4.01.2014

Guess what. {Sort of really big news that rhymes with “sweater gnomes and lard pins”.}

Is it just me, or whenever you see someone say “I have big news!” do you automatically assume it means they are pregnant? You know, unless they are male. Or 97. Or male AND 97.

But seriously…I have big news. And I’m not pregnant. (Or male, incidentally.) Guess what it is?

You’ll never guess. So I’ll give you a hint.

It rhymes with sweater gnomes and lard pins.

It rhymes with sweater gnomes and lard pins coming to my house to take pictures of Kenley’s raindrops wall for the “I Did It” page of the July issue.

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You’re probably thinking this is an April Fool’s joke. It’s not an April Fool’s joke. Whoopee cushions and fake spiders are more my jam. (Nope, not true.)

Anyway, my first reaction to the email from the BH&G editor: this is some kind of ridiculous joke. I fully expected masked crusaders to jump out of the walls and announce that I’d been punk’d. When no such crusaders appeared, I began cleaning. Furiously. Just in case BH&G planned to show up in a few minutes or something. As it turns out, they’re coming in just a couple of weeks. I’m going to begin doing my hair now to make sure it doesn’t look like a dead animal. Good idea? And Kenley is already practicing her best magazine model faces.

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And I’m practicing my best faces, too.

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I’ll be sure to share all the silly details, like when they show up and are all like, “Oops, we made a mistake and meant to go to someone else’s house; sorry.” Because seriously. My house has no business being in a magazine. Unless that magazine is actually called Sweater Gnomes and Lard Pins. (Riveting stuff, right there.)

Until then:

Eeeeeeeek!

 

P.S. I realize I excel at the art of blog abandonment. I hope to get back into a blogging routine—again—shortly. I’ve been a little distracted by a separate business venture. That sounds shady….but I assure you it’s not shady. I’ll share more soon!

3.04.2014

Adorable Custom Paper Dolls {Stash-Busting Giveaway}

My childhood was spent doing primarily three things:

  1. Reading.
  2. Playing with dolls.
  3. Reading while playing with dolls.

Yes, I was the girl who lovingly maintained every strand of hair, carefully folded each pint-sized outfit. I was the girl who spent her afternoons inventing and reinventing storylines and adventures. I was the girl who had to take away all dolls when her little sister came along because she made their hair look like a rat’s nest, causing me to just about keel over and die on the spot. Barbies, porcelain dolls, American Girl dolls, paper dolls…all near and dear to my heart. Proof:

american girl doll

I grew up to be the girl who owns the Everyday Paper Dolls and Paper Doll Dress-Up Cricut cartridges. The problem is, they’re collecting dust. However, I have enough scrapbook paper and cardstock to feed a small country, if said small country was prone to nourishing itself with paper products. So what’s a girl to do? Ooh I know! Offer to make other people some custom paper dolls.

Paper doll giveaway!

Side note: Are paper dolls even a thing anymore? Erm, I don’t know? I fully expect like one person to enter this giveaway. Good thing that’s all I need. :)

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I recently made this set for the daughter of one of my longtime friends and had so much fun mixing and matching different pieces and creating little accessories. (Yes, this is what I do on Saturday nights. I’m just that cool.) The two dolls are designed to be her and her not-yet-born little-sister. Do you like how I’ve decided what the baby will grow up to look like?

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Specifics:

  • To enter, use the Rafflecoptor widget below. (ps-the word “widget” is weird. Sounds like wedgie, only widget. Phew, I had to get that off my chest.)
  • One person will win two 5” cardstock paper dolls customized (hair style and color, skin tone, hobbies, favorite colors, etc.) to the two people of their choice. For example, you could choose to have dolls made that looks like your daughter and her friend, or your daughter and your other daughter, or your daughter and Joe Biden, etc. I can also make them without tabs if you wanted to frame them instead, like if you wanted them made to look like you and your husband, or you and a friend/sibling/parent/distant relative/complete stranger/creeper etc. (You can view all of the options for hairstyles and outfits here and here.) The dolls will each come with three outfits of your choice.
  • You’ll have to give me your address so I can mail the finished products to you. I promise I’m not a weirdo who will show up at your house and lurk outside your door in a Buick station wagon with tinted windows. (This is partly because I don’t think Buick station wagons can have tinted windows. It’s like a violation of some unwritten Cool code.)
  • This giveaway is open to US residents only.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Even if you don’t enter the giveaway…what are your childhood doll memories? Were you the one who lovingly dressed them each day, or did you cut their hair and color all over them with markers? If you cut off your dolls’ hair, we can still be friends, but I have to go use my inhaler first because I hyperventilate just thinking about it.

