Monday, July 30, 2012

Fighting Perfectionism: One Homemade Card at a Time!

If you were my friend, and you had a birthday, chances are you would NOT get a fancy homemade card from me. And not just because I just don’t consider myself a scrapbook-y, paper-crafty type of person. :/ I’d just much rather spend my time, money, and effort on the gift itself—which I carefully select according to your tastes, collections, and any little desire you might have ever mentioned!

But the card? Well, since chances are it will end up in the garbage between one minute to one week from when you open it, I’d much rather scour the Hallmark shelves to find the perfect sentiment—that someone else has already spent hours dreaming up, designing, and printing on fancy paper!
Okay, let’s rewind that. (Insert sound of record rewinding) To be totally truthful, my biggest problem with making homemade cards/gifts is that dreaded “P” word: PERFECTIONISM! I am never satisfied enough with the mediocre results of my handiwork to be willing to present it to someone else!
Now you might not be able to tell this from the condition of my house some(or most) of the time, but when it comes to things that will be seen by/shown to others (including this blog!), I have a hard time with wanting everything to be JUST RIGHT before I can share it with everyone.
Maybe I should start a club… “Hi, my name is Kathryn, and I’m a perfectionist!”

As you can see, I love to pile on the patterns—each card has no less than three different patterned papers involved! The “Friends” card was for a sweet friend from church, and I love the fresh, youthful feel with the stripes and flowers. :)

But when two friends came over to celebrate their birthdays the same evening, AND I couldn’t make it to town to get a card (AND I didn’t have an extra arm-and-leg to buy them), I had to learn to squelch my inner “Martha-Stewart-wannabe”and be content with making them!

Though I’m not a scrapbooker at the moment (I don’t have enough time or space to spread everything out and “scrapbook it right”— I know, more perfectionism…), I do have a LOT of scrapbook stuff! (acquired BK [Before Kids]—back when I did have the time and space!) So all I had to do was dig through my stash and grab a bunch of semi-coordinating stuff, then spread it all out and see what looked good together!

The “Imagine” card was for our “church grandma” (a sweet elderly lady who has “adopted” our kids—or is it they who adopted her?), so I tried for a slightly more old-fashioned feel. Hence, the vintage-y flower “fairy”stickers and the floral photo corners on the frame…

The whole card-making process ended up taking several hours, but I had to finally force myself to be satisfied with the results—mostly because our guests were due to arrive any second! As I’m coming to realize, the whole “perfectionism”thing is based on another “P” word: PRIDE. Wanting everyone to think that I’m a miniature “Martha Stewart”, that every craft I touch and every project I make turns out flawlessly and effortlessly perfect, is NOT a good motive for doing things, and only leads to defeat and frustration! Meaning I end up feeling like this:

So while I still want to do things the absolute best that I can, I’m coming to realize that perfection is NOT attainable—OR expected! Yes, it’s good to do your best whenever you work on a project, but not for your “reputation’s sake”... “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or WHATSOEVER YE DO, do ALL to the glory of God.”(Ecclesiastes 9:10a, I Corinthians 10:31)

No, I’m not Martha Stewart… or Karianne,Kim,or Abbie… But if one project I make or card I give puts a little more heart into the world and a smile on someone’s face, then I’ll be happy.

And so I work on licking my perfectionism—one homemade card at a time!

P.S. My entry into Overflowing with Creativity at It’s Overflowing is sponsored by Appliances Online and their Best Freezers!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Kids' Beachy Rocking Chair

Whew! What a week! I feel so bad for not having posted since last Monday… but I don’t regret a week away from everything with my sweetheart :) Hubby and I actually got to have an entire week of just the two of us—without kiddos! Woohoo! They went to Grandma’s while we took our church youth group to a Christian teen conference, and then went to my brother’s wedding! This is the first time we’ve been away from them for more than a day… but we had a blast anyway :)

Remember in my last post (about my beloved Union Jacques) I told you I had finished three projects in one day? Well, I’ve been dying to show you the other ones… So here’s Project #2!

The grandparents had bought my kiddos a pair of these little rockers for Christmas two years ago... and they had definitely seen better days! One chair was broken beyond repair, so I disassembled it and stashed the parts for a future project (shhhhh... Don’t tell my husband!) ;) The other chair was still in pretty sad shape. One of the chair slats was broken off, and the shiny paint finish was chipped and peeling.

Because of the oiliness of the finish, I wasn’t sure whether regular paint would even stick to it or not. So I grabbed my trusty standby: CHALK PAINT! (The leftovers from my console table project—it stores very well in a sealed Tupperware container… just add a tad more water when you’re ready to use it again!)

I literally painted this fella on my kitchen counter, right before bed-time! :) It took two coats to completely cover the red, but it did the job! (So far, this chalk paint has lived up to its “stick-to-anything” reputation—I tell you, I’m addicted to this stuff!) It still looked like it was missing something, though… and literally in my sleep that night, I realized what it needed! (Anyone else dream about their projects… or am I the only crazy/obsessed one?)

