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Halloween 2013: Merida and Mary Poppins (Jolly Holiday)

I can't believe it is already Halloween!  I thought I would share a few quick pictures of the kids and their costumes.

If you don't recognize her, E is Mary Poppins:

Not "Spoon Full of Sugar" Mary Poppins, but "Jolly Holiday" Mary Poppins (Where she dances with Burt and some penguins in an animated world):

Nursery Progress.. What is left? (ORC Week 4)

The fourth week of work on the Nursery is coming to an end and I can finally see light at the end of the tunnel! (Yes, the actually challenge is on week 5, but I started a week later than everyone else!)

This week I crackle finished my flea market boat oars and hung them:
I also made this nautical flag artwork and custom clothesline frame but I haven't posted about it yet.

I painted the pine bookcase so it fit better in the space:

How to Get a Crackle Finish with School Glue (Boat Oars Makeover)

 I posted earlier about my great find of a couple old oars I wanted to use in my nautical nursery.  The problem was that they were black, and the walls where I wanted to display them were navy:

I did love the patina on them though. All beat up and with cracking and peeling paint.   I knew I wanted to replicate the look in white.
You can buy "crackling medium" at craft and hardware stores which give you the look of an old crackled finish, but I am too cheap to spend $10 on a bottle of them.  I am, on the other hand, willing to spend $1 on a bottle of white school glue at the Dollar Store. 

So how does it work?
To get the crackled look, you need to a thin damp coat of glue between two contrasting colors of paint so the bottom color will show through to the top after the glue dries and shrinks up, bringing the top layer of paint with it.

I was lucky, the oars were already black, so I didn't need a base paint coat.  I just added a thick layer of white glue to the oars (I spread it with a foam brush):

Once the glue is tacky (not wet and runny, but not dry) I added a thick layer of white paint over the top of it:

As the glue, and the paint, dries.. the cracks magically appear.  

For thin hairline cracks you want to spread the glue thin and make sure you have your brush strokes running in the same direction:

For thick 'fractured" cracks, you want to spread the glue thicker and try not to get any brush marks.

Here they are hung on the wall (the nautical flag artwork is something else I made and will post about in the coming weeks.)  I think they are darling.  Especially for under $15!

Sharing at some of these linky parties.

Painting A Pine Bookshelf

I'm still plugging along on my little boy's nautical bedroom.  One of the furniture pieces I salvaged from another room in the house is this pine bookcase.  Originally it was in my master bedroom. I really love it.  It is so simple in it's design, with neat adjustable shelves that work by moving a small trapezoidal shelf supports up and down a series of 'shark teeth" on the edge of the bookcase.

I plan on redoing my bedroom furniture in the future, so after a lot of back and forth, I decided I could use this in the nursery and paint it.  I just don't think 'knotty pine' will ever be in my design future.

After priming with Zinnser 1-2-3 (eventually I used 3 coats to hid the knots) I moved on to paint:

I used some of my "Ikea White" custom color I used on my mudroom built-ins(for the formula see this post.) I then decided to paint the back an accent color (I used the leftover Raspberry Truffle tester paint.)

After it was done, I refilled it with all Baby J's books and toys:

I really like the dark red backing, it actually brings out the fact it is planked:

And here it is, in its final home, under my shower curtain artwork wall:

Now I only have to tackle my upholstered glider and pine side table, and I can mark "furniture" off my list!

Sharing at homestoriesatoz and some of these parties.

A Non-Professional's Experience at BlogHerPRO 2013

I just got back from an intense few days at the BlogHerPRO conference which was held in Silicon Valley this year.

Let me explain: I do NOT consider myself a "Professional Blogger" by any means.  
If I had to survive on my income from blogging to feed my family, we couldn't even afford Ramen. Blogging still has to fall into the "pastime" category for me.

I will confess, the only reason I attended was because I live in the Bay Area and it was going to be an "easy commute" over to the venue.  The reason I have "easy commute" in quotes is that anyone who lives around San Francisco/Silicon Valley can testify that there is no such thing as an easy commute.  On a good day I was facing at least an hour in traffic, but I had an unforseen complication of a public transportation strike to make it even more exciting.  I ended up staying in a hotel close to the venue to save myself the headache and turned the two days into a mini-vacation for myself. BEST.DECISION.EVER!

Not only did I learn quite a bit at the conference, but I also came home refreshed.   Check out the venue for the opening night's cocktail mixer:

One other cool thing about this specific conference (vs, say Haven for example) is that the participants were very different.  There were hardly any DIY bloggers there (I may even say there were NO other DIY bloggers there.. at least that I met), and I only recognized a handful of blog names.  I did however meet a TON of local bloggers whose blog topics ran the gamut from MommyBloggers to FoodBloggers, Self-HelpBloggers, TechBloggers and even a few people who blogged professionally about things like Medical Care, Law, and Business Development.   

There were a lot of bloggers at this conference with tens hundreds of thousands of followers and millions billions of pageviews and it would have been easy to be intimidated, but most people were super nice and easy to talk to;  Regular ol' people with regular ol' lives.  Even though I am a tiny blogger, I could actually relate to a lot of the "big guys."  In fact,  Britt Reints  (who spoke about Pivoting your Brand) even gave me a little shout out, after hearing my story of re-branding my blog earlier this year.
It was fascinating really (at least to me, who doesn't really run in non-DIY blog circles) to hear about other people's motivations for blogging and how they have found success.  (Pinterest isn't exactly a big traffic driver if you are blogging about Medicare or Binding Legal Contracts!)

