How to Make a Baseball Seams Stencil Wall

Tippytoes-baseballfinished2Rocket’s room required negotiation. He wanted it painted San Francisco Giants orange, which is…bright. We settled on a toned-down orange and only on two walls to dilute it further or else it would have felt like drowning in orange juice. To get him to negotiate, I offered to paint baseball seams on two walls.

The idea was from Simply Mom, who has better pictures, and more information in her comments on how she did it. Not only am I thankful for that, but for her note in the comments (to paraphrase) that it looks best from a few steps back. If not for her honesty, I would have given up because up close, it looks wobbly, but from a few steps back, it looks awesome. It looks amazing to the eyes of a six year old, which is what matters most to me.

First, the walls were painted Benjamin Moore’s Mountain Peak White. I took a Major League Baseball Rocket got at a Mariners game with me to the paint store to color match. But that’s only because I’m detail oriented. Any white, especially a soft white, would be fine.

Second, we tried to imagine where I’d like the seams at their closest point on the wall. This ended up being about 51 inches from the top right corner of the first wall. The problem was, due to a door and a window, 51 inches didn’t work well on all of the four corners, so we fudged it a little on those sides. We cut a string to the length that would reach our desired farthest point, Kevin held one end of the string in the wall’s corner, while I tied the other around a pencil, pulled the string taut, and lightly drew in the curve. That was the easy part.

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Third, I used a foam brush and leftover paint from our family room (Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter) to paint along the pencil line. Anytime I stopped or slowed, the line wobbled. The thickness of the line varies, and up close, it looked wonky. The variation is somewhat obscured by the red stitches, in the end.

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Pressing on to step four, once the gray line dried, I started at the edge of each curve, then marked off four inch increments. Those would be for the red stitches.

Fifth, once ready to paint red, I cut the end of the foam brush (and wished I’d bought a tiny square brush…) for a blunt end. I painted red from the marked points to create stitches. The stitches are each four inches long, and I’d generally mark a spot four inches on either side of my centered seam spot, so this was almost like a dot-to-dot drawing. Some stitches are good, some are awful, but again, from a few steps back, it’s all good. For the red paint, I bought a 2oz sample of a Benjamin Moore red. (I went into the store to buy Heritage Red, but they were out of the small sample size, so I picked something that looked similar.)

The sixth step should be step back and enjoy, but for me, it meant more work. When I returned after letting things dry, I found this:

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Someone decided to check to see if the paint was still wet…in several spots. When it was found to be wet, what better place to wipe off the paint than the white wall? Or your own sweatpants?

My step six was to touch up the white paint. It took about four coats to cover the red. Then it was finally complete.

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Now he wants me to freehand a giant, black SF on one orange wall. No.

Need Help Meeting Goals for 2013? Make a Vision Board

Creating a vision board makes your goals 96% more likely to be realized. I just made that up, but it feels true, like of form of self-visualization. See it happening, and it will happen. Vision boards are easy to make, even for the highly distracted, like me, and they work as a reminder for your goals and dreams without leaving Post-It reminders around the house. 

When I visited Coca-Cola headquarters a few months back*, we made vision boards, which I'll admit, at first sounded like we were asked to do awkward ice breakers. Trust fall! Then I realized I had been doing a vision board, just less focused, called Pinterest. Pinterest is like a giant, varied vision board, but Coca-Cola was inviting us to determine the most important things in our lives, our goals, our interests, our dreams, and focus on them, then make it visual. When I saw tables of every type of magazine, plus chilled Diet Coke, I was in. 

It was a vision board that look me through the rough parts of the remodel. Now I can see things happening, but months ago, when things were still very rough, and times were even more stressful, I really needed the pictures to help keep me focused on the outcome. Eyes on the prize. I say that all the time to my kids, and while they routinely ignore me, it works. 

Below is my vision board, but I have to say that I got a case of the ADDs during the project and started reading the magazines instead of hunting for items to represent my life. White space as a design tool, was how I explained the gaps to others. Diet Coke, magazines, and no kids was the real reason. 

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Every vision board should include a unicorn, in my opinion. Even more than now, life was focused on the house's construction and design process, and the struggle to balance work, life, maintaining traditions (this was just before Halloween), and having fun with the kids. (The blurred out part in the top included personal information about the house.)

Here it is, on display in the laundry room, amidst the construction:

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Get some magazines, a glue stick, and a poster board and start visualizing your year. When you look back at the end of 2013, where do you want to be? What do you want to accomplish? Find a visual representation of those goals and dreams, put them on paper, and keep it up where it will catch your eye. Diet Coke is optional, but recommended. Unicorns are highly encouraged. 

* I'd written a long post about the trip that was eaten by Typepad, back in October. Because it's gone forever, let's assume it was the best piece of prose ever written and moved all readers to laughter, then tears. Once I get over the loss, I will re-write it. Or part of it. I mean, it's January now, after all. 

How to Send a Birthday Card Love Bomb

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Today is my mom's 70th birthday, which seems downright youthful when expressed in dog years (490). She didn't want a party, which was fine because we threw her a giant 60th birthday ten years ago, where we used up the best theme available for an adult party: margaritas. It was also the party where we let her tell people that I was pregnant, which explained why I sat alone in the kitchen alternatively fighting nausea, then stuffing my face. 

