Archives For March 2012

I say six-ish months because it’s around this time that things start to get a little sketchy. I’m 24 weeks, 4 weeks to a month, you’d think that to be about six months, right? But when I say six months people tend to think that means I’ve only got three months left, and by a cruel twist of reality pregnancy is actually 40 weeks long. That means I’ve got 16 weeks left. And believe me when I say I’ve begun counting them down.

In the spirit of keeping it real, I’d like to go ahead and admit that pregnancy is much harder than I thought it would be. I was massively unprepared for the demands it would place on me physically and emotionally. I mean, I knew that the early weeks would bring some morning sickness and that I’d probably be pretty uncomfortable towards the end, but the internet led me to believe that the second trimester would be a breeze. Lies! I’ve had a lot of pain in my ribs (I guess due to my short torso), a couple of fainting spells, weakness and fatigue thanks to anemia, and lately the littlest thing can bring me to tears. But it’s all worth it. I’m feeling the little guy kick, punch, and roll around every day, and Nick even felt it for himself for the first time the morning that we took this picture. I work hard to keep a smile on my face and a positive attitude in my heart despite the things I’m struggling with because I know that in a few months all this will be a memory and I’ll have a whole new set of challenges to adjust to. Might as well embrace the chaos!

Also upping the positive vibes is the fact that we’ve picked a name!

I really wanted a simple, classic name, and since Jack is the nickname my PawPaw on my dad’s side has always gone by it seemed like a perfect choice. His middle name will be Bernard, which is Nick’s middle name (after his late grandfather on his dad’s side). It’s so nice to have a name picked out so we can talk about him like he’s a real person, and thankfully even though we’ve been sharing the name pretty openly with anyone who asks we haven’t had any regrets.

Baton Rouge’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade ran through our neighborhood on Saturday. It’s a lot of fun and we consider ourselves very lucky to live so close to the route. I don’t have any green maternity tops, so I settled for a green camisole underneath and whipped up a green flower out of some scrap fabric to pin on my shoulder. Of course it all got obscured by beads anyway.

We were both clearly having awesome hair days, haha. Nick is overdue for a trim and my post-parade bangs left a lot to be desired, but I’ve been really wanting to get some casual pictures of Nick and me together while I’m pregnant so I didn’t even hesitate to ask a friend to snap this one with my phone after the last float rolled by.

24 weeks down, 16 to go! In the next few weeks I’ll probably start working on the nursery more and more. I’ve got big plans to paint it the first week in April and my eyes are peeled for a low, wide dresser to double as a changing table. Very exciting!

I tackled upholstering the back of this wing chair way back in September. It started falling apart pretty much right away, and by March was looking pretty pathetic.

The cats like to test all my furniture for quality construction, and they did an excellent job of revealing the deficits in my upholstery job.

What a mess. I wasn’t up for tearing it apart and starting all over, though , so I decided to take a few shortcuts just to get the thing looking presentable again. If you are the kind of person who prides themselves on doing things the right way you might want to avert your eyes. It ain’t gonna be pretty.

I repaired the area where batting was coming out of the wing with hot glue. I just pulled the fabric so that it laid properly, glued, and held it down firmly until it dried. Is it cat-proof? Only time will tell.

All of this was done under feline supervision, of course.

I had this whole side repaired in no time. It’s not perfect, but it’s a major improvement.

After that I just had to deal with the top. I removed the old curve-ease because it sucked. I made sure the fabric that came around from the front was neatly stapled down.

Then I cut a piece of cardboard (scavenged from the box of one of my many, many internet purchases).

I laid the chair down on top of the cardboard and used a sharpie to trace the curve along the top (being careful to not mark on my chair or my rug).

I could tell just from looking at it that my tracing left something to be desired. I mean, it obviously was not symmetrical. I went ahead and cut it out anyway. Then I trimmed the sides just a smidge so it would fit down underneath the fabric.

I slid it on in there, stapled it down, then trimmed the curve until it looked nice and even.

Then, I just folded the fabric down over the curved edge and glued. Easy peasy. Doesn’t it look so nice and neat? This was so much easier than battling that curve-ease the first time around.

I was feeling kind of on a roll so I went ahead and flipped the chair over and stapled down all the bottom pieces, then trimmed the excess to be nice and neat. If I wanted to I could cover the open area at the bottom with a piece of muslin or burlap, but it seemed unnecessary to me. This way I can hide letters to myself in the springs.

Ta-da! Look how much better it looks than when I started! Of course, I’m only showing you the back because the front is still a hot mess. I’m working on the little pieces that cover the fronts of the arms but they require piping and I hate piping like I hate staying up past midnight. It’s fine for other people, but just not for me.

It feels so good to get back to work on these chairs after a six month hiatus. It’s like I can feel the guilt melting away. Now I’ve just gotta keep the momentum going long enough to finish the front of this chair, tackle the front and back of the other one, and, scariest of all, whip up those cushion covers. I have never wished so hard in my life that a cushion would just be attached to the dang chair. At least each cushion is a nice square, though, and I don’t have to deal with any of that t-cushion nonsense. I’m going to try to keep this anti-procrastination-just-dive-in-and-get-it-done thing going this weekend. Let’s hope the St. Patty’s day parade rolling mere blocks from my house doesn’t throw too big of a wrench in my productivity! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and a spectacular St. Patty’s day!

This corner in the front room is pretty much the last bastion of clutter in my house. Like nearly every other room in the place, this room lacks a closet, so this out-of-the-way corner tends to amass all the random crap I need a place for in the office.

I’ve been thinking about craigslisting a bookcase, hutch, china cabinet, armoire, etc…something relatively inexpensive to maximize vertical storage on that wall. But then the other day I saw this project on another blog. She used inexpensive Ikea Billy bookcases and some standard trim to create a whole wall of built-ins for under $400.

pssss…if you want to pin either of these images please do so from the original post over at Centsational Girl

I took a gander at the Ikea website, broke out my tape measure, and realized that two of these $5o bookcases would fit perfectly in that space (and like Centsational Girl I’d just use a box cutter to notch out an opening for the light switch in the back).

Ikea

And this $20 height extension would take it right up to the bottom of that weird part where the wall juts out below the ceiling (oh the joys of living in an old house–when central air was added the ducts had to go somewhere).

Ikea

This is one of those things I’ll dream about for a while and may or may not ever actually make a reality. And I gotta admit, there are some advantages to the idea of just throwing a thrifted piece of furniture over there–it’s easy, inexpensive, and could maybe even incorporate some (gasp) concealed storage. OMG a cabinet with DOORS would be amazing. But I’m going to keep the possibility of creating built ins for under $200 in my pocket in case I’m still storage-less next time I get the itch for a big project.

It’s that time again. Super-bloggers Sherry and Katie have rallied the masses to, as they put it, stop pinning and start doing. The whole idea is to take some of that inspiration you’ve been gathering for months and actually do something with it. I’ve been blowing up my baby fever pinboard with all kinds of nursery inspiration for months, but haven’t done a dang thing about it. One of the big things I’ve been inspired by is all of the “You Are My Sunshine” signs and prints on Etsy. I love the happy message for a nursery, plus my mom used to sing us a very similar song growing up so it smacks of sweet sentiment in my heart. Prices on Etsy ranged from under $20 to more than $100, but I knew that what I really wanted was to create something myself. It was a total bonus that I managed to spend a total of zero dollars by using supplies I already had on hand. Below are all the Etsy pieces that inspired me, with a link to the Etsy shop and to the pin on Pinterest under each.

Side note: If you like one of the inspiration pieces below and want to pin it, please be sure to either repin it from my pinboard or pin it directly from the Etsy shop. If you pin it from here it will link back to my blog and that’s not really fair to the person on Etsy who originally created it. Even though I’m shamelessly copying I want to give credit where credit is due!

Little Pergola | Pinterest

Epiphany’s Corner | Pinterest

In Mind 4 U | Pinterest

ColorBee | Pinterest

Little Wex | Pinterest

Go Jump in the Lake | Pinterest

Aren’t they all so lovely? I decided I liked the ones that had the words all aligned to one side the best. And since I want this to hang over the crib eventually I figured a landscape orientation would be most appropriate. I wanted to put my own spin on it, though. The whole ombre trend has really been inspiring me lately and I wanted to try it out, so I decided to do a yellow ombre background with white letters. Here’s the mockup I made in Publisher to get an idea of how to lay it out (I made the letters black so they’d be easier to see on screen).

I got the font for free at dafont.com. I’m always really overwhelmed by the number of free fonts available whenever I want one for a project. I guess I am just not detail- or design-oriented enough to be able to easily pick out which one will work best. And to be honest, this one probably won out thanks primarily to its name: Louisiannne. How could I pass up on a font named for the state I hail from? Also, it was in the “retro” category which is where I was hunting. You can download it for free here.

I had this canvas left over from my old office. Back before I had a blog I got this huge blank canvas on sale at Hobby Lobby and spent an evening in front of the TV doing my best to DIY some abstract art. It hung above the desk until I moved the office into the front room to make way for the future nursery. I placed my phone next to it in this picture to give you an idea of just how big this thing is–a generous two feet tall and three feet wide.

I gave it two coats of white wall paint, creating a blank slate for my genius.

I thought I had some yellow acrylic paint on hand but apparently I used it all up on some other project. I kind of panicked, since it was Sunday and Hobby Lobby was closed and I really didn’t want to go anywhere or spend any money anyway. I scoured my paint stash for colors I could maybe mix together to create the perfect shade, but no dice. I did, however, find some yellow Rit dye. I think I’d picked it up for some other project I never got around to tackling and it had been sitting in a drawer for months. Well, this was that forgotten bottle of dye’s lucky day because I decided that mixed together with some plain white paint it would create exactly the shade of yellow I was looking for. I had this matte white paint already lying around from when I found it on clearance at Lowe’s. You can never have too much spare paint on hand, I always say.

I used a spoon to scoop some white paint into a bowl. Nick got really nervous when he saw I was getting paint all over our dinnerware, but I assured him it would wash right off.

The dye comes out of the bottle looking really concentrated, so I only added a tiny bit.

But when I mixed it together (with a paintbrush so I could use the spoon to get more white paint if I needed to), it was pretty clear that a little was not going to go nearly as far as I’d thought.

I just kept adding more and more little by little until I had a nice sunshiney shade. It was pretty watery thanks to all the dye, but I figured that would just make blending easier. You know, like watercolors.

I took a deep breath and painted a wide swath across the bottom third of my canvas (including the edges).

Happy with the look, I used my spoon to add a little more white paint to the mix, squeezed my foam brush out into a paper towel to get the darker yellow out, and painted a band of the lighter shade across the middle third (again being sure to get the edges as well).

Then came the part that made me really nervous: blending. I squeezed out my brush again and used the dry brush to blur the line between the two shades.

Next I added a little more white paint to my bowl, squeezed my brush out again, and painted the third and final shade across the top. Then I went back with a dry brush and did some serious blending over the whole thing. I used a combination of a circular motion and sweeping horizontal strokes and just kind of went with the flow. I’m really happy with the result. It took forever to dry, though. Probably because the most saturated shade was so liquidy. I eventually got tired of waiting and used a blow dryer to speed up the process.

Meanwhile, I printed out the words for my sign in a HUGE font–375 pt, to be exact. I printed it on the ink saving mode, hence the weird appearance to the letters. I trimmed each page and taped them together, being careful to keep the letters straight and evenly spaced.

Then I laid them out on my sign. I had Nick help me with the math of figuring out how far apart to space each word. He’s better at stuff like that than I am and I think it helps him feel included.

Here’s where the magic happens, people. I totally could have written a post about just this part titled, How to Transfer Letters or Shapes to Any Surface and you all would have been amazed. I know I was totally blown away the first time I learned this technique (probably on a blog somewhere although I can’t remember which one). Before laying out my words on the canvas I flipped each one over and shaded over the outline of each letter in pencil.

Then, when I had my letters in place on the canvas, I simply traced the outline of each letter. You can use a pencil, pen, stylus, whatever. Anything to just apply pressure where you want your image to transfer.

And when you lift the page, ta-da! All that carbon you laid down on the back of the page with your shading was transferred to the new surface by the pressure you applied. It’s a good idea to carefully lift your paper to check how things are going periodically. See how the top right of my S was looking a little sketchy?

I just laid the paper back down and traced that part again. All fixed.

In no time I had the whole shebang transferred to my canvas.

This is when I started doubting myself, though. I didn’t like how the smaller font of Are and My looked, plus it looked like the first half of Sunshine was a little crooked. I walked away for a little while and came back and still hated it, so I tried to carefully erase it. You can see how well that went.

Once the eraser made such a mess of things I pretty much had no choice but to paint over the problem areas. I was feeling pretty confident in my blending abilities by this point, though, so it wasn’t too bad. Good thing I’d saved the leftover paint from earlier in the project. I just added more yellow or white as needed to match the particular shade needed for each area.

Then I printed out the words Are and My in the same big font as the rest of the sign and traced them, along with the first half of Sunshine, onto the canvas using the same technique as before. This time I used a level to keep everything straight.

Using a cheapo artist’s brush and the same white paint as I’d mixed with the yellow, I carefully painted over each letter three times for crisp, clean white.

Ta-da! It’s even hanging on the part of wall I painted with the sample pot of Classic Gray, so this is exactly how it will look in the finished nursery.

And here’s a wider shot to give you an idea of how the room will eventually come together. I just used the old nails left from when this same canvas hung above the desk, so of course it’s subject to move up or down or left or right as needed to look nice hanging over the crib once we get it. And obviously there’s still a lot to be done in this room, not the least of which is painting the rest of the walls. But once we knock that out, bring in furniture (including some sweet secondhand rehabs), and add a smattering of fun and colorful decor, I think it will be a perfectly charming place for a baby to live.

I’m really happy with the sign. It came out exactly like I’d imagined and is full of sweet sentiment–You Are My Sunshine is Louisiana’s state song and it also reminds me of a similar song my mom sang to my sister and me when we were little. And how meaningful is it that I spent several hours working away at this first ever project for my sweet little-boy-to-be? You couldn’t pay me to paint a straight line on a wall but I went over every one of those letters three times, channeling all the neatness I could muster into my not-so-steady-hand. My heart will be broken the day he decides he’s too old for such “baby” decor–or when I decide I’m so over ombré, whichever comes first. I think I’ll be able to get a solid couple of years out of it, though. Plus it could easily be repurposed in a girl’s nursery or even elsewhere in the house. I know I wouldn’t mind seeing such a sweet and happy message in my bedroom every morning.

So there you have it. The first ever project I tackled for the nursery. I couldn’t be prouder. Now let’s just hope it doesn’t get destroyed in a few months by bodily functions gone awry. Should I consider protecting it with some sort of wipeable clear coat? I keep hearing horror stories about baby boys shooting pee all over the room and I doubt the watercolor-ish paint mixture would stand up well to scrubbing.

PS Be sure to check out the projects of the lovely ladies who sponsored this round of the Pinterest Challenge. Here’s Katie’s, Sherry’s, Cassie’s, and Erin’s.