Category Archives: Tutorials

Transforming Lampshades from Blah to Beautiful (AKA: How to Recover a Lampshade)

I feel like the title of this post belongs on the cover of some 1940′s Gibson Girls magazine right next to: “How to Achieve the Perfect Finger Wave.”

But regardless of any retro vibes, I dare any 1940′s woman to wield a glue gun with as much modern day panache as…someone besides me.

Me? I burn myself a lot.

ANYhoo, as a quick refresher, here’s what this corner of my living room looked like not too long ago (when I shared my tufted couch coup with you).

couches

Nothing wrong with it. Nothing at all. I see my dream couch, fun pillows, my favorite chalkboard that I refuse to erase because I do not think I will ever create a better one (not saying it’s that great…just good for my limited skills).

But, if you’ve been following along for any amount of time…you might be a little thrown off by one thing: there’s not much color.

I mean, yes. There’s lots of yellow in the pillows, but the couch, curtains, and lamps are all pretty monochromatic, which is quite unusual for me.

And which I was determined to remedy.

I’ve had those lamps for years now, and I still love them, but long periods of dust accumulation (in between their yearly dusting…ahem) plus some kidhandling (similar to “manhandling” but worse) had left the white shades a little worse for wear.

Plus, they were just a little…blah (hence my throwback post title).

So, what did I do? I dug into my trusty (read: likely to swallow you alive) fabric stash, selected a winner, got my craft on, and came up with this:

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I say that as if I cranked it out during one nap time session, while “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble” blared in the background, but the honest-to-goodness truth is that I limped along with 15 minutes here or there until I finally managed to finish them off and grab some pictures last night while my kiddos watched the Aristocats for “family movie night” (Shaun’s traveling, so it was more like Kid’s Movie Night/Mom’s Craft Frenzy).

They were an easy project, but just in case you’ve never recovered lampshades yourself, I thought I’d share a blow-by-blow. Because I’m helpful like that.

First up, here’s what you’ll need.
  • Lampshades to recover (duh)
  • Fabric to recover them (double duh)lamps8
  • Scissors (I’d say duh again, but I’m guessing I’ve already worn that one out?)
  • Pencil
  • Large piece of tracing paper for making a pattern
  • Clothespins or some kind of clamps (maybe; I took a picture, but I didn’t actually end up using mine; theoretically, they’re for holding the fabric to the lampshade while the adhesive dries, but I didn’t find this necessary)
  • Spray adhesivelamps10
  • Hot glue gun/glue
::STEP 1::

Place your lampshade on its side on a large piece of white tracing paper. I happen to have a huge roll of this, but you might need to tape several printer sheets together if you don’t.

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Place your pencil on the bottom of the lampshade, right on the seam (so that you have a starting/stopping point), and roll the shade along the paper, following the edge of it with your pencil to trace its trajectory. When you’re done rolling it all the way back to the seam/starting point, you’ll have a long, gently curving line.

THEN, start back at the beginning pencil point (again on the seam), and do the same thing again, tracing fromTHE TOP of the shade this time.

Now, you’ll have TWO parallel, gently curving lines.

Confession: this part made me nervous. It all seemed so vague and inexact. Turns out, it doesn’t really matter. My traced shade ended up being much longer than it needed to be, but all I did was trim down the ends because the widths were good enough to work just fine.

::STEP 2::

Place your traced paper shade on top of your fabric of choice, and then cut out the shape, taking care to leave at least 1/2″ of extra (for folding under). I didn’t measure, just eyeballed. But if you’re a perfectionist, I say measure away!

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Okay, so this picture is deceptive. Because of my aforementioned dawdling through the first half of this whole shindig, I cut out my tracing paper and my first round of fabric, and then the tracing paper got ruined by a rather impressive water glass snag + dump maneuver on Theo’s part.

So! This picture is of my cutting around my original piece of already measured fabric (hence why I am NOT leaving a 1/2″ border for folding under).

Clear as mud? Feel free to leave exasperated comment/questions full of bared teeth emojis if this is not making sense.

::STEP 3::

Match your fabric shade cover to the shape of one of your lampshades and, spraying the back of six inch sections of fabric at a time, start to smooth it over the lampshade.

Honestly? I didn’t use very much spray adhesive. Both my shades and my fabric were grippy enough that I only needed it in sparing amounts to make everything stick.

THEE most important thing here is to take your time and carefully stretch and smooth the fabric as you (slowly) go to make sure there are no bubbles or wrinkles.

It takes some adjusting, but it can be done.

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See the 1/2″ border sticking up above the lampshade? That’s what you will fold over the edge to get a nice clean finish.

:: STEP 4::

Working as quickly as possible, run a bead of hot glue in the inside edge of the lampshade borders (top and bottom) in 6″ sections, and then fold down the excess fabric, smooshing/smoothing as you go and making every effort not to fricassee your fingers in the process (not that I would know anything about that).

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::STEP 5::

To get a nice clean edge where the two ends of your fabric meet at the back of the lampshade, glue down the first, and then fold under the second before gluing it down on top of the first.

Like so:

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::STEP 6::

Step back and admire your newly awesome lampshades!

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…Upside down pattern and all. Whomp, whomp. (Okay, honestly, it doesn’t bother me too much that the flowers are reaching down rather than up, but I would say that this is a pretty strong argument for why you shouldn’t craft while making lunch for 6).

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Also? Meet my new favorite print ever.

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I’ll tell you more about it…including how you can get your hands on it…soon.

Until then…

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YIPPEE for pretty upside down lampshades!

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“Let your light so shine” Lampshade Makeover

A while back, Lamps.com contacted me to see if I might want to participate in their Lampshade Design Challenge, and I thought, “Eh, sounds like fun. Sure!”

