Decorating

I thought by now I’d be tired of Pinterest. But because there are infinity cool/pretty/clever things out there, I still remain powerless once I log on.  I spend a lot of time looking at decorating and house decor. Not everything is groovy, though. There are lots of things that I just hate. Things that are so dumb I don’t know how they remain popular. In no particular order:

White sofas. They are everywhere. Every room in every magazine seems to have at least one white piece of furniture. I understand that there are people out there who have nothing better to trouble their minds about than worrying every 20 seconds that their sofa is getting dirty. I don’t understand these people at all. Not one tiny bit. I can’t imagine the amount of stress that a white couch (or chair) would add to my life. Even if it’s a machine washable slipcover. Haven’t these people ever heard of chocolate milk? Or husbands who like to lie down with their feet up? Or brand new dark jeans? Or pets with dark hair? Or just dust floating through the air?  I have had people with white sofas swear they’re not hard to maintain. I have one word for these people: liars.

Dumb Sayings. It’s really popular to have words incorporated into your decor. I have a few signs and sayings around various rooms in my house. They’re phrases that are really special to me.  But at some point this word trend is just dumb. For instance, this sign that I saw at Michael’s last week:

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Home. Of all the words to pick, that’s the best you can think of? Like you’re not going to know where you are unless you have a sign proclaiming it? Like your friends are going to come over and be like, “oh, I thought we were at the dentist’s office but I can see from your sign that we are in a home.”  Duh.  This is even dumber than “live, laugh, love”, another silly and meaningless phrase (“hey, I forgot to laugh today but that doormat just reminded me. So haw haw haw.”)

Karate-Chopped Pillows. This trend came out of the clear blue sky a few years ago. The first time I saw it I actually said out loud, “what in the world?”  See, we used to have this pug named Anna. Anna’s favorite thing was to sit up on the back of our sofa and lie as close to our heads as possible. If she could have made out with us, she would have. Unfortunately, when Anna would manage to get her lazy butt off of the sofa, all the sofa pillows would have a giant dent in the top of each one. It drove me insane in the membrane. I couldn’t have cared less that there was pug hair everywhere (pugs shed like you would not believe), but those messed up pillows made me lose it. So imagine how perplexed I was to see that there is a style that makes it look like pets have been sleeping on every single cushion. This is now a thing. Why? WHY iS THIS POPULAR? I think it’s ridiculous and I don’t care if Joanna Gaines* shows up at my front door and demands that I karate-chop my pillows; it’s never happening. (Bonus points in the picture below for karate-chopped pillows AND a white sofa! Too bad there’s no chevron as well; then it would have been everything I dislike the most.)

Karate Chopped pillows

 

 Open kitchen shelving. Oh how pretty it looks. There is something that makes my heart skip a little beat whenever I see a kitchen with open shelves instead of boring cupboards.  But then I remember that I actually have plastic cups. And bowls. And a bunch of mismatched mugs which I happen to be quite fond of. And several sets of dishes that are packed into the cupboards because that’s how kitchens are: full of stuff.  Maybe if all you have in your kitchen is a charmingly curated collection of vintage milk glass, then this would work for you.

open shelving

 

Or how about this? It looks so wonderful! But it is just a disaster waiting to happen. I can hardly wait until some three-year old tries to get those pretzels down for a snack.  Let’s think about this: who would keep their flour and sugar in a glass jar on a super high shelf? It makes no sense. (Truthfully I have this pinned on my Pinterest Board–me and ten trillion other people–but it’s totally a pipe dream. Like I might as well wish for a dog that scoops his own poop.)

Open pantry

 

 

My final pet peeve is  storage-less side tables. They could be anywhere but I find it particularly vexing in the bedroom. What the heck? Don’t you have any earplugs? Or chapstick? Or a pen? Where do you put these things? In the case of this room below there’s barely enough room on the top of the side table, what with the orchid and picture frame and superfluous alarm clock. There’s not even space for a box of tissues, but maybe I’m the only one who ever has a runny nose.  If a side table doesn’t have drawers it’s dead to me.

dumb side table

 

I know I must sound crotchety and old. Kind of like the decorating version of an old lady who says she only wants sensible shoes. But I’m right! I don’t care that every catalog I get in the mail has open shelving and side tables with no storage whatsoever. They’re wrong, I tell you! Wrong!

 

*Joanna Gaines is the main decorating lady on the HGTV show Fixer Upper. It’s a really good show filmed right up the road in Waco. I have only watched a few episodes thanks to a Fixer Upper marathon that was on TV the last time I stayed at a hotel. Someone really needs to invent a cable system that only has HGTV. I would be a very happy girl. BTW, I went to Joanna’s shop, Magnolia, last week. It was very cute but verrrrrry tiny.

I’m sure most people are looking at the title of this post and thinking, “whatever”. But if you are in Texas and looking for fabric, then you need to know. I’m not sure if some of these are the biggest fabric stores in Texas, but they’ve got to be close. For years I’ve been stuck in the fabric desert of Austin. There are a few little quilt shops but if you’re looking for home decor fabric, especially, you’re plumb out of luck. There’s a great store called Cowgirls & Lace out in Dripping Springs where I bought my family room sofa. It’s the couch I knew in the preexistence. The store also sells quite a bit of fabric and accessories and is all-in-all a really awesome place. But it’s a 45 minute drive.

