a DIY Dining Room Makeover

Over the past ten years of living in this house, I have stared at this dining room and felt like something was off. Unlike many homes where the dining room is set off to the side and you fight off the urge to create a home gym or craft room, our dining room is smack in the center of the house and a main focal point of the entire layout. But I could never put my finger on what I didn’t like about the room. But after multiple carpets and wall color changes, I finally realized what really needed the makeover: the table. 

So here is the back story of this table: When I first bought this house in 2008, I owned nothing more than an air bed and few random K-Mart bookcases. My parents generously handed me down their old dining room table, which had been handed down to them in the 80s. It’s a fine table. Solid wood but with a lament wood top. It was the table that I grew up with. I have memories of sitting around this table for family dinners: watching my younger my brother doing his homework and pressing down so hard with his pencil that the word “monkey” became engraved into it.  And another time watching my little sister having a tantrum and slashing the top of the table with a butter knife. Good times. But ever since moving this table into my house, I have tried to find ways to decorate this room around the table. And it never really quite fit. Until suddenly I realized maybe it wasn’t the color of the room that needed changing, perhaps it was the color of the table. So with two weeks and the tiniest of budgets, I finally got a “new” dining room table.IMG_7677

Here are some “before”photos to give you a good look at the table in it’s original glory. Let’s take a moment to remember the sweet boom box on top of a  plastic K-mart bookshelf.Then there was the time I decided to go bold and paint the room a smoked orange color. You know, to match the poop brown rung I found on clearance at Home Depot. What was I thinking?!

I finally wised up and painted the walls a light color (Benjamin Moore “Paper White”)  and added a DIY stenciled rug. The rug was a fun project, but because the rug was el-cheapo, my cat and dogs tore this rug up in under a year. But as you can see, the table still didn’t seem to fit in.And here we are now.

  Here are the steps I took to re-do the table:

  1. Strip the old paint off the table. I used Citristrip Stripping Gel because it can be used indoors. I says to let is sit only for an hour or two but I let it sit over night and still had to put some elbow grease while scraping off the old paint.
  2. Sand the table with a fine grit sandpaper.
  3. Use wood filler to fill in any holes or scratches that were too big/too deep to sand out.
  4. Stain the table using Miniwax Wood Finish Stain. I used “classic gray.” I did two coats but I wiped off immediately (with an old white towel) after brushing on so that it could really penetrate into the wood and also not come out so dark.
  5.  Once the stain as dried now you can “white wash.” I am not sure if that is the technically term, but let’s roll with it. I had an old can of white ceiling paint so I mixed half white paint/half water and used long brush strokes following the grain of the wood. Again, I did two coats and wiped off in between.
  6. Using fine grit sandpaper again, now here is where you have some creative freedom to distress as you would like. I decided to do some light distressing on the top of the table to show more white in some areas than others. But also some harder distressing along the edge of the table to let some of the original wood to peak through!
  7. Paint the legs and chairs white. I primed the legs and chairs using a Chalk Paint Spray Paint. Then followed up with two coats of the same random white paint I had leftover in the garage.
  8.  Coat the top of the table and the legs with a Wipe-on Poly Max. I used this brand. Of course I had to include a photo with Liam’s booster chair, because #reallife. But to be honest most meals, I still throw on a table cloth to protect my newest masterpiece. Let me know if you have any questions about what I did or how I did it. I am no expert, but I love talking about these things! Enjoy your week! Priscilla

Easy DIY flannel cape

The weather here in Charleston, SC has made its way down to the 40s and just in time for Liam’s I-refuse-to-wear-socks-and-shoes phase of toddlerhood, leading to moments of bribery and shouts of “well, then mama has to carry you!!” followed by tears and then “oh wow, mommy, look a bulldozer.” So nonetheless we took this chilly opportunity to bundle up and walk downtown to grab brunch, sporting my new handmade flannel cape. Socks and shoes optional, of course. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the cape trend. I mean, really what is the deal…Are ya just wearing a blanket? Did your scarf and sweater have a baby and this is what popped out? And what in the world are you supposed to wear underneath? So you can see, I had some questions. But Jo’Anns Fabric was running a 50% off all flannel sale, so I bought this pretty red/black/gray combination for about $4 a yard and stared at if for over a month before deciding just to give it a go. And I am so glad I did. Not only is this a great gift idea (because sizing wouldn’t be such an issue), but it also has tons of campfire memories and winter maternity wardrobe potential. And both are things I would like to partake in again in the future, should I be so lucky.  DIY TUTORIAL:

