fabric-covered pegboards, oh my!

I am so excited!  My office walls (well, one of them) finally received some love and attention.  In truth, this post could be alternatively-titled, “Fabric Projects for when your Sewing Machine is in the Shop.”  Because sometimes, machines need a little tuning here and there, and during those [excruciatingly] idle days and weeks, hands like mine get antsy and need to work with fabric.

I wanted a place in my already-technicolored office/studio to, you know, hang things. (before/after pictures of the whole office coming soon, when it is complete-for-now)   Mostly I wanted to hang pictures and some inspiring notions right above my ironing board where I find myself standing, quite often, staring at a blank, blue wall.  While surfing around on Pinterest, I found this easy tutorial for making multiple fabric-covered cork boards.  The author of the tutorial suggests using old, dirty cork boards which would have worked just great if I’d had any laying around or if I’d had the patience to find some at a garage sale, but my nesting enthusiasm got the better of me and I headed to Target and got what I needed.  I’ll give you a quick walk-thru — this project was SO easy and is enormously satisfying.  Now my wall is covered in my two favorite things: fabric and friends.  What could make me happier?

So, you get your hands on some cork boards and then pick your fabrics among your stash and press them.  I made all different sizes, so even some little scraps of fabric will work.  Lay your cork boards on a cutting mat and use a rotary cutter (and your quilting rulers) to cut them into different shapes.

Cut your fabric with your rotary cutter and quilting rulers too — it doesn’t need to be perfect (like if you were making a quilt) but it should be about an inch and a half larger on all four sides than your cork board piece.

This part is almost like wrapping a present.  Apply your glue (I used Elmer’s) to your corners, and adhere all four.

Then apply glue to the sides and adhere all four.

Easy does it — you are done!  Make a bunch!  I let mine dry overnight with the glued side facing up.

Now, you are facing your empty wall that is begging for some artwork.

I started with a few of my larger pieces first.  Oh, I forgot to mention that my cork boards from Target came with some double-sided adhesive tape stickers, so I applied 3-4 of those to the back of each board, and then eyeballed where I wanted them.

With some foundational pieces up first, I just placed the rest of the boards one at a time until I had used them all, ending with a cornucopia of color!

Cute, huh?

And here they are up close.  For a week, I left them like this, and enjoyed just the beauty of the fabrics, but then decided it was time to put them to their originally-intended use.

And here they are — adorned with my favorite people and other ideas and projects that I’m excited about right now.  And alas, my office/studio is alive with color, warmth, and meaning.




playspace: before, before, and after

This old house of ours has a few sweet nooks and crannies.  One of the big selling points for me was the little porch-turned-sunroom just off the kitchen with a door to the backyard.  It was a big selling point, though the space is not big at all — just shy of 7 feet by 9 feet.  The previous owner used it as an additional eating area (the two photos to follow are of my initial walk-thru of the house), which is a sweet idea, but when I saw it, I immediately thought, “what a fun little playroom this could be.”

Before Playroom 1

Before Playroom 2

When we moved in, this room was painted a very light shady of buttery yellow, and, it being a small doable space, it was the first room we painted our own shade of sunshine — a much stronger, orangey yellow — Benjamin Moore’s aptly titled color, “American Cheese.”

We moved Orlis’ toys in there, along with some other furniture,  and the room became a bit hodge podge.  For some reason, I was reluctant to let go of a few old pieces of furniture — a dish cupboard and a vintage table with chairs, which made the room, in theory, multi-functional, but in reality, not really functional at all.  This embarrassing photo, for example, shows how inaccessible all of the art supplies were to little Orlis.

The 2nd Before, Playroom

The 2nd Before, Playroom

I needed to be honest with myself and do the hard work of letting go.  Enter: the wonderful online  Playful Learning class I’ve been taking this summer that I blogged about a few weeks ago in reference to our new living room  Science Station.   The genius of this class is that, in regards to setting up useful play spaces for children, where there’s a “problem” the teacher helps you see possibility.  And boy does the class help you appreciate small spaces.  With the exception of purchasing a few little Ikea shelving pieces, most of what I used to transform this room I already had laying around the house.  I learned that all I really needed to do was group things together, label them, and get them down at eye level.  That is, 2-foot eye level.  I started to see that once I paired things down, got simple materials organized together, and made them accessible to Orlis, he would be able to play more independently.  

A bit of shelving, a few hooks, hammer, and nails, several unmatched baskets, and an hour or two of pulling it all together, and here it is.

After! Playroom

So, a little tour:  The garland I made a few years ago at a Craft Night.   There’s a very easy tutorial on the Purl Bee.  The little brown shelving area houses many of Orlis’ non-art toys — dolls, little gadgets, a tool set, and some stackers.  I envision rotating these quite a bit and really appreciate the size allotted.  It’s a perfect amount of toys.

On the other side of the room, I was excited to create another space where we could easily rotate child artwork for display and wanted something different than what we have in our entryway.    I revisited the same article that gave me the framing idea and found this somewhat-intimidating-but-actually-easy-to-install cable system.   It sits just above a 4-compartment shelving unit that fit all of our large art supplies: paper, paint supplies, collage materials, and the most beloved clay.

