The One Where I Nailed It

When we decided to move Wally into Abby’s room with her (a short-lived experience, it turns out), we remodeled the entire room, from new beds to fun paint on the walls.

One day while at work Jess told me about her idea and I thought to myself, “I already have everything I need for this project.” That’s right. Project cost: $0.00.

The idea is to use yarn to put a decorative initial above each kid’s bed. But with a 3-D look.

The first step is the template. Jess picked a font and I printed them out (using a few sheets of paper) and taped them together. Obviously the widths are different but I kept the heights the same.

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When I got home I was excited to get started. I taped the template to the wall exactly where I wanted it. I then used the tip of a nail to poke a tiny hole in every corner of the letter, making sure to get both the inside and outside corners.

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This step took a little courage to start since I am basically putting a bunch of nail holes in my wall, but I knew it would be well worth it.

I used pretty long nails with decent sized heads because I didn’t want the yarn slipping off. and the nails themselves become pretty invisible once the yarn is put on.

I used a sharp to mark each nail 3/4″ from the head, not the tip. I then carefully tapped them in up to the red mark so all my nails were sticking out exactly 3/4″.

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This is by far the most fun part of the project. I started with a tight knot around one of the nails, then proceeded to wrap around the nails, going over and over and over making sure each layer was a little farther from the wall.

Once I was close to the heads, I tied another tight knot and clipped the ends. I had to use a 2nd piece of yarn for the inside of the A.

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And here is the W.

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This projects was very fast but very cool. I did it all in probably 20 minutes once I had the templates ready to go.

Of course, if you have seen our house recently, there is a big N where the W is, since it turned out much better to have Novie in the same room as Abby.

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The One Where I Say Potato

We heard about this project and I thought, this is awesome. The rumor is that in a 3’x3’x3′ potato box you can get about 100lbs of potatoes. Whoa! Not sure if that is true or not, but if so, I have to give it a try because, I need 100lbs of potatoes.

The idea is you start your potatoes in the bottom of the box and, as they grow, you add a row of planks to the box and add more dirt. You continue adding so the plants keep growing vertically.

I found these cedar planks at Home Depot that are 5 1/2″ wide and 6′ long. I’m pretty sure they are designed as fence boards because the corners on one end are dog eared. I figured if I make my boards 35″ wide, I can get two of them out of each plank. I need 20 for my box so it took 10 planks.

I like the idea of using cedar since it is naturally bug an rot resistant.

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The planks are held together with 2x2s in the corners. I wanted to eventually have 5 rows of planks so I made my 2x2s 27 1/2″.

The interesting part about this project is there is very little assembly to begin with. You actually keep constructing it over time but not until the potato plants grow big enough.

I started by attaching one plank to two 2x2s using a couple of wood screws.

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I then connected them together with the side planks. Pretty straight forward. And I’m done! For now. The next step is to fill the first layer with compost from my awesome compost bin and plant the starts.

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As my potato plants grew, I added the next row of planks and filled with more compost around the plants, making sure the tops were still exposed to sunlight. Notice my cool potatoes marker we found at the local farmers market in Edmonds.

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Eventually I had all five levels installed. In my head I can see the thousands of potatoes getting bigger and bigger.

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Finally we couldn’t wait any longer. I basically disassembled the entire box and stored the pieces for next year. My kids enjoyed breaking up all the compost to find all the potatoes.

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Not exactly the massive harvest we were imagining, but it was sure fun. Maybe next year we will do a little research on things like when to plant, what kinds to plant. You know, little things like that.

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Here are some of the tools and supplies I used in this project. If you are interested in one, click to take a look. You get a fun product, I get a fun commission. Thanks!


The One That Got Us Hooked

When you enter the back door of our house, there is a little corner that never got much use until now. We wanted somewhere for people to hang coats, bags, hats, etc., but also look nice as well.

I love projects like these that are simple but make a dramatic impact.

I started with a 1×12 board and cut two pieces to the length I needed to fit in the corner. I attached them together at a 90 degree angle using my awesome Kreg Jig and pockets holes. All of my holes and screws are on the back which will be hidden once it is installed against the wall.

