Sunday, February 18, 2018

Valentine Gifts That He Actually Wants

Gift ideas for a guy... that he really wants!

Valentine Gifts for Him 
It's not easy shopping for a guy on Valentine's Day. Pink hearts and stuffed animals don't really appeal to most men. So, what does a guy really want? Here are some ideas that are sure to put a smile on your man's face without taking away his man card.

Knife Cabinet | ReclaimerDesign on Etsy
My own hubby has an ever-growing collection of knives. For years they were kept in an old box in the basement. What better way to say you care about his interests than helping him to display them in a classy handmade case?

Engraved Pocket Knife
And speaking of knife collections, add a personal touch with this engraved knife.

Beard Balm
I bought this for Hubby. At first he was resistant to the idea, but it just smells so good and is perfect for keeping those bristles in check! No more scratchy kisses.

Give him the gift of comfort with these soft, cozy slippers.

Docking Station | GretaOtoDesign on Etsy
Wallet, watch, phone, keys, glasses... have you ever heard your man reciting this list as he frantically searches his nightstand? No more! Give the gift of organization with this personalized docking station.

Engraved Compass | SFDizayn on Etsy
Love is a great adventure! Inside every man is an explorer. Bring out his adventurous side with engraved compass!

Chocolate Oreos Gift Box
What Valentine's gift would be complete without a box of chocolates? But don't settle for just any candy. Indulge him with these decadent Oreos!

Treasure Chest of Coffee
Show him he is your greatest treasure with this trunk filled with delicious coffees!

For that very special Valentine's Day... If you're really looking to WOW him, check out these Bose headphones.

A Sensual Valentine
Finally, this fun DIY gift is full of possibilities! Show him how exciting love can be with a collection of gifts for all 5 senses!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

How to Make New Wood Look Weathered

How To Make New Wood Look Weathered & Old

So, I bought Hubby a new saw for Christmas, and boy what a good investment it turned out to be! It's so easy to use, and he was so excited to try it, that I somehow managed to talk him into building me a farmhouse console out of pine 2x4s! What a deal!

I knew beforehand that I wanted to give the console a weathered wood look. So, I experimented with some techniques. Here is what I ended up with.

I started by trying to decide if I wanted to stain the wood with a dark walnut or a weathered gray. After painting swatches on the back of my console, I decided to start with the dark walnut. The gray looked too much like gray paint to me and it wasn't the look I was going for. I wanted a layered look so ultimately the console would look as if it was made from wood that had been painted and left out in the elements.

The first step was to stain the entire console with Dark Walnut Minwax Stain.

How To Make New Wood Look Weathered & Old

When the stain was dry, I dry brushed a layer of the weathered gray stain over it. To dry brush, I lightly dipped the brush in the stain, then wiped it on a cloth to get most of the stain off. Then I lightly wiped the brush across the wood, letting the texture pull small amounts of stain from the brush. The point is to get a light, layered look, NOT to cover the piece completely. This left plenty of dark stain showing through. You can play around with this on the back of your piece or a practice board to see what works for you.

Finally, when the gray stain was dry, I dry brushed white acrylic paint over the other two layers, again letting the wood grain pull the paint from the brush very lightly.

How To Make New Wood Look Weathered & Old: Farmhouse Console Table

How To Make New Wood Look Weathered & Old: Farmhouse Console

Overall, I like the effect, but the piece seems a little busy to me. I think I will probably paint the entire bottom of the console white and just leave the top weathered. What do you think?

How To Style Industrial Farmhouse Bookshelves

How To Style Industrial Farmhouse Bookshelves

I'm a sucker for what many people call "junk." Give me something old and rusty, and I swoon. So, it's no surprise that I would use it to decorate my bookshelves. Here's a little look at some of my found items.
How To Style Industrial Farmhouse Bookshelves

One of my favorite finds, my vintage Underwood typewriter was all but buried in the basement of an antique store. I couldn't pass it up. As a children's author (check out the Villain School Books), typewriters are near and dear to my heart. This one had so much character, too!

How To Style Industrial Farmhouse Bookshelves

The roller skates came from a thrift store, as did the antique books, tackle box and clocks. The wooden crates were junk-day finds... people left them on their curbs with the trash.

How To Style Industrial Farmhouse Bookshelves

The "Cooper" street sign came from a town we lived in for a while. The city was replacing old street signs and had a huge pile! I talked one of the street department employees into giving me one. I asked for the whole pile, but they said it was already promised somewhere else. Bummer!

How To Style Industrial Farmhouse Bookshelves

How To Style Industrial Farmhouse Bookshelves

Do you collect vintage items? What's your favorite "junk" piece?

How To Make A Lake House Sign

How To Make A Lake House Sign

How To Make A Lake House Sign
Recently, Hubby and I moved to a house on a lake. It really was a dream come true. We'd always talked about what it would be like to wake up and see the sun on the water, to watch the storms roll in and whip up the waves. Of course, we never believed we could actually afford it. So, when an opportunity came up, we jumped at the chance!

