The Baby’s Room :: Dressing the Windows

I’m making progress, one slow little baby step at a time, on the littlest one’s room. I’d really like to have it “done” by the end of the week, but the more time I spend in there, the more ideas I come up with, which isn’t helping with the whole let’s get it done mentality.

One of the things I worked on this weekend was dressing up her bare naked windows.

Bare Naked Blinds

How do you feel about window coverings? There were sheers and curtains on nearly every window in each room in the house when I was growing up. And my mom still feels like a window without a curtain is pretty close to a criminal act. But I’ve got to tell you, here in this house, we hate the though of covering any little bit of the view out of ours. It might have something to do with how dark our first house was and how light-starved we felt, or possibly it’s how sometimes we have to pinch ourselves just to make sure that view is real life, or maybe it’s just that I’m too cheap to buy large swaths of fabric that do so very little other than look nice. I do have to admit there are certain windows that needs some sort of privacy covering (bathroom, anybody?), but I still have trouble finding anything I want to put up.

Whatever the reason for our window covering hesitation, we were incredibly thankful that the previous owners had installed room-darkening roller blinds on all the bedroom windows. Our kids go down incredibly early every night (5 pm for the baby and 6.30 for the older kids) and those room darkening shades certainly help in the spring and summer months when there is more light in the evening. I have to tell you, I am not so enamored with the brown/tan/taupe material used to make each one. The good thing is, when they’re down, it’s too dark to see them, and when they’re rolled up, you see only the tiny bit of the topper. But, those few inches really aggravated me.

I had a little idea, and thanks to ebay, a little box arrived in the mail a few days later. I found a sweet lot of delicate white handkerchiefs, which I thought would work nicely laid across the valance (how do you pronounce this… VALance or vaLANCE?) helping me achieving the vintage feel I’m trying to create in the room.

Handkerchiefs

When I opened the box, I caught the faint scent of a delicate perfume. The handkerchiefs themselves were in beautiful condition and the handwork blew me away. Tiny little knots, crocheted lace, hemstitching, embroidered details, super fine fabric; all of it reminiscent of another, more genteel time.

Not So Naked Anymore

I’m happy to report that this idea came together very easily and just as I imagined. The fabric is so airy light it is very nearly transparent.

Little Details

All those beautiful details are even more pronounced when the sunlight filters through and it doesn’t feel like we are blocking any of our spectacular sea view.

Hemstiched

Handkerchief Valance

Beautiful Hand Embroidery

The best thing about this? It is completely no-sew. They are simply folded and tucked into the crevice between the topper and the window frame. And when they get dusty? I can just give them a little tug and throw them into the washing machine.

Beautiful Borders

Such Detail

Crocheted Edge

They cover that rather indelicate brown/taupe/tan valance with just a hint of girliness.

Quite the View

Well, that was pretty easy! Now, onto a few more changes before the week is out!

The Baby’s Room :: The Dresser

A few weeks ago, the baby turned two. I took this as a sign that I really should get moving on finishing her room, you know, before my husband takes it over as his office sometime in the next few months. A few weeks before her birthday, the dresser we bought from IKEA met an untimely and unfortunate death (well, at least the bottom drawer did) which has had a rather devastating waterfall effect on the state of her room. If there’s no place to put the clothes, they stay in baskets, until she decides it’s time to empty said baskets of course. It was time to get things cleaned up.

Enter this lovely.

Naked

A friend of mine has been moving her house around and decided to get rid of a few pieces, this one included.

Dresser Before

The dresser was a tad dusty, the top had a bit of water damage, and needed just a tiny bit of TLC, but otherwise, it was a beautiful piece. So I got out my sander, some paint and wax, and this is what I came up with.

The Dresser

It fits in the corner perfectly, and since the side panel is the view I see from my perch on the rocking chair I decided it need just a little touch of something extra…

Side View

a touch of hand-painted pattern, wiped away and slightly distressed.

Top Corner

I was hoping it would look a bit like old and faded wallpaper. I have to say I’m pretty happy with the result.

Pattern Detail

It was a bit gut-wrenching to go at the pattern with a wet cloth and sand paper, but I went slowly as I built up my courage, and I think the end result was worth the distress.

Dresser Front

The front panels of the dresser seemed to be in pretty good shape, but was feeling a bit rough. I can not believe what a difference 320 grit paper and some dark wax made. I tried the Howard Restore-A-Finish, but I have to say it was the dark wax that made the biggest difference.

Bottom Corner

I painted an undercoat of Annie Sloan’s Duck Egg Blue, touched it up in a few places in with a bit of petroleum wax, then painted a top coat of Annie Sloan’s Provence Blue. A bit of sanding, the pattern painted on top, then a coat of clear wax and a few touches of dark wax to age it ever so slightly.

