Woodland Themed Birthday Party

Woodland Themed Birthday Party

Okay, I have been missing in action from the blog here lately. My obsessive mind has locked onto my photography hobby as of late and the thought of actually becoming a part time pro photographer has taken hold. So I have been reading books, doing workshops and shooting for my portfolio all in the hopes of feeling ready to hang my shingle come spring. So if you want to check out what I have been up to hop on over here to my photography site CaraDanielPhotography. It is a work in progress, I will be adding about me, session info etc pages once I am ready to go for it.

Anyway, that doesn’t mean I don’t still have projects at home, of course, I do. We are actually up to quite a few right now which I will be revealing in the next couple months. Anyway, let’s get to this woodland themed party. I had big plans and ideas for this party because I figured it was the last one my little jbug wouldn’t have a strong opinion about. I can’t believe she is three already. How did that happen! The woodland theme originated while looking through a Better Homes and Garden magazine and running across these adorable paper woodland animals.

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I loved them and thus a huge list of ideas started making their way into my head. I kept thinking I have plenty of time, unfortunately that wasn’t true and many of the ideas didn’t make it off the paper but I will tell you a few so you can make your party even better than mine.
So here are the ideas that actually made it to the party.

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A stump cake with super cute animal candles including acorn cookies. The acorns are just nutter butter bites with a hershey kiss on one side and a chocolate chip on the other. “Glue” them together with chocolate melts.

Toadstool” Tomato and Mozzarella (which I didn’t get a pic of)

 

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Pond punch, although the frogs and lily pads didn’t make it to the party. Ginger Ale, Blue Hawaiian Punch and Rainbow Sherbert. Super easy.

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Hedgehog cookies. Mine weren’t quite as cute as the pinterest ones I saw but they tasted good. I cheated and used Pumpkin Spice Milano cookies instead of baking any from scratch. I then dipped them in chocolate melts rolled them in crushed pecans, added wilton eyes and a chocolate chip nose.

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Store bought cupcakes with sugar animals (FYI Walmart has the best cupcakes, better than most specialty bakeries in my opinion. Check out the Kimberly’s Bake Shoppe brand. So Good!) Don’t look at the fat content though just enjoy.

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A fox floor poof which she didn’t actually sit on to open gifts as planned. Post to come on this.

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Woodland Memory Match Games with adorable storage bags (favors for the kiddos). Post to come on this as well.

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I also found this cute owl plate for $2 at walmart

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and these super cute fox napkins.

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I used small wood rounds from hobby lobby for food labels.

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Jbug wore a super cute fox shirt from gymboree

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For the table I used some cute owl fabric I had originally purchased back for Jbug’s nursery.

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The 3 is a cardboard number from Hobby Lobby I wrapped in Yarn.

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Of course, my paper animals!

I had a whole bunch of ideas for garlands and décor: Giant Yarn Pom Poms, small felt pompoms (which I made but didn’t get hung), Paper garlands, burlap ruffled garland. I even had Jocelyn paint on some burlap to make one of those triangle garlands. Anyway the only garland that made it up was a paper circle one which was super easy and fast.

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I used a circle paper punch and jbug helped me punch a whole bunch of circles out of colored cardstock. I then put a line of hot glue on a circle and layered on the twine and another circle. Super quick and easy. It fell during the party and Jbug yelled, “Mom MOM help! My party fall down!” It was an emergency.
I had wanted to make a cupcake stand out of a round of wood, get some mason jars to use as glasses and have animal eye masks and tails for the kids. That didn’t happen so if you do a woodland theme party do that it would be really cute! The thing I wish I had done was the photo booth. I actually ordered the  digital kit for the props from this etsy shop and printed them but didn’t get them cut out and glued to the sticks. How fun would these have been!

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Anyway, the party turned out great and everyone had fun especially Jbug! I promise to be back soon to let you in on the details of the fox floor poof and the memory match woodland game. Hope all your holiday decorating and shopping is going well!

IKEA Hack: Floating BESTA media center and desk with wood accented doors

IKEA Hack: Floating Besta media center and desk with wood accented doors

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Wow, I have been lazy on posting lately. I’ve been sidetracked by one of my many other hobbies (photography). I’m still very slowly working on transforming our living room into a space we not only love but that functions better for our whole family.
I’m not exactly sure how I decided I wanted a floating media center but once the idea seed sprouted I couldn’t let it go. After, a lot of frustration our floating media center/desk is here!
Our original plan when we bought our new furniture was to put the desk on the other side of the room. We could never get it to look right though so it ended up beside the tv stand. Two wooden pieces of furniture beside each other just don’t look good so something had to be done.

