Oh so sad that summer is over. If you were fortunate to get some time at the beach, you may have come home with a few dozen of these:

Especially if you have little children who insist on keeping every shell that they find! So, what to do with all those shells? Gather up your little ones and make a sea shell matching game!

This craft couldn’t be easier. You will need an even number of shells that are approximately the same size and color. Plus, stickers that you have at least two of.

Be sure your shells are clean, dry and free of sand. Then peel and stick your stickers inside the shells. Try not to pick shells that look identical or it will make it too easy for your players to make a match. Let’s not make it too easy on the kids. The true goal of this game is to keep your kids occupied for 15 minutes!

You may have to trim a few stickers to help them fit better. See how I trimmed the Buzz sticker:

Then set out your shells sticker side down and let the game begin!

Make sure they play fair and only turn over two shells at a time. If a match is made then they can keep those two shells.

At the end, let them count their pairs. The person with the most matches wins!

Be sure to encourage re-matches! If you want the stickers to hold up to many games and sticky fingers, you may choose to coat the sticker side with Mod Podge.

 

This is a fun project to do with your kids (or by yourself) while you are at the beach.

Collect some cool shells, beach glass or driftwood. Use a broken shell with a sharp edge to write your name or message in the sand. Decorate your scene with the shells, etc. Take oodles of pictures. Try different angles and different distances.

When you get home pick out your favorite. And then you can use your favorite photo editing software or one of these great free websites Picnik or Sumo Paint– to make color corrections, cropping, etc.

Print your picture out and put it in a cute frame.

I debated whether or not to add shells and sea glass to the outside of the frame. The kids voted and we decided to add them with hot glue (or you could use E-6000) to the frame.

Then hang your sign on a door or set it up on your desk. You be the boss!

Two weeks ago I was thrilled when one of you wonderful readers signed on to become my 100th follower! What a milestone for a relatively new blog.

This lucky, 100th follower was Sharon, who has an equally amazing blog called This Thrifty House. If you haven’t been to her blog, you have to check out some of her projects!

Here is just a small sample of some of her creative juices flowing:

 
As a BIG thank you to Sharon for signing on as a follower, I had to make her something special. I took pictures and wanted to create a tutorial for you, but I’ve had to sit on my fingers to keep from spilling the beans before she received it.

So, the time has come, Sharon received my package in the mail, and without further delay, here is the tutorial!

Before the end of school I made four of these beautiful decorative books for my sons’ teachers. They looked so pretty that I didn’t have to wrap them in gift wrap.

I simply tied a bow around them and gave them to the teachers. Imagine their surprise when they opened them to find…

a gift card to Borders!

Now they have a pretty book to decorate with and a secret compartment for hiding something.

To make these decorative books with storage you will need:

1 Thick hardback book (I buy these for super cheap at Goodwill or use one of your own)
2 sheets of decorative scrapbook paper (12″ x 12″)
1 sheet of coordinating decorative scrapbook paper for the spine
Rubber cement
Scotch Tape
Xacto blades
Metal ruler (or ruler with a metal edge)
Mod Podge
Gold acrylic paint (optional)
Wax paper (save the liners from cereal boxes and never buy wax paper again)
Heavy weights

and most importantly….patience.

Begin by removing the dust cover or jacket from your book.

Open your book a few pages to determine where you want your hole to be. I usually leave a few pages in the front for more secrecy. Lay your gift card or item to hide on the page and trace out a rectangle guide for cutting. Use your x-acto blade and ruler to cut out one or two pages.

Put a piece of wax paper between your first cut page and the rest of the pages. Put a second piece of wax paper between the back cover of your book and the last page of your book. This keeps the paint/mod podge mixture from getting on the areas of the book you want to keep clean.

Now, mix your mod podge with a small bit of gold acrylic paint and brush the gold mod podge on the three sides of your book pages. Be sure you have covered your pages well.

 

Now, close your book (being sure that the wax paper is still protecting the back cover and the reserved page.) Get your heavy weight (hooray, finally a use for those heavy free weights that take up valuable closet space.) Do one bicep curl and drop the weight on top of your book.

Wait about 30 minutes for the modge podge to dry. While I’m waiting I put a piece of saran wrap over my mod podge mixture and paint brush and stored it in the fridge to keep it from drying out.