Dresser Top

The top was sanded down to bare wood, then stained with two different colors of minwax Sedona and Mahogany Red (straight up stain without the poly) with two or three light and buffed coats of dark wax. It’s hard to describe just how much the new top glows.

Booties

And last but not least, the pair of teeny tiny booties I knit for her, which evidently, I have forgotten to write about. You’ll see the sweater in a later post about her room, once I finish up another wall.

Boy I hope I get this room finished up soon!

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Have you visited these awesome sites where I’ve shared this project?  ::  Miss Mustard Seed  ::  The Shabby Creek Cottage  ::  The Handmade Home  ::  Funky Junk Interiors  ::  Finding Silver Pennies  ::  Under the Table and Dreaming  ::  Today’s Creative Blog

Sibling Gifts :: Pencil Cups

To continue on our theme, I present the third-born daughter’s contribution to this year’s sibling gifts :: Up-cycled Pencil Cups.

Another easy, low investment craft that was completely age appropriate and quite useful, as each kid got their own set of personalized pencils in their stockings this year. Thank you Oriental Trading Company for your customizable pencils for my kids that don’t have names often (read :: ever) found on store shelves!

Pretty in Pink

We collected a few cans from the recycling bin—two bean cans and one for tuna—made sure they were nice and clean and dry, then I painted each with two coats of primer before setting the four year old loose on them. She got to go through the paint bins and pick out whatever shade she thought they might like. I know she’s at least partly my child because she went for the extra-shiny metallic paints.

It Aint Easy Bein Green

After she painted each can, we picked out different scrapbook papers, one for each can, and then dug out our old alphabet stamps. She helped me find the letters and she stamped—with a teeny bit of guidance—the names of her sisters and brother onto individual white labels. I cut down the scrapbook paper into strips, then used double sided tape to adhere the paper to the can. The finishing touch, of course, were the name labels!

Alphabet Stamps

The awesome thing about this project is that it doesn’t need to be perfect to look great! Little brush strokes here and there and a bit of primer showing through gives it a touch more character, a feature if you will, not a flaw.

Tuna Tin For Ties

The littlest one doesn’t use pencils, but the tuna can was the perfect size to hold her hair bands and, conveniently, a few barrettes.

Pencil Cups

And the older kids cups were put to immediate use after they found their pencils.

It really is amazing how much they all love both making and receiving these gifts. I hope this is something we’ll continue for quite a few more years.

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Sharing with These Fabulous Sites ::
Under the Table and Dreaming, Today’s Creative Blog

A Sideboard Journey

A few years ago, my mom and my step-dad decided to downsize their home significantly, which was lucky for me because there were quite a few pieces I was able to “inherit” because there wouldn’t be any space for them in their new digs.

One of them was this sideboard.

Brown Sideboard

I have this rather awkward spot in my kitchen—you can it a bit better in this post—where the countertop ends abruptly and leaves an empty space where cabinets would normally go. We could use those extra cabinets, or more specifically, we could really use the extra counter space. One of my main frustrations with this kitchen is the lack of space between the sink, the stove, and the end of the counter. The layout is just strange, and if I could figure out how to get more space between the stove and sink, make the sink a double-well, and somehow balance it all perfectly with that gorgeous window, then I would probably love my kitchen. Right now my kitchen and I have a mostly working relationship, but we don’t like hanging out after hours.

When we originally bought the house, the previous owners left us two desks that fit side-by-side in this space, but we decided to put those in the living room so the kids could use them for their homework, without being in the middle of the kitchen fray. As a temporary stop-gap measure, we decided to throw in my Mom’s sideboard. But that dark brown just wasn’t doing anything for me. So even though I promised myself I wouldn’t start another piece of furniture until that blasted hutch was finished, I ordered some Annie Sloan chalk paint in Provence and dove right on in.

Here it is after the first coat…
First Coat

First Coat Art Shot

And here’s What happened when I got to the second coat…
Second Coat Drawer Fronts

And here’s the beginnings of the third coat, that yellowish tinge…
Third Coat Top

Fourth Coat

And that brown-ish awfulness in this shot… that’s the beginning of the fourth coat… or what would’ve been the fourth coat if I wasn’t extremely unhappy with how it looked.Fourth Coat Begun

So this is what the fourth/fifth coat actually ended up being… (at this point I stopped counting individual layers)The Fifth Coat

Detail of Fifth Coat

And just in case you thought that I managed to finish all this in one sitting because my kids are busy sitting quietly in their playroom, building the next innovation in robotic technology while implementing their newly formed Middle East peace plan and eating their self-prepared PB&J sandwiches leaving me in my solitude to paint, wax, and clean-up the kitchen, this work happened over seven days, and caused all other work (excepting the laundry… there is always laundry…) to stop. Here’s the Keepin’ It Real shot.Keepin It Real

