Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Look what I copied from a magazine cover

I know this looks like another DIY post about a wooden Christmas tree box that turned out pretty well, but it's also a post about my Dad.

this summer with my boys

My Dad is 76 years old and for those of you who've followed me for awhile you know when it comes to construction, he can do almost anything. He hung drywall for 40 years and if you've ever tried to hold a piece of drywall over your head with one arm you'll know something about his robust view on life. Lucky for me, my Dad has been my DIY teacher around my fixer-upper these past years and I enjoy sharing what I learn from him---with you all.

Like this little project.

So I'm wandering through a antique store when I see this cover of a 2015 Country Living magazine, and I became instantly smitten with the rustic Christmas Tree box on it.

For a buck I bought it and thought, "I gotta make this!"
Well at least I planned to.
But the last weeks in November were so hectic that I ended up showing the magazine to my Dad when I was home for Thanksgiving and gosh, it was so darn nice to just sit back and watch him make this.

Here's the final project:
(you can see more pictures on my Instagram)

If you look my magazine picture you'll see that the wood looks dry and old.

So we used basic 6 inch Redwood fence pieces from Home Depot.

After Dad measured the standard size of a tree stand he decided to make the "box" 24 inches around and we both decided to skip the extra step of adding a bottom.
I stood around talking and watching him and I'm glad I did because of the little things I keep learning.

He basically made 4 panels (here's two of them).
The height of each was easy, he just stacked the three 6 inch redwood pieces together.

In addition he cut these little pieces (8) to fit on both sides of two of the four panels.
He used wood glue and his nail gun to connect the sides. Here you can see how he fit the three wood pieces into one finished panel. When I saw this step I understood the purpose of those strips of wood.

Here's a picture of the last panel being connected:

About this time I took a video of my Dad working and I asked him, "Have you made one of these before Dad?

and I have him on video giving a classic answer,

"Oh come on,'s just a box."

That pretty much explains why I'm a DIYer. I usually begin each project not having a clue how it's going to turn out but my Dad has a way of making everything seem totally do-able. No matter how complicated it might look to me.

Ok. As I mentioned before that we chose not to put a bottom on this box to make it easier to handle--plus this was the day after Thanksgiving and we were short on time.

The last step was adding these metal strips on the sides.
I followed my Dad to his backyard shed and he showed me the different screws I could use on the strips. I still have no idea how to find the right ones in a Home Depot, but at least I now know that there are metal screws that exist. :)

Once home I hand-painted the letters Holly Tree Farm on the front and decided I didn't any stain for this wood.
This would age nicely in our attic and the best part of this project is the time I spent hanging out in the patio with my Dad... while he made this.

Well, I sure hope you enjoyed this little tutorial.

Thank you friends for stopping by.


Friday, November 17, 2017

How to Create Meaningful Moments for Everyone on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been a big deal in our house.

It's the one holiday that's always hosted at the cozy, little home my parents have lived in for over fifty years. And each year my Mom starts thinking about her Thanksgiving table weeks ahead. The color theme, the flowers, the table settings and yes, games too because Mom is a "game person." 

 As the only daughter, I'm considered my Mom's personal stylist/floral designer and we always plan her pretty table details together. It's been like this since I was in high school.

But one thing has never changed.

Over the years my Mom has always insisted on including a  fun activity that gets everyone interacting. No stuffing your face and instant snoring on her day--at least not until everyone joins in for "one of Mimi's games".

Over the years we've had trivia games (using holiday theme words)  modified game shows or a version of Charades. There are always teams--(usually girls vs. guys) and my Mom has little prizes. And because we're a loud, competitive bunch--it ends up being one hilarious expose of our quirky personalities. 

Yep, it's true we've got our share of bizarre political views, the 'crazy uncle,' and the tipsy relative...but somehow everything gets put aside when you're laughing together.
Have you noticed this too?

In other words my Mom's focus on 'doing something together' helps us bond.

 The Gratitude Question

This year we're trying something new and it's an idea I'm love with because its a chance to be a little real with each other.

Enclosed inside each glassine envelope is a single question about gratitude. But here's what's different; it's not a question asking for your general thoughts about gratitude... no, it's a question that is focused on the people sitting around the table. Right there in front of you.

