Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway!

I was lucky enough to have receive an advance copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After from the wonderful people at Quirk Classics for review.  DEA the third and final installment of this fun and quirky series.

Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have been married just a few short years when he lets his guard down during a walk, and is bitten by a dreadful.  When Elizabeth learns there is a possible cure in London, she's willing to give up everything to save her beloved husband.  She is joined in London by Mr. Bennett and Kitty, and believing they are at Lady Catherine's mercy, they soon find themselves jumping through some ridiculous hoops to help Lizzy have a chance at rescuing Fitzwilliam from a most undesirable fate.

I have read this trilogy several times, and they are as enjoyable the first time as they are the fourth. I am not a huge Austen fan (I prefer the movies to the books), and I'm not a big fan of zombie movies/stories (Zombieland is probably the one exception), but when you combine the two, you have a most entertaining story.

If you haven't yet read the PPZ books, this is the perfect opportunity for you. I am giving away the whole trilogy - PPZ: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and PPZ: Dreadfully Ever After - to one lucky reader.

In case the most unfortunate plague presents itself in your area, I am also including The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection of the Living Dead by Max Brooks.

For a chance (or multiple chances) to win this wonderfully fun package, all you have to do is leave a separate comment for each of the following:
1. Just leave a comment saying "Hi!"
2. Become a follower of my blog
3. Like me on Facebook
4. Mention this giveaway on your 
blog, facebook, and/or twitter,
and leave a link in your comment

I will keep the giveaway open until midnight (CST) on March 31st.  
Winner will be announced at noon (CST) on April 1st.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Table Transformation

Last year, I changed up our kitchen table a bit. When we bought it, it had a light oak finish. I left it alone for a couple of year, but since the table and chairs matched our floors, I painted it a really nice barn red. I liked it and kept it for several years, but decided it was time for a change. After about 3 hours of sanding, I finally got the polyurethane and paint sanded off.  I did a hurried white-wash, but wasn't completely happy with the table top.  I kept the red on the apron and legs, then painted white over them and sanded some areas for a worn look.  We've had some nice days, so I decided it was time to change it up again.  I left the apron and legs alone, and concentrated on the top.  This is what it looked like when I began:

After a lot of sanding - this is where an electric palm sander comes in VERY handy - I pulled out my little metal stamps and my trusty hammer to hammer in 4 different quotes that I love.  I then stained it with some stain that I had on hand.  It was "Early American" Semi-Gloss, and is the same stain I used on my ladder.  Due to the weather and the other millions of things I've had on my to-do list, I've only managed 1 coat of poly so far, which is why the table is pulled apart in the picture below.  I still need to do at least 2 more coats.

As for the quotes, I had considered going back over the letters with a black Sharpie, but changed my mind.  I found that the stain made the words show up just fine.

Since I already had everything on hand, this project cost me nothing!

I found my stamps here.  They are now on sale for $6.99 until March 31st.  The quotes I used are:
"Be the change you want to see in the world"
"A Day without laughter is a day wasted"
"With God all things are possible"
"The road that is built with hope is more pleasant than the road built in despair, even though they both lead to the same destination"

I'm linking up here:
Terrific Under Ten with AtHomeWithK
Too Cute Tuesday with Funky Polkadot Giraffe
You're So Very Creative with Me Making Do
Time to Shine with A Diamond in the Stuff
Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays with Coastal Charm
Take A Look Tuesday with Sugar Bee Crafts
Metamorphosis Monday with Between Naps on the Porch
Project Parade with The DIY Show Off

Be sure to check out the Daily DIY over at One Pretty Thing today - I'm featured!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Banner Love

Yesterday, I received an email asking about my blog banners, and I thought I'd share my answers here, too!

Q: How do you decide what picture to use?  Are they random, do they have meaning, or is there a theme?
A: All of the above!  It usually depends on my mood, but I try to pick something that makes me happy, and I hope other find the pictures appealing as well.  I usually try to use something that goes along with the season and/or a specific holiday.   
The new one:

is a picture that does hold some sentimental feelings for me.  The croquet balls are from the set that used to belong to my grandparents.  It's the set they bought when my mom was a little girl, and my older brother and I used to love playing croquet in my grandparents' back yard when we visited.  They make me think of trying to maneuver the balls around the big weeping birch, and thinking of the old birch brings back so many more memories!  The balls are sitting on one of my most prized possessions.  It's a bench my grandpa built in school his freshman year - in 1934!

