summer duds & header cemetery

today was not a non-bloggy day for me. i actually spent more time working on the blog than i do normally. there's just no original post to show for all of my work (well expect for this one now).  but there is lots of other stuff to show for it...please tell me you can see it all?

whenever i redesign my header and blog layout, i am MADLY in love with the new setup...for about 3 or 4, maybe 5, months. then it looks crazy stale and i hate it. 

so today i changed it again.

what's the big deal about this change? wuhllp, i didnt use microsoft word once! 

yes, graphic designers, hold on to your lunches, ALL of my previous design undertakings have been done in microsoft word with a hearty dose of screenshots.  i know. SHUN THE NONBELIEVER

but today i did the redesign using a real, live, design program (a free one called GIMP). this program is SO counter-intuitive (to a microsoft-office based designer, at least) and sometimes it takes me ten times as long to do something than it would in my ghetto programs, but i think i am appreciating the fact that doing it right is worth the effort and delay. i think. maybe.

i still have a horrible eye for this sort of thing and it takes my miles of brain-hamster-wheel-spinning to churn out something that passes even my low standards, but i am still loving where i ended up for the summer blog redesign.

and now a trip down memory lane to view some of my greatest design hits misses and to see my love of white space and nice typography slowly devolve back to nothing:

what's up there currently (for when i take it down eventually...it needs an ebenezer)

thought this one was my one true love when i made is back in january. then EVERYONE started using the PUYD font everywhere it seemed. sketch rockwell, you are a whore.

 oh man. good times. fall 2012. i dont really even want to claim this one.

 summer 2011. this one lasted a whole year. it's my favorite of all the Word-designed headers. and the first time i used the boxing gloves. good old geo sans light.

april 2011. we had had layla for 5 months and i felt horrible to not include her on the header. a lazy swap got us here. (the original PUYD font that i used isnt this one, it's missing in action...downside of WORD)

 may 2010. barely pregnant with layla.  loving those rounded corners.

not my work. i actually won a little giveaway and told the designer what sort of style i was into. she did an accurate job based on what i said, it just turns out i had no style. this one was up a few days during judah's infancy

my earliest use of word! april 2010

i think i used our christmas card as the header for a while there in the winter of 2009

no graphics, just a pic was the header when i started out blogging for real in the fall of 2009

and before THIS the blog wasnt even "put up your dukes" yet. ten points to anyone who knows what it was (and yes, i am so embarrassed that it was named that). no peeking back in the archives...where i'm sure it is somewhere. 

and let's not forget i design for this site AND my etsy shop. oh yes.  everybody wants a piece

here's where i've been for about 2 years.  dont love it, dont hate it. until i run out of the hundreds of business cards that look like this...it stays.

oh man. this is just...just. 

hahaha and my christmas ad to remind readers to visit my etsy shop for gifts. clipart? dont mind if i do!

wow, when i look at these in this order it REALLY makes my current setup shine and sparkle. thank you, incompetent past keight, for making my hard work today pay off even more.


making room(s) volume 3: dining = in.

recap if youre new and need more BEFORES-

-the problem: we have a tiny 3 bedroom house. these bedrooms consist of the master bedroomjudah's room, and layla's nursery.
-the breakfast area (ersatz dining room) was taken over by me as a sewing space when my business starting growing/paying the bills.
-the living room then by default became the play room, family room, AND dining room.
-i took over layla's nursery in february and made it our office space/studio and then added a mind-blowing accent wall.
-pinterest SAVED OUR LIVES with a pin that gave both kids a bedroom AND a playroom all in one.

so we effectively reclaimed the dining area for...DINING! weird times. but we needed a hearty dash of sprucing-up as an appetizer before our first family meal could truly be enjoyed. 

my children were raised to believe that sewing machines are the purpose for dining rooms and tables therefore they are UTTERLY un-table-trained. and even with our glass-topped IKEA table now clear, jesse and i are so uncomfortable at that spindly devil that WE didnt even want to sit and eat there.

so we decided to send that table set off to the land of craigslist for retirement (a lovely college studen bought it and accidentally left his fairly nice digital camera behind in the process. we keep trying to email him to come get it but he never replies. i suspect there are murder photos on the camera and he is planting them on us...because i'm normal that way).

