Wedding Stuff: Tree Decor & Vintage Rings

Since we’re planning a backyard wedding, we have been trying to come up with thrifty ways to dress up the dogwood tree we’ll be getting hitched under. I really wanted to take strips of fabric, cut them at different lengths, and dye them, ombre-style (Pete: “What’s an ombre?”). Our colors are technically yellow and grey, so I decided to go with golden yellow RIT dye. I loosely followed the tutorial by Green Wedding Shoes on how to make an ombre fabric backdrop.

I need to stop pretending like DIY projects will go as smoothly as they look on wedding blogs. I have discovered that I am not especially crafty. I might be able to take lovely photos and draw illustrations, but when it comes to cutting fabric or handling a hot glue gun, I. Am. A. Mess. For this project, I measured out the different amounts of fabric dye in the pans, with the hope that the strips of fabric would have different monochromatic tones. Unfortunately, when I went to get the pot of boiling water from the kitchen, a gust of wind swept the pans upside down, sending the dye all over the place. Sigh. Pete came to the rescue and salvaged the dye while putting rocks into the pans to weigh them down, but we had trouble getting the dye to stick to the muslin fabric since it was often folded over and not fully dyeing.

When I was cleaning up and feeling fairly defeated, I glanced down at the newspaper our bucket was sitting on and saw an entire front page written by our officiant, Naila, complete with photos of her and her boyfriend. It was just what I needed to remind myself that all of these DIY projects might not go perfectly, but at the end of the day, Naila will marrying Pete and I, which is kind of the best thing ever as far as I’m concerned (although Turkey Hill’s Choco Mint Chip is a fierce competitor for runner-up).

The fabric might all be the same color, but I still think it will look pretty (when it’s less wrinkly and thread-filled). Here’s an idea of the look we were going for (below), with pieces hanging at different lengths above us during the ceremony.

In other wedding news, Pete and I got our wedding bands at Halloween in Philly. I went with a delicate, art deco/victorian ring to match the 1915-1920s era engagement ring.

Pete went with a really simple, thin gold band that looks a bit like his father’s, which I think is nice. He has never worn jewelry before, so he just wanted to go with something as comfortable as possible.

Our wedding is five and a half months away, so we still have some time to play around with more projects. We’ve mostly been focusing our attention on fixing up the yard…I’ll be sure to share more about that soon!

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{A Day of Crafting} Our Festive Wreath Roundup

This weekend, Pete and I went to the Holiday Art Star Craft Bazaar with our friends Valerie and Daryl. Although we showed great restraint in not buying anything, we gained lots of inspiration and motivation for wreath-making. You might recall my wreath ramblings from a while back, so I was excited to officially make my first ever wreath.

Us girls got to crafting and enjoying a 30 Rock marathon while the boys went on a man-date which consisted of record shopping. Pete came back with A Chipmunk Christmas, so I have that to look forward to.

While I had only finished a few inches of my wreath, Valerie had already made two gorgeous, festive wreaths that look particularly moody in this lighting. Her looks were inspired by this crow wreath (how cute are those burlap flowers?!) and this black and white striped wreath, while mine was inspired by this yarn wreath. Valerie made her wreaths from fabric she already owned and some materials from the dollar store…yay to us being thrifty! Oh, and thank goodness for Pinterest. I love me some holiday inspiration.

My wreath materials consisted of some sparkly ribbon, yarn, felt balls and hand-sewn, felt birds I purchased a few years back from the lovely and talented Alexandra Hunt (aka Mrs. Shortcake from Weddingbee). And most importantly, a whole mess of hot glue gun sticks.

Although I ended up covered in glitter and ripping off my freshly painted nail polish with hot glue, I felt a sense of mini Martha Stewart-esque accomplishment that I can only hope will repeat during the week ahead.

Pete always peeks at me through our front door, thus the face and finger prints that are in desperate need of some Windex attention.

Has anyone else crafted their own wreath or holiday decor this year? I would love to see your latest creations if you want to comment with links below!

Holiday Art Star Craft Bazaar

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This weekend marks the Holiday Art Star Craft Bazaar, with festivities beginning this Friday night, November 18th with a VIP preview party from 6pm to 9pm for $25. My friends at Love Me Do Photography will be providing photobooth fun, so be sure to check it out! The craft show will be free and open to the public on Saturday, November 19th and Sunday the 20th from 11am  to 6pm at the 23rd Street Armory in Philadelphia. I am looking forward to attending with friends and afterwards, we plan to make our own holiday wreaths inspired by the talented Philadelphia area craftsters. I’m all stocked up on yarn and can’t wait to get started and share what we’ve made with you guys. I am hoping mine vaguely resembles a wreath by the time I’m finished, but if it ends up being a bundled mess of hot glue and yarn, I can always give it to my parents to hang on the fridge (only half serious, mom). Hopefully this will inspire me to give our front door a fresh coat of white paint since it is looking sad and yellowed.

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Anyway, if you are in the area, be there or be square! I haven’t attended the holiday bazaar before, but I’ve been to all of their summertime craft shows in the past and they’re always a hit—especially when it comes to scoring original items for your friends and family.

{DIY} Holiday Wreath Love

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As much as we may not care to admit it, the holidays are approaching at the end of the month, which means decking the halls with all things festive. There will be some wreath-crafting taking place in my not so distant future, so I’m trying to wrangle up some of my favorite DIY holiday wreaths to inspire. I tend to be drawn to the not-so-obvious, colorful wreaths with lots of detail. I haven’t settled on a design just yet, but I wanted to post these to share with readers who are interested in making their own decor.

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Who else is considering handcrafting an alternative-looking wreath this winter season? Be sure to comment below to show off your creations if you’re crazy ahead of the game and you’ve already made your own holiday decor!

Before & After: A $10 Seashell Cross Stitched Table

You might remember me talking about this cross-stitched table I bought at ReStore a couple of weeks ago for $10. The seashell look isn’t for me, so I planned on painting it white to match the table in our sunroom and replacing the stitched piece. At first I thought an old page from my grandfather’s Animal Encyclopedia might look cool, but the pages ended up being too small to fit inside the framed area. Instead, I decided to rip out a page from my American Illustration book, where a painting by one of my favorite artists, Jason Holley, jumped out at me. I’ve always loved this illustration and thought it would mesh well with the look of the sunroom.

Here’s a before and after shot of the new side table, which goes well with the bunny pillow less than a foot away. Sorry Pete, but I love me some bunnies.

Speaking of bunnies, ours definitely dig the table revamp, I made sure to get their final approval.

Our chinchilla Maude didn’t really care for the bunny side table revamp (she’s more of a seashell girl), even after I gave her a few scritches to try to win her over.

Overall, this project was incredibly fast to tackle (thank god for spray paint), affordable and it gives our sunroom a bit more personality.

What are some simple DIY projects you’ve attempted lately?

Before & After: Revamping the Kitchen Floor

This weekend was spent making over our kitchen floor, which as you can see, started off pretty grim when we moved in a little over a month ago. The old floor tile felt dirty on our feet and no matter how many times we mopped it, it still remained a lovely shade of stained, yellow-ish blue. Not cute. We decided to shop around for affordable peel and stick, vinyl tiles in black and white. We were surprised when we found out both Home Depot and Lowe’s did not sell simple black and white, vinyl stick-on tiles. I called several tile distributors in the area and got a lot of “Ha, are you serious? I haven’t seen a checkerboard floor since the 80’s” responses. Uhh, obviously these people don’t browse Pinterest on a regular basis.

I ended up finding a wholesale tile distributor in New Jersey called Mazer Wholesale, where they sell packs of 20 white or black tiles for $7/piece with a 5-year warranty. Yes, please! We were able to give our floors a new look for under $100 in just one weekend, so I think it was definitely worth it. The tiles arrived just two days after my order was placed, so I couldn’t have been more happy with the shopping experience. Plus, the owner even posted a black & white checkerboard tutorial video on YouTube explaining how to install the tiles easily. I have a feeling we’ll be ordering more tiles from them to give our bathrooms a quick floor fix as well.

Anyway, back to the old floors! This is what our kitchen looked like when we had our initial walk through of the home.

Here’s how the floors look now, with our bright blue walls and IKEA storage area. I really like peeking out to our other rooms and seeing the transition of colors. I definitely think the downstairs feels a lot more like “us” now. I am excited to do the same to our upstairs, which for the most part, hasn’t been touched since we moved in (eep!).

The first thing we did was decide how we wanted to install the tiles on our floor. We were trying to figure out if we wanted to lay them diagonally or straight. We ended up choosing the diagonal route (left), which took a lot longer than it would have if we were working with straight lines, but I think it makes the room look wider. We began laying the tiles from the front, righthand corner and placed all of the whole tiles.

Once we finished sticking all of the whole pieces to the floor, we had to start cutting out patterns to place the pieces which were touching the walls. It was incredibly difficult to cut pieces around vents, quarter round and door frames, but with some patience were were able to knock it out by Sunday afternoon. We both definitely had our fair share of dramatically flopping on the floor out of pure exhaustion and having sticky finger syndrome for 48 hours, but it wasn’t anything Goo Gone couldn’t help fix.

Our vents were the most frightening shade of brown I had ever seen (sorry for the lack of a “before” photo), so I sprayed them with black RustOleum. It’s surprising how much of a difference the black vents make in the room—everything looks a lot more clean and polished now.

Here’s a view from our dining room, where you can see one example of the flashing (is that what it’s called?) in the doorway, which Pete replaced throughout the kitchen and mudroom.

I really like the retro vibe of the kitchen and although it still needs some TLC (painting the door white, touching up the white in the mudroom, hanging airy curtains), I think it suits our personalities perfectly. Speaking of personalities, I am so happy that I am spending my life with this boyfriend of mine. We went through crazy mood swings together during these two days, which consisted of excited-exhausted-delirious-hot-and-bothered-starving-hopeful-proud-and-smelly. There’s nothing I enjoy more than singing songs together and inserting the words “Betty White” or “schloops.” We are both absolutely nutty and I couldn’t be more ecstatic to share our quirkiness together.

That being said, I felt awful that Pete has to tolerate my obsessive, perfectionist tendencies. I’m a crazy person and insisted that we have the tiles line up perfectly where the kitchen meets the mudroom. Luckily for the ginger, I assigned myself to a large majority of the painfully difficult tiles, which resulted in a lot of grunting, throwing parchment paper pattern balls and occasional swearing on my part. The worst was trying to place tiles underneath the incredibly heavy oven, which cannot be moved out of the way due to its awkward placement. Runner up for the worst was trying to get tiles behind the fridge without cracking the tiles we had already placed in front of it.

Here’s a view of our mudroom, which now has brand spanking new cove moulding at the bottom. This is one of the many rooms on our neverending to-do list which needs major lovin’. The creepy door leading to nowhere looks like someone from a horror movie clawed at the trim for days. I definitely need to sand the window and door frames and give everything a nice coat of white paint, not to mention toss the previous owner’s little tree car freshener. Baby steps.

All in all, I think this is one of those budget-friendly projects which can really makeover the entire look of a room in just a day or two. Plus, we’ve come pretty darn close to resembling the inspiration photo I “pinned” on Pinterest (one of my new favorite websites!) a while back:

Has anyone else ever tackled a quick, affordable, DIY floor makeover? If so, how did it go (comment with photos if you have them!)?

Kitchen: Before & Progress

This past weekend was spent making over our kitchen, which was much-needed to say the least. My parents and grandma visited from Delaware, which was a nice break. My dad power washed outside while Pete tested out his new battery-powered weed wacker (which he has since returned). My mom and I worked on removing the last of the bunny wallpaper, patching and sanding the ceiling and priming everything. Pete and I decided to paint the kitchen Martha Stewart’s Lagoon color, which matches a lot of our kitchen accessories.

In case you need a refresher of what the kitchen looked like a month ago, here are photos from the initial walk through of the house. The wallpaper which was once bright white had turned an unfortunate shade of brown. The same can be said for all of the ceilings throughout the house, which have been taking at least three coats of paint to cover on average.

We have plans to get a new sink unit and vinyl, black and white checkered floor tiles once things settle down a bit for us. I am in the job hunting process and Pete just accepted a brand spankin’ new job, so we are going to wait a wee bit before we make any purchases for the moment.

The light fixtures in the kitchen made me cringe even more than the floor, which always looks dirty no matter how much you mop it. Luckily Pete has picked up on the handyman thing very quickly, so he has been tackling a lot of electrical projects throughout the house, including simple light fixture installations.

Here’s a glimpse of the kitchen right before we moved in—filled with painting supplies and tools galore.

Notice the wires popping out of the wall from a hideous light fixture which was underneath the cabinets. We ripped it out and Pete replaced it with a much more updated version.

Here’s one of the most unfortunate, unflattering photos ever taken. You’re welcome. This is what I look like after sanding a recently spackled ceiling. And yes, I am wearing glasses under my safety glasses.

My parents brought their dog Whiskey, who took a nap on my grandma’s shoe while she took a nap. It was definitely a priceless sight.

Here’s the kitchen in all of its patched/painted glory. I know it’s only in progress, but I think the pop of color really makes a difference in the mood of the room. The updated light fixtures seem to make an impact as well…thank god for no more florescent lighting.

The door to the mudroom was incredibly scratched, chipping and yellowed, but two fresh coats of paint made it look a lot better. We’ll eventually paint all of the doors throughout the house (we are on a budget, people!) and probably swap out the hardware for something more modern.

Pete’s sister gifted us this adorable, mosaic owl from HomeGoods, which I fell in love with instantly. Yesterday my friend Cubby came to visit and she gave me the mama version of the owl as a belated birthday gift. People sure do know how to make my owl-lovin’ self smile. The chalkboard calendar was from Shauna and Stephen of Something’s Hiding in Here as a thank you for drawing a portrait of their cute pooches for them.

Here’s a peek at some of our kitchen gadgets, which were a gift from my friend Susan a few years ago. I especially love the little veg-hog veggie brush. The “how to eat a lobster” serving tray was a find at one of my favorite thrift stores in the area, Impact.

This is our bird hook for hanging Betty White’s leash, our keys and any other randomness.

I’m hoping to be able to add more photo booth pictures to our fridge after we go to the shore in a couple of weeks with Pete’s family. It’s the little things that make me happy.

This Grandma Was a Cowboy painting is by Jason Sho Green, one of my favorite artists whose exhibition I visited at Art Star a few years back.

Quirky aprons, linens and pot holders are just the thing to cheer up a previously dreary kitchen. The apron and potholders were a gift from my brother and lovely sister-in-law this past Christmas. The tea towel below was from our friend Valerie, who shares an appreciation for all things embroidered. I’m so blessed to have such wonderful family and friends who know our style so well. I really love looking around a room and thinking of someone when I see a certain object.

Like this teapot, which was given to me by the always stylish Cubby…I like how the cherry red contrasts with the blueish green tint of the room.

Betty White approves of the new lighting since she can see the crumbs on the floor a lot better now.

Speaking of crumbs, she was dying for a Beggin’ Strip while I was taking photos, so I had to oblige. This is her smug, I-knew-I-could-get-a-treat-out-of-you-if-I-flashed-my-puppy-eyes stare. I’m such a sucker.

Anyway, this is our kitchen progress so far! We are trying to make major impact changes without putting a dent in our wallets, which is really making the place start to feel like home. What little changes did you make to your home to make it your own when you first moved in?