Waking up to lake views is pretty amazing, but there's another element to lake life that I hadn't really thought about until we moved in... decorating! There are so many fun elements to lake house décor. It's like a blend of cabin-y woods and boats and anchors. Of course I don't want to go overboard (pardon the pun). Too much theme-y décor can start to feel cheesy. But a little sailboat here or anchor there can add just the right touch of lakehouse to my usual farmhouse style.

And that is where this sign comes in. I wanted to acknowledge our lake home without painting everything blue and putting up lake themed décor everywhere. I think it's a nice nod to lake life.

To Make This Sign You Will Need:
  • 1x1 wood boards for the frame
  • Flat wood (There are lots of options here. I used old wall paneling that we just flipped over.)
  • Screws, nails or nail gun
  • Picture hanging hardware (such as these)
  • Paint or stain for the frame (I used Rust-Oleum Carbon Gray stain)
  • Acrylic craft paint for the words
  • White latex paint or craft paint for the background
  • Paintbrushes and craft paintbrushes
  • Willow charcoal or pencil

Step 1: Assemble The Frame
Hubby assembled the wood frame. Ours is 4 ft. long to fit our fireplace, but you can make it any size you want. Cut equal top and bottom pieces. Then cut equal side pieces. Screw the side pieces onto the top and bottom pieces of the frame. Cut the flat wood panel to fit behind the frame. Make it just a bit smaller so the frame hides the edges, but so you can still attach it.
DO NOT attach the frame to the paneling yet.

Step 2: Stain the Frame
Using a workspace, stain the frame. I get the weathered wood look by lightly brushing the stain across the wood, leaving some of the wood unstained. It's extremely easy. You  might want gloves for this part. You could also use craft paint. I don't bother staining the back as no one will see it.

Step 3: Paint the Flat Wood Panel Piece
I painted the panel white with latex interior white satin paint. White craft paint would work, too. It took a few coats to completely cover the wood.

How To Make A Lake House Sign

Step 4: The Words
To add the words "Live Love Lake" to the sign, I used Photoshop. But you could probably use Microsoft Word. Just choose a font. I used "You Are Loved" font. And choose a size that makes sense for your sign and the space where it will hang. I printed off the letters a page at a time and then assembled them with tape, laying them out on my sign for a good fit.

Flip the assembled words over and use willow charcoal or a pencil to color on the back. TIP: I hold the sign up to a window so I can see the letters through the paper. Then I only color where the letter is. Once the back of each letter has been colored, flip the words back over and lay them gently on your flat white wood piece.

Tape them into place and trace each letter with a pen or pencil to transfer it to the wood sign. I re-trace the letters with pencil after they've been transferred, then use a cloth to wipe away the charcoal.

Finally, paint the letters with black acrylic paint and a small, flat artist paintbrush. When the letters are dry, I use the white background paint on a large paintbrush. Dip it lightly in the paint and then wipe it almost dry on a paper towel. Lightly pull the brush across the words. This is a "dry brush" technique that makes the words look weathered.

How To Make A Lake House Sign

Step 5: Assemble
Once it is dry, use a nail gun to attach the flat piece to the frame. Attach hanging hardware to the back of the frame, too, one on each side. And you're done!

How To Make A Ginormous Lake House Sign

How to Make Your Own Coffee Bar

How To Make a Coffee Bar of Your Very Own

How to Make Your Own Coffee Bar
Coffee. We all need it. But those bulky brewers take up so much counter space! Not to mention all the accessories: cups, coffee, sugar, creamer, munchables... and don't get me started on tea, coffee's weaker-yet-just-as-necessary cousin. So, how do you get that junk off your counter and still have a cute, delicious place to store it all? A coffee bar, of course! They are all the rage these days, and why not? If you're not into coffee, try a tea station, snack station or cocoa bar! It's all good!
Here's a peek at my coffee station and some ideas for building one of your own.

My coffee station was born out of necessity. Our kitchen is teensy weensy and counter space is like prime seaside real estate. It doesn't come cheap. There was no way our coffee pot was going to fit on the counter with things like a microwave and dish drainer fighting for space. The solution was to make a coffee bar.

How To Make a Coffee Bar of Your Very Own

Start With Furniture That Fits Your Space
First, you'll need a space for your coffee bar. Some place with an outlet and a nearby water source. Mine is in an odd little nook just off our kitchen, probably meant as a small dining area. I already had the table (a Craigslist find). And I even had the bonus drop-leaf table from a thrift store. Your needs may be different. Either way, any piece of used furniture will probably do the trick. Think antique dressers, vanities, desks. Start with a substantial piece of furniture and build your bar around it!

