DIY: Make Your State Wall Art


Can I wax contemplative for a minute? Home is both where I’m from and also where I am now. My Midwestern roots feel less like home in some ways, now that I’ve lived in a major city for almost seven years. I’ve found that living in a city changes you – the way you see the world shifts to a wider angle lens as you come into contact with a vast variety of perspectives. At the same time, I’ve felt more homesick for the Midwest over the last couple years than I have in the entire time we’ve lived in Arizona, because once I had Edison, I realized just how important roots are for support. Sometimes I feel like a branch with a heavy burden tied to it, that’s just been stuck in the dirt, struggling to stay upright.

But as I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I’m working on this whole “rooted” thing by reading This is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live. One of the practical takeaways so far has been that people who love where they live act like they love it – just think of “Don’t mess with Texas” pride. People who love where they live do things to take care of their place and show a sense of ownership. I’m pretty sure that Texans are the only people to get tattoos of their state on their bodies.

I’m not ready for that level of commitment yet, but I did want to pay tribute to my roots as well as all the amazing experiences and adventures Arizona has brought me in the last seven years – pretty much all of which I’ve documented on this blog, in fact!

At a local mom-made craft and business fair (side note: another habit of people who love where they live is shopping locally) I bought this wooden outline of Iowa for about $6. As soon as I got home, I started kicking myself for not getting a matching one of Arizona. But then, I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to figure out how to DIY one – no scroll saw required! And, it only cost a few cents to make!

You will need:

  • A square piece of wood, or a square canvas for your background. I happened to have some leftover square pieces of wood from our kitchen shelf project.
  • White paint for covering your wood or canvas background.
  • Sandpaper. This is optional, if you like the distressed farmhouse look. 
  • Metal picture hanging bracket.
  • Super glue. I used Loctite 411 because it’s what I found in the garage.
  • Balsa wood – I got a piece large enough to make 5 or six states for $5 at Joanns.
  • Craft knife.
  • Watercolor paint in black and brown (you’ll see why!).
Step 1: Paint your square piece of wood or canvas white and let it dry. I also painted the edges of mine copper, because … copper. 

Step 2: Sand your piece of wood if you’d like a distressed farmhouse look. 

Step 3: Use your super glue to attach the metal bracket to the back. I know what you’re thinking, but yes, this Loctite 411 glue will absolutely hold. It’s crazy strong, and this was much easier to me than trying to find little nails to attach the bracket, but you could go that route if you really wanted.

Step 4: Google “*Your state here* outline” and print off one of the options. I found one of Arizona that matched the size of the Iowa one perfectly.

Step 5: Cut out your state, and place it over your piece of balsa wood. Trace around it with a pencil, and cut it out with your craft knife. I cut out two, so that I could match the thickness of the purchased Iowa cutout.

Step 6: Carefully sand the edges if they’re a bit rough. Balsa wood is extremely soft, so proceed with caution. Glue your pieces together if you’re doubling up like I did. I used Elmer’s glue, and put a book on top of the state while it was drying so that it didn’t bow.

Step 7: Now it’s time to break out the watercolors. Make a dark brown mixture, and paint the edges of your state. This gives it a lovely wood-burned effect.

Smudge the edges with your brush to mimic the effect of wood-burning, basically allowing the super dark edges to bleed over a bit. Then, wet the surface of the state with your brush, and go over it with a light brown wash.

It looks a little dark initially, but it will dry lighter. Place a book, or something flat and heavy, on top to prevent bowing while it dries.

Step 8: Glue your states onto your canvas or wood background! I used good old Elmer’s for this again. Once it dries, you’re ready to hang your art!
Now this wall begins with where we’re from, ends with where we are, and has some aspirational locations in the middle. 
I still have plenty of balsa wood left, and used mostly things I already had, so this project probably cost me less than a dollar to make! 
If you were going to make state art, what state would you choose? Let me know in the comments below or on social media!

DIY: How to Make This Easy Copper Heart Art from Contact Paper

You may be noticing a trend. I’ve been a big fan of rose gold/copper for a long time, and it’s finally starting to show up all over my house, starting with my kitchen shelves. 
I’ve also found ways to incorporate it into the rest of the house, thanks to great finds from Anthropologie and Target.
I made a mini version of this artwork first, for Brian’s Valentine’s Day gift. 
I liked how it turned out so much, that I made the bigger version.

You’ll Need: 

  • Blank canvas. I bought a two pack from Hobby Lobby, for less than $15.
  • Copper contact paper. I used this from Amazon, and love it.
  • Scissors.