I had something in mind for my office/craft room, which is majorly under construction at the moment, and I was intrigued by the possibility of making it a reality, starting with a blank canvas.

Speaking of said blank canvas:

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Lamps.com sent me this pristine white lampshade, and it was my job to jazz it up any way I could think of.

Here’s what I had in mind.

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Chalkboard spray paint, chalk paint pens, ribbon, hot glue. Check.

I had visions of a funky, embellished chalkboard lampshade with a meaningful message.

As you can see in the pic above, the first thing I did was to tape off the…uh…what are those metal arm thingies at the top of the shade? Anyhoo, whatever they’re called, I taped them off because I wanted them to stay silver.

Then I gave the exterior of the shade several good coats of chalkboard paint.

Once that was done, I decided that the white interior was just too stark and plain, so I covered the chalkboard painted portion with paper…

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…and coated the interior with gold spray paint.

At which point I had this:

black and gold

A little hot glue and several episodes of, “OW! Hot, hot hot!” later, I had given the top and bottom a nice ribbon border.

ribbon on

Now came the fun part. I knew I wanted to write something important that I would want to see every time I used this room. So, I grabbed my chalk paint pens and started scribbling. I would show you an in progress shot of this part, but I was honestly just trying to get. it. done and forgot all about any photographic evidence.

Also, at some point, I decided that the floral ribbon was a bit too there on its own and added another layer of ribbon—this time with a black and gold Greek key pattern.

After much tweaking (very different than twerking), I finally had everything how I had pictured it in my head.

This next few paragraphs are brough to you courtesy of: “Keepin’ it Real”—I don’t have a picture of it because, well, I didn’t want to have a picture of it, but my craft room is a total disaster. It has been the dumping ground for all unfinished projects, fabric scraps, clothes that need altering, insert-other-pile-of-randomness for months now.

So, if you see these next pristine pictures and think something like, “Gosh, with 5 small children, I don’t know how she manages to have such a clean, organized, dedicated space for her creating…”

I don’t.

Yet.

Although I am working on it. But if I had bothered to turn my camera around to show you the other side of the room, you probably would have literally gasped at the mountain of…junk (there are other words for this) that was piled on the daybed in there.

Okay, now that we’ve totally popped that unrealistic bubble of expectation, let’s look at the pretty, staged, someday-soon-the-whole-thing-will-look-like-this (for five whole minutes) reveal:

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I chose the phrase, “Let your light so shine” because, well, it’s a lamp, so it made sense.

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But mostly, I chose it because it’s actually the first part of Matthew 5:16, which says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”lampshade makeover1 wm

Let my light so shine before my kids…before my friends…before my gym participants…before the random people at Wal-Mart who ooh and aah over the twins (and secretly wonder about my sanity)…

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This is truly my heart’s desire.

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Of course, it’s not even my light to begin with. Any light I shine is simply a reflection of the Son.

Either way, I’m happy to have this oh-so-tangible reminder when I feel like hiding my light under a bushel of (remember “This Little Light of Mine” from VBS when you were, like, four?) of grumpiness or impatience or pride.

While I was in spray-painting mode, I snagged an elephant that Della got for Christmas and gave her a bit of a glam makeover. (Make sure you read this to find out how Della reacted when she discovered my theft. It’s pretty hilarious).elephant

I mentioned at the beginning of the post that this little project was part of a Lampshade Design Challenge.

Which means that, if my design receives the most votes, both you and I can win gift certificates to buy something pretty from Lamps.com. I’ll let you guys know when the voting starts and how to do it, but in the meantime, let me leave you with this encouragement:

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God has given you a unique and amazing light, and He’s done it so that you can reflect any glory it brings you back to Him because it is when we glorify God that we shine brightest.

Let your light shine, friends. I’ll be here doing the same. 

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Floral Twist Up-do (for short hair)

side hair shot

This past Monday, we had BODYCOMBAT launch. If you’ve been reading a while, then you know that means that several grown women get together, dress alike, and then punch and kick the air while hollering and sweating profusely. It’s pure awesomeness, if you’re into that sort of thing. (Read this post if you want a good laugh about things that can—and almost did—go wrong when grown women wear matching exercise clothes).

In addition to the outfits, a lot of times, we try to do fun things with our hair. All three of the other girls have looooooong hair, so braids and poofs and all that jazz are easy. For obvious reasons, however, my options are limited.

Since cutting my hair really short, I haven’t attempted any “hairstyles” whatsoever, simply because any amount of pinning or half-upping tends to make me look like a preschooler. But for launch, I tried a few twists, and it turned out surprisingly well, so I’ve been wearing my hair twisted back away from my face all week long, and it’s been a nice change of pace from the usual pat-the-frizzies-away-and-go look of the last few months.

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My twisty hairstyle kept reminding me of something, but I couldn’t quite place it until I was buying some flowers for my sister-in-law the other night, and I thought of this hairdo that Gwyneth Paltrow wore in Sliding Doors.

flower hair

{I would credit the pic, but  after the Google images, it was a dead link}

I’ve always loved this twisty look embellished with flowers. So, after putting together this bouquet for Hannah…

hannah's bouquet

{via instagram}

…I nabbed a couple of those pretty lilac and yellow flowers and attempted my own spin on a floral twist updo.

Here is it from the front:

front hair shot

From the side:

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And from the back:

back hair shot 

I had just gotten my hair cut earlier that day and hadn’t washed it yet to recover the curl, so it would honestly have looked a lot better without the blunt-cut dull edges.

Still, it was pretty. And easy. In fact, these twists have always been my go-to, looks-fancy-but-isn’t-really hairstyle (I even have a very informal tutorial for the twists—shot in a Chick-fil-a booth, no less), and I’m happy to have discovered that they still work, even with my shorter hair.

