Last fall I hit some nice clearance sales and picked up some off-season summer clothes for my kids to grow into. This spring I pulled them out and, all new and with tags and exciting, except that during the intervening six months my son Worth apparently decided he will no longer wear plain pocket t-shirts. They are “plain” and “babyish.” Because, you know, all really big boys go around with gigantic lizards or tractors on their shirts, right? Hmmmm. But instead of just giving up on these perfectly nice shirts I decided to try and liven them up a bit to suit my boy’s taste. I made freezer paper stencils and painted little “friends” coming out of the pockets. Now he likes them and wears them quite happily. I’m a little horrified that I ruined perfectly nice shirts with my bad freehand “art,” but am just going to focus on the positive. I told him this one was a little buddy–but he calls it a pocket monster.
This one is a shark that looks sort of like a blue banana too. But Worth loves it.
And finally…I realize this is probably going to end up on one of those websites where mean women make fun of other people’s blogs, but whatever. In retrospect I should have printed images on the paper to make my stencils, but I felt all self-empowered to do my own bad art, so I did. This one was supposed to be a dog, but Dorothy thinks it is a giraffe, Rob says llama, and Worth calls it a wolf. Really, I don’t care, I’m just glad it is shirt #3 that my son will now quite happily put on and wear.
My coffee table was looking really shabby. I bought it used on Craig’s List back before I had kids myself, when a friend’s son drew all over my old one in black Sharpie. It served us well through Dorothy’s toddler-hood, sustaining the abuse of many marker and crayon episodes, though I kept my Sharpies under lock and key. By the time Worth came along I thought it really could use replacing, but I hated the idea of getting a new one and then watching it suffer through another child. I decided to stick it out, and that poor old table got pock-marked when Worth banged on it with wooden food, scuffed when the boy and his puppy made a game of chasing each other up and over it and off the other side, and colored on some more. Then the legs, which always needed a periodic tightening, actually reached a place where they just wobbled hopelessly and no amount of wood glue could keep them from going askew when someone forgot, once again, that the poor old table was not for sitting. I still wasn’t sure I could get another one–after all, dog and boy are no more reliable around furniture than they were, and the Sharpies are bound to come out sometime. But then I saw the one in the picture above at a local thrift store for $15.00. I figured that for $15 I could watch the decline of another table; at least this one seems sturdy.
I sanded it and used chalkboard paint on the top panels. Maybe having a legal place to write on the table will save it from other child artwork mayhem. (A girl can dream.) I painted the rest in a shade of red that goes nicely with the flowers in my curtains, then distressed the edges a bit with sandpaper so when my paint job starts getting chipped it might look a little intentional.
The chalkboard panels look interesting and are functional too, since we often sit on the sofa to do our homeschool work. This is our official “first day of school” photo from this morning. I love not rushing out the door in the morning! We aren’t morning people, my kids and I.
I sewed erasers from scraps and an old towel. It has pockets on the back to stow the chalk.
I had some red paint left a the end of the project so I painted an old end table to match. I love the way paint makes non-matchy things go together.
Since I was already in furniture-painting mode I finally got around to sprucing up a desk chair I’d bought at a thrift store more than a year ago. I was using a very ugly, wobbly chair at my desk and I’d found this sturdy wooden one to replace it. I painted it in black paint left over from my china hutch project and recovered the seat, which had been wearing ripped faux leather. Now it feels good to have this room that we spend so much time in be a little brighter and all around less wobbly as we start the school year.
I feel like this is one of those instances where the final product looks much cuter in my kitchen than it does in this crummy picture. I should outsource my photography to someone with better skills! Disclaimers aside, I gave my kitchen canisters a little update. The sturdy glass jars where still in perfectly good condition after ten or so years of wear, but the metal lids were starting to rust. I used craft paint on the lids, then coated them with a polyacrylic sealer. The top of the lids don’t come into contact with food, nor do they need to be dishwasher safe, so I’m hoping this solution stops the rust and improves the look of them.I tried to get a picture of one of the lids in front of the curtains that inspired the design. In retrospect I could probably have stamped on polka dots in the same paint colors and it would have looked nice with less work, but I didn’t think of that in time.
Belle the dog was the
victim recipient of another of my recent projects. I’m quite pleased with this one and foresee homemade collars to match every season and holiday in lucky Belle’s future. I purchased inexpensive parachute clips, nylon webbing and D rings at my local crafts shop. I sewed decorative fabric over the webbing and then assembled the collar. This would have been a more complicated project if I’d had to make the collar adjustable, but since I was only sewing it for one full-grown dog I just based it on the measurement of one of her other collars already adjusted to fit her. The whole project only took a few minutes and a couple dollars–now I have to figure out which of my camper fabrics to use on the next one!
Belle models her new collar.
My husband (a good guy, let me state for the record) finally got to the point on his honey-do list that he put up our new dining room light fixture and I got to see my new painted shades in action.
I couldn’t get just the right representative photo of them so I snapped them from all angles.
The matte black of the fixture matches my painted hutch.
When I read in magazines about the “soothing” effect of neutral colors I always get confused. Neutral colors make me itch! I love color, and I love my new rainbow shades too.
Here is the view from the kitchen, a big change from where we started. It is fun to watch our house become more and more ours as we continue to live in it and make little tweaks to make us happy.
Two unrelated projects, two different kinds of paint, but one color scheme. Here we go:
Folding chairs, rescued from my basement. They came with the house. First I spray painted them…
…then made fabric covers for the back and a nice padded foam one for the seat. I’m keeping these in my garage to pull out when I need comfy seating for child-watching in my back yard and swing-set area. Love making something cute out of old forgotten items left in my basement!
And the new camper. Unfortunately I haven’t finished this job because of threat of rain, but I have one coat on most of three sides. It looks sweet. Here’s the door side before (can you find me in this photo?)…
…and after. Check out my rims! It’s hard to tell exactly what the original blue shade was on here, but I think I probably went just one notch brighter. I love it so much that the first night I had to keep peeking at it our my bedroom window, just to take one more little look at the awesome aqua stripe. My husband has started teasing me about it, which I totally deserve. I can’t wait to finish up the exterior paint job and really make some progress on the inside. It’s going to be so cute! I’ve been watching (and winning) some online auctions for vintage Pyrex dinnerware, with turquoise and flamingo (reddish pink) bands. It’s going to look perfect in this little camper. You know me and dishes, right? I can’t pass up the opportunity.
Now that my book-binding supplies are dusted off maybe I’ll use them more. I made this little book for an old friend who was recently married. It served as a sign-in book at the reception. I covered davey board with pretty paper from a local art supply store in the colors of the wedding.
I printed a cover page with their event information and lined inside pages on my home printer, which could be set to print oddly-sized pages. I purchased acid-free sketch paper for the inside pages and then cut them to the size I wanted before I printed on them. I sewed the sheets together with linen thread before gluing them in the cover. It felt nice to supply something small and handmade for the wedding that the couple could use as a keepsake. I was amused when my daughter and nieces all took the guestbook very seriously at the reception and each signed her name individually.
I just keep forgetting to put these photos up. Last month we observed the same spring break as our local public schools. For families who send their kids offsite to school, spring break can be an opportunity for family fun and togetherness. As homeschoolers, I decided the kids and I could use the opportunity to take a break from each other! Each morning I packed them off to one or the other of their grandparents’ homes, where they ate too much dessert and took “field trips” as varied as Chuck-e-Cheese and a train history museum, then came back home at dinner time. While they were gone I spent five solid days painting at home. When I’d gone through the rooms after we moved in, removing wallpaper and adding color, I skipped some of the more time-consuming, lower-impact jobs. Over spring break I went back and did the more thankless jobs, finally finishing up the horrid living room ceiling (it actually looks halfway decent now–I’d photograph it but it just looks like, you know, a ceiling), and painting doors, trim, and window casings. This house already had light painted trim and I unified it by using glossy white on all of it. I know there are differing opinions on trim paint, but I love the look of crisp, white trim and doors. It’s so fresh and offsets the painted walls so well. Plus the glossy surface is easy to clean, which is important with kids and pets.
I had another lingering paint project outside. We’d painted the garage door and the light above it last year, but the decrepit white shutter on the side of the garage was still peeling. I painted it red too and it looks much better. We’ve still got a long way to go on improving the outside of this house (hello crumbling tile on the porch!), but every small project moves us in the right direction. I can see the garage from my family room with the Kiki Pinata curtains, so now the view outside kind of matches.
We start school Monday! I loved this house before we purchased it party for this cozy, cabinlike room tucked down in the basement. Touring houses almost two years ago I kept my eye out for the perfect space the kids and I could dedicate to our creative endeavors–a parent/child studio. I’m kind of joking when I now call it our homeschool classroom; we’ll learn here, as we’ll learn everywhere. We do have a table and chairs set aside in this room for our morning circle and lessons. I’ve not gotten much use out of this room up to this point because it is, ahem, rather afflicted by water. Like the kind that is supposed to stay outside in heavy rains. Yuck. But we’ve made some changes to our gutters and are hoping to have some professional work done soon. Meanwhile, I’ve ditched the rug and repainted the floor and I’m hopeful that even with a little water we should be able to clean up and move on.
