Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Love Story On Display

I remember the evening of March 14, 1996 well.  I was fourteen and in love.  It was a warm night, and although there were many people walking past, I felt that it was just him and I in all the world. We were strolling together (a few feet away from our friends and family) down the crowded "streets" of Six Flags, after having spent an unforgettable day together.  His silly jokes and polite manner made every moment with him special, and the way he stared into my eyes sent my heart into an accelerated frenzy.  He said there was something he wanted to ask me.  He was nervous as he tried to get the words out and then quickly blurted, "Would you like to be my girlfriend?"  My timid response? "Are you sure?" I couldn't believe this cute boy with the kind hazel eyes actually liked me!  When he assured me that he was indeed serious, I immediately consented.  The following day he spoke with my father, a brave and admirable feat for a boy of seventeen, and requested his permission to "get to know his daughter."  My father patiently waited till he finished his "she's very special and I have feelings for her" speech, before informing him that at fourteen his daughter was not ready to have a boyfriend, adding that if  he was still interested in pursuing a relationship with her when she turned fifteen, he would give his consent at that time.  Being the reasonable man that he is though,  my father did say he'd allow us to correspond with one another and even agreed to a phone call now and then.  What softened his heart was seeing what a special young man this was. The fact that he lived 4 hours away also helped to set his mind at ease.  Surely, if the young man was not serious about his feelings, this childhood romance would never survive a long distance friendship and a one year trial period.  

What a thrill it was for me to receive his letters.  I'd make a mad-dash for the mailbox every day after school.  I also enjoyed writing him,  painstakingly rereading each sentence to be sure that it was perfectly worded.  I'd write many rough copies before carefully penning the final draft.  We wrote each other dozens of letters.  He'd usually call on Saturday nights, at first twice a month and then weekly.  I'd wait by the phone for his call.  Our phone conversations went from 20 minutes long to 2 hours long, and at times, unbeknownst to my parents, 5 hours long.  We simply never ran out of things to talk about, covering every imaginable topic.  Oh, how he could make me laugh!  No matter what mood I was in when our conversation began, he'd have me laughing by the end of it.  Gradually our letters and our conversations became more and more affectionate. He began to make surprise visits up to see me and a few times even came by to pick me up after school (with my little brother, the appointed chaperone, at his side). Three months after our Six Flags outing, during one of his visits, as we stood together on the front porch saying goodbye, he whispered,  "I love you." By the time my 15th birthday rolled around he'd become a part of our family and my parents were as in love with him as I was.  When I reminded my father of his stipulation 1 yr. prior, he seemed to have forgotten all about it.   In May of 1998,  when I was 16 yrs old, he took me (and our chaperone) to the Houston Galleria, a cherished spot for both of us.  There, with swarms of people walking by, he knelt down on one knee and holding out a red, heart shaped velvet ring box said to me, "I want you to be my wife."  I cried, and could only nod my head yes, as he stood and hugged me tight.  We were two children so deeply in love, not knowing what life had in store for us, but knowing without a doubt that we wanted to be together always.  On June 25, 2000, one month after I graduated from high school, we were married. 

It's been 15 years since that warm summer evening in March. The awkwardly spoken words of two timid teenagers marks the beginning of a beautiful relationship, that defying all odds, has stood the test of time. 

This is a picture of us, the hazel-eyed boy and me, at my QuinceaƱera celebration (a coming out party celebrated in the Latin American culture when a young lady turns 15).

I wanted to share our story with you so that you could better appreciate how meaningful the following collection of frames is to us. 

Before I go into further detail about what we carefully chose to place in each frame, I'd like to give a few guided instructions on how we arranged and hung this gallery for those of you who might be interested in displaying a similar arrangement in your own home.

My arrangement inspiration came from this collection of frames found above Sherry and John Petersik's console table, as seen on their amazing site Young House Love(This is actually the entryway of their previous home.) I visit this site first thing when I sit at my computer every day.  I love it!

As Sherry cleverly classifies it in this video (which I recommend if your looking for inspiration and guidance in hanging your own frames), this arrangement is symmetrical with a twist.  We wanted a relaxed yet formal look; structured fun is what I call it.  There are many great tutorials out there on how to hang a collection of frames, and after doing a little research, I felt confident enough to tackle the project, taking bits and pieces of what I'd read and doing a little improvising along the way.  (please excuse the fuzzy and ill-lit pictures)

1. The first thing I did was lay the frames out to be sure I liked the way the arrangement looked and to determine exact placing.  Although I already had a very defined idea of the placement in my head and had lay the frames out on the floor of the store aisle before purchasing them (yes, I'm  "the weird, crazy lady with the poor, embarrassed husband by her side"), I wanted to be sure I was satisfied with the way the arrangement was going to look.  When you lay the frames out,  decide on the spacing width you'd like to use between each frame.  (For those of you who are as forgetful as I, write the space measurement down for future reference.)

2.  I then numbered each frame, writing the number in pencil on the back.  I did this after noticing that the frames, even the matching ones,  had the hardware spaced differently on the back.

3.  Next,  I cut sheets of paper to match the size of each picture frame (taping two sheets together for larger frames) and wrote the number on the paper that corresponded with the matching frame.

4. I lay each paper over the back of each corresponding frame and marked the location of the hardware, making a pencil mark exactly where each nail would need to be placed.

5.  After I had every sheet of paper labeled and marked, I was ready to begin measuring and placing the sheets of paper on the wall.  These are the supplies I used for the next few steps.

It is important to first determine if you are going to center the arrangement over a focal point in the room or with the wall itself.  Due to the ridiculous unique placement of our air conditioning unit,  I struggled a little with the placement.

Being the perfectionist that I am, it bothered me to no end that, because of the air conditioner,  the arrangement would appear unbalanced.  I eventually decided to ignore the air conditioner all together, knowing that whatever we decided to put on that wall would be adversely affected by it's placement. I simply moved the bed and nightstands as far to the right as I could and centered the arrangement above the bed.  Because I had a limited amount of space on the left due to the air conditioner, I had to make the space between each frame a lot smaller than I originally intended.

6.  Once you've decided how your going to center the arrangement,  measure and place the sheet of paper for the the large middle frame first, being sure to put the marked side of the sheet forward-facing.  Be sure to use painters tape to keep from damaging the paint on your wall.  Use the level along the top edge of the paper to ensure that it is straight.  When the placement is just right, apply pressure to the tape to secure the sheet of paper to the wall.  You don't want the paper moving out of place as you begin measuring and placing the other sheets.   Once the sheet of paper for the large middle frame has been taped to the wall, use a ruler to find the middle of the frame, measuring vertically, and work your way out from there.  Remember to use the level to keep the papers straight.   
(Instead of writing a wordy explanation, I hope this picture will help you understand the quickest and most accurate way to measure out and place the sheets of paper.  I spaced my frames 3/4in apart due to space constraints caused by the placement of our air conditioner. )

7.  After you've taped all the sheets of paper on the wall,  hammer the nails through the previously made pencil markings.

8.  When you've nailed all the nails,  rip off each sheet and hang the corresponding frame in it's place.  I highly recommend you do one at a time (remove the sheet of paper and place the corresponding frame) so you will not lose track of which frame goes where.

This is what it looked like when I finished.

Once we had the frames hung, we began discussing what we wanted each frame to display.  Because it is our bedroom, we both wanted this collection to be about our relationship, our family, and the love we have for one another.  My sweet hubby created the print found in the large middle frame, "The Martinez Family, Established 2000".

In each of the four small frames to the immediate left and right of the large frame, we put a time stamped envelope from our days of courtship.  The envelopes still hold inside of them precious love letters we wrote to one another.

In the medium sized frame on the far left, we put a letter my husband wrote to me. Notice the paper is still creased from being folded inside an envelope and stored for so many years.

In the medium sized frame on the far right, we put a crossword puzzle that I made years ago for my hubby to solve (back when we were teenagers with lots of free time on our hands :)

Here are few pictures of the completed project, taken from different angles.

And that concludes the long-winded story of the frame arrangement above our bed. 

Please see the  "Party!" tab beneath the header for links to the parties I've joined. Check them out to see inspiring transformations, renovations, crafts, and more.

The Lettered Cottage

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Little Hutch That Could

After suffering years of abuse at the hands of neglectful and unappreciative owners, a little hutch wound up on the curb, wet and miserable, awaiting its impending doom.   From the waist down, the little hutch had been destroyed beyond repair.  There it stood dejected, having given up all hope of ever being useful to anyone again.    In the distance, the ominous sound of the dump truck making its way up the street, filled the little hutch with dread.  The moment had come and there was truly no hope.  But then, as if by a miracle, the little hutch felt himself being lifted from the curb and carried into the warm house just next door to where the little hutch had lived all its life.

A sense of relief washed over the little hutch, feeling immediately the twinges of hope, that maybe there was some use for him after all.  The kind people of the warm house looked him over very closely, opening and shutting his doors, inspecting the damage and talking amongst themselves.

They measured and remeasured, making numerous pencil marks.

 Suddenly, the hutch felt it was being laid on its side!  A sharp pain around its middle indicated that something painful yet necessary was being done to him.  These kind people were operating on him, removing the destroyed components of his structure, in order to salvage that which was still useful.

After he endured much pain, the hutch watched as the kind people carried out his bottom half and placed it back on the curb.

The little hutch was a little scared, but oh what joy flooded his heart when he thought of the possibility of being beautiful and useful once more.   The first thing the kind people did was lift him up and move him from place to place to see where he would look best.  They chose a very important and visible spot in the kitchen, above the dishwasher cabinet.

The kind people immediately got to work,  ripping dirty wallpaper...

prying off rusty staples...

scrapping paint off the glass...

removing old handles...

filling in all the cracks, gaps, and holes...

cleaning thoroughly every inch...


 Lastly, they prepared the little hutch for all the painting ahead.

When all the preparation work was done,  they began painting his body with a very stinky, oil-based primer to make sure all the stains and flaws were well covered.

Open the window and ventilate!

Then came the paint.  The the cheerful green made the little hutch looks stunning!

Finally, the little hutch was hung careful in a place of honor, where many could see and admire him.

The new handles were put on and his shelves were filled with many pretty things.

Through many a hardship, the little hutch endured and this is how the little hutch went from being damaged...

 unwanted and useless ...

to stunning, valued, and useful!

And that is the story of the little hutch that could.

Project Cost Breakdown:

Martha Stewart Bay Leaf Green paint sample- $2.94
Home Depot Hardware Drawer Pulls - $2 x2
Total Cost- $6.94

Ya cain't beat that with uh stick!

Read all about how we DIY'ed the above dishwasher cabinet here.
See pictures of the rest of our home here.
Wanna know what I did for Mother's Day? Pics here

Wanna know all about the frame arrangement below?  Read about it here:  Love Story on Display

This project was so much fun!  I'd love to hear your input.  Drop me a comment and let me know what you think.  Till next time!

Let's party ya'll!  You know all those adorable buttons on my side bar, under the Link Parties label?  Those are links to the sites I'm partying at this week.  Yeah, I know, I've become quite the party animal. Lol!  If you wanna feast your eyes on some amazing home renovations, furniture restorations, crafts, decorations, and more,  visit these sites.  You'll find countless ideas and inspiration, and hey, maybe you can link up and share something spectacular that you've done.  Below you'll find links to some of the sites as well. They are all pretty amazing so... have fun!