Showing posts with label DIY Attempts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DIY Attempts. Show all posts

Somewhat Unexpected Joys



My, the last few weeks have been busy.  I think the nesting is officially upon us, and I've spent a lot of afternoons sorting through long-neglected corners of my house.  I've been trying to get things in order before this baby arrives, finishing projects, and spending a lot more time at home than I normally desire.  I'm typically an on-the-go type of person, but this pregnancy is bringing out the homebody in me, and I've been enjoying all our quiet days at home.  Actually I need the quiet days at home, because even a few hours out of the house these days leaves me exhausted!

All this being-at-home leaves me with a little more time to rediscover some simple joys.  These are a few things I've been surprised to be loving lately.

Sounds of the kids waking up from nap time.

Don't get me wrong, depending on the day and how exhausted I am this isn't always necessarily welcome, but the longer I'm a mama the more I like hearing my kids waking up from nap.  Maybe it's the fact that Wyatt doesn't nap at all anymore, so I've begun to let the "nap time is me time" idea go.  But seriously, they are so cute.  Some days they spring out of their rooms, cram their shoes on their little feet, and run outside.  Some days they are especially sleepy and wake up with mumbles and whines, and it's a prime opportunity to get some rare snuggle-time in.

Today, the kids have just burst out of the rooms after nap time and are upstairs right now, decorating the house with "fall stuff"; paper leaf and turkey creations that Wyatt put together while the others slept.  I am finding it really adorable.  I love that we've had this time to stay home and let their little creative juices flow.

Leggings.

In case you couldn't tell, I'm just not a leggings type of girl.  You will probably never find me in a grocery store in leggings or pajama pants.  I like some structure to my clothes.  So it's somewhat surprising how often I find myself reaching for my leggings lately.  Maybe it's because I am so sick of tugging on baggy maternity pants that won't stay up, or rolling down the band of maternity pants that are cutting into my bulging middle, but bring on the leggings!  Today I started out in jeans (they say to dress like you are going to be seen and you'll be more productive, right?), but now I'm sitting on my bed, typing in some glorious gray leggings, a tank top, and a chambray shirt.  Going-out appropriate?  (Not to me.)  But while pregnant-and-staying-home?  Complete bliss.

Making play dough.

I mentioned this on Instagram the other day, but it bears repeating here.  This summer, I was curious about Zdough, which is a scented play dough brand that was popping up on all the homeschool preschool feeds I follow.  I ordered some, and brought it out for the kids to play with the other day, and something about having play dough that smells good was just really fun for all of us.  In fact, pretty much anytime some normal thing can have a scent, I'm all over it.  

I popped back on Etsy the other day because I was thinking about getting some smaller tins for the kids' stockings this Christmas...and I realized that Zdough is only offering subscriptions right now since the owner is having a baby.  Which makes total sense, but also totally foiled my play dough plans.

This seemed like a good opportunity to just try to make my own, so I grabbed this recipe and gave it a whirl.  Then I made another batch.  And another.  I may have gotten carried away.

There is something weirdly therapeutic about making scented play dough.

So now we have three containers in our fridge, scented like pumpkin spice, almond, and orange cream (basically whatever flavorings or extracts I had in my cupboards).  The kids love it, and I weirdly love squishing it between my fingers too.  I promise I'm not turning into one of those wacko snowflakes who needs a safe space with play dough and puppy dogs in order to cope with life!  But if you have kids, use the excuse to try making play dough.  It's just kind of fun.

Bath stuff.

A few years ago, I purged my linen closet of all my bath products.  I was coming off of a stage of life where bath stuff was the go-to gift, and I just had way too much of it.  I figured that instead of limping along 8-year-old bottles of shower gel, I should just start from scratch and buy the stuff that I would really appreciate as a grown-up.  I still haven't really replaced the shower gel, but a few weeks ago I got a free $10 to spend at Ulta, and I chose bath stuff.  

Pretty much every time I have purchased C. Booth bath products I have not been disappointed.  Right now I have the Egyptian Argan Oil Body Butter and the Foaming Dry Body Polish And Cleanser.  Let me wax poetic for a moment, because I love this stuff.  It makes my skin feel clean and fresh and healthy and like I smell good (which is nice when my pregnant nose is picking up every molecule of weird scent from every corner of the world which I inhabit).

