A Story of Two Best Friends

So, where were we?  Oh yes, it was official.  We were…what is that juvenile term for a dating relationship again?…oh yeah, a thing.

Three weeks into our ‘official’ relationship, we still hadn’t locked lips.  Fine by me and in fact, I loved that we hadn’t kissed before we knew we really wanted to put effort into the relationship and make ourselves a couple.  Not that I think there’s anything wrong with kissing someone you are on the road to an official relationship with!  In fact, first came the kiss, then came the relationship title in all of my previous four (five?…can’t remember) real relationships.  But, I loved how this one was different.  I think a kiss, as simple as it is, is a sacred thing.  I don’t advise throwing them out to anyone because, well, germs.  Ha!  No, I’m kidding…about the germs.  A kiss is a sign of affection for someone you care for and to give that little piece of yourself to someone you don’t really care about might not seem like such a bad thing but hearts are fickle and hearts can get hurt by the little as much as the big.  Anyway, Anthony was so respectful of me, guarding my heart and his and so it wasn’t until three weeks into our little puppy love fest that he laid one on me.  Let me tell you how it went down…on.  First, I’m sure you’re probably aware but waiting for the person you have a big crush on to kiss you is one of the worst waits.  SuspenseFUL!  I’m not the most forward type so I sure wasn’t going to be the one to make the first move.  So, one night we went out to dinner.  It was full of good food and great convo per the usual with us and Anthony told me once or twice that he had something for me when we got back to campus.  Fun!  A surprise!  Dinner ended and we drove back and pulled into a parking spot next to my dorm.  Anthony turned the car off and said again, “I have something for you.”  Only he wasn’t moving to get out of the parked car.  He just turned the slightest bit toward me and it got a little quiet and then…








A car pulled up next to us and he got all awkward for a second and quickly said, “Ok, let’s go.”  After that I knew what he was up to and I knew it involved our lips…or at least that what I thought.  I could tell he was a little nervous after we got out of the car and of course, now I was giddy and nervous and didn’t know which way was up.  We headed towards the dorm entrance and right before we went in, he said “Let’s go for a walk.”  Ok.  Nothing out of the ordinary except my intuition that he had kissing intentions.  Except that it was; this walk was totally out of the ordinary.  Usually we just strolled around, not a care in the world, just the two of us and the easy flow of words between us.  This walk it seemed like he was on a mission.  He’d lead me somewhere, look around, then go in a totally different direction.  It’s so funny to think back on.  Ten minutes later we were down by our student center and he was doing some scouting about when all of a sudden, he grabbed me by the shoulders, turned me towards him and…

















…to be continued.

Kidding!  Only kidding!  I clearly have a twisted idea of fun brought on by a lack of sleep (sick kids).

So, he turned me towards him and told me to close my eyes and, while my heart beat straight out of my chest, he planted one on me.  And it was…….so awkward!!!  He didn’t kiss me on my lips guys.  He kissed me on my teeth!  I knew this was coming and I couldn’t stop smiling and giggling and then it happened and I just didn’t know what to do and couldn’t control myself and…awkward.  But wait, it gets better.  After the kiss, I opened my eyes and hanging over my head, held by Anthony, was a little mistletoe.  I melted.  I saved that little mistletoe and then it got lost somewhere in one of my moves but I will cherish the memory of that (attempted) kiss forever.    

[Spring 2005]

That first kiss was right before Christmas break (2004) and the spring after was my last spring at Franciscan before I graduated with my Bachelors’ degree and moved home to Nebraska.  Anthony drove home with me and all of my stuff right after graduation and stayed for about a week and then we didn’t see each other all summer until a week before he flew to Austria to spend the semester abroad.  I flew to him in New York and we savored that week we had, knowing that the next year would be tough.  First four months an ocean apart (and back then technology was not that of 2015 – I bought two calling cards and we talked maybe an hour a week) and then another spring; he back in Ohio at college; me working at home.  We saw each other a couple of times that spring – once he flew out and surprised me and then spring break we traveled to Utah together – and then as things got more serious, I decided to move back out to Ohio where my sister and best friend were still in college as well.  I moved in with my two ‘sisters’ and was 1000 miles closer to my love.  Finally.  No more long distance.  Only short distance.  Awesome.

 sheena 085
[A Valentine’s Day surprise]

One, two, skip a few memories lest I bore you but here are a few stats:
Number of months we dated before we were married:  36 (exactly…we got married on our three-year anniversary)
Number of months we dated before getting engaged:  24.5
Number of times we broke up while dating:  1 (for a week)
Number of months we enjoyed a short-distance relationship:  22 (but the number goes down to 10 if we don’t include our engagement period)
Number of months we braved long distance:  14 (these were solely during our dating phase)
When I knew he was “the one”:  4 months in

