Friday, October 24, 2014

Happy Birthday!

My mom has always said she doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up.  Today is her 73rd Birthday.  When I was younger I didn't really know what she meant.  I was a neuropsychology major (what the heck do you do with that degree), and then a graduate student in early childhood education, and then a teacher, and now a mom and homemaker.  Now that I am 43, have taken a few years (okay 10) off from working full time, and am trying to decide what direction my life will lead, I get it.  100 %!  I reminded her today through Facebook that her life's work is being a mom and grandma.  Of course she's done many other things.  From a Russian studies major at Middlebury College, a world traveler, a drafting student, an EMC employee, a dog owner (to 3 awesome chocolate labs), a wife, a mother, a grandmother.  But really those last few are the most important.  So happy birthday mom!  We love you!!

I love to get presents for people I love and this year I have to say I rocked it for my mom.  Got her a gorgeous sweater that is purple and brown and green and soooo her!  It's cozy and soft and warm and like a great big hug from us that she can wear.  She's not supposed to get hugged right now.  She broke her rib last week.  We told her so when she came to drop off her dog for the weekend and told us about her fall.  If the red mark didn't give it away the yelp that escaped her mouth when she pushed on it did.  After a weekend away and sleeping on hotel beds she finally decided to follow our first advice and go get an X-ray!  So for the next 8 weeks she's in recovery, no dog walking, no hugs, no crowds.  When I asked her what she would do when we go to NY to see my oldest daughter dance in the Macy's Parade she said "I'm still going, I'll just wear a box to protect myself in the crowd!"  And she would!

Today is also another special little girl's birthday.  One of my best friends in the whole world had her little girl on my mom's birthday.  I think it's a sign!  Last weekend she asked for some ideas of what to get her for her birthday.  A vanity, I suggested.  A picture wall was another idea.  She jumped on the picture wall idea saying how much her daughter would love it.  But then panicked about how to pull it off.  Then I got a smirk on my face and typed, "Want to commission me to make it for her?"  Of course I wasn't really thinking about the fact that this was a busy week with Pumpkin Walk coming up, or that I didn't have another weekend between when I typed that and her birthday, or that I had no idea how much I would hem and haw over someone else's decorations.  For my own kids I spent months grabbing things that reminded me of them, collected frames and sayings and then just put it all together.  I didn't worry much about measuring.  I just layed it out on the rug in their room, moved things around a few times till I liked how it looked and then started hanging it.  Rod would hammer the hangars and I would adjust and readjust as things went up on the wall.  I am very visual so don't need measurements but can eyeball things and be pretty near on every time.  As long as things are level and feel visually pleasing to your eye, I'm good.  So to make a wall for a friend's daughter was different and fun.   Although it also made me stressed.  I wanted to make it perfect.  I wanted other people's opinions.  I wanted feedback.  Was it ok?  Was it enough? Although in the end I loved the process.  It made me realize that when I figure out what I want to do when I grow up, being creative has to be a part of it!  It makes me giddy and excited and happy to be creating again.  Could I do this as a side job?  I don't know.  But while I figure out what I want to be when I grow up I can't say I mind doing it for friends!

I started with what I know she loves:  the beach, her sister, her black lab Cooper, her family, soccer.  And then asked her mom what else she wanted to include:  snowboarding, the fact that she is always smiling, polka dots, blue and white and hot pink.   Then I started searching the web and pinterest for inspiring quotes.  I literally jumped out of bed last Sunday and couldn't wait to get started.  With a cup of coffee steaming next to me I pinned and saved and was feeling inspired to create something special just for this little girl that I have known since she was a baby.   Fun quotes, thoughts and inspirations for this sweet girl!  Of course they had to include all her favorites and be blue or pink or white!

In order to make it all happen you need frames, and letters and ways to  hang it all up.  I wanted it to be bright and fun but cohesive.  I couldn't wait to go shopping on Monday.  But first I had to run around like a chicken with my head cut off getting ready for our Pumpkin Walk.  Stopping at town hall, hanging signs, meeting with the park's superintendent, making calls. It only left me with an hour and a half to shop and get back home for my kids after school activities.  I had 6 stores on my list of places to visit but only made it to 3:  Home Goods, Joanne's and Kohls.  I'm a sucker for a sale and often times I paint, modge podge or mess with the original item so don't need to buy everything perfect or full price.  Of course I also use coupons and shop at places like home goods and tj maxx so things are already heavily discounted.   I actually got the majority of what I needed and then had to rush home.  While the kids did homework I couldn't wait to get started.  I printed quotes, not even concerning myself with sizes, and started laying things out so what I would know what I still needed.  

