Vintage Lettered Sign DIY

I am always on the hunt for inexpensive ways to stage and decorate our fixer uppers.

Learn how to make your own vintage style sign for under $25!

You will need:

  • 1 x 18 x 48 top choice board
  • acrylic paint in satin finish
  • spray paint
  • water
  • paint brush
  • painters tape
  • yard stick
  • Avery 8.5 x 11 adhesive printer labels
  • printer
  • scissors
  • tweezers

Let’s do it again!

One day, my grandpa packed the family into the Monte Carlo and they set out with the intention of find the best camping spot for my 13 year old father and his siblings. They drove for hours, not knowing where they would end up. Finally they landed at Chopaka Lodge, which sits on the most beautiful lake. Our family has been going every summer since, for almost 50 years. When I imagine heaven, it’s Palmer Lake.

I figured that if I was going to invest the time into the making this project, I should pick a theme that is close to my heart.




DIY Wood Cutting Boards

Like most brides, I wanted to go the extra mile to set the scene at my wedding. As a kid, before my years as a florist and an interior decorator, I worked for a catering company. I suppose I was over-exposed to the standard catering set up, bar trays and piles of plates. I wanted my day to have a more authentic rustic vibe. One of the ways I achieved this was by eliminating the typical catering equipment. I didn’t have the budget to buy a dozen wood trays (averaging $30-$50 a piece), so I made them myself.

It was so cheep and easy!

I began with Top Choice 1 x 24 x 72 Kiln-Dried Whitewood Softwood Board from Lowes. It runs about $10 a board & will make 2-4 cutting boards. I also bought 1 x 12 x 48 boards to make smaller designs.

Cut the board to desired size. Our table saw was already being used at a renovation project, so I used a jig saw. The 1 inch wood is thin enough to make the cuts. I used a spare 2 x 4, clamped into place, as a guide for the cuts.

Make the octagon design. Set the chopsaw to 45 degrees, and slice. Repeat on all four corners.


Stain is a beautiful touch for decorative cutting boards only. I plan to use these boards as serving trays at our wedding, and then later as accent pieces in our kitchen. If you are planing to actually chop on these boards, I suggest skipping the stain.

Allow the boards to dry over night.

Clean the boards, and finish off with an organic oil. My favorite is an all natural butcher block conditioner that I found on Etsy. My tip for selecting wood conditioner is to read the ingredients (obviously), if the products are edible then you’re good to go.

Here’s a look at the finished product!

Check back soon for updates on where these boards are now.



Flamingos + Pineapples Party 


We’re celebrating my baby sisters 21st birthday in style! Summer might be coming to an end, but the party hasn’t stopped over at the Absten house.

Here’s a look back at some of the highlights from this Flamingo & Pineapple inspired August birthday bash.


No pool required. Wink

Purchased on Amazon for only $14.99 per Dozen.







  • 1.75 liter jug Simply Limeade
  • 1 liter Club Soda
  • 1 can frozen Dole Pineapple Juice 
  • 1 bottle Mango Pineapple Svedka Vodka (750 ml)
  • 1 box Mint
  • 5 Limes (give or take)
  • Pineapple slices

Combine lime juice & alcohol into a separate pitcher.

Tips: Don’t muddle the mint. Small leaf fragments can clog the drinking spout when serving.



  • 1.75 liter jug Tropicana Watermelon Juice
  • 1 liter Club Soda
  • 1 can frozen Dole Pineapple Juice
  • 1 bottle Peach Svedka Vodka (750 ml)
  • Half Watermelon Cut



  • Powdered Sugar
  • Coconut oil
  • 1 can Dole Pineapple Juice concentrate



Gold “21” Balloons: Hobby Lobby

Balloons & Tissue: Target

White Fondant: Fred Meyer

Gold Candles: Target

Hot Pink Cups: Hobby Lobby

Inflatable Flamingo Coasters:

Large Inflatable Flamingo:



Baby Gender Reveal Party: Tips for the New Trend


imageThis year has been a dream come true, the engagement, wedding, countless showers, celebrations, and… Babies! 

