Simple Halloween Wreath

This week has been one of the most emotionally, physically, and mentally draining weeks of my life. One day I’ll be able to write about it with enough composure for a public blog, but in the meantime I’ll share my other stress coping mechanism: crafting of course. I made a very simple light up wreath for Halloween.

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I started with a black wreath and wrapped it with berry garland. The berries are orange, black and purple, and some are glittery. I made sure all the berries were arranged towards the front of the wreath.

You could keep the wreath just like this, but I found these LED lights in the floral section. They have a lot of different colors (and I might have stocked up on a variety), so I used purple for the wreath.

One strand of the lights are not long enough to wrap around the wreath, so instead I only kept the lights to the front of the wreath by threading the lights around the berry garland.

I hid the switch in the back and it’s all finished.

I could definitely add to this, but I haven’t decided what yet. Maybe I’ll cut some cute things out with my Cricut, but in the meantime it’s ready to go.

I couldn’t go all out with the Halloween decorating, partly because of a hectic life but mostly because we are going to be on vacation for Halloween. That’s my other crafting project. I’ve been making costumes for everyone. My parents, nieces and nephew, Matt, the baby, and I are all going to be characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas. When I’m finished all be posting the costumes. We’re going to Florida and will be in Disney for Halloween. It’s the only time of year adults are allowed to dress up in the park. I am so excited! I’ve been having such a great time making the costumes not to mention that I definitely could use a vacation!

Jack’s Room: 3 Must Have’s for a Baby’s Room

Jack is on the move! Almost out of nowhere he started crawling and pulling himself up in his crib. As soon as he started, I immediately saw all the dangers in my house that needed to be baby proofed. I ran to Babies R Us, bought just about everything, and spent a weekend altering doorknobs and locking toilets – something I thought was ridiculous in the past, until stories of toilets clogged with race cars and towels were brought to my attention. I baby proofed the whole house, and the only thing I have left is to redesign the items on Jack’s bookshelf. The way they’re arranged now, he can easily pull them off and break them.

Jack's Room

We didn’t know if Jack was going to be Jack or Daisy, so we chose driftwood finish for furniture and painted the room a rustic yellow which goes nicely with the pumpkin butter color of our hallways. I figure we can reuse everything whenever baby #2 comes along.

I realize I never introduced you to Jack’s bookshelf or all the work I did in Jack’s room. Initially, it was a craft room/ guest room. Now, guest sleep on the couch, my crafts take over the house, and our recliner rocking chair is no longer in the living room, but that’s OK. One day we’ll figure out where to keep everything.  At my shower, I was given an IKEA bookcase that matched his bed set, and it was filled with books from everyone. Santa, the Easter Bunny, and I have since loaded the bookcase up with more books.

This is Jack's book corner. The walls have these cute Winnie the Pooh book plaques my MIL got for her future grandchild years ago (like before we were married). I'm thinking of making some kind of book piece for the adjacent wall. 

This is Jack’s book corner. The walls have these cute Winnie the Pooh book plaques my MIL got for her future grandchild years ago (like before we were married). I’m thinking of making some kind of book piece for the adjacent wall.

The thing I love most about his room is the tree decal. I ordered it and the window tree decals from TheWhiteTreeStore by LittleLionStudio.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheWhiteTreeStore?ref=l2-shopheader-name

The original tree looks like this, but there’s no law that says that’s how you have to apply it. Instead, I made the leaves look like they are blowing away. The decals are beautiful and easy to apply, and they really make his room charming. White Follow the Little Rabbit Tree Wall Decal by LittleLion Studio

The bed set is forest animals. Jack loves it. He uses the “bedspread” as a play mat, and he loves to talk to and touch the soft wall hangings as we pass them by. It has matching decals, but they were too small for the wall (for me at least). Instead, I used them to decorate his furniture. I used some of them for the sides of this storage bin I use for spare sheets, blankets and other baby odds and ends. I also decked the bookcase out with the rest of the decals that came with his bed set. I think the decals look so charming, and they can easily come off when he’s older.

Decals

I also decorated his room with my book bird houses.

Birdhouses2

So far I’ve made 3, but I think as he gets older I’d like to make some with his favorite books.

