Tuesday, August 31, 2010

where I blog

Two posts in one day, say whaaaat?! I couldn't resist getting in on this party with the Centsational Girl. I also didn't want to miss a chance to show off my living room again :) Because, let's be honest. Do I blog at some fancy desk? Nope. I do it with a puppy curled up at my feet from the comfort of my IKEA Ektorp.

Does it look like that when I blog? Nope. Picture me in sweatpants with crazy hair and no make-up. With either HGTV or ESPN on the television. And the ottoman is covered with junk important stuff that I haven't put away yet.

When I'm feeling especially motivated, I'll blog at my new desk. I haven't put the finishing touches on it, but when I do I'll let you know. For now, you'll just have to take a yucky iPhone pic to hold you over. [Because clearly, I used all of my motivation to get up here and there's none left to go back downstairs and get my real camera.]

Isn't that a beautiful seat cushion? I found it at World Market and I may or may not have planned my entire desk around that one thing. And those shoes are cute, too, aren't they? I know you spotted them under there :)

There you have it, folks. That's where I blog. Once I fancify this desk [read: hide the cords, move the printer, get rid of the clutter] maybe I'll blog here more often.

Psssshhhh, not unless I get the DVR up here first!

when you say crazy, you mean...

This is what happened: I finished setting up my home office. And my office shares the space with my craft room. And in the process of straightening things up on my desk, I stumbled into the craft side and started feeling a little jittery. Like I needed to do something. So I scanned through my blog roll for the day and saw two things. Two beautiful bits of inspiration: Decor Chick is getting organized and in the process, I caught a glimpse of her toolbox and the ladies over at The CSI Project are hosting a Mod Podge Party. Music to my ears. And what do you know, I have a toolbox AND Mod Podge. Hollerrr.

I knew when I bought Sassy [my toolbox, duh] that she was going to need a facelift if she was going to live in my craft room. Let's face it, that blinding neon yellow just doesn't go.

She could stop traffic. And not in a good way.

And where else in my whole entire house can I be as girly as I can be in here, my very own craft room? No where, I tell you. It just won't fly with that burly submarine officer of mine. So I rooted out my Mod Podge, my pile of scrapbook paper and some paint and got to work on adding some frills to my girl:

Oh, I did just do that. I totally painted her snaps purple and Mod Podged some scrapbook paper to her front parts. I did it. I was in the middle of it all and thought, "Am I really doing this??" The answer is YES. And any of you, finding yourself in my situation, would have done the same thing [maybe not, but keep that to yourself] and you would be proud to show it off. Please don't judge me.

Check out the other Mod Podge creations going on today...
Visit thecsiproject.com

Monday, August 30, 2010

weekend recap: fall raggedy wreath

I was feeling borderline sickly this weekend, like I might be trying to catch a cold. So I decided that a lot of rest was in order. I stocked up on home decorating and sewing books from the library, unloaded my Netflix Watch Instantly queue [Fried Green Tomatoes...love!] and dug out a stack of magazines that have been neglected over the last few months. It was a good weekend, my friends.

I started getting a teensy bit restless, but didn't feel like doing much, so I picked a craft that could be done while I kept my fanny on the couch :) I'm trying really hard to savor the last few weeks of summer - I don't want to wish it away for daydreams of crisp air and cinnamon in the kitchen. But it is HARD. Especially since I just saw a line of trees that have already turned. So I've tricked myself into thinking that preparing to decorate for Fall is not quite the same as actually doing it and I opted to make this little beauty under the guise of planning ahead. I'm smart like that.

I found this in blog land a while ago, but I can't remember where. If I'm ripping off your original idea, please let me know so I can give you credit :)

Start with a wire wreath like this:

It was the smallest of the variety at Michaels and cost about $3.

Then, pick out some fab Fall-inspired fabric...

I got about a yard, but had plenty left over. Start by cutting your piece into strips that are about 6 inches wide. Then take each strip and cut those into smaller strips [about 1 to 1.5 inches wide]. I actually ripped them, because I wanted a raggy look. When all is said and done, you want a pile of strips that are about 6x1 inches. Make sense?

Now get comfy and start tying :) Just tie the strips all the way around the wire. It's up to you how fluffy you want it - the more you squeeze on there, the fuller it will be. I made mine pretty tight, but only tied strips to two of the four rings within the wreath. You couldn't see the empty rings, and I liked the way it looked as is, so I stopped there. Two reruns of Friends later and you've got yourself a cutie little wreath.

Isn't it adorable?? I'm thinking of ways to use this in my mantel display and I've come up with a few things that make me reeeaaally excited. I'll keep you posted!

Have you started pre-planning for Fall? :)

And don't worry, I'm not the only one dreaming of Fall. Today I'm linking up with Thrifty Decor Chick, a fellow Fall fan!

Friday, August 27, 2010

weekend plans: preparing for fall

I'm back! I bet you all were like, what the....where did she go? Probably not, but a girl can dream. I had to go back to the greatest of the Carolinas for work and something about working all day and then coming back to a sterile hotel room supresses my bloggy mojo. But the good news is, my mom lives close to where I was staying so we had a rendezvous or two. And I bought a fall candle. Hollerrrrr.

On the way home I realized that September 1 is next week, people! And I was like, ohhhhhh snap. Time to get ready. So this weekend, I have a few plans:
  • Settle on a tablescape
  • Make a rag wreath
  • Map out a mantel gameplan
  • Daydream about pumpkins on my front porch

What's that you say? It's going to be 88 degrees on Saturday?

Don't care :)

I hope you have a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

the big reveal: my FAB living room

It's finally here, eeeeeeks! I really, really can't believe that after living here for three months, the living room is finished. And it's exactly what I didn't know I wanted. It's a big deal to me because in our first place, I thought decorating meant painting and hanging pictures on the wall. And a coffee table book. Always, have a coffee table book.

In our second house, I was waaay unmotivated and was like, psssshhhhh why should I decorate again? Then my hubby left me for 12 weeks for Navy OCS and I just wanted to eat cheetos and watch bad reality TV. So in a semi-sappy/sentimental kind of way, this represents a new era. A new, improved, happy and un-husbandless [go with it] life and living room.

Okay, enough of that junk :) Let's get to the pictures, yesssss. Those spider mums were an unexpected gift from a certain boy. Just in time to add a little flair to my new room. Thanks, boo. No really, here we go...

Everybody now....ooooohhhh, aaaaaaahhhhh. Isn't this the happiest living room you ever did see?
[If I was being critical, I would say that I probably need some kind of window treatment in here. But for now, I'm loving to light-brightness of this set up.]

Hey cuties. You adorable shutters and you spunky fabric art, you.

DIY ottoman. With a picture-frame/fabric-turned-tray. XOXO. And you'll notice that these couches are white. So long, black darkness. Hellooooo, cheapo slipcovers from IKEA. And by cheapo, I mean two for the price of one divided by two [on ebay, honey].

Oh happy day. You can't totally see it, but there's a sofa table behind the couch. I'm loving this. It gives the room some depth and it's just three pieces of wood. [a la TDC]

And of course, the details make this room. I made the black and white pillow [and subsequently decided that pillow-making with a sewing machine that's on the fritz is not.for.me] and the green ruffly one I got for approx. $12 at TJ Maxx. Oh yes I did.

One more time...

Yay :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

weekend recap: sweet shutters

Napoleon Dynamite's definition of sweet. Like, saaaa-weet shutters. I made a secret decision not to spend any money this weekend, because I maybe want to save my monies for a Hobby Lobby stock-up-for-fall trip. Maybe. But then we just had to go to the Habitat Restore to see if they had any plywood for another project. And they happened to have these shutters and they just spoke to me. They spoke to me, I tell you.

I've been spending a lot of time trying to figure out what to do with our mantel. I've always had a painting hanging over it - a wedding gift from my in-laws. I love that painting, but I wanted something a little more unexpected. And it looks better in the dining room here anyway :)

But in all of my "mantel decor" google searches, I didn't find a single thing that I loved so much that I wanted to copy it I felt inspired. It was either too traditional or too modern or too bold or too boring or too not me. [I did, however, make note of several Christmas mantels. Yesssssss.] So I stuck with my lantern and some greenery, and my spray-painted mirror. And I told myself that I could live with it.

I didn't hate it. It just didn't feel bold enough - it felt too pastel and bland compared to the rest of what I have going on in here.

But in all of my mantel searches, there was one thing that kept jumping out at me: two, vertical panel-like objects [i.e. art prints, shutters, molding] placed side-by-side on the mantel. I love it. I gravitate toward symmetry but this isn't candles on either side of a mirror and I love the non-traditional twist.

So when I spotted these two weathered and worn black shutters (for $6 each) perched in the corner at the Habitat Restore, my mantel vision finally came together. I stood there, staring at the shutters, imagining them in my living room.

I imagined them decorated for Christmas [never a good sign] and I even tuned out the creepy Habitat worker man who told me that they were "Charleston Green." No, honey. That's black, but thank you. And please leave me alone so I can figure out how to string Christmas lights around these.

Oh, I just love them. They COMPLETE this room. This pic doesn't even do it justice, but they're perfect.

Pitter-pat, pitter-pat.

I'm linking up to a partaaaay:

Friday, August 20, 2010

real food for less $$

We interrupt this regularly scheduled programming [living room reveal] to chat about my other mega obsession: eating. Also, I have one more project to complete before the living room is really finished, so this buys me some more time :)

A few months ago, I started toying with the idea of looking into a new way of eating. I kept hearing whispers about organic meals and buying local and avoiding processed food, but decided that I didn't want to just jump on a bandwagon. If I was doing this, I was doing it because I knew why and because it made sense for our little family. So this summer, I read Food Rules by Michael Pollan. And by "read" I mean inhaled. It was like a series of clicks and lightbulbs leading up to one ah-ha moment: eating nutritiously isn't hard. And it doesn't mean low-sugar, low-fat. It means eat.real.food. I won't get all soapboxy on you, but you should read it. It will seriously change your entire eating/cooking lifestyle.

Long story short, that book started me off on a new path. The main things I find myself doing when it comes to grocery shopping and cooking are these:
  • Avoid processed foods (all natural, no additives or preservatives)
  • Buy local ingredients (my main grocery trip each week is to the Farmers Market)
  • Buy organic, but only when it's necessary
  • Keep most meals centered around veggies (limiting the meat means being able to afford organic, hormone-free meat for the meals that include it)
Don't misunderstand - this isn't about organic living, although that variety often makes it in my shopping cart. But as Michael Pollan says, organic sugar is still sugar. It's about eliminating ingredients from your diet that don't belong there. Ingredients that aren't found in nature. Ingredients that God did not intend to be ingredients. You pick up what I'm putting down?

We've been living this way for about 3 months and it's incredible the difference it's made. We feel so much better. I don't hit that 2pm wall anymore, when I would usually start to feel sluggish. I feel more alert throughout the day. We ordered pizza this weekend and The Boy said that the day he took leftovers was the most difficult day to concentrate this week. Take care of yourself folks, it's worth it.

The most challenging part of this has been finding things that aren't processed. Trying to score a bottle of salad dressing that doesn't have unpronounceable ingredients in it is next to impossible. That's why I consider you peeps who have a Trader Joe's nearby to be charmed. Jealous.

To give you an idea of how easy/inexpensive it is, here's a recipe for stuffed peppers that we had this week:

  • 3 red bell peppers, sliced in half lengthwise (organic, $1.50/each at the Farmer's Market)
  • 2 cups cooked whole wheat couscous (instead of the traditional ground meat)
  • Half a bag of frozen spinach
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (I would prefer to use fresh, but I'm trying to clean out my pantry!)
  • Feta cheese, fresh from the deli
  • Fresh basil and oregano, chopped

Arrange the pepper halves in a baking dish

Mix the remaining ingredients and fill pepper halves
Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, until peppers are tender

Y'all, this meal came in under $10 and we got one dinner and 3 leftover lunches out of it.

So that's that. My newfound love for all things naturally yummy. Do I eat like this all the time? Hellooo, I had a rootbeer float for an afternoon snack yesterday.

Everything in moderation, right? :)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

it's all in the details

And we continue with the Tour de Page's Living Room. My most favorite thing about decorating is to have little pieces of flair scattered about that you only notice when you take the time to scan the room. Things that are sentimental to you, but may seem random to others. So they say, "What's that ____ over there" and you say, "Oh, that was from when we ____." Or you just got it at Goodwill for $1, whatever. Go with it.

Like that pic on our side table: it's one of our engagement pictures from the days of yore, that was on display at our rehearsal dinner. We're on the campus of our Alma Mater (Go Heels!) and I love how adorable the look on that boy's face is.

So here we are, almost 3 months moved-in, and I've finally collected enough "details" to call my living room complete (for now!)

This was a cheapo mirror that I found at TJ Maxx for ohhhhh $12? TACKY frame, spiffed right up with some brushed nickel spray paint.

I got these succulents at IKEA during my semi-annual trip for $3 a piece. The ugly plastic planter got a little facelift with some scrap fabric and ribbon.

Also from IKEA, the bamboo that I haven't killed yet. Yesssss.

$0.50 Goodwill frame with some pretty scrap fabric.

Dollar Tree birds, spray painted white. They're in loooove.

And now begins my obsession with throw pillows. I made the two that are the same and decided that I didn't want to make any more :) The others came from TJ Maxx for $10/each. Hollerrr.

I love every.single.thing about this pillow. World Market = $15.

And I got two of these cuties, also at TJ Maxx for $10.

So that's that. I have a little bare wall left that needs some attention and I'm thinking about framing some scrapbook paper? I'm all about cheap unexpected art.

Oh I just love it in here :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

wall art. for $7/yard

Okay, listen. I know this pic has nothing to do with anything in this post but it is hi.lar.ious. We were downtown two weekends ago when
my sister-in-law was in town and right as we were approaching the Battery, we noticed this window with all of the junk piled in it. I mean, really. Inflatable bowling pins? That is junk. And I thought, "Whoa, if I had an apartment on the Battery, across the street from these mansions, where bajillions of people walk every day, I would at least close the blinds." Then we got closer and saw the label on the box...Pirate Stuff. Classic. I keep thinking about it and it just cracks me up! When I die, I don't want people to come in my house and find a box of pirate stuff. Unless it's with my halloween decorations or something. And I'd at least hide it in the attic.

But I digress. Let's talk about the wonky wall in our living room. The wall opposite of where our couch sits [where the TV goes, duh] is not the same length as the couch wall. Because the fireplace sits at an angle. See?

And so, in addition to horrific lighting in this pic and the lack of any decoration because [insert good excuse here] and the school desk off to the side that is now a nightstand [before and after, coming right up!] and the rug that I decided I don't like, you'll notice that this wall is wonky.

When you're sitting on the couch, you're centered with the TV, but the TV isn't centered with the wall. And if you hang art above the TV and center it on the wall or [over the TV], it looks wonky because it's not centered with the couch wall. And if you hang multiple pictures to take up more space, it still creates a visual center that makes the wall look....? Wonky, yes.

Solution? Something big.
Problem? Big = lots-o-dollars

So after an evening of - literally - staring at a blank wall and discussing our options, we went from "What if we bought a canvas and painted it?" to "What if we made a canvas a painted it, a la David Bromstad?" to "I'm not an artist so what if we covered the canvas with fabric?" to "What if we just built a frame and stretched fabric over it?"

BAMMMMM. A star is born.

We were going to get the lumber for the frame at Habitat, but it's hard to find wood in good shape there. So we headed to Lowes in search of high-quality 2x4's. Trust me - don't buy something that is flawed or warped because it won't hang flat on the wall.

Have your sweetie build the frame [or do it yourself if you're feeling sassy], reinforcing the corners with L-brackets. Like so:

Then bust out your staple gun. Lay the fabric down, place the frame over it and get busy. I found that it was easier to do the middle of each side and then go all the way around because you can stretch it tighter that way. And please, people...iron the fabric first. You cannot iron it after the fact. I may or may not know this from first hand experience.

We drilled some screws in the wall and hung that sucker right on up there.


I've lusted after this fabric since the day I spotted it in IKEA, but didn't think I'd ever find something to use it on. Oh, but there it is. All beautiful and hanging in my living room. Don't you love it?

And all for about $25. Not too shabby :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

evolution of a living room

When The Boy and I first got married, I had just moved out of my college apartment where my room was painted a nice color in the purple family. I had a big fluffy comforter, a body pillow [affectionately known as Fernando] and the most romantic poster I could find adorned to my wall. I decorated like a girl.

When we got hitched and moved into our first apartment, I was overwhelmed with the opportunity of adopting a new style - one that worked for both of us and represented us as Mr. and Mrs. One of my mother-in-law's favorite stories to tell is about a conversation that took place between hubby and me. We were talking about decorating and remodeling and I said, "I'm feeling the need to feather my nest." To which he responded, with his finger to his brain like he was drilling it in, "Credit is a tool, credit is a tool." Needless to say, it's been in my blood to add flair to our lairs. And it's in his blood to guard and protect the checkbook [any Bachelorette fans out there??]

My inspiration for our first place was a set of Italian travel posters that I got online and framed with cheapo frames from Michaels. We painted the living room a beautiful, bold yellow and got all of our furniture from IKEA [the night before both familes were coming over for Mother's Day...oh hey, crazy.]

We loved this living room. It was perfectly us and we did it [for the most part] on the cheap.

Then we moved into a rental house [with a yard, for our high maintenance puppy] for about 7 months. At that point, we knew that a Navy move was likely on the horizon, so we knew this place was temporary. I didn't do much in the way of decorating. Except for hanging that painting over the fireplace.

And those Poinsettias? Don't be confused into thinking this was Christmas. It was actually late January. No motivation whatsoever.

And now here we are! In the most adorable Charleston rental you ever did see! I've been promising some folks pictures of our house for ohhhhh, months now? Since this room is almost done, I'll be rolling out some of the projects I've been doing around here and then...the big reveal :) Here's a sneak peak:

Hint: buh-bye dark furniture, hello white, light, bright and shiny happiness :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

weekend recap: it all started with a wrong turn

Greetings, citizens! I hope you enjoyed your weekend, wherever you are. As I type, I'm rocking on my front porch watching a rain storm finish up. It's nice to take a breather and enjoy resting in something as simple as that, no?

Totally unrelated: we had dinner this weekend at a great Thai place downtown [thanks for the recommendation, Whitney!] and I'm totally obsessed with how cute it was. I'm a sucker for a good atmosphere. I think it makes the food taste better :)

Before I show you what I picked up this weekend, let me preface: I did some thrifting on Saturday morning, but wasn't terribly impressed with anything. The Boy was preoccupied with Navy things for the day, so I meandered around town, watched some HGTV and caught a little nap. By 5:30pm, I was feeling restless. I needed to hit the fabric store to make a return and stop by AC Moore for a few things and since it's in the same shopping center, I figured I'd run into the Dollar Tree to see if fall stuff was out yet any of their seasonal items were on clearance. That was the plan. I would be back by 7pm. We live about 25 minutes from said shopping center, so it's not a quick trip, but I was feeling good about it.

I got in the car and in my distraction to try and get the flippin' FM transmitter to work on my iPhone, I turned left out of our subdivision, instead of right. [Left is the direction of the grocery store, bless my heart.] Instead of turning around, I thought I could "follow my nose" to the interstate, but I haven't fully acclimated myself to this place and that was a big fat FAIL. By the time I realized that I needed my GPS, I was in the boonies, with no cell service and the GPS couldn't pick up my location. And I think I heard banjo music somewhere in the woods off the road. I drove and drove and drove until 40 minutes later, I was less than a mile from where I'd started, back in the right direction. Oh...and it was raining.

Did I mention that this shopping center is not in the most desirable of locations? One should definitely be packing heat before pulling in. Which helps with the get-what-you-need-and-get-out mentality. So it's 6:40pm and I park the car and run [in the rain] to the front door of Hancock. Only to see that they close at 6pm. If I hadn't turned left out of my stinkin' neighborhood in the first place, this wouldn't be a problem. And who closes at 6pm on a Saturday?? Un-BE-lievable. I muttered and grumbled, plowed through AC Moore and headed into Dollar Tree.

All of that to say, the trip was not a total flop. Because look at these cuties [all to be spray painted white]:

Don't judge! You know you want to buy stuff for fall.


Now listen, I know that everyone and their mom has blogged about these Dollar Tree birds, but I'm here to tell you that MY mom scored a set of these about a year ago. And I've been trying to find my own ever since. So this, my friends, is not just a bandwagon incident. At least not this time :)

By 7:30, I was a bit frustrated, but turned the evening around by talking my hubby into renting a movie [Valentine's Day - it's cute, if you haven't seen it!] and ordering a pizza. I was GROSS from the I-just-woke-up-from-a-nap-and-didn't-brush-my-hair-and-then-I-got-rained-on look, so I was pulling for delivery. But to save a buck, I agreed to pick it up on my way home. Good call, because when I stopped by the Italian restaurant [owned by hardcore Italians] the piano man winked at me, the owner called me Bella and some other guy gave me a coupon for a free bottle of wine for the next time we dine there. Maybe they felt sorry for me?

And who cares if they were all pushing 50? If THAT isn't a score, I don't know what is.

Friday, August 13, 2010

for a crowd: peach french toast

Raise your hand if you like to cook for a crowd. [me, me, me!!]

Raise your hand if you like to cook breakfast for a crowd. [crickets]

It seems like breakfast is never easy for a crowd. Unless you're my mountain-bred grandparents who can crank out three dozen biscuits, a plate of bacon and a vat of gravy all before the seats at the breakfast table fill up. For me, no matter what I make, it ends up getting cold and it's just yuck. Or I spend like $50 on the ingredients for a breakfast casserole. Maybe not $50, but bacon and sausage aren't cheap!! I made this french toast bake for The Boy's birthday breakfast this year and it was a hit. This is seriously the most yummy, convenient, good-for-a-table-full-of-hungries I've ever come across. You have to prepare it the night before, but it makes the morning that much less hectic [and more tasty]:

Ingredients [yields 8 pieces]
8 slices of french bread, about 1/2 inch thick
6 eggs
A splash of milk
3 cups sliced peaches [fresh or frozen]
5 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Layer the bread in a greased baking dish.
  • Mix eggs, milk and pour over the bread.
  • Top with peaches and then sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon [to your liking].
  • Cover and place in the fridge over night, so the bread gets all soaked and the cinnamon/sugar begin to carmelize. Yummmm.
  • The next morning, just bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes, or until it begins to brown.

Oh my goodness. Doesn't that look deeeeelish?? And it's perfect for this time of year...with fresh peaches, are you kidding me? We like to top ours with yogurt and a drizzle of local honey...

Go make it. Now. You won't regret it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

score: decorative lantern

Has anyone else noticed the lantern trend? All of a sudden, they're everywhere. Lanterns are the new black. Or something like that. A few weeks ago, we were visiting some family who is lucky enough to live near the big, beautiful blue store: IKEA. We went in for bookcases. Ha! Who EVER goes into IKEA and comes out with only what they went in for? Not this chica. Three bookcases, a stool, some plants, a cutting board and six hours later, we were done. But I'll tell you what I wanted and didn't get: a lantern. This beauty was only $15, but they were out of stock.
Worst day ever. I had no idea what I wanted to do with it, but it spoke to me. It wanted to be in my house. Seriously, for a few days, I thought about that lantern and missed it. I truly missed the lantern. Who am I?

Fast forward to last week. I haven't always had great luck in Pier 1, but decided to go in on a random Thursday night, because it was beside Target and I didn't feel like going home yet. [Hellooo, I work from home. My only contact with the outside world is at the grocery store.]

And there it was. In the window. A beautiful lantern. I was sure it was going to be expensive, because they usually are. I had just seen one in Target for $25. Please, Target. Get over
yourself. But no, it wasn't expensive..it was $10. TEN DOLLARS. Jigga whaaat?? [I can't believe I just typed that. What does that even mean?]

I marched myself straight to the counter, purchased it with a GIFT CARD, thankyouverymuch and brought it home. And there it sat. Because I had no idea what to do with it. It sat on my mantel and looked so boring. I didn't want to put a pillar candle in it, because I don't like it when they burn unevenly and drip places they aren't supposed to drip. Drives me nuts. So I popped my Yankee Candle in there for kicks and it was perfect.

Something about the glass jar inside the glass lantern makes the glow even more beautiful. And the candle itself looks prettier than when it just sits on the side table. I love it!

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