Thankful Tree: A Schmitt House Interpetation

I think the blogosphere pretty well covered this project last year, but the my house did not get around to it then. This year, however, I’m happy to report The Schmitt House has incorporated a new tradition into the month of November. A thankful tree!

If you’ve never heard of a thankful tree, the premise is simple; You begin with a bare ‘tree’ and add ‘leaves’. On each leaf is a little note about what you (or whoever) is thankful for.

Every day, I force  everyone takes a minute and tries to think of one thing they are grateful for. No repeating allowed (my rule).It’s really cute to ask Kennedy what she’s thankful for, she started out with answers like “Tinkerbelle” and “Fruit snacks” but recently she’s shifted her responses to be more people-oriented, like “Papa.” It seems even the two-year-old is getting something out of our new tradition! By the way-, she has yet to say she is thankful for Mommy, but I didn’t really expect it, anyway. I’m have another twenty years before she feels any gratitude toward me.)

As for the construction, it was super easy. I went outside, gathered a bunch of sticks and tied one end together with a ribbon. Then I poured some coffee beans in a vase and stuck my stick bouquet in. For the leaves, I used a circle punch and a hole punch on some left over fall-ish colored card stock. Then I grabbed a bunch of sharpies (also fall-ish themed) and stuck them in the coffee beans too. Easy peasy.

I’m so proud of myself for doing this! Every year I say I’m going to go all out, and really make the house magical for the holidays. And every year it seems we barely get our tree up in time for Christmas Eve, much less set up a mantle, or hang mistletoe… Heck, we are lucky get the all Christmas presents wrapped in time! So this my friends is a new beginning for the holiday season!

It’s a great tradition! (I’ll be sad to see it go!) What holiday traditions have you started? Did you do a thankful tree? Or are there any traditions you’ve been meaning to start, but haven’t gotten around to it? Can you believe turkey day is only about a week away? Where did the time go?

Reader Vote: What looks best?

When this little blog started there was a corner of my living room that I am ashamed to say it looked this:

Now I am pleased to say it looks like this:

It’s not fabulous (yet!), but this little corner has definitely (finally!) graduated out of eyesore category. We’ve painted and paired down and cleaned up. We’ve also pulled some furniture switcheroos  (That dresser lived in our bedroom until last Saturday.)  It’s time to add a little pizzazz!. A little art to fill the space above the electronics. Nothing too flashy, after all, it can’t compete with the TV  or the new gallery on the staircase (will be posting about that soon!)

Another current. Full frontal this time.

Now here’s where I need your help. I’ve scoured the web for inspiration. And I’ve got a bunch of ideas. Problem is, I’m having trouble picking a direction. I played around in Photoshop to see what looks best. (Please excuse my mediocre Photoshop skills.) What do you think?

Option 1: Graphic Art

I love the idea of a pretty little message to remind me of the little things that are really important. This one comes from http://www.behance.net/gallery/MACHEETE-Posters/4664583

Option 2: Abstract Art

I’m not sure, but I think the abstract art might be my favorite. A pop of color. This brilliant piece was found at http://zacharybrown.wordpress.com/category/abstract-paintings/18-x-24/#

Option 3: Wood Poster

I like this option because of the amazing texture combined with the personalized silhouettes. This idea comes from http://www.infarrantlycreative.net/2012/03/pallet-art-silhouette.html, along with a tutorial!

So, tell me, which one, if any, makes your spine tingle?

Option 1: Graphic Art.

Option 2: Abstract Art

Option 3: Wood Poster

Feel free to offer any other suggestions too! And thanks for your help! I can’t wait to see the results!

Paper Mache Safari {My DIY Zebra Head}

I spotted this image a couple weeks ago.

And, instantly, I fell head over heels in love. It would be perfect for the munchkin’s room! It’s by Dwell Studios,. You can purchase it on their website. Unfortunately for me, they sell it for a whopping 76 buckeroos. Don’t get me wrong- I think that’s a fair price for such a delight, but I don’t have that kind of money budgeted to spend on faux taxidermy.  Despite the price, I couldn’t get this little guy out of my head. It has been forever since I’ve done anything so thoroughly creative, and the idea of attempting it myself was a little intimidating  But I got over it.

