Crafting A Springtime Headband

March 23, 2018   //  Posted in: DIY, For the Kids   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

Spring! That refreshing but awkward period of time between when the ski season ends and the gardening season begins, and there’s really not a lot we can do to speed things along. Seedlings are already started indoors, the garden’s still covered with snow, so what better is there to do than craft? All day. Every day. Yay.

Watercolored and cut flowers to decorate an Easter or Passover or springtime-themed headband.

Searching for the perfect accessory for my daughter’s a new twirly dress, we accessorized a simple headband with handmade watercolor florals and made something that’s surprisingly adorable. Maybe you need something for Passover or Easter–or just need to satisfy a little girl who loves anything rainbow and floral–so try this instead of buying something new, and I think your kid will be really proud to sport their artwork around town.

Start by going all-out with the watercolor paints on a single sheet of paper. Any paper would do, but the watercolor stock has a nice weight to it and makes the headband a little more durable in the long run. Patterns, no patterns, it doesn’t really matter so much as you try to cover all of the white paper with some combination of pretty colors.

Watercolor patterns that will be used to make a rainbow flower paper headband for springtime.

Trim flowers from this painted paper, as well as from solid colored sheets of paper. If your child wants to make their own flowers but maybe you’re being controlling about the shapes and sizes of the blooms, you can offer to sketch the shape of each flower in pencil on the backside of the paper. They can cut along those lines and everyone is happy. Cut out some leaves, too!

Watercolored and cut flowers to decorate an Easter or Passover or springtime-themed headband.

Use hot glue at this point to attach the flowers individually to the headband. Layer the paper a bit for extra volume. If your headband base is a fabric or coated material, the glue will adhere easily and be durable. It dries almost instantly and is set to wear!

Watercolored and cut flowers to decorate an Easter or Passover or springtime-themed headband.

How to make an alternative Easter bonnet: Make this cute, flowery headband.

Building the Perfect Garden Archway Trellis

March 05, 2018   //  Posted in: DIY, Gardening   //  By: Emily   //  5 responses

Our garden’s archway trellis was a new addition in 2017, and one that we’re going to use again this spring. Aside from being a great way to raise climbers in an enclosed garden space, it was the perfect little tunnel for those kids of ours. We have lots of family photos that prove that, but today, think about making one your own before it’s time to plant seeds.

Build raised garden beds with a connecting archway trellis for climbers in the garden.

I use scrap wood for projects whenever possible, so when it came time to build two rectangular boxes for raised garden beds, I turned to some weathered barn wood boards that had already stood up to wind and rain and were still plenty sturdy for a new project. You can see in the below picture that the assembly wasn’t anything complex; cut 8 pieces and lap the corners (4 boards measured 4-feet long, which was determined by the width of my fencing, and 4 measured 1-foot, decided by how much space I had available in the garden). A few screws are all it takes to hold them together. If you’re using 1x boards like I did, be sure that the wood screws are at least 2″ with a 1″ shank, and always predrill the holes to prevent splitting – whether the wood is new or old. Throw it back, Codeman! We miss you, bud.

Building raised garden planter boxes from barn wood for an archway trellis.

Transfer those raised beds into your garden. Position them parallel with a preschooler-sized pathway between them… ~18-24″.

Four pieces of 4′ rebar come in handy for the next part – adding the archway. Put one rebar post in each inner corner so that it’s sturdy and upright, with about 2.5′-3′ of rebar extending above the soil and into the air. The arch itself is a 12′ length of galvanized rolled fencing, and a little feisty to wrangle. Start by weaving one end of the fencing through two pieces of rebar so that it fits down into one of your planter boxes. Create the arch by weaving the other end of fencing through the other two pieces of rebar. Make adjustments until the shape of the arch is perfect. Depending on how tightly the coil of fencing was bound, it might need a little bending and finesse, but it’ll come together, promise!

Building raised garden planter boxes from barn wood for an archway trellis.

Fill the planters to the brim with soil. I used ordinary garden soil and mixed in some nutrients, too. Use it as an opportunity to teach your kids about gardening and seed starting. We used our trellis for cucumbers, and it worked wonderfully even when the plant was loaded and heavy with fruit/veggies. Nasturtiums would be wonderful; climbing beans would be fun too.

Teaching kids to plant and harvest vegetables in their own trellis archway garden.

The height of the archway isn’t quite tall enough for me, a 5’8″ adult, but still big enough for me to easily duck into.

