A new quilt for a friend

I gave away one of my recent hand-made Christmas gifts, so now I can post about it- don't you feel lucky!

I have a friend who has been asking nearly every time I have seen her, "so When are you making me a quilt?" in a half joking manner. Deep down, I know she has wanted one for quite some time so I asked her what colors would look good in her home. She gave me a whole list and I selected yellow, plum and gray (she has a very modern looking style, so that color scheme works well). I also selected a fun, yet classic pattern to hopefully keep the quilt stylish longer. The fabric I used is kind of fun. The Plum were nearly solid color with light plum polka-dots. The yellow is nearly solid with swirls of white, the gray is gray with a white decorative print and the dark gray is actually black and yellow flowers.

I made a fairly small quilt- just 9 blocks, so definitely a throw size, but I took into consideration that my friend has a dog, so I made sure to select machine washable materials and backing. This quilt actually doesn't have any batting, I used only the top and a fleece backing so it is both soft and warm. In addition, I didn't do typical quilting either- it is just sewn on to the backing like you would do a tie quilt (but with thread and no bows) so that I wouldn't mess too much with the soft backing.

So there you have it. I've been a busy elf. (Don't you just love my little model? I know I do- such a big help!)



Just finished up my 6th annual Cookie Exchange. In my opinion it was a great success. I have a ton of delicious cookies from the 11 guests who attended, but I also made a lot of cookies this week.

This plate in the picture contains the cookies that were made at my house- it has spritz cookies, chocolate covered pretzels, cut-out cookies and Nighty-nights.

The cookies that were brought look amazing so I can't wait to try them all. We had some spirited discussion, great food and exquisite conversation/company.

This is the event I host each year that makes me feel like it's Christmas- so note to self- hold it earlier in the season next time so I can feel Christmas-y earlier :D


Preparing for winter

Can you say time to cash in on energy credits! So we have had some single pane large windows in our house-  huge picture window in front and a broken sliding door in back (it not only wasn't hung straight it didn't lock - so you can probably guess why I never mentioned it before). So Our house was freezing in these two areas in the winter. As I work from home that gets kind of...difficult because I want to be comfortable, but don't want the heat constantly running and these are the two rooms that are the most family friendly for working in. So we always had large, thick curtains on the front window to prevent drafts as well as the plastic on the window (which I'm sure my neighbors were thrilled about). But no more! My hubby and I decided we would give each other the gift of a happy furnace and warm rooms.
So the old windows and doors- (seen over on the side here) had to go. That bar in the upper left side of the patio door was pretty close to all that was keeping the thing shut. That white spot on the right side was tape covering a finger sized hole in the screen. The door opened on the right side and when it was fully closed you could still see a sliver of light between the door and the frame. Major obstacle here was that the door is actually ONE INCH smaller than standard patio doors...so yes. That meant custom door. Then there was the picture window. Single pane, multi-frame aluminum windows with no ventilation in the summer (they had caulked the portions that were supposed to open) and there were no storm windows with these things so it was freezing in the winter. (We had removed the curtains here so when the window people came we would be ready). Because of the size (over 6 sq ft glass space these would have to be replaced with tempered glass) and we didn't just want to replace these with a boring picture window. I wanted to be able to open them and such...
 At about 10:00am this December morning, this is what my house looked like. The window was gone. That made the house pretty chilly- even though it was unseasonably warm today. It got even colder when the patio door left. (see below) and we got a really good breeze going inside! My daughter surprisingly napped through a good portion of the removal, which was good as they had to break quite a bit of the old window to get it out so there were little glass shards around to be vacuumed and swept and wet swiffered up, but it came out remarkably easier than I would have hoped.

After they got it out, there was a bit of waiting because they needed more man strength to get my new window in and it seemed crazy seeing more and more trucks with guys showing up. They also seemed to be consulting about a few issues with the brackets they had- and after they had placed the window in the hole another man showed up with new brackets. Then the original two went to work on securing it and placing the patio door. Then there was a furry of nailing, screwing, cutting, insulating and such going on at both spots resulting in a pretty impressive amount of noise. (The cat was still hiding, but my daughter gave up on the nap attempt and came to see what was going on).

