Sunday, February 28, 2010

Child's name wall decoration

Here's my take on the ever popular name-on-the-nursery-wall decor. I didn't want to make a bunch of holes in the wall, so the letters are all attached to 2 wooden dowels. That made hanging a lot easier.  Also, I didn't want to do anything too cutesy or girly (a couple of my ideas were vetoed by my husband) although I do think it turned out cute, in a manly/ boyish way! I found the dowels, the wooden letters and the plane cutout at the local craft store for under $5 all together. I spray painted the letters to match Gabe's room, then sanded them a bit to give a weathered look. The dowels were the perfect length, so I didn't have to do anything to them. I hot glued the ribbon over the dowels, then glued the letters on top of that, a bit whimsically since I was envisioning a sort of banner being pulled through the sky behind an airplane. The only other embellishment I used was the button over the ends of the ribbon. It was really easy to hang; I just used 3 thumbtacks- I probably could have gotten away with just 2. I opted not to put it over my son's bed, since we already have decorations up there, but it fit nicely over his closet.

I think choosing a design took the longest;  after painting and sanding, I put it together with Marissa's help in about 10 minutes.  I like how it turned out, but I have a hard time thinking of cute, "manly" ways to decorate a little boy's room.  A big paint job is pretty much out of the question, and my decorating skills are still being developed (read "I really don't know what I'm doing most of the time") so easy, inexpensive decorating ideas are what I gravitate toward.  We have animal decals on the walls, and a bunch of stuffed animals.  My next project for Gabe's room is to figure out how to store/ display the stuffed animals in a cute way- not just sitting all over the floor or under the crib.  Any ideas?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Easy fabric- covered styrofoam wall hangings

There have been some great tutorials out there recently on making beautiful, inexpensive wall hangings (check out homemade by jill's tissue paper art post, or how to make fabric panel wall art on How about orange). I wanted to do something similar, but wanted a slightly different look. I was waiting for the perfect fabric to present itself before spending time designing something- waiting for inspiration, you know? My husband bought me a beautiful comforter/ pillow/ curtain set for Valentine's Day because I was desperately wanting to give our bedroom a facelift and make it feel more cohesive and elegant (more on that later). Anyway, the set came with curtains and valences for up to 4 windows (who has 4 windows in their bedroom?) and I only have one window that I wanted to cover- SO- I had extra fabric that matched my comforter and of course I realized that that would be perfect for my project!

My husband liked the idea as well, but there was a catch. I wanted to hang the panels above our bed, but we have never been able to hang pictures or anything above our bed because my husband has a phobia of pictures falling off the wall in an earthquake and hitting him in the head while he sleeps (not completely irrational, as we live near a fault line). So, using the wooden boards or frames with sharp corners like most of the wall hangings I have seen out there was not really an option for us. Not to worry, though! I realized that Styrofoam would work just as well, and my husband gave it the stamp of approval!

I bought 2 sheets of styrofoam (each about 36 inches long, and an inch thick) and marked out the dimensions of the wall hangings I envisioned. I don't have the benefit of lots of power tools or a shop where I could cut the styrofoam, so I just used a serrated bread knife, and it worked just fine, not even too messy. I decided to do a cluster of 3 panels, but I had enough styrofoam to do 4.

Then I cut up one of the window valences so I had rectangles big enough to cover the styrofoam panels I had cut. I actually bought a coordinating piece of fabric on sale at Jo Ann Fabrics, so I covered one panel with that fabric, and the other two I covered with the valence fabric.

I wrapped the fabric tightly over the styrofoam, and used my hot glue gun to hold the fabric in place. I went through a LOT of glue. The backside isn't pretty, as you can see below, but once it is up on the wall, no one will ever know!

I love the fabric, so I liked how the front of the panel looked, but I wanted to add a little dimension, not to mention some color to my room. So I thought of making the wall hangings into picture frames. I had a few of our favorite pictures printed out in 8x10 size. I liked the idea of doing a picture from the day my husband officially proposed, a picture from our wedding day, and a more current picture of the two of us.

The picture frames also needed to be lightweight, so I cut some pieces of cardboard and marked lines around the edges where I was going to cover them with fabric. I used the new fabric I had bought as well as the extra valence fabric, with the idea of making the frame contrast with the panel it was on.

I cut the fabric into strips, ironed them in half, then hot glued them around the edge of the cardboard, with raw edges facing out. I then folded the strips around to the back of the cardboard and hot glued. There was plenty of room to wiggle the pictures in, and I think the fabric strips would have held the photos in fine, but I secured them in place with photo adhesive squares so they wouldn't become crooked or anything.

After I hot glued the frame onto the styrofoam panel, I glued a ribbon across the back to hang it by.

