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By: Nicola

September 27, 2011

Wall Art

In my eyes walls are a piece of art in themselves. How they stand up straight, hold the house together, keep us warm in winter, and can be painted in the prettiest colors of the rainbow. But they tend to shine even more when they are dressed with some beautiful pieces of wall art. Things that give the eye a focal point, that make a plain wall seem more cozy and less structural, things that bring the whole room together and to life. May it be a mural, pictures, photos, wallpaper, or random items. Here are some of my favorite pinteresting ideas for wall art:

1. Glue pretty scrapbook paper on 1x1foot MDF boards.

2. Arrange paint chips in a gradient pattern. Looks like a pixelated photo.

3. Collect a bunch of white frames with randomly collected art on wall ledges.

4. Use fluffy paint on canvas and then spray-paint the whole thing white.

5. Roll up strips of magazine paper and glue on a wood board. Something for people who need to keep their fingers busy.

6. Tape off a pattern or design on woad boards, paint over it, and then remove the tape.

7. Screw a bunch of withered boards to each other and stain them with a thin coat of any leftover paint.

And then there is this secret I discovered just recently: Pictures look better if they are hung to the wall in groups with some empty wall around them rather than spreading them all over the entire wall. Ideally they should all be in frames of the same color group, texture, or style and then arranged in a seemingly random but coordinated way:

Doesn’t look too complicated, right? Personally, I believe that hanging pictures on the wall is the first step to making a house a home and yet sometimes it is the last thing we get to. I have learned my lesson from the past when I would finally hang picture son the wall and then moving out again shortly after. So, let’s get to it. Shall we?

Please feel free to share any wall dressings that you have hung or made recently. Do you prefer photos, paintings, or other art? Are you an empty wall person or put up all your favorite memories?

September 7, 2011

Dreams are my reality

Oh my god this title is totally taken from the song from that movie – La Boom. Does anybody remember those french movies from the 80s about how teenies find their first love? Soo kitschy and actually too embarrassing to admit to having seen them. Although I am pretty sure almost any European person of my generation has watched them. Which doesn’t make it any better.

Anyway, this is totally out of context. I was gonna tell you about the crazy dream I had this morning after I woke up at 6:30 with Milo still asleep and decided to doze off some more. It’s that evil kind of half sleep that’s not really fully relaxing and makes you dream all sorts of crazy stuff. In the end you wake up all exhausted and emotionally disturbed and wish you had just freaking gotten up when you had the chance.

“I’m exhausted, I have to wake up” is also my favorite quote from my real favorite movie “Science of Sleep”. If you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading now and go watch it. Go! It’s a must see. Apart from it being a very artsy and creative movie, it also holds a lot of truth to me and has parallels to my boring little life. I have always been a passionate dreamer. As long as I can remember vivid dreams have been part of my night life. Often times I had better stories to tell in the morning when waking up than about what happens during awake time.

The science of dreaming really explains everything and boils down to a person being a crappy sleeper or not. I am. Very light sleep here. A house mouse farting could easily wake me up any time of the night. Therefore I have lots of light sleep. Therefore many REM sleep phases in which dreams happen. In those sleep phases only certain areas of the brain are active: Exactly the ones that are responsible for memories, emotions, and visuals. The logical cortex is deeply asleep at that point, so it is not surprising that dreams often don’t make much sense, are highly emotional, visual, and often contain random elements of what we experienced the previous day.

Us humans like to make sense of all the random elements and tie them together as a story. Or even start interpreting them to find a higher meaning. Myself included. I swear I tried to stay away from it. No way I was gonna believe in that bogus when it all makes perfect scientific sense. But then I had those healing dreams. Here is a fun fact about little Nicola that not many of you might know: As a kid I was literally afraid of being late to an appointment. I had ways to drive my parents nuts urging them to hurry so that we could be 30 minutes early that are unheard of. It must not have been fun. But then I started having those recurring dreams where I had to be some place, but getting there on time was impossible. Either my legs were made of stone, they wouldn’t move, the staircase became endless, the elevator never arrived, or all of the above. So my dreams forced me to be late and learn that nothing bad happens. Ever since then I am still trying to be 5 minutes early, but don’t freak out anymore if I am 5 minutes late.

There was also a period in my life where I kept dreaming of dead people. Not very nice dreams, let me tell you that. Basically there was always one or more than one body in my house and I had to get rid of it somehow. I had to roll it away, drag it away, and nobody ever helped me. So I looked up the meaning of dead bodies in a dream book and it said that dreaming of bodies or dead means that one is in a relationship or situation in life that is not good for one and should be ended. Sure enough, a few months later the relationship ended and so did the dead people dreams.

Before I go to dream land, just real quick the dream from this morning: Linc and I had another(!!) wedding. This time it was supposed to be real fun so we made sure to hire comedians as the officiators and all sorts of clowns to entertain the crowd. For some reason we also thought that it was funny to top off the whole show with a McDonalds theme. The rings were presented in a sweet and sour dip container that still had the sauce in it and nobody was really paying attention to the wedding because there was too much clowning going on.

End of story. Now while I go to bed, why don’t you figure out what this dream could possibly mean?

September 6, 2011

Scary stuff

Holy moly, I just spent almost two hours at Lowes! There is just so much wonderful stuff to see that makes me dream about endless possibilities that are restricted by a tight budget, which I already blew tonight. No more spendings for the the rest of September. But the supplies I got should last for a good while and for a bunch of projects that are lined up.

Originally I thought that the dining room is gonna be the next candidate for a makeover. It still had that somewhat tolerable wallpaper, but stood there kind of bland and blah in the middle of our house ad wouldn’t quite fit in with the kitchen and living room. So within only 1.5 hours I was able to pull off an unexpectedly smooth wall paper removal, and was left staring at even more boring walls. What to do, what to do .. let’s ask Pinterest. And there I found this fine little piece of inspiration:

Board and Batten is what it’s called. Never heard of it before, but I’ll take it. Supposedly it is a very simple project that involves only cutting some boards and nailing them to the wall. But then again, it looks like a lot of board cutting and nailing and caulking corners and painting. So I got a little intimidated by the whole thing. Actually quite a bit intimidated. A lot. Scared almost. But I still want it.

To escape this scary room, I quickly moved on to another smaller project. The foyer. While this is the only room where we totally love the wall color and coat hooks were already installed, at first glance it doesn’t look like it needs a lot of work.

But then look a little closer:

1st problem: Bags are hanging out at the banister, shoes pile up on the floor. Solution: Add storage for bags and shoes. Simple as that.

2nd problem: The banister is ugly. Too oaky, to traditional, and it kind of feels like you walk straight into it when coming into the house. Unfortunately right now it is doing a good job keeping Milo and his toys from falling down the step, so it will have to stay until there are no more little toddlers toddling around. Solution: Paint it white to blend in with the other trim.

3rd problem: The trim isn’t even white. Solution: Just bought a heavy gallon full of ultra white semi-gloss paint.

4th problem: There is an unsightly door bell box hanging in the middle of the wall. Solution: Not sure. What do you suggest?

5th problem: The wall art above the closet is very generic. The only thing it has going for it is that it fits perfectly shape wise. Solution: Change the picture and add something 3dimensional.

6th problem: The ceiling light is not in the photo. But trust me, it is not worth it taking another photo. Solution: Maybe in the long run switch it out for a nice (possibly DIYed) pendant light that ties in the high ceiling a little better.

That reminds me – it’s almost Halloween. Time to get some fall craft going and breaking out some scary moves myself. How about you guys? In the mood for some easy foyer fixing upping? What ideas do you like to make this practical room a little more pretty?

August 31, 2011

Ready, guests, come!

Wow, this was one of the longest drag for a room makeover so far. An estimated two months later the guest bedroom is finally done. For now. Of course there is gonna be more stuff and deco things added over time, but at least it has all practically needed items in it and looks cozy enough. I think this is my new requirement for a room makeover to be deemed completed. We did splurge on the bed. Got a new mattress from Amazon for the fraction of the price of a store bought mattress (Sleep Innovations memory foam mattress, so comfy that Lincoln wants to sleep over in the other room now. Wish I had gotten this for our own bed 3 years ago.) and a new bed from Ikea because we just couldn’t find a nice one on Craigslist and trust me, I’ve been checking every single day for two months. So at least for the price we got something completely bed bug free and hope that our guests will always want to return to this nice bed.

Here are the details on the makeover:

Darn, I just noticed that the pattern of the curtain is upside down. Oh well. I am so happy that I found this fabric at Joann’s. It matches the yellow in the duvet cover perfectly and brings some sunny elegance to the room. Got it with a 50% off coupon for $20 and made the curtains in two evenings. (One evening equals two hours in Nicola currency).

Here is a vintage suitcase for $2 from a yard sale that will one day get legs and become a real night stand. A cute lamp for $5 from Goodwill. And some printed travel wisdom in a white painted $3 IKEA frame that had been waiting for its use for 3 years.

For the bed we had to reuse the old duvet cover because it just wasn’t in the budget to get a new one. I know, this one is very colorful and kind of dominating the room, but just imagine how changing it up one day will be like another entire room makeover in one step.

To fill all the empty space above the rather low IKEA Malm bed (we chose this bed because we did not want to overpower the small room with a huge bed, we had already gotten a free Malm dresser, and because it fit in our car), I created some bigger sized wall art. Had some old canvasses on hand, painted them white, folded some origami boats out of left over maps and hot glued them on. Done.

From some leftover curtain fabric I made the two small pillow covers to replace funky orange ones that we already had.

On the opposite side of the bed I framed some postcards and envelopes from all over the world in some more super old IKEA frames that I bought in a picture frame obsession 3 years ago and never used. They are the cheap ones that come in 3 packs. They are plain wood and can easily be painted or embellished to match any decor.

On the shelves that I have no problem with in this room (as opposed to Milo’s room) I arranged some random items that we had and that somewhat belong in a guest room: travel guides, some novels for entertainment on all those long vacation days, a hand-sewn elephant that reminds me that I still want to go to Africa one day, a miniature VW van for dreaming of road trips, etc.

And then we have the previously introduced map lamp. I think all the materials for it were $4.

The little stool/side table thingy is one of those items that are a classic bargain: When I saw them at a yard sale they were super cheap (I think it was $2 for two of them an my mom paid for it because I had conveniently forgotten my cash at home) and seemed somewhat practical, so I got them even though I had no idea what exactly they could be used for. Now one of them is serving as a makeshift nightstand and the other one is holding a fan in Milo’s room. They are also really practical to get up to the slightly too high shelves.

If the bed hadn’t busted our budget, this would have been a really budget friendly room makeover. How do you like it? Is it too travel thematic?

So there you have it, another room done and here is a little hint as to what is next: one of the rooms in a house where you don’t want light colored carpeting.

August 23, 2011

The huuuuge 1!

August 12, 2011. The day of Milo’s first birthday ever! It started with Milo waking up screaming at 5 AM and then me melting down because I just couldn’t take those 5 AM wake times anymore. Afterwards we both went back to bed and at least Milo was happy when he woke up the second time. I think this is the only memory I have from my little one’s actual birthday.

But luckily we got another chance the next day. We both got plenty of sleep and had a great party. The weather was a little unstable, but who cares. We just moved the whole shebang indoors. Yay for our house which fits approximately 15 kids and 15 adults and still has some room for everyone to run around like crazy. Milo had a blast and it seemed like everyone else had as well. Thanks everyone for coming and bringing so much joy to our little boy’s life! Milo loves all the toys he got and every¬†morning he¬†has a hard time deciding what to play with first. Peace and Love, The Trans.

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Never heard of it before until I found some awesome craft ideas that require to use it. Since I have about three such projects on my to do list, I went out and bought it. I still don’t have a clue what it is exactly, mostly because we don’t have a similar thing in Germany. Anything that I cannot compare to something familiar I grew up with automatically falls into the category of unexplainable weirdness. Anyway, it glues and it seals preferably paper or fabric onto other surfaces. And that’s all I need to know for now. So I went ahead and did a little mod podge project in half an hour of my evening.

Here is why:

And here is how:

1. Save some empty baby formula and coffee containers

2. Cut some pretty scrapbook paper of your choice into strips of the height of the can from the top metal rim to the bottom metal rim. I went with this modern floral pattern to stay within the neutral colors of the kitchen, but lighten things up a little.

3. Apply mod podge with a (sponge) brush to the paper or to the paper AND the container. Do not apply it only to the container as the paper will start wrinkling once it starts to soak up the podge from the can. This is the part where you can learn from my mistakes.

4. Glue the first couple of inches of one end of the paper onto the can and make sure that it aligns parallel with the top and bottom rim. Then wrap it tightly around the rest of the can and smooth it out by stroking with your hands. (Sorry, no pictures for these two steps as I needed my hands and they got all moddy).

5. If the diameter of the can is more than a foot, you will need another strip of paper to fill the gap. If you want to be perfectionistic about it, you can try to match the pattern, but I chose imperfection and just cut a random piece which will sit at the back of the container and stare at nothing but the wall.

6. Apply an even layer of mister moddy podgy over the paper surface. Let it dry and apply another one. And another one, if you want to be extra safe.

7. If you keep the containers in a splashy area, you can probably go ahead and finish them off with some poly spray. This is on your own risk though. I haven’t tried this yet, but I assume that the awesome podge seals the paper sufficiently so that the poly wont harm it.

All done!

August 11, 2011

More than words

So, recently I made this framed piece of wisdom to hang over the suitcase nightstand in the guest bedroom. I have never really been into hanging words onto walls just because they are so literal and usually I find pictures more subtle in expressing what I want to say. But then again, words are way more specific and why not contribute a little bit to keep the lost art of reading alive.

When it comes to creating wall art, I don’t like my handwriting enough nor do I trust the steadiness of my hand. Therefore I gladly take on the help of internet and computer for matters like these. I guess I don’t have to go too much into detail about how to print on paper, but I don’t want to miss this opportunity to share with you one of my favorite internet pages besides Pinterest and Kuler when it comes to design stuff: Dafont! You can download thousands of funky, pretty, exotic, or stylish fonts for free and will for sure find the right “handwriting” for your project. The one I used for my travel words is called FFF Tusj. Here are just a few samples of what else is out there: