February 28, 2012

Some of My Favorite Before & Afters

Posted by Laura

I'm a sucker for before and after photos - not [always] the process, just the photos. I wanted to share with you some of my favorite before and after photos from the world wide web that I've bookmarked, pinned,  and printed over the years. These photos always make me giddy, no matter how many times I look at them.

First up, a beauty of a lamp from 33 Shades of Green. The weird thing is, is that my own lamp project looks incredibly similar to this one. It must have been one of those thing buried deep in my subconscious because I totally felt like I came up with my lamp redo on my own. Ha!



The next two b&a's are from the Petersiks over at Young House Love. They have completely changed my view of the standard 1950s ranch. The first set of pictures show their master bathroom. I love the colors but most of all I love what they did with the awkward window-above-sink situation. More details here.


Here is the Petersiks' living room, and perhaps the most striking living room makeover in the history of living room makeovers (more photos of their first house here).


The next before and after always makes me house-envy. This is a master bedroom redo from Layla at The Lettered Cottage. I love the mirrors and hardware on the doors. I love the wall. I love the floors. I love the airiness. More details here.


And finally, the dresser from Salvage Savvy that never ceases to amaze me. The total cost of this dresser [after the redo] was $20! More details here.

February 26, 2012

The Hartford Denim Company

By Kristin

Its very rare these days that we purchase things, particularly clothes, that are made in the U.S., let alone within fifty miles of where we call home. While I don’t own a pair of jeans made by these guys, the Hartford Denim Company is definitely worth a visit- in person or on the web. I first read about them in this article and then heard even more good things from a friend that owns a pair of their jeans.

Their New Englander Jeans. via

Started by three young entrepreneurs who value items being made on American soil, they set up shop in an old manufacturing warehouse in downtown Hartford. The last major action this warehouse saw was manufacturing pay phones before it transitioned into an office space with wall to wall carpeting. When the Denim boys moved in, they tore up the carpeting, knocked down the walls and left the space in its rough, exposed state.

Working hard by hand. via

Each material that they work with tells a story, from the high-quality denim made in North Carolina to the buttons made out of old pennies. 

Pennies as buttons. via

They sew their jeans on old industrial Singer machines and use well worn hand tools to install the rivets and buttons. 

Singers last forever apparently. I guess the old adage is true:
things just aren't made the way they used to be. via



Along with everything being sourced within the U.S., they also offer a life time guarantee for their jeans. If your jeans do encounter some major wear and tear, just stop by to have them repaired for free. One of my favorite touches is the leather patch in the shape of Connecticut sewn onto the back of each pair of jeans.

You'll never forget where they were made. via

I especially love their super cute and functional denim bags. 


This one really strikes my fancy. via.

Check them out if your ever in the Hartford area.

February 24, 2012

Forks Over Knives

Posted by Laura

It's been one of those weeks.

Do you ever have a moment when you question if your brain is actually working? I've had a few of those moments recently. For example, the other night while sitting on our couch I noticed that our Christmas stockings are still hanging on the bookshelf. It's the end of February. The stockings are not there due to lack of taking down Christmas decor yet - oh no, that would be too easy. The stockings are still there because I had not noticed them, until now. I spend time in our living room nearly 365 days/year and I have not noticed the stockings. Who knows, maybe they're still up from Christmas 2010. Brain? Are you with me?

February 20th. 57 days after Christmas.

Another example of "Brain? Are you with me?" is the fact that once again, last week, I drove with my e-brake up. I have been driving a stick-shift my entire driving-life (I'm 28 years old and got my learner's permit at 15 so that makes 13 years). 13 years I have been driving a stick-shift and have never left my e-brake up when driving. For some reason, in the past 5(ish) months, I have driven with my e-brake up about 7 times at the cost of my [loving and patient] husband replacing it and the smell of burning metal/rubber occupying my nose. Brain? Are you with me?

I blame Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera

And finally, the point of this post was to talk about a recently-released documentary about the effects of animal products on our bodies, called Forks Over Knives. However, I got distracted with "Brain? Are you with me?" Here's why...after watching this documentary (which is fabulous, by the way) I have developed a completely irrational fear of become diabetic and developing heart disease at the ripe old age of 28 because I eat meat and dairy. The following statement actually came out of my mouth after watching this documentary: "Caleb, I think my 'triglyceroide' is acting up". What the heck is a triglyceroide? Exactly!