2.28.2014

11 Unrelated and Basically Useless Things I Learned This Week

1. I learned that Ashley is to blame for the winter we’ve been having. Turns out when she decorates her mantel, nature reacts accordingly. She decorated it with lots of snowflakes; we had lots of snow. I propose that she now install one of these on her mantel:

oven

…and also that she avoid decorating with, say, a bunch of squirrels. The last thing this world needs is more squirrels.

2. I learned that this chocolate mug cake is a fabulous way to lose your willpower to eat less like a slovenly pig and more like a girl who needs to fit into her pre-pregnancy pants unless she wants to endure the nightmare that is pants-shopping. It will enchant you with its two-minute start-to-finish siren song, despite all attempts to steer your boat past it, and then continue to lure you in by making you think how great it would be topped off with chocolate peanut butter ice cream.

chocolate-mug-cake-tablefortwoblog-5Please pin from the original source

Before you know it, you will be in a chocolate coma and/or living Homer’s Odyssey and/or both. (We can all probably agree that the epic as a whole would have been significantly improved had chocolate peanut butter ice cream been at the ready. Homer, my man,—may I call you my man?— sometimes you just have to accept the fact that literary greatness only gets you so far.)

3. I learned that bouncing on an exercise ball while blogging is a good way to A) feel better about yourself after you eat a whole bunch of cake and ice cream, B) make your legs feel as though they are comprised of gelatinous sponges that have been run over by a dump truck, and C) feel better about your decision not to instead attempt this with your exercise ball:

exercise ballsource-ish

4. I learned that no matter how perfectly and snugly you put socks on a baby, said baby will devise a way to get them off again in no more than 18 seconds, and there is a distinct possibility that this time, at least one of the socks will be lost forever.

monkey socks

5. I learned that you can compensate for a baby’s lack of socks by placing a giant bow on her head. You know, for warmth.

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6. I learned that peach floral wallpaper has been lurking beneath the wainscoting in our kitchen and that if I could travel back in time I would beg the previous owners not to slather the walls in river rock textured paint.

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7. I learned that when your baby gets up at 6:30 AM on church day, you have no excuse to not actually blow-dry and straighten your hair for the first time in like a year. (I’m not exaggerating. I know, I make it a rule to Not Be Taken Seriously. But for real. Take me seriously this time.) You can lessen the gravity of this monumental event by making weird faces while your husband tries to capture it on film.

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…and also by making faces that suggest you are about to eat your child.

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8. I learned how to make my own social media icons using the tutorial I mentioned here. It was painless except for the fact that I basically have a better chance of recreating that ball maneuver from #3 than understanding html code. (But see the buttons up there? They work. Miraculously. Feel free to follow along if you don’t already!)

social media

9. I learned that my baby is cute.

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10. I learned that I already knew my baby was cute, and that I just wanted an excuse to include more pictures of her in my post.

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11. I learned that when I write about chocolate peanut butter ice cream, I am basically required to also eat some so that I can accurately capture the full essence of what I’m describing. And then I end up freezing and pining for that oven, and then I get too hot and need to eat more ice cream, and it’s like “When You Give a Moose a Muffin” only less of a page-turner and higher in calories.

Hope you have a great weekend! :)

ps-I just added some more ads to my site and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let me know if anything annoying pops up like a video ad.

2.25.2014

Easy DIY Inkblot Pillow {Plus Free Psych Eval}

Have you ever wondered if you demonstrate any traits typically aligned with a hamster running in its wheel, are the social equivalent of a spatula, or have an underlying attraction to canned beans?*

*No? What ARE you, sane?

Well, wonder no more. Behold: the inkblot pillow with which I will analyze your psyche.

DIY Rorschach Inkblot Pillow

The process of making said inkblot pillow/legit psyche analysis tool was simple: I dripped some stashed navy Olympic paint on one half of a stashed square piece of white fabric…

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…then folded it over and pressed down gently, making sure all drips got flattened up against the other half.

