Monday, April 29, 2013

Shut up negative committee with free printable

A couple months ago I saw this quote on Pinterest:

"Tell the negative committee that meets inside your head to sit down and shut up."

Since then, it's become rather my rallying cry. Any time I get discouraged, feel like I'm not doing enough or have a set back, it's easy to start listening to those little naysaying voices. Luckily, now I have something to say back: "SHUT UP, negative committee."

In fact, I say this to myself so often (or Doug helps by saying it for me) that I figured I should print it out and stick it on my wall somewhere. And then I figured I could probably find something that someone had already done.

I looked on Etsy, but I only found a t-shirt, which really wasn't what I was hoping for. So I thought that in theory I have some graphic design experience and in theory I could design it myself. The negative committee thought that sounded ambitious, but of course, I told it to shut up.
Here's where I get to tell you about two very cool sites that I use from time to time. One is called Creative Market.  It's a little like Etsy in that it has a community feel, but it's for independent creatives who make digital things like themes and fonts. This is what they say about themselves:
Creative Market is a platform for handcrafted, mousemade design content from independent creatives around the world. We’re passionate about making beautiful design simple and accessible to everyone.
Well, it's definitely simple and definitely accessible. Plus every week they send out a few free downloads of themes, fonts, even whole business branding packages via email. This is pretty much perfect for me, a totally amateur graphic designer. It enables me to download whatever looks fun and play around with it without having to sink a lot of money into expensive components like fonts and Photoshop brush packs and pattern packs. Even the paid products tend to be very reasonably priced.

To make the printable above, I used this herringbone pattern. I had to learn how to use patterns in Photoshop to do it, for which I used this super simple and wonderful tutorial. Then I downloaded a picture of an Eames chair (gotta give the negative committee an ultra-cool chair to sit in, right?) and sucked all the color out of the seat using the Magic Wand tool to select and the Paint Bucket tool to make it all white. The base was already black.

Finally, the quote itself is in Secca Std, from a website called My Fonts. This site is well-known to pro graphic design types, but for more casual users, it might be something new. My Fonts has pretty much any font you could ever want for any purpose. And a lot of them, like Secca Std, are available for demo purposes for free. Any type geek definitely needs to subscribe to their newsletter, which not only gives you a heads up on trends in font design, but also profiles some of the designers who make those fonts. It's also pretty entertaining even if you're not a complete font geek.

And though I designed this for myself, it seemed silly not to make it more widely available so here it is for you too as a free printable. I printed mine on regular printer paper and then trimmed it to fit a 7 3/4" by 9 3/4" Ribba frame from IKEA.

The negative committee didn't like that my printer is apparently running out of ink and that I was out of photo paper, but I told it to shut up about that too.

Friday, April 26, 2013

I locked myself out...of a traveling bar

Psst -- I'm on the DC Goodwill Fashionista blog today for Fashionista Friday. Check out what they had to say about my candlestick upcycling project from earlier this week.

Yesterday was another good thrifting day. I came away with a number of interesting pieces, most of which were totally out of my thrifting comfort zone, which is generally mid century modern ceramics. I bought some vintage linens, a 1966 Dymo labelmaker, a couple pieces of art, some candles...the list goes on and on. Like I said, a good day.

That said, the most interesting find of the day was this little traveling bar case.

See that lock there? It works!

Wanna know I how I know? Because the first thing I did when I decided to buy it was to close it up! With the key still inside!

Luckily about three doors down from this particular thrift store is a locksmith. I've used Baldino's Lock & Key several times for copying house keys and work keys. They're really good at it. Much better than any of the big box stores. As in, their keys actually work.

That said, even they had a little trouble picking this lock. I went through the kid at the front desk, to the manager in the back, all the way up to the old timer with the special set of picks, who had to be pulled away from his lunch. Whoops!

Hey, at least they got it open. Of course, it cost me $12. Oh well. Price of doing business.

And now it bears this:

And I thought marketing was a weird job.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Oh yes it's ladies night and the feeling's right

Most of my music preferences are my father's fault. Though in the case of the stuff my dad likes, it's not so much "fault" as "good taste". Dad introduced me to Dire Straits, Arlo Guthrie and Barenaked Ladies. Eclectic, yes. Awesome, certainly.

John Denver and, yes, Kool & The Gang come from my mother. Thanks, Mom.

For Macklemore, only I am to blame.

