Maybe Matilda: home
Showing posts with label home. Show all posts
Showing posts with label home. Show all posts

Monday, July 14, 2014

Summertime Survival

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Hot Shot® Insecticides.

It’s not that I don’t like summer. All winter long, I whine about the cold and dream of all the fun summertime things I can’t wait to do. But once it actually arrives, I sit around all hot and sweaty and uncomfortable and start dreaming of fall and pumpkin muffins and hot chocolate and cozy sweaters (environmentalists, please close your eyes and do not read the following statement where I confess to sometimes cranking up the AC at home on hot days so I can wear slippers and cardigans and sip hot chocolate, because I’d hate for you to be upset at me). As far as seasons go, summer is #3 out of 4 in my lineup. I’ve made an effort this year, though, to try and make summer a little more fun for everyone. Because, as you know, I am the Queen of Fun as well as the World’s Coolest Mom (an impressive double title, I know, and I always aim to impress you here). Here are a few simple, low-budget things we’re doing to make our summer enjoyable:

Plan at-home activities. I’m a major homebody, and it’s really easy for me to just turn on movies for Forrest while I read or crochet, and the next thing I know, it’s time to put him in bed for the night and he’s literally spent his whole day in front of the TV. I’m certainly not some amazing at-home educator planning daily activities for Forrest, but I’ve tried to come up with a handful of things that can keep him happy and busy and limit the amount of time he spends parked on his caboose in front of the TV.

Summertime Survival . . . a few ideas to make summer at home with little kids easier and happier for everyone.

They don’t have to be big activities that take a ton of preparation or time or money. In fact, I’m the happiest when they take very little preparation, time, and money. A few days ago, when he was pestering me relentlessly about watching TV, we went into the kitchen and made a batch of salt dough together for him to play with.

Summertime Survival . . . a few ideas to make summer at home with little kids easier and happier for everyone

It took 5 minutes (if that) to make, used ingredients we already had, and kept him entertained for hours. Planning little at-home activities like this have helped keep us both happier, since they give him something fun and creative to do, and they don’t cost me much money or energy. Not to mention playing with salt dough is pretty dang fun. Can’t say I’ve gotten my hands messy with salt dough in, oh, probably 20 years. It’s about time I gave it a go again.

Get outside. A no-brainer for those of you who are not boring homebody couch potatoes, but for boring homebody couch potatoes like me, it’s incredibly easy to look back on my week and realize I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve left the house in the week, with fingers to spare. I think we’re all a little happier when we get out, whether we’re heading to the library to pick up some books for the week, or running errands, or even just going out in the backyard to play. A $20 inflatable pool from Walmart has more than paid for itself with hours upon hours upon hours upon hoursuponhoursuponhoursetc of outdoor play for these two. That was $20 well spent. Well spent, indeed.

Tracking Pixel

Summertime Survival . . . a few ideas to make summer at home with little kids easier and happier for everyone

Exercise. I’m far from any sort of athlete (I like to blame my mom for this, since she never forced me to participate in any sort of sports as an impressionable young child, and she likes to remind me that she tried countless times to sign me up for sports teams and camps and I wholeheartedly refused to participate), but we’ve been having a lot of fun heading outside for walks and jogs and bike rides as a family (to be clear: Jeff is the only one who jogs. If he insists on a jog, I ride a bike alongside him. A runner I am not, and never shall be.).

summertime survival tips

I can’t say I love exercising, in general, but it’s a lot easier to talk yourself into a workout when you’re doing it as a family and it feels less like work and more like you’re just playing around outside together. Jeff just restored the above bike for me for my birthday (he’s pretty cool), and we’ve had so much fun getting out and riding together. And since we just bought a used bike trailer from a friend for the kids to ride in, I’m really excited to take them on some little rides to the library and the playground.

Kill dem bugs. Forrest and I are both stricken with an irrational fear of bugs. It’s a little over the top. Example: we were playing outside the other day and I spotted him standing completely still, frozen in a sort of weird position with a look of absolute horror on his face. As I tried to figure out what he was doing, he let out the most bloodcurdling horror movie scream I’ve ever heard, and started sobbing and begging for me to help him, all without moving a muscle. All because . . . there was a spider on his leg. Not even a particularly big or gross or scary one. Just your run-of-the-mill, average little spider. He then needed 30 minutes of snuggling while watching a movie to recover from his traumatic experience. And I can’t even blame him for his horror movie scream, as I probably would have done the same were I in his shoes. Hearts of steel in this family, I tell you. So trying to keep the bugs to a minimum is definitely a necessity around here.

