Thursday, April 28, 2011

New Dining Room Drapery Panels {where to hang drapes on Craftsman window trim}

While the cat’s away, the mice will play!

My husband doesn’t go out of town very often, but he’s been gone this week…which gives me the perfect opportunity to do a few projects to surprise him!  You see, it’s a win-win for me to do projects while he’s out of town.  First off, he’s not subjected to hours of discussion on splitting hairs  on whether to add one more milli-drop of pigment to this gallon of paint or not?  Second, {and one thing that really attracted me to him} he has a very good sense of style and cares way more about the little details than the average man should be allowed to does.   So this sometimes can lead to lengthy fights discussions over installing the bracket here or 1/2 inch to the right.  And third, who doesn’t love to come home to a home improvement project started and finished to completion without having to do any decision making or work? {Ok, don’t answer that!}

So, while he’s been away this week, this little mouse {yours truly} has been working hard on sprucing up our cottage to surprise him! I should really take a look at my to do list for 2011 so I can actually get things crossed off- since my first project isn’t on the list, darn!

First up is adding drapery panels to our dining room slider…and what a nice finishing touch it made. 

Here’s the slider BEFORE before…what it looked like with the previous owners:


And here it is after my husband installed Craftsman style trim around all the windows and we changed out the handle and lock:


Sorry, I forgot to take a “before” picture without the brackets, oops!

Ok, then I installed the brackets right on top of the trim:


After much research on where to install the brackets, I finally determined that during the Craftsman period {when trim like this was the standard} they installed the brackets right on top of the wood trim. I think it’s perfect, actually {that and I don’t have any wall space above my trim, which kinda leaves me without many options!}

I found these beautiful sheer drapery panels at my new favorite store, Cost Plus World Market.  I was contemplating sewing my own panels but when I saw these at just $14.99 each (plus I use my $10 off $30 coupon) it was a no-brainer.


Look at the adorable little bags they come in.  Hummm, what could I re-use these bags for??


They come all rolled up in a perfect little package:


So up went the drapery rod:


And the finials:


I just love the tie tops!  So whimsical, light and airy….just beachy!

And then I had to decide at what height I wanted the tie backs:


My dear son wasn’t quite as patient with me as my husband is…upon the 10th location I asked him to move it to, he was finished with me.


And here we are!


I think the next thing this little mouse needs to do is clean up that back yard a bit!

Back to work!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Few New {to me} Trader Joe’s Items

A while back you might recall {like if you’re my mom or one of my other VERY loyal readers} I wrote a post about my top 10 favorite Trader Joe’s Items. And as some of you may know, I do 80% of my grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s {with the other 20% being Costco- they have a great organic selection now, you know?}  So here are a few of my latest Trader Joe faves:

Nitrite Free Salami


I’ve been searching for this for a while now.  All the taste of salami without the nitrites, yay! It comes in two flavors: white wine and red wine…honestly I can’t taste the difference between the two…both yummy and both, you got it, nitrite free.

Next up is Crunchy Almond Butter with Flax Seeds.


Now, normally I like my flax seeds to be ground as the body can’t really digest the whole seeds…however, I’m not really eating this for the omega-3s…it’s just SO um um GOOD!  I’m not really an almond butter gal.  I’ve loved my sunflower seed butter for a loooong time…but this one, folks, has won me over.  If you’ve not liked almond butters in the past, give this one a try.  And did you know TJ’s will take it back if you don’t like it?  So it’s risk-free, too!  I put it on TJ’s whole wheat British muffins with a SMIDGE of super fruit spread on top.

Moving right along to the sweet stuff…I had never tried a crumpet until recently.  In fact, I only bought them after listening to a Disney Princess sing about the perfect princess tea…and my daughters asking for “crumpets please”. 


Can you say: Dessert for breakfast?  Uh, yeah, they’re that good.  You just gotta try them to see what I’m talking about. The nooks and crannies on these puppies can soak up three times as much butter as Thomas’ English Muffins…and make sure you use real butter!

As if the crumpets are good enough on the their own with a little{or a little more} butter…try adding a bit of this on top:


Lemon Curd. Enough said.

Though I do want to say one more thing while we’re on the subject, this stuff can make even the best scones taste that much better.

Finally, to make sure your table is always lookin’ it’s purdiest…at $1.29/bunch of 10, you might need more than one bunch.


The Daffodils are going fast, but boy are they fun to share table space with.

And if yellow isn’t your thing…


…you could go for the incredibly sweet scent of stock. And at under $3/bunch, you’ll think you’re hiking amongst the wildflowers each time you pass by.

{If you’re liking that aqua colored mason jar, see my tutorial here.}

Ok my friends, that’s all the shopping tips I have for you today!

What are your latest Trader Joe faves?  Or what have you always wanted to try but still haven’t?

