Sunday, May 26, 2013

As Far as the Eye Can See

   As you can tell, I haven't found anything blog-worthy in quite some time.  Nothing has really jumped out at me as anything that would matter to anyone but the few little people in my little world. Sure, there have been birthdays and holidays, skinned knees and lost teeth, even a Kindergarten graduation. These are all moments I cherish, but none have impacted me the way today's voyage to what they are calling "Ground Zero" in Moore, Oklahoma.

Veteran Park, Moore, OK
   With shovels and rakes in hand, a Camelback full of water, and a sturdy pair of gloves, I went to Moore, Oklahoma to do...anything. Something. Something besides nothing.  My friend Jennifer, her husband, and I started at Veteran Park on 12th street where the now infamous statue of soldiers still stands with nothing but rubble, debris, and mangled playground equipment behind it.  We weren't sure what the plan was or what we could do so we walked up to the first person that looked like he knew what he was doing and just said, "We're here to help. What can we do?"  He had come with a group of his friends from Arkansas and after razzing us just a tad and pointing to his Razorback flag, he pointed in the general direction of what used to be a housing addition.  We grabbed our gear and headed East just as Air Force One flew over our heads. We were within just a few miles of the President but that didn't matter. We had a job to do.

    We just started walking. Like piles of snow mounded and moved after a snowstorm, piles and piles of what used to be homes and belongings lined the streets. Where did we start? How could we make a difference? Again, we found some people in matching shirts and decided they looked somewhat organized so after filling out a form promising not to sue them and getting Tetanus shots all around, we just....dug in. Bricks in one pile, lumber and framing in another. Salvageable items in the blue bin. Bank statements and billing papers in the white bucket. In all the unrecognizable debris, however, I managed to save a lady's string of beads, a few silver necklaces, a picture or two, a baby's book, and Air Force memorabilia. They were just small tokens and there's a good chance some of it didn't even belong to the person whose living room I was standing in, but it was something. 
   After working for an hour or so, church groups started arriving to the area so we decided it was getting a little too crowded. We made our way back to Veteran Park and helped by driving around with boxes of hot dogs, drinks, and chips. Thing was, there were ten other people doing the exact same thing. What a wonderful problem to have: there were so many people that just wanted to do something - anything! - that we were worked out of another job.  Back to the drawing board.
     We decided to head back West to the other side of the park where there was less crowding.  Again we walked along the streets lined with piles of rubble, addresses spray painted on the fronts of homes and "STAY OUT" signs posted on what used to be laundry room doors. We saw some individuals working in a lot that we could tell hadn't been helped much and were informed that the owners were on site as well.  We got to work hauling away two-by-fours with nails jutting  out of each side, windows, doors, bathroom tile; we began making our own "snow pile" after the storm.  Every so often we'd come across something in tact - a vase, a living potted plant, a baseball card, Tupperware. The female owner, Wendy, kept some and tossed some.   It's hard to imagine standing in the place that used to be your home and watching strangers pick through your stuff, but they seemed grateful for the help so we kept on.

The view from Wendy's "backdoor"

   A few lighter moments occurred in the chaos as well, though. Wendy's husband had an upbeat attitude, announcing, "Yard Sale! Everything must go!" and directing our attention to his beloved smoker under the broken walls of their garage. "Save the smoker, forget the rest!"  More mementos found - a ceramic lamb pin cushion, untouched; cowboy boots, more Tupperware (that's some strong stuff!). Jennifer and I came across a huge pile of quarters in what was a child's room. We stopped jerking on the bathroom door that was lying there to gather as many as we could and take them to Wendy's growing pile of belongings.  And then among the broken mirrors and obliterated wooden cabinets, a small package of Sponge Bob crabby patties!  I decided three things could survive the end of the world - Twinkies, cockroaches, and Crabby Patties.  I also watched as two gentlemen carried a door to the pile that still had a black lacy bra hanging from the knob. As they tossed it over their heads, the bra hung up on the guy's hat and fell over his eyes. He laughed and Wendy laughed too. It was a welcome sight.
    We worked there for about three hours or so, happy to see progress being made. After making it out with only a small scratch on my leg and taking insulation to the face, we decided to check in on Jennifer's husband, Trey.  By phone, she asked him where he was and if he wanted to come this way and his reply: "I would but Bob Stoops is using my wheelbarrow!"  Forget Obama, Bob Stoops was there!! Haha! 
    Getting ready to go, we stopped and looked up the hill at what used to be Briarwood Elementary school. A hundred yards to the North a building stood strongly, relatively untouched. I was in awe of the definable path the twister took. It was as if someone took a gigantic lawn mower and - vrrrrrrp - just mowed a swatch through the middle of town. We saw slabs of house-shaped concrete stripped bare, not even a scrap of tile or carpet to be seen, and literally a hundred yards over, houses remained in tact. I was completely baffled and humbled by the power of mother nature.
    I left "Ground Zero" a different person than when I came. You never know. You just....never know. I'm so glad I went. I'm going back again tomorrow and here's why.  Passing the homeowner, I extended my hand to shake his and wish him luck.  He grabbed it and pulled me in for a heartfelt bear hug and thanked me profusely. There was no need, though. I feel indebted to him for allowing me to be a part of something bigger than myself, for enabling me to do what people do best in situations like these: help.

