Mini Emoji birthday Cakes

Mini Emoji Birthday Cakes

Mini Emoji Birthday CakesAs my kids have gotten older they’re less interested in large elaborate birthday parties. However, even if the event itself has gotten much simpler, that doesn’t mean we don’t love a good celebration, and a fancy cake to go with it!

Mini Emoji Birthday Cakes

Elliot’s birthday falls in the summer, which means there is usually a fun and family friendly movie available! Thankfully, we all enjoy the movies, so for the past few years we’ve spent his birthday at the theater! This year’s pick was the emoji movie, which made choosing a theme for the birthday cake a no brainer!

Mini Emoji Birthday Cakes

We were celebrating with a small group, seven of us, so I thought it might be fun to create individual cakes for each guest, rather than one much larger cake, which might go to waste. I asked Elliot to choose the emojis, with the condition that he would only choose round.

Here are the seven he chose:

😂 😊 😍 😎 🙄 🙃 😶

In keeping with the theme Elliot requested the cakes and frosting both be lemon flavor. I wanted to the cakes to be uniform in size and shape, so used mini spring form cake pans, and baked the cakes in two batches. Once the cakes had cooled completely a cake leveler was used to ensure they were all the same height. Spread a thin layer of frosting over each cake, this will also help adhere the fondant.

While the cakes were baking I prepared the fondant.

Mini Emoji Birthday CakesYou can purchase fondant in every color of the rainbow, however, if you can also color the fondant yourself, which is what I did. Divide the fondant up based on how many colors you’ll be using.

A helpful hint: put parchment paper down on your work surface and wear clean new plastic gloves while kneading the fondant. Not only will this protect your hands and surfaces from the food coloring, but you’ll find fondant much easier to work with if you don’t touch it directly with warm hands.

Mini Emoji Birthday Cakes

Rather than use a traditional cake board I thought it would be fun to make the cake board part of the theme! Using a piece of recycled cardboard covered in foil and parchment paper I created a birthday “text box.”  Use the leftover cardboard to create little boards for your mini cakes, which will make handling and decorating them a lot easier.

Mini Emoji Birthday Cakes

Creating the faces was actually much easier than it sounds. I used items I already had on hand in the kitchen, including cookie cutters and alphabet shapes. For example the tears of laughter were created using the letter J!

Emoji Birthday Cakes

Happy 9th Birthday Elliot!

🍰 🎁🎉🎂

Mini Emoji Birthday Cakes

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Mini Emoji Brithday Cakes

Mini Emoji Brithday Cakes

DIY: Skateboard Decks

I love a project and I love a challenge, so with a house full of skaters it makes sense that once again this summer’s DIY project centers around skateboarding. Last year we made our own longboards, which were a huge success and have seen a ton of use, this year we decided to paint the decks!

The desire to recreate a skate shop display wall is what led to this summer’s project idea. We all admire the amazing artwork we see on the decks hanging on skate shop walls, however purchasing multiple brand name skateboard decks is cost prohibitive, so why not find a why to do it ourselves!

While we will be using these skateboard decks as objet d’art in the boy’s rooms, these boards would also be perfect for riding! Keep reading for a list of supplies, hints, techniques, and inspiration!

Supply list:

  • Blank skateboard deck(s)
  • Frisket for making your own stencils
  • paper/cardstock
  • paints – Acrylic or Spray
  • Paint brushes
  • varnish to seal your design
  • face mask to cover nose and mouth
  • disposable gloves
  • blue tape
  • table/surface covers
  • enclosed area for spray painting
  • paper towels
  • dedicated trash can
  • apron or old clothes
  • Board mounts

Blank Skateboard deck(s) –

DIY Skateboard DecksFirst you’ll need to gather some decks! They can be used or new. We ordered our decks new from an online wholesale website, which meant a minimum order of 10 boards. Our cost per board was $15 including tax and shipping. We chose to sell some of the boards, at cost, to friends who were also interested in this fun project, however this could also make a great birthday party activitiy, or maybe you want to hang 10 boards!

Pre-Project Prep

This may seem obvious, but I feel I should mention: Prepare your work surfaces before you get started, especially if you’re using spray paint or varnish to decorate/finish your decks. You’ll want to create an enclosed area to prevent overspray, and its important to wear a mask, and gloves.

