Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The "Art" In Our "House"

The title comes from J, who laughs whenever I bring up our "art" collection. Hmph. We have some classics! As soon as I thought about writing this post, I realized 75% of the "art" in our house has a theme. Taking the pictures, I realized we actually have two themes...and each piece falls into at least one of them. Haha. Well, at least we're consistent.  So here's a quick art tour through our house.

This piece hangs in our foyer. It was my birthday present from J this year. From the thrift store, natch. Screenprinted zebras and a crazy sun on canvas? Yes, please! It's so seventies. I love it. It's signed E. Taylor, but I haven't been able to find any information about E. Taylor. Unless Elizabeth Taylor made it. In which case, OMG.

I freaking love this piece so much. I used to have a collection of vintage seascapes, and I'd really like another one. I found this on the floor at a local thrift store. There was no price on it. This never bodes well at a thrift store. I nonchalantly strolled up to the cashier, hoping A. she wouldn't notice the lack of a price tag and B. it would be cheap. Yeah, it didn't work. She told me the managers only price once a week, so I could come back FIVE DAYS LATER. I actually couldn't make it back that day, and when I did go back, I was doing my best Eeyore impersonation. I just knew it would be either gone or waaaaay over priced.

It was there, it was priced at $5, and it had a green tag. It was green tag 50% off day. Eeyore went away, and HAPPY DANCY TRACIE took over.

The signature reads Harland Young, an artist apparently best known for his western paintings. He even did an authorized painting of John Wayne! This is definitely not an original, but it looks amazing over the dining room table. 

These two prints are part of a series, and I bought them months apart at two different thrift stores. The framed one cost $.50 and the unframed print cost $.80. They are so bright and happy (not words I usually use to describe things I like). I can't wait to find a frame for the bottom one, so I can unite them on a wall. The back of both says they were issued by Winde Fine Prints, which I haven't been able to find a LOT of information about, but they apparently were a prolific issuer of art in the mid-century, going by ebay. The bottom print is by Paul Detlefsen, who produced an insane amount of happy commercial art in the 1950s and 60s.

Two pictures that currently live in our bathroom. The happy horse pictures is...insane, really. The owl picture scares J (don't tell him I told you so). The owl is probably going to find a new home in the hallway. I'm seriously considering do a little embroidery directly on the art, maybe out-lining the owl or stitching the leaves. That's the awesome thing about paying $.85. You feel like you can experiment!

The sad beginnings of a salon wall. The bottom two pictures are from a 1961 book of engravings of the English Lake District ($.50, people!). I love them so much, and really need to get more frames so I can hang more of them up. This is where the "Home Is" embroidery lept off the wall yesterday, so it looks even barer than usual. On top is a simple anchor I embroidered for J's Valentine's Day present.

So, there's our "art" collection. Every piece is from a thrift store. We are super high class like that. Did you figure out the two themes?

The first is animals, which I already knew. Horses predominate (three pieces!), but we also have zebra, duck, and owl art. 

The other theme, which I realized as I took the pictures, is water. Many of our pictures have a nautical theme (Navy anchor, Lake District, horse running through the waves, windmill). 

The TL:DR on this post isn't that you should run out and buy a lot of vintage art. (Please don't do that! I would leave less for me!) The point is that art doesn't have to be expensive. Thrift stores are FULL of art ranging from vintage paint by numbers (which I'm OBSESSED with) to Thomas Kinkade and everything in between. Thrift stores are also FULL of frames, ranging from simple wooden frames to ornate plaster and gilt numbers. So get out there and look! 

And even though I tease about J, he really likes most of the "art" in our "house."He really loves the nautical prints, and loves the zebras because I love Rose and Dorothy so much. It's a compromise. But I do love our little collection, and can't wait to get more frames/add to it in other budget friendly ways. (There's also DIY art, but that's another conversation!)

Does anyone else have a collection of budget friendly art?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Embroidered Quotes and Vintage Frames

It's Pinterest Challenge Time! (Updated link takes you to link party, where you can see highly superior Pinterest Challenge projects!)

