I Love Lamp

If you've seen "Anchorman", you've probably heard this line.  Personally, it's one of my least favorite movies but Anthony can't stop laughing during it so for his sake, we get this title.  But, on to the real reason why 'I love lamp'.  We were blessed to go home to Anthony's family in New York this year for Christmas.  It was the first Christmas we've spent with family since we've been married!  It was an awesome two weeks filled with lots of laughs, tons of good food (thanks mom), and hours upon hours of playing games - Bananagrams, Scattergories, Golf, Skip-bo, Phase Ten, and Settlers of Catan...awesome games.  Since we flew there and are tightwads, meaning we didn't want to pay checked baggage fees (thankfully we got one checked bag free through our credit card), we bought most of our presents after we got there to save space.  We already had ideas of what we were getting for everyone except for mom and dad.  Then we saw their lamps.  Let me first say this, we love our mom and dad  but their lamps, well, they were a little ancient.  Ancient but with great curves!  So of course my mind goes straight to how-can-I-refurbish-them mode and then on to spray paint.  Anthony jumps right on board thinking of colors and then we get to the next hurdle...would they let us?  I felt bad just taking the lamps and totally changing them without asking, even if it will be their Christmas present, so we nonchalantly asked, "Hey, do you like your lamps?  I guess what we mean is, could we get you new ones?"  They gave us the "sure, we'd love new lamps!" answer we were longing to hear and to Wal-Mart we went to snatch up some paint and new shades.  Based on the colors in their living room, we 'compromised' on oil-rubbed bronze spray paint.  I really wanted to paint them a glossy brick red but in the end, Anthony convinced me that oil-rubbed bronze made more sense and was a more neutral, subtle choice.  
So here they are right before go-time:
I taped off the light bulb socket and switch to make sure I didn't get any paint inside the lamp.
Also, we had to be discreet since mom and dad didn't know we were actually re-doing their old lamps so we brought the lamps over to grandma's house where we painted them in her basement since it was too cold outside.  I learned to obey the directions on the back of spray paint cans last year where it says, "apply in temperatures between 50 and 90 degrees".  If you don't, the paint will develop lines and look cracked...take my word for it.

Since they're made out of metal (gold) and ceramic (green), I went the safe route and primed before I painted. 
All primed!  On to the best part...painting!

This is after 4 light coats of paint:
I sprayed right-side up, upside down, left side, front side, back side...every inch.  They looked amazing!!!  I say "Pottery Barn style meets the Bean Team Budget".  We forwent (is that a word?) our budget a little with these lamps since we wanted only the best for our mom and dad.  In the end, we ended up spending $6 on paint (of which we used barely any of the primer and a little under half the can of paint) and $30 on some sweet shades that completed our project.  So, two new, custom, stylish lamps complete with sentimental value for $36 bucks...a great Christmas present if you ask us.  The question remaining after we were done was "do you think they'll recognize the lamps?"  We were dying to find out...
Nope! They thought they were entirely new lamps!  How's that for boosting our egos?  We did reveal the fact that they were their old lamps and were delighted at their surprise and joy...and what a Merry Christmas it was!   :)

Because we're over-achievers in the home improvement area, you're probably not surprised to find out that we went on to re-painting and decorating mom and dad's spare bathroom.  Unfortunately, we didn't take any pictures but the bathroom went from a bright orange to a very light grayish-green (Valspar's Tea Stain).  We had a blast doing it and look forward to tackling another room on our next vacation...the question is, who's house will it be?  Any volunteers?  ;)

My Favorite Color is White

White spray paint is a staple item in our household.  Currently we are loaded up with satin and gloss sheens just in case a random spray-painting mood comes on.  My philosophy is that ANYTHING looks good spray painted white...Anthony agrees but always comes up with another color when I share my "this would look good white" idea.
Recently, I went to a great discount store (after seeing that they were having a '75% off clearance items' sale) and found these two vases for $2 each.
 I liked the colors, but I didn't like them together and they didn't match our decor.  So...
four dollars (plus tax), a little bit of white spray paint, and a sunny day later, this is what I created:
The spray paint (Krylon from Wal-Mart) stuck great to the glass without me having to use primer, although I did put on a couple of thin coats.
Much brighter and ready to add some light and style to our 'empty' fireplace ledge. 

