Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top Posts of 2011

It was not until I started looking back through my posts that I realized just how much we have accomplished this year! Our house is definitely well on the way to becoming the home we have always dreamed of.
According to the pageviews for my blog, the following were the most viewed posts from this year:

1.Architectural Art
This project consumed most of my year as I was very busy making these for several family members, co-workers, every wedding/shower we attended and even a few anniversaries.

I changed it up a little bit at the end of the year by creating similiar pieces using photographs of different tools, which I gifted to my nephews for Christmas.

2.Thomas Train Birthday Party
This was one of the most fun projects I did all year. It is absolutely ridiculous the amount of money you could spend in decorating for a party and feeding the guests. I think that it is so much more fun and personal, not to mention cheaper, to be able to create the decorations myself.

3.Curb Appeal
Since moving into our current home, I have been less than thrilled with the curb appeal. I had contemplated painting the exterior of our home this summer to freshen up the curb appeal and also camouflage some of the flaws. Fortunately, we were able to update the curb appeal with brand new vinyl siding and a new roof! This is one of the most amazing transformations that our home has undergone in the 2 years that we have owned it!

4.Living Room Changes
A change to the curtains in our living room resulted in painting it for the 3rd time in the past two years! We also bought 2 new sofas! The room has come a long way since we first moved in!

5. Dramatic Dining Room Color
Finding a gallon of "oops" paint prompted a drastic color change in our dining room!

6. Landscaping
After 2 years in our current house, we finally spent some time working on cleaning up the landscaping around our house. A large bush on our lot was replaced with a much cleaner looking rock garden. We also trimmed several trees and cleaned up the flower beds in front of our house.

7. Gallery Wall I have wanted a gallery wall for awhile and this year I found a perfect spot to put one in our basement stairwell. My mom was over recently and said that it took her 10 minutes to get up the stairs. I remarked that it was because of her recent knee surgery and difficulty getting up the stairs. She immediately responded, "No, I was busy taking in all of the photos on the stairs!"

8. Fall Topiary Update
I loved the pumpkin topiary that I created last year, but this one was even better!

9. Safari Themed Baby Shower
Planning my sister-in-laws baby shower was a jumpstart to my creativity after taking several weeks off! Here you can see some of the fun shower games and decor ideas that could be used for a baby girl or boy!

10. Little Mermaid Birthday Party
Check out how I made everything from invitations to decor and a cake for my little girls' Little Mermaid themed birthday party.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The boys who have everything

I have difficulty every year thinking of something unique to get for my nephews. They are totally into anything motorized (trucks, tractors, equipment and trains) and love helping their dad fix or work on anything from house to car repairs. Over the past 3 and 2 years of their young lives, they have acquired almost every toy truck, tractor and train you can imagine from the itty bitty, to practically life sized. And their obsession is not just limited to toys. If there is a shirt or piece of clothing with these things, they have that as well!
With large families on both sides, it is even more difficult to get something unique or special. I began thinking about Christmas early this year and decided to incorporate some of my letter art into my Christmas gifts, but the architectural letters were not exactly going to impress these two. So this summer, I began looking through the garage for tools that could look like the letters in their names. Neither my husband or I are very handy, but suprisingly, I was able to find tools to represent all of the letters of their names and then some.
Without further adieu, here is what I came up with for the boys who have everything:

I'm sure that it was not as exciting for them to open as some of the other gifts that they received this Christmas, but I hope that these personalized pieces of art will hang in their rooms and bring them joy long after all of the trucks and toys are packed away.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Open House

I have had most of the decor up around our house for several weeks. With Christmas around the corner, I thought that it was finally time to invite you in to take a look around.
I inherited some wood reindeer and a plastic santa from my mother after she cleaned out her garage this fall. With the addition of the deer, I decided to tweak my outdoor decor. I put icicle lights up on the roof, as I did last year. Instead of continuing the icicle lights along the deck railing, I placed the reindeer in our raised planter bed and strung lights between them to look like a lighted tree.

Santa stands near the door, that is decorated in red and green wreaths, to greet guests to our home.

The trees I bought for our porch several years ago, did not hold up very well in the wind and elements last year, so I moved them into our entry.

They add a little bit of sparkle when they are all lit up at night!

Just like last year, I hung a few ornaments from the light fixture in the entryway.

Our living room is right off of the entry, and the perfect place for our tree.

A few weeks after putting the tree up, we came home to this:

Fortunately, very few of our ornaments were broken! And I had an excuse to put the ornaments on a little more evenly (i.e. not all on the bottom 1/4 of the tree), as I could not let the kids help as they may step in or touch a broken glass ornament and get cut.
The living room also houses one of my favorite decorations, my Nativity set. It was a gift last year from my husband's grandmother. (I think that I kept it up until June last year because I didn't want to put it away!)

I hang our stockings from the fireplace in the living room every year. Because of my husband's obsession with very large electronics (we had to buy a 72" tv this year because the 60" just wasn't cutting it anymore), there is not much room for much besides our stocking holders. I finally added some fur letters to our stockings so that we can tell which one belongs to us without looking inside. I did uppercase letters for my husband and I and lower case letters for the kids.

My dining room is the same as last year, with my upcycled crib rail card holder and ornament centerpiece. I did add a fluffy coffee filter wreath to the window.

My kitchen is also complete with the addition of my holiday plates and mugs that I have used for years.

Last year, I decided to buy a few fake trees at the end of the season. One of those trees went upstairs in the hallway between my children's rooms. I had lots of silver, purple and blue ornaments that my husband and I had bought for our very first tree together. They have sat in storage all these years, because I decided to switch to a more traditional red, green and gold palette the next year. The silver, purple and blue looks very icy and wintery on a white tree.

I diy'ed a silver tinsel garland for the topper, trimmed a tree skirt in more silver garland and also made some star ornaments out of a baking dishes like Nike from Thrive.
With that, my Christmas Open House has come to the end. I hope you enjoyed your peek into our holiday decor. I want to thank you for taking a look around and also wish you a very Happy Holidays!

Christmas Questionnaire

I have seen this questionnaire on several blogs that I read and thought that it would be a fun way to ease into some blogging for the Holidays. Here goes:

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Hot chocolate for sure!

2. Does santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Santa always wraps them. It doesn't feel like Christmas unless you are surrounded by tons of pieces of beautiful wrapping paper!

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? I like white lights, especially icicle lights. I have several sets that I use on the front of our house.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? Never.

5. When do you put your decorations up? Soon after Thanksgiving. My mom always tells me that I need to wait until after my birthday, December 4th, but because we buy a real tree the weekend of Thanksgiving, we start before then.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish? My family is very non-traditional as far as food goes, so my favorite is my mom's homemade chicken noodle soup.

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child? I love that we each took turns opening gifts one by one. There were five kids, so some years, it took us hours to open everything, but it was really nice to be able to see everyone's reaction to each gift!

8. When and how did you learn the truth about santa? I think that I was in about 5th grade. My friends revealed the secret and my mom confirmed it. I was devastated but put on a happy face for my 4 younger siblings.

9. Do you open a gift on christmas eve? not usually.

10. How do you decorate your christmas tree? with red, green and gold ornaments. Lots of our ornaments are hand me downs from parents and grandparents from when my husband and I were younger. We also have several sentimental ornaments celebrating the timeline of our lives together, marriage, 1st house, moving, pregnancy and babies.

11. Snow! love it or dread it? I love it for Christmas! If it could snow Christmas eve and then melt and not return until the next year that would be just fine with me!

12. Can you ice skate? I have never tried, but would believe that I would not be any good as roller skating was a very dangerous sport for me!

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? I got a typewriter one year for Christmas and spent days in my room typing up my own stories and poems.

14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you? Spending time with family! My husband and I are both the oldest children in our families and are very close to our parents and siblings. Luckily, my family waits to celebrate Christmas
until January, while we get together with Randy's family on Christmas eve and Christmas day. This way we are not rushed and get to really enjoy the time we have with each of our families.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? I love the candies that my family gets together every year to make including peanut butter and cocunut bon bons, peanut brittle, and cookies.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? It would have to be picking out and decorating our live tree. Since meeting my husband, I have taken part in their tradition of getting a real tree. We go the week or so after Thanksgiving to pick our tree and set it up soon after.

17. What tops your tree? A Fanciful Flights Angel. I collect Fanciful Flights sculptures and was so ecstatic to find the tree topper.

18. Which do you prefer: giving or receiving? Definitely giving! I have made a few handmade gifts over the years, and those are definitely fun to give!

19. Candy canes: yuck or yum? Rainbow candy canes are good, but I would rather waste the calories on something chocolate!

