Category Archives: Projects
It’s official wedding season! DIY wedding prep has taken over our house. Armed with three seasons of The Good Wife on Amazon Prime, I started to tinker with some design elements for the wedding the last few weeks.
Watercolor Hearts & Scallops
I was inspired by a lot of beautiful watercolor invitations lately so I took out my paints and started doodling.
First I played with a heart design. It’s such a classic wedding theme it hurts.
I tried a loose heart scribble and eventually pare it down to more of a herringbone heart pattern.
Next I played with some other simple shapes like this scallop pattern across the page in a coral orange.
After I was done, I scanned my patterns and manipulated them in Photoshop so I could use them on invitations and other digital work.
I’ve been also working on a monogram that features an “A” for Andrea and “N” for Nate. I sketched out the general shape and then played around with widths and angles until I got it just right.
Then I made a couple handmade stamps of the design. I’ve always wanted to make my own stamps and thought the monogram was the perfect design to try out. Because I am an art supply hoarder, I already had a bunch of stamp making supplies (linoleum cutter & carving block) on hand.
I traced my monogram on a piece of tracing paper then flipped it over so I could make a stamp that printed correctly.
Then, I filled in the backwards design with pencil and pressed it down onto the carving block.
With the pencil mark on the block, I used my lino tools to carve out the design.
I also made a negative stamp of the monogram by adding a circle around it. I used an IKEA water glass as my circle shape.
Then cut out the monogram.
Here are the final two stamps.
You can see on my stamp that the inner triangle of the “A” is a little wonky. It’s hard to get the cutting tools to cut 45 degree angles. And that’s okay with me. I really prefer the handmade look.
What’s coming up next
Here are some of the projects that I will be sharing here on the blog in the next few weeks.
- Wedding website
- Ceremony Decor
- Seating Chart
- Place cards
- Reception Decor
- Thank you gifts
And don’t worry I will still be blogging about the house and cats as well, just not any big projects until after the wedding.
Many weeks ago I picked up this dated plastic clock at a thrift shop. It was $0.99 and I thought it had nice lines and the face swiveled so I brought it home.
For some reason, this little clock reminded me of the appliances in the The Brave Little Toaster. I was lucky enough to have a little sister who loved watching this movie over and over so I know it quite well. For those not familiar with the animated film, it’s a story about forgotten appliances left in a family’s summer home that take an incredible journey to be reconnected with their young master. Oh, and the appliances sing. The premise is a little bizarre, but somehow the movie works. Trust me kids love it.
To me, the movie had a very strong message about using the things we have (or are used) instead of constantly upgrading to the newest version. And in the case of this thrift store clock, I was reminded how many cool items are out there for the taking. So long-story-short, I was really excited to do a little makeover on this clock and bring him into our concrete family.
For the makeover, I contemplated painting him all white, but in the end I decided to give him a pop of yellow instead. The back of clock was missing so I decided I’d make a back for it. The clock was pretty loud without one. So first, I did my best to tape up both the front and back up to protect the clock.
Then I sprayed about five, thin coats of yellow paint until the whole clock was covered.
I stashed the clock in our unfinished bathroom for about a week to dry completely. Then I removed all the tape to see what I wanted to do next.
Once I saw how bright the yellow was against the black clock face, I decided to soften the look with a thick, white line. I picked up a white chisel paint pen at the craft store and then slowly traced around the clock face with it.
This technique isn’t perfect, but after a couple of applications I got a nice opaque line. There was an inconsistent gap between the plastic clock face and the frame so I used some white puff paint I had to fill it in like caulking. I softly smoothed it over with my finger.
Then, I left all the paint to dry overnight before I did something to screw it up.
Next, I worked on attaching a piece of blue ribbon to the back of the clock. This would become the pull to remove the cork backing once it was installed. I glued the ribbon to the clock back with a little super glue and cut it down to size so only a short tab shows when the back was inserted.
I liked the idea of using cork with the yellow/white/black color scheme for a more modern look. I cut out a piece of cork for the clock to sit on with my trusty X-acto knife.
