want the nails to act as stoppers. I placed the frame, face side down on a piece of clean cardboard, then loaded up the back with some heavy stuff from around the garage to make sure the wood glue had good contact with the chalkboard. Makesure no wood glue blobs came out on the other side onto your chalkboard. Placing a small bead will avoid this….so don’t go nuts with that either. I left this overnight.
  1. Paint your topcoat. The next day I used blue painters tape to protect the chalkboard and I painted two coats of General Finishes Waterbased High Performance Top Coat to protect the piece and seal all that vintage-y goodness in. Let dry.
  1. Season your chalkboard. Have you ever seasoned an iron skillet or a wood chopping block? Well, if you don’t season a brand new chalkboard, the first thing you write on it will be “burned” into the paint and will be hard to erase. IMG_9265Chalkboard paint is porous, so you need to fill in all the tiny nooks and crannies with chalk dust. To do this, take a stick of chalk, lay it flat, and cover the entire board in one direction. Then the other direction. I went a step further and colored it in diagonally and scribbled into any spots that looked like it wasn’t accepting the chalk well.  Wipe the chalkboard free of all chalk, using a dry cloth or chalkboard eraser and you’re ready to start expressing your deep thoughts to the world…or telling your husband that you need milk and bread.IMG_9109
  2. This piece already had screws in the back for hanging but I need to add some wire. An alternative hanging method that I love is using removable strips that won’t damage your walls if you decide to move the chalkboard to a different location.DIY_Chalkboard4
  3. Use bakers twine, cotton string, or jute string to tie a fresh piece of chalk to your chalkboard so it’s always on hand. You never know when an inspirational quote like this one will hit you.DIY Chalkboard Using an Old Frame ~ One Cozy Nest ~ Chalkboard Art

 

 As Always, Stay Cozy,

Mandy

xxxooo

{Mommy, This is Crazy}

One night, the family and I were on our way to a good friend’s house for dinner. It happened to be….the eve of trash day. We rounded a corner and my headlights caught the outline of what appeared to be a dresser. IMG_8641My head spun to the right and I pointed it out to my husband at the same time his head was spinning to the left pointing something else out to ME. I promptly turned the car around, nearly Nascar-style, surprising both kids in the back seat. I pulled up to the first pile of trash and stepped out of the car. My 7-year-old nervously called out the window, “Mommy, what are you doing?! I don’t think they want you to do that!” To which I responded, “It’s okay, bud, it’s called trash picking. They don’t want it!” Clearly this was his first time and he probably felt like we were stealing. I quickly surveyed a vanity and noticed it was missing 2 out of 3 drawers. It had nice lines though, and wasn’t completely wrecked, so I popped the trunk and shoved it in, thinking that I could build shelves inside the nooks where the drawers once were. My husband told me to also nab a IMG_9103pretty shabby looking empty frame. Good eye, hubs. Since I had the stroller in the back, the trunk wouldn’t close all the way, which added to my son’s anxiety over the whole situation. He says, “Mommy this is crazy!” I said, “This isn’t crazy, it’s FREE!”

The next pile we pulled up to had the lovely dresser that caught my eye. It wasn’t exactly my personal taste, but it looked like it was in great shape…and it was. Not a knick or scratch, and it was pretty clean to boot. It was a natural-colored pencil rattan piece with 6 drawers and a matching mirror. I pulled out all of the drawers to make sure they were all on track. I’m not experienced with furniture repair yet, so right now I need my pieces to be in pretty decent working order from the start. I’m sure I’ll learn some new tricks along the way though.

Obviously, with the trunk of my 4-door Honda already flapping open, we couldn’t load anything of that size even if we wanted to. But the friend whose house we were headed to owns a pickup truck. I’ll just ask him! Unfortunately, he flat out said no when I asked. Apparently he shares the same opinion of “crazy” with my son. What good is a friend with a truck if he won’t let you use it to pick through his neighbor’s trash? The nerve. So, I gave up on the dresser idea and was content with the vanity and frame. IMG_8590However on the drive home, we passed it again, looking all lonely on the curb. I called my father-in-law as soon as we got home and asked, “Are you busy right now? Wanna go for a drive?” His response sums up exactly why I love him so much. “Sure, where to?” 20 minutes later, we had that baby and its matching mirror in the back of his truck and were headed home to put it in my garage.

