Saturday, August 1, 2015

Joyful Details

      Once in a while God shows me His great and mighty things. Okay, more than once in a while. He shows me His great and mighties every single moment of every single day. I just don't always catch them. Instead, my spirit drifts to the ever fleeting "ooh, shiny" moments from pieces of tin that just happen to catch the sunlight. But when looked at directly, the tin turns out to be cruddy pieces of scrap metal. And I wonder, what did I miss while I was looking the other way?
      Lately I've been trying to pay closer attention to God and the awesomeness of who He is as my Father and the Creator of all. His hand is in everything. People always say, "the devil is in the details." I refuse to believe that the enemy is more present than the omniscient Alpha and Omega. Satan can't be in more than one place at once. Therefore, he can't be in the details. Only Father is in the details.
      Because my God knows my heart even better than I do, He knows its many details, the intricacies and mechanics of how it functions physically and spiritually. In the post about our miracle house I mentioned the little odds and ends God had strategically placed throughout our home. For example, I've always wanted a chandelier. I don't have a reason or a purpose for a chandelier. They're fancy and honestly their looks are for vanity and show. But I've always wanted one, just for me. They sparkle. They're elegant. They remind me of the turn of the 20th century and they carry a certain old world charm. When we moved into our house, God had given me that silly piece of old world extravagance in the form of a small chandelier with hanging crystals and flame-shaped bulbs, directly in my closet, just for me. Nothing I desire, no matter how small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things it may be, is too small a matter for God.
      I remember seeing my closet chandelier for the first time and thinking to God, You did that, didn't You. . . just for me? I could feel Him smiling and nodding over me. Because I love you, child. It's that simple. 
      Just like earthly parents want to give their babies the world on a string, our Father wants (with greater zeal) to give us the heart of that world on a string. Sparklies and all. Joy and all.
My new replacement pitcher I found for $4.99. 
      I've continued to pray over this house and God continues to fill it. No glory can go to anyone but HIM. Earlier this week I found another nightstand, the last one I needed for the guest rooms. It's a different structure than that with which I'm familiar; on one end it bears what looks to be a magazine rack, but one of the spindles is broken. I can wood glue and putty it back together, and I plan to paint the table to fit the decor. I bought it at a local thrift dive for $10! I also found a replacement pitcher for my grandmother's antique wash basin in our yellow guest room; the last one broke during the move and I was heartbroken. Every pitcher I find is $30 and up. But I found a perfect one at that same thrift shop for $4.99 and I snatched it!
       I'm still searching for two lamp shades, but as soon as I find them I'll be ready to cover them and they'll be set for use in the guestrooms. I also have two old screen doors that I'm turning into a headboard. And Jordan has been searching for an office chair for his desk for a little over a week, but not fervently. However, God is in the details...      
      While I was thrifting on Monday, goofing off really, Lilli and I stopped by Goodwill to browse. Afterall, that is my favorite place.

And there it was.

Top shelving of the China cabinet/hutch. 

Bottom storage of  China cabinet/hutch. 

      As if light had surrounded it and God's voice was speaking over it backed by a choir of symphonic angels, the China cabinet I had very humbly asked God for was sitting in the middle of the furniture section, in two pieces. Talk about a glorious unfolding! Of course it caught my eye and I walked, ever so gently, afraid it would disappear into thin air, and scanned the cabinet. Glass doors and shelving, plenty of storage space and drawers, mounted lights with switches and hidden plugs, and a sturdy build. This thing was perfect. With a little tweaking, I could bring its dated look back to life. The price? $129.99!
      I immediately called Jordan to tell him about my treasure find. We talked it over, but Lilli was having to get glasses that day and we try to be good stewards of every penny. Still, how were this cabinet and its low price not smart? Then I saw the sign: THIS SATURDAY ONLY: 50% OFF OF EVERYTHING IN THE STORE!
      So I prayed. I literally laid my hands on this cabinet and prayed for God to give it to me, but I also prayed for His will.
      And I waited. I went back to the Goodwill every single day this week checking for my cabinet. And every single day it remained in its place. On Friday I called to make sure it was still there, and it was. My plan was to get up early on Saturday morning because the store opens at 8am.
      I hardly slept the night before. I had bad dreams; I was hot and uncomfortable, then I got too cold. My alarm would sound off in my head. At first light I awoke with a jolt, thinking I'd missed my 6am reminder, but I hadn't. It was 5:30, not yet time to get up and greet the day. I ended up sleeping until 6:30 because I didn't want to fool with hair and makeup, too tired from the preceding restless night.
      We made it by 7am, not a soul in the lot but Lilli's and mine. And we waited. 'Round about 7:15 a truck packed with a mom and her two kids pulled up; then walked straight to the door and waited. Not to be outdone, and in fear my China cabinet would be gone, I took my own child and waited at the opposite door. Slowly the crowds started building. I met an older friendly couple and was able to to share a very brief story of our house and how God was filling our rooms, then I told them about the cabinet. Others were listening and everyone seemed intrigued. By the time GW's employees unlocked the doors and let us in, the couple ushered Lilli and me through and cheered as Lilli ran to the cabinet and blissfully tore the tag from it.
      It was ours. 
The sheer joy I felt at this gift I knew was straight from God was immensely overwhelming. What a blessing from Him!    
The sweet couple from outside came up to me excitedly: "Did you get it?" the woman asked in her bubbly little voice.
       "I did!" I squealed. And with the pride of a mother and sincerity of a Sunday school teacher she said, "Praise Jesus!!!" Then she hugged me. No, she squeezed me! It was a great moment, hugging this once stranger, sister in Christ, and praising our Father together, all over a China cabinet. I later properly introduced myself and thanked her for celebrating with us; her name was Joy and her husband's name was Hank. That was no coincidence. Again, God is in the details. I immediately responded to her introduction with, "The Joy of the Lord!" And it was so joyful. . . how appropriate. Yet another detail noticed and given by the Lord. This is where His glory fills the story. The China cabinet is wonderful, and all glory goes to God for it. But the ultimate glorious celebration is in the praising that occurs after, in spite of what happens during, when God brings His babies together in the middle of a Goodwill, and His praise and adoration takes place, right then and there. What an honor to call Him mine!
      I decided to make a quick run through of the store; at minute's end I found an office chair for Jordan just like he'd been searching for! It was $39.99. Then I found the entire collection of The Chronicles of Narnia for $1.99, and one other book, also $1.99.

