Stenciled Picture Frames

April 18, 2014 by

I stenciled! I’m a stenciler! It wasn’t that hard, I just let the stencil do all the work.

I admit to staring at the blank walls of my foyer daydreaming of three quarter’s high board and batten meeting a regal yet contemporary geometric print stenciled on the wall. I’ve read tutorials, tips and even product reviews, but ultimately I’ve always been intimidated by the whole prospect. Maybe I’m spending too much time staring at blank walls?

Finally I decided I ought to at least try. Don’t worry, I didn’t just start stenciling a wall. As I’ve mentioned, we have some fun projects coming up in our kitchen soon and I decided I’d like to make a collage wall the corner between the doorways to the living and dining rooms.  To begin, I bought two balsa wood 11×14 frames and stencil materials. Then I jumped right in.

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I feel as though stenciling is a crafter milestone. Or maybe that’s just me being overly proud of myself. It took me a week or so to finish them, but that’s because I could only work at strategic times. The frames didn’t turn out perfect, but I learned quite a bit:

First, I misunderstood my stencil and thought the first color I used would be the prominent color. Nope. What I had hoped would be a grey design with yellow outlines, was the opposite. It turned out fine, because what I thought was flat  grey paint was actually silver metallic paint and I prefer the yellow anyway. C’est la vie.

Second, geometric prints are pretty user friendly and certainly not as complicated as they could be. That is, unless you’re covering something like a picture frame and the pattern has to match up in the end. The first frame I did, I jumped in feet first and wasn’t surprised when I got to the last panel and it didn’t match where I had started. The second time though, I was really careful and purposeful but still managed to not line up. I kind of meshed it together in a way that I don’t think is super obvious but I was still sad.

Third, and I’m not sure how I’d fix this in the future, I didn’t get an even coat with the yellow. Some parts are darker than others. As I was painting I tried to use the same amount of paint and keep an even coverage, but it didn’t work out that way.

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Fourth, my top color didn’t cover as well as I had hoped. To be fair, the grey paint wasn’t what I thought it would be and ended up being much darker than originally expected. I was hoping for a bright yellow, but when it was all said and done, the yellow is much more muted. All in all I think that will actually be better because the pattern makes for a pretty busy frame, and having two large busy pattern frames on a somewhat small wall may have been overwhelming if the paint was also bright.

Then again, maybe I’m just talking myself out of painting over the whole thing and starting over. I have picture hanger kits to use for both frames and I’m ordering prints of pictures I want to put in. I also have to figure out how I’m going to actually get the pictures in there…but that’s next week’s problem. Right now, I’m super proud of my frames and my first attempt at stenciling. After our kitchen project is done, I’m going to hang up the frames then take my time building a collage around them. So if you start seeing a bunch of collage wall pins on my Pinterest boards, you’ll know why.

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Spring Toddler Crafts

April 2, 2014 by

We enjoy changing our home with the seasons, both weather and liturgical. I can’t lie, I needed some time to recover from Christmas. I dug deep to put together our St. Joseph’s Altar and Gender Reveal, but I’ve been pretty burnt out since. Unfortunately, Evangeline’s energy levels went up as mine went down.

So for the past two weeks, she and I have been working on Spring crafts to help fill our days and spend some energy. Felicity was able to help with most of these as well. In looking for ideas online, however, I’ve had to be careful to pick spring crafts and not Easter ones. As my husband insists, it’s not Easter yet. So be it.

On a sort of whim, I started displaying our crafts on a blank wall in our dinning room. Who am I kidding, all of our walls are blank in the dinning room. The gallery has grown and I’m already thinking of what we can do for summer. Without further adieu, our Spring toddler craft gallery wall, thus far:

Spring Gallery Wall II

Spring Gallery Wall

 

The walls in our dining room are ugly. They are bare, peach color voids that make you feel as though all the happiness has gone out of the world. It has been glorious to add more color to our wall every few days!  Evangeline and Felicity get so excited to show Ryan what new things we did we he gets home each day.

I’m starting to get ideas to do during Holy Week and after Easter Sunday. I’ve been hoping to find craft ideas for Holy Week so each day we could read part of the story then do a craft to go along with it. Unfortunately, all the ideas I’ve come across so far are for older kids. I’m going to keep searching. Send me any ideas you have!

Tissue Paper Butterflies

These are our most recent addition. I could have done them for free, except I saw that cute polka dot paper at the store and splurged the $1.50.  We cut tissue paper into roughly 12 inch x 8 inch rectangles. Honestly, I just cut along the folds in the paper. The we layered three sheets on top of one another and pinched them together down the middle. A clothes pin holds it all together, and voila, a butterfly!  Evie drew faces on each of them and I used fishing line to hang them from the ceiling.  I meant to add pipe cleaner antenna, but forgot. Maybe we’ll come back and add them. All you would do is bend a piece of pipe cleaner into a V, bend or tie off the tips to make a ball then clamp it with the clothes pin. We have a ceiling fan right next to this wall, so the butterflies get to flutter around all day.

Handprints

At Christmas time, JoAnn had a super sale on packs of canvases. I bought a 10 pack of 8×10′s and I could not be happier that I did. I’ve used them to mount pictures and for hand print art! I even have some wall decor ideas for Reuben’s room I’m going to use them for. Evangeline liked doing the hand prints best because I let her look through Pinterest with me and help pick out which ones we were going to make. Plus, she got to paint.

The butterflies I did two Christmases ago with Evangeline and Felicity’s feet– I was making it for a gift and messed up so I kept it for myself ;). The other three we made this year: Evangeline’s hand for the Very Hungry Caterpillar (don’t paint their thumb!), Reuben and Felicity’s feet for the bumble bee and lady bug (draw in the black parts after they dry, I didn’t want to use black paint in fear that it wouldn’t easily come off their little feet) and finally all three of their hands for the flowers. Reuben did better with feet prints than hand prints ha ha.

I like doing these on the canvases rather than on construction paper because I plan to keep them and bring them out again each year. Now that they are completely dry, I will seal them all with ModPodge to further help them last. I am still deciding if I should color in around the flowers more or just leave them on a white back ground.

For the “Spring” banner, I used poster board and cut out the pendants, then wrote in the letters and colored the green on the bottom. I let the girls loose with crayons to fill in the rest, then taped them to a piece of scrap ribbon I had. I had a lot of other ideas for this, but went the simplest route. Maybe for summer or fall when Evie’s practicing writing, she can write the letters, or let them use finger paints to really have fun.

So that’s what we’ve been up to over here when we’re not soaking up as much sunshine as possible. I’m really hoping to keep this up and change it out each season. It seems like a fun way to introduce art to the kids as well as learning about the seasons and holidays.

Just another week to get my “lesson plans” ready for Holy Week! Do you have any traditions you do with your kids to teach them about Easter?

First Quarter Book Report — An Ode to the Audiobook

April 1, 2014 by

Well, we’re three months past the new year, time for a reading goal update. There’s just no way to sugar coat it, I’m not doing so well. I started off strong, but as Ryan’s vacation days grew further and further apart and as baby Genevieve started taking more and more of my brain power, I’m barely left the wherewithal to read the cooking instructions on frozen pizza.

Of course the greatest irony of being both pregnant and a parent to small children is that I spend all day tired but can’t sleep at night. I try not to watch movies or be on the computer late because it seems to keep me up longer, but I rarely have the energy or focus to read anymore. The last four books I’ve “read” were audiobooks. They’ve been a great solution to the problem of wanting to read but not having the mental energy to do so. And I have to say, it’s the most peaceful way to fall asleep. Thank goodness for  the sleep timer.

The downside, however, is that I am cheap and don’t want to pay for each audiobook I read. I have an Overdrive account set up through my local library which I enjoy and they indeed have a wide selection. Unfortunately, I can’t always find specific books I’m looking for, and unlike print books, I can’t request inner-library loans. To make the search selection slimmer, I’ve only really been able to handle listening to fiction. While I enjoy reading non-fiction, I have a harder time consuming them via audiobook. Maybe I just need to keep trying.

