Archive for the 'home' Category

Mantel Makeover and Room Rearranged

(Pssst…. did you know you can spell it mantle OR mantel?  Which way looks right to you?)

I don’t know what came over me.  Perhaps because we were having a grown-up party and I wanted to have a grown up house to go with the grown up party.  Or perhaps because it was just time.   I was inspired by two things.

1)  My meeting with Jen at Feng Shui Jen’s Way (thanks again, Jen!)


2)  Seeing this and this from my blog-friend Brenda at Peek at My Paper made me realize that I had this whole mantle thing all wrong.

First things first:  I acknowledge that we need a full fireplace/mantel makeover.  This whole house needs one in several areas, but seeing as how we’re lacking the thousands of dollars to do a complete refurb right now, I’ll take what I can get. 🙂

Here’s where I started.  This is a horrible photo, but I started a few months ago by cleaning up the look with a cover I made on my own with some home-decor fabric.  It helps immensely.  And it has a secret pocket– who doesn’t love a secret pocket?  But I realized there were too many photos and not enough color.  And, following the advice from Brenda and company, I need some different shapes and levels going on, too.  So on a recent trip to Ikea… I splurged.

If $30 is a splurge, then yee haw!  I love Ikea for that.  They really help a lady out.  I bought a pretty vase, some reeds, and a round mirror.  Jen and I talked about how angular our house is- it’s full of straight lines.  So I thought a round mirror would help us out a bit.

Then I narrowed the photos down, pulled some other things out that I found during my Operation Organization time, and voila!  A new look.  I think it looks much better.  The only thing I have left is to update the photos of the kids.  Yikes!  The black rectangular piece is an etching of St. Cecilia, who is the saint of music.  My mom gave that to me- no idea where she got it, but I love it, and love having a place to put it.

Here’s a close up of the vase on the right.  It’s made of magazines from all over the world.  It really is a vase- it’s lined with resin- so in the past I did put flowers in it. But I loved the reeds from Ikea- so fun.  I had to trim them way down, though, or they would have hit the ceiling.  My sister (who inherited the most amazing gift-giving genes) gave us the vase for our anniversary (I think #1- paper)- it’s from a very fun site called Uncommon Goods.  I just checked and they don’t carry it anymore, but they do have tons of cool vases if you need something different.

During this whole process I realized that I hated the way the room was arranged.  It started to bother me when I had some girlfriends over a few weeks ago.  Everyone gathered in the kitchen, and no one would come sit on the comfy couches.  I mentioned this to Jen, and she said that having our brown couch where it was sort of closed everything off.  So while they kids were asleep I started shoving things around.  It makes a HUGE difference!

I removed the baby gate from the entertainment center.  Jack is almost 18 months, so it’s time for him to learn to leave things alone.  (We’ll see how that goes.) What I love the most is that the whole room is so open now- it’s a big room and it feels big now, but in a warm, “sit and stay a while” kind of way.

I’m curious, if you’ve read this far (thanks!) what you would do, if anything, to the mantel.  We do plan on getting a flat-screen TV someday, as well as a sectional, L-shaped sofa.  I’m in the market for a new coffee table, too, but not until we’re done having kids.  This one is too small, but it will have to do for a while!  Thanks for reading!


Operation Organization

This post could also be entitled “I love you, Ikea.”  Or, “I love you, Mod Podge.”

The challenge:  organize the hall closet.

A few weeks ago I was visited by my wonderful and oh-so-easy-to-talk-to friend, Jen, from Feng Shui Jen’s Way.  Jen, you inspired me to get my house’s rear in gear (which I guess means my own rear in gear).  I hope this post makes you proud!

Here is the hallway- it’s quite long.  I apologize in advance for the photo lighting- there are no windows, therefore not a lot of natural light going on. You can kind of see the closet on the right in this photo- it’s one of those old-school, folding door closets with narrow shelves that don’t hold anything very conveniently.  Great for my type-A personality.

Here’s the closet “before” (embarassing, I know):

You may notice the white tubs with the lovely pink sticky notes on them.  This was my half-a** attempt at organization.  Downside to the sticky notes (aside from looking horrid) was that they fell off.  Often.  I don’t like baskets for things like this- they look nice for a while, then they collect dust, and then they fall apart.  I needed and wanted tubs.  Ikea rocks in the tub department- did you know?

