Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Finished Gallery Wall

Should I be ashamed that it took me 9 months to finally finish my gallery wall? I mean all I had to do was fill in the frames with pictures. You would think because I am a photographer that the simple task of putting up a picture or two would have been easy, but no...I literally filled in the last picture frame this morning. And as sad as that is, I have new pictures of each child to put up again. SIGH....

If you missed how to make your own gallery wall for a small space you can check out the original post here.

So here is what it looked like when I first started.
And finally here is the AFTER now that it is all full.
Here is the top half.........

 .....and the bottom half........

 And finally the finished wall. 
It is nice to have a space for some of my obsessions- my kiddos, trees, and quotes.

It really makes such an impact in such a small and narrow hallway!
I love looking at it!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Corner Hutch Gone Fabulous

My husband and I have four kids, four rabbits, twenty-five chickens, and two cats.

We also own a 2-bedroom house that is 1400 square feet and was built in 1915.

You can go ahead and feel sorry for me . . . I don't.

Our oldest son makes his bedroom in the short-ceilinged basement with the food storage and seasonal items.  Our other three share the "big" bedroom (about 28 feet by 12 feet) and my husband and I take the small bedroom (10 feet by 12 feet).  We love love LOVE our small house.  It's cute and cozy, and, best of all, there is a finite amount of space--we can only own so much stuff and we consider this a huge blessing.  (Plus, not to brag, we have a big ol' honkin' yard).

However, because there is limited space . . . if I ever get something for my house, it has to be one of two things: beautiful, or useful.  This corner hutch happens to be both.

I'll have to figure out what to put on the bottom two
shelves that my 13-month-old won't scatter everywhere
My totally awesome friend Meg GAVE this hutch to me . . . because generous is her middle name.  She refurbishes and sells furniture, and she could give my sisters a run for their money with her interior designer skills.  Check out Meg Torman Designing.  She's beyond compare.  She had used this hutch for her boys' room, then painted it turquoise to go with a bedroom set that she was gonna sell.  I happened to be over at her house during the height of her cleaning-out-the-garage pique . . . and she told me to take it.

Did. I. Ever.

I knew the perfect place for it, and I knew the perfect use for it: 1- dining room, 2- craft supplies. BOOM.

Before . . . 
My sweet safety-goggles-wearing husband went to town sanding
it for me (he wore the goggles using the belt sander)
Sanded and ready to paint!  I sprayed white spray-
paint in all the hard-to-get cracks before using a
paintbrush and an indoor satin white paint 
Coat number one . . . 
Three coats later . . . I can't decide whether or
not to put that little door back on the bottom shelf
I sprayed a coat of polyurethane on it before
bringing it inside, so it won't get tacky.  I also totally
anchored it to the wall, because that's how I roll.
Crayons in a wide-mouthed mixing bowl ($1.50 at the D.I.)
for Miss Mollie's easy access
Scissors and glue sticks in a cookie jar ($1)
Colored pencils in a retro quart pitcher (also $1)
Watercolor markers in a sweet triangular jar with
a cork lid ($2), baby colored pencils in a baby jam
jar (leftover from a yummy, homemade Christmas gift)
I love how it turned out: it takes up so little space, but still dresses up the dining room, adds a splash of color, and makes it so I never have to get craft supplies from the cupboard again.  In short, the perfect piece of furniture.

Now I can enjoy masterpieces like this on a daily basis.  (Notice the "M-O-M" just under Diego's backpack?  Yeah, this was multi-colored just for me).

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Patio Decor: Geography in Your Own Backyard

I have been waiting for this moment since I first gave birth eleven years ago . . . My son is in fifth grade.  And he is learning STATES AND CAPITALS!!!!!

Finally.  My area of expertise.

Of course I love maps (who doesn't?).  One of the first purchases I made for our first apartment was a laminated world map and United States map.  Later, I bought an actual roll-down map of North America off Ebay (I gave it to my sister Hanna when I had to build bookshelves in the only feasible place in my entire house that this map would fit . . . but that's a story for another time).  And my favorite way to wrap presents is with map-paper from old road atlases (check out the post I did here about it).  One of my favorite gifts my husband ever got for me (in 2005) was this geography coloring book, after he watched me print out maps from the Internet and spend hours coloring and labeling them.

But only having a fifth grader could prompt me to do what I have dreamed of doing since having my own home: painting a map of the United States on my very own concrete patio.  Oh yeah!  One week later, and I finally have the energy to blog about it.

I tried to "freehand" an outline of the US of A with chalk just by looking at the map in my atlas.  Um, yeah, Texas was even bigger and freakier-shaped than usual, and Maine and Florida belonged where Newfoundland and Cuba belong, respectively.

My "canvas"--the concrete patio on the back of our house.
Poor Calvin got to watch the entire two-hour process . . .
So I had to do it a real way.  I carefully drew a grid of chalk on my back patio.  It was thirteen, 1-foot spaces wide by six, 1-foot-4-inch spaces long.  And I even made the longitudinal lines get bigger as they went South . . . the better to represent the curvature of the earth, yo.

Totally set the timer and took this picture of myself . . . shameful
It took me about twenty minutes to lay out the grid.

That bowl has a wet rag in it so I could "erase" my mistakes
Then I began to work on the states with chalk.  The same way as reading: left to right, top to bottom (Only I actually went top to bottom, then left to right.  The West Coast must be chalked first).  That took an hour and a half.  Whew.  (The next day, I felt like I had done a thousand squats . . . as I very well may have done).

The West . . . like you've never seen it before 
All the easy, big states . . . 
I ended up using both atlases (one for kids and one for grownups)
because one had better longitude / latitude lines, and the
other had better outlines of the states themselves
When I finally had the whole thing done, I was so excited to start spray-painting.  "WAIT!"  You're thinking.  "Spraypaint?"  Unfortunately, my brain never told me that it might not be a good idea, because spraypaint is 1) fast, 2) cheap, and 3) lasts forever on concrete, as the many "project-spots" on my back patio can attest to.

Here goes.

I wanted to CRY after I sprayed the first couple states.  I worked so hard chalking the California coastline!  And now it just looked all  . . . spray-painty.  It was not as pretty and perfect as the chalk!

I stood for a while with the can in hand, like a vandal who can't decide which swear-word to graffito on the side of a box car in the dead of night when the only emotions she can conjure up are angst and rebellion . . . and I finally decided the same thing that said vandal would decide: go ahead and finish.

And I'm so glad I did!  It actually turned out to look pretty good.  Kind of stylized.  At the very last minute, I remembered Alaska and Hawaii, so I spent another twenty minutes chalking those two and then painting them (I actually left out the skinny strip of Alaska that butts up against British Columbia.  C'est la vie.)

Now, time to help Truman become around-the-world champion of his fifth grade class.  {If they still play around-the-world.  Did any of you play it?  My fifth grade teacher, Mr. Wood, gave king-size candy bars to anyone who made it all the way around the classroom . . . ah, those were my days of glory.}