Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Petty projects

Another round of petty projects from the last month or so for you guys. I do apologize in advance for the lousy, blurry, generally unprofessional pictures you're about to see but keep in mind they're mainly there for informational purposes. Besides, lousy pics are almost a trademark for me by now, don't you think? :)Just take my word for it - they look a lot better in person than in my pics :)

Toilet paper wall art

I was inspired by the How-To Gal on this one, but I like to put my own twist on things so my stuff came out looking like fruit instead.

Some spray paint later they were oil rubbed bronze colored and I decided to put them over our front door to fill out that awkward gap between the curtain holders.

Pineapple is supposed to symbolize hospitality and apples prosperity, yeah, that works! :)

Milk jug tag glass markers

It must have been the pineapples that inspired us to become very social and hospitable lately. We've started a scheduled party twice a month at our place, just to make sure our friends who like to plan their schedules weeks and months ahead of time can pen us in and we can feel like we're getting a group together on short notice. It's just starting out but we're eventually expecting a pretty large group of singles, couples and loads of kids to show up so I realized we needed a way for people to tell their glass apart from all the others'.

I was already in the milk jug mode because of the chandelier and decided to try it out. Cut one jug apart and into tag shapes, punched a hole and strung a rubber band through. I got about 30 tags or so out of that one jug. Should be enough for now at least.

So the guest puts his or her name on the tag with a dry-erase pen and when the evening is over it wipes right off. There is a slight texture on some parts of the tags but with a little water it still wipes right off. Pretty convenient if not the most aesthetical solution. It could be prettified by adding a jump ring with a couple of beads to the tag as well as using different colored rubber bands. But in this case I didn't want to spend any money so this is what I had on hand. And it works!

Drop cloth outdoor curtains

I've been wanting curtains on our back patio for the longest time since it's impossible to sit out there when the sun is out, 1-8pm it's like sitting in a frying pan. I've got part of the curtains up the other day but I still have three more to go in order for us to be able to use the patio. We're thinking that our bi-weekly party should be able to spill over into the backyard when our house gets too crowded. Here's what it looks like right now.

The plan is to put another panel in the middle of these two as well as one each on the adjoining sides of the rectangular patio, one for sun protection (see, the sun is still on that table? It needs to be shaded) and the other one for symmetry and coziness.

I was looking for 6x9' drop cloths at Lowe's but they were out of that size at the time of my visit so I just got a 9x12' one instead and cut it in half and hemmed the edges and then sewed a.. gusset? Is that the word I'm looking for? Anyway, a channel for me to put a rod through to hang the curtain. It's not gusset, folks, I just googled it and that's not it. I have no idea what the word for it is but you probably get the idea here.

As you can see I hung them from clothes line for now. I don't expect that to be a permanent solution but it was a cost effective way of getting the job done while I think of a cheap and good way of solving this little problem. 

I just put up one eye bolt on each side and strung the rope between (supported by a nail and a large cup hook in the middle). I plan on taking the curtains down about once a month to wash so the way I did this was to make a loop on one end of the rope, string it through the eye bolt and insert an open chain link as a pin to make sure it stays in place despite wind. But it's still easy for me to remove the chain link and get all the curtains down when I need to.

That's what I've been up to lately :) No vacation here. I hope you guys are all taking long trips to exotic places and enjoying your time off, though :)

Ps. Linking up with
Someday Crafts

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Faux capiz shell chandelier

Ok, guys! I'm pretty pleased with the outcome of this little experiment, let's see if you agree with me when you see what I'm talking about.

Take a gander at this beauty I just put up in the kids' room, starting off the beachy/underwater theme that will be in there (trying my hand at a classier version of a kid's room, SpongeBob will still fit in but he won't be the main theme).

And do you believe me when I tell you it cost me a grand total of...... $0? It's true! And it looks (almost) exactly like the real thing while still being virtually unbreakable :) Perfect for my monkey babes!

The best part (and you're going to love this one!) is that every one of you out there can make one too! For those of you that get your three glasses of milk a day you'll have the main ingredient right at your fingertips - milk jugs!

So here's what you need.

*1 bell shade (from the thrift store or your stash), stripped of all fabric
*Mason's line from the hardware store (or other string of your choice)
*Many (empty and clean) milk jugs, amount varies depending on how dense and long you want your   finished chandelier to be
*Tapestry needle

This is what I did.