It’s now been over seven years since I bought that sofa. It’s slipcovered and the seat cushions and arms have gotten rather threadbare so I decided when my mom came to visit in December that we would make new slipcovers (and by “we” I mean “she”). I also bought two new chairs from the Pottery Barn outlet that needed matching slipcovers as well. The Carolina armchairs retail for $1000 each but I got two for $625. I am a very gifted shopper. I really love the colors in my family room so I didn’t want to change anything so much as just freshen everything up.

Because there is a dearth of home dec stores, I ended up getting most of my fabric online. That’s a real pain because you’ve got to wait for swatches to be sent, then you’ve got to wait for the fabric you’ve ordered to be sent. It would be a lot easier to just see everything in real life immediately.

If you do want to shop online–if you’ve got toddlers/live in the middle of nowhere/need something ultra specific–I’ve had the best luck with Decorative Fabrics Direct. They’ve got great prices and a gigantic selection. They also ship super fast. They’re in Atlanta but my fabric usually arrives within two or three days.

Here is what I wish I had known: there are a many really huge and amazing fabric stores in Dallas. I’ve heard that it’s a fabric-capital kind of place but that doesn’t really make sense. Nearly all fabric is imported* so if Dallas were a port city like LA or New York I would understand.  Whatever the reasons there are several massive fabric stores to be found. And since Dallas is only three hours away I headed up there yesterday. (You know you live in Texas when a three hour–each way!–drive is no bid deal.)

Most fabric shops are in a really sketchy part of town where Harry Hines Blvd and Perth Street intersect. Nearby are lots of strip clubs and Hispanic wholesale businesses. Charming! In a square block are 6-8 warehouse-type fabric shops. Some of these are Costco-sized.

Fabric WArehouse DAllas

 

Home Dec warehouse Dallas

Dallas Home Fabrics and Best Fabrics are entirely devoted to Home Decor. There is some crossover, though. Dallas Home Fabrics has a gigantic selection of Dupioni silk. You can use that for home dec or making a dress. There’s no real difference except for the width of the rolls. (Are you guys seeing all the rows? They just keep going and going!)

Rolls of silk Dallas

Or how about some pleather? If you need some, you’re all set. This is ALL fake leather. There was another aisle besides this one. I believe this was at Fabric Wherehouse.

Vinyl leather Dallas

My favorite place was a shop called Super Textiles. It’s owned by a guy named Steve who is the only friendly New Yorker in existence. He’ll show you all around and even give you the lowdown on the other fabric shops nearby. When you first walk in there is an anteroom of buttons. While I had heard about this before I went I was expecting a giant room with walls of buttons on little cards like at the fabric store. I seriously love buttons. Seriously. Unfortunately they were all boxed up. Not as exciting but you can find pretty much anything. (Although I didn’t see any super cool artisan buttons.) What they have is all dirt cheap.

Buttons Dallas

Speaking of dirt cheap, everything at Super Textiles is dirt cheap. I found some cute striped cotton for our Easter dresses/ties that I’d seen around town for $12/yard. Steve had it for $4/yd. I also got some really unusual rayon that has the loveliest blue and yellow bird motif for $3/yd. And invisible zippers for $1 each!  They’re $3.75 at JoAnn!   Needless to say I walked out with 15 of them.

Most of these stores are not your typical well-lit, nice fabric stores. You may have to pick thorough bolts and ask for prices because things can be a bit jumbled. But there are some crazy great deals and a lot of fabrics you simply won’t find anywhere else. Also don’t expect any customer service. Aside from Steve, pretty much nobody spoke to me the entire day.

Home Dec Crammed Dallas

Some shops are quite a bit more organized.

Rolls of home dec dallas

There is a shop called Golden D’Or (which means Golden of Gold. Allrighty then!) around the corner from these that has a lot of everything. Everything. Never have I seen so much spandex (are people making leotards or what?) or my mom’s favorite: cotton knits of every color and pattern. Racks of minky, bridal lace and everything in between. Need to make a prom dress?  Georgette and Organza of every color. There’s another shop on Perth that also sells nothing but special occasion fabrics. If you want to make a bridesmaid or Quinceneara dress, this is your place!

Special Occasion Fabric Dallas

 

Sparkly fabric Dallas

 

Also of note is another home decor store called Childress Fabrics. It’s closer to downtown (2512 Ferris St. Another super sketchy area. There are other locations throughout the Dallas area but this main shop is their biggest). Unlike the warehouse-type stores that I talked about above, this shop has many employees who are super helpful and asked a hundred times if I needed assistance with anything. Childress also has an online store. As a matter of fact I had ordered a pretty floral for my sofa from them. I’m still looking for more fabric to cover the pillows on the back of my sofa so I wanted to be sure to stop by Childress to see some things in real life that I had my eye on. Just look at these poor naked pillows!

