A Hand Made Valentine

There’s a tradition in my house. Every Valentine’s Day, since the first year I was born I believe, my mother has made my father a home-made Valentine. Always out of construction paper, sometimes with paper doilies, almost always featuring a picture (or 12) from the last year, and progressively more witty/corny as the years pass. We’re talking almost 30 years of hand made cards.

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Valentine Circa 1989 (I’m the shorty on the right)

It’s one tradition my sisters and I always look forward to. Usually pictures of “all of Daddy’s girls” make it into the card. The crowning jewel in the collection is the year we moved into the new house, Mom worked the lyrics of our family theme-song “Once in a Lifetime” by the Talking Heads into the card:

“and you may find yourself in a beautiful house”

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“with a beautiful wife”

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“and you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?”

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Ever since my hubs (what?!? Still so weird to say) and I moved into our apartment I’ve carried on the tradition of making hand-made Valentines. I always look forward to breaking out the construction paper, glitter, scissors, and glue and rifling through the last year of pictures for a theme/idea. Lets just say this year’s is going to be epic (and easily 100 pages long). I can’t post this years just yet (need to keep it a surprise for my Valentine).

One of my favorites from years passed is our 5th Valentine together.

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They aren’t super fancy and polished, but they don’t need to be. Getting down and dirty with old craft skills and slapping something together is sometimes the best way to express your love. It’s also something to cherish forever. These Valentine’s are also great for a last minute “oh no I forgot to get a present!”

What’s Your Numbah, Sugah?

03.01.05 the date that I like to think changed my life forever. It was that date 8 years ago that I met my soul mate and never looked back. We still to this day wish each other “happy anniversary” the first of every month. It has turned into more of a game so many months later who can wish it first and on what media device. (I usually win on all accounts)

03.01.05 are our numbers. Period. Even when we (finally) get married I’m sure we’ll still do something special on the first of March. These numbers were my semi inspiration for a project I’d been dying to do. As seen in a previous post I recovered my blue college apartment pillows to match our red cabinet. Love them. The fabric however was rather summery and just doesn’t work year round.

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Graphic and typography items are popping up everywhere; numbers, letters, quotes. I decided to take our most treasured numbers and create graphic pillows for the living room. The process was easy. Find a font you love, I used the font “Elephant” (should be standard on most PC’s) I really liked the vintage feel of this font; the serifs, the almost hand typed feel if you could call it that.

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Once a font is selected increase the font size, a lot. I think my letters were done at a 60 or 70 point. Print them out, tape or rubber cement the print down to a thicker piece of paper, and cut them out to form a stencil. If you have a steady enough hand I recommend tracing the number/letters with pencil and painting within the pencil lines. You could also use the stencil as a true stencil but I found the paint tends to sneak underneath creating less than graphic crisp lines.

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I used cheap yet thick and sturdy fabric from Ikea, $3.99 for half a yard and typical craft paint $2 in a charcoal gray. You could use a fabric medium if you chose to but I found the paint spread and held just fine, even after washing. I used a graphic red striped fabric (also Ikea) for the reverse side to play with the red accents throughout the room and the vintage graphic feel of the pillow. I used the same pocket hemmed technique illustrated in the previous pillow post, an easy way to create removable pillow covers.

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I really love how they came out and adore that they reflect something so meaningful to us in such a subtle, stylish way.

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PS Happy Anniversary Babe! 8 years (AAAHHHHH!!) Time really flies when you’re having the time of your life. Looking forward to many more adventures together. Love you!

What I Bought on my Summer Vacation

As mentioned in a previous post, we ventured to the center of New York State for a family reunion. On our way home through back country roads, we happened upon a little antique shop on a corner, a corner that held my ‘chair destiny’. Wrapped around the building was a multitude of dining chairs on display. Big ones, wood ones, ladder backs, 50’s vintage, and 2 mid century modern beauties. As my head craned and almost detached, eagle eyes locked on my dreams quickly moving out of view I shrieked at my future hubs, “aahhh! Stop! Reverse! U-turn! Chairs. Dream chairs. Please U turn. About face! HUURRRYYY!” I think I straight up stopped forming sentences mid way through my spazz out. A U-turn he did make and chair destiny we did fufill.

