JTreat: Big Sign

Make a big statement sign with canvases - eggthoughts.wordpress.com

When dreaming up decoration ideas for the Jumping Tandem Retreat, I knew that I wanted to make some sort of huge sign. I had seen this done in various ways, like with marquee letters for a party or a neon sign on stage for a concert tour. But I wanted something easier, different, and cheaper. So I’m sharing my idea in case anyone wants to do something similar!

20150419_171327

So basically what I did was stalk all the Goodwills for used canvases. Several of them I found had tears or other damage- so I got them for a dollar. I wanted a better variety of sizes but settled for what I found.

Each canvas = one letter.

20150419_172631

I painted the canvas whatever color I wanted the letter to be. Then, freehanded the outline of each letter on kraft paper (comes in a roll) and cut it out. I used a few pieces of tape to keep it flat on the canvas, then painted over the whole thing with white.

20150416_073757

There might be a few places where the paint leaks through, but if you sort of paint outward from the paper letter, that helps. If you want you can go back with the original color and fix those spots.

20150416_080432

A picture of my pineapple pj pants, for no reason at all. 

20150416_165012

In progress. At this point I realized the colors were too dark to go with my springy color scheme and I didn’t like the lettering exactly. So I redid some of them. I used up a lot of white paint on this project!

20150419_171335

On some of the letters, I went back over them with a dry foam brush and white paint to make them look distressed and splotchy. I was going to do that for all the letters I think, but apparently I didn’t. Whatever! I was giving up on this big sign idea cause I had no idea what the room looked like and how we would use it. I liked having the canvases layered together more (I thought of using heavy wire to hold the frames together) but in the end the room had a big thumbtack strip so we hung them on those. It worked, I was happy, and it didn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful!

Make a big sign with canvases - eggthoughts.wordpress.com

May so far

20150508_151304

20150505_170452

He thinks I’m a superhero and better than coffee. :) I in turn shared my ice cream with him which says a lot.

20150505_164325

It was such fun to have a visit from Cherry and her lively crew! We got to celebrate her birthday and our 21st friendship anniversary.

20150505_083557

Very early in the morning to be this cheerful, mister.

20150505_164444

20150510_115115

It’s a beautiful thing when every dish is dirty.

20150508_171028

Crashing a pre-fiesta with these two.

20150511_205127

Making a Jurassic themed birthday box for Jacob. Hahahah. Apparently it caused him to become “a bit humid in the vision spheres” (his words), so, that’s a sister win.

JTreat Prettiness & Ambiance

20150501_151449

This spring I had the opportunity to be the creative mastermind (ha, I just now gave myself that title) in charge of decorating for the Jumping Tandem Retreat. JTreat decor. Decor-treat. Trick or treat. What? Am I tired??

20150501_151345

When my friend Deidra asked me to be in charge of “prettyness and ambiance,” I was so excited! Then the months went by and I realized, well, no one was telling me what to do. Which is great, but also, scary. So having no real idea what I was doing, I forged ahead. Until the very day the retreat began, I had never seen that particular retreat center. That’s a first for me, usually I am decorating my own living room or a friend’s house or something, where I know what to expect. This time I was going in blind!

20150501_151446

So yes, I alternated between, “Oh I’ve so got this” and “this will be pitiful.” I had a small budget and lots of time. Not a bad combination. I love to spend the dark winter nights hot gluing things while watching movies. So that’s what I did!

I was majorly inspired by this post by the Flower Patch Farmgirl. She used a heart shaped paper punch to turn her kids’ watercolor artwork into a lovely Valentine’s garland. I made circles instead.

Springtime in Nebraska is unpredictable. It might be beautiful (it was) or it might be dark, rainy, and windy. I decided I wanted to use lots of springy colors, to brighten it up in case the weather was gross. And thus the watercolor festivities began.

20150501_151350

I made garlands, painted signs, and scavenged things like used canvases and random trays from Goodwill.

20150501_151341

This photo will bother Valerie very much, indeed. No it is not centered. (Flashing back to a certain Christmas bows/OCD incident during our dorm days.) Ultimately, I didn’t care as much as perhaps I should have. I made that little garland the day of. As in, since people helped me so much setting up, I had extra time, so I made a few more things on the spot.

20150501_151410

I painted those pennant things one day, didn’t love them, and never did anything futher. But they ended up working so I was glad! In fact, the whole experience was that way. It really blessed me, which sounds weird to say about decorating a room. I got a little glimpse that when I take little steps of faith, and show up with what I have, God works it all together and makes up for what I lack.

20150501_151406

It looked like I measured and planned the exact amount of garland it would take to go all the way around the room. I didn’t. I brought a bunch of tiny command hooks to hang it with, only to discover, the room already had dozens of hooks in the ceiling, as if designed for garlands. So that was easy.

