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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Halloween Horrors

I looove Halloween. Like L.O.V.E. Like, a lot.

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year and this is one of my two favorite holidays. I don't decorate for Valentine's Day or really even Easter, but Halloween ... oh yeah.

I kicked off the festivities last weekend since it was almost October and a family trip to our favorite pumpkin patch really got me in the mood. Ooof, those are some heavy pumpkins.

Anyhow, this year I decided to decorate the mantel and perhaps because I normally use an asymmetrical design, this time tried something symmetrical. To start, I picked up these tall galvanized metal buckets, a "Trick or Treat" banner, ribbon and some Halloweenish ornaments. Everything I selected avoided the more cartoonish type ghosts and creatures, mostly just because that wasn't the vibe I wanted this year. And I'm also the sort of nut who has this guy sitting in her livingroom despite the fact I have two toddlers and a baby. I know, I know, but don't judge. (They actually seem to be immune to my nonsense.)

Back to the supplies...

You'll also see some tall black branches. Those I had in my basement and was no longer using. While they were intended for a taller arrangement in a floor vase, I thought I could just cut them down to size and make a branch-style arrangement for the mantel instead.

Oh, yes, and some little mice silhouettes, most of which went on our large staircase but I saved a few for the mantel too. Thank you Martha Stewart.

First, I tied some ribbon around the tops of the buckets and added the little ornaments in front. Then I filled them with rocks to keep them from tipping over.

Then I placed the sticks inside and headed to the mantel. . 

I draped some holy gauze across and added the banner. Then the buckets went in place, along with a green pumpkin and some larger mice. It's simple but perhaps that's why I like it. 

Once I had that done, I decided to spruce up a sofa table I have in our formal living room. I scrounged up some left over black fabric, extra burlap (still from the darn scarecrow head my husband made last year ... 900 yards of burlap remaining) and added in some skulls and potion bottles. I also took an orange pumpkin like the green one I used in the other room and spray painted it gold. It looks much better and frankly, there's just no end to the things I want to spray paint.


See? So much better. It also goes well with that sign I added in. I saw it at the store and just loved it. So I bought it. I personally recommend looking at alternate ways to use hanging items. This guy hung on a wall might not look great because it's a small sign and the scale will likely be off. But leaning it up against a wall works because the scale is right and it pulls everything together. Or at least I'd like to think so.

So that was last weekend. This week I made some pumpkin cupcakes with a salted caramel butter cream to share with my coworkers (yum yum!) and yesterday I made some treats to take to a birthday party.

Aren't these little guys cute?? These Pinterest-inspired creations are just your everyday rice krispie treats with a little orange food coloring, chocolate covered raisins (someone on Pinterest used Tootsie Rolls) for a stem and some green frosting for the vines. Super easy and a highly-recommend for class room treats!

And then there was today. Mercy, what a week!

Today I began preparations for an upcoming Halloween party we're hosting. I decided I wanted to do a martini bar offering two signature drinks: Ghost in the Graveyard Martini & Twice Bitten Martini. So my buffet has now been transformed and I have containers at the ready to offer some wicked spirits like vampire blood and rat poison. Oooh, delicious!

As you can see we have all sorts of ghoulish items and tasty ingredients prepared here. Well except for the decanter for vampire blood ... you have to get that stuff fresh.

For the martini menus (that host directions), I spray painted some extra frames I had (so they'd also be gold) and printed the ingredient lists on photo paper. I used scrap book supplies to label each one and fabric to cover the buffet. Oh, and love my new candelabra. Scored that baby at Goodwill for $5. Some days I'm just that lucky...

Well that's mostly it. Now I have to turn my attention to costume planning and what not. So many ghastly things to create, so little time ...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Teacher Thank You

Today marks the first official full week of Kindergarten for my oldest child, Malachi. It's hard to believe his first big school year is underway. Thankfully today was a little easier than last week when I put him on the bus for the first time.

I thought I might feel compelled to go up to the bus, crawl up on the bumper and look under the hood, slap the windshield wipers around a little, maybe kick the tires a bit ... you know, make sure everything was in working order. But instead, I wanted to take my son, shrink him up and keep him in my pocket for safe keeping, like forever.

The other option, of course, was to casually follow him up the stairs of his bus, nonchalantly sit next to him, look around and whistle like nothing unusual was happening and then continue to follow him stalker-style for the rest of the day. Oh okay, the rest of his life.

Lucky for him, I was able to restrain myself and opted to cry for the next couple hours instead. But alas, today was a better day. Whew.

Anyhow, the purpose of this post is actually to share a little bit about the "thank you" present we made for his old teachers at his day care center. After all, they cared for him for the last five years and helped bring him to this point so something special was in order.

It all started the night before his final day at his day care center when he suggested we make them a cake. I didn't think I'd have the time with a newborn and all, but when he suggested we just "get up early" to do it, I said okay, let's get baking. After all, I'm up all night with the baby as it is; I didn't need an early morning alarm to tell me to make a cake to boot. Yeeesh.

So, we made this little guy. Just your everyday Number 2 pencil, well, only sweeter.
To get started, we used a simple boxed cake mix in your standard 9"x13" pan.
Next, we whipped up some butter cream frosting. The recipe for that and for the fondant I make can be found here.
Then I cut off an inch of the width on each side of the 9"x13" cake and then cut the large section in half. I stacked those on top to get the general shape of the cake, putting a layer of butter cream in-between.
I then rounded the corners where the eraser would be and cut the other sides to make the point of the pencil. When that was done, I frosted everything and added a layer of yellow fondant.
Looks a bit like a carrot but it just needed some details. The first of which was black fondant for the tip. When that was on I "painted" the wooden part of the tip with brown food coloring.
Then I made a small batch of pink fondant for the eraser. For the metal piece that holds the eraser in place, I decided to use silver sprinkles. I added a strip of butter cream about an inch wide below the eraser and poured sprinkles over it, pressing them in place.
Once the sprinkles were added along with a few details like "No. 2" in black gel icing, it was done.
Malachi was very excited to bring it to school with him and I'm told it was a huge hit (and delicious)!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Updating London's Bedroom: Simple Paint Mural

I've been wanting to revisit the bedroom makeover I did for London last year because it was only a day or two before she had partially destroyed some of my work. Namely, she pealed all the butterfly decals off her wall and the headboard I made never did get secured to the bed frame by my husband.

That left a really bare and boring wall and the brown colored curtains were still there too. Boo.

So, I decided to add some pizazz to that back wall. After all, London keeps asking for her "princess bed" so this room needed more than just a chandelier and some purple. Since a new bed will have to wait and I didn't really want to spend any money, I decided to get thrifty and was able to use some paint to spruce up the room on the cheap. I actually used two old cans from other projects--the wall color we used in the guest room pre-nursery, and one of the wall colors we used for the nursery stripes when it was redone earlier this year.

For quite some time I've been looking at murals and different ideas to add some interest. I really wanted something princessy and thought castles might work. I finally found some inspiration for a silhouette/skyline style mural on Modern Parents Messy Kids but for the life of me can no longer find the link to share. So know this idea was not my own, this is just my interpretation of it.

The original mural (which I think you can purchase somewhere) had some Moroccan style buildings. I wanted the background to be more Cinderella's castle-esk so I decided to change the shapes and just googled a few online to give me some ideas.

To get started, I used a regular pencil and just free handed the outline of buildings in London's kingdom. I went this route because I knew I could wash the pencil off the wall if this project went south, meaning I could abort at anytime.  It might be hard to see here, but this is really all I did.

It was looking pretty decent so I decided to move forward digging up two different paint colors as mentioned earlier. One was an off shade of white and the other a light purple. After I had the original outline for the first line of buildings, I started to roughly paint what would be the top color (white) around the outline. See what I mean below ...

You can start to see the images take shape. I did it this way because our walls have an "orange peal" texture to them and I didn't want to have to get very intricate with a brush when I filled in the white color. In fact, anyone could really do this. If you think I got uber detailed with a fine brush, that's not the case. In fact, I actually used a little roller for the whole thing. This little guy is intended to touch up trim (a must if you have white trim like we do) but it worked well enough to paint the primarily boxy shapes I selected.

After I got this far, it admittedly took me a bit to figure out how to draw a second skyline above the first one that would jive with the paint I put all over. But a few eraser marks later, I had it sketched out. I decided to fill in the white skyline first.

Next was the purple.

Then I moved her bed back, placing it against the wall lengthwise. I want to make a few changes to the bed itself to make it work more like a day bed and hope to add a fabric canopy above it. The table and mirror may also need to move a bit too; they're feeling a bit crowded. For now, this is what it looks like.

Oh and I also had some silky silver curtains that used to be in our guest room before it was converted into a nursery so I brought those over too. They work much better in the space and the whole room feels a bit lighter and brighter.

So, total project cost .... $0! Even better, when my daughter got home and I took her up to surprise her, she just kept saying "it's so beautiful mom!" That and she practically jumped out of her chair when her dad got home so she could take him to her room to show him. Uh huh, I've had a smile on my face all night, doesn't get much better than that!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Front Porch Pick-Me-Up

My front porch has been looking pretty blah and I've been telling my husband for-eva that I want our outdoor spaces to be more room-like. I already have big plans for our backyard but they require some big bucks so that had to wait.

Since I was on a shoestring budget I decided to start with the front porch where we actually spend a fair amount of time since our kids like to play out front so the neighbor kids will come over and join them.

To begin, I took issue with these gray metal chairs (above) which were a carry-over from our last house. I had updated the cushions a year or so ago but they were still reading pretty gray for our brown toned home. And then there were just these lonely planters that recently got some fall mums and two oddly placed outdoor rugs. Weird.

Here's a riveting side view. What a snooze fest.

So say goodbye to gray because these got a coat of brown walnut spray paint that I had been using on a project I did yesterday (a.k.a. disaster-ville, more on that another day). While those were drying I contemplated what to do with the table and the rest of the space.

I decided to make my way down to our basement where I have a stash of things I've bought but have yet to use. A number of these were finds from a place we stumbled on in Door County a year ago. I liked them but had no idea what to do with them so they've been collecting dust.

First I took the little wicker contraption and thought it might make a good replacement for a table. So I tried that with a worn old crate. Emm, too short.

Then I thought to flip the crate over so I could actually set stuff inside and I could get a little added height.
Better. Granted I wasn't entirely sold but there was maybe an ounce of potential. So, little wicker guy went off for a coat of white spray paint and when it was done, I tried placing it between the two chairs. Umm, not quite right. So ... I needed to spray paint the table brown too but I couldn't get the glass out. Plan B: Cover it.

While everything in my spray paint shop was drying, I was surfing around for some inspiration and stumbled across this blog: Our Vintage Home Love. AMAZING. I love her style and found a great idea for a porch curtain; you can get the instructions on her blog, super easy to follow. So I packed up the babe and headed to Home Depot for supplies. (And I really, really want to try those stripes on my porch too ... ooooh, maybe next summer!)

I came home with a 4 foot section of 1/2" PVC pipe, two connectors, two 90 degree elbows and two flange. Flange? Yes, flange. I think...

Anyhow, they all got a coat of the same brown spray paint and when they were done, they looked like this. Cool curtain rod, no? I think it's a super cool idea for an outdoor space.  Thank you Vintage Home Love!

Oh, and the whole way to the store I had been wondering what to do about my cushions. I didn't want to buy new ones but I tried the blue with the brown painted chairs and they weren't working. BUT, as luck would have it, I was heading to the checkout at Home Depot and I spotted two of these cushions. The only two left. They were $10. Used to be $30.  Uh-huh and I was like "HEL-LO ladies"--and then they came home with me.

There weren't any back cushions but oddly enough I had just recovered two indoor pillows for another project (below). That flower pattern was the original cover, and I had selected a soft blue. Then I sewed an envelope style cover that my friend, Rebecca, taught me how to do. I decided I'm going to borrow those from the living room and will simply add an outdoor fabric protectant spray this weekend to waterproof the fabric. Easy enough.

Oh, and I might have also bought this. I don't know why. He just spoke to me. *sigh*
Alright, so then it was time to put it all together. Here's what I did:

1. Move longer rug from front door to chair area. Move smaller rug hanging out before the porch to door. The front door area is now clean and simple (with some mums that need to fill out just a tad).

2. Move wicker/tray table behind chair area. Looked a little odd at first but with a bit of styling, I like it.

3. Ask hubby to hang curtain rod, add curtains and hook with a scrap of burlap to pull them back.
Now they highlight the view...

4. Add a few accessories, cushions and enjoy!

Here's a final before and after.