Archive for 2012

Cranky Pants

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I'm telling you right now that this post is going to have too much information. Like that it's that time of month. And it is making me Crabby with a capitol C. For one thing, I'm too old for this crap. And for another, everything smells bad to me. No, I don't know why. And I wish I hadn't said "crap," but I really can't think of a nicer more lady like word for it.

You should just leave, it's only going to get worse.

Earlier this week Marc won the mulch lottery when he spotted a tree trimming company working in one of our neighbors yards. They had chipped the wood and had a whole truck full of mulch that he sweet talked them into dropping off by our trampoline.

Marc's winning score!
Then it rained most of the week.

Then this morning it was still raining but Marc insisted that he and Jonathan move mulch down into what can only very loosely be termed "garden beds" by our driveway. 

And it's just annoying me. Because the mulch is not nice like mulch you buy, it has tons of evergreen needles in it. And also, I think Riley pooped in those beds because as Marc was raking mulch around it Seriously (with a capitol s) smelled like pooh. Which, gross.

But Marc just kept shoveling up wheel barrels full of faux mulch and then raking it around in the the rain...with the pooh smell. And I KNOW it's ridiculous for me to be upset about this, but I am anyway. 

Frankly, I feel irritated by just about everything right now. 

Wallpapered Stair Risers

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Post edit...if you are here looking for a how to on wallpapering stair risers, I finally did mine and you can read how here! It turned out be-you-ti-full :-)

For my next trick, I mean project, I'm hoping to really update our entryway. I've been messing with it forever, but now that we've bought the Ranch I'm willing to put in some real elbow grease (money, as always, is questionable).

The space is pretty small, but since it's the first thing you see when you come into our home I'm hoping to give it a little more pizzazz.   

Here's how the stairs look now.

One of the things I'd love to try is painting the risers, or maybe using wallpaper on them.
I started out looking at chevron patterns, like this:
And then I saw this:
It turns out this is actually wallpaper. Beautiful, no? I plan to paint the walls a moody grey which makes me like this picture, also done with wallpaper:
But I want walls that are a darker grey, and a pattern that is a softer yellow. What do you think of these two wallpapers that I found on the Home Depot website?

I kind of love them both, but the floral costs $45 a roll and the geometric print is $86 so there's that. I think the geometric is more on trend with decorating right now, but the floral might fit in well with our this old house vibe?

Anyone done any wallpaper projects, by the way? Paint and me are best friends, but the only thing I've done with wallpaper is take it down. I actually have no idea how hard this plan might be.

Not Too Old for Children's Books

Monday, November 12, 2012

On Thursday my book group is meeting and I'm super excited because we are discussing children's books. Instead of reading one book though, we each get to share a passage from a favorite children's book and then our fearless leader, Miriam, will put together a list of all of them for us to add to our reading list.

Good Grief, how to pick just one?!

I've written before about my love of the not-for-adults and here. I think that my parents raised me first and books raised me a close second. I wanted to be brave and good like Sarah Crewe, and I desperately wanted to be worthy to visit Narnia. And the magic that saved Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden, man alive, I believe in that kind of magic!

The Secret Garden
So tell me, what are some of your favorites? The children's classics? Fantasy? Newer titles like The Hunger Games? ALL OF THE ABOVE!

This is the time to leave a comment people! It can be your good deed for the day. Share your wealth of experience so we can all get cracking on your recommendation. 

Mmmmm-mmmm, I love recommendations.

Chalk Board Art Goodness

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I've been wanting to write a quote on my chalkboard door, something better than dinner menus, for awhile.

When I heard President Uchtdorf's talk from the LDS General Conference he said something that really grooved with me and I knew it was going up on the chalkboard. Here is the link if you'd like to read the whole talk.

But first, I had to figure out how I was going to write it so that it looked like something akin to chalk art and not my usual I'm-a-lefty-chicken-scratch. I started thinking about the scrapbooks I used to make back in the day; I was serious about my graphic lettering back then!

So I got them out to review and took some photos so you could see just HOW serious:

I know! How did I have time for that kind of family recording? Poor Ellie, she has no scrapbook goodness, all her photo memories are digital. Let's stick in a picture of her to make up for it.

Poor, cute, underrepresented fourth child.

Where was I? Oh yah, cool lettering. So I decided to put my old scrapping skills to work and here is what I came up with.
It says, "One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes." Here is a close up.
Even after a bunch of erasing I'm still not entirely happy with the way this turned out, but it still makes me smile every time I walk by.

A few tips from my experience? Sure. First, draw a border; it frames things nicely. Second, dip your chalk in water as you're working, it dries a brighter white than if you didn't. And third, you can center each line by counting how many letters and spaces there are in the line and then dividing by two and putting the letter in the middle, well, in the middle.

For example, the line "is invisible to" has 13 letters and 2 spaces for a total of 15. So the 7th or 8th letter will be roughly the center of the line. Begin by writing the "s" in the middle of your line, and then work out from both side. Did that make sense? I'm not sure I'm explaining clearly but I'm going to assume you are a smart person who is good at understanding.

And I know you are :0) 

Jonathan Goes Gangnam

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Jonathan turned 14 at the end of last month. Le sigh. My sweet angel boy has gone from this

Christmas 2003
To this
He is still a sweetheart, but he's taller than me and that really bugs.

So...VIDEO! Perhaps only family will enjoy this, but here are Jonathan and his buddies dancing gangnam style at his birthday party (cheetos, mountain dew, halo, tag outside in the dark).
Happy Birthday son. I sure love you! 

p.s. a boy teenage birthday sure is different from a girl teenage birthday part.

Creating a Gallery Wall

Monday, November 5, 2012

You've been wondering about my family room right? Remember when I carefully diagrammed my plans here? And how I fixed my bookshelves here?

Well, here's the gallery wall finally finished. 

I had planned to put it between the two windows, but later I realized that one of my favorite features in a gallery wall is when the pictures go from the ceiling all the way to the floor, and that the couch was in the way of that between the windows.

I had six new white frames that I bought at Ikea a few month ago, and then I painted six more frames that have been around for years. I used the leftover ASCP from the piano paint project. Then I added in some pale pink frames that I've had since Maddie and Katie were little girls.
Instead of following any of the effort intense tutorials from the internet for hanging a gallery wall I just played with my frames on the floor under the wall where I wanted to hang them. When they looked how I liked I pulled in my step stool and started nailing. 

There actually are some benefits to being so far from a perfectionist. 
 Ewwww, you can see my kitchen floor there. See why I'm so desperate to pull it up? Anyhow, this was just my first configuration. I did loosely measure (with a piece of string) how high my wall is and then marked it on my floor with a sock.

After all my frames were hung I started looking for things to put in them. I used several black and white drawings from The Graphics Fairy. In fact, I used so many of her images that I think a happy linky button is in order:
The Graphics Fairy
Hers is a truly lovely blog.

Here is a close up of the a beehive graphic that I chose because we recently set up two beehives up on our hill.
I also pilfered a few photos from a book I have on Degas. Pretty ballerinas.

It took me a couple of days to fill all the frames (actually one is still empty) and I imagine I'll change things out fairly often. My last step was to use earthquake putty to secure the backs of the frames to the wall so they would stay straight. I figured straightening 21 cattywampus frames each day might put me over the edge.

So here is the room from a little further back.
 Remember the before?
And speaking of progress here is the evolution of Marc's Oakland Temple painting:
That was a few weeks ago. Here it is now:
And it still isn't done! Marc is such a Renaissance man. 

Okay, so back to me...the final things I hoped to do in the family room are 1. make curtains 2. make throw pillow covers and 3. make a slipcover for the ottoman. Since Christmas is two months away I think my funding for fabric will be diverted to holiday revelry, but I'm still super happy with what I've accomplished!

I'd love to see links to your room makeovers in the comments.

My Hair is a Bird's Nest Halloween Costume

Monday, October 29, 2012

A few weeks ago I saw a picture in Martha Stewart's Halloween magazine of a woman with a nest in her hair. I was in line at the grocery store so I only had a minute to look at it, but as soon as I saw it I said to myself, "Self, that is me!"

Who hasn't had hair "like a bird's nest?" I wake up that way every morning.

If you want an elegant up-do like mine, here's how I did it.

1. Blow dry your hair with WAY more product in it than you would normally use.

2. Add a bunch of hair spray for good measure then get those locks up in some hot curlers. If you already have curly hair skip that part.

3. While your hair is in curlers gather up the stuff you want to stick in it plus bobby pins and a glue gun. I used:

tons of Spanish moss

a crow from my Halloween box

a little plastic skull


bits of bush with berries on it that I snipped out of my backyard

a small shell

4. Whip out those curlers but don't brush your hair. More hairspray! More!

5. Pull up the hair at the crown of your head and make a messy bun. This is what you will anchor all your moss into.

6. Take a big wad of moss and plop it on top of the bun. It needs to be thick because you're going to glue things in it and you don't want glue going through it and sticking to your hair.

7. Use lots of bobby pins to pull the moss around into the shape of a skull cap and stick them into your bun. I had some green moss that I pinned onto the front too.

8. Next I got my cheap plastic crow and hot glued him right up top there. I did it myself and since the moss was nice and thick I didn't have any problems with glue in my hair when it was time to take it out. I did have lots of little bits of moss to brush out though.

9. Now glue in whatever else you think will look creepy beautiful up there.

10. Step ten is to stick twigs, berries, and whatever other backyard grandaflora you like into your mess, I mean nest. Secure with more bobby pins.

11. The last step was to use a curling iron to curl up the other bits of my hair that were sticking out and then to pull in pin little pieces of hair up and around the nest so it looked like it was more part of my hair.

This was a seriously fun costume to make! It only took maybe 30 minutes. I think it would be really cute on a kid who wanted to be a tree, just add brown pants and a green shirt.

Happy Halloween!

Love is Eww

Thursday, October 25, 2012

So the other day my oldest daughter, 19 year old Maddie, called me from college and told me that she is in love with her boyfriend, which information caused me to gasp, "eww," and get a little sick taste in my mouth.

"Did you just say 'eww'?" she demanded.

"No," I said. When in doubt deny.

"Yes you did!" she insisted.

"Don't hate me," I wined and then put on my big girl pants and told her how much I love her and how happy I am for her and how wonderful those feelings are.

When we got off the phone I banged my head on the wall sideways. Twice. Just to clear all the panic and try to reinforce how happy I am for her and how wonderful those feelings are.

Because really they are. And Maddie is such a smart, independent, insightful cookie. I'm sure she will be fine. 

That's her in the middle.
But having your kids grow up...sheesh is all I have to say about it.

How I Styled My Bookshelves

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Figuring out how to style my bookshelves hasn't been easy friends, but after much internet perusal I think I've done it and I'm ready to share my tips with you! The problem really is that I adore books (you and me both, right?), so I have a lot of them, and I crazily think that I should store them in my bookshelves.  

But then I look at pictures of bookshelves on blogs and in magazines and they look like this:
It's lovely, yes, but it has almost no books! 

So I've been working to find a happy medium in between storing my books and making the bookshelves look prettier. 

My first step was accepting that there was no way I was going to make a lot of my beloved paper backs look good. I think you can if you have a large room with lots of shelves, like this:

But if you're working in a small space with just one or two bookcases you need to leave some space on the shelves for your eyes to rest on.

So I decided to shove all my superfluous yet strangely essential paper backs under this side table; they're hard to get at, but better than in a box in my garage. I kind of like the way it looks too.
Next I focused on collecting a few pretty items from around the house to go on the shelves. Keeping to a limited color scheme helps things look cohesive. I went with blue, white, and cream.

Books look great too, it just helps if you group them by size and color, and also use the tried and true method of lining some up horizontally and stacking others vertically.

As you're placing items on the shelves keep stepping back to check for balance. I squint up my eyes so everything goes a little blurry and try to notice if there is a balanced pattern of full and empty space. I'm sure I don't look weird doing that. I use the same technique when I'm decorating our Christmas tree, really, it works.

Here the shelves from some other angles.
 Natural items like shells, nests, or fossils add another layer of interest and texture.

I like the look of something shiny, well, everywhere, so I added the frames and mercury glass container and placed them diagonally from each other. 

Consider using a pretty dish or two also.
So there you have it. It is sure better than where I started!

