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Adieu

As 2014 comes to a close, I have decided to bring AfroMartha to a close.

It is a thought I’ve wrestled with for months, as my focus has changed.

I find that I really can’t be “AfroMartha” anymore as I’ve developed more as a Surface Designer, and not the all around jack of all trades home improvement/homemaker person that I’ve been.

I will leave the site up indefinitely and you can always contact me by email with questions. I hope you decide to follow me to my new home:

www.yetunderodriguez.com

Thank you for 4 wonderful years.

See you on the flipside.

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Hostess Gifts Studio 2014

This past Sunday I held a Block Printing Studio workshop in partnership with Peace on Fifth, our local Fair Trade Shop. The focus was making Hostess gifts for all those holiday parties that you’re sure to be attending. We printed up napkins and coasters… How fun!

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What I love most about teaching the printing classes is seeing what my students come up with. Sure I love printing for myself, but I can get kind of caught up in my own designs. It’s great to see what others with a different design aesthetic come up with. It is also so gratifying to see people who previously thought they weren’t artistic, suddenly discover that they are!

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Here is the ever-meticulous Wendy planning her fabulous Mid-Mod design

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And Celeste in the background…

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There was paint, coffee and divine Fair Trade chocolates provided by Peace on Fifth!

Did you miss this one? There will be another on 11/24/14. We will be printingTote Bags! Sign up here.

This holiday season, don’t forget to buy handmade!

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Fueling My Mojo–Doodling

In my effort to be a more effective Illustrator and Graphic Designer, I’m brushing up my doodling skills. Most of my designs tend to feature abstract whimsical geometrics. I really enjoy those, but I’d like to develop my skills to include other motifs. Seriously, don’t laugh at my sketches…

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I generally prefer to use media where my mistakes can easily be erased, i.e computer sketching. If I mess up a line I can just ctrl +z out of it and redo it. Not so with hand drawing. This intimidates a lot of would-be drawers, because after all, you are forced to look at your mistakes. Because of this I end up starting my design on computer a lot of the time.

While effective, the computer is only a tool to carry out your ideas. It is not a replacement for skill. The  drawback with drawing exclusively on the computer is that you don’t really get to think through your design, which usually leads to wasting  a lot of time in front of the computer without having anything to show for it. At least if you sketch the old fashioned way, you may have a lot of goof-ups, but you also end up with a body of work for your time, and one of those goof-ups may have a kernel of a good idea that can be developed and refined.

So I’m facing my fears. I’m starting out with recipes (like cooking, no?)

Most people who don’t make a practice of drawing generally take one look at a finished drawing and decide that they can’t do it. The idea behind recipes is to break up each drawing into short, sweet, do-able components.  Like So:

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from the book: “Craft-a-Doodle” by Jenny Doh.

You might initially take a look at the final Owl drawing and feel like you could never draw that. But if you can break it down to small lines and shapes (what I call small victories) the next thing you know, you’ve drawn a sweet little owl.

Here’s my rendition, in my signature imperfect style

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The point of the exercises is of course not to just copy, but to develop your own unique style after you learn how to build basic shapes. Even though I followed the recipe, my drawing does not look like the example, though it looks like an owl. It looks like an owl that Yetunde  (and nobody else) drew.

So, I encourage you to bring out your inner illustrator. Everyone can draw, you just need practice.

Here are the books I’m using:

“Craft-a-Doodle – 75 Creative Exercises from 18 Artists” By Jenny Doh
”Zen Doodling” by Carolyn Scrace
”Creative Lettering, Techniques & Tips from Top Artists” by Jenny Doh

If you draw something, I’d love to see it!

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Adding curb appeal in 5 easy steps

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Being such a lover of interiors, I find that I’ve neglected the exteriors of our house. I blame my black thumb…the mosquitoes…the heat…landscaping is expensive…whatever.

I realized one day that, while we’ve done a lot to ‘own’ the inside of our house, we’ve never really ‘owned’ the outside.  For the most part, it looked the way it did when we bought it. There were planters and other yard fixtures left there by the previous owners from at least 7 years ago!

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Short of a few half-hearted attempts at a garden in recent years, the outside has been left unchanged. We never even painted the bare wood railing on the porch. I had been staring at that railing for years, thinking how nice it would look painted. Well, I finally realized that there had to be some simple and inexpensive things I could do to pretty up the outside.

Here’s what I did:

1. Clean: Clean off the porch. If you do nothing else, clean & tidy up the space. That goes a loooong way. I removed a ratty old doormat, to be replaced by a nice new coir mat. I swept the porch (bonus points if you use a leaf blower). I got rid of our old cheap ugly plastic lawn chairs.

2. Add Color: Stained the railing  a nice rich black that matched the shutters and trim of the house. This had the biggest impact. If you follow me on IG you know I used the Minwax Polyshades Classic Black Satin with Polyurethane already in it.

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Before staining, I wiped down the railing (duh).  See the icky green stuff on railing on the left? That’s moss that forms from years of rainfall on wood. Moss is gross (unless you like that kind of stuff). I cleaned the moss with a mixture of 1Cup of Vinegar in 1 Gallon of water, using one of those flat green scrubbers. Worked great! I let the railing dry very well (not a long time if it’s hot.) Then I stained it using a cheap 1inch chip brush. It took me a total of 6 hours over 2 weekends. It was looking better already!

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3. Add Flowers/Plants: At the beginning of Spring this year I had planted some wildflowers in the front of the house… you know, the kind that’s supposed to blanket the area in wild colorful flowers and attract butterflies. I’m still waiting for the butterflies, but the flowers have finally made their appearance. Next year we will add more flower bushes

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4. Weeding and Mulching. In the 6 years we’ve been here, I’ve hated the ivy that the previous owners planted. I know some people love ivy, and it might even be considered good ground cover. Whatever, I hate them. They are so ruuuude! They crawl everywhere, even finding their way in if you’re not vigilant. They attach themselves to things, ugh!  Well, we had a ton of Ivy, and it was work getting rid of them. Poor Mister who’s apparently allergic to them. He breaks out in a nasty rash on his forearms whenever he touches them…which was a lot, since he did most of the removing. Last summer we thought we had triumphed over them, but some managed to come back. I decided that this year, I would focus my energy on at least eradicating the ones on the front. Next spring we’ll focus on the sides of the house. So once we got the fronts de-ivied and weeded, we added gorgeous red mulch. I LOVE RED MULCH! Caught them on a good sale at 4 bags for $10. Cheap way to add color.

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5. Add some accessories.

I brought out those colorful Ikea lawn chairs I used had in the family room. I loved these chairs at first sight because they were so colorful. I knew the kids would love them, so I bought them for the kids to sit on while playing the Wii. The family room quickly got very cramped with all 3 in there, along with a sofa a daybed, all my craft crap, etc etc. I had wanted to put them out for a long time, but I was overruled by the Mister and the Kids. So naturally I exercised my veto powers and put them out when no one was home. Instant interest to the porch!

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And…Say hello to my little friend:

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Well hello there, mr. owl (or is it ms. owl?) I’ve always loved windchimes. I love the tinkling little sound when it’s windy and cloudy outside. Well, apparently I’m the only one who feels this way in my house. The Mister thinks they’re weird and The Daughter find them creepy. She said it reminds her of scary movies (that I didn’t even know she watched). She has a point, but whatever, I like them. They got used to it.

I also brought out lanterns from the inside to the outside. Cute, no?

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It’s funny, I hadn’t even noticed the hooks sitting there just waiting for the lanterns!

So all in all, I’m happy with how the front of the house is coming along. Clearly there’s still work to be done, but all in all, 128 is looking pretty damn good to me!

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So there ya have it…Adding curb appeal in 5 easy steps.

 

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Rig Up a Shower-No plumber Needed

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So in my last post I told you about how I just love showers, and how my vintage home did not have one when we first moved in, but I didn’t show you the said shower.  The lone bathroom in my house it tiny and cramped. To make matters worse, it only has 2.5 walls instead of the 3 that you need to have a bona fide shower. Here is how it kind of was for a long time:

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Hand-held shower and no shower curtain rod. The hose you see going up was not actually there when we moved in. The spigot that now holds the hose used to hold a hand-held shower. This is what we used the first 3 or 4 years that we lived here. Until one day when an apple hit me over the head and I realized that I could actually rig up a shower using the same concept as a hand-held shower!

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I actually completed this project a while back (and by completed I mean done for now, subject to change, still looking for a more elegant solution.) So anyway, like I said, this project was done about 2 years ago, but I did not post it because I was….ashamed. Yes, I was ashamed of my bathroom because I bought into the whole ‘gotta have the palatial pinterest-worthy bathroom” ideal. I thought my bathroom wasn’t good enough to blog about, despite the fact that I had come up with an ingenious solution to what is probably a common problem for people with old homes or Claw Foot Tubs.  It can be so intimidating to put out your imperfections, especially when all the cool kids are carrying on like they have unlimited funds for big projects.

But what about the little projects? The small projects that, while they maybe not a swoon-worthy improve your life? If I waited until I could do a full tear down bathroom remodel (which is what this room would need) I may still be doing the one-handed shower boogaloo. Those first 4 years without a shower were uncomfortable at best, miserable at worst. Washing my hair was a “challenge” to put it nicely.  So while my bathroom may not be gorgeous, It functions. Sure, one day I want to replace that tub, replace those hideous ceiling tiles, maybe even knock-down a wall and expand the room, take out that ugly-ass window, etc, etc, and so on, and so forth, and so that! But right now it works.

If you are in a similar predicament (I’m talking to you, Claw Foot Tub owner), I’m happy to show you what I did.

what you need

For the actual shower rig up:

1 extra long shower hose (I think mine was 6 or 7 feet)
1 shower arm
1 shower head of your choice
1 shower arm bracket

For the custom shower curtain rod:
1  1/2” x 10’ EMT conduit pipe
2-4  pipe straps or clamps (depending on how many you want to put on, I used 2)

My bath tub already had a hand shower installed. So you will need that at the very least. If you don’t have a hand held shower, get some type of setup that will allow you to.

I connected the extra-long hose (about 6 feet or so) to the spigot where the hand-held shower was.

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On the other end of the hose I connected the shower arm which I then connected to the shower head:

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I then mounted the Shower Hose Clamp to the ceiling. I had to find the sweet spot known as dead center, so that the shower head wasn’t too far on one side. Once the shower hose clamp was in place, all I had to do was snap the shower arm (with the shower head attached) into it. The hose clamp snaps into about 3 positions so that you can find what’s most comfortable. This is especially helpful in directing the shower spray so that it’s not just going straight down, but to make it point a little bit forward to compensate for not having the spray come from an angle on the wall.

For the shower curtain:

Since your bathtub/shower wall is not standard, your shower curtain will not be standard. I searched high and low for a shower curtain that would meet my needs, but I guess there’s not a huge demand for L-shaped shower curtains. So I made one.

This is where you use the emt conduit pipe and clamps. Of course you need to measure your space to determine how long, where to bend, etc. I am aware that you can have the pipe bent with a nice curvy radius. The angle was too wide for my purposes, but I’ll keep looking to see if it can be bent at a shallower angle. You want to bend your pipe at 3 points. I can show you better than I can tell you:

 

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You will notice that there is not another pipe coming down from the left front corner. This has not affected the stability of the curtain rod even with 2 plastic and 1 cotton shower curtains hanging on it. I wouldn’t use it as a hang bar, but it works as-is. If you are seriously concerned, I would advise you to find a way to add a piece of pipe either going up or down to anchor it.

So once my pipe  was bent, I mounted onto the 2 full walls I had, using just 2 pipe clamps/straps, one on each end. I added shower curtains, and  ta-da!

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I now have a shower. Oh happy day.

This project, while fairly simple was really trial by fire (as I had tried a couple of other solutions previously). I may have glossd over a few points, so if you have questions, please ask, and I’ll give you my best answer!

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Fueling my Mojo: Industrial Showers

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I’m a shower girl.

Some people love taking long leisurely soaks. Nope, uhn-uhn. Give me a shower any day of the week.  There’s nothing like standing under the spray and watching all your stress literally wash away.  I take 2 showers a day, 1 in the morning and again before I go to bed. Okay, not everyday. That would be wasteful.

My current situation is that my shower has 2 and a half measly walls…like adding that extra half wall would have killed them? To further complicate matters, the half wall  happens to also be the wall that has the water supply/shower head. This means that for a long time we had only a handheld shower. That sucked! It finally dawned on me to rig up a faux-shower about 2 years ago. It works, but I still long for a real shower. In the meantime, a girl can dream.

With the way my bathroom is now, I think the best fit would be an Industrial shower. It wouldn’t do to have some glammed out bathroom in my vintage home, so I’ve been researching Industrial showers. Who knew they could be so sexy?

Here’s a round up of some swoon-worthy industrial showers that I found while dreamin’:

I love big showerheads and I can not lie. And just look at the gorgeous patina on that metal!

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Loving the simplicity of this minimalist copper shower…though I might get knocked out with all that concrete…ah small price to pay from the gorgousness:

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How about an all black bathroom for true relaxation? But how would you keep the floor dry…whatever, it’s gorgeous!

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The shower curtain here reminds me of a more stylish version of my current situation. This tells me 2 wall showers and exposed pipes are a thing. Yay me! Oh yeah, I also love the shower head.

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And last, but not the least, this:

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I love the simplicity and elegance it’s giving off with that graceful 1-piece curve of Pipe. I don’t love the lack of a spraying head, but that’s easily remedied.

You know I want to DIY this, right? It is, after-all just a piece of copper pipe, bent in 2 places, but probably costs a bajillion dollars.

I also love that that bathroom looks like it could actually be in an average person’s house because of the tiles on the wall. While the others have been gorgeous, they look like the would belong in some super-duper-rich person’s house. But this one here? Yeah I could see it in my house.

So there ya have it, my love of industrial showers on display. So what’s giving you life right now?

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Super-simple Back-To-School DIY – Cute Up your Notebooks

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Back to School…AKA the end of:

“Mom, what’s for dinner?” at 10am. Yes, the perpetually hungry 8yr old asks that early.

“Mommy I’m bored!” Again the 8yr old.

“Mom, can we go to the Mall? I NEVER get to do anything fun with my friends, and it’s all your fault!” This would be the 13yr old girl.

“Ugh, why do we have to go to the  park and ride our bikes?! Why can’t I stay in my room and play Minecraft all day?! UGH, it’s not fair!” The 10yr old talking.

Ah, yes, back to school…back to my life, back to as close to a normal schedule as I’ll have with school-age children….Hooray!

I sure will miss them. But I’m also sure I’ll be ok Smile

So, In time for the beginning of another school year, I present to you a super-simple DIY, also known as “Cute Up Your Notebook.” Why have a plain old boring notebook like everyone else? Cover ‘em up with my favorite go-to: Contact paper of course! Have you noticed how cute contact paper is getting? Isn’t it great!?

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So all you need is:

Cute Contact Paper
Cute Tape
Scissors and/or craft Knife
Ruler

That’s it! You guys are a smart bunch aren’t ya? I’m sure you don’t need instructions. BUT, in case you do:

1. Measure the total width and height of your notebook. Composition notebooks (my favorite) are 8 x 10. To allow for the spine, adds another 1/2 inch. Total size of contact paper you need: (8 + 8 +1/2) 161/2”. To be safe, I cut 17”. Better too long than too short. You can trim, but you can’t add.

2. Peel and stick the contact paper. Starting on one long edge of the notebook, apply to one side first. Once you reach the spine, open up the notebook flat and cover the spine. This allows space for the notebook to open and close easily. Finish the other side. Trim around the curves and edges of the notebook.

3. If you want to take it to the next level, make a box around the top middle of your notebook with cute paper tape. Also line the spine with the tape.

That’s it, easy peasy!

Now, I said this was for back to school, but that doesn’t mean Mom can’t have a little crafty fun! Now’s a great time to stock up. The composition notebooks I love are available for .49 cents or less at Wally-World…You can literally buy a couple of hundred of ‘em!

I made myself a couple of these for my use. Tasks lists are so much more fun with a cute notebook to write them in.

Screw you Target, I can make my own cute notebooks for a fraction of what you want!

I actually have found that I keep better track of my composition notebook because it stands out from The Mister’s. He’s a notorious composition notebook user and we have boxes of his old notebooks to prove it.

How I Use My Notebooks.

All things AfroMartha Notebook:

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I keep one notebook for writing down anything pertaining to AfroMartha the blog or shop. This is where I jot down ideas for product, future blog posts, middle-of-the-night can’t-sleep-ideas etc.

Anything regarding AfroMartha that I want to note and keep track of goes in this notebook This notebook saved my sanity with the last vending show I did.

Weekly Menu Planning:

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The other notebook is for menu-planning which is a big-time headache saver. One day a week, usually on Sunday I select 7 dinners, one for each night of the next week.

I assign one dinner per night. This dinner is not set in stone. I can switch these around as needed.

Once I’ve chosen the meals, I make my grocery shopping list in the same notebook.  I try to coordinate this with what’s on sale and also try to coordinate similar ingredients. My list includes all groceries for the week, not just what I need for the 7 meals, BTW. I take this notebook with me when I go grocery shopping.

With my meal-planning notebook, I know what I’m making for dinner each night and there’s no last minute scramble upon hearing the words “Mom, what’s for dinner?” This also helps me with knowing when to start prepping the meal. I work every night at my part time “day job” from 7:30pm to 1am. I usually start prepping dinner right around 4pm when the kids are arriving from school, that way we can eat together and I may catch a little nap before I start work (I work from home).

The 13yr old girl (the only other person in this house that would appreciate a cute notebook, made a few of her own for back-to-school. She even got fancy-schmancy and fit the contact paper through the wire spirals of the spiral notebooks.

What can I say, she gets it from her Mama.

NOT. Even I don’t know how she pulled that one off.

Well actually, she says she cut slits at each spiral location and passed the contact paper around the spirals. Nice, huh?

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So there it is, go cute up some cheap and abundant Back to School Notebooks! What’s back to school like in your neck of the woods?

 

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Third On Third Market

I’ve been up to my eyeballs in production! I will be exhibiting at Third On Third Market this Sunday 08/17/14 from 11am-4pm. If you are local to the Miami Valley area of Ohio, please stop by and say hi! I’d sure love to see you. The food trucks will be out, and there’ll be lots of awesome vendors with unique wares.

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Giveaway Time! Pillow Cover and Zippered Pouch

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giveaway_pillowpouchYes, Yes, it is long past do for me to offer the loyal fans and readers of AfroMartha some goodies! Well, wait no more. Announcing the AfroMartha Block Printed Accessories giveaway!

I’m giving away, at once, not 1 but 2 prizes! More chance to win something, yay! You can enter either contest or both.

 

Giveaway 1:

AfroMartha BlockPrinted Accessories Giveaway – 20 x 20 Pillow
Giveway 2:

AfroMartha BlockPrinted Accessories Giveaway – Block Printed Pouch

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Midsummer 2014 and a quick project

I hope your summer has been going well…

It’s been all rain, rain and more rain in my neck of the woods. So much for lazy days spent at the pool or the park. I must confess, I secretly love the not-sticky-icky-muggy summer we’re having. If the weather could be like this year round, that would be perfecto! We did have a few moments of the sun peeking through…like this picture perfect day last week when we met up with some long lost friends…

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And this day, when I took my cute bike out for a spin with my DIY bike basket…

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Although I’ve been light on projects, I did a few small things around la casa… I hope to show more of those later when they actually get completed. The best projects often happen by serendipity, like this one, which my FB & IG folks seemed to really get a kick out of:

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Putting curtains in that doorway is something I’ve thought about on and off for the past couple of years. I never actually did it until I need to block sun glare while making an upcoming video. I put the curtains up and I loved it! So, I didn’t actually use curtains, I used Knoppa twin flat sheets from ikea that I’ve repurposed over and over. I didn’t actually put up a rod (although I plan to in the future) I just tacked them up with thumbacks. I especially love the look of the tie-backs.  I used some strips of leather cording that I already had. So as you can see, adding some drama and flair doesn’t have to cost a fortune!

I’ve been light on projects because I’ve been focusing on the AfroMartha Studio upcoming workshops! The next one is coming up on August 1st, so if you’re in the Dayton Ohio area, make sure to come! Get your tickets here.

So I hope your summer is going well. I’d love to hear all about it!