The Berr Chair Finale

It's all done and we've gone from 'old school' (quite literally)...

to 21st century cool and modern!

When I took it back to it's proud owners, they told me that the hook on the side of the chair (right side, close to the top) was where the child would hang her rosary and when it came time for prayer, she would stand up, turn around, and kneel on the seat facing the back of the chair.  The top ledge would serve as the top ledge of a little kneeler.  How cool is that?!  It's definitely going to be filed in the back of my mind in hopes that one day, we'll be able to DIY a chair like that for our kids...it would make a cute little desk chair or even just an accent chair, with double-duty as a place for prayer.  I love it!!!

The Berr Chair: Be Seated

On to, potentially, the most important part of the chair...because what is a chair without a seat, right? 
When we reupholstered our dining room chairs, we were fortunate not to have to buy new foam as the existing stuff had held up pretty darn good and was still comfy on the tush.  This wasn't the case with the 'Berr Chair'.  When Anthony removed the old seat cover, the cushion was literally falling in pieces to the floor and scattering in the wind.  He joked that it was probably asbestos...joking hopefully being the key word.  Either way, he took the seat outside so as to not litter our living room with tiny pieces of old foam.  Here's the seat stripped clean of old pleather material, asbestos?, and tiny nails that were a pain in the patooshkie to get out.

On to the the foam.  I wanted the chair to be really comfortable so I opted for a high-density, 2 inch, pre-cut into a square foam that I got at JoAnn Fabrics for $7 using a coupon.  Using the serrated knife from our kitchen (you use what you got, right?) I held the foam together with the seat and zipped along each side to create the foam of the seat's dreams.
Side note:  I did this holding the seat edge I was cutting over the end of our fireplace ledge in case you were wondering how I managed to not destroy our floors.  Fireplace turned make-shift work bench...like I said, you use what you got.

The next part was the biggest learning experience for us as we tried to upholster the foam seat.  You see, the high-density foam is pretty darn firm and so it was hard to staple the fabric on to get a 'professional' look...read on. 
 First we made sure to spray the fabric with Scotch Gard (very smelly so I did it outside) and then I simply laid the seat foam-facing-fabric-wise, wrapped the fabric around and up, and Anthony stapled.  What did we get?  A square-edged seat that looked like a cardboard box wrapped up with pretty fabric.  Not what I was envisioning.  Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture.

Out came the staples and in came the scissors.  I ended up trimming off the top edge to made a diagonal edge in hopes that that would cure the problem.  Then, with Anthony's help, I knelt on the edge of the side of the seat while he stapled so that when the fabric attached and I 'un-knelt', it would be pulled really tight to give a rounded effect to the cushioning underneath.

All done!

Cute, comfy, rounded, and ready to be paired with the 'Berr Chair'! 
P.S.  If you guessed that we'd used this fabric, kudos to you!

The Berr Chair: Prime Time

Onto the next phase of the 'Berr Chair' renovation:  priming.  I made sure to use an oil-based primer which keeps stains from seeping through caused by the wood of the chair...I'm not sure how stains come through or even appear (since I sanded and cleaned it like mad) but I made the mistake of using water-based primer on a wood desk I painted and staining did come through.  A few months after the desk incident, I read that you should only use oil-based primer on wood and had an 'ah-hah!' moment.  Another helpful hint I learned:  you can paint water-based paint over oil-based primer but never oil-based paint over water-based primer.  Got it?  Good.

Here's the chair during the priming process:
 I ended up painting two coats of primer for more coverage, better protection, and just so I could use less paint.