So the Christmas season was rolling in in 2006 and I was set to go home to spend it with my family for a week and Anthony was leaving to go to his so one night we had one last parting dinner (he made it cause he was and still is the chef in this relationship) the night before we each jetted off.  After dinner, Anthony left because he had to go valet park for a Christmas party and so I got back to packing.  Twenty minutes after he left, he called me and asked me if I wanted to “go to adoration with me quick?  It’s down in the chapel.”  Ugh, it was dark and the cold rain outside didn’t sound fun to run through (a five minute run), plus my unfinished packing was a tad overwhelming.  *Sigh*  “Sure.  I’ll be right down.”  So, dazzling everyone (no one though, really) with my fake Uggs, over-sized sweatpants, and long-sleeved work tee, I scampered down the slippery sidewalk down to the chapel and just who was right there at the entrance, dressed TO THE NINES, opening the door for me and ushering me in?  Who else but Anthony?  Perfectly logical, right?  Right. 
Me:  “Why are you dressed up?”
Him:  “Because I have to valet park, remember?  I have to dress up.”
Me:  “Oh, right.”
Duh.  Not that I was expecting anything because I wasn’t.  I was totally oblivious to what was about to happen. 

We walked through the front lobby of the chapel, opened the doors to the chapel and…no adoration.  No people, no priest, no Jesus, no nothing.  “What?  I thought you said there was adoration tonight?”  “Shhh…”, he said as he led me up the aisle in the very empty chapel.  And then I saw them.  Roses and candles lining the aisle.  Still either slightly oblivious (or just dumb) or in utter disbelief that maybe a little ‘ole ring was hiding somewhere, I started to say “Where are we go…””SHHH…(and with a huge grin on his face and in the most loving way) Don’t ruin this for me.”  Ho-ly smokes!  I think I stopped breathing and I might’ve blacked out for two seconds because all of a sudden all I remember is being in front of the altar with the man that I loved down on his knee, telling me all these wonderful things and then asking me if I would spend the rest of my life with him.  Oh, and he was holding out a beautiful ring.  And the flood gates opened (and I totally didn’t think I’d be one to cry at my own proposal).  All I could do between near-hyperventilation and tears was pull him up to me and hold him close.  There were no words…no literally.  There weren’t.  I forgot to say “yes”.  After holding me for a few minutes poor Anthony looked into my eyes and said “Soooo, is that a yes?”  Ummm, obviously.  Like can’t you read into female emotional train-wreck feelings crying just-breathe over here?  Men.  Ha!  Kidding, but really.  He just had to make sure.  :)

Best Christmas present ever.  After we (okay, I) calmed down a tad, Mr. Prepared over here pulled a Kodak out of his pocket and made sure we got a picture of the awkward soon-to-be bride:
    sheena 131
[Who cares that I look like a drowned, tear-stained rat, he liked it and he put a ring on it, right?]

And the happy couple:
sheena 134 

We went back up to my apartment afterwards and called our family, most of whom, after being informed by the man himself earlier in the day, were waiting on pin and needles for the call.  After being on the phone for a good hour, we settled in and just talked.  Talked about us.  Talked about when we knew.  Talked about when the wedding might be.  Talked about how he called my grandpa (my dad’s dad) the night before to ask him if he could “ask Sheena to marry him tomorrow” and my grandpa thought he literally meant he wanted to marry me tomorrow; have the wedding tomorrow.  My grandpa got a little flustered because they were 1000 miles away and it was quick and of course he and my grandma wanted to be at their first grandchild’s wedding and “well, I don’t know…”.  After my grandpa voiced his concern, a nervous Anthony caught on to the big miscommunication and got the okay for the proposal the next day.  :) 

We spent the next year preparing for marriage – Pre-Cana (marriage prep classes), Natural Family Planning classes, and planning a wedding that was to take place a thousand miles away.  I was working full-time at a bank and Anthony was going to school full-time and working part-time.  In the meantime, my sister and best friend both graduated and moved away for work so I moved out of our shared apartment and into a house Anthony and I bought three months before we got married.  I brought my family’s dog back with me after a visit home to protect me from murderers and robbers (in our relatively safe neighborhood) during those three and only months I’ve ever lived alone in my life.  And finally, that day we had looked so forward to and planned so much for came.

Annnnnd that’s where I leave you today.  I hear some chit-chat going on a couple rooms over where once two little girls were napping so I’ll just go ahead and leave these beans on the floor and spill more later.  :)   

[Impromptu engagement photo taken by a friend at Dan and Lauren’s wedding.]

