My 2016 Christmas Cards

Christmas has come and gone, but I thought it would be fun to stretch it out a little bit more with this behind the scenes look at how I put together my Christmas cards this year. It was a lot of fun and I was very pleased with how they came out.

I started out by making the ornaments. This was the most time consuming part of the process, but since I wanted this to be the main feature, it was worth the effort. Using a design that I had adapted from my favorite vintage ornament box, I printed a full sheet of the ornaments, with Silhouette crop marks, at a copy center using toner based ink. Then I used the print and cut feature on my silhouette cameo to read the crop marks and die cut my ornaments.

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After they were cut, I used my Minc machine to add gorgeous red foil to the design. You can check out a little video of them over on my Instagram. Then I just added a simple twine bow, and they were ready to go! Next I cut the background pieces, some woodgrain, and some green, as well as the pine branches.

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Then, it was time to heat emboss my sentiment on the back of the card with a cute stamp from a Cavallini Christmas set. I made sure to treat the surface with my powder tool first to cut down on unwanted powder sticking, then stamped with my Versamark watermark ink pad, before adding red embossing powder. I usually repeat these steps until I have several cards ready, then heat them in batches.

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To add some dimension to the card base, I backed my green and woodgrain shapes with craft foam and adhered with a tape runner.

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Finally I could assemble the parts and add some embellishments. I attached the ornament with a foam square for even more dimension, and tucked my paper branches around it with a few dabs from a glue stick.

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I added the sequins with tacky glue, to give it a little extra sparkle.

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And there you have it! Thanks for stopping by. I hope to share more behind the scenes looks with you in the coming year, so stay tuned!

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My Holiday Home 2015

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If you read my Holiday 2014 post, you will probably recognize a lot of the same decor, but my collection has grown a bit over the year and I was very excited to add some new things! I will keep this post heavy on the photos, and light on the words as it is really about the eye candy anyway.

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I always put my white dove in the tree. It is the only non glass ornament on the tree, and I think it adds something special to it.

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There is an endless variety when it comes to vintage ornaments. So many unique colors, illustrations, shapes, sizes and textures.

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Here’s a secret: this gold bell is the only one that isn’t vintage. It was a wedding gift from my Aunt. I love the symbolism and it fits in very well with the rest of the tree.

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There is clearly a lot going on in this tree, but when you step back it all looks very uniform and polished. I love how they come together. Of course, I have far too many in my collection to put on the tree, so I have to find other ways of showing them off.

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Some of them don’t even come out of the box because they look so nice all together.

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I even sneak some of the ornaments into the kitchen.

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The Kennedys were feeling festive this year too.

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Here we are on Christmas day! Happy Holidays Everyone!

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My New Favorite Room

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My new favorite room isn’t actually a room at all. I’ve been hard at work decorating a formerly wasted space at my house- the front porch. Since we bought the house we talked of how nice it would be to relax on our front porch, but we have never actually spent much time out there as we had intended. I set out a couple of chairs, but it wasn’t very comfortable, or much to look at. This year it has been my goal to create a welcoming and comfortable space and I have definitely achieved that.

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Our porch is as wide as our living room, with a roof over it to protect you from the elements. It just seemed silly not to be using it, but these things take time. Our year began with a very long and harsh winter, but it gave me time to hunt and squirrel away various pieces for the project. It was so hard to be patient waiting to get to planting season, and once it arrived I just went nuts. I have never had much luck with houseplants, but after successfully growing outdoor plants over the last couple seasons I felt confident enough to branch out a little more.

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I created a cute little side table from a plant stand and a lazy susan.

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Colanders make excellent hanging planters since they already have great drainage and are interesting to look at.

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Old tins are also a favorite of mine for planting in.

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Any container can become a planter.

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Of course I have to add in some whimsical critters.

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Some cute details were already there, such as our shutters, and this sweet little doorbell. Aged to perfection with its chippy red paint.

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Things are happily blooming all over.

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We are looking forward to spending the rest of the summer relaxing in our colorful new space.

Kitchen Refresh

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This is a project I have wanted to tackle since we moved in, but it just seemed too overwhelming. I invite you to take a look back at my previous kitchen post to refresh your memory of how it looked. I thought that everything needed to be changed, and it would all be a domino affect resulting in a gutted kitchen and far too many $$ dollar signs. Then I thought maybe I should try to just paint it, but couldn’t decide on and commit to a color. Plus, I just wasn’t happy with the cabinets, but the daunting task of painting them was a prospect that kept me shying away from the project all together.

As the 2015 New Year holiday approached I was suddenly struck with motivation. The notion of a “fresh start” was at the forefront of everyone’s minds, and I decided that it was time to make a change. I wanted a clean slate for the kitchen, so I decided to go with white. Fresh white ceiling, clean white walls, crisp white trim. I enlisted the help of a few of my amazing friends and family to devote one day of their long holiday weekend to a major workout in my kitchen. It was not an easy job, but we managed to get about 75% of it done. That last 25% stretched out over the coming week or so, specifically the ceiling and the trim. This is the part where having an unbelievable patient and tolerant husband became my biggest asset. This project was my crazy, spur-of-the-moment idea that I dragged him into and now our kitchen was a mess of rags, rollers, and plastic sheets, not to mention all the furniture pushed to the center of the room. Yes, the home stretch was the toughest part of the painting journey, but every step of the way none of us could seem to stop exclaiming “this looks so much better!” The work was worth it, and the result was a better than expected transformation.

Never underestimate what painting the walls can do for a room. I feared that the bright white paint could end up accentuating other areas in need of an update, but it did just the opposite! Suddenly the cabinets seemed less dark and dingy, the counter seemed newer, and the overall yellow haze that had saturated the room was lifted. Everything just looks cleaner.

(Let me make a side-note here to talk a little bit about painting prep and equipment. First of all, choosing a white paint is hard. I would say it is harder than picking out any other color of paint, so be prepared and set aside time. The other big learning curve for this project came from my bright idea to try out a painting tool I had never used called the HomeRight EZ Twist Paint Stick. This is basically a roller attached to a pole which holds the paint inside of it to dispense as you go, eliminating the need for a tray and designed to cut down your painting time. I thought it would be particularly helpful to use on the ceiling. I read reviews. I watched videos. It turned out to be a bad choice for this project, and here is why; I am only 5’1″, my ceiling is 8′. Though I could easily reach the ceiling with the length of the pole, my center of gravity was still too low for me to get the leverage I needed to accurately push the roller to evenly dispense the paint, plus, the added weight of the paint filled tube tired my arms out too quickly. If you are of a more average height and have good upper body strength, this tool might actually be helpful, but it is still a lot of extra work to clean up. In my opinion, just stay away from fancy gadgets and stick with the classic equipment. )

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So, now you are wondering, if I painted the kitchen in January, why am I just now showcasing it here? While I often set my mind to large projects and tackle them in a timely manner it is often those little details that I get hung up on that tend to drag things out. Even since I took photos there are a few little things I have tweaked or am in the process of fixing but for goodness sake, it is May already! I just had to stop making excuses.

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We added cabinet hardware where there was none before. A very subtle change that, in my opinion, makes a huge difference in functionality on a daily basis. We chose chrome pulls that were salvaged from a 1950s kitchen, which turned out to be another challenge because they did not match up with standard size drilling template we bought. It just made for more hardware store trips, marking, measuring, and margin for error on our part. Once again, a project that dragged out for too long, but sometimes you have to go the extra mile to get those details just right.

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I have to laugh when I think about the cycle of changes this house has undergone. It was built in 1961 (my favorite style era) then everything was updated in the mid 1980s (my least favorite style era.) So here I am, scavenging and dragging back in all of these mid century relics to furnish my home more like a home would have been back then which the previous owner clearly tried so hard to more away from. But, this is the story for so many homes isn’t it? You can’t anticipate what the next owner will appreciate; you just have to make it right for you.

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And here we have the holy grail. My Jadeite collection is the crown jewel of my kitchen. It is sprinkled all around the room, but the highest concentration of it resides safely nestled in my sturdy china hutch, which we inherited from Chris’ grandmother.

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 I have a healthy mix of old and new pieces, mostly old, which blend together quite well. I like having a variety of shapes and textures. The older pieces are definitely the most fun to find, because they have a history to them. The two swirl bowls in the upper left belonged to my grandparents. My mother grew up with them, I grew up with them, and now my grandmother passed them on to me so that I can continue to use them in my home. The smaller batter bowl on the bottom right (filled with corks) was a gift from Chris’ Father and his wife, who love to contribute to my collection. This piece in particular belonged to her grandmother.

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I keep a lot of other kitchen kitsch in amongst the Jadeite to add some color. One of my main goals during the kitchen refresh was to clear out a lot of my collection and adhere more strictly to a specific color palette of white, green and red with some yellow. I’ve been pretty good at sticking to it (with the one exception of the turquoise section above the cabinets. I just couldn’t resist!) My favorite motifs to add in are gingham and cherries. Both compliment the Jadeite well and are just so adorable!

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I have a fixation with pitchers, especially glass ones.  There just seem to be so many well designed ones out there, they become an art piece.

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 I think than any object can be an art piece if you showcase it the right way.

