Friday, July 31, 2009

Inventive Pot Rack

Check out this project from the pages of This Old House--unless you have old copper pipes lying around, it's expensive but quick and beautiful! You can click on this picture to see the full instructions. I think a smaller version would make a cute towel rack in the bathroom.

Just a dreaming kind of day.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Filing system makeover

I hate to replace a better built, more stylish piece with one that is simply functional, but that's what I decided I had to do with our filing cabinet. I brought a beautiful vintage reproduction cabinet from Pottery Barn (a gift from my parents years ago) to our marriage and for the last 3 years, we have been stuffing 2 people's health insurance records, auto maintenance, taxes, and all sorts of paper that may or may not be important to save into 1 drawer. Add to that a husband working on his Ph.D. in Hispanic Studies and you have a lot of files that need go somewhere. To my husband's credit, he started organizing his own files in a plastic file box--but I just can't stand it. Who likes a plastic box sitting out (besides a one year old who loves to try to open it every morning). So, goodbye Pottery Barn, hello Habitat for Humanity Re-store! I found this filing shelf system for $15 and look! it holds the entire contents of that plastic box plus more:
It just needed a top to hold our desk lamp and a wire basket we keep due bills and supplies like stamps in, so I bought a piece of hardy board for $5 and had it cut to fit right on top of these posts (my mom's brilliant idea).
Then I covered it with some gorgeous fabric I bought 4 yards of (a cheap remnant--I took the whole thing without a plan for what I would use it for). I used a staple gun and just wrapped the sides like you would a present.

Finally, I used industrial strength velcro to keep the board in place and secure from little monkeys learning to walk. I love the results! I added a storage box for more office supplies on the bottom shelf and secured the top from that same crawling monkey with some more of that industrial velcro (come to think of it--this may be my new way to baby proof). It's very easy to lift the top to access files and the whole thing is on wheels. I'm debating whether I will make a front panel of fabric with ties to close the whole thing in--I do still have yards of fabric, but my husband is starting to wonder if I'm going to make cozies to cover everything in our house. There is actually one more cozy in our future--stay tuned.

What I love most about this new shelf top is how nice my Father's Day gift to my husband looks displayed on top. I found this little vintage sugar bowl (very cheap--without a top) in Midway, Ky and I filled it with vintage ceramic letters M, A, I, and F for Matt and Ari's initials (they share the same middle and last names). I think it's so sweet.

If you've dressed up an office space recently--let us know what you did!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Not feeling too crafty

I started out with such high hopes yesterday. I had plans to make a dozen Kusudama flowers and I started by cutting 60 3-inch squares of beautiful handmade paper. By step number 3, I realized that handmade paper, while beautiful, would just not work--it's too thin and doesn't hold a crease. Scrap the I have 60 squares of expensive paper to figure out what to do with.

I did make it to the sewing store to get large grommets for a toy storage bag I have in mind for the car (stay tuned), but I just never got to it. The day was saved when a package arrived from my mom filled with these colorful and happy vinyl letters. My son's room has been looking a little bare since we child-proofed it and moved the crib upstairs. These letters certainly brightened things up and only took about 10 minutes to place. They come off pretty easily and each comes with 2 full sets so I was able to spell out Ari's name over his dresser/changing table. It may not be too crafty of me, but it was all I could handle yesterday and the results worked wonders for my mood.

Not feeling too crafty yourself these days? Don't want to commit to a painting project? Check out all of the vinyl designs on Etsy like:

I love all of these designs. Notice I included a branch with flowers since I failed to make my own yesterday. I also love these paper planes. You might not know that Kandyce's kids are professional paper airplane makers. Wouldn't this be so cute flying up the walls of a kid's room? You can go to these Etsy shops by clicking on the pictures.
Happy browsing...and don't worry if you just don't have it in you some days.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Outside In

So here is my favorite project. It is a branch suspended over our dinning room table.
The lighting in this room isn't the greatest, so I apologize for the fuzzy pics. It went up for Easter and is never coming down again. For Easter dinner we hung plastic eggs from satin ribbons in addition to the silk Ranunculus and the bird's nest. The eggs are gone, but the flowers and nest remain. Eventually (and by eventually I mean when my husband does what I have asked him to!!!) it will be a chandelier with suspended lights. But until then it is just fun. Today the kids and I are going to make these Kusudama Flowers to replace the silk ones.

I love the way these look. They will be the perfect addition to our branch.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Back again, again

Once again, I have been MIA but, I have a good excuse...
You'd think by #8 I'd have a system or something, but I feel like a newbie after the arrival of each one. He is pretty great though and I feel awesome. In fact so awesome that yesterday I did this...

