Spring has always been my most favorite season. The warm weather, my April birthday, long afternoons and the presence of crawfish all combine to make this time of year seem almost magical. I think I’m also hardwired from the 19 consecutive years I spent in formal education settings to associate spring with a sense of optimism–a feeling that something wonderful is just around the corner. This is in contrast to summer, when the South Louisiana sun is unbearably hot and despite the sweltering temps I feel haunted by the knowledge that fall is right around the corner. But Spring! Spring is made for front porches and crawfish boils and gardens and strawberry beer. Spring is the stuff life is made of.

my favorite weather is bird chirping weather the wheatfield

Sometime around March I usually talk myself into regularly shaving my legs again and the reward is spring dresses. There are few things I love more than a good jersey knit but after I had Jack I realized that most of my favorite dresses wouldn’t work for breastfeeding. Even though Jack is now weaned I do hope to have and nurse another baby down the line so I only buy nursing-friendly dresses these days. This one looks like it would be so comfy and flattering.

Women's Cross-Front Jersey Dress Old Navy

Women’s Cross-Front Jersey Dress | Old Navy

One thing I’m hoping to invest in soon is a really great pair of flats. I like to keep a pretty minimalist wardrobe and rotate the same 2-3 pairs of shoes until they wear out. The last few pairs of flats I’ve had were very inexpensive and wore out quickly. I’d go that route again if I found some that I loved, but I’m also willing to spend a little more if I think they’ll last more than a season. Have any of you found a comfortable and pretty pair of flats that will last forever? I prefer neutral colors that will go with everything. I’m considering the pair below!

Hush Puppies Women's Chaste Ballet Flat

Hush Puppies Women’s Chaste Ballet Flat | Amazon**

And since Spring is swimsuit weather in this part of the country I’m already daydreaming about trips to the local splashpad and a possible beach vacation. I already have a swimsuit that I love but man oh man am I tempted to spend an obscene amount of money on this little number.

Ruffled Halter Maillot

Ruffled Halter Maillot | Anthropologie

I know that the first day of Spring isn’t officially for another nine days, but it was 76 and sunny yesterday. Of course it’s overcast and supposed to rain today and the humidity is 90%, but I’ll take it.

**Amazon affiliate link. If you click that link and then subsequently make a purchase I will receive a small portion of the proceeds at no additional cost to you.

Well, this weekend was not nearly as productive as I’d hoped. I started watching Scandal on Netflix last week and lost pretty much my entire weekend to the world of Olivia Pope. I’m proud to say that I did attempt a couple of projects but–darn–I was met with a roadblock at each turn and forced to head back to the television. Guess those things will have to wait for next weekend. Except wait, there’s an awesome St. Patrick’s Day parade rolling through our neighborhood next weekend so, hmmm, I’m not sure I can make any promises. Anyway, I did get one thing done! I’ve been wanting to create some sort of DIY art in the kitchen and thought I’d try my hand at watercolors since all the other bloggers make it look so easy. I started by tracing some fruit from stock illustrations. I filled them in with colored pencil just for fun.

011 (570x381)

Then I flipped my paper over and rubbed firmly on the back to transfer each silhouette onto a piece of watercolor paper. I tried to fit several onto each page so that later when I was painting I could experiment with different shades and techniques and pick out my favorite of each set. As for the paper, my pad of 10 sheets came with a set of watercolors for about $3 (with a coupon).

020 (380x570)

That evening I sat down with a glass of wine, my new set of watercolors, and Scandal to get in touch with my inner artist. I mixed together shades of yellow, green, and brown, but they all look sort of fluorescent below thanks to the evening lighting.

034 (570x380)

Once they were all dry I scanned them into my computer, picked my favorites, and then cropped and adjusted the lighting/coloring as needed using the basic photo editing software that came with my computer.

IMG_20140308_0001 (2) (492x570)

Then I used this nifty website to remove the background from each image so I was left with just my watercolored fruit on a transparent background.

Untitled (570x320)

Once I had my six pieces of fruit cleaned up nice and pretty, I started playing around with arranging them in Microsoft Publisher. I’d thought maybe I would use all six pieces but they just didn’t work together, then I thought maybe I would do just one piece really large, but what finally won me over was this grouping of an apple, a pear, and grapes all in the same shade of green.

Picture1 (570x438)

I sent it to be printed on white cardstock at Office Depot ($1.45) since I needed a 10×13 image for the frame that I’d already bought (with a coupon so it was $16 and I also had a gift card so it was kind of free). But for some reason it printed smaller than I’d expected which wouldn’t have been a problem except for the black border I’d forgotten to remove. I had to trim the border off and by then it was too small to fit in the matted opening of the frame. What to do? I checked my fabric stash and found an old table runner from Ikea that was the perfect width. I cut it to length, used some double-sided tape to secure my “painting’ to the center of it, then stuck it in the frame.

104 (570x380)

089 (570x380)

We actually eat each of these fruits regularly. There were other perfectly fine fruit I could’ve painted but it felt inauthentic to display something on our walls that we don’t really eat.

