So I created something yesterday that made me very happy.  We were re-homing the bookcases from Eli’s room and one of them made its way down to the living room corner.  I decided this wouldn’t make the living room look too crowded if we didn’t put any books above the second shelf from the bottom, but it was a perfect place to actually store music books properly and gave our small pregnancy, childcare, parenting section a home on half the shelf with the gardening books on the other half.

I’ve discovered a new kind of freedom within the constraints of a tight budget, and that is a freedom to be creative. When I crave new decorations, there’s hardly any money for them (and what we have had, we’ve spent on Eli’s room! that low VOC paint isn’t cheap…) but it’s made me branch out, figure out how to make things with things I already have, and it’s made me grateful for what I do have. Plus it keeps me from adding more to a house that is admittedly quite full.  I can just figure out new things to do with what I have, or with what I can make with what I have.

Now, granted, all this stuff at some point or another was bought, the pots, the jars, the books and so forth, but it’s found new life today in this arrangement.  And instead of buying new things and getting rid of the old, I’ve created new with old.  And there’s something deeply satisfying about that process…

I knew I wanted to keep the top three shelves simple and decorative, and, well, the only term I could think of was “organic.”

So I went shopping.  Not at the store, mind you, but in my house.  I brought in some irish moss that hadn’t gotten planted in the fall inside because it was dying in its little pots outside and put two of the plants in my old terra cotta pots. I love these pots when they get to be at least a year or two old, because they naturally get all weathered because of minerals seeping through the porous clay from the soil inside.

The tea light holders are jelly jars with masonry sand in them, and a bit of jute twine tied around them. I made them in the fall and re-homed them from my kitchen (though I might make up a few more now for the kitchen!). The flowers are dried yellow yarrow from last summer? or the summer before even maybe, it holds up pretty well. The “vase” they’re in is a recycled glass soap dispenser I got at target, but the pump gave out after a couple of weeks… Disappointing, but I recycled it again into a vase.

In the process of cleaning out Eli’s room, I discovered a half dozen or so paper backs that were in no condition really to give away, so I’ve turned them into decor.  Three of them with their covers ripped off and tied with hemp jewelry cord make a neat art object on the second shelf down.

And of course, there are the Christmas ornaments made with pages from a book re-homed and set in a wooden bowl.
And one I accordion folded 42 pages of into this wreath, which consequently was the only money I spent on the project.  The pages are hot glued onto a 12″ wire wreath form from Joann’s that ran me $2.49.

This project was inspired by one in the latest Mary Jane’s Farm Magazine… have I mentioned I love that magazine?? So inspiring :-)


I have to confess, I’m getting a kick out of walking around Lowes with painting supplies under my arm rubbing my belly.  Apparently I look just pregnant enough that the male employees sort of look at me sideways with worried/apprehensive expressions.  Next time I catch one of them doing that, I’m going to ask them which aisle would be the best to birth in… I’m thinking… power tools!


So back in the spring I set up an office for myself in our second bedroom.  As you can see, it was quite a full office with desk, work table, and of course a number of requisite bookshelves.

Since we moved into this house, the bedroom has been evolving.  The first spring and summer we were here, it was full of boxes, both ours and some friends of ours who lived with us for a month while they were in transition.  It looked like a storage room, and you could hardly walk through it.

After they moved back out, I cleaned it up and then eventually, set up this space.

The only problem was, I didn’t really like to be up here that often and delayed work projects sometimes.  I liked being downstairs with Jody if he was home much better, plus it was easier to do laundry breaks and such if I was working downstairs.

So little by little we whittled away at this space.

We moved my work space downstairs, and I moved my craft space into the guest room (I’ll have to take pics of that later).  I like this set up way better!

By Thanksgiving the room looked like this…

…only the air bed in the left of this pic was all blown up and made up for brother and sis-in-law to sleep on.

Then today, (after a couple of shorter bursts to go through papers and binders on bookshelves) we re-homed the rest of the stuff in this room…

…and we were finally ready to prep and paint!

We couldn’t find our roller frame (pole, check! roller, check! frame… oops) so I ran to Lowes (mainly female employees tonight! Darn!), and husband spackled, sanded and taped.

Then while I ran and hid in my craft space so as not to breathe paint fumes (although low VOC paint rocks! It didn’t actually smell that bad, and it dissipated really quickly! yay!), husband blocked out the first wall and this random square design we added.  It’s a case of necessity and invention… there were some holes he wanted to fix in that wall, but we didn’t want to a) paint the whole thing blue or b) go try to match the original paint color and re-paint it that way.  Solution? create a design that covers the spackling! What else am I going to do with it? You’ll just have to wait and see 😉

Meanwhile, I finished the rest of Eli’s flock, to be mounted to a branch and hung from the ceiling!  (It’s from a free pattern from spool, only they show it as a mobile. I’m riffing off Meg McElwee’s idea by mounting them to a branch. Incidentally, we’re also doing a Montessori room of sorts, more on that some other time…)

But here’s the flock all finished! Eleven birdies, and none of them are the same.

More painting and branch mounting to come!

And if you want to see what else I’ve finished for Eli’s room, check out this post and see the banner I appliqued… so pleased with how it turned out!


I woke up with a case of the blahs today, probably some random pregnancy hormone thing… and I was sad too because I was in the middle of this project for Eli’s room, and I had incorporated what is turning out to be one of my words for 2011 into it.

But I felt like doing anything but delighting in anything.

I did feel like sewing sort of though, so I jumped back in and kept going.

And sewed myself right out of the blahs, delighting in the act of creation.  Delighting in my lunch break of a peanut butter sandwich on homemade honey wheat bread that smells so, well, delightful when you open the bag.

And delighting in my unborn son, who kicked faster the faster I sewed, and realizing as I start the third trimester that he’s really going to be here, all the way here, like holdable here, before too long.

The idea of finding delight even in the little things in life is one I hope to model for him as he grows up, so I thought it was fitting to make it into a banner.

So here it is folks, the first room decoration for Eli’s room, all done!  I got this idea from Amanda Blake Soule’s Handmade Home, though I didn’t follow her pattern exactly, and I drew my own applique.

We’re ending up with a woodland sort of theme for Eli’s room, which is fitting since we live in the woods.  I went googling for a squirrel applique idea and found these towels that were appliqued using a pattern from Country Living.

I didn’t have the magazine, nor did I care to take the time to find the appropriate back issue, so I drew similar designs for myself and just used those.

Here’s the owl all appliqued to the banner fabric and ready for stitching.

And the little squirrel… I’m going to put squirrel on one of his onesies too as soon as I get some more wonder under.

And here’s all the lettering laid out and ready to go:

The font is a free font from called fibel.  I printed it out big and traced it backwards onto the wonder under’s paper side. (Remember to do that when appliquing anything that you want to come out a certain way… I forgot, and had to re-trace all the letters 😛 fortunately, I hadn’t adhered them to the fabric before I caught my mistake.

Then I satin stitched around all the pieces, and stitched a border around the flags, and sewed them onto thick jute twine.  For a finishing touch, I frayed all the edges since I had this cool cotton canvas fabric on hand from a remnant I had grabbed years ago on clearance.  Love my fabric stash.  All the other fabrics for this project came from fat quarters that I bought for another decorative project that’s not finished yet, but left plenty of fabric for all sorts of fun little accents! I’ll be using these fabrics on his onesies too.

By the way, the living room bookcase merely proved a handy display.  This will be strung somewhere in his room once we get it painted and more set up 😛  Paint is bought! We’re getting there!