Flea market finds

So, I mentioned that the Fleaology flea market was coming up HERE and I'm back to report a successful trip. My sister in law came with me and we went to several yard sales on the way home, as well. It's the first time I've been this whole summer. Gasp. I can't believe a whole summer of garage sales got away from me.

Here's the goodies:
{All these were a buck a piece and that ring is already one of my favorites ever.}

{These bookends are HEAVY, like solid brass heavy. They're also weird and I love it.}

{"Flair Squares," right? I don't know what I'll do with these, but I have 4 packages.}

{The newest scarf in my collection. I just love a '70's scarf, what can I say?}

{My new DIY Christmas ornaments. I'm going to hang the candy cane upside down so it's a J for Johnson.}

{This frame caught my eye and it wasn't until after that I noticed it was a peacock. See my other thrifted peacocks HERE. Now I think I'll keep the doily in it and just switch out the maroon velvet for...something.}

{This little hankie is going to be a pillow.}

{Vintage floral pillowcase! Hooray! It'll go into the quilt I'm gathering fabric for for Eleanor.}

{I found this little Utah cross stitch irresistible. I'm going to leave it exactly as-is and hang it on a gallery wall.}


My first quilt

This is kind of embarrassing. Remember my first quilt? My only quilt thus far? It's this one. Be sure to check the date on that post. Yeah. Over 3 years ago is when I finished the quilt top. It was a present for my friend's daughter, who is now 3 and has a little sister. Sooooo...yeah. I finally got it done. Hooray!
This is the back- it's the only picture I took. There's a patchwork strip with a border and an applique in the bottom corner. I actually like the back better than the front, which helped me realize I really love more modern quilt designs. The traditional ones are beautiful and I still love them, but there's something about the modern ones that just makes me want to make one. So I am. So expect another post like this in about 3 years. 


Giant script name

I had a clean slate after I finished painting Eleanor's room. It was great. I had taken down everything and I planned on nothing going back up for a little while, until I could think about things. I knew I wanted her name up on the wall somewhere, but I didn't really want to go with anything that was out there already. Then, one day, inspiration hit. I realized I wanted to cut out her name in some kind of script font in one big piece and hang bunting behind it. I really don't even know what made me think of it, but I went for it.

First, I had to think about how to get a template. I ruled out free-handing it almost immediately since I wanted it to be script and I just don't have the skills to do that, especially since there were 2 of the same letter (I figured being consistent would be a big problem). I thought about using an overhead projector and asked on facebook if anyone knew where I could get one. There were some ideas, but then a friend offered to print it on a large format printer, so that was taken care of. If that's not an option for you, I'm betting there's a way to print something that big in pieces using Photoshop or Illustrator or their free counterparts, Gimp and Inkscape.

The total size of the template was about four feet across and eighteen inches high (give or take). I taped it up in place to see how it looked and I loved it. 

Once I confirmed that the template was the right size, I took it down and taped it to my 3/8" thick mdf and traced it, then removed it. Handy tip: use a yardstick or other straight edge to correct any tracing mistakes made on a straight line.

 Then I jigsawed it out. The employee who helped me at Home Depot gave me another really great tip- he recommended laying my board on top of a thick sheet of styrofoam laying on the floor and cutting through both. I'm so glad I bought that styrofoam. Trying to maneuver this big sheet around on sawhorses and supporting the parts I had cut out would have been a real pain. Plus, now I have this styrofoam for all my jigsawing needs.

Another tip: make sure you get a jigsaw blade for cutting curves. They're daintier than ones that are for mostly straight lines and it really makes a difference with how sharply you can turn.

After it was cut, I used my Dremel with a coarse sanding drum to smooth out any rough spots around the edges, then sanded it lightly by hand. Finally it was just priming and painting and I was done!

Except for hanging it. I used these: 

and a laser level to make sure it was hung nice and straight.

And then...

Ta-da! I love it a lot.


Eleanor's room- in progress. Plus, my favorite flea market!

It's been awhile. We've been busy over here, with summer playing and family coming into town and working on the yard- good stuff. As of late I've been getting back on the DIY wagon and it's kind of like, "oh yeah, I love doing this stuff!"

