The Creative Connection

Take two people who have never met in real life and put them in a car together for 10 hours and then make them share a hotel room and three days together.  How do you think that will turn out?

Well some of my co-workers were worried but fortunately for me…..fabulous.


Kim at NewlyWoodwards emailed me last spring after she had won tickets to the Creative Connection in Minneapolis and wondered if I wanted join in the fun.  Sure, we had not met in real life but had emailed and commented frequently on each other’s blogs and thought we would get along great.  Right?  So after phone conversations to make sure each other were not 50 –year-old men we signed up for classes.

We took fun classes like quilting with Camille Roskelley….


Creative Connection 2010

Creative Connection 2010 

And felting with Betz White……

Creative Connection 2010

Creative Connection 2010

And met of tons of fun creative people…..

Did I mention that the Pioneer Woman was there?

Creative Connection 2010

Everyone was a little excited.  And in our excitement, Kim and I were one of the first in line for the luncheon (insert joke here).  So we got really great seats to hear her speak. 

In our beeline to the front, we somehow found ourselves at the famous person table.  So while the Pioneer Woman was speaking, this was our view.

Creative Connection 2010

Don’t worry we tried to played it cool.

And then Ree and I enjoyed wine together.  Note to self: slip off the nametag next time.


All the meals at the event were so well decorated and creative.  Amy Butler and Mary Jane Butters spoke at dinner and I would share those pics but the lighting was really tough and they are blurry.  AKA I have a lot to learn about photography.

At dinner this giant burlap bag of amazing goodies was at our chairs.  Paint, fabric, glue, modpodge, jewelry etc. provided Kim and I an hour of ohhing and ahhing at the hotel.


But our fun did not end at the event itself.  We also enjoyed a little shopping of course.

Kim scored some great finds for her new old house at an salvage/antique shop.



And then we went to a place that I had been dreaming about since I knew I was going to be in Minneapolis.  A place that most of you will not understand my excitement about because you do not live 8 hours away from one with their very limited online shopping.


We met up with some other fun bloggers (Cindy, Allison, Suzanne and Allison) and had a great time together on my maiden IKEA trip.  I think my text messages to my husband were anxiety provoking to him in terms of the bank account that night.

“this just might be the promised land”

“i am thinking about a road trip to denver/austin/chicago/minneapolis with a large car could be fun”

“now we are off to the mall of america”




I will save my purchases for another post, but let’s just say Kim’s car looked like this on our way back to Des Moines.


I am happy to report that Kim and I were still chatting away when we pulled up at my car 5 hours later.  We had an amazing time together and I can’t wait to meet up again.

Maybe denver/austin/chicago/minneapolis ?

Project Plume

It is official….without a deadline I am no good at actually completing a quilt. 

Case in point- in all the posts that I talk about a completed quilt I always mention that I wanted better pictures but because of _____ I had to hurry and get it done and therefore all my pictures stink. 

And the fact that I have two half done quilts hanging in the craft room that may never see the light of this blog because they do not have a deadline. 

No surprise that my newest quilt was not any different in the “completing at the last possible moment” category.


But the good/bad news for everyone else is that I have no one to give it to as of right now…so I had a lot more time to take pictures.



If it was not a gift, what was the deadline?

So glad you asked.

I have mentioned the Kansas City Modern Quilting Guild before….but I have forgotten to mention that we are already on our fourth meeting and we have had over 70 people attend the last three and we have already outgrown our original space and Tula Pink is a member of our guild. (she is a fabric designer for you non-quilt people out there).  She and Moda were kind enough to donate 35 charm packs of her latest line Plume to our guild with the following challenge- Make a quilt with just the charm pack and 1/2 yard of any other single fabric of your choosing.  Backing and binding were up to us.  That is not a lot of fabric ……but hence the word “challenge.”

I spent a lot of time thinking about all the creative things I could do with my fabric.  And I had a lot of great ideas.  At least I thought so. 

But I was realistic about my beginning quilting skills and limited time.  And in the end came up with this which I think will make a cute baby girl blanket-


And here is what everyone else came up with (thanks to Shea for the pictures).  Obviously not everyone is a beginner like me because there were some amazing quilts on the Project Plume stage.  And obviously I need to get some blond highlights for spring.



