Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Springtime Monogram Wreath

So my front entrance has been needing a little sprucing up. The empty flower pots and and blank door weren't doing much to welcome friends and family much less visitors.  So I picked up some new plants - white caladiums, purple Mexican heather, and lime green ipomoea vine - to freshen the flower pots.  I love the combination of dark green and lime green with the pop of purple! 

My Inspiration

This inspired me to embellish my existing door wreath with a fresh springtime theme.  I started this project with the oval grapvine wreath and decoupaged "H" which I previously used as a door decor.  I found everything I needed at Hobby Lobby to embellish it for spring.

Supplies needed:

- oval grapvine wreath (approimately 22" long x 16" wide)
- wooden monogram (my "H" is 9.5" tall and 9" wide that decoupaged in a white/black diamond wrapping paper
- 2.5" embroidered dragonfly ribbon
- 1.5" lime green textured ribbon
- florist wire for making and securing bow to wreath
- clock face knob
- dragonfly embellishment
- twine to tie dragonfly to knob post

I initially layered the textured green over the dragonfly ribbon but it  looked too heavy.  I loosely wrapped the lime green ribbon around the wreath to add color and texture.   I tied a loop of twine around draponfly embellishment then attached to post of knob behind face of knob.  To secure knob in place, I placed a washer over post and then tightened the nut in place.  

Lastly, I attached the dragonfly ribbon bow at the top against the knob.  The metal dragonfly dangles below bow and just above the letter.  

The embroidered dragonfly ribbon was a little pricey ($12.50 a roll at 50% off) but it's my favorite part of the wreath and brought the whole project together.  Look no further than your yard (or front porch), it just may inspire your next project.

Happy Spring!  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Wicker Chest Transformation

Many moons ago, my husband and I purchased a pair of wood-toned wicker chests at Pier 1 Imports.  It was one of our first "big" furniture purchases as a newly married couple. We needed something that would function as a bedside table but also offer storage for clothes.  Although we have since upgraded our bedroom furniture, I've held onto these chests for years.  They are still in excellent condition except for the outdated finish.  More than past due for a much-needed makeover, I transformed them with a black satin stain and new ceramic knobs.                    

Here is the "after" picture showing the transformation.  This chest sits in my guest bedroom flanked by twin beds.  The other chest will find a home in my office/studio.  So, are you curious about the "before"?  

Pretty amazing, right?  It's hard for me to believe my new and improved chests started out like this.  The transformation process is easier than you might think.    

I transferred the chest to my garage to give me a large ventilated work area.  After wiping the chests down with cotton cloth (no waxy or oily cleaner) to remove any dust, I removed drawers and drawer handles.  I lightly sanded the wood accents to removed any remaining varnish and dusted again with tack cloth.  Using a foam brush, I covered the body of the chest (front and sides) and drawer fronts with Minwax Polyshades in Satin Black.   

After allowing it to completely dry (24-48 hrs), I lightly sanded wood edging on the drawer fronts and body of chest to give it a slightly distressed look.  Use a fresh tack cloth to removed any dust from sanding. I then inserted the new ceramic knobs in the existing hole.  

Do you have an old chest sitting around just waiting for a makeover?  Give it a new and improved life by simply changing the finish with a two in one stain and new knobs. Check out Hobby Lobby and World Market for a variety of interesting knobs.  It's a project you can easily complete in a weekend to renew your uniquely nested home.   

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Family Command Center

For those of us who live in the states, this is the first official week of Daylight Savings Time (DST).  Depending on who you ask, people either love or hate this yearly ritual of moving our clocks ahead one hour each spring.  For some people, the loss of that one little hour of sleep wrecks havoc on their circadian rhythm. Even though this process is supposedly harder on night owls like me, I would keep our clocks on perpetual forward because I enjoy having more hours of sunshine and I hate that it gets dark at five o'clock when we "fall back" one hour in November. Given that I'm in favor of "spring forward", I dutifully (and eagerly) moved our clocks   ahead one hour anticipating longer days filled with sunshine and warmth. Goodbye winter!  Oh how I look forward to the sunny   days and warmer temps - the humidity, not so much. Boy does it do a number on my hair!  Unfortunately, it happens to be a very cloud-filled day in my neck of the woods so I'll have to wait a little longer for those sunshiny days.  No worries - a day indoors gives me a great opportunity to share an organizing project I completed in early February - our Family Command Center.

As a busy family of four (five if you include the dog), I generally keep track of our hectic schedules of sports, school, travel, and work on my iPhone calender.  It works beautifully if I remember to input the event.  Being a very visual hands-on person, I really missed having a calendar on the wall which the whole family could easily refer to and quickly add events.  I also wanted a spot where I could display party invitations, upcoming appointment reminders, photos, and school notices.  So that was the inspiration for this project.

Our Family Command Center includes three components:  
  • Burlap Memo Board
  • Two-month Perpetual Calendar
  • Wall File

Here's how it looks hanging on the wall. It's a convenient location for us because it's very accessible in a short "hallway" as we enter the house from the garage.  I walk past it mutiple times per day so it's easy to add or check monthly events.  

Back in October, I created the Burlap Memo Board using a standard picture frame (14" x 18") and a burlap covered canvas (12" x 16").  Although originally turned in a landscape position, I turned the memo board in a portrait position to match the calendar for this project.

For the Two-Month Perpetual Calendar, I used the same style picture frame (14" x 18") as the memo board.  I removed backing and covered it with a leopard print wrapping paper I had on hand.  You could use any wrapping paper (small scale pattern works best) or even a light weight fabric.  I liked how the leopard pattern coordinated with my existing decor.  I printed two blank calendars onto white card stock trimming to edge of calendar.  I positioned calendars on top of covered backing adhering with scrapbook adhesive.  You could even use a fun washi tape.  I cleaned the protective glass and reinserted the now calendar-covered backing.  Using a wet erase marker (which come in a wide variety of colors) to write directly onto the glass front, I filled in the dates for those two particular months.  I prefer using wet erase markers versus dry erase because they don't easily smear. To indicate the months, I hot glued a decorative clothespin to top left edge of frame (for top calendar) and glued another decorative clothespin to middle edge of frame (for bottom calendar).  I found cute month tags in the scrapbooking section.

To hang the the calendar and memo board, I attached decorative hooks to the wall.  For "hangers" on the picture frames, I tied a length of decorative rope to each frame.  The rope hanger easily slips onto the wall hook and you can just as easily remove the calendar for updating events.

For the Wall File, I used an inexpensive horizontal wall file which I centered below the calendar and memo board.  The "file" holds two small glass jars (one for wet erase markers and one for dry erase markers) and a cute zippered pouch for the month of the year tags.

The great thing about this project is that you can easily find the supplies at your local craft store.  You can also choose a fun paper or fabric backing and unique frame to personalize your project. My frames are black in a clean simple style.  You may want to use intricately carved frames or even reclaimed wood frames.  The  possibilities are endless.  I could easily see the project in a teen girl's room to coordinate with her bedding and decor.

Cute little monthly tags and decorative clothespins can be found in the scrapbooking section of your local craft store.  If I had space I would actually do three frames - two perpetual calenders with the memo board in the middle or the reverse with two memo boards on the outside with one perpetual calendar in the middle.  

Similar calendar systems can be purchased at stores like Ballard Designs and Pottery Barn but they cost an arm and a leg.  I've actually drooled over said systems as I purused the glossy pages of my PB catalog.  The burlap message board (15' x 20') from Ballard cost a whopping $49.  My Burlap Memo Board is slightly smaller but cost roughly $15 to make because I found my frames and burlap canvas on sale.  For the Daily System by Pottery Barn, it would cost over $200 for a system like the one I created. My family command center cost less than $50.  I don't know about you but I like the idea of saving $150.  

Check your local craft stores for sales on picture frames and the burlap canvas. Michaels and Hobby Lobby always have a 40% off coupon out there as well.  I found my wall file in a clearance section.  It's a fun and easy project to complete. It cost nothing to study catalogs, magazines, and Pinterest for inspiration.  I just wasn't willing to give up any appendages or take out a loan to create a command center that worked for our family.  I created ours for a fraction of the cost.  You can too!        

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Flora & Fauna Spring Tablescape

I mentioned a few days ago that I've got a serious case of Spring Fever.  I'll take that any day over flu and pneumonia - thank you very much!  The "fever" started with my Simple Spring Mantel then progressed to the Moss Ball Topiaries.  It's now moved into the dining room as I freshened up my table with a Flora & Fauna Spring Tablescape.  

The foundation of my display is the same Turkish dough riser which you may remember from my holiday tablescape. Although the potted silk daffodils remained in the same spot, I removed the large white candles.  I filled the middle two sections and outer two sections with additional beans to raise up my decorative items.  I covered the "filler" with multi-colored shred which I found in Easter section at World Market.  

The natural shred provides a great texture and the perfect mix of springtime colors including cream, brown, citrusy green, and duck egg blue.  For the "flora" part of the tablescape, I paired the silk daffodils in cream and the moss ball topiary.

For the "fauna" part of my tablescape, I found natural fiber birds and bunnies at World Market.  The bunnies are especially sweet.  These little cuties come in both cream and tan.  I also added small silk butterflies to the mix with one large butterfly in the middle section. 