Oh yes. And it gets better. We checked them out, 1 leg looked a little wobbly (and by wobbly I mean basically detached), the wood finish was flaking, and the seat fabric wasn’t my dream BUT the lines were perfect and exactly what I’ve been looking for for almost 2 years. I’m sure I looked extra lovingly into Mr. Fabulous’s eyes with that “I absolutely can’t live without these” look and he agreed, they were pretty snazzy. ***upon proof reading Future Hubs would like the record to state that “pretty snazzy” was not in his vocabulary that day*** As we carried them around the corner to chat with the owner, I prepared my haggling brain. “So how much are we willing to spend? I’m thinking like $20 a chair tops.” Mr. Fabulous didn’t totally agree as one was breaking, he was thinking $15 and $10 for the slightly damaged one. I heard where he was coming from but still after searching forever for chairs this fabulous I was set on $40 for the pair max.

We found the owner, told him we were interested in the chairs and asked for a price. He shifted his stance and said “oh I dunno, $10 for the pair?”
….

(pause for dramatic effect)….

….

“SOLD! I’ll grab my cash!”

I don’t know how I didn’t kiss this man. Dream chairs for $5 a piece. I kid you not the exact chairs in New York City would easily have been $20-25 each. Got to love being in the country.

I will confess the chair leg fell off as we were loading it into the car but I didn’t care. A little wood glue and all would be fine. Needless to say these beauties are my next little project and I can not wait. A play by play on the rehab is soon to come. Basic goal is fix the leg, sand down, re-stain, recover the seats, and enjoy.

Did any of you find a must have house item this summer? Freak out on your significant other over chairs of destiny? Let me know! I love hearing your stories.

The Mitten Tree

While trying to fill some space on my autumn gallery wall(I promise I will post how to hang a gallery wall super super super soon) I happened upon this print on Etsy by O’Reilly Ink. I really enjoyed the simplicity of the piece but wasn’t crazy about the colors. Plus I didn’t feel passionately about any of the tree species featured.

I decided to create a knock off print based on the design concept but featuring colors and subjects I was more into.

I selected the Sassafras tree as my study subject. If you are not aware of the amazingness of this tree it’s also lovingly called the Mitten Tree. Scientifically it’s the only deciduous tree that produces 3 different shaped leaves (at least the only one in the North East/North America).

There is also a fairy tale version “How the Sassafras Tree (or Mitten Tree) Got its Leaves” (as best remembered by yours truly)

Once upon a time there was a little old lady who had a cabin in the woods. Winter was coming so she decided to make some mittens. She finished her first mitten and realized she forgot the thumbs.

So she threw that pair out her window. The following day she tried again to make a pair of mittens this time she knitted too many thumb holes so out the window that pair went.

Finally the following day she knitted the perfect pair of mittens. Thumb holes in the right places, plenty of room for fingers.

She went to bed that night proud of her work. She woke up the next morning to find a mouse scurrying out of the cabin with her perfect mittens. Luckily she remembered how to make the proper pair and didn’t think much of the mouse, hoping the mittens would keep him warm. Winter came and went and the little old lady had warm hands all winter long. Then it was time for Spring which brought on the usual chirping birds, blooming flowers, and a remarkable new tree outside of the old lady’s cabin. A tree which was growing right outside the window she threw all her failed mittens out of. Now, what made this tree remarkable was it’s leaves reflected all the mittens she made over the last winter.

And that my friends is the story of the Mitten Tree.

So, anyway, this is a story I grew up with and a tree I always look for when out and about. This tree I decided shall be my muse. Creating the artwork is pretty easy, anyone with mild artistic talent and computer skills should be able to pull it off.

First dust off your pencils and sketch the leaf (leaves) of your choice. You could probably trace the leaf if that makes you more comfortable. Once you’re happy with your sketch grab a thin tipped Sharpie or other black inked pen. Outline the leaves and add a few veins for good measure.

Once the sketching is done and outlining is complete scan it into your computer. I used Photoshop however even Paint would do the trick. Open the scan up and use the paint bucket tool to fill in the fields with whatever color you desire. Finally find a fun free hand font and add the genus, species, and common name to the graphic. Print that sucker up slap it in a frame and admire your amazing artistic skills.

Yay cheap and easy diy artwork!

Just like Two Kids in Love

Time for a little lovey dovey super simple date night idea. Since The Fiance and myself are basically on opposite schedules most days we cherish a night together, especially one that receives the coveted title of “Date Night”.

There’s no reason Date Night needs to mean little black dress fancy restaurant and dropping easily $100 for one romantic evening together. Sometimes you want to behave like two little school kids, complete with mac and cheese and blanket forts.

