DIY Drawer Art: Trash to Treasure Series {Project #4}



Our crafty friend Allyson M. made this DIY Drawer Art and we knew it would be perfect for our Trash to Treasure series! She turned a junky drawer she got for free (yes, for free) at a garage sale into super cute art.



I will  make one the next time I have a drawer I can use. I cannot wait to make a few of these in various colors and using different pictures!

It would look perfect on a stand, a bookshelf or if you made several of them: as a collage on the wall.

img_1832She sanded it a bit and painted it a teal blue. Then, added a Valspar antique glaze in a few spots (sanded a few spots to distress), glued on scrapbook paper (25 cents), some jute cord (you can buy a large amount for about $5 at craft stores- she obtained hers for free at a garage sale though), and a picture she had taken at a French country store in Charlevoix, Michigan.

She spotted this bike out front and took some candid pictures.  So, go to your local antique mall or outdoor garden store and snap some pictures!

We used the editing app Filters on my I-phone to play around with the picture image/ coloring. You can do a black and white, sepia, or play with the color. I love their Antique and Monochromatic filter options.

She then had it printed for a few dollars into an 8 x 10 size.

Add some cute accents like wood stars, a small terra cotta pot, or a cement tea light and you are done! Of course, Allyson added some rhinestones.  It’s her shabby-chic style with a twist.


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Super cute. Super crafty. Super quick!

Here is another before and after of a project Allyson created recently. She simply removed the vinyl backing, painted teal and pink, and hung up as fence accents.

Thank you for sharing your talents with us and inspiring some creativity!







Upcycled Night Stand

A semi-beginner’s take on upcycling furniture…

It’s easier than I thought and I’m motivated to keep trying more projects (and larger) projects. Next up will be a chest of drawers, but this night stand was the perfect starter project.

It takes more time than you think, but with the right tools it’s a fairly easy project.  Patience is key and soliciting some help will make it easier.  (AKA my husband can do the power sanding next time). My father in law helped hacksaw the door knobs that were too long.


You will need:

  • Power sander
  • Paint samples (I used Valspar samples off the rack)
  • Hardware / doorknobs
  • Craft pictures frames
  • Scrapbook Paper or decorative cloth (an old blouse or pillowcases with a pretty pattern would work well here also)
  • Mod Podge glue
  • Polyurethane sealant
  •  Super glue or Gorilla glue
  • Drill

First of all, you want to find or use a solid piece of wood furniture that is level.  You can salvage the existing hardware or purchase more. I purchased mine at $5 a piece from a Hobby Lobby or you can scour flea markets or garage sales. Garage sales are also great places to pick up picture frames for super cheap, usually under a dollar.

img_2155After searching several flea markets and garage sales without success,  I relented and bought my hardware (knobs) at a store. Hobby Lobby does have 40% off coupons every week, so if you buy them over the course of time you can save about half of the cost! They have the cutest hardware or you can click here to search the Genbumom: Amazon store for decorative hardware: Crafts section.

I used scrapbook paper and Mod Podge but you can use cloth and Mod Podge (two coats) or buy self-stick shelf liners.  This will eliminate any existing smells also.

Step 1: Remove all Hardware

Fill in any unnecessary holes that you won’t use for the new hardware. Use a wood filler that turns solid when dry. Or if you are using the same hardware, filling holes is not necessary.

Step 2: Sand Well to Remove Old Top Coat


This part may take some time and you will want to wear a mask and not inhale any old varnish or top coat or paint from your piece.  I also wear goggles to prevent dust in my eyes.  It took me about an hour and a half to power sand this small piece.

Step 3: Paint Entire Nightstand and Inside Shelves

Two coats is a must here! Allow to dry in between coats. A high quality brush helps to avoid paint strokes.

Allow to dry overnight…

Step 4: Line Shelfs on the Inside with Scrapbook Paper

Measure and cut paper or cloth to size of shelves.  Apply one layer of  Mod Podge to wood and carefully apply paper. Allow to dry, apply a layer of glue over the top to seal it. Allow to dry and apply a 2nd layer if desired. I got a little funky here and used three types of paper patterns:  clouds,  chevron and yes, My Little Ponies.