So, if you have short hair, don’t despair! (Apparently, I am suddenly Dr. Seuss). This easy, twisty up-do might be just the thing the next time you’re going out to dinner or, you know, to BODYCOMBAT.

I hope y’all have an awesome weekend! I’ve got the Color Vibe run tomorrow, which is awesome, but I’ve still got a fair bit to do to get out the door, so wish me luck because…

Here I goooooooo…

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How to turn a metal sign into a Marquee Light

howtomarquee

I don’t spend a lot of time reading lots of blogs. Mostly because I don’t have a lot of time to read anything. But also because if I do, I get a little bit overwhelmed with all of the full-on awesomeness that is on display out there, and it gets my head a little wonky. I start thinking things like, “Well, shoot, I guess I should be taking perfect, magazine-worthy pictures like Kate from Centsational Girl, and my house should always be spotless (watch this video I made in case you happen to think mine is) like Lisa from The Pennington Point (even though she has almost twice as many kids as I do), and I should paint furniture like a boss like Miss Mustard Seed, and I should complete 72 handmade projects a day like Ashley from The Handmade Home, and I should be impeccably organized like Becky from Organizing Made Fun

Still, I like to peek around the blogosphere as often as I can, and for some reason I find Instagram a much less intimidating way to do that. It’s a little more unplugged and less polished than the full-on blog posts. Plus, I get lots of great ideas in a lot less time than it would take to read 13 actual blog posts.

So, when I saw on IG (I’m @misformama, in case you were wondering) that Sasha from Lemonade Makin’ Mama (remember her MOMbassadors interview? I’ll be announcing the winner at the end of this post) had gotten the brilliant idea to turn a metal ampersand from Target into a marquee light with nothing more than the sign and a string of cafe lights, I was impressed and mentally filed it away in my “totally doable” folder.

I should have labeled it “totally rip-offable,” but my mental filing system isn’t that precise. (And, yes, I can imagine a lot of you out there are thinking, “Um, Abbie. There’s this thing called Pinterest…” I know, I know).

Still, when I was wandering through Target one day (ahem: make that pushing my cart through at breakneck speed trying to get all the things I needed before I had to go teach a class at the gym), and I spotted the exact same ampersand on clearance, and it was the only one left…I didn’t even think twice. Into my basket it went, and I resumed my headlong rush toward the checkout line.

I was emailing back and forth with Sasha at the time already, so I took the opportunity to ask her a few questions about how she did hers. Turns out, it was crazy easy and straightforward. Of course, my version ended up being slightly less easy-peasy, but even so, it was still a quick project, and I thought I’d show you what I did just in case you too want to put this in your mental “rip-off” file. (Or, you know, pin it on Pinterest so you don’t have to clutter up your brain anymore than it already is).

Okay, so first up, here’s what you’ll need to make your very own marquee sign.

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  • a metal sign with wire mesh backing (I’ve seen various other versions of these different than the Target ampersand floating around at Hobby Lobby and other such places)
  • a box of cafe lights (I already had mine sitting around in the mudroom; I think they were from Target too).
  • Spray paint (but only if you don’t love the color of your sign)
  • Needle-nosed pliers (not pictured, and you might not need them, depending on your sign)
  • Hot glue gun/glue (not pictured, and you might not need them, depending on your wires)

And here’s what you’ll do:

::STEP 1::

Spray paint your sign. (Assuming you don’t like the original finish. If you do, proceed to Step 2).

The ampersand originally started out like this:

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It was fine, but it just didn’t pop enough for the space I wanted it for, so I gave it several coats with Krylon Sea Glass.

Note: don’t get halfway through your painting project then break to go make a bunch of little munchkins lunch and end up leaving everything overnight on the front porch. If you do, and the low that night is 20, then your spray paint will get hypothermia and become runny and just generally defective and obnoxious, and when you attempt to go back and finish painting, your spray paint job will be streaky and uneven, and your arm, leg (hair, clothes…) will get splattered with watery spray paint.

Or so I’ve heard

::STEP 2::

Unplug all of your bulbs from the light string…

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…and work out where you would like them to be placed on the sign. (My strand had 25 bulbs, and I used all but 2).

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::STEP 3::

This next part may not be necessary, but apparently, my cafe lights were bigger than Sasha’s because I screwed all of them in, then plugged in my brand new, super-easy-to-make marquee light and…marveled at the two lights that had actually come on. In other words, the two that weren’t screwed into the sign.

Doh.

Apparently, the wire mesh was keeping the bulbs from connecting with the sockets.

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So, to give the base of the bulb a little more room to actually screw down inside the socket, I used my husband’s Leatherman (best/most used gift I’ve ever gotten him, ladies) to snip away tiny sections of wire so that the bulbs would fit through. Then I went back and rescrewed all the bulbs back in. This time, I was smart enough to test them as I went, and even though it took a little bit of tightening here and there, eventually, they all lit up.

::STEP 4::

Screw in your bulbs.

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::STEP 5::

Unfortunately, the spacing between my bulbs was kind of big, which meant lots of extra wire and lots of ugly wire loops sticking out from the back of my sign. So, I grabbed my hot glue gun and glued the loops to the back of the sign so that, at least they were lying down flat instead of sprigging out all over the place.

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And then I plugged in my super-easy-to-make easy-but-still-somewhat-frustrating sign and marveled at all 23 of the lights as they shined in pretty, glowy…functioning-ness. (If you’ve ever felt that wonderful sensation of relief when you plug in the Christmas tree lights, and they actually all come on, then you know how I felt).

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But seriously. This really is a simple little project with a big impact, and I hope that my misadventures will help you to avoid some of your own, should you choose to keep the copy-cat chain going.

In case you need the side-by-side:

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Oh, and in case you were wondering what it looks like not lit up.

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Aaaaaand…just because I took these pictures and want to use them.

