How to Follow your favorite blogs

how to easily follow your favorite blogs - illistyle.com

Hi friends! Often times, when people find out I am a blogger one of their first questions is, “How do I keep up with my favorite blogs?” When I first started reading blogs I had a folder on my browser bookmark bar where I would go and check each blog each day to see what was new…. my oh my did that take a LOT of time!  Now I have found much easier ways to follow my favorite blogs … there are varying opinions on how to follow your favorite blogs, so I will discuss each with pros and cons so you can find the method that works for you:

1. Facebook: For the reader this is not my favorite option because FB as a company throttles (reads: limits to the extreme) what a reader sees of pages she or he “likes.” As a page manager I can see how many people like the illistyle fan page, currently 4,500+ people, BUT I also see how many people get to see any give post in their feed, usually between 100-400 people. So, on average, 2%-10% of my readers who have liked my page will actually get to see something that I post to the illistyle Facebook page… unless I want to pay FB to allow more people to see it.  Since most bloggers are working for free (like I am right now as I write this post) or nearly free and therefore do not have the budget to promote (pay for) posts to be shown to more readers it is unlikely that you will actually see what is going on with the blogs you love. Major bummer for you, the reader, and major frustration for me, the blogger.

How to follow your favorite blogs facebook - illistyle.com

 

2. Twitter: If you are an avid twitter user and know how to set up lists, this could be a good option for you, since you will have a streamlined feed that shows what is posted by your favorite people in real time.  Personally, as a blogger, posting to the illistyle twitter account is not super effective when it comes to getting people to actually click through and read a post, so I do not put very much effort into Twitter.  That is a personal thing I do because as a blogger I have to choose where I spend my time and energy… but I know some bloggers who LOVE Twitter and the community. So if you love Twitter and use it regularly this could be great for you.

how to follow your favorite blogs on twitter - illistyle.com

3. Instagram: I love to follow my favorite bloggers on Instagram. If you are a visual person, this is a great way to get a quick idea of what bloggers are doing because you literally get a snapshot of the post.  I also like the fact that most bloggers will include photos form their everyday lives, so you get to know them through their IG feeds.

illistyle instagram on phone - illistyle.com

4. Newsletters: A lot of bloggers offer newsletters for their readers.  I offer the illistyle newsletter with the promise only to bring you the best and to send it in non-annoying intervals (plus I will never share or sell your info.) Every blogger does their newsletter differently, some are just quick recaps of their most recent posts with links to read the whole thing, others have special offers or tell you what is coming up on the blog. The illistyle newsletter is a combo of the two since I like to give you guys a heads up (when I can) about upcoming posts or giveaways you might be interested in entering and to show you some of the posts you may have missed if you don’t use a service like Bloglovin (see #5). The only downside of this is that some bloggers are sporadic in their newsletters, others are way overboard and send you emails everyday, and still others will never send a thing… plus, you might end up with an inbox chocked full of blogger newsletters. Ain’t nobody got time for that… well, some people might, but I do not. Therefore I only subscribe to blog I absolutely LOVE.

how to keep up with blog newsletter - illistyle.com

5. Bloglovin: This is my absolute FAVORITE way to follow the blogs I love.  I like it because a) I never miss a blog post from those I follow, b) it is a free service, c) I get to choose HOW I see my favorite blogs’ new posts. Here is a screen shot of the actual settings page on Bloglovin:

v

Personally, I choose to receive a daily email that shows the new posts made by the bloggers I follow.  But you can also choose to get all new posts as they happen, or choose no emails and simply visit Bloglovin and read your feed to find out what your favorite bloggers are up to. Here’s an example of what the Bloglovin feed looks like:

how to follow blogs using bloglovin - illistyle.com

Your Bloglovin feed (and the emails they send, if you so choose) will show the posts from your chosen blogs in chronological order with the newest post first. You get the title, a snippet preview, and the featured image.  You can click the post title, image, or anywhere in the post preview box (the white box) to be taken directly to the full blog post on that site.

