DIY Ottoman: Done!

Remember when I came home and discovered I was the proud owner of a big plywood box? Well, plywood-y it is no more.

I'll post more later this week with our step-by-step process, which involved, in brief, a 3" upholstery needle, a head lamp, and a Joann's worker who told another customer that I was "nuts" and would be "better off buying an ottoman". I think I'll send her our step-by-step, too, along with our bill for this project which came to a whopping $47, so that she can feel free to find a better deal for me. (Rick was hoping that this unnecessary insult would make me want to boycott Joann's for a good long while, but, sadly for him, I'm not the type to hold grudges.)

Hope everyone had a fabulous Memorial Day weekend! :)

The DIY Show Off


Calling all people who are smarter than me!

Does anyone smarter than me know how to take a picture of a bay window wall (or any window wall, for that matter) without having it turn out looking like an evil black hole crawled in and ate everything but the window? Our middle living room (aka the Black Hole's first unsuspecting victim) has been MIA from the blog since we first ditched the dark, bulky curtains and tore out the carpet the weekend after we closed (three months ago!), but we've been working on making some small updates, like adding pillows...

I used Premier Prints Dandelion Yellow and Dwell Studio Belle Porte in Citron for fabric. 

...hanging curtains that I made while the sewing machine and I were on speaking terms...

...and, of course, painting.

So I was excited to capture it all on my blog, but then I went to take a picture of all our work. Which is when the shadow of darkness swept in and ate my room for lunch, burping up the window as a lame consolation prize for me to keep. Case in point:

It's dramatic. It's moody. It looks nothing like the room I walked into just one minute earlier. The next photo is as close as I could come to what our room actually looks like (yes, I realize that it's only about 0.389% better):

This, after playing around with the few settings my camera offers while heaving several dramatic sighs akin to Juliet's wailing after she finds out that she must parade down the aisle with some old fart named Paris and her beloved Romeo is banished for not thinking twice before shoving his sword into her cousin.

But I digress. And only slightly exaggerate. Can you tell, though, that I have now watched that scene six times as I attempt to help my students understand Shakespeare?

My expertise in photography is limited to an 11th grade studio class with Mrs. Scott in which my prize project was some black and white I took of a ceiling fan (no joke). You'll just have to trust me when I say that the room now (in real life) actually looks much less like a true black hole than it did when we first moved in:

Any suggestions for how to tell the Black Hole that he needs to find a new place to dine? Or is my situation as ill-fated as Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers? I'll take any help you can give. Unless, of course, it involves "fake your death" potion and other hare-brained schemes. I'm not that desperate. :)


Fun with painter's tape.

The title of this post is completely misleading. We did not, in fact, have "fun" in the true sense of "Wow, this is a fabulously good time; let's do it again soon!" when we taped off our half bath in order to paint stripes on the walls last night. Why? Well.

1) The tape jumped off of the wall.
2) The tape made itself into a nasty green tapeball.
3) The tape got more wrinkly than an advertisement for Loreal Anti-Aging Cream.
4) The tape began slowly sloping downhill instead of going perfectly straight as we demanded.
5) The tape caused Rick to use language he doesn't use on any of the other 364 days of the year.

That's right: he said "What in tarnation...?!"

(Actually, I don't know anyone who uses that language on any of the 365 days of the year.)
Anyway, I'm certain that plenty of people have used painter's tape with absolutely no problems, maybe even while holding an infant in one arm and pumping a shake-weight in the other. We, however, were more than a little impaired at the task. Plus the tape was laughing at us. Maniacally.

In the end, though, we were victorious, and even though it was well past my bedtime (9:15, to be exact...I operate on the time schedule of a person eligible for AARP) we quickly painted on our stripes in order to avoid waking up in the morning to find all of our tape--and our dignity--hanging limply from the walls. Here's the bathroom's progress in pictures:

Step One: Tell the birds that they need to find a new place to nest.
Step Two: Prime, apply base coat (Benjamin Moore's White Diamond), and take out vanity.
Step Three: Seek therapy to reconcile your newfound aversion to painter's tape.
Step Four: Laugh at how much strife your stripes (Ben Moore's Ice Cube) caused.

Despite all of the attitude the tape gave us, though, and our seeming incompetence at manipulating it, we think our stripes turned out pretty well. The edges are crisp and the stripes are even, and there is enough subtle contrast between the two colors that our efforts were worth it.

Good thing, too, because if I hadn't liked it, and had politely asked to redo it, I'm pretty sure Rick would have wrapped my mouth up in painter's tape so he couldn't hear my protests as our bathroom continued to exist with striped walls.


Inspired While Lurking in the Basement: A True Story

I was lurking in the basement a few weeks ago when I developed a serious interest on pegboard.  Yes, pegboard. Yes, the stuff that tough men hang rusty tools on in their garage workshops.  Why? I thought it would work on the wall that our desk sits against in our office. So, I proposed the idea to Rick, who promptly looked at me as though I'd just suggested that we make a chandelier by decoupaging toilet paper to the nearest boob light.

Despite this "who-did-I-marry-and-where-do-these-ideas-come-from" stare, though, a piece of pegboard still managed to sneak into the truck on our next trip to Lowe's. And I managed to sneak Rick enough Benadryl to make him fully compliant in my scheme to hang pegboard on our office wall. (Just kidding. What pharmacist would be foolish enough to have his clueless wife administer medication to him without so much as a "Do not drive or operate heavy machinery while using this....?")

Some QT with my Cricut (does that count as heavy machinery?) and nine 18"x18" boards later, we ended up with this:

I first figured out the color pattern I wanted and took a picture so I wouldn't forget.

I decided to ditch two of those boards above in favor of what I'm going to call a "Less Predictable Look" with an asterisk and fine print that says "This person isn't entirely sure what she is doing. Please consult someone smarter for advice on how to hang things." Because, as you can see, I now have two large holes to deal with. I would like to fill them with something that contrasts with the boards but is about the same size to keep things looking uniform. (But don't be fooled--I actually have no idea what I am talking about). I suggested a blown-up picture of Rick wearing a cheese hat, but he vetoed that plan. Anyone have a better idea?

My next step was to cut the phones out using my Cricut, then glue them to chipboard before gluing the whole shebang to the pegboard with my BFF, hot glue. That extra layer of chipboard seems to add a little more dimension (or so I keep telling myself, but remember, I have no idea what I am talking about). And speaking of dimension, I screwed leftover pieces of particle board to two of the pegboard squares to make some of the phone images pop out for a little more experimental cluelessness spontaneity.

Rick helped me hang them on the wall (the Benadryl still hadn't worn off) for the final ta-da.

So, that's the "True Story" of how I was "Inspired While Lurking in the Basement."  I'm pretty sure that MTV is going to find this post and beg me for the rights to that very creative title for a new fall drama. Of course, I'll be sure to explain to them once I'm famous for penning the next hit show's title that I wasn't really lurking in the true sense of the "creepy middle-aged Easter bunny hanging out in Times Square and giving out candy to small children" sense of "lurking." Obviously I won't be able to lurk like that until I'm, well, middle-aged. And creepy.

Serenity Now Crafty Cutter Party



Getting two birds with one tree?

So. We have this tree outside our dining room window. And it has recently come to our attention that it is apparently quite a popular place to give birth.

Lest you think I am talking about human births in our tree (which would be, of course, quite eco-chic but also incredibly awkward--just imagine the dinner conversations! On second thought, please don't.)--I'll get to the point of what is actually being born in this tree:

You can just see the babies peeking out from underneath her.

 Yes, we have not just one mama bird using our tree as a hatching spot, but two: the mourning dove above and a robin. We've been watching them for a few days now, and we think that the babies all hatched sometime within the past 24 hours!

Fuzzy blurs=robin babies. I promise.

We tried to get better pictures of them (picture me hanging out the window, taking a picture and singing Happy Birthday to the baby birdies while smiling politely at the neighbors that walked by, as Rick tried to keep Gingerbread from launching herself into the tree and singing her own evil version of Happy Birthday to the tune of the Jaws theme song) but Mama Robin was a bit shy and flew away every time I came near. I don't think it was because of my singing, either.

Those tiny baby birdies, so dependent on their mothers but so perfectly and wonderfully formed, are just another reminder of God's amazing hand in this world He has created. As the old hymn goes, "His eye is on the sparrow, so I know He's watching me." And in Luke 12:6-7: "Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: you are of more value than many sparrows."

If you're in the northeast like I am, I hope you're enjoying the beautiful outdoors and this beautiful weather! :)


Introducing Dr. and (Still Just) Mrs.

It's official: as of 2 PM this afternoon, Rick is now Dr. Rick.

I technically also graduated today, but Rick's graduation from 6 years of pharmacy school trumped my piddly ceremony. After all, getting your Masters in literacy education doesn't even give you a new fancy little title like Doctor. I'm still just the same old Mrs. Really, all it does is allow you to be safe in knowing that you hold a permanent certificate entitling you to teach adolescents that reading is important for. the. rest. of. your. life. I think Rick got the better end of the deal.

How can you not trust a face like that? ;)

Seriously, though, I am so proud of that boy. The road to this was not always easy, and at one point neither one of us thought this day would actually come. You don't need or want to hear the whole story, but I distinctly remember the relief and sheer happiness we both felt the morning he finally got the "We accept you to our program" phone call. All along, Jeremiah 29:11 was his mantra and daily reminder of God's goodness and plan for him: "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."

My husband. My pharmacist. My Dr. Rick.

I just couldn't resist bragging about him for a few minutes. :)


The Windy City & Our Trendy Kitties

Quite the title, right? It will soon make sense. Well, as much sense as shopping at Crate & Barrel for cat dishes can ever make. (Hint, hint.)

Over April break, Rick and I, along with my parents and sister, went to Chicago to visit my brother, who just graduated from Northwestern. Here are some highlights in pictures:

Love the sign. And brother's face. Even if someone probably did scratch off the "To" on purpose.
Freezing during the Cubs game at Wrigley Field!
Freezing after the Cubs game at Wrigley Field! Please note the score. :)
Rick sampling Dog Food jelly beans at the Jelly Belly Warehouse in WI. Please note the worker in the background who fed Rick said sample.
Standing around in some lame Cheese Castle store as though it's perfectly normal to discuss wine while wearing giant cheese hats.
Cold but happy in the city. :)
At Frank's Diner, one of the diners Guy Fieri visited on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives!
Family photo-opp in the conservatory. :)

And although we don't have a picture to prove it, we also visited my first Crate and Barrel EVER.

{Insert fireworks, marching bands, and other jubilant sound effects here.}

I am cheap and bought nothing.

However, we also visited the Crate & Barrel Outlet. And that's where the Trendy Kitties part of the title comes in, because our felines now officially have cooler plates than we do. Check it out:

The above pictures are practically Fancy Feast advertisement material. Only Gingerbread would be a fluffy Persian cat with a flat face eating caviar instead of crusty old dry food. (Little does she know how much her life really stinks in comparison.)

But there you have it--our trip to the Windy City and our trendy kitties. Anyone else ever sampled the Jelly Belly Beanboozleds? Anyone else wear cheese hats? Anyone else buy C&B items for their pets? Or are we the only crazies around? :)

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