Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My Grandma's Quilt

Almost without exception, every memory I have of my Grandma (my dad's mom), comes from the home where she and my Grandpa raised their 4 boys.  It was a little cottage with a round-top door and the most wonderful garden, right in the heart of Alexandria, Virginia.  They moved out of that house many years ago now, so a lot of my memories are a bit hazy, but some are still razor sharp.  I remember the smell of their basement, with its rickety stairs and cold cement floors.  Grandma walked those steps hundreds of times during the decades she spent in that house, lugging endless loads of laundry up and down for my dad and his brothers.  I remember her tiny, cheerful kitchen where she used to watch birds flutter around the garden.  Bluebirds were her favorite and I still love them because of that today.  One of my favorite things about that house, though, was the little table that she got when her first grandchild was born.  That little girl was me, and Grandma made a special place for me to sit in the dining room at my very own bright red table with a matching chair.  She put my name on the table, and as each of her other 5 grandchildren arrived she added each of their names, too.  I loved that little table.  I think she left it out even when we weren't visiting, just as a reminder of the 6 little ones across the country (and for awhile, across the world) who she loved so much.  I know she prayed for us all everyday, and I treasure every memory I have of her.

My grandma died in March of 2003, back when I was just a sophomore in college.  She was ready to go Home, and while it was so sad for Grandpa, all four of her boys, and her grandchildren, we all rejoiced that she was peacefully at home with her Father.  She had such a strong and beautiful faith.  When I was little, every time she sent me a card or letter, she would always include a small length of ribbon with a Bible verse reference written on it in pen.  Just a verse that was on her heart; something she wanted to share with me.  She continued that tradition right up until she passed away, and I especially treasure those little scraps of ribbon I received during my first 2 years of college.  It was so wonderfully grounding to know that even though so much of my life had changed since starting college, Grandma was still daily praying for and thinking of me. 

After she passed away, many of her things (and lots of the things from the house that my Dad grew up in), were put in a storage unit near the retirement community in Pennsylvania where Grandpa now lives.  Just a few months ago, my parents went down to clear out the unit and decide what should be kept and what should be donated.  One of the things they found was an incredibly old quilt of Grandma's.  It's actually only the pieced top of the quilt, as the back and batting had both worn away over the years.  We're not sure who actually made it, but my mom and I suspect that it was Grandma's mother, Grandma Anna (Grandma's name was Dorothy Anna, and I'm named after the two of them).  My Grandma didn't do much sewing (can you imagine sewing with 4 boys running around, all born 4 years apart?!), but her mother did.  Even though she didn't make it, the quilt is so reflective of Grandma.  The bright, cheerful colors of the tiny postage-stamp sized squares are so like her personality.  While this quilt is only a tiny portion of the warm and lovely home my Grandma made for her husband and sons, I'm so honored to have such a palpable reminder of her and of the house I loved so much as a little girl.

My mom gave me the quilt with the hope that I could come up with a good way to use the crumbling old fabric.  It's much too fragile to use on anything that would suffer more wear and tear, so incorporating it into a pillow cover or a new blanket wouldn't work.  With that consideration in mind, I decided to use some of the fabric to make a few buntings.  Those don't get abused nearly as much as pillows do, so I think this will be a good way to preserve the delicate fabric while still getting to see it every day.

With most of my buntings I don't use a different backing fabric, but just fold the main fabric over onto itself and sandwich the twine between.  This quilt definitely needed some extra support, though, so after creating the template for the pennant's shape, I cut both a piece from the quilt and a matching piece from some cotton canvas.  I used some Wonder Under (basically a double-sided fusible interfacing that can bond two fabrics together permanently) to join the two layers, so I ended up with a nice sturdy pennant that would keep the quilt fabric from further crumbling.  To make a pocket for the twine, I folded back the top inch and sewed it down, creating a nice roomy pocket so the pennants can easily move along the length of the bunting.

