Halloween Decor – Medieval Banner

We had a little theme going on for our first ever Halloween party.  Chris gets excited about the Renaissance Fair every year, so back in the spring he decided that we should have a party with a similar theme.  I decided to make a banner with crests on it – that works, right?

We bought some lightweight white fabric and I cut out squares (rectangles) roughly 8×11, just like a sheet of paper.  I made a shield shape out of paper and “traced” aka painted around the edges of it so that all my shields would be the same size and shape.  I also brainstormed a list of symbols that seemed crest-y to me:  crown, sword, knight helmet, tree, acorn, fleur de lis, horse, lion, castle, tower, etc.  One symbol shown in the photos does not belong at all, but I’ll let you figure out which one that is.  (Hint – its nerdy)

We painted them with normal everyday acrylic paint.  I bought a long roll of jute string at the Lowe’s Depot for a rustic look.  I folded the top part of the fabric over the string and then hot glued the back so the fabric was permanently stuck to itself.  The glue showed through a bit when it dried if the globs were too big.  I could have sewed them, but I don’t have a sewing machine.  Yet.

We painted these freehand, but the fabric was definitely thin enough to trace a pattern through.  Definitely learned that good brushes make this so much easier.  I tried sharpie at first, but that bled way too much, paint was the better choice.

How does one dress up for a medieval / renaissance theme?  Like this.  Yes, there was archery.  We might have put some holes in our shed accidentally.


Twelve by 2012 Challenge

What’s this?  Yet another challenge from the blogosphere?  This is a challenging place.  Danni at Oh, Hello Friend has a goals challenge and I thought maybe jumping in would keep me motivated.  In fact, I’ll start a new page to keep track of it.  Read the challenge details by clicking the banner above!

Andrea’s 12 by 2012:

  1. Design my own blog header/ background (this is just a pre-fab theme I’m making do with)
  2. Take better pictures with a real camera (well, point n shoot is all I got.  sorry iPhone, love ya)
  3. Learn to use Photoshop Elements program (to accomplish items 1 and 2)
  4. Launch an Etsy shop!  (I was fairly focused on this for a while, but got distracted)
  5. Run a 12 minute  mile (sad I know, right now its 15ish.  i’m a huff n puff)
  6. Post on the blog 4 times per week
  7. Clean something in my house every day (vs saving it all for the weekend)
  8. Buy a sewing machine and do at least 1 sewing project

Ok, I could keep going but I’m going to stop here because I feel like between starting a store and improving my baby blog (a blog that is new, not a blog about babies) I’m fully challenged.

Anybody else up for it?  Share your struggles!  Kick me in the booty!  (nicely)

Island in the Sun

My kitchen island arrived!  And in time for our party Sunday.


After a lot of hunting around on the interwebs for the right counterheight table, I finally thought that it would be cheaper and better to just make our own.  I liked the idea of a butcherblock table.  I wanted it to be the same height as our counters to function as additional workspace, and so that it felt like it belonged.  It also needed to be long and rectangular (like the kitchen) so that we could still move around.  Funny how putting a table in the middle always made our kitchen feel small and awkward, when really its not either of those things.  And it needed to have stools to slide under it to make for hang-out space and a place to eat.  We never eat in our kitchen.  The slide-under was important because I didn’t want to be tripping over the stools all the time.

Here’s an example of the close but not quite right – the Groland kitchen island.

What is the point of paying $200 and then not even using the bottom storage?  We’ve got lots of cabinets, so storage is not an issue.  And it would be in the way of my stools.  And cats would be walking all over whatever I put there.  I did get the idea of having a bar for towels from this guy though.


Oh and the two saddle stools – also Ikea.  We bought those a while ago having faith that if we bought the chairs, the table would come.  They don’t seem to sell them anymore though, I can’t find them on the website. Bummer.

Before we didn’t have anywhere to hang dishtowels.  Voila!  The bar is tucked right under the edge so it doesn’t stick out.