I sanded the chalk paint smooth, then taped off the two center slats, and a matching stripe on the chair back and front. (Sorry, no measuring here, either… I am a proud member of the Eyeball-It-All-the-Way Club!) I also taped off the round ball finials on the top. Then I dry-brushed them in with regular semi-gloss white paint, to create a slightly-worn, intentionally imperfect, beachy stripe!

Doesn’t it look like it belongs on the porch of a beach or lakefront cottage?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Meet Union Jacques!

Soooo, once again I am forgoing my "Thrifty Treasures Monday" post... not because I didn't find anything last week, but because I'm DYING to show you my latest redo! I actually finished three projects this week (hooray for me!), but this is my absolute favorite-est project to date! (And it does qualify as thrifty, because besides the $2 price of the table, everything else was free!)

What do you get when a sweet, delicate French side table marries a very masculine British emblem? Why, the Union Jacques, of course! :)


I picked this little table up at a garage sale over a year ago for like $2.  It was originally a grubby brown with a gray "distressed-ish" finish, complete with flaking veneer. I chipped off the loose veneer and repainted it in a pale green (leftover from Princess E's room... I told you I liked green!) Much better, but it still seemed like it was missing something-- the final, elusive "something" that would transform it from "plain" to "pizzazz-iful!"! (yes, I know that's not a word...) After searching for that "something" for months and months (and falling in love with all the Union Jacks popping up everywhere), I came to the conclusion that my little Frenchy table needed a touch of Britannia (because you know, everything's better in a British accent!)

Source: via Kathryn on Pinterest

But, unfortunately, my house isn't really a "primary color" scheme, so it was hard for me to envision the true red-white-and-blue Union Jack feeling at home there. So when I saw the stylistic interpretation of the colors of the Union Jack on this dresser, I knew the search for inspiration was complete... my little table had at last met its intended finish.

I very loosely followed Seaside Shelter's instructions on how to paint the Union Jack (if you want a real tutorial, check out her blog!).  I taped off the emblem on the top of the table and brushed it in with my contrasting color, a light taupe. (Really, the only measuring I did was to find the center of each side... then I eyeballed the placement of the rest of the lines) :) I had originally intended to do a simple white-on-green basic outline, but at the last minute, I found that leftover can of taupe and knew it would be perfect! When I peeled off the tape, though, I thought the plain taupe and green looked too stark, so I added a "glazed effect" by dry brushing lightly over the entire table, letting it dry a bit, then wiping some off with a wet rag. (Literally improvising as I went!) It still didn't have enough "pop" for me, however... sooooo I taped back over and VERY lightly dry-brushed a thin cream outline along each of the bars. (Unfortunately I let myself get too engrossed in the process-- and was unsure of how it would turn out-- and was moving too fast to take pictures! Tell me you've never done that during a makeover!) :)

When I peeled the last piece of tape off, I was in LOVE!

SERIOUSLY, like head over heels in love!

Like, really, I have never adored a piece of furniture before, like I love this one! (not to slight my aqua console table or anything...) I absolutely adore the combination of the sweet turned legs with the masculine top... and the way the "glazing" really brings out their detailing.

And with the neutral color scheme, it fits into my living room perfectly!


British, feminine, and classy... Maybe I should rename him/her "Princess Kate"? :)

What do you think? ;-)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

DIY Seashell Topiary

NEWS FLASH-- Item #157 on my “love-love-LOVE” list: topiaries! Whether made of moss, ivy, eucalyptus, wire… you name it, I love it!  So while I was racking my brain to think of a creative way to display seashells, I decided that what else I COULD do but make them into a topiary!?!

I picked up this topiary—covered with tacky Styrofoam “candies” (NOT on my “love” list)—at a thrift store or garage sale some time ago, and decided to use its “guts”  form for my seashell topiary.  All I had to do was strip all of the Styrofoam “candy” off to reveal the foam cone underneath!  If you do not already have a ready-made form, you will need a pot heavy enough to balance the weight of your finished topiary, a piece of foam large enough to fit snugly in your pot, a dowel (or other rod) for the stem, and a foam cone for the upper part. Begin by putting glue on the upper half of the dowel rod, then inserting it into the bottom of the foam cone, at least halfway up inside the cone. Glue the foam base inside the pot, then insert the bottom part of the dowel in the center of the foam base.  It should now look something like this:

(minus the yellow spots where the previous "toppings" were glued)

I then used my trusty hot glue gun to cover the cone with burlap, not only because I didn’t want the Styrofoam showing between the shells, but also to give the shells something to stick to (the foam is made up of those little balls that I was afraid would start falling off!)

Then I started assembling the shell “jigsaw puzzle”! Starting from the top down, I ran a bead of hot glue around the back edge of each shell and stuck it in place, as snugly against the previous one as possible :) (Sorry, I can’t make it any more complicated for you… it really was that simple!) When I reached the bottom, I went back around and filled in any small gaps with the tiniest shells. A couple dozen seashells (and a couple burnt fingers) later:

I glued some larger shells around the base of the topiary “trunk” to hide the Styrofoam at the bottom.

I also glued a strip of burlap around the pot, to add a rustic contrast against the silver.

A simple project with a lovely result!  I love the beachy touch it brings to my “mantel”!

