Monday, January 31, 2011

Lovebirds Tutorial

While in the Dollar Tree the other week, I spotted some ceramic birds that caught my eye.  For a mere dollar apiece, I picked up two.  The color wasn't doing much for me, nor was the sandy texture, but I liked their overall size and the motif on the wings.

On my kitchen windowsill, I keep this cherub my mom gave me a few years ago. I'm not sure if it's made of concrete or resin painted to look like concrete, but regardless, I love the texture and color.

Then it occurred to me to paint the birds to resemble the cherub's finish!

Plus, seeing as I bought a pair, I thought they'd make adorable Valentine's "lovebirds" to go atop the pine armoire in the living room.

Besides yielding a cute pair of lovebirds, this craft and decor project was completed during one of my son's naptimes so it has the instant-gratification aspect going for it, too.

Lovebirds Tutorial

  • Pair of ceramic birds from Dollar Tree
  • 120 grit sandpaper
  • Craft paint in black, white and dark brown (I used Folk Art paint in 936 Licorice, 901 Wicker White and 462 Burnt Umber since that's what I had on hand)
  • Craft brushes
  • Newspaper
  • Wax paper (to set on top of the newspaper so the birds won’t stick to the paper when wet)
  • Plate on which to mix paint
  • Napkin or rag
  • Small bowl
  • Matte or satin clear spray sealer if you want to seal the birds
1. With the 120 grit sandpaper, sand the texture off birds until they are fairly smooth. Leave a little bit of texture to make for a more interest final finish, but get the majority off.

2. Mix some of the white and black paint on a plate to a medium grey and apply a thin coat to each bird.

3. Dry brush a light coat of dark brown paint over the dried grey paint. I found that once I finished coating the second bird with grey paint, the first bird was dry and ready for this step.

4. Mix the white paint with a bit of the dark brown paint to create an antique or off white color, and brush on a coat to cover most of grey/brown layer.

5. While the off white paint is tacky, take a dry brush and hit the paint with short, fast strokes to remove a bit of the paint to expose the undercoat.

6. When white paint is dry, further distress the birds with sandpaper until you achieve the effect you like.

7. In small bowl, put a teaspoon or so of water, along with a bit of the white/dark brown mix (I had plenty left on my plate so I used what remained of this mixture), then add more dark brown until you have what looks like chocolate milk. This is your antiquing glaze.

8. Brush on the milky brown mixture to antique the birds, wiping off the excess as you go.  Be careful, though, and don't wipe too hard or else you may rub off all the under layers of paint.

9. Let dry completely and seal with your choice of sealer. Or skip this step as I ended up doing!

And here are a few shots of the lovebirds in their new home...


Say buh-bye, little birdies!

Let me know if you try this project!  I had quite a lot of fun doing it and am so pleased to have a sweet little pair of birds to add to my home's decor.  Hope you like it, too!

Linking to:

Domestically Speaking

Chic on a Shoestring Decorating

V.I.P. (Visually Inspiring Projects) Party at Designer Garden

Frugal Friday at

Frugalicious Friday at

Valentine's Day 2011 Inspiration Party at

Passionately Artistic

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Simple Winter Centerpiece

This centerpiece currently graces my dining room table.

The glass cake stand was a wedding present and was most recently used in my Christmas decorating.

I made the candles earlier this month from candle-making supplies I scored off Craigslist. They're scented like Yankee Candle's Mistletoe candle--which is kind of a misnomer since the scent really smells like a Christmas tree. Even though we're beyond that holiday, I still find the fragrance appropriate and refreshing this time of year.

And the wee little pine cones and snips of cedar were free, courtesy of Mother Nature.

Natural, beautiful and thrifty--what more can you ask for?

I challenge you to find items in and around your house to make a lovely centerpiece.  And if you need some more centerpiece inspiration, visit Donna at Funky Junk Interiors. Her Saturday Night Special party is all about centerpieces this week!

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Also linking to:


Friday, January 28, 2011

Catching Up and (Finally!) The Before Photos of My Sister's House

Well, well, well, these last few weeks have certainly snuck away from me!  How are you all?  Sorry for the brief absence but I inadvertently took a little blogging break. :)  All is well here, so no worries, but I will warn you this is a long-winded post!

This mini blogging break all started when I was originally writing this post three weeks ago. Apparently my computer battery is dying because it no longer holds a charge for more than half an hour. I learned this as I was uploading photos of my sister's house and writing what is now the latter half of this post.