After a reality check from Caleb, I was able to fetch my brain and think a little clearer (just tried to draw a picture of me chasing my brain but I can't seem to get past stick figures). This documentary is really great and I recommend everyone watch it. I am lucky enough that I have always had a clean bill of health (with the exception of seasonal colds) and live a medication-free life. I attribute this to a [mostly] healthy diet, [some] exercise, and a childhood packed with nutrition.

Can I improve my already-healthy-state-of-health? Absolutely. Caleb and I have been talking for awhile about eating meat-free one day/week. After watching this documentary, we have learned that the proteins in animal products (not just meat, but dairy too) can overload one's body and create bad things like heart disease and cancer. Eek!

Are we going 100% vegan? Definitely Not. Are we going to try and cut back on animal products? Yes.

Our compromise: One day/week we are going to eat vegan. This means adjusting our grocery list and learning new recipes (I've already started a pinterest board). It should be interesting and we're going to do this loosely (as in, if we don't do it exactly one day/week it's okay). What have we got to lose?

Brain? Are you with me? Yes!

UPDATE: I successfully completed my first week. Click here for details.

February 22, 2012

Ross Insurance Guest Post: Renter's Bathroom Redo

Contest Winner: The winner of our Hello!Lucky letterpress giveaway is...Lauren! Lauren has a special place in her heart for letterpress and now she can have her very own set of thank you cards. Lauren, please email planteatcreate@gmail.com with your mailing address by the end of the week.

Posted by Kristin

Some fun news for our readers- PEC was featured over at Ross Insurance's blog yesterday! We love hooking up with local businesses and bloggers and were delighted when Marissa of Ross Insurance asked us to do some guest posts for their blog. Yesterday we covering how I transformed my renter's bathroom from blah and boring to a lovely loo. Check out the full post here.

Here's a sneak peak at some of the afters...

Come join us!

February 20, 2012

How To: Make a Stenciled Pillow

Don't miss out on our giveaway, it's still open!

By Kristin

Long post alert! Yes, its very long and detailed but worth it! 

Whatever will this become? Keep on reading...

Recently I decided to make some pillows as a gift for my mom. But these weren't just any pillows. Nope- no simple, fabric-covered pillows here. I'm talking handmade burlap and plaid slipcovers with images meaningful to my mom: one pillow had a moose and one had a "G" on it (her last name starts with g). Enter Microsoft Word, Google Images, Adobe InDesign, contact paper, and a steady hand with an exacto knife.

When following the directions below, there are basically three major steps to it: making a stencil, stenciling the fabric, and assembling the slip covers. Now hang onto your hats cause here we go!

1. Get the pillows
I wanted to make slipcovers for the pillows so that my mom could easily wash them. Therefore, I could get whatever pillows I wanted (and whatever ones were the cheapest) since they would be covered up by the fabric. I found these light green pillows for $2 each. Not exactly my style (or my mom's) but again, looks didn't matter.

2. Pick out slipcover fabric
I decided that I wanted burlap to be the front of the slipcover with stencil on it. For anyone that has ever worked with burlap, part of the appeal is the texture. However, this texture also means that you can see right through the fabric. To combat this peek-a-boo characteristic, I decided to line the inside of the burlap with plain white cotton that I already had on hand. Burlap can also be a little rough and not very soft on the face  so I used a soft cotton plaid for the back of the slipcover (what good is a pillow if you can't use it while napping?). If a nap was needed, the napper could just flip the pillow over and drift off to happy land. I found this red and green plaid fabric at Joanne Fabrics.

3. Measure and cut slipcover fabric
Once I had my fabric, I measured the width of the pillow.

Then, I added six inches to that measurement (3 inches for each side of the pillow) , and cut the specific dimensions out of the burlap and white cotton. For example, if the pillow was 20 inches across, I measured out a square 26 inches by 26 inches to allow for hemming. Its important to note that for the type of pocket slipcover I made, I left approximately 5 extra inches on each side of the plaid fabric, instead of just 3. It'll become clear as to why I did this in step 5.

4. Create your stencil and paint the fabric
This is where creativity was a must. First, I Googled "moose" and saved a black and white image as a jpeg. Next, I opened the jpeg in Indesign (any graphic design program would work), re-sized it so it would roughly fill up an 8 x 11 inch piece of paper, and printed it off.

Then, I cut out an 8 x 11 inch square of clear contact paper and taped it to a plastic cutting board. I taped the print out of the moose over the contact paper.

Going slowly and carefully,I cut out the moose using an exacto knife. Here's what it looks like mid cut. You can see the moose leg starting to curl up where its been cut.

