Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

January 31, 2013

January is Done. Did We Have Fun?

My first month back at home is already over!  We flew home on December 31st and officially started the year in Canada.  Did I mention we were upgraded to first class for the flight home?  What a fabulously fancy way to kick off a new year (it suuuure is different up there).  I've been feeling a little sluggish in terms of re-adapting to life in the townhouse, but I have the January blahs every year anyway.

Before moving forward, I looked back, highlighting my 12 favorite DIYs of 2012 and then rounding up my 12 favorite random posts of the year.  Some bloggers took the opportunity to round up accomplishments and life goals but I didn't get the memo, so I talked about the three-legged dog head butt instead.

Because I knew I'd be mentioning my time in Budapest a lot (how can I not?  I logged four months there!), I rounded up any and all posts that had to do with being there, in addition to a few new tidbits.  Soon I'll put together a Nerdy Girl Guide to Budapest for folks planning a trip (or more interested in the sights than in seeing me model puppets).

In the post above, I also made sure to round up some of the secret DIYs I completed during the summer, and doled out during the fall.

P.S.  Can we talk for just one more minute about the gorgeousness of this rug I couldn't buy (well, not without leaving Hubby there and giving it his seat on the plane).  I am always amazed by how talented people are.

Although sluggish with jet lag and Budapest-missingitis (it's a thing), I did tackle a couple easy-peasy DIY projects right away.  First, Hubby & I turned the two ceramic tiles I painted into trivets so we can use and enjoy them, instead of stuffing them in a drawer.

After rounding up some penny-craft inspiration (I was weirdly into pennies this month), I made a penny project of my own!

Next I tackled some art.  Doubtful even custom frames would fit the enamel art I bought in Budapest, Hubby and I painted the cardboard backing of each one and the results are better than imagined.

Emboldened, we framed another piece of art I bought in Budapest using an inexpensive floating frame and scrapbook paper!

January was a little art-heavy overall.  In addition to the two thrifty framing projects, we hung up a painting gifted to us by Hubby's grandpa and spent subsequent days shuffling art around.

In addition to new art, the office also became home to the Hungarian felted wool pillows I brought back.  Even though I hit a few snags, I'm still so happy to finally have a pair.  (Thanks Mom!).

I would have liked to have done more projects this month, but I logged quite a few days cleaning.  Although hubby was a superstar cleaner when left to his own devices, the house still needed a deep clean (even the lamp shades!).  I really dragged my feet on cleaning, but finally got the parts we see clean.  The cupboards, closets and drawers are another (scary) story, but I dipped my toe into that task by organizing the jewellery box.  Baby steps. 

This month, at the start of a fresh year, we decided to tackle our finances and I finally started a series I've had in my mind for a year:  Money Talks.  After sharing a little peek into our finances (particularly where we struggle), I was overwhelmed by your incredibly helpful comments.  I'm putting finishing touches on the next post in the series and can't wait to chat about money again!

Also on the horizon, our Etsy Shop (Re) Launch, which prompted some thoughts (and some wonderfully in depth and thoughtful comments) about the ethics of thrifting

January 30, 2013

Bold Gold

For Chic Sake (Polka Dot Tray)
Kitten Bear (Awesome Dino Planters)
Camilla Styles (DIY Thank You Cards)

A Beautiful Mess (Gold Leaf Honey Bears)
Glitter and Goat Cheese (Gold and White Vase - love the pop of yellow!)
Etsy (Vintage Clock)
Etsy (Pillow)
A Place for Us Blog
Design Love Fest (Mint and Gold Shelves)
Design Love Fest
Apartment Therapy (Gold Frames)
Dance to the Radio (Gold Beads)

Gold, especially with matte white, is one of those things I love but just never really do (save for one ginger ale inspired bowl).  But look how pretty!  I'm trying to suss out how I can incorporate gold without it looking too Mariah Carey.  I had one gold frame and it didn't have staying power.  Let's try again.
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January 29, 2013

Every Day I'm Shufflin'

I haven't had a lot of time for DIYs, other than gluing things to other things (felt to tiles, pennies to rings), because I've been spending my time running around the townhouse with art, yelling "HOW ABOUT HERE?".  When the dining room painting was swapped out for another, my favorite oil painting needed a new wall.  I knew right away the office wanted to give it a home.  For those who thought, "yawn to the cream pillows," here's the dash of colour the office always wanted.

I've loved my black tree painting above Hubby's DIY desk, especially because it was a gift to Hubs from moi.  In my high school OAC art class, I decided my project would be a series of giant paintings inspired by the beauty of Thunder Bay.  Handy Hubby (then Buildy Boyfriend), created my stretchers, framed the finished pieces and didn't even flinch (or sigh!) when I sent back a few warped ones for a re-do.  I gave this painting to him because it was his favorite.  But the painting by Hubby's grandpa is even more special, so I'm happy with the switch. 

Bye Tree!

The tree is now temporarily chilling (super low) in the living room.  I already mentioned the living room needs more colour to keep up with the new dining room painting, so I took down the cat print (see below), but I couldn't stand the empty hook and bare wall.  More shuffling needs to be done (and possibly a new DIY piece of art!), but for now my arms are tired.

(The cat print only enjoyed a brief moment in the sun).

Bye Cats!
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January 28, 2013

Whatever Happened to the Custom Hungarian Pillows?

Have you wondered what happened with the hand cut Hungarian felt pillows I was agonizing over?  It's not a gripping tale, but I hate to leave you hanging.

Thanks to your awesome help, I made a decision!  I decided on four yellow on yellow wool pillows, for a colourful, textural statement in the guest room.  Then I decided to get two cream ones for the office.  Splurge indeed!  Pretty much at the last minute (I needed to allow 6 weeks to order), I went to the shop at 4:00 p.m. one day.  The market the shop is in closed at 6:00 p.m. that day, but this vendor was already gone.  The sign said the shop was open until 6:00 p.m. but everything was closed.  When I had the time again, I went back to the market, to see what other stock colours they had or to see if there was a chance to order, but they were packed up at 3:00 p.m.!  At that point, I was too irritated to try again.  I really shouldn't have to work hard to part with my money for frivolous things, right??  Happily, my Mom had decided maybe she went a little pillow crazy and gave me two of her cream ones.  So I'm not completely pillow-less, like last time.

If I'm being honest, I'm disappointed I didn't get a custom set of these amazing pillows, but I'm also relieved my plans were thwarted because six pillows would have been a lot of vroom vroom.  I bought some other expensive treats I haven't even told you about, so I think it worked out for the best.

In any case, the cream pair looks amazing in the office and they don't compete with the silhouettes, patterned office chair, patterned guest room chair (looming in the distance), and busy expedit hack.  The texture of the pillow shows up much more in real life and the colour is actually a much creamier shade than the walls - more like the backgrounds of some of the silhouettes.  I'm happy.  And so is Hubby.  He hates pillows. 

P.S.  How many photos of these pillows will I make you look at?  Just one more.

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January 25, 2013

Ethics of Thrifting

I'm re-opening our Etsy shop soon, so of course I've been doing some treasure hunting.  I also rummaged through my grandmother's impressive haul of vintage goodies and am now staring at a five foot tall stack of boxes filled with fabulous finds that I have to research, measure, photograph and list.  While I'm doing this, I've got treasure hunting on the brain.

I think a lot about the ethics of thrifting.  Is that weird?  You might have already gleaned, I am an avid treasure hunter.  I hit yard sales almost every Saturday in the warm weather months, I hit estate sales monthly, thrift stores weekly, and antique shops every now and then.  I like to decorate our townhome with vintage finds, of course, but I also love the experience of treasure hunting.  I always go with a friend or Hubs, but my grandma got me hooked, so when I'm in my hometown, she's my yard-saling buddy.  My Mom and I are a pretty awesome treasure hunting duo too.  I opened an Etsy shop with my Mom to sell some treasures we loved but just don't have space for.  Actually, our rule when stocking the shop is: "if I had a bigger house, would I keep this?"  The answer has to be an emphatic YES for it to go in the shop.

I love finding nifty things (and sharing them with people!), but sometimes I feel guilty.

The guilt source: I'm not poor.

Hubs makes a tidy little income and I'm no chump either.  I don't need to buy steeply discounted goods to decorate my home.  I have a lovely home and plethora of pretty things.  Frankly, there's little in this world I "need" because our house is pretty packed.  But there are people who don't have a lot of money and I think they deserve a shot at a home that makes them feel comfy too, and sometimes a little vase or nice drinking glasses could be just the thing to make a home cheery (and, well, practical because glasses are pretty damn handy)!!  Am I taking this joy away from people in need by being a thrifting monster?

The rationale: there's enough to go around.

I figure, there seems to be an endless supply of stuff people don't want.  I think there's enough to go around.  I've never seen a thrift shop or yard sale devoid of stuff.  But still, when I walk into a thrift shop with my Dooney and Bourke bag (from T.J. Maxx, mind you) and next to me is a woman who is carrying a torn canvas sac instead of a purse, trying to pool together enough change for a casserole dish, I feel a little spoiled.  Am I alone???

The guilt source: plus I am selling it!

Yup, some of my Etsy shop items are from thrift shops, yard sales, estate sales, etc.  Sometimes our prices are on par with what we paid (like if it's something we bought at an antique shop, and just want to break even), but sometime we charge more than we paid.  I feel guilty!!  Especially when people think evil thoughts about this kind of transaction, like a commenter on 8 foot 6.

