Category Archives: crafting and DIY

Lately everything I see is painted blue…*

*Lyrics from Lately I by Faith Evans from her 1998 album, Keep The Faith (I can’t believe I actually own the record this song was on, and that I’m admitting it), not to be confused with Faith Hill, who is a completely different kind of artist (I do not own any of her stuff). Do you ever wake up with a song in your head that you haven’t heard in years and years, and suddenly it’s all you can think of? Well, this song has been ruminating in my brain for weeks. A combination of serious winter blues, fruitless and tedious house hunting, and maybe some form of mid-life crisis, and this song has pretty much nailed my mood of late. Depression, party of 1… as usual (insert Eeyore emoticon here). And, speaking of a completely different kind of depression, I stumbled up on a different song with the same title – Lately I by The Maldives from part of a No Depression festival. I’m not an alt-country fan per say, but I definitely would have rather had their song in my head than Faith’s (sorry, Faith).

Winter this year left me feeling trapped in a cage, not unlike how you will feel looking at this sunset picture.

Winter this year left me feeling trapped in a cage, not unlike how you will feel looking at this sunset picture.

If you’re anything like me, or if you live anywhere in the north eastern United States (or perhaps just all of North America), you’ve had a rough winter. Like, maybe the roughest ever. The sun never seemed to peek out long enough to get a decent dose of Vitamin D, and the cold, ice, and snow (and lack of shoveled sidewalks!) trapped us in our too tiny apartment for too many weeks. Add all this to an east-facing apartment and you’ve got yourself a tiny, dark dungeon for a home, and nothing but remorse for the lost glory of the home that once was yours. It hasn’t been easy, so I’ve been trying to lay low, and busy myself with anything uplifting that I can think of. Sadly, that hasn’t been much lately, but I did think of one thing to get me eager to get out of bed in the morning: art. read on…

When they walked in the room we didn’t know what to do…*

*Lyrics from another song, Givin’ Em What They Love, from Janelle Monáe‘s new album The Electric Lady (deluxe album via Target, regular iTunes album here). This song features Prince, and is one of those songs I’m sure could turn into a 20 minute set at a concert. At least I hope. Great song, great album, great way to usher us across that early September doldrum into autumnal sexiness. Perfect for a post about our bed, right? Too much information?

Some pressure treated posts cut into pieces were the best, cheapest solution for much needed under-bed storage.

While we may not have a full-on bedroom at The Pied – what we have is technically a ‘sleeping area’ since there is no closet, no door, no window, no means of escape – we do have enough space for a queen sized bed. I should say mattress, not bed. Even though we were lucky enough to carve out enough room for a dresser, some shelves, a mattress, and side tables, we can’t exactly devote any more space to the extra inches that a true bed frame would need. The mattress on the floor option was the cheapest bed solution, but the dramatically unlevel floors (I would roll toward the edge of the bed during the night, often waking gripping the side of the mattress for stability), combined with our need to have more options for under-the-bed storage made it necessary for us to think about getting yet another this’ll-do-for-now bed. The simplest (read: next cheapest) solution we could think up involved a split box spring, some form of risers, and a whole lot of screws.

read on…

You’re every thought, you’re every thing, you’re every song I ever sing…*

*Lyrics from All I Do Is Dream of You from Singin’ in the Rain. Easily my favorite musical, and my go-to for an enjoyable bit of movie watching (especially when recuperating from several minor ailments). Plus, the lyrics can easily go non-romantic when you think about painting. Which I constantly do.

Quick and dirty, this painting gave me an outlet, whether or not the result was worth the paint.

A few weeks ago, I was absolutely out of my mind, bonkers, needing to paint something. Anything. I was like Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain running around yelling, ‘Gotta paint!’ Seriously, it was becoming a problem. So I pulled out a small canvas I’d gotten on sale ages ago at Michael’s, and just went for it. We had limited time – had to get the house ready for a showing, and had to prepare to head back to the pied-à-terre – so I just barreled through. Crashed through my burning desire to build something, to witness that change, and to have something (besides muffins, brownies, or cookies) to show for it.

Close-up of my handiwork.