As the plants sprout and grow established leaves and tendrils, train them to grow up the fencing. It’s likely that they’ll catch on themselves, but it doesn’t hurt to guide the end of the plant back and forth upward through the fencing throughout the growing process to assure a neat, passable archway.

Build raised garden beds with a connecting archway trellis for cucumbers in the garden.

You’ll be able to access your harvest from the inside of the trellis as well as out. The wire fencing held strong for us in its first-year trial, even when there were dozens of cucumbers weighing on the archway and putting it to the test. On to year #2!

This DIY trellis is fun for kids to play in, and an easy way to grow lots of climbing vines in your garden – perfect for beans, nasturtiums, and cucumbers!

Dressers, Picture Frames, and Drywall Anxiety

February 26, 2018   //  Posted in: Art Attack, Bedrooms, Decor, DIY   //  By: Emily   //  6 responses

I crunched some numbers and realized that it took me 237 weeks since moving in to get art hung on the walls of our master bedroom. Mild case of “hole-in-the-wall-phobia.”

Now, I know that’s totally crazy. I know how to patch and paint and I’ve done it plenty, but in the interest of hanging the art in the right damn space on the first try, it took this long (yup, 4.5 years) to actually make things happen without rushing the process just to check it off the list.

It’s especially nice to finally live in a bedroom that doesn’t feel like my first apartment where I was forbidden from damaging the drywall. And you how daylight reflects off frame glass? It sure makes a room feel more homey (also, impossibly hard to photograph).

Picture frames positioned bottom-aligned in our master bedroom.

Backtrack for a sec before this becomes all about me being weird for not wanting to put nails into my drywall. Part of the reason this took so long was also due to the fact that we really needed new bedroom dressers. The set of IKEA MALM dressers I bought 10+ years ago has now been fully recalled–now to the point where IKEA is begging to come pick them up to spare you the inconvenience of having to rent a truck in order to transport them back to a store–but when you’re outfitting your “forever home” you want to buy “forever dressers” and it’s really hard to commit to “forever dressers” without making some sort of concession for budget/quality/size/finishing details when you’re simultaneously under the pressure of recalled dressers that may or may not tip on your children because you haven’t anchored them to the wall (back to being obsessed about perfect, hole-free drywall). In short, we’ve been waiting it out until the right dresser at the right price point came into line of sight. Fortunately, that opportunity knocked sometime last fall when a decent set of Benson 6-drawer dressers at West Elm caught my eye. They’re no longer available in the light oak color we bought, but the darker walnut option is available here. Originally priced around $1,200/each, they were marked down to $699 + some bonus discounts + 20% west elm card bonus cash back (+ an exorbitant amount for shipping and setup) and the set of 2 new dressers cost about $1,700 from store-to-door. Pricing-wise, they were a good bargain considering that the units I had really been coveting were about 4x more expensive–completely unjustifiable to my spending senses (but I still love you, DWR). The West Elm dressers were also the perfect size and scale for the wall I had been scheming for in our room, and the lighter veneer wood finish was ideal, too. It’s hard to find light wood pieces that are modern but not just white.

I took a few “before” photos for a good laugh, knowing that it would be crazy to look back on this wall someday and recalling that we lived with it looking like this for 4+ years.

Master Bedroom BEFORE, how we lived with it for 4.5 years with no storage or decor on this wall.

I openly admit that I have a love/hate relationship with West Elm furniture. I had some reluctance about buying dressers there because we’re less than thrilled with our Tillary Sectional, but it doesn’t end there. Our mod upholstered bed frame is literally about to collapse on the floor because a leg is 2-seconds from breaking off (they sent a backup part but angled legs on any furniture get a thumbs-down from me now), and I always thought the drawers in store felt like they had cheap sliders… but all that said, I took a risk and these ones aren’t too bad. They close nicely and slide smoothly, and the leather handles do feel nice and higher end than other products at the same price point.

Benson West Elm Dressers in a modern, mid-century bedroom.

The real perk of getting new dressers was finally being able to finish that end of the bedroom with some artwork. Our collection is a nice mix of prints that we’ve been gifted (or gifted each other), small originals that we’ve purchased, and a whole bunch of random treasures we’ve collected or inherited. It still took me months to decide which pieces would be hung above the dressers on the wall to make the space feel more finished, but I considered:

  • Scale and color: Wanted the collection to feel bonded by color palette, and it just so happened that most of our frames are black, so that helped too.
  • Importance: A little bit of this, a little bit of that. The final selects for our wall all have a little sentimental value, yet still flow well together.
  • Orientation: To gallery wall, or not to gallery wall? I wanted some organization more than a puzzled assortment on the wall, and bottom-aligning the frames seemed like a good direction. It’s still a gallery wall, but just a little bit more refined and minimalized.

I sat around and brewed about the options for months, planning that I would have them selected and hung on New Years Day if all my ducks aligned.

Didn’t quite make my deadline–I’ll almost always choose a lazy day with friends over a self-imposed deadline–but I got it done in the goal week and boy, did that ever deserve a high-five.

Hanging artwork to be bottom-aligned is so much like installing any type of gallery wall that it hardly feels like it needs much explanation, but what I did was:

  • Lined up the artwork left to right on top of the dresser so that I could determine which order I wanted the art to present. Originally I thought I wanted the tall pieces in the middle so that they tapered down to shorter pieces at the left and right, but the scale of my pieces didn’t seem right for that, so I scattered them a little bit and found that I liked the balance much more.
  • Found my center on the wall (not the center above the dressers – I knew I could inch the furniture left and right by a few inches if I needed to make it more centered).
  • Measured the width of the framed artwork itself, and included 1.5″ spaces between each frame to obtain the measurement for my total gallery wall length.
  • Determined where the center of my total gallery wall length hit relative to the center of the actual wall – note that I didn’t hang a frame smack in the center of the wall. Since the frames are all different widths (and there’s an even number) no single frame is actually hitting the center point. Aim to have the same amount of empty space on either side of the gallery wall, and line things up from there.
  • Selected a consistent spacer for the bottom, so that I could easily plan where the bottom edge of each frame would sit. I used a stack of hardcover books – works great.
  • I hung the middle two frames first. Much like with any gallery wall (helpful tips on this post) once you know the center point for the frame, measure the distance from the wire/hook to the top of the picture frame. Then on the wall, measure down from where the top of the frame hits (while sitting atop the stack-o-books spacer) and put your hook in the wall right there. When you hang the frame, it should rest on the hook but exactly at the same height that it was at while the spacer books rested beneath it.
  • Note: Not that my phobia is accepting of “oh shit, that’s not right” holes in the wall, but if your nailed hook is a few millimeters too high/too low/left/right, it’s easy enough to recalibrate the measurements and place the hook again… any first (incorrect) hole will be covered by the frame itself. Shh.
  • Continue to install the rest of the frames, always hanging as you go so you can be certain that the frames are consistently aligned along the bottom edge.


Picture frames positioned bottom-aligned in our master bedroom.

As for our 6 frames? Left to right:

  • That’s the Kaye Rachelle tea towel I posted about in 2012. Our dog, Cody, chewed the towel while it was still practically brand new, but I found new life by framing it because I really loved the screen print of the motorcycle. Now it’s a subtle memory of our buddy boy, as well a cool print.
  • Pete gifted me our first original Jaime Derringer print for my 30th birthday. Jaime’s someone you might know as the CEO of popular Design Milk and related companies, but she’s also an amazing artist and we’ve both gravitated to her techniques and style for years. This mixed-media piece lived in the dining room for awhile, but I swapped it to a portrait orientation and found that it worked really well here.
  • Another nod to JD–before the holidays, Jaime posted on Instagram that she was cleaning out some old original pieces, so I bought this white line drawing on black paper as a gift for Pete as we celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. Framed it in black, too. Design-wise, it’s similar to her much-covetable Crocodile 1 print for sale on sites like Minted.
  • My parents gifted us a Grosbeak limited edition lithograph from the Charley Harper collection for our 1st wedding anniversary, and while it was matted and framed right away, it’s never had a good home until now.
  • Pete and I took a memorable road trip to Kinston, NC a couple of years ago to eat at the famous Chef and the Farmer restaurant (as seen on PBS Create’s show ‘A Chef’s Life’). If you’re familiar, it was every bit as insanely wonderful as you might expect, and if you’re also a fan of Vivian Howard, we should be BFF. Randomly, we were at the restaurant the same day as Andrew Zimmern while he filmed Bizarre Foods for Travel Channel, and in a super weird right-place-right-time moment got photos of Pete/Andrew and me/Vivian and then left her with our menu from dinner, which arrived at our home signed with a personal message a few weeks later. Frame it? Hell yes.
  • It feels good that our kids know a Charley Harper piece when they see one (my hands-down favorite artist). Julia reinterpreted and illustrated one of his cardinals for me as a Christmas gift a few years ago. Perfect in many ways.