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I had already bought these letters at Michael’s on super clearance a long time before I ever considered this project, so I just had to use them.

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The “love is all you need” sign is from Wal-mart for maybe $3. And the heart box is from Michael’s as well (maaaaaabye $0.50?).

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I really love this handmade drum from Uganda. We won it at a Parental Care Ministries auction intending to let the kids beat on it when we brought it home, but it doesn’t actually work that well as a drum (which, honestly, is fine with me). They do bang on it every now and then, but mostly it’s just become a cool decoration that serves as a reminder to pray for the the orphans and the pastors and the workers of PCM when I walk past.

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So, there you have it: How to transform a metal sign with a string of cafe lights (oh, and hot glue, spray paint, and a Leatherman…if your heart so desires).

Please tell me I’m not the only one who can make a simple project more complicated than it has to be.

P.S. The winner of the “Just Do Today” print and cute apron from Sasha’s MOMbassadors interview/giveaway is:

ANDREA ELDER

(Check your email, chica!)

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Looped Burlap Monogram Wreath

Edit: no, “Welome,” is not the new “in” way to spell, “Welcome.” I mention in the post how I was trying to hurry when I made this, but apparently, I got in a bit TOO much of a hurry.

(And I was so excited because I got the whole word to fit!)

Grrrr… Especially irksome to a girl who works hard not to have typos…only to have…stencil-os?  Either way, the real question is: exactly how long will it take me to fix it?

What do you do when you have two kids down with the flu, it feels like 10 degrees outside (according to a Facebook poll I just did, that’s an average of about 20 degrees warmer than most of y’all, but still, it’s cold for us), and your husband’s gone on work trip?

You watch loooooooootttsss of movies and play looooooottttss of cards and wash everybody’s hands loooooootttsss of times.

Oh yeah. And you make that wreath you’ve been wanting to try for—oh, I don’t know—a year.

Back in April of 2013, I hosted a wreath-making party at my house. Very few of us actually made wreaths (me not included), but several of the ones that did were using a pretty looped burlap technique that I’d never seen before.

I bought the basics for it a while back, but I was still missing a few elements, so I ended up putting my own twist on the process out of necessity (since taking 5 kids, some of whom were doing their best impression of a wet noodle, out in the freezing weather to Walmart for “crafting necessities” seemed like something some people might call “a bad idea”).

Here’s what I started out with:

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    • Metal wreath form from Hobby Lobby
    • Hot glue gun
    • Burlap ribbon ( I used both of those rolls, which was about 7 yards total)—found at Walmart
    • Scissors (I only used the scissors to cut the piece of burlap into a pennant shape)
    • Small piece of burlap (for the pennant)
    • Twist ties (these were supposed to be pipe cleaners, but I made do with what I had)
    • Vintage buttons
    • Paper pinwheels (I snagged these from the banner I had hanging in my living room over Christmas)
    • Gold spray paint (I really love this Rustoleum Bright Coat brand; works like a {very shiny} charm)
    • Cardboard monogram letter
    • Letter stencils (I bought mine at Walmart)
    • Gold Sharpie marker

Disclaimer: this is not going to be as much of a step-by-step tutorial as I normally do, since the embellishments are entirely up to you, but I am showing you how I did the burlap looping process.

::STEP 1::

Unroll the tail of one roll of burlap ribbon and twist-tie it to any point on your wreath form.

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::STEP 2::

Start bunching your burlap into loops to get an idea of how you want it to look. I generally bunched about 3-4 loops at a time.

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::STEP 3::

Every 3-4 “practice loops,” secure the burlap to the wreath form with another twist-tie.

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I know this looks like a mess, but basically, what I’ve done is exactly the process I described above (secure, loop, loop, loop, secure, loop, loop, loop) all the way around my wreath at this point.

::STEP 4::

Now you’re ready to actually secure your loops with hot glue.  This is a process of trial and error, and if I’d had my way, mine would have been less uniform and a little wilder looking, but my goal here was speed since the episode of How to Train Your Dragon we were watching was ending, and it was time to make dinner.

The hot gluing process is two-fold. First, you’ll hot glue the “dip” of a burlap loop (the part in between the raised loops) to the metal, and then you’ll place a dab of hot glue between the two loops…

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…and then squeeze the loops together to secure the glue.

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That’s really IT, as far as making the wreath goes, but the fun comes from the details. I stenciled my banner, spray-painted my “H” (and nearly froze my poor, dumb bare feet off doing it)…

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…and glued the vintage buttons to my paper pinwheels to give them a bit of a floral flare.

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Then, I hot glued all of my decorations onto the burlap loops, and hung the whole contraption on my front door.

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TADA!

It should be evidence of my love for you that I stood outside taking pictures long as I did. And it should be evidence of my stupidity that I still had not put any socks on at this point. (Because, apparently, I think it would be a good idea to catch pneumonia when I’m home alone taking care of sick kids).

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Again, I would have been perfectly happy to have my loops look a little more carefree and less uniform. But you know what makes me even happier? That I finally (FINALLY) got this checked off my list!

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It may not be exactly what I envisioned, but it’s a whole lot better than a pile of crafting supplies collecting dust on my breakfast nook table.  

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I love how my vintage button pinwheels turned out!

WELCOME, Y’ALL!

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I’m kind of obsessed with stenciling things using Sharpie markers. It’s so much quicker and less messy than paint!}

P.S. In case you’re wondering why this wasn’t a Project Elephant post, it pretty much is. I mean, it’s something I’ve been wanting to check off my list for a while. But, honestly, there has been so much sickness happening around here for the last few days that making a list and then checking it off and then posting about Project Elephant PLUS getting the wreath done just wasn’t going to happen.

I’ll have a new list for you and an update or two this upcoming Monday. I’ll also be continuing my MOMbassadors series next Friday, January 17th, so that’s something to look forward to as well. I’ve got some fabulous mamas lined up for you to meet!