Over the next few weeks, walking past it over and over again, it started growing on me. Sure, it wasn’t immediately my personal taste, but then again, I don’t think I have a narrowed-down style. I describe it as vintage eclectic. I fill my home with things that make me happy and colors that I love so naturally, it’s not going to look like I ordered it straight out of a catalog.

So while I decided what color to paint it, I brought it into the house and put it in its spot to see how it felt. I like it even more now. I think I’m going to go with a nice bright yellow to compliment some of my existing family room accessories and to tie the room together with the adjacent office/playroom.IMG_4249

It’s the perfect height to rest a cup of coffee while lounging on the recliner. It’s also a nice home to my vintage aqua blue radio.  I’ll decorate it more thoughtfully with my eclectic little happy things once it’s all complete.  I’ll have to decide whether to paint the existing mirror to match or to swap it out for the one I picked out of the trash. However, putting the two together might look too matchy-matchy for my liking. For now, it looks great where it is. I have big plans for those drawers too. IMG_8601With little kiddos in the house and small closets, drawers are this mom’s best friend. One of them will definitely be housing my husband’s growing collection of Yankee Candles…his guilty pleasure. You’d never think a 6’3” man who drives a snow plow in the Winter would have such a soft side. He’s my big softy.

Stay tuned for the reveal of the dresser! That will get it’s own step-by-step post filled with lots of photos. By subscribing to my blog and connecting with me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter, you won’t miss a thing!

What “crazy” things have you done in the name of creativity? What have you done that made your kids have mini panic attacks or cover their faces in shame? Visions of two legs sticking up out of a dumpster come to mind…leave a comment below, I’d love to hear about your experiences!

As Always, Stay Cozy!

Mandy

xxxooo

{Zippered Doodle Pouch Tutorial}

This tutorial is in the works, and will be updated shortly.  My sister is an artist and I am a seamstress.  I always feel funny about calling myself a seamstress because it’s not actually my profession, just a hobby, really.  But my sister most definitely is an artist.  A very good one, I’d like to add.  For this tutorial, we decided that we are going to collaborate.  My sister will be using permanent fabric pens to doodle on the pattern pieces before I sew the zippered pouches up.  fabric markersThe artwork is optional, though.  Instead, just cut the pattern pieces out of regular fabric instead of the white fabric that we used.  If you can use a pair of scissors and sew a straight line, this is the project for you!

{Back in Busy-ness}

 It’s been a while since I’ve been able to do anything crafty.  But my upcoming wedding has the wheels turning a bit.  

Here, I turned some ho-hum Ball jars that I bought at a yard sale early this summer into a rustic, vintage style vase to hold flowers for my wedding.  I already had lots of lace scraps, so all I needed was a hot glue gun, a roll of burlap from the craft store, and some vintage (or store-bought) keys.

I’ve also been collecting nature-themed books, especially anything about birds, and any that are aqua blue or orange, my colors of choice!

I also decorated my front porch with pumpkins, mums, and a hay bail.  I gave my two urn planters a makeover because they were looking a little too shabby.  So, I took a can of Rustoleum oil rubbed bronze spray paint, and went to town.

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Here’s a side by side.  What a difference two coats of spray paint can do!  While I spray painted, I tied up the flowers with a bungee cord because I’m not ready to part with these lovely pink and purple blooms just yet.  HOWEVER, their days are numbered…I plan on putting these white pumpkin topiaries in them.

Here is how I made them:

I bought foam pumpkins at the craft store when they were 50% off.  Two of each size in large, medium, and small sizes.

Then I used a hacksaw to saw the stems off of all but the smallest pumpkins…..they go on top, so they need to keep their stem.

Then I used a utility knife to cut holes in the top and bottom of the medium and large pumpkins, but only the bottom of the baby pumpkin.
I then fed a 3/4″ wood dowel into all of them, feeding them onto the pole like giant marshmallows!!  Yummy!  I had to trim the dowel to fit inside my urn planters.  Last step is to put them in the urns and add some foliage and lights.
Photos of the final project coming soon!
As Always, Stay Cozy!
Mandy

{Curbside Rescue ~ Oak Parlor Table}

Hi there!  I am proud to say that I am finished with my very first chalk paint project.  I started with a solid oak parlor table with cast metal ball & claw feet that my sister rescued from someone’s trash pile in her neighborhood.