Summertime survival tips

I’ve been using Hot Shot® Insecticides this summer, and it has definitely helped keep things more comfortable this summer. Fewer icky creepy crawlies in my home or in the spots we like to play outside definitely makes us a happier group. Because we are wimpy and we want our bugs the way God intended them: dead and deader.

Who’s the bug-destroying hero in your house? Enter the Hot Shot® Insecticides sweepstakes on their facebook page this month!

What do you do to make your summer more fun?

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Hot Shot® Insecticides.

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Adding Curb Appeal

When Jeff and I bought this house (our first ever!), we set a date 3 months after closing when we planned to have all of our renovations completed and throw ourselves a housewarming party.

. . .

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

(inhale)

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

If you’ve ever owned a home, especially a fixer-upper, and aren’t particularly great at getting things done in a timely fashion (aherm, hello, this is us), you’ll totally understand just how ludicrous the idea of finishing our house in 3 months was. 2 years later, we finally feel like we’re getting the house close-ish to where we want it to be. We still have so much we’d like to do, but you know . . . something about time, something about money, blahblahblah.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve focused on something that probably should have been a higher priority on our renovation to-do list—sprucing up the exterior. Even though our house isn’t very old (it was an early 90s build), it was in pretty bad shape when we purchased it. It had been rented out for 10 years before we purchased it, and it was painfully obvious that no one—not the tenants, not the landlord, no one at all—loved this house or gave it even the slightest bit of attention or upkeep or care. Poor house. We love you and your weird sloping roofline and your goofy orange stonework and your dumb little itty bitty circular window. Your quirks make you special.

Adding major curb appeal with just a few simple changes!

(sigh of relief) So much better. There’s still quite a bit more that we’d like to do, but I think this is a pretty huge improvement, if I may say so myself.

The yard was an enormous undertaking in itself. It was an absolute jungle. Jeff still, 2 years later, gets a little swear-y if I bring up the first time he tried to mow that monster of a lawn. We also had to pull bushes out (that were far more like trees than bushes), spent 2 years fighting the out-of-control dandelions, and have tried to add a little bit of (tame!) landscaping (like those 3 little lilac bushes right in front of the house—I love lilacs, but these don’t seem to be doing well. I hope they can survive). May this house be a lesson to landlords everywhere—don’t let crappy renters ruin your property. (Or is the lesson don’t be a crappy landlord and let your property go to sh!t? Either way.)

But the rest of the changes were embarrassingly easy to make . . . embarrassing that it took us 2 years to make them, considering how simple and inexpensive they were, but how big of a difference they make in the house’s appearance.

From the start, I knew I wanted to add shutters. It’s a rare house that I don’t think looks better with shutters. But I struggled for a long time deciding what color they (as well as the front door) should be. The orange-y color of the stone made this decision much harder than it deserved to be . . . nothing we pictured (or photoshopped) looked very good, so we spent the better part of 2 years debating what color (if any) would look good next to that stone. In the end, we wimped out and went with black. I like to think it looks classic and timeless.

Adding major curb appeal with just a few simple changes!

The front door (previously a very dingy cream), door trim (almost completely flaked-off white), and handrail (rusty, patchy white) also got spruced up with new coats of paint. Easy, simple, inexpensive updates that really helped it look so much more fresh and inviting.

Adding major curb appeal with just a few simple changes!

Our next project to tackle? Building a big black window box to go beneath those two front windows above—I think this is going to look fantastic, and help tie in the black of the shutters and door. We’ve debated getting new light fixtures, but the current plan is to save that money instead and just see if a new coat of paint will freshen them up enough that we won’t feel the need to replace them. I love the addition of the American flag to the house—it was sent to us by Gettysburg Flag Works (ours is the Worry Free Set) and I love having it on display. Looooove it.  ‘Murica, baby. I feel so patriotic hanging that bad boy out there. (And in case you didn’t realize, tomorrow is Flag Day! I’m pretty thrilled to be able to participate with my own flag hanging on the house.)

These planters were a housewarming gift from our realtor, and I am sorry to say that the poor things spent almost 2 years sitting unloved and ignored in the garage. Before painting the shutters and door, they just looked so dark and weird against the house, and honestly, I even forgot we had them. But once we added some black touches to the house, I happened to remember them in the garage and I think they look fantastic against the house. I don’t have much of a green thumb, so pray for the poor flowers please. They’ll need all the help they can get.

Black planters

And finally, just a little DIY wreath on the door to make it a bit more welcoming. Grapevine wreath. Cheap Walmart flowers. Hot glue gun. Bam bam bam, done and done. It probably took a whopping 7 minutes to make, and I think it looks pretty cute.

Cute and easy DIY wreath!

