How Inspiring!

How many of you keep an inspiration book for decorating? It's the best thing I've done. You know how, sometimes when you see an adorable new idea, you can almost get stressed out, thinking "How am I going to ever make something that cute?" Well, maybe you don't get that feeling, but I do!

Now I just tear the page out of the magazine, or save it digitally if I see it online. Then I can always go back and shamelessly copy it, on my own time. Here are a few of my favorites:

Adorable Pottery Barn wreath! Not paying for it though...

image from PotteryBarn.com

I grabbed a glue gun, some moss in a bag, and a Styrofoam wreath. Ta Da! (Read about the wreath-making here.)

I have always loved this dresser, in an image torn out of Country Home magazine before it went under (the magazine, not the dresser):

image from Country Home, November 2008

Here's my renovated knock-off version (you can read more about it here):

How about a Ballard Designs "laundry" sign, with a $45 price tag? No thanks.

image from BallardDesigns.com

Here's my version of the laundry sign (that my husband made for me, using wooden letters from JoAnn's and some scrap wood). Probably cost $15 total. Click here to read more about it!

Here's one of the first inspiration pages I ever saved. It's dated October 2003. I loved the kitchen, and especially the "Eat, Drink and be Merry" sign.

So I made my own version, using a French phrase ("Let the Good Times Roll!"). It hangs above my kitchen sink just like my inspiration photo:

This next one, I admit, it's origin I can't recall. Somewhere online. Undoubtedly it's someone's home, and if that someone happens to be you, please tell me so I can credit you. Does it help you to know how much I love your family room, whoever you are?

You may not initially see the inspiration, but I loved how the photo frames above the couch are kind of hodge-podged, different colors, shapes, sizes. That's the look I was going for in my upstairs hallway. I am on the lookout for more frames at Goodwill.

Most of you probably keep an inspiration file anyway. But I just thought I'd show you, truly, how many of my ideas are pilfered. And as my parents used to tell me when my younger sister "copied" everything I did: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Get over it.

Have a great day!


Stains Aren't Always Bad

Have you tried using stain in your projects lately?

I recently bought this antiquing polish at Michael's. It has been so fun to experiment! Take, for example, this mirror that I bought at Goodwill:

I spray painted it gold, but then it was, you know, too gold. So I used some of the antiquing polish to tone it down. Like the result?

I also had this sign in my kitchen that I hand painted years ago. I tried to antique it with sanding, but it just wasn't doing the trick.

So once I had the antiquing polish out, I started attacking everything I laid eyes on. See the difference?
Next was this barn wood frame that I painted a pale blue. Just rubbing a little antiquing polish over the top really gave it some great depth.

Same with this gold frame. I love how streak-y it looks now:

Give it a try sometime! Wet a paper towel and wring it out, then just blob a little antiquing polish on there. Rub it onto your frame or furniture piece or whatever you want, and then be ready with a dry paper towel to blot and tweak. Play around with it until you get the look you want!

Pretty cheap thrill, huh? (For us decorating dorks, at least!)


The Queen Bee Book Review, Part I

I have been on a house-related book kick lately. Julia from Hooked on Houses posted about a few books that she loves, and I took her advice and checked them out. (I have a hard time sleeping at night, which is when I get a lot of reading done! Can anyone relate?)

This first book is hilarious, and totally worth a trip to the library. It's one of those books that you can pick up at odd hours, and just read little snippets as you have the spare time. Each chapter is short and topic-specific: one is just about decorating kids' rooms, or maybe just how to arrange books and knickknacks. I was totally hooked!

In one chapter, the author writes about her friend, Lisa, who had an empty room in her house for which she couldn't decide on furniture:

"My husband doesn't know what's wrong with me," Lisa continues. "Every day he asks, 'Why don't you you buy some furniture?' I feel so inadequate."

I nod sympathetically, though I can't recall a moment in my marriage when my husband has ever said, "Why don't you buy some furniture?" That would be rather like letting a bear loose in a butcher shop. Instead I flash on the two long years our living room remained unfurnished, unless you count the Barbie Jeep and the fake ficus.

"It's so embarrassing," I said back then to my husband. "People think we have no money."

