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Getting Cocky

28 Apr

I went through a French Country stage when we first moved into our house and purchased this little baby at Tuesday Morning.

Yes, it’s pretty bad, but I thought it added some whimsy and  humor to the room. It’s not like I had roosters everywhere in some ’80s country fashion. But it needed to go or it needed an update. The lampshade was particularly ugly.

I hate to admit that we have been using it all these years–in our bedroom, where all bad choices seem to end up (that sounds really bad, I mean, from a design purchase sort of way, not in any other way).

One thing I really like about this lamp is the little finial. I think it’s cute. Plus the base is kinda retro-’80s, so I decided to keep that too.

I like the whole monochromatic trend that you see now, particularly in white. I thought about going white but that was too expected. I taped off everything but the base.

And put foil around the cord and harp.

And sprayed it all with this, which thankfully I had already in my really clean garage.

And it already looked pretty cool with just the primer.

But not as cool as it did when it was Valspar’s Gloss Luscious Green.

And even better back in the bedroom on my nightstand with a new shade from Target.

And that finial is still my favorite part.


A Banner Day

16 Mar

Today’s a good day! It’s Friday and 70+ degrees outside. The Jayhawks are in town playing in March Madness. And one of my favorite people in the world is moving into the neighborhood as I type.

I put together this banner this morning and put it on their new house’s front porch while they were at the closing.

I thought it was a fun way to show them our excitement, welcome them to the neighborhood, and let the rest of the neighbors get to know their family name.

I did a similar one for my 20-year reunion last summer. You can kinda see it in the background here.

And here it is later in the night.

They are so simple and kinda folksy, which I like.

Seriously, a few minutes to print out the letters at 400-point type and some time at Kinko’s (now known as FedEx Office, but I don’t agree with that so I still call it Kinko’s) to buy colored card stock and use their trimmer and glue stick, and you’re good to go. I hung them both with curling ribbon and used toe-nail clippers to make the cuts.

That bit of brilliance came from some blog that I read regularly but have done searches on all of them and can’t find the post. Grrr . . .

Anyway, I’ve been seriously giddy all day with excitement so I wanted to share. Here’s to you having a Banner Day!

Personalized Pizza Peel

4 Mar

Hi guys, my first Guest Post (yay!). My sister Kim, who lives in Denver, has made us some great gifts over the years and this Christmas was no exception. Enjoy!

Stacy asked me to guest blog about the personalized pizza peel that I made her for Christmas. I found the wax paper transfer idea on Unexpected Elegance while blog hopping one night and became obsessed with giving it a try.

Wax paper, ink jet printer, credit card and an old cutting board–I had it all lying around. I grabbed a cool French graphic over at the The Graphics Fairy and was on my way.

A Google search found pizza peels at Bed, Bath and Beyond for $9.99. With a 20% off coupon in hand, I decided this was an even better gift then I originally thought–cheap.

I really liked the shape and size of the peels but the colorless pine was begging for a bit of stain. Staining something designed to serve food? Wasn’t so sure about that. I searched around a bit but no one seemed to have a solid answer. So I did what I always do when I can’t find comfort in the World Wide Web, I called upon the expertise of strangers working in the real world. I called one of the local woodworking (insert conundrum here such as plumbing, antique, etc) stores in town. I always keep my fingers crossed to get an experienced-sounding person on the phone, perfectly willing to give lots of, in this case, woodworking advice. And if his advice doesn’t start with “You need to get your husband…,” I drink it all in.

According to Howard, all stains are non-toxic once they dry. I didn’t double and triple check Howard’s factoid but I wasn’t overly concerned since no one on my gift list has a home wood-burning pizza oven. I’m assuming that my peels would be more decorative than functional, but I wanted to be more safe then sorry. So I set up shop on the pool table downstairs and stained both sides with some Golden Oak we had left over. Since I’m sure the peels are cheapo pine, I used a wood conditioner first in hopes to get the stain as even as possible. I gave each side two coats of stain with a light sand between. Make sure you do both sides so you have an alternative blank side if your first transfer doesn’t work.