The rationale: it's a service, too.

My Dad told me not to think of the etsy shop as just goods - we are providing a service, too.  Not everyone (like Hubs for example) relishes pawing through stinky stuff in a stinky thrift store or estate sale to pluck out that one gem and then spend an hour scrubbing it clean.  I spend hours researching and photographing items for sale.  Sometimes it takes hitting five yard sales over two years to complete set of dishes.  Plus, I'm pretty hardcore about this sometimes.  I wake up at 6:00am (or earlier) on Saturdays.  I have waited for 3 hours for an estate sale to open.  I hit thrift stores all over North America, even on vacation.  If someone in Nova Scotia is missing a plate from their set (remember how worked up I was?) and I find the missing piece in Minnesota, isn't it awesome I can throw it up on etsy and the two can meet??  Or let's not forget the salad server miracle.

Frankly, it's way more work than I thought when I opened the shop, so I think should make a little money.  But, I do tend to price things under their "market value," to keep great vintage pieces within reach.  And feel less guilt.

The guilt source: I am a taker.

So in addition to finding cool stuff I love, I'm turning a small profit.  I've found awesomely valuable stuff for pennies.  I feel like a taker. 

The rationale: my purchase does good.

Many thrift stores have a somewhat altruistic mission.  Value Village, although a profit machine, purchases donations made to not-for-profit organizations.  The Salvation Army supports its communities.  Sometimes even buying something can keep sweet finds from making their way into landfills if they don't find another person to love them (or find them in time).

I'm sure there are lots of other aspects I could agonize over, but this is on my mind right now.  Do you ever think about this?  At the end of the day, though, it's just stuff, so I'm not going to get terribly worked up about this.  While I ponder (and list stuff), here's a little eye peek at what will be for sale soon.  And, if you're on the hunt for treasures but feel guilty too, try flea markets!  I found a great article on flea market shopping tips on Ryan Homes.  I find flea markets are that happy middle road between (higher) antique store prices and the sometimes disappointing thrift shops.  Remember my deals from the flea market in Hungary?

We're adding more textiles, including aprons and vintage table linens.
Set of 6 shot glasses with circle/square pattern
Vintage wall hanging (tea towel) with metric conversions - easily removed from frame for use
Vintage tin
Depression glass set of liqueur glasses
Full set (with original box) of glasses made of pure sunshine and awesomeness.
Funky bar set, I think these handles are bakelite
Amber pendant with 8K gold setting
Glasses I want so badly
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January 24, 2013

How to Use Scrapbook Paper to Create a Picture "Mat"

Brick fireplace with art

It's cheapskate mat week on Dans le Townhouse!  Just kidding.  But I have been on a "frame my new souvenir art for as little as possible because vroom vroom" kick.  

When I bought the Ikea frames for the enamel paintings, I also looked for a frame for the quirky print I bought in Budapest.  When Ikea failed to deliver, I headed to Michael's.  The print is, unfortunately, not exactly a standard size.  Happily, at Michael's I found a pretty white floating frame that fit the bill (and was half off).  But white print + white frame, against our white walls . . . I worried the print might disappear.  As I meandered my way to the till, I spotted the scrapbook section.  Can we just take a moment to acknowledge the mind-blowing variety of scrapbook paper?  I was seriously overwhelmed, but I found two sheets I liked - a rich teal and a softer turquoise, both with the same embossed polka dot pattern.  I asked Hubby which he liked better (the teal).  I cut each to size and affixed the colour that got Hubby's vote behind the print with double sided tape - instant "mat"!  The other colour was placed facing outward on the reverse.  It's easy to swap the colours when Hubby's not looking (and fun to see how long it takes for him to realize), but the back also looks more finished, which I like.

If you're curious, the print is by Tascali David.  "Lesz" is a Hungarian word that sounds like "less" and the saying means, roughly, "it will be how it will be," a spin on "it is what it is" - which is an expression Hubby loathes, so this print cracks me up.       

White floating frame; use scrapbook paper for mat
White floating frame; use scrapbook paper for mat
White floating frame; use scrapbook paper for mat
The back is pretty, too! (The teal and turquoise look less similar in real life).

I set the framed print on the mantle along with the little oil painting Mom bought me.  Not sure how long it will loiter there . . . I still need to find the perfect spot.  At least it's out of my suitcase and in a frame.  That's progress!

Black fireplace mantle with aqua accessories
Black fireplace mantle with aqua accessories
How to decorate a brick fireplace mantle

I'm definitely hooked on floating frames (for everything from antique postcards to hand painted note cards), and now I've added scrapbook paper to the mix.  Coupled with Tuesday's painted background trick, I'm out of ideas for replacing custom mats.  For now... 

What are your nifty tricks for framing awkward things?
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