Monday, April 30, 2012

A Cheap Trick (Monogrammed Paint Chip Artwork) & a Give-Away!

i've been working on some hand-made artwork to hang in mack's room and i'm really excited about it. it's a collage of M's (since his initials are M.M.M. cute, right?) in various brightly-colored frames, each of which i plan to include the DIY instructions to in my cheap tricks series. each one is practically free to make and is super easy.

today, we're going to start with the monogrammed multicolored scallops piece. i know that sounds weird, but you'll get it when you see it.

here's what you need:

  • a piece of poster board (i used bristol board, but posters are much cheaper) cut down to 8x10 (or whichever size you prefer)
  • an assortment of paint chips (aka: paint sample cards), which you can get for free from any home improvement store
  • a circle punch, which you can get at walmart or any craft store
  • a glue stick
  • scissors
here's how to do it:

start out with your paint chips and circle punch. punch as many circles out of the chips as you can. i used a 1.5 inch punch, because it fit better with the paint chips than a larger punch would have.

tip: when choosing your colors, be sure to stay within the same color family, as in colors that have the same undertone. home improvement stores tend to group the colors by family anyway, so it makes it easier if you stick with the same paint brand and in the same area. otherwise, you're going to have to hold the chips next to each other and determine whether they clash or not.

next, apply glue to the backs of the circles and press them to the poster board in a row. (you arrange these in any order you wish, grouping the colors together or in a particular order or completely randomly.) the next line should overlap as shown in the following photo:


tip: start at the top, working your way down, and don't apply them firmly until you're sure of their position, in case you want to scoot one over a tad.

after they've all been applied, you should have overlap on all four sides of the board. with the back facing you, trim the edges with your scissors.


when you're done it should look something like this:


you can either leave it like this to frame or you can monogram it. to monogram it, in a word document, type your chosen letter at a point size that will fill most of the sheet (this varies from font to font). then highlight the letter and, in the font editing section, choose "outline". you can then print it and cut it out. i recommend printing on cardstock, because it won't show glue as much as printer paper does when applied to your artwork.

this is what it looked like when i was finished:

i took this before i attached the M.

it may sound like a lot of steps, but this whole project, from start to finish, was so fast that i was able to do it during one of mack's naps. still think it sounds like too much work? well then you should enter to win one!

that's right, i'm giving away a carlia original! ;) the winner will get a ready-to-frame 8x10 with the monogram of their choice. the winner will be chosen at random and announced on friday, may 4th at noon. as always, to enter all you have to do is follow me (if you aren't already a follower) and leave a comment with your email address and letting me know you would like to be entered (US & canada residents only). easy-peasy!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Guest Post

ashley over at flats to flip flops asked me to do a guest post, sharing my IF story, for NIAW. it's my first guest post, so it's kind of a big deal. ;) so, head on over and check it out!

and here's a pic of my happily ever after...





fyi - i'll be posting the give-away on monday!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Pic Tip #3

pic tip #3: perfect black & white pics

you know when you take a really good picture and you think to yourself, "this would look great in black & white" and when you remove all color it just doesn't look the way you thought it would? yeah, that's happened to me, too.

the problem is usually that the picture looks dull, that the removal of color has taken away the dimension it had before, that the detail has been lost. well, here's a quick & easy remedy that anyone can do with the most simplistic editing programs...

let's start with a basic photo, one with decent lighting and detail:

now, let's remove the color:
looks a little dull, right?

this looks a lot better:

let's compare side by side, so you can really see the difference:
 

now, for the trick...

first, open the photo in your editing program. next, view it in grayscale/make it black & white. finally, increase the brightness and contrast. really, that's it? yup, that's it. this is something that every photo editing program can do, so don't feel like you have to go out and buy photo.shop or some other fancy-schmancy program.

here are some more examples:

if you happen to have photo.shop, there are lots of additional things you can do to make your photos look more polished, but just start out with the brightness and contrast at first. 

feel free to play around with your settings. each photo is different and will require a different amount of contrast. and don't be afraid to push buttons, because you can always hit "undo" or simply not save the new version.