And even though was quite a bit of information in the sessions that didn't (and probably won't ever) apply to me (like turning your blog into a marketable physical product,) the message of "You don't have to be perfect!" "Give yourself a break and just do the best that you can." and "Don't compare yourself to others!" still resonated.

All these (now) big professional bloggers had to start somewhere.  It struck me when keynote speaker Porter Gale said: "Miracles and success are an accumulation of small steps.  Baby steps still mean you are making progress!" (Totally random anecdote: She and I actually had a discussion about how the houses on Houzz are insanely large and over-the-top and just how fun that makes them to look at! See.. I told you.. regular ol' people! )

If you are interested in the information presented in any of the sessions, you should peruse though the Virtual Conference Blog Posts.  I promise, if you are a blogger, big or little, you will learn something.  
The final highlight of the whole event was the announcement that the next BlogHer conference (you know, the "BIG ONE!')  is going to be in San Jose!  My backyard!!  I hope that I will get to see a few of favorite fellow BlogHer Sponsored DIY bloggers there!
 I'm going to BlogHerPRO '13!

Painted Wall Frame and Shower Curtain Artwork (ORC Week 3)

It is time to update you on this week's progress on the Nautical Nursery. (Here is Week 1 and Week 2) I gave you a big sneak peak of one wall when I revealed my 'new' dresser:
On that wall I have incorporated my cat litter tote bucket, my thrift store finds, and a large letter "J" I found on clearance at Home Goods and painted red.  The little shelves are from Ikea.  You also can see those frames (also from Ikea) still need photos. I'm currently working on that.

Here is a little bit more of the room.  I added my made-over nautical lamp,  and hung some cheap tab top Lenda curtains from Ikea (are you seeing a trend here?**).
I still need to fix the green rocker and little pine side table, get new linens for the bed, and work on the rest of the wall art. On the long wall, I wanted to do a large feature wall with a neat paint treatment (like in my inspiration post.)

First I painted a large section of the wall where I wanted the frame to be:

"Recycled" Candy Corn Wreath (For Under $5)


I am always looking for a good way to update my holiday decorations without breaking the bank.  I also love it when one item can do double duty (Like my sparkly red wreath that is perfect for both Christmas and Valentine's Day)

So when I found this spring Forsythia wreath on clearance for 90% off ($1.99) I couldn't pass it up.

I took all the flowers off and saved them for another (more Easter-like) project.  I was left with a really pretty blank wreath form to work with:

JoAnn's had all their fall floral on sale for 70% off (making these less than 50 cents each):

I tore them into individual stems and added them to the wreath, along with some wooden candy corns and a little "Autumn Greetings" sign that I pillaged off some thrift store wooden figurines.  (I still have a little wooden scarecrow and black cat left over!)

I think it turned out pretty cute.. and it looks a lot more expensive than the $5 I have invested in it!   

Customizing a Discount Store Dresser

As part of my nursery makeover, I needed to update an old dresser I had previously used in the girls' bedroom.

It was actually not a fancy dresser AT ALL.  In fact, it came from Target and it was one of those "assemble it yourself" MDF types.  It was never my intention to keep it long term, but it has held up so well, I knew with a fresh new design it would be perfect.

If you remember my inspiration post, this was the look I was going for.
Image Source

I thought that was a really graphic design. And because it is pretty trendy right now, I also wanted to number the drawers.   The problem was that unlike the inspiration photo, my dresser didn't have a flat front.. so I had to tweak the design a little.

Dollar Store Pumpkin Topiary

Today I thought I would share with you a SUPER easy Dollar Store project.  So easy that my 4 year old did all the heavy lifting!
I know there are a ton of Dollar Store Pumpkin projects floating around, but you can always use another!  Especially since my entire investment was only $4. 

The first thing we did was paint the pumpkins with some leftover paint samples I had laying around.  Actually, my 4 year old did this step. It was a great kids project since you couldn't really mess it up:

Nautical Nursery:Shopping and Painting (ORC Week 2)

Time for a quick update on the nursery progress for Calling It Home's One Room Challenge party.  I have been a busy bee, but don't have a ton of show for it just yet.  I'm still in the "planning/figuring out what I can do with with I have to work with" phase.

I have posted about a few projects that are specifically for this space. 

And I did swing by the Alameda Point Antiques Fair this month. This is a HUGE flea market that is held once a month in Alameda California.  I was there more than 4 hours and barely got through half of the more than 200 vendors.  They actually tape the shows like Design on a Dime and Flea Market Flip at this sale.  It was tons of fun!

Here are a few of the "treasures" I picked up all for under $50 (no single item was more than $15).

Some small boat oars.  I love the patina on them, but the black color probably won't work.  We'll see:

A pair of wooden buoys.  Not authentic ones, but close enough for looks.
A couple of model boats.  (The red one I actually found at my local thrift shop):

Beadboard Halloween Sign

I am finally getting around to putting my exterior Halloween decorations up.  I am actually not one of those bloggers who works a season in advance.  I normally post my projects in "real time."  (The truth is that I'm not that organized!) So projects you see on my blog today, were most likely something I actually worked on this week.  That was the case with this project.

Anyhow.. This year I decided to stay with the silhouette theme and designed a big beadboard sign for the front walk. 
This is made from another remnant of the beadboard ceiling in the powder room (just like the Pottery Barn style beadboard flag I used for the Fourth of July).

I used 4 colors of craft paint (yellow, orange, red and black.)  I poured the paint directly onto the beadboard and blended the colors as I went.

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