DIY Glam Bookends

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I have always been a fan of all thing “quirky”. When I was younger I tried to incorporate quirky things into our home decor by failed and instead our vibe screamed “funky”. It’s a hard element to blend into the rest of the house. And as time has gone on, we’ve realized we are more “quirky-chic” than “quirky-funky”. And there is nothing wrong with a little funk, but its not us. Hubby is more subdued (hence the cooler colors and softer materials we use) and I’m not afraid of much (like that awesome Ikea fabric I brought home on a whim). I discovered Jonathan Alder a few years ago and realized he seemed to marry our styles pretty fluidly.

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What’s not to love? It’s quirky and fun without being silly. But its neutral and classy without being too stuffy. His entire collection is genius! The catch: $150 bookends aren’t in my budget.

So I got to thinking about how to incorporate something like this into our bookshelves. Coincidentally, my sister had a pair of bridesmaid shoes she just didn’t know what to do with. And these are some amazing shoes… she just truly didn’t know where she’d every wear them again. Check these bad boys out!

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I knew these were the twist of fun inspiration I had been looking for. So I gathered some old yard sale books that I had purchased because I liked the shapes and sizes. I seriously never even noticed the titles.

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I took the dust jackets off of the books to reveal some cool linen like textures that I remember of library books from elementary school.

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You can see some of the shapes, sizes and textures in the photo below.

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All I had to do was play with the arrangements of books and shoes. I made sure the binding of the books and the heels of the shoes worked so that as bookends they could face away from each other with the heels toward the books and binding facing out. I used super glue but hot glue or E6000 glue would do the trick.

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So above is the left shoe, that will be on the left of the books with the book binding facing out.

Below is the right shoe, facing so the heel can hold up books when it sits to the right of the books.

Does that make sense? Typing it out just isn’t the same as saying it. Ya know?

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Then I coated them with gold spray paint. I knew that these would be against the half wall in our family room near the gallery wall. This room and the gallery wall are heavy on white, black and silver. I thought gold might pop and glam it up a little. I also want to work a little bit of navy into the family room pallet eventually and gold would look killer with navy. Here is the finished product:

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As far as spray painting shoes goes… it is pretty labor intensive. I also was careful no to over spray because the fabric of the shoe was soaking up some of the paint quickly in spots. The shape of the shoe itself was the challenge. Lots of nooks and crannies, inside and outside of the shoe and under and around the heel. I spent a bout a half hour on spray painting so all in all it wasn’t too bad.

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What do you think? I love how these turned out! Any quirky objects could work… a pair of mismatched clocks, piggy banks, mason jars, action figures or plastic dinosaurs for kids’ rooms. The possibilities really are endless!

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Projects Elsewhere Part Three: Josie

My sister and I took on a fun extra project and helped transform three rooms for a friend. First we gave Sam a pirate themed room, then Jack got a sweet new baseball themed room. Now we present Josie’s room. Josie is all girl in every way. She loves dress ups, dolls, books, fairy tales, penguins and pink. Her mom, Heather, hoped for more order to her room including all of those dolls and dress ups.

A few before pictures:

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As you can see from the pictures above and below, Josie has tons of dolls, books and toys that needed a little corralling. Susie and I would have to be pretty strategic with how we organized this room. We wanted Josie to be able to reach everything as well as put it all away when she was finished playing. Her room had two soft pinky (and sometimes lavender looking) walls and two beige walls. Heather told us she didn’t love the colors. Josie handed me a handwritten list of things she wanted to see in her new room as well as a list of things she liked and disliked about the current room. She wanted a reading nook, loved her windows curtains, loved her sheets (bright and cheery polkadots!) and she wanted a mirror and place for her dolls and penguins.

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We also had to remove more of those built ins. And see that Luvs Diaper box up there? Josie has long outgrown diapers but she was once the face of Luvs! She told us to get rid of that box… her mom had some framed images from the Luvs days instead.

………………Drum roll please…………..

Susie and I chose a bright mint/jade color for the walls in Josie’s room. We were inspired by her cheery polkadot bedding and made a hot pink accent wall with large bright yellow dots. Here is what we came up with:

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We gave Josie the mirror she wished for. It was a $5 yard sale find that just happened to fit her dresser perfectly. We spray painted it white and attached it with a few screws since the mirror already had the mounting hardware with it.

