30 June 2010

Bonus Project - A New Piece of Art

While working on my pelmet box, I looked at this piece of leftover table runner and this piece of leftover foam core and thought, hmm, I see a coordinating art project there. So I pressed and starched the leftover table runner fabric and sewed a seam down the cut edge. Then I taped up the edges of the foam core with duct tape to smooth it off.

Then I glued it to the foam core in the same way I made the pelmet box. Instant cool piece of art to hang near the vanity just outside of the bathroom. It will be a fun, repeated punch of color to pull the en suite bathroom and the rest of the room together. The man had the idea to trace and enlarge one of the dark navy fish onto fabric or card stock and affix it to the center of the fabric, raised a bit from the surface. I think I'm going to try that. I don't have to make a decision until I have to permanently fasten it on.

And now out of scraps I have the perfect one-of-a-kind art piece to hang at the side of my sink. I'm looking at the other scraps of foam core and fabric I have and my creative muscles are starting to twitch. The possibilities are endless! Skinny strip of wall in the front entryway, here I come with three little pieces of foam core...I'm thinking leather or suede maybe...mmm..mmm....I love a great surprise bonus project!

29 June 2010

Coolest, Easiest Project Ever -- Pelmet Box

When I first read about making a pelmet box in this post by the talented Jenny at Little Green Notebook my eyes opened wide and I was amazed with what can be done with some foam core and duct tape. I took it another step further and eliminated the upholstery part by using a stiff table runner and gluing it directly to my foam core, with 1/4" hemmed edge sticking out beyond the foam core, hiding it from view.

This project is for a bathroom window that is rarely ever open and the glass is not clear. If I was doing this for a window that could be seen from the outside I would cover the inside and edges, but that wasn't necessary with this particular window set up and angle. As I write this, the final edge is drying, weighted down by jars of shells and sea glass and my metal box full of craft tools. I will hang it tomorrow and get a finished product photo soon.

Here's a little about my process. I started with two pieces of 1/2" thick foam core. I first measured my window width and added two inches on each side to get the measurement for the width of my finished box. I figured out how far I wanted it to stick out from the wall, this gave me the measurement for my two sides.

Then I measured my table runner. It was 13 1/2" wide so I made my foam core measure 13" to give me a quarter inch of overhang on the top and bottom. I wanted my box to be 37" wide, so I cut two pieces of foam core, one was 30" the full length of one sheet, then I needed to add 7" to that. This gave me two pieces that I taped together to get the face of my pelmet box, 13" x 37".

I cut my sides, 3 1/2 wide by 13 long. The next step was taping it all together. I have to say I don't use duct tape often and I had forgotten what a wonder it is! Wow! I started with the two biggest pieces to get the face of my pelmet box. Then I taped on each side piece. I also taped up the raw edges on the sides, top and bottom just to clean up the cut, slightly rough edges. Here's are views of the duct-taped frame from three sides. This may seem a little repetitive, but when I'm reading about a project online, I alway want to know what it looks like from all sides.

The face.

Looking down from the top.

From the inside.

Then I pressed my table runner and starched it a bit. It had a heavy interfacing in it, so this was basically a touch up -- and to get the hard pressed line out from where it had been folded and hung in the middle.

I debated about two options at this point. I originally thought I would use self-adhesive hook and loop fastener to attach the fabric to the frame, but since that required a trip to JoAnn Fabric which, during evening rush hour, sounded a bit ominous. I think this would work really well and allow you to get the fabric pulled really nice and tight onto the frame. It would also make it really easy to change fabrics easily if you change your mind of want to even go seasonal with your fabrics. You could just unfastened one and stick something else on.

Instead I opted to go with a heavy fabric & all-purpose glue which I just bought on Saturday. First I lined up the runner to my frame and created a slight crease with my fingertips where it would wrap to the sides. I removed it from the frame and then put a very liberal amount of glue in a rectangle shape about 3/4" in from the outer edge. Then I placed the runner on top and pressed it down well all around the edges and let that dry for about an hour.

Next using a similar glue pattern I glued one edge, then placed it on it's side and weighted down the inside of the frame. The front side didn't need to be weighted down, but the sides definitely did. See the jars and red box weighting down the edge and supporting the frame.

And that, friends was it! I have to say that I often dread starting a new project because they so often are way more of a headache than you hoped they would be...things like redoing seams, resizing things a bit, not having enough of some supply or ingredient, and other time-eating screw ups that cause frustration. But I've also found that the more projects I've done over the years, the better I am at thinking through things and keeping them simple, avoiding problems and getting frustrated.

This was amazingly easy. You should try it! And it's cheap enough that you can change it as often as you like. If you're tired of it after a year, try something new. It's not like you spent several hundred dollars on a custom treatment that you feel obligated to keep for 25 years!

Here's my total cost for this project:

Table Runner -- $9.99 + tax
Foam Core -- 2 sheets at $9.98 + tax (4.98 each)
Glue -- about $4 worth.

Total with tax: About $26. And see my next post for a bonus feature on this project, stretching my dollars even further!

Report on Progress

Monday was a big, busy day. In addition to a pile of regular tasks, I went through my craft & fabric storage boxes and cut back by about 75 percent. Car loaded with thrift store delivery to take downtown. Feels good to trim that all back and really keep only fabric and craft supplies I love and will use again. Whew! I really love living simply and more and more I feel like possessions only steal your money and then they own you. You have to store, maintain and clean and organize them constantly. The less the better!

While hunting through the boxes I also located interfacing and curtain lining I needed to work on projects I talked about yesterday. Happy to say that Project Four is complete! Hooray! Done and over with! You can see one of the chairs in the photo above. That's the primer, doesn't look anything like that now.

Then at 9:45 pm  I worked on finishing up a little art project that I started over the weekend. It's one of my favorite mediums, torn paper art. I had a hankering to create a work of art based on my little tribe, the three of us. I'm 99% happy with it right now and feel it just needs a quick look and little tweak tomorrow.

It will be framed in a gorgeous orange metal frame. I searched good and hard for the right frame and finally found this orange metal frame that not only looks so cool and hip with my project but the technical design for the frame and the way it all clips together in back were critical for my somewhat three-dimensional art. Will share with you tomorrow when I can get it framed and photographed.

Lastly here is an after. I posted a bit of the work in progress a couple of weeks ago. This is my inspiration board I created to go over my desk. Bought a used bulletin board at Goodwill and painted the frame dark brown, then covered the cork with linen. The final touch was to add a bit of ribbon around the inner edge of the frame. After some varying thoughts, I chose a beige and white striped trim and it turned out quite nice. I had been thinking about going with a strong contrast but decided to let my inspirations to the talking on the board instead of the trim.

Also I should tell you that while I was on the East Coast I had a little surprise visit from the handy man in my building and my bathroom has been totally redone. The hideous old wallpaper is gone and I have beautiful white walls now. The broken shower door has been replaced, a new towel rod on the wall. Every time I walk in there I feel surprised at how great it looks. Now I'm working on a bit of a decor upgrade in there too with the new curtains and a slight rearrangement of things.

Tomorrow looks to be another big day. Lots to accomplish, this time more time out of the house and on the road. Wishing you all well! Hope you are thriving and enjoying life!

28 June 2010

A+ to Cost Plus World Market

While out running errands on Saturday I was driving from Carson back to the Westside and decided to stop at a few home decor spots on the way back. I stopped in El Segundo and visited the Cost Plus World Market in the fabulous new shopping area on Sepulveda.

I went in looking for lamp shades and curtains and didn't find quite what I was looking for, but I have to say I was really impressed with the look Cost Plus is rocking right now. From wrapping paper to home furnishings and clothing they have a fantastic color palette and the styles are hip, fresh and inspiring.

I had to swoon a little over all the clothing and the jewelry. Darling dresses and tops in a gorgeous array of summery cottons, great scarves, headbands, bags and more.

And their jewelry collections were fantastic. Great simple bead strands with great color combinations, long, short and big and chunky. Great earrings for every occasion, earthy, bohemian and beautiful.

I'm giving Cost Plus World Market an A+ for affordability and on-point style. Have you shopped Cost Plus World Market lately? What is your favorite item you've purchased there?

Fun New Fabrics for Small Projects

Had some success FINALLY finding a few small pieces of fabric for four small projects. For as many days as I have been looking it's amazing I found four great pieces within 24 hours.

Project One -- Window Covering for 2nd Bathroom
(see photo above)

I received a pretty bright blue and white striped shower curtain for Christmas. I wanted to find something that coordinated with that and helped build on a beach/ocean feel throughout the apartment. I decided to look for alternative sources for fabric. I began looking at table clothes, bedding, shower curtains and other sources of fabric. I was about to leave Home Goods when I found this table runner (see photo above) on a rack near the front door.

I am going to make a pelmet box, inspired by this post over at Little Green Notebook. Because the table runner is already stiff I am going to use hook and loop fasteners to attach it to the frame, letting the edge hang over about 1/4" on all sides and then just shorten it on one end to fit the length of the box. I am going to attempt to attach it to the wall with picture hanger hook and loop fasteners. One table runner $9.99 +tax plus two 1/2" foam core boards ($10).

Project Two -- Window Covering for My Bathroom

Again I struck gold with an alternative fabric source at Home Goods. This is actually a tablecloth for a round outdoor table with an opening for an umbrella. I found it in the clearance section and the package was unlabeled so it took me a few minutes to figure out what it was. There is plenty of fabric here to either make two small fabric panels or one valence for the window that is main view in that room. And I can probably get at least one more project from this piece of fabric. One tablecloth $15.

Project Three -- Window Covering for Kitchen Window

I have tried dozens of fabric ideas for this window and none of them have worked. So I was thrilled to find this perfect little gem at JoAnn Fabrics. It's a lightweight cotton, so I will line it with some lining I have on hand and will probably add a bit of interfacing to give it a little more stiffness.

The more I look at this fabric the more I love it. It's a departure for me and at the same time so completely perfect -- I just didn't know what I wanted until I saw it. Love the bright yellow, love the orange as always, and the green ties it in with so many shades of green I have throughout the house.

I'm thinking about doing a very simple and classic valence, stiff and straight across, no gathering or pleating. I think a bit of ribbon would be a lovely touch too, hmm, green or orange? I'm leaning towards green. One yard $8.99 + tax.

Project Four -- Cushion Covers for Play Table

This project has been in the works for going on a year now I think. I learned a lot from this project and permanently changed the way I will do refurbishments forever. The last step for this project is to recover the seat cushions I purchased. I found super cheap kid's size seat cushions at IKEA for $1.99 each. Can't beat that, can't even buy a small pillow insert for less that about $6. A yard of this fabric cost $8.99 + tax at JoAnn F & C.

It's a lightweight cotton, so I will add some fusible interfacing and may sew some no slip grip material on the bottom side. After some deliberation I finally found the fabric that brings my dream of this project all together. I am very excited about the finished product and will look forward to sharing it.

I am hoping to jam through these quickly over the next couple of days. I'm going to start with Project Four...then pelmet box...then it's a toss up. I'm also working on a cool art project. Found the perfect frame for it. More on that soon.

For a Girl Who Loves Dogs

When I saw these three pieces of art at Z Gallerie I couldn't stop thinking about how cute they would be over the Little Bug's bed someday, all in a row.

I don't even really like small dogs but these were just so charming for some reason. Maybe it's the textures of papers, the color combinations or just how expressive these pups faces are. For a little girl who loves dogs, these would be fun companions along a bedroom wall.

Photo 1 via
Photo 2 via
Photo 3 via

25 June 2010

Z Gallerie Spree

While visiting Z Gallerie I found a few items that were a great investment for the apartment refresh. Since I have gotten so many things on clearance or at thrifts I was ready to invest in a few new things. My biggest expense was this loving framed print - Gordon Paths. I fell for it immediately then walked around the store for an hour and still kept coming back to it.

When I'm making an investment in something for me or my home I try to gauge how much it really means to me by the yardstick question "will I still be thinking about it when I get home, tomorrow, a year from now?" It is so easy to get caught up in the moment and want things that you barely care about a day later which becomes another thing that owns you rather than you enjoying it. By owning you, I mean something you have to store, clean, take care of and at some point dispose of,  that doesn't really have any value to you -- this is a burden.

This painting somehow connected me to my time in New England this summer and all that played out while I was there. I loved the colors and knew they would be a good addition to what I already had at home. It is clean and modern, a direction my senses have been pulling to a bit this year and at the same time complimented my overall scheme and existing decor. I found a lovely spot for it in the dining area, a major focal point on for the east wall. I have not had one moment of regret and am happy I went for it.

The rest of my purchases have to do with the senses, the inviting sense of smell. The Man was immediately drawn to the Valencia Orange candles and potpourri. Even the word potpourri rings icky 1990s bells for me, but having a good smelling home is important. You always remember a home that smells lovely and inviting and you never forget a home that smells bad. The sense of smell has an incredible power over our memory making and can instantly draw us back into situations from the past.

I smile when The Man goes over and sits next to the orange candles and just takes a deep breath. They are gorgeous candles, three tall candles in a dark wood block candle holder.

Later I found the Pineapple potpourri. Love it! Thought it would be great to layer with the orange scents and would compliment well the polynesian/asian feel of the decor. It smells divine! The mixture of scents is warm, friendly and inviting.

For my room I picked up a Stella Mare Coconut-Guava diffuser. Sticking with the island scent family these are two more complimentary scent and continue to layer the scent throughout the home. The diffuser is a lighter scent than the two in the main living area and adds just a touch of femininity to the sleeping quarters. Loved the Stella Mare packaging! So gorgeous!

The perfect compliment to the pineapple and orange potpourri was this pretty bamboo laquerware bowl. It's hard to see the texture in this photo but it's earthy and milky and stands out so beautifully on a mocha table and full of bright orange, yellow and green potpourri. It was the perfect way to diffuse the delicious scents throughout the living room.

So the home smells fantastic and there's a new piece of art on the walls to start pulling the new look together. Things continue to come together. More on that in the next post.

I'd love to hear what you do to keep your home smelling fresh and delicious. Do you have any home remedies? Do you have particular brands and scents you are loyal to? Are you in search of something new? Converse, please feel free. You're comments and thoughts are a vital part of any great blog conversation.

Happy Weekend! Hope it's a wonderful one for you. I have big plans for the weekend. Working on projects around the home, two business proposals and to Santa Monica Fireworks on Saturday night with "CA Family." I may sneak in a movie and trip to IKEA in there as well.

Pretty Visions from Z Gallerie

A few days ago, after a lovely brunch at Jack & Jills in Beverly Hills we decided to stretch our legs wandering Beverly Boulevard for a while. I haven't spent much time in Z Gallerie over the years, but when I stopped at the window display, I was compelled to pop in.

The entire first floor is organized by color. It is stunning! I applaud the store designers who came up with this fresh, energetic approach to Summer 2010!

I adore the tall lanterns, the crisp whites and the selection of varying sizes of decor pieces. One of the things that caught my eye was how much great stuff they have that is so perfect for decorating a mantle.

There is a wide range of items that are just about six inches wide so they would fit perfectly on a mantle. Mantle decor can be challenging, I think Z Gallerie is a great friend of an empty mantle.

I think you know by now how much I love the color orange. I fell hard for the orange wall! The orange and white together was just creamsicle delicious!

The pinks and browns together was a delicious pairing. White and chartreuse beautiful together too!

And the perfect cool, beachy robin's egg blue was gorgeous too....so relaxing looking, paired with a beautiful velvety matching sofa and love seat with beautiful nailhead trim.

I investigated the sofa options too. Still on the hunt. I think I may have blown a great opportunity to get a leather sofa set last weekend for $500 on craiglist. I would've had to turn around and sell off the love seat and I'm still wondering if I want to do leather...it's so hot and sticky...still dreaming of stone colored twill with slim, square arms, long enough for sleeping. More to come on the sofa hunt.

I did purchase a few things at Z Gallerie. I'll tell you more about them soon! For now, enjoy the deliciously designed store interiors at your nearest Z Gallerie!

24 June 2010

Bounteous Thanks

After some fantastic dinner invites, rides to the airport, long distance visits to friends and a host of other helps from loved ones, it is high time to send some thank you cards. With the thank you card drawer empty I decided to pop by Papyrus and pick up a box or two of fresh thank you inspiration. I ended up getting a variety of options and qualities for all occasions.

These lovelies, by Papyrus, were on the half-price table in a pretty box for a set of twenty. They are perfect for every day use and have a friendliness about them that I really like. Warm, cheery, just the kind of thing to brighten a day!

These beauties are made of a nice chunky card stock, by Lola for Robert & Sarah. They came in the most beautiful box, that will surely store trinkets in a drawer when the cards are used up. The photo and quote at the top of this post are from the inside of the box lid.

I also picked up these modern delights by Papyrus. I realized that I picked cards with lots of my favorite color combinations: bright greens and blues, oranges and browns and warm pinks. Interesting how we're drawn to things without really realizing why sometimes. I loved these cards, they are so fresh, stylish and say you've put some thought into your thank you sentiments.

And for the discerning man these, also by Papyrus, were also a great purchase. The front didn't photo that well because it's a foil surface, but you can get the idea. It was a bit of a challenge to find masculine thank you cards that weren't impersonal and uninteresting. So many cards have a completely feminine feel or just have a boring typed "thank you" on a cream card with a cream envelope. Blah... These are stylish and hip and completely manly.

One thing I love about "the man" is that he is great at thank you cards. He is very conscientious about sending thanks. I "coordinate" getting them done, and he is great about stopping whatever he is doing and writing something witty and sweet and expressing a heartfelt sense of gratitude. We each write a bit and sign cards we send to friends and family which I like, rather than just something from one of us, most likely me.

And here's a thank you card I had in my mail when I came home last week. So girly and cute and the sentiments totally made my day. That's the great thing about thank you cards. You can never give or get enough of them. Whether you make your own cards or pick up a pack here and there along your way or make it a yearly outing, writing thank you cards is a sweet way to remind myself of all you have to be thankful for and to make sure that everyone you love and appreciate know how you feel. They'll remember you for it too!

22 June 2010

Before and After -- Five Dollar Bench

It's time for a Before and After! Here's the first of many projects I've been working on the past few weeks. I bought this bench for FIVE dollars at Deseret Industries in downtown LA. Deseret Industries is a large two-story building. Downstairs is furniture, kitchenware, toys and some antique/collectibles.

Sometimes I find their prices a little high and sometimes I think things are a steal. I recently bought a vintage metal first aid box there which was only $3 and I thought was a total steal as well as a bookcase which I'll feature in a future before and after.

I had already done some work on the bench before I took the first photo. That was dumb. But anyway, this bench originally was all early 90s with fake vintage seed packets decoupaged across the seat. They were a trick to get off and I finally found that water was the best solution to getting them off. Then I sanded down the top to get the last remnants of glue off the wood. You can see the glue still on the top of the seat in the above photo.

Next I painted the bench with a Dutch Boy deep orange semi-gloss. I love the color, it's the perfect punch of color. Here are a few elements that came together to bring the finished bench to life.

And here is the finished bench. Total cost about $10, factoring in $5 for the bench and part of a $10 small can of paint which I had already bought for another project.

The Acela Express

Once it was time to leave lovely NYC I had to travel back to Providence, RI to catch my flight home. In all my life I never would've imaged that the tiny and distant state of Rhode Island could come to hold such a safe, sweet place in my heart. Newport/Middletown has been a magical place this summer with people I love dearly gathered there. And it is so beautiful.

Imagine a beach covered in shells the size of salad plates and sea glass gathered by the bag - larger than the size of a quarter, beautiful green grass everywhere with bunnies and red robins, stunning homes dotting the shores, sailboats parked in every bay, and great food and amazingly kind and friendly people, all at the end of an small island where it is nearly impossible to get lost. Big kisses, Rhode Island!

When I lived in Denmark we relied heavily on travel by train, bus and bicycle. Living in the west, a girl doesn't have much opportunity to ride trains other than those at amusement parks. So when I planned to travel to NYC from Rhode Island, my first thought was here's a chance to ride the train!

I had the great opportunity to hitch a ride, with a friend who had come to visit in Newport, down to NYC. The ride on narrow freeways surrounded by trees provided very little view of the surrounding territory and in slow Sunday traffic, after a couple of hours it began to feel as if we were stuck in a big green tunnel. When I took the train I was in awe of all I had missed.

I took the fastest train possible back to Providence, the ACELA, because I knew in total my travel time that day was going to be over 15 hours passing through 5 different states by the time I arrived back in California. The entire train is business class and it was very comfortable and roomy.

I enjoyed everything about the train trip including three fellow passengers. First there was hot shot software regional director or VP sitting behind me who was reviewing Q2 sales reports and Q3 forecasts with each of his sales team. Boy, could he talk the talk. I especially enjoyed the conference call with Accenture. There was obviously some discord there because the meeting had to be rescheduled due to the fact that they didn't receive his latest documents until 5:30 pm the night before.

I kept thinking that corporate spies would've been eating up his conversation, BIG TIME! If I still worked in that industry I would've been writing down every word he was unwisely sharing with us all and turned it over to our sales team as sales leads! Most of the accounts were all former clients of a company I once worked for. Seriously who talks about this stuff in public without a little concern? Hey Mr. Important-Pants, have you ever heard of corporate espionage?

Then there was the girl across the aisle from me whose music was so loud I though the train public address system had suddenly begun to play music after she sat down, which continued until I exited the train. Hey Girly, did you happen to see the sign that said, "All electronic devices should be inaudible to others"?

And then there was the guy behind her, who speaking very loudly and yet pretending to seek privacy and not disturb other travelers by leaning towards the window talked for almost two hours to his wife and father about how he forgot to tell the guys refinishing the floors to sand down an area and make repairs. Unfortunately they had already put down the first coat of stain.

He was very stressed at what this was going to cost him and cursed up a string of unattractive expletives. I had the feeling he was selling the house and the cost of his errors was going to come directly out of his pocket. His name was David by the way. Thanks David. Hey David, did you happen to see the sign that said "No cell phones or loud talking?"

The greatest part of the train ride was the constant and stunningly beautiful views!

 I would recommend a ride on the Acela Express between NYC and Boston any time. It's is well worth the money and full of amazing eye candy! --And the people watching and listening on the train is clearly good, right?!
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