Monday, January 31, 2011

Updating the Office: Storage Solution

Before I get to it, don't forget to go HERE to get entered into our CSN Stores Giveaway! 
I'll accept entries through Thursday at midnight and will announce the winner in Friday's post. 
Entry is so, super simple.  So get your hiney movin' and get entered!
On to business...
Love.
I am in LOVE with the subject of today's post.

We have an office right off the front entry of our home.  It has pretty french doors, big windows and I love it a lot.  When we first moved in 3 years ago, I had this shelving unit (originally white, we painted it black) for the long wall opposite the french doors.


I liked its simplicity and clean lines, and the opportunity to really accessorize the room easily with this one piece.  And it worked, for quite a while.

Then LIFE started happening:

It never really recovered after I took down the Christmas decor.
And it (this whole office, in fact) became one big, junky
catch-all for all the clutter I didn't want
in other parts of the house.

Like, I'm really glad we have this shelving unit up to
house this one, lone, painted branch. 
Thank Goodness.

 And hey, who needs file cabinets when there is this space between the shelves and the floor where we can just shove stuff?

Legend has it, there's a real nice desk under there.


Shhhhhhhhh.  I'm a printer.  Disguised as a pile of disorganized crap. 
Don't tell.

Hmmm.  Assortment of frames that don't go in this room? 
Check.
Lanterns shoved in a corner? 
Check, check!
Oh, and random pile of a scarf, dog sweater, old leather jacket and office portfolios? 
Why, Check, Check, and Check!


I didn't realize how embarrassing that really was until right. this. second.
Oy.

I needed storage and I needed it BADLY.
A place to house stationary, address labels and thank you notes.
A spot for scrapbook paper and Cricut accessories.
A designated place for decor that rotates through different spots.
And alllll the rest of the "stuff" that ends up in here.

I've mentioned it before, but for me the key to getting [and staying] organized is giving groups of items specific "homes".  If I know there is a place for something, it's eleventy-billion times
more likely to get there and stay there.
It's the key to keeping my linen closet looking like this every day.

So.  I needed enclosed storage, not just shelving.

Perusing my friend Craigslist one weekend, I found this guy:


You can see, his owners weren't really doing him any favors. 
But there was so much potential!
Solid wood, dovetail joints, 9-drawers (including one with a working lock) plus a cabinet with two shelves behind those doors.
And Thomasville! 
And the real kicker:
for $60.
I'll give your eyes a minute to adjust and take that in.
...

...

Ready?
I know, I about fainted, too.

Needless to say I jumped on it and yesterday Mr. V. and I
went to pick him up and haul him home.

Now he just arrived yesterday so this is
obviously just a first attempt at playing with accessories and such,
but here he is in his new digs:


[::sigh::]

LOVE.

I had originally thought I would paint him or stain him a darker color, but truth be told I'm loving this beautiful, rich wood.  For now, I think he's staying as-is.

But here's the part where I need your help.

We have 9-foot ceilings in this room, so there's quite
a bit of head room here, as you can see a little better here:

I've been thinking about what I want to do on this wall, but I know you've all got some great suggestions - so I wanna hear 'em!
What do you think?
Gallery [photo] wall?
Plates?


So while you guys put your thinking caps on and do all the heavy [mental] lifting on this one, I'll sit back and bat my eyelashes at this big boy for a while.
'Cause we're in looooove.  :)

Cheers,



Friday, January 28, 2011

New Giveaway!! Come On In...


We must be approaching Valentine's Day, because the folks at CSN Stores are feelin' the Love!

Our friends at CSN contacted me with another opportunity to offer one of my followers a little somethin' somethin' for just being awesomely YOU.

So just for being my Valentine, they're offering a $30 gift certificate that you'll be able to spend it at any of their online stores.
SWEET!

[Get it?  Sweet?  Hee. :) ]

Are you in the mood to give your home a fresh look for 2011? 
CSN Stores has furnishings and accessories for any style - from modern furniture and retro art, to classic lighting and tabletop accessories.  With more than 200 online stores under the CSN umbrella to choose from, there is something for everyone!
HERE'S HOW TO ENTER:

To enter the giveaway, become a follower of this blog and leave me a comment below letting me know you've done so. If you're already a follower and would like to enter, just leave me a comment reminding me of your Awesomeness.

The giveaway ends Thursday at midnight and I'll announce the winner Friday morning. Make sure you check back to see if you've won!

Good Luck!

[*NOTE:The gift certificate won't apply to shipping charges, BUT CSN has thousands of items offered for FREE shipping everyday! You can use this gift in conjunction with any of their sales or shipping offers. That's pretty cool.]



