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!

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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?