And then they…

the things we do to live a better life.

Archive for the category “Decorating”

Sarah Guthu – a new painting

I had a friend in high school who was extremely talented, even back then. We spent hours in the theater at school creating sets, listening to music, and painting.  My most favorite memory of Sarah is when we were doing Once Upon a Mattress and she was tasked with painting a huge sheet of plywood, that was supposed to look like a constellation of a dragon, that would be hung in the wizard’s chambers.  I ended up helping her on it quite a bit, and it was amazing.  It ended up being almost a pointillism style dragon.  Sadly, for some reason (maybe she remembers), the director didn’t use it in the staging.  It should have been used.  I still remember the hours spent making little dots on a huge black board, having great conversations with a great friend.

Since graduation I’m not sure if I’ve even seen her, but I’ve kept up with her on Facebook, and on her beautiful blog.  Sarah is the kind of person who, I’m convinced, has more than 24 hours in her day.  She is always posting about her creative endeavors, culinary adventures, academic pursuits, and so much more.  I don’t know how she does so much, but however she does it, and whatever she does, it is sure to be inspiring.  A couple years ago she posted about making sugar plums, and I commented that I didn’t know they were actual things (I thought they were just fairy/ballet related ideas), and she generously and graciously sent me a box to try.  That’s just the kind of person she is – the best kind of person.

I have been eying her paintings for years.  She has a really interesting, original style.  Just a couple months ago, she started selling prints of her paintings on Society6.   I decided that I needed a print, and luckily she posted one of my favorites right around my birthday.Screenshot (2)

“Breath” has always intrigued me.  I love the motion in the girl’s pose.  I love the colors.  I love the mystery.  Since I hung it in my house, I’ve been trying to figure out the story in the painting.  It’s a little creepy, but really, truly beautiful.  When I asked Alma who the girl was, she said, “Mommy.”  I love this, because part of why I chose this painting is because it reminded me of how I picture both of my daughters looking someday.  The girl in the painting looks like she’s on an adventure, and I hope for many adventures for my girls.

And Then They - Breath by Sarah Guthu

We hung it over our front table, in the living room.  I love that, while a print, it is also a great piece of art.  Not just a poster or something.  Having real art makes me feel fancy (this is making me think that I should do posts about all our art, because looking around the house, I’m realizing that we actually have a lot of original, beautiful artwork!).

Breath Closeup

(the weird spots are glares from the glass in the frame, not part of the painting…)

So, if you’re looking for some creative inspiration, check out Sarah’s blog.  And if you’re looking for some beautiful art for your home, check out her Society6 shop.  AND, if you’re looking for an original, one-of-a-kind dress for a little lady in your life, look for her soon to come Etsy shop of literary inspired children clothes (areyoukiddingme?).

Thanks, Sarah, for your wonderful art, your incredible spirit, your constant inspiration, and for the memories.

Sewing – How I Got Started, Part 1

If you are thinking about starting a project, perhaps your first one, here’s a piece of advice.  You won’t be able to screw it up as much as you think you will.  Before my first project, I was terrified that if I mess it up, it would be utterly ruined and a waste of money and time.  I quickly learned that, yes, I would screw up.  Again and again, but it is actually very easy to fix mistakes when sewing.  Just tear about the seams, and start again.

Before I was pregnant with Alma, I had never really sewn anything.  As a child, I played around and made a few little thingies, then in home-ec in middle school I made and awesome lip shaped pillow.  Other than that, I had never used a sewing machine.

The summer before I had Alma, the nesting kicked in and I wanted to make her a quilt.  I didn’t really know how to start, but I wanted to do something easy.  I came up with the idea of doing a gradient rainbow quilt, so I went to the fabric store and bought 16 pieces of fabric in a rainbow of colors.

Then I did some math and figured out how big I wanted the quilt to be.  I wanted the sizes of each strip to vary, so I just cut out 1, 2, and 3 inch pieces of each color.  Once I had all the pieces cut out, I lined them up on my floor and arranged it so the colors would overlap horizontally through the quilt.

I then sewed 12 vertical strips with one piece of each color in each strip. This seemed pretty easy, because the pieces were only 4 inches wide, leaving not a lot of room to mess up.

