Category Archives: Creativity

Kitchen Makeover-Part 1

Kitchen Makeover-Part 1

Before i begin,  I would just like to acknowledge everyone who was affected and/or lost a loved one on 9/11. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Last November, two weeks before Thanksgiving, I had a grandiose plan to revamp my tiny kitchen in time for the holidays. LOL LOL LOL I laid out a detailed plan on paper and convinced myself that it can be done in a two week time frame. Although my mental clarity was not compromised, looking back on it, I don’t know what I was thinking. Through it all, I learned a lot about myself and what I really love, and what I don’t really love which is always a good thing. I realized that I enjoy DIY with limits. I now know, if it involves plumbing, electricity and gas, I’m out.

Let me start from the beginning. I moved into my home 13 years ago. During that time,  I did 4 kitchen facelifts, mostly with paint,  replacing kitchen counter tops and trimming the cabinets. Unfortunately, I have very few pics of the original kitchen and the previous facelifts as I wasn’t blogging back then. Our home was built in 1947 and the cabinets were a dark brown laminate with  light grey/beige Formica counter tops and back splash and a white linoleum floor that was impossible to  keep clean and all white appliances. And  there was no dishwasher!

When we moved in, immediately,  we replaced the old refrigerator with another white standard fridge and pulled out one of the nine cabinets to make room for an apartment size dishwasher. I was more than willing to sacrifice a cabinet for less dish washing. And then there were eight, cabinets that is.

Quickly, I painted the cabinets in desperation. At the time, I was pregnant with my second son. I have to say this disposable camera shot did not do this first attempt justice.

kitchen reno 2 pic 6

It was a step in the right direction and, I assure you, it get’s way better with facelift #2. I finally got up enough courage to rip the Formica backsplash off the walls. And after some patching, I was glad I did.

 

Kitchen reno backsplash removal

I added trim to the cabinets and painted them white, replaced the counter tops and painted the walls Benjamin Moore Bradstreet Beige  This began a love affair with all the shades on that paint strip. Various shades, including Jackson Tan started popping up in every room of our home. I did a faux tile paint treatment behind the stove atop vinyl sheeting that I didn’t want to mess with. I like how this makeover turned out, however, after a few years, I got tired of having to scrub the cabinets all the time so I opted to go dark again.

2nd kitchen facelift

The next attempt was a disaster! I’m amazed that I even took a picture. I was going for a faux wood look but instead it looked like someone smeared you know what all over these cabinets. Yuck!

Picture 095

I was rather distraught over this botched paint job and decided to rekindle my love affair with Jackson Tan since Bradstreet Beige was already on the walls..

Benjamin Moore jackson tan bradstreet beige paint chipsSo I painted the cabinets Jackson Tan.

kitchen reno 3 before

I just wanted to give you the back story before showing you my latest update.  As I write this, the new stove is sitting in the middle of the kitchen waiting patiently for the plumbers to hopefully shorten that gas line enough so that the stove can fit flush against the wall instead of sitting out as the previous one did. Wish me luck, as it has been the bumpiest of rides this time around.

How about you, do you have any DIY limitations?

Natural Dyes and Paints

Natural Dyes and Paints

I took a natural dyeing class at the Museum of Arts and Design. It was a fun experience and I was so glad I attended. I am always drawn to the natural approach to any process and the avoidance of chemicals whenever possible so this class was right up my alley. The Fall 2014 issue of my favorite magazine,  Do It Yourself,  had a whole section on natural dyeing and  this class was a great opportunity to learn even more. The instructor, Isa Rodrigues, is an artist in residence at the museum and  is the Adult Programs Director at  the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn.

The actual process is simple and requires very little  in terms of supplies. Large pots, strainer and  bowls, containers, mordants and various plant materials. Mordants act as a bridge between the fiber and the dye.

natural dye materials 9997

The plant materials are shredded into the pots to which water is added.

