Sunday, July 24, 2011

Starving Artist

I have always been a big fan of art.  Originals, reproductions, old, new, abstract, contemporary, you name it.  Having worked at a frame shop for six years, you kinda get a good look at a LOT of art.  One of the first pictures I ever framed for myself was an 8X10 of Van Gogh's Starry Night.  I don't know why I was drawn to it, but the colors really spoke to me.  Since then, I've framed about a million pictures, most of which I don't have wall space for.  Last summer when we were on vacation in Massachusetts, Dan and I came across a cute harbor town where there was art everywhere.  There was one store in particular that sold reproductions and original oil paintings for incredible prices.  We weren't exactly in the market for artwork, but as a young couple starting out, it felt like something special to purchase together.
We bought this one frame and all because we were leaning towards a nautical theme in our spare bedroom.  We both fell in love with it.

This little guy was a steal and a last minute purchase.  I loved it because of the colors and it's a famous painting from around that area.

This one, of course, is the one I picked out.  Dan ended up buying it for me as an early birthday present.  I framed it and hung it in my apartment until I moved into the house.  Now it hangs in our black and white bathroom.

This weekend we went to the town Italian Festival.  A woman was selling the same kind of paintings that we came across in Massachusetts.  As soon as I spotted the Starry Night paintings, I was hooked.  The price kept going down the more she talked to me, trying to get that last sale in before the festival was over.  I told her I would think about it, and left.  And then the non-buyer's remorse hit me.  Usually it's when I buy something expensive that I shouldn't have, but this time was due to NOT buying something I SHOULD have.  So I went back, and it felt good :)

My new Starry Night, next to my old Starry Night.  Of course, Dan's first question was "Where are you going to put it?"  If you have a really great piece of art that you are really in love with, you'll find a spot :)

Whata Wata Fountain

Update:  If you've found this post via Pinterest or another site featuring DIY fountains, make sure to check out my new blog w/ a BRAND NEW fountain How-To!  It's a bit more advanced, but turned out really cool :)    -Jessica

I've had this idea in my head for weeks now that I have to have a pond in my backyard.  No, not a lets-get-a-bulldozer-and-dig-us-a-pond pond, but one of those little, trickling, miniponds you can buy kits for at Home Depot. Dan fixed up the flowerbeds and the yard so nice, I just felt like it would be the cherry on the top of a really nice backyard.  Not everyone agreed with that idea ("too much work" he says) and I was let down from my pond high quite quickly.  So the gears started turning and I came up with an alternative pond plan (an APP for short). 

I work next to an Ollie's Bargain Outlet (who's motto is, coincidentally, Good Stuff Cheap) and I often find myself perusing the aisles.  Well, I came across their pottery buyout section that was filled with those giant planting pots people put in their yards.  They were 20% off Ollie's discounted price....can't beat it!  So I bought three of the same color in graduated sizes.  My mom had picked up a minipond pump for me at a garage sale, so I was already well on my way with my APP.

I stuck a leftover wine cork in the drainage hole of the biggest pot and put Liquid Nails around the edge for a seal. 

I got a little ahead of myself and forgot to take pictures during the process of stacking the pots on top of one another.  But essentially, I turned two terra cotta pots upside down inside the two biggest pots to make bases.  The water tube, along with a threaded rod for support, were thread up through the holes.

It wasn't until this whole mess was together that I realized, without sealing all of the drainage holes, all of the water would just keep seeping to the bottom pot.  So off to Home Depot Dan went to buy me some Great really...that's its name.

I disassembled the whole thing and squirted this stuff into each drainage hole as I stacked them back up.


I added some river rocks to the bottom of each pot just to fill in some space.
But here is the finished APP....a pretty trickling fountain!

The water is a little murky because the rocks were dirty, and it's not like it's a babbling brook or anything.  But the water comes from the bottom and pours over the I'm happy :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Window Cleaner's Nightmare

So, one (but not nearly all) of the kickbutt parts of my job is that I get free reign of the giant picture window in the front of the store.  It was big, empty, and a perfect display place when I happened upon it a mere 4 months ago (WOW has it been that long??!).

My boss told me I could do what I wanted, maybe jokingly, maybe not (I can't always tell) but I went for it.  Here is my first endeavor - made with discarded carpet tubes cut to random lengths.
The flowers are actually pages from old carpet brochures that look like - you guessed it - carpet!  I got some seriously curious looks from people that walked by and had that "Wait...are those..are those carpet tubes??" look on their face.  Budget friendly design is the way to every boss's heart!

Window #2
Picture quality=horrible, but I think you can get the picture (haha what a pun).  The bottles are from the weekend before, ya know, just hangin out, drinkin some wine ;)  The sticks are - you guessed it again - STICKS! From my backyard, no less.  And I bet you'll never guess what the "budding flowers" are made of....go on....I'll wait.....
Plastic grocery bags. Yep, that's right.  I cut round circles out of different colored grocery bags and bunched them up.  Then I taped them to the sticks and stuck the stick (haha again) in the bottle and voila!  Total cost = 0, although I did try to convince my boss to write the wine off as a business go on that one.

Window #3
The quintessential summer window complete with red, white, and blue glory. 
Again, picture quality=not so great.  But the base is, haha, blue wine bottles (notice a pattern here??).  I made pinwheels out of Americana scrapbook paper and dowel rods.  The banner reads "Land of the Free" from the outside, and it even has a paper chain that had me giddy with childhood memories while constructing it.     Sidenote: I used to spend entire Saturdays as a kid making endless paper chains.  Although I don't know what my mom ever did with them, I'm quite certain, if combined together, they could wrap around the world, or at least the state of Ohio.

I must admit, this one is my favorite.  Plenty of rave reviews from everyone, and many "I can't wait to see what you come up with next" remarks from customers and coworkers alike.  One minor problem is that this display cost the Boss Man a whopping $25 - much higher than my previous 2 displays that came in at NOTHING.  I've been reminded that at this rapid rate of influx, my Christmas window could be upwards of $100 and that I may need to tone it down a bit.  Back to dumpster diving for my next inspiration :)

Greentastic Window Treatments

Ever since I was a kid, I had a thing for sewing.  And that was the sewing you had to work at on a machine older than I was.  It wasn't a self-threader, there wasn't a handy foot pedal (more like a lap paddle that hung under the table), and it couldn't be picked up and moved from room to room.  It was my mother's, and it was OLD.  Nevertheless, she taught me to sew on it.  I dabbled in my own clothing line at the ripe age of 12 and I made bag upon lopsided bag.  As I grew up, I moved on to smaller home dec projects, like pillow covers, curtain valances, and even a failed attempt at a comforter.  And that made me think I was a professional seamstress.  I even put "Window Treatments" on my J. Paris Designs business cards.  Silly girl....

So when a woman I used to work with mentioned her living room remodel was complete with the exception of window treatments, I jumped up shouting "ME ME ME!" (I should have sat in my seat like a good little girl).  I met with her and her roommate, I went back and forth to the fabric store to select swatches for them to approve of, I showed them books of different window treatment styles, and I gave them an overall price for my labor (this is the fun part FYI).  Then I said I would call them in a month.  And BOY did it take me every last second of that month to get those curtains done.  NINE of them....NINE full curtain panels complete with lining and tabs.  Plus, I am terrible at calculations and measurements (nevermind that I make my living measuring floors for carpet and tile).  So I ended up traveling to 3 different fabrics stores on several different occasions to get more of the fabric I needed.

Why do I get myself into these messes??

Oh, I know why....because I rocked it :)

There were 2 picture windows that required 3 panels each

And there were 3 windows with a single panel

I think they look great (small, non-conceded pat on my back) and they were very pleased with the finished result. 

I complained, I whined, I might have let a few select words slip out, but overall, it was a success.

P.S.  That's not to say I will keep "Window Treatments" on my next set of business cards!