Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Super Cute Bulletin Board Make-Over

Did you enter my Giveaway for a SODASTREAM yet??  There is still time!  Go here to enter!

We have a problem at our house.  My daughter loves to create things.  (We have NO idea where she gets that from :)

Unfortunately, she has trouble throwing things away.  And she wants everything she does to be hung up on our fridge.  Our fridge ran out of room the other day and she started taping things to our windows.  Not an ideal solution in my opinion.  So I needed a way to fix the problem and help her realize that we just can't keep everything she does, even though it is all beautiful and special! 

Luckily I found a bulletin board really cheap at Goodwill the other day so I snatched it up!  I had originally planned on covering the cork board part with fabric and then painting the frame part white, but being inspired by another cork board re-do I saw recently, I decided to add a frame to it as well! 

I enlisted my hubby's help and we went to work taking an ordinary cork board into a super cute girly bulletin board!

Here's how I did it:

  1. First I found my bulletin board for just a couple of dollars at my local Goodwill store
  2. Using spray mount, I glued fabric (my daughter's choice) onto the entire board and even let it wrap around the sides
  3. Next we cut molding and 1x1 to fit around our bulletin board
  4. Then I had my husband use his nail gun to attach the 1x1 to the back of the molding.  This created a "lip" and makes a nice clean edge all around the board. 
  5. After the frame was built, we painted it white with good 'ole spray paint!
  6. We then attached the frame to the bulletin board using the nail gun
  7. Puttied, sanded and touched up the paint as needed.
Then I found these really cool pins.  By complete mistake!

I was in the clearance section at our WalMart (they are in the middle of remodeling it so it is kind of a disaster at the moment) but I grabbed these pins knowing my daughter would need pins to hang things on her bulletin board.  They were 50 cents and had 6 pins in a box...not a great price but the looked a bit larger then normal pins and so I thought they would be easier for her to use then typical pins so I picked up two boxes. 

When I actually went to put them on the board I realized the pins "broke" in half.  You left the bottom part pinned into the bulletin board and the top came off and could be used as a magnet! (see photo above)

This sounds weird I know...but the thought of my four year old taking pins in and out of a cork board worried me a bit.  Not that she couldn't do it, but that one would accidentally be left on the ground and my 1 year old would find it...you get the idea!  So, this MAGICALLY solved my concerns by mistake!  Now my daughter just uses the magnet portion of the pins to hang her things up! 

It is super cool, way cute and girly, and so much cuter then the original one I bought!!

And, it solves our problem because if it doesn't fit on the bulletin board, something has to go! :)

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Monday, May 30, 2011

SodaStream Giveaway!!!!

Have you heard of SodaStream?

It is this great machine that allows you to make your own soda!

When I first heard people talking about the SodaStream I thought the idea of making my own soda sounded overwhelming.  (Remember I like to keep things simple :)  But that is actually not the case! 

It is actually super easy, so fun, and it is a cost effective way to make soda!  How great is that?!

When I was offered the chance to review a SodaStream, I jumped at the chance!  Literally, I was jumping up and down from excitement!  (Yes, my children gave me funny looks.  Ha ha ha!)  And a couple of days later when it arrived at my doorstep I was giddy!  I couldn't wait to open it up and give it a whirl!

I read the single page of instructions and had my SodaStream up and running in less them 5 minutes!  My daughter wanted to make "kid soda" so we started with a kid-friendly variety (aka soda without caffeine) and had a blast!

In under a minute I took water from my fridge and turned it into soda.

Do you see all that yummy carbonation?  It takes seconds to turn ordinary water into carbonated water! 

After you carbonate your water, you add your flavored syrup and voila!  You have soda!

Actual.  Real.  Soda.

So simply!! 


My daughter loved it too!