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Project Elephant #6—How to re-cover an ottoman (the easy way)

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See that ottomon? That’s the latest addition to my ottoman obsession family. Her name is Maribel, and I love her.

Of course, I don’t suppose you’re too surprised to see yet another upholstered ottoman at our house. My DIY tufted ottoman remains the most popular post on my blog and the biggest traffic booster from Pinterest (so crazy to think that I wrote that post in my first month of blogging).

And who can forget said DIY tufted ottoman, Emmeline’s, disgruntled guest post about Frenchie, the French yellow linen interloper? (Things are getting crowded—and catty—in the decor department up in here; women).

My love of of all things ottomans + padding is both aesthetic (I love how they look) and practical (I love that my babies can walk around them without fear of gashing their foreheads open on sharp wooden or metal corners).

Which is why I was so excited when I spotted this boss of an upholstered ottoman at Ross. 

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(What do you mean I need to vacuum?)

It’s big (approximately 34” X 42”), has nice cushy upholstery, and the bottom is made of real wood with a handy place to stash a basket (or three) full of books or art supplies or, as will undoubtedly happen since its destination is “the big room,” home to all things toy-related, a myriad of action figures, dinosaurs, and baby dolls).

It was on super-clearance for $105 (Ross’s original price was $300), which is not a small amount of money, but is still an amazing price for a piece of furniture this big and well-made.

The only thing I didn’t love was the unappealing black/gray/brown patchwork of scratchy fabric.

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(Can you tell it sat in my garage for a while? Hello, cobwebs!)

But I figured that was an easy fix, so I wrestled it into the back of my van to take home for a little TLC.

It’s been so long since I’ve done a Project Elephant update that you may have forgotten that “recover ottoman” was on the list. But there it is, in all its crossed out glory (my favorite kind of list!)

project elephant checklist2

Because our big room is colorful and fun and relaxed, I knew I wanted to choose a fabric that reflected that mood, so I headed to Hobby Lobby armed with a 40% off coupon and came home with this bright paisley print.

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It had all the colors I wanted, and with the coupon, came to only about $5.40/yard (I only needed about a yard and 1/4 to do the job), which is a price that can’t be beat for mid-weight upholstery fabric.

Once all was said and done, I had this:

ottoman

This is such an easy project, with a minimum of supplies needed. In fact, if you want to give it a try my way, all you’ll need is:

    • An ottoman with the cushion still in decent shape
    • A staple gun (I borrowed mine from my husband’s tool stash, and it means business; it’s powered by a pneumatic pump. Also, I use 1/2”-3/4” staples, but depending on your fabric/wood, you could get away with using something with less oomph/length).
    • Hot glue gun
    • Burlap (or other) ribbon to hide the staples

Here what’s I did:

::STEP 1::

Since I didn’t want to cover up the nail head trim on this particular ottoman, I simply brought the selvage (factory finished) edge of my fabric down to the wood right above the trim and then began stapling it to the wooden piece beneath the fabric, like so.

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It’s important that you staple your fabric to something other than batting or cushion, since, if the staples don’t have anything to sink their teeth into, they’ll just slide right out.

I continued around all 4 edges of the ottoman, making sure to pull the fabric taut and smooth over the existing fabric so there were no bubbles or wrinkles (it’s a good idea to iron the fabric you’re using to recover your ottoman beforehand). This is the part that took the longest since I was taking my time, but the project still only took me a grand total of 2-3 hours (hard for me to tell for sure since I kept getting interrupted by my adorable—and constantly hungry—children and had to come back to it over the course of several days).

IMPORTANT. Don’t staple your corners yet. Simply staple up to within 3 inches of the corners on each side, and then leave them alone for now.

::STEP 2::

After I had stapled the fabric just above the nail head trim on all the way around, I trimmed off any excess.

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::STEP 3::

Then, I started on my corners. You can do these several different ways, but I chose to use a center-fold method that goes a little something like this:

Pull the fabric down toward the corner, leaving as close to equal “excess” on the right and the left for folding inward, and then secure the center of the fabric to the center of your ottoman’s corner.

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Next, fold the loose fabric on either side of the center staples in toward the center and staple them in place, one fold at a time.

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Finish stapling any loose edges up to the corner, and then trim your fabric edges evenly so that you have this:

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(As you might be able to tell, I get a little staple happy when I get my hands on power tools; I’d rather staple the ever-living tar out it now, though, than have it come loose and have to redo it later).

::STEP 4::

At this point, we have this all the way around the ottoman.

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Not exactly gorgeous, right? But that’s okay. Because we have our friends, Burlap Ribbon, and Glenda, the hot glue gun (who met an untimely demise halfway through this project, thus delaying its completion even more than the ravenous children) to help us hide the unseemliness.

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I simply hot glued my burlap directly to the ottoman fabric, taking care to keep it as straight as I could and the molten lava hot glue as far away from my fingers as I could.

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I used 4 strips of burlap (one for each length of the ottoman) and folded the ends down to make a clean finish on the corners.

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It doesn’t have to, but my ribbon had wire edges, which helped with keeping it straight and with folding down the edges cleanly.

Here’s a shot of my folded down edges joined at the corners.

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After a significant amount of hot gluing and a surprising lack of serious burns, I was done!

Hubby hauled it upstairs for me, and I had a little fun fiddling until I got at least a corner of the big room ready to show you guys. There are still some things that I want to do before I’ll do a complete reveal, but here’s a shot that gives you a pretty good idea of the colors and style:

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Maybe you noticed a) that I already moved my fun reupholstered bird chairs upstairs and b) I did not already paint the legs…because I still haven’t decided which way to go with them (any thoughts now that you’ve seen them with the ottoman?).

