Some days I like my tea green and my coffee black. Straight up, no fuss.
On Instagram this month, I posted a heart a day, #amonthofhearts. AllSparkledUpDesign . Part way through the month, I wondered if I would have the stamina and commitment to finish. Some of these took hours to complete. The discipline of taking a creative photo every day for a whole month taught me so much.
~ You never know you can do something until you try.
~ Don’t give up. Just keep going.
~ God has millions of ideas. Scripture says God is the author of all inspiration. If you hang out with him, you’ll find that out.
~ Don’t over think it. Sometimes what you do doesn’t have to be big or loud or even shared. God enjoys the flowers blooming deep in a jungle, unseen by humans, the songs of birds unheard by ears. Some creativity is just for your and his enjoyment. It’s ok. Slow down, breathe deep.
~ I had more ideas for hearts than I had days in the month. So I’m hoping to do this next February too.
Today is Day 28, the end of the month of hearts. Here are the remaining heart photos I posted on Instagram. Enjoy!
If you follow me on Instagram, AllSparkledUpDesign, you know I’m posting A Month of Hearts. Today is Day 14 and there are 14 days of hearts to go! Here are the hearts I’ve posted so far. Make sure you check instagram so you can read all the captions that go with these photos. Love to you all!
14 Happy Valentine’s Day!
We’ve had this quilt for about 30 years. We know who made it but the history of the quilt is now lost.
The quilt was mostly just displayed folded or kept in a box. When I got it out the other day, I noticed a new tear in the fabric. I looked closer and then peeked into the tear and was amazed that there was another quilt inside the old quilt! I know quilts have been “recycled” like this for centuries but had no idea the older quilt existed.
I carefully removed the hand stitched binding from one edge of the quilt and turned the quilt inside out to see the old quilt. What a beautiful surprise!
Such pretty fabrics!
There is significant damage in several places of the old quilt. But I find the worn spots warm and charming, much like the tattered sections of old jeans. It’s a sign of having lived fully.
I think I’ll leave the red, white and blue quilt side turned inside for a while and enjoy this lovely pastel beauty for a while.
I made my first succulent garden! My mom gave me some of the succulents so long ago that they were starting to root into the paper towel on the plate. I got most of the others from Homewood Nursery.
The platter is actually a big, heavy plant saucer, 14″ in diameter. Since it was so shallow, I decided to build a little stone wall in order to build up the soil. The stones used for the wall were all gathered from my back yard. Since the edge of the saucer was curved, I had to hot-glue the stones to keep them from sliding in to the center of the plate. It only took a small amount of glue to hold them together. I planned on using a cement filler between the stones but ended up not using it.
Since the saucer has no drainage, I covered the bottom with more stones.
A layer of bonsai soil was spread over the stones. Not shown is a very thin scattering of charcoal to help with drainage.
A thicker layer of cactus/succulent soil was placed on top, with a little more bonsai soil mixed in. I also arranged and glued more rocks to make another wall on top of the soil, then built up more soil inside to give the arrangement height.
Not all the succulents got used.
I’m so happy with how this turned out since it the first time I planted succulents.
I got a container of “vase filler” from Target and sorted through to pull out all the black stones and light stones. The black stones were used on and near the elevated area in the center of the arrangement. The light stones were used everywhere else.
This dish is beautiful but I weighed it and it’s very heavy… 22 lbs! Wow! It’s definitely not a casual arrangement I will be moving often. But today, I’m really enjoying it on my dining room table.
I’ve wanted to host a game night for a while but everyone’s schedules were really busy. So we freed up the whole weekend and let the gatherings happen when they could. What fun!
First of all, I wanted warmth and light. Right after Christmas is always so dreary. All the prettiness of Christmas is packed away and all that’s left is cold. So I did a little searching and gathered a bit of warmth from around the world.
First and most important, there had to be fur from Russia.
