For Amanda

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I am starting off this blog with a picture that is bittersweet to me.  A picture that is a reminder of what I have lost- and gained.  Let me introduce you to these two lovely young ladies.  The one on the right is my precious daughter, Amanda.  Amanda had a hard life, a short life.  A childhood leukemia survivor, cancer reared its ugly head again while she was in her late 20s.  A mom of three, she was misdiagnosed twice before finally being diagnosed with stage three breast cancer.  This picture was taken a couple of months before she passed from this life to the next.  As you can see, her face was very swollen, and her body was bruised.  And yet, she is smiling, as she usually did.  In this picture, she was playing with the other young lady.  Playing with hair clip-ins.  Enjoying some very short time left between them.  Let me now tell you about the young lady on the left, Amanda’s daughter Cassidy.

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Cassi was 6 years old when she lost her mama.  Something no child should ever have to deal with.  When Amanda died, the kids dad was unable to take care of them properly, so they came to live with us.  Then, we adopted them in 2016.  Cassi turned 9 this year.

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Cassi likes long hair.  She hasn’t cut it in quite a few years, other than a trim, and to get her bangs cut.  A beautiful little lady with quite the personality.  She makes friends with everyone she meets, and she was blessed with not only her mama’s looks, but with her smile as well.

 

We have a little problem getting her to take care of her long hair that she loves so much though.  We have talked off and on about a cut, but she adamantly refused.  Until she heard us talking about companies using hair for making wigs.  She began asking questions.  And we told her that there are people with cancer that need wigs to cover their heads after they lose their hair to chemo.  Suddenly, she completely changed her mind and eagerly wanted to get her hair cut.  We told her we didn’t want her to make a rash decision, and to take a week to think it over.  When the week was up, we spoke again- she actually brought it up.

 

“I want to donate my hair”, she said one morning.  So, we made the appointment.

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I did some research and found that most places require a minimum of 8 inches for a donation.  I put ponytail holders in to show her how much needed to be cut, then I looked at Jeff and said, “I don’t know if I can do this.”

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When we told her stylist what we wanted to do, she plugged in her flat iron and went to work.  She pulled a tray over, so we could lay out the pieces of hair as it was cut, so it wouldn’t get tangled up.  She asked me where to cut, and then began.

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It was an emotional moment for me, watching all that hair being cut.

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We cut nine inches off, leaving enough so her hair wouldn’t be short.

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A beautiful tribute to her mama.

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Her hair is pretty baby fine, but hopefully it can be used to help another mama with cancer.

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And here is my beautiful Cassi after her haircut.  It will take some getting used to, but she seems to like it.  And it is much easier for her to handle. And still long enough for a ponytail. 🙂

 

Life seems pretty unfair when you think about a young mother losing her life and leaving young children behind. So many things in this life we just don’t understand. But Amanda is still with us, in the three little lives we see growing every day. In their smiles, and laughter.  In their silly little antics, and even in their anger, and temper tantrums.

 

I will miss my girl every day of the life I have left to live.  But when one of her little blessings steps out and makes a huge, difficult decision to help someone else, I realize we must be doing something right in deciding to raise them.  And how much it cost Cassi to part with her beautiful hair. And I think of a mama looking down at her daughter- growing up way too quickly- with pride.

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And smiling that beautiful Amanda smile.

 

copyright 2017

Here is a link to my other blog, and the first of a 10 part series I did on Amanda’s story:

http://smkelley62.blogspot.com/2015/05/amandas-story-1-first-diagnosis-repost.html

Flower sign

I wanted to create something special today with things I already had on hand.  I had a long scrap piece of a 1 x 10 that I had already stained a while back, and decided I would paint some flowers on it.

 

*Disclaimer- I am NOT an artist, I am a writer and creator, so keep that in mind. 🙂

 

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Here is the wood I started with.  I had some quarts of paint that were only partially used that would work perfectly with this project.

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I drew out some flowers on the wood with a pencil, just to use as a guide.

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As you can see, they aren’t perfect.

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Then I began the painting process.  I started with a solid layer of paint.

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This is what I had after using the three colors–told you I wasn’t an artist. 🙂

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I decided to add some contrast colors in, to make it appear a little more lifelike.  I remember watching Donna Dewberry years ago and her one stroke technique (shameless plug).  I still have some of her brushes, and that is what I used here.  I put the two colors side by side- the original flower color, and a grayish white paint leftover from another project.

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I dipped both edges into the paints.

 

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Then I blended the colors moved the brush up and down on the plate I was using.

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I then began painting on top of the flower petals.  I was never very good at this, so I just faked it till I liked the way it looked.

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I blended a bit, then I would use the edge to add extra detail.

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This is what I ended up with.

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I didn’t have a pounce brush, so I improvised and used a cheap foam brush.

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I cut off the top to make it flat.

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I pounced some brown into the center of the flowers.  Then I pounced some of the grayish white on top.

And this is the finished project!  So very perfectly imperfect- I see areas I could have improved on, and if I do it again, I will.  Haven’t decided where I will put this cute little board yet- perhaps the front porch or the laundry room.

Happy crafting!! 🙂

 

Wood plank wall

I spent part of my childhood living in an old farmhouse with shiplapped walls. As a child, of course, I didn’t know that is what they were called, I just knew I loved that house and pretty much everything about it. I have wanted to do some faux shiplap for some time, and the hubby and I finally got to it the last few days. The prep took a few hours, but installation took about 6 hours, including the cuts.

This is what the wall looked like before we started.  Ignore the messy bar, we live here. 🙂

This project actually started a while back when we went to Home Depot and bought some thin plywood.  I think it was called underlayment, and was about $12 for a 4′ x 8′ sheet.  We had them cut 6″ strips while we were there, as we don’t have a table saw.

We sanded the edges to get a smoother finish, but left them a bit rough. I mixed up some stain- I used Minwax Driftwood and added some Minwax Ebony to it- and stained the pieces.

I wiped on a coat of poly, just to seal the finish.

Then we began nailing it to the wall.  The walls have a texture to them, so we put a stripe of Liquid Nails on the back to help attach to the wall.

Here is the top portion all complete.  I love the barn look and the unevenness of color.

And here is the finished wall.  I need to paint the molding under the bar white, to match the other trim, it was painted the same as the wall color before.

 

We love how it came out!  I even cleaned the bar off.  😉

Lamp Upcycle

I bought two of these lamps a few years ago from Kirkland’s to use in the bedroom.  I liked the shape of them, but never was fond of the swirly decorations on the outside. They were on sale, and I needed some lamps, so I bought them.

I have looked at them many times over the years, wondering how I could make them more my rustic/farmhouse style, and it finally came to me– use hardware cloth!

I stripped the outside off, and this is what I was left with.  I actually like it this way and almost left it.  But I have a love affair with chicken wire and hardware cloth, so I carried on.

I can’t get enough of this stuff in my decorating these days.  I like both styles, but wanted to use the square kind for this project. I measured around my lamp, and used wire cutters to cut the wire just a bit larger.  I was working in my bedroom, so I placed a piece of white paper underneath to make the pics easier to see.

I left an edge so I could wrap it around the wire part of the lamp.

I began wrapping it around the lamp, carefully bending it on the edges.  This isn’t easy to do, especially with arthritic fingers.  I forgot to take a pic, but I spray painted the wire black at this point.

I began bending the edges around the back side of the lamp.  Some of the paint scraped off, but I just re-sprayed it after I was done.

I took a few pieces of wire and attached the last edge at the back.  I then re-sprayed it and let dry.  This part isn’t too pretty, but no one will see it as it is on the back side of the lamp.

And here is the finished product!   I love how it came out.  Much more my style.  I will have to wait a few days before doing the other one to let my fingers recover.

 

🙂
Although I used hardware cloth for this project, you could certainly use chicken wire instead.

Window covering

Sure is good to be back! Have been dealing with some long term medical issues, so blogging wasn’t possible-and I have sure missed it!

I have lived in this house for quite a few years, and have never figured out what to do with the skinny entry window by the front door. I had a small rod strategically attached with a curtain I didn’t really like for a long time. Because of the way I had to attach it, it was never very sturdy and I kept having to move it and reattach. When it fell down a few months ago, I decided I would just leave it bare until I came up with a more permanent solution.

It sure didn’t afford us any privacy, so I came up with another temporary solution.

Isn’t that attractive!

It was meant to be more temporary than it turned out to be. With the health problems, it ended up being there for a few months. We would put it up at night and remove in the mornings. Today I decided no more and went to work with the things I bought a while back  to solve the problem.

Bought these in the plumbing department of Home Depot.

And my trusty copper paint. These two are about to meet.

A couple of coats later and this is what I had.

I took the pipe cutter and cut off a piece of copper pipe.

I tried a drill, but it wouldn’t fit in the small area, so I ended up screwing it all in by hand. And here is my very sturdy curtain rod.

I still have to touch up the screw heads.

I haven’t decided what type of curtain to use permanently, so for now I just draped a sheer panel over it and added a ribbon. My style is more farmhouse/rustic, so this won’t be here any longer than it takes me to decide what kind of covering I want up here permanently. But for now, it does the job and the rod won’t fall down.


So, what type of curtain would you use?

I also have plans for that board, which will be a future blog.

Happy decorating!

All Season Wreath

I have wanted to make a cotton boll wreath for some time, and I finally got down to business today!

I decided to use a garland I got on sale, and cut off the amount I needed for the wreath.

I wanted to make a plain wreath that I could add some seasonal decorations to, so I picked out some burlap ribbon, and some Easter ribbons that I already had.

I love the look of windowpane ribbon, so I added a strip of it across the middle.

I placed my cotton pieces where I wanted them and attached with some jute ribbon.

I made some simple bows out of burlap ribbon and tied them on.

And this is the finished product for an all season wreath. You can add more cotton pieces or less, depending on what you like.  I wanted to add a bit of Easter decor to brighten it up a bit for Spring.  So, I made some more bows with pastel colors, and attached them in front.  Then I placed a cute little bunny on top.

A purple He is Risen ribbon finished it off.  When Easter is over, I will simply remove the pastel ribbons and I will have a wreath to get me through the summer into fall. I can even add some red, white and blue for the patriotic holidays in the summertime.

Cute and easy!

Faux Wood Sign

I made a trip to Hobby Lobby with my buddy Mary yesterday.  Had a couple of things in mind I was looking for, but ended up buying this adorable stencil that fits me to a tee!

I originally was thinking of stencilling a shirt, but thought I would try my hand at a sign first.

I already had the wood-look scrapbook paper I bought a few months ago and never used, and an 8×10 canvas panel I bought in a pack from Amazon.  I had never worked with the canvas before, so I thought I would begin by gluing the paper to it without prepping it to see if it would work.

I put a thick layer of glue onto the canvas, and pay the paper on top and pressed out as many bubbles as I could.

I folded the edges over and let dry overnight.

After trimming the edges, I put a layer of mod podge on top.  While drying, it bubbled up some.  I probably could have avoided some of that by priming the canvas.  Lesson learned. But with the busy-ness of the paper, I don’t think it is a problem. I let it dry and pressed out as many bubbles as I could- I started a bit too soon and messed up one small spot which I repaired by tearing a small piece of leftover paper and gluing it down with some mod podge and covering the top as well.  The rustic look of the paper hides it well. I also tore a corner that is very visible, but I kept going.

I took my can of Easy tac and sprayed the back of the stencil, waited 60 seconds, and placed it on top of the canvas.

I didn’t have a stencil brush handy, so I found a foam brush and decided to improvise.

I cut the pointed end off of the brush.  I took some latex paint I had and added some baking soda to thicken it up, hoping to prevent the paint from bleeding.


Then I dipped the tip of the brush in the paint,  pounced most of it off, and began pouncing the mostly dry brush onto the stencil.  Straight up and down.

And here is the finished product.   As you can see, there was a small amount of bleeding, but because of the rustic-ness  of the sign,  it actually adds to it.
I think it came out so cute!

Welcome Sign

I love using old fence pickets to make wall decor. I have had some in my garage that a friend of mine gave me a while back. They were just begging me to use them for rustic signs. I used some of them for a backdrop for my mantle, and used one for my Snowy Noel sign posted previously. It was hanging in my entryway, and left a blank spot when I took it down after the holidays. So I decided to make a welcome sign to take its place. Sometimes I leave the wood raw, and sometimes I like to add some color to it. This one I decided to heavily dry brush.
So, this is the top portion of the fence picket. The bottom portion was used for the mantle backdrop I mentioned previously.

I just used a couple of white colors I had left from painting the walls- some Ben Moore Classic Gray and Snowfall White. I just kept dry brushing until I got the look I wanted.

I then decided to glue some chipboard letters to the front. This picture shows a 4 inch one that I took previously, but I used some 3 inch letters for this project. And some good old Elmer’s glue.
I thought of painting the letters, but preferred the raw grayish color of the chipboard against the white paint, so I left them that way.

And I hung it in my entryway to fill in the blank spot.

This is both sides of the door into my kitchen. The ‘K’ is from a previous project. They are actually the same height, though its doesn’t look like it here. Now, I just need to fill in the rest of the wall next to my welcome sign with another project I have in the works.
What a quick and easy project!

Christmas Picture Upcycle

My husband and I used to go to yard sales.  I hate paying full price for anything- a trait I inherited from my mom- and if I can get it used,  that is even better.

The picture below we bought for less than $10.  It has been hanging in our house since we bought it.  I love how the frame is chipped and worn.  The picture isn’t my favorite, but Jeff loves it, so we keep it up.

It hangs in our dining room, and with the holidays here, that is also where I put our tree.  I decided I wanted it to look more Christmasy, and I decided to put my Krylon easy tack to good use.

I used this for another project recently, so I still had some left in the can.  I didn’t want to ruin the picture, so I used something I could remove after the holidays.

I began by measuring the inside of the picture.  I then cut a piece of poster board that would fit the space.  I didn’t have a large enough piece of decorative paper to fit, so I decided to cut 2 inch strips of some scrapbook paper I had on hand.

I lay the strips out just to see if I had enough to cover, then I began gluing them down.  I used a glue stick.

I made sure to stagger the edges.   When it was dry, I cut all the edges straight.  This was a ‘use what you have’ project, but if I do it again, I will buy some larger stencils, or letters to glue to the front.  I used some letters to trace onto some scrapbook paper and cut them out and glued them on.

This is what it looked like when I finished.  I sprayed the back with my Easy Tack, let it set up for 60 seconds, and put it in place.

And here is the finished project.

I just used scissors to make my cuts, so they aren’t perfect, but I am pleased with the results.  After the holidays, we can go back to the regular picture, or I can make an all season temporary one that I like better.

Happy crafting!

Rustic Shelf From Crate

There are many crafts and upcycles out there using these wooden crates.  I decided to cut mine in half and make two shelves out of it.  My granddaughter needed a shelf below her television shelf in her room to place her Wii in, and I knew this would work perfectly.  I will probably used the second one in my grandson’s room.

After cutting, I sanded it really well.

Here is one half of the crate after the husband cut it in half for me. I removed the bottom middle slat before cutting.

We nailed the removed slat to the front, and stained it.

I have a custom stain that I like really well,  so I used it here.  It is mostly Minwax Driftwood with some Ebony stirred in.

We cut a hole in the bottom, so we could put cord through.  Another light sanding and it is ready to hang.


And then we hung it underneath the shelf in her room with her tv.
Looking into the best ways of camouflaging the cords.
This could of course be used as a bookshelf, or for any type of storage.