Next? Accessorize!
What kinds of things would make your coffee bar work better? I use a wooden crate as a kind of shelf. Inside is a space for coffee storage, including a penny candy jar. Above is a three-tiered tray for holding k-kups,  jars for tea with cute little chalk labels, and Hubby's favorite sweet sesame snacks. But you could just as easily add a plate rack or cup rack depending on your needs. Beneath the coffee maker is a tray to catch spills.

How To Make a Coffee Bar of Your Very Own

Beneath, an old crate and apple basket complete the look.

How To Make a Coffee Bar of Your Very Own

I also have a wood cubby shelf for holding coffee cups and other decorative knick-knacks. I got mine at Hobby Lobby. You can also find a similar one on Amazon here. A baby snowy owl, small ampersand and owl mug cozy peek out from their cubbies. A lantern and boxwood wreath add a decorative touch.  You could also add a chalkboard or sign. Get creative.

How To Make a Coffee Bar of Your Very Own

What are your favorite accessories for a coffee, tea or cocoa bar?

How To Make a Coffee Bar of Your Very Own

How To Decorate A Bookshelf For Spring

How to Decorate a Bookshelf for Spring

How to Decorate a Spring Bookshelf
I have a love-hate relationship with our built-in bookshelves. When we first moved into our lake house less than a year ago, I was so excited for the built-ins. All that storage! Of course, it meant downsizing our furniture and getting rid of some beloved pieces. The trick is, these built-ins aren't very versatile. I can't exactly fill them with all my "junk" because it makes them look very messy.

And the space between shelves is kind of small. I can hear what you're thinking. "They're adjustable, dummy. Just move the shelves!" Well, when we moved in, we were in a bit of a hurry. Hubby had just transferred from Wisconsin back to Iowa, and we needed a house lickety-split. So, I set my kiddos to painting double-quick. And, if you adjust any of these shelves, you will find an unpainted stripe behind them. I know. I need to fix that, but I'm kind of swamped with other projects at the moment. So... the shelves stay where they are. For now.

The good news is my tiny, static shelves mean I get to bring you decorating known-how for your own bookcase.

Here are some tips for decorating your bookshelf for spring:

How to Decorate a Bookshelf for Spring

I chose a color scheme that goes well with my farmhouse style and with spring: white, black, gray and tan with a smidge of greenery thrown in. I played with the idea of using my robins eggs (which are aqua colored), but they just didn't match. Too many colors make a space look cluttered. A nice, neutral scheme gives it a clean look.

How to Decorate a Bookshelf for Spring

Theme & Style
Don't go overboard with a theme, but incorporate it using your style. My style is farmhouse and my theme is spring. So, I incorporated elements of spring like birds, greenery and flowers into my existing farmhouse elements which include wire baskets, galvanized metal, wood signs and old books.

How to Decorate a Bookshelf for Spring

Choosing Decor
When decorating this shelf, I collected my favorite things and made a pile on my dining table, choosing what would fit best in my space and with my colors/theme. Some items didn't make the cut. It's important to tell yourself, "I'll just use this somewhere else." Also, a bookshelf is for displaying items, not storage. If you have a gazillion tatty old paperback books (like I do), store them out of sight. Despite its name, a bookshelf does not often store actual, readable books. The books on my shelf are vintage collectibles, chosen for their aesthetic. If you do need to store books or other items, try hiding them in crates or baskets.

How to Decorate a Bookshelf for Spring

This is the trickiest part of decorating a bookshelf. How to make it look full, but not cluttered. Clean, but not skimpy. Balanced, but not too matchy-matchy. I played around with my collection of items, trying things here and there. I used the triangle or zig-zag method. The wire baskets form a triangle or zig-zag pattern. So do the wood items with words: "garden" "herb garden" & "bloom". I also scattered birds, greenery and flowers throughout. When decorating your shelf, try grouping like items on your table, then place them in the zig-zag/triangle pattern on your shelf to draw the eye back and forth up the shelf and give balance. Don't place two large items close together. I also like to put larger items on the bottom to anchor the shelf, and smaller ones on top to draw the eye upward.

How to Decorate a Bookshelf for Spring

Create Groupings
Use smaller items in conjunction with larger ones. I filled a galvanized tray with vine balls, a small moss topiary and a bird in her nest. I also used books as a base for holding other items.

How to Decorate a Bookshelf for Spring

Final Tips
  • Don't forget those spring touches of greenery, flowers and birds & nests! Other spring themed items might be vintage garden tools, Easter bunnies, eggs, flowering branches, etc.
  • Shop your house for items in your color scheme: crates, baskets, bowls, pitchers--anything can be cute when paired with other items.
  • If your books don't match, think about painting the covers or covering them with craft paper. Turn the spine toward the back of the case, letting the faded pages show.
Remember above all to showcase your own style and have fun!

How to Decorate a Bookshelf for Spring