P.S. I have now added another favorite to my “love-love-LOVE” list—my hi-temp glue gun!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Thrifty Treasures Monday: Book Page Projects for Less Than a Penny!

Hello, folks! Sorry it’s been a week since I really posted! Last week was pretty crazy, with the Fourth of July on Wednesday, and then traveling to Indiana for my bro-in-law’s beautiful wedding on Saturday! While I reaalllly wanted to stop at some thrift stores down in Indiana (actually more like southern Chicago-- they have a MUCH bigger selection that up where we live!), we were a bit too busy with rehearsals and wedding prep! Not only was my hubby the best man, but Big Boy and Little Princess were the ring bearer and flower girl! :)

She LOVED having her hair and nails done! Love my girly-girl!
So needless to say, I didn’t get any thrifting/rummage-saleing done last week :/ Instead, I thought I’d show you some quick book page decorations I whipped up for the Fourth of July, using the vintage book I got for a quarter last week! :)

Since these were LITERALLY last minute decorations, I didn’t spend as much time making them “fancy” as I might have otherwise. I just used regular scissors to cut each page into two triangles, then used blue and red Sharpie markers to freehand the block letters on.
I used a hole-punch to punch holes in the upper corners, then strung them onto off-white twine. (I found that the triangles are easiest to string when you fold them in half like a taco, with the holes lined up against each other, and slide the triangle into position on the string, before unfolding it.)

I also made a few of these book page buntings to spread the festivity around the house in a not-so-blatant fashion. J It took about three pages, folded accordion style and taped together, to form one semi-circular “fan”. If I had more time, I would have made enough of these to string together and form a banner! But as it was, they added just the right touch of neutral patriotic flair to my kitchen :)

The best part is, I still have nearly 500 more of these pages to play with! So I dug up some more ideas for cool book page crafts…

GORGEOUS paper roses!

Definitely gotta find me a lampshade to cover...

This is my absolute favorite! I can SO see this as a gorgeous sunburst mirror!

Hmmmm… looks like my “MUST-MAKE” list just got a LOT longer! But the good news is… at 500 pages for 25¢, that comes out to about 1/20th of a cent for each page! Now THAT’S what I call a thrifty project!

So have YOU made any cheapo projects lately? Feel free to post your link in the comments below!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Thrifty Treasures, 7/2: Ironstone and Old Gates!

Hello, blogging friends… welcome back for another edition of:
Thrifty Treasures Monday

You already got a sneak preview of a couple of this week’s scores when I showed you my $5 console table makeover:

I found both the pitcher on the left and the soup tureen on the right at GOODWILL! Wahoo! Even better, they were on sale!
The ironstone pitcher was originally marked $2.99, but was half off—I guess most people have trouble seeing potential underneath crumbly florist foam and plastic grapes?
*shrug* Well, not me! :)

I fell in love with the ironstone soup tureen (complete with lid and ladle) when I first saw it at the beginning of the week—it was half-off of $5.99—but I knew that on Thursdays our Goodwill marks all half-off tags as 99¢! So I waited (and almost broke down and bought it for $3, just because I wanted it so much… ), and lo-and-behold, it was still there when I walked in Thursday morning! I almost felt like I was stealing as I scooped it up, headed straight to the cashier carried it around under my arm as I did my compulsory store walk-through, and walked out with this beauty for 99¢!

My time rummage-saleing on Saturday was also productive, and I found several goodies, most for only a quarter each!  (These are just the home décor items—I figured you don’t care to see clothes I get for the little Monkeys…) :)

Didn’t I tell you I can’t resist baskets? These were unmarked, at a particularly pricey garage sale—but when I mustered up the courage to ask the lady how much she wanted for them (because I couldn’t afford anything else at her sale! LOL), she said I could have them for 25¢ apiece! Lesson learned: don’t be afraid to ask about unpriced items—you might just be surprised!

Another thing I can’t resist: old books! Even when they’re coverless— this one will be perfect for making all those book page projects I’ve been drooling over, but haven’t had the guts to cut up a “nice” old book for! (And for 25¢, I couldn’t say no!)
 The large lidded jar was my most expensive purchase of the day, at the grand price of $2.00. According to the paper I found inside, the lid is supposed to be filled with lamp oil and a wick put in the hole… but I think I’ll just use it as a regular apothecary jar! :) It’s the largest one in my collection so far, and I can’t wait to fill it with shells, or décor balls, or pinecones, or Christmas ornaments… I guess you get the picture :)

I couldn’t resist this pair of cute little green glass bottles with cork stoppers—and definitely not for 25¢ apiece! Now to get some sand to fill them with…
But the absolute Favorite Find of the Day award goes to:

This awesome weathered gate! Believe it or not, it was sitting in a “FREE” pile at the end of someone’s driveway. Seeing one of those around here is rare enough… the only stuff people set out by the road here is their trash (as in banana-peels-and-dirty-diapers-trash, not even old-lamps-and-broken-furniture-trash!) I can see this as an incredible wall-hung photo display—similar to this one madefrom a crib mattress spring (only even cooler with the weathered wood framing it!)! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go find a place to hang it…

So how was your thrifting this weekend? Do you find any good curbside “trash”?