7.29.2011

one of my favorite things

i love magazines. what i love even more is having the time to read my magazines. they're a source of ideas, a source of escape and even a source of inspiration in so many ways. what i love even more are hanging on to my magazines. i have years' worths of real simple magazine...and i refuse to get rid of them. when they become too much, i've even started using them as a decor element. (and to prove i'm not crazy, electrolux vacuums and small appliance's facebook page even suggested this as an idea. see it here. this is a total shameless plug: my lovely sis created and maintains this facebook page. if you even want to go a step further, become a fan. she will love you forever.)


one of my fave, fave, fave magazines is a better homes and gardens special interest publication - do it yourself magazine. i'm just in my first year of subscription, but i absolutely cannot wait for each quarter's issue to come out. and it just so happened that my fall 2011 issue arrived last week...in perfect time to take along on my business trip this week. (alone airplane time = perfect to catch up on magazines)







every issue is chock full of ideas for home decor, crafts, gifts, organization, storage, you name it, it's in there. in this issue, i have a couple of fave callouts:

1. "ask john & sherry"...this is a special contribution in each issue from younghouselove.com's john & sherry petersik. i love them. love, love, love.










2. "the organized office." of course. provides all sorts of fun ideas and solutions to get your workspace in tip-top shape.



3. "just my type"...love this article too. i feel like one of the easiest ways to weave in personalization into a home is using and showcasing initials or names. this feature shows ways to stamp initials, use them to create a weekly calendar, and how to even integrate typography into pillows.


this pub also reminds me of one of my other all-time favorite magazines - blueprint - which was a martha stewart publication. it lasted eight issues, was focused more towards the 20-somethings, showed how to make things that real people could actually make, and i don't think there was anyone more sad to see it go than both me and my sister.



what about you? any favorite magazines out there you can't live without?

7.24.2011

curtain call

i have to say, i'm so proud of myself. i said i was going to get curtains done this weekend, and i got them done!


like i said a while back, we have company coming to see our house for the first time. and this just isn't any 'ol company. this is one of my bestest friends and her family...my crafting/creative guru and i can't wait for her to see our house. our house isn't on house tours or anything, but it is our home and we've done quite a bit to make it ours. she and i just go way back when it comes to our houses....mike and i helped her and her husband paint their house, we talked about paint colors, decor, etc...so, i just can't wait to show her what we've done here.


one of my must-haves before our special visitors was curtains for our great room. we've slowly been remaking the room for literally two years now and i was at a place where i just felt like we needed something more to warm up the room and make it feel more cozy. we have a leather sectional, and a cloth, off-white loveseat and simple side tables and decor. but i still felt like it needed something. so i bargained with mike - i was going for an area rug or curtains. curtains won.


the search for pre-made curtains didn't turn up exactly what i was looking for, so of course i thought "i can make these." i wanted a soft material, in a greenish-blue and i found the perfect fabric in jo-ann's home decor fabric department. and if i was custom-making my curtains, i could pretty much do whatever i wanted as far as hanging them. they could have grommets, or slide on to the rod, or i could use curtain rings with clips. i'm a huge fan of the latter, which made the idea of making panels even easier. no worries about having a hem that will fit a rod and no need to try and install grommets for the first time ever. so i set off to make my easy panels.

first step was to convince my loving husband to install the curtain rod. a tip: if you're making panels, hang the rod first. this way you can double-check your panel length measurement based on where the rod actually will hang. we used the umbra curtain rod which i found on sale at target. for the curtain rings, i went with the brushed nickel allen + roth rings from lowes.






with the rod up, it was time to start the panels. i picked up about 5-3/8 yards of my fabric at jo-anns, along with matching thread. a tip: the first step before measuring panel lengths is evening off your edges (aka squaring them off). fabric stores don't cut anything in a straight line, so it's a must to get your edges as squared off as possible. i used a right-angle square and then a straight edge to get my line all the way across the 54" wide fabric. once the edges were straight, i was able to cut my two panels, just by halving my fabric.




