How to Fill Driveway Cracks

This was one of the most long overdue projects at our home. We’ve been talking about what a hot mess the driveway was for the last two and a half years. There were chunks of top coat missing from years neglect, 2 of which were admittedly our fault, and patches of grass.

I was almost half tempted to let it grow and see what the earth had in store for this asphalt disaster. But I figured it would be another 50 years of neglect and overgrowth before it actually looked balanced enough to photograph and I don’t have that kind of time. So we opted to fill in the cracks.

The first step to fill in the cracks is to remove the grass from them. I was actually surprised about the depth of the cracks once we removed the grass. I may or may not have role played God looking looking down at the Grand Canyon. “Thou shalt be a giant crack in the earth’s crust, illuminated by the light of surrounding casinos.”

After we revealed the canyons of cracks in our driveway, Brian edged the side. Why not clean it all up, right?

Then there was dirt everywhere, but no grass! So we rinsed it off.

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This will need time to dry before you start filling in the cracks. Next, you’ll need a bag of sand, which by the way will be ridiculously heavy. I don’t know if you knew this, but a 20 lb bag of sand weighs about the same as a small hippo. After 10 ft of holding the 20 lb bag and shuffling around the driveway, we took a ziplock back, filled it with sand, and cut out the corner. I highly recommend the ziplock bag strategy.

You don’t need to fill all the cracks with sand, but it’s recommended that you fill cracks larger than the size of your nail with sand before sealing with the crack sealing tar. The sand will keep the tar from settling deep in the cracks and cracking itself. It’s also more cost efficient to use sand than it is to fill everything with 100% tar.

Look at that stud hard at work. Ready to seal the cracks!

This blacktop crack filler is available at Home Depot. At first we started off with one small bottle, then we realized we were going to need stock in this stuff. For the second go-round, we went back to Home Depot and opted for the village sized bottle (which we used 100% of), which was only a couple dollars more than the hut sized bottle. When in doubt, always buy extra. Having to stop in the middle of your project is a major buzzkill and derails your momentum.

We poured the crack filler generously over the sand and used a flexible joint knife (the trowel-looking thing to smooth out drywall spackle) to flatten the crack filler, sealing it down. This part was the most fun. It also went the fastest. We moved quickly because this stuff cures in the blink of an eye.

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I’m not sure if it’s some chemical they intentionally put in there, like wet pink spackle, or if the sun changes it, but I almost had a heart attack when I saw the filler was brown. I though we would have been better off with the grass look, but thankfully it dried black.

It took a few hours to dry to the point of being tacky and about 24 hours to dry completely. But now our cracks are filled and we’re grass free!

Ready to seal coat your entire driveway? Check it out >

 

Black & White Photo Gallery

I celebrated my birthday this weekend with my spectacular husband and family. Brian gives the most thoughtful gifts, but he’s too excited to give them. I could only handle two days of, “You’re going to love your birthday gift,” before I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed to know what it was. So he went upstairs, got the gift, made me close my eyes, and when I opened them I saw……

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This is my absolute favorite picture of Duke and Duchess. Brian had it hand drawn by an artist! It’s gorgeous and even more beautiful in person. Here’s the original photo.

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Original Photo

I was so inspired by the classic black and white shades of the picture I knew I needed to give it a prominent place in our home. I decided to do a black and white photo gallery, which I nick-named “The Dog Wall”.

My rules for the wall were simple. 1. All pictures must be black and white. 2. At least one dog must be present in each picture. That’s it!

I started by scrolling through my albums and editing photos using my iPhone to change the image to black and white. Once I chose the pictures I printed at a Rite-Aid. I ordered 11 photos in different sizes. The total cost was $18.

Aside from the idea of having 12 pictures of our 3 dogs (of course Lady was included!) on the wall, the most exciting part of the project was the assortment of frames! My mom had a few old frames that were in a box in the attic. For the remaining frames, I went to Goodwill and picked out some extremely tired frames that needed a sexy new look! 6 frames cost $10 at Goodwill.

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I removed the glass and the backs from all of the frames in order to spray paint them. I did this in our basement because it was raining outside and I was too impatient to wait until it stopped. Our house smelled like paint for a few hours. So I’m probably not going to do that again. Most likely.

I went over the frames with two healthy coats of black spray paint. I could not contain myself while I was waiting for these to dry. I waited a full 24 hours before touching the frames to avoid having finger prints on the wood. But it was tough keeping my hands to myself!

Once they were completely dry, I put the glass back in and added the pictures!