When we first got engaged, I knew that one of my bridesmaids would be expecting. However, during the course of my engagement, the number grew from one Momma to four Mommas! Four pregnant bridesmaids!

Time to party!…

I had the pleasure of helping my dear friend Angela throw her baby gender reveal party. If you do not already know, it’s the new craze that is taking Pinterest by storm. A co-ed, gender neutral celebration that includes the new Mommy, Daddy, family and friends. There is tons of room for creative interpretation. Once again, thanks to social media, the competition is heating up.

So let the festivities begin!

We settled on a “Tutus or Ties” theme for the party. Upon entering the party, the guests made a selections and displayed their votes proudly on their chests. 

I constructed the girl’s pins using layers of tulle cut into long strips. I  bunched then together with thread. The boy’s pins are made from colored cardsock that is cut & then rolled with a pen to create the 3D bow.

(Here’s a quick little clip of how I made them.)




Note: I choose to wear a tutu representing Team Girl. I’m usually right. Let’s see how I did!

At the center of the Gender Reveal celebration, next to the glowing Mommy, is the Pull-String Piñata. Hidden inside is a pile of colored confetti. Soft coral pink for a girl, mint blue for a boy.

I built the Piñata using two sets of extra large cross-stitch rings, a pile of gold tissue paper, metallic tablecloths, and more duck tape than I could count. To be honest, it was not an easy task. It took two full evenings to complete the ball. I considered the project a personal challenge and a labor of love. Fortunately, the time invested resulted in a quality product. The construction was so solid that I have actually been able to use it at multiple parties. 

The ball worked great and the feedback on Instagram has been wonderful. I have already had multiple offers to rent the ball. Success!

To create the cute ruffled look, I folded gold tissue into 4″x 5″ accordion layers. Then I cut the half circle shape at the bottom. The process was reminiscent of the paper snowflake garlands that I used to make in elementary school.


The confetti inside the ball had been pre-filled by a third party. A small 3″x 3″ flap in the top of the ball allows for easy access, and can be quickly sealed to contain the surprise.

My aunt Janine took on the responsibility. The night before the event I delivered a bag full of mint confetti, pink confetti, a little gold for shimmer, and one sealed doctor’s note containing the baby’s gender.


I was SO nervous as I transported the ball & hung it up. Just a warning, this feeling does not go away. No matter how secure your Piñata is. It is nerve-racking to be the one responsible for the result!

The Reveal Party was especially exciting because Angela & Tyler (Mommy & Daddy-to-be) had no idea what the gender of the baby was. We were able to see I their first reactions!

Ready. Set. Pull!



Congrats Hjelseths!

xoxo, Jill

World Market:

  • Jade Cupcake Stand 

Jo-Ann Fabrics:                 

  • Soft Coral & Gold Tulle              
  • Gold Saftey Pins
  • Cupcake Sleeve Supplies
  • Mint Blue Burlap Ribbon


  • Gold Pin-Stripe Paper
  • Mint Paper
  • Set of 100 Cute Straws        

Hobby Lobby:

  • XL Sewing Hoops
  • Gold Duck Tape
  • Confetti
  • Chalkboard 


  • Mint / Coral Tissue Paper
  • Coral Pink Izzy Drinks 


    DIY Crate Market 

    A few months ago I was compelled to create a market inspired children’s pop-up-shop for my niece Avery’s 5th birthday. 

    Avery is on of the best “dreamers” I know. I’m always encouraged by her imagination. When I had my shop on Regents she loved coming in and “helping the customers”, as she called it. She would move the decorations from shelf to shelf, passing out sample cookies, and in some cases even collect the change from a sale (with help of course). I’m sure was pretty thrilling for her, not very many five year olds get to use live people as props in their imaginary games. But I suppose for her it all seemed very real and she took her roll very seriously. 

    Love her.

    She would ask, “Auntie Jill, are you going to build me a shop of my very own?” 

    So, I did. 

    Here’s a photo of the original, taken off of my Instagram. 

    The first Market was built before blog, so I did not document much of the process. Fortunately a few months later I was asked to repeat the project. 

    Here is a gorgeous shot of the project underway in my garage. 

    • 4  Milk Crates (body)
    • 1   12″ Board (top)
    • 2   2″by 2″s (sides) 
    • 1    6″ Board (sign) 
    • Wood glue 
    • Screws 
    • 2 Hooks (open sign & apron) 
    • Paint
    • Accessories 
    • Paper & Striped String 

    1. Glue crates together and let dry. 
    2. Cut the top to the desired length and Glue.
    3. Secure with screws (8 on top).
    4. Cut side posts to desired height. Attach in the center of the crates (4 screw on each side). *this will also function in securing the crates together. 
    5. Cut sign to desired length. Attach to side posts with screws (2 screws on each side). 
    6. Paint & Sand. 
    7. Add the hooks.
    8. Add the banner.
    9. Apply Hand-lettering. 
    10. Accessorize. 

    The result is an adorable hybrid version of an old school “Lemonade Stand”. 

    There you have it. Cute as pie.

    XO Jill

    “Sangria & Water” Modern Calligraphy / Fabric Banner for Our Wedding

    Disclaimer: Please excuse the poor photo quality, I have tendency to start spontaneously crafting and I today I did not have my Canon Rebel. 

    Today’s project of choice is one of the hand lettered – modern calligraphy banners for our wedding. This is designed to hang off of a “Sangria & Water” service bar.

    I took things up a few notches by deciding to use fabric instead of paper. My secret to accomplishing this was to actually use solid white Vegan Leather instead of cloth. It has a heavy weight and smooth surface which make it an ideal choice for the hand lettering. Also, it is water resistant. The thing to remember about drink bars is… well… things will get wet (pretty obvious fact I think). 

    I started by measuring the fabric.

    This sign will be draped over the counter and hang down in front of the bar, displaying the lettering. 

    I want it to be a larger statement piece, so I cut the banner to measure 4 feet long by 18 inches wide. I then cut the chevron shape by centering at the 9 inch mark and measuring up 7 inches. 

    (Side note: this fabric is so much easier to cut. You will love it.) 

    In order for the banner to drape freely over the front of the bar (without being held down on top), there needs to be a good amount of  fabric on the back end. Almost half is needed to counter weight the front. I took this into consideration when I decided where to place my lettering. 

    Then draw. 

    I used a Sharpie for this project. I practiced with other markers on a test swatch of fabric, and Sharpie was the best. It dried fast & passed the finger smudge test. 

    I choose to draw free hand. But you could also easily use a stencil from the computer. 

    If you’d like to watch my hand lettering on action, I posted a video of this project on my Instagram page @JillAbsten. 


    xoxo, Jill

    Stage, Shoot, & Sell a Fixer Upper

    Collecting my design essentials in preparation for my favorite day of the entire remodeling process, Staging Day!

    “It’s the best day of the year” (month, week, etc… I’ve  been binge watching a lot of Parks and Rec on Netfix lately.)

    imageFor the inside scoop on how you can Treat Yo’ Self to these goodies, I’ve included a shopping list at the bottom of this post.

    I love a polished home photo that signifies a job well done. But if I’m going to be real, there is a whole circus act behind the scenes that gets us to this point. What you don’t see is how we spent the majority of the day. We began at 8 AM, staring into an almost completely empty storage garage. It is the peek of the listing season, and the majority of our decor supplies have already been used to stage other projects. Time for a lightning round shopping spree at Target. I had 7 minutes to grab as many things as I could fit into the cart, and then I stood in the checkout line trying to justify each of them to Joel. (About half of the items were handed back to the clerk, but hey, I got to keep half a cart full! #winning)


    We drove 45 minutes to a previous listing, filling our cars to the brim with furniture, baskets, lamps, books, flowers etc… (I swear I could be a rep for Scion, the amount of stuff I can pile into that thing.)


    Another 45 minute drive, with a less than shabby view… And finally we arrived at the project.

    A few dozen dry wall screws and half a Swiffer box later… this adorable house is ready to make its debut onto the real estate market.

    It might be a bit unpredictable at times, but looking back on a day like this, I fell so blessed to be able to do what I love with the person I love.

     Shopping List:

    Gray Woven Rug & “Fresh Baked Pies” Sign – World Market

    “SOAP” Galvanized Metal Letters – Michaels

    Loom Wall Hanging & Wood Cutting Boards – Target

    Rope Mirror – Hobby Lobby ($25 on sale)

    Lavender Vanilla Room Spray & Wood Bowl – TJ Maxx

    Re/Designed Vintage Dresser (before & after) 


    In the last year vintage dressers, like this one, have been added to the endangered species list.  

    There was a time when flipping furniture was a breeze. Thrift stores were jam packed with treasures, ripe for the picking. Solid wood coffee tables, dressers, and complete dining sets could be purchased for less than $20. I loving refer to this as the “Shake & Spray Era” (in reference to a can of spray paint being the jobs only requirement). 

    Not. Any. More.

    Thanks to Pinterest, Hgtv, & Etsy the furniture flipping business is booming. Everyone wants a piece of the action. The competition is tough, and the pickings are slim. Forget about driving down to Goodwill to snag a deal, their aisles are bare. What is in stock is either marked as sold, ridiculously overpriced, or made out of poor quality laminate (or all the above). Honestly, you have got a better chance of finding a live unicorn than you have of finding a $30 mid-century side table at a thrift store in 2016. 

    What’s my point? My point is that the game has changed. Here are a couple tips to successfully redesign & sell furniture:

    • Shop outside the box: Estate salesgarage sales, Craigslist, and apps like Offer Up. It requires a bit more strategic thinking and planning ahead, but it’s worth it. 
    • Use appropriate products: Buy high quality paints & use finishing wax to seal the project. If you use spray paint, show you care by correctly sanding to remove existing finishes and blemishes before you spray. Remember: if it scrapes off with your fingernail, your doing it wrong. 
    • Update the Style: Add new/reclaimed wood to the top or sides, install decorative trim, or change out hardware for a fresh “crisp” look. 
    • Less is more: Keep it clean, uniform & sophisticated. Don’t over-design. If you have a lot of ideas that’s great, but hold off. Use them on the next couple projects.
    • Finish your work: Paint all the way around the piece (including the bottom & back side), make sure all paint lines are straight on any seems. 
    • Go the extra mile: Line the inside of the drawers with vintage maps or cute paper. 
    • Take quality listing photos: Set an idealistic scene to entice shoppers online. Be aware of backgrounds & remove any excess clutter from the shot.   
    • Keep it secret, keep it safe: It’s great to show off “before & afters” to friends (and in this case fellow bloggers), but it is not always a good idea to share with potential clients. It can sometimes distract & devalue the piece. In addition, it is best not to directly share your shopping source (unless it came over on the Mayflower, or was previously owned by Taylor Swift…). It’s okay to leave some details to the clients imagination. I know it sounds  weird, but your integrity is in your craftsmenship.  If you have worked hard and truly created a quality piece, then be proud of your work. Focus on selling the product as it is “now”.
    • Price Competitively: This is a tough one, especially after you have put your heart into redesigning your piece. I cope with the pricing struggle by determining my listing price before I even purchase the furniture. I keep that total in mind throughout the entire flip, which helps me not to go over budget on supplies. When the piece is finished and ready for listing, I always do one last cross check online of similar listed items. Then… it’s go time. 


    Happy Decorating!