DIY transformation: The Lazy Girl's Gold Leafing How-To in 4 Steps (and under $100)

I have been on the hunt for a pair of mirrors for our bedroom, inspired by gorgeous pictures like these: 

I had two things to keep in mind when looking for the perfect pair of mirrors: unique shape, and budget. After scouring Etsy, Craigslist, and even eBay for about a month, I found these dark Spanish-style mirrors on Craigslist for $35.  The shape is what attracted me to them first. They actually came off an antique dresser, so weren't made as "wall mirrors" per se; but I was about to change that :)



All hail the power of gold leaf!

My mother is an artist and loves to gold leaf (we say if it isn't nailed down in her house, she'll gold leaf it). There's a reason for this... gold leaf can really turn a drab or dated piece into something fresh and expensive-looking.

I'm sharing what I did on these mirrors, but please remember there are lots of ways to do this and you can add beautiful glazes, finishes, and layers for different looks. My way is minimalistic and only uses adhesive, gold leaf, and sealant. So here we go!

My easy-peasy, gold leafing how-to in 4 steps:

2. Gold leaf adhesive
3. Acrylic sealant
4. A small paintbrush
5. A workspace that can get messy (the gold will flake)
...and patience!
         *Type and brand of gold leaf: My mom recommends Mona Lisa gold leaf sheets in GOLD. These can be purchased at Michael's (Hobby Lobby used to carry Mona Lisa but mine carries another brand now). Mona Lisa has a ton of kits, some with all the items mentioned above in one package. 

1. Prepare your workspace as if you're about to paint. I used painter's tape to protect the mirror edges, and copy paper to cover the mirror itself. 

2. Put adhesive all over item you're gold leafing. Any spot you miss will not be sticky and the gold won't adhere, so be meticulous. Using a paintbrush worked best for me, the sponge brush I tried soaked up the glue. Let the adhesive sit, as it gets stronger and stickier as it dries.

You can either paint on the adhesive, which is what I did ($3):
 or get the type in the spray can ($10) or pen ($11) for small projects.

3. Time to pull out your book of gold leaf sheets. I found the sheets much less messy than the flakes, since I had a larger surface to cover. They are $6 for 25 sheets; I used 3 books (my rec is to buy more than you think you'll need, then just return the unopened ones. It's never fun to run out mid-project!)

Carefully pull off a sheet, doing your best not to wrinkle it in the process. For me, the best application was letting the sheet "float" onto the surface, then smoothing it down with my finger.  For tiny crevices my finger couldn't get to, I used the tiny paintbrush.
After you have your piece covered, go back and look for any gaping holes where the gold leaf didn't adhere. Take your paintbrush and add adhesive to any "holes" in your gold leaf... wait to dry... and repeat process.

You don't want it to be patchy, but remember: to get a naturally distressed look, you don't want the gold leaf to cover every single inch of the piece. If you wanted that look, you could just use spray paint. With gold leaf, the richness and gild of the finish really comes from the unique way the gold is applied.

4. Congrats, the hardest part is over! It's tempting to finish the project here, but the sealant is very important. You don't want flakes all over the floor instead of on your lovely piece. Let the gold leaf cure overnight, then finish with an acrylic topcoat (about $6).
Let dry, and enjoy your beautiful work!

Project cost:
Mirrors- $35
3 Books of Gold Leaf- $18
1 jar of adhesive- $3
Pack of paintbrushes- $4
2 cans of acylic topcoat- $12
Total: $72

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DIY Jewelry stand holder from vintage china

I'm always on the lookout for interesting and unique gift ideas (it's how my Etsy shop and small business started, after all.)

In efforts to find "THE gift," I love hitting local estate sales... so much fun for the inner American Picker in me! One thing I've seen a lot of are pieces of china (without a match) for as little as $1 a plate.

I've been wanting to make a jewelry holder like this for some time, so after a few storage wars estate sales, I had what I needed to make one. I didn't want to use a drill; and I wanted to use what I had instead of getting specialty hardware. Here's what I learned.

For my no-fuss/no-drill jewelry holder, you'll need:

 1. Plates in varying sizes (I chose to do three, so I'd have three tiers on my jewlery holder). Make sure the patterns compliment each other, my preference is that they aren't matchy-matchy.
2. E6000 Industrial Strength "Goop" (craft glue, I got mine at Hobby Lobby)
3. Two egg cups, short candlesticks, or cream and sugars*
4. A small teacup** for the top (optional, I just wanted one to hold my rings)

*I saw a really great idea with a candlestick (pic below), but this limited the holder to two tiers.
** I found a particularly small teacup to hold my rings, but you could also use a wider-mouth saucer.


