Sunday, February 5, 2017

Reinventing Ourselves: What God is Up to Now

Sometimes life throws us curve balls to see how well we can adapt on the fly. I like to think of it as God opening a door we hadn't looked through before, or at least not in a while. Take my artistic talents. I used them through the gardening, but now, well, I am using them in other ways...

Last spring, one of the those curve balls hit me. Or I should say I hit it. Out having some fun on our ATV's, driving along a well known trail, I somehow hit a groove and it sent me flying. Actually about 10 to 12 feet to be exact. Totaled my ATV, but thanks to God, I walked away with a sprained wrist and a few strained muscles. 

That little spill, made me take another look at the gardening business. I had really come to miss my own gardens. During the healing from the accident, I would find myself just putzing here and there. Relaxing. As it should be in the garden. I had missed that. My garden had became another job I needed to keep up with.  

By then I had been doing artwork of various kinds again. And found the more I created, the more I wanted to create! 

That all said, once I was healed, I took on just a few select customers to get back in the groove. Over the years, I totally enjoyed the adventure of the gardening business, the people, the challenges, but by the end of the season... I realized it was time to see what other door God had opened for me via my artistic side.  

The post before this shows some of the wood burning I was getting into a bit ago. I have to say, I am getting so much better! Just like anything else, even if God gives you a gift, you need to do your part to learn from it! 

I so appreciate the garden customers and their time trusting me with their homes landscaping, gardens and just letting me be part of their lives! But now I am meeting new people through the my art work and hopefully making gifts and items they will treasure for a long time.

What's the real point here? For me, it was really listening to what God was telling me. Some days, I am still like, "God, are you sure anyone really wants my work? Am I fooling myself?" Then as always God is faithful! And I'll get a text or an email, or a Facebook Message "Can you make me -----?" Love those notes!

 And who knows, God might change his mind tomorrow, but for today... I am going to focus on this artwork path he has led me down.

I am also hoping to begin writing a bit more in this blog. But I will see. I hadn't planned to write this one! (So yes, I am asking, God, "What are you up too?")

Anyhow, stop on by if you get a chance. And if you want to check out more of my work Follow me on Instagram or Twitter or visit my Facebook group: Designs By Brenda @ On the Right Path. Or check out my Etsy shop.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Keeping It Simple: Winter Wood Burning Hobby Moves to Etsy

In my last post, I gave a little preview of what was keeping me busy in the fall - wood burning, along with painting and designing pallet board signs.

Well, I had so much fun creating new items and enjoying the relaxation of the woodburning... I have decided to keep it going through at least spring!

So for my followers and friends outside my local area, those who are interested can check out my work and products at my new Etsy Storefront!

Many items follow the rustic and woodsy feel. With woodslice wine charms and necklaces, wood burned family and deer plaques, palletwood and cork woodburned I Love Walks signs for pets and more to come.

 In  addition to a variety of designs on memory/gift boxes, I have also just added a functional wood box with wood dividers for tea bags/cups and organization.  I plan to expand on this line soon.

For the grandparents, I have wood burned Grandchildren Display Signs, where you can display pictures and art from a small wire attached to the board.

For the parents, I also carry painted and stained, Look What I Made, display signs with clothespins to display your child's artwork. These can also be personalized,

Or the Masterpiece display sign, wood burned outlined letters filled with colorful primary colors.

If you have a special interest or hobby you are interested in me designing something for, or a are planning a rustic event and need table decor made, please feel free to leave a comment or message me on one of my other social media venues: \On The Right Path LLC Facebook page, Designs by Brenda - Group or Etsy account.

Thanks for taking a look!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Keeping It Simple:Rustic Home Holiday Decor

Hard to believe I wrapped up gardening three weeks ago, and it was
60 degrees here in Michigan today! "Indian Summer" had its last hurrah and upcoming forecast has more seasonable "cold" temps and even the four letter "S" word in it.

So here we are looking at Thanksgiving next week, and then the focus turns to Christmas!

So what's a gardener to do? I love to organize and re-decorate. But my marketing efforts haven't brought in much in that line of work. Though did I mention, I am really good at organizing!? lol.

In the meantime I am putting my create talents to work, -  ah, well, creating!! #Pinterest is a great place for ideas to get started. But be careful, once you get started it is hard to stop!

From pallet* wood signs, and Christmas decor, to wood burned gift boxes with custom made wood slice ornaments.

* Note: Know where you get your pallet wood from. Some of the box stores get shipments from all over the world and the pallet wood can be treated. No one wants treated would in there home. I have been fortunate to find a supply that is locally made and non treated! (If you Googke, pallet safety you will find numerous links with specific info.)

And lucky for me, I found a cool brand-new wood box this summer at a garage sale. I thought for a couple bucks, I would pick one up in case I got bored this winter. (I also took down the peoples name and number, as they said they had a supply to sell. Score!) But instead of waiting til winter, I decided to try my hand at wood burning this fall. Using a nice multi-temp burner I just hadn't used it in a while, I was able to create some professional looking gift boxes.

I paired the boxes with handmade wood slice ornaments and jute string hangers. Using my freehand art and some supplemented black and white clip art, and transfer paper - the boxes and ornaments turned out pretty nice!

A few tips:

Know Your Suppliers:
Remember, when making, or buying craft items. Know what type of wood your using. Treated wood is made to be used outdoors. Know your suppliers source.

Run across a good deal on supplies? Take note of location. Get names and numbers for future contact.

Marketing is key:
Use social media! Facebook is your friend. If you have your own business page utilize that first. Facebook will hide your post every so many, or so it seams, so sharing on your personal page will boost your reach. (BTW, thank you to my friends who are so understanding about this!)

Providing an 'idea' of  use for your products helps buyers see just how 'your product' can be utilized for them!

Keep cost down:
Look through products you have and see how you can incorporate them in your created strategy. The less you have to buy, the more profit you will make. Check out dollar stores for items to dress up your packaging from simple Jute string to cute cellophane bags.

Don't count your time:
I know this one hurts. But art is time consuming. While you are worth every penny, chances are, unless you are well known, you will need to settle for seeing your work utilized and turning a small profit. So when pricing, keep it in check.

Now that I have given my thoughts, wish me luck with my sales! I am trying a local bazaar in a couple of's small, so I may have a lot of new "Christmas Decor" left for my house!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Keeping it Simple: Coastal-Look Propeller Wall Clock

Ever have a creative vision and you have no idea where it came from? 
This was the case of with my Propeller Wall Clock. 
I knew what I wanted, but just wasn't sure how I was going to pull it all together.

Simple How-To steps:

1. Find an old propeller and preparing it for new paint. This was easier than I thought. Thanks to a local marina. I called ask if they had any old ones laying around. They did. And best part, they didn't want anything for it! Once I got it home, I used brake cleaner to wipe off any oil residue it might have and painted it with metallic antique brass spray paint.

2. Finding a clock. This is the key to making it an actual working piece of art.
Using a small clock the size of the center of the prop, just wouldn't work for the location I wanted it to go. Being so high on the wall I needed at least a 9 inch clock to make it visible. I ended up finding one at Menards for $12.

3. Preparing the base. I decided to do a pallet board base to give it the solid base it needed. I laid out the boards, then using an old 16 inch tire rim (to get the size I wanted) and drew around it. After I had the size and we attached to more pallet boards to the back to hold the other boards together. From there we cut the base out. Finally I white washed the boards to give it a weathered look.  

4. Mounting the prop and clockFrom there my husband came up with the idea to run a long bolt through the center of the prop , drilling a hole in the circle pallet board base, then using large washer on the bolt, to hold it all together. We used velcro to hold the clock to the prop, so we can change the battery when needed. 

5. Decorative touch. I used a bit of rope around the base to tie it all together. 

Final cost, less than $20. (The price of clock, velcro and the long bolt and washer.) 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Keeping It Simple: Transforming Wood Box Into Ottoman

Antique boxes have their own appeal. Rustic with an old world feel! I love them. So when I wanted to create another seating and storage option in our Coastal Sunroom I decided to transform one of mine. (Yes, I have a few!)

To Keep It Simple, here are the steps to transform any wooden box into an ottoman.

Turn box over and add casters to each corner of box.

Place casters where you want them, mark holes (pre-drill as old wood can split) then attach casters using screws and drill. Note the screws that came with the casters did go through the interior of my box. I used a dremel grinder to remove excess. Be careful of sparks a with the old wood!
Four 2 inch casters. Cost $15.

Picture left, Box with casters attached. 