None of my taste in music comes from Twins Ace Hardware. However, almost everything else that I don't get at a thrift store (or Wegmans) does. Which is why I was SO EXCITED to get this email from them about their 2nd Annual Ladies Night!

On Wednesday, May 8th starting at 6 PM, you can enjoy a 15% storewide discount (10% on power tools and small appliances), refreshments from American Bistro & Coffeehouse in Fairfax, free massages from Dante Salon & Wellness Spa and free goody bags to the first 100 women. There will also be free product samples and representatives from Miele, Stihl, SodaStream, OXO, Mythic, 3M and more.

I've talked about Twins before. It's located on Main Street in Fairfax, which not only makes it the closest hardware store to my house, it also has the best, most helpful and knowledgeable employees of any store I've been in. If you're not quite sure what product you need or need a little advice, these guys can help. And unlike a certain big box store with a big flashy ad campaign, these guys can actually help. And know where things are in their store. And will actually take you there and wait while you pick out what you need. Yeah, it's awesome.

Oh, and did I mention they're dog-friendly?

You know I'll be there, partying down with the crew!

* I have not been paid, sponsored or perked for writing this content. All opinions are my own and any incorrect information here is my mistake alone and not the responsibility of Twins Ace Hardware. As always, check their website before heading out.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Gallery wall gone berserk cuz this is way more than wild

Okay, so that's maybe just a little dramatic. However, if you've ever been a vintage Etsy seller or an antiques dealer, you know that sometimes something unexpected strikes your fancy. And sometimes you buy stuff for the store, take it home, hang it on the wall to take a photo for a listing, like it there, and then can't part with it.

Guess which of these scenarios happened to me this week?

Did you guess all of the above? Ding ding ding! We have a winner!

Of course, this has happened before, most notably with this clock I bought back in December. You just never know what you're going to find. Or what you'll bring home, start to write a listing for and then stop because you just know that you can't let go of it.

This is my point today.

This very lame photograph of a very pretty picture started an avalanche last night. It even kept us from catching up with the latest episode of Castle (I know, right?).

I didn't like this photo for the listing of this very pretty picture so I decided to put one small nail hole in the wall and hang it up to get a better shot.

I should know better by now. I should never, ever, ever put anything I don't intend to keep up on the wall. Because this:

Has now turned into this:

Chester can't believe it either.

I guess the logic was that I had found a lot of great art lately. And if I was going to hang one piece to photograph it for a listing, I might as well hang all of them. It would get them off the floor in the office and it would be good to photograph them all together. Especially because there are a couple, like this green lady, that really only work as part of a gallery wall.

Doug is calling her the vampire woman. I think he wouldn't be sad if she went away.
Drop me a line if you want her.

Here's a wider view with more art and less Chester:

Basically, I got all the pieces up on the wall, stepped back and said, "Well, I'll be damned. That's the nicest darn thing I've ever done."

And that's when the furniture moving started.

I won't run down all the things I changed, and the big pieces didn't move (the sideboard that serves as an entertainment center, the sofa, the desk that makes the space taken by Chester's crate a little more efficient), but suffice it to say, it took about an hour of switching things around to make this all work.

And it's still not quite done. I used an existing screw to hang the large painting in the corner and it needs to go either higher or lower and in towards the corner so it's not competing with the huge Marshall Studios lamp and shade. I'd add a few little pieces of art here and there as well. One on the lower left over the Emeco Navy Chair, one below and one above the large painting in the corner. We'll see what I come up with. This kind of thing is all about evolution, right?

Part of my solution for storing Etsy product in our small space.
Also note the vintage fiberglass planter that stores dog toys.
Now, I know this look is not for everybody. It's super eclectic and not exactly minimalist. But I am totally in love. In. Love.

So what do you think? Hung any art lately that changed the space completely?

Linking Up To:

Friday, April 19, 2013

Funfetti cookies for breakfast

We've all had kind of a week, haven't we? National news as well as personal news has mostly been bad this week. I feel very badly for the families of all those involved in the Boston Marathon bombing and the explosion in West, Texas and for everyone who has been scared and hurt by these events. Let's just all agree to take it easy on each other for a few weeks, huh?

And have cookies for breakfast. Funfetti cookies, maybe?

Tasty Kitchen has this recipe, which I followed almost exactly. My only adjustment was that I added sprinkles to the top by dunking them in the above bowlful after rolling the dough into balls.

And at the 7 minute mark, I used the back of a spoon to flatten the cookies a bit, which recipes involving cornstarch usually call for, but or some reason this one didn't.