On another quilty note….April is National Quilt month.  And because of this Sew, Mama, Sew is hosting tons of how-tos on their blog (like here).  If would like to get you feet wet with quilting, this would be a perfect place to start.  Our president, Jacquie, has done a lot of the tutorials featured there and I have learned so much just from reading them. So go check it out!

And finally…on my quest for a spring picnic I just had to purchase this-


I thought it just screamed picnic and I am planning on making an incredibly simple picnicing quilt (maybe backed with a laminated cotton??). 

But maybe I need to put a picnic on the calendar so there is a deadline….

Hanging Around

Ready for the last laundry room post?  Have I dragged it out long enough considered we started this journey a little less than a year ago?

But I know you have been waiting for the final how-to….the drying rack.

Like I mentioned before, it was totally inspired by Centsational Girl who was totally inspired by Ballard Designs.

And Derek was inspired by the pile of wood and all his tools out in the garage during the bed-making process.  And possibly by me asking really really nicely.

So I showed him the great tutorial by Kate, told him I would like some molding around ours, and no hanging hooks since we already had tons of hanging space. 

And he came up with this-


I will not go into an incredibly detailed how-to because Kate already did such a great job.  And because I knew I was pushing my luck with another project in the middle of the bed so I decided to not act like the paparazzi and stalk him while he was putting it together.  Instead every time he walked into the house, I would nonchalantly stroll out there with my camera.  Shhhh…I am sure he had no idea what I was doing.  Especially considering he kept saying things like “do you need a picture of this for the blog?”

So here is the quick and dirty version-

1. Start with a piece of wood the size you want your drying rack to be and add molding to the edges to frame it.  Again, just like the bed, straight boards are your friend, especially since it will be fitting snugly next to the frame.IMG_0528

2. Then caulk around the moldingIMG_0530

3.  Build the actual drying rack with dowel rods and woodIMG_0531

4. Sand to smooth the wood and your caulk (if you are as bad of caulker as I am at least).  Also test to ensure that your rack fits within the frame perfectly without sticking.   IMG_0532

5.  Paint it.  I spray painted it.  And then I decided I did not love the finish so I painted it again with the ole stand by.

6. Assemble it.  Because of the way the frame is, we could not use the hinge and latch the same way that Kate did.  So Derek installed two hinges on the bottom.


And some hooks and chain at the top for support as well as to latch it closed.   Pretend you can’t see the wood filler smudge.  It is now all white I swear.


You just move the chain link to latch it (although honestly it is pretty snug so often it remains closed on it’s own)


7.  Hang it.  We just screwed it into the studs in the wall.  A little wood filler and paint and you could not tell.  (although you can in this picture as I snapped it prematurely)


Like always, this was a totally cheap project.  We had the majority of the wood left over from the bed and the dowels I had for some reason in the craft room.  And of course we had the paint.  So the grand total for some hinges and random wood was $15 at the most.  Much better than over $90 at Ballard wouldn’t you say?

And it works beautifully in the space as evidenced by the running clothes enjoying it…


Happy Drying!


Knocking-Off Furniture Find

I love to copy furniture pieces from expensive stores.  I love to build things. I love new furniture pieces.  I love can tolerate painting and staining.  So when I found Knock Off Wood this weekend I spent hours and hours perusing it. And planning.

You probably have already heard of Ana since she has been featured on Apartment Therapy and Young House Love, but just in case you missed it, I wanted to share my new favorite place for ideas.

Basically, she finds an awesome piece of furniture from Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, or West Elm, and then gives you the plans to make it yourself.  Like really awesome gorgeous furniture. For a fraction of the cost.  With no specialized tools.  And did I mention for free?


Go check out all the plans because there are tons, but the one I have my sights set on first is this baby-

I have dreaming about a canopy bed forever....  In our old house the ceilings were too I waited.  Our current master bedroom has the perfect ceiling for one, but since we have a a perfectly decent set of furniture I have still waited.  But our room is just screaming for one because everything looks so tiny in that much vertical space.

