Sunday, February 13, 2011


Now that the big stuff in the living room is taken care of (paint & furniture), I get to have some fun accessorizing!! Our colors are pretty neutral, with most of the furniture being dark brown and the walls being a simple blue/gray. I'm excited to liven things up with fun, bright colors and unique, handmade decor. Our new sofa is big and long, but empty and kind of boring. The solution: pillows! Here are some fun pillows I marked as favorites last year in anticipation of our new living room:

From Renegade Handmade

who doesn't love Chicago's public transportation system?!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Handmade Buttons by buckshotkenny

My favorite Forget Me Not project so far has been my custom CD sleeves. I love working with buyers to create personalized orders, and I've been spending almost all of my free time doing just that. One thing that makes my CD sleeves unique is the button and cord closure. I started making my own buttons out of downed branches last summer. I enjoyed experimenting with different branches and learning how to use all of the tools, and I loved the look of the finished, rustic buttons. I was making the buttons on an as "as needed" basis, which was fine in the warm weather. This winter I learned a valuable lesson, and I regretted not making extras.

Orders kept coming, and working out in the freezing cold garage to slice branches was not fun. Then, I ran out of branches. !! Where do you find good, dry branches when everything is covered in a foot of snow?! I had orders to work on, and I needed help.

I searched for wooden buttons on Etsy and found a few shops with buttons similar to my own. I sent out some convos inquiring about bulk orders, and, what seemed like just minutes later, I got a response from buckshotkenny.

Kenny is so wonderful to work with. He is extremely friendly and pleasant, my orders arrive within just a couple days, and his buttons are perfect. I couldn't have found a better seller! My first custom listing was up in no time, and it wasn't long before I was back for more...and more, and more. Kenny went out of his way to create the perfect button for my projects - size, finish (or no finish in my case), even the size of the holes! Each time the buttons come in the mail, I'm amazed at how quickly they were shipped, and I'm always 100% satisfied and impressed. I am so proud to use Kenny's buttons for my orders, and I always look forward to doing business with him. I can't thank him enough for saving me!

My orders of plain, wooden buttons seem ridiculous compared to Kenny's other products. He is incredibly talented! Check out his amazing jewelry boxes!

...Just another example of how amazing the Etsy community is :)

I do want to make my own wooden buttons once the weather warms up again, but I definitely plan on continuing to order from Kenny in the meantime, and for all of my large orders throughout the year. I figure that way I can enjoy creating my own little handmades without getting overwhelmed, and I can keep doing business with my fellow Etsy shops.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Living Room Makeover!

We kicked off Operation House to Home by making over the first room people see: the mudroom. Baby steps. Well, until the second step: the living room.

While the furniture was functional, the green vinyl was starting to get on our nerves, and it was slowly being destroyed by dog nails. The walls were white, and our style was...well, we didn't really have one. Time to upgrade.

I fell in love with this lamp after I saw the design at Backyards in Mishawaka on my first ride to work last year. It had been on my mind ever since, and I was ecstatic when I got my dream lamp as a gift. This lamp, from Eangee, is handmade out of cocoa leaves and bamboo! It stayed front and center in our minds as we put together the rest of the room.
For the walls we chose a color called "Dolphin Cove," a blue-gray that is not white but is just as safe. We replaced our green sofa with a long, brown sofa from Ikea and added a lounger to the end. The room is long and narrow, so this was an easy way to add extra seating. In lieu of the loveseat, we picked up a simple chair, also from Ikea. We chose the green cover to add a splash of color to go with the lamp. Unlike the big, bulky loveseat, our new chair leaves the front end of the room open and gives us with more usable space...or at least the illusion of more usable space.

I love how affordable Ikea is without having to sacrifice quality or style. The assembly can be daunting, but it's worth it! Everything we bought was assembled in just a couple hours. The sofa and ottoman have removable covers, so they can be washed, and, if we move or change color schemes, we can change all of the furniture for just a couple hundred dollars - the cost of new covers.

Our Buddha is something Matt found while we were visiting his brother in El Paso, TX. He mentioned liking it, but it wasn't something we wanted to fly home with. So, for Matt's birthday, his brother was kind enough to ship it up. Since that birthday, over two years ago, Buddha has been on the floor, leaning against a wall, homeless. Finally, he is hanging and looks great - a gentle reminder to stay calm and carry on ;)

There you have it. January's project is just about done. It's February now, and we still have a couple more ideas we're tossing around. For example, I'd like to paint the dining table and chairs; I'm just not sure what color. Nevertheless, I'm proud of our progress. On the downside...our new, welcoming, comfortable living room has turned me into a couch potato...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

DIY Eco Dog Toy: Daisy Goes Green

I recently read an article by Dr. Jon from about a noise dogs love...and people hate: water bottles. Apparently dogs go crazy over crinkling water bottles. I immediately thought of my crappy Victoria's Secret canvas bag that fell to pieces after just a few uses (not surprised), and, inspired, I set out to make Daisy a new toy out of its remains and a water bottle.

1. Remove the cap and the plastic ring (choking hazards).

2. Wrap the bottle with a tough material (in my case, salvaged canvas), inside out, and mark or pin the material so you know where to sew. Remove the bottle.

3. Sew up the side and across one end, creating an inside out pouch.

4. Turn the pouch right side out, stuff the water bottle in and sew up the open end.

Voila! Free dog toy!

I used a piece of the original handle to make a little handle on the toy for tug of war, and so far it has worked out quite well. Remember, it's a toy for your dog that will be used and abused; it doesn't have to be perfect. The whole thing took me 15 minutes to make. Try it out!

This seems like a good time to remind everyone that sometimes upcycling is a better alternative to recycling. Upcycling uses far less energy and resources than recycling, and it's fun!

peace & love