I pretty much adore all the bright happy colors in this space.

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It’s my kids’ favorite place to play and a great place to watch movies on our DIY big screen.

It’s also our school room most days (you can see our table in the background).

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So, there you have it—a new (and then newly recovered) ottoman for about $110.

A couple of notes: if you have an ottoman to recover that doesn’t have nail head trim that you want to leave exposed, then you can, of course, carry your fabric all the way down to the edge of the wood before hiding it with the trim.

OR, if your ottoman has no wood trim, then you can simply  tuck the fabric underneath the ottoman and staple it there, in which case you won’t need trim.

What do you think? Was it a good re-covery (har har)?

Please let me know if you have any questions for me about sources for anything or if I need to clarify anything that I did to the ottoman. I’m just so thrilled to knock another project off my #projectelephant list and get one more step closer to being DONE (yeah, right) with a room!

Remember that if you’re playing along with our Project Elephant game, you can always brag about your accomplishments in the comments (with pics, if you’d like) or post it on social media with the hash tag #projectelephant

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Painted Pumpculents + a 5 Day Celebration Giveaway ($75 to Lisa Leonard Designs)!!

painted pumpculents4

I have an awesome announcement you won’t want to miss at the end of this post, but first, I wanted to show you something.

If you recall, about a month ago, I got to have a fun birthday lunch with some girlfriends, and this was the only picture I actually took.

inspiration

It seems like an odd choice, I realize, considering that we spent about 2 seconds admiring those adorable pumpculents (yes, that is my made-up word, and no, my spell check does not like it) and the rest of the time eating and swapping baby-brain stories (the winner? my friend who managed to drive off with an iPhone on the roof of her car, not once, but twice in less than a month!). But I didn’t want to forget them because I fully intended to completely rip them off pay homage to them with a twist of my own.

Here’s what I did and what you’ll need to do too if you want to make some painted pumpculents of your own:

pumpculentshowto

1. Gather your supplies: mini-pumpkins, spray paint (I used Krylon Dover White and Rustoleum Gold), craft paint (gold again), cheap paintbrushes, a sharp knife, and small succulents

2. Cut around the edge of the pumpkin and remove the top/stem

3. Scoop out the guts

4. Spray paint the pumpkins (I did some white and some gold)

5. Paint your designs (I chose stripes and polka dots)

6. Sprinkle a little dirt inside your hollowed-out pumpkin to prepare for the succulent transplanting.

I was too focused on the trial-and-error process of stuffing my succulents inside the pumpkins to remember to take a picture of that step, but I’m pretty sure y’all are smart enough to figure out how to put a plant into a hole. If, however, you find yourself stumped, feel free to leave me a comment!

pumpculants

Confession: I kill plants like it’s my job or something. I’m usually all: “Hmm…I should probably water that plant. It’s been a while. In fact {pause} I can’t remember ever watering him. Huh. Yeah, he doesn’t look so good. {pokes finger in chalk-dry dirt} Oops.”

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I have, however, managed to keep these particular succulents alive for at least 3 months each, so I’m feeling optimistic.

pumpculents4 

Of course, for 30 minutes of time and hardly any money (the pumpkins were $2.50, and the paint I already had), I’m willing to risk killing yet another plant (or 2).

The best part about this craft is how kid-friendly it is! I had grandiose plans of having each kid paint his/her own pumpkin. But, alas, their daddy decided to do things outside with sticks and fire. And there’s no way a little pumpkin painting can compete with that. (Especially once I informed the boys that they would not be wielding the knife).

In fact, Della was the only one I could tempt over for even a few minutes.

della3

And even she was less than enthused.

Ah well. Mama’s happy with the results, and honestly, I have zero complaints about solitary crafting. How could I when it happens so rarely?

pumpculents11  I absolutely love the interplay of the gold, green, and white (especially against the backdrop of that dreamy Volary fabric). And I absolutely love how easy and cheap they were. Basically, I’m in love.

Do you agree?

…………………………………………………………………………………….

In other news…although M is for Mama has existed for over a month now (under that name), I haven’t done anything yet to celebrate my blog relaunch. So I decided it was high time to remedy that!

So I did with a….

5daygiveaway

That’s right! 5 straight days of chances to win fabulous things from AMAZING shops that I love!

We’re kicking everything off with:

lisacollage

Lisa is such a joy. She’s an inspirational mama, a super creative soul who makes beautiful things at Lisa Leonard Designs, and is absolutely lovely and kind in real life as well. Her Instagram Feed is one of my favorites, and her blog is a daily source of encouragement and awesome style ideas.

And today, you’ll have the chance to win $75 to buy anything your heart desires from her shop just by completing the following two steps (three, if you want extra entries!)

step 1

 

Enter your email address:

I pinky promise not to spam you! By subscribing, you are agreeing to receive updates about this giveaway and other blog updates (like my daily post straight to your inbox). I will never share or sell your information. I am, however, requiring this as a giveaway entry, even if you already receive my updates elsewhere.

**Be sure to confirm your subscription when you see the welcome message in your inbox (or your entry won’t count) and then come back to complete STEP 2.

{Already a subscriber? Skip to Step 2}

step 2

Leave me a blog comment letting me know you have subscribed and completing the following sentence: “I’m a green {or} black thumb because…”

step 3

Fine print: Open to residents of U.S. and Canada only. Must be 13 or older to enter. a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Try-it Tuesday: EASY Ribbon Bow Headband

First up, thanks so much for all your suggestions on yesterday’s Twin Birthday Inspiration post. Y’all had some awesome ideas!

Speaking of the twins…

I was about to claim that I love getting my girls dressed up in froofy outfits as much as the next mama. But it’s just not true. While I do enjoy dressing my little princesses up every now and then, all I have to do is look right and left at the grocery store to see that I’m way behind the curve in the baby accessorizing department.