Sofa unfinished cushions

Anyway, Childress did not disappoint. It’s also humongous, but arranged according to color. There is a lot of beige these days. Beige is the Lifetime Channel Movie of decorating. It is a meaningless color. But I still have beige carpet in my house. And several beige walls (I didn’t pick them out, obviously! And I’m not made of money so change is slow.) But there is plenty of fun and colorful stuff at Childress too.

There is also trim. Oh my goodness gracious Agnes. There is a whole huge room of fringe and cording and every other thing you could sew onto a piece of furniture. Nothing was exactly right for what I needed, though. I picked colors for my family room that don’t seem to be terribly popular right now. Which is partly frustrating and partly makes me happy that my house doesn’t look like everyone else’s.

Rooms of trim Dallas

 

If you happen to be in Texas and you know how to sew, a trip to Dallas is most certainly worth your time!

 

*Back when I was a little girl there was still a big fabric industry down South. We’d go to visit my grandparents who lived right on the border of North/South Carolina and sometimes I would get toted around to the fabric factory outlets. Those days are looong gone.

Christmas morming

You might assume that even though it’s January 9th I haven’t taken down my Christmas decorations. And that assumption would be correct. I did actually undecorate my tree–a real one this year!–because it was garbage day last Tuesday and I didn’t want that fire hazard standing in my living room for one more second. So as I heard the garbage truck making it’s way down the street I ripped all the lights and ornaments off and got that sucker out to the curb in the nick of time. But since then I haven’t quite packed the stuff up. This is what I’ve been staring at every day, wishing that somehow the ornaments and lights would pack themselves and trundle up to the attic without bothering me. Kind of like at the end of The Sorcerers Apprentice when the mean wizard does his magic spell and all the brooms get with the program and clean themselves up. I just need that spell . . .

What’s really nice is that this is right in my living room so it’s the first thing you see when you walk in my house. Shame that this photo doesn’t quite capture the trillions of pine needles scattered about the floor.

Christmas wreckage

 

This year we decided to spend Christmas in Texas. As far as I’m concerned we are never having another holiday on the road. I’m staying at my house and if relatives want to see with us they can fill out an application and wait to be approved come down here.  India came home from college (yay!) and if everything goes according to plans, she and York will both be on missions next year.  So I wanted to be sure we had a festive holiday since it’s our last one together for a while. Which meant I actually decorated my house as much as possible. I’m not one of those people who puts junk on every surface, but I did do Christmas lights outside, which I only get around to every three years or so. You know what the secret is to doing really great Christmas lights? A hot glue gun. It’s completely brilliant at getting lights to stick to your house. I know you’ll completely forget I told you this by next year so I’ll remind you in November.

I actually hung wreaths on the door too. One wreath might be good enough for all you people, but I’m so festive that I need three! Also I really need to stain my front door (thanks to Margaret scratching the crap out of it. Dumb dog!) and three wreaths seemed the perfect way to distract from that. Kind of like wearing a low-cut bathing suit when you need to lose a few pounds–everyone is so busy looking at the cleavage that they don’t look at the hips. Pure genius.

front door three wreaths

Last year after Christmas I was at Hobby Lobby and all of their leftover wreaths were 80% off. Which meant the little window-sized wreaths were less than $3. So I counted up all my windows and bought a wreath for each one. Then, because I occasionally have flashes of brilliance, I bought the most gigantic roll of velvet ribbon too. When Christmas rolled around this year I was all set with a wreath for each window and some ribbon to hang it with.

As with everything I plan in my mind, this was much easier said than done. I wanted the ribbons to hang from the tops of the windows without there being a bow or whatever, as if my windows opened from the top, which they certainly do not. Nor did I want to drill holes into my brick or window casings. I finally figured out how to do this but it took me a lot of tries and several different methods.

window wreaths

Turns out hot glue does not work so well trying to stick things to smooth surfaces. Son of a nutcracker!

window wreath falling

But like I said, I figured it all out eventually. I’ll share my secrets in about eleven months.

You know how in the movie Elf when Buddy decorates the toy department with paper snowflakes and chains and all those sorts of things? I’ve always dreamed of doing something similar to that in my family room because it’s decorated in pastel colors and red and green don’t look very good. And I happen to think that pink Christmas decorations are vomit-y.

I set Arabella to work on the paper chains (it took her, like, a trillion hours. She’s a real slowpoke) and I got to work making snowflakes with my Silhouette Cameo. Remember how I said that sometimes I’m brilliant? I was in charge of the church Christmas party (my third time. Ugh.) and I thought ahead and decided that I’d kill two birds with one stone. I’d make a ton of snowflakes and use them for the Christmas party (theme: Winter Wonderland!) and then save them for my house decorations (in case you’re being nitpicky, I paid for the snowflakes myself). I ended up only using about half of the snowflakes in my house. Mostly because I was putting them up right until the first guests rang the doorbell. That’s always how I know when to stop decorating–when the guests arrive. (It would be really nice to not be a procrastinator.)

I feel like I can leave these decorations up for a few more weeks because they’re winterish, not just for Christmas. I also added a few touches of gold because I like gold. And plain white is just boring. It turned out not quite as festive as Buddy’s decorating job, but I still love it.

White paper Christmas Elf movie

Paper snowflakes are real brats about being photographed. They’re always turning to the side so you can’t see them all at the same time.

The secret to hanging them is fishing line and clear pushpins. Don’t bother with tape. It’s useless on ceilings. Pushpins are my best friends. I’m alarmed at how often they come in handy.

So there you have it; Christmas chez Hildie. We gorged ourselves on schnitzel and spaetzle and had a grand old time.

I have been working on redecorating my bedroom for quite some time. I think I mentioned that before. My brother came and visited and kicked the re-do into high gear. Mister and I don’t really work super well together on projects: we get very angry at the other person for not reading each other’s minds. And since we both lean towards the quarrelsome side, we can get a smidge testy. Once when we were engaged we took an upholstery class. We had to find a chair and then spent the entire two month class reupholstering it. Towards the end of the semester one of the other couples in the class was very surprised to find out we weren’t already married. “You two argue so much I just assumed you were,” they admitted. So yeah, projects together have never been our strong point. But we know how to channel all that passion, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, so after Mister and I attempted to hang some bead board together, I decided to have my friend Tamara help instead. There may have been a lot more laughter than was needed, but we eventually got it done and it looks pretty decent. We only put one piece in upside-down!

The thing I’ve really wanted for my new bedroom, though, is a wrought iron bed. We currently have a lame head board (swirly white wrought iron that my mother-in-law picked out for us about a month after we got married). I wanted something a lot more cottagey and old-fashioned. And something with a footboard too, because a bed without a footboard seems teenager-ish.  I had my eye on this Medocino bed from Pottery Barn. But you know how Pottery Barn is–so overpriced. I mean, I’m sure they bed is nice quality but the prices are a little absurd.

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This bed frame is $1300 (not including 8% sales tax and $150 shipping). Not in our price range. But it’s so cute! Ah well. I did find it at the Pottery Barn outlet for $789. But that’s still a little more than I could get Mister to agree to. He didn’t want a new bed to begin with and it’s hard to get someone to plunk down several hundred dollars on something they don’t want at all. I had already pushed my luck getting Mister to agree to my red and white color scheme so I figured the bed would have to wait. You gotta know when to hold ’em; know when to fold ’em, as Mr. Kenny Rogers would say.

I don’t understand all these bloggers who do a whole room remodel in less than a week. Do they have all the furniture and decor before they even start? How do they know how it will look once it’s put together? I bought one comforter and then decided I didn’t like it once I put it on the bed. It took me six more months to find one that I liked better (fortunately I sold the first one–bought on clearance at Pottery Bar–on ebay for a $70 profit.) It took me two weeks just to figure out how to change the blade on my miter saw, let alone cut the mouldings for my bedroom. I think I’m not motivated enough to be a home decor blogger. Also, I don’t like artistically arranged stacks of stuff on tables. I like my tables free of clutter. A lamp, yes. Books and shells and vases full of who-know-what? Yuck. So I can forget about being a career as an interior designer.

Because I love to waste time online, I peruse Craig’s List for various items quite often. Wrought Iron beds, among other things. (Although it’s a little hard to find wrought iron beds because a lot of people are dumb and think it’s “rod iron”.) But I found a guy over Thanksgiving break who was selling the exact Pottery Barn bed I wanted. In the size I wanted. For $90. Ninety dollars.

Despite living an hour away from me, I boogied down to his house immediately. Even Mister couldn’t complain about that price. That’s less than our sheets cost, for Pete’s sake!

The bed was on his back deck and it was freezing out (literally. A rarity in Texas). There was sleet coming down and I could barely see the bed frame. I could tell it had a few nicks and scratches but for $90 who cares? I knew I could touch it up, no problemo. When I pulled my money out, they guy actually said, “you know what? Just give me $60.”

I seriously almost fainted.

I would have danced a jig if it hadn’t been so cold out. Just for kicks I dragged Mister into the Pottery Barn outlet on our way home to show him the exact same bed for $730 more. He got a little more jazzed about our bed after that.

I have expertly painted over all the nicks and the bed is ready to go. I’m just waiting on the new mattress frame (turns out I need a bed frame that will accept a footboard. Another $100. Still a deal.)  And I need to frame the vintage postcards I bought on Etsy. But they’re being shipped from Germany so who knows when that will happen. See what I mean? How am I ever supposed to finally be done with this bedroom? By the time it’s finished I’ll probably be sick if it. I’ll keep you posted.

 

Last week amid the birthdays and lice and Easter preparations, Mister and I escaped to the Round Top Antiques Fair. I always write about this because it’s so completely great; when are you guys going to believe me and go yourselves? Who cares that it’s the middle of nowhere in Texas? Tori Spelling made it out last year! You should too!

This time my main shopping trip was to Marburger Farm–which is one small part of Round Top. I think Marburger has the best items and displays, hand-down. Keep in mind that this takes place in the middle of a 40-acre field. There are several giant tents set up, but there is no paving or air con. Despite this the sellers do a fantastic job making their booths look gorgeous. This is especially amazing considering how many of them come from around the country.

Marburger also has wifi and nice Kohler bath trailers (with actual toilets!) so it’s not completely primitive. These were some of my favorite things that I came across. (Not nearly as kitschy and oddball as the flea marketish parts of Round Top.)