I got the top at (wait for it) Ikea.  The dimensions of 1 piece of Lagan countertop turned out to be the perfect measurements.  Real butcher block is expensive, but the one piece of countertop was only $39.  My dad built the frame/legs and stained them with what he hoped would match our other cabinets.  Its his Christmas present to us, so Merry Christmas to me!


The stain is fairly dark, but it does match the cabinet knobs.  I’m thinking I might change it at some point … to light gray.  What do you think?

Op: Stuff on Walls part Tres

So here’s my blank empty wall – there were some black and white photos there for a while, but I didn’t super love them there.


The round brown table normally sits in the corner by the couch (for remotes and stuff) but I moved it here in case people wanted to sit and have more of a place to put things and feel homey.


Enter husband who knows how to use a drill.  I put some masking tape to mark on the walls where I think the shelves should go.  That white metal piece is held into the wall with screws, and then the metal ledge slides into the wooden (cough-particleboard) shelf.  Its important to find the studs in the wall, as these babies can hold up to 30 pounds per shelf according to the Ikea directions.


Here’s shelf number uno – which I felt like was the perfect height.  But then any other placement of shelf number dos seemed either too high or too low.  Oh and I put a lot of different stuff on the shelf.  The green painting is one Chris did way back when.  Chris didn’t like the shelves lined up because he thought it would look like a big equals sign on the wall – see my little masking tape line below?  Too symmetrical.  He insisted that the shelves needed to be staggered to create better flow and not be so choppy.  Like this.  Eventually I gave in to my “its too high” fears.  Also don’t like how it highlights the vent in the wall, but what can you do.  Here’s what we agreed compromised on.


Annnd done!  I had to put a lot of different things on these shelves to find an arrangement I was moderately happy with.  I also added a lamp to the little table to increase the “this is a nice place to sit” vibe.


Look who found her polar bear painting in the garage.





I was a little worried about naughty kitties treating this like their own personal jungle gym and inadvertently knocking my stuff off and breaking it – particularly this lovely vintage depression glass candlestick.  So far they haven’t attempted it (knock on wood).

The shelves are Ikea-strikes-again.  You can find them here:  Ikea Lack Shelves.  They have lots of sizes now.  I think I Lack them.  Do I love them?  Do I want some more of them?

Op: Stuff on Walls part Deux

I’m back!  I was buried in party-making over the weekend and I feel like I’ve finally recovered!  Well, I’m not sleepy at the moment and the kitchen floor needs some attention, but we’re mostly recovered.

So last time I was spray painting some frames, including this one.  I’ve had it for a while hanging empty on the wall like this.  A little bleak.  If it looks familiar, its because its another Ikea purchase – the Ung Drill frame for $30. I liked the curvy old school look of it, but truth is its just plastic.  I’ve seen other Ikea frames spray-painted around the blogosphere, but I never pinned any so I can’t share unfortunately.

Before – black and bleak


After – lighter and brighter…?


I didn’t want it straight up white, so I used this off-white/cream spray paint.  Ivory that is.


This frame has a lot of nooks and crannies to get paint into (not unlike an English muffin) and I ended up emptying the entire can of paint on this one frame.


Look, its happy to see ya.  The masking tape message is temporary until I get the glass part of the frame unburied in the garage.  If it has survived being buried in the garage that is.

I added little hints of metallic copper paint around some edges hoping it would look distressed, like it was an old dark brassy gold underneath aging white paint.

I think it ended up looking more like cheesy gold finishes on white decorative china figurines.  But I used it sparingly, and who knows, I might end up painting this baby yellow or green or something later on down the road.  But for now, its definitely less oppressive and even less plasticky looking than before.


The Ung Drill has only begun its journey… (from the halls of Hrothgar!  no?)


The Art of Productive Procrastination

My two main goals for Monday- Wednesday were to A. Hang things on the wall and B. Clean clean clean. I got a good start to the cleaning over the weekend and I’m waiting til Wednesday to finish it up – cleaning too early is pointless.

Tuesday night was supposed to be spray painting some frames and finding photos to put inside them. Wait that was Monday night too, but I didn’t finish. I watched tv like a slacker.

