Monday, December 24, 2012

Magazine sunburst mirror

..... or "Hi, my name is Titti and I'm a mirror-oholic". Because that's basically what my mirror obsession amounts to. I don't even dare to count how many mirrors we have sprinkled around the house already and I just decided to add two more, how about that?

 In all fairness we have a tiny house and mirrors are supposed to make a space feel bigger, right? Follow my logic? Anyway, hold on to your pants on this one because this project is sooo cool it might blow your pants off your behind if you're not careful :) Just a fair warning.

Just take a few already read shelter magazines, a sheet of foam core board, beveled craft mirror, gold spray paint and copious amounts of hot glue and end up with this on your wall.

I'm in the process of rearranging things in our bedroom and this little project is part of that rearranging. I know sunbursts have been done but I happen to love them and when you can get this beaut for about $12, how can you resist? I need to make it's twin so we can have one on each side of the bed. (By the way, so sorry about most of the pics in this post, they were taken late at night in horrible lighting).

Here's the quick run-through of the process. 

 1. Take your old shelter or other glossy magazines and cut out all the pages.

 2. Roll each page into a tightly rolled reed, rolling on the diagonal to make the reed as long as possible.

 3. Cut your foam core board into a 20x20 square and trace around your mirror in the middle of the board (my mirrors are 10" beveled craft mirrors from Hobby Lobby, $5 each).

4. Trace another circle 5" outside the first one and cut the corners off the square board. Perfection is not needed as the board will not be visible in the end.

 5. Start hot-gluing your reeds just inside the outer circle. I like to start with gluing a reed in each quarter of the circle and then eye-balling the center between those two reeds and putting my next reed there, and then finding the center between those two for my next reed etc until the circle is full. That way you don't have to do any math :) I have glued them in threes here because I slightly staggered mine for an uneven edge. Don't worry if the backer board is still slightly visible between the reeds since we're adding another layer on top.

 6. Start gluing the second layer of reeds just inside the inner circle. Since you traced around the mirror to make this circle you know the mirror will cover the bald center spot completely when it's added on top. I didn't pack my reeds super tight together so some of the backer board is visible (will be covered by paint later).

7. This is how I solved my hanging dilemma. A square of the left over foam core board got two holes punched in one corner and twine was strung through the holes and the ends tied together in the back. I reinforced the pierced holes with hot glue as well as the knot, then doused the whole square in hot glue and stuck it to the backer board.

 Had to try it on the wall at this point :) If you have modern sensibilities you can stop here and just add the mirror in the center. I like it glam so I added paint.

 Just a pic to show the wonderful texture all the reeds create en masse like this. As you can see all the ends of the reeds got trimmed at an angel for a consistent look. In fact, after gluing my first layer of reeds to the board I realized that the mirror was going to be bigger than the allotted wall space allowed so I went around the circle trimming about 2" off each reed using scissors. The total diameter of this beauty ended up being 40" so it's pretty massive :)

 8. I spray painted the whole thing with Krylon's Gold Metallic spray paint, covering each reed as best I could. When DIYing you have to keep in mind that perfection will drive you bonkers and some minor, barely visible blemishes will disappear when you step back and look at the big picture. Most people visiting you in your home will not be scrutinizing your wall decor from just a few inches away, they will step into your room and be blown away by the total effect. Don't forget to hot glue the mirror in the middle, too!

 9. Hang and admire - you're done! Not bad for $12, huh? (Never mind that horrible mess on my bedside table. It's always like that. See why I felt the need to use up some of those magazines?)

I used about 4 magazines for this mirror and then the foam core and mirror. I'm very bad at estimating weight so I won't even try but it's certainly lightweight for its size. I only hung it with the full weight today and so far the hanging mechanism is holding up just fine. You can always make a more professional hanger if it worries you :) I like taking short cuts, sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this will work long term.

 I absolutely love it! It makes such a statement and with a twin on the other side and a few other things prettified in here I'm hoping it'll finally start feeling like an enchanted place. More pics to come as I finish them. And I'll probably take a few weeks off here over Christmas and New Year's while I work on things and spend time with the family.