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My criteria for the new media piece included it be floating (not sure why), have a desk area and closed storage and look like my inspiration piece.

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Not too much to ask right? After a trip to IKEA I came home with some Besta cabinets, suspension rails, and plain doors. Then it sat in the basement for over a year and a half. I’m not kidding at all. It took that long for me to get started. At some point my brother and I did put them together but then the completed cabinets sat in the basement. So here we are a year and a half later and the media center/desk is complete….almost.
First I hung 2 single Besta cabinets and one double using the Ikea suspension rail. I left space between two of them where I wanted our desk to be. Getting them level was a bit of a pain but not too bad. The next part was when I started regretting making the thing floating. I had to cut holes EVERYWHERE to fit in all the media components and wires. I thought about the tv and power wires but not the surround sound, phone lines, etc. Why do we need surround sound anyway with those ugly speakers! Working my way through routing and hiding the cables took forever and made me very grumpy about the entire project. I did finally figure it all out though and was able to move on to the next step. Making a long table top. I did this by attaching 2 edge glued panels together and staining them with Minwax ebony stain. I’m not good with poly and there were some runs but overall it turned out pretty decently.

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I ran a few screw up through the cabinet to secure it. Then we had to make a hole in the countertop to run the computer wires. Halfway through all the hole making I did buy a hole cutter and that made the job 1000% easier and prettier.
Next came the doors. I wanted to add interest to the plain doors but keep with the wood tone. I absolutely love the look of the inspiration piece but I’m sure it was WAY WAY out of my price range and not the right dimensions. So I decided to use pre glued wood edge banding to create a diamond pattern.

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I of course thought this wouldn’t be that hard but of course, like always, it wasn’t as easy as I had planned. Measuring out and placing the first diamond was the worst. My first diamond was the one that touches all 4 sides since it was the easiest to measure. Things sped up once I figured out that the section under the overlap didn’t need to be cut perfectly since it is covered up. After I got the first diamond in place I just eyeballed the rest and didn’t measure. After the doors were finished I stained them with Minwax Red Chesnut and hung them.  I’m thinking about adding another coat of stain to darken them up a little more.

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Greg didn’t want a door over his media equipment which at first disappointed me but is actually for the best.

IKEA hack Besta floating media center-2-3 The media equipment doesn’t get too hot and I don’t need to make another door! My next step is to make floor puffs to store under it for extra seating (and hide the direct tv wire).
I like how it fills the whole wall but is lower so doesn’t seem too big. The wall actually looks longer now.

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Our desk is working out well and my Rub n Restore Leather chair looks great with the diamond pattern.

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So what do you think? Floating media center or legs? For future I will go with legs.

Attractive Modern Ceiling Fan

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I don’t love the look of a ceiling fan but we use ours every day all year round so I really can’t replace it with a pretty chandelier as much as I would love to do just that! I wanted this fan from Del Mar so badly after seeing it at vintage revivals.

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I just couldn’t wrap my head around spending $399 on a fan though so I kept my eyes open for modern, reasonably priced fans. Then the week before Labor Day I got an email from Home Depot saying ceiling fans were 25% off. Luckily, our fan had started making a ticking noise, so that was our excuse to get a new one. It probably just needed balanced but we wanted a new fan anyway. Greg and I both liked this Westinghouse fan but still preferred the look of the Del Mar fan. After reading reviews on both fans, the Home Depot one won out. It only ended up costing $103 and they shipped it right to us (quickly). After a couple frustrating hours Greg had it hung and we really loved the modern look and how it blended with the room’s decor.

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Unfortunately, when we went to turn the fan on with the remote it also turned on our porch fans. The fans weren’t even by the same brand and were manufactured 9 years apart so we really didn’t expect them to interfere with each other. The thought of taking all the wiring apart again did NOT make Greg happy at all.. Luckily, after taking off the canopy I could reach the switches without messing with any wiring. It only took about 3 minutes. Now that we know how easy it is to change the frequency we need to do the same to our porch fans. One of them turns on at random and we think it must be on the same frequency as the neighbors’. So we were probably driving them completely crazy when we were installing and messing with the new fan. Anyway, for a ceiling fan I think this one is a winner and especially for the price. So what is your opinion on ceiling fans? Do you love them or would you rather have a pretty light instead?

