Spray Paint it the Best Thing Ever

After my family, of course.  Thanks to spray paint, I turned this corner of our room…

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… into this.

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Much better, for a total cost of $7.99.  To bang out this little update, I started by laying out a bunch of things we already had out on the floor.

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The painting on the top left is something I picked up from a sidewalk artist in Key West.  Hubs and I ran a relay race there a few months after we started dating, and had the most amazing trip.  The sign is a replica of one that hangs at our favorite restaurant in Key West, and I put our race bib in the frame on the top right.  I had a postcard from our honeymoon in Puerto Rico, and snagged an unused frame from another place in the house, along with the big black one in the middle. I didn’t have a photo for this one, and I really wasn’t digging the heavy black frames. But, I figured I’d get them on the wall and see.

I traced the frames onto brown shipping paper, measuring to make sure they were level across the top, and all the margins were just about an inch.  I then measured where the nail holes need to be for each frame, and then taped the whole thing up to the wall, making sure the center frame was in the middle of the wall, and the top edge was level.

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I hammered the nails in the right spot, and then peeled the paper away and hung the photos and art.

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Still hated the black, and couldn’t find anything to fill the big frame, so I hopped on Walgreen’s website and with the coupon BIGSMALL, I snagged an 8×10 print from our wedding for a cool $2.  I swung by Michael’s and got some Krylon Semi Gloss spray paint in white, and then sprayed both black frames.  This was my first time using spray paint, and there were some blunders.  First, that little nozzle is not stopper.  If you pull it out, paint will drip everywhere.  Leave it in, and turn it in the direction you are painting.  Yeesh.  It took two coats to completely cover the black, but they dried quickly, and turned out pretty neat.

Although the finish isn’t perfect, I’m happy with the results, and especially happy with the price tag.

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Any spray paint/picture hanging tips out there for next time?  I’m definitely trying this again!

Yarn Along: Magrathea

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It’s a little ironic that I have chosen to dive into the first of the Lord of the Rings trilogy this week.  As I read this epic story of overcoming impossible odds against evil, I am knitting something warm and soft for my mother-in-law.  She and her husband have been battling brain cancer since he was diagnosed over two years ago.   From the moment I met them, I was overwhelmed by their love, their positive attitude, and their generosity towards others.  Hubs and I had only been dating for a few months, and I remember thinking that a man that was raised by these people has had an amazing model of what a loving marriage could be.

They have spent the last few years traveling together and soaking up as much fun as possible.  As they continue their fight, there will be many hours spent in waiting rooms and doctors offices.  Those places are always so darn cold.  Even as the weather gets warm, they might get chilly, so I want to make sure they have wooly things with them.  And who doesn’t need a little cashmere every once in awhile? Hoping to wrap this one up this week so it will be ready for their next trip to see the angels at Duke Medical Center who have championed their fight. I hope it helps them on their quest and that they find a little magic soon, too.

Virginia is for… History Nerds

DSC_5683 DSC_5685 DSC_5691 DSC_5692 DSC_5715 DSC_5722 DSC_5727 DSC_5731 DSC_5733 DSC_5739 DSC_5741 DSC_5755 DSC_5757 DSC_5791Our little Gracie is a history buff.  She is the kid that gets SUPER excited when she hears about a field trip to a history museum.  When it’s her day to choose something for the family to do together, she will pick a tour of a historic home.  When we asked her what she would like to do for a weekend getaway, she immediately requested visiting Jamestown.  She studied Pocahontas in 2nd grade, and has wanted to see it ever since.  We explored both the Jamestown Settlement, where replicas of the fort and the ships the carried the colonists have been built. They have also created a replica of a Powhatan village for us to explore and a beautiful museum.  We did a guided tour and then went back and did more roaming on our own.  Grace even picked up a deer hoof and used it to help clean the fur off a deer hide that will be worn by guides. I couldn’t believe she picked that thing up, because there was no way I was going near it.