On to the actual report. To date, I’ve read 8 books, only one of which is on my Southern to-read list for the year, Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor.  I just found Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find (and other stories) and The Moviegoer by Walker Percy on audiobook, so I should be able to check those off my list soon.

I have read one non-fiction, Get Me Out: A History of Birth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank  by Randi Hunter Epstein. I thoroughly enjoyed this cursory overview and was tickled to see the Wertzes in her bibliography. It was gratifying to come across information with which I was already familiar while also expanding my understanding and learning new opinions. I am still very much interested in birth history and hope to keep adding to my book repertoire after my pregnancy brain lets up a little — oh sweet irony. It has also given me a lot to think about in regards to what is considered a woman’s “right”. Maybe I’ll post more on that when I’m ready to poke a hornets nest.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep on keeping on with my audiobooks and hope my brain hasn’t turn to complete mush by the time I have a new newborn. We’ll see!

Make Way for Baby: Phase One Continued

March 27, 2014 by

A month ago, I posted about our preparations for new baby (who we now know is Genevieve). We’ve made some more progress! Phase one mostly consists of super organization. We need to first have room for all people and the stuff already in our house before adding another baby and her stuff.

Our house is plenty spacious, we only need to make better use of the space we have. This has become my mantra lately to keep me from complaining about this wonderful and more than adequate house we just bought. My dad generously donated his time and master carpenter skills to our cause and spent an evening bettering our hall closet and the closet in what is now Reuben’s room.

Our hall closet was pretty bare bones — a single shelf above a closet rod. As to be expected, it became a catch-all for stuff that didn’t have another place to go. After our great toy purge at Christmas, I organized the kids’ toys into boxes and store them in the hall closet. It’s a system that’s worked great and has simplified our lives. However, it takes up a lot of space. Not to mention all the other hall closet type items that need storing. This is what we were looking at before building in shelves:

Hall Closet Before

My dad added a shelf above the top shelf, and three below. We had room for a fourth, but I wanted to leave a taller space at the bottom for things like our vacuum cleaner.  There is still a second step that we’re waiting on. I want to be able to hang our brooms and mops on the inside of the door. While they are not significantly heavy it will require a little creativity to hang them on the hollow core door. Nonetheless, the closet is vastly improved and much much more useful!  The new and improved closet looks like this:

Hall Closet After

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Reuben’s closet was also simply a single shelf above a single closet rod. Since this room was originally our study (RIP beloved study) the closet was stacked to the ceiling with storage boxes. A significant amount of nesting energy went into clearing out that closet to make room for baby stuff. We added a shelf above the existing one and wrapped it around on end. We also added onto the original shelf to wrap it around the same end. What a difference! I’m still deliberating if I want to add more shelving to the top and\or a second closet rod. Right now, I’m moving in everything that needs to be in there. Once that’s all settled, I hope to better be able to tell what is needed, if anything. I do know that I want to add some pegs on the left hand wall to hang Reuben’s growing flat cap collection. I didn’t have time to “stage” the pictures, sorry. You’re getting the real life look at things.

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We’ve been able to cross off a few more things from our list (we added one thing, just so we could cross it off). Ryan’s big boy dresser finally arrived. We set it up in our room and moved the one he was using into Reuben and Genevieve’s room. We also built in a mail organizer in the kitchen, which I posted about before.  One more big project, then I think we’ll be finished with construction and can move onto bed shuffling. But that’s phase two which won’t start until after Reuben and Felicity’s birthdays in May. Until then, I still have a lot of boxes to sort through.

