BIG NEWS!!!!!!

It only took 136 days, over 250 emails, lots of extra $$ at the last minute, hours of online research, multiple moments of questioning my sanity, and a whole slew of the most amazing helpful people I’ve ever met, but it’s official….

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I’M A HOMEOWNER!!!!!!

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And by homeowner, I mean condo owner.  Tiny condo owner.  But hey, it’s 650 square feet of all mine!!

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This was a unique purchase for so many reasons:

  1. I have lived in the building for the past 3.5 years.  My rented apartment and the new condo are laid out exactly the same, with the exception of being a mirror image of each other, so I have been able to spatially plan for months.  The biggest difference is that the rented apartment was fully upgraded (Cherry wood cabinets, granite, tons of cabinets, etc.), while the new condo is going to need some serious sprucing up.  I never saw myself buying a condo, but I love the neighborhood, my building, and especially my neighbors.  The thought of leaving made me sad, so now I’ll stay. Forever.  Or for 30 years when my mortgage is up.  I’ll play it by ear.
  2. I didn’t use a realtor.  Because I already lived there, I was in the know about this condo going into foreclosure.  Before there was even a sign posted, I had already called the bank and expressed my interest.  I already had a mortgage broker and a real estate attorney lined up, and they were soooooooo helpful in answering all of my Property Virgin questions.  This was great because it saved everyone a ton of money, but unless you’ve got all of this going for you I would say hire someone to help you because this is some confusing stuff.
  3. This was a foreclosure that wasn’t a foreclosure.  The bank had a holding company that technically purchased the property from the bank first.  Since I came in so quickly, I had to wait around for all that legal junk to go through (including the judge recusing himself from the case approving the sale, which set us back almost 2 months!)  I also learned a lot, like that condo sales require some extra steps like getting approval from the association and having to pay the previous tenants unpaid association fees.
  4. My mortgage kept getting blocked by all sorts of weird regulations, and I learned one very important lesson: Money Talks!  As I put more toward the down payment, the regulations all sort of floated away.  Like magic….
  5. Even though my new and old places are the same size, I have WWWAAAAYYYYYYYY too much stuff for the new place.  Now that everything is out of their nooks, crannies, and hidey-holes, it’s glaringly obvious that it’s time to make some donations.

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So now here I am, sitting in a jungle of half emptied boxes, bins, and baskets, without being able to find anything I need (where the HECK are my shoes?!), and wondering if this was actually a good idea.

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Yes. Yes it was.

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Not only do I finally get to knock down a wall (Woohoo!), decorate in my own personal style, and actually get to call this place my own, but I also get to add a whole bunch of new elements to our This & That repertoire!  So hold onto your hats as I start adding in all the little DIY projects (and WHOA do I have a ton!) that are going to make this condo our home.

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Plus, how many people in condos/apartments can say they have this view from their living room?

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Yup, that’s a river.  In suburbia.

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I am so looking forward to sharing this new chapter of my life with all of you! So while I’m here, dealing with rainy day leaks and exploding lightbulbs (yeah…), do any of you experienced homeowners have any good tips or suggestions to share with me?

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With love and excitement,

Lizz

Happy National Celiac Disease Awareness Day!!

September 13th is National Celiac Disease Awareness Day!!

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I am so glad that more and more information about Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance is getting out there, because (LISTEN UP PEOPLE!!) this is more common than you think. While it may seem like eating gluten free is a fad (okay, admittedly in some cases it is), there are so many people out there that are in for a lifetime of GF living. If a fad means that more and more companies are opening their eyes and making products that are safe for my family, then I say bring it on!!

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Crazy right? Most people who have Celiac don’t even know they have it. There are hundreds of symptoms, and it’s not always the obvious cause for someone’s issues. That’s why awareness is so important, because one quick little blood test might change someone’s whole quality of life.

So, what is one to do on this day of awareness? Well….

