Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Room for My Little Sailors

     As you may know, I just moved from Virginia to Rhode Island.  When we got here I decided the boys' room needed a change.  As cliched as it is for a sailor's sons to have a nautical room, I still went for it.  It may be predictable, but it is also so cute.  I will be showing updates as I go through the decorating process, but today I wanted to show the newest piece of my efforts.
     I love the idea of personalizing the room, and I wanted their names to appear somewhere.  I thought about wooden letters, but decided I wanted something a little more subtle.  I was thrilled when I visited a local store called the Christmas Tree Shops and found all kinds of nautical stuff.  The store is a misnomer because it actually has nothing to do with Christmas, but that is besides the point.  I found lots of goodies including some rustic oars for $5.99 each.  I decided to use these to make the boys' room unique and personalized.  Here's how I did it.
     I started by cutting some contact paper to use as a stencil with my Cricut machine.  You could use the vinyl specifically for die cutting, but a roll of $1 contact paper did the trick here. I cut out the words "USS" then a slightly larger name and placed them on the paddles of the oars.  I pressed the contact paper tightly to the wood and dabbed acrylic paint lightly over the stencil in an up and down motion. A painting motion will make your paint bleed. It is also important to use art quality acrylic instead of the cheap craft stuff.  The cheap kind will make your letters bleed, and you will not have a clean edge. (When I say cheap I mean the kind on sale for $.50.) The good paint is thick and stays put.  The good news it that if you screw up, you can peel your stencil off and wipe away the paint with a wet cloth.

Here it is after I have peeled the contact paper off.

     Next I nailed the oars together on the back in two places.  I hung them on the wall with pre-fixed picture hooks.  You can always add these if they don't have them already. 

Isn't this a cute addition to the room?

Total Cost: $13
Time: A little more than an hour

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to Live A Happy Life: Part 2

     Today I'm going to lump a few simple ideas into one post.  You want to be happy?  That is up to you.

1. Surround yourself with great friends.  Start by examining what you and your friends do together.  Do you sit around and gripe about your kids and husbands?  Do you talk about someone you don't like?  Are you whining about those ten pounds that just won't disappear? What is the tone of your conversations?
     A happy person is upbeat and positive.  Try to let all those "coulda shoulda woulda" feelings just melt away.  A good friendship involves people who truly care about your welfare, and those who would help you in a pinch.  They would also let you know when you're way aff base.  Do you have someone who will let you know when you're screwing up?  A good friend does not emotionally suck you dry, and you should not suck others dry, either! Good friends will help you be a happier person.

2.Carve away some time for yourself.  We all suffer from burnout at times.  A hobby or activity will go a long way in keeping you fresh and motivated.  Do something with the girls, or hire a babysitter so you can have a date with your husband.  You are so much to so many.  Don't lose who you are to yourself in the mix.

3. Be goal oriented.  Don't just wander through life.  What did you want to be when you were a child? The sky was the limit then. You don't have to give everything up just because you're a mom, or because your job is demanding.  What makes you happy?  What will make you feel accomplished?  Make a list and take small steps each day to accomplish whatever it is you would like to do.  No matter how busy you are, you can still do SOMETHING to become the person you want to be.  Don't make excuses for not living out your dreams.  YOU CAN DO IT!  Here are some ideas for you:
  • Run in a race
  • Learn a new language
  • Write a poem
  • Learn to paint
  • Read the classics
  • Save for a vacation
  • Go skydiving
  • Visit Europe
  • Plant a garden
  • Start a blog
  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter
  • Decorate a room
  • Organize your garage (Aggghhh!) 
  • Learn to sew
     You get the idea!  You can do so much if you just set your mind to it.  So get to it.  Make a list.  What are your desires and dreams?  What do you want to accomplish starting RIGHT NOW?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How to Live a Happy Life: Part 1

      We all know there are factors and circumstances that can make life seem unbearable at times.  There are accidents, illnesses, money troubles and more to get us down in the dumps.  The truth is, though, that despite these things, we still hold the key to our happiness.  We choose how to react to things.  We choose whether to trudge on or roll over.  We choose how happy we will be.
     In the next few posts I will be sharing some of my observances of women in particular, and some easy ways to be more happy and fulfilled in your life. Today I will start with the concept of Self-Talk.
     I was at a seminar many years ago when I first heard the concept of self talk.  Self talk is your inner dialogue.  These are your thoughts, from making a mental shopping list to thinking badly about someone.  Most self talk is benign.  We are planning our day, trying to remember where our keys are, praying, or reminding ourselves to send out a birthday card.  The trouble is when we get involved in negative self-talk.  Since self talk is made up completely by our brain and imagination, it has many flaws.
     Sociologists posit that we form an opinion of ourselves based on how we think others perceive us.  This is called the Looking Glass Self.  For instance, you may say something, and when a friend laughs, you get a positive feeling that you are funny.  The Looking Glass Self socializes us from a very young age.  We know when our parents are upset from just a look, or when a classmate doesn't like us from a glare.
     Unfortunately, the Looking Glass Self is not full-proof, especially for people with poor self esteems or sensitivities, and don't we all doubt ourselves sometimes?  Below are a couple of examples of how it can go wrong.

A. Jenny has been battling her weight for some time. She works hard, and watches what she eats, but she still doesn't feel comfortable in her clothes.  One morning, a co-worker looks her up and down on the way into work, but says nothing.  She likes Jenny's new skirt.  Jenny, sensitive about the way she looks, however, assumes her co-worker is judging her, and doesn't like the way she looks.  Jenny's mind then goes on overdrive. What, like she's perfect?  She could lose a few pounds, too.  She thinks she's so great, and I know that she hasn't been to the gym in a month.  Jenny's co-worker said nothing, but because of Jenny's bad self talk, Jenny now has an issue with her co-worker.

B. Katie wrote a message on Helen's Facebook wall one day asking Helen if she would like to have lunch together tomorrow.  Helen's laptop breaks and she doesn't have internet access for a few days.  Since she didn't respond to the post, Katie gets spun up. I can't believe she didn't answer.  That is so rude.  I did something nice by inviting her, and she doesn't even have the decency to call?  That's it.  I'm done trying with her.  All I am is nice, and she acts like I din't exist!
     Helen is blameless in  this situation, and doesn't even know Katie is mad at her.  By the time she gets the message, the damage will already be done.

     I tried to make the examples obvious, but self-talk is often more subtle, and does damage in our personal relationships.  Take a second to think of a time you might have done this.  I'll share one of mine that is pretty silly.
     Years ago, I would get agitated by the way my mom was looking at me.  It seemed like she was always  looking down her nose at me.  It seemed like she was really scrutinizing my face.  It wasn't until I asked her about it that I realized how silly it was that I had been sensitive.  She explained that when someone is standing close, she has to look out of the lower portion of her bifocals.  She wasn't scrutinizing me at all.  She was just trying to see me well!
     We can get ourselves into a lot of trouble assuming things about people.  We never know what others are going through.  Just because someone gives you a funny look or doesn't return your phone call immediately doesn't mean they don't like you or they're judging you.  Give people the benefit of the doubt, and ask yourself why you would assume something bad about that person.  Most likely the real trouble is with YOU.
     Cutting out negative self-talk could do wonders for our personal relationships, and happiness.  When you start to venture a guess about someone, or let your imagination get the best of you, STOP. Stick to the facts.  You're likely to save yourself a lot of trouble (and friends!).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How to Paint a Dresser

     Ever have a hard time getting rid of something that you think still has some life in it?  I am constantly feeling this way.  Just ask Brett who has to put up with a garage full of "potential" and a wife who keeps bringing home junk she finds.  Today, I am showing how to salvage an old dresser.  The specimen today is one from my youth.  I have had this lingerie chest since I was a little girl, and structurally, it is sound.  I had it for a while in my son's room when it was Ohio State themed, but now my husband is in need of a dresser for his t-shirts, socks, etc.  I could buy a dresser, but why would I do that when I can revamp a decent one to match my bedroom?
     So here's what I did.  First, I took the dresser outside. Hint: It is way easier to carry with the drawers out.  I removed the hardware and  sanded it with my power sander on all the flat, large surfaces, and used an old fashioned sand block to complete the little nooks and crannies.
When all the sheen was worn off of the dresser and drawers, I primed it with a spray primer.  The reason I used spray is because it's so easy.  I dusted a light covering, then returned for a second covering. 

I then used interior satin paint to give this baby some new life.  I used a soft paintbrush, but you can also use a roller for the large surfaces.  I did two coats of paint, making sure to let each coat dry completely before moving on.
I then replaced the old, outdated hardware with some new knobs and cup pulls from Home Depot.

This dresser only looks like a shadow of its former self!  Out is the childish look, and in is a spohisticated chest of drawers for a classy couple's bedroom. (Or even ours!)

Time elapsed: One afternoon
Rating: Easy

Friday, June 17, 2011

And I'm Back!

     Whew!  Sorry I've been gone so long!  We are finishing up our move from Virginia to Rhode Island, and things have been hectic!  My parent's came to visit, and Brett and I went on a trip to NYC.  Between unpacking, decorating, and traveling, I have had little time to blog.
     I am super excited about some how-to projects that will be coming your way shortly, but in the meantime here's a simple trick I learned during the move.  I don't mind hanging pictures.  It makes your house feel like a home.  But what of those pesky double hanger frames?  If you don't measure properly, your picture takes forever to hang, and you put about twenty nail holes in the space of a half-dollar.  A We Can Do It Girl knows how to proficiently use tools, but why bust them out when it's not necessary? Here's the lazy way to hang a picture frame.

 Here is my pesky picture.

 Take some painter's tape that you have lying around from all that painting you've been doing, and stretch it from the center of one hanger to the other.

 Remove the tape from the back of the frame, and hang it on the wall where you want your picture to be.  Stand back and see if it looks straight.

 If it looks good, hammer in nails on either side of the tape.

 There it is, the lazy approach to hanging a straight picture. No measuring tape or level needed. 
P.S. I found this little Eastlake chair at Goodwill for $12 and re-covered it. Not too shabby!