 

flower petals 0011a

This mixture is heated and turned off before it reaches a boiling temperature.

flower petals in water  0015

The plant material is strained from the liquid to which the mordant treated fabric is placed into the strained liquid.

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The mixture  is being stirred gently to ensure even coverage.  After a half hour and a great question and answer exchange with the instructor, the dyed swatches  that looked like this.

natural dye swatches 0037

The cotton and silk  fabrics received the dye differently; the silk resulted in a more brilliant color while the cotton swatches had a more dull and muted appearance.

Here is the dye process using pokeberries. Although toxic to humans if ingested, it appears to have medicinal qualities when cooked.

pokeberry tryptic 505x189

What  I love about this process is that it is highly experimental and the results aren’t always predictable. It requires a trial and error approach and is sure to take full advantage of one’s creative abilities.

By the way,  you can also make natural paints as well. I attended a free class hosted by The Textile Arts Center. Here is my swatch card from the class. The same paint was used on both sides; however, the right side was primed with Gesso.  It was very informative, as well, and it opened up a new set of creative doors for me.

natural paint swatch 001

What do you think? Do your find natural dyes and paints intriguing? Have you tried either one before?

Fine Dining Takes Time

Fine Dining Takes Time

I am so happy to be back in the garage stripping furniture again. It’s been a while, a long while. Now that the clutter has been eradicated, I have room to work again. I’m working on a dining room table  that I purchased some time ago. It’s been waiting patiently for it’s transformation.

dining table IMG_9985 cropped

 

When I saw it in the thrift store, I immediately thought about it’s Pottery Barn cousin, selling for a whole lot more.

pottery barn Tivoli dining table

 

 

Of course I saw beyond the dated parquet top.

 

 

dining table closeup IMG_9987

I wanted a light finish table this time around since my previous dining room tables have had a dark finish. My dining room is really small and I think a light table might help give the illusion of more space.  I saw a bleached wood table I saw in a magazine years ago and always wanted to give it a try. However, After sanding and bleaching it, however,  I didn’t quite get the results I anticipated. Yes, it is a blotchy mess.

 

dining table sanded bleached  IMG_9989

 

So I have to decide, do I give in go with a dark stain or do I paint it ?  I’m a light color. I’m actually on the fence about it. I also was thinking about a two tone finish, with the pedestal base in a different color. I can always try a dark stain and if I don’t like it, paint over it. Decisions, decisions; sometimes, I just can’t make up my mind and get paralyzed by all the options playing out in my head. What can I say, fine dining take time :)

Are you ever unsure how to proceed with any of your projects? What do you do to get off the fence?

I’m sharing this post with:

Miss Mustard Seed: Furniture Feature Friday

Funky Junk Interior: Party Junk

Coming Out of a DIY Slump

Coming Out of a DIY Slump

The last few months, I took an unintentional break from DIY . Let me rephrase that, I’ve planned, I’ve started, I’ve dabbled but I haven’t completed anything  that I was inspired to write about.  Hence the blog posts have not been forthcoming because I’ve been in a DIY slump.

Happily though, I think I am now back into the DIY spirit and started finishing a project I started last November, my kitchen. It was suppose to be a two week facelift but one thing lead  to another and it turned into a mini makeover.  I have a ways to go and will post about it soon.

Mr. DIY and I have been tackling the dreaded garage for three consecutive weekends.

garage clean out IMG_8531

I realize this before shot could qualify for an episode on Hoarders and  is rather shocking. But we are ready for change.

We devoted two hours each weekend  and we made real progress. We donated a lot to Build It Green

garage clean out IMG_2904

Doing our best to spare the landfill as much as possible..

garage clean out IMG_2907

Then week 2 and  another trip to Build it Green, minus the dishwasher which is going to the salvage yard.

garage clean out IMG_2928

And, finally, week 3 and another donation.

garage clean out IMG_9934

As, the clean out progressed we were throwing away less which always makes me happy.

garage clean out IMG_2931

 

These days, things are a little more orderly now. Not pretty, just orderly. I can find things again! Yeah!

garage clean out IMG_9947

One more weekend and we should be done and then it’s garage sale time.

garage clean out_9939

And, of course,  whatever doesn’t sell will be donated.

