Rusty lettuce thrown out.
Grocery shopping done.
DIY project delegated to husband.
The sun is shining.
Thank you, God.
I would say that 99% of the time, I’m a pretty upbeat person. Okay, maybe it’s like 85%. But I do have a darker side.
Apparently, all it takes is a little dreary, overcast weather for that dark side to come pouring out.
“This is what depression looks like.”
Empty toy shelves.
My crappy photo skills speak for themselves, but you can imagine the funky smell coming from the new furnace for added ambiance.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the dubious gloom.
I think I must have a Vitamin D deficiency. Maybe I need a supplement. Or lunch.
I wonder how much Vitamin D is in rusty lettuce.
I had to share a giveaway going on at The Old Painted Cottage — not only because its one of my favorite design sites but also because I am in love with the prize. Check out these fantastic Ruffled Burlap Table Runners:
I love the contrast of harsh burlap sculpted into a soft, feminine ruffle. Unity of opposites.
To participate in the giveaway, visit The Old Painted Cottage and leave a comment.
Thanks to everyone who entered the Stamp Tram Giveaway! The winners are…
The comments left made my week and I appreciate you all for visiting. I hope you’ll come back often. Congratulations to:
Each of you will receive one free Custom Stamp Design, courtesy of yours truly. Claim your prize by sending me an email and I will reply with a questionnaire so we can hone in on your custom design.
Thanks for participating!
Something about my front door seems to warrant decoration.
I didn’t have this problem in the old house. Or maybe I just never noticed it. My old door was completely blank 11 months a year, with just one lonely wreath thrown up for the Christmas season. And it never bothered me one bit.
But when I took the Christmas decorations down this year, the sight of my naked front door depressed me, so I made a Valentine’s wreath and that held me for several weeks. Now that St. Patrick’s Day is in the offing, I thought an appropriate decoration was in order.
Ugh. Maybe not.
It seems that St. Patrick was the patron saint of tacky holiday decorations. I made a fabric wreath and was hoping to find some store-bought accoutrement, but…
If not for tinsel, glitter, green carnations or foil shamrocks, St. Pat’s Day decor does not exist. So I magicked up a burlap “shamrock” and tried to pretend that made this wreath festive enough.
And on the subject, I should note that shamrocks should feature three — not four — leaves. Because St. Patrick used the shamrock as an illustration when explaining the Trinity. Which embodies three persons, you know. So a shamrock with four leaves contradicts the entire significance of the illustration.
Four-leaved shamrocks annoy me.
But I have a soft place in my heart for St. Patrick. So much so that I’d planned to write the screenplay for a St. Patrick biopic. I read a fantastic biography by Philip Freeman several years ago with just that goal in mind — and then stalled out only because the book would so good, my script would have been completely derivative and I’d have been sued within an inch of my life. So until I get a chance to contact the author and convince him to sell me adaptive rights for $1.00, that project’s on hold.
[Whatever will I do? Oh yeah. I guess I'll have to go back to working on one of the other 6,465,229 partly-written screenplays in my head.]
Anyway, screenplay or no, the book is filled with details of Patrick’s amazing life that I would never have intuited from the drunkenness, carbo-load foods and tacky foil shamrocks that proliferate in his honor on this day each year. Maybe I’m the only person who didn’t know these bits of trivia, but I’ll plead my status as only distantly Irish and not even slightly Catholic as the cause of my ignorance.
For instance, (Caution: all trivia lifted from memory from Freeman’s book) Patrick of Ireland wasn’t from Ireland. He was — irony of ironies — British and from a wealthy family.
As a teenager, he as kidnapped by slave traders and taken to Ireland where he was sold into slavery.
He lived as a slave, working as a shepherd, for six years before having a vision in which God told him to escape. So he did.
Years later, after becoming a priest, he returned to Ireland to minister to the pagans.
Which leads to my interest in writing a screenplay about his life: What makes an escaped slave return to the land of his enslavement to help the people who’d robbed him of his freedom to begin with?
The kind of person I’d like to see a movie about, that’s who.
Okay, major rabbit trail. And you thought this post was going to be about my wreath didn’t you? Are you new here?
“Knowing you is like going into the jungle. I never know what I’m going to find, and I’m real scared.” 1
Yep, that’s me in a nutshell.
[UPDATE: I feel I should clarify, my very gentlemanly husband does not go around calling women names or referring to their tattoos. The only time this phrase ever comes up is when we're watching Cars. For the 6,492nd time.]
My husband has certain words and phrases that he has a hard time saying — which is not at all unusual, I realize. But it strikes me as funny that he’s consistent — the same words seem to get mangled.
So instead of referring to a woman’s lower back tattoo as a “tramp stamp,” he transposes.
It becomes the “stamp tramp.”
This week, I guess that’s me.
I’ve always loved those extra-large address stamps that are so popular these days, but I was never really into the idea of shelling out $60 for something that wasn’t 100% custom. None of the designs available were very “me,” and for that amount of money, I figured I should at least get a stamp that is “me.”
So I designed my own:
[No, that's not my real address. Thank you, Photoshop.]
I use Adobe Illustrator but most any design program that allows you to save your design as JPEG, GIF or PNG file will do. Once you’ve completed the design, search the internet for “custom rubber stamps” and then send your design to the stamp manufacturer of your choice.
A couple of design tips:
Most stamp manufacturers will offer art mounted stamps (the kind used with a stamp pad) of virtually any size. However, if you prefer a self-inking stamp like the one pictured above, I’ve listed some brands and model numbers below to help you in your search:
1 5/8″ SQUARE:
1 5/8″ ROUND:
I’ll be having a booth at the our local Spring Market in April and planned on selling, among other fun things, custom address stamps. However, I feel like I should have more than one example of my designs so people can see the options available. But since these will be custom stamps, I don’t want to waste my time designing eight different versions for “Jane Doe” or “Sally Smith” of Anytown, USA.
Winner receives one Custom Design suitable for an address stamp. You may choose your design shape:
I will work with you to create a design that fits your style and personality, drawing from 1,500+ fonts and hundreds of graphic icons. Once complete, I will send you JPEG, PNG and GIF files of your design, for your unlimited, royalty-free use. As in, if you decide to tattoo the design on your lower back, you don’t owe me a dime.
Note: This giveaway includes only the design, not the stamp itself. (My blog is not one of those nifty, ad-supported ones and my hubby would freak. And then disconnect my computer.) However, if you would like to purchase a stamp, you can send the digital artwork to any reputable stamp company or I can order one for you at cost.
In a traditional giveaway, your odds of winning go down as the number of entries goes up. Which leaves you little incentive to invite your friends to enter. I thought I’d up the ante.
So go forth and multiply.
Leave a comment describing your monogram style. Would yours be Traditional? Modern? Retro? Cutesy? Something else? (I won’t hold you to that description if you win, so don’t panic.)
One entry per person, please. Don’t forget: if you’re commenting anonymously, include an email address so I can notify you if you win.
Giveaway will close March 17th at 9:00 AM (CST). Winners will be selected by random drawing.
COMMENTS CLOSED. THANKS TO THOSE WHO ENTERED! I’ll announce winners soon.
I hope this will count as an exception to the rule that a sequel is never as good as the original.
I found these yellow silk pillow slips in the bargain bin at Restoration Hardware a good seven or eight years ago. Of course, after I paid for two Restoration Hardware down pillow forms to fill them, the word “bargain” flew right out the window. But I had job back then.
I liked them until we moved into our current home and I learned that yellow is not a color I am friends with. Not to mention that the silk pillow slips now have a number of frayed spots, thanks to the little princes and their tendency to treat throw pillows with all the courtesy one might expect from a herd of Tasmanian devils.
The covers have been exiled to the garage sale bin. But I have these two pricey, naked down pillow forms.
And unbleached muslin, lest we forget.
I tried a freezer paper stencil of a monogram on this version, instead of the grain-sack-inspired stripes. The stencil was a bit difficult to apply to the fabric because the design was pretty intricate but otherwise worked well. I opted to forgo the acrylic this time and buy actual fabric paint, in hopes of finding something that would dry with a softer texture and fade less in the wash.
I made the unfortunate choice to try the Simply Spray fabric spray paint, about which I can only invoke Holly Golightly and say: “Quel disaster.” This stuff is more like spray dye and should not be used for any application in which precision is required. It made a huge, watery mess that bled all over the fabric and completely negated the purpose of a stencil in the first place. Luckily, I had been unusually cautious (for me) and decide to experiment with a sample first, so my painstakingly-applied freezer paper monogram wasn’t ruined in the testing phase.