Happy Christmas to all and let the festivities begin!

Ps. Linking up with Uncommon Designs Monday Funday.

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Teacher's Christmas gifts

 Thank you for all your sweet comments about the "differentness"! And let me also clarify that I'm not depressed about the issue like my mom thought. It's more that I'm a little tired of seeming so one dimensional because I'm concealing my secret, controversial life from most people I meet. Again, not specifically to keep it a secret but more as a way of not stepping on toes. Anyway....

Sorry for my absence, I've been distracted by life :) This past year seems to have been the year where all of our teeth decided to break down. Lately, it's been mine that have been giving me trouble. I suspect it will all get taken care of in due time but while I'm in the middle of things I decided to distract myself by showing off the Christmas gifts I've made for the kids' teachers.

I've mentioned before that I don't give many homemade gifts, mostly because I feel like most people wouldn't necessarily like getting them (they're expecting the latest Wii or Kindle or something else of the high-tech and mucho expensivo variety). Personally, I buy pretty much all my own gifts because then I know I'll get exactly what I want :) My husband is the same so this works for us even though my mom is beside herself over our "un-romantic" ways. Sorry, mom :)

Anyway. Teachers can't defend themselves from homemade gifts and they probably wouldn't think of complaining even if they were unhappy with their loot. I usually go for something cheap but practical and hopefully different from all the other treats, mugs, pencils and whatnots they usually get. I tell myself that even if the gift may not be that interesting to them at least they'll know that a lot of thought and time went into making their gift = they're important.

This time I used some of the leftover fleece from the kids' blankets to make little heart shaped hand warmers. So simple and virtually free. (I think I got the idea from here, they certainly look similar enough).

1. First I cut out my heart shapes with the help of a free handed template and sewed them together, right sides facing, leaving a little space open to add the filling.

2. Turned them inside out and stuffed them to the gills with rice mixed with some Tangerine essential oil (smells good when you heat them up) and sewed them shut by hand.

3. The cross stitching around the seams strengthens the seams and adds a sweet detail.

4. Simple instructions were printed on brown gift wrap paper, cut into strips and stapled into a "sleeve" for the hearts.

5. Classy scrapbook papers were turned into custom pillow boxes with the help of this tutorial and the sleeved hearts were slid into their boxes.

6. Standard gift bows and some tags I had on hand complete the look I was going for. The tags will be personalized to each teacher, of course. :)

Ready to be gifted! Love the classy, girly look and my daughter especially will be ecstatic to give such a pretty gift to her teacher although my son seemed pretty excited as well :) And hopefully the teachers will be happy with their gifts although I might never know :)

By the way, if it looks like I have a split personality on my blog from now on it's because the other day when I tried to upload some pics to the blog Blogger informed me I was out of space. Meaning they wanted me to buy more storage space, or else. Blogging is but a small hobby of mine and I didn't want to have any expenses going with it so I decided to enter into the world of split personalities.

 This blog now has two contributors but they are both part of a whole that is the sum total of me, still :). A new free account enabled me to keep blogging until this one runs out of space. It's a hassle and it looks like I'm two people but, you know, it's free. Hope it doesn't bother you guys too much that I have a split personality :) I'm slowly adjusting to it myself.
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Monday, November 19, 2012

The proverbial square peg in a round hole

I make it a habit not to get personal around here but a recent comment I posted on a blog I follow got me thinking and thought I would run my thoughts by you. Maybe you have more insights into this than I do?

You see, I have always felt like I was different than everybody else as I'm sure almost everyone has felt at some point in their life. But I also assume that most people as they grow up find their "niche" in society and either completely conform to the expectations and ways in that specific group or compromise to fit in as best they can.

I'm approaching 37, which isn't ancient by any stretch, but I would have figured I would have found my kindered spirits by now and I seem to have trouble doing just that. The way things are going I seem to become more controversial and different as my knowledge of the world increases and my views are solidified. I do find myself straddling several "groups" due to deep personal conviction and choice but in no way do I seem to fit the norm in those groups and almost none of the groups "go together". But I don't want to compromise my beliefs in order to be a better fit or more "normal".