PLP

In the meantime, I made one with one of my favorite childhood books, The Monster at the End of this Book.

M@EOTB

My favorite birdhouse, though, is the Peter Pan house.

PPan

When you open the door, you can see Pan’s tree club house! Good thing I have small enough hands to do it.

Birdhouses

We have old doors which I thought about updating, but they actually match the style of our house and I’d rather spend the money elsewhere. Above his door is a simple cross, decorated with the finger rosaries I used as a favor at his christening. Next to his bed is a canvas quote I made using my Cricut and love best of all.

Jack's Room2

Now that you’ve toured Jack’s room there are a few things you should know. Every baby list will tell you about things you need for baby’s room, but here are the 3 things I always keep in here that weren’t on any list.

1) Extra blankets behind you on your chair. Babies spit up, and sometimes you don’t even realize it. Don’t ruin your furniture. Drape some receiving blankets over the backs of your chairs.

Blankets

2) A Rubbermaid bin. Jack grows so quickly and sometimes it feels like its overnight. I always keep a bin in his room so as I struggle to put on a tight fitting shirt, I can just pack it away into the bin for storage. I used to hid the bin behind the rocking chair, but now I got to lazy for that and it’s out all the time.

Storage Bin

3) Tissues and a trash bin next to your chair. This is completely  separate from the diaper bin and wipes, and it is essential. I realized their importance the day I got home from the hospital. When you bring home your baby, you will cry and for a variety of reasons. Maybe you’re overwhelmed, or maybe you’re insanely happy. Either way, you get home and you have no idea how raging your hormones are.

Tissues

I remember hearing I’d be hormonal and emotional during pregnancy, and I really wasn’t at all. It came after. For me they were all happy tears, and I cried over everything from feeling such deep love for my baby to Suburu commercials. Even reading baby books brought on tears. (Oh my God! He says he loves his puppy! *sob* *sob* That’s so beautiful!) You’re body is going nuts, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Eventually you’ll stop crying and you’ll need those tissues to wipe up baby boogers, but until then wipe your happy and your sad tears, toss the tissue in the trash bin, and if you’re lucky enough to get a colicky baby like me, rock on until the sun comes up.

Jack was always cryingRocking all night long

Diaper Bouquet

Here are some quick and easy instructions on the diaper bouquet I made a few weeks ago.

Bouquet

First, set aside your skewers. You will want most of the skewers full sizes, but make sure to break 4 or 5 skewers in half so you have flowers in varying height. Roll the skewers in green tissue paper. Roll your diaper around the top of the skewer and secure with a rubber band. I like Luvs because they are purple and green, so they kind of look flowery.

Diaper Flowers

Now, cut your green tissue paper in long strips about 4″ wide. Lay the skewered diaper on the tissue and roll, being sure to cover the rubber band. Twist the bottom of the paper to secure and, Tada! You have a diaper flower!

Stems

Now, put some tissue paper in the jar so you don’t see the sticks, and arrange your flowers.

For a finishing touch, use some tissue paper to fill in space and make some flowers. I’ve used dark pink for a girl baby and orange for a boy. Just tear the paper into thirds. Now gather in the center fold and twist. It’s a simple flower but it works. Stick the flowers in the open spaces of the bouquet to fill it in. It really is adorable.

Flowers

I used some craft paper in      the jar lid as the name tag. I also gave some bath accessories in a regular gift bag, but afterwards I was thinking that with a bigger package of diapers and a bigger vase as a base, I could have put the bath stuff in the vase.

Name Tags

Diaper gifts are so useful, especially at 3 am when you’re all out of your regular diaper stash. Really, wipes and diapers are practical and useful, but it does look boring to just wrap up a pack. I like to give a larger size diaper, too. Babies seem to grow out of their size overnight, and it’s nice to be prepared with the next size up. I know Jack was growing so quickly, and it was a Godsend to have a variety of sizes ready.

Bouquet

My Goonies Pirate Paaaaaarty

My birthday was a few weeks ago, and my niece turned 10 two days before my birthday, so I decided that I was going to revolt against being an “adult” and have a joint themed party with her. My favorite movie also happens to be 30 this year. When I say it’s my favorite movie, I mean I’m a little obsessed:

My Car

I went pirate crazy. I got hats, eye patches, paper goods, and toys for the kids to play with.  We served The Kraken’s Special (spaghetti and meatballs) with Sloth’s Salad (antipasto salad).