I go into the garage to check on my frames, wonder where some paint was, and then wonder what happened to all those picture frames I bought ages ago.   They have to be here somewhere.  Why is this garage such a mess?! I can’t work in this! Where is that polar bear painting I did a few years ago? I want my polar bear painting!

Now, our detached one car garage has gone through several stages of junkness. For a while it was so full of giant piles that no car could fit inside and nothing could be reached. It was like an episode of Hoarders (lets call that Stage 1). We tackled it and the piles cleared to just the sides of the garage. So piles up to ceiling but space for my car to fit inside. Stage 2 (Hoarders make room for car) lasted for a while until we finally tackled that. Stage 3 has been no more hoarding, replaced by small piles of things to donate/ bags of craft supplies/ art from our college years.  Nothing like looking at my crappy school art to make me feel good about myself.

We have big aspirations for our little red garage. We want it to be an art studio/ workshop/ gym/ place to put my car. Chris has definitely been doing the gym part, with a weight set that he moves out from the corner as needed. But the studio part has been sorely lacking and that’s what set me off.  I need a place to create and work happily!  The fluorescent lighting and piles of junk were not that place.


This giant piece of plywood is actually the back of a painting Chris did in college.  Its very large and very heavy.  Why did he make so many of his paintings on heavy pieces of plywood?  The cardboard with the pile of canvases and notebooks on it resting on a wooden platform that is screwed into the wall.  Chris has thus far been unable to remove it.


I’m already in the middle of my mad organizing, which involved putting things up in the attic storage and getting a few things down.  I kept one of the patio chairs with me in case I needed to collapse.  Doggy was not much help, but its nice to have company.  There’s a table and a drafting table on the left, and a chest of drawers blocked off by the weight bench.  Those stairs lead to the attic space that I can’t stand up in, but there’s a lot of space up there.  Lots of cleaning out stage 2 involved dumping stuff up there, but I shoved things around so that I could make a walkable path.  I hit my head a couple times.  (And imagined falling through the attic stair hole, lying bleeding on the concrete floor hoping Pascal could run for help.  Fortunately none of those things happened.)


Designated tool area… again, more workspace that isn’t very usable.  Poms I shoved under the cabinet and the donate pile.

Progress… a bit anyway


I covered the plywood with a (starry) curtain and used one of my college art projects… its an Emily Dickinson poem (on strips of paper with velcro on the back).  I Dwell in Possibility.  Its pretty nice, you should google it.  Again, kinda bad memories from college art days but that’s not Emily’s fault.


I added twinkle lights.  Because… you can’t have too many twinkle lights.  Just like you can never have too much cow bell.  And I needed an alternative to the overhead fluorescent light.  I also put some art on the pegboard.  Art here being a poster, photos of Chris’s Peachtree races and his high school letter aka random stuff I found in the garage.  I also found his high school diploma covered in spider gook in the corner.  Obviously his accomplishments at Decatur High School meant a lot to him.


Look, usable work space!  The remaining bags are things I’m going to use in the next week for the party… and some of Chris’s workout gear that I don’t know where to put.


The blinding floor light is good for artsy projects.  And not blinding when pointed way from face.


All in all there is still a lot of ugliness to be undone, and organization desperately needed.  It is always going to be a garage.  But its in progress.  I met the spiders creating the spider gook – one in each corner (aka Tim the Toolman and his neighbor Wilson).  I let them be for the moment.  Once I felt satisfied with my organizing and twinkle lighting and attic-head-bashing, I was able to move on to my real purpose.


Spray painting that junk.


Good thing my garage has been somewhat de- cluttered and now has better mood lighting.  Because all these people coming over are going to see… not my garage.  That my friends is what I like to call “productive procrastination”.

For now, we are tired doggies.


p. to the s.  I did find my picture frames and some other various decorative items (wedding photos, oh good).  Much more attractive photos to come.  Sorry for all the ugly garage photos… but I want to maximize every foot of our space and enjoy living in it.  And that includes my art studio… garage.