After seven more days, and several more coats of wax and paint, this is what I came up with…All Done

Another Angle of Done

Still All Done

The Top Is All Done Too

The cabinet has become the lunch box prep station with snacks on the top…
Snacks On Top

Painted drawers full of containers and sandwich sleeves…
Steel Container Drawer

A thermos cabinet that also hold the baby’s snack cups…
Thermos Cabinet

A drawer full of boxes and bags…
Lunch Bag Drawer

The other drawer contains loose change for lunch money on pizza day, and the other cabinet is full of snacks. I have to say, it’s been working very well for us!

Because I invested so much time refinishing this beast, I’m going to share a few more details of the paint and wax. You think you’re bored? Imagine how I felt after the ninth coat…
Surface Deet

Surface Corner

Left Face Deet

Scroll Cabinet Deet

Shes Got Legs

Paint Deet A

Knobs

Paint Deet B

Paint Deet C

Paint Deet D

Paint Deet E

So there she is… a modern colored wax and distressed Annie Sloan chalk paint furniture refinish. Hours and hours of work, building and buffing, painting and sanding…

And here’s the rub… I think I hate it.

Yeah. I’m going to live with it for quite a bit longer before I make a decision, but I’m thinking I might start pushing the hubster to invest in those base cabinets and new countertop.

I guess I should insert something here about destination vs. journey, but mostly I’m considering this a live and learn type of thing.

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:: Linking to These Fabulous Sites ::
Today’s Creative Blog, Miss Mustard SeedUnder the Table and Dreaming,

Rise and Spray and Shine

Unless you’ve been under an internet crafting rock (or experiencing a month like we’ve had… erHEM… then again, these projects have been around for a year or so…), you have probably seen tutorial or two about painting your old shoes. Tutprials such as this one (using nail polish) or this one (with craft paint) or this one (with just straight up spray paint) to give your old shoes a new life outside the depths of your closets.

Enter my loafers, a sunny and warm spring day, and a few too many cans of spray paint.

Preparing Your Shoes for Spray

I’ve had these shoes for… hmm… well, for a long while. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, they have seen better days, and because the last light of day they have seen was the inside of the bag heading to Goodwill, I figured I had nothing to lose even if the paint didn’t take. So I taped them up, shook up a can of paint laying around from another project, and haaaaaaaad at it. No I didn’t do anything special like clean them, or scuff them, stuff them, or even dust them off. I wasn’t convinced it was going to work. Plus, I really wanted yellow shoes, so if the spray painting didn’t work, I wouldn’t have wasted a trip to the hardware store to buy yet another can of paint. If it did, I’d do a better job the second time around.

Shoes All Sprayed

Well, it worked. I had purple shoes. But I didn’t wear them so much. Never did get out of the house to find the perfect shade of yellow.

So I decided, on a whim, to use up the last of the Silver Run n’ Buff, a metallic wax finish, from yet another project for the dining room. I put a little dab on a soft rag, rubbed it in, and buffed it out. Yes, the name of the product also doubles as the instructions, clever you for noticing!

Shoes All Shined

Another Angle of the Shiny Shoes

More Shiny Shoes

Now I have shiny metallic purple shoes that I wear. All. The. Time.

Not so bad for a project that cost absolutely nothing.

Advent Calendar

What do you do with too many baby food jars, some really cool tissue paper, and a can of spray paint?

Why, you make an advent calendar, of course!!

I wish I could say that everything I used I already had on hand, and had we unpacked all of my stuff we would have, but because some of it is still packed and stored, I had to buy some modge podge, some ribbon, the glittery stickers, and tissue paper. That made me a little sad, really, since this could’ve been a 100% buy nothing project, but regardless… recycled baby food jars!!!

I would also like to say that all the jars are filled, but alas, my computer crashed three times last week, taking my print file with it, three times in a row. Something about saving my file in Illustrator seemed to make my mac very unhappy, and I haven’t had the heart to try again. For now, we’ll imagine that these little jars are filled with time tickets a la Maya Made, which I thought was a beautiful idea. For a few months I’ve been wondering what to fill the calendar with, since our kids do not need more stuff, and with the baby crawling all around, little trinkets and toys are a disaster in the making. One of my most favorite gifts of all time was the gift certificate my mom made for me for a Mommy and Me dress-up and shopping date. What a beautiful way to turn the focus back to building those precious family moments together…

OK, so I think I’ll get back to work on that time ticket file now.