Here’s our curb appeal price breakdown:

Shutters (Home Depot): $75
Exterior paint (for front door and door trim): $30
Spray paint (for handrail): $5
Wreath materials: $7ish
Planters: gift
Flowers for planters: $35
Flag: gift
Lilac bushes: $45

Total: $197

I think that’s money well spent.

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Friday, May 2, 2014

Mother’s Day Treasures and a $500 RedEnvelope Giveaway!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of RedEnvelope.Tracking Pixel

A brief list of some of the things I might do in a typical day for Forrest:

- Wake up at 6 AM sharp (always on the dot—always) and talk him down from his morning tantrum/hysterics/deep sorrow, as his brain only knows how to wake up in one mood, and it is utter devastation.
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Assist him on the potty, which might not sound too graphic, but brother does not comprehend a thorough wipe job (and somehow wiping after a potty #2 seems so much more disgusting than wiping after a diaper #2).
- Take him out for a walk to the playground so his growing body can get some exercise.
- Comfort him after the heartbreak that is leaving the playground.
- Prepare him a variety of healthy meals, which he frequently chooses not to eat.
- Listen to him whine and moan and complain about the healthy meals I prepared, and beg for donuts instead.
- Make a visit to the library so he can enjoy story time and choose books for the week.
- Read said books over and over and over and over and over ad nauseam.
- Clean up mess after mess after mess after mess after mess created by his zillions of fun toys, then listen to him sob at the store because I said no, I would not buy him yet another action figure or little racecar.

The list could go on. And on. And on. And we won’t broach the topic of the things I’m giving up (willingly! happily! but still—they are certainly a list all their own) so he can just exist, and be paid/provided for, and so I can be at home with him every day.

And then, a few days ago, we had this conversation (think of the list! remember the list! #neverforgetthelist):
Me: Forrest, do you know how much I love you?
Forrest: A whole lot lot lot lot lot lot lot lot lot lot lot lot!
Me: That’s right.
Forrest: But do you know how much I love you?
Me: How much?
Forrest: Just a little bit.

And then, in case I didn’t fully grasp it, he reiterated, “I just love you a little bit.”

Yes, I know, he loves me, yada yada yada, but still. STILL! The injustice! The unfairness of it all! I think I deserve a really nice Mother’s Day gift, don’t you? (And seriously, don’t we all?)

This photo gallery frame set from RedEnvelope is doing the trick quite nicely.

Gallery Wall Frame filled with family memories--great Mother's Day gift from RedEnvelope! #whatmomwants #ad

I filled it up with beautiful memories—our wedding, becoming a family of 3, and now as a family of 4 (which still boggles my mind . . . do you ever really get used to the idea of having created humans?). I love walking by and seeing it there, displaying some of the happiest and proudest moments of my life with some of my very favorite people. It made a perfect Mother’s Day gift—a way to celebrate the journey to becoming a mother, and the kids who made me a mother.

A photo gallery wall full of memories makes a great Mother's Day gift! Frame from RedEnvelope! #whatmomwants #ad

If you aren’t familiar with RedEnvelope, you will find so much to love there, and I truly, honestly, really do encourage you to check it out to find a perfect Mother’s Day gift (either for yourself or a woman who has made a difference in your life). Their products are stunning, quality, and unique, and many have personalization options which of course makes for an awesome, heartfelt gift. I found so many things I just loved and wanted either for myself or to give to my own mom and grandmas.

And let me tell you, finding this on your doorstep? Totally makes a lady’s day, before it’s even opened.

Want to find out what kind of mom you are? Take the quiz and find out exactly which RedEnvelope gifts are perfect for your mama personality!

Do you (or someone you love) deserve a RedEnvelope gift this Mother’s Day? Well, how ‘bout that, it’s your lucky day! THREE winners will be receiving a $500 RedEnvelope gift card! Enter using the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway will be open on Wednesday April 30at 12:01am PT and end May 7, 2014 at 11:59pm PT. Good luck to one and all :-)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And while you’re waiting to find out if you’re a lucky winner, how about making things painfully obvious to make sure you get exactly what you deserve? Download this and email it to the person of your choice with a link or links to what you want from RedEnvelope this Mother’s Day. You’ve earned it!

mothers-day-hash-rect

I’d love to hear, what are you hoping to receive this Mother’s Day? What RedEnvelope treasure do you deserve? And please tell me I’m not the only mom out there with an ungrateful little booger. A precious, loved, adorable little booger . . . but an ungrateful booger nonetheless.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of RedEnvelope.

