Category Archives: project

Project Fish Room: Complete

Happy Monday!

So it’s been a really long while since I updated the progress of the Switch-A-Roo we’ve been doing between the dining room and the new “fish room.” When last we spoke about the Switch-A-Roo, I had just completed painting the dining room in anticipation of the new fish tank being delivered.

A couple weeks later, the fish tank, all 180 gallons of it, arrived. I was a little shocked by the size of the stand and tank.

The tank stand is longer than our 7-year-old son.

My hubby had measured it all out for me to see, but until I actually saw the behemoth, I didn’t really “get it.” Luckily after placing into the room, it didn’t seem quite as overwhelming as it did when it was being carried into the house.

Filling 180 gallons of water takes an eternity.

It took a couple weeks for the tank to “cycle,” so we didn’t have any fish or coral in it for a while.

The finished product!

But once they were all acclimated into their new home, it all came together nicely.

The former dining room turned cozy fish room.

The new fish room has turned out to be a wonderful little spot for relaxing – many a nap has been taken and many a glass of wine has been imbibed on the sofa!

The only thing left, I think, is putting some drapes up. Maybe that’ll happen sometime in the next couple years! :^)

Next up…finishing the new dining room. Updates to follow shortly!


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Finally, After Three Years…A Headboard

Yes, it’s taken me three years to make a headboard for our master bedroom. Yes, I had this same idea for a headboard for three years. Yes, I’m just that lazy or just that much of a procrastinator. Yes, it’s done and I love it.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just take way too long to make a decision about something. Like this silly headboard. I kept thinking that the perfect headboard, at the perfect price, was going to jump out at me. I found lots of headboards that I really liked but never pulled the trigger on buying them because I kept thinking I’d find one similar at a better price.

My husband and I agreed that we wanted an upholstered headboard. I’ve seen lots of tutorials on how to make them, but they have all required me to go to the hardware store and get a piece of plywood cut to order and then create a seemingly complicated system for hanging it on the wall. I like simple. The simpler, the better.

So last week I was in Michaels cruising around – without the kids – and went into the painting canvas aisle. I like to buy canvases just in case I ever feel crafty and decide to start creating collage art (I’ve done one and want to do more, but you know how it is). So while I was looking at the big canvases, I had a thought. “Alyse,” I said, “why don’t you buy three big canvases, wrap batting and fabric around them and hang them up as a headboard.” Why didn’t I think of that before? No need to cut plywood, no need to do a fancy hanging system.

Fabric is from the Revive collection by Art Gallery Fabrics

So that’s what I did. I bought three 24″ x 30″ canvases and a package of quilt batting for about $43 (the canvases were 50% off!). When I got home, I went into my stash of fabric and found a piece that was big enough to cover the three panels and that coordinated with our purple wall. I’m actually surprised that I had enough of this fabric to do the job, but I guess I was waiting for the right project to use it.

I cut out pieces of fabric and batting that were about 3 inches larger than the canvases on all sides. Used a staple gun to attach the material to the canvases and then screwed two picture hanging hooks into each panel. Easy.

The toughest part was making sure the nails for the panels were level. So if you decide to do this, just be sure you have a good level handy.

I can’t believe it took me three years to do this. It’s such a relief to have this project crossed off the list!


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Switch-A-Roo: Stage 1 Complete

Over the weekend I did a little painting. Since the BIG fish tank could arrive any day, we figured if I was going to repaint the dining room before it gets turned into the “fish room” now was the time to do it.

I wasn’t really sure what color I wanted, but I knew red had to go. So I went to the Benjamin Moore paint store and picked a few colors – quite a varied selection. After about 3 minutes of deliberation, my husband and I agreed upon “Wenge.”

I used the Natura paint which is Zero VOC so there was no smell – a huge bonus. The Natura paint is super thick and goes on like a dream. Since the dining room is pretty small and I only had to paint the top half, I got it done in less than 24 hours – quite amazing since I had both kids at home with me all weekend.

It’s a super dark brown that has a touch of purple. It almost looks black in the photos – and at night too. But I like it. It’s a big change from the red. I think the fish will like it too!

Dining Room Before

Color options

Dining Room Before

Dining Room After

Dining Room After

Stay tuned for more transformations!

