What’s a girl to do when she’s hopping to get crafty? Why, invite some fun gal pals to join her, of course! This past week I invited three of my “teacher” friends (although at this point we are definitely friends connected by more than just our jobs) over for some tasty treats and crafts. While I love being a mom to a rambunctious boy, I also love being a giddy girl, and that’s what this night was all about.
We started off the evening by munching on peanut butter pretzel truffles, banana pudding topped with salted caramel (delish), popcorn, hummus with carrots and those amazing homemade chips from Whole Foods, along with blackberry Izzies (which I think make any occasion feel a tad snazzier).
Believe me when I tell you that I debated and debated over which crafts to do. There were several ideas that I latched on to, but they involved too many steps—like drying overnight, etc. I was finally smitten with two ideas, and because I wanted to provide a smidge of choice, along with the opportunity engage in new experiences (I had never used fabric medium or Mod Podge), I decided to bring them both to the table: stenciling tea towels and using Mod Podge to decorate terra cotta pots. You can check out the online tutorials for tea towels here and flower pots here.
Having never done either of these crafts before, I was pleasantly surprised when they turned out even better than I had hoped. The tea towels were especially cute! Also, although I wasn’t initially convinced that repositionable spray adhesive was necessary for stenciling, it turned out to be the most amazing tool. I highly recommend using it if you’re planning to stencil anything.
It was super fun hanging out and playing with all kinds of art supplies—some that we hadn’t used since our elementary art classes! Everyone had great attitudes about trying new things and putting their own spin on each project, so I count the evening as a definite success. Check out our creations!
One towels, two ways…
And to fill their pretty pots, my Mister picked up a few flowers for all the girls to take home. Isn’t he sweet?
A few tips on hosting a craft night:
1. Spend some serious time researching appropriate crafts. Pinterest was certainly my advocate as I was searching around for ideas, but I also found great ideas by finding a craft I liked and then going to the original blog. Once on the blog, I was able to search around for other ideas created by a blogger whose style I liked. Obviously it’s not necessary to do two different crafts, but it helped to spread out the tools since not everyone needed the same thing at the same time.
2. Purchase the craft items over time. By saving up my Michael’s and Hobby Lobby coupons, I was able to save 40-50% on nearly everything. Oh, and Mod Podge is a dollar cheaper at Hobby Lobby than Michael’s. : ) For the record, I considered making my own Mod Podge, but having never used it before, I wasn’t willing to risk it.
3. Think through everything you will need ahead of time. I really wanted the craft night to be relaxing for everyone, so I tried to make sure I had every base covered. For example, I had to wash, dry, and iron the tea towels ahead of time. Even simple things can make a big difference, like having plenty of scissors, paper towels, cardboard for stenciling, and a protective covering for your work surface (I rolled out butcher paper).
4. Try corralling all your supplies in one central area. I was able to use a round two-tier stand in the middle of the table for most of our tools, keeping items in reach of everyone. By the way, thanks for letting me “steal” your stand, Mom! : )
5. Go into the night with the mindset of having fun, first and foremost. Crafts can be tricky, and sometimes things just simply don’t turn out as well as you hope. Thankfully, we didn’t run into many snags, but since everyone mainly wanted to just be together and try out new things, it really didn’t matter if the fabric on the pots was a bit wrinkly.
In the end, this was a great excuse to participate in something out of the everyday norm, and the stenciling bug has definitely bitten me now, so watch out! There just might be more of that in the Braham fam future… Have you been getting crafty lately? Do tell!
I really wish you knew how ugly and dirty and old our original windows were, because then you would appreciate our NEW ones so much more! Perhaps this gives you an idea?
That’s right! Brand spankin’ new windows, folks, and everything sure does seem bigger and brighter around here now. We really had no idea how frustrating our windows would become when we bought our house. To give you some perspective, they were wooden,
quadruple pain one-pane with an exterior storm window (as in, impossible to clean, so I just gave up, which means years of grime clouded our view), and basically painted shut. Let’s just say it’s been a tad frustrating, especially since we love to enjoy the sunny weather of CO. Obviously we knew we wanted new windows, but it just wasn’t in the budget, especially after we sank a fair amount of money into renovating right after purchasing the house. So we hitched up our britches, and little by little we squirreled away our pennies. After saving money we received over multiple Christmases, the occasional staging job, along with Matt’s overtime and spiff money—we were able to start! Since we wanted to pay in cash as we went, we decided to install our windows in three stages (there was no additional cost to do it this way), so we tackled the leaky windows in the nursery first (these ended up being installed the same day Liam was born—the squirt arrived a month early), then the broken windows in the kitchen (all which were at the back of the house), and FINALLY we were able to complete the front windows of the living room and master bedroom.
For the record, it’s crazy hard to get good window pictures, but here’s a glimpse.
