DIY Marquee Letters and The Wedding Proposal

DIY Marquee Letters and The Wedding Proposal

DIY Marquee Letters and The Wedding Proposal

March 9, 2017

    DIY Marquee Letters and The Wedding Proposal.  Although these Marquee Letters were made specifically for a wedding proposal, they could easily be used for decorating for other events or just for home decor.

    My oldest son, Jon-Michael had a beautiful ring designed and made by a local jeweler.  He planned to ask Emily, the love of his life, to marry him and was trying to figure out the best way.  He asked for ideas.

    Well, you know I love weddings and started searching Pinterest and sharing ideas from there and even thought up some of my own.   He considered the proposal in a crowd of co-workers and different scenarios played out in his head.

   He considered a favorite restaurant down in Newport on the Levee. 

   Ultimately, he decided to do this in private at their apartment they share with two cats.

  He devised a plan to make her favorite dinner, which included the recipe for Beef Steamed Dumplings.

    He saw that someone had made marquee letters from paper mache letters from the craft store and used the globe shimmer lights.  He really liked that idea.  He went shopping.

   So, Jon-Michael found 16″ paper mache letters at Hobby Lobby.  Fortunately, they were $9.99 each on sale for $5.00.  He decided on ‘Marry Me’ for the letters.

   Light sets, like the one above, were 30 bucks at Lowe’s but he found them for $19.99 at Michael’s and they were on sale for 40% off that price.  He bought two sets.  Okay, this shopping trip was right after he had been weight-lifting.  He puts a lot of effort in that, and immediately afterward, the brain is not functioning at full capacity.  Normally, he is a pretty sharp individual but after a workout, he needs calories from food and lots of it!

   Anyway, it was 8:00 pm and as we were sitting at the kitchen table looking at his purchases, he explained that he really liked the globe lights and how much he paid for them.  I began to do the math.  Seven letters and 32 globes, basically 4 per letter – hmmm.   Nope, that was not going to get it.   He would have to go back and buy a few more to make it work.

    His plan was to be implemented the next evening!  No time for that!

    I suggested a string of 100 white Christmas lights, which were used on the mantel last Christmas.  He ended up agreeing and so we set about making the marquee letters with that in mind.

    With a mat knife, he cut and removed the face of each of the letters.  Have you ever wondered what was inside of the letters?

    Well, here it is!  Lots of cardboard strips bent back and forth fill the inside of each letter.  Notice the ‘X’ on the ‘R’?  When you are cutting these after rigorous exercise and late at night, it would be advisable to mark which side of the letter you are cutting, not that anyone cut out the wrong side or anything.  Most of the letters don’t matter, but this was one that did!  (It was pretty easily glued back together, and afterward, he seriously could not tell which had the boo boo.)

    After the first letter was cut out completely, I started painting.  He had first planned to use spray paint, which might have gone faster but it had started raining the day before and had not stopped.  There was no way we could safely paint these in time for tomorrow night.  

    He bought acrylic craft paint and foam brushes.  It took most of this 8-oz. bottle of paint for the seven letters.

     So that Emily didn’t get suspicious, he, reluctantly, had to return home and leave the painting to me.

   By midnight, all of the letters except for the ‘R’ had one coat of white paint.  The ‘R’ had been glued with Tacky glue.  (That stuff is great!)

   Wednesday morning, the last ‘R’ got a fresh coat of paint and painting the other letters with a second coat began.

    Jon-Michael returned and started plotting out the crosscuts for the lights to be pushed through the cardboard backs.  The ‘M’ was the first to be cut and the lights inserted.  We plugged in the lights.

    He inserted an X-acto knife through the dots marking positions of the lights, pulled it out and then inserted it back into the cardboard across the first line.  We didn’t realize it at the time, but aside from holding the lights in firmly, when the lights were turned on, it created this cross shadow behind the bulbs!  It reminded me of tufting!

    Didn’t this turn out beautiful?  We were pleasantly surprised.  It took a little bit of calculating to figure out the spacing of the lights and how to get the cords to reach on some of the letters.  You can see that we opted to change the spacing on some of the letters in order to make the cord reach or work better. 

    We also ended up putting a burnt-out bulb between the second R and the Y.  We needed more of the cord to reach.  That worked perfectly.  We used that technique between the two words, also.  (Remember to calculate that when allotting the number of lights per letter!  We didn’t initially!)