20. Favorite christmas show? The classics: Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman.

21. Saddest christmas song? Christmas Shoes, but I love it!

22. What is your favorite christmas song? Mariah Carey's "All I want for Christmas is You", Mannheim Steamroller and Feliz Navidad. I have a very ecclectic taste in Christmas music, but those are my favorites to sing along to! I'll listen to Holiday Music from Thanksgiving until well after Christmas, I can't get enough of it!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Safari themed baby shower

I have not done very much crafting lately because I did not have the energy for it and did not have any projects that I was very enthusiastic to start. After several weeks off, I had the itch to craft and I jumped at the opportunity to do the decorations for my sister-in-laws baby shower. They knew that they were having a boy and the nursery was decorated with a safari theme, so the theme for the shower was a no-brainer. I knew immediately that I wanted to make a baby shower wreath to welcome everyone upon their arrival. I purchased a wreath form and covered it in blue ballons, just like I did for my birthday ballon wreath. Once the wreath was completely covered, I wrapped it with a safari ribbon. I attached a letter "C" for the name they have chosen and placed a monkey cut out in the center. The best part about the wreath, is that they can hang it at their house to announce the arrival of their little bundle!

I also knew that I wanted to make a baby shower penant banner. I purchased a large book of animal print scrapbook papers at Michaels for 50% off, getting more than 100 sheets of paper for around $10, much cheaper than buying individual sheets of paper. I cut the penants out of coordinating colors and patterns, adding letters that I cut using my fiskars circle cutter and templates.
I happened to find a Noah's Ark die cut template pack at Dollar Store that included die cuts of a hippo, lion and giraffe. I used more of the scrapbook paper and cut out several of each animal to hang on the walls.

For the table centerpieces, I gathered all of the safari type stuffed animals in my house and paired them with safari printed bottles and children's dishes filled with M&M's. The bottles were little more than $1 apiece at WalMart. The bowls were $1 for 2 at WalMart and $1 apiece for a travel bowl with lid at Dollar Store. Again, these decorations served dual purpose, as I sent them home with the mother-to-be after the party.

Finally, I prepared a game where the guests had to match the animal with the average length of gestation and printed it in a paper with an animal print border. I found the paper at WalMart and believe that it was $3 for about 25 sheets. The game was pretty difficult, which worked well for my family because they like to cheat! Seriously, my aunts are always causing a ruckus at our family events like this because they get overly involved in the game and trying to win. Yes, we are that family! They actually egged my niece on to give Ashley a hug so that they could measure how far her arms went around to cut their string for the belly band game!
My sister in law got lots of wonderful gifts! My favorite was this handmade piggy bank that featured a dinosaur and baby's name painted on the side. It was so cute!

My proud brother showed up at the end to thank everyone and to help load up all of the goodies! I can't wait to meet their little guy!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Secret Revealed

I have been keeping a little secret!

We are expecting our third child in June 2012!

When we were pregnant with our first child, we also happened to be moving to my homeotwn and looking for houses. My mom and sister were going to open houses with us one Sunday and I told them, "We better find something soon because we will only have 9 months to get it ready." It was only a minute before it clicked and they both started screaming and crying!
When we were pregnant the second time, our oldest got in on revealing the secret. I happened to find a big sister shirt at a garage sale that was the perfect size. She wore it the next time we went to visit our parents, who were ecstatic at the news.
This past summer, while reading a blog, I came upon this idea for a skeleton t-shirt with a fetus to reveal a pregnancy and thought that it would fun. I bookmarked it and hoped that it would work in our time frame to reveal the pregnancy we were planning.
I was ecstatic when I found out in early October that I was indeed pregnant and immediately got to work on my own version of the shirt for upcoming Halloween festivities. Unfortunately, I do not own a silhouette machine, but I was not about to let that stop me. I found an image of a rib cage online and blew it up on my printer. I then cut out the image and traced it onto some scrap fabric. I did the same with an image of a fetus. I then cut out both images and placed them on a black shirt I rarely wore. After getting the placement just right, I pinned them in place and sewed them in place.
I wore the shirt when I went to visit my family just before Halloween. My mom thought that it was absolutely adorable. My brothers needed an explanation of the shirt! Everybody was so taken by suprise and so happy for us.

I have been feeling pretty good for the most part. I feel very nauseous around mealtimes and have no appetite for anything other than very bland foods. I have also been very tired, no doubt due to having two very active children to run after. The other day after work, dinner, cleaning up and bath time, I lay in bed with the kids to watch a movie. My husband walked in and exclaimed, "What, are you tired?" He is so suprised to see me like this because I am generally up later at night and out of bed earlier than him in the morning. It is funny because he is always telling me that I need to find a hobby so that I am too busy to decorate and paint the house. I remind him that the house is my hobby. I told him last night that keeping me pregnant would be one good way to keep me from doing any projects on the house because I have been too wiped to clean, let alone take on any crafty projects!

I have been working on a few things though and can't wait to show you!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wood, glass and vinly pumpkins, Oh my!

I may be going a little overboard with the pumpkins for fall, but I can't help it! I recently updated my pumpkin topiary with a little bit of greenery from the Dollar Store and I absolutely love it!

