Category Archives: DIY

Trash to Treasure Mirror

Pop quiz!

Do you remember the trash I pulled out of our neighbor’s dumpster? Then I fast walked raced home with it like “there’s nothing to see here, nothing to see.”

It still makes me feel weird.

But I loved it! Still do!

I turned that junky object into a 4th of July wreath, which I thought turned out pretty cool.

I also laugh at my own jokes, so take all of that self assessment with a grain of salt!

I mentioned this junky treasure might not stay a wreath.

As the decorating fates would have it, I came up with a more practical use for it and I’m nothing if not practical.

Which brings me to our downstairs bathroom. It is a GEM. An absolute gem…from several decades ago.

I’m beyond grateful to even have this space, but the mirror and all of the other fixtures are quite dated. I should probably take pictures for you, but I haven’t figured out how to contort my body in such a way as to get a clear picture of the tiny space.

Maybe if I took up yoga…


Anyway, I’ve been casually looking for a new mirror I could hang in the bathroom. Something I can take with me when I move. Nothing has really struck my fancy yet.

I have to tell you, online shopping aside, it is amazing what you do not purchase when you have to run it through the filter of ‘do I want to carry this home in my backpack?’ Maybe that’s the real reason Handy Husband likes Ireland so much…no Hobby Lobby, no HomeGoods, etc.

I had an inkling the really dated mirror in our bathroom just might fit inside my junky circle thing though.

And lo and behold, it DID! Spatial reasoning for the win!

This was clearly a match made in dumpster heaven!

Now, I know you’re wondering what I have against plastic peach mirrors?

If it was a Millennium Pink mirror, I might embrace its trendiness, but alas, it was more 1980s pastel peach and that hasn’t made a comeback. Yet.

So my creepy-looking hand (this picture makes it look weird) and I got to work covering over the peach part of the mirror.

Rope and hot glue. Two things I always have on hand.

Hmm. That sounded creepy.

Must be the hand talking.

Before my kids could give up on hollering “mom, Mom, MOOOOMMM!” from the other room and decide to come find me, I had finished giving the mirror its makeover.

So basically, it felt like forever, but it only took a couple of minutes.

You’ll notice I took these pictures before hanging the mirror up in the bathroom. I didn’t even stop to get out the good camera.

This was for three reasons.

  1. I get excited about these things.
  2. Still have not taken up yoga.
  3. The brick background is pretty.

Oops…there is a 4th reason.

I actually needed Handy Husband’s big muscles help to hang the darn thing because the screw the mirror was originally hung on was stuck in the wall. Could not get that sucker out. And he was off doing something responsible…his job.

This mirror is going in a bathroom the kids don’t use, so I’m not worried about toothpaste and other gunk getting on it.

And if it does, big whoop. I’m fairly certain by then I might have come up with another use for my junky treasure the materials in this free makeover can handle it.

If all else fails, I should be able to easily restore this mirror to all of its 1980s peach glory.

So, basically, this entire post can be summed up as, I’m having fun over here with my trash to treasure projects!

This house has been a hard nut to crack from a decorating and settling-in perspective, so I’m happy when I feel even the smallest amount of progress has been made.

If you’ve done a trash to treasure makeover, I’d love to see it!

The Gift of Handmade

I recently said to Handy Husband, “Why did you have to go and make such cool beds for the kids? WHY??”

Despite the fact that it was MY idea (and I probably begged) for him to make the beds.

“It would be a lot simpler to move or change up the look of our house if I wasn’t sentimentally attached to these huge things!”


Just kidding about that last part.

I love him, but I don’t want him to get a big head.

I also have some other things I want him to make, so I kind of do need him to keep being awesome.

Then I’ll probably become sentimentally attached to those things and this cycle will repeat itself.

At least I’m aware of my problems.

The person who doesn’t have any problems is The Junk Whisperer. (Yes, I’m kissing up – do you think she’ll notice?) As I may have mentioned one or thirty-seven times, we have invaded her house been visiting The Junk Whisperer for a longer time than is polite this summer.

One morning, I was looking for something productive for my wild animals kids to do when I spied a checkerboard I hadn’t seen before. It looked crafty and homemade.

Turns out, The Junk Whisperer’s dad made it for her when she was a kid. Her mom stained the board and painted the checkerboard squares. Her parents weren’t particularly crafty or into DIY gifts, so this checkerboard really stands out as something unique.

Cue the collective, “AWWW!” I love stories like that one.

Her dad has since passed away and she told me she’d never get rid of that checkerboard because her dad made it. I wouldn’t either – it’s too special.

Here’s the point of me sharing these stories today – especially the irrational conversations I have with Handy Husband.

If you have the opportunity or desire to make something for a loved one, DO IT.

It doesn’t have to be big and extravagant (like a bed) and the kids probably won’t even appreciate it now. BUT! And I speak from experience, decades from now, long after you are gone, the gesture will bring a bit of happiness and a fond memory to your child’s face.

That, in and of itself, makes the effort worth it.

P.S. If you’d like to read more about the beds Handy Husband made, here are some links to past posts.

Pottery Barn Trundle Bed Knock Off

Pottery Barn Farmhouse Style Bed Knock Off

Pottery Barn Farmhouse Style Bed – ONE YEAR LATER 


House Number Sign From Wooden Spool

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve shared a Junk Whisperer project.

I missed them! I missed The Junk Whisperer more though.

And yes, that is shameless flattery. I’ve invaded her home and I need all the brownie points I can get.

Me + Children = Lots of noise, mess and groceries.

Now, back to the point of this post: a good “why didn’t I think of that” project.

When The Junk Whisperer shares her projects with me I usually have nothing more clever to say than, “that is SUCH a good idea!” over and over and OVER. It’s mildly embarrassing.

This project started with an old wooden spool, similar to this one.


I have seen countless projects where folks turned these wooden spools into tables or bookshelves.

I have not seen anyone do what The Junk Whisperer did.

She started out by dismantling a wooden spool. The best projects always start with a little demolition.

If you take apart one of those wooden spools, you will likely find a cool circular piece hidden inside. That’s what the rest of the wood pieces that make up the spool are attached to.

Who knew?!?! Clearly, not me.

The Junk Whisperer turned that center bit of goodness into a one-of-a-kind house number sign.

Can you believe it? Such a good idea, right?!?

This could definitely be a renter-friendly project as well since the sign is removable.

In terms of how-to’s it is pretty simple.

After the demo (which I’m sure was a pain), the only thing she did to the wood was lightly sand it to knock off some of the roughness.

The remaining nail holes add incredible texture and interest to the wood boards.

After the front was lightly sanded, she screwed in her house numbers and attached the metal animal design.

She did experiment with embellishing the sign in other ways, but the animals were fitting since this is a farm house.

You’ll also need to add a hook, wire or something to the back to hang the sign on the house.

If you attempt this project and your street address has fewer numbers, it will look even better – that’s straight from The Junk Whisperer herself.

Who else wants to tear apart a wooden spool now to find one of these circles inside? I’m already thinking of all the OTHER things you could make out of it!

I’m so happy The Junk Whisperer shares these projects with me and, in turn, lets me share them with you.

P.S. To see more Junk Whisperer projects, click here.

Junky 4th of July Wreath

I went dumpster diving and found treasure!

Let me clarify something though. Dumpsters in Ireland are called skips.

They range in size from 2.5 cubic yards to 35 cubic yards. You can also order a gigantic bag for your yard waste/other debris and that is called a baby skip. Aw, so cute!

Aren’t you glad for all the random information you learn on this blog?

Here’s what a skip looks like when it’s being hauled away on the lorry. This is not the one that held my treasure though. It held some old windows that were replaced in our house.

I walk by skips in front of houses and businesses all the time.

I ALWAYS stop and look in them.

Who doesn’t?!?!

I have often cursed our lack of a car when I’ve seen something neat and salvageable in these skips.

Well, my friends, my fortune changed when I ran across a skip full of junk outside our neighbor’s house one day.