I have a large fur throw in the living room but needed something smaller for the dining room chairs. I found the perfect fur at JoAnn fabrics and made two throws from 1.5 yards of fur to drape over the backs of the chairs.
I adore knits from Scandinavia and found a beautiful heavy knit, also at JoAnn Fabrics. 1.5 yards made two more comfy throws for the chairs. I also used another yard of fur and a lovely wool throw that a friend had given me.
On one chair is a pillow I made using Floral Wood Carving Stripe fabric from Spoonflower. Roostery sells premade pillows using the wood carving fabric too. The wood buttons were fun to carve while watching Gilmore Girls. :)
I’ve never leaned on a table so soft that your elbows sink in, and there are no words to describe how comforting this is!!! If you want your guests to linger, you’ve GOT to try it!
Our table belonged to my grandparents. Decades of love and laughter have taken place around this table. The only thing I’d change is if it were a trestle table with rounded corners and center pedestal so we could fit more people around it without bumping the table legs. My father made the family trestle table and I’ve always wanted one. This trestle table is beautiful! But really, all these tables are gorgeous here.
The first two nights I used the white bedspread/tablecloth as the top layer. The last night I put the maroon spread on top. You simply must try this! Make sure you use washable throws though, in case there are crumbs and spills. From now on, I’m going to be watching for thick, washable throws that can be layered on tables. I might even make one for my desk. Yes! … um… zzzz…. maybe too much comfort for a desk… ;)
For lighting, I wired old chandelier crystals and glass icicle ornaments to the light fixture. The crystals were salvaged from a family heirloom and I cherish them so much. They add a delightful sparkle and look quite wintery.
Two corners of the dining room have lamps. The terrarium is still unfinished, tied together with cord but the plants are growing fine. They’re over a year old now. I finished all the carving but have yet to cut the wood base, glue it all together and line it with copper. The glass top of the terrarium is the old dining room light fixture that we removed when we bought this house.
I also keep white mini lights on top of the china cabinet and dining room bookcase until winter is past. To me, mini lights don’t remind me of Christmas, they mean health and well-being. The more light in winter, the better!
While visiting my daughter in Tokyo, I learned about Japanese tables that were warmed underneath. What a great concept! To mimic the comfort of a kotatsu, I put an electric blanket under the table to tuck our stocking feet into.
On the table I put a beautiful leaf plate from Arhaus. It was perfect for holding cookies – German Springerli and Viennese Chocolate Hazelnut Crescents.
Friday night was just the girls. We played Old Maid, the very cards that I used in my childhood in the 60’s. So much fun!! It had been so many years since I played with those cards. There was Fifi and her poodle, Greenthumb Gert, whose plantings were being nibbled up by rabbits as fast as she planted them, and Milkman Mo with his begging cats. Love the humor in these old cards, which probably would be deemed totally “politically incorrect” now-adays.
Saturday night, children and adults together played Clue. We did our best using English accents and Oh the mystery and laughter!
Miss Peacock, how can you be capable of such a deed! Mr Plum’s strategy was quite scientific. And Colonel Mustard actually held the pistol and knife. This view of the chandelier is only possible if you’re a game piece lying in the billiard room. haha
One of my favorite warming strategies was loading fireplace videos on tablets and displaying them in the bottom of the china cabinet. Fire where there is never any fire! I sure wish some company would create a mini fake fire device that could play a simple, looping fire video like this and fit in a small space like a china cabinet. I would buy several in a heartbeat. Fire amongst the plants in the living room? Yes! Fire on my nightstand as I go to sleep? Yes! The last time we had a fake fire was when we made a fireplace in the oven. There’s something comforting about flame, even if it’s fake.
Sunday night’s beer and poker game ended up being postponed because the flu visited. Alas. But even as I write this, I’m feeling quite toasty. The throws are still on the chairs and I feel the warmth radiating against my back. My laptop is set up on this table and my arms are leaning in on the softness as I type. A Winter Game Weekend after Christmas has definitely become a tradition in our home.