1. Cut the contact paper into strips. Mine are about two inches wide. 
2. Cut the strips into squares. Cut the squares into triangles. 
3. Layout your heart, marking rows lightly on your canvas with a pencil. 
4. Peel and stick the triangles to the canvas. 

Simple, elegant, and easy –  just the way I like my DIY. 

If my copper obsession continues at this rate, I may need an intervention. 

You could of course create something like this with gold contact paper, marble contact paper, or wrapping paper, wall paper, or scrapbooking paper and glue. The possibilities are endless!

DIY: Mini Living Room Gallery Wall

There are times, as all avid thrift shoppers know, when you may find something very interesting, and yet you know, deep down, you have no use for it. Things like, revolutionary embroidery.

Or cat portraits … disturbing on so many levels. 

But one thing I’ve found that you can always count on thrift store shopping for, is an abundance of unique frames. Sometimes, they just need a little paint or polish, and an inexpensive gallery wall is within reach.

Also, all things copper, dishes, and random objects – I can’t always resist their siren call.
Step 1: clean off the goo from the price tag.

Step 2: apply painters tape on the glass for easy clean up.
Step 3: paint the frame, and allow to dry. Those little cans of sample paint you can get at Home Depot or Lowes are perfect for projects like this, and they only cost a couple dollars.
Step 4: sand the edges for a distressed finish, if you’re into that.

I choose frames with a metallic finish, so after sanding them, the gold or copper shone through. 
That was the easy part. Next is hanging them on the wall. 

For all of my galleries, I trace each frame onto paper and tape them to the wall to determine the layout. 

PS: the print that says “The days are long, but the years are short” is from Hand Lettered Design.

Remember that your frames don’t all have to include photos or art – you can frame unique, artful objects too. And you don’t always need a frame – decorative washi tape is a great way to display artwork you might like to switch out regularly. 
PS: the watercolor is from Hello Lovely People.


There are billions of beautiful art prints you can download and print for free online. Here’s a few of my favorite sources: 

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Beauty Find Friday: Five Things

1. New Blog Design!

Yep. I did. And I’m ok with that.

This photo and the corresponding color scheme inspired me to try something watercolored, clean, but just a little more whimsical and warm.


I simplified the sidebar, got rid of some ads and widgets, and moved things around. I also added an Instagram widget.
I have a few more ideas for some tweaks to this design, including adding some new pages. Any suggestions? What would you like to see? 

2. New Glasses! 

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I ordered a second home try-on from Warby Parker. I didn’t take a bunch of pictures of me wearing them this time, instead, I painted you a picture of them. Well, actually, I just painted them because I needed something to paint, they were handy, and they looked really cool.
I chose the Nedwin, in amber, which seems a lot darker than the try-on pair, but I love it even more. I’m still adjusting to my new prescription, but wow, these are fantastic glasses. They feel made to last forever, and I love, love, love how they look on me. They’re the perfect blend of nerd-chic I hoped for. 

3. Guest Post on Yellow Elm 

You know how much I love thrifting. But I know that not everyone does…yet. Thrift store shopping can be overwhelming, and sometimes you bringing home stuff that just ends up going back a few months later. So, when Elizabeth of Yellow Elm confessed that she wasn’t the best at thrifting, and asked me to share some how-tos on her blog, I happily obliged. Here’s Five Steps to Thrifting Success.

4. 30 Day Shredded!

In 2012, I made a New Year’s Resolution of doing Jillian Michaels – 30 Day Shred DVD. And I did it three times a week, for a couple weeks. I never got past level one. I decided during the last week of August to do it for real this time. 
My sister-in-law suggested staying on each level for only 10 days, and then moving on. Having a set time to move on, and doing it every day, made all the difference. And figuring out how to mute Jillian and still play the background music. Seriously.
I actually enjoyed it this time, and I’m SO much stronger then when I started. I actually have a little six pack! I finished it last week, and now, I’m training for a 5K. Talk about CRAZY. This is the girl who hates exercise and most especially, running! I’m really motivated by my weight loss last year, and by my husband, who has now adopted a healthy lifestyle and lost about 30 lbs. in five months. He wants to do a triathlon… I’m sticking with a 5K.

5. My Sister’s Getting Married!

I’m in Iowa right now for the occasion. Tonight is the bachelorette party, which will consist of camping… in the backyard. No need to sacrifice flushing toilets! That’s my kind of camping! 
I’m writing this on Tuesday, leaving tomorrow morning, and procrastinating from packing. I can’t believe my little sister is actually getting married. Got to try not to think about that yet, and save the tears for the reception. Ha! 
I’m hoping to convince her that we need a photo booth, like the one we made for my besties wedding last summer. If not, I’m sure I’ll find some other hair-brained last minute crafts to make! In the meantime, I’ll be soaking up the cold weather, changing leaves, and eating s’mores. 
Happy Friday! What beauty did you discover this week? Share it in the comments!