After exploring, we had a picnic in the outdoor eating area, and then headed over to the Historic Jamestown Settlement operated by the National Parks Service.  This was Hubs’ favorite part of the day.  Getting to walk around the perimeter of the original fort was pretty cool.  The archeological sites are amazing, and seeing what historians have been able to excavate from the site is incredible.  The foundations of some of the original buildings are still there, and cross mark the burial sites of some of the original settlers.  To think that we were in the place where the first Europeans stepped foot in the New World was pretty amazing, and pretty sobering to think about how their arrival must have appeared to the people who where already here.

Grace’s favorite part of the day was visiting the original glass house and the demonstrations.  We watched the craftsman create onion-shaped wine bottles, and even brought one home as a souvenir.  We finished the day walking along the James River and dipping our feet in the chilly water.  All-in-all it was a perfect day. Beautiful weather, fun exploring, and all done on a budget.

 

Spring Bustin’ Out All Over

DSC_5585 DSC_5593 DSC_5595 DSC_5599 DSC_5601 DSC_5607 DSC_5611 DSC_5629 DSC_5631 DSC_5634 DSC_5669I set the alarm for 5:30 am this weekend and my friend Carmela and I made our way towards the Tidal Basin in Washington DC to shoot some sunrise shots of the cherry blossoms that peaked there this weekend.  We figured a 6:15 arrival would be plenty early.

We could not have been more wrong.  The parking lots were all nearly full, and by the time we made it to the water, the sun was up, and about a million people were clicking away.  I didn’t really get any shots I loved around the Tidal Basin, but I grabbed a few that I really like along the Potomac River.  The color of the water was gorgeous, and I loved the way the clouds paralleled the bridges. I’m thinking that some of these would make some really nice prints to hang in a bathroom to provide some color.

 

Best Laid Plans

Next week is Spring Break.  I often get on the other side of breaks like these and feel disappointed.  I either spend the entire break running myself ragged, or I accomplish nothing.  This time, I am determined to set myself up for success.  I want to return to work after this week feeling like I got what I wanted out of this time.  And I have a plan.

Be realistic.  Setting up a long to do list that I could never accomplish has set me up for failure too many times.  I end feeling like I should have done more, when what I wanted to do was impossible in the first place.  Setting expectations for others is another quagmire.  I can’t control whether or not the contractor comes to patch the walls, so setting a goal of painting said walls is not likely to make me feel good when he doesn’t make it.  This year, I’m letting myself get one big thing that I can control done.  That’s it.

Balance. Instead of planning some family activity and/or major chore every day, I’ve planned a couple of things and left the rest open.  I have a family outing planned, some social time with a friend, and some time just for me.  There are no extra points for martyrs, and I need some time to exercise every day, have some time on my own, and make memories with my family.

Forgive.  I’m keeping Grace’s constant singing of “Let it Go” in my head and doing just that.  I may not accomplish everything I could have squeezed into this week, but that’s not really the point. I’ll feel better about doing what I set out to do that I will about not finishing what was ridiculous.  It will all get done eventually.  And if my Easter dinner isn’t amazing, my family will still love me, and they will eat it all anyway.

I promise to take a ton of photos this week, and I may not post Monday – Friday, but I’ll catch up eventually, hopefully with miles of yarn knitted up and some interesting photos of DC in the spring.

Waiting face

DSC_5313I snapped this portrait of Gracie girl in a restaurant a few weeks ago.  We had to wait awhile for a table, and we didn’t get started until late. She had a sleepover the night before, and was still wiped out.  She barely ate, and I expecting a night of whining, but she just hung out with her head down until we were done eating.  She was lights out the minute we were on the road after dinner.  I loved this sweet look on her face at the table, and had to snag a shot of it.

 

Yarn Along: The Way it Goes

DSC_5424DSC_5482DSC_5472I have been working on the Magrathea shawl, and it’s slowly growing, but it’s not the best project to keep in my purse.  I rely on the pattern pretty heavily, and I easily loose my place if I stop in the middle of a row. I was in need of something for waiting rooms, so I cast on with some of my new yarn to whip up yet another Hitchhiker.  I’m using the Koigu Painter’s Palette sock yarn I snagged at Looped Yarnworks.  Honestly, it’s nice because it’s pretty mindless, but doing two garter stitch heavy project at once might have been a little nutty. Especially when both of them use fingering weight yarn.  It’s enough to make a girl believe she’ll never finish anything again.

