Monday, August 31, 2009

Trash to Treasure: My Cheapskate Black Out Curtains

If you read yesterdays post, you know I was looking for a way to protect my new curtains from sun damage. Are you ready for a really low tech solution?

1. Salvage old sheet from goodwill pile.

2. Rip in half.
Metal Track for Vertical Blinds
3. Use magnets to adhere to vertical blind frame.
Magnets Holding Sheets
I used a cream colored sheet because I would actually like some light to filter through. However, you could always use a darker color for more of a black out effect.

And, if magnets wouldn't work in your situation, I would try thumb tacks or stick on velcro.

For more trash to treasure check out Reinvented!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Time for a Change & Drapery Dilema

Can you call them "drapes" when they are just yardage sewn across the top Nester style?

New Curtains
I have been itching for a change. My feng shui days have taught me to move my stuff when I feel stuck and I have surely felt stuck this summer.

I have done a whole bunch of cleaning and organizing. But the fun stuff that's what I will be sharing in the next few days!

I made new curtains. They are not perfect for sure, but I am very happy with them.

The center panel is a drop cloth. They have been all over the blog world and with good reason. They look great! Someday when I have a house, I am going to do a whole room with drop cloth drapes. It really is just the easiest, most affordable way to get curtains in a long length.

The rest is some $2 a yard yardage from the Michael Levines Home Store downtown. It looks pretty substantial in this picture because it was taken at night. But the fabric is actually quite transparent and thin. During the day they kinda glow with the sunlight coming through. I really like the change from the heavy velvet of yesterday. So light and airy. I was really needing light and airy.

There are vertical blinds behind them, but I was still a bit worried about fading. Fading started to really take it's toll on my old velvet curtains.

What an internal debat! Sew blackouts? Hang something behind the curtains? Or maybe I should just enjoy them and not worry about the fabric too much? When they fade in a few years I can always make new.

In true DYI style I found a cheapskate way to solve my problem! Tune in tomorrow when I share my "trash to treasure" black out curtains!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

DYI: Curtain *Short Cut* & The Story of a Bench

When we first moved in it was glaringly apparent that we would need some sort of heavy drapes to sleep past sun up. Our bedroom has a full So. Cal southern exposure. This picture was taken mid day with no flash. That's bright sun!
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I fell in love with these rusty red velvet drapes at Cost Plus World Market. They were a steal at $40.

The only problem was this...
curtains 006

The length was a good foot too short.

Oh sure, I thought about adding some coordinating fabric to the bottom, but I just couldn't find the right thing. However, my father taught me "there's always more than one way to skin a cat."
The Bench with a Secret
My DYI solution: a slick coat of black paint and a fine cushion! This bench was ready to keep my short curtain secret! The cushion was super simple. I bought foam cut to the right length and wrapped it in fabric. I used tape to hold it together package style as I stitched each part in place. Pictures of my super easy bench cushion cover directions are here.

Actually, this bench/trunk does have an interesting love story and I will spill it now.

Not surprisingly, it came to me by way of the curb. My upstairs neighbors were evicted moving in a hurry and they left a somewhat flimsy scrapped together chest on the curb. I snatched it right up and took it into my room. It was the perfect thing to store some odds and ends in.

A few years later I got interested in feng shui and read the book Move Your Stuff Change Your Life. Come to find out, this cheapo chest was sitting in my "relationship corner." To make matters worse, it had become the catch all for photo albums and stuffed animals from boyfriends past. No coincidence that my biggest complaint at that time was meeting the same kind of non-committed guy over and over again.

Well, it didn't take long for me to get a trash bag and dump those poison possessions!

I filled the bench with my salt and pepper shaker because symbolically they are paired forever. I also hung a picture of Klimt's The Kiss.

Not too long after I met Cliff again. He was my first kiss and the love of my life. You can read our better than a Hollywood movie story here.

Oh, and just to top it off, a few years ago my dear friend Lisa worked with the author of Move Your Stuff Change Your Life , Karen Rauch Carter, and I got to meet her. I also gave video testimony of this very story!

Recently my bench has received a new directive and will be reporting to duty on the balcony very shortly. I have plans for new curtains and new storage for those salt and pepper shakers. Stay tuned!

For more great DYI inspiration check out DYI Day at ASPTL!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

They Don't Look Cheap

School starts in the blink of an eye so I am busy getting my classroom ready. To celebrate our new traditional calendar (No more year round school!!!) I am putting a little extra love into setting up.

I love my public school and believe deeply in it's value, but sometimes when I read homeschool blogs or browse the Magic Cabin catalog, I long for more of the Montessouri/ Waldorf aesthetic. Surely there is room for better design in my classroom? Something that isn't laminated!

My math manipulatives have been in assorted Gladware containers and plastic boxes for the better part of 10 years. Two years ago I moved classrooms 4 times in one school year! It took a toll on all those plastic boxes and they are pretty shabby. Plus, they were all mismatched.

To remedy this situation I bought a big swath of heavy canvas. It was possibly 2lbs (I am guessing) at the $2/LB Loft at Michael Levines downtown. I also got some $0.99 sew in velcro from Joannes. I had a few ribbon scraps in my stash. Some of that was from gift wrap I had received so it was free. I also had freezer paper in my stash. I paid $ 8.95 for 30 sheets and only used maybe 3 sheets total so that works out to be about $1.

1. Sewed up simple bags and pouches with velcro closures.

2.Freezer Paper Stencils

I stenciled on some graphic symbols for easy identification. I was going for a modern clean Ohdeedoh type of look.

3. Here they are drying! Yeah!
Stenciled Storage Bags

4. I used 3M Command Hooks (the best) to hang the bags next to my math board.
Bags for All My Math <span class=

I am in love! They look cool, take up less space, and cost under $15!

For lots more under $15 inspiration head over to Maman Tatoo!

Trash to Treasure Tuesday- Lamp Shade to Planter

This weeks Trash to Treasure project actually comes from my mom. I was so impressed I photographed it and of course, am blogging it!

Dated ceiling fan lampshade.
Ceiling Fan Light Cover

Cute rufflely planter!
Celiling Fan Light Cover Turned Planter
Easy Peasy!

For more great trash to treasure inspiration check out Reinvented.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

“Time's fun when you're having flies.” Kermit The Frog

In the past few weeks I have felt that even the animal kingdom was working to cheer me up.

First it was the frogs who hop around my parents sliding glass door.
Frogs a waitingFrogs
They provided lots of entertainment while we played dominoes at the kitchen table.
In the morning their slimy belly marks were striking in the morning dew.
Frog slime trails in the morning dew
And one morning, I saw this...
Do you see what I see?

It's a frog trail J! What a sweet morning greeting!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thank You

Do you remember the Girl Scout saying, " Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold?"

Well dear blog friends, your lovely comments continue to be a silver lining for my little cloud. I stuck my neck out a bit and found a well of support. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind words, prayers and for sharing your own struggles and successes. The community of women who support each other through blogging is truly a pearl in the vast internet sea.

To my mother and cousin your love and attention was the perfect tonic.

To Piper and Kate-Thank you so much for always being there and most of all for actually being here in person this past week. Your friendship is solid gold.
Pictures from the San Diego Zoo. Is there a more peaceful, graceful animal than the giraffe?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Loss and Learning

After a While
After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
And company doesn't mean security,

And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises

And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open,

With the grace of a woman,
Not the grief of a child

And you learn to build all your roads on today,
Because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After awhile you learn that even sunshine
Burns if you get too much

So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,
In stead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers

And you learn that you really can endure...
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth,
and you learn and learn...
With every good bye you learn.
Veronica Shoffstall 1971

I don't usually write about my personal life too much here. Blogging is sort of my escape from the day to day struggles. But something happened to me this week and I am so surprised at how it's all unfolding that I wanted to share in case you find yourself in this situation.

Cliff and I have been waging war against infertility for four years. We thought that we had finally figured out half our problem. We need IVF to get pregnant. We got pregnant last summer! It was a blissful time that ended far too soon when we lost our twins one at a time at six and seven weeks.

The grief was a whole new color I had never seen. Darker than the darkest dark. Anger was too civilized. No, I was mad. Shame and fear gripped me. I was totally unprepared.

After a few days rest I went back to school in a heavy with grief. My dearest colleague-sister-friend (who I have written about before), took me by the hand and lead me to a support group. It was one of the most generous things someone has done for me.

A year of support group, two surgeries, and a failed frozen round of IVF later, I found myself back at it. We felt brave enough to endure the twice daily injections and the steep price tag of IVF again.

Once again the fresh round worked! Cliff and I found ourselves taking tiny leaps of faith and slowly allowing ourselves to get excited. We were pregnant! We heard the heartbeat! Our doctor said, "Only a 2% chance of miscarriage!" Relief flooded over us. My mother started knitting. After many weeks of nervousness, I started sewing.

But, " futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight." Friday I had another ultra sound and instantly, clear as day, I saw that there was no heartbeat.

I was utterly shocked and yet not surprised. I have learned that two opposing emotions can sit side by side very easily. Fear and joy. Shock and knowing. All week there had been little taps so to speak. Hints that things were off.

The worst part was having to tell Cliff. That scene, in my mind, was the closest thing to a horror film that I have ever lived. It was a night of shared devastation.

The next day Cliff insisted that we go for a drive.

He took me to Ohjai. Driving through farmland and hills so far away from the city had a calming effect. We spent the day wandering around town. We lingered in bookstores and gift shops. The sunshine and cool breeze was very healing. We had margheritas! One of our longstanding personal jokes played out when Cliff ordered a raspberry magarita off the menu only to be told that they don't make raspberry margaritas. I laughed so deeply it took me off guard.

Now, I find myself surprisingly at peace. Peacefully sad. Greiving, but not drowning.

I know that this "little monkey"is up in heaven with his siblings. I also know what to expect. I know that the next month will be rough as the hormones recede. I know that in about 5 weeks my body will feel normal, but the heart will take longer. I am happy to still be on vacation for this transition. It sucks, but it's so much easier than trying to teach in a fog. I know that somehow, someway the money will come so that we can try again. I know that in a year, I will remember the sadness like a scar, but I won't feel it as much. I know I can endure.

Which is why I decided to write this today. I think women need to share our survival stories. If you are or ever go through this, please feel free to email me. I would love to support you in any way that I can.

My future has been altered. On a grand scheme and in the little day to day things. Even the crafty, thrifty, bloggy things. So, I am going to take a little break. We have a trip to Florida to see my parents planned. Then Piper and Kate are coming for a visit. There is nothing like old friends to soothe what ails you.

Back in mid August.