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I thought the shells were nice but an actual zebra head? That’s kind of a niche market.

 

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppOf course.

Because who hasn’t thought, “you know what this mantel needs? A turtle shell.”
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Have you ever seen so much Ironstone in one place? I haven’t. I noticed a really pretty cake stand that I thought I might splurge on until I took a look at the price tag.

 

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$1600 for a cake stand??? For that price I expect it to be painted with the tears of 18th Century Chinese concubines. I think I’ll stick with the ceramic version from Pier One that costs 97% less.

Also pretty but way too expensive:

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Antique napkin rings. At between $150-$200 each this lady has sunk a lot of money into inventory. And think of all the polishing! Oy! I don’t even own any cloth napkins. I think that officially makes me tacky.

So no, I didn’t buy much at my trip to Round Top. But let me tell you, it is the best window shopping on Earth. So mark your calendars; the next fair will be October 3-7.

To find out more about Round Top, you can read my post from the last fair here.

It’s How-To Tuesday! Today I’ll be showing you how to make a fantastic cork board jewelry display. Like most girls I love jewelry. But there were lots of pieces that I rarely wore because they were in a giant jumble in my jewellery box.  I tried to find some way to organize all my necklaces and bracelets and earrings in an easy-to-see way, but I have a lot of stuff and there just wasn’t anything that really fit my needs.

I was browsing at the Container Store a few months ago for–get this–a container. I needed someplace to stash my knitting supplies, but instead I found a really cute magnetic bulletin board. There was a necklace hanging from one of the pegs and the wheels in my brain started to spin. I considered buying the magnet board to store my jewelry on but it was $50 and the magnet pins were $12 for 8 of them. Way too expensive.

After wandering around my second favorite store, Hobby Lobby, (my favorite, in case you had to ask, is Target. Duh.) I decided to do a corkboard jewelry display, using an empty picture frame.

The great thing about a corkboard holder is that it can be completely customized to whatever your jewelry needs are. Using push pins makes it possible to change your storage as your jewelry collection changes. Have a lot of long necklaces? No problem. Suddenly get obsessed with bracelets? Just add  a bunch of pushpins and you’re all set.

This is an incredibly easy project. It requires zero artistic ability. Things can get a little spendy if you go out and buy a brand new frame (use that 40% off coupon that most stores offer online!). There are lots of frames at thrift stores or you might have some ugly art around your house that can be tossed while still using the frame. All the materials you’ll need (besides the frame) will cost about $20. Considering how much jewelry boxes and displays are, that’s a real bargain!

I originally made my corkboard from a pre-made frame that I got at Hobby Lobby. But I also made a corkboard for my daughter, India, and used a hundred-year-old frame that that my grandma gave me which had an ugly, faded print in it.

The important thing is to consider your jewelry collection. Think about how many necklaces you have and how long they are. What about bracelets? And earrings? Do you mostly wear post earrings or danglies? You’ll want to consider how much square footage you’ll need. You don’t want to make too small a corkboard. Remember that bigger is better since it’s likely that you’ll be accumulating more jewelry through the years.

Another thing to consider is where you’ll put this thing. Mine ended up being 28 inches x 32 inches and that’s not exactly a size of frame that can be stuck just anywhere. I wanted mine kind of near my closet but not out in broad daylight for my kids to pull stuff off of. I ended up putting it in what I fondly call, “the poop room” (the little room in my master bath with the toilet in it).   It works for me.

These are the items you’ll need to make this:

Picture frame. It doesn’t need to have glass or a backing. Just the square frame.

Thick foam mounting board. This can be cut to size at any craft store or picture framing shop.

Roll of cork. This can be found in most craft shops.

Spray Glue.

Pushpins. India opted to make some cute pushpins but I prefer clear.

Ribbon for dangly earrings (optional). I used thicker ribbon to make it easier to see the earrings, but any width of ribbon is fine.

Utility Knife.

You may also need a heavy-duty staple gun for the backing.

I highly recommend using the thickest mounting board that will fit in your frame. The cork is actually pretty thin, it’s the foam board that will do most of the actual holding of your jewelry.

If you’re using a frame that has something else in it, pay attention to how the print and glass are held into the frame. Sometimes there are little nails called brads. These can either be removed or simply bent out of the way with a flathead screwdriver.

Before you start assembling your project make sure your mounting board actually fits in the frame. This is especially important if you had it cut at a store. If it’s too big, use a utility knife and a ruler to cut it shorter. Once it’s the right size it’s time to stick the cork to the backing board.

Cork is very brittle. It’s incredibly easy to break it or even stick a finger through. It’s best to roll it out on the ground and not lift it.  If your frame is big, it’s nice to have an extra set of hands helping out. The cork board we’re making today is for India’s room, so I’m having her do most of the work. Teach a man to fish, right?

Roll your cork out on the ground using something (or someone) to keep it unrolled. Some heavy cans of food will work.

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Spray both the cork and the foam board according to the directions on the glue. It’s sticky, smelly and messy. You should absolutely do this outside!

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Place your foam mounting board onto the cork and press it down thoroughly. If the edges aren’t attached well,  spray them again.

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Once the glue is dry (it should only take a couple of minutes), use a utility knife to cut off the extra cork.

 

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If you want to do a ribbon across the cork board to hang your earrings on, this is when you’ll do it. I put mine along the bottom, but you can do it wherever you like. India wants to use hers as a bulletin board so she didn’t want a ribbon at all. If you do want an earring hanger, hot glue one side to the back of the board. Once it’s cooled down and is very secure (at least five minutes), pull the other side of the ribbon extremely tight. The ribbon will eventually sag if it’s not as tight as possible. Even so I put a few pushpins in the ribbon to keep it from drooping in the middle.

 

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Once your ribbon is all finished, you can flip the board over and place it in the frame. Hopefully yours already has a wire for hanging. If not, you’ll need to install some hooks and wire.  You can figure that out because you’re smart. And good looking!

 

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If you used a frame that previously had artwork in it, you’ll hopefully be able to use the clips or brads that were there before. India pulled the brads out of our antique frame and hammered them back in so they were nice and secure (are you totally digging my pink hammer? I have a pink drill too!)

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Once you’ve gotten your cork board all put together it’s time to hang it up on the wall.The final (and funnest) step is to stick your pushpins in and hang up your jewelry! It will feel so wonderful to have everything organized and right at your fingertips!

 

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Today we have a guest post by my favorite reader: my sister, Arianne, from Little Pink Houses. She and I (and my brother, too) were ingrained from the time we were born with the notion of “I can do it myself and probably cheaper”. Arianne saw a cute vignette of stuffed fabric birds mounted on a branch and decided to make something similar for her daughter’s nursery. They turned out really adorably and would be completely easy to customize to any sort of decor. I asked her to do a tutorial for my blog because I knew these would be a not-too-difficult sewing project; plus I LOVE BIRDS! OK, Arianne, show us how to put a bird on it!

First you’ll need to pick out some fabrics.  Any fabric will work, but some are easier to work with than others (lightweight quilting cotton is easier than denim, for example. Silk would be a really lovely and elegant choice.) You can use fabric scraps you have on hand, you can ask someone you know who sews to look through their extras, or you can buy fabric quarters (called “fat quarters”) in coordinating fabrics.  Most fabric stores sell these for around $1.50-2.00/piece, or in pre-coordinated packs for $5-10 for 5+ pieces.   You need 2 fabrics for each bird. A safe amount is 8” square for each section of the bird.

I recommend laying out your fabrics in pairs before you start, one piece for the top/head/wings and the other piece for the belly of the bird.  If your pieces are different sizes, the larger piece should be for the top of the bird.

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Print out your pattern. I used one from SpoolSewing; you can download their free PDF here.  Cut the patterns out of the paper.

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I made these patterns a little bigger because I found the 1/4″ hem to be a little too tight.  It was very hard to sew a ¼” hem on such a small shape, since it requires a lot of turning as you sew. A few of my birds had to be re-sewn because I missed an edge.  Give yourself a little extra room around your pattern so that you can allow for a bigger seam allowance.

Next grab your first pair of fabric pieces .  Choose the piece to be the top/sides of the bird.  Make a fold in it, about 6” deep.  Lay the bird top pattern along the fold of fabric 1 so that it will double itself when you open the fold up.  Pin it down with a couple of pins.  Lay your bird belly pattern on fabric 2 and pin it down.  Cut them both out.  (If you didn’t leave an edge around the paper pattern, just leave an extra edge around it now as you cut it out.  I promise you won’t be sorry for giving yourself an extra ¼” allowance once you start sewing.

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Repeat this process with all your birds.

Iron your bird pieces.  The last thing you want is to get them sewn and stuffed and THEN notice that they are wrinkly, or that the fold is still showing across the top of one.

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Lay the top and bottom bird pieces together PRETTY SIDE IN.  In other words, the sides of the fabric you want to show when you’re done should be facing each other.

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Starting at the tail, pin together one edge of fabric 1 and one edge of fabric 2.  Pin about every 1-1 ½” and stop when you get to the end of fabric 2.  Remember that these will be 3 dimensional birds, so the fabrics won’t lie exactly flat.  You’ll have to sort of bunch the top piece a little, with little folds between the pins, to get the edges flush.  They’ll sew up just fine, so don’t worry.

Sew one edge of your first bird.  (Although it’s generally easier to work in a sort of assembly line fashion—cutting all of the pieces at once, ironing all of the pieces at once, etc.—I found through trial and error that you should sew one bird completely and then turn it inside out to check it for seam holes before moving on to the next bird.)  I used white thread, but you can use any color you want.  The stitching doesn’t show much except on the tail.*  GO VERY SLOWLY.  You have to turn these babies a lot, and they are very small.  It can be kind of hard to get them turned in time if you go fast, and the attractiveness of your bird, especially the head, depends a LOT on how evenly and carefully you sew these seams.  Sew it poorly and your bird will end up looking more like a vulture! (Ask me how I know.) Also, remember to sew a little bit bigger hem than the pattern shows (if you’ve cut it with extra room) so you don’t miss any edges.