Here’s the wall the pictures went on before they were up. My little helper wanted to be in the picture. I’m not kidding. She posed as soon as I took my phone out.

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Gallery walls can be tricky, especially when you have 12 different frames.  I recommend How to Hang Stuff, Like a Girl. I’m very visual and I need to plan out how the wall is going to look and make adjustments.

Here’s the finished look!

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It’s tough getting a picture of this wall because it’s in a hallway, but I crawled inside the coat closet across from the frames so you could see how it looks up close!

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We love our dogs!

Veggie Garden in 8 Hours

This was one of my favorite projects, but I have to admit, I was not prepared for the level of work this was going to take. If you already have a spot with no grass, or an existing garden to work with, I envy you. We picked the spot on the side of our house that the dogs cannot reach and started digging. Holy crap was this a lot of work. The digging was fun, but I was thinking ok, this is going to take 30 mins. WRONG. Our garden is 8X4. Which really isn’t even all that big. We were going to do 8×8 because we’re ambitious and I’m a crazy tomato lady. I want hundreds of tomatoes. I want enough tomatoes to create my very own little Italy in our neighborhood. But, I’m glad we scaled it back for our first garden experience because all my digging muscles hurt for two days.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4×4 pressure treated wood
  • Wood rails (you decide the length) pressure treated
  • Shovel or tiller
  • Deck screws
  • Soil
  • Plants to grow!

Here’s the area we started with. We took on piece of wood and placed it on the ground so we could start outlining the area our garden was going to be.

Digging the grass out and turning soil took 2-3 hours. The best advice I can give you is to wait until after it rains to start digging. It rained for almost 3 straight days before we started our garden, making the ground very pliable. We dug about 8 inches down and 16 inches in the corners. SUPER IMPORTANT: Spend the time to remove all the weeds grass, roots, and whatever else you see that can be disruptive to your veggies growth. This will also eliminate a serious amount of weeding that you’ll need to do in the future.

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This hand tiller really helped us turn the soil and find things in the ground that needed to be removed.

You’ll need a 4×4 cut down into 4 posts. Ours were just over 12 inches. We used scraps from a previous project. We used pressure treated wood so the frame wouldn’t degrade in the elements over time.

You’ll need wood screws to join the post to the frame for the garden bed. This part took maybe 20 mins and we did it on a flat surface. It was the easiest part of the project. Continue to work around the 4 sides screwing the frame into the 4×4 posts. Remember, the posts will go down into the ground. So when you’re screwing, line them up with the end of the post, not the middle.

Once the frame is finished, place it over the garden. You might need to reshape the corners of your garden if they’re not perfectly square. After the frame is in place, push the dirt around the edges to secure the posts into the ground and close any spaces between the wood and the ground.

A garden rake wil help you accomplish this step with speed. It will also bring to the surface any large rocks, weeds, or roots that you may have missed before.

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Once you’re happy with your foundation, you can add the soil! We used an all-purpose garden soil that Home Depot had one sale. We were trying to do this on budget, so sale soil it was! We used 14 bags of soil in total. Take a look at the measurements on the bag. It’ll tell you how many bags you need according the the square footage of your garden.

We put 10 bags of soil down, then we starting spacing out our plants. Pay attention to how far apart each plant needs to be from one another. In all honesty, we cheated a few inches. But it’s important that you give them some space so the roots don’t choke each other.

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Once you have all the place in their positions, you can add the remaining bags of soil. Depending on what kind of veggies you got, you’ll need to burry them at different depths. Pay attention to the watering requirements and depth requirements of each plant! Water them right away! They’ll need to adapt to their new environment and the best way to do that is to feed them!

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We planted 4 different types of tomatoes, 3 different types of sweet peppers, serrano and jalapeño peppers, eggplant and strawberries! I’ll let you know in 6-8 weeks if this was worth it! 🙂

Linen Closet Shelving

The days of forgetting a towel and running naked through the upstairs to the hall closet are officially OVER! We DIYed closet shelves!

When we redid our master bath, we removed a huge jacuzzi tub to make room for a custom shower and a linen closet, something our bathroom was lacking. After the bathroom was finished we never got around to actually putting shelves in the closet. For a while the vacuum and a step ladder lived in there.

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Thats me! I need a hair cut, so I’ve been told. I’m 5’9″. So this is a really large closet. Can you see the excitement on my face about getting some shelves in here? WOO.

We opted not to use wire shelving because I kinda have OCD. It drives me BONKERS when things don’t stand up straight because they’re an awkward width. For example, a shampoo bottle might lean to the right a little bit because it’s between the wires. I can’t live my life like that. I struggle with this shelving crisis in our laundry room. Honestly, it makes me dizzy. So we went with wood!

This DIY involved some power tools. So make sure you’re prepared if you’re opting for wood like we did!

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Obviously we’re Ryobi fans. The batteries are awesome. They last a really long time and they charge quickly. On the left is the cordless circular saw, on the right is some kind of super drill. It’s awesome. Shortly after we bought our house we invested in the Ultimate Ryobi Combo Kit. It was a little pricy, but it was completely worth it. We’ve used every tool in the kit and the bag is perfect to keep tools securely stored. Now we have no excuse to lose any tools!

The Home Depot rocks. If you don’t have one near you, I apologize. Home Depot is usually our first stop for every DIY. Our “wood” shelving is actually MDF particle board. It’s really light weight and ridiculously easy to work with. The entire piece of particle board was $26 and they cut it to the size we specified right in the store so we were able to fit it in the car with ease.

 

We also picked up framing wood (actual wood) and made rails to hold the shelving in place.

When we got home I was so excited to start hammering and cutting and screwing stuff in place that I completely forgot that I needed to paint the wood. This DIY was super cheap, but it took us two weeks to execute because we needed to wait 24 hours for the paint to dry and multiple coats to cover the wood… and I’m too lazy to DIY when I get home from work, so we wait for the weekends. However, it only took around 4 working hours to paint (minus dry time) and hang the rails.

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I used Behr Ultra White to paint the MDF board and the wood rails. Our basement is gross… don’t look at this picture too hard. You will start to feel the cobwebs.

 

That’s my hot design assistant. Full disclosure: For this project though he was the boss and I was the assistant. He’s measuring the bottom shelf, cutting the wood rail to size and screwing it into the wall. If you can’t find studs in the wall, make sure you’re using anchors. The shelves will be too heavy once you put stuff on them to stay in place unsupported. Also, it’s easier to start from the bottom and work your way up. Maybe it’s not, but that’s what we did.

 

After we got in the first rails we tested placing the shelf on top. It fit really well, but we added a second piece just to make sure that the shelf wouldn’t accidentally drop. We repeated the process 4 more times. We opted to do a half shelf on top because we wouldn’t really be able to reach back on a shelf that’s 6 ft.

Here’s the final result! No more naked sprints and flinging water all over the upstairs! WOO!

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Industrial Shelving

I feel like we live at Home Depot. Our relationship with Home Depot is similar to most people’s relationship with Target. You come for one thing and you end up leaving with 100. The guy at the paint counter and I are on a first name basis. He’s the man. So last weekend, during our 9th trip to Home Depot of the week, we were looking for some wood to build shelving in our Master Bath and we saw these industrial pipe kits on sale. So immediately the wheels in my little DIY mind start turning. Brian was intrigued and then all of a sudden it was like he knew. He knew we came to do one shelving project and were going to leave with two. So here’s what this corner of our bathroom looked like to start with:

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The tile on the wall is NY SoHo tile from a whole sale tile place a few miles from our home. The Master Bath is by far my favorite room in the house and the largest transformation so far. I’m actually really surprised that its taken me this long to decorate.

Here’s the packaging and how the mount was organized. Everything we needed to hang the flange was included right inside this package. Stuff like this makes my heart dance. There’s no need to run around and figure out what kind of anchor you need or if you have the correct kind of screw.

I used the Ryobi Compact Laser Level to hang the mounts. This gadget is seriously worth every penny. I use it to hang stuff all the time!

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So once I got the level set, I took the wall flange and drew circles in the holes so I would know where to drill.

Buying wood at Home Depot is super easy! They even cut it for you, if you don’t have a table saw at home you don’t have to worry about fitting it in your car. Originally Home Depot cut the wood, but we needed to take a little more off when we saw how oversized it looked on the wall. I stained it using Minwax Honey and let it dry overnight.

Here’s the styled final product! I made the sign with a scrap piece of wood I had!

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Dining Room Update

Hey friends! Our dining room is a huge part of our home. Growing up in my parents house we used the dining room on Christmas day and that was pretty much it. Brian and I host constantly so I want this to be a room that people enjoy spending a lot of time in. There are few things that bring more joy to our lives than seeing memories being made in our home.

That being said, our dining room needed a much needed face lift. If I haven’t said it before, I HATE the wall color that the bank painted our home. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so thankful I didn’t have to deal with another persons insane color choices or wall paper from the 80’s. The paint we have is a step above all that. However, if I had to describe it, I would say it’s a dingy white paint and chalk mixture. If I’m wearing black I avoid grazing the walls because it will leave a chalky residue on my clothes. So annoying. Not to mention it looks kind of dirty. Here are some before pictures.

