Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hall Makeover: The Beginning

I came up with a hair-brained scheme for an improvement to the hall right inside the garage door of our house. There is a coat closet right there for jackets, shoes, etc.; but with toddlers and backpacks and church bags, a rack of hooks seemed like a good option to get everyone (yes, even me) to put their stuff away upon coming inside. Besides, the little boys are too short to hang up their own coats. But according to my plan the hooks are actually the last thing to go up.

Look at me getting ahead of myself. Here is a concept drawing for my plan. (Okay, "concept drawing" might be a bit of a stretch.)

Phase 1: Paint trellis
Phase 2: Paint white below trellis
Phase 3: Paint gray above trellis (and the adjoining wall to the left)
Phase 4: Install chair rail
Phase 5: Make and hang hook rack

Last night I finished phase 1. It took a week of painting (stretched over a month), but I finally finished it.

Remind me to show you what brushes I used to paint it sometime. (Hint: they were tiny.)

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Dose of Awesome-Sauce

This is me and my little sister Melissa, the art student. (In case you are wondering, this photo was taken during a break at her bridal's photo shoot.)

Anyway, she is an amazing artist. She drew this lion for my son last Christmas. Isn't it amazing! I'm hoping she can draw one for each of my kids over the years.

(click to enlarge)
This piece is very appropriate for Eric. He had a very rough two-month early start in this life. But he fought his way through it and is doing so great now. He has the heart of a lion. Through that experience, I found that I have one too.

In addition to sharing sheer awesomeness, I also wanted to point out that family photos and pieces crafted by your own two hands or by someone who loves you make the best wall decor ever.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Oh, Snap!

Do you ever shrug and put your name on a wait list just for kicks but don't really expect your name to ever float to the top? Yeah, well it happened to me.

A few months ago I was thinking about how I miss attending conferences like I did in college, such as Small Sat. (Hi, my name is Heather and I'm a nerd.) Anyway, small satellite design isn't really a part of my life anymore, so I was checking around to see if there was a DIY home decorator's conference. That search landed me at this post on The House of Smiths where I was introduced to SNAP! Conference.

From their website
Welcome to SNAP, where you’ll find creativity at your fingertips.
There is something a bit different about being a creative blogger…Instead of dissecting life and examining the pieces like many online writers, we’re busy dreaming, sharing and building things up.
We inspire one another and when we connect in ways that comfort and sustain, it is something truly extraordinary.
That is why we launched SNAP – a community where imaginative bloggers can come together; learn from one another and walk away invigorated.
The hallmark of this community? A three-day conference April 18-20, 2013 in Salt Lake City, Utah, targeting the best bloggers representing modern handmade, contemporary craft, mind-blowing events and DIY.
Take a step away from your busy life and join us for lots of laughter, hugging and replenishment. You’ll walk away with a stronger sense of community, enhanced skills and an even greater sense of self.
Let's see...
Home decorating? Check.
DIY? Check.
Blogging? Check.
Entertaining? Check.
Close enough to home to travel? Check.

It was completely sold out, of course, but I figured what the heck? Might as well put my name on the wait list. I didn't expect anything to come of it. How very wrong I was.

Two weeks ago I received an email informing me that I had a slot if I wanted it and to act quickly before this opportunity became a fading memory. After reading the email, I fretted and bit my lip for a while. Money... travel... two little boys... Aaahh!

Fortunately that's about when my amazing, incredible husband stepped in. He quietly told me to go for it and not expect anything else for my birthday next year. I reminded him of how unworthy (and lucky) I am of having a spouse like him.

Long story short? I have my ticket and will be attending SNAP! 2013 next spring. I hope I can make some friends to hang out with while I'm there since, as it stands, I won't know a soul when I show up. Here's to life's little adventures!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hit the Bench

I've thought for a while now that a bench at the foot of my bed would be a great touch for that side of the room. I couldn't get anything I wanted (like this one) for less than $200 (which, I will admit, really isn't that bad), so I decided to go ahead and make one.

I've never made a piece of furniture before, but why would that stop me? (Cause me pause? Sure. Stop me? Never!) It really wasn't that bad.

Materials List:

Tools List:
Here is my pile of supplies in the "workshop" on Saturday morning. (Yes, it's in the unfinished basement.)