*Disclaimer: On the V Side is not affiliated with CSN Stores or any of their subsidiaries. I was not compensated in any way for this giveway.
But I'm totally open to that. 
Just, you know, FYI.. :)


I've got a few things in the hopper and am planning to take some pictures this weekend, so I'm hoping to be back starting Monday with a week full of new projects for you.
Have a GREAT weekend!
 
Cheers,



Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Talkin' 'Bout a [Real Nice] Revolution

So this post isn’t about decorating.
Or crafting.
It’s photo-less.

But if you can stand the wall o'text that follows, you might be inspired enough to do something small that will feel real good.  And maybe make a big difference to someone else.
Today’s post is a Call to Action.

We live in a time where people are awful quick to point out when they’re unhappy. You’ve seen it on Facebook status updates, on Twitter. On someone’s blog or a forwarded email. It’s about the service they didn’t receive. What they’re not getting. And why someone else is to blame.


And I’m tired of being a part of the problem.

I know I’ve been frustrated enough with a customer service representative over the phone a time or two… enough to ask to speak to their supervisor.


I’ve filled out a comment card with a less than glowing review of an experience I’ve had as a patron.


But this week I asked myself:
“When have you ever been that motivated to take those same steps when the experience was positive?”


The truth is, I haven’t.

And that needs to change.



Last Sunday I went to the grocery store for my weekly shopping trip.  I remembered the cheery woman who I always see on the weekends.
And how I gravitate toward her line all the time because she’s so darn nice.


So the next day, I took 2 minutes out of my workday over lunch.


I went to my grocery store chain’s website, and I sent an 8-sentence email about the woman who rang up my groceries.


In the email I said I appreciated that she didn’t just “go through the motions” and she talks to me while she’s scanning my items, but it never feels like she’s just trying to fill time.


She was genuine and friendly, and I appreciated it.


I said she was a nice representation of the customer service this particular company markets as a premiere piece of its brand.
I hit “send” and went about my day.


It felt good.

I thought maybe the email would get to the store manager, and she would get an “Atta Girl” at the start of her next shift. Everyone likes praise from the boss, right?


Cool.

Mission Accomplished.

I went to the store this past Sunday to do my shopping.
I saw she was working, and as is my habit, got in her line.

We chatted.  I swiped my card and as I entered in my PIN, I saw her make a face at the screen. I thought there was something wrong.


With a funny look on her face, she asked me “I’m sorry… but I see your name here – did you write a note? To the store?” (my last name isn’t what you’d call… “common” :) )


For a moment I thought something had backfired with the email.


I sheepishly said “Yes, I did – I hope that’s all right”.

And then she told me:


How her store manager gave her a copy of the email, and how it started her day off so wonderfully.
And she thanked me.
And during our conversation I learned that I always see her on the weekends because during the week she teaches kindergarten.
How that week she’d had a tough week with her students, and she came to work dreading being there, feeling a little down, and that note changed her entire mood.
And at the end of her shift, the store manager gave her a $50 gift card as a thank you.

All that, from something that took 42 seconds of my day.

It felt SO GOOD.


I thought it would result in a pat on the back.
Instead, she got praise, a glowing note in her record, and a gift that was of real significance to her.
And one she deserved.


It made a real difference to her and it cost me NOTHING.

So I’m challenging you to do the same.

Start today. Do one small, unsolicited nice thing for someone else without any motive other than making a positive blip on someone else’s radar.  Doesn't have to be customer-service related.
Do something for a friend.  Or a family member. Or a co-worker.
Or a stranger.
Just do something nice. 

Write a thank-you note on a napkin along with your tip to the waitress who brought you lunch.
Feed someone’s parking meter.
Scrape the snow off a co-worker’s windshield.
Hold the door/elevator/whatever for someone.
Send an email about great customer service you’ve received.

Then hey, come back here and share about it!

It’s a Revolution, y’all.
Let’s start a Revolution of Nice.


And I GUARANTEE YOU. It’ll feel GOOD.

Cheers,

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Stained Glass" Hearts

I feel about decorating for Valentine's Day the same way I feel about decorating for Halloween.
Um, generally I don't do it. 
The Redhead is young enough that she doesn't know what Valentine's Day is all about, but the girl is serious about her shapes.
 And with V-Day approaching, you can hear her sweet little voice shouting
"Heart!  Heart!  There, Mommy! Heart!" in every. store. we visit.
So I felt like I would be a totally Valentine's jerk if I didn't do something.

Enter Martha, stage left, to the rescue.


I saw these in her magazine a few years ago, and made them as decor for a Valentine's dinner I cooked Mr.V. when we were dating (On the real, that dinner had  to be decorated nicely.  SOMETHING had to distract him from the food. ;) )

The hearts are super easy to make, they actually look quite pretty, and it's totally something you could do with kids (maybe age 4 and up).