Phase One To-Do List:

  • move bookshelves to master bedroom
  • move changing table to Reuben’s room
  • set up children’s library
  • install shelves in hall closet
  • install shelf in Reuben’s closet
  • move chest of drawers to Reuben’s room

and just for fun:

The Gifts That Keep On Giving

March 24, 2014 by

I wrote at Christmas how excited we were for some “experience” type gifts our kids received. These were gifts beyond toys or clothes that would continue to offer new experiences for the kids all year. I’ve already written extensively (obsessively?) about the Kiwi Crate subscription Evangeline was given. We finally had the chance to use another of their “experience” presents — family membership to the Louisiana Arts and Science Museum!

We had to drop Ryan off at work this past Friday, which left the kids and I with the car and a wide open day ahead of us. I decided to use the day to take them all to the museum. If only I knew Friday was Sesame Street Live day downtown. Oops.

After parking a good deal further from the museum than I expected, the kids weren’t too interested in pursuing the exhibits. We went straight to the toddler play area instead. I didn’t have to explain to them what to do. Evangeline and Felicity ran straight in, took a few laps around to survey then dove deep in the huge play kitchen.

Day at the Museum

Reuben even got in on the fun. The girls must have played with everything in there twice. I could barely drag them out of there an hour later, even with promises of lunch. We walked to the planetarium side, but were bombarded again by a few school groups, so we didn’t get to see too much. However, that just means we have more things to explore next time we go!

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When I finally got them out of the museum, we walked up to the top of the levee to see the river. Evangeline was more interested in the water fountain and Felicity in the ducks than the majesty of the Mighty Mississippi, but, hey, they saw it.

We ended the day with a corn dog at Frost Top before finally heading home for communal nap time. It was a beautiful day filled with fun memories and new experiences. Evangeline is already asking to go back, and I’ve marked some of the special events coming up at the museum on our calendar. Although this was our first trip, I can tell we are going to get a lot of use out of this gift!

Day at the Museum II

Gender Reveal Crafts

March 20, 2014 by

We got our computer back, which for me, means that I can make fun photo collages again. For you, it means I can post more fully about our gender reveal!

I mentioned before that I decided to tack on a gender reveal to our annual St. Joseph’s Altar.  I didn’t want it to be a big deal, but after spending an afternoon on Pinterest, well, it kinda grew. I added these features to our Altar celebrations:

  • Photo Booth
  • Tally Board and Name Tags
  • Gender Reveal Cake Balls

Gender Reveal Photo Booth

This was a lot of fun to put together and surprisingly not that expensive. I raided our Dollar Store for pretty  much everything we used. I used 4 vinyl table cloths — two pink, two blue — to make the back drop. Painter’s tape worked well for a while, but ultimately we used thumb tacks to keep them up. I set up two baskets with props to use in the pictures. The idea was that people could dress up with pink or blue and take a picture showing they guess the baby is. I used poster board and wrote signs to hold up “it’s a girl” and “it’s a boy”. From the Dollar Store, I had mustaches, pink crowns and the like to make the pictures fun.

Gender Reveal Tally Board

This, again, cost little money. I used an old Plexiglas frame. tissue paper, a dry erase marker and poster board. I crumpled up the tissue paper in the frame, then used a dry erase marker to write on the outside. After the party, I took the paper out, erased the writing and the frame was back to normal. I set the board up at the door with our guest book for people to sign the guest book then mark which gender they guessed. After they voted, they could wear a pink bow or blue tie on their lapel for the rest of the party. I used poster board and free-handed my own stencil– I intentionally chose simple shapes– for the bow and tie tags. If you were wanting to be really fancy, you could print out a stencil or use a silhouette.

Gender Reveal Cake Ball

For the big moment, we chose cake balls. There are a lot of different announcement ideas floating around. This one was fun and simple ( at least for me ha!) My cousin offered to make the cake balls for us.  She made two elaborate and adorable rattle cake balls for Ryan and I to announce with, then about two dozen simpler ones to share.

It certainly made for a sweet and fun reveal. Hosting this party went a long way in helping me celebrate this pregnancy rather than focusing on the necessary to-do’s that must be done before she’s born. No doubt, this is a tiring phase of life for me, but things like a gender reveal party are helping me to enjoy it!

