Sunday, June 29, 2008

Creative Concealment

My friend Melissa at The Inspired Room (well, I think she's everyone's friend, really!) shared a fabulous concept the other day. She invited us to show some of the ways we practice "Creative Concealment" around our houses. In other words, how do you hide the "dirty laundry" or the "skeleton in the closet" when you can't afford permanent (and expensive) solutions? We all do this - look around your house and find some of the ways you've hidden big things like ugly architectural details or small things like power cords.

I realized I had several examples of creative concealment around my house...after all, this is what I'm all about! Trying to make things beautiful using the least amount of money possible.

Creative Concealment (or "CC") #1: Here's where we do our recharging of cell phones and camera batteries.'d never know it, because I bought this simple lidded basket (I think it was all of $6.99 at Home Goods several months ago) to hide everything. I also stash some stamps here, too, for last-minute letters being taken to the mailbox.

CC #2: When we bought our house (built in 1927), it already had this closet addition. But NO closet doors. The whole addition is a little awkward, because there's not really room for it. But, not having money for purchasing closet doors...and of course, not wanting the whole world (or even just us) to have to stare at the mess all the time, I put up one long curtain rod running the whole length of the wall (from Ikea, I think).
Then, I used drapery fabric I purchased at a garage sale for $1...I used iron-on hem tape (I DON'T sew) and drapery clips. Voila! Creative (and cheap) concealment.

CC #3: I'm not completely satisfied with this one yet, but you get the picture. An UGLY air-conditioning unit that we simply must have...but it's right smack in the middle of my lovely living room window wall! So, I selected a plant stand that's open on the bottom (since it stands over a heater vent) and placed a plant on top. It doesn't completely block the AC (it really shouldn't, I suppose, in order for it to actually function...darn that function!) but it does take a little attention off it, I think. (If you don't agree, please don't tell me...let me continue to live in ignorance! It is bliss, after all.)

There you go...thanks for stopping by today. And if you're visiting for the first time from the Inpired Room, you may want to check out some before-and-after goodness by browsing through a few of my interior redesigns. Be sure to check out Melissa's master list of blogs who are participating with Creative Concealment posts. You're sure to get a host of really valuable ideas...and who knows...perhaps someone else has already solved a dilemma that you're facing right now!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday's Fabulous Finds - Patriotism

Liberty banner by BridgetMcKinley - love the vintage look!

A brief apology to my lovely international readers...I understand you won't fully appreciate the fab finds this week, since July 4th - Independence Day - is a uniquely American holiday. (A special apology to my British friends. :-) I was in England once over the Fourth of July and my friend Jane (as British as can be), felt the need to remind me, "Well, we won the War of 1812!") Anyway - the fact remains that the upcoming Fourth of July is a favorite holiday for many Americans, and as with all of our holidays, there are plenty of ways we can decorate, dress, and entertain.

patriotic cuppies (in sets of 12) by yummycuppycrafts

You all know how much I love cupcakes. Not only are these cuppy wrappers perfect for your July 4th cupcakes, but yummycuppycrafts carries many other styles that would work for any occasion. They come in sets of 12 and there are all kinds of funky patterns! Afforable, too.

Yep, still thinkin' about cupcakes. Look at these vintage-inspired cupcake picks by RockabyeRetro. You get a set of 6. I'm loving all things vintage for this July 4th celebration, and this fits the bill with style.

Guess what? I'm still thinking about cupcakes. (Hungry, anyone?) If you're feeling crafty, print out this sheet of 1-inch round vintage patriotic images from mydigitaldaydreams and make your own cupcake picks! Or gift tags...or drink tags...or whatever your crafty little heart desires. Then send me photos of your creation. :-) (FYI - The photo at the bottom of this post is also from mydigitaldaydreams.)

For the little girl in your life...check out this adorable tutu and headband set from alexasboutique. Now, if only I knew a cute little girl or two. ;-)

Another great banner...I could make my own...or save time and energy and buy this one! It says "God Bless America" and is created by maryhadalittleparty (don't you just love that name?). I've discovered this shop is a fun resource for handmade banners, party favors, and packaging for parties.

For a little man in your life...this super cute overalls and hat set from littleguystogs. I love that this is a set. (Does the little boy come with it? 'Cause he's CUTE!)

This is a unique and fun idea for your Fourth of July celebration. It's a Party Cake by polkadotsandpetals made of individual boxes, each with candy inside. It's a, it's a, it's the party favors! Mostly it's a big hit, just waiting to happen.

And you just can't have a Fourth of July party without...mosquitoes? Well, actually you can...with this set of 3 cute citronella soy candles, by WorthySoyCandles. They're so affordable you could get several sets and scatter them throughout your outdoor party space.