While you wait for the book to dry, you can assemble your decorative book cover.

(1) Butt your two scrapbook pages together and (2) put a piece of scotch tape along the seam.

Use the removed cover of your book (or measure the book) to figure out how tall you want your decorative cover to be. Trim your cover down to the correct height. Next determine how wide you want your decorative spine to be. Mine is the width of the book plus 2 inches. Cut your spine paper to size width-wise.

Center the spine on your book cover and draw a light pencil line on the book cover around the spine edges. (3) Open your rubber cement and coat your spine with a coat of rubber cement. Let it dry slightly while you (4) put another coat on the book cover in between the guide lines you drew on the cover. To get a strong bond with rubber cement you need two coats (one on the surface you are attaching, and the other on the surface you are gluing the piece to. This is standard for rubber cement unless you happen to purchase one coat rubber cement. (5) While the pieces are still tacky, gently lay the spine on top of the cover. You only have one shot at this, so go slow. Press the paper together. (6) Then run your finger along the spine edges wiping up any rubber cement (go ahead, you know you want to make little fake boogies!) Now, take your ruler and xacto and trim off the excess top of the spine.

 
Set your cover aside and check on your book. If the modge podge is dry, go ahead and open the book. Now, put your patience cap on.

You will continue to keep your one reserve page separate, but use it to draw your guide lines on the first page of the glued pages. Then be sure to protect that one reserve page so you can cover up your jagged cut lines later.

Use your ruler and a VERY sharp brand new xacto blade (you may go through 1 or 2 more blades during this part. Be sure to change your blade if the blade starts to pull pieces of the pages with it instead of cutting through them.) Gently but firmly cut along your guide lines. BE SURE TO KEEP YOUR FINGERS AWAY FROM THE RULER EDGE! (You don’t need to loose a finger, unless you are a two finger typer.)

Score a few times in the same spot being sure to press firm but not too hard as to break your blade. Try to be sure that you are cutting all the way to your corners. My method was to cut 4-5 times along one line, then rotate the book 90 degrees and repeat.

When you have cut through several pages, pull them out (cutting any corners that are still attached.) Now repeat, repeat, repeat……..until you have reached the desired depth for your hidden storage area. Phew, do you have a hand cramp yet? Hopefully that is all you have, no cuts I hope.

Now, clean up any edges of your opening.

Get your gold mod podge out of the fridge and seal the edges of your opening and paint the bottom of your opening.

Then paint the exterior edges around your opening (the first page in your glued stack.) NOW, lay your reserved page on top of this one and you have a clean border!

Put a piece of wax paper on top of your reserve page and pick up your weight. Use your opposite arm and do one bicep curl and drop that weight back on the book! There, you did your workout for today. Feel better?! No? Well then take the next 30 minutes to work out.

After 30 minutes open your book. (1) Lay your decorative cover over your book, making sure the edges are even. (2) Fold the top edge over your book front cover. (3) Then repeat for the back cover.

Stand back and admire.

Too pretty to give away, isn’t it?
Just think how happy the recipient will be!

Again, thank you to all my followers! I will have another surprise gift if I reach 500 followers. Next time I will pick one of you at random. So, tell your friends and family. Send them on over to be empowered at PrettyHandyGirl.com!

If you have been following my blog, you may remember this light fixture that I rescued bought at our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Read below for a Pottery Barn Inspired Lantern.

Originally I thought about using it as a light in our foyer, but that plan changed after I found myself drooling over these lanterns at Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware. I love going into PB & RH, but rarely have the nerve to plunk down the money they want to steal
claim from my wallet.

Instead, I decided to transform my dated light fixture from the ReStore into a stylish lantern.

This is a relatively easy project that anyone can do! Yes, that means you.

Begin by removing the glass from the light fixture. (A note of caution: You should wear gloves. In other words, do as I say, not as I do!)

My light fixture had little metal prongs that easily bent to release the glass.

Next take apart your light fixture. Just start trying to unscrew parts. If they resist, grab your pliers.

I decided to save the wires, ceiling canopy and other wiring parts. Who knows, perhaps I will want to use it as our foyer light some day.

Okay, okay, also because I am a bit of a pack rat. I’m admitting one of my faults here: not being able to throw anything away. Don’t get me wrong, the producers of Hoarders are not knocking down my door, but I would prefer to Craig’s List, FreeCycle, reuse, or recycle anything I can’t use.

When all the parts were separated from the lamp, I needed to break the chain to the top of the light fixture. Here is an easy way to open up links in a chain that is not soldered together.

Place two screwdrivers inside the link you want to break. Lean one to the left and one to the right and apply pressure in opposite directions. The link should separate enough for you to remove the chain.

While the lantern is in pieces, you can rough up all the metal surfaces with sand paper. I actually did this to all the parts so I could paint them and potentially use them in the future. Wipe off the metal with a damp rag to remove any particles.

Now, you can re-assemble your light fixture (using only the parts you need to make your decorative lantern.)

I used brown Rustoleum spray primer. I like using a darker primer when my top coat color will be dark.

Be sure to rotate the parts and the lantern so you get all the sides coated with primer.

Now the most gratifying step, spray your lantern with your finished color. I coated the lantern with 3 light coats of a satin black spray paint to allow the lantern to look less new and more like old rustic iron.

And here is my new (old) Pottery Barn inspired lantern! $5 for the lantern + $6 for spray paint  = $11

What do you think of that, Mr. Pottery Barn merchandiser who wants to charge me $59 for the same size lantern?

Update: I received several emails and comments on this lantern and a few of you have been inspired to create your own! If you post it in your blog, I’d love to share your results.

Amanda at The Hand Me Down House, shows how she painted hers. She made the glass look like colored glass with Modge Podge and food coloring! Yes, you read that right. See her tutorial here.

Magnetic Mailbox Cover | Pretty Handy Girl

Several years ago I painted a mailbox for my stepmom (the wonderfully talented author, Diane Chamberlain). Her house was on a busy street and the mailboxes on this street were a prime target for mailbox baseball. I wanted to paint her mailbox as a surprise for her birthday, but the thought of spending hours painting the mailbox only to have it bashed did not appeal to me. Plus, this was supposed to be a surprise, and she might notice if her mailbox was gone for a few days (you think?!)

I came up with a solution that worked brilliantly! I painted the design onto automobile magnetic sign material (purchased from a sign shop for about $20). Wrapped it around her metal (won’t work on plastic mailboxes) mailbox and drilled the mounting screws through the magnetic material and the mailbox.

Believe it or not, that mailbox never took a hit by a bat (to my knowledge).

Here is how I did it:
First I wrapped the magnetic around her mailbox and cut it down to size. Then I traced the locations that needed to be cut out (bottom door hinges and flag bracket). The magnetic material cuts very easily with an x-acto knife or utility knife. Read more

A few years ago while I was trying to entertain my toddler, we made sun prints on a hot summer day.

What! You’ve never heard of sunprints? Well, you really need to get your crafty hands on this hot product. Visit the Sunprints.org website to see all the details, plus a gallery of sunprint artwork!

Okay, don’t feel bad. I never saw it either until I happened upon this pack at our art museum gift shop. I bought some in the hopes of filling an hour of some weekday while waiting patiently for my hubby to come home.

As nature lovers, we collected grass, leaves, and even weeds from our yard. Then we had a blast laying the leaves on top of the sunprint paper. After 2-5 minutes of exposure, we dipped the paper in cold water. It was fun watching the paper turn blue and the silhouetted images appear before our eyes. (Okay, I won’t pretend that we didn’t enjoy playing in the bucket of cool water too!)

Several of them turned out so nice that I decided to frame them as art. Not only did I like the graphic look of the images, but the soft blue colors really appealed to me. I became so attached to the colors in the artwork that we painted our whole master bedroom the light color of the sunprints.

 

 Mimosa tree

 

Clover

 

Some weed in our garden

I found it a bit difficult to find the perfect square floating frames. Instead, I found regular square frames at Target for $19.99 a piece, and decided to buy them on the spot.  When I got home I had a brilliant idea on how to fake the floating glass frame look.

After we painted the room, I took some mat board and rolled the wall color on the mats. (It works best to use a mat that is somewhat close to the color of your walls.)

When the boards dried, I used my logan mat cutter and created custom mats.

Can you tell they are matted vs. floating? Maybe if you look close, otherwise, they appear to float in the frame!

So, you are accomplished at hanging three pictures so they are equal distance and the same height, right? If not, check back for my post on how to hang pictures to perfection.