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New Rug for the Hallway: Sewing 2 rugs together

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The hall has not even been on my radar as far as decorating. So many other rooms and projects were on the list before it. Our hallway is narrow and boring and the only thing I have done to change that is adding these lights, which was a nice start.

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Then one day I got an email from Joss & Main with really fun rugs and I couldn’t come up with a spot I needed a rug, except the hall. But with the no return policy I couldn’t pull the trigger. I really think the only way to tell if a rug works is to have it in your space so not being able to return is a no go for me. The idea seed was planted though and I turned into an obsessive rug runner shopper and ended up purchasing a rug similar to this one from overstock which I really liked. It added so much to the hall, was nice and thick and just so much fun. I had purchased the 12 foot rug because that is the longest they had. I thought it looked fine but Greg HATED the length. It stopped right before the hallway turned and he thought it needed to go all the way. Since he felt so strongly about it, I returned it and kept searching. I was disappointed when I realized it isn’t easy to find a colorful, fun, reasonably priced 14-15 foot runner. In Jbug’s room I had used rug tape to tape 2 rugs together and they had held up really well so I figured I could do the same for the hall. There were way more 7’ and 8’ rugs to choose from and I found this great one at overstock. They only had one in stock though so ended up ordering from ebay. I was soooo excited when I opened the rug and loved it and amazingly so did Greg. Unfortunately that excitement plummeted after I opened the second one. They didn’t match. Noooooooo!

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Hmmm, I thought maybe I could order a third rug and it would match one of them. Oh and Greg still wanted it longer so I figured I would order an 8’ this time around. On to the next hurdle, I went to open the closet door and guess what? It can’t open because the rug is too thick. Are you kidding me! By this point I am in love with the pattern of the rug and just want it somewhere in my home. I thought about Jbug’s big girl room but I didn’t have a real plan for her room yet. I also thought it may work for my closet makeover BUT with all the clothes and shoes back in the closet this crazy of a rug may just be too busy. So I am back to the hallway. Just remember where there is a WILL there is a WAY! I ordered a 3rd 8 foot rug from overstock and wished for the best. You have to just go for it sometimes, you know. Apparently this rug was not meant to be for me. The one from overstock somehow got lost and it had been the last one in stock. I ended up sending my ebay rugs back which cost WAY too much in return shipping. Then about a week or more later the overstock rug appeared on my doorstep. I had to peek just to see if it would have matched one of my original rugs. It didn’t so I was glad it was so late and declared lost because overstock then paid the return shipping. So now 4 rugs have been sent back and I have learned to only buy a rug I know I absolutely want to keep or that I can return locally. I was kind of giving up on the rug idea when I ran across these rugs on clearance at urban outfitters. We do have an urban outfitters in town so there was no risk plus free shipping over $50. I didn’t expect to like this rug as much as I do.

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It is light enough to brighten up the hall and I love the big scale print. Plus both rugs match each other AND it is thin enough for the door to open over it. Win, win. I did have to sew the 2 together which is not easily hidden on a flat weave rug but I think it turned out okay. For $39.98 I can’t really complain. To sew the two together I matched up the pattern as best I could, pinned and then just ran it through my sewing machine. I used a wide stitch since there was a lot of fabric. Next I trimmed off the excess. The patterns were a little off from each rug but I tried to match as best as I could.

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I also got a thin rug pad from rugpadusa to keep it from slipping and to protect the floor. I think it adds a lot to our hallway.The seam does bother me a little so someday when I do something about the closet door (I’m thinking sliding barn door) I will look for a thicker, plush rug where I can hind the seam. If you are in the market for a rug RugsUSA has a great selection and is having a huge labor day sale. I just ordered this one for Jbug’s big girl room for 70% off.

Here is a quick WAY before and after.

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I originally thought the hallway was too narrow for artwork but I couldn’t find anywhere else for this painting. I had it made for my husband as a wedding gift and the artist used a gloss coating. We have a lot of natural light in our home and everywhere we try to hang it there is always a huge glare across it. The hallway seems to be the only place it can actually be appreciated so for now that is where it lives. I’m trying to decide what I can add to the other wall to balance it out.  Do you think the hall is too narrow for artwork?