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Finished Sofa Blanket (Grandma’s Lacy Ripple Pattern)

This post has been a long, long, long time coming. You will almost definitely not remember a post I wrote back in February in which I pondered various patterns that might be a good fit to crochet for my living room. I wanted a throw blanket to toss on my sofa for a few reasons: 1) a black leather couch in a room I have tried to make very light and airy could use a little lightening/cozyifying [totally real words] in the form of a snuggly blanket, 2) I spend a LOT of time on that couch crocheting, reading, pondering life’s great mysteries [I kid, of course; I mostly ponder things like how handsome my current celebrity crush Mr. Ackles looks in a 1940s suit], and a blanket would make these enjoyable tasks even enjoyabler, and 3) well, I sure love crocheting blankets, so why not?

And now, 7 months (!!!!) after settling on a pattern, selecting yarn, and eagerly starting my blanket, I’ve finally finished it.

7 months. SEVEN! That’s a bit outrageous, especially considering that I loved everything about this project—the yarn was perfect, the pattern was lovely, I felt confident about my choices and ability to tackle it . . . I guess my excuse is pregnancy brain. I’ve been pregnant for all 7 of those months, and while I picked up this project every now and then to add a few rows, it spent a lot of time being set aside while I worked on baby projects instead. But I’m so glad it’s finished, and I absolutely love my finished blanket. Behold!

Crochet Throw Blanket (Pattern: Grandma's Lacy Ripple)

Isn’t it nice? I ended up using the same pattern I used for the queen-sized blanket in my bedroom—it is called Grandma’s Lacy Ripple. Never have I heard a less appealing, more granny-sounding title for a crochet pattern, but boy, it does make a nice finished piece! The pattern works up quickly and simply (well, it’s quick if you spend more than 15 minutes per month on it, that is), and I love the detail in it. It’s simple and pretty and has a bit of an old-fashioned feel, but still looks fresh and cozy.

Grandma's Lacy Ripple blanket

And though the pattern is part of an older book, I got lucky and found a PDF copy of it online HERE. Win! UPDATE: Bad news folks—we broke the internet! That link, which has faithfully worked for oh-so-long, is dead, deceased, and gone. I don’t know what happened. But I uploaded my copy of the pattern—visit THIS POST to find it. Thank you!

I used one of my absolute favorite yarns for this project—Vanna’s Choice by Lion Brand Yarn. I love experimenting with different brands of yarn, but this is consistently one of my favorites. It’s the perfect mix of soft + structure (it’s cozy and soft and comfortable, but holds its shape beautifully so intricacies of the pattern really stand out).

Vanna's Choice yarn in Silver Blue

I chose Silver Blue and hoped it would be a good fit for my green and blue living room, and I think it fits in beautifully. I struggled to decide between using a blue or a gray yarn for this blanket, and this color was the perfect in-between . . . a cool, icy blue that doesn’t come across too strong. I ended up using 11 skeins for my throw blanket (I made it very generously-sized . . . definitely big enough for two to cuddle up under), and I can’t wait for cooler weather so I can snuggle up with it while reading or working on new projects.

Grandma's Lacy Ripple Crochet Throw Blanket by Maybe Matilda

Hopefully my next project won’t take anywhere close to 7 months to complete. What’s your longest project to date?

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Friday, July 5, 2013

Baby Girl Nursery Inspiration

Goodbye, craft room. You will be missed. Well, sort of. I will not miss your constant state of disarray, the untanglable mass of knotted yarn blobs in your closet, and your complete lack of organization. Hopefully I can create in you a state of order, peace, and harmony that was never present there before.

I’ve been checking out nursery ideas, and I have to tell you . . . girl stuff is over. the. top. Whoa. Really, just search ‘baby girl nursery’ on Pinterest. Did you even know there were so many shades of pink in existence? Were you aware that every wall must be decorated with a gigantic vinyl cutout of some sort? (Acceptable choices: owls, huge monograms, quotes in cursive.) That all bedding/pillows/curtains must meet government-regulated minimum ruffle counts? I never realized there were SO MANY WAYS to display a baby’s name/initials. Or that it was necessary to do so. Will I not be allowed to bring my baby home from the hospital unless I can prove she has at least one cutesy-crafty version of her name on display [in pink!!! everything pink all the time always!!!] in her room? It’s overwhelming.

In short: I’m not sure I’m prepared to properly tackle a Pinterest-worthy, blogger-style baby girl bedroom. The ultra-girly, super-ruffly, extra pink with a side of pink bedrooms are cool, and fun to look at, and were probably a blast to design and I’m sure their babies + moms love them, but . . . I’m a simple girl with simple tastes. I like things kind of quiet, and easy, and I think less is definitely more. There won’t be gigantic poufy tissue balls in my baby’s nursery, and I will not spend $4 million to transform this empty room into a pinktastic fairy princess playground. Maybe I’m boring. It’s very possible. But the quiet, subtle, simple rooms speak to me. (Am I sounding anti-pink? I’m not anti-pink. Just getting pinked out from all my nursery browsing. So much pink.)