 By noon, this is what my house looked like inside. The patio door now opens from the left (which works much better) and it locks (which is much better too) AND it also seals (much, much better) so the dining room is warm. It looks pretty nice from inside. And this is what the living room looked like! It is a gorgeous, custom bow window with two double hung and three center picture windows. It also has a gorgeous oak window seat and casement - with lovely trim! This thing looks wonderful inside and makes the room look huge. We still need to finish the window seat as it is raw wood, so we will be tackling that soon enough as I don't want to risk having something happen to the wood in the meantime.
 And here is the door from the outside (hey this has a screen that not only doesn't have a hole with tape on it, but the screen locks too so I can have a breeze without potential bugs (also the door has a venting feature like double hung windows do so it will be really nice). I like custom doors I think. And here is the bow window from outside. (see my little girl enjoying the picture). It's gorgeous and it's high enough over the garden where I don't think I need to worry about insects/animals building a home under it (yes these are things I worry about).

I think we are all pretty pleased with the new warmth and windows too. She's already got her pillow and book ready for the seat. Good job little one!

The company did a fantastic job making our custom window and door. They are exactly what I wanted!


The holidays- formal dress conversion

I'm not a huge socialite- I know you are shocked (probably not, I mean how else could I get all this crafting done). But one of the things I look forward to every year is my friend's semi-formal Christmas Soiree. It's the chance to dress up, really fancy, that I enjoy to do every now and then. Well, way back when- I bought a dress that was a long chocolate colored formal with a top similar to the one over here to the right. (This is not the dress I bought- mine is full-length). The reason I'm showing you the top is this dress I had didn't fit anymore...just in the chest area (you see I have since had a kid/nursed a kid so the top was a bit...snug to the point of my not being able to zip it up. The bottom still fit wonderfully.

So out came the scissors and I converted the formal from a full length to a formal skirt. First, I tried it on and zipped it up to waist level and then pinned along my middle where I thought it should sit (I know this is very technical...you see the bottom of the dress has a train, so as long as I didn't go overboard with the cutting it wasn't super critical that the hem be even, because it didn't start off that way). Then I took it off, cut off the top and started to take apart the straps so I could use the sequins for a fancy waistband.

Then I hand-sewed the waistband to the bottom of the formal and trimmed the zipper. This is where I made an error. I had cut the zipper on one side at the correct length and then measured from the bottom of the pull to the top of the zipper, but on the other side of the zipper I measured from the bottom of the zipper, resulting in about 1/2 an inch difference in length on the zipper...probably should have just closed it and hoped that I didn't inadvertently zip the pull off the top, but this works fine because it is still covered by the waistband. So here is the finished skirt- ready to be taken out on the town.

Here's the front...I know my spanx will come in handy when wearing this and I'm going to have to figure out a shirt to wear with it... but you get the idea.  Here's the back. It has a button which holds up more train so it is really interesting and fun and flowy. Please note- I'm wearing high heels too, so the length is pretty near perfect. I do like the satin-y pink shirt with it, but what are your thoughts? What would this skirt look good with - perhaps a nice fancy sweater... I have until Saturday to figure it out.


Decorating for Christmas- the garland

Have you ever seen that really expensive garland that has the stuff already in it- you know: pinecones, various pine branches, leaves, berries, poinsettias, etc? I happen to love the stuff- it's so festive looking and requires very little work in the long run (I had been stringing ribbons, and ornaments through my garland to make it festive)

But I wasn't ready to fork over a ton for this pre-made garland. First I found one I really liked online that was on a super cyber monday sale and bought a few UNLIT sections of it so I could have some really nice stuff to mimic. I knew I could buy strings of LED lights cheaper than the lit versions cost and then they would last longer and take less energy anyway- also, I was going to replace some of my garland with the fancy stuff (it is thicker and the artificial parts are nicer than what I can find to spruce up mine) to make areas look better that would be the most noticed. I then went out and bought items that matched this fancy garland and fixed up all the rest of my garland to be a closer match to this fancy stuff. Let me tell you- the 40% off Michaels coupons and Hobby Lobby 50% off floral stems sales were really well timed for me. So now my halls are decked with garland and I am loving the simplicity of putting it up- it is lit now with LEDs, and that's all I need to do with it. Yay! (Also, if you're wondering both the garland you see in the pictures with the topiary trees and this one above are my garland I made...or are they :) )


Decorating for Christmas- the beaded topiary trees

You know why I love Christmas decorations so much? It because they are festive, brighten up a rather gloomy month of weather and allow you to hide all the dust that could be lingering around :)

I didn't always like Christmas- in fact, I rather disliked it as a child. I had a very large family (I have 9 siblings) so there wasn't room for Christmas decorations and everyone to sit in the living room, so the tree/decorations were very short lived. Also, as you can imagine, that number of children and the expectation for gift-giving was stressful for my parents as well as the requirements on the schedule at this time of year - school concerts, special church events, bake-sales. (Really, I kind of wish they did this stuff when the weather is more cooperative with traveling back and forth) and then - do you know how long it takes to get a kid in a coat! No wonder the holidays were just a time to get past! Regardless- I have some very fond memories from my youth of that time which I have carried forward as well as some others I picked up in my adult life. I loved going into town to look at all the Christmas decorations so being able to put them up in my house is particularly fun.

I've already talked about our new Christmas tree which resides in the basement now (the old one has even been claimed by a sibling to grace their house, so that's extra exciting- yay for being green!) leaving the upstairs a bit less decorated than normal. So I decided that I would do some craft projects to spice up my upstairs decorations as well as have something to post. This not being able to post gift projects is hampering my documentation in order of completion- let me tell you!

So I thought of something I have always liked...cone shaped topiary trees. I have seen them around, but they aren't cheap and rarely go with my Christmas decor...definitely a downside of the white, blue and silver, motif we have going here. So I decided I would try my hand at making my own...In addition, I thought this would be a great excuse to use some very nice silver I was given by my mother and grandma-in-law. (I'll explain, don't worry).

First the silver- I was given some silver platters and bowls by my mom and my grandma-in-law because I like to have parties (I've mentioned my potlucks before I'm sure) and they never used them. There are several lovely decorative trays and two bowls (all of which are the typical silver that require polishing). I am fine with using the trays for food as I can lay a sheet of parchment paper on the tray between the food and the tray with no one noticing, but the bowls- let's just say I'm not comfortable having food that close to silver polish- ever. These lovely bowls therefore have remained in my china cabinet, never being used, but look nice- which is fine. But here I can make something to use them! Joy!

First, I went out and bought all the supplies I wanted- two cones (varying heights), and tons of beads in silver, white and blue that are different colors and textures. I tried to buy everything on sale, but initially the grand total for the stuff was $49.45...far too much. So I hunted through three additional craft stores to find less expensive items to make this work (the first store only had the floral cones and I just needed plain Styrofoam (see) for this so that was a large expense). After buying all the beads, some white and silver glittery netting, and the two large foam cones, the total was $40. This is divided by two since there are two cones, so $20 each, plus time/driving, so these are not cheap items (especially since every single item I bought was on sale for 50% off). But they do look fantastic and match my decor, so I *guess* it is worth it (you can bet if I were to decide I was tired of these next year my husband would be less than pleased, but as he likes them too, it is worth it to him too).

First I took the cones above (these were 18" and 24" tall cones to accommodate the size of the silver bowls) and covered them with a glitter netting (white on one, silver on the other) which gave it a bit of depth, but still let the white from the cone show through (it goes with my color scheme so it didn't bother me, but you could paint them first with craft paint if you want). Then I used the beads with straight pins and the stems of beaded branches (on wires) and lots of hot gluing to secure the netting to the cones as well as decorate them. Please note- it is absolutely mandatory to use a cool temp hot glue gun for this project- a hot temp would melt the styrofoam as well as burn your fingers many, many times. I went with pearlized beads over the whole thing, but the taller tree has more silver, and the smaller has more white. The beads were randomly placed and I know there are over 1200 on these- so it took a long time. Also, it's rather hard to photograph these...you see they reflect light where if I used a flash you couldn't see the beads- but here they are with just the light from the window and the lights in the garland on them (I'll do a post about the garland later). I think this is a great use for heirloom silver bowls and makes a fun decoration overall!

Decorating for Christmas- the new tree

I'm a sucker for Christmas decorations, even though, I'm not really thrilled with the cost of most of them, however we decided to 'splurge' a bit this year and get a new Christmas tree. Our old one still works, however it is too tall for the basement room and we didn't feel comfortable setting up the tree upstairs with my daughter able to pull items off. I haven't quite mastered figuring out the going to the bathroom while the kid is playing and I certainly don't want a 7.5 foot tree toppling on her- nor all our fragile ornaments being broken.

First I guess I should explain about the ornaments- my husband and I collect ornaments. For every big trip/occasion we get a beautiful ornament to commemorate the memory so our Christmas tree is a bit of a time capsule. Pulling out all those funky ornaments and remembering what they were from is one of the experiences I look forward to the most. Our engagement- yup, ornament. Wedding- a given. My golden birthday trip to the Smokey Mountains- it's in there. Juliette's first birthday trip to see the "make way for ducklings" ducks- oh yes. Our first apartment, house, pet, our first pet's passing away- yes they are in there- even some heartbreaking ones. So I can't leave them off- it's what gives our tree character. Also, it's what keeps my house clean- as you know ornaments are small- so collecting them doesn't take up a lot of room and they only come out for 1 month so no dusting!

So it was time to get a new tree. We wanted something 6.5ft tall (so we could still do our star) and fairly realistic with the requirement of LED lights. Let me tell you- this was harder to find than I thought it would be! No local retailers carried a 6.5 ft LED tree. The 7 ft trees were REALLy expensive too, so we hit the online black Friday sales. I try so hard to avoid black Friday as it goes against all Christmas spirit in my opinion, but online wasn't so bad- I knew they wouldn't fill my order until Monday so no poor employees were being forced to work on my account. (I refuse to shop on Thanksgiving for the same reason and have decided that I will not frequent stores that felt the money was worth more than letting their employees have the holiday that focuses on family off- ok enough of that rant...). I found two very nice artificial tree sites and one of them had a really reasonable price on what I was looking for so we got it at TreeClassics.com. I must admit I was apprehensive - we bought a clearance tree and it still wasn't cheap. I was hoping for a really realistic looking tree as well for this reason as I don't intend to replace this tree for a very, very long time if ever. We got it and put it up -which was rather challenging (it actually is harder to put together than our old tree and I am not looking forward to trying to take it down for the same reason). The tree itself is nice and full and the branches definitely look more realistic than any other artificial tree I've seen- so I am pleased with it. In addition, all the trees on the site were nice because they resist the straight triangle look that some trees have (you know what I am talking about? Go to a store and look at the trees- how many have a branch that is longer above a branch that is shorter? I'm going to guess you won't find many, but real trees don't grow that way- they have some variety). It doesn't have as many lights on it as I would expect for a tree it's size and no lights are even partially inside the tree, so our long ornaments don't have the light on them at all (because they have to hang through branches. However it looks spectacular decorated (of our non-memory ornaments we have a winter theme so it is silver, white and blues instead of reds and greens of which we ended up going out and getting a bit more blue ornaments because this thing is significantly bigger than our last tree so they got a bit lost in there) and looks spectacular with a fire. I am pleased.
doesn't that just make you want to watch a Holiday movie? On to the next decorations...


Friend Thanksgiving- sorry for the delay

 Here I promised you could see what I did with the friend thanksgiving table, and then I withhold- so sorry! So here's the table- please note- I don't have overhead lights and with 16 people I was a bit concerned about having enough candles on the table to cover the "I want to see my food" urge that people get...crazy people. So my hubby solved the problem by hanging some LED twinkle icicle lights. Tada! This gave more of a blue glow than I was hoping, but it still worked. I did use a few lanterns on the table as well for some additional ambiance. (Please note- that burgundy wall will be replaced someday with a real wall- you see it's just the block painted- so I didn't do anything crazy to the walls here.

 Here is a view showing what our guests saw- ah the fun of it all.
Amazingly I have enough place setting and burgundy napkins for 16 so we had a pretty easy table setting.
See everyone having a lovely time :)

And just for good measure- here's a picture of my daughter looking far too grown-up. She is actually wearing items I wore as a kid, but she just looked too cute walking around for me not to post a picture of her happy little self as she got ready to enjoy her first thanksgiving meal (this is her second thanksgiving, but the first one where she got to enjoy the solid foods).

Now, to explain my absence- you see I just realized I have a lot of gifts I am working on and I have no idea which of my friends will read the blog and I certainly don't want to spoil any surprises, so I am hesitant to post gift pictures pre-Christmas. So I have decided to only post pictures of items that are not gifts or that I am sure the individual has no chance of seeing. I have something brewing and certainly want to show you my lovely tree, but I had to post about thanksgiving first. (By the way- it was a huge success again and no one left crying (not even the babies in attendance)!


A new picture take 3!

Because I'm crazy (as I know the question - 'Another new picture for that spot, but why?' is running through your head).

I couldn't leave well enough alone once again. I could have been perfectly content with the roses I had replaced the original (not bold enough painting) with, but it also occurred to me that I love photography that Elliot and I have taken. We had some stellar prints from my golden birthday trip (a hike in Tennessee's Smokey Mountain State Park). So I found my favorite (which Elliot informs me is his handiwork) and got a new frame so it would have some glass. So here it is. A lovely print of the picture (I had it printed on a metallic paper so the tree edges and the sun flair really glows) framed and finally some artwork big enough to catch the eye from across the room. Tada!

You may be wondering if the roses were then relegated to a back closet or something. No. I really do like them and decided it was time to place something more eye-catching at the bottom of the stairs- which gives the roses the much needed closer look they deserve to determine that the three roses are indeed hand-drawn and using different techniques as well. It's probably a more fitting place for that sort of picture anyway. So they have found a permanent spot (i think ;) ).

This evening I shall be cleaning and trying to figure out how to set the 'friend thanksgiving' table and all that good stuff so perhaps you will get to see what I come up with if it is picture worthy :) If not, you may still get to see. I'm slightly nervous you see because it is 16 people...and it will require some ingenuity to accommodate a group that size :) I mean it doesn't really matter all that much though- these are friends who will love whatever- but I still want it to look nice of course.

So next on the list I guess are the Christmas gifts I will be making for this year. I know I have to make one from my niece (as tradition requires) and then I may *try* to get a few items started for my friends and give them whatever portion is done by that point (and then take them back to finish). I've never given a non-completed gift, but there's a first for everything.


New painting to fill a space

So as you've seen we repainted the basement and it looks great- but that of course means I wanted to update pictures/artwork around the room to match the new lighter/brighter mood. I also felt it was time to remove what looked like a shrine to my wedding (I've been married 7.5 years and I don't need half my pictures on the walls to be wedding ones). The biggest culprit was based purely on size - I had a huge picture (that came free from my photographer when booking) that was an 11 x 17 (my photographer turned out to have no idea  how to take a picture of a large group, so the odd size is because at a standard size family members would be cropped out) and therefore was the largest piece of 'artwork' in my basement. (See it there on the far wall in the center?) This picture is impressive only because of the sheer volume of people - it's something like 27.

It was time to move on. We were married and felt it was time to have some artwork. As we are hosting a friend thanksgiving this weekend (a bunch of friends come over pot-luck style to have a traditional thanksgiving meal without the stress of family :) ) this is the second one we've hosted and I really wanted to have the basement ready for the event. We'll be having between 15-17 people over so the table will be set up down here. That meant I needed to do some painting to fill the space.

I decided to use the same frame (I have no additional money for this right now) so that meant it had to be on a normal sheet of paper because this is a floating frame. I was thinking something with blues and greens and grays to play off the room's colors and on a handmade paper that would have cool torn edges. But I was wrong (the paper is cool, but other than that I don't love this)! Here's what I painted. It's an abstract watercolor of some lily pad like items and reeds. There are a few problems with this- first is the colors. This just doesn't stand out...at all. It would have looked great... when the walls were burgundy (go figure). But just doesn't speak to me on the gray-blue walls. Second is the content - I painted this because it was all I could think of and I have no connection to lily pads/reeds I don't particularly like abstract art even. It doesn't mean anything to me so it just doesn't work. Third thing wrong is the size. It is far too small for the space. This spot needs BIG artwork. Perhaps a tryptic. It's not in the budget right now, so this will stay for a little while until I can figure out what to paint and afford the canvas, but I will post what I put in it's place soon (as I don't want my guests to feel I like this).

See- I even post about my failures :) Don't you feel special for having read it.

Update: I realized- Wait a tic...I was an ART MAJOR! Certainly I have some artwork laying around my house that might work to avoid people thinking I think this looks good. Turns out I was right! (there's a first time for everything :) ) So I dug through and found...three pictures two from 2000 and one from 1999 with the same subject matter and that with a bit of trimming made a pretty successful tryptic (but still in the small frame I own). 

The one on the left is cross-hatching, the one in the center is the 1999 one - colored pencil I believe (with a blue and pink background), and the right is stippling. Not too bad. Probably will still replace it later, but definitely like this a heck of a lot more! It  also has the benefit of being able to be seen from across the room. Definitely an improvement.


Project of the week: Repaint the basement

 I have a very dark basement, or at least I did prior to this week. The first picture is of my staircase the second is of the rest of the living room area (even with the flash it is pretty dark) and we wanted to brighten it up because the basement isn't very welcoming and doesn't really go with our style, but we have avoided painting it because, well frankly, it's burgundy (and who wants to try to paint that). Well, we decided to give it a shot because we are pretty tired of the darkness.

We decided to try the Behr Premium Plus Ultra paint, which has the primer in the paint and let me tell you- this stuff works! (makes me wish I had selected this type of paint for the kitchen too!) It is more expensive, but if you want to save time and effort- it's perfect. We did one coat over this very dark color and we were done! This room is pretty big to start off with, so we decided we would probably need two gallons to finish the drywall portions of the room. We also decided to do a two tone wall to give the room some additional interest. We selected Polar Drift for the upper wall and duct work and Blue Willow (which was a special request paint in Ultra because it isn't a standard color for that line) for the bottom of the wall. We ended up needing a third gallon to finish (as there is another set of walls just as big as this area that you cannot see in the pictures. I think it turned out really nice and much brighter. (No camera flash required). Yay!

The biggest issue with the two tone wall idea (especially if you don't have a chair rail like this room) is to make sure you get a REALLY straight line for that color split. To do this get an accurate level (my first attempt with a tiny little level definitely left something to be desired) and a pencil and draw a line all the way around. Don't measure from the floor as it is more than likely not even anyway. Once you draw that first line, paint the top color on the wall so that the edge on the bottom goes over that line. Then after it has completely dried, you will draw the line with the pencil and level again and using painters tape (I highly recommend Frog tape) carefully make a straight strip go above the line leaving the area you will be painting below. Then paint down starting on top of the tape to prevent any bleeds of the darker color from under the tape to above the line you drew. It's not perfect, but it looks pretty close even from within a foot, so I'm pleased with the result.

 I think the room looks much more inviting, especially with the new entertainment center/fireplace we installed because I am forevermore chilly- (see that picture of me sitting on the couch (writing this post) I am wearing sweatpants, sweatshirt and slippers with a thick lining). Our basement is always cold and winter is not my friend and it hasn't even gotten into full swing yet! I have always wanted a fireplace, but it's definitely out of the budget range to put in a real one, I also am not a fan of the look of the little (anti-tip, auto-shut-off) spaceheaters we had been using to get the basement a bit more comfortable in the middle of winter (there is only one central heating vent in the entire basement, and one cold air return, so whenever it fits into the budget you better bet I'll be adding some additional vents! In the meantime, we got this lovely little fireplace/media center from electricfireplacesdirect.com/ and I couldn't be more pleased. This room is huge and this little thing actually puts out enough heat to make it quite comfortable and the flames look realistic enough (it is LED lights- so it is fairly energy efficient too) to pass for the attractive aspect that fireplaces possess. Only downside is, of course, that in the event of a power outage, this fireplace won't work, but since it's from a place called electric fireplace direct - I obviously expected that. It really does add a nice focal point and as an added bonus hides the rather unattractive mass of cables that ran down the wall from the TV to the components. So there you have it! A much more cheerful and bright basement with a bit of ambience to boot.


Goal of the Day: Wall sign

I really do love doing projects. My husband informs me I don't know how to relax (and I'm pretty sure he's right...sort of, I don't know how to do nothing, but luckily I find all my craft projects incredibly relaxing) you'd think I would have an enormous amount of crafty items around my house, but surprisingly I don't keep many of them. Most head out to others as gifts (which is great because I don't have the room, or the money to provide store-bought gifts at most occasions- so it's a win-win for me).

So in a secretive plot we shall call...operation incredibly thoughtful gift I wish I had thought of...my older and wiser sister (who coincidentally reads this blog every now and then... hi!) decided she wanted to surprise my parents (who are currently without internet access- so I'm not spoiling it) with a beautiful photo wall with the words from their song in a sign. She had looked at several sources for window-cling like signs and other items, but I had offered to make it as we wanted it to be exactly the words to the song- Anne Murray's Could I have this Dance. We had also discussed colors and what my sister was hoping for. Here's the process I went through and the finished project (did this in about 2 hours total).
First, I bought a sign appropriate stretched canvas (24 x 8) and broke out the rubber cement. I drew with the rubber cement a few dandelion-like poofs to make it kind of fun. Once that dried I painted the entire canvas with a coat of plain water and used water color paints to wash the background in blues, greens and burgundy (though mostly the blues and greens as I thought they looked the best).  When that dried, I rubbed off the rubber cement which left the white poofs on the colorful background.