DIY Skateboard Decks
Don’t use your living room rug as a work space!

Chosing to decorate only the bottom of the decks, we used blue painter tape to cover the sides and top.


Each of us designed our own decks and interestingly each of us had a different technique in mind. That’s the great thing about art, anything goes!


DIY Skateboard DecksThis is a great project for all ages! My younger son was able to design and paint his board with minimal help from me.

He used acrylic paints for the background, which dry quite quickly, and a cardstock stencil to create the smiley face!

DIY Skateboard DecksI helped him finish the board off with a UV protective varnish.


DIY Skateboard DecksMy older son has fully embraced the SoCal culture, and regularly enjoys both skateboarding and surfing, which is what inpsired my design. In order to get the clean crisp look I was after I would need to use stencils.

DIY Skateboard Decks Los Angeles California
Use an exacto blade to relase any stencils that won’t let go.

Using frisket, a low tack material often used by grafitti artists, I created my own stencils. The great thing about Frisket is that it creates a tight seal keeping paint out of unwanted places, but it can also be easily removed! It can be purchased online or at your local art supply store.

DIY Skateboard Decks Los Angeles California
I used the negative image to help me place the letters.

I used the Silhouette Cameo machine to cut my stencils, however one can easily cut these materials freehand with a razor blade or scissors.

DIY Skateboard Decks Los Angeles California
Remember to use an enclosed area before spraying.

After you apply the stencils, use paper and painter tape to protect any areas where you don’t want to apply color. You’re now ready to paint! I chose shades of blue to represent the water meeting the sky. To achieve this graduated look I used Montana Gold spray paint a quick drying paint with a low flow spray.

DIY Skateboard Decks Los Angeles California

Give the paint ample time to dry, especially if you’ve applied a heavy coating. Once the paint has dried, carefully removes the stencils using an exacto knife. Don’t rush when you pull of the tape and stencils as you don’t want to pull off any of your design.

I finished the board off with a UV protectant varnish.

DIY Skateboard DecksI enjoyed this process so much I made another deck, this one featuring one of our family’s favorite snacks, popcorn!

Simon got in on the stencil action with his Miami Sunset design!

DIY Skateboard Decks

Image Transfer

DIY Skateboard DecksOur final technique was image transfer. Simon wanted to transfer an image he created previously, but didn’t want to recreate it, so we used acrylic gel medium to transfer the image to the deck.

You do this by printing your image out using a laser printer. Paint your image with a generous amount of gel medium. Saturate everything, but don’t make it so wet you tear the paper.

DIY Skateboard Deck Los Angeles California
If your image contains text make sure to create a mirror image.

Lay the image down and smooth it out. Let it dry overnight before you complete the process.

DIY Skateboard Deck Los Angeles California
Saturate your image with gel medium an apply it to the board.

When you’re ready to remove the image use a damp sponge or smooth cloth to help you remove the paper. Don’t rub too hard! Give it a minimum of 8 hours but overnight is best!

DIY Skateboard DecksI also wanted to try this technique, so I created a deck using an image I took at the tamago stand in Tsukiji fish market during our Tokyo trip. To create this distressed look I rubbed the image with a rough cloth and then sanded off excess bits of paper.

DIY Skateboard Deck Los Angeles California

We still need to practice this technique but came out with two Decks we were really happy with! We all really enjoyed this project and let coming up with more and more ideas! My son’s birthday is coming up… I feel a party theme coming on!

DIY Skateboard Decks Los Angeles California

Tips & Advice:

  • We purchased the a spray painting tent, disposable gloves, and masks at our local art store!
  • The blue tape and plastic can all be purcahsed at your local hardware store, however we found that we had many of these items around the house left over from previous projects.
  • Don’t rush! Allow time in between steps, especially when applying and painting stencils, or you’ll end up repainting. Trust me, I know.
  • Don’t worry if you make mistakes! It’s just paint, paper, etc. you can always sand off your design or paint over it until you achieve the look you want!
  • We plan to mount our boards with these Sk8ology hooks to give them the appearance of floating on the wall… Once I get them up I’ll update with a photo!

