camping out

bedsheet tent in the living roomDuring the last few weeks Lovey and I have crossed paths as we pass between classes and jobs, caught quick dinners together (most nights), then parted again for the rest of each evening.  It’s no fun living that way, even when we know it’s temporary.  So we scheduled a date night.

Lovey in the tent setting up the laptop

I mentioned the harebrained idea of building a tent in the living room, thinking he wouldn’t go for it, only to come home after a long workday and find him in the midst of building this bedsheet palace.

candles on the outside of the tent!

I added my decorative touches, though no flames were allowed under the canopy.  (Good call, Babe.)  We sprawled on our couch cushions and every other extra pillow and blanket we could find and settled in for an evening of Chinese takeout, Modern Family, and Castle.

candles on the outside of the tent!

I don’t know if you can tell how tired we are in this photo, but to me the half-smiles are evidence of exhaustion.  Our cozy evening of doing Nothing was really Something.  Something we needed.  Something to remember (with a much bigger smile).  Something that brought us together for a few hours in the middle of some crazy days.  I’d live in a tent with this guy for forever.

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D.I.Y. wardrobe color guide

In the hilariously-dated fashion guide Color Me Beautiful, the author asserts that every woman looks her best in a range of about thirty colors. You assess your hair, eye, and skin colors to determine which “season” is right for you. Well, I found thirty colors a bit much, and I didn’t feel like I could fully commit to any of the palettes.

paint-chip fashion color swatches a la Color Me Beautiful

Instead of sending in a request for a set of swatches to help me shop my season, I took a little trip to the home improvement store and made my own swatches from paint chips.  I chose twelve colors I actually wear, with navy standing in for denim and that pale green standing in for olive pants I hope to find soon!

Now I can tuck this little set in my purse and make sure, as I shop, that the purchases I’m considering will work well with what I already own.  How do you stay focused when you’re surrounded by pretty things that may or may not work for you?  I’d love to hear your shopping secrets!

kitchen gallery wall

You’ve heard of a galley kitchen (right?), but what about a gallery kitchen?  I decided that was what I needed.

kitchen gallery wall template creation on the living room floor

I’ve been pondering how to treat this oddly-allocated space on the one free kitchen wall.  Jutting in a little or a lot were: cupboards on both sides, but of differing sizes; a refrigerator; a microwave; and a counter trim piece.  Everything I tried there looked weird.  But brown paper…man, brown paper was the look I had been going for.

kitchen gallery wall template hung

Just kidding!  The brown paper-and-packing-tape monstrosity was my template.  I measured the wall, including the intrusions of the above-mentioned appliances and fixtures, then cut brown paper to that size and shape.  Then I arranged my frames this way and that until I had a layout I liked.  I traced the frames, marked where the nail holes should go, then hung the template on the wall and studded it with nails.

kitchen gallery wall template with adjustments marked

I had to adjust on the fly because I skewed my template a little too far to the left at first–me and arithmetic.  It’s pathetic, really.  I just cut out the parts of the pattern that ended up in places I didn’t want them and moved them to places they’d fit.  After ripping the paper off the wall, I had a constellation of nails just waiting for frames to hang from them.  So I hung frames from them.

kitchen gallery wall, first instance

That was on a Friday.  It wasn’t until Sunday that I had time to think about how I wanted to fill those frames.  One thing I noticed immediately after hanging my gallery wall was that I was going to have to work extra hard at keeping the rest of the kitchen spic and span!  For me:

busy art wall + dirty dishes + a fridge hung with menu/coupons = mental chaos!!!*

(*That’s the kind of arithmetic I understand.)

So the menu/coupon thing had to go.  Not shown in the above photo are the cookbooks I had piled on top of the fridge.  Those had to go too.  They’re on the shelf in the dining room for now.  As for the paper clutter, I figured I’d just move it to a cork board that I could incorporate into the gallery design.  I took an 8×10 frame, replaced the picture with cork, used the glass as a firm backing instead of a covering, and was ready to call it a day.

photo frame bulletin board: backing, glass, cork, frame

One problem: the cork is super-thin, meant to heal thumbtack holes but not meant to support the thumbtacks themselves.  I had to get rid of the glass–I put it in the box where I store not-in-use frames–and swap in a couple pieces of corrugated cardboard from our recycling bin.  They worked just fine for something the tacks could sink into.

Next I gathered some color-coordinated images for the rest of the frames.  The bluebird is one of my favorites.  He comes with a speech bubble that says, “I prefer the sweet stuff.”  Don’t we all, little guy?   On the notepad you can see my very mathematical schematic of which frames needed which kind of picture.  Orange was for vertical 4x6s; blue was for 8x10s (all horizontal); and green was for horizontal 4x6s.

images for kitchen gallery wall: bluebird cutout and dotty stationery with gallery map

The main colors I wanted were blue and green.  Of course I couldn’t resist liberal doses of yellow, and pink naturally made its way in via text, polka dots, and GramE’s T-shirt (below):

horizontal 4x6 photos

I didn’t have nearly as many 8x10s lying around as I had 4x6s, so I decided to put some small photos in large frames.  That means some of them still need backing.  Anything swimming on a field of gray is waiting for me to take a trip to the craft store for scrapbook paper to fill the void.

kitchen gallery wall, first instance

Other than that the wall is complete.  I’m so happy with it!  After the gallery wall in our last apartment’s dining room…

second apartment dining room gallery wall

…I thought I was finished with such art arrangements forever: they can be overwhelming.  The problem before was that I used all different colors and styles of frames and there was no “rule” for the art.  Now all the frames are black or silver (with one rogue ivory one in the middle) and all the art plays from one four-color palette (blue, green, yellow, pink).  I think this one’s a keeper.  As long as I remember to do the dishes I won’t go crazy.  I think.