From Curb to Chic: Side Table Makeover

You may know that doing the Avon 39 Walk for Breast Cancer is an annual tradition for me. The two-day walk gives lots of time for long talks with my friends. Last year, an old friend asked our group to think about what our “dream job” would be. I already have my dream job, but I took the opportunity to reflect on what an alternate or next career could be… something I love doing, but which is not so practical… the easy answer was that I’d love to refinish old furniture with fresh looks.

It makes me so happy when I can take a piece of furniture with great classic style but a little (or a lot of) wear and turn it into something beautiful and full of personality. I’ll list some of my favorite past projects at the bottom of this post.


Now on to today’s post… It has been a while since I picked this little end table up off the side of the road. My oldest was with me and remarked, “There’s mom being mom” in the affectionate way you talk about a lovable, quirky relative.

While I loved the Chinese/ Chinoiserie style of this little table, I was a bit intimidated by its poor condition. You can’t really appreciate in the picture how water-damaged, chipped, and uneven the wood was. Still, it was sturdy enough, and with my newfound love of gardening and greenery, I thought it would make a great plant stand.

I sanded the table aggressively, used wood glue on one of the legs that was cracked, and then painted it with three coats of white latex enamel (leftover from the interior trim of our house). I didn’t even try to fully even out and fix the surface, letting a lot of the dents and scratches show and add character.

The white paint did a good job brightening up the table and made it look more finished, but it was kind of plain… time for a touch of gold spray paint to cap the legs, and I love the finished product!

Here is my new old table in our living room. I think I’ll probably move it up to my bedroom later, but I’m still experimenting with how to use this handsome accent piece!

If you like this project, check out some of past “fabulous furniture makeovers”:

Wow, that was a longer list than I expected. I guess I have a good start on that next career, when I’m ready!

Happy furniture hunting and painting!

“Jewels”

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I tried Rothy’s! Here’s the scoop and $20 off!

I’m sure you’ve seen ads on your social media feed for Rothy’s shoes. I was intrigued by their use of recycled materials, and of course, the designs are adorable, but I was waiting to hear from a “real person” who had tried them.

Enter my office mate, sporting a cute pair of these eco-conscious shoes. She said, she loves them, and while she usually wears sneakers, she found Rothy’s really comfortable for a ballet flat.

Now here I am, and pretty much all I ever wear is ballet flats, so I figured they would be perfect for me! They’re not a bargain, but for a well-made and earth-friendly shoe, I felt it was worthwhile. I also used a referral code to get $20 off.

I tried both styles – The Flat and The Point, and I ended up keeping The Flat. Keep reading for a full review!
The Flat in Charcoal Birdseye:

  • Style:  I love that the grey goes with almost everything, and the little peek of pink makes them feel unique!
  • Fit: These are true to size for me, perhaps a tiny bit snug, but I think a larger size would be too big.
  • Comfort: For me, these were as comfortable as advertised! No rubbing or blisters at all. Because the material is a knit, there is a little spring to the shoe that feels both supportive and soft.

The Point in Bright Blue Birdseye:

  • Size: The Point style ran small for me. My usual size was too tight. 
  • Style: I also did t like that my toes showed (toe cleavage😉)
  • Comfort: a bit hard for me to rate, because they were tight, but they have that same supportive stretchy feel, so I would expect them to. E comfortable, if the style and fit are right for you.

Bottom line: as the owner (guardian?) of way too many ballet flats, I am really excited by these shows which are very comfortable and have just enough details to feel special but are still neutral enough to go with almost anything!

If you want to check them out, you can use this referral link by September 27, 2017 and we both get $20 off!

“Jewels”

Hanging Out & Hanging Up Plants

Hello, Crazy Plant Lady here today!

My good friend, Nicola, asked me to share more about how I’m installing my macrame plant hangers (see this post and this post for the details on the hangers).


There are lots of creative ideas for creating hanging plant displays. I’ve started with some easy methods, including hanging my plants from

  • Wooden beams
  • Curtain rods
  • Wall brackets

I’ll give you those details and also include some more ambitious ideas that I still fantasize about!

