Archive for Crafts and Decor

Construction update, spring decorating, and some favorite domestic quotes

We are almost finished with our house renovations, and since this has been going on since last November, if I never see a shop-vac again in my entire life, I’d be okay with that. I absolutely love how beautiful my kitchen is. I still can’t believe that God used ice dam damage to bless us in such an amazing way.

God’s goodness to us in this renovation has been evident. Almost embarrassing. He knows that my heart is to use our home to serve others, and He gave me WAY more than I ever hoped or imagined. I hesitate to write how excited I am because I don’t want anyone to think that I equate God’s smile with our American idea of a beautiful home. Still, after years of using our 1950’s kitchen for God’s glory (which, by the way, I grew to love and decorated the best I could) I’m excited to wash dishes in my brand new farmers sink.  Is that bad? Shallow?

During this whole affair, I’m firmer than ever in my conviction that a clean, orderly home is good for the mind, body, and soul. After living in boxes and seeing dust and debris for months, and feeling the mental confusion and frustration that disarray brings, I am more inspired than ever to keep our home well.

During these dusty months, friends have invited us in for dinner and ministered to us, another blessing of this project. My in-laws and parents were also a huge blessing, allowing the kids to study in peace at their home away from banging hammers, and allowing us to stay at their home during the worst phases.

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Although we’re still not completely done with the project (our floors are being done this week) I’m excited to do a little decorating in the places I can.

I saw some spring table decor in the Pottery Barn catalog that I loved but couldn’t afford spend the money on–this bunny cloche  {um, $169–crazy town}and spring flowers and nest –so I went to Michael’s Crafts this week and made my own version for a fraction of the price. (My DIY tutorial for the nest is here.) I like how it came out and love how it looks on my kitchen table.

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IMG_5144I found the cloche at Michael’s for $12 after my 40% coupon. It was in the area that had a bunch of fairy and gnome miniature house accessories. I covered a round piece of floral foam into the bottom and covered it with Spanish moss, attaching it with hot glue. I added the vintage glittery chick (in the seasonal Easter section) and a few sprigs of fake flowers. The tiny eggs were on a floral pick, so I pulled them off and stuck them in the ground. The mini nests were $1.99, and I just added moss with a glue gun and a few tiny eggs and leaves. (I have a tutorial for the larger nests here.) The grass covered bunnies were from Walmart. Anyway, after all the construction, I was so happy to decorate a little bit. I’m in the process of searching for fabric for kitchen curtains, my next project. :)

Are you guys excited for spring? Decorating? Send me your photos or tell me in the comments what you are up to. I love talking crafting. :)

Finally, since I’ve had homemaking on my mind lately, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite quotes that I hope will inspire you as you work in your home:

A household has to be tended if it is to flourish and grow. Housework is never ‘done’ in the same sense that gardening is never done or that God’s providential involvement in the world is never done. Housework and gardening and God’s providence itself are exercises not in futility but in faithfulness – faithfulness to the work itself, to the people whose needs that work serves, and to the God whose own faithfulness invites our faithful response.” Margaret Kim, Keeping House

I first learned that housework has meaning by observing my grandmothers. The reason they made a fuss when they saw their granddaughter doing things in a “foreign” way is that they knew–in their bones if not in words–that the way you experience life in your home is determined by how you do your housekeeping…

Understandably, each of my grandmothers wanted me to make a home in which she could feel at home…

This sense of being at home is important to everyone’s well-being. If you do not get enough of it, your happiness, resilience, energy, humor, and courage will decrease…Home is the one place in the world where you are safe from feeling put down or out, unentitled,  or unwanted.

Home Comforts, Cheryl Mendelson

 

God’s economy is fantastic…As we serve someone, a human being, we can be serving the Lord…How do I regard my having tun upstairs with tea, or having served breakfast in bed, or having continued for years to do this kind of thing for a diversity of people,  as well as for my husband and children? How do I look at it? Do I feel like a martyr? Let me tell you exactly how I see it.

First, I say silently to the Lord, “Thank you that there is a practical way to serve YOU tea[or breakfast in bed, or whatever it is that I am doing for someone.] There would be no other way of bringing You food, or doing some special thing for You.  Thank you for making it so clear that as we do things that are truly in the realm of giving of ourselves in service to others, we are really doing to for You.

