Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Big Girl Room Reveal [for the love of God FINALLY]

OK, so remember that post, oh, MORE THAN A YEAR AGO about getting The Redhead's big girl room ready for my growing gal?  No?  Don't worry, I barely remember it myself.  Refresher Here.

The Cliff Notes version is that way back when in yesteryear I knew that eventually we would be adding to The Family V.  And I deliberately set up a gender-neutral nursery for The Redhead so when that day finally came, I wouldn't sweat having the nursery ready in time; dude or gal, the new little person would have a room ready.  That meant that Red would need to graduate.  In order to spread out the cost and [hopefully] let some inspiration hit, I started early turning this sad guest room:

The Before:

into a haven for this little stinker:

So with that, I give you warning about the boatload of pictures to come and...
The After:

I am in LOVE with that captain's bed.
 The storage is heavenly and I think it's beyond cute.  This post is getting to long to include sources for stuff, but when I do that post, I'll tell you why this bed spent 4 days sitting vertically in my living room.  True Story.

This side of the room you'll see some familiar V Side projects, like the made-over yard sale mirror and  revamped clown college dresser... and a familiar face demanding to be in the picture.  [I can't help but smile.  She's THAT CUTE. :)  ]

This is also where the Princess Chair ended up.. and the DIY Monogram and my PBK pillow cover update.
I gave the trim a coat of paint and am THRILLED with how things turned out!  Big improvement.

I was at a loss for what to do on these walls.  I didn't want anything too heavy or too bulky, and it had to be something that would be relatively easy to update as she grew.
I took the letter K that had hung in her nursery (a $5, 50% off Hobby Lobby grab a couple years ago) and gave it a couple coats of sunny yellow craft paint.  The frames are your standard IKEA Ribba frames with a framed watercolor and some of The Redhead's own finger painted artistic genius.  Done.

On the other side of the mirror I recycled these two frames that I already had and updated them with a coat of paint.  I caught the mattes at PBK on sale, but you can achieve the same effect with cheap white mattes and a coat of spraypaint.

Here I framed the other half of her artwork, plus this great quote from our friend Christopher Robin, that
The Centsational Kate offered as a printable a while back.  I just updated the size and colors to fit this room, and poof!  Wall art.  Booyah.

So to recap:



It's finally finished, and has Redhead approval.
And so far it's getting a lot of use. :)


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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fun (and Yummy!) Kids Table Craft

We spend a lot of time focused on the main table at Thanksgiving - the linens, the centerpiece, the place settings, just the right place cards, etc.
Usually, the kid's table is an afterthought.  And that's OK.
But if you're looking for a cute and fun way to spruce up the place setting for the kiddos at your feast, check out the cute little turkeys my Mom whipped up with the grandkids this weekend:

Adorable, right?
For each little birdie, you just need 2 fudge stripe cookies, a candy corn, a truffle (we used the ones by Lindt - DELICIOUS!) and some frosting to act as your "glue"
You can just look at the picture and figure out how to assemble - cute, no?
The Redhead thought they were the bomb-diggity, and ate every last one of the ones we made.  
And how easy would it be to turn these into placecards?
Love it! 
Gotta love that Super-Grandma :)
I'm peace-ing out for the holiday, folks... feeding the beast (i.e. this baby) some yummy turkey dinner, then hunkering down and avoiding the Black Friday madness like the plague. :)
Hope you enjoy a safe and happy Thanksgiving with your families and friends!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Manage the Stress: Hosting Thanksgiving

The rotation Gods worked in our favor this year, and somehow we have escaped hosting duties for any of the major holidays!
But, I can say I've been there and I know that right about now, some of you are freaking. out. about Thanksgiving.
How do I know?  Because when it was my turn, I was freaking out, too. :)

So today I'm sharing just a couple things I learned along the way - OK, basically things my Mom told me that I wrote down - that will help you manage your day and keep from a stress-and- turkey-induced meltdown into a pot of mashed potatoes.

So, here we go:

Plan a schedule for your day ahead of time, and for the love of God write it down.
Come that Thursday morning, depending on when your meal is being served, you may need to be up and at 'em early to get that bird in the oven, and the last thing you need is a battle with sleepy brain for all the prep work you need to do.  Don't forget to include things like "Shower and get dressed", because otherwise I forgot you might forget.

2) Clean in Stages.

In these last few days before the holiday, do a little bit each day to get your house in order.  Do the floors one day.  Maybe the next is laundry and bedding/towels/toiletries for guests.  The night before, do your surface cleaning and your food prep.  And don't be afraid to enlist your spouse/significant other/kids for help. 
 There's no medal at the end of the day for saying "I did every bit of this myself!".  Ask for help.  Your sanity will thank you.

3) The Potato Ricer

Yes, I'm totally including my favorite kitchen gadget on this list.  Why?  Because lumpy mashed potatoes stress me theheck out.
 I don't care about other peoples' potatoes, but when I'm making mashed potatoes nothing screams "they'll think I'm lazy!" like those fat lumps of starch.
So, I rice them. 
It takes 5 extra minutes once you get the hang of it, and it is oh, so worth it.
Smooth, creamy mounds of perfect potato-y goodness is all I'm saying. 
Add in some minced garlic, a tiny bit of sour cream and some Parmesan cheese and you'll get some rave reviews on those 'taters, I promise!

4) Take a Moment
It's okay to take 5 and have a glass of wine at noon when you're hosting Thanksgiving.  Or have some vino to sip on while you're prepping your veggies. 

Or just stop and watch a little bit of the Thanksgiving Day Parade while you're cutting carrots. 
Or whatever. 
The point is, you DON'T have to go, go, go all day.  It will be FINE.
Just because you're hosting doesn't mean you shouldn't get to enjoy the day, too.
So Stop.
Repeat. :)

Is this rocket science? 
Goodness no.  But hopefully a couple of these tips will help make your Thanksgiving go juuuuuust a bit more smoothly, and maybe you'll get to relax and enjoy yerself that much more.
  And that can make ALL the difference!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Another IKEA APA Hack Idea

No matter how much space you have, it seems like [in our house, anyway] toy storage is always an issue.  
I thought when we finished the basement this problem would be solved since The Redhead had her own playroom.  But, all it really did was create a 'dumping ground' for the hoard of toys and games.  So, I'm constantly on the lookout for storage solutions.  But, since it's in a basement, I'm not too keen on spending a whole lot (but really, when am I ever? :) )

I found the above picture in the Pottery Barn Kids catalog - I loved the look, I loved the function (those wheels!).... didn't love the price tag ($299).  After staring at the box for a bit, I realized I/you/we can make this same storage piece for a fraction of a fraction of the cost!   

You in?
Start with the APA Storage Box from IKEA - a great deal at $14.99.

 Here's what I ended up with after my first hack using the APA Box.... I stained the wood borders, then covered the white panels with fabric and added some nailhead trim.  Save a couple steps, this is a super similar process.

(I used Minwax's Dark Walnut to stain the wood pieces. )
From there for this project, rather than cover the pressed-board panels with fabric, just paint them your color of choice.  If you're going for an exact replica of the PBK toy box... well then, you'll choose red.:)
  Go ahead and assemble the box (minus the lid, again, if you're going for an exact match).

For the final details, you can find simple castors to screw into the bottom and metal hinges for the edges at your local hardware store for cheap.
For the lettering, simply paint your letters on and [lightly] distress the finish.  If you're not confident in your letter-painting skillz, just order your words in vinyl and call it good :)

 Either way, you're guaranteed to end up with a similar, equally functional version for about $40 or less... that's a pretty great margin considering the version below costs $299.
(Again, this picture is from PB - I haven't completed this hack yet.  Just to clarify :) )

 Happy Hacking!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thanksgiving Centerpiece - Before & After

I had been on the lookout for a simple centerpiece for Thanksgiving/Fall for my table.
Our "formal dining room" is an office, so our primary dinner table (nightly *and* on special occassions) is in the kitchen eating area.  SO, my problem in the past is that I would find a lovely centerpiece/vignette, but it would be a major pain in the kiester to pick up and move every.night. for dinnertime.  So this year, simplicity was key.

I found this cornucopia over the summer on the clearance shelf at the JC Penney Home Store.  At first glance it's a little "grandma-painted-me-at-the-senior-center-ceramics-class", but I thought the shape was classic and the size was good for a simple table centerpiece.

I especially liked the deep, deep discount I found on the price tag :)
 In case you can't read it, that's $59.99 marked down to $4.97.  I believe that elicited an audible "BooYah!" from me.  In the store. OhYesIDid.

As is the case with most paint makeovers, this transformation was simple:
Clean with TSP, then add light coat of primer + 2 coats of Antique White and....
A simple, seasonal centerpiece that can withstand relocating to the buffet every night during dinner.

The leaves were from a dollar store pack and I added a simple runner from Hobby Lobby (on sale, natch ;)).  The side you see is actually the back - I wasn't crazy about the font side - it was all "Paris" painted everywhere, which isn't my style.  But I liked the striped fabric on the back, so there you go.  Still totally worth 6 bucks.  
I think a couple of rich, turned-wood holders and creamy pillar candles would look great flanking the cornucopia, but who am I kidding... that's just one more thing to take off the table every meal ;)


Friday, November 4, 2011

Natural Thanksgiving Table Inspiration

Since I don't really decorate for Halloween beyond a carved pumpkin or two on the front porch, I've been daydreaming about Thanksgiving and all the warm, harvest-y goodness around for weeks now.
And now that it's November, I can share what's been floating around my brain without seeming weird[er]. :)

We only host Thanksgiving once every 5 years or so (we rotate with Mr.V's siblings and on my side, my Mom hosts) so year after year, I just rift through all the eye candy and tuck inspiration away to remember for our turn.
There are a thousand ways to create a beautiful table for this holiday, where the meal is the spotlight of the celebration, but my motto is, Keep it Natural.  Thanksgiving is a celebration of the Harvest, and gratitude for its bounty... so why look any further than that?

Who needs fancy serving dishes when Mother Nature is providing these beautiful stands and "platters"?
I love the mixture of textures here.
(and PS some of these pictures have been sitting in my inspiration file for eons and I don't have the source to credit.  If the pics are yours or you know where they're from, let me know and I'm happy to credit them!)

Last fall, I showed you how to make simple candles out of real fruits and gourds.

These can also make for a gorgeous, simple centerpiece - imagine the apples (or pumpkins or artichokes or whatever floats your boat) lined up neatly down a table runner?  Simple.  Elegant.  EASY.  ;)

Here's another great use of natural pieces used for serving.  The squash have such great, rich texture and color.  AND, it's a great way to continue to use the fruit even after you've scooped out the inside for whatever delicious recipe you're making.  Hooray for recycling! (and no dish-washing!)

Pumpkins, pears, apples, pinecones... you name it.  Natural elements are always my favorite for placecards.
(I used eggs for our Easter placecards and thought they turned out great!)
I just love the ease and the simplicity of these.

For fall, don't underestimate the power of your own backyard - flatten brightly colored leaves from your yard and write guests' names on them for placecards.  Or how about tying a ribbon with their name to a simple piece of bittersweet?  Or seed pods from your trees?  Or maybe a corn husk? 


This table captures the feel of the holiday, without making too much fuss.  I like how they've maintained different levels of the table decor, yet kept things low to encourage conversation across the table.


This one takes a monochromatic approach and mixes just a hint of metallic edge to the natural feel.
And it's just darn pretty.



Got any ideas yet?  Here's to a beautiful, [and easy, and stress-free] Thanksgiving table in your home this year!