Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What I've Discovered Wednesday

Until I went back to work full-time in October, I was featuring weekly roundup of my favorite discoveries via my Get Me Motivated Monday posts.  At the same time, Pinterest was starting to get popular for non-bloggers, so there was more and more content for all of us to be inspired by.  Today I thought I'd go a little retro and feature a few things I've spotted lately that I think are pretty darn cool.

First up is this simple kraft notebook that has been dressed up with triangle stencils.  It would be super-easy to DIY this with a stamper made from a sponge or a potato.  After all, I hate being the same as everyone else, and I love graphic patterns.  I've actually been thinking about giving an old end table of mine a similar geometric treatment.

via Uncovet

Next is a blog that I just recently learned about that I think will inspire a lot of you too.  It's called J's Everyday Fashion.  She takes fashion photos from runways, magazines, celebrities and catalogs, and recreates the look at a price most of us can afford.  She doesn't copy the look exactly, but uses it as an inspiration to put outfits together to help the rest of us who can use a little styling help or hand-holding.

I like her take on it more than Gwyneth's

Now I'm betting all of you have this problem.  We love the convenience of modern electronics, but we don't always like to look at the black boxes, cords, etc.  Here's a great solution I discovered at Apartment Therapy.  It's a wireless router hidden in a hollowed-out book.

via Apartment Therapy

Yes, please!  Now I just need solution for the devices that have infrared sensors, like my satellite receiver.  I've heard about IR repeaters, which allow you to put your ugly electronics anywhere you want.  I'll let my guys (AKA Mr. Technology and Tech Jr.) sort that out.

What great blogs, ideas or solutions have you come across lately?


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Debby Downer

I'm not busy procrastinating about vacation planning any more ... I'm ON vacation!  The trouble is, Tropical Storm Debby is wreaking havoc.  Fortunately we're not in Florida, but Debby has managed to move from the Gulf, across Florida, and north toward the Atlantic, passing through Savannah and Tybee Island, Georgia.  Saturday when we arrived, the weather was mild and we managed to dip our toes in the sand and surf for a few minutes before we got settled into our rental cottage.

The calm before the storm
Sunday was a good beach day, although it was a little more crowded than we'd like because a lot of people from the city (Savannah) come out to Tybee on the weekends.  The three of us bobbed in the waves for a while before The Teen returned to the cottage and his computer and The Mr. and I read books under the protection of umbrellas at the beach.

Yesterday the waves were so strong that I couldn't go any farther than letting the tides roll in across my feet.  You see, I'm the idiot who sprained her foot about three months ago.  My foot has not healed and may never at this point.  Walking across soft sand is torturous.  With the strong surf that Debby brought in Sunday night, I can't even go out in the water because the waves are so strong that even my able-footed guys could barely stand on Monday. 

We did manage to brave the light rain on Monday night for our Tybee Beach Ecology Trip.  I actually have a degree in biology and wanted to be an ecologist even in college, so this was right up my alley.  The Mr. took a while to warm up to it, and The Teen was just bored the whole time.  They're tough nuts to crack.  Here are a couple of the creatures we found in the tide pools.  Unfortunately because of the rain I had to leave my good camera in the car, so these are from my Android phone.  The zoomed in photos are quite grainy.

Horseshoe crab, live and kicking!
Hermit crabs (the right one is without a shell)
Baby flying fish?
Grumpy teenager
The fish we found is one that washed up with the Sargassum seaweed (which you can see on the beach in the photo above), which has been washing onshore at Tybee since last week.  It has nothing to do with Tropical Storm Debby, but Dr. Joe Richardson, the biologist who was our guide, suspects that the Sargassum broke off from a large pod of it out in the Atlantic and a current brought it here.  The cool thing is that it has also brought species of ocean life that they don't normally see inland, such as the fish Dr. Joe can only surmise is a baby flying fish.  There are fish and crabs, etc. that normally live within the Sargassum, so they got brought with it when it floated hundreds of miles away from its normal habitat.

