the nitty gritty

This is going to be a lengthy one...
Long time no blog.  I have attempted to post so many times, but its been so long since I've done a real post and a lot has happened.  I used to post all the time and I felt connected to the blogworld.  Then life got crazy busy and I started doing sponsored posts (which I am grateful to have had the opportunity) but I never felt like I could totally use my voice and I learned I don't like to have my voice edited... I just began to feel disconnected.  And then there is Pinterest and Instagram.  And everything you can possibly make or imagine is already on a blog somewhere.   I felt stale and like I had to force out some amazing idea or project.  My life wasn't a perfectly staged Inst-photo, and I didn't feel like making it one.  In fact it was a mess.  So I just didn't do anything.

As I've mentioned in the past I have always struggled with balance.  Juggling career and family.  I have always had a ton of energy and would just steamroll through.  People would always comment on how much I was able to get done, and I took it as a compliment, a strength.  At some point I'd hit a bump and realize I was spread way too thin and have to reassess/ freak out/ get overwhelmed and work through it.  I knew I could do one thing REALLY well, but having ADD kind of kept me in a vicious cycle of starting one thing and then saying "yes" to five other projects.  I would thrive off the chaotic energy, I still do.   I remember back in high school and college how I would have a project due, and I would wait until the last minute.  The eleventh hour was when I did my best work.

But a couple years ago shit hit the fan and I just burnt out.  It has taken me a long time to even talk about it because I really felt like it was a defect, that something was wrong with me.  A few years back I was running Overlays, a household, designing for clients,  running a blog and training for half marathons.  It was crazy and I was stressed out and overwhelmed beyond belief.  But I kept pushing and not saying "no" to anything.

The whole reason I started Overlays was so that I could work from home and be with my kids.  Instead I was sitting in front of a computer doing CAD and answering emails while they ran amuck.  I would take time to do things with them, but I would be thinking about what I needed to do and I wasn't present in the moment with them.  When they would go to bed, I'd get back on the computer.  My husband also felt like he was on a back burner.  It sucked.  I cut back on clients.  I cut back on training.  The blog suffered.  But I still felt like I could do it all.  I'd watch all these other women doing it, so it could be done.  Right?

I was wrong.  Things just got worse.  I was miserable and cranky.  I had always lived by the motto "Do what you love", and I pretty much was hating what I was doing.  I was in autopilot on a computer screen.  I didn't feel creative.  As a girl that would change her wall colors three times a year,  I felt stagnant- and I had no time to change my wall color!  I wound up selling the majority of my share of Overlays to Cheryle my business partner.  Her kids were grown, so she had the time that I lacked.  Shortly after that I just sold it all off.  I was done.  Part of me felt like a flake and a failure that I couldn't stick with it, and part of me still does- I'm not sure that will ever go away.

After the dust cleared I was left to pick up the pieces around my house.  My husband has been amazingly supportive and patient through it all.  He is a much more logical and practical person, thank god for that.  He keeps me grounded.  I realize the time I lost with my kids I cannot get back, and worst of all my youngest son is on the spectrum.  I have huge guilt over losing such an important developmental period of time in his life.  I am doing my best now to make things right, but I am always going to wonder.  

I struggle with my ADD everyday, more so now that my youngest has been diagnosed with it as well.  I feel like I'm the worst role model for him- like the blind leading the blind- since I can't even figure out how to mange myself.  The bright side to this is that it is making me be more mindful of my actions and behavior.  Both of my kids are very creative, so my biggest fear is that they turn into eleventh hour whirlwinds.  The eleventh hour only worked for me when I had no responsibilities and was single.  Kids and a husband aren't too keen on me pulling an all nighter.

So emotionally that's where I've been.  I am slowly getting my mojo back.  I have gone back to taking on clients and designing, and of course I still find myself saying "yes" too often and taking on one more than I should.  I'm in a weird space design wise.  I think I've been oversaturated by design honestly.  I took a lot of time off from blogs and Pinterest to try to figure out what I really like.  It is really hard to do that when you are constantly being bombarded by imagery and color.  We are in the midsts of a kitchen renovation at the moment, and I'm going all white and neutral.  If I decide I want color I can always add it later.  Right now I'm enjoying a white blank space and having things simple and not busy.  Very opposite from the norm.  I've even taken down most of my huge inspiration board in my office.  I just need uncluttered at the moment.

I've done a lot of soul searching over the past two years trying to figure out what really makes me happy and what I love doing.  I love creating.  I love making. I love the whole process and how excited it makes me.  So I plan on doing that.  I have missed this blog, and sharing stupid shit and harebrained ideas with you guys.  But I seriously could not do another post without writing this one, because every attempt at a "pretty" post just felt empty and fake.  I want to thank you guys for reading this, for following me on this blog and for being my sounding board for the past 6 years.  I'm not sure what the direction of this blog will become... I'm by no means ending it, just changing gears a bit- I am just going to post when I have something to talk about or show you.  I don't want to post just for posting sake.   I will be back soon with kitchen renovation stuff.  Thanks again for listening.


How to Divide Spring Bulbs


Who doesn’t love spring bulbs?  Year after year they signify the end of a long winter as their bold pops of color brighten the dormant landscape.  They require very little effort, simply plant in the fall and you will be rewarded with blooms for years.  Best of all they multiply, creating lots of new bulbs that you can replant or share with friends.
Bulbs create offsets, smaller baby bulbs that grow around the base of the original bulb.  
bulb with offset

You may notice your bulb plants will increase in size and blooms over the first few years, and then suddenly stop performing as well.  Fewer blooms are quite often a sign that your bulbs may be crowded.   For example,  the daffodil below was planted about five years ago.  It produced several flowers previously, but this year there is only one bloom and a lot of greenery.

Underground the bulbs and their offsets are competing for nutrients and space.  Energy used to create and sustain these new offsets is diverted from making blooms.  The easiest way to resolve this is by dividing your bulbs.  It's really easy to do, and you will be rewarded with lots of new blooms in the following years. You can get all your lawn and gardening supplies from your local True Value. 

You can divide your bulbs in the spring or fall.  I prefer the spring since they are easy to find since their foliage is still visible.  You will want to wait until late spring when the blooms have faded and the greenery has significantly died off.  A general rule of thumb is about six weeks from the last bloom.  As the greenery withers, the bulb absorbs energy from the leaves and stores it for next year’s blooms.  
It is important to let this process occur and not to cut back your foliage too soon.  

Start by digging up the cluster of bulbs and laying them on clean newspaper or a drop cloth. 
Be sure not to damage or cut your bulbs as you dig.  Carefully twist and shake the bulbs apart, trying hard not to tear their roots.  

Can you believe all these bulbs came from just one bulb planted a few years ago?

You will want to replant them immediately and keep them from drying out.  Wrap them with wet newspaper if they are going to be exposed to the air for a long period. 

 Return a few bulbs back to the original hole, spacing them out so they have room to divide.  Add a little organic material or compost to the bottom of the hole to enrich the soil.   Plant the remaining bulbs in holes that are 2-3 times deeper than the bulb’s height.

Once again be sure to leave plenty of space between bulbs, about six inches.  Cover the bulbs with dirt, trim back the dead greenery and water generously.  The larger offsets should flower next year, while the smaller ones may take longer to establish.  

You don’t need to wait until you suspect overcrowding to divide your bulbs.  Division can be done at any point once your plants have been growing well for a couple years.  They will benefit greatly from it by rewarding you with lots of healthy foliage and blooms.   

I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated
for my time commitment to the program as well as writing about my experience. I have also been
compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

