The magic of spring is never lost on me. Year after year when the flower buds appear I feel an excitement like I felt as a child before Christmas.
Today I walked around the yard and checked on all the perennials to see how they are doing. Oh, peonies. Don’t you love them? I can’t wait to smell their sweet fragrance and bring in bunches to enjoy inside.
All of the green everywhere is a very welcome sight. There will soon be shades of lavender and purple among the green on the irises.
I am always amazed at the wonderfully strong scent that comes from the teeny tiny blossoms of lily of the valley. It’s easy to miss their blossoming time if you’re not careful. The little white bell-like flowers stay almost concealed beneath the leaves.
Patches of sad brown irish moss between the flagstone pavers of the patio are about to burst forth with vibrant green color.
I hope you enjoyed the tour of some of our perennials. A few don’t have buds yet. I think I saw a tiny one on a rose bush and the clematis is starting to look promising. It’s going to be a colorful spring.
So way back in January I posted a list of my 2015 DIY Home Goals. I am happy to say that there has been some progress made with some of them but not to the point of showing much on here yet.
I will always be eclectic in my taste and make no apology for it. But my aesthetic includes cohesiveness. There’s eclectic and then there’s hodge podgey. My current decor is a mix of French farmhouse, granny’s house, a bit of traditional and a little shabby chic thrown in. I want my new look to be predominantly rustic farmhouse with a lot more natural elements, a touch of contemporary and OF COURSE some French flair.
With redecorating one thing always leads to another so wouldn’t you know it, my list has grown instead of shrunk! In keeping with the rustic farmhouse design, I have several pieces of furniture that are in line for a makeover. I can count five right off the top of my head. I am excited to show you the first one in its pre-makeover state.
This double seat school desk dated 1899 sits in our breakfast nook. I have never been at all excited about the dark finish on it.
Paired with the other woods from the oak table and mix of chairs, cohesive is not a word that could be used to describe the space. The solution began with a good sanding.
Working together, my husband and I sanded it down to the bare wood. I had planned on giving it a white or gray wash but decided I love it just the way it is. So after it gets a clear matte coat of sealer on the wood to protect it and on the cast iron to give it a cleaner look it will be ready for its new environment. I promise to show you the whole new nook a bit later in another post.
As for introducing more natural elements into my decor, this pile of helicopters will soon become a piece of art for my walls.
I’ve had some requests to do a tutorial on my little bird featured in a Phrase Art Phriday post I did a few weeks ago. I’m so happy to share with you today my Dollar Store Bird Tutorial. I knew it would take a while to capture all of the instructions in photos but I really prefer to produce my tutorials that way for all the visual learners (like me). It would have been easier to just type a bunch of instructions and include a few photos, and for some that would have been sufficient to follow along. But when a project has more than 3 or 4 steps it can be difficult to follow without instructional photos. So, you’re welcome! :) But seriously, thank you for visiting and showing an interest in my projects.
I’ll begin by showing you my finished product, just completed for this tutorial.
Each bird I have created has had its own personality.
The bird I used this time as a base was a tiny bit smaller than the one I used last time. You just never know what you’re going to find at the dollar store. I’ve had good luck finding them in the florals, usually attached to a branch of leaves or some evergreen. You can of course also get inexpensive bird bases at the craft store.
I decided to use pearls for this little birdie’s crown.
It suits her, don’t you think?
If you would like to create your own upcycled bird, here’s what you’ll need:
Supply specifics are given in the individual steps.
And this. I think I always forget to photograph at least one supply!
And now for the instructions:
Step 1: Tear a piece of tissue paper into tiny pieces, approximately the size of your thumbnail and smaller. It won’t take an entire piece of tissue paper. Just start with a pile and tear more as you need it.
Step 2: Brush your chosen medium (water based sealer, Mod-Podge, etc.) on a small section of the bird, apply tissue pieces, and brush over them to flatten and secure.
Step 3: Continue applying tissue until the bird is completely covered, including the feathers, beak and eyes. Brush on a thin coat of metallic pearl white paint with a watery brush.
Step 4: Now it’s time to dig out the eyes (eewww). Using your fingernails or tweezers, poke through the tissue, grasping the eyes and wiggle them out. This will create a socket effect.
Step 5: Cover over the eye area with one layer of tissue paper. Then poke a tiny slit to create the eye, using a pin or needle.
Step 6: Now for the crown. Cut 5 pieces of fine gauge wire 2 inches long each. Fold the wire in half, pinching together at the fold with pliers to form a point.
Step 7: Using a pin or needle, poke a pair of holes in the top of the bird’s head, approx. 1/8 inch apart. and 1/2 inch or so deep. Place the first crown spike in the holes and press in. You may have to reshape the spike a little after its in place. This is easy to do by pinching the top and running a toothpick or other slim item along the insides.
Step 8: Repeat step 7 until all 5 crown spikes are in place.
Step 9: To create the crown band, cut a piece of wire 6 inches in length. Wrap the wire around a tubular object (I used a permanent marker). Before placing the band on the bird’s head, push the 5 spikes toward the center to allow room for the band to fit over.
Step 10: Once the band is in place, spread the spikes back out again and place pearls or your chosen jewels onto the spikes, using a dot of glue to secure.
Next and lastly, we’ll give the bird her wings and tail feathers.
I included 3 pattern sizes to accommodate varying bird sizes. Just right click the images and save to your computer.
Step 11: Print and cut a wing and tail feathers from the pattern provided, using paper or card stock. You can use the same wing pattern twice instead of cutting it out twice.
Step 12: If you were only able to find white velvet, you can tea stain it. Just dip it in very hot tea, let sit for 5-10 minutes and blot with a paper towel to absorb most of the moisture and give it the desired depth of color. Allow it to air dry, right side up.
Step 13: Place wing and feather patterns on wrong side of velvet, attaching with a glue stick. Cut out the velvet, concentrating mainly on the outline of the pattern. The slits can be cut to desired length (I ended up cutting the slits in my velvet longer than the pattern slits.) If using one wing pattern twice, be sure to flip it over so it faces the other direction for the second wing.
Step 14: Before attaching the tail feather, trim the tissue on the bird’s tail as shown. Apply glue to the bird’s tail, spreading glue very, very thin over the surface (if glue is thick or too wet it will soak through to front of velvet.) Once the velvet is in place, you may have to cut slits in the base tail if it’s showing through the velvet tail slits.
Step 15: Apply glue to the first wing, along part of the outer edge as shown. Please note: I feathered out the glue line more than is shown here before applying wing to bird. Attach the wing so that the inner top corner is up against the base of the bird’s head and the 5 feathers are angled as shown. Press gently into place along glued border and allow to dry.
Step 16: Repeat step 15 for second wing.
Note: After I made this bird I decided the tail feather was one feather too wide. So the pattern provided has been edited since then and for that reason you can see six feathers in my example instead of the five feathers in the pattern. Just in case anyone noticed!
I love thrift shopping and today I want to share with you some of my best thrifting tips! I’m using the word thrifting to include shopping at yard sales, thrift shops, estate sales, flea markets and even antique shops. After years of having this activity occupy my time as a business, a hobby and a way to furnish my entire house I have learned a few things, things that I would love to share with you! Rather than listing some of the more obvious tips such as getting to sales early and hunting often, I have compiled a list of things that I have gleaned through my own experience and observations. These are the tried and true methods that have worked for me. Of course nothing is fail-proof and luck plays a large part in finding the goods.
ë Search as if someone hid a treasure and dared you to find it. A lovely heart shaped chair might be concealed behind a big sloppy piece of upholstery tacked on loosely, when closer inspection reveals its true shape.
ë Don’t overlook piles of new when looking for vintage. Hidden treasure can be found in unlikely places. Never assume a collection of items on a table that looks like all new doesn’t have a vintage piece mixed in. Sometimes it pays to take a closer look.
.. ë Keep an open mind and try to see potential. A dirty, grimy trophy vase bought for a dollar can be shined up to become the perfect vessel for a bouquet of pink peonies.
THE NEXT FEW TIPS APPLY SPECIFICALLY TO ESTATE SALES:
ë Scan each room with your eyes before looking intently at smaller sections of space. Time is of the essence! This will enable you to zero in on specific areas of interest before methodically walking through.
ë Don’t get caught up in the frenzy. Take a deep breath! I’ve seen frantic people with similar interests as me pass right on by items that I was able to pick up by remaining more calm and clear headed.
ë Leave no stone unturned. Look under tables at items on the floor. I once found two gorgeous architectural pieces dated 1905 under a table on day three of an estate sale for $5 a piece.
Yes, it’s true. When I saw the pair of heart shaped French chairs at a flea market, they were completely camoflauged by pieces of needlepoint canvas that someone had tacked on. They appeared to have square backs and seats but when I peeled back the canvas just a little I could see the heart shaped seat and back. I wonder how many people walked right by them before I got there! I found the architectural pieces when I walked into a very picked-over estate sale. I looked under one of the tables and saw them. I was sure they must’ve been put there on hold for someone. So I asked about them and was told that they weren’t sold. My lucky day!
Have you developed your own strategy for scoring great finds? I would love to hear about them (if you want to reveal your secrets). And for more tips, check out this article that I was invited to contribute to.
If you are familiar with “prairie style” design, chances are good that you know the name Fifi O’Neill. Fifi is well-known as the single-most editor, photo stylist, blogger and best-selling author responsible for perpetuating prairie style. Her newest book, Prairie-Style Weddings was just released in December and today I have the privilege of sharing some of its gorgeousness with my readers. The book beautifully illustrates “Rustic and Romantic Farm, Woodland, and Garden Celebrations.”
While the book is all about beautiful and creative wedding décor, the amazing vignettes and unique ideas presented could really be used for so many occasions. A summer garden party, a sweet sixteen, graduation, etc. And honestly, so much of it could be enjoyed in every day life, party or not!
One of the exciting things for me when I finally got to see the finished product was that it featured several photos shot at my friend Kelly Littmann’s farm. ALL of the photos at ALL of the sites are breathtaking but I happen to be a little partial to the ones shot at Farmstead right here in Missouri. I have been blessed to enjoy Kelly’s friendship and her farm on several occasions and though I have not had the pleasure of meeting Fifi, I am often in awe of her eye for beauty.
Here’s a glimpse of the book and Farmstead (all photographs by Mark Lohman): Wild at Heart Rehearsal Dinner
“Set in a tent, an intimate dinner becomes an outdoor adventure.”
Reclaimed Style Bridal Shower
“Upcycling gives storybook charm to a simple garden shed.”… I’ve played in that shed! :)
Western Union Reception
“The cowboy-chic theme of a Missouri horse barn captures the spirit of the old west.”
Along with all the visually stunning vignettes, (all photography by Mark Lohman) the book offers some prairie style romantic/rustic DIY projects with all the how-to’s.
I don’t know about you, but I am inspired to get busy creating!
“Prairie-Style Weddings shows how easily and affordably one can transform a rustic outdoor space into an unforgettable venue. From a woodland meadow to a simple shed or an old weathered barn, prairie style embraces the best of hand-crafting, heritage, vintage chic, romance, and much more.” –Fifi O’Neill
Thank you so much, beautiful Fifi!
The pages of this book are filled with so much inspiration, I have not even scratched the surface in this post. Here’s one more photo to whet your appetite.