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Remove the pins and pin together the other edges of the two fabrics, again starting at the tail.  These two will lay even less flat, with even more bunching between the pins.  Just do your best to keep the edges aligned.

Sew the second edge.  Now keep in mind, when you get to the end of the belly fabric (#2), you can just keep going and sew up the bottom side of the head of the bird.  I found it easiest to keep going up the breast, up the head, and right off the end of the beak.

Then to come back and do the top side of the head separately.  If you try to take that corner (around the beak’s point), you may end up with a weird-shaped beak.

You probably won’t need to pin the bird’s head to do the rest of the sewing—it’ll be pretty well held together.  Just make sure your two pieces of head fabric are lined up right.  This next part is very crucial:  STARTING AT THE BIRD’S BACK, TAKE AS SHALLOW AN ANGLE AS YOU CAN COMING IN TO FINISH OFF THE BIRD’S HEAD, almost continuing the line of its back.  If you come in steep, you will create a point on the bird’s back, and your bird will look like a vulture!  I had to unpick my first 2-3 birds before I got the correct angle.  This is why it’s crucial to turn the bird inside out before you move on to the next bird.  I even recommend using a pencil point to get the whole beak turned out so you can see its shape.  (Sewing around that beak is tough.  Just remember, go very slowly.  And stop every few centimeters, with the needle still IN the fabric, lift up the foot slightly, turn the fabric, and continue sewing.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to do a very rounded seam around the bird’s head to avoid it having a vulture-like neck or beak.)

Note from Jennie: To keep any puckering from happening at the birds neck, make three little snips about 1/8″ away from each other right where the neck arches. You’ll cut from the edge of the fabric right up to the seam (but don’t cut the seam!).

After you’ve sewn both sides and the head (the tail is left open), turn your bird inside out and check to make sure you haven’t missed an edge and left a gaping hole.  If you haven’t, good!  You’re a better seamstress than me.  Now move on to your second bird.

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Once  you’ve sewn up all your birds, and they’re right-side out, it’s time to start stuffing!  I bought one 12oz bag of ultra plush fiber, and it was plenty to do about 14 birds.

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Use the eraser of a pencil to push the fiber down into the beak first.  You don’t want to get done and find you have a floppy beak!  Leave about ½” of the tail empty so that you can sew it closed.

 

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Finish the tail.  You can do a fancy hand-stitch here to make the thread invisible.  But after doing that with one bird, I found it way too time consuming.  Instead I decided to just fold both pieces of fabric over, inward, ¼” and sew a straight stitch across the tail.  You can see the thread, but once the birds are up on the branch, it won’t show much.  And I actually think it looks pretty cute!

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You’re done with the sewing! Aren’t your birds so cute?

 

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Next select a good branch.  You can buy fancy polished branches at the craft store.  Or you can pick one off a tree in your yard.  I recommend one with at least a ½” diameter on the main branch with ¼” diameter shoot-offs; too flimsy and it will bend under the birds’ weight.

Lay out your branch on the ground and position your birds before you glue them on.  That way you can be sure you like the final look without having to peel off mis-placed birds. I also recommend taking a picture because once you pick up the branches to mount them, you’ll forget where your birds went.

Mount your branch.  You want your branch to be at least an inch or two from the wall so your birds’ tails will fit behind the branch.  So if you can find or buy some really long nails (3-4 inches), that will allow your branch to sit away from the wall.  Hold your branch up to the wall and mark where you want it to go with a pencil.  Put in a couple of nails to support the branch—allowing your branch to lie on them.  Use some clear fishing line or thread to lash the branch to the nails.

Hot glue!  Use a dab of hot glue on the branch (not on the bird) where you want each bird to sit.  Right where the body meets the tail is a good spot for balancing the bird (it’s where the feet would be on a real bird, after all).   Stand back and check each one as you go to make sure it’s

sitting level and looking the right direction.  It’s a lot harder to move them once the glue has hardened.  Put all your birds on and…voila!  Birds on a branch!

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You might think that when you have a big family, you have pictures of kids everywhere. The sad truth is that there are a very overwhelming number of photographs to deal with. Then there is always one child who is completely unphotogenic and you can’t very well have pictures of some children up and not others. Plus there’s the whole issue of buying so many frames, where to fit them all, etc. What I’m trying to say is that I have very few pictures of my kids around my house. I decided to fix the situation in a way that would combine cheap and simple with cute and interesting and would allow me to use quite a lot of pictures. The whole set up cost less than $10 and that includes getting 5 x 7s made of most of my photographs. The nice thing is that this arrangement can be made bigger or smaller and goes well with any style of decor. For How-To Tuesday, I’ll show you how to do your own picture wall.

 

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Cardstock (if you use thinner paper, the pictures will curl when hung).

Photos (I used mostly 5 x 7s with a few 4 x 6s to make things look a little different)

Twine or rope (I used jute twine from Home Depot. $2.50 for a roll.)

Mini clothespins (Regular-sized ones are too hefty. I got mine at Michaels and Hobby Lobby. About $3 for 24. )

Glue of some sort (I like my Tombo but a gluestick will work fine.)

Pushpins. Clear pushpins are excellent decorating helpers. You’d be surprised how often you can find ways to use them.

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Step One: Crop and cut your cardstock and photos (if necessary). I left a 1″-1.5″ border of cardstock around each photo. For the love of Fiskars, please use a paper cutter and not scissors! It’s impossible to get a decently straight line with scissors. Believe me!

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Step Two: Apply glue to the back of the picture and try your best to apply it to the cardstock without it being crooked.

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Step Three: Use your twine and pushpins to string up your display (I did one row at a time). It works best to have a helper telling you if things look straight. You might decide to do several symmetrical, even rows or do them kind of topsy-turvy like I did. The nice thing about pushpins is that you can pull them out and reposition them without making a mess of the wall.

Step Four: Hang your mounted photos with mini clothespins. They hold the pictures up surprisingly well.

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Stand back and enjoy! It’s super simple to switch out pictures (cut a piece of cardstock and slap on a new photo. Or even better; flip the current picture over and glue a new photo to the back).  You’ll always have an easy way to display your latest photos.

 

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Hello my darlings, sorry to be so utterly neglectful but it’s been vacation time lately. I spent a few fun-filled days in Utah visiting my sister and her not-so-new baby. So ashamed that she was born in May and I’m just barely meeting her for the first time. That’s what happens when you live a thousand or so miles from your family (actually I have no idea how many miles it is but it’s a 27 hour drive).  Her name is Pippa Jane Eleanor and she is adorable, no?

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I returned home from the extremely dry mountainy air just in time for my children to have a three day break from school. No idea why; some sort of teacher something-or-other. It was a very looong weekend. I mostly ignored my offspring while I tried to get several projects done. Like cleaning out my closet. Right now the closet is in the scary-horrible-right-before-it’s-almost-finished phase.  I also have almost finished decorating Arabella and Adelaide’s room. I started it three years ago.  Now the girls are a lot older and this decorating scheme is a smidge prissy for them, but they’re so happy that the end is near that they’re very excited nontheless. Here is a sneak peak:

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Don’t expect to see the finished photos anytime soon. I’ve run into a bit of a snag since the fabric I chose for the dust ruffle has been discontinued. I have enough fabric for 3/4 of one bed. So it looks like I won’t actually be truly finished for who knows how long.

 

I also made six loaves of bread and nearly ran out of yeast.  I had bought some at the store but couldn’t find it anywhere (you have no idea how often that happens). Turns out it fell out of my car while I was unloading groceries. But I didn’t find it until it was a little too late.

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So, yeah, I’ve been getting a lot done. And my kids? What have they been doing? Well, the boys are content to shoot things with airsoft guns and arrows but the girls need a little more creativity. As usual Klutz came to the rescue with their best and most wonderful craft kit so far: Shrinky Dink Jewelry.

This is such a great kit I couldn’t resist and had to make a few pieces of my own. My girls (and all their many friends who traipsed and in out over the last week) were constantly huddled over the table, coloring and cutting their Shrinky Dinks.  Not only are there tons of cute ideas in the accompanying book, but there are lots of jewelry supplies and a jillion adorable templates. The book is clear and easy to understand and full of great advice like “don’t complain that the oven window is dirty unless you’re volunteering to clean it.”  Obviously the author has children! Also immensely helpful is a ruler that tells you how big your Shrinky Dinks will be once they’ve shrunk. That’s always been a bit of a head-scratcher when we’ve made them in the past.

Here is one of my designs, before shrinking (I traced it from one of the templates in the kit with a fine-tipped Sharpie):

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And after. I made it into a cute necklace with the supplies from the kit:

 

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You can get the Klutz Shrinky Dink kit at Michaels  for $25 (but beware they won’t take coupons for this item since it’s a “book”. Jerks.)  But I got ours for about $16 here on Amazon. I ordered a couple more kits for birthday party gifts, we love it so much. If you have kids over age 5, Shrinky Dinks are a godsend. This kit kept all of us girls happy for days (even our 16-year-old!).  Refill packs of Shrinky Dink paper are about $6 at any craft store (buy the rough kind, usually called “Ruff n’ Ready”).

 

 

I wasn’t compensated for this post, sadly. But I do get money from amazon if you click through my link. Which you should definitely do.

Bad: My laptop decided to not acknowledge the existence of the internet this week. I could check my email through my iphone, but that’s about it unless I deigned to use the children’s computer.

Good: I finally spent some time redecorating the room that Adelaide and Arabella share. I’ve been working halfheartedly on it for a year or two now, but Mister set up a new sewing nook for me. That, coupled with the sudden bounty of free time, and I actually got some curtains and bedskirts sewn.

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Why wasn’t my house immaculate and all my projects finished before the internet came to pass? Oh yes, I read books back then. Any excuse to not do what I’m supposed to!

Music to sew to: (you know I love it super old-school!)
The Ink Spots– “I Don’t Have to Set the World on Fire” (I could listen to this 100 times a day.)
Fats Waller— “My Very Good Friend the Milkman” and “Every Day’s A Holiday”
Georgia Gibbs— “If I Knew You Were Coming I’d Have Baked A Cake”
King Cole Trio— “Frim Fram Sauce”