Step 5:  Add Extra Decorative Touches

Cut scrapbook paper and Mod Podge glue on the squares… this partly masked patched up holes where hardware once was.  So this step is optional but I liked the outcome.

Paint a few craft picture frames your color of choice.  Attach with  super glue. You want a good hold.

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Drill holes (if needed) for your hardware and add to each drawer.

If the screws are too long, use a sharp hacksaw to cut down to size. An angle grinder would also work well here (so I’ve been told).

Step 6:  Hand Sand to Create an Antique Finish

I hand sand around edges and a little in the middle.  More around the edges.

Start conservative: step back, take a few pictures, and review.  Then decide if you need to sand down more spots or not. This is my #1 tip for making sure you don’t over sand the piece and to locate bare spots that need more sanding!


Step 7: Add a Polyurethane Top Coat

This step is a must. Poly is expensive, but I didn’t use very much.  I bought a 3 coat in 1 product. It will protect the shelf from scratches or water rings. I have plenty left over for future projects.

Allow to dry a night or two and bring inside to enjoy!

I know my daughter will enjoy this piece for years to come.  It’s fun to custom make a piece and save money doing so. I now know why people charge so much for refinished pieces. It takes effort…. it’s a labor of love.

However, it’s worth it. It’s extremely satisfying to take something old that would otherwise be thrown out and make it like new with your own touch of character or style!

Total cost of project:  Paint samples ($3 each x  3= $9), Hardware (with coupons) $5 each, reduced 40% off = $3 each x 4 = $12, Craft paper $.50 per sheet x 2 = $1,  Mod Podge small jar $1, Craft wood frames $4 each x 2 = $8. Poly top coat $15 (most expensive item, but will reuse many times).

  • Total cost with Poly:  $46
  • Total cost without Poly (sub a clear spray paint topcoat):  $34
  • Total cost no top coat: $31










DIY Birdhouse Fence

Ever see the scrap wood bins at the hardware? Ever see someone toss perfectly good wood out next to their trash? I literally stopped and picked up wood from a pile next to someone’s trash (not in the trash-that’s gross, next to it!) It was perfectly good wood and I didn’t want it wasted in a dump.

The company I work for was doing construction and they left out unwanted wood beams for employees to take if they wanted. I just made sure I went to that floor regularly to see what they had available.

Using the unwanted wood, I made this birdhouse fence using an idea I saw on Pinterest.  I paid $4  (scrap wood at the hardware store) total for the middle posts (the birdhouses) and the other wood on the side and back was all reclaimed (free).

The key for the bird house “roofs” are that one block is longer than the other…  how they need to match up to form the peak? The one on the left is longer than the one on the right.

*Use the width of the wood to determine how much shorter the “shorter” side should be.*

To make the holes we used a drill with a very large drill bit.  I then spray painted in a few random colors, leaving a few unpainted.

The unpainted wood I stained so it weathers better outside.  Clear coat paint or spray the entire fence as well if you wish. Or if you are not a fan of aerosol sprays (bad for the environment!) you can buy clear coat and paint on.

I used wood glue to anchor (allow to dry) and then  used long thin nails to hammer the roofs to the posts.  This part was a little tricky and one of my roofs came apart and I had to re-nail it.  However, the roof tops are very stable and secure to the wood beams.

Drill small holes and insert cut dowel rods for the bird “perches.”


I put this in back of my butterfly garden to attract Monarchs  (we planted butterfly weed, milkweed, zinnias and Mexican sunflowers from a native plant sale) and I may put some bird trinkets on it.  I’ll scour flea markets and garage sales this spring!  I think it would be super cute with Ivy or a flowering vine growing up and through it too.

I planted some Giant sunflower seeds behind it, hopefully they grow very tall behind the fence this summer!

