love in a box

Greetings! Today, I am going to share a shadow box with all of you. I made this box for my brother and his lovely new bride, Melinda.

Their wedding was absolutely gorgeous!! For their gift, I wanted to make a shadowbox that was not only pretty to look at… but had significance to their day!

So. Here is how you make a Shadow Box.
Step 1: Purchase a Shadow Box. Mine looked like this:

I bought it from hobbs lobbs. I liked it because it looks like barnwood, which was, of course, a big part of this wedding.

Step 2: Create a backdrop. I used layer of weathered-wood printed paper, decorated with Rifle Paper floral accents (I scanned a journal, which was also part of the bridesmaid gift!) which as you might recall from this post was a big inspiration for the invites, etc. I overlaid the wood with swiss dot fabric from Melinda’s dress.

When creating a backdrop, think about mixing textures and patterns. Here’s mine:

up close detail

Step 3: Arrange, arrange and re-arrange. Take the elements and place them all over. Switch things out. Try again. I probably had this arranged 7 different ways, with different pieces that I ended up not using.
The best time to decide to make a shadow box is before the actual wedding. This way, you can take any items that you might be able to use (i.e. programs, or even table decorations once the wedding is over.) You will also be able to pay more careful attention to the ceremony (is there a verse you can use? a quote?) and the decor (can you replicate something on a smaller scale?) to have the most custom box you can create.

Here is a closer look at some of the details:

Inspiration pieces:
Gorgeous weathered barn.
Swiss Dot lace from the dress.
Clothespin details.
Wooden Signs.
A beautiful ceremony performed by Zac’s friend Reynolds.

A word of advice on adhesives:

Shadow boxes are created with multiple mediums. Different materials require different adhesives. For papers, use mod podge. Classic mod podge can wrinkle, so I recommend spray adhesive for a flat finish. I would not recommend glossy. A glue gun is ideal for heavier items, like the metal key and glass vase. If you were gluing wooden pieces, use wood glue. Proper adhesives ensure that your shadow box won’t fall apart upon arrival.

Anyway, there you have it: a shadow box tutorial. They’re all created differently and make a totally unique gift. If you have any questions about anything I made specifically, just ask!

Good luck and happy crafting!

nerd lover’s book club: the hot zone

This is the story of my time learning about viruses:
Late 1990’s… my brother becomes obsessed with virus books and reads portions out loud in which people bleed from orifices and tongues fall out. I cry and tell mom.
2006-2007… 3 very misguided semesters as a biology major brought me to an extra credit seminar taught by a virus expert from Mayo, in which we discussed the very real possibility of an outbreak that no one would be able to stop or contain. We eat snacks and punch and return to life as usual.
2011… caught a rerun of Outbreak on cable, loved it.
July of 2012… watched Contagion. hooked on viruses.

Which leads me to my latest book recommendation…

It’s an oldie but its new to me. The Hot Zone follows the true story of filoviruses, particularly different strains of the Ebola Virus. It is terrifying and awesome all at once.

So. If you’re feeling a little nerdy, and if you’re feeling like you’d enjoy a scare, read The Hot Zone. THEN read this latest article about an outbreak in Uganda. Then look up all the other outbreaks since the book was published in 1994 and cry yourself to sleep (but in a good way, I swear).

p.s. I got my copy at Goodwill for 65 cents.

p.p.s. Stay tuned for my next tutorial… coming at you tomorrow. (I have to give the present away first, obviously!)


Well. On Thursday, Kevin and I realized that for the first time in months, we had no commitments for the weekend. If we wanted to… we could have sat around all weekend. But wouldn’t that make for a dull story?

Disclaimer: this is so lame… but I’ll admit something to you guys… after recently becoming hooked on non-callmemaybe Carly Rae Jepson hits, I discovered the song/music video “Good Time.” After watching this video, I started to think that my life has been preeeetty lame since college. I decided that I needed more spontaneity. Which leads us to…

We decided to go to the water park. I.LOVE.waterparks. More than a friend. With the love of a small child. Can’t eat, can’t sleep, Christmas morning excitement kind of love.