So much so that Liz, a sweet nursery worker at our gym, bought the twins hair bows because they always show up bowless and shoeless.

liztwins

{But they match! Surely that counts for something}

I’ve already talked about my aversion to the head-swallowing bow trend so prevalent here in Texas. I think it’s cute enough on other people’s kiddos (although, I’m not gonna lie—when it’s a newborn who looks like she’s about to buckle under the mountain of tulle and ribbon on her head, I’m definitely not a fan). But I prefer smaller embellishments for my own girls.

Which is why I really love today’s headband. I’m calling it the…

 headbandswatermarked

Here’s what you’ll need to make some of your own:

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    • Hot glue gun/glue
    • Scissors
    • Ribbon (two coordinating colors/patterns in smaller/larger size)
    • 1/8” elastic

{See? Easy!}

::STEP 1::

Cut a length of the thicker ribbon, keeping in mind that you will be folding it in half. I didn’t measure, but I started with somewhere around 3-4”.

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::STEP 2::

Fold the ends of the ribbon back until they just barely overlap and the underside of the ribbon is completely hidden. Then secure the folded over ends with a dab of hot glue.

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::STEP 3::

Take your thinner ribbon and secure it in the center of your folded over ribbon with another bead of hot glue.

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Wrap it all the way around the center, tightening a little to create a slightly “cinched in” look for the center. Then, glue it in place and trim the end with your scissors.

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At this point, you’ll have this:

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::STEP 4::

Measure your little cutie’s head and cut a length of 1/8” elastic to size. Then—yup, you guessed it—attach it to your bow with yet another dab of hot glue.

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::STEP 5::

Slap the world’s easiest-to-make bow headband on a baby (or two, if you’ve got another one handy).

happy twins happy twins2 

Marvel at their happy adorableness for the .02 seconds it lasts.

After which time, you’ll have this:

unhappy twins collage

(I made these originally for the twins to wear at Shae’s wedding, and they did happily. But they’ve only worn them once since, and apparently, when you rarely put headband on your babies, they don’t care for it much when you do it for photo shoots).

I think the best thing about these headbands is that, yes, they’re super-simple, but you have endless options to fancy them up a bit.  You could add a bit of sparkle with glitter or rhinestones (as long as your baby is not of the headband-gnawing persuasion), layer different patterns of ribbon in thinner sizes, or even glue little flowers or butterflies to the top (again, careful with any add-ons that your baby could choke on). Also, they work well with practically any kind of ribbon. I used grosgrain and a silky ruffled ribbon mostly, but I could see these working great with satin or even velvet.

Now, if only I could remember to put them on the twins before we leave the house…

Ah well. Can’t win them all.

But, considering that these headbands take all of 5 minutes to make, I’m going to call it a win, even if they only end up on a baby-noggin once a month.

What about you guys? Are you good at accessorizing your munchkins? Or are you good to go if they have a fresh recently changed diaper and semi-unstained clothes on? (Totally guilty of this one, most days).

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Try-it Tuesday: How I Style My {Short} Curly Hair

A couple of weeks ago, I reposted my “How I style my {long} curly hair” regimen. And, although my routine is still pretty similar, there are a few tweaks that I’ve made since the big chop.

I start with the same products as before:

hair regime

I have no objections to using other products, but these seem to work as well or better than most for my hair. Plus, they’re reasonably priced, and I can find them anywhere, so I just keep buying them.

Note: I only wash my hair about twice a week. I’ve heard lots of things about shampoo being drying/damaging for curly hair, and I know that those who use the Curly Girl method rarely ever use shampoo, but I’ve never noticed any drying issues with mine. That said, I don’t wash it very often, and because of its fairly coarse texture, it takes a looooong time to get greasy.

STEP 1:

Shampoo/rinse hair in shower

STEP 2:

Wrap hair gently in a towel. I do zero rubbing, but I do gently squeeze the ends to remove excess moisture.

STEP 3:

Remove towel and flip head over, at which point I have this:

hair regime4

{oh-so-attractive, no?}

I don’t comb anything, even with my fingers at this point, and after I squeeze the tips of my hair, I leave the rest of it very damp. (Honestly, the wetter it is when I put the product in, the better). The only thing I do is a tiny bit of arranging (for example, my hair naturally parts to the right, so I sweep my long bangs that direction so they’ll lie right when I start drying).

STEP 4:

Flip my head back over and gently finger-comb the following through my hair:

hair regime1

{Quarter-sized dollop of conditioner; I don’t rinse this out}

hair regime6

{handful of mousse, making sure to get from root to tip}

OPTIONAL

hair regime2 

{If it’s an especially humid day, I’ll smooth a bit of gel over the top of my hair before drying, but I’ve found that, with my shorter hair and how thinned out it is, the gel tends to make it too crunchy, so I usually skip it}

hair regime5

Here I am with all my product in. Clearly, I could stand to do a little more arranging before I start drying.

STEP 5::

One big difference between my long and short hair routine is that I almost always blow dry my hair now, whereas I almost always air-dried before. I just like the volume and piece-yness that blow drying produces.

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{Stick ‘em up! Della looks worried}

I start out blow drying with my head flipped over (which I couldn’t get a picture of, not that you needed it), but that tends to make the hair at the crown of my head rather flat, so I only dry that way for a little while before I flip it back over and continue drying the sides and back with my head tilted to allow the teeth of the diffuser to get up inside the hair.

Note: I know some curly girls that blow dry without a diffuser, but all that does for me is produce colossal frizz, so I always go the diffuser route.

hair regime7

Even with short, drastically thinned out hair, it still takes a good 15 minutes of drying before my hair is mostly dry.