This birthday we needed something different and created a birthday card love bomb. The impetus for the idea came from Jordan Ferney's postcard surprise idea, and while I thought that I could print a photo of my mom on the back of the postcards so that each one contained a section of the print, it didn't make sense. Trying to find the right photo to define 70 years would be next to impossible, plus, it would detract from the message side of the postcard, which is the meat of the project. 

We made a list of 70 friends and family members (excluding my dad, for secrecy reasons), and in late April, mailed them each an addressed and stamped postcard with a note asking them to share a memory, funny story, or birthday wish for my mom, and to mail them between May 4-9.* Her birthday is today, May 10, and the mail range made sure that she got some birthday love each day of the week leading up to the big event. 

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Love bomb directions, ready to go.

We bought 70 size A6 note cards in Blush, 70 A6 envelopes in Strawberry, Strawberry printing paper, ink and 7, 0, and flourish frame stamps, all at Paper Source. We chose postcards because for many people, it can be daunting to look at a large empty piece of paper that needs to be filled. A postcard is short, sweet, and easily filled. After buying postcard and envelope stamps, we were ready to go. 

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I stamped while my youngest sister addressed the postcards to my mom. I wrote up the note explaining how to participate, then stuffed and addressed the envelopes. We didn't tell our dad about it because he's not great at keeping secrets, but it's also hard to secretly get ahold of him as he rarely answers the phone and my mom compulsively checks caller ID. He's also the type of person who keeps his cell phone off until he needs to use it. The fact that people may be trying to reach him is of no concern to my dad. 

Only one person mailed her postcard early, but because it was only one, my mom didn't think anything of it. It wasn't until the second one arrived that she asked where people were finding this 70-stamped stationary. 

Our project cost just under $150, but could be done for less using materials already on hand or from a less expensive craft store. We're happy with the quality and outcome from the materials we used, which, while not cheap, is far less than throwing a party for all 70 friends and family, without any of the post-party clean up.

My mom loved the love bomb. She was touched by the notes, and one cousin even included some prime Giants tickets, making it the best birthday gift ever for my mom.  

*When googling the birthday surprise post, I found a similar adaptation in which the author asked for letters mailed to herself and she presented them to her dad on his birthday. It's another way to try this great idea. 

Make Your Own Lapdesk (Super Easy, I Promise)

When it's not winter, I don't really appreciate my laptop giving me third degree burns on my thighs while I work at night from my cozy chair. Putting something under it would solve the problem, but I wanted my laptop raised too, to make typing easier, which required something thicker than the magazine I'd been using to protect my legs. This started my search for a reasonable lapdesk. I wanted to buy one, but I looked everywhere and could not find the one.

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Soon, I found these directions (downloadable at the bottom of her post), which are truly easy and require minimal sewing. A lot of DIY templates involved screws or building a cup holder, all bells and whistles I did not need. This was straight up cutting, sewing, and hot gluing. I decided to make three: one for me, one for Clover, who is always writing, drawing, or reading, and one for Rocket, who would feel left out otherwise.

The hardest part was getting the wood cut at Home Depot. They'll cut it for free, but tracking down an employee to do it is almost impossible at our local store. I nearly gave up, which is when an employee who is not the usual cutter took pity on me (or felt his life threatened when I trapped him in the pre-fab fence aisle) and cut them without quite knowing what he was doing. The measurements are a little off due to the guy's inexperience, and he used black Sharpie to make his measurement marks, but I got my slab of wood cut into threes, which is what mattered.

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Kevin sanded the edges for me, to make them perfect and to avoid sharp corner pokes. I tried sealing the top of the boards, but it was absorbed by the MDF wood and made it look kind of streaky, so I made that the bottom and used the unfinished side as the top. I went with MDF instead of real wood because of the weight. I held other boards at Home Depot, but they had too much heft for something I wanted on my lap.

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I wanted my pillow part bigger than those used in the directions, so I experimented a little with each one until I got it about right with mine. I may have gone overboard slightly, as the kids make fun of my large pillow. But screw them, because I have full coverage and they don't. I glued the fabric (with sewn corners) to poster board, filled the pillow with bean bag filler (after I debated for days over the merits of foam, Polyfill or bean bag filler until Kevin told me I was over-thinking it), then hot glued it all to the pre-cut board.

It's an easy project and the perfect solution to my problem. The kids love theirs, and they're portable, so they can move them from room to room and potentially even into the car, if I felt remotely okay with pens or Crayons in my car.

Thanksgiving Crafts for Seniors: Turkey Pop

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My mom made these Tootsie Pop turkeys for Thanksgiving, one for each place setting. It made me laugh. I laughed because it looked like something Clover would make and I was surprised that anyone has that much free time when they’re cooking a meal for 25.

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When I noticed she’d even bought Thanksgiving cups, she announced that she’d made them too.

When you give a grandma a glue gun…

UPDATE 2011: I posted this last year because my mom was so proud of her craftiness, even though it looked like something my son would make at preschool. Due to a demand for details, I called her to get directions, but she had just left for the “gym” (a Curves-like place near her house). Once back, she excitedly shared how she made it:

Imitation leaf
Brown Tootsie Pop
“Kissy candy” (Hershey’s Kiss)
two black beads for the eyes
orange felt triangle for the beak
red felt for “whatever that gobbly thing is.”

All glued together.

She asked twice where I posted this photo, and even though I’ve been blogging for over five years, I had to explain it again. Also she said she wished she’d gotten a manicure before the photo was taken and that this year not expect anything so crafty.