And here’s what I came up with….

Dum- de- dum-dum….

So what do you think? It’s far from perfect, but I think it’s awesome. So awesome, that I kind of want to make more, like a lot more, like a different animal for each room in the house. (Can you imagine a ducky head for the bathroom? Intense!)

But back to this one. Here’s how I did it:

Step 1. I formed a zebra-head-like shape from gridded wire and garden wire (both found in the garden section an Lowes). Some people preferred to use chicken wire. I choose to use the gridded wire partly because it is sturdier, but mostly because I already had it on hand. This step takes some serious patience. It took me about to weeks to form a zebra-head-like shape that I was mildly happy with. And make sure that you wear some heavy gloves, that wire is painfully sharp.

Step 2. Duct tape. This was mostly a safely precaution. I didn’t want those sharp wire ends to have a chance to cut my almost two year old’s hands. As for how much tape- I just kept layering until the whole thing felt smooth.

Step 3. Modge Podge and Newspaper. My muse was covered with French text. As hard as I looked, couldn’t find a foreign newspaper in anywhere in Baton Rouge. I even looked for foreign books at Goodwill. Nothing. So I had to settle with two copies of the USA Today. I cut them into strips and got to glueing. I used a foam brush to apply the glue. It was the first time I’d ever used Modge Podge. And I’ve jumped on that gravy train! Love it. I only wish I’d had more experience with it. If I ever decide to paper mache a giraffe head, I’ll definitely put of couple coats of Modge Podge on before applying paint. (I only applied one coat.)

Step 4. Paint. I used ‘Carnival Pink’ by Americana craft paint. (Although, if I ever do if again, I’ll probably use something thicker. The craft paint took 5 coats for good coverage)I tried to draw the stripes on with pencil, but it was a fail because I couldn’t see them. So I took my paint brush and winged it. I tried my best to create equal amounts of positive and negative amounts of space.

Step 5. More Modge Podge. As recommended on the bottle, I applied 5 coats, at 20 minute intervals, for a final finishing coat.

To hang it I punched a hole in the bottom. I took some wire and wrapped one end around the gridded wire on the inside and formed a loop with the other.

Then I hung it from a small nail.

Back to the eye candy…

It’s like he’s watching over Kennedy as she plays.

And I swear, when we read in the rocking chair, it’s like the zebra is paying close attention. I’m not sure if it’s a creepy or charming accident.

So what about you? How do you feel about this whole paper mache animal head trend?Love it or hate it? Have you done anything crafty lately? Are you obsessed with any animal heads?

Unlimited Potential…

I’m pleased to say I made a thrift store big score the other day!

Feels very 70’s, no? Makes me want to put my hair up in a beehive and put on some go-go boots.

I’ll be the first to say it- this baby needs a lot of work. But it’s got great bones, and it was built to last. And for $9.99- it was a bargain too good to pass up! I’ve already begun tearing her apart. I can’t wait to see where this project goes.

I’m not sure where it’ll end up- initially, I was thinking I’d paint her candy apple red and stick her by the fireplace in the living room. But I’m beginning to think she’ll fit nicely in the corner of our bedroom. I haven’t found the right fabric to reupholster with yet and that, in the end, will probably be the deciding factor.

In the meantime… here’s a little chair inspiration:

reupholstered chair tutorial from YHL blog @Sherry @ Young House Love---i was just gifted a long antique bench that has to be done in a very similar way as your chair...this tutorial came at the perfect time! #younghouselove #diyReupholstered chairred chairchair reupholsteredred chair

http://www.younghouselove.com/http://www.designsponge.com/2011/06/before-after-reupholstered-chair.htmlhttp://www.bowerpowerblog.com/http://darlingoctopus.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/make-me-pretty-a-victorian-chair-made-kid-friendly/http://www.findingfabulousblog.com/2011/07/chic-chair-revamp.htmlhttp://ohmigoshblog.blogspot.com/2010/06/my-red-and-turquoise-obsession.html

Huzzah!! I Built A Giant Purple Ottoman

I have been working on this project for ages(, I began my Ottoman scheming way back in January!)  I’ve sat down to write about it about a billion times, but either out of eagerness or frustration… the posts never got written. But now, finally, I’m relieved to say, it’s done! And I am so beyond happy to share it!