One particular item caught my eye, but I walked passed it!

When I got home, I couldn’t stop thinking about this junky object, so I nonchalantly walked back down the sidewalk, snatched the junky object out of the bin and fast-walked back to my house.

As my son would say, “nothing suspicious is going on here!”

This was my treasure.

Of all the things I could have taken out of that dumpster, I’m sure my neighbors didn’t expect me to take this thing.

I don’t exactly know its purpose.

I’m sure one of you smarty pants out there will tell me.

If its purpose was gross, I don’t want to know.

That would be my luck. Also, soap is my friend.

Anyway, I showed that picture to a friend and she asked me what I was going to do with this…thing.

Besides love it forever?

I’m not exactly sure what its long term purpose will be, but here’s how I’m using it today.

Ooh, la, la!

I dove into my country roots and made a junky 4th of July wreath!

The flowers are made with a lot of hot glue, buttons, felt and Handy Husband’s jeans.

Don’t worry, they weren’t his good jeans.

I had the bright idea to add an outline of the continental U.S. to the inside of my wreath.


My bright ideas can be a pain in the behind.

Let’s just say this is an interpretive version of the map because it was harder than I anticipated to thread embroidery floss through the squares in the complicated shape of the U.S.

Sorry Great Lakes. And Louisiana. And…the rest of you.

I used white embroidery thread for the map because I thought it would be a good contrast with the rusted wire.

Unfortunately, I neglected to realize that all of my walls are white.

Therefore, the white thread blends in and virtually disappears with every possible background in my home except this one.

*insert forehead slap here*

If this project ends up finding a more permanent spot in my home, I’m going to have to add a different color thread to the map. And THAT will be fun. I’d probably also take off the flowers since they are great for 4th of July decorating, but my minimalistic self couldn’t handle them all year long.

What do you think of my ‘junky find’ turned 4th of July wreath?

For a project that used materials I already had on hand, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. Plus, the 4th is one of my favorite American holidays.

More importantly, who wants to go dumpster diving with me? I promise it’s fun!

P.S. Here’s something else I picked up – not out of a dumpster, but off the side of the road and turned into art for my home.

Tourist Maps Make Great Wrapping Paper

Monday’s post was a little heavy, emotionally speaking, so let’s reel it back in, shall we? Besides, this blog, similar to the inner workings of my brain, thrives on randomness and abrupt topic changes. Keep up! Keep up! The whiplash is worth it.

How many of you have traveled someplace new and picked up a tourist map (or 3 because each of your kids needs their own map even if they ask you to hold it 7.3 seconds later, thank you very much)?

*raises hand*

Then how many of you have chucked that map(s) in the recycle bin or garbage when you were finished?

*raises hand*

If one of your tourist maps survives the trip in good shape, don’t throw it away!

You can reuse it as wrapping paper!

It’s fun. It’s unique. It’s economical.

It works for any gender or age.

And those map creases are an excellent cutting guide.

I did have to repair a slight tear in one of the creases with a bit of tape, but when I’m wrapping a Nerf gun for a 7-year-old, perfection is not at the top of my priority list.

Actually, perfection is rarely at the top of my priority list. Makes life so much easier!

I was carrying these presents through the mall on our way to a birthday party at a miniature golf place. I stopped to pick up a free sample of a sports drink the college kids were handing out. I meant to do a “grab a free bottle fly by” because we were on a timeline, but the kid stopped me and said, “is that map wrapping paper?”

I said “Well, it’s a map that I’m using as wrapping paper.”

“From a real place?” he replied.

“Nope! From a fake place!”

Kidding, I didn’t say that. I thought it, but my internal filter was working that day.

What I actually said was, “Yes, from our trip to Copenhagen.”

“WOW! That’s such a good idea!”

As a side note, I do love it when college kids think my ideas are great. It gives me that “I’ve still got it” feeling.

Then I talked to him for another 3 minutes about how expensive we found Denmark to be compared to Ireland while Handy Husband tapped his foot waited patiently for me to stop holding court with my adoring fans.

