Santa Barbara street sign photographs and guest bedroom reveals



A few years ago, I came up with an idea to create custom art for a client’s guest bedroom. Since the house was here in Santa Barbara, and the room was a guest room, I thought it would be fun to take photos of street signs that were iconic to Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara Street, Mission Street, California Street) and print, frame, and hang them ourselves.




Santa Barbara street sign photography



Cute/fun/intriguing, right? But the project never got off the ground. Or, more to the point, neither the client nor I made the time to go around snapping street signs.


Fast forward five years later to the client who has




an open mind..


and an iPhone that takes very good photos!



And that is how my idea for custom Santa Barbara street sign photographs, to hang in a guest bedroom, finally came to fruition.



A guest room which began like this…





Guest Bedroom before




Well, not exactly like this. The first element to be ordered was the seagrass headboard which was prevented from having its true moment until we fixed up the rest of the room.



Which we did…





Guest bedroom shot after




There was a bit of cajoling before I could convince her of the greatness of this nightstand from Pottery Barn, but the moment we placed it she agreed it added the right amount of world-traveler-whimsy to the space.





Pottery Barn trunk side table glass table lamp



The other side of the bed…




Nightstand jute shade lamp





And the other side of the room with a new lamp, pillows and accessories…




One day, or so I’m promised, we can reupholster that chair in an oatmeal shade of Belgian linen. For now, it got a pillow makeover. The orange table lamp was a super find as it tied in so nicely with the custom orange bolster pillow.  PS, My client sewed all the pillows herself with fabric we selected from Your Remnant Store.




White bed seagrass headboard 2





Not bad, eh?





Three blue and white Euros pillows on bed



Note: The street sign photos were taken on a regular ol’ iPhone and printed in sepia at regular ol’ Costco. We popped them into pre-fab frames from Aaron Brother’s and…ta da…inexpensive, original art, ideal for a Santa Barbara guest bedroom was born!



Speaking of guest bedrooms, here’s Guest Bedroom Number Two as I first saw it…





Guest bedroom before






Not bad. It has that all-white bed thing going for it. But we could do better, so it was transformed into this…





Guest bedroom after 1



The nightstands…





Nightstand in guest bedroom





Opposite wall…





Guest bedroom other view(More Santa Barbara-themed art, this time an old rendering of the Santa Barbara Mission.)





Notice the lighter version of the seagrass headboard that we used in the other bedroom and, my favorite part, the custom Euro pillows (Kravet fabric: Nashik/Bluemoon) that my client was happy to sew herself!





Guest bedroom with three pillows seagrasss headboard





Here’s to turning the ideas floating around in our heads into finished projects! 🙂




Happy weekend!



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Succulents and roses: DIY wedding bouquet!


Before there was a burgeoning baby bump…




Kisha bump shot by plants




before each day was a new day to receive different advice on co-sleeping, sleep training, and BPA-free bottles; another opportunity to try to fathom how a little baby will change our lives in such a big way, there were more casual thoughts…




like how to plan a DIY wedding.




It feels like forever ago, but just last September we had our Big Day full of rustic this and handmade that and one of the best elements was the bouquet




…inspired by this one!




Meryl Brown Bouquet inspiration




Oh so pretty, but also so pricey which prompted the DIY idea.



The task began with step one…



Pick your flora. I was lucky enough to have the help of a friend and mentor who just happened to have an account at a wholesale nursery, but flowers from Trader Joe’s, Costco, and/or your local Farmer’s Market, are also reasonable sources.




flowers at florist




Act fast or wear a parka; it’s cold in there!



I remember those walk-in refrigerator rooms being so chilly I had to grab a blanket from the car to wrap myself in like I was wearing a giant shawl–if shawls came in orange fleece. Now, that I’m pregnant and like a walking fevered person who daydreams about ice hotels and the walk-in at Costco where they keep the milk and eggs, this frigid rooms sounds teeth-chatteringly pleasant.




Flowers at wholesale florist




 Hurry, before the frost bite sets in!





Greenery at wholesale florist




Lay out your picks before you make your final purchase.



Just like designing a room, you want all the components to work together. I brought the stump and glass hurricane along with us as a reminder of what the centerpieces would look like. Notice how the glass is starting to fog from being in the fridge one moment, the tepid air the next. To my annoyance, my eye glasses were doing the exact same thing so I had to view our selection through a foggy haze. Good thing I had another set of eyes with me. Perhaps that should be the next tip.



Bring along a friend whose opinions you value. You’re stressed out enough; don’t try to tackle this alone.




Flowers lined up at wholesale florist




Once at home, set the stems in buckets of water and place the bucket in the fridge until the moment you are ready to assemble your bouquet. (Once your bouquet is made, it will go back in the fridge to chill until it’s ceremony time.)



Gather your supplies: floral wire, floral tape, scissors, wide ribbon and pearl hat pins.





Tools for DIY bouquet




Arrange a small cluster of flowers, working from the center, out. You will end up making a few of these small groupings and wrapping them together as one large bouquet.