since the dining area is really quite small, i thought a little half-boothsy banquette would be a good answer. this way, you dont have to leave room for pushing back chairs, and you just get to practice your isometric squats that all restaurant booths provide us.

jesse built the banquette with mdf (just a simple 3D rectangle) and then we trimmed it in beadboard and molding. the top is on hinges and the inside has a divider so there are two big storage cubbies.

i made the seat cushion out of thick foam and upholstered it with a laminated fabric (so easy to wipe down).

and the big daddy project was building our new dining room table from scratch. jesse rocked the mess out of this project for beyond cheap and i LOVE how it turned out. 

i modified down this gorgeous farmhouse table tutorial to fit our space (we dont need a 9 ft table just yet) and to make the style a bit more my style (less curvy, more straight lines).

as you can see we hadnt decided on the two other dining chairs quite yet...

and then to make the now pristine back wall look more integrated and finished, we added more beadboard  up to 2/3 the height of the wall and trimmed the top. 

so we have totally made this space mad functional and bordering on pretty! it's still obviously a very blank canvas in terms of personality and style...but that is coming soon. i'm enjoying the nice respite of blank spaces here since the previous "decor" had a tad too much flair and visual interest.



happy heart.


wild thing(s)

i still have the first caterpillar that i ever met bronzed and displayed on my trophy shelf (false) so recording this magical milestone for layla was crucial. actually she just looked adorable and i kind of cant stop myself from documenting her little face off.

spying the beast (and in a not-too-shabby athletic ready position)

 identifying the beast as the same one from her favorite book, "ah moh-day he eat wuh appuhl..."

 "whoa! WTF kind of daredevil is this guy?!"

 terrified and thrilled all at once by his death-defying hijinks

 "oh wait, now that i look at you, you're kind of gross"

 "i am, like, SO over you."

 "haha j/k capper-tiller, i'm gonna touch and pet and hug you til your guts come squirting out!"

"starting with this"


peep a 'bu!

yall! 3 of my genius designer friends from Georgia Tech have been inventing, refining and basically rockstar-ing this project for the past three years. AND ITS FINALLY HERE!

a year and a half ago i actually helped garrett sew one of the super-rudimentary prototypes. that was the last time i saw the product. and now....oh man...now it is just so much better than my stupid hands could ever make.

what am i talking about? well, it's called Lalabu (unrelated to Layla Boo, but, weird connection, huh?) and it's a baby carrier the likes of which i have never seen before (and i own, have bought, and have made about 9 different babywearing devices).

its a nursing tank and it's a baby carrier all at once and without trying too hard. and when youre not wearing or feeding a baby, its a shirt that doesnt look stupid or all "HEY WORLD I MAKE MILK IN HERE!!!" with all those medieval clasps and such. 

my friends have self-funded this project $25,000 already and they are ready to start production! they have partnered with an american factory and are using indiegogo (like kickstarter) to fund the other $15k they need to get this first run of carriers made.

PAUSE: **i will NEVER put a product on my blog that i dont believe in. while i sometimes get paid for reviewing products, even then it's only for things i would legitimately want to spend my money on or try out under normal circumstances.  i am telling you about lalabu because it's awesome and i think its a perfect fit for yall. straight up; no fluff. i am doing this FOR FREE, without being asked, and not just because these guys are friends (i was prepared to donate to them just bc they're friends but was hesitant to say "hey i'll blog about it!" without really believing in the finished product).** okay. RESUME

i gotta be honest, when i helped garrett with the prototype i was thinking this was kind of just a generic baby bjorn. i was thrilled to help because these jokers are friends, but i wasnt sure, as an actual mom, what kind of edge this thing would have over what was already available. 

after i watched the video for the completed product, i joke you not, i was not only sold on the utility of the carrier but was so stoked that my first insane thought was, "i like this thing so much i need to make a baby to fill it up with!" 

i kicked in $80 to their funding campaign which also scored me 2 preordered lalabu's in my color choice AND a $20 giftcard to their store once it goes live. if they dont raise the $15k, my money comes back....though i will be way sad because i think moms are going to go bonkers over this thing and i want to be all, "yeah, i was in on the ground floor" and braggy. i'm all heart.

here's the coolest part about this business. these fools LOVE jesus. they arent trying to get rich on the milk of new moms (ew...sorry), they are committed to giving back. one day every week they serve exploited women in the atlanta area and $1 of every sale goes to microfinance campaigns targeted at empowering and equipping african women in their business endeavors.

their mission statement is everything; "Our focus is making great baby products and helping women transition into better lives.  We work for new lives."

peep this short video on how cool this thing looks and spy my buddies!:

are you sold like i was? here's a breakdown of what funding Lalabu today can get you (again, if the 15k isnt raised in 30 days, your money comes back...this is more of a preorder than a donation).

Reward levels

i'm so proud of my friends and fellow yellow jackets for following their dream...and then for catching up with that dream, jumping on its back and rocking its socks off. i hope this awesome invention ends up helping tons of yall (or your momsy friends) bond with your babies in a really cool and fun new way. huzzah!


mélange printemps

a mess of springtime random. ready set go.

i was inspiredly (a real word?) gaga over this coat stand. and then immediately reduced to fits of laughter over its $219 price tag. that kind of oppression makes me madder than the stamp act, i say!

so i decided to make my own version (ana white with the assist, as usual). and by that i mean, "get jesse to build us one." 

total cost: $9 (with lots of paint leftover). 

if loving this is wrong, i dont want to be right

we had our first meal side dish from the garden. the spinach was getting so big that the leaves were growing into un-spinachy shapes so i harvested those beasts before they could flower or turn into a tree or whatever spinach does unattended in the wild.

it was good. a little scary at first to be like "this was in dirt out back and now it goes in my mouth." but then i realized i am an american who has never thought about where who food really comes from. duh, crackhead, all your food comes from dirt...probably dirtier dirt than out back.

it might have been wishful thinking but it legitimately tasted greener than the store bought stuff.

i just snipped off the leaves and left the stem bundle. was that right? or did i just decapitate my spinach terminally?

got a mess of gorgeous fabric for this season's run of big mommy beach bags (make one yourself from my tutorial or grab one from my etsy) and have NOT been disappointed by the demand. holy moly, i have made about 20 of these in the past month. get your beach on, folk!

this tiny man is only going to be 3 for a few more weeks. he continues to be super fun and extra weird (which, if you know me well, is how i prefer kids). his latest idiosyncrasy is putting a little calling card on any artwork or schoolwork that he does.

regardless of the subject of the picture or craft (otters, the zoo, yo-yo's, his name practice sheet) you will always find one of these on the back.

he is the rainbow raider! his teachers say that if its time for carpet time and he hasnt finished all ROYGBV  lines (no one tell him about indigo, it will crush him as he is fixated on 6 colors) of his callsign, he will be adamant that he is not coming until his rainbow is complete.

and heaven forbid you try to draw a rainbow around the child and you want to include pink or brown or black or gray in it. THOSE ARENT RAINBOW, YOU FOOL!!!

i love his love for color and for leaving a little logo on everything he does.

on saturday night judah and this sweet baby thing hung out at their grand parents house so we could have a date night (truth: amazing grandparents are worth their weight in gold). they stayed up late bc thats what you do at grandparents' house. we picked them up at about 10 that night and put them straight to be when we got home. i turned off their night light so that they would have uber-dark and hopefully stay asleep longer.

at 2:30 am judah came SCREAMING crying into our room. we jolted awake and realized layla was screaming crying back in their room.

we run in and flip on the light and there is blood EVERYWHERE. definitely more of my kids blood than i have ever seen before combined. we start asking them questions and trying to figure out who is hurt and what is happening.

turns out layla had busted her lip BAD. like almost bit all the way through it. it was HUGE and swollen and ragged and just gruesome.  and it was all my fault! she had gone to get out of her bed (about 2.5 feet off the ground) and since it was dark (because mommy is an evil light-extinguishing genius) she hadnt seen that their step stool was right there and so she hopped down, jacking her chin on it and making her bite her top lip.

oh so much guilt. 

i was so proud of judah for coming to get us but also hated myself even more for making her wait in dark, bloody terror because we didnt hear her. also: hello?!?! making him climb down the rock wall in pitch black?!?! STUPID. so yes. never ever ever ever will i turn off their night light again. sheesh.

thankfully it stopped bleeding right away and was not a complete puncture. after a popsicle and some snuggles she was back in bed (de-crime scened) and no worse for the wear on sunday (besides not enjoying salty things). 

she looks like we took her for a little collagen tune-up at the plastic surgeons. 

never a dull moment. brought to you by: life.


the cheapest love i ever made

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alternately (and less open to sketchy interpretation) titled: DIY pallet statement sign tutorial. so cheap, so easy, and makes a huge impact on any wall or space.

what i call this little number is my shine sign. or just the diminutive m'shign if i'm feeling caffeinated and friendly.

my inspiration was this pin which i was instantly ready to love full blast, and then was SUPER confused by. like, why are we embedding the intimate song of solomon verse on our privacy fence? then i realized it was actually created as a wedding backdrop (brilliant!) and thought, "shwew."  and my full on love for this idea proceeded as planned.

knowing that i wasnt gonna nail any words into our beloved fence (because of , #1: pretty and #2: forehead punctures on children), i sought about for a way to adapt this idea. my eyes fell on 4 pallets we had snatched up about a year ago when pinterest convinced me that gold was worthless and the true specie of the american crafter was now PALLETS. SO MANY PALLETS.

i have used one plank so far in a year. i want my gold back.

but this time, the pallets were mad handy to have. and even my stubborn refusal to get rid of them despite their being neglected was perfect. since we had dumped them next to our driveway (for classy) nature had attempted to reclaim the wood for her own, so the planks i harvested have a nice weathered look that i didnt even have to work for.

everything else that went into this project was on hand and free (and even if i hadnt had the stuff i could have bought it all for maybe $10).

this is how [montell jordan and] i do it:


-4 pallet planks (or any wood 5"x44" ish)
-2 pieces pf scrap wood about 14-18" long and 1" thick
-a mess of little nails (with at least a bit of a head)
-various colors of yarn
-paint and a nice little paintbrush
-pen, paper, tape.

i put that "4 pallet planks" up there in the material list all casual like it was nothing. if you've ever deconstructed pallets you know it isnt NOTHING. it takes muscle. and grunting. grunscle.  i am actually a little offended that no one on our street called an emergency veterinarian to tell them that a muskox was in labor when they heard me waging war on my chosen pallet.

if you feel like you are about to herniate a few organs, dont worry, you are doing it right. also: try harder.

line up your 4 planks in a pleasing fashion

take your two scrap pieces of wood and trim them down so the edges wont be longer than the width of your sign. these are the crosspieces that wont be seen but will bind your 4 pallet pieces together.

nail the pallet wood onto the cross pieces. nothing exact or precise needed here. save your OCD for a later step.

we only had long nails, and i wanted it super secure, so i flipped it right side up and nailed front to back into the cross pieces, and then bent off the extra nail length with my hammer on the back so as to avoid tetanus.

print your main statement word (mine is SHINE. we have always loved that verse from phillipians and thought it perfect on several levels for this project since the sign is destined to go outside in the shiny sun and under the stars).

print out the big honking letters and lay them out on your wood to make sure you like the size and look. one letter per page (maxed out to the edges) was the perfect size for mine.

 we used the font BEBAS NEUE (free from dafont) at size 900 or something monstrous like that. and i printed with the embossed format to save ink.

cut your letters out carefully and place them in the exact place you want them. you can tape them down if you're working someplace breezy.

trace your letters with a sharpie (dont sweat what color it is. it's gonna be all covered up in the end anyway).

toss the paper letters and peep your outline.

grab your hammer and nails (grunscle optional). dont just start hammering like a mario bros. bonus level villain though. 

first you need to nail the corners of each letter. these will dictate the spacing of the others and we KNOW we need the corners of our letters to be defined so nails definitely go there before anywhere else.

here is my E completely cornered

ok once everything is cornered, go ahead and put your midpoint nails in. the spacing is going to vary here. for the mostly straight letters, it's very straight(HA)forward and you just want to halve or third each straightaway by adding another nail or two along each line.