(more master bedroom pics here)

After finding these plans I am re-engerized in my quest for a canopy bed and would already be sawing and hammering except for one detail....Derek wants a bigger bed....which means a new mattress.  And with all the Europe trip planning going on a new mattress might not happen right away.  So I hope to be sharing my handmade canopy bed with all of you ASAP, but until then I hope you all can find some amazing plans for your home as well. 


Thanksgiving DIY Wreath

When I read the first week's theme of the NewlyWoodwards blog party-Dare to: Be Thankful- I will admit that I was totally stumped. Sure, I had tons of great ideas for future weeks but for this one I had nothing.

Dare to DIY

I have fall decorations out but really none of them are DIY and nothing is really spectacular. But lucky for me Martha came to the rescue with this easy and pretty wreath. I am loving the finished product and it completes my dining room decor. Just in time for Thanksgiving....

Best of all it was super cheap-under $7. I would write out the how-to step by step but Martha does such a fine job that I will direct you to read it here.

Of course I did not follow her directions exactly. Instead of all craft and gold paper I used a couple of colors. Some were metallic cardstock and others were scrapbook paper. Here are my colors (in addition to the craft paper) cut into squares:
In addition to the partial roll of craft paper, I used about 8 pieces of colored paper.

Also Michaels does not carry the 2 wire wreath form, so I bought this and it worked great-

Finally, Martha tells you to attach the leaves with a stapler. I started this way and it could be because my wreath form had more wire in it, but I was struggling to get the staples to close. So I would have to staple a leaf on and then flip the wreath over to manually close the staple. This was not fun and I kept stabbing myself. So I switched over to hot glue (so then I could burn myself) and this method was a lot easier as well as allowing me a lot more flexibility in leaf placement.

After I started, I compared my partial wreath with Martha's and realized that my leaves were too far apart.
It was so easy with the hot glue to go back and fill it in.

I love the finished product and how it looks hanging on the simple orange ribbon in our dining room. I am also to happy to report that is very sturdy as it got dropped twice during the hanging process and still looks great. Thanks for the invitation to the party and come back for next week's theme-Dare To: Entertain. I can't wait to see everyone's projects!

Also linked to It's So Very Creative @ It's So Very Cheri

Makeover Time

In case you have not dropped by the blog in past couple of days, I wanted to announce that we have gone through a makeover. Yeah! If you have dropped by, you have seen the work in progress and you should look again at the somewhat finished product.

Thanks to Ellie at Rainy Day Templates, I was able to update the look of the blog very inexpensively and then use my own limited knowledge of html to add in some other pieces that she so kindly set up for me. In the coming weeks I am going to update some before/after posts with more detail and add some more links at the top, but for now I am loving the new design and am hoping that it makes navigation very easy.

So come out from behind your readers, take a peek and let me know what you think of the new look!


I Love These Chairs!

I love the designer Angelo Surmelis on HGTV's Rate My Space. He does great designs and on top of that he seems line a genuinely great guy. His show is on my DVR list. Also, his blog is one of the ones on my Google Reader and last night he posted about his new furniture line here. I love it! The pieces are so stylish but affordable. Here is one of my favorites:
from Design Geek Blog-lots more pics on his post

According to the post they will be available this summer on Overstock. I really wish that these would have been an option when we were looking for a piece for out master bedroom. I wanted something with a pattern but everything we saw was either an ugly pattern or too expensive. I love this entire line and really appreciate his commitment to making them inexpensive. He is very talented and I hope that his new line will be very successful. Go check it out over on Design Geek!

Mailbox Surprise

Neighborhoods in our area do not have mailboxes at each house. Each street has a big box and you have key for your box. It brings back memories of apartment living. There are also two big boxes that the mailman puts your packages in if you happen to have them and then puts that key in your mailbox. So when I opened the mailbox today and saw the key I was excited. I was even more excited when I opened that box and inside there was not just one, but two packages with my name on it.

Package 1 had some books I had ordered from Amazon.

Since I am trying to advance my sewing skills past curtains and pillows to skirts and dresses I decided I needed some help and these babies got great reviews on Amazon. I can't wait to really spend time with them and make some new summer clothes. I started to work on a pattern last night......still have a ways to go.