next step was to do my hems along the selvage edges...in this case, my vertical edges. i did a 1" hem on both sides and stitched them up.








then, it was time for the top and bottom hems. when i figured the length of the panels, i allowed for a 4" hem on both top and bottom.











and then, finished! final step was clipping the new panels on the curtain rings and doing the final "fluffing."


the final panels (complete with noah's chair and blanket)


i have to say that these panels seem so simple but they have given this room exactly what i was looking for. just a little softness for the room.

now if i can just make sure that a certain two-year-old doesn't use my new panels as a climbing toy.... :)

7.22.2011

how i spent my friday night

friday nights at our house are always low-key. we're always just in the mood to make things as easy and as relaxed as possible...dinner is usually picked up from somewhere (it's a rare friday when we actually want to pack everyone up and go out) and we catch up on the dvr from the week. or some fridays, i drag out a project and all of my crafting toys and have a little fun. tonight was one of those nights.

a fun birthday celebration tomorrow for a special one-year-old was the reason for tonight's project. i already had the gift all wrapped up and wanted to make a special card to mark the occassion. and i just so happened to have some new crafty tools that i was itching to work with.


to start, the theme for the card. the gift bag was all boy...monsters and aliens. and i just so happened to have a new cricut cartridge - boys will be boys - that i couldn't wait to use.









i started with my paper source a6 flat notecards in clover. along with an alien character from my new cartridge, i also wanted to give a little layering and texture to the card. i took some deep turquoise paper, cut it down to size, and finally got to use my new toy - the cricut cuttlebug embosser with the swiss dots embossing plate. (i have to pause here and brag a little about my husband...i've been talking about getting a cuttlebug for weeks, have even tried to bid on a couple on ebay, and thought i was in total luck last weekend when michael's had them 50% off for one day only...i was sort of crushed when i got to michael's to literally see them selling their last one right in front of me. my hero came through and surprised me with one. so big props to my mike. he's the greatest.)




once layer one was set, i started working on getting the little alien creative made...and while thinking, i had the idea to incorporate a giant "1" into the card...since it is after all, this little guy's big first birthday!









next, it was on to building our little alien...layer by layer. all in all, it took four layers...


layer one...our little yellow guy



the final card front

and, the finishing touch was adding a "1" to the outer envelope to add a little something...for this, i got to use another one of my new toys - my
xyron create-a-sticker maker.


the final touch with the envelope


we can't wait to celebrate this very special little boy's first birthday tomorrow! and, i'm hoping there will be more updates this weekend on some new window treatments that have been started, so stay tuned!

7.16.2011

now i know my abc's

this week's project was inspired by a certain little energetic boy, who's talking and singing like crazy. and one of the favorite songs we hear over and over again is the "abc's." don't get me wrong, there's nothing i love more than hearing our little boy sing his abc's...it just so happened that i was able to capture a little inspiration from this very popular song in our house.

i'm having this obsession with canvas, paint and paper crafting to make fun, kid-friendly home decor. like i've mentioned, i'm drawn to this simply because i've looked around for some unique decor geared towards kids and i just haven't found something that feels a little personal. so, i decided to make something myself.

that's where the series of abc wall art was born. brightly painted canvas with complementary letters. for this first set, i was feeling more girly with my colors, but these can of course be any range of colors for little boys too.


to start, i relied on my awesome find from michaels - the 10 pack of 8" x 10" canvas (on sale!)



next step was painting the four canvases. i went with bright orange, purple, pink and yellow...all to give a nice range of colors. two coats of the acrylic paint were used.




the first coat of paint

once the two coats were on and dry, i had to work with the order of the color. i knew i wanted all four of the canvas to lay vertically, but the order of the four was important. it's all a matter of personal preference, but i went with:


another part of this process was figuring out the color of each canvas' letter. it was a little like a puzzle to make sure the colors looked right.

for my letters, i of course consulted my trusty cricut and the plantin schoolbook cartridge. for the letters, i wanted a simple, basic lowercase font...something that kind of reminded me of learning how to write when i was really little. i wanted that same kind of back-to-basics font for these pieces.


