Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cue the Confetti...

So, it's kind-of a big day on the blog today...

I'm a little surprised, a little overwhelmed, and a little excited...

I don't know if I've felt this much of a sense of accomplishment since my first child finally got potty-trained...

But, this is my 500th post!  

Who knew I had this much to say?  I mean besides my husband and my parents and my kids.  And my kindergarten teacher who always sent home the notes that said, "Julie talks too much."

But the fact is,  I have a lot of fun with this blog.  Pretty much all the projects I write about are things I'd be doing anyway, but it's a lot more fun when I have friends to share them with.  

So, thanks for stopping by, commenting, emailing, and telling your moms and sisters about this blog.  And I hope you'll stay tuned.  Because I still have a lot to say, and it wouldn't be the same without you here!


Monday, July 30, 2012

Reason to Celebrate

We spent the weekend celebrating.  Saturday was the 40th wedding anniversary of  two of my favorite people who just happen to be my parents.

My sister and I planned a reception, which I'll tell you more about later in the week, and we were all excited to see so many friends and family.

But, I can't let a milestone like this go by without taking the opportunity to say again how blessed I am to have these people for my parents.  

I have watched them my entire life, but the older I become, the more I realize how rare it is to find people like them.  As one of our friends noted, 40 years of marriage is not just a goal to attain, but a true testimony of faithfulness, to God and to each other.  It's not just making a promise at an altar once upon a time, but committing every day to stay true to what you promised.  And that's just what they've done.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for living your lives as true reflections of Christ.  You have remained faithful to Him and to each other through 40 years of "for richer and for poorer" and "for better or for worse."  And so many of us are richer and better for it.

Happy Anniversary!

We love you!  


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Must-Haves for Teachers: Two Ideas You Can Make Yourself

You know, I really hate to have to bring this up, but, whether most of us want to face it or not, school will be starting soon.  And in these last few weeks of taking it easy, you might want to take a little time to make something special for your kids' teachers.

One of the things teachers need most is hand sanitizer!  Last year, I showed you how to make this personalized version of a sanitizer bottle wrap and it was a big hit with our teacher, so I thought I'd repost it for those of you who missed it.  Click here for the full tutorial.

And for a different version, I recently made this one with a rolled flower embellishment like the ones we talked about here.

And because the second thing that teachers need a lot of is coffee, you might like to make this Coffee Cozy made from an up-cycled sweater.  Give her one of these and a Starbucks gift card to help her get back into the early morning routine.  Click here to read the simple how-to.

Just a couple ideas to help get you go enjoy the rest of your summer!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Vintage Mailbag Pillow

So, I've got a fun pillow project for you today that's easy enough for even the most beginning beginners. 

I made this pillow to look like it was made from a vintage mailbag, but you can actually take this idea and run wherever your creativity leads you.

It's made of canvas drop cloth, which I know comes as a big surprise to those of you who follow me often.  And I also used another of my favorites-- freezer paper stenciling, which you can read all about here.

The mailbag part of the pillow is actually more like a "sleeve" that I made to fit over a basic down pillow, covered in blue and white ticking stripe.  

To make the "sleeve", measure your pillow across the front from seam to seam.  Then, cut two pieces of canvas the same width as the width of the pillow, but one inch longer than the length from top to bottom.  For example, my pillow measured 24"W x 14"L , so I cut my two pieces of canvas at 24" wide x 15" long.  

Next, paint your design motif onto one piece of the canvas using the freezer paper method or other stencil.  

I also added a couple of stripes to mine by cutting some strips of freezer paper with a paper cutter, then ironing, and painting.

Once the paint is completely dry, sew the two pieces of canvas together at the tops and bottoms with a half-inch seam allowance {this means line the needle up to sew 1/2 inch from the edges of the fabric}, leaving the side edges open, creating the sleeve.

To finish the sides, fold and press the raw edges about 3/4" under and then fold and press again another  3/4".

Then, sew over the folded edge to create a clean finished side to the sleeve.

To make tie closures, cut 8 lengths of jute or thick twine, approximately 15" long, and sew 4 on each end of the sleeve, lining them up so they can be tied together.

Once that's done, the sleeve should fit snugly over the pillow and tie, allowing the sides of the ticking to show through slightly on each end.

It's a fun look that I hope you like.  This one's going in the guest room that's coming along a little more each week.  Can't wait to show that to you soon!

I'll be sharing this with a few of these friends.  

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Another Coffee Table Bench and Questions Answered

So, I haven't really had the chance to tell you yet, but I've got big changes going on in the guest room.  It's been my biggest little project for the Summer, and so far, I'm loving it.  But--I still have a ways to go before I can show it to you all, so stay tuned for that later.

What I can show you are a few pieces here and there that are getting done slowly but surely...starting with my latest coffee table-turned-bench I did this week.  This was the 4th one of these I've done. (Ya think I like these things?) And since I get a lot of questions and emails about these, I thought I'd show the how-to once more.

I got a steal on the table from my favorite thrift store on half-off day for only $12.50.  It was an awesome 54 inches long, so it was a perfect candidate for an end-of-the-bed bench.

I had bought the yellow zebra fabric for a chair re-do, but changed my mind on that and decided to use it for this instead.  Love it.  Click here to get some for yourself.

As for the paint, I used some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Old White I still had leftover from my guest room desk makeover, so I didn't have to sand or prime.  I just slightly distressed it with sandpaper after painting.  (Did I mention how easy this project was?)

For my previous 3 benches, I had used a separate board to attach the foam and fabric onto and then screwed that to the tops of the tables.  But this time, I was able to staple the foam and fabric directly to the existing table top, saving that extra step.

In order to do this, you have to use a table that has a sufficient overhang.  I would suggest that there be at least in inch of space to work with under the overhang of the table where you'll need to staple the fabric.

One of the main questions I often get regarding these benches is "Where do you get your foam?".  I'm fortunate enough to have a local foam store that sells all types and sizes of foam and cuts it to size right in front of you.  I bought this 3-inch thick 23"x 56" piece for around $22.

I always suggest googling "foam rubber" or "upholstery supplies" in your area to see if there's a store like this near you.  If not, you can buy foam at JoAnn, Hobby Lobby, or other fabric stores, but the supply is usually limited and costs a little more.  Of course, you can always shop online as well.  Here's one source I found when I was looking around.

When determining the size of foam you'll need, take the measurement of the table top (or separate wood base) and add 2" to the length and width.  This is to allow for an extra 1" overage all the way around.  For example, my table top was 21" x 54", so I used a 23" x 56" piece of foam.  

Some people choose to add a layer of batting over the foam to soften the edges of the foam and give a smoother appearance.  I've only done this for my large tufted ottoman, and skipped it on my smaller benches.  It's really a matter of preference.

As for fabric, you'll need the width and length of the foam, plus the thickness of the foam and wood, plus an extra 3 inches or so.  So, for my bench with 3-inch foam and 1-inch wood, I used a piece of fabric that was approximately 30" x 63".

To attach the foam and fabric to the table, simply lay your pressed fabric, right side down, on the floor, then the foam, then your table.  

My favorite staple gun is my basic manual Arrow model.  I used 1/4 inch staples for this and that holds the fabric in place very nicely.

The trickiest part of the process is pulling the fabric and stapling.  It will take a little practice and maybe some pulling out of staples and doing-over, so keep some pliers and patience handy.  I don't have a special secret for doing this, I just work with it until it's the way I want it, and somehow it always works out.

After the fabric is securely stapled, take a utility knife and cut off the excess fabric all around.  Cut any loose threads with scissors.

I did notice on this project that it is little easier to wrap the fabric tighter when working with a separate board, rather than the original tabletop because you have a little more room to pull it around, but it's still a great method for making these.

Hope y'all like it!  Can't wait to show you how it looks in the guest room when it's done. Click on the links below if you'd like to see my previous coffee table benches.  And if you have questions, I'll try to help.

I'll be sharing this project with a few of these sites.  Check them out!


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Un-Pasta Marinara

You would think we're half Italian in this family, the way we love our pasta.  We eat it on a weekly basis in all shapes and sizes, but I'm all too aware that it's not always the healthiest choice.  So, I decided to try a healthier version that my mom told me about recently.  I'm calling it the Un-Pasta Marinara, but it's actually Zucchini Marinara.  And since this is peak zucchini season, it's a great time to make it!

This recipe is super easy and very healthy, so it's a win-win.  You'll need one medium zucchini per serving you want to make.  Just wash and peel the zucchini, then continue to cut each one into long thin strips with the vegetable peeler until you've cut down to the seeds.

Then, just place the zucchini strips in a steamer basket over boiling water for approximately 2 minutes-- just long enough to get it hot.  Be careful not to leave it too long or it will start to break down and become too soft.

Once it's hot, drain well & serve with your favorite marinara sauce.  Add a little salt and parmesan and it tastes great!

So there ya go--it may not taste exactly like your Great Aunt Marcella's famous spaghetti, but it's distant cousin.  A skinny distant cousin.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Paris By Way of Savannah

As I mentioned the other day, we spent a day in Savannah, Georgia during our recent vacation in Hilton Head.  It's only about an hour's drive from there and definitely worth the trip to see this beautiful city if you're in the vicinity.  Savannah is my mom's hometown, and though I've never lived there, it's sorta in my roots, so it's one of our favorite Southern cities.  

And today I'm gonna tell you about my favorite must-see in Savannah.  It's a little bit of Paris right in the heart of the South, and it's called The Paris Market.  And since I'm a Southern girl who loves all things Paris, this place is pretty much right up my alley.  I first found this store on my last visit to Savannah, and I made a beeline to it again this time.  I took a bunch of pictures for you all when I was there so I could give you a little tour, so I'm just going to let the pics speak for themselves...

Ahhhhh--I love this place!  And you will, too.  Visit the website by clicking here.  Any of you already been there?  I wanna hear all about it!