Not a bad start for one afternoon.  
I had to get my craft on so made this
canvas Monday afternoon with this
print for inspiration, a white small
canvas and two painty pens, one black
and one gold.  So fun to make! And this
quote suits her so well! 

That night I couldn't relax knowing that I hadn't hit three of my other stores and might be missing the key item to make it perfect.  Remember I normally do this over the course of at least a month but with a shorter deadline I was chomping at the bit to get 'er done!   I ran out to Michael's (but spent so long there that I couldn't hit the other two stores) and found a few more things that would work and fit in with the ideas I had.  I knew I needed some different shapes.  It becomes too linear when everything is square and rectangular.  The letter helped with that but I needed some other items too.   I was stressing about the button A and when I found this metal one I snagged it up, just in case.  I also found a cool black canvas.  What?  They sell black canvases now?!  I couldn't wait to get home and get crafty.  Tuesday when the kids were doing homework I was getting my craft on again with a white paint pen and the black canvas.  I love how it looks like a chalkboard print but it's not.  And of course I love the sentiment.  

My friend wondered if I had painted the A.  Turns out she loved
the buttons because they looked like polka dots!  Back to the first one.
On Wednesday I got my glue gun out and worked on a few designs.  I'd originally scattered them on there just to give her the gist of what it would look like.  Then I tried the full on buttons everywhere look which I hated and made me decide I needed something else, thus the metal A.  I thought about painting the dots with an eraser but wasn't sure how it would turn out and didn't want to wreck it.  I liked the brown color peaking through as it coordinated with the burlap on the family frame.  

This looked too busy and some were coming off the
sides but not filling up the A.  I hated it.  More spread out
was a better look and showed off the polka dots.
Thursday I had to finish last minute modge podging and painting so things would dry in time to wrap them and deliver them friday.   I got this box quote at Kohl's on super clearance for less than a dollar with a quote about college and 4 years or something.  I knew I wasn't going to use it for that but wanted a fun and different way to mount this retro snowboarding sticker that was her mom's favorite pick of the bunch.  I didn't want it framed.  So I modge podged the back of the print and then the top and sides of the print and frame.  I love how it turned out.  I have to give props to my husband Rod who prints pictures and quotes out for me at work.  I emailed all my favorites to him with sizes and paper type and he prints them out and brings them home for me.  He has a photoshop background so he can manipulate and change pictures and prints to fit a certain aspect ratio as well.

Thursday I also ran out to A.C. Moore for one final search for the non-square item I'd been looking for and for last minute items for our Pumpkin Walk.  I found a sweet mirror that of course goes perfectly next to the "Be You Tiful" quote.  After a few more turns at moving everything around and asking "this one or this one?" of my friend (and probably driving her crazy with all the texts and pictures!)  I settled on the final design.  (Thanks to KT, Kathy, and Rod and my kids for their input as well!)

Then came the hard part.  I layed it out on paper.   She had given me the measurements for the wall she wanted on.  I cut the paper to size.  Then measured and used a square edge to make sure things were level. Of course I usually eyeball these things so part of me thinks it might be easier in the future to just hang it myself (or truth be told with Rod wielding the hammer).  But since they live so darn far away I wasn't sure when that would happen and I wanted her  to have it hung soon.  So I made a hanging template for them.  I marked the pictures, measured, centered, and measured again for hanging holes.  I hope it makes things easier and not more difficult for them!  

The hanging map...It's a little easier to read in person. 

And yes, Anna, everyone was in on it.  I hear your dad and grandma are good hangers.
They gave your picture wall the thumbs up!  
Happy Birthday sweet Annie!  I hope you like your present.  It was made for you with love and as a collaboration between your mom and myself.  She wanted to "give you something that was special just for you!"  Thanks sweet girl for being our muse!    

She loved it!
Already hanging on her walls!
Said the template made it so easy!
Enjoying her new wall!  Her sister is jealous and already
planning her own!  

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