June 27, 2011

Greenery In Glass

I have seen this idea several times in various ways in magazines, at my daughter-in-law's home, and in catalogs over the past few months....just greenery in glass vases.

Here are a few places I have seen the greenery in glass concept:
This one is from a recent issue of "Better Homes and Gardens".

Here are some ideas from a Pottery Barn catalog. 

K. also has done greenery in glass...here is the post on her house in Birmingham.

I used some real greenery and then some fake greenery too in the vignette on the kitchen table.
Although I am a fan of "faux botanicals", when an arrangement is going to be viewed up close, like this grouping on the table,  I  try to use at least 50% real foliage (and flowers if it is a floral arrangement).

It's a fresh look and very inexpensive. 

The living area and kitchen are almost like one space so I carried over the greenery in glass theme over onto the mantle.
All of this greenery is artificial.  It came from Hobby Lobby, Michael's and Dollar Tree.

The broad heart-shaped leaves came from a 'bunch" of leaves which were cut apart.

The other leaves were individual stems.  The monstera leaves were cut off of their stems to be coiled up in the glass vases.  They were slipping down so I used double sided tape to keep them in place. 

I can envision this look staying all summer...It has a summery, tropical feel that will be easy to maintain.

June 20, 2011

Faux Sandcastles

Some summers I take on large responsibilites
for doing decorations for my church's Vacation Bible
School.  This year, due to my parent's health, I asked
to be given a VBS job that I could do at home at
my own pace and convenience. 

My assignment was to make two fake sand castles to
be used on the skit stage for the beach-themed VBS.

My "boss" told me to use paper towels and liquid 
starch to cover boxes in a paper mache' type fashion
to achieve the look of sand castles. 

I saw these coolers being thrown away and liked the roundness of their corners more than the cardboard boxes that I had intended on using for the base of my sandcastles. 

The tops of the coolers had features that I thought could make good architectural elements without much trouble. 

Last year I discovered this great foam cuttting tool at Michaels when I was assigned to make and paint foam cutouts for VBS.   This tool is about $19 but it is well worth it and very reasonable when you use a discount coupon.  It is SO MUCH BETTER than the ones that are battery powered and have a metal "U" shaped holder for the hot wire.  Caution: this tool should not be used by children.

I used my handy-dandy foam cutter (well, actually, foam melter) to make molding-like features for the sandcastles. 

The architectural moldings were too thick with the whole depth of the top, so I trimmed it down.

I used the cut-away part to make the "back door" of the castle.

To create some interest on the top of the castles, I glued on (with foam glue in order not to "melt" the foam as regular glue sometimes does) plastic cups, sand buckets, water fountain paper cups, star shaped cut-outs, and even a bird house.  The blue painters tape is on there to help keep the elements in place while the glue dries. 

Getting ready for the messy part... adding texture with paper towels and liquid starch.

Each paper towel sheet was dipped in the liquid starch and then applied to the foam and cups and buckets, etc.

If the starch makes the paper towels stick to the foam as well as it made newspaper stick to my feet, that will be one sturdy castle.  It actually hurt to pull it off! 

Here is one castle (in the hoarder carport) waiting for the starch to dry.

My husband offered to put a coat of Kilz paint on the castle to hide the painter's tape and get the starch/paper towel coating ready for more paint.

I was hoping to use up some of the bazillion containers of craft paint I have accumulated to put the first coat on the castles.

Have you ever hear the expression "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen"? Well, here in the summer in Alabama, we go INTO the kitchen to get out of the heat.

Hmmm....I don't really like this color of sand for the castle.  We have almost like sugar colored sand on our beaches.  I tried sponge painting some lighter colors over the tan.

Meh.  Not loving that either but the deadline is looming.  Trying a texture paint to give it more of a "sand" look...

I thought I had a good close-up picture of the castle after the texture paint was on it but this really doesn't show that it did help it look more like sand.

If I had it to do over (and when, really, will I be doing fake sandcastles again?) I would have tried to make the starch/paper towel coat look more stippled than draped. I was going for that letting-really-watery-sand-drip-out-of-your-fingers-look that I like to do on real sandcastles.  Was the starch/paper towel technique the best way to achieve this? I don't know, but I had not used those products before in combination and I was willing to try it.  Maybe you can use some of the ideas in this post to apply to another type of project. 

 So, in the end, the castles' premiere time was at hand, so they just had to go "as is" and just hope the kids at VBS would get the idea that these things on the stage were supposed to be sandcastles.  My husband told me to buy beach toys to sit next to our creations to try to sell that idea. 

I don't have a picture of the sandcastles "in action" but here they are with other props waiting to take to the stage. 