happy editing!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

New Look, Same Blog

welcome to the official unveiling of the redesigned stork drop zone! ...except it's not really the stork drop zone anymore.

i've had the stork drop zone since 2008 and not only have i changed, but so has my blog over all this time. i've evolved from obsessing about infertility to blogging about what i love: my family, my photography, my crafts, my other hobbies, as well as random thoughts and, of course, infertility. this is my space, where i can let myself be me, so it needs to reflect who i am today and what my life has become.

why the new name? well, i thought long and hard about what to call my blog and i chose nest building 101, because life is a classroom (cheesy, huh?) and the things i'm learning in it are centered around the home, my nest. this new name leaves it open for me to blog about anything under my roof (ie. family, crafting, interior design, etc.), as well as my struggle with infertility. (don't worry, fellow IFers. i'll be back in the trenches before the year is out, so you'll be hearing more about that journey along the way.)

i'm really excited about this change! it feels polished and sort of grown up, but still fun. heck, i feel like i'm the one who got the make-over! :) but i hope that you all like it as much as i do, that you feel comfortable here, that it feels familiar to you. this is the start of some big stuff to come and i hope you'll all be a part of it!

the first thing on my agenda is to do a give-away next week. are you curious to know what i'm giving away? well, you'll just have to wait till then. just try not to go crazy obsessing over just how awesome it's going to be in the meantime, though. ;)

and while you're here, feel free to grab my new button!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It Is What It Is

as most of you know, B has been working up in rhode island since march of 2011. it hasn't been ideal...in fact, it sucks the big one.

he's had to miss almost everything over the last year. he even missed the ultrasound where we found out mack's gender. (i had a whole thing set up to announce it that was just waiting for him when he got home later that day, so we made the best of it.) he missed mack laughing for the first time. he missed mack scooting for the first time. he's missed so many cuddles, smiles, and kisses goodnight.

i've tried to be positive about it all and i'm truly grateful that he has a job, especially one that he enjoys and that pays well enough for me to be able to stay home with mack, but it's been tough...for both of us. he hates that he only gets to see his son on the weekends and that he's missed most of his first 3 months. he hates having to say goodbye to us at the end of every weekend and that most days he only gets to see us via webcam and photos. he hates that he doesn't get to read mack bedtime stories or hold me in his arms as we fall asleep. he hates that he can't be with us every day.

i hate it, too.

this was supposed to be a really fast project. he was supposed to be home by christmas, in plenty of time for mack's arrival, but it got delayed. then he was supposed to be home in march, but it got delayed. then he was supposed to be home in may. guess what. it's delayed again. the latest timeline shows that at the earliest he'll be home in july, but most likely not until august. yup, august. a year and a half living apart. a year and a half of picking him up from the airport (an hour drive) friday afternoons and getting up at 4am on monday mornings to drive him all the way back to get back on a plane to return to a challenging job and a tiny house that he can't call home.

i've been really good at reminding myself that it could be worse, that he could be fighting a war in some undisclosed location where we wouldn't even have weekends together, but i'm tired of putting on a brave face. so, for one brief moment, i'm going to let myself be upset. i'm going to let myself cry. i'm going to get it all out of my system...then i'm going to put that brave face back on and i'm going to smile. i'm going to tell my husband how much i appreciate his sacrifice to provide for us. i'm going to support him.

friends, will you do me a favor? hug & kiss your husband/significant other. tell him how much you love him. tell him how much you appreciate him. show him how important he is to you. be grateful that he will be by your side as you lay in bed tonight.

Monday, April 16, 2012

3 Months of Mack

i'm a bit late posting about mack turning 3 months old, since that happened on the 5th and it's now the 16th. better late than never, though.
WWHHAAAATTTT?!?

mack's next check-up isn't for another month, so i'm not sure how much he's weighing in at now, but he has definitely grown...a lot! he's filling out and getting the cutest little double chin. he still puts down bottles like there's not tomorrow, but now he's up to eating 6-8 oz every 4-5 hours. that's a lot, right?

he's still very content, but has gotten to be pretty vocal about wanting to be fed at the exact moment he feels hungry. sometimes i'm not the fastest at getting his bottles ready and, boy, do i hear about it. ha ha! when he's got a full tummy, though, he's the happiest little guy. he talks all the time, cooing and babbling to himself and anyone who's willing to listen. he smiles almost constantly, sometimes at nothing in particular, and he loves to cuddle.

naptime has been going great. i pay attention to his cues that he's tired, which mostly consists staring at nothing (we call this "zoning out"). if i let him get to the point where he's rubbing his eyes, it's too late. he won't sleep well and he'll probably need a pacifier to settle down. (he rarely needs a pacifier, otherwise.) he usually only likes to be awake for an hour - an hour & a half at a time, and, as long as i lay him down at the right time, i can set him down awake and he quietly puts himself to sleep.

this has been really helpful with bedtime, too. for the longest time, mack wanted to stay up till 9 or 10 pm then wake up for a 4 am feeding and back to bed until around 8 am. i was perfectly fine with that. a couple of weeks ago, i noticed that he was getting a bit cranky past 8 pm, so i started putting him to bed a little earlier and a little earlier, till we figured out what time works best for him. he thinks that 6:30 pm is perfect. so perfect, in fact, that he sleeps for about 12 hours every night now. he's had a few times where he only slept 10 and he's even gotten up to 13 a couple of times, but 12 is pretty steady for him. it was a little scary for me at first, but i had read that this was normal with sleep training, so i just went with it. the only thing was, we weren't sleep training him until he hit 4 months. that little sweetie sleep trained himself! ha ha! now, if only he could change his own diapers. ;)

our little man is getting really strong, too. he loves to sit in his bumbo and will stay in it for over 30 minutes some days. he's great at tummy time, too. i would call him mobile, but he's a bit directionally challenged. he winds up scooting in circles around his toy. he can't seem to get the hang of moving toward the toy to reach it. at least he keeps it in sight, though. he's halfway to rolling over, too. he gets a little frustrated that his arm gets in the way, but he'll figure it out soon.

another milestone for mack has been picking up toys and putting them in his mouth. it's a little tricky for him, but his dexterity is improving and he's able to get the result he wants (the toy in his mouth). he gets better and better at it every day, too!

maybe i see mack through rose-colored glasses, because of everything we went through to have him, but he seems so perfect to me. he was worth every bit of our journey to get him and i am loving this new chapter in our lives, because it includes him. :)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Blog Love

i got tagged by mommy someday the other day, which reminded me that i got the one lovely blog award from toiveikas a few weeks ago and totally forgot to do. so, i thought i'd roll it all into one post, because i love the love and am excited to pass it on. :)

we'll do this in chronological order, so first is the one lovely blog award.

here's how this works:
  1. share who gave you this award to you with a link back to their blog.
  2. write down 7 random facts about yourself.
  3. give this award to 15 other bloggers.
toiveikas gave me some international love with this award, since she's from finland. since i'm one of those americans who never took the time to learn another language (does 3 years of high school spanish count?), she was gracious enough to post the rules in english for me. if only the rest of her blog was in english so i could read it! ;)

 7 random facts about me...
  1. i have crazy long toes and can pick stuff up with them and pinch B on the leg under the table when he gets out of line. ;) (mack inherited my super-useful toes.)
  2. i hate taking medicine when i'm sick. i'd rather be sick a few extra days than take that awful tasting cough syrup crap! B has to force feed it to me.
  3. i am a home-body. i could stay home all day (almost) everyday and not get cabin fever. B is the exact opposite.
  4. i had a major attitude when i was little. i was super bossy and independent. one time my dad got onto my little brother (3 at the time) about something and he started crying. i (5 at the time) told him "don't worry about daddy. he's just a big bully. do what i do and pretend like you don't hear him." i hope mack didn't inherit that, too!
  5. i'm still pretty independent, but not always in a good way. i have a really hard time letting people do things for me, asking for help, or even buying something if i think i can make it myself. hhhmmm...independent and cheap. awesome.
  6. i keep myself up almost every night, tossing and turning, because my mind has this steady stream of ideas. they can be anything from ideas for blog posts to new artwork i want to paint to something i want to make for B, and everything random in between.
  7. i hate citrus fruit. i know, i'm crazy! i just can't stand oranges, pineapples, lemons, etc. i've tried to like them. really, i have!
 now, for the 15 bloggers i'm awarding this to...
  1. jessah @ dreaming of dimples
  2. krista @ schell family blog
  3. heather @ a little hope in my pocket
  4. slese1014 @ mommyhood after fertility frustration
  5. natalie @ my blog is boring
  6. dj @ the life of miss conception
  7. foxy @ my foxy family
  8. nv @ baby nv
  9. ashley @ flats to flip flops
  10. 3 bed, 2 bath, 1 baby
  11. blossom @ dragon and blossom's adventures
  12. the stork diaries
  13. dandelion @ adrift on a dandelion breeze
  14. mommy someday @ waiting for baby
  15. jen @ the chronicles of violetta margarita

and here we go with the tag:
here are the rules:
post the rules.
answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post.
create 11 new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
tag 11 people and link them to your post.
let them know you’ve tagged them.

1. describe your fashion style.
saying that i have fashion style is using the term loosely. ha ha! i prefer jewel tones (for my fair skin) and i'm kind of obsessed with scarves. i guess my style could be considered to be a mixture of classic and trendy. i like to mix fancy pieces with casual pieces. i'm not sure how well it works, but i wear it anyway. :)
2. if you could pick any place, regardless of distance or price, to go out to eat, where would you go and why?
if i could live anywhere, (i know this sounds boring, but...) i would move to a small ranch in the middle of nowhere in central texas, north of austin. that's where i lived when i was a kid and i miss it so much!
3. what kind of exercise do you prefer?
i love running, but tae bo would definitely come in second.
4. describe your dream vacation.
i would love to go on a tour of england and scotland. it would be so neat to tour the castles and the countryside.
5. speaking of vacations, what is your most memorable vacation?
when i was about 6 (i think), my family drove to tuscon, arizona to visit my aunt and her family. they took us to tombstone. it was amazing! the best part was getting to ride this enormous bull. don't worry, he was tame. :)
6. where do you see yourself in a year? 5 years?
in a year i hope to be finished with most of my projects. ha ha! in 5 years, i would like to have had another child or two.
7. what is the last book you read? Was it for work/school or for fun?
the last book i read was "my name is memory" by ann brashares. it was definitely for fun. i'm an avid reader, or, i was before mack got here. i'm currently reading "the night circus" by erin morgenstern.
8. how did you meet your significant other?
this is a much longer story than i have room for right here. in a nutshell, we ran into each other, got to talking, started hanging out, became best friends, fell in love, and got married...all within a 5 month period. when it's right, it's right. :)
9. what did you study in college?
photography & graphic design
10. are you a jealous person?
not really, but i can be pretty competitive.
11. what is your relationship like with your family?
i have a wonderful relationship with my family! i have been blessed to have wonderful parents and incredibly supportive siblings. but, it doesn't hurt that i live 2000 miles away, so they don't see me often enough to get sick of me. ;)



the following bloggers should consider themselves tagged!
  1.  josey @ my cheap version of therapy
  2. sarah @ baby talk
  3. just us & a miracle baby, too!
  4. ashley @ flats to flip flops
  5. andrea @ palm trees & rainy days...
  6. bridget @ the lost stork
  7. tiffany @ a stroll in the neighborhood
  8. maria @ every day is a country song
  9. journey through IF
  10. mac @ mac & pc
  11. jennifer @ do i have to be a D.I.N.K.?
now, here are your totally awesome questions...
  1. what is your most valued possession (besides people/pets)?
  2. what do you love most about yourself?
  3. if you could have any exotic animal as a pet, what would it be?
  4. tell us about your first car.
  5. what is your favorite flower?
  6. are you an early bird or a night owl?
  7. if you could meet any IF blogger (because we're all practically celebrities!), who would it be?
  8. what is your biggest fear?
  9. if you could change your name, what would you choose?
  10. if you could go back in time to another era, which would you go to?
  11. what is your best talent and what is something that you wish you were good at?
enjoy!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mack-sitting

i did it. i left mack with a sitter...twice...in one week. *GASP* i know, i know, but we both survived.

two of my awesome friends stepped up to watch him for me (different days, of course), which was awesome, because we can trade babysitting instead of paying each other. yeah, we're all pretty cheap like that.

i was surprisingly calm leaving him. i thought i would be hysterical, but, although i did think about him constantly, i didn't cry. go me!

the first friend that watched him has two kids, one of which is only a few months older than mack. we'll call her addy. well, addy has now been dubbed mack's girlfriend and i'll show you why:


my friend laid them on the floor next to each other, turned around for one second, and when she turned back around addy was putting the moves on mack! ha ha! he didn't seem to mind, either. i'm not sure if this is a sign that mack is going to be a ladies man or not, but the ladies sure seem to love him already. ;)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Enter the GIVE-AWAY!

ashley over at flats to flip flops is launching the new "hope" t-shirt line today and to celebrate, she's giving one away!

aren't they fabulous?!?

so, head over there and enter to win.

or, better yet, visit the online store and order one today! 100% of the proceeds go to the hudson foundation, to help make IVF possible for infertile couples. this is such an easy way to help make someone's dreams of parenthood come true.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

3 Month Milestone

loving me some bumbo!
mack turned 3 months old today, but not only did he officially turn a month older, he also giggled! he's come pretty close to giggling here and there, but today it was a lot. :)

we had just gotten back from an almost 4 mile walk with JTIF and piper, where mack had gotten a great nap in his bjorn. well rested and freshly changed, he was in the best mood. i had him laying on the couch next to me and as i leaned over, talking to him in a really bad british accent, he giggled and giggled! it was amazing! apparently, me referring to myself as "mummy" is pretty hilarious. ;)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Take a Moment

i'm considering a name change. oh, not for me, but for the blog. of course, i would stay at the same url, so you won't get lost on your way over here, but the title of the blog could change. what are your thoughts on it, though? to rename or not to rename, that is the question. so, take a moment to take my poll. it's at the top of my sidebar - you can't miss it! thanks!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Another Cheap Trick: New Life for an Old Table

we have been in desperate need of an end table for way too long, but the furniture budget was pretty much maxed out when i agreed to let B buy the leather reclining sectional of his dreams. yeah, it's pretty much a man couch, but at least it's comfy.

anyway, i went to goodwill last week on a mission. i was bound and determined to find an affordable end table. nothing fancy, mind you, or even stylish. just something with potential.

only $25? sold!
well, for $25 i got stuck with this:

boring!

can you see the potential here? i sure could! a bit of sanding, a couple cans of white spray paint (the kind with paint and primer in one), a small container of yellow furniture paint, a can of blue spray paint, a little bit more sanding and...voila!

i'm in love!

i almost didn't distress it, but B suggested it and it made all the difference. go B! he has surprisingly good taste. ;)

i kept the distressing light, so it wouldn't look like i tried too hard.

when all was said and done, this table cost me under $40 and only took me 3 days of working after i put mack to bed to finish it. totally worth it!


tips for bringing new life to old furniture:

  • get an electric sander. they aren't expensive and they save you so much time
  • don't be afraid of color, but remember that a little bit goes a long way...unless that's the look you're going for. i don't judge. ;)
  • have a pack of q-tips handy. when painting small, detailed areas, these are a must, because even the steadiest hands get tired. seriously, get the q-tips. you'll thank me later.
  • look past the ugly. this table looked sad, dated, and damaged when i bought it, but it had one redeeming feature - the scrolling on the drawer. if you can find a focal point on the piece, it may be worth saving.
  • sand between coats (except for the small areas of color). this will keep your finish smooth and prevent the next coat from bubbling. a fine grit (i used 240) sandpaper is the way to go.
fyi - my upcoming projects include recovering the ottoman and refinishing a lamp to go on the table. i'm so excited!
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