I made a bunting each for myself, my sister, and my parents.  My sister and her husband are in the process of buying their first house, and I hope this little reminder of Grandma will find a perfect place in their new home.  The one I made for my parents is a little shorter, with just 5 flags, because I made it specifically to go in my Dad's study.  He spends time in there everyday, and I hope this will be a sweet reminder of his wonderful mom.  As for mine, I'm stringing it across the large bank of windows in my kids' playroom.  The bright colors fit perfectly with the space, but much more importantly, I think it will bring a bit of Grandma's sweetness into the room.  Though they never met her, I want my children to know about my Grandma's love, faith, and kindness.  She shaped their Papa (my dad) and their mommy in so many ways.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A DIY Mini Oyster Shell Wreath

I have a lot of white in my house.  All white slipcovers on my living room furniture, antique white dining chairs, white bedding on our bed, several pieces of white-painted wood furniture.  You get the idea: I love white.  To me it's the perfect neutral backdrop for any decorating choices I make.  (Oh, and in case the idea of white slipcovers makes you cringe, seriously, they're the best.  Bleach, my friends.  Bleach is a truly magical substance that transforms my child-abused white slipcovers back into their gorgeously crisp and clean former selves whenever I wash them.  It's quite cathartic.)  With all the white around me, I've recently been exploring the way texture impacts a space.  A totally white bed can be just as interesting as a busily patterned one, as long as that white is presented through lots of differently textured pieces.  I'm really in love with highly textured neutrals, in particular.  Don't get me wrong, I love bright vibrant color and use plenty of it.  I don't think anyone visiting my house would say that it lacks color, even for all the white.  However, give me something in a neutral color (like grays, tans, whites, etc.) that's full of interesting texture, and I'll swoon over it every time.

A couple of years ago, our family went on a beach trip to Myrtle Beach, SC.  Whenever I got the chance to slip away from my kids (i.e. when I could convince Stephen to let me abandon him with them for a few moments), I wandered the beach, collecting the most beautiful oyster shells I'd ever seen.  Being the ocean-loving girl that I am, I have lots and lots of shells in my house.  I didn't, though, have any oyster shells.  They're lumpy, grayish, and not nearly as flashy as lots of the other more oft-collected varieties of shells.  Call me crazy, but I was immediately smitten with those funny looking things.  I brought home a couple jars full and have been happily displaying them since.  Well, when it turned out that we were going to be heading back to Myrtle Beach this summer, I was on a mission.  Before we even left, I decided that I wanted to try to make a wreath for our front door out of some of those gorgeously textural, grayish blue shells.  (I'm telling you, I'm a serious sucker for the neutral + texture combo.)

To that end, everyday while the kids were resting I went down to the beach with a plastic grocery bag and scoured the sand for my little treasures.  I even used the flashlight app on my phone so I could search one night after dark!  If you were in Myrtle Beach a couple of weeks ago, I was that weird woman hunched over the sand, digging around pilings and the like to look for the funky gray shells.  I definitely got some weird looks.  At one point, I was even rummaging around the sand at the base of a dumpster.  Don't judge.  When I have a craft idea in mind, I will NOT be stopped.  Since I've been known to actually reclaim whole pieces of furniture from dumpsters, I'm certainly not above looking for shells around them.

Once we got home, I set to work almost immediately.  I bought a wire wreath form (those are particularly sturdy and can handle the considerable weight of all the shells) and wrapped it in several strips of canvas to give me a good surface for adhering the oyster shells.  It took just a couple hours of fiddling to get a pattern I liked, and now we have a wreath that I absolutely adore!  Here she is:

Isn't that fabulous?!  I really don't like much about our tiny little front entry, so I didn't take any full shots of the door.  The whole area looks a bit sad and dated, but now at least it has a great new wreath.  I'm definitely going to be adding a burlap bow for the holidays, just to give it a bit more pizazz. 