That is the wall of wood (Lulu wanted to be in the picture and how could I refuse). I have collected driftwood and treasures of the like for as long as I can remember. It must be hereditary because the kids have picked up on this as well. Since we have lived in this house, this wall has been a sore spot; very large, very blank, very boring. So many times I have done things that may fill the space and look OK but, don't really represent who we are. I think the wall of wood is the perfect solution. It feels right. Not only are we represented in our sensibility but, the kids can tell you when and where they found nearly every piece. I love it. It is our personal museum.

We used to live on ten acres in a log home in Wisconsin. That house was me. I struggle with finding ways of making this house in the suburbs of Denver a reflection of who I am. The wall of wood works. Tomorrow, I will post another project that has had the same effect. Bye for now.


The easiest craft for charity ever.

Just a quick note this morning to tell you about a very easy and inexpensive craft project for cancer research I learned about when I opened my email today. I subscribe to a newsletter called Care2 make a difference that has useful articles on health, green living, and DIY projects. The article that caught my eye today is about a wedding shop in Toronto, Canada that is raising money for cancer research by donating 50 cents for every origami crane they receive. What's really fun about this project is that the shop is building a chandelier from all of the cranes--they're aiming for 10,000!

OK, I just summed up the whole article, but you should go here anyway to see the original for some historical background on the paper crane and for a video tutorial.

If you make a crane--share it with us! You can now add photos to your comment. If you have trouble, just let us know and we'll help.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New Window Curtain

My mom and dad are wonderful grandparents. I love to watch them interact with Ari when they come to visit from Seattle. But you know what I love just as much? How much time I have to finish projects when the grandparents are here. When my mom visits, she somehow feeds Ari, gives him his bath, plays and sings with him, puts him to bed, and still manages to work in my garden and clean my kitchen. Oh, and bake a pie or two. With everything taken care of, I always get some gardening and sewing practice in as well. My dad was here last week and he did a great job helping to clean the kitchen (why is the kitchen always in need of cleaning?) and run after Ari while I completed this new kitchen window treatment I've been wanting to do for a year. A year!

I wish I could call this the $3 curtain, but really the curtain rods make this more like a $30 project. The vintage white linen with simple blue embroidery did cost only $3 in a little shop in Midway, KY (My new obsession--good thing it's a half hour away). All I did was fold it in half and then sew a seam across about 2 inches down to allow for the tension rod. I chose a fancier metal rod with decorative circular ends that cost about $15, but there's really no reason why I didn't use a cheaper rod since you don't even see it. I actually think the embroidered dishtowel looked great alone, but I had a vision that included black gingham and I had to see it through.

I already had the bracket curtain rod and liner fabric and I found the yard of cotton gingham for about $5 at Hancock Fabrics during their half off sale, so I didn't spend too much more money. I basically sewed the good sides of the liner and fabric together, leaving enough space for the rod pocket and to turn the fabric right side out. After turning it, I folded in each side of each rod pocket to essentially hem them. Then I sewed a seam 1-inch down form the top to create a ruffle and then about 3-inches down to create the rod pocket. Almost done. I finished by sewing a seam right across the bottom to keep the liner from sagging.

This was a very easy project that has made my kitchen feel nice and cozy. I've told you in the past that I'm a beginner sewer. This project came together pretty easily and made me realize that I've been trying to learn how to sew on a little bit more difficult fabrics like upholstery weight and some of the vintage fabrics that tended to pucker. The cotton just flew through the machine and I was surprised at how straight my lines were. (OK, I also was not totally exhausted after a long day and drinking a beer at the time since it was only about 1:00 in the afternoon.)

You might have noticed that I took a close up shot of the window. When I'm done with a chalkboard project to the left of that window, I'll take a wider angel shot. But that will also mean putting away dishes and cleaning up...I hope a grandparent is coming again soon!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

More Recycling in the Garden

Remember my recycled shade garden project involving picking up a sink pedestal from a neighbor's curb? I love my new plant stand, but I admit it didn't take much skill. My aunt and uncle's garden fountain is a whole other level of recycling in the garden. I took the picture above while visiting them recently in Stuarts Draft, VA. The fountain is made from their old sink faucet and I love it! My son loved it too--he tried his hardest to get his hands in that water. My uncle distracted him by putting him on his tractor.

While these pictures just can't capture the beauty of this landscape, my aunt and uncle's garden really inspired me and I hope it inspires you too. I'm learning to not let anything go to waste. Just like kitchen scraps in a compost pile, ordinary household items can find new life in creative outdoor gardens:

This mulch bin is made from my aunt and uncle's old deck.

These solar panels heat the shed (and my uncle's tractor). You can use old windows to make solar panels and even cold frames for your garden beds.

You can use recycled wood and other materials to make fun bird houses and raised beds. Just make sure you use untreated wood protected with coats of linseed oil.

