DIY Shadow Box Frames: Drawing a Day Gallery

make your own gallery frames

A friend of mine recently created a summer drawing group on Facebook, with the idea that adults forget to make time to be creative and that we don’t draw like we did when we were kids. I loved the idea and immediately joined. Then I realized I had to draw. I can’t tell you how humbling this was. My head and hand struggled struggle to work together. My oldest; Riley who is 12;  saw me scribbling away on some computer paper and asked what I was doing. I told him about the group and he said “I don’t draw anymore. I stopped when I was like 10. That’s when you lose it.” Ah, so that’s when you lose it. Age 10.

We talked about drawing and being creative at the advanced ages of almost 13 and, ahem, 39. The 6 year old (who hasn’t lost it yet) joined the conversation. Long story short, we all agreed to draw something, anything, every day for the rest of the summer. I’m loving this time with them. They are both so excited to share their work and take turns picking the suggested topic for the next day.

To keep the excitement and creativity going, I decided to create a gallery for our drawings. I thought about buying those really cool shadow box frames, but then I remembered these boxes that my mom gave me awhile back. She works in a lab and always brings me the coolest boxes and gadgets intended for the trash. I hang onto them with great intentions. And I finally put a few of the boxes to good use.

flipping through drawings

Here’s how to make your own shadow box frames from cardboard boxes:


  • If your mom doesn’t bring you cool boxes, you can use a shoe box or any smallish-sized rectangular cardboard box.
  • Fabric for inserts. I used a few pieces of the Briar Rose by Heather Ross layer cake.
  • Cereal box from the recycling
  • Glue or tape for attaching the fabric
  • Tacks or pushpins for your art
  • Sticky notes or scrap paper
  • Cup hooks – optional hook below frame
  • Soda tab – optional for hanging box on the wall

I cut the top lid off my box and gave it to Lola to use — she made a ring holder, jewelry box out of one. Then, I used a black sharpie to color my cut line. My box was already black so I went with that. I left the egg carton foam inside my box, but it doesn’t really serve a huge purpose, so don’t worry if your cool box doesn’t have it.

diy gallery frame

make your own shadow box frame

Next I cut a piece of the cereal box cardboard to be slightly larger than the width of my box. I wanted it to curve out a bit to give some dimension to the drawings.

scrap cardboard from cereal box

I covered the cereal box rectangle in fabric. I wrapped the cardboard like a present and used some clear Tacky Glue to secure it in place. then I popped it into the box. Easy, huh?

diy fabric lining for box
diy gallery box

Then I grabbed one of the push pins and poked it into the fabric wrapped cardboard. And I screwed a cup hook into the bottom for hanging drawings — you never know.

make your own gallery box

I also used a soda tab hot glued to the back for a hook. They are pretty light weight (provided the hanging drawings aren’t too heavy), so it should work fine.

soda top to hang boxes

I hung them in a row below our dinner conversation painting. I picked this one up for $4 because I love it and it sort of creeps me out. We entertain ourselves by creating stories and dialogue about it. Feel free to create your own!

weird painting

Then we grabbed some markers, yellow sticky notes and got to drawing!

family gallery wall

kids drawing gallery

diy kids drawing frames


The kids are so proud and can’t wait to present their drawings at dinner each night. I think it’s a hit.  We highly suggest making some!

xo, The artists known as Jennifer, Riley, and Lola

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DIY Chalk Paint & Bedside Table Makeover

bedside table makeover with diy chalk paint and wrapping paper

We found this table that someone maybe attempted to makeover on a walk around the neighborhood recently. I wish I had pics of the kids and I dragging it back, well it and two chairs. Some people bring home stray animals, I bring home stray furniture! It’s a problem. Really.

trash table before 1

I really didn’t have a use place for the table at the time. But I shuffled some things around and decided it should get a little makeover for my bedroom.

And because everyone is nuts about chalk paint these days I thought I’d give it a try. Nearly every furniture DIY lately seems to feature chalk paint, doesn’t it? And more specifically a certain pricey chalk paint. But as most of my furniture makeovers feature curbside finds, I have a hard time paying $35/quart. So, I tested a few DIY chalk paint recipes and wanted to pass along what I learned.

Wood or Laminate furniture piece(s)
Unsanded Grout or Plaster of Paris (I prefer the grout)
Semi-gloss or Flat interior paint
Paint brush
Wrapping paper or fabric (for drawer accent)
Mod Podge
Foam Brush (if decoupaging)

To make your paint:

  1. Pour 1/3 cup of unsanded grout into a container and slowly stir in 2 tablespoons of water. You’re going for a fluffy, cake frosting texture.
  2. Add mixture to 2 cups of semi-gloss or flat paint. A little goes a long way!
  3. Stir the paint frequently when painting. It’ll be a chalky, thick mixture.

DIY chalk paint is pretty forgiving and furniture doesn’t usually require sanding before using it — even laminate like this table.

While store-bought chalk paint says it has one coat coverage, I had to use two to get the look I wanted with my diy chalk paint recipe.

chalkpaint table diy

I wanted to add a little color to the room, so I used a roll of “vintage” wrapping paper that I picked up for a $1 at the thrift store a few months ago. The paper is beautiful and reversible! It’s a gorgeous orange, pink, and gold on one side and gold and sage on the reverse. [You could easily use scrap fabric for this, too.]

reversible wrapping paper description

decoupage with wrapping paper

First, I used the drawer front to trace the right size and shape onto the paper. And then cut it out.

decoupage with mod podge and wrapping paper

Next, I applied one thin coat of Mod Podge directly to the drawer. This was great to do inside while the table was drying outside!

decoupaged drawer front

I positioned my paper and smoothed it out. Then I applied two thin coats of Mod Podge over the paper, letting it dry for about 10 minutes in between. And then gently pushed the screws for the drawer pull through the back.

spray paint in box for less mess

I used gold spray paint for the handle to bring out the gold in the paper and give it a little glam. I always use a box from Costco or Aldi’s for a spray tent, they work wonders to keep the mess down.

I love the way this little table came out. It’s so cute that it really makes me want to repaint my dresser and armoire to match!

bedside table diy

I decided against waxing or distressing my table. But you could lightly sand the piece after it’s completely dry to distress. Or use Vaseline. For a distressed look with less effort, apply some Vaseline to the edges and areas you want to distress before painting. The paint won’t adhere to those areas and you’ll instantly have that aged, distressed look. Easy!

Spray Paint Instead? You can also use spray paint in place of chalk paint to get a similar look. Rub a little candle wax on the detailing and edges before spray painting to give your wood that worn hand-painted look.

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13 Genius Chalkboard Paint Ideas + Tutorial Video

13 genius chalkboard paint uses and video tutorial

I’m still crazy about chalkboard paint! And have really found it to be helpful in organizing and decorating my home. You can use it in the kitchen to keep track of the grocery list and meal plans, in the office to create an easy calendar, for the kids for a quick chore chart…so many options! Here’s a round of our top 20 (pretty ingenious) chalkboard paint uses and a tutorial video to make your own!

1. Organize your fabric, or anything really. We love this for a craft room!

chalkboard fabric organization

2. Organize your drawers! Again useful everywhere, but so genius for the bathroom.

chalkboard paint drawer organization

3. Chalkboard washi tape gift tags

chalkboard washi tape

4. Organize your finances, your office…your life!

chalkboard paint tax boxes

5. Pantry organization for everything in it’s place!

chalkboard shelf organization

6. Chalkboard gift bag and tag — why didn’t I think of this?


7. Summer To-do list (or any list) using an old window

summer list chalkboard

8. Chalkboard knick-knacks! How fun are these for a kids room or on your desk?

chalkboard porcelin

9. Customized locket

chalkboard locket

10. Chalkboard game table

Unknown original source

Unknown original source

11. Keep everyone on task with this chore list

chore chart

12. Potluck and bunko just got a lot more organized (and cute!)


13. This is my kind of wreath!

chalkboard wreath

Inspired? Ready to make your own? Check out this video tutorial to make your own chalkboard paint in any color, really inexpensively.

If I’m not careful my entire house will be a chalkboard! What are your favorite ways to use chalkboard paint?


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DIY Storage Containers from Glass Jars

Simple, useful upcycle for your glass jars. Update the lids with scrap fabric and creative handles for use in the craft room, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and more!

I use these jars (with and without lids) in my sewing room to hold buttons and other small collections, and really love them in my daughter’s room to contain all her little treasures. Now I just need to find one big enough to hold all the legos!

Hope you have a great weekend, crafters! I’m going to be finishing a gift for a wedding this weekend – nothing like leaving it to the last minute, huh? Be sure to let us know what you’re sewing, gluing, knitting, upcyling lately!

Thrifted Decor: Style & Cleaning

thirfted sofa

Nearly my entire house is furnished with thrifted items, hand-me-downs, and roadside finds. I don’t really have a style (well, I do just not in real life, at my house), it’s more just a collection of stuff  that was someone else’s style, or cast offs of their style. So how do you craft a life, a home,  with someone else’s style? I’m still figuring that out. Emma Stone talked about her love of Pinterest (and mom blogs) on a talk show recently and about how her “Pinterest” apartment is beautiful and stylish, but her actual apartment is empty.

I think I’m a lot like that. Online I think I’ve pretty good taste, but in real life I don’t quite know how to put it together or what to choose. Or maybe I just don’t care so much about those things? I got this boxy sofa, chair, and ottoman for $50 at the Boy Scout yard sale over the weekend. It’s dirty and needs some love, but it “has good bones” as they say. It’s not what I would buy for myself (even though I did), but it could work. Right? And it’s an upgrade from the I need a sofa now! World Market one that I had.

I’m always telling the kids to be happy with and grateful for what they have . And for the most part I am. I just don’t always know how to piece it together in a way that makes it feel like home. So I hit Pinterest for some real room inspiration – not the perfectly styled, curated ones. Only to find beautifully curated rooms of thrifted items in real people houses. And I wondered if I could do the same. I’m loving these so much and need to just embrace my finds, right?

Image via SaucyDwellings

Image via SaucyDwellings


Image via Retro Renovations – a real readers mostly thrifted living room

I’m working on lots of no sew projects this month to keep the habit of crafting, and maybe I need to no sew up some new pillows and/or tackle the new (to me) sofa and chair as a big upholstery project soon. Stay tuned. I’ll probably be asking for advice on what to do with these babies soon.

Oh, and I’ll share some tips on how to clean your thrifted treasures after I go over these guys one more time.

xo, Jennifer