Naturally, I didn't have the charger with me when the computer died, but I didn't think a thing about it since Blogger likes to seemingly save posts every 30 seconds. Later, when I got home and restarted the computer, I realized that for some reason Blogger didn't save this particular post. A bit discouraged since I'd already uploaded nearly all the photos, as well as having written almost half the text, I shelved the writing for another day.

Well, another day magically turned into, oh, about 25, and in the meantime I ended up doing several non-Internet related things.

Firstly, I made several batches of fantastic soy candles.  I have had a love affair with Yankee Candle's Midnight Jasmine and Mistletoe candles for a long time, but I couldn't bring myself to spend the money on them any more. So I made my own. And it was fun and I will write about that soon!

It's been ridiculously cold here so I also hauled a lot of firewood as we work to replenish the wood shed and feed the hungry monster that is our wood stove. Bless my husband for being the industrious person he is because he's cut-up a number of dead trees this winter. Our division of labor is that he cuts the trees and splits the wood into large chunks (which are later split by a hydraulic splitter into manageable sizes for the wood stove), while I transport said "chunks" and later stack the split wood. It works for us and we stay plenty warm.

Since I'm ready for winter to be gone, I also started planning for the spring and summer gardens. I've enjoyed flipping through various seed catalogs, fantasizing about eating fresh, in-season veggies and seeing green grass in the yard. In my seed perusings, I came across The Lazy Gardener's Seed Starting Chart, which takes out all the guess work in when to start seeds. It's an Excel spreadsheet that calculates the proper time to plant seeds based off the last day of frost in your area.

In a serendipitous meeting a few weeks back, I also made the acquaintance of a local interior designer who is interested in me painting furniture for him. I know I haven't shown much furniture here on the blog, but I have quite a few painted pieces in my house that I completed in my pre-blogging days.

Since I paint on my front porch, the cold weather has limited what I can do these last few months.  However, I so enjoy painting that I've decided to pursue this opportunity and see where it takes me in the new year.  Wish me luck!

And last but not least, I read...books! Not blogs! (Well, I couldn't abandon blog reading altogether, but it was seriously reduced, that's for sure.) I love reading but during these last several months, my book-reading has been very much neglected in favor of blog-reading.

If you haven't noticed, there's a button on my sidebar that says "I pledge to read the printed word."  I will never get an e-reader because there is something utterly fantastic about the tactile experience of holding a book, turning its pages, and enjoying the typography.   Though I adore reading my favorite blogs, I was missing--apparently a lot since I read six books in three weeks--the time spent snuggled in bed or on the sofa, simply reading a good book. Reading a book is really mind-clearing to me. You just focus on the words and the mental pictures form and it's a peaceful thing.

All this book reading was a needed change of pace, particularly because I think I suffer from sensory overload when doing a lot of my blog reading.  Do you know what I'm talking about? Thanks to the plethora of gorgeous photos, words (and even music on some blogs), I have a tendency towards overstimulating my little brain!  There is no lack of inspiration out there and I routinely get hit with the desire to take on more projects than time or my wallet allows. Then there's the whole aspect of gorgeous-house-envy that creeps in frequently as see the fabulous ways in which so many talented women decorate their homes. 

Reading some good ol' books was a nice way to hit the mental reset button.

My favorite books from this spate of reading were Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture by Shannon Hayes, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron.  I encourage you to check them out if you're a reader.

Well, I've really carried on, haven't I?

Your patience hasn't gone unnoticed, so let's get to the pictures of my sister's house! 

Here they are...

It was a bleak day for picture-taking, but that just adds to BLAH factor of the interior and will amp up the WOW factor of the after pictures. Right?

Her house is very typical of the types of houses found in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. Though it's not two stories, it's still considered a farmhouse of sorts.

Just prior to her purchasing it, the previous owners clad the exterior in vinyl and replaced all the windows. The roof will need replacing in the next year or so and she's thinking metal (of which I definitely approve!)

Let's make our way to the front door.

Well, hello original door bell! Though this house has lots of fugly happening, it does have quite a few swoon-worthy details like the door bell. Don't you love diamonds in the rough?

Stepping through the front door, you enter the living room.

I'm a former real estate agent, so forgive me for going into what some might find to be extraneous details here.

This is a 2-bedroom, 1 bath house and measures about 1,200 square feet. That means all the rooms are well-sized and the living room is no exception.  It has high ceilings and a great light fixture that you can't see well because I took the photo with the light on.  Sheesh!  This house originally had heart pine floors, but in this room and in one of the bedrooms, oak planks cover the original flooring.