If you’ve been following my Instagram feed here, https://www.instagram.com/juliaamonroe/, you can see the progress I’m making carving wood panels for a terrarium.
Before assembling the carved wood panels into a terrarium base, I thought they would make a nice striped fabric so I took photographs of the panels and created a seamless, railroaded Floral Wood Carving Stripe fabric design. The design repeat is a little over a yard. You can find the fabric here on Spoonflower.
The Floral Wood Carving Stripe also makes a great gift wrap.
It’s available as wallpaper too.
I’m looking forward to making pillow covers from this fabric. They will look so nice outside on the deck. Or I might make cushions for the deck rocking chairs. Hmm, that will be a hard decision!
I put away all the Christmas decorations except for one – the Snow and Crystal Tree. The corner will be too empty if I put it away and I love the wintery look of it. The snowflakes remind me of scribbles. Scribble Snowflakes!
The tree is a dried branch cut from a tree in the woods behind our house. I stuck it firmly into Styrofoam in an urn and laid moss around the base.
The crystals are from the old chandelier that used to hang in my parents’ dining room when I was a child. I loved that chandelier so I’m thrilled to have some of the crystals from it.
The snowflakes are made of natural tendrils and curls that I collected from the vines in the backyard in the fall. My granddaughter helped me look for the curly tendrils and we really enjoyed our time together outdoors.
To make the snowflakes, I broke off the dry twigs and slid the curly tendrils off. Here is a photo I posted on instagram of the twig bits with the tendrils removed.
Each snowflake needed six similar pieces so I grouped the tendrils by size.
Once I had six similar tendrils, I trimmed the ends so they were the same length.
For each snowflake, I made a contoured mat out of foil for gluing. A small bead was glued temporarily on the back of the foil so it would create a small mound on the right side.
On the right side of the foil, on top of the tiny mound, I glued a small bead for the center of the snowflake. All the tendrils will then be glued to this bead using hot glue.
The tendrils were arranged around the center bead in a pleasing manner.
The two straightest tendrils were glued on first, opposite each other, to create the line of symmetry.
The other tendrils were glued on the sides and the hot glue was allowed to harden.
To remove the delicate snowflake, the foil was folded and pinched together under the snowflake. Then the snowflake was gently popped off the foil. One of the snowflakes stuck too much so I used tweezers to pull the foil off and reglue the tendrils that had loosened.
The snowflakes were hung with thin hooks I made from jewelry wire.
The vintage crystals look lovely on the tree.
The little fox ornament I got several years ago finally found a home… at the base of the Snow and Crystal tree.
I don’t know what to put in the corner when this tree comes down.. probably a lamp. But then again, perhaps I’ll make a Snowy Valentine tree…
I’ve made a decision!
Last year I was committed to posting timely topics on my blog. Well that didn’t happen! sigh. I don’t know how other bloggers do it all. They must decorate for Christmas months before December, the same way magazines work on their seasonal material many months before the issue hits the press.
Though I really tried last year, if I couldn’t finish a post during the season, I ended up never posting at all. That is going to change. This year, I am posting anything I want, any time I want. I have quite a bit of material to post! I know that breaks blogger rules, the rule that says readers won’t be interested in seeing Christmas crafts in August. But life is too short and much too busy so I hope you all forgive me for diving right in to this new year.
You will be getting more posts from me but it’s fairly certain they won’t be all calendar-tidy. Nope. Not at all. I can sorta-kinda-maybe get some posts matched with seasons but I won’t stress about missing. And I’ll do my best to not apologize when I post Christmas in May and Valentines in September. Because… it’s highly likely I will actually be working on Christmas projects in May and making Valentines in September!
So here’s a project I just finished yesterday, January 12, 2016. It’s a Christmas decoration. Happy New Year to you!
The photos are a bit off in tone because I started this Pearl Bottle Brush Topiary Tree before Thanksgiving 2015 and photographed the steps under various lighting conditions as I did them, weeks apart. That’s how I get so much done. Projects are broken down into phases, kept in bins and boxes like a kit, ready for me to work on here and there.
For the bottle brush topiary, I picked a nice bottle brush tree to work with. The brush had to be full and evenly distributed all the way around and the bristles had to be tight. I found these 9″ trees at Michaels.
The first step was establishing the spiral by sticking masking tape around the tree. I started at the base and wound it around the tree all the way to the top.
I first started cutting out the bristles right in the center of the taped areas as shown here. The first cutting was in the center between the tape, all the way from the base to the top of the tree.
Here you can see what the tree looks like after the first cutting.
To make the second cutting, I cut at an angle from the tape in to meet the deep first cut in the center of the tree.
After the second cutting.
I continued cutting away bristles until there was a nice, neat spiral shape, all between the tape-covered bristles.
The cutting is all finished here.
The masking tape is gently pulled away.
Here is the cut tree next to an identically-taped bottle brush tree. The tape makes it easy to cut an even spiral.
The last step was gluing on the pearly glass and plastic beads. I watched Downton Abbey while doing this and it was a pleasant task. Oh so elegant! I used Fast Grab Tacky Glue and tweezers to place each pearl. No other glue would have been as easy to use because I needed a glue that grabbed fast and didn’t drip. I used two kinds of large pearl beads and a couple different kinds of smaller pearls and pearly beads.
I’m looking forward to displaying this pretty tree next Christmas, tucked amongst the plants in the corner of the dining room.
By the way, did you see the beautiful red Poinsettia peeking over in the first photo? When I lifted the poinsettia plant out of the van in early December, three branches broke off. So I stuck them in a glass of water. They are still beautiful, over a month later. =)
All I wanted was a little more light in the dining room so I gathered up the curtain in one hand and pulled it up and discovered … an Angel Curtain Treatment!
[Please excuse my unwashed window. We’ve pared back on a lot of things since my surgery. ;) ]
Normally, the sheer curtain just hangs over a tension rod stuck in the window frame. I don’t hang the curtain full length as normal, using the rod through the curtain sleeve, but rather just drape the floor-length panel over the tension rod so the pretty embroidered bottom edge hangs about halfway up the window as seen in this fall photo.
I also like the double thickness of the sheer when I hang the curtain like that.
To make the angel curtain treatment, all you need are two S hooks with lengths of ribbon tied on and whatever decoration you want to use for the top of the “angel head.” That’s it! One end of the ribbon is shorter than the other when tied, as you can see here.
I made two S hooks from an old hanger, making sure they would fit over the tension curtain rod. I like using the inner stiffening layer from men’s ties as ribbon. (You can see what else I used the tie pieces for here.) In this tutorial, I will call the wool tie interlining pieces “ribbons” for clarity.
The curtain is very light and airy and you can see how long it is here. I’m not sure this treatment would work as easily with a heavier curtain. Also, the top of the curtain will actually be the bottom of the angel’s dress. So the back of the curtain’s hemmed sleeve must look good.
The two shorter ends of the ribbons were tied loosely across the middle, wrapped several times to make the ends hang at the sides of the “angel head.” I didn’t have to tie any knots because the rough tie fabric held position easily when wrapped around several times. But if your ribbon is slick, like satin, you will have to pin it together to make it stay.
Here I’m lightly gathering the curtain in one hand, a little above the embroidered edge. I adjusted the curtain length over the rod and made sure the embroidered edge was arranged with pretty folds as I gathered it together.
The finished Angel Curtain Treatment
To make this window treatment took less than 5 minutes. Seriously, it took longer to rummage through my old ribbon box to find the package decoration! To take it down, simply untie the ribbon from behind the curtain and remove the S hooks. Super simple.
And Thank You, Brenda, for your husband’s ties. This project finished up the linings I had from the first batch of ties. Your bag of ties will be plenty for new projects!