20150501_151503

All along I envisioned a gigantic sign, having no ideas beyond that. I loved our theme, “Grace,” and wanted a big reminder of that! I got some inspiration from Dayspring’s Letterpress blocks, to have a variety of sizes and letters. For the purposes of “cheap” and “very big” I used canvases (mostly from Goodwill- find used ones, paint over them with white, and it’s pretty much just as good as a new canvas) and painted them with colors similar to the watercolors I was using for everything else. Had no idea how to connect or hang them. In fact I had basically given up on it.

Again, the room just “happened” to have a thin strip with thumb tacks all the way around the walls, so we simply hung the canvases in a line, and done! Some of them had small rips and tears and a bumpy texture, which I liked, cause– we aren’t perfect. We don’t have to be perfect to receive grace.

I plan to share more details about a few of the projects I did, in case anyone is in need of ideas!

20150501_151357

Note the kleenex box. They were everywhere, all around the room. This wasn’t my doing but it was my suggestion. Hmmm, it’s like I knew I would be crying a bunch or something!

20150501_151511

One weekend in May, a stark businesslike conference room was transformed into a happy, pretty space. My favorite part was seeing it filled with women, worshiping and speaking and talking and dancing. I got to sit back and be a part of that and be refreshed and learn about grace!

I must end with a BIG round of thank-you’s: To Deidra for your wonderful vision and letting me be a part. To Alexandra for being simply awesome and encouraging. To Alice for being my friend and helping me set up- I don’t know what I would have done without you! To Libby for bringing a stepladder and helping me clean up & tear down and always just being there for me. To a group of ladies I saw only as a blur at the time, thank you for jumping in and arranging the flowers, it made all the difference, you rock! To everyone who attended, I was overwhelmed by your encouragement, which makes me dream and be brave. Thank you.

mother’s day

Mother’s Day isn’t a day for me. It’s a day for moms. A day to honor my mom and say thank you. I totally get that and I think it’s a good thing! mothersday

On Mother’s Day this year, I found myself making breakfast for 7 guests, 2 of them under the age of three. I’ve known some of that group since I was 8 years old, and they’ve known me and seen me grow up. I read books aloud and searched for the paci and answered to “Aunt Frances.” I really enjoy seeing my friends become these awesome moms.

Later I had a big meal surrounded by family- not “my” family- including 4 of my very best friends. Then, I had another meal with my mom and other family, including my aunt who is one of my go-to people and always has my back. There was laughter and hugs and so much food.

During the day I received an email from my dad, saying he had visited one of the older ladies from church, she used to be my AWANA leader. He wanted to pass on that she asked about me, and that she prays for me every day. I know she isn’t the only one. There are my grandmothers and aunts and dear church ladies and the moms of my friends and teachers and coaches and family friends, who pray for me and continue to influence me. There are the authors who have taught me about grace, living life, leaving a legacy.

firstviolinrecitalcaidenleaves2012-07-10_07-39-46_285

wpid-img_20140529_225154.jpg

wpid-IMG_20130713_155946.jpg

I’m thankful.

Yesterday I was reminded that I have been mothered by many wonderful women; only some of them are related to me. And, that children come into my life in many different ways, all the time, needing love. I want to have my heart open and just be available. jamaiica

wpid-img_20140709_213438.jpg217751_1023629944085_1025310488_30094840_3228_n

in the studio

20150501_094906
Here’s where I share what I’ve been up to creatively. Which this week can be summed up as: Nothing!

Because last week was a lot of this
20150501_094946
and this
20150501_094923
and for weeks I’ve been doing things like this
20150426_180023
I’ve let a lot slide in the past few weeks, for instance, laundry. I haven’t put anything away. There are piles of paper, paint brushes, stamp pads, everywhere. And I’m letting it all wait a little longer in favor of going to bed early, finishing my book, or putting my feet up. Giving myself some grace! There has been hard work. (I love it!) Now there needs to be rest. (Learning to love it!)

Whatever I did, it was all absolutely worth it. Still in wonderment over the lovely, encouraging, holy time that was the Jumping Tandem Retreat. I think Deidra was way too trusting with me, but I’m so happy she allowed me to be a part! If you want to read her blog post about the retreat you can find it here. I love this:

“You might not think the gifts you have add up to very much, but don’t be fooled. Do not be fooled. Your gift, combined with all the other gifts, make for some fabulous astoundingness. Seriously. Trust that the Giver of the gift will not let you fall on your face or be embarrassed or fall short of your own expectations. We need you to do your thing. We do.” –Deidra Riggs 

4.27.15: day in the life of a caregiver

20150422_073628

Today felt very “caregiver-ish” from morning till night, so I picked it for another one of my “day in the life” posts. (2014, 2013.) Mostly I enjoy looking back at these later to see how things change from year to year, but maybe you’ll enjoy seeing what one of my little, ordinary days is like!

20150425_104712

I woke up, ate some cereal, and looked up information on my morning client. I took a fill in shift today. It is really handy, we have a system now where I can look up my schedule online. I also get text messages reminding me of my shifts for each day. Modern caregiving! It has saved me more than a few times!