    At first, my plan was to put the letters in a Rubbermaid bin to transport them to the apartment.  Yeah, that was not going to work.  Ultimately, we laid letters back to back and angled others over top of those in order to transport them on top of a piece of foam board.  It actually worked pretty well.

     Jon-Michael had planned to put the letters on the wall.  We came up with a variety of ideas, which were quickly nixed for one reason or another.  The cords hanging out of the back created a problem with most of those ideas.  We decided to use a couple of stools and a board to sit atop those.  A white table cloth on top of that would mask the board and stools. 

   As we were cutting, painting, and finally assembling, we were brainstorming how and where to put the marquee letters.  Dinner would be served in their dining area and the letters and ring would be in the room with her antique sofa and chair, off limits to the cats.

    However, once we were in the room, we decided the board could just be laid across the sofa arms and covered with the tablecloth.  Two cloths were brought to cover the board and the coffee table.  We thought the letters resting on the board and laying back against the sofa actually looked pretty good and decided not to attach the letters to the board.

    The coffee table covered, the ring, in its box, was placed in the center of clear glass candle holders with battery powered votive candles.  He decided against the unattended open flame.  (Jon-Michael has completed his Firefighter Training Course and is currently enrolled in an EMT training course, aspiring to be a firefighter for one of the local fire stations.)

    Yes, I would have loved to stay and take pictures but left and headed home to wait for their announcement later!

   Do you realize that this marquee sign had been put together in less than 20 hours?  There’s nothing like waiting until the last moment!  Overall, it looked pretty impressive.  Emily asked where he had purchased the letters!

     Oh!  And she said “Yes!”

    Has this “DIY Marquee Letters and The Wedding Proposal” post inspired you to make some of your own for your special event?



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You Can Create Visually Appealing Displays Easily!

You Can Create Visually Appealing Displays Easily!

March 11, 2016

Visually Appealing Displays

    Last week we had a couple of visitors who were very complimentary of the decor and the visually appealing displays in our home.  ‘You Can Create Visually Appealing Displays Easily!’  These gentlemen were not the first who have mentioned this, but they install windows.  They assured me that they have been in a lot of homes over the years and commented that they liked how our home was decorated.


   Knowing how much work we have put into our home, I felt pretty good hearing their stamp of approval, as you can imagine.

   That started me thinking about how this visual appeal was achieved in our home. Creating visually appealing displays is not difficult.  It is simply taking your every day and, or, cherished items and placing them in a way that is pleasing to your eye.


   Some of my best ideas have probably come from merchandising in retail stores. I  have an idea for a multiple clock display on a high blank wall in the family room. Kirkland’s had a display with several large clocks suspended from the ceiling, which was so appealing, it seemed a good idea to create a similar display.  My thought is to hang them on the wall but overlapping them like the display at Kirkland’s.   A collection of clocks is in the process…


   Arranging things to create a display with special pieces and adding a few more mundane things to complement them can make the end product look like a million bucks.  This is a personal thing and there is no wrong way to do it.  If it pleases you, that is what is important.  


   However, there are some principles of arranging things that can be followed to be more successful.


1.  There is power in numbers.  A grouping of similar items gives them an importance they wouldn’t have on their own.  We have a collection of Santa’s, which are displayed on the sideboard each Christmas.  these, spread around the entire house, would not be as impressive as displayed en masse in one spot.

   The boys have an Indian arrowhead collection.  Attaching several of the arrowheads to a burlap covered cardboard and displaying them in a shadowbox frame gave them more impact.


   If you have a collection, displaying the items all together makes a more powerful statement.


2.   Lifts and levels create a more interesting arrangement.  Lifts and levels can be made from an endless variety of things.  Books are one of my favorite things to use as a lift, which is shown in the first picture of the fireplace mantel.  Boxes can be used to elevate an item which needs a little more height.  Lifts and levels can even be made of cardboard and covered, which I shared in an earlier post.  Click here ►DIY Lifts and Levels.


   Consider using lifts and levels to create a pleasing arrangement or vignette. Imagine a buffet where all the food platters are placed on a table lined up in a row.  Then consider the last time you went to an event at a nice hotel where the food was presented on a variety of different elevations.  The latter was so much more impressive, right?


