Monday, December 21, 2009

Everyone's Talking Photography!

OK...just to piggy back on yesterday's of my other fave bloggers, Centsational Girl, posted today about photos and blogging...

Our minds must've been in the exact same place this weekend. She has some good tips about uploading pictures. I'll have to check out Windows Live Writer because I, too, despise uploading pictures to Blogger. Don't even get me started. I'm thrilled to know there's another way.

Check CG out if yesterday's post didn't send you into a coma. She also has a disdain for flash that I forgot to mention also. I use it only in extreme circumstances--John's school program was one of those "extreme" circumstances. Natural light is my friend. And she is also a big fan of PW...but who isn't? The woman is amazing.

This should prove that it's really not's the camera....and a little photo editing to thank for purty pictures.

And whoever posted yesterday that came through as High Altitude will you please let me know who you are?! So curious and you should join us when we do the LL class :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

This Is It

This post may bore some...uh....most of you so you have my permission to breeze past it but I've had a lot of questions asking me about the DSLR camera that I got for Christmas (early). I've been through quite an exhaustive research process since August including rentals, trying out different lenses, and asking friends who are photography-literate for advice.

I am by no means an authority but I'll just tell you that I ended up with the Nikon D90. I went with Nikon because that's what I had rented from our friend, Brad. Most people I know have Canons but I went with Nikon because that's what I was familiar with and I didn't want to re-learn another camera. And because I'm not a Rebel (get it? that was a weird joke). Most people have told me that the two brands are pretty much equals in the DSLR world.

I bought the 18-105mm lens that comes with the camera even though I didn't necessarily want to use this as my primary lens but for the cost of the two together it was a good buy. And this lens will be very useful for travel or vacations.

However, I knew that lens wasn't going to give me the pictures I wanted to get of my kids in indoor settings (which is mostly what I am shooting these days). So I bought a Nikkor 35mm f1.8 lens. This is THE lens (for me). I know there are better/faster/more expensive lenses out there but for my purposes this one is great. You can read Kenny Rock's review here for the lens and here for the camera. This is my new virtual photography friend. I read his website before buying anything to see what he says. Not sure why I deemed him the authority but in my little mind he is The Camera Sensei.

Without boring you with technical jargon this lens takes clear pictures in low light. It's fantabulous and it is the only lens I've been using on my camera since I got it. The only thing is that it doesn't zoom in or out but that isn't really an issue. You "zoom with your feet" as the pros would say. Or I can crop a picture closer up in Photoshop.

Which brings me to another issue. Many people have commented on how "great" my pictures are. Weeeeeelllllll, I do cheat a teeny weeny bit. I usually mess with the pictures a bit in Photoshop Elements to make a good picture a better picture. I pick up little tricks and tidbits from one of my fave blogs....The Pioneer her. She is like a 21st century renaissance woman. On a side note: One day I somehow got caught up in the novela-esque blog post series that is her love story, Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, of how she met her hours later I had not even read through half of it and never did finish it. Phew! Good luck to any of you that start reading it because it is written so well that you just get hooked and want to keep reading and I'm sure you have other things to do with those 3 hours like I did! Anyways, I digress....

The last step on this photography journey is taking a Leisure Learning class sometime soon to really unleash the power of my camera because I know I'm not using it to it's full potential so after that class maybe I'll have more to say? Hope that helps anyone who is in the market for a DSLR!

Monday, December 14, 2009

O Christmas Tree

Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester

Ok, regular readers, bear with me. I'm attending some Bloggy Christmas Parties over at Thrifty Decor Chick and The Nesting Place ...I love these things....

Here is my Christmas Tree.

I had soooo many ideas for "easy" projects in my head going into December that I almost made myself crazy. But reality struck and I only did a few of the projects that I had planned to do. But I'm at peace with that. This tree truly is thrifty. Time consuming, yes, but quite thrifty.

I was infatuated with tags and hand-stamped muslin ribbon this year. I saw a lot of this stuff on Etsy. In fact, I bought these cute little tags from Paper Eclectiques and used them as ornaments for the tree. LUUUUV this idea. I might buy some more for next year

I bought these tags from Creations by Minda. Have I mentioned how much I love Etsy and all the hand-crafted unique items you can get on there? It's like a year-round, 24-hour Nutcracker Market (which I missed this year, by the way!!)

I saw a lot of hand-stamped muslin but I just made that myself. I was eager to experiment with tea-staining to make the muslin look old. I bought several yards of muslin which is DIRT cheap and just cut long strips of it, soaked it in tea for a few hours, let it dry, then stamped it with a few different stamps, and Voila! My own custom ribbons....

I added some little rhinestones on the snowflake stamp because I love me some sparkly (read: this took way too much time BUT I like the way it turned out)

Couldn't resist these sparklies at Target

My little tree topper

It is a well-documented fact that I am fabric addict and hoarder. I found this music note fabric at HobLob and it was 50% off so I bought the whole rest of the bolt (3 yards) and decided I would find some use for it. When I brought it home Kyle gave me the idea to make bows out of it. Uh-huh, I said KYLE gave me the idea. He has lived with me for long enough to know how my brain works. I stared at him incredulously and said "YOU'RE A GENIUS! I THINK I WILL!"

Here's an up close

Here are some non-tree ornament vase

My bows and ribbon proudly displaying all our Christmas cards

My tiny trees on the mantle....again used the snowflake tags and Kyle-suggested bows to decorate these

Dining room table centerpeice

Thanks for sticking with me through this post!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Project Baby Wipes!

Ok, so I really didn't think I was going to get to this part of my project-doing so soon. Really.

Some background: I have been wanting to add a distressed glaze to our kitchen cabinets since, oh, 2.5 years ago when we moved into this house and I was 9 months pregnant with #1 (Lil B). Well that never happened and I have probably attempted to start this project about 3 separate times and chickened out. Like, go-to-the-store-and-buy-all-the-ingredients ready. Very ready but something was holding me back.....

Then yesterday as I was showering it just hit me and I decided I. had. to. glaze. right. now. or. else. (said in a robot voice, here). I declared to hubby that today was the day. I was going to do it. FOR REAL. But not to the kitchen because that was too daunting and I wasn't confident in my method yet. So I locked in on the guest bathroom with laser-beam intensity. She would be my lucky guinea pig. Thankfully my mom took John to spend the night at her house last night so as soon as I put the littlest one to bed I started my mission.

I really wish I had the foresight to have a before picture but I think most of you know what stark-white cabinets look like--especially if you've been to my house. Plus, I was so intent on doing this NOW that I didn't even think about the camera. So here's a picture of our bathroom with similar cabinets...(the pictures are so awful--where is a nikon d90 when you need it?!)

And (a mere 3 hours later) here is the after....

I seriously declared that I wanted to sleep in the bathroom last night. And I wasn't kidding. Maybe even just sleep in the hallway so I could look at the cabinets as I drifted off to sleep? But before you think I'm nuts....I didn't, ok?

But really this was sooooo stinkin' easy and I knew it would be. I also knew once I did it I would kick myself for not doing it sooner and that was pretty much how I felt.

What do baby wipes have to do with this? Ok, so after you add the glaze to the cabinets you rub it off with a clean rag to get your desired look. But the baby wipes help you clean up a little bit more and take off some of the streaks that won't come off once the glaze has dried a little too much. Baby wipes are great to have around for paint projects....look out, master bathroom're next!

Getting My Project On

Well, here we's been two weeks that I've been very focused on keeping our little family afloat. It's been a full time job taking care of my three and the creative side of my brain is atrophying. It has been dormant for too long. And to make matters worse it is revolting by populating my brain with waaaay too many projects than can be handled in a reasonable span of time.

I took the little lady with me to Lowe's today and I saw it in her for the first time......*crazy eyes*. Yes, little girl, I know. When I go to Lowe's or Michael's or HobLob I get the crazy eyes too. I think she was more impressed with the vastness of space, big and bright lights, and lots of people and things to see. But me, I got the crazy eyes thinking of all the random parts and pieces that could be brought to life in a DIY project.

What do chicken wire, a painter's drop cloth, and baby wipes have in common? Nothing together but each one is an important part of a different project rolling around the recesses of my little brain. You'll have to stay tuned for more on that.

Stand back! I am (crafty) woman, hear me roar!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Word Has Gotten Out....

...that I can sew a bit....