I don't necessarily mind being different as to some extent I like it and sometimes also thrive on it, it's almost becoming my signature of sorts :) I'm starting to ponder if I just haven't seen enough of the world yet to find my place of like minded or if I'm supposed to be a trail blazer for some sort of new subgroup in society that just doesn't exist as of yet?

My main beef with this different-ness is that it makes for kind of dicey social situations where I'm almost afraid to open my mouth for fear of stepping on toes. I'm lousy at small talk but the weather is almost the only thing I can talk about these days since more and more areas of my life are becoming minefields of potential explosions as I discover new areas and (in my mind) improved ways of believing and living my life. And being a peaceful person at heart it would be nice to connect to people on a deeper level and find that place in life where you just belong without compromise.

No, I'm not some criminal or goth rocker or fanatical nut job as those all seem to have their well established subgroups. But I do find myself an artsy bohemian stay at home mom in cookie cutter southern suburbia, with a more is more decorating aesthetic in a beige and streamlined mid-century modern world, attachment parenting leanings and a firm opponent to spanking in the paddle wielding, cry-it-out Bible belt, a recent believer in the no grain, no dairy Paleo diet in a world awash in processed grains in plastic wrappers. And that's even after the obvious no-no of passionately believing in Jesus and his grace instead of a list of do's and don't's, in the Western world where you're almost considered mentally ill if you believe in God. I won't even mention politics here or I would probably offend every last one of you :) Being a Swede in the States with a name like mine doesn't exactly make me blend in any more, either :)

So, my volatile life choices aside. Have you found your niche in the world? Where you just belong without compromising your beliefs or spunk? And at what time in life did you end up there? I sincerely would like to know.

Oh, what started this thought process? This post by new first-time mom Justina Blakeney where she's asking for advice. I try not to give advice without being asked for it so I took this one chance to give my opinion but found myself almost holding my breath while writing and posting because I felt my views are so controversial. I'm still kind of expecting some backlash from that but so far so good.

I believe we all have the right to be who we are and believe in what we think is right. So please keep any comments civil. I'm going to go hide now.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Striped blankets/bedspreads

Oops! Didn't mean to leave you guys hanging for several weeks, here. I just got busy, I guess. Mostly with crafting, so that's a good problem to have :)

Popping in today to give you an eyeful of the wonderfully stripey blankets or bedspreads I just finished for the kids' room. They're full size (80x90 inches roughly) and durably made of no-pill fleece and a skein of red yarn for the blanket stitch around the edges.

I was so busy trying to stay on track through the whole sewing process that I didn't take any pictures while I was working on it (sorry!). If I get derailed while working on a project it's not unusual for it to take a year or so before I make myself finish it and since winter is rapidly approaching I wanted it done pronto. The process was pretty simple, mostly very labor intensive. The planning might have been the hardest part since it involved some math :)

I got the fabric from Joann's for 50% off = $4.99 per yard. The fabric was 54" wide and I needed it to be 80" wide. So I bought my fabric in lengths of 2 1/4 yards (=80") to get the right width for the blanket. Two blankets, one pink and white and the other red and white. Two lengths of 2 1/4 yards of white, 2 1/4 pink and 2 1/4 red. Altogether 9 yards. This equaled out to be about $25 per blanket which I think is a pretty fair price for a classic and sturdy striped blanket.

When I got home I folded each 2 1/4 length in half selvage to selvage and cut along the fold (lengthwise). Then folded each part in half lengthwise again and cut along the fold, then again with all the pieces, until I was left with a number of strips roughly measuring 80x9". 12 of these strips sewed together make a blanket about 90" long.

I joined the strips together by putting them right sides together using a zigzag stitch. Then folded them open and top stitched the seam again with a zigzag. This makes for a really sturdy join and since I stitched with white only on the white stripes the front looks seamless (while the stitching is very visible on the back). And then I made them look kind of heirloom (a girl can dream, right?) by adding the blanket stitch to finish them off. It took many hours of cutting, sewing and stitching but none of it was very difficult, as I mentioned.

And now the kids have classic striped blankets in their respective favorite colors that they should be able to use for years to come. It adds a little something to their unisex underwater/nautical bedroom :) They love them and so do I which is the perfect ending to an intense crafting session :)


And the afters!

I know that bedskirt looks perpetually wrinkly but somehow it always seems to be freshly out of the laundry when I take pictures. It will be sprayed down with a wrinkle relaxer shortly to remedy the excessive wrinkles.

I'm hoping to paint this room soon (keep your fingers crossed) and I'm currently thinking a moody gray/blue color in here, possibly broken up with a large horizontal white stripe. We'll see.

But that's part of what's kept me so busy the last few weeks. The other project I've been working on should be up shortly (again, fingers crossed! I'm terrible with this procrastination sometimes).

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Spraypainted bust

I love the classic look of busts (and other statues) and I always keep my eye out for decent sized ones wherever I go. I would fill our house with them if I could :) So I was very happy when I found this beautiful lady at the thrift store recently.

She's clearly what I would (very un-politically correct) call Indian, but since the English language is very confusing at this point (Indian from India or Indian from America? Or Asian American from India or Native American from the US? Or maybe Asian from Asia or... Confusion all around here.) I'll clarify with the politically correct term Native American (and I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that she's NOT from Asia). No telling if she's supposed to be anyone in particular or just a generic beauty. Either way I liked her bones, so to speak.

You know thrift stores very rarely delivers you anything in a ready-to-use shape and this was the case with Pocahontas, here. Looked like someone had "colored her in" which made her look kind of creepy (blank black stare, anyone?). And she had a few little nicks here and there as well. So my thought was to paint her a classic black or white. After some pondering and a quick inventory of my spraypaint options on hand I went with a glossy white.

Ah, much better! The glossy bright white makes her look a little more "modern" as well.

All the little nicks are now perfectly hidden as well and she looks brand new.

When thrift store shopping you have to be prepared to buy something great on the spot because you know full well it's not going to be there the next time you drop by. This lady got purchased without me really having a great spot for her in our house because I didn't want to pass her up. So for now she hangs out in our bedroom where she gracefully holds a beaded necklace (which incidentally makes her look more like one of the other kind of *ahem* Indians, from Asia, you know. And what do I know, maybe she's got a little bit of both in her? :) The more of a mix - the merrier, right?).

 I assume you all already know to go to the thrift store with the spray paint option in mind for everything you see there? If not you should start doing that from now on. I always take my sweet time combing the isles at my favorite haunts while this mantra goes through my head "What could this be in a re-imagined state and how would it look with a coat of spray paint?". Re-purposing or re-painting something someone else has discarded can completely change the look and feel from outdated, boring and trashy to chic, elegant and surprisingly useful.

And THAT'S what the whole thrill of thrift store shopping is all about (for those of you who haven't tried it yet).

So, which of Pocahontas' three looks would you prefer if she were yours - original, all white or bejeweled? (Psst, there's no right answer since we're all different. I'm just curious :)) I happen to be very happy with her new look. The necklace may or may not be a permanent thing, though. We'll see.
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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Faux cowhide

Oh, I wish I could have the real deal. But there's no room for $200+ real deals in our budget at the moment. For just short of $20 I gave myself the look without the sting in the wallet.

 It was really easy, even those of you who don't normally craft can do this one. Promise :)

Here's what I did.

1. I went to the fabric store and got myself 2 yards of Velboa faux cowhide. It's normally $14.99 at Joann's but they were 40% off. (Notice the smudgy spot? I noticed after taking all the pics that I had a big fat finger print on the lens... Sorry about the unprofessionalism here :) So, disregard that, if you can. It's in every pic unfortunately. Scattered toys and DVDs are a bonus and something I provide for free in almost every single post.)

 2. Flipped the fabric over and free-handed a general outline of a standard cowhide with a Sharpie. Some asymmetry is good, it adds to the realism.

3. Cut off the excess fabric with scissors. This is a messy affair, be warned. I also tossed the whole thing in the dryer on low heat at this point to get rid off the fuzz. Worked like a charm! This fabric doesn't unravel so things should be good from now on.