I purchased CeCe Caldwell clay and chalk paints from Foxy Finds at the Bucks County Antique Gallery in Chalfont, PA as well as online at Glitterfarm.com.  Not only is this paint earth friendly, it has no odor.  No harmful VOCs that are bad for your health, safe for pets and kids.  Perfect for this tree-huggin’ mama.

It got two coats of Santa Fe Turquoise and then I distressed it lightly using a damp cloth.  That’s the beauty of this paint…so little effort is needed to distress your pieces in just the right areas.  You can also use a fine grit sand paper, but a cloth works just as nice.

Next, I cleaned up the glass ball feet and the cast metal claws got a good scrubbing with a microfiber cloth soaked in warm water and TSP.  After they dried, I used some antique gold Rub ‘n Buff on the metal and they came out so gorgeous!

I wanted to tone down the brightness of the turquoise color of the table.  It’s my favorite color, but it was almost too vibrant for this piece.  So, I figured a glaze was a good option.  I mixed up a few batches of tinted glaze using a smidgeon of some of the colors I bought from Glitter Farm, dropped into cups of clear glaze.  I then tested each of them on a long wooden stake that I painted turquoise, just to see which effect I liked the most.  The winner was Virginia Chestnut.  Just a touch of paint gets added to the glaze if you want a subtle glaze…more gets added if you want to be more dramatic.  I really liked experimenting with these.  That’s the scientist in me, I guess!  The light colored stain was perfect to tone down the turquoise, but allow enough to show through.  
Here you can see the glaze on top of the turquoise color.  It gave a really nice aged look to it.  
The final stages happened on my kitchen table one night after the kids went to bed.  Jeff was in the office/playroom next door listening to some awful political talk show and I just wanted to shoot myself.  I love the man to pieces, but his taste in entertainment sometimes makes me cringe.  Next time I decide to do a project within earshot of said political talk show, my iPod is comin’ out.  Jeff and I are complete opposites on a couple of very important issues (politics & religion), but somehow we make it work.  Definitely makes for some interesting discussions, most of which I try to avoid altogether.  🙂    

Just a side note…..see those chairs and table in the photo above?  My next project is painting those in CeCe Caldwell’s Vintage White and recovering the seat pads with red & white gingham oil cloth that is totally and completely wipeable!  Who’s idea was it to cover kitchen chairs in fabric???  I scored the whole set, solid wood with a durable formica top, 6 padded ladder back chairs, and two leaves.  All for $150.  Not too bad, huh?  The set will replace our old counter-height set seen here:

See that light fixture with the one light bulb blown out?  It’s going as well.  I ordered a vintage looking porcelain enamel pendant light from Barn Light Electric in jade green to go over the table as well as one for over our sink.  I cannot wait until I have the time to install those babies!

Okay, back to my table project.  The final steps were coating the table top and lower shelf in four coats of Endurance finish to protect the surface from scratches, etc.  It’s extremely durable.  The legs got 2 coats of Satin finish.  There you have it, my friends!  My first furniture painting experience.  I think it was quite the success, don’t you?  It will be available for sale at Home Fine Art at the Mill Race Village in Historic Mt. Holly, NJ where my lovely talented sister is a member and also sells her artwork.  Take a trip and check it out.  There are lots of other shops there too.  

{Celebrating with Cupcakes & Fondant}

Baby Agnes turned one in May.  Um, what?  Yes, I said it.  She’s one already.  We spent the whole year in shock that we had a girl and now we’ve moved onto the phase where we’re shocked that she’s one already.  There’s nothing like a growing child to show you just how quickly the time passes.  They are like living, breathing scrapbooks or time capsules.  You look at them today and your memory plays a movie in your head of the days that have passed.  Jeff and I spent the whole weekend singing “Happy Birthday” to her over and over.  Poor child.  We also kept saying things like, “Remember when she used to fit in our arms like this?” and “Remember when she just laid there on her playmat, not able to really do anything?”  Now she’s cruising the furniture like nobody’s business, climbing up on the couch using anything close by as a step stool (including dad’s face), and taking just one single step unassisted before hesitating and sitting back down.

Jeff and I took off from work on her actual birthday to spend the day with her.  Since the weather was crappy, we didn’t do much of anything besides get things ready for the next day’s party.  Luckily, the forecast for party day was perfectly cool & sunny.  I love the month of May.  We all enjoyed having birthday tea on the playroom floor using the new tea set we bought her, even Grandpa.
She likes to share and tries to very forcefully jam the spoon into your mouth.  Then she chucks the cups and saucers over her shoulder in a very Mad-Hatter way.  I originally wanted to do a rainbow theme or a Mad Hatter Tea Party them, so I almost bought her this top-hat by LilBirdsCouture on Etsy to wear for the big day.  
{$24} Pink Lemonade Vintage Inspired Birthday – Mini Top Hat Headband (or fascinator)
But, Jeff practically insisted on a May Flowers theme, and I agreed it was easier and more fitting for the time of the year.  I’ll re-explore the Mad Hatter theme for when she’s older and has real girlfriends to invite for tea.  
That night, Jeff made dinner and we celebrated with the Grandparents and some cupcakes.  I spent the rest of the night decorating more cupcakes with homemade chocolate icing that I made with Ghirardelli cocoa powder and a mini cake that I covered in fondant.  Screw making my own cake batter.   When people rave over them, I always tell them the batter is from the box.  I’m not one to take credit for something I didn’t do.  Mr. Hines and Mrs. Crocker are my friends and they do quite a fine job in this busy mother’s opinion.  Can I, and have I made my own?  Yes.  Maybe one day the negative stigma over boxed cake mixes will be a thing of the past.  What’s your take on it? 
Oh, and while at the store, I also picked up a box of this blue velvet cake mix just for the heck of it and mostly because it’s my favorite color. I don’t care when or how I use it, but I can’t wait.  Maybe some tri-colored cupcakes for the 4th of July or something like that.   
The little flowers on the chocolate cupcakes are made out of royal icing, which dries rock hard.  It’s the cement for bakers.  I made a big batch of these flowers a long time ago after my mom sent me a birthday package full of Wilton cake decorating supplies.  She used to be a cake decorator at a local arts & crafts store called Lee Wards.  Michaels bought them out.  I remember going in there as a kid and seeing her decorated cakes hanging up on the wall.  I was like, “How do heck do they stay up there?”  I didn’t realize they were fake.  Anyway, royal icing decorations keep in an airtight container FOR.EVER.  This is the third time I’ve used them and I still have a bunch left.  I recommend making a ton if you have the time, so you’ll always have a stash to make your cupcakes pop. 

People call me crazy when I do creative stuff like this, but this is my therapy.  This is my yoga.  This is my xanax.  This birthday cake for my daughter’s 1st was the first time I experimented with covering a cake with fondant.  The design was inspired by the Cake Boss and thanks to his TV show, I felt like a real pro.  “I’m not a professional cake decorator, but I learned how to be one while watching TV.”  I had a little extra help with this Cake Boss kit that I bought at Michaels.  I didn’t buy the pre-made fondant like the book suggests because I made my own a while ago (fondant keeps for a long time too), and used it to make the ears, eyes, eyebrows, and nose of a fox cake that I made for my sister’s birthday.  
I had a huge chunk of it leftover, so I brought it out and added my own Wilton gel colors to it to match the colors in my daughter’s birthday decorations.  
This stuff is like play-doh for adults.  So. Much. Fun!  It probably helped that I had a few drinks while making the cake.  I’m not a drinker so a little goes a long way with me.  As you’re rolling it out, you’re supposed to periodically lift the fondant sheet up and dust your table with more powdered sugar.  Well, I didn’t.  I blame it on the alcohol.  

It ended up sticking to the mat in a very big way so I had to scrape it off with a bench scraper and start over.  Oh well, lesson learned.  You’d think all the cookie dough I’ve rolled out would have taught me that lesson, but no.  I like to learn things the hard way.  Over and over.  Ironically, I also blame my calmness about the above on the alcohol.  I should drink more often.  I really should.    

I displayed the cake on a boring clear glass cake stand.  I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect vintage cake stand like this one sold by SwirlingOrange11 on Etsy:

{$295} Turquoise Blue Milk Glass Cake Stand, Opaque Blue Milk Glass Wedding Cake or Cupcake Pedestal

