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!

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!

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.

For Writing Sweet Nothings

One of Brendan and my little relationship secrets are love notes. That’s right. We write little obnoxiously cute notes to each other. The tradition started thanks to his crazy schedule. I would visit him, he would leave before I woke up, so I would leave a note for him upon his return to the house. Living together allows us to see each other more often, but still waking up to a sweet note and a waiting bagel when he’s been gone all night and already asleep before I get out of the shower is quite fun and always brings smiles.

We always talked about making a note book decided to our little sweet nothings but never got around to it. Finally this Christmas all that changed.

This is one of the quickest and easiest craft projects I have every dreamed up. I snagged the already fun notebooks from Target (3 pack so triple score for me). The other materials included a black Sharpie, and pre sticky craft paper which I already had on hand (scrap book section of your local craft store).

I mimicked the patter on the cover for my “title plate”. Used a circle template and a straight edge, cut it out, added a title and flair around the sides, stuck it to the cover and I was done.

Brendan was BEYOND excited to open them Christmas morning. I even think there was a mini “aww” out of him. Now I get even more excited to find a note since they are now hidden in a beautiful book.