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Five Years Of Jade

July 16, 2011   //  Posted in: Casual Celebrations, Gardening   //  By: Emily   //  2 responses
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We’re about to get out and have summer fun with family all day, and I hope you do too, but first, just a quick little note on this fine, fine, Saturday. I woke up reminiscing about something special: My move to Rochester, which happened 5-years ago today.

Here I am with my sister (affectionally referred to as) Anniepants outside of my first apartment. She’s done cool things in the last 5 years too, like graduating high school, college, and going on to become a real-stinkin’-life cowgirl. You can read her blog too if you want.

Anniepants + I, first day in Rochester 2006.

My 5-year-iverssary also means that I started my first career-driven job 5 years ago tomorrow. Wowzers.

And totaled my Dad’s car 5 years ago from Tuesday. That’s a story for another day on another blog.

Anyways, I moved out of my parents home near Buffalo, NY and into my first post-college apartment on July 16th, 2006. It was 90-degrees, and the house beside the Memorial Art Gallery was un-air-conditioned, and nothing but gross and shady… as you’d expect all slumlord-owned last-minute-sublets to be. You see, I moved here quick-as-a-whip for my first real job that needed me to start pronto (the same gig that I left two months ago), so when it came to housing, I had to take what I could find. Luckily, I transitioned easily and I’m still friends with the girl who graciously took me in.

I also still have some of the random goodies I acquired in the short 1.5 months that I lived there. A dresser (that I rehabbed + really need to rehab once more), a floor lamp (that still stands in my living room), and a sweet little Jade plant that was in much need of a home.

I even found a photo of the Jade, circa February 2007, at which time I had been caring for the plant for nearly 6 months.

Baby Jade, circa February 2007.

Aside from ambitiously-achieved advances and changes in living situations, this little plant is the best literal measure of my Rochester life. So, I made it a growth chart in documentation of its advancement.

Jade's growth chart.

When I installed the open shelving in the kitchen last December, the plant in its white IKEA pot was short enough to fit underneath the shelves, which is how I so easily recall its recent growth spurt, if you call 2″ over 7 months a spurt. The new branch was a surprise growth from last spring. So cute, I just want to pinch it’s rubbery little leaves.

I do wonder how tall it’ll grow and whether or not it will widen out at any point. I’d like to see it grow to be 3 feet wide by 3 feet tall, and I’m putting no limits on it’s abilities (just like the friends and coworkers who took me under their wing 5 years ago), so maybe I’ll really get to observe it in that state… by the time I’m 70.

Happy Saturday.

An Orla Kiely Obsessivist’s Upcycled Napkins

July 15, 2011   //  Posted in: Being Thrifty, Decor, DIY   //  By: Emily   //  7 responses
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I never quite know what I’m going to find in Grandma’s Attic, which I like to position as a cutesy salvage shop and not what it really is, as in literally… my Grandma’s attic. I venture-slash-sneak up there from time to time when she hosts holiday events, and spend some time rummaging through lost and forgotten about items, treasures, vintage tools, and random textiles (to capture for my own pad, which she’s generally fine with); it was on my last visit that I swiped this pair of never-been-used yellow linen napkins.

Brand new bright yellow napkins.

She has the cutest taste, and I can’t imagine why the set of 2 was never used for a sweet little backyard picnic or at the kitchen table for dinner with Grandpa, but they clearly were forgotten about beneath a pile of junk, complete with original price tags. I’d date them back to at least the early 1980’s because (according to Wikipedia) Sattler’s Department Stores in Buffalo closed down in 1982. Meaning that these napkins are older than me. And here they were, never unfolded buried in a pile of stuff.

Grandma wouldn't pass up a sale. You go, Grandma.

And judging on the markdown, she got a good deal. Sale shoppin’. I’m pretty sure this is where I get my thrifting habits. Go, Grandma, go.

If it had been a set of 4 or 8 I probably would have saved all of them for use on my own deck, and maybe that’s why she never put them to use, but with just two on hand, I decided to make something neat from them.

The only issue was the yellow. I really like my dark yellows and golds, you know, but the screaming bright yellow was too much. No big deal, I had a 50% off coupon for JoAnn’s (since I had already bought up as many succulents as I could stomach for this wreath project) and I stopped in to peruse the fabric dye section.  I was actually surprised to see more varieties than just the gool ol’ RIT dye, and a wider selection of colors at that. I guess I haven’t bought fabric dye in a long time, although I have toyed with the idea of re-dying some old jeans to make them dark again. Only wanting to tint the fabric subtly to subdue the almost-flourescent brightness of the original napkins, I brought home the gold ochre shade by iDye.