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Then I unfolded it and let it dry before sewing it to the rest of the pillow. Done and done. I am a girl after Rorschach’s own heart. (Do me a favor and pretend that makes sense.)

DIY Rorschach Inkblot Pillow

Now that you’ve gotten that mind-boggling tutorial, it’s time for that mind-boggling psychiatric eval. So picture us lounging in a comfortable room, filled with calming, sophisticated decor, me with pen in hand, patiently awaiting your brain dump. It looks something like this:

rorschach

And I will say, “Tell me what you see. Tell me what you see. You are getting sleepy.” (Wait, what? No.)

DIY Inkblot Pillow

Tell me that you see Bob Marley. Because I totally see Bob Marley. Upper corners. Yes? No? …?

Rick says it looks like a brain and that he doesn’t want a brain on display in his house. My professional evaluation of this is that his repugnancy has nothing to do with brains at all, but, rather, inextricably linked to the fact that he is a man. And like most men, he has a subconscious fear that pillows can bench-press more than him and defeat him in a chicken wing-eating contest, and also that pillows are capable of sneaking into his bedroom and chopping off his…arm. Yep, we’ll go with arm. And yes, I know what you’re thinking: finally, a logical explanation for why my husband hates my decorative pillows. You’re welcome.

Make your own inkblot pillow!

I asked Kenley what she saw and she said “coogurgeeeehhhhlaa.” Which obviously means “I see an arachnid weaving a vast web of beauty and grace.” Thoughtful, succinct, poetic. She obviously has a brilliant mother. ;)

What do YOU see in the inkblot?  Do you agree with my explanation of why men hate pillows?

P.S. Want to see more pillows? I promise they don’t come with psych evals.

pillowssmile pillow, lace overlay pillow, gift bow pillow

 

Linking up to Rock What Ya Got!

2.18.2014

White Vans, Orange Shag, and Gazelle {or, Q&A about our wall-to-wall carpeting}

Let’s face it: installing wall-to-wall carpet is about as popular in the world of interior design as tweezing your nose hairs out at the dinner table would be, well, anywhere. (I hope? Don’t admit it if your dinner table is prone to such antics.)

But around here we love nose hairs being different. Okay, we actually just love comfortable and warm padding underfoot and not having to refinish the jank-fest floors in our upstairs in order to have the significantly more popular hardwoods with area rugs. We have all that downstairs and it is lovely. But it wasn’t feasible for our upstairs. Cue the obvious question, which I asked when we first uttered the words “wall-to-wall”: is it possible for wall-to-wall carpeting to be attractive? I say yes.

How and why one appearance-conscious homeowner chose wall-to-wall carpeting.

The truth is, I’ve never been happier to see an unmarked white van pull into our driveway than the day our wall-to-wall carpet appeared. (Incidentally, the carpeting was in that unmarked white van, in case you were wondering if a sleazy crack salesman emerged instead. Incidentally, such fellows don’t actually frequent our driveway, in case you were questioning my seeming moral dubiousness.)

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But less talk about white vans and more talk about how we found our affordable, attractive, and eco-friendly carpet, in helpful Q&A format.


What is it?

It’s wall-to-wall carpeting.

No, really, what is it?

Oh.

Hello?

Oh sorry, I got distracted by this carpet model I know.

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What was the question?

WHAT KIND OF CARPET IS IT?

No need to shout; I heard you the first time.

…[fumes patiently]…

The brand of carpeting is Shaw, the style is Conquest, and the color is Limestone.

Thank you. Why did you choose carpeting over refinishing your wood floors?

The floors in our upstairs were not in good shape and refinishing them would not only have been time-consuming, but simply not worth the results. Kenley’s nursery floor was painted brick red, another room had old carpet glue adhered to much the floor. The boards everywhere were warped and uneven, typical of a second-story for a house as old as ours.

Do you have something against brick red painted floors?

Yes.

nursery carpet before and after

But didn’t you refinish your bedroom floor a few years ago?

Yes. It was a significant improvement, but still too shabby and old-looking overall.

Do you have something against old things?

Yes. I mean, no. I mean, sometimes.

bedroom carpet makeover 2

How has it held up so far?

