Sunday, August 7, 2016

Fall Farmhouse Tea Towel Pillows

It's almost fall, ya'all! What better way to celebrate the season of cool breezes, crisp apples, colorful leaves and plump pumpkins than with some cozy farmhouse style pillows?

Step 1: Tea Towels
I bought some awesome white towels from Walmart in the kitchen towel section. They are Mainstays
brand Flour Sack Towels in white. The fabric has an awesome farmhouse look and feel. The first step is to IRON your towel. They are very wrinkly, which isn't a bad thing since the look I was going for was casual, but I wanted my image transfer to be crisp.

Step 2: CitraSolv
There is a handy, delicious smelling orange cleaner out there called CitraSolv. It is heavenly! And it's awesome for transferring inkjet printed images onto fabric! **This transfer method does not work with laser printers. Only inkjet. Grab a little glass jar and a small housepaint brush for this.

Step 3: Print your picture... backwards!
I always mess up this step. I printed the entire image on four different sheets of paper before I realized I had forgotten to flip it. I use Photoshop to create a document the same size as my pillow. (In this case, around 22x22 inches). Then I crop each section to fit an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper and print them, line them up and tape them. I'm sorry if this is confusing. You may want to start with an image that can fit a standard sheet of paper... just don't forget to flip it backwards! If you don't have Photoshop, you can do this in MS Word by inserting Word Art, choosing Rotate and Flip Horizontal. You can do it with pictures, too.

Step 4: Transfer the image.
Once you have your (backwards) image place it on the tea towel so the ink is touching the fabric. Make sure it's centered. Tape the corners in place. Then lightly brush the CitraSolv onto the back of the image. Use a tablespoon to rub the image and transfer it to the fabric. After rubbing the entire image, gently lift it to be sure it transferred. It's very difficult to line it up again. I've never been successful doing it.

Step 5: Sew & stuff your pillow! And then repeat and make a few more! :)


The files for these designs are available on my Etsy shop:

Resize as needed and remember to FLIP them so they are backwards before you print! :)

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Junky Toy Truck

So, this weekend was my birthday. Yes, thank you. :) To celebrate, Hubby took me to an event called Junk Jubilee. It's held twice each year at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in a big ole building. The place is just teeming with vendors. So much junk. So many antiques. My mind was exploding from vintage-junky-shabby overload.
We took daughter #2 with us and explored aisle after aisle, row upon row of everything from handmade jewelry to farmhouse finds, pristine antiques to dumpster treasure... and even some fried cheese. Which is awesome, BTW.
I didn't have an agenda. I wasn't looking for anything in particular, but I did manage to find a few things and get a few new ideas (stamped white feathers=LOVE).
My first find was a cute little metal ampersand or "and" sign. It's tiny and gray and perfect. The next find was even better... a chippy metal toy truck. I picked it up and walked around with it for a few minutes. Then set it back down. Then picked it up again to show Hubby and daughter #2.
Twenty-five bucks. I mean, it wasn't a bad price, but with such a cornucopia of antiques at my fingertips, surely I could find one I liked as much.... maybe for less? Right?
My dilemma: one year I went to Junk Jubilee and found an old rusty scale for twelve dollars. I didn't get it, and I'm still kicking myself... even though I now own two rusty antique scales. It's a hoarder thing. And a deal-finder thing.
So, here is this truck. All last Christmas I'm Pinning photos of little metal toy trucks with tiny Christmas trees in the back and thinking, "I'm going to DO that!" Just as soon as I get my mitts on a toy truck.
Now, back to Junk Jubilee. Little toy truck. Just right. But is it too much?
I set it down and decide to look around. If you love something let it go, right? Well, I made it two aisles before we spot a huge display of trucks. Hubby saw it first, and we both rush over for a closer look. They are all cute little metal trucks. I have my pick of any!
New dilemma: I don't really like the color on these. But, they're still in the running. We flip one over to check the price tag. Sixty bucks. OUCH. SIXTY. BUCKS! 
The rest are all similarly priced, and by that time my feet were really killing me. So, I turn a frantic face to Hubby, and he just knows. (Bless that man!)
"I'll get it," he says.
A few minutes later, he came back with a bag carrying my new (old) toy truck.
I regret nothing.
Except the cheese. :)

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Why I'll Never Make Another 3-Tiered Tray. Probably.