And here's the moose stencil all cut out, or more accurately, the square of contact paper with the moose cut out of the center. 

Next, I centered the moose stencil over my burlap fabric, peeled away the backing so it stuck to the burlap, and firmly pressed down all the inner edges of the stencil. Once this was done, I began applying black fabric paint (also from Joanne's. $0.50 for a small bottle) with a small foam brush. I made sure to apply an even and thick coat and covered every inch of the open part of the stencil. It won't look like much at this point but just have faith.

Then, I pulled out the big guns, aka my hair dryer. I dried the paint for a good 5 minutes and did a finger test to make sure it was thoroughly dry. Once it was, I slowly peeled back the stencil and did a happy dance once I saw it had worked.

I followed this exact same process to make a "G" stencil and stenciled it onto the second square of burlap. Then I hung the fabric to let it thoroughly dry for a few more hours while I began assembling the slip covers.

5. Assemble the slip cover
In order to make a pocket slipcover, the plaid back fabric had to overlap a bit so the pillow wouldn't easily come out. I cut each plaid square in half and hemmed one side of each half. These hemmed sides would be the exposed edges of the pocket on the back side of the pillow. Its the part where the pillow would be pulled in and out (hence needing a finished edge).

Then, I started to assemble the covers. I assembled the burlap and white cotton fabric by laying the cotton fabric on top of the burlap (good side of the burlap facing away from me), sewed around all four edges, and trimmed any excess fabric.

Next I laid down the two halves of the plaid fabric with the good side facing up (making sure they overlapped in the middle by a few inches) and placed the burlap/cotton square on top of it (stenciled side of the burlap facing down towards the plaid).

I pinned it all together, sewed all four sides, and trimmed off any excess fabric from the edges. Then I turned it inside out (really right side out) and had a complete slipcover: the stenciled burlap was on the front backed by white cotton while the two plaid halves formed the back with an opening in the middle to insert the pillow.

Here's the finished pillows:

Here's a shot of the back. Hopefully you can tell where the two halves of the plaid fabric overlap to form a pocket for the pillow to go into.

Its pretty clear that this was a lot of steps from start to finish but to be honest, this project probably took about 2 hours total. Not bad for custom made pillows that only cost about $8 to make (I only had to buy the plaid fabric, pillows, and fabric paint). Just think of the possibilities! I was so inspired that I then made another pillow for my sister Catie out of some leftover fabric. A different take on the same concept.

Have you guys ever done fabric stencils before? What method did you use?

February 18, 2012

Giveaway: Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Thanks

**This contest is closed**
winner announced here

Posted by Laura

We just wanted to say a gigantic THANKS to all of...guess who...YOU! You rock and your interest in our blog has inspired us to continue blogging (which really means doing the things we love and loving the things we do). What better way to say Thank You than a free set of thank you cards?

Our giveaway comes from the beautiful and talented ladies over at Hello!Lucky (more on them below) and includes a set of 6 Many Thanks letterpress printed cards and matching envelopes. All you have to do is comment on this post before February 21st, 2012 9:00pm EST and you could be the lucky winner of these beauties. Visit our giveaway FAQs page for any questions.

I first discovered Hello!Lucky in 2007 as I was flipping through The Nest. I was immediately drawn to Sabrina's style and spontaneously bought her and Eunice's book, Handmade Hellos. This was the start of a creative explosion for me which eventually lead me to the blogosphere (and eventually this blog). For me, Hello!Lucky is like that professor in college that had a silently strong impact on you - so you can only imagine how excited I am to now be featuring their work on our blog!

Eunice and Sabrina Moyle

From their site:
Sisters and best friends Eunice and Sabrina Moyle co-founded Hello!Lucky in 2003 with a vintage Vandercook press in Eunice's garage. Sabrina, our CEO, had always wanted to own a creative business. After graduating from Stanford Business School, she teamed up with her sister and is the business brains behind Hello!Lucky. Eunice, our creative director, is a talented illustrator who had been designing cards, invitations and announcements for friends. On a whim, she sent some of her cards to Kate's Paperie in New York City in 2003, and they immediately placed an order. Hello!Lucky was in business!