Eleanor turns two on Sunday and I thought as a birthday gift for her I'd paint her room. Also, I wanted to paint her room. I had this mood board (it's the last one in the post) for her and I was finally not sick of painting anymore (after doing the basement by myself, I wasn't really chomping at the bit these last months), so I picked a color and went for it. I used this room by Emily Henderson as some inspiration, too, because she is just the bee's knees. Thanks to pictures of that room, I went a lot brighter/happier with the wall color than I had planned and I do not regret it.

So here's Eleanor's room, post paint but pre everything else:
It's been hard for me to get an accurate picture of the paint color. It's called Teal Ice and is by Behr (when I sent Mike to get another gallon, he told me the paint mixing guy said, "Now that sounds like a Pinterest color!"). It's a bit brighter and a touch greener in real life. I totally love it.  And I'm so excited about the other stuff I'm planning for this room. EXCITED.

Now, about my favorite flea market. It's called fleaology and their blog is HERE- I may have mentioned them before, like here and here. Anyway, I'm going again at the end of the month- I'm even delaying leaving on a camping trip because I refuse to miss it (I missed the last one because Mike was out of town and life was crazy). I'm so excited- I'm going to be scouting out textiles, jewelery, and all the awesome home stuff. Huzzah!


My grown-up rock collection

This is possibly my new favorite art. I know I said that just yesterday about the Fancy Nancy thing, but I've wanted to do this for YEARS now and it's finally done. It feels good.

Hold onto your butts (Jurassic Park, anyone?) because here it is:
{The sample I had for the upper left frame was just a tad too big, so I have to decide what to put there instead.}

It's rocks in shadow boxes! Hence calling it my grown up rock collection.

A bit of background- I got my bachelor's degree and did my graduate work in geology and I LOVE it. Seriously, it is so cool. I even worked at a nearby university for a couple years, teaching the intro to geology course as an adjunct instructor. Because I've been a geologist for so many years, I have a giant rock collection. Just tons and tons of rocks. When I was first married I kept the best ones out on a side table dedicated solely to rock displaying, but then we had our first little one and they got packed away.

As I mentioned before, I've wanted to do this for a long time. Even before we had drywall up, I had this section of wall earmarked for the rock collection and just a few days after the basement was completely finished I had the shadow boxes I had up and ready to roll, with the 4 remaining spaces being reserved with pieces of paper cut to the right size. On Monday I finally got to IKEA and bought the last frames I needed (the Ribba 10" shadow boxes, online here).

Here's how the rocks are mounted:

I took the chipboard frame backing and folded a piece of normal, 8.5" by 11" cardstock over it. I thought about painting the frame backing or cutting out cardboard and painting it white and gluing the rocks to that, but this was much easier and should hold up well.

Then I used the hanger clip to hold the paper in place. Easy. 

{Sorry it's blurry. Nighttime photos, right?}
 Then I flipped the mats around (the mats that come with the Ribba frames were a little bit off-white, but the back is as white as the cardstock I was using), centered the rock inside of it, on top of the cardstock, and just used hot glue to stick it there. Since the cardstock wasn't secured to the backing except for that little clip at the top, the whole thing was kind of floppy until I got the frame all put back together. And now they're all fine. And awesome.

{Don't mind the distracting surround sound wiring- that's going to get moved up by the ceiling and out of my way.}
 Here are some close ups of my favorite samples:


And since the scientist in me just can't resist, from the top left and going clockwise, it's kyanite, muscovite, rhyolite (some people call this variety "wonderstone" because of the banding) and a quartz geode.

Another cool thing- I didn't have nice slabs of all of these, until I thought of it while we were renting the tile saw for the downstairs bathroom. After we were done with the tile, I had a little fun with all my samples.

I did one other thing before I mounted them, too. A fresh cut surface of rock is very dull compared to polished rocks, but I didn't have any plausible way to polish these (in a lab I'd use a series of finer and finer abrasives on different lapidary wheels) until I realized that I could use baby oil for a fake polishing effect:

{Before and after, of course}
Anyway, I couldn't be more pleased with my grown up rock collection.


