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Reunion Centerpieces – On the Cheap

15 Sep

This summer I helped to organize my 20-year high school reunion. As the Marketing Director-type on the three-person committee, I was charged with the visual and promotional side of things. I designed the invitations, set us up on Facebook, and thought through the decorations.

To say our budget was tight was an understatement. My two dear friends and I were footing the bill for this thing and praying that our classmates would make their reservations. My goal for the decorations was to spend as little as possible but still have a nice, thoughtful vibe for the event.


And we don't look 20 years out of high school, do we? DO WE?!?










I was inspired by by Miss Mustard Seed, who even gives a tutorial on letter-glittering but first of all, I couldn’t afford the German glass and secondly, I couldn’t find chipboard numbers ANYWHERE! I was fine doing my own gluing and glittering—I have a first-grade daughter for goodness sake, I knew I would have assistance. I checked everywhere (meaning online and at every hobby store in town) and I could find a lot of chipboard letters but no numbers. I could find thick wooden numbers and sticker numbers but no chipboard numbers.

OK, so nobody mentioned the centerpieces but look how much they add. 🙂











What I did find was the number style I was looking for in a stencil and foam core board in our colors, blue and red. (You could just get white foam core and use the color glitter that you want but it’s a lot more difficult. The backs of these numbers were just not as nice. The white showed through.)











So I took out the Exacto Knife, cut me a bunch o’ 9s and 1s, and got to gluing and glittering. This was tedious work, so I just set up a glitter station on my dining table and went to it every day for 30 minutes or so.

I bought small dowels but realized that Bamboo Skewers worked a lot better than anything. They were the right size and weight plus their sharp ends poked into both the foam core and the floral foam I used at the bottom of the bucket

I owned the buckets already (from some past party) but found some additional ones at Garden Ridge for $4.99. Those along with some red and blue cellophane (about $5 per roll) and I think they turned out pretty good.











Glitter’s a bitch. It gets everywhere. Kids want to play in it and they track it everywhere on their shoes. And sometimes I had just worked out when I was working on it so it was sticking to my sweaty neck and stuff. In general I made a mess, but I was proud of the centerpieces.

I did them in blue and red.






Is this working?

21 Jul

Plus will the kids just swivel the heck out of those until they make divots in my nice black table?

I’m surprisingly feeling more contemporary in my tastes as of late and so decided to mix up my dining room a bit. I have two of these Eames-style chairs. I bought them on a whim at an Antiques Fair in Iowa about five years ago. They were $15 a piece. A smokin’ deal, I know!

Anyway, one has been in my dressing room as the Quiet Chair in the corner (which just means more space to throw clothes) and one in my six-year-old daughter’s room (she’s quickly learning the quiet-chair-turned-clothes-storage space as well). I love my black spindle chairs but they are kinda crappy (read: some of the tops come off when you try to move them or the spindles pop out). Anyway, I’m just trying this . . . I painted the adjoining living room Robin’s Egg Blue last year, so that color works ok, but I seriously don’t know about the style.


Here’s how it looked before.

pretty, I think.










Here’s with the change.

I think I'll ask for a good camera for my b-day. These photos aren't so good.

Are they working?

They would be working a lot better if there were four instead of two, right?

Should I do four different chairs? Too much, right?

Anyone know where I can get another two of these for that price? 🙂

Any advice/feedback is truly appreciated. And I apologize for my photography . . . I don’t have the lighting thing down quite yet (never mind I’m shooting with my iPhone). Thanks!

Summer Solstice

24 Jun

It’s my favorite day (or one of them at least). It’s June 21, the Summer Solstice and longest day of sunlight of the year. For someone with a serious case of (laugh if you must) S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder), I take sunlight pretty seriously.
So maybe that’s why I haven’t been blogging. I’m not alone, I’ve noticed. Many of my favorite sites are on hiatus or at least have taken a noticeable break. I have been busy. There was a wedding.

Loved this dress. It moved like a peacock.













Then my mom’s b-day.

The Card Shower I organized on Facebook was a hit.










Then a dance recital.

Being goofy.










Then a trip to the beach.

Sunset Beach, North Carolina










With some highlights.

Grandpa's mini me.












Fortunately, we fly home through the always-inspiring Charleston, South Carolina. The day we left I had a Top 10 meal here.

Seriously TOP 10 with roasted vegetables, lots of olive oil and pesto.












And loved these at the restaurant.

Wish my ceilings were tall enough for something like this, but not-so-much.











Then we came home to lots of this.

A brand-spanking-new ballpark and my favorite time of year.











And, of course, this . . .

We have a great neighborhood pool.












So, when I’m feeling guilty about not blogging much, it’s not that I haven’t been doing much, it’s just sitting down and writing. I did hit my favorite Antiques Fair of the year last weekend with two of my favorite gals . . . more on that later. For now, enjoy the long, long day and get as much summer-lovin’ in as you can.



'60s Manners Book turned Campy Artwork

6 Jun

Whatever you call it–kitschy, campy, ironic . . . I like things in my house to make people smile. And I finally finished a project that does just that. I have saved this book now for over 10 years knowing that I wanted to do something with it. It must have been one of my mother-in-law’s books, but I loved it (definitely not for the same reason she probably bought it).

Only 95 cents but it's a wealth of information.












It was first published in 1963, which makes it oh-so-appropriate for my 1958 house.  The title pages are really what struck me–actually the titles themselves. Things like “How to Sweeten Your Personality,” “Avoiding Awkward Situations,” and “How to Add to Your Husband’s Prestige” (my personal favorite). Each chapter has a distinct color theme and a line drawing of a typical (I guess) 1960s scenario.

This one is MM's favorite. See, she's telling her son to be quiet because Daddy is back there working on the bills.













I found nicely worn-looking black frames at GardenRidge for $7.99 each and backed each page with a fun piece of scrapbook paper. (PS – I’m not a scrapbooker or a “cropper” or whatever you call them, but those stores have a lot of fun things and awesome paper designs that can be used a hundred different ways.) Most of the paper I chose had a retro vibe to it and I really think it works with each of  the pages. They are far from perfect, which actually adds to the charm for me. Some of the drawings are far from centered and the type is all left-justified, so none of them are the same but I trimmed them as closely as possible to show as much of the paper as I could.

This one reminds me of my friend Suzanne, who loves greeting cards--the dirtier the better.













I ended up hanging six of them. I typically do things in odd-numbered groupings but the space really called for six, plus there were so many goodies to choose from and I wanted all of the good colors represented.

The photos didn't turn out very well. There's a huge glass door behind them and a lot of glare. I tried to do it at night and still glare from the chandelier.










I hung them in the dining room . . . appropriate I believe because this is where most people struggle with their manners. 🙂 Anyway, I must stop writing now, I have some reading to do–on How to Sweeten My Personality.

The Pink Pantry

13 May

In our 1950s home we do not have a kitchen pantry. When we moved in 10 years ago, I had my contractor add shelves to a kitchen broom closet and lived with that for a few years. Eventually, I even bought the little wire pull-out “drawers” so it was a little more functional.

Photo courtesy of

Two years ago we got bids to renovate the kitchen, the main floor and the entire outside of the house including a new front porch. We couldn’t afford to do it all at once and decided to make the curb appeal the priority. Anyway, I told my husband I would live with the existing kitchen for a few more years but I definitely needed more storage.

I started looking for an armoire or a cabinet or something to use in the interim and found this:

Yes, it was REALLY Cotton Candy pink.

SomeTHING was wrong with it (besides the color). I think it had a crack somewhere because it was like $500 for a solid, Stanley Furniture piece. Here it is in a stylized shot and in a new, coral color.  It’s truly a really solid piece of furniture.

I think this is the update from Cotton Candy pink.


















So, much to MM’s chagrin, I brought it home and it took up his garage space for a good four months. It was dark in there, the lighting was bad, and I  needed better weather to get it painted the color I wanted.

Eventually the weather turned warmer. I researched some waxing paint techniques and painted part of it with a turquoise (I can’t remember the name exactly) from Ace Hardware. We then bought a paint sprayer (which also came in handy to stain the kids’ playset) and painted the whole thing India Black by Ace Hardware.


See. It holds a ton. PS - I don't buy mass quantities of Cheezits. That's MM. He thinks we have 8 kids.










































It’s really served its purpose well. We use it. The kids slam the doors. The hardware has gotten beat up a bit, but I still love it. And as we think about truly renovating the kitchen I wonder what I can do with this awesome piece of furniture. I love the look of furniture in kitchens. It’s pretty European. Perhaps I will incorporate it in what we do . . . who knows? For now, I dig it.






Alone on Mother's Day

11 May

And that’s all I wanted . . . to be alone in my house on Mother’s Day. While I know in 1o years or less, I will really want to be with my kids on Mother’s Day because they won’t want to be around me anymore,  today I just asked to be alone for a few hours. In my house.

And I’m not doing anything special. I may take a 20-minute break to read a magazine but I’m working through the laundry and the bills and a hundred other things I have to do, but I’m doing them uninterrupted and at my own pace (which is much faster than when there are littles around).

And instead of getting dressed up and taking my mother to an overcrowded restaurant, we are hitting some of our favorite antique haunts for the afternoon. My mom and I get to see each other a lot but rarely without my children. It will be a joy to spend time just the two of us doing something we both enjoy.

And I will spend time with the family later. We’ll have dinner and enjoy the evening, but for now, I’m enjoying the quiet and the space . . . of our home.

Got this that day. This little guy has a lot of what I love: red, tray, kitsch, a French vibe . . .


One-owner home = POTENTIAL

5 May

I came across this photo today while scouring the real estate listings in my zip code. I like to stay up on what’s on the market, what homes in my area are selling for, and basically play voyeur into people’s homes. I used to be looking for myself but that’s a story for another post. Now, it’s just a hobby.

Anyway, I came across this gem just now and had to share. This was listed as a “one-owner home” and it was built in 1955.

I can't tell from the photo what is on that wallpaper but I love it.












This is quintessentially what this blog is all about. LOOK AT THIS KITCHEN! It is a riot, but guess what? There is major potential there. Yes, you could rip it all out and start fresh,  but you could also remove the little peninsula island, update the countertops, change out appliances and add molding, new pulls and paint the cabinets. Sounds like a lot of work,  but think of the outcome.

I wish, oh how I wish, I had oodles of money. I would buy this sucker up and have so much fun taking its solid bones and making something divine out of it.

Check out the bathroom.

I love that nothing has changed in this house.










I have this same master bathroom. I am sad to report that the pink tile is still there (and that tile is as solid as it gets). The master bathroom/bedroom is a last priority in our household. We did change the mirror, sink, toilet and painted the vanity but otherwise, it’s AWFULLY similar.

But back to the potential. Look at these wood floors.

Whoever ends up with this home is lucky that the fireplace is actually centered on the wall. Some of us deal with corner units and off-center situations.













Wood floors were standard in homes in the 1950s. Even though wall-t0-wall carpet was the rage, you couldn’t get FHA loans without wood floors. Thus, many of these homes have pristine wood floors under old carpet. That was the case in our upstairs. We took out all of the carpet (I think carpet’s pretty gross anyway) a few years ago, and I’d never go back.

And look at this room.

Looking onto a near 1/2 acre lot--another advantage to an older neighborhood. Good lot sizes!










I really dig this room, but I’m also so wanting a screen porch right now. This sun room could be used all year and think of how awesome it could look  with a sisal rug, white-painted wood trim, comfy furniture and warm lighting.

All it takes, People, is vision . . . vision! Do you have it?

Ode to the split-level home

3 May

Split level houses became very popular in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, as a compromise between the modest bungalow and the more expansive ranch house. Realtor magazine says that split levels evolved from ranch homes, which had evolved from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie house style. I took the above information from here on ShelterPop and a post about The Brady House. There appears to be some controversy over whether the ranch really evolved from FLW, but regardless, you didn’t see many split-levels or ranches before the 1950s.