Putting Things By

When I was young, my parents had a huge garden out in our backyard. The last few weeks of summer and the beginning of the fall were filled with busy days full of picking, preparing, pickling and packing so that we’d have jars upon jars of food ready to grab at a moments notice during the rest of the year. We had pickles, beets, beans, and stuffed banana peppers straight from our own garden, peaches, applesauce, jams and jellies we picked ourselves at Dad’s secret spots, rows and rows of canned tomatoes and a few spaghetti sauces, vegetable soups, and sometimes even sauerkraut. All my life I’ve dreamed of the time when I would have my own garden to supply our food, but we have yet to live in a home that could support that huge provider of such warm childhood memories.

I’ve been making progress none-the-less. Next year, if we still live here at this house, we’re set to participate in one of the local CSA’s, and I’ve begun the slow march towards more sustainable kitchen practices. We’re baking our own bread, we’re buying as much from local farmer’s as we are able, we’re purchasing less overall–therefore wasting less–so as to reduce the amount of trash/CO2 we produce. To that end, when I chop up or peel veggies and herbs, I’ve been holding on to the scraps and at the end of the week making a lovely chicken broth. One of the luxurious allowances to convenience I’ve made is to purchase an organic rotisserie roasted chicken for us once weekly. The kids love it straight off the bone and while they’re gnawing away, I can make a number of other things for me and E to eat after they’re down for the night. After we’re done with our dinner, the bones go into a pot with the veggie scraps, and anything else I feel like throwing in, normally an onion with the skins, or a small bit of orange peel. I bring it to a gentle boil, cover it, set the temp to low, then off to bed we go. In the morning we have a lovely broth waiting to be strained and canned. For a while, the broth went straight to the freezer, but canning it it much more convenient in the end, even if it adds a few steps.

I’m not quite there yet, but we’re making progress to living less wasteful lives… and sometimes, it is a rather tasty endeavor.

Is That More Spinning Fiber?

No, in fact it’s four months worth of dryer lint. Pretty, no?

Mom has a new house, with a new fireplace… and every fire needs some method of ignition. Back when we lived in California, most of our friends lit their fires with fancy red buttons beside their fire screens, or a few by remote. But out in God’s country, where Mom will soon be living once the house is complete and her travels wind down, those methods are frowned upon as a tad too frou frou. So we are using leftover cardboard egg cartons, leftover lint, and leftover candle wax melted in a leftover pot to create little firestarters. It’s been fun collecting all the things we need while trying not to buy anything new, although old candles are hard to come by, and the ones we’ve found are quite, uh, fragrant. I thought that maybe we might be able to reuse the glass jars and lids that contained the candles, but I haven’t quite figured out how to remove all the wax residue, and MAN! That wax has some stinky scent to it!! Os into the recycling bin the glass went! And after the wax was melted and poured over the lint, I had to place the egg cartons outside while they cooled and make some pasta with tons of garlic and butter to push the cloying synthetic strawberry scent out of the first floor.

Yes, I know this has nothing to do with knitting… or spinning, or cooking, or sewing, but I’ve been putting together a craft room for the majority of the weekend while the husband was home and able to watch the kids, so I’m afraid that not much else creative has happened. A progress report on the new room will soon be posted as I’m rather excited to have all my “making” materials finally living in one location and the room is coming along nicely.

What a Day!

Geez Louise! I managed to get a lot done today! It definitely helped that I had someone here to help me with the kids while I cleaned up… I never heard of a Mother’s Helper before I moved to this neighborhood, but I have to say, it is an amazing concept!!

Last night I ripped into the dress. After the carnage was complete, I was absolutely covered in little bits and pieces of thread, as was the couch, the floor and the coffee table. It was a bit like unraveling a puzzle, and it wasn’t as monotonous as I expected it to be although it definitely was time consuming.

Today I manged to lay it all out to get a sense of how much fabric there really was.

Think there is enough fabric for a dress for a newborn and a three year old, and one little one year old boy? There are two layers !! of lining, all piled up in the front corner, and since it’s all polyester, maybe I can put some of that to use as well!

The only piece I left was the bodice… can’t really decide if there’s enough fabric to do anything with those little bits, so I’m going to leave it as is for a minute.

I also have these lovely bits of fabric just waiting to be made into some hot weather maternity tops and maybe an outfit or two for the kids.

Not really sure what to do with that striped silk… it’s rather too stiff for clothing, but I love it so much and I’ve wanted to do something with it for quite some time.

And finally, I have two gorgeous thrift finds–never worn with original tags!!–to show. Hoping to tailor them for maternity wear… but, uh, I haven’t really ever tailored anything before. We’ll see how I manage that. Any suggestions would be appreciated, as my searches for modifying for maternity haven’t really come up with anything other than instructions for changing up your favorite jeans!

I’m starting to think that I might have a bit more projects than I have time. Help!!