Edith Schaeffer, Common Sense Christian Living

 

“Putting away things that get daily or weekly use is a way to exercise a kind of providential foresight…Having clothes ready to wear in the drawer or in the closet is part of creating an expectation that in this home we care for one another. Our needs are not a perpetual emergency but are anticipated and provided for ahead of time.” Margaret Kim, Keeping House

I hope you have a great week.

*Post contains affiliate links to Amazon. Thanks for supporting my blog.

DIY Doctored-Up Dollar Tree Church Ornament

Wanted to share an easy craft I’ve been working on for Christmas.

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I love New England churches, so when I saw that Dollar Tree had these ornaments, I snatched up a bunch to doctor-up.

I simply added twine, plaid ribbon from Michael’s Craft Store, and mica glitter with a glue gun to add “snow” to the roof line and perimeter of the church. You could also add a silver bell in place of the pine cone that comes with it.

They’ll be really cute attached to brown paper packages.

Enjoy.

DIY Old Pewter Mint Julep Cups

It’s the weekend and this week I’ve been crafting up a storm for our daughter’s upcoming wedding festivities.

I wanted to decorate one event using the very popular “mint julep cups” look. If you don’t know what I mean, go on pinterest and search “mint julep glass centerpiece.”

The cups are usually silver plated, and they were a little more expensive per piece than I wanted to spend, so I got to crafting, girls, because I needed to copy the look.

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I had trouble finding tutorials online. Everything was either for faux mercury glass (which is lovely and I’ve made before for candle holders) or didn’t look “authentic” to me. Also, I needed something that could hold water for flowers when the project was done, so the mercury glass thing was out because it’s painted on the inside and when water hits, it would all flake off.

So I texted a few crafty friends, including Lindsay and Jolene of New England Nesters, and jumped in. I tried three different approaches, and they yielded three different looks: silver, old zinc, and old pewter.

Here’s what I did:

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I found these cute glasses at the Dollar Tree. They say “Old Fashioned” on them. Right up my alley. I liked that they had ridging detail and a logo on them because many mint julep glasses have monogramming or something fancy on the front. You can use any glass you like.

I removed the price tag and washed and dried them well.

 

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I lightly sprayed the outside with Rust-oleum Bright Coat Metallic Finish. I wanted to give it the thinnest coat I could and tried to avoid paint drips.

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(You may notice little white dots on this pic. My 2 year old foster son squirted me and the cup with his water blaster. LOL. It did no harm and he thought it was hysterical…so he kept doing it.)

(If you want your project to look new and shiny like this picture, this is actually very close to the finish of a new silver mint julep cut. After this step you could give it a second coat and be good to go. These look lovely with votive candles near the base because they reflect the light.)

After this first coat dries, I gently applied a thin coat of “Dark Pewter” acrylic paint with a dry brush and in a circular motion around the perimeter of the cup. (Not up and down height-wise/vertically. Does that make sense?)

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I really liked how this looked after this step. It reminded me of the old zinc lids of a canning jar.

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After this, I ever so lightly sprayed a second coat of the silver spray paint…almost misted it…trying to manipulate the spray so that it didn’t get full coverage. I wanted to leave some of the pewter color peeking through.

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I was so excited with how this turned out. When placed side by side to my old pewter, this finish was extremely close. It even has the dark blemishes of old pewter.

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I filled this with flowers (fake from Walmart for the picture) and I think these will be so pretty in every window.

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IMG_3026I hope you enjoy this tutorial. If you make some, send me a pic or if you are a blogger, shoot me a link. Have a great weekend, everyone.

**These glasses are for decorative purposes only. You should not drink out of anything sprayed with spray paint, Mkay? 😉

Video: DIY twiggy front door cross {from my beautiful sister! Woot!}

So many of you loved and asked for a tutorial for my sister’s front door cross, that I asked Amy to make a video for us and she agreed! Woot. I love her and her lovely front door decor. Enjoy!

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DIY Spring Bird’s Nest Tutorial

Even though we still have two feet of snow on the ground, I’m working on decorating my house for spring. Today my goal was to finish decorating my mantle.

I made this bird’s nest for the mantle and thought I’d share how I made it. It’s kind of a no-brainer, but if you are not crafty, maybe this will help you to try your own. I just LOVE bird’s nests in general, so this is one of the sweetest crafts in my opinion.

DIY bird's nest

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You need two grapevine wreaths, one bigger and one smaller. The smaller one should fit inside the larger one. I found these at the Dollar Tree.

Using the larger grapevine wreath as the top of the nest and the smaller one as the bottom, wire the two wreaths together. Then form a bottom of the nest by weaving the wire like a basket. It’s okay if it’s a mess. It will all be covered. You want the basic shape of a nest or a bowl. Wire it to death if you have to to get the rounded shape.

