Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cutie Pie Kiddos... and Designing with Clutter in Mind

Remember those photos I mounted last weekend? I got around to putting them up a couple days ago. Honestly they would have sat around a lot longer, but I was worried that some little fingers would mess them up. Nothing like your own sticky kids to motivate you to get things done!

So here they are. Aren't they beautiful? I love how they turned out. You know what else I love? Having the talented photographer Holly Isaacson as my sister-in-law. Seriously I wonder how she accomplishes all that she does, and still has time to take such beautiful photos and run an awesome art blog and still raise three fantastic kids. 

When I put up the frames up above Jonas' changing table in his nursery, I used the toothpaste method I found on Pinterest. A complete and total disaster. Not only did I get toothpaste everywhere (except where it needed to be), but it took me hours to get those photos just right.

This time around, I simply put up paper that matched the frame size (12x12 scrapbook paper) and arranged it how I liked it. Stuck a few nails through the paper that matched the hangars on the frame and we were done. It still took a bit of time with a ruler but overall SO MUCH EASIER.

Now here's the thing about design that really gets to me. When you see all those pretty photos on blogs and in magazines, the rooms are clearly staged. Stylists come in and arrange things just so and then nobody breathes or moves until the picture is perfect. The truth is no one lives like that. There is no way that anyone (at least anyone with kids) has a room that is that clean and that perfect for more than five minutes. And all those crystal or ceramic vases and bowls that are placed all around? Those wouldn't survive a day around here. As much as I hate it, clutter is a way of life. It just piles up.

So as I stared at the paper on the wall, I thought to myself that the photos should be lower. They look too high up and unevenly placed for the space. But then I remembered (actually, I tripped on) all the clutter I had moved to the floor.

If I don't live my life picture perfect like a magazine, why should I place the photos that way? So I decided to hang them with future clutter in mind. That way, when the clutter piles up like it inevitably will, the photos won't be hidden and won't serve as another reminder about how chaotic my life has become. None of us need one more thing staring us down and telling us we don't have our act together. The kids do that for me all on their own. Ha!

So higher up they went, and then the clutter got added back in. (I will confess that I did put some of it away.) Maybe I'm desensitized, but now I kind of like the clutter and how it looks all together. And in reality it's the way I live. It's why I have an office chair around my dining room table, why my coffee table is completely out of reach of the couch and why the vacuum doesn't have a permanent home and yet never gets used. Because it works for us.

That's why I love these photos so much. They remind me of what's important in life. So here's to you, cutie pie kiddos. I love you lots and I hope I always remember that you are everything I hoped for and more. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Windows, Windows, Windows

Last weekend I finished and Tom hung up the new valances in the bonus room. When we moved in seven years ago, there were some craaaazy window treatments that came with the house. At the time, I was thrilled just to have something covering all the windows, but I was soon completely unimpressed with the orange corduroy roman shades and heavy gold drapes.  

I updated the downstairs treatments fairly quickly, but it has taken a while to get to the rest of the house. Lately it seems like we've been going crazy for windows. The new bonus room valances are made from the fabric I got on mega clearance at JoAnn's last year year and the inside of the side pleats are leftover scraps from the headboard project. All done for less than $20. Score!

I made a similar valance for the kitchen with some fun fabric from Hawthorne Threads. It has a cute baking theme and the aqua stripe along the bottom matches my KitchenAid. The inside of the pleat is a sunny yellow polka dot. It's the kind of pattern that makes me smile when I look at it. I may make something similar for the sliding glass door.

And finally, I've been helping my awesome friend Janet with some window treatments for her house, including new valances for her family room and also a valance for her son's room. For these we used the simple method of stapling the fabric to boards and using hem tape on the bottom. They mount to the wall with simple L brackets. Only minimal sewing - and that was just to seam two pieces together to span her large window.

Lots of impact for not a lot of money. My kind of project!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Take That, You Wascally Wabbits!

(Insert trumpet sound) Presenting our new veggie garden beds! Ta da! Aren't they beautiful?

We've had a problem around here with some pesky little bunnies eating up anything green in the backyard. And now we think we may have a nest of baby bunnies brewing in the back. Lovely.

I've pondered a few different solutions - ranging from tolerating them to calling in the marines - and finally settled on a couple raised garden beds as the most humane and least taxing option.

