Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Back Again Tomorrow

I know I haven't been blogging as much this week as normal. Life is hectic and just getting in the way of me having some fun! I should be back with a post on painting and glazing furniture tomorrow and of course the Fab Friday Favorites with an Easter/Spring theme on Friday. And don't miss the holiday Haiku on Saturday.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Oh No - Comment Replies Not Reaching You

** Updated ** I just learned some horrible news! Some of you who have been nice enough to comment on my blog are not getting my responses to your comments. I faithfully respond to each comment that is left within 24 hours.

See I get an email every time somebody comments with their name and their comment. I respond by hitting the reply button in the email, thank you for reading and type in a quick little note. I've been thinking that I'm developing a relationship with you, my readers.

Turns out that if your profile does not have your email address listed in it, you aren't getting my responses. They go into a blogger black hole. I did a quick little survey and out of the last 25 comments I received only 9 people actually received my response.

Ladies, update your profile and put your e-mail address in it! For me I go to my profile, click edit, scroll down 1/2 way on the page and under Identity there is a box for your email address. ** Also have the boxes show e-mail address and share profile checked. This only works if you have a Google account ** If you don't like having your "real" email address out there for everyone to see, create a new one that you use just for blogging in gmail or yahoo.

So for those of you who have been nice enough to leave a comment on my blog in the past, I sincerely thank you for it. I love reading each and every one of them. It means a lot to me that you take the time to visit, read and respond to my posts. Add your email to your profile so that we can get to know each other better!

In the Kitchen - Banana Bread


This quick bread is low in calories but still high in taste! You'll love this moist, dense bread.

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup light butter softened
3 ripe bananas mashed up (I always use 4-5)
1/4 cup low fat milk
1/4 cup low fat sour cream
2 large egg whites
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350.

Beat sugar and butter at medium speed until well-blended. Add banana, milk, sour cream, and egg whites; beat well.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture, beating until blended.

Spoon batter into a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on wire rack; remove from pan.

Quick banana tip: if you have bananas that are getting too ripe to eat, throw them in the freezer. Yup just in the skin, don't do anything to them. When you are ready to bake with them, just defrost and peel. They will be a little more liquid-y than normal but otherwise they work fine. Don't be alarmed when the banana turns completely black in the freezer. Recipe from Cooking Light, 2000.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Haiku Saturday

What projects to do
When I have help in 3 weeks
My condo update

Friday, March 26, 2010

Fab Friday Favorites

I'm back with another Fab Friday Favorites where I spotlight super creative ideas I run across on my travels around the web.

These chalkboard and painted leaf coasters are from Me and My Bucket. I just love this idea. How much fun it would be for a party or just every day. I'd love to coordinate the painted leaves with my decorating colors. The blog looks like it's having a little difficulties, just scroll down for the tutorial on these fun coasters.

This is a wonderful tutorial for collapsible fabric storage baskets from Sew 4 Home. Designer looking fabric baskets can be so expensive. With this detailed tutorial you can make your own and pick just the right fabric for your space.

Isn't this just the coolest? It's a large cardboard letter with black and white family pictures mod podged on from A Little Moore. This would be great in a family room, a baby's room, for a wedding or how I might use it for my son's high school graduation party. I just need to figure out if I use his first or last initial. I think all 3 might be too much. Love, Love, Love.

This is another mod podge project this time from At Second Street. Kalleen created trees using her kids hand and arm for the tree trunk and branches. I just love the colors and textures she created. And what a cute way to document your children, they grow so quickly.

This purse is made from a felted wool sweater. Isn't it a great color?! The Inadvertent Farmer gives detailed instructions so you can make one too.

On the last Fab Friday Favorites I gave a few examples of organizational systems. Here is another creative one, this time from The Feminist Housewife. Caroline used an old window frame to create hers.

Infarrantly Creative gives instructions on how to spray paint your door hardware and make it last. Here they went from standard builder gold to an updated brushed silver color.