DIY bouquet



We skipped the succulents for my bouquet, but they are so easy to work with that I did a bouquet-making-reenactment to show you how.



Gather your succulents.




Succulents for wedding bouquet




Use your fingers to pinch off any extra leaves.





Pinch leaves off succulent make bouquet





Once you have a clean stem, insert floral wire near the top and pull through to create two loose ends dangling near the stem.






Floral wire in succulent bouquet





Wrap the two loose ends together. 





wrapping floral wire succulent bouquet





Cover the wire “stem” by wrapping it with floral tape. Tug at it as you go so the tape will become tacky and stick to itself.






wrap floral wire with floral tape diy bouquet




Repeat this process for each succulent floret.





wrap succulents floral tape diy wedding bouquet




Continue making your small groupings until you are ready to bring them together and wrap as one.






make your own bouquet





As you build your bouquet, stand in front of a mirror and hold your bouquet in front of you so you can see how it will be viewed during the ceremony and in photos.






making your own wedding bouquet





When you have it just right, wrap the stems together with floral tape. Submerge the bottom of the stems in a container of water inside your refrigerator. Just before the ceremony, wrap the floral tape with ribbon starting at the top and working your way down. Tuck in or fold over the raw edge of the ribbon and pin it in place. For extra security, pin the ribbon at both the bottom and top. 




I did not have a picture of this process as my friend kindly did this step for me while I was getting ready, so I did another reenactment as seen below.





DIY succulent wedding bouquet





We used the leftover flowers to decorate the cake.





wedding cake succulents tree stump





We used them for the centerpieces, as well. Since the wedding was located in a high-fire area, we only used battery-operated candles so we didn’t risk the fern fronds burning. Instead, when night fell, they looked so pretty with the glow of the candle behind them.






wedding centerpiece ferns succulents tree tump




The same technique of wiring and wrapping was used to create the boutonnieres and for the bridesmaid bouquets…





Bride and bridesmaids holding wedding bouquets over faces





and the rest went to the bouquet!






Bouquet 2



See? Totally easy!



Thank you to Jennifer Taylor of Taylor House Interiors for teaching me how it’s done so I could have a bouquet just as pretty as the one that was not in the budget! 🙂




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Five-minute DIY circle painting!

I was inspired by the circle painting on the left.



Image via Houzz; design by Amber Interiors.



In fact, I was inspired by the entire space but it’s a completely different design direction than we’re taking our house since our 1958 house is whispering (yelling, in some areas) that it should go modern. Thus, we’ve installed a frosted glass and aluminum front door; the single panel Shaker style interior doors we ordered (a full 11 weeks ago, but were back-ordered!) to replace our current, flat panel, hollow doors (the ones with the veneer that has begun to split and peel at the bottom creating an unsightly, pants-snagging “fringe” effect) go in tomorrow; and, as far as trim, we’re opting for minimal and as many ninety degree angles as possible. Not an arch in sight!



But the circle painting…it could certainly fit into almost any decor. Including ours!



So I hacked it…




And so can you!




So let’s get started!




Like any good hack, it begins with an IKEA product: the  27 1/2″  x 39 1/4″ RIBBA* frame for $24.99.




Ribba practice drawing circles




*Note: I chose a black frame, but when I just looked at IKEA online, the only colors listed for this size were Brown or Aluminum; however, those colors would work as well. Maybe the Brown more than the Aluminum-if we’re going to get picky about it.



1. Sketch the design on a piece of paper to get your wrist warmed up. Then, using a wide brush and black acrylic craft paint, paint a trial run directly on the plastic-wrapped frame. This helps your hand and wrist get a sense of how big those circles must be in order to fit the scale of the frame. If you don’t like your first go-round, if you work fast enough, you can use a wet paper towel to wash off the first attempt, and try again.




Paint in foil in bowl




Handy tip: I like to pour my paint into any disposable plastic container (i.e., yogurt, salsa, wrinkle cream) so I can feel okay about dumping (recycling) it when the the little bit of remaining paint has dried and can easily be peeled away. However, with no plastic containers available, I wrapped a porcelain bowl with foil which completely protected the bowl and made for easy clean up and I have now decided this is the superior method.





Ribba template




2. Place your brown craft paper on the ground. Use the RIBBA paper that comes with the frame, which is conveniently the same size as the plexiglass, to create your template and cut your craft paper to size.




DIY black painting circles drying





3. If you have as little patience as I do, and are into this self-imposed five minute deadline thing, a hairdryer will help speed up the drying process.




4. Use a black Sharpie marker to autograph your art so everyone who sees the image can associate its universal appeal with little ol’ you. Once the image has dried, pop it back into the frame in preparation for hanging your masterpiece.



Note: And don’t, please don’t, stare at the plexiglass and wonder why IKEA was “so stupid!” as to print “IKEA” on both sides of the plexiglass, then call your mom to schedule the next pilgrimage to IKEA because, you whine, “They will have to take this useless thing back; I can’t use it with “IKEA” stamped all over it!” only to take a nap from which you awaken refreshed with your pregnant brain recharged and back to the state of a normal, thinking person’s brain and then realize the plexiglass was covered with stamped, protective sheets of plastic that peel off both sides of the plexiglass in under two seconds.  And then you deeply regret using the word “stupid” and compulsively eat three brownies to make the universe feel right again. Nope, don’t do that.




