Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The 31st

Can someone please tell me where August went? All I know is that I woke up this morning & it was gone! Tomorrow will be September & the next day will be October. At least that's how it feels.

Fall is knocking at my front door, wondering where my autumn wreath is. Changes are coming, as they do every fall. Very soon, we'll get out the sweaters & boots, Starbucks will add my beloved Pumpkin Spice back to their menu, and the 90 degree weather will turn cooler.

And there are other changes. For some of you, fall means you dropped your baby off at Kindergarten & then went home to try to figure out who you are now. And some left their baby in the college registration line, trying to remind yourself that this is what you raised them to do. Some of you are just starting out with a brand new baby at home, trying to get off the emotional roller coaster & wondering if you're the only one who ever found themselves stuck on it. Some of you just got married & you feel like your life has finally started. Or maybe your marriage has ended & you feel like your life has, too.

Changes. They're happening to us all. I was thinking about all this this morning as I read through Proverbs 31. Many of you probably read it too, if you like to read the chapter in Proverbs that corresponds with the day of the month. This comes at a perfect time in light of all the changes that the end of August brings. This chapter is such a great, concise job description for the Christian woman. Or maybe the better term would be "life description".

If it's been awhile since you've read it, read it here:

Proverbs 31

1The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.

2What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows?

3Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.

4It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:

5Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.

6Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.

7Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.

8Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.

9Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.

10Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

11The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

12She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

13She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.

14She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.

15She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

16She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

17She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.

18She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.

19She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.

20She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

21She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.

22She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.

23Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.

24She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.

25Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

26She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

27She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

28Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

29Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.

30Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.

31Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

As I read over it again, I let it remind me of what I'm here for. And when I'm trying my best to juggle the schedule of 6 different people & running a taxi service for everyone all around town, I need to focus on "looking well to the ways of {my} household", even when it seems impossible.

And when I cross paths with a difficult person, I need to "open {my} mouth with wisdom" instead of giving them a piece of my mind.

And when I wake up to the alarm clock out of a deep sleep & still feel exhausted from the day before, I need to think of this woman who "riseth also while it is yet night", so I can get breakfast out & lunches packed for all of them. Although I don't have any servant girls to feed. Hmmmm. That would be handy.

And when I pass by a mirror and see that my make-up's worn off & my hair needs to be zzushzed (you know what I mean, don't you?), I'll remind myself that beauty is vain anyway.

No matter what phase of life you're in at the moment, or if you've gotten so busy you've lost focus, this passage can help you get back on track.

And if Christ is not a part of your life, I guarantee you've been missing Him, even if you never realized it before. If this is you, please contact me. I'd love to help you find Him.

And for any Christian woman reading this, encourage yourself with this life description & know that you're here for a purpose.

Now go get ready for fall!

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

Sunday, August 29, 2010

PB Teen-Inspired USA Chalkboard

Like thousands of other Americans, we received our PB Teen catalog in our mailbox last week. And before I even had a chance to look through it, my 13-year-old son had spotted this cool chalkboard:

I had to agree. It was cool. And perfect for a kid who DVR's the History Channel & can name every American president & the years they were in office in about 90 seconds flat. He's so cool.

So I had to do this for him. And you can do one, too, in way less time than it would take for it to be shipped to your door. Oh, and for a fraction of the price.

Here's what you'll need:
  • A piece of particle board or other thin board. I use Eucaboard for many of my projects including chalkboards & my jewelry organizers. It's rough on one side & smooth on the other. You can find this at HD & Lowes in a 4x8 sheet (it may come smaller as well).
  • A jigsaw, a table saw, a pencil, & a sanding block or sandpaper & a level
  • Chalkboard paint (I use Krylon's Chalkboard Spray Paint)
  • A couple of scrap pieces of wood (I used 1x4's cut to 20" & 16")
  • A printer & scissors
  • I think that's it
To start this project, my handsome assistant created a template of the USA that you can print out in 8 sheets & piece together to make an 28" x 18" pattern. (Do you see why I'm crazy about this guy?) You can click here to print this template for yourself.

