Mother Nature is My Home Girl

Happy Earth Day, y’all!   (And thanks, Google… you always come through with your clever home screens right when I think I might forget medium important holidays and random botanists’ birthdays.)

But seriously, I love the planet, I love DIY, and it’s no secret that I love saving the murnies, so logically I love upcycling like nobody’s business.

Bring on the Earth-Day-themed-upcycling-posts-throwback-round-up-trip-down-memory-lane-smorgasbord-of-April-twenty-second’s love!


(Click on the image or the link above the image to take you to the original post!)

Vinyl Record Bowl

free dog toy toilet paper roll

Nice Knobs!  (Salvaged Crystal Door Knobs)


Vintage Yardsticks and Rulers

{Source: Corner House Blog}

Wine Cork Crafts

{Source: ewehoo!}


DIY Clipboards

Today’s post is something else cool that my mother did (she’s constantly doing fabulous crafty things — like every day — and because I’m home for the next couple of weeks, I am privy to all of her goings-on…  And sometimes if I’m lucky, she’ll let me snap a pic or two before she finishes).

Right now is especially exciting (for me) because she’s working on a few handmade gift ideas for an arts and crafts festival coming up.  Like the easy felt flowers from a couple of weeks ago, she is looking for things that are relatively inexpensive and easy to make (all proceeds go to a scholarship fund they’ve created).

Enter the office supplies!  (Don’t we all love office supplies?)

She found some simple clipboards at Dollar Tree for… say it with me: a dollar!

Then she added an inexpensive piece of scrapbook paper (using Elmer’s glue) and used a razor blade to cut around the metal clip.  After the glue was dry, she added two thin layers of matte Mod Podge (matte’s better in this case because it looks less homemade decoupage-y).

She added a bow to give it more a gifty feel.  I am less enthused about this particular detail, but whatever.

Here’s another pretty one:

I love these because not only are they nice for everyday organizational goodness, but they’re also good as picture hangers for art on the wall (ignore the awkwardness of the light switch placement below):

Or you can use it for practical reasons, like a to do list (you know I love those):

(As you can see, I do really important things when I’m not writing these blog posts.)

So… the grand total of this project comes out to a whopping…


And it’s easy to make!

And it’s not time-consuming!

And it facillates list-making!

It’s a win-win-win-win!!!  Which is so much better than a plain ol’ vanilla win-win.

Ah, Plastic Utensils

About three weeks ago I did a round-up about upcycled silverware.

Here are some of my faves…

Rock On x Peace x Love Special Collector set 3 Silverware Coat Hooks

{Source: JJEverson Art}

{Source: Pretty Handy Girl}

Upcycled silverware got me thinking about upcycled plastic utensils, particularly spoons… (And by upcycled, I really just mean the utensils that you get from take-out that you might otherwise just throw away.  Or maybe you threw a party and now you find yourself with ten thousand spoons and all you need is a knife. Yeah, I just quoted Alanis Morisette.)

Regardless of how you got them (or get them), it turns out that they can do some handy dandy things aside from fill the farthest recess of your silverware drawer.

So… Here are my finds!

Click on the image or refer to the caption for the original source.  Please do the same if you choose to pin any of these lovelies — let’s give credit where credit is due!

recycled plastic spoons

Spoon Chandelier
{Source: Furniture Kue}

plastic spoons - what?

Chrysanthemum Plastic Spoon mirror
{Source: Addicted 2 Decorating}

Plastic spoons!!

Plastic spoon wreath
{Source: Nesting Place}

Melted plastic spoon flower
{Source: Indulgy}

spoon mirror via country living From Trash to Treasure

{Source: From Trash to Treasure}

Plastic spoon chandelier

{Source: blog.gecko}

Grab a button if you were featured in this week’s round-up!

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Don’t forget…

The Foyer Makeover (A Good Ol’ Before and After)

The images you are about see are of a graphic nature.

Ok, not really… But pretty hideous, right?  That is the foyer in our apartment, and this is basically the way it has looked for the past nine months.  We’re not proud of this fact (and if you can imagine, it’s even worse on a rainy or snowy day, with wet and drying rain boots, umbrellas, and towels for drying dog paws).

