Category: DIY Projects

DIY Photo Gifts Using Epoxy Resin

Make personalized jewelry and serving trays for family and friends using photos from special occasions, along with other charms or knick-knacks, to create one-of-a-kind gifts they will love .  These personalized gifts are a perfect way to celebrate and commemorate birthdays, holidays, graduations, or any other special events.

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Bracelet or Pendant Procedure

  • Make sure you have all of your supplies handy
  • Lay out the design and cut photos to fit your jewelry bezels (bracelet or pendant).

bezel bracelet with mod podge, pictures, and glitter for DIY photo project  

  • Use Mod Podge to secure photos in bezel or tray.  I put a base layer in the bezel or tray, add the picture, and apply additional Mod Podge on the surface of the picture or paper.  If I am using glitter, I sprinkle it on top of the Mod Podge before it drys.
  • Ensure paper and photos are completely covered with Mod Podge and allow to dry completely before moving on the resin step.  I usually apply at least two coats of Mod Podge to the paper, making sure it protects all of the paper in the corners and any crevices.  I try to plan ahead so the Mod Podge can dry overnight.  It is critical that the paper and photos are sealed or the resin will cause discoloration.

using mod lodge to seal pictures in jewelry bezel before adding resin

  • Mix resin according to the package.  I have only used Easy Cast resin and have had success using this brand.  Other brands are available.  Please comment if there is a brand of resin you prefer to use.
  • Follow directions carefully to ensure the resin sets and doesn’t remain tacky.  In particular, make sure you mix the resin well for the time specified and that you transfer the resin into a second container for another round of thorough mixing.
  • Fill carefully on level surface.  Be sure to protect your work surface and wear gloves to protect your hands.  Resin is impossible to clean up.
  • Immediately after filling the jewelry bezel or tray, gently pass a flame over the resin to remove any bubbles.  For small items I used a candle lighter, for larger items I recommend a cooking torch.  Work carefully and ensure no flammable materials are nearby.

adding resin to jewelry bezel for DIY photo gift   lighter to remove air bubbles from resin in jewelry bezel for DIY photo gift

  • After allowing the resin to set for 72-hours, I added charms to the bracelet.  Perfect personalized gift for a fellow scientist!

personalized charm bracelet DIY gift using bezel bracelet, resin and charms

Serving Tray Procedure

The instructions for the serving tray are similar to the instructions outlined above for the bezel bracelet or pendant.

  • Because of the large surface area, be sure to apply several coats of Mod Podge to protect any paper or photos from the resin.  In the photos and video below, you can see that I missed the top center of the background paper and the resin soaked through.
  • I recommend measuring how much water it takes to fill the tray to the desired depth.  You can use this volume as an estimate for how much resin you will need to prepare.  I always add a little extra (at least 10%) because some resin remains behind in the mixing containers.
  • I used flat dragonfly charms for this project.  If you have items to embed in the resin, be sure you prepare enough resin to cover these items.  Because items might float in the resin, be sure they are glued to the surface.  For flat items, this can be done when the base is covered with Mod Podge.  If you have larger items, you might want to consider add the resin in two pours.  Add the items after you have poured the first 1/3 to 1/2.  Ensure there are no air bubbles.  Carefully use a cooking torch or other flame to pop bubbles.  Alternatively, you can also use a warm blow dry on a low setting (be sure not to agitate or blow out the resin with smaller projects).  Allow resin to set 48-hours before covering with the remaining volume of resin.

Supplies for a DIY serving tray gift using photos and resin

  • I carefully sealed the edges of the tray with Frog Tape and covered my work space.  Resin is impossible to clean (at least really, really difficult).

Frog tape to seal edges of tray for DIY photo resin serving tray project pouring resin into DIY photo serving tray   DIY resin serving tray gift with family photos

picture of DIY resin bracelet and serving tray gifts with personalized photos and charms Please share your DIY resin projects for inspiration.

5 Useful resources to organize, clean, and decorate to help you rekindle your love for your home

It’s darn hard to find the perfect home.

Finding a home to rent or buy is challenging and compromises are often required.  Once we finally settle on a home, it’s easy to fall out of love.  I do love the location of my home.  We live in the small downtown area close to shops, restaurants, beautiful parks, and we are fortunate to have great neighbors.  The area is filled with interesting homes and we live in an historic Victorian home (circa 1876).  Old homes tend to have lots of rooms vs. large open spaces.  While I am traditional and do love formal living and dining rooms, it can make it difficult for everyday living and entertaining.  On several occasions we considered moving, but it just didn’t make sense.

How we use our space and love our home can be especially challenging as our family needs change (babies, mobile toddlers, teenagers, no children, grown children or parents).  With a little creativity and elbow grease you can reinvent your home over and over again.  Additions or remodels are costly solutions.  Here are resources and tips to get you started without having to spend a lot of money.

Home is not a place, it’s a feeling

This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the seller’s profit at no additional cost to you.  Please see my Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for additional information.

Resources to help you rekindle your love for your home


Gabby at Mom Makes Joy

Gabby has created a Love Your Space Action Steps Workbook.  This has to be one of my favorite resources to organize, clean, declutter, and decorate my home on a budget .   Mess = Stress.  This workbook breaks down the process into manageable steps to help you create a functional space you can be be proud of and enjoy.  Gabby describes the psychology around some of our actions and feelings regarding cleaning and decluttering.  Now I understand why I procrastinate!

Getting my cleaning strategy down on paper has allowed me to maintain a realistic level of cleanliness that doesn’t get in the way of other responsibilities.  It’ easy to browse the internet and magazines for pictures of beautiful, organized homes and rooms, but at some point you have to put those things away and live in your space.  By purchasing this workbook and making a small investment, you will feel like you need to take action.  It’s time to focus on the home and space you have versus what you think is missing.  You can do this!


Love your home again

Ideas and Inpiration

Erica Van Slyke at Designing Vibes

Erica provides great tips to help you claim wasted space, declutter, and organize.  Decor really sets the mood.  Fresh flowers, pillows, and area rugs allow for simple changes  You can also rethink furniture  to make a space more functional or storage friendly.

Useful resources to help you rekindle your love for your home

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DIY Spooky Halloween Wreath Tutorial

This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the seller’s profit at no additional cost to you.  Please see my Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for additional information.

I love decorating for Halloween.  I try to limit my Halloween shopping splurges, but this year I really wanted a nice wreath for my front porch.  It’s easy to find beautiful wreaths on-line and in catalogs.  However, I couldn’t justify spending $50-100 on a wreath I would only display for a few weeks.

I gave myself a budget of $20 and decided to see what I could create with my own imagination and a little effort.  I stopped at the Dollar Store on my way home from work to see if I could find any unusual, spooky items to inspire a Halloween wreath of my own.  They always have interesting, low cost items for all of the holidays.  I had barely stepped into the store when I discovered these fantastic glitter tarantulas in perfect Halloween colors.  I even found matching glitter ribbon.  The ‘crow’ feather boas were over the top.  I had to have them.  I had a plan!  I couldn’t find anything at the Dollar Store to use for the base, so I did order the straw wreath on-line.

Excluding glue sticks, I spent about $12.50 on the wreath and it took about 30-minutes to collect all of the supplies and assemble the wreath.  Ok!  Maybe a little longer if you count my bow preparation practice runs.  Well worth the small cost and effort.  Now I won’t feel bad if I want new decor and come up with even better ideas for next year.  I had fun in the collection and preparation phase.  Who doesn’t love a good treasure hunt?  In the end, I’m pretty proud of my work.  Hope the trick or treaters like it!


DIY Wreath Supplies

Preparation Steps (It really is this easy friends):

Step 1:  Spread hot glue on the surface of straw wreath and secure the end of feather boa to the wreath.

DIY spooky wreath tutorial

Step 2:  Continue to spread glue.  Wind the boa around the wreath as you go.  Adjust spacing to ensure you have enough material to cover the entire surface of the straw wreath.  I recommend a quick practice wrap before gluing, to get a feel for the spacing required.

DIY spooky wreath tutorial

Step 3:  Spread hot glue on top of feathers and secure tarantulas or other ‘spooky’ items.  For example, you could use mini skulls (with or without a coat of glitter).

Step 4:  Wrap ribbon around the wreath 3-4 times and secure with hot glue.  This will provide a nice background for the bow.

DIY spooky wreath tutorial

Step 5:  Tie bow and hot glue to ribbon on wreath base.  Here is a great loopy bow tutorial for tying this kind of bow.  Be patient.  It takes a little practice to get the ribbon twist down.  You see my third attempt below.  My kitchen counter still has purple glitter evidence.  Maybe feathers too!  Enjoy!

DIY spooky wreath tutorial

Safety tip: 

Hot glue is HOT!   Be careful not to burn your fingers when you are pressing items into the melted glue.


DIY Spooky Halloween

Bird Feeder Pulley System

It’s been awhile since I last posted, but I have been busy with many projects.  Now I have lots of blogging to catch up on.

We are fortunate to have a little cabin up in the north woods.  We enjoy relaxing at our little place in the woods and watching all of the wildlife.  Patrick decided to hang bird feeders not long after we purchased the cabin.  We started with basic bird seed and were delighted with visits from squirrels (gray, red, black, small and large), chipmunks, raccoons,  a variety of birds (chickadees, nuthatches, blue jays,  and a variety of woodpeckers).  So fun to watch all the action.


A few years ago during a Thanksgiving weekend visit, Patrick splurged on bird food with dried fruit and nuts.  I thought it was overkill as it looked like trail mix I would eat myself and the price was pretty steep.  Later that evening we couldn’t figure out what was eating the nut-fruit mix  at the feeder.  Definitely something we had not seen before.  It looked like squirrels, but they were moving too fast.  Could it be some kind of bird?  It looked like they were flying to the feeder from another tree.  After some seriously patient watching, we finally figured out it was a bit of both…..flying squirrels.  I never knew these were native to the north woods.  So fun to watch!  So cute!  They are nocturnal, so they have very large eyes relative to rest of their body.  Needless to say, we always buy the fruit-nut mix now for our furry, flying friends.

This fall, we decided to add another feeder.  We had to get it higher into the tree, but still needed access for filling.  We developed a pretty simple pulley system.  The supply list is pretty simple and can be seen below.  I used a planter hook, rope, a pulley, two carabiners, an eye hook, a pulley, a screwdriver and drill.  My feeder is heavy when filled, so I might need to replace the planter hook with a stronger hook that has a cross bar for added support.  It is already starting to bend with the weight.


We drilled holes into the tree and screwed the hardware in for the planter hook.  These screws came with the planter hook.  I hung the pulley from the hook and passed the rope through.  I tied a carabiner to the end of the rope for easy connection and release to the rope on the feeder.  I made sure the rope was long enough to lower the feeder to ground and tied the other carabiner to this end of the rope.   Getting the rope right is definitely the trickiest part of this project.  The carabiner at the end of the rope reaches to the pulley when the feeder is lowered.  It doesn’t lower all the way to the ground, so the quick release on the feeder is helpful to detach the feeder for filling.   I screwed an eye hook into the tree and use this to secure the carabiner on the rope so the feeder is secure in its elevated position.  A quick weekend project and our feathered and furry friends enjoy their new feeding station.


Hope you are having a great fall.  I look forward to your comments.  Please find the link at the top of this post.



The Search for the Perfect Bathroom Vanity


DSCF2401   DSCN3286


When restoring the 1898 Locke-Marchialette home, not just any bath vanity would do. I walked through aisle after aisle at the big box stores, spent countless hours searching the internet, and paged through mountains of magazines.  Clearly, I obsess more than most on such details. Everything I was found was too generic or way, way, way over our budget. During my internet searches, I came across some photos of beautiful dressers turned into vanities.  I decided this was the perfect solution and purchased a bedroom set with a dresser that was just the right size. The set included 2 dressers, a mirror, and headboard.  I was on my way to the perfect bathroom!

The first step was aligning the dresser with the new plumbing connections extending from the wall. The back of the dresser was then cut out to accommodate supply and drain lines.  I did have to sacrifice the function of the top center drawer to accommodate the sink basin, but the configuration with the two small top drawers on either end provides adequate storage.  We also had to notch out the center of the larger drawers to accommodate the drain line.  The openings were enclosed with 2 x 4’s to protect the pipe and we didn’t sacrifice too much space.

Once the dresser was installed and the plumbing connected, I painted the dresser using Amy Howard chalk paint.  Next time, I will thin the paint with some water for a smoother, thinner coverage.  I absolutely loved the ‘Atelier’ deep gray color with the white marble floor.  The bathroom was beginning to look elegant, so I abandoned plans for a drop-in sink on the wood dresser surface for a white marble top with an under mount sink.  Definitely achieved a more elegant end result.  Once everything was painted, I sealed the dresser with Minwax Polyurethane for water/moisture protection.  I applied three coats with a light sand in between.

After completing the project, the drawers were sticky and didn’t slide easily.  A good friend taught me an old trick….I rubbed the wood guides on the bottoms of the drawers and on the dresser base with a bar of soap to lubricate things.  Problem solved!

What makes this project even more rewarding is that the new homeowner appreciates the unique vanity.  I look forward to your comments on this project.



Before: Original hardware was saved, but replaced with nickel-finished knobs to complement other bath features. I loved the raised, arched panel.  Beautiful design template to work with.

During: Note the notching of the drawer at the bottom of fixture.


After: I love it!  Look forward to your feedback.  I need another ‘project house’ to experiment with a different dresser for an alternate style.  So many options to chose from.

An old beat-up dresser gets a new life as a bathroom vanity with a few coats of chalk paint and a marble top. Even the dresser mirror was used for this bathroom renovation.

Please leave comments using the ‘comment’ link at the top of this post, just below the title.  Thank you.