Crafting & Art

The Big Two Nine

Now that all the birthday bid-ness is over I can tell you guys all about it. It was sweet. Turning 29 didn’t really feel any different than the past few b-days and it involved everything from a foot massage with shaving cream (John mistook it for the lotion bottle) to Clara taking her “first crawls.” Holy cow it was amazing. Everyone, including the doc, thought she’d just go straight to walking since she has been scooting around on her butt for a while – and even recently started pulling up. But lo and behold she decided it might be fun to give crawling a go (you know, just for kicks) and we even caught it on video:

So yeah. Baby, baby, baby. Sorry if that’s all I talk about but Clara is kind of awesome. Haha. It was the best present ever.

The weather on Saturday was around 70 degrees and sunny (which is funny because it used to always snow on my birthday when I lived up north) so we went on a nice long walk in one of our favorite neighborhoods (look at that gorgeous house behind me) with Clara and the dog.

We even saw turtles in the river (Clara loved it, Burger seemed ambivalent).

And the whole time I was sporting my new bun/thigh toning Reebok Easytone b-day sneaks that the hubby got me. Oh yeah, I’m styling.

I begged for them and he humored me. They actually didn’t kill me at all during or after the first three mile walk that I did in them. But the next day I did the same thing and I needed a serious break afterwards. So yes, they do actually burn the buns and legs after a while (although my first trek with them made me think they were all hype, my Reeboks had the last laugh).

What else. We went out to a nice little sushi dinner (we have a thing for it)…

… and I got some pretty fun stuff from J and the fam. Beyond my tush toning Reeboks John also got me an awesome book called Love Life (from a local gift store named Mongrel) with a perfect greeny-yellow cover.

Not that you should judge a book by its cover, but it never hurts if it looks as good on the outside as it actually is on the inside. We mentioned a while back that sometimes we struggle with balance (since the internet is a 24/7 thing, sometimes it’s hard to draw the line and unplug) so the book is chock full of couldn’t-be-more-true reminders, like:

But enough philosophical stuff. What is it about birthdays that make you evaluate where you’ve been and where you’re going? Oh yeah, the whole “I’m aging” thing. We were just joking that we’ll have to change our blog name to Middle Aged House Love. Haha. Somehow it doesn’t have the same ring. Anyway, now for the fun stuff. Look at the home-related booty I got from John’s awesome sisters. We always do “wish lists” when it comes to gifting each other (which makes it easier on the buyer and pretty sweet for the receiver) so I moseyed around the world wide web in search of a few prints that I’d love to add to our soon-to-be-expanding frame gallery in the hallway, and found these beauties:

That one’s from here (we love a good road trip) from John’s sister Katie. And John went for extra credit. I begged for those Reeboks and thought they’d be the extent of my gift, but he also surprised me with this adorable bee print (we have a thing for bees too).

So I can’t wait to hang all of my new prints among family pictures and keepsakes in the hallway. Pics when we knock more holes into the other side of the wall and hang that pile of Ikea frames that’s still sitting in the corner of the kitchen. Someday. Oh and my sweet friend Heather sent me these lilies out of the blue:

I love them so much and especially adore that she specifically picked out the lime green vase because she knew I’d flip for it. Affirmative Heather. I went crazy oohing and aaahing and still find myself walking in from the other room just to “visit” my bouquet every hour or so.

So overall, birthday number 29 was awesome and life is good. Who the heck knows where I’ll be when I turn 35, or even 30. I’m just trying to make it count, without going so crazy that I forget to enjoy the little things like baby snorts and puppy sniffs. Man am I still hormonal from birthing Clara 10+ months ago? Sorry if this post is all sorts of personal and corny. I guess that’s just me these days.

Pssssst- For anyone who has asked how we organize Clara’s toys or inquired about the big brown basket next to our sectional, click here to check out our BabyCenter post for the mind-numbingly simple “dump & cover” toy storage system that’s rocking our world.

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The Hallway Full Monty

We’re back with pics of our hallway that we “wallpapered with frames” for lack of a better description. We think it created some pretty quick dimension and interest that’s sure to be fun for the whole family. Literally. We love that we can work in drawings by Clara, class pictures, and photos of favorite vacations for the whole family to enjoy.

As for how we did it, you saw how I cut out little newspaper templates for all of the frames that we already owned (we actually had a lot of them from various arrangements in our first house, seen here, and even had a few unused ones snagged on sale a while back that were begging for some action). So we just taped up all of our pre-cut templates with a few of the larger ones staggered in the middle (to ground things) and built things out from there, placing most of the smaller frames around the perimeter for some subtle balance. We shifted things around a little, stepped back, went back in and moved stuff around, and stepped back to look at everything again. This happened about ten times with smaller and smaller tweaks until we decided we liked it. But we still wanted to sleep on it and study it one more time the next morning before breaking out the hammer (hence this post about that first phase of the project).

Yesterday we mentioned that The Washington Post scooped us by sharing this shot of our frame-riddled hallway here:

We try to stay as real-time as possible, but we also like to take a ton of after pics and write a big wordy post for ya, so it can take a few days from project completion to post publishing. If only we had a live camera feed going 24/7. Just kidding, my nightmare is to get caught picking a wedgie on camera. It’s why I never auditioned for the Real World (side tangent: John actually sent in an audition tape once when he was 19).

Anyway, so when we woke up the next day and agreed that we still liked the proposed frame placement, it was time to lay out all of our frames on the floor of the dining room in the same arrangement, just to check if some of the actual frames conflicted (since all we were looking at on the wall were their outlines and not their actual styles). Of course we ignored the art since most of it would be switched out anyway.

The frames all looked just fine together, so we decided to bite the bullet and grab the hammer. It was hangin’ time (here’s where a lot of MC Hammer was sung). Since our newspaper templates were still up on the wall, it was actually really easy to hang stuff. We just measured how far down from the edge of the frame that our wire, hook, or other hanging device was and just marked a centered “x” right on each template (the horizontal line is the measured center of the template, and the x below it is the spot where the nail should actually go to catch the wire or hook so the frame hangs in the right place).

Then we just hammered directly into the “x” in the template…

… and pulled the template off the wall to reveal a lone nail waiting for a frame (even though it looks like a jacked up hole, that’s just a tiny bit of paper caught above the nail that we easily removed with a finger flick).

We slowly worked our way around the wall using this method. It probably took an hour or so.

Sadly our old plaster walls don’t work with 3M Command hooks or velcro alone (since that’s always an easy way to create a frame collage without making any holes) but we do plan to add heavy duty Command velcro to the lower frames that may be within Clara’s reach when she starts toddling around. She’s a pretty docile girl who definitely seems to listen when we ask her to be gentle (when petting Burger for example) so our plan is to sweetly request that she be nice to the frames and “look with her eyes” and we might even try the “you can only touch them with one finger” technique that an awesome varsity mom shared with us a few days ago (she said it actually works!). But of course if we think those few low frames ever start to pose a safety hazard, or even just become too high maintenance for the way we live, we’ll definitely just get rid of them until the bean is a little older. Clara first!

But back to our process. After following our templates and hanging every frame we stepped back for a little look-see and frowned. Somehow they seemed a little tighter in the top right corner (which we actually really liked) and a bit too loosey goosey everywhere else…

… so we adjusted some of the frames on the left and added in a few little “filler” items to get the same full look that we had on the top right corner going on everywhere else.

So yes, there are probably ten extra holes in the walls hiding behind those frames from fine tuning them an inch one way or the other. Our bad. But they’re all out of sight so we’re at peace with it. They can just be our little secret. Oops, I just told The Interweb.

Once everything was hung we scavenger hunted the house to find things to display (since many of the existing items in the frames were horizontal images that were now hanging vertically or the frames were completely empty to begin with since we hadn’t used a few of them yet). Which puts the cost of the entire frame wall plus all of the “art” that you see (since that was also already owned) at 100% f-r-e-e. Except for this cool $16 frame from Target that we splurged on because we adored it’s “special capabilities” to store and easily showcase lots of kid art. We love that we don’t have to take it off the walls to change things out. Come on Clara, don’t you feel like drawing mommy a picture or two?

So this is our current arrangement with all of the just-for-now stuff that we found around the house. First here’s the view from the kitchen (which is why we placed the console table there, so it looks centered through the doorway:

And here are a bunch of other angles:

From an old Banana Republic ad with a llama (or is it an alpaca?) carrying sweaters…

… to a vintage milk cap that we found at our first house glued to a small square canvas…

….and a white paper key that I cut out of card stock (which I hope to replace with a DIYed ceramic-looking one)…

… it’s definitely a smorgasbord. And there are probably way too many photostrips, but they’ll do for now.

We’re actually planning a post later with more detailed shots of various items and directions for making your own stuff, like an arrowhead shadowbox for example. Or a long skinny wooden pinboard (still have to make that, for now we have a placeholder piece of card stock with a photostrip taped to it). We also thought it would be fun to take a picture of the wall every few months just to see what comes and goes (new Clara art? updated family pics?) and what always stays (the sketch of our first house’s lot? a favorite photobooth strip of the whole fam?).

We anticipate that at least 25% of the wall will be changing pretty regularly as new things steal our hearts – like a particularly good (or bad) fortune cookie fortune and Will Bower’s first birthday invitation. You know, the important stuff. We definitely feel like this gallery will be the most personal, eclectic, and fun display spot in the house. So while I’ve already asked for some awesome art prints for my birthday (which is this Saturday- woot!) we also want to frame everyday objects that hold meaning to us. From Clara scribbles to little love notes and even particularly funny greeting cards with chihuahuas on the front.

In short: We are so in love with the whole hallway frame gallery. It took a spot that was just a way to get from A to B and made it feel like a bonafide destination. We both keep finding ourselves being drawn to that wall like magnets, just standing there gazing at all the frames. Even Clara loves to stare at it. Ah gallery wall. How can you make us so happy? We’re nerds.

And surprise. We’re so enamored that we’re planning to “wallpaper” the other two walls on the other side of the hallway with frames too.

Here’s the pile that we grabbed from Ikea (feast your eyes on that pretty shattered fireplace tile).

Should be good times.

Psst- We announced this week’s giveaway winners. Click here to see if you’re one of them.

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