Here are the tubs in their plain, boring format.  The big ones are 5.99 and the little ones are 2.99.  They are from the Slugis collection.  See their specs here.

I wanted to beautify them a little and also make them impervious to label-fall-offage.  So I went to my paper stash and picked some favorites.

I created a template and traced it on the back of the paper so I didn’t have to worry about marker showing through.  I used a nice thick permanent marker so I could cut precisely.

Then I started the Mod Podge process.  First I painted the face of the tub with a layer of MP.  I used a matte finish for this project because I didn’t want to be troubled with glaring labels whilst trying to find something.  Immediately after applying the first layer I put a piece of paper on top.  Then I slathered it up with some MP and let it dry.

I had a little bit of fun doing this- they were just so much nicer to look at after they were papered up.  Even Michael liked looking at them.  Aren’t they purty?!

Then I made labels for them.  I made them all 6 inches across to help them look uniform, and used the same font throughout.  I MP’d the labels on and then covered them with a layer of MP to finish.

The finished closet:

Can I say that I am in organization heaven?  I love opening this closet and knowing where everything is.  And the best part is that I didn’t fill them all up, so as we need to, I can put more labels on some.

BTW, this is the very first project where Mod Podge did exactly what I wanted it to.  The paper did not bubble, it went on nice and smooth- hooray!

I am so excited that this was featured on Amy’s Mod Podge Rocks Facebook page!  Yee haw!

I’m also going to link up to It’s a Blog Party’s Show Me How Party.  Yay for links!

Our Family Rules!

You could read that two ways:

A)  Our family RULES!  (As in, our family is totally rad- and it is)


B)  Our family rules (As in, here are our Family Rules).

You pick.

Up there in my header there’s a list of Things I’d Like to Make.  I need to add to it because I’ve seen some pretty awesome stuff in the last few days.  One thing this 31DBB Challenge is doing is getting me to click around incessantly on the internet.  Ridiculous.  Often it’s worth my while, and occasionally I have to smack myself upside the head and get crackin’ on something of my own.  In this case, it was the Family Rules.

I first saw this idea on one of my fa-fa-favorite blogs, The Pleated Poppy.  You can see Lindsey’s fabric version here, and her friend Nicole’s version here.  If you look at the comments on their blogs you will see that many others have made these and I am way late on this bandwagon.  But better late than never, I say.

What I like about these, other than the crafty part, is that it’s a great reason to sit and think about what you want for you family.  What are your core values?  Get ’em up on the wall where you can see them daily.  I collected ones I saw on the web and then altered and added to suit our tastes, and then showed them to Michael.  He added some more and off I went.  Actually, I didn’t have to get much- just the canvas and the orange paint.

Here is my finished Family Rules:

One thing I did differently is I totally copped out on the whole font thing.  Many of the other blogs I read did their fonts by hand.  For reals.  I’m toooo lazy, and I’m also lucky enough to own a Canon i9900, which will print on a 12×12 piece of paper.  Hindsight 20/20, I wouldn’t have done it quite the same if I were to do it again, but I am still pleased with the turnout.  (And I’d still be totally lazy and print those puppies rather than do them by hand.)

I learned, however, that white ink is not Mod Podge friendly, or at least the white ink I used is not.  See the one that says “Celebrate together”?  I wanted it to *pop* on the paper which, though it’s hard to tell in the photo, is a shimmery paper.  So I spent a ridiculous amount of time covering the blank ink from my printer with white ink, only to have it wipe off when I Mod Podged it.  (Can you use Mod Podge as a verb?  Not sure…)  For some reason the other one I did, “Say grace and clean up after yourself” did not have the same problem, so it must have something to do with the paper.  Oh well- it’s all shellacked now anyway.

