Author Archives: lexivsblog

DIY Baby Snuggler Swaddle Wrap

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Part II of the recent baby shower gift I put together. These snuggler swaddle wraps seem to be popping up on all the registries lately and so I thought perhaps I would make a pattern so my lovely friends could have them in patterns of their choice (instead of the limited styles they have at the store). I made this one as part of the most recent baby shower gift I put together and in doing so I was able to make it out of really cute flannel monster fabric…and I was able to save $20.00 over the cost of the swaddler at Target. The way I see it…that’s win/win. After all If I can make it for less….my friends get more ūüôā

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First I started by googling snuggle swaddlers so I could break down the pieces needed to create one of my own. There are a surprising number of free patterns from sewing to knitting. I took the opportunity to really assess a few for sewing and then drew out my own. Above is the pattern I made by taping together a few pieces of paper (I used some from the last presentation I went to at work so as not to waist fresh printer paper but do as you like. News paper works well for patterns as well and allows for less taping on small projects like this) and then drawing and cutting out the basic pattern. The straight areas of these patterns line up with the center fold of the fabric you are using. Next iron fabric and cut out both pieces twice (once for the outer shell and once for the liner)

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Next sew together pleats where all of the triangle cut outs appear in the pattern above -2 sets at the feet and one set at the shoulders (as you can see I added two pleats to the bottom of the main piece so it would line up with and match the front pocket piece). Then line up your outer shell and your liner (with the outer patterns facing in and sew from foot pleat to foot pleat leaving an opening between the pleats. Turn both pieces right side out and iron.

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With the outer shell patterns facing in again line up the bottom foot pleats of the main body and the front pouch and sew from armpit to armpit. I used my surger to finish off the fabric at the toes to remove all raw edges. Then flip right side out for an almost completed project. At this point you can happily hold up your very recognizable swaddler and parade around the room proudly showing what you have accomplished.

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Finally attach Velcro as your securing method. I placed a strip of Velcro on the top of the front pouch for the first fold. I placed two pieces horizontally and one piece vertically for the second fold (this allows the front piece to be adjustable based on the size of the baby).

**Update…the swaddle and sleep sack were a great success. Another successful baby shower gift complete.

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Filed under Budget, Children, Crafts and Gifts, DIY, Family, Motherhood, parenting

DIY Baby Sleepsack

20141117_124520¬†Baby sleepsacks are all the rage throughout the winter months as they keep new babies nice and warm without new parents having to worry about bulky blankets which are a risk for smothering and infant death. Sleepsacks can be purchased at just about every baby store and online registry these days…but many are expensive¬†and there are limited prints and styles. Here is one I made as a baby shower gift for a friend – the total cost was (hopefully my friend doesn’t see this post) about $5.00. There are many variations (zippers in the front instead of snaps, or Velcro along the sides, or even kimono style wrap front designs), no matter which style you choose these are always sure to be a big hit.

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I started by picking a fabric I knew my friends would enjoy (they had registered for other fun monster print items) and then I mapped out a pattern. If you already have a sleepsack handy you can literally just trace the one you have. If you don’t you can make a paper pattern by looking up different styles as I did here. (I also used a baby onesie (3-6months) when creating the pattern to ensure the neck and arm holes would be big enough for baby to fit into them comfortably.)

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Next cut out the pattern  x 4- front and back of the outside and front and back of the liner. I used a crushed velvet material for the liner and a flannel for the outer shell. Then sew from armpit to armpit leaving about 3 inches of space on one side (this will allow the sleepsack to open so the baby can be placed inside). You can see my opening where I have left pins in the liner.

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Flip the two pieces inside out and stuff the outer shell into the liner and sew together the arm pit holes and the yolk of the neck. You can close the top of 3 shoulders but leave one open so you can turn the sack right side out.

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Open the whole you have left at the top of the shoulder and proceed to stuff the sack through it turning the whole thing right side out.