We wanted a shallow shelf on top allowing us to put pictures and other things on as decorations. I used a 1×3 board and cut them at a 45 degree angle on one end to fit in the corner. Again I used pocket holes on the back of the 1×12 to attach the shelf.

To add a lip to the shelf, we weren’t able to find a piece of molding we liked, so I got a 1 1/2″ x 1/2″ piece and used my router to cut a 1/4″ corner off the top at a 45 degree angle. This piece isn’t going to support any weight so I attached it with my air compressor and nail gun using some finishing nails.

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Some white paint made it look nice and match the existing molding. However the real magic of this project is the knobs my wife found. She collected different colors, shapes, styles, etc., including a couple of birds.

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Now we have a great place to hang our coats, backpacks, and hats. I particularly love the “Fresh Eggs For Sale” sign. Don’t worry. I will blog about the cool shoe bench soon.

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Here are some of the tools and supplies I used in this project. If you are interested in one, click to take a look. You get a fun product, I get a fun commission. Thanks!


The One Where the Kids Study

As my kids started getting old enough to do school work at home, it became apparent they would need a place to work on it. I nice long open wall in Abby’s room gave us the perfect spot to put a dual desk.

Our design involved three sets of cubbies, two on the outside and one in the center with the chairs between them.

Used some 3/4″ plywood and cut long strips all the same width, since pretty much every board in this project has the same width.

I then broke out my Kreg Jig. Have I mentioned before how awesome my Kreg Jig is? For building cubbies like this, it makes it go together super fast with strong joints. I then used some edge banding on the fronts of the cubbies to give them a nice, finished edge.

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This is the perfect project to highlight my Kreg Jig. Look at those perfect pocket holes. So I cut some 1 1/2″ boards to surround each desktop pieces and cut them at a 45 degree angle. I cut a bunch of pocket holes on the bottom of the desktop, clamped it together, and screwed them in place.

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The molding overhangs the cubbies by 3/4″.

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Here I have everything assembled. The desktop is just resting on the cubbies. I need to sand and finish everything. I will them bring the cubbies and desktop into the kids’ room to assemble.

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We decided the cubbies would be white with a natural wood top. So I used a few of coats of some clear finish on the top, sanding with a very fine grit between each.

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One of the things I love most about building things like this, is you end up with a product that is perfectly designed for the spot. There is no way we would have found something similar that met our hight, length, and width requirements.

We also have a couple of chairs we picked up for free and refinished.

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Here are some of the tools and supplies I used in this project. If you are interested in one, click to take a look. You get a fun product, I get a fun commission. Thanks!


The One That Untangled Our Yarn Problem

After a lot of knitting and crochet projects, my wife and I built up quite the collection of partial skeins of yarn. After a while, they sat in bags taking up room, never getting used. Then she came up with a brilliant idea that would not only solve the storage problem, but also display them in a way that would make them easy to get to and use.

Her plan called for several rows of floating shelves, not very deep, that would hold the extra yarn in the form of rolled balls.

The trick with these is how to make them “floating” shelves. And by that I mean no visible supports or brackets or anything holding them up. There are a few different ways to handle this. Here is how I decided to do it:

My materials for this project are quite simple. I needed four 8′ 1×4 pine boards, four 8′ standard 1 1/2″ molding, and a 3/8″ dowel.

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After measuring the length and height of the wall were we would be installing the shelves, I figured allowing for 6″ between shelves for the yarn balls I could have 8 shelves total, and the would measure 47 1/2″ wide, which is perfect since I could get two shelves out of each 8′ board with very little scraps.

The first thing I did was cut my shelf boards. I just stacked them, clamped them, and with just a couple cuts with my miter saw, I had them all exactly the same length.

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Here is the interesting part and the secret behind the floating shelves. I ran them each through my table saw and ripped off 1″. Crazy, huh?

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Now that I have 1″ cut off of each, I have to put them back together. I will be using three 2″ pieces of the dowel. I was just going to buy a back of pre-made 3/8″ dowels but they were surprisingly difficult to find and the dowel was cheaper.