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That’s right it was a pj totin’, “Goonies” watchin’, blanket fort buildin’ kind of date. (Really is there any better movie to watch in a blanket fort than “The Goonies”?) Building balnket forts as adults is basically a million billion times cooler than 6 year old blanket fort building mainly because couches can be turned on end and moved around for optimal fort awesomeness. We also incorporated Christmas lights for a more romantic ambiance.

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The Mac and Cheese was probably the best home made style I’ve ever had. Recipe was thanks to Pottery Barn. I highly recommend you all to give it a whirl. The cheeses I used included Parmigiano Reggiano, Gouda, Montery Jack, and White Cheddar. I also used French’s Dijion Mustard with Chardonnay Wine, I secretly think that mustard choice added the amazing flavor.

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It was probably one of the best dates the two of us ever had. No cares, no worries, just an excellent youthful movie and a kid favorite all grown up dinner. Did I mention dessert was brownie sundaes with rainbow sprinkles?

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Yeah that’s right. We don’t mess around in this house. I highly recommend a regress-ful date night (or afternoon). Acting like a kid is some of the most fun an adult can ever have. And best part of blanket forts in your own grown up apartment? No “Dad” shows up at 5 from work saying “alright, looks like you had fun today now take it down.” That sucker was up for easily a week of enjoyment.

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The Big 3-OH! Claims Another

Today is Mr. Fiance’s BIG 3-OH! Saturday was dubbed “Birthday Observance Day”. We had a jam packed day filled with kayaking, friends, dinner, carnival, fireworks, fried dough deliciousness, and of course a camp fire night cap. (It’s not a future hubby party without a campfire.)

The jam packed day caused last minute me to run out of time to get my big birthday present project assembled in time. No worries, he just got to wake up the next morning to more birthday fun.

I found this project MONTHS ago on Pinterest. I absolutely fell in love with it being the shutterbug and memory cherisher that I am. The project was straight forward enough. get 30 balloons, get 30 pictures 1 from each year of the birthday boys life.   Punch a hole in each picture, tie it to the string of each balloon and surprise the lucky birthday recipient. Obviously with precious photo originals I strongly recommend scanning in the pictures. Once scanned, you can dress them up a little. I added a mix of Polaroid and old school photo edges. The white edges also have the added bonus of an area to write the age for each picture.

A few of my absolute favorites:

Future hubs is on the right, one of his closest friends who also happens to be the guy that we met each other through is on the left. His face is classic. Apparently getting sweaters for Christmas is the bestest of all time. YYEEEAAAHHHH!

This fashion statement is probably my favorite of all time. The shirt, the tie (note how it’s tucked into his pants), the watch that could eat his arm, spiked hair and over sized aviators just round out this early 90’s awesomeness.

A slight word of warning. As stated before I was a bit last minute/out of time (as always). I had picked up the balloons on Saturday afternoon. I didn’t have time to attach the pictures until Sunday morning. By the time I attached the pictures to the balloons they didn’t have enough helium left to keep the balloons in the air. (note in the project link “I used the bed for photo support”) I had to change my plan slightly and move the balloons from the hallway to the living room (so i could use the couch as support).

Other than that one minor hick-up the project was a complete success. Thank you Future Mama-in-law for all of your help. I could have never done this without you. Also thank you to the rest of his family who contributed their own little birthday wishes/happy memories which I attached to the back of pictures that featured the both of them. The birthday boy truly loved it. He couldn’t stop talking about it all day. Happy 3-OH Babe. Love you forever and always.

Outdoor Bistro Excitement

Hello folks!

I’ve been running around like a crazy lady with back to back wedding weekends, mini vacations, and 5k training just to name a few. Needless to say, I’ve got lots of exciting things to be posting about very soon. One quick post for now. We finally found a moment to reschedule our Ikea Date which has been in the works since before Christmas. The date was fabulous. Silliness did arise. Obviously. We are talking roughly 120,000 square feet of “lets play house” after all. Ahh Ikea. How I love thee. In addition to the silliness we were also quite successful in our travels bringing home some loot including fabric for some pillows I will be whipping up, a basket for hiding some Xbox paraphernalia, and these little babies:

Chairs to complete our little bistro dining in the sky. Ahh. I can’t wait for a sunny Sunday brunch. This is of course not the finished product. I have plans to spray the table a rubbed bronze to complement the chairs a little better.