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We kept Josie’s letters from her old room but gave them a fresh coat of white spray paint and painted the edges to coordinate with the accent wall. Josie had quite a bit of jewelry so we recycled the “J” wall hook from her old room and relocated it to behind her door. This way she could sort of “stash” her jewelry out of sight and it was still close to her closet.

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Josie got her reading nook too! We found this sweet little wooden swivel chair at the same yard sale for $5 and gave it a coat of white spray paint. So fresh! The pink “dot” cushion is from Ikea. Susie organized all of the books and styled up the bookcase with some of Josie’s keepsakes. We tucked the chair in the corner and book case under the window. Ta-da, Reading nook accompished!

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We found white mesh curtains at Ikea. Josie had wanted to keep her pink ones (and we did too!) but once we painted the pink wall, they completely clashed with each other. The white is a little more grown up and will hopefully extend the life of this room into tween years anyway.

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Ah, the pink wall. This is the first stage of the accent wall. I’d have to come back later to do all of the polkadots. But you can see how Susie used the space at the foot of the bed to make a home for the baby doll cribs and accessories. Josie already had the cubbie storage unit so Susie just made sure all of the baskets were pout to good use and we added some of he stuffed animals to the top as well as keeping her hanging stuffed animal storage from before.

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We came back one evening to hang Josie’s 6ft Ikea LACK shelf. We wanted to give her more stuffed animal storage, but its also in a place that she can use the shelf for books or keepsakes in a few years too.

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Stage two of the accent wall: polkadots. I traced a cookie tin (What? It was the perfect size!) and painted two coats of the yellow. The pink is Behr “Hot Gossip” and the yellow is Behr “Cheese puff” both in Satin.

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Another view. I like all of these colors together. They are so happy! I think this room is much more “big girl” than before.

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Here is a better look at the dots with the inspirational sheets.
We moved Josie’s bed under the window to give her more space to play. Before, the bed gave the feeling of cutting the room in half. But now you enter the room and are greeted with more space and easier access to things on both sides of the bed. And its all visible so things should be easy to find too. Our solution for storing the dress ups was to get a couple of under the bed storage containers. We also moved a couple of the larger toys to the basement (like the dress  up vanity). Josie is happy with her room and her mom reports that keeping it clean (and getting the kids to clean up their rooms) is a lot easier than before.

Preschooler Play and Toddler To Do’s

A while back a friend asked me what kinds of things I do with kids on the cheap and with a baby in the house. It is always a challenge to keep older siblings busy while you are strapped to house by baby naps, and forced to be quiet. Cold winter days and rainy spring afternoons only make this harder. Another challenge for many of us is the cost of so many activities, outings and toys. I’ve compiled a list of simple thrills for kids up to 5 years old. Most don’t cost much money… and I really believe in making memories with kids. They won’t remember the stuff and much as they remember doing things together. Kind of like at Christmas… O loved all the wrapping paper and boxes and barely noticed most of the gifts. While diapers are expensive, kids only cost as much at you let them cost.

I mean, look at this face.

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Stamps and Stickers: A&Z both loved stamping all over a pad of newsprint. I bought a bunch in the clearance bins at Michael’s and the dollar store. Melissa and Doug sell a few little sets too. Also, look for “foamies”… Little foam stickers. Paper isn’t the only place for stickers. I’ve let them decorate their art boxes, shoe boxes and all kids of things with stickers. Its amzing how much time kids can spend with this activity. For younger kids it can be an opportunity to idenify animals, shapes and expand vocabulary. For older kids it provides a creative outlet and can spark a little imagination.

Crayons: Have you seen those Crayola crayon holders for little hands? Huge help to get him going on controlling a crayon. Larger and thicker crayons can be easier for little hands too. Talk about colors, shapes, even start some letter recognition.

Recycled Crayons: Preschoolers love this one. We keep old crayon nubs and broken pieces of crayons around for a while. Eventually we dig them out of the crayon tub and separate them from the useable ones. Then I let the kids make piles of the nubby crayons in a muffin tin (mini muffin tins are best because it doesn’t take as much to fill them and the crayons you make become thicker). The piles don’t have to match or have any of the same colors… you really can’t do this wrong. Then I place the muffin tin in a 250 degree oven and check on them every 5 minutes or so. When the crayons have melted to liquid I slowly remove the tin from the oven… hot liquid wax is dangerous. Then we let them cool for an hour or so and pop out our new recycle crayons! The shape is easy for kids to hold and when they use them they are coloring with a rainbow or tie dye effect. For older kids I ask them to make observations about what might happen before we put them in the oven and the happened after and why they think it. Doesn’t hurt to add a little science to it!