You can paint all the beams for a more finished look, I wanted it to look more basic.

What are your thoughts?


Photo tips for working with children

    Simple Photo Tips with Children

I have true admiration and respect for photographers, they are down on their hands and knees to get the right angle, they work weekends, they tote around awkward equipment and props, they often work in inclement weather, and yet  they still manage to take that one perfect shot despite a child  crying throughout an entire session.

They earn every dollar during a session but for those of us on a tight budget (or perhaps if you have a creative streak) it’s satisfying to take photos independently.

I’ve managed to amass more than a few photos over the years and my formal training includes a lot of reading manuals, web searching, and of course, Pinterest!

For those that don’t have the time or energy to do their own research, I wanted to post a few helpful hints that have worked for me and to show examples.

Please note, all photos used on this post are reserved exclusively for use by  Please do not duplicate or use these photos without my express written consent.  I appreciate it!

You do not need a fancy camera

Many of my pictures are taken on an  IPhone 6. The convenience of the phone and the free editing applications (Color Splash, Split Lens, Filters) has replaced my traditional camera usage. I can edit on a long car trip while my husband drives or on a break at work.

Unexpected Locations

You would be surprised what your local park has to offer in regards to unique shots. Tubing works great. ‘Peek’ at your child through another object for a unique perspective. Capture a shadow.

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I went under a bridge at the park (my husband was up top with the kids) to get these shots…


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Use an Editing App

Often, one simple change can make the picture ‘pop.’   It’s easy to become overzealous using filters or special effects, they may not translate the best at the photo lab, so heed caution.

When in doubt, edit a picture, write down which combination you used, and have only a few prints made.This will save you money and from wasting pictures you do not use.

Filters App. Same picture, Different Filter. Can you guess which one is the original? Yes, she ate dirt.

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The image on the left has a textured overlay on it. The picture on the right is the original. The textured overlay did not quite work in this situation.  It had a vintage feel and this was not the correct shot for a vintage look.

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Color Splash App. Converted to black and white and added splash of red color. My husband really wanted blacks and reds in his entertainment room, so I had these blown up to 8 x 10’s and framed.

Birthday boy. 3 Years.  image

Filters App. Applied a ‘monochromatic’ filter, then added a ‘color boost’ back into the picture. The picture on the left is a ‘cool’ filter. The picture on the right I used a ‘warm’ filter.

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Split Lens App.  You can take a serious of otherwise semi-lackluster photos  and splice them together. None of the individual shots were too stunning, but  as a photo collage the pictures work better.


I left one image monochromatic, added a splash of color to one image, and left one completely in color (softening the colors slightly). I did the coloring in one app and  used another app to make the collage.

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Once I plopped my daughter down into her laundry basket so she would ‘stay put’ momentarily while I threw  laundry in the dryer. She looked so darn cute!  I grabbed my phone and we moved into the kitchen for some better lighting and I got this shot.

My kids love playing with plastic totes and cardboard boxes. Get one out, see what they do, and snap a few pictures.

Baby in a Basket!

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Sneak Attack

My brother was married this summer and my mother took these pictures while essentially ‘spying’ on a walk they took down the path at the golf resort.

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Angles can make a Big Difference

By changing my angle on this shot it turned into a much better perspective. The picture on the left I was sitting on the couch. The picture on the right I was down on the floor.



Change your Focus

For unique perspectives, adjust your subject and what you are focusing on.

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Get Dirty!

I was literally on my side and in the dirt when I took these pictures of my daughter in our garden. The picture on the left has filters and sun

Garden Angel.  image

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Top down, from the side, from behind

Some of my favorites pictures are from behind or from the side.

image  Thick as Thieves II.

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I was so excited to have captured this reflection!

Another Earth. image

Black and White to Hide Imperfections

I found her like this one morning but in order not to wake her I didn’t bother moving the clutter in the background. The black and white conversion hides the distracting clutter, but still captures the moment.