Not only is a tourist map a great item to reuse as wrapping paper, but it is also a conversation starter. These win-win ideas make me ridiculously happy!

And in this case, since I reused and thereby helped the planet, I think this was a win-win-win idea.

Wine Rack Upcycled Into a Display Shelf

A million years ago when Handy Husband and I grew up and started purchasing real furniture, we bought a buffet table for our dining room that included a built-in wine rack.

Here it is in our last house. I miss that old house, by the way.

Turns out we prefer a mixed drink over wine in this house and the wine we did keep on hand was properly stored in a wine fridge.

The wine rack has bugged me, off and on, for YEARS. First, half of this piece of furniture is a waste of space. Second, that thing is a dusting nightmare. Third, it looks dumb without wine.

I’ve wanted to take the wine rack out and put something else in its place. A shelf, perhaps? Alas, it became one of those honey-do chores that was put on the way back burner. Until a couple of months ago when I brought it up again. I’m fairly predictable like that. Timing is everything, right?

In this case, the timing was exactly 7 minutes before we had to walk out the door for school.

Of all the places and all the times, THAT is when Handy Husband decided it really was possible to remove the wine rack without damaging the sides of the buffet. I’m trying to get the kids’ shoes and socks on because we REALLY HAVE TO LEAVE and Handy Husband is in the kitchen beating on the buffet with a hammer.

Guess who got the job done faster? That’s right…after YEARS of dragging our feet regarding this project, it turns out it took less time to remove the wine rack than it does for our offspring to put their shoes and socks on.

Why did we wait so long? Why did we do start this project when we no longer have power tools to transform the space? Why can’t my children put velcro shoes on quickly and without whining?

So many whys. But I was so thankful it was finally done! HURRAY!!!

You know what’s going to happen next, right? I just could not let that discarded wood go to waste.

When I got back from dropping the kids off at school, I started playing around with all of those pieces of wood. It was a bit of a puzzle since the pieces were different lengths and some had been damaged during hammer-palooza. I realized I could put them back together in a grid pattern (squares instead of diamonds) to make a display shelf. All it would require was a little trimming to get the pieces down to size.

Normally, I would reach for any sort of saw with a power cord for this project, but we sold all of those before we moved to Ireland. Back to basics then! I took out the handsaw and trimmed the wood pieces down to size.

It took forever a good long while, I must admit.

I sanded the rough spots and my little helper helped me pull out nails that had attached the rack to the edges of the buffet.

The notched pieces fit together nice and tight, so no nails or screws were needed to hold my new creation together.

When all of that was done, I added some trim paint to jazz things up.

I had enough scrap pieces to make two display racks – one for each kid’s room! They were different sizes, but that actually couldn’t have worked out better.

I installed the tall, narrow shelf in my son’s room. It is currently displaying some of his favorite Lego characters.

I used Command Strips to affix the shelves to the wall and even after a sleepover, wrestling, Nerf gun wars and the kids rearranging their collections multiple times, the shelves have stayed put.

I love it when these things work out. (Knock on wood)

You’ll notice that this shelf (and the one coming up in my daughter’s room) are hung low to the ground. That’s because my kids (ages 7 and 10) sit on the floor to play with their toys, so having the display shelves at “their level” encourages them to use the shelves for storage AND imaginative play.

This is not a project that I would normally make for myself. I’m not into having lots of teeny tiny tchotchkes to dust and display around my home. But my kids are! (Well, not the dusting part. That’s just something mom makes them do. Can you believe moms are so mean?)

Kids come with stuff though and right now my kids are into tiny things like Legos and Littlest Pet Shop. I’m cool with this because they spend hours in their make-believe worlds, but I do prefer when their stuff has a home.

We live in a small house, so I’m learning to get creative with how I solve storage issues. In this case, the walls have to work harder.

We’ve been living with these display shelves for awhile now and they’ve made a huge difference in keeping clutter off the floor. Not ALL the clutter, mind you. Real life here!