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Pretty Little Pocket Notebooks

I was feeling a little crafty today and thought I’d do an easy paper project – a small notebook.

I bought a cute little notebook last summer at my favorite gift/home decor shop in Minneapolis, Patina. The notebook was made by Noi Publishing and has been a god-send when we’ve gone to restaurants where they don’t give the kids paper and crayons. My son and daughter have decorated most of the pages and now I don’t have any room left for my doodles, notes, and oh so very important information.

So it was time to make my own – and save a few dollars. So into the crafty paper drawer I went – this is a drawer where I throw miscellaneous ephemera with pretty patterns, pictures, colors, or whatever. I save a lot of stuff and am happy I finally used some! Today’s paper came from a booklet/brochure I had advertising Amy Butler’s fabric. I love her fabrics, so now I’ll get to look at some of them each time I use the notebooks!

Making the notebooks was simple. Here’s how I did it:

Cut plain sheets of paper and one cover to 7-1/4″ by 5-1/2″. I did this dimension because my stapler has a depth of 3-5/8″ and I wanted to be able to easily staple the sheets together. I put 10 pages in each notebook (folded to make 20 pages).

Staple the notebooks together in the center. Face the cover up when stapling so that the flat part of the staple is on the outside.

And fold.

Pretty and easy! So easy I made six of them. Is that overkill? Oh well!

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This Baby Stuff is Too Stinkin’ Cute

I was going through all my crafty magazines today and doing a little organizing when I ran across some old Martha Stewart Baby magazines. I remember buying the first one  when we decided that we were ready to have a baby and the other two after I found out I was pregnant. It still makes me giddy to see all the adorable baby things – even after I am so over having babies.

Martha Stewart Baby (Spring 2002, Fall 2002, Spring 2003)

Looking back through these Martha Stewart Special Issues, my love for Martha Stewart is renewed. She and her awesome staff have such a way of creating timeless projects. The decorating ideas in these issues are as stylish today as they were eight years ago. I don’t know if it’s even possible to obtain the back issues (Spring 2002, Fall 2002, Spring 2003), but there are lots of great baby projects on

Martha Stewart Baby (Fall 2002)

If you or anyone you know is having a baby soon, Martha has some great birth announcement ideas. You may think that it’s just a big pain in the butt, especially after just having a baby, to make your own announcements, but with a little planning ahead before the baby is born, it can easily be done. I found it quite gratifying to make my own for both my kids. I felt like I was putting my special touch on the announcements and adding a little personality to them. These magazines gave me the inspiration for my kids announcements.

Martha Stewart Baby (Spring 2002)

Martha Stewart Baby (Spring 2002)

For my son’s announcement, I made “business cards” with all his vital statistics and used brads to attach them to cardstock which I had printed my son’s footprint on (I scanned in the footprint that the hospital had made right after he was born). I had pictures of him printed out, punched a hole in the top of each, and attached it to the back of the card with the brad. My son kept the nickname “Big Baby” for a long time  – that was his “title” on his business card.

My son's birth announcement

For my daughter’s announcement, I went for a little more girly. I bought precut square paper that I think is made for scrapbooking. It came in a pack that had about six different patterns, all in pink and brown motifs. I used a punch to make the holes for the ribbon that I used to attach the vital statistics card on the front and a picture of her on the back. The pink paper I used had a bit of a sparkly shine to it that made printing on it a bit tricky. The paper went through the printer just fine, but it took a few minutes for the ink to dry. I had to lay each page out individually to dry so that ink wouldn’t smudge. In the end, I really liked the way it turned out.

My daughter's birth announcement

My baby days are over, but I don’t know if I can bear to give these issues up. There will always be gifts to be made, right?!

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Nature, it’s all around me – So I have to take photos!

My husband always mocks me when I break into the The Samples song, “Nature.” “Nature, it’s all around me. Nature is so astounding.” There I go again.

It all stems back to when I was a camp counselor at Aloha Hive (I know, funny name) in Fairlee, Vermont. It was the summer after my freshman year in college, and I thought maybe I should be a crunchy, hippy-kind of chick. Far cry from the preppy girl that showed up at the camp. I later figured out that “crunchy” meant disheveled and kind of dirty. I ended up not liking that so much.