It takes about 3 hours to get to the Wisconsin Dells (which happens to be the waterpark capital of the world!) So just like crazy college kids, we drove 3 hours both ways for one fabulous day at the waterpark with my über-fun cousins Rachel and Luke!

So here is my brief review of the latest attractions at Noah’s Ark Waterpark. If you care little for waterparks, skip to the end.

First: Quadzilla

The newest and latest slide. Four people race simultaneously on a mat. Intense fun. Super fast, but not terrifying. Full disclosure: Kev scraped his knee a little, but I am 100% positive that this was a case of an overzealous push-off at the start, i.e. user error.

Next: Time Warp

There’s really no good picture for this ride… it is very dark and possibly the most frightening ride we went on. For the most part, this ride was like being flushed down the toilet but with flashing lights and large jets of water to the face. Screams of delight… and a little terror.

Next: Black Anaconda

The Black Anaconda is a water coaster… there’s a similar ride at the Kalahari. The coaster cruises down, then back up again on splashing conveyor belts. All in all, it was very enjoyable!

That is my synopsis of some of the most thrilling rides of the day. We did some of the slower rides as well, which is nice because the lines are shorter and sometimes you just need a rest from waiting in line. For the record, I did skip the Scorpion’s Tail due to nothing but sheer terror. I might need a little more personal growth before I am ready to stand in a phone booth waiting for the floor to drop out from underneath me.


The moral of this long story is: spontaneity is so good sometimes, even if you end up feeling really pooped for the next few days.

all tuckered out

m & z

A few months ago, my brother, Zac, married my friend, Melinda. Even though I was very annoyed at him for having stolen my friend when they first started up years ago, things really couldn’t have worked out better for me because my friend is now my sister-in-law and is stuck with me forever! yaaaaayyyyyy!

Anyway, as I love weddings, I ended up partaking quite a bit in the planning and designing of this absolutely gorgeous wedding. Someday, I’ll share some of the photos. In the mean time, I’ll show you the invitations I created for them (Zac also contributed quite a bit).

Disclaimer: I am not an artist. I am not a graphic designer. However, I do <3 art and graphic design. So I try. I make mistakes. I work around tools I don’t understand. And sometimes, cool stuff comes out of it.

For Zac and Melinda’s wedding, I was really inspired by Rifle Paper Co. which used to be sort of an obscure, Once Wed secret, but now is blowing up and can now be found at Anthropologie and all over Pinterest. Anyway, I love the rich botanicals of Rifle, and the almost cartoonish quality of their simplified art. So without ripping off their art too much, I set off to paint something similar. This is what turned out:

And, of course, the RSVP card:

This was the first time I physically painted something and tried to turn it into print. I would say it was mostly successful as a small amount of the detail was lost in the scanning process. All in all, it turned out pretty splendid, all things considered.

Stay tuned for more invites and designs!

patchwork shower curtain

Hi friends!

Today I am borrowing a tutorial I found online quite a while ago and sharing the love. If you’ve never checked it out… Design*Sponge is a great resource for decór inspiration, DIY projects and other types of lovely things.
In the DIY section a while back, I found this shower curtain tutorial. I followed it pretty closely, with a few tweaks.

Sometimes I really struggle with creating that perfectly unorganized, non-symetrical style (which is surprising, if you know me, since I am totally unorganized). So. I went to the fabric store and picked out some nice fabric choices. Then, I downloaded the picture and using paint (so technologically advanced!) I colored in the sections (with my advanced skill…) so I could gauge how the pieces would look together.

I changed the dimensions on a few pieces depending on the fabrics I had. I think its a good idea to mix large prints, small prints and solids. It can seem a little overwhelming at times. I recommend finding a large, multi-colored print and using those colors for inspiration. Pull solid colors as well as other prints in the same color family.

