Letter Magnets

We have officially started redecorating our boys’ room by adding some pops of sunny yellow, including this magnet board.

I love the magnet board, but not the ugly plastic letters.  Fortunately, I found this great tutorial at Nice Girl Notes detailing how to create pretty magnet letters.  What a fantastic (and cheap!) idea!  Using the tutorial as my starting point, I headed off to Hobby Lobby to buy my supplies.

At Hobby Lobby, I found 2 inch round wooden discs for $3.99 per pack of 22.  I chose to use plain green and aqua acrylic paints, rather than spray painting my circles.  I bought 44 discs and decided to make 3 of each vowel, so I removed 15.  Then, I painted the remaining discs aqua on all sides.  The paint dries quickly, so I applied another coat. 

I knew I wanted to incorporate both green and blue, so I made the vowels green, figuring the boys would learn their vowels easier if they were different.  After painting the aqua, I mixed up my green.  I couldn’t find the exact green I had in mind, so I added some white to get the right color.  Once I had my color, I painted all sides of the 15 reserved discs green. 

The tutorial used rub-on transfer letters, but I couldn’t find a font I liked.  Yes, I am very picky.  Instead, I used a pencil to draw the letters, keeping them roughly the same size.  Then, using chocolate-brown paint and a fine tipped brush, I traced over my penciled lines. 

I didn’t have time to look for magnet strips while at Hobby Lobby, so Ben picked up a roll of adhesive-backed magnet from Lowe’s.  Simply cut the roll into 3/4 inch or so pieces, remove the backing and place on the back, pressing firmly to attach.  I considered using Gorilla glue, but the adhesive seems to stick pretty well, so I’ll glue if any magnets fall off. 

Vincent started playing with his new magnets, but quickly scuffed them up.  Luckily, I had a jar of glossy Mod Podge on hand, so I quickly gave the front side of each magnet two coats.  Worked like a charm.

Don’t the new magnets look so much better than the plastic ones?  Better than the looks, this project was cheap and easy-just the way I like ’em.  Even better?  Vincent loves to play with them. 

This is not in the photos, but we had a toy mail box from Target’s dollar department that I glued magnets to.  It’s the perfect holder for the magnets!

Terrific Terrarium

To make a simple terrarium, find or buy pretty rocks, moss and a pretty, lidded jar.  Place the rocks (I bought mine from Michael’s) at the bottom.  Then add moss (we had some growing on our patio) on top, making it somewhat level.  Simple as that.  If you want to add some animal friends, continue reading.

I started out with little birds, inspired by these.  I used polymer clay to make the little guys.  I softened the clay before free forming my animals.  I decided to make birds, eggs, hedgehogs, and a gnome.

Then, I cut 2 inches of wire, folded it in half and twisted the ends together.  Insert the wire into our clay critter, but do not go completely through.

Follow the baking instructions on the package.  Let your dudes cool.  Now you’re ready to start painting.  I used acrylic paints from Michael’s and gave the guys a few base coats of color.  Add as much or as little detail as you’d like and let them dry.

Here are some of my birds.  I added eyes, wings and dipped their beaks in orange to add more color.

I thought I finished with my terrarium, but wanted to add some height.

So, I made a wire nest by coiling wire around.  Then, I needed a tree – do you see the “If you give a mouse a cookie” tendency I have?  To make a tree, I took a dead branch from our tree and snipped it to fit.  To attach the nest to the tree, uncoil the bird base.  Insert the bird wires through the nest and twist around the branch.  Push the tree firmly into the moss.  Add the rest of your critters and admire.

I love the colors and interest the animals add.  Aren’t they cute?

And, it’s cute from above!

I know it’s kitschy, but I think it’s charming and cute.  AND, it should be one plant I can’t kill!  Bonus!  So, what house plants do you like?  Any black thumb people out there?  I’d love to know what plants you’ve had luck keeping alive.

Weekend Painting: Chevron Rug

As if painting a magnet board and making a piece of art wasn’t enough, I decided this was the perfect weekend to start mission rug redo.  I bought a jute rug from a local thrift store recently and decided this would be the perfect chance to paint a rug.  Martha Stewart did a segment on painting stripes on a sisal rug, so I used that as a starting point.

First, I created a template to use as a guide for my design.  Starting in the dead center of the rug, I used painters tape to mask off a chevron design, placing my template down and taping around it.  I also made a second template to use as a spacing guide.  After I had my design completely taped off, I used the handle end of a screwdriver to rub the edge of the tape down.

I sent Ben off to the hardware store to get a quart of white oil based paint.  He came back with this:

I started by ‘pouncing’ along the taped lines, just like stencling, to prevent the paint from seeping under the tape.  Then Ev started crying, so I took a break to feed him.  I let my first area of paint dry and peeled back part of the tape to check my lines.

