Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Using Sticks to Decorate? It's Only Natural.

I decided to post a little something Christmas-y since I know that's what most of you are looking for right now. Some of you have asked when I was going to start posting about Christmas decor & I've got some projects coming, but I've been so busy doing them I haven't had time to post!

We dragged out all the Christmas decor on Saturday only to find out that our "Worry-free" Tree was anything but. So, while my husband dealt with the tree issues, I did a project with one of my favorite elements: sticks. Please, nobody tell me that it's going to become ridiculous again anytime soon to throw a bunch of sticks in an urn & call it a statement piece. I won't know what to do if that happens.

You know I have a love for sticks from several previous projects. And this one was almost accidental, yet I love it just the same. I've kept my huge Pottery Barn wire urn on my hearth for months now, keeping it filled with sticks (yes, the plain ol' yard kind) & adding a few different seasonal branches throughout the year.

Here's how it looked most recently for fall:

And here it is now:

I had moved the urn across the room to make room for the Christmas tree & realized , "Hey, I like it here!"

Then, I removed the fall branches & left only the plain sticks. After a few moments of brainstorming, I decided to add a couple more sticks from the yard & a couple of these little branches with red berries on them.

Then, I added some ribbon & threw in a few of these feather-covered balls I had & then added my favorite part: 2 little hummingbird clip-on Christmas ornaments & found when I was out shopping with my sister over the week-end. (Yes, Amy, I know I only bought one at the time, but when I saw how much I loved it, I went back for another.)

It's amazing how Christmas-y it looks now with just a couple of changes. But I guess the most beautiful thing about this huge arrangement is that it only cost me $3 (such a great deal for those hummingbirds!).

Remember: use what you have when decorating for Christmas. Even if it's in your backyard!

More ideas coming soon, but meanwhile, I'm sharing this with some of these people.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Are Canvases on Your Christmas List? Don't Miss This!

Hope you've had a great shopping weekend between Black Friday & Cyber Monday. It's only 25 more shopping days 'til Christmas!

So many of you have told me you want to order canvases for Christmas gifts for your family & friends (or even have someone order one for you)!

Well, this is just a reminder to get your photos picked out now & place your orders soon because the deadline for online Christmas orders is December 5!

If you've never visited my shop, click here to see how I can turn your photo into your own fine art.

This is definitely a gift idea that is sure to please even that person who seems to have everything. And if you're not sure what picture to use, give them a Gift Card to my shop. You may have seen similar canvas photo art being advertised around blogland recently at prices that are 3 or 4 times higher than mine! Save yourself some money & buy from me. (You might even have enough left over to buy one for yourself.)

Contact me with your questions! And get those photos in!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bottle Cap Charm Necklaces--She'll Love 'Em!

Here's a great little project if you need a gift for a girlie girl like the three that live at my house. You've probably seen these bottle cap charm necklaces if you've been shopping anywhere that sells handmade jewelry. When my daughter, Abby, saw some the other day, she wanted me to help her make some, so we got the supplies, got busy, and here they are:

Aren't they the cutest? These are made with small bottle cap charms (we found ours at Hobby Lobby), scrapbook paper, & this product, called Magic-Glos (also found at Hobby Lobby) to get the glassy effect:

This is not the ideal project to do if you only want a couple of necklaces. Due to the cost of the materials, I would recommend making several to get your money's worth.

Here's how we did ours:

First, we chose some scrapbook papers in the colors we wanted for our charms. Then, we printed out our initials in a couple of different fonts & designs. Next, Abby cut out the initials in the size we needed to fit the charms.

Then, we placed the pieces in the charms. We used a dab of glue to hold it in place at first, but later found out that it's best not to use glue at all because it will sometimes show thru later.

Next, we used the Magic-Glos. This stuff is a little pricey (about $10 for a tiny bottle), & it's also a little temperamental. It took a few tries for us to get this right. The best way we found out to do it is to drop about 4 or 5 drops onto the charm, then spread it gently with a toothpick. If there are any bubbles, you have to get them out before letting them cure.

Then, immediately place them in the sun. Outside. It will not work in a window sill. You can also use a UV lamp if you have one, which I don't. We found out that if you let them sit too long wet, the ink will lift & spread. So, you can only do this project on a sunny day when you can put the charms directly in the sunlight.