Since we’re going with painted concrete floors until the water problems are completely solved I thought I might as well have fun with the concept. I used exterior paint to make a big sun on the floor in front of our awesomely cozy (and functional) fireplace. On some wicked winter morning in a few months I will laugh at the snow and the cold outside, give thanks that I do not have to take my car on icy roads to participate in any kind of carpool, and will head down to our quilt-laden futon by the fire with a huge stack of good books, a mug of coffee, my kids and be happy.
New beeswax crayons.
Paintings move from the easel to our art line.
A thrift-store mirror and some hooks turn our dress-up box into a full station.
Tools of the trade…
And one snapshot of my garden, to represent that our “classroom” is actually much bigger than our basement studio. This is going to be an adventure! Hopefully one that is fun. I’m excited.
Wishing you and yours a happy start to the school year as well!
I didn’t even clean off my counters for this new picture, but that would have been too staged anyway. Before and after–new appliances but same everything else, plus paint and silver hardware. I finished the curtains at 2 a.m!
We took a trip to Columbus, Ohio. Our puppy traveled well but we did feel like a traveling circus (a circus in a gas-guzzling rental car, since mine is still in the shop) barreling across Kentucky and Ohio with our collection of children and dog, ready to descend on the usually calm and tidy home of my sister-in-law. She’s good-natured, though, and seems fond of us anyway! I took this photo of some baby birds in the tree outside her home. The monks who wrote the beautiful puppy book I blogged about earlier suggested that dog ownership would make me see the world in new ways and they are right. As I get to know Belle better, I also notice that I have a more keen awareness of all the animal drama playing out around me. From other dogs on the street to the screechings of the poor mama bird as I photographed her children, I’m grateful for the new dimension puppy companionship has added to my life.
We visted the Santa Maria replica on a hot afternoon. Worth has developed a fascination with boats lately that unfortunately did not seem to extend to this one. I think it was too large for him to realize he was in a vessel rather than on the shore. We at least managed to keep him from going overboard, and the rest of us enjoyed the tour.
When we got home from Ohio my mother and I embarked on our biggest interior painting project yet–the kitchen cabinets. Is my salt shaker rolling his eyes at us? Perhaps, since there is a great chaos in the kitchen. But I think (hope!) that it’s going to look great when we’re done.
Painting cabinets is not for the faint of heart. I did it once before, when we lived in Oak Park, Illinois, and it was a big project then without kids or pups. Still, it’s now nearing completion and I’m excited to share before and after pictures soon!
Hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend! We took the puppy to the celebration at Crescent Hill. We thought the pet-friendly event would be nice socialization for her and that if she got too sidetracked by the sights and the smells I could just carry her. That plan worked okay except I failed to anticipate the mobs of children and old men who would want to stop and pet the puppy. So we made our way slowly through the celebration and really that was just about perfect. There was enough time and puppy love to go around! My kids were also looking pretty cute in their patriotic hand-me-downs. (I [heart] generous friends with older children!)
I realized on the morning of the 4th that I didn’t really have anything red, white or blue I felt like wearing. I thought of some cute cherry fabric in my stash and I had just enough time before we were to meet friends at the celebration to whip up a new tank top. Unfortunately, even though I altered the pattern I’d used to make pajamas recently the tank was still too loose and poofy for me to want to wear it out in public. I made do with a plain white t-shirt instead and will sew sleep shorts to match this tank, now an accidental nightie instead of day-wear. Oh well, new pajamas are nice too, and I doubt I would have wanted to wear cherries on many days besides the 4th anyway.
This project is one Rob and I have worked on together over several weekends. Our detached garage was looking decrepit, with peeling paint on the door and a rusty old light. Rob sanded the door and we painted it in white with the gold in the grid to match our front and side entrance doors. Then Rob sanded and sprayed the light fixture red and that really perked it up, making it look like a garage that really belongs to us and our house instead of an afterthought stuck in the back yard. I think I’ll use red on some shutters on the side of the garage as well. The colors are consistent with what we’ve been doing on the side and front porches. I actually need to finish up that front porch and blog about it–the UPS woman made my day recently by asking where I’d purchased my (homemade) chair cushions in the front! I love giving this old house new life.