Happily, the paint didn’t bleed under!  So, I painted, and painted, and painted.

Then, I ran out of paint, so I bought a gallon.  I returned home, full gallon in hand and painted some more.  This was by no means a speedy process.  It took about 4 hours to get everything painted.  I let everything dry for 24 hours before removing the tape.  Definitely do this outside, as the dry paint flakes off the tape, making one big mess.

I like the bold pattern.  I think it’s just what this room needed.

In all honesty, I love the look of the painted rug, but not the feel. The paint does dry crunchy, BUT, a jute rug is never squishy and cushy, so it’s not that different than the unpainted rug.  This would be much better in an outdoor setting, like a doormat or ourdoor living area.  Until I can find a plush rug I can afford, this will stay in the boys’ room.  I do think it will make an appearance outside at a later date.

Craft Day

It has been unbearably hot the past few weeks.  By no means am I an outdoors kind of girl, so, we have worked on a few craft projects lately. 

I recently saw a great pantry overhaul that I fell in love with.  Especially the patterned walls.  To bring some life and pattern to our entertainment center, I painted the same quatrefoil pattern on a magazine file.  I simply printed the stencil and used a xacto knife to cut it out.  Then, I traced the pattern the painted file and filled it in.  It took some time, but I think it adds much-needed life to the space.

I have meant to make a terrarium for months now, and finally got around to it.  We had some moss growing on our back patio, so I dug it up.  I had a few apothecary jars already, so I placed a few rocks in the bottom and added my moss.  Because no terrarium is complete with out small critters, I bought some polymer clay.  Then I shaped the clay into birds and a squirrel and inserted wire in the base.  Following the instructions, I baked for my animals for 20 minutes and let them dry.  Now for the fun part, painting.  To add color, I used plain acrylic paints from Michael’s.  After a few base coats, I was ready to start adding details.  Add a few eyes, wings, beaks and noses and I had a set of animals for my terrarium.

I’ll post pictures of the terrariums soon, but I still have a few things to finish.

I hope to change out some items in our boys’ room to add some color.  To start things off, I updated Ev’s bird mobile.  I reused the light blue birds, but made new green and yellow birds to give it a new look.   

You can easily make your own bird mobile; go here for a tutorial.  Have you done any craft projects recently?

How To: Add a Personal Touch

I have already given some ideas on how to add a personal touch to framed photos, and now I have some ideas to add personal touches throughout the home.

1.  Add monograms or your family name.  Monograms are a quick and inexpensive way to make a room your own.  Michael’s and Hobby Lobby are great places to look.  The letters on the picture rail hail from Hobby Lobby and cost $9.99 each. 

I had some scrap fabric lying around, so I made custom monogrammed pillow covers for each of our boys.  You can’t really tell, but the painting in the photo above has their monograms, too.  If you don’t want to spend $10 on monograms, craft stores also have cheaper MDF and paper mache versions, like the ones in my office. 

Just add a few coats of paint and you’ve got a custom art piece.  We also have a few monograms in our living room.  I recently picked up some Power Ball-esuqe monograms from Pier 1.

You could also use monogram hooks in an entryway or bathroom to keep each family member’s items separated. 

2.  Choose prints and art with personal meaning.  I also create custom prints if I am in need of a personal touch. 

I love this bird print we have in our entry way because it shows our little family, wedding date, names and the colors are specifically coördinated to our room. 

Another easy DIY project to inject a little more of you into your space are custom silhouettes.  When I make our silhouettes, I take photos of each person in complete profile.  Kids can be much more difficult, but with digital cameras, just keep taking pictures and eventually something will work.  Then I open my photos in Photoshop and trace the outlines.  Then I print right on to my colored cardstock and cut them out.  Simply tape the silhouette onto another piece of cardstock and frame. 

Don’t limit yourself to silhouettes of your family.  The process is the same for making anything, so choose your favorite flower, tree, whatever and make another design.

Choose prints that have a meaning to you, not just something that looks pretty.  Again, I make my own prints, but my I Love You This Much print began as something I say to my boys.  Other typographic prints could look great, too.  Choose a favorite quote, song lyric or phrase.  Translate a phrase to another language for a less obvious, but still meaningful print, like the Je T’Aime (I love you in French) print above.   A great place to start your search is Etsy because you can talk to the seller and ask to have something customized. 

3.  Spruce up a box store item.  Don’t be afraid to spray paint something to take it from the big box store look to fit your home.  Spray paint frames, sculptures or figurines, even furniture.  It will definitely become more personal with little time, effort and money.