Found at the foot of a debris pile

Thursday, July 26, 2012

As Seen on Pinterest: Wooden Pallet Chest

Okay, peeps. This project, well, was not even a project. It was a mountain and I was the girl at the bottom without oxygen. It was a tsunami to a girl with an inflatable paddle boat. It was David and...yeah, yeah, you get the idea. Thing is, it didn't start out that way. Which is how most projects begin.

I've seen TONS of "wooden pallet upcycle" jobs on Pinterest and thought, 'yeah, that would be fun. Do-able.' Well, in the words of one smart lady I know, PUH-SHAW!

Okay, maybe it wasn't that bad, but don't let some of those four-step tutorials fool you. Anything involving wood pallets is not going to be 1. a one-day project, and 2. easy and relaxing.  Especially when you add making your own custom cardboard boxes to the mix. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Before I go any further, I must must must give credit where credit is due. HERE is the original inspiration for this wooden pallet chest. This is a great website with more fun inspiration than I could ever try in a lifetime. So please check out her work if you have a chance.

Aaaand here we goooo....

This whole thing started with some uber cheap pallets. Found them on Craigslist for $2 apiece. But I needed seven of them, which brought me to problemo numero uno: getting them home.  Thanks, though, to my most recent guest blogger, Jennifer, and her beast of a truck, we got them here. Then, they were heavy. Like, really heavy. Between my helper boy Jace (my five-yr-old), me, and his huge metal Tonka truck acting as a dolly, they were finally neatly stacked on my back porch.

Uhh....Now what.

Next, figuring out how to cut them. I thought about borrowing a saw. Then a friend offered up her husband's services. Wait, that's not right. She offered to have him cut them, but after the Tonka-hauler hoopla, I couldn't stand the thought of moving them in 100+ heat again. So finally I broke down and bought an orbital sander and a circular saw for about a hundred bucks. I figure it won't be my last project that requires power tools so I'll consider them an investment. to cut them. Enter hubby. Before I could cut the pallets I had to pry the boards off the backside, or what would become the inside, of the pallet. This was not easy. In fact if hubs hadn't been there, well, there would be no project to write about. Some of the nails were made specifically to NOT back out of its hole, making it extra special fun to pull them out. This in itself was a half-day job.

Thank you, Shea Shea!
*Note: Try to salvage as much of the wood you pull off as possible. You can use them later as fillers or in case you want to replace another board that is rotten or just plain ugly.

Finally onto the fun part! Sawing. And here's where I found the OP's tutorial somewhat lacking. I really just had to figure a lot of this stuff out as I went. The lengths and dimensions, the configuration, I just sort of started putting it together. Which, for the hubs, was a no go. It drove him crazy to just do what I told him without being able to visualize what the end product was. 

But in the OP's defense (for those just joining us, OP stands for Original Pin), I quickly learned that all pallets are NOT created equal. For example, the ones I have are made with only three two-by-fours, whereas hers had four, allowing for three potential cubby holes across.  Also, the OP's instructions are for a chest with three rows of cubby holes; since this is for my son's room to go under his tv, I only wanted two rows, thus needing only two pallets. (I like to use the word thus. Makes me feel all smart and stuff.)

With that said, I will include my dimensions but keep in mind that these are just guidelines if you so happen to want to try this for yourself.