We debated which company to use for quite awhile, and in the end we went with Window World, opting for their second level of window. The thing that really sold us on Window World is their guarantee to fix any window that breaks, fogs up, etc., and that we are able to transfer that guarantee to the next owners if we decide to sell down the road. While custom window companies sound swanky and all, we realized that just being able to open windows without breaking a sweat was going to feel amazing, so no need to break the bank on the most expensive windows possible. To us, even basic windows are a major upgrade!
I can honestly say it feels great to have saved up cash to pay for the windows. Although there were days when waiting felt like a punishment, it was worth it not to have debt hanging over our head. Alrighty then…off to enjoy gazing out at world!
Yow—I hadn’t realized how MIA I’ve been until I was chatting with my mom on the phone and she said my aunt asked her if I was okay since I hadn’t blogged in forever! For the record, the concern was touching, and I had to laugh. I’ll chalk my absence up to several couldn’t-put-them-down books, the crazy end-of-school grading, keeping up with Mr. Mobile Liam (who has been lovingly dubbed LiLi (think LeeLee, not Lily) by his 2-year old buddy Parker), snagging moments of warm weather between blizzards, and trying my hand at refinishing a dresser. What have you been up to?
But really I’ve just been itching to get crafty lately. Some people get the urge to exercise; I get the urge to play with spray paint and hot glue guns. Then the perfect evening project landed in my lap—you know, the kind you can do when your baby is asleep for the night and you’re avoiding the stack of papers threatening to overtake your life. Check out the full instructions for this project—with photos—at Katie B’s blog. The best part? You only need some straws, thread, a can of spray paint, and a whole lotta patience. And it doesn’t hurt if your hubby happens to be awesome at geometry—especially if you didn’t do so well in that particular class…
Check out my latest 3D creation!
I am in love. Maybe it’s the texture? Not sure, but this is one of my favorite quickie projects to date.
I would suggest doing this project over the course of several days, as I found myself going a bit cross-eyed at times. Oh, and at first I tried using one long piece of thread, but that was insanely frustrating, so I ended up cutting smaller pieces and then trimming off the leftover ends when the project was finished. For full instructions, head over to Katie B’s blog.
When I was in elementary school, one of my favorite ways to whittle away a Saturday was snuggled in our overstuffed chair between stacks of books. (Actually, this would still be my weekend preference, but life is a tad more demanding now.) I would literally finish one and pick up another. It was like Pringles—once you pop, you can’t stop. Man, I sooo hope my kids love reading! Boredom is simply never an issue when there are books to be read. Anyway, while visiting my folks recently, one of my cousins (Josh, are you out there?)mentioned that he’d read Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, which is written by Laura Hillenbrand, author of one of my favorite books, Seabiscuit. He recommended it highly, plus it was already on my Goodreads list, so I decided to check it out. It was amazing. In fact, I really can’t recommend this book highly enough. The only problem is that you will disappear for a few days, and your husband will be bummed when you refuse to hang out with him because you are completely riveted.
If you’re looking for another compelling read, I would also suggest Brother Andrew’s book, God’s Smuggler, which is an autobiographical account of one man’s work behind the Iron Curtain. Your faith will be strengthened. Also, I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned it before, but Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are left me with quite a heart check this year. Definitely a book to read, give away—rinse and repeat.
Any good book recommendations out there?
P.S. Since every post needs a photo…here are some of my recent favs, completely unstaged.
Pressed up against the sliding glass door…
He had to endure a few extra seconds of being stuck while I snapped these photos…then I rescued him. : )
Playin’ around at the park…
Indoor skateboarding with his pal…this didn’t last too long. : )
Pool time! This was Liam’s first swim, and he was a champ!
After waking up at 5 am to catch an 8:30 am flight from Denver to Chicago-Midway last weekend, I found myself remembering my great uncle Harold’s words of wisdom about attitude. Did I mention that I was traveling alone with a 10 month old?
To make a long story short, our incoming plane was delayed getting into Denver due to bad weather in Kansas, and since they apparently couldn’t find another crew or plane, we ended up leaving DIA around noon, rather than the original 8:30 am take-off time. Liam missed his morning nap (which is essential to keeping us sane), and I was down to a handful of diapers and a limited supply of baby-friendly food. Basically, all of my fears about traveling alone with an infant were coming true, and I worried that Liam might have a meltdown in our very confined space on the plane and we would be those people. Even worse, what if we had to spend all day in the airport, only to find that our flight was cancelled (there were plenty of people in this predicament from an earlier storm, and they were cashed out all over DIA)? Then the light bulb went off.
Self. You are the adult. Your attitude will determine much about this situation. Liam actually doesn’t seem to mind being in the airport. In fact, he’s practically having the time of his life being social with anyone and everyone in the vicinity. That glass? Perfect for licking and people watching from above the terminal. Those walls? Very few electrical outlets to be concerned with. The floors? Dirty as all get out, but plenty of new space to explore. Now pull yourself together and relax. You’re only borrowing trouble.