Perhaps intuiting the Simply Spray debacle, I’d also bought a bottle of Tulip Soft Fabric Paint. Much better. It’s slightly creamier than acrylic going on but dries thinner and with a very nice, soft matte finish.
As though all that weren’t enough, I decided to take my pillow-making to new heights (lows?) by finishing the monogram pillows with welt cord around the edges. I used this tutorial as a basic guide and winged it until I was pleased with the result.
[You'll have to excuse the chairs. Yet another casualty of my style evolution. I wish with all my heart I'd discovered the wisdom of neutral upholstery — and child-friendly fabrics — before I purchased these years ago, but alas, my approach to design was all backwards. One of these days, I'll manage to slipcover, reupholster or replace them with something having an aesthetic less like a punch in the eye.]
This should be the last of the “Faux Pillow” series for a while. Though my invention has not been exhausted, the same cannot be said for my stock of unbleached muslin.
There are just certain things in life for which there are no substitutes.
100% Cashmere. The Rolling Stones. Chick-fil-a. Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara.
Don’t get me wrong. Ninety-five percent of the time, a generic store brand is just as good as the original. But for that other little five percent, no dice. My rule of thumb? If you call the product by a brand name, buy the brand name product.
Kleenex. Jello. Oreos.
Seriously, can you imagine asking someone to run into the store and buy you some “chocolate sandwich cookies”?
That is just wrong.
But then there are those rare and happy moments when you actually find a just-as-good-as-the-original substitute for the real thing.
I adore linens sewn from old grain sacks. White Flower Farmhouse has a beautiful selection and, once again, I find myself grateful they are located in New York State. And I try to forget they sell online. I still have a mortgage to pay.
So imagine my delight when I found this post detailing how to create your own faux version of the grain sack pillow. I had to give them a whirl.
VERDICT: They were surprisingly simple to make and I was delighted with how they turned out.
I did a bit of improvisation. Rather than using a fabric marker, I chose a stencil brush and ordinary black acrylic paint. I wanted more and thinner lines on my pillows, so I used my rotary cutter and cutting mat to slice very narrow lengths (1/8″ and 1/4″ widths) of blue painters tape and applied them to the fabric at appropriate widths using a t-square. Although I tried using the clear packing tape at first, the painters tape is much easier to see when you’re working late at night in a dimly-lit dining room…
I may still wash the pillow covers to age the stripes a little bit. I’m also planning on experimenting with tea-staining so I can make more pillows and still vary the look so it doesn’t seem monotonous.
Moment of truth: Are they really as good as the authentic grain sacks?
No. But for the price, I’m willing to make the compromise.
Corny title? Check.
Pictures of marginal photographic quality? Check.
The author reveling in yet more chugly thrift store finds? Check!
A veritable Raising Camelot trifecta. And it’s not even your birthday.
Today’s contestant is this salute to “hunter chic” decor, a drabulous metal tray depicting a pair of pheasants. All for the rock-bottom price of $1.00 plus tax.
[Please excuse my roll of painter's tape. A photo stylist could probably teach me a thing or ten, but the truth is, I just didn't want to walk back upstairs to get an easel. I'm not incompetent. Just lazy. NOTE: This will be a recurring theme of my blog.]
A little chalkboard spray paint and calendared vinyl later. Soon to be hung in my kitchen for menus, shopping lists, etc.
TOTAL COST: $5.70
I forgot to chalk something or put cute magnets on this before I photographed it, so you’ll have to take me at my word: it’s magnetic and chalkboardic.
“Piano con calma” is Italian for “slowly, with calm,” a quote I stole from The Hills of Tuscany. (By the way, one of my all-time favorite books. It’s strange to read a book you didn’t write and discover the author’s voice sounds an awful lot like the one in your head. Strange in like a really cool, “I’m not alone in my craziness,” kind of way.)
I chose the quote because it is a good reminder, especially when I’m in the kitchen. These days, it seems more like wishful thinking, but I try.
Speaking of trying…
…I’ll be posting more about these props later.
I’m in love.