testing out a couple of sizes - 6", 7" and 8" letters

once the four letters were cut out and positioned, i turned to my handy glue pen to adhere my paper letters to the painted canvas. and finally...some cute little wall hangings for a bedroom or a playroom that are not only adorable, but also help teach the all important abc's!




the finished pieces!


until the next project,


ashley

7.08.2011

whoo! whoo!

i've mentioned before how much my grandmother influenced my love of creative things. she always encouraged me to be creative and crafty and unique...and one of the unique things about my grandmother was her unexplainable love of owls. she had owls everywhere. planters. wind chimes. tiny little trinkets. and, to this day, i have no idea why she loved them.



but i can tell you, that for some reason, i've recently taken on an affinity for owls. and my only explanation is that they spark a memory of my mimi. and in a way, i feel like having an owl here and there is a little dedication to this very special woman.




during a recent target trip, i came across an outdoor owl statue they had in their summer outdoors line. of course, i was drawn to it. but i passed on it until the other night when the greatest word ever was attached to the owl: clearance! so i went for it (of course).










here's where the need to be creative came in: i knew i wanted to put the outside on our back porch. and here in northern illinois, we get some fierce, sometimes wicked winds. (like, huff and puff and seems like blow your house down winds). and mr. owl was a bit top-heavy. so, i needed to help mr. owl get weighed down a bit.



bring in a piece of remnant slate (a material i love), some helpful and very tough landscape block adhesive, and voila! mr. owl was much less likely to topple over in his new home, right off our back patio.








for about $10, we now have this great little tribute to my mimi right in our backyard.


here's to my mimi,

ashley

7.03.2011

from the crafting archives

i've been a bit quiet over the last week or so. i promise i have been working on projects (we're in the final stretch with the wall hanging project...ahhhh!) and i've also been trying to capture some creative inspiration, and something worthy of writing about. rather than showcasing the last two lines of the wall hanging i've finished (i'm holding firm and not doing another update until it's done), it took coming home to get a little bit of inspiration.



i've been thinking about my crafting in the sense of what i'm working on now, but being at my childhood home reminded me of one of my first big crafting projects that i was working on eight years ago. it was the year of planning our wedding, martha stewart weddings was my go-to magazine for wedding ideas and it was in a fall or winter 2002 edition that i saw exactly what i wanted to do for our wedding. two words: beaded flowers.



the article showed these amazingly intricate flowers made with thin jewelry wire and teeny, tiny beads...made petal by petal...and all wound together in this beautiful way to create a single flower. i knew these had to be a part of our wedding, but i had to figure out how. and then it came to me...these would be the favor for our guests and they would also hold each guest's table assignment. with that, i started on a 12 month journey of making 180 beaded flowers.



our colors were simple...black, ivory with small touches of red. so, i went simple with the flowers and decided on clear beads for the petals with red and green accents for the flower centers.



i can't even tell you over the course of a year how many bags of beads i bought. or how many hours i spent making the tiny, intricate flowers. (i think by the end, i had it down to a science and i was making about a flower-an-hour. one of the most vivid memories i have is being curled up on the couch at my mother's house, right after christmas, one month before the wedding, and staying up until 3am to finish the very last, 180th flower.)


the other decision to make was how we were going to set these up and present them to our guests. i looked at small glass vases. then, the idea to tie mike's background into this endeavor...being in grad school, getting a degree in chemistry was inspiration enough. there's all kinds of cool glassware in the chemistry world. that was inspiration enough.


we looked at test tubes. and then we finally came across erlenmeyer flasks. (for anyone who has blocked out your chemistry education like i have, see here.) a large quantity were ordered and we had our vases to house the beaded flowers.


by the end, they turned out to be this really unique, and handmade, personal element to our wedding.



the final flowers


i've loved reminiscing about this project with you. it's one of those that meant so much to me and was part of one of the most important days of my life.

did you do anything special or unique for an important day in your life? i'd love to hear!

here's to craftiness,
ashley
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