Saturday, May 29, 2010

You're the meaning in my life, You're the inspiration...

WHEW! I have been a busy gal this weekend and its only Saturday! Good thing its a 3 day weekend! I have been working on several projects, including a desk organizer, table re-do, and DIY dry mount-esque art work. Those will be coming soon, but I just HAD to show you my Hobby Lobby inspired plate! While perusing HL recently, I saw a 50% off all glass and ceramic sign- that sent me runnin'. After arriving at the display, and catching my breath, I started looking around. I found these 2 beauties that I knew would look fabulous in our kitchen (remember my WIP post?). 
Unfortunately, my excitement waned when I flipped these babies over and saw the price. "50% off WHAT?!" I shrieked.  That just goes to show you that a sale doesn't always mean a deal.  I still loved the look, though, and knew I had to figure out a way to make it happen.  On my most recent Hobby Lobby trip, I found this bad boy.
Not quite as visually appealing as his sisters up there, but I knew I could do something with this.  And at only $5, plus my 15% teacher discount, I had to have it.  I remembered this killer website my awesome neighbor, Jeannie, told me about, colourlovers.  You can create and edit your own patterns and colors.  After a few minutes creating a pattern, then copying it into, and printing, I had myself a plan.  I painted the plate black, using left over black paint from our kitchen tile redo, and let it dry.  After that I used the glossy Mod Podge to place the pattern in the center of the paint. MP TIP- be sure to put it on both the paper you're using AND the surface you're applying it to.  It keeps bubbling and wrinkling to a minimum.  I let that dry and did 3 coats of glossy MP on top.  Here she is, my Hobby Lobby inspired decorative plate:
And a closer look:
That just goes to show, if you find something you LOVE, but HATE the price, make it yourself!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010


As I learn more about blogging, I will continue to add to our page.  Will and I just went through all the "before" pictures of the townhome, that he took right after he bought it.  I have created a new page on the blog that shows you all these pictures.  You can check it out at the top of the blog, under the title 'Townhome'.  As we finish rooms, and get around to taking pictures, we will post "after" pics.  Be sure to check back often because in our house, rooms are always changing!


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Work in Progress

In class, when students don't finish an assignment, I tell them to put it in their WIP folder, short for Work in Progress.  If you're anything like me, you have several things in your own WIP folder, whether it be calling an old friend, projects around the house, or just spending a little time on yourself.  Lately I seem to continuously be adding to my folder, but not finishing any assignments. My folder keeps growing and growing and growing, and I just wonder how long those little staples can keep it together.  If you live the life of an educator, you understand the chaos that surrounds the end of the school year.  Yes, we get summers and holidays off, but I have finally figured out why.  Its our chance to empty some of these things out of our WIP folder.  We need this time to take care of our friends and family, but most importantly ourselves. 

Writing this blog has allowed me to get around to things that I've always wanted to do.  I hope as the summer goes on, I am able to complete some of these assignments, and empty my folder (or at least put a dent in it).  Each spring, as school begins wrapping up, I make a summer to-do list.  Since moving in with Will, he has helped not only add to this list, but scratch things off.

Currently in my House WIP Folder:
1. Clean out spare bedroom, get a desk, and turn it into a hobby room.
2. Over the cabinet decoration
3. Wall d├ęcor in kitchen
4. Clean up study
5. Get all unnecessary furniture out of house
6. Put together IKEA furniture
7. Learn how to use sewing machine
      a. Sew at least one item of clothing
8. Find some sort of seating for the backyard
9. Find a cute glass container for spare change
10. Find some sort of mail filer
11. Figure out shutter situation in dining and living room
12. Create a table setting on the formal dining room table

No doubt we will add to this list. Work on our house is never ending, and as we continue to grow our lives together, we have to figure out ways to successfully merge our things and styles. Thankfully, with a little help from my wonderful mom, I am working on #12 today. A few weeks ago, I found these killer vases at goodwill for a steal! They are nice and sturdy, and in great condition.  I had to fix a few dings with joint compound and sanding, but with a new black paint job they look fantastic! I could kick myself now, because I forgot to take a picture of what they looked like before.  My mom also found 2 little vases that fit inside perfectly, for some added height and to turn them into candle holders.  Paired with the candles already on the table, I think its going to come together nicely.  Will and I aren't really leave-a-set-table-all-the-time kind of people, so I think I am going to need to be a bit more creative.  I still have a few more ideas for the table, but I need to find some of the items I'm looking for.
As I clear out my WIP folder, I'll be sure to continue writing and posting pictures.  What about you? Have you finished anything in your WIP lately?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bad Weather = Cancelled Flight = Crafty Saturday

