Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Ultimate Home Project

I've been thinking a lot lately about legacy and what is most important in life.  I'm not sure what led me to ponder such deep thoughts.  Maybe as parents we all wonder at times if the way in which we spend our time day in and day out is the best use of those precious minutes.  Whatever the reason, these thoughts have been swirling around in my mind for the last few weeks.  My visit to my parents' house this week has allowed me the time to reflect on the subject of legacy.

Hanging in the hallway of my parents' house is the gift that I gave to my parents and my in-laws-to-be on the eve of my wedding.  I had wanted to give our parents something meaningful that would mark this momentous occasion in each of our families and so at our rehearsal dinner I gave them a framed family tree of sorts that listed their marriage, the marriages of their children, parents and grandparents.

As I stood looking at it this week, my eye was drawn to the very top, to the names and marriage dates of my great-grandparents.  I thought about how much, or rather how little, I actually knew about them.  I knew their names and their wedding dates (thanks to some investigative work by family members) but other than some vague holiday memories as a small child, I really didn't know who these people were as individuals.

I certainly didn't know or care what kind of sofa they had or if their throw pillows coordinated perfectly with their drapes.  In fact I thought it silly that they would care about such mundane things.  Especially, I thought, if they could see and appreciate what their lives had led to - the continuing of generations of loving, beautiful individuals who were carrying on the family legacy.

These thoughts have led me to consider carefully what I deem important in my own life.  I spend so much time and energy on things that seem important in the moment, but I often wonder...

Will my children care if the beloved living room sofa is beginning to show signs of wear?  Or will they only care that our home was a safe haven for them, a place to find rest in a sometimes difficult world?  

Will my grandchildren care that I never could figure out the right furniture placement in the office?  Or will they only care that they inherited their grandfather's strong work ethic because he instilled the same in his sons?

Will my great-granddaughters care that I never could seem to finish all of my house projects, or will they  only know they inherited an eye for beauty and a passion in creating a loving home environment from their own mothers?

Most of all, will they know God and serve Him with their lives?  Will they show His lovingkindness to those around Him?  Will they love God and love people?  

If this is my ultimate goal for the generations to come after me, then how I spend my time should be a reflection of this goal.  

I do believe that God has created me with purpose and that my passion for creating a lovely home is part of that design.  But I'm smart enough to acknowledge that my passion for creating outward beauty in my home should never surpass my passion for creating inward beauty in the lives of my children.  This is what matters.  This is what is of utmost importance.

The same passion and excitement I feel in creating the next beautiful decoration for my home should pale in comparison to the excitement I feel at a new day of helping to create who my children will be.  I think sometimes I get it confused and switch around the priorities.  I want to be different, though.  I want to live my life in such a way that, even if someday my great-grandchildren only know my name and marriage date, they will be God-serving individuals because of what I chose to do today.

It is for this reason that I have had to accept the fact that my idea of perfection may never come to fruition.  I will never post as many blog entries as I would like, finish as many home projects as are on the to-do list, or ever feel like we have enough money to do everything on my wish list.  But I will strive to live each day with the goal of laying my head on my pillow at night knowing that I gave my all that day to the things of importance.  I gave to the things that will last long after I am gone from this earth.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Paint and Furniture Cheap Mama Style - French Antique Look

Four years ago when we moved into the house we now live in, my in-laws sent a truck of hand-me-down furniture from Georgia.  There were pieces in there handed down from both of Georgia Boy's grandmothers and they were all full of memories.  Most were beautiful but a few had seen better days.  Since we were trying to fill a brand new house, we weren't about to turn down free furniture!   But I knew that it was only a matter of time before I would be painting furniture.

Fast forward to four short years later (humor intended) and I finally got around to painting one of the side tables.  This was a beautiful table with great details but it had been stained an ordinary color and the top was scratched from years of use.  I wanted to use it in the sitting room of my master bedroom which is decorated in blues so I decided to go with the antique french country blue look.  If you have ever wondered how to paint furniture or how to do an antique french paint job, this is how I did it.

Here is the table BEFORE!

I first primed the table using ordinary oil-based primer.  If you've never used oil-based paints before, don't be intimidated.  You can use all of your regular paint supplies but you'll need mineral spirits or another paint thinner for cleaning your brushes.  The paint will stick on your skin like glue so it's best to use latex gloves while painting.  Oil-based primers are used when you want to paint something that already has a stain or finish.  Latex paint won't adhere to a stain and instead of stripping, you can prime with an oil-based primer which seals and primes and dries matte.

This is after one coat of primer.  It will be streaky but as long as it's completely covered, you'll be able to begin the coats of latex paint.

After I primed it I painted one coat of Sherwin Williams Georgian Revival Blue.  After that I dry-brushed Sherwin Williams Silvermist.  I did enough to hit a little bit all over the surface of the top and legs but not so much that I couldn't see some of the Georgian Revival Blue peeking through.

 Dry-brushing is a technique that simply means getting enough paint to barely wet the tips of the bristles of the paint brush and then applying it with a light hand.  It's better to do a little bit at a time and build to the look you want.  You can always add more - but you can't take it off!

Basecoat of Georgian Revival Blue.  It's bright!

This is after I dry-brushed with the Silvermist.  At first I did a light coat but after looking at it for a while, I decided to go heavier with the Silvermist.  You can still seek the blue peeking out.

The final step was the glazing coat.  This is what takes a painted piece that looks like it just received a paint job by a kindergarten student and turns it into a piece of furniture with an antique look.

I made my glaze by mixing 3 parts Sherwin Williams Faux Impressions Glaze (Latex Finish Clear) with 1 part Sherwin Williams Umber paint.  The glaze is clear and can be tinted to whatever finish you would like to have.  I used the dark umber glaze on this table and a couple of other pieces but for my next project, I am going to be doing something a little different.  (Stay tuned!)

To glaze, brush on the glaze with a paint brush and then wipe off with a clean cloth.  I used my husband's old undershirts for this.  Even though you are wiping with the cloth, you will quickly see that it creates an aged look even when it is wiped off.

Finished product!

The piece ended up with the exact paint color I wanted but after living with it in the room for a couple of weeks, I think it may look too "fancy."  I'm contemplating hitting the edges and legs with sandpaper for a more distressed look but I haven't completely decided if I want to do that.  So, until then I'm enjoying my "new antique" table!

I got a lot of my inspiration for this table from one of my favorite bloggers, Miss Mustard Seed.  Check out her blog for LOADS of tips on painting, sewing, and making your home beautiful.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Easy Cheap Mama Teacher Appreciation Gifts

I apologize for doing two posts in two days but I had to add this post while it was still Teacher Appreciation Week.

When I started blogging, I was introduced to the wonderful world of printables.  Printables are downloads of all kind of graphic designs, cards, etc. that you can print out and use in a million different ways.  Sometimes these printables are available for purchase at very reasonable prices but there are also a lot of FREE printables available.  When I'm looking for a particular theme, all I have to do is google my topic with "free" and "printable" and I've always been able to find something great.

I am still blown away that all of these creatives ladies out there in the blogosphere provide these printables for FREE and so I wanted to give a shout-out to a couple of the people that I have used in some recent projects.

For Teacher Appreciation Week, I found Cheri of I Am Momma Hear Me Roar.  She had several great ideas for Teacher Appreciation Week, all of which were available as FREE downloads!  I chose the Thank You For Helping Me Grow printable which I attached to a potted plant for each of Superman's teachers.  I am giving Cheri the shout-out here, but I'm okay with Superman's teachers thinking that I came up with this great idea all on my own!

Superman also recently had Crazy Hat Day at school.  To say he is obsessed with Lego Star Wars would be an understatement so I wanted to find a way to incorporate this into our crazy hat design.  I found Cindy of Skip To My Lou and her FREE Lego Star Wars cupcake topper printables.  I printed them out, put them on pipe cleaners and attached them to a red ball cap I found for about $1 at Hobby Lobby.  The result was one great crazy hat!

Superman wouldn't let me take a picture of him wearing the hat so I made the topiary wear it.

I am now hooked on printables as a great way to do something very creative for any occasion.

Happy printing, Cheap Mamas.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Easy Balloon Shade

When I was pregnant with my first child I didn't want to find out the sex of the baby.  It was my first child and I knew I would be excited whether it was a boy or a girl.  My mother, who is a great seamstress, made custom bedding and a window treatment that was beautifully gender neutral.  My son slept on that bedding until he moved out of his crib.  I loved that bedding and all of the memories it held.

When I became pregnant with my second child, for some reason I decided we should find out the sex and we discovered we were having a girl.  I planned on using the bedding that my mother had made because of the sentimental value but then a friend of mine gave me the bedding that she had used for her twin girls.

It was pink.  It was wide gingham check.  It was gorgeous.  My mother ended up making a quilt that went perfectly with it which meant I then had the best of both worlds - beautiful pink bedding and something handmade by Nana.

The only problem was that I had two windows and the set had only come with two tie-top panels.  I thought about hanging them straight down on either side of each window, pulled to each side with a tie back but then I got a crazy idea to fashion balloon shades out of them.  I thought this would give more of the shabby chic look I was going for in Sidekick's room.

I hung them over the curtain rod like you would drape a bath towel over a towel bar with the ties in front.  I then used ribbon to pull up each side creating the balloon shade look.  I tied the tab ties into bows and adjusted it all until I got the look I wanted.

This meant I was able to outfit 2 windows with half the needed panels which made this Cheap Mama very happy!  I love the look and love the pink for my baby girl.

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