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Recent Projects: Woodland Nursery Decor Gifts

In addition to the easy cross pillowcase, I’ve been working on two other projects as baby gifts. Back when I was on that interior designing kick, I volunteered to help my expecting friend decorate her baby nursery. Since she wanted to incorporate green, especially forest green, she liked this collage I put together for a whimsical woodland nursery. 
My favorite elements of this nursery are the animal print alphabet poster and the felt fox pillow (I love that pillow so much that I included it in my 10 Back-to-School Crafts post). Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t find the alphabet poster for sale, and I didn’t have any felt. 
So, I incorporated the fox using supplies I already had: embroidery floss, fabric, and a small hoop. I downloaded this free fox pattern. Here’s the finished result:
Isn’t he cute?! I’m thinking about making a second one, after all, Young House Love might be right about the fox becoming the new “it” animal, replacing birds, owls, and giraffes.
The animal poster posed more of a challenge. Since I couldn’t buy it, I recreated it.
I used a few different animals than the ones in the other poster. 
Turns out, a Xenops is South American bird. 
Framed and ready to give! 
I always feel nervous when giving things that I’ve made, especially art, but in this case, my worries were completely unnecessary. My friend, and her kids, loved it. 
What have you been working on lately? I’d love to hear about it!

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DECOR: My Gallery Wall Progress

I figured out it’s not a delayed spring cleaning impulse that’s making me all gung-ho on decorating. It’s definitely because we signed our apartment lease to renew for another year. Yay for going a year without moving!
Remember my dining room gallery wall? 
That’s how it looked last fall. I edited the buffet top to include fewer wedding photos, and I hung the black “LOVE” letters on a different wall. I consolidated the random books scattered around the living room, and added the marble bust. It’s hard to see, but instead of the collage frame with our wedding photos, I used my thrift store score typewriter photo holder.
Since this is my craft and art space, I wanted the pictures I chose to reflect that. As my creative space, it’s usually somewhat chaotic, so I decided to go for a symmetrical picture arrangement to create some order. 
I kept the French poster, the Eiffel Tower photo, and blue jay painting by Brian’s great-grandmother. I added one of my watercolors, and then some kraft paper squares to symbolize where other art would go. 

I was able to fill one of the slots with the egg print, downloaded for free from The Graphics Fairy. I’m thinking about printing off some more, and maybe just hanging those. But for now, I’m going for the eclectic look.
I was about ready to call it good enough for now, when I remembered that I already had a small piece of art that would be just the right size. I painted the hands holding a heart several years ago as a present for Brian after we got engaged.

I think it fits with the other hand-painted art, the peonies and blue jay… at least they all have blue in common.

I also like how the pink in the peonies and the red of the heart tie in with my colorful DIY aztec tablecloth!

I just need one more little piece of art, and this wall will be done! Well, I’m sure this area of the dining room will go through more revisions, but I like how it’s coming along. If you’re interested in trying a gallery wall, the two how-to posts I linked to in the gallery inspiration post on Friday are super helpful to prevent your walls from looking like swiss cheese from nail holes.

In other home decor news, I bought this from Ikea last week. Happy Birthday to my feet! My bedroom design is coming together. 

I’m not sure what I’ll tackle next. What spaces in your home are on your list for some TLC? Let me know in the comments!

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The DIY Dreamer

Shop Update: Gingham and Custom Invitations

Here’s a little peek at something I’ve been working on… a custom invitation suite!

This suite has been a particular pleasure to create, since it’s for my sister’s wedding! The floral garlands are hand painted watercolors, digitally converted to create the design. Her wedding colors are peach and grey, and the flowers are based on this bouquet of peach peonies and pink roses.

I’ve also added new watercolored gingham invitations, in navy and green.

Something else is new as well – lower prices! I took a look at my costs, and realized that by switching from cotton paper to recycled paper, I could cut about $20 off the price. So, the invites are still eco-friendly, and the recycled paper has a great texture and thickness to it, so I thought it would be worthwhile to make the switch. 
If you’d like to bring the cost down even more, you’ll get a 15% off coupon when you subscribe to my newsletter! Plus, you’ll be the first to know about sales, new products, and exclusive deals.
If you’re interested in a custom order, take a look at my other invitations, and send me a message to discuss it. I’d love to bring your vision to life!

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Beauty Find Friday: #DailyArt Challenge

I mentioned on Monday that I was going to challenge myself to make art every day this week. Here’s how I did!