With the pallet flipped on its top, I measured from the end of the 2x4 and just sort of picked a spot that looked right and measured 17.5 inches. Using a Sharpie, I measured each 2x4 and drew a line where I would cut. You'll notice in the middle 2x4, you can see the line - just barely - I drew to cut for the other half of the chest. Basically you're cutting out the middle part of the pallet to create two pieces that will stack on top of each other. Jive turkey? 

Once you have made all the cuts - there will be 6 per pallet if that helps - and stack them on top of each other, it will look like this:

Pictured are after BOTH pallets have been cut and stacked.

Notice I lined up the wider, er, I guess I'll call them "legs" and the narrower "legs" to form little windows on each end. Also, my pallets had these lovely gaps between each top board, which the OP's did not. (Why are mine so jacked?) So we measured the width of the gaps and created fillers from the scrap wood. See...told ya' you might need 'em.

*Note: Some of these steps may seem obvious to some readers, but I promise you, there are some out there that it's harder to see a picture and understand what just happened. I'm trying to make this as spelled-out as possible for those that need more instruction. ;)

It's starting to come together, right?? But here's another point I want to make. This took all weekend.  Oh! Oh oh! Aaaannnd...the kids were with the grandparents!!! Exactly, so that should give you a sense of how time-consuming this sucker is. And we haven't even busted out the sander yet.
Okay, so repeat that process again to create the second row of cubby holes and you're finished with the saw. Except I wasn't. I have about three more projects lined up for this cheap lumber and wanted to get them all cut while I had the machinery out. And since hubby decided that sawing things with sharp blades is a "man's job", mama didn't get her chance to be a badass. So Monday morning, while Shea was at work, I broke out the saw and got to work.

Safety first, kiddies!

Yee-haw! I'm ready to start sanding! I personally like the rough, weathered, and worn look, especially for my son's room which has a nostalgic Norman Rockwell theme. I sanded all the surfaces I could with an orbital sander. If you buy one of these, just go ahead and buy a replacement pack of paper to go with it because the pallets eat them for lunch. I chose 80 grade, which is pretty course. I didn't know what that meant until Bill at Home Depot explained it to me. Thanks, Bill!

But I also needed to do some by hand. Luckily I had this little gadget by Rubbermaid. Not 100% necessary, but hey, if you already got it, use it.

As I mentioned before, this is for a kid's room, so I focused a lot of my attention on the exposed corners and what I decided was the top pallet. I removed all splintery edges and made the top smooth enough so that I could run my hand over it without impaling myself.

Alright, next is the stain. The OP used a polyurethane coat and added stain to it. That just didn't seem fool-proof to me, so I sprung for the "already-mixed-up kind".  By the way, if you ask a guy at Home Depot for the "already-mixed-up kind of poly", he'll know what you're talking about. They speak Girl there, too. Such professionals!

I chose the Antique Walnut finish. Honestly it was a little red for my tastes but it all worked out. Also, go ahead and spring for a plastic drop cloth; your driveway will thank you. And don't forget the mineral spirits to clean your brushes.

The staining process in itself was a drawn out task since you can only do one side at a time and it takes six hours for each coat to dry. So plan for down time. Speaking of the process, I'll put it to you straight:  all your hard work can result in shoddy-looking craftmanship because of a bad stain job. If you've never stained wood before, I suggest practicing on some of that scrap wood first. It's not just like BAM! once you put it on there there's no way to fix it, but there is verrry little room for error. Be careful of those pesky runs on the underneath part of the wood. If you're getting a lot of them then you're putting too much stain on your brush. And be careful of unecessary brush strokes. Every time you touch brush to wood, it will get darker and darker, resulting in uneven color. I'm speaking from experience because the first few boards I did were u-g-l-y.  Thank goodness I started with the bottom pallet. I applied two coats to each piece.

Woohoo! You're donesville! Now you just need the hardware to keep it all together. The T-brackets suggested in the OP just wouldn't work for my configuration. The ones I got came in three different sizes. Save yourself a trip or three to Home Depot and just go ahead and get a bunch of 'em while you're there and then take the uneeded ones back. (I swear I made four trips to the store that day.) I ended up using eight of the medium-sized brackets - four on the front and four on the back- and then a four-pack of the other brackets- two for each end.

You will need a drill for the screws as well. It really doesn't matter where or how you put them as long as you like the look of them and they secure all components together smartly.  


You have yourself a fetching new chest!!!

Now, you can fill it with a few decorative baskets or if you can find some to fit, those collapsible storage bins. I wanted two smaller boxes in each of the top cubbies and larger in the bottom.  I suggest measuring your openings and then allowing for discrepancies in the wood, i.e. bulging and warped parts that would make for low-clearance in places. Or you could do what the hubs recommended and buy your baskets/boxes first and then make your pallet chest to fit, but things don't always work out that way. In the end, I couldn't bring myself to spend another dime on this "cheap" project so I ended up making the boxes myself. But I'll save that for next time because this is already the longest post ever. ;)

In a Nutshell:

What I did differently:
1. Pallets were different, so cuts and configuration were different
2. Made only two rows of cubbies instead of three
3. Got the poly/stain combo instead of mixing
4. Changed the brackets to suit my needs

1. Ask local hardware stores if they throw out pallets and, if so, what their trash day is. Get yourself a FREE pallet, trash-digger!
2. If you're going for free/cheap projects, unless you have the tools already or know someone that does, the cost can add up quickly. Do a quick inventory before you start to determine what you have and what you need. You can also rent tools at hardware stores.
3. If you're not sure what to ask for at the hardware store, take a picture of it with your phone and show it to the salesman. I've learned that's a whole lot easier than trying to explain "you know, that one thingy that has the thing around it".
4. If you're a sawing virgin, do a couple of cuts on the scrap wood and by all means, pleeease don't lose any fingers! Likewise with the stain.
5. Seriously, don't start this project unless you can stand to leave it unfinished for periods of time or unless the kids are out of town for a few days, because it's a doozy!!! There's NO WAY I could have finished this if I had to play Mommy at the same time.

Total Cost:
Pallets: $4
Saw: $50
Sander: $40
Sanding paper replacements: $8
Poly/stain: $12
Hardware: $18
Brushes/dropcloth: $6           
Grand Total: $140 (even though I'm counting the saw and sander as an investment)

Bottom Line: I drastically underestimated the time and money it took to complete this project and didn't anticipate the guesswork involved, but I'm happy with the end results.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

As Seen On Pinterest: Spinach Lasagna Rolls by Fer Fer

Greetings, readers! I'm so so so excited to have my first guest blogger today! This lady is a dear friend of mine. We go alllll the way back to 2009 when I walked up into her front yard and introduced myself.  And we've been bosom buddies ever since.

   Well, on top of being a great friend, she is also pretty handy in the kitchen. And while I give her a hard time about the sparseness of her other Pinterest boards, this girl's Recipe Board will put any cookbook to shame.  So it only made sense to ask her to write about one of her Pinterest-inspired dishes while I'm wrapping up a couple of projects of my own. Take it away, Fer Fer!


Hello to all of you Carli's blog lovers out there!  My name is Jennifer, and Carli kindly asked if I would be willing to contribute a food recipe portion to her blog page. And since I have been a doting friend of hers for the past three years, I couldn't find a reason to say no.  Could her asking me have something  to do with the fact that I have hundreds of food pins and maybe five random other pins on pinterest?? Perhaps.  So bare with me, for this is the first organized thing I have done in, hummmm well.... a long time.  Enjoy!

I am making Spinach Lasagna Rolls. I have found several recipes for them on pinterest but this one looked the easiest, yummiest, and healthiest.   Here is the original recipe and you can find the OP here.

  • 9 lasagna noodles
  • 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and completely drained
  • 15 oz. fat free ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan
  • 1 egg
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • 32 oz. tomato sauce
  • 9 tbs. (about 3 oz.) part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

First things first, boil the water and give it a good helping of salt. I also add a little extra virgin olive oil to mine so the noodles don't stick together. Once the water reaches a boil throw in your lasagna noodles. I added more than 9 noodles because I thought my dish would hold more than that and I was right. I got 10 rolls to fit in mine. Hey, the more the merrier! I think I actually put 11 or 12 noodles total into the boiling water though, because I was afraid I would have some tear when I took them out but luckily I didn't. Guess the EVOO helped.  And, as you can see not all of them fit in the water at first but as they cook they slowly slide down into the pot.  So don't panic, I already did it for you and it was okay. Whew!