This morning we were supposed to go on a bike tour of Historic Downtown Savannah, but Debby is roaring outside, so we're stuck in the cottage.  And guess who forgot to bring any board games when we packed?  Today would be a perfect day for Settlers of Catan or Risk (two games The Teen actually agrees to).  We have playing cards here in the cabin, but I can't think of any fun three-person card games.  I guess that's what the internet is for, huh?

We leave on Saturday, so I hope Debby gives us a chance to do some sightseeing in and around Savannah, and a chance to get back in the ocean without being knocked over by crashing waves.  Cross your fingers I don't come back as pasty white as when I left home.  It's not a pretty sight.  And for pete's sake, I need to have a chance to take some decent photos of the beach and of the gorgeous old sights around Savannah.

What a downer!


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Before blogging: Ordinal file cabinet

Once upon a time, I completed projects and created things and didn’t have too many people to tell about them.  What a lonely time that was!  (haha)  I thought it’s about time I shared some of my favorite “before blogging” favorite projects with you since I haven’t been doing any new projects lately to tell you about!

By now, most of you who read a lot of blogs have seen other knockoffs of Anthropologie’s Ordinal Dresser, but my copycat is on an unusual piece of furniture!  Here’s the Anthro original:

Anthropologie Ordinal Dresser

I heavily considered buying it as a nightstand for my side of the bed a couple years ago, but it was too tall to fit under the window next to my bed, and since it’s not exactly cheap, it would have had to be perfect for me to part with that much money for a nightstand.

Even though I decided against buying it, I couldn’t get it out of my head.  You know you really like something when logic and reason tells you it’s not a good idea, but you just can’t stop thinking about it and wishing circumstances were different!  A few months went by, and I was looking for a tall lateral file cabinet to go in a nook across from the door to our garage, to replace the desk that had been there but that wasn’t meeting our needs.  File cabinets are so ugly, so I was considering giving it a face lift with some paint.  Anthro’s Ordinal Dresser popped back into my mind, and I knew it would be a perfect re-design for my ugly file cabinet!

Since I wasn’t blogging at the time, I had no reason to take photos of projects step-by-step, so I’ll just jump to photos of the finished product and then try to give you a run-down of my method in words, rather than pictures.  Here’s my Anthro knockoff Ordinal File Cabinet!

Lateral file cabinet update 006

It wasn’t the easiest thing to take a photo of, even with my wide-angle lens.  It’s across from the door to our garage, so I had to plaster myself against the door to try to get the entire tall cabinet in the frame!

It’s really convenient having the drawers numbered.  That way when The Teen asks me where the masking tape is, for example, I can tell him to look in the 2nd drawer.  We have office supplies in the first two drawers, camera equipment in the third, files in the fourth, and gift wrapping supplies in the 5th.

Ordinal file cabinet 006

Did you know that file cabinets – even ugly metal ones – are awfully expensive?  I was happy to find a used one on Craigslist, that had been cleared out from a business being closed or updating their office furniture.  Even used, it was pricier than I would have expected.  And sheesh was it heavy!  I actually tried to add casters to the bottom, but because it sits on my wood floor, the casters concentrated the weight of the cabinet (plus contents) onto four wheels rather than the weight being evenly distributed around the entire base of the cabinet.  It was certain to make large divots in my floor, which I obviously wasn’t down with, so the casters came off.  Wah-wah.

Ordinal file cabinet 005

For those of you interested in recreating the look, here are my basic steps.  First I primed the entire cabinet with latex paint.  Because I didn’t know at the time that primer came in gray, I used white.  The cabinet was originally a dark gray, and I was going to be painting it black, but I used white primer.  Kids, don’t try that at home.  Use gray primer, for pete’s sake.  Because I was painting the cabinet in January in the Midwest US, I had to paint it inside and therefore could not use spray paint.  Spray paint would have been much easier because a steel cabinet has such a smooth surface, and it would have been easier to get into the grooves.  But I was certainly not going to haul this heavy thing down to my basement and back up again, so I painted it with a brush right in the hallway area between my kitchen and living room.  Painting seems to go a lot faster when you can watch TV while you do it!

