May 30, 2011

Maine Monday 2: Moose encounters

Happy Memorial Day, everyone! I know, I know, it's pretty much over now. I hope everyone had a fun- and sun-filled weekend. We had ourselves a great cookout -- more on that Wednesday.

But first, it's time for the second installment of Maine Monday! I debuted this series last month: on the last Monday of the month, I share something about my home state of Maine. Just because I love it so much :) Last month, I featured lobster.

This month, it's another iconic Maine animal

         The moose...

You know, like Bullwinkle!

Okay, it's more like this, actually.


I've seen a few moose in my lifetime, mostly -- and thankfully -- from afar. I have a memory of camping when I was little, in the car, and seeing a moose only a few yards in front of us in the middle of the road. They are big, practically taller than a car, and I remember being awestruck and a little scared.

Most of the time we see the moose when we're camping in more rural areas, but my parents have spotted one in their backyard in their not-very-rural town of about 10,000 people. But it's not unheard of for a moose, especially younger ones, to be seen wandering through a downtown or a more populated area.

Last summer, a moose went to the beach in the coastal town of York. Imagine surfing and then seeing a moose running past!

Also last summer, a moose was on the loose in Portland, Maine's largest city of about 63,000. As this article from the local paper describes, police cruisers and game wardens chased the moose through downtown streets, trying to divert it from busy roads and the highway. And it took a dip in a pond at a local park. The city was buzzing with news of the moose's last known location, and many were hoping to catch a glimpse of it.

It might seem like moose are always running around, but really they're pretty elusive, so I always want to spot one when we go camping.

In 2007, the hubs (then-boyfriend) and I went up to Eustis, Maine, to meet up with his family for their annual camping trip, and found out that his mom had seen a moose the day before. I was so bummed! All weekend I kept saying how much I wanted to see a moose.

Be careful what you wish for...

Yes, we got a little-too up-close-and-personal with a girl moose on our drive home. Talk about scary. We came up over a hill and saw this cow moose running out of the woods across the road. I remember screaming uselessly as the hubs tried to stop and swerve to avoid her. She ended up literally tripping over the hood of his Jeep Cherokee, breaking the windshield with her head, rolling over the hood, hitting the ground and then taking off for the woods.

We were really shaken up, and the hubs had little cuts on his legs from the broken windshield, but luckily we were all right. People do get seriously hurt and killed in collisions with moose, and when the hubs called the insurance company to file a claim, the guy on the phone was incredulous that we were actually okay.

And so was the moose! The deputy who came to help us went looking for her, and said she was nowhere to be found. Usually an injured moose will run just far enough to be out of view, but won't keep going, so since he couldn't find her, he suspected she was fine ("except for a big headache").

Even the car was driveable -- just needed a new windshield and antenna. Holy cannoli, we lucked out!

The hubs left the dents in the hood because he thought they looked cool

We knew we were somewhere where moose collisions are frequent when the guy who saw the accident and stopped to "help" us only told us lots of trivia about moose, and how they like to run out of the woods really fast like that to escape the black flies. Then he drove away. Uh, thanks dude! Really helpful.

So, I learned my lesson not to wish too hard to see a moose. Watching one come at my face was enough for me.

So there you have it, the second edition of Maine Monday. Come back next month for something else about Vacationland. I'll try not to make it animal-themed this time... :)

May 27, 2011

A fresh display for summer

First off, I'm just floored -- another fabulous blogger highlighted little ol' me! Brenda at Cozy Little House included Heart Maine Home in her recent Welcome Wagon Friday roundup. Wow! Thank you so much, Brenda!! I'm feeling so welcomed into this blogger community, and it sure is nice. You have to go check out Brenda's blog -- it's full of gorgeous photography that I know will cheer you up on this Friday as you watch the minutes tick down until quittin' time. Go over and say hi, and check out the other bloggers she featured this week! And to my new followers, welcome welcome! I'm so happy you're here.

Don't worry, I'm not going to let all of this attention go to my head. :)

We've had a pretty lousy May here in Maine -- lots of rain, cold temps and week-long stretches of absolutely NO SUN. It's been a little depressing, to say the least! The sun did come out this week, which gave me the itch to bring in some new, fresh summer decor in the living room. (The sun arrived, but of course did not stick around long enough for me to get nice light pictures...oh well!)

Our spring vignette was playful with lots of color...

For summer, I wanted something relaxing and soothing, like a warm, lazy day at the beach. We only get about three months of beach weather in Maine, so we really cherish those perfect beach days. Maine has lots of coastline and gorgeous, wild beaches, and my absolute favorite thing to do in the summer is walk along the beach, watching the waves crash, the little sandpipers running around, the kids playing in the water -- and yes, I do swim in it! It's very...refreshing :) I'm totally in love with the ocean and all of its colors -- watery blues, peaceful greens, sandy tans.