Start with a sheet of wax paper. Lay flat.
(note: it helps if you put a paper bag underneath this first sheet of paper.  Once you start ironing, you'll be glad you did)
Over the paper, choose your colors, grab a pencil sharpener and start sharpening so that the shavings fall on the paper.


[image: martha stewart living]

I chose the classic reds and pinks with a little tangerine for accent.
And a warning:  less is more when it comes to the crayon shavings. 
Too much and you get melted crayon all over your iron.  Not that I know that by experience or anything.  ;)
When you've got your shavings, place a second piece of wax paper over top, and gently press with a warm iron (no steam!).

The wax will melt and bind the papers together.
Let cool.

[image: martha stewart living]
Once cool, cut out your hearts from the paper, and hang with pretty ribbon or fishing line to create your own "stained glass" look for Valentine's day!












Cheers,


Pin It

Friday, January 21, 2011

Now That it's Organized... Let's Decorate

Remember this buffet that was so embarrassingly messy?
After:

Before:

Not sure why I subjected myself to that "before" picture again. 
That gives me hives.
Anyway.  Once I wasn't distracted by all the clutter in and around it, I couldn't stop staring at it.
Not because it was gloriously organized (ok, but it kind of is ;) ), but because without all the junk shoved all over it, I realized it was missing...  Something. 

I love that wreath, but had hung it there originally because it was more in line with the shelf up above. 
It didn't bother me before, but it bothers me now. 
I needed something of substance on that wall. 
Something to give it another layer in that great open space on that giant wall.

My oldest friend's mom had a chalkboard hanging in their kitchen, and every time I was over there, we were always writing notes to her family, or making our "mark" there.  Her mom liked it - she said it was evidence that the house was "lived" in.  I liked that.
I decided this would be the perfect place for a chalkboard of my own.
But I'm fickle and needed to decide if I was reeeeaaallly going to love it there.

So I taped off a general area, and we lived with this for a couple weeks.
Mr. V. thought I was nuts with my "imaginary decorating".


But, I decided YES!  That's IT!


I was all set to make a chalkboard on my own on the
cheap (nice piece of MDF cut to size by my friends at the hardware store, a couple coats of chalkboard paint and some trim. 
Paint, dry and hang.  Done.)
For about $12, I could build a nice-looking little jobby-job here.


BUT,  then I found this
The perfect size.  Solid wood trim.  For $13.
AND HALF-OFF.

Um, YES PLEASE.

I'm all about DIY, but the primary reason for doing so, other than enjoying it, is to save money.
Buying this guy saved me money AND time, which is darn-near priceless these days.

So I snatched him up and took him home to see how he fared over the buffet.




LOVE!
(PS do you LOVE the silhouette of The Redhead?  That was a Christmas gift from Cool Sister and I.Love.It.  So perfect.)


From there all I needed was a couple coats of Navajo White and some Command Picture Hangers to finish the deal.

After:

And once again, because I was taking pictures at night, the color is a little washed and tough to see here..
but it's actually a really lovely, creamy white that contrasts nicely with the warm taupe on the walls. 



And now I don't get that weird twitch when I walk by this space anymore.
Life is Good, Indeed. :)


Cheers,

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Revamped Footstool

Before I get to today's project, I have a couple "housekeeping" notes:
First, I apologize for all the changes to the blog over the past couple days.  We're in "transition" here and some changes are coming soon (good ones, I promise!)  In the meantime, I hope you hang in there with the changes.
I'm also in the process of moving the site to a new domain, so if you had trouble getting here today, go ahead and bookmark http://www.onthevside.com/ - in a day or so the bugs will be sorted out and we'll have a new blog home! (Don't worry, the lifeonthevside.blogspot.com address will still work, too.  I know some of you don't like change. :)  )

And finally, but certainly not of least importance, I just wanted to say THANK YOU!
I just looked over yonder [ok, yonder and down] -->
and it hit me that I have nearly 100 followers!
It doesn't seem like all that long ago that this here blog was being published for the very first time.
So I'm just super flattered and tickled pink, really, that you folks are interested [or at least feign genuine interest :) ] in what I'm working on.
So Gracias, Peeps.

AHEM.

Today's project isn't super-involved, just a good old-fashioned Before & After -so let's get to it!

Before:
Grandma's Footstool.
Very.....  Grandma.ish.

But oh! 
Storage!
Heyyyy there, how YOU doin'?

You can see the wood needs some freshening up.  And that fabric needs to go.
First step, remove the cushion.
This was a breeze, since the lid opens, I just had to remove the hinges.
Here's a tip when changing out hardware:
keep everything you take off the piece in a container with a lid.
You never know how much time might elapse between adding that coat of paint and actually finishing the rest of the project, so something like this old candle tin (it has a lid) keeps everything together.
 