It was a delightful shift. I scrambled an egg, made some toast, and did a few things around the house. Mostly we chatted and found that we knew some of the same people. This woman was elegant and sweet, with a large family of kids, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. We went to the store where I picked up minestrone soup and chocolate chip cookies for her. She told me, “you are so pretty.” We watched The Price is Right and talked through every commercial break. Not a bad Monday morning at all!

Certain characteristics of this particular lady really reminded me of one of my first and longest clients, Miss Trish, who was so special to me. It was just a little uncanny and kept coming back into my mind all day. I miss her! I have met the most remarkable, stylish, charming and intelligent women because of my job, it is wonderful to hear their stories.

20150427_194557

I went out to lunch with the staff of my other job. Then I went back to the home of my morning client, for I discovered her change and receipt still in my purse. It is way too easy to do that especially if you aren’t in your normal routine. Sigh!! Oh well. It was such a beautiful day today, how could I complain about anything?

I worked on campus all afternoon. During that time I got a few calls from my caregiving office asking me about various things. I took another shift for later this week.

When I got home I ate more cereal (my addiction is back in full force) instead of supper and read a book for a while. What I really wanted to do was take a nap (I have been working hard on all sorts of projects lately) but I made myself not do that. I drove to south Omaha to visit one of my former clients who is in a nursing home and on hospice now. Her son is out of town on a trip and he had asked that I stop in a few times. I sat with her for a while and read a few Psalms out loud. Kathy used to be her caregiver too, we visited together yesterday. It helps to not be alone in this. I have experience with hospice and clients dying but it is still hard, of course.

20150427_194620

On my way home I drove around my neighborhood for a bit. The lady I was with this morning used to live in a little brick house quite close to me, until she had her fifth child and they had to move to a bigger home. I was curious if I could find their old house.

Also happening this week: one of my funny and awesome clients turns 90! I love her a bunch. I know her birth date better than my own, she has Alzheimer’s and asks about things like that over and over, all the time. :)

in the studio

20150405_150355

I’ve been working hard lately! Painting.. hot gluing.. using up sharpies left and right. Phrases keep coming to mind, like “underqualified” and “these people must not be in their right minds to leave this up to me!” One thing I like to remember is when I’m doing anything, I’m building upon what I’ve done before. It’s good to be stretched! 20150410_090929

I painted this sign for my friend to use as a wedding decoration. Personally I think it turned out to be quite adorable.

11146187_10152748636546711_6602166312993932176_n

20150405_094916I put in approximately 13 episodes of The West Wing working on these signs for the Easter service at my church. It was a project combining a video where 22 people finished the sentence, “Because He lives…” After the video played, we sang a song and each person stood, holding their answer. It was really awesome to see the whole thing come together!

And of course, I’ve been doing lots of painting at Val’s house! Painting a room by yourself is unimaginable… doing it with friends is definitely the way to go!

20150411_215811

 

what I learned in March

Note: I might have learned some of these things in January or February. Those months are a blur to me so I can’t be sure. 

20150207_122645

The family dog is alive. We thought he was dead: “The poor guy did the old cowdog move and wandered off to die.” Nope, he did the wander-off-just-to-wander-for-days thing. So, that was an emotional roller coaster.

20150312_104803

Whale sounds are mesmerizing. I went through a strange phase where I was listening to nothing else.

It’s a fun time to be a Frances. Jimmy Fallon’s new daughter is named Frances. At the Golden Globes, Amy Poehler spoke these words: “Frances, can I just say, I love you. You’re the only person in this room I would save in a fire.” (She might have been talking to an actress in the crowd. But I took it personally.)

20150319_174653

I won’t always be limited to re-reading Agatha Christie (although I will certainly do so) for good village mysteries. I found a new author and so far have been thrilled. Her books have a small cast of characters and are tricky and psychological and clever. The first one is called Still Life, and my eyes hurt after powering through the last of it in one sitting. I’m working on the third book and so far, so good.

11072913_10100880238941533_3047753343147696299_n

There is a tiny reference to the cinnamon festival in a different episode of Psych that I never caught before. Although I have way too much of that show memorized, there are still dozens of sneaky little jokes and references that catch me off guard! And I love it.

I am a much harder worker than I ever thought before. See: February. I’m capable of great laziness, also. See: that dirty yet empty casserole dish I left covered with a tea towel in the fridge for days, rather than wash it.

I learned how to make pasta carbonara. Thank you, Rachel Ray.

Linking up with Emily and others: Chatting at the Sky.

in the studio

20150320_090513
Here I share what creativity I’ve been up to lately! Lots of paper punching and watercolors. I am scheming and trying different things to decorate for a retreat later this spring.  
20150312_222153

Helping my best friends do some remodeling at their new house. Painting, taking off wallpaper, that sort of thing, which I enjoy doing. Especially when food is involved. Plus it’s just fun to do the work with other people and see the transformation take place! Paint is amazing.

Also it gave me the chance to study a fine tapestry unearthed in the basement:
20150301_155108
Helping decorate for a 1 year old’s birthday party. Notice how although I did have a snack I stayed focused on my work!!
20150227_202057
wpid-img_20150306_221616.jpg
Finally, decoration-making with Kathy while watching an intense spy movie!