Easy, DIY bookshelf sign {for only $5}


Ideas are always popping up in my head, but the execution of those ideas it what often prevents me from making the ideas happen. If I don’t have the tools or materials, the idea gets put on hold.

But today was a lucky day! I had an idea this morning AND I had the materials.

This is SO easy and I want to try making this type of sign in various ways, but I really like how this turned out for a first edition.

What you’ll need:

-A canvas (look at the dollar store or if you’re in Germany, I get mine at Action or Nanu)
-A black sharpie
-A printer

Directions:

1) Look for a design on pinterest or anywhere online that you want to re-create. It can be watermarked and even fuzzy. It’s going to be traced.

2) Print the design and tape it to the back of the canvas. Then hold the canvas up to a window and trace the design with a sharpie.

3) I used a fat tip sharpie. Depending on the design, a thin sharpie might work best for tracing.

4) Then color it all in!


That’s it! Really easy. I don’t love how my arrows look, so I may re-do this. But I kinda have a thing for imperfection anyway 🙂

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Some see a weed, some see a wish {Before/After Using Annie Sloan}

Have you ever heard that quote about a Dandelion? One person can look at a Dandelion as a pesky weed and another person can look at the exact same Dandelion as an opportunity to make a wish. I feel like that describes me with DIY projects. I see the weed, but I also the the potential to make a wish! A lady was selling this “Dandelion” for $20! She bought it at a Troc (a Goodwill type of store in France) and didn’t have the time to give it any love.

It’s hard to tell in the picture, but this thing is pretty big! I’m still not sure what to label this piece as. A hutch? A buffet table? I really don’t know. It’s two pieces and it the bottom piece could probably be used as a bench on it’s own.

I wanted to share the technique I used to paint this. Having used chalk paint before, I knew I didn’t want a solid matte finish. I wanted there to be some character. It was all just an experiment and what I liked about painting with Annie Sloan and this technique, is that if I didn’t like the coverage or look it was easy to alter.

Materials:
-Annie Sloan French Linen
-Brown acrylic paint
-White acrylic paint
-Bowl of water
-Paper plate or bowl for mixing
-Microfiber rags
-Annie Sloan clear wax
-I used an Annie Sloan paint brush and wax brush

*Note: this isn’t a tutorial. More of a guide to share a different way to use chalk paint. If it’s your first time doing a paint project, check out pinterest for some great beginners tutorials.

Steps:
1.  In a bowl, I poured some of the chalk paint and mixed with water (I started with about 50% water and 50% chalk paint). It thins the paint out, which I like since it is pretty thick! I painted on two coats with this mixture.

2. Once the paint was dry, I lightly sanded with a fine grit sand paper.

3. Since I wanted undertones of whites and browns, the technique I used was:

WAX
PAINT
RUB and WIPE

I waxed each area right before painting. Then, on a paper plate I mixed water (75% with brown and white acrylic paints). This is where the experimenting comes in. I used more water and less paint because I wanted the colors to be more subtle.

I painted the mixture onto the waxed area and then immediately used a microfiber cloth to blend the colors; using a back on forth motion. Any excess water, I just wiped off.

If there was too much brown or too much white, I just wiped it completely off. Some areas I had to start the process over….. repaint with the French Linen color and wax again. I liked that it was ok to make mistakes and experiment. In the picture below, you can see the difference of a solid paint versus the adding colors. The drawer on the left was still wet.I wanted some of the natural wood to peak through, so I didn’t do a full coverage in all areas. But I absolutely LOVE how this technique turned out.

The AFTER:

Amazing what some paint can do, right?! Still have some finishing touches to do, but overall it was a quick and easy project and one of my favorite pieces of furniture.

Since I had most materials and just had to get some more chalk paint and wax, the total cost for this piece was about $50! See what happens when you see a wish? 🙂

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Sledding in Oberreifenberg near Frankfurt/Wiesbaden

Oberreifenberg (To get there, I just put in “Oberreifenberg” into my GPS. )
Cost: Totally free!

Overview: Several sledding hills ranging from slow and gradual to VERY steep. Lots of space, even with big crowds. There were beginners with snowboards and skis, though primarily sledders. In the forest, there were plenty of places for cross-country skiing. Nearby were a few restaurants, but check hours before going. There were also two stands selling snacks. Best idea is to bring a picnic, which is what most people did. Don’t forget the thermos for hot cocoa, tea or even gluhwein!

Parking was free, but very limited in the parking lot. Best bet is to park in one of the neighborhoods and walk over. Also, I did not notice any public bathrooms or porto-potties.

There were a few hills en route to Oberreifenberg and we almost stopped, but so glad we kept on going! Even though it’s such a short distance from Weisbaden/Frankfurt these neighborhoods had much more snow because of their higher elevation

NOTE: Although the main roads were pretty clear for us, I imagine they would likely be hazardous before sand trucks/plows.


Before we got to the parking lot, we saw several cars that were parking in the neighborhoods and walking. Since the side roads were heavily snow packed, we decided to park on a street and walk in the same direction as everyone else. So glad we did because the parking lot was FULL and a huge mess when we were leaving later.

TIP: If going on a weekend or holiday, park on a side street in one of the nearby neighborhoods.

Even if you get there early, when leaving it will be much easier to get out. There were A LOT of people.


It’s hard to tell in the photo above, but this was actually a really BIG hill. Even with all these people, it still felt like enough space to sled and no one was really running into each other. This was the first main hill upon arriving.

It was a perfect hill. Long and steady! It might depend on the amount of snow and people that have “plowed” some hills, but today there were about 6 or 7 sledding areas.

This was one of the steeper hill that also had bumps.

Sledding in Oberreifenberg from Rebecca Hausfrau Maven on Vimeo.

Another area was in between the trees. Although it was beautiful, I was more concerned on this hill that a kid might steer off into a tree.

Sledding near Frankfurt from Rebecca Hausfrau Maven on Vimeo.

Most people had sleds like these:

How cute are they?? Adults pulled the kiddos around on them and I saw 3-4 people sitting on one and going down together…toboggan style. Our round disk sled was super fast, but it did end up breaking by the end of the day.

Overall, it was a very fun and FREE winter family day!

Local friends-have any other good sledding spots? Please share in the comments!
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Amalfi Coast in 3 Days (WITH KIDS)

It’s January. And it’s cold. And it’s snowy here in Germany. It’s such a cozy day to be cuddled up in my home and I’m spending it daydreaming about warm beaches and sunshine. Today, I want to whisk you away with me to the Italian Mediterranean. Specifically the region of the Amalfi Coast. Last summer, my family and I spent three incredible days exploring Amalfi, Positano, Ravello and Capri.

I will be sharing tips, recommendations and our full itinerary in the coming weeks, but for the first part of this series I want to simply share the dreaminess of it all. Grab a cup of coffee (or glass of wine depending on what time it is) and let your wanderlust take over.

Starting with our apartment in Furore, Italy. Furore is less convenient than staying in Amalfi, Sorrento or Positano. BUT because it is higher up, you get sweeping views….like this.

Falling asleep and walking up to views of the ocean was surreal.

Even more so because this Italian family owned apartment was only 90 euro PER NIGHT!

 

Three bedroom, two bath apartment with million dollar views.

Even the kitchen had views.

 SWOON.

We quickly adapted to Italian culture and enjoyed our new hobby of drinking wine on the balcony each night.

And lemoncello homemade by the owners of the apartment we stayed in, Luigi and Lydia.

Again, staying in Furore isn’t the most convenient, but it is GORGEOUS and an adventure. You have to have a car. Which means driving along the windy, NARROW, curvy roads. It is as incredibly insane as everyone says. People zip around the corners and they drive FAST. I thought we were doing to die. Several times.

Even our GPS looked dizzy 🙂

But I figured if we did die, this would be the last thing we saw.

Our first day was spent exploring Positano. We took the ferry from Amalfi to Positano (quicker and easier than bus).

Most people push, shove and rush to the top of the ferry. We sat on the bottom, towards the back and had some pretty amazing views!
Can you believe this place is REAL?

*Pinch me*

What makes this place EVEN MORE gorgeous is the fact that your surrounded by people speaking Italian.

Positano was very crowded. But I think that amplified the ambiance.

I kind of regret not having a better camera with me. These iphone pictures don’t do this place any justice.

 I wish we could share smells with pictures. Why isn’t that a thing yet? It should be a thing. But for now, just imagine the freshest, yummiest floral smell. If pretty had a smell, these flowers would be it.

After a day of exploring Positano we headed back to our apartment and relaxed in the sunshine for a few hours. My mom was with us and so we had a babysitter one night! Next to our apartment was a fancy ish restaurant, so hubs and I decided to check it out.

Date night outfit 🙂

GORGEOUS views from Baca restaurant in Furore, Italy

Day two, we headed to the Isle of Capri.

As soon as you get off the ferry, you are swarmed by guys trying to sell you boat tours. We decided to go for it. For 3-4 ish hours you can get a private boat tour. Depending on your guide, some will includes towels, drinks and a light snack (or you can bring your own). Total cost for 5 of us was $150. Not bad for a private island boat tour!

Our skipper, which I regretfully didn’t get a picture of of, was an older mafia style guy. I mean, he ruled the water. When we got to the Blue Grotto AFTER several other boats were there first, he pushed his way first and no one said anything. HA! We were on a boat in the middle of the ocean with an Italian gangster! 🙂

We stopped to swim in the ocean.

But mostly we just lounged in the sun. On a boat. In the middle of the Italian Mediterranean. Listening to Frank Sinatra…ha!

This sounds weird, but laying in the hot sun is exhausting and makes you hungry! So after a few hours at sea, it was time for lunch. There are so many little cafes everywhere and we just sat at the first one we saw.

I ordered Caprese, OF COURSE, since Capri is where this dish originates from.

And also an incredible pesto pasta dish.

After lunch it was time for shopping and exploring the town!


Several markets were selling fresh, giant lemons. The lemons ARE HUGE in Capri.

We ended our afternoon at a beach before heading back to our apartment.

Day three was probably my favorite place in all of Italy. Ravello.

If you ever go to Ravello, there are two famous gardens to visit.

YOU MUST GO TO BOTH OF THEM.

They are each unique and offer different, but surreal views.
We almost didn’t do both. DO BOTH Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo.

These pictures are of Villa Rufolo.

I don’t have words for this place. But hopefully the pictures say enough.

And here are the views from Villa Cimbrone.

And a few more photos just walking around Ravello.

This was the trip of a lifetime. In the next series of posts I’ll be sharing tips and details of where we stayed and how got around. Plus this was just part of our trip. I can’t wait to share our adventure exploring the ancient city of Herculaneum, highlights of our night in Rome and details about visiting Florence during peak travel season.
Have a specific question about traveling to these places? Connect with me on Instagram or Facebook!

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How-to write evenly (and neatly) on a chalkboard

chalkboardletters

 

Over the weekend, I finished a DIY chalkboard project and it was one of my favorite types of projects. EASY, quick and I learned something new. I was determined to have pretty words. Even though I’ve tried to free-hand the type, it never ever looked polished. So glad I found a trick on pinterest to write neat, perfectly spaced words with chalk!

There are several tutorials on pinterest and I kind of hodge podged a few together. Most either used word or illustrator for their typography, but I decided to create my words with canva.com They have a great selection of fonts, most of which are free. I created a custom dimension project using 8.5″ x 11″ dimensions. IF I had legal sized paper, I would’ve done that because it would be less work trying to align the larger letters (see Autumn).

First I printed the letters and words, cut them out and laid them out.

1

After having a general idea of where the letters/words would I go, I then turned each piece of paper over and rubbed it with chalk. Just nice and easy, making sure the entire letter/word was covered.

chalkletter

 

Then, I turned the paper over and adjusted the letters/words as needed. I was worried about the chalk rubbing off if I moved the letters/words, but it didn’t really come off. Once I had the paper placed, I traced each letter/word with a sharp pencil. I pressed hard enough to ensure the chalk would press down onto the board.

chalkboard

I then filled in the traced letters/words. I learned an awesome tip from Joanna Gains…sharpen your chalk! I just used some scissors to cut a tip. Made a HUGE difference.
img_5349chalk

It’s easy to clean up any mistakes; just wet a qtip and erase any chalk dust or imperfections. Or keep it imperfect and let it have that homemade, rustic charm 🙂

sign

A big part of creating a home is the patience (so, so , so much patience).  I’ve learned patience is an easier virtue to sit with when you replace the anxious desire to reach the end with gratitude for where you currently are on your journey. Last week I posted a picture on instagram of my entryway.  My “this is really plain and unappealing, but I’m glad I even have a home” entryway.

Today, I’m reminding myself to be patient and grateful. This is my entryway, exactly as is this morning. It’s not much to look at. It’s lacking the warm, cozy and creative vibe I want it to have. Scrolling through Instagram has me feeling inspired, but also that my space isn’t “enough”. In yoga, I learned that you shouldn’t compete with anyone but yourself. We are each on a different journey and different place in our lives and so some of us can do a headstand while others can barely touch their toes. The important thing is that you’re showing up with a grateful heart to practice. I’m reminding myself about balance. The balance between inspiration and gratitude. I’m inspired about all the ways I can transform this space, but also grateful I even have a space. I have a safe home and my family and our health. I have enough. We just moved in 6 months ago. We sold everything we owned just a year ago and are starting over. This is where I’m at. I’m showing up, touching my toes 🙂 . . . #motivationmonday #inspiredhome #cozyhome #makehomeyours #expatlife #gyspylife

A photo posted by Rebecca Wright (@hausfraumaven) on

 I feel like this space is getting closer to that cozy feel and I’m enjoying the journey to get this area finished.

And a BONUS….. I now have a reminder/affirmation for the next month about how beautiful change can be!

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IKEA hack: Easiest kitchen island ever (seriously)

kitchen-island
My German kitchen is cute. It’s bright, updated and all neutral.

BUT.

It’s small. As is, there’s not much counter or storage space.

That was the first challenge. The second challenge was that when chopping and prepping food, I would have to have my back to the dining/living area. It’s a subtle thing, but I feel like I’m less closed off if I can look out at my home versus a wall.

I came across the idea of using an IKEA Kallax shelf as a kitchen island on pinterest. Since I already had a white shelf, this project was really cheap (about $40). But you could purchase all the materials needed at IKEA for about $82 brand new!

Products/materials needed for this project:

-Kallax shelf
-Legs (5″-6″)/screws
Lamplig cutting boards (2)
-Drill
-Hot glue gun

Here’s how I did it:

1) For the legs, I followed this tutorial:

The legs I bought already included a plate and IKEA.com has some similar ones for $12.99 (for 4) here: stainless steel legs
I found that a height between 5-6 inches was ideal to create a counter height island

2) Once the legs were attached, I laid out the cutting boards on top of the shelf BEFORE gluing. When I had them both where I wanted, I lifted the first one off and set it aside. I then squeezed the hot glue across the top half of the kallax shelf and then placed the cutting board on top. And then repeated with the second shelf. NOTE* I have the milled groove of the cutting boards facing DOWN. They are also at the FRONT of m kitchen island.

And that’s it! So easy! I love how versatile this project can be. If you have a larger kitchen, you could make two of these shelf units and put them together. Instead of baskets, you could insert drawers or shelves. And if you want to get really fancy, you could add prettier looking legs. It really is an easy, customizable project.

Also, if you don’t have an IKEA near you, try looking at Target or Amazon.com for a 4 cube shelf. The Lamplig cutting board is sold on amazon.com, but costs about double.

Let me know in the comments if you end up trying this hack!

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DIY (ish) Faux Fireplace

img_4411

My first post! Starting it off with one of the easiest and coolest projects I’ve ever done. One of the biggest challenges with living in a rental is trying to customize the space, temporarily. Projects need to be portable and can’t involve altering the structure of the home.

This faux fireplace took me a few months to piece together. The fireplace surround (kamin konsole in German) was purchased on ebay.de and was pretty bare bones and basic.

fireplacebefore

It was in need of a hearth and a background of some sort. I planned on making the hearth with wood, but ended up using a door that broke off my daughter’s wardrobe. It fit perfectly!

fireplacehearth

I then painted the top part of the mantle with brown acrylic paint from the craft store and applied some milk paint wax to seal it (it’s all I had on hand).

mantle

It was getting closer to being finished, but the biggest challenge was the back (or the lack thereof). I’m not experienced enough with tools to know how to cut brick, so real brick wasn’t an option. The faux brick wallpaper didn’t have the realness I was wanting. And so it sat like this for a about a month.
One day I decided to look on pinterest for more ideas and I came across this DIY Faux Brick Panel by CraftPassion. She used styrofoam! I didn’t have a smoldering iron nor a Polystyrene Foam cutter and wasn’t able to find the Make it Stone! paint she used for her project….but I still tried it anyway and I think it turned out pretty awesome!


You only need a few tools and materials to create this panel and if you don’t already own them, they are pretty cheap to buy. For me, this project cost $12!

Here are the tools and materials I used:

materials

-A sheet of styrofoam that is 3/4″ thick (It was 1.99 euro for one sheet at the German hardware store Hornbach) and the sheet size was 39.5″ x 19.5″
-Black spraypaint
-A ruler
-Handsaw
-Pencil
-Wood glue or similar
-Wood panel (size depends on your project)
-Safety goggles

*Note: DO NOT use superglue, like I have pictured here. It WILL MELT the styrofoam…lesson learned! Also, I did not use wood as the backing for my styrofoam bricks. No one spoke english at this store and I shamefully don’t speak any useful German, so I wasn’t able to ask anyone to cut the wood to size for me. So I improvised and used this really thick and sturdy material found in the insulation area. I think you can get creative with using a backing because the syrofoam is so light. Again, just be cautious of the glue!

  1. Using a pencil and ruler, measure and draw your bricks. I decided to make my bricks 2″ tall by 6″ wide.
    measure
  2. Then, carefully begin to saw along your lines. It’s okay if the edges are jagged and not totally even and also if the bricks aren’t the exact same size. Once they’re painted you can’t even tell and in fact I think it gives it a more real look. Also, if some pieces break while you’re cutting, keep them for the edge pieces!I suggest wearing safety goggles because pieces go EVERYWHERE. It’s pretty messy, but cleanup was easy…just use a hose vacuum for the small pieces. I’m guessing the Polystyrene Foam cutter might be cleaner, but I was just happy the handsaw worked at all.
    messy
  3. After you’ve cut enough pieces, lay them out and stagger them like you would bricks. Notice how many of the bricks are different sizes and uneven. Just try to make sure the spacing is even.
    Lay the first row of bricks out.
    For the next row, start with a smaller piece (about half size brick..see photo)
    Then for the next row, start with the regular size brick again. Repeat the pattern,
    bricks
  4. Once all the pieces are laid out, you can begin gluing them on, one-by-one. Let the bricks dry for at least a few hours before spray painting.
  5. For the first coat of spray paint, stand back 8″-12″ and move in a fast back and forth motion. The spray paint DOES melt the styrofoam a little. BUT it gives them a very cool effect and I think that’s why I didn’t need the smoldering iron. That’s why it’s important to spray a bit further back and in a quick back and forth motion. Try to cover as much of the bricks as possible. After 30 ish minutes, apply the second coat and get in between the spaces as much as possible. You’ll notice the sytrofoam start to shrink a bit, so be sure to use caution one how much is being affected. I still had some spots that weren’t covered and am going to use some black paint to touch up.What was really cool about the spray paint is that some of the white still peaks through! It makes the brick look like it’s been used before, giving it a more real look. It was a total accident, but worked perfect!
    It’s STILL not finished because I want to add another frame around the front part, but for now I’m pretty happy with the before and after.
    beforeafter
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