Q: How do you create your banners?  How do you know what size to make them, what programs do you use?
A:  I use Picasa and Picnik for all of my photo editing.  The best part is that they are both free programs!  First, I pick a picture I want to use.  Sometimes I'll tweak the colors in Picasa, but I always upload it to Picnik.

Once it's uploaded, I crop it before doing anything else.  I start at 900 x 300, then increase or decrease, depending on what I want in the banner.  I prefer the banners to be 3 times as long as they are tall.

After I get it cropped to my liking, I click on the "Create" tab and play around with some of the different effects.  My favorite right now is the "Cross Process" effect.

Nine times out of ten, this is where I'll save the photo to the Banners folder on my desktop.  I open the photo in Picasa and add my text there.  The reason I usually prefer Picasa for the text is because in Picnik, you are limited by the fonts they have there.  Picasa will let you use any font that you have in your word processing program. 

Now, all you have to do is upload it to your blog!

Q:  Do you know how to do the banner with multiple pictures?
A:  Sure do!  And, you can do it using the same programs.  When you log into Picnik, click on "Collage"

Most collage banners look best with at least 3-4 photos.  For the free Picnik membership, 4 is as many as you can go. Pick the style you want from the menu on the left hand side.

Then, you can pick photos from your Photo Basket that can be found in the lower left hand corner.  If you have not already uploaded your photos, you can do it now.

Drag your photos where you want them, and click "Done!"

You can now add text to your collage, or add a text box under your header with your blog title and tag line by going to the Design tab in blogger (not sure about Typepad and Wordpress).

Q:  Can I purchase copies of the photos you show on your blog?  Can I use them on my blog?
A:  Absolutely!  I sometimes put them in my shop, but you can also send me an email!  If you would like to use them on your blog, I ask that you give me credit, and that you do not make a profit off my photography.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Weekend Wisdom

A day without laughter is a day wasted
~Charlie Chaplin~

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Decorative Ladder - a tutorial

On one of our living room walls, we have our decent looking white thermostat, and some other super ugly 70's inspired brown box thing that I think is supposed to help control the moisture in the air. The thermostat is easy to ignore, but the other thing stands out like a sore thumb, and I hate it.

I've known for a couple of years, now, what I wanted to do to cover it, but had no luck. I would arrive at a garage/estate sale to see somebody walking out with "my" gorgeous old ladder. A few months ago, I gave up and decided to make my own.

I know I took some pictures while making this, but I can't seem to find them.  If/when I do find those, I'll add them to this post.  For now, I'll do my best to describe what I did.

(2) 8' long 2x4 studs - I looked for ones that weren't in the best shape, but also weren't falling apart
3" wood screws - I like the black ones
(2) dowels that are about 1.5"x4' - Hobby Lobby had 3' dowels, but Menard's had 4' dowels for the same price
Tape measure
Chisel or something to drill a hole about 1/2" deep and the same circumference as your dowels
Drill bit to pre-drill screw holes

1. Take your dowels and cut them into (6) 16" sticks. 
2. Along the 4" side on each of your 2x4 studs measure 1/2" from the bottom and mark.  Draw a line from that mark to the opposite bottom corner.  (Look at the image below)  Cut along your line.
3. Now it's time to mark where you want the holes for the dowels.  I found it was easiest to lay my studs (hehe!) side by side to make sure the slanted ends will be facing the same way when the ladder is assembled.  Measure 6" from the bottom and make your mark half way across the width at 6".  Measure 12" up from that mark and make another one.  Continue that way until you have a mark for each of the 6 dowels.  See diagram below:
4.  Chisel or drill holes that are about 1/2" deep and the same circumference as your dowels.  I used a chisel, so I used one of my dowels as a pattern to draw my circles first.
5. In the center of each of the holes, and in the center of each end of your dowels, drill a screw hole.  On the studs, your screw holes need to be drilled all the way through.  In the dowels, the holes should be about 1.5" deep.
6.  Insert the dowels into their spots and screw into place.
7.  Stain or paint your new decorative ladder, then place and decorate!

Linking up here and:

The DIY Show Off

Tute yourself tuesday red and white

Like the pillow in the photo? I'll be doing a tutorial soon...and I'll have a confession to make regarding that very pillow!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Terrific Under 10

A few weeks ago, Kindra started hosting her Tuesday event, Terrific Under 10 Tuesdays. As Martha would say, "It's a good thing." It has to be made or bought for under $10, and it has to be home related (DIY, thrift find, makeover, food, kid related, etc).