This weekend was supposed to be one filled with old friends, graduation festivities, and Chimy's margaritas. Instead 5 hrs were spent in the airport waiting on a plane that may or may not be able to take off.  After reading Chelsea, Cheslea, Bang, Bang, in its entirety, I decided to find out what was up. Upon speaking with the friendly, yet clearly miffed Southwest agent, I decided to go ahead and cancel my flight reservation. I probably could have made it to Dallas, but most likely not to Lubbock. If I'm going to get stranded, its going to be in my own home. I called Will, he drove out to the airport for the second time that night, and we headed home... sans luggage. At that point, Southwest was no longer retrieving bags from airplanes. Wherever, and whenever, that plane was headed, so was that bag. 48 hrs. later and I am still no closer to my stuff.  Thankfully, Will had planned a game night for Friday night, so I got to come home to good friends and a cold drink. After hearing nothing on my luggage by Saturday afternoon, I decided to use my time productively. With mod podge.

It had been too long since MP and I had hung out, so I carved out some alone time.  After thinking for a few minutes on what my next project could be, I remembered some old pictures I bought back in my college days.  They have been used as kitchen decor in every place of residency since then. When I moved in with Will, they were finally placed in storage. 
After taking a quick look, I decided to paint the edged and use them as 'frames'. You'll see what I mean in a sec. In our upstairs hallway, we have black & white pictures that have been dry mounted. Will got this made and brought them home as a mid-week surprise.  On the opposite side of this hallway, there's a blank wall. I knew this would be the future home of my cute chef/bartender men.  Obviously, not in this condition.  First, I painted the edge and just a little into the middle with white craft paint. After painting the first picture, I realized I was going to have to prime these puppies first. SO, I used primer on the other three, and then painted white.
While those dried, I decided which pictures I wanted to use. Since the other pictures in our hallway are black & white, I knew these pictures needed to be, as well. Then, I remembered this! I chose pictures that would look great in black & white, but also had a pop of color somewhere.  After some quick internet research and a few tutorials later, I created some beautiful work.  I printed the pictures out on a matte photo paper, which is basically card stock. (Will and I aren't into super shiny surfaces.)  I trimmed the photos down to size, just the inside part of my old pictures, leaving some of the frame around the edges. Using my trusty MP, glued down my new photos, and hung! I decided not to do an over-laying coat of MP. I thought even the matte, would be too shiny and not coordinate as well with our current decor.  I L-O-V-E the way they turned out and they just look great in our hallway!

This entire project cost me zero dollars and zero cents. Not too shabby, considering I'll most likely be replacing a good amount of clothes, make-up, hair products, and a straightener in the near future. Have YOU recycled any old pictures or frames lately?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Just a quick post to introduce...!

Its the FREE alternative to Photoshop.

While I've never actually used Photoshop, or any other photo editing software for that matter, this is amazing! I just downloaded the software, saved it to my computer and began! Its super user friendly, and as you can tell, I was able to quickly add some pizazz to the blog!  There is a button for on the right side of the page, so be sure to look for that! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! Maybe when you learn some of the features, let me know! I'd love to hear some tips!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Personal Victory: BF has given me the go to start calling him by name. So, from now on BF is Will! :) Too bad this post is Will-free.

Many of you know I am super close with my family, because, well, they're awesome.  My parents have been married for over 25 yrs, and my younger sister and I are like BFFs (even more so than me and mod podge).  Our holidays are always spent together, usually with some sort of fruity cocktail or a new glass of wine that my mom wants to try. They are always low key- just how we like them.  For Mother's Day, we were able to go to the most amazing seafood restaurant, Topwater Grill, that has remodeled and reopened since Hurricane Ike. As expected, it was delish. Afterwards, we made jelly.
What most of you DON'T know is that my dad inherited a tree farm from my Paw-Paw before he passed away in 2002. "A tree farm?!" you ask.  We have about 50 acres in east Texas, right off I-10. Nothing to write home about, but it did make for some fun family get-togethers. We used to cut down our own Christmas trees, ride around on the tractor, and pick mayhaw berries.  These berries are what we used to make the jelly. Last weekend, my dad picked roughly 50 lbs of berries.  We are first time jelly-makers, but armed with 2 different recipes, we set off.  Mayhaw jelly has a very light, but sweet taste. Don't expect anything overwhelming, just a nice, fresh flavor.
Paw-Paw standing in front of a blooming mayhaw tree.
First you sort the desirable berries from the undesirables. Think Charlie & the Chocolate Factory's Veruca Salt. If its a bad egg, it goes down the garbage shoot. (We just read this book in class, so yes, its on my mind...)  After you have picked a gallon of berries, put them in a large pot and add 3 quarts of water, bring to a boil, and then simmer for 30 min. This makes the berries nice and mushy.  Strain berries through a colander, while slightly pushing with a spoon. Then pour juice through 2-3 layers of wet cheese cloth.  You don't want any seeds, skin, or anything else in your nice, pink juice.
Pour 4 cups of the strained mayhaw juice into a large pot.  Bring to a boil.  Once boiling, add one box of pectin- this is the stuff that makes it jelly. Bring back to a hard boil. Once this is boiling, pour 4 cups of sugar in all at once. Whisk together until sugar is dissolved. Once this is boiling again, hard boil for 1 min and 15 sec., while stirring constantly. Yes, the 15 seconds matter and yes, your nose will tell you if you've heated the mixture for too long. If this happens, throw it away. Believe me, its worth starting over.