Ordinal file cabinet 007

The primer I used was just a basic white latex primer, I think Zinsser.  I believe it took 2-3 coats to cover the dark gray steel, especially because it was easily scratched off.  Then I used a foam roller to put on several coats of plain black latex paint.  Everything I knew about painting furniture was learned from Centsational Girl’s blog, so I took her advice and mixed Floetrol with my paint to help it go on smoothly.  Between the Floetrol and the foam roller, I expected perfect results, but I was disappointed to find roller marks time and time again.  I ended up putting on several more coats than expected, partly to cover up the white primer (duh) and partly to try to get rid of those roller marks.

I couldn’t use a roller on all parts, because there are lots of places in between the drawers, or between the drawers and the cabinet frame, which needed to be painted because they can be seen.  And then there are the grooves where you grab to open the drawers.  I used a combination of small foam brushes and artist brushes to paint those spots.  It was very tricky because The Mr. and I could not figure out how to get the drawers out, so I would open one drawer part-way to get some spots and then all the way to reach other spots.  I’d have to leave that drawer open for the paint to dry and then come back later to do another drawer. Why?  Because lateral file cabinets are designed to allow only one drawer open at a time so it doesn’t get front-heavy and tip over.  Safer?  Yes.  Pain when trying to pull drawers out to paint around them?  Yes again.

Ordinal file cabinet 004

For the labeling of the drawers, I created my own stencils with Microsoft Word, my printer, and a pair of scissors.  I picked a serif font that I liked in word, increased the size as much as possible for one number to fill up a whole page.  The letters I made about half the size of the numbers.  I changed the font style to “outline” so I wouldn’t waste a bunch of ink printing out the letters so big.  After printing them out, I cut out the letters and numbers with scissors.  The font I chose was not a “stencil” font, so it didn’t have the D’s in two pieces like I wanted, for instance, so I just created the slit myself on the paper before I cut out the shape.  I meant to do it on the N, but forgot until it was already painted.  Oh well. You wouldn’t have noticed anything if I hadn’t pointed it out, right?  Like with most stenciling projects, I used painter’s tape to hold the stencils in place, and used my hand to hold down the edges as I went along.  I used a flat-topped foam stencil brush and created a mottled effect.  It’s been about a year and a half since I did this, and I honestly can’t remember whether I put any Polycrilic on when I was finished.  I don’t think I did.

So there you go … the first project in my “before blogging” series.  Stay tuned for more!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I'm busy vacation planning

I've procrastinated long enough, and our summer vacation is coming up soon, so now I'm busy researching and planning.  We rent a house at the beach for week every other summer.  Our past four trips have been to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, which we have all loved, but this time I convinced the group to try something new.  After all, there are so many places I want to travel, that I hate to go back to the same place time and time again and miss out on exploring new ones.

This year we're headed to Tybee Island, GA, which is just outside Savannah.

Photo by Imkee Lass, via Southern Living

If you haven't heard of Tybee, then you must not follow the blog The Lettered Cottage.  Layla and Kevin travel there occasionally to makeover one of the old beach cottages.  Tybee is a former military town, with lots of small cottages for the regular folks, as well as large homes where the officers used to live.  I refuse to stay at a condo or a hotel when I visit a beach town, and I shudder at the thought of staying in a new place when vintage homes abound.  Lucky for me, we found an old home just one lot from the beach.  It's been updated with new decor and electronics, but still has vintage charm.  I look forward to renting bikes and touring around the small island to check out all the other homes too!

Savannah is just a 20-30 minute trip away, so we'll be making a couple day trips over there. is my good friend when vacation planning, but I'd love to hear from you too.  What are your favorite experiences in Savannah or Tybee?  Or what activities or restaurants should we steer clear of?


Saturday, June 9, 2012

"Home by Novogratz" coming back to HGTV ... soon?

We are such TV junkies in my house that our DVR has so many timers set up that I wasn't even able to set up a new one this morning without deleting another.  It's free HBO weekend, so I was trying to schedule some movies to record.  You know why HBO offers free weekends, right?  True Blood season 5 premieres this Sunday, so they're trying to hook you in!  The last free weekend was when Game of Thrones season 2 premiered.  Those tricky marketers.