Here are some close ups of the smaller ones- I had to get creative because I ran out of room, so this was my solution:

Here are all of our rules (they are not in this order on the finished product):

  1. Have fun, be silly
  2. dance, hug and snuggle often
  3. Celebrate together
  4. Say, “I love you” (lots and lots)
  5. Have an open mind
  6. Be kind and respectful
  7. Obey your parents
  8. tell the truth even if you might get in trouble
  9. share    listen    (these ended up as small ones so I separated them)
  10. Give your guest your best
  11. Mom & Dad:  remember your wedding day
  12. hands are for hugging not hitting
  13. encourage your siblings… share in their joy
  14. there’s no such thing as too much reading
  15. never give up
  16. act responsibly, choose wisely
  17. keep your promises
  18. Use your manners- say please and thank you
  19. Say grace and clean up after yourself
  20. Ask lots of questions
  21. Use your creativity
  22. Try another point of view
  23. Remember that God is Father of us all

If I get some requests I will be happy to post the names of the fonts I used- I am a total font junkie which is part of the reason I loved this project.  Such a nerd, I am.  I would do it now but I have consumed far too much BV Cab, and fear I would list them inaccurately.  🙂

I love this- it adds so much color to our kitchen, and is one of a bunch of things I’ve been doing this week to get organized and get homey before the school year starts.  I love coming home to a house with love and life, and I feel like I’m getting there.  Just wait until you see my other project from this week…. coming soon!

Martha! I Made It! #2: The Duvet

This is going to be a long post.  I hope you read it and validate my psyche, because after this project, I need some validation.  Whew!  I am, however, totally okay with you just looking at the pictures and then posting a comment (ha!).

This project started a long time ago in my head.  Michael and I have been dreaming of getting a king-sized bed for months and months.  When your husband is 6’3″, you need a big bed.  In mid-June Michael noticed that Macy’s was going to have a stellar sale on mattresses and said we should go ahead and do it.  I was so excited and petrified.  We chose gray for our master bedroom, and while I like the gray, I’ve had a hard time deciding what to do with the bedding.  I don’t want more gray bedding- to dreary and plain.  And supposedly gray is neutral, but I think it’s a tricky neutral.

I did have two sources of inspiration.  I saw this photo in a magazine and loved the look of orange, white and gray on the walls.  (My dog is cuter than that dog, BTW.)

Then I saw this photo in (you guessed it) Martha Stewart’s Encycopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts.  It’s on page 150/151.

(I took this photo with my iPhone and hope I don’t get in trouble for posting it, but couldn’t find it online anywhere).

I didn’t like the idea of having a white comforter. With a little black dog who likes to snuggle in our bed while we get ready in the morning, I could just see it getting covered with little black hairs.   And Michael and I are hard on things- white would just get dingy and dirty too quick.  But the tones in Martha’s book were a bit too muted for me- I wanted something a bit more striking.

I headed to BB&B and found some sheets.  I chose a copper color- it was as close to orange as I could find.  I did like it a lot.  I wanted to add a second color as an accent, so I chose an olive green that was near it because they just seemed to go together.  What follows is a sort of pictoral journey, if you will.  But if you don’t want to scroll through them, I’ll put the finished product first to save you the scrolling (aren’t I nice?).  🙂  Ta da!

(Please don’t look in my closet– it needs some work.  Should have closed the dang curtain…LOOK AWAY!)  I think the white pillows made it look complete.  I love it.  Really, I do.  I’m just not sure about the color combo with the gray walls.

Now, onto the process….ah, the process…

One of the wonderful things about Martha’s book is you get templates and patterns.  Lots of them.  This particular template was a doozy, though, since it’s soooooo big.  Many pages to tape together.  I also used that to cut out the teardrop templates.

I set to cutting out the appliques.  There were a lot of them.  It took me an entire morning- I caught up on a lot of Oprah.  The process outlined in the directions basically tell you to use the template to trace the pattern onto your sheet with transfer paper and a tracing wheel.  Transfer paper is also… a doozy.  I even bought the same transfer paper used in Martha’s book- you can find it here.  I wish I could tell you that I love transfer paper and it worked like a charm. I do not love transfer paper, and it did not work like a charm.  After 45 minutes of tracing the pattern onto my sheet, I pulled it away and there was very little to show for my lower back workout.  So I had to resort to my own brainpower because I wanted to get to sewing.  Bad.  What I ended up doing was placing the appliques and tracing them with disappearing ink.  I learned, however, that on this particular sheet at this particular time of year, the disappearing ink disappears quickly- overnight.  So I worked one circle at a time.  I placed the appliques on the inner circle and then sewed them down.  Then I worked my way out from there.

Tracing paper (and Sophie, wondering what in the world I’m doing)

One of my learning moments was the stitching for this project.  Martha’s book talks about using a satin stitch, but I couldn’t find anything in my sewing manual about satin stitching.  So I zig-zagged the appliques to the copper sheet (Martha and her editors said that would be okay).  Let me tell you- a king sized sheet- that’s a lot to work with.  This was my world for several days:

Things moving along…

Here was my problem, though- sometimes the zig-zags turned out okay (pre-trimming)…

And other times they pulled away- either due to my poor stitching skills or they just pulled out of the threads- a little bit of both.  When I saw this happening, I became a bit depressed.  I spent so much time on this project, and felt like it wasn’t going to pan out.  Then (enter angel chorus music) I asked my friend Kari for help.

Thankfully, Kari didn’t have to make a special trip- she was already coming over for a get together.  I brought her back to check it out and she set me straight on how to satin stitch.  Basically you set the zig zag setting on your machine at opposite ends to make it as wide and as close together as possible, and ta-da!  Satin stitch- looks much better, eh?

Once I finished up the satin stitching (several days later) I was finally ready to make the duvet.  I followed the directions in Martha’s book on page 147.  I’m glad I took my time with this part.  My white sheet was significantly larger than my copper, AND they were both larger than my comforter, so I had some work to do.

Ready to sew it up!

Up close in our room.

And the final product again.  *sigh*  I love it.

I’d love to know, if you’ve gotten this far (thanks!) what you think of the copper and gray situation.  Is it bad?  Different?  Too different?  Awesome?  Okay?   And what would you hang above it?  Please don’t tell me to make something.  Ha!
Whew!  I’m ready for a teeny, tiny, miniscule project now.  Maybe a pincushion or something…

The Mantle Refurb

I recently posted about our house, displaying a ridiculous amount of photos of it.  I didn’t show too much of our mantle/fireplace area because I knew this post was coming. This area of our house needs some major remodeling, but we’re going to have to wait for a while before we can get to it.  When we were doing the major clean-up before we moved in, one thing I did was paint the brick fireplace a clean white, which really helped.  I couldn’t get past the mantle- it has been used and loved and now, as you can see below, it is covered with scratches and wear and tear.  I have longed for a mantle for years, but was a bit deflated with this one because it is just plain tired.  And who can blame it?   It’s probably about as old as I am!

Before:  tired, scratched, worn, you get the idea

(Do you like the Kleenex boxes stacked to the left of the clock?  I think we were winding up a “sickie” phase at the time of sewing.  And those are Anna’s play cupcakes to the right.)

I headed to our local Home Fabrics store.  That place is dangerous!  I bought a ridiculous amount of fabric and got to sewing.  I am so (sew) happy with the end result.  It was really easy, too- I’d show a tutorial or something but I was too dang excited to get this thing on and I didn’t take any pictures.  I love how it hangs, how it looks, etc.  I thought I might have to hot glue it on there, but the frames and such seem to be holding it on just perfect.  The other thing I did (not shown) was I sewed a secret pocket on one end to stash our keys for the gas fire-place.  They were always hidden behind a frame and I was worried they would get lost.


Basically I cut a realllllly long piece of the fabric to cover both the top and the overhang.  I finished the sides and then folded them over and hemmed them.  Then I cut two squares for the ends and sewed it all together.  Hooray for improvisation!  Now we just need to decide what to hang above the mantle.  Someday maybe we’ll have a flat screen up there, but for now….  Any ideas?

Our House

Back in November on my other blog I posted a few pictures of our house (click here to see).  I just viewed that post and realized there really weren’t very many pictures of the entire house. All the more reason to post more here!  I’m excited to look back and see how far we get with this house year after year.  As the weeks pass I am realizing that I LOVE it more and more every day, and with the potential it has for gardening, space for kids to play, and more, there’s really no reason for us to leave.

If you told me before I met Michael, or even after we married, that he and I would be living in El Cajon I would have told you to…. do something inappropriate.  I used to view El Cajon and anything in “East County” as too far away from the ocean, too hot, and too many other things to list.  And while it is far from the ocean, this area offers so much.  It’s so much more normal out here than coastal living.  The people are down-to-earth, there are 3 Targets at my disposal- the little things I need as a mom are much more accessible.

Our “to do list” for this house is extremely long, and it’s not on paper because it would be too overwhelming to look at.  But we are getting so much done and I’m so proud of how it’s going.  One thing you’ll notice is that we have lots of color in our house- I’m not a white wall person.  Perhaps it’s a history of white rental walls that makes me want to splash color on everything, but I love painting rooms with colors.  That being said, if I never have to paint again, I’ll be happy because we did a LOT of painting on this here house.

Kitchen:  Not showing too much of the kitchen just yet- trying to learn to love the cabinets.  What I do love, though, is the view from the sink.  It overlooks our entire yard, as well as the plethora of nature we get just by living on a larger piece of land.  I love the yellow- I know yellow kitchens are probably not very “in” anymore, but I still love it.  It’s happy and bright.  Just behind the bananas you’ll see a snippet of our new table that we are also loving.  And bottom-right is my favorite appliance, our Tassimo.  If you are a coffee drinker, Tassimo is awesome!  We just replaced our old one with this new one and it’s even better than the original.

Living/Play Area:  We have two couches right now, and they do not match.  Someday we’ll get a flat screen to hang on the wall and a wrap around couch.  Someday.  I recently sewed up a bunch of pillows (post forthcoming) and they have really added to the couches.  Before we only had 4 pillows and they were kind of blah.  It’s hard to tell in these photos, but they really give us lots of options.  Eventually the kids can build pillow forts, too- very important.  🙂  The play area is where a traditional dining table would go.  The possibility of us having a formal dinner are slim, so I decided to just give the kids a place to play.   I don’t know what I’d do without that IKEA shelf.  It’s awesome!  You can also see the wall hangings I made up close here.

Everyone who comes over for the first time looks down our hallway and says, “Wow!  This is a really long/wide/huge hallway!”  It is!  It will make for lots of fun car racing when Jack is a bit older.  So far I only have the one frame set up (I got it here).  My friend Amber took the photos- the kids look so little in them!

Are blue bathrooms too 70s?  I don’t think so, but I’ve heard some say as much.  It’s hard to tell from this picture, but I’m hoping to develop a sort of tropical theme in the hallway bathroom.  Fun for the kids, fun for guests?  Someday.  And below that is the laundry room.  All hail the laundry room!

Yes, that’s right, it’s a purple office.  I love it.  It’s sort of a dusty lavender, and I sit in it at least once a day and love the color every time I walk in.  This room needs curtains for the windows as well as the closet, but it’s so great to have this space right now.

This is Jack’s room.  Very neutral since we used the same bedding Anna used and we are not pink or blue people.  Baby #3 will use this room someday and Jack will get the current guest room, which is not worth photos right now.

Anna’s room has been the most fun so far.  She got a table & chair set for her birthday that caused us to push the bed against the wall.  That makes the room feel so much bigger.  I still love her bed the most.  The three pictures hanging between her windows were in my room growing up.  She’s told us a couple of times that she wants a pink room, but that isn’t going to happen.  At least she’s not asking for a Disney Princess room- that would definitely not happen.  🙂

Our room needs the most work, I think.  We need a ceiling fan/light fixture, curtains to go over the black-out shades, matching bedside tables, etc.  We did recently get a full-length mirror.  Not sure about how I feel about seeing myself full-length, but it’s nice to know I can determine if I’m put together or not.  The color of the walls has grown on me.  Once we get new bedding and a king size bed this room will really come together.  Right now we have bedding that is really going to be the guest room bedding- I was too tired of our 4-year-old bedding, so we got rid of it and put this on our bed for now.  I didn’t take pictures of our bathroom- it’s too small and not too dazzling quite yet.

Can’t wait to see what lies in the future for this place!

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