"They're right," he said. Sometimes his realism really bugs me.

See? Hilarious! (Not to mention the fact that I see my own conversations with my husband in this exchange. Anyone else?)

I have a few other books that I've discovered, all house-related, so I'll be sharing those sometime soon! Let me know if you try one of my recommendations, in your (abundant, I'm sure) spare time. :)


Un-Edited Decorating

Sometimes blogging can give people an unrealistic sense of my life. The photos look pretty, everything is clean, and anything I don't want to show can just be cropped out of the photo.

Here's an example: remember this ceramic pot? I wrote about it here. I've always thought it was fabulous!

My almost-one-year-old baby Henry didn't think it was so fabulous.

Little troublemaker decided that Mama's pot looked better on the floor. And that the dirt looked better in his ear. (Don't worry, he wasn't hurt...just entertained by the big crash he made!)

So, I did a little redecorating.

No cropping. No editing. Just lots of dirt in my boy's ear and a nice, non-breakable pot.


Easy Snowman Towel

I can't believe I haven't shown you all this idea! It's the easiest little project to complete, and so stinkin' cute! Just think along the lines of "I-want-cute-winter-decorations-that-aren't-red-and-green-now-that-it's-January!"

Just go out any get yourself any little cheap-o hand towel. Then get yourself a few buttons of varying sizes.
Sew them all together onto the towel. Add a little scarf if you have an extra scrap of material, or maybe stitch on some stick arms or a hat.

There you go! Instant snowman.


Flannel's Not Just for your Husband's Shirts!

A few weeks ago, I was digging through my Google Reader and found a fabulous tutorial by Eddie Ross. You can see Eddie's original tutorial here. I bookmarked it, and yesterday was the day to actually give it a try!

I've been looking for some cute things to jazz up my house for winter, since the Christmas twinkle is gone. These adorable little flannel-covered guys seem to do the trick!

So here's what you do. Start with some flannel shirts. I got mine at Goodwill for a few dollars a piece. Seems like it's better if they're 100% cotton; Eddie says you get fewer loose threads that way. I also bought some Styrofoam balls at Michael's. Mine are 3 inches in diameter, but you can go bigger or smaller, whatever floats your boat. The last thing you need are regular old straight pins.

Sit yourself down with a good movie and start cutting strips of the flannel. For my project, I ended up with strips about 9-10 inches long and about 1-1.5 inches wide. Just play around with them until you get the size you need, then use that one as a template.

Grab a few straight pins and anchor the material to the ball. Two pins oughtta do it.

Wrap the material around tightly. Then take two more straight pins and anchor it down again. I tried to cover first set of pins with the material as I did this, so I didn't have pins hanging out all over the place by the end.

Now start again and wrap another strip of material cross-wise. Anchor it again with more pins.

You can probably see from my photo above that I eventually needed four strips of material per ball. This, of course, will vary depending on the size of the ball and the width of the material.

But when you're done, you have these cute little things that look kind of wintery without being all Christmasy.

I have mine sitting in a little bowl in my front room. Next Christmas I could see myself using these in my holiday decorating (adding hooks to make ornaments to hang on a little rustic-looking Christmas tree, for example?). Or I may just save them as something fun to take out when I am packing away all the nutcrackers. Either way, I love them!


Thank You!

OK, hold on.

Nope, that's not it. Let me get this thing in focus.

Oh crap. Where's my head?

Alright, well, you get the idea.

Seriously, thank you so much for your comments regarding my last post. It was so helpful to hear where you all are coming from. If any of you have ever wrestled with some of these blogging issues (and from your comments, I know you do!), I highly recommend reading everyone's responses to me! So gracious, so kind, and so honest. Just what I needed!

So here's my takeaway from all this: I am still going to blog about my home and decorating and crafting, with a splash of my "real" life thrown in there so you know I have dirty dishes on the counter, most likely just pushed out of the way for a photo of something I've spray painted. I am going to let myself off the hook for feeling like I have to respond to every comment and generally be "super-blogger." I am going to be happy that I get to share my ideas with you all, and that you enjoy coming here and tweaking my ideas to fit your own home.

And most of all I am going to communicate how much I appreciate that you do come here, and that you share your day with me. As I read your comments all weekend, I felt a growing sense of freedom and excitement in sharing more of my projects with you, so watch out! It's amazing what a little grace can do, huh? Good life lesson for me, too, actually...

So thank you, thank you, thank you...from the bottom of my crafty little heart.


Interrupting Myself for Some Advice

I interrupt my usual house ramblings for this post!

I don't know enough about the blogging world to answer this question for myself. When I started "Buzzings of a Queen Bee" in August of 2008, I had lots of ideas and house projects to share. (I still do, don't worry!) But I always believed that an important part of blogging was not just the posts I write, but what I contribute to the community as a whole: read other bloggers' posts, leave comments generously, build relationships (strange as that sounds since few of us have met each other, but you know what I mean!).

However, since August of 2008, I have had Baby #2, and the somewhat predictable life I once led has gotten chopped up into lots of tiny moments of my day. This leaves little time for projects and even less time to be the commenting, responsive blogger I once was.

I blame these cute little people:

And sometimes I blame this, undeniably less cute, mountain of laundry:

And I find myself, when I do have free time, being drawn to the very projects that drive this blog:
Problem is, that leaves very little time to give to you, my reader, in terms of visiting your blogs when you visit mine, leaving comments so you know I care enough to be there, etc.

So my question is this: Which is more important? To be an on-the-ball blogger with lots of time to visit and reciprocate to all of you? Or spend my time doing the things that you like to read about when you come here? Which is more important to you as my readers? To have that personal connection with me? Or to be able to come here and maybe get a new, fun idea for your own house? Is it enough for you to just get the house ideas and inspiration? What really draws you to someone's blog to begin with?

OK, now that I have laid that question out there, I ask you to be kind to me! This has been on my mind for awhile now, because in a perfect world, I would have enough time for everything: my family, my responsibilities, my projects, my real-life friends and my blogging-friends. It really bothers me when I read your sweet comments (and I really do read each one) and I know I just don't have the time to be able to respond to you all. So I worry I am hurting and offending people and that's the last thing I want to do. (Yep, I also over-think things, in case you can't tell!)

Have a great weekend, and if you've gotten to the end of this post and you still have the energy to share your thoughts with me, I applaud you! :)


Remodeling Progress

Some of you have asked how our home improvement project is going...

If you remember, we are converting our upstairs loft into a bedroom. Here's the view as of yesterday.

(What? You don't keep power tools and a shop vac in your guest room?)

At least we no longer have a trash can in our hallway.

Remember this table that kept the Christmas tree from baby Henry's little grasp?

It now sits upstairs and I love it! We still have lots to do in the guest room, including trim, paint, and decorating. But, thank God, the drywall dust is gone and I have one cute area that I can tweak. It's starting to feel like home again! Hopefully I will have more to show you soon!

If I can just find the time in between caring for two little kids, I will have a finished guest room to show you soon. :) Wishful thinking, right?


Bedding Bling on a Shoestring!

Happy New Year!

Now that the holidays are over, I find myself wanting to spruce up my "non-holiday" decor. But, alas, my budget is decidedly "non-holiday" as well. Here's a few little things I've managed to do in the master bedroom on a shoestring budget!

First of all, I headed to Goodwill. Before you get all grossed out and think I am sleeping on Goodwill-sheets, take a look at my new dust ruffle! Our bed has an 18-inch drop, which is more expensive to buy in a dust ruffle. Add to that a strange configuration under the bed that means I would have to take scissors to my brand-spankin'-new dust ruffle to make it fit around the posts. I don't think so.

Instead I went to Goodwill and found a queen-sized flat sheet in a chocolate brown. I have no fear about taking my scissors to something I spend $3 on. I just cut the whole sheet in half and then smushed the raw edge up underneath the mattress. Instant dust ruffle!

I also had some extra material left over from when I made these curtains. A little time in front of the sewing machine was all I needed to come up with new cases for my Euro pillows.

When it came to sealing the pillowcases, I was way over the idea of putting in a zipper. Instead I just hand-sewed a little grosgrain ribbon to each side and then tied a pretty bow. I love it!

So if your budget is like mine these days (read: nonexistent), maybe one of these ideas could help you out!