Jul 28, 2011

Old keys become art {DIY}

While we were in Quebec City celebrating our anniversary, we popped into a few antique stores and I came home with these:

I've always eyed old keys but never bought any. One key was for a door, and the other for a piece of furniture, the saleswoman told me. And I was sooo proud of myself that I managed to have most of the conversation with her in French! :)

There's lots of great key art out there (this post from design*sponge has lots of fabulous ideas on how to decorate with keys). They make easy, fast art, and they're all unique because no two old keys ever look the same.

I bought a frame from Michaels with a 25% off coupon, and picked it because it had a double mat, so there was lots of space between the back of the frame and the glass -- perfect for accommodating my little keys!

I used a little dab of hot glue on each to stick them to a piece of slightly shimmery scrapbook paper. Then, I just hung it on the wall. Super easy!

It's a small frame, so I needed a little spot for it, and this spot above the couch in the living room seemed perfect.

I was a little nervous about hanging a black frame in here, since the other frames are wood-toned, but we have a black media cabinet across the room, so I figured that would tie it in. (I chose black for the frame because I really liked the way it worked with the patina of the keys).

The frame was $6.75 and the keys were $10, I think, so a thrifty little piece of art. I'd love to find more keys and do something bigger, or maybe even do a second frame below this one. What do you think?

Most of all, I like that the keys will remind me of our first anniversary trip without screaming souvenir.

Linking up to Christina's 20 Below Thursday party!

Jul 25, 2011

Maine Monday 4: Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

It's the last Monday of the month, which means it's Maine Monday time (better late than never, right??)! This month, I've got lots of summery eye candy for you from the

           ...Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. 

Open since 2007, the gardens encompass 250 acres near the coast in Boothbay, Maine. On Saturday, I went to the gardens for the first time with my mother and sister, and despite the record heat, we had a fantastic time exploring the gardens and pretending the lush, green and manicured property was our own backyard!

Note: The day started out cloudy then became sunny, so you'll see some photos in bright light.

We saw lots of pretty lilies, roses and other colorful flowers blooming in the height of summer...

One of my favorite parts was the children's garden, opened last year. It had a massive treehouse, a maze, stone whale sculptures that spouted water and little playhouses that even had grass growing on their roofs.

I loved the "bog" too!

And no kids' garden is complete without some animals-in-residence.

For the grown-ups, there was a lush meditation garden with a beautiful water feature and a view of an ocean inlet.

A garden of the five senses had aromatic plants like lavender and mint, silky-soft plants like lambs' ear, the soft sounds of water features and even tomatoes and blueberries you were encouraged to pop in your mouth (when ripe, of course!).

The gardens were dotted with sculptures and art from Maine-made artists, as well as pergolas with adorable outdoor seating where you could sit and rest. I want this in my backyard!

We spent about three hours there, but could have spent a lot longer, if it hadn't been so hot. We also spent some time browsing a handful of local vendors selling jewelry, art, food and other products.

A few more photos...

Cabbage and lettuce in the kids' garden

Weeping trees

If you're in Maine or planning to visit, I would highly recommend a visit to the gardens. But not if you're allergic to bees. That place was constantly buzzing!

Yep, there's my mom and sister!

Thanks for your patience with this month's Maine Monday (I'm sure you were all just hanging on the edge of your seats all day waiting for this...haha). Read the other Maine Mondays here!

Jul 22, 2011

New convex mirror {thrifty find}

Hey, all, happy Friday! I cannot wait for the weekend. We're in the middle of a bona fide heat wave here in Maine...it's supposed to get up to 100 degrees in Maine's largest city, which it hasn't done in over 30 years! If only I could spend all day at the beach...

Just a little post to share my latest thrift store purchase. I’ve driven by this little thift/flea market place a zillion times but always had somewhere to be, or groceries in the car, or the hubs with me (he is not a thrifter!), so I’ve never stopped. But I had a lazy Saturday morning to myself last weekend, so I made it a point to stop in and see what was there.

It had lots of your general flea market finds -- vintage glassware, collectibles, old furniture, etc. -- and even a few random things (who really buys 30-year-old VHS tapes anymore??). I had lots of fun looking through it all, but since I didn’t really need any of it, I came home with just a little glass bottle, for a grand total of $3.15.

But something else caught my eye: a convex mirror. I pondered over it, but ultimately went home without it. But I kept thinking about it, and then, while watching an episode of True Blood, I spotted the same style of mirror in a shot of Bill Compton's house (I tried to find a screen shot of it but couldn't, but for any True Blood fans, it hangs on the wall next to the front door, I think on the left). I took it as a sign that the universe wanted me to buy it, so I showed the hubs a picture. He said “pretty cool,” which I took to mean, “Yes, please buy it, I can’t live without it!” (Okay, that was really just how I felt about it....).

So, a couple days later (with groceries in the car, I might add), I made another stop. This time I knew I’d be fast, since I had a purpose, a mission, an objective. I must have this mirror!

Please ignore the weeds...it's far too hot to do yard work

I first saw this kind of mirror when Lauren wrote about them in Pure Style Home. They’re a Federal-style convex mirror made in the 18th century and widely reproduced in the 1940s and 50s by a Syracuse company called Syroco. The Syroco reproductions are made of a kind of wood-flour material molded and made to look gold. Many have 13 balls or stars around the mirror to represent the 13 original American colonies. Though modeled after a European style, they became symbols of American independence.