Now for the price break down (and the reasons I love Ikea) I wanted those super cute and fabulously timeless little French bistro chairs. You know the one’s that are all over Bryant Park in the city (New York City for those of you not in the greater NYC area).

You know the ones that can be found online for a reasonable $198 a chair or $318 a pair. Ooof. Seriously? $200 for a little bistro chair? Not for this cheap girl. No thank you. Enter Ikea: the fabulous design at fabulous prices dream land. They have arguably the same chair at a 93% savings. Now THAT’S the kind of red tag discount this girl likes.

So for $30 we got 2 brand new cheapo but equally well designed french bistro knock offs and a table for sunny summer dining. Side note: table was saved from the landfill aka found on the curb a few doors down from my parents’ house. Excellent score indeed.

Again there’s more work to be done but with such a fabulous spring evening I couldn’t resist setting them up, de-pollening the table, and snapping a few shots. Looking forward to spending many summer evenings sipping a margarita or two and early sunny mornings with some Irish breakfast tea and French breakfast muffins. Yums.

More Knock Off Designer Curtains

If it hasn’t been assumed yet through following this blog, I’m a cheap, cheap girl. I would rather spend hours and hours of personal time creating an identical piece of anything that is exorbitant in price. Curtains are obviously no exception. I’ve already shared my knock off Waverly pattern that saved me HUNDREDS for our bedroom curtains. The bedroom isn’t the only place knock off designer curtains exist in our house. I also crafted up our dining room curtains. I really wanted these fabulous curtains from West Elm featured on my inspiration board for the dining room. Grayish with Marigold horizontal lines running across them. Lovely. Unfortunately if I remember correctly they were going to be $40 or more a panel. Not a Lizzie price tag at all.

I decided the basic style of the curtains were easy enough to knock off. I started by purchasing basic brownish gray curtains from Ikea for if I remember correctly $18 for the pair. They weren’t satin/silk but for 4 times cheaper cotton would be fine with me. I then enlisted the help of my fabulous Mom to sew the horizontal stripes. We figured out how high we wanted the strips to sit (26″ from top of curtain). I also chose (since I had creative freedom and all) to make 2 stripes instead of 1, spacing them 1 inch apart.

Using Marigold satin ribbon we spaced it, pinned it, and sewed it. If anyone has a cat in their house they know how these darling creatures always want to be front and center helping with any project or activity.

The entire project didn’t take more than an hour or two including the hashing out of how high and how to space. The worst part of the entire endeavor was how wiggly the fabric insisted on being. Well, the wiggling of the ribbon and the lack of pressure on the foot of the sewing machine we were using. None the less I really love how they came out. I would argue that they are better than the originals.

Home Made Designer Curtains

Quickly after moving in, maybe I will confess to before moving in, I started planning what to do with our new +/- 1,000 square feet. Upon my many searches for inspiration and direction I stumbled upon FABULOUS fabric by Waverly from Joann’s Fabric.

I was in love. And it was so perfect for my attempts to make our spaces gender neutral and desire to incorporate our love of the great outdoors. The problem? We have 2 windows in our bedroom, the fabric was $24.99 a yard, and to outfit our bedroom with simple straight curtains would cost us roughly $225. Yeah. My perfect curtains were quickly slipping out of my grasp. Thankfully a shopping trip to the local Target saved my dream. for $35 I bought plain Jane beige canvas curtains (no sewing required always a plus, one less task to assign to Mama). Then took a trip to the craft store, bought some acrylic craft paint (under $7) and went to work.

First I sketched out the leaf patter on thick Bristol board. I sketched out 3, one for each color and to create a little visual interest as each leaf on the original is a little different. Then I cut it out with my trusty exacto blade. From there it was a simple monkey see monkey do. Looked at the image of the designer fabric, lay out the stencils as accurately as you can. Dab some paint on, alternate colors so as to not smudge wet paint everywhere and voila! Designer fabric custom curtains at a fraction of the cost!

Brendan especially was impressed with the resemblance to the original, and other than taking a bit longer than I would have thought or liked (seriously was a lot of fabric to get through) I’m equally pleased.

The roll up curtain is over the bed. I like to think it creates a headboard/focal point/canopy type effect. Also if you noticed we went SUPER thrifty on the curtain rods. The “theme” of our bedroom is “Woodsy Retreat”. To play with the theme we went for a hike, grabbed some already fallen branches cut them to size, and hung them on our existing curtain rob holders. Very simple, VERY cost effective, and frankly I think they look pretty awesome.