Stay tuned.  There are only two more chapters in this saga and I promise I won’t drag it out too much.  ;)

Pillow Talk

Our living room has been highly neglected in the past few years.  It’s walls are pretty much bare with the exception of a cross and an off-center painting, the rugs I’ve had on the floor have always been too small for the space (until recently we walked on the one that I bought for Sebastian’s room…see pic below), the hand-me-down club chairs are a cranberry color that isn’t necessarily a bad color but just not what I’d like, the pillows are all mismatched…
I thought we’d get everything in order back when we turned our thirfted coffee table into an ottoman but then other things got the priority and so the mismatched room has sat and sat.  We did move the furniture around some time ago though, separating the sectional to allow for a play area in the back corner of the room.  It’s not my favorite set-up since separating a sectional basically means you have two funky looking sofas but, it’s the most functional set-up right now while the kids are little. 

All that is about to change though.  It really all started last year on Black Friday when I found an 8 x 10 rug at Old Time Pottery for $73 (on sale from $130 plus an extra 15% off).  Actually, I found three that day and brought each one home and Anthony and I settled on a colorful, pixelated one.  It wasn’t my favorite but, oh you should feel it!  It’s thee softest, cushiest, non-shag rug I’ve ever stepped foot on.  We don’t even need a rug pad to boost its comfort level, it’s that comfy.  But anyway, it really got the wheels turning on how I needed to decorate this room to incorporate the rug and I knew that that process would be a tough one.  The rug could easily look western-ish and that is the total opposite of what I want.  I want light, bright, and modern with a hint of eclectic and a dash of classic…okay, basically I’m just throwing out words to tell you I want anything but country and moody.  Our beige walls were the first to change a few weeks ago.  We painted them white (Delicate White by Olympic).  A Debbie Downer:  We purchased Olympic paint + primer to do the job as they had the color we liked the best but were sadly disappointed.  We ended up having to do two coats and didn’t have a drastic color change going on in the first place.  Boo.

The next update I made in the room was to the pillows.  I finally got around to whipping up some zippered pillow covers for the existing pillows and two more pillow forms I’ve had stored away for this room for months and months.  And, I love how they turned out! 
I used a golden yellow geometric fabric (found on clearance at Hancock Fabrics for $10/yard), a pin-striped fabric from Old Time Pottery ($5.99/yard), and this colorful Neo Toile ($18.95 and my splurge).  I got two pillows out of a little over a yard so in total I spent about $40 to make seven covers ($47 including the zippers).  All of the fabrics are medium-weight home decor fabrics with the exception of the geometric.  It’s a light-weight and was a little tougher to sew with.  I was a little nervous about incorporating the colorful Neo Toile (even thought I absolutely love the fabric!) because I thought it might clash with the rug but I think that after all is said and done in here, it’ll blend right in.  It’s the craziest I’ll get though; everything else will be nice and mellow.  :)

So, the pillows.  I started by cutting out two squares of fabric for each pillow cover.  I did this by laying a paper template I made over the fabric, making sure it was straight.  Then I used a heavy vase of flowers as a weight, holding the fabric and template in place and together while I cut around the template.
[Aren’t the flowers gorgeous?!  They were sent to me on my birthday last week from some sweet, sweet friends.]

Using a template helped me make sure all of my squares were the same exact size.
Side note:  My pillows measure 20 x 20 inches so I made a 20 x 20 template using a bunch of piece of scrap computer paper that I taped together (I couldn’t find any other paper around this casa that was wide enough for me to use one sheet).  I’ve read that, for the best pillow cover fit, you should make your covers one inch smaller than your form so that’s exactly what I did.  After sewing using a half-inch seam allowance on each side, each of my covers ended up being 19 x 19 finished.

In the past I’ve made envelope-enclosure pillow covers, which are great but this time I went with zippered covers (my second try at them – here’s the first) because I love how you can use an entire piece of pattern fabric on the front and back without having to worry about the envelope disrupting the pattern flow on the back.  I used this tutorial from Design Sponge.  I followed her directions word-for-word except for the last part of installing the zipper.  When you’re almost to the end of sewing on the second side of the zipper, if you started from the bottom of the zipper, you won’t be able to sew right up and past the zipper pull.  It’ll be in the way and since you’ve already sewn the other side of the zipper, you’ll have no way to get to it to unzip it out of the way because of the basting (baste?) stitches.  So, what I did was, about an inch before I reached the pull, I secured my straight stitch by backstitching and then I cut the thread.  Next, I removed my pillow cover from the sewing machine and ripped out the basting stitches.  Once all the stitches were gone, I unzipped the zipper a little ways past where I stopped on the second side and sewed that last inch or so of the second side of the zipper on, backstitching at the beginning and end of that small area of stitches.  You can sorta see what I’m trying to explain and the area I had to ‘patch’ in this close-up:
I don’t know a way around this but I know there must be one because I haven’t seen any store-bought pillow covers with the small patch I’ve had to insert.  If you know how to avoid it, please let me know!!

