Old/Antique Bottles


My family and I live on the south shore of Massachusetts, now. But I (Laura) was born and raised out in western MA, in the city of Westfield. Most times when I go back home to my parent’s house, my father urges me to take anything in the house that I want, for myself. “Anything at all”, he stresses.  I most always dismiss his invitation because, frankly, I want everything to stay there, just as it is.  Forever, really. But at least, for as long as possible.

You see, my mother passed away in 2005.  It’s so hard for me to believe it’s been that long already.  But what’s harder for most others to believe, is that my father has kept everything in the house, just as it was when my mother was there.  He even keeps it clean. Vacuumed, dusted, the dishes done; everything. You’d think she was still there.

It’s a 100 year old 3-story, 2 family house. Walking into that house, [Read more…]

A Christmas Cards Display Idea

00_Christmas-cards-display-idea

 When the Christmas season arrives every year, and the cards start coming in the mail, what do you do with them?  Do you just put them in a pile and let them stack up? Or do you like to display them somehow, for all to see?  If you display them, how do you manage that? I bet you all have had some pretty creative ideas yourselves.

We’ve had a few solution ideas of our own over the years, for the Christmas cards we gratefully get in the mail. Way back, we just put them in a beautiful Christmas basket. That was kind of sad though, as we know many are really excited about their cards every year, and we’d hate for them to be hidden. Especially the ones with photos of kids and families, or the special notes.
We’ve also just tied a pretty ribbon across a beam in our main living area, and let them hang on that.
Getting more creative still, for a few years, we stood a white folding accordion door in the corner of the room, and the louvers (slats) worked beautifully for hanging cards. Of course, like with the string idea, the vertical cards hung horizontally. It was still a nice way to display everyone’s cards though. 

Last year though, I came up with a new idea, that I think we’ll stick with for some time. It’s very homemade and rustic, and I just love it.
Take a look . . . .

01_Christmas-cards-display-idea What do you think? 
It was actually just a long scrap of plywood we had on hand. (Repurposing at it’s best!).  
This one happens to be about 11″x 76″.   You can use any similar long board though.  You just want to be sure it is thin enough to be able to clamp clothespins on.

03_Christmas-cards-display-idea We also used some rough rope, in which I intertwined some thin satin rope around, just to add some pretty to the rough look.
The roping is mostly for decorative purposes, though. It will hold some horizontal cards well enough, but if it slides, it knocks other down. And that’s just frustrating.
I like the look of the clothespins, and it helps secure the cards of all sizes.

02_Christmas-cards-display-idea So this scrap board was painted white and then rough sanded. I didn’t put a lot of effort into that wood-finishing part at all, because really….I was hopeful that if enough people thought of us whilst filling out their Christmas cards, most of that board would be covered, anyway.  ;)
The scrap blocks of wood (you see) on the back, at the top and bottom of the board, not only add stability to the board for it to sit well on the floor and lean against the wall.  There is a notch cut at the top and bottom of the board, for the rope to wrap around to the other side inset, and then there is hole through the block for the rope to go though and be secured to the other side. It sounds complicated, but it really is simple in design.  Sorry I forgot to get a pic of the back side for you. If you are confused and  have a question on this, go ahead and ask in the comments.
04_Christmas-cards-display-idea Completely optional tidbit:  I soaked my clothespins in tea water overnight, to try and antique them some. It worked; but honestly, it’s too subtle for the effort in my opinion. Maybe I did it wrong?
I think at some point I will take these clothespins, and revert to what always works beautifully for me; a touch of my Annie Sloane Dark Wax. Love-that-stuff!

05_Christmas-cards-display-idea To really dress up the top, I added these large rusted-looking jingle bells, hung with twine. I love jingle bells! 

CONSIDER THIS:  You could use this whole idea, and change the whole style of it depending on how you finish it and what you use as detail elements!
For example: paint a smooth new board with a clean white paint, omit the sanding, putty and paint your screw holes, and use a wide frilly ribbon down the board, with a big fancy bow at the top!

