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Think Spring!

Hi, friends. It’s the first week of spring, and I don’t know about you but I’m ready for it! I can see my star magnolia bursting through the buds and the other trees in the neighborhood gradually turning green. The promise of spring is growth and awakening – how awesome that nature can remind us of all there is to love in the world.

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3 Ways to Bring Spring Indoors

I am actually one of those people who like winter. I love to see snow softly falling against a backdrop of winter trees. I love to curl up by the fireplace with a good book or movie and watch the snow swirl around outside. But after a few months of it and when “the melt” starts to happen and turns that beautiful white snow into a pile of brown, muddy nastiness, I’m ready to see some leaves push through and turn my world green again. Ideally we would go from pristine snowy landscapes to lush green with floral blooms everywhere! But alas, that won’t happen in Ohio. And so we push through and wait for that first blade of grass or that first bloom of a hyacinth or forsythia to spring to life. And until then we just have to simulate it in our homes and will it into existence just a bit sooner! Today I wanted to share 3 ways to bring some spring into your home and get a jump on the season…

1. Style a sitting area

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Have you ever shopped your own home? Walk around the house, pull pieces from other rooms, choose bright colors and cheerful accessories and spruce up a plain corner. I have a relatively new settee in the front bay window that I haven’t focused on much. I move it out of the way when we put the tree up and once that’s gone, I toss a few pillows I like onto it. But for spring, I pulled some brighter pillows from another room, added a rug from our bedroom, and pulled in a lamp from another room in the house. Et voila! …a cute as a button nook to listen to music and welcome spring.

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2. Channel nature and Easter

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Easter is the main holiday in spring (other than St. Patrick’s Day!) and elements of the holiday can take center stage when thinking spring in our decor. For example, a little Spanish moss draped onto simply stacked grapevine wreaths remind me of a bird’s nest so it’s fun to add some speckled eggs (these are plastic) and why not a green “moss-covered” bird! I wanted my little bird to rest on something higher up and found these candle holders at the craft store for 90% off but definitely not my style. Spray paint to the rescue in a little antique bronze covered them up beautifully and now they look like metal candlesticks! Balancing with a bronze metal church candle holder I bought years ago, Easter can subtly be represented.

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Before and After

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I am not normally a fan of fake greenery but in March in Ohio, fresh is still hard to come by (at least from my yard!). I wanted to keep with the elements of nature, so I used an inexpensive grapevine wreath and attached a ranunculus garland that hints at the real thing. And a few picks in simple glass bottles found at Target can also pass as real until I can find spring in my yard. 🙂 I fashioned a bow out of some gray ribbon I had and wired it to the wreath.
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3. Add some “springy” wall art!

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I’ve been wanting to make this wall art project for awhile – a frame with chicken wire behind a letter. I found an inexpensive unfinished frame, spray painted it white, and attached chicken wire to the back with a staple gun. I used a cardboard letter “K” that I spray painted with my favorite antique bronze color and also stapled it to the chicken wire. And then I wanted flowers. At first I attached some Dollar Store flowers that I thought would give it the pop of color I wanted for spring, but they just looked too cheap (alas, my fake greenery dilemma).

Dollar Store flower fail

Dollar Store flower fail


So I decided to just simplify with a little leftover greenery from my wreath and my sister gave me an idea to add a little bird’s nest here (made from a tiny grapevine wreath and Spanish moss). But what to do for tiny eggs? Aha, Easter candy to the rescue – yes, these are chocolate Cadbury mini eggs! Because I may want to re-purpose this frame in the future, I just threaded the greenery sprig through the chicken wire and rested the nest on top. Hung in my front entry way, I love how it just hints that spring is on its way!
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This wall art idea is so adaptable, I could hang it on my front door. I could prop it on the mantle. I could swap embellishments with something beachy for summer. I could add a ribbon/bow. Let your imagination go and vary it how you like!

And there you have it – three ideas on how to bring spring indoors in your home.

Happy decorating!

Zen and the Art of Calligraphy

I took a class the other day. It was a calligraphy class taught by a most talented person, Farin Blackburn of seaworthi, at a beautiful space – Lovely Paperie and Gifts in Rocky River (with lovely owner, Kate Fortney). I have never thought of myself as someone capable of calligraphy as I have terrible handwriting. The computer has become my haven as I learned that I type faster than I write. But my niece is getting married and invited me to join her at this class to get a taste for the technique.

