Monday, February 25, 2013

Betsy's Baby Shower

I know, I know. EVERYONE in my life is pregnant. I'm practically showing you a baby shower every other post at this point. I still have at least one more coming in the next few weeks!

But this shower was for a baby girl. And it's so cute....

As for the details, we (Mom, Aunt Judy and I) made the pom-pom poufs and the doily banners. I cut out the shapes for the "Welcome Ellie" sign and my mom cut the letters using her Cricut machine. The dots in the banner around the fireplace are becoming a staple of my party decor.. they're cheap and very effective at upping the adorable factor.

The chalkboards were my handiwork... and the smaller of the two was actually part of my gift. What little girl doesn't need a gold-framed chalkboard? Actually, to be honest I bought it before Betsy was even pregnant and painted it gold. Then it sat in my basement because I thought it was too girly to go anywhere in my house. When Betsy told me that they would be expecting a girl, I knew that my Disney Princess-esque chalk board would have a home.

For favors, we passed out "sugar and spice" hand scrub in 4 oz jelly jars with this label on the lid. Sadly, I did not take a picture of the jars all together.

It was a good day, lots of "aw-ing" and plenty of sugar and spice, fun and food. I can't wait to meet little Ellie Katherine Sanborn... March 6th is quickly approaching!

PS - I'm ok with the endless showers as long as I get to continue planning them.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dashing Dresser

This is a project that is nearly a year old. Digging up the "before" picture brought me back to April, 2012.

This dresser belonged to my husband when we was a little boy. I'm told that my mother-in-law spent weeks finding the perfect shade of purple to match the little trucks that were in the wallpaper she used to decorate his room. I know... purple seems like a pretty unique choice for a little boy, but it was the 80's... things were crazy.

Before it was Dan's, it belonged to his father and his Grandmother. When I looked at the bare wood inside the drawers, I really wanted to strip all the paint and let the original grain show. However, after I got past the purple, then the blue, then the faux technique, I gave up. The dresser was painted white.

Over the years, the keyhole had also been painted over. This was especially maddening to me, because I love the contrast that a shiny keyhole creates. I scraped away at the paint for a long time before I got to this point.

I even painted the inside of the drawers and lined them with shelf paper!

And then it was time to replace the knobs. I wanted something a little bit different than the typical glass knobs I've been seeing everywhere. Actually, I wanted pulls instead of knobs... which was funny because when I looked inside the drawers, I noticed 2 holes that had been filled where the pulls used to be screwed in. Ah, time... it changes everything and then changes it right back.

But at this point, nearly 3 months had gone by since I sanded down the ole' boy, and I was no longer interested in filling and re-painting. So I began searching for knobs on e-bay.... Well, I went to e-bay after I figured out that the anthropology knobs would cost me roughly $100.

$100 knobs for a free dresser? I don't think so.

This is where things got a little tricky.

I found these bluish grey knobs that I loved... and, they had gold hardware, which would match the keyhole. They were offered by a British seller, but once you converted pounds to dollars, the price was a little over $3 a knob, and about $9 to ship. JACKPOT. So I bought 10.

As is turns out... that was $9 PER KNOB. I panicked.

"Think Sanborn... think! I mean Sadlon - think Sadlon, think!"

And then I got this genius idea to have the knobs shipped the only person in England I know, Mark Beisley, a co-worker of my father-in-law. "If I can ship them to him, surely the price will be less. He comes over here all the time so he can just pack them in his suitcase for me." So I asked Mark and he agreed, as did the ebay seller.

When Mark received the knobs in the mail he asked me if I wanted to have them shipped to Andy through the company. It sounded a bit sketchy to use company funds to pay for my knobs... and while it does seem like something I might do, I didn't really think it was fair to ask father-in-law to be sketchy on my behalf. So I told Mark "just bring them over next time you come, there's no rush."

A week or so later, father-in-law handed me the knobs and let me know that it has cost $70 to ship them from England to here.

Panic, round 2.

But then he assured me he was just kidding, that Mark had actually come over to the states that week and brought the knobs in his bag. WHEW. They ended up costing about $5.50 per knob when all was said and done.

Except that then the hardware was silver! Drat! So I bought some gold paint and just hand painted all the screws and the little plates. Ugh.

Not too long after all of that, I found the mirror on craigslist for $20. It came home, got a nice coat of white paint and was placed atop the dresser.

A few weeks later, Dan was able to cut the painted screws (which were about 2 inches long) to the right size. The dresser was finally complete. All it took was about 6 months, start to finish.

And another 4 months after that, I have finally shared it with you today! God my timing is great.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Headboard "how-to"

I owe you guys about a million posts right now. There are a ton of things that I just haven't found the time to write about lately. Not because I'm busy... because I'm lazy.

The headboard that I made for our bedroom switcheroo is awesome. I really love it. Just in case you are wondering how to do it for yourself, here's my very vague instructions. Take them with a grain of salt... around the rim of a margarita.

First things first: Figure out what you want. I wanted a gentle curve on top. I also didn't want it to go all the way to the ground because our thick, old-house trim would not allow it to sit flush with the wall if it did. So I didn't build "legs" like many others have done.