Drum Roll Please

March 17, 2014 by

Baby Carruth #4 is….

A GIRL!

We revealed on Sunday that we are having another baby girl. Our third daughter will be named Genevieve Rose and is expected to arrive in July. We are excited to add another girl to our family. So far, the girls we have are dynamic and delightful. We’re a little sad for Reuben, but I’ve no doubt that these sisters are going to make a wonderful man out of him. Evangeline is excited. She’s the only one who understands what’s going on and every day she tells me she’s picked a new name for the baby (usually it’s “Evangeline”). She’s drawing pictures of the baby and keeps asking if it’s summer yet. She’s our sweet mother hen and I know she’s going to enjoy having another baby chick to take care of. I’m excited to have another baby girl to wear all the adorable dresses and outfits I’ve stored away!

As a part of our Saint Joseph’s Altar (which I’m planning to post on separately), we did a gender reveal. By the time the fourth baby comes around, public excitement is pretty much depleted. I thought hosting a gender reveal party would be a fun way to celebrate this special new life. I spent an afternoon on Pinterest and all of a sudden, our routine St. Joseph’s Altar plans more than doubled. My computer is down for the time being, so I’m without my photo editing program. Here are some of the ideas we used for our gender reveal, sorry I can’t make the pictures more “fun”

Photo Booth: Guests took pictures decked out in blue or pink to visualize their “guess”

Photo Booth

Tally Board and Lapel Pins — Guests marked their vote for boy or girl, then chose a pink bow or blue tie to wear for the party.

Tally Board

Gender Reveal Cake Balls — If ever there were a more Pinterest-perfect phrase! To announce the final reveal, Ryan and I took a bite out of a cake ball revealing PINK!

Gender Reveal Cake Balls

It was a very fun day filled with good food, family and friends. Thanks to everyone who came out with their guesses and their congratulations and humored me with all my party gimicks. Genevieve is certainly entering a warm and welcoming world!

Back Door Roller Shade — Update

March 12, 2014 by

I mentioned yesterday that I used some left over fabric from my back door shade in our new kitchen mail holder. That reminded me that I never updated about some of the improvements I my mom made to the roller shade.

We’ve had the shade up for about four months now, and it gets pulled up and down daily. The adhesive was holding up well along the side edges. But along the bottom, it’s as though it never really stuck in the first place and always came loose. Also, since I used two different fabrics on the shade, the seam where they met eventually loosened and the bottom panel started to sag.

Every time my mom came over she’d ask “what can we do about that shade?” I’m sure it was a subtle “hey, that looks rough, you should fix it” but I never got around to it. I planned to re-spray the adhesive and try sticking it all back again. After about 2 months of fruitless suggestions, my mom took the shade home with her one day and fixed it all up pretty.

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I found the striped ribbon at JoAnn and it matched the greys in the fabrics perfectly. My mom used double stick fabric tape on the fabric and the ribbon, then covered the seam. Essentially, she did the same on the back. She used a narrower white ribbon to cover and anchor the edges of the fabric to the vinyl shade. Overall it looks more finished and all of it seems to have better staying power. I’ve had it back up for about a week, pulling it up and down almost daily, and everything is still where it should be.

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Covering the vinyl shade with fabric was a simple and inexpensive idea. Spray adhesive worked well keeping the body of the fabric attached. I’m sure if I had just used one piece of fabric, besides two, I wouldn’t have had a problem. It seems though, that the spray adhesive works loose along the edges easily. Doubling up with fabric tape and ribbon seem to re-enforce it enough to hold everything in place. Details of how I initially covered the vinyl shade, as well as the pricing found here.

Kitchen Advances

March 11, 2014 by

The kitchen is the most dated room in our house. We have good, functional appliances. The floors and walls are in tact, albeit in a high 1980′s style. The cabinets are solid wood and in great shape. The pantry and additional cabinets the previous owners added in are cheap and laminate, but also functional. There is no urgency to change anything in our kitchen, besides asthetics. The only things we’ve changed so far, are the ceiling light fixtures and the window curtains.