Nursery Inspiration

(Photo sources, clockwise from top left: Allegra’s Nursery, Herringbone Art, BHG Color Palette, Lily Pad Cottage, Love print, crochet giraffe made by me.)

After much perusing of Pinterest/blogs/magazines, I’ve decided that the rooms I am almost always drawn to are simple and understated, with plenty of quiet neutrals and the occasional burst of color via accessories or fabric or wall art. Which is a very convenient preference, since that room is already painted a soft, quiet gray (woohoo! no painting!). Check out those two bedrooms in the collage up there—I love that they are mainly quiet and soothing with soft wall colors and plenty of whites/grays, and all the color comes from little bursts here and there in the blankets or pillows or wall art. They’re fun rooms and interesting to look at, but I find them very comfortable and peaceful. I could feel at home in those rooms, and hopefully baby girl will, too.

The other photos in that collage are some ideas for color bursts—my little giraffe was made with the intention of bringing a pop of color into the room, to be placed on a shelf or a rocker or a dresser. The LOVE print is fabulous, isn’t it? I don’t know if I’ll use it, exactly, but I love its whimsical, handmade look, and want to incorporate something similar. I’m leaning towards that blue/yellow/magenta color scheme on the middle right, and I might try my hand at some hand-painted art for the room, maybe something like these herringbone canvases.

I’ve got a lot to do.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Quick + Cheap Graphic Canvas Art

I’m traveling outside my box today . . . far outside my box. So far from my warm, comfy box. Hold on to your hats, folks, there is no yarn in this project.

I tried my hand yesterday at making some artwork for Forrest’s bedroom (which you can see HERE). For the most part, I’m pleased with his bedroom and feel like it’s more or less completed (at least, it’s completed enough for my minimalist decorating taste), but there was one obvious area that I’ve kind of ignored . . . the space above his dresser:

DSC_0044

I hung that mirror shortly after we moved into our house almost a year ago, but never really decided what else to do with that area. I had originally thought it would be cute to collect a few vintage toys to display on/around the mirror, but I only ever found one old toy that I liked, and Forrest lost it within like 10 minutes of purchase, so that didn’t pan out. But posting that picture above must have been the kick in the pants to finally make that spot look a little more on purpose.

Mirror Vignette with Quick DIY Canvas Art

(You are so welcome for the attention to detail I put into my photography and blog posts—the mirror still has the sticker tag on it [I’ve owned it for at least 4 years], and who can remember the last time it was washed? Not this perfectionistic Susie Homemaker.)

Sticker tags and finger smudges aside, that’s much cuter, isn’t it? The little ‘Say Your Prayers’ sign was a 50 cent thrift store purchase quite a few months back that I had never bothered to hang, so it took all of 5 minutes (5 precious minutes procrastinated for 6+ months) to hang it along with Forrest’s cute baby picture. But that left the spot to the left of the mirror empty, and I flipped through my Pinterest inspiration pics and found two cute canvas projects that I thought would look great and (hopefully!) be relatively easy to make: this cute wall art from The Embellished Nest, and this great herringbone canvas art from View Along The Way. I decided to combine the two—I loved the graphic layout of The Embellished Nest’s project, but preferred the painting style from View Along the Way’s art, so I picked my favorite parts of each project and went to work.

Cute Canvas Art for under $10

It came out far from perfect, but it’s good enough for me. I think it’s a cute little piece, and it was actually kind of fun to put together despite my serious lack of talent in the artwork/painting arena.

Here’s how I made this little canvas art, quick and painless, for under $10:

Graphic Canvas Art DIY

I bought:

- a 3-pack of 8 x 10” flat canvas panels from Walmart ($3.97 for the pack of 3)

- a few small acrylic paint bottles (57 – 97 cents each)

- package of foam brushes (I think $1 for 4 brushes?)

I used masking tape to lay out the design—two long vertical strips first, followed by smaller zig-zag strips. Measuring would have been smart; I just eyeballed it.

DIY Graphic Canvas Art

Make sure the edges of your masking tape are pressed down tightly. Since I peeled up and rearranged mine a few times, it probably wasn’t pressed down tightly enough, and I got some leakage underneath the paint. Part of the problem was that I initially tried to go for the ‘drippy’ paint look from View Along the Way’s Herringbone Art, and although I love how it looks on hers, it wasn’t working for me and I think the added water helped the paint work its way under my tape. Whoops!