I originally suggested board-and-batten be installed in this room, but she's not sure about that, and now I'm doubting the suggestion. You'll see a photo of the door and window trim that's found throughout the house and I'm wondering if the board-and-batten will be too Craftsman-feeling for what is essentially a late-Victorian/Folk era house. Thoughts, dear readers?

The living room also has a nifty fire place just awaiting a minor face lift.

And a built-in bookcase that offers loads of possibility!

Just off the living room is the larger of the two bedrooms. Shield your eyes from all. the. blue.

The redeeming qualities of this room?  Besides the fact the blue can be painted over?

The original heart pine floors! 

Trimwork like this:

And a door like this--complete with glass knob, no less:

This room mainly needs paint.  Lots and lots of it!

Now, if we walk back to the living room, the next room is the dining room.

Underwhelming, I know.  The nastiness of the paneling is rivaled only by the vinyl "wood" floor. But you see that open closet door on the far right?

Look what's inside, dearies:


When I took these photos, we could only assume/hope that this bead board would also be under the paneling. Since then, the paneling has been pried off, and indeed, the entire dining room is clad in this gloriously wonderful stuff.

Moving the dining room is the second bedroom. It's part of an addition and has a much lower ceiling. But my sister called me today to say there is intact bead board under the ceiling there is promise here.

Between the two bedrooms is the lone bath.  It used to have a claw foot tub in it, but the previous owner tore it out and installed a shower insert. <sad face> 

And a shot of the bathroom vanity:

The bathroom will be beautified with bead board wainscot, subway tile around the shower insert, a pedestal sink and matching toilet, and hexagon tile on the floor.

Cutting back through the dining room, the last stop is the kitchen.  It's fabulously huge but not-so-fabulously green--from the floor to the ceiling. This view is of the end with the breakfast nook.  Check out the vintage tole light fixture!

And here is the other end of the room:

And finally the fridge, just to the right of the doorway to the dining room:

Besides the much-needed paint, the kitchen and dining room will be getting the painted plywood plank flooring treatment per Frugal Farmhouse Design. And I'm hoping to convince my sister to remove some of the overhead cabinets in favor of open shelves in the kitchen. Feel free to leave comments in support of that move!

So, there you have it!  There's a lot to be done but it will be well worth it.  Thanks for sticking it out, not only in waiting for the photos, but for indulging my long-windedness.

Hope everyone has a happy weekend--it'll be in the 60s here so I'll be outside enjoying the heat wave.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

If my house could handle bling...

I would add one or (let's get real) both of these chandeliers to it:

Hampton Bay Maria Theresa 6-Light Chandelier

Hampton Bay Kristin 3-Light Mini-Chandelier

I saw the first one, the Maria Theresa, at one of my favorite local shops over the weekend and was told it was from Home Depot.  The proprietor, Heather, had two of these chandeliers hanging in her newest business venture and they were stunning in person.

So when I was in Home Depot yesterday, picking up spray paint, I passed through the lighting section to take another longing look at it. And then I saw the smaller three-light chandelier, called the Kristin, hanging next to it.

Argh, sooo pretty!! Maybe I'm not creative enough, or enough of an out-of-the box thinker, to imagine crystal chandeliers in a log house, but I don't really see it working.  What do you think?

Oh, and to add insult to injury? They're pretty darn affordable at just $99 apiece.

The immediate solution to this "problem" is that I need to show these to my sister for her new house. If she gets one, I can at least visit it at her place. :)

And speaking of her new house, I finally took the before photos this past weekend. I'll be posting them later this week!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Giveaway to "Ring" in the New Year!

Happy 2011, everyone!

What better way to start the new year than with a giveaway?

Though this isn't a giveaway directly from me (but one of those is on the horizon), I wanted to share the giveaway Ness is doing at her blog, Marly & Lockyer, in case you haven't seen it.

I'll admit, I mostly lurk at Ness's zen-like corner of the World Wide Web...and a World Wide Web reference is appropriate because Ness lives is Tasmania...but I've been brought out of lurking mode because today she debuted a new line of affordable, hand-made and beautiful jewelry made of clay, earthenware and wood.

The pieces speak for themselves (all photos from Marley & Lockyer):

This is my favorite piece in her range!  It's an earthenware pendant called Earth's Vine. I'm a sucker for vine motifs.

A sweet ring with a birdie image stamped on a wooden disk.

Ness does bird motifs so well!  Here's one of her bird brooch/pins with a stamped wing.

To see more of the new line and to be entered in the giveaway, visit Ness here and read about the multiple ways to get your name put in the proverbial hat.  The giveaway goes through Friday, January 7th.

Good luck and best wishes in 2011!