Once you print it out, lay out the pieces & line them up at the tick marks, taping them in place. The pages will overlap slightly.

Next, cut it out & trace it onto your board.

Then, using a jigsaw, cut it out & then sand the edges smooth with a sanding block or sandpaper.

Next, we made the "rail system" which we would use to hang the chalkboard on the wall, allowing it to stand off the wall a little like the one from PB. To do this, cut a piece of 1x4 wood or MDF trim to about 20" long. Then, using a table saw, set the blade at a 45 degree angle & cut it down the middle. This will be your hanging system.

Here is how it will hang:

The top piece attaches to the back of the chalkboard & the bottom piece screws onto the wall. Then, the pieces will fit together to hold the board securely to the wall. I love this system! It can work for so many projects!

Make a guideline for your rail system on the board by holding it up with a level (you should place your board face against the wall--not like pictured) & drawing the line on the back of the board where you will want to attach the rail. This is an important step to assure that it hangs level! This is a MUST if you are like me & have any kind of OCD tendency!

You will also need one more piece of trim cut to about 16" as a stabilizer/spacer for the bottom of the board. Use epoxy or another strong adhesive to attach the 2 pieces to the back of the board on your guidelines.

Have I lost you yet? It's easier than it sounds, trust me!

After this, just give the front of the board a few good coats of the chalkboard spray & let the glue & paint dry overnight.

To hang the board, level the bottom piece of the rail system on the wall where you want it to hang. It should attach like this:

Then, just slide your rail system pieces together & you're done!

We didn't add the lights to the back of ours like PB did, but it would be simple to add some little string lights if you wanted to.

Oh, Pottery Barn! Thanks again for inspiration on yet another project! How we love to copy you!

I'll be sharing this little how-to with some of these cool crafters!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Smucker's Hot Fudge & Sassy Throw Pillows...Work With Me

I was going to play a game of "Guess the Odd Item I Used When Making This Pillow", but I decided to skip it this time and just get to the point. It was Smucker's Hot Fudge.

Although, the actual fudge was only for a quick chocolate fix while working. It was the lid that made the cut as a key element for this pillow I made for Abby's new room.

When I was coming up with a design for her striped pillow, it took a few minutes of brainstorming (Denise was here helping me that day), but we realized what it needed was a big covered button in the middle. And because we didn't want to waste any time shopping for an actual button, I shopped the pantry. Hence, the Smucker's Hot Fudge.

To create a button form, I used a nail to punch 2 holes, then threaded several strands of very strong thread thru the holes. This is an important step. If you make one of these, make sure you use several long lengths of thread for this part. You'll also need an upholstery or embroidery needle with a large eye to thread them through later.

Next, choose the fabric to cover the button, (my fabric was thin, so I used 2 layers), and sew the edges together on the back, pulling the fabric tightly around the button. A very important part of this step is to keep your long threads out of the way and centered on the back. It's best to have a helper hold them up straight for you while you sew on the fabric.

After that, you're ready to attach it to the pillow. Since I wanted it tufted a little bit, I used another button on the back of the pillow to serve as an anchor to hold it together. To sew the covered button on, thread your long, strong threads thru the large-eyed needle I mentioned and sew thru to the other button. Your helper can press the pillow down while you make the stitches. Make sure to go thru the pillow several times and then tie it off well when you're done.

That's it for the button pillow! If you liked the corsage flower pillow, see this tutorial for the general instructions for how to make the flower. I used this basic concept on a larger scale, then just tacked it onto the pillow I had made.

Thanks for all the nice comments on Abby's new room and all its elements. That's all for tutorials I'll be posting about her room, but if you have other questions about things I didn't explain, feel free to ask and I'll try to help!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Polka Dot Pom Pom How-To

Here's another fun project from Abby's room that I've had some comments and questions about, so I'll show you how we did the polka dot pom poms that now hang over her desk space.

These start with the basic principles of a tissue paper pom pom that are so hugely popular now for everything from birthday parties to babies' rooms. Click here to get the quick how-to from Martha if you've never tried these before.