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What is calligraphy anyways, you might ask? Calligraphy is the design and execution of lettering with a broad tip instrument or brush. The word is derived from the Greek words for ‘beauty’ and ‘writing’, and that’s exactly what it is. You can do calligraphy with fountain type pens with different tips or nibs and wet ink as we did in class or you can use markers especially made with a wider edge to simulate the fountain pen or even a paintbrush.

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I have always loved calligraphy as an art, as a medium, as a form of communication. It serves all design principles equally it seems to me. In the age of computers, it is possible to simulate the look of hand-lettered calligraphy and while that presents a certain amount of ease, there is nothing like custom hand-lettering and the effort and skill it takes to do it well. If you remember, it was a calligraphy class at Stanford that influenced Steve Jobs and Apple computer to bridge the gap and make typography and font options a focus of Macintosh computers – most likely something we would not have today without his influence.

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Calligraphy in its original form is popular as ever, with handwritten invitations sought after by soon to be brides and commercial entities alike. In this era of handmade crafts, a handwritten note is special – a handwritten note or invitation using calligraphy is divine and may be collected or even displayed. As accomplished French calligrapher, Nicolas Ouchenir” says “it’s so classic, it becomes ultra modern”.
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But calligraphy as a skill takes patience and persistence and practice… all of which are a struggle for me. Yet, as I’ve been trying to perfect each stroke of pen to paper, I find myself getting into a space of zen and I can see that this may become a new form of therapy. I have a long way to go in my technique and ability, but I’m glad I tried the class and highly recommend it to others. It was $125 for 2 hours of instruction and materials (plus snacks/drinks) – follow Lovely on Facebook for upcoming schedule of classes.

For more examples of calligraphy styles and techniques that I love, take a look at my Pinterest board on Calligraphy and Typography:


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5 Easy DIY Decor Ideas for Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Decor Collage

I guess you could say I’m not much of an “every day’s a holiday” decorator. I love Thanksgiving and fall – it’s pretty much my decorating season of choice with pumpkins, leaves, ambers and golds and reds and just a whole season dedicated to gratitude – how is that not perfection? And who doesn’t love a little Christmas, too – although the season is a little shorter I still want to decorate with trees, garland, etc. But once January rolls around and the new year starts, I really do not need to celebrate every Hallmark holiday by changing up my decor. However… I just wanted a little sumpin’ sumpin’ for this Valentine’s Day, I guess. After all, the language of love speaks to all of us, doesn’t it? And it’s getting to be a “stay inside kind of winter” in Ohio at least. So what better way to hunker down than to have some fun with design and crafting projects. And the sentiment of Valentine’s Day is a perfect theme to get your DIY on. But I didn’t want to go all red and pink as that just doesn’t fit with my year round color scheme. So I thought I would stick to some neutrals and see what I could create.

1. Kraft paper heart garland – Hey, nobody said these had to be difficult. Seriously, folks. Just cut out some hearts from Kraft or any paper you desire, string them together, hang them up already! I liked the brown of Kraft paper and I ended up printing out my heart outlines and cutting out with scissors. I was able to get 24 out of an 8.5×11 piece of paper. I’m sure there’s a more efficient way to do it, but I found this somehow very therapeutic, ha! I punched holes in the hearts, and I had some red and white baker’s twine so I thought using that to string through them added a subtle red and white touch. I just love a sweet little garland, don’t you?
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2. Cupcake liner heart wreath – I’m sure you’ve seen all the coffee filter wreaths floating around Pinterest and the interwebs. But I realized I had some of the white cupcake liners that go between the foil ones. I never know – are you supposed to use these for cupcakes? Sometimes I do, but it’s definitely harder to peel off the cupcake from these than the foil wrappers so maybe they’re just separators for the foil? At any rate, I thought they might make nice “mini-coffee filters” and I could create a mini heart-shaped wreath or something. I cut out a piece of cardboard in the shape of a heart and scrunched up about 30 white cupcake liners and hot-glued them onto the cardboard. I still have a fresh evergreen wreath on my door, which I love for its simplicity. So I just inserted this heart right in the middle and nestled it in. Et voilà – a little transition wreath from Christmas to Valentine’s. 🙂