In the Design Sponge tutorial, she clips her corners once she finished (that makes your corners more pointed when your pillow cover is right-side-out) and calls it a day.  You can also finish hems by cutting them with a shearing scissors, which helps them to not fray.  I’ve sheared lots of finished hems with success but this time around, I thought I’d take things to the next level and get out my serger that’s been sitting alone in a closet for the past three years; me too intimated to take it out and try it.  But, thanks to the encouragement and help from one of my household sisters, Marina (seamstress EXTRAORDINAIRE…guys, she made her own wedding dress!), I now am a proud, not scared, owner of a serger!  I wish I had gotten it out long ago!


Just look at that things handiwork!
[The threads are all different colors because I didn’t change them after the initial threading – using different colors helps the threading process since it’s a little complicated (but totally doable and the worst part!) and involves four different threads.]
Having kids means messes and, even though we don’t allow food in the living room, messes still somehow sneak in so it is so important to me that I’m able to wash our pillow covers.  Now I know that because all the hems are serged, I can wash these babies a hundred times and it’s unlikely that they’ll fray and fall apart.

Let’s talk edges.  Because I only bought enough fabric for what I needed, I didn’t have the option of matching sides (this is especially apparent with the Neo Toile) which is totally not necessary but on many high-end pillows, you’ll see exactly centered designs and matching fronts and backs. 

With the geometric fabric, I tried as best I could to line up the top seam so that it didn’t look too disconnected.  In lining up the top seam though, I had no choice on what would happen on the bottom, zippered end.  It’s a little funky but my concerns are elsewhere.
  PicMonkey Collage2

With the Neo Toile, I had absolutely no say on where the seam would land and in the end, they don’t look half bad (or at least that’s what I’m telling myself).  ;) PicMonkey Collage3

With the pin-striped pillows, I just made sure the stripes lined up along the side seams and didn’t worry too much about the tops and bottoms.
   PicMonkey Collage

I’m sorry I couldn’t write up a whole tutorial from start to finish but I scrambled to make these pillows during a few nap times so I didn’t take the time to take detailed pictures.  I thought I’d make it up to you by finding a good video tutorial I could share with you because I think they’re the most helpful when it comes to sewing and so I found this one by Sewing In a Straight Line that seemed to be the most helpful although I couldn’t find a super-detailed one that I thought a beginner could watch and get it.  Guess I’ll have to work on making my own one of these days.  :)


Next on the list, we have to deal with this issue that literally drives me crazy every time I prop up my footsies: IMG_5804
A pattern and color clash of interior designers’ nightmares that means we’ll be recovering the ottoman asap.  The rug looks a little darker in the above pic than in real life but even so, this is one relationship that’s not going to work.  I’m thinking a linen-esque gray or maybe a large-scale white and gray geometric (the rug has gray in it along with a gray edge-binding thread).  Originally I had my eyes set on this Portfolio fabric from OFS…
…but I ordered some swatches of it in two colors and I’m now thinking the two small-scale patterns might be too much.  What do you think?  I’m open to any and all suggestions!

I’ll be working on the living room little by little, actually I’m going wall by wall, and so I’ll share as I go but I’m also going to be working on a few other things here and there so I can’t promise a speedy reveal but it will get done and I’m so excited to get it there!  We’ve got lots of frames to hang, wall shelves to build, and (shhh…I haven’t announced this plan to Anthony yet) a possible mantel rebuild.  All while keep ourselves and the three toddlers alive, hence the turtle’s pace.  :)

What are you working on these days?  One thing or a few?

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P.S.  Thank you for your sweet words and eagerness to hear the rest of our love story!  I’m so excited to type up more and to relive those moments via the blog! 

P.P.S.  It’s party time!  I’m linking these seven couch potatoes up with Ana’s Cabin Fever Creativity Link-Up!

A Story of Two Friends

I’ve been hinting and hinting and hinting again over the last year (or two?) that I was going to type up our infertility (fertility!) story but I’ve never had a chance to sit, think, and put it all into words.  I started writing it out one day several months ago while I was sitting in the peace and quiet of Eucharistic adoration but since then, peace and quiet have evaded me (hmm, wonder why?); giggles, screaming, whining, gibberish, and toddler talk taking their place.  Fine.  I can write to background noise, right?  In college I would’ve told you no, but it looks like somebody’s going to have to do some adapting.

Anyway, all three kids are sawing logs at this moment (guh-lorious!) and so there’s no better time than the present.  I’m going to share our infertility story, but I’m going to do you one more and go back to the beginning – when Anthony met Sheena.  If I’m going to type up a story I might as well type up the whoooole thing, right?…’cause nothing’s more interesting than reading about someone else’s life when you’re just trying to live yours.  Skip it if you will, read it if you want to.  :)

.           .           .

So, the year was 2004, Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, fall semester.  I was a senior and had just lost my dad the May before.  The summer before this semester was a period of great growth for me.  I was fresh out of an unhealthy relationship; one to which I clung to keep all of the problems going on in my family at bay.  I thought I needed someone to hold on to.  Another human being.  A boyfriend.  How wrong I was.  As you can imagine, I was distraught when that relationship ended.  My world came crashing down at the loss of my father and now this.  I felt like I had nowhere to go and no one to turn to.  I was the oldest in my family so I had “to be the strong one”.  Also during this time, my relationship with my mom was akin to walking on broken glass and my two sisters and I moved out of our home and in with our Aunt who lived a half hour away.  Nothing was concrete anymore.  Nothing.

Anyway, so that I don’t backtrack too far, the summer was a rough one but a great one in that I realized that the only one I needed was God.  No one else.  Just Him.  I knew that but I never unfortunately had it sink in until then.  I gave everything to Him that summer – my joys, my pain, my loneliness, everything.  Little did I know that only after I handed my life over that He would hand me another life – Anthony.  I had heard “don’t go looking for him, let him find you, let God bring him to you” in college over and over about that crazy thing called true love, and girls, if you’re searching for your one true love (your earthly love, that is), stop it because it is true, God will bring him to you!

So there he was.  Anthony Tobin.  Some freshman, probably immature but really easy on the eyes.  However, I’d NEVER date anybody younger than me so, yeah, moving on.  Ha!  He was friends with my roommate, Nicki, and that’s the closest relation to me that I thought he’d ever be.  But then he said “hi” to me once in passing and I got those butterflies in my stomach that one gets when excitement hits.  They lasted a few seconds and I was back to the same conclusion that I’d never allow myself to like or date anybody younger than me.  It just didn’t make one ounce of sense.  College life moved on, studying, sleeping, eating, hanging, repeat.  I ran into Anthony a few more times in passing and we exchanged polite “hi’s” and then something crazy happened.  I started to be really interested in him.  I was drawn to him.  I found myself going out of my way sometimes just to run into him.  There was this one crazy time when we were both up at the fields where intramural flag football games were going on.  I was the spectator, he was the pre-gamer.  Needing to get back to my dorm room for whatever reason, I found myself re-routing myself so that I’d go allllllthewayyy around the field just to pass him.  I’ll never forget it.  He was wearing his black Under Armour garb under some black gym shorts and we smiled at each other and said “hey!”

[At a college formal dance…circa 2005?]

Fast forward a couple of weeks as I was heading up the stairs to my digs when I walked past him and my roommate Nicki chatting on a couch in the dorm lobby.  I said hi to them both but kept walking until I heard “Hey Sheena…” in a voice I only knew to be his.  Not breathing I turned around and answered, “yeah?”  “You wanna go with me on AMDG’s date night?”, spoken in that bold accent of a New Yorker.  (Side note:  AMDG is a household at Franciscan which is similar to a fraternity but not at all.)  I told him I would but I can’t even remember how I said it or what happened in the next five minutes because I was on cloud 909. 

engagement 002
[Hiking to the The Wave in Arizona – Spring 2006]

Plans were made and we went on that date night together but we ended up going separate from the household group.  He picked me up in his (and now our) good friend Dan’s old Toyota wearing a blue and white striped button-down that he still wears.  We ate at an Italian restaurant in our college town and then headed to a casino in West Virginia where we gambled away 40 bucks.  It was so fun and I was giddy the whole time.  During the weeks following, we saw a good amount of each other.  We’d meet up to go grab dinner or lunch at the caf and we went on lots of walks around campus, spending tons of time just talking.  I loved it.  I loved that we didn’t rush into anything but that we just spent our time getting to know each other.  Obviously, we were both wondering what the future held for “us” and I spent a lot of time thinking and praying for clarity.  The more I got to know him, the more I didn’t care about our almost-three-year age difference.  (Actually, one day during that time I clearly remembered learning about average life spans of men and women in second grade and how that of a man is 73 and of a women is 76.  It’s probably changed since my second-grade years but either way, it’s like it all clicked to me in that flashback moment…of course it makes sense to date somebody younger than me so that we’ll die together!  After that, I could’ve cared less.)  The tough things to think about were how we would make it work since I was graduating and moving home or the fact that he was going to Austria to study during the fall semester. 