 The Kraken's Special

For dessert, there were Canon Balls (Oreo balls), Mermaid Pearls (White Sixlets), Fratelli Pops, Swashbuckler Cookies, The Flying Dutchman’s Delight (cheesecake), and One Eye-d Willie’s Rich Stuff (Devils Food Cake).

Rich Stuff Canon Balls and Mermaid Pearls Swashbuckler Cookies

I’m not sure why I bought so many table cloths (2 red, one black, and several Jolly Rogers), but I quickly realized I did not need them all.

I decorated the tables with “treasure” and used the red for our dinner table, black for the dessert table, and I hung the Jolly Rogers from my mom’s deck and we used it as a backdrop. The pictures were great!

Pirate Party Pirate's Life for Me IMG_8178

I like to think this was a practice run for when Jack get’s older and asks for a pirate party. Because of course he’s going to want a pirate party. I already decided that this will be his toddler bed.

Little Tikes Pirate Ship Toddler Bed - Little Tikes - Babies"R"Us

After diner, there were sword battles, face painting, treasure hunts, and presents.

Everybody's a Pirate

IMG_8269 Face Painting

Sword Fighting

Sword Fighting

Birthday Ladies

Olivia loved her vanity set and I was treated to a Patrick Kane Team USA shirt. We all know I love the New York Rangers, but my favorite hockey player isn’t actually on the Rangers. Why? This is why. I happen to really wish that Patrick Kane would decide that he loves New York and would get traded to my team. I don’t see that happening (the Blackhawks would be fools) so instead I root for Kane only once every 4 years, during the Olympics.

The “grown up” portion of my birthday was celebrated with surprise tickets to see one of my favorite writers, David Sedaris. It was the first time since we had Jack that we went on a real date. It was a very strange feeling. I kept wondering what he was doing (as if a baby does much), but it was nice to spend time with Matt and share with him something I enjoy so much. David Sedaris can have a whole audience in stitches, on the brink of tears, and back to laughter in under a minute. It’s a talent that I’m so happy he didn’t just save for his own inner circle. I know that I’ve looked like a schizophrenic person reading his books in public. So if you haven’t yet, read yourself some Me Talk Pretty One Day or my favorite, When You Are Engulfed in Flames.

LETS EXPLORE DIABETES WITH OWLS

Jack’s Christening

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Since going back to work, I really have been working for the weekend. I always thought I was busy all week, until I had someone else to care for everyday. I can’t imagine how people with more than one child do it, let alone people with twins! We christened Jack 2 weeks ago, and I figured that I did a lot of baking and crafting for all my nieces’ and nephew’s parties, I should at least make some favors for my own baby’s party. In order to do any of it I had my nieces come over and entertain him. (Something I never thought about needing to do before). The girls were great. Jack loves them. They played and danced with him while I filled chocolate molds and baked and decorated cookies.

Jack and Nancy_Christening

Our family’s tradition is to have the baby’s godmother bathe and dress the baby before church, so Nancy came over and immediately started yelling at me and Matt because we weren’t ready either. I’m no fool. If she was going to get the baby ready that meant I’d have more time for myself. 🙂

Christening_1

At our church, they christen several babies at once. Jack was the loudest baby there. He DID NOT like being so hot in his outfit, or the fact that his bottle wasn’t warm enough the whole time. Surprisingly, he didn’t cry at all when he was being baptized. He loves baths, and I think he was expecting to be allowed to jump into the water. It was a lovely ceremony and my niece was picked to help the Deccan.  We were so happy to celebrate afterwards.

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For his party I wanted a lamb theme. It was so close to Easter, so there was a lot of lamb baby things around, and it’s a nice, neutral baptism theme. The girls were able to help me make the centerpiece for the favors (apothecary jar filled with yarn balls), and they made the centerpieces for everyone’s dining tables. These cute lambs doubled as a kid craft and a party piece. The girls were entertained and knew they helped with the party. A win-win!