Here are the sources for my spring tablescape:

Turkish dough riser - Old World Antieks, Store in La Grange, Texas and vendor at Round Top Antique Show 

Potted silk daffodils - Target (found at Christmas a few years ago)

Moss ball topiary - created by me (check out the post for this project) 

Natural multicolored shred, fiber birds, fiber bunnies, and egg-filled nests - World Market

Butterflies, bird cage candle holder - Michaels 

Beans (filler for sections) - grocery store  

Wine corks (filler around potted daffodils) - recycled  

And Spring arose on the garden fair, Like the Spirit of Love felt eveywhere; And each flower and herb on on Earth's dark breast  rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Moss Ball Topiaries

Want an easy way to freshen up your home for spring? Consider creating a variety of moss ball topiaries.  It's an easy way to add a botanical element to your living space without having to actually keep anything alive. Although I looked for some ready-made topiaries, the very unattractive plastic boxwood topiaries I came across were not at all what I had in mind - especially at $40 a pop!  I knew I could create something much more aesthetically pleasing for a lot less money.  I made two different toparies - a low version for my mantel and kitchen window and a tall version for my dining room tablescape.    

Here are the supplies I picked up from Hobby Lobby:

> rustic terra cotta pots (I got these at 50% off - sweet!)
> moss balls - 6", 4", 2.5"
> sheet moss
> loose moss 
> wooden dowels 
> green foam (to fill pot for tall topiaries)
> glue gun

I chose a variety of sizes of rustic terra cotta pots with the largest being 7" tall and 6.5" wide at the top to the smallest being 2.5" tall and 5" wide at the top.  With the 50% off discount, the most expensive pot was only $2.50!  The largest low topiary cost only $8.50 each to make. I made three of these for my Simple Spring Mantel for a total cost of $25.50.

Simple Spring Mantel 
Low Topiary
All you need to do is place this moss ball on top of pot. That's it!  Really.  You could use hot glue if you really wanted to take the time but it's not necessary.  The benefit of not gluing the balls means you could reuse the moss balls later by stacking them on top of each other in a narrow glass vase or clustering them in a basket.  A word of warning - if you have furry friends or boys in your house, they may be tempted to try out the moss balls as their newest play thing!       

Tall Topiary
This requires a little more work but not much.  Fill your pot with the green foam.  You will need a knife to cut it into the right shape.  Hot glue into pot.  Use scissors or knife to poke hole into moss ball.  Stick one end of dowel into moss ball (I did not glue) and then push other end of dowel into center of foam.  Remove dowel from foam.  Use pot to trace a circle in the sheet moss.  Cut out circle of sheet moss, remove backing, and stick on top of of pot to cover green foam.  I also used a little bit of loose moss to add dimension and to cover any openings around edge.  The moss is very forgiving and you can layer it if need be.  Use scissors to poke hole into center sheet moss where you previously poked hole with dowel into foam underneath. Squeeze some hot glue into hole and then push dowel (with attached moss ball) into hole.    

I left the dowels natural but you could either paint or stain them a dark brown or wrap with brown floral tape or ribbon. I embellished the topiary on right with a small butterfly for my dining room tablescape.  You could even add a bow below moss ball or at base of dowel.  These would also look great for a wedding or brunch tabletop as well as any spring-summer celebration. 

Although this project is a little messy when creating the tall topiaries, you will be so happy with your finished project and the money you saved.  So go have a "ball" and gather a group of friends for a crafting night to make moss ball toparies.  You could share the cost of some of the supplies and a bottle of wine while your at it.  Happy Crafting!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Simple Spring Mantel

I haven't seen a single snowflake but winter storm Flu-Monia (that's influenza followed almost immediately by pneumonia) hit our family with a one-two punch in February.  And, yes, we got our flu shots!!  So much for that.  Now that March is finally here and we are feeling better, spring fever has set in. To usher in the new season (and to ward off any more sickness), I freshened up our family room mantel with a simple spring-inspired design.        

After watching an episode (okay, several episodes) of Fixer Upper between coughing fits and nebulizer treatments, I was inspired to do an assymetrical design for my mantel.  For one of her mantel designs, Joanna used three simple vases filled with flowers.  As lovely as it looked, I didn't want to have to maintain fresh flowers.  The idea I had in mind included three decorative items to the right of the mantel with a large art piece to the left.  Decorative items that I considered for my project included chunky candlesticks, unique vases, botanical-inspired sculptures and topiaries. Your options are limitless as long as you have three of something.  I created a set of three simple topiaries that I made using rustic pots and moss balls.  

Be on the look out for an upcoming post on Moss Ball Topiaries.

Last fall I purchased two beautiful pieces of art by Mary Gregory (marygregorystudio.com) when I attended the antique show in Round Top, Texas.  The focal point of this art piece is a mother bird keeping watch over her nest of eggs.  It is very springlike in its theme...just perfect for my project.  I've had it safely tucked away in a closet just waiting for an opportunity to put it into the design mix.  I enjoy renewing my living space seasonally with small changes in art and accessories.

This project couldn't be simpler.  You probably already have a great piece of art and a few decorative objects stashed away in a closet. I hope this post inspires you to make some fresh changes to your home as you welcome the new season.

Happy Spring!