Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Easy Antique Finish

I LOVE cedar chests!  My parents were fantastic about the tradition of giving a cedar "Hope" chest to my sister, Giselle, and I.  Giselle chose a Hope chest from Lane furniture and it's lovely after 17 years.  I on the other hand, had been helping a friend with his Eagle project and while gutting a house for Habitat for Humanity, I found an old steamer trunk in the attic to be used for my Hope chest.  My dad fixed it up for me by lining it with cedar planks and making a tray for the top.  It has been a fun piece of furniture to have.

But, I digress!  Last year, while I was helping a friend move into her new home, her new neighbors were hosting a garage sale.  I found this beauty:

It had the veneer coming off on all sides but the top opened to reveal cedar!  But did I say I LOVE cedar chests?!  Anyway, I was super excited about it!  Since I had plans for it in to go into my house, I wanted to make it match my kitchen table and buffet (since my living room and kitchen are nearly just one large room).

First thing I did was to fill in some of the chipped veneer with wood putty, let it dry and then I painted the entire chest in my favorite white: "Silver Feather".   Some of the veneer I left - but it's actually because I forgot to check all 5 sides and was in too impatient to wait for the wood putty to dry again.  As it turned out, I actually like how it looked - more "antiqued". 

Lowe's has a great antiquing glaze by Valspar that I've used on all of my kitchen cabinets, all of my approximately 30 frames, a kitchen table, a buffet, a queen-sized bed, and a full-sized bed.  And yes, it's lasted for all of those projects and there is still about 1/8th of it left.  I can't even remember when I bought it, but the current price is about $10 - I think it's been well worth that cost!  (Neither Lowe's nor Valspar, nor anyone for that matter, pays me to say any of this, I'm just giving my own thoughts.)

An old toothbrush has been the best tool to apply the glaze.  It fits in all the nooks and crannies.

Brush it all over the area (a little section is shown here, but I've gotten impatient and done the entire top of a headboard and it didn't dry on the painted wood too quickly).

Then with a damp rag, wipe away the extra.  I usually rinse the rag pretty regularly and then just re-use it on the next "antiqued" area of the project.

The finished product.

I got the fantastic Pledge of Allegiance subway art here.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Family History Wall - in the making

Many people have awesome ideas on how to make a photo wall and how to make a family tree with real pictures of one's ancestors.  I have LOVED these ideas!  So, I decided to give it a try.
Grandpa on his pony with Great Grandpa (ancestor)

My dad is something of an amateur photographer (a really good one), especially photos of nature.  He did something with his photos that I thought was a brilliant idea.  In his basement, each of his photos has the same plain ol' white matte around it.  But on the bottom of each of the mattes, written in pencil, is the name of the place where he took the picture.  I thought this was a fun, yet simple way to remember each place - and you don't have to turn the frame around to figure out what the photo is or where it was located, or who is in the photo.
Waterfall on the Buffalo River (vacation)

On our walls growing up, my mom was great to keep so many photos of our ancestors all over the hallway walls.  In quiet moments of reflection I remember standing often gazing at those photos wondering what so-and-so's life was like and thinking how nice it was to be connected to so many people!

So, with the combination of these ideas, I decided to finally help my kids get interested in their ancestors by finding interesting photos of family and also taking all of our special places we've been on vacations over the past 14 years and any special photos of my husband and I and our children and put them all together on a gallery wall in our hallway.

Grammy and her sisters (ancestor)
I wanted to incorporate my dad's idea of writing on the matte board, and create a cohesive look that would prompt the kids (and myself) to look over the wall and hopefully gain a love for the places and people on the wall.

Coal Kiln's at a ghost town in the southwest corner of WY (vacation)
Getting a cohesive look, especially with finding pre-cut mattes can get expensive.  Since I like doing things on the cheap, most of my "mattes" are cardstock cut to fit the picture.  I hope to replace them as I find them on sale or actually buy matteboard and cut them (this with a hand matte cutter is kind of tricky to get a straight line - but it is doable; that may have to be a tutorial later down the road - i.e. make sure  you have a metal yardstick and don't try to just "wing it").
My kids on a ride at SDC, in Branson, MO. (vacation)

Also, to keep to my budget, I used  It's fabulous!  Using it allowed me to take the photos of ancestors that I had scanned in to my computer and add the same effects to each photo and crop or touch up. 
Great-grandpa Max's beloved Shetland Cattle (a special memory of time with an ancestor)

The final cost to me was only $12 (for the photos printed out at my local retail place); the frames I had on hand and of course the mattes were really cardstock that I had on hand except for the two large ones and they were at the Dollar Tree for $1 a piece. 

This one wall is ready (yes, I know it's on the floor instead of the wall, but ideally this is how it will look).  On another note, I just received a CDROM with more family history photos and hope to implement those new pictures as soon as I can!!

I have a small wall at the end of my hallway with room for just one large frame - so this is what I put there.

This one is currently on the wall opposite of the (potential) large gallery wall.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Valentine's Wreath

See? Unfinished project.
I've been searching for a cute valentine wreath that will 'pop' against my maroon door but they are difficult to find in colors other than red and pink.  Luckily, this morning, I was getting all my valentine decor out and found, that last year, I had finished one heart-shaped felt bean bag.  Of course the intention was to make enough for a bean bag toss game, but since there was only one cute little heart made and the game idea is on hold, I wondered what it would look like if I attached it to my "winter wreath".

I love it! It's pretty simple, but since there's currently snow on the ground, I like that I can still keep the winter-y feel and also recognize that Valentine's day is coming.  The felt happened to be the same color as my door and all I did to attach it was use two safety pins, so I can take it off and do the same thing year after year.  My sewing job on the heart wasn't even that great!  I used black thread on my top stitch and white in my bobbin - but, mweh, it's not very noticeable. 

Original Valentine Wreath

UPDATE:  I just wanted to add another Valentine aspect to this wreath.  This is a year later (2014).  And I was excited to find that on a stroke of unusual planning ahead, the little heart on my "winter wreath" was in my Valentine box with a note that read "for winter wreath".  I'm hoping that I would have remembered without the note, but still, it was nice to see that sometimes I am organized.  lol!

Since I'm loving the banner/pendant trend, I decided to add one to my wreath this year.

 Using push-pins or thumb tacks (whichever) to attach the banner will allow me to take it out whenever ...........or, maybe add a winter themed banner to the wreath next year.   I love how versatile this silver, gumball wreath can be!  It turned out to be worth the pricked and burnt fingers.  

This banner was simple; just cut out triangles, stenciled letters, glue gun to the string (and glue gun dots on the tips of the triangles (this makes it so the glue at the top won't flip the triangles but weighs them down to hang straight)).

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Valentine's Day with Borax Crystals

When I was in elementary school (yes, I already dated myself with the Atari etc.), I always was so excited to be able to do science experiments or hands-on learning activities in the classroom.  I don't know about you, but I retained more from those activities than from most of the other sitting-in-my-desk class time!

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I thought I'd mention this fun past time that my kids, and their friends, worked on last year.  Their hearts turned out so well that we even sent them as gifts to their out of town cousins for the special day.  

So, when I found all the tutorials on how to make Borax crystals online, I decided it was time to give it a go with my kids and their friends.   I thought I had come up with the idea of making heart-shaped Borax crystals myself but apparently making the crystals into heart shapes isn't a novelty.  Oh, well...great minds, eh?

Anyhoo - I found TONS of borax shapes on Pinterest when getting ready for this post!  I especially LOVE these ones made into letters!  Wouldn't it be perfect to have a pre-school age child shape the letter he/she is learning to help with this project?  Brilliant idea Vicky!!
I found some other cute heart shaped Borax crystals  here and here.  And some fantastic snowflakes plus a great tutorial on this post.  The possibilities of what to make with your Borax are endless!

I know, these snowflakes are out of place; just showing a side-by-side before and after.

One of my daughter's friends shaped her pipe cleaner into the word love (seen above) and gave it to her mom - cute, right?!

Just some additional notes that I discovered after doing this three times:  
  1. You must wash the jar between each use - trying to just add more boiling water and new Borax to a previously Borax-used jar won't work.  The Borax won't cling to the new pipe cleaner if it has other Borax crystals to cling to on the sides of the jar.  
  2. Make sure your pipe cleaner doesn't touch the sides of the jar. You may just knock some of your beautiful crystals off the shape while trying to dislodge it from the jar (so your opening should be larger than the shape you put in it too - i.e. wide mouth canning jars work better than regular). 
  3. Though many recipes called for 1/3 cup of Borax in a pint jar, I found (with the quart jars that I used) that if I just added the Borax until it was not able to dissolve anymore, then I had so many more crystals than when I added the exact amount required.  More Borax = more beautiful crystals.  
  4. If you plan to hang your finished project, make sure you put the string that you're using to hang in the borax on right-side-up.  You'll notice that many of my poor hearts ended up with their stings on the bottom and I had to reattach another one to hang them atop.  The kids loved them anyway!
This was a super fun and easy project!  

UPDATE - The crystals one year later:

no longer clear and crystal looking; instead they've oxidized but are still quite lovely


Because of my 12 year old... previously posted, my computer was not letting me add pictures to anything.  Luckily, my newly-turned 12 year old son came in and fixed it in about 30 seconds!  Why didn't I think to ask him sooner?!  I know I grew up with an Atari and can remember when we got our first VCR, but sheesh, I thought I was pretty good at figuring out computer stuff!   I'm a little amazed and super grateful for the ability of my kiddos to understand and operate computers!

It is good to be back up and running!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Technical Difficulties

Hi all,

Sorry I've been on the fritz!  I've had some technical difficulties with my blog.  I can't load any pictures for some reason!  Anyway, I'm attempting to get it fixed.  Thanks for your patience and keep stopping by;  I'm getting it fixed as soon as possible.