While I loved the graphics, I wanted to personalize my gifts with the recipients’ last names. Using PowerPoint, I gave it the same look and feel as one of the antique French graphics that I liked. I found myself drawn to the foreign word examples, and since it’s a pizza peel, I created mine in Italian. Using an online translator to figure out the specific words and spellings, I came up with this:

It says “Murphy Family Restaurant, 88th Street” in Italian or close enough.  Once you finalize it, print it out on plain paper, line it up on your wood and mark the corners lightly with a pencil. Before you print on the wax paper, reverse the image (in PowerPoint, check the Mirror Image” check box under Print, Properties, Finishing tab). I had the best success printing in the “Normal Fast” Print Quality. The ink often smeared inside the printer when printing in the slower, “Best” Print Quality option.

The original instructions said to feed the wax paper through carefully but often mine jammed the machine. I made several of these and found taping to wax paper to sheet of card stock worked better.  I cut the wax paper the exact same size with a paper cutter and taped it to the card stock on all four corners, and it fed through without issue. (I was freaking out a bit, because had it jammed and ruined my printer, my cheap little peels would be one expensive gift.)  Here’s how I taped it:

Make sure your graphic prints reverse.

Seems simple I know, but when it comes out of the printer, the ink is sitting on top of the paper so you have to handle it carefully. Taping it this way allowed me to quickly run an X-acto blade between the wax paper and card stock without damaging the ink. Once you free the wax paper, carefully flip it over and line the right corners (or left if you’re a south paw) on your pre-marked corners before you touch anything to the wood. Working from right to left or left to right, use a credit card to burnish (rub) the wax paper over the wood. It’s a very similar process to applying shelf paper (or a protector cover to your iPhone if you are not an anal shelf paperer like me), but you only have one chance to get it down even.

Do not move the paper or the image will smudge. If you want the ink from your image to be darker, lightly wet the wood before applying the transfer. I rubbed my peels down with a barely damp cloth, after I cut the tape and right before I flipped the transfer to apply. To polish them up and make them look more authentic (and provide a little protection from potential toxins), I applied a few coats of food grade bee’s wax. Overall I was very happy with the way they turned out.

Me too! Have a good week, All. Thanks to Kim for this post!

Oh Valentine!

9 Feb

I don’t go wild with Valentine’s decorations but I do a few things to bring some pink and red into my home.

I made a bunch of these yarn hearts with my daughter Charlotte last year. We had fun and they were easy. Here’s a link if you’re interested. I hung them on my hideous fireplace with fishing line.

I found these antique silhouettes years ago at the Walnut Antiques Fair. I was holding them back thinking I wanted to change out the frames, but I think they look kinda sweet “as is” on my piano.

I also changed the candles in my hanging candelabra ($1 find at an estate sale) to pink.

“Asabelle” (Charlotte named her) got a warm but springy scarf (oh and those furry two have been keeping me on my toes lately too).

And food also makes for a fun decoration during February.

Sometimes holiday decorations make me feel like a frustrated grade school teacher, but changing up my home decor helps to brighten the long days of winter. Am I the only one who feels this way?

Home Goals 2012

10 Jan

The Nester, one of my absolute favorites, is hosting a Home Goals Linky Party this week and so it’s the perfect time for me to lay out some of my plans for this year. I created a similar list last year . . . projects I wanted to get done. I put it on the fridge so I could cross things out as I went but mainly so I could stay on task. I tend to get a little ADD when it comes to DIY. I’ll start some project and then see something else that I think is a great idea so then start something else. Writing things down helps to keep me accountable.

So here it is. By the end of May (some perfect cold-weather tasks), I would like to have my Dressing Room complete. I love this room. I spend a lot of time in it, but if I want to be featured on that last page of Better Homes and Gardens,  you know the “I did it!” page (a little goal of mine), it needs some serious work, starting with this ottoman.