For the wee one...heh heh...just made me chuckle. Reversible bib by pinkbabyandpancho.

And, last but not least, more vintage images...this time in the shape of downloadable gift tags, also from mydigitaldaydream. But don't just think gifts...what about tied around the neck of a wine bottle? Incorporated into your invitations? Scattering them like confetti down the center of your table?

***Want more??***

Read here if you'd like to catch up on some of my past Friday's Fabulous Finds.

Read here if you'd like to see some of my before-and-after pics of interior redesigns (new ones coming soon...I'm booked up all summer!)

Read here if you'd like some tidbits on entertaining and parties.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

An Easy, Elegant Centerpiece

If you read my e-zine, Feather Your Nest, these images may look familiar to you. (If you don't and you'd like to subscribe for free, go to the right sidebar to sign up!) I wanted to share this idea for a really easy centerpiece that will look like you fussed over it for hours...but of course it took five minutes (which is all I ever seem to have when getting ready to host).

The white runner? It's butcher paper, from my daughter's craft easel. It's a casual look that kind of reminds me of those bistros where the tables are covered with white paper.

Then, I just took three different sizes of square vases. You could use round vases...or square ones...or bowls...just pick three vessels that all have something in common. It could be different sizes and shapes of teapots or water pitchers.

I purchased two bouquets of cut flowers - one of green spider mums, the other of white calla lillies. I simply floated one large bloom in the 4" tall vases. Then, I let the bunch of calla lillies fall casually to the side of one of the tall vases. I arranged the rest of the mums without stems showing above the top of the vase, and voila! A fresh and casually elegant centerpiece for brunch (or whatever occasion you'd like).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

5 things about me

This week I'm volunteering at our church's Vacation Bible School every day, so don't have quite the usual time (but mostly, not the usual energy) for creative I figured it was a good time to play "catch-up". In addition to announcing my new giveaway winner (see the post below) I thought I'd respond to lovely Laura, of the Shorehouse Chic blog, who "tagged" me recently. So if you don't care about these personal details, skip this post and check out my interior redesigns. :-)

Where were you ten years ago?

Ten years ago I was single and working at a credit union, saving all my pennies to take off in a few months for a Discipleship Training School in England, then a time of service in Central Asia, with Youth With a Mission. Man, that feels like a long time ago! Funny how seven years of marriage and two kids can change a person, you know?

Holmsted Manor - I spent 3 1/2 months here ten years ago

What are five items on your to-do list today?

1. Catch up on invoicing...ugh. People owe me money, but I SO dislike paperwork.

2. Finish Julia's gift and mail it. Ahem, I's on its way...(sorry, I've been a bit busy, but haven't forgotten your major award!)

3. Fold the clean laundry that is currently piled on every conceivable seat in the living room.

4. Water my flowers. Apparently they like that. Especially in summer.

5. Kiss my girls. Even when they're not being "kissable". (Since I'm the queen of being "not kissable" at times, I figure it's only fair.)

Note 1) the girls...being kissable here...and 2) the laundry in the background. Two things on my to-do list managed to make it into one photo! Amazing. First time there's ever been clean laundry on the floor though. Really. Well, maybe the second. Or so.

What snacks do you enjoy?

1. Healthy Pop Kettle Corn, with a Diet Caffeine-Free Coke. This sounds really healthy until I confess I eat. the. entire. bag. myself.

2. Apples w/ peanut butter. Yum. Even better w/ M&Ms sprinkled on top (hee hee)

3. And, my ultimate Achilles heel: baked goods. What kind, you ask? Any kind. Muffins. Cookies. Cakes. Breads. Surprisingly (or not) when I limit my starch intake I LOSE WEIGHT. Can't imagine why.

What would you do if you were a billionaire?

one of my master bedroom makeovers

Oh, where do I begin. I think I'd immediately establish a charitable foundation that controlled the money...with a board of directors made up of people with that I wouldn't go crazy with the money and it (hopefully) wouldn't change me for the worse. Know what that foundation would do? Decorate for low-income families, for one thing. Sorta like Extreme Home Makeover: Home Edition (only probably without the "Extreme" part).

But, I'd also build a new deck on the back of the house. My husband fell through it the other day. That's just not okay with me.

What top three places would you live?

1. Southern California (love the sun)

2. Anywhere in the UK ( sun, but I still adore it)

3. Portland (hey, I already live there! Woohoo!)

Well, thanks for reading (if you did!). Tomorrow we'll return to our regularly scheduled blogging. :-)

NEW Giveaway Winner!!!

set of 12 custom notecards designed by Nesting Instincts

Well, I tried and tried to get in contact with "becky up the hill". She was randomly selected as my giveaway winner, but after giving her about three weeks to get in touch with me, I'm forced to select another winner. I just want to give a gift, here, people - is that so wrong (said in a loud, melodramatic whine)??

