31 Jan 2013

A New Look

It's here! This blog has a brand new look.  If you are reading in a reader or via email just click on through to see the big changes.

I did like my old template, but something about it just never felt right.  There was just something off.  I was longing for a cleaner, crisper look that I wasn't getting with the old design.  So, I took it upon myself to design a whole new look.

For some crazy reason (mostly because I am cheap), I took on the whole redesign by myself.  I am sure if you count the man hours that I spent coding, the design would have costs thousands of dollars, but not counting labour costs the whole new design was F-R-E-E.  And you know I love free!

Mr. Google became my new best friend as I leaned more about html coding than I ever thought I would need to know in my life.   It really is amazing what you can kind find on the internet!  Every time I ran into an issue I just typed my question into Google and boom, I could usually find an answer with just a few clicks.   I started with my old template, looked up where every image was hidden in the code and then made my adjustments from there.

Let me give you the grand tour....

The first big change is the width of the post area.  I widened it by almsot 200 pixels, so now I can make my pictures bigger.  Honestly, that was the one thing that promted this whole change - I couldn't modify the old design to accomodate wider images.

Obviously the header is new.  I don't have Photoshop, so I taught myself how to us Pixlr.  Once I got used to Pixlr I was totally addicted.  It's amazing what you can do with that program for free.  In case you are interested, the font is Mari & David, which you can download for free here.

The menu bar at the top has one new addition - the About Me page.

I've been hesitant to have an about me page.  Writing about yourself is hard!  Last month though I participated in the "What I Like About Your Blog" link up at Inspire Me Heather and the feedback I received was that readers wanted to know more about me.  So... reluctantly I wrote all about me/us.

The Projects page is still there, but it's been completely updated.  I was using the inLinkz Link Manager for my gallery before, but then they started charging for the links.  It was only a few dollars a month, but I figured I could save myself that few dollars by coding it myself.   At one point I think my computer was tired of having F bombs yelled at her.  Poor girl!  The Project Gallery was by far the most frustrating and time consuming part of the redesign.  Coding tables in html took a bit of learning.  I am happy with how it turned out though....now I just need to try and keep it updated.

There are amazingly talented graphic designers out there who offer a lot of their clip art for free.  If you are thinking of tackling your own blog design, I highly recommend checking out Pinterest for free digital scrapbook images.  The roses (that are my new post dividers), the polaroid frames and the date circle all came from Persnickety Prints.  I just downloaded the clip art and then played around with it in Pixlr until I had what I wanted.  Pugly Pixel is also a great site for cool free clip art (it's where the flower in my 13 Things series is from).

If you're into this sort of thing I do have a Pinterest board titled Blog Stuff, where I keep these types of resources.  The code to add the Pinterest hover button, how to make a grab button,  and the social media icons I used are there as well.  You're welcome to follow along :)

So there you have it! That's basically all I know about the world of blog design.  I am so happy with the way things turned out though - this design feels so much more me than the old one.

I have tested the layout in a few web browsers, but please do tell me if you see something funky going on so that I can fix it.  I also have a question for you....do you like the mobile sites that Blogger makes? I personally hate them as I like to see the design of the full site.  I still prefer to see the full blog on my phone or iPad instead of the abbreviated mobile version.  I was tempted to disable the mobile site,  but didn't want to do so if you guys like having it.  Any preference?

Would you be interested in a Pixlr tutorial, or how to make your own header?  I could try and wrangle my disjointed coding thoughts together to make a tutorial if you'd be interested.

Have a great weekend!  Chat with ya next week.

29 Jan 2013

Adventure Awaits! Refinished Wooden School Desk

I picked up this little wooden school desk off of Kijiji on New Years Eve.  I know it was New Years Eve because I said I wasn't going to buy any furniture until the new year, and I ended up breaking my own rule by 1 day.  I just couldn't resist!  I saw it for $15 and pounced on it (even though I really shouldn't have even been looking!).  I've seen these types of desks for $50, so $15 was a great deal. 

It is a small desk, which is just perfect for Fin.  She can climb up into it easily and sit there and do her colouring and stickering (ya, that's a word in our house).  

I left it sitting in our living room for a few weeks while I stewed over what to do with it.  It was in rough shape from many years of kid abuse, so I knew it was going to get a paint makeover but was stuck on the colour for quite a while.

Then I found this fabric.  