Using the colors and feeling of the ocean, I put together this summer dislay on the console table and floating shelves in our living room.

Let's take a little tour around it, shall we?

Starting with the shelves...the bottom shelf holds a little succulent that I wrapped in some jute fabric and arranged with some sea glass. I just love succulents, and they remind me of our Aruba honeymoon, where cacti dotted much of the landscape. Next to it is the white vase I snagged from Michaels and used in our kitchen as part of our spring decor. I love repurposing!

On the top shelf: a votive holder with more sea glass, a framed photo and a big glass fishing float I bought at the antique store. I love its color and unique shape

The photo I took a couple years ago at one of our favorite Maine beaches, Reid State Park in Georgetown. I shopped my house for this summery vignette, and stole the photo from a frame in the guest room, and the frame was holding a print in the dining room.

It makes me feel so relaxed...

I kept it simple on the console table -- I didn't really like how busy it was looking with all the little items, so I decided to use fewer, but bigger, items this time around. 

Remember that wire basket I bought in Kennebunkport? I love how it looks filled with a couple more glass fishing floats. Aren't they so neat? I'll have more on those another day.

I arranged a few pieces of coral we collected in Aruba and smuggled through customs (shhh don't tell!) on a white tray. I find the white-on-white very calming.

An old wooden bowl I found at the antique store for only $10 holds my collection of white shells. I love collecting shells, and everyone knows it, so when my mom and my sister go to the beach or travel they are sweet enough to bring me back a few treasures. I have a ton of shells as a result, and I love it!

Rounding it out is my green glass bottle from the flea market, and a wine bottle of sand, also smuggled out of Aruba. 

I love how the warm tones of the wood bowl contrast with the cool colors of the shells and the glass. The bowl definitely brings some dimension to the display.

On the bottom shelf, I added some jute string and shells to the baskets. I don't think I'm liking it though. After I took these photos, I kept looking at them and they reminded me of, ahem, a part of the female anatomy. (Scroll back up to the first head-on shot and tell me you see the same thing! Either that or I'm super immature.) But I do like that the baskets play off the warmer tones of the wood bowl and keep the whole display from being too cool-hued.

A few more photos...

I love how airy it feels with all the glass! And the repetition of a few colors -- white, aqua blue and green, is very soothing to me. It makes me want to put on a light, white cotton sweater and a pair of flip flops and sit down next to the ocean with my toes in the sand.

I stuck all the things I pulled off the shelves and table on top of the media cabinet to get them out of the way, including the book wreath and bundle. I'm kind of liking how they look up there, and how the wreath reflects in the mirror. I think I'll leave them there (but pare down all the stuff, obviously). If that candle ever got lit, that wreath would go up in flames so fast!

I'm working on a new summery centerpiece for our dining room table, and I'm STILL sewing something to add to the living room (okay, a hint: they're pillows!) that will bring in some of those cool blue and green colors. I promise I'll show those to you soon!

I hope you all have a fantastic Memorial Day weekend! We'll be having a little cookout if the weather cooperates (please, please, please!), and I'm really excited to finally use our outdoor space.

We'll also be playing for the first time this game...have you guys seen it? I guess it's called ladder golf, though some may know it as redneck horseshoes (ha!). Being a fellow DIY fan (but in a very different way!), the hubs is planning to build our own set before Sunday. If he does, I'll do a little tutorial in case anyone else is looking for something fun to play this summer.

I wish we were playing on the beach! Photo from Coastal Living

Have a great long weekend! I'll be back on Monday for another Maine Monday, highlighting another iconic Maine creature...can you guess what it is?? :)

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May 25, 2011

Feelin' the love

Just a little note to let you know that the wonderful Christina at Christina's Adventures has included little ol' me in a list of her favorite blogger friends! It was a total surprise -- I was just in my Google Reader, reading the bazillion posts I have to go through (like 600+, I'm serious!), and I got to Christina's post and was thinking, "Gosh, how nice of her to give some shoutouts to other bloggers!"...then BAM! It was my face :)

(That's my entryway mini makeover on the left, and my book page wreath)

A shoutout like this means so much to someone like me just starting out, figuring out how all this blogging stuff works, wondering if anyone is reading, if all the hard work is worth it. Being included among these other great blogs (most of which have a few hundred followers, compared to my 21!) is really flattering. I'm very touched that she would take time out of her unpacking (she just moved!) to call attention to my little blog, and amazed at how nice everyone is in this blogging world and how willing everyone is to share in each other's successes and excitements. Thank you, Christina! I hope to have hundreds of followers like you someday! Maybe this is the beginning...

And do stop by Christina's blog and follow her (and wish her well on her new place!) And don't forget to visit the other fabulous blogs she listed. I'm a follower of all of them now, and I hope you will be too! 