06_Christmas-cards-display-idea But the rustic, farmhouse look suits us just fine.

07_Christmas-cards-display-idea Yes, just another crazy idea, from our house to yours! 
If you love it, bookmark it! You could try the idea yourself this year or some other coming year. Or simply share it with your friends who follow you on your social networks.  They’ll love you for it.
  And hey, while your here, say hello, and share your thoughts.

Hope your homes are feeling a little bit of your Christmas love!
These are the little things that make any house, a home, for the ones you love.
~Laura

Re-purpose Old Calendars – DIY Wall Art

00_

Have you ever found yourself sad to turn the page on your 12 month wall calendar, because you liked the image for the ending month better? Or hesitant to throw out a calendar with great visuals at the end of the year? After all, when we buy a wall calendar, we usually pick out the one we did, because we liked the pictures or designs that went with each month.  So isn’t it a great recycling idea, to re-purpose old calendars into DIY wall art, using some of those favorite months, for home decor?

01_recycle-old-calendars I had chosen this 2011 calendar for my youngest daughter to use in her room, because I just loved the artwork in it, so much. 
And can you believe I got it for $1.00, at Michael’s Arts and Crafts?! A buck!
Our girl enjoyed it hanging in her room the whole way through. And she used it to remember things on certain days, as well.
When the year came to an end, she was sad to take it down, and I just couldn’t throw it out, either.

02_recycle-old-calendars I loved so many of the months artwork pictures, that I was hoping I might figure out something creative to be able to do with them. 
I had it for the whole following year; busy with other projects most times, forgetting I even had this calendar other times, and then finding it again and remembering I wanted to do something with it. I just wasn’t sure what.
And then it hit me: Why not keep it simple, and just frame some of the pages as artwork?!

So we chose 2 picture-pages for each of our girls’ rooms. Ones that they loved, but that also went well with each of their room colors.
After taking those 4 pages out, I DID throw the rest of the calendar away, because it had already been hanging around for a year after it’s expiration.

03_recycle-old-calendars But in looking at all of the photos I took of the calendar for this blog post, I wish I kept the cover! 
Because I’ve realized the cover was the artwork I loved most. Dag nabbit!
I could have trimmed it right over the bottom copy there, and had say a 12″ x 1o or 11″ piece of artwork too.
Oh well. Trying to let go of the regret, since there is nothing I can do about it now.

So let me tell you the simple way in which I turned this old calendar into 4 awesome, colorful and artistic looking pieces of wall art.

The calendar measured 12″ x 12″, so that was the size to work with.
04_corrugated-plastic-square To give the floppy calendar page some stability, it needed to be mounted on something. You can just use some sturdy pieces of cardboard. 
But my husband had some corrugated plastic around, that he uses to make yard stake signs for different companies.  Real estate agents use them a lot, as does various home contractors, etc.
So I used that stuff. I cut four 12″ square pieces.

05__recycle-old-calendars Then I simply adhered each artwork page onto each corrugated backing, using Modge Podge as the glue.

06_homemade-square-wooden-frames-sb Next we needed 4 12×12″ frames.  I am quite sure square frames are available in stores. One could certainly get them custom made, if necessary. But my husband is pretty good at just banging out any frames when I need them, and it’s a lot more cost efficient to make them ourselves, than buying them at retail stores. I also really prefer to finish them myself, so they have the look and style I am envisioning. 
So he builds the frames, and I paint them.

07_homemade-square-wooden-frames I have various ways of finishing frames or any woodwork pieces.
For these, I painted them dark grey first, then white, and then distressed the edges well with sandpaper.
This resulted in some grey paint as well as bare wood showing through the distressed areas of the white finish. That mix of shades and depth was just what I was aiming for.

The mounted artwork just popped into the back of the frames, and I used a few tiny nails to ensure they were held in.
Done!

