Monday, December 29, 2014

Drawing to a Close

Well here we are, on the cusp of another new year.  I planned to show you the quilts I made for my kids for Christmas, one for each of them to snuggle under while they watch t.v. or read, but it turns out in my haste to get them finished in time I took photos of only one. All were done in shades of blue and white, all different patterns and all included scraps of some of Earl's shirts as his contribution. They all seemed to love them but I will have to get pictures of the other three when I visit them at their new homes. 
 Note to self, work on your embroidery skills.
It was a relaxed Christmas, a little time with family, perhaps a new tradition of seeing a new release at the theater with the kids. I haven't taken the decorations down as we will have guests celebrating with us this week, but come the New Year it will be a clean sweep!
I just finished reading Jan Karon's new book, "Somewhere Safe with Someone Good", the first book I have actually taken time to read in so long I can't remember.  What a treat! So good I have determined to re-read the rest of the series beginning to end.  Of course there is that sadness at having finished and wondering just how long I will have to wait to read more of the series. They are such uplifting books, I highly, highly recommend them! I trust you all are preparing to celebrate the New Year, we will be spending it with dear friends, the best way to celebrate! I'll be back later in the week with a year in review.
Let me just say, it is a privilege to share little pieces of my life throughout the years with you. Thank you for stopping by, for saying hello, and for sharing little pieces of your life with me too! I look forward to another year of talking over the back fence with you at ...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas

I am taking a Christmas break from all the online merriment for a while.  There is far too much fun to be had offline, and truth be told, I need to concentrate on some last minute gifts I'm working on!
Sunday was a fun family day of decorating gingerbread houses.  So much fun, I'm afraid I ate as much as I decorated with.  Oh well, January and diets await, in the meantime, Christmas is for not worrying about having a few treats.

 Wishing all of you the very happiest of Christmases, and praying that your New Year is spectacular!  I'll see you all in 2015 :>)



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 ;>)