Here's the before pic of the back of the yard where the garden is...

As you can see, it had become a dried up mess where no one wanted to be, except for a little girl and her shovel.

We used some plans from Ana White (that site is amazing!) and headed to Menards for supplies. The corner posts and a few of the end pieces are actually leftover boards from when we built the deck seven years ago. The rest are cedar fence boards - this is the cheapest way I've found to do it.  Add in a roll of chicken wire and some landscape fabric (or cardboard would likely work too) and you're in business for about $30.

I mentioned the plans to my father-in-law Tom, who loves a good project as much as I do. So he came over one Sunday and we put them together. (And by "we" I really mean Tom, although I did do my best to stand around and look helpful.) Just screw them all together and wrap and staple with chicken wire. It took less than an hour.

Then we had a couple yards of garden-blend topsoil delivered and my hero of a husband helped me by moving most of it to the backyard. I did a royally good job of ordering WAY too much, so kudos to Ben for moving a lot more than he should have had to.

Later in the week, I took a trip to the little garden store around the cornerand bought some plants. We now have tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, a pumpkin, basil, sage, parsley, lemon balm and dill growing in the back.

I've seen the bunnies visit the new garden a few times, but so far they haven't eaten anything. I also got a bottle of some organic bunny repellent and sprayed the perimeter of the boxes and the plants on the ground. 

I'm looking forward to all the yummy veggies coming in a few weeks!

Friday, June 14, 2013

DIY Canvas Photos

Remember how I said it was time to finally hang some pictures around the house? Well, friends, we are one step closer. Hurrah! This doesn't mean there are actually new pictures hung up anywhere, but it is progress nonetheless.

Thanks to our awesome dining room redo last year, we have a lovely little space for photos on the back wall of the room. Until now, it's been a place for clutter to pile up, with the occasional frame or scrapbook sitting on the buffet.

My problem is that we take too long to decide what pictures to hang, and then it's time for another photo shoot. So we're in this perpetual cycle of indecision and self-imposed waiting. But not this time folks! We got our rears in gear and started the process of beginning the project to put some photos on the wall. (It doesn't sound so impressive when I put it like that, does it?)

Step 1: Order photos. I'm liking the 12x12 size lately and ordered 6 photos from UnitPrints for about $5 each.

Step 2: Buy the backing for the photos. I debated using foam core, boards, or straight up canvases. Just something other than frames that would make them stand out a bit. And then one day, I'm wandering Hobby Lobby and I come across BLACK 12x12 canvases for $7 each. ($4.20 with a coupon!) See, I was thinking of doing some Pinteresting up in here with the mod podge and the paint and the DIY canvases and all, but let's be honest. I am busy. And lazy. These black canvases eliminate a significant number of steps. This makes me happy.

Step 3: Glue the photos to the canvas. Take some spray glue, spray the back of the photo and place it on the canvas. 

This spray glue is nasty stuff and will get ALL OVER. So be careful because there will be overspray. Lots of overspray. And you will be thinking evil thoughts about why you used the stuff in the first place. So do yourself a favor and cover the ENTIRE work surface with newspaper first. Put a new clean sheet of blank, white paper underneath the photo each time before you spray any glue to avoid any newsprint transfer. Change out the newspaper often to avoid a sticky mess. It will get all over your finger tips too and again you will think not-nice things while you scrub it off.

Why then, you might ask, don't I use something else for my adhesive needs? Time and convenience, my friends. I am willing to put up with some sticky newspaper if it means results in seconds and not having to deal with multiple coats of Mod Podge. Again with the laziness.

Step 4: Roll it out. A shout out to Holly for sharing this little trick with me. Take a rolling pin and roll it over the entire photo, paying attention to the edges. This will (I hope!) keep them from coming up in the future. Use a rolling pin that is longer than the photos to avoid any creases in the middle of the canvas. I used a shorter one the first go around (I was too lazy to go downstairs to the basement to get the long one) and now there is a crease on J's head.

As Ben says - if you can't take the time to do it right, you'll have to make the time to do it over. I usually roll my eyes when he says this, but I do see his point here.

So here we have it - six beautiful photos mounted on black canvas and ready to go on the wall. Progress! I love it!

I feel like we need some kind of office pool for when these will actually get put up. Hopefully before the next photo shoot.