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And I love my little apron nook. The diner sign really completes this spot. (No, it isn’t actual neon, just plastic.) It was left hanging in the kitchen of a home my friend bought, and she gifted it to me!

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My sweet little shelf has a much bolder impact now that I thinned my collection to feature some repeating objects.

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I thought it would be fun to add some string lights to the top of the cabinets for a little evening mood lighting. The glassware really catches the light and casts some interesting shadows.

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And for those wondering about how difficult it is to keep an all white kitchen clean, I think it is much easier. Now I notice dirty areas right away, and spots wash off the walls without much scrubbing.

What a relief it is to check off yet another large home improvement project. I hope you enjoyed seeing the transformation as much as we have!

Mini Makeovers, with Plants!

I am not extremely gifted in the agriculture department, but I wanted to give it a go with some fun plants in the living room. They really do complete the look, and of course improving the air quality is a bonus! A couple months ago I was looking for something to hold a sansevieria (“snake plant”) and of course I wanted a mid century feel. I came across this beautiful project on Pinterest using an Ikea pot and some spray paint:

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My birthday had just passed and I had received a Visa gift card, so once again I was able to complete a fun little project without dipping much into my own pocket. The Pinterest link only led me to this photo and the name of the Ikea pot, CASHEWNÖT. The top and bottom of the pot separate, and you can style it two ways simply by turning the bottom part over. Since the bottom pan is not very big, one of the miniature sized spray paint cans was more than enough to cover the piece. And voilàA fabulous planter!

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When I purchased my super cool metal cart, I also picked up a mid century plastic plant pot for a mere 50¢. The burnt orange color was not bad, just not a color used in my current decorating palette. (Please don’t hate me for painting it!) I thought the geometric design was stunning, and would pop even more in white. Now that it is finished, it reminds me of the Disneyland building that houses It’s A Small World.

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I already had paint left over from another project, so the most expensive part ended up being the plant, which was only about $7.

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These were both small and simple projects, but they enhance the overall look of the room tremendously. Now I just have to try my best to keep them healthy!

A Vintage Makeover

If you are a regular blog reader or pinterest enthusiast, I am sure you have seen this all over the place:

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The Ikea RÅSKOG cart! Beautiful, isn’t it? Industrial look, great color, functional, easy to move, and even better, the price has gone down quite a bit since it first debuted. It currently retails for $49.99, making it a pretty affordable piece. Even still, I am a bargain hunter, vintage lover, and I can’t resist a project so when I saw a chance to make my own alternative I took it!

Last week I found a beautiful plant stand at an estate sale. I usually do not go to estate sales on the first day. I like to scoop up the half price leftovers and get the best deal. I took a chance on this one since it was on my way home from work, and their ad said they were open to “reasonable offers” on any day as they were motivated to sell. So glad I went! They really didn’t have any of the kitschy/crafty little junk I usually scavenge for, but they did have this gem:

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I just couldn’t believe that no one had snatched it up yet! It had such character and potential. They had it priced at $35, but I only paid $30. Not a big difference, but I wanted to shave a little bit more off since I knew I was going to need to buy some paint. Luckily, the top tray is detachable, which made the painting process much easier. The feet were also easy to remove, so I did not have to tape off anything. Each foot has a rollerball, so that the piece can glide. I cleaned and oiled them, so they do move, just not very smoothly.

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The big paint lesson I learned here was that I should have bought a cheaper can of white primer to start, then moved on to the color. Though the can did boast being paint and primer in one, I was going from black to light blue and a primer coat may have really helped save time and money. Always learning! The paint was very fast drying, which is ideal for outdoor painting since little critters can’t seem to stay away. This caterpillar was so happily nestled in, I felt bad moving him away!

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I ended up spending just under $11 for three cans of Krylon “Blue Ocean Breeze” paint. I could have used more for sure, as I skipped painting the underside of the shelves in an effort to save paint. So, my grand total for the project was about $41. When compared to the Ikea cart, my vintage piece is less expensive, more interesting and unique, and an overall better fit for my space.

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It is the perfect size to go in front of the window, which is something I had been hoping to find. The top comes in at sill-level,  and the height of the legs allow for the air flow from the vent. I always need more storage in my studio. I am still working on arranging items on the shelf, but I have plenty of things to choose from!

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I am just so happy with how this project came together!

Bottle Brush Trees

How did I celebrate Halloween? By doing Christmas crafts of course! I was bleaching and dying trees all day.

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I used new and vintage ones. The vintage ones definitely worked better, but I have not been finding many of them lately so I had to make a craft store run.

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And now I have a colorful forest!

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The crafting continues!