22 October 2014

Halloween Skull Bunting



I took my kids to Joann Fabrics last week to pick out some Halloween decorations and was surprised to find that the Halloween isles had already been cleared out to make way for Christmas and whatever was left of Halloween was at the front of the store and at discounted prices. The kids were bummed that there was less to look at but I was happy to score a few new things for much less money. 

One thing I grabbed was one of those long rolls of printed burlap- it was 50% off so I only paid like $2.50 for it. Once I got it home I tried hanging it in different places but it wouldn't hang right- it kept wanting to hang so the skulls were facing the ceiling. So I laid it out across the dining room table knowing that at some point I'd try altering it so that it would actually work like a banner. 


Yesterday I cut it apart so that it was in squares, each square having a skull in the center. I didn't measure or anything to size them perfectly; I just cut about halfway between each skull. 


My plan was to sew all the way across the top of all of them so they'd be sewn together in a long row. But the only thread I had that matched the burlap color was a heavy nylon upholstery thread and my sewing machine was choking on it. So I gave up and started sewing them together at the corners by hand. Four squares in though I realized this was not going to work because pulling my needle in and out of the loose weave of the burlap was just unraveling the corners so the edges of the squares were falling apart. 
By this time I was cursing burlap, sewing needles, and Halloween, but I was determined to make this work so I got out the hot glue gun and just started gluing them together at the top corners.



 Thankfully that worked. It doesn't look as good as if it had been sewn together and had some space between the squares, but at this point I really don't care. It'll only be up for a couple weeks anyway. 

Something else I did was to spread some Elmer's glue along all the cut edges so that they won't unravel. It was messy work. 



It was about this time that my fourth grader arrived home from school and saw me sitting at the table surrounded by glue, burlap squares, and a partially finished chain. He came over and looked at what I was doing and was like, "Why did you cut them completely apart? All you would have had to do was cut between each skull till you were almost to the top but left a little bit of material still attached- it would have been the same as what you're doing now but way faster. You made a ton of extra work for yourself Mom."

Oh duh.

I felt like a moron as I surveyed my mess and realized he was totally right.
If only I had the common sense of a 9 year old, then this would have been a much easier project.

But at least it's done.


That's it for Halloween crafts for me this year! :)



17 October 2014

Cleaning Quick Tip: Disinfect Your Purse



I consider myself to be a pretty clean person, but I recently read an article that had me wanting to gag (and maybe throw my purse away). It was about germy areas that we don't even think about (I wish I could remember the name of the article so I could link to it) and one of those areas is our purses. It said a study was done that showed that because of all the nasty places they get set- bathroom counters, grocery carts, floors, etc- horrifying things can be found on the bottom of a purse. Things like, what starts with an f and ends with an -eces. 

Eeek. 

The article went on to point out that after we get home we often plop our purse down on the counter (which I ALWAYS do!) then later after we've put the purse away, we make a sandwich on the same countertop, and bingo!- e-coli waiting to happen. 

Even though I don't make a habit of setting my purse in the cart while I'm shopping, my eyes have been opened to just how gross this beloved accessory can be, so I've been taking action. Every time I get home from somewhere I give the bottom of my purse and the handles a quick swipe with a disinfecting wipe. (Double check first in an inconspicuous spot that this won't damage the material of your purse.) I also wipe down the counter with disinfectant if I do set the purse on it before cleaning it, and also after putting the groceries away because if my purse is germy, who knows what's on those grocery bags. This only takes a couple seconds and it's totally worth it! 

16 October 2014

Accessorizing The TV Cabinet

 Lately I've been working on making the tv cabinet look like a prettier spot in our living room by slowly filling in the extra space around the tv with books and accessories. 
This morning I finally got it feeling finished with the addition of two little bowls that I picked up at West Elm last night while Rob and I were out for a date night. 



I've realized I have kind of a thing for bowls because without really meaning to I seem to always gravitate to them in stores and if you look around my house it's full of them. These two super cute ones caught my eye in West Elm last night and I couldn't walk out without them. They were just too pretty and inexpensive. (The gold one was $6 and the tiny mint one was $3.) I love how they look nested together so for now I'm keeping them like this. 


Since accessorizing is my #1 idea of a good time, the addition of these bowls to the tv cabinet sparked a re-accessorizing frenzy that included 4 rooms and an hour and a half of my morning. Stuff got moved. It was so fun. 

I won't bore you with the details of every single switch up, especially since while it was all happening I was totally in the zone and now that it's over I can't really remember what happened. Just that I liked it. I do know hot glue was involved. Twice. 

The tv cabinet got the most attention though, so here it is all styled and finally looking finished. 


Ideally I'd love to have the tv up on the wall so the top of the cabinet could be nothing but pretty stuff. I'd put another stack of books in the center, or maybe even two more stacks, but anyway for now I'm working with the set up we've got and this is satisfactory to me. 

It's nice to have a pretty view from the couch, so that if on the off-chance I'm bored with the plot line of The Blacklist (not likely) I can be entertained by looking at all the stuff below the tv screen. 


By the way, the wall to the right of the tv isn't actually orangish the way it looks in the photo. We have giant, jack-o-lantern window clings on the front two windows, so all the light coming through them is making an orange haze through most of the main rooms in our house. Can't say I'll be too sad to roll those up in a couple weeks. 

But you know what I won't be rolling up? My tv cabinet. 
(I know that wasn't a good segue.)



14 October 2014

Book Review: New York Mid-Century




Not only am I a design and decorating enthusiast, but I am also a major history lover, so the book I just finished- New York Mid-Century -was absolutely perfect for me. It was about creative professions like interior design, architecture, art, and dance, in New York City during the span of two decades known as the mid-century: 1945-1965. It was fascinating to read about the struggle that so many people in these creative fields had trying to figure out what art and design should look like in a post-war America (and specifically in New York City). Mid-Century architecture is so wildly popular now that it was very eye-opening for me to read about how many architects struggled at first to figure out what the new "look" should be once the opulence of the gilded age was over. 


It was also really interesting for me to learn about how the architecture ended up inspiring the more streamlined furniture designs of the period, since the more clean-lined interiors needed more simplified furniture to fill them. And I'd had no idea of the role that the Museum of Modern Art played in making the new furniture designs visible to the public, since this was the time period where for the first time home design was becoming accessible to everyone. Most of us are so obsessed with mid-century modern furniture these days, so I enjoyed learning the background of that style.

One of my favorite things about this book was all the photography- I loved getting to see what Mid-Century New York looked like. 













I loved the photos of all the art. I'm sure I'll never have the money to actually own something from Andy Warhol, but thanks to all the photographs of them in this book, I can feel like I sort of do. Along with tons of other art from several artists from that time. 




Speaking of which, another thing I loved was getting to learn more about people who's names are now so iconic like Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, and Charles & Ray Eames. 

I learned a lot from reading this, which ultimately is my favorite thing about it. If you like the arts and you enjoy history, this book is the perfect combo of both. 

Oh and bonus- it's a good looking book. I always get super excited to see what's under the book jacket, and this one's cover did not disappoint. 


It might be hard to tell in photos but those triangles are raised so the cover design has a really cool, three dimensional look. 


I always love a book that's just as good for displaying as it is for reading. 


Find a list of booksellers where you can order New York Mid-Century at Vendomepress.com.


*I received this book free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

09 October 2014

Organizing Recipes




I love when I finally tackle an organizing project that I've been putting off forever. My recipe box was one of those projects that's been begging to be done but that until I had a better spot for my recipes, I just wasn't motivated to do. I'm kind of an all-or-nothing type of person, you see, and if I can't go all out to make something look amazing, then I struggle to have the motivation to bother improving it at all. That's why for instance, until I find the perfect organizational system for my bathroom linen closets, with labeled baskets for different types of towels, and matching spray bottles for my cleaning supplies, those closets will continue to be a disorganized and almost hazardous spot where any time you crack the door open you may get hit in the face with a falling towel. I'm working hard to combat this character flaw but I have to be honest and admit that if something's not pretty I struggle with the motivation to organize it. 

Which is why I kept putting off going through my recipes, even though I didn't use half of them and they made finding a recipe I wanted take twice the time. I never felt like taking the time to sort through all the recipe cards and get rid of what I didn't want, when everything I was keeping would just be going back into their tired-looking old box.
I had them all stored in a photo box that I'd covered in vintage recipes a few years ago. It looked cute when I did it but after so much use it was looking seriously worn out. 


Oh and have I mentioned that cooking is not a passion of mine? Eating is, but cooking is not. So staring into this messy box every night wasn't making it very exciting to come up with a meal idea. 

Now though, I'm actually enjoying reaching for my recipes now that I've cleaned out my old box and replaced it with this one from West Elm:


It's the Utility Kitchen Recipe Box and I love it. 

I had actually ordered the large size of the Marble Cleat Box to use as a recipe box, but I wasn't sure exactly how I was going to make it work since the box is too small to hold standard recipe cards. But those boxes were temporarily out of stock so while I was waiting for it to ship I found the Utility box and decided to go with it instead. 

And I'm so glad I did because it holds everything easily but is still considerably smaller than my old recipe box, which is something I was really wanting. 


With this new box I finally had the motivation to go through everything and get rid of all the stuff I never use or stuff we've tried and didn't really like. I threw away SO much and it felt amazing. I love getting rid of things. 

Because of Pinterest I just don't need to store that many written recipes, so I only kept the ones that were family recipes, or ones that we've used a lot and love. Anything that was "meh" when we made it, or that I knew I could easily find online, I threw away. 

Thanks to the recipe cards that came with the new recipe box, I was able to re-write any recipes that I wanted to keep but that had been scribbled out hastily on a scrap of paper or had been printed from online or ripped from a magazine. 


I'm so tempted to re-write everything so that they're all on the new cards and will match, but for now anything that was written neatly on a recipe card is staying as-is. 

I was really happy to find that the dividers from my old box fit perfectly inside the new one. That was the one thing I'd stayed happy about with the old box, was having everything categorized and easy to find. So I love that I was able to keep that system going in this new box. 


I'll probably use these dividers as a template for some prettier ones, but for now they are working. 


Something I really love about this box is that it comes with a plastic recipe card protector so that you don't have to worry about your cards getting splashed with anything while you're using them. And there's a spot for it to stand on the lid of the box so the recipe you're using is easy to see. 


I'm really happy with this recipe box and I'm so glad I finally cleaned out this disaster of an area. Even though it's small I use it almost every day so it feels so much better to have it organized. 



06 October 2014

Marbled Bowl: Take 2

I hope you had a great weekend! Mine was so nice- it was General Conference for those of us who belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We spent most of Saturday and Sunday watching it from the comfort of our couch and the talks were so so good. They always are but this time there were a couple that seemed like they were just for my family and I. 


I'm still full from all the food I consumed from my corner of the couch. 


Anyways so about a year or so ago I marbled the inside of this large wooden bowl that once belonged to my great grandmother. 


Here's how it looked before paint- an ugly orange color with two gigantic cracks almost splitting it into three separate pieces: 


I've loved this bowl ever since I marbled it, but even though I only used black, gray, silver, and white paint to do the marbled look, it had this bluish tint to it that I didn't love. 

For a while I've been ready to lighten up the look of it and a few nights ago I finally did. 

I poured some white, light gray, and silver paint into the middle of the bowl:


Then I tilted the bowl in all different directions to get the paint to swirl together and look like marbling, and to get it to spread all around the inside of the bowl. I didn't get any pictures of that part of it since with a bowl this size it's a two-hands job. But it didn't take long before the bowl looked like this:


I am so in love with the lighter look. It's super pretty. I don't know if you can tell from the photo but there are some spots at the bottom of the bowl where the paint split while it dried. It doesn't show through to the darker paint underneath though so I'm just going to sand it a little and fill in the cracks with a clear coat. 

This is one of the few DIY's I've done that's actually really fun to do!


03 October 2014

Decorating For Halloween

 Bloggers everywhere are posting about their fall decor so today I'm showing mine. If you're anticipating Pottery Barn-esq decorating though than you're going to be disappointed. All my pumpkins are orange, many have faces, and it's a little more Halloween than fall in here since holiday decorating is something I do more for the kids than me. 

Two nights ago we lit a pumpkin-scented candle, turned on a Halloween movie, ordered pizza, and munched on Halloween Oreos while we decorated the house. The kids had so much fun and I let them choose where a lot of things went. 


The bats are just some paper ones I made a couple years ago. I printed up a picture of one to use as a template and then traced it several times on black scrapbook paper.



We have a whole lot of these happening on the windows, all applied 100% by the kiddos. 



We have a few of these pictures that change depending on where you're standing when you look at them. The kids think they are fantastically creepy so I'll probably buy a few more this year. 







It's crazy to think that from now until almost the end of the year the house will be decked out in some form of holiday decor since the second one ends I'm taking everything down and decorating for the next one. December 26th though is the day it all officially ends and the house gets back to normal. I love this time of year and having things feeling so festive, but I have to admit a tiny part of me is already looking forward to the day after Christmas when it's all tucked away and I can look around and go, "Aaaahhhhh….." Just a tiny part though. I really do love this stuff. :)