My daughter likes to make videos with her LPS (Littlest Pet Shop) and her display is constantly evolving as her characters come off the shelf to make their theatrical debut.

I’ve noticed my son’s display shelf has changed from Matchbox cars to Legos. It’s fun to see how they take ownership of their spaces when given the opportunity to organize and decorate.

So that’s the story of how I upcycled a wine rack into a display shelf for tchotchkes.

You’re probably wondering what I ended up doing with that gorgeous, new, empty space in the buffet.

Nothing. A big fat nothing.

I spent years dreaming about it and now I’m stuck. Such is my life. When I do figure it out, I’ll be happy to share.

P.S. This is how I hung my daughter’s guitar on the wall. She uses it a few times a week and the hanging hack is still going strong. The rainbow butterfly art was made by me.

P.P.S. The wood arrow in my son’s room was made by us using scrap wood. The display shelf over his dresser is a silverware holder.

Emoji Golf Balls

We live about a 6 or 7-minute walk from the Irish Sea. What a drag, right?

A few Sundays ago I took a glorious walk BY MYSELF down to the beach. Moms need that every once in awhile. It was heavenly. When I reached the beach I realized the tide was out. Really out. In fact, I hadn’t seen the tide out that far in eons. (Take “eons” with a grain of salt – I’ve only lived here 11 months.)

I called Handy Husband and told him he and the kids had to come to the beach quickly! The weather was amazing and the low tide had exposed little shallow pools of water with baby crabs and fish.

He endured the whining produced by our offspring and dragged them down to the beach where they proceeded to have the time of their lives. Irony, thy name is child.

We took off our shoes and enjoyed being able to walk in the water without fear of freezing to death. It was one of those perfect afternoons that I’ll hold close to my heart forever.

While we were exploring, Handy Husband found a golf ball stuck under a rock. Then he found another and another. The beach in that area runs into a tall cliff and at the top of the cliff is a park. I’m guessing someone has been having fun hitting a lot of golf balls into the ocean.

By the time he was done, Handy Husband had found 15 golf balls.

“What are we going to do with these?” I asked. Surely he had a plan.

“I don’t know,” was his reply as he dumped the golf balls into the shoe basket by our front door. For a family who doesn’t play golf, I guess that was as good a place as any to put them.

I thought about it and brainstormed with a friend. Ultimately, I decided the golf balls would make perfect emojis, which are all the rage with the tween crowd.

I scrubbed the sea muck off the balls and then headed to the hardware store to buy a can of yellow spray paint.

The balls received several coats of spray paint and plenty of drying time. I actually picked either a terrible time or place to spray paint because teeny, tiny bugs kept landing on the balls and getting stuck. So annoying.

When my daughter had her 10th birthday sleepover last weekend, I asked the girls if they wanted to do a craft. YES! was their enthusiastic reply.

As a side note, a nice, calm crafting session is something that would never happen at a sleepover with 7-year-old boys. I just hosted one of those too and the entire time the boys beat each other up wrestling played, I was praying no one got a concussion. Crafting was not on the boys’ agenda.

I gave the girls a black sharpie, a red sharpie and a white paint pen to work with. Away they went drawing emojis on the golf balls!

I learn so much more about what happens at school from my daughter’s friends than I do from my daughter, so overhearing their chatter while they were crafting was absolutely fascinating to me! Things make so much more sense now.

For this project, ultra fine-tipped Sharpies worked better for detail work, but took more effort to fill in a larger area like a smile. Definitely make sure your spray paint is fully cured before trying to write on the balls though.

“What are we going to do with these?” the girls asked.

This, to me, was a hilarious question.

Mainly because my kids have 50 gazillion little trinkets, scraps of paper, rocks, shells, bookmarks, bottle caps, etc. that MUST BE KEPT FOREVER even though they have no apparent purpose.

“You’re going to take them home and keep them forever!” was my reply.


Well, that was easy.

My daughter’s golf ball emojis are currently displayed on her book ledges.

This project was perfect for 10 and 11-year-old girls, but I’m sure other ages would enjoy it too.