Surprisingly, it’s the foyer is pretty big for an NYC apartment, so we thought ourselves clever by adding some box shelves that we’ve used in previous apartments.  The effect was less than desirable (though functional).

Josh found a wooden pallet (you know I love those), which we thought we could use as shelving or as a hanging/drying station.  However we were nervous about installing something this heavy on our fragile plaster walls (if you remember from this post, they’re irritatingly delicate), so we eventually vetoed this idea (but not until after months of going “Could we?”).

When I found these awesome hooks at the dollar store (they were actually a dollar each), I knew I was on to something.

Of course I painted them (is anyone surprised?).  But first I had to remove all of the bleck brass hardware:

Then I spray painted the hooks with a metallic silver paint meant for metal (“I’d like to thank my fire escape and the hardware store down the street owned by that very nice Orthodox Jewish man”).

Then I painted the wood with the same paints (and in a similar technique) that I used in the painted wooden spoons project:

Of course, Rosario (and all of her friends) were of great help to me.

Then… it was time to hang the hooks:

As you remember from a couple of weeks ago, I also gave the ghastly 70’s intercom cover a makeover:

It’s a little sparse right now (especially on the opposite side), so we’re looking to add a few smaller things, including painting the door GREEN.

I’m pretty pleased with overall effect, especially since this is the first glimpse people get when they enter our apartment (including us), so I like that it’s a pleasant anteroom to an apartment that I already think is in pretty good shape.

Yes ma’am.  I like it.  Now, if only I had a better camera.

Bouncy Balls and Pantyhose

(I’m afraid the title of this post may warrant a “that’s what she said” joke, though that wasn’t my intention.)

Let me first say that — by my own admission — this is not the end-all be-all of crafty ventures… I wouldn’t even necessarily say the end product is really good… However, it was something that I wanted to try, and try I did.

The other day when I was in the dollar store, I came across some pretty colored bouncy balls and some cheap, black pantyhose and decided to go ahead and take the crafty plunge.  I had a sort of idea.

What I ended up with was this :

Yeah, it’s probably more of a starting point to an even better idea, though I do love the look of the color peeking through the sheer black hose.  And I like to think that if you didn’t know any better, you might not immediately know the necklace was made from pantyhose (maybe?).

Perhaps if the balls were slightly smaller, or if the middle ones were bigger?  Who knows, but it’s definitely something I want to keep exploring.

Here’s how I did it:

First, I cut out the top part of the pantyhose so that what was left was two legs.  Then I cut off the toes so it was open on both ends.

Leaving an extra few inches on one end, I tied off a knot so that I could begin adding the bouncy balls.

I dropped each ball in, one at a time, then tied a tight knot, keeping in place and allowing the color to show through.

I repeated this with the rest of the balls, leaving a little extra room on the other end.

To further confuse the eye (“these are not pantyhose”), I tied decorative knots every few inches.  Then I tied together both ends so it could be slipped over my head.  What’s nice about the hose is that they are stretchy, so you don’t have to tie and untie it every time you want to wear it.

What’s the consensus GPP readers?  I didn’t say it was a work of art, but how could we improve upon this method?  I’d love to hear ideas — I’d love for this to work somehow!

Other, perhaps more satisfying crafty ventures…

State String Art Tutorial

Scrabble Tile Magnets

DIY Subway Art Tutorial

A Mini Makeover Plus a Really Long Preface

Guess what?  I don’t wake up and write blog posts daily… nor do I drink coffee, read the morning paper, or shave my legs (every day).  The last three things are unrelated — I’m just trying to paint a certain picture for you…

So while I am in Atlanta right now, you might find it curious that I am showing you a mini makeover from a room in my NYC apartment… as if to say “Oh, this little ol’ project?  I just did this yesterday, after I dropped the kids off at croquet lessons.” (There are no real kids in this scenario, just the dogs… who don’t like croquet…. so you know I’m telling a tall tale.  Get it?!)

I actually did this project back a few weeks ago and… I. WITHELD. IT. FROM. YOU.

(Does that sound as wrong as it felt to type?)

But I did this for good reason, because while I’m in Atlanta having a grand, old time, I also happen to be so busy that I don’t have nearly as much time to focus on the blog as I did back in NYC (nor do I have the 2 hour train commute — both ways — that I had in NYC, which was some of my most productive post writing time).  And this is something I figured out before I left for the summer, so I wrote this — and a lot of other posts — in advance.

Wow, talk about an unnecessary preface…


Ok, so since things moved around with the addition of the bicycle wheel and other Courtney-fickleness, the wall by Josh’s side of the bed was looking a little shmeh.  I thought sticking the David Bromstadt inspired painting over there would be a swell idea, but it just looked sort of green-crazy.

So, we said see ya later to the painting (we’ll find another place for it really soon!) and hello to DIY Subway Art (oh, you remember).  With this switcheroo, came a few other other changes…

See the changes on the shelf?  I used leftover jars, painting the inside of one Tiffany Blue.  Using sales fliers, I made three paper flowers and attached them with green tape to bamboo skewers.  These little projects were super easy and free for me (since I already had the supplies lying around), and I love the extra color it gives to the shelf.

Taking this oil rubbed bronze two-tiered fruit basket, I made a catch-all-for-Josh’s-everyday crap manly accouterments by adding two bowls that just magically fit (I love the basket for its intended use, but if you’ve seen my kitchen/wall, you know I have no kitchen space so a lot of things have needed new homes).

I finished the nook off by adding a silver box that a neighbor gave me for my wedding and a red alligator skin flask that my friend, Megan gave me for Lent. (That last part about Lent is untrue and slightly irreverent.  Ha.)

Now this is a shmeh-free zone.  Thank goodness!

Making My 70’s Intercom Pretty

If you live in a mid-century apartment like me, you’re probably overrun with tacky little things like this baby:

I’m guessing it was added in the 70’s based on the beautiful faux wood and all the other delightful details.

(Hint: If it’s in italics, it’s sarcasm.)

Yeah, it’s fugly.  Not even misused phrases like “vintage charm” can help this sucker out.

(Amazingly it still works, so that’s nothing short of miraculous.)

In my slow-going but determined attempt to makeover the foyer….

… I decided this intercom cover was something worth tackling as well.

Of course, my enthusiasm got the better of me when I tried to remove the cover and realized it was all one piece, and hard wired to the electrical supply in the wall.  Eek!  I’m sure I could have eventually figured out how to disconnect it, but that’s not something I was terribly interested in (playing with electricity and messing with things that still work after 40+ years, that is).

Time to move on to my not-yet-determined Plan B.  (Whatever that was.)

I pondered various ideas, including hot gluing a piece of paper or fabric to the cover and cutting holes for the speaker.  Even though we don’t own the apartment, I was pretty sure that I could return the cover to its 1970’s glory if necessary.

Then I remembered a silver frame that I had gotten from Dollar Tree which happened to perfectly fit the box cover.  Hooray!  Plan B!

I took some scrapbook paper left over from my cut-out planner and taped it to the inside of the frame.  I cut out the holes for the buttons using an X-acto Knife, but not before vigorously cleaning the buttons (all this time I had thought the buttons were yellow/brown, but under all the grime, they actually proved to be white!).

I attached the frame to the box (and the adjacent wall) using 3M Velcro mounting strips  (which are one of my favorite things EVER).

Here’s the finished product:

See the slits cut for the speaker?

(Forgive the less than beautiful lighting in the foyer.)

I used the X-acto knife for those as well.

And just because we all like a good side-by-side before-and-after comparison, here you go:

I would call that a major improvement.  And even though it’s bedecked in flowers and is undeniably girly, Josh gave it the OK (I actually got a high five because of my handiwork).

Now trying to persuade the pizza man to walk up four flights of stairs will be more enjoyable… at least for me.



More Before-and-Afters…


Embellishing My $0.99 Planner

The Odyssey of the Curtain Rod Bookshelf Thing

Painted Wooden Spoons

My Gallery Wall (Reveal)

Today I’m giving the award for Longest-Put-Off-Idea-On-My-Crafty-To-Do-List to…

The Gallery Wall!

gallery wall

But seriously, I’ve had my sights set on turning my living room wall into a gallery wall forever and I’ve just never gotten around to it.  I love the concept of gallery walls because nowhere else can you put that much unrelated stuff on a wall, yet tie it all together with matching frames or colors, and magically it’s design-forgivable… even chic.  Of course, you don’t have to tie everything in together with a common design element, but I sure fancy it that way and with all of the color already going on in my living room, doing it any other way might hedge on loud.


So, I came up with a list of images I already had (or could get copied), then checked out my frame collection.

A motley crew, indeed.

Yeah, something told me that all of those together on my blue wall would not be appealing.  So I took out the glass and backing and set out to spray paint them white.

I had considered doing half white and half metallic gold, but based on the images that I wanted framed, this just wouldn’t have looked best… so all white it was:

Look at that lovely fire escape/photography studio/multi-purpose room!  So handy.

While impatiently waiting for the spray paint to dry, I played with the frame templates I’d made (excuse the nighttime indoor photography).

Before I painted the frames, I had laid them out with each picture on top or in the frame in an attempt to get a balance of color, size, and orientation.  I was actually pretty fond of my first attempt, but expected that I’d change my mind once it was on the wall.  So… I did what you may have seen on a lot of blogs:  I made templates of each frame out of discarded sales fliers and newspaper and attached them to the wall with painter’s tape.

I’d labeled each template before so I knew what pic was (probably) going in it, then rearranged as I saw necessary.  The process involved a lot of walking away and suddenly turning… Then running up and moving something a half inch this way or that way.  Then repeating the process.  And then again.  And again…. Until finally I felt I was happy with the arrangement and it wouldn’t be one of those things I stared at in annoyance for months to come as I contemplated “Why did I put that frame there?!” (because that’s what I do with my free time, yep).

Finally, the paint had dried, the frames were singing “Kumbayah,” and all felt right in my world.  Next, I got out the ol’ level, hammer, and nails and started hanging the pictures.  Using the templates as a guide, I measured where the nail hook or mounts were on the frame, measured to that point on the template, then hammered a nail directly into the template and ripped the paper down once the nail was secure.  This involved a lot less measuring than going in blindly and helped me maintain the necessary space between each frame, preserving the gallery wall effect.

Once all the nails were up and the templates ripped down, I began the simple task of hanging the frames.  Because of the template method, they were all level the first go-round, and I didn’t have to go back and redo any of the holes.

Here’s the whole she-bang:

Isn’t she lovely?  (C’mon, sing it with me!)

Here’s the breakdown of what’s up there:

Waffle House pic — Our first date was at a WaHo after a rehearsal one night in college.  And we’ve continued in swanky style since then… so classy.

Wedding pic — This was taken right before the wedding (we did pics before).  (Photo by jk Dallas Photography).

Brooklyn Bridge —  We live here!  And we like the bridge, too.

Bailey — My family’s dashingly handsome lab/hound mix, Bailey.  We have pics of our dogs everywhere, but we thought the Fosters’ dogs should get represented, too.

Virginia Highlands sign — This was our nabe in Atlanta and oh, how we loved it so.

Silhouette — This was my sweet little seven year old self in Victorian silhouette form.  Of course I had a huge bow — what else would you expect?

Wedding pic — If you squint, you might see the other wedding pic on the left side.  This is one of our favorites, though it definitely has that air of American Gothic to it — minus the bitterness, repression, and pitchfork.

New Orleans wordle — NOLA is where we honeymooned, so I just put in a bunch of NOLA related text into Wordle, played with fonts and colors, and ta da!  (To read the whole post all about the wonders of Wordle, go here.)

Subway art — Remember this one that I made here?  Well, it worked its way up onto the wall.  It reads: “Take your vitamins/Floss daily/Get some exercise/Eat your vegetables/Walk the dogs/Say your prayers/LOVE one another.”

Ink and marker drawing — This is a representation of a quote from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116, drawn by the amazing Flash Rosenberg (she’s the artist-in-residence at the New York Public Library).  We had this made at a fundraiser for a theatre company here in NYC — Flash was awesome and volunteered her time (and artistry) and all proceeds from her drawings went to the theatre company.  The quote she “drew” was “Love is not Time’s Fool” (little did she know that I love orange).

Cassie picture — Below the silhouette is a picture of my family’s gorgeous golden retriever, Cassie.  She passed away over the holidays, after almost fifteen years on this planet!  She wasn’t messin’ around.  This pic is a family favorite, so of course it made its way onto the gallery wall.