Sheena 153
[Circa sometime in 2006 – pre-engagement]

So, one night during one of our frequent walks we were headed up a hill towards my dorm, Kolbe/Clare, and passing the big steel cross on campus when it got awkwardly quiet (something that was rare) and after a minute Anthony goes “so, what’s up with us?”  I’m over here thinking, “did he really just say ‘what’s up with us?’”  Yes, he did.  I guess when you’re a New Yorker, being blunt is just natural.  After a stifled laugh (because the guy was serious), I managed an “I don’t know (this is so awkward…what the heck do I say…disguise giggle as *cough*), what do you think?”…lame-o answer to a pin-pointed question.  A little chat about whether we should really pursue this boyfriend/girlfriend thing ensued and by the end we were ‘official’.  The day was December 1, 2004. 

To be continued…   

Random 036
[Summer 2008 – Wildwood, NJ]

Made by Lisa

You guys.  I’m up to my eyeballs in a mini-redecorating sesh in the living room.  While I’m having so much fun scheming and planning and making ideas come to life, it’s taking me f.o.r.e.v.e.r.
Here’s a sneak peek at the progress:
Image-1 (2)  

So, while I’m busy painting and sewing during every free moment (nap and bedtimes!), let me share with you this sweet nursery that Lisa whipped up for a special family she knows. 

She emailed me to tell me about the nursery and how little she spent putting it together a few months ago.  By using things she already had, a few gifts, and shopping with a thrifty mindset, she got away with only spending about $55 total!  She’s a girl after my own heart!  You don’t have to spend a lot to get a whole lot of cute!  Proof:
 nursery basinnette mobile and wall hook 
The mobile in the corner is made of small birdhouses that Lisa had and painted bright colors.  A friend of hers made the mobile by stringing them onto an embroidery hoop.
 nursery gallery wall and poofs
Some of the frames above the dresser were new, some were thrifted, and some were already owned.  The art in the frames were all printables she found for free online.  The three poufs hanging from the ceiling corner were made from tissue paper she already had on hand.
nursery rocking chair lamp etc
Lisa made the window valance with her new sewing machine and followed an online tutorial to do so.  The fabric was some she had from a project that never came to fruition.  I love the color it adds to the room!  The lamp was something meant for another project that didn’t happen.  For the nursery, she spray painted it pink and added green pom pom trim to the shade.  The bunting on the wall above the bassinet is made of colorful cardstock hot glued to a strand of pom pom trim.  The letter above it was found at Hobby Lobby on sale.  The rocking chair was one Lisa and her husband had gotten for free so they gave it to this family and Lisa used an old pillow that she had spiced up with a new cover to add to the chair.
 nursery torchiere lamp
The floor lamp was a steal at $15 and the dresser was one the family already had.

The best part about this whole little makeover was that it was a surprise and the family that received it was a family in need.  I love seeing beautiful people do beautiful things like this.  Thank you so much for sharing Lisa!  :)

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I hope you’re all having a fantastic Monday!

Oh, and Happy belated St. Valentine’s Day!  I hope yours was full of lots of love!  We stayed home and Anthony  made the most amazing dinner – teriyaki steak shish kabobs with warm red potato salad and strawberry crepes after.  It was the best dinner I’ve had in a long time; packed with a ton of flavor and a ton of love and I tried so hard to savor every bite but I think ‘gobbled it up’ would be a better description of the way it went down my hatch.  So, so good…just like my personal cook.  He’s so, so good and while I’d rather Valentine’s Day sentiments were shared everyday around the world, it was a sweet day to remind each other how much we love and value one another.  ‘Bean in love’ is what we’re all about anyway, right?  :)    

2D Flatware

Last post about the new gallery wall in the kitchen, promise.  Let’s talk about the utensil art.

Initially I was just going to find a couple of free printables online, print them out, stick ‘em in and up and that’s that.  But I couldn’t find anything that didn’t take away from or compete with the ‘take & eat’ so, after I found these great (and free) printables from The Questionable Domestique, I got an idea.

My plan?  To transfer her printables to my kitchen by painting a couple of the designs on some watercolor paper and hanging them.  They were simple, kitchen-related, and didn’t draw attention to themselves instead of Jesus.  Humility at its finest.  ;)

So, first I penciled the designs onto my cut-to-size watercolor paper and mixed some watercolor (using the same acrylic/water mixture I used on the ‘take & eat’).  Then I just painted in the lines and let it all dry. 