Jo's fabulous new office chair, only $20 after 1st Saturday discount! 

SO excited about my growing collection of classics, canonical works, and soon-to-be literary greats! $.99 each after discount! 
      I made my way up to pay for my loot. After the 50% discount was put into place, the treasures were as follows:
      China cabinet extraordinaire: $65.00
      Office chair fantastico: $20.00
      Narnia for nerds: $.99
      Folks, I know this cabinet and chair are both from God. One doesn't find such a blessing by coincidence. He's still filling our rooms, but in the process He's also filling our hearts. With every move He makes in our lives He shows us something new and fresh, and they all connect to the betterment of us individually, of our ministry, and ultimately of His kingdom. I would never have found this cabinet had it not been for Him. I would never have gotten it for the price I did had it not been for Him. And what a story behind it all! Nothing but God's glory can be found in these little miracles. While yes, it's an earthly object that I can't take with me, it's the little things that God notices that make my heart soar, that fill me with His joy. If His attention for my tiny life details is that great, how much more is His attention in the larger areas of my life? With that, if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31) The minute problems of this life are nothing compared to the riches of His glory and the peace in His heart, all for me. And here, my attention is caught by God's little details. . . His breeze on a hot day, His words in the mouths of little children, His way with me. . .  God is in the details.
   
*Stay tuned for a DIY of the China Cabinet. Here's a hint: Annie Sloane and I are about to begin a beautiful relationship. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

DIY #4: American Girls Sleeping Bag Tutorial

This lovely camping and sleepover accessory is what we're about to make!
      We are an American Girl family. We love the dolls, the books, the accessories, all of it. Because of their high-but-worth-it prices, Lilli is gifted one AG Doll per year, either by us or a family member, for birthday or Christmas. Over the past few years, Lilli has built up a collection of four dolls, a handful of mini-dolls, and a couple of accessory sets given to her by friends of the family. Most of the dolls' clothes come from my mother; she orders them from Ebay and while they may not be AG brand, they are so adorable, fashionable, and uber cheap.
      If any of you are familiar with American Girl, you know full well that they, however, aren't cheap. Each doll purchased comes with her personal story book and a few personal accessories that represent her and her era for roughly $120 in the store before tax. However, each doll also has what is known as her own "world." In this world you can purchase other outfits, furniture sets, and books. In some cases you can purchase matching pajamas for your daughter to share with her doll. It sounds corny, but it's really kind of cute seeing your child dressed for bed in pajamas from the turn of the 20th century. Many of these sets, accessories, and clothes are crazy-high in price. Like I said, we do one doll a year; I can't afford to purchase new furniture for my own house, let alone for a doll! So what do we do? Like any thrifter, DIYer, and American mommy extraordinaire, I improvise.
      Lilli is now home from her unplanned, month-long stay with the grandparents, aunts, and uncles, so I thought we could do something different and fun to fill up the last three weeks before school starts. Yesterday we decided to make an American Girl sleeping bag. If you're up for an easy, frugal, no-sew, and kid-friendly activity, follow the below tutorial. You'll make memories with your girls and play while you create! Grab your glue, girls, and let's go have some American Girl Doll fun! 