DIY Skateboard Decks Los Angeles California

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DIY Do it Yourself Skateboard Decks

40,000 Problems… A Holiday Gift Guide

Wait! What? Who has 40,000 problems and what kind of gift guide is this anyway?

No, I’m not gifting you 40,000 problems, but now that I’ve got your attention…

I love to take photos, but I don’t love to delete them, and until recently that wasn’t a problem, until it was. A big one! Sitting in my hotel room in the middle of the trip of a lifetime the storage was full on both my phone and my computer and I was suddenly unable to upload anymore photos.


What initially felt like memories too precious to delete now felt like 40,000 tedious problems that had to be sorted. Now! That was a few months ago, and I’ve now deleted thousands of photos, but I still have a long way to go.


My love of snapping pictures hasn’t gone anywhere, so even though I’ve learned my lesson about hitting the delete button, new photos are added daily, making this a two steps forward one step back kind of thing.

So, how is this a gift guide?

Well, with all these photos their must be some worth keeping and sharing, right?

holiday-bannerOne solution to all these “problems” has been to find new ways to display and store my photos off the computer. In my quest to do so I’ve sent, displayed, framed, published and gifted photos. With as many photo companies to choose from as there are photos on my hard drive it can be hard to know which one to use.

Are you considering giving photos gifts this year? If so, here is what I hope is a helpful guide to some of what I’ve learned:

Consider Frames Instead of Flowers


Consider sending an enlarged photo of you and your loved one, or of a mutual favorite place instead of flowers when friends or loved ones are under the weather or for a holiday gift this year. Ordering beautifully framed prints from companies like Shutterfly can be very affordable, especially if you take advantage of promotions, and they will last forever.


For an even more budget friendly option there’s IKEA. Their frames come in all sizes and colors, some priced as low as $1.49, which you can use to frame photos you print yourself or have printed at your local drugstore. I personally use these to frame my son’s art and its great!

Teen Decor


Anyone whose ever tried knows teens are incredibly difficult to shop for, however, they love to take photos. Consider having some of their favorite snaps printed. Using an app called Mixtiles we chose some of my son’s favorite photos and had them enlarged and mounted on removable foam squares. The entire process is done on the phone, takes minutes and according to the FAQ the tiles can be rearranged as many as two dozen times each.

Snail Mail


Postcards: Looking for something a little lower budget? Everyone loves to receive snail mail (so long as it’s not a bill)! I’ve been using the LaLaLab app to send postcards to friends and family directly from my phone using photos I took myself and its super fun! It’s a great way to say thank you, I miss you, or just hello. What a nice surprise to open your mailbox and find a personalized postcard with photos from a recent visit or fun moment.


Holiday cards: I love sending holiday cards every year and I love receiving them! Each one is like a little gift and I know many people feel the same. I never feel organized enough to hire someone and usually take my own photo. This year I tricked my boys and told them our photo shoot was just a practice session. I got the photos I needed in 15 minutes!! This year’s card is still under wraps, this one is from 2014.

#movingcardMoving cards: Don’t forget to send moving cards. I know its better to give than to receive, but… There are many great websites and designs to choose from and I usually go with the one having the best sale! This year I used Minted to print my holiday cards and Tiny Prints for our moving announcement.

Photo Books

#photobooksCreating an album of people or memories is the best way to get those files off your computer and they make wonderful gifts too. I’ve been trying out a number of different photo book companies in all different price ranges and skill levels. Here is some of what I’ve learned so far:

Mpix  – Premium Panoramic Photo Book starting at $49.99

This was the most expensive of the books, but with a linen hardcover and lay flat pages it’s also the nicest. I created the book on my computer and once I learned their system was really able to make the book my own, creating custom layouts and adding text. The quality of the paper and prints is excellent.

LaLaLab. – Photo Book $30.00

Offering a range of photo products the LaLaLab. app couldn’t be easier to use. Choose your product, choose  your photos, personalize, and purchase! That’s it! If you’re looking to edit, alter or add text this is not the app for you. While the book did come out nicely, I’m not sure it’s $30 quality.