Also, even when we left them in the sun for 15-20 minutes, as directed, they still need a little more time to cure before handling them too much. They seem to remain tacky for a while after they harden.

But... other than that, this stuff works like a charm (get it?).

So, for Abby, we made ribbon necklaces with 16 inches of ribbon, some cord crimpers, & some a spring ring clasp.

Use some tiny needle-nose pliers to crimp the cord crimp piece around each end of the ribbon, then attach the clasp. It takes a little practice, but after a few times, you'll feel like a pro.

These little necklaces are so cute we made several. I even made one for myself & put it on a silver chain. Just like every other Southern girl I know, I can't pass up anything with a monogram.

And Abby wanted me to announce to our local friends that she's going to be selling some of these, customized with a school name, a single initial, or 3-letter monogram on a ribbon necklace for $8 each. She'll also be donating a portion of each sale to her class' mission's project. (That's my girl!) Contact one of us if you want to order.

Hope this gives you a gift idea for some girls on your Christmas list!

Sharing with some of these link-ups. Check them out for more gift ideas!

Edited on 12-13-10: Due to a few problems we noticed with the Magic-Glos (bubbling, smearing ink, etc.), we decided to use regular Mod Podge Gloss for these charms instead, & just apply it thickly & let dry overnight. We have found that they look much better in the long run!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

26 Thanksgivings

In less than 24 hours, my house will be full of people and food and noise and fun. And I have a lot to do to get ready for that. There is food to buy & desserts to bake, and toilets to clean. But, I've been thinking a lot today about past Thanksgivings, and since I write this blog even more for my own self & my kids, than I do for other people, I decided to type out what's on my mind today, on the day before Thanksgiving.

On this day, 26 Thanksgivings ago, my family veered onto a new road in life.

My dad is driving the moving truck packed with all our earthly possessions, and I'm sitting in the passenger seat, feeling the pain of separation as we drive farther away from a home I love. The sun is bright and blinding thru the tears in my eyes. My dad is the most understanding he can be. He speaks the encouraging words that dry me up for now & bring the laughter I'm used to.

I know in my heart, even with only 11 years of life behind me, that what we are doing is right. It's not what I would have chosen, but I know that it's right. But, it's been hard. For me, but also for a lot of other people who love my parents. They are strength and wisdom and love to a lot of people. And now they will be that for new people. But who are they? We won't see them fully for many years from now. But they will become who they are in the Lord because He sent my parents to them. It's such a small town that we're moving to. There will be no renown. No fame or fortune. Except in the hearts of the people who meet Christ because of this.

We spend Thanksgiving Day cleaning a house that bears the dirt and damage of unthankful people who left it vacant for us. I beg my parents to let me keep the bright blue carpet in what will be my room. It's a small sacrifice, so they agree. It's something to be thankful for.

I start a new school & life is not easy. Everything is different. There are mean kids whose words will someday become my lectures for my own kids on how not to live. But one day I will realize that it's only by the grace of God that I'm not just like them.

There are friends as well. Their faces aren't the same as the ones in my old town, but they are friends who will remain so for a long, long time, even when time & life separates us.

It will take years to understand what is happening. My dad becoming the pastor of a church is not the only plan God has in mind. There is my life. And my mom's. And my sister's. And my brother's. And the chords of all the people & experiences & struggles on this new road will become the soundtrack to the stories of our lives.

And when 26 Thanksgivings have passed, I will have earned a wealth of life's lessons. My teachers will be God & His word, family, friends and enemies, my kids, illness, love and loss. I will have more things to be thankful for than I can list in a thousand Thanksgivings. I won't know how to be thankful for some things right away, but I will know that God, in His sovereign power, has brought them about. His goodness is everlasting. His mercy endures forever. He's the same yesterday, today, and forever.

O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Psalm 107:1

I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses.

Isaiah 63:7

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall: Who's the Most Fickle of Them All?

I'll admit it. It's me. I have commitment issues when it comes to decor. I wrote about this a while back here & explained how I deal with it.

So, I had a short but sweet relationship with this Quatrefoil Mirror (remember when I told you about our story here?):

It really is a great mirror. It's down-to-earth & thrifty, too. But, honestly, after a little bit, I just sort-of lost that lovin' feeling for it hanging there in my hall. I hated to admit it at first because I had put a little work into it during the makeover & I really wanted to make it work, but I finally came to the conclusion that there just wasn't much to "us" after the thrill of the before & after wore off. It just wasn't meant to be there. I'm not saying I'm giving up on it altogether...I still want to be friends. I'm sure I can find another place in the house for it, it'll just take some time.

I'd been feeling like this for a little while, but I guess what really sealed my decision was when I saw this mirror in an Interior Consignment Shop the other day.

I was instantly attracted to it. And I know I've said this before, but it was really love at first sight. But, I was cool about it & didn't rush right into anything. I even left it there, just to give myself some time to think it over. But over the weekend, I couldn't stop thinking of how great it would be in my hall. It was just so detailed and dramatic and gold. It was everything the Quatrefoil wasn't. And it reminded me of Paris.

So, I did what any other hopeless romantic decorator would do, & followed my heart back to the store, brought it home & hung it up. And I'm crazy about it.

Quatrefoil, it's really nothing personal, but this new mirror was just M.F.M.S (made for my space). I know you made me look skinny, but I found out that skinny isn't everything.

Although, now that I think about it, I might be bringing you back after all those Thanksgiving and Christmas desserts. Don't go too far. I'll be in touch.

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Library Window & a Simple How-to

Thanks to all of you who stopped by to give your opinion on which fabric you liked best for my library window! It's always fun to see what you think. All I have to say is that I'm glad I chose the blue & white, because most of you would've been very disappointed if I hadn't!

So, the panels are up & here they are. (Thank you to my handsome assistant for hanging yet another curtain rod! I promise I'll give you a break for a while!)

Anyway, I'm on the path to an bold & eclectic travel library. You'll be surprised to see what ends up in there. No, really-- it's a surprise because I have no idea myself. I'll just have to wait & see what I find in my treasure hunting. I never know what's going to be next.

But, meanwhile, I'm posting a simple how-to on making a basic drapery panel like these. Some of you are intimidated to try to make your own panels, but you should know that these are SO simple and if you can sew a straight line, you can do this.

Here's what to do:

Determine the length of fabric you'll need by measuring your window from where you want it to start at the top to where you want it to hit at the floor. This will be the finished length of your panel. Then, you'll need to add extra length to allow for a top & bottom hem. For instance, I usually allow for about a 4 1/2 inch hem on the bottom & 2 inches on the top. I almost always write out my plan on paper just to be sure I'm calculating it all correctly.

You'll also need a drapery lining for this type of panel. I always buy a very basic one in a light to medium weight in ivory.

When you're ready to cut the fabric, try to find some floor space large enough to lay the fabric out smooth & flat. Making the first cut is definitely the most nerve-wracking part, so my best advice is to measure it out, double-check your measurements, then say a prayer that you haven't made a mistake. This method usually works great.

I personally prefer to cut the lining a few inches shorter than the length of the fabric because it makes it just a little easier to work with later. You also need to measure the width of both your fabric & liner & then make the necessary cut to make the liner width approximately 3 inches less than the fabric width. (A quick way to make this cut is to fold the liner in half a few times, making sure the edges are very straight, then measure & cut.)

This will allow the fabric to fold around the edges of the finished panel, giving it a professional look. Here's how it looks on the finished panel:

Once the fabric & liner is cut, simply line up the edges of each with the right sides together, & sew. I recommend a half inch seam allowance. You can pin the sides in place first if it makes you feel more comfortable. Also, I like to line up the liner about a half inch lower than the top edge of the fabric.

Once the two sides are sewn up, turn the panel inside out & press! Remember the main fabric will wrap around the sides about an inch or so, so press accordingly.

Lastly, you'll need to hem the top & bottom edges. For the top, first fold the fabric over a half inch, then press. Then, fold it over again about 1.5 inches, press, then sew.

Before you sew the bottom hem, you may want to re-measure your space to determine the exact length you want the panel to be, keeping in mind how you want the bottom of the panel to hit the floor. Some people prefer to hang the panel up with the rings & rod & then decide where to hem.

Once you know for sure how much you need to hem, fold over a half inch & press, then fold over the remaining length of hem you need to get your desired panel length. I like to fold the ends of the bottom hem in at an angle to get a professional finish. Then sew the hem!

After that, you're ready to add your clip rings & hang.

I hope this makes sense & gives you the confidence you need to try to make your own. And of course if you have questions or if any of the instructions aren't clear, just leave a comment or email & I'll try to help.

Now, cover those windows!

Sharing this little how-to with a few of these people.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Seamstress, In the Library, With a Telescope

If you've noticed a trend in my posts lately pertaining to window treatments, it's because I've been kinda on a roll & I just have to go with it when the mood strikes or it may end up being another year before I get these windows covered! After I saw how much I loved my breakfast room panels, and conquered the dreaded 5 panels I recently did in the living room, the library window looked like a breeze, so I made it my next project.

The hardest part about this one was choosing the fabric. I actually do have a vision for the room, despite the fact that there are still stacks of boxes of books in one corner. Those are gonna have to go soon or I might just make them into some kind of furniture.

Right now, the only furniture in there is the desk I showed you here, our navy leather recliner we've had for years (& still love), a small table my mom didn't want any more, and my little pedestal table I showed you here.

Here's an overview of the room with the currently-naked window. The wall color is a Sherwin-Williams color match to Benjamin Moore's Liberty Park. The book shelves are coming---still in the planning stages at this point, but they will be a dark stain, spanning the length of the far wall.

My vision for the room is mainly "travel", but keeping with a rich-wood-library type of feel. I know. It's got a long way to go. And it could still go a hundred different directions from there. Here are a few of the accessories I've collected so far:

A metallic silver trunk:

A black leather desk-top telescope...

And an old-world globe:

After shopping around for months for fabric for the drapes, I narrowed it down to 2 swatches. And they're totally opposite of one another.

So, I thought it'd be fun to show you both of them & see which you like best.

First, the silk plaid:
I know it's nearly impossible to choose a fabric from a picture, but it's gold, green, & a hint of teal with a red thread stripe going thru it. Very traditional English library-esque.

And secondly, there's the indigo & ivory pattern. (I told you they were different!) This one looks a little like a damask at first glance, but it's actually more of a floral British Colonial feel.

So, I'd love to hear your opinion. Which one do you like best & which one would you have chosen if you were me--or would you have searched for something totally different? Don't worry-- if you hate them, that's fine. I can take it!

I actually already chose one & made the panels today. But, I'd still love to know your opinion!

Leave a comment with your choice & then stop by again soon to see which one made the cut (no pun intended).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More Featured Blessings & an Itty Bitty Legal Issue

As promised, here are some more great versions of my Blessings Board you guys have sent me.

Click here to see the original I posted about here last month. It's so fun to see how people have made this project their own. We've been changing our list out each week here at our house & I hope it's inspired you all to stop & count your blessings as well.

This one is my sister's. (You can visit her blog here). She didn't write her blessings on it yet, but I'm pretty sure she meant to write my name for number 1. I love her little turkey. She put those on shirts & bibs last year & they were adorable!

And this one is Jessica & Trent's --click here to see how they made theirs. Jessica said they may even change out the fabric for different seasons & use it all year round. Great idea!

And for those of you who don't want to use up your wall space, check out this cute tabletop version made by Tracy at The Teleporting Toddler. Adorable!

Then, click here to see Kerstin's version over at The Real Housewives of Idaho. She also has a great variation of this that makes a great Christmas gift!

And in other news: I had to make some changes to my new money savings post category that I originally posted about here. Apparently, someone else "owns" the word I was using for my title & sent me a friendly little email containing words like "cease", "desist", & "demand". Ahhhemmm...

So, I hereby willfully state that henceforth my financial posts shall be categorized, labeled and otherwise classified by the title of "More Bliss for Your Buck". (I like that better anyway.) So, look for those posts in the future!

And speaking of money, if you haven't yet signed up for your free money, what are you waiting for? Click here to join the ranks of so many other smart people & then start shopping at your favorite sites to get rewarded!