If you opened one of these envelopes you might find:

  •  A question that asks you to share a favorite (or funny) memory of someone across from you.
  •  A question that asks you to share something you appreciate about the person on your right. 
  • A question that asks you to name a quality you appreciate in the person on your left
Here's the point of these little questions.

Intellectually we know Thanksgiving is a holiday about gratitude, in fact it's become quite a trendy word in our culture today. We see everywhere. But the challenge for us is, how do we transform these lofty concepts into something that feels meaningful and personal  to us?

The answer is....well, we get personal.

And we do this with the very people in front of us at this moment.

Isn't this why we spend so many hours decorating our tables, pouring over recipes, waiting in grocery lines, and cooking our favorite dishes?

It's about the people.

Even if it's only a few genuine words, a spontaneous story or a unexpected compliment, these are the kind of moments that we remember long after the dishes are put away.

This is how we experience the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

When I get to my Mom's house we'll set the table and decide where we'll put these little envelopes. It's easy to tuck a sprig of fresh rosemary or pressed leaf into the string at the last minute.

In the meantime I decided to set a quick table to show you how pretty these envelopes look. Right now we're thinking we'll open them once everyone is finished eating but still sitting at the table, maybe before dessert and coffee.

And later we'll be trying our first "white elephant" game too.

 Well, I sure hope I gave you something to think about today.

Whatever you've got planned for your holiday--I know it will be wonderful because you will be part of it.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends who are reading this post right now. Please know, I am incredibly grateful for every visitor to my little blog. ..I consider you one of my special blessings.


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Thursday, October 26, 2017

How I made this French vintage-looking sign

Hello friends.

A few of you asked me about the vintage-looking sign I made for my recent guest post and since I took a few pictures along the way I thought I'd do a quick post on it.

I realize the blog world is full of great tutorials on home-made signs but maybe there's something I did that might be helpful to you.

If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw this picture of my front door already.

This was the first sign I've ever made but I began this project with a clear idea of what I wanted my sign to look like and where I planned on placing it: over the front door.

I found this piece of dried plywood on the side of our house--in a pile meant for the garbage-- and I pulled it out, wiped off the cobwebs and after I measured the space over the door I realized this piece of wood would be perfect.

I know. It's hard to imagine seeing it "before."

I sanded it lightly, then used my table saw to cut the length. I planned on fitting it between my door trim (ceiling and door) but at the last minute I couldn't find my jigsaw so it ended up being wider than originally planned.

The good news is that I liked it better that way.

For the purposes of my guest post I decided to add a Parisian touch to my door by writing out the words "Welcome Friends" in French. 

Here's my inspiration picture from my IPhone showing the color and font that I wanted to emulate. It's hard to tell in this photo but the background is a soft gray.

Once my wood was the right size the painting was next.

I basically used some leftover white chalk paint as a base and layered white with light and dark gray shades combining these until I got a weathered look.

I bought some wood trim similar to the one in my photo and painted it....

...and cut 45 degree angles with my table saw. 

The ONE problem I had was when I tried to use my nail gun to attach the trim. I'm not sure why, but it ripped the trim piece on my first try and after calling my Dad for help, I decided to use Elmer's wood glue instead of nails.

After it was glued, I taped the trim to hold it firm and since I didn't have clamps, I turned it upside down (Dad you-are-so-smart!) and put stacks of books on top until it could dry.

Next comes the most time-consuming part of the sign. I had bought some large stencils thinking I would simply trace them, but when I laid them out the letters were too large and thick for the look I wanted.

So this is how I got the perfect size letters for this sign.

I cut out each stencil letter that I would be using, then I pulled off the black adhesive part, discarded it, and worked with the white portion only. Using scissors I trimmed each white letter (I wanted a thinner letter like my inspiration photo), then set it down on the wood and traced it. I use 'my eye' to determine the right distance between the letters.

Once the letters were all out-lined, I just painted inside the lines.

Here's a shot of the sign before I sanded it down in parts to age it. 

I actually love how it turned out --in fact-- this sign inspired me to give my dining room a new look for the holidays. 

See this dark wood table? It's actually one of the most expensive pieces of furniture we own. We bought it after we got married and paid a ridiculous amount for it... but guess what?

Today it looks totally different.

I sent my mom a photo of it after I took the sander to it and she texted back,

 "Cool! But only you would sand your beautiful dinner table."

I had to laugh. But I loooove all the gorgeous wood grain that I can see now, and I can't wait to show you.