Here is that same pile after I cut what I thought was all of the pieces I would need--four 12" legs, two long side pieces and two short side pieces. Then I changed the design for structural reasons and cut two more short side pieces for a total of four, and a cross brace to go in the middle. The legs were the only things I measured. Everything else I held up to the piece of plywood and marked where it needed to be cut to fit.

 I spent the next hour or two drilling pocket-holes using my new jig. Seriously, I love this little jig. The pocket holes look awesome and don't leave any exterior screw or nail holes to deal with!

For more info on using this little jig, just search for the name. Basically, you use a clamp to hold the jig in place then drill away. The instructions that came with the kit explained everything really well, I thought. (Note to self: scan instructions so that you don't lose them.)

This is what the frame looked like all assembled. Thanks, Dear, for helping with this part.

I think it turned out pretty well. Don't those pocket-holes look great?

On Monday I hauled the frame out to the garage and applied three thin coats of satin espresso Minwax PolyShades. The back of the can says to wait six hours and sand with fine grit steel wool between coats. I went with an insider tip and applied each coat before the last one dried all the way. I waited about 1-2 hours between coats. No sanding required and I got it all done in half a day. Win-win.

While the last coat of stain was drying, I started on the upholstered top. I cut my 2' wide piece of foam at 16" intervals using an electric knife--the tool of choice for cutting foam (I keep one in my craft supplies just for this purpose)--for two 2'x16" rectangles. You see where I'm going with this since the plywood is 16"x4', right?

After cutting, I paused to wonder how I should glue the foam down to the wood. I wasn't a big fan of not gluing it and hoping it wouldn't shift. I decided to try good 'ol Elmers white school glue. When that didn't seem to be working, I got online and found that a lot of people were recommending using liquid nails. I don't happen to have any, so I thought "Great. Now I have to make another trip to the hardware store. Oh, joy." (In case you didn't catch it, that was sarcasm right there.) However, I came back after doing my research/being distracted by kids/talking to the Mr., and discovered that the white glue had worked! It just needed that hour to set. Woo-hoo! Elmers white school glue wins again! It's amazing to me how often that happens.

Flash forward to Tuesday. Tuesday was upholstery day. :D I covered the foam/plywood structure with quilt batting and stapled it down, trying to leave enough room for the frame so I would be trying to screw through staples later.

 This is how I folded the corners. There are YouTube videos out there that show how to round the corners, if you prefer that look. I also trimmed the excess batting.

Here I set the top on the frame to see how it was shaping up. Lookin' pretty good!

After prewashing the corduroy to help get the wrinkles out since one can't iron this stuff (not to mention that prewashing fabric is a good idea anyway), I spread it over the top on the frame, wrong side up, and pinned the corners, like so. I really wanted that professional, tailored look, so I sewed the corners of the fabric cover.

The tops of the corners were sticking out funny, so I grabbed by nearest favorite cylinder (my pencil can) and marked rounded corner stitch lines.

It's hard to see in this photo, but this is what the final corners look like. They lay much better.

Here's a fit test to make sure everything is looking good before I go on to the next step.

It passed the fit test, so I turned it right-side-out...

 ..flipped it upside-down and started stapling.

A few notes on stapling: pull the fabric as snug as you can, make sure the excess fabric on the corners is not bunching up (I pulled mine toward the center of the short ends), give each staple a few whacks with a hammer to make sure that aren't sticking out at all. And don't skimp on the staples!

Trim the excess fabric, screw the top on the frame, and voilà! One custom 16"x48"x18 3/4" bench. Not too shabby.

One day I plan to add silver-toned nail head trim to the lower edge of the cushion, but part of me is secretly hoping that if I wait long enough someone will start selling rhinestone nail head trim. Hee-hee!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Making the Living Room More Liveable

Remember the living room? Yeah, it's a work in progress... and we made some progress!

  1. Re-stuffed the back cushions on the sectional
  2. Replaced the rug
  3. Purchased a credenza
The back cushions on the sectional were looking so sad and lumpy that I was making plans to replace the cushions or the sectional. But I decided to check the blog-sphere for a way to fix them. Apparently, all they needed was a little restuffing.

