Sunday, May 31, 2015

Boxwood Wreath

I have been looking for a boxwood wreath for the front door and I've had luck finding some, but at a big price tag. A price tag I think you know by now that I would never spring for. Target has a beautiful Smith and Hawkin wreath for $44.99. Yeah, for many people that is probably affordable and a good deal. Me, not so much. I knew I could make my own wreath for less so I started scouring the Internet for preserved boxwood. I quickly learned that by the time I bought all of the supplies and paid for shipping, I may as well just buy the Target wreath. 

Yesterday we trimmed the bushes and I asked Mike to cut deep so I could have some long boxwood branches. I thought I'd give it a shot making my own wreath with fresh boxwood, I mean, what did I have to lose? We were just going to throw out all of the clippings anyway. 

I had a grapevine wreath in my sewing room (who doesn't) for the wreath and I started with a small bag of the clippings.

I didn't do anything to the clippings to preserve them, I just started weaving the branches into the grapevine wreath. I'm hoping that I didn't make a giant mistake by not doing anything to protect the clippings. Knowing my luck, I will pay for that in a week or so when my wreath turns yellow. 

I added as many clippings as I could since I wanted it to have a very full look. Then I took clear thread and wrapped it around the entire wreath to help contain the loose leaves. I didn't want it to look compacted. I still wanted it to have a loose look, but not a fly-away look. 

I picked up an awesome resin "R" from Hobby Lobby for $5 and I thought it would be perfect for the center of the wreath. 

This was such a quick, easy and inexpensive project. I am absolutely in love with how it turned out.

What do you think?

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Backpack Makeover

I can't believe it is time for the kids to go back to school! Where did the summer go?? As far as I'm concerned we got jipped with the weather this year and we better have a nice long Indian summer. Or else! (Not sure what the or else is...)

I work at a pretty great company and every Christmas they give each employee a gift box filled with goodies. Last year one of the items in our gift box was a really nice backpack. BUT, it has the company logo plastered on the front. Other than that it is great.

At first I was going to use it for all of our camping trips, but then one day two more backpacks showed up in the kitchen with a note that said "free - perfect for a seamstress". I think the whole third floor came over to my desk to tell me about the backpacks that needed a little repair. As soon as I saw them I knew they would be perfect for the girls for school so I scooped them up. 

I tried to convince Mikayla and Julia that they would be perfect, but they just didn't see what I was seeing. They thought I wanted them to carry black Valassis backpacks to school and quite honestly they were horrified. Even when I showed them the fabric I wanted to use... nothing...they wanted Justice backpacks and that was it. As always I had to prove myself. 

I had this great furry zebra fabric on hand and I picked up a little pink, green and yellow neon bathing suit fabric. 

I took the entire front of the backpack off and lined everything up to see if I could get a reaction from the girls. Still...Nothing! They still couldn't see it. In their minds this was a "boy" backpack and there was no way I was going to make it for a girl. 

Well, they were wrong! 

I was able to talk Julia into letting me personalize her backpack. 

Here is Mikayla's backpack. I wanted to put her name or her initial on it, but she was not having it. 

And in true Sheila form... I finished them at 8:00 pm the night before school starts. Of course! 

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Staircase Makeover - AKA The Beast

When we moved into this house there were two things that drove me nuts.
1. The horrid staircase with white spindles.
2. The honey oak floors.

U-G-L-Y – it ain’t got no alibi!

After four years of living here, we decided to have the floors refinished. We got a couple of quotes for the floor and separate quotes to have the staircase refinished. We were ok with the floor quote we decided to go with especially because we got the Mike Richardson discount (negotiated deal on every product or service- he is the master negotiator). #WilliamShatnerhasnothingonhim. The staircase quotes on the other hand were outrageous! We may as well replace the whole staircase for the price they wanted.

So one day I pulled a Rachel Hall and waited until my husband was at work and I started this project myself. I broke out the wood stripper and went to town. #noturningback

When hubby got home that night all he could do is shake his head. He said "I guess YOU are doing the staircase"? 

I had a deadline to meet because the floor guy was coming to do the floors and I had to have the railing stripped and sanded and ready to accept stain.

I worked day and night and meticulously stripped and sanded the railing and I was ready. So, we packed up the kids and headed to Kalahari for a few days. This is what the floors looked like when we left:

Looking good…. On the way out the door we asked the floor guy to throw a coat of the stain on the railing and then enjoyed our mini vacation. I drove my husband crazy talking about the project being done at the house. I was just hoping the floors and railing would look as good finished as I pictured them in my head. I couldn’t wait to get home.

Well...they didn't.

They looked like crapola!

The floors were a mess and the railing was a nightmare!
In hindsight, the signs were all there. Aren't they always?

Here is the short list of red flags:

1: This was a pre finished hardwood floor. The floor guy had never done one before and it turned out to be his nemesis.

2. The floor guy let the deadline get the best of him. He knew that he should have re-sanded the floor when he noticed it wasn’t accepting the stain. He should've started all over, but he didn’t. He kept going including 3 layers of poly. #knowwhentosaywhen

3. We asked the floor guy to stain the railing. Floor guys are in the business of floors...not railings.

4. The floor guy said he could sand the false treads on the stairs. He must not have realized that his sanders have the strength to sand through a brick wall. He ended up completely destroying one tread (and a couple more that are questionable). #thankgoodnessMikeRichardsoncanfixanything

5. We paid someone to do a job we should have just done ourselves. Every time we think we will give ourselves a break and hire a job out, it is ALWAYS a disaster! #whenwillwelearnourlesson

Before we beat up on the floor guy, I seriously have to cut him a break. When we returned home, there was a note to call him and he owned up to everything. He said he was not happy with the job and admitted he rushed. He said he stands by his work and he came back and completely re-finished the floors. I am happy to report that they look great. He is a very nice guy, we have seen his work from friends and I would in fact recommend him to someone else. Truthfully, from my years of experience sewing for hire, I know exactly what it is like to overpromise or bite off more than I can chew. This was a classic case of a nice guy who didn’t want to say no and took on way more than he could handle. #sadlyniceguysdofinishlast
So this is where the beast part comes in…..

Because he covered the railing disaster with 3 coats of poly… YES THREE! WHY THREE DUDE??? Why when he saw that the stain looked like crap didn't he just leave it?
I had to strip and sand the whole thing ALL OVER AGAIN!!!

AND this time around I had to do the false treads too.

I swear I wanted to cry! The dust that was all over my house was insane! I tried to cover things as much as I could with plastic to contain the area, but the staircase is in the most open area of the house. I kept asking Mike to change the furnace filter every five minutes because I swear it was coming back through the vents. Of course he changed it once, but I’m sure you could imagine where he told me to go with the suggestion of changing it every five minutes.

Finally, I finished the staining and added 3 coats of poly myself.

I painted the side of the staircase to match the trim. This was the plan the whole time…but I wonder if I should have stained that part as well. I think I could have been happy either way.

After all this time (weeks and weeks and weeks), I felt accomplished.

Enter Mike Richardson’s handy work…. He went to his favorite wood/trim/railings/doors/man-land store called ASA Builders Supply and picked up the wrought iron railings we had ordered a few weeks before.
I was at work when he texted me this picture. YAY!!! I was giddy when I saw it!

You will notice that there is one tread that has not been stained in the picture above. Yep, that is the one Mike Richardson had to replace because somebody ruined it with their sander.

I asked Mike if he would have his buddy take a picture of him working on the staircase for the blog.

He sent me a SELFIE!!! HAAAAAA I can’t believe he sent me a selfie! Little does he know that it made it’s way into the blog! #cantstoplaughing

This is what it looks like with all of the spindles completed, I just needed to stain and poly that one step.

Ahhh... finished!

As with every project I learn a lot. Typically, the lesson is that I will never do that project again. Or that the projects are never as easy breezy as some people make it on the internet. The BEAST almost brought me to my knees, but in the end, I could not be more proud of my attention to detail and patience. #totallyworthwhile

The Beast before and after:


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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Burlap Wreath

I love to switch my front door decor for each holiday. It works out great beginning with Halloween because I can jump from one holiday to the next with different decor until Easter. Then what? I always have trouble figuring out what to hang on my front door for the rest of spring, all of summer and the beginning of fall. Last year was fun, I covered a very large paper mache "R" with moss and tied a burlap bow on the top. I loved it, but this year I wanted to do something different yet similar. I, along with all of Pinterest am obsessed with burlap right now.  So I wanted to make my wreath like some of those that I have seen on Pinterest.

I started with 3 yards of burlap that I cut into strips, a 1/2 yard of a darker burlap for the bow, a wire wreath and a wooden letter all from JoAnn Fabrics (40% off coupon and a bonus 15% off my entire purchase). I also bought a bag of Reindeer Moss from the Dollar Tree.

First, I threaded the strips of burlap into the wire wreath until the entire wreath was covered. Then, I fluffed the fabric and cut all loose strings.

Here is a pic of my supplies and the beginning of the wreath.

Getting closer....
I had just enough fabric!
On to covering the letter. Last year when I covered my giant "R" in moss I spray painted it green first, so that you couldn't see any bare spots in the letter.
Yeah... that was a good idea.
This year, I thought I would take a shortcut and skip the paint. Umm, that was NOT a good idea. It only ended up in me having to put more moss on the letter to cover the bare spots. Which took more time.
Once I completely covered the "R" I sprayed it with some 80's style Aqua Net to help keep everything in place. You remember girls... the giant white can with the pink argyle pattern. The can we used to keep in our giant purses? Oh we will never forget!  
After it dried, I hot glued a string of fishing wire to the backside. Then tied it to the top of the wire wreath to make the letter appear as if it is floating in the center of the wreath.
As you can see in the pic, the bottom was a little fluffier than the top, so I fluffed some more.
Now the bow. I cut the darker burlap into strips and made a basic bow.

I attached the bow with wire at the bottom of the wreath and hung it on the door.
Love it! I can definitely live with this on my door until fall.
Unless something else catches my eye and I have to change it up.
There... there it is... my disclaimer for changing my mind.
Happy Spring!
(Finally spring-like weather in Michigan anyway)

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Personalized Beach Towel & Bag - Happy Birthday Madison!

Childrens birthday parties help feed my habit. And let's face it, the habit needs to be fed. Especially a party for a girl. It gives me the reason to make something, personalize it, girly it up and make it unique for that little girl.

People always tell me after I make something, that I should make a thousand and sell them. In theory it's a great idea and if I did, perhaps I could turn a nice profit. The problem is that I don't want to make a thousand. I don't want to mass produce. I want to make something unique to the person I'm making it for and then move on to something else.

Yesterday was sweet little Madison's sixth birthday and we wanted to make her something special. With summer right around the corner the girls thought a beach towel was the perfect gift.

I found super cute rainbow colored beach towels at Sears, but the only color the towels didn't have in them was pink. I can't give girl a gift without any pink in it, that is just crazy! In the dollar section of Target a while back they had really thin pink beach towels. I scooped one up last summer and I used it for the material for the applique letters. I was going to make the straps for the bag out of the leftover towel fabric, but I ran out of time and improvised with wide grosgrain ribbon. I think I like the ribbon better. I'm not entirely sure how the ribbon will stand up, but if it doesn't, Josie (Madison's mom) if you are reading his, let me know and I will change the straps.

In true Sheila form, I was sewing the towel right up until the moment we needed to leave for the party. One of my neighbors called while I was frantically sewing and as we started to shoot the breeze I simply had to tell her I had to blow her off. I didn't mince words, just a simple "I'm blowing you off right now". Luckily she understood!

I've made these personalized towels for many people and boy are they a big hit. They have evolved from the first two I made. Those were for Mikayla and Julia for Easter a few years back. Which... I spelled Julia's name wrong! Haaa! I didn't notice it until she pulled it out of her Easter basket and Mike started laughing. I got so caught up in making the towels I didn't pay attention to the order in which I was placing the letters. It's true, you can't see the forest through the trees.

When I first began making these towels they started out with crazy patterned cotton fabric for the letters. I loved mixing the patterns and the vibrant colors of the cotton fabric were fantastic. Unfortunately, over time the cotton letters faded faster than the towel and the brilliant colors just went away. I've decided that using a solid color towel as the fabric for the applique letters made much more sense and it makes the letters pop out better.

So this is what sweet little Madison got for her birthday. The letters in the pictures look red, but they are actually a really pretty vibrant pink.


 I am really happy with the way Madison's towel turned out, I hope she likes it too.

Happy Birthday sweet little girl!

We'll see ya at the pool this summer! (On the driveway)


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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Day

I've always enjoyed putting together classmate gifts for Valentine's Day and Christmas, but with the age of Pinterest, the bar has been risen. And boy are there some great ideas!

I don't really think my pink construction paper covered shoe box with cut out red hearts would do nowadays. I'm sure it was a hot mess then, but I thought it was great. I especially remember my 3rd grade Valentine's Day Party. Probably because my teacher was Sr. Helen and she was so sweet and young and cool. She let us go to each person's desk and put our valentines in their homemade box. I guess all of our teachers let us do that (maybe not Sr. Edna) but Sr. Helen was a standout for sure.

I always want to do something girly for my daughters to take to their classmates. Sadly for the boys...they probably get a little more pink from the Richardsons than they care for. I always try to be creative, but everything usually entails pink and glitter.

This year I perused Pinterest to get inspired and I had a hard time picking what I was going to do. I wanted their valentines to be something that they would want to say to their classmates.

Julia has short hair and she wears a bow or flower clip everyday which has become her signature look. As a matter of fact, when she draws a self portrait she draws a bow in her hair. She is always getting compliments on her hair clips and many of the moms ask me where I get them.

Because they are always asking, I thought I would make each girl in her class their own bow. I had to figure out a way of turning a hair bow into a valentine. With a little Microsoft Word and plenty of pink, I made the actual valentine.

Then I made a variety of hair bows to attach to each card. I'm a bit of a ribbon junkie, so I already had plenty of ribbon and materials on hand.

So what about the boys? Kroger had Kool Aid bottles on sale and the colors were just right (because that is what is important) so I picked up enough for the 1st grade boys and all of Mikayla's 5th grade class. I added a little tag and some Dollar Tree ribbon and they look great!

We'll see what their classmates think later today. Both my girls have advised me that although they like the valentines, I was supposed to pass out candy.

Ok...I don't think they really get Pinterest yet. Oh they will, they will...

Happy Valentines Day!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Haste Makes Waste

I found a cute idea for the door leading to my garage on Pinterest and thought it would be a quick easy project.

How hard could it be? A simple white "welcome" on the door.

Ahhh haaaa haaa haaaa!

Quick? Easy? And me?

Ahhhh haaa haaa haaaa!

First, I picked the perfect font and font size in Word and printed a few copies. (Extra copies just in case).

I glued my printout to contact paper and cut out a stencil using an X-acto knife. The only contact paper I had on hand was a black and white floral design that I got at the Dollar Tree. Contact paper is not cheap at big box stores, so a buck for a whole roll and it's kinda cute? Can't beat it!


Once I got the stencil cut out, I was super excited. Cutting it out wasn't that bad. It was a bit time consuming, but not bad.


It was below freezing outside on the night I decided to do this project. This little tidbit is key to the story....

I opened the door all the way to the inside of the house. I didn't mind if I was "heating the outside" as my mother would say. Next I carefully placed my stencil on the door.

Remember when I said it was below freezing outside? Did I mention that the door felt damp...not wet, but a tiny bit damp? It was probably because it was so cold out and I didn't give the door a chance to acclimate to the heat inside. I ignored the first sign that this was going to be a project gone bad. I just wiped it off quickly and forged ahead...
Mistake number one.

Trying to convince myself that my stencil was firmly in place and that the cold damp door wouldn't make a difference, I kept going.

I put my first layer of paint on with a sponge brush. It was a light layer so, what did I do? I loaded more paint on the brush and put a really thick coat on the door.

Good idea right?

Ummm...mistake number two!

I couldn't wait. I'm not sure why I was in a hurry to get this done, but I was. Maybe it was because I was freezing with the door to the garage wide open. Maybe because I got cocky and thought this would be easy.

So this genius (picture me pointing my thumbs right at myself) had a great idea. A blow dryer! I thought if I blew dry the paint it would be done faster and I could start blogging about my next amazing accomplishment.

Ahhhh haaaa haaa haaaa!

I peeled the stencil off....

Yep, there it was, the affects of my mistakes right there looking me straight in the face. The paint bled underneath the stencil.... My inner voice said "Do you think it could be because the door was damp because it was so cold outside AND you loaded too much paint on the brush AND you blew it dry?? You idiot??!!"

Otherwise it looked great!

So... How was I going to rig this and fix it? For a long time my mantra was "I'll screw it up, but I'll fix it"! My girl Julie Bonnici and I came up with that motto when I altered the same sleeve of a bridesmaid dress for her twice. Nope, didn't alter each sleeve once, I cut the same sleeve twice.  But I fixed it! Over the years, this has really held true for me. I seem to always screw it up the first time, but the second time is a charm.

So how to apply that mantra to this situation?

Nail polish remover!

I grabbed the nail polish remover and a fine tip paint brush and tried to remove the uneven bleed lines around each letter.

Yeah, that didn't work.

So now what?


Yes, quit! That is exactly what I did. I shut the door and quit.

How could an easy project be so difficult???!!!

I sabotaged my own project!

I couldn't ignore the project though. It nagged and nagged me. I never once thought I wouldn't fix it. And I certainly did not think I couldn't fix it. But how and when? Do I wait for spring when it warms up and try again? Do I carefully take black paint and outline each letter to cover up the bleed lines? Do I repaint the door and start from scratch? What to do, what to do?

I was telling a coworker about my failed project and she said "what about a black Sharpie to outline the letters"?

Hmmm...good idea!!! Thanks Kelly!

Even though it was still really cold outside, I tried the black sharpie. A steady hand and the black Sharpie would have added dimension to the letters and it would have fixed the project gone bad.

Guess who apparently does NOT have a steady hand???!

So this is where we are at with this project.

Good looking from far, but far from good looking.

 I think I'll leave this disaster until spring and then start all over again.


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