Next, using the magic of photoshop I selected a font (Edwardian Script always looks nice if you want a fancy sign) and scaled the words to the size I wanted them to be on the sign (yay using that Graphic Design degree away from work too). Then I printed it out, taped together the sheets to cover the area that would be the sign. This is the fun part and the secret part to get a really nice clean looking sign- using a piece of carbon paper (ironically I had been given a piece with a cashier's check the day before) I traced the majority of the type onto the canvas and then free-hand the rest that didn't show up so I would have nice straight lines. It's a bit tricky to see on there...so hopefully you get the idea.
Next I got out my deep brown acrylic paint (I want this to be permanent after all) and filled in the lines (I'm a lefty so I started at the right of the sign and worked my way to the left to be sure I didn't smudge any of the text as I went along- also a little trick I've learned from experience).
Once that was dry I took a picture and Voila! A lovely sign that could pass as store bought, but is much nicer because it can EXACTLY match your decor.

Goal of the Day: The yard sign!

  So, what's more fun than doing a projects for your own house? Doing them for someone else's! So, my parents have had a sign that has been in their front yard for years. It was a metal sign that had a bird bath and several birds perched on it and it had definitely seen some better days. I took it from their house back at Easter (I know that was a heck of a long time ago) and have spent some time here and there sanding off the rust, and fixing the metal to be one whole sign again and then I hit a wall. I didn't have any paints that worked on metal (and I knew I don't do many metal projects so...I wanted something that would work on other items too). Remember when I got really excited about the Martha Stewart new craft paints - this was why. So after the structural integrity of the sign was restored I primed it with the metal primer in the above mentioned Martha Stewart line. It went on nicely (a lot like Gesso (or a really thick acrylic if you haven't used Gesso), but did a great job covering all the metal work and sanding and previous paint to make a completely white 'canvas' to work on (see above picture). Then I set about painting the sign to be a fun little colorful display. (I wanted to add some little elements that would be entertaining for the grandkids (so I put in some fish (which I know would never survive in a bird bath without a water source...but hey, it looks cute), a snail, a monarch butterfly (mom's favorite) and a lady bug) then I did birds that are local to their house (and are colorful so that it would be entertaining to look at too). Check out the finished sign.

Cute right :)

To make it a bit more weather resistant I then sprayed it with two coats of the satin finish enamel spay (also from the Martha Stewart line. I really found the paint to work well, however a word of caution- because this paint works on all surfaces it is particularly unforgiving if you get it on anything. Turns out I had some wet paint on my hand when I sat on the couch and hit one of my new pillows. I got most of it out before it dried, but because it works on fabric...once it's dry. You've got a new color. Definitely put down the newspaper and wear painting togs with this stuff!


The extra long craft project- refinishing the cabinet and some applesauce too

I hope you didn't think I was gone again. Oh no, I've been busily doing the most recent project at my house, but wanted to save all info until I was done. I think I had mentioned sometime about how I work from home and watch my daughter full-time. I have been doing this since about 2 weeks after her birth (the working...the watching started pretty much immediately after) and it makes for a busy, yet fun day now that she is 14 months old! (Where did that time go!) It really is a win-win situation for me, but the one downside (or at least the one I notice) is I rarely leave the house/yard during the week. So, I have been in the same house and practically the same 4 rooms for 14 months. This has gotten a bit old and I got stir-crazy as my 30th birthday approached at the end of September.
Well, to deal with the crazies, I determined to update my house a bit. The big piece which I was really nervous about was this larger than life china cabinet.
[backstory: I liked the overall look of this cabinet at an estate sale across the street from my house 5 years ago and had commented to my husband on it was a nice piece -not intending to purchase it because of the price and the lack of need, so you can imagine my surprise when later than evening someone from the sale knocked on my door and asked if I would take it so they wouldn't have to haul it and offered it for the wonderful price of free! (can't beat that!) So, I gained a very functional piece of furniture. However, it was pretty beat up and not quite my favorite style, but it was free, so how could I complain.] Well, I had been reading one of my favorite blogs centsationalgirl and basically everything she does is inspiring so check her out (...as soon as you finish here of course :) ) so it got me thinking, why not update this piece of furniture to be more fun and fix all those dings, scratches and wear to make this less, just there and more me. So I finally got up the courage.
First I removed all the hardware that was removable (that was pretty much the hinges and I was able to remove the glass and copper lattice work from the doors (not a fan of lattice work personally), so that made painting a lot easier. The handles and other details on the drawers were attached very well and I don't hate them so I got out my handy artist brushes to get around those. Next was the fun part...removing the railing!
before railing....without railing, but with arch....without railing and arch!

