Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ballard Design Hack

One of the things I have the darndest time with, is what to hang on the walls. I know, it shouldn't be that hard, but the truth is I am notoriously fickle with my art displays.  I like to change things up a lot. Add to that a husband who cringes over every hole I have to put in the wall in order to hang something up and, well, lets just say a lot of walls stay bare.  This year when I got my Ballard Designs catalog I saw this really fun artwork that I thought would look great above the bed.  Trouble was, these alphabet block letter prints were $169 each, meaning spelling out the word love would have cost $676.  hahahahaha. no.  Just. no.  I would have to own these until I die and then bequeath them to my children in order to feel justified in spending that much. Just couldn't do it. 
So I hacked it, and I think they turned out pretty darn sweet. And what did they cost in the end? 
$36 Yes my friends, I saved $640 and I can change them out with a clear conscience when I get tired of them. Winning!So here is the side by side. On the left, Ballard Designs, on the right, mine.
Close enough.

Here's how I made mine.
First, at the craft store I purchased four 18" x 18" stretched canvases for 1/2 off.  They cost $7.50 each.  You can use bigger canvases or smaller. Whatever size works for you. You might even want to measure the space you will put them in and decide on size from there.  The space between my windows is 100 inches and I left an inch between each canvas when I hung them.
Then I covered the canvases with this, wood look paper. (not an affiliate link)
It comes in a 4 foot by 12 foot roll so it is big enough to cover just about any canvas size you might want to use it for. I have quite a bit left over.  I got mine free with swagbucks, but it costs just over $8 so still very affordable.
Lay your canvas on the paper and cut it wide enough to wrap all the way to the back of the frame. I added about 1 1/2 inches to each side.  I used a straight edge to cut it straight and then, since it is 4 ft wide I was able to cut the strip in half and cover two canvases.
 I flipped the paper up, found a dark part of the wood grain that was pretty straight and marked on the back of the paper where the wood pattern was. This helped me line up my canvas with the pattern on the front of the paper.
 I just put an arrow on the edge, and another directly across from it. I was able to line up the edges so the pattern was straight on the front of the canvas.
 I tried using mod podge to attach the paper to the canvas. Big mistake. Mod podge makes wrinkles in the paper and I wanted a nice smooth front.  Use rubber cement instead.  It doesn't wrinkle and it has several application methods depending on what you want the paper to do. For example, for a nice permanent bond cover the paper with a thin coat of rubber cement. Don't use the brush it comes with, it puts it on too thickly, just drizzle a little all over the paper and then quickly use a foam brush to smooth it out all the way to the edges. Let the rubber cement dry, it only takes a few minutes
 While your paper is drying, add a thin coat to the front of your canvas and let it dry too.
When both the canvas and paper are dry, lay your canvas face down on the paper, eyeball the marks you made on the edge to get it straight, and then press down and smooth the canvas onto the paper.
Flip it over and make sure the paper is pressed down everywhere.
 Add rubber cement to the edges and back of the canvas.
 I cut a slit to the edge of the canvas, then another slit about the thickness of the side of the canvas.  The strip that you see below, will be folded up along the side of the canvas and keep any white from showing where the edges of the paper wrap around.
 You will fold up one side, in this case the side with the arrow on it, then wrap the extra strip around the next side.
 It will look like this. See how the extra strip will cover the corner and make a neat finish?
 Then just smooth the next side up over the strip.
 And this is what you have.
Next I wanted to add the red trim. I tried painting it on, it wasn't as easy as I anticipated and worst of all, the wet paint made the paper wrinkle!
I fixed that by cutting a strip of adhesive vinyl, (3 sheets on sale cost about $6), wide enough to cover an inch on the front of the canvas and wrap around all the way to the back, so the side of the canvas would also be covered.  I did this to two opposite sides and then finished the sides that were left. This gave me a uniform finish on the corners.
 To make sure the vinyl gave me an even edge I used a pencil to mark a line 1" from the edge all around the outside of the canvas. Even if you don't get the edge of the vinyl lined up perfectly, the pencil won't show, it blended right in with the other grey lines in the wood pattern.
 Line up your vinyl, smooth it down and wrap it to the back.  I used my Silhouette cutter to cut the largest letters I could out of  cardstock and attached them with rubber cement. I also made sure they were centered and measured the space at the top and bottom of the letter to make sure they would be level and even when I hung the pictures.  You're done!
 I used a level to make sure my nails were straight across and then I used a few command strip adhesive strips, without hooks, to make sure the canvases stayed straight.

We both love how this project turned out!
As with any first time project I learned first hand that there are some pros and cons and different ways to get these results.
Canvas Pros:
1. I like the fact that I don't have heavy, glass filled frames hanging above my head at night. These were light enough to hang with command hooks so if you have a nail phobic husband it's all good.
2. The cost is minimal. I wasn't able to find 18" narrow frames to approximate the look of the Ballard Designs artwork. I didn't look all that hard so you might be able to find them, and for a reasonable amount of money.  It would simplify the whole process to use frames, since you wouldn't have to deal with adhering the paper to the canvas, just cut and frame. Also, I am pretty sure that if you wanted smaller letters you can get 12" square frames pretty easily.  I wanted the larger size.
3. When using rubber cement there are different application methods that either give you a permanent bond or a removable bond.  For the letters themselves, I used the removable bond method, so in theory, I could change the letters to spell something else! I thought of spelling JOY for Christmas, but with only a few weeks of the season left I decided on something a little more all season. But imagine how cute this would be with a wreath instead of the "O" in either of those words! SO  many fun ways to use this!
1. If I could find the larger frames for a comparable price I would have used them. As I said above, they would simplify the process greatly.
I added the tartan flannel pillow cases and a few decorations, and I love how this room turned out. When Christmas is over it will still look cute:>) 
How is your Christmas going?  What is your favorite project of the season? Baking? Decorating? Sitting by the fire?  

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Decorating the Tree

Today I have finally been working on some Christmas decorating.  I started way back before Thanksgiving and got the bare bones of greens and lights up for when the girls came home, then, after they left, I kind of burned out on the whole thing.  Adjusting to not having kids at home hasn't been easy.  So I pulled out the ratty, second hand tree that I have had for years and went to work. This may be the first time that I have not put up a real tree. Ever. The ratty tree was a fall back, an extra tree to tuck in somewhere, but never the main focus.  This is it's last Christmas, (Shall we observe a moment of silence?)  and since it will go to the curb after the holiday is over I decided to spray it with the two cans of spray snow that have been lounging in my basement for years.  I can't even remember when I bought them. I had my doubts that they would work, but they covered the little tree in foamy white in no time.
By the time I put the lights and decorations on, most of it had fallen on the floor.
 The first thing to go on were my mirrored disco ball ornaments and glittered stars.
Disco balls and glitter are my love language.
 And then the red and white ornaments.
You didn't think I could decorate a Christmas tree without red did you? 
I popped the whole thing in a galvanized tub, and filled that with a beautiful tattered crazy quilt that a friend gave me.  It is quite worn, but I hated to cut it up. This is the perfect way to use it:>)

 These photos were taken in late morning and the gloom is so thick you can cut it with a knife. I had to seriously pump up the exposure on the camera and in my photo editing program.
But the lights on the tree help chase away the gloom. 
I added crystal chandelier drops and greens to the chandelier, if the sun ever comes out I'll have sparkles everywhere.
I will be adding more photos of my Christmas decorating as soon as it's done and there is enough sunshine to actually take a photo.
I'll be honest, I'm woefully uninspired this year. I'm keeping it simple and trusting that my creativity just needs a resting period and will come back renewed and refreshed at some point.
But the truth is, that whether I decorate to the nines or just put out a few lights, Christmas isn't about decorating, it's about what is in our hearts and what we do for others. I am enjoying less pressure, less commitment, and less work this year.
How about you? How is your Christmas season going? Overbooked? Overstressed?
Maybe it's time to make some hot chocolate and take a breather.
Sending Love ♥

Monday, December 1, 2014

"Chicken" soup.