I followed the tutorial, figured out how to make a buttonhook! and then ironed it all out. Here is the end result. (Please excuse the ugly flash… our apartment is not classy enough for windows in the bathrooms.)

check out my sweet Meijer shower curtain hooks!

Try one with your own favorite patterns!


Start fresh, like a baby in the sink.

My relationship with blogging has an unstable one. I started this blog with the intention of posting 2 to 3 crafty tutorials a week. After a few posts… I realized how unrealistic that was. I simply can’t finish 2 or 3 projects a week, balancing three part-time jobs, time with Kev and everything else. (Also… it can start to get expensive!)

So when, a few months ago, my very supportive Kev informed me that he bought me a web domain… I was a little uneasy, but there was still that part of me that wanted to keep doing this. So. I carry on.

Welcome to the new and improved Splendid Things by GG. Here you will find tutorials and also a large mishegash that I feel like posting. As you will come to find, if you feel like reading this blog, I have quite varied interests, so here is the place to talk about them all!

I hope you like the new blog, but if you don’t that’s ok too. Anyway, here’s what I’ve been up to.

Summary of my summer:

Going to weddings! It has sort of been the office joke that I go to a wedding every weekend. Between showers and bachelorette parties, that’s not entirely inaccurate. This summer we were able to attend the weddings of John & Erin, Zac (my brother) & Melinda, Jimmy & Amanda, Trey & Nikki and most recently, B Head and Feick. It’s been a whirlwind but so, so lovely.

Eating at Bien Trucha! Someday, I will write an entire post dedicated to the amazing experience that is Bien Trucha. Until then, rest assured that it is the swankiest and most delicious restaurant in the greater Chicago area, and happens to be located 3 mins from our home!

Watching Dawson’s Creek! As a child, I was not allowed to watch Dawson’s Creek. Something about too much sex, I think. It is funny to me considering the crap teens watch today, but thats a whole different can of worms. I am discovering Dawson’s in adulthood, and loving it. Also, Kev and I are watching Friday Night Lights together, which is also so great and something fun for us to watch today. Dawson’s Creek is all my own.

Hanging out with Tuck! He is our adorable, loving and increasingly bratty little dog. Come fall, we will seek a dog whisperer or some sort of super trainer, because if he keeps biting me at 7:30am because I won’t get out of bed… we’re gonna have some issues. But look at that face… he’s pretty cute.

Anyway, that about sums it up. I also went to Ecuador in June, but that deserves its own post I think. So check out the new blog design (the artwork is by me and it magically all works thanks to Dave) and let me know what you think!

Jersey Cotton Necklace

Well I am having a fabulous weekend with some of my craftiest friends! B Head and Egan are here and in between our bouts of “hoarders” marathons (which also brought on a few cleaning binges for me) we decided to get a little crafty!
After creating a few foam coozies… (which were def not blog-worthy) we moved on to greater things. B Head showed me an amazing necklace she made out of an old t-shirt. Because it’s made of jersey cotton, it is remarkably light-weight for large necklace. The best part is, of course, if you have an old t-shirt to re-purpose, the cost is FREE!

But mom! I just want to help!

Dislaimer: Tucker reallywanted to be our little “helper” for this project and pretty much attempted to chew everything we were working on, so he’ll be making quite a few guest appearances because we could not get him OUT OF THE WAY!

Ok back to the craft! First, find an old t-shirt. I used a plain one but you could try a patterned one as well. Lay the tee out on the floor. Cut off the hemmed edge on the bottom. Then, begin cutting 1-inch strips straight across. Do not cut the side seams– you’ll want to end up with loops of fabric.

Taking the loops in both hands, stretch out the strips of fabric, like so. Place the strips around your neck and arrange them how you’d like them to be. You can keep some longer and some shorter for variety or keep them the same length. Once you’ve got it figured out, wrap your fist around all of the pieces and take it off of your head to hold it in place. Using another strip of fabric, wrap it around the strips and tie it to secure. Then you’re done!

