Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I'm a bad blogger. And I've got a craft to share.

I KNOW!  I've been really horrid about posting things.  With the move finally over (though we still have a bunch of crap in the garage to unpack), I'm hoping to get back to posting.  We've been working hard to get the house up to "home" standards, which, unfortunately, included scrubbing to death the "professionally cleaned" house.  Um, yeah.  It's not very professional to leave sticky substances gluing kitchen drawers shut, or flippin footprints in the showers.  Nor is it professional to say you've even cleaned the doors, when clearly, the doors continue to sport the decade of dirty, grimy, greasy fingerprints on the face from the handle down. 

We do still have to paint EVERY ROOM, but that will come.  We decided to just live with it instead of depleting the bank account for a while.  Though it's incredibly annoying to move into a place where every. single. vertical. surface. is painted with flat paint.  And then 'touched up' with semi-gloss.  Um, okaaaaay.  The landlord said she was the handy one.  I have to wonder what she was handy with.  Certainly with metal L-brackets and drywall anchors (as evidenced by the multiple weenie shelves hung willy-nilly all over the place).  But I digress.

I've been busy laying out wall groupings, taking bad cell-phone photos and sending them to my husband to put up while I'm at work.  He's done a pretty good job, though we have a difference of opinion on the need for the other skinny shelf in the grouping over the couch.  You'll see what I mean when I finally get around to posting the big reveal.

I've dressed my empty soffits, and started to decorate for fall.  But I've realized that,

1. This mantel is a JOKE and totally unsuitable for anything wider than an inch.
2. I don't have a cute table or ladder or anything for my cute porch stuff
3. Much of my fall stuff is a decade old and needs a refresh.

With that in mind, I've got a quickie project for you today.  I was inspired by this garland tutorial over on Remodelaholic last week, and decided to tackle the project over the weekend.

I've always had a thing for garlands.  Our last house had a very long, very drab/boring/fugly banister composed of an industrial metal spindle/grate, and a plain jane pine handrail on top of a knee-height pony wall.  I was never inspired to pretty it up for the holidays.  In fact, the only holiday I ever decorated it for was Christmas, because the bushy green garland, lights and ribbon I used pretty much covered the entire fugly travesty of a railing.

Fast forward to the new house.  Much smaller railing, but MUCH cuter.  I know, it doesn't show well in my naked house photo, but use your imaginations people!  I knew I couldn't afford any kind of new fall garland, and I wasn't about to use the old green stuff.  I was surfing around Pinterest and noticed a pin from Remodelaholic that showcased a project from 2009 - a cute fall garland made from stuff you'd likely have on hand anyway!  SCORE!  I totally wanted to do it.  So here is my version of the awesomeness that is Remodelaholic.

I used the following supplies:

1 - old tablecloth that fits not a single table in my house
2 - yards of fall themed fabric I bought two years ago on clearance
1 - roll of teal duct tape
1 - pair of scissors (actually, I couldn't find my fabric scissors, so I had to use my kitchen shears)

I started out by simply folding my tablecloth in half to figure out the amount of uncut fabric I might have to work with.  I very scientifically held it up to the bannister and eyeballed it before I decided to cut.  I decided to use a double-length of fabric to ensure I had a nice swag to my garland.  And the ability to use it elsewhere if I got the itch.

 Once you cut your length, you'll be left with two identical pieces.  It doesn't matter if you cut it straight or not, because you'll be covering up that mess with the next few steps.  (You can see how straight I cut).

Once you've got your first length folded, it's time to secure it.  The tutorial I was loosely following called for sewing and such.  I'm not big on sewing.  I can if I have to, but I generally choose not to.  I know, lazy.  So, enter the teal duct tape.  For some reason, we've had two partial rolls of this floating around for years.  Not sure where it came from, but it holds any-flippin thing, and will remove your fingerprints if you aren't careful!

Keep on wrapping pieces of tape at intervals around the fabric.  To join the ends together, I just opened up the folds, overlapped the ends a bit, re-folded and taped.  Again, this would have been easier had I thought to cut off the hemmed edges first!

Now that you've got your garland "form", it's time to make it pretty!  I happened to have a couple yards of fall-themed fabric lying around.  I suppose I had grand notions of making a table runner or something, but, now that you know how I feel about sewing, you can see how that went!

Yeah, I know.  I don't sew and obviously I can't cut a straight line to save my life.  Whatever.  It's not like I'm making my living doing this stuff.  Just, overlook the deficiencies and use your imagination - you've gotten this far with me!

