Q Women + A DIY Part 2

Why Do We Love DIY?

---Part 1 can be read here---

Prepping (as in puff painting glass vases) for the Q Ideas Women's Event gave me time to reflect on why I love DIY.  I realized that DIY has become really accessible over the years. There are tons of blogs, sites, magazines and shows out there that help make us all capable of doing something ourselves. On one hand this is AMAZING. You don't have to be a professional to make something great! Anyone can try their hand at DIY - just tap into the loads of How-To content on the web and you're set! 

On the other hand, though, because of this accessibility, suddenly EVERYONE's an expert. What was aspirational and approachable has now become really noisy. Maybe it's just me, but even as a DIY'er, I think it's easy to get overwhelmed by the loads of inspiration online and even easier to compare ourselves to all the unbelievable projects and crafters out there - don't even get me started on everyones ridiculous photography skills. All this noise takes away from from the sweet and simple reality of what DIY is. It's making something with our hands. Learning by doing. Being inspired to create our own version of something. When we push the noise aside, there are actually wonderfully simple sensibilities to be learned from Doing it Yourself. 

Rather then focusing on beautiful before & after photos, our favorite Etsy shops or even our own crafting skills, we should reframe our perspective to see through the lens of potential. The lens of potential opens us up to a world of creative possibilities and even life lessons! Whether you have lots of DIY experience or not much at all, I have three insights I've learned over the years that I want to share with you:

DIY challenges us to use what we have. 

The start on any good DIY project begins with taking inventory. What do you have? What needs changing? What's the end goal? Starting with evaluation rather then action taps the brakes on impulsive buying. Growing up, my mom developed a serious habit of rearranging furniture. I remember coming home from school on numerous occasions to a living room that looked completely different. It wasn’t until becoming an adult, that I really understood and appreciated what she was doing. She was making the best of right then. Rather than buying a bunch of stuff, she changed the way she looked at her home, spruced it up using pieces she already had, and chose to be content. Challenging ourselves to use what we have pauses the “buy new, buy more, buy now” mentality that our culture encourages.  Lets simplify, organize and take care of what we do have and we might be surprised by what happens.

DIY guarantees a perfectly imperfect result. 

There is no such thing as flawless in the world of DIY, and you know what, that is OK. We were created to be creative, not perfect. Listen, I know how great it feels when a project turns out JUST as you had planned. But more often than not, we have to roll with the punches, and embrace our happy mistakes. Thankfully, there is lots to be learned in the process of making and it doesn’t just depend on our final product. Process is good for our soul.   I was a painting major in college and one of my drawing professors would never let us erase our work when we felt we had made a mistake. Instead, she wanted us to layer over our beginning sketch as the drawing developed. So I’d have layers and layers of charcoal as I continued working on the piece. Initially, I didn’t really get it, but overtime I grew to love the imperfections left on the white of the page and the remnants of where the artwork started. It was a reminder of the process, not the imperfections.

DIY projects give us the opportunity to try something new. 

I know that sounds overly simple, but I think it’s important that we take time to try new things. If we’re honest with ourselves, it’s really easy to only do what we’ve done before. Lucky for us, though, the world of DIY provides a safe little landscape to escape the monotony and try something new. I know this from very experience. In the past 5 months, I’ve transitioned from being a married girl working in New York City, to a new mom, who stays at home with a baby and lives in Franklin, Tennessee. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful and such a blessing, but it is QUITE a change! As I’ve slowly gained confidence as a new mom, I’ve realized how important small successes are. For me, trying a new project during naptime has helped me feel like I’ve done more with my day then empty the dishwasher and change the laundry over. I’m sure you all know what I mean - it’s that feeling of being busy all day but never really accomplishing anything. I really believe, that sometimes we need to start a new project JUST so we can finish it! We need small wins! Learning a new skill or trying a new project could be just the shift your normalcy needs.