At 4′ x 4′, the size is awesome and it’s totally functional (meaning strewn with several items of clothing on most days) but the fabric is dreary and it only reinforces how dreary that rug is (a remnant from the basement). They both need to be changed. So, I’ll be on the lookout for a bright and feminine rug or maybe an animal print and fabric for this ottoman–lately I’ve been thinking a pretty yellow velveteen or something. I was going to do the animal print on the ottoman. In fact, it’s why I bought the giraffe print that became this, but again, that ADD set in and I went another route. Plus I thought it might look like a big ol’ cow or something in the middle of the room. Anyway, I’m also determining if I’m going to try to take on the reupholstering (a major feat) or budget for someone else to do it. Stay tuned!

Next item, those closet doors! (please read “Those closet doors!” with the same emphasis as the stepsisters in Cinderella do when they talk about “These beads! That sash! Why I wouldn’t be caught dead in them!”) Wait, I’m checking YouTube . . . a quick search and I can’t find it (I can find where they rip the sash and beads off of Cinderella but not the one where they discard them in the first place–the bitches). Anyway, these closet doors are deplorable. What is this wood?

It’s hideous and it needs to be covered. I’ve got a couple thoughts on that. I loved, loved what Kevin and Layla did on The Lettered Cottage. Amazing! But mine are sliders and I kinda want to work with what I have, although I desperately need a full-length mirror in there. I have no good full-length mirror in my house (perhaps that’s why I still have this extreme self-confidence thing going). Anyway, I was thinking about wallpapering them, and my friend told me about something with fabric and starch that she saw on The Nate Berkus Show (which I don’t watch but clearly need to start). I need to find out more about that.

And obviously the whole room and TRIM need to be painted. Also deplorable.

But here is the last project I have in mind. I’m excited about this one because I think these are awesome and should make for a pretty easy DIY. I saw this in the Ballard Design Catalog and thought it would be perfect for my Dressing Room. I love the taller spaces for boots.

The shorter one is $360 and the taller one is $600. I found this little wood bookshelf on Craigslist. The listing was “Orange painted book shelf – $10.” Sold!

It’s ugly but it’s solid.

So that’s it. I’m not going any further than May right now. I definitely have more projects in mind, most of which involve contractors, so I’m sticking with what’s attainable at the moment. Small chunks, right?

How about you? Any home projects on your horizon?

Festive Centerpieces

13 Dec

My friend Stacey turned me on to these lanterns at ShopKo.

They had some great red ones in their holiday decor and then these in the everyday decor section. ShopKo is not typically known for its design aesthetic but these were solid and had nice shapes and great prices at $14.99 each.

I had recently acquired an enamalware bowl at Goodwill for $4 and wanted to incorporate it into my Christmas decor. I combined it with one of the red lanterns, a Christmas napkin and leftover fake greenery and was proud of the results.

Several months back I had sent my kids and the neighbor kids on a pine cone hunt because I hate to think of purchasing pine cones when they’re in ready supply around the neighborhood. The kids had a riot and I got a bagful that made for festive filler in this centerpiece.

Putting this together inspired gift ideas for my hard-t0-buy-for-step-sister and my mom. I found some more baskets at Goodwill that would make for good bases.

I tried to get rectangular- or oval-shaped baskets to serve as the bases because the lanterns were bigger and I wanted to incorporate some live Poinsettias. These baskets are pretty easy to find at thrift stores and run about $4 each. Stacey also told me about ShopKo’s faux candles at half-price so I picked up some of those.

I had to build up the base because I wanted the piece to have some varying heights. I used whatever I had around–some floral foam in one and a box, styrofoam and newspaper in the other.

The Poinsettias were the four-inch pots from Home Depot at $3.99 each. I did two in each centerpiece and filled in the rest with pine cones.

Phoebe, the Cockapoo, approved.

Definitely liked the more natural glow on the pine cone candle below but it wouldn’t fit into this more slender lantern.

We celebrated our Christmas with this part of the family this past weekend and my stepsister and mom were thrilled with my creations. They both had future entertaining in their holiday schedule and were excited to have these inviting pieces as part of their tables.