I had intended to take some good process photos while I made the wreath, but I gave myself the worst hot glue burns I've ever had while making it.  Suffice it to say that I was somewhat distracted and forgot all about taking pictures.  Conveniently, though, I had lots of shells leftover after finishing the big wreath (seriously, I was a shell collecting fiend that week) so I made a mini wreath so I could show how I did it!  You're welcome. :)

So, now that I'm done with that ludicrously long preamble, let's get down to the business of making this mini wreath!  First, you'll need to assemble your supplies: a wreath form, shells, and hot glue.  I found a perfect little thick cardboard wreath form at the craft store for just $.99, so I grabbed one of those.  This wreath would of course work with any shells you have on hand, I'm just really digging these oyster shells at the moment.

My 6" wreath from didn't have any means of hanging, so I used my staple gun to attach some jute twine to the back.

Easy and very effective.  The next step is to dry fit your first layer of shells before gluing them down.  This is really important, since fitting all the shells together around the wreath is a bit like putting together a puzzle.  It would really stink if you got all the way around, having glued each shell as you went, and discovered that you ended up with a gap you couldn't fill.

Once you've dry fit both the inner and outer rings, go ahead and start gluing.  And for pity's sake, BE CAREFUL!  I actually almost screamed, my burn hurt so badly.  Somehow I managed to squeeze the insanely hot melted glue right up under my fingernail, rather than onto the shell I was holding.  Not. Good.  Anyway, once you've glued the first rows you just need to go back and keep adding shells to the top until you can't see the wreath form anymore.  You don't need to keep the shells pointing in the same direction, I just liked how that looked on my wreaths.

Once you've glued all your shells down, you're done!  It really is quite simple.  The morning after I completed my mini wreath, I was getting ready to take some daylight photos and noticed you could still see the brown cardboard from the sides.

Does the artfully placed paintbrush in the picture give away what I did to fix that issue?  Yep, I just slapped on a little gray paint.  Problem solved.

See?  The cardboard really disappears once you paint it.  In that picture you can see a bit of hot glue peeking out from under one of the shells.  Don't worry, it really isn't noticeable when you look at the wreath head on.  There's so much going on with the shells, any stray bits of glue are totally lost.  I wasn't even particularly careful about making sure to hide all the glue, and you still can't see any.

Total perfection!  This small wreath would make a really eye-catching addition to a gallery wall, don't you think?  No room is complete without some natural element, and this one really packs a visual punch for such a small piece.

Ok, now go forth, collect (or buy) some shells, and make wreaths!  They're fun!  They're practically free!  They'll impress your friends!

Thanks, as always, for stopping by. :)

Friday, August 23, 2013

An autumn butterfly shadowbox

Hi, all!  Today I'm sharing a super easy project that I hope you'll love.  As autumn gets ever nearer, my butterfly obsession just seems to keep getting more intense.  I've been meaning to make this shadowbox for ages, but only just got around to it.  Good timing, I suppose.  The colors work perfectly with my mostly yellow fall decor, and it obviously fits with my ongoing butterfly theme.

I've had the main component of this project, the wooden box, since last December.  It's actually the box one of my son's Christmas presents came in!  If you have kids, they've probably received something or other from the brand Melissa & Doug.  Well, Melissa & Doug, thank you very much for the wonderful solid wood boxes in which you seem to package all your products.  Truly, from the bottom of my DIY-obsessed heart, thank you.  I never, ever throw those babies away.  To make this shadowbox, I just picked up some scrapbook paper and small butterflies to add to my perfectly-sized little box!

If you don't have a handy dandy Melissa & Doug box lying around, you could easily make your own.  The size and width of the box sides are just about the same size as the 5 gallon paint stir sticks I used for my herringbone tabletop project, so you could pick up a couple of those and quickly put together an 8x6 inch box, using just cardboard as the backing. 

I didn't particularly want the brand name on the side of my finished project, so I sanded it off (sorry M & D!).  I gave the box sides a quick staining with some Dark Walnut Minwax stain before cutting down the paper to fit snugly inside.

Once the paper was inside the box, though, I thought the lettering looked a bit too dark.  I wanted the paper to serve as just a textural backdrop for the butterflies, not to compete with them.  I made up a quick whitewash from a tiny bit of ASCP Pure White and got it to about the consistency of skim milk.

Yeah.  So it turned out that that was way too watery.  It pretty much just made the paper wet.  Mneh.  I added more paint and brought the consistency more into the half & half range (I just can't think of a better analogy for watery white paint, ok?) and that worked fine.  The difference is very subtle, but I'm much happier with the results.

See?  It knocked down the boldness of the writing just a bit, which was exactly what I was going for.  Nothing major, just a slightly softer background.  After that quick step, I decoupaged the paper into the box using some satin finish Modge Podge. 

Impatient crafters get excited, because this part is for you.  With this project you don't even need to wait until the decoupage is dry to do the next step.  Score!  As you're basically just gluing the butterflies to the glue-esque decoupage, it doesn't matter if the latter is dry before adding the former.  The butterflies I picked up came attached to a long thin wire, which I snipped right off with scissors.  Didn't even need wire cutters for this one.

I used tacky glue to adhere my butterflies, but really any glue would work just as well.  This piece is going to spend its days either sitting on a shelf or hanging on a wall, so there's no need to worry too much about sturdiness.  Just stick 'em on there and they should be juuuuust fine.

Ta da!  You've created your very own butterfly shadowbox!  Isn't it lovely?  These would make gorgeous nursery decor, and the butterflies come in all sorts of colors.  I think I may make a few as baby shower gifts.  Hope you liked this quick little project! 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My new garlic keeper

Tomorrow I'm off to Atlanta for the Haven conference (eeeeek!), but I thought I'd pop in quickly today to share a little project I've just been working on.

I really enjoy cooking and do so A LOT.  Well, I try too, anyway.  Sometimes the lure of some no effort carry out pizza is just too much for me to resist at the end of a long day.  In an attempt to make myself cook as often as possible, I try to keep my kitchen pretty well equipped.  I have my beloved cornflower blue Kitchenaid stand mixer, my fabulous cast iron dutch oven, my Cuisinart food processor, and several other fun and useful things.  I love them all!  Mind you, I've been very slowly accumulating those things over the course of several years of birthdays and Christmases.  Living on a budget doesn't allow for lots of expensive gadgets all at once, after all. :)

One thing I've been wanting to add to my kitchen collection for quite some time is a garlic keeper.  Such a little thing, but it can make a big difference in the longevity of a bulb of garlic.  It's very, very depressing to be in the middle of cooking dinner and discover that my garlic is all dried and shriveled.  Boo!  Garlic keepers can help prevent that from happening, so I've been on the hunt for one.  There are tons of really cute options on the market, like this one from Amazon:

How cute is that?  I love it, but don't feel like dropping $10 on it.  After thinking about it for a bit, I came up with a way to make my own garlic keeper for cheap cheap cheap.  A bunch of the keepers I've seen around the interwebs are made from terra cotta, and they all have holes in them to let the garlic breath.  See where I'm going with this?

Ta da!  A $0.79 terracotta pot with a $0.19 saucer!  (Please disregard the stains on my counter.  They're beyond my ability to clean.)  Right material, perfect size, and it even has a vent hole.  I was so happy when I got this idea.  It works perfectly!  It's a little plain, though, so I grabbed some paint and took care of that problem. :)

I've long loved the gorgeous white patina terracotta gets with age and weathering.  Look at these from Etsy.  Absolute perfection.

I used some Pure White ASCP to try to replicate that look, since it's so easy to apply and to work with after it's dry. I used my finger to apply a good base coat, and after that I used a brush to apply a second, more opaque coat.  Once all the paint was dry, I hit the edges and a few key spots with some 150 grit sandpaper, and this is my final result!

I love how the totally matte texture of the Chalk Paint looks just like the flaky whiteness that develops naturally on this clay.  I didn't paint the interior of the pot, since that'll be touching the garlic and no one but me ever sees it.  Chalk Paint is about as safe a paint as you can get, but I'd still avoid getting it allover your food if you can help it. ;)

So there you go!  A super cheap, super quick and useful project for your weekend enjoyment.  Now, go make yourself a garlic keeper!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Our New Butterfly Wall Chart

Well, hello there.  Thanks so much for dropping by!  Today we'll be studying...butterflies!  I love butterflies.  Don't you?  The zinnias the kids and I plant each year are a positive magnet for butterflies, and we love to sit on our sweltering little screen porch and watch them flutter around. 