So I did what all good moms do when they’re desperate. I took pictures.
In the end, Liam didn’t sleep a wink, but he was happy the entire time we waited in the airport and during the flight. Looking back, the extra hours were quite short in the scheme of things—although it seemed an eternity in that moment. Still, I realized that once I was able to let go of my original expectations, the situation became significantly more bearable. I sense that this is a significant lesson in parenting, as so often our kids are affected by our own attitudes. Can you relate?
In case you’re wondering, if you add up the letters in the word “attitude,” they equal 100% (a=1, t=20, etc). Thanks for the words of wisdom, Uncle Harold. They come to mind more often than you’ll ever know.
And just for fun, here are some shots from a few weeks ago. After all, someone other than me needs to appreciate them. : )
There’s been a little addition to our basement stairwell. See that ugly old electrical box? It needed something to hide behind… Welcome, oh long awaited chalkboard!
After a quick prepping of the surface (I followed these instructions), he was ready to go.
I would have loved to DIY this baby, but sadly, the paint itself would have cost more than this piece altogether, not to mention the time involved. Perhaps I’ll make one down the road, but for now, I’m thoroughly enjoying our new store-bought art (from Homegooods, if you were wondering). Hurray for finally covering up our old electrical box! Goodbye ugly, hello happy.
Since we already have a memo board on our fridge, I plan to use this space for my favorite quotes. Check out our current inspiration.
What are you chalkin’ about these days? : )
Hi, family. This one is for you. Mom, hopefully it will tide you over for one more week. : )
Happy Monday, all! We had a great weekend—just the right amount of activity + relaxation. I also had a bit of alone time *gasp* since Matt decided to take Liam for a hike on Saturday morning—love that they got in some male bonding. Oh, those cheesy mugs…
Liam and I had just hiked together on Friday afternoon, so I wasn’t all that jazzed to wake at the crack of dawn for a chilly blitz up Barr Trail, but I was more than happy to enjoy a quiet morning thrifting around town at my local favorites, the ARC (they mark nearly everything to 50% off on Saturdays) and Habitat for Humanity’s Restore. While out and about, I snagged a few photos of some items that caught my eye. Obviously many of these are in need of cosmetic upgrades, but since I mainly look for good lines (as in, the shape and design of a piece) when thrifting, I thought some of my finds were worth sharing.
They had two of these huge bowls, and I loved the cut-outs. Sadly, they were waaay more pricey than most pieces I find at the ARC, but they still make nice eye candy.
I have picked up several of these little cloches over the years, as they make great accents. I always paint or stain the wood piece to freshen it up.
I was super impressed to see four extra-long pinch-pleat curtains on the rack; it’s always nice to see high quality items, and since there was a set of four, they could definitely be used to outfit an entire room.
Bamboo frames are one of my favorite finds, and this one was nice and large. With new art, and possibly some colorful paint, this would make a fun wall statement. Keep in mind that you can always paint over the old matting, too.
This lumbar pillow in a funky ikat print was a happy find.
I spy me some Pottery Barn cushions… Since these are white, they can be bleached and laid out in the sun for a quick brightening. And of course, I love finding full sets of matching name-brand items (there were six of them).
This classic chair would be super chic in a new upholstery. It looks like a fairly straight-forward DIY job that reminds me of when I recovered this lovely lady.
I fell pretty hard for this octagon table’s unique shape. What a steal at $20! Wouldn’t she be pretty in a soft gray surrounded by upholstered parsons chairs in a dining room? Or maybe an eclectic yellow with mismatched chairs to be used as a game table…
This long wicker bench boasted storage space inside, and the cushion could easily be removed, as it wasn’t in the greatest shape.
The clean lines and simple feet of this mid-century modern dresser drew me in (sorry, I couldn’t get a good picture, since it was crammed between lots of other furniture—it had about six drawers and peg feet), along with the interesting pulls.
Birds—love ‘em. This wooden one nearly made it home with me, but I resisted…
I found some cool lights at the Restore. This one was sooo sweet and would be adorable in a little girl’s room or a powder bath.
Massive lantern lights are all the rage right now, and I really dig their craftsman look. There were two of these, and I think they would make a great pair over a long dining room table. I would definitely spray paint them, as the shiny brass look isn’t my favorite, but again, it’s a quick and easy fix. Priced at $30 each, you’ve got yourself some serious lighting for a great deal.
This guy was much smaller and would look cool in a boy’s room or hanging from an outdoor pergola.
At just $4 a pop, these outdoor lights would be dapper painted an oil-rubbed bronze.
Brainstorming ways to beautify old, used items gets me all giddy, but since I have limited cash and time to work on projects, this was the next best thing. I will definitely be taking my camera on more thrifting excursions!
If you were to pick from this virtual thrift store, what item would you buy?