Chatbooks – Custom Photo Book starting at $12

The cute compact size of these books is a definite plus, however I’m not sure it’s the right company for my needs. I ended up adding a lot of pages, which made it somewhat cost prohibitive. I found their app complicated and the end result less than what I was hoping for. Chatbooks offers a subscription service which would be the perfect gift for a teenager or grandparents who might not be so concerned with all the fine details.

Mosaic – Photo Book $20 plus shipping

Created from your phone and delivered in just 4 days, Mosaic couldn’t be simpler and makes a great gift, especially if you are short on time! Chose 20 photos, rearrange them if you’d like, choose the background color, review and press order. I used Mosaic to create a memento of a girls weekend to New Orleans.

With so many photos left to sort, I’ll be making more books in the future. I’m planning on trying out Apple’s new book formats, along with Blurb, Montage, Mixbook and the Mpix softcover version. Do you have too many photos on your computer? How do you manage them? Will you be giving photo gifts this holiday season? If so, which companies do you love?



Happy Halloween!


October flew by this year and we hardly noticed… Sunny warm hot days fooled us into thinking we had all the time in the world. Oops! I woke up the morning before Halloween feeling guilty that we hadn’t done any of our annual traditions.

#makinghalloweenIt was too late for our annual visit to the pumpkin patch and our photo session among the pumpkins, and the decorations will have to stay in storage until next year, but we ended up creating some new traditions, decorating pumpkins and baked goods, watching Halloween themed movies, and touring our neighborhood, which has some of the best Halloween decorations I’ve ever seen.

The Pumpkins

#dayofthedeadpumpkinThis year Tim and Simon went to the grocery store to get pumpkins, while Elliot and I stayed home, it was great! I absolutely didn’t miss wandering around in the pumpkin patch looking for just the right one. Very liberating! I did miss out on the cute photo tho…

I usually do a pop culture pumpkin, but since everything else is different this year… I went with a Day of the Dead theme. After I carved out the eyes and nose I painted, colored with sharpie pens, and even used modpodge to get my finished look!


Simon and Elliot both opted not to carve this year. Simon used paint as a base and then used modpodge to attach the meme he created on his computer!


Elliot drew his Pokemon Bellsprout design directly onto his pumpkin with sharpie pens.

#bellsproutpumpkinIf you decide to decorate your pumpkin with paint and sharpie pens, it’s a good idea to dull the tip of your Sharpie prior to using it on the painted surface or it might scrape off the paint.

The Baking

#donutsAs long as I’ve had kids I’ve been baking sugar cookies for Halloween, but we’ve been enjoying a lot of donuts lately and decided it might be fun to make Halloween donuts instead! Williams Sonoma has a really nice and inexpensive donut pan, which worked perfectly! We had a great time coming up with fun “scary” donuts!


The Neighborhood

We stumbled across these amazing decorations while driving home one evening and just knew we had to bring the kids back to see them! A pirate ship, a white wedding, and a haunted dog walker were just a few of the amazing decorations at this one home!


Though many of our annual traditions went by the wayside this year there is one we won’t be leaving out: trick or treating! With neighborhoods like this to walk through I’m counting on an interesting, but hopefully, not too spooky Halloween!

Happy Halloween!





Donuts Are The New Cupcakes!

#crosstowndoughnutsDoughnuts are the new cupcakes, which in turn were the new bagel or were they the new frozen yogurt? It’s hard to keep track, because very much like fashion, food fads come and go.


Beignets from Cafe du Monde in NOLA have always been my personal favorites, the king of donuts! In fact, other than trips to New Orleans, I go years without eating any type of donut because IMHO, there is no other donut. That is, there WAS no other…

#shakethebagThese days with gourmet donut shops popping up on just about every corner it’s getting harder to resist. I’m not usually one to jump on the bandwagon, but, Hey… I’m jumping on! Of course the kids and Tim will need to assist! Care to join us? Keep reading…

DonutsThis list will be our version of a best of, and as we currently reside in SoCal, many of our donuts will be located here, however as this fad seems to have taken the world by storm, I’ve included a few places worth mentioning from two of my other favorite cities. The more the merrier!

