Stenciled Scotland Messenger Bag

Have you ever wanted to stencil the name of a country you’ve never been to onto a thrift store messenger bag? I certainly have. So I did.

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Sunday morning in nowhere-near-Scotland vibes.

Like so many of my projects, this one has a long and storied past, but I’ll try to keep it succinct. I’m half Scottish and decided I needed to make a Scotland sweatshirt (I guess I forgot that the internet exists so that we don’t live like pilgrims making all the clothes we desire). I painstakingly made a stencil and stenciled it onto a sweatshirt and, don’t you know, it looked great. Then I washed and shrunk the sweatshirt so it no longer fit me. It was fun while it lasted. But I hung onto the stencil for a long time, just waiting for the perfect item on which to try again to fall into my hands. And then I found this canvas messenger bag at a thrift store. And THEN a few years went by and here we are today.

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The blank canvas (bag), perfect for carrying around heather and haggis.

So that’s what I started with. Actually, I should back up. I started with a printout of a crest and the word “Scotland” in the font I wanted, a blank sheet of stencil material, and an Exacto knife. That’s how the stencil came to be. It took forever, by the way.

I measured where I wanted to put the stencil so it was centered on the front of the bag and pinned it there. A note about this: the first time I stenciled the sweatshirt, I used some sort of temporary spray adhesive that worked great and the stencil turned out perfectly. I couldn’t find it at the store this time and the guy recommended just using push pins. Needless to say, go with the spray if you can find it: way easier, less time-consuming, and better results. I am going to give that guy a piece of my mind if I ever see him again.

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Here are the two stencils pinned down with 8 million stick pins. The pins worked OK but were not ideal.

Once the stencils were pinned down, I used one of those cheap foam brushes to dab on the paint. I just mixed blue and black craft paints that I already had to make the navy color I was looking for. #resourceful. Unsurprisingly, the pins got in the way (and had to be tossed after), another reason the spray adhesive would have worked better.

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Painted but before the big reveal.

But it still turned out pretty well! The fact that the paint seeped under the stencil a little actually kind of gave it character and made it look not-so-perfect, in a good way (or so say I when I’m justifying why it’s not perfect). But, baby, it’s perfect to me.

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The finished product. Imagine me on the floor of the coffee shop taking these pictures to get the full visual.

The good news is that the design is actually legible, and I can reuse the stencil again and slap something on top of this if I decide that I hate it. But I think I like it. It’s growing on me! They may take my life, but they’ll never take my STENCILSSSS!

A Pink and Gold Vintage Cocktail Party

It all started with a Facebook article about the lost art of the cocktail party. So I decided to bring it back. And basically start a revolution. Definitely not just and excuse to dress up and have cocktails.

If you’re thinking these pictures look a lot better and more flattering than the normal crappy iPhone ones, you’re correct! One of my best friends and party guests just so happens to be a talented photographer and designer, too! Check out her company, Clark Creative! It’s awesome.

So without further ado, my first annual hello to summer cocktail party.

On my bar cart below, the decanters, pitcher, sign, lamp, and jigger are all antique/vintage. I used a lot of pink and gold candies to decorate for the party. It was an inexpensive and edible way to carry the theme all over my apartment. Plus, it looked pretty!

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Here’s a glimpse of my bar cart, actually made functional for once!

The other main piece I used to establish the theme colors were flowers and vases. Again, it’s an inexpensive, pretty way to add color and life to the party. I spray painted four thrift store vases in different shapes, patterns, and heights gold to make a mismatched set go together but still be unique.

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Some of the details on my bar cart. Can you tell I love gold?

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I’m just so passionate about my bar cart, I had to get a sign to announce it!

Here’s the thrift store tray I spray painted gold and recently blogged about (here if you missed it). Since I’m short on extra space and table room, I made a makeshift mixer table by setting the tray up on a chair. The cocktail tools are vintage.

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Does the tray look familiar?

I think the candy (or gum balls in this case) in martini glasses really makes for a fancy decoration! I’ll definitely use this trick for my next party. (Plus, I get to eat the leftovers!) Paired with another gold vase with pink flowers, the color scheme spreads to all corners of the room.

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Pink and gold all over the place.

Pretty cupcakes are another thing that can be used as a decoration and a snack. I made these strawberry lemonade cupcakes with lemon cake, strawberry frosting (piped on with a cookie decorating set), and a lemon drop on top, just in case you don’t get the clever theme. Also…they’re pink and yellow which is so close to pink and gold!

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It’s not every day I get to break out the tiered serving tray! In fact, it’s been two days, ever.

Now for what’s really important—cocktails! This drink was a hit! Of course I wanted something pink so I decided to make a champagne cocktail. I blended a few different recipes to make my own. I used champagne, strawberry kiwi juice, strawberry vodka, and strawberries to make a lovely, bubbly, pink concoction. It was a hit, if I do say so myself. And of course, another gold vase with pink flowers and the champagne glasses that I decorated with gold paint.

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Cheers!

Nothing on this cheese platter is pink or gold (well, that sausage might be considered pink), but it just looks so darn delicious. While fancy cheeses are pricey, this is a party located in Wisconsin, so it’s always worth it.

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What a dream come true. Just me?

And here’s a look at my apartment living room, all ready for a party! I can’t decide if leaving the lights up year-round is trashy, but I just love the soft light they gave to my cocktail party (and I’m obviously too lazy to take them down at this point).

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Home sweet home. But 100x cleaner than normal.

And I couldn’t resist including this one because I have to show off the outfit I wore! This is a cream vintage dress with orange polka dots that I picked up in Alaska. I also got a chance to pull out the pearls, which is rare. So that’s my party. Now, please, leave me alone so I can sit here staring out the window, drinking champagne in high heels, like I always do.

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Standard Wednesday.

Spray Paint is Magic, Part Deux: The Golden Edition

I’m not saying I’m a gold digger, but I’m really digging everything gold lately. And, if you saw my other spray paint project, I really dig spray painting things, too. It’s cheap, easy, and completely changes an item into something else. So you can see where this is going: gold spray paint! I’ve also been into trays like everyone else so when I found this metal one at Goodwill, I snagged it up. image1-4 Once I had the gold spray paint in my grubby little hands, I couldn’t fathom just spray painting one item in my apartment, so I settled on an amount between one and everything I own (everything was tempting but I chose two). That’s how this boring pencil holder got roped into the deal. Sucker. image1-5 If you haven’t looked at metallic spray paints lately, there are a lot of options. They range from insanely shiny and reflective to toned down and matte. I picked one on the matte side in a gold tone. I first washed the tray and pencil holder and then sprayed them with a coat of primer. I wasn’t sure if the paint would stick to the shiny surface of the tray without it. Then it was just three-ish coats of the paint and here’s how they turned out! image2-5 image3 As you can see, the only thing that didn’t work out is that you can still slightly see the logo on the tray. I’m debating whether I will try spraying a bunch more coats to cover it up or try mod podging something onto it to cover it up. Otherwise, I love the color and the finish. And in the meantime, once the tray is styled, the writing doesn’t really show at all. See?! image4-2Cost of the project:

  • Tray: $3.99 at Goodwill
  • Gold spray paint (Valspar quick-drying metallic): $3.14
  • Primer: already had (ha! I WIN!)

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An Oil Painting of a Proper Cuppa English Tea

I’m taking an oil painting class again I’ve taken a few times before so I’m back in painting mode! And if you know me in real life (IRL as the kids say), you may have picked up on the fact that I have an infatuation with England/London/Britain/the royal family/the Harrys (Styles and the prince one). Well the good news (not psychologically, probably) is that it’s recently kicked up a notch! Brilliant! This painting is the first result of that but you can bet your ascot there will be more coming soon.

So here’s my painting! I think it turned out pretty well, which just basically means that I finished it in two classes instead of five. I’m happy it moved along and I didn’t have enough time to struggle over it and grow to despise it (that’s the normal painting process for me).

