...because home doesn't happen overnight.
06.10.13 / Five Things

What day is it?

Last week was my kids’ first full week of summer break which happened to coincide with one of HH’s business trips. I decided it would also be a good time to sort through the mess that was our attic. After herding the kids and staying up well past 1:00 a.m. every night for the past week to wrestle the attic into submission, my brain is mush. But the attic is looking fantastic! As far as attics go.

Thank goodness the nearest IKEA is only 25 minutes away. I took advantage of IKEA’s kids-eat-free-horse-meat-Tuesdays amidst the chaos and a few things {that cost less than $20!} caught my eye while we were there.

caught my eye

SNIKA boxes // Seriously considering these for storage in my boys’ bedroom.

TOLSBY frame // You guys, these are only 99¢! They are made of plastic {i.e. super kid-friendly} but look ceramic and I think they would look way more grown up with a coat or two of gold spray paint.

KVISSLE steel & cork box // Visible, tangled cords drive me bonkers. This sleek box hides all that. Great for a desk or charging station.

FARKOST wall lamp // I’m loving the new swing arm lamps flanking our bed but they were a splurge. For an inexpensive version, you could spray paint these bad boys gold. I love that they are adjustable so you can direct light where you need it.

SKÄRBLAD pillow cover // It’s a 20″x 20″ pillow cover and it’s $5. Why wouldn’t I love it?! I tried really hard to think up a place in my house for one or two of these pillows but, sadly, could not.

While we were at IKEA, I did grab a few things for mine and HH’s bedroom and the boys’ bedroom. Can’t wait to show you!

Here‘s your Mod MomME winner!

images: IKEA

02.04.13 / DIY Photo Postcards

My sister, Rihana, is getting married this year. We haven’t been to a wedding in a looooooooong time. I’m so excited to  have something outside of the house to look forward to! As a result, House*Tweaking might get a dose of wedding this year. Consider that a warning. I’m matron of honor {doesn’t that sound so matronly?}. Layne and Everett are ring bearers. Mabrey is a flower girl. And HH just gets to sit there and look pretty. What he does best.

My first job as matron of honor was to send out invites for the upcoming engagement party. Well, it was mine and my other sister, Alina’s, job. She’s maid of honor. I know. That just got confusing. I come from a big family. And we like unusual girl names, m’kay? Anyhow, Rihana was adamant about not labeling the party a “shower” or “celebration.” My extended family is extremely laid back and casual and we like to keep our parties the same. {Beer helps.}

Alina and I thought it would be best to DIY the invites to keep it casual. Plus, DIY’d invites have the added benefit of being a little more personal than store bought ones. A few months ago, I took engagement photos {also totally casual} of Rihana and her fiancé. I asked if she would mind if I used one of the shots for the invite. She was game.


I had 24 photos printed at my local Moto Photo in the 4″x6″ size in sepia tone in a matte finish with a white border. They were ~40¢ each. {I’m a Moto Photo member…so that might be a discounted price.} FYI – I opted for a matte finish because I think it looks more professional and I thought it would hold up better in the mail.


Then I bought 24 of these postcard stickers off the shelf – also at Moto Photo. They were 25¢ each. {I’ve seen them on Amazon for about twice that.} Last Friday night, Alina came over and we set up an assembly line to turn the photos into postcards.


Alina peeled the postcard sticker off the release paper.


I carefully lined up one photo edge with the sticker edge…


…then smoothed it out. FYI: Once the postcard sticker is stuck, it canNOT be removed. So, it’s really important to line things up properly before you smooth it all out. There’s no turning back!


Instant postcard! The sticker is quite stiff so it feels like an actual postcard too.


Alina and I are both lefties but somehow she managed to get all the good handwriting skillz. She wrote out the invite info and I addressed them. I bought fine {as in thin fine, not as in Ryan Gosling fine, although, now that I think about it, that would have been way more fun} Sharpie pens just for this step to avoid indenting the photo side of the invitations. Worked like a charm.


“He liked it so he put a ring on it” came from pinterest. I believe there were dancing Beyonces on the inspiration invitation.


Alina and I were really pleased with how they turned out. Rihana received her invite today and I got a text right away. “Got our invite in the mail today. So cute!!” Two exclamation points. I think that’s a good sign.


