Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Not your grandmom's quilt

Quilting. Isn't that for grandmoms? At least that's what I thought, until I saw this.

And then this.

And this.

Seeing these beautiful quilts with their whimsy, texture and fabulousness inspired me to tackle my first quilt about five months ago. It was a daunting task that required a lot of googling, alcohol and stitches but it all came together in the end. For your reference, the first quilt is pictured below: "Eat, play, sleep."

In addition to the links provided above, here are some nuggets of advice I've collected about quilting (mostly through my own mistakes):

1. Wash your fabric before sewing.
2. For beginners, when given the option of spray adhesive or pins, choose spray.
3. In basting your quilt make sure the back of the quilt is about an 2 " larger than the filling and the filling about 1" larger than the front.
4. Use caution when cutting out letters. The "e" in the eat, play, sleep quilt landed me in urgent care with five stitches to reattach my fingertip.
5. Painters tape works great if you're doing diagonal or straight quilting.
6. A useful video for teaching a beginner to attach bias tape.

*Here are some of my babies.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Reading Nook for a Young Girl

Remember the entertainment center we turned into a wine cabinet? Well, we also made two other projects using the adjacent sides to the center cabinet.

For this project, we created a reading nook for our seven year old, Ava.

I wish we could take all the credit for Ava’s room, but she chose the color palette and fabric for this particular project.

Here’s the side shelf we had to work with.

Jason sanded, primed and painted the visible parts of the shelf in a pale pink chosen by Ava.

She chose a fabric that matched the aqua and pink theme in her room perfectly. An extra bonus was the 60 % off sticker price from JoAnn Fabrics.

I worked with Jason to staple the batting and then the fabric to a piece of plywood for the bench. Tip: Use the tush test to help decide how much batting to use.

We had leftover mosquito netting from the porch project which we used to frame the reading nook. The flower lights are from Ikea.

Project Difficulty: Super Easy
Alcohol Consumed: 2 Miller Lites (one for Jason, one for me)
Assistance: Yes, Ava!

Friday, June 17, 2011


I'm sorry I didn't get this up yesterday like I said on twitter but I ran into some electrical problems with the wiring in the house.

I have been searching high and low for a chandelier to go into our bedroom. We wanted to replace the old ceiling fan with something a little more eye catching.

I found THE CHANDELIER in a small thrift store nearby. As you can see from the photos, it wasn't in the best condition but it did have potential. At $35, it was impossible to pass by.

Step 1. The first thing I did was removed everything I could. I took off each light holder and removed all the old wiring.

Step 2. The CLEANING. This was the worst step by far. I used Windex and a microfiber rag to scrub each glass piece one by one.

Step 3. Used sand paper to rough up eveything I needed to paint. We decided to go with white, so I used Polar Bear White paint and a small brush to carefully paint everything.

Step 4. After the paint was dry, I added new white lamp wiring from Home Depot. Attaching the wire was a little tricky because the original had metal wiring. I decided to go with plastic zip ties. The zip ties worked great to hold the wire to the metal frame while I connected everything. Finally, I finished the chandeleir with new socket covers.

Step 5. Removed the old ceiling fan!

This project was well worth the work. Now the only problem is that our daughter wants one in her room too. Final photos are below. If you have any questions or want to take on a chandeleir project of your own please let me know if you need any tips, or have any ideas on how to make the project quicker.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Domestic Failure Learns to Sew

Crafting and sewing don’t come naturally to me. But similar to running, these are hobbies that I’ve worked really hard at and have come to enjoy.

Roughly nine months ago, I discovered this pool of talent in the blogosphere. Bloggers like Sarah, Amanda, Melissa, and Lindsay who showcased their creations, and were kind enough to post tutorials.

Burlap seemed to be all the rage among the craft bloggers back in the fall. I dreamed of a wreath trimmed in burlap and fall ornaments, or a wall hanging with our family’s initials. Then, I came across Lindsay’s tutorial for a burlap table runner to drape over our brand-spanking new Amish-built farmhouse table. I was immediately smitten, and just knew: I HAD TO MAKE THAT RUNNER!

I have absolutely no experience sewing, which was blatantly apparent to the woman selling the machines at JoAnn Fabric the day I went in to ask questions. She said “foot” I thought “pedal,” she said “bobbin” I though “thimble” – if there were ever a sign that I should quit, it was then. Rather than face scorn from the community I was so eager to join, I figured I could buy the machine online where I could enjoy anonymity and a salesperson who wouldn’t scoff at my poor sewing vernacular.

I’ve included a photo below of our 8ft burlap table runner. In hindsight, burlap isn’t an ideal material for a sewing virgin to work with, but I was committed. When you look closely, you’ll notice the runner does not follow a straight path, it balloons in some areas and concaves in others, but I made it and I love it for all of it’s flaws, not in spite of them (sort of like our first child).

Project Difficulty: If you can sew a straight line, you’re golden.
Alcohol Consumed: Two beers
Assistance: My mom

*Would love to hear about your firsts (if you can remember back that far)!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Repurposing an Old Entertainment Center

The trouble with moving into a new home - your old furniture doesn't always fit. We had a ginormous entertainment center with no place to go, so, we gave it a makeover.