Then I found this little wood napkin holder at Goodwill for only $2.38.

I had my ceramic pumpkin and a fall table runner on the table before I found this little guy and it was a pain to take them on and off the table every time we ate.
The napkin holder is perfect because it allows me some decoration on the table, but it is practical because I do not have to take a ton of stuff off of the table every time we use it!
Next up are my glass pumpkins, which I made last year and never showed off. I originally saw these in Family Fun magazine and followed the tutorial to make my own. When researching to find the original article, I happened upon this blog that gives a good tutorial using crepe paper instead of tissue paper.

Basically, you cut tissue paper into strips and then modge podge it to the outside of a glass jar. I had some random Ball jars, orange tissue paper and black construction paper on hand and whipped these up in about an hour. I love the glow they give off with a tea light!

The magazine article also pictured a Frankenstein using green tissue paper, but you could do so many different things, like candy corn, a witch, or even a ghost. So fun and cute! This would be a great project to get the kids involved in as well.
Finally, while cleaning out my mom's garage this past weekend, I happened to find some white dryer duct. My mom told me to toss it, but I walked past the trash can to my car. My family thought that I was nuts to want to keep it, but they knew that I would have something up my sleeve! I saw these adorable pumpkins that Allison at House of Hepworths made out of aluminum dryer duct and spray painted orange. The dryer duct that I had was white vinyl. I love the look of white pumpkins, so I decided to make one first and spray paint it later if I did not like the white. I decided to use materials that I had on hand, so I cut a toilet paper roll in half and rolled it up to make the stem. Then I tied some green gift ribbon around the stem and curled it using my scissors. Finally, I hot glued a leaf (leftover from my topiary project) to the top.

I had enough dryer duct to make 4 pumpkins, though one was kind of short and I burned my fingers trying to pull the two ends together. It was totally worth it! I love the look of the white pumpkins, but I especially love that this whole project cost me absolutely nothing!
I am linking this post to Allison's Hooking up with HOH party.
What fall decorations have you made lately? I would love to hear about them!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fall Topiary- A Revision

Last year I made a fall topiary using 3 different sized faux pumpkins and a clay pot. I cut out the stems on the larger bottom pumpkins, hot glued them on top of each other and set the topiary in a pot. It was just the kind of project that I love, quick and with immediate gratification. I loved it! The only problem was that my topiary did not fair well in the home I intended for it. From the time that I first saw the topiaries on another blog, I imagined 2 topiaries, 1 on either side of our front door. Unfortunately, our front door is not very well protected from the elements and the topiary that I made was constantly being blown over and I had to retrieve the pumpkins from rolling all around the front yard!
When I pulled the pumpkins out of the basement to use this year, I immediately glued them together using some liquid nails adhesive. Though the bond felt much stronger, I did not like how you could see the ring of glue around each layer.

I thought about tying some ribbon around each layer to disguise the glue and then I saw a topiary with large leaves layered between each of the pumpkins and a lightbulb went off. I ran to the Dollar Store and bought two different colored strands of leaves. Then I cut the leaves off at the stems and arranged them by color. Finally, I hot glued large leaves around the pumpkins and filled in with smaller leaves on top.

As much as I loved the simplicity of the first topiary, I love this one even more! I have found a home for it in our entryway where all of our guests can see and enjoy it when they come to visit.
I'm so glad that fall is finally here! I have most of my fall decor out, but have a few things that I am hoping to add this year. Stay tuned for a few different diy pumpkins.

Monday, September 12, 2011

More Architectural Art

Over the summer I worked on expanding my letter library for architectural art. I do plan on trying to sell some pieces as soon as I have a variety of letters to choose from. I found that the best way to build up my library was to make architectural art for friends and family members. This allows me to see how the pieces will look and also to practice on technique and see what my actual cost will be.
My mom requested one after I gave my sister the first one that I made in our family gift exchange last Christmas. It only took me nine months, but I finally finished one for her:

Next, I made one for my brother and sister-in-law who are celebrating their 1 year anniversary.

My mother-in-law requested one after I gifted one to my brother and sister-in-law for their recent wedding. I did not want to use the exact same letters, so I came up with a plan to use architectural letter photos from their favorite vacation spot, Pensacola, FL. While on vacation there in March I captured most of the letters that I needed, and filled in with photos of letters that I took near our home on the river:

Finally, Randy and I had a Couples Shower this past weekend. I knew that I wanted to make an architectural art piece for them because it is so unique and personal.

All of the recipients loved their personalized piece, but not as much as I enjoyed making and gifting them!