This space looked dull in comparison to my dreams of a warm space that people would have a hard time leaving.

So let me just brag for a second about the most outstanding husband in the world… Brian is a stud. We volunteered to host Thanksgiving this year and I got the brilliant idea we need to paint the dining room in order for Thanksgiving to be perfect. Brian didn’t say a word, he grabbed his paint brush started to help. We started on Monday night and did most of the trim. Tuesday we decided that I was insane and we needed a pro to help. So Brian went out to Home Depot and picked up a paint gun. Let me tell you… if you don’t have one, INVEST. It is the most amazing tool in the universe. I thought I was excited about my sander, I’m in love with this paint gun. We covered the walls in 20 mins and if we knew what we were doing or had a strategy, we would have been able to paint the whole room in one night.

Check it out.

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You need to give yourself about 16 inches of buffer space, but this saved us HOURS and it was fun to use!

Here’s the final result!

It looks so fresh and warm. The paint color is Wheat Bread by Behr.

Foyer Update

It’s amazing what some paint will do to a room. We have this sandy off-white paint on every wall in our house. I think the bank that owned the house paid a very sloppy contractor to come in and paint over everything. The off-white color isn’t even a pretty egg-shell color. It almost looks like they used an old can of white paint and didn’t mix it all the way. It looks yellow next to the white trim. Sometimes I swear I can see inconsistencies on the walls. Here’s what the foyer looked:

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I also could not stand the color of the wood on this door. So everything in the foyer got a nice facelift! I LOVE dark wood stains. So I used the same wood stain, Kona, from our Half Bath Reno.

Taping all of those windows was really annoying but it made cleaning the glass a lot easier! I’m thinking about doing a mercury glass effect on them. The contractor that installed them got glue ALL OVER the glass and I can’t get it off!

Here’s the new look!

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The stair rail got an update too! Check out the details here.

I found the most perfect little table to go under the mirror also. Check out the details on the mid century side table up cycle here.

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Front Door

This front door update has been a LONG TIME in the making.

The original door was beat to crap when we moved in. No seriously. The doorjambs were cracked. The fiberglass had been ripped out, hammered back in, given a deplorable paint job and you could see daylight through the door. My dad (Hi, Dad) told us, “That’s a glorified bathroom door. You need something more secure.” He was right. There was no deadbolt. A toddler could have kicked our door in.

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We ordered the new door from Home Depot in the beginning of December 2015. It was a prefabricated, pre hung door. It was only supposed to take the door 2 weeks to arrive. We opted for it to be delivered to Home Depot to save the $300 delivery charge and to install it ourselves to save $1,500. As it turned out, the manufacturer didn’t communicate with Home Depot that they would be closed for inventory for 3 weeks and their Christmas Holiday. It took them almost 6 weeks to get the door to us, but by the time it arrived Brian was in a terrible car accident and broke his collar bone into 4 pieces. Due to Brian’s condition and surgery we were unable to pick up the door. Eventually Home Depot got annoyed about storing it for so long. They were calling me regularly to pick up the door. I explained to them about our situation and they dropped the door off FOR FREE! It’s amazing how God works out even the tiniest little things for our good.

It was a few months before Brian was able to install the front door with the help/guidance of two of our amazing friends.

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My guy cutting out the molding 🙂

5 hours later the front door was in and HOLY COW did it make the house look amazing!

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We also installed updated lights and got rid of the original bronze ones from the 80’s. YUUUUCK.

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We wanted a black door so I started to paint. I ended up only painting the door because I wasn’t positive if I wanted a black door with white sidelights or all black. It was getting late and I wrapped up what I was doing. The next day was too ungodly hot to go paint again. The following 12 days poured. Obviously you can’t paint without a clear forecast. Then it got hot again. Then we got sidetracked with the back yard. Then I got sick and required surgery. So our door looked like this for quite some time….

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Not the worst, just not what I wanted. Until today! I was feeling so much better and the weather was begging for an outdoor DIY. So I finally wrapped up the exterior front door project. The outside of our house is nearly finished!!

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What a beauty! 🙂

Master Bathroom Reno

When we bought our house it had been empty for 5 years, so we knew there were going to be problems. That’s the charm of a fixer upper. So we tackled this bathroom reno head on. We did the demo (minus the floor and tub) and a friend of ours finished out the demo and did the construction. Here’s a picture of what our bathroom looked like when we bought our house.