Black circles modern DIY painting




Full disclosure:  In our house where the flooring is pulled up to expose the concrete (and we’re not talking the pretty, intentional polished kind but the When-are-those-darn floors coming, again? variety), and every interior door and jamb has been ripped from the walls in preparation for new doors, and the dining table is hanging out in the living room, where it really doesn’t fit, because the new doors are in the dining room, you might understand how there is NO PLACE TO PHOTOGRAPH OUR HOUSE WHERE IT DOESN’T LOOK LIKE A CONSTRUCTION ZONE except for in front of the fireplace! So the ornate gilded mirror that usually lives above the fireplace came down and I put my styling powers to the test to give you a hint of how this painting could look…



…in your normal, I’m just guessing here, non-construction zone house.





However, the moment those fireplace photos were snapped, I hung the circle painting where it will really live…




Black circles DIY painting entry




In the entry where, one day, when the doors and floors are installed and the walls are painted, and we move the heater up to the attic so the intake vent can be relocated as a ceiling vent and not make it an illogical place to set a basket, this space will look so pretty with a circle painting.


One day! 🙂




Happy Friday!





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Biggest (little) project!

I had to think for a moment about how to categorize this post. Design Musings? Nah, that’s better suited for a future post on nurseries. Before and After? (I could show you some tummy-tracking selfies that might make you gasp, “How much weight are you supposed to gain in the first trimester?!” and understand why my wardrobe has had so many reruns as of late. Black stretchy pants and Indian tunic: I couldn’t have put off buying actual maternity clothes for so long without you!) Nope, this one is definitely going to be filed under Projects.



Projects with an estimated completion date…



of 11/15/15.





Bun in the oven



Translation: As of this posting, I am 16 weeks pregnant! And, yes, that blue oven means something: it’s a boy!



A big thanks to Farid at Reid’s Appliances who never balked once when I walked in toting a tiny paper bag containing the Mexican pastry I bought down the street for the sole purpose of It Was The Only Pastry That Didn’t Have Pink Frosting, and asked, “Would it be all right if I did a ‘Bun in the Oven’ photo shoot using your ovens?”*


*I really wish I could tell you who makes this awesome looking oven but lately my hormone-addled brain has experienced a few, “Hmm. That’s a good question,” moments.  Ah “pregnancy brain”, how long will I get to use you as an excuse?


But, I can tell you this. We’re very, very excited and we’re scrambling to transform our house’s current state of bare concrete floors (when JB, in a moment of great ambition, last winter, pulled up our carpet, we never imagined we’d be staring at this unsightly, pitted concrete for this long), the splitting-in-long-strips-at-the-bottom, noise-transferring hollow core doors with builder-grade brass handles, the walls painted a shade I’ve, not so affectionately, termed Band-Aid, and…oh, yeah there’s that little (big!) detail of transforming the guest room which has served as JB’s walk-in closet for far too long (or from the moment we moved in and I took over ours) into a Pin-It worthy nursery.


But, in other news, we just found out the house next door to ours is for sale which prompted us to take a good long, shock-inducing look at our front yard–that we recently had stripped and yanked of its former ivy ground cover, yet that tenacious ivy soldiers on and is popping back up like a darn weed–and inspired us to spend the weekend fixing up the front yard first, before we drive the price of the nice neighbor’s house down! I figure I better do all I can while I still have the gusto.




Happy, gusto-filled, weekend to you!



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The eggceptional style of ostrich eggs!

Well, we’ve all seen chicken eggs used to decorate for Spring. Natural, dyed, real or faux, they look pretty and are likely to inspire at least one, “Aw, isn’t that cute?” But only in this season. After Easter, keep those same eggs on display and you’re more likely to hear, “Have you cracked up?”




Two ostriches walkingImage source.



At least that’s the case for chicken eggs. But ostrich eggs are the egg anomaly. Up to 7″ long and weighing as much as 5 lbs, they’re the largest of all living species’ eggs. (The giant moa of New Zealand and elephant birds of Madagascar, now extinct, produced larger eggs.)





Single ostrich eggImage source.




As for appearance, no dye is necessary; their beautiful cream-toned shell looks best in the buff. And they have year-round appeal. In other words, they’re impressively large objects of natural, timeless beauty with a side order of quirkiness. Here are some ways to incorporate them into your home.





Ostrich eggs in bowl antlersSource unknown.





A good egg: I’ve had a bowl of ostrich eggs resting either on my buffet, coffee or entry table for years and an ostrich egg lamp on my bedside table that I found at a garage sale for $15 and have treasured ever since. But as much as I have a thing for ostrich eggs, I knew next to nothing about the birds that produce them. A quick internet search changed that. Allow me to boil my hours of research into these few fun facts.