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Where’s Mom? How to get photos with your kids

One of my goals this year is to catch up with Jbug’s photo books. She isn’t even 3 yet so if I don’t catch up now I never will. As I was working on her first year book I realized that I am not in many pictures with her. Which is funny because she was pretty much glued to me 24/7 for the first 12 weeks of her life. She has always been a mommy’s girl and is still my constant shadow. But if you look at photos you would think she doesn’t even have a mom or maybe I work 100 hour work weeks and am never around. I think this happens to a lot of moms since we are usually the photographers of the family. Plus, I think the fancier your camera is the less likely dad is to want to use it. I have a few ideas if you find yourself missing from the pages of your family albums as well.

1. Get a tripod and a remote control
You can get a tripod or even a mini tripod for pretty cheap and the same goes for remote controls. Just make sure to get one that is compatible with your camera. You can also use the self timer on your camera if you don’t want to mess with the remote. It just makes it a little harder running back and forth and trying to get a natural, relaxed photo. Plus Jbug tends to run out of the frame after me so I have to get us both back in position before the camera clicks.

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2. Take photos that show your relationship without showing your face
Take photos of your feet next to your child’s or hands or even shadows. Get creative. There are lots of fun ways to show a bond without faces. These photos are great for splurging on canvases or large prints too because they don’t get outdated quickly as your children grow.

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3. Pass the camera to daddy
I think most husbands are more than willing to take some photos for you. You just have to ask and set up the camera so he just needs to push the button. Most guys don’t think photos are that important so I don’t think they are trying to leave us out. Just like many things- Men need it spelled out for them. TAKE MY PICTURE!

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4. Have another friend with kids take photos for you
Next time you meet up at the park with a girlfriend plan to look cute and snap some pictures of each other with your kiddos. That way you both walk away with some cute pics and help each other at the same time. I haven’t done this yet but I plan to very soon.
5. Hire a pro
Hiring a photographer is completely worth it to me to get the whole family interacting and hopefully looking like they like each other. Make sure to get poses of just you and your hubby and each parent with the kids too. Those types of photos make really nice gallery wall groupings.

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6. Most Important: Don’t be hard on yourself!
I think every woman is her worst critic. Don’t delete every photo that you feel you don’t look perfect in. Look at the interaction between you and your child and let the photo capture that memory for you. Think about what you look at when you look back at family photos of yourself as a child. Do you think “wow, mom should have turned her hips, they look huge” or “look at those double chins”. I’m guessing you don’t and you are just happy to have photos with your parents. Your children will feel the same way.

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Sorry, no posts lately. I’ve been working on a biggish project which is almost finished and I will be posting it soon.

 

Another Rub n Restore Review: Leather Westnofa ottoman

Another Rub n Restore Review: Leather Westnofa ottoman.

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I was buying some craigslist 70s dining chairs in a town about an hour or so away and decided to stop by a little thrift shop I had read about online. The shop had so many neat furniture pieces. It was packed full of furniture, 3 floors worth. Some of it was new, outlet items from Home Decorators and lots of vintage finds as well. I saw a lot of interesting pieces if only I had the basement finished or more room. The way our house is configured there just isn’t a lot of room for extra furniture pieces. Plus I am trying to be good and only drag home things I have a place for right now. Here are some of the things I wish I could have brought home.

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And here is the one thing I did. Future makeover to come!

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Honestly it is all that would fit in the SUV with my chairs. Anyway, I just forgot what the point of this post was….oh, I also saw a bentwood ottoman with a leather pad. The leather was stained and faded and was priced at $49 so I passed it up.

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But I kept thinking about it and figured out a place for it to live. I was going back to visit family a month later and decided to swing by and see if it was still there. It was so I offered $35 and happily took it home. Jbug helped carry the pad to the car and we ran across the other owner of the shop on the street. He said he was glad someone finally bought it and that he had one just like it at home, it just needed a new pad and it was by a well known designer. So besides the store owner I guess I was the only one who saw the potential in this little ottoman. Mainly because I now know how to dye leather to the color I want with Rub N Restore. Check out my desk chair I made over with Rub n Restore. It is holding up really well so far. I still had over half a bottle of the ivory left so that is how I chose my color. Plus it will go with anything. I actually did like the faded flesh colored leather but it had some gross looking stains which wouldn’t scrub off.

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The original color which I could see on the inside of the cushion was actually this cognac color. I found a pic of this ottoman online.