I used some old jars, coffee mugs, small metal kitchen prep bowls, and a wooden caddy I had to organize all of the small stuff — beads, pipe cleaners, different kinds of crayons, cotton balls and wooden sticks, chalk, and markers.  Orlis is still too young to have open access to scissors and glue, but we’ll be able to fit those things in here too when I’m feeling confident and ready for more mess.

Most of the baskets I found around the house, and once I let go of needing them to look uniform, it was easy as pie to fill in the gaps from what I saw at garage sales and Ikea.  I can’t remember where I saw the adorable idea to use old paint chips as labels, but I have enough paint chips to fill a paint chip display counter, and thus decided to use it.  (My apologies for lacking an appropriate link and credit here.)


The play kitchen was here from the get-go, but now gets more use as the room feels more inviting and child-centered.

As soon as I finished the room, I let my little monkey loose in there and it was as if he knew exactly where to go — as if he’d been in this room before and knew it well.  He went straight for the shelving unit, and discovered the basket of clay and started pulling things out.

Then he indicated where I should sit down.

And so we play.  Just as we always have, but somehow, in this little room that fits us so well right now, playing feels a little more magical — almost like entering a different time zone, or maybe it’s a different mindset.  In this space, there is only one thing to do: get down to the important business of playing, and the space not only reflects that, but invites it too.

As much as I love the colors and as much as the organization appeals to me aesthetically, what is profound to me about the changes is how effective they are in making play more, well, playful — easier, more accessible, and more creative.  Now, with little prompting, Orlis puts things back in their baskets when he’s done playing with them.  He knows what his options are, and he’s innovative in combining toys and making his own games.  It’s just amazing the effect that a space has.




big day for the blog

Notice anything different?

There are few things I enjoy more than befores/afters — of almost anything, but especially of rooms made-over.  As you may have noticed,  I do appreciate a fresh coat of paint, a bit of wallpaper, a re-purposed piece of furniture, some fresh art on the walls.  I also love a good system — baskets, hooks, like things together — anything to create a little order.  A good friend of mine recently sent me before/after photos of her re-organized laundry room and I was salivating.

The superficial changes of a space enthrall me, but I also love the layer deeper — that is, the idea that a space has become more usable, more liveable.  That a fresh tone may have been set by a new color or a nod to feng shui.

And thus, I bring you 2 transformations today. The 1st is a quick before and after of a corner of my home.  Of all the work we’ve done on the house, this space underwent the largest transformation.  It was outdated and stifling — a passageway I wanted to run through just to get out of it and into something more pleasing.   Brace yourself now for one of the ugliest photos you will ever see on this blog:

With a coat of paint, a couple of rugs, and some quilts on the wall it has become a bonus playspace — one of my favorite places in the whole house to be.

Ah, let’s all take a collective breath of fresh air.

And with that, I bring you transformation #2.

This ole’ blog of mine was starting to feel a little outdated — not horrible, but certainly not being all she could be.  Here’s the Before:

…and all around you today, you see the After.

So, would you like to take a brief tour?  Here are a few of my favorite new features:

1. I’d like to direct your attention first over to the right hand margin here: ————————————————————————————–>

Worried you’ll miss a good post?  Worry no longer.  At the top of the page you’ll see it’s a whole lot easier to SUBSCRIBE to the Treelife blog  You can get updates via email, or if you are more technically-inclined, via RSS.  In other words, you don’t have to miss anything. Just subscribe and you’ll always know when the posts go up!  (And, I promise not to share your email address with anyone else…or to email you incessantly.)

2.  Wondering about how to work with me?  Wonder no longer.  You’ll see just below the Subscribe options that the easy link to the main Treelife site — via the button, WORK WITH ME.  If you go to my main site, there’s loads of information about my work as a ceremony officiant, workshops, and one-on-one coaching.

3.  Looking for some inspiration?  Again, look no further than right over here ————————————————————————————->

I’ll keep this little area updated with the books that are currently inspiring me, including the ones I’m cooking with and reading to my toddler.  If you click on the links, it will take you directly to Powell’s Books online where you can purchase books.

4. Which brings me to my very favorite of the updates here on the Treelife blog: the Bookshop!  The easiest way to enter my bookshop is by clicking on BOOKSHOP in the menu above, just below the photo of me.  There are lots of bookshelves I have loaded up with books that I’ve found inspiring  — on topics ranging from sewing to parenting to creating rituals and ceremonies.  Powell’s books is a wonderful, locally-owned company operated by good people who use many sustainable and fair-trade practices, so if you are going to shop online, it’s a great place to do it.  *Buying books via the Treelife blog (any book, not just the ones I link to) benefits both Treelife and Powell’s, not to mention your edification, so it’s a triple win.  Plus, they ship for free if you spend over $50. So, once you enter through my blog, feel free to shop with the browser and buy any book under the sun.*

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and finally, 7.  Seeking an opportunity to Sponser the Treelife Blog?  You are in luck.  I love playing matchmaker between businesses I want to support and my wonderful readers.  Ad space is now available on the Treelife Blog.  Go to the Contact page above for more information.


As for Afters, I think we are through.  Please feel free to comment on this (and any) post and let me know what you think of the new look and usability!  I’d love to hear from you.