I hope you were inspired by today's Fab Favorites. When you visit the sites tell them Black Kats Design sent you.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Easy Curtains and Bedskirt

As part of my ongoing makeover of my friends Bruce and Alison's master  bedroom, we updated their window valences and bedskirt. Read more about the makeover here.

The old window treatments were made by Alison and were quite pretty. They matched one of Alison's quilts and were very effective at blocking light. Part of the makeover goal was to lighten up the room and make it more neutral so that her quilts could be switched out and still coordinate with the other fabrics in the room.

The new window treatments are made from burlap and have a brown velvet ribbon woven through the bottom. They let in a lot more light but still provide privacy. Aren't they pretty?!

The treatments were easy to make. Create a rod pocket on top wide enough for your curtain rod. Hem all the edges. Or if you cut the burlap right, you can use the salvage edge for the bottom and forgo the hem. For the ribbon treatment, Alison measured up from the bottom and pulled the horizontal threads out of the burlap until it was the width of the ribbon. Then she put a safety pin on the end and wove the brown ribbon through the remaining vertical threads.

I thought we would have to count the vertical threads to ensure the weave was even. Alison gave it a go and eyeballed it and it turned out great. She is much looser in her decorating than I am. I would have counted and tripled the time to make it! If you need more detailed instructions on how to make the window valance, let me know.

Now I don't have a before picture of the bedskirt. It was a sage green, coordinated with the handmade quilt and had split corners for a footboard. Very basic.

To make the new skirt take the old bedskirt apart. You want to remove the ruffle part and keep the decking part (the part that sits over the box springs). We reused the decking and sewed the new skirt to it. If you wanted to save the removal part, you could just use an old fitted sheet.

The new bedskirt is a simple strip of burlap the length of the decking to the floor. Alison cut it so that the salvaged edges are the bottom of the skirt, so she didn't have to hem it. Sew burlap strips together to fit the width around the bed minus where the headboard. Sew this long strip to the decking. Alison's came out great and fit perfectly the first time around. If you need more detailed instructions on how to make a bedskirt just let me know.

We spent $8 for 4 yards of burlap (with a 40% off coupon) and $8 for two spools of velvet ribbon. The existing bedskirt was free.

For under $20 and a little time at the sewing machine, you can update your windows and bedskirt. Quick, easy and cheap - how I like all my projects. Alison is a great seamstress, but anybody who can sew a semi-straight line can make these.

Linking up to these fabulous parties. Come check them out!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Easy Upholstered Headboard with Nailhead Trim

 Don't mind the missing nailhead trim. The cat's scratched it out and it has to be
glued back in. Before we even got a final picture! Darn cats!

This is one post in a series of posts about a mini makeover of my friends Alison and Bruce's master bedroom. We replaced their outdated starter headboard with a new burlap upholstered headboard with nailhead trim. Have no power tools? No problem, this project is for you. Instead of wood, we used a panel of foam insulation board.

This project cost only $37:
$19 for the foam insulation board
$8 for the nailhead trim from a local upholstery store
$8 for the burlap fabric
$2 for duct tape
glue gun and sticks - on hand
6" of hook and loop tape - on hand
full size batting - on hand but would normally cost around $12 with a 40% off coupon.

The foam insulation board came in a 4'x8' by 2" thick sheet. You should have seen us getting it home. It didn't completely fit in her SUV so we had it wedged in at an angle with the rear doors open and several feet hanging out. I was sitting on the floor in the back holding on to it for dear life as the wind whipped it back and forth. Alison reduced her Indy Speedway driving down to a slow pace and had her hazard lights on the trip home. We must have been  a sight!

Step 1: Determine the size you want your headboard. Alison's bed is a queen and 60" wide. We wanted it a tiny bit bigger so we went with 62".  We kept it the 4' height the board came in so we could just lean it up against the wall and not deal with how to support it.

Step 2: Cut the foam board to the desired length. We were assured by the nice young man at the hardware store that it would be easy to cut. We tried to get them to cut it there and used our nicest smiles but it didn't work. Bruce and Alison used several hand tools to cut the board - it wasn't as easy as promised, but still very doable once the right tool was found. They started with scoring the board with a mat knife on both sides. Then moved onto a hack saw, then a really sharp kitchen steak knife.

