6.25.2011

CLOSED - GIVEAWAY! Of the quick variety.

To celebrate reaching 200 fans on facebook, we're giving something away!  I spent a lot of time trying to decide WHAT to give away, but ultimately I decided I would leave it up to the winner.  Easy peasy, right?



So...one winner will have their choice of anything in my etsy store valued under $40!



Aaaaand, this is a quick giveaway.  Just 24 hours - so get your enter on, folks!



To enter, complete any or all of the following, each one will score you ONE entry (and if you do any of the following already, let us know and that counts as an entry).



Thank you SO much for helping us reach this milestone and we look forward to many more giveaways in the future!



1.  Let us know your favorite item in our store!



2.  Follow this blog.



3. Like The Blue Swirl on fb.



4.  Follow us on Twitter.


5.  Tweet about the giveaway or share it on fb.


6.  Join our newsletter.  We will NEVER bomboard your inbox or spam you (hearts crossed and poke a needle in our eyes and all that nonsense), but we WILL send out discount codes.  There will always be a 5% off code in our newsletters, but sometimes we'll have bigger sales and we'll announce our new products and more!



Thank you, thank you, thank you!


6.23.2011

The Lazy Girl's Guide to Painting Furniture

I LOST A BIG CHUNK OF THE OLD PICTURES I HAD ON THIS BLOG WHEN I INADVERTENTLY DELETED SOME PICASA ALBUMS.  I PLAN ON UPDATING THESE PICTURES THE NEXT TIME I PAINT SOME FURNITURE - LAZILY.  THANKS FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING.  :)



Alternately titled: How Many Things Can Go Wrong in One Simple Paint Project?


Alternately titled: Maybe You Shouldn't Take Painting Advice from Me


Taking a cue from my friend and her Lazy Lady's Guide to Potty Training, (awesome, by the way), here's the down-low on today's painting project.


Nothing makes a procrastinator stop procrastinating like posting a picture of something I want to do and saying I'm going to do it.



But this ain't my first rodeo.  I refinished Addie's dresser.  Then I painted some old dressers for our master bedroom.   And some other smaller projects.  Painting furniture is fun, but it takes FOR-EVER.  If you do it the right way.



But today, we're doing it the wrong way.  Mmmhmm, we like to live dangerously.  We like to...skip sanding...not take the furniture apart...not worry about the underside.  And other such rebellious things.



If you have an ugly piece of furniture but don't feel like investing many hours of your life in making it pretty, then join me, friends.  This tutorial won't net you flawless, gorgeous, showcase-worthy furniture.  In fact, you'll probably want to make sure no one ever looks too closely.  But in my case, it's just going in my craft room and it just needs to look prettier than it did, so I'm okay with a pretty good job.  Plus, my philosophy on this is that if it's already really ugly, then doing a pretty good job is already improving it exponentially.  Who's with me?



You might remember my craft desk.





I pulled her outside onto the deck, put my princess down for a nap and pulled together the necessities: some primer, a can of spray paint, some regular interior paint for the top of the table, a foam roller brush, some small foam brushes, a drop cloth and a paint tray.  I happen to have all these on hand because I really, really love painting.



Now slap on a coat of primer.  I didn't sand.  I know, oh-no-she-di'int!  You might have to if you're painting painted furniture, but this was just raw, stained wood, so I got gutsy and said boo-ya to the sander.



(Also, please don't judge my hideous deck.  It's on the to-do list.  Perhaps it should take precedence over my crafting desk.  But it doesn't.  So there.)





You might notice my lovely choice in holder-downer things for the drop cloth.  Here's lesson #1 in what not to do.  I forgot to use holder-downer things at first, so my plastic blew in the wind and got stuck to the freshly-primed legs.  Not fun to deal with.  Here's lesson #2: use things that you won't be upset to get paint on.  Because you will.






Alright, now take your little foam brush and get moving on those pesky little corners and bottoms (like above).  Just quick and easy.  Remember, this is the lazy girl's guide.  Don't get all perfectionist on me right now.  I'm a perfectionist and even I can do a lazy job.



Rinse and repeat for a second coat if you need it.  I did it just to be on the safe side.  Who knows if I actually needed it.  But nothing irritates me more than realizing after the fact that I should have done two coats of primer.



Okay, I lie.  There are a lot more irritating things in life.  Like stepping on the scale after walking five miles the day before and realizing you're up two pounds (been there).  Or realizing after sewing an entire pants leg that you forgot to turn your stitch dial off zig-zag (done that).



 



I did the same thing to my chair because it was yellow and ugly.   This time I got even more inventive and used my herbs as holder-downer things.  You might notice that my herbs look pathetic.  Shout-out to my son for that.  He likes to "help" mommy & daddy by ripping the herbs out of their pots.  I think these babies have been repotted three times now.



Remember when I said to expect to get paint on your holder-downers?  Well I got primer in my basil pot.  I'll be sure to let you know if I die next week from primer-tainted basil.



Lesson #3: Don't try to rinse out your foam roller if you're using primer.  Maybe everyone but me knows this aaaaand I'm unsure how I just now figured this out, but if you try to rinse and save your brush, it will result in quite possibly the largest mess you've ever had on your hands.  Literally.