My neighbor offered to pay me to make a new cover for her daughter's MDO nap mat. Her daughter
 is one of Lil B's neighborhood friends.
I'm always intimidated to make things for other people because if I mess up something for myself that's one thing....if I mess up someone else's stuff....ugh, I'd feel so awful. However sometimes you just gotta have a little faith in your abilities (however primitive they may be) and DO it! My neighbor friend brought over the existing nap mat, some cute fabrics, a nice little pillow insert, and it looked simple enough so I accepted the challenge. After all, as we kept saying "It's just a big rectangle"....famous last words....

Since I'm no genius when it comes to using patterns, most of my sewing projects involve a ridiculous amount of time staring at the material and thinking hard to formulate my "order of operation". I usually have to redo my work anyways because I am a novice but sewing is relaxing to me. Plus I like figuring out new projects and the feeling of accomplishment when I finish them.

I just finished the nap mat this evening and it actually looks pretty cute! I am impressed with myself and relieved it's over! 
The snazzy velcro side closures...
Bad picture here (wish I had the Nikon....) but it is a cozy chocolate brown minky dot fabric on the sleeping side and a cute brown/pink/green/white floral on the outside.
Unfortunately, I also suffered from acute panic attacks that once the nap mat was washed it would fall apart instantly so even though I had washed the fabrics before making the mat I had to wash it again once it was assembled to prove to myself it wouldn't disintegrate completely. I don't know why that freaks me out but it does.....especially since I'm making it for someone else! I kept opening the washer expecting to see the whole thing in pieces in there. I am up right now waiting to see the thing make it through the dryer.

I think I totally over-built the thing too. I tripled stitched the handles and double stitched all the velcro closures....ugh! Is that OCD?
Update: It survived the dryer. Phew!

Sunday, September 6, 2009


....your regularly scheduled blog to attend a midnight par-tay over at Thrifty Decor Chick

Submitted my chest of drawers debacle over there. I'm #25. It's fun to see what other people are doing in the crafting world. That's how I got the guts to try out these types of projects for m'self....I luuurve should check her out sometime.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Klassy Kids Korner

I made another Goodwill purchase recently. A child's loveseat bench for $10. I loved the sweet look of it and instantly had romantic visions of my two darling children sitting on it it together one day, holding hands like two little angels (yeah, right!). Anyways, I bought it and decided to paint and upholster it because the unfinished wood, frankly, wasn't doing it for me.

Here is the before:

And the after:

I'm really into this nailhead trim. I've used it on several projects now. It really dresses things up a bit.

I think this whole project maybe took me an hour to do. To distress the bench I used a french paint technique that I learned over at Centsational Girl that is so stinkin' easy. Now I don't mind that this bench is out it the open with the rest of my things because it looks kinda classy for a kids bench. I was going to do it up really girly for Lady B but then decided to keep it out in the open so I wanted a more neutral, sophisticated, kid's bench (if you've ever heard of such a thing?!)
Lil B was pulling weeds with his dad when I begged him to come sit in his little chair for a picture. I even bribed him with a gummy vitamin if he would just sit in the chair and smile for me. He wasn't really having any of it.

You can see he is wistfully looking to where his dad is pulling weeds. "Don't really want to be sitting here, mom....but you did promise me a gummy vitamin"
Maybe one day you'll appreciate your little bench. One day when your tiny little legs are weary from all that running you do outside and you'll want to take a load off and drink some water from your big boy cup. Yes, that day you'll have just the perfect sized, cushy upholstered bench to rest your tired little body and enjoy a refreshing beverage!
A girl can dream, right?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Doesn't She Clean Up Nice?

This is why I have developed a fondness for the Goodwill. One woman's trash is indeed another woman's treasure.....

I had been looking for some little silver or white cups, pitchers, or vessels that I can use as vases to display flowers from the garden that my hubby maintains for me (thank you, Mr. WF)

I found these little cups at the Goodwill and thought it was a long shot. What if I just threw away money on two old gnarly-looking cups? But I took a gamble at $6 for the pair and just looky what a little silver polish did for them? Beauty-full!

I know my tablescape needs some work but I'm not sure the monster truck is going to make the final cut.'s just started to rain. Let's hope Lil B doesn't wake up screaming that he wants to "see rain, see thunder". I'm not ready for naptime to be over!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Crafty Project #4526: The Chest of Drawers

So here is the unveiling of the highly-touted chest of drawers project. I had been on a hunt for a chest of drawers for Anna's room. After all, the girl has about 1000 bloomers, countless bows, headbands, clippies, socks, and other miscellaneous accessories that I just didn't have to deal with when Lil Man was little. Like any respectable girl, she needed some more closet space!