One general tip is that I chose lighter weight planters. Some of my plants are hanging in my made-over yogurt containers, and others are in glass jars or vases, some painted with metallic spray paint.

Wooden Beams

I lucked out to have these beams running in our family room, so I screwed in coat hooks for my plants. Obviously, not every house has wooden beams, but if you do, this is easy, and to display more, you can screw in two hooks and run a rod between them.


Curtain Rods

Plants need light, so it makes sense to hang them in front of a window! It wouldn’t be the most convenient idea for curtains that you open and close often, but it’s great for windows where the curtains can stay open most of the time. I used shower curtain hooks to hang several plants this way. The rollers on the curtain hooks make it easy to move the plants, if you want to close the curtains.


Wall Brackets

I was honestly too nervous to hang plants from our ceilings. The house is about 90 years old, and the walls and ceilings are plaster and lathe. I had visions of the giant patches of plaster crumbling down on me, so I decided to use wall brackets. This method also gives you more flexibility about hanging heights.


These are the brackets I used. (The link is to Amazon, but they’re cheaper at IKEA, if you can get to a store).
If you’re feeling more courageous, here are some more ideas I’d like to try!

Hanging a ladder from the ceiling. This is just so peaceful and gorgeous!


Photo: Jennifer Chong of See and Savour

A large branch displaying multiple hangers. I love all the colors and designs!


Photo: Emily Katz of Modern Macrame 

How about a cool metal pipe or rod to display your plants?! A sleek look, and you could do it from a wall, if your ceilings are unreliable, like mine.

Photo: Cote Maison

Thanks for coming with me into the world of macrame and plants. I am clearly a little obsessed. I’ve got more new ideas coming up to share with you soon(ish)!

“Jewels”

Experiments in Underwater (iPhone!) Photography

My kids are so happy in the water, and yet I’ve missed pictures of many of those moments, because I needed to keep my phone high and dry.

So, for this year’s summer vacation, I decided to buy a waterproof phone pouch.  Even though I tested it according to the instructions, it was still scary to put my phone in the water the first time. After I got the hang of it, though, it has been a lot of fun.

Although you can control the phone buttons through the case, I found it to be hard to do. My husband came up with the idea of setting the timer for the pictures. The timer on the iPhone takes a burst of ten photos, so you can usually capture some good moments and delete the rest. Another note is that the water cuts down on light, so taking your underwater pictures at the brightest spot possible helps.

These are some of my first experiments. JJ loves the diving weights, and it was fun to capture him playing with them.

This is my favorite – the little imp actually posed underwater and flashed me a smile!

And look at these little feet in action!

We have a river rafting trip planned for next week, and I look forward to bringing the waterproof pouch along to capture some more wet adventures.

Have fun and stay dry!

“Jewels”

 

 

Macrame Mania – Square Knots and Beads!

“At first I was afraid… I was petrified…” and now I’m totally obsessed with macrame! With apologies to Gloria Gaynor… once you learn a few basic knots, there are so many possible macrame projects!


You might remember that for my first plant hanger, I used heavy rope and simple overhand knots. I added gathering knots in colored yarn. For my next projects, I learned the square knot and added some beads.

This project uses some silver-colored beads, and the hanger is formed with short stretches of three square knots. I used sport weight cotton yarn (similar to this yarn) which I already had. The advantage is that it’s thin enough to thread the beads onto, but the result is quite thin, so it will be best for a smaller plant.

This next project uses some braided candle wick. It lies flat, which makes the square knots much easier and neater. I did two longer stretches of square knots at the top and then shorter stretches to form the hanger. The twine is heavier than the cotton yarn, and I really like how it lies flat. I’ll definitely be doing more projects with this string!

By the way, you may have noticed the same (fake) plant in both these hangers. We’re on vacation in Toronto, and I ended up buying a “plant model” to help with my projects. 😂

Next macrame projects coming up: wave knots, colored string, and dip-dyeing (I think I will save that for when I get home…)! I always need to have a project to work on, and this has turned out to be a great one for traveling, because it is so compact. Hope you will give it a try.

“Jewels”

Macrame Madness: A Simple Plant Hanger

Everything old is new again! I’m visiting my dad and fantasizing about magically unearthing some old macrame projects from the 70s. Meanwhile, I’m trying my hand at making some plant hangers. This macrame obsession pairs perfectly with my newfound love of plants!


Tying knots in string shouldn’t be that complicated, but I was nervous getting started, so I chose the simplest project I could. Using some heavy cotton rope leftover from hanging a birthday piñata, I based my plant hanger off of these instructions.

Because the rope was so thick, I chose to use a gathering knot in blue cotton yarn rather than tie a heavy knot with the rope at the top and bottom.

Being a busy mom, the first chance I had to work on this project was on a plane! Luckily, the tab that holds up the tray table works perfectly for attaching the loop at the top;)

Here’s how the plant hanger looks empty:

And here’s how it looks planted with Golden Pothos.

Stay groovy and green!

“Jewels”

Fiddle Leaf Fig Fanatic! How to propagate plants from leaf cuttings

Don’t say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks! After years of joking about my “brown thumb,” I’m getting really excited about gardening and plants. It’s so rewarding to watch things grow, not to mention how plants freshen up any space both visually and literally.

I’m growing all kinds of plants, but one of my greatest loves is the Ficus Lyrata, the fiddle leaf fig. I’ve heard that some people have found these at big box hardware stores, but I had no luck. I ended up buying one online (really!) but eventually acquired two more at local nurseries Sloat Garden Center and Flowercraft. The one I got online is fine, but the ones from the nursery are much bigger, so I’d definitely recommend looking around locally, if you can.

After just a few months, two of my trees needed trimming already, so I decided to try to propagate them from the cuttings. I tried a few variations:

  • Top leaf / leaves in water
  • Top leaves in soil
  • a bottom leaf – in water (I learned later that this doesn’t usually work, so stick with the top leaves that have an apical bud attached)

For all of the cuttings, I applied rooting hormone to help encourage new root growth.

Here’s what’s happening! I will keep adding pictures to this post, as the cuttings grow!

0 weeks



3 Weeks

Wow! The leaves in soil already are growing roots! Nice!


The leaves in water are showing tiny tiny roots as well:

From right to left: a single top leaf I cut from a plant, the top three leaves I cut from a larger tree, and a single bottom leaf from a plant. The three leaves had really started to wilt, and they are now perking up again!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, there’s a little bud on my tree just below where I trimmed the top three leaves!

4 weeks

It was the best of times and worst of times for the aspiring fiddle leaf figs this week. The group of top leaves in water started to rot, and I think they may be goners. On the bright side, the single top leaf  sprouted a ton of roots! Take a look:


This is the real deal, and I think I’ll put it in soil soon!

The original tree where I cut off the top three leaves also looks great. There’s a good-sized bud forming!


Everything else stayed about the same this week.

5 weeks

Exciting news! The single top leaf has grown so many roots that I transferred it to a pot today!


The tree where I cut off three leaves also grew a ton with three buds on it!


The plant where I cut a single leaf also now has a little bud.


Some other cuttings are hanging on without much change. I should probably give up on the leaves that started rotting and that subsequently also got sunburned, but I’m feeling stubborn and keeping them a little longer. No pictures of those sad guys.

6 weeks

Crazy! This is where I cut off three leaves from the top of a plant. It went from buds to tons of new branches and leaves in just one week. So exciting!


2-2.5 months

I started to see new leaves growing out of the top of the leaf cuttings. (Photo credit here goes to Nicola, who adopted one of the plants and kindly keeps me updated!)

3 months:

I came back from vacation to find that the single leaf I had rooted had two new leaves!

3.5 months:

This was the single leaf. It now has three new leaves and a promising looking bud pushing out the top. Yay!


Summary:

Rooting in soil seems to go faster than rooting and water. I also had a problem with some of the leaves rotting in water, so I think I’m going to do it in soil from now on.

Here are some expectations in terms of timing:

  • Time to seeing good roots: 3 to 4 weeks.
  • Time to seeing the original plant sprout new buds: 3-5 weeks.
  • Time to seeing new leaves on the cuttings: 2-2.5 months.

Thanks for reading and please share your questions and tips!

“Jewels”

Father’s Day Portrait Gifts

It’s so fun to get the boys involved in a creative project for Father’s Day. Remember when we made the mugs and aprons? Or even these simple cards?

This year, the boys and I created these portraits for Steve and their grandfathers. You know by now that I have an endless supply of scrapbook paper, which I used to create the letters. The boys were really good sports (they aren’t always!) with taking the pictures, and I love the final products.

I printed individual pictures and put them in a frame with three openings and a matte that the boys signed.

And you couldn’t take pictures of three boys and a rascally pup without some outtakes!

Wishing the best to all the hard-working and loving fathers out there!

“Jewels”

 

DIY Ribbon Leis

It’s graduation season! Somehow (well, I guess we know how), I ended up with boys graduating from middle school, elementary school, and Kindergarten all in one year. This calls for some crafting. I decided to make graduation leis for the boys and their friends using ribbon.

I researched a ton of ideas, which you can browse on my Pinterest page.  Some of those ideas are definitely for the expert level lei-maker, and I am a humble beginner. However, I did find inspiration for something that is both easy and pretty over at Sakacon.com.  These spiral ribbon leis don’t require advanced skills, but they do take some time. I modified the method a little, and I love how you can mix and match so many ribbons for infinite ideas!

Materials:

  • wide ribbon 7/8″ to 1.5″ (8-10 yards). This is the ruffle-edge ribbon I used.
  • narrower accent ribbon(s) 3/16″ to 1/2″ (same yardage). This is the picot ribbon I used.
  • embroidery floss to match the accent ribbon
  • clear nail polish to finish the ends of the ribbon
  • needle, scissors

Instructions:

First, go to your local craft store and go crazy! I actually feel like I have accomplished a project just by getting supplies (…but I realize this isn’t quite true). Since the design of the leis is simple, you can add a lot of detail by picking interesting ribbons. You can see i found some ribbons with ruffled edges and picot ribbon (apparently this is what you call the ribbon with the little loops in the side) that really make your “flowers” look more realistic. For fun, I bought some rainbow stripe ribbon, and the possibilities are really endless.

To make the lei, thread three strands of embroidery floss onto your needle. I used about 18″ of floss at a time. Tie a secure knot at the end of your floss.

The Sakacon version has a long tail you can use to tie the lei on with a bow. I decided to make a continuous round lei, because I thought it would be more comfortable for the boys. I still staggered the length of the wide and narrow ribbons – ie left a long tail of the wide ribbon before starting my lei – so there would not be an obvious join in the lei.

I lined up the narrow ribbon to one side of the wide ribbon, folding under the edge to avoid fraying, and sewed a few stitches in place to secure it. I then started doing a long running stitch, with stitches every centimeter (3/8″) or so.

Once you have sewn a few stitches, pull the thread to make the ruffles and guide them into a spiral shape to look like a chain of flowers. This really feels like magic!

You basically continue this for a long, long time. To make the lei a continuous loop, I cut off the wide ribbon first, and picked up the section of wide ribbon I had left as a “tail” at the beginning, continuing I until I reached the start of the narrow ribbon.

I bought spools of craft ribbon, which comes in 3-6 yard sections, so there are several joins in the lei. These aren’t visible, because the ribbons are staggered, and there are so many ruffles. At the ends of the ribbon, I used clear nail polish on the wide ribbon and just folded under the ends of the narrow ribbon. I also changed embroidery floss a few times, being sure to tie secure knots and hide the ends.

Behold! Here are the finished leis. I’m still making more and will add the pictures when they are done, to give you more ideas for ribbon combinations. I can’t wait to share them with my boys and their friends in a few more weeks!

Aloha!

“Jewels”