I love how they turned out! It took me a couple of hours one afternoon (during baby's nap and snack time) to get all three of them done, but I was pleased with the finished product- easy, no- sew, and matchy! I think they add a lot to the room.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The motivation behind Home Sweet Homebodies... and inspiring the Men in our lives

Marissa and I have always had a love for all things crafty. I was fascinated with sewing and organizing and making things out of paper or recycled goods from an early age. Marissa cultivated talents for crocheting, cake decorating, and jewelery making. After I got married 5 years ago, and even more so after having my first child in 2008, I became interested in using my passion for creating things to beautify my home. Similarly, after getting married, Marissa began using her talents to decorate and adorn her home. Still, there are areas that we would love to improve our skills in (read "we don't do that stuff yet, but we want to"). I invited Marissa to do a crafty- type blog with me, and this blog was created to help us achieve some of our goals. I think in the couple of months that we have been blogging in earnest (any posts older than 2010 were imported from my personal blog) that we have been motivated to try some new things that we wouldn't have otherwise done >pat on the back<.

However, we couldn't have predicted how some of the men nearest and dearest to us would also become... inspired.

My husband, who encouraged me to start a craft blog many months before I actually considered doing it, asked me to make him a lap quilt last Valentine's Day... and he helped me make it. He also deserves credit for many of the photos on my posts.

Marissa's husband has been involved in some of her recent projects, including the fabulous shelf makeover. He is also an idea man, coming up with ideas for even more crafty projects.

(A big thanks to our wonderful, supportive husbands.)

The biggest surprise so far came to us a couple of weeks ago, by way of a web photo album sent to us by our man's man, DIY, dear old dad (I meant the "old" part as a figure of speech only, not literally, of course). "You guys got my creative juices flowing so I thought I would come up with a little craft project of my own." That got my curiosity piqued, and I admit I was already starting to giggle, not even having seen the photos yet. At this point, Marissa and I were on the phone, looking through the pictures together. We looked at each picture, and read the commentary on his "man craft", and I tell ya, I was in serious danger of waking my son in the other room, who had gone to sleep for the night. With comments like "Hot steel- now that's man- glue!" and the final "Aum not gonna tell you" (A quotable quote in our family based on a 4 year old Marissa's statement in a home video) the chuckles and guffaws quickly transformed in to a shrieking laugh- cry. Not a pretty sound or sight. At that point Marissa conference called our dad so he could hear our reactions. I think he was amused that we were so amused.

 Marissa, my dad, and I after running a half marathon together a couple years ago.

Anyway, this might be one of those "had to be there" moments, but thanks for humoring me if you made it this far. Oh, here is the link to the web album, if you want to see it!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cake Decorating Tips and Ideas

I picked up the hobby of cake decorating a few years ago, when my mom gave me a wilton cake decorating kit for Christmas - complete with some icing tips and a "how to" book. I was automatically hooked. I have always loved making artsy things, and combining that with making my artwork edible? Genius. In this post you will see some of the cakes I have made with techniques and ideas I learned from the Wilton Decorating Cakes book.

The beauty with cake decor is that if you can dream it you can do it. You can make it as crazy or as beautiful as you want. I think what it all comes down to is having the right tools, the right attitude, and the right cake and frosting to work with. On that same note, it can be frustrating at times, so I thought I'd share some helpful hints I have learned.

Some tips:

Baking your cake:
You want your cake top to be as flat as possible after it's cooked, so you don't have to trim off the bump that always forms on top. Here are some ideas that work:
1. Bake your cake at a lower temperature - if it says to bake it at 350*, then bake it at 325* or even 300* for a little longer - this allows it to cook more evenly.
2. Invest in "bake even strips" - these things are amazing! They are made of fabric but one side is reflective. You soak it it water, and then pin it around the outside of the cake pan, and it helps to avoid cracking and lessens the dome on top. I don't know how it works, but it does! I have also heard that you can cut an old towel into strips, and use those the same way.

You want your cake to have as little crumbs as possible, so that frosting it is easier. It is so annoying when the crumbs get mixed in with the frosting! Some ideas to make it a more pleasant experience:
1. Use milk instead of using water
2. Use one more egg than it calls for
3. After your cake is baked and cooled, apply a thin layer of frosting (called the crumb layer), and let it dry. This seals in the cake and the crumbs, and makes frosting it a piece of cake! (har har)

**A word to the wise: baking your cake the day before you need it will save you a LOT of stress. So, if you can, bake it ahead of time, and you can even frost it up to a day before it needs to be done.

1. The creamier your frosting is, the easier it is to apply, for the base layer (after the crumb layer). I usually use the Wilton's Buttercream recipe, and have found that adding 2-3 TB of milk works best for the base.
2. Store-bought frosting from a tub is extremely convenient, and goes on the smoothest I've ever seen! (although it is more expensive)
3. Frosting that is more stiff in consistency holds its shape better- you want to have stiffer frosting (depending on what your are making) when you are using a bag and a tip to decorate. The way to make your frosting more stiff is by adding powdered sugar.
4. For a smooth, even texture on the base, dip your knife/spatula into boiling hot water, dry it off, and then smooth over your frosting. This technique melts the frosting, and gives it a perfectly smooth texture.

Here are some of my latest cakes!

I hope this was helpful! Happy decorating!!!

Linking up!

The Girl Creative

Keeping It Simple

Sumo Sweet Stuff

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Vintage picture frame and oil painting

How to make this awesome oil painting picture:

1. Download and install (it’s free – just do a google search for
2. Open it once it’s installed. (Don’t worry about all the stuff that’s cluttered around and don’t be intimidated – this is a very easy process.)
3. Click file then click open from the drop down menu.
4. Open then select the image you would like to turn into an oil painting.

- Now it should look roughly like this with your picture inserted
(don't mind the kissy picture...)

5. Now click effects at the top. Select artistic from the drop down menu then oil painting to the right.

6. A new box that says oil painting will come onto the screen. It has 2 bars that say brush size and courseness. Now is the part where you experiment to get it how you like it! Bigger brush size and more courseness will make the "painting" more abstract.

Some tips:
- If at any time you decide you don't like the way it has turned out you can click the cancel button and start over.
-If you click ok and decide you don't like it you can click edit then undo at the top or just push cntrl and z at the same time. This is how ours looked at the end (you can't see much of a difference from a computer screen unless you look at the picture more closely).

7. Lastly, save it by clicking file then save as. You know the drill: choose a name and location for the picture and then click save. When it asks how much quality you would like - choose 100% and click okay.

You now have your nice photo-turned-oil painting! How easy is that!?

This is how the "oil painting" looked after we edited it in

Now for the frame!

The "Vintage" look of the frame is actually quite easy to achieve! All you need to do after you have spray painted your frame (and let it dry), is whip out some of that good ol' nail polish remover, apply it to a cotton ball, and rub lightly around the frame. You will get a faded, almost antique, vintage look, that matches the rustic oil painting perfectly!

You'll have to forgive the photography...but hopefully you have an idea of how this works!

Like this shelf? Check out how we made it here.

I am linking to......

The Girl Creative

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Meal planning, part 2

Do you dread the approach of 5:00pm?  Do you open the refrigerator door over and over to see if by some magical possibility, a delicious dinner (or hey, even leftovers) has appeared on the shelf next to the jar of pickles that are sitting so lonely in the corner?  Do you experience guilt over having just spent $200 at the grocery store only to come home at a loss of ideas of what to make for dinner?

Many days, that is me.  If that occasionally describes you too, do not despair!  I have just the thing.  We will unite and conquer, one baby step at a time.

My fabulous mother emailed me some wonderful spreadsheets she made some time ago with some great resources for meal planning.  She called them "mind joggers".  You could look at what main ingredients you had on hand, look at the mind jogger list, and come up with something to make for dinner!  She also put together some mix and match menu samplers for nutritious meal planning.  I have tweaked those documents a bit, and they are going right into the front of the recipe binder I am building.

Mind Joggers

Mix and Match Menus

Again, you will be able to download these documents from my Google Docs, so once you have it, feel free to edit, add to, or delete things on the lists to customize it for your family.  I would love to know if you find these useful!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

♥ Love-ly Valentines Day decor ♥

Rochelle and I got together over this past weekend and decided we needed to add some LOVE to our home decor for Valentine's Day! Here is our "heart-themed" result:

I had this old frame from the dollar store, and its backing was really really warped. I ended up taking it off, along with the glass, and giving it a good spray down with some black spray paint. Then I was left with a very empty (but much more attractive) frame.

I thought it would look really cute with something hanging from the top part of the frame, so that's what led me to this idea - I've seen this technique done on wreaths and things like that, but I thought I would try it on a heart!

Here's how to make this:
1. Trace a heart onto some cardboard from an empty cereal box, and cut it out.
2. Cut out circles about 2- 2.5" in diameter from desired fabric (I should have counted them, but I would say it was at least 50 circles).
3. Point a pencil into the middle of the circle and pull it tight around the point (so it looks like a cone), and apply hot glue to the end; then stick the circle on the heart, and repeat, adding the subsequent circles close together, so if has a very dense "petal-like" texture.
4. I added the red border, but you could just keep it all one color, or try multiple colors!
5. To hang, I used some ribbon - just made a loop over the frame and hot glued it to the back of the heart. Easy!
6. To hang the frame, same idea - I just glued the ends of some ribbon to the top corners of the frame, and voila! You have a brand new Valentine's decoration, for FREE!

Do you like?

Here is Rochelle's version:

I used the same cardboard base as Marissa, but cut out a heart from the center. Then I cut 1- inch wide strips from three different fabrics; a white muslin, a red and white gingham, and red cotton jersey from an old T-shirt (I ♥ recycling!). I tied the strips in tight knots around the border, 3 in a row of the same color, then alternating colors. Lastly, I trimmed all the strips to be the same length. I can't decide if I like it more with the knots in the back or in the front. I kinda like both ways!

Here's with the knots in the back...

And this is what it looks like with the knots in the front.

Super easy, and since we used what we already had on hand, we didn't spend a dime! Now that's what I call a sweet deal!

Linking To:

Blue Cricket Design
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