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Friday, December 18, 2015

My Little Christmas

Well, I must say the past two weeks have been sprinkled with challenges instead of glitter. Physical issues, emotional hurts, car issues, phone issues...(long drawn out sigh).  BUT!!  I refuse to allow these to dampen my Christmas merriment.

I was going to post some detailed DIYs for some of my creative outlet creations, BUT, do to tech support help with a hard reset on my phone, I lost all my "during" photos. Yep, even with being helped, step by step, my phone deleted all photos from 2015 and ALL of my text messages. See? I told you there have been issues.

So, instead, I'm going to do a quick post with photos. For some of the projects, I'll give simple instructions.

This is my little front porch all decked out for Christmas. I wanted to keep all of my decs sparkly, neutral and simple. Most of these were items that I already had. A simple tree, old sled with live greens and monogram arrangement are the large pieces for this vignette. The owl wreath and pail are the little highlights and the chevron rug anchors it all.

This is a close up of the pail. I had the galvanized bucket as well as mirrored ornaments and the matte silver ones. For the snowballs, I covered styrofoam balls (which I already had) with Snowtex paint (which I already had.) It makes for a little bit of chilly atmosphere, even though we haven't had a day below 50 degrees.

 The arrangement on the sled was made from cuttings from our boxwood bushes, the Christmas tree and the white pines from the back yard. The "B" and the ribbon were from a previous year's  decor. the jute ornament I made with an old ornament, some white glue and jute string. Remove the ornament top. Starting at the top, smear about 1/2 an inch of glue around the top toward the bottom of the ornament. Lay the jute on in a spiral down the sides of the ornament. Once dry, replace the top. Voila' a rustic chich "new" ornament.

The owl wreath was one of my favorite creations this year. I purchased the owl and the ribbon. Everything else was created from my stash - the greenery, the sparkling buds. The pine cones camer from the back yard.  Every hard core crafter has a stash, right?

I made the rustic paper ornaments from styrofoam balls (from my stash) and old book pages. I cut the pages into squares that were approximately 2 inches in diameter. I didn't measure, just folded and cut. I then took the dull end of a skewer, placed it into the center of the square and loosely folded the square up around the skewer. Placing a dot of hot glue on the paper at the skewer end, I placed each square on the ornament. I know it sounds boring, like watching paint dry, but the fulness of the squares hides a lot of area. These really were quick and they look really Pottery Barn-esque. Once the glue was dry, I spritzed each ball with watered down brown craft paint.

For the dining table, I wanted to keep it a little rustic, but still sparkly and light. I did purchase some items for this arrangement. The chalkboard runner was a lucky find at a Tuesday Morning -  one of my favorite home dec stores. You never know what you're going to find!  I also purchased the clear dinner plates. I already had the silver chargers, the tray, the candle votives, the vase and ornaments.

For the chargers and plates, I found some cheap chalboard wrapping paper at our local Target. Since the plates were clear, I traced aroun the bottom center edge of the plate, cut the circle from the wrapping paper and simply placed the paper under the dinner plate. 

Another project in the dining room is the buffet. The compote was left over from a previous display. The beaded runner was a new purchase. To craft the "JOY" centerpiece, I purchsed two dutout letters from Michaels, as well as the three inch grapevine wreath. To create the "JOY,"  I spraypainted the letters with a dull silver spraypaint. After this was dry, I sprayed again, this time with Krylon Lookinglass Paint. While this was still wet, I dabbed at it with a plastic bag. This gave the letters some texture as well as a zinc or galvanized look. I hot glued the wreath between the letters, and placed the bottle brush trees and deer in the middle of the "O".  The snow is acutally nothing more than epsom salts. It sparkles like ice.

The mantel is up next. Wow! I've been busy. Thank goodness I've been working at it slowly.  Again, I wanted it to be sparkly and light.  LIghts, viler, and white. I'll let it speak for itself.

I have decided that the pine cones blend in with the stone a little too much. So, I put them in some diluted bleach last night. Have you ever seen bleached pine cones? Gorgeous!! We'll see what they look like later today. I can't wait. Maybe I'll put an updated pic in once they dry.

So, that's it! It looks like a lot, but Christmas and decorating are two of my favorite things! That sounds like a song,,,,

Anyway, thanks for following along and for understanding the technology fail and other challenges. I hope I inspired you to use what you have, with very few purchased new items. It's amazing what a little time, creativity, and ingenuity can do! 