Then, like I usually do, I took it a step further after being inspired by this gorgeous flatware set from West Elm:
Using more gold leaf, I jazzed up the stems of each 2D utensil.  Things didn’t turn out exactly as I had pictured in my head though.  I wanted straight lines and no watercolor showing on the stems.  When I attached the gold leaf to the fork, I brushed Elmer’s school glue onto the stem, hoping that would give me the straight, clean lines I wanted.  Nope.
 photo 1 (12)
I don’t know what happened but things looked a tad crazy...the glue might’ve dried too quickly?  I don’t know.  I tried to scratch off the gold leaf but it wouldn’t budge so I laid my cares aside, filled in the right side a little more, and just let it be.  The rest of utensils got the same gold treatment as their abstract art neighbors – a glue stick plus gold leaf plus a pat and a rub-down when dry.
 photo 2 (19)

The final products:


Oh and I spiffied up the frames a bit too.  These frames were actually in the previous collage but I spray painted them white and added a dotted border with some gold paint along the inside edge. 
I just used a small, flat paintbrush to dab on paint.  No measuring.  All eye-balling.  Perfectly imperfect.  :)  It was such an easy way to add a little flare to an otherwise plain frame.

And speaking of flare, I hope your Monday is full of it!  Adios for now!

Mrs. Mix-A-Lot

Abstract art.  Anybody can do it.  Seriously.  You can even get all fancy by mixing colors and adding some gold leaf like I did.  I found this tutorial by Virginia at Live Love DIY and didn’t even wait until naptime to start.  Turns out, if I work on top of the (unheated) stove, I can get a lot done without little hands seeking and destroying.  :) 

diy abstract art

For this art project, I used two 11 x 14 inch canvases that I bought at Hobby Lobby (it was a two-pack on sale for $7.99).  I also used paint and brushes that I had laying around at home.  First, I dumped some paint directly from the pot onto one side of each canvas (I was going for a half-sided look).
photo 1 (6)

Then, I painted about 1/3 of one side of each canvas by starting at one edge and pulling the paint down in lines.  I didn’t use sweeping, back-and-forth motions, but just kept brushing down down down all the way across the side of the canvas.  Also, painting down towards the middle of the canvas vs. from middle to end gave me an unfinished edge where the paint ended, which is what I was going for.
  photo 2 (17)
Since I was going to add some gold leaf and more color, I didn’t drag the paint down all they way to where I wanted it which was about halfway across the canvas.  I figured I’d use more gold paint when I mixed it with the other colors I wanted to use so I’d finish pulling it down then.

So, when the gold paint was dry (I waited about six hours), I grabbed a glue stick and just smudged it onto my gold paint in random areas
photo 3
[The purple spots are glue – I used the Elmer’s glue stick that goes on purple and dries clear.]

Then I grabbed a sheet of gold leaf and laid it over the glue spots, patting it down lightly to make sure it was stuck for good.
photo 4 (3)
I waited another six or so hours until I was sure the glue was dry, held the canvases over our big trash can, and brushed off the excess, loose gold leaf with my fingers.

Next up came more paint.  I pulled a few colors out of the Last Supper to use on my painting – gray acrylic, a coral-red latex, light blue latex, and white acrylic – and I also grabbed the gold to layer onto the existing gold and extend the end of my paint line to about halfway down the canvas.

I waited until naptime to do this part to make sure I wouldn’t have to stop after I had started and to add a little more calm to the whole idea, I grabbed the Moscato.  Wining and dining painting.  The way to go.  :)

First I added more gold.  Then I just put random spots of color onto the canvas (I did one half of each canvas at a time to ensure I had time to mess around with the paint before it dried but I think I probably could’ve just done the entire thing at once) and brushed each dot into a big splotch (abstract talk, I guess?), trying to also mix it in a tad with the still-wet gold paint.
 photo 1 (10)

I brushed in one color at a time and wiped my brush off onto a dry paper towel between each color.
photo 2 (18)
I tried to brush color around each gold leaf spot just so the gold leaf looked more incorporated into the painting…if that makes any sense at all. 

I hung them before the were dry (rebel!) and that was that! IMG_5795


So, have you ever tried your hand at abstract art?  Maybe you have a five-year-old that has because, like I said, anyone can do it.  :)

.           .           .

I’ll be back early next week to drag this collage project out into one more DIY and then I promise it’s enough talk of it.  We’re in the middle of painting our living room, entry, and hallway (again) so there will be lots to share and show on that soon!  TGIF!

