Thursday, September 29, 2011

My little pumpkin

Yeah, this post is not about a child of mine *which I do not have*.  That is usually what people are talking about when they say something about a little pumpkin.  Seriously, I’m not crazy… not much, anyway.

This is post is about my new little tiny velvet pumpkin that I got for my birthday!!

Yeah I’m writing an entire post about it, that’s how special it is…

Here is what I’m talking about:



And no, I’m not referring to that pretty girl in the frame… but thanks!  The frame is another gift from my good friends in Columbus, Ohio.  Thanks Andi and Nick for my birthday gifts!!


The pumpkin is a Hot Skwash and you can tell a Hot Skwash because it has a little gold signature on the stem… mine’s the real deal, I know…I just checked!  They are made with a big circle of velvet gathered at the top and filled with plastic beans or some kind of weighted filler.  Then a real pumpkin stem is inserted in the opening and the whole thing is tied off to keep it together.  I imagine some glue is also used to keep the stem from coming out.  Someday when I find a deal on velvet, I’m gonna DIY some of these pumpkins!  And then little pumpkin will have some friends!

But for now, the frame and it’s little buddy, little pumpkin, are hanging out on the end table in the living room.  It’s a cute little display space that is safe from puppy drooling/licking/sniffing/knocking in the floor.  However, it’s not safe from kittens.  But so far Bandit hasn’t tried to chew on the pumpkin stem.  He did sniff it though, which could be a sign of future chewing-ness.  Hopefully he makes the smart decision to avoid my little pumpkin.  Or else one of them will have to go… and it’s not going to be the pumpkin!


Just kidding… sort of.

Love my new little pumpkin and the feeling of Fall around the house!


Monday, September 26, 2011

A sPooKy PuRpLe & BlAcK HaLLoWeeN mAnTeL!

So, while my own mantel is seriously lacking in Autumn character, I recently decorated my parents’ mantel for Halloween!  Last year we did a haunted mansion theme for our annual costume party and the mantel was the centerpiece!  This year I wanted to switch things up just a bit and do a new color scheme.  The purple Happy Haunting garland was the jumping off point.  I’m really excited about what we came up with this year!  Have a look!


A couple of old brown jugs hold a few sprays of dried purple statice flowers, a reminder of time long past.  A purple candle lights a set of silver glitter pumpkins perched on a candelabra.  The rotted mantel scarf trails along the edge where a glittery garland wishes us “Happy Haunting”.  Overhead, purple and black bats are circling, and a giant spider creeps along the wall of family portraits.


A black skull finds eternal rest atop a pile of old books, undisturbed by the purple glitter spider crawling along the spines.


A crow has taken up residence on a miniature “staircase to nowhere”.  Black and purple tapers light the scene from crystal candlesticks and beside, a silver glitter skull stares open-mouthed into the candle flames.

skull flourish

I had a lot of fun putting together this haunted collection of items.  The brown jugs are antiques that my family has collected over the years.  The silver pumpkins were dollar store lighted pumpkins that I spray painted and glittered then placed on the candelabra in lieu of candles.   The crow and creepy cloth are also from the Dollar Tree.  The glitter spider is from Walmart.  The staircase belongs in a dollhouse that we started but never completed building.  It adds a creepy vibe, don’t you think?  The skulls are from Marshalls and Pier 1.  The purple grapevine pumpkin is from Home Goods and the garland I cut out of purple paper and glittered. 

So far so good?  How do you like our haunted mantel? 

Come back soon for more spooky decorations as we continue haunting Fort Guthrie for our Halloween party!


P.S.  I’m linking up to Layla’s Fall Mantel Party over at The Lettered Cottage.  Swing by and check it out!

The Lettered Cottage

Falling for Autumn

It’s that time of year again… September is drawing to a close… leaves are gathering on the yard and driveway… there is a chill in the air!  Yay, fall is here!  Time to break out the fall decor and spruce the house!

Here’s a look around at some of my updates, starting with the living room console.  I just added a wonky pumpkin (my favorite kind!) and a bunch of leaves to bring it some harvest charm.  Notice anything new here?


That’s right, [people who have memorized my decor] it’s a new lamp!!  I have lamp envy for all those people in blogland who seemingly replace their lamps every year.  But I have more important things to spend money on, like wonky pumpkins!  So I wasn’t in the market for a new lamp.  I didn’t really need another lamp (or so I thought) but when I spotted this cutie at the Habitat Restore, I snatched it up quicker than you can say “fifteen dollars!”  Mama was trying to filch it from me the entire day with her longing looks and talk of how it would match her picture frames in the guest room.  I was about to cave, too, thinking she could just use it until I needed it back someday.  But once we got it home, I ran around the house trying it out in several different spots.  Then, I placed it right here on the console table.  And it was love at first sight.  Cue the Hallelujah chorus… LOOOOOOOOVE!

I never thought a lamp would work here since the outlet is situated right behind the cabinet and you have to pull it away from the wall to accommodate for the plug.  Then you have that annoying gap between the wall and the furniture mocking you all the time.  But after seeing it, I figured I could live with the gap, since the little lamp is so pretty and cute and matches perfectly!!  Then I remembered this extension cord I had that has a flat plug.  Hooray engineers!  It worked perfectly.  Wasted a perfectly good extension cord where no extension cord was needed, but I was able to push the cabinet almost all the way back to the wall.  Happy ending for me and my new lamp.


Ah, where was I?  Oh yes, fall decor tour.  Ahem… moving on. 

Here is the dining room in all its harvest finery, as usual:


I set the table with Mama’s lovely harvest dinnerware and chargers.  Don’t worry, she’ll get them back (and my table will be naked!) after Halloween.  Right now her house is getting decked for our annual Halloween party, so I’m just keeping the dinnerware company until they are needed. ;)


I wanted to switch things up this year with my table decor, but when I put the cornucopia on the silver tray, I just had to leave it on the table.  It looks like dinner is served!  That is if you want metallic gourds, Indian corn, leaves, and mini pumpkins for dinner.  :)


I decked the chandelier with it’s usual metallic fruit ornaments and added a leaf garland to the grapevine.


I did add one new thing to the dining room this year.  The iron urn with fall floral and my new DIY lanterns found a home on the flatware cabinet in the corner.


And I had some fun decorating my little white shelf in the kitchen with a harvest plate and my pumpkin votive holders.  Cute, cute!


Now that my house is ready for fall, I can concentrate on getting my parents’ house ready for our annual Halloween party!  Come back soon for some spooky Halloween decor!


P.S.  The House Tour page is up-to-date with all new fresh photos.  Click over for some never-before-seen updates in the living room, kitchen, and office!

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Earth laughs in flowers…

After showing you my new potting bench a couple weeks ago, I realized that while the table is nice, the rest of the area is a little sad and lonely looking.  I thought it needed some outdoor art to liven things up!  I put on my thinking cap and came up with a cute idea for a garden sign to hang over the potting bench.

Lucky for me, I found an old shelf in the garage leftover after my little office closet update.  Hooray for not throwing things away!  It was the perfect size for my needs.  So I set to work in Publisher and designed this lovely garden quote sign. 


It was unfinished wood on one side (thank you previous owners for not painting both sides of your office shelves… serendipity, no?) so I thought a nice gray stain with some “antiquing” would look cool and natural.  I used acrylic paint watered down to wash the gray color.  Then I added the quote with a paint pen, and drew on some flowers and vines.  The cute font is from; it’s called Leaf1.  Once it was all dry, I added some distressing to make it look not so new.  I sanded off the edges and some of the paint from the letters just to rough it up a bit.  <—Really need to get an orbital sander to help with jobs like this!  Lastly, I sealed it with three coats of polyurethane to help it stand up to the elements out on the deck.  Here’s how it looks hanging over my potting bench:


It gives the area some presence now, instead of just being a random table in the corner. :)  Can’t wait till Spring comes again so I can get some use out of this thing!!


I love my new sign and I am planning to make another one for my mother’s nearly-completed greenhouse!  There’s still another old shelf to be used, after all!  The next one will be cherry stained with white lettering, I think.  Simple. 

What do you think of my new outdoor art?


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Oooh La La Light Fixture!

Remember when I told you how I was pining for these lovely light fixtures for my den?  Well, my sweet Mama bought them for me as an early birthday present!  Yay!!!!  And my Papa was here today and installed them for me!  Double Yay!!!  And here I am to show them to you in their new home…. can you say it with me?  Triple Yay!!!


Here’s how the sitting room side of the den looks now with its new light:


And here’s how the sewing room side looks with its new light:


I can already tell the difference over my sewing table.  The new lights are a few inches lower than the old ones which lets more light bounce off the ceiling.  Plus the size of the shade is way bigger than before so more light can escape.  And of course, they are lovely to look upon, unlike their predecessors:

IMG_4517  IMG_7630

The base of the fixture is a dark bronze, almost black color.  The shade is cream with a linen texture.

Lights off…


Lights on!


Thanks Mama for my birthday present!! :)

What do you think of my new lovely lights? 


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Shutter turned Potting Bench


It just occurred to me that summer is almost over, and I haven’t shared my summer potting bench with you!  So here it is:

A while ago I saw this cute project on The Lettered Cottage for a shutter-topped console table.  Isn’t this a clever idea?

Their tutorial for the console table can be found here

While I loved the idea of using an old shutter for the table top, I thought it would be even cuter styled as a potting bench.  The slats in the shutter would allow water and potting soil to fall right through to keep the tabletop clean.  Plus it’s a fun way to incorporate a pre-made shutter, which are a dime a dozen at the Habitat Restore.  Okay, maybe not a dime a dozen, but only about $5-$10 each. 

First we selected our shutter which would dictate the finished size of the table.  Then I let my Papa work his woodworking magic for the rest of the table.  Thanks Papa!  He ended up piecing scrap wood for the sides (to save money) and used slats to build a lower shelf for additional storage.  Since I wanted to be able to store little things on the lower shelf, too, I added three pieces of tile over the slats.  Then we primed the whole thing with oil-based primer and painted it with exterior paint so it can stand up to the elements out on the deck.

Here it is in its new home on the lower deck, all ready for my gardening projects!


The lower shelf gives me plenty of room to store pots, tools, and potting soil.  That way everything is right here when I’m ready to plant!


The top shelf has space for my potting project du jour.  This thing is going to get a lot of use next Spring!  For all this time, I’ve been potting things while working on the steps, the ground, or the driveway.  Hooray for the potting bench!


I put the new bench in the corner of the lower deck under the cantilever.  Hopefully that will keep it looking like new longer, since it’s a bit more protected from rain and sun. 


The best part about my new table is that it’s so versatile.  Being simply styled with only one shelf, it doesn’t scream “I’m a Potting Bench!!”  So, we cleared it off and used it as a serving table for drinks at our Memorial Day party back in May… potting bench by day, beverage station by night!


What do YOU think of my super functional repurposed shutter table potting bench?

I think it’s really hard to keep it clean!  Perhaps I shall paint it black. :)


Thursday, September 08, 2011

DIY Party Decorations: Banner and Pom Poms


I’m back with another DIY Party project from the apple themed bridal shower.  Just to refresh your memory, here is our inspiration board:

apple shower ideas apple centerpiece, apple cupcakes, green tissue pom poms, apple cookies, heart garland, apple snack, caramel apples, apple tarts, apple martini jar 

The next couple of projects on my list, after the heart garland, were the tissue pom poms and a pennant banner (not pictured).  

For the pom poms, I used Martha Stewart’s tutorial and regular ole tissue paper in shades of green, red, and orange.  I bought a couple packs for $1 each and reused some pieces leftover from holidays past, so overall, this was a very inexpensive decoration!

I recommend a feline assistant for this project, too, just be sure to get him out of the bag full of tissue paper before he shreds it too much. :) 


After a bit of folding, tying and clipping, this is what I was left with: 



Here they are at the party, mingling with a couple paper lanterns:


Easy, affordable and cheerful party decor!

For the next project, I wanted to make a congratulatory banner for the bride.  Something to hang over the party table and incorporate all the colors and patterns of fall.  I chose to do a printed pennant banner with the message “Congrats Katie”.  I used Microsoft Publisher to design each pennant.  A drew a triangle shape and filled it in with a picture background; each one is different, some are image files from scrapbook paper, and some are actually images of fabric swatches.  I chose lighter colored backgrounds to save ink when printing.  Some of the images were darker at the start, so I just increased the translucency of those to make them less colorful.  Inside each triangle I added a letter. Then I simply printed each page and cut out the triangles.  It’s actually a two-sided banner, with the opposite side bearing white pennants and colored letters with the same message.  I arranged the pennants in order with the appropriate white one on reverse so it spelled out the message correctly front and back (it took a few tries to get it right!)  Then I punched holes in the top and strung them on twine.

Here is how it looks hanging in my sewing room:


It’s quite long, but works well for our big party room.  For a shorter banner you could print two smaller pennants per page, or break up your message into two banners and hang them one on top of the other.

And here are some of those pretty background prints:

IMG_6686 crop

Here’s a view of the flip side… taken at the party:


There you are, another easy and colorful party project, for just the cost of ink and paper.

Throw in some crepe paper streamers and our heart garland, and you’ve got a room ready for a celebration! 


Tuesday, September 06, 2011

DIY Party Decorations: Paper Heart Garland

My sister just hosted a bridal shower for a coworker and she asked for my help with the decorations.  How nice!  :)  Since the shower was last weekend, we planned a not-quite-fall apple themed soiree.  I whipped up a design board for inspiration from my favorite source: Google image search.  Here is all the appley goodness:
We decided the paper heart garland was a must, so I got to work replicating it.  I found a tutorial here at Colour Her Hope.  Here is my version:

heart garland header

step 1
Select your paper. 
You could simply buy double-sided scrapbook paper, or print your own, you could even use newspaper or old book pages.  The original inspiration garland was made with an old copy of Shakespeare’s plays.  Since ours was for a wedding shower, something romantic was in order.  So I searched online for text from Romeo and Juliet and also Pride and Prejudice.  I just copied and pasted the text into word and resized it to fit the page, taking out some of the paragraph breaks.  I changed the fonts, too, R+J to Georgia font, and P+P to Liorah BT (a script font) to mix it up a little.  Then I printed 12 pages front and back of each one on ivory colored paper.  FYI, 12 pages included the whole R+J play, and only seven chapters of P+P.  :)  After printing, I decided that the paper was too bland and it needed some antiquing, so I tea-stained all the pages. 
step 2
Cut your strips. 
After they were dry I ironed them flat and cut the pages into 1” strips.  My version of the paper heart requires two large (1” x 11”) strips, two medium (1” x 9.5”) strips, and three small (1” x 8.5”) strips, plus two staples.  :) 
The real garland has double sided paper, but for this tutorial, I just used a scrap piece of paper with text on only one side.  (It is from Michael’s master’s thesis in case you feel like reading the strips… lol)  Don’t forget to use double-sided paper for the full effect!
step 3
Arrange your strips for one half of the heart. 
I started in the middle of the heart with one small strip folded in half to make a 1” x 4.25” piece.   Then layer behind it one large, medium, and small strip.
Line up the bottom edges of your four strips, and fold down the opposite edges one at a time to meet the other end, starting with the smallest first.  Each one will be progressively larger and loop out to make it look like half a heart on one side. 
step 4  
Arrange the second half opposite the first half.
Hold onto that end and add three more strips, large, medium, then small on the other side of your center strip.  Fold them down like you did the first half, to match.  Now you have a whole heart with three strips per side.  You can do it with more strips to make more little hearts inside.  I did some with three and some with two for variation.
step 5
Staple together.
Now align the strips by laying the heart against the table so the front face will be perfectly flat and then staple through all layers at the bottom point.  One more staple in the middle of the heart will secure all the pieces for hanging.  Lastly, punch a hole in the center strip at the top.  That’s how you will hang your hearts on the garland.  Repeat steps 2-5 for as many hearts as you want.  I made 20 of each kind (two and three strip versions) for a total of 40.  This made quite a bit of garland, like 20’ or so, which is a LOT!  But we needed a lot for our big party room.
And here are the real versions that I made with the tea stained “literature”.
step 6
String them up.
Decide what you want to use to hang your garland and tie little loops at the top of each heart.  You could just string them on there without the loops, but the loop gives it more movement after you hang it, so it can twist and turn and dance.  I used sisal twine (I found this at the hardware store in a huge roll… Score!) and strung each one on the twine and tied it in place.  I tried to randomly arrange them about 5” apart.  I would put them slightly farther apart if I was doing it again, but I had about 40 hearts so I figured I could put them closer together. 
I found it really helps to have a feline assistant to chew on your twine and bat the paper hearts off the table.  If you need one for your project, Bandit would be happy to oblige.
step 7
Hang up your garland, then stand back and admire your handiwork!
IMG_6659  IMG_6662
You can customize these for your party theme with colored paper and yarn, curling ribbon or string.  I also think single hearts would make beautiful Christmas tree ornaments.  Maybe use 1/2” strips and make tiny hearts to hang on the tree.  And of course, this would be perfect for Valentine’s decor. :)  This one is destined to live on after the shower as wedding reception decor for our bride!
Check back soon for more projects from the apple themed shower!