Here is B Head’s… in turquoise… which is awesome.
This project takes about 10 minutes and makes an eye-catching accessory. Save it for a rainy day or whip one up on your lunch break! Happy Crafting!

Easy, Peasy Drink Tags

Life is crazy and busy and beautiful all at once, as per usual, but I am going to continue to strive to keep up these posts! I have been working on a few things lately waiting to be posted. I recently walked about 30 blocks checking out a super neighborhood-wide yard sale in Chicago hoping to find some gems, but alas, it was to no avail.
The good news is, there are a couple of weddings coming along that will hopefully involve some fabulous DIY projects to post.

The first wedding, my friend Beth’s, is set for July. And it is going to be fabulous.

The setting: a rustic farm in Oklahoma
The color scheme: turquoise and yellow
 The first project: adorable drink tags.
The basic set-up for the drinks at the wedding will be something like this: 4 different drinks in large pitchers (like this one that I found at Bed Bath & Beyond) all displayed on the table. We’ll put bunting on the edge of the table in turquoise and yellow. Because there will be a variety of drinks, we decided they needed labels!
I created a template on plain paper and after some drawing, folding and redrawing I had an even shape for the signs. This would maybe be easier if you had those tracable shapes they sell for scrap booking. I didn’t though, so as usual, I just made it up.
Once I had the shapes cut out, I made up an oval template that would fit nicely. Then I tested out a few sharpie and paint colors. In the end, I went with paint despite the fact that it’s more time consuming because the color match was more exact.
If you have awesome handwriting, you could just go for at this point. I, however, have what has been classified as “boy hand-writing” so I have my own little trick. I either pick a font I love, or find a free one online and download it. Then I type up everything that I need to write and use that to freehand. If you have terrible handwriting and you can’t freehand either, try printing your words with colored ink. Do a practice run first though in b&w just in case!
Once everything is pasted together, use a tiny hole punch for punch a hole in each side and string some embroidery floss or thin hemp through, securing the tags to the drink pitchers. Here is how ours turned out!
These are so quick and easy, you could totes throw them together for a casual yard party. Everyone knows that some cutesy decorations can immediately jazz up your average party!

the not-so-dainty jewelry holder

If you are anything like me, you like your jewelry over-sized. I have quite the jewelry collection these days, and sadly, no where to hang them up where they are free from tangles and easily displayed for my perusal. What I needed was a jewelry holder as big and as bold as my favorite Anthro necklaces. Voila!

After dreaming up a number of different ideas for a jewelry holder that would be both stylish and capable of holding at least 10 lbs, I went to the thrift store for a scouting trip.
 At the store, I found this used picture. The frame measures just under 3’x3′, so I thought it could be big enough to handle my project. I bought the picture for $5 and brought it to the hardware store. The frame was a little dinged up, and I would have considered refinishing, but once I discovered it was actually particle board, painting became the necessary step.

At the hardware store, I found these molding strips. You could just use a thin plywood, but the molding had a nice beveled edge. I measured the inside of the frame, and cut the strips accordingly. (Did you know they have stations with saws where you can cut the wood yourself in the store! Awesome!)

I picked my color scheme to match my room. Since the piece is so big, I figured it could double as wall art (which my bedroom desperately needs… more on that later. I found a patterned wrapping paper I really enjoyed at a local shop called the Paper Merchant that sells specialty papers, then took the paper to Joanns for a perfect color match in an acrylic paint. I went with a matte finish, but you could go for gloss if you wanted to!

Once the frame and molding strips were painted blue, I measured and cut my wrapping paper to fit inside the frame. I also decided what heights to put the molding strips at and marked the spots on the picture with a pencil. I decided (after some epic failing) to cut the paper into 3 pieces and put each in separately. There was some slight gaping between the existing picture and the frame under which I was able to slide the wrapping paper for a more secure fit and total coverage.

