The post in which we have a good laugh in Goodwill.

That's right, folks, Rick and I have a hobby, and it's not typical like jam-making or crocheting. (I tried crocheting when I was in Girl Scouts. Let's just say that "a child's blanket" ended up looking more like a potholder. I don't think I got my badge for that one.) No, our hobby is much more amusing (and doesn't involve yarn). It's name is Goodwilling. We like to visit the said thrift store to A) see what real bargains can be snatched up and B) have a good chuckle about some of the odd treasures that make us say, "Why would anyone want that?" But, what is one man's junk, I suppose, is another man's treasure.

Or just another man's junk.

Here are some of the treasures that we found while touring Goodwill with our camera. :)

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1.  This ghost. As if ghosts weren't scary enough: now we have them posing seductively. As you can see, Rick was particularly enamored with this little beauty. I guess I know what to be for Halloween.

2. This owl. While I do like repurposing, there's just something about repurposing teeny shells into a sculpture that screams "Tacky Southern Tourist Gift Trap." The good news is, there was a whole collection of these fine-shelled feathered friends, so you could buy one for all of your family members!

3. This frumpy lampshade. Enough said.

4. This little boy sleeping peacefully on a moon. Aww, how sweet. Wait--is he naked??

It reminds me of Maurice Sendak's In the Night Kitchen. If you've never read it, I highly encourage you to check it out of the nearest library. Not only does it contain stunning graphics, but also contains a great moral about why we have cake every morning.

If you have a blank expression of your face, you're not the only one. Read the book. It will answer alllll of your questions. :)

5. This rabbit. I tell ya, if you're looking to make your kids forget about the Easter bunny, just tell them he looks like this. I doubt they will want this guy creeping into their rooms at night to leave Peeps and chocolate eggs. And what is that thing on his chin?

6. And last, but not least, these elderly painted mice. Rick predicts that this will be us in 50 years. Only he says we won't be sitting in rockers crocheting: we'll still be marching (wheeling?) around Goodwill trying to find weird stuff.

In case you were wondering if we got anything useful out of our trip, we did! We left the store with an array of cheap goodies:

 Exciting, right? I know they don't like like much now, but they will. Just give me time. And some spray paint. :)

Anyone else like to have fun in stores? What's the strangest or best thing you've ever found at a thrift store or yard sale? Feel free to share!


The post with a tour of our apartment.

Since my blog has now been alive for about a month, I thought it was time to post a tour of our apartment. Some of the pictures have popped up in posts already, but now they're all in one place. There are definitely places in our apartment that we aren't a fan of but either can't do anything about (like the trim that has been repainted WAY too many times and never sanded down or scraped in between, so there are unsightly drips and bumps everywhere) or just haven't gotten around to it yet (like our bedroom). But there are spaces that I love, like my craft room.

So without further ado: a walk through Rick and Erin's apartment.

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Our front hall.
Not much is here, mainly because we don't have anything to put there--and we're hesitant to buy lots of new items since we will just end up hauling them to our future house in approximately two years. The white corner desk was taken from my parent's attic in a friendly furniture exchange program and re-painted for a place to display some of our wedding photos and mementos. We also added a basket to wrangle some of our loose mail that was, previously, stored conveniently on the floor.


Our living room.
The furniture in this room was 100% put together from hand me downs (the loveseat was free), Craigslist (the papasan chair), and yard sales (the coffee table and end tables).

I also whipped out my Betsy Ross sewing skills and made the pillow covers and curtains (although I cheated a bit and used no-sew fabric tape on the curtains because the sewing machine was just making the delicate fabric bunch and look all like some unfortunate Girl Scout project that I attempted in my youth).


I would love to learn how to do more advanced stuff on the sewing machine, since a straight line is about all this seamstress can handle at this particular time in her life and this pillow is calling her name.

On the other side of the room, we have a fireplace and an awesome built-in bookshelf. Unfortunately, the fireplace is non-functional and mainly serves the purpose of Resident Eyesore and/or Entryway for Bats.

We (meaning me) are pondering a way to cover it up, but haven't yet come up with something. I'm also trying to figure out a way to get the TV off of the fireplace so that it isn't functioning as flat-screen artwork, but Rick isn't going for that. In his words: "We paid a lot of money for that TV!" But I'm not worried. A little Wegmans sugar cookies here, a little bulk gummies there...I'll have that TV off of the mantle before he can say "Let's watch Minute to Win It in high-def." ;)

Our dining room.
Again, all of the furniture was Craigslisted (the table and chairs were purchased separately but look like they're meant to be together!) or DIYed (like this chair).