If you're struggling through this season with emotional, physical or financial struggles, I hope that you can focus on the little bits of good that WILL appear. Look for them. Be intentional about seeing them and recognizing them. They really are everywhere. Ask for them. He's more than willing to give good gifts. 

Hoping that you have an enchanting, full-of-delight Christmas. May it be filled with comfort, peace, kindness and beauty. 

Until next time,

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Mister, Mister

Hello, y'all. Yes, it's true the South is creeping into my vocabulary. And despite living here for almost two years, I'm still being told that I am the one with the accent. Funny! I guess the Buckeye takes a while to melt away.

Well, the major house renos will shortly come to an end. Kids and hubs are going to school and working. So, I'm finding myself with more time to be creative in some not-so-labor-intensive ways.

I dove back in  - or at least dipped my toes in the water - with some smaller projects. You might have seen a couple of them on past blog posts, such as the typewriter earrings and my Home with You wall art .

Well, last week, I actually lugged a hoarded  stored piece from the garage to the basement.  This piece was once a simple but gorgeous vanity, but had seen better days. The bottom shelf was missing, it had a dime size burn hole in the top and the knobs were all askew.  I had a lightning bolt of creativity and decided this piece might be better as two instead of one. In order for that to happen, some surgery needed to be performed. It included cutting the remaining bottom shelf off. (Excuse the knobby knees in the pic. My husband had the saw in hand and was antsy to push the on button)

After cutting the shelf out there were two issues that needed to be solved before proceeding: filling in the slot where the top shelf had been attached to the sides; finding four more legs because now there were two tables instead of one vanity.

The first issue was the easiest. There were a couple of ways to attack this problem. I could have used wood filler or joint compound. I chose the joint compound. Here's why. Wood putty might have been the better choice due to its strenth, but it would have been a little costly to fill in a slot 3/4 of an inch wide and 2 feet long. That left the joint compound - yep, that stuff you use on your sheetrock walls to make them nice and smooth. Here are the reasons why I opted for it. It would give me the working time to fill the slot in completely, it would dry quickly and I could sand it quickly and easily.

When I was happy with the sanding, the pieces were ready for paint. Both tables were given two coats of General Finishes Lamp Black Milk Paint. It's not a true milk paint. It's a latex, but I love the true black color. It's also very self-leveling. It leaves almost no brush marks in the paint. Just the look for these two little guys.

The second issue, the legs, gave me a little more puzzling than the slot. At first, I wanted them to match the existing legs. They were chunky and little mid century looking. I searched ebay and Amazon. I found a couple of possibilities, but they were costly. My next thought was to look at some home improvement sites. Maybe there were some options there.

The legs had to be at least 5 inches long. After some more searching (Phew!) I found them!  They were longer than I needed, but they were affordable ($2.98 each) and easy to get.

Although these were a little too long, if I chopped them off right above the the first taper, they were the perfect length. (I always have a small tape measure in my purse. You never know....) I purchased 4 and took them home to my vanity.

I removed the 2 existing legs on the front of the tables, moved them to the back and applied the 4 new legs to the fronts of the tables. Here you can see. Even though the front and back legs don't match, they work and the chunky back legs give the tables a lot of stability.

I know you must be thinking that there was a lot of prep work for 2 little tables. Honestly, even though it was quite a bit, it was easy and fast. I knew that the end result would be worth the couple of hours I spent filling, sanding, and moving and adding legs.

Now that I was ready to paint, I noticed that the tables had a masculine feel even with the new curvy front legs. You know, if you wait long enough the pieces almost tell you how to restyle them. I don't know if it was the scent of leaves in the air or the end of summer, but I wanted this piece to have a cozy fall feeling - sweaters, hot tea, bonfires and hayrides.  But I also wanted to keep them a little masculine with little dashes of femininity scattered in.

I knew they had to be black. I knew that I wanted to camouflage the burn and the divots from the bent knobs. That meant using paper to decoupage. I usually opt for painting, but this felt right for these pieces.

I always keep an eye out for deals and interesting things for my pieces. I already had a typographic wrapping paper that I had purchased a year or so ago to use on the tops. I found samples of a gray and tan flannel print wallpaper for the drawer fronts (it reminds me of a sweater) and I had picked up some black and white knobs a couple of months ago at a Home Goods store (I think they were Cynthia Rowley). All of these were purchased at different times. I had no solid plan to use them, but I have a small stash and I'm always looking.