I decided to use an acid-free double stick tape (after staring at the adhesive aisle for about 20 minutes). Because wrapping paper is so thin, I knew that any sort of glue would result in wrinkles in the paper. Placing some tape on the picture, I put the wrapping on in strips, tucking the edges under the frame. I used the pencil markers to make sure the seams in the paper were hidden under the molding.

After deciding how far apart to space the hooks for the jewelry, I marked every 3″ on the strips, staggering the middle strip by 1.5″. I made holes over the marks with a nail. If you try to screw the hooks straight in, you risk splitting the wood *no good.

The hooks I found at the hardware store were simple 5/8″ hooks, which was appropriate for the width of the wood. I screwed each one into the holes in the wood. (Please note: this is much easier to do with pliers, which we did not have and ended up with red, aching fingers.)

Once all of the hooks were good to go, I glued the strips to the edges of the frame with liquid nails. You’ll definitely want to use a similar product for this step to avoid the strips crashing down and breaking your project. Let the project sit and dry for at least an hour, and definitely over night before hanging anything from it. Once everything has set, mount it on your wall and fill it with your loveliest jewelry!

To make this project at home, you’ll need:
Old picture frame
Strips of plywood/molding cut to fit just inside the frame
Paper for the background
Acrylic paint
Double stick tape
Liquid nails

You could try making this with a different frame shapes and color schemes. You could also opt to paint the background, rather than use patterned paper. Make sure to send a picture my way if you make your own!

Happy Crafting!

a bit obsessed with bunting…

I’m not sure what it is about bunting these days… but I just can’t get enough of those darling little flags!

 Since Kev and I aren’t exactly in the market for high-end art at this point in our lives, (let’s be real… even the sale section of HomeGoods can be a bit over-priced) I decided that it was going to be my undertaking to create/find fabulous decor for our little home.

My sister-in-law Emily gifted me this fabulous little book for Christmas this year. Her taste in decorating is amazing and she has created quite a few splendid things herself (guest blogging potential? I hope!). This is my first project from the book, but I’m sure I’ll be attempting others in the future.

Step one is finding some fabulous patterned papers from your local craft store, scrapbook store or specialty paper store. You’ll notice that I did not end up using all of these, but I’m sure they’ll find a crafty home somewhere.

Step two is collecting some thin card board; cereal boxes are a good source. Using a straight edge and ruler, cut a triangle out of the cardboard. Mine is as wide as it is tall, but yours doesn’t have to be as long as the angles are the same and the edges are straight! Using your pattern, create as many cardboard flags and you’ll want to use. I did eight flags, which made a decent-sized strand. When you have the cardboard ready, trace the shapes on to your paper, cut it out and paste it to the cardboard using modpodge. Use a hole punch to create holes about a half-inch in from the side in the top corners. This is the point at which I strayed from the book a little. Instead of using individual 5″ pieces of ribbon to connect the flags, I decided to string them on some jute so the flags would be spread out a little more.

I used leftover 3M hooks to put them up (I used the super cheap kind that come in a large pack for hanging Christmas lights). I put three on an angle to give the look a little dimension and break up the cornery-ness of that area of the room. You could easily just tack loops at the end of the string with nails if you wanted to hang them straight!
If you want to try this at home, you’ll need:
Thin cardboard
Ruler/straight edge
Patterned/colored paper
Hole punch
3M mini hooks/nails
First of all, yes, that is obviously Nick Stokes from CSI and I obviously did not want to turn it off to improve the picture because this part was clearly riveting. 🙂
Second of all, I was happy the result of the flags. I noticed a few flags that were on a sharper angle slid a little, but that is an easy fix with a little glue on the back of the flags.
I am using this a more of a permanent decorative item, but you could easily make these for a party because they are pretty quick and easy to make. They are also inexpensive because most crafters probably have most/all of the supplies at home anyway. Try making them for a party! You could also use contrasting patterned paper/solid paper to make letters and spell something out on your flags.
Let me know how your version turns out!