  • You could brush up on your current events. Did you know the FDA just passed a ruling regarding Gluten-Free labeling? I found a webinar happening on the 18th that will go over all the details. Check it out *HERE*
  • If you don’t have Celiac, but know someone who does, maybe today is a good day for a big hug. We Celiacs deal with a lot on a daily basis, but love and kindness is always gluten free. =)
  • You can dole out some information about non-food gluten issues (which I will now do). Many people don’t realize that Celiacs have to be careful about gluten in medications, toothpaste, and even make-up! Thankfully there are places out there trying to take care of us in this area too, like Red Apple Lipstick (my new fav makeup company). I had the privilege of meeting them at the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo, and not only are their products AMAZING, (and they got me to wear lipstick. RED lipstick) they are basically the sweetest people ever. Check out all the really interesting information on their page. Even if you are not GF you will probably never buy regular makeup again after reading what’s in it. You can thank me later.
  • You can share your favorite GF food with people who have never tried it before. I will be bringing in a treat for my staff, who always complain that I talk about the GF foods I make, but never bring anything in. Well, perhaps they will like this…….

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Gluten Free Banana Cupcakes with Brown Butter Frosting!!!

I found this recipe on Betty Crocker’s website (This could also be a good thing check out today…Betty has a massive list of amazing GF recipes). I’ve made these cupcakes a few times with great response from everyone that eats them, and I found that The only deviation i make from the recipe is that i use a box and a half of the cake mix. I was immediately draw to this, because we love brown butter around here. If you don’t know how to make brown butter, *this recipe* describes how to do it.

So tell me friends…..What are you going to do for National Celiac Awareness Month?

Lizz

Gluten Free Friday – Coming Soon

I have a great review for all of you about the amazing Gluten and Allergen Free Expo.

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I have a bajillion photos to share.

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I have a computer that doesn’t seem to think that’s very important right now.

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Sooooo….I’m going to have to postpone GFF until I can get this under control.  Keep your eyes peeled!!

Happy Celiac Awareness Month!!

It’s here!!

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(Source)

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Check back here all month for Celiac info, Gluten Free recipes, and perhaps a giveaway or two!!  You should also take a minute or two to check out all the amazing happenings over at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA).

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If you have a great gluten free blog, or even a specific post, please feel free to share it below.  Let’s share the love and share the knowledge!!

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GF Love,

Lizz

Spring Wreath

Those of you in the Chicagoland area know that we are currently going through what we all lovingly call “Chicago Weather”.  For those of you that are not experiencing this with us, allow me to recap the past week for you:

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Thursday: (high of 63 degrees) It rained so much that we had massive flooding in the area.  To date, a week later, there are still roads that are closed as they are under water.

Friday Night:  (high of 39 degrees) It snowed.  I had to scrape ice off my windshield.  Chicagoans never take the ice scraper out of the car.  Even in the summer.  Just incase.

Saturday: (high of 45) The sun peaked out

Sunday: (high of 53) A little more sun

Monday: (high of 66) Sunny, and I didn’t even wear a coat

Tuesday: (high of 59) Rain again, gloomy grey skies

Today: (estimate high of 49) might rain again tonight, or possibly snow.

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This weekend is supposed to get close to 70.  My allergies and sanity cannot take this much longer.

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As I dream about the nice spring weather coming our way (right?! please?!), and think about everything starting to grow, I went ahead and made something to make that dream feel like a reality:  A pretty colorful Spring wreath…

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I thought it turned out quite cute, don’t you agree?

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As some of you might remember, I made a white yarn wrapped wreath a while back, because I have a micro-sized apartment and don’t have the space to store more than one.  I like to put removable objects on the wreath so I can continue to re-use it. And that, my friends, is exactly what I did here.