This was done using a fun the Dremel Multimax tool. This took me about 2 minutes to take off the whole railing and spot sand the area below to make sure it was flush with the bottom. (If you don't own dremel tools I highly recommend all of them- I got the original dremel for a birthday present and this one last year when I needed to remove grout from the floor when we replaced a few tiles and it has saved me hours of work already). After that, I had decided I wanted to remove the arch at the top of the railing because I wanted to put the small stereo up there that used to be on the cabinet I just painted black. That took a bit more effort...there were screws to remove and then it had tongue and groove work, but I was able to break it and get it out. I then filled those holes with a portion of the tongue (after removing the small nails which were causing trouble) and some wood putty. I then drilled three holes in the back for cords to go through. 1 in the back of the top shelf, one in the back of the bottom shelf and one down by the buffet area for cords should I want to put fondue sets or a lamp or something to prevent having to drill later (I made all holes in hidden spots so they aren't really noticeable as well).
boiled down apples
a few jars of the good stuff.
Next we primed...this was hard to do because we were pretty certain once we did it we couldn't go back. I actually did the painting right there in the sitting room while my daughter napped or was in bed for the night so we wouldn't have to try to carry this beast, but that made the project go slowly because we had to paint for an hour and then let it dry enough so she wouldn't get covered in paint when she was up (at least on the bottom portion (she can't reach the top)). And of course, all paint and primer had to dry enough for the next coat to go on well.
So while I waited, I made applesauce from a recent trip to an orchard. I had 1 peck of apples consisting (mostly Jonathons, empires and galas), which I peeled, cut up and cooked down with cinnamon and (shhh my secret ingredient) nutmeg with no added sugar, then I mashed with a potato masher and called it done. They made 6.5 pints of applesauce, so I got it into jars and put it in the freezer for safekeeping. Delicious!
Well, back to the cabinet I guess ;) I did only one coat of paint because I had had the store do tinted primer for me (this prevented bright white primer from showing through in spots that appeared more rustic), but I determined I loved the way it looked after just that first coat. So it went from plain brown to a fun green (remember my front door color...Mother Nature...well I used it here too because it matches the room).
So now I have a lovely cabinet...or at least one I can love for another 14 months or so!


September has been a whirlwind- Project 4- The record player

 So, my husband and I are old souls. We've known this for, well for as long as we've known each other I guess. We have a 1957 ranch for a house complete with a 50s reminiscent kitchen (in black and white check) with a payphone. We both own vintage clothing (as does our daughter (it's sweet to have hand me downs from when you were a baby to dress your little one in). And we enjoy the warmth and popping of records on a record player. Yes, I am talking those vinyl things you see at thrift stores for a dime. Because of this, we obviously had to have a record player to listen to these things on, and as luck would have it, Elliot's parents had a broken one in their basement. So after Elliot showed his skills at fixing record players and getting this one to work (and hooked up to our very modern entertainment center, I started wishing I had said no.  Definitely not because I disliked the sound, but the fake wood tackiness was starting to bother me (as if the cords coming from the TV weren't enough). Almost immediately I began asking Elliot if I could build it a box, repaint the wood, etc until I wore him down. He finally agreed to let it happen. Then all I needed to do was find the right paint.
I decided to go with a craft paint because I didn't feel sanding this down and refinishing it would be possible without tearing up the corners so I used the brand new  Martha Stewart Craft Paint, which if you are wondering is AMAZING! Check out my finished record player. Way classier and much more in line with the more modern fixtures.

Also, just for fun, I took one of Elliot's records that was damaged beyond use to make a clock for the entertainment room. I need to fix the colors (never been a fan of gold) and maybe repaint the label I think (red just doesn't go with anything in that room), but it definitely is a cool clock!

Well, that was a nice little session of blogging and remarkably I am all caught up! Guess I need to go do some crafting so I can post more :)

Update: The new record clock with white hands and a different record (with more coordinating colors for the room). I also replaced the gold numbers with white paint dots as well. (I used the Martha Stewart Craft paint for both the record and the hands painting as it works on all surfaces...so it works great!) Much happier with it.