Flip It

A few weeks ago, on a gorgeous, sunny Saturday, Anthony and I decided to go on a date in our own back and front yards.  Winter had come and gone and spring left it's mark of leaves (yes, down here, leaves fall in the spring...and fall...and winter) and dried up flowers in our lawn and the once-pristine pine straw beds we built up last fall looked no more like well-groomed landscaping but more like leaf heaven. 
Here's a glimpse of the mess:
I'd been eye-ballin' this mess every time we left the house and passed by it on our way down the driveway, not looking forward to the soon-to-be day we'd have to go out there and hand pick those pesky leaves out of the beds, one by measly one.  We had plenty of pine straw still in the beds, so that wasn't a problem...just the leaves. 
Well, that day came - our yard duty date - as I mentioned above.  Anthony mowed and edged while I put on my gardening gloves, squatted down on my haunches, and began the tedious task of picking and picking and picking and picking and...  After five minutes of that, I was done.  My quads felt like I had just run five miles and I was simply wasn't feeling productive.  So, I switched up my technique.  I thought, "What if I just pick up small sections of pine straw and shake 'em a little?  Would the leaves and dead flowers just fall out leaving the pine straw behind?"  It was worth a try.  So, I picked up the first little section of pine straw, gave it a little shakeroo, and only a few leaves fell out of the bundle...not what I was hoping.  So, thinking I was gonna have to suck it up and start picking again, I threw the pile of pine straw back down and that's when the heaven's opened and angels started singing...well, not really, but I'm sure God was laughing at me.  You see, when I threw down the pile of pine straw I had been holding it landed upside down in it's spot so that the leaves were underneath and all you could see was "fresh" pine straw!  Glorious!  Away I went, picking a section up, flipping it over, and throwing it back down. 
Here's the same bed shown above halfway done:
Sure there were still a few leaves and a little dirt mixed in, but after the first rain the dirt washed down through the straw and I easily picked out the few leaves that were noticeable.  I'm not sure this is the "correct" way to do it but it works!  I convinced myself this way was actually more beneficial to the dirt underneath though because those darn leaves will decompose and leave nutrients in the soil, making healthier dirt for the plants...am I off my rocker or is that true?  Anyone know?
So anyway, after about 20 minutes of picking up sections and flipping them over, every bed in our yard could once again be labeled "manicured" and I was drinking a tall glass of ice water, relaxed in our back yard.  I wish every fix was this easy...and free too!

Blinds Behind

Finally, it's here!  You might remember that in this post of yore, I mentioned I had an ingenious idea up my sleeve and, literally, on my window.  I just haven't had time to write up a wordy post about it.  But, today is the lucky day because I'm stuck at home without a car...a curse and blessing of being a one-car fam.
So let me start with faux wood blinds.  What can I say about them?  The thought of them tumbles back and forth in my mind between like and dislike.  I'm not a huge fan of their aesthetic appeal (if there is any) but they do maintain privacy and block out light like champs.  Personally, I would much rather get those features out of a roman shade.  But, since my sewing skills haven't had time to develop into roman shade making, I've had to deal with those darn faux wood blinds that adorn every single window in this house.  However, I did come up with a compromise and I'm going to call it "putting the 'blinds behind'". 
Here's what I did:

First, using the same fabric used to make the decorative pillows I wrote about yesterday, I quickly sewed up a 'shade'/valance 42" wide by 20" long finished.

Then it was time to measure how high above the window I wanted the curtains and 'faux shade' to hang.  I actually ended up raising the curtains about six inches from where they were so that in the end, my window would look bigger since the shade would be covering mostly wall space.  Out came the drill and up went the hardware for the second curtain rod on which would hang my shade.

Next, I slipped my homemade shade onto the curtain rod and hung it.

Now comes the part where my valance actually becomes a 'faux roman shade'.  Using the mechanics of the blinds is the vital element in making this come true.  So with this in mind, I sewed the shade to the blinds vertical strings (on this particular blind, there are three).  I attached it with one small knot around each string, between the second and third blinds.  So, in the end, I had three, almost invisible, tiny knots.
This picture shows the sewing in progress, right before I cut and knotted the thread:
Make sense?  I hope so.

At this point, the shade is attached to the blinds and will move with the blinds, up or down.  At night or any other time when our guests want the privacy power of the blinds, the shade is simply a decorative valance.

The same is true during the day when the blinds are down but open to filter sunlight (or a rainy day like it was when this picture was taken).

But here's my favorite - when the valance becomes a shade.  Since the shade moves with the blinds, when the blinds are raised, so is the part of the shade that is sewn to the blinds.  This creates the faux roman shade.
Ta-Da!  Presto chango!  Unless we have guests, this is what the window looks like!  And, unless you've read this post, you'd never know it wasn't a full-length piece of fabric/real roman shade that only cost me around 9 bucks to make (new $5 curtain rod + $4 of fabric)!