First, the body butter - I hate body butters that leave me feeling greased or sticky.  Heavy body butters usually get assigned to be my hand cream before I go to bed at night, and that's the only way I use them.  This is the stuff I actually use all over, because it feels light and refreshing on my skin.  And the smell is perfect - it doesn't smell like anything to me except clean.

Next, the body polish - this was a new product for me, but I'm so glad I splurged on it.  My skin has been feeling itchy lately, like it needed some exfoliating.  This is one of the more unique scrubs I've used - it actually is dry, like a powder, and I was a little taken aback when I opened the container.  But when you add a little water and rub it over your skin it doesn't feel like scrubbing with sugar.  It goes surprisingly far and does seem to foam a bit, and I like the smell.  It exfoliates without adding a layer of oil onto my skin.  It's just really nice stuff!  

Our math curriculum.

I mentioned in my first grade curriculum post that we are using RightStart this year, and more than once I've gushed to Derek about it in the evening when he gets home.  It just makes so much sense to me.  I think some people might have a hard time seeing where the curriculum is going with some of the activities, but I don't because it actually reflects how I think about numbers.  I can already see how Wyatt is grasping general math concepts and visualizing the numbers in his head, and it's kind of exciting to me!  I'm not necessarily a math person (though I did alright with it when I was in school), so I'm surprised how much I'm enjoying teaching Wyatt math.

Personality books.

Since my little Myers-Briggs "What AM I?!" mishap, I've picked up a few personality books and I am excited to read them.  I'm in the middle of one right now, and I'm hoping to get to the rest as soon as possible.  Reviews probably coming soon (also keep an eye on my Goodreads), but this is the list I'm working with right now (these are affiliate links):

Creative You: Using Your Personality Type To Thrive by Otto Kroeger (Have yet to start.)
Please Understand Me: Temperament, Character, Intelligence by David Kiersley (Have yet to start. Also, this is apparently a link to the second edition, and my library has the first...)
Reading People: How Seeing The World Through The Lens Of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel (Listened to Anne read the first chapter on her podcast and am anxiously awaiting my copy in the mail.  Also, the Kindle version is only $3 right now, so if you are interested, grab it!)
The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin (Almost done with it, and while I thought it was a bit hokey at first, it is making more and more sense now that I'm 3/4 of the way through the book.)

Maple pecan iced coffees.

The one on-the-go joy on this list.  Everyone loves pumpkin spice in the fall, but this girl is recently on a stricter budget, and I just can't swing $4-5 every time I want a coffee.  However, I have this horrible habit of thinking I need a coffee every time I'm running errands or heading to a playdate with the kids.  It's like the promise of the coffee is what gets me out the door and fuels my uncomfortable pregnant self to go to all the effort of strapping four kids into the car, then out of the car, then back into the car (repeat x amount of times).  

I was driving along running errands the other day, and decided to get something at Dunkin Donuts instead of the expensive-coffee-chain-that-shall-not-be-named.  I'm so glad I did, because they had their fall flavors out, and I struck coffee gold!  If you need a more affordable, and arguably more yummy, alternative to pumpkin spice, get yourself over to DD and try the maple pecan iced coffee!  It is so good.  I think I like it better than PSL, which was a happy and unexpected discovery.

Candy corn.

Of course.  Because it's fall.  I feel there is really no need for explanation here.  So maybe this little joy is the one that actually wasn't unexpected, but it's fall, so I have to mention candy corn.

What kinds of things are you surprised to be loving lately?





The Upstairs Christmas Decor




I've been itching to share the rest of our Christmas decorations for the year 2016, mainly because this was an overhaul year!

I've had the same Christmas decorations since the first year we got married (back in the good ole blogging days, I'd do a post every year showing you the same decorations), but this year I decided to get some new festive decor.  I got a lot of new furniture and decorations this year to go with our house renovation, wanting to finally get this place fully decorated and settle in - and some of those decorations would just clash with my old Christmas stuff.

You might have seen our new kitchen table on Instagram (follow my account for family stuff here), and if you did you might remember that the chairs are aqua.  And I love them, so much.  And our kitchen curtains are yellow stripes.  I wasn't sure how I'd like red sparkles with aqua and yellow, and I didn't want to hide my kitchen chairs and curtains every year in order to decorate for Christmas.  So we got some new stuff and put the red decorations downstairs.

For upstairs I was going for a colorful feel, minus the red...so we have various shades of blue, green, white, brown, and gold!  I like how it turned out - it feel Christmasy but our touches of Christmas still kind of go with our regular color scheme.










I have the lights on white for these pictures, but we splurged and got new LED lights for the trees this year - and they can change to any color we want!  I'm surprised to find my favorite is actually the multi-color.  I thought I was a white-light person, but the colors on this string are really nice and the kids like them best too.

This year when we dug our decorations out of the shed, we also found that a mouse had nested in our tree!  Gross!  So we had to purchase a new tree.  It was an expensive Christmas decoration year.




You might also remember our Advent calendar, personally crafted by Derek's brother and his wife!  I love it so much.  It used to be wood, but this year I decided to paint it white because I had this vision of how white would go with our other decorations and set off the jars.  I love the way it turned out.  I'm going to share more about our Advent next week.








This year I kept seeing these adorable garlands - they are twine, with little furry white snowballs spaced along them.  I love the way they look, but we already way overshot our Christmas budget this year with the tree problems, so I just made my own version.  All it cost me was $3 for the yarn!  I made big white pom-poms and tied them along some twine I already had.  This yarn pom pom tutorial shows you the basic method, but I used my whole hand instead of a fork.  Maybe someday I'll get the furry garland, but this one has the same feel and was way less expensive!








The dining room is my winter wonderland themed area.  When I uttered the words "winter wonderland", Derek nixed it and wouldn't let me do it all over the house, but this is my little wonderland corner.  I got the trees and deer from Hobby Lobby, the marquee star from Target last year, and the crochet centerpiece was a wedding present from a sweet lady at the church where I grew up.





My favorite part is that I finally got a manger scene!  We never had one before this year, and when I saw one I liked at Hobby Lobby I had to snag it.  There is something about this one that I really like, and I'm glad to have the true reason we celebrate front and center this year.

Have you done a Christmas decor post this year?  Comment below because I want to check it out!

P.S. THANK YOU to all who commented on my old-fashioned blogging post!  I am so excited to know there are so many of you still out there who like that kind of blogging, and I have to tell you, I'm already excited about pounding out something random this next Tuesday.  It's been a while since I looked forward to writing a post like that - it's freeing to plan something that is NOT pinnable!  So I hope you won't think I'm going back on what I said by including the pins below.  I'll still just include pins when something happens to be pinnable, but I'm going to not let my whole focus be Pinterest either, as it too often is for bloggers these days.  Because sheesh, social media seems to be a necessary tool that also has a way of sucking the fun out of blogging.  Do you know what I mean?






















All About Our Home Renovation (With Grit & Grace)




Last year at this time my husband and I were dead-set on moving.

He had just started a new job a few months before, and was also working on his master's degree.  We were thinking that it wold be nice to be a little closer to his work so that he could make it home earlier in the evening, and honestly, I was just ready for a change.  We have been in this house since we got married, and it just felt like it wasn't an ideal fit for our family anymore.  My wishlist was for a house closer to work, closer to our church, and that had a little more space for our family.

Creating A Meaningful Gallery Wall





I have been dying to create a gallery wall for several years, and I'm not sure what has been stopping me.  I think I was unsure of what wall I could use - we had a large blank wall in our empty downstairs living room, but it seemed silly to decorate that wall without getting some furniture first.  So I convinced myself I couldn't start yet, and I have been sitting on the gallery wall idea ever since.


4 Resources For Starting In Watercolors




Last summer I started dabbling in painting in watercolors.  I took oil painting lessons when I was younger, but that was about 20 years ago, and I had never tried watercolors before.  For some reason, maybe inspired by the recent watercolor trends, I decided to give it a try.