3.  Grouping things which have a similar theme is an easy way to create an appealing display.  A display of several nautical items, vintage items, or sports memorabilia would all make interesting displays.   In this picture, a love of Asian inspired things is displayed along with a couple of vintage books and a vintage book box. 


4.  Grouping things together which have an importance to you can also create an appealing display.  This display is on top of the armoire in a guest bedroom now. The room used to be our youngest daughters and now her daughter, Sophia, says it is her room.  


   The squirrel, the little bird, and the vase of flowers were part of an arrangement on the food display table for Tiffany’s baby shower.  The Samantha doll was a Christmas gift when she was little.  The picture is my favorite of her daughter, Sophia. in our kitchen wearing a little sundress and a hat.  They all have special meaning and I love seeing them displayed.


 5. Color is a great unifier.  Grouping a bunch of items of one color together unites them.  An arrangement of all white items can be a striking display, but a beautiful display of all blue dishes or pottery would make a statement, too.  


   The eye goes to color.  You can use that knowledge to pull a room together with color using knick-knacks, pillows, curtains, blankets, and accessories, and distributing them evenly around the room.


 6. Scale is very important.  Our family room has over a 16-foot ceiling.  Imagine a display of tea cups across the ledge which stretches above the fireplace and spans the width of the room.   Although using tea cups is a slight exaggeration, you get the point, right?  It didn’t take long to realize whatever we put up on that ledge has to be on a grander scale.


   Although the armoire is over six feet tall, it screamed for something with more height to help balance the fireplace wall and the tall ceiling.  Because of the visual weight of the dark bird cage and the similar colors, the eye follows up the armoire and extends to the top of the bird cage, giving the armoire more height and presence.


   Notice that all of the fresh air vents in our home have been painted the same color as the wall.  They visually go away, blend into the background, or at least, don’t command attention!


    I have a tendency to make displays balanced rather than asymmetrical. It seems to me that there is comfort in symmetry.  Our home is rather traditional, but these basic concepts can be applied to any style.

    This was the spring display on the mantel last year.  Side note – I love orchids. Aren’t they beautiful?   If you would like to read my thought process as this display was put together, click here ►Spring Display.


  Creating visually appealing displays is not difficult and makes for a much cozier and interesting home.   Using these tips, You Can Create Visually Appealing Displays Easily!


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Delicious Ham and Bean Soup

Delicious Ham and Bean Soup

January 7, 2016

    When I was growing up, my family lived on “ham and bean soup” and cornbread.

I can remember having this almost every week.  My father died when I was just thirteen.  After he was gone, a lot of meals were beans and cornbread or fried potatoes and eggs.  You might think that there would be an aversion to this humble meal, but not in my mind.   Occasionally, I crave this dish.  Yeah, I really do not crave the fried potatoes and eggs, though.

 Delicious Ham and Bean Soup on

   My husband, on the other hand, does not care for bean soup.  He grew up in Wisconsin where his dad, he, and his three brothers were always fishing and hunting.  Fresh fish weekly was the norm there.  They always had deer meat.


   Dave is not really one for too many leftovers either!  Apparently, with four boys, there were never leftovers!  At home, we made a big pot of bean soup and I remember eating it for meals until it was all gone!  I do not recall having a problem with that either.


   Although we grew up on a small farm, after my dad died we got rid of most of the animals.  My mother worked and never remarried.  Most days, after school, she would call home and tell me what to prepare for dinner.  That increased my interest in cooking and baking.


   Apparently, after I had gone to school at The Art Institute in Florida, meals were a little different.  My mother continued to work, and I am sure she was tired in the evenings.  My younger brother tells me he remembers having potato soup a lot.  So much that he had no desire to ever eat it again.   It is funny how certain foods recall memories.


   This revelation came when he was visiting a few weeks ago and I was preparing potato soup.   We had a good laugh as I revealed my memory of that ‘lackluster’ soup.  I assured him that my version was really good, nothing like the potato cubes in milk that we had enjoyed growing up.  After having a bowl of this rich creamy potato soup, he seemed to agree.  Recipe►Best Potato Soup.


   This recipe for ham and beans is another example of what adding a few ingredients to a simple recipe can do to elevate flavor.  As I recall, the ham and beans we had at home consisted of ham, beans, and water, period.   I don’t fault my mother.  She raised five children alone and you have to give her credit.  She just did not seem to enjoy the art of cooking.  I think she preferred to go outside, garden, and rake leaves or do some kind of yard work.