My new favorite art

I love having something a little different in picture frames, instead of all family photos all the time. I have my fair share of those, of course (I do love looking at my family's faces, after all), but it's always kind of a fun surprise having something different in a frame. Prints are great, but they add up, so finding cheap and large art that's not a photo can be tricky sometimes.

Without further ado, here's my new favorite art:

It's a book jacket! I hate book jackets (especially on kid's books) but I also hate throwing them away. This was totally a light bulb kind of moment and I still kind of feel like a genius. My daughter LOVES Fancy Nancy (it's been a Fancy Nancy for her bedtime book for months now) and this is, of course, in her room. She thought it was a pretty great idea, too.

Here's the 'tails (if you don't know what I mean by 'tails, you need to watch more Parks and Rec) :
 *I didn't cut the back of the book jacket off, I just creased it flat.
*Since the book had that cute little border on it, I attached it to the front of the mat instead of behind it.


Used furniture is the best kind of furniture

So, I've been looking for a few different things on KSL (a local classifieds) and craig's list for some time. Since before our basement was finished, at least. Anyway, I finally got a great deal on a white mid-century dresser to use in our living room! And just a few days later, I found an awesome industrial-ish old metal desk to use for my sewing table! Huzzah! I should hurry and do some more thrifting before my luck runs out. Anyway, here they are:

Do you see that giant pile of junk off to the right? That's not even half of what I had to move to make room for this desk. Oh man. 


Indoor cat door

This may seem like a weird thing to some people (or maybe an obvious thing, I don't know), but putting a cat door on our storage room door was genius.

To explain, when our basement was unfinished, Danger (the cat) could just run downstairs to get to her litter box and her food and water. We had a door at the top of the stairs with a chain lock on it, so I would keep that on but the door open and Danger could slip through that little 6 inch gap and my daughters could not. Our stairs looked like this,
{These are some freaky steep stairs, folks.}
so it was really important to make them inaccessible to our toddler.

Well, I started thinking about how I would handle the littler box and the cat food as we got closer and closer to finishing and one day it occurred to me that we could just put a cat door on the storage room door to cut off toddler access to those things (Eleanor is still 2 or 3 inches away from being able to get an actual grip on the door knob, so a closed door will be enough of a deterrent for awhile yet). I wouldn't have to worry about having the door open for Danger and closed for Eleanor. Brilliant!

The installation was very straight forward and simple. I followed the instructions that came with the cat door we got (it was this one) and basically just found the center of the door, traced the shape of the cat door so it would be centered, then cut it out with a jig saw and screwed the door in. So simple.

My jigsaw lines weren't perfect, but the cat door has that little casing bit that covered them up. I'd do a whole hallway shot, but right now the hall leading up to this door is so full of junk that if I backed up much farther the cat door would be obscured by boxes. Hooray!

So, now that I've shared my genius plan, what do you think? Would you have cut a big ol' hole in your brand new door? 


Done gone painted my rug

Last year I tried to find the rug I wanted for about 6 months. I never really did, but I did have a thought- what if I got a carpet remnant bound and then painted it? I could get exactly what I wanted, in the colors I wanted. I immediately got a rug after that. I went to a local carpet warehouse and talked to them about what I was going to do and got some good input, as well as a great deal on a remnant. They bound it for me and my total cost was about $250 for a 9' by 12' rug. Such an amazing deal for a rug that size, even if it was just plain grey. They even gave me several largish scraps for free so I could try some different painting methods out.

I've thought about what I wanted to do with it for about 6 months. I wanted to bring in some green and some blue as well as cream, but I really couldn't decide on a pattern. I thought about something floral, but ruled it out because I kind of wanted something less traditional and lots of fun. I thought about something geometric and that really appealed to me because it would be simple and still look really nice. I had lots of ideas, but nothing I actually wanted to commit to (obviously, since the rug was blank for 6 months).

Then, just a few weeks ago, it hit me. FAUX BOIS. That's French for "fake wood," pretty much. I've seen it around a lot lately, like this quilt here and this post at Design Sponge. I absolutely loved it here, when Mandy painted a floor. But even then it didn't occur to me as a rug design. Then it hit me (it was totally a cartoon light bulb kind of moment) and a few days later I got to it.