Take & Eat

I think watercolor might be my new favorite medium.  I like it because it kind of has a mind of its own once you put it on paper.  It just sinks in and marbles a little depending on how much water/paint there is on your brush.  Mistakes can just be attributed to the mind of the paint vs. the hand of the artist unlike thicker paints like acrylics and oils which need to be maneuvered.  However, and that’s a BIG however, I’m no professional artist.  I’m not even an amateur.  I’m a very beginning beginner when it comes to painting as an art so you should probably let my opinion on the subject go in one ear and out the opposite. 

That being said, I used a watercolor technique to create the ‘take & eat’ art in our new gallery wall. IMG_5792

I didn’t use actual watercolor though; I used black acrylic paint mixed with water because I didn’t have any watercolor and wanted to use what I had on hand.

  photo 1 (1)
My other supplies included a plate (an old one I use exclusively for painting), an 11 x 15 in. piece of watercolor art paper, a cup of water, a paper towel (that I didn’t end up using), and a paintbrush (included in a pack I thrifted but originally from Michael’s).

I didn’t get any pictures of the process of painting this because I was in a big hurry; hoping to start and finish this and another painting project before the kids woke up.  Sorry!  I’ll try and explain the process the best I can.

The first thing I did was write out the ‘take & eat’ onto my watercolor paper as lightly as I could with a pencil.  I’m not good enough to paint without guidelines.  :)  The lighter the better in case any erasing has to happen.  I really like this Asterism font, so I tried to copy it as best I could.

Then it was time to paint.  I grabbed my brush and dipped it into my cup of water and then into the little puddle of paint I had poured out onto my plate.  I repeated this a few times until I had a little puddle of watered down paint.  To paint, I dipped my brush into my diluted paint, brushed some excess paint off onto a clean part of the plate, and drug my paintbrush away over my pre-penciled on design, grabbing a little more paint every couple of inches. 
 photo 2 (12)

The paintbrush I used was pointed at the end vs. a flat-edged brush.  I tried to vary the thickness of the lines I was painting by only using the tip of the brush for thin lines and the thicker middle part of the brush for thicker lines. 

Up close, you’ll notice a few mistakes.  The ‘a’ in ‘take’ has a rough left side and I could’ve made it thicker to fix the edge but I was too afraid of it looking too thick so I just let it go. 

IMG_5802My lines are far from perfect and my hand wasn’t 100% steady (thanks to being in a hurry!) but I don’t mind the imperfections.  :)

I had to buy watercolor paper (I bought this pack from Hobby Lobby with a 40% off coupon) but had everything else I needed for the project so, if you factor in the fact that I only used one of the 12 pieces of watercolor paper in my new pack, this little project cost me under $1. 

Cheap and aesthetically pleasing…just like I like it.  :)

Hang Ten

Ten frames, that is.  I’m popping in today to tell you how exactly I hung the new frame collage in the kitchen, in case you want to hang your own.

First, I laid out the frames on our living room floor in the layout I wanted them hung on the wall.  This was a process with a lot of trial and error involved.  I had a bunch of frames to choose from and just kept laying them out until I was happy with the result.  I probably laid and re-laid about 20 times before I got to the final result.  Initially, I was going for a very unsymmetrical layout – lots of different sizes of frames, randomly placed.  But then I tried a more symmetrical layout (not exactly symmetrical though, as you can see) and ended up loving it, so I stuck with it. 

Here’s where I ended up:Image-1 (1)

Here are the sizes of frames I ended up using:IMG_5791meas
The measurements labeled are the inches of the outside edge of each frame; not necessarily the picture inside.  As long as you have the inches, you can raid your local store for frame sizes and worry about filling them with the appropriate-sized pictures later.  (Thrift stores usually have lots of sizes so maybe check one near you!)

To hang them, I started in the vertical middle of the wall and hung the two middle frames first, working my way to the outsides.  I hung the whole collage so it was a little higher than the horizontal middle (ceiling to chair rail) so the girls wouldn’t be able to touch the Last Supper when they were inhabiting their high chairs (an accident waiting to happen!), but I’ll probably move the whole thing down a few inches once we move them to the ‘adult’ table (soon!).  I used the same tool I used to hang the first (failed) collage in here; a DIY hanging tool I made following The Scrap Shoppe’s idea.  It’s the most amazing tool for hanging pictures, I tell ya!  Gone are the days of making paper templates of each frame and hanging those first or measuring a thousand ways to determine nail placement!  All you have to do with this handy tool is hang the frame on it, hold it up to the wall where you’d like it hung, and press so that the nail on your tool makes a little mark on your wall where you’ll hammer in the real nail.  So easy!  If you don’t feel like making your own or don’t have a scrap piece of wood laying around, this picture-hanging tool (affiliate link) from Under the Roof Decorating will do the same thing (and it’s only $10).

I’ll be back tomorrow with details on the stuff I diy-ed in this collage! 

Happy Humpday!