Welcome Autumn

I've been loving the freshness of the weather lately. The temperature still can't decide what it wants to be, but the colors are certainly doing their thing. The blue sky and chartreuse leaves of early Fall get me every year. In fact, I am so in love with that color combo that I made all 11 of my bridesmaids wear chartreuse for our wedding eight years ago. I don't think it was very nice of me, but it took me a few years to realize it. They were the best bridesmaids ever.

Anyway, back to this Fall. I haven't done much for seasonal house decor this year aside from some mums in my front yard, but I thought I should pull together a little something for the dining table. I tried to mostly use what was already in my kitchen, but I did find the little copper planter at Goodwill for $2, and I bought some miniature white pumpkins at Trader Joe's for 69 cents apiece. I still can't get over the fact that these exist. They are definitely a yearly favorite. 

I put some paper straws and a pumpkin on my dish hutch to add some subtle autumnal goodness. I still have a soft spot for blue and chartreuse, although its a bit more muted this year...

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I'll leave you for the long weekend with a few yummy veggie recipes that are just the thing for nesting in for the chilly weather. I've tried all of these, and they are keepers. Enjoy!

Spicy Sweet Potato Chowder 

Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

Maple Glazed Pumpkin Muffins

Flourless Chocolate Cookies

 

 

Hanging things from sticks

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A little guest room update here! The walls now have paint, and two of the walls have art. Yay for progress! And the best part of it is that they were both super easy and inexpensive. I will share the branch art today, but the other one I will reserve for an unnamed date in the future. I have serious trouble with blog commitment, because I'm afraid I won't be able to follow through with a post, so it's better for me to just say that it's forthcoming. This blog isn't exactly the most important thing in my life, but I do enjoy posting, so I promise it will come up eventually.

Anyway, a few months ago, I pinned this branch with hanging paper raindrops. I thought it was really sweet and totally DIY'able—the perfect idea for the long wall in my guest room. This is an old photo, and the walls are now a lovely gray white—Behr's Irish Mist, to be exact. Thanks, Jaime ;) 

I love how easy and inexpensive it is to transform nature into art. The options are endless—as varied as the sticks in the woods and the creative people who find them.

A quick browse on Pinterest turns up endless variations of stick art, but I love how customizable the concept is. Look at some of the stick genius from around the web:

My friend Alyssa came up with this version.

Can you even imaging how lucky is this kid?

How cool are airplane terrariums on sticks??

 

Okay, so this project is pretty straightforward, but I sketched out a basic idea for inspiration. I thought I might do a mix of circles and half-circles, but I ended up just going with half-circles.

Obvious, I know, but the quality of stick will greatly affect the quality of the finished product. Not too fat, not too thin. Not too many branches, but certainly not too few. This part doubled as a nature walk with my kids—in fact, I think they probably thought they were the motivation for the excursion. Oh the wondrous tricks of motherhood. Bottom line is we all had a good time, and I found a stick.

I used an old TJ's bag and freezer paper, but any paper would work. My circle cutter came in really handy, but you can make whatever shape you want or cut your circles by hand. I just estimated, but it works best if you cut an equal number of shapes from the paper and the freezer paper. 

Next I ironed the freezer paper onto the brown paper with the string pressed between. I created random patterns as I thought it would look best, but this part is totally flexible. I hung up each strand as I completed it so I could visualize how it would hang from the stick and interact with the other strands.

Aside from being about 4 feet long, my stick was really crumbly and dirty, so I initially mounted it onto my fence with wire and a couple nails. Then I hung the strings to my liking. The wind made this part super annoying, but it was better than getting bark all over the floor. I started by wrapping the strings around the stick but didn't like the effect, so I ended up hot gluing the strings to thumbtacks and pushing them into the back/bottom of the stick. Then I ran out of thumbtacks and used a staple gun. It worked perfectly.

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I bought some gold wire for $2.50 from Wal-Mart (my only expense for this project) and wrapped it around the ends of the stick to make a hanger. Then I just added an anchor and screw at the appropriate height on my wall and hung it up. Bam.

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I love how the circles float and twist in the air, disappearing and reappearing against the wall. It's the perfect combo of organic, modern, and cheap. Thank you, dead tree, for making my week.

  

 

 

 

I need favorites!

I found out this morning that my bedroom made it into Apartment Therapy's 2014 Room for Color contest! Wohoo! If you feel like stopping by, check out my entry

The entries with the most favorites by October 3rd will move on to the finals, with a chance to win a gift card to fab.com and some free paint, so I'd love all the help I can get. By the way, you can favorite as many entries as you want at this point—exclusive voting doesn't start until the next round. 

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Random Tuesday

Remember me saying that I had all kinds of extra time this semester for interior design stuff? Well, never mind that. Turns out homeschooling and stuff is keeping me pretty occupied, so it might take me awhile to post guest room and other updates on this little blog. 

I just got back from the orchard with a bushel and a half of apples, and I'm determined to can my own applesauce. I said I'd do it last year but didn't get around to it, so I'm hoping to try it in the next few weeks. If I do, I'll definitely be referring to this step-by-step guide.

In the meantime, here's a random assortment of things I've run across this week.

Wanna know how to successfully hang your art? Bam.

Wanna introduce your kids to modern architecture? Here ya go.

Wanna make cute boxes for your s'mores? Check these out.

Wanna see a gorgeous copper kettle? This is it.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

 

Progress & Feature

I don't have time to write a big long post today, but I did want to share a sneak peak of the guest room progress. This is the only semi-finished corner of the room at this point, but I have a lot of fun plans in store, including a faux-wood paneled wall, some rustic wall hangings, and a free printable. Stay tuned!

Also super fun, Jen over at iHeart Organizing featured my recent closet makeover on her blog yesterday! Check it out here.

I'm sobered today as I remember what happened 13 years ago. Reminds me that life is short and every day is a gift. Go hug someone you love :) 

Back to School

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I'm happy to report that our first week of school went really well. While most kids headed off on the bus, my kid just headed down the stairs. Yep, we decided to school our oldest at home this year. After lots of prayer and consideration, we decided to try it and see if it fits well with our family. I wasn't so sure if I was up for the challenge, but I can honestly say that I had no idea it could be this un-stressful. I ordered my curriculum here and registered with our county a few weeks ago, which was a surprisingly simple process. 

I keep thinking I must be missing something, because it seems so straightforward and normal.  Sure, it's only the first week, it's just Kindergarten, and I'm positive we'll have our battles, but I'm pretty sure it's gonna be a good fit this year. She likes her work, her brother hasn't been too distracting, and we finish before 11 AM. Of course, it's fun to make learning a part of the rest of the day, too (ballet, playdates, grocery store vocabulary, pet store science, sidewalk biology, etc..) but that doesn't require a curriculum. 

All that to say that I unexpectedly found myself with some time this week. One thing that was an important factor in our decision to homeschool was that I not lose my ability to pursue creativity. I know I am a happier mommy and human being when I am able to create things, sew dresses, paint pictures, and style rooms, etc... and I was a bit afraid that homeschooling would take that away from me.  The fact is, I know there will be seasons when I won't be able to devote as much time to my creative whims, but I'm grateful that I have some flexibility this year.

So what, you may ask, did I do with my extra time this week? Well, you may remember that Peter's sister lived with us for close to three years until her wedding in May. When she moved out, I thought it would be nice to turn her room into a guest/overflow space. We have already been using it for the kid's naps, but I've always wanted to have a quiet, peaceful room that is available for anyone to come and stay for the night or longer.

So, I started getting the room ready this week. I'll post as I make progress, but here's where I started...  

 

There was lots of blue going on. My sister-in-law had it decorated really nicely (you should see her new apartment—I'm totally house crashing her soon if she'll let me), so the color made perfect sense when she was there, but once she removed all her cute Etsy prints and colorful Anthropologie bedspread, the walls started yelling at me. 

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I'll be back soon with more on my plans for the space, but for now I just want to say that I'm trying to spend as little money as possible on it while giving it a minimal, peaceful vibe with lots of white, wood and live plants.

You may notice the little dresser there. As best as I can tell, it's a mid-century modern piece designed by Russell Wright for Conant-Ball, and it's my fave. I found it on Craigslist less than 20 minutes after its post went up, and I got it for $50. I love it when clueless single guys move across the country and sell their furniture. Similar dressers of the same brand can go for upwards of $1200. I'm pretty sure I have the dresser vibe. Seriously, dressers just come to me. They stalk me on Craigslist and thrift stores and tell me I have to take them home. And more often than not, I listen to them.

Enough words for now. I'll be back with more later. Have a wonderful weekend!

Closet Cleanse, Part 2

I'm back with some details on my closet makeover. This is kind of a nerdy post, but I'm hoping it will be at least a little helpful for those who are ready to tackle a similar project. I've always walked past the closet and organization aisles at Home Depot and Lowes with an overwhelmed sense of not knowing where to begin. I kind of get paralyzed by potential, if that makes any sense. 

But when I saw that Lowes carried white melamine shelves in the exact depth I needed for my closets, the way forward started to make sense. I bought my shelf tracks and brackets from Home Depot and my shelves from Lowes. Each bracket was less than $5, and the tracks were about $10/each. I had to get a few shelves cut to custom sizes, but the guys at Lowes were happy to do it for me. I highly recommend these screw-in drywall anchors for attaching the tracks to the back of the closet.

It took me awhile to get around to gutting my pantry and closet—not exactly the most convenient job. As you can see, I had to remove the shelf, coat bar and wooden supports. I still have no idea why they put a coat bar in that closet... It's not like we don't have a coat closet down the hall. People did some strange things in the 80's. Maybe they liked coats.

Thankfully, the shelves and supports were not glued, so the damage to the drywall was really minimal. It just took a little elbow grease to pull out the old nails.

Next up was spackling, priming and painting. The white paint was not at all glossy, so I just primed over the spackling instead of doing the whole closet. I used some old primer from my living room, so that's what the light gray is. Being the impatient person that I am, I dove right into the painting. It felt so amazing to put such a dark color on the wall—Martha Stewart Seal matched to Benjamin Moore's Advance paint. It was leftover from my cabinets, though, so I didn't have to buy it this time around... The coverage was great and two coats did the trick. 

Once that was done, I hung the bracket tracks. I used three along the back wall to make sure my shelves would be well supported. You'll need a level and, ideally, another person to help with this part. It's important to make sure all the tracks line up perfectly, or else the shelves will be wonky. You'll notice I hung the two outside brackets first, which seemed to make the most sense for keeping things level.

It also worked well to initially hang each track with only one anchor and screw, just to confirm the positioning and to hold things in place for easy marking for the rest of the holes. After marking, it's easy to just rotate the track to put the rest of the drywall anchors in.  I was doing it alone, so it probably took me longer than if I had someone helping me, but even so, I don't think it took more than an hour to install all three tracks.

You'll notice in the picture that the track on the left is shorter than the others, to accommodate the Ikea cart, but I ended up replacing it with a long one, because I accidentally installed it too high.

After that, it was just a matter of attaching the brackets and placing the shelves. The amazing thing about this kind of system is that it's fully adjustable and the shelves can be as close together or as far apart as you want.

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Moving on to the pantry next-door...

It seemed silly to rip out the existing shelf supports, so I decided to just remove the sagging shelves and add a middle bracket to support the new ones. I also wanted to create a nook for the garbage, so on the bottom shelf, I removed half of the supporting trim. 

In order to install the middle brackets on each shelf, I had to screw in a small piece of wood underneath the trim. These weren't located on studs, so I used my drywall anchors. I just drilled straight through the small piece of wood to make a hole in the drywall and mark for the anchors. That way I made sure the screws would fit exactly where they should.

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 Next came the spackle and paint...

And finally, I put the shelves on the supports and attached the center brackets. I also screwed the shelves onto the old supports for added security.

And that's pretty much it... You'll noticed from the pics that I installed a smaller shelf on the bottom to accommodate the trash can. Having my trash can out of the kitchen walk-space makes me so very happy. As of right now, I am living with the doors off, but my longterm goal is to replace the current bi-folds with swinging double doors, so I can easily open just one door at a time and install handles to match my cabinet doors.

Thanks for putting up with such a long post... Hopefully its helpful in de-mystifying those confusing shelving aisles. Or maybe I am the only one who was mystified. Probably that.

Have a wonderful Thursday!

 

 

 

 

Closet Cleanse

It's been a really busy summer and, in case you haven't noticed, blogging has been forced to the back burner. I've missed it, though, so I hope I can get back to regular posting once the summer wraps up.

Aside from the usual drama that accompanies life with young children, I've had a lot of projects going on. I built a headboard as a wedding gift for my sister-in-law who lived with us almost three years before getting married in May. That will eventually have a post of its own, I hope, because I learned a lot since building my last headboard here.

I've also been working with my friend Alyssa at The Sieb Fam to update the decor for our church's children's ministry. You know, swapping out the 90's Noah's Ark wallpaper and cloud murals for a more neutral palette with bold geometric banners, world maps, etc.. It's a huge space that includes a large lobby and ten classrooms, so it's been pretty time consuming. But its wonderful to be able to give back to my church, and hopefully make a difference for the kids that spend time in those rooms.

On top of that, as you can see from the opening shot, I've finally tackled my kitchen closet problems that I mentioned a few months ago. We're planning to homeschool E for kindergarten this year, and I really needed a more efficient and useable storage space than this:

With crap.

With crap.

Without crap.

Without crap.

This closet is like the liver of my home—a hidden and unsightly vital organ that filters our household toxins. Let's just say that it was in dire need of a cleanse. My drill, toolbox, sewing kits, preschool supplies, chalk, bubbles, spray paint, brooms, mailing supplies and craft tools were all haphazardly crammed together. I got tired of thread spools falling on my head when trying to grab my hammer...

My kitchen pantry (to the left of the storage closet) wasn't too much better with its 30-year-old white paint and sagging particle board shelves. Normally I keep my trashcan against a wall in my kitchen, but I hated having it out in the open, so a big part of the pantry remix was to create a trashcan nook inside the pantry... 

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So, finally, after months of bemoaning their collective sorry states, I finally gave showed my closets some love. And now, I am in love. Check it out:

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And here are some side-by-side before and afters of both closets. It's amazing what a little space planing can do. Everything was just thrown in before, and now it all has a place, and you would not believe how much stuff actually fits. It forced me to get rid of the stuff I don't need anymore and to relocate other stuff to more appropriate spots around the house. I'm not quite finished moving everything in, and I did move my less sightly purple sewing kits out of the closet for the pictures. Ha.

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STORAGE CLOSET BEFORE

STORAGE CLOSET AFTER

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PANTRY BEFORE

PANTRY BEFORE

PANTRY AFTER

PANTRY AFTER

Believe it or not, it was actually a pretty simple project. I did one closet at a time so we didn't have to live without both pantry and storage closet at the same time. Next week, I'll share more about the process for installing the new shelves and a basic source list. 

Happy Tuesday!

 

 

 

 

Winner

Quick post for today with the bracelet giveaway results. Congratulations to Calli W! Thanks to everyone else whe entered. Have a happy Wednesday!