Then I got scared.  I had to attach each strip to the next, which meant I would be sewing two long strips together using a continuous stitch.  This felt like a lot of ways I could mess up.  As a beginning sew-er I felt like something would go wrong for sure and everything would be ruined.  I didn’t think I’d be able to sew a straight line for such a long distance.  I probably left the strips sitting for a couple weeks before I built up the courage to attempt my long lines.

I finally got brave and sewed two strips together.  It was quick, and easy!  I was amazed!  I kept going, and soon I had a complete quilt top, and I was really happy!

Then came the next scary part – the actual quilting.  I got my backing, my batting and my quilt, sandwiched it all together and found some good tutorials online.  I thought I would do a straight line down the middle of each strip, but quickly found that a wavy line would be much easier, and actually kind of cute.  I did 12 wavy lines and all of a sudden, I had a quilt!

Then the scary task of adding a binding!  I found this wonderful tutorial and basically did what it said.  The only thing I did differently was machine sewing it on, instead of hand binding the front.  Since it was for a baby, I knew it would be washed a lot, so I wanted it to be really secure.

Holy cow, I had just made a quilt!  I was basically a super hero in my mind.  I had come up with an idea, done math, sewn a bunch (192!) of pieces of fabric together, and – poof! – heirloom!

And Then They - My first quilt - a great beginner pattern and tutorialI basically took it (and still take all my sewing projects) one step at a time.  I gave myself permission to make mistakes.  I took breaks, short and long, along the way.

What are some projects you’ve been wanting to try, but have been too scared to take the first step?

January Colorful Mantel (because the outside has no colors)

Every year this happens.  The fog descends and it just hangs out.  I’m an Oregon girl through-and-through.  I love the rain.  I love the crazy days that are rainy, sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, and rainy all in the span of an hour.  I do not, however, enjoy the fog.  It’s depressing.  I would take an overcast day over a foggy day no question.  There’s something awful and claustrophobic about not being able to see the house across the street.

So…. I decided to brighten up my living room by creating a colorful mantel!  I pretty much just grabbed everything around that is colorful, threw it on the mantel, moved things around until I liked what I saw and called it good.  Easy-peasy.

All the Things

Obviously the lighting is bad for photos, since there isn’t a whole lot of natural light coming through the windows.

January Mantle

Here’s my favorite part.  A corn candle that my friend Kelsey gave us.  She’s from Iowa, so it’s the real day.  Something of such distinction clearly needs a decorative glass case.

Corn in a Dome

Here’s a question for you.  I’ve been toying with the idea of taking out the old wood stove, painting the bricks, sewing a cushion, and adding wood to the fireplace.  Some examples of this can be found on this Pinterest board I have.  I don’t want to paint the wood paneling because I love it and how cozy it feels.  Do you think it would look good to paint the brick white?

Here’s another photo that shows more of the fireplace (Alma is standing on bricks with red tiles):

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Happy Birthday Banner

Birthday BannerI have been meaning to make a Happy Birthday banner for years.  Growing up, we had a shiny paper banner that my mom always put up over the fireplace for our birthdays.  It felt really special.  Back in my scrapbooking days I meant to make one out of cute papers.  Now that I’m in my sewing days, I decided to make one out of felt.  Finally!

Happy CloseupIf you want to order one of your own, I have them available on my Etsy shop: H&A Baby!

Chalkboard Car Table For Alma

Chalkboard Table for Cars - And Then TheyOne of the things we did for Alma’s second birthday was make her a fun chalkboard table for her cars.

This project actually started last summer and went through a few different changes along the way.  It started with this crazy dirt-and-rock-filled-brick-planter in our sunroom:

Before andthentheyThis planter has been annoying me since we moved in 3 years ago.  I’ve never known what to do with it.  Since our bunny lives in the sunroom, I couldn’t just plant some plants in it – he would eat them.  For a while he liked to dig in the box, but that ended up making a huge mess.  The dirt in the planter is a really fine dust that coats the whole room when dug up.  Add a curious toddler and the sunroom was never clean.

My mom actually suggested that we do something with the planter.  I think I had just given up at this point.  Her first idea was to dig out all the dirt and fill it with something more fun (and less dirty) to play with.  When she came over and started digging, she realized how horrible the dirt was after inhaling the super-fine dust.  We started brainstorming again.  The next idea was to cover it with a board and paint a scene on it for Alma’s cars.  You know those old carpets that have the town and roads on them?  That idea, but in paint.  After agreeing that this was the perfect idea, I thought it would be even cooler to just use chalkboard paint.  I wanted the girls to be able to create their own towns, or whatever, not just be stuck with the town I painted for them.  Imagination and creativity are always encouraged here!