Rough draft. I think that’s what I’ll call it. read on…

But something’s moving, in places I’d forgotten…*

*Lyrics from Temporary Love by Missy Higgins off her newest album The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle. I just heard her for the first time this week – her album art totally drew me in – but I like her. Reminds me of Sia, whom I adore. Hey, it can’t all be waxed handlebar mustaches, right? … So, I thought I’d introduce some of the rooms that have had lesser status on the blog, and show you around some more of the spaces of the house that make us love it so much, and will hopefully make you love it, too.

House Tour: Guest Bedroom

Faux bois, meaning fake wood, adds a soft texture to an otherwise neutral palette.

Remember when I sewed curtains for the foyer and landing, even though I’d never even done it before? And remember how I alluded to the fact that I also made a lined pair for the guest room, and teased that I’d share with you the result someday? Well, today is someday. Not only did I have the fabric for those curtains for over two years (I honestly can’t remember if I got the fabric before or after the Great Renovation), but I also had a vision for that space since finding the fabric.

It was a woven faux bois, on sale, in what seemed to be a medium-weight, cottony material in cream and beige (I may have sewn the panels, but a fabric maven I am not). I thought it was perfect for the guest space that I’d been dreaming of: soft lilac walls (flattering to any skin tone), complimented with chocolate browns and beiges, lavenders, peaches and pinks as accents, and plenty of soft white to offset the natural wood tones and textures. I had a vision of a bed-and-breakfast style set-up – what with the sleeping porch just off the room – where weekend visitors could have fresh squeezed orange juice, tea or an individual french press of coffee on a bistro table just outside their bedroom door. The room faces north-east, so morning time activities were the inspiration, and I wanted a space that felt refreshing, peaceful, and welcoming for long slumbers, or early morning starts.

read on…

Petition for a life unknown…*

*Lyrics from Petition by Tennis from their album Young & Old. I found them, on (you guessed it!) spotify when looking for similar artists to Hospitality. However, be forewarned, there are two bands called Tennis. This one is NOT the hip-hop one, but rather the indie pop one that’s interesting and St. Vincent-esque. They also have an interesting story behind their music. Have a listen or a read and let me know what you think.

Brushstrokes, colors, movement, line weight - all these things were experiments, and things I don't normally get to play around with when doing household painting chores.

Between all the chores we’ve been tackling to get the house ready to be on the market – finishing out the exterior with a freshened up side porchreplaced stairs off the porch, fresh paint and stain on just about everything, new storm doors and lighting – we’ve had barely any time to do anything fun. Just for pleasure. And my body seems permanently crunched into a semi-bent position, complete with crooked hand just waiting to hold a paint brush. Despite needing to complete yet more chores that involved painting (chiefly, interior trim and door painting), I snuck in a few moments here and there to finally complete my very first painting. You know, with paint. Colors. And canvas. Just for fun. Just for me. (Well, ok, for us.)

For the past few weeks we’ve been trying to finish up every lingering project around here so that we can actually relax and enjoy our home (until we sell it, of course). It’s summer, after all, and we need to have some hammock time. And badminton tournaments. Which are really just exercises in several-minute-long volleys, no points awarded, just laughing, and trying not to twist our ankles. But we realized that we should also complete some of the things we’ve been tinkering on that were just for beauty’s sake, and not for some practical consideration.

read on…

The suffering, the struggling, I did it for you, I did it for me…*

*Lyrics from Cubism Dream by Local Natives. It’s no secret that I love this group, even though Jeff warns me not to look at them if I ever see them live – apparently they’re hipsters with a capital H. Little does he know, I don’t care (bring on the waxed, handle-bar mustaches!). I love that album, and love it still every time I hear it. This song feels like love and sadness and nostalgia and tenderness mixed together, which is pretty much what touching love feels like. Which is pretty much what I feel for my little niece, touching love.

BEFORE: Color notwithstanding, I could see the cuteness in the piece. Plus, it was smaller than an adult sized desk, as many older pieces are. Perfect for my 9-year old niece.