Tenth Avenue South Blog - my original inspiration source

my leg-less headboard

I started to type up all of the logic used for the size of materials I purchased... but it got to be such a cluster of words and numbers that I gave up and created this graphic instead (believe it or not, the graphic is way better than the paragraph was). It lists the sizes I used, the cost, and where I purchased the item. Follow my advice on the nailheads (upholstery tacks) and foam... you do not want to buy that stuff in a store. You'll also need a staple gun and the matching staples along with the proper hardware if you intend to secure the headboard to your wall.

Usually, you know I like to "marinate" my supplies before actually using them, but this time around I jumped on it as soon as they arrived (and they came in like 2 days).

Ok, here is where things get not-so-copy-able.. I have no formula for the curve - I just cheated by lugging the plywood upstairs, placing it behind my old headboard and tracing...

Then I waited 2 days for my husband to use the jigsaw to cut it out. He did not.

I finally did it on my own. And then I was very impressed with myself and reminded said husband that the less and less he does around our home the less I need him.... and he better be careful to remain useful to me or I would phase him out.

Empty threats abound in our house.

Then I lugged the freshly cut and sanded piece up to the ghost room and evicted the dogs from my new foam that had been laid out on the floor for those same 2 days. Then, I traced all around the plywood and cut the foam by hand with scissors... this was a bad idea. It is much easier to cut foam with an electric knife, but I don't have one.

Then I went to bed because my hand was killing me from using the scissors and it was 11:00 anyway.

The following day I laid out the fabric, then the batting underneath the foam, which was under the plywood.

I pulled the batting into place first and stapled it down every 3 or 4 inches. After this was done, I cut off the excess batting and began to pull and staple the fabric starting with the curve on top. I've learned that it's very important to not pull the fabric too tight because it's impossible to pull with uniform pressure. You end up with unintentional "puffs/humps" if you pull too tight. By starting on top, you are giving yourself the option of pulling tightly on the bottom to keep the fabric from wrinkling... no one will see if you end up with "puffs/humps" on the bottom. Once you've stapled it all down, cut off the excess and stand it up to admire your work.

At this point, you're really only halfway there... sorry.

To add the nailheads, I measured and marked every 2 inches around the top and sides of the headboard. Here is where I messed up... I bought 2 inch foam and extra-thick batting because I wanted it to be soft and squishy. Not sure why, because I own pillows and never sit straight up in bed (that's what chairs are for). But the majority of the headboard is foam, so the nailheads really have nothing to stick in to.

But hindsight was not getting me anywhere, so I decided to cover the tip of the nailhead with fabric glue and push it down into the foam. It saved my thumbs quite a bit of work, but I don't know how well they will stick in there long-term. I let the glue dry overnight and joined these jokers on the couch.

Work commenced again a day later when I started to add the hanging hardware that the man at Home Depot told me would work. I ended screwing in the "eyes" about 48 inches apart to account for the studs, which I thought were every 16 inches.

At this point, I was awfully impressed with myself. I had used the jigsaw, the drill and the electric screwdriver. You have to admit, that's pretty good for a girl who has an illogical fear of using (and subsequently, breaking) power tools. And it's always this elated feeling of superiority that brings about your demise, isn't it?

Several holes in the wall, and thwarted attempts to hang the headboard later, I gave up and announced that the plaster walls were to blame. I'm not sure where I went, but I left the house in shame. 

This was actually the most important step in the process. You must quit and walk away. The headboard fairy wont come if you are around. When I returned, this is what I saw:

As if by magic, the headboard had hung itself! Now I know how my husband feels when his dirty laundry magically reappears clean and folded in his dresser drawers!

So unfortunately dear readers, I don't know how to hang the headboard on the wall, but I can tell you how NOT to do it. Do not hang a hook that looks like this:

It simply will not work no matter what the guy at Home Depot told you. Just disappear and hope that the headboard will hang itself like mine did. 

Crazier things have happened. 

So, here are some of my lessons learned from this project:

1. Definitely buy supplies online. My total cost for this project was about $125, and I bet it would be easy to spend much, much more.
2. If you plan to use the nailheads, double up on your plywood so they have a place to be driven in to, use 1" thick foam and thin cotton batting.
3. If you like the look of linen, buy linen and not a canvas drop-cloth. I made the mistake of buying a drop-cloth thinking it would be cheaper. By the time I used a coupon at Joanns, it was about the same cost, and now my headboard doesn't remind me of painting, or smell funny (I think they coat the canvas in something...)
4. Find a curve you can copy if you want a curve. If you can't, consider a slightly different shape, because creating your own symmetrical, eye-pleasing curve seems like it would be impossible. 
5. Vacuum your floor before you put the fabric down on it. Unless you think the dirt and dog-hair adds texture.
6. Ask a man who knows how to hang things, or better yet, just have him hang it for you. Hint: you can probably make this process go faster if you put a couple of holes in the wall and then run downstairs shouting  about how "it just wont work!"
7. A jigsaw and a drill are not scary things. You can use them on your own!

And for a little tease... here is how the headboard and bed look fully dressed.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine Sweetness

There are many reasons why working in an office full of women can be tough sometimes. But here is one reason why it's awesome:

Someone at work decided we should do valentines. At first, I thought, "wow... that's kind of silly and childish." But then, I reconsidered. I handed out a single heart sugar cookie with a little note.

And then, I remembered what it was like to eat too much candy.

Worse things have happened than a little sugar eating away at your teeth and causing a stomach ache.... it's probably just the pangs of love.