At which point is looks like this:

   hair regime8 

My hair tends to “settle” over time, and the curls loosen up a bit, so that, a couple of hours after this whole process, we have the final result, which looks something like this:

headshot

For days 2 and 3, I just re-dampen my hair, smooth a tiny bit of conditioner over the frizzies and do a bit of fluffing, then let it air dry.

Hope this helps you short-hair curly girls. If you have hair like mine (curly/wavy/crazy thick/combination coarse and fine), feel free to toss some suggestions my direction for ways to improve my results!

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Try-it Tuesday: How I Style My Curly Hair {Repost}

In honor of my recent hair-chop (that I teased you with a hint of yesterday), I thought I’d do a repost of one of my most popular and most asked-for blogs ever. I had planned to update it with a “how I style my {short} curly hair” post. I even took all the pictures and everything, but the whole post is just not happening today (be on the lookout next week), so I thought I’d remind you of how I used to style my hair when it was long (sniff, sniff…just kidding…I’m really digging the shorter cut).

Below is a pretty typical result:

long hair5

It kind of cracks me up to have people ask me how I “style” my hair because, most of the time (as you might gather from the rather wild look in the above pic), I really don’t. It has a bit of a mind of its own, and I often let it have its way.

Still…here are the basics (by the way, if any of my straight-haired friends out there are about to slam your laptops shut in disgust at my ignoring you, DON’T! Please. I have a few tips for you too).

My hair: it’s incredibly thick, people—the kind of thick that gets comments like, “Whoa! You scalped her!” every.single.time people see how much hair is on the floor after one of my haircuts. Then, of course, they look up, see how much hair is still on my head, and do a double take.  The only way to avoid a super-attractive “hair pyramid” is lots and lots of layers and thinning shears. My stylist typically attacks it with a razor until half of it is gone (and I still had a normal person’s head of hair left).

My hair also defies conventional curl wisdom. I only get the defined, ringlet-ish curls when my hair is long and all basically one length (which hasn’t happened since I was 15, I think). And even that only happens on part of my head. The majority of my hair is more wavy/swirly than curly. Also, it’s very uneven in terms of texture. Some parts are kinky/coarse, and others are fine and straight(ish).

In other words, my hair could probably use a straitjacket. Barring that, though, here’s the next best fix I’ve found:

    • A variety of products.  To achieve anything more than a mass of frizz, I can’t use just one thing. I use a cocktail (shaken, not stirred) of these:garnier

Okay, so not that big of a cocktail, but, after many years of experimentation, I have landed on the Garnier Fructis line for curly hair as my go-to brand. It’s not like a “special” hair relationship or anything. I don’t feel guilty when I try something else, and even these products are far from foolproof, but I’ve tried more expensive brands and never found anything noticeably better.

Specifically, I use the shampoo/conditioner for curly hair or dry hair (whichever I can find at the time), the Curl Construct Mousse, and the Curl Scrunch Gel (extra strong).

1.

I shampoo my hair in the shower, and sometimes I condition it too. But usually I just shampoo, rinse, then wrap my hair in a towel and get dressed/put my makeup on. NO rubbing or tousling.

2.

Next, I unwrap my hair, and finger-comb about a quarter-sized glob of conditioner through my hair. I don’t rinse this out. It may not technically be made to stay in your hair, but it sure won’t hurt it, and I’ve found that this step acts as a very effective frizz-fighter.

3.

 Then, I distribute two decent-sized handfuls of mousse through my hair, again with my fingers

4.

I squirt a quarter-sized amount of gel in my hand and gently smooth it over my hair (this step sort of seals everything else, so I try not to separate the curls)

5.

Finally, I grab the towel my hair was wrapped in and carefully squeeze/scrunch sections of my hair to remove any excess moisture

Notice that I didn’t mention a comb at any point during this process. As my hair gets longer, I’ll have to add a wide-toothed comb to my routine, but right now, all a comb does is promote frizz.

I’ll do a bit of arranging of strands if it looks particularly wonky once I flip my head back over. But I almost always let my hair air-dry, only drying it with a hairdryer when I’m in a hurry to get somewhere and don’t want a wet head or when I want more defined curls.

In the case of the defined curls option, I always use a diffuser. Diffusers are a curly-girl’s best friend. If I ever use the diffuser-less dryer option, the results aren’t too pretty.

After all that, this is (more or less) what I end up with this:

{I just threw that shot of the twins in there as a bonus}

Certainly nothing fancy, but it works for me.

And now for the part where I stop ignoring my straight-haired readers.

If you’ve ever wanted curls but despaired of ever getting so much as a wave, try this:

    • Wash your hair like usual
    • Towel it dry and rub a handful of mousse from root to tip (make sure every bit of your hair gets at least a little bit of product)
    • Flip your hair over and blow-dry it with a diffuser (when you dry your hair with a diffuser, you choose sections, stick the “fingers” of the diffuser into that section and then hold it still until that section is dry; no rough-housing!)
    • Stand up and try not to scream when you get a glimpse of your newly volumized hairdo (I hear it’s a bit traumatic to go from smooth and sleek to the wildness that curly-girls experience on a regular basis).
    • Give your hair a gentle shake to see where it falls. Tame any flyaways with just a dab of conditioner or hair-wax, and then spritz the whole thing with hairspray.

Will you have ringlets? Probably not (okay, no, if your hair truly is straight). But I’ve tried this on several friends’ hair who didn’t think they would get so much as a bend in a single strand, and they ended up with really pretty beachy waves and lots of volume (I remember one friend’s stylist saying, “How did you know her hair could do that? I had no idea!”). It depends on the person/hair, but it’s at least worth a shot, right?

And this concludes my dissertation on styling curly hair. Thank you for your attention.

So, what about you? Curly or straight…what works best for your hair? I’d love to hear your thoughts (especially on getting curly hair to straighten well; I’m usually too lazy, but I do enjoy going straight every once in a while).

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