As I mentioned, say, YESTERDAY, I've been working on new window coverings for the living room. And because I love embroidery, and because of pins like this one, I decided embroidering a new window treatment (gag, I hate that term) would be, like, totes awesome guys!


Not because of the embroidery (thanks to my grandmother, this is one area where I have something resembling skills). I'll share my insane failure (due mostly to basic math) and how I think I might salvage the whole thing tomorrow.

Right now I'm going to cheat with a Pinterest inspired project I actually whipped up a little while ago. I loved this picture of an Audrey Hepburn quote in a vintage frame.
Picture from Etsy:
There's also a plethora of embroidered quotes floating around Pinterest, many of them based on the Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes quote "Home Is Wherever I'm With You."

Also originally from Etsy:
At a neighbor's yard sale I found a great vintage plaster frame for $.50 (the kind of deal I'm always into!). Since there are so many "Home Is..." projects floating around I decided to be a little different and did the "Home Is Wherever We Are Together" meme instead. I smashed together the "quote in a vintage frame" and "embroidered quote about home/love/couplestuff" into one little project.

Creating a quote based embroidery project is super simple. Open up your word processing software, and type away! Even basic fonts can be fun. This project was done in Bauhaus and Bauhaus italicized because I'm all crazy fancy like that. Make it big enough that it will be easy to stitch (bigger is much easier. Tiny letters will make you scream!). I did a combo of split, back, and modified satin stitches (I could explain them to you, but Jenny does it better. And with pretty diagrams!). 

This is how I do it: after printing out the quote I tape it to a glass table and place a thin fabric (this is a leftover bit of muslin, but old sheets work really well) and trace with a very thin marker directly onto the fabric. Yes, this is not an accepted technique (transfers!), but it is simple and requires nothing you don't already own. Monochromatic embroidery projects always look awesome, and I raided my stash of vintage floss, where I had some blue ombre thread, for a monochromatic+ look.

It looked a little boring, so I ironed on small transfers from Sublime Stitching's Labyrinth patterns (yes, I'm a little obsessed with Jenny/Sublime Stitching. No, I'm not paid or promo'ed in anyway for mentioning her every post.) and stitched them out using a split stitch. 

Then I just taped the fabric into my vintage frame, and voila!

And then tragedy struck! As I was taking a picture for this post, the frame fell off the wall. Where it's been hanging for the last couple of weeks. Old glass flew EVERYWHERE around the living room, including into my shoe. Amazingly I didn't get cut. One piece of glass survived the frame's unfortunate fall. It survived it so well I can't  get it out! I'm going to have to take the whole frame apart, but that's going to involve goggles, and I just didn't have it in me quite so early in the morning.

All of this happened, by the way, at about 5:30am. When the picture fell J started yelling in the bedroom "Oh my god, TRACIE!!!! ARE THERE BURGLARS OR DID YOU BREAK SOMETHING?!?!?!?!?!" After I told him about the poor frame's leap from the wall, his next statement was "WHAT ARE YOU DOING TAKING PICTURES AT 5:30 IN THE MORNING?"

Some people. I swear.

Also, a better blogger would've taken pictures of the disaster, but I was to busy trying not to injure myself, and keep two dogs and a cat away from the glass.

Total cost of this project, $.50 (for the frame). It probably took me about two hours. Very easy. You can check out other things I'm dying to embroider on my Pinterest board devoted to the subject.

Can't wait to see everyone else's Pinterest projects! Tomorrow I'll be back with the epic fail of my first project/maybe salvaged first project!

[Along with the Pinterest Challenge hosted by Young House Love, Bower Power, and the Ugly Duckling House, this post was also featured on the Ginger Jamboree. Also featured on Liz Marie's link-up]

Monday, October 29, 2012

Good Lines, But A Total Mess

No, not Neeley O'Hara. Our credenza. It's a nice little mid-century piece with great lines (love those skinny legs), but it's become a total mess, probably because it serves many purposes. It's our landing strip. The drawers hold...well, almost everything. Stray electronics, important papers, wrapping paper/letter writing materials, and craft supplies all find a home here. The center sections holds magazines, books, and various decorative items. The top is our biggest flat surface, excluding the dining room table, in the house. A lamp, our key dish, books, pictures, the television...