Step 3: Cover the board in batting stretching it smooth and taping to the back using duct tape. We used 2 layers of batting for a softer, puffer bed. This made the nailhead trim not grip enough, so I would recommend using only one layer.

Step 4: Cover the board in your material of choice. We used burlap and had to seam the fabric so it would be wide enough. We put the seam at the bottom of the board where it would be covered by the mattress. Stretch the fabric tightly but evenly and tape to the back of the board. Make sure your fabric is free of wrinkles before you start as they won't necessarily stretch out. 

Say "Hi" to Alison!

Step 5: Draw a light pencil line on the fabric around the board for your nailhead trim. Ours is about 1" in from the edges. Push the nailhead in straight into the foam using the line as a guide. Try to get the nailheads an even width from each other. There is a special upholstery tool made for spacing nailheads evenly. We eyeballed it and embraced the handmade look. You can't see the line here but we started with a nail in the center of the board and worked our way out.

This is were the two layers of batting made a difference. Some nailheads didn't want to grip the foam board and were loose. We thought it would be OK since they weren't falling out or anything. Everything was OK, until one of her cats decided to scratch at it and popped out a hand full of trim. Before we even got a final picture!

Alison will be going back around and using her glue gun and putting a bead of glue on each nailhead and reinserting them. We also ran out of nailheads and will be continuing the line down the length of the headboard once she gets more from the upholstery shop.

Step 6: Place a 3" long piece of adhesive hook and loop tape on each corner and stick the headboard to the wall. The headboard is 4' tall and sits on the floor. The mattress frame holds it in place. We only used the hook and loop tape to keep the headboard from falling over when the mattress is moved for making the bed.

The headboard made a huge difference in the room. It increased the usable space by a good 12" and really lightened up the look of the room. We're both very happy with the way it turned out. The most difficult part of the project was getting the foam insulation board home and cutting it. And keeping the cats away from it!

So for under $40 and no power tools you too can have an easy to make brand new upholstered headboard!

Linking up to these wonderful blog parties.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Before Pictures - Alison's House

As you probably read, I took a couple days off to visit my good friends Alison and Bruce in Indianapolis IN and to help with a mini-makeover of their master bedroom with a $200 budget. We had a great time: catching up because it has been several months since we saw each other (even though Alison and I talk almost daily on the phone) shopping for supplies and accessories, planning our strategy, eating out, visiting friends, being fed great meals by Alison's husband Bruce (it was his job to feed us) going to church and taking a nap because we were plum tuckered out. Somewhere in there Alison and I managed to get a couple projects done. We didn't accomplish as much as we were hoping for in the 2 full days we had, but isn't that always the case?

Today I thought I'd share some before pictures with you. You'll notice the lovely 1980's pressboard old waterbed furniture suite that they started with. Alison couldn't wait to get real wood furniture in there. The walls look kind of pink-ish in some pictures but are really a lovely light milk chocolate color. The one wall I don't have pictures of, has the closets and the door to the room. Notice the dark purple chair? That was my first upholstery project and one of the cat's favorite place to snooze.

Over the next week or two I'll show you each project that we did so stay tuned for all the details!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Decorating Trip

I'm taking a long weekend to go visit my best friend Alison in Indianapolis Indiana. While I'm there we will be updating her master bedroom on a $200 budget. Stay tuned for some great projects - we're rearranging, painting, upholstering, sewing and accessorizing. I'll be back posting on Tuesday with pictures!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It's Craft Time - Wordle

OK, last week I said you would see a project made with magazine strips. Well - it didn't go as planned. I need a little more time to get things working properly and then you'll see it, I promise! 

I've found the best toy for you to play with! It's a site that allows you to easily create word clouds or Wordles. You can change font, colors, and style of the word cloud. Then you can easily print them.

