Wednesday, March 18, 2009

freshen up your front porch for spring

The sun finally showed up again here in Charlotte yesterday, and so Teddy and I decided to spend some time outside. I worked on freshening up our decidedly bedraggled front porch, and Teddy worked on a popsicle, as well as getting so muddy he had to go right to the shower afterward. But back to the project . . . is your entry letting you down? Put your best foot forward with a fresh look for spring. We bought these pretty encore azaleas and potted them temporarily in our bunny pots (we'll plant them properly very soon!), tossing in some shells and pebbles to set off the pink blossoms. We gave the front door a good scrub (it's been wet and muddy here for days!) and looped a length of easter egg garland into an egg-ish shape, tied with a simple length of tulle, and we were done. This garland is from Pier 1 a few years ago, but Target has a similar product available now online for $20.99. When we were finished, the front porch looked very spring-y and clean, in contrast to Teddy, who just looked like he'd been rolling around in a giant mud puddle!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

make your own unique and fun chalkboard

It's another wet, dreary Sunday in Charlotte, so we thought we'd share another one of our favorite how-tos, in case you're stuck at home on a rainy day and you happen to have a vintage frame, a piece of MDF, and a can of chalkboard paint handy. We like to get really fun frames, and if they're not fun, we paint them a really crazy color, although you can just paint them to go with your kitchen or laundry room or whatever. Once you've got the frame ready, just cut a piece of MDF to fit, and paint it with a few coats of chalkboard paint. If you're feeling really creative, you could put on some magnetic paint first. (Make sure you put a few coats of magnetic paint on, otherwise you'll only be able to attach very small things with very big magnets!!!!) Then, just tack the chalkboard MDF to the frame, and you've got yourself a unique and special message board, way better than anything at Staples! And, bonus, did you know, kids and adults develop better fine motor skills and upper body strength by writing on a vertical surface? . . . true!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

our fergusandme bricksandsticks store, for spring

a peak at fergusandme at Blacklion for spring . . .
we have gone a bit crazy with the waste not paper letterpress flowers and butterflies, but it is quite festive! This is an example of our usual trick of applying high quality individual sheet type wrap to walls with wallpaper paste, or dare I admit it, staples (as here). Only use staples if you're not too neurotic and you're just using the paper under a chair rail or to add pattern behind a big furniture piece, or like, here, you'll change it in a month, anyway! This is a riot of spring, and since we did it, our snowy north carolina March has given way to a more "normal" sunny north carolina March. . .
P.S. a big, crazy pattern like this generally means that worrying about the repeat is something you need not do! Hurray!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Super Saturday recipe: do you have any old squashy bananas?

Do you have any old squashy bananas, too yucky for anything but the bin, you  say?  Don't toss them!  Use them in this time-honored, super easy (I'm typing this without reference to a recipe card!) fergusandme family recipe.  One teenage member of our household who shall remain nameless can eat an entire loaf in one go, and "accidentally" eats the little loaves we make for our neighbors . . . it's that good, so here goes!

Mix in order given:
1/2 cup butter or margarine (we use smart balance sticks), softened in the microwave
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda in 1 tablespoon of hot water
3 mashed or disintegrating bananas
optional 1/2 cup walnuts
pour into oiled loaf pan(s), half full-ish
bake at 350F for approximately 45 minutes
when a fork comes out clean, it's done!
feel free to double the recipe :)

make this for breakfast tomorrow morning!  it's delicious!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

master your mantle, in a few easy steps

IS your mantle a gaping hole in your otherwise inventive decorating?  Does this most focal of focal points stymie your creativity by virtue of its prominence and length? We have a solution, so here goes: first, choose a UNIFIER -- this can be color, here, a sort of sea inspired blue, a loosely arranged theme, or some combination of the two.  We went for a combination -- this mantle works on several subtle levels, since the sea blue of the papier mache deer head (sustainably handmade in Haiti for Stray Dog designs, and available in 16 benjamin moore colors) refers back to the shell frames (target!), the driftwood/barnwood blue frame (Laville Frames of Baton Rouge, Louisiana), the one shell, the sea glassy vintage bottles (see last post on our infatuation with these!), and the vintage clipper ship silhouette.  But wait!  Did you spot the other "link"?  IT's the turf, of surf n turf.  To reinforce and echo the big ol' deer head, there's a collection of kiddo's tiny vintage deer in the center, complemented by an owl she made in art class.  This arrangement is also unified by color -- the colors are limited, complementary, and all evoke the seaside.  We also used shape as a quiet unifier, creating a wave pattern across the mantle with object placement, and repeating the element of the darker square/rectangular photos within lighter frames.   So while a casual glance shows you that this mantle "works," a quick but careful second look makes the why obvious.  Give it a shot: find a common thread among art and objects on your mantle, and remember, the look will be better if it's not too predictable.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

super storage, vintage style

Ever wondered how stylists get those kids' rooms and work spaces in magazines to look so uniquely fun and interesting? Here's a fail safe way to make your space very special -- use vintage lunch pails and boxes, and vintage Ball jars, to hold all kinds of small stuff.  Ball jars are widely available in the U.S. at estate and yard sales, antique shops, and flea markets, and cost between $3 and $12, depending on size and degree of rarity.  We love the blue ones, but clear ones are less expensive.  Lunch pails and boxes are a bit more expensive, but the cool old graphics make them so totally worth it!