All this to say, We don’t love DIY because we like keeping up with the trendy crafts on Pinterest. “Doing It Yourself” has more relevance to your life then you think. It’s a practice of choosing to be content with what we have, celebrating imperfection and boldly trying new things.

Stay tuned for the DIY that accompanied this talk! 

Q Women + A DIY // Part 1

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A little over a week ago, I had the total honor of speaking at Q Ideas annual women's event. Brooklyn Boy (aka Lance) took a job with Q earlier this year and we have recently moved to Nashville as part of that job. To say he loves working there would be an understatement!

Brooklyn Boy (do you think I need to change his name since we don't live in Brooklyn any more?) and his team thought (for some crazy reason) that I'd be a good DIY addition to their lineup of women speaking. I was tasked with coming up with DIY centerpieces + a simple variation for all the women in attendance to complete as well as talking about Why We Love DIY. 

Coming out of maternity hibernation, this project / assignment was a welcomed challenge! Right out of the gate, I thought the DIY for the event would be a synch. But after some initial brainstorming I realized that I had no power source for hot glue guns at each table (Hello almost ALL DIY projects), there little drying time available for any paint/glue, and we needed to keep this CHEAP, as there were over 300 women attending. After lots of thinking and troubleshooting with Brooklyn Boy, we came up with a project that uses supplies most of you have around your house :: A puff paint + Spray painted vase! I would have laughed had you told me this would be the project we landed on, but you know what, it turned out to be a super easy project that looked great once it was finished! Sneak peek right here -->

While I was prepping and creating the centerpieces, I had time to really think about Why I Love DIY. It was a great exercise to remember why we love the craft of DIY. In hopes of not getting to lengthy here, I'm splitting this into 3 posts. Tomorrow, I will share the 3 reasons we love DIY and Friday, I'll follow up with the easy How To instructions as well as before and after photos for the DIY. Hope you stick around!

Confession.

I love to paint.

My painting major from college has since morphed into re-doing furniture which has in turn, become a steady stream of diy's & decorating.  I'm currently at home with the babe and occasionally find myself with an hour that isn't filled with life admin or baby tasks. So, rather then showering (overrated) I've found myself painting. Nothing fancy, just using bright acrylics and some tear off canvas sheets. Here's what my process has looked like lately -

Make do with what you have! Tupperware will work just find for a palette.

Make do with what you have! Tupperware will work just find for a palette.

I usually have a pad of perforated canvas on hand. It's reasonably priced from the craft store and comes in handy when you have a frame to fill.

I usually have a pad of perforated canvas on hand. It's reasonably priced from the craft store and comes in handy when you have a frame to fill.

The lady in the frame is sure enjoying her walk on the beach. I should have loaded up on these before I left Brooklyn. The dollar store (where everything is over $2) down the street had cheap gold frames. They had sharp angled ones that looked modern and awesome. The one above is a little beveled for my taste, but will do just fine. 

The lady in the frame is sure enjoying her walk on the beach.

I should have loaded up on these before I left Brooklyn. The dollar store (where everything is over $2) down the street had cheap gold frames. They had sharp angled ones that looked modern and awesome. The one above is a little beveled for my taste, but will do just fine. 

I trimmed some branches from the backyard, shoved them in a mason jar and did a quick / rough still life. 

I trimmed some branches from the backyard, shoved them in a mason jar and did a quick / rough still life. 

And then framed it. 

And then framed it. 

I can't get enough of these quick paintings! They are so therapeutic.  I just finished a massive floral using a street merch canvas I found in Brooklyn and even did a matching mini for Rosie's room. I'll share more in the coming weeks, but wanted to give you a peek! 

A Baby Nook DIY - finally!

One of my FAVORITE design challenges is to work with a small space. Lucky for me, I've had lots of practice living in New York! When Brooklyn Boy and I found out we were pregnant, we debated where we'd put the baby for a long time. Do we find a different apartment with 2 bedrooms? Do we just put her in our (TINY) room? OR . . . do we build a Baby Nook

We decided to build a baby nook in our kitchen, of all places! It was the central room of our one bedroom apartment and was actually quite big. 