MATERIALS:  
  • 1/2yd x 1/2yd of cotton material (design of choice)*
    Ribbon was an afterthought, therefore, it isn't pictured. 
  • 1/2yd x 1/2yd of softer material (fleece, flannel, micro-fleece, etc.)*
  • fabric glue  
  • 2 pieces of ribbon @ 12" long each (color of choice)
  • iron and ironing board
  • ruler or tape measure 
  • pencil
  • scissors
*Choose whatever fabric your child wants, and you don't have to use two different types. We went for the traditional cotton material in Mint Moroccan for the outside of the sleeping bag, and a softer , bubble micro fleece for the inside. Using a fleece material for the inside of the bag not only gives it that "realistic" look, it also makes the bag a little fluffier so there's no need to fool with buying stuffing or batting to thicken it up, unless you just want to go that route either way. Remember to check my thrift shopping and DIY money-saving tips post! 

As always, please READ EACH STEP THOROUGHLY BEFORE DIVING IN!

1. MEASURE/CUT MATERIAL: While your hobby store will cut for you the requested amount of fabric, most fabric comes doubled, so you'll need to cut your 1/2yd x 1/2yd when you get home. Make sure BOTH materials are the same size; line them up to match them, one on top of the other. (You're going to be attaching them anyway. . . but not yet, so hold your horses.)

Notice my gorgeous assistant! 
She got a little bored after this and called it quits, but only because it took longer due to the tutorial aspect. In all honesty, any kid her age could probably do this alone just by following directions or by watching mom and dad. 
2. INSIDE OUT: Lay your two fabric pieces one on top of the other; make sure the INSIDE of both pieces are facing OUT toward you so that the right side (or outside) of each piece is facing inward toward its opposing piece. 
That's not dirt, it's gray fuzz from the micro fleece. 

3. FABRIC GLUE: Glue your edges between the two fabrics. 
  • Glue about 1/2" from edge of material. The glue spreads when material is pressed together, so don't be afraid that there won't be enough. 
  • IMPORTANT!! ONLY glue together the following 3 edges: right side, left side, and top. Leave the bottom edge open for reversal and ribbon purposes. 
  • Allow to dry for 30 minutes or so depending on humidity. It won't be dry enough to play with just yet, but it should be dry enough to continue your project. Use your judgment; if your edges are still slipping with the glue, let it rest a little longer and try again later. 

No sense in using a brush or spatula. Use the nozzle!
THREE edges are glued, and the fourth is left open. 

4. OUTSIDE IN: Flip your bag right side out. Push your corners in place if needed. Y'all know how I love pretty seams. This is the result of gluing inside out: gorgeous seams! 

Seams! Seams! More seams! I have no idea why I love making seams. 

5. BOTTOM CORNERS AND IRON:  The open edge of your bag is the one we'll be working with now. Position your bag flat on your ironing board with the focus on one edge. Fold your fleece material corner and your parallel cotton corner inward as if you were wrapping a present's corners. Iron into place. Now fold the edges of both pieces of material inward and iron. Glue ONLY the corners that you folded in. (You can also glue in the folds you ironed if you prefer. I did simply because it leaves no wiggle room. This will make the next glue step ten times easier. 

Pretty present corners (LEFT)

Pretty present corners (RIGHT)

Fold fleece inward. 

Fold cotton inward.

Iron in place. 

6. RIBBON: Since your bag is dry, fold it in half with the open edge toward you if it isn't already. Now find the middle section of the folded half and lightly mark it inside of the edge you just ironed with your pencil; flip and mark the other side as well. Unfold your bag and lay flat. You should have two marks: one of the left and one on the right. (I made this more difficult on myself than it should've been, hence the lack of marks in the photos.) Take one ribbon and insert it in the space between your two fabrics (as seen below) where the LEFT mark is. Glue ribbon between the two fabrics. Now do the right side. 
Go ahead and glue to the top fabric as well as the bottom to either side of your ribbon. Security is key!

Both ribbons in place BEFORE seams are glued. 

7. GLUE EDGES: Now go back and glue the final open edge on either side and in between your ribbons. Allow glue to dry for about 30 minutes. 

After ribbons and final edge are completed: the purpose of the ribbons will be to tie the bag together, just like a real sleeping bag! 

8. GLUE BAG: Once your bag has dried, fold it in half and line it up neatly until it looks like a sleeping bag. Glue the bottom edge and two corners together. Again, keep your glue about 1/2" from edge as glue does spread. You can always go back and fill in any holes. Now fold your top layer's outer corner over to create a desired stopping point for easy entry and removal of doll. Glue side to this point. Allow glue to dry overnight before play. 


I stopped my glue track a  little past the halfway point, just to make it look more realistic.

Finished product.*
(Scroll down for pillow tutorial.)
 

Tied up like a little fluffy scroll! 



Miss Caroline (in Julie's pajamas) with her pillow and sleeping bag, ready for a sleepover! 