I found this piece at a consignment store and just couldn't pass it up. It was labeled a "shabby chic dresser". The scale of it was perfect. The lines were great. It was exactly what I had been looking for except it was a little heavy on the "shabby" and a little light on the "chic". It may look cute in the picture but, believe me friends, when I got it home I could not bring myself to put my dear little girl's delicate clothes in this dirty, scary dresser so I set out to revamp it with a little Lori pixie dust.

I'll spare you the details but this project that should've taken about 3 steps went through more steps than an addict at an AA meeting. I finally got her into recovery and now she looks like this!

Perfect under Lady B's vintage wall montage.....luuuuvin' it! I especially luv the crystal knobs purchased from everyone's favorite craft-a-licious store: The Hob Lob.

I know, that stencil looks familiar, right? Mr. WF asked if it was now the official family crest since it's on our coffee table AND the dresser but I couldn't resist. The dresser was begging for some fancy so I gave it to her.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

If You Can't Take the Heat, Get Outta the Garage

OK. So literally today my skin melted off my body, landed in a puddle on the asphalt, sizzled, shriveled up, turned black and only ashes were left. It was THAT hot. I kid you not. I ran two errands where I parked only 10 yards from the entrance of each store and in the short trip in and out the above melting scenario happened at least 4 times. I can't take the heat. I just can't. When we're outside even Lil B says "Too hot, mommy! Too hot!"

During this heat spell we are usually sequestered in the house for most of the day which is really not my ideal way to pass the day. We did join a neighborhood pool which has been a lifesaver. We usually hang out there in the evenings and cool off.

Ok, enough complaining about the weather. I've been out of blogging commission again while transforming a consignment store find. Where do I find the time to do this stuff, you may ask....during naptime and in the evenings. Doing something crafty is sort of relaxing to me. I like having a productive project to focus on otherwise I can and will waste my time. And don't tell me to read a book because, as my husband says, "do you even know how to read?" Hate reading. Sad but true. Those summer reading projects from school turned me off forever....but I digress.....

So, thanks to the heat, I have spent my free time sweating off gallons of water weight in the garage sanding, staring at, painting, re-painting, staring at, sanding again, and more staring at this chest of drawers. I have also become fierce enemies with the creepy, crawly moths, roaches, and june bugs that invade my craft space in the evenings. I can't work in these conditions, people! It is downright freaky what is in my garage at night! Anyone ever notice how june bugs are the most spastic insect creature ever? They have no real flying ability and get stuck upside down constantly. hate. them.
It has become the bain of my existence, this chest of drawers.....I thought it would be as easy as my $5 Goodwill table but, alas, it has proved to be a bit more stubborn. Anyways, it's almost done and I'll post pictures soon of what's been stealing my affections from the blog.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

From Boring to Bow-Bling!

And she strikes again. Keep me away from the Goodwill store!

So I dragged my mom to the Goodwill store near her house the other day in hopes of finding another treasure and I found this little straw purse. I thought it would be the perfect little summer tote for when I run errands without the kids and the monster-bag they require.

This was another $5 purchase. I'm noting a trend here:
Goodwill + $5 = Fabulous
I made a bow from some pretty paisley fabric that I bought a few weeks ago that I just liked so I bought it. I have a "favorite fabrics" stash. I am addicted to pretty fabrics and I just buy a yard or half a yard when I see something I like...for such a time as this!

As we were perusing the Goodwill aisles my mom came across a blazer she had given away (indeed we were at the Goodwill near her house where she donates her old stuff). "Look! Lori, here's my jacket!" We were actually looking at a blazer that used to be in her closet on the racks of the Goodwill store. I started laughing hysterically. I almost peed my pants, in fact. Anyone else find that funny because I was laughing so hard I was crying.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Before and After

TA-DA! The unveiling of my $5 Goodwill table transformation...


Let's do a thrifty recap
Table: $5
Spray paint primer: $4
Under color taupe spray paint: $4
Top color ivory paint from the reject pile at Home Depot: $1
Elmer's glue for the crackling effect: $2
Gel stain for the legs: $5
Stencil for the top design: $10
Total project cost: $31 and a little elbow grease
Not too shabby for a shabby-chic table, huh?