Wednesday, May 30, 2012

DIY: Pressed Botanical Art

Like a lot of people, I had the problem of not knowing what to do with a certain big blank wall in our home.  I originally wanted a set of botanical prints to hang there, but I couldn't find any I liked under $200.00 (way out of my price range). Finally, I realized I didn't need to look beyond my own back yard or spend more than $18.00 (all I had to buy were the frames!) to get the look I wanted. In fact, I am so in love with my set of pressed botanicals that I am sure glad I wasn't able to find cheap prints!

Here is how I did it:

Materials Needed:

plants you wish to press
several telephone books
paper towels
white glue
small paint brush
paper (to mount plants on)
picture frames
paint (if you want to paint your frames)

1st-  you need to gather your plants. You can use what grows around your house or maybe collect plant life from meaningful places (i.e., where you got engaged, a favorite hiking trail, etc.).

        Here are the plants I chose from our yard.

Keep in mind that most flowers loose a lot of their color when dried, but can still be beautiful. Also, the thicker the plant is, the longer it needs to be pressed.

Pick more plants than you will need. Not all will work out the way you want or you may not be happy with the color once dried.

2nd- It's time to press!

Gather your phonebooks (I used 3 large phone books and 2 small). Place a paper towel on both pages of an open book. Then, lay the plant in the way you want it to be pressed and gently close the book. You can fit several plants in one phonebook. Just be sure to space them enough apart that the pages of the book are smooth and flat.

When you have finished, leave the phonebooks in a place they won't be disturbed with heavy objects on top (I used several large books).

It's a good idea to check on them after a few days. If the paper towels are damp you should replace them with new towels.

 Pressing may take between 3 days and 3 weeks depending on the plants and your climate. Where I live it is very dry but I waited 3 weeks before removing any of my plants just to be safe.

3rd- Mounting your plants onto paper.

Choose a nice, heavyweight paper for this (I like to use something with texture). Then play around with how to lay out your plants (this may take a while).

When you are happy with how everything looks, it's time to glue. Put a little glue in a bowl and use a small paint brush to apply the glue to the back of the plants. For more delicate flowers it may be easier to use a spray adhesive (I only used white glue because I didn't want to spend the money on the spray). Next, just flip over, lightly press down on the plant, and leave to dry.

4th- All you need to do is frame them and hang them!

I got my frames at Wal-Mart for $3.00 each. They were a very ugly color of oak so I painted them. You could find frames at a dollar store, thrift store, or you may already have some in a closet!

Here is the finished product! 

I had a lot of fun making these and I am so happy with the results! I hope this has inspired you to create your own pressed botanical art!

Monday, May 28, 2012

5 quick and easy steps to a more beautiful kitchen

Maybe I'm just crazy, but clutter makes me anxious. And to me, kitchen clutter is the worst kind. How are we supposed to really cook in here with all this stuff everywhere?!

 We all spend a lot of time in our kitchens, so here are 5 easy changes anyone can do to make that space more enjoyable to be in! I wish I could say I have always followed these guide lines, but I have really only made these changes in the past few years.

#1- Keep dish washing supplies out of sight
There's nothing pretty about an old dish brush, bottle of soap, or dish gloves. So why do we leave it out on the counter all day? There is no need to, so put it away! (rhyme not intended;) 

 I have a sort of "secret compartment" for my dish brush. The false drawer front below the sink is hinged at the bottom so it can be tipped open. It has two little cubbies attached that hold my dish brush, bottle brush, and sink plugs. You certainly don't need a "secret compartment"though. It is as easy as installing a hook or wire basket below the sink to have a handy place to store brushes, sponges, and gloves.

As for the bottle of dish soap, I have eliminated that all together with a built in soap pump. They are cheap , easy to install (depending on the material of your countertops) and very easy to refill. If this is not an option, just put the bottle away when you are done. It really does make all the difference in the world to keep these things out of sight while they are not in use.

#2- Invest in an attractive, reusable soap pump

Unlike a dish brush, hand soap needs to be on your countertop at all times so it should look like it belongs in your kitchen.

 I splurged on this Williams-Sonoma pair of hand soap and lotion. I love the stainless steel caddy and pumps that match my faucet and appliances plus they're yellow(the accent color in my kitchen)! Like I mentioned, they were expensive so (don't tell anyone) I've been refilling the soap with a big bottle of generic lemon soap. The lotion just isn't being used as fast so I haven't had to deal with that (yet). I just love the way they look so for me it was worth it.

A reusable pump normally sold for bathroom use would work perfectly as well.

#3- Don't use your refrigerator as a bulletin board

Well, at least don't use the front of your refrigerator as a bulletin board.

I use the side of mine which is not normally seen (it was a little difficult to get in a position to take this picture).

You could also use the inside of a cupboard door as a place for grocery lists, wedding invitations, and reminders. 

With it clean and clear you will feel like you have a brand new fridge!

#4- Clean your stovetop everyday

This one is so simple but often times gets overlooked. As you are wiping down your countertops just wipe down your stovetop as well. It takes less than a minute when done regularly. Occasionally (like once every few months) I  use spray on oven cleaner to get the cooked-on greasy grime off, but I try not to use it too often because of the fumes. 

#5- Keep contents of glass-door cupboards neat and neutral in color

Glass-door cupboards put things on display. Don't fill them with sippy cups and mismatched mugs. Instead, fill them with pretty china and glassware.

 I like to keep the dishes in mine mostly white or clear glass with a couple pops of color here and there. Keeping the colors neutral helps it appear less cluttered. 

These are all things that work for our family and they may not be perfect for everyone.

Do you have any simple tips you use to keep your kitchen looking it's best?