But anyhoo…I do love taking photos of nature. And I do love playing with my new favorite photo editing program, Here’s a few of my latest creations.

Wooly Caterpillar using the Grainy and Cross Process features on Picnik

Dragonfly using the Cross Process feature on Picnik

Butterfly using the Fancy Focus feature on Picnik

Now if only I had more wall space in my house to print and frame all my photos. Perhaps a rotating gallery is what I need. I do have a set of three photos of Paris shop fronts that I took on our trip in 2006 hanging in the dining room. Maybe I could rotate photos there. Hmm. I feel an idea emerging. I’ll keep you posted!

Maybe a rotating photo gallery in the dining room?

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We Wish You a Crafty Christmas

Warning: If you are one of my relatives and don’t want to know what some of your Christmas gifts are, don’t read this post. Read it in 10 days!

I’m no Martha Stewart, but I do try. I find that letting my creative side come out, whether it’s through making handbags or greeting cards or trying to arrange flowers, makes me happy. I also think that giving kids a creative outlet in a semi-controlled environment is a good thing. I was at a kids’ function (I’m being purposefully vague here as to not hurt anyone’s feelings) not long ago where the kids were to make scrapbook pages. They were given lots of paper, scissors, markers, photos – all the usual scrapbooky stuff. I must say here that with all the crafty endeavors I have, scrapbooking is not one of them. Anyhow, back to the kids’ scrapbooking…some of the parents were obviously very into scrapbooking and were getting upset with the kids when they weren’t following conventional scrapbooking methods of centering pictures and cutting straight lines and such. I was truly shocked at how Type A some of these folks were being with the kids. I was helping my son out by handing him the tape and glue sticks. I figured he had an idea of how he wanted his pages to look so why should I impose on that. They’re his pages.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m a better parent or anything because I let my kid do what he wanted. I just think it’s great to see what comes out of the minds of my little ones. A child’s mind is open and has no concept of conventional art. Why not let them go nuts while they still want to?!

But I digress…

This Christmas has been a crafty one in my house. More crafty than in years past. And it’s been fun. Here’s what we’ve been up to:

Printable Calendars – I found some cool shops on Etsy that offer PDF files of calendars that you print out yourself. I bought three different calendars all for around $5 each, the Etsy sellers emailed me the files, and I printed them out multiple times as gifts for various people. One of them had a blank top half on each month on which I let the kids draw and color on. I think grandmas and aunts will love having original art by the kids.

Printable Calendar by A Little Hut

Painted Picture Frames – I went to Michael’s and bought a couple unfinished wooden frames for about $3 each and had the kids paint all over them however they wanted. My boy painted his camouflage for his grandpa. Grandpa will love it!

Santa's Workshop

Wooden Ornaments – Again, at Michael’s I bought a bunch of unfinished wood ornaments that are also little picture frames. I had each kiddie paint five of them and then printed out pictures of them to put in.

Photo Envelopes – I’ve been a bit lax about printing out family pictures and sending out to the relatives throughout the year. So when I got on Shutterfly and ordered 300 prints, yes 300, I figured I needed a nice way to present them to everyone. I found an Amy Butler card and envelope pattern and used it to make a cute photo holder. A little cardstock, a little cutting, a little gluing, a little decorating by the kids, and done.

Greeting Cards – My mom was telling me a couple months ago that she has had a hard time finding sets of cards to put into her “stash.” She has always kept a drawer full of greeting cards so that when someone’s birthday or anniversary rolls around, all she has to do is open the drawer and mail it out. Smart. I’ve been saving fortunes from fortune cookies for I don’t know how long. A lightbulb went off. Make greeting cards with all the fortunes. So I scanned in a couple dozen fortunes and placed them each on a Pages/Word document, printed them on cardstock, cut them out, and folded them. I bought coordinating cardstock and envelopes to make them a little more professional. Greeting card set, check.

Fortune Cookie Fortunes for Greeting Cards

Phew. I’m worn out. None of these were actually very hard. It takes a little time and preparation, but I think worth it.

Merry Crafty Christmas!

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