Before I started, though, I decided to search "faux bois rugs" and some awesome stuff popped up. I liked this one a ton and decided that's what I'd go for. A few hours of painting and here it is:
 I pretty much love it. I free handed it all and just went with whatever. It worked ok, but in retrospect I do wish I'd planned a little more, maybe by making a template and then marking the rug with a grid using painter's tape. Even with all the little weird bits, I still love it.
I also love this effect:

 Because of how the living room is lit, as you walk in the pattern looks very subtle. You almost don't notice it. Then you sit down on the couch and it's like BAM!

Here's how I painted my medium pile rug without making it all crusty and unpleasant to the touch. Before I perfected my method, I experimented with both latex and acrylic paints, mixing in different things, applying it different ways, and post application treatments. I could have kept experimenting, but I found one that worked and I was out of carpet scraps to experiment on so I stuck with it.

These were my materials:

Acrylic paint, textile medium, water, sponge brush, PAPER TOWELS, and a stiff bristle scrub brush. Nothing too crazy, right?

1.  I mixed the paint and textile medium as per the instructions on the textile medium bottle, which I believe were to mix 2 parts paint to one part medium.

2.  Then to that mix I added some water. I always just eyeballed it, but I would guess it was about 4 parts paint mix to 1 part water. Give or take.

3.  Then I painted. Every 4-5 feet I would stop and take some slightly damp paper towels and scrub over the line(s) I had painted. I did that to take up excess paint and to spread around any uneven bits my brush had left. THIS STEP IS THE VERY MOST IMPORTANT ONE. Seriously, scrub and scrub with those paper towels. Also make sure you're following your lines as you scrub so you don't spread paint to parts that aren't supposed to be painted. I think I used a whole roll of paper towels for my rug.

4.  Then you let it all dry overnight. It will be at least a little stiff the next morning. Some parts might feel pretty bad, even. Don't despair, though!

5.  This is what the stiff bristle brush is for. You have to get down on your knees and scrub the lines and break those little paint covered carpet fibers apart. I thought I'd have to go over everything, but after some very thorough vacuuming there were only a few parts that needed extra attention.

And there you have it- a painted rug that's not flat woven and is still soft and awesome. The possibilities with this are endless- what if you wrote lyrics to a favorite song or words to a favorite poem on a rug (you could use a washable marker to write things out first, then trace over with the paint)? I don't think I'm finished painting this one yet, I've got the urge to add more color already.

PS- That rug I liked to above is almost a thousand bucks and is an 8'x10'. Mine was $260 ($250 for the rug, $10 in materials) and is a 9'x12'. I feel pretty good about that.


A most excellent egg hunt birthday

My big girl, Mim, turned 4 on April Fool's Day (such an awesome birthday). It was the day after Easter, so we decided to have a big Easter eggs hunt as part of it. We have a pretty big piece of property (that feels even bigger than it is because our bitty house is just in one little corner of it) and I've always wanted to host a big neighborhood Easter egg hunt. There was one just up the street from me when I was growing up and I LOVED going there every year. Anyway, I was thinking of this as a step up to that. We've done cousin ones for the last 2 years (that were also part of Mim's birthday celebration) that I kind of considered a warm up to this one. Baby steps.

Mim wanted to invite her preschool friends and her church class, which are about 14 and 10 kids, respectively. And the cousins that were her age, which was another 3 kids. I was like, "Sure, why not? If we invite that many, it'll probably be about a dozen that show up." I was very wrong. We had about 2 dozen kids that came. Apparently the 60% attendance rule does not apply to kids. Good thing I'm a paranoid over-preparer and we had just enough of everything.

So, the first thing the kids did as they got there was decorate their Easter "baskets."