Now it's time to start tying.  And tying.  And tying some more.  It took me about an hour to tie the whole garland.  You'll need to turn your form over and over to make sure you are getting an even "fluff" of fabric, unless you need something with a reasonably flat back.  Then don't turn it.  Since this was going on my stairs, I needed a more uniform flouf of rags.  Start at one end and tie until your fingers cramp.

Once you've hyperventilated a few dozen times thinking you are going to run out of fabric, you'll decide to cut more strips.  Another 15 minutes later, you'll be glad you did!  I ended up using the entire 2 yards of fabric to make this 7-foot garland. 

I'm toying with the idea of adding lights, but haven't sold myself on it yet.  Hubs is the light nazi, so it might be a lost cause.

I have to confess.  I hung this with zip-ties. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

stellar junk: free milk paint? Yes, please!

stellar junk: free milk paint? Yes, please!: Hello friends! So maybe you've heard me mention once or twice that I am going to be a retailer for Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint? Oh...m...

Saturday, September 15, 2012

No good, I've known too many Spainards! Meet Inigo

I've been busy lately.  As are we all, but, in between packing the house for a move, school starting and trying to finish a few projects before we get to the new house, well, I've been busy!  And now it's time for the backstory...

I first met Inigo at the old Cribari Winery here in town.  The company my dad works for had been contracted by the company that owns the land (which we are partners in, along with my parents, brother and several others) to demolish the entire place.  Basically, everything went, from the doors to the dirt.  Holding tanks were scrapped, amazing old wood doors found new homes, handmade wrought iron knobs & pulls are still languishing in the garage, gorgeous old photos and signage from the winery grace the homes of several stakeholders.  There was just soooo much stuff to get through - it took almost 2 years. 

I came away with one thing. 
His name is Inigo, and he has been guarding my china and crystal for almost 10 years now.  He used to sit in the office of some winery big-wig, holding files and soaking up the dirt, grime, grease and wine he was subjected to on a daily basis.  He was banged into, had his doors slammed, and sweaty cups left on him.  But the WINE.  The wine made it all worth while I suppose.  At least, that's what I tell myself when I think about it.

He is one-of-a-kind.  Literally.  Nobody who has seen him has ever seen a thing like him.  His hinges are custom hand-made just for him, and appear to be forged iron - those doors are never coming off their hinges!  He has 30, yes 30 hand-carved rosette panels.  Each panel is bordered by special vertical slats that slide to the side - for what purpose, I'm not sure, since I certainly couldn't get anything to come out, just to move.  The interior shelf is pine.  The cabinet pulls look to be cast iron.  His top appears to be a panel of some sort, possibly reclaimed, since the wood doesn't match the rest of the piece.  His bottom apron is battered and rough, and he's never felt the sweet kiss of sandpaper.  And he is MINE.

So, poor Inigo was destined for the junk heap, or so I thought.  Somebody else had their beady little eye on MY Inigo, and I lived each day in dread, waiting to hear that I had lost him to a bigger wig than I.  Suffice it to say, I won.  Obviously.

Inigo was schlepped from house to house to house, always carefully storing my china and providing a handy flat surface for my husband to crapify (yes, it is a word.  Because I say so).  I've been toying with the idea of updating his look for quite some time, but nothing ever seemed good enough for my Inigo.  I wanted to keep some of his gorgeous wood, while highlighting those 30 amazing hand-carved floral panels. 

So, I started cleaning him up to ensure that, at the very least, I'd have a clean surface to start with for whatever we decided.  My go-to is Simple Green.  I have to say, I despise the scent, but it sure does get the job done, and it doesn't leave a residue like some other cleaners.  The first photo shows the bottle of SG, along with the old cloth diaper I was using - NARSHTY!  I think my shoulder hurt more from scrubbing this bad boy down than it ever has after sanding a piece!

Here we are, all cleaned up and ready for a wardrobe update.  You can see where I was able to clean down to the bare wood, and where I was only able to get down to the original linseed oil finish.  I'm pretty sure that someone just got lazy with the linseed back in the day, because the other side is pretty much identical on the bottom.  But it was no matter, since I had decided to paint those gorgeous panels anyway.  I also discovered that, in addition to the top being salvaged pine, some of the rosettes are oak, some are pine, and some are fir.  All of the panel dividers appear to be fashioned of clear maple, and the bottom apron is also pine, which leads me to believe that this was more than my usual salvage - it was a truly unique piece lovingly crafted from available resources. 

Doesn't this storage space just make you swoon?!
Inigo wanted to showcase his long lean lines and highlight his carved assets.  We agreed that his carvings should be painted an amazing shade of blue/green, and that we would stain the exposed wood with a yummy dark walnut shade to unify all of his woods.