With all the butterfly goodness going on outside, I was ready to bring a bit of it inside.  One of my very favorite trends on Etsy (and elsewhere, but that's where I spend a lot of my time, after all), is the gorgeous old natural history and vintage school wall charts that have been popping up.  I just can't get enough of them.  Here's one of the vintage butterfly charts from Etsy that has my drooling:

Isn't that fabulous?  Sadly, though, that price tag ($110!) is well outside my discretionary decorating budget.  The vintage ones all run in that sort of price range, so I obviously had to DIY something if I was going to have one of my own.  After a bit of looking online, I stumbled across Cavallini & Co.'s large single sheets of wrapping paper.  Oh my goodness, how have I not seen these before?  They're incredible!  I bought the butterfly one (naturally) through Amazon and it was only $5.  (Unfortunately the Amazon seller I bought mine from seems to be sold out, but you can get the poster here, too.)  I can't imagine anyone actually using them as wrapping paper, really.  Mine is 20x28 inches and it's printed on gorgeously textural Italian paper.  Seriously, who would fold something like that up and put tape on it?  (I suppose I did end up putting glue on mine, but that's beside the point)

Poster in hand, I went about finding some wood to use for the roll-y bits at the top and bottom.  Do those things have a name?  Let's just keep going with roll-y bits, shall we?  I didn't want to use round dowel rods because they would have been way too hard to attach to the poster.  Lots of fiddly effort = not what I wanted for this project.  At Michael's this afternoon I picked up a couple of 1/2"x1/4" flat pieces of wood that worked beautifully.  The 1/4" thickness gives the sticks a nice weight, which I thought would help the poster stay flat when hanging.

Each piece was 24 inches long, so I cut them down by 2 and 1/2 inches before I stained them.  The plain blond wood wouldn't have looked right with the vintage-y poster, so grabbed some stain from my stash and got started.  Let me pause here to say how glorious our Habitat ReStore is.  I picked up a whole bunch of little cans of barely used Minwax stain for $1 each.  Every single staining project I've ever done has been accomplished with those little cans, from my IKEA hack tv table  to the antique desk I restored.  I'm such a hoarder, I can't imagine ever getting rid of almost full cans of anything, but I sure am glad someone else did!

Ok, enough digression!  After a quick sanding just to smooth the sticks out a bit, I used the Dark Walnut stain.  I like that this color doesn't have much red, and since I wanted a straight brown this stain worked perfectly.

Cardboard boxes work wonderfully as a work surface, by the way.  I was way too impatient to wait the full 24 hrs drying time on the stain, so I coated the sticks with some Polycrylic sealer after 2 hrs.  I can't recommend this course of action, since you're supposed to wait a whole day, but I can't be bothered with that.  Once I had finished with the wood prep, I did a quick dry fit of the sticks before gluing them to the top and bottom of my poster.

As you can see, I used whatever was around to weigh down the sticks as the glue dried.  I wanted to be sure the poster was totally flat before I hung it so that it would look more like a chart than a poster.  To create a hanger for the poster I just glued a bit of jute twine to the back of the poster and top stick.  Such a simple project with a huge payoff!

Isn't it fantastic?  It's the perfect butterfly addition to our living room, and the kids love it, too.  Our other favorite screen porch activity is watching birds at our feeder, and I'm hoping to do something similar with a bird poster on the other side of the room.  I'll let you know how that turns out when I get around to it.  In the meantime, though, here are the butterflies in their permanent home:

Sorry, the light in there is terrible.  But you get the idea!  It makes such a happy addition to the room.  Hope you like this little project!

Linking up here:

Give Me The Goods Party at So Much Better With Age

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Ultimate Market Tote!