Last year, driving innocently by a yard sale (that I swear I didn’t know was going to be there) I spotted a weird but cute vanity/desk in a gross shade of green. I kept driving, but thought about it for the rest of the afternoon. Later on, I convinced Jeff to drive by with me, just to see if it was still there. If it was, I told him, I’m buying it. He said, what for? I said, not for me, for [my niece]! She needs a desk! He said, okay. So I got it, for $20. Not bad, eh?

read on…

Had you never been my friend, I wouldn’t be quite what you see…*

*Lyrics from The ShinsFall of ’82 from their album Port of Morrow. I’ve been hearing these guys in my Pandora mixes of late, and this song reminded me of a long lost friend who I recently tried to reconnect with. So, I guess I’m feeling a little introspective and sentimental, which is good, especially when you try to do art. Helps to let it all out.

Here she is, small and elegant. The frame around the mirror was custom made from scraps of trim to solve the issue of the sides of the medicine cabinet showing. The newly framed art helps to make the mirror look more at home here.

A few days ago I hinted on facebook that with the addition of a few DIY art pieces that one room in the house was mostly, very nearly, certainly almost, done. Well, I hope it’s not disappointing that the room I was referring to was the master bathroom. I mean, it’s the second smallest room in the house, and it has all of it’s infrastructure installed already. All I had to do was hang up some fresh towels, clean the sink, and hang a few pieces of art. Well, I’m calling them art… they might be considered craft projects to someone artier. But to me, to us, they’re arty enough.

read on…

Baby, baby, baby (baby), think of me sometimes…*

*Lyrics from Aretha Franklin’s Baby, Baby, Baby from her album I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You. Classic. Though in this case the baby I’m talking about is an actual baby. You know, of the 6 month old variety.

Beauty shot: I wish I could paint this image.

Firstly, let’s talk about spring. It’s been a crazy weather year (past 12 months, not calendar year) up here in New England, and spring has been no different. After a snow-less winter (practically) I was really looking forward to the slow discovery that is springtime. First, you notice little changes – trees start to look like they’re greening up, buds emerge from the branches on bushes, crocuses and daffodils and tulips push up from the soil, all teasing warmer weather on the horizon. We wait (usually) for that one warm spring day where you can fling open your windows, where you can finally be outside with only a light jacket, where the cool air is scented with bulbs and warming earth. However, this year spring decided not to tease us burlesque-style, but instead to head straight for the goods, flashing us like a drunken college girl on spring break. We were plunged into 80 degree weather for almost a week making the daffodils pop up and begin to wilt within a day of opening. My normal excitement for the possibility of wearing shoes with no socks, of wondering when (if) the new bulbs we planted in the fall will push through was crushed by heading straight to using the air conditioning in the car to avoid sweating through my short-sleeved shirt (which probably should have been a tank top), and wondering if I’ll fit into my summer clothes yet. Not cool, spring. Not cool.

read on…

May your New Year dreams come true…*

*Lyrics from The Christmas Waltz as sung by Nancy Wilson. If you listen to this song in the right mood it’ll make you cry. Or maybe that’s just me.

A few days ago I stopped over at my mom’s house for a visit. As I walked up to her door I noticed she still had her autumnal bunch of purple corn on her front door (how gauche!). She said, ‘yes, yes, I know, I need a wreath.’ I looked around and sure enough everyone had a wreath on their door. (Full disclosure: there were a few doors with shamrocks on them, but I imagine that’s a year-round thing for them.) It seemed as if everyone was getting in the holiday spirit but my mom’s place was lagging behind. Well, that I simply could not abide.

read on…

I oughta say no, no, no, at least I can say that I tried…*

*Lyrics from Baby It’s Cold Outside as sung by Doris Day and Bing Crosby. There is nothing more comforting in winter than cozying up to old black and white movies or listening to old black and white songs.

December is a month loaded with obligations, expectations and often times disappointment. The build-up for the single greatest day of the year (be it Christmas or New Year’s Eve) can often leave people feeling like, “Really? That’s it?” I have been known to feel that way a time or two (or a dozen). It’s only natural to sense the anticipation around you, and to feel the optimism creeping in when thinking about the promise of a brand new year. And, having been raised to celebrate the most basic bits from Christmas (all the non-religious stuff) – the tree, the gift giving, the time with family, the sparkly lights, the hand made crafts – this time of year usually holds a special spot in my heart. I have to admit, however, to not really feeling into it this year.

read on…