I found a 10lb. bag of fiberfill at Walmart on the sewing aisle for $25. (Who knew they sold that?!) Thirty minutes of adding fiberfill to the nasty factory stuffing breathed fresh life into the cushions. It was like having a new sectional! (Sorry, I don't have a before picture for comparison. It was too depressing.)

Next, the 5'x7' rug of yesteryear was replaced by this super comfy shaggy number from Costco. Twice as big and oh so fluffy. Seriously, we love this rug! I know I don't need to say any of this. The before and after pictures above state my case for me.

Last, we present the credenza. The way too small TV stand and old TV finally got the boot.

cre·den·za  /krəˈdenzə/
Noun: A sideboard or cupboard
No, the credenza does not house a new TV. Instead it fills a much-needed game/puzzle storage need. And the lower cabinet spaces are a great place for storing throw blankets for cold winter nights we get in Colorado.

And there you have it. I still want to redo the throw pillows on the sectional (and build a mantle/surround for the fireplace), but those are projects for another day. For the moment I am satisfied with the vast improvements we've made.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mini Bins

I'm on an organizing rampage this week. I do not enjoy cleaning my house because of all of the clutter. Ugh! It drives me nuts.

I was reading about starting with organizing, not cleaning. I have a tendency to shove stuff out of the way (a closet, drawer, box, etc.) just so that I can do the actual cleaning. This week I decided to ignore the scrubbing part and just focus on making a place for everything and putting everything in its place.

On Saturday I started with my closet and bathroom. I didn't finish anything, but made some good progress. Also, in an effort to create a place for everything, I made some little organizing bins for my once-a-month products. They turned out so cute!

Here is the cabinet in the water closet where I keep all of that stuff.

And here are the new bins. Didn't they turn out well?

I started with some small, empty boxes that were literally lying around. I taped all of the edges with packing tape, and cut open the tops (formerly the fronts).

Then I covered them in fabric. The finishing touch was adding the large eyelets to the fronts. I tell you, hardware to a project is frosting to a cupcake. It's just not quite finished without it.

See how nicely the boxes fit in the cabinet? It's fate, I tell you. These bins were meant to be!

They're beautiful, solve a storage/organizing problem, and didn't cost me a cent! One can't ask for more than that.

Now if I can come up with cute storage for the products that go on the lower shelf, I can take the paper out of the door. One victory at a time. :)

Friday, February 17, 2012

On the Hook

I need to finish the projects I already have going. Not dream and start planning starting new ones like imitating this entry way by Jenna Sue.

Jenna Sue: Foyer Board & Batten Reveal

Wouldn't something like that look great in my downstairs hall, though? This piece of wall is across from the garage door and coat closet. It would be great to have hooks there for purses, kids' coats, etc.

But I keep reminding myself that if I did put hooks on this wall, other stuff that I wish were hidden in the closet would probably start making an appearance. Oh, the burdens of living with three boys!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Hey Cupcake!

Sunday night I saw the cutest little craft! To get the full details, check out the tutorial here.

Cupcake Take Along
I thought it was absolutely darling and decided to make one myself. I sat down for a few hours yesterday and created a suite of Silhouette cut files for each of the pieces. You can kind of see the cut pieces in this picture of what my table looked like last night. Did it feel a little tedious to create all of those files? Yes, but now that it's done I can make as many as I want in barely any time at all!

My Craft Table Last Night
I got most of it put together last night, but I'm still missing a few pieces. I ordered the tubes for the sprinkles (see the link above if you don't know what I'm talking about) and they should arrive tomorrow. I'm hoping to get it finished and share more details then. In the mean time, I have some dressies to sew before Thursday! Eek!

In Progress
PS. I am so grateful that I happened to have all of these papers and ribbons on hand. All I bought was the cake mix, icing, and the embellishment to the left of "Hey CUPCAKE!" Now I just need the tubes to arrive, and to track down some sugar hearts. That shouldn't be too hard this time of year. :)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Heart Felt Felt Hearts

When I was little, my mom made felt heart pouches for our Valentine candy. Every Valentine's Day we would pick our favorite heart and she would fill them with our goodies. We are all old enough now that the tradition has died out (as far as I know).

Since I'm going to be away from my kids on Valentine's Day this year (Darin and I are going to Cali. So excited!), I decided to continue the tradition for them so that they will know they are loved even if we are apart. (Not that I expect them to get it since they are still toddlers.)

These are really simple. You don't have to sew them by hand, I just chose to since I wanted the stitching to be noticeable. Feel free to sew a pouch up on your machine, or just glue one together.

I started with two 6"x7" hearts. I embellished the front of one heart, and cut a slit in the back of the other heart. I reinforced the opening with a blanket stitch to help keep it from getting stretched out. Then I blanket stitched the front and back pieces together. Easy-peasy.

Here is the end result.

Decorated Fronts
Back with Slit Opening
Candy-filled Back
Candy-filled Front
I made both of these last night in a few hours. Despite the simplicity, I think they turned out cute. It also brings a warm, fuzzy feeling to my heart to see a tradition carried on. Happy Valentine's!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Projects in the Works (That I May/May Not Be Working On)

Hi, I'm Heather and I'm a project hopper. I always have four projects going on at once. I get bored with one, start the next, have an idea for another one that I immediately start (sometimes finish), then decide it is high time to get crackin' on that project I last worked on six months ago. It's a disease, and I don't like to post about projects that are not completed, unless they are really big, multi-step projects.

So here is a look at what's on my figurative work table right now.

From left to right, top to bottom, I'm currently working (or not working) on what I'm calling a "map mirror", a ruffle pendant for my massage therapist, a growth chart for the boys, decals for my washer/dryer, dressies for my soon-to-be niece (due date is coming up!), and painting the water closet in the master bathroom.

Not to mention I also have plans brewing in the back of my mind for a ribbon wall organizer for this ever growing mess. (I know, not a ton of ribbon, but my collection is still growing!)

And I have intentions of doing something really cute with tea-stained sheet music soon. (Photo courtesy of The Decorating Diaries.)

The Decorating Diaries
Too many ideas and too little time. Hopefully I'll get something finished (and my cold will go away) soon so that I can share!

Anyone else out there need to join Project Hoppers Anonymous? Or have a better name for the support group?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Just the Way You Are

If you haven't heard of them yet, there is a group called The Piano Guys, and I'm a fan. This is a little bio from their YouTube page:
Our vision is to create music and videos that inspire people. We want to take that music to the world and make a difference. We have something different to offer from any other YouTube channel. We like to put a new spin on classic stuff and a classic spin on new stuff. Whatever we do, we put our heart and souls into every note and frame.
Okay, now that you've been introduced, watch this video of their cover of Bruno Mars' Just the Way You Are.

I love a good piano piece. *sigh* But that isn't even the best part. Did you see those centerpieces!?!

As evidenced by this post, I have a thing for those bare branches with crystals and candles.

One of these days I am probably going to break down and make one for myself. I'm thinking it will go on top of my dresser or bookcase. We'll see. I'd actually have to make it first! In the mean time, feel free to check out more of The Piano Guys videos and music on their YouTube channel. Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Feather Pendant: Over-priced and Easy (Most Likely) to DIY

I'm sorry, but why on earth would someone pay $2,295.00 for this light fixture? I haven't tried it, but I bet I could make the shade for less than $100.

The base is only chicken wire.

And cording was attached on the top.

My supplies list would look like this:
  • Old, ugly, bare chandelier
  • Spray paint
  • Washer-top lamp ring
  • Plain bottom lamp ring
  • Chicken wire
  • Feather boas
  • Small rope cording
  • Large rope cording
  • Fine gauge wire (for assembly)
  • Hot glue and gun

As I said, I haven't done it, and I just barely found this light fixture here, but I imagine that assembly would go like this:
  1. Clean and spray paint old, ugly chandelier. Let dry.
  2. Cut chicken wire to fit around the lamp rings, and produce the desired height. (Washer-top ring is the top.)
  3. Build frame by wiring chicken wire to lamp rings.
  4. Attach feather boas to frame with wire.
  5. Hot glue rope cording around the top edge.
  6. Fit washer-top ring around your freshly painted chandelier.
  7. Install in ceiling.
So, really, why oh why would anyone pay $23k when they could make it for a fraction of that cost? Does anyone have any thought on improvements/problems with my DIY plan?