Hi friends!  Today I wanted to share the newest creation for my Etsy shop, and man am I excited about it.  I know I've mentioned it before, but in case you missed it, I'm headed to the Haven Conference next weekend.  It's a blogging conference for DIY bloggers and I am so thrilled to be going!  I've been wanting a new tote bag to carry a notebook, business cards and maybe a little conference loot, and I was thinking something a bit larger than my regular purse would be great.  To that end, I hit the drawing board (well, really just our dining room table) to design a new bag!

I've always loved the ruffled ticking market tote I already have available in my shop, so I decided to do something similar for the new one.  I based the size on my favorite Restoration Hardware tote because it's roomy without screaming, "I'm a crazy bag lady and I plan to take each and every freebie in this entire room so all the rest of you better clear a path before I trample you."  I don't want to scare away the other bloggers too quickly.  I'm already probably going to be all "Hi, I just met you and I'm nervous so here's all the the personal information I can possibly blurt out," anyway, so I think I'll try to at least look put together.  We all know it's just a ruse, but shhhh, they don't need to know that!

Oooook, back to the bag.  For this one I went with the more neutral tan ticking stripe, since that goes with pretty much everything I own.  In the shop, though, I'm making it available in any of my 3 ticking colors (this tan, navy, or red).  I really, really love working with ticking cotton for several reasons.  Its stripes make a great graphic statement, it can fit in with tons of different design schemes, but most importantly for this bag, it holds up beautifully to lots of use.  Seriously, this stuff is sturdy!  The ones I use are about the same weight as an 8 oz drop cloth.  Maybe just a tad lighter, but not much.  Perfect for a well-used tote bag, in other words!

Now, like I said, I already have a ruffled ticking strip tote bag available in my shop, so I needed to differentiate the new one from the original.  One thing my smaller tote doesn't have is a lining, which I knew I wanted in this one.  Rather than the typical muslin lining, I went with a gorgeously textural oatmeal-colored pure linen.  I absolutely adore this fabric!  Just like the ticking material, it wears really well and stands up to heavy use.  It's soft, too, which is nice for the inside of a purse!  Just to add another layer of goodness to the inside of the bag, I added a pocket on either side of the interior, too.


Isn't that linen beautiful?  I love it.  Another feature that I added to this bag (but that you can't see) gives it a huge boost in sturdiness.  I used a heavy duty iron-on stabilizer to add a ton of extra heft to the ticking material.  ()A stabilizer is basically just another layer of material that can be permanently fused, with the heat of an iron, to whatever fabric you're using to give it added strength and stiffness.)  It's so sturdy now that the bag can stand up unsupported!  For a tote bag that I plan to stuff fairly full, that's a really big bonus.  Also, as with all my pillow covers and totes, all interior seams (including those you can't see) are serged for nice clean edges and another layer of added durability.  Each handle is also made with a layer of stabilizer sandwiched in between 2 layers of the ticking cotton.  This bag can take a beating!

Who wants to have a tote bag if it isn't pretty, though?  Not me, thank you very much!  That's why I added the ruffle. :)  I love ruffles; they always make me smile.  They give this bag so much personality, too.  Just imagine it without the ruffles for a minute.  The fabric's stripes still give it a nice look, but I think the ruffles put it over the top in the awesome department (if I do say so myself!).

The ruffle's big, too.  Five inches from top to bottom, actually.  I thought about doing 2 rows of smaller ruffles, but I'm really happy I went with one big one.

So what do you think?  Do you like my ruffly new tote?  It's available in my shop now (view it here!), so if you're looking for a fun gift (think Christmas...), I'd be delighted to make you one!  Really, this bag has it all.  I'm just pleased as punch with how it turned out.  Here's one more beauty shot for the road, complete with my chalk-drawn flowers and baguette (don't laugh).

Thanks, as always, for stopping by! :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Seafood, anyone?

Hello hello!  Can you believe July is more than halfway over?  I certainly can't.  It's been a wild month, and I'm so sorry I haven't been able to pop in here more!

Now that all the traveling craziness has settled down for a while (although I'll be on the road again to the Haven Conference in less than 2 weeks!) and our church's VBS is over, I had the chance to do a quick project this week that I thought I'd share today.