Our Summer plan is to turn the garage into a functional workspace . That is a DIY dream that both of us share. Oh that would be such blissful goodness:)

Do you have one of those spaces that always seems to turn into a dumping ground?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I Had a Craft Room?

If I Had a Craft Room?

Are you a Pinterest lover like me? It’s visual presence always takes my breath away. I can get lost in Pinterest land and I never know where I’m going to end up. Here’s my most repinned pin so far.

 

Do-It-Yourself Projects: Repurposed Cribs
Can you tell that crafty wall storage is made from a crib rail? Perhaps, like me, it’s repurposed appeal mixed with craft organization makes it a winner. Creative upcycling is a beautiful thing, don’t you think? I like this organized craft space as well.

DIY and Craft orgainization

 

It has a light and airy feel.

Craft organization is a big deal to me. I want to be able to grab what I need without pause; otherwise my creative productivity suffers. If I had a craft room, I’d probably never want to leave. A dedicated craft room would be my ultimate dream; however, for right now, it’s just not in the cards. But that’s okay; it just requires me to be even more creative in order to find solution that will work and fit in my home. For now, I am collecting ideas on Pinterest that’s perfect for tight spaces while I reduce my craft stash before making any changes to my existing craft storage.

craft closet - organization in a small space.  love.

Creative spaces always wow me because they are all so beautiful and unique. How’s your creative space? Is your creative space all put together or a work in progress?

How Do You Get Into the Zone?

How Do You Get Into the Zone?

book-artforger-shapiro-500

girl with brushes

I wanted to share with you my last read, The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro. I loved it! Even though my book club met two weeks ago, I can’t stop thinking about the main character, Claire Roth, a struggling artist who supplemented her non-existent income by painting reproductions of well known artist to sell on reproduction.com. She lost her credibility in the art community when she made the decision to paint a painting for her married professor boyfriend who was lost in an artistic manic episode in an effort to save his reputation. However, it all backfired propelling her to take part in an illegal forging scheme at the promise of her own art show. Claire struggles with internal and external judgement of being considered a master artist or master forger.

But why can’t I get Claire Roth out of my head? Probably because I can relate to her creative abilities and her intense painting sessions where she could stay in the present moment and create despite all the chaos and drama in her life. Here are a few excerpts:

“The shower cleans the sweat and the odor of fear from my skin, but it does nothing to wash away the residual emotions smoldering inside my body. Once I start painting though, the feelings disappear.”

“As the excitement grows at the thought of working on my own paintings, I push myself even more. I’ve taken to sleeping in multiple, short stretches during both night and day, upsetting my natural circadian rhythms and further cutting myself off from the cadence of the world…………I remain in the zone for longer periods of time than I ever believed possible.”

“When he leaves, I go right back to work. the zone is the safe place for me now.”

I can identify with that zone, that creative place one can go to escape, a place to take a mini break from everyday life and just be, reconnecting with who you are, all the while, filling your internal cup. Like Claire, who gets into her zone when painting, I am in my zone. of course, when I dabble in DIY and pursue my creative pursuits. It’s an important part of who I am. It’s cathartic, my respite and my heaven on earth.

Can you relate? What do you get lost in? How do you get into “the zone”?

The Meaningful Memories of Our Lives

The Meaningful Memories of Our Lives

In my continued quest to scrutinize all my home’s belongings, it is now time to deal with the ephemera of or lives.

ephemera IMG_0332

This, by far, will be the toughest challenge. I have saved a lot of snippets from my children’s lives and have my own memory boxes filled with the remnants of my life too. Letters (who gets those anymore), programs, cards and …….. There’s a lot and way too much to continue storing.

organized ephemera watermarked

The good thing is it is it’s all organized and much of it is labelled or in folders and archival boxes. And then there are the photos.

ephemera memory boxes and photos IMG_0365

Trust me, that’s not all of them, there’s more. I attempted a few albums here and there. however, the majority are in photo boxes rarely viewed. That doesn’t serve me or my family. I can do better.