Office Update/ I'm a Flake

  I'm such a flake.  Its only taken almost two years, but my office is done.
I know your thinking "Yeah, yeah... shut your face. You always say that."
Really. I WANT to be done.  I've tweaked and changed so many things along the way, and I finally have it how I like it.  Remember, this room started off almost 6 years ago as a nursery.
Its been about 4-5 different colors, but I kept going back to the pale pink. So pale pink stays.
I painted a chinoiserie mural on my closet/whiteboard wall
(there is a flip down queen size bed inside that closet so this doubles as a guest room).  Behind the doors there is yellow and white stripes and a leopard headboard.
I'll take some photos next time a guest comes.
 The bookcases (actually my entire office) are all IKEA pieces that have been trimmed out with crown molding or hacked in some way.
Lots of storage for all my junk.
The base cabinets are IKEA Sektional kitchen cabinets that 
I added homemade faux bamboo trim to. (see last post)
My I made the giant cork board over my desk from high density 3/4" thick foam insulation board wrapped with fabric and nailheads. It was a cheap fix, costing me under $25.
It herds my all my visual crazy to one area.
Starburst light tutorial is here.
 My white boards are made out of a 4x8' sheet of tile board ($13 a sheet) that I cut down into 4 pieces and framed with flat stock molding.  I will do a post on these.. really easy and they clean up great.  The trick is using a rag dampened with Windex.
Look how clean they are! They are usually jammed up with jibberish and to-do lists.
I made some more bamboo trim for these babies, and painted a yellow lattice background...
I change shit around here so much that I forgot how many looks this room had.
Here's a little memory lane montage...
Starting back in 2010 when I starburst the crap out of it and made it the guest room with a tiny desk jammed in it.  It was always a mess- note the laundry basket and printer on the bed!
 Then I got crafty and put my office in the big closet, and painted out the sunbursts with a dark charcoal brown:

 I really loved this set up, but the bed still hogged the room and collected crap like a magnet...
 I tested out a sofa bed option, it just wasn't comfortable.  I had a vision that I would lounge on it and read mags.  Never happened...
 I also built a work station, but the height was weird and I constantly had back problems from craning at the computer:
Then the room went coral for about a month:
And finally about a year ago I built a work area using a giant laminate counter and two IKEA Malms:

 The Malms started to buckle under the weight, not good! So that lead to where I am today.

I think this situation is going to stick around for a while.  I'm too tired to change it, and I think I have finally found a layout that is functionally pleasing.  The only thing I still need to do is make a new slipcover for my desk chair. That thing is pretty tired.

Happy weekend peeps!

(First 4 photos by Tabitha Sherrell- thanks lady!)

DIY: Faux Bamboo Moulding

I recently changed out the base cabinets of my office from IKEA Malms to new IKEA kitchen Sektion cabinets.  They are much deeper and offer a ton of flexibility with organization.  (I can do an entire post on them!) I also added a few homemade whiteboards using simple stock moulding for frames.

Everything is very basic and flat, so I spun on some ideas to hack them into something a bit more fabulous.  I have long loved the look of faux bamboo on furniture, so I did a bit of research and found a few sites that sell the actual moulding like this site here.  It comes in 34" lengths and runs about $8.50 or $12.50 per piece for the 3/4" and 1 1/8" respectively.  I needed over 60 feet for my project and many were lengths much larger than 34".  I decided to figure out how to make it myself- and I did it for under $30 for the entire project!  It was a bit of trial and error, but I think I got it down for you.  It also goes pretty quickly in the "making" department.  I made the moulding for the above cabinet in under 30 minutes, the more you do the faster you get.  The remaining workload... the painting, cutting and applying... are all things you'd have to do with the store bought variety.

You will need:

-half round molding (Any size/ length you desire... price shop if you can.  I saved $0.49 per foot by checking around with different lumber yards- that adds up quick!)
-wood putty (I liked Zar's- see pic below)
-stiff piece of plastic- I used an old rewards card from my wallet
-small brush
-bowl of water
-extra fine sandpaper
-saw to cut the moulding ( I recommend doing all your cuts before starting the tutorial.  The small bumps can throw off your 45 degree cuts.)

First off lets talk about wood putty... I found this one by Zar to work great.
I has a good consistency, not too stiff and not too runny.  

I did try some tubes with epic failure.  
It fell right off because there isn't enough pressure applied to get it to bond and this putty was very dry and gritty..
It's a big NO.
I did consider putting the Zar putty into a cake decorating tube, but you really need to make sure the putty is sticking to the wood.  The only sure way is by rubbing or wiping it on to the wood by hand.

1) Begin by gathering all your moulding and making all cuts.  It's so much easier to do this before the bamboo relief is on!   Be sure to mark the backsides if necessary so you know how to reassemble.
Next want to mark where you want to 
"add" bamboo.  I did mine every 5 inches because of drawer heights, but this is totally up to you.

2) Make a template.  Find an old credit or a store rewards card and cut two notches out.
These are going to make your bamboo lines...

3) Smear the putty onto the wood moulding by using your finger or a butter knife...
 It should look something like this:
When you start, only do one or two at a time since the putty dries quickly.  Once you master the technique you can do as many as you feel comfortable doing.  
If you find the putty getting too stiff or dry before you are able to manipulate it, try misting it with a little water.  You will also want to keep the lid of your container of putty closed when not in use.

4) Swipe that card! Starting from one side press the plastic card into the wood and drag it over to the other side creating two channels.  I liked to swipe towards me when working.  You can try angling the card down when you get toward the end, and be sure to go slowly.
Wipe the excess off the card.

 You should now have something like this:
If you totally blow it the first few times don't give up. Just wipe it off and try again.  It takes a bit of practice.  If you finding that you are missing the tops or getting random bumps try cutting the template a little smaller or try adding more putty.

5) Now get your water and brush.  Its time to clean up...

 Dip your brush in the water and run it along the edges and down the center.  This also helps create a nice smooth bond to the wood.
 You can also wipe off excess and shape the edges with the brush.  Don't go too crazy.
You can sand off small bumps and excess when it dries.  
6) Now let it dry for a few hours.  It will get very hard and should bond to the wood since the putty is made from pulverized wood and glue.  I was afraid this might chip, but I dropped a few pieces and they held up fine!
 I made a cabinet's worth of 1 1/8" moulding as well as several strips of the 3/4" moulding (painted white below)...

7) Once it is dry lightly sand with a fine grit sand paper (180-220 grit is good).  Be sure to sand the back sides too if any putty got on them.  (I used a 100 grit for areas that had a lot of excess.) 

You can prime and paint them, and then apply them to your project.

I will be adding the 3/4" strips around all four of my white boards to dress them up:
And  the 1 1/8" strips are going around the two base cabinets at my desk.
I used a nail gun to apply, but you can also use a strong adhesive glue.
 Be sure to putty the seams and nail holes, sand and touch up the paint.
 Add your hardware and your done.
This can be used on picture frames, mirror, table edges, doors, walls... 
the applications are endless!  
I will be bambooing the crap out of my office over the next week and I'll be sure to post better "daytime" photos.  (sorry for the sucky night ones)
Happy bambooing!

New Patterns

Winter is just ridiculous here.  Boston is buried.
This is my house...
My kids have had more snow and vacation days this past month than school days.
I'm a cranky shell of a human and snow is a four letter word.
 And I have developed an unhealthy relationship with memes from texting with snowbound friends,
a territory I NEVER thought I'd enter..
I've officially cracked and I now find myself cackling at pictures of giant snow penises.
Wait.  I always did that.
OK, so nothing new...

 One of the things I've been doing to pass the time this winter
-besides over eating and drinking-
has been designing some new stuff on Spoonflower
Dragons, splats and pirate skulls with a paisley tossed in.
I usually start by designing for myself- in this case the boy's bath- 
and then it grows into several color ways.  You too can be a snow bound fabric designer, 
so get busy and get on it!

 I wound up using the Splat in Indigo for the boy's shower curtain...
as you can see the "Bleeding Sharpie Fail" is still on the walls.

I still am trying to decide on the wall pattern.
Most of you know decision making for myself is not my strong suit, 
so stay tuned for like ever....

I'm stuck on these two:

Paint is no problem, I can change it quick. It's like decorating speed dating.
Wallpaper and I though, ugh.  It's a commitment thing.  I have to really really like it, and basically want to marry it- for a good long while.  

I also design this one, the Aztec Trellis in Valentine, for my living room ottoman:
Living room is getting some updating love slowly...

like super slowly.  
Go ahead and blink.You won't miss anything.
Up next are these chairs.  
They need some reupholstering, and I'm on the "citron or aqua" velvet fence.
Bases are getting gilded.  But at this rate it will be summer, but who knows.  
Give me another snow storm and I just might get crazy enough to do it.

and the winning color is....

Pale citron.
I just bought 10 yards of this fabric.  
It looks like velvet and it's kid proof (deal-sealer). 
Now for the real work....
Be back with upholstery pics!


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