Start adding your paint, blending each color with the next as you work your way down. I can’t say there’s a lot of technique here . . . I just started with my first color and painted a few horizontal strokes across, then when I was ready to fade into the next color, dipped my brush into the next color without cleaning off the first color so they blended together on the canvas. I tried to add some red at the bottom of the canvas to tie into the sign and photo, and got a swift elementary school art class reminder of what blue + red equals. Had to hide that with more blue; purple is not part of this room’s color scheme.

DIY Canvas Art Tutorial

I peeled off my tape while it was still wet, then waited until it was dry to go back with white paint and clean up some of the taped-off areas that the colors had leached onto under the tape. Once it was completely dry, I used a Command strip to hang it.

Quick and Easy DIY Canvas Art Tutorial

And there it is! A quick, simple, fun little painting project to fill that little space. I think it turned out cute, and now I have two extra canvases to play with. Don’t get too excited—very limited art skills over here.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Chalkboard Flower Pots

My little old lady flowerpot cozy project made me a  antsy for spring. Really antsy. And having a little greenery in my kitchen made me want a lot more greenery in there. So I decided to try my hand at growing some herbs. I fully expect to fail miserably in this endeavor. I cannot keep plants alive (or, incidentally, fish, as we discovered recently when Forrest’s 2 pet fish named ‘Shishie’ and ‘Shishie’ only survived a whopping 2 weeks), but darn it, I’m going to try. I love the idea of snipping fresh herbs right off my windowsill while I’m cooking dinner, so I’m giving it a go. And since my windowsill gets a lot of light and attention and I end up staring at it every night while I wash dishes, I tried to make the pots a little more pleasant, too.

DIY Chalkboard Herb Pots

I generally go for very low-effort home décor-ish type projects, and this one is certainly no exception. I just picked up a few clay small clay flowerpots and a can of chalkboard spray paint at the Walmarts.

How to make chalkboard flower pots

Then gave them 2 coats of the chalkboard paint.

Chalkboard paint on flowerpots

The can said to let the paint dry a full 24 hours before writing on it. Hm. I made it, like, 16 hours. Close enough. You’re supposed to completely cover the paint in chalk the first time, so go crazy.

Making DIY chalkboard flower pots

Then wipe ‘em clean and label your pots! I planted mint, basil, and cilantro.

DIY Chalkboard Herb Pots

And I’m pleased to say the cilantro is growing! No signs of life from the mint and only the teensiest of sprouts that haven’t gotten any taller in the past week from the basil pot, but hey. 1 out of 3 isn’t bad. I’ll take it.

How to make chalkboard herb pots

I think those pots are a little cuter than your standard clay pot, and I can re-label them when my plants inevitably die and need to be replaced. A little bit of cute greenery on my windowsill. I like it.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

5 Crochet Blanket Patterns I Love

I have a problem, and since it’s common knowledge that the first step to recovery is admitting the problem, here we go: *deep breath* I’m addicted to crocheting blankets.

This is probably not big news for you since I thrust them in your face every time I finish one and try to talk you into buying them. And frankly, it’s not an addiction I feel particularly compelled to fix, so there. I’ll just carry on. (Is denial a step in the recovery process?)

I’ve been wanting to make a throw blanket to toss on my living room couch (you can see this room HERE). This probably shouldn’t be all that big of a decision, but since I know it’ll take weeks or months to finish, I’d hate to put all that work into something and end up feeling anything less than wild passionate love toward it.

blue + green living room

While I figure out what exactly I want to make, I’ve had my gray + white zig zag blanket on the couch. I love that blanket, and I do think it fits in pretty nicely, but it isn’t really big enough for the sofa (although I think it would be a great size for a chair), and I’m thinking zig zag blanket next to zig zag pillows might be a little much. So I thought I’d share some crochet blanket patterns I’ve been eyeing. I’m leaning towards a pattern that I can make in a solid color, but that has lots of great texture.

1. Summer Lace Afghan

Summer Lace Afghan free crochet pattern

This is currently the leader of the pack in my search for the perfect throw blanket. I love all the texture, I love that it looks comfy and cozy for winter but airy enough for spring and summer use, and I think it would fit in nicely in my living room. I love browsing the crochet tags on Instagram for inspiration, and I wish I could remember whose version of this blanket I saw there. It was amazing, and I’m glad it pushed me to look up the pattern (which is free, by the way—bonus!).

2. Chunky Cables Throw

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a blanket before that made me more excited than this one at the thought of snuggling up with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate. (On second thought: keep your hot chocolate as far as possible from this gorgeous thing. I can only imagine the conniption I would have if someone spilled their hot cocoa all over it.) I think it’s bulkier than what I’m going for (I’d like a year-round, lighter-weight afghan), but would be so perfect and so homey and cozy during the fall and winter.