So I’ve decided to reevaluate, purge, reorganize, digitize and assemble these meaningful remnants of our lives in a way that can be appreciated. I want to create containable stories of our lives that we can peruse instead of having to pull them from boxes in a closet to reminisce.  And so I have been perusing the internet looking for ideas and advice. I encountered this divide between those that save everything and those that save very little or nothing.

Aside from report cards and awards, I plan to ask my children what they value and evokes meaningful memories. And I’m sure this report on Mesopotamia won’t make the cut..

ephemera framed archival boxes IMG_0368

I want it to be about them and for them. And if they don’t want to be bothered in the decision making  then I will have to rely on my own discretion. Hopefully,  a memory box, a binder and a photo album should suffice. The rest will be digitized and only a click away from their viewing pleasure if they would like  to take an all inclusive trip down memory lane. art page I get paralyzed by the artwork, though. I just love these chalk prints. Their masterpieces in my mind. I know, I know,  it’s not about me, it’s about them.

art page evan

 

 

I titled this one “boy floating in water”. I framed and hung it up on No 2 Son’s bedroom wall.

 

 

 

He painted it some time ago and has since taken it down and replaced it with this one. That’s a tell tale sign of what’s important, wouldn’t you say?

 

 

 

And it has gone beyond my children and extended it to my nephews and their basketball careers.

ephemera nephews IMG_0371

My sister’s youngest is currently playing for the Boston Celtics.

And then there’s the sand art No. 1 son and I did together.  He was both Batman and Robin for Halloween. Hmmm, the creative wheels just started turning!  These might be  a nice added touch to a scrapbook page!

ephemera sand art  IMG_0415

Once framed and hung, I recently discovered.a poster from elementary school in the recesses of a closet. That handsome guy with the missing teeth is now  23 years old.

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It’s going to be hard to let go of some things, but it’s time and very necessary. I know it  will be in our best interest  to downsize our family’s memories into treasured keepsakes, manageable and in plane view, for our everyday enjoyment.

Okay so now it’s your turn!  Can you relate to any of this? Do you have a tough time letting go of life’s remnants and ephemera of yesteryear? What are your secrets for both enjoying and containing the memories? Please leave a comment below, I would love to know your thoughts.

 

 

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Between Naps on the Porch:Metamorphosis Monday

Happy 2014!

Happy 2014!

 

2014

I have a real good feeling that 2014 is going to be a great year for everyone, including you! Although I am always optimistic, this year I am over-the-top optimistic and I’m welcoming the feeling with open arms because it feels good . Every year, I take time to reflect on the past year and think about what I want to focus on in the coming new year.

This year, I decided to focus on separating what really matters from the things that no longer serve me and hampers my creativity. My creative abilities and insight is a huge part of who I am and serves me in my everyday life. Recently, I discovered a collection of podcasts at Untitled Minimalism containing very meaningful discussions about living life to the fullest.  The timing couldn’t have been any more perfect for me. By the way, please don’t let the name  or subject matter deter you; the discussions go way beyond eliminating the excess in our lives. After listening to several of the podcasts, my take away has been a heightened clarity about how meaningless stuff interferes with your life’s true path.

Spending way too much time looking for something I know I have but can’t find because it got lost in an abyss of clutter in our two problem areas, the unfinished part of our basement and the garage doesn’t serve me. Both areas have turned into a chaotic nightmare that is both overwhelming and anxiety inducing. Realizing that when you have a home, even a small one like ours, it enables one to save stuff, too much stuff, for a “maybe one day” that might never happen. What’s the point? It’s my hope and mission to have in my home only what matters.  I intend to spend the year scrutinizing everything, deciding if it has purpose and whether it serves our family. If the answer is no, it got’s to go! Hey that rhymes:) Nothing will be off limits, including my creative supplies; trust me, that’s going to be very hard but I’m ready for the challenge!  I even plan to whittle down my wardrobe even though it is fairly small to begin with. I rather have a few pieces that I wear consistently than hold on to things that rarely see the light of day and may be of use to someone in need.