Ostrich egg lamp bedsideSource: my bedroom. There’s Lilo (in the framed photo) lounging in leopard print.







Three baby ostriches open mouthsImage source.






Did you know?: Ostriches are native to South Africa. There farmers encourage them to roam alongside their sheep and cattle because, while ostriches eat a mostly vegetarian diet of grasses, fruits, flowers and the occasional locust, they can also take down the prey of their fellow grazers (think mountain lions) with one swift kick. If you’re human, you may also be kicked and killed, but the ostrich is just as likely to be afraid of you and run away–clocking in at speeds up to 43 mph–or hide, laying its body flat to the ground.







Ostrich eggs in bowl Elle Decor nude gallery wallSource Elle Decor.





But they won’t be burying their heads in the sand. That myth likely stems from their system for nest building. A dominant male uses its head to dig a hole in the sand, creating a nest for his hens’ eggs. While doing so, his head appears to be buried, as does the female’s as she dips her head into the nest to turn the eggs. No head burying involved! Instead, if she’s the dominant female, she’s likely too busy sniffing out the weaker females’ eggs and tossing them out of the nest, in an alpha-imposed natural selection process.






Ostrich egg mirror Elle decorSource Elle Decor.





Foot fact: Ostriches can also be a bit fumbly on their feet and have been known to step on and crush their own beautiful eggs. This may or may not have something to do with their brains reportedly being the same size as their eyeballs!





Ostrich eggs bowl gallery wallSource Elle Decor.





Incredible and edible: Ostriches lack teeth, so they swallow pebbles to grind food in their gizzards. They can live for an average of 75 years, growing a foot per month during their first year of life! An adult female can lay eggs until age 40 at an average of 60 per annum (the record is 100!) but the laying–and mortality–is often cut short because ostrich skin is a fashionable alternative to cow leather, their plumes are popular for feather dusters (and chic lights) and their meat (touted to be low in fat and cholesterol and to taste more like steak than chicken) makes regular appearances on menus in Europe.





Ostrich feather lightImage source.






The sunny side: Here in Santa Barbara, we’re lucky enough to live forty five minutes away from OstrichLand in Buellton where you can purchase fresh eggs that will keep you in scrambled eggs for days. (One ostrich egg equals 18-24 chicken eggs.) If you blow the shell yourself you’ll end up with an eggshell souvenir and DIY pride. Don’t worry, you’ll have time to build up your egg-blowing courage. OstrichLand says a fresh ostrich egg will keep for 30 days unrefrigerated and 60 days in your fridge.





Ostrich egg light South African hotel House BeautifulSource House Beautiful.





Do try this at home!: When you’re ready, wash the shell with hot soapy water. Determine which end you want the hole to be on and rest the opposite end in a coffee mug. Grab a Phillips screwdriver, a hammer, a skewer, and a plastic straw. Position your screwdriver where you’d like the hole and tap the hammer down on the top of the screwdriver’s handle. The shell is about .06″ thick so this may take a few taps. Once you start the hole, enlarge it by slanting the screwdriver and chipping away until the hole widens. When the hole becomes the size of a dime, insert a wooden skewer and stir the egg and yolk to break it up making it easier to flow out of the hole. For good measure, give the egg a vigorous shake, as well.





Next: Insert a plastic straw into the hole, suspend the egg over a large bowl and begin blowing air into the straw. Yolk and egg white will blow up through the space surrounding the straw. Keep going until all the insides are extracted. Rinse the egg inside and out with warm soapy water, pour out the excess water and set it in a safe place to air dry.






Ostrich egg decor Elle decorSource Elle Decor.





Good eats: Once the contents of your egg are removed from the shell, if refrigerated they’ll have an edible lifespan of about a week and a half. Or you can freeze them. You’ll end up with a mixture of commingled white and yolk which is ideal for scrambled eggs, omelets, and quiches. Ostrich eggs tend to be lighter and fluffier than chicken eggs. Tip: If the egg mix starts to smell bad, it is bad and you should toss it.



Happy, almost, Easter!




Note: This post has been adapted from my column Design Intervention that runs every other Saturday in the Santa Barbara News-Press.


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Easter eggs to dye for and how to preserve them: A tutorial!

For whatever reason, I had it in my head that Easter was at the END of April. But my calendar says otherwise. It says it lands on April 5th this year which means if any of us plans to dye eggs for Easter, it’s time to get cracking!  (Minus the cracking part–yuk, yuk).




I was lucky enough to know someone kind enough to bestow goose eggs upon me. As you can see from the photo below, goose eggs are about three times the size of large chicken eggs (the brown one in the center). The eggs I dyed were goose eggs, but, of course, any size white egg will do.





Goose egg size compared to regular brown egg




Since I figured it might be a while before any more goose eggs came my way and I had high hopes that these would turn out to be eggceptional, I decided to preserve the eggs by blowing them.



Here’s a quick tutorial on how to do that.




Using the tip of a sharp knife, tap one end of the egg to create a hole. Once you have made a tiny hole, use the tip to gently widen it until it’s large enough to fit a wooden skewer inside. Repeat on the opposite end of the egg.





Use knife poke hole in egg






Now insert the skewer and use it to break up the contents of the egg.  There is no photo to accompany the next step because I didn’t think I wanted a photo of myself, cheeks filled with air, lips pressed to the egg, posted to the internet.






Skewer to make hole in egg to blow egg





So you’ll just have to carefully follow my words. First rinse the exterior of the egg with very hot soapy water (and/or wipe the area where you will be planting your mouth with rubbing alcohol). While holding the egg over a container, press your lips to one end of the egg and blow. You will soon see yolk and albumen come out the other side. Grab what you can with your fingertips to help remove it. Tip: There were moments when it felt like my eardrums were on the verge of blowing out. To avoid this, I found it helpful to “plunge” the egg with the skewer and vigorously shake it in between rounds of using lung power.





Blow yolk out of eggsThe egg contents can be refrigerated and saved for scrambled eggs, quiche, fish batter.




When your egg appears empty, rinse the inside by holding it under the faucet and letting hot water run through it. Shake the egg to see if any yellow matter flies out of either hole. If so, rinse again. Rinse until the only thing coming out of those holes is water. Set aside to dry.



And now…on to dyeing the eggs!




Using natural egg dye is, well, natural, and sometimes free.





Dyeing Easter eggs with onion skins




To dye white eggs a yellowish brown, use onion skins boiled in water. I used the skin of two onions (if you don’t plan on buying two onions, you may be able to “harvest” the fallen skins from your store’s onion bin; hence the nod to “free”).




For a yellowish-brown Easter egg dye:

Add 3 cups of water to the skins of two onions. Boil for 20 minutes. Let cool. Strain liquid into a glass or metal bowl. Add 2 T white vinegar.




For a purplish-blue hue:

Add 1 cup of sliced purple cabbage to 4 cups of water. Boil for 25 minutes. Let cool. Strain liquid into a glass or metal bowl. Add 2 T white vinegar.






Cabbage dye Easter eggs blue




Dye the eggs by placing them into either dye. Rotate them frequently to prevent one side from absorbing more dye than the other. When they have reached your desired hue, use a slotted spoon to scoop them from the liquid. Set the eggs on a baker’s rack (with paper towels placed underneath to absorb drips and protect your countertops from becoming yellow-ish brown or purpish-blue) to dry.



And then you will have these beauties!




Natural Easter egg dye cabbage and onion skinsPurple cabbage dyed egg and onion skin dyed egg. Tip: to intensify the color, and add sheen, pour a teaspoon of olive or vegetable oil onto a paper towel and rub the oil into the dyed shell.





For our next trick, we are going to make leaf impressions. All parts of the egg will be dyed EGGCEPT where the leaf was placed.





Fern, sage, Italian parsley leaves (as shown below), and clover, all make good designs. If you want to really venture off course, so does string, or rubber bands, wrapped around the egg in a random way. But for this tutorial, leaves it is.






Parsley leaf design Easter eggItalian parsley leaf.





Use old pantyhose to keep your leaves in place during the dyeing process. Cut segments from a leg section and carefully pull the hose onto the egg while keeping your leaf in place. Or pull a leg section on the egg and slide your leaf inside. Both ways work well. Twist each nylon end and secure with twine.






Easter eggs leaf design




Strain your onion Easter egg dye and submerge the eggs into the liquid, making sure to rotate them, frequently.




When the color is right, remove the eggs from the dye. Allow them to dry COMPLETELY before removing the stocking casings.






Panty hose Easter eggs drying





Now decorate, at will!






Fern, sage, parsely leaf design dyed Easter egg Fern, sage, Italian parsley.







Fern design onion skin Easter egg on plateEgg place markers: You can write your guest’s name with gold or silver Sharpie at the base of the egg.






Yes, that’s a gilded egg on that plate, below. Also easy to make. It’s as simple as applying sizing (gilding adhesive) to the parts of your dyed egg that you want to turn gold (or silver, if you use silver leaf). Once the sizing becomes tacky to the touch, use tweezers, or your fingers, to place the sheets of gold leaf on the sticky areas. Use a dry brush, or your finger, to smooth the leaf and rub away any extra. Easy as that!






Gilded Easter egg and leaf design Easter eggOnion-dyed leaf imprint Easter eggs displayed in bowl atop a moss “nest”.






How about you? Do you have any fun Easter egg dyeing tips in your basket?


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Creating a quote-themed painting: A tutorial!

Well, hello there!



It’s the happiest time of the year–at least for my solar-powered soul!–Daylight Savings Time has begun! This is when time, formerly contracted and shriveled in winter, warms and stretches and anything seems possible. Darkness and frigid temperatures retreat to their seasonal cave, and we turn our heads toward the light that lingers, and lingers until dogs are walked at 7pm, dinners are served well after 9, and I find myself burning the midnight oil long past midnight.




As the days heat up, the skies clear and the gardens begin to bloom, there is a sense of having so much time on our hands–time enough to create one of these quote-themed paintings!




It all started with this magazine ad.




I loved the paintings, but knew they would be the opposite of inexpensive.





Mag ad word paintings Source: Maison K, Santa Barbara Magazine





So I decided to make my own and you can, too.






Here’s how:






The first step is to add texture to your canvas. The trick? Modeling Paste.






Modeling paste






The tool? An old credit card or gift card–or library card if you’ve gone all reading tablet. Apply the paste liberally and use your retired card (or a firm piece of cardboard) as a trowel. Caution: If you apply the paste too thickly it will take approximately FOREVER to dry. With that in mind, trowel away.







Modeling paste on canvas





Add a warm background using burnt umber (rusty brown) colored acrylic paint. Mix it with water and you’ll have a nice sepia-toned wash.






Sepia tone wash




In the photo below, you can see how the texture created by the (completely dry) modeling paste comes to life once you add color. (The same canvas was used in the shot above but since it is still white, the texture reads as non-existent.)





Now add your charcoal wash made of dark grey acrylic paint thinned with water.






Charcoal wash




Ay there’s the rub: Use a clean, dry cloth to rub away the excess wash, but not too much or you risk wiping some of your pretty texture into oblivion–trust me! (Eh hem.)






Rub canvas





Once your canvas is the tone you’d like it and thoroughly dry, use a charcoal pencil to write your inspirational quote. Fresh from seeing The Theory of Everything, I was repeating this Stephen Hawking quote in my head enough that I thought I should honor it with a painting. When you have finished your lettering, seal the surface of the canvas with clear acrylic spray to prevent unwanted smudging. (Some smudging is a good thing.)






Stephen Hawking quote There is Always Something You Can Do Patinting





If this quote isn’t for you, Pinterest is a good source of inspiration.





(Preaching to the choir.)




I used trellis wood from Home Depot to make a custom, DIY frame.





Trellis molding





I stained the wood using Minwax Wood Finish in Dark Walnut.








Stained trellis molding




Once the stain has dried, measure and cut.





Cut trellis molding






Attach one strip at a time.  Position your first piece so it just barely juts forward beyond the face of the canvas for an ever-so-slight shadow box effect. Use your hands (clamps are even better!) to hold the wood in place; secure it with brads. I spaced my brads about 6″ apart.






Trellis molding frame




Because I also love this quote, I made two paintings.




Exhibit A:





Barns burnt down paintingThis quote can usually work wonders to shake any gloom right off of me.






Exhibit B:






Paintings with wordsI was trying to channel the charm of that lovely ad we saw above. I was missing a lanky, swanky barefoot model in a leopard print dress so, instead, I offer you: a leopard print throw on an old chair.





And for some “truth in advertising”, here is how the painting looks hung in our hallway in its current no flooring, no baseboard, door-to-be-replaced, walls-to-be-painted state.







Word painting in hallImagine it in a nice hallway (living room, entry, etc.) and it’s awesome, right?






What about you? What would/will your word painting say?


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Greetings from the construction zone!

Well, hello there. It has been a while. Too long, really. This is what happens when you get your wish and your design business grows: sometimes blogs take the back burner. But wait, there’s more.




We did this to our house.





Construction debris




Well not the whole house. But, we did get cracking on the remodel which means this:



1. Our house isn’t pretty anymore. (We’re in the “It has to get worse before it gets better” stage.) In preparation for new floors, all the cute stuff has been banished to the garage, leaving only the essentials (you know:  sofa, coffee table, leopard throw blanket).


2. The slate flooring in the entry has landed in the trash bin (look closely and you can see the outlines of what once was) and our guests are now welcomed to this hot mess. (In reality, not hot at all. In fact, very chilly on the toes which is certainly not a plus during winter.  We decided while the world has its love affair with 12″ x 24″ rectangular tiles–12″ x 12″, so yesteryear; rectangles are the new tile darling–we want to push the porcelain envelope even further and use 24″ x 24″ tiles.



Why, you may ask.  Because 24″ x 24″ seemed to add the right amount of oomph for the eyeballs, whereas the rectangles looked a) too busy and b) too wimpy next to the brawn of the 24″ squares.  However, weeks later I am still making regular trips to the tile store to retrieve samples of dark charcoal tiles that come in this size–who knew 24″ squares would be so hard to find while the world is fixated on rectangles? The poor tile salesman has been working on this for weeks and yet still has only found three tiles that come this large in a dark charcoal color. The one we like best will take three months to produce so we are debating whether it’s worth it to wait so long (the degree of darkness is just one shade deeper and it is the difference of waiting days versus three months) for the tile we prefer. But what is three months of suffering a hypothermic, foot-scuffing entry when the tile we want could offer a lifetime of style?



Entry tile demo




3. The stenciled chevron patio rug tutorial I was going to blog about is about to be unearthed which is a shame because I was going to show you how to determine the correct rug size for your dining table by adding 24″ to each side (or 48″ to the diameter of a round table). And how to tape off the area with painter’s tape and paint the background color of the rug with patio paint like so.





Painting chevron patio rug




Then once the field color dried (two coats may be necessary, depending on the color and condition of the underlying surface), how to plot your chevron pattern with painter’s tape, like this.





Taping stenciled chevron rug





How to use more patio paint in a contrasting color (dark charcoal, in this case) to paint the chevron stripes.





Stencil patio rug





And to paint “fringe” at both ends. (“Fringe” painting courtesy of mom. Thanks, Mom!)






Fringe on painted rug





So you’d end up with a cute, inexpensive outdoor rug that is perfect for areas where leaves drop and you find yourself constantly sweeping, scooping, and swearing at those darn leaves. An area, like this…






Patio with stencil chevron rug





And maybe you’d want to buy one of those outdoor lanterns they sell at Osh for $20 and hang an electrical bulb attached to a socket kit attached to a black cord that fades to the background and lets your light be the star of the show. The addition of marquee lights (best price at Target), wouldn’t hurt, either.






Pergola and lights





But I can’t because now the patio looks like this.












Patio undone





Farewell pergola.






Pergola undone





All because we discovered this….





After a couple of rains blessedly interrupted our steady Santa Barbara drought, our kitchen counter and base cabinets separated from the wall by 1/4″! Eek!





Counter separating from wall




Thus a simple plan of updating doors, windows and floors screeched to a halt because you can’t install hardwood floors in a house that has a slab foundation, is below-grade, and is obviously experiencing a lack-of-proper drainage mega moisture issue without those pretty new floors warping, cupping, and buckling. Certainly not, dear reader.




Even though JB had been so industrious and already ripped up most of our existing carpeting in a moment of “Let’s do this already!”, we must not do this already.





Dining room below. Note the site of the moisture test which confirmed a new retaining wall and drainage were–darn! darn! darn!–necessary.






Dining room floor



Welcome to the exposed slab hall. Check out that bit of carpet peeking out from the doorway on the right. After pulling up the existing baseboard, carpet, pad, and tackstrip, JB had a brainstorm and started to loose-lay the carpet back in place, atop the concrete, which, although not as cushy as carpet over pad, keeps the house warmer, cleaner (not that carpet is clean, but it is certainly cleaner than the exposed slab) and more sound absorbent. No more echoes of, “What is for dinner..ner…ner..ner?”




Carpet demo in hall





All of this is to say that tomorrow the patio which has turned into a cracked and pitted surface with points peaking like colliding continents will be jackhammered into oblivion and replaced with a new, prettier patio. A new retaining wall, which should take care of any future rain trickling down our sloped backyard, will be erected. And gutters a plenty will be going up.





Pitted patio




Which means the remodel can move forward and I’ll have one less excuse for my blogging tardiness! In the meantime, thanks for hanging in there with me and thank you for your patience!





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Brown paper packages tied up with string!

Brown paper packages tied up with string




Are we really going to talk about brown paper packages tied up with string?








Because, if you are anything like me, presents don’t get wrapped until the night before Christmas.




And you want something that looks good, so good, but the price of fancy wrapping paper can be like an ornament hanger in your side.



So how ’bout this, the day before Christmas I’m going to give you the easiest present wrapping idea--barring the brilliance of the gift bag which is a wonderful, wonderful thing, but an easily abused, slippery slope into sloppy, whereas this wrapping looks like you tried…



…like the gift recipient is LOVED–and yet, it’s so easy.




All it requires is:


3M Brown Craft Paper (from the 99 Cents Store)


Fresh Pine Greenery (I snipped some from the base of our Redwood tree; if you don’t have a Redwood–or other pine–tree, check where Christmas trees are sold. There are usually scraps and snippets galore and if you ask nicely and bat your eyelashes profusely–or pick up the sprigs and smile and say, “I’ll gladly get this green waste off your hands,” you, too, will have a plethora of pine.)


Mini pine cones (also from Redwood tree; sorry, I can’t think of a free source, but I can think of Michael’s Craft Store or a similar shop.)


Twine (Home Depot.)


Glue gun (I don’t know where you keep it. Just grab it and let’s get started.)



Wrapping materials




Oh yes, and just to make things a bit more interesting, let’s age some sheet music, shall we? What no sheet music lying around? Have you checked the thrift stores or tag sales? Well don’t bother. I did and apparently sheet music is all the rage now (coveted by crafters) and not so easy to secure. Instead, you can Google “sheet music” and print out your own on regular copy paper. Thank you, Google Images.



Like this…




Sheet music




To age it, mix 1 teaspoon of instant coffee granules (reg or decaf, totally your call) with 1 T of hot water.





Tools to age paper




Spread on like so, but in a much less drippy, much more elegant manner.





Age sheet music with coffee




You will get something that looks like this. If you share my disdain for waiting, hit the paper with a hairdryer to get rid of the excess moisture.





Aged sheet music




Then to further speed things up, nestle your coffee-aged sheet between two clean white sheets of paper to make a paper sandwich (this will protect your iron and your ironing board) and iron the pages until they are completely dry. Note: This will happen very quickly; make sure not to scorch your paper; that’s a whole other level of aging and not what we’re going for with this project.




Iron paper




You can use your aged sheet music to make cute homemade tags for your brown paper packages tied up with string (twine) and decorated with fresh greenery and baby pine cones.





Sheet music present label




And/or cut your sheet music into triangles and make a Noel banner to swag somewhere wonderful.





Sheet music Noel sign




Consider covering the top of a brown paper-wrapped box so it really sings. (Sorry, had to.)





Sheet music wrapping paper





Or make a tiny banner (cut triangles from your sheet music and attach them to a length of twine with hot glue) to decorate a plain brown paper gift bag.


Like this…




Buck silhouette



Or this…




Noel bag




I mean, really, imagine the possibilities…and all for pennies!




Preserved boxwood wreath Imagine signPreserved boxwood wreath from Target.




Lastly, but not leastly, I want to say a heart-filled thank you to all my readers (old, new, best friends, and perfect strangers). I just read a note I scribbled to myself last year during a moment of “Wouldn’t it be a good idea to write down important dates?” that reminded me I started this blog in February of 2014. What I don’t need is a notation to recall this time, last year, when I was scrambling to build this site (with the help of a dear–and patient!–friend) and wondering if it would ever be up and desperately wishing it was so I could write a Christmas post.



I am so thankful that it is and to all of you who read it because now I can wish you a very, very Merry Christmas and thank you for following along with Design Intervention Diary.



Thank you, truly, and warm holiday wishes to you!


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DIY Eucalyptus bark Christmas trees!


Can I say Christmas tree?



“Christmas tree! Christmas tree! Christmas tree!”



There, I said it. Three times.



Well, four if we’re being technical and counting was my strong point.




Cone Christmas Trees



Have you noticed the “Say ‘Happy Holidays’–not ‘Merry Christmas!'” movement has got the Christmas tree in its frosty clutch? Well, I’m here to release it– at least here, where it’s just us.


Because, come on, it’s not a “conical tree” or “pointy foliage that beckons for presents to be stashed below”, or the oft-used “holiday tree” any more than a menorah is a “holiday candelabra”.



Eh hem. Stepping off soap box now. The air was getting a little thin up there.



And if that didn’t get you totally in the mood to make a DIY Eucalyptus Bark funnel-shaped, conoid* object, I don’t know what will!


*Real word, I promise.



So, let’s get started, shall we?



You know what the best part of this project is? It’s that if you happen to live somewhere where Eucalyptus trees shed so much bark that it’s littering the ground like refuse (so much so that you figure you are totally doing something awesome by picking it up–like gratis garden service!–and that maybe as you stroll by with your plastic bag of bark droppings dangling from your wrist your neighbors should be thanking you instead of giving you the, “Do you live around here?” look) then this project is practically free.**



**That is, if you already own a hot glue gun, an 8 1/2 ” x 11″ (or larger) piece of card stock, scissors and a stapler.




Eucalyptus bark


Tiny pinecone (preferably one you found somewhere near your feet, while out walking)




Hot glue gun


8 1/2″ x 11″ (or bigger) piece of card stock. Tip: I dismantled a paper gift box from the 99 Cents Only Store to make the larger tree.


Stapler (optional)




Paper and scissorsDon’t use a stapler this small. It made for a cute photo, but a ridiculous stapler that was nowhere near big enough (too short) or strong enough to do the job. Note: Use a full-size stapler or just hot glue everything I tell you to staple and you’ll be fine.






Sort through your bark for the best pieces.




Eucalyptus Bark



Break them into bits.



Bits of Eucalyptus bark



Roll your paper into a cone shape that already totally resembles…a Christmas tree!




Curved card stock




Staple or hot glue the cone into place. Trim the excess so the bottom will sit flat.





Paper Christmas tree cone




Use a glue gun to attach the bark pieces to the bottom of your cone and work your way up.





Bark Christmas tree 2




Until you reach the top.





Making Christmas tree cone



Hot glue a tiny pinecone (these fall from our Redwood tree and litter our yard like Eucalyptus bark litters the yards of others) to the top. Tip: A tiny star cut from cardboard and spray painted silver or gold or a metallic mini ball ornament would be cute, too.




Apply pinecone




Wipe away any wisps of dried glue with an old (dry) toothbrush or hairbrush.




Clean bark Christmas tree




And use them to decorate!




Like this…




Bark Cone Christmas Trees Three




Or this…






Bark Christmas Trees




Or this…



Eucalyptus Christmas treesAside: I love this weird side table I found years ago at a garage sale that looks like a book that sprouted legs. Visible stains on the carpet (left side of photo), eh, not so much. And that is why soon, soon, can-hardly wait, soon we’ll be ripping it up and installing hardwood!







But, back to this project, I think you will love your DIY Eucalyptus Bark trees. They’re inexpensive, easy to make, and just really say…










Chalkboard Christmas Tree Peace On Earth




Happy Holidays!




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To see more projects from some other creative bloggers, check out the Link Party Palooza, here.

Thank you to Craftberry Bush, The Golden Sycamore and Design Dining Diapers for featuring this blog post in their link party! 🙂



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