Let’s face it–the Brady house is not pretty. In general, I don’t think split-level and multi-level homes like mine are pretty, but they do have their advantages. For instance, last Friday I was inspired to host a Watch Party for the Royal Wedding. I am a morning person and I work out with other morning people so the guest list was relatively small (about seven women and one British man who lives across the street. The Brit was there to answer any questions we had during the ceremony. Oh, and he brought English Tea. 🙂

Since we live in the Midwest, the wedding started at 5 a.m. for us, so our group gathered at 4:45 a.m. (I wasn’t about to watch it on a DVR or a Tivo–I wanted to experience it live, just like I did Diana’s wedding at 9 years old and her funeral many years later). With my husband, a six-year-old and three-year-old snuggled asleep in their beds upstairs, I simply opened the garage and invited my pajama-clad group into the basement. We did wear, of course, hats and drink out of my china.

This is post-party. I had a silver platter with fruit too but it wasn't so pretty after the fact.










We enjoyed the festivities, spoke in our normal voices, and never once woke up anyone upstairs. The party was over and everyone was gone before most of my family woke up. I think this would have been rather difficult in another style where people would have had to walk through a main family area to get to the basement. So, although, I often curse the not-so-charming aspects of my 1950s home, in this case, I was pleased. It was great, or to put it like the Royals might,  quite brilliant really.

A Centerpiece pour moi

26 Apr

I was inspired the other day by this post from Mary Carol Garrity and her Nell Hill’s Blog. If you’re not familiar with Mary Carol (which is such a classic name) and her Nell Hill’s stores in both Kansas City and the original in Atchison, Kansas, you should be. Her decorating books are quick and beautiful reads. She’s a master at traditional design, and although I tend to fall in a more country eclectic vibe, I do get inspired by her talent. Specifically this photo

From the Nell Hill's Blog

got me to thinking about my small collection of garden statues. I picked up a couple goodies last year when one of our neighbors was clearing out. She was the neighbor who had overdone the garden art and the landscaping rock and the flowers and the rod iron and the bright white fence, and you get the picture. In a word, the house was over-accessorized. I walked by it all the time and dreamed of a huge “editing” session. Take out 90 percent of the schtuff and it was a nice brick house. Anyway, last year they decided to downsize and had a massive estate sale. It was fun to watch everyone do the editing for them, and I got a couple of her concrete garden statues for $25 a piece. I thought the price was decent plus it’s fun to have a little piece of that place. So I put together this little coffee table art for Easter.

The statue is meant to be part of a fountain but I find it charming on its own.

Of course, nobody ever even left the kitchen/dining room during Easter so it was a little futile, but I enjoyed putting it together and was proud of the result. The daffodils were a $10 tin at Trader Joe’s and the Violas are a $2 six-pack from the grocery store. The moss and eggs came from a craft store.

I took this photo when the light was streaming in and thought it looked pretty.


Except for that cutie watching the tube, the house looks a little junky in the background.


So even though I probably spent way too much time on this little project and even though nobody really commented on it until I forced them to, it still made me happy. And that’s really what matters. Isn’t it?


23 Apr

Not sure where the last week has gone but we’ve been back from Chicago for a few days and I’m just getting to transferring the photos. We made it to Andersonville on Sunday and had a leisurely and delightful breakfast at a Swedish diner called Svea. We then spent much of the afternoon wandering the main street shops and imagining what it would be like to live in a big city neighborhood like this one.

There was plenty of inspiration in a shop called Marguerite Gardens. The place smelled fabulous and it was amazing to see so many “basics” from my garden looked so much better in clear glass containers paired with like colors. I’m not good at clipping things that I get used to seeing, so it was inspiring to see them in this light.

Probably my favorite store was Four Sided. I loved it in there and we spent a lot of time browsing. They had tons of educational alphabet cards and lots of school maps. This was all paired with whimsical modern stuff and a lot of humor.

I bought a few of these cards and have a project in mind for my son's room.

I also resisted these hilarious cardboard busts but may have to track the rhino down after all. I’ve been thinking about him.

But actually one of the best parts of this trip was being reminded that my favorite part about antiquing and flea market shopping is staying away from the places where somebody’s done the fun part already (found the stuff) and have done an amazing job merchandising and displaying their wares. Although that’s fun for inspiration . . .

From the all-inspiring, "move me in" Brimfield

For example, it was fun to see these mid-Century chairs that Jonell bought last year for $15 a piece, all hip and merchandised beautifully.

But it was most fun to send her this photo so she could relish in her find.