It's from Stash Modern Fabric, and as soon as I saw it I knew I had to have it.  It helped that it was a pretty great price ($10 for 1.25 yards, which is good for designer fabric).  I ordered the fabric not really knowing what I was going to do with it, except that I was going to use it on the desk. 

I contemplated  Mod Podging it onto the desk top, but eventually talked myself out of it because I was worried that marker would get on it and I wouldn't be able to wipe it clean. I also considered cutting out some of the elements and adding them to side of the desk, but honestly, that seemed like too much work.  While lamenting to my Mom one day, she suggested upholstering the seat.  I was hesitant at first, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.

The seat had seen its fair share of jean rivets over the years, and some of the scratches were quite deep.  It would have taken a heck of a lot of sanding to get it nice and smooth, so upholstering solved the problem (and my arm...).

I took a lot of photos to show you the upholstering process, but in the end I sort of just winged it, so there isn't really much to tell. (and I am sure you can find better tutorials elsewhere)  I used a roll of cotton batting for the padding (foam was too expensive and I cheaped out, plus I was worried about cutting it along the curve).

I stapled 2 layers of batting around the whole seat, and then used another 2 layers just on the top.  Once the batting was on, I then cut the fabric and stapled it on to the back of the seat (I sure do love the staple gun!!!).  One tip is to make sure to cut away the fabric and the batting where the old screw holes are, or you will just end up with the screw stuck in the batting and it will rip the fabric (I know from experience).

**see how professional my corners look???  Clearly I could use a class or something.

As for the desk itself, I wanted it to look authentically old, so I didn't sand it too much.  I filled a big crack on the top with wood filler and then sanded the whole thing down by hand using 80 grit sandpaper.  I then went back over it all with a fine sanding block to smooth it all out from the rough sandpaper.

I primed it using Zinser 1-2-3 primer and then painted on 2 coats of yellow.  The colour is Cornbread by Martha Stewart - it's the same colour that I used for our little end table in the living room, and luckily it matched the fabric perfectly.  Since I didn't need much paint I just bought a little Behr sample pot from the Home Depot and had it colour matched. 

I ended up using my brush on this whole piece since the surface area was so small, and I decided that I didn't really mind the brush strokes with all of the nicks and dings.  

I went back over the edges with a fine sanding block to distress it.  I let some of the white primer poke through on purpose.  Because I used flat latex paint (that's all the sample pots come in), the yellow did change colour a bit where I sanded.  I knew this would happen, so I sort of just went with it.  I actually like the colour variation that it adds.

To finish it off I waxed the whole thing with paste wax - 2 coats on the top and 1 coat everywhere else.

Then I reattached the seat and brought it upstairs.  Fin was so excited.  She loves sitting in it and just grabbing her crayons and colouring books out of the side pocket.

It doesn't really have a home yet.  Right now it's sitting in our living room, and I don't actually mind it there since it matches the end table.  I think one day though it might move into the kitchen so that she can work away while I cook or clean (hardly seems fair...).

I am still a little worried that the seat fabric will get stained, but I have enough left over to probably reupholster the seat 2 more times....and by that time she will have probably outgrown the desk.  I should probably also spray it with a fabric guard, but I haven't been able to find our can of that yet....I know it's somewhere in the abyss of the basement....

I really do love how the pink and the yellow look together.  Glad that I went with yellow and not a full pink desk (which I was seriously contemplating).

I added a little chalkboard label to the side pocket.  It's removable, so it can always come off, or Fin can scribble on it with some chalk.

I know this post is about the desk, but aren't those shoes cute?  They kill me!  Little rocker shoes.  They were a Salvation Army find. $2!!!

I kept the original hardware, just cleaned it up in a little boiling water and baking soda mixture.  It came out sparkling but still old looking (if that's even possible...).

I've been scouring Kijiji for something new to refinish, but so far I haven't found anything.  I guess now I just get to focus on finishing the basement.  Yippie!  (heavy sarcasm)

p.s. new blog design coming up soon....please bear with me as I move a few elements around and install the new template over the next week or so.

Linking to: Miss Mustard Seed

TDC Before and After

26 Jan 2013

In the Middle....

Do you ever feel like you are in the middle of a million projects but are never quite done any of them?  That's where I am at.  Maybe it's because it is the end of January and the middle of winter and I am feeling totally unmotivated - but I just can't gather the gusto.  Or maybe it's that most of the house projects we have left just sort of suck.  They are the piddly projects that you put off.  The ones that are really not much fun.  The ones you leave until you really can't stand it any longer.  Please tell me I am not alone in this. Please.....

