Considering Painting a Fireplace


My family room, in a picture taken a few years ago:

Family Room
And a preview (courtesy of Sherwin Williams’ Color Visualizer) of the fireplace in white:

Not a perfect preview, but it’s nice to have an idea how it might look before I paint.

When we bought this house, the first thing I wanted to do was paint this fireplace.  Instead, I painted over the sky blue wall color with this golden yellow called Full Moon.  Suddenly, the brown made sense and I just left it.  But years later, I’m staring at the fireplace again with such an urge to paint it white or cream.  It’s so dark at that end of the room, I think a lighter color would make a huge difference.

Have you painted over brick?  Were you happy with the result?

Paint Your Family

Do-It-Yourself Family

I purchased this little unfinished wooden family from Goose Grease Undone as a Christmas gift for my brother and sister in law’s family.  They’re home schooling, and I thought this would make a creative art project and keepsake to let each of the kids paint their own self portrait.  It will be interesting to see the details the different aged kids see in themselves, and even a messy, multicolored little one would be absolutely adorable.

The kit comes in a wooden box that makes gift giving easy – I added a ribbon and a tag and it was ready to go!

Simple Wrapping

Who knows, maybe one of them will see themselves as a ninja.

Tiny Ninja

(This one is from MooShooPork.  My kids asked for “tiny ninjas” for Christmas.)

“Tell Me a Story” Blocks


Story Blocks

Tell Me a Story blocks are just simple wooden cubes painted with pictures on the sides.  Young children can roll them like dice and tell you a story using the random pictures that end up on top.  Older children can write out their stories for practice with handwriting, sentence structure, paragraph building, story construction (with a clear beginning, middle and conclusion) and so much more!  With the older kids, you get a nice bonus — a story for you to keep.

To make your own set of blocks, you’ll need some plain wooden blocks (available at most craft stores), some fine sandpaper, varnish and paint or paint pens.  First, lightly sand the blocks to remove any rough spots, then sand down the corners a little more if these will be used by young children.  Wipe the blocks down well to remove the sawdust, then apply a coat of varnish to seal the blocks and help keep the paint from bleeding.  Then paint simple pictures on each side of the cubes and cover with a few more coats of varnish.

Try to let the kids decide for themselves what each picture shows.  For instance, I see a red mitten where someone else might see an oven mitt, a boxing glove or even a rooster’s comb.

Story Blocks

Tell Me a Story blocks are a great way to encourage creative writing and story telling.  Maybe when your child outgrows the picture blocks you could make a new, larger set with vocabulary words.

Happy crafting!

My Twitter Luggage


My Twitter Luggage

I get weird ideas sometimes.  I had an urge to buy an old piece of luggage and paint something on it.  I’ve learned to just go with it and see how it turns out.  I found this bag on Etsy for about $25.  (From Mail Order Vintage‘s shop specifically, if you want to search for some good stuff to alter.)  It looks like it’s never been used, so I’m not sure if I should think of it as new or vintage.

Here’s what it looked like when it arrived.  My daughters thought it was hideous, but I kind of like it’s offbeat salmon color.

Vintage Carry On

I originally wanted to paint a quote on it, “Half the fun of travel is the aesthetic of lostness.”  But I got tired even thinking about cutting out a stencil like that, and the textured vinyl bag was going to give me fits trying to keep paint from oozing underneath a stencil.  Lots of curvy letters could be a nightmare!  I decided to keep things simple and cut a Twitter bird body and main section of branch from a piece of Contact paper.  I pressed it down as best I could against the grain of the vinyl.

Can you see it?

Contact Paper Stencil

This just gave me the starting point, which I filled in with brown fabric paint, chosen because it’s flexible when dry.  The rest was freehanded after I carefully peeled off the Contact paper.  Sealed with a little matte varnish, I hope it will be durable.  In the next few months I’ll be traveling to Tennessee, North Carolina and New York, so we’ll see.

My Carry On

I’m happy to give something old a second chance, and happy to have a one-of-a-kind bag that suits me so well!

I Love a Cheap Fix

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When we first moved into our house, a couple things about it irked me.  One was the white tile kitchen countertops with a stripe of smaller dark jade and taupe tiles around the backsplash.  Jade and taupe just weren’t working for me.  My other pet peeve was the plastic switchplates and outlet covers.  Plastic light switch covers scream “bargain bin” to me and I’ve swapped them out in every house I’ve had.

But after moving and having to buy furnishings for a larger house, I just couldn’t justify spending money on new counters or even outlet covers.  Besides, this house has square outlets, round outlets, rockers, dimmers, quads and plain Jane switches – how would I ever find ones I liked that came in all those styles?

I decided the best option was just to work with what I already had.  (Isn’t that almost always the best solution?)  Since switchplates and tiles have a slick surface, I bought Glossies paint, meant for glass.  (Found at for $3.45!)  I used metallic gold on the taupe tiles and metallic copper on the dark jade.  The tiles took two coats each.

Backsplash Tiles

The outlet and switch covers were all done in a mix of the gold and copper, just smooshed on together any which way, then sealed with a coat of shiny varnish for better protection.  If you do this, don’t forget to paint the tops of the screws, too.  If you push the screws into a piece of styrofoam first, it will hold the them while you paint and let them dry safely.

I Painted all my Switchplates an Naht

After nearly six years, my less than $10 worth of crafting has held up very well.  I’m still loving the light switches, but hopeful that someday I’ll have pretty new countertops!  (And yes, I have a bumpy purple wall in my house.)