Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bookcase Redo

Posted by PicasaWay back right after Christmas I was at my beloved Hobby Lobby and got some really cool wrapping papers. One was a black-and-white diamond pattern for just everyday wrapping, but another was a really cool black-on-black foil swirl design I thought would be really cool to add to the back of one of my bookcases.  This is a cheaper-than-cheap one I got at Target shortly after I bought my house. There's absolutely nothing wrong with it, but I thought this paper would just make it look a little nicer.  I was right! 

First step was to clear everything off the shelves, then take out the two removable shelves and lay it on its back.

Besides the bookcase and cool wrapping paper, I used an xacto knife, some scissors, and some repositionable stencil spray.  Not only did I not have any spray glue in the house, but I also wanted to be sure I could remove it if I didn't like the effect (or wanted to change out the paper in the future).  Reading the instructions, I discovered that if I sprayed the paper and the bookcase back, then let both dry, I should get a reasonably firm bond.  Okay, so on to the cutting! 

I started with a sheet of paper just slightly bigger than the area between two nonremoveable shelves.  After spraying adhesive on the paper and the bookcase back, I started smoothing the paper down.  It took some practice, and I discovered that I shouldn't worry about starting right at an edge of the paper.  The design of the paper has no straight lines, so it doesn't matter if things are a bit crooked. 

After smoothing the paper to the back of the bookcase, I used the knife to cut right in the seam between the two pieces of bookcase.  This was one of the hardest parts.  Be sure that if your fingers get caught between the knife and the bookcase, you move the knife first, not your fingers.  I'm sure you can figure out why that's important, but I didn't think about it at the time. 

Once all the sections were done, I set the bookcase back up.  You can still see the three panels of the bookcase back, but the foil design reflects its pattern onto the top and sides of the shelves and reflects some light into the room.  I'm all for reflecting light in here--I have black curtains, black furniture, and no overhead light (except the red hanging star lamp you can sort of see in some of the photos), so this room tends to be a bit dim.  That's okay, though, since this is my media room--the dimness just helps make it feel cozy and warm!


I added the books and decorations back to the shelves and stepped back to admire my beautiful bookcase!  I think the subtle pattern makes the whole thing look richer and less like the cheap thirty-dollar bookcase it is.  I might add some more touches of wrapping paper to it at some point, but for now, I'm really liking this little transformation!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I would normally call them "arrangements" or "decorations," but the decorating blogosphere has taught me that the correct word to use for decorative items arranged on a shelf or table is "vignette."  I'm not entirely certain how that word differs from "tableau," and who knows--that may be the word of choice a few years from now.  For the moment, however, it appears that the proper highfaluting word is "vignette." (That's a hard word to type, by the way.)

I began this grammatical ramble because I've made a few.  Vignettes, I mean.  One on my console table, one on my coffee table, and a few in my built-in bookcase that never holds books.  Before Christmas, the console table was bare (except for sis/roomie's keys and ipod when she comes in the door), the coffee table had a gourds-and-leaves display that was the subject of one of my first posts, and the bookcase held a series of vignettes that were completely cross-seasonal, but that I was completely bored with.  When I started taking down the Christmas decorations, I wanted to put something back into each of these places. 

We'll start with the console table.  Sorry about the reflection in the picture glass--I don't have any windows in the actual living room, so it can be rather dark in the evenings without the overhead lights on!  This is the simplest vignette--some red-and-clear candleholders I got for Christmas, with some short red pillar candles.  There is apparently no air circulation against this particular wall, because the flames stand perfectly still!  I even had a friend ask if they were real!

The flames of the candles on the coffee table, on the other hand, dance quite merrily.  (Apparently the use of the word "vignette" is giving me a taste for vintage verbiage tonight.)  I had just purchased the mercury glass pillar and taper holders on clearance at Target.  (Unfortunately, I didn't think to get a short, fat taper, so the taper holder is currently empty.  It's pretty, though!)  They add some height to the arrangement.  The base is some polyester-and-glitter fake snow from Michael's, also purchased on post-Christmas clearance.  The rest of the candles are just red and white pillars and votives I've had for a while.  One narrow pillar candle is actually standing in a votive cup--it was just the right size!  Some of the normal-sized pillars are on glass or silver plates--you can just see the corner of a silver snowflake-shaped one under the white pillar at the center of the photo.  Others, such as the tall red one that I'm fairly certain will neither overflow its "banks" nor melt to table level, are simply standing on their own.  (I might be more cautious about doing this if the main surface of the table were not easily-cleanable glass.) 

Finally, the bookcase.  Again, this photo was taken at night with artificial lighting, so I apologize for the coloring.  I'm also not certain this is how the arrangement will stay, but here's how things stand at the moment. 