Gold Ochre dye by iDyeHappy to report that the dye was the easiest, least messy dye I’ve ever, ever, ever used. Because I have a top-load washer, I filled it with just enough water for allow the pre-washed napkins to float in, and then dissolved the self-contained packet in the water before adding the fabric to the machine. I followed iDye’s recommendations to allow a second wash cycle before letting the rinse cycle activate, and then washed regularly before drying the finished napkins in the sunshine on the deck.

The change in color looks subtle to you, I’m sure of that – but in reality the toned down color ended up being much more aligned with my gold-infested color palette.

Subdued yellow, post-dye job.The evolving plan was to use the 16″ square napkin as a canvas, painting something striking or meaningful to hang in my stairwell. It did take a few weeks to come up with something that I liked the concept of and could DIY with the paints I had in-house.

The decided pattern would be the simple but lovely, classic Orla Kiely print. If you know me, you know I drool over her products, and own one of her clutches, computer bags, and totes. Obsessed, I’ll tell you, and I’ll also point out that many, many products were on sale on her site recently.

Measured into three columns, I started with a light gray stem and proceeded with hand painting the leaves slowly over the course of a few days. My strategy was to paint a small leaf, and expand it slowly in every direction until it’s proportions were right on.

Beginning the Orla Kiely pattern on the yellow napkin canvas.I liked it more and more as it grew, although I’m sure Orla would call me out on some creative liberty discrepancies, like putting two colors too close together on the vine. Whoopsy and whatevs.

Half way done with the DIY Orla Kiely print.

No harm. It still turned out awesomely if I do say so myself. It’s going to be part of an updated wall gallery that hopefully will be done over the weekend. See that piece of blue tape? Blue tape = work in progress.

Painted napkin. Love for the Orla Kiely.

I have grand plans to build a square custom frame for it at some point, but to give it a test run in in the gallery, I just applied using some too-cute pink thumb tacks that I had on hand. And maybe it’ll stay like that.

Cute pink tacks as an interim hanging mechanism.

P.S. Any of you wild O.K. lovers out there? Is there a self-help group that I should link up with?

My House Is Numbered

July 14, 2011   //  Posted in: Entryway   //  By: Emily   //  14 responses
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I’m clearly getting my act together with the whole finishing-the-front-entryway thing. I showed you the doorbell that was installed earlier in the week, and am stoked to report that I also finally picked new house numbers. Although not like what I originally wanted, and yes, I have been looking since January, the new numbers will do for now. Without finding something colorful and unique that resonated with me within my price range and more importantly, my home style, I briefly considering DIYing something interesting. Ultimately though, I caved on a simple model from True Value. Not bad at all, just a little more cookie cutter than I want to be overall.

Anything was an improvement from the cheapo cracking plastic models that had been on the house before (pre-replacing the storm door).

Front entryway. 15 in an unsettling typeface.

Anyways, I had to do something; I had spent months now attaching to a piece of paper to the siding when I had craigslist peeps coming by. Super classy. Definitely made me less sketch of a Craigslist sales lady, I’m sure.

Temporary house numberAs I said, I bought my new goods at True Value. In the store, I actually considered two different models. I was going to splurge and pay $2 more per number for the chunkier ones (at $7.29 a pop) but at the last minute worried that they’d be too wide for the narrow door trim that I wanted to hang them on.

Weighing pros and cons of two house number styles.So, home the thin numbers came. Not an appalling typeface like so many out there (typography nerds may agree), and even Pete approved. They were nice and hefty too, not chincy or malleable in any way, and at $5.29/each, it was an easy purchase to make.

House numbers.

I taped them up on the front entryway at a few different heights until I found a location that felt just right. Oh lookie, I actually did this install just before the new doorbell went up. Don’t mind that mess.

Taping the house numbers up on the trim for positioning.

And then I shifted them down (so indecisive) and screwed them into place. They actually look better than I expected. Much less harsh compared to the set that hung there before.

In place. Hard to see right? I'm actually digging the subtlety.

Subtlety for the win. Cody’s also not so subtly hiding my reflection in the glass. And this isn’t to say that I still wouldn’t buy up a cooler set of numbers if they came my way, so if you know of any you think I’d like, do send me a photo.