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Now you only need to close up one hole and get ready to add buttons or snaps. I used a blind hem to  close the top of the shoulder so it would match the other three however you can use a straight stitch over the top after you tuck in all the raw unfinished edges.

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Finally add buttons to the top for a clean finished look and snaps to the insides of one shoulder and the open side. I used the button on the left to secure the left shoulder (it doesn’t open). The button on the right is just for decoration as safety snaps are what the parents actually use to close the garment up. Vowalla one happy custom sleepsack ready for a new baby.

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DIY baby fairy or ballerina

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I originally made these little tutu’s as a baby gift for a friend but just love them as regular dress up box items or fun, quick and easy Halloween costumes for the little ones. Whether this costume is to play in around the house, or wear over to Grandma’s for the first Halloween Oooooo’s and Ahhhh’s, these little skirts are sure to please! Here’s how you make them…

First assemble your needed supplies… elastic for the waist band (measure a little snug or short the measurement by an inch or two on the baby or child so that it still fits once you add all the fluff), needle and thread, measuring tape, pins, scissors, and tulle/ribbon in various colors.

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Lay out the tool on a flat cutting surface – measure and mark the width you want your strips to be -and place a pin in each to hold them together? I doubled over the tulle I had, and then layered three pieces together so I could cut the whole skirt all at once. If you have a rotary cutter and sewing mat this process goes crazy quick! (Remember to make the length of the strips twice the length you want them to be for the finished skirt. Each piece will be folded over and looped around the waist band as the attachment method.)

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Once you have all of your strips of ribbon and tulle cut into equal lengths, make your waist band for them to loop around. Make sure to make the waist a little smaller than the actual child. Once you start adding the fluff the elastic will stretch a bit and the final size will actually be bigger than you start with.

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Finally Take two to three pieces of tulle at a time or a piece of tulle and a piece of ribbon and match them up one on top of the other. fold all three pieces in half and loop them around the waist band making a small knot at the waist band to hold them in place. You want to make sure to have multiple layers of tulle in each loop to ensure the skirt is nice and full. Also having multiple colors in each loop creates a nice depth and whimsy.

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Aaaaaaaand vowala you have an adorable and fun tutu or fairy skirt in no time!

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The Vaccine Controversy

We are coming up on cold and flu season and a time when people begin to speak up more heatedly about vaccination. From seasonal vaccines to childhood vaccines- people begin to defend their point of view on the validity and necessity of such a practice. I am a nurse and have written posts defending my point of view on this topic more than once. I have collected studies and data to compile for collegiate papers while obtaining my degree, and did so again after obtaining a position as a full time RN for the benefit of staff and patient education. I have seen the devastating, and sometimes non-reversible, effects of  preventable illness on young children and their families. I have provided care and treatment for these families in their times of crisis, and have as a result found myself firmly rooted in a position for vaccination. However, today instead of once again writing my own article and simply leaving a trail of links for studies at the end I thought I would let the articles and research of physicians/scientists do the talking. Please find below just 2 links abounding with research and MORE links for your review. Wishing you all a happy and healthy day!

From: Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism: Healthcare Triage 12

‚ÄúHumans try to make sense of the world by seeing patterns. When they see a disease or condition that tends to appear around the time a child is a year or so old, as autism does, and that is also the age that kids get particular shots, they want to put those things together. Parents watch kids more carefully after they get shots. Sometimes they pick up on symptoms then. Just because two things happen at the same time doesn‚Äôt mean that one caused the other. This is why we need careful scientific studies.‚ÄĚ

 

From Violent Metaphors : Dr. Jennifer Raff

http://violentmetaphors.com/2014/03/25/parents-you-are-being-lied-to/

Dear parents, you are being lied to.

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Fruit Sushi

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

I have always loved the look of sushi. It looks wonderful as it comes to the table (you just know a lot of work and love went into making it). Unfortunately I happen to be allergic to fish…like all fish! So sadly I have never been able to have sushi. For many years I wanted to make sushi for a party even though I couldn’t have it, but recently was struck by lightening as I thought (why not just make sushi you can actually eat?! Sushi with fish isn’t the only sushi out there!) I had a few ideas in mind but decided to google fruit sushi to see what other people may have tried (what worked and what failed) and I found an overwhelming number of great recipes from home chefs all over the world. Here are two websites that I used and/or took inspiration from.

http://www.latartinegourmande.com/2008/11/17/fruit-sushi/

http://www.sheknows.com/food-and-recipes/articles/1035627/fruit-sushi-recipe

I started with these ideas and recipes and then made my own variations. It all turned out wonderful and was a great hit at the dinner party I took it to…but I think in the future I will also make some dipping sauces to go along side of these pretty little treats. After all regular sushi has soy sauce…why shouldn’t fruit sushi have a raspberry and balsamic glaze for dipping!?

In addition to the recipes from these two sites I also made up my own sushi roll and the recipe is as follows…

  • 4 pieces of prosciutto slightly overlapping on a piece of parchment paper.
  • Then add a thin layer of the rice pudding/sticky rice.
  • Layer sliced figs (or dates) and goat cheese in the center

When you roll up the sushi really press the whole thing together pretty tight so the rice doesn’t fall out when cutting. Then once you have your neat slices, turn them on the side to show your lovely design and enjoy.

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DIY Wedding Dress

Back in April I had the great privilege of making a wedding dress for a good friend of mine. I hadn’t made a wedding dress since I worked in the costume department during my college years (so needless to say I was a bit rusty), but I had a friend in need and so I set out to make the dress she had been envisioning for the last year. Truthfully, my friend had been very wise and had picked out and ordered her dress a year before the wedding. However, when the dress arrived a mere 3 weeks before the wedding it wasn’t right. From the fabric, to the design, all the way to the size the dress was wrong. Panicked and overwhelmed with the final weeks of wedding planning she had resigned herself to buying a simple cocktail dress at a department store to get married in…but for me that simply wouldn’t do! So one duct tape manikin, 6 yards of dupioni silk, and 72 pearl buttons later I was helping her into her dress for the wedding. AND I am happy to report she was happy with the final product! Here is a quick breakdown (in pictures) of how I made her dress in 3 weeks (while still working my normal job, cleaning my house, and attending pre-wedding / bachelorette functions etc ūüôā

First we bought a long night shirt and a roll of duct tape and I made a duct tape manikin of my friend. (By doing this I was able to make the dress to fit her perfectly from the start. We didn’t have time for extra alterations later.

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Next I created the general shape of the dress with a basic white satin (this will become the under slip and guide for the rest of the dress). My friend wanted a deep sweetheart neck line, low back and mermaid fit through the hips…so I pinned and created seams accordingly. (I also added corseting style boning and cups at this point so my fiend wouldn’t have to worry about an uncomfortable strapless bra. This dress was made to stay up throughout the ceremony and party without any unsightly tugging or adjusting!)

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Always make sure you look at the dress from every angle ensuring you have extra fabric for finishing seams and zippers later!Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Next I began laying the Dupioni silk over the top of the Satin under dress. Achieving the right look with ruching or folds can be difficult. If you are going to attempt this type of project take as much time as you need at this point and get the fabric to lay properly. Pin and re-pin as necessary without getting discouraged. Trust me it’s worth it in the end to do it right at this point ūüôā

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Once I had the front pinned I began working on the back. To some degree the back of the dress can be more difficult than the front as a result of the zipper. For this dress I started by creating the folds on one side of the zipper and then moved to the other side working to ensure everything would match up perfectly once the dress was zipped.

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Next I closed all of the seams (which can be tricky keeping all of your ornate folds in place properly and the only piece of advice I can give is lots of pins and lots of patience!)