Why is it such a mess? It's multi-tasking ways, the fact it's so convenient to drop things here, and not editing it as how we use the space changes. The ancient television isn't even hooked up, because we never watch television in here. And yet there are cords everywhere! J's pile of magazines is falling all over the place, the DVD player has migrated in here for reasons no one can remember (and is backwards, so obviously it's never been used in here!). Really, what's up with this mess? And I really like the credenza! In fact, I'd like to redo it, something I'll pontificate on in a later post. It's starting to stress me out, so time to attack.

After moving the tv and backwards DVD player to the Future Den (more on that UNHOLY MESS some other time), our t-shirt lamps are united for the first time! This also means I can eventually move the side table out of here, which is awesome, because as you can see here it's much to large for the space.

The rest of this fast little credenza makeover consisted of editing down the decorative items. I was hoping to edit the magazines, but J swears he needs all of them. Ahem. Anyway, in the name of marital harmony, I simply turned them around so they became a white block and popped a picture of Lila in front of them.

The credenza now reveals one of my deep, dark secrets. I collect vintage books. There, I said it. “Valley of the Dolls” has had pride of place for awhile now. “The Godfather Papers” now joins it to create a little vintage book/awesome for different reasons movie vignette. On the lower shelf is a stack of cookbooks and craft books from the '60s. Love the cover design on all of these books (and yes, I actually read them).

I love milk glass, and this little vintage hobnail milk glass “I Dream of Jeannie” bottle is one of my favorite things. Unbelievably, I found it in the trash! I think it looks great with the milk glass ashtray we use for a key dish.

And the ugly old curtain/homemade shade things are gone as of tomorrow (I'm making a new window covering as part of the Pinterest Challenge)! The window sported broken, plastic mini-blinds when we moved in with shorty curtains on the side. I threaded a tension rod through the hems of the shorties and hung them as a replacement for the blinds/temporary solution. Almost two years ago. Sigh. Still, they were the best I could do at the time and definitely better than the old blinds!

Did anyone else spend the weekend taking care of an overused/cluttered spot?

Friday, October 26, 2012

My Lamps Wear Underwear!

Even as we struggled to find a color palette that worked with J's dark leather sofa and our living room's cave-like light, I knew I wanted to use bright blue as our main accent color. It's bright, it's happy, it's color we both like (important!), and it ties in to the fact we live at the lake. So one of the first things on my "We Really, Really Have to Buy" list were lamps for the living room. I wanted a matching pair, and I didn't want to spend more than $12 for the set. Lamps are one of those things where I just can't spend money. Thrift stores, yard sales, and other resale places are full of lamps. Most of them, undoubtably, are hideously ugly. But if you look past horrid colors and terrible patterns, you'll see nice shapes. Zero in on the nice shapes. Lamps are so very easy to fix. So we found this set of lamps for $10. For the pair! Yes ma'am! So while the 1980s flower power pattern isn't my taste, the classic Chinese vase shape is. No complaints there. And they even came with shades.
Ugly pattern, cute lamp...painting supplies at the ready!
After bringing the lamps home I taped over the cord and bulb socket with painter's tape, sanded them down with my trusty sanding block, wiped them off with a damp cloth, and spray painted a few light coats (light coats and staying in motion while painting are the keys to a successful spray painting experience!). That still left the shades. Finding lamps with shades is awesome, and rare. Shades are expensive! These, though...they look older than the lamps, and they were brittle to the touch, yellowed, and made me think I smelled smoke every time I looked at them. They needed help.
Painted, but the stinky shade remains

We lived with them for awhile. My first thought was to buy some remnant fabric and recover. Then, as I folded J's undershirts, an idea was born. I raced to the living room and pulled a shirt over the lamp shade. J looked at me like I'd lost my mind. Well, the shirt was way to big! So then I looked through his drawer for a smaller shirt. The medium was practically a perfect fit.

 The first step was to cut the collar and sleeves from the shirts. Then I cut and ripped the old, nasty fabric from the lamp shade. After a quick wipe down, I set to work on recovering the frame. (I really, really wish I'd spray painted the frame at this point.)

Naked Shade!
I pulled the shirt over the frame, pinned into place with straight pins, and then trimmed excess fabric from around the pins (this step made it much easier to sew the fabric). Pull the fabric tight, and keep good tension as you pin around the top and bottom of the shade frame. You don't want the fabric to gap. After raiding my embroidery stash, I found some pretty blue thread that matched the color of the spray paint I used on the lamp bases. Leaving the pins in place, I used a simple back-stitch to sew the shirt to the lampshade frame.

This is a simple, back-stitch diagram:


The needle comes up from the bottom of the cloth at A, C, and E. Check out Jenny's superior tutorial for much, much better diagrams.

 After sewing the top and bottom hems, pull out the straight pins. Here's a close up of my stitched shade:

Do any additional trimming needed. are done! These are the cheapest lampshades ever! And so easy! I spent maybe 90 minutes doing both, and I was watching Bravo at the time. So...I was probably distracted by the nonsense displayed by a random Housewife of Some Place. I did these about six months ago, and the shades still look great! Here's lamp one, with the light on (the ugly curtains behind are soon to be history, thanks to the Fall Pinterest Challenge, which I will unveil on Tuesday!):

No sagging, no bagging, nothing. The total cost of a pair of matching lamps, with new-ish shades? $13. $10 for the lamps, $3 for some cheap spray paint. I used J's shirts and already owned thread for the shades. Here's lamp two.

See this post at Snap and Someday Crafts.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Sadly, this post isn't about instagram or even taking actual photographs. We recently got a new (old) car and shopped around for new insurance. Progressive offered us the best deal, so we went with. Going with Flo the Progressive lady meant accepting her newest accessory. Snapshot. Snapshot is a little device that plugs into your car's data port and reports back to Progressive on the times you drive and the amount of "hard braking" you do. When you "hard brake" Snapshot beeps at you. I love data, and it is pretty cool to log onto the Progressive website at the end of the day and see a breakdown of how I drove that day. Although Progressive says they don't take your speed into account, it does give you a graph of your speeds. I drive faster on expressways than I thought I did.
You can see how Progressive breaks up the day into low, medium, and high risk. You can also easily pick out the time of day I drove on the interstate!
Okay, so the hard braking thing...I don't like it. Progressive defines hard braking as any time you slow down at a rate of more than 7MPH per second. This isn't "slamming the brakes" territory. On cars with standard transmissions, it sometimes counts shifting as hard brakes. I've noticed it tends to count stops on hills as hard brakes, even if it doesn't feel like I'm coming to a hard stop. It counts each second of 7MPH or more slow down as a separate hard brake. The five on the chart above are all from one incident, where someone cut me off, and I did slam the brakes. The beep the Snapshot gives out when you hard brake is annoying, and could be distracting with younger drivers. I might yell at it. Sometimes. When no one else is in the car. Installation was easy, after I figured out where to install it! My owner's manual wasn't helpful, so I went to Progressive's website where I put in information about my car and they showed me a picture of where to find the data port...except it wasn't there. I had to crawl under the steering wheel to finally find it. Progressive needs Snapshot to report more days before I'm offered a discount (oh...I just learned that days you don't drive don't count, unless you crank the car and move it around the driveway a little, so that's going to slow my discount down). I'll report back. Here's hoping the fact I never drive during high risk times and rarely during medium risk helps me out.

EDITED- So my Snapshot discount was calculated. 10% off the total cost of the policy. I've also developed an utter hatred for this thing. You know what doesn't help your stress level when someone in front of you does something insanely stupid, causing you to brake hard? Your Snapshot by Progressive beeping at you! Argh! Also, because of where it hooks into my car it is insanely easy to catch my foot on it as I enter/exit the car.


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