It's not something I do every day, or even every month, but every now and then when the inspiration strikes, I'll pull out my watercolors and pencils and see what I come up with.  It's a fun way to be creative and a little artsy, and you don't even have to be good at drawing.  It's just as fun to slap some paint on the paper in splotches and see how it looks when translucent layers dry over each other.

Overall, I feel like watercolors are a really easy medium to get started in - you don't need a lot of fancy supplies - you don't even have to do much research.  I went to Hobby Lobby and bought a basic watercolor kit, and some watercolor paper, and that was that.  But if you are thinking about trying watercolors as a hobby, and you need an extra little boost to get you started, I have some resources for your inspiration!


Handmade First Birthday Invitations: DIY

You know how at baseball games, they play a song for each baseball player as they go up to bat?  The songs the players pick for themselves?  Usually they are some intense song that is supposed to say something about who the player is.

When Derek and I went to our first baseball game together, he told me that if he was a baseball player, his song would be "The Rubber Ducky Song".

You know, "Rubber Ducky, you're the one!  You make bath time, so much fun!"

He'd rather make people laugh than try to be some big, tough guy.  I kind of love that about him.
But what were we talking about?  Rubber duckies.  Somehow, when I thought of Clyde's first birthday, rubber duckies kept coming to mind.  And when I was working on Clyde's first birthday invitations, the rubber ducky song was playing through my head.

Excuse the long intro, but if you don't know Derek, or don't know the "Rubber Ducky" song, you wouldn't get these invitations.





I've made almost all of our party invitations myself, and today I wanted to share a simple little tutorial for these first birthday invitations.




Materials:

Blank notecards
Coordinating scrapbook paper (about 1 sheet per 15 invitations)
Word processing program and printer
Washi tape
Modge Podge



1. To start, I created a document with all of our party information on it.  I created mine in Photoshop Elements, so I could add the stripe border, but you could also do this in a regular word processor program.  For this invite I used the fonts Return To Sender, KG Somebody That I Used To Know, and Notera.

2. Print the party invite papers, and also a paper with the number "1" in a large font (I used Allstar font in  244 pt).

3. Cut out the number "1", and trace it onto your scrapbook paper.  Cut it out, and repeat for your number of invitations.  Cut out the party invitation information into rectangles that will fit inside your notecards.





4. Tape the information to the inside of each card with wash tape.




5. Use the Modge Podge to glue the numbers onto the outside of your cards. Cover with a thin layer of Modge Podge to seal (it will dry clear, but use matte Modge Podge so there isn't an obvious shine).





And you're done!  I have a terrible time finding party invitations that go with the themes that I pick, and if I do, they are often expensive.   I love making my own invitations because it is easy to really personalize them to my own party theme!



Ideas for making invitations that will match your theme seamlessly?

1.  Think about the colors you will be using for the party, and incorporate them into your invitations.

2.  Add wording to go with your party theme.  If you are using a specific theme, it's nice to give your guests a heads up of what to expect!

3. Add cutouts or confetti to the inside of your invitations that will match your colors or theme.  I was thinking of adding little rubber ducky cutouts to the inside of these invites, but I ran out of time.

4. Finish them off well - add a strip of washi tape, a sticker or envelope seal, or a little hand-drawing to the back of your invitations before you drop them in the mail!




Have you ever made your own party invitations?  I'd love to hear how you went about it!

Check back soon to see how Clyde's rubber ducky first birthday party turns out!

DIY Type

Diy type dana tanamachi review

One of my goals for the New Year was to try my hand at some hand lettering.  It is not something I am naturally good at, but I do think it is something that can improve with practice.  So I looked up some websites, and ordered a couple books, and I've been playing with lettering here and there.

One book I was so excited to have the opportunity to review was DIY Type by Dana Tanamachi.  This isn't a traditional book - it consists of a couple chapters and then is filled with stencils for you to use in your own DIY type experiments!  Probably 90% of the book is stencils, including a capital letter alphabet, a small letter alphabet, and some decorative stencils.

Diy type 2

Even though there is just one real chapter with instructions, there are definitely a lot of fun ideas packed in that one chapter.  From monogrammed t-shirts to birthday cakes, there are many fun ideas in these pages to get your creativity flowing.  I also really liked how Tanamachi includes some basic ideas for how to embellish your letters to give them that hand-lettered feel, even when using a stencil. I never would have thought of a lot of the embellishments, but they look easy to do.