Then measured and cut a circle of cork to fit in the back of the clock. Cutting cork is a big pain because it crumbles. I found using a sharp knife after lightly steaming the cork worked the best for me.
With all the glue dry, I began putting the clock back together by screwing the clock back into the frame.
Then adding a battery and inserting the cork backing into place.
And there you have it, a simple upgrade to a black alarm clock. The photo shows a summary of what I did on the front of the clock…
and here what I did to the back.
Overall, I am really happy with the makeover. The clock now has a cheery persona. The cork accents make it current and modern while the yellow/white/black color scheme keeps it classic. I’ve put it in my office for the time being. It looks great with all the black and white accents in there.
I should also mention that this project took weeks to complete. A lot of it was drying time, but I also spent a lot of time playing with the white paint to get it right.
With this clock finally completed, I am excited to find my next “brave little toaster” project to work on. You never know when inspiration may strike.
Project Materials List & Budget
- Clock ($0.99)
- Rust-oleum Ultra Cover Sun Yellow Spray Paint (I had it)
- White Chisel Tip Paint Pen ($3.82)
- White Puff Paint (I had it)
- Cork Tiles ($1.99)
- X-acto Knife (I had it)
- Blue 1/2″ Ribbon ($2.00)
- Super Glue (I had it)
Total Spent- $11.79
I’m a little behind at posting. Nate and I both have been battling horrible head colds which means we’ve spent a lot of time on the couch watching House of Cards.
Last Monday, we both felt it was necessary to get the sickness out of our house so we deep cleaned. Perhaps a little much for two cold suffers to undertake, but we did it anyway.
First order of business was removing all the furniture in the great room. It was our first official sunny weekend so we took full advantage of putting all the furniture on the porch.
Nate subtly piled up all the clutter that I’ve been avoiding (holiday decor, goodwill items, glass jars) so I had to finally put it all away. Smart man as it forced me to take care of all of it before I could do anything else.
Then we swept up an embarrassing amount of dust bunnies and even an old Halloween candy wrapper off the floor.
With a much-needed mopping, the great room was ready to put back together.
But first, Nate tackled the windows and got rid of the grime and Pixel footprints so we could really enjoy the sunlight pouring in.
My plan was to clean and then do a little rug switcheroo. The sisal rug in the dining area moved to the back of the great room. Then Nate’s old office rug was moving into the dining area and our two faux Persians were both moving in front of the couch.
I deep cleaned our rugs with the help of my trusty SpotBot. I’ve had this little machine for over a year now and I still love it. This was my largest cleaning project to date with it. I cleaned all four rugs on 1/2 a bottle so the machine is pretty economical.
Of course the smaller machine meant adding cleaner and changing out the dirty water about five times per rug. So if that seems like a pain, you may prefer using a larger machine for a job like this.
Each rug took about a half hour to clean. The SpotBot vacuum does a good job removing most of the liquid so the rugs were dry to touch within 15 minutes.
We decided to double our two 5×7 rugs in front of the couch to define the space better. Plus more rug means less of the old linoleum which is an added bonus.
I like this bigger sized rug so much, that I am added this 8×10 Tuscan Terali Moroccan Trellis Rug to my wish list. I think a big shock of navy would look great in the room with the purple walls.
When the rugs were in, we set up rest of the furniture. I am so happy with the sisal rug in the back.
Here’s a close up of the sisal under the white table. I am now thinking I want to get some new dining chairs. The old country chairs are classic and all, but takes away from the modern vibe of my refinished table.
I love the look and durability of the Emeco Navy Chair, but don’t think I am shelling out $470 a chair anytime soon. So we will keep looking for a replacement on our budget.
Nate and I were both so happy to have the room clean I vowed to do a weekly floor cleaning to keep the look up. I have no idea how often you should deep clean rugs, but I think moving forward I am going to try to do it a couple of times a year. It’s inexpensive since we have the SpotBot and seeing the amount of gunk that was cleaned out of the rug, I think it is well worth the time and effort.