Go Big: Another big hit is a bunch of giant sheets of paper and a long roll of paper I bought from Ikea. Z still loves to have me draw roads and tracks for his cars and trains …and with a roll of paper they can go on forever! We have made signs with giant messages to welcome new cousins to the world and then we took pictures with the kids holding it and sent them in texts or posted them online for family. You can make birthday signs for each person’s birthday to hang in a doorway, or welcome them home from a trip. We also trace hands, toys, do leaf rubbings, and he thinks its way cool that we lay on the floor to draw. The possibilities are endless!

Playdoh: I probably don’t need to tell you that it is amazing. We have tons of it and to be honest you only need a few colors and a couple of the utensils. If you don’t want to buy any try this recipe I posted a while back for homemade dough. Big kids love measuring and making it. And everyone loves playing with it. As far as what to use for utensils: stamps work on playdoh, kitchen utensils like a butter knife or whisk, anything with texture, cups, cookie cutters, ice trays and the list goes on. Playing with dough is great for small motor skills, imagination and sensory development. I actually find it relaxing myself.

Nature Walks: Give kids a bag to “collect” anything he thinks is cool on a walk. Bring them home and talk about all the things he found, the season, animals, rocks… Whatever. This always sparks conversation. “I Spy”, “Follow the Leader” and “Simon Says” are also a fun games for a nature walk. Don’t live near a trail? So what… a walk down the sidewalk or through a park is just as exciting. Even if it’s snowing a 15 minute walk and fresh air can cure cabin fever. I’ve also had older kids help me make a list of things we think we may find and then make it more of a scavenger hunt for them.

Make Wishes: I keep pennies in my car for making wishes in fountains we pass by. Sometimes we make a point of finding a fountain to make a wish in. We count our pennies, observe the years on them, and close our eyes and wish reeeeally hard.

Storytime: You can’t read to a kid enough. Go to the library and get new and unfamiliar books often. Make your own storytime… we cuddle up in a blanket and read all of our books as soon as we get home. And do it again a few times a week. This often suffices as “rest” for kids who no longer nap but still need some chill out time midday. Check your library’s and local bookstore’s schedules. Many of them have regular story time, music play and such for free!

Puzzles: Those wooden ones with pegs are great. Most kids can do some large piece ones, and anything with the alphabet. Use the Go Big method above to make your own puzzles. If your kids get tired of puzzles or have them all memorized consider swapping puzzles with friends for a couple of weeks. Fresh puzzles for everyone!

Play House: Have a “picnic” with pretend food, “cook” and stuff too. Let the kids lead the way. They love being in charge and telling us what to do for once. It’s always interesting to hear their perception of roles in the household too. I”ve heard kids say, “We need to go to Target. Can you be on your best behavior?” or “I’m going to drop the kids at school and go get coffee.” They can do this for hours!

Build A Fort: This is a great exercise for problem solving, imagination and creativity. Building the fort is a blast and using it is fun too. Consider reading books, doing puzzles or “hiding out” in the fort. Kids think I’m a genius when we do this.

Inside Picnics: We eat lunch somewhere besides the kitchen table. We have done it in a fort, at the coffee table, under the kitchen table, with his stuffed animals, on the front porch, in the tailgate of my SUV. Anywhere.

PJ Day: Let the kids wear their PJ’s all day. Even go to the grocery store with them on. They think its so silly and funny. On this day we also do breakfast for lunch. Pancakes for lunch is always a hit!

Make Noise: (Ok- not too much). Have concerts with paper towel and toilet paper tubes, tissue boxes. Filling baby food jars or pop bottles with beans, rice and pasta makes great “instruments”. None of them make too much noise though.

Scavenger Hunt in a Bottle: Fill a clear soda bottle about halfway with rice. Drop in random objects to “find” in the rice. Think crayons, beads, paperclips, pennies, bouncy ball… anything that will fit in the hole and you won’t miss. The more rice in the bottle, the harder it is to find the objects. Seal the bottle (I always add super glue to avoid disasters) and start searching. Kids can roll the bottle every which way to find the objects.

Pipe Cleaners: The possibilities are endless! String large wooden beads on them (more motor skills!), or make a macaroni necklace, build a house (in my case a Bat Cave for Batman), bracelets,

Penne Picasso: Glue pasta on paper. So simple- he can’t mess it up, there is no paint and its inexpensive! Use pasta to make necklaces on yarn to to decorate a shoe box.

Ball Pit: Ikea, Target and other big box stores sell those plastic balls for ball pits. Put them in a pack n play or crib for an instant ball party. This never gets old. And when he’s done he can help you clean them up. For bigger kids let them fill as small room.

Cooking and Baking: Let kids help prepare their meals. From choosing a plate and utensils and setting the table to letting them stir and teaching them to measure. You’ll be surprised how happy they are to help. They really do like a little responsibility! And preparing food together makes time for a good little conversation. It’s often the only way I can get the “What did you do at school today?” question answered. You can also teach them about their food and where it comes from along with encouraging trying new foods and making them aware of a having healthy diet.

Sink or Float: Gather some household items to see if they sink or float. Use a baby pool or bucket outside or use the bathroom tub. Have kids guess which will happen and why. A fun one is a Diet Coke can vs a Coke can. Apples are heavier and most kids think it will sink but they float. Try to stump each other!

2 Things for Myself Friday Night

I had been looking forward to Friday night all week. I had grand plans with my good friend Greta. We were going to an art show (hello, my FAVE kind of thing to attend) and hopefully hanging out afterward. It was exactly what the doctor ordered: grown up time with a good friend, high heels, great conversation, art and likely a glass of wine. But my Friday at work proved to be a little draining and to add to my physical exhaustion, I become emotionally exhausted after learning that a dear friend of my family passed away that afternoon. Heartbroken, I sent Greta a text explaining that I just wasn’t up for going out. She explained that she had a headache… we decided to drop our plans. But then she asked me to make her a promise. No problem. Anything for her. But then she made me promise to do two things for myself that evening instead. I think she knew this was going to be a challenge for me.

I accepted and challenged her to do the same. I knew my first order of business: a manicure. When was the last time I painted my nails? I’d like to introduce you to my favorite nail polish. Sally Hansen INSTA-DRI! Oh boy, its affordable and comes in both classic and trendy colors. Those aren’t even why I love it as much as I do. It dries in record time AND it has a flat brush with a curved tip to make painting in one stroke a breeze. I also find it extremely helpful in painting my own nails. I often dread painting my right hand, as my left is undependable. I no longer have a right hand manicure that looks like a two year old did it for me. And one coat is all it takes. By far my favorite nail product  right now.

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{I chose Silky Slate- a deep taupe with a sweet hint of purple}

It was hard to come up with the second thing to do for myself. I wrestled with vacuuming, mopping floors and organizing some of O’s toys. All are things that are on my mile long to do list and would make me feel good (an organized home is bliss but mine is only partially there) but I was certain Greta would not accept this as “for myself”. Then it hit me: my nightstand. If you can call it that. Its a balancing act on top of Rubbermade containers. I fight with it every night looking for my phone charger, tissues and trying to keep the baby monitor from toppling onto the floor. And I trip all over it in the morning looking for my watch and rings as I fly out the door. It was an impromptu fix when hubby and I moved in…We knew we were going to purchase a new mattress (hallelujah- it arrives next week if it wasn’t held up by the blizzard) so we didn’t want to decide on a bed set until we knew if we were buying a king or queen. As much as we want a king, we felt it will make or room unbearably small. Anyway, thats why I have a plastic container for a night stand. Sad but true. So organizing this would be for me. It will make my life easier and our room a little more put together. Below is the “before”:

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The plan was to convert this old end table from Hubby’s bachelor days into my night stand. It was out of place in the dining room and was quickly becoming a collect all from the peninsula overflow (which I also organized this weekend because I just can’t take it anymore). Another embarrassing shot:

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It took a surprising amount of time to clear off the old nightstand. I sorted things for trash, needs, things that belong elsewhere, etc. Here is what I found:

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Some of the strange finds include: 5 paint chips for master bedroom, a plethora of pens, 2 sets of headphones, a spoon (really.), a long lost Swarovski ring (woo… glad that turned up), the Fifty Shades trilogy, “Bared to You” trashy read (and highly recommended), unknown chargers, a dangerous amount or extension cords and power strips, a sound machine, tons of lotion, a glasses case and iphone 5 package and instructions (who reads those anyway?).