So it wasn’t the worst. Builders grade everything from 30 years ago when the house was built. It was totally white, mostly clean, but completely unusable. The shower had a really bad patch job. Basically a huge portion of the wall had such bad water damage that we could push the wall tiles and the entire wall would bow. They waterproof sealed the tiles. A bandaid on a bullet wound. The tub faucet was completely corroded and the plumbing leaked as long as the water was on in the house. Another huge water problem. So for the first 6 months that we lived here we shut the water off to the master bath and opted to use the hall bathroom while we were saving to execute our dream bathroom.

Here’s some reno fun:

 

It took us some time to agree on a style. Brian prefers a more modern look, where as I am more french provincial/shabby chic blend. However, since this is a shared space it’s important that we incorporated both our styles.

So here’s the final product:

We opted to not replace the tub and have an oversized walk-in shower and linen closet (something our bathroom was missing). My favorite part of this entire bathroom is the pony wall next to the toilet -don’t judge me. I insisted on having that since there is not a separate room for the toilet. We chose White Metal by Behr as the paint color to play off the grays in the tiles. During the day it looks gorgeous, at night it presents as a little blueish. Naturally, Brian loves that. I’ll live with it!

Here are the details:

We chose to run the two accents of tile mosaic in the shower vertically, against the larger horizontal tiles to add texture to the space. The 4 x 8 NY Soho brick tile is so timeless. The imperfections look genuine without looking dilapidated. We chose 24 x 24 floor tiles to add simplicity by balancing the room since the walls are so busy. We chose black to hide dirt, but mostly to hide my hair because I shed worse than both dogs. The vanity and the mirrors add a ton of character to the bathroom. Brian got this from Home Depot on serious discount (over 50% off) because they were discontinuing the style. If you know you’re going to be doing a project and need big ticket items, start shopping early. You never know what will go on sale and you won’t feel so pressured to buy because you’re not running out of time!

How to Hang Stuff, Like a Girl

I have the worlds greatest husband. But sometimes, and I completely understand, he doesn’t feel like hanging things for me when he comes home from a long day at work. You’re probably saying “seriously, you can’t hang your own stuff?” The answer is quite simply “no.” I know where I wants things to be hung, however, I’m really bad at hanging for the simple reason of measuring. You have to measure the whole wall and remember what number is the center. Then you have to measure ceiling to floor. Then measure where the hanging pieces are so the frame ends up where you want it, and if it’s one of those that has two holes on opposite sides of the frame in order to be hung, forget about it.

So I did a little problem solving. I’m a super visual person. Numbers frustrate me. I want to see how it’s going to look and feel, and I just don’t get them from microscopic pencil marks on a wall that I can’t find 5 mins after I make them. You catching what I’m saying? So.. here’s how to hang stuff, like a girl.

What you’ll need:

  • paper
  • tape
  • scissors
  • painters tape
  • screws
  • drill
  • laser leveler
  • anchors (if you’re not hanging on a stud)

First, on a clean, flat surface, flip all your frames over. Take a few pieces of paper and line them up so that they cover the back of the frame completely. The goal is to have a perfect representation of the size of the picture you’re trying to hang up.

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make sure you’ve aligned the paper perfectly on the corner of the frame
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My frame is pretty big, so I needed multiple pieces of paper.

Once you get the paper aligned, tape each piece to the other so it stays the shape you need.IMG_2323

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If you’re hanging multiple pictures, it’s helpful to label them.
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This gadget is AWESOME. It’s a laser leveler and it’s available at Home Depot for less than $20

Put your laser leveler on the wall in a position you think you want your frames to be hung at.

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Make sure the top of your frames are touching the line you want them to be level with. If you look closely in this picture, you can see a black squiggly line under the blue painters tape. I’ve marked off where the hanging clip on the back of this frame is so I know exactly where to drill when I’m ready and since the frame is even where I want it to be hung, I don’t need to measure that distance.

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HELLO, this is WAY too far apart, but no worries, because (this is the best part) you can move around your frames to a position that you like!!

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Ahhhh, that’s much better! I can see that the center frame is slightly larger than the other two, I like the way they’re positioned and I’m happy with the height between the top of our bed and the ceiling.

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Alright, maybe this the the best part, remember about that squiggly line I told you about? Drill right on top of that!! How easy is this?!

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Remove the paper outline and insert the anchor, and the screw! Repeat for every frame you have.

Here’s the final look!

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And that’s how you hang stuff, like a girl!