Next dump the ricotta cheese, spinach, parmesan cheese, egg, and salt and pepper in a bowl and mix it all together.  If you wanted to, you could even add a little minced garlic or garlic salt here. Hummm, I think I'll do that next time actually.  That sounds pretty good. It will look like this:



Once the noodles are cooked to your own liking, (you know, al dente or otherwise) drain the water and then place the noodles onto some wax paper. They will be very hot still so I used some tongs to help me out here.

Next spoon about 1/3 cup of the cheese and spinach mixture onto each noodle and spread evenly all the way down.

 Next I open one jar of spaghetti sauce and lightly cover the bottom of the baking dish.  Just enough so I can no longer see the bottom of the dish. This gives the rolls a cozy little bed of sauce to make nice with. Now carefully roll them up and place them seam side down in baking dish.   

Ooohh...lookin' good already!

Now I take the rest of the opened jar of spaghetti sauce and pour it over the rolls and then repeat this process with at least 1/2 of the other jar of spaghetti sauce. Add however much sauce you like. The whole jar even if you're really feeling "saucy"!

 We are almost there! Finally top each roll with the shredded mozzarella cheese. Again, add as much as you like. I went for it and added the whole block. I got the kind you shred yourself but the pre-shredded stuff that comes in the bag will do the trick too.
Finally, bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees.

When it's all done it will look like this: 


 I served mine with a summer vegetable mix and of course, lots and lots of garlic bread. So good!  It was so hearty that my husband, the ultimate carnivore, didn't even ask "where's the meat". Ahhh, success!!! Enjoy!

In a nutshell...

What I did differently:
1. I used 10 or 12 noodles just in case some of them tore
2. Couldn't find fat-free ricotta so I used part-skim
3. I used two jars of tomato sauce - one for the dish and one for dipping ;)
4. Ended up using the whole 8 oz. block of mozzarella. Oopsie.

1. Add a little EVOO to your water when boiling noodles to alleviate stickiness
2. Don't be afraid to change the recipe to suit your family and tastes

Bottom Line: Sooo good and tasty with relatively little prep. I will be adding this into my meal plan rotation!


I will be too! Thanks, Fer Fer, for the great pics and taking the time to write for this is me, now.  Tell us what you think! Leave a comment on your way out please. And thanks for stopping by!

**Note: For those wondering (ahem, Auntie Wobin) I have been busting my tail trying to finish my "cheap" wooden pallet project and have been studiously taking notes and pics of the whole process. I promise, promise, promise it will be worth the wait cuz that little gem was a doozy! 

Come again soon to see the results!

Friday, July 20, 2012

As Seen on Pinterest: 10 Habits of a Well-run Home

Hello there, friends! You are joining the blog from a "Well-Run" home already in progress. Ha!!  Okay, as I mentioned in my PP, I am testing this post titled "10 Habits for a Well-Run Home" from The Stressed Mom blog. 

Up to date, I wouldn't say I have any habits that constitute a "well-run home". Most days I feel like I'm flying by the seat of my pants, throwing things in a bag (if I can find them) for the kids on our way at the door, while yelling at them to hurry up and get in the car.  On the days that we are at home, I don't have any form of structure in place for what should be done on a daily basis. I just kinda take a look around the house and decide what I should work on. The down-side of this, and anyone with ADD can tell you, is if I look around and see that there are just toooo many things I need to do, I get overwhelmed, give up, and, well, go piddle on Pinterest instead.

Enter "10 Habits".  I've been jonesing to try this one for a while. But just like any diet, I tell myself I will start on Monday. Then Monday rolls around and....see where I'm going with this?

So the OP does say not to tackle all 10 of them at the same time, to start slowly and adopt a few at a time.  Listed below is the abbreviated list. You can see the full description of each item on the OP.

1. Wake up early
2. Go to bed early
3. Evening Preparations
4. Institute meal-planning
5. Do one complete load of laundry a day
6. Do all dishes before bed
7. Daily 5-minute cleaning of bathrooms
8. Tidy Up
9. Incorporate a bedtime routine
10. Don't agree immediately to new requests

Okay, at first glance all of these look do-able, except maybe the load of laundry a day part.  I thought, 'I got this! Gimme ten, baby!'  But I gotta tell you, I failed. I failed miserably.  These may look like insignificant tasks, but to an unmedicated ADD sufferer like myself, these are, well, significant! 

I'll just go down the list. Waking/go to be early I did three of the 6 days. One was on purpose, the other two was because I had to go to work and it actually does make for a less stressful morning to get up early.