  1. With your fabric laying out flat on the floor or table, mark the halfway point and cut a long slit, up the middle of the fabric length wise ). The cut part is your bodice front, the uncut part is now your bodice back.
  2. Cut the four corners of your fabric into a curve. I like to use an old CD to get the perfect curved shape but you can always just free-hand it.
  3. Fold your side edges in towards the wrong side twice and hem in place. You will also need to hem the slit that you cut down the middle.
  4. At this point, try your cape on and see how you want it to sit on your shoulders. I chose to pull the back down longer to make a high-low hem. But you could leave it even across the entire bottom hem). Once you’ve decided how you want it to fit, place a few pins  at a comfortable place below your arm holes at the side seams, and very carefully take the cape off.
  5. With wrong sides together, sew a line of stitches 5 inches across each side where the pins are and make sure to backstitch in place. This will mark the location of your arm-holes and keep the cape from sliding back or sliding off.
  6. Now you are done! Bundle up your family and head outside!

Hope you enjoyed this easy peasy tutorial and a real life, raw moment of parenting fail as I brought my crying, shoe-less child out into the cold (well it was a 46 degrees but you know, we have that Southern blood so anything below 60 is freezing to us. But have no fear, we shoved a croissant in front of him and he was humming a brand new tune in no time).  If anyone makes any capes of your own, please share a link to your photos in the comments below. I would love to see how you style yours! Until next time, xoxo Priscilla

How to Draft and Make Your own Graphic Baby Tees

With every new season comes the perfect opportunity to dress your child up in theme and take thousands of photos. I figured better do it now because in only a few short years, he’ll have a strong opinion about what he wears. Then he’ll be 13 and wearing t-shirts with band names I have never heard of that he hopefully will let me wash once a month or so. These are the things I think of late at night. So anyways,  Continue reading

The Easiest way to add fake Shiplap to any room

 As HGTV’s Fixer Upper enters it’s final season, I thought it was only fitting that I finally do a blog post on how we did fake “shiplap” in our home. Ever since Fixer Upper became a hit TV show and the Shiplap Queen herself, Joanna Gaines, began adding it into almost every episode, shiplap has become the pumpkin spice latte of home renovations. Many older home and even barns used shiplap walls because the boards overlaped slightly and are flush to one another making them watertight. But now shiplap is used even more as a decorative accent to give the home a rustic look. I instantly became a shiplap groupie and if I had it my way I would incorporate it throughout the entire house. So when we started decorating Liam’ s nursery, I had lofty ideas to do an accent wall with white washed shiplap. But after the medical bills arrived from Liam’s IVF we realized we had a budget of oh, about negative $8000 for his nursery. So I found a much cheaper and fun way to get the same “shiplap” look. Continue reading

our top five DIY couples Halloween costumes

Halloween is the only time of the year where I can buy the cheapest, ugliest fabric from the fabric store, sloppily sew it together, add an obnoxious amount of embellishments, and people suddenly think I have created a masterpiece. Continue reading

a DIY onesie + an important message

As much as it hurts me to bring it up, how many of you remember the infamous “locker room talk” between Billy Bush and Donald Trump? Despite which political party you affiliate with, I think this is something we need to talk about. Continue reading

a DIY maxi dress + a introducing Highlands Wrap Dress

Every so often I see these gorgeous, flowy, maxi dresses online that make all my Hawaii beach dreams come true. And then I remember that I quit my job to be a stay at home mom and therefore these $200 designer maxi dresses will just have to live in my Pinterest boards forever.  But luckily for me, there’s a new sewing pattern in town: the Highland Wrap Dress. I was beyond excited when Allie Olson asked me to help test this new pattern earlier this year. I love testing new patterns and getting the opportunity to watch a pattern come to life. And this has been my favorite to date! I’ve been waiting patiently for launch day to share photos of this dress. So here we go:

The best part of this pattern (besides that I’ve yet to see anything like it out there in the patten world) is that I can see myself making countless variations: a midi length, sleeveless, cap sleeve, a chambray version, a maxi skirt hack, and on and on and on… Check out indiesew.com if you’re interested in purchasing this PDF pattern for yourself.
The day we took these photos, we had such a busy weekend planned. But as a tester I wanted to submit photos of my finished garment by the end of the day. So we drove 3 minutes down the road to Sunrise park early on a Saturday morning. We hadn’t even eaten breakfast yet, Liam was still in his pajamas, and the wind was coming off the harbor so fast. But as I was waking around thinking the wind was going to ruin the photo shoot, Will looks up from behind the camera and says “I think this is the best thing you’ve ever sewn.” And he might just be right. I’m almost certain this dress is asking to be worn barefooted on a beach somewhere.

The fabric is a lightweight rayon challis from Joann’s. I can’t seem to find it online but the local Charleston store had a large bolt in stock. That’s all for now.  If you’re over seeing photos of me in wrap dresses than, spoiler alert: I just ordered some fabric for my second Highland Wrap dress. You’ve been warned.

xx Priscilla

do it yourself Smash Cake Photo Shoot

how-to-smash-cake-photo-shootI’ll let you in on a little secret about me: I HATE paying someone to do something that I can even slightly, half-ass do myself. Maybe I’m a perfectionist. Or untrusting. Call it what it is, it’s me and I am working on it. But in the mean time, my DIY flag will continue to soar high. After our holiday family photo shoot that resulted in zero photos of Liam smiling, I decided never again! The photographer was a very sweet lady. But she would make these cackling, turkey calls and high pitched squeals in an attempt to coax a smile out of Liam. And this child of mine, who seriously  smiles at every cashier and every old lady in line at the grocery store, would of rolled his eyes at her if he knew how. Not a single smile for her camera. So I decided that I would create our own photo session at home. And worse case scenario, if he didn’t smile for me, all I wasted was an afternoon. And it turned out to be a success! img_5530img_5544img_5537Here are some of my tips for how you can create your own smash cake photo session. 

1. If you have a room with a blank white wall, perfect! If not, get a white backdrop. I purchased this one from Amazon and have used it several times so I have definitely gotten my money’s worth. But a crisp ironed bedsheet would also work well.

2. It’s all about good lighting. This is crucial! More important than the camera itself! I know by now in my sunroom (where I’ve set up my white backdrop) what time of day the room gets good natural light. You want to aim for bright natural light vs light that is created from lamps or overhead lights. But you also want to avoid too much direct light on your subject (this will wash them out) and avoid shadows being casted onto the backdrop. Tip: set up your backdrop a day or so in advance and keep an eye on what time of day the lighting is best.img_55663. You don’t need a fancy camera! I used my Cannon Rebel DSLR for these, but I took some practice shoots with my iPhone and they also turned out amazing. I swear, the quality of the pictures on the iPhone these days is not too shabby.

4.  Use a tripod, if available. This helped me do continuous shooting and be hands free If I needed to quickly jump in and help/reposition/save a ballon. A husband or assistant also helps!

5. Create fun props! I simply blew up some balloons and made bunting using felt fabric, string, and a hot glue gun. You don’t need much. The cake and the baby will be the star!img_56106. Bake your own cake. Dude, did you know a box of cake mix is only $1.95? This is so cheap. Especially considering it’s just for photos. In fact, I didn’t evenly spread the icing on the back of the cake!  And side note, this cake stand came from the diaper cake from our baby shower. It’s from C. Wonder. img_55677. Once you are all set up, bring in your child and entice him to “smash” the cake! At first, Liam had no interest in eating, or even touching the cake. He just stared at it and crawled away. If you look closely in this photo, you may see some tangerine slices on the floor. Yep.  We had to entice him by adding his favorite food (which I guess obviously isn’t cake) and eventually, he went for the kill. Giving him a spatula at the end of the shoot helped us get some really messy pics too!

8. Touch up the pictures in iPhoto/Photoshop. I always end up cropping my photos and using the blemish tool to remove anything unwanted that ended up in the shot. before
I took a total of 120 photos and I ended up with about 30 great photos! And while I am a big fan of professional photography, it was nice to do these at home with daddy present and a warm bath waiting for us in the room next door!

xxoo Priscilla


Buy or DIY: sweet baby dolls for sweet baby cousins

img_5254img_5229img_5241img_5258img_5269img_5264One of my favorite moment of this year’s Christmas was seeing Liam and his 15 month old cousin Zoe really getting to know each other. We taught them how to “give a hug” and it was probably the best thing I have ever seen. So naturally I had to take a few photos of the two of them with their handmade dolls made by momma/aunt Cilla. The fabric used to make the dolls is from See Kate Sew’s doll fabric line for Riley Blake fabrics. I also made a the little gathered tulle skirt to match the doll’s bow. This was a quick easy project, with the majority of the time spent stuffing the doll with cotton stuffing and poking it into all the skinny arms and legs. For Liam’s doll I didn’t use nearly as much stuffing as I did for Zoe’s and you can tell a difference. So tip #1: buy extra stuffing! Tip #2: sew a second line of stitching next to your first row. I did a double line of stitching for Zoe’s doll so it should hold up for many years, even through her big brothers tugging and pulling on it. For those of you who don’t sew and would rather buy a dollie for the kiddos in your life, check out Candy Kirby Designs and Fink Toys (made here in Charleston!) I love this quick handmade gift that would be great as a first birthday present or baby shower gift for a new mom-to-be. I’m also interested in trying out this pattern next. Any other fun doll/stuffed animals patterns out there? Let me know! img_5245xx Priscilla