Here it was when we first moved in. The opposite wall housed the counter, stove, oven, sink, etc.

After thinking through a gazillion options, we decided on 2 IKEA Billy Bookcases to create the wall of the nook.  Not only were there of configuration solutions to choose from but they were also affordable and they were temporary! Best solution all around.

Brooklyn Boy and Uncle Karl were in charge of putting the units together. Only took them about an hour to put both units together and shim up our majorly sloping floors. 

When we landed on the baby nook in the kitchen, I knew I'd have to do some reconfiguring of everything currently living in the kitchen.  We decided to use the kitchen pantry as a Changing Room / Closet for all of Rosie's stuff,  which created a need for some additional kitchen storage. We ended up choosing doors on the bottom of the bookcase to add some covered storage and open shelving on the top. Voila, tons of added storage!

Here is the REALLY fun part! Around the time we were brainstorming the baby nook, Wallpaper Direct reached out asking if I wanted to try some of their wallpaper for an upcoming project. What marvelous timing! While the IKEA bookcases were great, I did want to spruce them up in some way, especially since we'd see the back of the bookcases in the nook. Wallpaper was a fantastic solution and something I'd never tried before! 

I chose 2 different wallpapers - Artisan Plain by Thread (above left) for the kitchen shelving because it was textured looking and simple. And Ark by Andrew Martin (above right) for the baby nook wall because it was playful in a John Derian sort of way.

Both papers were accurately depicted on the site, so there were no surprises upon arrival!

First step was to cut all the paper to size. Keep in mind that patterns are trickier to line up! Also keep in mind this is much easier as a two person job! So I recruited my 'phone-a-friend' LeighAnn. She can figure anything out and makes everything better!

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This was my first time hanging wallpaper. I researched tons of "How to hang wallpaper" youtube videos and found all of the steps generally the same. On a flat surface, we coated each cut to size wallpaper piece thoroughly with wallpaper paste (we used Suregrip). Then we'd fold the ends over (which feels weird and wrong, but all the instructions advised us to do it) so the paste could set in and soften the paper. After the appropriate waiting time, we hung the paper on each side of the bookcase back and brushed all the air bubbles out.

We loved how the pale blue turned out on the front side. The wallpaper made the units feel less "right out of the box."

My pregnant self styling the shelves. In my house shoes of course!

Hanging the Ark paper was done with a lot trial and error. I felt like we could never get the paper perfectly lined up. In the end, it was one of those perfectly imperfect projects which is just part of doing it yourself :)

I absolutely loved the final result, not because of my awesome (except not) wallpaper hanging skills, but because the paper was just so darling! I love how unexpected and not-girly the print was. But yet there was something childlike about it with all the animals. Here's a look at the finished baby nook! 

IKEA came through, yet again, with a great solution for closing off the space without doing anything permanent. We bought a ceiling mount rod and curtain attachments and hung one pair of black out curtains, also from IKEA, to give us a 'door' into the nook. It was also fun to pretend (for about a second) that we had open shelving too! 

Here's a peek around the corner, into the nook.

The big round mirror in the nook reflected the Ark wallpaper - a happy accident that made you want to spy inside the nook. Since we only needed a crib skirt on the front of the crib, my crafty mom DIY'ed the skirt with fabric I ordered from fabric.com. She folded a pleat and used hem tape to no-sew the bottom. We then clipped it under the mattress. 

R for Rosie!

R for Rosie!

My mom even used the little fabric we had left to conjure up a no-sew matching pillow! 

Once we decided to make half of the kitchen into a baby nook, we needed to add some shelving + storage without bringing furniture into the nook. When we moved into the apartment, we noticed an odd indention in the back of the kitchen, but never found use for it. With the nook in place, Brooklyn Boy came up with a great solution! He picked up particle board from the hardware store and made really simple shelves to fit in the cut out. I painted them with chalkboard paint and loaded the shelves up with Rosie's goodies! 