So, I randomly selected another name from amongst those who left comments on this post within the required time frame, and voila! The new winner is: Alesha, who said:

"Just a few ideas:"Paper, Quill & Ink""Quill to Paper""Paper Aviary""Paper Nest""Inking Nest""Paper Quillery":-)Alesha"

So, Alesha, I've left a comment on your blog (which appears to be brand new). Please email me to claim your prize!

Monday, June 23, 2008

What color would you be?

Ever wondered what color(s) suit you best? If you were a color, what would you be? You have to try this fun color game that I found via the How About Orange blog. The questions seem insightful and creative. Turns out I am primarily Ocean Blues ("Water Beads"). There's a shocker! Since everything I do and like these days seems to be in blue, aqua, turquoise...etc. :-) I have to confess I took the test twice, and got a slightly different result each time. The first time I took the test, I was primarily "water beads" (blues) with "White spaces" as my secondary color theme. Believe it or not, (and I never thought I'd say this) I've been really drawn to WHITE WALLS lately. What is wrong with me??? I better go check my temperature...

But the second time I took the test, "morning rose" (pinks) were my secondary color theme. And I've never liked pink. Verrry interesting. But I did select it as my third paint can.

I have to admit that after all the seemingly in-depth questions they take you through, at the end they have you choose your favorite colors on paint cans. I'm thinkin' there's a good chance the rest of the test is baloney, and they pick your color family based on what paint cans you chose. But I could be wrong! Take it and let me know what you think...and I'm SO curious about what "color family" you're in, too...let me know...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday's Fab Finds - Inspired by Java

This week's colorful collection of Fabulous Finds is inspired by two things: one, I'm planning to redecorate my kitchen this summer (fingers crossed!) with new paint and a new color scheme. Two, I'm working on a redesign of my church's little espresso/cafe area. So, needless to say, my mind is busy dreaming up just how I'd like to accessorize these spaces. I started browsing for artwork with a "coffee" theme and was pleasantly surprised! Not only did I find some really fun prints, I discovered five charming shops that I really fell in love with. This week I particularly encourage you to not only enjoy viewing these prints, but browsing their artists' shops.

morning coffee print by Studio Lyon (buy one print, get one 50% off)

double shot vintage advert print by dripstick artwork

fresh coffee vintage advert print by dripstick artwork

coffee with my owl print by monkeypowered

I have to confess that it's late...I need to head off to bed...and so have not blessed (cursed?) you with my customary wordiness about each piece of work. Hopefully each of these really fabulous prints will speak volumes for themselves! I will leave you with some weekend reading, though, if you've got some free time...


* If you'd like to like to view past fabulous finds, read here.

* If you'd like to check out my signature interior redesigns, read here.

Blogs I Heart (that I haven't mentioned before):

Thursday, June 19, 2008

thank you Today's Creative Blog!

Can you feel the love? I know I can!! I got home from dinner last night...after a day posting...only to find that Kim from Today's Creative Blog had found me and posted all about Nesting Instincts on her site, labeling NI as Today's Creative Blog and sending tons of lovely people my way. She had been talking with an old friend of hers on the phone...who happens to be a wonderful friend of mine, too...and the connection was made. You'll have to check out her site...not only is there a long post singing the praises of the Nesting Instincts blog (thank you!), but it is a resource that is full to the brim of creative, inspiring blog features and links. I will now be proudly sporting a lovely blinky from Kim and joining the ranks of many other wonderful and creative bloggers. Thank you so much!

these flowers are for Kim - well, okay, they're just the ones on my front porch...but it's the thought that counts!

If you are one of Kim's many, many visitors, new to my blog, here are a few things you might want to check out:

- my signature interior redesigns (with room before-and-afters)
- my Friday's Fabulous Finds posts (featuring my favorite Etsy shops & artists)
- or just start reading and browse all the miscellaneous goodies in between!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Artist of the Month: vol25

I am so excited because this month I am getting to interview one of my all-time favorite Etsy artists...and an all-around really nice person, too. Jessica of vol25 provides a steady stream of modern and artistic, yet very warm, works of art and sells them as affordable prints in her Etsy shop. She also writes a lovely blog, which I have only just now added to my blogroll for some reason. (I have no idea why I didn't do it before now...tsk, tsk.) Anyway, grab a cup of tea...or coffee. or perhaps a Diet Coke (a la kari and kijsa!) and enjoy this entertaining interview. (Each one of these prints can be found at the vol25 shop.)

Jessica, I'm blown away by the prolific creativity you exhibit in your work! Where - and how - do you find inspiration for such fun and whimsical works of art?

Thank You! :) It seems as though my inspiration is always coming from several different outlets. Oftentimes an idea is sparked from a magazine, or something my loving husband will say…he really is very creative himself…even if he is the last to admit it. My daughter is also a daily dose of inspiration. I do try to look for inspiration anywhere. Quotes have been BIG for me lately. I think it amazing that so many people get a different feeling/experience from the same quote.

I'm fascinated with the different layers there appears to be in each of your prints. Can you give us an idea of what methods and mediums you use in your work? And how long might one print typically take you, from start to finish?

I do use several layers in my work. I am always on the lookout for new textures. My trusty companion is a 10 MP Sony a-100 digital camera. One of my best friends. I have a love for photography as well, so translating that into my prints has been an exciting challenge. As far as how long it takes me per print it seems hard to pinpoint. Lately I have spent alot more time marketing my business online. Visiting blogs, e-mailing for advertising rates, designing my new blog, creating a mailing list... I rarely keep track of my total creating hours. I estimate I probably spend anywhere from 6-8 hours sketching, coloring, texturizing, listing, and promoting that one new piece.

It seems that in the short time you've been selling on Etsy, you've already shown amazing success...sales have skyrocketed and publicity has grown - including being featured on the lovely Decor8 blog. Congratulations! I'm proud to say I originally discovered your work when you'd only been on Etsy for about a month or so, and I've been a fan ever since. Did you set goals for yourself when you began selling on Etsy? Have you acheived them? Is it fulfilling to be where you're at now?

I am SO grateful for the success, and it is very fulfilling. However I have to admit.... I have actually been a member of etsy for a couple years. My previous shop was under the name SparksFly. I started out selling my photography, then designing packaging for customers. I was staying really busy doing that, but my family time was suffering. I was always trying to work around everyone else's schedules. It was then that I decided to pick up that old passion of mine... drawing. I really had no photoshop experience at all, and completely self taught myself. When I seen that there was a market and interest for my artwork, I decided I needed to re-open under a new name and re-focused look. It was scary leaving behind all the feedback/hearts... but I am happy to say that my customers followed me over to vol.25. :) Being featured on decor8 was a definite rush, and ONE of the goals I had set for myself upon opening. The only other real goals I had set was to try and make each month a little better then the last, and to ALWAYS go the extra mile to provide extra good customer service.

You're getting ready to welcome baby #2 to your family - congratulations again! As a mother of two myself, I constantly struggle with balancing family + work. This wouldn't be as difficult if I didn't love my work. Do you ever struggle with that balance?

Definitely find the balancing act hard! Since I also love my 'work' it is hard to make myself walk away from the computer. I generally have at least 5 new sketches/ideas just waiting to be finished. But, with baby #2 I have a feeling I will be having alot less computer time. ;)

Okay, now we'd love to get a peek into your own home! How do you decorate? What really inspires you as you decorate your home? Do you display any of your own artwork?

Jessica's entryway

I LOVE to decorate, I would classify my style as modern mixed with a little traditional. Our home was built in 1892, so it is always a challenge to not modernize it too much.
her daughter's bedroom
I am going to sound very unoriginal for saying this... but ikea is a constant inspiration for me. I can spend hours flipping through and bookmarking pages in their catalogues. Blogs (like yours) are also a daily inspiration to me. :)
kitchen prints
Yes, I am definitely guilty of displaying my own artwork! My husband complains the house is filled with too much artwork and not enough family pictures. I am very guilty of this. I constantly like to switch things out, so hanging my own artwork gives my an affordable way to update things. I also have a huge collection of photography stored on my computer, so I am always stumbling across new favorites I had forgotten I took. :)

living room


(Nesting Instincts: um...hello...gorgeous house! Amazing Decorator Alert!)

I love that you've started creating series of prints that all coordinate. Where do you want to go from here? As an artist, is there an area you'd really love to venture into? A style, medium, or subject matter you'd like to use?

Thanks! I have considered putting together a new regular column on my blog where I coordinate a particular print with a paint color, other prints, fabric choices etc. I really do love decorating, and this would be an affordable way for me to have fun, while also helping some people out with a little inspiration. (Nesting Instincts: Please do! That would be so fun. You are clearly talented in the decorating department too!)

We know about your Etsy shop - anywhere else people can view or purchase your work? Either in person or online?

Right now etsy is the only way to purchase my work, I do have my own domain name registered I hope to get my own website up sometime soon. :) I also have a blog I update regularly I always post about new work in the shop, and updates on our home.

Thanks for featuring my work, I love your blog, and congrats on your recent debut on designsponge!! :)

(No, Jessica...thank YOU! I feel like I just had a chat with a good friend. - Courtney)