Stay tuned for my dining room refresh. New rug. Light rustic table. Bye-bye mirror and hello simpler look. Oh, and the sign is going in here too.

Thank  you friends for visiting me, I sure hope you enjoyed my little tutorial.

I'm sharing this post here:
Feathered Nest Friday

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Soul Keeping Lessons from a DIY Renovator (Hello Lovely)

Well friends, today is the day!

I've got my welcome mat out, my Dutch door is wide open and my special guest has arrived!!

If you don't already know Michele Ranard from Hello Lovely you are in for such a treat. Besides being an accomplished DIY renovator (two houses in two years) she is a prolific writer and artist who somehow finds time to maintain a gorgeous design blog.

And yet, what makes Michele stand out from the crowd --in my mind--is when she weaves her unique wisdom and serenity into her topics the way she did in this post.  

If you've ever been part of a long-awaited home renovation or a simple, blood-and-sweat DIY project you'll want to read Michele's reflections on her own experience.

Reading Michele's post made me stop and realize how our home projects--with all the sacrifices and stress and delays along with way---can be 'gifts' that help us grow into a better person. 

I hope you enjoy this post as much as I did! 


Peaceful neutral decor with Belgian linen in kitchen by Hello Lovely Studio
My Kitchen - Hello Lovely Studio

What a treat to be a guest of Gwen Moss today!

I'm Michele of Hello Lovely, and like you,
I admire Leslie's design style and
lovely heart which has been inspiring
mine for years now.

Home for me is in Northern Illinois, and
while I have always been a summer girl.
in the second half of life, I have
fallen in love with the unfolding 
beauty of autumn.

Fall brings:
fresh apples from the orchard,
crisps and cobblers bubbling over in the oven,
shopping for vintage at fleamarkets,
and hiking outdoors where the
changing colors delight.

This is the first fall in our home
where we're not swamped with
DIY whole house renovation,
and it's a great time to reflect
on how downsizing and renovating
has deepened us in profound ways.

Let difficulty transform you Pema Chodon quote - Hello Lovely Studio
Hello Lovely Studio

The kitchen needed to be completely
gutted, and the reno process brought
disappointments...for example,
learning we wouldn't be able
to lose a wall to create a more
spacious hub for our family to gather.

The gift that emerged instead?
Cozy intimacy.

 Rubbing shoulders with
people you love is not the worst
compromise one must make.

Modern farmhouse white kitchen with farm sink and Shaker cabinets by Hello Lovely Studio
My Kitchen - Hello Lovely Studio

Belgian style farmhouse decor in living room with white oak by Hello Lovely Studio
My  Living Room - Hello Lovely Studio

I was not a huge fan of the fan windows
we inherited with this fixer upper,
yet when a blog reader called them
"church-like," I changed my tune.

Slight shifts in perception
can pack a huge punch. 

Church-like is perfect for someone
who longs for her place to feel prayerful.

French inspired pea gravel courtyard by Hello Lovely Studio
My Courtyard - Hello Lovely Studio

Weeds and dead shrubbery had overtaken
the front entry area, and the remedy?
Subtraction and creativity.

With a limited budget, we simply erased
all but one plant, and brought
in boxwood and pea gravel for an
airy French-inspired courtyard.

Letting go is also good for the soul.

Exterior of our home on a hill - Hello Lovely Studio
My Home - Hello Lovely Studio

Every act of love is a work of peace - sign by Hello Lovely Studio
My Courtyard - Hello Lovely Studio

Galvanized buckets and pinecones in fall by Hello Lovely Studio
My Courtyard - Hello Lovely Studio

A few more peeks inside...

Vintage chair and white decor by Hello Lovely Studio
My Studio - Hello Lovely Studio

White painted pumpkins and vintage bag by Hello Lovely Studio
My Studio - Hello Lovely Studio

What's inspiring you this fall?

Vintage rusty white bicycle in peagravel and fallen leaves by Hello Lovely Studio
My Courtyard - Hello Lovely Studio

Thanks so much for having me, and
I hope you'll come visit Hello Lovely,
where Leslie is my guest!

Peace to you right where you are.


Thank you again Michele... for sharing your beautiful home and your inspiring perspective with us!


I'm sharing this post with friends:
Feathered Nest Friday
Imparting Grace
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