I had planned on doing some more holiday decorating today, instead I am fighting whatever bug has left me sniffling, achy and feverish.  It's that time of year.  Whenever I have a loved one who feels this way I make my favorite Chicken soup recipe and rush it right over. I don't know for sure that it has healing properties, but it sure tastes good when you're suffering.
 I shared this four years ago when a blog friend was feeling ill.  Of course, this time I had leftover turkey and the broth I made from the bones so it isn't technically "chicken" soup, but it tastes just as good and it's a great way to use up that turkey.  If I weren't sick already I would have made it up and frozen it without the noodles, I would have also put the chopped turkey / chicken in a separate frozen package. I don't like to overcook the meat when it has already been cooked.  Then I could thaw the broth and veggies, add the noodles and meat and be ready to eat in no time.
I did a step by step recipe at the link, don't let it intimidate you. It looks like more work than it is and it is so good for you and so worth the effort.
Now, I'm off to grab the nearest quilt and veg on the sofa until I can breathe again.
The good news is, about all I can do is visit blogs. Everything has a silver lining ;>)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Catching Up

Well goodness, it's been a while. I've been busy with so many things, reorganizing the house for one. Shifting Earl's old office to the new space means a shift in almost every other room in the house in one way or another. Add to that the organizing and nesting frenzy I always feel as soon as I am shut up in the house for the winter and I've been a busy girl!
Christmas comes early for us this year, my daughter and her husband from PA will be here for Thanksgiving, (oh I am SO excited!) but not Christmas, :( so we will be celebrating both holidays with them this weekend. To that end, I have been adding some Christmas decorations to the house a little at a time. A little Christmas cheer doesn't get in the way of our Thanksgiving at all! It just makes the house more festive. We will have 16 around the table this year, a good full house of family.
 I have hung the star candle holders in the dining room windows. I have had these for so many years and they are one of those decorations that I love.  I light them nearly every dark evening of winter.  Victoria even informed me that she wanted the same star shaped hanging lights for her new home this year. It warmed this mom's heart to hear it:>)
 No real tree yet, it's far too early for it to survive until Christmas, so I set a small artificial tree out for some light and warmth.  I haven't even decorated it yet, but the lights are so pretty at night, and even during the day. We have had such dark, dismal weather this week, I have been glad that I had some Christmas lights to turn on! I also hung my favorite snapshot series of the girls, taken several years ago.  I shooed them outside after a fresh snowfall and they hammed it up so adorably.
 The shelves in the living room have been topped with greenery and some pheasant feathers I had hanging around. I think it manages to look Christmasy and perfectly appropriate for Thanksgiving at the same time. I'll add some Christmas bling later.  On another note, I finally broke down and bought some battery operated candles. I haven't tried them until now because I was afraid they would look fake.  I am thrilled with how real they look and the fact that I can put them places that real candles can't go, such as wood bookshelves. I will absolutely be getting more!
The small tree next to our bed, this year it goes in a white enamel double boiler I found at a garage sale.  I love how it looks in it's odd little container.  I have so much more decorating to do, but just bringing out the lights and having some little touches here and there will make it feel like Christmas when the kids are here for the weekend. 
If you are in America, I know you are all looking forward to Thanksgiving this week too.
Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful weekend with family and friends!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Autumn Decorating

As a rule, I am not a big fan of the color orange. You won't find it in my home any time other than Autumn. But who can resist pumpkins and the deep colors of orange, and gold, and red that fall brings? Orange finally fits right in.
 I grabbed one of the wooden boxes Earl built for the wedding and the lace covered candles still had lots of life in them. By adding some mini pumpkins and some faux and real bittersweet I have a warm and cozy centerpiece that can be used anywhere.  It's candle lighting season after all, and I am not one to waste an opportunity to light the dreary days, (it's raining today!) or dark evenings with the warm glow of candlelight.
 Yesterday was probably one of the last warm days we will have here. We took the opportunity to walk an old wooded trail that used to be a railroad bed. I have been coveting bittersweet for a few years. I have heard it's protected, and besides, I wouldn't cut anything along a public trail that is for the enjoyment of everyone.
Lucky for me, the utility company had gone through and cut the brush along the trail that was directly under the phone lines. Along with the brush was a plentiful supply of bittersweet that had been cut right along with it. I filled my arms with all I could hold and felt as happy as if I had discovered gold.  Some of it went into an interesting old jar I recently found at a church sale. I have it next to the kitchen sink. By the way, there is nothing like blogging an area to inspire a good clutter clean up. Maybe I should systematically be photographing and blogging the house?  Ha!  Maybe not.

I hate to say it but the weather is turning colder and drearier. Friday we are supposed to get something that rhymes with the word NO! which in a word describes how I feel about that particular weather event most of the time.  Time marches on, Autumn is winding down.
Are you starting to think about Christmas?