You could easily do this for just about any casual occasion or event: baby shower {hello, sonogram pictures!}, birthday party, Valentine’s Day {just around the corner!}, graduation open house, birth announcement, we’ve moved, Christmas postcards, etc. Really, anything. The best part is you save money by: 1) forgoing envelopes and 2) buying less expensive postcard stamps. With postage and all, I think we spent less than $1/invite which is pretty awesome considering invitees get an actual photo as a keepsake.

And now I would like to point out that I have exposed the image of Rihana & Jack kissing more than half a dozen times in one post for all to see. Jack, you are loving this, aren’t you?


One more. For good measure.


And one more because you’re a Ravens fan.


And one more because I’m a Steelers fan.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

Today I’m sharing how I DIY’d the mobile in baby’s corner. It was super easy and inexpensive. Plus, it’s completely temporary so when we blow this joint {our interim apartment housing} we should have no problem taking it with us.

First, let’s talk supplies.

1 – embroidery hoop I bought a small one {~16″ circumference} at JoAnn’s for $1.

2 – double-sided scrapbooking paper I found this metallic gold 12″ x 12″ sheet at JoAnn’s for $1.

3 – paint samples I chose coral and red swatches {Martha Stewart’s Bergamot MSL019 & Maine Lobster MSL024} and had a sample jar of each mixed up at Home Depot in the Glidden brand. This was more than enough paint but I wasn’t able to find the colors I wanted at my local craft store in a smaller container. Also, purchasing the paint samples at the home improvement store made asking for 16 paint sticks more palatable. The two jars of paint cost me $6.

Of note: The paint desk employee informed me that Home Depot will no longer be carrying the Martha Stewart Living paint. However, they will have MSL formulas in their computer so they can color match them in their Glidden brand.

4 – small foam brushes I bought cheap foam brushes to apply each of the paint samples to my paint sticks. They cost me $2.

5 – 3M Command hook I always have a slew of these on hand. With a hanging weight capacity of 5 lbs, this hook is strong enough to safely support the light mobile from the ceiling.

6 – scissors I used these to cut the scrapbooking paper into circles.

7 – fishing line Another item I always have on hand to hang decor. It’s extremely durable and invisible. I used the fishing line to suspend the paper circles from the mobile and to secure the mobile to the adhesive ceiling hook.

8 – paint sticks Since I was buying paint samples, I kindly asked the paint desk employee if I could have 16 paint sticks. He was more than happy to let me take as many as I wanted because I was a paying customer.

I’ve always been on the fence when it comes to ‘borrowing’ paint swatches/sticks for DIY craft projects. Although they are free products, I’m assuming home improvement stores tack on the cost of that lost inventory to other items somewhere down the line. Who knows? Maybe someday we’ll have to pay for our swatches and sticks. Remember when you could put air in your tires at no cost?

To determine the number of paint sticks you’ll need, simply measure the circumference of your embroidery hoop in inches.

Mine was ~16″ around. Paint sticks are roughly 1″ wide, so I grabbed 16 paint sticks knowing there would be a little space in between each stick on the mobile. I ended up only using 15 sticks.

9 – pencil {not shown because my baby brain hadn’t thought of it yet} I traced circles onto the scrapbooking paper with a pencil.

10 – tape {not shown because I think Everett was playing with it} I used clear packing tape because that’s what we have on hand at the apartment for moving day.

11 – hot glue gun & glue sticks {not shown because I had it plugged in} This is what I used to secure the paint sticks to the hoop.

Once I had everything set out, I got to work.

I removed the inner embroidery hoop {the one with no tightening screw} from the outer ring {the one with the fastener} to use as my mobile base. Essentially, you could make two mobiles from one store bought embroidery hoop if you wanted.

I separated my paint sticks into two equal piles and placed plastic shopping bags under them to use as drop cloths. I reused my JoAnn’s and Home Depot bags…waste not, want not!

Using the foam brushes, I gave each paint stick two coats of paint front and back. I didn’t bother with the sides since I wanted a homemade, imperfect look. I thought the raw wood edges would give me that. I made sure to let them dry in between each coat.

Before glueing the painted sticks onto the hoop, I tied some fishing line onto my hoop so that I’d have something to hang the mobile from.

Once all the painted sticks were dry, I started hot glueing them to the hoop. I found it easier to place the sticks by applying the glue directly to the hoop…not the sticks. I chose to attach the sticks about 2″ – 2.5″ down from the flat end {not the end with the curved indentations that are meant to act as handles when used to stir paint} and left about ¼” gap between the sticks. I held each stick firmly in place for 10-20 seconds after glueing it. I alternated coral, red, coral, red, coral…you know what comes next.

Placement wasn’t perfect. I didn’t measure as I went along glueing. I just eyeballed it and figured I could make adjustments at the end if I ended up with a gap or two reds next to each other…you know, just hang that part facing the wall. Ha! Luckily, it all worked out and the worst that happened was that I had to squeeze in my last paint stick. In the end, I used 7 coral sticks and 8 red sticks.

I let the glue dry while I moved onto the paper circles that would dangle from the mobile.

To keep things simple {and to keep me from getting up off the floor!}, I used one of my paint sample jars as the template for my circles. I traced around the bottom of the jar and filled my paper with circles.

I cut out the circles by hand. An easier option would be to use a large circle punch but I don’t have one and wasn’t willing to spend $10+ to buy one. Yes, to me, cutting by hand for 10 minutes is definitely worth the $10 saved!

Using tape and fishing line, I attached my gold paper circles to the inside of the mobile. I found this step easier when I hung the mobile from something {in my case, a floor lamp so I could stay on the floor…still} which let me see how the circles were falling and vary their heights accordingly. Basically, I hung the circles at random distances from the bottom of the mobile for a loose, casual feel. Oh, and I didn’t use all the circles I cut out. After suspending 10 circles, I felt any more would feel too busy.

Then I hung the whole thing from the ceiling via a 3M Command hook and more fishing line. I tried taking a picture of this so you could see it in more detail but fishing line is invisible and the ceiling is white, so this is what I got…

Instead of looping the fishing line around the hook as you would if you were hanging something from a wall, I looped the fishing line around the back of the adhesive hook {yup, right where the adhesive is} and just in front of the actual hook part that juts out. That arrow is pointing to where the fishing line is tied since it’s not highly visible. You could always use a screw-in ceiling hook but, again, I was trying to keep things as damage-free as possible since we’re renting. The adhesive hook is working really well so far. I’ve had it up for over a week now with no signs of it pulling loose – even with the textured ceiling.

I said it before. I just love the playful pop of color and whimsy that the little DIY mobile brings to baby’s corner.

Of course, there are all kinds of ways you could tweak my design into something different:

  • use even more paint colors for a happy, striped effect
  • use a larger hoop and more paint sticks for something bigger…like a tween girl’s faux chandy
  • fold/cut paper into different shapes
  • leave the outside of mobile natural {not painted} but paint the inside a bright hue for an unexpected surprise
  • add inexpensive cord lighting to create a pendant

Do you have any other ideas for alternative spins on my DIY paint stick mobile? I’d love to hear your brainstorming!

In other baby news, well, nothing really. I’m 38 weeks. I was 3cm dilated at my last OB appointment. Just last night I had several hours of regular contractions {about every 5-6 minutes, lasting about 1 minute}. I took a shower to see if that would stop things, thinking then I’d know if it was the real thing. The shower had no effect. We had my dad and his wife come to pick up the boys in case things progressed. I called my doula just to let her know what was going on but assured her that my contractions – while quite strong and regular – were not crazy intense and that I was coping well. She encouraged me to rest, so I did. I got some sleep off and on for a few hours with contractions still coming and going. Then all of a sudden at 8am this morning {nearly 10 hours after the contractions began} everything came to a screeching halt. HH is working from home today and I’m just going about my day, pretending last night didn’t happen.

The popular midwife adage is holding true for us: Firsts are long. Seconds are fast. Thirds are unpredictable.

FYI – Click here to see if you won the BrideBlu giveaway this week! I really enjoyed reading about all the creative ideas for ‘something blue’ on a wedding day. So much has changed since HH and I got married!

images: all Dana Miller for House*Tweaking