As shown, you take some regular tissue paper (not the kind you blow you nose on, people, but the kind you stuff in gift bags), and follow the steps in the how-to. I changed mine a little by rounding the ends with scissors after folding rather than making a pointed end.

Once the poms were made, I added some flair by punching some little flower shapes out of black card stock and strategically gluing them here and there with Elmer's. The best way to do this is to hang the pom pom up while you work so you can get a good view of where you're placing the dots.

Once I was satisfied with the dot placement, I added one more step by creating some "prism silhouettes" out of a couple punches and a tear drop shape that I cut from more black card stock.

You need 2 of each shape to create this effect. I used a good thick thread tied to the bottom of the fishing wire in the center of the pom pom to hold the silhouettes. Once again, I used the glue to "sandwich" the thread between the two pieces and let them hang where I wanted them.

What variations of tissue paper pom poms have you tried?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Corsage Flower Lampshade

This is the little lamp I showed you from Abby's new room.

If you'd like to try one for yourself, here's how I made it:

I started with this thrift store lamp base that I found for $2. I know. Ridiculous.

I gave it a good spray over with some gloss white spray paint and found a basic white lamp shade at Lowes to go with it. (Forgot to take a pic of the lamp shade before, but I think you get the idea!)

Next came the flower. I have to give credit to Denise, who was helping me finish a few things for Abby's room, for suggesting going with the flower idea. She's a Corsage Flower Guru. Those of you who know her know what I'm talking about.

So, we took a basic faux flower and removed the plastic stem and other plastic stabilizers until we were left with several layers of flower petals.

We then used a turquoise brad (usually used for scrapbooking) and a little punch of turquoise card stock and we reassembled the flower by pushing the brad thru the holes and fastening it at the back. We decided to add some extra "fluff' to this flower by adding a few more layers from another flower we deconstructed.

Then, I just got out my trusty hot glue gun and glued some ribbon around the edges of the shade and then glued the flower right where I wanted it. Even with all the latest and greatest glues and adhesives out there, for some things you just can't beat a glue gun.

That's it, y'all! This is so easy to make. And if you get tired of having a big flower on your lampshade, rip off the flower and pin it on your dress for church on Sunday. Don't laugh. I've thought about it.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Abby's Room Reveal

Well, she's officially 12. And since I knew it was coming, I planned a little room update for her birthday which we surprised her with this morning when she woke up as a twelve-year-old. The challenge was to come up with a design that's as bright and beautiful as she is. And it was a challenge!

I didn't have to change everything since the paint and curtains and chandelier were new when we finished the house 11 months ago. But the bedding I had made about 5 years ago was overdue for an update. Here are a couple of before shots:

You may recognize the butterfly projects from when I posted about them here and here. They were staying as well.

I had a lot of existing color already in the room, so it was a little bit of a challenge to keep it simplified. And after a lot of brainstorming and even scrapping one plan half-way thru, having a mini panic attack, and consulting my best friend, I started over and came up with this:

I did new bedding in my all-time favorite color, "blackandwhite", with a few accent colors in the pillows. The bedding was a great deal, very much like the PB Teen Dottie Duvet Cover, but from for less than half the price! I also spray painted the bed turquoise, which turned out to be one of my favorite parts.

I made these pillows to add a pop of color...

I also updated her lamp ...

And printed a custom corkboard for her desk space. 

Also hung some "polka-dot" pom poms over her desk space.

I added my own version of the famous "Keep Calm" art, printed on canvas.

I came up with these custom initial frames for over the bed...

And made her her own jewelry organizer from a thrift store mirror we had found together one day. Click here to see how to make one of these for yourself.

Abby was thrilled with it, which thrilled me as well. She's so worth it. Thanks to so many of you who wished her a happy birthday! She had a great day.

If you'd like to know more about how I made some of the things in the room, stop by this week. I'll be posting some more details and instructions on how some of it was done!

Thanks for stopping by.