Lilli said Caroline needed her bunny, so Bunny is making a cameo. 

Sweet dreams, American Girl! 

      In the words of Scuttle: "Voyolee!!!" Your kid is the proud new owner of an American Girl Doll sleeping bag!  
      You're all done! I hope you've enjoyed making your American Girl sleeping bag. Note that this bag will fit any AG doll or 18" doll. I know many readers are wondering, "Wait, is that a matching pillow?" Yes, it is. I just didn't document it in photos. However, until I do another one, I'll post verbal instructions* below, and next time I will post photos and link a new post for everyone. Until then, enjoy playing and crafting with your babies and as always, enjoy! 


* PILLOW: Making a stuffed pillow is much like how we made the sleeping bag, only this time we'll stuff our "pillow case" and glue up the ends. 
  • Use leftover material for a matching pillow! 
  • Take two pieces of your material, either the same or different, and lay flat together, inside out. (See STEP 2 for sleeping bag) 
  • Measure at 12" by 6"-8". 
  • Cut to meet dimensions and match. 
  • Glue two longest edges and one end edge, leaving the third edge open for stuffing. (See STEP 3 for sleeping bag) Allow to dry. 
  • Stuff your now "pillow case" with stuffing; spread until desired shape. 
  • Fold in corners and edges, iron if needed. (See STEP 5 of sleeping bag)
  • Glue last open end together and allow to dry thoroughly before moving on to next step. 
  • Reposition stuffing inside, molding your pillow into place. 




Friday, July 17, 2015

DIY #3: Shepherd Lamp Part 2 (Making A Lamp Shade)

      Sometimes I find lamps that are so stinkin' cute, but their shades are awful. I'd seen many different tutorials online dealing with the creations of new lamp shades. Some people painted their old shades, others reconfigured their entire shade, and some got over-the-top creative with popsicle sticks and grass. But I wanted something traditional, yet unique.
      As I said in the previous post, this lamp will be added to our music room/library. It coordinates with that fabulous brass lamp that I painted cherry red. Our family has a sort of theme song, per se as of late: "Shepherd" by Bethel Worship. We identify too closely with its message and lyrics, and we're pretty sure God sent it to us for this season in our lives. Even when we move on to the next season, we know that this song and this precious time it represents will remain in our hearts forever; what a blessing it all has been! In creating this shade I thought of how appropriate and symbolic to have these particular song lyrics on a light.
      Before we get started, take a look at your nearby lampshade. The inner layer (unless it's cloth) is a type of malleable plastic called styrene. I knew I'd be making a new shade to go with my "new" red-brass lamp, but pulling all of the necessary parts together was getting a tad pricey. I looked at both Lowe's and Home Depot for styrene, but they only carried the industrial strength styrene used in windows and doors. Pinterest directed me to a website that sold it, but my lamp would end up being worth about $50 in the end, and I wasn't up for throwing that kind of money into it. Again, this is where creativity kicks into gear. "Instead of styrene," I thought, "let's try poster board." At .60 a sheet, one can never go wrong with school grade poster board. Here's how I constructed a lamp shade almost from the ground up.

MATERIALS: 
  • Any leftover wire from the previous shade's skeleton
  • 2 poster boards (for 12" shade)
  • hot glue/glue gun
  • spray adhesive
  • 1 yd plain colored canvas material*
  • Sharpie (regular point)*
  • 2 embroidery hoops @ 12" ea
  • 1 wire hanger 
  • scissors 
  • tape measure and ruler
  • wire cutters/pliers
*You can choose whatever fabric you want; for this particular shade, I needed something hefty and thick because I'd be writing directly onto it. If you can, cut a small swatch and test it to make sure it isn't going to move with the marker tip, that it won't bleed and spread, and that you can actually see the ink. There is no call for a Sharpie unless you plan to write on your shade. 

  1. MEASURE/MARK: Everything. Yes. EVERYTHING. I measured my poster, not just for width but for length. Width = diameter of your embroidery hoop or what will be your shade. Length = how long your shade will be. You'll want to make sure your shade is just right: too long and you won't be able to reach your on/off switch; too short and you'll be able to see the innards of the shade. After you measure, trace a cutting line, the cut your poster accordingly. Because I used a 12" hoop, I ran out of poster board width-wise. No problem: just use another poster, or any leftovers, for the remaining dimensions, and glue them together end-to-end. You should end up with one long piece of poster board. 


    Don't forget to trace a guide line for the length of your shade. If you don't, when you roll your shade together the edges will not meet appropriately and your shade simply won't come together . . . like the below photo. 
  2. So sad . . . 