(See how I made the yarn wreath) (Check out my sweet Halloween wreath)

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I went to my favorite craft store, Michaels, and found a really cool green yarn that looked like glittery Astroturf.  I also found some paper butterflies and clearance colored flowers.  Don’t forget your coupon! Random thought tangent…Did you know they have an app that you can get the coupon for them to scan right on your phone, meaning you never show up unexpectedly without your flyer again?  However, I found that they NEVER have good reception in the store and I can’t get the app to work, so now I open the app in the car and take a screen shot of the coupon before I go in.  Works like a charm…

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I wrapped the green yarn tightly around the bottom half of the wreath, so no white shows through.  This took one full skein, and I didn’t cut it at all.  When I’m done with this wreath I will be able to re-use the yarn (an other decorations) for other projects.  I secured both ends with a few T-pins.  Then I also used the T-pins to attach the flowers and butterflies.

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Simple. Removable. Reusable. Spring-y.

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So, what are you doing to make it feel like Spring really is here?

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Lizz

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Do you love this so much you want to pin it on Pintrest? Go right ahead…

Gluten Free Friday – Bacon Cheeseburger Parfait

Oh Gluten Free Friday, how I have missed you…

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I had something totally different planned for today, but then came across this awesome recipe by Hungry Girl (LOVE her!!), and I knew I needed to do this immejietly.  There is nothing I love more than naturally gluten free meals that Skylar and I will both eat, with the bonus element of fun.  After you excuse my unedited photos (my computer was giving me attitude, and I couldn’t wait to share this one), I give you the Bacon Cheeseburger Parfait:

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OH. MY. GOSH. THAT’S. SO. COOL! (as stated by Skylar)

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We don’t currently own parfait glasses, so we scoured the shelves for something else fun.  Skylar chose a perfectly sized martini glass (a girl after my own heart), and I picked a larger sangria glass, because I wanted a bigger portion.

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The absolute best part of this meal is the customizability (new word?).  Just as you would with a normal burger, you can throw whatever toppings you want in here.  We both wanted bacon.  I mean, who wouldn’t, right?!  After checking around, we found that these “Real Bacon Bits” contain no gluten ingredients.  You can find them with the other bacon bits in the non-fridge aisle.  They are a little soft, so we decided to toast them up for crunch.  This is a great alternative to making a big ol’ mess trying to fry up bacon slices just for a little bacon crumble.  Plus they jumped and danced in the pan, which was fun to watch.

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Ingredients (for approx 4 parfaits) (Adapted from Hungry Girl)

  • 1 lb of ground beef
  • salt/pepper/burger seasoning to taste
  • 1 small/medium sweet onion, diced (set some aside if you want raw for toppings)
  • 4 slices of american cheese
  • Instant mashed potatoes (enough for a serving of 4), with all ingredients to make it
  • Burger toppings of your choice: ketchup, mustard, A1, BBQ sauce, pickles, tomato, bacon, avocado, lettuce, raw onion, relish, sautéed mushrooms, ect, ect, ect…

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Directions

  • Gather, chop, peel, saute, and lay out all of the optional toppings.
  • Put beef, seasoning, and diced onion into a pan, and cook until the meat is brown and the onions are cooked through.
  • Meanwhile, cook the instant mashed potatoes as directed on the box.  When you mix everything together at the end, add a little extra flake to make it a nice thick batch.
  • Start to layer in your glass.  First the meat mixture, covered with a few ripped off pieces of American cheese.  Then add your choice of toppings, and a layer of potatoes to fill the glass halfway.  Repeat to fill the top half.
  • Garnish the top layer of potatoes with a few of your ingredients.
  • Enjoy!

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Skylar went simple with hers: Cheese, bacon, and pickles.  I, however, went a little on the fun side with cheese, bacon, sautéed mushrooms, avocado, tomatoes, and A1 sauce.

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Total success.  We will definitely do this again.  This would be a great alternative for someone GF at a BBQ.  You could even take a burger from the grill, chop it up, and throw all of this in a bowl. Yum.  Everyone will be jealous.