Remember our winter to do list? Well we've checked off 2 items (and 2 half items...yes, I measure success in halves). I guess that's not bad, but it's also not great.

We finished 75% of our basement almost 2 years ago.  When Fin was born we needed the space, so we moved our TV and sofa down there, with full intention of finishing off all of the trim and ceiling.  You know how that goes.  You just get used to living with it as it is and forget about the fact that you haven't had baseboards or a ceiling for 2 years.

Notice the play mat turned not-so-good black out shade?  Reduce, reuse, recycle!

Last spring we hung half the ceiling (over the office side of the basement), and now we are working on hanging the rest (mostly I'm just supervising and holding the level while Mr. Swell actually DOES the work!).  We only did half  last year because it's all the spare money we had at the time (unfortunately maternity leave and spare money don't really go hand in hand) and because it felt like more of a winter task than a summer task.

It's a beast of a project.  Hanging the trim around the edges was loud, so it took us forever because we could only do the work while Fin was awake.  Now at least that part is done and the rest is quiet work, so hopefully we can make some progress in the evenings. 

Having a hung ceiling in the stairwell wasn't an option, so we actually hired someone to come in and do all of the drywall (we didn't have the tools to hang drywall that high).

That was a year ago.  I bought ceiling paint over 6 months ago, but still hadn't painted the ceiling, or repainted the walls after the ceiling drywall.

By the way...closed in stairwells are really quite challenging to photograph, aren't they? You should have seen the strange position I had to get in just to try and get the floor and the ceiling all in one shot.    And yes, that ledge is totally my dumping grounds for all things thrifted/left-over that I haven't gotten around to fixing up yet.  I have big plans for all of those items down there....that out-of-focus bull on the left better watch out because I think there is glitter in his future....but I digress....

One very snowy night (when there was nothing good on TV) I finally talked myself into painting it.  If you follow me on Facebook, you knew how excited I was about it :)

True story/confession.....I was getting so hot in the stairwell with that giant roller pole above my head that I actually took my hoodie off and painted most of the ceiling in my bra.  Luckily this picture was taken before that lovely image could have been singed into your brain.  Do what you gotta do, right? 

At least it's looking a little better now.  Now all that's left is finishing up the baseboards (they are filled just not sanded or touched up) and adding the stair nosing.  Easy little stuff.

The other item I crossed off was touching up the paint in our master bedroom.  Since I started blogging I have managed to avoid showing you our master bedroom.  There's a reason.  It was a disgrace.  I painted the whole room a dark navy blue (Behr's December Eve) in October 2010.  I actually had to look on the can of paint to find the date because it felt like it was only a year or so ago, even though it was over 2!

Anyhow, at the time we decided that we were going to switch out the baseboards for nice new 4" baseboards.  So....I slopped paint everywhere and didn't trim in along the baseboard.  Then I got pregnant and was too exhausted to do anything for the next 9 months.  Then we had a baby, and you know how the rest of that story goes.  So, for more than 2 years we lived with it like this.  

Then about a year ago the painting that was on the wall fell down and broke....and as you can see the wall is still empty!

This is real life people...no tidying before I took these photos....clothes are spewing out of the closet, a hello kitty sticker book is on the nightstand and the lamp shade is crushed from a toddler playing with it.

I can't believe I left the sloppy paint that long.  It's embarrassing really.  I dug out the paint, trimmed it all, then repainted the baseboard.  Seriously, it took me less than an hour total.  

Much better.  I still wish there were new baseboards, but this will do for now.  I honestly don't think we will get around to new ones before we decide to move.

I have a few more little plans in here (which hopefully involve new fabric on the valances and maybe some new art) and then I promise that I will show you the whole room.....

In between all of the piddly tasks I have been working away at the little desk for Fin.  I decided to go with Cornbread by Martha Stewart.  It's looking so cute, and I can't wait to show it to you once it's done.  I always have to have one project going that I actually like doing, so that I feel better about the ones that I would rather leave until another day.

So there you go.  That's what we have been up to.  Not very exciting, but the reality of DIYing your way through your house.  

Does anyone else loathe painting ceilings as much as I do?  Please tell me you don't love baseboards!  (if you do you are welcome to come over...I may even feed you)

23 Jan 2013

How Many Items Can You Paint With One Can of Advance?