You will be left with something kind of frothy, kind of jelly, but super delicious smelling. Be sure to skim off all that foam. By removing the foam, you'll leave yourself a nice clear mixture to pour into the jars.  The foam won't hurt anything, or taste bad, it just doesn't look as pretty. And if you're going to put this much work into making something, you darn well better make it pretty! :)

Once you have finished skimming your soon-to-be-jelly, pour into sterilized* canning jars.  Screw the lids on tightly. Return filled jars to boiling water for 5 minutes. This seals the jars, so that the safety button eventually pops down.  When the 5 minutes is up, carefully remove jars from water. Sidenote- its ridiculously entertaining to be sitting around chatting, when, "Pop!" one of your jars if finished! Jars must sit 24 hrs before opening.  Once the 24 hrs is up, feel free to open and enjoy, and of course share!  This recipe makes roughly 44 oz of jelly.
* To sterilize, place glass jars only into boiling water for 10 minutes. Place lids in water for the last minute or two.  Your jars MUST be hot when you put the hot jelly mixture into them, so only remove from the boiling water right before you are ready to pour!

Our family thoroughly enjoyed spending the time together to make all this jelly.  We have slightly tweaked the recipes to make our own, so what you just read is our recipe, not what we used the first go 'round.  Have you ever made jelly? Any tips for us newbies??

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Not Just for the Cute & Crafty...

For Christmas, BF received quite a few tools. He got a table saw, jig saw, hand saw, see-saw... Just kidding on that last one, but you get the idea. He's more of a 'wire' guy, and doesn't have a whole lot of experience using power tools. Recently he became intrigued with the idea of having a hidden room in our house. Lucky for him, we have the perfect spot- the closet right under the stairs. This closet houses all of the gadgets and gizmos that come along with living with a guy who loves electronics. As you can see from the picture, he has a lot.
He decided he wanted to build a bookcase to cover the room. At first, he couldn't choose whether he wanted to have the bookcase on hinges or wheels. BF has never tried to build anything using these tools; I knew this was going to be interesting. So, with sort of an idea of what he wanted, and somewhat of a plan, he began the demolition. He was very careful not to worry about the damage to the wall, because he knew I would be able to fix it.

First BF had to gather the supplies. He then cut each piece to size. Here you can see the base of the bookshelf, the frame that will go around the base, and the stack of 5 shelves that would be inside of the book case.  You can't tell from these pictures, but BF did decide to use wheels.

While BF continued to cut, glue, and paint the bookcase, I was put in charge of the repairing the wall.  While I'm no Bob Villa, I did what I knew to do, which is use a ridiculous amount of joint compound and drywall joint tape. This took several days, because you have to let it dry in between coats and sand to make smooth.

BF then painted over the wall, using the left over paint from when we originally painted it.  We still wanted it to look nice behind the bookcase, for those rare occasions when we had to roll it away.  When BF put the TV in the wall, he installed non directional radio signals for the electronics, so that this closet does not have to be open for us to use the TV, satellite, PS3, Wii, or home distribution system.

BF finished his bookcase and we were able to roll it in place for the big reveal today for Mother's Day! I am so proud of how it looks and I know he loves having his "hidden room."  Hopefully this project leads into wood-work and maybe I can employ BF for some nifty shelves or a custom closet!

Friday, May 7, 2010

How To...

Make a FREE necklace!
Personal Accomplishment- I was able to figure out some of the settings. Now you can quickly email each post to your friends AND post comments without being a blogger! So bring on those comments!!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I said free. Most of these materials are things you should have lying around the house. If you don't, you can pick them up at the craft/hobby/home improvement store nearest you.

I saw a picture of these darling necklaces here (scroll down) and thought, "I can do that!" I used left over scrapbook paper from this project, and had recently picked up the other supplies.