These fish were cut out of insulation sheets from the home improvement store and painted for VBS by other ladies at the church. They used a similar tool to the one that I did to cut foam. They are so light weight and easy to cut...much more so than wood. 

Hopefully some of the ideas in this post might help you if you
need to make props for VBS, school plays or parties. 

June 16, 2011

Sharing Some Good Decorating Ideas

Recently, my step-son and his wife invited us up to dinner at their home in Birmingham.  They have worked so very hard for the past three years to update and totally redecorate their 1950's era home.  K. has lovely taste and she allowed me to take some photos of good decorating ideas she has in their home to share with you.

The kitchen in the home was totally gutted to make way for new cabinets, granite countertops, and appliances.

Everywhere you look in the home, K. has beautiful vignettes on tabletops.

K. likes bunnies all year, not just at Easter

This faux botanical arrangement adds color and interest at the end of a hallway.

She found these windows at a salvage yard.  The center one was once at a doctor's office.  She changes out the ribbon on the windows with each season.  The windows add interest to this long wall without being too busy.

This is another clever use of faux botanicals. 

She makes effective use of faux botanicals even on the back patio area. The spiral plant is faux but the potato vine and petunias are real which add to the realism of the whole composition. 

The spiral plant is her "thriller" and the vine and flowers will be her "fillers" and "spillers" in this pot arrangement.

The weather was so nice that our hosts brought the dining room chairs out onto the patio for our delicious dinner and  we dined "al fresco".  We don't often get to do that so it made the evening even more special. 

June 15, 2011

New Blog Background

Well, it took me a month of my free time of trying but I finally got kinda close to what I had in mind for a new blog background and header.

This is a computer dummy's (and believe me, I am in that group) version of a screen shot.  

Here is a screen shot of my blog "before" with a stock blogger template:

It's not bad but the flowers have nothing to do with the title or content of my blog. 

I had looked and looked at other sites to try to find a pre-made background I liked with cats on it but didn't see what I had in mind.  I even comtemplated having a custom background made but I just wanted to try to do it myself.  In the end, I spent WAAAAAAY too much time trying to figure out how to do it but I did learn a lot.  Google, forums, youtube, other blogs etc. do have lots of information on how to do your own background but if you are interested in doing your blog design yourself, just be sure of this:


For example, I was following a tutorial (writing down specifics, downloading sites, cutting, pasting digi-papers, etc.) for a "Minima" template on Blogger and then at the end, I find our the "Minima" template has been discontinued.  I ran into other instances of outdated advice...computer-related information changes quickly due to updates and upgrades. 

In wading through all the turorials, etc. online to try to get to the questions I had on blog design, I probably learned more about photo editing than how to do a blog background but that infomation will help me in the long run too.  Doing the blog background and header stretched me to learn more and opened up other possibilities for creativity. 

June 8, 2011

Beginners Crochet Group

A group of my friends (that I rarely get to see much anymore) decided to get together so that the one of us who knows ALL KINDS of crafting and needleworking could show the rest of us how to crochet.  We have known each other since we were all having babies and now our babies are having babies.

Our teacher had high hopes that she could show us how to crochet a scarf in one evening.  In two hours' time, none of us got very far.  My "scarf" turned out about the size and shape of a leaf.  I asked if she could just show us how to crochet edging onto a flannel baby blanket for our next meeting (thinking that would be less needlework but still get a usable product out of our work). 

At first, we tried making holes for the crochet hook to go through the flannel with a nail (top right of picture).  The holes close up pretty quickly that way.  It was slow going punching a few holes then trying to learn to crochet through them.  I gave up on that way and started just sewing a blanket stitch with a yarn needle (that maybe someday I will go back and finish off with a crochet trim).
Here is another friend's 2-hour attempt at the punching technique to make holes then crochet.

B.R. stayed with this technique but some of us asked for an even easier route the next week.

Our teacher brought hemstitched baby blankets.  The holes for crocheting a trim are already on the blanket.

The work goes a lot faster with the hemstitched border (but it is more expensive to go this route).

One friend decided to skip the crocheting after the first night and is learning to knit instead.

While we were having dinner, we got the meet the newest grandbaby born to the group.  Isn't he cute?

We rotate turns on bringing a light dinner for the group.  Most of the ladies drink sweet tea but I brought a bottle of wine from my recent trip to Texas wine country.

G. prepared homemade pesto to put on bread, chicken salad, and a fruit salad...SO GOOD.

We meet at B.'s lovely home.  I thought you might like to see a mini "tour of home".  


At one time she had a table here but is trying the foyer without one for now.

Living Room

Dining Room Chandelier

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