As always, I plan to take a creative approach to my first steps to a clutter controlled life. You see, I always fantasize about living in a one room cottage surrounded by nature.

dream cottage
courtesy of tinyhouselistings.com

with and outdoor area that looks like this

outdoor bliss

I will keep these retreats in mind as I scrutinize my belongings. Furniture aside, I will keep only the meaningful items that I would actually take to my fantasy dream cottage. I sure hope you will check back regularly to see how I am progressing. Yes, 2014 is going to be a good year!

What are your plans for the new year? Wishing you a very Happy and Blessed New Year!

Belated Holiday Greetings!

Belated Holiday Greetings!

Post holiday greetings! I hope that you had a blessed holiday and are looking forward to the New Year. Although I adore this time of year, the holidays always seems to get the better of me. Even though my children are older, 22 and 12, and Christmas this year was very simple, I still found myself turning into the energizer bunny running on E. However, the many hours of preparation and endless tasks are a small price to pay for the joy and love floating in the air.  And the beautiful lights and decorations everywhere make my heart sing!

Speaking of decorations, I did manage to almost finish my vintage ornament wreath at the 11th hour on Christmas Eve. It was my Christmas gift to myself.  And here it is:

vintage ornament wreath IMG_9912 600x362

I love it!  Although, I had 100+ ornaments, I still had to do another thrift store run halfway through. I had too many gold ones and not enough silver. However, as you might already know, you can’t go to a thrift store and expect to find just what you’re looking for. I did find another box of pretty teal blue ornaments though, and incorporated them into the wreath as well. As for the silver ones I needed more of, I decided to strip some of the gold ones I already had.

strip ornament IMG_9827

Most vintage ornaments are usually silver on the inside no matter what color they happen to be on the outside.
After a few seconds in water, the color film crinkles and peels right off. But in order to retain the silver on the inside you have to avoid getting water inside the ornament. However, if a little gets in by mistake that okay too; If you pour it out quickly it might result in a mercury glass look like this one.

mercury glass IMG_9884

Just know that it’s not an exact science and requires some experimentation. As for my wreath, I still have a few more spaces to fill. From afar the gaps are not too noticeable but close up they stand out like a sore thumb. When I take it down, I will fill them in at my leisure.

wreath close up IMG_9912 500 x 492

While working on it,  I had a lot of casualties; some of the ornaments rolled  right over the edge of my work surface and shattered into a gazillion pieces. I will definitely have to wrap it in bubble wrap and find a sturdy box to store it in because it is very fragile. I think if I make another one, perhaps, I can find some vintage looking shatter proof ornaments instead. I’m not sure if there is such a thing but the new glittery ornaments in stores today just don’t do it for me.

As for our Christmas tree, my selection turned into a teachable and reaffirming experience. My intent was to have a cute table top tree instead of using our pre lit one. I wanted to try something different.  The tree I bought home, however,  turned out to be too big for a table top and too small for the floor. So I stacked it up on a crate to give it a little more height and called it our Charlie Brown tree. LOL. The poor thing sat bear until two days before Christmas. Finally, I asked my sons to have at it. I added a few pine cones and ribbon trim and,voila,

pinecone IMG_9878

our too-big to-be-on-the-table and  too-small-to-be-on-the-floor Christmas tree that can’t be taken too seriously.

tree IMG_9912 481x500

The last couple of years, I’ve been learning the importance of going with the flow and allowing what will be to be. The strive for perfection is so overrated and I have decided to move on and choose a different path. And although that path may be filled with many unfamiliar twists and turns, I am embracing and appreciating the imperfect goodness and uncertainty along the way. Each step brings me closer to the authentic life I want to lead.

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Funky Junk Interiors: Party Junk
Between Naps on the Porch:Metamorphosis Monday