Here’s a look at several photos of the finished art pieces, adding pretty and cheerful decor to each of the girls’ rooms:

(Our oldest daughter, Alexis’ room.)

08_recycle-old-calendars-into-wall-art
09_recycle-old-calendars-into-wall-art
10_recycle-old-calendars-into-wall-art
(Our youngest daughter, Olivia’s room.)
11_recycle-old-calendars-into-wall-art
12_recycle-old-calendars-into-wall-art

13_recycle-old-calendars-into-wall-art

There you have it. Inexpensive and beautiful accent wall decor.
The more I think about it, the more creative ideas I can think of, to recycle and make the most of out-of-date calendars.
So before you throw out your next expired calendar, think about what else you can use it for.
Hope you enjoyed this idea, and seeing the results of it.

* * * * * *

Please come follow me here and there:

The House Of Joyful Noise Top 10 Projects of 2012 Countdown!


The year of 2012 is coming to a close, and my-my-my, what an amazing and unpredictable year it has been for us! It truly taught us to have faith, and hold on for the ride!  We are way excited for the coming new year of 2013, because we have some big (huge!) and exciting projects that we will be doing, documenting, and sharing, with you!  In fact, many. But before we get to all of that, we thought it would be fun to just reflect on this past year, for which we are so grateful for.  Both in regards to the blog, and ‘The Big Picture’ of our day to day family life.  And THEN, have a little countdown of our most popular projects of the past year. Won’t that be fun?  We think so. : )

But you are quite free to skip right down to Top 10 Countdown if it’s what you are most interested in!

 Bloggin’-So what a year it has been, for our little (teeny-tiny) corner of the internet world, here!  With my putting my photography business on hiatus, to focus more on my kiddos and their schooling, and having just that bit more of time to put into the blog with a bit more business approach too, it has grown more than ever. My goal this year has really been to just make any bit of income I could, to help out Michael, while putting what comes first in our life, first. While blogging hasn’t exactly raked in the piles of cash that my photography business did, it hasn’t been too bad. And it also hasn’t taken the huge amount of time away from my kids, their schooling. and our family as a whole either, the way my photography business really did.  It was just very time-consuming, and took more people-skills than I truly had some days. I just wanted to keep doing what we do anyway, and blog a little more of it, and then put a little more into the marketing end of it, and see what happens. We’re happy with what has happened, and God-willing, it’ll keep growing. But we wouldn’t have gotten to this point this year, without you all.  Your visits, interest, comments, sharing, and general support of our projects, have made it a joyful journey. It’s meant a whole lot to us. Yes, every once in awhile I do start talking about throwing in the blogging towel. There are just some difficult personal aspects of it that can be hard on the heart, at times.  But whenever I start talking such smack about quitting, my husband and oldest daughter throw a little fit, and demand I keep it going. Not only is it our family blog, but inside, they know how much I enjoy the whole creative process of not only the projects that we do, but the photography and blogging of it all. And the connections we have built, with you.  So, it’s been wonderful in that way.