Swimmingly, for the 6 months in which it has lived here. It has a 20 year warranty and the retailer from which we purchased it said they would come replace any sections that didn’t survive our normal wear and tear. But so far it vacuums nicely, and the stain-resistant feature has already come in handy—liquids just pool on top of the rug rather than soak in. Plus I’m told that I will be able to parade a herd of gazelle across this carpet and still be able to clean it back to perfection.

Have you tested that claim?

No. The only gazelle with which I’m personally acquainted have been avoiding my calls.

I see. Is it true that Shaw’s products are eco-friendly?

Yes. One of the reasons I chose Shaw in the first place is because it’s made in the USA and the carpeting won’t give us cancer. Or something. (You can read more about the Green Label Plus program for low chemical emissions here.)

Speaking of green, I’ve heard that teething frogs taste better when eaten on this particular wall-to-wall carpeting. Is this true?

Yes.

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But isn’t that texture a little rough on her sweet baby skin?

Not at all. It’s actually super soft. I can lay on it and be totally comfy, and Kenley happily face-plants into it on a regular basis.

In that case, I’m liking the texture.

Me too. One of the reasons I was initially against wall-to-wall is because it sometimes seems to create a flat sea of color. The basketweave texture in our carpeting prevents that from happening and adds a little modern interest to the floor. Ack I just got all design-speak.

Wouldn’t an orange shag rug have had the same effect?

OMG why didn’t you point that out sooner?! Now we’ve wasted all that money.

closet carpet makeover

Well since you didn’t go with orange, how did you choose your color?

We threw five gazelle up in the air and chose our color based on an algorithm derived from the order in which they fell.

Really?

Yes, that’s why they aren’t returning my calls.

Really?

No. Actually, we just went to the carpet store, looked at the miniscule color swatches, then politely asked the owner if we could perhaps have some larger samples ordered directly from Shaw before we installed 1600 square feet of a color that looked totally different on a 3”x3” square. They were happy to oblige given the volume of our order, and had the swatches shipped directly to our house. It took about 1.38 seconds for both of us to realize which one was the right choice.

choosing wall to wall carpet colors

So much did it cost, then?

A lot, by our penny-pinching standards. In fact, it was the most money we’ve put into our home since living here. But we wanted a high-quality product that had good aesthetics and was eco-friendly, so that’s why we were fairly picky and didn’t just go with the cheapest big-box retailer option. We also had the entire upstairs and a stairwell done at once, which obviously cost more right now but saved us money in the long run: the retailer gave us a large volume discount and a free upgrade to the higher quality padding, neither of which we would have gotten if we’d done it one room at a time. I should also add, though, that Shaw does offer more expensive options, and our choice reminds me of some of the more expensive options sold by FLOR. So overall, we landed middle-of-the-road. Just call us roadkill.

It seems to me we’ve covered everything, roadkill. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Yes. This picture.

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That doesn’t have anything to do with this post.

Correct.


So there you have it! What do you think? Are you a wall-to-wall fan?

2.13.2014

That Time My Blog Demanded Plastic Surgery {Plus Six Great Resources for Customizing Basic Blogs}

My blog hasn’t had a midlife crisis in a while, so it was no surprise to me when over the weekend it tried to sneak out to get hair implants and then began demanding a Porsche. I firmly said no while doing more important things, like creating that raindrop decal accent wall in K’s nursery. But when it began whining about its liver spots and then threatened to look up its old beaus on Facebook, I said whatever, enough is enough and offered a simple facelift as collateral. It appears to have been appeased with its new header and fonts and colors, but I’ve hidden the steroids just in case.

his and hers blog header

Speaking of blog facelifts, I’ve done various simple things over the years—obviously nothing major; I’m just using Blogger as a platform, after all—and have spent a lot of time googling all around for clear tutorials containing certain information about how to customize a Blogger blog. I thought I’d save some of you the googling around and compile helpful resources all in one tiny little post; unless you like the googling around, of course, in which case please don’t let me interfere. But might I recommend instead searching for something more exciting like hair implant fails? And then report back to me with your findings.

how to customize your blog

Visit the following links to learn how to…

  1. Create a custom blog header. Say your blog was called That Time I Got a Chin Job and Other Midlife Musings. You could make a totally customized header that featured a close-up of your…chin job. 
  2. Create a custom navigation bar OR create custom side tabs. Tabs like Nostalgia and Waxing would look great in a hip new font.
  3. Center your navigation tabs. In case you don’t want Nostalgia and Waxing cuddling up in left alignment.
  4. Create custom social media icons. You know, so your blog can connect with its old beaus.
  5. Create a custom blog background. This could feature repeated images of your favorite bands from the 70s.
  6. Create a thumbnail image gallery. This way you can give sneak peeks of all your before and afters. Refer to #1.

Ooooookay. I’ve officially poked way too much fun in the direction of midlife crisis. This will probably come back to haunt me in 35 years when I am trying to buy cheetah-print shorts at Aeropostale and some super hilarious 27-year old cashier is rolling her eyes at me. Signing off now.

P.S. If you’ve made a tutorial about blog customization OR know of another good one, please feel free to add it in the comments! :)

2.11.2014

DIY Colorful Raindrop Decals {Nursery Accent Wall}

Several things happen when you sit nursing a baby for any great length of time.

  1. You begin wondering if you’d be able to walk to the kitchen and get the eggless cookie dough out of the fridge without breaking baby’s latch.
  2. You get an overwhelming urge to check and make sure your boob is still intact.
  3. You begin daydreaming about how you could improve the space in which you are nursing.

This, my friends, is how Kenley’s sweet and colorful raindrop accent wall was born. Terrible pun completely intended.

Adorable and easy raindrops accent wall!

Make your own colorful vinyl raindrop accent wall! Adorable, easy, and cheap.

The owner of the room approves and I’ve caught her studying her raindrops on a few occasions. When it was time to take her picture, though, she was more interested in studying the camera.

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One of my favorite parts about this wall is that it is completely reversible: the raindrops are made out of adhesive vinyl. Which means that I could rearrange them every day into random shapes like a pancreas, or a squirrel, or a squirrel’s pancreas, if I was so moved. Luckily for you and the squirrel I’d need to bring to an untimely demise in order to know what a squirrel’s pancreas looks like, I am not so moved.

colorful raindrops wall

I did some much-needed stash-busting and used up all of the white and green vinyl that I had on hand, and then ordered the colored vinyl on eBay. I made the raindrop template on my Cricut and then pushed a button and went and did other things while my Cricut did all of the work for me. Yes, you could probably cut out 200 raindrops shape by hand with little to no whining and drama, but to be honest I’d rather pursue that squirrel and his pancreas.

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When it was time to put them up, I did the white ones first, leaving space randomly between them for the colored ones. I did a fair amount of rearranging to get the colored ones where I wanted them—not too close to another one of the same color, evenly distributed across the wall, avoiding any sort of predictable pattern, etc. Organized chaos is my specialty.

Easy raindrops accent wall--perfect for a nursery!

When there were only a handful of spaces left, I used scraps of vinyl as placeholders so I could figure out how many more raindrops of certain colors I needed to cut out.

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As far as measuring goes, there was a TON. And by a TON I mean a ton of none. (Recall my use of the word chaos.) I just started sticking the raindrops up there and eyeballed the distances between them. It’s imperfect, but no raindrop ever claimed to fall equidistant from its neighbor…possibly because the word equidistant is above a raindrop’s primitive vocabulary. This system worked because I could stick, stand back, and adjust when necessary. I might have had to be a responsible math-favoring adult if I’d been using a stencil and paint.

colorful accent wall in nursery

Overall, the wall makes Kenley’s nursery my hands-down favorite room in the house, and in my opinion its sweetness is exceeded only by the sweetness of the room’s primary occupant.

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Total cost for the project: $12 and change for the colored vinyl. Total time on task: probably three or four hours uninterrupted by that cute little face. This project was definitely more time-consuming than it was difficult.

DIY raindrop decal accent wall

Have you ever made anything with adhesive vinyl? Who wants to hire Kenley to model their projects? Who wants to share my eggless cookie dough? On second thought, I don’t know if I am willing to share my baby or that cookie dough. Offers retracted.

Psst…you can see the rest of Kenley’s nursery here.

 

Linking up to DIY Showoff, Be Bold Challenge, and the Link Party Palooza!

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