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Will I see any of you at the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo this weekend?!  I went to this last year, and it was amazing!  I couldn’t believe not only how many great companies were there sharing their products, but also how many people attended.  They’ve moved it to the Schaumburg Convention Center this year, which is a much larger venue, so I’m sure there’s going to be a ton of great stuff to check out. Woohoo!

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Have a wonderful Friday Everyone!!

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Lizz

Awesome Headband Holder

So now that we’re back, it’s time to do a little spring cleaning.  I’ve been going through some unfinished posts and figured now’s the time to get them out there.  This first one I can’t believe I didn’t post, because it’s one of my favorite projects.  Basically ever little girl in my life has gotten one of these, because they are fabulous, functional, and totally customizable.  While I spring clean the blog, you can clean up your girlie’s hair accessories.  I present to you, the greatest headband holder ever!!!!

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Yes, these pictures are old but still…isn’t it so cute?!  Let me show you how to make this and then how it works.

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First gather your craftin’ stuff.

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  • 1 tall oatmeal tube, emptied and (quickly) rinsed out (keep the lid)
  • Mod Podge and sponge brush
  • Twine, string, or ribbon
  • Your choice of scrapbook paper, 2 pieces
  • Paper cutter (if available)
  • Razor blade and/or scissors
  • cutting surface (i.e. corkboard or mat)

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Once your oatmeal container is clean and dry, remove any paper from the exterior.  Some are printed directly onto the cardboard, which you would just leave on and simply cover.

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Cut your paper to size.  I found that scrapbook paper was not big enough to go all the way around, so I chose a plain complimentary color to use in the back, and my pretty paper for the front.  I used my paper cutter to do this for nice straight lines, but you could do scissors or a ruler and razor blade. Double check your cuts, since it would be very difficult to make changes once you start gluing.

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Cover a section of the tube large enough for the smaller back section of paper with plenty of Mod Podge.  Enlist a helper if needed.

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Stick the back paper to the tube, and smooth it out.  The repeat the process around the other part of the tube and attach the front paper.  I had my front paper overlap my back paper on both sides.

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Once the paper is in place, put a layer of Mod Podge over the entire surface of the paper, including the top and bottom lip.  This not only gives it a cool shiny glow, but it will also protect the paper from being scratched by the headbands.  Since the top and bottom were Mod Podged, I used our paper towel holder to allow the tube to dry.

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While that’s drying up, take the lid for the tube, and make 4 small cuts toward the outside with the razor blade.

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Then using your twine, string, or ribbon, run a piece through 2 of the holes and tie it off on the inside.  Repeat for the other 2 holes.  This doesn’t need to look pretty, since it should be covered.

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Now you can use these little strings to attach some fun clips, bows, or flowers.

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You can also store all of your extra bows, clips, and flowers inside the tube.

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Once dried, put the top back on the tube, attach something fun to the strings, and place your headbands around the tube itself.  It’s the perfect size and most headbands will clamp on tightly.

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Love.

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Have a fab Wednesday Everyone!

Lizz

 

Gluten & Allergen Free Expo, Chicago 2013

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Hello again Friends!!

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I am so excited to announce that I have been given the opportunity to be an Official GFAF Expo Blogger!!  The Gluten & Allergen Free Expo will be in the Chicagoland area on April 20th & 21st at the Schaumburg Renaissance Convention Center. I attended this Expo last year, and I have never seen anything like it.  So many amazing vendors, so many amazing products, and so many amazing people sharing in their gluten free-ness.

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As many of you know, my kiddo was diagnosed with Celiac just under 2 years ago, so we are pretty well versed in the gluten free lifestyle.  As luck genetics would have it, I myself have just recently received my own Celiac diagnosis.  So my return to blogging is kick-started a combination of my need/desire to learn how to go GF as an adult and an amazing expo filled with answers.

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I think I am most excited to check out some of the classes being offered this year.  There are some really great topics this year, ranging from eating out safely to cooking for teens to autism and ADHD.  For a full schedule of classes at this year’s Expo, CLICK HERE.