Jesse and my mom went and bought all the supplies, and Jesse quickly built the board using plywood and quarter-round strips.  We countersunk the nails, and filled the holes with spackle so everything would be smooth.  Then the board sat on the planter for a couple months.

Finally, I decided Alma’s birthday was the perfect reason to finish this project, so I sanded everything down and started priming the board.

Priming andthentheyI used two coats of primer, then sanded it all down again.  I wanted to make sure the wood was really sealed because the chalkboard paint is expensive and I didn’t want to waste it by having it soak into the wood.  Also, the directions say to prime and sand bare wood.

Then came 3 or 4 thin coats of the chalkboard paint.  I can’t remember, but I’m pretty sure I did 4.  I wanted smooth, even coverage, so I did really nice, thin coats.  Below you see what it looked like halfway through the second coat.

Painting andthenthey

Then back out to the sunroom to cure for a few days.  I already liked how it looked so much!  No more dirt!

Installed andthenthey

I followed the directions on the can to prepare the chalkboard by rubbing the side of a piece of chalk all over the whole thing and wiping off with a dry cloth.  Our original idea was to attach the whole thing to the wall, but I sort of love how I can tip it up and brush the chalk dust into the dirt.  We might need to attach it if Alma or Harriet start lifting it up all the time, but it’s pretty heavy and I don’t think they know it opens.

Happy Birthday andthentheyI’m not sure who will like it more, me, or Alma.  I had a lot of fun writing a birthday message, and drawing a little road for her new cars.  I’m excited to work on my chalkboard-writing skills.

Playing andthentheyAlma definitely does love it, though!  She seems to like the drawing part more than the car part these days, but I’m sure she’ll appreciate that it is a fun, versatile toy out in the sunroom.  I also have a ton of the paint leftover, so I’m already thinking about what else could use some creativity.  Chalkboard all the things!  Uh oh….

ps – I am linking up with a link party on I Heart Nap Time!

Christmas Tree Hunting

It is becoming a tradition to go cut down our own Christmas tree.  I like this for a few reasons.  First, it’s fun to get out in the middle of a muddy field, look for the perfect tree, and find it.  Second, I love that Jesse can show off his man-skills by cutting down the tree.  Third, we like trees that are little more sparse so there’s room to hang the ornaments, and it’s often hard to find these at Christmas tree lots.

Last year we with with my dad and step-mom and had quite an adventure (including our trailer un-hitching from the tractor and the tractor driver not noticing).  This year we went with my mom and step-dad and had a less eventful, but just-as-fun time.

This year we went to the bargain field (which is actually the same field we found our full-price tree in last year, just way more picked over this year (obviously)) and found my favorite tree we’ve ever had.IMG_8008a

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New Nursery and Alma’s New Room

It’s been a long time since I’ve done anything on this blog…  Maybe blogging just isn’t me.  I really should.  Maybe I will get better when I have this next wee one.  probably not…

Anyway, we’ve been doing some work around the house to get ready for Baby Girl #2 (though I’m starting to panic that it’s really a boy and I’m not going to be ready for that… even though the ultrasound tech said she was 99.9% it’s a girl… and it didn’t matter to me last time and we didn’t even find out then…another story…).

Without further ado:

Baby’s Nursery (to see what it looked like before, click here.)

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And Alma’s new room.  I don’t think I have any photos of this room before.  It was a guest room/ TV room.

I had a lot of fun with this room.  I hand-drew and hand-painted her world map, had fun with ombre on the dresser and ALMA letters.  I was going to do an ombre dye on the curtains, but chickened out – I am so glad I chickened out – in the end I love the dramatic white curtains with the coralish ties.  Alma really loves her new room!

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Baby’s Nursery


Our nursery.  I really love how it all turned out.

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Finally, a place to hang our hats

We are in the process of buying a house right now.  It is a very exciting and stressful time as inspections, negotiations and repairs happen.

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

I think that Fall is the perfect time to buy a home because my nest instincts are in overdrive already.  I always want to decorate and build a cozy little nest for our tiny little two person family.

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