I kept the inkwell taper holders, photo, and teacup on the top shelf, and just added some crystal taper holders.  These candles, of course, will not be getting burned!  On the next shelf, I kept the photos and added a music box (actually a Christmas decoration, but it doesn't scream "Christmas" unless you wind it up) and some of the extra snow.  The next row is pretty much the same as it was at Christmas, just with the obviously Christmasy music boxes packed away, and the bottom shelf is, I believe, the same as it was at Christmas--a red lantern, a red metal sign, and part of my violin-angel collection.  I think the whole thing looks nice and wintery, and will be just fine for Valentine's day next month, as well!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Some January Before-And-Afters

On Martin Luther King Day, the weather was beautiful and I had the day off from work. I did sleep in, but then I did the Responsible Domestic Goddess thing and scrubbed my siding with bleach water. Some parts didn't really need it at all, but others, like the north-facing wall shown here, were in desperate need of washing.

Then, this afternoon (the weather is still gorgeous), I had both time and motivation to do something about my front walkway. As you can see from this photo, many of the stones are obscured or completely hidden by a lethal combination of the gravel that the stones are supposed to be resting in, the oak leaves that are beginning to fall, and this year's bumper crop of acorns.

Now, this is absolutely not meant to be a permanent fix. Sometime this summer (you folks hold me to this, now), I plan to dig out all the dirt/gravel mix, level the area so it doesn't slope towards the porch, put in some mulch (much less dangerous when mixed with spherical acorns), and lay the big rocks in a logical, easily-walked path. Today, however, I was just digging out the rocks and laying them in an easily-walked path.

I used a garden rake and a little three-pronged hand cultivator to lever the rocks out of the dirt and to somewhat level the ground. Then I started with the big rocks, shuffling each one into the dirt and stepping on all the sides and corners to be sure they wouldn't tip. If they did tip, I just shoveled some dirt/gravel/leaves/acorns underneath until they were very stable. I tried to keep them at easily-paced distances from each other, so I wouldn't have to hop from oddly-placed stone to oddly-placed stone as I've done in the past (when I didn't just ignore the rocks and track the gravel into the house).

When I finished, I raked the extra dirt mixture over everything to fill in, then swept the tops of the rocks clean.

I think this will work until I can spend a whole weekend on a more permanent solution!
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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pinterest is Useful!

First, my apologies for not posting anything for the past three weeks.  But now...behold--Pinterest has actually proven to be useful in my life, not just a time-sucker!  I'd been looking for black, heeled mary janes (preferably with a bit of an oxford look) to replace mine that I've literally worn to death.  (I had them re-heeled, but now the rubber sole has a hole in it.  Sad.)  I wore them to work, I wore them salsa dancing, I wore them with dresses, and I wore them with jeans.  I had looked everywhere, but just couldn't find anything that I loved.  Then, earlier this week, I was goofing around on Pinterest, looking at someone's board full of shoes.  Suddenly, I saw these! When I clicked on them, expecting them to be something rather expensive, I discovered they were from Payless. 

Posted by Picasa you like my new shoes?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Script Scarf

I found the idea to make a scarf with writing on it on Pinterest, here.  I found scarves in different colors to suit different friends, then wrote on them with black and gray fabric pens.  I used different quotes, again to suit different friends.

Here, I wrote a Scripture passage with the gray pen, then wrote a key phrase over the top in black. 

The most difficult part was holding the fabric taut so it didn't shift while writing on it.  On the second scarf I used my ironing board as my writing surface, and the fabric of the ironing board cover was perfect for holding the fabric still!

I was somewhat disappointed in how it wound up looking all laid out, probably because I'm not that great at writing big, and the paint pens didn't seem terribly "paint-y."  However, all bunched up, like you typically wear scarves, it looks really cool.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Necklaces and Not-Wreaths

I made some necklaces for Christmas presents...
And, for my mom, I made some chair-back wreaths for her dining room chairs.  Except they're not really wreaths.  I guess they're more chair-back flowers.  I glued a hydrangea head to some hydrangea leaves, then added a pin back.

These are pinned to dark burgundy ribbons knotted around the chair backs.  It looks pretty nice, and it will be good for any time of year!  I'm adding some ribbon loops of different colors for each different season as a finishing touch.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of them at my parents' house!

UFO To the Rescue!

My dad's side of the family always gets together on Christmas Eve for dinner and an ornament exchange, done White Elephant/Yankee Swap/Dirty Santa style. I'd gotten two beautiful little bird ornaments from World Market, only to drop one on a tile floor the day before Christmas Eve. Well, I'm not crazy enough to want to go shopping at that point in the season, but I did want to have more than just one tiny ornament.

UnFinished Object stash to the rescue! I had a few ornaments I'd started a few years ago but never finished, so I just finished one, and had a very nice replacement ornament at the last minute. I know it's now after Christmas, but in case any of you are ever in a similar situation, here's what you do.

1) Make yo-yos out of gold (or whatever color) lame' (foil) fabric. I did all these the hard way, but they now have yo-yo makers that make this part a lot easier.
2) Glue the yo-yos to a styrofoam ball. You may have to squish some of them to make them all fit nicely, but that's pretty easy to do.
3) Glue pearl beads to the center of each yo-yo, as well as to any spots where the styrofoam shows, such as the intersectionswhere three yo-yos come together.
4) Glue a ribbon hanger to the top.

That's it! I used hot glue for everything, so it was pretty quick to put together.

I'll post more about what I did over the Christmas holidays as I have the chance.
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