I chose a gorgeous shade of peacock teal for the panels, which I used as the base for my DIY chalk paint.  Of course, I got 80% done with the panels when my husband came home and freaked the shrek out.  He's just a leeeeeeetle scared to death of colors other than navy, brown, tan and red.  So, we had an interesting argument discussion about it, during which I insisted that I was not done yet, and that the final product would be better than an awesomesauce sundae with fudge topping.

I have to admit that the unadulterated blue is a bit shocking when you aren't expecting it.  Especially against the freshly stained wood.  (Left is plain blue, right is waxed blue.  BEEEEG DEEFRENCE!)

Like a good DIY baby, I scoured blogland for clear, coherent instructions on furniture wax.  What to get, how to get it, how to use it, another way to use it, how much you need, etc. etc.  Miss Mustard Seed delivered, as always.  Her video tutorial Wax 101 gave me the confidence I needed to attack this behemoth of intricate carving.  She was even nice enough to answer my question about tinting clear wax dark if you are unable or unwilling to drop bucks on a big tin of the real dark wax. 

After I left my tin of Minwax Clear Paste Wax in the garage for an hour or so (it's only 100+ in there these days), I scooped out what I thought was enough for Inigo, and, as suggested, mixed in some Burnt Umber craft paint until I got the color I wanted.  Of course, it looked like doggy diarrhea and smelled like I imagine a meth lab smells like, but it was perfect!

I used an old paintbrush from the dollar store to apply the wax and really work it into the nooks & crannies of the carvings.  It took me about an hour to go over 90% of the piece with the dark wax.  I did run out before I could finish the second door, but that gave me an opportunity to show you the difference between Freak-The-Shrek-Out peacock teal and One-Layer-of -Dark-Wax peacock teal above. 

*I apologize for the poor quality of photos.  Garage lighting and cellphone cameras leave a smidge to be desired!  My regular camera has been misplaced in the move, so you all have to suffer along with me.

Here is the final project, finally installed in the new house!  I've resorted to stashing all of the mans' crap in there along with games, table linens and my recipe books for now, since I've got such a big kitchen to keep my dishes in!


Hand-carved with love.  Not so much love during waxing though.

Supply List:
  • Simple Green
  • Unsanded Grout
  • 1 quart Valspar oops paint in a duck-egg blue color
  • Minwax stain in Dark Walnut
  • Minwax Clear Paste Finishing Wax
  • Burnt Umber acrylic craft paint
  • Old cloth diapers - very useful for wiping away the odd drip or screw-up when dampened with diluted SG
  • Frog Tape in varying widths
  • Assorted brushes (I used both foam and nylon bristle)
  • Sanding block or paper in 220 grit
What have you been working on lately?  Anything making you swoon?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

And now the REAL fun begins...

It's been a whirlwind of packing peanuts, cardboard boxes & hand trucks lately.  I've never had to downsize during a move, nor have I ever had to move with 3 children.  It ain't easy people! 

On the plus side, the move forced me to finish up Inigo, my rustic 70's spanish-inspired sideboard.  I was able to cuteify some plain bamboo placemats, and I finished my paper cone wreath.  So it wasn't all bad.

I've gotten most of the boxes unpacked (we won't mention the ones in the garage), and left the man with some photos for reference while installing my gallery walls in the living room today.  Normally this is something I would do, but since there appears to be a complete lack of studs in our new walls, the job has fallen to the one with the upper arm strength to install countless drywall anchors.  And with the day off of work.  Just sayin.

I will have lots to start showing you soon.  Here are a few "before" shots of the house - please ignore the boxes & assorted cleaning crap, since I obviously cannot shoot a photo before I get involved in a project...

This is the view into the living room from the entry.  Fireplace is on the right, entertainment center built into the wall to the left against the front wall. Archway leads into the kitchen & dining area.

This is the entry.  Powder room and coat closet to the right in the photo.

View into the dining room/kitchen from the living room.  Like I said, ignore the boxes & crap on the counters - I am physically incapable of taking photos before I start a project of any kind.

View into the living room from the kitchen.  Staircase on the left - all the bedrooms and the laundry room are upstairs - I already adore having upstairs laundry.  No more baskets to haul up and down, no more wondering if you will be pelted by a pair of questionable boy-undies as you start your ascent.  It's magical people!  And, I love the banister.  The old place had a blah boring metal banister painted white.  This is cute, and I've got lots of ideas for dressing it up for the holidays :)

I really only have on piece to show you anytime soon, but I will have lots of after photos of the new house, with tips for staging a bookcase, arranging a gallery wall with more than photos, and more.  See you soon!