Necessity is the mother of invention. 

- Plato

And here's the baby in her nook! It was so fun for Brooklyn Boy and I to take on the challenge of giving baby girl her own space in our somewhat petite apartment. 

Thank you Wallpaper Direct for supplying such beautiful paper for the baby nook! 

How to host a simple, lovely and stress free party!

Hello there! Trying to jump back into my extracurriculars these days (so Rosie has a sane mama!) We've had some big changes over the past few weeks - we just moved from Brooklyn to Nashville, Tennessee (I still can't believe it even as I'm typing). We'll dive into that later, but for now, lets talk baby showers! 

The month before we had Rosie, I hosted a baby shower for a dear friend in Brooklyn.  Early on I decided on an Alice in Wonderland garden party theme - I wanted the feel of the party to match my friends colorful and imaginative personality. The plan was to host the seated lunch in our Brooklyn backyard, weather permitting. 

Besides being very pregnant, Brooklyn Boy and I were flying in (I had a dr.'s note to fly!) from Nashville the night before the party. Good planning, hu? We had NO room for bad weather, flight delays or early labor. I needed to plan ahead and simplify as much as possible without comprising intentionality and quality. 

The weather and the babe in my tummy held off and we had a marvelous time. Thanks to a handful of go-to-tricks, the party was simple and stress free. Here's how we did it - 

Let a bold pattern to do the heavy lifting. With the seated lunch happening in my Brooklyn backyard,  the dining table became the main focus for all the decor. For our Alice in Wonderland Garden Party look & feel, I used 5 yards of black and white fabric from IKEA to ground our table scape. The fabric was dramatic, fun and affordable!  It also camouflaged my mismatched tables that were different widths and lengths! 

Let a bold pattern to do the heavy lifting. With the seated lunch happening in my Brooklyn backyard,  the dining table became the main focus for all the decor. For our Alice in Wonderland Garden Party look & feel, I used 5 yards of black and white fabric from IKEA to ground our table scape. The fabric was dramatic, fun and affordable!  It also camouflaged my mismatched tables that were different widths and lengths! 

Lean on talented friends!  My first priority of the shower was for my soon-to-be-mom friend to feel loved. Second priority was to lighten the load for myself and 'out source' some of the tasks. As someone who loves doing projects, I've learned there is a time to DIY and a time to hand off! I called upon fabulously talented friend, Anna Watson Carl, of the Yellow Table. She graciously took care of everything edible. She conjured up the most delicious Rhubarb Lemon Fizz cocktails & mocktails, Crostini with Fresh Ricotta and Pea-Mint Pesto, Strawberry Shortcakes (made with Orange Zest Scones) + Fresh Whipped Cream and Arugula Salad with Shaved Fennel, Watermelon Radish, and Green Apple. Not only was the food outstanding, but it took so much pressure of me! Win Win! 

Lean on talented friends!  My first priority of the shower was for my soon-to-be-mom friend to feel loved. Second priority was to lighten the load for myself and 'out source' some of the tasks. As someone who loves doing projects, I've learned there is a time to DIY and a time to hand off! I called upon fabulously talented friend, Anna Watson Carl, of the Yellow Table. She graciously took care of everything edible. She conjured up the most delicious Rhubarb Lemon Fizz cocktails & mocktails, Crostini with Fresh Ricotta and Pea-Mint Pesto, Strawberry Shortcakes (made with Orange Zest Scones) + Fresh Whipped Cream and Arugula Salad with Shaved Fennel, Watermelon Radish, and Green Apple. Not only was the food outstanding, but it took so much pressure of me! Win Win! 

Know what you're good at. And what you aren't! Printed pieces are not my gifting! I reached out to two dear friends to help with printed details for the shower.  My go to designer for, well . . . almost everything, is LeighAnn, who I've mentioned lots before. LeighAnn took on the printed pieces for the party. We asked both soon-to-be-grandmothers questions about what their kids were like as babies - weight, length, first words, funny stories. LeighAnn took their answers and designed centerpieces around them. She also made name cards and "Jack's Stat's" notecards for each place setting. At the end of the shower, we collected all the stats and put them into a keepsake book for mom & dad. 

Know what you're good at. And what you aren't! Printed pieces are not my gifting! I reached out to two dear friends to help with printed details for the shower.  My go to designer for, well . . . almost everything, is LeighAnn, who I've mentioned lots before. LeighAnn took on the printed pieces for the party. We asked both soon-to-be-grandmothers questions about what their kids were like as babies - weight, length, first words, funny stories. LeighAnn took their answers and designed centerpieces around them. She also made name cards and "Jack's Stat's" notecards for each place setting. At the end of the shower, we collected all the stats and put them into a keepsake book for mom & dad. 

Another darling friend, Jessi Evans of Orchard Made, created watercolor + calligraphy invitations for the shower. This was our jumping off point for the shower as far as look and feel went. I just loved these hand made invites, they perfectly captured the mom-to-be and the vibe of the shower!

Another darling friend, Jessi Evans of Orchard Made, created watercolor + calligraphy invitations for the shower. This was our jumping off point for the shower as far as look and feel went. I just loved these hand made invites, they perfectly captured the mom-to-be and the vibe of the shower!

Use what you have! Rather then placing all of the shower gifts on the ground, or buying a table for them to sit on, I rolled the bakers rack from our kitchen (the piece that normally held some of our dishes) outside and arranged the gifts. This made for a festive gift display that added to the outdoor party vibe. 

Use what you have! Rather then placing all of the shower gifts on the ground, or buying a table for them to sit on, I rolled the bakers rack from our kitchen (the piece that normally held some of our dishes) outside and arranged the gifts. This made for a festive gift display that added to the outdoor party vibe. 

Choose when to invest. I love hosting parties and showers. Years ago, I splurged (yea right, we're talking $20 or so) on two dozen IKEA glass tumblers, like these. For me, the splurge wasn't money related, it was SPACE related. Could I fit them in my petite kitchen? I figured, at such a great price and guaranteed use over time, I'd make them fit! The glass tumblers (rather then paper or plastic party cups) made the event feel a little more sparkly. 

Choose when to investI love hosting parties and showers. Years ago, I splurged (yea right, we're talking $20 or so) on two dozen IKEA glass tumblers, like these. For me, the splurge wasn't money related, it was SPACE related. Could I fit them in my petite kitchen? I figured, at such a great price and guaranteed use over time, I'd make them fit! The glass tumblers (rather then paper or plastic party cups) made the event feel a little more sparkly. 

DIY Potted Herbs = Centerpieces & Party Favors I took my centerpiece cue's from the backyard and decided to use herbs as table decor. We picked up a variety of herbs from the hardware store down the street, quickly potted them in colorful containers (minutes before the guests arrived) and placed them in front of each table setting. Then we used skewers and some of the baby Q & A's LeighAnn designed and printed and stuck them in each pot. Once the party was over, we encouraged each party goer to take one as a party favor. Viola, dual purposed table decor! 

DIY Potted Herbs = Centerpieces & Party Favors I took my centerpiece cue's from the backyard and decided to use herbs as table decor. We picked up a variety of herbs from the hardware store down the street, quickly potted them in colorful containers (minutes before the guests arrived) and placed them in front of each table setting. Then we used skewers and some of the baby Q & A's LeighAnn designed and printed and stuck them in each pot. Once the party was over, we encouraged each party goer to take one as a party favor. Viola, dual purposed table decor! 

Moral of the story - you can throw a party that's beautiful AND stress free. Hope these tips help you plan your next soiree! 

PS - If you're looking for a great gift for yourself or a friend, pick up a copy of Anna Watson Carl's The Yellow Table Cookbook! You'll thank me later :)