And to my new readers visiting from Christina's Adventures, a big THANK YOU! for stopping by. I hope you'll stick around. :)

May 23, 2011

One book three ways: book wreath, book bundle and book-page monogram

Happy Monday, all! I hope you all had a good weekend. We FINALLY saw some sun this weekend and it was even warm -- at least for a couple hours. It was enough to get outside and get some things done in the yard.

But I also spent some time inside working on a couple projects that have been rattling around in my brain for a while. A trip to the flea market last weekend provided me with the perfect opportunity to pick up my supplies: a trio of old paperbacks for $1 total.

A couple months ago, I spotted Lacey @ Feathering My Nest's fabulous book page wreath and absolutely loved it! She encouraged me to give it a try, but I was a little nervous, so I held off. But with those old books in hand, I decided to go for it.

My favorite of the bunch was the tattered copy of A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle. It was really beat up -- the cover was falling off, the pages perfectly aged. I started by tearing off the cover, taking a little extra time to pull and cut off the remaining bits of glue on the spine.

Now, I know the idea of ripping up a book might be sacrilegious to some of you book-lovers out there -- and I understand -- I was an English major, after all. But I purposefully picked books that were already in rough shape (one of the covers was actually already falling off). Plus, who knows how long these books would sit gathering dust at the flea market. I like to think of it as bringing new life to an old, forgotten treasure. And I was a big fan of Madeleine L'Engle when I was younger, so I felt like reusing that book was a tribute to her and her work. 

Now, I'm a little cheap thrifty, so instead of buying a wreath form, I did something I've done before to make a Christmas tinsel wreath -- I grabbed some aluminum foil and made a circle out of it. To disguise the silver color and give the hot glue something better to adhere to, I wrapped it in leftover paper bag (from L.L.Bean!).

Then, I carefully tore out a bunch of pages and started rolling them. It took a little while to get the knack, but I found sticking a finger or two right in the middle of the page as a guide and then gently rolling the paper around that center was the best way to achieve a nice rolled look. I didn't do them all the same, to give the pages a more varied and natural look. Then, I tamped down the pointed end just a little on my palm, put a bunch of hot glue on the end and stuck it to my DIY wreath form.

After one row...

After two rows...

I ended up doing three rows of rolled pages. I don't know how many pages I used, but about half the book. I think. When I was all done, I did a little fluffing and a little strategic gluing to get it to look as symmetrical as I could. Here's the end result.

To hang it, I hot glued a loop of ribbon to the back and pressed a thumbtack into an old frame I already (also from the flea market!). Don't those yellow-brown pages give it such a gorgeous, aged look? But the fluffiness also makes it fun. I'm totally loving it, and it really was easy -- no need to be scared, like I was! Thanks for the encouragement, Lacey!

I still had about half the book left, and got an idea. I bought this wooden monogram at Joann a while back, thinking I'd paint it but not sure what color. 

Loving those beautiful book pages, I decided to give it a little decoupage treatment, using some Mod Podge.

I ripped up a few pages in little pieces and started applying them on the edges of the letter, using a little Mod Podge to hold them in place. I did this with little rhyme or reason, except to vary the direction of the text.

Once I had the entire letter covered in page pieces, I sealed it all in place with a light coat of Mod Podge over the whole thing. Et voila!

Monograms are hot, and the decoupaged pages gives it a neat look, I think. I was thinking of how cute it wold be to spell out LOVE and use pages from love poems for Valentine's Day, or even spell out MERRY and use pages from Dickens' A Christmas Carol (hmm, filing that away for this December...). 

And guess what? I still had a few pages left! I decided to use the rest of the book, along with the other two (plus a fourth culled from my own collection) to make one of those book bundles you've seen popping up in Pottery Barn and Ballard catalogs. 

The cost for these designer bundles? $18-$25 for Ballard, and a whopping $39 for the Pottery Barn version. No thanks, I'll make my own!

I ripped all the covers and the first few pages off...

Then, following Christina at Christina's Adventures technique, I steeped some tea, squeezed most of the water out of the tea bags and blotted/dragged them across the edges and tops of the pages to help give them an even more weathered look. I put the books under some heavier ones for a few minutes to keep the damp pages from wrinkling as they dried.

I simply stacked them and tied them together with some sisal twine I found at the local hardware store. Easy as pie.

It's amazing what you can do with one little book from the flea market.

Best of all, I accomplished all of this in less than $10. I bought the three books for $1, the wooden letter was a couple bucks and the twine was $3. The rest I either had on hand (Mod Podge, hot glue) or improvised (aluminum foil, recycled paper bag, tea). And the projects also kept me busy while I was stuck inside, wishing the rain would stop.

I'm not sure where my new book creations will live permanently, but this week I'll be swapping out my spring decor for some summery things, so we'll see where they land!

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