Watercolor Mugs


This is part 1 of some DIY holiday gifts I’ll be attempting. I finally felt the craft urge… it’s only been 9 months! I’ve been spending what free time I do have on photography, so crafting has taken a backseat.

Time has been going by so quickly that I find myself not doing the holiday or other gifts I usually enjoy, because the holiday is upon me before I realize it! This year, i wanted to make something for my staff. I thought these watercolor mugs would be just the thing!

Things you’ll need:

  • Plain white ceramic mugs – these are at the craft store, the dollar store, and lots of other places.
  • A plastic container that’s large enough to dip the entire mug in
  • Warm water
  • Various nail polishes of your choosing
  • Some nail polish remover and paper towels or q-tips (in case you don’t like the way something looks)
  • Toothpicks, bobby pins, or bamboo skewers – just something small you can use to stir things around if needed
  • Cardboard or a junky towel to put your mugs on while they dry
  • Optional: Shellac spray


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Ombre Dresser DIY


Months ago I joined a group on Facebook called Buy Nothing after circuitously reading an article about the project. So far I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see this great community of giving in my own little neighborhood: “Give where you live” is the motto. If you’ve never heard of it, check it out! Giving through the group generally feels better than receiving, but I was pretty excited when someone posted a dresser they wanted to part ways with, which had seen better days. I had ideas for that thing! (Plus dreams about not sharing one lone dresser with my husband anymore)

The dresser as it was kindly dropped off by a neighbor I didn't realize lived on my block.

The dresser as it was kindly dropped off by a Buy Nothing member I didn’t realize lived on my block. Her partner even brought it to my door, it was so nice and neighborly:)

At first I had a few different concepts in mind, but I was quickly waylaid by the fact that it had already been painted many times in its previous life and needed to be sanded down. Living in a condo with no immediate outdoor access, I was worried about how I would accomplish that. Luckily, a lovely friend of mine loaned me his sander which even has a little catch bag attached to it, so the sawdust wasn’t flying all over the place. I’m sure my neighbors appreciated sawdust not getting all over their balconies as well. (Thanks to my husband for doing about 75% of the sanding, too. My shoulder injury made it difficult to do it all myself.) Note: I did attempt to use some liquid paint stripper first, but I found that as it ate through the many layers, to get the last bit off was really tough and ended up with me gouging the wood with my scraper. I switched over to sanding after that, and it was labor intensive. Read the rest of this entry

Thrift Store End Table


I saw this little end table at St. Vincent DePaul’s thrift store when we first moved to Seattle last year – for $3! We had gotten rid of the super rickety table we used next to our couch (which had maybe collapsed once or twice…) when we moved so I figured this could be the replacement. I had visions for it.

End Table

$3? Sold!

Of course, it’s laminate which I was worried about how I would paint. Research suggested that instead of trying to sand it down, which would just damage the laminate, to buy some especially sticky primer. I got Zinsser 1-2-3 primer per some suggestions from other crafty folks online. I took off the back (a little panel only blocking the back of the top shelf) and got to work.

I originally thought I would make it a nice teal color, but as I painted with the primer, I realized I really liked the look of it remaining white and wood. So here’s what I ended up with:

Primer coat

Primer coat

Then I finished it with a “delicate white” eggshell paint that I bought for another project which I will post about later this month.

Completed makeover.

Makeover complete!

Later I can always change my mind if I want it to be teal after all — I still have more primer!

Sandwich Board: Chalk Paint


It’s Mental Illness Awareness Week, y’all. Well, it was when I first wrote this in October. I work in mental health myself, and I created these chalkboard sandwich boards for a special event. Added bonus: something to tie bundles of balloons to and catch people’s eye. We had these real estate sandwich boards getting cobwebby in the garage, which had been used for events before, with printed paper taped to them. I figured with a new year almost upon us, I would come back and finish what I never got around to posting.

Sandwich board


The husband helped sand off the remaining tape bits since my shoulder is still injured…and then he actually had to finish the painting, too.

Things you’ll need:

  • Sandpaper
  • Paper towels
  • Small roller (knap for smooth surfaces)
  • Primer
  • Chalkboard paint

As with any painting project, you want to prepare your surface first- that means cleaning, sanding, and cleaning again before you actually get started on the fun part. [Do as I say, not as I do.] Once that’s complete, prime your surface. Thennn you can finally start slapping on that chalkboard paint! Make sure you do two coats, and DO NOT attempt to write on it until a full 24 hours have passed. If you get antsy and started drawing on it early, you run the risk of gouging your paint and having to paint it all over again.

Chalkboard Sign


There’s the finished product! (pixels added for privacy and all that…). The best part is, they can be reused for other events.

Re-vamped Lamp


Happy fall! This is my favorite season. It was a doozy of a summer and it’s been 5 months since my last blog post. Moving (again), work conferences, family visiting, and an injury that has had me out of normal commission for 2 months now. With just 2 days left of summer, this past weekend I used one of the last warm and sunny days for some paint-related projects. We’re in a condo now and I’m not used to having such limited access to outside space. I had to make do with our tiny little balcony. Luckily I still had some extra large boxes laying around to protect my new patio set!

It's a pretty cute balcony even if it's not roomy.

It’s a pretty cute balcony even if it’s not roomy.

I bought this slightly hideous gold lamp months ago – when I bought the little wood table that I refinished for my office – and I have struggled to find a shade that would fit it for literally the entire 5 months I’ve been MIA.

Sad little (slightly crooked) lamp.

Sad little (slightly crooked) lamp.

For whatever reason it has a really tall harp (did you know that’s what the wire thing your shade sits on is called? Cause I did not). Funny story, there are very limited options available when you get past a 10″ tall shade. It has been a real sad look for our living room, with its naked bulb. I almost used my snippers to shorten it…then I almost gave up and donated back to Goodwill. But at the last moment, I realized you can buy different sized lamp harps at the hardware store. Der. Read the rest of this entry

Refinished Thrift Store Table


I’m getting settled into my new office and decided I wanted a small seating area in front of my (awesome, beautiful, bright) window. A month and a half later, I’m still kind of in awe of the natural light in my office. And there’s some great wildflowers outside one of my windows. I just love it!

I found this real wood table at the Goodwill for $20, but it had some deep gouges on it. I liked the spirally detail on the center post.

Gouges galore

Gouges galore

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From the (Archived) Land of Half-finished Projects…The Trunk.


Many, many years ago as a teenager I had this solid wood “hope chest” a family friend gave to me. I call it “the trunk”. I decided to turn it into a mosaic project. At the time, 15 or so year old me had a red and grey bedroom, was obsessed with Nightmare Before Christmas, and was just starting to flex my crafting muscles. I chose red and black as the primary tile colors, and made big swirl shapes that still remind me of Nightmare Before Christmas. I painted the outside a flat gray.

I really enjoyed smashing tiles for this project, too.  Breaking things is therapeutic. Especially breaking them with a hammer. Especially during some angsty teen years.

I worked on it for quite some time, slowly and not super steadily. When the time to move off to college came about 2 years later, it was 75% of the way complete. I had added casters to the bottom so it was easier to move and could be used as a coffee table in my college life (hah! Like there was room for a coffee table in any of my dorms!). I have lugged this trunk up and down all kinds of stairs.

In college I didn’t work on it much at all. A year after graduation I decided to move across the country for a position and a new experience… and the trunk wound up in my artsy coworker’s basement, because I didn’t have room to bring it along on the drive. She owned a house and as an artist understood why I didn’t want to part with my (unfinished) project. Bless her.

Three years later, I was back in my college town for my best friend’s wedding. My coworker asked if I could you know, get my unfinished trunk out of her garage while I was in town. (I can’t believe she waited 3 years before saying anything?!) Of course, I had flown in, so I couldn’t really bring it with me- I decided it was time to donate it or otherwise part with the trunk for good. An AmeriCorps friend of mine, Stephanie, decided she would not only take it for me, but finish it! I was so happy knowing it was going to a good home and not the trash heap.

And the best part is, she actually followed through. Here’s The Trunk, finished more than 10 years after I first started it!

My original color scheme.

My original color scheme, just red and black.

Grouting it was probably one of the hardest parts, though I can't claim firsthand knowledge.

Grouting it was probably one of the hardest parts, though I can’t claim firsthand knowledge.

Stephanie, “the finisher” as I shall call her, decided to add another color to brighten it up a bit. I can’t blame her…. my style now would be a lot less dark.

Can't believe it's completed!

Can’t believe it’s completed!

Tada, finished product.

Tada, finished product.

It’s satisfying to know that this isn’t still in a state of half-completion after all these years. Thanks Steph!

It’s interesting to look at this project now because more than a decade later, if I were to start this project now in 2014 my design ideas would be totally different.