And sometimes black and white is not better…

You miss the rainbow colors by changing this photo to black and white. I didn’t like some of the shadows from the trees, which is why I experimented with the change to  black and white but the color photo is so much cuter since she is ‘pointing’ at the rainbow.

Special themed events at your local zoo or children’s museum could lead to some really great photos.

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Simple DIY Props

I made the book ‘covers’ with construction paper and listed classic children’s books names on them. The ‘fox’ ears were on clearance at a retail store, cardboard, scrapbook paper, and press on flowers for the signs. I safety pinned some cheap brown felt to a bib for her ‘fox’ fur.

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The mustache is a sticker, suspenders from a consignment shop, and the sign is cardboard with a few metal stars hanging from twine, a strip of colored masking tape, and some taped on letters. imageimage

Flower as a prop. I experimented with a few filters here also…

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Miniature watering can from a flea market spray painted red. It was only $2!

Garden fairy. Photo Practice.



Cake as a prop! Yummy. Give them a large slice of cake or a plate full of cookies and go outside!

Failures often turn into successes (props continued)

These are part of a long week of evening photo sessions I took with the kids for a surprise Father’s Day gift. We had about an hour each day to do these in secret.

Note the props in the second picture. Her crown is construction paper, the ‘oar’ is a wrapping paper tube, and their ‘boat’ is a tote. The ‘sea’ is blue poster board. We used my son’s Jake toy pirate props.

These two pictures are my husband’s favorites and neither of them are  smiling. What I thought was an initial failure turned into a success!
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Factor in their preferences

She hated bows or anything on her head for the longest time. She was easier to photograph without the bows or ribbons. I let her lead the way and took much better shots this way.

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Try, Try again.

This is a failed picture from the Father’s Day project. Lighting was horrible, too many stuffed animals, and an uncooperative little boy….


but two months later I got these gems of my daughter. Less animals, only one child. I was determined to get this concept photographed even if with only one child.


Made with Font Candy editing app. If you pay $.99 you can edit without their logo displaying on your photos.


You do not have to crop so every person is centered. Crop out what does not belong, such as a fence, house, or someone’s arms.

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Take Action Shots Outdoors

I get horrible action shots inside, even if I use a flash. Again, I’m using an Iphone so outdoor lighting is key to get the best action shots.

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Tiny hands and feet

I have a small obsession photographing their little hands and feet! They make great  ‘artsy’ photos for around the house. Black and white always wins. Let the kids get dirty, play in sugar, flour or icing, prop their hands on a pretty pillow, snap a picture while they nap.

imageBaby hand.


Beach Feet.Hands and feet.



Subjects do not have to look at the camera.

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Grandparents as subjects

 There is nothing like a grandparent reading to their grandchild or holding them tight.

The photo on the left I used an Instagram filter to soften the edges of the photo. The photo on the right was better in black and white (their shirt colors mismatched).

Lifelong Reading pals.  image

I could keep you here forever sharing my favorite photos. Thank you for taking a trip down memory lane with me.  I hope you get to try a few ideas from this post soon!

Photos make excellent and affordable holiday gifts.  Retail stores that develop pictures or online sites often run specials on enlargements and canvas prints around the holidays.

Please note, any affiliate links I may receive compensation. It helps me to fund the running of this site and will not affect your prices!

Queen of hearts {easy cement craft}

Ironically enough, cement contains chemical compounds (dust) that you do not want to inhale. I do my cement projects outdoors or in an opened- door garage. I wear a high quality mask, safety goggles, and gloves. You do not want a glob of cement in your eye, and yes, this did happen to me. So, please heed caution and read the label on the bag.

I do have a full time job and I considered this an ‘off week for blogging’ to focus on some other things (socializing mainly- two concerts this week- one with a great friend and one with the hubs- Lord Huron and Alt-J respectively). I decided a quick tutorial on an easy cement craft would have to suffice.


This is a several day project. You only need about 5 minutes per day, but in order to reuse the glass dish you can only make one heart per day.