Here is what you'll need:

scrapbook paper
mod podge (my new bff)
paint brush
smoothing tool (if you don't have a fancy one, a popsicle stick will do)
triple thick (aka diamond glaze)

You will need washers large enough that the print from your scrapbook paper can be seen. You want to pick a print that isn't too large, because when you cut it out, you want to be able to tell what it is. To begin, trace the inside and outside of your washer onto scrapbook paper and cut out.

Paint a thin layer of MP onto the washer.  Carefully smooth on the scrapbook paper.  Be patient. You need to make sure that you secure the inside and outside of the washer. It will take some time, but it will get smooth for you, I promise!

 Let dry for 15 min or so. If you don't have the triple thick and want to keep this project in the free zone, paint 2-3 layers of MP over the scrapbook paper, letting each layer dry before doing the next one.  However, if you have triple thick, or don't mind picking some up, paint that on now.  True to its name, this stuff is THICK. Try to get as close to the edge as possible.  Assuming you aren't globbing it on, it won't run over the sides.

It needs to dry 24 hrs to create a hard, protective surface. Once dry, put your new necklace on a chain, wear, and enjoy your compliments!  Please ignore my mess of hair, I do live in Houston and we are entering those humid, summer months we're so famous for! Also, I think am going to put these on a different chain. Maybe something thicker, and less chain-like.


Now that I'm officially obessesed with Mod Podge, what about you guys? Have you done any neat projects or seen a unique use for this incredible product?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Homemade Mod Podged Picture Frame

I'm tellin ya- you can get A LOT of use out of this $4.97 bottle of amazing-ness.

Its Sunday night and I can't sleep. I can't ever seem to sleep on Sunday nights, because Sunday night means I wake up to a Monday morning. And who likes Mondays?! This week will be fun, though, because its Teacher Appreciation Week. My room mom is SUPER, as are my kids, so I know by the end of the week I'll be feeling majorly appreciated! We also have Field Day on Friday, which the kiddos always enjoy!
Onto the project. My roommate from college- RFL- had a baby 8 months ago. Her birthday was a few weeks ago and I wanted to get her something special. Its also her first Mother's Day actually having the kid outside her tummy. I figured what more could a new mom want than an adorable picture frame to show off her even more adorable baby boy!

Here's what you need:

flat wooden picture frame
a neutral colored paint (I chose a tan color)
pretty scrapbook paper, a variety of complimentary prints and colors
mod podge
sponge brush
any wooden embellishments you'd like
tacky glue

First, paint the picture frame and embellishments (2-3 coats):

While paint is drying on your frame, cut out squares of scrapbook paper. Because the edge of my frame was smaller, I cut out 1/2" squares. If you have a larger frame, you might want to do 1" squares.

Now, spread a thin layer of MP over a small area on your frame. Place squares down like a tile pattern.

Finish frame, then coat with 2 layers of MP all the way around. This keeps the edges sealed and pretty. Do the same thing with your embellishments- cut scrapbook paper to size, thin layer of MP, glue down, then 2 coats of MP after.

Glue down embellishments. Insert photo of ridiculously cute baby and voila! Precious gift!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The $10 Jewelry Box Makeover

Personal Victory: I figured out how to change the color and font of the text...

For Christmas, my mom gave me this wonderful jewelry box. It was exactly what I was looking for, except when I took it out of the box, it was a reddish color. When I put it up on my dresser, it horribly clashed with the black furniture we have. I tried taking it back to the store, but because they were no longer selling them, they wouldn't take it back. After sitting in my car for the past 4 month, and BF making the same comment every time he rode in my car, "Are you ever going to do anything with this?" I decided to fix it up. I had to buy some supplies: cute scrapbooking paper, mod podge, silver spray paint, and a sealant, which totalled around 10 smackaroos. Not too bad, especially since I'll be able to use this stuff again on my summer projects.

Its very simple, and the only thing time consuming is waiting for the paint to dry. So without further ado, here are some pictures and how I did it:
This is what it looked like before. It was in good condition, minus that red color.

First, disassemble and paint all the pieces. I spray painted the hardware silver and painted the wood black. Notice the block of styrofoam? Great way to keep all those tiny screws from rolling away! I used leftover black paint from our kitchen makeover, so no expenses there!

Let paint dry and spray with a sealant. I used a matte finish, because I didn't want my box to be too shiny. Carefully cut out pieces of scrapbook paper to the size of the box that you want.  Use mod podge to attach to box, and then use mod podge again for a coat on top.  Reassemble and enjoy!!
Here is the before picture. I used that crummy thing for years because I couldn't find a jewelry box I liked. It clearly doesn't have any hanging room, so I couldn't put any necklaces with a chain in there for fear of tangles.
This is the after picture! I really like how the scrapbook paper adds just enough color, so that it doesn't blend in with the dresser.

Up Close