Jan 28, 2013

DIY Large Framed Chalkboard

When I saw this wonderful chalkboard below made by Courtney from French Country Cottage for her dining room, I fell in love with it and knew I had to have one, too. Isn't her dining room the most fabulous thing ever?

French Country Cottage

 I would LOVE one this large, but my chalkboard would be leaning against the dining room wall on a high plate rail, so it had to be smaller and light enough for me to easily lift it up and down for changing the design. Last summer I found a large 39" x 33" wood picture frame for $10 at a yard sale that I thought would work perfectly. 

This is my finished dining room chalkboard decked out for Christmas and Valentine's Day. At over three feet tall, it still makes a big statement.

This is how I made it:
I bought a piece of Masonite at Home Depot and had the store cut it to my measurements to fit inside the frame. (Masonite is a very smooth, sturdy, lightweight wood fiber product often used in place of artist canvas.) I just love that Home Depot will cut lumber for me, saving me the time and the hassle of digging out my own saw. 


For the very best tutorial I've found about making your own chalk paint, along with three different recipes, I recommend checking out this post from Diane at In My Own Style.  Or you can purchase ready-made chalk paint at hardware and craft stores.

 I painted the smooth side of the Masonite with an unsanded grout recipe of homemade chalk paint using a foam brush. I made sure to mix the grout with water until it was a very smooth consistency before adding it to my paint. The paint then went on easily and dried very smoothly.

After the first coat dried, I lightly sanded with fine sandpaper and painted a second coat.

 To "cure" the board when dry, I used the broad end of a piece of white chalk to cover the entire surface with chalk then wiped it off with a clean lint-free rag, and it was ready to go.  I used my staple gun to secure the chalkboard into the frame and started thinking about what to write on it. 

I found two tutorials that were a big help with how to get the neat professional-looking artistic results I'd seen all over Pinterest. One is Kristen's Simplified Chalkboard Drawing Tutorial at Ella Claire and the other is Diane's How to Draw Like an Artist on a Chalkboard at In My Own Style.

After I have a quote I like, I use Microsoft Word to fool around with the font, the spacing and centering, and the size. When I have it just right, I print my final choice out on paper for a reference. I use a little math and a yard stick and ruler to make a lot of measurements and guidelines to center my letters both vertically and horizontally. A damp lint-free cloth and cue-tips dunked in water and squeezed out make great erasers.

 I turn on a movie to watch while I'm drawing on my chalkboard, and Tucker keeps me company looking over my shoulder. I think he's curious about what I'm writing. Last Summer, when it was 100 degrees out, I simply scribbled The Dog Days of Summer on my chalkboard. I think he liked that.   

Large chalkboards are an easy and fun DIY project. I hope you'll be inspired to make one of your own. 

Thanks so much for visiting today, and please come again soon!  

Party Hardy with me this week at 


Jan 25, 2013

Winter Candles

I love the soft glow of candlelight, and I usually light the candles on the dining room table for dinner.

Then my husband and I play turn-the-dimmer-switch-on-the-chandelier-up-and-down for a few minutes. Do you play that game at your house? 

My soft "romantic" lighting always wins out over his bright "I can't see my food" lighting.

But I don't rub it in or anything...

I used to be kind-of paranoid about lighting candles in other rooms of the house, though, because I was afraid I'd forget to blow out the candles before leaving the room and wake up in the middle of the night to the house in flames. 

I tried some battery operated flameless tea light candles for my votive candle holders, but I kept forgetting to turn them off. Those little tea light batteries are expensive to replace!

Then two years ago I found some large battery operated pillar candles at Costco that take AA batteries, instead of the more expensive little wristwatch-type batteries. They were made out of real wax with a recessed wick and looked like normal white pillar candles. I had a $5 off coupon, so I bought the package of four candles for $15. Eight AA batteries were included in the package, so it was a really great deal.   

These candles worked two ways: I could turn them on and off manually whenever I wanted, or I could use the optional switch on the bottom that programmed them to automatically turn on every night at the same time and then turn off after five hours.  

So the first night I went around the room at 5:30, which is dusk in my neck of the woods, and turned on all the candles by moving the switch to "timed." Five hours later, at 10:30, just as I was preparing for bed, they all went off by themselves like magic. And the best part was, they turned themselves on and off everyday at the same time all winter long! I didn't have to light them, blow them out, trim wicks, scrape wax off candle holders, or worry about burning down the house.  

The next year I replaced the two AA batteries that came with the candles because the "flames" seemed to be fading a bit. I considered that a very fair price to pay for peace of mind and beautiful flickering (yes, they flicker!) candlelight every night. 

 I loved these candles so much that last fall when Costco stocked them again, I bought four more. Now I have safe and effortless realistic candlelight all around my home. Can you spot five of them here in my living room?

I probably sound like an advertisement, but I have no stake in these candles other than wanting to share how great they are with you. If you're out and about shopping and see some, snap them up. 

I think you'll be happy you did!

Come party with me this week with

Tatertots and Jello
Funky Junk Interiors

Jan 23, 2013

Valentine's Day Chalkboard

Cupid has been sighted at The North End Loft!

He's piercing hearts with love 
and inspiring a Valentine's Day chalkboard! 

Cupid is a free graphic from The Graphics Fairy.

The Graphics Fairy

The swirly romantic font is a free download from dafont.com.



Is cupid on his way to your house?

I hope so!

I'm happy to be sharing this week on:

From My Front Porch to Yours

Jan 21, 2013

Ordering A Blogroll

The blogroll on my blog's sidebar helps me keep track of my
 favorite blogs and share them with my readers. 

We've been in a zero degree deep freeze up here in Boise the
past few days, so I had plenty of time to go down my blogroll 
list and visit every single blog, catching-up on all the wonderful
posts I missed while I've been away the past couple of months.

Tucker enjoyed it, too!

While visiting my favorites, I found lots of fabulous new blogs
to add to my blogroll. But as I watched my list grow longer and
longer, I wondered how I'd ever have the time again to keep up
with them all.  

Happily, I found out I don't have to continue clicking on each
blog in the list to open it and see if I'm up-to-date. I've learned
how to reconfigure my blogroll in blogger to show which blogs
have new posts and how long ago each one was updated,
placing the most recently updated one on top of the list. 

It was as easy as clicking on the little tool icon at the bottom of
my blogroll and changing the following two options:

 So, now that I'm all caught up with my favorite blogs, I can
quickly check the list from the top down each day or so and
visit only those with new posts. 

Easy Peasy!

I hope you'll visit some of the great blogs over on my new orderly blogroll

Thanks so much for stopping by today