See the 'blinds behind'?  :)

I originally thought of this idea after getting some inspiration from a post by Jenny at the blog, Pearl Street Interiors, where she made a roman shade out of mini-blinds (which I can't wait to adopt if we ever buy a 'blindless' house).  After tweaking her idea to fit my own situation, I had to have a trial run to make sure I wasn't going nuts.  So, I grabbed some left-over fabric from making the Berr Chair, and quickly hung and sewed it to a window in our bedroom.  Then I did the happy dance realizing that it worked and that a couple of Beans could have window treatments that looked custom and not-so-cheap on a shoe-string budget!  Here's what my temporary trial run looked like:

Putting the 'blinds behind' would also work if you wanted to make a full-length shade to cover your blinds.  All you would have to do is sew the fabric to the strings of your blinds every 8 to 12 inches or so.  It would cost more, but not much more.  I was going for a super-cheap solution (I spent $4 on fabric vs. $20) but might employ it in the future.  Also, if someone doesn't come buy this house soon, every window will become a victim, or should I say, every blind.  :)    

Seeing Stripes

Anthony's parents were in town for Easter but before they came, I wanted to gussy up our guestroom - not that it needed any gussying up, I just needed a project.  :)  Sounds great, right?  The motivation to take on this minor makeover came the day I found out they had found tickets and their visit was a part of reality...aka 2 months ago.  The problem was that I just didn't have time to do what I wanted - more decorative pillows, a roman shade, lamps...  Well, I found time...a few days before their plane touched down.  The thing about last minute projects like this though is that, being a frugalista, deals are hard to find.  But, lucky for me, my guardian angel is also into interior design - the heavenly kind - and she pulled some strings for me.  :)
I've been hopelessly coveting this striped fabric over at Hancock Fabrics for a year now, but at $35 a yard, it was never my idea of "worth it", me thinking I could get half a weeks groceries for that price.  Well, I happened to walk in three days before Anthony's parents arrived and to my utmost joy and excitement, it was on sale for $8 a yard!  Still a little more than I'd like to spend, but since I only needed a little over a yard, who could complain!  Not me!  Plus, I got two pillows and a 'faux' roman shade (more details on that next time) out of it!
Home I went to whip up two new decorative pillows using my striped fabric for the front and some of the white shower curtain I used to make these pillows last month for the back.

Here are our new striped sensations:
The lighter blue in them matches our existing duvet cover perfectly and they add some "wow" factor into the room!  They also draw attention away from the bare walls, which we're not hammering into anytime soon since we're trying to sell this house.  The less holes to spackle over, the better on moving day.

You might've also noticed that the headboard got a coat of white.  It went from this:

 To this:
The end tables were also added awhile ago (found clearanced for $10 each) and won't stay dark for long either...just not sure what color they'll be yet...silver leafed? mustard or pale yellow with a glaze finish? light green? white with a painted pattern?  There are so many ideas in this little noggin', it's hard to tell what will happen.  :)

I Went On A Lampage - Part II

So you saw the lamps I found and I told the story of the green one turned white, but here's the story of the brass ones turned...green!  This is also the beginning of the story of the guest bedroom mini-makeover...just to keep things real.  :)

First, I taped, taped some more, covered the bulb sockets with plastic, and then primed.  A few nice and thin coats did the job.

Next came the green - Krylon's Ivy Leaf in a gloss finish.  After about five thin coats of green paint, I topped both lamps off with a couple of coats of glossy, clear acrylic spray paint (also by Krylon) for extra protection.
Before I show the afters, we must pan over to the shades.  I found two medium sized drum shades (Target brand) at a local discount store - one for $5 and one another day for $2.  On both shades, the tape holding the actual drum to the wire shade was coming off in places, hence why their present home had become a discount store, but it was an easy fix with a little fabric glue.  To add some more pizazz to the shades, I sought and found matching green ribbon to adorn them.  Again popping out the fabric glue, I glued one end of my cut ribbon to my shade (right over the shade's vertical seam), waited about 10 minutes, pulled the rest of the ribbon tightly around the shade, and then glued on the other end.  I "ribboned" both the top and bottom edges of the shade.
I glued the ribbon about a half-inch from the edge just out of personal preference, but aligning it right along the edge would also quite 'edgy', if you know what I mean.  :)

Total Investment:
2 Brass Lamps:  $6
2 Drum Shades:  $7
Green Ribbon: 50 cents
Fabric Glue:  already had
= $13.50 for two snazzy lamps perfect for our guestroom
Not bad considering this similar-looking lamp from Target will run you back $19.99 plus tax.  (I know, I'm really cheap.  Twenty bucks for a lamp is bordering expensive to me/us...)

           Lights on:                                                                                    Lights off:
Now that I've spilled the deets on my lampage, next up is the rest of the guestroom makeover starting with more pillows...I told you, I'm addicted to making them.  :) 

I Went On A Lampage

Quite literally...and this is only about half of it.  I found these three lamps at two different thrift stores.
The brass ones were $3 and some cents each and the green one was $6.  The story of the brass ones I'll tell later, but here's what I did with the green one (minus progress pictures...sorry).

First, after wiping it down, I taped off all parts that wouldn't mix well with spray paint, namely, the nickel part at the top, the entire socket, and the cord.  Then came the fun part, the spray paint.  You might be surprised to find out I spray painted it in the first place because it doesn't look that ugly.  Well, the truth is that it really wasn't ugly but I had glossy white on the brain and just had to paint it.  :)   

Here it is today:
I had to persuade Anthony to place it atop "his" dresser to add dimension, filling up wall space we haven't yet filled with picture frames...someday.

Read about other two lamps next week...and our guest room's minor makeover for that matter!  As for me, I'm in the middle of spring cleaning our kitchen - organizing cupboards, shining up stainless steel, washing the window, etc...whistling while I work!