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Next, I used a glue gun to add moss to the outside. I found the moss ribbon at Jo-Ann’s Fabric for $3.99. I pulled the moss so that it looked loose and sparse and not “ribbonny.” I wanted it to look natural.

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After I line the outside with green moss, I added some to the inside of the nest. I then stuffed the bottom with a good sized handful of Spanish Moss, also from the Dollar Tree.
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After the basic nest is done, you can pretty it up by hot gluing small flowers, berries, or leaves around the perimeter.

Finished DIY Grapevine Birds Nest

Finished DIY Grapevine Birds Nest

I filled mine with five little eggs (for my 5 kids). The eggs were also at Jo-Ann’s. Other years, I’ve used the nest as a candy dish, placing a shallow dish inside and filling it with Cadbury Mini Eggs, which look adorable. I’ve also filled them with yellow Peeps for Easter.
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Here’s the finished mantle. I used things I had around the house: an old Ball Jar filled with moss, one of my favorite antiques, a signed Wallace Nutting print entitled “The Coming Out of Rose”, some galvanized buckets filled with greens and a few natural elements from some potpourri I had around the house. I hope this inspires you to try your own nest. Send me pics if you make one!
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Frugal DIY Chalkboard Hack

Wanted to share this quick idea with you. I came up with it while trying to think of a frugal way to decorate for a church event this weekend.

Behold, the foamboard “chalkboard.”

Foam board "chalkboard"

Foam board “chalkboard”

My Walmart sells black foam board near the poster board. It was less than $3.

I brought it home, rubbed it over with chalk, then wiped it with a tissue. That gave it a chalkboard look, instead of it being solid black. I sketched words and the nativity (I used a clip art image as a guide) then, when I was happy with my design, I traced it with white chalk marker, also available at Walmart.

What do you think? Pretty convincing for a fake, huh? I don’t think it will hold up to erasing the chalk pen, but I will let you know if it does.

It’s large, so it would also be great as a focal piece on your Christmas mantle.
Let me know if you make one, or share your link in the comments! Have fun!
Magic Cabin

Virtual Christmas Open House

Magic Cabin
I love decorating, and never more than at Christmas time. It’s a love my mother taught me. And like I told you in Merry Christmas, Meager Budget , my decorations are not elaborate or expensive, but they don’t have to be. Simple things make the home feel warm and cozy.

I mostly decorate with natural greenery, lights, and ribbon.  I snip pieces of different greens and wire them in bundles and stuff them in corners here and there. It does the trick and makes the house smell beautiful.

I thought it would be fun to do a virtual open house, so come on inside.

Wreath Welcome

I found this ribbon at Homegoods and fell in love with it!

I found this ribbon at Homegoods and fell in love with it!

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Come on inside.

The kitchen. This is my favorite room to decorate. We spend so much time here. We homeschool at the kitchen table, so we are here a lot of the day.

The kitchen. This is my favorite room to decorate. We spend so much time here. We homeschool at the kitchen table, so we are here a lot of the day.

I absolutely love this antique jelly cabinet. It holds my extra dishes and behind the magic curtain I store home school resources.

I absolutely love this antique jelly cabinet. It holds my extra dishes and behind the magic curtain I store home school resources.

I stick cedar and holly everywhere. My grandmother gave me this brown transfer-ware gravy boat and dish set.

I stick cedar and holly everywhere. My grandmother gave me this brown transfer-ware gravy boat and dish set.

I found this antique recipe box at an antique shop 20 years ago. It's full of handwritten recipes. Someday I will go through them.

I found this antique recipe box at an antique shop 20 years ago. It’s full of handwritten recipes. Someday I will go through them.

I refinished this Hoosier Cabinet when I was 25. It was a wedding gift from my mother in law.

I refinished this Hoosier Cabinet when I was 25. It was a wedding gift from my mother in law.

Kitchen tree with antique style mini cookie cutters. My hoosier holds all of my Gooseberry Patch cookbooks.

Kitchen tree decorated with mini cookie cutters and mercury glass. My Hoosier holds all of my Gooseberry Patch cookbooks.

 

This beeswax lamb was made by my sister Bethy with an antique chocolate mold.

This beeswax lamb candle was made by my sister Bethy with an antique chocolate mold.

Motto sampler in old Adirondack style frame.

Motto sampler in old Adirondack style frame.