4. Remembered to take a before picture for the blog!

5. Placed my "hide", anchoring the edges under furniture to help keep it in place. That's it!

A few things to consider.

This is just a flimsy piece of fabric, but it's layered over a sisal rug and carpeting so I think that will help things stay in place. I also placed the hide in the corner of the room where there's not normally that much traffic. I may, if I end up having too much trouble keeping it in place, add some carpet tape or non-slip pad underneath.

It's washable so that should help with the kids and their messy habits.

If I decide down the road that it's not working here it'll work just as well thrown over a bed or hung on the wall.

If you want it to be more like a standard rug with more heft I've seen people back the faux hide with a heavy fabric so that's something to consider as well. 

Anyway, I think this looks really good for the price and it'll give us something to dig our toes into as the winter approaches. Time to snuggle up!

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Friday, October 12, 2012

The many uses of contact paper

You guys know I like to be cheap, preferably without it LOOKING cheap. It can be a fine line sometimes and I can't guarantee I've always been on the right side of that line, but I certainly try :)

One of those cheap but amazing crafting materials I've used for impact without the price tag is contact paper. And when you feel like a change you just peel it off and start over! 

Many of you remember my fridge makeover (and if you don't you should definitely check it out).

Yup, that's all contact paper. And it's still going strong now 2 years later, looks just like it did when I first did it (minus a few scrapes inflicted by violent kids with sharp weapons). I could replace the scraped ones but I haven't bothered because they're barely visible, and the kids still live with us.

Well, recently I came across someone who'd done the same thing on a door window pane with transparent contact paper for a frosted look. Genius! I should have thought of that one but sadly I didn't. Didn't stop me from promptly copying the idea :)

I used her template because it was easier than hunting one down on the internet and I'm very happy with the result. The process was the same as for the fridge.


 This is the best pic I have of the before and it's hard to tell but I had a turquoise piece of knit fabric starched to the window for privacy. I liked the look OK but the frosted pattern looks more "professional", if you know what I mean :) I love that you can still wipe the window down with this frosted contact paper treatment which you can't do with frosted spray paint.

Purely by accident I also learned you can use matte black contact paper for a chalkboard surface. I know they have special contact paper for that but there's really no need to order specialty paper online since the regular matte paper works perfectly well.

 Case in point. This is our formerly aged white plastic front dishwasher covered in said matte contact paper. The dishwasher works perfectly well even if it looks as old as Methuselah so this was a quick fix. This has been up for, oh, I would say about a year? The kids use it all the time.

Their over enthusiasm has caused a rip in the contact paper and there's also some scratch marks so it's really time to replace the contact paper here. But that will be quick and free since I still have more contact paper on my roll. (The fact that we use chalk meant for sidewalks could have something to do with the scratch marks as well).

If you look beyond the fridge into the kitchen you see the dishwasher in it's virgin state.

So after discovering contact paper's chalkboard abilities I started having fun with my kitchen glass ware.

 Various glass containers collected at thrift stores, filled with the essentials of laundry and cooking.

 I found vintage labels online, printed them out on paper and copied their shapes onto contact paper and stuck them on my containers. Some lettering and doodling with a chalk pen and I have custom erasable labels in a vintage style.

I've also used this method for making custom labels to stick on gift bags, etc. I'm planning on making tie-on tags with stiff card and this contact paper to mark contents in various baskets around the house.

And finally. When I was tired of our dining room feeling dark and unfinished I added a chair rail in white contact paper cut into strips and adhered to the wall.

It's been up for almost a year already but I'm almost certain this is going to be a temporary solution. When I've finally gotten the curtain up in here and pillows added and the floor cloth repainted I think this room will feel more put together and the chair rail won't be needed anymore. But we'll see, I guess :)

Here's the dining room without the chair rail.

That's all I've come up with so far, as far as using contact paper in home decorating. Isn't it cool what you can do with such a cheap and easily available material, though? And it looks good (although that could be one of those "in the eye of the beholder" kind of things, I guess). Do you have any great ideas of how to use contact paper in the home? I would love to hear them!

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