With a step daughter in medical school, a step daughter in college, and one daughter in high school, it's time to get rid of a number of things in our house. However, I wasn't ready to part with some of the items we purchased when the girls were small because frankly, they're still very functional. The only problem is that some of the items are too cutesy, as is, for my taste. Case in point, the 10-drawer multicolored chrome metal storage cart. How many of you have something like this?Since I'm still on my spray painting kick, I decided to paint the metal frame with Rust-Oleum's Pure Gold and the drawers in Rust-Oleum's Matte Citron. I had to remove the drawers and thoroughly wash the frame and drawers. I also unscrewed all of the knobs to spray them to match the frame. I bought five cans of the Matte Citron and sprayed approximately 3 coats over the drawers. The darker colored drawers needed a bit more attention. Like all good DIYs, things don't always go as planned. I didn't love the finished product. Then, my muse (my daughter), suggested I use chalkboard paint so that I could write on the drawers directly to label them. This is why two heads are often better than one! The project obviously took a little longer than planned because then I painted over the citron. My newly revamped storage cart will hold the marketing materials for a new job I recently started. I make regular donations to the Salvation Army, but this is one piece I'm glad I decided to hang on to!
I love when friends give me a creative challenge. While attending The 2016 Lady Project Summit in Providence, my friend saw a pillow on the stage that she just had to have. (She had just discovered that her husband of 25 years had been cheating on her, so you'll understand why she needed this pillow!) We checked it out and it was from Wayfair. The price tag on the pillow read $200 (say WHAT?); I later found it for $97. My friend asked me if I could make this pillow for her. I said, "heck yes!" I contemplated sewing a pillow, and looked at fabric, but then realized that I could probably buy a cheaper pillow from somewhere else. (I found these little pillows on sale at Jo-Ann Fabrics for $11.99. They have gold dots on one side and are plain on the back—perfect.) Next, I brainstormed with Deanna Agresti, my artist friend extraordinaire, about how to stencil the words on the pillow. She instantly had a solution. We opened Adobe Illustrator and typed in the phrase. I then went through multiple fonts until I found one I liked. From there we turned the font into outlines which made it into a shape so that the Silhouette die cutting machine could recognize the outline to cut it out. If you're not familiar with a Silhouette die cutting machine, check out this blog for the basics: www.iheartorganizing.com. I am saving my pennies for this one, as well as learning how to use Adobe Illustrator because I see a bright future with these two babies in my toolbox. Continue reading DIY Expressive Pillows
I've always loved large black and white abstract paintings. I've been collecting screenshots and pinning different images of black and white abstract art from the Internet. Here are some of my picks. Forgive me for not citing sources. I wasn't even sure why I was collecting these images until I realized I wanted to try my hand at painting one for myself. Continue reading Abstract Black & White Art
So I've been hideously MIA, but it doesn't mean I haven't been pondering creative ideas. Today's post is about a children's picture book that I absolutely love, but hesitate to label as a "children's book" because my adult friends have enjoyed it as well. (Isn't that the definition of a good picture book anyway?!) The book is the The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau by Jon Agee. Appreciated by both boys and girls, it tells the tale of mysterious paintings whereby the subjects walk off of their canvases and, in some cases, wreak havoc. For a full summary, you can read the Children's Book Review from Publisher's Weekly here. Inspired by my daughter's eclectic project some months back where she re-purposed small plastic toy animals, (See post "Take a Walk on the Wild Side") I decided to take a stab at her project. A friend gave me a bag of very small animals she picked up at a thrift store. If you've read Agee's book, and the above-mentioned blog post, you know where this is going. I headed out to my husband's garage to create mini-art that pairs so beautifully with Agee's book. I think the book and the framed animal will make an exceptional gift. Good clean fun!
I love Paper Whites and usually think about them at the end of November. Yet why not pick up some bulbs now to have gorgeous centerpieces for your Thanksgiving table? They're so easy to grow and relatively inexpensive if you buy the bulbs at discount places such as The Christmas Tree Shop or Ocean State Job Lot. The plants grow in 4-6 weeks, so you'll want to get your bulbs going in the next week or so. I bought the mini trifle dish for $4.99 and the Paper Whites' kit for $3.99 at The Christmas Tree Shop. I already had the rocks so the whole ensemble cost less than $10. I know I have other vases, mason jars, and julep cups in my cupboards so I could make a really cute grouping like those you see on Pinterest.
I have been an avid reader since I was a very young girl. I have those fond memories, like so many other avid readers, of going to the local library with my mom, cloth book bags in hand, getting a stack of books. I regularly attend book festivals (LOVE the Nantucket Book Festival) or author engagements. (In RI, Robin Kall puts together marvelous author events.) I'm in a terrific book club, Reading Between the Wines, and contrary to our husbands' quips, we do discuss the books. I'm also an English as a Second Language Teacher and a Reading Specialist. I work with high school students. I do not teach them to learn to read (i.e., decoding/phonics), but rather I teach them how to read to learn (i.e., comprehension strategies). I am also a book snob. If I don't see books in a person's home or apartment, I immediately notice. Are they strictly E-readers? I wonder. Do they check their books out from the library and keep them by their bedside? or Are they simply non-readers? (Gasp!) Therefore, I feel compelled to comment on the use of books for decorative purposes only in styling bookshelves as...distasteful. Don't get me wrong. I appreciate the styled book shelf at right. I love the gals (Bridget & Casey) behind the blog The DIY Playbook. I think their ideas are creative and their blog fantastic. I am not a hater. I just don't understand the concept of displaying books with the spine (i.e., the title) hidden. I also do not like the idea of covering books in decorative paper. Okay, I love the look of the map-covered books at right creatively displayed by April Foster on her blog. Her aesthetic matches my own. However, as an avid reader, why would you do this? You have no idea what is under the paper, you have no intention of sharing your books with others, you cannot derive the pleasure of seeing the title of a book that you read and loved, and taking a moment and basking in the memory of that experience. So as I rework my own messy, chaotic bookshelf, I do want to practice the art of styling it a bit; however, I still want, no NEED, to see the titles of the books. They are my prized possessions. They contain my journeys, my memories, my friends, and so much more. Next post, I will share my attempt to re-style my bookshelves. Currently my shelves look like this:
There are a number of terrific closet organization systems out there, some DIY systems, and many custom closet companies. Some that come to mind are California Closets, the Container Store's elfa Shelving System, and IKEA's PAX system. Over the years, my husband has revamped a number of our closets. When we moved into our house eleven years ago, our master bedroom closet looked similar to the picture at left and he transformed it. The pullout shoe closet was my dream. I was in awe of my new closet, but over time, there were a few drawbacks. The shoe closet hid hard-to-reach shelve space, where I imagined giant dust bunnies were lurking. My boots were squished (or thrown in a jumble) on the limited bottom shelf. My end of the closet was just not working for me anymore. (I know, first world problems!) Continue reading Revamping My Closet
From years of teaching, I've learned to be scrappy. My classroom is a gallimaufry of furniture cast-offs by colleagues. You can only spend so much of your own money for so long on your students and your classroom, before you start to look for ways to find bargains, and cut costs. I've started applying this same scrappiness to my own home, as I try to update it on a budget. Recently I picked up a wicker chair along the roadside, okay, at my neighbor's curb two doors down from me. (Gasp!) I saw the chair all day as I played the carpool game. Finally, I said to my daughter, "if that chair is still there at 5 p.m., I'm nabbing it." Sure enough it was, and fortunately or unfortunately for me, my neighbor was working in her garden when I asked her if she was getting rid of it. "Take it," she said, "but the bottom may need some repairs." This rehab was a piece of cake. Using a hot glue gun, I secured a few loose pieces of wicker and reinforced the bottom with twine. I bought two cans of Rust-oleum Painter's Touch Ultra Cover in Satin London Gray. Gave it approximately 3 thin coats of paint and let it dry completely. I bought a 50% off fabric remnant and a pillow from Jo-Ann Fabric, and sewed two pillows.* The whole project probably took me three hours, tops. The chair now lives happily in our adult daughter's bedroom/guest room. Cost: 2 cans of spray paint from Home Depot: $7.74. 1/2 yard fabric remnant & pillow from Jo-Ann Fabric: $4.86+12.47 Total Cost: $25.09 (*For the record, this is the extent of my sewing abilities. I had to borrow my youngest daughter's sewing machine, and had to have her help me thread the bobbin.)
I love how the Internet has created endless possibilities for creative types to connect with companies that foster and support creativity. My art teacher friend at the high school where I teach told me about this company called Spoonflower. Spoonflower lets you take a design that you've created and turn it into custom fabric, custom wallpaper, or custom gift wrap. LOVE IT! So how does it work exactly? Since I haven't used the company's services directly, I'm going to share what one savvy high school sophomore did under the guidance of her art teacher. First, Sarah painted three sunflowers using watercolor paints. Then, she scanned the paintings into Adobe Photoshop to adjust the contrast, and clean up the images a bit. Next, she brought the images into Adobe Illustrator to do a "live trace" which turns the images into a vector, where each color is recognized as a separate shape. Finally, she uploaded the images to www.spoonflower.com. The company recommends that you upload JPEG or PNG files not bigger than 40 MB. No matter the design or specifications, you only pay for the cost of the fabric, wallpaper, or gift wrap and shipping. Sarah bought 1 yard of fabric for $20, and received it in less than 2 weeks. The website also provides resources on recommended design tools to use. Sarah and her teacher had a few questions about pattern repeat and the Spoonflower Customer Service Department was excellent, spending almost an hour helping them. Sarah plans to give her older sister the finished product—these gorgeous pillows! So impressive. I just added this to my summer "Creative Project To Do" list, and may have to call Sarah for guidance, as well as her extremely talented teacher, Mrs. Agresti. Thanks for letting me share your collaborative creativity, girls!
My youngest daughter likes to troll the Internet for DIY projects. (I have no idea who she gets this interest from?!) She came across this amusing project via YouTube (here) and made it one recent weekend afternoon. Many of you with kids probably have plastic animals lying around. Unfortunately, since she is entering high school in the fall, we had already purged our house of such toys so we went to A.C. Moore in search of these critters. We were shocked at the prices−$10 and up for one animal! Then we headed to Saver's where we were able to purchase a gallon-size bag of a variety of animals, action figures and McDonald's Happy Meal toys for $3.99. I already had the primer and the gold spray paint, so it was just a matter of figuring out how to cut the animals in half. My husband helped my daughter secure the animals in the vise and cut them with a coping saw. She used a thin coat of spray primer on the toys, let them dry for 20 minutes, then followed up with gold metallic spray paint. We had the inexpensive white frame from one of her previous projects. She used E6000 adhesive to attach the busts. She's decided to do the behinds as well as the busts...now where to hang these silly things?