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I got the “idea” (I straight copied it!) from this painting I found on Pinterest (if you want to see more of my “artspiration”, check out my board). It always helps me to loosen up my style when I imitate another painting that has that style. Maybe it will eventually morph into my own. That’s the plan, anyway. The other plan is to paint more of what I actually want hanging in my apartment as art instead of what I feel like painting. However, I am running into the difficulty that this place is beginning to look like a shrine to myself and my art…It’s getting weird.

Pretend this is a flip book and scroll fast for a quick zero to 60 painting in three seconds.

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What a rush! If only it went that fast IRL! Har har. But here’s the new problem: I don’t know what to paint next! Help! Spoiler: it will probably be British in theme.

DIY Monogrammed Cocktail Napkins

It pays to have a family that is crafty, too, you know. I recently turned a million years old and asked for these monogrammed cocktail napkins from Mark & Graham for my birthday. Being one of my thrifty, crafty family, my sister decided to make me her own version. And they turned out so great! Ta-da!

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I actually really love the colors she used. While they’re not the bright colors of the napkins I originally had asked for, I love that the subtle colors go with the gold theme of my bar cart. (I’m so proud of it, I had to include a picture! P.S. she got me the great gold ice bucket too!) You could definitely use any color palette and add a matching border with the same paint to replicate the Mark & Graham napkins more closely.image1-5

The most impressive part of this all is that since she couldn’t find cocktail sized napkins, she bought dinner napkins, cut them down, and hemmed them! And she did a great job; I had no idea until she told me. (Plus, then I get eight napkins instead of four!)

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Then she stamped them with a coordinating, slightly shimmery and glittery paint and a personalized stamp. B for the win. And now I have my very own “B” stamp so I can monogram the hell out of everything in my life. I’m not sure what my deal is with loving monograms lately but after this DIY, I’m considering doing a lot of it! Any ideas for me?

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Painted Champagne Flutes

I’ve been really into with outfitting my bar cart for a while now and got to thinking that gold decorated glassware would be perfect for it! After researching some designs that were simple but way too expensive, I decided to make them myself with the champagne flutes I had lying around.

I found some tips for painting glass on Pinterest (this site has the basic steps, too) and used those to guide me. Here’s what I did:

  1. Wash and rinse glasses with soap and water. I let them dry overnight.
  2. I wiped the outsides off with vinegar (the other option was rubbing alcohol and unless they mean vodka, I honestly don’t know what that is) with a cotton ball and let them dry again.
  3. Time to paint! I used a gold enamel paint (Folk Art brand) and ended up doing 2-3 coats on the glasses. It really depends on the design if this is necessary or not. Some of the glasses could have gone without a second coat.
  4. Bake the glasses to seal the paint. I baked them for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. According to the directions, the important part is the put the glasses in a cold oven and let them preheat and cool down with the oven temp.
  5. The big reveal:

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And now for the best part…the cost!

  • The champagne flutes were freeeee! (Tip: Find an older brother who is giving his away. Seriously, who was he ever kidding owning 12 champagne flutes? Then again, who am I kidding? Oh wait, I’m too lazy to wash them! That’s why!) You could definitely find some at Goodwill or a thrift store though. I bet a handful of mismatched glasses would look like a set once they’re painting similarly.
  • The paint only cost $2-$3 from Walmart. And that was it!

Looking at the glasses now, the dots and vertical lines definitely turned out the best. The horizontal lines got thick and goopy and the paint didn’t cover as well as the other two. If I did it again, I’d do all polka dots—I think they look the cutest and turned out the best. Cheers!

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A Throwaway Bulletin Board Becomes Pretty

It’s like a modern-day Cinderella story! OK so it’s actually just a super simple, no-brainer project that made my old bulletin board, that I was going to dump, look like a pretty picture frame! I feel like Nate Berkus could have designed it for his Target collection. Here’s the before picture:

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Boring, right? Nothing exciting or terrible about it but I am to the point where an old bulletin board no longer fits in with my post-college style. (Don’t worry about my Rubbermaid bedroom shelves…I’ll get to those.) But when I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo (look it up! It’s awesome! And I’m going to post about it in my other blog!), I had a need for somewhere accessible to post things up again. But how to make it look adult, elegant, and like part of the decor instead of a messy dorm room accessory? PAINT.

The best part about this project is that it was entirely free. I already had the old bulletin board and used the white and gold paint I had lying around too. I’m sure you could get all of these things for just a few bucks. So I plopped a bunch of white paint onto the board and went to town with a foam paintbrush. (P.S. there’s a sale on onions. Take note.)

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Then I painted the whole darn thing, including the frame. I decided a white frame would help the gold color pop more and also I am messy and it was hard to keep the white off of the frame.

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Then I pained the frame gold! I just love how the color turned out. I had to do maybe 3 or 4 coats but it went really fast with the foam brush.

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And ta da! The finished product. The white could use a few more coats but I think with things pinned to it, it will look just fine on the wall.

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I think after I use it for the month, I may repurpose it because I like it so much. I was thinking to add tacks and hang pretty necklaces inside the frame or neatly pin some pictures or mood board items. Any other ideas? Tell me! What would you use it for?

Art + Wine Classes: Yay or nay?

I think because I like to pretend I’m a true artist I was a little apprehensive and judgmental about those wine and art classes. The fact that everyone does the same exact picture makes them seem non-artisty to me. All the art classes I’ve taken as an adult have been ones where you can do whatever the hell you want without being instructed. Which is maybe why half the time they make me so stressed out and hate myself. And, I don’t know if you’ve heard, there’s a BAR at these trendy classes! I could be convinced to take a calculus class if they told me there was a bar there.

So I decided to give it a try. With my mom and older sister in tow, I showed up for a Wednesday night class to paint an autumn scene. First thing’s first, we got wine at the bar. (They were out of champagne, exCUSE me?! Whatever.) Then I started sizing up my competition. For some reason, arts and crafts makes me super competitive (wouldn’t it be nice if work or real life did that to me?) so I wanted to make sure mine would be the best. Or better than my sister’s at least.

Here we are, just the happiest little family of painters.

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The weird thing about the class is that I kind of felt like I was painting blind. It was a much different experience than when I sit down to paint at home or in a class. The actual picture we were copying was about the size of a postage stamp and hung on the wall .5 miles away so that wasn’t much help. Mom kept freaking out about this fact. She also started adding cobblestones without being told and totally going AWOL on her picture and then everyone loved it. I had half a mind to tell on her. But I actually found the experience liberating. Since I just did what I was told and had no idea what I was really supposed to be doing, there was much less to stress out about (except when the goddamn bar was going to be open for service again). The process is a little dumbed down and not every single detail is included but I think that definitely helped make the project easier and completable in a few hours. I can’t remember the last time I finished a painting in that amount of time…or a quarter of that amount of time. So yay for finishing one!

Overall rating: An A! It was fun, so much less stressful than normal, fun to hang with the fam, drink, and accomplish something.

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Lessons learned:

  1. Just always be drinking when you’re painting. Just do it.
  2. Not every detail needs to be painted.
  3. Frequent cheese breaks are a must. (My sister’s snacks totally helped my…inspiration, or whatever.)
  4. There’s always someone whose painting is worse than yours to make you feel better.

You can buy my picture for $5,000. I swear there are only like 50 others like it out there.

Ta da!

Spray Paint Is Magic!

This really isn’t even a craft. It’s just such an easy money-saver and it’s just the type of thing I usually forget I can do. I see that someone else did this and I think “Of course, it’s so obvious and cheap, why didn’t I do that?”

I’m quite spur-of-the-moment (which often leads me to spend more than I need to) so I decided, after looking at Apartment Therapy (my new absolute favorite source of inspiration and cause of my desperate attempt to be frugal) that I needed plants in my apartment! Plants! Who doesn’t have plants? Me. Because I kill them. And the last time I grew basil it ended in a trip to urgent care and 7 stitches (long story). But it’s been a year or 2, I can handle it. Of course I bought the plants and realized I had nothing to plant them in.

But instead of buying up Home Depot’s stock of ok-looking pots that were around $5 a piece for the size I wanted, I headed to Dollar General. Right when I walked in, there was the spring gardening display and a bunch of pots…that were frumpy maroon and green colors. As I was in the process of deciding if I could live with those or needed to begin a wild goose chase for pretty pottery, I realized that my options actually went beyond expensive designer pottery (which, let’s be honest, would have been my next step) or ugly and cheap. I bought three maroon pots, mulled over the color I wished they were for about, oh, an hour, bought some glossy white spray paint (yes, it took me that long to decide on white. I even slept on it), sprayed away (2 coats in an hour, dry for 24 hours), and my $1 pots look a lot more expensive than that, don’t you think?

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Sometimes it just takes thinking about something for longer than you would to find a cheaper way to get it done. As I said, this is clearly not groundbreaking but it’s the type of thing I would normally not think of and would just go ahead and buy whatever looked good and costed more. Also, since I’m so accident prone (i.e. the basil drama), it’s sometimes nice to have a quick and easy project that goes smoothly and looks great.

Total cost: $16

  • Plants: $3 a piece = $9
  • Pots: $1 a piece = $3
  • White glossy spray paint: 1 can = $4

Not too bad to have custom (albeit white) colored pretty potted plants to add some life to your place! The tip from the guy whose apartment inspired me said he couldn’t imagine having a room without several plants in it. The more I looked at the pictures of his great apartment (here if you’re interested), the more I began to agree with him. And now that I’m beginning to do that in my apartment, I’m fully on board the plant train. (PS how adorable are those little plant babies? I hope they never grow up.)

Mod-Podge Paris Tray Table

This post has been a long time coming, which is not really excusable for how simple the project was! My favorite part is how cheap it was too. I picked up this little tv stand at an estate sale last summer for no more than $2. The idea was to mod-podge some cool paper on top of it, paint the legs, and make it a fun little side table. I toyed with the idea of mod-podging (which I had previously referred to as “hodge podge” and “modge podge”, both of which I learned don’t exist) some actual objects onto the top of it (i.e. postcards or pictures) but once I found this paper, I figured it did the work for me. I picked this up at a store in Minneapolis that’s hard to describe other than it has lots of fun STUFF. I’m loving these papers! A few bucks each but tons of styles and they’re thick and sturdy enough to use for all kinds of projects. I’ll definitely have to find more ideas as I’ve found these at an art supply store near me.

Anyway the mod-podge was probably the most expensive part of the project. It nearly broke the bank at $7. I pulled the tray piece off the legs and shellacked that paper onto the tray with a good 5 or 6 coats. It created a nice thick coating but I think I’ll still need to be careful not to get it wet or spill on it (not my strong suit). One issue I had was getting the paper tightly fitted into the curved corners. If you look closely (please don’t), the paper ripped in one corner and kind of stretched over another so it doesn’t fit in tight. Better luck next time. I did find that getting the paper and the tray pretty soaked in mod-podge first helped with the pliability. I threw about 4 coats of gold craft paint on the legs with a foam paintbrush and ta-da!

Total cost (estimated):

  • Table – $2
  • Paper – $3
  • Mod-podge – $7
  • Gold paint – $3

For a grand total of only about $15! Not bad. I’m still undecided on how much I like this. It’s definitely a handy size and height for my living room but probably not something I’ll move into a decent house one day. It works with my small apartment and mismatched decor for now though. What do you think? Cute or cheap looking?

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Here’s the festive 70’s tv tray before. I know, I can’t believe I would cover those fetching ribbons up either.

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View from the top. I’m kind of obsessed with Paris and fell in love with the paper. I think the angled placement worked out too.

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Painted the legs gold. Took a few coats but I like how it turned out.