This week, my contribution is "my side" of our entertainment center.  I'll spare you the sight of the other side until I can get it a little more presentable!

My total cost to decorate these two shelves was probably less than $10 because I used what I already had.

Top Shelf:
Pip Berry willow tree - gift I received from my sis-in-law a few years ago
Pictures of the boys - I bought these frames from Pier 1 almost 10 years ago, so I just had pay for the pictures
Tractor part & candle holder (more about this in a bit)

Bottom Shelf:
Pictures of my hubby's niece & nephews - A local department store was having a sidewalk sale last summer, and you could fill up one of those big paper bags for $20.  The frames were only two of the many things my mom and I were able to stuff into the bag!  Again, I just had to pay to get the photos developed.
Books - (Bottom to top) The Canterbury Tales used to belong to my grandma, and was printed in 1947; Red Pepper's Patients was printed in 1917, and I was able to get it for 50 cents at the local library's annual book sale last summer; and The Pirate of Panama was printed in 1914, and used to belong to my great-grandpa.
Ceramic Pitchers - I purchased these a few years ago with a gift certificate I received for Christmas.  The dried greenery and daisies were from a floral arrangement I received a couple of years ago.

These two wonderful rusted items have been identified as tractor parts by my gramps and great-uncle.  I found the one that is laying down at my grandpa's farm.  The one standing up was found at my great-uncle's farm many years ago.

I used some vintage twine that I found in my grandpa's garage to wind around the tractor part a few times, then tied on a skeleton key that was in a box of skeleton keys I found.  I plopped a 3x4 candle on top, and called it good!

Linking up here: 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pretty in Pink

Do you bead? Five years ago, beading wasn't even on my radar.  Then, my mom brought me into a beading store, and I fell in love.  Unfortunately for us, this little slice of heaven closed up a couple of years ago.  I was thrilled to learn that Carla would still be selling her beads online!

Wednesday evening, I ordered some of these (to make something with my nieces sometime) and some of these (for me!).  Would you believe they arrived in my mailbox Saturday morning?!  Such a nice way to start the day!  My mom and dad had my brother's kids for the weekend, and when I showed the girls the pretty pink beads that we were going to use for bracelets, they were so excited!

For each bracelet, we used:
Elastic beading thread
3 crimp beads
3 large hole beads
4 rondelle beads from the little grab bag Carla sent with my order
60-66 size 8 beads
pink velvet ribbon

The bracelets were very simple, and went together quickly.  Since the girls are only 5 and (almost) 7, I opted to use crimp beads to help keep the beads on the string.  Just don't crimp them too tightly because they will cause the string to break.

First, I cut a piece of elastic string about 8-10 inches long.  About 2 inches from one end, using needle-nose pliers, crimp one of the crimp beads in place, then add 12 of the size 8 beads (for my older niece, I added 15 here instead of 12).  Next, string on a rondelle like one of these (The first & fourth rondelles are slightly larger than the 2nd & 3rd, but I'm not sure of the exact size).  *Add 12 more of the size 8 beads, then 1 of the large hole beads, followed by 1 rondelle.*  Repeat steps between the * two more times.  String on 12 more size 8 beads (again, I added 15 here), and one more crimp bead.  Thread both ends of the bracelet through the third crimp bead and crimp into place.  Using the velvet ribbon, add a bow.

When I tried tying a bow, it was too bulky.  Instead, I used 2 pieces.  I made the loops with one piece, then wrapped the second piece around the middle of the first.  I also wrapped the second piece around the crimp beads to hide them, and used a needle & thread to sew it into place.

Hope that all made sense!  Now, I'm off to get ready for yet another round of snow...I'm beginning to think that Mother Nature hates us!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March 1st

March is one of my favorite months because...

Nebraska's birthday is March 1st - Happy 144th birthday!
SAINT PATRICK'S DAY!!!  (The Irish in me loves this!)
March is Women's History Month
March is a transition month - winter usually leaves us for good sometime during this month!
This is also the month that my house gets reorganized!

I'll be disappearing on you for a few days, but be sure to check back early next week for a fun post...hint - it begins with a "give" and ends with an "away"!

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