So far, I haven’t been able to find one at the price I’d like to pay.  When I finally find the one, though, I may just have to bite the bullet and pay a little extra. 
The cupcake stand is also a Wilton product.  I used a 50% off coupon at JoAnn Fabric so it cost me about $10.  It collapses so it stores nice and compact on a shelf in my basement.  The nice thing about it is that the tier surfaces are slanted outwards so the tops of your cupcakes are displayed, not the sides so much.  You can also attach ribbon, lace, or any other decorative trim to the sides to add another element of design to your cupcake display.  I haven’t done this, but if I ever do, I’ll probably use sticky scrapbooking tabs or something to hold the trim on instead of hot glueing it.        
For the party decor, I went to Party City and bought the standard party stuff.  Cups, plates, napkins, tissue paper hanging thingies, paper lanterns, and helium balloons.  I wanted to add a little personalized touch, so I printed out one picture from each month of Agnes’s life and hung them in chronological order.  I used a strand of pink & white baker’s twine and mini wooden clothes pins to hold each photo.  It was so hard to pick my favorite one, but the experience of going through all of those photos was a nice way to reminisce about the year. 
I saved the triangles of scrapbook paper that I cut out for her baptism decorations, seen above, and hung them in between each photo.  The big tissue paper pom poms can be made yourself, like I did here for Agnes’s baptism.  I used all the tissue paper that I got in baby shower gifts.  The pom poms for her birthday were store-bought because I was feeling lazy and wanted to focus my energy and time on her cake.  Call me cheap, call me frugal, call me a hoarder, but I save all of it.  I flatten it out as best I can and store it in my basement with the hundred and one gift bags I’ve received over the years for baby showers and birthdays.  You have to understand too, that I’m an environmentalist by profession.  I do care about not wasting resources, so when I can, I try to recycle things, especially paper.  When I need to use the tissue paper, I’ll iron it on a low setting if I need to and if I have the time.  Otherwise, it gets shoved into a gift bag, crinkles and all.   
Well, the party was a success, and everyone enjoyed the cupcakes and mini cake, especially Agnes.  I was able to really enjoy myself and the weather, thanks to everyone who helped that day.  Jeff manned the grill, and Grandma made the sides.  Everyone pitched in and helped clean up too, which is always so helpful.  Happy Birthday to our sweet, happy-go-lucky, baby girl who has put smiles on all of our faces since the day she was born.

{How To Hang Something from Your Ceiling}

In today’s post, I’ll show you how to hang a mid-weight item from your plaster ceiling (with tips for drywall too), using a cordless drill and a swag hook kit from the hardware store. As an added bonus, I’ll share a tip with you that will make clean-up of falling debris a cinch!  In this example, I hung a chandelier that I had re-wired and then I re-vamped it by spray painting it pink for my daughter’s bedroom.  

{Know Your Opponent}

Before you begin any hanging project, it’s important to know the weight of the item to be hung, the type of ceiling material you’re working with, and make sure you are using the correct hardware for the job.  My home was built in the early 50’s and has plaster walls and ceilings, which was an unpleasant surprise to this 2nd-time homeowner. So, the type of anchors, screws, nails, etc. that worked in my previous dry-walled home do not work for my new home’s plaster.

Here’s an example for you…an old landlord thought it was a good idea to hang a ceiling fan from one of these swag hooks.  These hooks are not meant for something that heavy.  We left the fan on low while we were away for a long Summer weekend just to keep the air circulating a little.  Well, I’ll just say the words “Massive CD collection” and “wrecking ball” and you can paint your own mental picture.  No bueno.

The chandelier will hang above a bed, so it’s important that it won’t come crashing down on someone in the middle of the night.  The package usually describes the weight capacity for the hardware.  Follow it to avoid the aforementioned scenario.

{Gather Your Supplies}

•protective eye gear
•cordless drill
•drill bits (one tiny and one large)
•paper dixie cup
•swag hook kit
•pencil
•tape measure

For safety’s sake, wear protective eye gear and use your tools carefully.  You’ll be looking up and foreign debris can very easily get into your eyes. 




For this project I gathered the chandelier, a tape measure, a pencil, my cordless drill, a couple of drill bits, a paper dixie cup, and my swag hook kit.  Also shown is the plug portion of the cord kit used to convert my chandelier from hard-wire to plug-in.  That tutorial is in the works.

Arrange your tools and materials in one spot close to your work zone.  This is going to save you lots of climbing up and down ladders, or in my case, a bed.  

{Pick Your Spot Wisely}

Determine the ideal location for your item, keeping in mind any 6-foot-3 inhabitants of your home.  Also, be aware of things like windows and doorways.  You don’t want to take all this time carefully hanging your decoration, only to bash it with a door or for a breeze through an open window to cause a problem.  I wanted the chandelier to hang in the center of the alcove, over the bed.  So, I measured a center point of just the alcove area, not the whole room, using a tape measure and marked a tiny dot on the ceiling with my pencil.  