Honorable mentions:

District Donuts – New Orleans, Louisiana

#districtdonutsWe discovered District 2 years ago and when I’m not in NOLA, I drool over their daily donut creations on Instagram. They’re not beignets, but these guys sure know how to make a donut! Not to mention their sliders and brew (coffee) are pretty great too!

Crosstown Doughnuts – SOHO London, England


We stumbled across this yummy place one afternoon on a recent visit to London, we found ourselves back the very next day. The cinnamon rolls were my favorite! Alas there are no photos, as we ate them up too quickly for pictures!

hilarystyle’s Top Donut Shops

Okay, so there are only 5* donut shops on this list, I fully intended to make this a top 10, but between ice cream distractions and repeat tastings, I’ve decided my waistline just can’t take a top 10 list, so without further ado, starting with #5, here are hilarystyle’s top 5 donuts in the greater Los Angeles area.

5. Stan’s Donuts – Westwood, Los Angles

Stan’s donuts were decent, but not spectacular and a bit on the dry side. We sampled maple glazed and the shop specialty a peanut butter filled donut with chocolate glaze and chocolate chips. In fairness we went to Stan’s around 9pm on a weeknight, but parking was so tough, I’m not sure its worth going back for a second try.

4. DKs Donuts – Santa Monica

#dksdonutsI must admit my first impression of Dks wasn’t the best. It wasn’t super clean, but it was super popular. That says something… doesn’t it? There were many donut choices ranging from strange and unusual (Ube, anyone?) to the classics. We sampled a strawberry crueler, red velvet oreo, peanut butter chocolate, a cronut and a cinnamon twist. The donuts were fresh and we all agreed the peanut butter and chocolate was the best!

3. Blue Star Donuts – Abbot Kinney, Venice

Offering unique flavors like Habanero PB&J, trendy flavors like maple bacon, and the more traditional like lemon poppyseed you’ll find something for everyone at Blue Star. Elliot loves the Meyer lemon & key lime curd, but the crisp edges of the lemon poppyseed make it my personal favorite. Maybe it reminds me of the crisp edges on beignets?

2. Sidecar Doughnuts – Santa Monica

We love this place and until very recently it was hands down our number one! The doughnuts are beautifully made, always fresh and I’ve yet to taste one I didn’t enjoy. Simon loves them so much he knows the shop hours by heart! We’ve had multiple flavors including: lemon meringue pie, vanilla twist, huckleberry, maple bacon, and more, but Simon and I both agree that the vanilla twist is our favorite!

Birthday Donuts from Sidecar!

1. Cafe Dulce – Little Tokyo, Los Angeles

DonutsSwooping in at the last second to claim the number one spot is Cafe Dulce in Downtown Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo. Though technically not a donut shop, donuts dominated their pastry case and after tasting one I can see why! We shared the strawberry cream though I would have loved to try the Fruity Pebbles donut or the Chocolate Creamy donut…The dough was the lightest, fluffiest dough we’ve had yet and the flavor was delicious. I am thankful this place isn’t near my house, but I’m sure we will find our way back!


Artisanal, traditional, old school, specialty, trendy and unique…

Which one’s your favorite?

You’d better hurry, because, ice cream…


*Some donut shops didn’t make the list.

DIY: 10 Steps to Building Your Own Longboard! 


After years of lamenting that my son might never be persuaded to willingly lift his eyes from the ever present screens something wonderful happened! Simon and his friends decided to make their own longboards! I loved this idea for so many reasons: resourcefulness, independence, creativity, outside time and fun! I couldn’t have been happier about it, and after watching them complete the process, I decided I would learn to make one for Elliot! I enjoyed making the first one so much I then decided to make another one for myself!


While I won’t say building your own longboard is an easy project, it was very accessible and definitely a lot of fun! Our entire family got in on it!

Step One: Gather your supplies

SAMSUNG CSCTo make your longboard you’ll need the following supplies:

  • Pencil, measuring tape or ruler, and wrench
  • Two pieces of birch plywood  – we used one thick and one thin piece
  • Wood glue
  • Scissors
  • sandpaper
  • polyurethane
  • Grip tape
  • Drill
  • Exacto knife
  • Trucks, bearings and wheels

Optional Supplies:

Depending on your design you might need some additional supplies.

  • clamps – to hold your wood together
  • Paper – for creating templates
  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Painters tape

If you don’t have a local skateboard shop, or you have a tight budget consider ordering your parts online. Get started with steps 1 – 7 while you’re waiting for your trucks, wheels and grip tape to arrive!

Step Two: Laminate the wood

We purchased the wood at Home Depot and used their free cutting service to have the plywood cut in half. We got enough wood to create two 41″ x 10″ decks. Using an old paint brush we spread the wood glue evenly across the entire bottom layer. You’ll want to work fairly quickly as the glue sets up fast. Set your other piece of plywood on top, clamp them together, apply some weight and let it set overnight.

Step Three: Design your deck


Simon and friends created a template by  tracing the deck of a skateboard they already owned. While my first board followed in their footsteps, the second time around I decided I wanted to create an original deck template. I spent some time researching the different styles of longboard riding and decided freestyle seemed appropriate, as speed isn’t high on my list.  I drew my idea on a sheet of paper first and when I was satisfied traced it onto the laminated wood.

Step Four: Cut out the deck

#diyNow that you’ve got your deck design onto the wood its time to cut it out. This is the one part I didn’t do. I don’t have a lot of experience with power tools and decided to let Tim handle this step. If you don’t have a home saw, or an experienced adult available to cut out your deck consider taking it to your local hardware store. Simon and friends discovered they could have their decks cut out for around $1 per cut. See what I mean, how resourceful!

Step 5: Sand the edges


Now that your deck is free, you’ll want to sand down any rough spots along the edges and give it a once or twice over along the flat surfaces.

Step 6: Seal the wood


Seal the deck to protect the wood and give it a nice warm glow. We used a water based polyurethane in semi-gloss. Because I planned to add designs to the decks, I started with only one coat of polyurethane.

Step 7: Add your design

SAMSUNG CSCMy first board is for Elliot and because it’s almost as big as he is, we thought it might be fun if we could hang it on the wall in his new room (until he gets a little older), so we chose a Union Jack design for the top of the board and put his name on the bottom. The other board is for myself and I’ve chosen to decorate it with the Batman symbol!



I created templates for each design and then painted them with chalk paint, leftover from the DIY Union Jack table, and acrylic paint. The process involved tracing the templates, applying multiple coats of paint and the sealing everything with additional coats of  water based polyurethane in semi-gloss.

Step 8: Apply the grip tape

Both Simon’s board and the Batman board have black grip tape, while Elliot’s board has clear. Grip tape is a giant sticker and comes in every color and varying degrees of roughness, so the sky is the limit.  Lay your grip tape rough side down and trace your board’s shape onto the backing. Simon chose not to cover the entire surface of his deck so his trucks were already mounted when he applied his grip tape. I chose to cover the entire surface of both my boards, so applied the tape first. Keep in mind that cutting grip tape is like cutting through sandpaper, so don’t use your best scissors for this part of the project!

Step 9: Apply the trucks and wheels

Can you believe it? Your board is almost ready to ride! If you’ve chosen to order your parts online you’ll be installing them yourself, so place the trucks onto each end of the board and use a pencil to mark where you’ll be drilling the holes. Be careful drilling! Thankfully Tim was on hand to give me some lessons, making sure I went slowly, and held the drill steady and straight.

Now that you’ve drilled the screw holes, put your trucks on the board using a screwdriver. Tighten each screw a little bit at a time until you’re finished.

*If you don’t own a drill or aren’t sure what to do most skate shops will be happy to assemble your board if you purchase the parts from them. Putting the wheels on requires a bit of muscle, but with a bit of help from Tim, I was all set!

Step 10: Get ready to ride!


Okay! Its time to grab your helmet and give it a spin!

Please do keep in mind that we aren’t experts on skateboard building and that our boards are very low budget. The boys were using their own funds to pay for their supplies and purchased them on The quality and cost of your board will depend on your personal budget.

As of my writing this post, Simon was still working on his design, so I’ve included a photo of it and will update as soon as his painting is complete. Here’s Elliot showing off the bottom his board, though he needs a little help holding it up. He’s borrowing my helmet.

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DIY: Play Table Part 2… The Chairs!


#diychairsNow that I’ve refinished the little play table for Elliot’s new room Its time to update the matching chairs and complete the set! I thought it might be fun to continue with the favorite countries theme and assigned each chair its own country. Continue reading

DIY: Union Jack Play Table! Part 1…


#diyunionjackAs I mentioned in a recent post, we’ll be moving to a new home in August, and I have been doing my best to sort through all the stuff we’ve accumulated over the years. I’ve been donating, recycling and trashing stuff for weeks! It feels great!

The boys have always shared a room (with almost no complaint), but our new home  will allow each of them to have their own room. Simon is really looking forward to personalizing his space, but Elliot is “letting” me help with his design. Because they’ve been sharing we are a little short on furniture, so I’ve salvaged our old and forgotten, (read: buried under a mountain of junk) play table and decided to repurpose it…


Step 1: Choose A Design!

#hunterbootsChoosing a table top design was a no brainer! It’s no secret I’m an anglophile! A lover of Cadbury, Mini Cooper, English Breakfast Tea, Penhaligons, rainy days & wellies, and of course the Union Jack. It doesn’t hurt that my favorite color is red with blue coming in a close second! Lucky for me Elliot agrees!

Step 2: Gather Your Supplies!

DIY Union Jack Table

The Union Jack is a somewhat complicated design with multiple colors, so I chose to use chalk paint, which is versatile, requires almost no prep, and dries very quickly. I found a great drawing of the flag online which helped ensure that my flag would be “flying” correctly!

Supplies: Blue Dawn, chalk paint, chalk paint brushes, lintless shop towels, microfiber cloths or an old t-shirt, blue painters tape, paint stir sticks, razor blades, drop cloth, ruler, scissors, clear wax or polyurethane (your choice), kraft paper.

DIY Union Jack Table

Elliot already has quite a bit of blue furniture, so I used Napoleonic Blue, Emperor Silk Red, and Pure White for the flag and painted the legs and underskirt Aged Grey.

Step 3: Choose & Prepare your work area

Cover your work area and set up all your supplies. I chose my front porch for this project and not only did I have to contend with rain, wind and sun, but the bugs and dust were also quite troublesome. Chalk paint has little to no odor, so if you have the space you might consider painting your project indoors. I found that the paint works best if it’s not too hot or cold.

Step 4: Let’s Get To Work! 

Before you start painting it’s a good idea to give your table a quick wash with Blue Dawn and then rinse with water. Now you’re ready! I was so excited to get started on my design I chose to paint the flag first!

I taped off and painted one color at a time, the downside was that this created a few extra steps when it came to taping, but the upside was that I had been undecided about the color of the legs and underskirt, this gave me time to think about it. I applied three coats of paint with 30 minutes drying time between each layer and then left it to completely dry overnight. I repeated this process again for the white and the red.

Once the flag was complete it was covered with a protective layer of paper and the legs and skirt were painted with two coats of light grey.


Depending on the look you’re going for there are different brush options. A round brush will give you less control over your brush strokes and if you’re going for a more aged look this might be the one for you. I wanted a very uniform brush stroke and used a flat brush to achieve this look. Chalk paint is quite thick, but I found that first dipping my brush into water and then into the paint made it much easier to spread.

Don’t worry if the first coat of paint looks a bit streaky, it won’t look like that after your second coat and by the time my third coat dried the finish was smooth and even.

DIY Union Jack Table-Now that I’d finished painting it was time to remove the blue tape. It looked great! I used a small flat brush to touch up a few spots and again let them dry overnight.


Step 5: The finishing touch!

Your last step once you’ve finished painting is to apply a sealant. Initially I planned on using a wax sealer, but thankfully I decided to test the waxing technique on a little chair first. I discovered that the waxing technique is harder than it sounds and in order to achieve the finish I was after I needed just the right air temperature, amount of wax and applied pressure. Not to mention practice!

#diyunionjackI was worried my inexperience with waxing would destroy the design I had worked so hard to create. Not only that, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to put that much muscle into three more chairs and a table. Tim mentioned that spraying the table with polyurethane would be my best option, and after quite a bit of research I decided he was right! This would not only seal the paint, but also provide a more forgiving surface. It is a play table after all!