I wish we had before and after pictures of the table and chairs, as they were quite an unsightly bunch: the table was white with previous mint green paint undertones (yuck) and the chairs were--are you ready?--ivory with glittery gold trim. To make matters worse, the seat and back were covered with faded, stained floral fabric. We ripped off the back cushions for a cleaner look and recovered the seats with new fabric from Joann's.

Our kitchen.
We didn't do anything to our little kitchen except make these magnets to dress up the fridge. The room is small, but the cabinets have been updated and the tile floor is unlike any other floor that I've seen indoors.  I'd like to add a bit more of "us" to the room, but counter space is limited and wall space is even more limited.

Our office.
We spend a lot of time in here, so I wanted to bring some color to the otherwise off-white room. I chose sunny yellow and some small pops of turquoisey-blue to make the dreary space come to life a bit more, and we bought tile at a local architectural salvage store to brighten up the top of the black desk. Although the room is still in progress (there's a big blank wall that we have plans for), it is definitely more cheerful than it was before.

My craft room.
We rescued this narrow little area from being the inevitable dumping grounds for stuff that we didn't know what else to do with by converting it to a space for my projects. Before the switch, we affectionately (and so creatively, I might add) called it "the junk room." (Erin: "What should I do with these boots?" Rick: "Oh, just toss them in the junk room." Erin: (flings said footwear over the tangle of other abandoned objects and closes the door quickly). 

This problem was solved by ditching or relocating the misfit junk and bringing in a some furniture to define the space in the room. The table and chair were both super cheap yard sale finds ($10 and $5, respectively) and fit perfectly in the space. I should add, though, that the table, when we first saw it, had been the victim of some small child's unfortunate foray into painting, as it had orange legs, a brown top, and glittery purple and silver paint stenciled all over the legs and top. It was not pretty. And once again, I am regretful of the fact that we did not snap "before" pictures so that the table's former look could be forever immortalized, but, alas, this switch took place B.B. Before Blog. At any rate, we like it much better in its cheerful aqua color. :)

Our bedroom.
This is one room in our apartment that has gone virtually untouched--but not because we don't want to give it a makeover. The biggest challenge with this room is it's size and shape: it's actually not a room. It's the attic.

Angled ceilings? Check. Chimneys in the middle of the room? Check. But finding a way to make it "ours" without breaking the bank is absolutely on our to-do list. We have gotten the go-ahead to paint the yellow walls off-white, which will be an improvement. The room as a whole feels a lot like a loft to us, and it really is quite a nice retreat. I am especially a fan of the two walk-in closets that the room contains so that I can hide what I recently heard a friend refer to as "a pile of indecision." :)

Our bathroom.
We like the white fixtures that were used to update this room, and the tile floor adds some character, as well. You'll have to excuse the yellow-ish pictures: the only light for the room is artificial.

The open storage shelving (which is all that's in there other than the small medicine cabinet) was mind-numbing at first, since it became a dumping grounds for all things hairspray-toothpaste-deodorant-lotion and looked, well, like a shelf at Target after some person emptied their cart in the wrong aisle. Minus refrigerated products. I love when we stroll through, say, the electronics aisle, and find a package of cheese. You'll be happy to know that our bathroom contained no cheese. We do have certain standards here.

Anyway, to correct our issue, I brought in some baskets for organizing our toiletries and some glass bottles to more attractively wrangle some other items. Now, our open shelving train wreck is a thing of the past.


And last but not least: the polka dot room.
Off of our bedroom, we have another room used for storage/laundry (hence the clutter) that we affectionately (and, again, quite creatively) refer to as "the polka dot room." Why, you might ask? Well, ponder no longer. The evidence is below.

Apparently, someone who lived here before had a thing for large, navy blue polka dots.They loved them so much, they even thought to paint them on the ceiling.

They make me twitch. It's like walking into a carnival funhouse. Only there are no mirrors that make me look like a twisty blob.

When we re-paint our bedroom, we are also going to take our rollers to the said "polka dot room"--although I'm not sure what we'll call it once it's done. "Off-white room" just doesn't have the same ring to it. And it would be confusing, since every other room in this place is also off-white.

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So there you have it. A grand tour of our 1,500 square foot apartment. We really do think it's a neat place to live, and, since the house is so old, it has an immense amount of charm and character.

How about you? What do you like about your own living space? Have you ever faced a decorating tragedy such as a "polka dot room"? Feel free to share. :)


The post with the dear little deer art.

Sorry, but the corny English teacher couldn't resist using homophones in the title. :)

The said "dear little deer art" below was inspired by a similar piece that I saw on the Better Homes & Gardens website,  but I can't, for the life of me, find the page anymore. If anyone spies it out there on the world wide web, please let me know so I can link to it!

I simply used my Cricut to cut out 8 baby deer and one plant in different color paper (that all mesh with my craft room color scheme), then adhered them to a larger white piece of paper to go in the frame. I put my own spin on the BHG idea by matting three of the deer on old book pages instead of just on the white paper. The extra varied texture created by the pages is a nice touch.

I could hang it on the wall, but for now, I think it looks sweet just leaning on my craft table.

You could use any shape you wanted for this particular project, but the reason I selected the baby deer is because A) they made me say "awww..." and B) Rick and his family have gone camping in Allegany State Park--where there are typically tons of deer around--just about every summer since he was crawling around in diapers and eating bugs off of the ground. So I thought it would be a sweet representation of his traditional childhood--and now adulthood!--vacations. And in case you were wondering, he no longer crawls around in diapers, but he still does occasionally eat bugs off of the ground. Oh wait, that's our cat. Sorry, sweetie. :)

So that's my simple die-cut frame project that cost me $0 since the frame had been a gift and the paper was already on hand. How about you? Any free, or close to free, projects happening lately? Any decor that reminisces on your childhood or vacations? Feel free to share! :)


The post in which I go back to reality (aka work).

For the past couple months, I have been on a blissful summer vacation of days spent sleeping in, DIYing around the house, relaxing with friends and family, and going on vacation.

Gettysburg National Park

A sample of my daytime schedule from this week forward, though, looks more like this:

5:30 AM: Grumble at the alarm clock for going off.
7:20-8:45 AM: Face a room full of sleepy 9th graders. Attempt to explain to a room full of sleepy 9th graders why reading is important.
8:45-10:15 AM: Face a room full of awake 9th graders. Attempt to explain to a room of awake 9th graders why reading is important while simultaneously explaining that binders are not meant to be airborne.
12:45-1:50 PM: Face a room full of hyperactive 9th graders who are so over this whole "school" thing. Attempt to explain to a room of hyperactive 9th graders why reading is important while simultaneously explaining that neither their binder nor the person sitting next to them is meant to be airborne.
1:50-3:30: Finish everything that I didn't get to during the day.
3:30: Drive home...

Do you get the picture? I don't need to bore you with details about meetings, grading, phone calls, grad class stuff, dinner, and the fact that I begin yawning around 7 PM and am in bed by 9 PM (sad, yes; a lie, no).

As much as I wish otherwise, I don't have as much time for blogging and DIYing as I did over the summer, which is why I have not posted yet this week until today. I'm not a brand new teacher, but the beginning of the school year is, nonetheless, hectic and a bit nerve-wracking. Don't get me wrong: I really do love teaching, and I think it's a good fit for me, I just have to, now, make some adjustments in terms of my new hobby. I have enjoyed crafting and writing about it so much that I am hesitant to give it up for the school year completely (plus, it is a bit therapeutic, which is helpful after a day with adolescents), so I have come up with this: instead of 4-5 posts a week, I am going to aim for two. Unless, of course, I can somehow train Gingerbread to type clever things on the computer.

It's not looking good for the whole "cat learns how to write" scheme, though, because most of her time spent by the computer looks more like this:

But enough about my silly little feline. Here are some projects that we have in mind for during the school year, so stay tuned for the details in my couple weekly posts!

1. Do something about Rick's piano stand and seat. Don't mistake that black bulgy thing for a body bag lounging in our office: it's actually the cover for his keyboard. We are planning to make something more attractive for both his piano and his rear end to sit on.

And speaking of Rick's rear end (I hope he doesn't mind that I am discussing his rear end on the Internet)....

2. Give this piano bench a makeover so that Rick's rear end can sit on it while he does his amazingly gifted thing with those keys. It was a mere $3 at Amvets, plus it came with all of that old sheet music inside--bonus!

3. Give this ottoman a trendier outfit. Yes, this means we will be tackling reupholstery--again. :)

4. Make this stool cute enough to be used in my classroom.

5. Make wall decor with Scrabble tiles.

6. Work on our two current As For Me and Your House rooms.

7. And last, but not least: reveal  how we are completely transforming this free couch.

A word of warning: it may no longer look like a couch when we are done. Possibly on purpose, possible because Rick hacked it to pieces in frustration.

So those are some of the projects on our now much busier agenda; check back soon for the specifics!

And if you are a teacher, know a teacher, have kids with teachers, want to be a teacher, or know what a teacher is...I wish you all a wonderful and successful new school year! :)


The post in which we display gratitude on the wall.

Just for the record, I know absolutely nothing about art. There was a brief time of insanity when I considered becoming an art teacher. But then someone pointed out that you actually have to make art, not just not crafts, in art class. So, out the window that idea went.
Therefore, for all I know, the print that I am about to reveal is some famous work that I should have gotten assessed at an Antiques Roadshow. But when I saw it in an enormous frame for only $1 at a yard sale, it was all I could do to look beyond the disturbing image and to the frame (which is not in the picture) that would, no doubt, come in handy some day.

I'm not entirely sure what this print is supposed to be depicting. And I really don't know why she is plugging her ears. If I were in her unfortunate position, I would be covering my eyes. Maybe that's why she has such a creepy look on her face?

Anyway, Rick has been surprising me by hanging this work in various places around our apartment (bathroom, bedroom wall, foyer, etc.) since we purchased it, and as much as I would have liked to carry on the tradition, I finally thought of a project for which I could use its frame. Which means that it was time to tearfully bid adieu to the naked cherubs trying to put a thorny rose down their woman friend's dress.

But the goodbye was not permanent, because I decided to use the cardboard back of the print as the mat for my new project:  a collage of gratitude.

Before I give detail the step-by-step of what we did, I should say that this whole project was weirdly inspired by that commercial for Sharpie pens where the guy is writing all of his memories with his girlfriend on individual sticky notes, then arranges each one on the wall to spell "Will you marry me?"

All together now: "Awwww...."

Here's our loose interpretation of that romantic lad's proposal.

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1. Rick and I made individual lists of all of the things that we are thankful for. Then, we read them aloud to each other, which actually made them sound like trendy little free verse poems (a bonus for the English teacher inside this crafty girl). Rick was a little resistant at first, but one of the first things he wrote was "a wife who is creative enough to make me write about what I am grateful for." That night, he admitted that it actually was a good little exercise. On that note, I think this project would be awesome to do with kids, and have them make their own list. Unfortunately, we don't have kids, and the cats were being uncooperative. Would we really want to put "having a non-stinky litter box" on the wall, anyway?

2. I prepared the frame. I sanded some rough spots and then, since I was going to be painting the dark frame white, covered the frame with a coat of spray primer. While that was drying, I took a roller and some leftover white paint to the cardboard back of the scantily-clad cherubs and their victim.


Once the spray primer had dried (which didn't take long because it has been in the 90s here all week), I lightly sanded the rough spots again before applying two thin coats of flat white spray paint. Once that was dry, I decided to distress the frame to give it a slightly worn look. To do this, I gently sanded the edges and raised surfaces of the frame, sanding some areas more heavily than others so that the purposeful wear-and-tear looked natural.

3. I formatted and printed our"gratitude" lists. After typing the lists into a table in Microsoft Word, I changed the fonts so that each statement would look handwritten rather than digital. I wanted the handwritten look because

I then cut 12"x12" sheets of cardstock in half (I selected some with a nice texture so it wouldn't scream "craft store" when all put together) and was left with 6"x12" sheets. I ran these through our printer and then cut out all of the individual rectangles to end up with a pile that looked like this:

4. I inked the edges of each rectangle. As I just mentioned, I didn't want little rectangles that screamed "I grew up in Michael's," so I decided to take them one step further by inking the edges. This is something that I have seen done all the time in my Paper Crafts magazine, but I have never actually tried it myself. Now, I don't know why--it was incredibly easy. You simply press the edges of the paper firmly into the ink pad...

...and you end up with paper edges that look like this:

I'm a big fan of the subtle texture that the ink adds:  it makes the rectangles look like little bricks.

*Side note about the inking: I found it helpful to place the ink pad on a non-skid cabinet liner so that it wouldn't slip around when I was pressing the paper onto it.

5. I arranged and adhered the new little "bricks" on the cardboard backing that I had prepared earlier. I didn't want the overall look to be super symmetrical or contrived, so I made the shape of the brick formation look uneven and slightly rough, like it was actually removed from part of a brick wall. I used Scotch double-sided roller tape (clean, easy, won't soak through cardstock...gotta love it) to adhere each piece.

6. Finally, I used my Cricut to cut out a 12-inch "Gratitude" in black cardstock.

This was then nestled among the "bricks."

And now the fun part: we hung the framed collage using two old hinges because we didn't have any wall-mounting brackets....

...then stepped back, and were, once again, thankful for our new, non-blank wall.

Some of our gratitude statements are serious, like "in-laws who want to go on vacation together" (it's true: we all went to Disney World together last summer and had a wonderful time), some are sweet, ("waking up next to my soulmate") and others are just silly, but, nonetheless, things that we are genuinely grateful for, such as "free stuff on the curb." (Although sometimes Rick isn't as grateful for that as I am, especially if he has to go pick it up with me.)

So if ever we forget and start to take things for granted, all we have to do is catch sight of our new collage to be reminded that, indeed, we are so amazingly blessed.

What would you put in your gratitude collage? And do you have any creative ways to remind yourself of all of the things you are thankful for? Do share. :)

"In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
1 Thessalonians 5:18