I love that each day I can read all the posts from my favorite bloggers without having to spend an hour checking each individual site to see if he or she had posted anything new that day. It is a HUGE timesaver. (if you want to follow illistyle on Bloglovin, click here)

However you choose to follow the blog you love, please know this: BLOGGERS THANK YOU! We do what we do because we love it.  I love blogging.  I am a maker, a communicator, and relational by nature.  I love connecting with you guys, seeing your projects, reading your questions and comments, getting emails and messages that I have helped in some way. Thank you for supporting illistyle and allowing me to do what I love.

how to easily follow your favorite blogs - illistyle.com

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DIY Floral Headbands

DIY Floral Headbands - illistyle.com

Hello my loves! I just want to thank our sponsor, Arrow Fastener, for inspiring this post… I have been busy busy lately! And it is all good!  Today I wanted to share with the how I made these super sweet DIY floral headbands. Here’s what you’ll need:

1. 3 pieces of Wrapped Floral Wire
2. Wire Nippers
3. Faux Flowers
4. 1/2″ wide Gross Grain Ribbon
5. Scissors
6. Hot Glue Gun (this is mine)

Floral-Headband-supplies

1. We want to start by making a frame for our flowers to be secured to. Wrap one piece of floral wire very loosely around a second piece (as shown below, left.) The wire may be difficult to wrap and want to lay flat on the table, this is good, you want it to lay flat on the table so it will lay flat against your head.

DIY Floral Headbands - illistyle.com

2. Slide the third piece of floral wire through the openings (as shown above, right)

3. Wrap the entire frame around your head were you would like the band to sit, shaping the wire into a semi-circle.

4. Trim end of each side with wire nippers, as needed to create even edges. Set frame aside.

5. Cut 2 pieces of ribbon approximately 2-3″ long.

How to make Floral Headbands - illistyle.com

6. Using hot glue, secure ribbon around base of each side to cover ends of wire and protect the wearer from harm.

How to make Floral Headbands - illistyle.com

7. Using wire nippers, cut flowers from stems, cut as close to bloom as possible. Set aside.

How to make Floral Headbands - illistyle.com

8. Cut felt circles that will be large enough to cover the green area on the back of each flower.

How to make Floral Headbands - illistyle.com

9. Using your hot glue gun, place a large dollop of glue on the back of a single flower. Place headband, upside down, onto flower and quickly place a circle of felt over the headband and exposed hot glue on the back of the flower.

http://www.illistyle.com/crafts/diy-floral-headbands

Floral Headband Tutorial - illistyle.com

10. Repeat until all flowers are secure.

11. Wear that bad boy with wild hippy abandon!

DIY Floral Headband Tutorial - illistyle.com

DIY Floral Headband Tutorial - illistyle.com

DIY Floral Headbands - illistyle.com

Would you wear one of these?

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How I keep upholstery white even with kids and dogs

Living Room Fireplace - illistyle.com

Thank you to COIT for sponsoring this post, post contains affiliate links.

So you probably think I am nuts for having a white sofa and a white glider and even worse – a white ottoman, that we actually use to put our feet up on… and have I told you that my husband doesn’t usually wear shoes, like ever? And his feet are ba-lack on the bottom? And I let my preschooler on the sofa? And my chihuahua, Mango? Maybe now you think I am crazy to have white upholstery.  But let me let you in on my secrets of how I keep my upholstery white: 1. My sofa is actually slip covered. Slipcovered sofa - illistyle.com Smoke and mirrors, kids. Smoke and mirrors. I do not actually have a white sofa, I have a red floral sofa with a Sure Fit slip cover (available here and here) Yeah, that’s what my sofa actually looks like.  But my glider and ottoman are white chenille… no slip cover.  Why? Why on earth would a college-educated, fairly rational woman do such a thing? Two words: Pregnancy Brain. Anyone who has ever been pregnant or in close relationship with a woman with child knows this is a real thing. Pregnancy brain means your memory, decision-making ability, and most cognitive functioning is impaired because your body is using every available ounce of energy trying to create a tiny human. And I was about 6 months into my pregnancy with Ava when I chose this glider & ottoman combo. This is what happens after hubby/baby/dogs (ok, and I) spend years sitting on, nursing in, cuddled on, sleep on, and otherwise LIVING ON our furniture:

Stained White Chair before COIT cleaning process - illistyle.com

I literally had to keep the ottoman covered with this throw at all times… otherwise people would see this: Stained White Ottoman before COIT cleaning service - illistyle.com

for shame.  I know for a fact at one point a cup must have been placed on the ottoman, theres a distinct half-ring liquid pattern on the bottom middle… wonder how that happened? But the back was the worst, because the minute you walked in the front door this was visible: white chair c=before cleaning with COIT - illistyle.com

I am not sure if a small child was carrying apple juice from Point A to Point B… or if a passive-aggressive chihuahua was exacting some form of revenge… but this chair was BEAT. And nasty. How can this ever be remedied? I have another secret:

2. COIT. Coit is a mobile cleaning service that comes to your home and makes otherwise beige gliders and ottomans white again. White Ottoman after COIT cleaning - illistyle.com

huh, huh?! Pretty impressive, right?

Chair after COIT - illistyle.com

They started by using this gnarly industrial shop vac to pull the dust (and a fair amount of debris) from the chair and ottoman.  I was shocked that the chair looked whiter just after a good vacuuming.  Apparently, I need to put that on my seasonal cleaning list: “Vacuum Upholstered Furniture.”  The COIT tech was very knowledgeable and friendly.  I am THAT customer who asks a million questions and wants to know how exactly the process works and can she “try using the equipment?” But really, I thought that the hose vacuum that then morphs into a sprayer and simultaneously shoots hot water and detergent into my upholstery then removes said liquid all at once was a rad invention and I wanted to try it.  The tech politely said “But this is why I am here” like a super hero, so I let the man do what he needed to do. COIT-hose-cleaning-attachment- illistyle.com

Interestingly enough, COIT LA uses the water from your garden spigot and attaches that via their hoses to the van, where the water is heated and detergent is added.  It totally makes sense that they cannot haul around all that water and therefore use the clients’, but for some reason that never occurred to me, so that fact was interesting, well it was to me… but I am obviously easily intrigued – we talked about how I tried to get the tech to let me clean my own upholstery because I thought the vacuum looked super fun, right? COIT Service Truck - illistyle.com

The whole process took about an hour and a half, and I think the majority of that was the tech being gracious to me and patiently answering all my questions, like “Whats the worst thing you have ever had to clean?” He was discreet in his answer, but I have a much higher respect for what he has to do on a daily basis.  Maybe my dog-haired, dirt-smeared, mystery-stained chair wasn’t such a tough job after all. But I will say, my chair and ottoman look new again.  I love that when I look into the living room I now see the room and no longer see the dirty chair that made me cringe. And since the cleaning is about 1/8 of what I paid for the set, I would say that this is a big win in the budget category! White Upholstery before and after COIT cleaning - illistyle.com I forgot to update you guys! We added this new rug to the living room. Score. So texture. How to keep uphostery white with kids and dogs - illistyle.com

Do you have tips for keeping your upholstery white? I mean other than banning your family from the room and/or covering your sofa in plastic?

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I was compensated by COIT Upholstery Los Angeles in the form of a free upholstery cleaning.  All opinions are 100% my own.

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DIY Cross Stitch Sunglasses

DIY Cross Stitch Sunglasses - illistyle.com

I have been on a total cross-stitch kick lately.  Seriously, like “Cross Stitch all the things!” And since summer is coming I thought it was time to try some Cross Stitch Sunglasses.  Try revamping an old pair to make these great DIY Cross Stitch Sunglasses. This was such a fun and quick little project.  (affilate links included) I snagged these cute aviators for $5 at Old Navy and dolled them up with… Puff Paint! Here’s how I did it:

Cross Stitch Sunglasses with puff paint - illistyle.com

I took highlighters in colors corresponding to my Puff Paint and created a template on some graph paper.

cross stitch sunglasses template - illistyle.com

When I was happy with my design, I tried to place the paper behind the sunglasses, but between the “non-reproducable blue lines” and the highlighter the paper looked white. So I was forced to free hand, but you guys know from my Eyelet Lace Painted Stool situation that I have no fear of free hand.  I probably should have a healthy reverence for it as I mass up a lot, but it doesn’t scare me.

Cross- Stitch Sunglasses progress - illistyle.com

I created the pattern just as I would if I were cross stitching, I did all the “stitches” in one direction, starting from the top, left to right, and going toward the bottom.  Then I set the glasses aside for about an hour.

Cross Stitch Sunglasses with puff paint - illistyle.com

I then came back and finished the other direction of the stitches and let them dry.  I showed them to Ava and asked to take her photo in the grass.  I said “Sit right there…” and she knelt down and did this pose:

Embroidered sunglasses - illistyle.com

OMG my child just Zoolandered me.  I half expected her to say “Merman, Dad, merman!”  But seriously, shes 4. I have trouble on my hands, don’t I?
Embroidered sunglasses - illistyle.com

Embroidered sunglasses - illistyle.com

It’s amazing how the right accessories can make a girl feel fabulous!

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How to become a first time home buyer in 18 easy steps

18 steps for first time home buyers - illistyle.com

Guys, home buying, super simple, right? I am at the end of my first home buying adventure.  I can tell you that it only takes these 18 little steps. (That is if you don’t have to repeat any…) If you are looking at buying your first home you probably have a lot of questions, like:

How do I know what is available in my area?” Check out my iphone app suggestions here for help with that.

How do I know what I can even afford?” Check out this post for more details on that.

If you are wondering “What is the overall home buying process like?” here are 18 easy steps to becoming a first time home buyer:

1. Get pre-approved for a loan so you know how much you can afford

2. Work with a realtor to find a home you love.

3. Place an offer, if accepted, move ahead to step 5, otherwise continue to step 4.

4. If offer is countered by seller, go through negotiations until you can agree with seller. Otherwise, repeat step 2.

4. Once offer is accepted, rejoice you are in escrow.

5. Freak out that you “just bought a house.”

6. Realize that you are still so far away from actually being a home owner.

7. Work with lender to get actually approved for a real loan and open an escrow account. If funding is approved, continue to step 8, otherwise, go back to step 2.

8. Work with Realtor to schedule all necessary inspections on the home within the first 17 days of escrow. If all goes well, proceed to step 14, if not, go to step 9.

9. Submit a “request for repairs” from seller

10. If the request is granted proceed to step 11, if not, go back to step 2.

11. Wait while repairs are completed. If necessary, have Realtor submit an extension on escrow.

12. Once repairs are completed, proceed to step 13.

14. Wait for escrow to close.

15. Wait some more.

16. Have final walk-through and official “closing” with realtor, seller, their realtor.

17. Rejoice you are finally a official home owner and have the freedom to do whatever you want.

18. Freak out that you are officially a home owner and have the responsibility to do it all yourself.

 

See? Super simple! What? This doesn’t sound simple? This sounds intense and confusing and riddled with pitfalls? Oh, right that. Well, yes.  I am currently at step #11 and it has only taken 4 months. So I guess terms like “simple” are relative. Or maybe I am just feeling fed up and tired and the way I deal with that is sass and sarcasm. Ugh. I am dying. I am ready for this to be done already. Seriously. Somebody pour me a glass of wine.

The good news: actual home owners tell me that this process, though long and emotionally exhausting, is totally worth it and that in the end everything happens quickly and suddenly you jump from step 14 to step 17 and are saying things like “whoa, that was so easy”. Woohoo.  I cannot wait for step 17!

Any words of encouragement for this weary almost-homebuyer?

creative lifestyle blogger southern caifornia - illistyle.com

18 steps for first time home buyers - illistyle.com

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Cleaning up my dirty little secret with the best handheld vacuum around

Car Interior Quick Cleaning Guide - illistyle.com

Thank you to BLACK+DECKER for sponsoring this post and giveaway

It’s confession time.  I have a dirty little secret.  It’s my car. So apparently it’s a dirty big SUV-shaped secret. I cannot seem to keep that thing orderly or clean.  At all.  I clean out the grocery bag full of trash once (or twice) a week… but I cannot get myself to the car wash to get it vacuumed and pulling the dyson out to the garage is too much! Working moms have so many other things on their plates.  Vacuuming my car takes a very low priority.  And how sad, look how much this hardworking mobile trash can vehicle does for me:

SUV as mobile storage - illistyle.com

Childs things in back seat - illistyle.com

-hauler of my groceries
-keeper of my returns
-child’s toy box
-child’s wardrobe (jackets and shoes are overrated)
-child’s library

This is not even to mention that the front seat of this car is my P.S.D.U (personal starbucks disposal unit), mobile office, and mini emergency first aid center (conveniently located in front of the passenger seat, commonly known as a glove box.) I seriously couldn’t bring myself to show you that hot mess.

The intensity of this mess might be because I am feeling seriously stressed right now between the upcoming move… which keeps getting delayed due to seller needing time to fix things (ugh), our recent miscarriage, working part time, working here on illistyle (which is the least stressful and most fun of this list), and preparing to leave for 4 days to go to SNAP! Confrence (which might tie for most fun.) But I am feeling a bit stretched and in need of sanity and short-cuts.  So crockpot dinners are regular around here. So is this:

Quick Car Cleaning Essentials - illistyle.com

This is my quick car cleaning essentials kit.  Glass wipes, baby wipes, and the BLACK+DECKER Pivot Vac. This is the best handheld vacuum I have used.  It is super powerful, and the head pivots so it can get into tight spaces. PLUS – all the filter and catch cup components are washable! A mother’s dream.

Here’s what I do to get the interior of my car in acceptable shape in the time it takes to pump gas:

1. Gather all trash into a grocery bag (or two… I keep extras in my glove box) and toss it out

2. Use Glass wipes to remove the gooey finger prints from the windows of the back seat

3. Use baby wipes to remove the dried juice spills from the inside of the backdoors, the plastic of the car seat, your kid’s face, maybe your face, – I have been there, I am not judging.*

4. Use the BLACK+DECKER Pivot Vac to get the cereal, discarded stickers, and general debris that gravitates around young children from your floorboards, child’s carseat, and let’s be honest: your seat too.

5. Dump that debris right into the gas station trash can.

6. When you get home, put the vacuum back on the charger and then it’s ready when you need it for whatever else life throws at you :)

That’s it. So easy. Here’s how the vacuum works, in case you are skeptical:

BLACK+DECKER Pivot Vac preformance - illistyle.com

The vac picked up a small beach worth of sand from my floor boards.  Check out what it got from the front seat area alone:

BLACK+DECKER Pivot Vac review - ilistyle.com

BLACK+DECKER handheld Pivot Vac - illistyle.com

That’s like 1/2 cup of Dirty McDirtness that was just hanging out and getting kicked up whenever I got in/out of my car or opened the windows, or shifted my feet… and a Kix. Apparently it found it’s way from the back seat to the front. Whatever.

BLACK+DECKER handheld Pivot Vac review and giveaway - illistyle.com

I am loving the time this is saving me, not to mention my sanity. You guys know how I am in my home, things are clean. Now my car can be clean too without me having to go to the Car Wash and pay big $$$ or dragging out the Dyson.  Ain’t nobody got time for dat.

Want to stop cleaning and start living?  You can win a BLACK+DECKER Pivot Vac too! Enter via the rafflecopter below for your chance to win. Open to US and Canada only.  04/23/14-05/07/14. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 creative lifestyle blogger southern caifornia - illistyle.com

This post and giveaway were generously sponsored by BLACK+DECKER, opinions are strictly my own.

*Some people might be concerned using baby wipes on their vehicle’s interior.  Personally, I am ok with it.  There are wipes designed specifically for car interiors, but as a mom, baby wipes work just fine for me.

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Embroidery Hoop Light Fixture   New Living Room Mood Board   Call for Contributors

Neutral Kid’s Bath Step Stool

Thank you to FolkArt and Ed Roth’s Stencil1 for sponsoring this post

Neutral Kids Step Stool in Greige and glitter crown stencil - illistyle.com

I have been wanting to repaint my little three-legged step stool ever since we moved in January. (Here’s the first paint job I gave it last year in this post)

eyelet lace design painted step stool - illistyle.com

The pastels and eyelet lace design I hand inked last year was cute in our sage green bathroom in our last rental (see photos here) but it was NOT working in my new white and neutral bath.

neutral bathroom panoramic - illistyle.com

Plus, the pastel colors showed all of Ava’s dirty little feet marks and toe prints. Which are precious but make for more cleaning for mama… and let’s be honest, I do not love having to wipe down the step stool every single day. I knew I wanted a fun greige like my favorite nail polish, Essie Chinchilly:
Essie-Chinchilly

image source

 But I could not find the color I wanted. So I decided to create a custom greige color from these FolkArt shades:

How to custom blend greige paint - illistyle.com

Equal parts Parchment, Caffee Latte, and Medium Gray worked for me.  You may need to adjust your proportions to get the shade you love, but it is there, in all it’s warm greyness, just waiting for you.  And these paints work on more than just wood… glass, metal, indoor, outdoor.  My greige is super versatile. That’s why I saved it in a cupcake baking liner cup for future use (if you follow me on instagram then you saw that photo already.)

To redo my stool, first I lightly sanded with 180 grit paper and wiped with a damp cloth to remove the dust. Then did two coats of the custom greige.  Here’s a progress shot as I apply the second coat. Check out the greigy goodness of the previously pastel stool:

Greige and glitter step stool - illistyle.com

Since this is “Ava’s stool” I knew I needed to bring a little of her personality into it…  thats is where Ed Roth’s Stencil1 crown stencil comes in. It is so very regal.

Ed RothStencil1 reusable crown stencil - illistyle.com

Unlike some other stencils I have used in the past, these are durable, reusable mylar that don’t deteriorate.  They are very is easy to clean too.  After this project was complete Ava decided that she needed to use this stencil for a crayon master piece.  The crayon wax wiped away with some hot water and a rag.  Which is great because I really like this design and could see myself using again, specifically for Ava’s room.

Greige and glitter crown step stool - illistyle.com

I decided to give the stencil the royal treatment with some FolkArt Extreme  Glitter in Champagne.  Can we just talk about how my 4 year old and I both LOVE glitter.  I think it’s something I will never outgrown.  My love may wax and wane, but it never dies completely. Look how enamored she is in the above photo. Love her.

Neutral Kids Bath Step Stool - illistyle.com

 

 

Neutral Kid's Bath Step Stool - illistyle.com

 

These stencils are great to work with, and are available at JoAnn’s Fabric & Craft Stores.

creative lifestyle blogger southern caifornia - illistyle.com

This post was sponsored by Plaid FolkArt and Ed Roth Stencil1. All opinions are 100% my own.

Plaid : Blog // How to repair a leaking car or SUV sunroof at home for under $5 - illistyle.com   DIY Spring English Garden Wreath - illistyle.com   Roatan Rum Punch - illistyle.com

How to Fix a Leaking Sun Roof   English Garden Wreath   Roatan Rum Punch

How to fix a leaky sunroof

How to fix a leaking sunroof inexpensively - illistyle.com

I have had two Toyota 4Runners in my life. I have had the same issue with both: a leaky sunroof. Here’s the part that causes trouble:

How to fix a Sunroof Leak issue on Toyota 4Runner - illistyle.com

 

Here’s a view from directly beneath the open sunroof, as you can see, there is just a straight up hole in my sunroof… lame.

Sunroof rubber seal seperation issue and how to fix it - illistyle.com

Over time, expose to the elements causes the seam of the sunroof seal to separate and causes a leak whenever it rains, or I drive through the car wash, or my child gets cray with the garden hose. The first time it happened I took it to the dealership. They handed me a $600 estimate for repairs. Apparently, Toyota doesn’t make a replacement seal, they have to replace the entire piece of glass which already has the seal attached – it’s a packaged deal. But since I knew I could fix t for under $5 (thats a savings of over 80%!) I said no thanks. So this method is doubly tried and true because it lasted 5 years on my first car, and now has lasted over a month on this car and I am not anticipating any issues.

Here’s how you fix it:

Loctite silicon caulking for home repair of a leaking sunroof - illistyle.com

Yep, silicone caulking.  I like to use clear. And “aquarium safe” – cuz if it is good enough to withstand the water pressure of a fish tank then some rain should not be a problem.

I also suggest you have a paper towel handy.

How to repair a leaking car or SUV sunroof at home - illistyle.com

 

How to repair a leaking car or SUV sunroof at home for under $5 - illistyle.com

I like to squeeze the caulking into the seam, and then smooth with my finger.  I then use the paper towel to clean my finger and touch up the seam if needed.  I suggest you also do the top of the sunroof seam (on top of the car) for added protection.  It is best to follow the package directions regarding drying time, but to be honest, this time I did not… and took the car out in the rain only 1 hour later.  Still, all is good and there are no more leaks.

Have you ever done your own car repairs? Any tricks for us?

creative lifestyle blogger southern caifornia - illistyle.com

(I am not an auto mechanic, nor do I guarantee this method will work for everyone and every vehicle, but I have tested this method twice and have had great success)

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English Garden Wreath  How to Fix a Broken Book Spine   Free Animal Mask Templates