I set up a few tables in our living room (after I rolled back the rug) and scattered supplies down the center, thusly:

I tried to give them a really wide variety of stuff to work with because I wanted this activity to last for a bit so everyone would have time to show up. They had pom poms, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, cut out shapes (including but not limited to: dinosaurs, butterflies, super heroes, flowers, stick figures, lobsters, fish, and animals) and tape and glue sticks and SOOOO many stickers and NO GLITTER. I'm not insane.
{Around $20 of dollar store stickers- I planned on having extra and I needed to restock the girls' sticker supply anyway.}
After they finished their bags I gave them all one balloon in their requested color. They chose one sticker to put on it and then we wrote their names and threw it downstairs. More on that later.
{Some of the finished bags. We had them wait in the kitchen while we rounded everyone up and put shoes on- it was pretty crazy.}
Then it was time for the big hunt. There were over 200 eggs, so even though we had many more kids than I expected it still worked out just fine. I told them to stop when they had 10 eggs and help somebody else. That kind of worked. My sweet niece got a bunch of eggs, then came up and showed me, asking "Is this more than 10?" It was about 20. I told her it was a lot more and she totally started re-hiding some and I sent the kids with only a few eggs to follow her around and gather them up.

{Almost everyone.}
We came back in and did presents and then cupcakes- the cupcakes were rainbows with clouds on top.
{Don't mind the tupperware lid serving platter. My husband is a problem solver, what can I say?}
The rainbow cupcake idea came from here (if you follow the link you can see that I obviously didn't care to much about actually layering them- I just plopped in all the different colors and let things happen), but the marshmellows on top were my idea. Anyway, the cupcakes were a big hit with the kids and I decided to not even bother with the ice cream I had bought for the occasion.

After they finished their cupcakes they got to go downstairs and find the balloon they had put their one special sticker on. The twist was that there were 130 balloons downstairs in the family room and we had mixed the marked ones up with those. When they found their balloon they took it to Mike and got a little prize, then they got to play in the balloons some more.

I can not describe 20+ kids amongst 130 or so balloons. It was amazing and loud and crazy. I just let them run amok for the last 10 minutes or so until parents came and picked them up.

It was my first party for my girl and I am marking it down as an awesome success. It was happy faces all around. There are a few things that I think were crucial to making the party work and having be as low stress as possible for me:

1. Preparation. Duh. This is true about anything. I did most things as far in advance as I could, like rolling back the rug and setting up the tables the night before, making all the decorations earlier in the week, buying most things early in the week, and making the cupcakes 2 nights before. Most of the egg stuffing happened earlier in the week, as well.

2. Helpers. I had two of my sister in laws there helping as well as my husband and my little brother. My little brother and his wife totally saved my butt the morning of- I hadn't found plain white or brown gift bags at any of the other stops I'd made (or had my husband make) and so planned on getting them the morning of the party. That all kind of fell apart so I called them in a panic to see if they could get them and they came through in a big way. They even brought chairs, since Mike was delayed on his errand and couldn't pick up the ones he'd planned to. My sweet neighbor also saved me in the chair department. I went over there in the morning when I realized Mike couldn't get the chairs and she sent me home with her kitchen table bench. Love her.

3. Keeping it simple. We only had three activities in the whole hour and a half. Decorating bags, Easter egg hunt, and balloon finding. I had some other backups in case things didn't take as long as I thought they would, like letting them all feed the chickens and a few balloon games, but we didn't need them.

Here's a few more shots of the party fun, since I feel like I've kept it reasonable so far:

{They couldn't wait to dive in}

{So many helpers with her presents.}

 That's how the party was, here's what I actually did:
First, rainbow streamers and tissue paper cloud pom poms every where:

 Second, a basement filled with balloons (I really recommend using an air compressor to blow them all up):

 The picture on the left is 130 balloons, which I thought sounded like a ton, but in reality it was much sparser than I had envisioned. For Mim's actual birthday, Mike bought over 200 more balloons that we blew up the night before. It was much more like what I had mentally pictured and Miriam was just delighted when she woke up on her birthday and saw how many balloons there were. Simple and fun and hours of entertainment.

Third, (and no pictures, sorry) eggs filled with temporary tattoos, stamps, some candy, the entire contents of Mike's change bowl he keeps on his dresser, plastic animals, bouncy balls, and tiny containers of goo. It was really fun to think of things to go in the eggs that weren't candy. I've seen a bunch of lists out there, but it was really simple and easy to just go to the little party supply store and grab a variety of tiny toys.

I also made a big cake for her actual birthday and let her help me decorate it with sprinkles. Fun stuff.