I used a sturdy piece of  3/4 inch plywood for the top.
Make sure the wood just covers the  outer wood edge of the box.

To make lip for inside so it doesn't slide off... measure an inch and half inside on all sides. (This is where you will place the wood piece to keep the top from sliding off.)
Cut four pieces to fit. To attach use screws that don't go through to the top, now adhere with drill. (see next picture for layout)

 To cover, add two layers of batting cut just big enough to fold over back side and staple with powered stapler. I use an 18v Ryobi Stapler.
 Then add, fabric. And staple it as batting above. I used an durable awning fabric!

Completed Coastal-look Ottoman! 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Keeping It Simple: Creating Coastal Valances for Almost Nothing

Curtains and valances can be expensive. So why not make them yourself?
Can't sew? No worries.

I made these "Coastal/Nautical Look" valances for almost free!

Finished valances cover the insulated blinds that push up underneath.
With insulated blinds pulled down.

What you need:

  • Faux wood blind slats
    (You know the extra slats you take off of the blinds when they are too long for a window? Yup, those are it. Mine were from Walmart's Better Homes and Garden's Faux Wood Blind collection.)
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Glue Sticks
  • Burlap (or heavy ribbon or rope)
  • Xacto knife
  • Ruler
  • Tape Measure
  • Command  Velcro Strips. I cut these in half length wise to get two out of one. They are the ones that hold 16 lb weight. More than enough for these lightweight valances. 

How to make the valance: 

  • First measure your window (Use inside the casing measurement.)
  • Lay the three slats together to make up the valance

  • Hot glue the burlap over the holes in the slats (the part the string went through)
  • Once you have them together as one piece, measure the height, then cut the end pieces to that length with the Xacto knife.

  • Lay the tape measure down in front of the three slats and center it to the window measurement.
  • Place the shorter slat pieces you cut on each end so the complete the overall width.
  • I put a small mark on the slats where the shorter slats would go to complete the valance.
  • Hot glue the end pieces on to complete the valance.
  • Turn over and place two pieces of the Command Velcro Strips to the back.
  • Adhere to the blind or upper part of window. Whichever is closest to the casing, as you want it to appear flush.
  • Now the valance is complete.
    To wash, just take down wipe off and put it back up!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Keeping It Simple: What Does Your Home's "Curb Appeal" Say?

I still remember driving up to our old farmhouse back in 1996. It was a rainy stormy night and the home was vacant. We moved through the mud and dark, peering in old windows, and ventured around overgrown bushes.

For many, this is not the most appealing way to view a perspective new residence. While we enjoyed the adventure... many prospective homeowners would run away from such a sight!

Whether you are preparing to sell your home, or just moving in to your new home, ask yourself a few questions to see if it could use some improvement.

  • What does the "Curb Appeal" say to guest? 
  • Are the bushes nicely trimmed? 
  • Are the plantings fresh and neat? 
  • Is there a welcoming color or even a freshly stained door?
  • If there is a porch/deck, is it clean and freshly painted or stained?
  • Are there tasteful seasonal decorations near the entrance? 
  • Are there "in season" flowers to brighten up the space and say "I'm cared for"? '

    These are few things, that can make, Curb Appeal, that "Simple." 

For example:
Before: This out of control, "Bad Hair Day" cherry
tree, gives a "I don't care" look to a client's front landscaping. 

After: A simple hair cut, and the cherry tree is now a calm welcoming 
part to the clients, once out of control landscape.

You've no doubt heard the phrase, "First Impressions - Are lasting Impressions." This phrase holds true to homes also. A neglected landscaping, gives the impression that the rest of the home may be in disrepair, lacking cleanliness and charm.

 Trimmed bushes and cleaned up weeds,
and the  view from windows
 is now visible from inside and out.

Another example: Before:
Overgrown hedges hide
the view from these windows.
And make the yard appear un-kept. 

 Bottom line: Take pride in your home's appearance! A clean, well kept appearance will let guest know they are welcome before they come knocking at your front door.

It has taken quite a few years, and much work, to transform our old home into a place we enjoy welcoming guest to take in our vast gardens. For us, it was worth the time, work and sweat equity.

 Still confused, not sure where to start? If you live in my area, give a me call to set up a consult. It may make the difference between a prospective buyer, or guest, feeling welcome to look closer or drop by for a visit!