Family-Life- Our year has really transformed over the course from beginning to end!  In really wonderful ways.  Michael has made the biggest changes, professionally, that has ultimately been the best thing for our whole family. It’s given us stability that we haven’t known, for many years.  In all of our married years, Michael has pretty much soley focused on his truck lettering and sign-making business, as our main source of income. It’s a work field he has loved, and as a second-generation track letterer/sign-maker, it has meant a lot to him, to follow in his father’s footsteps. More than ever, since losing his father a couple of years ago. He wanted to be sure to keep his father’s trade alive. But the economy and the struggling businesses of many companies, really effected the business enough, that we were very much financially struggling. He toughed it out as long as he could. I never wanted to take that away from him. But it came to a point where he needed to put his dream to the side, and do something else, to best provide for our family. To skip the details and make a long story short, he took a full-time job working for his brother-in-law’s roofing company, which is well established and has a great company reputation. This, thus far, has turned out to be one of the best decisions we have ever made. To start, it has provided us with a stable income. (Hello new world, to us struggling artists!).  But also, he is extremely happy, for many reasons. For one, he doesn’t mind the work he is doing, at all. (He’s not on roofs. He picks up/delivers supplies and takes care of the dumpster containers of roofing waste.) But also, he has realized he is still working a family business. Not his own business, but his own (extended) family. People he loves and cares about too. (Well, we all do of course.)  He has always gotten along great with his brother-in-law; his now boss. He’s a really, really great guy, with a huge heart. And a straight-shooter if I ever knew one, which I have always appreciated in a person. But Michael has felt really good about helping that family business thrive.  And honestly, it’s a good thing for the whole (extended) family. In time, I think the blessings of it will only grow. Because I do think it is God’s plan for us all. WHAT’S MORE . . . Michael’s own business is still there! His clients, have remained loyal to him, and patient.  They understand he has another full-time job now, and are willing to wait the few extra days, to get their trucks lettered and what-not. So all-around, Michael is very content. The financial stress is gone (because are needs are not that great, anyway), and the pride of working now TWO family businesses, and both work he enjoys, keeps him going. He is working more than ever, but to see him so relieved of the financial stress and worry, makes me feel a whole lot better, and gives him the drive of feeling so good about what he is doing.

Our children have really thrived this year. too. They have had some beautiful and amazing accomplishments, and it has been a true blessing and joy to watch them grow.
BUT,  this post is long enough, with too much more to go. I know I never shut-up when it comes to my kiddos, so we’ll save some of that for another time. Shall we?

Let’s just get down to the projects that all of YOU, our readers and visitors, loved most!  This countdown is based on the most page views.  Not the most comments, or anything like that. Just sheer traffic that the project drew, from out there on the net. We’ll start with the 10th most popular, and count down to #1 project that drew the most hits this year!
Y’all ready for this?
(And if y’all have a song playin’ in your head now, you’re a lot like me! ; )

Here we go!

(*TIP- To see full posts, click on highlighted titles; not photos.)

 10.
My Custom Built Farmer’s Table Home Office Desk
For sure, this is THE project I was most excited to share with you all, this year. Personally. It was nothing short of a little dream for me.  And to be blessed with a husband who is so talented to whip out my greatest desires, is something I am thankful for every day.  I think the fact that so many like me love anything farmish, and maybe some envy, is what made this such a popular project to be drawn to. But it’s the details, and the story behind all of it’s parts, that makes it so meaningful to me.  Come to think of it, I still need to take a photo of it ‘in use’ now, for you all. *Note to Self: Do that.

* * * * * *

9.
Pinwheel Wreath / Tutorial and Decor
This was flat-out fun to create, and proved to be fun & cheery home decor in our sun room, through the spring and summer months.
You can make this too, with my easy to follow instructions, photos and tips.

* * * * * *

8.
Recipe for Apple Pie Pops
As I said in the post, this wasn’t even my recipe! I just needed to make them. I think it’s their cuteness that made this a popular visit.
But I did pretty much show you how to make them and give you the recipe.

* * * * * *

7.
A Snowman Christmas Tree Ornament Tutorial
Now this is a fairly new project on the blog. And yet it’s #7!  Again, cuteness is a powerful thing.
I had way too much fun making this. Like a kid, building a snowman! Minus the miserable cold.

* * * * * *

6.
Our Antique School Desks and Books

Well this wasn’t even a project, or anything we did! But as it turns out, old school desks are pretty heavily researched! Still, one of the desks we discussed was one of Michael’s when he was little, and it got pretty hilarious. One visit to the post and a quick scroll through the photos, will show you why. ; )  Goodness.  It still makes me laugh.

* * * * * *
5.
Decorating with Autumn Leaves / Door Garland and Candle Jars
Not much to say, except that people loved it.
And that I’m beginning to feel like Casey Kasem.

* * * * * *
4.
Heart String’s / A Valentine’s Craft
I can tell you right now, how this one made the list.  And it probably just made it the other day!  It seemed to be shared by someone on some popular Slovakian Facebook Page, and that was it! It was fun reading the translations of the comments.  But anyhoo, it was a whole lot of fun to make with the kiddos.  Anything with melting crayons, is going to be fun. Taking photos of crayon shavings was also fun. We’ve saved this craft project and hung it up 2 years in a row, too! Hoping it’s still in good enough shape to give a 3rd.

* * * * * *
3.
Boys’ Hardware Accessories
This project was just playing around, and seeing what I could make for accessories, for my boys’. (Who do love accessories.) It seems I’m always making their little sister something, so it was their turn. I just brainstormed what might be boyish, and came up with hardware. I made them both jewelry and belts.  Half the fun was photographing my little men, wearing what I made. Like a magazine shoot. Planning and setting up photo-shoots, and photographing such a wide range of things, is huge part of the thrill of blogging for me. Throw my kids in, and I’m a Mama having more than her share of fun! :D  (You really need to visit the post, and see how handsome and boyish they were. ; )

* * * * * *
2.
Glass Tile Handmade Gifts / Necklace Pendants and Magnet Sets
I’ve gotten great traffic on this one, ever since I blogged it. Such a fun project. The key really is working with high quality white glass tiles. I have a great supplier, who I’m about to use again. I tried another, only because she had some kits I wanted to try. It was a huge mistake. The quality of the materials I was working with, didn’t come close. So if you do this, use my supplier, mentioned in the post. Check out the gorgeous pendants and magnet sets I made.

* * * * * *
and FINALLY…..OUR TOP MOST POPULAR PROJECT POST OF 2012 IS . . . . . .
. . . . . . just the craziest thing  . . . . . . I mean, I loved the project and had a great time doing it but . . .
 . . . . . .I don’t know that it’s the best thing we’ve done this whole year!  Actually . . . . . .
this is a project I did all by myself. I DID put a whole lot of love into it. The funniest thing about it being #1 is . . . . .
the idea to blog it was not even a plan at first! It was just a special gift I wanted to make, and taking photos to blog it was an after-thought.
And POOF!! It’s a HOT ONE!!
The top-traffic project of the year IS . . .
.

.
1.
A Doodle Journal; Made with Love
This was a personal and customized gift, that  I made for my God-Daughter. I happened to submit the blog post project to a (very popular) craft site, and the photo apparently intrigued people TO NO END. I still get traffic every day, from this baby.  Who knew? I think deep inside, everyone loves doodling. Even if they say they don’t know how, WHICH is impossible. I promise you, everyone can doodle. Just pick up a pencil or pen, and let your tool of choice go crazy on paper. Frankly, it’s therapeutic. My mother was a chronic doodler.  She even doodled on the cards and school projects us kids made for her. She truly couldn’t help herself. I find it great fun, and it really exercises the artist in us all. That’s why I wanted my God-Daughter to have this journal, to get her own DOODLE ON! And to express the beautiful little chickadee that she is. I hope she’s using it.
And THAT my friends, concludes this year’s countdown. Join us again next year, for another, if we’re still here. (Just going to roll with God’s plan, as always.) And if I do this countdown again. This was my first time ever.  HOLY….that was a lot of work! I sure hope you enjoyed it!  It took me just about all day! I think I’ll take the rest of the year off.  ; )
Incidentally, I wanted to mention that the actual #2 spot, was our home page!  That means just plain old visits to our blog, to check in if you know us, or see who we are if they don’t, and see what nonsense we’re all about. That’s good to know!

Thank you all so much! For being there for us, and digging what we do.
Now….who’s up for another year of this?