Eek. Evening prep and meal planning was a straight up no-go. My evening prep entailed thinking about what I had to do the next day. And meal planning? Well, I made sure I got enough groceries for meals for two weeks but as far as saying, "Tuesday, we're having meatloaf,"....nope. It's something about the structure of it. I feel trapped by meal planning. I like to be surprised by dinner not know two weeks in advance what I'll be eating every single day. I'm just spontaneous like that. ;)

While I knew from day 1 that daily laundry wasn't going to happen, I did make an effort to have all the dishes done before bed. Yes, it's frustrating when I'm tired and just want to plop down with a book, but the payoff is big the next day.

For the last four items on the list, the only one that I really made an effort to change was #8 - Tidy Up. In fact, the OP uses the old adage, "A place for everything, and everything in its place." Well, firstly, none of my crap has its own place. Secondly, it's like a mom overheard at the zoo last week said, "Cleaning the house while the kids are home is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos."  Right?! Man, I wish I could give that woman credit, wherever she is, because that is the truest. statement. EVER! But it's hard to stay mad at these little darlings for long...

So while I worked on the daily habits, I also worked on some organization. I cleaned out my junk drawer (we all have one, admit it), created dedicated kids' stations in the hall storage cabinets such as an art cabinet, reading cabinet, and loose toy cabinet (no more eyesore toy bag in the living room!). I also bought a bin and hanging files for storing the kids' artwork from school. You can find the inspiration for that, as well as free printables, HERE.

 10 Habits of a Well-Run Home, yep, I bet if any woman were able to adopt all ten habits, then hell yeah it would be a "well-run home" but quite frankly, for this recovering ADD mom, I failed miserably. If I'm being really honest here, I hesitated to submit this entry because the fault of said failure lies with the author, not the OP. 

Bottom Line:  I think any 10 habits that you find makes your home run better, if done routinely as suggested, is worth the time. Just find what works for you and your family and stick with them. ;)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

How to Decorate Your Mantel - As Seen on Pinterest

Hello, friends.  How do you like my new digs? I've spent the last several days trying to spruce up the place.  After much Googling, I found a few sites that helped me with the remodel.  You can find the designs I used here and here. Gotta take care of those credits, folks. There'll be NO plagiarism up in here!

So in keeping with the remodeling theme, I decided to highlight one of my most recent Pinterest-inspired decor ideas. While I've seen a million of them there, this one was fairly simple and cheap - it cost me literally nothing! Even better!

First, I want to introduce you to a term my dear friend Jennifer introduced to me: Refluff. It's where you take stuff you currently have in your house and find new places for it to make it work and give different spaces mini-makeovers. Apparently there are people you can pay to do this for you and after some more Googling (I <3 Googling, can you tell?), alas I did not find any of these services to link up here for you.  But this is the theory behind the Pin I will mention today.

Project 1:  How to Decorate Your Mantel

We've all seen 'em.  You walk into someone's house and think, wow, that mantel looks nice! You can't quite put your finger on what sets it apart from the average joe mantel and makes it look professional. Well, this Pin explains it and provides a lovely diagram! 

Looks simple right?  The OP's website goes into detail about the visual elements and techniques involved and why they work.  But I won't go into all that here.

Here are the results. And yes, the little monkey girl in the corner is my pretty girl, Mia. She just loves a good photo op!

Again, I didn't go buy anything for this project, I just used what was already on the mantel and few other things that were stuffed under my bed. See? Glad I kept them! ;)  My problem with mantels, and really a lot of other similar spaces, is that I always tend to make the space symmetrical and end up with a "bookend" effect.  And I certainly woudn't have thought of layering items. The only thing I'm not 100% satisfied with is the "visual height" piece on the right. I would like something a little taller, but that would've involved a trip to Hobby Lobby. Here's a close-up photo:

  It might not look exactly professional, but I think it's a vast improvement.  Although when I asked hubby what he thought of the changes, not telling him exactly what the changes were, he said, "Everything looks the same to me." 

Eh, oh well.  Can't win 'em all.

~Craft on!

Editor's note:  Next week I will start a week-long series on an OP called "10 Habits for a Well-Run Home".  I will check in throughout the week with progress and give a full run-down at the end of the week. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Pardon Me....