{Ingenious Trick for Easy Clean-Up} 

Next, put your small drill bit on your drill.  Use it to poke a hole in the bottom of the dixie cup and feed the cup down onto the drill bit so that the bottom of the cup rests against the drill.  Tear away about half of the cup so the drill bit is longer than the cup.  The cup will stay on the drill as you drill into the ceiling, catching most, if not all, of the debris that will come out of the hole.  This makes for a no-mess project!  That’s a huge plus…unless you’re like me who is prone to making things harder on yourself by making stupid mistakes.  

After being so impressed with my dixie cup trick, I set my drill down on the bed against the chandelier, being careful that the cup stayed upright.  Well, it fell over and out came all of the dust and debris all over my daughter’s vintage quilt.  My sister and I call that “pulling a Nuskey”…our maiden name.  We call each other at random to share lots of these little moments, usually starting the conversation with, “I just pulled a Nuskey…”.

{Do Some Exploratory Drilling}

Using a tiny drill bit, drill up into the ceiling at the spot you marked with your pencil.  If you are not met with much resistance and the drill bit goes all the way through easily, you did not hit a wood joist (one of the wood beams that runs vertically across you house).  No worries, though.  Read on to see what to do next.  

{Did You Find a Joist?}

If you did meet resistance and you notice that some of your debris is saw dust, you hit a wooden joist and the job just became a little bit easier.  If you hit a joist, you simply screw the swag hook onto the blunt end of the wood screw included in the kit and then screw the pointy end up into the ceiling and joist until the hook is flush with the ceiling.  That’s it!  You’re done!  

{Visualize a Toggle Bolt as Being Kind of Like Childbirth}

Now, if you did not hit a joist, change out your drill bit to the larger one and put your dixie dust catcher back on.  Assemble the toggle bolt like this:


The little wings have a spring in them that allows them to spring outwards like this, but up inside your ceiling.  Picture having a baby…in your womb baby is able to stretch out just a little….but once it’s time to come out he has to bend completely in half to fit through the birth canal.  Once he’s on the other side, though, he can stretch out again.  Nice visual, huh?  No?  Sorry.  I had two C-sections so I apologize if I brought back any painful memories for you.  


To accomplish this childbirth like task, you have to drill a hole large enough to fit the assembled toggle bolt, toggle and all, up into the ceiling. It probably will be the size of a dime in diameter.  The base of the swag hook will cover this huge hole, so don’t worry.  If your drill bit is not that large in diameter, just keep the drill going while making a circular motion inside the drill to shave off the sides of the hole a little at a time.  Your glad you have your dixie dust catcher now, aren’t you?  

You’ll thank me when you realize you don’t have to take a shower just to get dust out of your hair.  It may be trial and error, so stop and check every few seconds to see if the hole is large enough.  If not, keep going.  

Once the hole is wide enough, pinch the wings down against the screw and push the whole thing up inside.  Be sure that the hook is on the end because you want to push the screw upwards as far as you can to ensure the wings spring back out, yet you don’t want to lose your screw up there too.  


Lastly, as you screw the hook clockwise to tighten, pull downwards gently at the same time.  The wings will grip the inside of the ceiling and the screw will appear to be getting shorter and shorter, with the hook getting closer and closer towards the ceiling.    

source:  wikihow.com


Once you have tightened the hook and it is flush against the ceiling, you’re done!  Now you can hang your project and be proud that you did it all by yourself.    


As Always, Stay Cozy!
Mandy

{Weekend Revamp ~ Spray Painting a Brass Chandelier}

In today’s post, you’ll learn how to use spray paint to turn a boring, ugly brass chandelier into a lovely, more updated piece you’ll be proud of.  You’ll also learn how I converted a hard-wired lighting fixture into a plug-in fixture.  Finally, I’ll provide a link that will show you how to hang a chandelier, or any light- to mid-weight item, from a plaster ceiling with tips for hanging it from dry wall too.

{Train Your Eye to See the Potential in Junk}

When flea marketing or antiquing, have a mental list of things you’re looking for.  Try not to make it too specific, though.  If you need a red side table, don’t look for a red side table.  Instead, look for a table you love because of its shape and lines.  You can always paint it red yourself!  
I picked up this ugly contractor-grade brass chandelier while antiquing at Antiques & Art Emporium in Burlington, NJ with a good friend.