I've mentioned here before that I love, love, love Benjamin Moore Advance.  It is 100%, my go-to paint  for almost everything except walls, when I am not distressing.  I love how it self-levels.  Even if it looks splotchy while painting, it evens out so nicely within just a few hours.  After curing for a week or so it's also rock hard and can stand some serious wear and tear without using a finishing product such as poly or wax.  

But, Advance is expensive.  Over $50 for a gallon expensive.  I can see how for many people, it would be a hard sell.  You can pick up a gallon of paint at some big box stores for around $20, so spending double that can be an investment   

Well, I thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane to show you how far one can of Advance can stretch.  We bought a gallon of White Dove back in the spring when we finally decided on what colour to paint our cabinets.  It's now January and I still have about 1/5th of the can left - not enough to do a dresser, but enough to paint a couple of picture frames or a shelf.  

As you can see...it's been well used....

We started off the can by painting our kitchen cabinets.

Then we jazzed up our kitchen island with some beadboard and a fresh coat of paint.

Next up was building our new kitchen table.  The legs were painted in White Dove.

**On a side note....looking back on these pictures I am so happy that we decided to paint over the half wall.  That was a big uh-oh moment.

Then I got a little artsy with Inkodye and framed my new art in a custom built frame painted white. 

Moving on to the guest room, I refinished an ugly dresser.  A couple coats of White Dove and a new stencil, and the formerly ugly dresser had a new lease on life.

Lastly, we transformed a hunk o'vaneer desk into a brand new play kitchen for Fin.  White Dove to the rescue again!  

That's 6 projects (one of which was almost a whole kitchen) using only 1 can of paint!  When I bought that gallon back in the spring, I figured that I'd be back at the paint store in a week to buy another gallon just to finish the kitchen.  I had absolutely no idea that I would be painting with White Dove for months and months to come.  I guess me and White Dove are pretty much BFFs at this point.  Good thing I really like the colour.  Now the question is what colour do I buy for my next gallon?

20 Jan 2013

{13 Things}

With the arrival of a brand new year, and the fact that this little blog is only 2 months away from being out of its infancy, I have been thinking quite a bit about where I want the blog to go.  If you read any articles about growing your blog or being a 'successful' blogger, they all seem to boil down to one point - be you.  Be true to yourself.  Be authentic.

BUT, then at the same time they also say to post so many times a week, narrow your content focus, etc, etc, etc.  I compare it to parenting books...you can read it all until you are blue in the face, but then in the end just do what your gut tells you to do.

So, that's what I am going to try and do.  I don't really make new years resolutions, but my goal this year is to not over think this whole blogging thing and just blog about what I like.  Hopefully you like it....and if you don't, I am ok with that.  I have to be, because it's impracticable to think that I can please everyone.

Aaaannnddd....with all that said, I have decided to start a new series called {13 Things}. (get it? 13 things because it's 2013)

I'll warn you now, the 13 things are going to be totally random - just like I am most of the time.  In real life I jump around from topic to topic (much to Mr. Swell's confusion sometimes), so in true Kelly fashion there will be no rhyme or reason to these 13 things.

My hope is that you'll get to know me a bit better, that you'll discover some new things, and that hopefully we can start a bit of conversation about some fun random things.  I'm also halting the Everything Etsy series and am going to incorporate my favourite Etsy finds into the list.

Ready? Cue the air horn....let's go!

1. I started using Adobe Lightroom to edit my photos a few weeks ago.  Talk about a learning experience! I am loving it though, and can't believe what a difference editing can make.

2. I tend to go through fits and spurts with songs. I find a few that I like and I listen to them over and over, and over again.  Right now those songs for me are "I Will Wait" by Mumford and Sons, "Shake it Out" by Florence + The Machine and "Ho Hey" by the Lumineers.  I love the chorus in the 'Ho Hey' - I belong with you, you belong with me, my sweetheart.  So simple, but so meaningful. Check out the video below to see what I mean. 

3. I'm obsessed with this chair from Knack Studio.  Would you have ever guessed that the fabric is from Ikea? 

4. I am very slowly working a total blog redesign behind the scenes.

5. The last movie I saw in theatres was Jack Reacher.  Even though he is a little nutty, I still do love me some Tom Cruise.

6. When I am not at work or the gym I live in these pants.

They are the Studio Pant from Lululemon.  Splurge and buy yourself a pair.  You won't regret it (and if by chance you do, you can just send them to me!).

7. So far so good with the line a day journal.  2 weeks in and I have managed to not miss a day (which is actually quite a miracle considering my memory these days).