Waaaaaaay back when we moved Lily into a twin bed, we bought a big piece of 3/4 inch plywood to serve as a base for her mattress (the box spring made the bed too tall).  Stephen just went with an uncut piece and cut it to the right size when he got home, which left several feet of leftover wood.  Naturally, I decided to make a vintage-y sign with a little of it.  I mean, what else would any sensible woman use leftover plywood for?

I've been wanting to make a sign for my kitchen for a while, so that's where I knew this one would land.  I just love the look of all the vintage signs I've seen popping up around the kitchens of blogland.  They give even the most bland spaces a shot of unique character, which is something my deeply bland space could definitely use!  With the sign's future home in mind, I went with a food theme.  Specifically, seafood!  I love me some sea, some food, AND some seafood, so what could be better, right?

Ok, enough preamble!  Let's get down to the nitty gritty of how I made this baby.  If you've been around for a while, you may remember the sign I made for our master bedroom.  Yeah, I'm never using that insanely painstaking method EVER AGAIN if I can possibly help it.  Which I can.  So I'm not.  Anyway, I knew i needed to go a different route for this project, so after a bit of research I settled on the carbon paper method.  That's what Marian over at Miss Mustard Seed used to make her beautiful "Dairy" sign.  The only problem is that, well, I don't have any carbon paper.  But we all went to elementary school, right?  Remember when you used to color all over the back of a piece of paper with pencil, flip it over, and then draw a picture that would transfer to the surface below?  No?  Just me?  Moving on.

After choosing my fonts (my favorite part of any sign-making project) and fiddling around with their sizing a bit, I printed them out and filled in the entire backside with lots of pencil lead.  After taping them down, I simply traced over the lettering and this is what happened:

Ta da!  Perfectly transferred lettering with no X-acto knife purgatory and without having to go buy carbon paper!  (By the way, if you were transferring your lettering to a darker surface, you could do the same thing I did here but use chalk on the back of your letters instead.)  I love cheating the system.

With this sign in mind, I made a trip to our neighborhood Ace hardware to grab some paint samples in the colors I wanted.  I guess nobody was buying their little premixed paint pots, because they marked them down to $2 earlier in the summer.  Well, when I got there they'd marked them down AGAIN, this time to $1 each!  What?!  I'll take 8 of them, thanks.  Seriously, I bought 8.  I can't believe they were so cheap!  These little babies will last me for ages!

With my socheapIfeltlikeIstolethem paints in hand, I filled in my lettering with a nice dark blue (which looks much brighter here, for some reason).  After that I did a quick border and series of freehand waves in a really beautiful aqua color.

Great colors, huh?  I was lovin' the sign at this point, but decided to try a little dark wax to age it a bit.  Really, really terrible idea.  It just ended up looking dirty.  I think I'm officially retiring my dark wax.  I just can't get the hang of it!

Depressing, huh?  I did a little toddler-style foot stamping, and then just re-did the whole thing.  This time, though, I used my trusty Valspar Antiquing Glaze to age it.  I mostly used it to highlight all the great texture in the wood, rather than making the whole thing look darker.

See how wonky my painting looks up close?  I consider that to be my signature "I'm incapable of holding my hand steady" style.  Please contain your jealousy.  We can't all be as perfect as me.

So, that's my new sign!  Do you like it?  I'm super excited about how it finally came together.  I've been known to have to redo entire projects from time to time, so it didn't actually phase me all that much.  Just a part of DIY process.  Don't get discouraged if a project doesn't turn out just how you were hoping.  You can always try again!

Oh, and here's a quick shot of it in its permanent home in our kitchen.

Mmm, popcorn ceiling.  Let's just ignore that shall we?  That door leads out to the laundry room, but I'm not showing you that.  It's much, much too embarrassingly messy and cat litter-y in there.

The sign looks cute there, though, right?  I hope you get the chance to make a fun sign of your own!  It's easy and fun!  Do it, I say!

**I'm linking this post up with the Inspiration Exchange over at Ella Claire this week.