It certainly was no antique, that I knew for sure, but it was a steal at $15.  My daughter’s room needed another light source and this would be perfect. However, it was a hard-wire type fixture and there is no receptacle in the ceiling of my daughter’s room.  My early 1950’s home was built with electrical outlets above each window with these awful flourescent lights plugged into them.  The outlets are attached to very convenient lightswitches, right by the doorways, but they made the house look like a creepy funeral parlor. I still haven’t taken down the one in our master bedroom and every time Jeff flips the switch by accident (or on purpose), I yell at him until he turns it off.  I can’t bear it.  Anyway, I planned on converting the chandelier into a plug-in fixture and the over-the-window outlet is at the perfect height and location.

{Make Friends Wherever You Go}

So, the following Sunday, I took the fixture with me to a barn sale on Meadowbrook Road in nearby Robbinsville (google maps address is 245 Meadowbrook Road — look for a small sign by the road, the barn is set back).  Paul opens his barn to the public on Sundays only.  He gets his stock from auctions, estate sales, and house clean-outs so it’s a great place to pick and the stock is forever changing.  Chances are, when you go to Paul’s barn sale, you’ll run into some of his very friendly and helpful buddies.  One of them is Brian Carroll, a lighting professional who has a showroom with his wife at Tomato Factory Antiques in Hopewell, NJ.  He rewired the main part of the chandelier for me, leaving the arms wired the way they were since they looked as though they had never been used.  He left me extra cord so that I could make it as long as I wanted.  All I had to do was attach the plug on the end, which was surprisingly simple.  I’ll post a how-to later.

The chandelier then sat around for another month or two.  After a relaxing weekend away with my sister, I was inspired to take on some projects that have been nagging me to get done.  So, without further adieu…here is how I turned a boring contractor-grade brass chandelier into a gorgeous pale pink lighting fixture for my baby girl’s bedroom. 

{Gather Your Materials}

•sandpaper
•TSP cleaner
•rag & small container of water
•rubber gloves
•dropcloth or large cardboard box
•metal spray primer
•colored spray paint of your choice
•plastic bag

{Get Busy!}

Here are the products that I used to clean and paint the chandelier.

First, I removed the plastic tubes and metal cups from each arm.

Next, I used sand paper to rough up the surface of the chandelier and little cups so the primer and paint would have  something to stick to.
Then I put on my chemical-resistant gloves and wiped away the sanding dust, using a rag and a mixture of water and TSP.  
I protected the cord with a plastic bag.  Then, using a large cardboard box as a drop cloth, I primed everything with the metal primer. 
Two coats of primer covered up all of that ugly brass quite well, didn’t it?

The next day, I hung it from my clothesline to get access to all of the nooks and crannies, which worked well.  I sprayed two coats of pale pink.  Let me tell you…spray painting is NOT good on a windy day.  I guess it was good that I didn’t breathe the fumes in, but I think I wasted a good portion!
The cups got a coat of pink too.

{Finishing Touches}

The finishing touches were a cord cover and a ceiling medallion.  The cord cover was super easy to make.  If you can thread a sewing machine and sew a straight line, you’ll be just fine.  It’s just an extra long tube of fabric that I slid onto the plug end (make sure you make the tube wide enough to accomodate the plug).  
Use a cloth tape measure to measure the circumference around the plug.  Add a 1/4″ to that for some wiggle room, plus another 1″ for your seam allowance, which I usually like at 1/2″.
Circumference of plug + 1/4″ + 1″ = width of your fabric strip

Here, you can see the fabric is folded lengthways (hot-dog-style) with the right (printed) sides together, using a 1/2″ seam allowance.

My fabric measured 4″ wide by three times the length of the cord.  You’ll need that extra length to get that uniform ruffled look.   
I then fed the plug all the way through, making sure to scrunch the fabric as I went.
I slit a 1/2″ hole in the seam at the spot where I wanted one single chain link to poke through for hanging it on the swag hook.    
The ceiling medallion is from the big box hardware store.  I fastened it to the ceiling using command strips.  It’s very lightweight and paintable (I just left mine white).

Finally, it was time to hang this baby up and make the room a little brighter!

I had a little helper of course, which made it a whole lot more interesting, and fun, might I add.  I hope that one day she’ll be happy that I taught her how to do stuff like this.

Check out my tutorial on how to hang stuff from a plaster ceiling.  
As Always, Stay Cozy!
Mandy