I took the base to the garage and gave it a coat of flat black suede paint, followed by a dusting of oil-rubbed bronze for a little texture.
While that dried, I turned my attention to the lid.
I decided I wanted a little thicker cushion on the stool, so I added a couple layers of carpet padding I had in the basement courtesy of a generous family friend.
[Thanks Darlene! :) ]
Because I was going to be putting the new fabric over both the existing foam and the new padding, I didn't even bother removing the old fabric.  It was in perfect shape and not ratty or gross, so I was all. about. saving myself a step [or three]!
To keep everything together and smooth under the new fabric cover, I added a layer of simple cotton twill fabric.


For the top fabric, I used part of a drop cloth that I had lying around, left over from my Drop Cloth Curtains.
I liked the color, but wanted to add some visual interest.
I decided on some simple stripes, similar to this guy from Pottery Barn:


[photo:potterybarn.com]
I just measured and taped off my stripes like you would if you were painting a wall.
A good tip here is to stretch the fabric taut and tape down the sides to your worksurface so you don't run into any rogue bumps or wrinkles.


From there, I just added some black fabric paint and let it dry.


Remove the tape

From there I attached the fabric to the new, poofier lid using the good old staple gun.


Because the lid will open and you'd be able to see my handiwork and Frankenstein staples, I added some ribbon trim around the inside to hide the work.


And forgot to take a picture of that step. Sorry!
But it's no big deal. I'm confident you can adequately picture it in your head :)


And the After:





I'm not sure where his permanent home will be, but for now he's happy chillin' out in the guest room with these books.


Cheers,


Monday, January 17, 2011

Itching to Etch

This post comes with a warning:
Once you have tried this technique, you will want to etch
the bejeezus out of every piece of glass. in. your. house.
Consider yourself warned.


I've been wanting to try glass etching forever, and finally got on the ball.
This is part of my "Must Finish" mantra for 2011 - as Yoda would say, "There is no try.  DO." 




And who am I to defy a freaking Jedi Master? EXACTLY.

I decided to personalize one of my Pyrex baking dishes. 


 I've tried to use clear labels with my last name on it for when we take dishes to holidays, or get-togethers, etc., but the labels always seem to fall off with the first wash.  And that's a primo pain in the kiester.
A more permanent nametag is etching our name onto the bottom of the dish.


First I cut a stencil out of contact paper.  I used the Cricut to cut our name, but you can do the same thing by printing your word/design on the computer, then tracing it onto the contact paper.  Use a [sharp] Xacto-knife to cut out the contact paper to create your stencil.


**Note: Do not etch on the inside of a dish you will be eating out of. Be sure to etch on the outside (this means you'll have to be careful to print your design as a mirror image on your computer if you'll see your design by looking through the glass. Or if you're using a Cricut or Silhouette machine, feed the contact paper backing-side-up, so you're able to stick it to the bottom of the dish and read it clearly)


Stick your stencil onto the glass.  Make sure it is straight, and that there are no bubbles in the paper.


The contact paper is functioning like painter's tape here, so you want to make sure it's creating a good seal around the etching cream.


Using a paintbrush (regular or foam) load up a liberal layer of etching cream over your design.  Don't let the cream go anywhere other than where you want the design to be.  I kept a couple q-tips on hand in case my brush slipped, so I could get it off immediately.
The directions on the bottle say to let it sit for 5 minutes.  I would recommend 10 minutes for a good, clear design.



After your time is up, rinse the cream off with cool water.  Don't remove your stencil until the cream has been washed off.  I have also heard that it is not advised to rinse off the cream in a porcelain sink, as it could dull the finish.  I have a stainless sink, so I can't verify that.  I do know that it is fine to use in stainless.  So, it might be worth investigating prior to doing this project if you have a porcelain sink.


The result:
[OK, IT IS SO DIFFICULT TO PHOTOGRAPH GLASS!  AT NIGHT! ERGH.]


Don't Forget:

You're working with acid here, people, so it's best to take all of the obvious precautions (wear gloves, keep kids and pets away, use in a well ventilated area etc.)
Here's a look at some other things I etched on my mad "OMG I LOVE THIS - WHAT ELSE CAN I ETCH???" binge.
This is an awesome way to take yard sale or thrift store pieces and make them look custom and expensive.
This dish was once a filled candle.  When the candle burned down, I popped out
the wax and saved the glass.
With its new monogram, this is just waiting for a fat bunch of peonies this spring!
Or a new candle.
Or for some candy.


A monogrammed apothecary jar will run you upwards of $60 - $70 at
Pottery Barn or many other stores.
I think the etching spiffed up my $8 Gordman's apothecary jar nicely.

What cool things have you etched?
I'd love to see!

Cheers,