I applied the wallpaper and wrapping paper with a wallpaper paste. For me, wallpaper paster has more open working time than a product like Mod Podge. Apply the paste with a large paintbrush. Use more than you think you'll need. The excess is easily smooshed out using the side of a credit card or plastic putty knife. When the paper is nice and smooth with no bubbles, clean up the top surface and under the edges with a damp towel. I let mine dry overnight. Then, using a sharp utility blade I ran the side of the blade along the edges of my pieces, using the cutting edge to trim the papers. This makes neat, clean edges. Anything that wasn't nice and clean is easily made that way using a piece of fine sandpaper run smoothly along the edges of the paper.

After cutting and sanding the paper, the little white edges of the paper will be visible. This is easily remidied by just applying a little more of your basecoat paint to these edges. You don't have to be very neat with this. As long as you're not a turtle, the wet paint will easily wipe off the papers with a damp paper towel or rag.

After putting the drawers back in the tables, the typographic paper looked a little too brown. I wanted to gray it up a bit. The paper had a slight sheen to it, so I knew that it was coated with some kind of finish. Using a large brush, some water and my black paint, I dipped the brush in the water and then into the paint. Working quickly, I brushed the paint over the brown paper in large, messy swaths. Then using a dry paper towel, I moved the paint around and wiped it off until there was just enough glaze left to tone the brown down a bit.

The paper on the right has been glazed. If you look closely you can see the wash. It's a very subtle difference, but it made ALL the difference.

All that was left to do was to protect the tops with some polyurethane and add the knobs.  Iuually use brush on varnishes, but in this case I used spray ons. I was afraid if I used a brush on varnish, the paper would change color.  Now, these pieces won't get a lot of wear, but the tops needed to be water resistant. They got two coats of a spar varnish. Spar varnish is made for outdoor use and it's very water resistant. It's even used on boat hulls. Then, they got two coats of a spray on satin polyurethane.

Finally!!! It's so exciting to see a piece come together and finished. The knobs!! The piece de resistance!! Ugh...after I got the on, they almost disappeared on the black and tan background paper.

Back to another search: this time for some backplates. Again, ebay, Amazon, home improvement websites. I knew the backplates had to be a little masculine to counter balance the feminine drawings on the knobs. That meant angles not curves.

I always strive to be frugal with my revamped pieces. Spending $4 - $8 a piece wasn't going to work. I finally found the exact backplates and they were only $1.98 each! The only problem was they were silver, which would again disappear on the black and tan paper.

To fix this, I primed them and painted them a solid satin black. I also gave them several coats of the same satin polyurethane that the tops had gotten. Now, they were PERFECT!!

I put them on an angle under the beautiful knobs.  What a difference a little black paint made. They were finally done!!

mister mister final

I hope you found this post informative as well and enjoyable. As always, comments and questions are always welcome. Don't hesitate to interact!!

Enjoy your day!

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Big Break!

The Big Break

Wow! Time really Does fly! Where has the last year gone? I just realized that because of all the work we've been doing here at home, I haven't done any furniture updates. My focus has been on updating our out-of-date-but-beautiful home. We've updated every room; some major updates - such as the kitchen; some minor updates; but there's not a room that hasn't needed some repair and updating.

We're on the last leg!! I can't believe it. The light is in sight. The furniture in the garage is calling my name and soon I'll be able to start redirecting those creative juices back where they belong! Meanwhile, I HAVE been doing some smaller projects. Let me show you one.

I'm one of those people who love giving personalized gifts. Although some people love getting gift cards for department stores, I rarely cave and buy one. Only in certain circumstances. In my quest for a personalized gift for my daughter, I ran across an item that's called a wrap bracelet. Maybe I'm out of the loop, but I had never seen one before. 

While brainstorming ideas, I thgouth of making her a "souvenier" of her favorite place on Earth - New York City. 

I actually stamped the coordinates for her favorite place (New York City) on the metal plate, which was easier than I thought. I knew I wanted some kind of bangle with NYC on it, when I ran across some vintage typewriter keys. Perfect!

In order to get the N, Y, and C, I had to purchase a LOT of typewriter keys. So now I have almost 40 keys left. What do you do with almost 40 spare typewriter keys? I mean, there's not a huge market...

More brainstorming...

I had all these weird keys, cabachon trays, earring hooks...


I pulled the back of the keys off, pulled out the faded paper letter, printed off a new letter, put it all together and VOILA! A pair of X and O earrings! 

Hugs and kisses!

Now, to the garage...I hear furniture calling my name!