Happy garden recycling! I'll be back soon to show you some ideas for recycled
garden furniture and whimsy.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sort of Marbled Paper

I love browsing through past posts on other creative mamas' blogs. You never know what you're going to find. Recently, I found this fun and inexpensive art project over at Sweet Sweet Life that's perfect for kids and moms alike. Even though the directions are very easy and I could outline them here, I highly recommend checking out Sweet Sweet Life's original post on making Marbled Paper-- you'll smile at this mama's way of describing the process and love the finished paper her girls made. Really Beautiful!

I usually categorize projects in terms of my son's sleep time: I did this project in one short nap (I didn't want to upset my little guy who would have wanted to press his hands into the shaving cream and then lick them). I knew from the start that the "gel food coloring" I bought was not ideal because it just kind of glopped instead of swirled. I never understand why we need to improve on certain products--what's wrong with good old fashioned food coloring? Why gel? When you have a sleeping baby and limited time, you just don't spend too much time caring about these things. Let the food coloring glop, I say! Let's just see what we get.

This is what I got:
What to do with card stock smeared with shaving cream food coloring? Make thank you cards of course! I just used a paper cutter to cut each sheet in half lengthwise and then in half again. Then I used photo mounting squares to affix each one to blank note cards--the kind you buy inexpensively in a big pack. You could take an extra minute to fold your own card stock like my mom would using this handy little tool or this handy, slightly bigger one.

Between having a baby, cancer, and all of the regular gift-giving holidays, we've written a lot of thank you cards this year. I've been feeling a little burned out on the while process and I admit it's tempting to just send off a quick email. Making these cards was fun, even if they didn't quite turn out to look like marbled paper, and I'm enjoying writing personalized notes to my friends and family again.

As a side note, I've since found this company that makes all natural food colorings I'm really excited about using them for baking and my next attempt at marbling paper. There are no synthetic dyes--plus, the colors are far prettier!

If you have ideas for making your own cards or stationary, let us know!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Baby Solo is Here!

Welcome sweet boy.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Simple Baby Hat

We're still waiting for Baby Solo, so I occupied myself this morning by making this simple baby hat. My wonderful husband took the baby for a walk while I ran to the fabric store and picked up this soft flannel. I intended to use the pattern from Gifts for Baby (the book I talked about in the last post), but who has time to make a special trip to enlarge a pattern at Kinkos? Anyway, I always put the original in the wrong place when I have to enlarge something and I ended up spending an annoying amount of money on wasted paper. So I just dug out one of Ari's old hats, undid the knot and traced it, careful to allow for the seam. I admit that my hem was a little messy, so I folded it under and hemmed it again instead of having a brim. I don't think Solo will mind.

Don't forget that the Craft Hope project this time is baby hats, booties, and blankets for India. We have until July 25th.
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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Baby On The Way!

I was all set to tell you about another gardening project involving re-purposed materials (more on that next week) when the other half of this blog called to tell me her water broke! Kandyce is in labor with baby Solomon Glenn and her seven other helpers are packing her essentials as we speak. I'm a little worried about what will actually make it with her to her birth. When my husband and I visited the Nelson family two summers ago, we found all kinds of little treasures hidden in our suitcases when we got home. I never did give Ben his old watch back, come to think of it.

It is very difficult to be so far away when my best friend is about to give birth, and I hate to say this is the norm. I've only made it to one of her children's births, her very first baby who is now a lovely young woman. I can't just sit here, I need something to do, something to make for this new little boy.

So, I'm turning to the book my mom left with me recently entitled simply, Gifts For Baby. I love the simplicity of these projects and the fact that I can realistically start and finish a gift over two nap times. Some of my favorites are the crib mobiles made from felt, the terry hooded bath towel, and the painted baby blocks. I'm pretty sure I'm going to make the bunny teething ring made from a wooden curtain ring and an easy to stitch felt bunny pattern. One note about this book: You won't be in awe at the originality of these projects necessarily; it's more like you'll be reminded of those times you've picked up a $15 wooden hanger with ducks painted on it at Pottery Barn Kids and thought to yourself, "I could make this myself!" before reshelving it. This book might just inspire you to go ahead and make it yourself.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Puffy Paint Reinvented

Since my comment about Kandyce's addiction to puffy pain way back when in my post over the weekend, I've been thinking about this strange little crafting product. Isn't it funny when
you start seeing something you've had on your mind everywhere? While linking from one crafty mama's blog to the next (see some new additions in our list to the right), I came across a recipe for making homemade puffy paint! What fun. If Kandyce has time to whip up a batch before her next little bundle of joy comes, I'm sure her creative kids would make some fun art with this stuff.

(Warning to seven of my favorite kids seen here being crafty and inventive:
Just don't let your mom get her hands on it!)