I went back and forth about admitting I am trying a pattern since my first attempt will probably suck. But this way at least I can provide you with some laughs.

OK back to package #2-

This baby I actually won. That's right, my first contest I have ever won (besides the Safe Driving Rodeo in high school....but that is another story). One of my favorite blogs, Decorno, had a contest to send in your biggest decorating dilemma. I sent in our master bathroom which is missing from the before and afters pics on this blog because it is still hideous. When I first got the email that I won at first I was honored. But then I thought, "Should I really be proud that our bathroom won for the biggest decorating dilemma....especially considering how many submissions she must have received....I mean it's ugly but geez I did not think it was that bad." Anyway this book was my prize for having the ugliest bath. I would post some pics for you to rate it's ugliness, but I will save them when they get featured on her blog and see what everyone suggests.

In the meantime I am loving this book. And not just because I won it, it is really giving me the itch to try some more daring colors.....and shhhhhh maybe even repaint rooms that have already been painted.

This bright color itch started at a young age when I grew up in a house of white. My mom will readily admit she is afraid of color and I was constantly begging to paint color on the walls. When Derek and I got our first house and I had free reign over color choice, I went all out. Red in the living room, burgundy in the kitchen, citron in the bathroom, mint in the guest room, and bright yellow in the master. All the colors of the rainbow.... I then evolved in my color choices and slowly repainted some rooms. I also learned that maybe neutrals had their place as well. So when it came time to pick paint colors for our new house, I grabbed my trusty paint deck but tried to keep my love for bold and deep colors under control. I think I did a pretty good job and really thought I had matured and moved past that phase until I started to flip through pages of this book this afternoon. I regressed.....

When I opened it I was expecting a lot of neutral colors...which there were but there were also a lot of bold ones. There are tons of paint swatches and pictures of painted rooms. At the end of the book, the colors are also divided by room and by color family. I would scan and post some of the awesome pictures but the copyright police might not like that.

I have a new inspiration manual for paint color....all thanks to our ugly bathroom (which now thanks to this book I am thinking black walls to compliment white tile...hmmmm).

Here goes nothing......

So I have been contemplating joining the blog world for a couple of months now and have decided to take the leap. Why you ask?

Why finally join the blog world when I can barely take enough time to ever update my status on facebook? Why blog since spelling/grammar/proofreading is not necessarily my strongest area? Why take the time to write posts that only my mother will take the time to read? Do I even have anything interesting to write about?

At least these were the questions I was asking myself......

I have decided to take the plunge is a couple of reasons. First, I enjoy being creative and currently do not have any outlet to share this with the world. I am a school psychologist by day that job does not satisfy my addiction to design, gardening, and DIY projects. I spend so much time researching DIY projects, inspiration photos and how-tos online that I hope adding my personal experience could be helpful to someone else. Also since I suck at phone calls and facebook, I hope that this will give me an opportunity to provide family and friends updates on our life. My friend Sarah has also been urging me and I finally gave into the peer pressure (so maybe she will actually read it too).

When I tried to think of a clever title I had lots that did not make the cut (or were taken by someone more clever and faster than me). Most of my interests involved the house but titles involving DIY projects and home design were too narrow since I also love other things like gardening and crafts. Although DIY-Manic almost made the cut-get it like dynamic but has DIY and Manic involved since I love those types of projects and I am a psychologist-not funny to anyone else but me and possibly insulting to people with Bipolar disorder so it was crossed off the list. When I thought about the common characteristics of all my interests (at least the ones I plan to blog about-I will spare everyone with my weird interests like watching COPS) they all involved something that was pretty/beautiful/creative. So I finally settled on the title of "anything pretty" since that will encompass everything I plan on writing about.

So here is my vision for my blog-lots of before and after pictures since we are currently updating our house room by room after finishing our previous house, detailed how-tos from projects we have completed and will be doing, inspiration pictures, gardening successes and failures, life updates, craft projects etc. Hopefully it will helpful and somewhat entertaining. Thanks for reading!