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For favors, everyone helped themselves to a variety of treats. I Made lots of chocolate crosses and a tall jar of white and blue sprees and whoppers for people’s treat bags, and I made 3 different kinds of cookies. I decorated chocolate covered Oreos with a blue chocolate cross. The lamb cookies were basic cream cheese cookies iced white (royal icing) with some white edible pearls. I added cinnamon, nutmeg, and some black pepper (just a touch)to the cream cheese dough to make the cross cookies.  I decorated them with royal icing and a lamb chocolate mold.

IMG_7676 IMG_7671 IMG_7674

The non-edible favor was tiny finger rosaries. They were so sweet! Instead of a cross, they have an angel. I twice the amount needed so everyone could take more than one (which everyone did). I put a set on my car’s emergency brake for luck. I ordered them from this Etsy shop. I love them!

It was Also Angelina’s Birthday. She’s 14!!!!!!!!! I can’t believe how time flies!!IMG_7710

Using my Cricut Explore for Giacomo’s First Craft Project

I’ve been dying to use my Christmas gift since Christmas, the new Cricut Explore. I had a Cricut Expressions and thought it was silly to buy a new machine, but I wanted the new model so badly! It has easy material settings, can cut, score, and write on all kinds of material, and the design space online is awesome. All cartridges are uploaded into one space, and you can use multiple cartridges at once while designing each project.  I was so excited when Matt got it for me for Christmas.

I haven’t had the time to play with it until our recently. Giacomo takes up lots of time, and I had to wait for a day Matt was off of work. I started a simple design for Giacomo’s first craft project!  I saw the idea on Pinterest, of course.

Hand Sign

The phrase reads: First we had each other (12/12/00), Then we had you (12/12/14), Now we have everything.

We did the hand prints first. Matt’s first, then mine, then Giacomo’s tiny hand! How cute! I had to wait for him to sleep to do it, but it was still a bit difficult ( I see now why there are so many baby feet crafts as opposed to hand crafts). I did two signs in case one got messed up. Both came out great, so one will go into his memory box and one into his scrapbook.

After the hand prints dried I loaded the pages for the Cricut. I wrote the phrase directly on the page because I didn’t want to cut the letters and have to glue them onto the page, plus I wanted to try out the silver pen the machine came with. Loading the pen is easy. The Explore has a separate pen loading spot because it can simultaneously write and cut.

Cricut Pen

I used the design space to figure out where I wanted the phrase. In hindsight, I should have done the writing first and put the handprints around the phrases, but this happened to work out.

When designing something in design space, if you want your design to print and cut exactly as it looks on screen, you have to select all your design boxes and attach them in the layers panel.  This is as opposed to cutting to conserve paper, like if you were going to glue letters onto a bigger project.

attach

Just hit print and go! I think it came out great.

print Printing

I put one copy on the lid of his memory box.

Memory Box

So far, his box has his birth announcement, the box of chocolate cigars, His first little toy my niece got him, his hospital bracelets, his first Christmas hat, and the first blanket, shirt, hat, socks, and gloves from the hospital.

Memory Box

So far the box fits right on his bookshelf. Hopefully I won’t need a bigger box by the end of the year!

Memory Box

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! Unfortunately my hands have been so swollen and my carpel tunnel  has gotten worse, so I haven’t been as crafty as I’d like to be. But even still, in these past few weeks I’ve certainly have had a lot to be thankful for. Two weeks ago, my family threw me a beautiful baby shower. They really surprised me, too. I thought my shower would be the next day, so when I walked into a room filled with my friends and family I was truly surprised. Based on a bunch of owl ceramics I’ve made for the baby’s nursery, my sisters and mom planned an owl theme shower, complete with a cake and even an owl basket.

Owl ThemeOwl Theme

The amount of loved ones and the generous gifts they brought for my baby was so overwhelming.

My Wonderful Guests My Awesome Family

I still haven’t disassembled my diaper cakes, owl, or carriage because they’re so pretty!

Diaper Creations

My favorite gesture was all the books everyone brought to start baby’s library.  My friends at my weekly ceramics class also threw me a small shower. Even though I haven’t been able to paint, they still made sure I had opening gifts and eating some adorable cupcakes.

