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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.



Monday, August 20, 2012

Baptism Update

Well the little nugget was baptized this weekend and it was a wonderful day. We got to share the service and a post-baptism brunch with our family and our two great sponsors, Matt and Jeff.

Since we kept the celebration small, I took a smidge of time to add a few small touches to make Beckham's celebration special. The first being some dressed up brunch napkins to honor what the day was all about. I think dressing up something simple like this is a quick and easy way to add something a little "extra" to any occasion.

In this case, some scrapbook paper, ribbon and scrapbook stickers (cute little lambs/sheep) were all that were needed.

I used my hole punch to make a little circle, added the sticker and then threaded some ribbon. Wrapped around some baby blue napkins, they were a cute addition to our brunch spread.

I also used lollipop sticks and some simple blue ribbon to make donut holes something fun. My older kids couldn't wait to get home to have one of these (who knew a donut hole could be exciting?)!

I also picked up a few mums in white and blue and did a couple simple arrangements. Mums are so easy to arrange and they'll keep forever!

My overall thought for the day was to keep things simple. I didn't want anything outrageous or overdone, just a simple nod to what this day was all about. In keeping with that, our celebration included a simple, make-ahead brunch menu that (with the help of my amazing mother) was relatively painless--and delicious.


Dressed up donut holes
Pastries (store bought)
Fresh Fruit
Bagels and bagel chips served with veggie bagel dip
Egg Casserole
Overnight Caramel French Toast (my and my kids' s big favorite, recipe below)
Make-ahead Very Berry French Toast Casserole 

And of course, all this to honor the new little man in my life, little B (a.k.a. Beckham). His simple onesie was not the dressiest outfit between the two little boys that were baptized this weekend, but when the mother next to me was fixing and pulling at her sons new white tux that wouldn't stay in place, I knew I had made the right decision for us!

Special thanks to the Block, Binder, Ripple and Buska families who made this day so special for us!

The main event...

Post blessing snooze (fell asleep in Pastor's arms and stayed that way in daddy's)...

Wake up and eat sister's face. Is brunch ready yet??

Overnight Caramel French Toast 
(Adapted from Taste of Homes)

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 Tbsps light corn syrup
1 loaf French bread
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Chopped pecans (optional)

Grease a 9 x 13" baking dish. Slice french bread into 1 to 1 1/2" thick slices. In a small saucepan, bring brown sugar, butter and corn syrup to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Pour into greased baking dish, sprinkle pecans over dish and immediately add slices of bread on top, working into caramel mixture. When all big pieces are in place (right next to each other) cut smaller pieces, if needed, to fill in any holes. 

Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over top of bread. In bowl, whisk eggs, milk and vanilla; pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 8 hours. 

Remove french toast from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Back uncovered at 350, for 30-35 minutes. Let stand for five minutes before serving. Serve slices inverted, caramel side up. Enjoy!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Baptisimal Attire

I'm working on a few decorating projects right now but had to take a break from them to figure out what my son will wear for his baptism this coming weekend.

When my first son was baptized I purchased one of those fancy little boy baptismal outfits. You know, the kind that come covered in a plastic garment bag to make you feel like it was worth the fortune you just spent?

Well I thought it was a worthwhile investment at the time but found out the morning of his christening that his special outfit looked cute but that's about it. It was stiff, the fabric didn't breathe and we ended up being a family of sweaty people standing in front of a congregation that could probably see our glistening foreheads from the very, very back of the church. Plus, as soon as the ceremony was over we were frantically peeling him out of the outfit before we were even firmly seated back in our chairs. He spent the rest of the service in his least he wasn't naked. Still, too hot. Too hectic. Not to be repeated.

So this time around I decided I was going to leave the little outfit in its special little bag and thought I'd just buy a little white polo onesie instead. But alas, no one apparently makes such a thing, or at least they aren't in any stores in my area at the moment. So, plan B. Make something myself.

I decided it didn't need to be fancy, just practical, white, and not offensive. In the end, I thought a basic Gerber onesie would do the trick. For all intents and purposes, it's pretty much what we used last time anyway. This one would just be dressed up a bit to include a baby blue neck tie. Dressy, no?

Here's what I needed:
  • Blue satin ribbon
  • Cross (from the jewelry section at Michael's Craft Store)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Needle and thread

Cost (minus onesie, already had) = $3.34

To get started, I cut a piece of ribbon a few inches in length, maybe 7 or so (okay, so I forgot to measure). Then I folded over the bottom edge just a bit and glued it in place. The intent was to keep the ribbon from fraying. 

Next I folded the little ends over, making triangles and glued them in place. This created the end of the tie.

For the top, I folded over the top of the ribbon and glued the loop in place at the end, glued side to the back. When done, the loop was just over an inch in length. 

Then I gathered the loop piece as shown below and sewed it together to make the top of the tie. 

Next I cut a small piece of ribbon, about an inch or so, and folded over both sides, again gluing them to keep the ribbon from fraying. Sorry, the pics are awful, per usual (I know what you're thinking ... must be the camera, could not possibly be user error). 

That last close up is really clear, no? Anyhow, then I placed this little gem around the gathered part of the tie to look as though someone actually tied it. Yes, oh so clever.

The last step was to sew the cross to the "tie" and then a dab of hot glue at the top neck line of the onesie and near the end of the tie was all that was needed to keep it in place.

Add a pair of fluffy little white socks for some teeny tiny feet and we're ready to go. Might not be super fancy, but it'll do the trick!

Now to start planning that post-babtism brunch.