Procrastination Project #001

Background: This cedar chest was made in 1950. I’m not sure why my grandparents bought it originally, but I remember it from the family cabin at Donner Lake, California where it held extra blankets or snow clothes. About 17 years ago, long after the cabin was sold, my grandmother gave me the cedar chest. It was an awesome gift because that cabin has so many sweet childhood memories and my Grandmother, Ireta was one of my favorite people in the whole world and it reminds me of both.

The bad part of the story: it has been in my garage for at least 7 years. The wood didn’t really match any of our other furniture and it was chipped in a few areas and had some damage to the finish. I always thought I would have someone refinish it, but it never happened. Finally I decided to try to do something with it myself.

I had heard about “chalk paint” and supposedly it’s really hard to mess anything up… so I gave it a try. I thought the chalk paint would make it look less like a damaged piece and more like an antique. I found a blog with a recipe and someone who seemed awesome at this sort of thing. You can look at her site for the recipe. It’s super easy and inexpensive!
And you can use any color you want.


The first images are the before. You don’t need to sand or prep the furniture. Just make sure it’s clean and dusted. The second image is after one quick coat with the chalk paint. It dries really fast. I added a second coat and lightly sanded the edges and details to create a natural, distressed look. You can really distress the piece to your liking depending on how worn or rustic you want it. I like it very subtle. Wipe down any paint dust. Then add a coat of furniture wax. The Elizabeth & Co. blog recommended Johnson’s Paste Wax, found at Home Depot. And…. here is the finished look! My cedar chest finally has a home at the foot of my bed where I filled it with extra sheets and blankets. I love it. Project #001 was a success.


The Easter Bunny Prank 2012




















Last year we had a huge Easter egg hunt extravaganza the day before Easter, so I think the Easter bunny knew the kids might be a little bored with another egg hunt, so he had a little fun with string. (We have 5 kids) Each of the kids had baker’s twine attached to their door with their name on it. The string went all over the house… upstairs, downstairs, under furniture. They had to keep track of their own string and follow it to the end where their basket of gifts was hidden. That Easter bunny… I wonder what he will do this year? Happy Easter!

A Windy Day













It’s a sunny and windy day here in California… a perfect day to post one of our newest designs. “Fly A Kite” designed by 2birdstone. I love this design! It’s fresh and fun and can be used for birthday parties, or any outdoor occasion or setting.

This design was created as a custom request by one of our customers. Do you have a unique event and you can’t find that “perfect” invitation to fit? We can help! Our custom designs start at only $19.95, so your party ideas and themes are only limited by your imagination… dinosaur-circus party here we come!

Stationery Trends – Chalkboard

One of 2011′s hottest trends has been the use of “chalkboard”. Maybe it’s a bit of a rebellion against the rise of technology… because there is just something wonderful about something hand-written on a chalkboard. We’ve seen chalkboard art incorporated into home decor, advertising campaigns, and of course stationery design.

Here are some of our holiday cards which feature a hand-written chalkboard look. Designs can be customized for multiple photos too, and unlike a real chalkboard, the message can be easily altered from Happy Holidays to Merry Christmas, or whatever you desire!

Carnival Party – Part 2

Part Two of creating a Carnival Party…



I knew I needed to delegate some of the party preparation so I left the sewing to my friend, Becky. She took the leftover striped fabric from the booths and made little aprons for my “carnies” (my older children and some friends who ran each game booth). Complete with pockets for holding tickets.


We also used muslin to make drawstring bags for each child. I used ink jet t-shirt transfers from Staples to add their names. They used the bags to collect their tickets and hold their prizes so they wouldn’t get misplaced. We used this tutorial from Martha Stewart. We would suggest using a heavier weight fabric, even though the muslin was inexpensive, it was a little thin and won’t hold up well.




The children earned tickets at each game then they could spend their tickets at our prize booth. The prize booth was created with a pvc frame but used a longer panel of the striped fabric instead of a valance. We filled jars with candy and small toys with little tents that indicated the ticket value for that jar. All of the loose candy and small toys were neatly contained in the fun “treat tubs” with lids from Bake It Pretty. I did buy the small, colored bears, but the rest of the stuffed animals came from… Natalie’s closet. She had so many stuffed animals that she never played with that were practically new, so they became the coveted “big” prizes. Sneaky mom!



The food was simple and kid-friendly, incorporating some Carnival classics. We had corn dogs, buttered popcorn, fresh strawberries, carrot sticks and lemonade. The amazing cupcakes were created by a local boutique bakery, The Frosted Flour. I just showed them my invitation and they created these! How cute is that little cotton candy?



Thank you to the super talented, Becky Thomas (pictured with me below), the Anderson Family, My Mom, and my family for all of your help with this fun party!



invitation, custom labels, and printed items Brightside Prints

paper goods, nut cups, treat tubs Bake It Pretty

cupcakes The Frosted Flour

Photography by Dale Goff and Jill Means

Natalie’s Carnival Party by Jill Means


NOTE: I created this post in conjunction with my favorite party blog, onecharmingparty. They will be featuring our party on their site along with exclusive DIY printables from this party! Our post will give you more details of how we did it.
When I asked my daughter Natalie what kind of party she wanted for her seventh birthday, she said, “a carnival!” I knew what she was picturing in her mind… games, prizes, a ferris wheel. So I started with how to create that atmosphere and vision with my budget. We had to scrap the ferris wheel.
I wanted the game booths to have some structure. I had seen some cute stands built out of wood, but I knew it would be expensive and time consuming. We came up with the idea of a “frame” that would give the look of actual booths, but for a fraction of the time and cost.


How we did it: We used pvc pipe to build an arch using elbow connectors. The structure was held up by driving a few pieces of rebar into the ground and sliding the pvc over the top. We spray painted the pvc a gloss red. All of the materials can be found at a home improvement store like Lowes. We added a simple striped valance and red side curtains and it became a perfect, kid-size booth.


Not all of the games had a booth, but we built enough that when placed around the yard, provided that carnival look. Activities included a bean bag toss, ping pong throw, balloon dart board, duck pond, bottle ring toss, shooting gallery and face painting. At each game you earned tickets that could be collected to buy prizes… more on that later.
How we did it: The bottle ring toss was simple empty glass coke bottles bought at the grocery store and mason jar lid rings from Walmart. The balloon dart board was created by taking a 2′x4′ section of peg board from Lowes, we spray painted it white, then we added balloons by simply tying the balloon and pulling the knot through the holes. The board was held up by two extra pieces of rebar. For the duck pond we took weighted ducks bought online at Oriental Trading Company and pushed metal tacks into their heads so we could use a magnet fishing pole. Different point/ticket values were written in permanent marker on the bottom of the ducks.  For the bean bag toss, we used a ladder with different point values attached each step. The ping pong game was created by using the plastic protector shell that apples come in at Costco. Just open the shell up and placed on a level surface, we added stars to a few of the sections for added skill level.

The shooting gallery was created by using duck targets printed on double thick cards from Brightside Prints, placing them in placecard holders and shooting with a Nerf-style gun. You could also attach the targets to plastic cups if you don’t have placecard holders or photo clips.


Our next post will feature the prize booth, the food, and all the other details of Natalie’s carnival party! The custom carnival party invitations and signs are available at Brightside Prints.

Happy Halloween!











From the Means Family! Be safe and have a fun evening!

Hello Blog!

We admit that our Brightside Blog has been seriously neglected. We are reforming. We decided to start with a clean slate. Our vision is to create a place for design inspiration and a peek into the lives of our Brightside Designers… a group of women from across the country (and a Canadian) who are different in a lot of ways, but share a passion for design and typography.

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