This is an idea I found on Pinterest. I altered it by adding mini lights inside the jars rather than tea light candles. I was afraid it would go up in flames the other way.

This is an idea I found on Pinterest. It’s an antique milk carrier, ball jars, and greens. It called for tealights inside the jar, but I substituted mini-lights…I was afraid it would go up in flames the other way.

Vintage Eatmore Cranberry box. They use to sell berries in these.

Vintage Eatmore Cranberry box. They used to sell berries in these.

Family room mantle and tree.

Family room mantle and tree.

My friend, Jen, gave me this sparkly "Merry Christmas" years ago. I filled pots from Ikea with mini trees, added greens and lights. Easy.

My friend, Jen, gave me this sparkly “Merry Christmas” years ago. I filled pots from Ikea with mini trees, added greens and lights. Easy.

Our tree is decorated with handmade ornaments. This is from a dear friend. Cross stitched on linen.

Our tree is decorated with handmade ornaments. This is from a dear friend. Cross stitched on linen.

The kids learned a simple whip stitch on felt ornaments.

The kids learned a simple blanket stitch on felt ornaments.

This mitten is needle felted onto a felt heart.

This mitten is needle felted onto a felt heart.

Calligraphy from a dear friend.

Calligraphy from a dear friend.

Another mantle

Another mantle

Greens inside the fireplace that doesn't work.

Greens inside the fireplace that doesn’t work.

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Entry way

Entry way

Hope set up this tea table.

Hope set up this tea table.

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Plum Pudding candle.

Plum Pudding candle.

Seasonal table.

Seasonal table.

That’s about it! I enjoyed sharing these pictures with you. Feel free to link up to your Christmas virtual tours or blog posts about what you’re up to!

Happy decorating!

Sarah

 

 

Easy, Crocheted Cowl Pattern

I’ve been crocheting up a storm this week, and after making several infinity cowls and playing with patterns,  I’ve determined that this one is my favorite! Thank you, Liz!

 

IMG_5356.JPGYou need to know that my crocheting expertise is next to nil. I literally have to look on YouTube for a tutorial video every time I change stitches. So, if you have some crocheting skills, you are good to go. I made this cowl in 2.5 hours.

It’s my favorite because it has a beautiful drape to it. 

I used 2 skeins of Lion Brand Yarns, Hometown USA, Super Bulky Chicago Charcoal for this piece. I used a size P hook.

Learn from my mistakes, folks. Crocheting gauge is a real thing. Although the pattern specifies to chain 78 for your initial chain, MEASURE your chain to make sure it is the finished size of 54″! Mkay? THESE are the important things. 😉

I did this one with an N hook and it was a little tighter, and I didn’t like the drape as much. I plan to remake this one using the P hook.

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THIS one, I’m loving as well, but it’s a completely different look. I made this one in Tampa Spice (it uses twice the yarn!) , and it was crocheted using two strands of the bulky yarn. I also had to use a Q hook, which was a little awkward at first but I eventually got the hang of it. I think the younger set would love this chunky look. :)

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These work up so quickly for gifts, and I purchased all my materials at WalMart.

And did I mention that crocheting is therapeutic? Yes, yes it is. :)

What are your Christmas crafting ideas? Feel free to link to them in the comments or tell me about them on our FB page. We’re all ears for Christmas crafting ideas!

What My Mother’s Decorating Taught Me About God

Our house was always the coziest house I knew. My mother loved to decorate and it was evident when you walked in the door.

At Christmas time, the rustic stone fireplace that my dad built was piled high with luscious greenery, berries, lights, candles, seasonal books, and figurines. We’d stare at its beauty.

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I noticed as a child that not all homes were this way.

We would drive up the road in our station wagon and my mother would comment about the lady in that house that has all white rugs and doesn’t allow any children in for fear they’ll spoil her rug. My sisters and I would lock eyes on the house as we drove by, and I imagined that the windows were its eyes and that they had a sad look in them, and I felt sad for the house that didn’t welcome children.

Everyone loved coming to our house, but oftentimes, I wouldn’t like visiting other places. Sometimes they’d feel cold and sterile, painfully clean, sparse, or like nobody cared what the place looked like.

I learned later that many Christians feel that decorating is superfluous. In some circles it’s looked upon as unholy to spend money on nick-nacks and pretty things. Indulgent, even. My mom pointed out this misguided view to us several times in our childhood, and I remember her feeling badly for women who held this view, as though they and their families were missing out on so much.

