Wednesday, January 16, 2013

You Are My Little Bird

Some good friends of ours just adopted a beautiful baby girl. We are so excited for them!

I remember my friend saying a long time ago how much she like Elizabeth Mitchell's You Are My Little Bird CD, and how she would base her daughter's room decor on the album cover. So I decided to make it her "Welcome" gift. Here's how I did it, if you ever want to make something similar.

I gathered up some 5" by 7" frames and chose the scrapbook paper I was going to use.

I printed out a few copies of the images I would use, and traced them with tracing paper.

The image cuts off, so I hand drew the rest of the child.

I made sure I knew where I was placing my figures before I did anything permanent. 

I traced the 5" by 7" block for each figure to be sure they would fit.

 I made sure that I only traced large color blocks, to save myself trouble cutting out pieces later.

I picked which scrapbook pages I wanted for each color block and overlaid the correct traced image. I cut each individual piece out with an Exacto knife. That's important - don't try to do it with scissors or anything like that. I've found that only an Exacto blade can really get those details.

Here's a while figure cut out, so you can kind of see how the pieces fit. 
Next, I had to cut my matte board to fit the frame. I just traced the placeholder that came with the frame. I cut a piece of pretty scrapbook paper the same way, because I didn't want a plain white background. I used an Exacto knife again to make these deep cuts, since I didn't have a matte cutter.

Finally we get to gluing. You could use a simple glue stick, but I prefer this multi-purpose spray adhesive by 3M. It dries clear, and gives a good permanent hold when dry that I don't think glue sticks will do. Don't even try Elmer's glue unless you want your paper to wrinkle.

Step one: Set up a clean space outside. Put down newspaper or cardboard or some kind of protective barrier, because if the spray gets on anything it is a pain to de-stick it.

Step two: Lay out your first piece upside down. I did my background first, as you will want to if you choose to have one. If you don't have a background, then you can start with any piece.

Step three: Spray it lightly. It won't take much adhesive to make the paper sticky.

These are the legs to one of the little girl figures.
Step four: Pick up the paper with clean hands by the edges and place it on the matte board where you want it. You can probably move it once or twice if you do it right away. Press it down from the middle outward to avoid trapped bubbles.

Keep doing that until all your pieces are stuck down. Be careful about touching and overlapping pieces; you'll want to plan those ahead of time to avoid unsightly gaps between pieces. Wait for them to dry...

Now all you have to do is put them in the frames!

So cute! I hope she likes it!

*I don't in any way own rights to Elizabeth Mitchell's music, or album artwork. I'm not being paid to promote 3M and these are all my own opinions. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

New Backsplash

Is anyone else the type of person who excitedly starts a project one day, and then six months later remembers they started it when they find the unassembled pieces tucked away in a drawer? I sure am. And I'm always equally excited when I find those pieces.

At some point last year I decided to make a backsplash for my kitchen. This week I rediscovered the tiles I bought in bags on a shelf somewhere. I thought, "oh, fun, new project!"

Up until this point, the space behind our sink was simply a painted wall, just waiting for some decoration.

So I gathered my tiles and got to work.
I got lucky at Home Depot to find these white tile sets. I didn't want to have to cut my own tile to make a pattern, but I didn't want to have a simple two-tone checker pattern either. These made it easy. The four pre-cut tiles came as a set, connected with mesh backing. Nifty, isn't it? All I had to do was fit my tiles into the spaces.

Once I had my pattern I measured and marked where the center of the wall (and thus the center of my backspash) should be. Then I slapped on my adhesive and pressed in the tiles.

I made sure the tiles were the way I wanted them and let them cure.

A few days later I added the grout. Here's a learning experience: I found my hands worked much better at applying the wet grout than the rubber float. Too much was falling off the float and into the sink (Oops). So, after cleaning the sink and taping up a newspaper liner to catch spills, I finished smooshing on the grout. The float came in handy for finishing up the details.
Before wiping it clean. After it was dry I sealed the grout.

Another learning experience: read the label on the bottle of caulk. It could save you having to make an extra trip to Home Depot to pick up a caulking gun because you didn't get one when you were there just the other day. Oops again.
I caulked around all the perimeter since I didn't get the tiles with a nice edge.
And it's done! I love having it in the kitchen. It pulls all the colors together, not to mention makes cleaning easier.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thoughts on Grief

I'm surprised with how my grieving has gone. I thought it would be harder right away.

Maybe it's because we never brought her home. Maybe it's because our routines haven't been changed much by her absence. I'm not sure.

It's not that I don't miss her. I only had her for two days, but I still feel her absence at times. I look to where her crib should have been, or hear songs at church about Heaven and God's goodness, and my heart is heavy. When I went through her items I brought home from the hospital, I wept and wept. But on a daily basis, I feel a lot like I did before her birth.

I don't know how people go through tragedies like this without believing in God. What I mean is, the only thing that's given me so much peace with all that has happened is knowing that God is taking care of her, that she is whole, that His plan is right, and she is not suffering.

When I do miss her, I picture what her life would have been like had she lived. From the little we know about her physical condition, even without the breathing difficulties, I know it would have been hard to cope. For me, for her, for all of us. We have no idea what her quality of live could have been. But God did. In His infinite wisdom He chose to bring her home quickly. It's my loss. It's my pain. But THANK GOD it's not hers.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I Just Read: Gone with the Wind

I love books. The smell, the feel, the fun of immersing myself into someone else's world. Over the last few months I've needed a good book to get lost in, especially in all the doctor's waiting rooms. So I picked up Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind.

It's a sweeping Southern classic that takes the reader from the start of the Civil War in Georgia through Reconstruction. Young Scarlett O'Hara is a selfish and proud oldest daughter of a plantation owner. When the war comes, her world is turned upside down and she feels she has only herself to rely on.

I thought Scarlett would be a difficult character to relate to, but Mitchell handled it beautifully. I thought I would get tired of Scarlett's selfish moaning and greedy decisions quickly, but for all 1400 pages I found myself absorbed in her story. Having seen the 1939 film version of this novel, I appreciated that the book showed more of Scarlett's rare tender side. Instead of thinking at every turn "how can anyone be so cruel?" I found myself understanding her choices, the plight she was in, and how trapped she felt by circumstances out of her control (although at other times I groaned at the poor decisions she made).

This is absolutely a novel for anyone, especially women, who have an interest in the history of the Civil War from the Southern perspective. History is often told by the victors, and this is a case in which the story is told from the losing side. It brings to life the struggle of the survivors to eat, to live, to provide, to find husbands, and to keep their cultural identity. Through Scarlett and Melanie, Scarlett's ever-tender sister-in-law, and Rhett, the teasing and sensual blockade runner, we feel the sacrifices that are made as people try to rebuild broken lives.

Mitchell said that this book is about people with "gumption" and I found myself agreeing in surprising ways. The cast is delightfully diverse in a way that few authors can truly capture. Throughout this book we can begin to define a person with gumption as not a singular type of person. A person with gumption can be conniving, proud, and motivated. Someone else with gumption can be confident, lazy, and comfortable. Yet another person with gumption can be quiet, demure, and steady. Or perhaps a person with gumption is someone who says what they think to the people who have power over them.

I'd definitely recommend reading this book. I could go on a long time expounding on the book's overt racism, the growth versus steadfastness of the characters, the historical accuracy, and how the characters are so loved and hated over time, but I truly think you ought to read it and draw your own conclusions. At many times heavy, and at other times over-the-top dramatic, it is always engaging.