It challenged their drawing skills to replicate the emoji on a slightly bumpy, rounded surface. One of the girls didn’t like how one of her emoji faces turned out, so we just turned the ball around to the other side and she started over! I think any mess ups could be quickly covered over with a yellow paint pen or a dab of acrylic paint. I did not seal these with any kind of clear sealant because the sharpie seemed to be on there to stay!

All in all, the girls did a fantastic job! Most importantly, they had fun!

The other thing I love about this project is it is a creative way to upcycle old golf balls that, in this case, would otherwise pollute the ocean.

I’d definitely give this project the happy face emoji!  😀

P.S. If you don’t have an ocean to search for free golf balls, you can always ask a friend or neighbor who golfs if he/she has any old practice balls you can have. My neighbor saw this project in progress and dropped off a dozen old balls for me! Another place you could ask is a driving range. Or you can always buy 18 golf balls on Amazon for about 10 bucks. Good luck!

Vintage Key Project Inspiration

I about tripped over myself with excitement when I realized the keys to our Irish house were old-fashioned.

It’s probably my favorite part of the house, even if it did take me two weeks to figure out how to unlock the back door. True story. Vintage locks are tricky!

We recently got a new back door with a boring modern key. Sure, the door is more energy efficient and secure, but couldn’t they make the keys just a little more interesting to look at?

Now I have two vintage keys that are of no use to anyone, but me!! That’s also why I feel okay sharing pictures of these keys on the internet.

I’d like to do something with them to commemorate our first year in Ireland. The what, how and when are still up in the air, but I’ve been wasting time scouring the web for inspiration.

There’s an Etsy shop called Symbolic Reflections that makes Christmas ornaments with keys.

The ornament idea is a great idea for a first time homeowner, by the way.

While I think this is clever, especially since I like music, I’m not sure I’d make it for myself.

I don’t know the original source of the music art, but the photographer is listed there.

I could always wear the keys as a necklace.

This one is also from an Etsy shop called Loving Lola.

How about a magnet? That’s a possibility. As long as no one expects me to put the magnets on the front of my fridge. I can’t handle the clutter.

The magnet is also from an Etsy shop. Way to go creative Etsy people, you rock! The shop is called Hoity Toity Designs.

I would not do this with my vintage keys, but I thought one of you out there might be inspired to make this key rack with bent keys. Step-by-step on Instructables.

I like the idea of incorporating a map of Ireland into whatever I end up doing. That was my first thought, actually. String art. Stained wood. The ideas are all floating around in there. The map of Ireland is a wee bit complicated though – at least for hand painting.

This home and key print is from a shop called Wandering Fables.

I have no idea how I’d work this particular design into my home or this project, but this map of Ireland is incredibly vibrant and happy.

The artist for this print is Micheal Tompsett.

Sorry the below picture is super tiny. Best I could do. It’s from a website called Harper Grayce Signs.

I could perhaps run with the adventure theme because that’s, in large part, how I encapsulate this time of our lives.

Simplicity calls to me. I could follow the lead of the girls from the DIY Playbook and put my vintage key(s) in a frame.

As you can see, I have a ton of ideas rattling around in the ol’ cranium. That’s kind of how this process works for me.

Eventually, there will be an eureka moment.

Until then, I’m going to “artfully” tie my keys around a vase or something design-y like that.

The best part of this whole process was when I stopped to take photos and realized the gold key was stamped with the name of the hardware store and the town where the key was made. I am super happy about that little discovery! That alone makes this whole brainstorming exercise worth it.

DIY Embroidered T-Shirt: Nevertheless She Persisted

I don’t usually do step-by-step tutorials because I’m not that detail-oriented, but I’m going to try my best today.

My main reason for this is because embroidery thread is right up there with felt on my list of favorite craft supplies! Also, to encourage you to try embellishing a t-shirt with embroidery stitching because it’s not as hard as you might think. I taught myself! If you can do it, the possibilities are endless.