Ceramics Shower

Since the showers I’ve been spending my spare time putting together baby furniture and toys (which takes a lot longer with swollen hands)and trying to get everything in order.  I could go any day now! I actually really enjoy being pregnant. I’ve been very lucky. I didn’t get any morning sickness, and my biggest complaint is some back pain which mostly comes at night.  It’s so amazing feeling a little person dance around inside me. I think feeling the baby’s movements is what I’ll miss the most.  Of everything I’ve ever been blessed with, this baby is the greatest gift I’ve ever received.

Owls!

Last night I designed a Thanksgiving shirt to show my gratitude. I designed the shirt on my computer and printed it on iron on paper I had left over from a few other shirts I’ve made. You can buy iron on paper and print your own designs to custom make anything. The shirt may only be good for one time use,  but I love it!

Thankful

Thankful Me and Mom

Halloween Week

Happy Halloween everyone! This is a favorite holiday of mine. I love Halloween week, especially!

I’m trying not to watch scary things while I’m so pregnant (I don’t want my heart racing too much), so we’ve been watching more fun Halloween movies. Nightmare Before Christmas, Hocus Pocus,  and all the fun Halloween TV show specials. Matt did try to sneak in one of the Friday the 13th movies, because I’ve never seen them, but I couldn’t stand how cheesy it was. I’m more into psychological thrillers like The Shinning or Psycho, or ghost/possession stories. Not so much the gory slasher stuff. They are always too corny. Last night we watched Adams Family Values and put together our crib, and I was thrown a work shower, complete with crafty decorations from my buddy Meg. This baby is starting to feel more and more real!

Work Shower

I worked from home on Halloween, so I was able to see all the trick-or treaters. I was surprised how many little kids loved my address pumpkin!

Address Pumpkin

Obviously I didn’t go out this year, but it didn’t stop me from dressing up. I used a Styrofoam sheet we got from the packaging from a crate to make my costume. I just cut a hole in the middle, measured out my belly, and then cut the edges in a sloppy circle shape to be an egg! I used Lilu’s costume from last year, a piggy, so we could be ham and eggs together :). If Matt didn’t have work, I’d have made him be a slice of cheese (aka himself). I made my nieces and nephew special little cauldrons of candy, complete with ghost pops. All you have to do is wrap some tissue paper around a lollipop, tie with some curling ribbon, and draw a ghost face. Aren’t we a cute bunch?

Halloween_2014

Tuesday was the season finally of my favorite (and very Halloween-esque) show, Face-Off. If you don’t watch it, you should! It’s a movie makeup competition show but with no drama or negativity, and based solely on the talent of the contestants. They even help each other even though they’re competing against each other. For the occasion, I made dinner with our baby wine.

So what’s baby wine? For my bridal shower, my bridesmaids gifted me a basket of wine. Each bottle had a special label designating the bottle for all out “first” occasions, including Christmas, new year, dinner party, anniversary, Valentine’s Day, and our last bottle, our first baby.

Here’s the poem written on our baby bottle if you want to recreate it:

“The news that a baby will soon share your life
will make you a mother, not only a wife.
You’ll see it through good times and sometimes through bad,
Angela the loving mother and Matt the dearest Dad.
Sadly Matt must drink this one alone and Angela with an empty glass.
Sit back and relax; nine months will quickly pass!”

Baby Wine

Since I can’t drink the wine, and Matt didn’t want to drink the whole bottle alone and on a work night, I finally busted open our baby bottle to use in my FaceOff dinner.

I don’t really measure, but I don’t think you could mess this up.
I first sautéed spinach with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and a few cloves of diced garlic. When the spinach is nice and wilted, remove from the pan and add some more oil and a few pats of butter. When the butter us melted and hot, add a diced onion and LOTS of diced garlic. I probably used 9 maybe 10 cloves. After the onions and garlic are sautéed, add in frozen shrimp and cook until they are almost done, then remove from pan. Add about half the bottle of wine, a ladle of pasta water, and some some oregano, basil, parsley, salt, pepper, and bay leaves.

Baby Wine Dinner

Simmer away until the alcohol is burned off. Put in the pasta, shrimp, and spinach back into the pan and toss it all together with a handful of breadcrumbs and another handful of Parmesan cheese. The shrimp should finish cooking in the sauce, and you’re ready to chow down! We had some fresh mozzarella with balsamic on the side, and I pretended to be fancy with my water in a wine glass. It was great food, a great finale (my favorite contestant, Dina, won!), and a great Halloween week.
Baby Wine Dinner 2

DIY Necklace: Wearing the Beach all Year

Beach Necklaces

I grew up here, ten minutes from the beach. I can’t imagine having to plan on going to the beach. It’s something I do so casually that I still forget what a special place it is. I usually go to the beach during the week, after work, and alone. We love Island Beach State Park. If you drive past their first two bathing beaches, there is some amazing scenery. I don’t think people realize there is so much beauty right in NJ. Pictures of the walk to the ocean rival some you can find on a tropical island. I love the walk to the ocean. As you walk through the trees and sand, at first all you hear are birds. Then the smell of the ocean comes and you start to hear the sound of waves, and finally you get to the view. When I head to the beach most people are leaving it, so it’s like my own private oasis. I always keep a blanket or chair in my trunk, and if I know Matt will be late coming home from work I just head to the beach and read for an hour or two.

Walk to the Beach

But I didn’t really get to do that this summer. I was afraid of going to the beach alone. I’ve never had fainting spells or anything, but I didn’t want to risk overheating by myself while pregnant. I only went to the beach a few times, and I did have to plan around it. It made me appreciate my proximity more. I don’t think I’ll ever want to live far enough away where I have to plan a beach trip. I know that with a baby I’ll have to be more structured with my beach time next year, but I’m glad that if I ever am bored and we have nothing to do we can always walk to beach to pass the time.

Beach

September is a great time to go to the beach. There aren’t many people and the water is super warm. Matt and I went recently for no reason other than we were bored.  We collected seashells, put our feet in the water, and watched as the tiny clams and sand crabs burrowed into the sand. It made me sad that summer is pretty much over. I can still walk the beach in the fall and winter, but it’s not really the same.

SeaShells

So I’m going to wear the beach all year long. I made these simple beach bottle necklaces to keep the sand close to my heart. I found a set of tiny bottles at Michael’s. Attach the ring to the cork (You might have t trim the metal with some wire cutters. put some sand in the bottle. It’s easier to scoop the sand rather than pour it. Then I used needle nose tweezers to put in a tiny sea shell, apiece of sea glass, and a piece of faux moss (to look like seaweed). Use some leather cord as the necklace, and you viola!

beach necklace

I made a second charm as a message in  a bottle. With less sand, I added some small shells, and I wrote a note on a piece of scrap paper (I ripped the paper so the edges weren’t so straight). I realize I could have just scribbled or not have written anything at all, but I like an ocean quote for my ocean necklace. I know it’s there, after all.  My message is from Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic.” I rolled up the scrap and put it in my bottle. How sweet!

message in a bottle

If you don’t live near the beach, you could make your necklace with sand and shells from your favorite vacation destination and keep it close to your heart too.

Backyard Camping

It’s been a crazy August in our house. I’ve been wanting to start the baby room, but right now it’s still a storage space. We have to water proof the basement first so our things don’t get ruined. It’s been feeling a bit cluttered, but not cluttered enough to cancel our backyard camping with my nieces and nephew!

 InstagramCapture_78fc8b8d-5c21-42b8-a1bb-45b559247f34_jpgFire Pit Time!

Matt finished the rock wall around out fire pit,

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and it’s the perfect space for marshmallow roasting

Marshmallow Roasting

and making s’mores.

S'more!

Matt helped them pitch a tent, which was a fun play space.

Tent Time

Everyone decided to actually sleep in the living room instead of the tent because of some drizzling rain, but we made sure we’ll have another camping day when the weather is better!

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The next weekend we finally made Angelina’s Titanic shadow box. She knows everything there is to know about the ship, and the shadow box includes commemorative coins, pictures of the actual ship, Rose’s hair clip and necklace, and even a piece of coal from the actual ship!

Titanic Box

The kids are all on vacation this week with my parents, but should be back this weekend. I miss them! I’ll need to post my beach wreath and fairy garden soon. Happy end of summer!

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