Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cheers to a New Year

Are you ready for a new year?  As Ms. Oprah Winfrey so wisely said...

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.

And maybe 2013 will allow us the opportunity to get a few more things right!

We are kicking off the new year with our second annual Family New Years Bash.  As we did last year, our friends are invited over with their kiddos for a potluck style dinner.  Then 2 babysitters arrive for movie time with the kids, giving the older people some old people time.  We do our NYE countdown at 9pm and then it is time for the little party goers to go to bed.

So with the party just hours away we have been doing a little decorating.  The mantel got a simple New Years makeover with lights and sparkles.

The front table is filled with noise makers, beads and a little home made craft.

With some black card stock, popsicle sticks and scissors I turned this into a very sophisticated affair.

We are also super excited for our home-made photo booth!

Our guests can pick their photo accessories from our bin of fun, which includes hats, glasses, wigs, and even a blow up dinosaur.

There are definitely going to be some good black-mail opportunities!

Well, I hope you all have a wonderful New Years.  Stay safe, have fun and dream big cause 2013 is gonna be a good one!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Couch Styling

HI!  You guys still out there?  Did you survive Christmas?  The biggest hit in our house is Buzz & Woody from Toy Story.  There have been many exciting adventures "to infinity and beyond" over the last 24 hours!

Santa was overly kind to me again this year.   In addition to my miter saw (oh I know you are jealous!), I got the YHL book that I have been lusting over.  And it is awesome!  The best part is that it is totally Sherry & John.  No fancy pretending to be something they are not.  It is true to their style, humor and design aesthetic.  Great job guys!

And tip #15 (from the book) got me thinking about my couch and that with the addition of an awesome monogrammed pillow my Sister-in-Law gave us for Christmas (thanks Haley!) that the couch is finally styled just the way I want it.  Which in turn got me thinking about couch styling and that is how I ended up here - sitting in the kitchen, eating leftover stuffing, typing away.  And yes, the stuffing is even better the next day!

So where to start?  The answer is with a good canvas...a great fabric, durable, neutral couch.  And remember "neutrals" can be gray, white, navy or tan.

I tell you, Buzz & Woody are up to no good!

Many couches these days are offered with your choice of accent pillows.  I think the best way to go is get two pillows that exactly match the couch.  They are a good base for layering or you can use them elsewhere in the room to tie everything in.  But you want accent pillows that are less permanent - that you can change out when the mood strikes or the concept changes.        

Now is the fun part, the non-neutrals!  Pick a color scheme.  For my space I chose orange.  I have orange accents throughout the space building on my neutral gray pallet.  (My two orange pillows actually match the fabric I have on the benches across from the couch, again tying it all together.)  Take that color and add two or three pillows to the couch with that pallet.  The pillows do not have to match...just "go".  And be sure to use pattern to create the right feel - modern, rustic, country or a combination of all three.  And again, patterns don't have to match...just "go".  

OK time to personalize it a bit.  Add an additional pillow that speaks to you.  In this case I used our new monogrammed pillow (from Red Envelop).  Or you could make one like I did here.

And here are some more fun options I like...

TOO by Blu Dot Take a Seat Toss Pillow (18x18")

from here

Monogram Applique Pillow Cover

from here

personalized hot air balloon throw pillow cover

from here

The final step is a word that I truly think adds the wow to any room and that word is texture!  Burn it in your brain, write it on your forehead, get it tattooed across your chest for all I care but DON'T FORGET TEXTURE!  And now that I have totally scared you, let me give you one of my texture quick fix secrets.  Are you ready?  Are you sure? here if you think you can handle it!  Did you click on the link?  If not, it took you here...

TEJN Faux sheepskin IKEA The faux sheepskin is super soft, warm and cozy. Ideal as a rug or draped across your favorite armchair.

Can you see it?  It is the TEJN Faux Sheepskin from IKEA.  It is $9.99 and is the perfect size to drape over a couch or chair and it adds awesome texture.  And at that price they are totally toddler proof - cause you can always get another one.  (Heck buy two while you are at it, just in case.)  And look at what a difference it makes.

You can also get great texture with a furry throw or pillow.  And don't forget leather or suede or cable knit or scalloped or even some sparkle!

I was also able to add texture by using a leather ottoman.  Which means the texture doesn't have to be on the couch just around the couch.  Think baskets, side tables, lamps, frames, trays for remotes.

And the best part is that once you master your couch you can take these same design principles to every space in your home.  Just remember - neutral, color, pattern, personalize and texture.  Pretty straight forward, right?!?!

Now get to work on it!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Lovely Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone!

I hope everyone has a lovely day with family & friends.  And I hope Santa is as good to you as he was to me...

Friday, December 21, 2012

Snowy Day Chocolate Treats

Happy Friday everyone!  What are you up to today?  The past 24 hours have looked a lot like this around here...

(OK, this pic is from a big storm in 2011 but we have at least that much snow - maybe more and that is me!)

And since the weather outside is frightful why not fill our tummies with something delightful!  This is a little treat for the kiddos that is fun to make and yummy to eat.  And I bet you might even have the ingredients in your pantry right now.

All you need is graham crackers, chocolate & marshmallows   Wait...that sounds an awful lot like Smores!?!?  Well, it pretty much is but no campfire or roasting sticks needed.

Just melt some chocolate (chips, bar, whatever you got) in the microwave.  You will want to cook it 30 secs at a time, giving it a good stir with each interval.  It should only take about a minute and half total.  Lay the graham crackers out on parchment paper.  Once the chocolate is melted spoon it onto the crackers and spread it around with a spoon.  Then place 4 or 5 mini-marshmallows on each one and let it cool on the counter for 10 minutes or so.  

Maybe even serve it with some hot chocolate for the perfect snowy day treat!

Now if you are looking for a more grown-up chocolate recipe this one is perfect for entertaining.  I made it a few weeks ago when I had some girlfriends over.  It is a chocolate fondue with amazing orange flavors.  OMG, I want it right now!  

The recipe comes from Fondue by Fiona Smith.  And this is the Bittersweet Chocolate Fondue.

You will need:
10 oz bittersweet chocolate 
1/2 cup cream
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
2 tbl orange liqueur such as Cointreau
finely grated zest and juice of 2 oranges

To prepare:
Put the chocolate in a double boiler (a bowl placed over a sauce pan full of water works great), add the cream, pepper flakes, liqueur and orange zest and juice.  Heat the water until simmering and the chocolate mixture will melt as you stir.  Transfer to a warm fondue pot and serve with yummies.  Ideas include fruit, ginger cookies, marshmallows, pound cake, churros.  Oh they all sound so good!



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

PicMonkey Cards

I'm thinking that most of you out there have already ordered and sent your holiday cards.  But that doesn't mean you don't need thank you notes, new years invites or who knows what cards.  And I am here today to show you how to create your very own cards on PicMonkey.

Let's take this baby one step at a time...

Step 1: Head on over to  Begin by selecting "create a collage".  Then save the page you see.

Step 2: Return to the PicMonkey main page and select "edit a photo" and open the blank collage document you just saved.

Step 3: On the left side of your screen select "overlays" which looks like a bunch of talking bubbles.  Once this screen is open select "Your Own" and open whatever picture you would like to use on your card.  When the picture pops up adjust the size and location of the picture.  Once the picture is the size and in the spot you want click the merge button above the card and this will merge the layers together and set your picture.

Step 4: Now it is time to add text.  Select the "P" on the left side of the screen.  Select the font you like and start typing.  You can change the text size, color and location.  If you want to use multiple fonts simply create additional text boxes.  In the above I used La Belle Aurore and Dead Hardy, but I love them all!

There are many additional options you can add from here.  On the card above I added a border to make the edges pop.  You can also use the fun themes PicMonkey offers or add textures.

I recently used this same method to make invitations for my daughter's birthday party (much more on that later) and saved a bunch of money!  A similar photo invite on Tiny Prints would have cost $1.50 per card but I was able to print 2 invitations per page and it was $1.15 a page at my local print shop.  So rather then $30 for 20 invitations, I spent $11.50.  Can't beat that!  

Monday, December 17, 2012

What Is Next?

It has taken me a few weeks to settle on what will be my next project, but I have come to a decision.  Watch out main floor bath, here I come!

It is a small space as most 1/2 baths are...sink, mirror, toilet and the crown jewel - a wallpaper border.  UGH.  The space has tall ceilings but no window, hardwood floors and some very 80's gold accessories.  Have I showed you these babies before?

They are the same in all of our bathrooms.  They must have been on sale.  I can't imagine why!  

So right now the room looks like this...

Nothing to brag about.  But my mind is spinning and my Pinterest board is filling up.  And a few ideas have come together.

What do you think?  It is very possible that these ideas will change 10 more times but hey, that is OK.  You have to start somewhere!  And if you are wondering how to get started on a new space, I usually start on Pinterest collecting colors, textures and little pieces that get me excited.  I put them all in one board over time and let them marinate and usually a concept floats to the top.  I then like to use PicMonkey to collage the pics into one space as I have done above.  (Super simple - just right click on the pic in Pinterest and Save Image As, then download them into a PicMonkey collage.)

So as soon as I figure out what to do about the wallpaper I will get a move on.  Remove it? Prime right over it? Burn it?  Who knows :)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Gift List

It is time for a little gift giving and if you are still searching for just the right present then I may be able to help you out.  If you follow MD on Facebook then you have seen these little goodies over the past few weeks, but I thought I would put them all together in one spot so you can finish off your gift list quick.  So let's get it started.

We start with a little something for the man in your life...husband, dad, brother - this is a good one for all.
Do it

The Dollar Shave Club will send razors directly to your house for only a few dollars a month.  And the razors  are really good quality.  I know because my husband is part of the Club and um I might heist his razor a while bunch.  Ssshhhhhh.

Next up is this little pack of 10 mini OPI nail polishes.  And the colors rock!

Including my favs Lincoln Park After Dark, Big Apple Red & Bubble Bath.  $23.49 on Amazon!

Have any of you heard of Spoonflower?!?!?  Kinda sounds like one of those amazing frozen yogurt flavors at the I can't stop myself serve yourself yogurt places.  But no, this is a kick-butt fabric place that actually does let you do-it-yourself!  At Spoonflower you can create your very own fabric.

Oh yeah baby!  Create your own fabric!  But remember, this is a gift so buy a gift card for your fabric loving friend (and maybe pick one up for yourself too).

Still with me?  I hope so cause this is a goodie and at the top of my Christmas list.  My very favorite bloggers just released their first book.  Oh Young House Love how I love thee.  And I can't wait to get my hands on this book stuffed full of top notch DIYing projects!

You can find it right here on Amazon!

Wow, after all this gifting I am getting hungry.  So let's cook!

Another blogger gone published.  Smitten Kitchen is a great cooking blog and has just blessed us with a cookbook.  Yummo!  A great buy for all chefs, wanna-be chefs and people who like to look at pretty pictures of food and drool.  Pick it up at at Barnes & Noble.

So I'm hoping I have helped you wrap things up (hahaha I am so funny!).  And if you have any must gift gifts share the love in a comment below.  Happy wrapping!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Card Trees

I usually avoid getting the mail but this time of year I can't wait to get to the curb and grab all the Christmas Cards.  But the question is, what do you do with all the cards once you get them inside?  How about a Christmas Card Tree?  Here are a bunch of different ideas to create your very own.

How about a Branch Christmas Card Tree from Martha Stewart?  All you need are branches, stones, ribbons, a hole punch and some wire.  Click here to get the details.  


If your looking for a more modern idea try a String Christmas Card Tree!  My Poppet gives you the how-to on this fun idea.

String wall christmas tree

My good friend Liz set up a small Christmas Tree (yes, a real one that came from the ground) in her entry way to hang all the cards from.  Similar to this...

Christmas Card Ornaments

Here is another tree Little Lucy Lu.  And I love this one because it can be used year after year!

So lots of ideas to get your cards up and looking pretty.  But if you have been procrastinating and still haven't gotten those cards in the mail here are some fun ideas to inspire that Christmas Card Pic!

A photo like this would make the cutest Christmas card ever!


Fantastic idea for a Christmas card! Of course next year there will be another handsome little man in the photo...he could easily be added into this type of photo :)


Christmas photo ideas


I think we should get the whole family to pose like this and send out the pic as our Christmas card - it would be so touching.


What fun idea did you come up with this year for your Christmas Card?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

His Office Space: Part 2

OMG I just realized I never showed you what I pulled together for my husband's office.  I got you all excited with this post but never followed up.  What a tease!

Well you may remember it started out looking like this...

And of course I would have loved to put some paint on the walls and installed a huge picture window over-looking the lake but I had to think a little simpler - art & lighting.

I started out on Etsy and struck gold!  I found an original blueprint from the San Francisco Bay Bridge when the lower deck was still used for trains, not cars.  I didn't even know it was used for trains.  Love that!  It was not cheap but it was perfect.  I snatched it up and had it framed at Michael's.  Holy cow, also not cheap even with coupons!  But gorgeous!

And huge, which is what we wanted.  Next I added some framed pics of my daughter and I.  I know, my husband didn't have a single one.  Men!

And what is that yellow lamp nestled in with the frames?  It is the highlight of the room (no pun intended).  It is this beauty from West Elm.

Love, love, love!

You may be noticing I splurged a little more than normal on this makeover.  And yes I did in spots but this lamp and the large picture where totally worth it.  Now I also saved in some spots too.  The picture frames where both from Target - the one on the right from the Nate Berkus collection - and this next lamp was also from Target, including the lamp shade - which I'm thinking was also Nate Berkus but not certain.  His collection does a great job of bringing in some masculinity which is exactly what I was looking for.

It is hard to tell but the lamp shade is a great zig-zag pattern.  Wow, my husband is so trendy!  

So when it all came together his office went from meth lab (his words, not mine) to homey & comfortable (also his words) with just a few simple upgrades.  I call that a success!


Monday, December 3, 2012

Tree O Lights

Last year right around this time I made a great little discovery on Pinterest, but since all my holiday decorations were up I set it aside for a later date.  Well that later date has arrived and I love this project and can't wait to share it with you.

All you need is a tomato cage and some white lights.  Yup, that is it.  Wrap the lights around those babies and you have trees!  Just look...

I just love it!

I had to put a little weight at the bottom (a rock) so the wind didn't blow it over, but it looks awesome at night.  Gotta love Pinterest!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Yarn Wreath

One more wreath to share with you this week!

I love yarn things...wreaths, letters, candles, frames, oh the possibilities are endless and so simple.  For this one I started with a small foam wreath form, four different yarns and a hot glue gun.  I glued on the yarn to get started and then started wrapping.

I had no rhyme or reason to my yarn pattern.  I simply held them all together and wrapped.

I also like to glue as I go - putting a dab of glue every few inches just to make sure the yarn doesn't slip and slide.

Then you just wrap, wrap & wrap some more! You could wrap so it all lines up parallel.  On this I weaved back and forth for a less perfect look...kinda like me :)

I finished this wreath off with a bow made from wire ribbon from the dollar store.  But you could attach pine-cones, an ornament, jingle bells, a candy cane, mistletoe, a picture of me.  Ha!  Just making sure you were paying attention.

Wouldn't this make a great gift!  So would the yarn letters I made for friends a while back.  Click here to check those out.

Now it is your turn!
 We want to see your wreaths!  Click through to the MD Facebook page and share your creativity with us.  Attach a picture or a link to your blog.  Can't wait to see your creations!