You might then panic when you realize that your hands are completely covered in greasy primer that WON'T COME OFF AND OH-MY-GOSH-WHAT-AM-I-SUPPOSED-TO-DO-IF-ADDIE-WAKES-UP-RIGHT-NOW?!  Then you may run outside, grabbing the kitchen scrub brush as you go, when you realize that you might be ruining your bathroom sink with primer and then you may get primer all over the hose (if you're reading this before you get home, honey, remember I love you) and you might scrub your skin raw with a kitchen scrub brush and still not get much of the primer off.  Then you'll look down at the puddle of water and primer you're standing in and realize that you now have primer-covered feet and legs (and grass).  So you'll scrub those raw, too.  And ruin your pedicure.





And your kitchen scrub brush.





Then if you're hippy-dippy like me, you'll freak out that the primer has absorbed into your skin and breastfeeding your baby may kill her.  And you might try to decide what's worse: breastmilk with a side of primer or formula.



I'm still undecided on that one, but I went with breastmilk and she's still alive.  Twitching a little, but alive.



I kid, I kid.



If your child is perfect like mine (no, really, she is), she'll wake up exactly as you finish getting all most of the primer off your skin (no, really, she did).



Then go inside and take care of your child(ren) and let your furniture dry in the sun.  Or if it's winter and cold and you can't do this outside, then let it dry in your garage.  Or I guess in your house if you really, really have to, but need I get all preachy on paint & primer fumes?  Remember, I'm hippy like that.



Once the primer is dry, take it somewhere you can spray paint it.  You can use regular paint, too.  Really do whatever you want, folksies.  I just chose spray paint because I'm wanting this to be fast.  And because it doesn't need to be perfect.  If I were giving this to a someone or making it for the kids or something, I would be meticulous and this blog post wouldn't be titled what it is.




 Just in case you happen to be using your potted herbs, too, remember: safety first, kids.  Cover them bad boys up before spray painting.





  A few once-overs with the spray paint should be good, or basically until you can't see any color but the one you're going for.  Remember to spray from kind of far away.  You don't want drips and the like.  I know we're being lazy, but we're not that lazy.



I did the same to the table, but then I wanted to paint the table top a little different color.  So I dug through our paint collection and pulled out a nice, calming blue.  Remember I'm going for peaceful and serene here.


Lesson #4: Always hammer your paint lid back on when you're done with it.  This paint is a few years old and the lid wasn't completely closed, so it was total goop.  Like glue.  I had to actually scrape it out of the can with a paint stirrer.





I don't know that this picture really does it justice, but it was like glue.



I live on the edge, so I used it.  I know you're getting tired of hearing this, but this table is for me only and I didn't feel like using any other color so I just went with it.



Surprisingly, it worked fine.  Still, close your paint lids!  Save the world!



Then things took a drastic turn for the worse when, out of nowhere, the primer can jumped out of my hands and threw itself onto the deck.  I suppose in an attempt to get away from me and my incompetence?  I don't know, but I think I'm breaking up with primer.  Again, honey, if you're reading, I really, really, really love you.







Ooooooooooooooh.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  Like the ocean waves.  Ommmmmmmm.



I rolled it on and didn't think it needed a second coat (BECAUSE IT'S GLUE which, as it turns out, can actually come in handy), so I stuck it out in the sun, let it dry for awhile and then like a kid on Christmas morning, giddily brought it inside and set up shop.






I love it!  Imperfections and all.  Just don't look closely if you're ever at my house for a visit.






My new happy place.  See?  Wasn't that easy?  It took me a little over 2 hours from start to finish, but remember the insane amount of disasters I survived?  Obviously your time will vary a lot depending on what you're painting and how disaster-prone you are, but this went by much more quickly than my other paint jobs and even though it's not perfect, you can't tell unless you get close.  And for my craft table, I'm totally cool with that.  It'll be our little secret, me and her.


6.20.2011

Make a burp cloth: quick and easy

I LOST A BIG CHUNK OF THE OLD PICTURES I HAD ON THIS BLOG WHEN I INADVERTENTLY DELETED SOME PICASA ALBUMS.  I PLAN ON UPDATING THESE PICTURES THE NEXT TIME I SEW A BURP CLOTH.  THANKS FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING.  :)



This burp cloth took me maybe 20 minutes to put together, if that.  It's so simple and quick and much cuter than the cloth diaper burp rags.


The players:



Some fabric scraps.  Here I used some cotton fabric leftovers and some minkee leftovers.  Any absorbent fabric like terrycloth, minkee or chenille would work great on one side.  I cut my pieces 8"x15", but you can adjust to suit your needs.



To make life easier on me and because I hate cutting one stretchy and one non-stretch fabric the same exact height & width, I start by cutting out my cotton, non-stretch fabric into the desired measurement.





Then I place it on my minkee with right-sides together (this is important for a future step and will make your life easier).





Next, I pin together the four corners.  Again, this is just a little trick I've learned to make life easier on me when working with fabrics that are stretch and non-stretch together.