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In order to make sure the dowels would line up perfectly, I clamped the 1″ piece of each shelf back to it’s larger pieces and drilled a 3/8″ hole all the way through the 1″ piece into the larger.

I then glued dowels into the 1″ pieces. I also cut the molding pieces the same length as the shelves and attached them to the front using finishing nails. The only real function of the molding is to stop the yarn balls from rolling off. They don’t need to support any weight.

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Now the shelves are ready to paint before installation.

To install the shelves, I marked the location of the studs on the wall. Then I used 3″ wood screws to attach the 1″ pieces to the walls.

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Once the 1″ pieces were installed, the rest of the shelf simply slid on to the dowels. The dowels were tight enough that the shelves were held fast without any additional nails or screws. This will allow me to easily remove them if I ever want to.

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Here are all the shelves installed ready for the yarn. Now begins the task of rolling all those extra skeins into balls. Time to bring in the kids.

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And here is the final product. These shelves take up very little room since they are less than 4″ deep but opened up a lot of other space in the room where the bags of yarn once stood.

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Here are some of the tools and supplies I used in this project. If you are interested in one, click to take a look. You get a fun product, I get a fun commission. Thanks!


The One Where We Made a Librarian

If you know my 8-year-old daughter, Abigail, you know that she is a reader. She will occasionally eat, sometimes sleep. Other than that she is reading. We can’t keep her supplied with enough books. In a side-by-side comparison, she destroyed me. And her recall is bordering on spooky.

So for her 8th birthday, my wife and I decided to make her a librarian. Once again, Jess introduced me to a brand new thing I had never even heard of: a Little Free Library. Now I find them all over. The concept is you can take a book, but you need to leave a book in it’s place, so there will always be books to borrow. We sat down, designed, and built Abigail her own library. We even registered it with littlefreelibrary.org so she could be official.

The library is basically a box with an added peaked roof. I used 3/4″ plywood for everything and pocket holes screws with my Kreg Jig where I could. Before putting everything together I drilled a series of holes in each side to make an adjustable shelf.
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I made the door frames using 1×3 and 1×2 boards. My Kreg Jig made making pocket holes easy and the joints strong. We will add plexiglass when we are ready for a strong, transparent windows.

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Waterproofing is important on this project to protect the books in an environment prone to rain. I’m pretty proud of how I used my table saw to cut own notches in the door frames to get them to overlap. I will use weatherstripping all around the doors and down this joint to prevent water from entering. The hinges are designed to close with a decent amount of force which should keep a good seal.

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I painted the roof edges white to simulate white facia boards. I then used a piece of scrap tar paper to cover the entire roof. I also used some exterior clear caulking to seal every joint possible.

My wife found some really great natural paint powder called Milk Paint at a store we visited on Orcas Island in a color we loved. I mixed it with water and it turned out beautiful. And it should weather the years really well.

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Here is my favorite part. Before permanently attaching the roof, I got a $5 solar path lamp, took it apart, and wired the solar panel to the roof and the light to the inside. The idea is during the day the solar panel will charge the rechargeable battery. When it gets dark, the built in photo sensor will turn the light on, and keep it on until the battery is out. My guess is it should last a few hours depending on how much sun it got that day.

I had a few shingles left over from the chicken coop project, so I used those for the roof.

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While waiting for everything to dry, we installed the post. a 4′ post and a little bit of concrete and it went together in about 15 minutes, including digging the post hole with my post hole digger.

We tested the sturdiness.

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After painting the post, the next step was to install the library. I used lots of screws and probably went overkill on the bolts. Better safe than sorry.

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That night we went out to check the solar light. To my pleasant surprise it not only worked perfectly but was a lot brighter than I imagined it would be.

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And finally, we installed the official Little Free Library sign we received after registering the library. We are all set to go.

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Here is Abigail’s video introducing her Little Free Library to the world.

Little Free Library from Trevor Peterson on Vimeo.

Here are some of the tools and supplies I used in this project. If you are interested in one, click to take a look. You get a fun product, I get a fun commission. Thanks!


The One With The Retro Sword

All it takes for bad props to triumph is for good project dads to do nothing. Or something like that. So when a coworker of mine told me about the cardboard sword she was going to make for her boyfriend’s cosplay costume, I could not just stand by and let it happen.

First of all, this is not just any sword. Her boyfriend is dressing up as Link from the Legend of Zelda! I totally get that this project is not super exciting for a lot of you who may be reading this, including my wife, but I had never done anything like it before so I thought it would be fun to see if I could do it.

Apparently there are ComicCon rules that prohibit actual metal swords so this one would need to be made out of wood. The first task was to design the hilt. I used some clipart images from the web, my scroll saw, and Dremel (love my Dremel) to fashion these “wings”.

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We needed a half sphere which turned out to be pretty tricky. She found me a wooden ball that was the right size so I just needed to cut it in half. Here’s a tip: Don’t try to use your miter saw. I ended up just using a hand saw, even though it took a while to get through.

The whole sword will be put together with one long bolt that will hold it all together so I drilled a hole through the ball.

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The center piece was pretty easy with my scroll saw and a scrap of 3/4″ wood. I just cut it to shape, used my Dremel for a little decorative lines, then drilled the hole through for the bolt.

I drilled a pilot hole slightly smaller than the bolt into the wood of the blade, then screwed it in nice and tight as far as I needed. The idea here is I will cut the head off the bolt and do the same thing into the handle.

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The blade was a 1×6 board with the end narrowed to a point. It’s hard to see but I even ran it through my table saw on end with the saw blade at an angle to give the sword blade a beveled edge. Not too sharp, of course.

The handle is a wooden dowel with a door knob on the end that looks like a large gem.

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Once the sword was built, I handed it over to my coworker to work her decorative magic. A little paint and some colored tape and it turned out amazing.

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Here they are off for their big weekend. Link and the blue fairy. Not a bad job for my first sword attempt. Believe it or not I have already made another one. Keep and eye out for that when I post about His Grace the Warrior King.

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Here are some of the tools and supplies I used in this project. If you are interested in one, click to take a look. You get a fun product, I get a fun commission. Thanks!

The One With World Peace

Honestly, until Jess asked for a Peace Pole, I had never even heard of them. But once I was aware of them, I see and hear about them all over the place. After my initial research, what I determined is there is really no wrong way to make a Peace Pole.

I started with an 8 foot 4×4 post. I didn’t worry about using exterior wood since I would literally be painting the entire thing. So I went with the smoothest, straightest one I could find.

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Peace Poles are made using all kinds of materials from wood to metal to stone. The come in all shapes and sizes but are usually 4 sided or 6 sided. The first Peace Pole was created in Japan in the 1950’s but today they can be found all over the world in places such as the Magnetic North Pole, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, and the Pyramids of Giza. Now we can add Trevor’s garden to the list.

After some quick sanding, I painted the entire pole with primer, both to seal it and to prepare it for painting. I got a small sample can of paint of each of the 6 colors of the rainbow so we could add lots of color.

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Historically speaking, a Peace Pole is decorated with the test “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in the language of the country where it is located, plus a different language for each additional side. For our pole, we chose English, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese.

I got to decorate the Japanese side, a tribute to when I lived there when I was young as well as my awesome skills with a Samurai sword, I’m sure.

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Everyone got to decorate a side and Jess did the letters. Our decorations ranged from flowers to legos and is a colorful representation of our lives.

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I installed the Peace Pole in our garden. We also capped it with a solar powered, pyramid shaped light we thought would look cool at night.

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This was a fun, very easy project. The hardest part was waiting for the paint to dry before I could tape it off to paint another side.

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Here are some of the tools and supplies I used in this project. If you are interested in one, take a look. You get a fun product, I get a fun commission. Thanks!

The One Where We Used Chalk

As we were preparing for the arrival of our third little one, my project list was extensive. There were so many things Jess wanted done so everything would be just perfect, so when she asked me at the last minute if I could also make her a chalkboard sign for our front door, I said “sure, Hun.”

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized this would actually be pretty easy, and not only that, but I was pretty sure I already had everything I needed to do this.

I started with a nice piece of plywood I had leftover from a previous project. I brushed off the cobwebs, sanded it nice and smooth and just like that I had the main part of my sign.

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I had some leftover chalkboard paint from when we painted a wall in Wally’s room. I probably went overboard with the number of coats but I figured it was easy, quick, and with a chalkboard it is probably better to have too much than not enough.

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When we first moved into the house we did A LOT of molding work and I happened to have a piece of this basic molding left over. I cut them to size with a 45 degree angle so I get the mitered corners, then painted them with some exterior ultra white paint.

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Once dry, I clamped all the pieces in place to make sure those corners fit perfectly. Then I just screwed them on from the back using 1 1/4″ wood screws.

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We wanted an easy way to update the sign when we wanted so I installed an eye-bolt under the roof overhang. I then installed a couple screws on back, one on each side near the top, but left the heads out about half an inch.

My rope is tied to one, then goes up through the eye bolt back down to the other screw.

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Lessons learned: The sign ended up blowing around a lot in the wind, so I put a couple of screws into the siding a little bit below the sign. So now the sign almost rests on those screws. The rope still supports most of the weight, but the bottom screws keep if from blowing away from the house and banging back into it.

Also, I might change that eye bolt out some day with a hook. That way, taking it off and on is a simple matter of taking it off the hook, instead of untying it and pulling the rope through the eye.


Here are some of the tools and supplies I used in this project. If you are interested in one, take a look. You get a fun product, I get a fun commission. Thanks!

The One Where We Had a Heart

The Heart Wall is one of the many projects, including the chalkboard sign, the welcome baby frame, the striped hallway, and the master bedroom remodel that Jess asked me to do as part of getting ready for Novie to join our family.

For this birth, as with our 2nd, we chose to give birth at home. As a third time mom and long time birth photographer, Jess knew exactly what would make a birth room fabulous.

This project was not only fun, but very easy.

Step #1: Scour your iPhone pics, from the last several years and find the best 107. You would think that would be easy, but we actually had a hard time narrowing it down.

Step #2: Spend a couple of hours at work using your strong excel kung-fu to come up with the perfect heart configuration. I went through several drafts but ended up with this. Please download it, copy it, use it. Save yourself a couple of hours trying to work through it all.

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Step #3: Have your wife order 107 prints, all 4″x4″ square. Granted, it helps to have a professional photographer on the project who knows exactly how to do this and we got them in just a few days. It was fun just flipping through the stack of memories.

Step #4: Place a piece of blue painter’s tape across the wall using a level so you have a straight, horizontal line to begin with.

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For this first line, I placed the widest line in the heart. Once I had that done, I worked up to the top, then down to the bottom. 15 pictures, check. We started with scotch tape, thinking how heavy can the pictures be? We got through placing about 40 pictures before they started falling off the wall. Trust me, go with the 3M Mounting Tape. Not only will it hold forever, but it comes off the wall without damaging the paint, and it is a little thicker so it almost gives it a 3d effect. For a couple bucks you can get a 50″ roll which I cut into 1/2″ pieces.

Now it is up to you if you want to worry about the order. Our images were from all over the place so we just decided on a random configuration. We did change a couple around once the whole project was complete, just to not get too many similar ones together.

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From here you just follow the pattern. Eye-balling is totally fine. If you like, you can use a ruler to place the first one on each row, then base the rest of the row off that one. But I think as long as it looks centered to you, it will look centered to everyone else.

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Once I had the top finished, I continued on to the bottom. This goes so quickly you will be amazed.

This was a quick project, but with an amazing result. What a great way to have reminders of her family as Jess welcomes a new member. We always said we would update the pictures as time goes by, but we can’t get ourselves to take any of them down.

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Here are some of the tools and supplies I used in this project. If you are interested in one, take a look. You get a fun product, I get a fun commission. Thanks!