  3. FABRIC: Measure and cut your fabric to match your long poster piece.** IMPORTANT: Leave about 1/2 to 1 inch of fabric overhanging your board. You'll need this later when attaching your hoops!  
  4. Line your fabric evenly over your poster piece and secure it with a paperweight of some kind. 
  5. SPRAY ADHESIVE: Spray 3-4 inches of poster lengthwise at a time, and gently but firmly press and smooth your fabric into place. Just a note: this stuff is STICKY and it dries FAST.  Make sure there are NO air bubbles or loose fabric. As tricky as this part may sound, it was actually one of the easiest steps. Keep in mind that patience is key. 

    Notice the overhanging fabric around the edges. 
  6. HOT GLUE: See the TWO ends of your poster that will come together to form your shade; fold their overhanging fabric and hot glue into place. This will 1. give you a smooth finish to your shade and 2. prepare you for how far over to write your lyrics, poem, Bible verse, etc. 
    Again, take note of the excess fabric around the edges. 
  7. SHARPIE: Unless you never make mistakes, I suggest trying your handwriting skills on the nearby poster/fabric scraps. I wrote out the verse and chorus of my song lyrics that I used to see how much space I'd be utilizing and how big to make my font. Once these details are ciphered, begin writing on your canvas. As you can see below, I had an overabundance of remaining space that I didn't anticipate; I also didn't like how structured the shade was looking. It was was boring and not artsy enough for me at all. Lilli to the rescue! Lilli suggested I fill the empty spaces with my "doodles." You can do whatever you want should you have a blank space. Be creative, or if you like the structured look, don't do anything at all. Lack of "doodles" doesn't equal lack of creativity. 
    If your eyesight is fabulous, please ignore the grammar faux pas/seriously huge brain fart that I will address later.
  8. EMBROIDERY HOOPS: (Three steps)  Separate hoops:
     
                                                                                Unscrew the embroidery screws and, if purchased from Hobby Lobby, remove label and tape. Now separate. You will only need the inside hoops; I can't figure out how to remove the screws from the outside hoop without splitting the wood, so I just bought two hoops and used the inside hoop that is one solid piece of wood. Plus, I purchased them during a Hobby Lobby 50% off sale, so they only cost about a dollar each. However, if anyone knows how to remedy that screw issue, please share! You will be saving my fellow crafters and me an extra dollar! Hot glue again: (Sorry I don't have photos for the next couple of steps; my phone died and my camera is still packed form the move.) Line up your hoops to the edge of the inside side of your poster board. Remember, you will have overhanging material for this part. Squeeze a 2-3 inch trail of glue directly onto the poster board, starting at the upper and lower corresponding corners of the same end. Roll hoops onto this glued area. Continue gluing like so until you have glued your shade all the way around both hoops. Where both ends meet to form your shade, glue glue them together lengthwise. You will have a gorgeous seam, as seen below in the photo.  
    Overhanging fabric edges: Pull excess fabric edges over embroidery hoop toward the inside of the shade and glue directly onto inside of the hoop. You can do this simultaneously while gluing the hoop to the shade, or you can go back. I recommend going back once you've glued the shade to the hoops due to the concentration it takes to line up those hoops with your shade edges. The last thing you want is a crooked shade. FINALLY! Your shade can now stand on its own.
    Not perfect, but not too shabby for my very first homemade lampshade. In the process I learned to make my edges a little longer so as to completely cover the embroidery hoops. 
  9. WIRE HANGER/WIRE CUTTERS: Now that you have your shade assembled, you'll need to cut three pieces of wire from your hanger, all the same length. This part is a little tricky: one would assume 6" would be all the wire needed. However, I used the remaining skeleton stand from my lamp which will support the shade. These can vary in width which will also cause wire to vary in length from shade to shade. My wire pieces ended up being a little over 7" inches a piece. Measure how much you'll need just from skeleton to shade, but be sure to add an inch or two. You will need this to secure your wire!  
    These photos were taken out of sheer excitement before I went back and adjusted my wires so they look neater and tighter, and aren't quite as visible.  These two photos are also great examples of why you want to leave excess fabric around your poster. I do have a trick to remedy where I went a little "wrong" on my first shade: create your own cord from leftover material and glue it around the inside of the shade over the wood. I'll detail this in a later post. 
  10. PLIERS: Wrap one end of your wire around the skeleton to fasten it tightly into place, making sure its other end meets with your hoop. You'll want to be certain that there is a slight resistance between the hoop and the wire's end to ensure there is no slippage or your shade will crash and burn. Do these steps with all three wires. 
  11. Straighten your shade: this may require some slight bending and finagling. Go with it. Do whatever you have to do to get that puppy straight! 
  12. HOT GLUE: Add just a smidge of glue between each cut wire tip and the shade to affix the final position. 
And voila! You are the proud new owner of a brand new (wink, wink) lamp! Congratulations, crafter extraordinaire! Now plug it up, flip the switch, and go enjoy a book by the light of your creativity. Here are some 360 degree photos of my fantastic creation and its final placement in my work-in-progress-of-a-music-room-library.

My shade is a prime example of why proofreading is important. Even English majors like myself can get carried away and forget what they're doing. As you'll notice in the "seam" photo above, I was able to correct my mistake with the drawing of some hearts. BOOM. 
Yes, that is the infamous $5.89 Queen Anne table I found at the Goodwill. I'll also be posting its DIY. 
I am absolutely loving how God is pulling this room together! And yes, that is a Shakespeare pillow. He and several other homemade pillow cases will be making their debut shortly as well! 











Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Thrift Shopping and Refurbishing Tips and Tricks

      Everyone is always asking how we find our Goodwill treasures and how I transform them into art without slicing my purse in the process. Aside from the obvious (Jesus), I've learned a few tricks. 


Digging for treasure, argh! 
  1. Always have an open mind. Not everything is going to be beautiful and most of it is from the 80's which only adds to its decor horror. However, when you find those horrendous pieces wrapped in blue and mauve, keep in mind that their outcome will be completely different from anything anyone else owns, unique to you, your family, and your home. 
  2. Be creative. Think outside of the box. It's amazing what one can do with both an open and a creative mind. Allow your imagination to run wild and never sell yourself short. Don't say, "I'm not creative." That's limiting God on how He can use you, which is a trick from the devil. Allow yourself to be inspired by Him. You'll be amazed at what He'll give you!
  3. When you find something, pick it up if you can. Hold it in your hands and visualize what you want it to look like. Look all around it and investigate its parts. Make a plan in your head and be sure you can achieve it.*
  4. Check cords, plugs, screws: the last thing you want is to buy a lamp or other electronic that doesn't even work. Most stores have a nearby outlet for testing; utilize these bad boys! If your find yields as faulty and you're handy enough to fix it, go right ahead and buy it. If you're not electro-savvy, just bypass it. Here's my theory: if you have to spend more to repair it than you do to buy it, it's junk. 
  5. If you're buying furniture check the structure of the piece THOROUGHLY. Also check for bugs as bed bugs go everywhere, friends. If you find a piece with an overabundance of pet fur, you might wanna move on because there will also more than likely be an overabundance of fleas. Pull away cushions and look into backing for mold. And do the sniff test. ALWAYS. DO. THE SNIFF TEST. Sourness or other foul-smelling odors are clues that you do NOT want to purchase and bring something into your home.
  6. Look for SALES! Goodwill has color-coded stickers for every item. Each color represents something different. For detailed explanations of Goodwill's amazing sales, click here. Also, take into account military, senior, and student discounts. Here's the basic run down:  
  • ALL WEEK, EVERY WEEK: 50% off  the price tag "color of the week:
  • MONDAYS: $5 off of every $25 purchase
  • TUESDAYS: 2 Goodwill Rewards points for every $25 spent
  • WEDNESDAYS: .99 for color of the week clothing
  • THURSDAYS: 20% off for seniors!  
  • FRIDAYS: 2 Goodwill Rewards points for every $25 spent
  • 1st SATURDAY OF EVERY MONTH: 50% off of EVERYTHING in the store!!
  • SUNDAYS: .99 for color of the week clothing
Saving your booty. . . pirate's booty, that is! So you've found some great, cheap treasures that you want to beautify: FABULOUS! But you shouldn't have to break the bank to do it. You've been a good steward in purchasing your loot; now reinforce that good stewardship in making it gorgeous.

  1. RESEARCH: Pinterest has loads of blogs and web links that will redirect you to tutorials. However, as mentioned in DIY #2, YouTube can give you an immense amount of videos by professionals. Many times you can collaborate and make your own way; don't get overwhelmed. Just take it all a step at a time. And if you find a tutorial that is over your head, get outta there! There's no point in stressing out over information we don't understand. This is supposed to be fun! For example, I want to reupholster a wingback chair, but I don't sew and I really don't want to rip the fabric from the chair. So I found a YouTube tutorial by a pro; it was TWO HOURS LONG! Heck no! So I kept digging until I found a few that fit my needs and **skill level, and I narrowed it down to only two tutorials, combined them with what I knew I was capable of doing, and voila! 
  2. **Assess your skill level. Folks, you know what you're capable of doing. Don't overshoot like a new calf fresh outta the gate. You'll get hit by a tractor.
  3. *Make a plan: Are you painting? Are you reupholstering? What tools will you need to pull all of this craftiness together? 
  4. Take measurements so you know how much of each tool/product you need. There's no point in buying the whole bakery if you only need a baker's dozen. 
  5. PRICE SHOP! PRICE SHOP! PRICE SHOP! I can't say it enough!!! After you get home with your treasure and you've done the above steps, get online and compare prices. As much as I love Hobby Lobby, it won't always have the best deals. Most of the time it will, but not always. You can check places like JoAnn, Michael's, WalMart, and any other craft dealer you may have access to in your area. I personally go straight to Hobby Lobby, WalMart, and Amazon for all of my craft needs. 
  6. COUPONS! COUPONS! COUPONS! As previously mentioned, I love the Hobby Lobby. I also love their 40% off coupons. However, they only accept one coupon per customer per day. Since the ole HL is just right down the road from me, I literally take a coupon in there every single day and get what I need at 40% off (if it isn't already on sale). It may take me a full 6 days to get everything, but by crackies I won't have to pay full price for it. Another fabulous fact I learned just this week: if you have a 40% off coupon you can use it for other items marked at lower sales. For example: let's say you find a 30% off item. You can used for 40% off coupon for that INSTEAD of settling for the 30%. You. Are. Welcome. 
  7. SALES! SALES! SALES! Watch for sales. HL changes their weekly sales which run from 30%-60% off, and they always carry clearance items which can run up to 75% off. 
  8. Shipping: if you're an Amazon Prime member you can really take advantage of that free shipping. However, if you're not, or another website of your choosing doesn't offer free shipping, forgo internet shopping. 
      Following these simple tips will help you to envision what you want for your house, execute it, and save you money in the process! Above all, LISTEN TO YOUR GUT. Usually that's your spirit of discernment. No joke. Do you think God wants you to get stuck with a lemon? No! He wants the best for you! So ask Him: is this worth it or not? I've often left what I thought were great little prizes only to be directed to something better at a lower price. And you will be amazed at the gorgeous creations you'll have all for affordable prices! 
      If you have any money-saving craft tips, please feel free to comment below! 
In Him,
Brandi 