I’d love to hear from others about their rug cleaning habits. Do you deep clean your rugs or do feel vacuuming is enough?
Disclaimer: I bought the SpotBot with my own hard-earned money and have not been compensated for my opinion of it. This post includes an affiliate link to Amazon if you are interested in purchasing one for your very own.
One of my 2013 personal goals is to organize all my digital photos from 2005-2012 so I can 1) find photos when I need them and 2) enjoy them. (I don’t even what to think of all the printed photos and negatives I have to go through as well. That’s a project for an another year.)
I took a look at my external hard drive and I currently I have 228 GB of photos saved to it. I have no idea how many photos that is, but it’s a lot. I also have 11,477 photos uploaded to Flickr. I pay a small annual fee for a pro account that let’s me host an unlimited number of photos on the website. I find it is an easy way for me to share photos and I also host all my blog photos on it as well. Over the last seven years I have used Flickr, my habits and camera equipment have changed many times so there’s a good chance that some of the photos hosted on the site are not on my hard drive. So I’ll have to be careful not to remove any original photos when I work through everything.
I am slowly…working…through…all….the….photos….
It’s a tall task.
Here’s my plan.
- Standardize my file names
- Organize the files by year and month
- Upload and keep only the “best of” photos to Flickr
- Use the “best of” photos for each year’s photo book
Bleh, just writing out the process makes me tired. Oh well, it’s going to be awesome when it’s completed.
1) Standardize my file names
I have been using Adobe Bridge CS4 for a couple of years. It’s Adobe’s version of a file browser and comes when you purchase one of their product suites. I can download my photos from my SD card & phone through it, view thumbnails of all my photos and perform batch operations really easily using it.
I went through each folder of photos I had on my hard drive and renamed them based on their creation date using Adobe Bridge.
I gave my iPhone photos an extra prefix to distinguish them from my regular camera photos. Once all the files were renamed, I slowly deleted any duplicates from the drive.
2) Organize the files by year and month
Next I set up folders for each year I have digital photos.
If I click on the 2012 folder, I have my photos broken down by month. Edited photos are kept in a separate folder within each month’s folder so I know these are the photos I want to upload to Flickr each month.
3) Upload and keep only the “best of” photos to Flickr
Flickr has a great uploader tool you can download from their website. I upload my edited photos to it and then label them based on the project or event. I can also organize them into a set or tag the photos.
Once they are up on the site, I can share them with others or use them in a blog post.
4) Use the “best of” photos for each year’s photo book
Last month I worked on my 2012 photo book. I’ve never designed one of these before, but after looking at all my options I decided to use Shutterfly. I was pretty pleased with their website interface and they were running a 50% off promotion at the time so it seemed like a good deal. I went with a 12×12 book with white cover and spine with black lettering so that all the books will match and have a classic look no matter what company I use.
I laid out the pages in chronological order of the year. It’s pretty amazing to look back at your year through photos. I featured many pages of home projects and the cats of course.
There was also some amazing moments like our engagement. Amazingly, I only have the photo of my grandma’s ring from the evening, but plenty from the Color Run earlier that day.
I was pretty happy with the final product. I love having my photos displayed in a book. I think Shutterfly did a great job, but am going to try a few other company’s before I really decide what product I prefer.
This is going to be a long and laborious project, but I am excited to get my photos organized. I seem to take more every year with the convenience of my iPhone so it’s important to get in the habit of organizing them now or never!
Disclaimer – I am not affiliated with Adobe, Shutterfly or Flickr. I paid for all the products mentioned in this post with my own hard-earned money.
Since we are in a waiting pattern on the prison bath and roof, I’ve decided to tackle a bunch of small projects to keep me busy. (Idle hands and all….)
Small Project #1: Kitchen Update
My first project has been updating our most neglected but most used room, our kitchen. Eventually, we will be renovating the kitchen completely, so I wanted to update the room without spending a lot of money or major updates. In fact, this project reminds me a lot of my renting days, when I did as many “improvement projects” as I could without major upgrades.
I broke my goals out into five tasks so I could easily complete these over a couple of weekends.
- Update & touch-up the cabinets
- Paint the cabinet knobs
- Add a blackboard wall
- Deep clean the appliances
- Organize the cabinets
- Install a water filtration system
I was lucky, my first weekend on the job was the 3-day MLK holiday weekend. One extra day meant I could really dive into the project and check off a lot on my list.
Touch-up the cabinets
Painting the kitchen was the first project we did when we moved into the house. (You may recall the pink and mustard yellow color scheme it originally had.)
Three years later, the kitchen cabinets need some love. The paint is chipped and cracked, the painted knobs are worn and the room just needs a bunch of sprucing.
For the cabinets, I decided to do a little paint touch-up. I cleaned off all the grime, then lightly sanded and painted the worn areas with a 1″ acrylic paint brush. In some places I had to add a couple of light coats of paint to cover the cracks.
Once I was done, I left the cabinets open to let the paint dry and cure for two days.
Paint the cabinet knobs
The cabinet knobs also needed a make-over. I spray painted them a hammered silver when we first moved in. I have to admit at that point in my DIY career, I didn’t know how to prep metal for paint. Perhaps that is why the knobs were so chipped. This time around, I took time to clean them and deglosser them before I painted.
I wanted to add a little punch of color to the otherwise white kitchen. I perused my spray paint collection, got some feedback from Nate and decided on a sun yellow color. After three coats on each side, I let the knobs dry for two days before I screwed them back on.
Add a blackboard wall
Besides the touch-up work, I decided to add a blackboard wall to the entry way into the kitchen. It’s right next to our fridge and pantry, so a great place to write-up our weekly shopping list or anything else I need to remember.
I’ve never used blackboard paint before, so I followed the directions closely. After prepping the wall, I taped the sided and top and bottom so we would have a 1″ white frame on the left and right of the wall.
Then I painted three coats of paint with a foam brush four hours apart. (I should have used a foam roller for a smoother application, but I didn’t have one on me.) I started this project late in the evening so I just put on Nate’s head light so I could see what I was doing in this dark corner of the house!
Three days later, I covered the paint with a light coat of chalk to cure the chalkboard and it was ready to go. Of course the first writing on the wall about Pixel. I just can’t help myself.
After the painting was complete, here’s the finished cabinets and knobs. The yellow is a really great punch of color on the otherwise white room. (Please ignore the ugly countertop. It isn’t changing until the remodel.) I plan on adding a few more punches before I am done with this update.
And now our entry way into the kitchen has write-able real estate for lists (Crap, I got to run 5 miles today!), drawings and whatever else we fancy.
Next up, I’ll show you how I organized the cabinets and drawers.
As I mentioned yesterday, Nate and I had a very relaxing Winter Break. We didn’t touch the bathroom remodel at all. Instead we hung out with friends and family plus spent some quality time vegging out on the couch.
I also tried to stay off the internet and even did a five-day iPhone detox. (I know…crazy talk!) The experience was very encouraging. I’ll talk more about goals later this week, but for today here’s the best of our holiday break.
Most Talked About Decoration
I struggled this year with decorating around our missing ceiling in the Great Room. It’s cold and potentially wet so I was limited a little in what I could do. One of my biggest complaints with the arrangement (besides it being cold and potentially wet) is the room is much darker without the white ceiling.
I had a moment of inspiration and maybe pure lunacy, but I decided to string up white lights like my old, college days. I will say I think I did a much more interesting and neat job this time around. I mean I used actual hooks not just duct tape and push pins to hold up the lights.
The final effect gave the room a balanced, warm glow that Nate and I both decided was our favorite decoration this season. It gives the room that need light and some ambiance. I put all the lights on a remote clicker so with one touch I can turn them on and off. My mom introduced me to the wonder of a remote control system and it’s pretty rad.
I wanted to mention how awesome our Home Depot Noble Fir was as well. This tree may be the best of all time. It’s the right shape, straight and it’s still alive! I love it so much I haven’t taken it down yet, but I think that’s what I am doing tonight after dinner.
Best Re-positioned Decor
I bought these lighted paper trees at IKEA last year, but never found the right place to display them. I tinkered around this year and discovered the perfect spot on the top of our bookcase. I love the look and shadows it throws on our ceiling.
Ornament I am keeping out all year-long
I received this gigantic raccoon ornament Christmas morning from my very funny parents. You may recall we had a friendly visit from two adult raccoons earlier this month that scared the beejesus out of the whole household. This guy is certainly going to stay up year around now to remind us who may be close by.
New display I will repeat again and again
Wow – cards on the fridge! This is the simplest thing ever, but it’s such a fun way to display all our holiday cards. I think this will be a tradition for as long as we actually receive cards in the mail!
Not only is it colorful, but you can smile at all your friends and family every time you go looking for something to eat.
Favorite Holiday Craft Project
I loved my Halloween windows so much I decided to repeat the look with tissue snowflakes for Christmas. I’ve always used regular paper for snowflakes before, but I really like the transparency and delicacy of the tissue flakes.
To make them, I just cut three different circle sizes out of green and white tissue paper. Then I folded 3 or 4 sheets into a triangle and cut out shapes with a sharp pair of scissors. I attached the finished flakes with some removable double-sided tape.
Nate and I got our TV fix by streaming almost all five seasons of 30 Rock on Netflix. I know, that’s an enormous amount of television time, so I am glad we watched something intelligent and funny for hours on end. It takes a lot for me to snicker at a TV show, but this one got me going a few times.
Well played apps
And when we were not watching the tube, Nate and I played silly games on my iPad.
Nate’s game of choice was Bejeweled Blitz. I’m a brat and keep referring to it as bedazzled. I mean anything with shiny things lined up in rows reminds me of the 90′s craft obsession, but from the amount of time Nate spent playing I think the game is probably a lot more fun.
So there you have it, some of our memorable decor and activities over this lazy staycation. Did you have some time off as well? What did you do for the holidays?
We waited until Saturday, December 8th to get our Christmas tree. Every year its a little of a mental battle for me to decide when its the perfect time for the tree. Last year, we got ours the Saturday after Thanksgiving and it was dead by Christmas. Drat.
Nate claims we have never gone to Home Depot for a tree as a couple. I am not sure if I believe him. Regardless that’s where we found ourselves Saturday evening. We picked out a 6-7 foot Noble Fir. The nice guys in the tree area even helped us tie the tree to our car which was a first. I’d happily go back next year for that service.
Once we got home, I got the Christmas tunes going while we set up the tree. I have to say that I am really impressed with the quality of our Home Depot tree. It’s still drinking about a liter of water a day.
For lights, I go with white lights on the tree and multicolored on the house. I plan on switching them all out to more energy-efficient LEDs once my current strands break, but so far these strands haven’t had any issues and I have had them about four years.
With the lights up, I start decorating with my collection of vintage ornaments. I am very lucky to have inherited (hoarded) all my grandparent’s globe ornaments.
My favorites are these giant hot pink ornaments from the year my Grandma Estelle had a white flocked tree with only pink ornaments. Can you imagine? I have added to the globe collection anytime I come across them at thrift stores or estate sales. You can never have enough.
Once the globes go up, I add the special ornaments. Like a lot of families, I got a new ornament every Christmas of my childhood. Some are pretty unique like this mad hatter ornament.
I showed the ornaments we got from my parents last year, but they deserve another feature. We love Mexican Loki. It’s a spot-on representation of our weird orange cat. The Pixel ornament is nice and sassy, we just wish it was a little more burly. I mean, our girl cat is also a bad ass.
Finally, with the rest of the ornaments up, I dress the bottom third of the tree for the cats. They are the plastic and wooden kind that can take a beating. Here’s Loki hiding from his sister. I have found him under the tree every morning this week ready to play.
With the tree up, I have a few more decorations to finish up and I am ready for the season. Nate’s going to be very excited for me to move all the storage boxes out of the front room since they’ve been cluttering it all week. Fingers crossed I get it all done tonight before I leave for the midnight showing of The Hobbit.