Here’s the step-by-step of how I started with a plain white t-shirt and ended up with this result.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

You’ll need a t-shirt you want to embellish, embroidery thread, a sewing needle, backing material (I used a water soluble one), scissors and an embroidery hoop.

The backing material/stabilizer gives you something stiff to pull your stitches through. T-shirt material, even if pulled tightly, has too much “give” in it making it easy for your stitches to end up where you don’t want them. Don’t try this project without a stabilizer material of some sort.

You’ll also need to print out a design you want to embroider, a pencil to trace on the design and a hard surface to work on while you do the tracing (I used a cutting board). Your design needs to fit on your shirt and simpler is better – at least at first. If you don’t want to reposition the design during the process, it also needs to fit inside your embroidery hoop.

Step 2: Trace your design

There are two ways to do this.

1) You can trace directly onto the shirt, like I did. This is because my shirt was white, so I could put the paper design underneath and still see through the fabric to where it was. You’ll want to work on a hard surface like a table for this, or like I did, use a cutting board slid inside the shirt.

2) You can also trace directly onto the backing material, which you would need to do if using an opaque-colored shirt. In that case, your shirt would be sandwiched between two pieces of backing material when do your stitching. Only do this if you are using dissolvable backing material though.

Start tracing with pencil. In this case, the pencil marks will be covered up with thread and/or the pencil marks will be washed away when you launder the shirt.

If you are tracing onto a dissolvable backing material, the backer will literally dissolve when you run it under cool water. It’s pretty awesome to watch!

Step 3: Secure shirt and backing material in the embroidery hoop.

This is how mine looked because I was only using backing material behind the shirt. It would be stiffer and easier to work with if there was also a second piece of backing material on top of the shirt.

Tighten the screw on the hoop and you’re ready to go.

Step 4: Prep your thread

A strand of embroidery thread is really 6 thin threads wound together. For this project, you don’t need all 6 strands. Separate the strands in half, so you are only working with 3 of the strands.

Because you aren’t using the thread in its super thick original form, you will only need a regular ‘sewing needle,’ not an ’embroidery needle.’ The eye of the needle does need to be wide enough to thread 3 strands through though.

I’ve also found that the sharp point of a regular sewing needle is handy for this project since you’re stitching through the t-shirt fabric and one or two layers of backing material.

Step 5: Start stitching

For a really good tutorial on the types of hand embroidery stitches, read this Craftsy article. It’s how I taught myself. I used a split stitch for this particular design.

If you are stitching letters, like I was, then start your stitches much how you would start writing each letter. That way, you minimize the amount of back tracking or doubling up on stitching.

Note of caution if you are using a white shirt. If the shirt is a little see through then you don’t want to make a mess of your thread behind the scenes. For this particular design, I had to tie off the thread for every single letter since the font wasn’t connecting cursive. It made the process go a lot slower. If you’re using a dark colored shirt, this won’t be as big of an issue.

Step 6: Enjoy your creation

When finished, you’ll want to dissolve the backing material under water if you are using a water soluble backer. Then launder as usual.

If you are using a backer that does not dissolve, you’ll just want to trim it down and you can wear your shirt!

I probably spent two Netflix shows on this project – or 1.5 – 2 hours. I’m always happy when I can turn a little Netflix binge into a productive crafting session! I’ve washed this shirt a couple of times since I made it in March and the stitching has held up great! I hope you give it a try. Let me know what questions you have…in other words, what details I left out!

P.S. This isn’t my first trip down the embroidery stitching lane.

I also worked some embroidery thread magic on a tank top and some jeans.

Happy stitching!

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The Great Guitar Hanging Debacle

I’d like you to think that all of our home projects go off without a hitch. We don’t encounter any unexpected challenges. The husband and I always agree about the ideal method of approaching a project. We always come in under budget. Heck, we probably make money because we find a suitcase of $100 bills hidden in the walls – every time. Furthermore, my husband reads my mind when I have a vision of how I want something to look. It saves so much time with the communication process.

Doesn’t this happen in your house too?


Real-life home projects with your real-life significant other are slightly less perfect than that.

At least, they are in my house.