Because everything is hung with nails, we have no problem changing things out as we grow tired of certain pictures, or even shifting things around to reflect the holidays (spoiler alert: there will be Christmas-themed changes — I have no shame).

Let’s look at the pretty-ness again.

We really love how it turned out.  I’m often found standing in front of it saying “Look at that pretty wall.”  It has a calming effect on me.  But that’s mostly because I’m a huge dork.

Now if only we can do something about the black bulk of an entertainment center.    I see royal blue paint in the future (don’t judge — it’ll be pretty, I promise).

Homemade Cleaning Supplies Round-up

We all have lofty goals and New Year’s resolutions… Things we talk about and obsess over, but perhaps never do.  For some it’s to lose weight… or quit smoking… or quit caffeine (crazy talk!).

For me… well, it’s a lot of things.  If I were to list them all here, it would probably begin with humor and likely end with me crying over my iPad screen, which is far less cute than it sounds (tears on a touchscreen = bad news bears).

However, one thing on my “to do one day” list is to quit store bought cleaners, hunker down, and make my own.  While I haven’t done that yet, I figured if I rounded them all up in one place, then made a blog post about it, I would suddenly be held accountable for this resolve.  Yeah?

It might not work, but here they are anyway!

all purpose cleaner recipe

{Source: The Johnstons}

The many uses for hydrogen peroxide
{Source: Preparedness 365}

diy dryer sheets

DIY Dryer Sheets
{Source: The Natural Beauty Workshop}

this blogger tested multiple glass cleaner recipes and this is the winner!  (scroll to the bottom)

Tested glass cleaner
{Source: Crunchy Betty}

natural whitener tips

Natural Whiteners
{Source: Martha Stewart}

576 loads of laundry for $6.

A recipe for 576 loads of laundry for $6
{Source: Why Not Sew?}

Homemade Cleaning Supplies

Homemade Cleaning Supplies
{Source: From Garners to Bergers}

basic household products used as cleaners

Basic Household Items as Cleaners
{Source: Martha Stewart}

Grab a button if you were featured in this week’s round-up!

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DIY Subway Art Tutorial

Few things make my eyes happier than some good ol’ subway art.  Perhaps what I love the most about subway art is that it requires little to no artistic skills and can be done for free on your computer using any kind of image editing software.  Now, for those of you who are all “but I don’t have Photoshop!” — worry not!  There are some great, FREE programs available, and they require no downloading.

I’ve always used Picnik, but tragically, it went away about two weeks ago (I shed a few tears).  However, before departing from the cyber world, Picnik gave a few recommendations, including Aviary, Picmonkey, and the Google+ Creative Kit.

The latter I’ve steered clear of simply because you have to have Google+ to use the program.  While I do have a Google+ account (why, I don’t know), it’s not something I’m not feeling particularly warm towards (I get about a dozen “so-and-so has added you on Google+” notifications a day and considering that I don’t know any of these folks, I have been sufficiently creeped out).

However, I am digging some Picmonkey.  It’s silly-easy to use, it’s free (download-free, too), and its structured almost exactly like Picnik — the only noticeable exceptions being that it doesn’t have some of the fonts that I desperately miss from Picnik (talk about first world problems).


So, with this tutorial, I’ll address how to make subway art with Picmonkey, though feel free to use your own preferred program.  (Heck, you can even use Paintbrush on your computer like I did for our Christmas postcards.  Just know that in a simpler program like Paintbrush, once you place text, you can’t move it without taking a piece of the background with you.  This works fine if your background is white, but otherwise, it won’t really work.)

Because Picmonkey is technically a photo editing program, you have to upload a photo first — before you can access any of its fab features.  I’m sure there are more complicated ways to do this, but here’s what I do:

I open Paintbrush, resize my canvas so it covers the screen (in case it isn’t that big already), then I use the bucket tool to fill the canvas with whatever color I want for the background.

You can find more choices if you go to colors, then edit colors, then define custom colors:

As far as I know, you can’t look up a specific color by its HTML color code, so that’s one downside of Paintbrush.  If you’re dead set on a particular shade of whatever, then I recommend just saving the white canvas as an image (later I’ll show you how to color it in once it’s uploaded into Picmonkey).

This is usually what I end up doing — I’ve got a saved image on my computer called “white bg” that I can resize and reuse all I want.  Whether you go the white canvas or some-other-color route, you can save the colored canvas once you’re done and upload that one to Picmonkey.

So, let’s say you’ve gone the way of the white canvas.  Of course, you can stick with the white, but if you’re feeling less vanilla, you can make a colored rectangle to cover the entire image.

Go to the left hand toolbar, click on the icon with the different shapes, and select the black rectangle.

Create a rectangle by pulling the shape across the screen until it covers all of the white.  Another toolbar window will pop up, and from here you can change the color of the rectangle.  You can also type an HTML color code in the upper right hand corner and hit enter if you’re feelin’ fancy.

Next, you need to decide how big you want the final product to be.  I always prefer 8 x 10 (think how you’re going to print it and then frame it), so I use the resize tool in the left hand toolbar and resize it to 720 X 900 pixels (make sure to deselect “keep proportions”).

From here, you can move on to adding text, or you can save and reopen the new colored background.  It takes an extra minute, but I recommend the latter.  If you don’t save it, you’ll encounter a lot of trouble once you start adding more layers (the text will be one of these layers).

After you reopen Picmonkey and upload your new colored background, it’s subway art time!  (This is where you say “Oh boy! Oh boy!”)

When doing subway art, it’s ideal to go one line at a time, making sure the text space is full all the way across.  Typically, three or four fonts are used– preferably the boxier, less curlicue ones, and about three of four colors are used.  Fortunately, there is no subway art police as of yet, so do whatever you want — knock yourself out.

You can add text by going to the left hand toolbar, clicking on the capital letter P, and typing in the text box a the top.  Once you’ve typed what you want for the top line, click “add.”  The same toolbar window will pop up (as it did before with the rectangle).  Pick your colors and size, then pick your font in the left hand tool bar.  It certainly takes a little playing around, but once you get the hang of it, it’s downright fun!  (Anyone else get excited about fonts and colors like I do?)

Like I said, I recommend going line by line.  If you want to achieve the unique look of subway art, you should fill all of the text space horizontally and vertically.  So, if you get to the end of a quote or series of words (or whatever you’ve typed) and you still have empty space, go back, make some words bigger, isolate just one operative word in a sentence and fill an entire line with just that (like I did with “love” in the Corinthians verse), add a bit of clip art (like the hearts I used), get creative.

Once you’re happy with your image, you can save it by going to the bottom left hand side of the screen, click on — just try to guess — “save,” and you’re done.  If you’re like me and you’re wanting to frame the final product, you can print it off on your printer (boo), or send it to Staples via their Copy Center website.

I highly recommend this last one; it’s always my go-to since I hate buying color ink and prefer the quality I can get from Staples’ slightly fancier machines.  I mentioned it before in this post, so you can go there for the whole scoop, but basically for a mere fifty cents you can send it to their website and pick it up in the store.

Then plop it in a frame and gaze at it with adoration.  Obviously.


So, if you’ve read through this whole post (that’s commitment) and you want to join the cool kids subway art club, but don’t have any ideas for your text, here are a few suggestions:

  • Quotations (“I think therefore I am”)
  • Verses from scripture (like above)
  • Poetry (rhymey poetry words)
  • Names of family members (Susie Johnny Eugene Alouicious)
  • Old adages and sayings (Haste makes waste)
  • Daily reminders (Floss your teeth and take your vitamins)
  • Related words within a theme (chocolate caramel marshmallows)
  • Song lyrics (You are my sunshine, my only sunshine)
  • Names of places you’ve lived (Mobile Atlanta Lancaster New York)
  • Favorite things (white copper kettles and warm woolen mittens)    :)
Here’s another one I did recently that is sort of a combination of sayings:
and here it is framed:

Your turn!  Go make some subway art, then send it to me as an attached image:

…then we can play show and tell (no pet Komodo dragons required)!!!

P.S. — The blog got a facelift!  If you get my posts through a Reader or by e-mail, swing on over to the website and tell me what you think!  (It’s a work in progress for sure!)