Hello everyone! So in the last five months a lot of things have changed around here. My beautiful baby boy was born on November 23rd, 2015, and in the bustle of new mommyhood I’ve decided to refocus and rebrand.
If you’d like to continue following my DIY and bookish adventures, please sign up for email updates on my new website, SweetSequels.com. There you can see some of the new things I’ve been adding to my shop and pictures of my sweet boy.
The beginning of November is always the most exciting time for me because it means pulling out my Christmas decor and spicing things up for the holidays. I LOVE the holiday season, and I love making everything in my house festive and cheerful. This November is even more special for me because in a few short weeks my wee babe should be making his appearance in our lives, and I can’t wait to bring him home to a beautifully decorated house.
This year I’ve got a whole new collection of Christmassy items in the shop. Christmas decor and ornaments are probably my favorite things ever to make. Christmas is such a happy time of year, and I love the possibility of helping people achieve that with handmade decor!
For this season, I have created a new line of book-inspired Christmas ornaments, because books are ❤ and deserve a special spot on your tree. Right now, I’ve got a number of titles including Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, and Macbeth by William Shakespeare, among many others. I will keep adding more as I make them, and I’m thinking about giving them a permanent, year-round spot in the shop. These ornaments compliment my classic book cover tapestries.
I’m also really excited to be offering fully customizable Christmas stockings, complete with a pocket displaying a hand-painted shelf of your favorite books. Obviously, books are a big part of my life and I love including them in my Christmas festivities. I made a stocking for my husband, one for myself, and one for the baby – who doesn’t have a name yet, so I’ll be adding on his name after he’s born!
I hope the beginning of your holiday season is amazing, and please consider shopping small this Christmas! Etsy is a great resource for any number of handmade goods, and supporting small businesses is what makes our world go round. Remember to order your handmade decor and gifts far in advanced so they ship to you in time!
Halloween is such a fun holiday – dressing up, eating candy, carving spooky jack-o-lanterns, making caramel apples, going to haunted houses, oh my! This week I’m going to do a few Halloween inspired crafts, so I put together a little inspiration board to get the juices flowing. All of these items are from Etsy. Happy Halloween week!
Fall is by far my favorite season – I love the scents and the foods and the pleasure of snuggling up in a warm blanket with a cup of tea and a favorite book. Until recently I was reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and though an interesting read without a doubt, I just couldn’t handle the chilling plot and twisty characters with the leaves turning such warm colors and the season demanding some joy and coziness. So I took to my massive book collection and started picking out some books that better suit the season. Fall reads deserve to be as warm and comforting as all that come with this season, so I’ve compiled a list for you in case you’re in a reading bind this autumn.
Here are some perfect books to read when the weather gets chillier:
1. The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis (or The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe if you’re not willing to take on the whole series). This is what I’m currently reading. Every page is filled with magic – a good magic – and that makes it a happy read. There’s nothing quite like disappearing into Narnia for a couple of hours, to have tea with a faun or adventures with talking beavers.
2. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. Oscar Wilde’s witty dialogue is what makes this play shine. Try getting through one scene without busting out laughing – I dare you. This hilarious comedy, which is set in the Victorian age, is themed around the triviality of certain social constructs such as marriage. The characters are everything.
3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. At times a suspense-filled, tear-rending, and tense read, Jane Eyre is the perfect choice for fall because it’s full of fireside conversations and intrigue. Not to mention a juicy forbidden love story between governess and master of the house. And let’s not forget the madwoman in the attic.
4. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. You probably read this in high school but maybe it’s time to pull it out again. The ultimate tale of Puritan scandal, The Scarlet Letter follows Hester Prynne – marked with the letter A and ostracized in her town for adultery – and her disguised husband who is seeking revenge upon the man who fathered Hester’s child. Not necessarily a happy story, but a great one nonetheless!
5. Candy Freak by Steve Almond. The holidays always get me thinking about candy, so what better way to feed this mania by reading a book about it too?? Candy Freak is about some of the most popular family-owned candy factories still in existence today in the United States. Almond brilliantly describes the candy he samples at each of these factories – which just makes you want to cry for candy and go trick-or-treating!
6. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. This is not a novel but rather a long essay, but don’t snuff your nose at it so fast – it is in no way dry. Virginia Woolf knows her way around the written word and in this monologue brilliantly vies for woman’s place in both the literal and fictional world. If you’re looking for a thought-provoking, smart work of non-fiction, read this.
7. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. I love Northanger Abbey for fall for some of the same reasons as Jane Eyre – the setting is simply perfect. In this lesser known of Jane Austen’s novels, the main character, Catherine Morland, goes to stay with some friends who live in an old Gothic house. Catherine’s active imagination and pliable personality cause her to start suspecting everything and everyone in the house of mystery, intrigue, and deceit. A comedy of manners, this novel does not disappoint in regard to conversation and relationships between characters. And like all Jane Austen novels, it does have a happy ending.
8. If all else fails, grab a book of poetry. Some of my favorite poets for fall? Robert Frost, Emily Bronte (yes, she was a poet as well as a novelist!), and Pablo Neruda. There is something very serene about sitting down with a book of poetry, especially when it’s a poem about walking through the forest at dawn or watching the leaves drift down from the trees.
What are your favorite books to read in the fall? Have you read all the ones on my list? Happy reading!
Hi guys! Sorry I’ve been awol for a while – life has become increasingly crazy and is only bound to get more crazy with baby coming in about a month. I’ve been a busy bee getting ready for my little man to arrive, stocking up on products for the shop, and preparing for the busy holiday shopping season ahead. I don’t want to get too swamped with unmade orders once the baby is here.
So as you all probably know, I’ve been insanely busy for the past month or so. Now that we’re finally all moved into the new house I am working like a madwoman to get ready for a craft fair on September 11th and 12th – Born in the Barn in Sheridan – which I am really looking forward to but also waaaaaaay behind in prep for!
So even when I’m really busy like I have been, I try to make reading a priority. I know that reading is not as important to most people as it is to me. I am, after all, an artist who makes primarily book related items. Nevertheless, I think reading – reading anything! Newspapers, contemporary fiction, nonfiction, the dictionary – is an important habit that all people should obtain. Here’s why.
1. Reading makes you smarter. Reading improves communication skills tenfold, and thus comprehension, conversation, and overall well-being improves as well. Kids that read statistically score higher on tests; though not as aptly tested, I’m sure the same goes for adults. I firmly believe that the reason I did so well in high school and college is because my parents urged me to read as a child, and I soon discovered on my own how much I loved it.
2. Reading keeps you grounded. Sometimes life gets so busy and stressful and complicated that delving into another story entirely helps you sort out your own junk. I find that when I don’t read for long periods of time I am more apt to let my schedule overcome me – which leads to increased stress levels. Reading, even if for only five minutes before bed, helps me figure out my problems of the day and allows me to handle everything a bit better.
3. Reading improves mood. Seriously. Even if the book you are reading is really sad, your mood will be improved by the knowledge that your life isn’t so crappy as the one you’re reading about. Reading is a way to escape into another world, and no matter which world it is you go to, you come out feeling just a little more alive.
4. Reading helps you sleep. If you read for a while before bed it helps to quiet your thoughts from the day and ease into a peaceful rest. Especially if you’re physically exhausted, a couple pages in and you’ll be sound.
5. Reading is fun. Obviously this is the most important reason. Reading is entertaining. Find the right book – something that interests you, not your coworker or the hosts on The View – and you’ll find that reading is one of the most enjoyable leisure activities in existence. And this is a good enough reason to make it a habit worth keeping.
What book/books are you currently reading? I’d love to hear about them!
I am most pleased with my new craft room, MOST PLEASED. In fact, it is marvelous and beautiful and spacious and lovely and all kinds of other positive adjectives. The last few days of working in there have been so productive! Much better than my last craft/laundry room. 😉
I put a lot of work into this room and I am glad I did. Here is a picture of how the room looked before we moved in.
Kinda creepy right? This is a half-basement room, so the subfloors are cement. The cement floors in the basement were covered with carpet glue because the last people who lived in this house abandoned it and a pipe consequently burst in the cold weather, causing water damage in the basement. The bank that overtook the house went in and tore up the carpet, as well as cutting out the bottom foot and a half of drywall, leaving a shudder-worthy basement as a result. The final result is much better.
My wonderful husband installed new drywall and I then painted the walls (white because I wanted something simple, bright, and good for photos) and ceiling (light bluish, because that is the best color for ceilings). Then came the fun part: the floors.
So if you’ve ever painted cement subfloors before you know it’s a big job. It requires scraping glue and dried paint, sanding, sweeping a hundred times, priming, and THEN painting. The painting part itself is actually supremely easy – easier, in fact, than painting walls. I used this tutorial over on Vintage Revivals Blog as a guide, which I highly recommend, but I will go over the basic gist of how I did it as well.
I scraped all the carpet glue off the floors with a metal scraper. The tutorial suggests using laquer thinner – I went without, and though it took a long time it worked perfectly well.
Next I made sure the floors were reeeaaaaally clean. This means sweeping, vacuuming, and wiping down if necessary. I did each at least three times if not more. You want your floors to be spotless.
At this point I was ready to prime the floors. The paint I used (Behr Patio and Porch Paint) was not self-priming, so I simply used an all-purpose primer.
After the primer dries completely (I waited a day) you’re ready to paint. I painted around the edges first and then simply poured some paint onto the floor in the far corner of the room and went at it with a roller. Took about ten minutes. Let this dry completely as well.
Now that the boring part was complete, I was sooo ready to paint my pattern! I had dreamed of a patterned floor for a long time and couldn’t wait to get started. The pattern I decided on was the Asmir Triangles Wall Stencil from Royal Design Studio Stencils. Royal Design Studio has HUNDREDS of stencil patterns to choose from and I highly recommend them if you are thinking about doing any stenciling in your home!
This was my first time stenciling a floor so I was very nervous to start. I think the most important thing when it comes to stenciling is to remember to keep your brush or foam roller (for floors I definitely recommend using a roller) dry – don’t let the paint be thick or dripping. After dipping the roller in paint I simply off-loaded it back onto my tray. This is called the dry paint method. I also had a paper towel handy just in case.
The hardest part was letting the paint dry long enough so that I didn’t mess up the triangles as I overlaid the stencil to move onto the next square of pattern. The patio and porch paint takes a while to dry, and I am a very impatient person. Nevertheless, the entire floor only took about five hours or so to complete.
While all the painting was fun, the organizing of the room was my favorite part. I love making a room as efficient as possible, and I am pretty confident that this is one of the most efficient rooms I have ever organized. I’ve got separate locations for different tasks; for instance, in one corner of the room I’ve got Paint Corner – where I do all my painting. The other wall is dedicated to fabric and sewing. Before we moved into this house I did a deep cleanse of my old craft room and categorized all of my items and tools, which made organizing this room much much easier.
Luckily, Mose is enjoying her new room as well! Her cage fits just perfectly under my fabric table, and I think she likes the pattern on the floors. She’s a very artistically minded bunny after all. 😉 😛 😀
Having a math teacher husband is nice for many reasons. Number one: he does math so I don’t have to (he tries to make me solve whatever problem we’re talking about first, but when I fail he doesn’t say much). Number two: he gets summers off, which means lots of time to do lots of stuff! When Grant gets summers off, it means I get summers off too (to a certain extent; I still have my business and transcriptions, but I also get to travel and play!).
I can’t believe those blessed two and a half months have already come to a close. Much of our summer break was spent fixing up the house – which, thank goodness, we are finally moved into. We wanted to get the bulk of the big stuff done before school started up again – finishing the basement, scraping ceilings, painting, and new floors – so now we’ve just got some minor things to finish up, and we can do all of those things while living in it.
I’ll be sad to no longer have my husband around all day, helping with the house repairs and whatnot, but reality had to come sooner or later. Happy first week back to school, honey!
Here are some fantastic products on Etsy to get you back in the mood for school, whether you’re a student, parent, teacher, or teacher’s wife. And remember, back-to-school also means it’s almost FALL! And who could possibly be sad about that??
Oil Cloth Lunch Bag by Cute Bright Things, $16. I actually have this lunch box…it almost makes me wish I could go back to high school and get some good use out of it!
Bunny Pencil Pouch by MosMea, $34. Because anything that combines bunnies with utility is a good thing.
Driftwood Pencils by Storie Brooke, $13. Using neat pencils will definitely make note-taking more fun!
Vintage Pink Glasses by Oliver and Alexa, $22. Update your eyeware this fall with these fantastic pink frames.
But First, Coffee T-Shirt by Armi Tee, $18. I don’t know about you, but coffee is a must-have for me before I do anything remotely intelligent. Wear this tee with pride!
Grant and I have put so much work into the new house (about a month straight of hard labor!), so we are thrilled to finally – FINALLY – be at the point of moving our things in! Move-in Day is officially tomorrow, but I’ve been carting stuff over periodically for the last week to make things easier for us on the big day. It’s nice living only five miles from our new house – a big difference from the 860 miles it took last time.
So today I am going to show you one of my favorite parts of the new house – the kitchen. A big, open kitchen has always been a dream of mine. This will be the third place Grant and I have lived in since getting married; the kitchen in our first place, the tiny apartment in Gilbert, Iowa, was a tiny corner off the living room and severely lacking cupboard space. My most vivd memory of that kitchen is the light inexplicably falling on my head as I was making sweet and sour meatballs for Grant for dinner one night. The kitchen in the rental house in Dayton is a galley kitchen that was actually added on in the 1950s or so. It is lacking cupboard and counter space, though it was a bit of an upgrade from the apartment kitchen. This new kitchen – oh boy, it’s like the taj mahal of kitchens after the last two I’ve spent so much time in! It’s got lots of counter and cupboard space, is open, and even has a window over the sink.
Here are some photos of the space before I took over.
I knew immediately that the dark cabinets had to go. They clashed terribly with the countertops, and in general dark cabinets close off a room rather than open it up. Grant and I also knew we wanted to get rid of that awful linoleum floor and add a little bit of detail to the walls.
The color I chose for the cabinets actually came about by accident. I was planning on doing a subtle sage color, but on a fateful trip to Home Depot I found a gallon of Oops paint that I couldn’t resist buying (it was only $9, after all). As it was the first gallon of paint I bought for the new house, it was the first color I tested on the cabinets and I immediately fell in love. I love how vibrant they turned out, and how much interest they add to an otherwise plain kitchen.
The wall treatment is a stencil from Royal Design Studio. Stenciling is actually a lot easier than one might think. Though the height of that triangle space gave me some trouble in spots, I was able to continue the pattern through the whole area. The entire project took about six hours or so.
When it comes to decorating kitchens I have always loved the idea of including cookbooks in view. Luckily, I had plenty of space in my open cabinets for a couple stacks of cookbooks. (I elected to leave off the doors of three of the cabinets because Grant is opposed to cabinet doors. My stipulation was that the dishes inside them must be pretty and must never be a mess). I lined the space above my cabinets with fun items I’ve collected over the years, some vintage, some not, all deserving of a spot in view. Finally, a couple plants adorn the shelving unit by the sink because I believe that every proper kitchen should have at least one living plant.
I can’t wait to start baking in this kitchen! Wish us luck on Moving Day. 😀