Oh, and I though the container was empty. Apparently I haven’t missed any of these shoes. How random.

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And here is what I came up with. Once we decide on a color scheme I plan on painting it but it will do for now. I put a parfait on the top to coral my jewelry and hair things. I minimized all those cords to one power strip hidden behind the nightstand to charge my phone, computer (I guess I need an office?) and the monitor. The middle shelf is home to my winter hand lotion essentials and tissues. The bottom shelf stashes the baby monitor so now the little power and volume lights won’t be nearly as bothersome all night. It also is home to my spare glasses and both my current and regular reads: Bared to You, What to Expect The First Year, Baby 411 and Real Simple Magazines.

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The side by side before and after:

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What do you need to do for yourself? What have you been organizing to make life a little easier?

In Love with YOUNG HOUSE LOVE

This passed weekend was jam-packed. Amongst all of our other commitments I was determined to make it to The Books by the Banks Festival because I MUST meet John and Sherry Petersik of Young House Love. I just must! So I somehow ended up baby and hubby free downtown. I parallel parked on the left side of one way 5th street. Hello! Did you read that?!? I parallel parked on the left side of the road in the reverse fashion that I am accustomed to. And we are all alive to blog about it.

So I was a few minutes late but my bestie, Greta of inGRETAblelife, saved us a seat in the second row for the YHL presentation and hopped in line and immediately started making friends! I squeezed in – Thanks to our new friend we made in line, Allison. Here is my shaky and overly excited iphone shot of the book table and The Petersiks. Looks like Sherry was excited too!

So we chatted in line and discussed our favorite YHL happenings, our kids, our own blogs and projects. And then it happened: Greta and I met John and Sherry! It was an intense minute of crazy word vomit that was something like this:

“Hi, I stalk your blog. I call it ‘this blog that I stalk.”

“I’m an addict. Its like a gateway drug!”

“I love Eminem too!”

Ah! They are stinking ADORABLE! And Sherry is just as petite and cute as I had imagined. Don’t worry, I restrained myself from squeezing her into a tight I-love-you-and-I-feel-like-I-know-you-but-we’ve-never-met-in-real-life hug. It wasn’t easy. I’m sure she thought I was crazy enough. Come to think of it, I don’t think I saw an form of security nearby. I could have gotten away with it. Hey guys, If you ever stumble on my little blog you might want to consider hiring a security detail for crazies like me.

Then we were on to their one hour presentation of lessons in DIY and a Q&A session. As I said before, Greta was kind enough to spread the contents of her purse across a few seats in the second row. Apparently she was the only one in the room and had the opportunity to stake out first row seats but felt second row was less stalker-ish. Good foresight, G. We were creepy enough I think. There were a few minutes of chatter and such before it was time to start. So John snapped this picture and promptly posted it to Instagram.

Check G and I out in the second row holding up our beloved books. Funny story about this pic: I was dropping Z off at preschool a few days later and a friend (we’ll call her Lily’s mom) came up to me and was like “You were at YHL this weekend!” I was like “Yea, did you see me? You should have said hi!” and she was all “No. I was late” and I was all “Oh, how did you know I went?” and she was all “You are front and center of their Instagram photo!” I about peed myself. I’m not really an Instagrammer…. so I really didn’t realize this picture was out in the universe. And I thought it was hilarious that she recognized me in all those other faces. And then YHL posted in on the blog about how much they loved their trip to the Nasty Nati… and today she jokingly asked for my autograph. (Side note: That sweater dress was way cuter in the mirror. But I guess mirrors lie.)

Here is my YHL book’s happy home on our coffee table in the living room for all to see (on top of my Real Simple Magazines, Parents Magazines and my other addiction: all things Tori Spelling- I highly recommend her CelebraTORI entertainment and party planning book). I’ve read most of it already but I constantly flip through the ideas and gorgeous pictures. It never gets old. And of course I have a renewed inspiration for revamping a few things around the house!