You will need:

  • Glass heart shaped ‘dish’  I purchased this one at a ‘dollar store.’ You only need 1 because you reuse it.  You won’t want to ever use it a gain for food (toxins). I suppose you could buy several but to me that’s wasteful of your dollars and the dishes!
  • Liquid Cement color  It’s $10 but you only use a little, so the bottle will last you for any other future projects.
  • Quikrete Cement/Concrete Mix (Mortar mix for this project- it is smoother). You can get a 10 lb. bag for about $4. It should be enough to make 4-6 hearts.
  • Nonstick cooking spray



Step 1: Coat dish  well with cooking spray. This is going to help it pop out of the mold easier.

Step 2: Mix mortar mix with water. Start with 2-3 cups of dry mix. Add water sparingly, stir constantly until the consistency of peanut butter.

Step 3: Add the dye a 1/2 tsp at a time until you reach a desired color. Mix well.  I made two plain cement color (no dye) and two different shades of red. Play around this is the fun part. Pour into dish immediately.

Step 4: Tap dish lightly a few times to get air bubbles out.  Wrap in a plastic bag to keep  moisture in (concrete cures stronger if it doesn’t dry out too quickly).  You can spray with water once it starts setting up to keep it moist if desired.

Let ‘cure’ overnight. At least 24-48 hours.

Step 5: Gently tap out of the mold.  Wrap in plastic bag for a few more days until fully cured. Reuse dish, mix up some more concrete and start again.

These would make very charming paver stones or accent stones in any garden or landscaping.


Queen of Hearts Cement Craft


You can also make a concrete casting of any leaf from your yard.


Like I said, a charming little DIY craft.




Charming blotting-paper envelopes

These lovely and simply made blotting paper envelopes make great gifts. They are truly easy to custom make. You probably already have the materials at your home. The total cost to make several is a only a few dollars. I found that the Velcro press and seal strips were the easiest to use and cut down the time to make them by about 5-10 minutes! It just depends on the look you want.

Your local craft store should sell scrap booking paper for under 50 cents each.  The heavier stock papers will be a little more, but it’s worth the quality.

Did you know that coffee filters make fantastic, cheap blotting papers?

Time to make: 30 minutes


  • Medium to heavy-stock scrap booking paper
  • Adhesive glue
  • Small hair ties or rubber bands
  • Brads
  • Velcro stick strips (3M Command strips) or button and yarn (Alternative options)
  • Coffee Filters (unbleached are preferable)

Step 1: Cut coffee filters to desired size for the blotting papers. You can stack the filters, flatten out, and cut multiple at a time.


Step 2: Use the blotting papers as your guide, cut a rectangle, leaving roughly 2 inches on the sides, 3 inches on top, and 3 inches on bottom.


Step 3:  Fold lower half up, leaving about 1.5 to 2 inches at the top.  You will then cut the corners of the top piece for the ‘envelope’ top.


Step 4: Cut 4 circle pieces, these will help anchor the brad area that will get a little wear and tear as the envelope is opened.

Unfold, insert a brad near the bottom of what will become the bottom of the envelope. Account for the length of your hair tie. The brad ‘top’ you want exposed should be visible on the colored side of the paper. (Hint: Don’t put brad all the way through, you will need a little space to wrap the hair tie around).

*Basically you end up with a circle on either side of the brad.


Step 5: Start folding and gluing edges.

Start with top ‘triangle’ and glue down to make a pretty edge. You will see this edge when you open the envelope to retrieve a blotting paper.

Fold side corners of envelope and glue.

imageimageBlotting paper envelopes

Step 6: Wrap hair tie around the brads. You can now open and close your envelope.

You are finished!

Alternate options for open/close feature:

  • Sew a button and use yarn to create an open/close feature if you don’t have any brads on hand.
  • Use Velcro press and stick strips. Easiest method! Cuts down the time to make these by 5-10 minutes.


These make great gifts, especially if part of a ‘bath and beauty’ gift basket.  I love how versatile these are and you can find very charming paper patterns.