3. Zig Zag Afghan

Lion Brand Zig Zag Afghan

This one is definitely not right for my room, but isn’t it cool? I love the sort of tribal look, and the colors they used are perfect. I’m not sure where it could fit in in my house . . . but I keep coming back to it anyway. Such a neat look.

4. One Skein Throw

I love the lightweight look of this one, and I bet it would be a breeze to work on and come together quickly.  Although I’m having a bit of trouble believing you could really get a decent-sized throw out of just one skein . . . maybe a baby blanket, but a throw? I don’t know. Somebody try it out and change my doubting ways.

5. Spider and Cobwebs Throw

Spiders and Cobwebs crochet blanket

Although I’m having trouble getting over the horrific name of this blanket—not to mention the cheeseballs with a side of extra cheese photo—I have to admit that I actually do like this pattern. Breezy and airy with lots of great texture. I think it would be lovely in just about any color.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Living Room Tour + Gallery Wall Tips

Remember how 6ish months ago, we bought our first home? And although it had great ‘bones’ and tons of potential, it was a bit of a mess when we moved in? (If you’d like, you can revisit the ‘before’ tour HERE.) Certainly not terrible, not much demolition involved, but very bland, very boring, very neglected and abused by previous owners, and very dirty and disgusting.

Well, we’ve worked hard, as I’m sure I’ve made abundantly clear by my near-constant complaining about it, but we really got burned out a few months in and have mostly taken the winter off from home renovations. And although I’ve had all sorts of great intentions to post in-progress and after pictures, there is no after in sight, not to mention that it’s rarely to never clean enough for an unembarrassing in-progress picture.

But I figured I’d put on my big girl panties and tidy up one room today so I could start a proper tour. (I’d like you to know that besides the typical household/toddler clutter, I found two cars, one firetruck, and one Christmas countdown block hidden in the couch. Like, wedged into cushions and under pillows. My son is a scavenger and a packrat and displays many early hoarder warning signs.) To start out my house tour, I picked the room that is seen the most by outsiders anyway and is thusly the most finished room in the house. Gotta impress the neighbors, duh.

Blue + Green Living Room by maybe matilda

I wanted to keep this room kind of soft and subtle, but still welcoming and cozy. So hopefully the above picture made you think, “My, that room is soft and subtle, but I’m really getting some welcoming and cozy vibes.”

The rug makes the occasional appearance in Instagram pictures, and I almost always get a question about it. You can find it HERE on Overstock. It is actually an outdoor rug, which I was a little worried about—would it feel scratchy or uncomfortable or plasticky or something? But no, I’ve been very happy with it. It seems that outdoor rugs are much more affordable than most indoor ones, but it’s plenty soft and comfortable for bare feet inside. It definitely isn’t fluffy like some indoor rugs—it’s a tight, dense weave—but I have zero complaints and wouldn’t hesitate to buy it again.

I sewed the pillows on the couch and chairs, and just yesterday picked up two new pillows for under $10 each at Ross to toss on the window seat.

Cozy Windowseat

And although no one ever sits and reads there, I made sure to set a book out to make sure you picture me serenely reading and pondering while snow falls gently outside, maybe sipping hot cocoa with a dog sleeping at my feet. This has never happened. But it makes for a nice mental scene, doesn’t it?

And as long as it’s clean and straightened up in here, I really enjoy the view as I come down the stairs in the morning. I love the blue and green accents, and I love how they look against the silvery wall color. I like how the natural accents (like the wicker chairs and burlap lampshades and twiggy vignette on the side table) keep it looking kind of cozy and homey and comfortable.

Blue, Green, Gray living room

Now, I always seem to get comments from friends and visitors on the photo gallery wall (which secretly thrills me to no end, because I feel like a really good gallery wall can be kind of hard to achieve). So, I’ll give you a few details on it.

Photo Gallery Wall by maybe matilda

I spent lots of time looking up and comparing different gallery walls, and here’s what I decided my preferences are:

1. I like gallery walls to be more or less symmetrical. Not perfect, and not a grid, but I do like them to have a sense of order and shape and symmetry. (For instance, on mine, it is roughly rectangular instead of a big frame blob; the edges are more or less straight/grid-like; and the frames meet and connect pretty well without any big gaps or spaces between, or random frame outliers that don’t fit in and make sense with the overall shape.)

2. I like the frames to be close together. I see a lot of gallery walls with bigger spaces between the frames—personally, I think anything more than, say, 3 inches makes it look kind of haphazard and unplanned.

3. I like the pictures to have a theme—same/similar frames, same/similar photo coloring (like all black and white shots, or all prints from the same photo session, or at least photos with similar colors/editing). I purposely planned our outfits in these pictures to match the décor, and tossed in coordinating scrapbook papers in two frames for a little subtle variety and texture.

