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Painted mushrooms

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My best friend gave me a photo as a house warming present:

The mushroom looks like a rose… do you see it? She sells her photos–many of which are nature–on Artfire, among other places. I chose this picture out of the many available. I don’t know why. Something just drew me to it.

That small act along with my love of nature photos, pressings and the like led me to ask another friend for a picture of a mushroom she took. Add in seeing an article in Cosmo about picture groupings on walls, and the inspiration for a mushroom wall grouping was born. (Don’t judge. I don’t typically read Cosmo… I have to read it for work.)

I didn’t want it to be all photos though, so I started searching for other options. Perhaps a plate? Perhaps a cross-stitch hoop? One day when I was at Michael’s looking at clearance cross-stitch kits and generally wandering around, I came across these tree sections:

They looked like the perfect canvas for painted, whimsical mushroom scenes. So, I bought them along with some paints and went home to do a Google image search. I decided on two images.

(Mushroom images found at SunshowerStudio Etsy shop. I should note that I don’t advocate stealing other people’s work and especially not for monetary gain.)

I printed the pictures out and traced over them with a ballpoint pen to create lines on the tree section.

Then, I painted to my little heart’s content, mixing colors to make just the hues I wanted. I installed picture hooks to the back and then we were all done!

(I took these on my phone, so I can’t get the green one to rotate.) I’m obviously not the greatest artist ever, but I like the way these turned out. I wanted them to be kind of “amateur” and totally accomplished that. I really think if I hadn’t put the leaves in the picture I would be happier with the pictures. But I’m still happy.

I still need two more photos of mushrooms. Plus, a mushroom plate. And then, my mushroom wall will be complete!

Owl Masks

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Shopping at Michael’s one Saturday morning, I found these masks:

Owl masks

For $1 and a little painting time, I could make cute, fun playthings for my niece and nephew (currently 3 and almost 1, respectively). I couldn’t resist! If you’re looking for a fun project for you–or to do with your kids–these are available in an aisle full of wooden objects like this. Frog masks, pinwheels and wands are just a few of the other objects available.

My niece is very, very girly. For her 3rd birthday in February, I sent a tutu to her in Ohio, and I’ve seen it crop up in tons of pictures my sister-in-law has posted on Facebook. To be honest, I’m a little worried about her love affair with pink EVERYTHING, so I’ve been trying to branch out a bit, but still give her presents in colors she’d like. The tutu is purple, so I decided to paint her owl purple, too.

Purple owl maskBlue owl mask

 

 

I used four colors of purple acrylic craft paint (available at any craft store, priced about $1 each), and silver for the beak and around the eyes of my niece’s owl (on the left). Three colors of blue paint decorate my nephew’s owl mask. (If you notice, on my nephew’s mask the feet are also silver. I like that look better.)

 

These are slated for ages 3 and up, but I think that’s more of an interest thing that a danger thing. I’m hoping to encourage them toward creative play, so I’m loving these masks! I don’t want to get on a soapbox, but the gist is this: I dislike commercialism. I think it’s almost impossible to find any toys for children that don’t have licensed characters (Elmo, Barbie, Disney princesses, Cars, etc.) on them. So, I end up searching for months for presents that fit my criteria in places like Etsy and other handmade marketplaces. Or, I make items. I’m always looking for children’s project ideas, so if you’ve got one, send it my way!

Done: A dining table

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I painted this table white last year, and then I bought chairs that didn’t match. (In my defense, I bought the chairs online. I wasn’t sure if they were white or…. not. They’re not.)

This photo is what the table looked like when I was in the process of making it white. I stupidly didn’t take an “after” picture of that, which also would have served as a “before” picture for this re-project.

First, my husband, Josh, and I used a chemical stripper to remove as much paint and finish as possible. We were lucky because I’d actually left the original finish intact and just primed and painted over it when I’d first made the table white. Chemical stripper only gets you so far, though, and after that, you’re on your own with sandpaper. And oh, the months of sanding. Finally, the table was ready:

I chose a stain called “red mahogany” to try to match the reddish color of the chair legs.

Two coats of stain and four coats of polyurethane finish later, we moved the table into the house to see how the chairs would look with it in the room. *Fingers crossed!*

Ta-da! The stain matched so well, and I was really pleased with the results. Pardon my still-unfinished room. I did have a white dresser on the far wall, but after the table remodel, I decided to move it to another place in the room. The mosaic mirror (which is next on my list…. I did some work on it recently) will go on that big, blank wall. I also am in the process of hanging curtains and picking some other furniture. (For those interested, the chairs are from Target.)

Home projects to do

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1. The table. My husband, Josh, and I got this bad boy in January 2007 when I moved to LA from Minnesota. Josh’s friend Scott knew somebody who was getting rid of it, and when I showed up in LA, there it was.

I disliked it. When we bought our house in March 2010, we discussed leaving it behind. Two things saved it: 1. It’s solid wood. 2. It has some character. And so, it traveled across the city to the suburbs in our Uhaul and made its home in our garage while I transformed it from wood to white.

Then, last November, I FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY bought some dining room chairs. One problem. Of course. They’re off-white fabric (I couldn’t tell for sure when I purchased) and clashed with the chairs. So, after Christmas dinner, the table made its way back to the garage (and by that, I mean Josh and I carried this sonofabitch–it’s got to weigh at least 100 pounds–out the door and into the garage). We opted to sand, restain and refinish it in a reddish hue to match the chair legs.

2. The hallway. After the bank approved our short-sale offer, I had this stupendous idea that stenciling a room in a damask print would be so, so cool. I have a friend from HS who had done it to a room in her apartment and posted to Facebook.

I wanted this. I tried to not be so ambitious (read: I’m lazy), so I opted to do it to our entry hallway.

I bought the stencil on Etsy before we ever moved. I was laid off, I found a new job, I started other projects and this one didn’t take off. I’ve done two panels.

3. The chair. Do you read All Things Thrifty? What? You don’t. Oh, you should. The site’s led me to believe I could totally reupholster a chair. But I didn’t really want to buy a chair to test the theory. So, when I saw an armless easy chair sitting in front of a neighbor’s house (the style I wanted!), of course I had to con my friend into helping me carry it home. Didn’t I? My idea is to refinish it in a sage or avocado-hued vinyl.

4. The roman shades. Most of the windows in our house have custom blinds. That’s great and all, except some of them don’t. One of the main ones that creates a problem is the window in the master bedroom facing the street. Our first night in the house, Josh and I taped wrapping paper over it. Guess what? The wrapping paper’s still there. Melding two different styles into one house has been a challenge, but one thing we’ve agreed on is clean lines and low clutter, so we didn’t really want to do blinds/curtains (plus, some windows in that room have blinds and some don’t, so we’d have to buy new custom made ones for every window). I volunteered to make roman shades. It’s been a long process of buying materials–including this IKEA fabric and black-out lining–and figuring out how to do it. Just recently, I ran across a simpler technique (I can’t find it again) for a design using a dowel rod and hooks and eyes… I decided to switch to this approach.

5. The mirror. I wanted this mirror from CB2. But let’s face it. I really want four of them, all put together. I definitely don’t want to spend $600. And so, the idea for the tiled mirror happened. I bought a 24″x48″ board.

 

6. The mushroom wall. Oh, the mushroom grouping in my hallway. Yes, I *am* obsessed with mushrooms. My best friend, Tasha, gave me this picture as a house-warming present. And so, I purchased a frame and hung it up. But it looked lonely. So, then another friend showed me a picture she’d take of a mushroom. And an idea was born. She gave me a photo for my birthday this year. A few days after that, I spent some time at Michaels plotting what else I wanted to put on the wall. Currently, I need to paint mushroom designs on two tree cross-sections I bought. And then I need to hang them up. I also need two more photos of mushrooms. Plus, a mushroom plate. Then, my mushroom wall will be complete.

7. The pressed flowers. Opposite my mushroom wall, I plan to have other nature-theme photos and items. One element is pressed flowers. I pressed some last year, but I need to put them in their frames. And decide what else is going there.

8. The side tables. After reading a post on Design*Sponge, I decided I MUST have these tables. I have a mostly unfurnished living room (not to be confused with my family room, which is furnished) and I’ve decided to make two of these for that room. Now, if only I could procure a couple of logs from a person on Craigslist giving away firewood. I’ve emailed a few, but I’m convinced they think I’m crazy.

 

Hello, world.

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Last week, I was in my boss’ office with another colleague. The colleague was talking about painting a Union Jack design on her toenails and asked me if I think it’s possible (backstory: I work at a trade publication covering the nail industry). I answered in the affirmative. She laughed and asked my boss if I think everything’s possible. My boss: “Pretty much. And to date, she’s been right.”

Compliments are a powerful motivator. In the past week, four people have told me I should have a blog. And here we are.

I approach home projects, crafts, sewing, altering clothing and everything else in life with the idea that I can always do them. I think everything’s possible until I’m proven otherwise. Still, I’ll try it twice to make sure it wasn’t just a fluke that I failed the first time.