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That being said, I want to change all the things!! I have an extensive and comprehensive list of changes I would love to make (complete with drawings). In addition to painting and updating what’s already in place, I also have some built-in pieces I would love to have. Caught up in the pre-baby preparation energy, my dad has started building in some of the big changes we wanted to make!!

I’m going to keep the biggest item on the to-do list a secret for right now, because that’s my prerogative ;) But I’m really excited to show you what we’ve been working on. The plan is to have this corner cleared out — no cabinet, no shelf.

Big Changes in Progress

Big Changes in Progress

We already have big plans in the works of what will replace this set up, but first I had to find new places for all the stuff that gets dumped right there: mail, keys, pens. It’s your general drop-all spot. At first I thought by removing the flat surface we would be forced to mend our cluttery ways. Let’s be realistic though, that’s a habit that’s not going to change. So I needed another way to accommodate mail, keys and general miscellany of daily life. Walking around World Market (which I love!), I came across this dandy:

While it isn’t exactly my decor style, the idea was spot on. I mentioned the idea to my dad as a possible solution.

And so it was!

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My dad made a 20.5 “x 20″x 10″ box with a shelf run running the full width. The bottom cavity is divided into 5 cubbies. It was only after my dad firmly and perminatly attached the back that I thought to myself “wait, how am I going to paint that??” I had to get a little creative. Ultimately… it was good enough. You know what I’m talking about. The cubbies are used as mail slots, so you won’t really see inside each one anyways, and, hey, just don’t look that close.

For the back of the large cavity, I had the idea to use some of the scrap fabric I had left over from my back door roller shade. Originally I planned to use spray adhesive to glue the fabric directly to the wood, which seemed like it would be tricky to do since the back was already glued on. Then my mom gave me the idea to cover a piece of cardboard cut to the right size and attached the cardboard to the back. It was so much simpler, plus gives a much cleaner look than I would have otherwise been able to do. The cardboard I cut fit snuggly into the space. After I covered it with fabric, it fit so tightly that I ended up not attaching it at all with staples or tacks.

Never Short on Cardboard Around Here

Never Short on Cardboard Around Here

I found the label card holders at JoAnn in the scrapbook section. There were so many great ones online, but they were all too big for what I needed. These scrapbook ones are perfect. We also added hooks along the bottom for keys, purses etc.

Before

Before

After

After

It’s such a great addition!! It’s functional and accommodates all of our daily coming and goings. And it’s also attractive and organizes all of our clutter! The only problem so far is that we have to re-train ourselves not to hit our head on it when we throw something away in the trash can below it. So far I’m bruise free, but I can’t say the same for Ryan’s forehead. In a few weeks I’m sure we’ll be used to it. But head’s up to any visitors!

This Sunday is our St. Joseph Altar and Gender Reveal. We went Friday for *the* sonogram. Baby looks healthy and was wiggling up a storm. Evangeline got a kick out of seeing all the pictures. Everything she saw on the screen, she said was baby’s mouth. Baby waved to us at one point, and Evie waved back! Spring is coming fast, and we’ll be very busy, but stay tuned for more baby prep updates around the house!

Get Your Gender Votes In!

March 6, 2014 by

Tomorrow is the day we find out if we’re having a Mister Baby or a Miss Baby. The news will be announced Sunday March 16 at our Gender Reveal and St. Joseph’s Altar. But get your votes in now!

Stick Family Cropped

For those of you wanting to use science to make an answer, here are some facts:

  • We’ve proven we can make both girl babies and boy babies
  • My skin and hair are acting like they did when I was carrying Reuben
  • My stomach is acting like it did when I was carrying Evangeline and Felicity
  • At 9 weeks, baby’s heart rate was at the higher end and at 18 weeks it was at the lower end of the scale
  • IT IS NOT TWINS

So Vote!


Kimberly

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