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That is some major fading! Anyway here is the makeover of my Westnofa Siesta ottoman. Start out by stirring the rub n restore well, then squirt a little on a damp sponge. Rub it over the piece in a thin layer and let dry. It will take quite a few layers. I think I did 7 or more. It dries really fast. I had a harder time with this piece than my office chair because the leather was soft and there were creases in the cushion. A few of the creases had a little build up and were crusty. I lightly sanded them and added another light coat. For the seams and around the buttons I found it was easiest to use a tiny paint brush.

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I used the brush to apply the final coat in areas I was having a hard time getting coverage as well. After it was all dry I applied the top coat which I had decided not to use on my office chair. The top coat made it a little more shiny than I wanted so I added another thin coat of Rub n Restore. That muted the shine and left the perfect soft satiny leather look I was after. The leather is still soft to the touch and looks new.

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It looks like leather, feels like leather and in no way looks painted. The bentwood was in great shape so I just used a little Method Wood for good polish to clean it up.

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As of now this little ottoman is going to live in my closet but it may end up in Jbug’s big girl room next to her bed. We will see if I want to give it up by then. If you want more info on Rub n Restore please see my original post which addresses nail head trim as well. So what do you think? Would you have passed up this little ottoman?

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I wanted to add some outtake photos too. This is why it sometimes takes me awhile to get projects up on the blog. As soon as I try to get some nice daylight photos someone rushes in for an impromptu photo shoot of her friends.

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She also has to “approve” each photo taken and says “AHHHHWWWW”.

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So getting these photos actually took a week and three separate attempts! The photos don’t do it justice either. It looks much better in person.

 

Succulent Planter and DIY Hanging Solar Lights

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I’m having fun adding some life to our porch this year. We have had these 3 candle holders hanging on the porch for a couple summers now. They look fine but the problem is you can pretty much never burn real candles because of the wind, plus I wouldn’t want to catch our outdoor curtains on fire (See this post to find out how to keep your curtains from blowing in the wind). I tried to use battery operated candles but it was a hassle to turn them all on and take them in during bad weather. So my candle holders just hung there empty all summer long. This year that all changed.
Let’s start with the large orb candle holder.

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I thought this would make a great succulent planter so I ran to home depot and bought some cute succulents. I planted them all and they looked cute for a short time. Then they started dying. I know I have a brown thumb but I really thought I could keep succulents alive! I’m guessing they were getting too much rain or beat up too much by the wind or the pots were too small. Obviously I have no idea why they were giving up on life. Anyway, don’t worry no plants were harmed in this project. I replanted them in a large pot and placed it under the porch where it won’t get rain. Amazingly all the plants bounced back. Maybe my thumb is more tan than brown after all.

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Actually I have to give my husband credit for saving the plants lives. After the 10th time of him telling me they were dying and needed repotted I finally did it. Notice all the other beautiful plants in the yard?

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Yeah, I have nothing to do with that.

As luck would have it I was browsing Michaels and found cute little faux succulents already potted in white planters. I think I can maintain fake plants pretty well. I hadn’t been to Michaels in a bit and was surprised to find a little section with all kinds of cute miscellaneous items for a few bucks each. The succulents came 2 to a pack and were $3 I think. They look a little fake if you are too close but they are perfect for what I needed them for. Because the planters were square they didn’t quite fit all the way down into my candle holder. To remedy this I used E600 glue to glue metal washers to the inside of the candle holder and then glued my planter to the washers. I tried hot glue but it didn’t stick to the metal. I really like how it turned out. So far these little plants have been able to stand up to the rain, sun and wind with no problems and the best part is I can’t kill them.

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The smaller wire candle holders honestly look just fine without anything in them but I wanted to make them more functional.

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First I brightened them up with some rustoleum spray paint I had in my spray paint collection. It was really easy to turn them into solar pendant lights taking about 5 minutes and $3 worth of materials purchased from dollar tree. All you need is a solar light (the kind that have stakes) and floral wire. Take the cup that holds the candle out of the candle holder and flip it over. After removing the solar light from its stake it will fit right into the candle holder. Then use floral wire to secure the light in place and shape a loop to hang it by.

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I wasn’t sure if the solar lights would get enough sun but they do. They actually stay lit all night too which really surprised me, especially considering they cost a buck each.

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I peek out at them every night before bed, they are just so cute. Now I want to turn everything into a solar pendant light!