I hate to take up timer space for shows that aren't getting renewed, so I was doing some checking this morning to make sure all of my favorite design shows are still active.  One of them I hadn't heard about in a long while was "Home by Novogratz" on HGTV.  I actually liked the format of their Bravo show "9 By Design" better than season 1 of "Home by Novogratz," but one can't deny the crazy inventiveness of Cortney and Robert Novogratz.  They do an amazing job of mixing high and low and utilizing funky items in an unexpected way.

I can't believe they can get a good photo of 7 kids at one time

Rockaway beach house bedroom

Most of us think that if we were able to decorate without a budget, we'd be happiest, but sometimes super high-end decorating bores me.  It's one thing to pick items out of a designer catalog or showroom and put them together in a visually pleasing way.  But it's another to be able to mix those items with low-end purchases, unusual vintage items, and found objects.

Loft makeover mixing old and new (Love the lighting and the shades of blue, but hate the art and the rug)

Their design is a love it or hate it thing.  Some traditionalists think their style is tacky.  While I can't say I love absolutely everything they do, I do agree that they are crazy talented and they usually break the rules in all the right ways.  They pick out such interesting pieces. The Novogratzes are certainly known for bold wall statements, whether it's modern art, typography, wallpaper, or photo murals.  Their lighting choices, whether modern or vintage, are always on point and always eye-catching.  And they're not afraid of color!

New Jersey family basement redo

I don't know why, but HGTV isn't sharing exactly when season 2 of "Home by Novogratz" will premiere.  It was supposed to be tonight, but it got pushed back for some reason.  I believe the first show is a makeover at the home of Ree Drummond, better known as the Pioneer Woman.  Many of us got a sneak peek of the new design at The Lettered Cottage last fall.  If you're a TLC fan, you probably remember that Layla did a "Pick My Presto" of the room last July.

Not your average gym design

Cortney and Robert also have a collaboration with retailer CB2 coming up soon.  The first piece will be their  "family" rug which you probably remember seeing a lot of last season on their HGTV show.  I'm into the colors, but the design is not really my thing.  The rug debuts in July, with more products coming out in October.  CB2 and the Novogratzes are also hosting a $15,000 room makeover sweepstakes through June 15.

Chain-link dome they built to corral balls in their rooftop basketball court

Apparently not people to sit down for a breather, there's also a new book, also titled "Home by Novogratz," coming out on October 9.  You can pre-order it from several retailers now.  The book gives an inside look at twenty of their projects, with tips on how the rest of us can try to mimic their design style.  I believe many of these are the projects we saw last season on HGTV, so that's a bit disappointing.

There's the rug again

I've read that season 2 of their HGTV show will be quite different.  I hope so, as I thought season 1 was a little stale.  The designs were cool, as are the couple and all their kids, but the format of the show just didn't thrill me.  Maybe I just preferred the hour-long shows on Bravo to the half-hour shows on HGTV where we didn't get to see as much of their family interaction.

Are you excited for season 2?  Are you a fan?

And please tell me I'm not the only one whose DVR timers are maxed out.  Please.


Monday, June 4, 2012

My upholstered bed on sale at Joss & Main

I know many of you have commented that you like my upholstered bed with nailhead trim.

If you're interested in purchasing it, and a queen size works for you (mine is king), Joss & Main has a deal for you!  Just click on the link above and look for the Baxton Studios furniture.  It's called the Aisling Platform Queen Bed.  The sale price is just $688.95!

I promise you it looks awesome in person, just like the much-more-expensive Colette bed from Crate & Barrel.

Okay, my bubble was just burst because I discovered that the shipping fees total just less than $170.  The total price ends up being $858.90 in total, which is only slightly cheaper than the price on, where I bought mine for less than the current price.  Tycromedia has free shipping, FYI.

You can shop for it at other places online too, but this is probably the best deal you're going to find.  Hurry, though, as the sale ends Thursday, June 7 at 11am EST.  Be sure to let me know if you pull the trigger!

By the way, if this bed is not your thing, there are other upholstered beds as part of the sale, as well as lots of upholstered chairs and other furniture.


P.S.  If you want to see more photos of my bed, click here.
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