Here are a few of the things I REALLY like about my SodaStream:
  • It is super quick, very easy and fun to make!
  • I don't end up with wasted soda.  Let's face it, I can't drink 2 liters of soda before it goes flat!
  • The flavored syrups do not have high fructose corn syrup in them!  So they are healthier then many traditional sodas.
  • I don't have to keep a large variety of soda at my home, I can just keep the flavored syrups around and they last for a long time.
  • It stays carbonated for about a week!  Really!  What soda stays good for that long?!  Amazing!
  • There are no bottles to throw away.  So there is less waste and that is better for the environment!
  • IT IS YUMMY!!!!!!
We have tried many flavors including, Lemon-Lime, Cranberry Raspberry, and Dr. Pete and they are all yummy.  But our favorite flavor is their Sparkling Natural Cola flavor.  I swear, it tastes almost identical to Coke!!!!  Amazing!!

Once I discovered how fun this was, I decided to put it to the REAL test.  I took it into a classroom of 10 preschool-age children and let them try it.  (kid-friendly flavors only of course!)  Their opinion was that it was really cool too!

So...what do you think?!  Do you want to win a SodaStream???

Here's the fabulous package that you can win:

  • 1 Fountain Jet SodaStream in either black/silver, white, or red/silver
  • 1 CO2 bottle (this is how you carbonate your water)
  • 1 reusable carbonating bottle (this is the bottle you make the soda in)
  • a sample pack of flavors
  • 3 full-size flavors of your choice!
This kit is valued at over $100!!!!! 

Isn't that such a great giveaway!?!

Here's how to win:

  • Leave 1 comment below for each method of entry completed.  1 comment = 1 entry. 
  • Be sure to read the entry methods carefully.  If you do not follow the rules, your entry will not be eligible to win.  Sorry. 

Method's of Entry:

Mandatory First Entry:
  • Be a GFC follower (Google Friends Connect on my sidebar) and leave me one comment telling me what color of SodaStream you would choose if you win and that you are a follower!  (Go here to see your color options (white, black/silver, red/silver))  = 1 entry
Additional Entry Methods:
  • Leave a comment telling me what three syrup flavors you would choose if you win.  Go here to see all the flavors.  = 1 entry
  • Facebook about this giveaway on YOUR facebook page. Please link to my facebook page. Example: "@Simply Designing is giving away a SodaStream!! Go visit her awesome blog www.simplydesigning.blogspot.com and enter to win!" Come back here and leave a comment telling me you facebooked about this giveaway. = 1 entry
  • Leave me a comment telling me what your all-time favorite flavor of soda is.  = 1 entry
Please complete the mandatory entry first :) 

If you enter using every method, you have 4 chances of winning! (That means you will be leaving 4 comments on this blog post!)

The giveaway will end Tuesday June 7th at midnight EST.  I will announce the winner on Wednesday June 8th. 

Please stop back to see if you have won, however, I will also try to contact the person who has won if there is a way to do so.  (For example, leave your email address in the comments or if your google profile links to your email address, then I can send you an email telling you that you have won!  If you comment using a hidden profile, I am unable to email you.  This will not prohibit you from winning, just be sure to check back to see if you have won!)  Either way, the winner has three days to contact me in order to claim their prize. 

The fine print:
You must be a GFC follower in order to win please.  You must be a resident of the U.S. with a U.S. mailing address in order to win.

GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Please take a moment to check out the SodaStream website!  It is a really fun site to check out and you can learn a lot more about their product on it too!

Thank you Soda Stream for sending me a Soda Stream machine and syrup flavors to try and for giving one away to one of my lucky  readers! 

I was sent a SodaStream kit and flavored syrups to review, however, all opinions expressed here are 100% mine. 

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Simply Link {Party}

Have you guys ever heard of a Soda Stream?  It is a really really cool device that allows you to make your own soda from the comfort of your home.  It is awesome and amazing!!  Well, on Monday, I am giving you the chance to win a Soda Stream


You could win one of these:

How awesome is that!?

So be sure to stop by on Monday and enter to win!

Now on to the weekly Link Party!!!  I can't wait to see what you have created this week! 

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

DownEast Giveaway WINNER!!

Today has been an interesting day.  Full of occasional, heavy but brief storms, tornado watches and tornado warnings.  I spent the last 50 minutes huddled in my downstairs half bathroom with my two kids.  My daughter cuddled up on a pillow on the floor, as tired as can be.  My son soon became wide awake and thought it was time to play! 

Finally at 11:25pm, after being up with them for just under an hour, I put my children to bed for the second time today. 

Ideally, my children are not up in the middle of the night.  But tonight, I have to admit, when I laid them down for the second time, I was touched by how grateful I am for my children.  How much joy they bring to my life and how much I love them.  And how severely it would hurt me if anything ever happened to them. 

Tonight I was happy to be able to tuck them safely into bed for a second time.  I was grateful to be able to let them know, one more time, how much I love them.  I enjoyed a second round of hugs and kisses and sweet smiles and didn't mind in the least that this was the second time I tucked them into bed today.

I am grateful that the area around me was free of tornadoes today and my heart goes out to those who have not been so fortunate.  (Did you know there have been 80 tornadoes in the last two days across the country! Holy cow!)  I am grateful that my family and friends are safe tonight and am looking forward to climbing into bed, listening to the sound of thunder storms all around me.

Well, with the adventurous day, I forgot to post my DownEast Giveaway winner!!!  So here goes!

Congratulations Amy!!!  Please contact me at simplydesigning@gmail.com in order to claim your prize!

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Homemade Laundry Detergent

After making my own Dishwasher Detergent I realized I had almost all the ingredients I needed to make my own Laundry Detergent. 

I found this recipe here and decided to give it a try!

I found the perfect jar (I wanted a lid that would screw on since I store this up high.  In case it fell, I didn't want the lid popping off!).  And they I used some brown vinyl from Expressions Vinyl to add a label to the front of the jar. 

Homemade Laundry Detergent:

  • 1 c borax
  • 1 c washing soda
  • 1 bar of soap (ivory or fels naptha)

  1. First, grate your soap. 
  2. Then, combine all ingredients in your jar and shake until well mixed.
  3. Use 1 tbs per load

I couldn't resist adding the recipe to the back of the jar again using the same brown vinyl!

And so there is no confusion, say, if someone else in my house wanted to do some laundry :), I used brown vinyl to label the top of the jar so that they would know exactly how much soap to use without needing to ask me!

It seems to work well.  And from all the research I have done it seems to be ok for HE Machines.  Hurray! 

This was kind of fun making my own dishwasher detergent and laundry detergent!

And can you tell I had a lot of fun with the vinyl?!  Clearly, brown is my most used vinyl color!  What color of vinyl do you like best?

(Check out Expressions Vinyl for great selection and price on vinyl!)

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Hard Water Stains? Dishwasher detergent that works!


Since moving to an area that has particularly hard water, and with the mandated formula change to all dishwasher detergents, my dishes are an absolute mess.

They are clean, I promise.  But they don't look very clean, they look cloudy.  My glass, my Tupperware  even some of my metal items are all cloudy.  It has been driving me nuts.

After seeing someone else make homemade laundry detergent (more on that tomorrow), I started thinking...perhaps I could come up with a homemade dishwasher detergent that would help with my problem of cloudy dishes.  So I started researching and researching and came up with a MAGICAL SOLUTION that actually gets my dishes clean!

Wanna see how well it works?  Here's my before and after!

Amazing huh?  (Yes, this is really embarrassing to admit my glasses were so gross looking!  I hated having people over because they were just yucky.  Of course, every one's glasses here look like that...so no one was judging...but it bothered me that my glasses looked like that!)

After making it, found a cute jar to put it in and then cut some brown vinyl letters so everyone would know what was in the jar.  Then I couldn't help myself, I added vinyl on the top to say how much to use. 

And then, because I am super lazy and didn't want to have remember my recipe, I cut brown vinyl for the back of the jar with my recipe!  (I love love love using vinyl for things like this!!)

And just like magic, my dishes are now clean!!  And this is definitely a cost effective way to wash dishes too.** 

Home Made Dishwasher Detergent
  • 2 c borax
  • 2 c Arm & Hammer washing soda
  • 2 c lemi shine*
  • 1 c kosher salt
I found the borax, washing soda and lemi shine all at my local Walmart.  They were near the laundry and dish soap section that are currently combined at my store because they are in the middle of a remodel.  But you should find them in similar places in a similar kind of store.  Kosher salt was with the baking items. 

(I forgot to take a photo of the items but here is what they look like to help you find them!)

Borax, Multi-Purpose Cleaner (4 lbs 12 oz/76 oz/2.2 kg) Arm & Hammer Super Wash Soda, Detergent Booster 55 oz (1559 g) 
Lemishine Super Concentrated Powder Morton coarse kosher salt 3 lb
click on the above photos to purchase these products
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until mixed.
  2. The citric acid in the lemi shine will make everything get a bit hard.  The first time I made this I put it directly into my container and it all got really really hard.  I had to use a knife to get it out.  So I suggest letting this mixture sit out in a bowl for a couple of days, stirring often.  You will still get a few little "balls" of detergent, but that is just fine!  You just don't want it all in one big piece!  Believe me, this is the best way to go!! ***
  3. The lemi shine suggests running an empty dishwasher cycle with just that in order to clean your dishwasher.  I followed their directions for good measure!
  4. Fill your rinse aid spot with white vinegar.  Add a small container with white vinegar in it to the top rack of your dishwasher before running.  Don't put it in your rinse aid compartment!  (see this post here for more details, but basically, the vinegar isn't compatible with the rubber pieces in the rinse aid compartment!) (This is sooo much cheaper then your typical rinse aid and makes a big difference in how your dishes will turn out!)
  5. Use 1 tbs of detergent per load of dishes.  I do about a 30/70 split with 30% in the pre-wash spot and 70% in the wash spot.  If you don't have a prewash spot, you can put it all in the wash spot.
*You can experiment with the lemi shine amount.  The recipes I based this off of called for only 1 cup but said to add more if you have hard water.  I have really hard water, so I ended up using 2 cups and my dishes came out sparkly and shiny!!  If you can't find Lemi-Shine, citric acid should work as well and some had had success using a packet of unsweetened yellow kool-aid lemonade.  I have never personally tried citric acid or kool aid though and be sure not to get colored lemonade as I would worry about it staining...stick with the original yellow kind :)

**I have not done my own personal cost analysis, but several other people have who use similar detergent recipes to mine and cost-wise I think they compare pretty comparable.  That being said, I am estimating my cost per load to be about $0.06.  (Which compared to Finish Power Tabs 100 for $15.50 at Costco = $0.15 a load) is a savings.

***For those having issues with the detergent clumping, please be sure to try the following solutions:

  • Please be sure to follow my instructions in #2 above and let the mixture sit out in a bowl, stirring occasionally.  This solved all of my problems and is a simple solution.  
  • You can also leave the Lemi-Shine out of the mixture and add it directly into the dishwasher each time.
  • Some readers have suggested blending it up, using a silicon packet you find in shoes etc, adding a bit of uncooked rice or putting your detergent into small muffin tins and purposefully letting it harden to create your own tabs.  I have never personally tried these and can't testify to whether or not they work :)
****A few other things I do to help ensure that my dishes get as clean as possible are as follows: pre-wash everything, run my kitchen sink water until it is very hot right before running my dishwasher, make sure you use white vinegar as stated above. And don't be afraid to play around with the proportion of Lemi-Shine; you might need more or less.

This is an eco-friendly dishwasher detergent option if you are looking to decrease the amount of chemicals you use in your home, this would make a great option as well!

I love my sparkly clean dishes!!

Have you found a difference in how clean your dishes get since the dishwasher detergent change?

I would love for you to follow me on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, Pintrest and via email. 

Oh and if you are looking for a great price on vinyl, go check out Expressions Vinyl!

I did a LOT of research when coming up with my final dishwasher detergent solution and trial and error.  This recipe is a combined effort of many sources, much research and a lot of trial and error on my part.  But a lot of my final inspiration came from this post here.

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Winner Winner!

Sorry this is so late being posted!  I don't know where my weekend went!  Here is the winner of the Decor 2 Ur Door TOTE!

CONGRATULATIONS Kathy of KZ Embroidery!  Please email me at simplydesigning@gmail.com within three days in order to claim your prize!

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Simply Link {Party}

Thank you for joining me for this week's Simply Link {Party}!

Remember, there is still time to enter my DownEast Basics giveaway here

Here are a few of the most visited links from last week.  You guys are amazing!

Thanks for all your great ideas!

So it's time to link up your latest and greatest!  I can't wait to see what you have created! 

PS - Please only link up things you have created like crafts, food type of items etc.  I am actually really really flexible, just please don't link up shops, giveaways or your link parties.  If you host a link party, email me at simplydesigning@gmail.com and I will add you to my list!  Thanks!

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

be a Wise Optimist

I have a few vinyl projects in the works these days and am enjoying it so much!

I was struggling trying to find a vision for a particular wall in my house.  Art doesn't work on it because it was too small and in too narrow of a hallway.  But when I decided on a quote I knew I wanted it in brown vinyl on this wall!

I knew exactly how I wanted it to look in my mind, but had to call in reinforcements to help me.  Thanks to my good friend helping me tweak my original lettering, I ended up with a wall I love!

I love this on my wall!

What saying would you put up on your wall?

PS - I made this using vinyl from Expressions Vinyl.  Have you ever shopped for vinyl there?  It is great quality, they have an excellent selection and the price in unbeatable!

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Adding Color without Paint: Interior Design Wednesday

I love Interior Design Wednesday!  Today, let's talk about adding color without paint.

I love having colored paint on my walls, but let's be realistic.  If you are in an apartment, renting or just have trouble committing to a color, painting might not be a realitic option!  But that doesn't mean you have to have a dull boring colorless house.  Here are a few fun ways to add color, without adding paint:

Add some colored curtains to brighten up any room. 

Fun and funky throw pillows add color and life to an ordinary room.

Add a bold piece of furniture.  You can buy something fun, or paint your own if you like to DIY.

Adding simple accents like this towel, or the tulips can add a fun punch of color that isn't expensive which means you don't have to commit to it for very long!

Happy Designing!

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tack and Twine Balls

*Come enter my DownEast Giveaway here!*

Yesterday I showed you my really pretty new DownEast wire bowl.  I love love love it!  But as soon as I got it, I knew I needed something to fill it with.

While surfing blogland I found this great idea for creating a decorative tack ball!  I knew I had to make some for my new bowl!  They are so simple, but I will warn you, they take a lot of tacks!

I took a few styrofoam balls and pinned tacks in, overlapping so very little styrofoam can be seem.  Once the ball is filled with tacks, I primed and painted my tack balls using spray paint!  So super easy!

To contrast the modern looking tack balls, I decided to make a few Twine Balls to put in my bowl as well. 

I used a low temp hot glue gun to glue twine to various styrofoam balls.  Simple as that! 

Aren't they so cute?!?!

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Monday, May 16, 2011

DownEast Basics GIVEAWAY & Review

I LOVE DownEast Basic's clothing.  Love love love it!  I only wish I lived closer to a store.  Thank goodness for online shopping, right?!

Well, I recently discovered that they have a "home" section. They now sell home decor items! 

They are so cute and very reasonably priced!  So I was thrilled when they asked me if I wanted to do a review for them!  Like jumping up and down, little girl screams, calling my husband at work to tell him the news, excited!  Yeah.  I was pretty excited!

So off I went to order something to review.  Here is what I chose:

I had originally thought this would be the perfect bowl for fruit in my kitchen, and it would be great for that.  But I decided to use is as decoration in my front entry instead! 

This bowl is well made, quite sturdy and so very very cute and stylish.  I love the wire-working on this bowl.  And it is the perfect size to hold some fun decorative balls!  I love this bowl and love having it as a new addition in my front entrance! 

I love topiaries and my house needed a bit of green, so I was thrilled to be able to get this topiary!  I really do love this topiary. 

It is made with nice quality faux boxwood and is stylish yet unique.  I love the small twigs around the base of the topiary and the fake dirt in the bottom makes this topiary just perfect in my book! 

DownEast's home line has the same quality, sense of style, and attention to details as their clothing line does and I am a huge fan of both their home and clothing line! 

If you haven't already you should check out their home decor line!  It is fabulous!

Do you want the opportunity to WIN a $25 gift certificate to DownEast Basics that can be used on clothing or home decor items? 

I thought you would say yes! 

Here's how to win:

  • You must be a follower of Simply Designing in order to enter.  If you are, thank you!  If not, please become a follower through Google Friend's Connect on my left side bar and then complete as many of the entry ways as you would like! 
  • Each comment you leave equals 1 entry.  Please leave a comment for each entry method you complete.  You can enter up to 3 times. 
  • You must provide a way to contact you.  I will post the winner on my blog, but I will also try to contact you.  If your google profile is open and you have an email address on there, great!  If it is hidden that means I can't reach you, so please leave a way to reach you in your comment.  After I announce the winner you will have three days in get in touch with me to claim your prize.
  • U.S. residents only please.
  • This giveaway will run until Tuesday May 24th at midnight EST.  I will announce the winner Wednesday May 25th. 
Ways to enter:
  1. After you follow my blog, visit DownEast Basics and look around at their clothing and home lines.  Come back here and leave one comment on this blog post telling me what you would buy if you won the $25 gift card or what your favorite item is that they sell.
  2. Like DownEast Basic's facebook page and leave them a comment telling them what you like most, what you would like to see more of, or ask them a question.  (They will respond to your question!)  Come back here and leave one comment on this blog post telling me that you commented on their facebook page. 
  3. Spread the word!  Blog, facebook or tweet about this giveaway!  Please mention my blog name and link back to my site.  Leave one comment here telling me where / how you spread the word about the giveaway! 


Here are a few more of my favorite items from DownEast:

Best of luck!

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Simply Link {Party}

Sorry this is so late being posted.  As many of you know, blogger was not working last night, or this morning...so I am sure I am not the only one who is behind today!  But I wanted to give you a chance to Link Up anyway!

I am going to postpone my DownEast Giveaway until the beginning of next week.  So look for that coming soon!

Now let's link up your latest creations!  I am not picky...just no shops please!  And feel free to link up more then once if you like.  I only ask that you visit a few other people's link ups and leave a nice comment! 

Happy Partying!

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Interview with ME!

Do you want to know a little more about ME?  (If the answer is no, please don't tell me! ha ha ha!) 

You can read an interview I did the other day for Your Wall Decor Guide here. 


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My Cool New Shelf! (TR WoodWorks)

I am slowly trying to finish decorating rooms in my house.  Nothing is actually done yet.  But I keep working at it.  My downstairs half bath is almost done though and that is pretty exciting to me!  My newest addition is this really pretty shelf!

(taking a good photo in a bathroom with no natural light is not my forte...sorry about the bad lighting!)

I was so very excited when TR WoodWorks wanted me to do a review of one of their shelves!  And I knew I had the perfect spot for it! 

TR WoodWorks offers a variety of shelves in a ton of great colors!  And when I got my shelf I was so very  happy with it!

The quality of the shelf is excellent!  It has a shabby "look", but it doesn't have a shabby "feel."   In other words, it is nicely sanded and finished!  (Which, well, I don't like the feel of raw unfinished wood, so this is HUGE to me!) 

It comes ready to be mounted.  All you have to do it put the nails in the wall and hang it!  I love how simple it was to install!

My shelf shipped quickly, was well made, and so pretty!  And it is a great company to work with.  If I need any more shelves for my home, I would seriously consider buying them from TR WoodWorks!   

Here are a few more of their cute shelves:

You can see all that TR WoodWorks sells here

TR WoodWorks provided me with a shelf to review but all opinions expressed are 100% mine.

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