Terms (please visit our giveaway FAQs page for questions):
  • PRIZE : 1 set of 6 Many Thanks cards
  • DESCRIPTION: Letterpress printed cards and matching envelopes
  • TO ENTER : Leave a comment on this post (not our facebook page) telling us what you are thankful for. One entry per person. Winner is chosen at random.
  • Prize ships to the 50 states 
  • Contest closes February 21st, 2012 at 9:00pm EST. The winner will be chosen by drawing a name from a hat and announced in a 02/22/12 blog post. You must email us with your mailing address within one week of the announcement, or we'll move on to the next name. One winner per contest. 
  • Remember, your comment must be on the blog, not our facebook page. Good Luck!

    February 16, 2012

    Before and After: Fun and Funky Entryway

    Posted by Kristin

    So it may feel like I mentioned moving into our new apartment ten years ago but surprisingly its only been about 5 months. And let me tell you....it looks just a little bit different than when we first moved in. Make that alot different. So instead of holding out any longer (why I have been I have no idea) I'll start by showing you some small improvements I made to our entryway.

    When we first moved in, it was pretty bland with cream colored walls, brown painted steps, and wood floors. It did have a window, a definite plus, but it sorta just felt like "womp, womp..nothing exciting here, just move along". The problem is, we walk through this space atleast twice a day and I wanted it to be fun and cheerful.


    Looking in from the kitchen: Blah, blah, blah...literally, it was really blah!

    Looking down the stairs to the entry door. More blah, blah, blah.

    Shedding some light on the subject.

    Looking from the kitchen at the interior door that opens into the entryway. And yes,
     that's an awesome soccer-themed light switch cover on the right in our bedroom.
     It makes us feel young at heart (or I just can't find the right size one to switch it out).

    I started off by thinking about the fundamental things I needed in the space: a place to hang coats, keys and bags; a place to stash the shoes we wear most often; some color and fun in the space; a simple window treatment; and a small chair or bench to sit on while putting on shoes.

    The good news is that I already had everything I needed to meet the list of necessities. I also wanted to tie in some of the existing colors in other parts of my home. The most common colors I have are blue, green, and brown. I knew bright teal would add some pop to the space, while the brown and green would ground it a bit. 

    Enter some extra fabric, left over teal spray paint (from my dining room hutch redo), an existing coat rack I made a while ago, a spare small chair (found free on the side of the road ages ago), and a DIY entry sign. After a little bit of painting, sewing and hanging, it just kinda of came together.


    The After!

    A teal blue coat rack adds storage.

    This coat rack used to be black and was made years ago from 2 scrap dresser drawer fronts attached together on the back. I added some hooks and called it done!

    Hanging Help: This baby can hold a lot of stuff!

    I used a collection of silver frames for some fun art I made from an old NYC subway map. It had the light colors I wanted, was something different, was free, and reminded me of fun trips into the city. 

    NYC Subyway art.

    I varied the heights of the frames to add interest but lined them up on the bottom to create one clean edge.

    A plain jane chair got her seat recovered with some light blue micrifiber fabric and a handmade pillow from a friend found a spot on top. A $1 tag-sale basket holds mittens, hats and bike locks under the chair.

    I sewed a simple valence from some left over fabric. The circles are fun and whimsical while the blue, green and brown colors tie into the blue coat rack, brown floors, and brown trim.

    On the wall near the entry door I hung some numbers I had for interest (our wedding date was June 9, 2007). As long as the 7 stays with the other two numbers, its all good. If I just had 69 hanging on my wall, it may be a bit....weird, if you catch my drift.

    Moving outside, I really wanted some kind of a sign with our name on it so visitors would know which apartment is ours. I knew I wanted to do the sign myself and I wanted it kinda sleek and funky. I found this simple sheet of stainless steal at Home Depot for $5 and made a stencil out of contact paper and "Thomas" printed on computer paper. I had the teal paint on hand and knew it would tie all the colors together. I sprayed 2 coats of paint over the stencil and then did a top coat of a clear arcrylic sealer so the metal wouldn't rust. The font is Aubrey and was downloaded from here.

    I feel like a real family now that were established! 

    This shot may help you understand the coat rack made from dresser fronts a bit more. These fronts used to be attached to the drawers via tongue and grove joints (seen on the side). I removed the drawer fronts and just attached them together on the back with a scrap piece of wood.


    You can see the break in the front where to two pieces of wood join.

    And just to keep it real, here's what our coat rack really looks like on an average winter day: overloaded with coats, bags and keys.

    It wouldn't be complete (or New England) without salt and mud stained floors and bulky winter boots. Winter is real up here and the clothes to survive it have gotta' go somewhere, right?

    Has anybody else ever turned a piece of scrap furniture into something totally different? What entry way solutions do you have? Share, share,share!