 



Now pin all the way around.









Cut your minkee the same size as your cotton fabric - and leave the pins in!





Now go ahead and sew around the edges.  I went with about a 5/8" seam allowance.  Leave an opening several inches long on one side.







Trim your edges.  I like to live dangerously and trim mine pretty short.  Maybe too short, but it hasn't come back to bite me...yet.





I also snip off my corners.





Now turn it inside out from the opening you left.





It'll look a little crazy.  Not really burp rag-ish yet.



 



Push out your corners.  I use my knife-sharpener.  Hey, be inventive!  I'm sure they make a tool for this but I say knife sharpeners are just fine.  Just use something long enough with a dull end so you don't poke a hole through the corners.  Then if you're still not happy with them, you can kind of wiggle out the points with your fingers on the outside of the material.





Then pin your opening shut.




 



And iron it all out.








Now topstitch.  You can do something fun or just be boring like me and do a quick straight stitch.  Make sure you get pretty close to your edges.  This will close up your opening and make it look pretty.  We like pretty.





Ooh, here's a tip my mom taught me and I will never backstitch on a visible edge again.



When you get to the end of your rectangle and you would normally backstitch - don't.  Just go ahead and stop yourself but leave your threads long.  Grab a piece of that long thread (use the side that won't show, like the INSIDE of a hem of a pair of pants or in this case, on the minkee side - I'm showing you on this side only because you wouldn't be able to see what I was talking about if I were showing you how to do this on the minkee side).  Now pull it backwards until you see the loop of the thread on the underside - the bobbin thread.





Grab your thread-ripper/hem-ripper thingy (there's got to be a technical name for that, right?  Someone fill me in...) and pull the bobbin thread through gently to the other side.  I really mean GENTLY, because you don't want to break the thread.  Then you'll have both pieces of your thread on one side.





Now tie those two pieces of thread twice and snip off the remaining thread as short as you can.  You probably see that I have four pieces of thread here.  That's because I didn't backstitch in the beginning either.  You might be able to get away with not backstitching by overlapping the end of your thread with the beginning, but I don't trust that so I use this method on the beginning and end.





Voila!  You can barely see it, if at all!  Not like that ugly backstitching.







And you're done!  Give it one more press if you'd like, but then slap it on your shoulder and enjoy.







Wasn't that easy?!

6.16.2011

Some reflections on the past week.

"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Prov 15:1

I went through a recent experience where I was sucked into old drama.  I am a different person than I used to be, but sometimes your past can come back to haunt you.  I guess it's inevitable that even when you change and grow, people from your past might not and they may try to drag you down.

I struggle with biting my tongue.  It comes neither easily nor naturally for me, and it's something I have to constantly work on.  But this week, I succeeded in a major way.  A few people tried to suck me into some drama by spewing some hateful things about me & a good friend (and worse - about my amazing, devoted husband who is about as undeserving of that as a person can be).  I wanted to lash out.  I wanted to yell and defend myself and my husband.  I wanted to hurt them the way they hurt me.  But I didn't.  I read that Bible verse over and over.  I even prayed for those trying to hurt me.  I've never been able to do that before.

Jealousy is an evil monster and it helps to remember that people can lash out at us because they're jealous of who we are or what we have.  Realizing that makes it easier to forgive; it makes it easier to pray for those trying to cause you harm.  I realize that the only reason someone tried to drag my husband into things was because he is such an amazing dad.  He's a smiley, happy, dedicated man, and I'm so lucky to have him (I mean, c'mon, the guy never complains that I rearrange our house every other week even though it means he's left to do half the work!).  I realize that many women aren't so lucky to have a husband like mine, and sometimes that triggers a lash-out response.  And you know what?  That's okay.

"But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!"  Matt 5:44

"If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink." Prov 25:21

While I succeeded there, I failed big time last night.  I lashed out at a Walmart manager (when will I ever learn that I just CANNOT go to Walmart?!).  It wasn't my proudest moment, but it was late and I had driven quite a ways so that I could pick up pictures & groceries in one stop.  No one bothered to tell me that I needed to bring a photo release from the photographer who took a few of the pictures I was having developed.  It didn't mention it on their website, it didn't mention it in the email that told me my pictures were ready to be picked up and it didn't mention it in the text message that also told me my order was ready.  So when I got there, waited 8 minutes for someone to even show up to the photo counter only to have her rudely tell me she wouldn't give me my pictures, I got angry.  I pulled up the photographer's photo release on my phone but she wouldn't take that, either.  And neither would the manager.  And every person I came into contact with was rude and didn't understand my frustration about the fact that I drove quite a ways to go there and no one bothered to tell me until I got there that I needed a photo release.  

I raised my voice at the manager and told him they would just have to eat the cost of printing my pictures because I wouldn't be back to pick them up, nor would I be back as a customer ever again.  Like I said, not my proudest moment.  On the way home, I realized that even though I've come a long way in growing as a person, I still have a long way to go.  I still say nasty things.  I still lose my temper.  I try to reflect God's glory, but I don't always succeed.  I need His help.  Thank God he's willing to give it to me.