1. I cut up the milk jugs into panels, using a kitchen knife to cut out and discard the spout and the handle. The rest I did with regular scissors, the plastic is pretty soft and pliable. The spout and the handle were the only parts I decided were too curved, the rest is usable with a little force. If your circles are a little bent or textured it'll just make for a more organic looking chandelier. After the jug was disassembled I had 4 sides, the bottom and a half circular strip from the top. Repeat this step as needed :)

2. I then used the rim of an empty baby food jar to mark evenly sized circles, trying to squeeze in as many as possible on each panel. I just used a pen for this, it didn't really write well on this material but it made an indentation that was easy to follow and my circles didn't have any dark markings on them thanks to this.

3. I used a small nail to pierce each circle at the top and bottom. I put the circle on a cutting board and hit the nail with a heavy object (too lazy to go and get the hammer) and it worked just fine. I'm sure something like a thumb tack or similar would work too.

4. I turned my stripped bell shade upside down and started stringing the circles on there with the tapestry needle. Before this I had verified that the bell shade fit over the existing light fixture, one of those "boob" lights. It was a perfect fit, love it when that happens :)

The mason's line consists of three strands which I divided and used one strand at a time. To make sure the strings weren't going anywhere I attached them to the shade using a lark's head knot, each of the two hanging strands being one strand of circles on the finished chandelier. I folded the extra strand to the side while working on the first strand, stringing one circle onto the strand and pushing it into position, then making a single knot underneath each circle to hold it in place. I used 9 circles per strand. When I got to the second strand I would re-tie the string to the lamp shade about 1/2 to 1 inch away from the lark's head knot and then start stringing circles on. I wanted my strands of circles to be fairly close together to try to obscure the lampshade structure but I didn't want the strands to hang in pairs right next to each other either. Does that make sense? You know me and my lack of "during" pics... Sorry :)

5. I filled both bell shade rings with strands of circles to make a two-tiered chandelier. I was going to cut the strings off after the last circle of each strand, but I really liked the jellyfish-like look of the chandelier with the strings hanging down a bit so I left it that way.

6. Now for hanging the whole thing. I removed the "globe" of the light fixture, placed it inside the still upside down bell shade and made a sort of suspender-like wire contraption to hold the chandelier onto the light fixture, like so.

And then I just replaced the "globe" like I normally would. Done!

 How's that for a cool chandelier?! Mine measures about 36" from ceiling to the bottom of the strings so it's a pretty big/long chandelier. For $0 since I had all supplies on hand. It took me maybe a month to finish it since I had to wait for my family to drink enough milk to supply me with enough materials to work with :) A friend took pity on me and donated a few of their jugs as well - thanks Janice :)

So this is what the light in the kids' room looked like before.

Standard, boring and drowning in a sea of white.

And here are the afters! Still drowning in a sea of white (which will change), but at least it makes a statement now.

This one is taken from underneath.

And some with the light turned on as well.

As you can see it looks quite dream-like, the plastic circles look like they're glowing from within. I've read that you can sand milk jugs with sandpaper and achieve the look of rice paper but in this case I didn't want to bother since I had about a billion circles to work with and it was for the kids' room and no-one's going to look all that closely anyway. And the raw material looks good the way it is, the plastic reflects some of the light in a similar way to real capiz shell.

The chandelier does hang down quite a bit into the room so a grown up will either have to duck or walk through it. It is very light weight and feels sort of like walking through a string curtain so no-one's going to get hurt here. The kids can barely reach the strings even when jumping to reach them. It was a big hit with them, by the way :)

At one point I did consider painting the bell shade structure but as you can see I decided against it. It's really not all that visible in the grand scheme of things. You mainly just notice this glorious cascade of circles and string :)

How's that for a recycling project that doesn't look like recycling? :)

Ps. Linking up with
Blue Cricket Design
The Thrifty Home
Beyond The Picket Fence
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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Painting, painting and more painting

Isn't this wonderfully beautiful and exotic looking? I stumbled upon this pic the other day and just wanted to share it with you, how's that for a great vacation, huh? It's Taprobane Island in Sri Lanka and you can read more about it here, as well as see more pics from the island.

Ok, back to American suburbia. Now, I told you back here that I had found red paint at our Habitat store. I went back to pick up a gallon of black semi-gloss exterior paint as well for the same great price of $10 a gallon. And with all this luscious paint on my hands my little brain started plotting.

First I attacked the old lampposts out front. They apparently haven't worked in the last 30 years but I have plans to train vines on them so they get to stay. But they needed some paint and this is what happened.

They used to look like this.

Peeling black on top, rust stained white on the bottom. I felt the need to dress them up a bit by painting them all black. I got lazy so I haven't done anything about the peeling black top, I'll leave them be for a while and see if it works anyway. I am liking the more dignified look of all black, less cottage-y I know, but they have more class this way. They looked out of place being the only black metal objects around so I went ahead and painted the scroll-y support columns of the front porch as well.

I am definitely liking the contrasts of the black against the white and yellow. Before it was just too vanilla and uniform and it all blended together. I have in the past referred to these support columns as being the eye lashes of the house and without some mascara on there you just won't notice the eye which in this case is the front door.

So the door and the storm door were white, blah, blah and more blah and uninviting. With brass details.

So one day on a whim I decided to try some of my "Red Statement" paint on the front door, thinking that the worst that might happen would be that I would have to repaint it eventually if it didn't look good.

All the brass details got a lick of oil rubbed bronze spray paint. I couldn't get the thingies off the doors so I opted for spraying on a plastic lid and painting the stuff on with one of my kids' art brushes. Worked pretty well, at least well enough for me :)

If you look just inside the glass you can see that I out of pure laziness didn't paint the inside handle of the storm door since it'll barely be noticeable anyway. Too much trouble for not enough pay-back :) Same thing for the storm door kick plate.

The outside is a nice oil rubbed black :) and you'll only see the inside if you look down as you leave the house.

See the new entry mat I got at Lowe's for $13.

Much better, so stylish :)

Another note on the hardware. The lock set that was on the front door when we moved in was brushed nickle so a silvery color. The doorbell I got a while ago and the house numbers are an aged silver color, and with all the oil rubbed bronze (which really reads as black if you don't look to closely) all the metal/hardware around the front door is either silver or black. So in the same color family which works for me. Not too matchy-matchy but still cohesive.

So. What do you think? Am I getting closer to nice and inviting or am I just getting crazy with color? :)

I personally think that maybe the black support pillars and the lampposts lack a little bit of "context", I think I need at least one more thing in black metal to tie the whole thing together. I have a large medallion that will go on the front of the house eventually and with that up I think it'll look more finished. But I guess you'll have to keep up with my adventures to see the finished results when I get to them :)
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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Front yard progress

I thought I'd give you all a little progress report on our front yard. I was going to include the back yard as well but um, it hasn't done as well for some reason and it just sort of looks the same or slightly different from last you saw it. We've had a 2 month drought and I mostly watered the front and not so much of the back...

I have put more of an effort into the front yard though because that's really the most important, being that is what most people will ever see of our house.

Here's where we started out this spring, with me having made all the markings for where the flowerbeds were going to go. Same spot before, during and after (from slightly different angles).

Still from the front porch but looking the other way.

Looks a lot better in the afters, don't you think? We love it, the front yard feel a lot more tucked away already and the wildflowers are beautiful. We have lots of butterflies visiting throughout the day, very fun to watch. Here's a close up of the flowers.

It's all very informal looking with all kinds of flowers but that's just how I want it.

And this is what the front of our house looked like before I started working on it. 

You can't see the invisible trellises I made on each side of that window but...

... you can see the Morning glory climbing on them in this pic.

This is my first summer trying my hand at gardening and as far as the front yard goes - so far so good. I already know I'll do some things different next year but I've gotten a good start at least.

The backyard isn't a complete failure, if I had been willing to put more time and effort into it it would have looked better today but, alas. Since I don't really enjoy the gardening by itself there's a limit to how much of that I'm willing to invest even for a great result. So I'm back on the computer looking for even more drought tolerant, hard to kill and self-sufficient plants for next time around :)
All those plants are pretty much labeled as invasive so who knows what this place will look like in a few years :)

I'm eagerly awaiting the fence we'll be putting up at the property line in the front yard, not sure now if it'll happen this summer or not. But when it's up the front yard is going to be so much cozier and tucked away, not to mention that it'll be harder for the kids to try to get themselves run over by a car.

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