From the George Washington Collection of Mirrors by the Friedman Brothers, a reproduction for sale at Mount Vernon for $3,200.

The originals and even the higher-end reproductions go for thousands of dollars, but I bought mine for a cool $18. I thought that was a pretty good deal, since I’ve seen other Syroco pieces like that selling for $50 or more online. Yippee!

It’s totally out of my usual style, but something about it really draws me. Maybe it’s the crazy convex mirror that looks like a porthole (I do like nautical things). Maybe it’s that the eagle reminds me of the eagle my parents hung on our house when I was kid (it now hangs on the shed). Maybe I’m just really feeling patriotic and the eagle reinforces my American pride. Who knows! But I’m very happy to have it.

Proud to be an American...!

The hubs’ response? “It looks more gold than the picture you showed me.” No worries. I have plans to paint it. Although I hesitate to paint it, the gold color is starting to tarnish and I don’t think gold is my thing -- doesn’t really fit with our house. I’m thinking about painting it a fresh, modern white, like these:

Of course, in the right room, it looks great gold too, adding a little glam:

Elle Decor, via Matters of Style

I thought it could go in our office when we get around to working on it, since it kind of has a nautical feel, I think, and might go well with my code-flag prints. But maybe I’ll change my mind. I kind of want to put it over my bed, so that eagle can watch over us. I guess I’m creepy like that...

Always feel like...somebody's watchin' me!

But seriously, what do you think? Paint the frame a bright, shiny white, accompanied by the code flag prints, also in their own white frames? Or paint the mirror turquoise or coral or another fun color? I’d love to hear your suggestions on what to do with this mirror! Here's one of two code flag prints I have that I'm planning to hang in the office.

And just so you can see what my new thrifty find looks like on the wall, I hung it up quickly in the kitchen.

I couldn't get that darn price sticker off and I was too impatient to take photos

In other news, my birch arbor and mason jar lanterns were featured again, this time by Stephanie Lynn at Under the Table and Dreaming! Thank you so much, Stephanie Lynn!

Linking my thrifty find up at Finding Fabulous' Frugalicious Friday, so stop by and check it out!

Jul 18, 2011

Easy s'mores on the grill

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend!

I have to confess, I love me some s'mores. There's just something about that magical combination of warm graham cracker, melted chocolate and that gooey marshmallow that totally rocks my socks. I'm like a total kid when we go camping, because I always stuff myself full of s'mores before bed, then complain of an upset stomach!

We bought ourselves a fire pit that I'm ashamed to admit we haven't used (but we did have a bonfire on Memorial Day that was perfect for s'mores-making). And though I really adore sitting in front of a fire, sometimes, it's just a little too much work to set up the fire pit, get the wood, get a fire going and tend to it. And it was super-hot this weekend here in Maine, which makes sitting around a fire not super appealing.

But I had a major craving for some s'mores this weekend, so I decided to improvise. One time when we were camping with my family, my dad suggested making s'mores in aluminum foil over the fire. But the flames were hard to control, leaving us with some scorched graham crackers (not yummy). Since a grill's flame is smaller and easier to control, I thought it'd give me better results.

So, here's how you make super-easy s'mores on the grill.

(FYI: This is not and will never be a cooking blog, so don't get too excited. I'm not much of a cook -- thank God the hubs is!)

Start with your s'mores ingredients -- marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers (or whatever else you like to put on s'mores).

Tear off a small-ish piece of aluminum foil, about five or six inches long by however wide the foil comes off the roll, and arrange your s'more on it. Have fun attempting to balance a graham cracker on an uncooked marshmallow -- you might have to smush it a little to get it to behave.

Wrap the foil around the s'more and fold the edges down a couple times. Then, fold the other ends in to make a little packet. It doesn't have to look good, people!

Then, place the packet on your already-warmed-up grill. I kept mine on low, which seemed to work well.

Here's a hint: When you put the packet on the grill, put the chocolate side UP, as in, further away from the grate. I found that the marshmallow and chocolate heated more evenly this way -- otherwise, the chocolate gets too melty before the marshmallow is heated through.

Let your s'more cook for about five minutes. If you want it really gooey, pull it off the flame but leave it in the warm grill for another minute or two.

Remove from the grill and open carefully (no burnt fingers!).

Warning: This is messy, messier than a regular s'more. Don't be embarrassed to lick the chocolate off your fingers.

You won't get the yummy toasted flavor of a campfire s'more, but it'll satisfy your graham cracker-chocolate-marshmallow craving in a pinch!

On another note, Christina over at Christina's Adventures has again featured one of my projects -- my birch arbor and mason jar lanterns! Thank you so much, Christina! And welcome to any readers hopping over from Christina's blog. Stop by and see the other fantastic projects she featured yesterday -- and also her fabulous yellow and gray bathroom!

I've got like a zillion projects I'm hoping to work on soon...I feel like I haven't done much in the way of crafting lately. Thanks for your patience, and stay tuned!

Linking up!

Reasons to Skip the Housework Tuesday Time Out

Home Stories A to Z's Tutorials and Tips Tuesday

33 Shades of Green's Tasty Tuesdays