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3. X&O letters – Ok, have you noticed how almost every HGTV show uses letters as a design element? If not, then at least you know Joanna Gaines from Fixer Uppers does (love her show, btw!). So I thought a hugs and kisses (aka X&O) might be fun to get on my mantel! But not in the cardboard state of purchase from the craft store – I painted with a little bronze and black spray paint. Did I mention it’s cold in Ohio right now? I painted these in my basement on a bunch of newspaper I laid out. Honestly, I really only like to spray paint in summer but there it is – I did it in winter. And I love them! The ampersand (&) made a nice touch between them and says “Valentine’s Day” without being in your face obvious.
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4. LOVE letter sculpture – Are you familiar with the LOVE art sculpture created by Robert Indiana? He also did a HOPE sculpture in Chicago, that I think is a little better, but I may be partial. 🙂 Anyways, whether you know it or not I’m guessing you’ve seen this iconic work if even on a postage stamp. I love it (wah wah) and wanted to try to recreate it myself with something I could hang in my kitchen. I do like a little turquoise, mint, or duck egg blue so I decided to paint the canvas first with Catalina Mist Krylon paint. And then I used my bronze spray paint on MDF letters this time, that I also got at the craft store. I figured I would hot glue them to the canvas and be all set. However… this is where things went horribly wrong… the letters were too heavy for the canvas. Maybe I could have used different glue, but alas, I peeled them off and decided they might work just fine on their own and I got an extra project – “LOVE letter sculpture”!
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5. LOVE on canvas – So I went back to the drawing board (aka hobby store), and found some much more lightweight wood letters. I decided I wanted a little more pop than the bronze, so I spray painted the letters white. I also broke down and had to add a splash of red to my Valentine decor with a piece of red felt I cutout in the shape of some hearts. I first used E-6000 glue this time to hold the letters on – fail! So I super-glued those suckers and that seemed to stick…literally. And then I just used spray adhesive for the felt hearts. It became the perfect Valentine addition to my kitchen.
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Thanks for joining me on these fun projects. I hope you are inspired to add a little Valentine decor of your own. If you do, let me know what you create!

12 Days of Projects – Day 12 DIY Advent Calendar

And we are here – Day 12 of the 12 Days of Projects – Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I started this venture on November 16 wanting to really commit to getting some craft projects done for myself, gifts for others, or things for selling at my friend’s shop, Moonstruck CLE. Thank you so much for coming along and sharing this mini journey. I have had a great time and got in gear for the holidays. Today I get to relax and eat turkey and pumpkin pie. Tomorrow I can move on to decorating for Christmas!

Today I’m sharing a project I actually made last year but it takes us so perfectly into the Christmas season, a DIY Advent Calendar, I wanted to share. The origins of advent calendars have to do with anticipating Christmas, the largest Christian holiday of the year. The days are Dec 1 – 24 and are marked off one by one with maybe a small bible verse (if solely religious) or treat (to mix in a little secular) to build the anticipation for the ultimate day, December 25.

Materials:
Kraft small envelopes
Rhinestone stickers
Round cardstock paper pieces (I bought round tags at the craft store)
Mini clothespins
Glue
Twine
Mini cards
Screw eyes (these are screws with a round “eye” at the top – I needed these as I wanted to hang my advent calendar on a wall under trim).
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Instructions:
This project is really simple, it’s just a little time-consuming…
1. Glue the round tags to the Kraft envelopes.
2. Stick the rhinestone stickers at the top of the round cardstock (over the holes in my case).
3. Cut two pieces of twine to accommodate your envelopes.
4. Screw the two screw eyes tightly into the angle of the trim and wall.
5. Thread the twine through each side and tie tightly.
6. Attach all the envelopes using the clothespins.
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And now we get to fill the envelopes! Because it’s just my husband and me in our household, we decided to alternate days to give each other advent gifts. And our “gifts” were notes written on cards (with maybe a small piece of candy or trinket) with one of two themes: (1) a favorite memory from the current year; or (2) an idea for an outing or date in the new year. I really enjoyed this addition to our holiday season and how it encouraged us to reflect on the current year and make plans for the new year. Have fun with it and create your own traditions. 🙂
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And thanks again for hanging out with me on my 12 Days of Projects! I hope you were inspired to do some creating yourself or at least enjoyed seeing some fun things. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and blessed holiday season. Talk to you again soon. 🙂