068 (570x380)

I’m on the hunt for a big silver serving tray to hang above the stove. It’ll be at about the same height as the fruit and I think they’ll get along nicely.

048 (570x381)

If you’ve ever thought about watercoloring give it a try! It’s easy and fun, especially if you give yourself the coloring book experience by tracing your outlines first. And I can’t take credit for the idea to scan and edit it–that came from here–but that really took the pressure off of me to get it “perfect” while I was painting because I knew I could adjust the colors or retouch small areas if needed. I didn’t even know what the final outcome would be while I was painting. I was free to just relax and have fun with it and figure it out as I went. I have to say that I’m really pleased with the outcome!

I hope y’all had a great weekend! Thanks for reading!

One day last week I found myself in the nearby town of Baker. I’d driven there to pick up the part for our broken washing machine and I noticed a thrift store that I’d never been to in the same strip mall as my destination. I didn’t have Jack with me so I figured I’d pop in for a moment–I’ve been looking for a large silver platter to hang over the stove. I didn’t find a silver platter, but I did find a small brass pot for fifty cents.

015 (381x570)

I bought it thinking I might list it in my shop, but I knew it was the kind of thing that not everyone could appreciate and, actually, when I placed it on the windowsill in our kitchen I kind of fell in love with the way it looked contrasted with all that white and blue.

015 (2) (570x380)

I’ve had my eyes peeled for a small succulent to place inside, but I got inpatient and settled for a pothos that was only three dollars. I just left the plant in its plastic pot with an inch or so of pea gravel from our driveway underneath to raise it to the proper height and provide drainage. Hopefully since this one is right next to the sink I can do a better job of keeping it watered than the pothos in my office (which is looking pretty sad at the moment).

006 (570x378)

I hope y’all have a great weekend. It’s been rainy and chilly almost all week here and we’ve got more of the same ahead for the weekend, but I’ll be snug as a bug in my little house with my little family.

Last week I began a somewhat ambitious project–replacing the old bifold doors on our pantry with a pair of Shaker-style doors. Remember how the old doors were too small and difficult to operate? We honestly just left them open most of the time because they were such a pain.

011 (380x570)

In Part 1 of this project Nick cut some 3/4″ plywood to size and then together we trimmed it out with some lattice strips.

074 (380x570)

Next I filled all the nail holes and joints with wood filler and sanded it smooth.

074 (380x570)

I also filled and sanded the sides to help smooth them out and even any low spots.

085 (570x380)

Then I set up a painting station, conveniently located so that I could catch up on my DVR while I worked.

090 (380x570)

I put two coats of primer all over, then two coats of white paint on just the backs and the sides. I left the fronts primed but unpainted so that I wouldn’t stress about the paint getting messed up while we were hanging them. I always use Olympic no-VOC primer and paint.

110 (380x570)

Since we made these doors ourselves they are not quite perfect and if the doors get switched or turned upside down they won’t line up properly. To make sure we kept them oriented correctly I marked the tops with two small arrows using a sharpie. I’d intended to paint over them once they were hung but it’s too high for even Nick to see so I haven’t yet. I laid the doors face-down on the kitchen floors with the arrows pointing together to attach the hinges.

119 (570x380)

We went with an aged brass finish to match some of the older hinges in our kitchen.

117 (570x380)

133 (380x570)

Then we used some scrap wood to prop them in place and, after checking to make sure they were level, we marked, drilled, and screwed the hinges to the frame of the pantry.

146 (380x570)

I was seriously holding my breath as Nick tightened the final screw and removed the scrap wood. It was kind of a letdown when I saw that the door on the left wouldn’t lay flat!

160 (380x570)

But no worries. I took the opportunity to finish painting and drill holes for the knobs, then went back to Lowe’s the next morning and picked up a pair of these magnetic door catches.

168 (570x380)

We just attached the magnets to the top frame of the opening and a metal plate to each door. Now the doors stay closed but are still easy to open.

211 (570x380)

I attached the knobs and–voila–mission accomplished!

DIY Pantry Doors

225 (380x570)

I’m worried they look a little plain and am actually thinking about adding some more trim across the middle near the knobs–sort of like this. It would be really easy to do but I’m going to live with them a little while before deciding.

181 (380x570)

I was surprised to feel a little underwhelmed when they were complete, but when I look back at the photo of the old bifold doors I’m reminded that they are a massive improvement. And now I have an opportunity to create some storage on the insides of the doors–like this and this. It’s hard to say exactly how much we spent on these doors since we used only part of a huge piece of plywood, but I’d say it’s probably around $50. I have been keeping track of how much we’ve spent in total on the kitchen so far and am proud to say that it’s still under $500. That’s not a lot of money for the huge functional and visual impact that the we’ve made. Just take a look back at this “before” photo:

Picture1 (570x380)

We’re definitely moving now into some of the more functional/less glamorous changes, like finding a new home for the microwave, updating the range vent, possibly adding some new lighting, and organizing, but I do have some fun and easy ideas for decorating and DIY art that will help round out the scary and expensive stuff. Excited!