Here it is, all primed and proper:

Going for a smooth, more sleek look, I ended up using spray paint vs. regular, latex paint.  I went with Krylon's (from Wal-Mart for $3) semi-gloss white paint because it has a spray nozzle that sprays in a line (you can change it from spraying horizontally or vertically too) and I think that gives a better coverage...or gives a better coverage in less time than paints that spray in a circle.

So, out came my handy-dandy, spray-painting plywood and away I went.
This is after 4 very light coats.  I wanted to make sure I didn't have any drippage so the lighter the coats, the better.  I ended up putting on 8 coats...I know, that's a lot.  But, it looks amazing!  Just wait until you see it...in a future post!  :)

Missed phase one?  Read about it here.

The Berr Chair (Phase I)

(Pronounced The 'Bear' Chair).  This is the (beginning of a) story about a lone, antique, Belgium school chair...and me...and the family it belongs to.  You see we are good friends to an amazing family who happened to have a chair sitting around that, well, was quite past it's prime.  I was over babysitting one day when I laid my eyes on the tired little chair and (of course) started dreaming of how it could be made 'young' again.  I didn't know what they had planned for it but, for lack of projects going on at our house, I asked if I could refinish it for them.  To my joy and surprise, they said they would love it if I did.  Home came the little chair with me and off went my mind reeling with different colors and fabrics.  Here it is, tired and worn out from the past century:

After removing the old seat (which will return in cushy cuteness), I grabbed some sand paper that had been left over from a Vacation Bible School project and took the project outside.  In order for the paint to stick, I needed to sand down the chair just enough to get most of the existing varnish off (which had already been mostly scratched off by years of use...and Belgium kids who needed their little fingernails clipped). 

Sanding can make quite the mess, so doing it outside makes clean up a lot easier. 
After the "Berr Chair" was sanded enough, I wiped it down with a damp cloth.  I didn't use too much water to wipe it down because too much could warp the 'naked' wood.  The damp cloth, rinsed out a few times, was all I needed to get all the sanding powder off so that it didn't get mixed in the paint.

.           .           .
Next time on "Bean In Love":  See the "Berr Chair" go to 'prime time' and get the fresh coat of paint it's been waiting decades for!

Also, stay tuned and find out what color we decided to paint it and which of these three fabrics will allow for comfortable seating! 


This past Saturday we were fortunate enough to actually be at home all day and just lounge...okay, so maybe I'm stretching it a little on the lounge part...do we ever just lounge?  Ummm...no.  We're the couple whose minds are always running.  Even Anthony's runs, along with his mouth, while he's asleep.  So anyway, we spent our day at home cleaning up the leaves in the yard, sweeping the patio, and tidying up the house.  By noon we were done and Anthony began his hide-out in the office for the rest of the day writing a paper for a grad class.  Then there was me.  Of course I can't just sit and watch T.V. or take a nap...so, I sought and found a project.

The small decorative pillow in our guestroom is simply an old pillow covered and folded with a standard size (not to mention very irregular) pillow case. 
 Yes, it's weird but I needed a decorative pillow that was white and that was all I had.  The problem, along with the pillow case being way to big, is that there's a gaping hole in the seam on one side.  This is how, Operation "Make a new pillow cover out of the existing case" began.

First, I turned the case inside out so that I could cut it to the shape I needed it to be.  Then, of course, it has to be sewn inside-out to look good right-side-out.  :) 
Can you see how irregular it was?  It figures since I only paid about 50 cents for it awhile ago. 
Since I wanted this to be a quick project because I had to cook dinner, I opted for heat 'n bond tape (so every time I write "sew", I really mean "iron together tape").  So after measuring my pillow, cutting the pillowcase to my measurements, and then ironing my seams together, I had a perfect pillow cover for my decorative pillow.  The end...or is it?

This is when I noticed I had some more time to fiddle around and saw the excess "pillow-edging" or whatever have you, just lying there silently begging to be used.
  And this is how my mind works:  Hmmm...what could I do with that?  Put it around the entire edge of my pillow?  No, it's not long enough.  Just sew one long piece across the face of my pillow to add character?  Okay, maybe.  (Thinking, thinking, thinking.)  Hey, why don't I cut a few pieces of equal lengths, sew in the edges, and create a 'pleated' look down the front of my pillow?!  Yeah!  (I know, my mind is a crazy place.)

So, I measured, cut, and sewed five equal pieces of edging.  

Then I figured out where the center mark on my pillow was and penciled in 5 equally spaced marks where each completed 'pleat' would go. 

.          .          .

Side Note:
Have excess fabric lying around?  You can give a bland pillow cover character by doing what I did with any type of fabric, ribbon, or ruffles (or all of them together).  Using two or more coordinating colors or patterns would also be so fun.  You can also extend the pleats to cover the entire front (and back if you wish) of your pillow to create an entirely new cover.  Just have fun! 
.          .          .

Finally, my afternoon delight...a new pillow cover.  

Free, taking up 45 minutes of my time, and just in time for dinner!  :) 

Fab Finds: Yard Sale Style

I love yard sales but I don't go to them very often.  For one, I don't like going alone and two, I feel bad walking away without buying anything.  However, a few weeks ago I laid aside my petty issues and walked from house to house during a neighborhood yard sale near our house.  
I had my heart set on finding some used throw pillows that were clean, cheap, and in good condition.  Once found, the plan was to make new pillow covers out of outdoor material and adorn our porch-side wicker furniture with them.
A few days before I had scoured a few thrift stores around my house for pillows but they were all either too much (and by too much I mean over $4 for an old, used pillow) or too gross to feel comfortable about leaning against.  But back to my yard sale excursion.  I did find my pillows and almost jumped five feet in the air when I looked at the price tag and found them to be $1 each!  They looked like they were brand new, were nice and cushy, and fit the backs of my chairs to a 't' (which I found out later) too!  
   Since then I've been searching for fabric to recover them with but to no avail.  This is where decorating on a budget collides with needing to have lots of patience.  I'll only need a little over a yard of fabric for these two but I really don't want to spend over $15...and I'm picky.  I've already found lots of great patterns but none in my price point.  But, my experience tells me something will pop up and I'll be happy I waited.  :)  Plus, shouldn't outdoor fabrics be clearancing out about this time of year?  I guess we'll see!

So I've found what I've set out to find but I make one last stop before I get back home.  Leaning against other unwanted items at this last attempt of deal-finding is an interesting structure I'm not sure what to classify as.  It is a grid-like, frame thing but there's no glass...so maybe it's just a decorative object to adorn or lean against an empty wall? 

 After she notices this crazy person, me, staring into space at this piece the owner comes over and soothes my wandering imagination to tell me it used to be a multi-photo, picture frame but that the glass had been broken...ohhhhh...I see said the blind man!  There was a little sticker in the corner that said $2 so, after asking her if was sure she only wanted $2 for it (it was so big and cool that I felt like I was ripping her off), I excitedly handed her two dollar bills and made off with my new find.  I had an idea for what I wanted to do with it but wouldn't find out until I got home with it if it would actually work.

The Happy Ending:
Our guest room bed has a new headboard and it only cost $2!  I originally wanted to make my own upholstered headboard for this room but this works for now (plus $2 sounds better than $30+).  Who knows, it might stay there forever or it might grace another space in our abode someday!  What color it will be, if it even changes, is the question.  :)

So in the words of MasterCard:
Two pillows to be recovered:  $2
A make-shift headboard:  $2
Getting over my fear of "yard sale-ing" by myself:  priceless  

Playing Florist for a Day

That's right, we acted like we were florists and put together hydrangea bouquets just like the pros...only it was our night-before-the-wedding-girls-only party. 

Farrah and Patrick ordered hydrangeas in bulk from Costco, saving lots of money. 
 Actually, they spent only a quarter of what we spent on our flowers, and we thought we got a good deal AND were on a budget!  Wowsers!  

When the time came to work floral wonders, we went with a simple look using bunches of the hydrangeas to create small bouquets for the bridesmaids, a larger one for Farrah, some simple boutonnieres, and cute corsages for the women in the family.  The best thing about making your own floral creations in a wedding or other event is that you can totally customize anything by ordering different kinds of flowers and any color you want...all for a price that will make your bank account smile.

First up:  The bouquets.  Each bouquet was comprised of three stems of hydrangeas, except the flower girl's, whose had one stem.  We arranged the stems so that they'd form a round bouquet and added some leaves around the edges, then we secured them with green floral tape.  Ribbon, beads, more leaves, twine, excess fabric, or anything else you can think up can be wrapped around the stems over the tape to add even more detail.

For Farrah's bouquet, we used five stems and added pieces of a vine that grew outside of her apartment (her idea and FREE).
 Farrah securing a rosary to her bouquet.  Mama Mary, pray for us.

Next:  Boutonnieres.  Our great friend, Megan, was a boutonniere-making machine.  She whipped those babies up in no time, and considering we had about 15 of them to make, time was of the essence.  While she formed boutonniere art, we searched among the leftover hydrangeas to find small bits of flowers and leaves that would work for her.  We also added some of the vine to them to snazzy them up a little.  Patrick's boutonniere stood out against the others when we used a white rose instead of a hydrangea to adorn him.  (A boutonniere tip:  Place the finished boutonnieres in a cool place close to an air conditioning register rather than in the refrigerator.  The first five boutonnieres we made wilted within 20 minutes after we placed them on a cookie sheet in the fridge.  Oops!  Placed next to a cool air flow, they survived the night and looked great for the wedding.)

The corsages were made with pieces of a bouquet of pink alstromeria that Farrah already had along with more hydrangea, vine, and back by a hydrangea leaf.

The "organized" mess we made.  :)

So that's that for our florist experience.  All credit for this post and inspiration to play florist goes to my good friend, Lizzie.  For her wedding a couple of years ago, all of the bridesmaids sat down and whipped up bouquets while praying a rosary.  I wouldn't have known making bouquets was so easy and fun if it wasn't for her inspiration!  She used bunches of red roses and wrapped the stems with black ribbon to match the bridesmaid's dresses and they looked fabulous!

Any other faux-florists out there?  Show and do tell!

Please Take a Number

My sister and her hubby had assigned tables at their wedding so another "loose end" we had to tie was printing off table numbers to be placed on each table.  Farrah had the idea of somehow using the extra invitations her and Patrick had made and printed out themselves.  So after some brain-storming and googling table numbers, we came up with our idea.  (Note:  We found the basic idea online but tweaked it a little.  So thank you to the online source, that I can't remember, that gave us the inspiration for her numbers!) 

So, first we printed out large numbers on the left-over invitations in a font that they had used on their invitations.
Sometimes it took a few times to get the placement right but it took us about 10 minutes from start to finish.
We used a section of the invitations that had a printed design to add a little character to the number cards instead of just leaving them plain...because there is nothing "plain" about Farrah and Patrick.  :)

Farrah had some used wine corks lying around, some with sweet memories attached to them and others just existing.  So, we used them as 'stands' to hold up the numbers.  We simply cut small slit in one side of the cork (the other side being the flattest which would stand straight when placed on a table).  The number cards were slid in and wala...FREE, trendy table numbers in less than 15 minutes!
Some guests even sat a tables where their 'corks' held special meaning to them.  For example, our grandparent's and family signed the cork that came from the champagne bottle they used to toast Farrah and Patrick during their engagement.  We made sure that cork held their number.  :)

Adding to the delight of having free, cute numbers, the rest of what made up their centerpieces (candles, pieces of round tree stumps, small ferns, lanterns, and some other small details) were borrowed to them..some by a bride married the previous weekend, some by the reception hall owners, and the rest by a local plant nursery.  They looked great even though the best centerpieces of all were Farrah and Patrick themselves!  :) 

Tulle, Lace, and Two Sisters

My Irish twin sister (we were born in the same year, 10 months apart) got hitched to her main man, Patrick, a few weeks ago.  It was a grand 'ole time, even with the rain that just poured out more blessings from above.  It's funny to me that one day can encompass a whole year's worth (in this case) of planning.  I flew in a week early to help Farrah tie up some loose ends and boy were there lots of them.  Following in the footsteps of her smart, older sister...that's me...Peach and Pat, as they're loving known, went the D.I.Y. route which saved them lots of moolah and still surrounded their day with personalized beauty.  My next few posts will be on their wedding, sharing some of their money-saving tips with other money-saving fiends like us out there.

First things first - the veil.  Farrah had her heart set on a gorgeous, cathedral length mantilla veil...until she saw the $750 price tag.  Seriously?!  It's that much for a bunch of tulle and some lace?!  Well, after showing me the beauty and being the "think outside of the box" girls we are, we couldn't help but try to make it ourselves.  We have basic sewing skills so it should be pretty easy, right?  Well...read on.

So off we went to work searching for the lace.  Mantilla veils are edged with lace, alencon lace being very popular but expensive because it's so intricate and detailed. 
  I scoured fabric stores all around me but there was no alencon lace to be found. I was told numerous times it's hard to find but very expensive when it is found.  Then Farrah hit the jackpot while she was searching for a bridal bolero jacket when she ran across the Rohm etsy shop, where the owner specialized in alencon lace bridal ensembles.  She excitedly ordered her custom, alencon lace jacket and the owner kindly sold her around 5 yards of extra lace so she could make her veil.

So onto the day I arrived in the blushing, to-be bride's presence.  Our first priority was getting this veil made and the minute we sat down with the yards of tulle and lace, the task looked a little daunting.
First we had to cut the tulle.  Farrah's inquiries to the seamstress at a bridal shop provided us with a step-by-complicated-step process on cutting out a veil.  Fold here, cut here, make sure this is a rounded, not squared edge, and it should 'cascade' down the front filled our thoughts and words.  Who knew you couldn't just trace and cut?  Not us!
Update:  I finally wrote a post on that 'step-by-complicated-step' cutting process.  Click here to read!
But we did it...halfway done with the veil...nope, not even close.  Next we attached two combs to the top of the veil using clear thread.  We used two combs because the combs we had weren't very wide so we overlapped them about an inch or so, creating one larger comb that would hold the veil in place better. 

Next up:  the lace.  Before we could start sewing it to the veil, we had to 'cut it out'.  This part required a good bit of patience and detail.  We had to cut as close to the detailing on the lace as we could without cutting too much.

After the lace was prepped and all the cutting done, we started the most satisfying yet most time-consuming part of the whole process - sewing the lace around the entire edge of the veil.  We had originally planned to each start at an edge and just start sewing but with each of us having to continually thread needles while holding the lace in place we found that way wouldn't work.  So, I guided the lace and threaded Farrah's needle while she sewed on the lace...which with clear thread that's hard to see, wasn't an easy task.  We knew halfway through this process why the mantilla veil in the bridal shop was $750 bucks!  :)  Lots of time and patience is involved!
Four hours later, Farrah's mantilla veil was assembled and she stepped into her wedding day for two seconds as she tried it on for size.  Uh-oh...the tips of the scalloping in the lace needed to each be stitched onto the tulle so it didn't look like she had spikes hanging off her veil.  With a few sighs of "well, we thought we were done", we went to bed dreaming of more veil work the next day.

Next Day:

After three more hours of individually stitching scalloped edges to the tulle we had created a masterpiece...for 85 DOLLARS (including lace, tulle, combs, and clear thread) and seven hours of sisterly love and bonding time.  Was it worth it?  Every penny and minute!
Her homemade mantilla veil looked store-bought and complimented her already existing 'gorgeousness'!  It was definitely a project that tops my "Things I've Made" list and I think I can speak for both Farrah and I on that.  Not only did she look incredible under her veil but now it's a keepsake that holds sisterly memories that we'll each cherish forever.  :)