I wonder, do our homes reflect our views of God?

Is our view of God sterile and basic? All business and no happiness? Cold?

Is your view of God one that denies you of all basic happiness?

Is our view of God beautiful, generous, abundant, creative, good, welcoming, hospitable?

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When God gave instruction to have the temple built in 2 Chronicles 2, one thing you note is that the temple was purposefully beautiful and abundant, full of engravings and tapestries.

For those of you who’ve been given the desire to create and design and beautify your homes, I want to reaffirm what you already know: God is not the author of blah and ho-hum. Whatever God creates is gorgeous and abundant and orderly.

Creating an orderly, wonderfully stimulating atmosphere in your home is a good thing. It’s a reflection of the nature of God.

My mother’s decorating taught me that God was the author of order and loveliness. That attention to detail made all the difference in making someone else feel loved. My mom’s efforts in her home were a ministry to others. My mom’s kitchen table was always full, with teens, new families from church, hurting women and those in need. It was not about impressing the Joneses, but lavishing good on the underdog. I watched as women were encouraged, treated, advised, counseled and befriended. It was and is a healing place to visit.

Since when did we get the idea that following God means that our lives would be free from beauty? That following God meant the worst things: dullness, and want and the bare minimum just to get by as though God was somehow a stingy Father.

Within your means, I believe your creative efforts in your home can reflect your view of God. God made us in His image and when we reflect his love for beauty, and goodness, and generosity, we reflect His attributes.

I’m not talking about spending beyond your means.

I’m not talking about expensive things. I’m not saying that you can be covetous at heart over things, or that you must be ruled by the latest Pinterest craze.

Not at all. Creating beauty is oftentimes more a mindset than anything and is inexpensive to attain: Cleanliness, order, music, blazing fall branches brought inside for a centerpiece for the dinner table, candles lit, paintings created and hung, yard sale finds or

furniture taken from the trash and lovingly, beautifully restored into something attractive and useful. (Oh, the symbolism there!)

It’s not frivolous, or sinful, or shallow.  If God gives you those desires, dear friend, embrace it as a good gift and use it for His glory. You can decorate for His glory. You can reflect Him in your home. Those who live there will be thankful. Those who visit will be refreshed.

They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. Ps 145:7

DIY Primitive Welcome Candles

It’s fall, and I don’t know about you but I’ve got the decorating bug. I want to tuck berries and leaves in every cupboard and basket I can find. Chunky knit throw blankets come out for chilly nights, and Yankee Candles are just plain a “staple” during this season.

I also love putting Welcome Lights into the windows. They look so cozy. So today we decided to take our plain welcome lights and give them a more primitive New England look. I thought I’d share how I did it. Here’s the finished product. You can buy them like this but they are pretty pricey if you want to do every window. So we make do and do it ourselves.

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Last Christmas I bought battery operated window candlesticks at a Benny’s, a local hardware store.  I got the type that you set once and they turn on automatically at that same time every day, and then shut off six hours later. They are LED and they flicker slightly.   I knew that the basic shape was right and that I could make them look older pretty easily. Here’s the before:

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To give them a primitive look, Hope and I spray painted the base black. I used flat Rustoleum spray paint from Walmart.

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While they were drying, we heated beeswax chips in the microwave  at 50% power for about 3 minutes, checking and stirring every minute to see how melted it is. I used beeswax because I had it, but you could use any yellowish colored wax or old candles that you might have. Melt them down and add a 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg to give the wax a “grubby” look.

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Then, carefully dip your candles in the wax. Don’t burn your hands with the hot wax, because hot wax burns. Ahem. Ask me how I know. Make sure you are doing this over newspapers or parchment paper to protect your countertops. You want it to look bumpy and waxy. Spoon the wax over the candle filling in any holes or gaps,  to make sure the whole thing is covered. I drizzle wax on the sides to make it look drippy.

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Then I rub extra spices on the wax to make it look older.

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Then, with an xacto knife, cut through the wax so you can get the battery cover on and off when you need to.

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You can make them look as primitive as you want by adding more wax or more spices, and deciding how nubbly you want them to look. Below, the right hand candle is the most primitive.

IMG_4412.JPGBy the way, I used my iPod to take the pictures while I was working because I didn’t want my nice camera to meet with a wax accident. Sorry about the quality. You understand, don’t you? :)

You can take these right out of the bases and tuck them into baskets, or use them as night lights. Super cute.

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What do you think? Have you tried making these? Let me know if you do! Enjoy!

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