So sit back and let me tell you a real-life story of that time we hung a guitar on the wall.

It all started because a wall-mounted hook I ordered specifically for a guitar never showed up.

Instead of reordering and hoping for the best, I decided I could make my own hook. Right then. Because in my head, I knew how it could work.

While my husband had the drill out working on another honey-do project, I explained my idea. Essentially, if we (he) inserted two really long screws into the wall side-by-side, we (me) could create a makeshift hook for the guitar. Then we (me) would be really happy. YAY!!!

I chose to ignore forgot how much Handy Husband dislikes drilling into concrete walls, which he had just been doing for that previously mentioned honey-do project. I also neglected to check didn’t realize that we didn’t have the right anchors to hold the screws in place. Details, details. I’m a big picture person!

Handy Husband and I will both agree concrete is way less predictable and far more annoying to work with than wood or drywall when it comes to home projects. That’s why we are so glad, so glad that 90% of the walls in our current home are made of concrete. YAY!!!

It should also be noted that I appreciate sarcasm way more than Handy Husband does.

Fast forward 5 minutes and 5 muttered-under-the-breath curse words later and the screws were in the wall. But there was no way they were actually going to stay in the wall – let alone hold anything up.

Handy Husband just rolled his eyes. I KNOW! That cute man rolled his eyes. At me!

In case you haven’t been married for fifty bajillion years like we have, that’s nonverbal communication for, “See, I told you so, but I go along with your crazy ideas because I love you. Also, you kept bugging me. But mainly because I love you and you’re beautiful and smart.”

When he does this, and I think it’s why he actually does it, I consider it a personal challenge.

Fine. I’ll come out of my big picture cloud and wade into the details. I LOVE creative problem-solving.

That wasn’t sarcasm. I actually do.

I could have walked down to the hardware store, but it was Sunday and it was closed. I could have waited until Monday, but hello? We’re solving problems here! Creatively! Plus, that would have involved waiting and I’m not very patient.

I decided this situation called for the big guns. The crafter’s best friend. Hot glue.

I figured, I’ll try it. If it worked, great. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t tell Handy Husband no harm. I would endure the eye rolls because, yes, he was right. Then I would go to the hardware store for a proper anchor. Or I would reorder the proper hook that never arrived. Something proper would happen.

I held the screws level and with a little prayer, squeezed hot glue into the hole and around the screw. This, in effect, filled up the gaps between the screw and the concrete and made a makeshift wall anchor.

At that point, I may or may not have sang an “I’m so awesome” song. That part is a little fuzzy.


To protect the guitar when it was resting on the screws, I wrapped the screws in twine, securing it with, you guessed it, hot glue. For the finishing touch on my makeshift guitar hook, I hot glued a pom pom on the end of each screw. Is there anything hot glue can’t do?

Now, even though I’ve qualified that this is not a proper guitar-hanging solution, I feel the need to offer some technical qualifications. Normally, you’d hang a guitar just below the guitar head. This particular guitar is an inexpensive child’s guitar and it has open space in the head allowing for this particular solution to work with 2.75-inch screws. I’d need a lot longer screws to hang the guitar below the head. Is it good for this particular guitar? I’m sure it’s not ideal, but I haven’t noticed any difference – this guitar needs constant tuning anyway.

It’s been about 3 months and the glue is still holding strong. Frankly, that kind of surprises me! I don’t know how long this solution will ultimately last, but I’ll be happy if it lasts until we move again. Ha!

I wouldn’t risk this fix if I was hanging something super heavy, if this was a valuable guitar, or if I was hanging it high off the ground. In this particular situation, however, it has worked. Plus, this story is about the foibles of real life, so I’m letting it all hang out off the wall, so to speak.

Truth be told, I’m quite happy with how this quirky solution turned out. I like it way better than the boring guitar hook that got lost in the mail. I’m also thankful for Handy Husband who indulges my whims and works together with me to create a pretty happy home. Eye rolls and all.

P.S. In case you are wondering what kind of guitar hook I would purchase, this is not it.