My Attempt at Making a Three-Tiered Tray
You've likely been to the home d├ęcor stores and seen all the cute little three-tiered trays. Some are round, some are rectangular. Some are metal, some are wood. But pretty much all of them are... expensive!

For years now, I've been under the impression that I can make/fake just about anything, and I can do it CHEAPER. So, why wouldn't this concept apply to a three-tiered tray? Right?

Wrong. So, so wrong.

When I set out to make my very own farmhouse style tray, I thought it would be very straightforward and simple. Not to mention sooooo much cheaper than the $50-$100 these things cost in stores.

The Trays
The first thing I needed was, of course, the trays. In various sizes. Three of them. First, I searched and searched the thrift stores. I knew I'd seen trays there before. Heck, I'd even bought a couple and made them over. But could I find any this time? No. Not a one. Okay, there was one, but it had ceramic tiles glued to it. Bleck.

So, on to my never-fail source for everything... the Internet! There were LOTS of trays for sale there. On Amazon, Walmart, Ebay. Of course, the new ones were EXPENSIVE. Just to buy three of them, I might as well have purchased the finished product at Hobby Lobby. I needed something CHEAPER!

So, I found a cute set of nesting trays on Ebay. They had a sunflower pattern painted inside and were green outside, but who cared! They were PERFECT. I ordered them and waited for the mail to arrive with my oh-so-awesome thrifty nesting trays.

Well, they arrived. In a very tiny box. We're talking smaller than a piece of printing paper. Hmmm. Yep, upon opening them, I realized they might work for the top and middle tiers of my stand, but definitely not the bottom one. Back to the Internet.

I found another set of nesting trays on Amazon. They were big and got good reviews. A little pricey, but hey, now I was INVESTED. I ordered the trays.

Looking for similar trays?
Take a look at these nesting trays on Amazon

The Middle Pieces
Next, I needed the middle pieces. And what could work better than wooden candlesticks? Now, I
know I'd seen these at the thrift stores at least a hundred times. But could I find any? Yes. Two, in fact.... but that was after I'd already ordered four on Amazon.

Candlesticks on Amazon

This venture was getting awfully pricey. And it was about to get worse. I talked to Hubby about my awesome plan, and told him his role... to make the whole thing stick together in a way that was sturdy and could be carried around. We bought lots of hardware stuff. Metal rods that looked like giant screws and some kind of other screw-thingy for the top and a couple nuts and bolts and what not.

Then Hubby tried to drill a hole through the first, biggest candlestick... and cracked it. We realized drilling a perfectly straight, teensy hole through the middle of three candlesticks requires special equipment that we neither had nor could afford.

So, Hubby came up with method 2. The dowel method. He drilled out the tops and bottoms of the candlesticks and used a dowel to connect them, gluing the whole thing to the trays. See photos because I have no idea how to explain this.

As for the "pretty" bit, I just primed the trays with Zinsser primer. (Except the trays I ordered on Amazon. Those suckers were SHINY. So, I sprayed them with a thin layer of black spray paint first, hoping to add a little adhesive power, then I primed them.) And I painted them in an antique white.  I did the same to the candlesticks. I tried sanding for a distressed look, but because all the trays were different colors, textures, materials, this did not look good. So, I opted to do a dry brush technique.

 Using a dark, charcoal gray acrylic paint (just a Walmart craft paint called "Pavement") I dipped a rough paint brush, wiped it almost dry on a paper towel, then light brushed the trays, letting their texture pull small bits of paint off my brush.

Hubby assembled my trays. They are quite wobbly, but will likely hold together as long as I'm not too hard on them. I AM very happy with the result, but I would NOT do it again. Here's why.
  • This was a lot of work and did not turn out very sturdy.
  • Cost.
A breakdown of the cost:
Small sunflower trays on Ebay: $16
Amazon trays: $20
Candlesticks on Amazon: $16
Candlesticks from thrift store: $4
Dowel: $2
Pricey Hardware: Planning to return. I hope.
Paint and other stuff I had on hand already.

So, in total, this project cost almost $60. Now, granted I could make another tray. I have enough materials. But the price was enough I could have saved lots of time and headache just buying a new one that was sturdy and already assembled.

Lesson learned.

Well... maybe. :)

Read about this Farmers' Market Bench Makeover

Friday, February 26, 2016

Spring Flowers Monogram Wreath

Spring has sprung! Or it will soon. Be ready for it with this pretty monogrammed letter made from cardboard and thrift store flowers. (I used a letter "S" for our last name, but you can make any letter you want!)

I began in Photoshop, creating a file that was twice the size of an 8.5x11 paper (so, 17x22). Then I made a big old letter "S" using Times New Roman. I made it white and added an "outline" effect in black. Then I cropped the top half of the picture to 8.5x11 and printed it. I went to my history and stepped back, then cropped and printed the bottom half.

*If this step feels too complicated for you, try making a smaller letter in a simple program like Word.

After printing, I taped the two halves of my letter "S" together and used an old mailing box as my cardboard. You can use anything you want... a cereal box, shoebox, pizza box, whatever. Then I taped it down and traced it with a pencil. This left an indentation of the letter. If you want something a little more readable, try coloring on the back with charcoal or black crayon and then tracing it.

Next, I cut out my letter "S". I used a bag of Spanish moss (you can get this in Walmart's craft section, usually) and some old roses I found at a thrift store. I took the roses apart (leaves, too!) and piled them according to size. I used the smaller ones on the ends of my letter and bigger roses in the thicker, middle sections. I glued down leaves first, then moss, then just added my roses wherever they made sense, often grouping them in two's and three's.

To hang my monogrammed spring flowers, I used a length of pink rick rack (Walmart sewing section) and taped it to the back of my armoire door with packing tape. :) Classy, I know.

It adds a pretty touch of spring, don't you think?



Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tea-rific Valentines for Seniors & Widows

Today on the Porch, we have SNOW. And snow means working indoors. Since Valentine's Day is fast approaching, I thought it would be fun to make some valentine cards for the seniors and widows at our church.

Of course, all valentines need treats! My first thoughts (naturally) went to chocolate. But chocolate is so very difficult to send through the mail. My next thought was flat candy like laffy taffy or gum. Then I realized it didn't really work with my target audience's diets/dentures. Finally, my thought went to that sugar-free, non-sticky, super flat staple of life... tea!

And I got to work. With help from kiddo #2, a few art supplies and Twinings Tea, I was able to whip up these beauties just in time for Valentine's Day!

To make these tea-rific valentines for seniors, you'll need a few supplies:
All these can usually be found in any craft store or even Walmart's craft section.

I cut pieces of craft paper to fit half the card and combined different patterns to make it interesting. Then I glued the pieces to the blank cards.

Next, I covered the seam where the two pieces of craft paper meet with a strip of washi tape. I wrapped it around the back and inside just a bit.

Kiddo helped me make cute little tea tags out of craft paper and string.

Next, I attached the heart tea tags to the back of the tea bag and looped a couple pieces of tape to the back as well. Then I stuck the bag to the front of the card. Easy peasy!

I added the printable valentine to the inside of the card with a written message.

Finally, I cut a piece of cardstock the same size as the card to cover the tea bag before slipping it into the envelope. I'm hoping this will help it go smoothly through the mail. (One year I used 3-D stickers and they got caught in the mail and sent back to me.)

Beautiful tea-rific valentines for seniors!