DIY # 2: Shepherd Lamp (Part 1: Stand)

      Some of the much needed accessories I prayed for in my trek through our house were lamps! Our two guest bedrooms have beds, but no lamps. Yes, there are overhead lights. However, the blue guest room has track lighting.   (. . . I'll just leave this right here . . . ) The lights can be angled to one's liking, but it's a hassle all the way around: it either shines in your eyes or you're in the dark. There isn't much of a happy medium. The other room, the yellow guest room, has a ceiling fan with its lighting. The setup is great but the switch has quite a few buttons, bells, and whistles and it confuses the daylights out of everyone. Most lamps are not going to be floor lamps, so I also prayed for nightstands. Furthermore, I'm book-minded, so I considered that some people are like me and might enjoy an evening read before they hit the pillow. Others, like Jo, may enjoy iPhone time. No matter what my guests' preferences before nodding off for the evening may be, I felt they needed a nightstand or two to accommodate them.
      Over the course of a few months I had seen nightstands and end tables all around the Nashville area, but they were always so pricey, ranging from $30 to higher. I couldn't afford to drop that times 2 for each room. When I prayed through our house I didn't just tackle the furniture, I asked God to provide a way for me to afford it: make it cheap, free, or bless us with the extra cash. In my last post I mentioned Hendersonville's Goodwill store and the novelty it is; God directed my steps right to it.
      It never fails: when I listen to that little voice in my head, you know, the Holy Spirit, He's always right. I was leaving the Hobby Lobby one afternoon when that little voice said check out the Goodwill store, they might have some end tables and lamps. Sure enough when I arrived and walked into that industrial strength smelling store, I spied two glorious end tables for $13.99 a piece in almost mint condition. The next day I went back and found two lamps: a brass one for $10 marked at 50% off, and a ceramic one for $14, also marked at 50% off. I then found a third end table with a replaceable center glass piece. They were all calling my name. Finally, I went back one more time. I found a couple of classic novels in the book section for .50 and, to my surprise, a Queen Anne end table for $5.89. Yes, I used my 10% off student discount on all but the on-sale items. My husband's priceless face and its look of disbelief was enough to reassure I'd struck gold at the local glorified flea market.
      I will be detailing each piece's makeover, but for today's post I'll be concentrating on my $4.99 brass lamp.
      Below is a photo of my brass treasure. You can see the spots and how badly it needs to be polished. I wish I had a photo of the shade that came with it because I'm pretty sure it arrived at the Goodwill by way of a certain Dalorean. But before I could even get out of the parking lot the styrene part of the shade crumbled due to age. I had planned to redo the shade anyway, but it still would've been nice to have a photo of the previous one's demise.
   

      
      Regardless, Google saves the day! Above is a Google photo of a slightly shorter version of my brass lamp's shade. And yes. It was equally as hideous. Just the same, I was able to tear it apart and keep certain pieces for my makeover. We'll get to the shade in a later post. (UPDATE: Check out the Shepherd lamp shade here!) 
      As mentioned earlier, I wasn't happy with the brass stand. I like pops of color; I feel they bring life to my home. My plan was to paint my stand, but how in the world does one paint brass? Of course, I turned to the Pinterest and found several how-tos for painting different surfaces, including brass. If you plan to take on this task allow me to advise you: DO YOUR HOMEWORK! I found some real doozies of DIYs on the web everywhere. In the middle of working on a different project I made a Home Depot run, where I received help from an employee who told me of the Pinterest horror stories that came through to her on an almost daily basis. This sufficiently scared me. My advice? Don't just read the Pinterest articles and blog links you find; read the fine print and ALL directions on of your tools.Check out YouTube where you can find professional resources/videos, many of them from Lowe's, Home Depot, and construction companies. Make sure you're prepared and take plenty of time to complete your projects. Rome wasn't built in a day. Also, don't be afraid to ask for help. If you don't feel secure enough to do something alone, ask your hubby or a friend, even your child if he or she is old enough. My daughter is 11 and she was able to assist me quite a bit, even if it was with something as simple as handing me what I needed. Of course, there's always the grandparent route, as well. As moms and women in general, we tend to think we can do it all. Humble yourself, girl. Ask for some help! Let's get started! 

MATERIALS: 
  • 150 grain or less (fine) sandpaper* $4.68
  • Spray paint primer*
  • Spray paint color of choice $2.39 @Hobby Lobby w/ 40% off coupon
  • Frog tape* $5.29
  • Drop cloth or painter's plastic 
  • Well-ventilated work space
(*see below post for explanation)

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Set up your work space! Make sure you're clear of anything you don't want to get overspray on; remove valuables, don't wear good clothes, and if you're not outside (I recommend going outside, preferably in the yard) please wear a mask to protect your nose and mouth, especially if you have asthma. I used painter's plastic for my space because, well, that's what was in my garage. I don't recommend using it on a windy day, however, as that was a pain in the padded tail. But it did the job, just the same and it saved me money.
  2. Tape off the ends you don't want painted with your Frog tape: the cord, the switch, etc.
  3. Wipe down your stand to rid it of any foreign particles, dirt, or dust.
  4. Use your fine grain sandpaper and sand your stand. Your surface will feel slightly rough, just enough so that you know it'll hold paint. 
  5. Your stand will be covered in sanding dust; use a paper towel or cheese cloth, wet or dry, and dust off that mess! DO NOT attempt to paint over the dust. 
  6. Follow the instructions on your spray paint and spray your lamp in short bursts, moving up and down, back and forth. Coat number will depend on you, just be aware that it is imperative to allow each coat to dry or you will get runs. I actually got a little spray happy and ended up with red drips that looked a lot like Carrie's prom committee had gotten hold of it. With a little water on my finger (okay, saliva), I rubbed it out. When it dried I sprayed a slight burst of paint over it and no one will ever be the wiser unless they read this blog post. 
      You'll find that you may have to hold your stand in all different directions to get to the knooks and crannies that also have to be painted lest your lamp look unfinished. Again, allow yourself time. After I had painted about 2 full coats on my lamp, I brought it up to the screen porch to dry overnight. The next day I noticed a couple of very inconspicuous spots that needed tending; I lightly sprayed over them and let the lamp remain outside for the next couple of days just to give the fumes time to die down. There was no need for spraying the lamp in its entire again. 

      Here is my final product: 
Paint used: Krylon Cherry Red 

      This photo was obviously before I finished the shade and brought the lamp inside for display. My next post will entail our new homemade lampshade, 80s-and-eroding-styrene-free! Stay tuned!


    *While doing my research I had many questions. Below you'll find my Q&A that I hope will help you along your way. 
1. Why 150 grain or sandpaper? What's the significance? 
  • Here, you'll find the explanation for the grain numbers listed on sandpaper. Basically, the number represents how many mineral grains are found in one inch of sandpaper. The more grains present, the finer the sandpaper. 150-180 is right in the middle. I don't want to use sandpaper that is too coarse on my brass or it will leave deep grooves. A fine paper will leave just enough roughness for the paint to adhere to. Which brings me to the next question:
2. Why sand brass? 
  • Brass is pretty slick. When it gets wet, like any other metal, liquids bead, roll, and dry. A fine sanding offers a slightly rougher surface for the paint and allows for better adhesion without changing the texture of the lamp. 
3. Do I have to use a primer? 
  • Most of the tutorials I found, if not all of them, recommended using a primer to prime the selected surface, especially if the surface is originally a darker color than your new chosen color. However, I found that my spray brand, Krylon, already contained a primer, so I didn't fool with priming. 
4. Why Frog tape? Are you getting paid to say this stuff? 
  • First of all, no. I haven't been paid to say anything. If I don't like a brand/product I'll tell you, money or no money, and vice versa. I've used regular off-brand blue painter's tape before . . . And I've regretted it ever since. Having always heard great reviews about Frog tape, I figured I'd give it a shot. FABULOUS!!! Not only did it hold well and remove easily, it kept the paint from leaking through to covered surfaces. Take my advice, spend the extra dollar. 
Hope this answers some of your questions! Thanks for reading and come back soon for the shade installment and the final Shepherd Lamp reveal! 
In Him,
Brandi