How I Get Brave and Paint My Furniture

Monday, October 22, 2012

I finished up the bookshelves on Friday and made Marc sit in the room with me and pretend to care while I fussed around with styling them on Saturday. 

Here they are before I painted them.

And here they are after.
I decided to go with white and blue instead of silver. I'm back to wanting to use the silver on the dining room table. Anyway...

These bookshelves are solid cherry from Marc's old office and they did have a nice poly finish on them. The guy in the paint store would tell you, like he told me, that you have to sand and prime before you can paint something like these. But I thought to myself, "Ima risk it," and just went ahead and painted without any of that boring prep stuff.

I rolled on the Clark and Kensington paint from Ace hardware in semi-gloss latex interior enamel in "designer white." It took three coats, but since it drys pretty quickly I was able to do it in one day.
The roller I used was one of the little ones. Incidentally, sometimes when you open a new roller it can be a little sticky-like the roller part doesn't want to spin around easily...just pull it off and spray a tiny bit of WD-40 on the handle to take care of that.
While the third coat was drying I painted the shelves. Here you can see the difference between one and two coats of paint.
After the cases felt really dry I went ahead and taped off the back part that I wanted to paint blue. Sometimes I think I'm really good at cutting in, but the shelves were looking so nice and smooth I decided to make like a professional and use my blue painters tape.
Then I just rolled on the blue. It took three coats also to get really opaque coverage.

Since I used an enamel paint I didn't need to add a varnish or polyurethane to protect the finish and give it shine, it already had it. Bonus!

 I'm really happy with how they came out. I'll show you how I styled them tomorrow. 

If you're interested in more details about how I paint, last week I taught a class on painting furniture for the women's group from my church. Here is the handout that I shared. It explains the fast and easy way I paint. Be warned; I am not a perfectionist-but I do get stuff painted!

(Meaning I just make all this up as I go and am usually pleased with the results)

1. Do I need to sand? If you’re piece is in good condition you might just prime it. But if it has varnish or could benefit from a cleaning you can sand. You don’t need to sand down to the bare wood, just rough up the surface with a medium grit sand paper. It should only take a few minutes.  A small electric sander can be great for this.

2. Wipe off the dust with a tack cloth. If you aren’t sanding, clean the piece with a damp cloth and mild cleaner. Paint does not like to stick to dirt.

3. Do I need to prime? My answer is maybe.  If you want a super smooth finish you should prime.  If you are lazy or don’t mind a more distressed finish you might not.  It’s all good.

4. I rarely bother, but you can use wood filler to fix scratches and holes in wood furniture. It is sandable and paintable.

5. Use a good quality paint brush. I like a 2” angled Purdy brush. If you wash it well with a wire brush it will last a long time. Sometimes I use a small roller to put the paint on a large flat surface like a table top and then brush over it.

6. The fun part…PAINT.  I’ve had success using left over latex wall paint, latex enamel paint, oil based paint, and Annie Sloan Chalk paint.
            Latex wall paint-benefits are you might just have it laying around in a color you like and it cleans easily with water. This is good when you are feeling pretty casual about how it’s going to turn out- like “anything will be better than how it is.”
Latex enamel paint-benefits are that it is shiny and smooth (I like semi-gloss), easy to clean with water, harder and more durable, and comes in any color you want.
Oil based paint-benefits are a really smooth finish, the most durable, brush marks disappear. Draw backs are that it comes in limited colors, it smells bad, takes longer to dry/cure, and you have to use mineral spirits to clean it up.
Chalk paint-benefits are that you really don’t need to sand or prime (perfect if you can’t move the piece outside), it has almost no odor,  it dries very quickly and cleans up with water. Draw backs are that it is expensive ($40 a quart) and that you can only buy it in a few places.

7.  Varnish can be good after your latex paint is totally dry to protect it from scratches. Be sure to get latex polyurethane or polycrylic.   Do this outside or in a really well ventilated area because it is super smelly, like head ache giving smelly. If you are pregnant, make your husband do this part. Spray varnish or rub on varnish are both easier to use than brush on.

8. Enjoy your newly painted furniture and feel very proud of yourself! Don’t point your mistakes out to people!

*Do you have questions? Go ahead and email me, Shelley, at 


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