Mini-Project (YES I read design blogs)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

We just returned from several days visiting family in Dallas; hence the blog absence. The trip to Ikea proved fruitful and will provide basis for many more projects. Cannot wait to get my hands on those after this weekend's family extravaganza (all of J's brothers + families will be here).

This is a very small project I completed several wks ago. I ordered this Keep Calm and Carry On poster a few months ago. Yes, I read design blogs. And yes, this poster has been featured on many a one. I, along with everyone else, turned out to be a sucker for its simple and effective message (addressed in the article below). I first saw it in one of the last domino issues. Interesting article on its recent resurgence into popular culture/phenomenon here (or below):

‘Keep calm and carry on:’ The greatest motivational poster ever?
British wartime poster is red-hot
By Colleen Mastony
March 21, 2009

A British World War II propaganda poster discovered a decade ago at the bottom of a box has become the latest craze among shoppers scrambling to buy anything and everything emblazoned with the poster’s wartime motto: “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

Printed on a bright red background and topped by the crown of King George VI, the posters have sprung up everywhere lately, from an art show in New York City to Buckingham Palace and now in shops around Chicago. T-shirts, mugs, aprons, rugs and key chains are all selling briskly. Even soccer star David Beckham reportedly has the T-shirt.

“At the end of the day, whatever may happen, all you can do is keep calm and carry on. You can’t panic,” said Mark Coop, 34, of Surrey, England, who runs the Web site “It appeals to everyone from young mums with screaming babies to people in the big financial institutions who are going up the walls.”

Commissioned by the British Ministry of Information in 1939, the original poster was meant to be distributed in the case of a catastrophic event, such as a German invasion. That invasion, of course, never happened. The 2.5 million copies of the posters were never distributed, never seen by the public and were eventually pulped.

The inspirational message was lost to history until nine years ago, when Stuart Manley, a seller of used books in Northumberland, England, found a folded paper at the bottom of a box of books. He pulled out the paper and, to his surprise, discovered the vintage poster. It is believed to be one of only two in existence. The other belongs to the Imperial War Museum.

Manley framed the poster and hung it in his bookshop. After scores of people asked to buy it, Manley decided to have a few copies printed. Since then, he and his wife, Mary, have sold 40,000 reproductions (to buy one, go to: That doesn’t include thousands more peddled by entrepreneurs capitalizing on the Manleys’ find.

“What I love, right along with everyone else, is how that poster itself would be, against all odds, a survivor of war,” Mary Manley wrote in her blog this month. “Its message—so simple, so clean, so without spin — has turned out to have meaning not just for a single people in a time of trouble, but for all of us, wherever we live, whatever our troubles.”

Anyway, so I joined in the trend and bought this poster on etsy here, finding this to be the most reasonable price for one. The size seemed kind of wonky, so I didn't know what I would do about framing and matting it on the cheap. I ended up buying a standard 16"x20" black poster frame at Target for $9.99 or somesuch. The wall in my kitchen where I wanted to hang this, close to the dining room table, did not really have any black on it. So I spray-painted (shocker) the frame grey. Then, at my crafts-savvy mother-in-law's suggestion, purchased some fabric (from Jo-Ann of course) for the background. You can't really see it in this picture, but it's a cream-colored fabric with very faint monochromatic floral pattern on it. I think the colors work nicely, no? Again, apologies for the crummy pictures. I sound like a broken record.

Project #3: Headboard

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Alas, Marilyn, I had already had the headboard finished last Thursday night. I just hadn't posted it yet. (Sorry to be a stinker!) Also, as always, this picture of it stinks. And we don't have proper bedding on it yet. A better picture is down the road.

The fabric I chose for the headboard is "Koto" by Alexander Henry, purchased at Jo Ann (my favorite new addition to Memphis).

This is the best online picture I've found up-close of the fabric, pattern shown vertically (found here):

What I didn't realize until we started putting this together is that the pattern is not really horizontal on the bolt. Well, it is, but it's not. There would have been no way to have the pattern be horizontal without cutting and sewing a piece together to get the pattern vertical. Does that make sense? Kind of a bummer, but Martha convinced me that the pattern is irregular enough that it didn't matter.

I kind of got in trouble w/J for not doing enough research before tackling this project. Admittedly, I just thought "Oh, Martha made one of these and winged it... we'll be fine." Well, Martha's mind is far more technically oriented than mine (she actually liked to play with legos when we were little). So, after a few adjustments, we got this puppy put together.

Materials for our full-sized headboard:

-piece of plywood cut at Home Depot 56"x35"
-one 2x4 cut into two pieces (this is where we ran into initial problems with my stupid brain) ... they ended up being cut into two 40" pieces
-2 yd of fabric
-staple gun
-2 yd batting (also from Jo Ann--not sure the thickness or anything, I just asked the lady)
-2 longer screws for the 2x4s
-decorative tacks

If you want more detailed instructions, just ask me or leave a comment. You pretty much just lay the batting down, fabric over it, and staple gun it around the sides, and screw in the 2x4 legs. We just hammered in the decorative tacks for a little something extra (I was able to figure out this math on my own). I would estimate this whole thing cost under $30. I can't remember what I spent on the wood, is the thing. And we already had access to the staple gun.

Possible cover for the bed from Ikea (link here):

Obviously, there can never be too much green in my life... and I want to bring the green out of the headboard fabric.

Caveat: I am beyond thrilled about traveling to Ikea this weekend while we are in Dallas visiting family for our 4th annual Memorial Day trip. I've been working on my Ikea list for weeks!

I'll post a little mini-project tomorrow peut-etre.

Project #2: Bulletin Board

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Behold my new bulletin board. I searched and searched online for inspiration, tidbits of instruction, and some good pictures of completed ones before attempting this, but never really found detailed instructions for exactly what I wanted to do. I didn't want criss-cross ribbon, a magnetic board backer ($), or fabric swatches sewn together for the front.

So I will include my own little instructions here. It really wasn't very hard. We finished this in about 20ish minutes, when all was said and done (have yet to complete Step Six, which will take 5 minutes after a trip to the store?)

First, I got this frame from the leftover pile on the street at Martha's house after the estate sale was held there (don't worry, I didn't take it until the house was officially "theirs" and the estate sale was finished). Read: FREE. There was this picture in it of a barn that was kind of neat, but Jonathan hated it. Plus, the picture was ruined from getting rained on and would've been slightly expensive to salvage, so it went to the trash. I was going to spray-paint this frame, but I kind of liked the wood/linen-ish look w/the fabric I picked out.

Step two: I picked out this fabric at Jo Ann, and purchased one of those 4-packs of cork board tiles. Unfortunately, the frame required another tile (cut in half) but I didn't want to spend another $10 and have 3 tiles leftover. Enter: crafty mother-in-law to the rescue. She had a spare roll of cork that I spray-mounted to a piece of foam board for width and cut to size. You can kind of see the line there because it's not exactly the same width as the cork tiles, but cheapskates can't be picky.

Step three: spray-mounted the cork tiles to a thin piece of cardboard, which was cut to fit right inside the frame.

Step four: spray-mounted the fabric to the cork, and trimmed the extra fabric on the sides. Then I staple-gunned the corners behind the cardboard piece.

Step five: slid the whole cork/fabric/cardboard piece into the frame, where Jonathan staple-gunned it in, kind of at an angle, using longer staples. He may have thrown in some extra staples for good measure.

Step six (which is not complete yet): get some little hanging bracket thingys from Home Depot to screw in to both sides of the frame for hanging. This shouldn't be too hard? It's going to go above my desk where I do stationery orders, more like a real office/studio deal.

There you have it. Again, my apologies for the semi-crummy picture.

Project #1 of 457,891: The Dresser

Monday, May 18, 2009

Just kidding. I'm not planning to do almost half a million projects, although sometimes it feels that way when I start making lists. Seems like the more blogs I read, the more projects I want to do! But it's fun nonetheless!

So we finally got the dresser painted and put back in place, and I was able to snap a few pictures. We definitely have to clean out our "ebay pile" (i.e., junk pile) and such that's on the floor around it, but we'll get to that. Several things have to happen first--you know how that is.

Without further adieu, dresser before:

...and dresser after (sorry these are not good quality):

I have to give proper credit to my dear husband, who was responsible for touching up the blue stripes on the drawers, and did a very wonderful job getting them so exact. He definitely has more patience than I do! He had this dresser from before we were married, I think it was from a thrift store... and it was full of my clothes, so I wanted to spruce it up a bit!

we're all going to float away...

Monday, May 11, 2009

It's been raining raining raining so much recently. While this is good for my flowers, it's not so good for my succulents. One of them is literally rotting and I am very sad; am going to have to take it to my parents' Greenhouse Rehab Center (2 of my succulents already reside here, thanks to Red's love for succulent play-toys).

First week of the 4-day workweek was a success! I got so much done on Friday: purchased fabric for new headboard and bulletin board, plywood and 2x4s for headboard, paint for my dresser, spray-painted 6 frames, went for a run, and got my new car title and license plate in my new name. Unfortunately, I have to prime the 2 patio chairs before getting to paint them, and need to purchase spray primer first.

If it will ever quit raining, I will post pictures of my garden soon, as well as before-and-after of the dresser and patio chairs.

We were over at Martha and Dudley's new house some this weekend too, and they are making tons of progress! Those should be some killer before-and-after pics.

Mother's Day was good. Martha and I made a toast at lunch yesterday: "to not being mothers." I can honestly say that this year, I am perfectly content being thankful for my own mother(s) and grandmothers.

Today is the first day of the next 3 months...

Monday, May 04, 2009

Today begins a new chapter in my work-life. I will now work four 10-hour days every week, enjoying Fridays off, for the next 3 months. I am one of four participants in this 3-month trial program for my department. And I have somewhat mixed feelings.

My hours will be/are 7:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m. This will force a bit of an adjustment in my daily schedule. Before today, I would wake up around six a.m., get dressed/shower, piddle, pack my lunch and breakfast, and get to work anywhere between 7:10-7:30. Around 3:30, the itch to go home would commence, and I usually would leave work around 3:45 or 4 p.m. Admittedly, this was a very nice schedule. I still had plenty of time to go to the post office, deposit checks in the bank, make it to the grocery before the 5 o'clock onslaught, and in the winter, enjoy several minutes of daylight. I could also stay an hour or so later in order to leave early on Fridays.

Leaving work at 5:30 will be a stretch, but I am weighing it against the bliss of being off every Friday. Crafts, projects, workout classes, and extended weekend trips now have a day of their own! I have no doubt this extra free day will be an enormous asset; but Thursday afternoons I will probably be wiped OUT.

What would you have done?
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