Archive | March, 2011

Puzzle Friends

7 Mar

Aleah is just now getting over croup.  My first experience with the lovely illness that makes you sound like a seal.

Soph had a fever a couple days ago and still isn’t her complete smiley self.

And I have a bad sore throat.  Still trying to decide if I should suck it up and go to work tonight or just call the whole thing off and continue staying in my pjs and watch a movie.

I’m very thankful that Jared is here to pick up the pieces in between homework assignments.

Anyone else ready for spring?

I am so ready to open up all the windows and get some fresh air pumped into this claustrophobic, germ infested apartment.

I am ready to go outside without ten layers on.

I am NOT ready for the snow storm that is suppose to be here tomorrow.

I am ready for my family to not be sick anymore.

Anyone else?

Now that we got that out of the way, here is a little video that is bound to make you feel a bit better.  Or just distract you for 1 minute and 57 seconds.

Canvas Board Art

5 Mar

The canvas boards covered in fabric are probably what I am most proud of in Aleah’s room.

If purchased new, canvas boards can be very expensive.  I know some people make their own, but I haven’t taken on that task yet, nor have I needed to.  Here’s why:

Whenever I am in a thrift store, the first thing I look for are canvas board pictures.  Most of them are quite hideous and it is pretty embarrassing buying them.  I always want to explain to the clerk, “I promise I am not going to hang this creepy picture of a clown on my wall. I am going to cover the extremely ugly picture with cute fabric. I promise.” But instead, I quietly pay for my horrible pieces of art and quickly walk away.

Once I’m home I find a secret place to hide the frightening art work until I can begin my projects.  Then I begin the miracle transformation:

First, I cut out a piece of fabric for the background that extends about four inches beyond the the canvas board in all directions.

Second, I draw the design (a bird, elephant, etc) on some fabric with invisible ink and cut it out.  You can keep it simple by merely having one design in the picture, but you can also add colors and shapes to the design by using different fabrics for different parts of the picture.  You’ll see what I mean below.

Then we have a few options.  You can either buy ‘heat and bond’ and simply iron the design onto the background, or you can get a little more complicated and sew around the border of each shape.

Forth, put the finished fabric over your canvas board and staple it to the wooden frame on the backside of the canvas, pulling it tight so there are no lumps.  I should have used a good, heavy duty stapler, but I didn’t have one so I just used an ordinary paper one.  It has held great and I haven’t had any problems.

Fifth, stand back and enjoy what you have made!  Wasn’t that fun and easy and impressive?

This is the first one I ever made

I am not a huge fan of this one but after it layed around for weeks, Jared made me finish it. You can see, it was quite tedious because each section of the caterpillar was cut and sewn individually. Oh...and buttons for eyes!

The only part about this I like is the way the rays come off the picture because they are only sewn at the base

I made these elephants much later than the other designs, and I was inspired by looking through a Pottery Barn Kids magazine and seeing a wall decal that I liked

So go crazy with this idea and have fun with it.  This project is fairly simple yet very rewarding.  It makes for a perfect weekend project!

Thrifty Thursday

3 Mar

Hi, Jared here, and it’s time for Thrifty Thursdays.  Now of course, living thrifty doesn’t necessarily mean you have to shop at thrift stores all the time.  There are plenty of ways to save money that don’t involve sorting through racks of stinky clothes, separating pages stuck with gum in that book you thought you wanted, and laughing at the vintage VHS titles along the wall as you wait for the dressing room with your “three items or less.”  But Cait and I love thrifting.  It’s often rewarding, mildly dangerous, and even when we don’t find anything worth purchasing, the experience itself always provides some sort of amusement.

And really, as we look around our apartment, it’s clear we’ve accumulated some pretty awesome stuff over the last few years.  So what’s the key?  How does one wade through those sloughs of grimy junk to find something of true value?

Here’s my advice: Persistence, Patience, and Decisiveness.

Most people’s interest in thrifting never gets beyond the whole “ironic t-shirts and ugly sweaters” fad that strikes most of us in high school and lasts sometime into young adulthood.  We walk into the store, try on a bunch of funny outfits, and walk out with whatever clever thing we found.  But real thrifting – true treasure hunting – takes persistence and patience.  You have to know what sorts of things are valuable to you; you have to visit thrift stores frequently enough to get an idea of the ebb and flow of quality products in the store; and then, when you come across that high-quality good you’ve been waiting for, you must snatch it up.  Don’t hesitate.  Don’t convince yourself it will be there until next week’s “discount day;” and don’t let that creepy lady watching you from the edge of the aisle sneak up and grab it as soon as you step away.  Quality goods go fast at thrift stores.  Get ‘em while the gettin’s good!

And remember, with thrifting, a little patience can go a long way.  Retail stores are set up for instant gratification.  You know what you want, you know where to find it, and you go get it (along with a bunch of other stuff you realized you needed along the way).  But thrift shops are different.  You don’t always know if they have what you need, so most of the time you just wait — sometimes days, sometimes months, sometimes a few years.  And then, when it shows up, you happily pay the thrifty price and walk away.  Well done!

So with that, here are some of our quality thrift store finds.  Under each picture I’ll describe the product and briefly share the story about how it came to be ours:

My two sets of running shows have both come from the thrift store, and when I bought them they were basically unused.  Aside from analyzing the general appearance, I always check the treads to see how much use they’ve seen.  The Asics on the left have lasted me well over a year and are my primary running shoes.  I bought the Sauconys last summer and wear them mostly as street shoes.  Both sets of shoes have been great, but knowing that they probably won’t last much longer, I’ve always got my eyes peeled for that next great pair of almost-new shoes.

I bought these Vans snowboard boots three years ago, and when I went to take a picture of them this morning, the price was still visible on the bottom — $6.95.  Wow!  I only get to snowboard a few times a year so these are holding up quite well, and for that price, what more could you ask for?

You may be sensing a theme here…yes, my wife and I have obtained much of our outdoor gear from the thrift store.  And this is what I mean by patience.  We easily could run out to REI everytime we need something and pay top price for quality stuff.  Or, we could patiently visit thrift stores, knowing what we need, and then rejoice at the reward of finding high-end stuff for rock-bottom prices.  Both my wife’s and my winter boots have come from thrift stores.  Caitlyn wears the Columbia boots on the left, and the Kamiks on the right are mine.  We probably spent somewhere between $15 and $20 for each pair of boots, and if purchased at full price they each run near $100.

If you had to guess which pair of Salomon nordic ski boots belong to me and which belong to my wife, you’d probably be wrong.  Cait wears the the yellow pair and I prance around the snow in my white and purple.  The pair on the left are Caitlyn’s from before high school, and we had been sharing them for the duration of our marriage (which obviously meant we rarely got to ski together).  Then, earlier this winter I came across the pair on the right for $15, and they honestly looked like they had never been used. A new pair of Salomon boots can run anywhere between $50 and $200, so I bought them without hesitation thinking Cait would wear them I would take the yellow pair, but she wasn’t easily parted with the boots she’d been wearing for years.  Thus, the purple and white are mine and I couldn’t be happier =)

These cast-iron skillets might be my thrifting pride and joy.  All of these came from the exact same thrift store.  Every time we visit I take one quick stroll down the dish aisle scanning for cast-iron, and they’re becoming harder and harder to find.  Do you know how expensive cast iron is?  I don’t think I’ve paid any more than $6 or $7 for any of these, and with a little scrubbing and re-seasoning, they are as good as new.

Various other items around the apartment have come from the thrift store, but these are some of the obvious highlights.  We’ll continue to keep you posted on great thrift finds as they come; and in the comment thread feel free to share your greatest thrifting successes, and we can all inspire each other to greater and greater thrifty living.

Aleah’s Room

2 Mar

Aleah’s room is the happiest room in our apartment. Sometimes I wish it were my room.

I have worked on her room gradually over the past few years, and over time it has filled up with nifty projects.  One random craft at a time and this is what it looks like today:

Over the next few weeks I will be taking you through the many projects that make up her room, from the canvases covered with fabric to the curtains and quilt, and I’ll share about the different inspirations that have informed this crafty decor.  See you again soon!