Chanel N.5
I had so much fun with this painting. The glass jars were a fun challenge. I painted this based on a photo, whose source I can’t find, but you can see it here on Pinterest.


Polish and Pearls
On Tuesday, I grabbed my two favorite nail polishes and my favorite jewelry for a still life painting. The nail polishes are Essie’s Ballet Slippers, and L’Oreal’s Greycian Goddess.


Peach Peonies and Pink Roses
On Tuesday night, I skyped with my little sister, who recently got engaged, to discuss her wedding invitations. I couldn’t help but get started on it the next day! These florals are inspired by this bouquet.


Yesterday was probably my best painting day of the week. I was feeling very discouraged after receiving yet another rejection email for a job I felt very qualified for, again without the chance to interview. Painting took my mind off my troubles. It’s great therapy.
Coffee Table Style
The painting of the girl is based on this Kate Spade striped Celina dress, and the peonies and books are based on this photo, which is from SF Girl By Bay.


I don’t have anything to show for today yet, and honestly, I’m not sure I will have time to do any drawing or painting later today. It’s shaping up to be a busy weekend, but hopefully I’ll be able to take a few minutes to de-stress with my pencils and paints.
Did you enjoy my art? Follow me on Instagram for the behind the scenes, and if you really like my style, I’m considering offering prints of some of my paintings in my Etsy shop, so stay tuned!

Waxing Poetic Wednesday: What Is So Rare as a Day In June?

The Oregon Coast, near Hug Point

What Is So Rare as a Day In June? 

By James Russell Lowell

And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays;
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,
An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And, groping blindly above it for light,
Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers;
The flush of life may well be seen
Thrilling back over hills and valleys;
The cowslip startles in meadows green,
The buttercup catches the sun in its chalice,
And there’s never a leaf nor a blade too mean
To be some happy creature’s palace;
The little bird sits at his door in the sun,
Atilt like a blossom among the leaves,
And lets his illumined being o’errun
With the deluge of summer it receives;
His mate feels the eggs beneath her wings,
And the heart in her dumb breast flutters and sings;
He sings to the wide world, and she to her nest,
In the nice ear of Nature which song is the best?

Now is the high-tide of the year,
And whatever of life hath ebbed away
Comes flooding back with a ripply cheer,
Into every bare inlet and creek and bay;
Now the heart is so full that a drop overfills it,
We are happy now because God wills it;
No matter how barren the past may have been,
‘Tis enough for us now that the leaves are green;
We sit in the warm shade and feel right well
How the sap creeps up and the blossoms swell;
We may shut our eyes but we cannot help knowing
That skies are clear and grass is growing;
The breeze comes whispering in our ear,
That dandelions are blossoming near,
That maize has sprouted, that streams are flowing,
That the river is bluer than the sky,
That the robin is plastering his house hard by;
And if the breeze kept the good news back,
For our couriers we should not lack;
We could guess it all by yon heifer’s lowing,
And hark! How clear bold chanticleer,
Warmed with the new wine of the year,
Tells all in his lusty crowing!

Joy comes, grief goes, we know not how;
Everything is happy now,
Everything is upward striving;
‘Tis as easy now for the heart to be true
As for grass to be green or skies to be blue,
‘Tis for the natural way of living:
Who knows whither the clouds have fled?
In the unscarred heaven they leave not wake,
And the eyes forget the tears they have shed,
The heart forgets its sorrow and ache;
The soul partakes the season’s youth,
And the sulphurous rifts of passion and woe
Lie deep ‘neath a silence pure and smooth,
Like burnt-out craters healed with snow.

Every Wednesday, I indulge my English Lit minor by sharing an inspirational poem. Share your favorite poem, it could end up on a future Waxing Poetic Wednesday!

Beauty Find Friday: Shop Update and Survey

I’m making a conscious effort to share more of my art with you, starting with the blue butterfly last week, and today, these blue feathers.

Speaking of blue feathers, I so appreciated your feedback on the new shop logo! I incorporated several bits of your feedback into the final design. I kept the art-deco font, but I added a tag line in a script font. And I moved the feather above the words, instead of below. And tada!

Before the rebrand:

After the rebrand:

I like the tag line: “Celebrating life’s lovely moments,” much better than “Special occasion invitations and customizable paper goods.”

If you haven’t visited the shop in awhile, you might notice a few new invitation designs!

Although the link didn’t work during the Shabby Apple giveaway, I’d still love to get your feedback about this blog about what your favorite topics are, giveaways you’d like, etc. If you’d be so kind as to answer these six questions, I’ll pick one of you to win a free set of two monogram notecards! Just leave a comment below letting me know that you took the survey. Thank you!