the bottom of my E. i decided it only needed one more nail. the more you add the more colored in and less string-y your finished project has the potential to be.

for the curves, it's kind of a pain because you want them to LOOK curvy, and that means lots of nails (and flashbacks from pre-cal where somehow straight lines turn into a curve).

 our S had more nails than the other 4 letters combined i think. i cannot say that i recommend picking SASSAFRASS or ROCOCO as your statement word, but it's your funeral

once everyone is nailed in check to make sure all your nails are about the same height and not crazy wonky bent. (yes, michael crichton's timeline is a pretty good read)

congrats! the burly hardware/woodworking portion is over. now we get to be indoor/creative-y types.

select your color scheme and lay out your yarn/string. i always have to do this to make sure a red/green havent sneaked next to each other (even though i didnt have red in this project...accidentally making christmas decor is always a fear). i still had all of these leftover from other projects and this one hardly made a dent in my skeins. my yarn lives on for more DIY!

to start winding, tie off your yarn on a nail.

as you make a turn, wind all the way around the nail heads you pass along the way for extra security (but dont pull anything crazy tight).

i would always do the outline of my letter first

every now and then, push your yarn down to the wood (rather than up high on the neck of the nails.) you'll get more depth this way.

once youve wound a base outline, go wild and start connecting all of your nails. bounce all over the place. just make sure you go back and define the outline of the letter every few layers.

when you have the coverage you like, cut the yarn and tie a tiny loop at the end of it.  then you just find the nearest nail and hang your loop around it at a tension that isnt too loose or too much of a stretch.

go back and snip your starting tail off if you can see it flapping around and it bugs you.

feel free to grab a studly buddy and have them string a neighboring letter to make the work go faster. (give them the curvy letter just for fun).

as you're getting all geometric connecting your points, just make sure you dont join two nails that are forbidden lovers and which would break the perimeter of the letter outline. you think this is an "n'doy, keight, like i'd ever let that happen!" but once you start crazy winding up in those letters, its like youve dumped out a  box of superballs in a bathroom stall and things get a little chaotic.

i like to think the bird knew that i would use this exact area for a WHAT NOT TO DO example and he pooped on it to drive the point home.

 from foundation to penthouse, you can see how you want to make these nails and yarn build up into 3D lettering.

when everyone is tied off, check your results. i spotted the top of my E was a little convex and some other wonky areas that looked distorted because of nail bend. 

this was easy to fix by just tapping lightly on the offending point so that the line straightened up.

next pick a font and print out your subtitle words (we used the font ANDROGYNE). tape down each word to get a feel for proper spacing and such.

i laid down a thick stripe of tape to be the "line" that all of my letters would sit on. once i made sure the tape was level, i didnt have to worry about my letters sagging if i made a mistake eyeballing their float height.

i used a pinterest tutorial for painting perfect letters on wood to do my lettering. this was way easier than cutting out my script-y font. (of course if the gods have smiled on you and you own a vinyl cutting robot slave, then you just go ahead and use that. but you wont feel as awesome as us free-handers when its over...maybe).

i just took a cheap old ball point pen and retraced the outline of each letter on top of the paper. i pushed down really hard to kind of engrave the outline into to wood below 

when you pick up your paper, you should see your outline. this will guide your painting AND provide little riverbanks so that its harder to paint outside the lines. the imprint acts as a dam to stop the flow of paint right at the perfect outline of your lettering.

because my wood was weathered, some of it was HARD and didnt want to take the imprint very deep. but i could still see it, so i just traced the outline with a pen in these cases to be sure i didnt miss the border when i painted (good light will be your friend here).

PAINT! this is where your OCD can be fun. i am a terrible painter and have shaky hands and i still pulled this off with a lot of satisfaction. (p.s. we used exterior paint since our sign will live outdoors).

if you do mess us, no worries, you have and eraser...its called sandpaper.

admire your work. no one ever needs to know you cant just freehand paint like that.

and youre done! now you can just feel extra happy and inspired and colorful every time you walk by your sign (after you hang it...i dont have pics of where we hung ours bc thats a later reveal with another project).

in the words of layla-boo: i LOBE it!

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