Friday, April 22, 2011

A few things in our Easter Baskets {kitchen utensils for kids}

Hi there, and happy almost Easter! 

In thinking about Easter baskets for my kids this year, I want to include things that are cute and practical.
Since my kids all enjoy helping me in the kitchen, I found a few items that will hopefully inspire more culinary creativity...or at the least help make healthy food more "fun" to prepare and eat!

First up is this adorable set of "Buddy Learner's Chopsticks". 
Funny thing is, I didn't even know my son had any interest in chopsticks until last week.  When asked by my mother and sister-in-law what he'd like for his 7th-birthday dinner, I thought for SURE he'd request macaroni and cheese.  So I was shocked {and a little worried about the possible disappointment} to watch the dinner spread coming out and not seeing mac-n-cheese anywhere on the table. To my surprise, my dear son had requested "Chinese noodles I can eat with chopsticks".  Well, that's what he got!  But the trouble was, he had never used chopsticks before and hadn't a clue as to how to work them. So my husband secured one end together with a rubber band and he took it from there. But then when I saw these at Cost Plus World Market, it was a no-brainer! Guess mom'll be making more Chinese noodles in the near future.

Next up, also from World Market, is this pink piggy egg mold (which I will also use for pancakes and zucchini latkes and the like). 
 Both my daughters love pink {& one especially loves pigs!}  And they certainly enjoy pancakes and eggs as well. 

Finally, does it get any cuter? Check out this adorable mini whisk!   It's the perfect size for toddler hands.
I found it at Mollie Stones {a local market} but you can buy them on line from Amazon.
Both of my girls love making breakfast with me and especially love using the whisk for some reason.  When they use the big whisk, egg batter inevitably ends up on the counter, the floor, in the gap between the stove and counter, etc.  So this just might be the perfect solution {well, that and using a bowl 3 times bigger than we need}.

Ok, well that's all for now, folks.  Just wanted to share a few cute finds for the chefs in the family.

Happy Weekend!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Painting Jars with chalkboard paint

 Last week I showed you how to paint mason jars that mimic the old vintage blue/aqua jars from years past…today I want to share one other way I’ve painted mason jars and that’s with chalkboard paint.  I just love chalkboard paint and am so excited when I discover another way to use it.  {Have you seen the chalkboard walls in my kitchen and dining rooms? Click here!} I wanted to create a place to write my kids’ names on these jars. So I taped off an area with blue painter’s tape.  I just eye-balled it.
Then I painted the small area with chalkboard paint.
IMG_4016 I love this chalkboard paint from Rust-oleum!  Did you know it comes in a rainbow of colors?  But the scariest most exciting thing is that it also comes in a tint-able white!  Oh, help me!  I’d be at the paint counter for days trying to get just the right color.  So for now I’m sticking with black!
IMG_4019 IMG_4023
                        One coat                                                Two coats
IMG_4029 IMG_4032
                     Three coats                                                  Four coats
After 5 coats I peeled back the tape and Voila!  A cute spot to label your jars. IMG_4067
I use mine for our family’s positive discipline incentive program.  We fill them with wooden balls to be redeemed for a special treat. 
You can read all about our ball jars here!
Also, I think they’re cute in the bathroom…
I’m sure you can think of dozens of ways to use them!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Inexpensive Children’s Wall Art

A couple of years ago Last week my son’s room was decorated with a  “surf” theme.  All of the d├ęcor was chosen by me, which I think is fair when it’s me that is buying it, me that is working hard on it and me that has to dust it stare at it day in and day out. I had bought the whole surf collection when it first came out at Pottery Barn Kids {afraid it would be gone soon and never come back- little did I know they’d bring it back every single spring/summer!}  Anyways, after blowing a small fortune on the quilt and sheet set and a few odds-n-ends, I needed to find a way to save a few dollars.  So I created 4 pieces of framed art from Pottery Barn’s Wallies stickers.  His were surf theme…but they sell all sorts of wallies to go with their latest trends:




All of the pics above are current Pottery Barn Kids “Wallies” “Decals” {they changed the name since I bought them} and are designed with peel and stick backs meant to be stuck to the wall.  Well, I took them a step further and framed them into “works of art”!

Here’s one of the surf pictures from his old room, read: pre-7 year old room.


I found some {cheap} frames at Ikea in this beautiful gray-blue…..ahh, how I love gray-blue, let me count the ways…no, no, never mind.

Then I used acid free, non-fading, poster paper as a mat and viola, a framed piece of art!

Well, now that Star Wars has taken over his life our entire house, my husband thought it would fun to let him decorate his room like he choses- as a birthday present.  So I agreed, kinda. I bit my lip as we ordered the Star Wars movie posters…I was thinking more of just space ships or something…but I did veto the 2 ft by 3 ft HUMUNGOUS {teenage room} posters and chose these smaller scaled versions, which I could frame.  Smile A win-win.

I started with the same Ikea frames from before and spray painted them black…anything Star Wars has to start with black.  See tutorial for spray painting frames here.


Why, oh why, am I painting over that wonderful blue-gray?  Blue-gray, blue-gray, how I love thee.  Oh, sorry.

Ok, moving right along….next stop was Michael’s for a new set of mats to match the Star Wars posters…I picked up the same type of poster paper that is acid free.


Now, orange isn’t usually my go-to color, but you’ll see why I chose it in a minute.

So then you just cut the poster board to be the same size as the glass, center your piece of “art”, secure with a piece of tape…and there you have it, art work for a kid’s room that is inexpensive, can readily change with their latest obsessions, and still maintains an element of design appeal.


Oh, I forgot to mention where I picked up these pictures from! The selection at Pottery Barn Kids was not huge {except for this incredible light up LED poster of all the battleships in Star Wars for a mere $300}, so I did a little Google search and found this great store, Postergods, that prints thousands of posters in TONS of sizes.  These posters I found, which are episodes I, II and III of Star Wars, are called Giant Post Card Posters.  They measure 11 inches x 14 inches and are just like the title, huge post cards.  They are heavy like a postcard {not thin paper that can roll like a poster} and a great size for framing. So I ordered the first three episodes for his birthday {he’ll likely get the next three for Christmas.}  Oh and the best part, they are $5.99 each!!  And I got a 20% off coupon from a live chat agent!

starwars episode I

There it is, above, as advertised on their website.  Click on the picture to be taken to it.

And here it is framed:


Yeah, Ikeas frames don’t come with glare-free glass! Oh well.


But at $6/print, $10 for Ikea frames {which I bought years ago} and poster paper {on sale now at Michael’s for under $2}, you can’t beat it!  And when I’m my son is tired of Star Wars, I’ll happily change it out for something new- without feeling guilty that I spent a fortune on them.  If I had bought that $300 LED picture from PBK, he’d have a Star Wars theme room until he’s 18.


I know he’s gonna LOVE them!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spray Painting Picture Frames {a tutorial}

I have a huge wall of pictures that are all framed in wooden cherry frames


and since we’re recently added board and batten and repainted this room {again and again} the frames no longer go with the new look


{Napa style reds/mustards/browns meet fresh 2011 beachy look…NAH!}


{I tested a few black fames, too.}

So I have decided I need to paint the frames…and most likely they will be white.  But that’s another story for another day.

Before attacking these over-priced Restoration Hardware Gallery Frames with a can of spray paint, I figured I’d better practice on some less expensive frames first. {I only have one other spray paint experience…my mailbox!}

Enter: my son’s Ikea frames which are baby blue and don’t go with his new-found 7 year old style.


It was actually quite easy and I am confident in my abilities now to spray paint my photo wall frames! 

Here’s the how to:

Step 1:

Lightly sand your frames with 220 grit sand paper.  Don’t worry you sanding-haters, this is FAST! Just a few seconds per frame will do it. 


{No! That’s not my cell phone right next to me as I work…that’s a newspaper ad. I still have the ol’ flip phone and love it.}

Step 2:

Using a damp rag, clean off the sanding residue.


{Oh my word, are those age spots on my hands?}

Moving right along.

Step 3:

Lay your frames on something you don’t care about and make sure to do this outside…the fumes from spray paint are awfully toxic.  Also, best to do this on a perfectly calm day, no wind.


Unfortunately, I had one afternoon to complete this project while my son was away that I HAD to work under slightly breezy conditions…if that’s your situation, be sure to firmly secure your paper down so it doesn’t blow up over the wet paint.


Step 4:

Start a sprain’.


I used Rust-Oleum’s Painter’s Touch Semi-gloss in black.


After 3 coats {4 in a few places} about 15 minutes apart, I was happy with the coverage.  I didn’t want any blue peeking through…not for these boy frames. Not when you see what is about to go in them!  And I find the semi-gloss a great finish for these frames.  It’s not super shiny at all, but has a nice sheen to it. Also, since these are not going to get much wear and tear {knock on wood, they are going in a 7 year old boy’s room} I don’t feel they need a clear coat on top. The sheen is perfect as is.

Step 5:

Dry the full 24 hours…just like a manicure, you’re bound to nick them if you break this rule.


Step 6:

Insert your photo and smile…now that was easy peasy!


I told you any blue peeking through wouldn’t work for this ‘lil project. 

But…when I paint my wall O frames to go above my board and batten, a little blue peeking through the white painted frames is gonna look so key-ute!

However, today it’s all about my darling son…he’s gonna love them!


And in retrospect, a few nicks here and there probably wouldn’t have hurt a thing!

linking up to this fun spray paint party!!

spray paint party