8. Thanks Adam for your words of wisdom.  You and your shirtless tattooed self are able to send quotes my way any time you'd like.  This one is actually quite true though.

9. I wish my alarm didn't go off at 5:40 every weekday morning!

10. My new favourite snack is chia seeds soaked in coconut milk.  Yes, it's a little bit hippy granola-ish of me, but I think it's just delicious.  If you like tapioca or rice pudding give it a try.

11. I've made a conscious decision to try and limit Fin's face on the blog.  I struggle with how much of her to share with the big bad internet.  She's such a part of my life that I don't want to pretend she doesn't exist, but I am also not super comfortable posting her picture a million times. You'll still see her every once a while, but it might often be the back of her head shot.  By the way, Fin isn't her full name...another thing I've decided to keep off the internet (although you may catch it in a photo here or there...).

12. I ordered this fabric from Stash Modern Fabrics.  My plan is to use it on a little desk for Fin.  If you follow me on Facebook then you may have read (or participated in) the big debate that I am having with myself.  Pink or yellow?  Yellow or pink?  I seriously can't decide,and each morning I come down and look at the paint swatches I change my mind.  Stay tuned...hopefully I'll have a finished project before Fin out grows the desk. (And thanks to those of you on Facebook for chiming in....I love hearing what you think.)

Stash Modern Fabric

13.  After writing out the last 12 things I sat here trying to decide if 13 is too many and if this post is too long.  I thought about articles I have read that said people's attention spans on the internet are teeny tiny.  They suggest writing in short sentences with lots of punctuation.  I reminded myself of my statement at the top  - just do what I feel is right in my gut.  My gut says 13.  

Anything you've been wanting to get off your chest?  What's your favourite snack? (chia seeds by chance?)  Do you live in Lululemon pants too?  Do you hate the number 13?  Do you like this little series, or would you rather I stick to only DIY stuff?

17 Jan 2013

Emerald Green and Gold Dresser

Her name is Megan.  As in Megan Draper from Mad Men.  She's mod and hip, but with a slight throwback to a classic style.  And watch out, because she may just get up and sing a crazy version of  Zou Bisou Bisou in your living room (Mad Men fans out there - I know you totally get it!).

Maybe I'm getting a little too into naming my furniture?  Mr. Swell already thinks I'm nuts, so it's ok if you do too.  Just go with it.

Here she is before.

I've actually had this dresser for years.  It was my first big purchase after I graduated from University.  It came as a set with a mirror, a bed frame, a high dresser and 2 night stands.  The mirror is still up in our entryway, the bed frame is long gone and the high dresser and night stands are in our master bedroom. This dresser was in Fin's room until a few weeks ago when we made a little switcheroo (more on that coming up soon).

I considered just selling it as it was, but figured with a little paint I could sell it for much more.

I filled all of the gouges with wood filler and sanded them smooth, then scuffed the whole thing up a bit with a sanding block and then gave it coat of primer (Zinsser 1-2-3 latex).  Once the primer was dry, I gave it 3 coats of Benjamin Moore Advance in Emerald Isle.

I added liquid gold gilding around the outer frame.  I've used Liquid Leaf in the past, but this time I used Martha Stewart brand in Brass. I couldn't tell a difference between the 2 brands. The instructions always recommend using a brush, but I prefer to use a rag wrapped around my finger to apply the gilding (tip - wrap your finger in plastic wrap first to prevent having a completely gold finger).

It's not perfect and some of the green shows through, but that just gives it character.

I kept the same hardware, just changed it from silver to gold by using the same gilding.

I normally prefer to spray paint hardware, but this time I wanted it to be an exact match to the gold around the frame, so gilding it was.

I am completely in love with the colour.  It's the perfect green.  It's bright and bold but not obnoxious.  A win in my books. 

If it wasn't for Mr. Swell continually reminding me that I started this project to sell it, I probably would have redecorated our master bedroom to make this work in it.  I was tempted....believe me. 

Megan is now reluctantly for sale, so as always, if you live in the Edmonton area and want Megan in your life please drop me a line.  ****Update: Sold****

***not really my choice to photograph this in front of a window, but it was the only wall in our house that was big enough with any decent light!  It challenged what little photography skills I have - that's for sure!

P.S. Interested in Pinning an image from my site?  It's easier now. Just hover over the image and a Pin It button will appear.  Click on the image, choose your board and boom - Pin created!

Linking to: Miss Mustard Seed

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