Evolution of a DIY Planner {video}

Creative Business

This one’s for all my planner fans out there, you know who you are!

DIY Planner Evolution

Back in September I shared my Fabric Fauxdori Cover video and promised that I would go more into what’s inside it at a future date. Of course, then October and the Halloween madness struck, and now it’s November and I haven’t fulfilled that promise yet! Allow me to fix that.

(Direct link for the feed readers: DIY Planner Evolution + Clean and Simple Plan with Me November)

The decision to decorate your planner is apparently fraught with peril. As much as I love stickers, I have a lot to keep track of, so I dress my planner up in small ways like with the washi on the page edges. Another benefit of that washi? It reinforces the edges of the paper, making the planner a bit sturdier (at least in my experience). And I’m still absolutely loving my faux-dori planner cover and how easy it is to work with and add things to–I don’t miss ring binders at all!

For anyone still on the hunt for their 2016 planner, the Creative Days Monthly/Weekly Planner is available now in my Etsy shop.

If you want to try your hand at creating your own planner, you can do it in just about any program (Word, Publisher) but I really do prefer InDesign (Scribus is a good open-source alternative). It helps to start by figuring out what you want in a planner–sometimes that means trying out a lot of them or just doodling your own in a spare notebook to find out what sort of information you really need to keep track of. As I said in the video, my biggies are

  • daily to-do lists
  • blog posts
  • menu planning

with fixed appointments only an occasional thing in my life. So all the planners out there that are 50% or more time slots? Not for me. I noticed, back on my hunt for a 2012 planner that started me down the DIY road, that the planners with menu sections were either geared towards moms or had an overly simplified week on a page layout (or other froufrou decorations that didn’t suit me). Of course, had the planner community been then what it is now (or had I known of it), maybe those not-quite-right planners could have benefited from some serious sticker action!

Whatever format you choose to use, I really think everyone can benefit from some sort of time management system. Whether it’s a bullet journal, ongoing to-do lists, even chore charts–whatever takes the guesswork out of the day is going to help you get more done. And it’s not just about making more money and being more productive at work or in your business, it’s about making time for the fun stuff, too. If you check off those boxes for the things you need to do, then you can do the things you want to do with less (or better yet, absolutely no) guilt!

Do you plan? If so, what sort of system do you use? If not, why not?

He Just Wants to be in the Picture with You!

Everyday Adventures

This post is part of our ongoing promotion with Oriental Trading Company. All photographs and opinions are my own.

I’ve always wanted to put up a photo backdrop for our annual Halloween party, but I just never got around to it. Until this year, of course, when I had the help of the Ghastly Decorations pack from Oriental Trading Company; as soon as I saw it I knew it’d be perfect and I’m happy to say I was right! I mean, who wouldn’t want this charmer in their selfie?!

Peek-a-boo, I'll scare you!

Peek-a-boo, I’ll scare you!

We have a door that separates the front and back halls (what used to be the main house and back porch, respectively) but we leave it open all the time. It creates a wide angle between the hallway opening and my office door, and I thought it would be just the spot to set up our photo backdrop.


I had this black linen in my fabric stash, but you could use a large table cloth or buy a couple yards of fabric from the remnant table in a pinch. I draped it over the open door and secured it to the edge of the opposite door frame with some push pins. In the absence of a convenient door, a PVC frame could be easily constructed, or even a tension rod if you have some angles to wedge it between.


The 3 printed decorations came on one large sheet of plastic that, I suppose, you could use as is for a quick scene setter, but wasn’t quite right for this space; I cut them apart to better arrange them. I placed the window decorations fairly high–just a few inches below the top of the backdrop, so that our taller guests wouldn’t be fully blocking it. Plus, we have pretty tall ceilings, so no need to stay low.


Since this is meant to be a temporary decoration, I opted to use straight pins to secure the plastic decorations to my backdrop. You could also use safety pins or even some temporary adhesive. Just keep whatever you use tucked discretely inside the printed design so it blends in best. I did the same thing with pile of bones near the bottom of the backdrop, then added some more creepy cloth to the top and a grungy prop chain along the side of the frame. Just something to dress things up.


Of course, what photo booth or backdrop is complete without some props! I raided my old costume stash and commandeered some of the more amusing hats from Todd’s collection and put them all in a tote to keep nearby. This way even our un-costumed guests can get in on the fun!

jvanderbeek_halloween_2015_decorations-0334 And while I’m sure 99% of our guests will have their cell phones at the read, across from the photo backdrop I’ve hung a bit of garland and my small point-and-shoot camera for anyone who wants to take a picture for me!


I couldn’t resist giving it a try!

But what happened to the skeleton that was part of the wall decor set? Oh, he’s just hanging around the library…


Cobwebs are an easy way to spook-ify a space, especially bookcases with their plethora of sharp edges.


Oh, and for anyone curious about how the hallway mural came about, I put together a short video on the subject. Check it out here: Halloween Mural Process Video

48 | Decorating Chariots… as you do!

64 Arts

This post is part of our ongoing exploration of the 64 Arts

I’ve been looking forward to this next art for quite some time and have a really fun project planned for it! But first, let’s start at the beginning.

48 | Decorating Chariots with Flowers

Sure, chariots have existed for millennia, but they might be a bit hard to come by these days. The last time I had anything to do with them is building a model chariot back in Latin class in high school. Sure, it was fun, but hardly worth decorating with flowers. Needless to say, we’ll be playing a bit fast and loose with the concept of chariot, just like we won’t be hindered by the floral limitation, either!

Choose Your Chariot

Car? Bicycle? Motorcycle? Public transportation via bus or train? Even a skateboard or scooter work. If you own the vehicle in question, customization and decoration is up to you, but public transit might be a little tougher. Of course, the city buses is Tallahassee (at least used t0) have some in the fleet with painted panels for different holidays and seasons, so there’s always that to look into. Either way, keep it legal, okay?

I’ll talk more about cars since that’s what I’ve got to work with, but if you’ve got a bike, maybe it’s time for a new basket or set of saddle bags? Maybe you’ve got a horse that could use a new saddle blanket, come to think of it.

Decor Decisions

Probably one of the easiest ways to decorate a car–flowers or no–is with bumper stickers and decals. I admit, I’ve never wanted to put a bumper sticker on any car I’ve owned. Mostly for the same reasons I doubt I’ll ever get a tattoo: permanence just doesn’t sit well with me, especially if I’m espousing someone else’s ideas that I may decide I no longer agree with later on down the line. Sure, stickers come off, but that’s a step I don’t have to worry about if I keep them off my car to begin with.

I’m just not sure I want my car to be a wheeled billboard for anyone but me.

Vinyl decals are becoming more and more popular now than they used to be, and a lot easier to come by (which came first?). Is the proliferation of monograms on everything truly a “Southern” thing as I’ve been led to believe? I know I see an awful lot of monograms on the back of SUVs every morning on the way to work, and, of course, there are the ubiquitous family decals. Now, just because I get a chuckle out of the ones that show a spaceship attacking said stick-figure family doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate some of the more amusing options out there.

Car of a Carnivore, as spotted in the Trader Joe's parking lot

Car of a Carnivore, as spotted in the Trader Joe’s parking lot

Of course, decals don’t have to be run of the mill.  A graphic artist I know designed this large-scale decal and had it professionally printed and applied to her car and I think it looks fabulous. So much better than just a personalized license plate, right?

A car as a canvas... interesting thought, no?

A car as a canvas… interesting thought, no? (pardon the dust on my windshield)

The only custom decals I have a head-tilt issue with are the ‘In Memory Of’ ones. I mean, I get planting a tree or dedicating a bench in memory of the dearly departed, but a car as a moving monument? Doesn’t compute for me. Partially because of how easy it is to bang up or wreck one, but there’s also a disconnect when I think about trading in a car for another. You just traded in the “memorial” to your granny and now someone else is going to drive around in it?

Have you ever noticed them and do you think it’s normal or not right?

Spotted in traffic: some pretty cool congratulatory

Spotted in traffic: a cool congratulatory in windshield marker!

Granted, not all decorations have to have even the staying-power of those sorts of decals. Take the decorating of the getaway car in all it’s Just Married glory as a prime example. I’m definitely in favor of markers specifically for window-art, less in favor of the shaving cream and random other tools that well-wishers have been known to use in the past. (And the less said about popping corn under the hood, the better.)

Weren’t There Supposed to be Flowers?

Oh, right!

image via CarDecor.com

image via CarDecor.com

The first thing that comes to mind with the combo of cars and flowers are the clip-on bud vases that seemed to be introduced when Volkswagen revamped the Beetle several years ago. You don’t have to have a Beetle to have one of these clip-on cuties, but I’m not sure how well anything but faux flowers would hold up in the heat of summer trapped in a car.

Still, if you were looking to surprise someone on their birthday or anniversary and timed it right, this could be really sweet!

I thought that maybe succulents would work as car-plants but, again, temperatures might be an issue. Cacti might be a better option in the summer months, or maybe just stick with faux flowers. Paper and ribbon flowers might be a step up from the basic silks, but a nice touch is a nice touch.

After all, we’re not decorating Rose Parade floats or anything, right?

Guest Appreciation: A Seat for Every Seat

64 Arts, Projects

With one foot still in carpentry we’re going to take a half-step towards the next art for this next project before fully immersing ourselves in

37 House Furnishings and Decorations

When we entertain it’s important that all of our guests have a spot—be it to stand or sit really depends on what type of gathering you’re having. As most of our get-togethers involve a meal or playing games (not of the sporty type), having seats for everyone becomes kind of important to the size of our gathering.

I’ve rented chairs for big parties, and happily do so since the cost is low and it saves us having to store them. We have a couple of folding chairs in the garage that we can bring out for the occasional extra keister or two, but they don’t sit as high as the rest of the dining room chairs, so it’s not the best solution for large family dinners.

Ergo, it’s time to make over my $3 chair.

My $3 side-of-the-road antique store chair.

My $3 side-of-the-road antique store chair.

I bought this chair from a little antique shop that’s no longer in business and, yes, paid a whopping $3 for it. The original plan was to clean it up (it still had a seat then) and use it as a spare chair in my sparsely furnished apartment. That didn’t happen, so it’s spent it’s life in multiple garages and storage rooms until the seat’s rotted out and it’s collected more cobwebs than I really want to think about.

So when I started stripping the antique school desk to refinish it, I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone, and save myself some grief.

Well, that’s not exactly how things worked.

After the first round of stripping and scouring, the chair didn't look that much different!

After the first round of stripping and scouring, the chair didn’t look that much different!

The first round of stripping and sanding barely made a dent in the paint and varnish combo on the chair, so then next weekend I tried again with a heavier stripping pad and even a scraper. I still only got partway through the finish and, by that point, I was so very over this process.

And I reminded myself it was only a $3 chair.

New plan! Screw the refinishing, let’s just paint the sucker. I started out with 2 coats of matte-finish spray paint in a dark brown as an undercoat.

After 2 rounds of stripping and scraping and sanding and 2 coats of paint, it sorta looks like where we started. Not for long!

After 2 rounds of stripping and scraping and sanding and 2 coats of paint, it sorta looks like where we started. Not for long!

That’s where things are right now, since the weather isn’t exactly cooperating—it’s been either too cold or too wet to get any more painting done, plus I need Todd to cut a new seat for the chair and fashion new braces for the legs.

(The brace being the cross-piece between the front and back legs. One was missing when I bought the chair, and we were unable to find any turned braced the right size or length to match, so we’re going to sub in a round dowel rod with the ends cut to fit the existing holes, and go from there.)

The pieces for the rest of the makeover: 3/4" plywood and 2 " foam for the seat, and a 1-inch dowel for the braces.

The pieces for the rest of the makeover: 3/4″ plywood and 2 ” foam for the seat, and a 1-inch dowel for the braces.

Once the new seat and braces are cut, the entire chair will get a coat of a light blue paint and then I’ll distress the edges so that the brown underlayer shows through a bit (like this project from Crane Farms, but not quite as distressed). I thought about using a crackle medium, but didn’t want something quite so shabby chique as all that. Instead I’ll go for simple distressing for a nice aged look.

Then I’ll seal it to prevent more paint than I want from coming loose.

I’ve also picked up some thick foam to cushion the seat with. I’ll cut it to the needed size and shape, bevel the top edges so it’ll look prettier, and then cover the seat with some plush, dark-brown microsuede (I’ve got an entire bolt of the stuff from another project that went nowhere).

Theoretically this chair will match the triptych I painted for the living room (of our last house) that now hangs above our television. The chair probably won’t live in our current living room, but at least it’ll look nice when we bring it out for guests (though I keep starting at a particular corner wondering if I could make it fit with the desk.

This is a rough mock-up of how I see the chair ending up. We'll see how close reality is to idea.

This is a rough mock-up of how I see the chair ending up. We’ll see how close reality is to idea.

Obviously I’m not done with this project, but I want to stay on track with the blog schedule I laid down for myself, so next week we’ll be talking about another facet of home decorating. Once the chair project is done I’ll post that update on the nearest Thursday.

Cool? Cool.

Inspiration for Change

64 Arts

Have you gotten the itch, yet, to make your bedroom into a true sanctuary? To make it lush and inviting? Relaxing or invigorating?

If I didn’t have quite a bit of work still to do on our living room (namely custom slipcovers for 2 sofas and a love seat, throw pillows* and art for the walls) I’d be heading to the hardware store to pick up just the right shade of antique gold paint and a few spare curtain rods (closet doors bug me, especially the hanging roller-track things of the 70s that are in our home; solution: take ’em down and hang curtains!)–that and a nice picture frame or two would go far to making our room that more cozy.

But where do the ideas come from? If you’re looking for a change, where do you go for inspiration?

I found the inspiration for our living room while wandering the aisles of a Tuesday Morning (overstock housewares store for those unfamiliar) where I came upon a small box in a blue and black pattern. We had some blue lamps and brown walls–tadaa!

Other places I like to browse for ideas: Better Homes & Gardens’ website, Apartment Therapy, and IKEA showrooms (they have the power to make me believe I could actually live in 700 square feet if it was laid out correctly). Sometimes it’s a complete room image that seizes my imagination, other times it’s just a single thing or piece of fabric. Touring open houses is also a good way to get ideas; even if you’re not in the market for a new home, professionally staged homes are a fount of inspiration.

A couple of blogs that come to mind are The Cottage Nest and Making it Lovely. I learned about both of these blogs through a BHG competition a while back and have remained a fan and subscriber since then. The former in is in the midst of a move right now but has, in the past, posted great pictures of cottage-style decorating and her own transformation of her (now former) home in the charming cottage style. The latter, though, not only runs her own stationery & more store, pink loves brown, but she is also is in the process of transforming her home. In addition to her own progress pictures and stories, she frequently puts together series taking one or more key pieces and takes them through various rooms and living situations giving a host of options for using investment pieces in your decorating.

What are your favorite spots for interior decoration inspiration?

*I’m not a devotee of shabby chic but I do like some of the elements of it. I created a technique I call “shabby applique” for my living room throw pillows and show the complete how-to in one of my articles for eHow.com.