....while I put my face on. That's what my Meenie would say when she went to put on her make-up. In other words, I'm trying to dress this place up but I don't know what I'm doing so it's gonna be ugly 'round here for a while.

Thanks for stopping in!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

New Direction

Hey folks. It's me. Your long-lost ADD, mom-in-angst, crazy, impulsive, grieving, (let's see what other titles have I inadvertantly given myself?), scatter-brained, overweight girl next door.  I've spent the last several months telling my stories and describing the person I've become.  And while some days I don't think I could have survived the day without jotting down my thoughts, I'm pretty sure I've exhausted the "self-discovery" portion of this blog. So....on to bigger and better things! 

     Well, over the past few months I've been Pinning my little heart out and slowly but surely I have actually done a few of them!  Some of them have gone smoothly and turned out more or less like the professionally staged/photographed example. And then others that started off with, "Hey, that looks easy. I could do that," have gone horribly awry. So I'm going to document my progress here.
     Okay, the only setback to this is that I have decided this retrospectively.  Translation: I already did 'em and didn't take pictures. So I will have to just recall the process for these and post pics of the finished products. From now on, though, I SWEAR (puts hand over heart) that I will include pictures of the process as well as finished products. Good.

      With summer free time, I've managed to complete a few from my wish list. This being one of them:

It's hard to tell from this sub-par photo, but this is book paper decoupaged onto a canvas. Here is the inspiration for this project. But, aside from the wording variation, I also used a few different techniques.

Here are the steps:
1. First I decoupaged old book pages onto a bargain canvas (seriously, if you ever find an ugly old painting some high schooler has done and now is being shamelessly sold in a garage sale by his mom for dirt cheap, swipe it. You neeever know when it will come in handy.)  Here's the first variance from the original pin. She suggested hot glueing the pages "for texture" but I wanted a more finished product. And plus, I'm somewhat of a modpodge wiz.
2. Next, on a regular piece of printer paper, I did a rough draft of how I wanted to letters to look. I went for the irregular pattern associated with subway art. The original pin had both right and left aligned text, which were also pretty cool. 
3. Then I roughly measured the height of my letters, accounted for spacing, and used a ruler to draw lines across with pencil (make sure it's with pencil so you can erase any lines that show up where your letters are) to make sure my letters were nice and level. Nothing makes a project look amateur like wonky lettering.
4. Then I just started plugging away, placing letters to form the text. I used the same vinyl letters recommended in the tutorial and was really happy with them since you can reposition them to get them just right. You may find you don't enough letters to do the entire project. At which point you have two options: go buy more letters or paint over the letters in parts (which is what I did b/c I'm cheap and lazy like that).
5. Now for the paint. The tutorial called for spray painting. Hmmm....while this is a good option if you have no notion how to use a paint brush or just don't want to mess with it, but again, I wanted a more finished looking product and I already had the paint I needed. I used cheap acrylic paint from Hobby Lobby. Before you paint, recheck that all edges of your letters are firmly pressed down so you will have clean lines. Then just start painting. It will probably take two coats. On my second coat I added a little tan colored paint and faded in here and there so it was so stinkin' purple and to give it texture. Repeat process until entire canvas is covered.
Tip: If you are doing your lettering in parts, as mentioned earlier, make sure you don't paint over the areas where you will place subsequent letters. Trust me, I did it. I was erked. To fix it, I just decoupaged a piece of paper back over the spot.
6. Remove letters. Easy.
7. Lastly, I added a few doo-dads. I wanted a few fillers to give detail. So I used the same tan acrylic paint I used earlier. To do this, just look at your piece and decide if any area just feels like it's missing something. If not, leave 'er alone.

I should mention, you can use just about any flat piece of wood or metal for this project, as pictured below.  As long as it can hang on a wall, use it. Hate that metal sign you got for your wedding shower?  Repurpose that sucker. If it doesn't have hangers, use this tutorial.
Using the same technique as the other sign, I made this ironic little sign to fill the space between the commode and my cabinet. I giggle every time I "go".

Stick a fork in it, you're done!  Really it was pretty simple. I didn't stray too far from the original but mine is a good example of how two people can have totally different outcomes using the same tutorial.  Mine is now hanging nicely in the hall bathroom and I enjoy seeing things I've made around the house. I take so much more pride in them than something I've bought in a store. Hope this inspires you to create your own variation!  Craft on!