4. I think they should be hung low on the wall. A decorating pet peeve of mine is when art/photos/mirrors/etc. are hung too high on a wall. Who wants to have to crane their neck and tip their head back to look at your family pictures? Have you ever been in a house with photos or art hung just a few inches from the ceiling? I have, and I’ve got to say, I think that looks a bit silly. Art has no business being almost at the roofline. According to my interior designer mom, wall art should be hung at eye level.

Here is my gallery wall setup:

Photo Gallery Wall Setup by maybe matilda

All the frames are Virserum frames from Ikea—I purchased them months ago, so I could be remembering wrong, but I think that I spent something like $70 for all of the frames. You really can’t beat Ikea’s frame prices.

Now, just for before and after purposes, and because it makes me so happy to know that we made this house not look like this anymore, here’s the living room when we moved in:

living room before

Very bland, very boring, very carpeted (do you see the windowseat on the far left? Even it was carpeted!), and, although this photo is not a scratch-n-sniff so you’ll just have to take my word for it, very stinky. I think our changes are a definite improvement. And check out the view through the front door when we bought the house:

entry view before

Compared to the view from the front door today:

Bright and cozy entryway

Much better.

For other home progress posts, you can check out the kitchen renovation and the staircase makeover. And I’ll work on getting the rest of the house in presentable condition.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

A Subtle Valentine’s Display

I have been informed by a certain spouse that it is too early for Valentine’s Day décor to be put up. But I’ve also been informed by said spouse that I shouldn’t let my son play with Barbies and walk around in my heels, and that soup doesn’t count as a meal, and that getting into a tickle fight with a toddler doesn’t count as daily exercise, and I haven’t paid any attention to those gentle heedings, so I’m not going to start now.

My little table in my entry room looked so boring after I took down my Christmas décor. I left it empty for maybe 4 days before I couldn’t take it anymore and started to put together a little Valentine’s display. I loved the sort of natural, woodsy feel of my Christmas vignette, so I used that as inspiration for a simple, subtle Valentine’s look.

Neutral, Rustic Valentine's Display by Maybe Matilda

This may be obvious by the direction I took for this very neutral display, but I am not insane about the traditional Valentine’s look . . . the pink and red, the glitter, the sappy hearts . . . don’t get me wrong, it’s fun and zesty, but I’m not sure it’s the sort of fun and zesty I could look at every day for a month leading up to a holiday and still be happy about living with. So I took a very understated route instead.

I left the book page garland and coffee filter wreath up from the Christmas display—I really like them over that window. They may become permanent fixtures. The little owl Scentsy warmer seems to have also become a permanent piece on this table for two reasons: so far, it has always fit into my table displays, and it is also (so far) out of the reach of little fingers.

Rustic 'love' Valentine display by Maybe Matilda

I made the little ‘love’ letters and am rather pleased with them. But do I like the look of the wreath-y ‘o’ in ‘love’ right there next to the big ‘o’ that is the coffee filter wreath, like a stinky little copycat? No. No I do not. But does it bug me enough to go back to the store to buy another letter, get out all the paints and supplies I used to dress them up, and replace it with a painted ‘o’? No sir. Regardless, there will be a tutorial for the excruciatingly difficult job of painting and faux-distressing those letters next week. Prep yo.

I tossed in a vase full of sticks gathered from the backyard and crocheted some little heart ornaments to hang from the branches. I worried that the crocheted hearts would be cheesy, but I actually really like them. They add another touch of rustic-y homespun coziness. On Monday, I’ll have a step-by-step photo tutorial to help you make these little hearts. I think they’re so cute and fun, and they’re so quick and simple to make. So if you’re a little rusty on the ol’ crochet skills or are just starting out, it should be enough to ease you in with a speedy little Valentine’s project.

Crocheted heart ornaments on Valentine's 'tree'

And as you may know, I have developed a weird lampshade embellishment disorder. I don’t know why I feel the need to accessorize a lampshade, which kinda, if you think about it, already is an accessory to the lamp, which is an accessory to the room, so I’m accessorizing to the third degree here. But now that I did it once, it feels too naked without something, so here we are.

Crocheted heart on lampshade

One more little crochet heart to tie in with the branches on the other end of the table. I was going to use my fancypants removable lampshade accessory trick to attach it, but I popped it onto the lampshade to see if I liked it, and it stuck on its own. Very thoughtful of you, Mr. Heart. Will you be my Valentine?

So there you go. My neutral, understated, not very Valentinesy Valentine’s display. I like it, and I especially like that it’s not so bright and loud that I’ll get tired of looking at it. What can I say, I’m a boring, beige sort of person.

Rustic Neutral Valentine Display by Maybe Matilda

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