I decided to test one of the stencils out and make a "G" for Gwen's room - I just doodled a bunch of flowers inside my letter outline.  The only thing I wished I hadn't done was that I bent the paper because I didn't want to take the stencil out of the book yet - and the letter turned out pretty cute, so I wish I had just taken the stencil out!  Maybe I'll just have to make another one.

DIY Type

My plans for the stencils in this book include a birthday banner for Wyatt that I'll be making this weekend…and I might try some of the other ideas in this book, like the personalized notebooks.  I think there are a lot of great gift ideas in here!

If you like the hand-lettered look that is popular now, this book is probably a great place to start!

Note: I received this book for free from Blogging For Books in exchange for this review. This is my honest opinion.

A "Welcome Fall" Party






It is officially fall!  Like so many people, fall is my favorite time of year, and I just feel like it is worthy of some type of celebration.  This is the first year in two years that we haven't had some type of baby-related celebration to plan in the fall, so I was itching to do some kind of gathering.  I decided to throw a party, and the start of Autumn was a good enough reason for me!

I have a lot of fun planning our parties and figuring out how to make it cute without spending a ton of money.  I have to say, this was probably the easiest party we've had when it came to planning and decorating, because I had so many items already.  I think simple touches add a lot to a party atmosphere and help to make it memorable.

Without further ado, here are the pictures of our party.


Fallpartyinvitations

I like sending out invitations to our parties.  It makes it seem more official to me.  I don't know about you, but I am much more likely to attend a gathering if I get an invitation in the mail, as opposed to email.  That's just me.  So I almost always send out paper invites.

I made these invitations myself.  Several years ago I bought a couple boxes of plain colored cards and envelopes from Target, and that purchase has served me so well - I make so many invitations just from the cards in those boxes!  For these invitations, I created a graphic in Photoshop and had it printed up at Staples (I think it cost five dollars or so).  Then I cut it out to fit into the colored envelopes I had, and sealed the envelopes with some fun wash tape.


Easyfallpartydecorations

I kept the decorations really easy for this party.

-I bought some fake leaves from Hobby Lobby for a few dollars and hung them from the light fixtures with thread.

-I got some paper straws - they are fairly cheap and so festive!  I stuck them in a mason jar and tied some raffia around it with a scrapbook-paper leaf cutout.

-I made a leaf banner using scrapbook paper, double-sided tape, and glitter (using this glitter method).  The banner took the most time, but I did it with the kids, so it doubled as a fun craft activity!

-I lit some of my fall scented candles.

-The apples doubled as an activity for the party and a decoration.

-I made labels for the food and activities (see below) using our printer, scrapbook paper, and some of the notecards from the Target notecard box.






I've come to realize that I go a little overboard on food for my parties - but it's better to have too much than too little, right?  We called this party a "fall barbecue", so for the main meal we had burgers and brats - then I made a few other goodies.

-Pumpkin Fluff Dip.  Oh my goodness, this was so good.  We used the dip with apples and crackers, and it tasted great.  I think I am going to have to make this one again before the fall is over - the picky eater in the family, who shall remain nameless, actually ate apple slices with this dip.  It's a winner.

-Pumpkin Blondies.  I thought this recipe was really weird (no baking soda or baking powder - what?), but the bars actually turned out really well.

-Leaf chocolates.  My own experiment, using Candiquick, flavoring, and leaf-shaped candy mold.  I thought they tasted good, but I didn't have any red food coloring when I made them, so I was bummed I didn't get to make any orange leaves.  Oh well.

-Candy Corn Fudge.  I used a white chocolate fudge recipe that I have had for years, and I just split up the batch into three bowls and added food coloring.  The idea is to layer the different colors like candy corn, but I realized I should have let the layers set a bit first before mixing.  It ended up having more of a marble effect, but I think everyone still got the idea.

-Pumpkin Pie Popcorn.  Another experiment of mine, using brown sugar, coconut oil, and pumpkin pie spice.  I liked it, but the recipe could use some tweaking before I share it.



My philosophy is that if I am inviting different people to my party who don't know each other, I should have something to break the ice and keep the guests busy.  I don't want anyone to feel awkward, or as if there is nothing to do if they don't know the other guests.  So we came up with some activity ideas - here is what we did:

-Caramel Apple Station.  I hardly ever make caramel apples, so this was fun to me!  I made it easy on myself and bought caramel apple wraps, and some nuts and chocolate chips to add to the outside of the apples.  Bonus: the bowls of apples on my counters also added a nice decorative element!

-Candy Corn Guessing Game.  The traditional game of guessing how many candy corn pieces were in the mason jar.  Everyone wrote down their guesses, and the person with the closest guess received a prize ($5 Starbucks gift card - aren't those leaf gift cards cute?).

- Find The Pumpkins.  I bought five mini pumpkins and hid them around our house, inside and outside.  Once someone found all five pumpkins they wrote down the locations of each pumpkin and dropped their entry into a mason jar.  Then I shook up the entries and picked a winner.  I gave out another Starbucks card for a prize.  Everyone who played had fun with this game, and it definitely kept the kids busy as well!

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As I said before, I think this was one of the easiest parties we've thrown!  It all came together pretty seamlessly, and we planned ahead a bit more so we could just relax and visit when everyone arrived.  I was really happy with the way everything turned out.  A party doesn't have to be super elaborate or expensive to be festive and fun!

Striped Curtains DIY Project

I have been changing up a lot of things about the upstairs in my house lately.  I have been trying to brighten up my living room.  I hung some new Ikea curtains, and I have been working on a gallery wall.   

I feel like I need to do a house tour video at some point so you guys can see what I'm talking about, but basically my living room and dining room kind of blend in to each other, so when you first come up the stairs you can see my living room and dining room at the same time. 

For my dining room window, I had a sage green valance that had been there forever.  As I was looking at my gallery wall and the dining room in the background, I decided that window needed some new curtains. 

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Pretty quickly I figured out that I wanted some white and yellow striped curtains.  There are hints of cream/yellow in my gallery wall, and I thought it would tie everything in nicely and brighten things up.  

I searched high and low for thick-striped fabric before I got desperate and checked Pinterest - and then I realized that I could just make my own!  I read a tutorial on making them which gave me courage, so I bought some fabric.  However, I feel like that tutorial (which I can't find now, of course) made the process of making striped curtains seem much more intimidating - it wasn't really hard at all!

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1. To start with, I just got three yards (each) of two different types of fabric.  The fabric I got was 54 inches wide.  I tried to make sure both of the fabrics I picked had a similar weight.  I ended up with a $4 per yard yellow clearance fabric, and a $6 per yard fabric that is actually supposed to be for lining curtains (I didn't tell the clerk that I was planning to use it for my actual curtains!).

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2.  I just stuck with the 54 inch width for my two curtains, so I didn't have to trim the width of the fabric - I just cut it straight into strips.  I used a rotary cutter and trimmed the edge so that I was starting with a straight line.  I decided I wanted 8 inch striped, so I cut one 11 inch white strip for each curtain (for the top of the curtain, so I could hang it), and I cut 9 inch strips for the rest of the length.

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3.  I sewed them together, leaving the 11 inch strip on the top of my curtain.

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4. Once I had all my pieces sewn together, I trimmed the excess so the edges were straight, then hemmed the edges.  I took the side with the 11 inch strip, and I folded it over three inches and sewed it into place, making a "tube" that I could slide the curtain rod into.

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5.  Then I hung my nice new curtains!

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I was a bit intimidated about sewing stripes, because I was afraid if I cut them a little crooked the whole thing would be crooked.  But it actually wasn't hard to cut straight strips - I just laid all the pieces out to make sure they looked right before I sewed them together, and it turned out fine!  The striped curtains are actually pretty forgiving too - there are a few puckers, and some of my hems ended up bunching a little, but you can't really tell.  If you have ever wanted striped curtains, definitely try making your own - it wasn't hard at all!

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I really like the way they turned out.  I feel like they add a lot of style to my dining room, and it brightens everything up so much.  It looks much more cheerful upstairs now!
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