You may remember from this post that I was looking for a way to hide better way to store our DVD’s and electronic accessories. This mess was just not working for me.

The ottoman seemed to be the best solution. It would store the clutter and, bonus, act as a much needed coffee table. But the ottoman couldn’t be just any ottoman, it had to be large enough to balance out our enormous couch and be durable enough to stand up to two dogs and a toddler. And be pretty.That seriously limited the options. Bring in the family-of-three-living-on-a-grad-student’s-salary budget factor and the options were virtually eliminated. Just as I was going back to square one, I stumbled across the old old bones of a kitchen cabinet (,we pulled it down when we first moved in,) collecting dust in the corner of the garage. I pulled it into the living room and.. perfection! It was like it was meant to be.

When Devin got home I proposed my plan to him. He told me that I needed to get my head checked. But, like a good husband, he pulled his tools  dutifully got to work when the weekend came. Eventually, it came transformed into this:

(I think the dog preferred it at this stage.)

Complete with wheels, two of which have locking mechanisms.

Then came a layer of half inch foam and two layers of half inch batting. This baby is plush! Then the fabric. For the top, I used three inch foam and two layer of half inch batting. This was my first upholstering project. It was daunting. I think I used over (no joke) 3,000 staples. I kind of wish I’d started with something more practical, like the seat of a chair. But that’s not my style. Go big or go home, right? It took a little while, but (after the first 1000 staples) I got the hang of it.

If you are looking into building your own ottoman, here’s a few links I found very helpful:

http://lessthanperfectlifeofbliss.blogspot.com/2011/10/diamond-tufted-ottoman-whew.html

http://www.soulstyle.ca/word/ladders-ottomans-oh-my

http://www.cheeseisgoodfood.com/2009/04/diy-ottoman.html

I also watched a ton of Youtube videos.

The top didn’t go as planned. I had my heart set on diamond tufting. It was too much for a novice like me. I think the problem started when the three inch foam didn’t properly adhere to the plywood (I used spray adhesive.) It made it impossible to properly measure and align things. Then I got frustrated. It only went downhill from there. Objects were thrown. There may or may not have been some shouting. By the time I gave up, the foam was pock marked with holes. It looked pretty hopeless. I should have taken a picture for you, but I was just too mad.

I thought about going out and buying a fresh piece of foam… but those things are expensive. Even with a coupon, the first one cost 40 big ones. At this point I wasn’t sure my dream ottoman would come to fruition, and I wasn’t will to invest any more in the project. So here’s my dirty little secret: I used the holey foam. And with two layers of batting and a layer of tightly pulled fabric, my secret is safe. The whole top feels perfectly even. No indication of my failure.

While we are on the subject of trials and tribulations…. It’s not over yet. Our first hinge attempt = total failure. I picked up a cheap piano hinge from Lowes. We spent two hours one Sunday night attaching it. When we stood back and surveyed our work, it was obvious that the top wasn’t completely square to the bottom. Devin suggest that we apply a little pressure and bend the metal (it was just a smidge!) I’m sure you can see were this is going. A little “pressure” bent the hinged and pulled the screws out from the ottoman top. So learn from our mistakes, (as obvious as they seems now,) and make sure your hinge is sturdy and your screws are long enough. Otherwise bad words get said and more objects get thrown.

But enough of the negative. Let’s look at some pretty ‘after’ pictures.

A close up of the ‘folding and tucking’

And with a little foot action:

The Munchkin loves her some giant purple ottoman too!

I don’t think I ever told you how actually big it is….somewhere around 38″x50″. Monstrous. Baby girl likes to spread out take naps on it. (By ‘naps’, I mean pretend naps… If only it were that easy…)

So that’s our Ottoman building adventure.

Truth be told… It’s not truly finished yet. The inside still needs some polishing. But, in the meantime, I am so excited to put down the staple gun and put my feet up. And I can’t wait to put those DVD’s inside. It’s going to be amazing.

So what about you? Have you tried any crazy DIY’s lately? Anyone else ever experience upholstering obstacles? Or used a crazy number of staples? Any one else having trouble finishing projects in a decent length of time?