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Next (and I’m sorry I don’t have pictures of this part) turn your new lovely dress inside out and sew the top of the under dress to the actual wedding dress and then turn right side out again. This will create an invisible hem at the bust line and a clean finish to the whole dress effectively hiding all of your seams (the seams of the dress face the seams of the under dress so you can’t see the seams at all). Once this is complete ensure the bust line is laying properly and make any adjustments necessary to ensure it won’t bubble or pucker.

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Finally insert zipper using the invisible zipper method, attach buttons down the back of the dress covering the zipper (if desired), add any details such as rhinestones or feathers you wish to have, and hem the bottom (You will need your lovely bride to be in her wedding shoes of choice for this last measurement). Vowalla one wedding dress custom made and ready to wear.

Created with Nokia Smart Cam(I also added a bustle to the back of this dress so she could dance the night away without worrying about people stepping on the train.)

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The Vaccine Controversy & Jenny McCarthy

Standing in the line at the Super Market I find myself regularly perusing the magazines that line the checkout counter. I know they are mostly fluff (all arts and leisure with a hearty splashing of Hollywood blah blah) but I can’t help myself…it’s there and so readily available. I only read the covers on the Hollywood blah blah¬†magazines (I admittedly sift through articles from¬†the¬†home improvement and food mags), you know so I can keep up with the headlines of pop-culture LOL. Most days it’s a quick look with little to catch my attention for any longer than it takes to ring up my basket of groceries, but every once in a while I spot something that makes me look a bit more close, last night happened to be one of those nights. There staring back at me was a smiling Jenny McCarthy holding her son, whom she has claimed for many years, has autism as a result of infant vaccines.¬†Head lining the picture “Vaccines” and “Autism” could be seen from 3 checkout counters over so I was moving on pretty quickly…before I realized what the full headline really was. According to the article Jenny McCarthy had stated in a TimeMagazine interview that her son may NOT have had Autism after all. Well, a day later that article is being picked a part and Jenny McCarthy is saying it isn’t true…but there is was before the public once again…the question of a link between Autism and Vaccines.

http://www.ctvnews.ca/entertainment/jenny-mccarthy-report-of-new-stance-on-autism-vaccines-irresponsible-and-inaccurate-1.1617795

Here’s the truth. I took a double take at that article because I am a nurse…in fact I am a NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and Pediatric nurse and I take childrens health very seriously. I have nieces and nephews and hundreds of patients whom I care very deeply about and seeing their wellfare placed in jeopardy over and over again without evidence drives me bonkers! I am all about questioning what we do in medicine because I know that questioning things is how we find great advancements. I know that when we break down what we are doing and why we are doing it- we learn. We learn that some things we have done for years (such as using alcohol swabs to dry umbilical cords)may no longer be necessary….we also learn that some things (such as oral suctioning to prevent pneumonia) continue to be prevelant and very necessary for the well being of those we care for. ¬†It is absolutely vital that we question our practices…BUT it is more important that we research and perform studies to answer our questions. We don’t simply question something, find a few similar cases and decide we have a grand factual finding. We have to break down hundreds if not thousands of cases; we have to look at the science and the written reports before we can come to a definitive conclusion.

As far as Vaccines go I have yet to see reports or studies or papers in medical journals which have clearly and scientifically¬†linked Vaccines to Autism or any other illness similar….and I look regularly. As I said I have a large number of people who are counting on me to have their best interest in mind, and that includes looking to see what the latest research says before I walk into a room to ask a parent if they want me to vaccinate their infant or child.

Naturally after such an article was published and placed on stands in a wide variety of super markets there have been an outpouring of posts on facebook, twitter and personal blogs about childhood vaccines (both pro and con). In the interest of full disclosure I must admit I am pro-vaccine because I have found research to show its benefits and have not yet found any which can solidly refute it. In fact, the only one that came close was quashed quickly. Here’s the link to an article looking at the original¬†publication which brought up Autism and Vaccines together. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3136032/

This is a website I was told about by a parent of one of my patients. http://www.voicesforvaccines.org/growing-up-unvaccinated/¬† It is a parent run website/movement and I must admit I am very impressed with how professional it looks, the stories and honesty of those on it, as well as the fact that they clear all of their info with physicians and scientists before they report. It is very¬†pro-vaccine…no hiding or pretending here. ¬†¬†http://www.voicesforvaccines.org/growing-up-unvaccinated/

Finally…Information on vaccines from 2 organizations who dedicate their existance¬†to finding the best practice for our worlds communities. Perhaps it is because I have friends who have worked for both of these organizations over the years (and who I know¬†have spent countless hours in small reasearch tents in third world countries trying to find links and traits and cures)…but I trust them. The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) http://www.who.int/topics/vaccines/en/¬†and the Centers for Disease Control (C.D.C.) http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/side-effects.htm

Bottom Line – I’m not saying everyone needs to agree with me and run out and vaccinate your children…BUT I do think WE ALL need to make sure we stay well educated so we can make the most informed decisions possible.

Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy Day!

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Year End

It has been a busy few months for the sisters here at GirlsvsBlog. The end of the year has snuck up on us as we have been busy renovating, baking, writing novels, completing family projects, moving, and welcoming new family members.

The months have slipped by in what seems like only a few moments. Its abrupt passage has me in a contemplative mood as I reflect upon the changes of the past year. We have seen in the news great stories of tragedy and triumph alike this year. Some have drawn smiles to our faces while others have brought tears. At home, the sentiments of the news have been reflected in our everyday lives as we cope with inner turmoil and geographical injustices.

For many this has been a wonderful eventful year and for others…perhaps a year they are happy to be moving on from. As I look back through my own list of events I must admit I have moments in each category…but for the most part I am extremely greatful for the year I have had and the wonderful memories I will take from it. That being said, I feel there are always ways to improve…or perhaps less New Years resolutiony…goals I wish to accomplish.

My own thoughts move toward the future, toward the goals I have set up for myself over the last few months and I wonder are these just blind resolutions? There are countless posts on blogs and facebook and twitter about peoples New Years resolutions and despite my belief that these individuals really think they are going to accomplish their resolution this year,¬† I have my doubts. So there it is…the year in one simple block. A resolution is made….it is either accomplished or set aside…the year ends with reflection…new resolutions are made. The reflection part takes into account the success or failure of those initial resolutions as well as all the additional ones made along the way as the year elapsed before us. What has me sitting with such great refection this year isn’t why people continue to make resolutions and not keep them…it’s how to keep them.

When I look back I am proud of the year I had…still I wish I had kept a few more of the resolutions (goals) I made throughout the year. I finished NaNoWriMo….but I still haven’t let anyone read my 50K word novel. I lost weight….I gained weight back….I became determined to loose it all again. I published a handful of blog posts…wish I had published a handful more. ¬†Etc, etc, etc.

How do we keep our goals, set in moments, throughout an entire year; throughout a year of many more moments which may come to throw us off our course? Tradgedy strikes the world daily and our “resolutions” seem some how small and much less important…and yet here we are at the end of the year and still we find ourselves counting the successes and failures. How can we balance our moment goals among the great ups and downs of an enitre year?

I reflect but find no answers to my queries readily before me. Still, I do not sit idle but instead look upon the accomplishments of others and the brave recovery of those struck by tragedy and I smile knowing that though I may not have the answer just yet…I have time.

To all of our readers here at Girls vs Blog. Thank you for visiting us this year. We look forward to a wonderful year of blogging adventures ahead and we wish you all the very best of luck in tackling your own New Years Resolutions.

P.S. Please feel free to let us know about your upcoming goals and what you do to stay on top of them!

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Halloween – 5 Fun Facts

Fun facts about  HALLOWEEN!

1. Did you know Halloween was started in Ireland by the celts roughly 2000 years ago, and didn’t become popular in America until the beginning of the 1900’s. Originally Halloween was called Samhain (last days of summer) and was actually the end of the pagan calendar. People lit bonfires and celebrated in costume to greet the coming new year.

2. Black cats were considered bad luck for many decades because of a belief in the Dark Ages that cats were demonic familiars. They were thought to be found at the houses of witches. Now, black cats are considered good luck in Ireland especially if they cross your path!

3. The tradition of carving Jack-O-Lanterns also found its origins in Ireland. Celtic folklore tells the story of the Drunken Farmer Jack who tricked the devil into promising never to take his soul. Unfortunately Jack lived a sinful life and couldn’t get into heaven either. Lost in the darkness Jack asked how he would find his way…the devil then jokingly tossed him an ember from hell that would never go out…jack placed the ember in a carved turnip (later would become a pumpkin) and used the lantern to light his way as he wondered the earth for eternity looking for a place to rest. Later people carved the lanterns and set them on their stoops to help light the way for lost souls/ghosts and carved scary faces to ward of unsavory devils looking to take advantage.

4. Witches¬†– originated from the Pagan Goddess “Earth Mother” or “The Crone.” She was meant to symbolize wisdom and the changing of the seasons. She was considered good and was worshiped (respected)…she later morphed into the symbol of evil and dark magic as cultures and religions changed in the region.

5. Dressing up as Ghouls and Goblins on Halloween…Celts believed that by dressing up on Samhain (when the veil between the world of the living and the dead was thinnest – and spirits could walk the earth) as a ghouls or goblin would trick the evil spirits walking the earth¬†into thinking you were one of them; there by preventing them from capturing you and stealing your soul.

 

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How to: Grout Tile Flooring

How To: Grout Tile Flooring

Step 1: Pick out the type of grout you need for the space you are using (we used sanded grout for flooring). Decide on color and then mix in a large bucket per manufacturers instructions. Make sure to wear proper protective equipment while mixing as the grout dust will fly up and get into your eye’s, nose and mouth if you don’t (yuck!). Once the water is thoroughly mixed in allow the grout to set up – it should be about the consistency of¬†damp¬†beach sand when it is ready to use.

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Step 2: Begin work in the corner furthest from the exit door, and work your way out of the room. Using a tile float (looks like a tile trowel but the base is rubber or foam instead of metal) scoop up a large amount of grout and begin to work it into the seams between the tiles. If you have smaller tiles you can drag the grout all the way across the tiles in sweeping patters to push the grout into all of the seams. We are laying larger tiles here and so we focused around the seams. You do need to work the grout in using multiple directions in order to force as much grout into the joint as possible. This will help to create a strong bond and keep your floors in great condition for years to come.

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Step 3: Allow the grout to set up for approx. 30min depending on the manufacturers instructions. Once it has had the initial set up time using a damp sponge begin to remove the excess grout from the top of the tiles.

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Work in a circular motion with a lite touch to ensure you don’t pull grout out of the seams. There will still be a haze over the floor, this is okay. Allow the grout to set up another 2 hrs or so (again refer to manufacturer guidelines) and then go over the tiles again with a barely damp sponge or cloth. Wipe up the haze and then go over it with a dry cloth after. Once the tiles are clean allow the grout to cure for a few days.

Step 4: Step back and admire your newly grouted tile floor. Allow floors to cure for a few days before moving onto sealing.

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Step 5: If you have made it this far in your floor improvement project…Congratulations you are only one step away from being done! With the commercial sealer of choice in hand start once again in the back corner of the room and run a thin line of grout sealer over each joint. Do not wash over tile with sealer…stick to the grout! Allow first coat to sit for 20 minutes and then go over the¬†grout again. Then allow the sealer to sit overnight and vowalla…you are done! Clean out the tools, repaint your walls, put your floor boards back up, and start using your lovely new floor!

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