   In addition to the beans and ham, this recipe has carrots, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaf, tomatoes, basil, and pepper.  It is full of flavor!   RecipeHam and Bean Soup. 


   Actually, I have made this soup many times before without the ham, just adding a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the beans after they were cooked, in place of the ham.  It makes a delicious vegetarian Peasant Soup.


   Maybe you have some memories of dishes from your childhood.  Although these memories could be considered bad, I don’t see it that way.   Yes, perhaps the frequency of having the ham and bean soup gave me some fortitude, which I have needed along life’s way. 



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Bathroom Makeover

    The bathroom makeover is almost complete!  The only thing left is the blank space over the toilet.   The mirror over the sink looks like it was meant for this vanity.  I bought it when a local furniture store was going out of business many years ago.  It finally has found the perfect home.  Notice I still have the basket with extra toilet paper, soap, hand towels, and tissues on the back of the toilet, which was from an earlier post on organization.  I am convinced this is a great idea!


   If you remember in an earlier post, my muscular boys managed to pull the shower rod down a few inches and marred the walls.  I guess these shower rods are supposed to go on the tile, but they slip off of that too easily. Does this drive you crazy, too, or am I alone in this?

    To remedy the problem, I drilled a hole right down the middle of both end pieces, through the foam on the end, and using a drywall screw, attached them to the wall.  Then the extension rod was put in place.  

   Shopping at Jo-Ann’s Fabric Store, I found shower curtain roller rings, which I think will help ensure that this rod does not come down!  I used a fifty percent off coupon and bought the most expensive ones, which ultimately cost a whopping six dollars.  The curtain roller rings have a ball-bearing design and they just glide across the rod!  They even glide easily over the ridge where the two sections of the rod come together!  I think that yanking on the curtain to get over that ridge was the major issue.


   Aren’t switch plates and receptacle plates ugly?  I contemplated buying the decorative plates, but I really don’t like the idea of calling attention to those.  There are so many other decorative items, which I prefer to showcase!  That is why I paint the plates to match the walls.  After applying two or three coats of paint to the plate, two coats of a polyurethane or varnish for exterior or interior use.  That way it can be wiped clean when all those dirty little fingerprints are on it.   I use the Delta Ceramcoat, which can be cleaned from your paintbrush with soap and water.  It can be found at craft stores in the paint section along with acrylic paints.

    The fish picture on the wall above the towel bar is a copy of a page from a book on cut art.  The pictures were all cut with scissors and attached to a background.  

    The frame was originally a bright blue-green color and displayed a picture of frogs in vivid primary colors.  When the kids were younger this was the ‘frog’ bathroom.  A couple of coats of dark brown paint and some varnish applied to the frame, a new mat board and the copy of the fish cut art picture, completely changed the look of this piece.  What a difference there is in the original piece and the end product. 

    Once again, it reminds me of my favorite place,  the beach. The new vanity with the shutter doors also reminds me of the beach.  Although it is not overly apparent when you walk into my home, there are little pieces of the beach in every room.


   My plan is to add pictures of the kids at the beach above the commode.  That is my next project and then the bathroom makeover will be complete.


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Easy Strawberries and Cream

August 7, 2015

    This version of ‘strawberries and cream’ is so simple and easy but tastes like a strawberry cheesecake!  It’s a delicious little mouthful of almond cheesecake flavor wrapped in a big red strawberry.   A whole tray of these tasty morsels makes a stunning addition to a dessert table or a buffet.  Who could not be tempted with these?

   This is a dessert I usually think of and make in the summertime, but it would really be good anytime fresh strawberries are available.  The only thing that would make these better might be chocolate!  That gives me some ideas…



Strawberries and Cream

1 (8-ounce) pkg. cream cheese

1/2 cup confectioner sugar

1 teaspoon pure almond extract

   In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, softened, add confectioner sugar, and pure almond extract.  Beat until smooth.  Fill a pastry bag fitted with a decorative star tip, with the cream cheese mixture and chill for about one hour.


   Quarter the strawberries, starting from the tip to the end of the stem,  Be careful not to slice all the way through the strawberry.   Pipe the filling into the prepared strawberries.  A mint garnish sets off the beautiful red of the strawberries.


  This recipe makes enough filling for about a quart of strawberries.

Strawberries and Cream - Easy, Quick, Delicious!
Strawberries and Cream
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