A Little Piece of Paradise

This weekend we took advantage of this amazing weather. It wasn’t all play though…. we spent the better part of Sunday mowing, weeding, planting and digging up roots. I want to say the yard looks great, but I guess that’s a relative term. A truer statement is that it looks better than it has in a long time.

We’ve never really taken advantage of the backyard, (other than letting the pups run wild back there,) Now that I am the larger half of a Mommy- Munchkin duo that spends 80% of our time at home, I’m ready to transform it to a little bit of paradise. Luckily, Kennedy’s paradise involves sunshine and a little bit of water… and my paradise primarily involves sitting back and watching her splash around. With a floppy hat. No vision of paradise is properly complete without a floppy hat. I also see a few wildflowers and maybe even a small eating area.

Nothing too complicated.

Instead of writing about a plan of action, I thought I’d show you.

The first step is already complete. Remember the seeds Little Lady and I planted?(Here) Well they’ve grown into a 4’x4′ raised vegetable garden. In fact, we had to build a second bed because there wasn’t enough room for all the plants. (FYI<,The beds are beds were built from 8 foot 1×8’s that were cut in half at the store. Devin put three nails in each corner to secure it. We dug out an area, placed the box, covered the inside area with newspaper, then filled it with the recommended amount of soil. Easy peasy.)

If you scroll back up to the first picture you’ll probably be able to guess why the second bed has no plants. We noticed some suspiciously three leafed plants growing along that back fence. A quick check with google confirmed that it’s poison oak.  Yikes! Again. This morning I bought a spray bottle that’s supposed to eliminate the stuff. Just waiting on the hubby to come home and spray it. I’ll let you know how it works. Once it’s gone, Keneddy and I will go play in the dirt, and plant some green beans.

I also bought some wildflower seeds this morning. Once all those various things leaned up against the fence are gone. I’ll spread them along the border. Hopefully it will create a sea of color that requires little or no maintenance.

This is where we spend all our time right now (far, far away from anything with three leaves.) I call it “the nook.”

I’d like to add those wildflowers and maybe a stone pathway. (Currently it’s a dirt pathway. Courtesy of our fourlegged family members.)  It may also be a good place for a small bistro table, but I haven’t really decided yet….

And finally, the heart of my paradise to be.

I’d love to DIY a canopy( a la this one from Prudent Baby). And then plop a small pool and comfy chair down. And enjoy.

And that’s it. I know it’s simple to the extreme, but my green thumb has a tinge of brown. And we’ll be moving in a year or so, so I  can’t see it being more worth my while to build a grand gazebo or carve out an intricate stone path.

What about you? Do you use your backyard? What’s your idea of paradise?

Flower Power, an Easter Tradition?

New Year’s Resolution # 5- Decorate the house for every holiday.

Ok, confession, I lost the list. I’m not sure what number it was but I know the resolution was on there. And so far I’ve failed miserably at it. I really, really want to get into the spirit of every holiday for the munchkin’s sake. I want her childhood to be nothing short of magical, and holidays are like a shortcut to magic. But it takes time… and planning. I better start prepping for the 4th now.

While we managed to squeeze in  something like 5 separate Easter Egg Hunts, we didn’t hang a single Easter decoration. It was mainly because I arrived home (after 5 weeks away) three days before Easter. No time to get creative and I wasn’t about to spend a ton of cash on something that would be marked 50 percent off with in a fortnight. It’s a pale substitution, but here’s what we did instead:

Bright yellow flowers. (They are zinnias, maybe?)

And bright purple tulips.

They may not spell out Happy Easter, and can’t be draped across the mantle, but they are most certainly the very definition of spring. And fresh flowers make everyone a little happier. (I’d be willing to bet there is a study out there that proves this!) And in total it cost about 6.00 dollars. I am still determined to one day hang an Easter wreath on my door (and perhaps display an Easter Bunny in every room), but perhaps this year is the first year of of a new Schmitt House tradition, the tradition of Easter Flowers (although maybe we could tweak the tradition so they are purchased by a very thoughtful husband… ahem.. that’s a hint my dear. You know we never get anything perfect the first time.)

So what are your traditions? And how did they come about? Tell me all about them! Obviously, I need some ideas! And how are your resolutions coming along? Am I the only one still thinking (from time to time) about them?