 ******

Please come follow me here and there:

“I Am Third” / A Wood Palette Sign


It’s always a great day, when I finally get something OUT of my head, and am able to find the time to bring it to life, and have it real and in front of me.  It makes me happy because, there’s a whole lot in my head, that never (ever) gets out!  I wish I could do all of the projects that I actually think of, but I have other joyful obligations too, than just being all artsy 24/7.  So only a small percentage of my notions ever actually come to be.
I’m really glad this one did though, because it’s a meaningful one in our home.

The vision was a wood palette sign.  And we usually have no shortage of those, as this is what our driveway often looks like . . . . . .

. . . . and there’s more where those came from.  Michael is able to get them from work by the load anytime.  Many of them he chops up and we burn in our wood stove. Free wood is always good!  But they are great for many other things too.  And a palette was perfect for my idea for the sign I wanted to make.

The theme of the sign is a phrase we are fond of in our family, and try to live by, and it is this:

I am third.
You may well guess all on your own.
Like all families with many kids, one of my tasks as a parent is to teach my children to always put God first, be compassionate of others, and make great efforts to be selfless whenever possible.  Having triplets, you can imagine we’ve had many teachable moments and conversations about this kind of thing from toddler-hood on up, while encouraging them to share, and not grow with any kind of mindset that our own wants and needs should always or ever be first. That’s just not how we roll, as Christians.  Of course, this philosophy of serving, goes far beyond the constraints of our family, and the walls of our home. It applies to our world and every day we live in it, and with all whom we interact with across the board, from absolute strangers, to acquaintances, to loved ones a part of our personal lives, and everyone in between whom we happen upon daily .  I want that to stick with my kids, as they grow older in their faith, and take on this world, with all of their plans and dreams before them. It can only help, for each one of us to be reminded often.

And so with another an extra piece of plywood, some old extra nails we had on hand, and some paint and a brush, the palette sign I saw in my head for so long, was created:

Because of the list form of my idea, I saw the palette as the perfect material for the sign.
It was cut down to a size of about 20″ x 27″.

I wanted it kept as simple as possible. Rustic, raw, and straightforward. Sure, it may not always be easy to live the message. 
But God always forgives us, and we always have the opportunity to keep on trying.
It is a simple concept to remember, in terms of the priorities we want to strive to serve in our life:
God
Others
Self

For some reason, I always saw it in this darker red.  When it came time to paint, I stopped and considered other colors.
But I really needed to create it just as I had envisioned it for so long. Or else I could go crazy. 

Michael hung it up the very same day. Right there where we all see it, again and again, every day.  He loves it as much as I do.
I suppose others may come into our home, start to read it, and be a little perplexed.  But one of the most cherished things about having a home to me, is making it a place that is meaningful to our family. It’s the little things, that are personal and of the heart, that make it feel like home.  And this sign….. and all it says….it means something to us.  It’s an awareness that we want to be reminded of, again and again. Not just the kids. But all of us. I know I can use such a gentle reminder, as often as anyone else.

There is lots more space on this particular wall in our open living space, up there with the clock. The wall is much bigger than it even appears in this photo, with the cathedral ceiling.  We realize the sign is so flush left, and leaves the wall as a whole quite unbalanced. But we’re ok with that for now.  Soon enough, the wall all around the clock will be filled with other things that mean something to us. Maybe more signs.  Who knows. But we have no desire to rush these things, just to fill up and balance the wall. It’s what is hanging there, that matters to us. 
All of the space? Well, that’s what I call inspiration. Like a blank sheet of lined paper, or a canvas.  The possibilities are endless, and exciting.

The kids have really embraced the lesson, most days. But when they are together and it’s needed, because one, or some, or all are reverting back to looking out for themselves over little things,  I like to remind them: 
“If everyone put everyone else second, you’ll always actually be second, too! Not third. Right? So just be a good example.”  ; )
I’m a tricky Mama. ; )

I wonder what I’ll be able to get out of my head, next.

* * * * * *

Please come follow me here and there: