Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Nursery

The nursery is done. All we need is the baby.


You may recall the argyle walls that were done a couple months ago. Aside from the argyle, I didn't really want any particular theme for the room. With no theme we'd be free to decorate with just about anything that was fun and/or cute.

Like this crazy thing...


This was actually a Christmastime white elephant gift that came from Colombia. It's pretty entertaining. You can't see it in this picture but there is a toilet on the back, which makes it even better.




Clearly I still have some work to do. One day there will be a painting on that blue wall.

Some of my favorite things:

The book wall, featuring books we've received as gifts. This kid better love to read.


The mobile I made here:


Meatball's twin:


Baby soccer cleats. They aren't meant to be decor but somehow they've become a prominent display on the dresser:


So sure, the baby might not be sleeping here immediately. But that's okay. In the meantime Meatball will continue hunting around looking for toys on the floor.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Paper Mobile

I've been consumed by baby things recently. Well baby things and kitchen things. Still finishing up the kitchen renovation! Going on three months now. I work on baby things to get my mind off of kitchen things.

Back when I was setting up my registry I discovered the Amazon registry system. I love the idea because in addition to registering for items on Amazon you can add items from pretty much any other website. This includes Etsy. I loved this.

So of course I browsed Etsy and found all sorts of cute baby items that were adorable but yet not exactly necessary. Things like baby moccasins. Who doesn't need a pair? The other things I really liked was this paper mobile. It's cute and simple. But at $40 it is also a bit pricey. And being simple I thought, "Hey I could do that." Probably not as well, but could certainly give it a whirl.

So I did.


My supplies included:
  • Colored cardstock paper
  • X-Acto knife
  • Illusion Wire (a.k.a. clear string) from the jewelry section
  • Clear craft glue

I started out by buying some colored cardstock paper. Fade-RESISTANT cardstock paper! If I remember correctly the paper was $3-4 a sheet. So I was already coming out ahead in my investment.


For just about every piece of the mobile I used the same process. I'd make a stencil. Then trace onto the colored paper.



I kinda quit taking pictures around this point. Things got a little more hairy when I started the clouds. The clouds each consist of 3 identical pieces of paper, each in the shape of the cloud. I would then fold two of the clouds in half, and glue one to each side of the flat cloud. Make sense? The tricky part was getting everything to hold together until the glue could dry.


Since I'm being honest, this mobile ended up taking me longer than I anticipated. I worked on it in pieces. Cutting little pieces of paper out with the X-acto knife gets old after awhile. And then there was the aforementioned frustration of gluing the pieces together. So $40.00? Perhaps it was fair price after all.


However I finally got it done. And it is good enough for me. And good enough for future baby. I'll just never show him the Etsy version.


Thursday, June 27, 2013


I've been on a mission the last couple of nights to photograph the lightning bugs. Or fireflies... whichever you prefer. We've been noticing them on our walks in the evenings and they are present in large numbers.  Of course it also gets pretty dark out here so maybe we can just see them better.

I Googled "photographing fireflies" and turned up some pretty awesome results. See here and here. Now obviously I'm not this skilled but thought I'd give it a try anyways. So night #1 I set up my tripod and started messing with the settings. This is what I got:

fireflies copy

Not terrible. But not really amazing either. Part of my issue was that most of the tutorials I read discussed merging multiple photos together. And I could not figure out how to do this effectively.

Night #2: I did more reading. Then went back outside and setup my tripod. I also adjusted my settings slightly. I've been shooting in manual mode, which alone is new for me. Based on what I read, my settings were adjusted to somewhere around  f/5.6, ISO 3200, 8 seconds. This was the result:

fireflies3 copy

Much better. I should note that this is actually 8 different photos overlapped together. And the biggest difference from night #1 is that I learned how to overlap the photos properly. (Thank you Google.) I believe the proper term in Photoshop is "lighten blend mode."

It's this option here:

lighten blend

See I learned something tonight :)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Starting the Nursery

Our kitchen renovation continues. I knew it would take awhile but I've been getting antsy. Not having a working kitchen sink will drive a person batty. So because I needed to see measurable progress somewhere, I decided to start the nursery.

Prepare yourself for lots of pictures of argyle. I don't necessarily want a theme for the nursery, but I thought argyle would add a nice touch to the room. My inspiration came from Pinterest. See here. So cute, right?


First a quick "before"picture. When we moved in to the house this room was super colorful. Very rainbow-like. We ultimately painted it a light khaki color, ripped out the carpet and installed hardwood floors. It was a huge improvement!


Fast forward back to today. We picked a neutral khaki color for the walls figuring that this room would one day be a nursery and khaki is gender neutral. Now that a boy is expected to occupy this space it was time to choose some accent colors. We decided on some safe blue and green, plus a small touch of orange.


The first step was to paint an accent wall. I gave in to gender stereotypes and picked the blue.



Next up was starting the argyle pattern. I decided to add the design to two of the walls. A lot of this design was really just an exercise in math and geometry. I pulled out a level, tape measure and pencil and started sketching out the design. Since our ceilings are 9' tall I went with a design of four diamonds, each two feet tall.


After taping the outline of the diamonds it was time to add color. Things went pretty smoothly up to this point. And actually quite quickly too! Thank you Frog Tape.


Then things got a little more tricky. It was time to paint the stitch pattern that overlaps the diamonds. I considered free-handing it but decided that it would look much cleaner if I taped it out. Talk about tedious. So more measuring and more taping. I used a lot Frog Tape for this step. A shameful amount actually.


Thankfully, things got easy again once the taping was done. Just a few swipes of white paint. And as annoying as it was to tape everything out, I'm pretty sure this was the easiest way to do it. My semi-steady hand would not have produced such clean results without the tape.


The white stitch definitely brought the whole design together. When it was just colored diamonds on the wall I was a little nervous. It was reminding me too much of a clown or circus theme. But argyle is so much more classy haha.


I finished up the design on the second wall the next day. (I needed to regain my patience for the taping.)


So now at least the painting portion of the nursery is done. Hooray for progress! There are still some things I want to do in the room, but this was a good start. And now back to the kitchen...


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Recliner Cover


This is a story about an old, red recliner and a paint tarp. We inherited the recliner from my grandfather after he passed away some years ago. It has gotten a lot of use since then. Specifically, Meatball has gotten a lot of use out of it. When we lived in the townhouse we kept the recliner in the office. We are pretty certain Meatball would spend his entire day sleeping there while we were at work.



Since moving, Meatball seems to have lost his affinity for the recliner. I don't think it gives him the view of the neighborhood he was used to. And he's decided to upgrade his sleeping spot to the living room sofa. This put me on a mission to clean up the recliner and give it a new life.

Enter the paint tarp.


It's probably been at least a year since I pinned this amazing recliner slipcover on Pinterest. Realizing my limitations with the sewing machine (i.e. I barely know how to use it) I knew I wouldn't get identical results but liked the idea of cover. Plus, by using a paint tarp, if the project was a major fail I would not have wasted a ton of money.

This is about the time when I thought I was getting myself into a one weekend, maybe two, project.... and it turned into the longest project ever. I've concluded I can spend months working on a painting but have very little patience for sewing.

I wish I could say I have some good advice on how to approach this, but I really don't. My technique was to pin a section, then sew. I started with the back of the chair, worked my way to the arms, then the seat, and lastly the footrest. To get the individual pieces to hug the chair I used Velcro. I used Velcro because I didn't want to make the cover permanent. I wanted the option to wash if needed. Agony. Pure agony.

I honestly can't remember if what's pictured here was one or two weekends of work. It's sad, I know.


Eventually I got to this point. I really loved the idea of the pleated bottom edge but decided it wasn't worth the effort. Not to mention, I'm no master seamstress. So I went with a simple straight edge.



After many, many hours my recliner started looking close to done. It's not perfect but I think it does the job for now. If we ever want to recover this we might just have to splurge on a new chair. I'm never doing this again.

Ignore my wrinkles please! It had just been through the wash.

Hey look, it reclines.


Now onto more productive projects, I hope.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Gallery Wall

House projects continue to consume our time. I'm sure it will be that way for awhile! Over the holidays we finished painting/hardwood flooring the bedrooms and also squeezed in painting the hallway. There wasn't much time to enjoy the fruits of our labor before moving on to the next project: The Wall.

DSC_0618 copy

We've been itching to tear down that wall ever since we first saw the house. It separates the front living room area, which gets glorious sunlight, and the family room/kitchen area where we spend most of the time. The wall just isn't necessary since we aren't the type of people to have a formal living room. So that continues to be a work in progress. Although the wall is down now we still need to clean up the edges.

Among the chaos I thought I'd find solace in finishing a room... the hallway. If you can count that as a room. The hallway starts at the front door, takes you through the house, and drops you off at the bedrooms. Just painting the dingy walls and getting rid of the gold fixtures made me extremely happy.


Now up near the front door the hall opens up into..... a large standing area? The space is really unnecessarily large. I guess it's nice for welcoming guests. Sure, we'll go with that.

I knew I wanted to do a gallery wall someplace in the house. They're all the rage right now. You'll just have to trust me on that. In our old house we used the wall along the staircase for this. Since we no longer have a staircase I had to find another spot. Enter unnecessarily large space in the hallway.

I credit this next idea to someone else... probably something I saw on Pinterest. Instead of just hanging pictures randomly I cut out pieces of paper to plan out where I'd hang my frames. I thought this would be terribly tedious but it actually wasn't so bad.


My Christmas poinsettias are still going strong!
The tedious part was hanging up the frames. Why do 4x6 frames need TWO wall anchors? It just adds an extra step of hanging to use a level. So annoying.

I'm not sure how much time this actually took me, but I gave myself a Sunday to casually work on it. So there we are. A lot of the pictures are kind of random- most of them seem to fall in the category of art or pictures from our trips together. For example that picture in the middle left. Yes, the promiscuous one. That was a piece of art we picked up in Portland. It was done by a local artist and if you look closely the drawing is made up entirely of small numbers. It's pretty neat.

Zoom out a bit and here's our new entry area.We tried to make it functional. Now when people visit they have a place to hang their coats.


Speaking of that coat rack. I'm pretty into it. I picked it up on Amazon. When not in use it hangs as an inconspicuous wall sculpture/art. The hooks flip down to hold coats as needed. So clever.