These were really calling my name this morning. They're kid-level sweet so the pairing with the bitter coffee was pretty much perfect.

Go on. I won't tell if you don't. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Look for less: Crate & Barrel Candlesticks

On Christmas Day, I tried to set a festive table. Yes, this was four and a half months ago. Yes, I had just gotten off an airplane two hours before from two weeks away in Florida and the Caribbean. So I needed an easy way to introduce some glamour to the Christmas dinner proceedings.

And we all know that easiest way to festivize something is to light some candles, right?

Well, I had one problem with that. No candlesticks.

The main problem was, I had fallen in love with these:

Dramatic, handmade, Greek Isles style candlesticks from Crate & Barrel. They still have a few available. But at a regular price of $40-60 each, the large, dramatic grouping I thought was so awesome was WAY out of my price range. Even on sale, which some of them now are, I was going to have a hard time justifying that purchase. So I just didn't buy anything.

Luckily, visiting as many thrift stores as I do on a regular basis, I knew that brass candlesticks are often easy to find and very cheap. So is spray paint (though at the hardware store). So I set a limit of $0.99 per candlestick and picked one up whenever I saw one for sale.

Most of these came from the new Goodwill in Annandale. A couple came from The Closet of Herndon.

Once I had acquired eight of them, I pulled out my trusty Rustoleum Painter's Touch Primer, a can of Valspar's Oil Rubbed Bronze and a cheapo tarp I keep around for spray painting.

I'll not cover detailed steps to successful spray painting because it has been done so well elsewhere (I'm looking at you YHL), but basically:

1. Scuff with sandpaper.
2. Wipe off with a wet cloth to get any dust off.
3. Spray primer in a thin even coat. Let dry according to directions.
4. Spray color in two thin even coats. Let dry.
5. Touch up.
6. Done.

The only piece of wisdom I have to add here is that if you can, you want to get candlesticks up off the ground because those nooks and crannies and curvy spots are hard to reach otherwise. I used an empty egg crate.

The only other problem I encountered was that it was getting dark so I needed to move them before they had completely cured. I had to be very careful not to let them knock against each other or the paint chipped. That said, now that the paint has cured, I've knocked them about a bit and that problem seems to have dissipated now the paint is bonded.

It's not quite as stylish as the Crate & Barrel versions, but let's take a look at the budget break-down, shall we?

Crate & Barrel
Six candlesticks in varying sizes: $350
TOTAL: $350

Thrift store version
Eight candlesticks: $8
Spray primer: leftover from another project, but otherwise $4
ORB spray paint: leftover from another project, but otherwise $7
TOTAL: $19

I'll take it. Now...back to Goodwill for some candles!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Can I buy you a drink?

Seriously, if this thing were human, I would be tripping over myself to buy it a drink. Is that weird? That's weird, isn't it.

Whatever. Look!

I've had my eyes out for gold bar carts for several months. They seem to be a pretty hot item on Etsy and it seems like every blogger and their sister has purchased one of the Society Social versions. So I figured if I could find one at a reasonable price, it might be a good way to try out putting some actual furniture in my Etsy shop. Plus, if it never sells, then I have a gold bar cart!

Frankly, this is a pretty nice one. Not only does it have such pretty filigree on the edges and a snazzy fluted handle, it also came with a matching mirrored hostess tray.

It works quite well with my Culver Valencia barware, don't you think?

That said, I have a bar project still in process and as much as I like this piece, it should really go to a home with some serious Hollywood Regency flair, which isn't exactly the look my place is rocking at the moment.

Believe me though, I feel deeply conflicted about it. This is one of those things that's tough to let go of.


Before I get drool on my keyboard, here it is in my Etsy shop.

Oh, and props to Style Me Pretty, which provided a nifty tutorial that I used to style the bar cart.

Sidle up, sweetie. I'll fix you a Sidecar.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A blogger, a crying woman and a Dutch Impressionist walk into a Goodwill

No, I don't know how that joke would end either, but that's where this story starts. Sort of.

Last week I was the victim of my own success. Obviously, success is a good thing, but almost literally every time I looked at my phone, I had a new Etsy order. That was NINE orders. And ELEVEN items. Luckily I've been keeping up with the thrifting so I have something to replace them with, but that made for a very busy few days of washing things, taking pictures, editing pictures, listing items, packaging up items and driving back and forth to the post office.