Tim was kind enough to assist me with this final step as he has some experience using this material and I was happy to accept! We picked an open area in the yard, away from the driveway or anything else that might catch some of the overspray. Before getting started we used a microfiber cloth to wipe away any dust and then applied the first coat of sealant. In total we applied three coats of sealant allowing two hours set time in between each coat.


Stay tuned for part two of this post, the chairs…

Where? Wear!

How many times have you looked in your closet and thought, “What should I wear?” or “I don’t have anything to wear” If you’re like most women, the answer is probably, countless!

Of course you probably have many choices! I’m not suggesting that you literally don’t have anything to wear, of course you do, your closet is probably filled with many lovely items, it’s just that there are those days when deciding what to wear seems to become a near impossible chore.

My recently reorganized closet!

What If on those days you had our own personal stylist? All your problems would be solved! Unfortunately for most of us that’s not a possibility, but not to worry, there are solutions!

Personal Wardrobe Consultant Friend#citizensracers

Maybe you can’t have a personal stylist all the time, but do you have a friend or acquaintance whose style you really admire? Have them over to help you! Choose someone who will be honest and help you be your best self without asking you to compromise your budget, personal style, or comfort.

I often help people with purging, organizing, and filling in their wardrobes and here are some basic steps to getting started:

Step 1 : Sort through the existing clothing in your closet, decide what should stay and what should go, and then reorganize everything. Don’t forget undergarments! Hint: No matter how much you love something if its stained or shabby looking it has to go.

Step 2: Decide what’s missing and fill in. Maybe your white Ts were casualties of step 1 and need to be replaced. Hint: Everyone can use fresh Ts, especially white ones.

Step 3: Maybe you already have great choices in your closet, but aren’t sure how to put them together? Create ready made outfits. Hint: Don’t forget to include accessories and jackets.

Now What?

Completing the steps above is a great start, but making sure you don’t get stuck in a rut and just grab the same old thing over and over can also be a challenge. Here’s a fun idea I came up with to help one my friends remember what to wear, wherever she was going!

The Where? Wear! Board


After completing steps 1 – 3 with a close friend of mine we made a date and I came over and pulled together outfits for all sorts of occasions. I photographed everything with my phone, printed the photos using my portable polaroid instant printer and then hung them on a bulletin board inside her walk-in closet. To help her remember what the different outfits were for I pinned little description cards and reminders next to many of the photos! Fun!

We had so much fun I decided to create a Where? Wear! Board for myself, after all I’m not immune to the “what should I wear?” dilemma.

Want to Make Your Own Where? Wear! Board? Here’s How!


I decided to make my own cork boards, but If you’re not into DIY projects there are no shortage of cork boards at any local craft or home goods type store. I had a tough time deciding which style I wanted, so I made three: a collage with lots of embellishments, a clothesline and finally a smaller initial board for selfies and #ootd ideas. If you have a tiny closet like me, the initial board is perfect for the top of your vanity or dresser.

If you do decide to make your own board, you’ll need the following supplies: a roll of cork, something to attach it to i.e., a piece of wood, a canvas, or a picture frame, craft glue or sticky back foam tape, a ruler, an exacto knife, lots and lots of doodads to decorate your board and of course thumb tacks, washi tape, or another fun way to attach your photos!

I’ve included some photos of my boards in process. For the initial board I used acrylic paint to paint the cork black.

Taking & Printing The Photos!

To complete your board you’ll need photos. If you don’t have time or you’re not comfortable having a friend come over to take your picture in various outfits why not consider using your selfies? Come on! I know you have some… We all take them from time to time and the truth is we take them when we are looking and feeling our best, so why not use them for future inspiration!? Or if you prefer not to be in any of the photos, just hang outfits on the wall and take a photo of them on a hanger.

It might take a while for your board to dry, so use this time to print out the photos you just took. Remember this board is for your personal use, so don’t worry if the photo quality isn’t perfect, just have fun! I printed my mini photos using this fun little bluetooth Polaroid printer. It’s portable and a lot of fun , but any printer will do the trick.


Now, the next time you find yourself wondering, “What should I wear?” just check your new Where? Wear! board for all the answers! xo!