I’m already eyeing up a third project. I know that nothing good can come from this, and yet, there it is.  A wound ball of Manos del Uraguay Silk Blend in a gloriously robust worsted weight is calling my name.  Unless it hits 80 degrees in the next few days, I have a feeling this sucker is getting on the needles, too.

And you know what? Inspired by my read this week, I’m not even going to chastise myself for it for one minute.

 

The demo that never ends

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The [endless] demo of the kitchen continues.  Hubs started working on the old vinyl tile this weekend, using a reciprocating saw fitted with a chisel tool to get under each tile and get it up.  Unfortunately, we are left with a very sticky underlayment until we can get the new floor down, which won’t be awhile.  Our first contractor seems to have gotten caught up in other projects, so we are meeting with someone new today in the hopes of getting the electrical and wall repair taken care of.  Here’s a snag of what we are ordering to update the floor.  It’s a vinyl tile product called Ceramica by Traffic Master.  We opted for this because it looks a lot better than the regular peel-and-stick, and it’s an inexpensive update for the Phase 1 renovation.  If we end up getting to stay here longer, we can update with a more expensive flooring when we get new cabinets, etc.

In hopes of making us feel like we are making progress, we stopped at the Benjamin Moore shop to grab some paint samples.  We wanted to be able to look at them over time and see what we thought.

DSC_5445 DSC_5442I’m looking for something with enough contrast to make the white trim (and eventually white cabinets) pop, but light enough that it keeps the space airy. I’m leaning towards the second from the top.  Hubs thinks they all look the same.

 

Social Butterfly

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This weekend was filled with all sorts of girlie fun, including a spring dance at Grace’s school, a sleepover with her best neighborhood friend, and a family date night to the local yogurt shop.  I didn’t get any great shots at the dance, as I was on the dance floor MORTIFYING my kid.  She just doesn’t appreciate my smooth moves.  Apparently the students I teach agree, as they would also have nothing to do with me.  I snagged some shots of the girls creating acrylic paintings on scrap wood from the kitchen reno on Saturday.  They have grand plans to sell their creations to save money for the American Heart Association.  These girls mean business.  When I asked if I could keep one, they informed me it was at least $20, and I shouldn’t low ball them because it’s for a good cause.  Snuck a few shots at the shop, but my favorite was the last one.  This is the face I got when I asked if I could finish her yogurt for her.

Clearly, she was not willing to share.

Hope everyone got out and enjoyed some sunshine this weekend!

Craftsy Tryout & a WIP

A co-worker of mine is an avid knitter, and she was positively gushing about the Craftsy kits.  She watches for when the kits go on sale, and then she snags both the pattern and the yarn for a song.  I’d never tried a kit, and I haven’t done much online shopping for yarn, but I figured I’d give it a go. I hit the website, and browsed their sale kits.  There were two that seemed perfect.

First, I saw this awesome chunky cowl, called Empalme, which would be amazing when the weather gets cool again.  The kit comes with 3 skeins of Manos del Uraguay for only $35.  Manos provides fair labor to women, enabling to provide for their families, and connecting their artistry with knitters around the world.  Neatest touch?  The artisan signs the tag on each skein. (Mine were crafted by Maribel in Dragon, Uraguay.)  I chose the Natural colorway, thinking that when snow does fall again, that this could just feel like a cloud of something warm and soft.

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DSC_5422I also snagged a basic sock kit called Special Striped Sock so that I could give socks a go this year.  The yarn is Lorna’s Laces, which I’ve never worked with before, but feels soft and smoothy, so I’m thinking it will be awesome. I chose the Zombie BBQ colorway because well, it’s called Zombie BBQ.  The kit was only $19, which is a steal for my first pair of socks.

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DSC_5423Even the packaging that everything arrives in is pretty adorable.  I love the “No more waiting, time for creating!” tagline along the bottom.

DSC_5418These are going on the enormous stash waiting for me to plow through it.  In the meantime, here is one of the projects on the needles right now, a Magrathea shawl in Hazel Knits Entice MCN gorgeousness.  The blue is just amazing.  Perfect for a spring gift for someone special.

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