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So….Who’s with me?  GFAF Expo or BUST!!!

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I missed you all, so happy to see you again…

Lizz

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P.S.  Be sure to check back here after the Expo for a special Gluten Free Friday with my review of the weekend.

Gluten Free Friday – Cheeseburger Pie

Happy Friday Everyone!!

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I am so excited to share this recipe, because it is one of the best tasting new GF meals we’ve made in a while. Not that the other meals were bad, it’s just that this one was just particularly good =)  You would never even guess it was Gluten Free.  I’m going to just jump to a photo of this amazing Cheeseburger Pie…

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Right?!  Okay, now comes the confession that this is not an original recipe.  We have recently discovered that Betty Crocker is now offering a Gluten Free Bisquick (Yay!)  To go along with said GF Bisquick (and a whole line of GF cake mixes, ect.), the Betty Crocker website has a ton of GF recipes.  You can *click here*, or go to the Betty Crocker site and search for “gluten free”.  All the GF recipes say Gluten Free right in the title, so they are easy to spot.  There are so many I want to try: Cherries and Cream Devil’s Food Cake, Tirimisu Cupcakes, Fudgy Banana Pudding Pops, HELLO!!! (I obviously want some dessert right now), but I digress….

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Cheeseburger Pie (Adapted from Betty Crocker)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 shallots chopped (onion would be okay too)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup Bisquick® Gluten Free mix
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 eggs

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Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a 9″ pie pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Brown the ground beef.  Add shallots halfway through and cook until they are no longer opaque and slightly soft.  Drain, and add salt and pepper to taste.

In a bowl, mix the GF Bisquick, milk, and eggs, until well combined.

Grab that pie dish, put the meat in, and spread it to cover the bottom.  Cover the meat with the cheddar cheese.  Pour the Bisquick mixture evenly over the whole dish.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Stick a toothpick into the center and make sure it comes out clean.

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We served our slices with a dollop of ketchup, and it was the perfect final touch.  This would go great with a side of fries, tator tots, or a salad.

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This was so easy to make, and it tasted like a real cheeseburger!  Skylar was in heaven.

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I wish you all a wonderful Gluten Free weekend!

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Lizz

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Wanna pin this to your Pinterest boards? Just click the button: 

Chalkboard Wine Glasses

For this past Christmas, my sister came up with an awesome idea of exchanging handmade gifts.  I had such a good time putting my crafty skills to work, and the gifts were so personal and unique.  I (obviously) couldn’t post them before the holidays, so I saved them for a bit.  With Mother’s Day approaching, I thought now would be a good time to share.  And I will be starting with the gift I made for my mama…chalkboard wine glasses.

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I went to the blue and yellow beacon (more commonly known as IKEA), and got some simple wine glasses, and one of their cardboard glass holders to wrap them in later.  Since I planned on only making the base of the glass into chalkboard, I used masking tape to tape a nice straight line at the bottom of the stem.

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Then I used some saran wrap to cover the top of the glass completely, and taped that as well, leaving only the base exposed.

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Then next part has no photos since I was by myself, spray painting.  But it’s pretty easy.  Get a can of chalkboard spray paint (available at hardware and craft stores).  Hold the glass by the top (I recommend wearing gloves and long sleeves), and spray the base of the glass on both the top and bottom.  Be sure that you are holding the can about 12 inches away from the glass, and spray in short spurts, so you don’t get runny parts.  Place the glass upside down to dry completely.  Do a second coat.

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Once completely dried, peel off all of the tape and wrapping.

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They turned out great!!  Now nobody will lose their glasses during a party!

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I seemed to not have taken a picture of the wrapped product, but I just put a few pieces of chalk and curled ribbons into each glass, and Skylar made holiday chalk drawings on each of them.  I put them into the cardboard glass holder and put the whole thing into a bag.  Very cute!

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Have a wonderful day everyone!

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Lizz

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If you would like to pin this on Pinterest, just click the button: