How to Create an High-End Deck With a Low-End Budget

We live by the beach and have a beautiful marsh view from our backyard. This past spring we decided to demolish our old, small deck and create a wrap-around deck so we can increase our outdoor entertainment space and take advantage of the beautiful views. The only issue with this project is that it can quickly become expensive. My husband is very nifty and we managed to spend about $2,500 to get this beautiful finished product.

To do this we saved the salvageable pieces from the old deck. We also purchased a large, already assembled deck. We went to an estate sale and the owner said they wanted to sell their deck they had just built the previous year. We paid $300 for an already assembled 10’ x 16’ platform that we removed and brought to our house. We then attached this platform to footings and the house and from there the additional decking was added.

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We took this already assembled deck and transported it on a flatbed trailer to our house to create a large deck.

Within two weeks we had the entire platform portion of the deck completed.

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Rather than use the traditional spindles on the railings, we wanted to modernize the deck so we could take advantage of our beautiful water views. We thought it would be less expensive to use galvanized cable than spindles as well. After a trip to the home improvement store we quickly found out it was going to be very expensive to use galvanized cable on the deck railings. For basic cable—with no bells and whistles and self-installation—it was going to cost approximately $2,600. This was more than what we paid for all the lumber on the deck.


My husband quickly came up with an alternative idea that was going to save us thousands of dollars. He went to the home improvement store and came home with electrical zinc-coated conduit piping. He said this would work just as well as the cable and was going to cost us less than $200.

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Electrical zinc-coated conduit piping.

He used a sawzall to cut the piping and attached it to the deck with conduit clamps/brackets. He added plastic caps at the end of the piping to prevent bees from forming nests inside. The final cost to add all the piping, including screws, bolts, etc., came to about $175.

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Tools to install piping.
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conduit clamps/brackets
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Installation of the piping.
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Final product.

We literally saved thousands of dollars and we still get to see the beautiful marsh views from our new deck.

The total project took about three weeks to complete.

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View from the deck.
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Final product.
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Final product.

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20 Ways to Brighten Your Outdoor Living Space

Summer is here, which means we will all be spending more time outdoors in your backyards, gardens, porches, decks, etc. Below are 20 ideas to brighten up your outdoor spaces so you can enjoy them not only during the daylight, but during the evening hours as well.

  1.  Outdoor Edison-Style Lighting

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2.  Solar Lights Garden Watering Can

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3. Backyard Dining Lighting

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4. Garden Solar Fairy Dust Balls
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5. Dangling Waterfall of Lights

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6. Garden Chandelier

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7. Outdoor Candle Lighting photo8
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8. Hanging Ball Lights

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9. Hanging Candles

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10. Lawn Lights

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11. Waterdrop Garden Solar Light

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12. Refurbished Standing Solar Light

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13. Recycled Plastic Bottle Flower Lights

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14. Recycled Wine Bottle Solar Lantern Lighthouse

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15. Wood Stump Lanterns

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16. Potted Flower Solar Lanterns

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17. Globe Solar Garden Balls

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18. Mason Jar Solar Chandelier photo20
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19. Deck Solar Lighting

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20. Outdoor Deck Stairs Solar Lighting

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What other ways have you used lighting to brighten up your outdoor living spaces during the evening? Share your photos with us!

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How to Create Your Own Pallet Board American Flag

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It’s finally summer and with so many patriotic holidays over the next few months it is the perfect time of year to create a pallet flag for your home to show your love for your country. These flags are not very hard to make, they just take some time and effort. Below I have provided you with the step-by-step process to make your very own pallet flag.

I decided to take a pallet apart and place the boards close together for my flag. I broke up my pallet using my pallet buster tool. (See my review on the Pallet Buster here.) If you do not have a pallet buster tool you can opt to use a pry bar and hammer to take apart your pallet (it is just going to take a little longer). You can easily get pallets for free. Check out Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. I found this one on Craigslist.

After taking it apart, my husband said the best way to nail the boards closely together would be to use a nail gun. He told me if I used just a regular hammer and nails the wood might split. He helped me with this part. (Honestly, I don’t think he trusted me using the nail gun). If you don’t have a nail gun you can go the old fashioned way and use a hammer and tools. I used two of the pallet boards as a base on the back of my flag.

After we finished nailing the boards together, The first thing I did was take my 50 flag stars stencil and trace the outer edge of the stencil where the blue part of the flag would go.

Next, I had to do some math. I measured the height of the flag and divided it by 13 to figure out how many inches I needed each stripe to be. After figuring this out, I used a ruler and pencil to draw the lines for the flag.

After all the lines and measurements were completed it was now time to tape off the stripes so that when I painted I would have nice crisp lines. I used masking tape. You could also use painter’s tape.

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I decided to use chalk paint for this project. I really like how easy it is to paint with this product and how it looks when it dries. I also like how I generally only need to paint one coat when using chalk paint.

I painted the white lines first and let them dry. Then I pulled up the tape. I taped over the white lines when I went to paint the red lines. I let the red lines dry prior to pulling up the tape.

Finally, I taped off the area where the stars would go so I could paint the blue. I used a nautical blue chalk paint.

After letting the blue dry I taped down my 50 stars stencil. You can buy various sizes of the star stencils online. I bought a package of different sizes so that I can make all different sized flags. I used a stencil brush to paint the stars.

After all the paint was dry I sprayed the pallet with a clear enamel spray so that I don’t have to worry about it getting ruined by the elements.

Try making your own pallet flag and share your photos with us!

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15 Ideas to Throw the Ultimate Fourth of July Bash

Fourth of July is just right around the corner. We are having our annual Fourth of July party next weekend because our town has its annual fireworks display early. I’ve started to research some fun ideas to make our party exciting this year and came across so many unique displays, foods and products. Below is just some of the projects you can create to wow your guests at your Fourth of July picnic this year.

Displays

Build Your Own Hot Dog Table
This display looks like it took a long time to create, but it really will not. You already have to put out all the condiments anyway, so why not place them out in a beautiful display? You can use containers you already have or opt to buy some in red, white and blue. And there are super cute Patriotic Chalkboard Tent Signs that you can buy to label everything on your table. Save the signs and use them again next year. Whatever table display you decide to use, make sure there are plenty of “Old Glories” throughout your decor.

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Build Your Own S’mores Bar

If you have a fire pit in your yard creating a s’mores bar is a no-brainier. You can buy White or Blue Plastic Tubs at Dollar Tree and use the red, white and blue disposable dishware you purchased to create the Hot Dog Table. This table will be a hit once the sun goes down and you start up your fire.

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Build Your Own Desserts Table
The only rule for this desserts table is that all the desserts need to be red, white and blue. See some of the dessert recipes I shared below under the food section or use the ideas on the pictured table.

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Build Your Own Fun & Games Station

This one can be for adults and children. In most states you can purchase sparklers and snappers. For the younger kids have a jar filled with mini containers of bubbles. Buy red, white and blue ones to keep with the theme. You can purchase these online or at your local party store.

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Decorations

Painted Lawn Stars
These are fun to make with the kids before your party. The best way to paint the stars is to use a patriotic chalk spray paint kit. It is non-toxic and will not ruin your lawn. It will wash away after it rains.
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Colorful Duck Tape Banner
This one is easy to make and it will withstand the outdoor elements. All you need is some red & white twine, colorful duck tape and scissors. I even found duck tape that has American flags on it. See the photos below for how to put together this easy to make decoration.

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Patriotic Bandana Tablecloth

If you know how to sew this is an easy to make tablecloth that will brighten up your party decor. You can purchase sets of red, white and blue bandanas to create this one-of-a-kind decoration.

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Clothespins Flag Wreath

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Patriotic Rockets Table Centerpiece
These rockets are really simple to make and even the kidos can help make them. Use scrapbooking paper you already have, or purchase patriotic scrapbooking paper to create these fun centerpieces.
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Food

Mini Fruit Patriotic Pies
These mini pies are really easy to make. Use fresh fruit (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, etc). If you want to really make them individualized, you can buy mini pie tins to cook them in. Otherwise use a cupcake tin.

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Rocket Hot Dogs
This one is fun for kids and adults. Who doesn’t love food on a stick? For this recipe add patriotic cupcake liners at the bottom of the rockets to make them really festive.

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Fruit Flag Kabobs
This one is a healthy snack on a stick, plus it is easy to put together.

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Patriotic Taco Salad

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Cream Puff Flag Dessertcream puff flag
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White Chocolate M&M Pretzel Sparklers
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Comment and share photos of your food and decor from your Fourth of July parties.

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14 Unique Ideas to Create a Fairy Garden

Miniature gardens and fairy gardens appear to be one of the latest crazes. Last week while visiting my local craft store I saw there was even an entire aisle dedicated to miniatures for fairy gardens. I spent some time researching online to find the most interesting and unique fairy garden isd

1. Wagon Fairy Gardenfairy garden ideas pictures - Lovely Fairy garden ideas Archives Gardening Seasons
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2. Suitcase Fairy Garden

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3.  Basket Fairy Gardenbasket fairy garden
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4. Old Dresser Drawer Fairy Garden
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5. Metal Container Fairy Garden

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6. Tea Cup Mini Fairy Gardenteacup-fairy-garden-1.1
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7. Bird Bath Fairy Gardenbird feeder fairy garden
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8. All Glass Recycled Fairy Gardenglass fairy garden
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9.  All Natural Tree Fairy Garden
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10. Fountain Fairy Garden
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11. Broken Terracotta Pots Fairy Garden
fairy garden container ideas Best of 636 best Container Gardens images on Pinterest
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12. Mason Jar Fairy Garden
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13.  Tree Trunk Stump Fairy GardenTree Trunk Garden
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14. Wheelbarrow Fairy GardenPlant-Up-a-Wheelbarrow-Fairy-Garden
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Want to start your own fairy garden? There are so many cool accessories, lights, planters, etc. available to get you started.  Looking for more ideas on how to create your own garden? Consider starting off with the book Fairy Gardening: Creating Your Own Magical Miniature Garden.

Fairy Gardening- Creating Your Own Magical Miniature Garden

A lot of the miniatures, plants and other accessories can be found at your local craft store, the dollar store or online. Here are some examples of inexpensive ways to get you started with your very own fairy garden.

Add solar fairy lights to your fairy garden to light it up at night.
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Make an indoor fairy garden with these mini fern plants.

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You can start off small with an easy to create succulent fairy garden kit. It comes with the plants, planter and even the miniatures.

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Do you already have a fairy garden? Share your pics with us!

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Cape Ann: A Vintage New England Getaway

My husband and I just got back from a quick trip to Cape Ann in Massachusetts. It was our first time to Cape Ann and it definitely will not be our last.

Cape Ann is less than an hour north of Boston. It offers so many different activities that people of all ages can enjoy the quaint New England beach towns Cape Ann has to offer.

While visiting we checked out the towns of Gloucester, Rockport and Essex.

 

Our first stop was in Gloucester. We learned during our visit this town is home to America’s oldest working seaport. Gloucester offers beaches, hiking trails, artist studios and more. While we drove through we saw a beautiful beach shoreline.

Some of the beaches you can visit in Gloucester include:
Good Harbor Beach
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This beach provides a view of Thacher Island, home of the Twin Lights. Visitors can also enjoy swimming and beach combing. Additionally, at low tide you can walk out to Salt Island.

Wingaersheek Beach
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On this beach you can explore tidal pools, climb the large rocks on the beach. Go at low tide to have access to a large sandbar for additional beach combing.

Cressy’s Beach at Stage Fort Park
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This rocky beach has views of Gloucester Harbor.

Half Moon Beach at Stage Fork Park
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This is a quiet, crescent-shaped beach that is surrounded by a rocky hill.

Pavilion Beach
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This beach is popular for beach combing and boat watching. It’s close to downtown Gloucester.

Points of Interest in Gloucester

Cape Ann Museum
This museum provides you with the history, culture and art of Cape Ann. The collections at the museum include: artifacts from the granite and marine industries, two historic homes, a sculpture park, art and textiles. For more information, visit capeannmuseum.org.


Hammond Castle Museum
This castle and museum is like nothing you have ever seen before. First of all, I had never heard of John Hays Hammond, Jr., but apparently he was a well-known inventor. He built this home for his wife during the 1920s as a medieval-style castle, however when going through the castle you will see architecture designs from medieval England and Renaissance era France and Italy.

These are some photos of the outside and inside of the castle.

The most interesting part of the inside of the castle is the courtyard Hammond created to look like a 1500s era French village. There is even a pool in the center. He created controls in this indoor courtyard so that when guests came over he could make it rain, be foggy, nighttime or daytime. Below are some photos from views inside this amazing courtyard.

Besides the actual building, outside of the castle there is a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean. The castle is well-worth the visit. View more information here.

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Here is a photo of the ocean view from the castle.

Rockport
The inn we picked to stay at was located in Rockport. I had gotten a deal on Groupon for the Emerson Inn, which is located on the water in the Pigeon Cove area of Rockport. The outside of the Inn was beautiful. An expansive porch surrounds the back of the Inn, which allows you to either sit in a rocker or sip a cocktail at a table that overlooks the ocean. There is also a pool that looks out onto the water. The best part of staying at the Inn was having breakfast on the porch in the morning and looking out at the glistering water while enjoying blueberry pancakes and a cup of coffee. Below are photos of the Inn and the amazing view we had at breakfast.

After settling into the Inn we decided to take a drive to downtown Rockport. It takes less than five minutes to drive from the Inn. It is about a two mile walk.

We absolutely loved the look and feel of the downtown area. There are dozens of quaint shops, art studios and restaurants that overlook the water along Broadway, Main Street, Dock Square and Bearskin Neck. If you walk all the ways down the street at Bearskin Neck you will arrive at a beautiful view overlooking the water. Below are some photos of the amazing harbor views and docks and the shops at Bearskin Neck.

Shops in the area range from homemade candy, gift shops, art studios, jewelry stores, clothing shops and more. Ice cream shops, hot dog stands and seafood restaurants scatter the area as well. The evening that we were in Rockport all of the restaurants were packed, so I suggest arriving early for dinner. We ended up eating at this great seafood place called Roy Moore’s Fish Shack Restaurant. They offer fresh seafood. We opted to get the crab cakes, which tasted amazing. They had just enough flavoring and crab and not too much breading. We also ate the boiled lobster (which happened to be $20 for a 1 1/4 lb lobster the night we were there, which we thought was a bargain compared to the price of lobsters at home (Connecticut). The food was amazing and the service was great too. The best part is the restaurant has large glass windows that overlook the water, so you can enjoy great seafood and see an amazing view in the comfort of air conditioning throughout the summer.

Beaches in Rockport

Front Beach
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This beach is great for swimming and sunbathing. It is close to the downtown area so you can walk to restaurants and shops. Paid on-street parking is adjacent to the beach.

Long Beach
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This beach is about one -mile long and offers views of Thacher Island’s twin lighthouses. This is a good beach to go for a walk and beach combing. Parking is available in a privately operated lot.

Other Points of Interest in Rockport

The Paper House

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The walls and furniture in this house are made from approximately 100,000 newspapers that took a 20-year period to assemble.

Thatcher Island/Twin Lights

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On Saturdays you can take a boat shuttle to his national landmark from T-Wharf in Rockport. The island contains two lighthouses that were built in 1771. On the island there is a museum, trails and a campground.

Essex

The last town that we visited on our trip was Essex. This small New England town is filled with antique chops and treasures to be picked. Many call the town America’s Antique Capital, with more than 25+ antique and collectible shops in the town. We stopped at several of the antique stores and found a wide array of items, but the theme throughout the stores was coastal antiques. It was fun to rummage through the collectibles to see what we would find.

Photos from some of the antique shops in Essex.

Besides all of the shops there are also several seafood restaurants scattered across Main Street in the downtown district with fresh seafood right off the boats.

There is so much more to see at Cape Ann. We were only there for two days, so we didn’t nearly have enough time to see everything. There are plenty of opportunities for hiking and beach combing, restaurants, art displays, fishing charters and you can even go whale watching. It is a good location to go for a day trip if you are local or a weekend getaway. It’s a tourist location that is great for all ages, couples and families. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend checking it out—you will not regret taking the trip.

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Delicious Summer Shrimp Salad

Cilantro Lime Shrimp Salad

It’s summer and it’s hot! And when it is hot the last thing you want to do is cook in the oven. This recipe is easy to make and won’t turn your entire house into a hot box. You can also take advantage of the fresh, local veggies available to make the salad portion of this recipe.

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I only used the veggies I had in the house for this salad, however feel free to add whatever other items you like in your salad to this dish (peppers, carrots, etc). The main reason why I decided to make this was because my cilantro in my garden needed to be picked and used. Make sure to use fresh cilantro with this recipe, dried cilantro will not provide the same taste.

Total prep and cooking time: approximately 30 minutes

Ingredients:
1 lb of shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/8 C + 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp ground cumin
1 bulb of garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/8 c freshly chopped cilantro
1 bag of salad mix
3-4 cut tomatoes
1-2 mini cucumbers sliced

Directions:
In medium-sized bowl, whisk together 1/8 C of olive oil, lime juice and cumin. Add shrimp and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 15 minutes, however you can let it marinate for up to 4 hours.

In a large skillet over a medium heat, throw in 2 tbsp of olive oil and garlic. Let garlic turn lightly brown only takes about 1 minute. Then add the shrimp and mix from the refrigerator. Add salt, pepper and half of the cilantro to the skillet. Cook shrimp until it is pink and opaque (2-3 minutes per side).

In a large bowl, mix together bag of salad mix, tomatoes, cucumbers and rest of fresh cilantro.

Place desired amount of salad mix on plate and add shrimp (include the oil mixture from the skillet, this is your dressing) onto your plate.

Enjoy!

13 Ideas to Create Sea Glass Works of Art

As a child, and even now as an adult, I love combing the beach for sea glass. I am lucky enough to live right near the beach so year-round I get the opportunity to search the beach for this treasure. The only difference looking for this colorful treasure today is it isn’t as abundant was it was 25-30 years ago.

I have a few buckets of sea glass in the basement so I decided to do some research on projects I can make with all of the glass I have collected over the years. So many people have come up with interesting and beautiful ways to take this thrown away glass and turn it into a treasure. Below are 13 fun and beautiful projects I found for giving sea glass a new purpose that will brighten up your home or make a great gift.

1.  Starfish Sea Glass Mobile

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2. Mosaic Sea Glass Table

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3. Driftwood Sea Glass Mermaid Art

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4. Anchor Charm Sea Glass Necklace

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5.  Sea Glass Wine Glass Charms

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6.  Sea Glass Chandelier Lighting Fixture

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7.  Sea Glass Monogram Artwork

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8.  Sea Glass Palm Tree Artwork

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9.  Starfish Sea Glass Ornament

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10.  Sea Glass Mason Jar

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11.  Sea Glass Flip Flop Artwork

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12.  Sea Glass Clock with Drift Wood

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13.  Sea Glass Wreath

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What items have you created out of your sea glass? Comment and share you photos with us!