Step 1. Removed the hardware and the sliding doors on the TV cabinet.

Step 2. Added a piece of 3/4 inch plywood to the back of the unit because the orginal had holes for the cable wires.

Step 3. Cut a 3/4 inch piece for a shelf. After staining the plywood to match the orginal color, I expertimented with wax technique to give it an aged look. I added the wax to the corners of the hutch as well as random areas throughout.

Step 4. Painted the unit with Behr flat matte Chianti (it was only appropriate) and then rubbed all the wax off with an old rag.

Step 5. Secured wine glass holders to the top from Bed Bath and Beyond and added a wine bottle rack below the shelf.

Step 6. Threw some lights on the top and it was complete.

*Here is the before and after.

Repurposing an old entertainment center

Linking to A Diamond In the Stuff's Party"

Entry Way Addition, Flea Market Etiquette

We recently went to a flea market in Williams Grove, Pa. As soon as we walked in, Carolyn instantly fell in love with these vintage Pennsylvania license plates.

While Carolyn chased around the kids, I shuffled through the pile. The guy behind me started yelling in Spanish; it doesn't occur to me that he's yelling at ME until Carolyn clues me in. Apparently he didn't like the way I was handing his plates. Of course when I asked him "how much?" he replied "$25 a plate, $175 for the group." So we moved on.

An hour later, as we're leaving the flea market, Carolyn asked to try one more time with the guy for the plates. I agreed because I really liked them too. I decided to stay out of view in case this guy held a grudge. So of course Carolyn swoops in and works her charm. She gets 7 license plates for $25. The man told her a story about this guy who wanted the signs earlier, but he didn't like his attitude so he charged him $25 a plate.

I guess my lesson is to send in the bride to do the negatitions. Anyway, we have them up in our side entry way now and I think it adds a nice touch to an otherwise boring wall. Take a look.

Beyond The Picket Fence

Front Porch on a Budget

When Jason asked me to contribute to the blog, I was really excited. After almost nine years of marriage we're blogging together! This is a huge step in our relationship.

Since summer has arrived early here in the Northeast, I want to focus this first post on one of our favorite rooms - our porch.

When we bought our home in June of 2010, the porch flooring was less than desirable. After vacuuming and cleaning the bejeezus out of the tiles, it still looked like this.

Now, thanks to some outdoor carpet, mosquito netting (from Ikea), and wicker furniture from Craig's list, it looks like this.

This project cost us less than $500 and roughly half a case of Corona to complete (children not included).

Project Difficulty: The only real challenge here was laying the carpet so that the seams match.
Alcohol Consumed: Half a case of Corona stretched over the course of a month.
Assistance: Jason and Carr

Finally a New Headboard

This was our old headboard. It was time to get rid of those sea shells.

You may be wondering while I am showing you a closet door that I found as someone's trash. This is going to be our new headboard.

The first thing I did was remove all the hardware. Then I cut it down to size for a queen bed leaving about 3 inches on each side to hang out. I used a 1 x 6 x 8 for the top ledge and some old crown molding as a decorative trim.

This photo shows eveything attached. After that I sanded, primed and painted it white. I then sanded it again to give it a distressed look. Below is the finished product.

Bedroom Makeover

Our bedroom was in need of a major overhaul since we moved in. It was a kids room before so the blue was little bright. I think you will agree after viewing the images.

The idea was to add a chair rail around the entire room and look for a light gray color. First I had to prime the entire room to make sure the blue didn't show through.

We decided to go with Behr Twlight Gray. I also got the paint with the primer in it as well just to make sure we didn't see anymore blue.You can see below that I also added the chair rail which I primed and painted white. We were really happy with the final result.

The next thing to do is to trash the old bed. Check back to see the new bed.

Great Finds

I recently picked up a couple things that I saw on the street for trash. The first thing I found was a old door. Not sure what I am going to do with it but I coudn't pass it up. I will show you what I come up with.
Item number two-not really sure what to call it, it is an old stand, but it has nice lines on the legs, I have an idea for this one so stay tuned for an update.

Final item I found at a thift store for 3 dollars, I couldn't pass up the frame in this picture. I have a really cool idea for this frame as well so stay tuned for that update as well.

Sports Lockers

I decided to start a blog to share some of my projects and designs and hope that others can get some ideas and tips from it. Unfortunately I don't have a lot of photos for some of these first couple projects but I figure that I can sort of show them finished so you can get and idea of what I can do. We bought our house in June of 2010 and my wife and I have been adding some country to it ever since.
This first project was really fun for me cause I grew up playing sports and I wanted my son to have a cool sports room. I wanted to add some lockers to my son's room and I struck gold on Craigslist. I highly recommend it for finding cheap items that people are just trying to get rid of. Anyway I paid 40 dollars for a set of 3 attached lockers. I took them apart to make two separate lockers cause I wanted to add a bench in the middle. I sanded, primed and painted them with a rich blue color to mtach the Phillies. Installed a white bench in the middle and that completed the design. I also made sure to attach the lockers to the wall so they have no chance of falling. I think it came out pretty good and I am pleased with the results take a look.