Tuesday, December 13, 2011

the straw that (almost) broke the camel's back, and other tales of woe.

forgive me blogfriends for i have sinned. it has been approximately three weeks since my last post. remember that whole bit where i was challenging myself to complete 12 christmas crafts before the big day? yeah, that was silly. i guess i should refrain from making promises in writing, spelled out for the masses to see and delight in my very public failures. or, maybe i can salvage that promise by bending the rules a bit. only time will tell.

anywhooo, where have i been? just celebrating babies and christmas and merriment and the everyday joys of living with a very spirited one year old, that's where i've been. auntie cathy took jack to build-a-bear a couple weeks ago, and they crafted an adorable new member of our family who, for the time being, has been named "brownie." jack has developed a very close bond with the bear, and threw a tiny tantrum on sunday as we were leaving to head to chicago for the day. i couldn't figure out what was causing the wee one to writhe and scream so, until he charged over to the christmas tree, and grabbed the little bear that had been placed so importantly beneath. it's safe to say that brownie will be a dear companion.

i have been wishing for snow (c'mon! it's december 13! where's the white stuff?!) and trying to finish crafts/projects/etc. a lot of the etc. and in that vein, let's talk about the straw that (almost) broke the camel's back or the gallery wall that almost preceded the dissolution of my marriage. (just kidding... i hope? :)

whenever a new divorce client comes to my office for a consultation, i'm always somewhat surprised (though really, nothing should surprise me at this stage) about the final thing that sealed the deal and forced them to make an appointment with a divorce lawyer. i imagine that if john had made such an appointment a few days ago, his attorney would have been somewhat surprised to hear him say, "this gallery wall my wife's been making. that's it. i can't do this anymore."

spoiler alert: the galley wall is finished (for the time being) and we're not getting divorced. but man, we were skating on thin ice there for a bit. i wanted to create this eclectic gallery that showcased a collection of treasured artifacts. and you previously saw exhibit a on this journey toward the final specimen.

i knew that the gallery needed something more on either side to really fill the space above the couch, but since i was going for that collected look, i didn't want to slap just anything up. thus, on thanksgiving, i embarked on a spelunking adventure at my parent's house.

Caving—also occasionally known as spelunking in the United States and potholing in the United Kingdom—is the recreational pastime of exploring wild (generally non-commercial) cave systems.
from Wikipedia

in my world, spelunking is more like casing your parents' old out buildings for cool old rusty stuff you can steal and hang on your walls for zero dollars and zero cents. my dad is generally pretty agreeable to these types of missions, so he and i took jack on his first four wheeler ride and proceeded to search through the barn on the back part of his property. i also cased the barn next to the garage, and lo and behold! i found an old oar and a rusty horseshoe, both of which were destined to become stars on my wall of fame.

can you believe pottery barn sells these distressed beauties for around $80? way overpriced if you're lucky enough to have a barn to root through.

(image from Pottery Barn)

anyway, i added a little white paint to the oar, then distressed it with a hand sander. (ok, to be completely honest, i added a lot of white paint and red stripes to the oar, and while i ADORED the look, it was all wrong for the style of my gallery wall, so i sanded almost all of it off, and happened to love the look of it that way even more anyway)

so, with my newfound treasures plus a few old forgotten loves from my basement, the gallery wall was looking like this:

i thought it was done. john prayed it was finished. (he might have been a teensy bit tired of me moving things, asking him to hold them up while i stepped back and pondered, etc., etc.) then i drove to chicago for a friend's baby shower and, on the way, started obsessing about the gallery wall. something was annoying me about it. it seemed way too orderly or something to me. the grouping was irritating me.

i came home and announced to john that i was going to take everything off, lay it out and re-work the wall. he said he was not helping and that i was crazy. i took everything down, spackled all the nail holes and proceeded to re-work the arrangement on the floor of my spare bedroom. then i re-hung everything, all amidst john's "seriously, stephanie, when is this going to stop? it looks exactly the same? why are you doing this over and over?"

putting up with that nonsense was actually worth it because i really love the way it looks now. there's even a bit of space at the bottom so i can add treasures later on, when jack stops thinking it's a good idea to stand on the couch and attempt to destroy my efforts!

where there's a will, there's a way, john! gallery wall: 0, stephanie: 1.

... and now a quick "12 days of christmas crafts" update. i get to count jack's christmas present as one of the crafts because... i make the rules! hahahaha (evil laugh). anyway, i proudly present to you a handmade gift from mr. & mrs. claus to the wee one:

a wooden workbench, complete with black & decker junior tools! i nagged john for a whole 45 minutes one saturday in october until he finally agreed we could make this, and i'm so happy he gave in to my demands agreed to help. we borrowed a cross saw from my boss and bought the supplies at lowe's. total cost for the project was approximately $15, which i think is a pretty sweet deal since i've seen wooden workbenches selling for upwards of $60 in magazines and catalogs. if you want the plans we used, search for them on pinterest or i can email. it was really pretty simple. i sewed the little canvas pockets (which are attached with boat upholstery snaps) as a place to store more tools and screws. i think the black & decker tools (which were $12 on amazon, ps) are SO adorable! i can't wait to give this gift to the little man on christmas morning!

... and you didn't think there would be a christmas craft update without a little burlap, did you??? i decided we needed some more burlap around for the holidays (who doesn't?!?) and made some new burlap stockings for the family. i haven't exactly finished jack's and john's yet because john did not want anything lacy or girly on his, so i had to re-work my original plan to masculin-fy their versions. here's mine though:

yes, that is light green tinted burlap. did you know that made such a thing? i didn't, but after my squeals of delight, the entire flock of customers at joann's now does. i just traced around another stocking already owned, flipped the pieces inside out to sew and added lace to the top. the boys' stockings are more involved, but i'll share some updates on those when i get around to finishing them.

annnnnnddddd finally... christmas in a jar. anthropologie was selling these little christmas jars for somewhere between $39 and $59, depending on the size.

(from Anthropologie)

i found a tutorial on a blog, and the rest is history. my own christmas jars for about $5 total. jack LOVES to look at the "dees" (that's the baby version of 'trees,' in case you're not fluent.)

if you're interested in the tutorial, i will email you the blogsite where i found the deets, but it's really just glass jars, shakers, etc. + tiny trees + glitter + hot glue gun = christmas in a jar. easy, peasy.

well, that's what i've been up to. hopefully, i'll be back to share some more updates on my progress with my 12 days challenge. accepting any challenges as of late? stop in and share your progress!

stephanie, the christmas elf

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