Something for Mom

Last weekend was Mother’s Day. My mom the outdoorsy nature girl she is had the same request she has every year “I just want to be with my girls and be outside”. I decided to take the reins this year and host a brunch for my family (and now extended family).

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Apparently I really enjoy brunch and may have overdone myself just a little. (Below is one of two food tables.)

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Menu included bagels (with lox), scones via Stone Gable, muffins, fruit salad, Greek salad, spinach and goat cheese frittata via Epicurious, granola, yogurt, berries, and mimosas.

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I set up a table outside (to follow with Mom’s wish) on one of the most spectacular days of the year so far. My mother is a gardener and nature lover so cut flowers are never an option. She prefers hers with roots. I went to the local farm stand and grabbed some plants for centerpieces (which doubled as mommy day gifts) and supplemented with affordable supermarket cut flowers.

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We also FINALLY unpacked our wedding china and were able to use some of it for the first time. Very exciting stuff. I did a mix match of our every day china and our fancy pants china to encourage the casual elegant feel.

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I’m pretty sure the moms were really happy and grateful for the beautiful brunch. They seemed pretty relaxed by the end of it.

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I hope all the mommies out there had an equally relaxing and beautiful mother’s day as these two did.

 

 

 

A Hand Made Valentine

There’s a tradition in my house. Every Valentine’s Day, since the first year I was born I believe, my mother has made my father a home-made Valentine. Always out of construction paper, sometimes with paper doilies, almost always featuring a picture (or 12) from the last year, and progressively more witty/corny as the years pass. We’re talking almost 30 years of hand made cards.

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Valentine Circa 1989 (I’m the shorty on the right)

It’s one tradition my sisters and I always look forward to. Usually pictures of “all of Daddy’s girls” make it into the card. The crowning jewel in the collection is the year we moved into the new house, Mom worked the lyrics of our family theme-song “Once in a Lifetime” by the Talking Heads into the card:

“and you may find yourself in a beautiful house”

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“with a beautiful wife”

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“and you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?”

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Ever since my hubs (what?!? Still so weird to say) and I moved into our apartment I’ve carried on the tradition of making hand-made Valentines. I always look forward to breaking out the construction paper, glitter, scissors, and glue and rifling through the last year of pictures for a theme/idea. Lets just say this year’s is going to be epic (and easily 100 pages long). I can’t post this years just yet (need to keep it a surprise for my Valentine).

One of my favorites from years passed is our 5th Valentine together.

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They aren’t super fancy and polished, but they don’t need to be. Getting down and dirty with old craft skills and slapping something together is sometimes the best way to express your love. It’s also something to cherish forever. These Valentine’s are also great for a last minute “oh no I forgot to get a present!”

What’s Your Numbah, Sugah?

03.01.05 the date that I like to think changed my life forever. It was that date 8 years ago that I met my soul mate and never looked back. We still to this day wish each other “happy anniversary” the first of every month. It has turned into more of a game so many months later who can wish it first and on what media device. (I usually win on all accounts)

03.01.05 are our numbers. Period. Even when we (finally) get married I’m sure we’ll still do something special on the first of March. These numbers were my semi inspiration for a project I’d been dying to do. As seen in a previous post I recovered my blue college apartment pillows to match our red cabinet. Love them. The fabric however was rather summery and just doesn’t work year round.

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Graphic and typography items are popping up everywhere; numbers, letters, quotes. I decided to take our most treasured numbers and create graphic pillows for the living room. The process was easy. Find a font you love, I used the font “Elephant” (should be standard on most PC’s) I really liked the vintage feel of this font; the serifs, the almost hand typed feel if you could call it that.

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Once a font is selected increase the font size, a lot. I think my letters were done at a 60 or 70 point. Print them out, tape or rubber cement the print down to a thicker piece of paper, and cut them out to form a stencil. If you have a steady enough hand I recommend tracing the number/letters with pencil and painting within the pencil lines. You could also use the stencil as a true stencil but I found the paint tends to sneak underneath creating less than graphic crisp lines.

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I used cheap yet thick and sturdy fabric from Ikea, $3.99 for half a yard and typical craft paint $2 in a charcoal gray. You could use a fabric medium if you chose to but I found the paint spread and held just fine, even after washing. I used a graphic red striped fabric (also Ikea) for the reverse side to play with the red accents throughout the room and the vintage graphic feel of the pillow. I used the same pocket hemmed technique illustrated in the previous pillow post, an easy way to create removable pillow covers.

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I really love how they came out and adore that they reflect something so meaningful to us in such a subtle, stylish way.

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PS Happy Anniversary Babe! 8 years (AAAHHHHH!!) Time really flies when you’re having the time of your life. Looking forward to many more adventures together. Love you!

What I Bought on my Summer Vacation

As mentioned in a previous post, we ventured to the center of New York State for a family reunion. On our way home through back country roads, we happened upon a little antique shop on a corner, a corner that held my ‘chair destiny’. Wrapped around the building was a multitude of dining chairs on display. Big ones, wood ones, ladder backs, 50’s vintage, and 2 mid century modern beauties. As my head craned and almost detached, eagle eyes locked on my dreams quickly moving out of view I shrieked at my future hubs, “aahhh! Stop! Reverse! U-turn! Chairs. Dream chairs. Please U turn. About face! HUURRRYYY!” I think I straight up stopped forming sentences mid way through my spazz out. A U-turn he did make and chair destiny we did fufill.

Oh yes. And it gets better. We checked them out, 1 leg looked a little wobbly (and by wobbly I mean basically detached), the wood finish was flaking, and the seat fabric wasn’t my dream BUT the lines were perfect and exactly what I’ve been looking for for almost 2 years. I’m sure I looked extra lovingly into Mr. Fabulous’s eyes with that “I absolutely can’t live without these” look and he agreed, they were pretty snazzy. ***upon proof reading Future Hubs would like the record to state that “pretty snazzy” was not in his vocabulary that day*** As we carried them around the corner to chat with the owner, I prepared my haggling brain. “So how much are we willing to spend? I’m thinking like $20 a chair tops.” Mr. Fabulous didn’t totally agree as one was breaking, he was thinking $15 and $10 for the slightly damaged one. I heard where he was coming from but still after searching forever for chairs this fabulous I was set on $40 for the pair max.

We found the owner, told him we were interested in the chairs and asked for a price. He shifted his stance and said “oh I dunno, $10 for the pair?”
….

(pause for dramatic effect)….

….

“SOLD! I’ll grab my cash!”

I don’t know how I didn’t kiss this man. Dream chairs for $5 a piece. I kid you not the exact chairs in New York City would easily have been $20-25 each. Got to love being in the country.

I will confess the chair leg fell off as we were loading it into the car but I didn’t care. A little wood glue and all would be fine. Needless to say these beauties are my next little project and I can not wait. A play by play on the rehab is soon to come. Basic goal is fix the leg, sand down, re-stain, recover the seats, and enjoy.

Did any of you find a must have house item this summer? Freak out on your significant other over chairs of destiny? Let me know! I love hearing your stories.

The Mitten Tree

While trying to fill some space on my autumn gallery wall(I promise I will post how to hang a gallery wall super super super soon) I happened upon this print on Etsy by O’Reilly Ink. I really enjoyed the simplicity of the piece but wasn’t crazy about the colors. Plus I didn’t feel passionately about any of the tree species featured.

I decided to create a knock off print based on the design concept but featuring colors and subjects I was more into.

I selected the Sassafras tree as my study subject. If you are not aware of the amazingness of this tree it’s also lovingly called the Mitten Tree. Scientifically it’s the only deciduous tree that produces 3 different shaped leaves (at least the only one in the North East/North America).

There is also a fairy tale version “How the Sassafras Tree (or Mitten Tree) Got its Leaves” (as best remembered by yours truly)

Once upon a time there was a little old lady who had a cabin in the woods. Winter was coming so she decided to make some mittens. She finished her first mitten and realized she forgot the thumbs.

So she threw that pair out her window. The following day she tried again to make a pair of mittens this time she knitted too many thumb holes so out the window that pair went.

Finally the following day she knitted the perfect pair of mittens. Thumb holes in the right places, plenty of room for fingers.

She went to bed that night proud of her work. She woke up the next morning to find a mouse scurrying out of the cabin with her perfect mittens. Luckily she remembered how to make the proper pair and didn’t think much of the mouse, hoping the mittens would keep him warm. Winter came and went and the little old lady had warm hands all winter long. Then it was time for Spring which brought on the usual chirping birds, blooming flowers, and a remarkable new tree outside of the old lady’s cabin. A tree which was growing right outside the window she threw all her failed mittens out of. Now, what made this tree remarkable was it’s leaves reflected all the mittens she made over the last winter.

And that my friends is the story of the Mitten Tree.

So, anyway, this is a story I grew up with and a tree I always look for when out and about. This tree I decided shall be my muse. Creating the artwork is pretty easy, anyone with mild artistic talent and computer skills should be able to pull it off.

First dust off your pencils and sketch the leaf (leaves) of your choice. You could probably trace the leaf if that makes you more comfortable. Once you’re happy with your sketch grab a thin tipped Sharpie or other black inked pen. Outline the leaves and add a few veins for good measure.

Once the sketching is done and outlining is complete scan it into your computer. I used Photoshop however even Paint would do the trick. Open the scan up and use the paint bucket tool to fill in the fields with whatever color you desire. Finally find a fun free hand font and add the genus, species, and common name to the graphic. Print that sucker up slap it in a frame and admire your amazing artistic skills.

Yay cheap and easy diy artwork!

Just like Two Kids in Love

Time for a little lovey dovey super simple date night idea. Since The Fiance and myself are basically on opposite schedules most days we cherish a night together, especially one that receives the coveted title of “Date Night”.

There’s no reason Date Night needs to mean little black dress fancy restaurant and dropping easily $100 for one romantic evening together. Sometimes you want to behave like two little school kids, complete with mac and cheese and blanket forts.

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That’s right it was a pj totin’, “Goonies” watchin’, blanket fort buildin’ kind of date. (Really is there any better movie to watch in a blanket fort than “The Goonies”?) Building balnket forts as adults is basically a million billion times cooler than 6 year old blanket fort building mainly because couches can be turned on end and moved around for optimal fort awesomeness. We also incorporated Christmas lights for a more romantic ambiance.

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The Mac and Cheese was probably the best home made style I’ve ever had. Recipe was thanks to Pottery Barn. I highly recommend you all to give it a whirl. The cheeses I used included Parmigiano Reggiano, Gouda, Montery Jack, and White Cheddar. I also used French’s Dijion Mustard with Chardonnay Wine, I secretly think that mustard choice added the amazing flavor.

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It was probably one of the best dates the two of us ever had. No cares, no worries, just an excellent youthful movie and a kid favorite all grown up dinner. Did I mention dessert was brownie sundaes with rainbow sprinkles?

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Yeah that’s right. We don’t mess around in this house. I highly recommend a regress-ful date night (or afternoon). Acting like a kid is some of the most fun an adult can ever have. And best part of blanket forts in your own grown up apartment? No “Dad” shows up at 5 from work saying “alright, looks like you had fun today now take it down.” That sucker was up for easily a week of enjoyment.

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Custom Up my Buttons Baby

You are ALL welcome for getting that award winning song in your head. (Obnoxiously catchy pop music by sexually suggestive named groups anyone?)

In an upcoming post I’ll be divulging you all with my first ever recovered furniture piece. A tufted upholstered bench that lives at the foot of our bed. A bench, I might add, that was plucked from the garbage. Got to love free.

The first (and easiest) step of recovering the garbage picked bench was creating covered buttons to match the new fabric. A quick trip to Joann’s landed me a pack of buttons for covering complete with the covering tools. I believe the kit cost $4 for 10 buttons.

Directions found on the back of the box were very straight forward. First use the fabric template to trace the pattern onto the desired fabric. Step 2, cut around the traced circle.

Step 3 assemble the fabric, button, button back, and circle tool for hammering, then hammer the set up into place. I found it was easiest to kind of push everything together by hand just enough so it stayed in place and then hammer it in for good.

After a few good taps remove the freshly made button from the assembly, give it a push or two for good measure and get pumped that you have made custom fabric covered buttons in no time flat.

Chalk Board and Chicken Wire

Even though we’re currently a small family of 2 (with no plans on expanding any time soon) we still have a lot on our plates. From fire house activities to family gatherings we can be a pair of busy bees. I’m a rather organized gal and when I feel lost in a sea of information you know there’s a project right around the corner to fix things.

Our “message center” was pretty pitiful; a calendar strategically hung to block the fuse panel in the kitchen. I wanted more. Places to jot notes, see the month at a glance, hang important info, pictures, gift cards so we don’t forget to use them. I wanted an impressive fully functioning (and pleasing to the eye) message center that all the cool Mom’s get.

After stalking a few ideas on Pinterest (beyond obsessed with that site) I made my decision. Chicken wire bulletin board with chalk board doodling counter part.  Love the idea of listing menus for the week or happy notes to my significant other who at times can be 100% opposite schedule.

Chicken Wire Inspiration Board

from forageddesign.com

We changed a few parts of our design to include a frame and a fabric back (to hide the ugly electric panel). Construction for the chicken wire board was pretty straight forward. Well, after working out the kinks and a few failed attempts it ended up being straight forward. For the chicken wire board cut:

  • cut chicken wire to desired size (including width of trim)
  • For us, we wanted to cover a semi unsightly electrical panel so we also cut a piece of fabric (muslin) to the same desired size as the chicken wire.
  • Cut trim pieces to fit; miter for nice 45 degree joints.
  • Square up trim and fasten with glue and scary looking metal wood joiners. Let dry.
  • Create a sandwich of trim-chicken wire – fabric face down on a flat surface.
  • Add one staple in the center of one side of the back.
  • Add staple on the opposite side.
  • Continue around with 1 staple, centered on other 2 sides.
  • continue to pull/stretch fabric around on all sides. (Working out from center staple out mirroring on opposite sides)
  • Flip over and hang with everyone’s favorite no hole hangers (command hooks)

For the chalk board, we used leftover extra thin plywood from our floating dining room shelves and more trim. This time we used a little fancier trim with a little more of a revile. Cut the plywood to desired size, trim to match. Miter fasten with glue and staples and bam. Ready to go. I do recommend doing all painting before assembly. It at least made my life easier.

Let’s just say I am darn happy with our new super organized and rather stylish message center. Also for the super thrifty lad or lady, free calendars can be stunning when folded in half (blocking the ugly UPS picture) and adding your own picture above.

Oh the Places We’ve Been!

I’ve come to realize I really enjoy maps. They are so fascinating. Cities, towns, lakes, rivers although all discovered not all discovered by yours truly. I catch myself staring at them for hours. Thinking about how long it would take me to drive to San Francisco if I fly to Portland. (I mean it’s like RIGHT there relative to Jersey)  I’ve also come to realize I enjoy travel more than I once thought. This combination fueled a fun and forever evolving project.

Upon a semi recent trip to my wonderful college roomie’s house I got pretty jealous she beat me to the punch.  Over at Creating Confidence you can see roomie’s version of her “travel map”.

Because Mr. Fiance and myself have really only ventured to the greater Americas we started simple with a map of North and Central America. I found a really nice vintage map from the 1960’s with gorgeous coloring. Little bit of spray glue, foam core board, and skills from Art School I mounted the map so I had something to pin into.

I then took a quick trip to Office Depot, grabbed some map pins and hurried home. The colors left a lot to be desired. (White, Black, Red)

Quick can of spray paint and I fixed that problem

Future Hubs and I decided that rather than just including trips we went on together we would also include trips we’ve gone alone. Pink represents my travels, blue his, and white is where we’ve been together.

I’m still working on a frame to enclose the whole project but for now it’s just fine hanging raw. He may have significantly more pins West of the Mississippi but I’ve got the East coast dead and buried. He’s got me beat on furthest North, Canada, but I’ve traveled way closer to the equator than he has, Nicaragua. It’s also exciting to see how many white (us) trips we’ve taken.

The most exciting thing about this slightly lovey dovey project is how it will always be evolving. Removing a pink or a blue pin to replace with a white one, adding a new color once our traveling changes from “us” to “all of us” (ie potential future family trips) Just look at all that blank yet to be pinned and conquered map. Looking forward to hitting all 50 states and further.

A True “Shower”

The moment you all have been waiting for, the bridal shower to end all bridal showers. Last weekend was my very good friend Melissa’s Bridal Shower. Very good friend doesn’t quite sum up what this girl means to me.

Us reuniting at the start of Sophomore Year

Quick back store. We met late August, 2003 in a roughly 8’x15′ cell dorm room. Actually our names met before that. Call it fate or divine intervention the computer roommate generating program at good old RIT thankfully paired me with my roommate-soul mate. For 4 years we lived together (this includes the year I had a single and Mis had a triple on the same floor). We laughed together, cried together, did copious amounts of laundry together and ate way more raw cookie dough than 2 girls should consume in their lifetime.

Apparently I paid my dues over those four glorious years together since Melissa found it fit to make me her Maid of Honor in her upcoming wedding this August. Beyond honored and touched doesn’t sum up how I feel about this rather hefty duty she has bestowed on me. Part of my Honoree duties included planning the bridal shower 🙂 Oh that’s right. I pintrested the hell out of that shower. (I know, none of you saw that coming.)

The bridal party (all 9 of us) agreed on a “theme”: summer garden party reflecting the wedding colors of yellow and blue. I called dibs on decorations and went to work. my pinterest board sums up what I was looking for. Fresh, pretty, and fun.

First I made buntings following instructions from Crafete. A description can be found here.

I also made 12″ diameter real working pinwheels to line the driveway and highlight the guest of honor’s table. More on that mini saga here.

Here’s a shot of the tent before we all worked our magic:

another shot of the tent in set up progress:

and completed with everyone really enjoying the stylish party:

The flower arrangements were a mini labor of love. Inspired by cut lemon centerpieces which are floating around pinterest. We attempted our own version. The Bride’s Mama bought super market flower bunches for $40. Then the Matron of Honor and I arranged the flowers and man handled the lemons to create these beauties:

We also went kind of “eco-chic” by borrowing the table runners from a bridesmaid who happened to get married the weekend before and candle holders and plate chargers borrowed from another friend of the family’s wedding. They all helped to add a stunning touch of elegance to the whole affair for a no cost to us price tag.

I still can’t get over how amazing everything came together. Everyone involved busted butt to get things together and I can’t thank each and every one of you enough for embracing my crazy dreams. The Bride most certainly loved everything. It was well worth the work.

The party itself went swimmingly. Literally. While the day started out sunny and summery it ended showery, rainny, windy, tornado warning-y, did I mention it rained? Like, a lot. Like flash flood conditions for 45 minutes lot.

It most certainly made for a memorable shower including (but not limited to) the entire party running for the house using the tablecloths as umbrellas.

All we could say was The Bride received enough inclement weather at wedding related events that we should be all clear, and all smiles, for a sunny and fabulous wedding.