Below are a two Wordle thumbnails I made in only a few minutes. I know they are kind of tiny here, but click on them to be taken to the online gallery to see them in their full sized glory. They are so much cooler full sized, I promise.

Wordle: Decorate Organize Create 2

Wordle: Decorate, Create, Organize 1

A couple Wordle tips: make a list of your words in a document and past them into the software. I hadn't found an easy way to go back and add a word without starting from the beginning and loosing your previous words.  Type a word twice or three times to make it larger than the other words. In the examples I typed Decorate, Organize and Create three times and Color and Texture twice. The more words you use the fuller and nicer looking Wordle you will have.

My brothers received framed Wordles as Christmas gifts. Wouldn't they make great wedding or baby shower gifts also? Don't tell, but I plan to make one for my son's High School Graduation (he hardly ever reads my blog, so I should be safe). They are so easy, unique and fun. I hope you go forth and Wordle!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Define your Style with Sproost

I found a fun site called Sproost that helps you define your decorating style. You view a series of rooms and rate them from Love it to Hate it. The site evaluates your responses and summarizes your design style based on your room choices. When you sign up (for free) you can then set a budget and look at hundreds of pieces of furniture and accessories that match your style. You choose your favorites and create different layouts. You can also look at style layouts already completed for inspiration. It's fun! Try it here.

My design style was determined very accurately. I'm 60% Vintage Modern, 20% Rustic Revival (probably for my love of texture) and 20% Contemporary (reflected in my love for clean lines and minimal style - which makes crafting and displaying my work difficult!)

This is what they say about Vintage Modern:

"Flea Market anyone? You know you are drawn to modern furniture and interiors, and yet you really don't like a space that feels cold and sterile. And who could blame you? And that's why Vintage Modern is so appealing to you. Though the backdrop of the room, the walls and windows, are many times white or monochromatic, the furniture and accessories have the color, shape and texture to bring the warmth into the space. The great thing about Vintage Modern is ease of mixing different styles in the one space. You can have a new modular sofa mixed with a great pair of chairs that your grandmother purchased in the late 1950's and the new and old work appear as though they were destined for each other. What's great is that even if you don't have time for swap meets and garage sales, so many of the pieces from the mid-century were so great that they have been remade and mimicked year after year."

"When it comes to color, walls are seen as backdrops for the room. Neutral tones of gray, white, beige and brown are very common and black is a common accent color. Pops of color on the art, furniture and accessories can vary dramatically based on the person, however very common colors are teal blues, army greens and yellow as well as deep oranges and bright reds."

The top picture is their example of Vintage Modern. The bottom is a picture of my living room with Mid Century Modern furniture (the table has now been replaced with a bigger dresser). My color scheme is backwards. I have the turquoise, olive green and brown on the walls and the furniture and soon to be drapes are moving towards a few pops of colors but more natural canvas and white colors. Black is my accent color. I have other pops of color in hand made art and accessories. I really like color. Nothing in my home is new, most of my furniture is from the late 50's or early 60's. Even my lamps and dishes are vintage. The stuff that isn't vintage, like my couch, was a Craig's List purchase (new to me) but has vintage lines. My idea of a perfect day includes either thrift stores or antique shops, or both!

Did you take the quiz? How did it turn out for you? Was it accurate or is it pointing you in a different design direction than you expected?


Monday, March 15, 2010

In the Kitchen - Easy Beef and Noodles

This is a tasty dish, good for when you have a tougher piece of meat. It only takes a few minutes to throw it in a pot to cook unattended for an hour or so.

1 package extra wide noodles
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 tsp thyme, crushed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. boneless beef chuck roast
4 C good beef broth
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. vegetable oil

Trim fat from meat and cut into 3/4" cubes.

In 5 qt. dutch oven, brown half of meat in hot oil. Remove. Brown remaining meat with onion and garlic. Add more oil if necessary. Drain fat. Return meat to pan.

Stir in broth, bay leaf, thyme and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered 1 hour or until meat is tender.

Stir in noodles. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook, covered about 10 minutes or until noodles are tender. Remove bay leaf.

Serves 6