The easiest how-to I've done making a jewelry holder:

1. Hit garage sales, estate sales, or even the Salvation Army to get your pieces.
2. Put glue around the edge of the first "divider" (either egg cup, creamer, etc.)
3. Stack upside down and LET DRY (you may want to put something heavy on top of the divider, for added pressure).
4. Repeat for next tier. You're going to want to glue the bottom of the egg cup to the already-glued plate before you go for the one on top. Also make sure you look at the tiers from the side, to make sure the egg cups are aligned from all angles.

 5. Repeat again, and glue the bottom of the teacup to the saucer... and again, LET DRY.

You are done, you little DIYer, you!

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Baby's first year: Monthly photo collage

I can't take credit for this idea... I saw it on Pinterest somewhere. I loved the idea of documenting the Bean's growth from the beginning, but needed something time and user-friendly.

It was so easy to do! Just buy a set of alphabet letters (I got mine at the Dollar Store), put baby on a white sheet, and click click click away! I pulled the letters for "month" out and had them in a separate Ziplock baggie, so all I needed to do at the first of the month was grab that and the number I needed. It was easy to remember to do, as every month they grow is a milestone that you're very aware of.

Don't worry about getting the "perfect" shot-- just take a lot of them every time so you can have plenty to choose from. As you can see with my little one, sometimes he was fussy, sometimes he needed a snack (on his foot, apparently, or on the letter "S"), sometimes he was just over it. But put those "imperfect" shots together with the good ones, and you encapsulate baby's personality in 12 shots!

A few notes:
1. I used Collage Maker, an Apple app, to put all the pictures together. Another good free photo collage software for download is CollageIt.

For online collage makers, try Photovisi, Loupe, Collage.com, or Fotor.

2. It's fun to see baby's body grow which is why I had him in only a diaper. I always tried to get a full-body shot and have that in a version too (but for the purpose of posting it on the Internet, chose to just show his face).
3. Keeping baby with the same "scenery" every time helps show growth, a perspective which can be hard to capture on camera otherwise. I've seen people put them next to the same stuffed animal, in the same chair, etc.

4. I am anything but a professional photographer, and I know the lighting varies by picture. If you do it in the same place at the same time of day every time, you would get more uniform lighting (and my applause).

5. I reiterate: take a LOT of shots each time. You know babies go through a range of moods in a quick time span, and you want to have lots to choose from. Plus, it's fun to have all the pictures from each month to look back on.

6. As baby gets older, they will want to grab at the letters... let them! You may want to distract them or get a smile by having their favorite toy nearby.

7. There are TONS of great ideas on the Web with variations of this idea so look around. For example, one I loved (and actually tried the first month) was baby next to the number of balloons of their month. I just didn't want to buy helium balloons every month for the purpose of a picture.

This really is a fun project and the end result is a treasure. Get creative and have fun!
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DIY "Goodnight Moon" party

We did it! Our little guy turned one last weekend and we had family and friends over for what turned out to be a really fun party. The last of the "Goodnight Moon" posts, I promise!

Here are some really easy things I did to stay in theme:
First- RED BALLOONS. Anywhere you like-- the mailbox, next to the cake, next to the favors, on the chairs... since the red balloon is a "character" in the story, you can get by putting them just about anywhere.

When I ordered the cupcakes, I just told the bakery "icing in primary colors-- red, green, yellow, blue." Easy, right? Then I printed out the book cover and cow painting from the story as passport-sized pictures, and on one sheet got about 12 prints. Hot glue + toothpicks = cupcake toppers! To mix it up a bit, I wrote "hush" (thanks, little old lady) on some premade yellow flag toppers with a Sharpie.

And because I am apparently becoming a mother straight out of "Toddlers and Tiaras," I also painted the cow jumping over the moon in acrylic. It was a good space-filler.
The birthday boy had THREE wardrobe changes (again, "Toddlers and Tiaras"). Dressy pre-cake:

 Something to get messy in for the smash cake (shameless plug, but I'm actually about to start selling these in my Etsy store.)

And a t-shirt to wear after all the madness.

This was a random find, but at our local Tuesday Morning I found the "Goodnight Moon Game." Yes! A board game made after the book... and for $9.99! I turned it into the centerpiece for the table, and the kiddos got to play the game after we were done eating.

Same rule for the banner as with the cupcakes: primary colors. I separated each word with a picture of the rabbit from the story (this was actually a picture of a paper plate I printed out several times... i.e., there's a set of "Goodnight Moon" paper products out there somewhere on the interwebz. Google it!) 

This rabbit was actually something we already had, I thought he worked for the theme because he was wearing a night cap. The three balls next to him were Dollar Store finds... I'm not even sure what they really are (stress squeeze balls maybe?) but their colors worked-- and they were a buck!

This pales in comparison to the swanky parties I saw online, but for what we were doing it was great and just enough.  Time to start planning the next one!

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