And then this happened:

I hung them in the office on some existing screws just so they're not on the floor.

Smaller one.
Bigger one.

That's a painting. Actually it's two paintings. Both by a dude named Theodorus Van Oorschot. No, I'd never heard of him either. And when I bought these, I was in a hurry so I didn't even bother to look him up while standing in the Goodwill. That's partly because there was a woman, clearly very upset, bawling into her phone in the art section about how she'd just kicked her lying, stealing, cheating boyfriend out of the house and her job search wasn't going well. But I liked them, I see very little thrift store art that I like and all the writing on the back looked like auction house stuff so for $18 I grabbed the paintings and ran.

The name on the front was not really legible at first, but luckily it's printed on the back.

I'm also guessing these need cleaning.

When I got home, I actually did what you're supposed to do and held them up to the light. Why? Well, original oil paintings by real artists (not printers with a touch-up crew masquerading as artists) have varying depths of paint. Some paint is applied with a brush, some with a palette knife, some is glopped on and some is very thin.

See how there are bare spots? Originals. Not prints. There might be some paint loss, but there are definitely spots that have been hit with a palette knife.

Then it was off to Google up info about Van Oorschot. Um...holy moly. You can Google him too if you want. He's a Dutch Impressionist who lived between 1910 and 1989. He's listed. Let's just say that this could get interesting.

I think the next step is taking a little trip to Weschler's (an auction house in downtown DC) on open evaluation day to have them looked at by a professional. Sound like fun? Who wants to come with me?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Mid Century Modern Ceramic Overload

One particular day last week I went thrifting, as I often do. The antique movie theater seats from last week actually sold very, very quickly so I decided to go looking for a new project, which pointed me back in the direction of the Goodwill in Herndon. I figured, why mess with success, right?

Right, indeed. Though I didn't find another project, I did find a whole lot of other stuff.

Now, not all of this came from the Herndon Goodwill. The Ben Seibel Iroquois platters and bowls came from a new place that I hadn't yet visited, ditto the Russel Wright sauce boat. And the Dansk divided tidbit platter and the Russel Wright warming tray came from Bargain Loft.

Ben Seibel for Iroquois Impromptu shape Lexington pattern ceramic china
Ben Seibel for Iroquois; Impromptu shape Lexington pattern

Russel Wright for Steubenville brown sauce boat in Black Chutney

Russel Wright Thermo Tray warming tray

But, yes, everything else came from Goodwill. And among that "everything else" was a freaking motherload of Heath Ceramic dishes. Oddly, Edith Heath is of no relation to me (my maiden name is Heath) and her plant is still located in Sausalito, California (near my home town of San Francisco), though she passed away in 2005.  The funny thing is, I have never seen a piece of Heath on the East Coast. I mean, yes, the new stuff pops up in boutiques, but vintage? Never. Or, perhaps I should now say, rarely.

vintage Heath ceramics
Vintage Heath Ceramics

Because I now have...a lot. I had to count it twice to be sure, but there's a total of 21 coffee and tea cups, 15 saucers, 4 berry bowl, 1 cereal bowl, 3 dinner plates and one random bread plate. Heath is still in business, by the way. They even have a very nice website. Because I'm not sure I'm accurately conveying the degree of my excitement about this, here... !!!!!!!!!!!

And that's not all. Oh no. I also found 4 Metlox Poppytrail cereal bowls and 4 bread plates, a Franciscan Madeira line creamer, 2 1970s Hall China soup bowls, a Buffalo China sugar bowl, complete with lid and what I believe are three Taylor Smith Taylor Pebbleford bread plates.

Metlox Poppytrail plates and bowls

Hall soup bowls and Taylor Smith Taylor Pebbleford plates

Buffalo China sugar bowl and Franciscan Madeira creamer

My best guess is that someone who had an antique booth either decided to go out of business or passed away because a lot of the pieces had leftover booth tags on them. And the collecting pattern ran toward California pottery of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. There was also a fair bit of Hawaiiana and tiki stuff, though that's not really my thing and so I have a hard time judging what's vintage. In fact, seeing it all typed out makes me wonder if the person hadn't migrated here from California at some point given the West Coast bias.

I'm sorry that all of this wonderful stuff ended up in the Goodwill, but I like to think whoever is behind all of it would have loved to know that it ended up in the hands of someone who saw it for what it was.

Much of this will appear in my Etsy store in the near-ish future though I will probably keep a souvenir or two from this remarkable day.

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